Guest Post – Available

Welcome Mary McCauley for our guest post today. Mary is first and foremost a child of the Almighty God. She seeks to honor Him with the life HE has given her.  She is a wife, mother, grandmother, neighbor and friend. She served as a licensed lay-pastor for 10 years before retiring to enjoy life with her husband on the road in the semi he drives.  She is a writer, having written countless sermons and Bible studies as well as writing in the form of personal journaling. With this guest post, she takes her first dive into blog writing. Mary is currently working on “thoughts from the road,” and we look forward to reading those in the future.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Availability can be a challenge, right?

Challenge 1: Location, Location, Location

Our brick and mortar home is near the Wisconsin River in Southwest Wisconsin.

My daughter and grandchildren live about 3 hours away in Southeast Wisconsin.

Geographical location often makes me unavailable to attend their ball games, band concerts or other events.

Challenge 2: Lifestyle Change

After serving as a licensed lay pastor for 10 years, I resigned to move on to another phase of life.

Since January 2012, I have been sharing a semi with my husband (he drives; I ride) transporting products like cereal, or the grain to make it, appliances and furniture.  Often, I am not even in the same state as our family and friends. This makes availability an even greater difficulty.

As I ride along the highways one word appears again and again.  “AVAILABLE!”

I see “AVAILABLE” printed on billboards large and small, as well as on banners topping empty warehouses, businesses and homes.

That one word continually reminds me I am not always physically available to family and friends. That sometimes makes me sad.

It makes me ask, “How can I be available from such a distance?”

I am grateful for the wonders of technology.  Cell phones, internet, and video recordings keep me up to speed on their busy lives while allowing me to live out a dream.

Through technology, we can share joys, concerns, fears and doubts, and words of encouragement.

I rejoice in God’s constant availability. I pray with and for my family to the ONE who is always available.

Love binds us together across the miles, and we are all surrounded by God’s great love.

Thankfully, wherever home is at any given moment in time, God is always the same. He is always AVAILABLE.

God is on duty 24/7!

The Apostle Paul tells us that nothing will ever separate us from God’s love and care. Jesus said, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Father, Son, and Holy Spirit keep their PROMISES!

Availability is one of the challenges I wrestle with in my struggle to adapt to the challenging but dream-fulfilling lifestyle of constant travel in the semi and lack of physical availability to family and friends.

I find it works best to be available to God by spending time with Him each day. Then the rest seems to fall into place. As I pray I ask Him to help me daily demonstrate His love to my husband, family, friends, and even strangers I meet in a truck stop or rest area.

Thankfully our always AVAILABLE God is patient and long suffering, gracious and loving.  Wherever the road leads, God only asks my willingness to listen and grow and be His instrument of love in the world.

I thank Kari for graciously allowing this budding writer the opportunity to share “thoughts from the road” with you today.  I pray God will speak through them.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Please take a few moments to leave a comment below and to encourage Mary as she enters yet another phase of her writing life.

How to… Be Coachable

Tonight when you watch the Olympics, take a few minutes to observe the coaches. They watch with intensity. They cheer. They instruct. They console. They correct. Their emotional intensity rivals that of the athletes themselves.

Coaches see the big picture. They see what the athletes themselves don’t always see. They break down what needs done and how it needs done into small, manageable steps that will add up for big change over time if done consistently.

Yet, nothing a coach does matters if the athlete fails to open himself to being taught. Being coachable can make a talented athlete great. Being teachable can make an average athlete approach greatness too. Even an initially poor athlete can become good and maybe even great if he is coachable.

What does a coachable athlete look like? What attributes does he possess?

Certainly, a coachable athlete must trust his coach, he must be willing to change and try new things, and he must be have the ability to listen. In addition to these essential elements, a coachable athlete must also possess the following three qualities:

  1. Passion for practicing the basics. Even professional athletes still practice the basics regularly. The basics provide the foundation for greatness in any sport, a foundation on which a coach then builds a great athlete.
  2. Willingness to submit without always understanding why. A coach studies and plans, sees the big picture and usually has more experience than the athlete. For these reasons, an athlete must often submit to a coach’s leadership without at least initially understanding the reasoning.
  3. Humbleness for following directions/instructions without question. Especially during competition, an athlete needs to carry out the coach’s game plan and not question his every decision. Humbleness is necessary to let go of one’s own will and submit to another’s will.

These same attributes or qualities seen in a coachable athlete are also visible in a teachable Christian who, like David, pursues the heart of God.

  1. Passion for practicing the basics means being merciful, kind, humble and gentle. The basics also include forgiveness, love and thankfulness. A passion for the basics also includes living out the words of scripture as well as participating in regular fellowship and worship.  (Colossians 3:12-17)
  2. Willingness to submit to Christ means loving Him above all else and following Him wholeheartedly, regardless of the cost. (Luke 14:25-35)
  3. Humbleness that allows us to let go of our own will and desires and following Christ’s. Doing so means admitting our dependence upon Him. (James 5:7-10)

Being a successful athlete as well as being a Christian who pursues the heart of God takes hard work and perseverance. It takes honing specific qualities and habits even when they seem boring or hard to understand. It means following the instruction of those with more experience and who better understand the bigger picture. Being a successful athlete pursuing Olympic gold or a Christian pursuing the heart of God requires being coachable. Are you coachable?

Related “Olympic” Posts:

 Subscribe to Struggle to Victory by Email or Subscribe in a reader

Sunday Reflections – Olympic Christianity

Why are we willing to stay up late night after night to watch the Olympics? Why do we sometimes get emotional and perhaps even tear up when someone wins and sometimes even when they lose?

Olympians inspire me, win or lose. Seeing the best competing with the best in the world gets me excited. They make me want to do better, to strive harder for excellence.

Olympians define excellence. They help the rest of us understand excellence & what must be done to achieve it.

Just as Olympians epitomize excellence in sports, Christians should set the bar for excellence in living a holy life. The elements that work together to create Olympic excellence hold striking similarities to those the Bible gives for living life with excellence.

What are some of the similarities between Olympic excellence and the bar of excellence set for Christians?

  1. Commitment has to be total and complete. A casual commitment won’t achieve victory. As Christians, we must be “all in” in a way that makes us stand out. (1 Peter 2:11-12)
  2. Coachability must exist. Olympians succeed in large part because of the guidance and direction of their coaches. Christians also must submit themselves to God and be accountable to one another in order to truly succeed in having an impact for the Kingdom. (Ephesians 5:21)
  3. The bigger picture provides motivation. Olympic athletes often talk about the motivation of representing their country as being one of the biggest driving factors for them. Christians, too, have a bigger picture – that of eternity – that should motivate them. (Philippians 3:14)
  4. Even the best can make mistakes. Remember Lolo Jones in Beijing? She fell when she was clearly on her way to Olympic gold. But she’s back this year for redemption. In fact, many Olympians have similar stories. As Christians, we can’t let ourselves be derailed by mistakes. We must admit them and ask for forgiveness. We must also learn from our mistakes, and then, like David, pursue the heart of God. (Psalm 32)
  5. Endurance is a necessity. Some sports clearly define endurance (think distance running and swimming for example). Others, even though the actual event is over in seconds, still represent endurance in the preparation necessary for excellence. Christians also need endurance as they live out life this side of Heaven and eagerly await eternity and the rewards promised. (Hebrews 10:35-36)
  6. What you “eat” matters. Elite athletes carefully monitor what they eat and drink because they know that proper fuel is needed to perform at a level that achieves excellence. A Christian’s “diet” must consist of the bread that gives eternal life. What’s more, he must actually “taste” the bread; looking and smelling won’t get him to the goal. (John 6:51)
  7. Passion fuels. Olympians must have a passion for their sport. Without passion, putting in the required hours for practice, committing the necessary funds, and making the many sacrifices won’t happen to the level needed for excellence. Christians must strive for a passion like Peter’s (Acts 3:11-26) when he preached to the people after the lame beggar was healed, a passion that fuels our attitudes, actions and words to reflect Christ within us.

While watching the rest of the Olympics this week, consider how your life as a Christian reflects (or maybe fails to reflect) the characteristics of excellence visible in the lives of the athletes. Look at how their lives personify excellence, and then ask yourself, “What changes can I make to live a more excellent life?”

Forget About “How?” Relax a Bit and Just Run

When Lolo Jones tells of her fall on the 9th hurdle of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in the Women’s 100m Hurdles gold medal race, she simply says, “I should have just relaxed a bit and just run.” When she fell, Jones was winning the race and on her way to a gold medal.

Jones’ thoughts before the fall centered on how she should be running and jumping. “I was telling myself to make sure you don’t get sloppy in your technique,” she says in a Time, July 30, 2012 interview. “So I overtried. I tightened up a bit too much. That’s when I hit the hurdle.”

While none of us will run in a race in the Olympics, or even qualify for the Olympics in any sport for that matter, we can relate to the idea of over-trying, tightening up and crashing. At least, I know I definitely can.

When I do crash, I realize that I was focusing too much on “How?” How can I strengthen my faith? How can I stop worrying? How can I have more patience, kindness and self control? How can I trust Him more?

I all too often forget to “relax, and just run” and let what I have learned, the foundation that has been secured for me (1 Corinthians 3:11), become automatic and to naturally flow from me as I focus on Christ.

It’s at these times that the Holy Spirit gently impresses on me the realization that I am over-thinking the “How?” of living my life for Christ.

 “Faith comes by hearing…” (Romans 10:17)

“Ask, and it will be given…” (Matthew 7:7)

Seek, and you will find…” (Matthew 7:7)

“Wait on the Lord…”(Psalm 27:14)

Hear. Ask. Seek. Wait.

When I finally “relax and just run,” (Hebrews 12:1), I am able to “hear… ask… seek… and wait” in a way that makes all the weight of trying to figure out “How?” fall away.

All that entangles, all the hurdles in my path, falls away as I focus on “the author and perfector” of my faith (Hebrews 12:2). When I stop thinking about “How?” so much, I loosen up, quit trying so hard to figure life out, and let God be God. Only then am I truly able to run the race marked out for me with victory.

Do you need to “relax and just run”? What weights keep currently keep you from running the race with victory?

 Subscribe to Struggle to Victory by Email or Subscribe in a reader

How to… Develop Good Judgment – 5 Ways

Emotions cloud the ability for good judgment. Maturity, which doesn’t always mean age, limits it. Physical needs such as hunger and sleep also impact the ability to make healthy choices. Personal preferences bring another factor into the mix of what affects the quality of our decisions.

With all of these factors at play, how can we consistently operate with good judgment? How can we truly make healthy and positive choices more often than not throughout every area of life?

  1. Learn from mistakes. Not only from your own mistakes, but the mistakes of others as well. A mistake only equals wasted resources when we fail to apply its lessons.
  2. Have patience. This means patience not only with other people but with yourself as well. Hurrying often leads to poor decisions or even choices that lead us to say “good enough” rather than striving for our best.
  3. Don’t decide. Sometimes we make decisions just to not have the decision lingering over us. Often, waiting would have led to a natural resolution or solution.
  4. Value small decisions. Small changes made over time add up to make a big difference. Never underestimate the impact your small choices can have on your life.
  5. Seek wisdom. Trusting my thoughts when emotions are running at full tilt has often proved a mistake. Relying on others, whether trusted friends or even experts through books, helps keep me on track. For a start, try Proverbs 4.

Consistently having good judgment involves learning to not allow emotions to direct and control decisions. Quite often, emotions indicate one path while the right choice leads down a path in the opposite direction. Being able to make the right choice regardless of feelings shows a developing ability to have good judgment. This does not mean feelings are useless. Feelings can actually direct us down the right path if we’ve spent time knowing the steps the Lord would have us take. In other words, feelings can be great gauges, but they shouldn’t drive the car.

DISCUSSION: What examples can you give of any of the above suggestions in action? Or, maybe you have an example where one would have been prudent in hindsight.

Related Reading:

A Father’s Wise Advice – A post inspired by Proverbs 4

How Do You Plan for Victory – Part of a series about victory in our lives from Chris Patton at Christian Faith at Work

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions – Part 1 and Decisions, Decisions, Decisions – Part 2 – A 2-part series that resulted from the investigation of making decisions in Multiple Choice Gone Mad.

Subscribe to Struggle to Victory by Email or Subscribe in a reader