November 25, 2014

10 Places You Should Do Christmas Shopping Before Going To WalMart

I think Christmas gifts are overrated. (I will save that sermon for another day.)

But…I do not think that things like helping people in need or aiding sustainability in poor countries or supporting awesome things like adoption and work-from-home-moms and missionaries are overrated. So while you are Christmas shopping, why not support a few good causes along the way? Why not allow your money to kill two birds with one stone: to check one person off your shopping list while also doing something cool like filling a hungry belly?

This list is small. There are most definitely other great causes to give your money to this Christmas (and all year long). These are just a few places we have either shopped at before, or have personal connections to through people we know. No, we can’t support every great mission out there, because there are too many. But one. We can each support at least one this Christmas.

I added a few at the end where you can give money to in lieu of buying gifts at all, because again, spending money on ourselves or on those people we have no idea what to buy for, or on those people who already have everything – which is most of us – is silly.

(Also, you are allowed to take my ranting on Christmas gifts with a grain of salt as I am not a love language “gifts” person. At all. And Christmas is not about being a hater.) 

Places to Shop for Gifts:

1) Noonday Collection

What you’ll find: an assortment of super duper stylish jewelry, bags, scarves, headbands, belts, and home accessories. I mean, so super duper stylish that this stuff could be sold at the Loft. (***Cough, cough, Mom, Amber, Becky, Mackenzy, Madi, Savannah and all other Loft Lovers.)

Who it helps: Both men and women artisans in poor countries such as Guatemala, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Vietnam, as well as families looking to adopt.


Their Mission (as stated on their website): Noonday Collection's mission is to create economic opportunity for the vulnerable. We partner with artisans in the developing world, empowering them to grow sustainable businesses. By creating a marketplace for their goods, we create dignified jobs at living wages. This allows our artisans to earn more in order to support their families. We also offer no interest loans and make advance payments on orders. This way we are able to shoulder the costs of materials and build a lasting relationship based on trust. We offer scholarship programs and emergency assistance. Noonday Collection also donates a portion of sales from adoption trunk shows to place orphans in forever families.

***Make sure to use the link listed above to support my dear friend, stay-at-home-mom, and Noonday Ambassador, Shari Meyering!


What you’ll find: Everything. Who doesn’t shop Amazon during the holidays? This is probably the coolest thing I have heard a major company doing in awhile. All you do is click the link above, shop what you normally shop for on Amazon, and a part of the money you spend on Amazon goes to a great cause. It does not cost you any extra money!

Who it helps: There are many “tiny URLs” you can shop through for a variety of causes. This specific tiny URL is for our dear friends John and Laura Edwards who are in the process of adopting a baby from Uganda. How cool is that? You do your normal Amazon shopping, and a wonderful couple is just a tiny bit closer to raising the funds necessary to bring home their child!

3) Because of Hope

What you’ll find: jewelry sets, necklaces, bracelets, apparel, bags, totes, nativity set, car decal, (and in lieu of gifts, the opportunity to provide education for one child in Uganda.)

Who it helps: Widows and orphans in Uganda (cough, cough James 1:27)


Their mission (as stated on their website): Our mission is to sustainably empower widows and orphans living in Uganda. With every purchase, you provide the opportunity for widows to earn income to support their families. In addition, BOH aims to spread compassionate global awareness within our local communities, uniting people from different continents and cultures with the purpose of generating solutions to the problems that arise from poverty.

***I met Natalie while volunteering at Amani Baby Cottage in Uganda. What her and Because of Hope have been doing since is awesome. You can find a lot of other ways to get involved with BOH on their website.


What you’ll find: Gift Giving - another tiny URL link for Amazon to support Eagle’s Nest through your regular Amazon shopping, and purses, jewelry, books, and bracelets with the Eagle’s Nest name. In Lieu of Gifts - the opportunity to sponsor a child at Eagle’s Nest ($33/month), the opportunity to give the gift of education to a child in need ($550/year).

I love Eagle's Nest. Here is one of our former IAS students helping out at a carnival day for the kids of Eagle's Nest.

Who it helps: Eagle’s Nest is a Children’s Home and Retreat Center in Sololá, Guatemala. They currently care for roughly 50 children. They also run other ministries such as a school for children in the community, a church, a feeding center, as well as house short-term mission groups who come to visit.

***We visited Eagle’s Nest a few times while living in Guatemala, and know many friends who have been on mission trips there as well. Talk about a beautiful, well-rounded, mission in the community of Sololá!

5) Mercy House

What you’ll find: jewelry, bags, apparel, art, the book Rhinestone Jesus (awesome read!), gift boxes.

Who it helps: pregnant teens, single mothers, and women in poverty all over the world

Their mission (as stated on their website): The Mercy House exists to empower and advocate for pregnant teens, single mothers and women in poverty all over the world through awareness, employment and support in the name of Jesus.

***Why? I read the book Rhinestone Jesus and loved it. I think you would like it too.


A few that aren't ministries...but if you're buying these products around Christmastime anyways...

6) Rodan and Fields Skincare Products
www.gracehartmann.myrandf.com

What you’ll find: Everything under the sun in skincare – from teenage acne to grandma’s wrinkles to everything in between.

Who it helps: An awesome, fantastic, hardworking mom trying to put herself through grad school.

***Use the above link to shop under my dear friend, Grace, who is a Rodan and Fields Skincare Consultant

7) Jamberry Nails

What you’ll find: Jamberry nails for women and girls – nail decals/stickers that are a fantastic substitute to nail polish. It lasts up to two weeks, and is totally stylish and adorable. And you will save money if you are a regular mani/pedi person.

Who it helps: My awesome, fantastic, hardworking sister-in-law who decided to sell Jamberry Nails.

***Use the above link to shop under Becky’s name as a consultant.



People to Donate to in Lieu of Gift Giving:
(Because honestly, the people we give gifts to in our family do not need everything we get them for Christmas, (and samesies for the gifts we receive.) Why not surprise them with an empty box and instead support people who could actually use our money for a good cause? ;)

8) Gospel for Asia

What you’ll find: Rather than buying gifts for ourselves, you can purchase tools for missionaries and help empower the poor – everything from bicycles to chickens. It’s crazy.

Who it helps: Missionaries among unreached people groups and the poor in areas where the Gospel has not yet been shared.

Their Mission (as stated on their website): Our ministry is about changing lives—both for this life and for eternity. We are committed as a family of believers to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with lost men, women and children throughout South Asia who have still not heard His precious name. We rejoice to see the mighty works of God as individual lives are transformed and whole villages experience the love of Christ. We join our hearts to be the hands and feet of Jesus, for such a time as this. Together, by His Spirit, we can reach this generation. "'Not by might - nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts." — Zechariah 4:6

9) InnerCHANGE

What you’ll find: Support our personal missionary friends in Guatemala! They do beautiful work as they live and work among the poor youth and women in prison in Guatemala. We firmly believe in and love the mission of InnerCHANGE.

Nate & Jenny Bacon – 4461-00
German &Karla Avila – 3181-00
Julio & Melanie Avila – 7431-00


(From the InnerCHANGE website): InnerCHANGE aims to catalyze authentic movements of God’s kingdom among the poor, models holistic ministry for the mainstream Church, and recalls the broader body of Christ to God’s tender heart for the marginalized. Our members seek to exemplify a style of community life befitting an order, placing the well-being of people and the quality of their relationships before programs. InnerCHANGE purposefully attends to the lifelong formation and development of those called to share themselves with the needy.


***Follow the link above and use the Fund Number code listed next to the three names to donate to our missionary friends. You can make a onetime donation or give regularly.

10) Your Church’s Missionaries
Why not bless them with an extra financial gift this Christmas? Why not send a little extra love from home?

Feel free to share this post, pass on the idea to family members, and add the other people and ministries you like to support to this list! Let's allow Christ to do great things with the bounty we have been given! Also, if you are mentioned in this post, feel free to add to or correct any of the information I have here!

Grace and Peace,
Kendra

PS. We have also shopped/supported these before:

Amazima (Kisses from Katie - every Christian teenage girl's hero)

147 Million Orphans
(I am wearing an adorable shirt from there right now.)

November 24, 2014

My “I’m Thankful For” List is Too Long

I know, this is a much different tune than when I talked about "I'm Thankful For" Lists: Mom Edition the other day. But on a holiday like Thanksgiving, I think we are meant to do more than make a list of our riches and stuff our faces with turkey.

Here's why:

At Thanksgiving, I like to make this big long list of things I am thankful for. It becomes, in a sense, all of the “reasons” I think I should be grateful.


But sometimes, I wonder if I have Thanksgiving all wrong. Sometimes, I wonder if my “I’m Thankful For” list is actually too long.

I wonder if instead of writing a list at all, I should be asking myself a few questions instead: “Would I still be thankful if…?”

Would I still be thankful if I was empty-handed?

Would I still be thankful if I didn't get everything I wanted?

Would I still be thankful if I made my “I’m Thankful For” list, and God said to me: “I’m going to allow these things to be taken out of your life now.”

Honestly, I don’t know.

I think of Job, the man who had everything: family, health, and wealth. I think of the same man, Job, who had everything stripped away from him: family, health, and wealth.

Yet he still chose to say: Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.

And I wonder, could I stand alongside Job, “naked” of all my earthly possessions and treasures and relationships – and still say, May the name of the Lord be praised?

I think of Ruth, the Moabite woman who married an Israelite. I think of the same woman, Ruth, whose husband was taken from her so young.

And yet she chose to follow her widowed mother-in-law to a foreign land and say: Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

And I wonder, could I stand alongside Ruth, filled with grief – and still proclaim my faithfulness to God saying, Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay?

I think of Paul, who in every respect of being a Hebrew had the right to boast: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church, as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

And yet he chose to give it all up and say: But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him.

Could I stand alongside Paul, with every reason for “confidence” (whether it is in my upbringing or current circumstances or my “I’m Thankful For” list) and still say: I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him?

I think of our friends Pablino and Victoria in Guatemala, who can be defined by the word “poor” in every respect. Yet they chose to say “Thank you” whenever we visited, and gave us a few eggs out of their poverty for us to take home, and found joy even in their tin shack.

What about when they have bad health and a son who is an alcoholic and no social-security to provide for them? What about when they don’t have a turkey and green bean casserole and strawberry-pretzel-jello dessert sitting on their table even once during the course of a year? What if they have almost none of the stuff I put on my “I’m Thankful For” list?

Because even when their eyes look dead minus the tears flowing out from them, I have heard their lips utter through their pain, Praise God for His surpassing greatness.

What do they have to be thankful for? Are they still even required to be thankful?

I think about the original holiday, and wonder what if the Pilgrims had only harsh winter and no harvest, only the remains of their ships and no cabins, only contagious disease and no healing? Would they have still celebrated the first Thanksgiving?

Would they have still stood and said, Blessed be the name of the Lord?

What if I am just trying to dig deep into my own heart to ask myself this:

Is Christ really enough for me?

What if He was the only thing I had to write down on my “I’m Thankful For” list?

Is He enough for me to say, “I am thankful?”

Is He enough for me that even if my “I’m Thankful For” list was taken away, I could still stand and sing, All of You is more than enough for, all of me, for every thirst and every need? You satisfy me with your love, and all I have in you is more than enough?


Honestly, I don’t know.

It’s easy for me to say “I am blessed” and “I am thankful” when life is peachy and things seem to be going my way. I have been given so many gifts. But these gifts could just as easily be taken away.

Would I still be thankful?

What if I don’t get everything I want in life? What if my future dreams and wishes (as a mom, as a wife, as a professional) don’t pan out?

What if?

Could I still say, I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want?

Can I honestly say that all else aside, Christ is the only real “reason” I have to be thankful?

This year for Thanksgiving, in this land flowing with milk and honey and every other luxury I desire and consume simply because I can afford to; in this land where it is tempting to think “I am thankful because I have so much stuff,” or that “I am thankful because it could be worse,” I want to shorten my “I’m Thankful For” list. I want to ask myself this:

Is Christ enough for me to be thankful for?

Grace and Peace,

Kendra

November 23, 2014

Moms, Let's Spice Up "I'm Thankful For" Share Time

It's not that I'm not grateful for things like:

- Family
- Friends
- Home
- Food
- Water
- Clothes
- Etc., 
- Blah, blah, blah
- Boring

Obviously this "I'm Thankful For" list is super clichéd for a reason. But I think we need to spice up our Thanksgiving church service and family dinner "I'm Thankful For" Share Time.

Today, I'm putting this responsibility on those women who get third place on their child's "I'm Thankful For" lists behind Legos and Daddy: Moms. (Because you, mother of your children, could probably use a few more responsibilities in your life. Obviously.)

As moms, we know that our "I'm Thankful For" lists have changed since entering Mommyhood. We know there are a few things that we really like having around, and would miss greatly if they left us. And we know that that we could really spice up the Thanksgiving dinner conversation if we just shared what our hearts are truly thankful for.

To help moms out, I created a short list of seventeen ideas here. Complete with pictures. Feel free to use any of these at your next Thanksgiving "I'm Thankful For" Share Time. (You don't even have to site this blog article to avoid a lengthy copyright lawsuit or anything.)

So here it is: My "I'm Thankful For" List: Mom Edition. (In ABC order. Obviously)

1. Bananas. Because in Babyland, they could be their own food group. (In the largest group at the bottom of the food pyramid.)

2. Blankie. Blankie is to Baby as what a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream is to Mommy. There are times when even a mother's comfort can't satisfy. Who do we turn to? Blankie: the real Ghost-Buster.

3. Books. Even this horribly messy pile that was pulled off of the shelf right here. Because books are my ticket to "Snuggle Town," which we make fewer and fewer trips to as Miss Wriggle Worm gets older. 

4. Boxes. No, not toys. The big old boxes and bins we keep toys in. Toys don't offer hours of entertainment; completely emptying the box that toys live in and then sitting inside of it does.

5. Cereal and Chips. Better stated: the sound that opening a box of cereal or a bag of chips makes. Because when my Snack Buddy (a.k.a. Baby) hears that heavenly sound, she comes running with her hands in the air, laughing, and yelling "Tease!" (a.k.a. "Please!") in an obnoxiously high-pitched voice.

6. Cheeks. Squishy, Baby cheeks. (Or as her grandma appropriate calls them: kissing pillows.) I just want to squeeze them and kiss them all freaking day long.

7. Couch Cushions. Especially ones that can be taken out of the couch. Related to toy boxes, removable couch cushions offer hours of exciting and (usually) safe entertainment.

8. Double Chins. I just love double chins. And camera angles that accentuate them.

9. Gangsta Glasses. No explanation necessary.

10. Hug Attacks. There comes this point in the day called "Late Afternoon" when I am so over it. But finally, the door opens, and Husband walks in. And then I watch this brilliantly orchestrated scene where Baby hug attacks Husband, they sit down on the floor, and they read a book together. And I feel this feeling called "Relief."

11. Miniature Replicas of Things. (Like this mini rocking chair.) Because everything is cuter when it mini-sized. And because someday Baby will grow up and realize there is no way she can avoid the ways in which she is a miniature replica of her parents in more ways than one. (Sucker.)

12. Reminders that sometimes no matter how hard you try to be a great mom, your kid might still trip on the sidewalk and get a big 'ole scrape on her face. (Trying to be a good mom = attempting to put Baby's hood on during a cold afternoon outside. Consequence = making her lose her balance and literally fall flat on her face.)

13. Sharing. When Baby throws a tantrum on the floor because she wants to keep all of the toys to herself, but then later passes out Wheat Thin Crackers like she is the boy with two fish and five loaves of bread - there is something inside of me that feels the feeling called "Hope."

14. Tea. Not the chamomile kind that requires at least four lumps of sugar to actually drink it. The pretend kind that I sip and share with Baby Girl almost every day with wooden crumpets. I call this "Bonding Time." (We have solved all the world's problems over many a Pretend Tea and Wooden Crumpets.)

15. Toothbrushes. Better stated: Toothbrushes that get put back in the correct drawer rather than being thrown behind the toilet or under the entertainment center. Because the other day, Baby put her toothbrush back all by herself, and I could have shed a tear. Our little robot is growing up.

16. Well-hidden Feminine Hygiene Pads. Babies have a knack for finding things they aren't supposed to. And it's hilarious. Our baby has an unhealthy obsession with the box of these in our bathroom cupboard. She either uses them to wipe down our walls, to hide them in mysterious places (like under the oven in this picture,) or to toss them carelessly to the side like a billionaire floating hundred dollar bills. I laugh every time I find one.

17. Wet Wipes. There is absolutely no mom on the face of this earth who needs me to explain this one. 


Here's to spicing up Thanksgiving "I'm Thankful For" Share Time. Feel free to add your own ideas to this list.

Grace and Peace,
Kendra

November 20, 2014

6 Splendid and Totally Free Gifts Husband Can Give Their Stay-At-Home-Wife (Anytime of Year)

Dear Husbands whose wives stay home with the fruit(s) of their loins all day:

These “gifts” have the potential to bless your wife all year round, not just at Christmas time. These gifts keep "Mom Brain" and "the crazies" at bay. These gifts are the kind that keep on giving. Wifee won't be disappointed.



1. Five minutes peace. (Okay, ten to twenty minutes peace might be a little more effective.) But this might mean letting your wife hole up in your bedroom with a book or in a hot bubble bath while you take care of Baby during fussy evening time. This might mean offering to make dinner or do the dishes or a load of laundry. This might mean taking Children completely out of the house to some unknown location. Some wives (like me) are homebodies and don’t even need to get out of the house as much as they just crave some peace and quiet. I mean, how often do moms get to enjoy some time in her own home when there are no people and no noise and no messes? Not often. Seriously, just take the child(ren) anywhere. The grocery store, McDonald’s, the park, the garage. As long as they come back alive and in one piece, what happens with Daddy, stays with Daddy.


2. Prayer. I recently wrote about how important it is to pray together as a couple. Husbands, it is just as important to remember your wife in your personal prayers too. Praying for the members of your family – especially your helpmeet – is a vital task as the spiritual leader of your home. Keep her on your prayer list constantly. Most husbands know from those random “Just Daddy” days that taking care of children all day is draining, and takes an extra dose of patience. Pray that she will maintain joy in what is a blessed, but tiring task. Pray that Christ will give her strength as she spends time with His littlest disciples and sets a godly example for them to follow.


3. Give her a reason to dress up. (Every once in awhile, at least.) As a young married couple, we understand how funds are tight. But who says you can’t get fancy for a nice, free walk downtown to look at the sites? Remind her of your dating days, when you made the effort to plan dinner and an activity together, and she made the effort to totally knock your socks off with a little make-up and hair straightening. It’s the little things like this that remind her, she is not just your housewife or the mother of your child, she is still your hot girlfriend who you could barely keep your hands off way back when…and still today. (Oh, and an extra tip, don’t forget to actually say the words out loud, “You look beautiful.” Don’t make me explain the reasoning behind this, because women often can’t be reasoned with. Just trust me.)


4. Greet her with a kiss after work. Every day. (I actually think this is my job as a wife, but if both Husband and Wife are putting forth effort, it makes it even more likely to happen.) Even when her hair is disheveled, her face is greasy, and her breath most definitely smells like goldfish crackers, this is one of the kindest gestures you can offer your wife each day when you walk through the door after work. It tells her you don’t just love her, but you actually kind of like her too. That maybe you even missed her a little bit while you were gone.


5. A hobby. Women need hobbies just as much as men do. A hobby reminds her, again, that she is not just a wife or a mother, but that she is a unique individual with her own personality and gifts. I love to write. I love to play volleyball. These keep both my mind and body active. These remind me that I am also a thinker and a friend and a teammate. These breathe life into long days and sometimes monotonous weeks. Encourage her in her hobbies and “extra-curricular” interests.


6. Tell her she is doing a good job. It was a hard decision for me to stay home and give up teaching when our baby was born. Even though I always knew I wanted to stay home if it was financially possible, and that for our family it was the right thing to do, it was still difficult when it actually came time to make the decision. I don’t regret it, and know I never will, but there are a few things that Husbands can say that absolutely encourage the mother of his children (whether she works at or outside of the home): “You made the right decision. Thank you for sacrificing for our family. You are doing a great job. You are a great wife and mom.” What support. What kindness. What joy you can bestow upon your wife.


Husbands, hopefully you aren’t bummed to not find more concrete Christmas gift ideas here. (Although turning these ideas into carefully crafted, handmade coupons for your wife just might get you nominated for “Husband of the Year” award.)

And Dear Husbands, we as wives know that you work really hard, and that you don’t have a lot of energy at the end of the day either. We thank you for the opportunity and blessing that it is to be able to stay home with your child(ren) because you are willing to work so hard. And we thank you in advance for these areas of extra effort that you can bless us with that in turn fill our “love tanks” with warm fuzzies.

Husband, you are the bomb.

Grace and Peace,
Kendra

November 17, 2014

A Case of Mom Brain

What do I do all day? You mean, besides watch soaps and eat Bonbons? 

I also suffer from Mom Brain.

Welcome to a case of Mom Brain, the time where a mom's brain goes a little mushy. (Although Mom Brain can be a symptom of the disease called "Too Much Time Spent At Home With Little to No Adult Contact," Mom Brain also keeps the job interesting.)

Here are a few random Mom Brain Thoughts for a random Monday morning. In random Mom Brain order:

1. Sunday used to be a day of rest. Now it is the day of messed up nap schedules and getting called back to the nursery to get your screaming child before God’s greeting.



2. The other day I actually typed the word “insalting.” As in, “That is downright insalting.” (Said the peanut?)


3. One day, a mom took her one year old for a walk. Her one year old stepped on a crack and tripped. The mom practically broke her back trying to catch the child before she fell. Hence, "If you step on a crack, you break your mama's back."


4. I am officially old. And out of the loop. And not cool. I had to Google “Alex from Target” and “being handed the Aux cord.” I just can't keep up.



5. I have found the secret to doing chores in half the time. And by “half the time,” I actually mean “double the time.” It’s called, “Let Baby Help.” But, "train up a child in the way she should go." So that she will love Jesus. And also so that she will move out of the house as a responsible adult someday.



6. At Target awhile back there was a mom and her daughter shuffling out to their car. The daughter was crying. “Well, I guess next time we won’t wear our princess shoes to Target, now will we?” Mom – 1, Princess Shoes – 0.


7. Look what Baby taught Daddy and Mommy! Yeah! Good job!


8. "The Little Engine That Thinks She Can Read and Write, Even Though She Really Can't, But Mommy and Daddy Don't Have the Heart to Tell Her." It's an awesome read.

 

 9. Allow me to introduce you to my daughter, Sybil, and her personalities Stinker, Weirdo, Happy, and Stone Faced. Mama always said, "Parenting is like a box of chocolates, you never know which personality you're gonna get."


10. Someone is stuck in the glory days. "Let it go. Leg it go. Can't fit in there anymore..."


11. I just watched the kid's show, "Prison Break." Teddy was mistakenly charged with being too lovable. He just couldn't take all of the squishy hugs anymore.



12. Does this diaper and these leggings make my butt look big? Or saggy? Or perfectly "w" shaped?


13. I just looked it up. I have heard a cry from this face every day (minus one week of glorious vacation) for 470 days, 15 hours, 26 minutes, and something seconds.


14. I am trying to figure out why it is socially acceptable for one-year-old children to speak Greek and stumble around in a naked, drunken stupor all day long.

 

15. I swear she has more friends than I do.

 

16. Our weekend was crazy. We did some extreme stunting and stayed up until 9:30 p.m. So yeah, I'd say parenting is one adrenaline rush after another.

 

Grace and Peace and Happy Parenting,
Kendra

PS. I really hope I am not the only one who suffers from Mom Brain. Feel free to share your Mom Brain Thoughts. :)

November 13, 2014

When Christian Fans Forget They Represent Christ

I get it.

I have been on the court playing a few different sports back in my own glory days. I get that we want so badly to experience the thrill of victory over the pain of defeat. I get that sometimes our Mama Bears and Papa Grizzlies get angry when the game is going poorly, and when those fans from the other team just won’t let it go.

Competition – although I love it – can bring out the worst in people. Myself included.

Some of my favorite memories growing up.
Also proof of how life moves on after the glory days of sports.
What is truly lasting?

But sadly, we as Christian adults, as Christian parents, as Christian fans often forget: As a Christian community, we represent Christ.

Or at least, we are supposed to.

I get it. Those “other fans” from those “other teams” can be the worst. They say things like “Jesus loves us for free” (this is a favorite at those public vs. private school games) and “Score board” (generally used when their team is winning) and “You can’t do that” (often used to rub our player’s mistake in their face). Some schools even use cheers that I’m not able to spell without using a few dashes.

Or, have you ever been at a game where your team lost and the opponent’s fans sing “Na-Na-Na-Na, Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye” in Remember the Titans fashion? Ouch.

I know it makes players and parents angry. It feels so good to win. It hurts so bad to lose.

At one game, while the opponents sang us out of the gym after a loss, I heard one parent say, “I would expect no less.”

It’s true: they are young kids who we just wish would be quiet. It’s true: we all wish the other team had lost. We all wish we won…and maybe got to rub it in their faces. It’s true: We might “expect no less” from our opposing team and fans and parents.

But we,  as a Christian school, a Christian community, a group of Christian adults, should expect so much more of ourselves.

I have seen moms standing up in the middle of a group of Christian school parents taunting the opposing students with the “Score board” cheer as we made a slow comeback. One student yelled back at her, “You’re an adult! I’m just a student! I’m allowed to be stupid!” Something to that affect.

I have seen a parent harass the refs as they walked out of the school as one yelled back at him to “get away from her.”

And I wonder, where is Christ in all of this? How can we forget that in all that we do, we are supposed to be a representation of Him? How can we forget that we are supposed to be His light in this dark, dark world? How can we forget that if we aren’t His light, we are only contributing to the darkness?

It breaks my heart: the lack of class we as Christian adults, parents, and fans choose to display. It breaks my heart that as a crowd of Christian education supporters, there are times that we in no way represent Christ. It breaks my heart that even though I may not contribute to this ridiculous behavior, that I also don’t choose to have courage to kindly ask these parents to stop.

Like I said, I have been there before. As a product of 100% Christian education from birth through college through my first teaching job, I know that I have also participated in bad sportsmanship, in misrepresenting Christ’s name. And I know that sometimes there can be just a few bad apples in a genuinely classy, Christ-loving crowd of parents too.

But seriously, this has got to stop.

It doesn’t matter who we play, a public or a Christian school. It doesn’t matter how classy or shady or ridiculing the other fans are. This misrepresentation of Christ and Christian education has got to stop.

I know it’s not easy. Again, competition does not always bring out our best.

But what matters is how we choose to represent Christ. What matters, is that as Christian parents we set an example for our children.

I feel like many apologies need to be made.

I want to apologize to the schools we as Christian communities have played in the past who have witnessed Christ’s misrepresentation. What you saw is not Christianity. (And I’m glad Jesus loves you for free too. He’s pretty great that way.) Although I feel like so much damage has been done, please don’t let our lack of class smother your view of the freely-loving Christ whom we claim to follow.

I want to apologize to our own teams and our own student sections. We as parents sometimes forget to set an example for you to follow. Sometimes, we only teach you that it’s okay to ridicule and taunt and let our anger get the best of us in the heat of the battle. Children of Christ, be better than that.

I want to apologize to our own crowds of Christians for not taking a stand sooner, and for not kindly asking the bad apple parents to stop harassing the opposing students and refs. We might not participate in this ugly behavior, but taking no action can be just as bad as participating in the action.

I want to apologize most of all, to our Savior, whose name often gets smothered with darkness in the name of competition and sports and “winning.” We wear “Christian” on our t-shirts so well, but there are times we absolutely fail at displaying Your name on our hearts and in our actions. Please forgive us, and help us do better next time.

Grace and Peace,

Kendra