Mouthy Misinformation

photo by Glen Carrie

“Aww, c’mon!”

I was loud. I’ve a voice that carries quite well. Six kids gave me ample opportunity to learn to project.

This wasn’t a response to my kids. Or the grands.

I was at a soccer game.

Sydney’s team is a bit of a mix. There are gals who love the game and want to be there. And those who aren’t that committed to games and practices in 90 degree weather and the need to embrace sweat and dirt.

They were playing at a dustbowl of a field. We’ve not had rain in a long while, so the grass was brown and spiky. Dirt made up most of the pitch.

It was 93 degrees on the field. And there were no linesmen to help the center ref.

No one to help him know when someone was offside. A crucial rule in soccer because not abiding by it can lead to wrong goals.

Which happened.

I stood a ways down the field, by our goal because Syd plays defense. Two friends–moms of players–were with me. Time and again we saw girls from the other team offside. Which we all griped about. But it didn’t crescendo till the other team scored from that wrong position.

I screamed. “It was offside! You’ve gotta call the game fairly!”

He didn’t appreciate my comments. Granted, I wasn’t the only one yelling. The other moms joined me–we made quite a scene. One walked to the edge of the field for a few words, which pushed the ref over the edge. He told her she could leave. She did. She’d had it with the injustice of the situation.

I was hot under the collar–heat and anger do that. My response was to complain and gripe to those gals–an attitude they joined in with grand emotion.

We lost, 3-1. Could have won. So I complained to my girls, who were coaching the team.

Debbie didn’t let me get away with it.

“You know he’s been out here for several games. It’s not his fault he wasn’t assigned linesmen. He hasn’t had any today. And he did well to keep up with the game as he much as he did. You do realize how hot it is, Mom. Right?”

Facts I wasn’t aware of. Details I didn’t consider.

Ouch.

It’s so easy to judge others when appearances rankle my sense of justice. When I feel like my assessment is correct. So I make a statement that is not reflective of all the facts.

We live in a world full of judgement and criticism. I don’t like to be on the receiving end of someone’s incorrect perception. But I’m quite willing to toss my two bits into a conversation if I sense wrongdoing.

Speaking without thinking.

Jesus reminds me that judging others doesn’t help if I don’t first figure out my issues. If I don’t see the areas of my life where I’m found wanting. Often where I’m critical of others is an issue in my life.

I said I wanted justice. What I wanted was for Syd’s team to win.

Jesus is working on my critical spirit.

If I’d actually think before I opened my mouth, it’d be even better.

photo by Tom Sodoge

 

 

 

Having It All Is Never Enough

I’m a sports fan. Not a fanatic.

That would be my husband. Any sport. Any time. If he’s got a moment, ESPN is his go-to place to vegetate.

As I was getting ready to leave for work, Sports Center was on. I heard “He was found dead in his cell.”

It got my attention.

Aaron Hernandez, who’d been acquitted just days ago of a double murder in Boston in 2012, was serving a life sentence for the murder of a man in 2013. The reports said he hung himself in his cell.

He was 27.

How could someone with such skill and potential go so wrong?

He’d become a college football star at 17 at the University of Florida. He’d had problems there, but it was easier to focus on the great talent than the possible issues.

Drafted by the New England Patriots at the age of 20, he was already living the dream of many young men. Three years later, he signed a $40 million deal with them. Strong, athletically gifted, and rich.

Isn’t this the stuff of the American dream?

What many of us forget is that dream comes with a cost. For Aaron, it was the ultimate cost.

His mother said many of his problems began when his father died in 2006. A hernia surgery gone wrong. Unexpected. A huge shock to 16 year-old Aaron. His best friend and the one he loved most–gone.

Life became harder for him. Aaron, who’d always wanted to be liked, was finding ways to make trouble.

At 25, he became a convicted killer.

We live in a society that honors athletes as heroes. Their abilities on the field of play often outshine the challenges of daily life. Their marriage and family issues are not part of their allure. Those things can be excused if they win games.

The big names with the big bucks, the fine homes and the fancy cars.

Those things don’t equal contentment.

The world can give fame, fortune and fawning fans. These things last only as long as a person produces. When the next best thing, next greatest talent comes along, that person will be thrown to the curb. If a mistake is made or a sports star is seen in their brokenness, redemption is rarely offered.

The world can’t give is forgiveness, peace or hope.

People long for real heroes. Those they can aspire to be like and admire. Those whose names mean more than the next endorsement or title.

What we have too often are people who are hurting, just like we are. People who have problems, just like we do.

Choosing someone to emulate, to admire, should focus attention on character and integrity. Who they are in secret, as well as who they are before the media.

The only One who’s ever lived a life worthy of following is the One who lived a pure life. The One who lived to provide hope for others rather than being served Himself. Jesus was a true hero in every sense of the word.

My heart goes out to Aaron’s fiancee and his five-year-old daughter. They didn’t want to be the epilogue to this story. He was important to them. Not as a football player, but for the person they’d hoped he’d be.

It’s not having it all that makes you a hero.

It’s giving your all.

What Eggsactly Are You Looking For?

photo by Aaron Burden

 

I’ve deep convictions about the significant spiritual truths of Easter. I’ve found for myself that the empty tomb has been the promise of life and hope. Heaven is my guarantee because of Jesus’ gift for me.

Theology aside, with Easter, there must be eggs.

Colored eggs. Eggs filled with candy. Hidden eggs.

I don’t know how eggs became associated with the Resurrection, but they’ve historically meant new life. Which is what we have in Jesus.

Colored eggs are a tradition. As children, we looked for Easter eggs before church. Dad had his typical hiding spots. Every year, he’d manage to find a new place to keep us on our toes.

Now we’re doing it for the grands.

We filled almost 150 eggs with jelly beans and chocolate. Hid them downstairs, using various degrees of difficulty in hiding so each of the kids would have a little challenge.

Ryken, at two, requires eye-level ease. Low to the ground. Must be distinguishable from the surroundings

Six-year-old Isley is more intuitive and looks in things rather than just at things. She sees more than her brother but is also vertically limited

Teagan and Syd are old enough to look in the hard places. Climbing is essential and poking at things is necessary. They find the hard-to-see eggs that take true ferreting out.

Ethan is old enough to help stuff and hide eggs. He knows how his siblings think, and he knows what it will take to confound them and not frustrate them.

I watched as the kids scampered around the house. The call of sugar from those brightly colored plastic eggs was persistent. It didn’t matter what their age–the joy of discovery was equally great.

Candy brings grins.

What it made me realize was how much discovering truth about Jesus and the real Easter is like an egg hunt.

Most people want to know if this life is it. There’s a sense of something greater than us. We live in a vast universe with galaxies stretching for miles beyond comprehension. Our smallness in light of such magnitude makes many question who we are in all of this. How is it here? Why are we here?

It’s not hard to think in terms of a Divine Being, God, in this mix. An Intelligent Designer. Causing all this to work. Allowing it to be maintained.

We look for Him. Some are genuinely open and search without guile. Seeing the reality of God in every day and accepting that He is. Those are the ones who see Him easily. Not hidden.

There are others who have more questions, more doubts. God doesn’t make sense because the world doesn’t make sense. But they look honestly and find that He’s not hiding from them.

Some have serious issues of pain and suffering. They wonder how a good God could allow pain. They don’t want any Higher Being in control of their lives. They’ll look for what they want to believe about God, but only if He fits their structure. More difficult, higher, harder to grasp.

No matter how we look and whatever parameters we put on the search, He can be found. By anyone. There is no issue He won’t help us deal with.

If we look for Jesus, we will find Him.

That’s eggsactly what Easter is about.

 

 

 

Would I Really Be Considered Guilty?

photo by Carl Nenzen Loven

I was on my way home from a meeting and had to stop for a traffic light.

It’s part of what I’m supposed to do.

No one was coming either way. For quite a long time.

I waited.

I was antsy. It felt like the longest light known to man. I could have gotten a manicure in the time I waited at that light.

It finally changed.

And a car drove up. All that opportunity, and he missed it.

Traffic laws often feel annoying. When it’s the middle of the night, I’m at a stoplight and nobody else is even on the road, why do I need to wait?

Or worse yet, when I’m stopped at a light that’s not working correctly because it doesn’t change at all, when do I get to go? Why do I have to be the one to just sit there while everyone else gets to go?

Sometimes the way life works doesn’t make sense. In those times, I’d like to operate with my own authority and kick those rules to the curb.

I know what would happen. I’m the one who’d get caught. This would be the time when police appear out of nowhere to issue me a ticket even though five cars ahead of me have gone through that red light.

Rules and laws are necessary for the safety of all. I don’t question that.

Well, maybe occasionally.

The need for laws comes from our inability as people to self-regulate. We’re not fair to everyone. Nor do we treat all people kindly. If we all had pure hearts, laws would be unnecessary. We’d be naturally caring and honest.

Laws make sense.

Good Friday is the epitome of something not making any sense.

Jesus came to earth to show us God. To let us know that God cares for us. Delights in us. Knows and values the details of our lives.

He did wonderful things for others. Feeding large crowds from a small boy’s meager lunch. Healing sick people. Raising folks from the dead.

And yet, He was arrested. Betrayed by one of His own men. Went through a mockery of a trial which made no sense. Laws were used to meet a political end. Not for justice.

He was tortured. Beaten till He wasn’t recognizable. He was stripped naked and His hands and feet were nailed to a cross.

Not for anything He’d done.

For everything we’ve done. Every wrong action, bad thought, intentional misdeed.

Because a pure and holy God requires those in His presence to be pure and holy.

And we’re not.

The law was given to help us understand how we miss the mark of that perfection. Laws can’t save us. They condemn us when we break them.

Jesus, wanting us to spend eternity with Him, provided a way for us to experience heaven without having to be perfect.

He paid the price for us.

A necessary death. Because He loves us that much.

Some laws may annoy.

When it comes to redemption, I’m glad Jesus didn’t kick that one to the curb.

photo by Alex Jodoin

 

 

 

 

 

Your Enemy Is Not Who You Think

“There is no natural predator for killer whales. They used to think great white sharks were it, but the killer whales just flip them on their backs and wait for them to pass out. Then they eat them. They kill giant squids, too.”

This wasn’t a Discovery Channel program or a quote from National Geographic.

Six-year-old Isley was helping me understand why she carries two killer whale stuffed animals. She loves these critters. They’re strong, and in a fight with just about anything, they win.

I was in awe. Not only did she have her facts straight, but she understood the consequences of natural enemies.

When I asked her why she was so excited about learning this kind of information, she looked at me patiently. Hands on hips. “Nana, we need to understand the world we live in.”

She’s fascinated by animal facts. Her favorite TV show is “Wild Kratts”, a PBS kids’ show about the adventures of Chris and Martin Kratt. They are educational nature show hosts who also have shows on National Geographic Channel and Knowledge Network. They teach kids about the wonders of the animals that share this planet with us.

Isley doesn’t mess around with girly cartoons.

We walked to the playground during halftime of her big sister’s soccer game. We talked about killer whales and the enemies of different species. She looked around the different pieces of equipment. Turned to me and commented, “The only natural enemy on the playground is human.” She then ran to the slide.

I stared at her. When did she become so wise?

I watched her play with other kids. New friends she just met. One little girl would have nothing to do with her. Hung close to her mom and wouldn’t engage in conversation. Isley looked at me, shrugged, and ran to play with someone else.

Isley doesn’t see instant enemies. She sees potential friends. But she’s savvy enough to pursue what works and moves away from what doesn’t. What feels awkward or uncomfortable.

I couldn’t put from my mind the idea of natural enemies. Those who feed on the weaknesses of others. Isley, at her young age, grasped the significance of how others can hurt us.

Even more significant is the real enemy I face. Every day. Not flesh and blood people. Not made-up scary monsters.

It’s the enemy of my soul. Satan.

He was cast from heaven because of pride; he wanted to be God. Wanted what could never be his. He became the enemy of God. When Jesus walked the earth, Satan’s purpose was to destroy Him before He could save humanity. He believed he’d been successful when Christ was crucified.

Three days later, he realized it hadn’t gone as planned.

Life here is a constant battle between the forces of darkness, which try to keep us from the Light of God, and the power of God that seeks to offer us the hope of Life.

Our natural enemy is the one who can destroy our souls for all eternity.

Can you recognize your enemy?

Those killer whales? Their enemies?

That would be us.