READ AT END OF GAME: 7 Ways March Madness is REAL LIFE

Tonight is the BIG GAME!!
march madness

Gonzaga v UNC

March. Madness.

March Madness 2017 has been….ummm…er…well…it’s M.A.D.N.E.S.S.

I love to watch basketball anyway, but bring on the GO BIG OR GO HOME competition and I can’t get enough. Last year, I had wisdom and insight and brilliance to share. And this year, I have even more.

Watching March Madness  always brings a reflection of the realties of life. Secretly that’s why so many people love it, even those who don’t normally watch basketball. March Madness is a distraction from what the world tries to sell us as what life “should” be like…when really, life is like this:

1. Like in this crazy college basketball tournament, SOMETIMES YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING TO WIN, BUT YOU LOSE. There is nothing I love to hear a sports commentator say more than the word “upset”. I will admit, I get choked up sometimes when the seniors on the bench start crying knowing it’s their last game.   But it’s like that in life, too. We go into things expecting to finish well, or to get that promotion, or to take our dreams to the next level, and then life outscores us, and we lose.

2. The opposite is true as well.  SOMETIMES WE LOSE, BUT THEN WE END UP WINNING. I love rooting for the underdog. It’s great to me when these teams come in and everyone expects them to be out first round, but then BOOM! And then that team, no one expects to win, makes it to round 2 and then 3. We know those moments, when it seems all the cards are stacked against us in life, but we find something inside to keep going, and we end up beating the situation, or getting that job and we even surprise ourselves!

3. One of the most amazing moments of Madness this year was FLORIDA v. WISCONSIN. The game was tied at the end of overtime. Florida inbounds the ball with just 2 seconds left. Wisconsin plans to let time run out so they can take the game into double overtime. But not Florida.  Florida just kept playing to win. And on the buzzer, Chris Chiozza shot the ball for a 3 and Florida advances, and Wisconsin goes home. In life, we have to be like Chiozza: WE CAN NEVER, EVER GIVE UP. No matter how grim the circumstances may be, or how the ending seems to look…we can NEVER EVER EVER GIVE UP.

4. Winning in life doesn’t just happen. In real life, we aren’t handed trophies. Participation medals give us no feelings of satisfaction or accomplishment. WE HAVE TO FIGHT TO WIN.

5. Over 5 million people watch each round of March Madness. That’s a lot of eyes on these players. Every move they make is under the scrutiny and opinion of commentators, other coaches, classmates, strangers and trolls. But, hey, no pressure.  In life, there are moments we feel EVERYONE IS WATCHING US. That no matter what we do, good or bad, we are being judged, graded, or criticized. That pressure can be overwhelming. Unlike these basketball games, often times we aren’t really being watched, but that doesn’t take way the fear that we are.

6. When Zac was 9 or so, I coached his basketball team. All it took was for me to coach one season to know that I was not cut out for that job. I struggled to put the right players in at the right time, and to keep myself from yelling at the refs, and even more so, to restrain myself from fighting with other coaches. I love watching the coaches during games as much as the players, because it’s a hard job.  But the players from all of these schools need direction and guidance.  They need someone yelling at refs for injustice, they need someone giving them a game plan. And just like them, in life, WE ALL NEED A COACH.  ( Jesus is a great one! If you haven’t signed up for his team yet, you should check into it.  If you have, and you haven’t let him actually coach you, you should probably stop trying to be the coach of your own life, because no one on your team is going to like you.)

7. Basketball is a team sport. Everyone has a job. When Zac plays, his job is to rebound and go right back up with the ball. He can’t do what the point guard does.  Zac is 6ft tall, the point guard on his team is probably 4’5.  (I witnessed him dribble through the legs of an opposing team member this past weekend, he is so short).  We all have a place, and we can’t play the team sport of life alone.  WE ALL NEED A TEAM to pass the ball to, to go in for us so we can rest, and to slap us on the butt when we’ve made a great play! Get you a team, and practice life with them, so when the big game comes, you know that you have each other’s backs and you are all working toward the same goal!

I busted my bracket the 1st Round.  But I keep watching…. and in life, I will lose. I will fight, I will ride the bench. I will want to give up, and then I’ll hear my coach yell, “Push YOURSELF!” And in the end, I will win. I will win because while I’m on the journey, facing game after game, I know I’m on the right team. And that makes all the difference.
GO UNC! Who are you rooting for? What do you love the most about MARCH MADNESS?

Disenchanted: My Journey to Find Church

online dating

The best place to start is online. Google-ing and researching. Checking backgrounds and bios and music preferences. Before you even plan the date, you can find out with just a few clicks whether or not it’s even worth your time.

Some results prove to be misleading, with fancy words and fantastic photos. But then you show up and it’s a whole different scenario, nothing like you expected. All of those hours online can backfire on you. You build that day up in your head, with great expectations because of all you see on this website or that blog, only to be completely underwhelmed an hour later.

It’s all worth it. If you find “the one”. The one that connects with you and provides a sense of comfort and makes you feel loved. The one that makes you want to be a better person. After years of searching, I’m not sure there is just ONE, like that one soul mate that is meant just for you. Like in anything, don’t we have to sacrifice one for the other? Aren’t there just some non-negotiables and some things that you just let slide? I mean, if the music isn’t your rhythm, does it really matter in the grand scheme of things?

Sounds like a finding a boyfriend, husband, girlfriend, wife…

It kinda is.

Afterall, we are Jesus’ bride, aren’t we?

My two year search for a church was painful, and discouraging, and in the end, gave me a new perspective of the church as a whole. I spent many months resenting the Americanized definition of a place of worship. At times I even just refused to go. I have endured criticism and been accused of being “judgmental” (Christians love to use this word). Overall I have been heartbroken at what I have found the church to become.

church

My journey, although painful and frustrating, has given me a new perspective of people and brokenness and more than ever our need for a Savior. I am still convinced that the church is the place that has the potential to save the world, I’m just not sure every pastor believes the same. Oh, they may say they believe it, but their churches, with the programs and the glitz and all the other stuff that gets in the way prove to be the absolute opposite of what I believe the church was designed to be.

I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong…but who knows I might actually be right.

Join me over the next few weeks as I share with you how searching for a church for my family and I has changed me, grown me and given me a new perspective of Jesus.

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Yah, Let’s do THAT.

At church on Saturday I was reminded of the triumphant story of GIDEON and his seemingly ill-equipped self and just a few dudes willing to fight with him. So much goodness from all of it,  but there’s THIS that just won’t go away…

…and put trumpets into the hands of all of them & empty jars & torches….  [judges 7:16]

Gideon was a scared-y cat, a runt, an unlikely pick to lead an army.  He answered God’s call to defeat the enemy.  Through a drastic selection process, of sending the scared home, and watching how each of them drank water, God dwindled Gideon’s army down to 300. Through major showing off-because God does that- he handed Gideon and his soldiers

  • trumpets
  • empty jars
  • torches

These were their weapons, their tools…well those things and a great faith.  Then Gideon instructed his army, to blow their trumpets, to smash their vessels, to hold their torches high. And they were to shout…

For God and for Gideon

I’ve spent most of my life as one form of Gideon’s soldiers. In His process of selecting me, God has tested my vision, my focus.  I have willingly left in fear. I have done it wrong and was sent home.  I have been handed tools, but instead of great faith, I have compared myself to what my enemies hold, as well as my allies.  I have complained and sulked and whined.

I sat in church wondering how many other woman have done the same. How many of us have discarded what God has given us as not worthy to win the battle?

So often we wish we could be artists, or writers.  We desire perfectly clean houses, and God-fearing children and a husband who is bound to be called into full time ministry at any moment because of his stellar spiritual leadership.

We hold our trumpet–our noisemaker–and instead of a weapon to slay the day, its sounds more like fighting children, siblings who seem to hate each other. And a snoring husband, who falls asleep before he prays with you.

And we stare at our dishes in the sink for two days & we can’t remember the last time we washed our hair (true story).  We don’t even write down our grocery list, much less the next best seller at all the Christian book stores, that all the mom’s who have THEIR *ish together read between yoga and playdates at Chik-fil-a and putting something in the crockpot for dinner.

And we sit and think of the degree we should have finished, and about that other lady at church who leads so well and started her own non-profit and in her first day got 3,000 likes on Facebook, which is weird because there are only like 85 people at your church.

And we want that families income, and her house, and her wedding ring, her job and her self-discipline to wake at 5 am and drink a cup of coffee from the Keurig before Crossfit.

Only to be left to become the noisemaker ourselves (as we yell at our kids) and utterly empty.  An empty vessel, nothing left to give. nothing. Hand us a torch, and we will burn it all down, just so we don’t have to do laundry.

But there must be a time — a time in our life — in my life–like now.

Yeah, a time like now.

To rise up, gripping whatever God has handed us…

All of our beauty, all of our flaws, all of our giftedness…

The gift of rocking a baby or saving an animal…

We must embrace our weapons, of kindness, of patience, of love…

Holding tightly to the gift of organizing, or multi-tasking, or encouraging or serving, or just making it through another Monday…

We have weapons of forgiveness, and a clean car and shaved legs…

All of them exactly held by the exactly right person.

We are not noisemakers! 

We are trumpets, sounding loudly to drown out the voice of comparison, rejection, shame, self-hatred.

We are not empty vessels!

We are merely poured out in total surrender, daily being filled by living water so we may thirst no more.

We do not live in darkness! 

We have a torch to carry, to usher light into the darkness that surrounds us.  This torch is to be passed on to the very bratty kids we raise, the ones that hate each other.

All of us, in this camp together, can sound our trumpets, fill our vessels and proudly hold our torches, and we can all shout together

For God and for [insert your name here].

We can defeat this enemy that daily rises against, whispering that we aren’t enough, that we don’t have enough, that we don’t do enough.  When we do this, we don’t have to be afraid, for the Lord is with us….

And God’s presence is enough.

Humans of New York published a photo of a lady in the subway, who is a Christian, planting churches in New York.   I see these in my Facebook Feed, anyone can subscribe, which means anyone can comment. And people are mean, and hateful and tell you that your trumpet is useless and your vessel is ugly and your torch isn’t Scentsy so it’s not good enough.  Boldly she proclaimed the Gospel, and then said, “Feel free to share it. I won’t be reading the comment section.”

So let’s do that.

Let’s not read the comment section.

Instead, let’s live in obedience, and the safety of God’s gifts to us and his calling to use them accordingly. His gift of humanity, of being real and imperfect, Let’s stand with our different versions of trumpets and should with confidence and peace, because he assures us that it won’t kill us.

Those 300 of Gideon’s men were victorious with what God gave them, because of the faith to do what he instructed them to do. We can, too. They won. We win.

FOR GOD AND FOR TIFFANY

I Am A Horrible Christian

I am, without a doubt, an absolute horrible Christian.

Often people see my FB posts, or even read a blog or two.  I’ve had woman who have told me how “amazing” I am to follow God the way I do.

I just laugh.

My sister-in-love mentioned to me one day, while in conversation in the car…. One day I’m going to expose you for who you really are.  Everyone out there thinks your so sugar sweet and super Christian, but little do they know.

I just laugh. It’s funny, because it’s true.

Seriously though, I’ve never meant to misrepresent myself.

I truly follow Christ.

I love Him completely with my whole heart.

Daily, I attempt to live for Him and live out my purpose in Him.

But, really, at the end of the day, I’m human…and I pretty much suck.

mouth

So for those of you who don’t know me, or don’t know the sinful side of me….allow me to confess…now keep in mind, I don’t need judgement for my confession or for what I do. Nor do I need you to tell me it’s okay, nor do I need you to be offended because of whatever reason you have.

  1. I LOVE Horrible TV Shows like Sex In The City and Will & Grace.  It’s great writing, with great characters.
  2. I sometimes, occasionally, every now and then Cuss. Almost every single day. Sometimes I even drop the “F” Bomb.  It’s definitely cleaned up in the last 20 years, no more do I hang with the sailors, but I do have a potty mouth.  My kids are constantly correcting me, when it should be the other way around.
  3. I fight with my husband. And sometimes I say mean things I can’t take back.  We are not the perfect couple. Our arguments are meaningless at times with no resolution.
  4. I hide from my kids. In a secret room, because sometimes I just can’t “mom” or meet their needs.
  5. I am HORRIBLE about finishing anything.
  6. just kidding
  7. Sometimes I just don’t understand people, so I judge them. Like seriously judge their shoes, or why they think the way they do.  And I look at them with funny faces…and they think I’m interested, but really I’m confused.
  8. I sometimes think about stealing stuff from stores.  I don’t actually do it, but I wonder if I could get away with it.
  9. I don’t always feel like talking about Jesus or sharing my “story” or witnessing or testifying…i’m okay with getting out of Walmart without even making eye contact.

cuss

We know that the list is longer and the sins deeper, because this list isn’t all that impressive or funny or shameful.  So when you see my posts or blogs or tweets and think how deep and reflective and thoughtful I am, imagine me instead, avoiding all my projects, and ignoring phone calls.  Imagine me just being a human trying to get along, without perfection, hoping for a giggle, working on cleaning my mouth out with soap.  I’m a work in progress, but aren’t we all?!

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When Your Daughter Leaves For College

I was laying there in bed holding my new sweet girl.  I was alone, twenty and a new mom.  I had to pee and was in so much pain.  I didn’t know what to do.  I pushed the button.

“Yes, can I help you?”

“Umm yes, I have to use the restroom.”

“Did you need help?”

“No I just don’t know what to do with my baby.”

I’m certain the nurses at on the other end of the intercom either a. laughed hysterically at me or 2. shook their heads and murmured, “Bless her heart.”

I pulled myself up and put her in the clear plastic bassinet. I waddled to the restroom, pulling her behind me.  “don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry.”

She had never been alone. Not for a minute. She was with me for nine months and in the nursery, and now I was not going to be the one to leave her. She had to pee with me.  That’s just all there was to it.  And if she cried while I was peeing, I have no idea what I would do.

But we made it, we made it through the first night in the hospital, and learning to breastfeed.  We made it through the hours I watched her sleep and periodically poked her to make sure she was alive. We made it through a new brother, and the loss of a family because of divorce.  We made it through a new family, with new siblings. We made it through moving and tears from stupid boys. We made it through the trauma of leaving friends, and the disappointment of new schools.

And we will make it through when she leaves in two weeks to start a new life, at a college, with new friends, and new rhythms.

I’m embracing this relationship thing. This humanity thing. How changing our lives can be but our connections remain. God told us about new seasons, and to live in expectancy of them. In watching Jesus’ life, he had ever changing relationships. And still does.  One day you seek after Him, the next you fail to acknowledge him.

Humanity is about this, changing relationship thing. As our relationships transform, we are forced to as well. Sometimes I wonder if what we struggle with the most in the changing of ourselves. Wondering if we are strong enough, courageous enough to make it through.

That’s why we need a constant, a ‘never changing’. That’s why we need that thing that no matter what relationships come or go….

  • the marriage
  • the girlfriend who ditches you
  • the death of a parent
  • the sister who just wont’ talk to you
  • how she just doesn’t look at you the same anymore
  • how he just doesn’t want to be best friends with his mom
  • the business partner that betrays you
  • the daughter who leaves for college

He will be that  constant, the forever, unchanging…the timelessly faithful.  God knew this humanity he created would be always transforming, so He himself forever remains.  Be courageous, when everything changes, He is there.

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