Sharing the Gospel with Those You Are Close To

My eyes quickly scanned the email.  I felt my heart begin to beat a bit faster as I digested its words.  I had been selected as a finalist in Good Housekeeping’s Cook Your Heart Out contest.  This meant I would receive an all expense paid trip for two to New York City and would have the opportunity to participate in the final cook-off to win some money.

I was beyond excited.  I called my husband and told him the news.  The prospect of participating in the cook-off was great, but I was really looking forward to getting away with my husband.   I could count on one hand….actually, I could count on one finger, the number of times that we had gone away alone over the course of our twenty years of marriage.   Our children were younger at this point.  New York City was a short drive away.  We could easily get home if need be.   This was simply perfect.

As the time drew near, I received paperwork from Good Housekeeping.  I needed to declare who I would be traveling with.  Then it happened.  My husband looked at me one evening and said,”Kim, I don’t think that I should go with you.  I want you to take Sharon.  I’ve been praying about it, and I really feel led to have her go with you.”

I wish I could tell you that my response was a delightful one, but I questioned, I asked why.  All selfishly.

My husband’s response was not so selfish.  “We’ve been praying for opportunities to share our faith with Sharon.  I think that this is that opportunity.”

Well, he was right.  Sharon is a dear, dear friend to our family.  She is family to us.  We love her like a mom, like a grandmother.  We’ve shared our faith in bits and pieces, but we had prayed that the Lord would give us boldness to share with her further.  Sometimes sharing your faith with the people you are closest to is hard.  It shouldn’t be, but it is.  We don’t want to put a wedge in a dear relationship.  We do not want to offend someone we love.  We do not want to ruin what we have.  I’ll be honest here; I have given all of those false fears the power to hold my words back.

“Yes.  You are right.  I’ll go ask her.”

And I did.  I told her all about the trip, all about the cook-off, all about all of the exciting events that were planned.  Then I asked her if she would like to accompany me.  She didn’t hesitate in saying yes.  So it was settled.

I prayed a lot over the coming weeks before the trip.  I prayed that the Lord would give me boldness to speak, that He would provide the right opportunties, the right segues, at the right time for me to share my heart.  Sharon was not “into religion”.  She had dabbled in Buddhism, was into Kabala when it was en vogue, she believed that God was any god that you wanted him to be.  She did not like to be forced into a religion or put into situations where it was thrust upon her.

Our family’s faith in the Lord was not new news to her.   On many occasions we had shared our faith and our hope with her.  My husband’s words especially have always given her comfort.  There have been times when she has wanted him to come and pray.  But he was not going on this trip.  I was, and I needed to have those fears of offending, alienating, and ruining taken away.

The day finally came.  A shiny black Escalade arrived at my front door to pick us up.  Our luggage was loaded into the back.  My kiddos ran outside, gathered around me, and gave me big hugs and kisses.  Then my husband circled us together on the sidewalk and prayed.  With one last round of goodbye hugs, I was off.

Sharon and I sat in the middle row of seats.  We drove two blocks, no more than sixty seconds, when the driver asked me, “Are you a Christian?  I saw you praying with your family before leaving.”

What?  Wait!  Did he just ask me what I think he asked me?

“Yes, I am.”

“Me, too!,” he said.

And for the next forty five minutes the two of us shared our testimonies.  We shared our journeys.  We spoke of how the Lord opened our eyes, cleansed our sins through His Son’s death, and changed us forever.  Although I was talking to the driver, I was very, very mindful of who was listening on.  The Lord put the words into my mouth, the scripture that needed to be quoted on my tongue, and had ushered in an opportunity to share His plan for salvation so effortlessly.  Not only did Sharon hear my story, but she heard the driver’s as well.

As our driver navigated the streets or New York, the conversation died down.  I sat there is quietness reflecting on how the Lord orchestrated that drive.  He had orchestrated this trip.  He gave the perfect opportunity to share.  He used a pretty weak vessel in me that day to share His plan for salvation.  I sat there in awe.

My weekend in New York was lovely.  I experienced so many wonderful events, met new friends, and cooked my heart out.  I had some wonderful chats with Sharon, and the two of us simply enjoyed this unique weekend together.

Maybe you have that someone in your life that you know needs to hear about your hope in the Lord.  Maybe that someone is a very close friend, a neighbor, or a beloved family member.  Maybe, like me, you have fears and worries.  You do not want to offend them or ruin your relationship with them.  I can assure you that the Lord does want you to share His plan of salvation.  Rest assured, He will provide the right time, the right opportunity, and He will fill your mouth with the words to say.  Pray for opportunities and remember these verses:

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.  So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord…
2 Timothy 1:7-8

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…
Romans 1:16

So do not fear, for I am with you;  do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

 

 

 

Allowing Our Children to Feel the Sting of Losing

Our family is in full-on Olympic mode.

We’ve allotted a bit of time each evening to watch some of the events together as a family.  We recently scrolled through a list of the events, and the boys were shocked to see medal bearing competitions in badminton, trampoline, and ping-pong…I mean table tennis.  We decided to take a quick peek at the table tennis and badminton events.  The boys remarked at how silly they thought these competitions were.

“Why in the world would anyone want to make ping pong so competitive (and funny to watch)?  Look at how serious they are!  Mom, they are sweating…they are sweating playing ping-pong!,” they exclaimed.

This made me chuckle.  This statement was coming from a group of boys that makes even the most mundane activity into a competitive sport.  Like who could throw a frisbee over the roof of the house or who could mow the lawn the fastest or who could register the fastest bike speed on the street’s digital speed limit sign.  Anything and everything usually turns into a competition in my house.

As silly as some of these events may appear to us, it reaffirms to me the competitive spirit that is stored up within each of us.  Whether you are an athlete, a musician, a writer, a hunter, a hiker, a fisherman, an artist, a cook, or an entrepreneur, we are wired to strive.

There is one guarantee in competition:  someone will win, and someone will lose.  There’s no way around it.

When my children were young I noticed an alarming trend beginning.  There were no winners or losers in competition.  Whether you finished first or last, everyone was a winner just for trying.

We live in a “Trophies for Everyone” society.  A society that wants to insulate our youth from the negative feelings associated with losing.  What a great disservice this thinking is doing to our youth.  One of the greatest motivators in life is losing.  Just listen to some of our Olympic athletes talk about how past failures have pushed them to work harder and set new goals.

One day our children will be the adults of the world.  They will experience disappointment and defeat, and no one will be there to give them a ribbon or shiny trophy just for trying.  There will be promotions that slip away.  Quotas that are not met.   Elections that are lost.  The list can go on and on.    They must know how to deal with failure.  They must be taught how to take that loss and use it for the good.

Here are four steps that we have focused on with our boys:

Prepare
Whether you are taking a test or taking part in a competition, you must go into the event prepared.  This requires consistent, dedicated work before the actual event.  Your input directly correlates to your output.  Basically, what you put in is usually what you will get out.

Try Your Best
Whatever you do, give it your all.  Don’t leave anything on the table. Put out your best effort and push yourself.  Win or lose, be happy with what you did.  Most importantly:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
I Corinthians 10:31

Experience
Allow yourself to experience the thrill of victory but do not deny yourself feeling the agony of defeat should that be the outcome.  Be a good sport in winning and losing.  Congratulate others.  Have a moment.  If you need to cry…cry.  If you need to sit quietly…do it.  Allow yourself to process.  When losing comes do not brush it off, do not pretend that it is not there, do not store up your feelings inside.   Deal with it and then let it go.  Use it for motivation.  Use it as inspiration.  Above all else do not let winning or losing define who you are.

Learn
Take time to evaluate.  Is there something that I could have done differently?

These are not revolutionary ideas.  They are common sense ideas.  Don’t get me wrong, instilling these ideas is not always easy.  All of my children react to winning and losing in their own way.  One is a bit too casual, one gets it pretty well, and one, well, let’s just say, we’re still working on it.

My kids have heard me say this over and over again;

If you are going to try to win, you must be willing to lose as well.