The ROOTing of All Evil

It’s here!  It’s here!….it’s finally here!  I’ve waited eight months for it. What am I talking about?  Well, football season, of course!

I’m not your typical chick, nor your typical middle-aged church lady for that matter.  I’m a HUGE football fan and if you take it one step further….I love me my San Francisco 49ers.  I go to as many games as I can find wealthy friends that have tickets, and I watch faithfully every Sunday afternoon.   Since Salsa guy and I are polar opposites he is the one in the kitchen making something yummy and I’m the one planted in front of the TV with my cold beverage and Lil’ Smokies by my side.  If I can’t watch, I record the game and turn off the ESPN updates on my phone and I make my friends and family promise they won’t text me any updates on the game.  That happened once….ugh!

I am sinfully proud of the red and gold, and this time of year I change my Facebook page photo to the one of me with the black under my eyes and my 49er jersey on and my No. 1 Fan finger.

Niner Fan

I love a good wager on a game – usually chocolate chip cookies or fresh salsa.   A little ridiculous, huh?  I once bet a friend up in Seattle that the Niners would whoop the Seahawks and the wager was that the loser had to take a picture of themselves in the opposing team’s jersey and post it on Facebook.  I looked pretty awful in Seattle’s colors.

My new boss Matt (a pastor mind you) says that he can fully embrace and support whatever local team represents the city he’s living in.  I find that disturbing.  It’s so Christian…. so “I can love anyone because of the love of Jesus“.  Really?  Where is your loyalty, man?  That’s akin to rooting for Goliath just because you’re from Gath.  Goliath was a bad dude and the Seahawks had to cheat to win the SuperBowl…so can you really say you’d root for them if you lived in the Pacific Northwest?  I think not!

As you can see my competiveness can get me into trouble.  I already can tell I’m going to have to apologize to Matt and I hate apologizing.  So I’ve learned that I have to keep a tight lid on my enthusiasm with rooting and try not to be too over zealous for the Niners because people get a little snarky about their football teams.  One wrong comment and you’re back in “Relationship 101” class where you’re reminded about the importance of nourishing and encouraging others around you.  Sigh. So I have to be careful how I navigate through relationships with those other fans around me….especially now that the Niners are doing so sucky lately.  Throw some egos and attitudes in the pot and you’ve got a perfect recipe for a team that’s tanking royally.  Come on Niners – you can do better than this!

My old pastor, DAG was a Green Bay Packers fan.  He came from Wisconsin and when he started this church in California he brought his team loyalty with him.  I can respect that.  He had a Packers football in his office (which I liked to switch out with a Niner ball) and we liked to tease each other about games over the years when they played one another.  I even bought him a Packers poncho when I was in Mexico on a Mission trip.  I actually really like Aaron Rodgers as a man of character and he makes funny commercials.  Plus the Packers are owned by their fans, I like their team colors (same as my college team) and the cheese heads make me laugh – its such a good visual to identify with.  But now I’m faced with a conundrum because I actually really like Seattle’s quarterback, Russell Wilson (oh, say it isn’t so!!) and as much as I hate that Seattle has more “W”s than “L”s when we go up against them….they have a QB who is a great leader on and off the field, and has a great testimony for Christ.  And plus…Seattle does have the coolest uniforms in the NFL – don’t judge me – I’m still a chick.  What am I to do?

As shocking as it is, I think I’ve figured out that for me football and rooting for a team is a great tool to build relationship with the people around me. It’s a great way to bring people together. We have people over to watch football all the time, and we feed them and that builds relationship with them. Great conversations happen in front of the TV while throwing back your favorite beverage and some chips and dip.  In fact, our Youth Group meets every other Monday during football season at different homes to watch Monday Night Football – sort of a football small group.  And my brother and I talk on the phone or text about the game every week which gives us a common thread and starts great conversations together.  Then there’s the neighbor across the street who will taunt us with his Dallas banner, and we’ll taunt back with our Niner banner.  Now those are the things that build relationship!  And even worse….I’ll often wager on a Niner game even when I know the Niners are going to get spanked all because its part of the relationship building process.  I guess I’m not above hanging my head when it’s to build relationship.  Is that a part of grace?

Growing up in So. California I was a loyal LA Rams fan (which tells you how old I am since they haven’t been in LA for 20 years) and I rooted like crazy for them.  I was also a Dodger fan…with a few Angel inklings and guess who I root for now?  Yep….the Giants and the A’s.  So I think if I moved to San Diego or Phoenix…I might just be able to embrace the Chargers or the Cardinals for the sake of relationship.  What?  Blasphemy! Does that mean that I’m not the loyal Niner fan that I thought I was?  Naw….I think I’ll always love the Niners, but grace tells me that I can be a hometown fan and root for the team where my family and friends are so that I can develop deeper relationships with them.

So as much as I hate to admit it…I think Matt has it right.  I think I too can be loyal to the local team because for me relationship is more important than if my team wins.  Grace for the team and grace for me and grace for other fans.  But between you and me, I think God might be a 49er fan.

The Pace of Grace

I have three friends named Cindy.  Cindy One I’ve known for 28 years and is one of my dearest friends.  She probably has the most dirt on me.  Our kids were more like cousins,  grew up together and were in each others weddings.  Cindy Two I’ve known for 8 years and we’re family now since our kids recently got married.  She’s become way more than just an “in law”….more like a sister.  Cindy Three I met about 5 years ago in Bible Study and we just clicked.  You know the type.  There’s something familiar in them and you just enjoy one another.  We love to hang out together in Youth Group, birthday lunch groups, and we generally support and encourage one another.

Cindy Three is a dynamo – a true “go getter”.  She is always pushing herself, always gathering knowledge, sometimes too hard on herself, always pursuing being better, hard working, talented, always asking questions, and always inquisitive about everything.  She is amazing!  We once went to Disneyland together on a girls weekend and we would often misplace her.  “Where’s Cindy?” was a common phrase used that weekend but we’d usually find her off ahead of us looking at the flowers, or the architecture…walking at marathon speed at least 20 paces in front of us….on a mission to take it all in, never all that interested in idle chit-chat or what ride we were heading to next, but rather enjoying the beauty around her and not satisfied to meander at our snails pace.  Fully engaged and actively pursuing new ideas.  Her husband Nick says she has two speeds…full speed and off.

I can be like that when it comes to living life.   Out in front, paddling like crazy, making things happen, bringing people together, asking questions, pursuing grace….but truth be told it can wear me out.  So why am I always functioning at warp speed? I think it’s because so much of my life was spent living for ME and now that grace is beginning to dawn and make sense to me I want to make up for lost time.  I find myself way too busy sometimes – filling my days with ministry and relationship building and community and loving on those around me.  My friends think I’m crazy – always organizing something or going someplace or caring for someone.  But I’m at that place in life where there are probably a lot more days behind me than there are ahead of me, and I think what motivates that pace is that I don’t want to waste one more day on myself.  Throw my love languages in there too (acts of service and gift giving) and you’ve got a perfect recipe for a burnt-out penniless Sista!  But there’s been this still-small-voice in my head of late that is whispering that I need to slow down and learn how to find balance.

So after ducking the subject and trying to ignore the dove’s voice, God got creative and spoke to me at Cheesecake Factory last week when I had dinner with two dear friends that I taught school with a few years back.  My friend Mags used a phrase that I haven’t been able to shake.  “Going at the pace of grace“.  It’s stuck with me more than the 5 lbs. from the Mocha Chocolate Cheesecake.  It’s been digging under my skin and peeling open scabs that I’ve known are there but have ignored, all pertaining to why I push myself, my schedule, my life at the pace I do.  I understand that nothing I do (works) earns me anything, so how do I manage grace and my pace in this tangible way?  Not that all these other things I do don’t hold value, but if I’m running at break-neck speed I’ll most certainly miss the scenery.  Or have a heart attack.  Well, I think it starts with taking off your track shoes and taking time to be still.

In my search for more going at the pace of grace input, I found that Scotty Smith tweets on the subject of what grace looks like (He’s a Pastor, author, blogger and tweeter, but his credentials on his Facebook say “Husband, dad, friend, big sinner enjoying an even bigger grace, unlikely pastor, wanna-be-musician, writer-at-times, a guy with an odd sense of humor”).  I like him already.  He blogs daily prayers that are so real, and just like the old phrase “You might be a redneck if….”his tweets often start with “A sign you’re growing in grace:…..”.   I just love it.  Simple.  Easy.  Grace.

Here’s the tweet that hit me between the eyes:

 “A sign you’re growing in grace: 
People don’t experience you being as busy, hurried or restless. 
You’re learning the pace of grace.”

Ouch.  That’s the opposite of me.  I’m always busy – I’m always hurrying to accomplish something – put on another event – bring more people together – write one more blog (this is actually very therapeutic and a form of worship for me, as God and I work through some things together) – and the stress that I put myself through causes me to be restless.  Yikes.  I think if I were living less busy and more in collaboration with God I would probably accomplish more and it wouldn’t be just about checking boxes off my TO DO list.  I’d be letting God walk those 20 paces ahead of me, leading, and watching to see what He wants me to pursue.  I have so much to learn still about this grace thing.

Hmmm….this is something I’m going to have to look into further.  For now I know I need to slow the pace down a bit. For now I’m going to be a better student of learning to go at the pace of grace.  And I give my three Cindy’s and my Youth Group (see my post dated 5/30/2014) permission to hold me accountable.  Uh oh….I’m in trouble!