A Prize That Can't Be Beat

I listened as a TV news anchor reported the story about a Little League mom who grabbed a 12-year-old boy’s face, gave him an angry shove, and called the boy names. Her reason for anger? The boy had taunted her son, one of the players, during the baseball game. If found guilty, the woman could serve up to a year in jail.

We’re all familiar with parents who live, almost to obsession, through their children. We may have even fought it ourselves. Our society is so caught up with winning and being the best, that often the benefits of the journey are forgotten.

I support children – and adults – being rewarded for hard work and perseverance. Trophies, prizes, and rewards can great ways to help build self-esteem, team camaraderie, and celebrate an achieved goal.

But when all is said and done, no one should base his/her worth on how many trophies sit on the mantle.

My husband told me that he’s never won a trophy in his life, but added, “When I die, what would people do with it? A plastic statue wouldn’t mean anything to them, and they’d just toss it in the trash.”

That made me think . . . I have a box of trophies and awards for music and scholastic achievements during high school. Yep, a whole box. Somewhere in the garage. It was cool to receive them at the time, but I haven’t looked at them in probably 34 years. The box just keeps getting moved from house to house.

At one time I thought that someday my children and grandchildren might get a kick out of the looking at my award memorabilia. But it will probably just end up in the trash. Really, what would they do with the stash? Build a shrine to Grandma?

Trophies, awards, and prizes are given to “winners.” And don’t we all want to be considered winners? Doesn’t it feel good when we’re handed the prize?

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:13 NIV)

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:13 KJV)

God wants us to strive for a different kind of prize. One that won’t be broken or thrown out with the trash. The prize spoken about here is our “calling.” God has called us to a higher purpose for His Kingdom. Part of that calling is to be in relationship with Him. Whatever else He has for us to do may not always be easy to discern. But He still wants us to press on - seeking direction and understanding.

No other prize can compare with being a child of God - fulfilling our purpose – and doing what we were created to do.

Press on toward the goal . . . and win the prize!


Concerned About Credit Scores?

Today I talked to a friend who experienced financial crisis this past year - partly due to circumstances beyond her control, and partly due to choices made. The end result was credit card debt that was beyond what she could manage.

It wasn’t HUGE debt in comparison to what many people have accumulated, but it still felt overwhelming and destructive. The stress that came with it affected her whole life. So, rather than walk away from it all, she made the decision to ask for help from a company that deals with debt mediation.

It’s been approximately six months since the process began, and during that time she’s been called, sent harassing letters, and even been visited by a man representing the credit card company – all trying various scare tactics to get her to cough up the money she owes – threatening her with a credit history that will be tainted for years if she doesn’t.

It’s not that she doesn’t want to pay her bills. On the contrary. She just wants to work out an agreeable way to pay money owed without drowning in the process. And without being treated like smelly garbage.

The approach used to “encourage” her to pay made me wonder . . .

Why are we sooooo concerned with our credit scores anyway?

Sure, we need to have good credit to obtain loans for cars and homes. Even many companies now include a credit check as part of the hiring process.

But how my friend is treated by these two credit card companies, you'd think a stain on your credit history is akin to having leprosy.

Americans are obsessed with having credit, and being able to get credit.

I’m curious. Are Americans the only people who base so much of their lives on credit? Do people in France, Italy, and Spain also gage their value on what they’re “able” to purchase with what they don’t have?

A friend of mine is a missionary in Peru. He helps young children who have been emotionally and physically broken – and sold. He gets them off the streets and into the mission’s home where they can be nourished in body and soul. Do you think those children care – or will ever care – about whether they have good credit or not? When did our perspective get so out of balance?

As a Christian, I believe it’s important to be good stewards and take care of our debts. But, I also think God might shake His head in sorrow at how consumed we’ve become about finances. And that includes getting caught up with our credit scores – as if they give us more value than someone else.

With this country’s present economy, thousands of people have lost jobs and are struggling to financially survive. Even those of us with regular paychecks are learning to live with less. (And that’s not a bad thing.)

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6: 26 NIV)

Regardless of who we are - and where we are - on the financial ladder, God tells us not to worry.

He will provide.


Home Sweet Home

A beautiful ballad flowed from the radio as I drove to work one morning. No matter where the singer traveled, how much he accomplished, or how many people surrounded him, he felt alone and ached to go home.

What does home mean to you?

Maybe “home” is where you grew up. No matter how old we become, our parents may still ask, “When are you coming home?”

It could be the place you share with your spouse and children.

Your home may be where you find refuge - a “safe place to land” for you, your family, and friends. A place where they can find warmth, comfort, encouragement, acceptance, and unconditional love.

It’s been said that “home is where the heart is,” which means your true home is with the person, or in the place you love most.

Everyone deserves to have a home. Whether it’s a mansion or a shack, a home should provide shelter and protection from not only the elements, but the stress, struggles, and pain that can be experienced in the outside world.

As followers of Christ, we know that an eternal home is being prepared for us . . .

In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2 NIV)

But, there’s also another kind of home to be found. One that we can live in today. Right now. At this very moment, if we choose.

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23 NIV)

We can find the truest sense of home—of being where we’re supposed to be—through relationship with our Lord.

How cool is that?


What's New in Christian Fiction?

Check out these May releases . . .

1. A Bride of Honor by Ruth Axtell Morren from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical. An impoverished preacher from the working class falls in love with a young lady of the London ton and risks all including his reputation to save her honor.

2. A Prairie Romance Collection by Lynn A. Coleman, Mary Davis, Lena Nelson Dooley, Susan K. Downs, Birdie L. Etchison, Linda Ford, Linda Goodnight, JoAnne A. Grote, Cathy Marie Hake, Judith McCoy Miller, Kathleen Paul, Janet Spaeth from Barbour Publishing. Relive History On The American Great Plains.

3. Beyond Corista, Shadowside Series - Book 3 by Robert Elmer from Zondervan. In the last book of the trilogy, Oriannon and Sola set out to take the word of Jesmet beyond their planet, but are captured by traders, who hold the girl as a pawn in an interplanetary struggle.

4. Bittersweet Memories by Cecelia Dowdy from Barbour Heartsong Presents. Karen's fiancé has disappeared after embezzling money from their large mega-church; can she learn to love again?

5. Enduring Love by Bonnie Leon from Revell. John and Hannah have lived by faith. When all seems lost they must continue to believe in a God who can do all things.

6. Lethal Lasagna by Rhonda Gibson from White Rose Publishing. Lethal Lasagna is a cozy romantic mystery.

7. Love Finds you in Liberty, Indiana by Melanie Dobson from Sommerside Press. A Quaker woman risks everything to operate a station on the Underground Railroad in 1850.

8. Rose House, by Tina Ann Forkner from Waterbrook Press. A vivid story of a private grief, a secret painting, and one woman's search for hope.

9. So Not Happening by Jenny B. Jones from Thomas Nelson. Isabella Kirkwood had it all: popularity at a prestigious private school in Manhattan, the latest fashions, and a life of privilege and luxury. What's a girl to do when God gives you the total smackdown?

10. The Lyons Den, 3rd book in the Shelton Heights Series by Kendra Norman-Bellamy from Urban Books (Urban Christian). With his and his family's life placed in danger by a stalker who only identifies himself as "Dr. A.H. Satan," Stuart Lyons has to somehow maintain his faith in God.

11. Tour de Force by Beth White from Zondervan. Gilly Kincade, rising star in a premier NYC ballet company, and Birmingham artistic director Jacob Ferrar wrestle with ordering the priorities of building a relationship, pursuing artistic dreams, and serving God.

12. Trail to Justice Susan Page Davis from Heartsong Presents. A police dispatcher and a veterinarian compete in a 100-mile horse race for fun, but find intrigue and romance, along with an injured champion and a wrecked airplane.

13. What the Bayou Saw by Patti Lacy from Kregel Publications. Sally Stevens, Mary's Southern friend in an Irishwoman's Tale, grapples with her own memories, buried beneath the murky waters of a Louisiana bayou.

14. Wild Prairie Roses by Lena Nelson Dooley and Laurie Alice Eakes and Lisa Harris from Barbour Publishing. Elusive dreams unite three couples.

15. Who Made you a Princess, All About Us #4 by Shelley Adina from Hatchette Faithwords. Will Shani Hanna choose the boy next door or a real-life handsome prince?

Happy Reading!


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