Monday, March 23, 2015

Blessings and a financial crisis

I don't have much time, so I'll just leave this little post-it note:

About a month ago, I discovered some tax issues that will end up putting pressure on me financially. I reached out to a friend, who had one response: "Pray."

A month later, the Lord has given me plenty of reminders that He can, does and will continue to provide for my needs -- both financial and otherwise.

First came a freelance opportunity with the NWAC (you can read the results of my weekend), during which I got an email from the sports editor of the Eugene Register Guard asking about freelancing for the upcoming high school tournaments. I mentioned that I'd be back from the NWAC tournament in a few days, and I'd love to help out.

Then God opened another door: The timing worked out that I got to freelance a game at the NWAC tournament, and two more high school games when I returned. With the freelance money and an expense check from February around the corner, I was pretty blown away at the Lord's response.

Now my insurance is going down.

I think it's an important reminder that when we ask, the Lord loves us and cares for us in ways we can't possibly predict. I've noticed over the last few months there have been several things I've wanted and not received, but have only realized after the fact that I wanted but never asked.

Maybe it's a pride thing -- I feel like I should have to bother God about my personal wants and wishes, and would rather chase after them on my own. Maybe it's the opposite, that I don't feel qualified or worthy of asking for things.

Just remember this, John, the next time a door seemingly opens: You are blessed, you are blessed, you are blessed. There's no harm in talking about it with the One who loves you the most.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Deliberate decisions and responsibility

Pardon me if this is a bit of a ramble, but I need to get my thoughts out where I can go over them later. Not having a laptop has seriously limited my abilities since July, but a new machine has re-opened the door for late-night trips to whatever coffee shop will have me.

There's no sense in leaving life up to chance.

Tonight's topic is semantics, more or less. Over the last few months, I've noticed myself referring to my past as "full of mistakes." And that's true, in part. I have made plenty of mistakes. I've gone into plenty of things with good intentions, only to have them come off the rails.

My problem with such thinking is that it takes blame for wrongdoing from my shoulders and puts it on chance. I tried to do the right thing, but simply got caught up.

But I think that's wrong. And I think that's poisonous.

Sure, I've made mistakes. But more often than not, they're not "mistakes." They're decisions. Bad decisions. Deliberately choosing the sinful option isn't a mistake, it's a conscious direction.

It's really interesting to watch kids disobey their parents and feign innocence. I remember doing it in elementary school, and pretending to have not understood the playground rules. If I claimed I was ignorant of the rule, I could get out of the punishment, right?

While that might have worked as a fourth grader in terms of actual consequences, but I'd bet money the playground attendant knew exactly what was going on. I was a handful not worth their time to deal with.

It's easy to scoff at the 10-year-old me now that I'm older, but it's also a little frustrating to realize I haven't broken the habit with age.

The "mistake" vs. decision confusion is the same years later  -- claiming you were misinformed or misguided, instead of admitting to having chosen to do the wrong thing with the full knowledge of what you were doing.

I can't help but wonder if my lack of responsibility for my actions has led to my inability to deal with and let go of things. That's been an issue of mine for as long as I can remember, dating back to that girl in high school or someone -- and I actually thought of this today -- telling me during my senior year that my shirt was too small.

Those things still rest on my mind from time to time. I'm not saying everything negative in my entire life is because of decisions I've made, but learning to take responsibility for the things I have done might allow me to figure out how to let go of hurtful things in my past.

Everybody makes mistakes. We're not perfect beings, and that seems to simply be part of life. BUT that doesn't absolve us -- absolve me -- of responsibility for the choices I make.

Maybe I just need to slow down a little bit. Maybe I just need to listen a little bit more. Maybe I just need to heed the things I hear when I listen. Maybe God has been laying the groundwork for a new way of thinking over the last few weeks with this continued theme.

Whatever happens going forward, I'm glad to be back on the blogging wagon.