Monthly Archives: November 2018

Praise, Phish and Bob Weir: An Exceptional Trio

When I first started living my life for Christ, I drew a lot of lines in the sand. In many ways, my world became black and white. Yes to this and no to that. This is good and that is bad.

I remember feeling like if I quit doing some things, and replaced them with things that were more fruitful – that I would be well on my way to living the ultimate Christian lifestyle.

In my mind it was all so simple. Was I attending church and Bible study enough? What company was I keeping? Was I drinking? If so, how much? What was I reading, watching, listening to?  Was I putting in enough quiet time?

My faith was a lot about my actions and constantly teetered on the verge of legalism.

In some ways, I feel like this was necessary at that time in my life. I was in my early 20s, and let’s just say prior to living for the Lord – I was a bit of a wild child. In order for me to change some undesirable habits, my environment had to change. Consequently, I became immersed in the church culture.

My husband and I found a church we loved, filled with like-minded individuals who were living their lives for Christ. We began attending a house church with other people our age and quickly developed some of our closest, deepest friendships that are still some of our closest friends to this day. We began to experience relationships in ways we never had before.

I vividly remember going to our first house church cookout. As we parked the car next to the curb, there was a moment before opening our doors when my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) and I looked at each other and said, “Do you really think they won’t have alcohol here? How do we get through a cookout without alcohol?”

It seemed so strange that such a cookout would even exist. Cookouts and beer went together like peanut butter and jelly. I don’t care how long these people have been going to church. They have to know this, right? It was all so foreign to us.

That night we learned a few new things – like going to a cookout without alcohol is actually a ton of fun. For those of you who have never been to one – it’s true. I’m not lying. We had a blast. That evening is forever etched in my mind. I can clearly remember conversations I had with different people that night. I even remember watching as Pat lifted up his sweatshirt to reveal his multi-colored Grateful Dead t-shirt underneath after learning that our host was also a huge Dead fan.

In that moment, I realized it was possible for our past and our present to intertwine in a way that may actually be okay. Maybe all of our past wasn’t so bad?

Fast forward to present day and I can say with confidence that it wasn’t all so bad. Over the years, I have learned that God can take some of the most difficult, challenging times in our lives and use them for good – even our poor choices. He makes beauty from ashes time and time again.

Since my early 20s, my faith has become much less legalistic. I have learned, and truly experienced, how wide and high and deep is the love of God. I have felt His grace cover me time and time again and truly believe He loves me. And He always has. Even when I was far away from Him.

I began to really embrace this truth when my children were young. Due to a lot of circumstances outside of my control, we weren’t able to attend church as often as we could when it was just the two of us. Attending Bible study regularly and prayer nights at the church became more challenging. At first, this was really hard for me. Would God love me as much if I wasn’t showing up regularly? My legalistic self was now face-to-face with the knowledge that I couldn’t perform how I once had. What did this mean for my faith? Would people think I didn’t love Jesus anymore if I wasn’t at church on Sunday?

Turns out, it doesn’t matter what people think of me. What matters is pleasing God – not man. And God knew my heart and my circumstances. I had to learn to accept the love of Christ as it was – a free gift filled with grace and love. It wasn’t about me and it wasn’t about what I was doing. It was about Him. There was nothing I could do to earn His love. And nothing I could do to make it go away.

He is the perfect Father.

The more I began to understand and accept that, the more deeply I experienced His love – and the more freely I was able to give it to others. No strings attached.

To others looking at my life now, there may be moments when I seem like a poor example of a Christian. I don’t attend church every Sunday. I want to, and try to, but sometimes life’s unexpected twists and turns get in the way. I drink alcohol on occasion. I have my nose pierced and am highly contemplating getting a tattoo – or ten. I watch the occasional R-rated movie and very possibly watch Netflix shows that can be considered crass and inappropriate. Some of the music I listen to has bad words and, if the kids aren’t around, there’s a good chance I may be found singing these songs – loudly. Like The Birthday Song by 2Chainz – the minute I’m by myself and that song shuffles through my playlist – it’s game on.

And that’s okay. I’m a work in progress. You are a work in progress. Perfection is unattainable. I will never be perfect and neither will you.

In the past couple of weeks, I have witnessed my past and present come together in a way that I can only describe as beautiful. When my husband and I were younger, we attended many a jam band concert – namely Phish. After becoming Christians, we took a long break from that scene.

Over the years, as we have loosened the reigns on our list of dos and don’ts, we have started to attend a variety of concerts again (and living in Nashville, there is definitely plenty of live music to choose from.) In the past few weeks, we attended both a Phish show and a Bob Weir concert.

During the Phish show, as the band was playing and the people around me were swaying to the sounds of the music, I looked up at the stage framed by the city we now call home and at the stars twinkling in the sky – and strongly felt the presence of God. As my body moved and my gaze fixed upward, I began to pray. I prayed for those at the show with me. I prayed for God’s angels to come to that place. I prayed for His love and mercy to cover us. And a couple of weeks later, at the Bob Weir show, I had a similar experience (only indoors.)

I am learning something that seems so basic, but I had somehow missed. God is everywhere. You don’t need to be at a Christian concert to worship. You can worship Him wherever you are. I think my 20-something self would have guffawed at the thought of worshipping God at a Phish show. You go to church and Christian concerts to worship God. Not Phish shows.

The week after my worshipping God at the Phish show moment, Chris Tomlin lead worship at our church service. As my hands were lifted to the air and my heart was once again worshipping God I was reminded of the unexpected moment I had earlier in the week. The moment when God met me at the Phish show. The moment when my past and present collided in a way that felt like a true gift of redemption.

Our pastor then got up and spoke about the seven Hebrew words for praise. He talked about a word in the Hebrew language that meant praising God through music, Zamar. He talked about joyfully making music with song and instrument. As he spoke of the seven words for praise, I was reminded we should praise Him in all things. At all times. In song. In dance. In gratitude. In prayer. In worship. In silence. Loudly with hands lifted high and quietly while on our knees. At concerts and coffee shops. On walks in nature and when driving the car.

Praise Him for where we’ve been. Praise Him for where we are going. Praise Him for this very moment.

Praise Him for the journey.

Lines that are drawn in sand aren’t meant to last for long. As the tides rise and the waves crash in, the lines vanish with the water returning to it’s source. I am grateful that so many of my lines have been erased. I am grateful that God has taken my heart that at one time may have been more bent toward judgment then I would ever care to admit – and turned it to a heart that clearly sees my imperfection and my need for a Savior. He has forgiven me for much and He continues to do so. He loves me more than I will ever fully be able to fathom. I want my life to reflect this love He has poured so graciously and freely on to me. I want my life to be a vessel. More of Him. Less of me. More of His love. More of His light.

Praise Him for where we’ve been. Praise Him for where we are going. Praise Him for this very moment.

Praise Him for the journey.

In all things. At all times. Whether at church on a Sunday morning. Whether seeing Phish on a Wednesday or Bob Weir on a Monday night. Whether at a cookout with alcohol, or one without. Wherever you may be in your journey.

Praise Him.

 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2: 8-10

I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my 
God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my 
stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-3

 

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Confessions of a Cruddy Sports Mom

Last week I received a text that confirmed something I have known for awhile – I’m a cruddy sports mom.

Anyone out there feeling me?

This post is for all of you who get excited when the forecast calls for rain on game night, and this post is for all of you who would rather spend your Saturday mornings in bed than on the sidelines. You know who you are. Don’t hang your head in shame.

This is a safe space to admit you would rather be at home under your nice, warm, downy duvet than freezing your booty off on the metal bleachers at 8:45 am on a Saturday morning while your kid does the floss and picks grass in the outfield.

I assume there have to be other parents like me. Maybe they are even posing as die-hard t-ball fans? Maybe all of that enthusiasm is just for show. Doubtful. But maybe?

I want to be more enthusiastic about it all. I really and truly do. But I’m just not.

This fall, three out of our four kids played ball. Parents, I don’t need to go into details here. You know what this means. It means lots of time spent at the ball field and a lot of time spent in the car. Lots.

And some nights, all four of them had activities at the same time. Figure that one out. It’s as crazy as it sounds.

I am starting to fully understand the phrase, “It takes a village”- because oh man, does it ever. All I can say is thank goodness my girls ended up on the same teams as our neighbors. And yay for grandparents who have moved to town.

There were plenty of evenings I would send one child with a neighbor, run another to wherever they needed to be, pop over to watch the game for 20 minutes and then jump back into the car to pick up another child. You get the drift.

I am sure if anyone was paying attention (and they probably weren’t), that I looked like a crazy lady. (Which makes me want to pause for a minute to point out, if you do happen to see a mom or dad running around like a chicken with their head cut off instead of enjoying the game – try not to judge. They are trying their best just like you. I am sure they would much rather be sitting on the bleacher cheering on the team – but life.)

And let’s not forget what happens prior to even getting out the door. The kids walk in from school and it’s – “Do you have homework? Hurry up. Get your uniform on. You have five minutes to eat. Where are you cleats? Do you have your water? Come on. We need to GO, people!”

As crazy as it feels to me, they don’t mind. Not one bit. Why? Because they are doing what they love – playing ball.

And the same was true for me when I was a kid. I have zero memories of the time between school and heading to the diamond, but I can remember what it felt like to swing the bat and watch the ball go flying. I can remember rounding the bases. I can remember being in the outfield and having a teammate teach me what it means to “fly the bird.” Yep. That happened.

I remember my team and my love of the game. I don’t remember the sacrifices my parents made to get me there. Sorry mom and dad.

And this is what keeps me going. Even though I consider myself a cruddy sports mom, I can still get into a game with the best of ’em. I love watching my children do what brings them joy.

I love the smiles on their faces and the sparkle in their eyes when they finally receive the prized game ball for a job well done. I love knowing they are experiencing camaraderie with their teammates and that they are learning the invaluable skills that come from playing on a team.

There is much to love about sports and what it teaches our children.

So what’s the problem?

I think it’s more about having multiple somethings that people have to be to every night. And every weekend.

It’s more about exhaustion.

In the beginning of the season, I am excited. By the end, I am looking at the forecast and hoping the 20% chance of rain moves up to 100%. And I’m really hoping we don’t have to drive all the way to Franklin only to have the game cancelled 30 minutes after we get there. If it’s supposed to rain, let’s just cancel the game already.

And I had hoped this was what most parents were secretly thinking. I knew I was a cruddy sports mom, but I couldn’t possibly be the cruddiest. Could I?

Turns out – maybe so.

Last week, I received a text from the coach about my daughter’s last game of the season. The text read:

“Just received word that we have won tonight’s game by forfeit! We can still use the field if the girls want to do one last mini scrimmage like we’ve done in practice (and we could get a team picture before.) Or the commissioner said she could reach out to a team with a bye this week to see if they want to play us. Please let me know your vote: (1) mini-scrimmage; (2) scrimmage another team if available; (3) no thanks – done with fall softball.”

Yes! This was the moment! We could all collectively admit what we have been feeling. Let’s be done with it all.

And then the replies came in. One two after another. 2. 2. 2. 2. All 2s.

What the?!

This is the moment when I should have owned my number-3-loving self, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t let them in on my cruddy sports mom secret. My reply was, “Staying in Nolensville would be awesome!” (because the alternative was driving 20 minutes to the field where we were supposed to play that night.) I am such a chicken. Why couldn’t I just reply with 3?

The reason? Because in my heart I know what we know as parents to be true – this isn’t about me. Is it?

I think this is what all of those sports moms are on to. Just because I was tired and ready for the season to be over, doesn’t mean my daughter didn’t want to play. Of course she wanted to play. She loves softball. Just like I loved softball when I was her age.

Yes, I am a cruddy sports mom. Yes, I hope for bad weather and cancelled games on occasion. Who am I kidding? It’s not on occasion. I’m always am hoping for that. Yes, I pull out my phone sometimes during the game to check my email. Yes, I hear the alarm go off on a Saturday morning and think “WHY?” But regardless of how I feel, I will keep doing it. I will keep signing them up and running around like a crazy woman praying for the rain to fall.

Because, as parents, this is what we do. Right? We show up. We encourage. We cheer. We wash uniforms repeatedly. We sign up for our obligatory snack duty. We run from one place to the other dropping kids off and picking them up like a free taxi service.

Whether we are incredible sports moms (and dads), or cruddy ones – we are in it together. Sharing bleachers, toting snacks and feeling an overwhelming amount of love for our little people playing the game.

Yes, we are in it together. So, the next time you see a frazzled mom running to the stands yelling for her kids to “hurry up” with bags on her arms and a baby on her hip (I’m not there anymore, but I used to be), give her a fist bump and let her know you’re glad to see her.

And if you really want to make her day – tell her she is doing am amazing job and hand her the game ball.

 

 

 

 

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