Tag Archives: sports

Faith Is a Muscle…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration from today’s Wednesday Wisdom comes from the Gospel of Luke 16:10

“If you are faithful in the little things, you will be faithful in the large ones…”


This week my favorite brunette and my favorite blonde cowgirl will compete at the Nebraska State Track Meet. While I am incredibly proud of both of their accomplishments, the joy that fills my heart mostly stems from the knowledge that they will get to continue as track teammates for one more competition.

One more opportunity to learn to compete with grace. 

Twenty one years ago, when I held my first “coaching job”, I clung tightly to the competitive spirit that marked my own athletic career. I focused on teaching all of the little things that help to bring athletic success:

  • Hard Work
  • Dedicated passion for the sport
  • Developing the competitive mental mindset that allows for physical success on game day

Coming out of an athletic career where I trained for up to 5 hours per day, I was well versed in what it took to be both mentally tough and physically strong. I was faithful in the little things, and found success both in the pool and on the Cross Country Course. I understood the what but, as I matured, I struggled with the why.

Although I did the little things correctly, I never truly comprehended that I was traveling God’s journey. As a result, on race day I lacked the confidence and peace that came from a strong faith. I didn’t understand that when I accepted God’s call, He traveled the competitive journey with me. It was my job to work hard and compete with passion to bring Him honor — It was God’s job to carry me through the stress of competition that sometimes threatened to overcome the peace in my heart.

I never learned to give it to Him.

As a result, my fear was often stronger than my faith and I never truly competed with grace.


When I think of what I most want my girls to experience in athletics, it is the art of competing with grace. I believe that faith is a muscle. It strengthens as we use it. It requires trust, obedience, and intentionality to grow. I never really understood that until I ran a half marathon last fall. I competed in thousands of races over more than three decades before I finally got it right.

The first step is faithfully doing all of the little things, but it doesn’t end there — that is simply the beginning.

Blessings follow obedience

Megan asked me recently how I know when I pack my faith to compete with grace. For me, the answer lies in my heart. When I step up to compete with grace, the intensity of competition blends with a peaceful heart as I know that I am where God called me to be.

There is confidence that comes from obedience – From knowing that you are fulfilling God’s purpose with your actions.

That is how you compete with grace.

As both a mom and a coach, I find that I now live by a new definition of mentoring with my athletes. While my teaching still includes faithfully putting in the work and doing the little things, perhaps the most important lesson that I teach my kids is to believe that their competitive journey is a part of God’s calling for their lives.

Our job is to work hard and move our bodies with passion. God provides the guidance that leads to peace and confidence. When we learn to trust — to obey — to lean — it is then that we intentionally build the muscle of faith that brings us success on the journey.

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10 Qualities of a Good Teammate…

lakekarynswimshirt.jpgIn preparation for a swim team meeting today, my favorite blonde cowgirl and I brainstormed and put together 10 Qualities of a Good Teammate.  None of these qualities are linked directly with natural athletic talent, however, all of them directly determine an athlete’s success.  Building these skills is not easy; however their importance extends far beyond the athletic field and into the game of life. 

  1. Heart: To be a good teammate, you must have enough faith to trust both in your abilities as well as every other team member’s.
  2. Friendship: To be a good teammate, you must extend friendship and acceptance toward all members. This includes recognizing that no one is perfect and being able to forgive in order to better both yourself and the team.
  3. Work Ethic: To be a good teammate, you must be willing to work hard – to push yourself to the point of exhaustion – in order to achieve new levels of strength and ability.
  4. Leadership: To be a good teammate, you must show a positive attitude and look outside of yourself in order to support and mentor others.
  5. Integrity: To be a good teammate, you must be truthful in your thoughts, words, and actions.
  6. Passion: To be a good teammate, you must give everything that you have in every moment of competition and training with a strong positive energy that comes from the heart.
  7. Kindness: To be a good teammate, you must always be both humble and kind. Learning to support others and help them to achieve greatness provides the basis for both personal and team success.
  8. Positive Culture: To be a good teammate, you must believe in and share the power of positivity – this occurs by encouraging others and inspiring greatness in all those around you.
  9. Competitive Nature: To be a good teammate, you must be willing to live in the moment of the race and fight for victory – not just for yourself but for those who proudly share the same uniform.
  10. Leave it all on the deck: To be a good teammate, you must leave all negative emotions and drama outside of the pool so that you can bond with your teammates and work together to build something greater than yourself.

One of my swimmers reminded me this week that “Perseverance = Stubborness with a Purpose” — Imagine how awesome our world would be if everyone persevered on the journey of being a good teammate!

 

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Harnessing The Power Of Our Youth…

Over the past decade, I have coached hundreds (perhaps thousands…) of children through local youth sports teams.  Whether it is on the soccer field, the track, the t-ball diamond, or in the swimming pool it is easy to tell the children who are expected to tenaciously work hard and problem solve at home.

As I coach them, I not only teach them to be good swimmers---more importantly I teach them to work hard and challenge themselves.

I studied psychology in college, and am a firm believer that good work habits and problem solving skills need to be ingrained in children from a very early age.  Learning to work hard and finish with pride gives them confidence and teaches them to be positive contributors to their team, their community, and their country.

My coach used to tell me "Pain is temporary, Pride is forever"...I tell her the same thing. It is how we push ourselves to work through challenges that creates excellence.

Although it is a natural human tendency to want to smother our children and complete tasks for them, it is so important to not give into that tendency, and rather instead to empower them to complete tasks on their own.  There are times, as a parent, when I have to let go.  I have to believe in my girls and allow them to work through a task even when it challenges them.  Challenges teach tenacity—they inspire confidence—and they reinforce the importance of digging deep to be able to finish strong.

I often ask them how they should end a race---they instantly answer "STRONG!".

My oldest daughter, Ashley Grace, is blessed with an incredible verbal ability—she has the vocabulary of a college student and expresses herself well both when publicly speaking and writing.  She is a 12 year old walking dictionary…

This is her favorite place, and her favorite pastime...

She is not a natural problem solver.  If something is broken or if anything needs to be done that requires mechanized equipment, she calls her younger sister Megan to do it.  Megan is not a walking dictionary, but she is an incredibly resourceful problem solver…

My "problem solving" cowgirl would rather ride her horse or exercise cattle than read a book...Caring for animals teaches her personal responsibility and a commitment to excellence.

Last weekend our lawn mower was broken.  Matt was in the middle of planting alfalfa, so I knew that our mower would not get fixed before the grass was tall enough to hide my youngest daughter Karyn (Matt is the mechanical problem solver in our marriage—can you tell which of us each of the girls take after?!).  Matt’s parents have a mower similar to ours, so we borrowed it for the weekend.

After the job was finished...

I gave the task of mowing the grass to Ashley Grace.  I took a few minutes to show her how to operate the mower and then headed off to get Karyn ready for her soccer game.  Ashley Grace was not keen on the idea of mowing and, consequently, did not pay much attention when I was showing her how to run it.  It took her a long time to mow our large lawn, and before she was finished she had christened the mower with a new name: the hell wagon.

The newly mowed grass looks beautiful, but the lesson that my daughter learned was far more valuable...

Perhaps the lawn would have gotten mowed faster if I had done it for her…Perhaps she would have exerted less frustration and fewer tears if I had done it for her…Perhaps she would have had a more enjoyable afternoon reading a book.  None of those were the point.  The point was that I gave her the instruction and tools that she needed to complete the task—I expected her to complete the task—She learned by completing the task.

Did I mention that I also harvested the power of my youth to plant part of the vegetable garden last weekend?

Whether I am parenting my own children or coaching someone else’s, I believe that it is my job to empower the next generation to strive for greatness.  In order to harness the power of our youth, I must first empower them to believe in themselves and want to excel.

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