Tennis, anyone?

When I turned 40 I decided I wanted to learn something new.  I wanted to learn how to play tennis.  I was gonna prove this old dog could learn a new trick.  Never played before in my life, and just ask my family – I’m not an athletic specimen by any stretch. (I mean, I was picked last every single game of kickball every year in elementary school as you will recall from last week’s post 10 Embarrassing Moments, for heaven’s sake).

So I bought a cheap racquet and a couple of tennis skirts (you gotta look the part, after all). I had no idea what I was doing, but I was out there.  Learning. Imitating my instructor as much as that 40 year old body could. Making friends.  Loving it.  And yes, I’ve even gotten a little better at it.

Tennis_Racket_and_Balls

I’m nowhere near U.S. Open status and quite frankly have no desire to even play in a real league.  But I’ve spent many hours practicing and playing so that when our group does play our “matches” (and I use that term very loosely) I’m at least competitive (except the times when I totally miss the ball and my tennis instructor calls me Helen – as in Helen Keller…).

I could have gone out on the court and started playing without ever taking a lesson, but I know how well that would have worked out.  So it is with my faith. If I don’t spend time reading my Bible, praying and talking to Jesus I won’t grow spiritually. I’ll be stuck in one place, holding my racquet, wondering why I can’t compete in the game of life going on around me.  It takes practice and perseverance to be competitive in a sport AND to grow in your faith.

“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” (Hebrews 6:12) We need to apply that same diligence and desire to our faith.  I’m competing for an eternal prize –  I want a “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” from Jesus one day, angels cheering in the stands.

Practice, practice, practice. Then get out on the court and deliver. Your trophy will be an eternal one – more precious than any competition won here on earth.

Blessings!
Leigh

You can follow me on Twitter @LeighThompsonAU and enjoy my sometimes inspirational, sometimes humorous, sometimes quirky Tweets!

And if you like what you read, please share with others!  God told me to write for Him and my goal is to spread the gospel with a bit of humor and a lot of grace.

 

Guilty Joy

Why are some people scared of joy? You know the type – the “When’s the other shoe going to drop?” people.  The ones who say, “This is just too good to be true,” and they just can’t seem to fully enjoy their day. Ever.

When all is right in your world – the day where you score a pair of killer wedges on sale, get all caught up on your ironing, have money left over in the bank after paying bills, bake a mouth-watering butter pound cake – why do you look over your shoulder, afraid of what might happen?  Why can’t some people enjoy the easy days instead of being scared of any possible future bad ones?

At times I’ve felt this way.  It’s as though I feel guilty for having joy – guilty joy. Guilty for my life being pain-free for a while as I watch others suffer immense pain – mentally, physically, spiritually.  I walk my dog while a friend lies in the bed with cancer.  I watch my son play golf while another child is confined to a wheelchair. What gives me the right to be joyful while others suffer?

But you see if I give in to the fear that something bad lurks around the corner I give in to a spirit that is clearly not from God, but from the enemy.  He wants us to be fearful of what could happen. He wants to rob us of joy. He wants us weighted down by unnecessary guilt.  He wants us to be so wound up with the what-ifs that we miss the blessings of today, of this very minute.

This excerpt from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp helped me through my struggle with “guilty joy” while others are suffering:

“Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.”

Oh how true this is. Feeling guilty about having joy does not benefit those who are suffering – it just creates 2 miserable people instead of 1.  Being the Light of Joy to people who are suffering is the best way to show what Jesus means to you. And I don’t mean be obnoxious, in your face, my life is better than your life kind of a fool or the “I know how you feel” fake sympathy kind.  I’m talking about a compassionate, caring, listening, praying kind of light that is so desperately needed in this world today.

Think about it this way: when you are walking through a difficult time in your life do you want someone next to you complaining about how bad they have it, patting you on the arm while giving you the bland, “It’s God’s will,” or do you want someone who will listen to you, love on you and rekindle the flame of joy in your heart?

“You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds an praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

light

The world can be a dark and lonely place. Don’t hide your light from those who are suffering – let your light of joy shine brightly, illuminating Jesus in all circumstances.

Blessings for a wonderful weekend!
Leigh

You can follow me on Twitter @LeighThompsonAU and enjoy my sometimes inspirational, sometimes humorous, sometimes quirky Tweets!

And if you like what you read, please share with others!  God told me to write for Him and my goal is to spread the gospel with a bit of humor and a lot of grace.

Not Me

Some days I wish I wasn’t so much like me, that I was more like someone else. I wish I could just go exercise and leave all the dishes in the sink and not care.  I wish I could take eggs randomly out of the carton without making the empty spaces even on both sides.  I wish I could throw clean towels on a bed and leave them unfolded for a few days…

I wish I could sit back and take in the beauty of a cardinal outside my window instead of running my grocery list in my head (did I cut out all my coupons?). I wish I could get lost in a cheesy movie on a Sunday afternoon instead of rehearsing my schedule for the week. I wish I could scribble a list on scrap paper instead of neatly writing with my favorite pen on a pretty notepad…

Image

Then I snap back to reality – who am I kidding? Without OCD people like me how would anything ever get done?  I mean, all you free-spirited, beauty-loving, spontaneous people would just let the world fall apart all around you and not even care while singing kumbaya, wouldn’t you?

I’m kidding, of course.  God’s mastery is evident in every single person. No two people are the same – and He did that for a reason.  If God had wanted everyone to be a list maker or a painter or a teacher He would have made one DNA, one personality.  But God loves both the subtle and the obvious differences in each of us, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.   I praise you because I am fearfully an wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

God created you, He knit you together Himself. He doesn’t make mistakes and He doesn’t want you to be someone else.  His works are wonderful – YOU are wonderful.  So today celebrate your uniqueness and quit contemplating what life would be like if you could only be more like…….

Blessings!
Leigh

You can follow me on Twitter @LeighThompsonAU and enjoy my sometimes inspirational, sometimes humorous, sometimes quirky Tweets!

And if you like what you read, please share with others!  God told me to write for Him and my goal is to spread the gospel with a bit of humor and a lot of grace.

10 Embarrassing Moments

For weeks now I feel like all I’ve seen on FB are lists.  They range from “Top 10 Things Every Girl Should Know Before She Joins a Sorority” to “Top 10 Things Every Son Should Hear” to “Top 10 Ways to Avoid Divorce (from a guy who got divorced)” to “Top 10 Places to Eat in Alabama.”  (I have to admit that last one got my attention.)

Child rearing, sorority joining, weight losing, career choosing, love keeping lists.  So who made these list makers the experts?  I’ve made many a list in my day, people.  I mean I’m a HUGE list maker – just ask anyone in my family. And I’m an OCD list maker, so if I start writing and I have to switch to another pen or I don’t particularly care for my handwriting I’ll start my list all over… (yes, I have issues)…

Soooo, that’s why I type more than I write.

And in an effort to join the community of my fellow list-makers, here are 10 of my most embarrassing moments (I have many more, but they must remain a secret to protect the not-so-innocent people involved) and what I learned from them:

1. At the age of 4 or 5 I knocked a nekkid (for all you above the Mason-Dixon line, that’s a southern version of naked) mannequin off her platform and she dismantled herself into 47 different pieces right in front of me. Lesson learned – listen to your momma when she says, “DO NOT TOUCH THAT.

mannequin

2. In elementary school I was picked last for every single solitary stinking game of kickball.  Every. Single. One. Lesson learned – I will survive, even if I get picked last every time. (And kickball is a stupid game, BTW.)

3. I once went to a piano competition and completely forgot the piece I was supposed to play (because I hadn’t practiced enough).  As in I looked at the judge, announced I felt a little queasy (which wasn’t a lie) and left the room forgot.  Lesson learned – practice + hard work = results, and the lack of those create embarrassing situations.

4. In middle school I got a note in my locker (yeah, that’s real old-school I know) that said a certain boy liked me and to come sit with him at lunch. I did.  He was clueless as to why I sat there and never said a word to me. Lesson learned – kids are mean and I didn’t want to be a mean kid.

5. My junior year in high school I tried out for our school’s dance team (I was already on the squad that year).   I made the squad barely as an alternate, which meant I really wasn’t going to perform with the squad my senior year.  I resigned from the squad and moved on to other interests and was successful at other things. Lesson learned – you don’t get everything you want in life.  You better figure out how to make lemonade out of a pile of rotting lemons.

6. In high school our MYF group took sex education through our church with our friends’ parents teaching us all sorts of things I didn’t want to hear about at that age and especially not from them. Lesson learned – it takes brave parents to take on that subject in front of their children’s friends.

7. Before going to Auburn University I went to Merle Norman for a makeover. Lesson learned – no one should hit a college campus looking like a “streetwalker” (no offense, Merle). Less is often more.

8. When I was engaged a friend of mine and I were hysterically sharing a story with my soon to be mother-in-law about her hairdresser who had apparently mooned everybody at his 50th birthday party.  She wasn’t laughing.   Lesson learned – sometimes people are naïve and you should let them stay that way. (2nd lesson on that one – THINK before you SPEAK).

9. My husband and I didn’t find out the sex of our first baby when I was pregnant. After she was born the nurse said, “You have a girl!”  I looked right at her and said, “No I don’t.”  She looked at my baby again and said, “Yes, I’m pretty sure you do.”  Lesson learned – take the drugs the first time they offer them (natural childbirth ain’t all it’s cracked up to be).

10. Palm Sunday, daughter age 9, son age 4.  Son DOES NOT want to walk down that long aisle waving a huge part of a bush at people. Pitches a “small” fit as I drag him to the doors of the church through a sea of sweet children in their Sunday best and hiss through clinched teeth: “You get a smile on your face and wave that leaf for Jesus!”  I then turn around to see the director of children’s ministries standing right behind me…  Lesson learned – don’t push your children to do the “popular” thing – even it if is for the right reasons.

Embarrassing moments offer immediate lessons. But they also offer this life long lesson: we can either be defined by them or we can learn from them. If I had hung on to my top 10 list up there I’d be a disobedient, mean scardy cat who bitterly birthed her first child while looking like a hooker.  (Talk about issues…)

But thankfully Jesus has no desire for us to be defined by our past embarrassments or mistakes.  He came to make all things new again!  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)  Don’t be defined by your past.  Be renewed in the future Christ has for you.

Blessings!
Leigh

You can follow me on Twitter @LeighThompsonAU and enjoy my sometimes inspirational, sometimes humorous, sometimes quirky Tweets!

And if you like what you read, please share with others!  God told me to write for Him and my goal is to spread the gospel with a bit of humor and a lot of grace.

 

Winter is OVER

Yesterday I decided winter was OVER. I packed up my heavy sweaters and boots and carted them to the upstairs closet where I won’t have to look at the reminders of this extremely long, unusually frigid, massively wet winter. Never mind the temperatures in Alabama will hover around freezing tonight.  Winter.Is.Over.

And as I was relocating spring clothes, sandals and such I had such a womanly thought:  “I don’t have a good spring purse.  I want a pretty, light colored spring purse.  Guess I’ll go look for one next week.”

(Hang with me, men.  It would be as if you had the thought “I don’t have a good crossbow for hunting turkeys. Guess I’ll go buy me the MXB-400 next week…”)

But lo and behold, I opened up the tub o’purses and there it was!  The spring purse I bought last year!  The one I used all season and loved!

purse

So then I had another thought:

“I’m going senile.”

When I opened up that tub that I open every spring, every fall, a wonderful little surprise sat there waiting for me. Never mind I totally forgot I bought it, used it, loved this purse last year – there it was as if I’d never laid eyes on it.  (They say the mind is the first thing to go…)

And that is exactly how I feel when I read Scripture. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover several times (OK, I’ll admit that I skim some of the book of Numbers.  Counting tribes just doesn’t hold my attention) but a fresh new nugget never ceases to show up in my panning for spiritual gold.

Today the verse that caught my attention was Hebrews 13:8.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” I’ve read that verse hundreds of times. Got it underlined in my Bible. Hadn’t thought very much about it until today, but this morning the enormity of that small verse hit me.

I change, you change, we all change. But Jesus never changes.  He is the same Jesus of our great-grandparents, our parents, our children and future generations. We can trust in Jesus totally because His love, His forgiveness, His mercy is constant and unchanging.  It is we who constantly change – sometimes blooming, sometimes withering depending on our circumstances and depth of faith. But Jesus’ character does not deviate with the world because He is not of this world.

And I could go on and on about that verse – and maybe will in another post.  But for today, I encourage you to go find that purse (or crossbow) that you have forgotten you love so much and enjoy it all over again.

No, seriously – go read a passage of Scripture – one you’ve read countless times – and enjoy the newfound meaning in those precious words, those precious gifts from God.  You just never know what awaits you when you spend time reading God’s Word.

You can follow me on Twitter @LeighThompsonAU and enjoy my sometimes inspirational, sometimes humorous, sometimes quirky Tweets!

And if you like what you read, please share with others!  God told me to write for Him and my goal is to spread the gospel with a bit of humor and a lot of grace.

 

Halfway There

This morning I had a motivating thought.  I’ve clearly lived over half the life I’ve been given.  Heck, I may have lived 99% of it because I could go on in to glory today.  You might think that’s depressing, but to me it was motivating.

So I’ve lived over half my life and wasted about 1/3 of it actin’ afool.  You know the years to which I’m referring.  My personal craziness started at 18 and lasted a good 15 years or so.  Sure, I went to church, had my children baptized and all, but good grief – by my words and actions you’d never know I was a Christian.

The world can pull you down so far, so fast.  But thankfully I tapped into that little voice that longed for something more than this world had to offer.

And it’s been a slow process.  You don’t make the championship game (I have Florida winning it all in my March Madness bracket, BTW) without dedicating yourself to that goal. In my youth (it’s funny how now my 20’s are now considered my “youth”) my goal was worldly, no heavenly goal in sight.

Perhaps I needed maturity, perspective.  When I was 18 it was all about me (shocker).  And it remained all about me until I started to peel back the oniony layers of my life and discover Jesus has so much more planned for me, so much forgiveness available for me, so many blessings waiting for me…

ogre

So I’m clearly motivated.  Whatever time I have left will be spent getting to know Jesus more so that I can hopefully reflect Him in every day situations so that anyone who doesn’t know Him will want to know Him. Period.

In my years as Crazy Phyllis (yes, I actually gave a name to my other personality), passages of Scripture such as these used to make me feel unworthy:

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received…” (Ephesians 4:1)

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart…It is the Lord Christ you are serving…” (Colossians 3:23,24)

But now they motivate and encourage me to continue my walk of faith, one step at a time.

How are you going to spend the time you have left here on earth?  How will you spend today?

Blessings!
Leigh

You can follow me on Twitter @LeighThompsonAU and enjoy my sometimes inspirational, sometimes humorous, sometimes quirky Tweets!

And if you like what you read, please share with others!  God told me to write for Him and my goal is to spread the gospel with a bit of humor and a lot of grace.

The smartest pets on the planet

A little humor for your Friday…

My pets are smart.  REALLY smart.

Lucy

OK, so maybe they don’t look that smart in the picture.  But here’s some proof:  I’m often in my home office around 4:00 paying bills (oh, the joy), writing my blog (way more fun) or something like that.  Around 4:30 or so my cat Sweetie will make her first appearance, sent in by her partner in crime, Lucy my dog.

Their tummies tell them it’s feeding time – or at least it’s close to feeding time.  And Sweetie will meow, scratch a basket with her no-claws, chew my plant or try anything else she knows I find annoying to get me out of my chair and to open the magical food dispenser.  When I finally arise and walk around the corner there’s Lucy the dog staring me down with her laser-shooting eyeballs, kept out of my office by the indoor electric fence (best $100 I EVER spent, BTW).  They circle around me like two bull sharks in a sea of chum and then start the “happy pet” dance (literally – Lucy runs around the table in circles until I feed her) and practically knock me down they get so excited.  Lucy and Sweetie team up on a daily basis to reach their goal:  two bowls of the same exact boring food they get day after day after day.

To further prove how smart they are, get this: one time when we were out of town Sweetie told Lucy that the stack of cans on the kitchen table had real pet food in them – she could see the picture of a cat on the label, so in her kitty brain 2+2=….  well, you get the picture.  Anyway, Lucy knocked the cans off the table with her super sniffer and then preceded to chew through the can, eat the food, share some of the food with Sweetie, then eat some of the can for dessert…

So I have the smartest pets on the planet (and one with a cast iron stomach).  But by now you’re now wondering how in the world I’m going to relate this to Scripture…

It’s fairly easy.  My pets have learned you accomplish way more in life with a friend. 

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; If one falls down, his friend can help him up.  But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10, 12)

We are not meant to go through this life alone.  All throughout the Bible we find Scripture encouraging us to have someone along side us.  It doesn’t have to be a spouse – it can be another relative or a friend (Moses & Aaron, Paul & Timothy, etc.).  Having a person you trust go through life with you is crucial to helping you grow your spirit, manage life’s storms and enjoy its blessings.

If you don’t have that person in your life ask God for that special blessing.  “Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”  (Matthew 7:7-8)

Two are truly better than one!

Blessings for a wonderful weekend!
Leigh

You can follow me on Twitter @LeighThompsonAU and enjoy my sometimes inspirational, sometimes humorous, sometimes quirky Tweets!

And if you like what you read, please share with others!  God told me to write for Him and my goal is to spread the gospel with a bit of humor and a lot of grace.