Balancing Act

Have you ever heard the expression about a person “wearing a lot of hats”?  I think we’re all competent enough to know that it is figurative.  (That’s the English teacher in me.). The older I get the more responsibilities I feel like I have; the more “hats” I have to wear.  This past year, 2014, I’ve realized that life is all one big balancing act.  I know I’m not the only one who has a lot going on, but I realized this past year I was wearing a lot of hats:  teacher, co-worker, coach, youth worker, PLC leader, daughter, sister, friend, and follower of Christ.

When you wear so many hats, life can get out of whack if you don’t handle it properly.

Many people get overwhelmed easily.  I feel like I handle stresses and pressures differently than most.  It takes a lot for me to reach my breaking point when it comes to stress, duties, and everyday tasks of life.  I’m not superhuman though; I do break every once in awhile!  But the past six months or so I’ve found the perfect balancing act.

So how have I managed to not collapse?  Honestly, putting prayer and the Word at the center of it all.

Before every new year I come up with 5 goals, I don’t call them resolutions (not sure why).  I figure calling them goals keeps me on track a bit more.  I came up with a goal for each of these five categories, these were my 2014 Goals:

  • A spiritual goal:  (to get closer to Jesus by praying EVERY day)
  • A goal for my soul (my mind, will, or emotions) (memorize scripture that has to do with my emotions, particularly anger)
  • A physical goal (squat 45s by the end of soccer season)
  • A goal that has to do with my family (get closer to my family by calling them once a month)
  • A financial goal (pay off my credit card before the last day of school)

Without my first goal, about praying EVERY day, I would not have been able to wear all of those hats or even accomplish my other goals.  And ALL of the glory DEFINITELY goes to God.

I’m thankful for the “hats” He gave me to wear in 2014.  I’m thankful He provided a way for me to wear all of them comfortably, all at the same time.  I do have my 2015 goals picked out and I’ve been praying about them… I won’t share them yet, not until the new year has started…

But writing this post, I wonder if God has a change of “wardrobe: for me in 2015?  Maybe He has more “hats” to add to my collection?  Maybe some of my “hats” will “go out of style”?

Only time will tell!  Looking forward to the New year!

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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.

Warnings are There to Protect Us

We’re given warnings all of the time in life:

  • When you get pulled over.  Instead of the police officer giving a ticket, he extends mercy and gives you a warning instead!
  • In my classroom.  I always give a warning when a student misbehaves, and I also let them know what will happen if they continue with that behavior.
  • On a McDonald’s coffee cup.  It flat out says, “Caution:  I’m Hot”.  A warning with a hint of humor!

A warning is a warning because it means that if you do this… then this will happen.  So what happens if you choose to ignore the warning?  Yes, it is a choice.   If you get pulled over and ignore the warning, you’re going to get a ticket next time.  If you ignore the warning a teacher gives you, the next time you’ll probably get a detention.  If you try to chug a nonfat Caramel Mocha (personal fave!) from McDonald’s without letting it cool off, you’re going to burn your tongue.  And probably talk like you have a speech impediment for the rest of the day.

Warnings are meant to protect us from bad things that could happen.

There’s other types of warnings, too.  God uses people, His Word, the Holy Spirit, circumstances, and many other things to warn us as we go about our daily lives.

I’ve recently had to deal with a consequence because I didn’t pay attention to the warnings.  A friend told me:  “Hindsight is 20/20”.  So true. The warnings were there.  Plain sight.  I just didn’t take heed, didn’t think anything about it.

I honestly have no one to blame but myself. And I’ll tell you why:  The exact same thing I’d been praying about (it’s right there on my prayer list!) is the same thing I’m having to deal with a consequence for.  I was praying for something and then doing the opposite of it!  #Dumb!  If you’re someone who prays or keeps a prayer list, I have a warning for you based on my recent experience:  Don’t pray for something and then do the opposite of what you just prayed for.  It’s hypocritical.  I’m super embarrassed and ashamed.  Secondly, God will do His part but you have to do your part, too.

We can pray for things to change but we have to do our part as well.  For example, if you’re someone who’s addicted to alcohol, you’re not going to overcome it by going out to parties and bars, no matter how strong you think you are!

The warnings are thereFor a reason.  In many different forms.  We have to:

  1. Choose to listen
  2. Choose to obey
  3. Choose to change

Warnings are there to protect us. Take heed.  God loves us.

…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.

What to Say When You DON’T Know What to Say

I’m the type of person who always needs an answer for things. And if someone asks me a question, I want to always be able to give them an answer.  But one thing I continue to learn the older I get is that it’s okay to not have an answer for something…

As a teacher and coach, there comes a time when something is said or done and you’re usually the person who always has a response. People look to you for an answer.  Whether it’s a student or a player.  I imagine the same for parents, too.  I often relate stuff to being a parent, (even though I’m not one), because I imagine teaching and coaching is like… well, parenting.  They’re just not my blood!.  I can think of two specific occasions in the past year where something happened and I didn’t know what to say, and something was said and I didn’t know what to say.

Scenario #1:  This past spring during soccer we lost a game in double-overtime to the best team in the conference.  My players were so torn up.  They collapsed on the field.  After the game I took them behind the bleachers to have our post-game talk, and they were all crying.  They were crying out of frustration and disappointment.  They honestly played their hearts out that game,  only to lose in the last six seconds, it was heart breaking. For them as players and for me as a coach.  Not because we lost, but seeing them hurting, hurt me.  I had no idea what to say to them.  What do you say to a group of teenage girls who just lost to the same team in double-overtime that we had JUST lost to the previous season in double-overtime as well?  It was a David vs. Goliath story.  Unfortunately, Goliath prevailed.  I was speechless.  I didn’t want to do the “coach thing” at that moment.  It wasn’t the time.  But I had to say something.  They needed to hear something… so… we prayed.

Scenario #2:  A student approached me at the beginning of class and said his little brother was having heart problems and possibly cancer.  He was telling me this in front of the whole class as people were gathering to their seats, and he asked me about how bad it could get, that if his brother could die from it.  I had no idea what to tell him, plus I didn’t really feel like it was my call to give him any of that information.  Again, I was left almost speechless.  But he was looking to me for a response. I analyzed the situation and tried to deter attention away from him because by now students were beginning to eavesdrop.  We ended up lining up for lunch and I privately whispered to him, “If you need anything let me know.”  I later responded on my own through prayer and asked my friends to pray for him as well.

So what do you say when you don’t know what to say?

  1. Pray.
  2. Pray.
  3. Pray some more.

We don’t always have an answer. But we can always have a response:  Prayer.

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.)