Do You Have to Come in First to Win?

competition, virtualAt the time of this writing, I’ve been doing an online, self-paced Spanish course for 270 days.

In order to move to the next level of learning I have to reach a certain ranking for the week. Sometimes it takes a few weeks to score enough points to move ahead. Too few points and I could be demoted to the previous level.

A few times I didn’t put in enough effort and barely maintained my standing. This bothered me so I now strive to remain in the top twelve.

Last week I checked my score and discovered I was in first place! It was only day one of the week so, while excited, I knew it might not last. The next morning, I had dropped to second place so spent a little longer online and regained my standing.

This is the way it continued for several days. My competitive nature had me spending more and more time each day. Sometimes I went online a second time to check my score and do another quick lesson. I wanted to finish the week as number one and get the virtual rewards that position offered.

With less than two days to go, someone surpassed me by so many points I would have to spend about three hours each day rather than my daily one hour. If I did this there was a good possibility I could win!

The voice of reason asked me what the cost would be. Time with my husband would pay the price, as would many other pleasures.

As if that weren’t bad enough, when I race through lessons, more intent on gathering points than learning, my retention diminishes. Foolish mistakes are made. Was the intent to learn the language or to come first in this level?

I listened to reason. That left time to bake muffins, go for a walk with my husband, email a childhood friend and work on a writing project. Although I didn’t finish in first place, what I spent my time on definitely made me a winner.

Step Out

#inspiration, #God, #Lord, faithThe English speaking church we attend in Mexico had an interesting beginning. We have met the Canadian couple who were instrumental in the formation of the church. I enjoyed hearing the story both from their perspective and that of the pastor.

After wintering in the area for several years, this couple could see the need for a church service in English. They learned of a pastor in the area who was bilingual and approached him with their idea.

He could see the merit in this but didn’t feel his language skill were good enough. After more conversation he thought it might be possible. “We can start next year” he said.

The immediate response of, “How about next week?” took him by surprise. Sensing this was God’s will, he agreed. The next Sunday fourteen people were in attendance for the first service in English. That was over ten years ago.

We appreciate the ministry of our Mexican church home. I have been privileged to be in attendance for both multicultural and outreach events with the English and Spanish congregations working side by side.

I am grateful for the pastor who didn’t feel equipped but accepted the challenge. He did not give in to the natural tendency to say, “No” or put off what seems too much to handle. Instead, he stepped out in faith and trusted God to lead the way.

This story has inspired me. I know that God has big plans for each of us. He doesn’t always call those of us who feel equipped. Instead, He calls those who are willing and equips them. When I step out in faith and trust the Lord, there is no limit to what He may enable me to do.

What Language Do You Play In?

common goal, God, life, inspirationI watched some children playing in the sand. Three were siblings and the other someone they had just met. An elaborate sand castle was being built.

What made this scene special was that three of the children spoke only English while the fourth spoke only French. The fact that they could not communicate with words made little difference to them.

The language they shared was that of working together towards a common goal and having fun. That was all that mattered.

These children reinforced an important lesson for me. When we focus on a common goal, the differences we have are not a concern. It is when we allow ourselves to become distracted by things that aren’t important that we run into problems.

We don’t need to speak the same language as others in order to work, play or get along together. All we need is respect and cooperation. In other words, we need to play nicely with others even though we may not fully understand them.

God has gifted each of us with different talents and abilities. I need to not only share my strengths but also to embrace those of others. In that way everyone will be a winner in the game of life.

To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. (Matthew 25:29 NLT)

Spanish Lessons

communicate, God, Holy SpiritMy husband and I have just started a beginner Spanish language course. The first class started out with simple phrases such as, “Good morning, how are you?” We could handle this without too much difficulty.

Next we were introduced to the way to say this in the formal manner, for someone you don’t know well, or in the familiar manner for family and friends. The words to both the question and answer change depending on your relationship to the person you’re speaking to. Things were starting to get more complicated.

The next thing to know was the masculine and feminine. I hadn’t realized before that morning was masculine while afternoon and evening were feminine! When the teacher showed us how to conjugate a verb, I started to panic, fearing that I was in over my head.

My goal is to be able to converse with the locals when we vacation in Mexico. I will persevere, but am aware that this will be no easy task.

This made me realize that I need no lessons to be able to communicate with God. The maker of the universe doesn’t require me to speak to him in the formal tense. In fact, he prefers that I be familiar with him. I don’t need to struggle with the correct words as the Bible tells me that the Holy Spirit intercedes for me when I don’t have the necessary words. He knows my heart and that is the truest language there is.

At the same time the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we don’t know how to pray for what we need. But the Spirit intercedes along with our groans that cannot be expressed in words. The one who searches our hearts knows what the Spirit has in mind. The Spirit intercedes for God’s people the way God wants him to. Romans 8:26-27 GWT