Today Was A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there was a figure skater…

I know I’m not alone in saying that Ladies Figure Skating is above and beyond my most favorite Olympic event. It’s the one part of the Olympics I never miss. It has held me spellbound since I was a girl.

Last night I watched as the Ladies Freestyle Program unfolded before my eyes. Every performance was magnificent, but there was one in particular that stirred my heart.

Mao Asada of Japan skated first in the television line up. After a terrible performance in the short program, Asada was in sixteenth place. A silver medalist in the 2010 Olympic games, Asada’s hopes of winning a medal in Sochi were all but lost.

Four minutes on ice stood between Asada and her final chance for Olympic glory.

After making several major mistakes in her short program I watched as Asada fought back tears of defeat while listening to the judges’ scores. Tonight I watched her fight for the performance of a lifetime and when she cried joyful, proud, victorious tears at the end of her program I cried too.

I knew I had just witnessed something amazing, something magical. A glimpse of God and His work in me, His work in all of us.

I am hardly an expert on figure skating, but it seems to me that Asada had a choice to make as she stood in place, poised and ready to skate. She could offer the judges, the audience, the world her skill, her beauty, her passion, or she could crumple beneath the weight of fear, failure, and the pressure cooked voice of her critics.

As the world watched her skate it was clear that despite her fear and failures of the past, despite what the critics might do or say this girl was rising to the occasion, offering her heart and everything within her.

In the end, despite her flawless performance, Asada’s scores were not enough for her to win a medal but I’d like to believe the personal victory she gained from her skate was worth more than gold.

I may not know the glory of a perfectly landed triple axel or a performance that becomes legend but I do know I am faced with a similar choice each and every day.

I can choose to live from the heart, offer my skill, my beauty, my passion or I can choose to run, hide, build walls, shut down, hold tight to fear and failure, fall prey to the critic inside my head.

It’s only when I choose to offer my heart that my own brand of magic is made. It’s when I pick up my pen, cradle my babes, call a friend, or kiss my beloved that my world becomes my rink and glory abounds.

When I choose to offer, He takes my offering and spins His glory every time.

I may not win gold.

I still fall, and trip, and fail.

The critic continues to scoff.

But the real victory is never in the final outcome. The real victory is in all the little coming-outs where I choose to offer my heart and everything within me. Where I choose to rise. Where I choose to turn my back on the fear, the failure, and the critic.

Brave prince, lovely princess, may you wake up this day to the fairy tale found in a figure skater and the performance of a lifetime. May you take this day, this life and offer the world your own skill, and beauty, and passion. May you watch as He takes your offering and makes it shine.

As He makes the heart of you shine like silver ice and golden glory.

A Time to Work (Part One)

My family is going on vacation without me.

This should not come as a surprise. For four consecutive summers my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, two nephews, and niece have packed their bags, loaded their cars and headed for Williamsburg, VA while my husband, my girls and I keep the fort here in Michigan.

It’s not that my family wants to enjoy their vacation without us. Quite the contrary, they would love for us to join them. However, for the past four years, my husband and I have been working hard to get our family business up and running. A vacation, of this magnitude, is simply more than we can afford during this season of our lives.

Let me clarify, a vacation of this magnitude is more than my husband can afford. Williamsburg is fourteen hours away from our home and business. Believe me; if I were to step away, the business would continue to run, just fine, but at this stage, my husband is a one man show. Due to the nature of his work he has to stay close to home, he has to keep things going.

So every year, about this time, I am plagued with the same difficult decision: should I stay or should I go.

Just yesterday, I sent a text to my friend: I’ve decided to stay, that is of course unless I decide to go! Such is the state of my brain for all of July and most of August.

The decision to either stay or go weighs heavy on my heart every year, and this year the tug to go and the struggle to make a decision seem stronger and more difficult than ever.

If I go with my family I am choosing to leave my husband. How can I leave him? How can I let him work and sacrifice, while the rest of us go play? Could I ever truly enjoy a vacation without him by my side?

If I stay home I feel like I’m missing on out on time that is precious to my family, my girls, and me.

As I sort through these questions and weigh my options I am beginning to realize that my struggle to make a decision is not about the vacation. It’s about desire, trust, and a heart divided.

In and of itself, my desire to be a part of my family’s vacation isn’t bad. I long for the beauty and tranquility I find whenever I have a chance to leave my everyday surroundings. I long for time with my mom and dad, my sister and her family. I long to see my girls enjoy playtime their cousins. I want the blessing, the glory, and the peace that this yearly trip to Williamsburg has come to represent.

While speaking with a friend last week the following words flew out of my mouth completely uninhibited, “I’m afraid that if I don’t take advantage of this chance to go, I’ll never get to enjoy this time with my family.”

I’m afraid? I’m afraid. Yes, that’s it, I thought.

I’m afraid to trust God with this desire for blessing, glory, and peace. I’m afraid to trust that my husband and I will ever be able to enjoy a vacation or time with the people we love. I’m afraid that our business will never grow big enough, strong enough, successful enough to support us.

These are my fears. I’m afraid to trust God with each of these things, and this is why the desire to join my family and go to Williamsburg is burning me whole.

Blessing, glory, peace. I don’t know about you, but to me, these three words mean a lot. They are exactly what I long for in a vacation and they are exactly what I struggle to believe God has for my family, for our business, for me.

With these things in mind, I knew that before I could make a decision, I needed to spend time with God. I needed to take my fears and desires to Him and seek His wisdom and truth.

Next week in a Time for Work (Part Two) I will share the amazing things God has shown me through our time together.

In the meantime, what represents blessing, glory, and peace to you? What things do you struggle to trust God with? What difficult decision are you struggling with or what makes your heart divided?

I’d love to hear from you.