Soccer, Shoes, and Faith: Growing Room

Growing room

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I never had shoes that fit.  Mama would stuff the toes of our shoes with tissue paper. “Growing room” mama called it. As a child, I had two pair of dress shoes; black patent worn after Labor Day and white patent worn after Easter.  My sister and I wiggled our toes, and tried to make the awkward feeling of the crumbled tissue paper more comfortable. Peering across the pews at church, I wondered if the girls with fancy hair bows had growing room in their shoes too.

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Image Courtesy of Pixabay

These memories from over thirty-five years ago flood my mind as I pull Andrew’s much-to-big JV soccer uniform from the dryer.  His uniform swallows him and his socks are enormous. Growing room, I chuckle to myself. Our son plays on the middle school soccer team; however, the JV coach invited to Andrew “play up” on five JV soccer games this season.   We agreed understanding the benefits and challenges of playing against more experienced athletes.   

I watch Andrew proudly walk on the JV field, he looks like David surrounded by a team of Goliath’s. The night before, he tried on his uniform. Aggravated by the much-too-big-size, I whispered, “Don’t worry, you’ll grow into it. You’ve got growing room.”

Days later, the phrase growing room resurfaces. While shoe shopping with Rachel she said, “Mom, I think I’ll choose a half size bigger, ya know for growing room.” I retold the story of mama stuffing tissue paper in the toes of our shoes. Seated on the bench she removed her shoes and asked, “Was it uncomfortable to walk in those shoes stuffed with tissue paper?” Scanning the shelves for her size I reply, “Very uncomfortable at first, but you get used to it.” Handing her a pair of boots off the clearance rack, I said, “Rachel, sometimes God hands us situations bigger than we can handle. Just like the shoes with growing room, our faith requires growing room too.”

Like oversized shoes, our faith requires growing room too. Click To Tweet

God often gives His children situations too big to handle. Recently, I wrote about Moses and his motley crew of Israelites stuck between the enemy and a sea too big to cross. I titled this article, Why Would God Induce an Attack on His Children.  The abbreviated answer from last week is for God to get the glory and for His name prove that I AM LORD. (Exodus 14:4)

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Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Another reason God places His children in situations too big to handle is for our faith to grow. Just as I had to grow into my shoes and Andrew needs to grow into his uniform, challenging circumstances allows our tears to water the small mustard seed of faith. God’s word tells us “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).

Do you feel overwhelmed by your current circumstance? Are you facing a situation too big for you? Remember God places His children in situations too big to handle for our faith to grow. Your faith has growing room.

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway. 

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

I Will Protect You: Lesson Learned on the Ball Field

Written by April Dawn White

softball pixabayCheers and chatter erupts from the dugout as a passel of ten and eleven-year-old-girls chant, “If I were you and you were me, I’d scoot your bootie back. I’d scoot your bootie back.”

Over the chatter of the opposing team, my daughter overhears the coach call her name. Rachel jogs from left field to receive instruction. Although, I cannot hear the conversation, I can see his action. The coach has called Rachel in as the relief pitcher.

Rachel approaches the mound and throws a few warm up pitches. Andrew, her brother, runs to the mound to deliver her face mask (a required piece of equipment). Rachel shakes her head from side to side, refusing to wear it for the warm up.

Pacing behind the bleachers, I holler, “Wear the mask! I made that face and I will protect that face!” The other parents and the umpire turn to me and we all laugh.

The umpire turns back to Rachel and says, “Pitcher, bases are loaded and you have zero outs.” My pacing continues as I sarcastically murmur under my breath, “Great, just great.”

As the game continues, the words I yelled across the ball field echo in my mind. “I made that face. I will protect that face.” God reminds me of a similar statement found in the Old Testament:

“I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4)

On the ball field today, God spoke to my heart. He reminded me:

  • When a health crisis comes out of left field or when life throws you a curve ball, remember that the same God who made you will protect you.softball-pixabay

  • Be ready, watch, and listen for the coach’s voice. We never know when God will call our name for our next assignment, but we need to be listening intently to His voice over the chatter of this world.

Even though a neuromuscular disease struck me out of left field, today God reminded me that the same God who made me will protect me. I am listening to His voice and “It is well with my soul.”

There’s No Crying in Softball

Me and Rachel softball 2016 CROPPED“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:19, NIV)

I pull on my favorite JMU sweatshirt, elbowing the tiny faucets at the corners of my eyes. Tears trickle down my face.  Eager to pitch, Rachel pounds her fist in her mitt.  Wearing a determined game face, she appears older than ten and a half.

Rachel tosses a glove in my direction. This is my glove, the one I’ve owned since I was a teen. I stare at soft leather glove as if it is a foreign object.  Slipping it onto my left hand I examine the look. Rachel counts out thirty paces and asks, “Are you sure you can do this Mom?”

“Let’s give it a try.” I respond.

I stand amazed at what is about to take place. I lift my eyes to the sky and say a prayer of thanks. I’m about to play catch with my daughter, a feat I’ve lacked strength for over four months.  The faucets creek more and I turn so she doesn’t see the tears.

Every pitcher needs a catcher so I squat down, just a little. Rachel winds up and releases the ball.

“Steeeriiiike!” I yell out.home plate CROPPED

A slow grin spreads across her face and mine too.  She throws a few more over our chalk drawn plate. The faucets are creek more and I am weeping in my middle of our street. I weep for lost moments with my children. I weep because I didn’t think I’d be able to do this again.

I weep because this feels like an old self activity and I thought that old self had vanished.

Rachel understands my concern. “Mom, are you okay?”

I nod, “I’m fine, I’m fine” running the arm of my sweatshirt across my face.

20150520_175828-1In her best Tom Hanks impression from the movie “A League of Their Own” Rachel playfully jabs, “There’s no crying in softball!”

I release a full body belly laugh. This too feels like an old self activity.

Rachel continues to throw strikes and balls across our imaginary plate. With the strength given by God and new medication, I am able to pick the ball up and throw it back.

Even in these times of uncertainty. I take joy in finding God’s goodness in the land of the living. I will soak up every good day I have because “It is well with my soul.”

~April Dawn White

Photos courtesy of Author

Split Second Decisions

Glimpses of our true character are seen in the split second decisions we make.   
I witnessed a spectacular move during the RVCS vs Stuart Hall Middle School soccer game.  RVCS was ahead by a few goals when two opposing players crashed into each other, knocking the Stuart Hall player to the ground. The referee never blew the whistle, leaving the ball in play. The RVCS number one jersey turned and looked toward the goal, an easy shot. There was no one immediately on him. Instead of taking the shot, the number one jersey glanced down at the fallen player. Number one, extended a hand to the Stuart Hall player still on the ground.
J.O.Y. is spoken in our home. J-Jesus first, O-others second, Y-yourself last. It was a joy to witness a selfless act during a competitive sport. This player chose to lend a hand rather than scoring another goal.
 
“If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls as has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:10, NIV)
I believe glimpses of our true character are seen in the split second decisions we choose to make. As a parent, we question if we are doing getting it right. Last night, I sat bewildered and proud as I watched these events unfold. Number one instinctively responded in a manner in which he was trained: put others first.
Last night the true character of the RVCS number one jersey shined through. I am proud to say, “That’s my boy!”
~Tearful and slightly obnoxious soccer mom,
 April White
 

 

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Email redchairmoments@gmail.com

Pop Fly Rachel

Shoulders slumped, my ten-year-old daughter moped to her place in right fields. Rachel prefers first base, but instead the coach placed her as an outfielder.
 “Hey batter, batter, SWING, batter, batter!”
Crack! The beautiful sound of a bat connecting with the ball echoed against the metal bleachers. Up, up, up, the ball sailed over the first base player directly towards Rachel. My hands flew to over my mouth and I gasped. With a resounding “thud” the ball landed squarely in Rachel’s mitt.
“OUT!” yelled the umpire.
A slow smile spread across Rachel’s face. She did it! Her teammates began to chant, “Pop Fly Rachel, Pop Fly Rachel!”
After the game the coach said, “This is why I have Rachel in the outfield. She has a strong arm and this is where she is best used for the team.” “This is where she is best used for the team.” The spiritual significance is not lost on me.  I know what it feels like to be given an undesirable assignment and want to change positions.
The coach knew my daughter’s strengths and skills and positioned her accordingly. God knows what the future holds and He places His children in strategic positions knowing that is the where we are best suited for His team.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord, rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23-24, HCSB)
~April
Connect with me email redchairmoments@gmail.com

Operation: War on Worry

Image courtesy of Gerd Altmann Pixabay.com

I will trust and NOT be afraid.
(Isaiah 12:2, NIV)
Mutiny! We are staging war against worry. Worry is trying to creep in our home.  As we prepare to return to work and school tomorrow, worry and fear are trying to creep into Andrew’s heart.
Andrew, my first born, is a worrier. He is worried something will happen to daddy, worried about getting hurt on the soccer field, he is worried about things his tender age of twelve should not be worried about. 
Tonight, I told Andrew we are going to stage a war against worry. I told Andrew, for the next twenty-four hours he is only allowed to pray his verse for 2015, “I will trust and NOT be afraid” (Isaiah 12:2, NIV).
Immediately, my perfectionist first born began asking questions. “Can I pray for protection? Can I pray for you and daddy?” My response might surprise you. “Not for the next twenty four hours. Andrew, I want you to only pray Isaiah 12:2.”
I explained to the kids that God knows our heart. He knows our thoughts before we even think them. God knows our fears and worries. Prayer is powerful. The Bible tells us to “cast our cares on Him” (Psalm 55:22 and 1 Peter 5:7). So many times we cast our cares to God and then turn around and go fishing for them. That is not trust. Fully trusting without fear, like Isaiah teaches, means we need to cast off and walk away, trusting that God can handle the situation.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
(Romans 8:26-27, NIV)
Tonight, during our family devotions I talked about the difference between interceding and intercepting. Speaking in a language the kids would understand, I used a soccer analogy. Imagine our prayers are like a soccer ball. The object of praying is to get our prayers (ball) to the throne of God (goal). Our goal is to get our prayers to God. God has sent someone to help us achieve that goal. After Jesus rose from the grave, He sent the Holy Spirit as our Comforter and Helper. The Holy Spirit is on our team. The Holy Spirit intercedes our prayers and rushes them forward to the goal, which is the throne of God.
Image courtesy Michael Krause Pixabay.com

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
(John 14:26, ESV)
This soccer season, Andrew has played the position of mid-fielder. The goal of this position is to pass the ball up the field to his teammates in the forward position. In this analogy, we are the mid-fielders, and the Holy Spirit is the forward. The Holy Spirit can rush our prayers forward to the goal. Romans 8:26 reminds us that even when we don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf. The Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf to the throne of God.
From the backseat of the car, I hear: “But mom, what happens when the opposing team intercepts the ball?” Sometimes it can feel as the ball, life and our prayers are being intercepted by the opposing team (the Enemy). But with the Holy Spirit on our team the Holy Spirit can turn the game around and rush our prayers forward to God.
For the next twenty four hours we are implementing Operation WOW: Operation War on Worry. For the next twenty four hours Andrew will only pray these words from Isaiah 12:2 “I will trust and not be afraid.”
My hope is that Andrew learns that God knows his heart and his prayers don’t have to be perfect to be understood. With the Holy Spirit interceding all of Andrew’s unspoken prayers, my prayer for Andrew is that he learns to rest in God.
Andrew: “Mom, it is hard to rest it with God.”
Me:  “I know son, but that’s why we need to ‘trust and not be afraid.”
Andrew: “Mom, will God be mad at me for not praying my normal prayers?”
Me: “No. God loves it when His children come up with big, crazy ideas like this. He wants to prove Himself strong in your life.”
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Andrew: “Mom, I feel a lot better already.”

Me: “Score!”
The throne of God is in sight. Andrew passes his prayers forward to the Holy Spirit. He shoots! He scores!

~April Dawn White

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