While I was watching the Olympics, I saw a lot of people at the top of their game, vying to be gold medalists.  Many of them didn’t get a medal. Does this mean that they aren’t champions? They might feel that they had failed and are not champions, but in reality, the people that get up and keep going are the ones that win a more important race.

As I watched the ice skating competition, specifically the men’s short programs, I cringed when Jeremy Abbott crashed into the wall during his performance. For a second or two I joined thousands of other people who were probably thinking, “He is done, because he must be hurt after that fall.” But lo and behold, as the crowd cheered, he got back up and finished his performance. It was so spectacular to watch him finish without any other flaws.

He is the mark of a true champion. Those who cheered him on are also champions. As a woman with a disability, I’ve climbed many hurdles, but I couldn’t do what I’ve done with out the champions in my life cheering me on. Some of them give me a smile, some of them give me a kick in the pants when I need it, and some of them just help me get rested up until it’s time to get up and go again.

We are all called to be both cheerleaders and champions. We are all made stronger when we cheer each other on toward greatness. Who are you cheering on right now? Or you might actually be cheering someone on and not even know it! I’ve discovered that all of us are strengthened when we give and receive encouragement from each other because that is what we were created to do.

If these rainy, gray winter days, have brought gloom your way, go to the mall and just smile at someone, make a phone call to someone you know, or send a card to a friend for no reason at all, and let me know if your gloom suddenly turns to sunshine!


Stoking the fire

I’m back!!! I know it’s been way too long since I’ve blogged; and you’ve probably been waiting with bated breath. Today is your lucky day! Since I posted last I’ve been traveling quite a bit. One of my trips was to the Leadership conference for Joni and Friends in southern California. I questioned my sanity for coming back to the Northwest after six days in the warm sunshine, but I finally did come back.

In one of my favorite addresses by Joni Eareckson-Tada, she was talking about reading a golf magazine. The writer said it wasn’t the connection with the ball that determined where it went, but it is what the golfer did after hitting the ball that decided where it ended up. That sentence has stuck with me because it’s one thing to get inspired by an idea or an event, but it’s another thing to follow through with the dream that the initial contact had sparked. There has to be a connection between one thing and the next in order to get you moving.

While I was looking on Facebook, I saw a post asking for money for a little girl who was going to the Joni and Friends Twin Rocks camp that I attend each year. I shared it on my page and was amazed that that same little girl was the niece of a friend of mine! That connection was beyond what I had expected and it made the situation feel even closer to home.  We get bombarded by the amount of information that we see on Facebook or the news and we just glaze over it.  Social media is good at making that first connection, but it is the times when our hearts our sparked that we can choose to take action.

Luke 17: 11-19

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers,who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him,“Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

In the parable above, there were ten men who had an initial connection with Jesus and only one who was truly sparked. It was clear to me that Jesus was offering a far greater gift than physical healing. One man understood that and the others did not.  Ten lepers were healed and only one returned and said ‘thank you’, and I think this was because of his deeper connection to Jesus and an understanding of what He was offering.  Some of us may have made New Year’s resolutions that have gone stone cold, like the Oregon weather did when I returned from California, causing us to put our plans on ice. But believe me, one spark can begin the thawing process and put us back on the right track. If you think you are in the doldrums of winter, keep your eyes and ears open for something or someone to come along and spark the embers in your heart.