Jackson Five Friday: Doing the Work

Last weekend my son, Will, swam in a Junior Olympic meet.  It is a regional meet and you have to have a pretty speedy time to qualify.  One of the great things about this type of meet is that you get to swim against super fast kids which seems to make everybody swim even faster.  Will dropped significant time in every event — like most of the swimmers there.  He puts a lot of work into swimming and it is awesome to see it pay off.

On Saturday when we got home from the meet we, of course, watched some basketball games and studied our brackets.  Indiana squeaked one out against VCU, and the Indiana coach, Tom Crean, commented afterwards, “God gives us the tools and the courage but it is our responsibility to do the work.”   I made my husband rewind about five times so I could make sure I had it written down correctly.

How very apt and timely.  God has given my son the tools and courage for swimming.  Individual sports with zero subjectivity are stressful almost by definition, and it does take courage.  But no one can make him do the work.  I can take him to practice.  I can tell him that he’s been given the tools.  But working hard is 100% up to him.  Fortunately, that’s all he does.  He works hard at pretty much everything.  He’s a lot like his dad.

But he’s not our only child.   Geez oh pete’s Nate has been given a lot of tools and a lot of courage too.  He’s big and strong and coordinated.  He’s smart and eloquent too.  But doing the work?  I guess not all our children could escape my DNA, because Nate is a guy who looks for shortcuts.  The other day when he was asked to clean his room he stuffed dirty laundry into the drawers on top of clean clothes.  And this is not the first time this disgusting little maneuver has been tried.  Then yesterday when his homework included reading and illustrating a story which included specific instructions not to use stick figures, he added rectangles for the bodies and said, “those are not stick figures!”

But I have no idea how to change him.  I have no idea how to change me either.  Yet I don’t want to think that underachievers like us are doomed to mediocrity.  One thing we can do is to speak the truth.  I will not affirm his half-hearted efforts, and I’m married to someone who holds me accountable too (what a difference Will has made in my life; God knew I couldn’t marry someone like me and be a productive member of society).   I so value Will’s willingness to be forthright.  I recently had him read an article I was working on.  He told me he didn’t like it.  Few people will be so direct.  But we all need them in our lives, especially those of us who are prone to shortcuts and stick figures.

Another thing that people like Nate and me can do is to remember Paul’s admonition in Colossians 3:17 , “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  And just in case we are hard-headed, which we are, Paul restates it just a few verses later in 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Now that puts it in perspective.  Whatever we do.  Whatever.  Everything.  Word or Deed.  All for Him, giving thanks.

So what has God given you the tools and the courage to do?  And are you doing the work?  Most importantly, are you doing it for His glory and giving thanks along the way?

Jackson Five Friday: Praying Friends, Get Some

Pixar movies are quoted in our house on an almost daily basis, but certainly Toy Story is a classic revered by pretty much everyone.  So surely you remember when Woody implores the toys about moving buddies, “If you don’t have one, GET ONE!”

Well, that’s what I’ve been thinking about today with regard to praying friends.  If you don’t have some, GET SOME!  Because this week hasn’t been the best.  Each member of the Jackson Five has been fighting minor illnesses.  Our schedule has been particularly crazy, our house in Florida has a leaky roof and the dishwasher is broken again, my brother had a health scare, and my husband, who is almost always upbeat, had a terrible day at work on Tuesday.  If we had pets, surely their heads would be falling off!  In the grand scheme, little things.  Yet self-pity crept at the door.

How wonderful it is that Will and I have praying friends, praying friends who are funny to boot.

Will texted our good friend, Michael (a seminary student), to ask him to pray about work.  This is what he got in return.

“Yes.  Of course.  My phone crashed.  I have lost my entire phone book.  I’m sorry who is this?  Call if youd like. I’m just doing homework.”

This cracked me up and lifted my spirits higher than any other possible text.

Then I talked to my friend Emilie and in about 120 seconds unloaded upon her shoulders almost every little grievance that I’ve had this week.  I said, “I feel like screw it.  We should just move back to Florida.”

She looked me in the eye, with great conviction and somehow great humor too, and said, “That is a lie straight from the Devil!”

Then that afternoon she texted me to tell me she was praying for me.  What a comfort to know that even in little things, I have friends who lift up the concerns of my heart.

Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

So who is helping you carry the concerns of your heart?  Who is helping you fulfill the law of Christ?