Lessons from my boy

Words can not express how much I love this boy. He amazes me and teaches me so much each day. Each of my children opens my eyes to a new way of seeing things. The latest lessons come from Logan after his first swim meet last week.

Logan loves swimming. He is happier in the water than most anywhere else, but this is the first year that he’s been part of an official swim team. It gives him a way to learn swimming techniques and a chance to try something new. He doesn’t even have to compete in the swim meets, but he wanted to try the first one last week.

Earlier in the week he learned the butterfly stroke. He mentioned in the car coming home that day how bad he was at it. We talked about how it would just take practice. He was just learning it, after all.

When we got to the meet on Thursday, the first event he was listed in was the butterfly of all things. Now, here is where the first of the lessons comes in.

Lesson One: Try something even if you’re not perfect at it.

I was not about to make him swim something he was not comfortable with in front of all those people. Doing anything before I am completely prepared and confident makes me seriously uncomfortable. I’ve had many a nightmare based on exactly this concept. However, not Logan. Instead, he said “Well, I’ll give it a shot.”

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Did he swim the butterfly perfectly? No, but he did it. He didn’t let fear of failure stop him. As a result, Logan walked away from the meet that night proud of himself for trying something new.

He didn’t finish first that night. In fact, he finished last. However, he was not discouraged. He had a new experience to learn from. Here is where the second of the lessons comes in.

Lesson Two: View challenges as a chance to grow.

Even though he finished last, he wants to do it again. With a smile on his face, his exact words were “Well, the good news is I have plenty of room for improvement!

Do you see why I love this boy and have so much to learn from him?

When he is not perfect at something, he sees it as a chance for growth. It’s a challenge. An opportunity.

How else do we grow but by facing a new challenge?

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

As a friend recently said to me: Growth is evidence of life.

I’m so proud of Logan for viewing this particular challenge as a chance to grow. I love watching him grow and live boldly and without fear, which leads to the third of the lessons he taught me last week.

Lesson Three: Be confident in your support.

One reason Logan has no trouble trying something new is that he doesn’t really care what other people think. I mean that in a good way. He knows that his family loves and supports him as long as he is trying his best. That gives him confidence.

Before going down to swim, Logan said “Even if I come in last, it will be okay.” I assured him it would be. The only time my children disappoint me is when they have a bad attitude or they are lazy. My children know that my husband and I are always proud of them when they do their best, regardless of the outcome.

Doesn’t our heavenly Father feel the same way about us?

In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, the only servant that God is not pleased with is the one who was too afraid to do anything, the one who hid his talent in the ground.  (Matthew 25:25)

We shouldn’t let fear of failure or fear of what others think keep us from using our talents.

In John 12:42-43 the Bible speaks of those who believed in Jesus but were afraid to act upon their belief for fear of what others would think of them.

“for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” John 12:43

Logan wasn’t worried about what the people in the stands thought of him. He knew that their approval didn’t matter. He would be loved and approved of by his family no matter what.

That’s what God wants of His children.

When we feel confident in God’s love and live only to please Him, it frees us to cast aside fear and thus to grow.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

And how about a piece of pizza?

When Logan was done swimming for the night, he walked back up to where I was sitting. I smiled at him, gave him a hug, and told him I was proud of him. Then I bought him a piece of pizza. You’ve never seen such a happy boy.

My aim this week is to apply these lessons from Logan.

I want to accept a challenge as a chance to grow, confident in God’s approval, even if the outcome is not perfect.

When I live boldly and without fear, my heavenly Father will be there waiting and smiling when I finish my race.

I want to hear Him say “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)

At that point, it won’t matter what anyone else is saying.

I’ll have the love of my Father and my pizza. What else could I possibly need?

“But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” Hebrews 10:39

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