Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tennis Tizzy

I absolutely LOVE tennis! I've only been playing for a year and a half but I'm completely hooked. It's the perfect sport which delicately balances great cardio, social connections, suntanning opportunities and fashion sense (those tennis outfits are so cute).

In January, I did the unthinkable. I signed up for a U.S.T.A. League. This meant I would actually play competition style tennis against women I didn't even know. No more playing the same girls in doubles week after week. This was the big leagues... or so I thought.

I joined a local team with 18 other women from my area. Several of them I already new so this league thing was getting off to a very good start. I purchased my team outfit, bought a new racquet (on clearance) and some new tennis shoes (clearance too). I was ready, armed and dangerous.

After weeks of anticipation, I received my very first league email that listed the line up for that week. I couldn't wait to open it up and see who I was partnered with. To my surprise, I wasn't even listed to play that week. "Bummer", I thought. I was told at sign ups that each player was guaranteed at least 4 games in the season. "I guess this is my off week", I reasoned in my head. Oh well, surely next week.

The following week's email came and once again I was not on the list. Wait one cotton picking minute! Something isn't right. Surely I should have played this week? Before I knew it, they all showed up at once... Doubt, Insecurity, Anger, Negativity, and Frustration. Where did ya'll come from? I refuse to listen to anything you have to tell me. I'm not interested. Hit the road and don't come back.

But to my surprise, they all came back, throughout the entire day and the entire week. Although I tried to fight it, questions swarmed through my head like bees in a beehive. "Did the team leader not like me?" "Was my tennis really bad and no one told me?" "Was joining this league a big mistake?" "Should I drop out now and avoid any further humiliation?"

Week three came. The email arrived. Once again, I'm not on the list. I'm so disappointed.

Up until that time, I had contained my feelings through a cherub like demeanor but not anymore. Now I was really ticked off. So I did what every female tennis player would obviously do. I emailed my team captain who had been sending out those horrible emails each week. I was polite and precise in my questioning and she responded with perfect answers that made complete sense.

So why then was I still feeling horrible inside? Why did I have this big lump of doubt and insecurity sitting on my shoulders? What would I do with all these feelings of frustration and anger? Well, I took them all to the Lord. I told him what happened (even though he already knew) and handed over all my hurts to him. This really wasn't about tennis and not getting to play. It was about my idea of being accepted by others. It was about my insecurities and past hurts. Although it seems foolish, even to me, God took my hurts and replaced them with His peace, perspective and love. When Friday rolled around (the day of our team's tennis match), I would certainly find out why he kept my name off the line up roster for that week.

Thursday morning I woke up feeling out of sorts. I had a bad headache and a slight sore throat but blamed it on the sudden weather change and went about my daily routine. By 3:00 pm, I was in bed with a heating pad and when Friday morning rolled around, I was as sick as a dog. The same Friday morning that I would have been scheduled to play my very first USTA league match.

As I lay in bed with a high fever and pounding headache, God whispered in my heart "This is why you weren't scheduled to play this week". At that moment, it all became clear to me. What I had perceived as an unfair decision was really God's way of protecting me. If my name would have been on the roster that week, I would have had to forfeit the game or tried to play while being sick. Neither choice would have been good. God, in his awesome love for me, kept me from having to make that tough decision by keeping my name off the roster all together.

Did I learn my lesson? You bet I did! Things do happen for a reason and if you are a child of God, I can guarantee it's with your best interest in mind. Nothing happens to us outside the Sovereign hand of God. He knows what he's doing and my job is to trust him even when it doesn't seem like things are going my way.

I'm not worried about next week's email and roster line up. Whether or not I play is irrelevant. What matters is that I put my complete trust in God's perfect plan for my life each day, regardless of the circumstances or outcome.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dirty Laundry

If I could change any room in my house it would be the laundry room. It's not that I think the space is too small or lacking anything. I just don't like the location of it. When the previous owners designed the house we now live in they placed the laundry room right between the kitchen and our side garage.

Although we have a beautiful front porch, everyone seems to enter our home through the side garage door which leads straight into my laundry room. This absolutely drives me bananas! My foyer is always clean with everything in just the right spot. On the other hand, my laundry room always seems to look like a tornado just ripped through it.

My children throw their shoes, backpacks, lunchboxes and toys on the floor. My husband is forever leaving his handyman tools on my folding table and dirty laundry is piled up everywhere. It's one thing if my family sees the mess but for heaven's sake I don't want everyone else to see it!

Several months ago I purchased two beautiful wicker laundry hampers with the ivory clothe lining to spruce up my laundry room. I thought this would be a decorative way to hide my dirty laundry. The only problem is that no matter how hard I try there is always more laundry then space in my pretty wicker hampers. Dirty socks, shirts, shorts and yes... even underwear are always oozing out of the top of the hampers. My family has mastered dirtying clothes faster than I can wash, dry, fold and put clean clothes away.

I have repeatedly asked my husband and our boys to please bring guests through the front door. For some reason, my request has fallen on deaf ears because no one seems to listen. On top of that, nobody seems to be remotely bothered by the fact that their friends and our neighbors can see our dirty stuff! What is wrong with these guys!!!

I think that my dirty laundry is sort of like my dirty sins. I don't want anyone to see them. I'd rather hide them in pretty containers or redirect others to keep them at a distance so they have no idea my dirty sins exist. Maybe if I do good deeds and acts of service when others are looking, they may think I'm practically free from sin but that's not what scripture says.

Isaiah 64: 6 says "All of us have become like one who is unclean and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

I may be able to hide my "dirty laundry" from others but I certainly can't hide it from God. He sees everything. The good, the bad, and the ugly. There is good news though. Actually, it's great news! If I confess my sins (expose my dirty laundry), God is faithful and just to forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

I don't know about you but I don't want to have unconfessed sin in my life. I don't want anything to get in the way of my relationship with the Lord. Of course, he already knows about my sins but if I don't share my weaknesses with him then I won't be able to ask for his help in overcoming them.

If my family didn't bring their dirty laundry to me, I wouldn't be able to wash, dry, fold and provide them with clean clothes to wear. Often times I complain when more clothes end up in the hamper but thank goodness God doesn't respond that way to me. He doesn't grumble and complain. He's always ready and willing to replace my filthy rags with clean ones.

I still have those pretty hampers in my laundry room along with my children's toys, backpacks, lunchboxes, shoes and of course, my husbands tools. And yes, my family still has friends and neighbors enter our home through that side garage door but it really doesn't matter anymore. I'm not into hiding my dirty laundry these days. I think keeping it exposed has lots of advantages. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Bachelor Boo Hoo

Did any of you watch The Bachelor Finale this week?

First, let me say that I haven't watched this show in years.... HONESTLY! I confess that I did watch the very first season but quickly became bored with it. I'd rather read a good book instead of watching t.v. any day.

The other night was different. I had had an extremely busy afternoon and used up all my brain power. I was looking for some mindless entertainment right before bedtime and wasn't up to watching something that would require me to think too deeply.

After flipping through 9999 channels, I came across the Bachelor. It was towards the end of the show and Girlie Contestant #1 was anxiously walking down the beautifully paved beach side path to Mr. Wonderful. Mr. Wonderful took her hand, quickly dumped her, escorted her back to the limo then returned to his mansion balcony for a quick boo hoo session.

At this point, my husband (who was watching t.v. with me) left the room mumbling under his breath "what a sissy!" I however was hooked. The remote was in my hand and I promise you, I tried to change the channel but I couldn't bring myself to do it. It was as if I was in some sort of t.v. trance or something. I had seen this happen to my husband many times before, even while watching children's cartoons (he's obviously very prone to t.v. trances). I just had to find out what would happen next.

During the commercial break, I jumped up and fixed myself a huge bowl of ice cream which included but was not limited to hot fudge, caramel sauce, and toffee coated pecans. Oh yes, this was going to be a hour of indulgence! I got back just in time to see Girlie Contestant #2 walking down the same beautifully paved beach side path to Mr. Wonderful. I smiled to myself while shoving spoonfuls of rocky road in my mouth. The suspense was almost killing me, not to mention the brain freeze that suddenly gripped my head. Which by the way, is surely the only down side to eating ice cream.

Mr. Wonderful embraced Girlie Contestant #2, promised her a lifetime of happiness, got down on one knee, pledged his forever love to her, and proudly slipped a humongous chunk of joy on her finger. She giggled, he giggled, she cried, he cried, they embraced again and again. Then the show cut to a commercial break. Ah, they lived happily every after...Nope!

To my surprise, this was a two hour special. Now, "The Bachelor, After the Rose" show was coming on. "You have got to be kidding!" I wasn't planning for a two hour commitment. So I did what any other Southern girl would do. I went and refilled my bowl of ice cream with hot fudge, caramel sauce and toffee coated pecans, thank you very much.

Upon returning, the host explained that this would be the most shocking "After the Rose" show ever. Something that had never happened in the history of this show. So traumatic that they wouldn't even allow a live audience. "WHAT'S HAPPENING" I blurted out! This was not what I signed up for. I was looking for a show that was mindless and required no thinking what so ever. I should have known better than to get sucked into The Bachelor. Not only would I be exhausted the next morning but I'd go to bed with a major stomach ache from all that darn ice cream.

Well, let me tell you somethin'. Mr. Wonderful is not so wonderful at all!!! He's Mr. Wishy Washy. Remember that big down on one knee production he performed only moments earlier. Well, let's just say he changed his mind. He was having second thoughts. His feelings had changed. He wasn't certain anymore. He was confused. He was blah, blah, blah....

The show paused for another commercial break while I slowly slipped into a sugar induced coma. It was those toffee coated pecans that put me over the edge.

The remaining 45 minutes consisted of Mr. Wonderful dumping Girlie Contestant #2 then hookin' up with Girlie Contestant #1. What happened to his oath? What happened to his commitment? What happened to his promise of a lifetime?

Well, let me say that I did wake up VERY tired the next morning and still bothered by the chain of events that I had witnessed on The Bachelor the night before. It bothered me that the words "I love you" are tossed around so easily now a days. What good is an oath if it's broken? How can you trust someone who says "I'll promise you a lifetime of happiness" then changes his mind only days or weeks later? As I pondered all of this, I felt the Lord tug on my heart and say "my promise is forever and my word is never changing". Then the following scripture verse popped into my head.

I'll will never let you down, never will I walk off and leave you. Hebrews 13:5b (The Message)

God is so good! He reminded me that no matter what, He will never leave or forsake his people. We can stand on his word and know that it has staying power. He won't say "I love you" one minute and then change his mind the next. God's words are forever and amen. We can rely and trust in him above all else. He will never walk away from us.

As for Girlie Contestant # 1 and Mr. Wishy Washy, who knows what will happen next. As for me, I've got my Mr. Wonderful. He is the same yesterday, today and forever!