My 2017 BHAGs 

Today is a very special day. It’s my half birthday. Which means in exactly six months I’ll be the big 30. I’m actually looking forward to my thirties!  I have some goals that I want to accomplish in that decade, like running a 5K, paying off my student loans, and continuing my education. 

But I have ten years to do all that (Lord willing), so instead of bore you with my future intentions for getting older, I’m going to bore you (possibly encourage or inspire you) with my goals for 2017 like the majority of other social media posts are currently doing.  

A few years back I started setting goals for five different areas of my life:  Spiritual, Soul, Physical, Family, and Financial. In 2014 I killed it and met all of my goals. 2015, killed it again.  2016… Eh, not so much. It was hit and miss. Like Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve debacle.  Like lyrics to her performance, my overall performance with my 2016 goals was mediocre. Not quite tragic…. because I did have some success in there.  But I definitely could’ve ended on a better note. 😉

With this New Year of 2017 comes new goals and a newfound determination!  I’m thankful the Lord has made me a goal-oriented person.  This year instead of one goal for each category, I’ve decided to do two.  

Now, you may or may not have heard the term BHAG or SMART goals, but we use them in the education profession,  other professions use them as well.  Let me explain what each acronym stands for:

BHAG = Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal

If a goal is a SMART goal, it is… Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant, and Timely.

So on that note 🎤 Here are my 2017 BHAGs and why I chose them:

Spiritual Goals

1. Focus on one scripture a month.  I want to go even deeper in my walk with God, and ultimately get better at memorizing scripture and being able to recall it in moments of need.  

2. Read my Spurgeon every day and night.  I have a 365-day morning/evening devotional by Charles Spurgeon that a friend gave me and I’ve been meaning to delve into it. One thing I want to get better at in my spiritual walk is not just spending time with God in the morning, but in the evening and throughout the day also. Note:  a devotional does not and will not ever replace my daily reading of God’s Holy Word. 

Soul (mind, will, emotions) Goals

1. Be healthy, happy, and strong. This is general and broad, but definitely measurable. And this is more toward being mentally and emotionally happier, healthier, and stronger than I was in 2016. 

2. Read (at least) one book a month.  This is geared more toward my mind and just gaining more intelligence, expanding my vocabulary (#nerd), and getting away from my my phone and Netflix.  I’ve probably lost a lot of IQ points. 

Physical Goals

1. Get down to a certain weight.  Normally I don’t set a weight goal, but last year I lost 32 pounds since February, just eating right and making smart choices, not even working out!  And it’s only a twelve pound goal. This one is more of just a motivation to continue to clean up what I eat and add exercise as a hobby into my life. 

2. Stop biting my nails. If I’m ever going to get married, I want these bad boys to look good for engagement photos!  Hahaha. No, in reality, they’re just atrocious. That’s the real reason. Something I’ve always wanted to stop doing. 

Family Goals

1. Go visit twice.  I don’t see them enough, and I know they are disappointed about it, and frankly I am too. What if I’m the only one who will ever share the gospel with them?

2. Send a card/gift for each occasion.  I’m terrible at this, even with friends. I just want them to know that I DO care and I DO remember. Just a nice little gesture.

Financial Goals

1. Not use my credit card at all.  Last year was my worst year for this.  Thankfully I’m not in too much debt, but I definitely realized I don’t need to be spending money I don’t have. Duh. 

2. Put something in savings every month.  Just a good habit I want to get into. Because eventually I’d like to open up a MMA and put more toward my retirement. (Must be a sign of my thirties quickly approaching.)

With that, I’m excited for 2017 and everything God has for me. He was faithful and the one true constant in my life last year, the years before, and the days and years ahead. 

Youth Camp 2015: Takeaways

This past week at Silver State Baptist Youth Camp was amazing as always!  It never gets old seeing God work in the lives of young people. And even adults, too. The preaching was amazing. Here are some things that really stood out to me:

Brother David Hetzer, Keynote Speaker of Chapel Services:

  • Don’t be a sluggard to responsibility.
  • Don’t be slow to the place God is trying to get you in your heart.
  • You don’t get to determine what day God shows up at your life.
  • There should be a spiritual desire to know what God has for you. Don’t wait on your friends or youth pastor or others.
  • When the Word is open approach it as a harvest. 
  • Being around the Bible doesn’t make you closer to God. You must be about the Bible.  
  • Being around the gospel doesn’t make you saved.  
  • Being around the Bible doesn’t make you understand God, responding to the Bible helps you understand God. 
  • Are you just a passenger with the Bible? May God help us to be in the driver’s seat.
  • All people have an accent concerning the truths of God. Our life reveals our accent of what we believe. Your life speak about what God says. We all have an accent. Accents come from the people you’re around. What’s your accent?  Is the accent you have right now the accent you want to have in two years?  To change your accent you have to want to. As long as you choose the wrong accent you’re going to be speaking the same way.
  • Your friends are more than people you hang out with. They set the course for who you will become. 
  • Are the people you’re close to taking you the right way?
  • All of us have a country, places we are known to be a certain person.
  • All of us are born spiritually blind. 
  • Jesus wants to change you bigger than your country, beyond what you and other people think you can be.
  • Jesus wants to challenge us out of our country and do more with us than we ever imagined.
  • We wrestle and struggle when Jesus challenges us to go beyond ourselves.
  • When we get familiar seeing things a certain way, it’s hard to see that God can do more and we limit his power. 
  • Don’t box yourself in.
  • If you don’t trust God to do more with you than you think is possible, you’ll never know what he has for you.
  • God will make you more than you ever thought you would be.
  • Jesus is bigger than your country; he will use people to turn the world around. 
  • What is God calling you to tonight that you’re afraid of?
  • Love is not wrong. But Samson loved the wrong kind of woman. He chose to love the wrong kind of person. 
  • When you love someone who doesn’t really love God and doesn’t want to go where God wants them to go or where God wants you to go, you just put a cap on your life.  
  • The type of people not to marry: unspiritual people,  selfish people, users/seductive people, insensitive people.  
  • Be the right kind of person and love the right kind of person.
  • Life is like a road trip. You need to pay attention to what kind of car you’re getting in because that will affect the rest of your life.
  • People generally seek friendship for selfish reasons. 
  • Don’t operate like general society who’s always wanting a handout from people. Live above and beyond that. 
  • A Christian lives their life looking for how they can give and help others… not for themselves. 
  • Defy the normal way of society by being a giver not a taker. 
  • Are you more of a giver or a taker when it comes to God?
  • Why do people stay unmoved? Because they don’t realize how big a sinner they are. Some people get used to their sinfulness and don’t think it’s that bad.
  • When you stop getting convicted, you think way too highly of yourself and too low of what Jesus has done in your life.
  • You in your own strength are unable to do what God is calling you to do by yourself. 
  • If you want to go from desire to fulfillment, you’re going to have to seek Jesus.
  • Keep going until you see God break through in your life. True faith is persistent. Do not allow failure to discourage you to quit. Keep pleading and praying, be persistent!

Brother Rex Harmon,  Hillside #2 Speaker, missionary to Jamaica:

  • As you develop friends and acquaintances, they will affect your life.
  • Be careful of the friends you pick.
  • Who’s looking at you? Are you pointing them in the right direction?
  • As a believer you’re never on your own.
  • The lost need a Savior, they don’t know where He is. They need someone to tell them.
  • The Word of the Lord is the biggest weapon.  Hold on to the Scriptures, don’t let them loose. Put them in your heart. 
  • Serving God pays big dividends. 
  • God is your biggest weapon, learn how to use Him. 
  • God knows our needs before we do.
  • When we get close to God, he shows us what love is.
  • As we walk along in our life, God pays attention to every step we take. 

Brother Ron Jones, Hillside #1 Speaker

  • We never really change unless we want to.
  • Action is always associated with your will.
  • If you disobey you have to pay.
  • Our problem is we don’t fear God anymore.
  • You can’t say no until you’re willing to say yes.
  • Living in standards is a good thing.
  • Don’t set wickedness in front of your eyes.
  • Nobody knows what you do, or think in private, that’s where your character is revealed. God sees it. 
  • You control your own eyes.
  • There are people around us who say they’re saved but they’re really not.
  • Darkness must be driven out by light. 
  • Walk in light, be light, so they can see light.
  • God doesn’t need our opinion, he needs our obedience. 
  • The people that are around you do make a difference of who you are and who you will be in the future.
  • Most people have one or two friends that are wicked and they might even be saved in the youth group. Don’t be identified by their ways. 
  • How are you supposed to win the lost? Be different than them. 
  • Don’t use man’s psychology to talk to people, use the Word of God. It’s quick and powerful. 
  • If you hang around froward people, you too will be froward.  Frowardness is a poison. It turns into gossip.  Cut off the froward person and walk away. 

Such a great week!  Excited to see how God works in people now that we are off the mountain!  

Until next time…

Conditional Love

At the high school I coach at, all the head coaches are currently doing a book study.   I don’t mind it.  I’m an English teacher.  So reading doesn’t bother me.  We’re reading a book titled InsideOut Coaching by Joe Ehrmann.  I recommend this book for coaches, teachers, and even parents.  It gives great insight.  A lot of what I’ve been reading so far has made me think about and even question my coaching and teaching.  (Which I’m pretty sure is the purpose of the book!)  As I was reading this week from Chapter 4, one thing the author said caught my attention and it has been on my mind the past few days.  Needless to say I must write about it:

Conditional love.

We all hear the phrase “unconditional love” or “loving unconditionally”  tossed around here-and-there throughout our lives.  But in this one paragraph of Chapter 4, Ehrmann says something that has really put my brain in a scramble!  He says:

“We may see our children as extensions of our needs for validation, acceptance, and approval.  Their performance has the power to aggrandize or minimize us.  The social status of the parents of the star players increases; parents can beam; parents can be proud of their genetic product– a part of themselves out there performing well.  What’s worse, I see many parents subconsciously make their displays of love conditional by showing more approval and affirmation if their child performs better on the field and less approval after a bad game.”

This really made me think about my coaching and teaching. Even my life as a friend and as a daughter.   I’ve been guilty of subconsciously showing conditional love to my students and players based on their performance.  When in reality, my love and care for them shouldn’t be conditional.  We all have our days, I know.  But I’ll be the first person to admit that most times it’s by my body language and facial expressions that shows my conditional love.  One thing I’ve learned from this book so far is that these kinds of things have lasting impressions on our youth.  The disapproving looks.   The scoffing.  The cold shoulders and silent treatments.  Teenagers will grow up years from now and remember some of these moments of disapproval or conditional love that might still be burning in the backs of their minds.  Whether it’s from a teacher, coach, or even a parent.

I’m thankful as I grew up playing sports that my mom was never conditional towards me with her love based on how well I performed athletically or even academically.  My mother loved me no matter what.  Whether I had 2 points or 20 points.  Whether I stopped every single goal or got mercy-ruled.  She didn’t base her love for me by conditions.

And when I think about it, I’m reminded of the love My Heavenly Father has for me.  His love is unconditional.  I’m so glad He’s not up there wagging His finger at me, or giving me the silent treatment when I mess up in life.  Nope.  He still hears when I call.  He’s still there when I’m not.  He loves me the same on my worst days AND my best days.  His love does not change.  He’s the ultimate example of what love is and what love should look like.

So, if I’m being open and transparent (like I promised I would be back on my very first blog entry), that’s one thing I’m definitely going to focus on this semester:  I don’t want my students or players (or anyone else at that matter) to think I love and care about them only if they perform well; or that I’m only proud of them when they’re being successful.  I want my displays of body language, facial expressions, words, and reactions to match my heart.

14-in-1s: Second Chances (Part 1)

When I played basketball in high school my coach would make us do what’s called “14-in-1s”.  It’s a form of conditioning.  You line up on the sideline of the court with a partner behind you to count.  One minute is put up on the clock.  When the whistle blows, you have one minute to sprint to the other side and back… 14 times.  Hence why they’re called “14-in-1s”.

Well, I couldn’t break tradition.  I make my 8th grade basketball girls do this every day.  The first group goes.  Then when the buzzer goes off, the second group goes.

There is an incentive though.  If you make it… you don’t have to do it again.  Unfortunately, if you don’t make it then you have to do it one more time.

The girls are given a second chance.

As the girls run their hearts out in the 14-in-1s, it hurts me to watch when the whole team doesn’t make it.  There’s a few stragglers.

This season, God has really opened my eyes when they’re running their 14-in-1s.  It makes me think of all the chances God gives me to get things right.  I’m so glad He doesn’t just give me two chances!  I’ve failed, failed… and failed some more.  As a teacher, as a coach, as a friend, as a daughter, as a Christian.  I’ve missed the mark.  I’m not afraid to admit it.

The thing about the 14-in-1s is if you don’t make it the first time, you won’t make it the second time.  Your body is so tired from working so hard for that first minute, and one minute’s rest in between while the other group goes, is not enough.

I’m thankful the Lord gives us so many chances!  However, we can’t lean on that; we have to learn to give our best the first time.  Be obedient the first time.  Do it right the first time.  Try our hardest the first time.  Yes God gives us chances.  But if we stay stuck where we’re at, eventually we won’t even recognize the opportunities as chances anymore.  We’ll continue to miss the mark and overlook those opportunities, and that could even affect the lives of others!

It hurts me to watch the girls who don’t make their 14-in-1s the first time, to have to do it again.

I can only imagine how much it hurts God to continually see us miss the mark when we know exactly what to do and how to do it. Whether it’s with disobedience, sin, temptation, lack of Bible reading, or time in prayer, etc.  He’s given us the tools:  The Bible, the Holy Spirit, a great Pastor, and even encouraging friends who are in the race with us (which I’ll talk about in part 2 of this the next time)…

I’m thankful for God’s mercy, forgiveness, love, and grace…  But my advice to you tonight is don’t rely on getting a second or third or fourth chances. We never know when our chances will run out.

…And Bless the Coaches for Their Time

Eighth grade basketball has started which means I’ve been super busy.  I feel my plate starting to overflow with life’s daily tasks. But one thing we make sure of as a team, is at the end of every single practice, to pray. It’s not forced. If they don’t want to be a part of it they don’t have to. I’m thankful everyone is though.

I love when new people step up and say they want to pray. And then a lot of times I hear a whisper from them before they start that says, “I’ve never done this before” or “I’m not good at this” or “I don’t know what to say.”  It makes me glad that a 14 year old girl has the courage to pray for her basketball team of 24 people out loud. That can be quite nerve wrecking especially if they don’t have much experience praying or public speaking.

But there’s this one young lady I coach.  There’s just something about her, every time she prays… She’s the one who when I say, “Can I get someone to lead us in prayer please?”… She’s the one that if no one says they will, and there’s that awkward silence, she always steps up to the plate. And when she prays, she always says, “… and bless the coaches for their time.”

Wow.  A fourteen year old girl asks God to bless her coaches!  That blows me away.  It really helps.  It’s encouraging.  It’s the perfect way to end practice.  Especially after long, difficult days in the classroom and on the court.  A lot of times with coaching, it can be overwhelming and time crunching.   We have to find a balance between God, ourselves, our job, our friends, and our family.  Hearing a middle school girl pray that God would bless our time is just what I need to hear sometimes.  It pushes me forward.  It makes me want to be a better coach and person at that.  I’m so impressed with the players’ courage, especially at this age group.

Sometimes the players aren’t the only ones learning.

One-Sided Prayer Time

Saturday morning I woke up super determined to accomplish my huge to-do list. I even wrote it all down (OCD probably).  It consisted of:  Going to watch the middle school cross country meet, grocery shopping, work out, do my lesson plans for the upcoming week, clean my dishes, and go to a youth group get-together.  I had a full plate of things I needed to do that day.  I left my apartment around 8:00 in the morning.  Filled up my tank.  Got on the road.  And then I intentionally did something.

I turned off my radio and I listened to God the whole way there.  I was completely convicted that when I’m praying I shouldn’t just be asking for stuff, I should be listening, too.  If you ask someone for advice, you don’t turn your back on them, you listen to what they have to say, right?  And let me tell ya’, the Holy Spirit was definitely talking to me.  He told me things that I needed to hear.  I also felt extremely at peace during my drive there.

So I get to Hugoton and the meet was about to start in fifteen minutes. I stopped at a gas station and got one of my favorite snacks, banana chips!  As I was pulling out of the parking lot my phone rang and it was the athletic director at the high school.  He asked if I would come help out at the volleyball tournament.  I was in a dilemma.  I had told some students that I would be at the cross country meet but I had also told the AD a few weeks ago,  “If you ever need any game workers let me know.”  He sounded really desperate, so I said yes.  I did a u-turn and drove all the way back to Liberal.  I was kind of annoyed, not with him, but with myself, because I had just drove all the way to Hugoton to support my kiddos and I was driving back and I thought to myself, “Wow, so I basically just drove out to Hugoton to get banana chips…”

And then God spoke to me again: It shouldn’t take me having to drive forty minutes one way and forty minutes back to have an intimate time to listen to the Lord.  Wow. #Conviction!

One of my commitments at camp this summer was that I wouldn’t stop praying for or about something just because it wasn’t being answered. And I was doing a decent job of that for the past few months (I can always do better).  But it’s like what I said earlier, when you ask someone a question, don’t you want an answer?  When you ask for direction and guidance, aren’t you going to listen for the response?

I was asking God for all of these things during my prayer time but I wasn’t taking the time to listen to what He had to say about those things. To hear His response.  To give an ear to His guidance in the certain situations I’d been praying about.  It was definitely a one-sided prayer time.

Looking back 24 hours later, I’ve come to the conclusion that I didn’t just go to Hugoton for a bag of banana chips. I had an amazing time with the Lord just by listening to my Heavenly Father and being his daughter.  God is so good and so gracious.  He has things to say.  We just have to intentionally tune our ears to hear Him.

Prayer time should be two-sided.  The drive there and back… was worth it.

P.S. (I must also add that I’m uber thankful that it was something as small as having me drive to Hugoton and back to get my attention about listening to Him rather than something bigger like a death in the family, a financial crisis, personal struggle, etc.)

Life is Like Interval Training

So there I was, thinking about soccer… Well, more specifically coaching soccer.  And I got to thinking about how I condition the players.  I’m a firm believer that interval training works, if done properly.  Change of speeds and distance covered.  I think interval training is one of the most successful types of conditioning for soccer players.  That’s why I have my players do it a lot.  They probably hate me.  But they’ll thank me later!  (I had a senior who graduated in 2013 text me and say thank you for making her condition so much during soccer because she went running one day and someone asked if she ever did cross country.)  It was after she graduated but hey, I still got a thank you.

Back to interval training.  My two favorite types to make the girls do are 15-30-45’s and 120’s.  For those of you who don’t know, during a 15-30-45, they sprint for 15 seconds, then jog for 15.  Sprint for 30.  Jog for 30.  And finally sprint for 45 seconds, and then jog for 45 seconds.  No walking.  No resting.  And then… we go back down.  Sprint for 45 again, jog for 45.  Sprint for 30, jog for 30.  Sprint for 15, jog for 15.  And that’s just one set.

The other one I mentioned is called a 120.  The girls have 20 seconds to sprint the length of the field (120 yards, hence why they’re called “120’s”).  And then 40 seconds to get back.  So they basically have one minute to get down and back, but the first leg is a sprint, the way back is a jog.  And they have to do it in the allotted time.  They do five of these.  It’s pretty rough.  For them anyway.  I mean the only rough part for me is yelling how much time is left and blah blah blah.  Strenuous on the vocal chords.

But with interval training there’s an important part.  A key component.

To let your heart rate come down a little bit so you can prepare for the next round.  My girls love the rest part.  Obviously.  Actually they love the part when it’s over.  They get a one minute rest between sets.

But I was thinking about it today, and I realized that life is like interval training. We go all out sometimes, a full sprint ahead, then maybe we find a steady pace, but if we’re not careful we’re going to burn out.  If we don’t have that much needed rest.

I’m the type of person, I’m always on the go, especially when school starts back up (like it did this past week) and then again when basketball season and soccer season start.  I know myself well enough to know that if I don’t take a little rest, I won’t be at my best.  My friends won’t get my best.  My family won’t get my best.  My students and athletes won’t get my best.  My job won’t get my best.  And God won’t get my best.

And that’s unacceptable to me.  Sometimes, all we need is a little rest and we will find ourselves motivated and rejuvenated; ready to go and give it our all.  I’m thankful for a God who loves me the same when I’m at my best and at my worst.  But He definitely deserves my best.

So Until Next Time…

P.S. There’s a difference between rest and just being pure lazy and a sluggard.

Devastating Moments

lockerAs a teacher, I can tell you the most devastating moment for seventh graders.  The first day of school.  It’s even devastating for me, because I have to WATCH them be devastated.  They all look like deer in headlights.  New school.  New teachers.  New type of schedule.  Passing time?  What’s that?!  Everything is new…It happens every year…

The students go to their I-Block class (first class of the day, I guess you could compare it to homeroom).  As a teacher we face that awkward first-day-of-school silence and in the back of my mind I can’t help but think, “I give this two days.”  Because, well, you know how middle schoolers can be.  Silence is not in their gene pool.

So I meet-and-greet them; try to make them feel as comfortable as possible; but I try not to smile too much, because after all I want them to be a little intimidated haha.  And then I talk about my classroom expectations as they stare at me in complete silence, almost as if they’re looking through me, not even at me.

And then it happens.

Locker practice.  Yup.  I take my students out to the hallway with all of the other seventh graders and their teachers, and we attempt to open lockers.  They’ve never had lockers before.  They don’t even know how to use a combination lock!  And it never fails, I always have that one student who just can’t seem to open their locker, and they’re on the verge of tears, whether they’re a boy or girl.  And they ask me for help, because that’s what I’m there for.  And I do it.  Get it open, easy as pie.  And I explain and show them how to do it… overand overand over… because they still can’t do it.  This goes on for about five minutes, and then finally they master it!  And there’s a huge exhale of relief and smiles going around.  Because by this time everyone has gathered around to watch.

But then you have another student.  There’s one left.  The one that I haven’t had a chance to get to yet.  The quiet one.  Who others noticed couldn’t get their locker to open and even they tried, but they couldn’t succeed either.  And so I go over, ready to work my super-teacher magic. Popping my knuckles in my mind.  And disappointingly, I can’t get it either.  And the student looks at me with puppy dog eyes as if to say, “Mine is the only one that won’t work?”  And I make attempt after attempt.  But still fail.  And then I have to disappoint them and say, “I’ll have to let the office know your locker number so they can fix it.”  And the kid is so embarrassed.  I can see it on their face that they just want to cry, but they won’t because, well, they’re in seventh grade now.  Goodness, it breaks my heart to have to break their heart.  So I try to divert everyone’s attention by heading back into the classroom to transition to their next class.  In the meanwhile I write down their locker number on a post-it so I can get it to the proper person to get it fixed.

This is one of the most devastating moments a seventh grader faces hands down.  And I have to witness it every single year.

The funny thing about this is as an adult it seems so trivial.  Because we face different types of devastating moments as we get older.  Ones that make not being able to open a locker seem like just a miniscule bump in the road.  But to that seventh grader, that bump is like a giant boulder laughing in their face as it blocks the entire road.

I think it’s important as adults when we face devastating moments to relax.  Take a deep breath. Maybe seek someone to try to help you through it.  Will that person always be able to help?  No. They might try.  But they might not have an answer.  But I know someone who always will:  God. Know that in the end everything always works out, not necessarily as we planned, but it still works out.  The locker eventually gets opened.