Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dropping the Ball

This phrase has always had a negative connotation to me. It says that I haven't lived up to my responsibilities, that I've let someone down, or done something I shouldn't have. Generally it is something that I try to avoid.

Three weeks ago at Bible Study, Beth Moore put the phrase into a new context, one that I am trying to embrace for the rest of my life, starting with the next nine weeks of Bible Study. 

She told the story of her dog, a border collie, who is obsessed with her ball. She loves her ball so much that she drops the ball in her food dish and eats around it, she puts it in her water dish and drinks around it because she cannot bear to be parted from it. One day, she was chasing a bird or a squirrel or some other woodland creature and she cannot catch it because she won't put put down the ball, not to mention that holding on to it makes breathing a slow and awkward process.
   Beth then challenged us to "drop the ball", to lay down our obsessions and all the things that we are holding on to which prevent us from reaching our goal- being in a close relationship with Jesus. She then went on to say that Jesus already broke our chains when he died on the cross- the chains are not holding us, but rather for whatever reason, we are holding onto our chains instead of clinging to the cross. I have been sharing this story with practically everyone because it has resonated so deeply with me.
For me, dropping the ball means letting go of my obsession with getting married and being in a relationship. It means being genuinely happy for friends and family members who are engaged or married or are otherwise in happy and fulfilling relationships, even when I am not. It entails a daily choice of focusing on the blessings God has given me, instead of the ones he hasn't. It means trusting that God will work for His good in my life and believing that He will grant the desires of my heart if I seek Him first. Dropping my ball means not watching romantic comedies or listening to love songs obsessively, since they only serve as constant reminders of what I don't have and they make me sad. It means reading my Bible more and praying more- being in constant communication with God, regardless of my circumstance. It means letting go of my plans and my hopes and dreams.

Dropping the ball is a constant and daily struggle. I find little thoughts creeping in and I have to literally talk out loud to myself and scold myself in order to stop the jealous thoughts. I have to turn off the radio, or skip songs on my ipod. It is a conscious choice, something I must be acutely aware of at all times. Thus far, I have been far from perfect. I find myself dropping the ball for a short time, only to pick it back up again a while later. It is asking God for forgiveness and starting over again. One benefit is that it has drawn me closer to God- I am spending more time communicating with him (mostly asking for his constant help). I know I am growing and that good will come out of it, but it is soooooo hard!

 Your turn- What ball do you need to drop?


Growing up Lutheran, I have been hearing the benediction at the end of the church service for nearly thirty years. It always means that church is over. You sing the last hymn and you are on your way out into the world to do whatever you need to accomplish. In the last few weeks, benedictions have taken on a whole new significance to me. One Sunday a few weeks ago, I was sitting in church and listening to the familiar words that I've heard all my life:
"The Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace." ~Numbers 6:24-26
and it was as if I was hearing those words for the first time. They truly penetrated my heart in a way that they never have before. I knew that God was speaking directly to me. A benediction is meant to be a blessing as you depart from somewhere, but as I just read in this week's pre-class reading for Stephen Ministry, a benediction also proclaims that God has you in his care and is responsible for your well being. A benediction says that God is in charge. If you look at the benediction above, it is clear that God is in charge- you are the receiver of God's blessings, there is nothing you do except receive the things which he intends for you.

The more I think about benedictions, the more I think about how they are not just for the end of the church service... if I ever get married, I would like a benediction or two spoken at my wedding. They are words of  comfort and blessing and more meaningful than any other toast I could think of... they are reminders of the great blessings God has already given, as well as a promise for future enrichment. Generally, they come directly from God's word (the Bible), so you can't go wrong there! To my friends and family who are getting married in the next few months- you can definitely expect a benediction written out in your cards from me.
To all of you reading this blog, here is my benediction for you (from 2 Corinthians13:14):
      ~The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holsy Spirit be with you all.~


In both Stephen Ministry class and the Beth Moore Bible study that I'm attending on Revelation, we've been talking about the Hebrew word "shalom" which means peace be with you. For so long, I always thought that peace meant the absence of worry, uncertainity or fear, but as I've been studying more about the word, I've learned it is those things, but it also encompasses much more. When you say Shalom to someone, you are wishing them completeness and wholeness, not just a temporary relief from worry. What an incredibly powerful prayer for someone. Of course, that completeness/wholeness comes only when we accept Jesus and his healing grace because he is the giver of that peace that passes understanding. There is nothing we can do to achieve that peace on our own.

so to each of you reading this blog-Shalom.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Where does the time go?

So I just looked at the date of my last blog post and realized that more than two months have gone by since I last wrote! I wish I could say I was incredibly busy with exciting vacations or volunteering at an orphanage in Africa, but really it's just been a lot of keeping up with puppy antics (I wish I had a tenth of his energy), surviving the TX heat, getting prepared for back to school and technology support for the reading specialists. Not very exciting things I know. But you know what? more of life is comprised of the small moments than the big ones. My good friend Sarah from Muhlenberg has a blog that I read on a regular basis called the Glory of the Grind. In this blog, she captures a lot of the small moments in her life and in the life of her kids. Another friend, Katie, has a blog that she started to document her pregnancy with her son Santi and has continued even now that she has baby Gabe! Her post the other day was about taking the boys to story time at the library. I love that these girls are so vigilant about documenting daily life. We only have one life to live and if we are constantly waiting for the next big moment, we miss all the small moments that make life worth living.     As I've been diligently following their blogs, I think some of their attitude has rubbed off on me. I'm definitely much more aware of the little things that seem so inconsequential but mean so much, like when Riley sleeps through the night all curled up with his head resting on my knee, or the cool breeze that allowed us to go for a long walk/run today.