8th grade P.E. class brought fresh revelation. We were instructed to run around the track one time. Returning to the starting line, one by one Mrs. McDonald put on 10lb. chain belt around our waists. ”Now run again!” she hollered.
The extra weight was surprisingly difficult to carry. We’d barely made it a quarter of the way around the track when people began to walk, stop, sit down even! The point was made. Extra weight slowed the journey and made it impossible to run freely.
Do you have any today? Any extra weight that is preventing you from soaring? I do. Some days mine comes in the form of fear. Other times a strained relationship. And on another, a parenting dilemma. Just ask and I’ll give you the flavor of the day!
We often grab onto our chains and clutch them tightly against us. This gives us a false sense of control. Forgetting that the weight is heavy, or even present, we wear it day after day.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me.
Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28 (msg)
These are things I desire:
recovery, rest, grace, freedom, and lightness of heart.
And they can all be found by spending time with my Creator. When I am tired, worn out, burned out, HE is the answer. It really is that simple. Why do I make it so complicated? When I sit to open my Bible and heart to God, He shakes the chains from my white knuckle grip and bears the weight once so heavy. Weight preventing me from running my race.
And I walk freely. Lightly. All by keeping company with the one I call “Redeemer.”
There is a line in a song that keeps playing over and over in my head, “so I’ll shake off these heavy chains.” This visual is powerful to me. Close your eyes and listen. Whatever weighs you down today, open your heart and allow God to breathe new life into your weary soul.
My middle son bounded into the kitchen a couple of weeks ago bouncing a basketball in a red morph suit. Some moms might have wondered what was going on, not this one. Happenings like these are commonplace in my household.
Hudson announced, “I’m the new mascot for Daws’ (his brother’s) basketball team.”
I replied, “Oh really? When did this happen?”
“I just decided it.” he answered, and off he went to complete his mascotting attire.
What I love the most about this is that no one asked him to be a mascot. He was self appointed! He made himself at home on the team’s bench, does push ups or a diving slide when they score, and gives high fives to the boys as they come on and off the court. At the last game I think he got just as many cheers as the players. I mean, who doesn’t love an enthusiastic mascot?! Especially one in a morph suit?
We all could sure use a mascot in life! Someone to be on our home team and encourage us. We also can become someone’s mascot…. many people’s in fact.
Here are 5 Ways to be Someone’s Mascot:
1. Cheer…loudly! There are plenty of nay sayers out there. Let’s be people who truly “rejoice with those who rejoice.” What a gift to to be in someone’s corner. Someone who doesn’t see another’s success as a threat, but rather has self appointed themselves as #1 cheerleader! Now that’s unique!
2. Sit with them on their bench. Sometimes the power of another’s presence is enough. At times words don’t come, or seem artificial. But being side by side in critical moments matters. I remember a friend just laying across my lap, tears rolling down her face. No words were spoken, and being together was enough.
3. Build them up in front of others. The whole goal of a mascot is to promote a team in the presence of a crowd. To build team spirit. Let’s be people who build unity among others by lifting up the strengths of individuals. How much better is this approach than gossip? That tears down and pollutes all of those around it. This tactic builds and strengthens all involved.
4. Add fun to the mix. I’ve never met a mascot who wasn’t FUN. Think of ways to lighten life a little for another. Add levity by texting something funny, throwing a mini party, or leaving a little gift on the doorstep.
5. Circle the court. Mark Batterson’s book, The Prayer Circle, talks about praying circles around our dreams and around people. One of the greatest gifts we can give others is to PRAY FOR THEM. One time, while doing a favor for a friend in her house, I walked room by room and prayed for her family. It was a gift to me and to her to cover their house in prayer, though she doesn’t even know I did it.
Being a mascot takes some effort and energy, but the rewards will be joy, strengthened relationships, and love.
Think of one person right now who needs some encouragement, or who you just want to pick to be their mascot over the next 2 weeks:
After these 2 weeks, if there hasn’t been something special that happens as a result of your efforts, then let’s pack up this blog and throw in the towel. But my guess is that you will both experience meaningful and rewarding connection. Pick that person and start mascotting (if that’s even a word)!
Have you ever had someone who acted as a mascot in your life? I’d love to hear ideas on how people have done this.
I’m trying to pick a logo for a new project I’m doing, and I’ve been rating the designs daily. Designers work on their images, then I judge their work – a 1 star here, a 5 star there. We do this with everything: restaurants, hotels, websites, movies, books, toys…and yes, people. There was a patient I heard of last week who refused to go to a recommended doctor because of an online rating of that health care provider. The patient had never laid eyes on this doctor and did not know him.
How often do we look at others, and, in a split second, rate them? The value we assign is the amount of time, attention, and care we give to each. For example, if in our minds, an individual is a one star, we will not care much about their life and will be bothered if she tries to take up much of our time. If a five star comes along, fluff the red carpet, because we will gladly set aside our own agenda to roll it out for her.
We can assess people in seconds, can’t we? Unstylish? Dock 2 stars. Too loud? Minus 1. Pretty? Add 1. Overweight? Dock 3. Well known? Add 4. Just plain difficult to be around? Take away all 5. My friend, who had been a brunette all of her life, changed her hair color to blonde and was treated better than she’d ever been. Blonde? Add 3!
We have all felt rated at one point or another, and we have all rated others. In both, someone is always on the losing end.
How thankful I am that God doesn’t approach us with the same critical eye. In God’s economy, we’re all 5 star! In fact, it was often the ones that were considered 1 stars that Jesus focused on the most. After addressing favoritism in James 2, the Bible says, “Kind mercy wins over harsh judgement, every time.” What if we stopped looking at people as if they were a standard to be rated, and started seeing each person as a unique, divinely created masterpiece? What would happen in our daily, walking around, connection experience if we began to see everyone as a 5 star rating?
My husband is one of the best at practicing this concept. Whenever I bring up a name of someone or a family, most of the time he says “LOVE the (fill in the name)!” And he truly means it! Instead of the first thought being judgement, he thinks kind mercy. Now that is the type of person I want to strive to be! I know I have failed at this. Mistakes have been made (check, check). But today….Yes, TODAY, I get to wake up and make a decision about every person I meet. A decision to look at them as God does, not a rating.
5 Ways to a 5 Star Rating
1. Look at life from the other’s perspective
2. Treat every person the way you would want to be treated
3. Ask God to give you an impartial heart toward everyone you will encounter today
4. Pray for people as you go (try it — even the person checking out your groceries or the co-worker who is difficult)
5. SMILE & encourage. It really does work!
Have you ever met someone who seemed to consider everyone as a 5 star rating? How did that person do it? How do you feel around him/her?
I was dragging on the tread mill this morning at a hotel, not having slept well. I decided to cut my run by 10 min. and cut myself some slack, but when I got to the shortened time, I felt nudged to keep going. My body was telling me to stop, but my brain declared I could do more, “Go further than you think you can today. Push beyond what you have told yourself you can do.” So I did. I kept running. And you know what? I could totally do that 10 more minutes — and more. How often do we stop short of things because we don’t believe we can? How often are we limited by the boundary lines we have drawn ourselves, never venturing beyond those walls of safety?
I’ve been at the Re-Write Conference for the past couple of days, listening to such giants as Ken Blanchard, Peter Strople, Paul Young, George Barna, Mark Batterson, Mary DeMuth, and several others who are making a big impact in their realms. A common thread is that they propel others forward toward something bigger and greater, outside of the boxes that have been created. They have lived this way themselves, and they encourage others to do likewise.
So, in what area do you need to throw off those bow lines and venture into new waters, leaving the safe harbor of what you know? For me it is in the area of writing. I’ve felt called for a long time to put pen to paper, but for many reasons have not. The timing seems right, and I have untied my rope. Name one area and commit to spending 15 minutes brainstorming how you can grow. Explore new ways to think about it, and fresh approaches. Refuse to stay the same. REFUSE TO STAY THE SAME. Risk boldly.
The other day my son looked at me and said, “Mom, I’d rather live a life of ‘oh wells’ than ‘what ifs.’” Pretty good for a 9 year old.
1. Write down the area in which you’d like to grow
2. Brainstorm ways you can improve in this or reach a specific goal
(ie. one of my dearest friends completed an ironman this past year. She set her goal, planned her training, and signed up for the race date. Other possibilities: attend a conference, read online about it, watch videos, get an accountability partner, etc.)
3. Make a concrete plan
(how often will you do it? what does it look like in your week to fit this in? how will you make sure you follow through?)
Life is meant to be lived in community. We are most fulfilled when relationships around us are meaningful, healthy, and loving. The special people we surround ourselves with are our traveling companions — joy for our journey through this world. Learning to pick these people wisely is important, for these will be the ones who help send us into flight, or clip our wings. Ecclesiastes tells us these people help us succeed in life. It means they actually desire success on our behalf.
I so want to be that for others on their journeys — to be a good traveling companion — especially to those who dwell under my own roof, and with whom I see regularly. I know I fail. I know I neglect things I shouldn’t, or do things that I shouldn’t. My sinful nature prevents me from traveling well with others more than I’d like, but this can’t and shouldn’t stop me from trying. In the midst of brokenness, I can choose TODAY to blow wind into the wings of those around me: my husband, my children, my extended family, my friends, even the people I brush up against in my coming and going. It’s a decision I get to make…or not make.
“Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) What? Did you get that? THE SAME as Jesus. I know…. it makes me squirm too. HOW, in heaven’s name?!?! The answer I’ve come to in processing this is one decision at a time. For this moment, I choose a gentle answer instead of anger. In this situation I choose silence over saying something damaging. Instead of just thinking something kind, I say it out loud to the person next to me. I choose forgiveness over holding short accounts. We have to take small steps and pray that in those daily decisions, God will reap bountiful harvest in our hearts and relationships. What makes traveling so rewarding is the journey – -one I hope to get better and better at over time.
If I had to live my life over, I would have talked less and listened more. I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded. I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth. I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed. I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains. I would have cried and laughed less while watching television – and more while watching life. I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband. I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day. I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime. Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle. When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.” There would have been more “I love you’s”.. More “I’m sorrys” … But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute… look at it and really see it … live it…and never give it back.
Pride is another source of critical judgments. Thinking that we are better than others, we set ourselves up as their judges and begin to catalog their failings and condemn their actions. As we saw earlier, when we do this we are imitating Satan by trying to play God (vv. 7, 12). Pride can also reveal itself in the inclination to believe that “I alone understand the truth about things.” I think that my beliefs, convictions, theology, and doctrines are true, and I look down on anyone who disagrees with me (cf. Gal. 5:26). Matthew 7:3-5 shows that self-righteousness is another root of critical judgments. When we have done something wrong but we do not want to admit it, one of the most natural things we do is to draw attention to and even magnify the failures of others.
A little plaque that my grandma gave me reads “Do small things with GREAT LOVE.” I’ve always said that it is the little things that make up big things. Profound huh? (LOL). But it’s true. It’s the note left on the bathroom mirror, the text of encouragement reflecting sincere friendship, the coffee brought unexpectedly, the hug given at the right moment, the little gift given because someone was thinking of you, the card left in the suitcase.
These are little gifts my sister put together for each one of my kids on Easter. Kendra is the best at the “little somethin’ somethin”” concept. The other day she gave me a leopard coffee cozy over a paper cup and wrote a message to me on the cup with a Sharpe. CUTEST EVER!! She is always so creative and I feel so loved because of her thoughtfulness.
This basket of joy showed up on my doorstep on May Day! It was left by an anonymous giver (though I know who it is ), but how creative, fun, and DARLING is this idea!!!? It completely brightened my day!!
“You are crazy!” and “I’d never do THAT,” have been comments that I’ve received over the last few weeks as I’ve shared with people about an upcoming trip I’m taking with my family. I’ve also heard, “That is amazing!” and “I’d love to do something similar!” A little background: I am going with my children to a language school in very rural Costa Rica where we will stay with a host-family without my husband (for a week). He will then fly down and join us, and we’ll spend some time traveling through the rain forests — ziplining through canopies, and dodging coral snakes as we hike to waterfalls and in proximity of an active volcano. It definitely falls under the heading of “Adventure Vacation.” The main reason we’re going is to see the host-family that I stayed with for a year 17 years ago (I taught in the schools). I can hardly wait to see these people from a tiny mountain town who were my adopted family that year and who continue to be near and dear to my heart. The comments that I’ve received have me thinking about the concept of RISK.
Really. It was my first year of teaching high school in Beaverton, OR and low and behold, I was “summoned” to serve on jury duty. When you are called to the jury in Portland, you have to sit there all day, whether you are chosen for a case or not! I was newly married and had no idea how to cook. It was the perfect opportunity. I bought a copy of “The New Basics” cookbook, which is as big as a Bible, and I read it cover to cover. These two ladies schooled me in everything from pureeing soups to identifying beef cuts to whipping up a chocolate mousse. This new world fascinated me. How could there be so much information about COOKING?
I call this experience my domestic “awakening.” I opened that book and have never looked back. Since then, I have been a diligent student of cooking, crafts, gardening, and decorating. These are some of my “passions,” and I’m happy to say that my family mostly benefits from them.
It can sometimes feel like there is no time to explore new areas of interest. We barely keep up on the day to day (believe me, I can relate to this)! However, growth enriches our lives and keeps us energized. My new area of interest is photography. I’ve been talking for a while about learning more about it. It’s time for a plan! Is there an area you would like to explore but haven’t had the time? or is there an area you would like to explore in greater depth?
Create an action plan below:
1. Identify on a piece of paper 1-3 areas you’d like to explore.
2. Find the “leading” books on these topics and order a couple. Websites like Amazon are wonderful for buying used books, and the reviews are helpful when making your selections.
3. Set aside time to learn about this new area. It could be an hour a week on a Saturday, or once a month. You may even luck out and get called to jury duty! If you do, you’ll be ready!
4. Get some accountability! Find a friend who wants to explore the same area, or who will ask you about your progress.