Saturday, April 6, 2019

"I'll Go Be Her Crutch" {On Lifting Each Other Up}

“Lord, I pray the week goes fast because I can’t wait to play in my tournament next weekend.”

That was my thirteen-year-old’s entire prayer 5 days before we were to leave.

Wishing days away to take the court with her Kairos team.

Grace loves volleyball maybe more than I’ve ever loved anything in my whole life. She practices before school and after school and uses a glow-in-the-dark ball when she should be getting ready for bed. When the actual SoDak temperature is negative eight, she is outside serving and hitting off the roof for speedy defensive play. I want to put a sign in our yard that says, “Her idea not ours. We’re inside drinking hot chocolate like sane human beings.”

She loves the game.

And not only is she a student of its mechanics, but she actively scouts tournament opponents and researches host sites. She looks up opposing club information, how they’ve performed so far this year, and, occasionally, can tell you how much the facility they are playing in costs. Her goal is to enter each tournament prepared and leave having done her best.

Needless to say, when the tournament finally arrived and her team advanced to the gold bracket, she was thrilled.

Except minutes into day two, she dove – rolling her ankle – and came up unable to bear weight. I watched as the athlete in her tried to will away the pain, pressing her foot down and losing her balance forward. She hopped off to the bench with tears streaming down her face, unleashing my own.

I could handle an injury. Watching her be sidelined in a game I knew she so desperately wanted to be part of? Not so much.

“What’s the word on Grace?,” her teammate Carlie asked.

“She’s done for the day. We don’t know what her injury is so Coach (rightly) feels it’s the only safe choice.”

“I’ll go be her crutch,” her friend replied, without missing a beat.

And I had to brush silent tears away from my cheeks once more, as I saw the game become beautiful. Her coach had one arm and Carlie took the other around her shoulder and together they supported her to the next location their team needed to be. Grace cheered on her people and during timeouts Coach pulled the team in tight near Grace so that she could be part of the plan and hold her hand in the huddle.

“TEAM!”

Team.

There are many injured people around us. And, most of the time they won’t present obviously unable to walk, though it may be physical. But, often it takes a little more to see. The social struggle to fit in. The emotional pain of not being seen. Feeling like not enough. The heartache of a diagnosis. The unpredictability of shifting circumstances. Diminished hope. Living a life different than one imagined.

But if we took a moment to say, “I’ll be your crutch,” how different might the world look?

And, when we’re the one hurt, how might we better heal if we allow others to huddle in close and say, “Team.”

We were created in community – a gift so that when the weight of the world is too much for any person to bear we’re reminded that we don’t go it alone.

Thank you, Carlie.
Thank you, Coach.  

Today I’m living with eyes open, and I encourage you to do the same. May we never to be too resolute to give or accept love. The world is better when we’re in it together.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

"I Am Worthy" Pumpkin Prayer {Free Printable}


Fall is here and that has everyone thinking pumpkins! 

Because it was a long weekend in our school district, our church offered a Cross+Gen activity crafting pumpkins to remind people who they are in the sight of our Lord. 

You can find many pumpkin prayers online pointing to who God is, but I did not find anything regarding who God says we are. And, since our church is in the midst of a "Worthy" preaching series, I decided to take it upon myself to create a Scripturally motivated discussion-based activity that would allow families and friends opportunity to have fun painting pumpkins while gaining a deeper sense of self.

 If you'd like to give pumpkin painting purpose in your home or church, I've made it a printable for you. The sheet will walk you through every step! We painted with q-tips to reduce mess & quicken clean up.

It was a huge success at Our Savior's, bringing in people of all generations to create a beautiful busy with conversations to live beyond the moment. 

ENJOY!
xx Melissa

Friday, May 18, 2018

What are "Thoughts and Prayers" In the Midst of Violence?

Here we are, again, giving “thoughts and prayers” in the face of another school shooting.

It is guaranteed that there will be argument over blame. Someone should have known. Concerns went unnoticed. This is a mental health issue, some will say. Others will speak of access to weapons. What is a legal and what is not. This is a rifle accessibility issue. Yet others will make this about respect for all life. If we really care about protecting life we ought to do more about  protecting heartbeat in the womb.

Adults will raise their political defenses, taking a dig at party divides. Some will even go so far as to criticize the children who share their experience, saying they are “too young” to understand.

Meanwhile, children & school workers who heard gun shots are still shaking. Parents who were planning for graduation attire are deciding what to bury their child in. A school and community are in mourning. Real people are grieving.

In my life, “thoughts and prayers” have always been important. I believe in a God who sees and must be weeping in the face of this senseless tragedy. I believe in a Lord who collects our tears (Psalm 56:8) and promises to help us through that which threatens to seize us (Isaiah 43:2). I am understood and strengthened through prayer, and I will always be grateful for family, friends, and the faith community for loving me through tough times with words uttered beyond ourselves to my bigger God.

But, if “thoughts and prayers” becomes nice lingo for doing nothing we’ve not loved those who need us well or honored our God  who wouldn’t want us to fake connection + gives us the power to help make a difference.

I’m not going to pretend like I have the answers here. Nor am I interested in political stance. Because I think we can care about mental health, and home stability, and safe gun laws, the born and unborn, and more. All of it. One doesn’t mutually exclude the other. And, with life as messy as it is, I suspect we need to care about the mix of it.

My prayer today is simply that we focus on faces before debate. That we quietly lean into the story and show compassion. That we give space for the grieving in Santa Fe to feel supported and do something that translates in our circles: Tell the people in our lives that we love them more often. Be intentional to thank our children’s teachers and school staff for all they do to help keep them safe. That we would genuinely care about the hearts of those who endured this kind of loss and use that awareness to explore how to enhance safety in facilities we use & vote in ways that make individual sense in the spirit of love rather than criticism. That relationship with others through Christ would be meaningful in somehow making this world better.

I’d just finished volunteering in my daughter’s classroom, where I was over the moon excited about a little boy’s progress with 10 frames, when I came home to this news. *tears* Yesterday I watched teachers at my daughter’s middle school play in a staff versus student volleyball game. Oh, how I long for the day when school is only a place of growth and celebration.

Praying with purpose, leading with love, and processing along with you,
Melissa


Thank you, teachers & school staff, for meeting our students where they are at in interest and learning day in and day out. Your profession requires so much more in this changing world & it doesn’t go unnoticed.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Parenting in the Wake of the Larry Nassar Scandal

Larry Nassar has been sentenced to a lifetime in jail.

And, this week, the first male came forward, saying that he too was abused by the hands of this man.

When the Nassar trial aired. I turned in expecting story of the gymnastics world rocked to its core.

What I found was something much different.

The sister survivors came forward one at a time sharing memories difficult to hear, courageously addressing a man who tried to steal their voice only to find out they would use it for themselves and for us.

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina transformed the courtroom from a place of intimidation into a sanctuary. Extending invitation for all to speak with underlying awareness that they were believed seemed to give survivors bravery to vent anything they needed. And, then, Judge Aquilina gifted each individual with words of encouragement to reinforce their unique significance. Affirming value of all people, speaking life into painful places every opportunity we get, and encouraging what can be redeemed while ending what can’t are take aways that will forever stay with me.

But, what rattled me most was the systemic failure that allowed this ongoing abuse to inflict over 200 multisport athletes for decades. This was not a story of gymnastics, but one of athletics and twisted medical “treatment.” Nassar and any professionals who knew in secret used their position of power in way that left the medically na├»ve vulnerable, rendered those with dreams silent, and parents unaware.

It adds a whole new layer to conversations around abuse.

Sappho once said, “What cannot be said will be wept.”

This is most certainly true now.

If we are to honor the hundreds of women and young man who came forward to put into air what tormented their soul we, as parents, need to continue the discussions in our homes. The hearts of these young people indicate that they want more than a day of reckoning with Nassar and the institutions that failed them. They want to prevent history from repeating itself.

This is room for prevention. To be a safe space for our children in body awareness discussions so they know they can always come to us and to reinforce boundaries. It is our opportunity to build on the #MeToo movement momentum, yielding confidence and turning tables on the placement of shame dare someone ever cross the line.

How this looks will vary depending on our boys and girls ages. Our twelve-year-old daughter is a stud on the volleyball court. I sat down with her and told her exactly how this abuse happened and why the girls confused it as medical care. I also gave her “Breaking Their Silence” advise that should she go down during a match to request a parent/trusted adult with her in the room she is taken to and always ask the physician/trainer what they will be doing before any treatment begins, in addition to reviewing basic boundaries we’ve always taught.  With our younger girls it’s simple reminder that nobody touches their body without them saying it’s okay at the simple mention of something like a peer grabbing their hand to create early understanding of consent we can expand upon as they age.

These conversations are not fun. They don’t guarantee that abuse won’t occur. And, it might feel awkward to broach. But, abuse – twisted medically or not- in interpersonal relationships and within systems (need I remind you of Jerry Sandusky, US swimming and the list goes on) isn’t going away. Now, with this opened door, is the time to swoop in and give our young people every tool in our tool box to better set them up for future success and give them comfort in you being “their person.”

Rachel Denhollander, the final sister survivor to speak, asked,“How much is a little girl worth?” I’ve got three in my house and they are priceless. I know you feel the same about your children. Fight for their safety. Take hold of the bigger good that can come from this story. Have the discussions.

Trying my best along with you,
Melissa
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