That just wasn’t the plan

Our high school golf season ended yesterday. My husband is the coach of this quirky group of boys (aren’t all high school age boys quirky?), my son is on the team and so we’re heavily invested in the group, let’s just say.

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Before the season began my husband had in his head a general idea of how the season would go. He had 2 seniors, 1 junior, a wad of sophomores, and then a whole slew of 7th – 9th graders. For the first time ever he actually had enough kids to have a JV Golf Team. He made a plan based on the make up of the group, as any coach would do.

And then, rec basketball stepped in. Specifically, two of the players on our GOLF team suffered serious injuries playing rec league BASKETBALL. One player made a comeback and was able to play in the state championship. The other – one of our seniors – missed his entire senior golf season after suffering a torn ACL. (Sidebar: I’m fairly certain Coach is going to have a new rule next year: absolutely no rec basketball if you’re on the golf team. Period.)

Anyway, the guys on the team had to deal with different issues. My son dealt with two of his closest friends not being able to travel and play in tournaments. Others dealt with having to qualify to make the travel team. My husband had to work with a constantly changing line-up. Our senior who tore his ACL had to deal with coming back from a devastating injury and disappointment over missing out on his last high school golf season.

You know what I call all of that?

Life.

This season didn’t really look like what any of us had planned– but then again, so much that happens to us in life doesn’t look like what we planned.

We plan, we predict, we assume – and when it doesn’t go as we plan, predict or assume, what is our reaction? We can go one of two ways – we can be mad at God or we can fully trust in His provision for our lives.

“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow… Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” (James 4:13-15)

And you know what? Our injured senior will make a full recovery and play college golf next year. My son developed other friendships. Those who qualified for spots on the travel team learned perseverance, and my husband – well, he learned once again why he loves being the coach of a quirky bunch of high school boys.

God teaches us valuable lessons throughout our lives if we will take the time to learn from each situation and hold on to the rock – Jesus – no matter what life throws our way.

And yes, we need to make plans. But we should always want God’s plan FIRST, our plan SECOND, even if – well, that just wasn’t the plan.

Blessings!
Leigh

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“Me Time”

I used to want more “me time.”

I used to. When I was a young momma with a husband who traveled I would fantasize about the day when my children were a little more grown up, a little more independent and I would have time to read the ever-growing pile of Real Simple magazines (those were supposed to make my life more simple but if you don’t ever read them, well…), paint my toenails or watch a chick flick without someone announcing they just went potty by themselves. Those daydreams usually came about the 3rd day of my husband being out of town while I tried to keep the younger one occupied with a coloring book while I helped the older one with math homework on probability. (I never ever understood why we needed to figure out if you put 3 blue chips, 7 red chips and 4 yellow chips in a bag what the probability of pulling out a yellow chip would be. I still don’t.)

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Fast forward 12 or 13 years. And I do mean fast forward, because it feels like it was just yesterday I was breaking up fights in the front yard over which neighborhood boy shoved who first and making what seemed like endless carpool runs to gymnastics lessons in hope my overly tall daughter could find the courage to throw her long, lanky body backwards and do a back handspring for cheerleading tryouts. (She did. I could never.)

Fast forward to today, when I now have a sophomore in college and a sophomore in high school. True, I have one at home that can’t drive yet, but all his friends can so he might as well as have a license. I still have a husband who travels and for the most part I work out of my house, so that “me time” now comes in abundance.

Maybe it’s the amount my husband has travelled recently, maybe it’s the fact that the heavens have opened and poured down enough rain to annoy every soul in sight, maybe it’s the fact that I’ve cleaned out every closet and reorganized my pantry (twice) and even caught up on my son’s sports scrapbook that makes me realize this one simple truth:

I don’t like this much “me time.”

I’m a people person, a social butterfly. I get unnerved by too much quiet in the house.

So the question becomes, what do I do with all that “me time?” I wish I had a good answer today, but I don’t. I realized today that this is a precursor of days to come, when my daughter is out of college living her own life in another city and my son is off at college.

Why didn’t anyone warn us mommas how hard this stage of life is?

Oh there’s plenty of warning to young mommas – if you can survive the first 6 weeks of mixing up days and nights you can survive anything, make sure your baby sleeps on her stomach (or back, or side – depends on when your baby was born as to the “best” sleeping position), and keep your son in his car seat until he can shave.

But oh no, no, no, – no one warns you about this stage. No one tells you the pain you feel when you send your firstborn to college will feel like someone took your heart out of your chest and stomped on it. Or when your last one gets his license and no longer needs his momma to drive him places the sadness you will feel as you realize another string of dependence has now been cut with a rusty, hurtful pair of life scissors.

As I tell my “older mom” friends frequently, being a momma ain’t for sissies. At any stage of the game.

And the question comes again – what will I do with all this “me time?”

So I’m on a quest of sorts, and I’m determined not to look back with sadness over what is no longer but to look ahead to what is to come because I am truly thankful for every memory, the good and the notsomuch. I don’t know exactly what the future will look like for me, but I do know this:

“’I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)

That, my friends is TRUTH. And I’m looking to Jesus to help me figure out the best use of all that “me time” that I so desperately wished for all those years ago.

Blessings!
Leigh

Mr. Moneybags

“Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.” Matthew 26:14 

Just for fun, here’s a little background on Judas Iscariot. “Judas’ surname is more probably a corruption of the Latin sicarius (“murderer” or “assassin”) than an indication of family origin, suggesting that he would have belonged to the Sicarii, the most radical Jewish group, some of whom were terrorists.” (www.britannica.com) His birthplace also suggests he would most likely be from a hot spot of radical activity.

Something else we know about Judas – the Bible says Judas was the treasurer of the disciples: “…as keeper of the money bag…” (John 12:6) Unfortunately for the group, having Judas in charge of the money was like putting Bernie Madoff in charge of your 401K –He (Judas) did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12:4-6)

So he was a radical zealot-thief in charge of the money.

That’s comforting.

Judas sold Jesus out for 30 silver coins. To put that in perspective, 30 silver coins equaled about 120 denarii back in the day, or the equivalent of 3 months’ salary. So we aren’t talking about 30 cents or even 30 dollars. We’re talking about a pretty hefty sum of money that the chief priests put in front of a money-hungry, denarii-stealing Judas that day.

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But we’re leaving out a very important part of the story. Yes, Judas had an issue – he was greedy and a thief. But don’t miss this point: instead of resisting the devil, Luke 22:3-4 tells us, “Then satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.”

Judas’ issue led to a crack in the door which led to satan entering the crack which led to disobedience (sin).

So here’s what I learned studying this story about Judas for a bit. See satan didn’t approach Judas through alcohol or his golf game or his perfect children. None of those were his issue. Satan got TO him and IN him by means of the area he struggled with the most – greed.

(And just to freak you out a little, the enemy knows your issue, too.)

And once Satan knows what your issue is, he’ll use that issue to cut you off at the knees. He’ll use it to get you to do his bidding. He’s not stupid – in fact, satan is “the father of lies” (John 8:44) with plans to “steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10:10)

Just calling a spade a spade, my friends.

Judas had a weak spot and the father of all lies capitalized on it. Big time. We Christians have got to be better at standing up to the one who wants to use our weaknesses for his purposes instead of what our weaknesses are supposed to be used for – God’s glory. Come on, people. Let’s face our issues and stand up to Satan with a boldness that can only come from Jesus – it’s time!

Jesus said, “I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). He didn’t say, “I’ve overcome greed but not alcoholism, lying but not pornography, idolatry but not pride.” Easter morning is the validation that Jesus has indeed overcome the WORLD, and everything in it – including the enemy.

And you, with the power of the One who has overcome the WORLD, can overcome your issues, too.

“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

You have the power to defeat the enemy when he tries to use your issue for his purposes.

So use it.

Blessings!
Leigh

SBXV

What did you do for your spring break? And for all you above the Mason-Dixon line who actually take spring break in the spring – not in the middle of winter like we do down south – what are your upcoming spring break plans?

I did something I’ve never done before.

I took a road trip.

With my dad.

To Mississippi.

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My daughter is finishing up her sophomore year at Ole Miss, and my dad has wanted to go visit her ever since she hit campus. So yep, we took a few days at the end of spring break week (my high school son’s week – not hers, of course) and made the 5 hour drive to Oxford, MS.

Now there’s something you need to understand about my dad. His 50-year career put him on the roads of Alabama pretty much every week. He would drive all over the interstates, county roads, back roads… he’s been on just about every inch of pavement in the state. I can leave my house, start driving, call him at some odd time (as in, I’ve been driving for one hour and 42 minutes) and he’ll reply with something like, “Well you should be coming up on mile marker 168.” And sure enough, the next mile marker will indeed be 168 (which is both comforting and frustrating at the same time). He’s gotten me around more interstate wrecks via backroads than any helicopter-flying traffic reporter ever thought about, and provided endless knowledge about which fast food restaurants I’ll find at any given exit. So my dad knows Alabama roads. Period.

But this trip to Mississippi did a number on him. Once we left Sweet Home Alabama, he was a bit (ok, more than a bit) frustrated. He had already looked at maps – printed maps, Google maps, GPS maps – to get a feel for which roads we were taking. He had the route all planned out in his head based on the way he thought we should go.

But I don’t go the way the maps tell you. I go the way I know.

Which drove him crazy.

And even worse, I couldn’t tell him the highway numbers, exit names or where the next rest stop would be. He just had to trust me to get him where we were going.

That went over well.

Don’t we all want that? Don’t we all want to know where we are going and which road to take? But life just doesn’t work that way. Many, many times we just have to keep driving, trusting Jesus to get us where we need to go. If we take the route we think is best, we may end up in a place we never meant to go. If we are patient and listen to the directions our heavenly Father gives us, our destination is secure.

It’s a trust issue. Do we indeed trust Jesus to give us directions as we drive, all the while a little anxious because we can’t see our destination? Or do we create our own route because we just don’t trust His way?

I know how taking my own route usually ends up, and it ain’t good. It’s called lost, and that’s a lonely, scary feeling. I don’t want to be lost in life, and I know when I seek Jesus’ directions and guidance I’m going to stay on the path He has created for me.

“I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” (Proverbs 4:11-13)

Thanks to my first-hand knowledge on how to get through Mississippi, my daddy made it to Oxford.

Will you trust Jesus to get you where you’re going?

Blessings!
Leigh

A Holiday in the Hospital

You can just feel so helpless sometimes.

My daughter’s best friend lies in a hospital bed, fighting off a serious infection caused by her colitis. She hasn’t eaten in over a week, has had a serious cocktail of antibiotics, steroids and pain meds and can hardly get up to walk. The pain has decreased but is constant. She’s missed a week of school and work. And she just looks a little pitiful lying there day after day.

We go see her every day, try to tell her funny stories to cheer her up. And I will say to be that sick she has had moments of her normal sassy self, so that’s encouraging.

Anytime someone you care about is suffering you want to help. Sometimes you have the power or ability to do something, but not always. I’m no doctor or nurse. Heck when her momma described all the staff had done to her the room started to spin just a little and I thought I might need some smelling salts to snap me out of that black out spiral that happens when I’m around medical traumas. So no, I’m of no help when it comes to anything medical.

But I am not helpless. Satan would want us to think we can’t do anything to help others when their situation is out of our skillset, but that’s a lie. If nothing else I’m a fierce prayer warrior. When I tell people I’m going to pray for them, I keep on it until I hear that prayer has been answered. I can’t say I’ve always done that for people, but it’s part of my daily routine now.

And why? Why do I spend so much time praying for others?

Because prayer works.

God knows what’s on your heart. He knows your worries, your anxieties, your joys and your sorrows – He wants to hear you say it.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

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And when you pray, pray with confidence. Go boldly to the throne, believing that what you seek will happen.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

And no matter the outcome, let us remember the words Jesus spoke the night He was betrayed:

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

This earth dishes out a whole lotta pain. But I’ve seen prayer after prayer answered and miracles happen. And on the flip side, when prayers aren’t answered the way we want I’ve witnessed an indescribable peace in the spirits of those who put their trust in Jesus.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

So I’m going to the throne of grace with confidence, boldly believing God will heal our friend totally and completely. I’m asking that she will wake up one day without any symptoms or signs of colitis so that we can testify to the miracles God still delivers. But even if that doesn’t happen, I will trust His will and His plan for her is far greater than anything I could come up with.

Pray – be bold – wait expectantly – trust in Jesus.

Amen.