Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Making a mark

They were bigger, faster, stronger, smarter and older than we were - easily the best team in the co-ed community volleyball league.  In simple terms, we'd won 5 games out of the 36 in the season, and they had lost 4.

We went up against them valiantly and played our hearts out, because that's the reason we came, and we really were steadily improving. 11-21, 17-21, and the final 20-22 that was lost (or won, depends on whose perspective you're looking at) on a very sketchy call.

Obviously we were disappointed to have come so close and to have them overrule in their own favor, but nothing prepared us for what came next.   While walking off the court, our opponent said to her teammate, (for us to overhear) "I just can't get into games like that.  I don't even know why they play, they're so f***ing terrible!""

Our reaction was just what you might expect... we retreated to our corner, seethed, cried, seethed some more, and tried to piece back together our shattered faith in humanity.

"You guys, I feel a little sorry for her.  If winning a volleyball game makes her that mad, how sad is the rest of her life?"

"Guys, it really doesn't matter what she said.  Just let it go!"

"Seriously, what a sad person..."

"You know, we ought to go say something nice to her."

So ten minutes after the stinging remark was thrown out, three of us jumped up and walked over to where she was sitting with her teammates and friends.   I don't remember the exact words we said, but it was something like, "thanks for the game, you guys played awesomely, yada yada..."  What I do remember, the part that is etched into my brain is the way that their jaws dropped.  The girl who had vocally berated us sat there speechless, looking at the floor while her friend looked at us like we'd come from another planet.

"Why would you say that?  Why would you be nice?" he demanded.

"Because we really had fun playing against a team of your caliber.  It challenged and stretched us, and it was fun!"

We turned around and walked out of the gym with a spring in our step.   It took every ounce of self control I had to not turn around and look to see if there really were physical "coals of fire" sizzling on their heads.   It felt good.  We realized that in that moment, we were the better team.  We were bigger, stronger smarter, and in some ways, older than they were.

Two weeks later we re-matched this top team for the first game of the tournament, and I almost had to double check the roster to make sure it was the same team, that's how changed they were.  Their attitudes were transformed.  They offered encouragement, advice, and even praise to our fledgling team.  I don't know the story of their lives or what cause the difference, but I like to think that when our life story collided with theirs, somehow we left a mark.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Delta Flight #4533

I hate saying goodbye.

The tranquil sunset out the window in front of me almost matches tranquility of my desktop background, and my iPod ear buds are shutting out the bustle of the airport terminal to my back, but surrounding myself with peaceful scenes and soundtracks is useless when my heart is overwhelmed. I'm leaving this evening. Leaving the comforts of home, the soothing sounds of Dad's guitar, the balmy breeze of our southern California climate. Leaving Mom's gourmet cooking, connections with life-long friends, and late night talks with my sisters. I'm leaving the ocean, my brand new niece, my ailing grandmother, and all of my handsome brothers. Everything in me begs to stay, but obedience to God's direction says I need to leave.

As much as I hate to go, I'm confident that this is where God has me for this season of my life, and I'm cool with that.

Suddenly, sitting in the airport all by myself, I'm not alone anymore. I'm reminded that I won't be traveling alone, and my traveling partner has also gone before and paved the way.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your way's acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

I halfheartedly congratulate myself that I didn't cry when saying goodbye this time, and wonder if leaving will ever get easier. Somehow, I don't think it will, and I'm oddly comforted by the realization. I'm glad that I have a family who loves me. I'm so thankful we're close enough that it hurts to leave.

Trusting in the Lord means surrendering my will, my plans and my desires to His own, and joyfully living out His purpose for my life.

Delta's flight #4533 is now boarding at gate 59 as I pick up my bags ready to follow.

Monday, February 24, 2014

So much to be thankful for!

After snoozing my alarm just once, I jumped out of bed at 4:something this morning with a little extra spring in my step which was not entirely due to the fact that I had to hustle to get out the door without being late.  See, I've been opening the little coffee shop for a lot of mornings in a row, and today is my last opening shift before I have a week off.

This time tomorrow I'll be on a plane, heading home to see my family - laughter seriously clogs my throat like a sob when I think about hugging my sisters at the airport in the balmy (and smoggy) California air.

Thank You, Father, for the inches of snow that fell yesterday, blanketing our town in white - thank You for your blood which washes m,e even whiter than this snow.

Thank You for the contrast between Idaho's snowy Monday and the sunny weather that waits for me tomorrow in California - thank You for your presence which warms my soul, even warmer than that California sunshine.

Thank You for the family and friends You've given me, both here in Idaho and back home in California - and thank You most of all for Your Son, Jesus Christ, the friend who is closer than a brother.

As the sun comes up illuminating the snow this morning, I'm in awe.  I'm humbled, indebted, grateful, and so freaking excited to be going home tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Anxious for nothing

A pit of dread settled in my stomach as I looked at the first page of my final exam. Anxiety had been swirling through my head the whole weekend, but I'd put off the test long enough, and I was running out of time to get it done. I took a deep breath, and started in, shutting out the sounds and scenes around me. For the next hour, I agonized over the test, hoping that somehow, the answers would come to me.

When the hour was up, I turned it in to the proctor and asked for the second test, knowing that my results would be dicey at best. By the second page of the second test, panic began to set in.

What was I thinking? I'm not ready for this! I should have reviewed in the parking lot. I'm never gonna finish this! Help!”

It occurred to me that while I had asked my roommate to pray for me as I walked out the door, I hadn't prayed myself. I dropped my pencil then and there, and committed my test to the Lord, asking Him for clarity of mind as I finished the test out.

And then the wait began. Doing proctored tests means that the tests have to be scanned and emailed back to the school who forwards them to the instructor, who grades them at their leisure – and then, finally, after I've chewed my fingernails right off, and worn a hole in the carpet pacing back and forth, my results are posted.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

Today, after checking for my scores for the fourth time in four hours, I realized that I had to get my mind on something else. So, today, I'm being thankful for my God who is bigger than test scores, who is powerful and good, and who I can wholeheartedly trust with my future. And I'm dwelling on the gifts that He's given me.  Things like:
:: Dad, and his wise counsel
:: Mornings in the Word
:: Those cheerful early morning customers
:: Fellowship with other kids my age who are pursuing Christ
:: The awesome girls I get to work with
:: Radiant heat, cold mornings, hot coffee
:: Going home to see my family in a week.

Forget about the tests, and all of the tomorrows. Today has enough things to think about.