When “Success” is Elusive

Whether due to our American culture or simply the carnal flesh, most of us are hungry for success.

Not always in the forms of fame or wealth, sometime we just want a sense of growth or progression. (Or a small assurance that we’re not irretrievably screwing up our children? Anyone?)

A young, courageous man taught me a lesson on this topic recently:  Read more

Oops. I did it again.

LearningAnd I’m not proud of it.

Nor am I proud of quoting a Britney Spears song. But that’s beside the point.

Today in Bible study we looked at Colossians 3:18-4:18. This is one of those passages. One of the submit passages that induce eye-rolling and consternation across female populations. Our discussion time was rich; we grappled with the text and our culture.

And then it was time for me to teach it.

A few minutes into the lecture one of the ladies stood up and walked out.

Just like that. Gone.  Read more

The Bright Side

PraiseworthyQ: When is the bright side not the right side?

A:  When it’s the left side.

A few years ago I shared my comedic shopping travesty with you. My brush with fitting room fame was a direct result of weakness in my left shoulder. Since that time, I’ve had surgery, gone through rehab and made reasonable weight training part of my regular routine. (I blame P90X for my original injury. Sorta.)  Read more

When you need a reason to stay in the game

Staying in the Game“I don’t want to go.”

My daughter informed me that she had qualified to run in the district track meet but that she didn’t care to.  Only the top three runners in each event are sent to compete with students from all the other schools in our area. Her news thrilled me, so I puzzled over her reluctance.

It didn’t take much probing to determine the cause for her lack of zeal: Read more

Not just a bad thing. Anything.

I like checklists, categories and formulas.

If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you already know this about me. In my life as a Christian, it’s tempting to reduce my relationship with Jesus to a set of behavioral checklists to satisfy. In my dialog with others, I see how many of us desire to know the ‘right’ way to act so our lives conform to the Christian image. In essence, we want a category to put things in so as to please God (or at least convey that appearance).

In reading the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20 of late, I was apprehended by the command against idolatry:  Read more

His Alone

Two sports. Same season. Vastly different results.

My daughter has been playing basketball in a non-school league, as mentioned in On the Court: Part I and Part II. During exactly the same timeframe, she’s also been competing on her school’s track team. In terms of success, the two experiences have been diametrically different.

In track, she’s been her team’s lead female runner in the 1600M, earning the highest place for the school in each meet even if she didn’t win. On the basketball court, however, her team has suffered excruciating losses, logging 30 and 50 point deficits with nary a win for the entire season.  Read more

Rejected

My skin isn’t thick enough.

Because I’m in my early 40’s you might expect me to have the emotional capacity to shrug off feelings of rejection. But I don’t. At least not all the time. A series of events colluded against my heart over the last few weeks:

  • I’ve recently tumbled down the list of people whose opinion matters to my teenage daughter. Developmentally normal, I know, but I still feel the loss of her esteem.
  • A heart-felt, oft-expressed invitation to come visit us was again turned down; our family’s hopes of sharing special time with people we love were dashed.
  • Several of my children have experienced isolation from their peers, in some cases for their faith. My mother-heart feels their pain as my own.
  • Our Easter Sunday was spent without the fellowship of friends or family.  Read more

$12,000 Attitude Adjustment

A $12,000 royalty check from book sales.

Not my book, mind you. Not my check. This royalty check went to author Patrick Wensink, whose book was an Amazon best seller last year. While a sizable sum, it puts him right at the poverty line for annual earnings, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. He shared the fiscal details of an author’s plight in an article last week. Ironically, the article posted on the same day I met with my tax advisor — the day I confronted my own meager earnings from 2012.

When I later read the article, it served only to spiral me further down into the depths of discouragement. If his earnings were so insubstantial even after time spent at the ‘top’, what chance do I have of contributing to my household income as a writer and speaker? The only thing lower than my book’s Amazon ranking was my spirits:  Read more

Striving or Sitting: Dollars, Pounds and Resolutions

Like many of you, I’ve been reflecting on the last year and setting my sights on the next, waxing philosophical about my life and how I can improve it and myself. Through resolve. Are any of these common new year’s resolutions on your mind?

Weigh less. Exercise more. Eat better.

Work less. Work harder. Achieve more.

Spend less. Pay off debt. Save more.

Some of them are on my list, too. And I love lists. To wrangle the chaos of life into neatly bulletized lineups gives me the perceived control that evades me in reality.
Read more

In the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit… and Versace?

I found it scandalizing. And confusing. And sad.

I recently saw a video clip of a woman offering tips on how to make an adult baptism stylish. I struggled to understand why a baptism needed to be stylish and was concerned that the point of baptism — an outward expression of faith in Jesus Christ — had been missed.

I still feel the main purpose behind baptism was lacking in the clip, but I am reticent to judge harshly the faith of a person I ‘know’ only through a 90 second spot. As I reflected further, it occurred to me how often baptism and styles of worship are sources of division in the church. Perhaps that’s because, at least to some degree, we’re all missing the point?   Read more