Thursday, April 24, 2014

Focus on the Fence

I was watching a high school tennis match the other day and thought I’d snap a photo of the action going on behind the fence. There were powerful serves, spinning returns and flying lobs only to be slammed just slightly over the net. It reminded me of the sweaty fun I used to have playing the sport in high school. Instead of focusing on the tennis game, however, my camera’s automatic setting gave me this photo instead.

What? Focused on the fence, not on the fun?

It’s how I pray more than I care to admit. Instead of looking at what God can do, I find myself focusing on the fence, the worries, the things that hem me in.

One of my favorite verses of all times is Psalm 46:11 Be still and know that I am God. I love the variety of meanings embedded in this verse. Sometimes I dwell on the last word—God—and am humbled that He really is in control. Other times, though, I think more about the beginning of the verse—Being Still—because it reminds me to adjust my focus and watch what God is doing.

As the mom of a high school junior, my activities this year include all-things-college. College visits, college research, college scholarship information, college financial aid, college standardized tests, oh, and college admissions application deadlines. No, I am not personally doing all the work (that’s my son’s job) but I find that I try to do all the worrying. I figure I can help God out in taking care of my son. Yikes.

At a recent college visit, we were hustling up the steps of the hundred-year-old building to attend the information session on the second floor. As I rounded the corner to head upstairs, I failed to see the small ledge in front of me. My toes caught the ledge and—Slam! Instantly I landed onto both my knees. Fortunately, I didn’t hit my head on the hardwood railing in front of me, and I was basically unharmed. My knees hurt, though. I shook it off, got up, and continued up the flight of stairs.

Later that evening, it became clear to me that God put me right where He needed me. I was worrying about all the college information, and instead, I needed to be on my knees. My fence-focus went away when I instead focused on what God is doing. It was a good reminder that God has it all (even my kids) under His control, and I can simply enjoy every lob, serve and spinning return I see on the other side of the fence.

Do you focus on the fences, too?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Weighing In

Donating blood. Sounds simple, right? Wrong.

I participated in a blood drive recently. It had been so long since I donated blood, I forgot about all the details involved. All for a few bagsful of blood. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the work done by the medical staff to make sure my blood is safe, but the extent of their efforts humbled me. It reminded me my blood could be life-threatening if they didn’t process it correctly. I prefer to think of my blood as life-giving.

First, there were clinical steps. Blood pressure, check. Finger stick test for something-or-other, check. Temperature. Check. Whew, thankfully I’m passing the test so far.

Next came the many pages of questions regarding my health. The bored technician rattled them off, one at a time, in his monotone rant, until eventually they all sounded the same.

“Do you have, or have you ever had, sickle-cell anemia?”


“Do you have, or have you ever had, cancer?”


To keep myself alert, I started to say a silent prayer with each “No.” It helped.

By the time he got to the bottom of the fourth page, the technician stated (in the same monotone manner),“Have you ever been pregnant?” I automatically said “No,” following my pattern of answers so far. He hesitated, and then asked again, figuring I probably had children, after which I said “Yes.” I guess he was listening to my answers after all.

“Have you ever had malaria?”


“Have you been out of the country in the past six months?”


And then came the worst question of all.

“What do you weigh?”


I hesitated, thought for a minute, subtracted five pounds and gave him my number. I already felt I was being judged, but this kicked it up a notch. A huge notch. I found myself wondering the reason for the question. The others questions made more sense to me, since they have something to do with the quality of my blood. But my weight? Does what I weigh affect the value of my blood? Am I too fat to qualify as a life-giver?

The medical questions were finally finished and I moved to the next station, where I did what I came to do: donate blood.

After donating, I headed to the snack table. Okay, I’ll admit, this is my favorite part. It feels like a little window of pampering, being told to sit and eat a snack. The blood drive was held in a local high school, and as a result the volunteer staff included several high school students. Two teenage girls assisted me by offering snacks and drinks before they went back to their own conversation.

“Did you give blood yet?” one said to the other.

“No, they won’t take me. I want to just tell them I weigh 115 so I can donate. It’s only five pounds.”

So this was why I was asked to give my weight. I needed to weigh in at least 115 to qualify as a donor. Nope, not a problem for me. I haven’t seen 115 pounds since elementary school. However, to hear this girl want to flub her numbers to donate gave me a new appreciation for those five pounds I “automatically” knocked off my weight for the records.

Many times, I let my weight interfere with feeling like a life-giver. When will I recognize I’m perfect just as I am? What a great lesson and reminder that God knew me before I was born, and I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” His Word? Now that’s life-giving.

How about you? Do you ever wonder if you qualify to be a life-giver? Does your weight get in the way of how you feel about yourself?