Last week, I touched on our gifts and talents, and how we should not lose heart in pursuit of our dreams. I told you a little bit about my background as a basketball player.
This week, I'd like to talk to you about what happens when we have to leave those dreams behind.
My gifts, hard work, and dedication, got me as far as a Division I college scholarship, only to become hurt and unable to complete my career, less than half way through my four years.
I will keep this brief for the sake of time, but any of you who have ever spent years; more than a decade even, working toward a very specific goal, know very well the disappointment and devastation that occurs when it is all so rapidly stripped from you. I will tell you, without exaggeration, that I felt like I was grieving the loss of a very close loved one. I was depressed. I was angry. And I was unable to turn to the one thing that provided therapy to me whenever I was hurting in the past; basketball.
Fortunately, at the very same time I was going through this life altering change, where every priority and every goal had to take a major shift, I found Jesus.
Now, listen, knowing Jesus did not spare me the heartache of this process. It did not suddenly take away all of my pain. If I am being honest, sometimes it made it harder. It left me with questions without answers.
Why would You give me such passion, such drive, such talent, only to stop me short?
What was the point of it all? I felt you leading me and guiding me in the pursuit of this dream, even before I really knew you. Why would you take it away?
Ok, I have repented. I am so sorry I put basketball first in my life for so long! But I get it now! Why won't you heal me and restore my career?
I felt broken, and I didn't even know who I was anymore, without this one thing I was inexplicably good at.
But I also felt God's presence. Instead of allowing my anger to distance myself from Him, I turned to Him. I cried to Him. I expressed that anger and hurt, and was even honest with Him about my doubts and questions for Him. It's not like I could hide it from Him anyway!
The whys are not always for us to know, but I do believe that in our brokenness, He will sometimes give us little glimpses.
Just less than a decade after my basketball career ended, I began homeschooling my first 2 children. I hadn't worked outside the home since having children, and though we had a tight budget, and went through some serious financial struggles, I didn't need to. You see, the one thing that separated me from my working mom friends (who really wanted to stay home, but couldn't afford to), was student loans.
A big WHAT IF, popped into my head. What if my dream for a basketball career was never meant to be about basketball? What if my basketball goals were always meant for something more?
Most of us have more than one dream, right? My word I loved basketball! But I always wanted to be a mommy too. In one dream I had an awesome career in basketball; however, in my dreams of motherhood, I was never working.
We are taught that God can use anything for good, and anything to glorify His name. He can use our very own dreams and goals as tools for His divine will. What if my brief college basketball career was designed to set me up as the wife and mother He called me to be, for the children He planned for me to have? This not only effects my life, but the lives of generation after generation which my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren will be a part of.
Dreams can change. Dreams can adapt. Dreams can be bigger than you ever imagined. Leaving a dream behind can hurt. We are not always privy to the bigger picture. In fact, we rarely see what is beyond those dreams, but the fact is, our earthly dreams are never meant to be anything other than temporary. You may not be able to see the bigger picture. Fix your eyes on Jesus. It will be difficult to let go of that dream you've held onto for so long, but you won't want to miss it when He hands you a new one.
Growing up, I was always the tall kid in class. For years I was the tallest one of both the boys and the girls, as well as one of the tallest on the basketball team.
This was problematic because my father taught me the ball handling skills of a point guard, otherwise known (as he would say), as ball handling skills every player should have. He believed in the fundamentals, and I had a natural talent and passion for them, which he was happy to nurture.
Then I played for coaches; many other coaches. And I was the big girl. That was where I fit. That was where I was told I belonged. Without much thought, all of my skills were tossed aside, because I didn't fit the preconceived notion of the tiny, speedy point guard.
But I still did the drills...every single day. I honed my skills. I competed against and challenged myself for speed. My dad researched new and unique drills I could try, once I had mastered others.
By my junior year, my dad had become coach of our high school team, and he did something none of my coaches before had done, he utilized my gifts. Also, he found and used the strengths of my teammates. He thought outside the box, and instead of putting players into a mold, and telling us to stay where we belonged, he redesigned our offenses to fit US. By my senior year, he took our little team of 8 girls; 1 who had never even played before that year, to the District Championship game, beating the 2nd ranked team in the state.
God had different plans for my future and basketball, but that's another story, for another day. Besides, this isn't really about basketball. See, the world will try to pigeon hole you. The world will try to put you in your place. Well-meaning people even, will try to tell you who you are, without even knowing, and if you're not careful, you might start to believe them.
The nail that stands out, gets hammered down. They think you should act a certain way, say certain things, be someone that fits their perfectly shaped puzzle. Often, going through life, through the motions, underutilized, your gifts wasted, can feel suffocating. People will try to nail you down, right where they think you should be, when you know you are destined for more.
Have faith. Don't lose heart. God didn't give you gifts just to sit on them. Maybe you need more practice. Maybe you need more direction. Maybe you just need to wait for God's timing. Maybe (definitely) you should pray, and ask God to show you how your gifts can best be utilized.
God invented thinking outside the box. When we think we have answers or solutions, He shows us a way we'd never thought of before. His ways are are not our own.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. ~Isaiah 55:8
He sees you. He knows you. He created the very dreams that are within you. So don't cast them aside, not even for the world.
How many times in your life, has a friend or acquaintance tried to tell you what a rotten person someone else is? Many times it is even a trusted friend, who may give you an account of this horribly hurtful thing someone else did to them. It is a classic she said/she said, with girls (in particular) in middle school and high school.
What I have learned, over the years, is that most people do not set out to lie to you. But still, most people do not tell the whole truth. We don't always remember completely accurate accounts of what transpired. We can't always state, verbatim, what someone else said to us in a heated discussion. Maybe they didn't say it to us at all, and something got lost in translation coming from someone else! More often than not, we can't remember exactly what a person said at all, but we do remember how they made us feel.
Here's the thing about feelings. Feelings are rarely an accurate portrayal of another person's character. I have known people (myself included) to become very hurt over honesty. Honesty can sting like nothing else, but a person being honest with you about how they feel, isn't necessarily trying to hurt you. Maybe they have poor timing, maybe they are not very eloquent with their words, or maybe they're a little too blunt. Maybe, what is their honest and truthful perception, isn't yours. But we often become quick to paint ourselves as victims of their villainous plots.
Often, the people with the greatest potential to hurt us, are the people that we love most in this world, and if we are too quick to jump to conclusions and allow our emotions to rule a situation, we often say or do things we may later regret.
You know what happens then? You just became their villain.
I have been there. I have played both victim and villain. It doesn't have to be intentional to suddenly find yourself in those rolls, and they are both equally heartbreaking, practically interchangeable rolls.
You may not always have a say in whether or not you get hurt, but you don't have to be victim or villain in your own story.
What does it mean to have the same attitude as Jesus? There's a lot of material for this, but right here in Philippians 2, it goes on to say, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross!" -Philippians 2:6-8
Jesus became one of us. And oh, how many villains He had! People slandered His name and His family. He had traitors and liars in His midst. He was persecuted both verbally and physically...too death! The devil, himself, tried to take Him down!
He put Himself in our shoes, and died right next to a common thief.
He did not play victim. He did not curse them. He did not discard them from His life. In fact, He did quite the opposite. He loved them and asked God to forgive them. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing" ~Luke 23:34
No one is asking you to be nailed to a cross or sacrifice your life for your villains. That has already been done.
But you don't have to be a victim. Most of us will never face anything as hard as the persecution of Jesus on that cross, thank God! Maybe we can try to extend a little grace and understanding to those who may seem undeserving.
Who here is guilty of looking at Pinterest more than their Bible?
**Raises hand, sheepishly.**
I like...no, I love making things for my family. I love getting creative with their birthday cakes and decorations. What began years ago, when we were new parents with very little money; when foods and special cakes were just about the extent of our kids' birthdays, has grown and turned into a beautiful tradition.
However, I find myself stressing, internally, about everything I do or don't do. My mommy guilt is in constant limbo between feeling badly about not doing enough, and feeling badly about doing too much.
Our oldest son's 10th birthday was last week. I spent all day the day before his party, in my pajamas, from morning to night, baking, and decorating, and doing the dishes; baking, and decorating, and doing the dishes, on repeat. I was happy to do it. This is my love language! However, the whole day, I had to turn down invitations to play. I had to lean on my parents and husband to take care of the kids' emotional, mental, and physical needs, and basically ignore everyone while I worked.
Finally, at the end of the night, I asked my mom, "Do you think I am doing more harm than good by putting so much effort into these parties?"
She said, "No, I think your kids will remember these birthdays fondly, and remember all you did to make them special."
So simple. Moms of past generations did not overthink these things as much as we seem to do now. While I fret over spending too much time cleaning and baking and turning down invitations to play, I also find myself in a guilt riddled panic if I don't do all of those things for our child's birthday. Just this August our younger son's birthday happened to fall on a travel day, returning from a wedding, and I felt terrible!
But here's the thing. Not every birthday will be the same, not every birthday will be perfect or go exactly as planned. And not everyone will do what I do for their kids' birthdays. Not everyone likes to bake, not everyone likes big parties. Not everyone is even ON Pinterest (if you can believe that)! And that's ok!
We will all have different parenting styles. We will all have different birthday and holiday traditions. And it is important to remember that there is literally nothing in the Bible about what we do for our children's birthdays; whether we make their cakes from scratch or buy them from the store, whether we decorate to the nines or not, whether we give out party favors or not, whether we Pinterest fail or Pinterest win.
Do you know what the Bible says about parenting?
I can tell you, with great certainty, I can't find it anywhere in the Bible where it says Pinterest is the holy grail of mommy manuals.
It's just not there.
What is there?
The Bible talks a lot about disciplining and correcting our children. (Proverbs 13:24) It talks of guiding them on the right path. (Proverbs 22:6, Titus 2:7) It talks about not discouraging them or causing resentment. (Ephesians 6:4, 1 Peter 5:3)
These are just some examples, but the list goes on, and the overarching theme is to raise up good and decent human beings who love Jesus and love others. Sounds simple right?
Y'all, our generation has made parenting sooooo much more complicated than it should be! Moms, I cannot say this enough; we must get out of our own heads! Be diligent and pray, but stop worrying about every little thing you do or don't do. Stop comparing yourself to other moms who may do things differently. You cannot even compare yourself as mom of 4 to yourself as mom of 2! Be confident in the parent God has called you to be. He does not make mistakes. He is not a God of confusion. Your steps are ordained, designed to help mold your children into the people God has called them to be.
Pinterest can be a great blessing, or a source of great stress. Seek His Word for council, and Pinterest for crafts. Do not mix up the two, and you will be just fine.
Last night, I sat down to write my Monday Message. It wasn't a horrible one, but it didn't sit right with me. We had just come off a busy weekend, and my message directly related to my own emotions at the time.
Then, this morning, I awoke to a different world. From the world of birthday parties and growing, happy children, to a world of death and pain and sorrow. More than 50 people have been killed in Las Vegas, in what is now known as the largest mass murder in our country. This absolutely breaks my heart. My 5 year old son, catching glimpses of the news, had questions I didn't know how to address immediately. I was in shock.
There are many who choose to be angry with a God who would allow things like this to happen. I know, I have shaken my fist at Him for much less. It is easy to respond in that way. We need someone to blame when random acts of violence occur at the hands of a very sick individual.
For me, this is exactly why I have hope in Him. Our God is not a dictator. He did not create us to control us. He has given us each free will, which, unfortunately, gives human beings a capacity for evil that cannot always be explained or understood in this realm.
I have to believe there is more! There is more than the sorrow, pain, and heartache of this world. There is more than the evil some people have chosen. If this world is all we're living for, how much sadder this world would be! God's Word promises that it is not; that there is more!
God promises that there is so much more for us. God does not control the actions of each and every one of us, but I believe He does grieve with us. I believe His heart breaks when one of His children so severely turns his back on Him; rejects the love of Christ, and acts in hate.
Our sincerest prayers are lifted up for all those affected by this senseless act of evil in Las Vegas.
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.
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