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Shields for Strength

I am currently sitting in the surgery consultation room, waiting for the doctor to come inform me of the progress of my mother’s surgery. For the second time in five years, she is getting her kidney operated on to remove cancer. I am waiting to hear how she is and if they took all the kidney this time, or left some. The need for her to be ok, regardless of whether she has only one kidney or one and a partial, is very real.

Aside from the fact that she is 70 years old and I am nearly 48, I still need my mom. While I sit here through this process knowing that my job is to be the rock for her this time, I still want my mom to comfort me. Does this ever stop? Is there a time in one’s life where we reach a certain point and accept the fact that we may be the caregivers instead of the other way around?

I’m comfortable in the role of providing care to others, especially my family, and even more to my own son. I know he needs me, he’s only seven, and still prone to moments of knee-clinging, eye-averting behavior. I know I will roar like the most ferocious beast ever born if push came to shove for his needs.

Make no mistake, I will ROAR just like that bestial lioness if my mom needs me to, but my first instinct is to shrink in fear and want someone else to carry the shield. As I type this, I realize I’m only fooling myself if I think I really am strong enough to absorb all this on my own. I need God.

So as I often do, especially in times of turmoil, despair, and uncertainty, I open the bible and find Psalm 18:2. “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

I knew it in my heart of hearts that someone else was holding the shield for me. I felt too strong for it to be just my own courageousness. Of course God’s got this. Who else could withstand the weight?

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Rise Above

Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings” writes celebrated french author Victor Hugo in his six-part poem, “Songs of Dusk” from 1836.  This beautifully written poem in long form alludes to two travelers ducking away from the hustle and bustle of the busy life and loudness in the town to the inner sanctuary and calmness they find inside a local church.  Are we, as administrators often experiencing the busy movement and hurried activity of our daily lives inside our schools, like Hugo’s travelers going from place to place, task to task, problem-solving episode to the next, just hoping for our chance to pause in our flight and duck inside a calm moment and catch our breath? Then, knowing the perfect bubble of peace is about to pop, we rise off our branches like the illustrious bird, having gained that moment of reprieve and fly off to our next mission of the moment?

I propose for  all educators and especially administrators to carve out a small piece of your day, shut the door of your office, and reflect upon your day in the form of a journal.  Write about what happened to you during the day, or stumbling blocks that you came across that gave you moments of pause, or things that made you angry and you need to sort out, or something that a student did that made you happy and forced a smile out of your busy face.  Even if you just make a list of the things that you still need to get done for the week, this practice will stop and recenter you for the day.

If you struggle with ideas of what to write about in order to get yourself started, ask yourself questions like, what was the best part of my day today?  What is an area I would like to see improved for tomorrow?  If I could change one thing about my day what would it be? What is something that someone said that gave me pause today?  Another tactic you may choose is to look up a quote of the day or an educational hot topic and journal about that.  

The main point is to write down your thoughts and feelings and to do it on a regular basis. Psychologist and researcher, James Pennebaker urges us to consider his findings that the practice of journaling strengthens our immune systems, helping us come to terms with stressful events and thus fights off those stressors that impact our physical health.  Other research suggests that journaling regularly can reduce the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis (www.psychcentral.com, 10/12/19).  Furthermore, the act of writing engages your left brain which is in charge of all things analytical and rational.  While journaling, your left brain is busy which frees up your right brain to create, feel, and perceive and conclude the days events.  This allows you to make sense of the happenings of your school day, the people you engaged with, and how you want to improve your school life overall.

When I think about journaling, I liken it to some best practices I know teachers and principals already use in their classrooms.  When teachers read aloud to their class, one idea is for them to have written on post-its small reminders of what they want to talk to their students about as events happen in the story or as characters bring certain points along.  Teachers use these notes as a guide to remember the important points.  Another practice that is similar is the idea of “stop and jots.”  This is when the reader takes a note card or a post-it and writes notes to themselves about a vocabulary word, interesting events, or tidbits about the book  they are reading and leaves that note in the page where they had the thought. In science lessons I have seen students use connecting journals to compare and contrast concepts they learn in science to things in their everyday world around them.   Lastly, when I see a really great lesson, or learning moment in a classroom I leave a personal note to that teacher or class for them to read later so I remember it and so they know I noticed magic happening.  You see, writing is at the heart of what we do all across the school, why not take a moment and extend it into our own well-being in order to elevate ourselves and our professional practices?

I know what you’re thinking, who has time for one more thing? However, the truth of the matter is we all need a way to manage our stress and to find a way to live our best lives– inside and outside of our school buildings.  A few minutes of journaling a day will help you find the pathway to living your best life and lowering your stress.  So many times in my career I have thought, “OH man!  That one is going in the book!”  I’m sure we all have those moments when something happens, someone says something that is unbelievably funny, or makes us shake our heads in disbelief.  

My favorite journaling moment from last year is this: two second grade boys were brought to the office for fighting in the classroom.  I mean, this was full-on, punches thrown, and down on the ground fighting, early in the morning one day.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t a first-offense for either boy and it resulted in an emergency removal for each student.  When the second boy’s father showed up to take him home, the boy recounted his version of events, which included the fact that the other boy had started the incident by throwing donuts at him during the “breakfast in the classroom” time.  The dad quickly asked, “Son, were you throwing donuts?!” This boy’s face went from solemn to aghast in a split second.  “Oh no, Dad,” the boy said.  “I don’t throw donuts, I EAT donuts!!”  It was all I could do not to bust out laughing in the midst of this exchange because this boy seemed more upset about the thought of wasting a good donut than he was about the thought of his impending punishment from his dad about fighting. The moral of this story to me is that kids are still kids and they’re resilient in spite of the situations they may find themselves.  

The type of journaling in the example above is slightly like the reporting style of journaling where the writer simply tells about the events without really reflecting.  An opposite style of journaling is called review and refocus where the writer considers the situation and makes simple suggestions or a plan of action.  A third type of journaling, called analyzing is when the writer interprets the events, figures them out, and tries to make sense of the situation, perhaps even evaluating it.  Lastly, there is the reconceptualizing style of journaling when the writer reworks the views and ideas of an event, then states a philosophy or vision of education (Evans & Maloney, p. 31, 1998).  

So think about it:  you’ve had a long day, you’re tired, and slightly stressed from the emotional tug-of-war that comes from creating the right balance in an elementary school.  The inevitable thought comes to your mind, “What more can I do?”  My suggestion is this, stop and think, write it down, and let yourself relax and rise above in that moment.  Like two friends sitting by a warm fire and snuggling over their simmering cups of steaming coffee, writing in a personal journal to reflect upon the days events and emotions is the perfect way to elevate yourself, your colleagues, and your administrative practices.   

REFERENCES

Evans, G.C. & Maloney, C.  (1998). An Analysis Framework for Reflective Writing. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 23(1).  p. 29-39.

Hugo, V.  “The Bird” as retrieved from www.diannedurantewriter.com on 10/12/19.
Purcell, M.  “The Health Benefits of Journaling” 10/8/2018 as retrieved from www.psychcentral.com on 10/12/19

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Find Your Joy

by Julie E. Kenney

I have found myself to be in the mud in May.  The days are long and the nights are short.  It is so hard to get out of bed and make myself trudge into school each day when it’s cold and rainy one day and bright and sunny the next.  Have any of you ever felt this way?  When I first started out, I never realized being a principal could be such hard work!

Every day, the needs of my staff, the teachers, the parents, district office, and the students seem to pile up.  Testing concerns, IEP regulations, professional development improvements, and brainstorming sessions about how to make things better are never ending. Sometimes, I just want to get back to the basics of education!  Can I even remember what they are?  As a systemic unit of professionals, a building working towards a unitive climate, or even just me striving towards peace, how can we find our joy in the midst of all these stressors?

Speaking solely for myself, for me, I first have to force myself to stop.  Stop what I’m doing and just breathe.  I close my eyes and picture my happy place:  My tan toes digging into the sun-warmed, white sands of Fort Walton Beach, Florida while the crystal-clear, aqua waters of the Gulf of Mexico lap at the shore lines.  That image sends a feeling of peaceful zen through my core to my very soul. 

This is the message (FIND YOUR JOY) that I share with my staff when the ditch of February falls upon us and their long, sad faces line up at my office door for miles at a time, each asking the unending question, “Do you have a minute?”  And I answer, “Yes, of course.”  I answer this way because mathematically, in an eight-hour day one-minute (which is actually 5-10 minutes each) times 55 teachers plus another 20 support staff plus various parents, OTES observations, IEP meetings, emails, lunch duties, etc. all equals more than the 480 minutes that a regular work day can hold…  “Of course I have time for you!”  

I quickly stifle those thoughts and be in the moment for whomever is at my desk.  This is because they need me and that is the WHY behind my reason for doing what I do. Which reminds me of the real JOY in my work…

His name was Jordan and his little five-year old body was so full of energy that he couldn’t help but bounce down the hallway even when he was instructed to walk 100 times.  His tiny hands would graze the rough block walls seeking that sensory stimulation any way he could get it.  During his first year in kindergarten, little Jordan spent more time in my office trying to calm down than he did in his classroom learning his ABC’s.

One day must’ve been especially rough for Jordan.  I was walking down the hall and he came running up to me.  “Ms. Kenney” he said, his little voice loud yet quivering at the same time.  I kneeled down on one knee to better comfort him.  He put his dirty little kindergarten hands on either side of my face and said, “Ms. Kenney, I need you!” 

Friends, that is my joy!  When that little boy walked across the kindergarten graduation stage we hugged and had our celebration picture taken.  And five years later when he successfully completed fifth grade, I was there to applaud his personal victory again.  His picture still hangs in my office today because he is a shining example of WHY I do what I do and how I manage to get up day after day–  even when it’s hard–  even when I don’t want to–  even in the mud of May, as I like to call it.

That is my suggestion to each of you and to all educators out there.  Find your joy.  Hold it safe.  Don’t lose your joy.  In the end, it is our joy that will keep us going.  Our joy will be the fuel for our fire.  And that fire will sustain us for the long haul ahead.

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Then Sings My Soul…

Just a few weeks after turning seven years old, my son said the most profound thing to me he has ever said. It was so profound, that it brought tears to my eyes. He said, “Mommy, my soul was created to be born to you.”

How could he know that? He was a gift given to me by God. A gift born out of many tears, prayers, and an unexpected miracle. To hear him say those words to me was like I was being reminded of just that fact by God himself.

As a mom I believe it is my job to look out for my son, to pray for him, and to raise him up to be a child of God. I need to make sure he knows Jesus and follows in his path. If I can lead him to Jesus and help him get to heaven then I will be deserving of this gift.

When my son smiles, it is like a sunbeam straight from heaven. He helps me remember all the good in my life and the reasons to be happy. Thank you, God for blessing me.

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Say Please

“Saying please is a dying art form.” I heard this from my coffee barista today as I went through the drive-thru to get a much needed afternoon pick-me-up. It really struck a chord with me because I was surprised by this sentiment. Saying please has traditionally been one of the first things we teach our children to say when they want something. Has the world tilted so far that saying the word “please” has now become an anomaly?

I pondered this for quite some time while I sipped my fufu cup of joe with whipped topping added for seasonal effect. It struck me as an especially meaningful comment to make in this season of caring for others, wearing our masks for protection, and thinking of holiday cheer. If we don’t say please now, of all times, when do we ever say it? Do people also not say “thank you?” Why wouldn’t we say it? It’s so easy!

In James 2:1-3, the Bible tells us “My brethren, show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ…” For if a rich man and a poor man both come into your assembly…and you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while you say to the poor man, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves…? To me, this is clear direction that we treat people–all people– with respect and the way we would want to be treated.

I just feel like it’s worth thinking about. As a society, as a people, we need to do the little things to make us all better. A word of thanks, a comment of please, a small smile to the passerby, they all will add up to make it more comfortable here. Nothing is owed to us, even if we’re paying for it. Treat each other better, it is worth it. Life can be hard, say please!

Bara

Hello again friends. It seems like it’s been quite a while since I posted. I apologize for the gap; I feel like I have been in the midst of bara. Bara is the hebrew word for becoming, or being created. The last few months I have felt myself being created. Perhaps re-created, or created again as I try to move forward and become more of the person that God has in mind for me.

“This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God” (Gen 5:1). God is all things good and wonderful and loving. That is what I am striving to become. So many times I find myself trying to control my life, or speed things along, or influence the way events unfold. In those times I feel the most angst and unrest. But when I allow myself to settle, calm, and pray to understand that I need patience for God’s plan to unfold it is then that I am able to BARA.

I recently changed jobs, sold my house, and moved to another city. Even in the midst of what could be seen as upheaval, I have felt extremely at peace. I have been able to rest in God’s embrace and wait for things to unfold. It is in these times that I feel like the path that I am on is the right path. Even though not everything is laid out in a clear format and I am not moved into my new house (or even closed on it yet) I feel okay. I feel like I am becoming more in the image of what God wants me to be. Trust is an action word in my life right now.

I have heard the saying that “God works all things to the good.” I find myself trusting in this saying more and more and even using it to remind myself as certain stressors pop up in my life. For example, I am very worried about the health of my mom. She just recently came out of kidney cancer surgery and is going back to the hospital this week to see if the cancer is in her pancreas. To say that I am nervous and worried is really an understatement.

I have to remind myself that our whole lives are comprised of moments where we can BARA. To become. Our earthly lives are created to learn how to love one another. I absolutely and truly believe this. When God allows struggles and worries like the health of a loved one, I have to believe that HE is in charge and my only job is to bara. Become more trusting, become more believing, become more calm, become more loving and focused on his will.

Dear God, please permit me bara in my life. Allow me to become the daughter that you have in mind for me to be. I trust in your plan and pray for this grace.

No Waste of Time

Today I rode the waves. Big rolling waves, smaller, listing waves broke over me and formed bubbles around my floating body. I was in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean and enjoying being “one” with the surf. I was at peace with myself and the salty water around me.

“Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I could fly away and rest!” (Psalm 55:6). For me, my peaceful place, my happy and serene state can be found in the ocean, by the ocean, above the ocean, or simply when I am able to hear the ocean. It’s very much, to me, like being a bird in the sky and soaring to new heights while enjoying the views all around me.

Is it ok for me to take this rest? Are there other, more important things I should be or could be doing? Maybe, yes. But I think allowing myself to absorb the peace of the ocean and re-centering myself in nature also is an important thing for me to do in my life. I think we all should allow ourselves some peace to float through time and accept how events roll over and around us–like the ocean waves when I am in my happy place.

Riptide

Currently I am blessed to be sitting atop an amazing resort building in the penthouse suite, on the 16th floor, overlooking the amazing and brilliant, turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. We got such a deal on this vacation rental and I am so happy to be in my element– the salty air is calming my soul. The breeze is blowing, the sun is shining, and life feels great!

Down at the beach there are red and purple flags bustling in the wind atop silver painted flagpoles. These portend the dangers that are nearby in the ocean: extreme current concerns, namely the riptide. A riptide is defined as “a strong current caused by tidal flow in confined areas such as inlets and presenting a hazard to swimmers and boaters” (as defined by Siri, my Apple iPhone assistant).

As I am sitting writing this, several friends have texted concerns about family members or friends that are ill with cancer and facing an unknown and stressful future. My own mother just learned last week that her kidney cancer is back and she will likely lose the entire kidney this time. So many times in life we are faced with this dangerous riptide of life events. More concerning than the ocean current that can knock you down and turn you over and over are these life events that cause a riptide of current in our hearts.

How do we conquer this fear and tumultuous undertow? It occurs to me that both in life and in the water, we must learn to swim with the current and not fight against it in order to be successful with living. We learn in Zechariah 10:11-12, “And they will pass through the sea of distress and He will strike the waves in the sea, so that all the depths of the Nile will dry up…And I will strengthen them in the LORD, and they shall walk up and down in His name, says the Lord.”

For our honeymoon in 2005, we went on a cruise. One of the ports we stopped in was Cancun, Mexico. It just so happened that my brother’s family and my parents were vacationing there at the same time so we met them at the beach that day. Two things happened that day that I will never forget.

After about an hour on the beach, my new husband approached me dripping wet with ocean water. He held up his left hand, where his brand new wedding ring was supposed to be. He told me his ring fell off in the water and he grabbed it with his toes, but then got pushed around by a huge wave and lost it. Calmly, I rolled with that punch and said, ok, we can replace it.” Not a huge deal, I guess. A ring is worth way less than a life, right?

Not 30 minutes later, I hear a loud commotion and stand up from my beach lounger to see my 6’8′ brother heaving and throwing my husband towards the shore. Right away, my husband’s head goes back under the water and disappears. My brother grabs him again and hoists him towards land. The closer they got it seemed the riptide was pulling him out even faster. At the same time, I look to my left and see two Mexican lifeguards running in their direction, carrying red life boards and blowing their emergency whistles as they race to the scene of my drowning husband.

My own heart was caught in my throat and I felt paralyzed to move. Real fear was keeping me rooted in my spot in the sand. What could I do to help? I realized in that moment I was completely useless. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding,” (Proverbs 3:5). It was the only thing I could do, so I started praying on the spot.

The two life guards “book-ended” my husband, propped him up with their red floats and pulled him back to shore. Their advice upon rescuing my husband, if we were ever caught in the riptide again, was to keep our eyes on the shore, but swim with the current even though it won’t be a straight line into shore.

Sometimes life is that way. We think we need to go straight on to tackle an obstacle, but really what we should do is look for angles and waves to ride upon. Keep the faith that the shoreline is in sight, but ride the tide until we get where God needs us to be. So many times I am reminded that I must decrease so God can increase in my life. Perhaps if we find ourselves stuck in the riptide of life, we need to remember that God will cast his net upon us.

“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will send many people to catch you in my net and haul you out of the water” Ezekiel 32:3.

The Great Equalizer

Dang it! Another red light. Didn’t I already pass that Cadillac from Texas? Yet, here it is again right up along the passenger side of my car in this two-lane highway! What good is it for me to hurry along and try to get somewhere quickly, when this road is full of traffic lights and those annoying drivers keep catching up with me? It seems to me that traffic lights are the great equalizer.

It strikes me funny how many times I have thought these same thoughts as I travel up and down many of Ohio’s highways. Sometimes, the more I try to outpace the car beside me, the less progress I seem to make. It occurs to me today that this same concept is true in regular life. Only it’s not a traffic light that is the equalizer, it’s God.

God loves each and every one of us. He gives us exactly what we each need at the precise moment that we need it. We may have different thoughts about how fast we need to get somewhere, perhaps in our career, our home lives, our love lives. But God has this uncanny ability to make us slow down at that “red light” and give us pause. This pause whether desired or not, serves a greater purpose in his almighty plan.

“He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully” says Luke 4:10. As Americans, I think we try to rush, rush, rush. Constantly trying to get to the next bigger, better accolade in life. In the Bible, however, the word STOP is mentioned 307 times in 13 translations.

The Lord tells Abram to STOP being afraid in Genesis 11:8. In Exodus he tells us, ” Six days you will do your work, but on the seventh day you will STOP…” Deuteronomy 10:16 explains that we need to circumcise our hearts and STOP being stubborn. In Ruth 1:16, “STOP urging me to abandon you and turn back from following you. Because wherever you go, I’ll go.”

The STOP serves a purpose in our lives. Halting, breaking, pausing are all for the good. We just have to give ourselves permission to accept that and try to see what the reason could be. God wants us to STOP and know his good works (Job 37:7). If you’re like me, you need more of this and less hustle and bustle. Just give yourself a break once in a while, appreciate the surroundings maybe, or pause to listen to some sound in the world, slow your thoughts and be in the moment.

“Listen to this, Job. STOP and consider God’s wonders.” (Job 37:14).

I’m ok. You’re ok!

It’s hotter than a firecracker out here, I think as I sit down to write outdoors for the first time this Spring. My regular t-shirt and cotton capri’s just aren’t cutting it today. Of course, then I realize it’s not really my clothes’ fault that I’m hot. Immediately the thought of my current weight situation makes me feel extra aggravated in this early hot spell. I’m hot because I’m too heavy.

Of course, my doctor says that I’m actually four pounds lighter than I was at this time last year. I guess that’s good. Except that it’s not because in August I was about 30 pounds lighter. How did that happen? My mind wanders away to thoughts of a rapid fix: could I get some cocaine? No… not into the illegal stuff. Could I get some diet meds? No… I’m too scared that it’ll hurt my head or heart… Should I like, not eat? Starvation method is sure to work and I won’t be risking jail.

Then I think, maybe God wants me to be fat. I keep fluctuating in my weight: Up, down, up, down…continuously it seems for my entire adult life. I am happy when I’m thinner, then I eat and celebrate with margaritas because of my happiness. I am depressed when I’m bigger, then I eat to console myself and attempt to make myself feel better. Neither seems to work. What gives?

I turn to the Lord for help today. It’s so beautiful outside and I know he has a plan for me– thick or thin, literally. Today’s gospel reading is from John 17:11-19. “But now I am coming to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”

That’s it isn’t it? The answer in which I seek the truth. I need to be happy with myself. God loves me, my family loves me, and my friends love me. I have the support, I just need to dig down, as deep as I need to and find my inner happiness. I love the Lord, my family, and my friends so now I need to work on loving me. I found a quote online that is attributed to no one, but it still is meaningful. “You are beautiful I know because I made you.”–God.

That has to be a true statement. I know God loves me and he doesn’t make mistakes. I’m always telling others to give each other a little Grace. I need to follow my own advice, maybe you need this advice too, dear reader. I am ok. You are ok. I know it deep down, I need to believe it regularly and I have faith that the rest will follow.

Psalm 139:14 tells me, “I give thanks to you because I have been amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this.”

Albert Einstein Said What?

Albert Einstein Said What?

It seems to me that Albert Einstein gets a lot of credit for a lot of good things he did in the world.  Especially the science world.  But I have believed for a long time that the world of science and religion should really go hand in hand.  And why not?  So much of the beauty in the world can be explained through science.  It just makes sense.  Albert Einstein also said something quite ingenious about miracles too.

“There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  Einstein said this, although it is attributed to him with no source, it goes without needing documentation if you think about it.  When you look at a wonderful rainbow in the sky, do you need the scientific data that explains the way the colors are produced by light being bent through a water droplet and reflected upon its exit?  Or is it enough to look upon the varied and blurred lines of color and be mystified at its existence?

I don’t believe in coincidences anymore.  I used to be able to explain happenings away by thinking it was just a random occurrence.  But too many events have lined up in my life for me not to believe that there is a specific order and meaning behind what has happened for me to not believe in the miraculous touch of God at work.  In the Bible we are told, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are numbered.  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows”  Matthew 10:29-31.  If even the hairs on my head are numbered, then surely so many other things are accounted for by my Father’s intentions for me.

Albert Einstein was a genius, by all definitions of the word and the world.  He spent his life researching theories of light, investigating space, time, matter, and energy.  If he was smart enough to understand protons, atoms, and how light, space and time move together to affect relativity, I’m gonna hang my hat on the idea that he was smart enough to think miracles happened too.

Get in the Game!

I remember sitting on the sidelines during a junior high basketball game thinking if only I could “get in the game.” I would be able to show my coach how much I’d improved and how ready I was to take on the challenge. My day finally came at the end of the year with the tournament game on the line and me standing at the foul line. With all eyes from the crowd and both teams watching me, I bounced the ball three times and placed my finger on the “L” in Wilson, like I’d practiced so many times before. It was a one-and-one shot and I needed to make the first basket to get another shot. One point would tie the game and a second point would win it for us…

How many times in our lives do we ask God to allow us to “get in the game?” Are we fully committed to allowing God to work in our lives? Or are we too afraid to get in the game because of what he might expect of us? If we do get in the game, we know we’ll have to be active, committed, devout Christians, right? It’ll be a lot of pressure for us to be able to stand up for our faith. We might have to go to church every week, or at least regularly. We’ll have to be good examples for our children in many ways. Can we live up to and meet these demands?

Being a good follower of Jesus Christ doesn’t mean we have to be perfect in order to get in the game. Being a good follower means we have to be willing to try; to be willing to give it our best effort. Pay attention to signs around you that may be asking you to get in the game.

There are opportunities everywhere for us to get more fully in the game. Have you ever been in church and listened to other people singing around you but not joining in? Sometimes I listen to the rosary on the radio but I only listen. I’m not as “in the game” as I could be because I don’t say my words out loud. Why don’t I do these easy things? I know there are so many different ways that I could easily get more fully in the game every day.

Perhaps there is a virtual conference you’ve thought about attending. Maybe there’s a friend you know that you’ve been thinking of asking to prayer group with you. Maybe there was a morning you woke up five minutes early and you could read your Bible. Whatever thoughts may have crossed your mind, there’s a good chance that it is our Almighty Coach telling us it is time to get in the game. Just give it a shot! It may be easier than you think.