Sunday, July 3, 2011


Admittedly, I'm not a dog person. I don't dislike them; I can even see how so many of you think they are so adorable. But I would definitely not be considered a dog lover, which is why I was surprised yesterday to find myself so endeared to a particular pup that the Lord really spoke loud and clear to me through. And no, I'm not going the same direction as the story of Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22. Different kind of speaking here.

Meet Kat the dog. That's right, Kat the dog. Kat's owners have known my friend Erin for years, and while they were out of town this weekend, Erin had me and some others over to enjoy Kat's pool in this triple digit heat. As you can see, Kat has a slobbery death grip on a blue toy that she tried to drop in my lap more times than I care to remember. I think some dogs have a sixth sense that I'm not crazy about them so they seek me out to play more than other people. It's really uncanny.

Despite my inclinations to run from doggy drool, yesterday I decided to indulge Kat's penchant to play fetch. But there was one problem. Remember the slobbery death grip on the toy I mentioned? And can you see from the picture how Kat is straining to keep it in her custody? It can be quite challenging to play fetch with a dog that doesn't want to lose control of their prized possession.

Uh-oh. I think I'm making a connection here. Over the years, I've gained a lot of head knowledge about Who should be sovereign in my life. Who I need to trust with my little blue toys. With everything. I repeat through prayer and in time with others that I am "laying it all down at the foot of the cross." I'm not even sure what that even means as there hasn't been very much tangible evidence that I believe it is OK to do so. 

Plain and simple, I am a control freak. I don't want God to have my little blue toys because I fear what He'll do with them. So we play tug-of-war back and forth. And when I make life about my stuff, plans, or goals, I miss the point all together. There is no fear in life when we strive to know Him and make Him known instead of getting stuck in the minutiae of decisions and belongings. But that may be a whole other blog post...

"Here you go", I say as I pretend I'm laying my hopes, dreams, and possessions down at His feet. "Do as you will with all that I have." But I often don't relinquish control even when those words are on my lips. Kat refused to let go of her toy, yet she still strangely stuck by my side with it as if to say, "I think I want you to have this so you can use it in a way that will make me have more fun, but I'm not sure I fully trust you. So I'll just hold onto it while you stand by. Let's just pretend that we're playing fetch."

I'm reminded of the rich young ruler in the Gospels. He was sad when Jesus told him to sell all he had. I get sad too when I think of what Luke 9:23 really means. But that is so messed up in light of eternity. I have this transactional view of God; if I come to Him and halfway give Him all I have (which, by definition, is impossible), I think that He will somehow honor the fact that I'm going through the motions, trusting Him with my salvation but not my time on earth.

Yesterday, Kat finally opened her mouth to disengage it from the toy and allow me control of it. When I threw it across the yard, that silly black dog had so much more elation in it than she did in the miserable time that she spent trying to keep it from me. When she gave up, she gave into life and joy.

I have spent so much unnecessary energy holding onto that which is meant to be in my Creator's hands. Thank you, sweet Kat, for holding up a mirror and allowing me to see myself as the inevitable loser in this tug-of-war battle.

Releasing my death grip one day at a time.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Everybody needs a hero, right?  More often than not, we look to the super stars; those who are grace the covers of Sports Illustrated, Time, or the front page of the newspaper.  Growing up in gymnastics, I originally idolized girls like Kim Zmeskal, Dominique Moceanu, Dominique Dawes, and Shannon Miller.  They were richer, more famous, and more talented than I was at such a young age.

The older I get, however, the more I look up to those who seem to be beneath me from a worldly perspective.  Most recently, I have found significant encouragement from a group of young men who have hardly left one of the smallest, most poverty-stricken countries of the world and have been physically disabled beyond what I can imagine.

While visiting Haiti last month, you may know that we got the privilege of meeting a soccer team full of amputees (3 of which lost limbs in the January 2010 earthquake).  They were staying near us at the Mission of Hope complex, and our team was astounded as we watched them practice and go through some soccer drills one of the first days we were there.  Near the end of the week, we got the opportunity to greet them in person and scrimmage the team.  Us, a group of rag tag North Americans who had minimal soccer skills (well, at least I have minimal soccer skills), and them, facing the challenge of playing with one-legged on crutches (fielders) or with one hand (goalies).

Two weeks ago, our amputee soccer friends traveled to America to train for the Amputee World Cup, to which they had been graciously given an automatic entry, at the facilities of a professional soccer team.  To our great surprise but I'm certain not coincidentally, they were here in the Dallas area using FC Dallas's equipment and field in Frisco.  Once again, we had the honor of spending time with these men.  We heard their stories, laughed a ton over some rice and beans at Watermark, and got to share our love for these friends at The Porch one Tuesday night.  They, too, were astounded to see the same group of Americans they had played against in Haiti in our natural environment, but we looked at pictures together and remembered the time of fellowship we had kicking around a soccer ball.

Last week, the team was in Argentina playing in the World Cup.  Though I sadly don't believe they have gotten the upper hand in a game down there yet, they have encouraged all they have come across and served as a beacon of hope from a dark place.  We got an email last week from an American who is traveling with them, and he signed off with this:  "Haiti- the basket case of the world is becoming the showcase of servant leadership for the high and mighty of this world!  Praise God!"

I keep that email and some pictures printed off at my desk to remind me of where true greatness is found.  Not in magazine covers or championship rings.  Not in Grammys or Academy Awards.  But the humility using your circumstances or plight in this life to glorify Jesus.  Amen to these precious children of His.  Some pictures are below, and while I have the floor, let me also encourage you to check out my friend Suzanne's blog, as she is fabulous with a camera and has recently posted dozens of shots to  Check them out!  You can also find out more about Haiti's amputee soccer team, and other athletic opportunities for those with disabilities/physical challenges at

Pic after our scrimmage in Haiti
Taken at Watermark when the team was in Dallas