Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Facing the Giants...

My heart dropped into my stomach.  Tears rushed to my eyes.  My mind went to places no football mom wants to go to.  Broken legs, concussions and torn ACL....  My baby is sitting in the far end zone with his team, waiting for his game to begin.  A rag-tag group of 11-12 year olds.   A few are taller than  me, but some of them look more like 8 year olds, with tiny spindly arms and just enough weight that wind won't blow them over.  Hyped up and ready to do what they love...  football.  When a group of players from the team they will be facing walk by and every jaw dropped from our side of the stadium.  There was no way these could be 6th and 7th graders...  They were huge and they had more swagger than P Diddy...

The "Intimidation Walk" as it was termed did exactly what it was supposed to do.  Our football players became little boys again.  They lost there heart right in that moment.  Not only were they going to lose this game, they were going to get crushed. 

Immediately I started praying.  My kid was one of the biggest on our team, but he was a baby compared to what he was going to be playing against.  Even though he was my biggest concern, the other kids that were a 1/3 of the size of these boy/men had me even more nervous.

When It was finally time for the boys to go out on the field, I watched heartsick, as they trudged to the center of the field to meet the opposing team.  There was a handshake, then confusion, and finally a delay.  In the stands we have no way of knowing what's going on... but we had been told that there were players from the previous game that were disqualified for being older and playing down.  I could only hope and pray that's what was happening down on that field, because surely those were men and not boys.  There had to be facial hair and muscles that could tell the story. 

After several minutes of the officials and coaches talking, we saw 5 or 6 of the other teams players walking off the field.  Then we heard mom's from the other side yelling about how we had some big players too and it wasn't fair to send their kids home.  Relief!  Some of the giants were disqualified.  But that still left 9-10 very impressive football players. 

The game went as expected.  The giants played a really good game of football.  They played the way I would love our boys to play, but they were huge.  They crashed through the O-line time and time again and when they reached our little quarterback they slammed him to the ground.  One time he laid there on the ground for 5 minutes and it looked like he was knocked out, but thankfully he was able to hobble over to the bench and stay there for the rest of the game.  

On that play the guy blocking our quarterback was so intimidated he just stepped aside and let our QB get crushed.  Who could blame him???  Not this mom. 

Play after play they crushed our O-line and kept us from scoring a point.  They laughed and jeered.  They talked smack, as did their parents who were making fun of our kids for getting hurt.   Even when they were up by 31 points, they kicked onside kicks and recovered the ball over and over again.  To say they demolished us would be an understatement.  It was a sound defeat and it hurt.

After the game the other team was jawing about how bad they beat us and how much we stink.  Even the parents were talking smack to our sad little team.  At one point a mom from our side said "Of  course you won...  you had 15yr olds playing against 11-12yr olds."  The mom from the other team said "No, he(her son I guess) is only 13."  Only 13 is still too old and he was one of the kids who didn't get sent home.  How old were they?

It's always tough to go home the loser, but this one really stunk.  It felt unfair, impossible even.  My son played one of the best defensive games of his life.  He loves that kind of challenge and I was so proud of him.  He knew from the beginning there was no way they could win, but that didn't stop him from playing his heart out.  He sacked, he picked, he plowed through their O-line, but he lost.  Play after play when the score board said "give up...it's no use"...  he played his position to the best of his ability to the last play of the game.  He has more heart than I do.  But, he still lost... bad. 

Sadly, we were gonna have to play this team again.  It was hard to make it through that game, much less endure another one just like it.

The next day, we received an email from our league...  The "giants" had been disqualified for integrity issues.  As suspected all that swagger couldn't belong to boys who had yet to go through puberty.  Disqualified.  It didn't count and won't be playing them again. 

Yeah all that jawing...  for nothing. 

That reminds of another story.   You know the one where the 12 guys are following this one guy around, who claims to be the Savior of the world.  You know the one where that guy gets put  on trial for blasphemy and sentenced to death.  The one where he is beaten to the point of no longer resembling the man he once was.  The man who was mocked and his beard pulled out and spat upon.  The man who carried a roman cross on his beaten and bloodied back, with a crown  of thorns crushed into his head.  The man who was nailed to a cross for healing the blind and making the lame walk.  The one who died beside  common criminals.  Yeah it reminded me of how those guys, who had laid everything on the line and followed this guy they thought was Messiah.  Now here they are staring up at him on a cross.  Defeated.  Disillusioned.  Confused. 

The enemy is simply giddy.  He's won.  He played dirty.  He screaming from the roof tops...  It's over.  All is lost.  NOW WHAT??????

Those guys have no idea what to do now.  The guy with all the answers is gone.  It's over.  He's buried inside a tomb. 

BUT, that's NOT the end.  It's just the beginning.  Early in the morning on the 3rd day they get the call.  He's not there.  He's RISEN.  Death, lies, sin, shame, the enemy of our souls...  all DEFEATED. 

Death disqualified.  He is Risen.  Hope is restored.  Jesus conquers the enemy. 

11 men are overwhelmed and can't believe what they are hearing.... He's ALIVE.  Everything is going to be OK. 

David asked the question many times...  Why does my enemy prosper?  Sometimes it looks like the bad guy always wins...  but that's not the end of the story.

There have been so many times following Jesus and doing what he wants me to do, has put me on a field, staring across from an opponent who is stronger than me, tougher than me, he understand the game better than I do.  The other team crushes through my o-line and knocks me to the ground.  I've been know to lay right there and not get up.  I don't have the heart to try again.  I want the coach to put me on the bench and forget about me.  The other team is jawing at me with all their puberty laced testosterone and I'm shaking in my boots.  I'm not the kid who thrives off stiff competition.  I'm the kid that turns sideways and just lets the enemy run through. 

But, GOD,  help me to remember that even though I might be weak and not much of a player, even though I will lose a lot of games...  The end of the story is I'm on the winning team.  The star player has won the super bowl already.  The enemy will be defeated.  You want me to get back up again.  You want me to hold on to the TRUTH... that IF God be for me, who can be against me.  You want me to remember how much glory you get using the weak things of the world to confound the wise. 

You used a young shepherd boy to slay a 9 ft. tall giant and you can use me, no matter how impossible that might seem. 

It's hard to remember and sometimes the game "looks" so lopsided that you start to believe that it's all for nothing  and it would be better to give up...  but keep your eyes fixed on the truth that Jesus already won the game...  Just keep playing your position til it's over.  Get back up again.  Shake it off.  He's got this!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Hard to love.

I have 5 children, each one of them unique, beautiful, and challenging in their own ways... but I have this one...  don't judge me, but he is hard to love.  I don't mean the feeling of love... although there are days and times that even that is in question, but I mean hard to love in practical ways. 

The child argues with me about EVERYTHING... although I realize this is a parenting flaw for not nipping this thing  in the bud, just feel for me right now.  He would live off of junk from dawn to midnight, which he thinks is an appropriate bedtime for a child of 9.  He would try to enter college (only to play football), without even an elementary graduation, because in his mind school is pointless.  His expectation for a large portion of his day is to eat crap and sit in front of any screen.   He moves from the couch in front of the TV, to my phone, where he checks IG (not his), fantasy FB, and  the upcoming schedule of every sport know to man.  After he's had his fill of the phone, it's "mom can I play the xbox?"  No matter how long he's been in front of any of those screens, he has a conniption every time he is told to get off.  God forbid I told him no in the first place. 

Now lest I make him out to be all bad, he is the life of our house.  He is laughter and fun.  Always up for a party and making people laugh.  He's always dancing and singing.  His eyes twinkle with hidden magic and he crushes me in his hugs daily.  He's the first one of my children to say "I love you, mom."  And when he actually does like what I do or say, he is equally expressive about his excitement. 

I feel bipolar throughout the day, because when he's happy with me I'm the best mom EVER, and when he's not I'm the worst.  But the funny thing to me is it's ALWAYS what's good for him or what is best for him that he doesn't like.  All the things he's upset with me about are actually all the things that are good for him...

Educating him, feeding him veggies, limiting his screen time and junk food, making him do chores and all the other horrible things I force upon him, are actually the times when I'm loving him.  Love is an action.  It's doing what's best for the other person.   It's only when I'm fed up with him and not liking him very much, that I throw my hand up in the air and say, "do whatever you want to do."  It's at that point that I've stopped caring. 

After a particularly hard school day this week I escaped outside to my patio and threw my prayers up to heaven, feeling defeated and frustrated, I asked "why, what, how"  Why?  What do I do about it?  How do I turn this ship around? 

Sadly, as I sat in that chair pounding on heaven's door, feeling sorry for myself...  I heard the faint whisper...  he is just like you. 

OH MY GOSH...  He is JUST LIKE ME.  When my life is exactly the way I want it... I praise God.  He is wonderful and amazing and wise and faithful.   BUT, when I don't like what's going on in my life or he says "no" or if I have to wait or if I can't make sense of my circumstances, hell hath no fury like Angela, not pleased. 

I want everything the way I want it.  Forget the fact that I am not the all-powerful, all-knowing, commander of my own destiny...  Half the time I don't want to get out of bed and I can't function unless I've had 3 cups of coffee and sometimes the simplest things in life get me down.  Forget that I would live off diet coke and chocolate.   Forget that I would utterly destroy my life, if given half the chance.  Forget that all I want is happiness and entertainment and parties...  I still think I'm wiser than God and better able to  determine what I need in life, and if he get's in the way of what I've decided I want, I pout, cry, whine, and throw fits.  I am hard to love and I would never have recognized it, if I didn't see it in my hard to love child. 

Thankfully, my heavenly Father is NOT like me at all.  He says, "no power in  heaven or hell can separate me from his love.  Nothing I do will exasperate him so much that he throws his hands up and checks out on me.   He loves me enough to not let me have my way and for that I am undone.  As much trouble as I give him, and he keeps right on doing what's best for me, whether I like him for it or not. 

His love is beyond my understanding.  His faithfulness endures forever.  His mercy is new everyday.  His ways better than our ways.  His thoughts higher than our thoughts.  Today...  I want to believe all this and trust Him to know better than I do.