Category: Football and Family

Reflections and stories from our life as a coaching family. Helpful information as well as a peek inside the coaching life.

Loving Our Global Neighbor and Next Door Neighbor

Loving Our Global Neighbor and Next Door Neighbor

I’m writing over at The Glorious Table today! Here’s a preview

A year ago, we made an unplanned local move. It was stressful, but we knew that in the long run, there would be a lot of benefits to our new rental house. We had to make such a quick decision that we didn’t even have time to think about our new neighbors; however since we’d lived in a cul-de-sac for two-and-a-half years without anyone speaking to us already, I didn’t have high expectations for our new neighborhood.

Imagine my surprise when, on moving day, three of our new neighbors came out to meet us before we’d even unpacked our first carload. More than that, during the month leading up to our busiest season, our neighbors brought us cookies, gave us contact information for the least expensive companies for trash and internet, and helped us figure out where our boys would have to get the bus for school.

Our neighbors helped us adjust to our surroundings quickly. They helped make a house feel like a home. They loved in effortless ways, but it meant a lot to us because of our previous experiences just a half-mile away.

Evangelicals have clashed over the modern definition of what it means to love your neighbor. Many otherwise loving people have spent significant energy attempting to will others to agree to their narrow biblical viewpoint of loving your neighbor. The circular arguing has splintered relationships, opened old wounds, and even caused some to question whether they are welcome within the church walls.

Read the rest over at The Glorious Table

Share Four Somethings June 2020

Share Four Somethings June 2020

share four somethings

It’s time for another month of link-ups with Heather Gerwing’s Share Four Somethings. Part of me can’t believe we’re entering Phase 4 here in Illinois (wahoo!) and yet we’ve spent a lot of time still locked down this June.

Something Loved

I loved getting to connect with friends this month! Girl time has become such a luxury in this season of chaos and even with social distancing rules I’ve been able to share coffee, lunch, and intentional conversation with some of my favorite people in person this month.

Something Read

I think like many I’m consuming a lot of articles these days. I’ve been especially grateful for the black voices that have been elevated in response to George Floyd’s death. I think the most important point to make is that all the resources were already published. The conversations that the minority community has been having for decades is one that many have just started to pay attention to, and while that’s great, it’s most important to remember that the books weren’t published in response to George Floyd. They were published because the Church has always had division they have needed to address. Skye Jethani’s USA Today article isn’t getting nearly the attention it deserves. Likely because the title feels divisive. Look past the title, this is about the need to unite the church. Skye asks an important question. “Is the Bible still the foundation of the faith, or has it become a tool of political tribalism?”

I wrote Unity: The Heart of a Coach’s Wife which I hope resonates with many as well.

Something Treasured

We celebrated our 19th anniversary this month! Of course, things were simple because well, that’s life these days. However, that’s fine with me because a simple celebration this year will hopefully allow for a bigger celebration on our 20th! It’s hard to believe that these kids have moved multiple times, had babies who are now teenagers, and are still figuring out what next week will look like.

Something Ahead

I’m getting closer to launching my book! I released my cover this month and I’m SO excited to share it with everyone! You can learn more about the book subject, hear my recent podcast interviews and download my media kit here!

Lessons from the Sidelines front cover final

Head to Heather’s blog to link up with your Share Four Somethings and see what others are sharing for June 2020!

Favorite Podcasts

Favorite Podcasts

favorite podcasts

These days I’m finding audiobooks and podcasts way more interesting than what I can pull up on TV! Whether I’m in the car, on a walk or working there is something playing in the background. This summer I’ve discovered several new podcasts that have quickly become new favorites.

Here are My Favorite Podcasts:

Personal Growth

Lisa Whittle  Jesus Over Everything Join Lisa every Tuesday and Thursday for short devotional teachings and great interviews.

Your Enneagram Coach: The Podcast  The mission of the podcast is to help individuals and couples dive deeper into the Enneagram from a Biblical perspective. Leading the way in teaching the Gospel-centered Enneagram, Hosts Beth and Jeff McCord want to make personal awareness and growth accessible to everyone, everywhere so they can experience freedom in every area of their lives. 

Holy Post Podcast  Phil Vischer who is best known as the creator of Veggie Tales and the voice of Bob the Tomato and Skye Jethani who is an author, editor, speaker, consultant, and pastor have teamed up to produce one of the most culturally relevant podcasts of our time. Their conversations are blunt, nuanced, and honest but they will always keep Christ at the center and that’s the most important point.

 

Current Events

Armchair Expert with Dax Shephard: Dax Shephard is humble and kind. He swears a lot, so this one might not be for everyone, but besides that, I have appreciated how open Dax is about why he thinks the way he thinks. Dax says this is “a podcast that celebrates the messiness of being human.”

Pantsuit Politics: They say “We’re Beth and Sarah of Pantsuit Politics, a podcast for real conversations that help us understand politics, democracy, and the news – while still treating each other like thoughtful human beings. We’re here to create an informative and grace-filled space by respecting each other as people who are sharing insights into the issues and our hearts. Grace is something that everyone deserves, and it allows for greater depth in our conversations and connections.”

The Daily  by The New York Times They say:  This is what the news should sound like. The biggest stories of our time, told by the best journalists in the world. Hosted by Michael Barbaro. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, ready by 6 a.m.

Content Marketing (My Day Job)

Akimbo: A Podcast from Seth Godin Seth speaks on a subject from his years of experience and then also answers listener questions. For me, this podcast is the chance to sit under an industry expert and just glean wise ideas.

Mixtus Media – They say: “Book Marketing Simplified is a podcast to help authors save time with their marketing so they can spend more valuable time writing.” Their methods aren’t just for book marketing though. Are you launching a podcast or small business? Totally transferable.

Bonus Listens

The Next Right Thing– This is another short podcast that is packed with a thoughtful perspective focusing on decision making. 

That Sounds Fun– Annie Downs is all about fun and her podcast reflects this every week. Her laugh is contagious, but I also appreciate how vulnerable Annie gets with her guests. She asks unique questions other hosts don’t think to ask because she’s willing to be vulnerable and transparent.

Unlocking Us with Brene Brown– Brene says her podcast is about “Conversations that unlock the deeply human part of who we are, so that we can live, love, parent, and lead with more courage and heart.”

Football season is just around the corner and you know what that means…road trips! Download some of my favorite podcasts to keep you company this fall.

 

This post was originally published on 6/17/18. It was updated for relevancy and freshness 6/24/2020.

Anniversary 19

Anniversary 19

Dear Ordell,

Year 19 is the year we can define by surprising ups and downs that made this one like none other. This is the year the entire globe faced a viral pandemic and our country reacted to racism in a way we’ve never seen. It’s been overwhelming and at the same time clarifying. In many ways, what we’re seeing play out on the news is confirmation of every challenging conversation we’ve had through the years. I’m thankful for every location we’ve lived and for the way you’ve prayerfully moved our family. I’m also deeply thankful God moved us ahead of 2020 to where we live now. You’ve led our family well by listening to God even in the most challenging seasons.

We’ve moved around this country for your career and I’ve tried to support you and partner with you in helpful ways. Whereas most of our marriage football has been the all-consuming factor, in the last few years there has been a shift that has allowed me to focus on a long term project I’ve felt called to pursue for over a decade. In a few weeks, my first book will release. As the submission due date neared and the tasks intensified you stepped up to fill every gap our family needed to keep moving forward. More than that, you embraced cooking as a whole new adventure and we’re all enjoying your experimentation with the smoker and grill. I’ve not said this enough; thank you for your calm and consistent support.

Serving each other in the mundane tasks with joy isn’t always easy, however, it strengths our connection as a couple as well as the ties of trust. As an added bonus, our sons see that your actions at home match the words you speak in public. I’m so thankful our sons have a visual example of how marriage is a daily partnership.

Traditional and Modern Gift Anniuversary 19: Bronze

According to the Knot—just like the traditional eighth-year gift, bronze indicates that our relationship has grown stronger. Additionally, bronze signifies health within a marriage union even through tough times. Bronze was chosen because some believe it has healing properties.

Gemstone: Aquamarine

The Knot also explains that the Aquamarine is the gemstone for anniversary 19. Interestingly, this is also both of our birthstones. The aquamarine represents protection. The stone is said to keep everything that’s bad out but still keep all the love in for your 19th anniversary. Of course, this is interesting, but not a value to hold on to any more than good luck charms.

Marriage is a Partnership

As I reflect on the past 19 years of marriage and our years dating before then it amazes me that there are still moments when we encounter completely new experiences. What is comforting is the consistency in knowing that we will walk through these situations (good and difficult) together even if it means starting by giving each other space and sitting shoulder to shoulder. I’m thankful for the partnership we’ve built and look forward to how that grows in the years to come.

Who knows what this fall holds. Will we have a football season? Will we have a season that allows our presence by your side? Will we resume online teaching and learning? Regardless of what the next adventure holds I know we’ll tackle it together.

Love you always.

Podcast Interview and Book Cover Reveal

Podcast Interview and Book Cover Reveal

I really enjoyed chatting with Maria Harris, founder of National Sports Spouses Association. Maria has launched a podcast titled Athletic Spouses Talk and she was generous enough spend some time learning more about my book releasing later this summer.

You can listen to our podcast interview here.

Those of you on my email list receive a preview of my book cover in the May email. As promised, my email subscribers will always be the first to hear everything. I’m excited to share my book cover on my website for the first time here!

Lessons from the Sidelines front cover final

Does this photo look familiar? Back in March, I wrote a blog post titled The Value of Being Present and reflected on how this photo represents our ministry so well. Ordell and I haven’t always been perfectly in sync, however, we’ve always understood the calling on our marriage was about more than coaching football.

We’ll celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this month and as we’ve edited the copy in the pages of my book we’ve also reflected on our shared history. We talked about the different ways God confirmed our prayers, went before us, protected us, moved us, and how what felt confusing then makes so much more sense today.

My publisher generously let me try designing the book cover. We discussed a few directions to consider and then I created a few mock-up ideas. I pulled photos to represent the different sections of the book Calling, Relationships, Playbook, and found myself shuffling images around on the page over and over.

Harmony recalled this photo and suggested I include it in my mix of photos. Finally, with every combination exhausted I sent a few of my favorites to my boss Ryan who immediately identified this image as the only photo to focus on and from there I handed the project to our graphic designer at SMA Marketing who took my very vague instructions and created a book cover that I absolutely love.

When my publisher opened the email he called so I could hear his voice. He said he wanted me to hear how much he loved the cover. I could and it was at this moment after over two years that I finally started to say “my book” rather than “this project.”

I hope you’ll continue take the time to listen to my interview with Marie from athleticspouses.org and check back soon for more book news!

Pimento Cheese with a Twist

Pimento Cheese with a Twist

pimento cheese recipe with a twist

One of my favorite things about moving to several different parts of the country is the various “favorite foods” our family has adopted. Pork burgers and gooey butter cake are staples in our menu from our years in Southern IL. We were introduced to fried pickles, Brazilian BBQ, and pimento cheese when we lived in Virginia and they remain some of our favorite comfort foods.

I love pimento cheese because it’s an easy way to help incorporate fresh veggies into our menus. It’s also a versatile topper for a baked potato, tomato soup, or burger that adds a twist. I’ve long maintained Palmetto’s is the best store-bought brand of pimento cheese, however, both maltodextrin and cultured dextrose are ingredients meaning their gluten-free claim is shaky. (Boo)

My southern friends may need to avert your eyes here however I think this Midwestern family has discovered our favorite version of pimento cheese and it’s officially replaced our Palmetto’s Pimento Cheese addiction. Spoiler Alert there are NO Pimentos in this recipe! One of the best parts is there is a slightly smoky flavor that makes this recipe stand out above any other I’ve tasted.

Pimento Cheese with a Twist

4 C Sharp Cheddar Cheese (choose a good quality cheese)

1/2 C Mayo (we use Primal Kitchen)

1/2 C Plain Greek Yogurt

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2-3 chipotle in adobo and some sauce diced finely

1 tsp maple syrup (the real stuff!)

1 Tbls spicy mustard (original recipe calls for Dijon mustard but we never have any!)

*The original recipe also calls for a pinch of cayenne or dash of hot sauce. Since I use the spicy mustard I haven’t included this ingredient. But that’s the thing about a great recipe, you get to adjust it to your taste preferences.

**If you prefer more “sauce” to cheese ratio add equal parts of mayo and yogurt in Tablespoon portions.

Combine everything really well and then pour over the shredded cheese. This is one of those recipes that’s best when you can prepare it ahead of time.

Wondering what to do with the rest of the chipotle in adobo? They freeze really well for the next round of pimento cheese. But they are also an AMAZING addition to chili or taco soup!

Thanks to Harmony Harkema for the original recipe!

Father’s Day Gifts for Your Coach

Father’s Day Gifts for Your Coach

Father's Day Gifts for Your Coach

I was reviewing my Father’s Day gift idea list from last year and it’s another reminder of how different life is this year. I wonder if we’ll ever get to the point where we can plan a getaway without masks again. Will we have pit stops available where ever we stop? Is a road trip even fun if you have to wear masks everywhere you go? With getaways out of the question for 2020, I’m shifting this year’s Father’s Day Gift Idea list to focus on a few things for your coach that aren’t career-related and don’t involve travel.

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Support His Hobby (even if it’s new)

It’s been a season of forced stillness and many people have caught up on projects around their homes while others have used the time to explore expanding their interests. It’s important to keep the balanced perspective that at some point athletics will start up full force again, however, there is always time for additional interests. This is especially important when hobbies are used as a way to decompress and reduce stress.

When you support a hobby that encourages self-care you love your coach well:

  • Pick up a new fishing rod, license, and bait
  • Pick out a new grill master tools and seasonings
  • Add a tool or buy the materials for the project he’s been working on
  • Buy those new hiking boots he’s been eyeing

Customize Something Useful

father's day gift

Do you have a favorite photo? Add it to a mug, travel mug, keychain, or another item your husband uses frequently.

Shutterfly, Walmart, and Vistaprint all have options that are affordable and great quality.

We’ve had a Shutterfly travel mug for several years. At one point we lost the lid and they even sent us a replacement.

Update His Wardrobe

I cannot stress this enough. If your husband has wanted to add to his wardrobe now is the time to do it. Go through those drawers and closets and see where the gaps in his day to day ensembles remain. You’ll find anything you want on sale if you price compare! Shop online and use Swagbucks or Rakuten to earn cashback on your purchases. Double your cash back benefits by shopping online at Kohl’s when there is a Kohl’s cash deal going or use a rewards credit card that you pay off right away to earn points and you’ll really stretch your dollars.

Monthly Subscriptions

I did a round up of monthly subscription ideas for Mother’s Day and there are just as many fun ones for men.

However, you celebrate your favorite Coach this Father’s Day I hope you spend time relaxing together. It won’t be long before we’re back into the thick of the season with full to overflowing calendars. Take time to let your man know how much you value his presence on Father’s Day and every day.

Unity: The Heart of a Coach’s Wife

Unity: The Heart of a Coach’s Wife

Unity: The Heart of a Coach's Wife

When I saw the first video of George Floyd on the ground my stomach dropped. I couldn’t take my eyes off of George’s head. His round, bald head could hardly move as he begged for his life. Bystanders asked those sworn to protect and serve to please get off his neck, please let him breathe and please check for a pulse.

As I watched George Floyd stop fighting I finally looked up at the smug look on the Derek Chauvin’s face. That police officer knew exactly what he was doing. He even adjusted his knee at one point to make himself more comfortable. He told those advocating for George his choice to continue to choke him was to teach them a lesson. It was to show them why they shouldn’t take drugs.

Even though I knew George Floyd was already dead everything in me wanted to yell or call someone or shake the TV. I needed to stop Derek Chauvin. But of course, I was powerless to help George Floyd. So instead I ran to the next room to my husband, who is also a tall black man who shaves his head. And I tried unsuccessfully to shield him from the terror that would consume the news cycle. This was my automatic response because when we love someone we do not want to see them suffer.

These three men above mean the world to me. They are my heart, my blood, my joy. My first instinct is always to look to protect them. But I am not just a wife and a mother. I am also a coach’s wife. When I talk about my men these three are rarely the totality of who I’m praying for, worrying about, or proud of on any given occasion.

Ordell and I have been married for 19 years this month and we dated for two of his coaching seasons. For over 20 years I’ve spent part of my calendar year praying for, cooking for, laughing with, and cheering for hundreds of men on and near the sidelines of football games.

Many of those young men have been (and are) minorities. I have shared meals with Hispanic, Polynesian, Haitian, Caucasian, and African American men who came together because of football. They’ve bonded over difficult practices, amazing wins, challenging losses, and dorm craziness. These athletes started out largely as strangers. But with the love of football as a springboard, they always eventually connected through a common language of their own no one else fully understood. It’s part of what distinguishes each group as a team.

Football teams have crowded into our home through the years on a Friday morning for leadership development and returned that evening to watch Ultimate Fighting matches. Different athletes have babysat our sons for our date nights, lived in our basement, recuperated on our couch from surgeries, cared for our home while we traveled, and shared so many meals with our family in our home or the dining commons I couldn’t begin to count them. Football players were not just Ordell’s athlete’s on the football field. They have been a part of our family.

We have loved and prayed for each team before we met them because they were the athletes that would soon join our football family.

Families don’t always think the same way and there is often conflict as we flex our free will muscles. Whether that’s freedom of thought, freedom of speech, or straight out rebellion there comes a time when differing opinions will clash. It’s expected, but that doesn’t mean we enjoy the conflict.

Coaches Carry a Heavy Load

Billy Graham once said, “A coach will impact more people in one year than the average person will in an entire lifetime.” This is true, however, that impact takes a lot of work and intentionality. Coaches carry a heavy load of expectations these days. Their work on the athletic field is just the beginning. There is very little I can do other than pray, listen, and encourage. But I know that Ordell’s calling is worth every moment of stress because of his intentional investment. This is true of most coaches.

Coaches can use sport to develop future leaders but it takes time. Even the best coaches must prepare their team talks, consider themes, how to best communicate an idea, and they must do this while also watching film, preparing for practice, and everything else that goes into a day for their job description as “coach.” Athletes who make poor choices off the field can’t contribute on the field. Coaches need to work to keep their athletes academically eligible, and address players’ behavior. Additionally, coaches need to stay attentive to team conflicts and how those dynamics are impacting the team. Something that festers will poison team culture and cause lasting division.

Unity is Always My Prayer

As a coach’s wife, I understand the importance of team dynamics on a personal level. A team that can’t figure out how to work together won’t play well together. Coaches with losing records are fired. Because of this, it could seem like the only reason to teach men of different races and cultures how to work together is personally motivated.

However, coaches and coaches’ wives understand that what athletes learn on the field will translate off the field. Teammates who grind together side by side in August’s heat focusing on everyone getting better together will see growth. Growth will lead to success. If athletes focus only on themselves rather than the team everyone fails. Egocentric athletes fail every time. This principle translates to life.

  • Businessmen who say “I have black co-workers, I’m not a racist,” while staying silent when that co-worker is falsely accused of stealing because ultimately it will benefit them if the black co-worker is fired ARE racist.
  • Businessmen who prefer to engage with clients who are white or hire white workers “because they are more reliable” or “because they can afford my rates” reveal a bias.
  • Church leaders who say all are welcome here but don’t welcome minority voices to speak from the podium contradict themselves.
  • Educators who sigh and roll their eyes as a minority child acts out in class again rather than pausing to consider whether this is a cry for food from a child without the right words, keep blinders on rather than exploring the full picture of what impedes the child from learning.

When Unity Translates from the Athletic Field to Real Life; Leaders Break Down Barriers.

When athletes are true teammates who have the opportunity to connect with people from different backgrounds than their own they can humbly self-reflect on the unconscious bias they may have. As athletes shed these biases and identify different cultures as equally valuable there are opportunities to understand that every person has different strengths, skills, gifts, and talents to contribute and when everyone works together we all win.

  • Athletes who see their former teammates in the eyes of their co-workers should stand up for integrity in the workplace for all co-workers equally understand that silence is never an option.
  • Athletes who become business owners and managers will have the chance to hire workers and extend contracts for partnerships. If they have faced their previous personal biases they will be willing to individuals the interact with on their own merits rather than classifying people by race or gender. They are more likely to understand which references are offensive to other cultures and which will make their future employees comfortable in the workplace.
  • Athletes who become future church leaders and ministry leaders that are used to worshipping alongside their former teammates will work to ensure that diversity continues as they build their ministries.
  • Teachers who see their former teammate’s children in the eyes of their students will extend compassion to that fidgety child and ask a question rather than make an assumption.

Athletes Who Value Diversity Value Unity

My heart for every player is that they will leave our teams stronger, wiser, and more attuned to Jesus than when they arrived. I pray the seeds of truth our coaches plant will grow over time as our athletes encounter different life experiences. I pray that our teams will understand that unity depends on valuing diversity.

I am not naive. I fully understand that some athletes will enter Ordell’s team and stifle their opinions. They will put up a safe facade to show that they can get along with others while at the same time they will continue to cling to their opinions that they are the only ones who see things accurately. This doesn’t change my prayers. It doesn’t change who I invite into my home while they are our athletes either.

It’s not our job to force change. All we can do is present the truth and pray for God to move in the hearts and minds of men. I pray that as our athletes worship God together they will build the habit of focusing on him rather than themselves. I wholeheartedly believe that when coaches develop athletes who value diversity they will also value unity.

The Church Has Always Been Built on the Principles of Diversity and Unity

In Exodus 35 Moses is leading the people in building the Tabernacle:

Moses also told the whole congregation of Israel, “This is what the LORD has commanded: Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Let everyone whose heart is willing bring an offering to the LORD:

gold, silver, and bronze;

blue, purple, and scarlet yarn;

fine linen and goat hair;

ram skins dyed red and fine leather;a

acacia wood;

olive oil for the light;

spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense;

and onyx stones and gemstones to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.

The Skilled Craftsmen

Let every skilled craftsman among you come and make everything that the LORD has commanded:

the tabernacle with its tent and covering, its clasps and frames, its crossbars, posts, and bases;

the ark with its poles and mercy seat, and the veil to shield it;

the table with its poles, all its utensils, and the Bread of the Presence;

the lampstand for light with its accessories and lamps and oil for the light;

the altar of incense with its poles;

the anointing oil and fragrant incense;

the curtain for the doorway at the entrance to the tabernacle;

the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grate, its poles, and all its utensils;

the basin with its stand;

the curtains of the courtyard with its posts and bases, and the curtain for the gate of the courtyard;

the tent pegs for the tabernacle and for the courtyard, along with their ropes;

and the woven garments for ministering in the holy place—both the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons to serve as priests.”

The People Offer Gifts

Then the whole congregation of Israel withdrew from the presence of Moses. And everyone whose heart stirred him and whose spirit prompted him came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its services, and for the holy garments. So all who had willing hearts, both men and women, came and brought brooches and earrings, rings and necklaces, and all kinds of gold jewelry. And they all presented their gold as a wave offering to the LORD.

Exodus 35:4-22 (BSB)

The people of Israel were all the same race, however, they needed to learn how to work together as a team under the leadership of Moses, who had previously lived as an Egyptian and was married to a Kushite woman. When they did so they glorified God by willingly obeying the instructions Moses communicated.

Moses spoke directly to God and then to the Israelites. It was their choice to listen and respond or to go their own way. For forty years in the desert the Israelites chose of their own free will to obey or disobey. Moses communicated what God told him to say, that was his job. The same is true for Christians today.

God’s truths are always true, one of those is that when people focus on God rather than themselves they sit in the correct posture. It’s always my prayer that our football teams will understand that life is bigger than them and that their actions can impact everyone they interact with for their entire lives.

In the Old Testament the Israelites followed specific commands from God, but under the new covenant Jesus changed things.

Matthew 22:36-40 (CEB) says, “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” (emphasis mine)

My prayer is that all our athletes would learn to fully live out Jesus’ teachings. Especially these verses. And in doing so, I know that unity will be a natural outcome.

How to be a Voice for the Voiceless

How to be a Voice for the Voiceless

Proverbs 31:8 A Voice for the Voiceless

Our family is not surprised by stories of racism in America. We have a lengthy list of experiences we can contribute that include both overt and subtle situations. However, for many others, the horrors that have become public have finally been enough to uncover ears and remove blinders from eyes. For that I am thankful. For my friends and family who have taken brave steps to listen, learn, look for ways to act, and speak the truth about racism, thank you.

It has not escaped my attention that this shift in the conversation has had consequences from those who remain egocentric. I hope you have felt supported by me as I’ve tried to cheer you on by sharing resources and attempting to stop those who are trying to bully you into silence. When we’re afraid, wounded, exhausted, or angry it’s challenging to think about anyone but ourselves. Psychologists call this egocentrism.

Egocentric and self-centered behaviors include:

  • Focus on own perception and opinion
  • Lack of empathy
  • Inability to recognize needs of others
  • Excessive thoughts of how others might view them
  • Decision-making around the needs of self

One example of this is the disqualifying assumption. When someone says Black Lives Matter you can choose to say “Yes they do!” or you can choose to say “What about me? I matter!” This defensiveness often causes people to attempt to silence the voice that is attempting to remove them from the center of the story. The voice that shows compassion to someone else is somehow offensive.

Since decisions for egocentric people are only about fulfilling personal needs it’s easy to look contradictory to an outside observer. When the only consistent choice is to do what is best for SELF we may find ourselves compromising on our previously stated convictions. For example, the prolife Republican who demands his mistress gets an abortion and pays for his silence.

Egocentric People Will Continue to Divide

For years every time my husband has voiced an opinion he’s been told to shut his mouth. This week as he responded to George Floyd’s death on his social media account he was told to leave the country. I was told my multiple personal experiences while with my husband experiencing overt racism don’t “count” because they are not facts.

Not only are these statements egocentric, but they also are not aligned with the teachings of Jesus. We barely have to turn a page in the first four books of the New Testament without noting the conflict between the Jews and the Gentiles. Jesus said repeatedly all are welcome and yet even today those who call themselves followers of Christ refuse to invite the voices of their minority brothers and sisters to the table as equal.

Jesus Spoke Against Racism

One of the most distinctive stories Jesus uses to call out the Pharisees is found in Luke 10. The Parable of the Good Samaritan begins with a question from a lawmaker in Luke 10:25. “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?'” The lawmaker was concerned about himself. He wanted to live forever.

Luke 10:26-29 says, “‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’ He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’ But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”

It’s at this point that Jesus sets the standard for what it looks like to love our neighbor. Our neighbor isn’t ONLY the people who live in proximity to us. Our neighbors aren’t JUST the people in our small groups or the people we work with or the people we like.

Our neighbors include people who by the world’s standards we are supposed to despise. Our neighbors are those that we have different views from when it comes to religion, politics, lifestyle choice, and habits. Our neighbors are those who cannot speak for themselves.

Please take time to read the entire story. But for now, let’s focus on Luke 10:33-37:

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.'”

The Samaritan sees the injured Jewish man on the road and unlike the previous two men who ignored their fellow Jew, the Samaritan man has compassion for him.

The Samaritan Goes Further than Feeling Compassionate

Here is the most important point about loving your neighbor in this parable. The Samaritan doesn’t simply notice the Jewish man and acknowledge his wounds with a First Century AD version of thoughts and prayers. The Samaritan ACTS on behalf of the wounded man. He bandaged the injuries using his oil and wine. He continues to care for the Samaritan and then when he needs to move on with his journey he leaves financial resources with the innkeeper so the Jewish man can continue to heal.

All of these actions are choices to “speak out for the rights of the voiceless” (Proverbs 31:8). The Jewish man’s wounds took days of recovery and were expensive to care for but the Samaritan didn’t expect that he would pay for or arrange his own care. He stepped in and took care of things FOR the wounded man. Every choice was made in contrast to an egocentric life. This was a life that reflected the same sacrifice Jesus makes for us.

Jesus asks the expert in the law which of the three examples is the one that was a neighbor and the lawman says “The one who had mercy on him.” This response is followed by a simple command. “Go and do likewise.”

Let’s be clear here. Showing compassion is not agreement. The Samaritan didn’t pause to weigh whether helping the Jewish man would taint his business in some way or consider asking why he had been wounded. He simply helped him. This doesn’t mean he agreed with the actions that led up the man’s injuries. Perhaps this man was an alcoholic who beat his wife and children. Helping him does not condone the actions, but showing him compassion models the behavior he SHOULD extend his family.

Moving Forward Requires Lasting Action

Micah 6:8 (NIV) says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” We see the Samaritan model this and Jesus affirms this is how we live out The Greatest Command. This can feel intimidating, especially when you have strong, egocentric personalities to contend with, however you aren’t alone.

Today on the Church calendar is Pentecost Sunday. Acts 2:1-4 says “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

Pentecost is the day God sent the Holy Spirit to help the Apostles tell the truth of Jesus’s resurrection in multiple languages at the same time so all could hear the truth in their language. God helped those who needed to speak the truth to do so clearly.

It’s time for Body of Christ to step up and be the voice for the voiceless. It’s time for the Body of Christ to stop asking the wounded to stay silent. It’s time for the Body of Christ to start reflecting Jesus to EVERYONE.

I know the temptation is to lean on your brothers and sisters of color in these moments. The follow behind them and even justify this as your duty as you learn. I’m going to ask you to stop leaning on them for now unless they are speaking. There are thousands of resources wise minority leaders have already developed. They stepped out in faith as God led them in the hopes that someone would listen. Many have, and many more are ready now. THANK YOU.

It’s Time to Be the Voice for the Voiceless

Learning is an act of love. But then it’s time to lead. Our church says “Kingdom leaders bring Kingdom perspectives” and right now that is what’s desperately needed.

Trust that just because your friends stop posting about racism that does not mean the issue has been resolved. It simply means they understand their voices will only reach so far and they are tired of sounding like an echo chamber.

Pick up the message and move it to your extended circles of influence. More than that, do NOT LET RACISTS WIN. Don’t let the bullies shift the conversation and shut down truth. The goal is to divide. The goal is to let evil continue to reign.

Again, thank you to everyone who has reached out publicly and privately this week. Your support of our family has meant the world to us. Now it’s time to let you be the voice for the voiceless. In serving you this week there has been very little time to fully process nor serve my family. It’s time to protect the home team.

Walker Family 2018

Resources for You to Consider

A lowdown, dirty shame: Ahmaud Arbery’s murder and the unrenounced racism of white Christians (Baptist News Global)

You Can Have A Black Friend, Partner, Or Child And Still Be Racist (Scary Mommy)

Rich Villodas

75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Injustice

We Have the Power (The Glorious Table)

White Supremacy Terms
Athletes Who Choose

Athletes Who Choose

athletes who choose

An educator made a comment recently as we discussed the transition to e-learning and the impact on older students. It’s one I hadn’t considered before. She said past a certain point in a child’s education teachers do not educate, students choose to learn. Her point was that a teacher can stand and give a lecture, require as many assignments as necessary for a concept to become second nature, and even if a student completes the assignments correctly that doesn’t ensure they’re learning.

We Absorb What We Want to Retain

Think about how many songs you know the lyrics to and how quickly you can recall the melody to sing along when you hear the song on the radio. Do you pause to consider the story of the lyrics? Are the words sinking in as you’re singing them? Or are you enjoying the melody? Depending on the genre of music you prefer this may not be a big deal. However, I’ll pause with me to imagine a room full of elementary age summer camp children singing the latest Justin Bieber hit Yummy. (Or can we say Yucky?)

This same principle applies to athletics. It’s always an athlete’s choice to listen. Coaches can have players watch film, repeat plays until they become second nature, run them through drills, and try to show them the bigger picture of the game plan. But if an athlete only focuses on how the play will impact them at that moment the team will find themselves in a disappointing or shall we say yucky situation.

Athletes Who Choose to Engage

Athletes who choose to engage in the process of learning the why and how will find themselves at a much greater advantage than those who simply memorize the plays, call signs, or running routes.

Athletes who choose to stay in the weight room to encourage their teammates after their lifting session rather than hanging off or stepping out to of the room keeping their attention focused on themselves will build team connections. Relationships are built over time. Leaders establish themselves as they build teammates up rather than tearing them down.

Athletes who choose to engage in the classroom let themselves up for success. Students with higher GPAs will find college much more affordable. This extends the opportunity to continue their sport after high school.

Athletes who choose to engage will find themselves enjoying the journey. Sure, the daily grind of practice is rarely defined as fun every day. However, the people who are more than teammates, those who become brothers, they make the experience memorable.

Athletes Who Choose to Be Coachable

Athletes have the opportunity to engage with their coaches and continue to learn about their sports rather than deciding they know enough to get through the game. Coachable athletes aren’t satisfied with their technique or speed. Rather, they know that with the help of an outside perspective there are adjustments that can be made to improve their abilities.

Coaches see the big picture, they have more experience to lend to the the big picture on the field or court. They understand the physical, mental, and emotional game. They also understand the strategies necessary to compete. When athletes choose to believe their coaches voices are ones to engage with beyond absorbing the information great things happen.

Just like my educator friend explained about students, at some point an athlete must choose to continue to grow. This isn’t a decision anyone else can make. However, athletes who choose to engage will thrive.