November 14, 2010

Game Faces

This weekend held state play off games for a few of our high school’s athletic teams. Our athletes conditioned, trained, studied, practiced and played hard to make it to the top in the state in their division. They are reaping the reward of all their efforts, time and sacrifice. As they go into final games they must ready one more asset – putting on the Game Face.

The Game Face is somewhat of an oxymoron which both conceals and expresses player emotion. Game face comes form any expression held that conceals the player’s emotions. Some players call it the THUG MUG. Others call it the ICE GRILL. Both of these versions use hostility and bravado to block out showing of authentic emotion. And let us not forget the POKER FACE which shows absolute lack of facial expression all together. But is does communicate intention and focus.
Sarah Gerhard (top competitive surfer) said "the winner’s game face is really a mental, spiritual and emotional quest – The minute you get into that zone your whole being, body language, expression and mentality changes. You see that stare, that intensity and the focus."
As I stand still pondering the game faces in these playoff games, it seems obvious that Game Face isn’t solely used as a sport asset. I think people are quite adept at using Game Face in all situations of life:
A leader trying to maintain control throws on the ICE GRILL.
A young person struggling behind the scenes with their home life throws on the GAME FACE in social settings. 
A student is beginning to feel behind – maybe a lack of friends – maybe unsure about the future decides to “man up” behind the façade of the THUG MUG.
A woman deals with changes in relationships with her kids,  friends seem to be distant maybe not quite in the same spot of life she’s in, tired of running on the treadmill of life feeling one step behind on come the POKER FACE.
Each of us has a whole repertoire of Game Faces we could claim.Truth is … Game Faces are bogus. First off – more people that you may realize, as you work so hard to maintain the facade see through it … yep …right through it, clear as day.
Why do we actually compound the weight and effort of maintaining the Game Face façade when it is worthless?
Secondly and more importantly, God has made each one of us uniquely different with our own strengths and weaknesses. He knows exactly who we are. He thoughtfully and lovingly designed every individual with purpose. So Game Face or no – He sees right trough it. He knows you and has confidence in who he made you to be. He uses not just our strengths but our weeknesses.  He gave us others around us to encourage us and support us. He sent His Son to overcome our greatest obstacle and lead us.
Now Stand Still. Look in the mirror. See yourself without any of those faces. Embrace that self. Allow others to know that self; support that self and encourage that self. Turn to His Word for the game plan this self should follow.
His Purpose awaits.

Galatians 6:2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Psalm 100:3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his.

November 12, 2010

Of Serendipity, Coincidence, Fate and Luck

Recently someone’s need, my readiness of circumstance, and timing all came together to bring about an opportunity and change in my life.

‘Serendipity’ was the word someone used to describe the situation as I shared the news. I’ve been standing still in consideration of “serendipity”.
Good fortune; luck; happenstance; coincidence; fate; kismet – all words and concepts that fall with serendipity. I have probably used each of these words. But in standing still with ‘serendipity’ I know that I really don’t believe in a single one of them.
This is what I do believe. There are no such things as serendipity, coincidence, chance, fortune, luck or fate. Nothing happens by accident.
It is Providence.
God in His omniscience provides direction, guidance, causation, benevolence and care according to His will and purpose. He does so for each of us out of great love. Everything happens in accordance with God’s plan.
Our Father’s greatest Providence came through His Son. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, He reconciled each of us unto Himself. This is the purpose of His heart. 1 Timothy 2:4 tells us He “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
Providence gives us what serendipity, coincidence, fate and luck never would be able to – a deep and lasting peace, hope and assurance.

Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11 For 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.

Psalm 33:11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

November 5, 2010

Hearing or Listening?

It was about dinnertime the other night. Kid2 and kid3 were intensely working on attaining the next level for a video game they’d been going at for awhile. Twice I had asked them if they were at a point that they could pause and help out with last minute dinner readiness. I poked my head out from the kitchen into the other room and asked in that firm mommy tone “Did you hear me??” Kid 2 looked over his shoulder quickly and said “More precisely mom – what you might want to ask is if we’re listening.” I raised an eyebrow and cleared my throat at which point the game was paused and I immediately had two helpers in the kitchen.

As I reflect on the past week, I find myself standing still with hearing and listening.
Two words I often perceive as being interchangeable similar in meaning. For the most part, I guess they are. But there is a difference, however subtle. Hearing refers really refers to the more physical aspect of registering sound – to perceive by the ear speech or sound recognition; the faculty of perceiving sound vibrations. Listening has more to do with the attention one gives to that which is heard – to heed; to attend closely for the purpose of hearing.

Standing still I wonder of myself – am I in the habit of hearing or listening? I think that my child’s perceptive comment was a reminder for me. I need to strive for listening each day – be attentive and engaged in my daily interactions with others. I especially need to be listening, not hearing, in my relationship with the Heavenly Father. I wonder how many times He’s raised His eyebrow at the use of my hearing.

Another thought comes to mind that makes me smile – I can know with certainty that God both hears and listens… attentively and lovingly.

Proverbs 1:5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—

Psalm 66:19 but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.