Thursday, April 26, 2012


I was 8 years old when I started gymnastics.  Mary Lou Retton had just vaulted her way to a household name, and all I wanted to wear were stars and stripes. 

Apparently after watching some girls on the play ground, I taught myself how to do a front handspring and proceeded to do them all up and down the sidewalk at recess every day.  Next thing I know, my mom is signing me up for gymnastics. 

Pretty much from day one at the gym, Jenny and I became the best of friends.  We ate, breathed and slept gymnastics.  I couldn't tell you the color of paint on our walls because they were covered in gymnastics posters.  My dad made me a balance beam.  Jenny got a single rail bar, and the extra space over her garage became our gym away from the gym.  We acquired mats and little trampolines.  And we dreamed.

We had our dream all mapped out.  We would make the 1996 Olympic Team because we would be 18 and that just seemed like a perfect age to go to the Olympics. We would tie for the all-around gold medal in gymnastics because that's just how best friends roll.  And we would get lots and lots of perfect 10's on our way to the top of that podium.

When we're young, the whole world is in front of us and the future is ours to make.  When we're young, we dare to dream big and crazy. When we're young, we attempt to chase those dreams.

In junior high, Jenny decided to move on from gymnastics.  After growing 6 inches in a year and getting very ill, I got real with myself, too.  I was a mediocre gymnast at best.  While I passionately loved the sport, I knew I wasn't going to be the next Mary Lou.  But there was just something burning deep inside that kept pushing.  I tried my hand at several other sports over the next two years but nothing was as exciting as gymnastics had been.

One day my mom ran into an ex-gymnast friend's mom.  She came home and told me that my friend had started this diving thing and was excelling at it.  She thought it would be good for me to at least try it out.

When we walked onto the pool deck, I was sold.  Gymnastics into the water = B-I-N-G-O!  I threw myself into the sport with a vengeance.  It was like something inside of me was being unleashed.  I couldn't get enough of it.  We'd be at the pool for hours, and after workout I just wanted to play around some more.  Then I started having those Olympic dreams again, just in a different sport.

I guess the point of my little story here is that we should never stop dreaming.  No, dreams don't always workout the way you plan them.  I didn't tie for the 1996 Olympic gymnastics gold medal with my best friend.  But sometimes dreams have a way of unfolding in way you could never have imagined.  I did stand on top of the Olympic podium though, four years later on my own in a different sport.  And at that same Olympics, I saw two friends tie for a gold medal in swimming. 

Dream, and dream big.  If it doesn't work out the way you hoped, keep dreaming.  No, sometimes dreams don't come true.  But I'm living proof that sometimes they do.  Sweet dreams my friends; they're worth fighting for.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Am I Willing?

We went to our church, Church Project, on Wednesday night for a prayer and worship service.  At that service we were celebrating today- Good Friday. 

As our pastor was going through the last supper, Judas' betrayal, Jesus being condemned, tortured and led to the cross, the only thought that kept coming to my mind was the word "willing." 

Several years ago at small Bible study we had at our house, one of my good friends made a point that has stuck with me ever since.  We were talking about what Jesus went through leading up to the crucifixion, when my friend made this point...
Jesus was tortured beyond recognition, a beating most don't survive.  Then He carried a super heavy cross on his back in this barely survivable condition.  And He carried that super heavy cross in that barely survivable condition all the way out of the city and up a hill to finally be nailed to it and hung from it.  He wasn't led to His death, He was fighting to get there so He could finish what the Father sent Him to do. 
Jesus was willing.  He was so in agony over what was going to happen he was sweating drops of blood, but He was willing.  He was anxious even to the point of asking God to not make Him go through this, but He was still willing. 

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends."  John 15:12-13
He was willing because He loves us. He was willing because He knew spilling His blood was the only way to completely wipe out our debt of sin. 
"For the wages of sin is death..." Romans 6:23 
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." Romans 3:23
There had to be a death, there had to be a blood payment, to cover our sins, our debt.  Jesus, the one sinless man, the only one not deserving of death, gave His life as payment.  He was willing because He loves us that much.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."  John 3:16-17
He was willing even while we were still His enemies (Romans 5:10), to give His life to save ours.  And not only did He give His life, but He conquered the grave and is now preparing a place for us (John 14:2)!

I've read many stories about martyrs being killed while spreading this life changing news.  But I've never stood face to face with people who are risking their lives on a daily basis because of Christ, until Wednesday night.

We had the opportunity to meet and pray for people who are running a church and spreading the Gospel in Mexico in an area where people are being threatened and killed daily.  Just leaving their homes they risk their lives, and they are going out every day ministering to people all over.  They are willing. 

Lord, help me be willing to love without regard for safety, to love without condition, to love with reckless abandon, to love others as You do.  Lord, help me be willing to spread Your great news next door and to the ends of the earth!  Lord, help me be willing!