Encouragement, one special shot, and ice cream

Wow is all I can say right now. My heart is full from what just happened at my son’s basketball game. Let me just begin by saying that Logan is not a natural basketball player. He’s much more comfortable playing on his iPad, reading, or just running around the backyard with his friends pretending they’re in Star Wars. So, when he decided that he wanted to try Upward Basketball this winter, he was stepping way out of his comfort zone. I heard from other mothers that Upward was a great place for kids to learn and be encouraged at the same time, so we agreed to give it a shot. After what happened today, I will join the list of mothers singing Upward’s praises.

Logan tries his best, but you can tell by watching him that he’s not confident on the court. He’s not even comfortable. When the ball comes toward him, he leans away from it so it doesn’t hit him. (He gets that from his mother, by the way!) His team was down 26-8 at the half. I saw him before the second half started, and I smiled, told him that he was doing a good job and to not be afraid. Then I sat down to watch what I thought would be a repeat of the first half.

I was wrong.

From early on, Logan just had the ball a lot more. I kept hearing his coach yelling instructions to him from the side. I wondered why he was putting so much attention on Logan. Then I started to notice things. I’m telling you, the whole mood in that gym was different. I saw Logan take the ball back across half-court when he shouldn’t have, and one referee signaled to the other to just let it go. I saw the coaches telling Logan to take the shot instead of passing the ball. The other team was even different. They were still playing, but they didn’t try to take the ball from Logan when it would have been easy.

They were all encouraging him. They all wanted him to succeed. His teammates, his coaches, the other players and coaches, and the parents watching were all rooting for him. And tears just welled up in my eyes at all these people, mostly strangers, being so good to my son. And it changed him.

He took the shots.

He missed, but he came closer each time. You could see the fear melting away from him. It felt like the final feel-good scene from a Disney movie where the kid who lacks confidence makes the final game-winning shot at the last second. Well, this isn’t Disney, and his team didn’t win…but Logan did finally make that goal. Even though his team lost, he came out smiling. Everyone there came out smiling.

What happened during halftime…

All this came about because of one kid. At half time one of Logan’s teammates went up to the coaches and said “You’ve got to let Logan make a shot.”

That one kid set the whole thing in motion. The coaches listened, the teammates listened, and they formed a plan. Their encouragement caused Logan’s confidence to grow. He was incredibly far out of his comfort zone by the end of the game, and he reached that point only because he could feel that everyone was on his side. He was given a chance by the kindness and graciousness of those around him, and he took it.

After the game the team met upstairs for snacks and to receive their stars for the game. Logan was given the game ball by his coaches, and the coaches also gave out two stars for “Christ-likeness” – one to Logan and one to the teammate who chose to think of Logan instead of himself. That room didn’t feel like the room of a team that lost. Even though the score on the scoreboard indicated a loss, the smile on the faces in that room indicated a big win.

Paying it forward…

“I feel confident about myself,” Logan told me on the way home. This is a day that he will remember. When a person feels confident, he will then encourage others. When a child is shown kindness, they will then show kindness to others. After we got home, Logan and his sister heard the ice cream truck coming down the street. Logan took his own money and bought ice cream for himself and his little sister. Showing grace to someone leads them to extend that grace to others. Encouragement is powerful. It’s contagious.

God tells us to encourage each other.

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

He knows how this works. He knows that when we think of others instead of the win, when we show others kindness and grace, when we give others a chance, they can shine. They can grow. And that confidence will lead them to then encourage others. What a lesson I learned from that game today. I wish I could give a star for “Christ-likeness” to everyone in that gym for encouraging my son and for seeing him not as he is, but as he could be.

Encouragement is powerful. May each of us be someone who encourages others. Give someone a chance…try to see what could be…give others a chance to take the shot. When you do, everyone wins.

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13

Running through the Rain

Autumn’s goal last week was to run a mile without stopping. When we set out on our favorite path after school the weather was pretty nice. It was about 70 degrees and a little cloudy. Autumn asked me if I thought it was going to rain. I told her that it might, but that we would be fine. Sure enough, about half way through our run, it started to rain. That little trooper just pushed on through and kept going. When we finished, we came to the end of a road and turned a corner. When we turned, we saw the most beautiful rainbow right in front of us!

It was a really nice moment. The rainbow was a striking sight, and I truly felt God’s presence right there with us. Autumn said “I don’t even care that you made me run in the rain.” (You would have to know my Autumn to know how precious that statement was!)

We completely forgot about the run that we had just completed and instead started talking about God’s promises. Rainbows always remind me of the first rainbow, and the promise that God made to Noah in Genesis 9:9-17. They remind me that God always keeps His promises. Always. He is faithful to us and will not disappoint.

My Favorite Promises

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  Matthew 7:7-8

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:9

In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.  2 Timothy 4:8

For He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”  Hebrews 13:5

These are verses that keep me running when I feel discouraged. They remind me not to give up and that I am not alone. They remind me to keep seeking and to keep doing good. When it’s raining and I want to quit running, these verses remind me of my goal. They remind me of God’s promises and His presence. He has not left me alone and He will keep His promises.

After the Rain

If we want to receive God’s promises, then we can’t let the rain stop us. Yes, it will rain. And, no, it’s not always fun to run in the rain. The rain gets in your eyes, which makes it hard to see. It makes the road slippery, so that you have to be very careful that you don’t fall. And let’s face it, it’s just not comfortable to be soaking wet. However, the reward is worth it. God’s promises are worth it. So, keep on running. If we don’t give up, there is a beautiful rainbow waiting for us at the end.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; Hebrews 10:23

Beautiful Misspelled Words

AE drawing age 6These sweet pictures hang in my office. I look at the messages that my youngest daughter wrote to me a few years ago and I smile. She wrote on one of them “I hope you have a good tiam at wrook tonnite.” I love it. I love the misspelled words written by her little hands.

I love them because I know the intent behind them. It doesn’t matter that they are misspelled. That’s not what I see. Instead I see the love that she has for me, and her desire to express that love. While it may not be perfect, it’s beautiful to me.

I take such comfort in knowing that my Heavenly Father views my expressions of love for Him in the same way. I am His daughter.

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:16

As such, I take comfort in knowing that He doesn’t expect me to be perfect. He loves me the way I love my daughter. My attempts to show my love to Him may have mistakes, but that’s not what He sees. He sees my intent and my love, and He thinks that it’s beautiful.

Sometimes I can be hard on myself as I look back on my past efforts. I think “Oh, I would do that so differently now. I can’t believe I did that.” Well, that’s just as silly as my daughter looking back and feeling bad about misspelling those words.  

Princess Autumn and Queen Mom

Princess Autumn and Queen Mom

Thinking about her pictures makes me a little more patient with myself – and with others. There are things that just take time and maturity to learn. They can’t be rushed.

Now, at age 8, my daughter knows how to spell all of those words correctly. She’s at a different point in her life, a point when I can expect a little more of her.

As Christians, we should be growing and learning as well.

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11
Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. 1 Corinthians 14:20

Parents expect more of their children as they grow, and God expects more of His children as well. That doesn’t take away from those early efforts, though. (I’m talking to myself here.) Don’t feel bad about those misspelled words. Don’t worry about what others think of them. Your efforts are beautiful in your Father’s eyes.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 1 John 3:1-2