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Class of '81 30 Year Reunion

The weekend before last I had the opportunity to attend my 30th high school reunion. Wow! 30 years! Some memories seem like yesterday and yet I needed to rely on my classmates to fill in some blanks. This was only the third reunion I’ve attended, previously attending the 10 and 20 year ones. I enjoyed this one, even though it was only several hours long.

I really had to rely on name tags to make sure I knew who was coming through the door especially for the guys. There are a few who look amazingly close to how they looked in high school. And for the guys this usually means they still have their hair and didn’t put too many pounds on. For the rest of the guys we either fell into one of two camps: not much hair  or a lot of gray. On the other hand, I thought the ladies were generally easier to identify. It’s funny because unless you still have friends from high school that you see often, your memory play tricks on you because your memory is based on how everyone looked 30 years ago. The ladies still made all of the guys look good in the Facebook photos.

Locker buddies! Sievertson and Severson

Here’s why I enjoyed this reunion so much. Since the 20 year reunion, Facebook has helped many classmates reconnect on the web. I’ve learned how to create my own Google + like circles using Facebook lists, so it’s easy to filter a news feed of friends by category. Say what you want about Facebook, but the interesting thing about the news feed from my high school friends list is that I can sort of “see” what everybody my age is doing. One unique characteristic of your high school class is that everyone is within a year or so of each other. So you sort of experience the vagaries of life roughly at the same clip. The social networks have made it a little easier to see how your classmates are faring with kids, aging parents, careers and marriage.

Interestingly, depending on when people got married, the range of kids goes from about 10 or 11 to 25-27. Many have kids in the middle somewhere or they’re struggling to watch their children leave the house and go off to college. That reality seemed especially hard on several of the ladies that I talked to. Raising kids has been the main preoccupation for the majority of folks (myself not included, which is likely why I still have hair.)

Careers was another interesting subject. At the age of 47-48, the majority of us are all hitting our groove in terms of our jobs. We’re in that sweet spot where we’ve had a couple of decades of experience in our professions or businesses. There’s a feeling of being in charge of where we want to work and what we want to do. Most of us are earning pretty good money and we all looked pretty good too!

I was impressed with my classmates and genuinely happy for their accomplishments. I sensed a very real contentment with life overall. Contentment with spouses, kids, choices and jobs. Everyone looked in pretty decent health and there was lots of laughter. My prayer for them is that the next 10 years God continues to shine blessings on them as he has over the last 30 years. The next milestone reunion will be the year 2021 and we will be 57-58 years old and staring at our own retirement.

I was telling my dad about the reunion and he confirmed that he had a similar experience at his 30 year reunion. And then he said something interesting to me. He said in the next 10 years most of everyone’s kids will be grown up and gone out of the house, and this fact will likely prove to be a great test for those who are married. He reminded me that the rest of American society has demonstrated that after the kids leave the house a lot of marriages have trouble and break down. Once the kids are no longer the central focus of the marriage, it seems folks take a look at who’s sleeping next to them and ask, “who are you?”

I hope my class finds a way to beat the odds set by the generations before us. We are the very tail end of the baby boomer generation that was from 1946 to 1964 (inclusive of the last year.) My class was born primarily in 1963. During our lifetimes, the country has undergone major social changes. I’m old enough to remember asking my father to explain the Vietnam War to me even though I was only 6 or 7 and it didn’t end until I was almost 12 in 1975. My class graduated from high school in 1981 as Ronald Reagan had won the presidency in a landslide the year before. In those years which extended into our college years, we witnessed the birth of the proponents of social change to the more conservative, and now back again. We have witnessed (as children) and to some extent we have defined (as adults) the social divide that exists in the country today. There are still fantastic challenges to conquer and adventures to experience in the next decade to be sure!

To the Lincoln High School Class of ’81: Thanks for nice evening of memories. I look forward to keeping in touch with many of you on Facebook. Keep going guys, there’s more greatness in store for us to come!

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We were involved with activities that postponed our typical weekend update. On Saturday we attended our friend Sank’s daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. It was a real treat to be invited to share in this special event. It was touching to see how proud Sank and his wife were on their daughter’s accomplishments as she read from the Torah scrolls to the congregation. She did a beautiful job and it should be noted that she honored her parents with her hard work leading up to her special day on Saturday.

The weekend was capped with a beautiful memorial service for my grandmother at the Arboretum in Brainerd, Minnesota. This truly was a weekend where God brought home the message of the 5th commandment, “Honor your father and your mother as the Lord your God commands you that your life may be long and it may go well for you in the place he gives to you.”

Jesus refers to this command 5 times and Paul reminds us in Eph 6 that this is the first command with a promise. Whatever our circumstances, it was important to remember that God’s word does not vary, it does not change. God’s word is not subject to circumstances or impressions or anything else. My friend Sank reminded me that the book of Isaiah found in the Dead Sea Scrolls had not changed from that time to the present even though his word was hand written throughout the generations. God has preserved his word. I was aware of the facts around this, but recalling this was important as my family gathered to celebrate the life of my grandma.

After the memorial celebration and luncheon, I had the honor to speak at the cemetery as we dug a hole and placed her cremains next to her grandson [my cousin]. Throughout the day, I heard many stories of my grandma that were shared by those in attendance. The bottom line is that grandma took seriously the new command that the Lord gives to us in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” There was ample evidence that she lived in a way that so many recognized Christ’s love was in her; she lavished it on so many.

The significance of her obedience to this command is magnified when you understand some things about her:

  • She was 14 when her father died of TB at age 36.
  • She was 20 when her mother died of cancer.
  • Grandma lived with her sister in a rented room in high school before she married my grandfather and she worked making $5/week.
  • When she married grandpa, they had to move around a lot as grandpa looked for work during the depression.
  • Grandma and her sister lived together with 4 children when their husbands were called into service for WW2.

The point is, grandma became a very loving person regardless of her circumstances. How she responded to her circumstances gives us 6 lessons to remember as we obey God and honor her life.

  1. We don’t have to live in bondage to the circumstances of life or the wounds inflicted upon us through the sins and failure of others.  John Chapter 8 verse 31-32 “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” v36 “if the son shall make you free, then you shall be free indeed.”
  2. God specializes in healing the worst of our broken lives through Jesus. He heals our hearts and our condition from within.  2 Cor 5:14-17 “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way (by our flesh). Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
  3. Living for Christ is not an exception from adversity. Grandma did not let her circumstances provide an excuse for ignoring God’s provision. Having been entrusted with the secret things of God, how we handle the truth has big implications. 1 Cor 4:1-2 “So then men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”
  4. The prayer of a righteous woman is a powerful weapon. Grandma’s prayer was that her family would be close to each other. James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”Eph 6:10-13,18 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand agains the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand firm.”
  5. Put God first and leave the rest to him. In her last years, grandma responded to the Holy Spirit by actively participating with her church family. Matt 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things [the necessities of life] will be given to you.”
  6. The greatest gift that a mother can give is the assurance of where she is when she dies. Here is one of grandma’s favorite Psalms. We took comfort in the assurance that she is with the Lord as we held hands and read Psalm 121 together out loud.
    1. We lift up our eyes to the mountains – where does our help come from?
    2. Our help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
    3. He will not let our feet slip – he who watches over us will not slumber;
    4. indeed he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
    5. The LORD watches over us – the LORD is our shade at our right hand;
    6. the sun will not harm us by day, nor the moon by night.
    7. The LORD will keep us from all harm – he will watch over our lives;
    8. the LORD will watch over our coming and going – both now and forevermore.
We encourage you to read this out loud with your family.

Grandma on her 90th birthday...just days before she passed.

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This Easter seemed to shine as bright as any that I could remember. Perhaps the long winter finally giving way to a bright, warm day contributed in large measure to the overall experience. On the news people are quoting the same word, “Finally”! Yes, that about sums it up.

The entire country has battled severe weather recently, especially in the 2 weeks leading up to Easter. The floods and twisters left a path of destruction over these last days. In Minnesota, the bad weather down south forced cold temperatures to remain locked over the midwest and turn rain into snow deep into April.

Lisa in her new Easter Dress! Beautiful!

A month ago, I’d encouraged Lisa to buy a new dress for Easter, just getting ready this morning promised that the day was going to be the turning point we needed to get us into spring.

Resurrection Sunday started out by attending Good Friday service. On Friday our hearts were tuned towards a somber reflection of what Yeshua came to do for us. On Saturday we spent the morning and afternoon with family enjoying a wonderful meal and marveling at how big the kids had become just since Christmas. Saturday night Lisa and I went to the Penumbra Theatre and saw the new play “I Wish You Love” written at the Penumbra workshop, produced by Lou Bellamy and performed by Dennis Spears.

The show is a tribute to Nat King Cole, the music and the man. If you have a chance, you should try to get a ticket before the show moves to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. Dennis Spears makes you believe that he IS Nat King Cole. He is truly amazing. The play tells the story of the troubles that Nat Cole had keeping his TV show on the air as he fought against NBC executives who were afraid to stand up to advertisers who threatened to drop their support for Nat’s TV program in the face of the civil rights movement and segregation in the South.

We left the show remembering the costs to so many brave Americans who stood up for the rights of all Americans in the face of segregation. We couldn’t help but think that no matter how horrible that history is, no matter how much suffering was inflicted, it didn’t compare to the suffering that our Lord endured on Good Friday for us.

The play at the Penumbra on Saturday night really helped us remember the salvation that has been offered to everyone:

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10

The music seemed louder, trumpets blared, voices sang, drums rolled and we rejoiced that the stone is rolled away and the Lord sits at the right hand of the Father. Does your heart long for peace? Does your soul cry for justice? Does your very identity cry out for a personal, approachable and close relationship to God?

If you have asked any of those questions, then remember the words of Jeremiah 29:13:

“And ye shall seek Me, and find Me when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.”

He is Risen! Happy Resurrection Day!

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Yours truly at Macy's - comfy furniture & HDTV

So this might not be news to most of you married guys out there, but I discovered something interesting this weekend while shopping with Lisa. There are mini-man caves scattered throughout department stores with couches and HD TVs tuned to CNN and other channels. Many of them are located at or near women’s dressing rooms and some are just located in the middle of the store underneath escalators. The guys congregated there were talking sports (NCAA was this weekend’s topic of course) and others were simply catching up on sleep. This is new to me because obviously before getting married, I never had a reason to go into the ladies’ section.

A guy sleeping at Herberger's

Lisa and I just celebrated our second anniversary at the end of January. And if you follow this blog, you know that we try to weave in some of our story about what it’s like to get married late in life and bring two full houses together under one roof. Last year was about slimming down our total possessions to something manageable within 1,350 square feet while building up our savings nest egg for a move to a slightly larger house.

A year later, we’re doing well with the space we’ve got. We’ve worked hard to take out two things for every new thing that comes in the door. Recently however, the long winter has forced us into the local malls the last couple of weeks; we are anxious to buy new spring clothes as we anticipate a late Easter at the end of April. This was really the first opportunity where I went along with Lisa as she shopped for accessories, shoes and a cardigan to go with her new spring dress.

The incentive for me to go along was that I needed to get out of the house as much as Lisa. I had already purchased a couple new shirts online and my stuff was delivered to the front door via FedEx, so I wasn’t shopping. I was tempted to stay home and watch basketball, but the need to get out was too great. So off we went.

I noticed a trend in the stores. The higher end department stores had comfier couches, better TVs and more seating and not quite as many guys. The lower end stores had more guys, less seating and limits to the available channels. I also noticed that there were definite age groups represented depending on the store. The more expensive stores had a younger average age and the lower end department stores had a lot more retired guys.

Guys hanging out under the escalators - like a hobo camp!

My conclusion? These stores are missing out on a huge opportunity to market to a captive audience. If the stores dedicated more square footage, provided a few amenities, food, drinks and a more manly environment then shopping with the Mrs would be a much more attractive option. I’m thinking pool tables, Comcast Sports packages, chips, pretzels, and computers for surfing CBSSports.com to see how picks and brackets are doing. What would be even better would be if the store could have a bag of socks, t-shirts and underwear bagged up for me while I relaxed, I could just take my stuff with me while my wife perused the aisles on foot.

In fact, we guys could support each other when asked which outfit looked better. We’ve all been there. “Honey, do these earrings and necklace go with this outfit?”

This is the critical moment that all men fear because you think it’s a trick question and you’ve probably screwed up in the past. There can be no hesitation in the answer or you’ll be at the store for another hour. The truth and a confident answer is what is required. “Wow dear! You make both of those necklaces look hot! I really like the one on the left (or right).” You pick your favorite one, that’s really all that’s needed at this point. Don’t overcomplicate it guys. And for a nice touch, take out your iPhone and have her model them. When she asks why, tell her the truth, it’s because you need a nice reminder of her with her new necklace, dress, sweater or whatever it is later in the week. Then put a reminder on your phone to ask her what day she’s going to wear the new whatever it is. That way she’ll know you were paying attention. It only takes a couple of minutes, but she’ll appreciate you later for the thought.

In the meantime, enjoy company of the other guys at the make-shift man caves.

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I grew up in a family that can be quite traditional. At least when it comes to how we celebrate holidays.

Years ago I brought a Jell-o pretzel salad to an Easter dinner. All eyes sat fixed on it in the center of the table for quite some time before someone blurted out, “What’s that?” When I explained what THAT was, there was silence and then, “Oh.”  And then table conversation continued. No one ate a single piece of it except my grandfather who was hard of hearing. He ate three pieces.

For the next family gathering I asked mom what I should bring and without skipping a beat she replied, “Oh, bring that pretzel salad you brought for Easter.”  After reminding her of what had happened, she convinced me to bring it again. I did and it got rave reviews. I don’t think there was a piece left to take home. I chose to simply chalk it up to tradition. Each dish needs to go through a sort of initiation process before acceptance at the holiday table.

For many years I then brought the pretzel salad to family gatherings. It entered the realm of tradition. Since then I’ve pushed the envelope more, trying out new dishes here and there. The latest attempt was last Christmas. And surprisingly this new arrival got a positive review the first time around! In fact, mom phoned the following week because she wanted the recipe for a dinner party she was planning.

Best of all it’s incredibly easy, relatively healthy and it seems to have been a hit so I thought I’d pass it along to you.

Butternut Squash Apple Cranberry Bake

Butternut Squash Apple Cranberry Bake

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (I take the easy route with a bag of frozen, cubed squash!)
2 large tart cooking apples cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

1/2 C fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 C brown sugar
1/4 C (half a stick) butter
1 T flour (I’ve used whole wheat flour.)
1 tsp salt (Optional – I don’t add this.)
½ T cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Slice and peel squash and apples.

3. Place squash cubes in ungreased 7×11-inch baking dish. Add apples on top and then cranberries.
4. Mix the flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and then sprinkle it on top. Dot with the butter.

Bake 50-60 minutes.
Serves 8.

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After starting up our blog, we’ve learned to appreciate  reading several others’ blogs too. We’ve slowly begun to communicate via comments as well. We’ve entered into the conversations slowly, and lurked for awhile on a few before leaving comments. As we’ve gained confidence, we find ourselves attached to several favorites. Lisa and I talk about their postings with each other as if we’d been chatting with them over the phone recently.

In other words, we sort of feel like we’ve gotten to know several people without ever having met them personally. They are electronic, cyber friendships. And we look forward to checking in with these folks daily or weekly. We’ve gotten so used to it that when we tell others about stories we’ve read, we say things like, “Yeah, we know these people who…”, or “We have some friends that…”.

It’s easier to reference our electronic friends by calling them simply “friends” than trying to explain by saying things like, “Yeah, I understand what you mean, we blog and exchange blogger comments with some folks who…”

One in particular has been a great inspiration lately. Joey writes his blog Wide White. Now truthfully, I [Brent] met Joey once by sheer luck last summer at a Twins game. We both were following each other on Twitter and while watching the game at Target Field, we both realized that we were at the ballpark sitting in consecutive sections no less! So we found each other within a couple minutes and spent an inning chatting for awhile. But that was the only meeting.

Joey and his wife Jamie are going through a tumultuous time in their lives right now. They are expecting a daughter in July, but they know from the ultra sounds that their daughter has Turner syndrome and they may only get a very limited time with her after she’s born. Joey has been blogging through this experience and I have found myself with tears in my eyes after reading a few of his latest postings.

Other than the brief introduction at the ballpark, the blog has served as this terrific spring board into sharing an intimate time of grief, of pain, of love and special relationship. His posts have really served to help Lisa and I focus on our faith walk together, our prayers have become focused and Joey and Jamie’s shared pain has helped us ensure that we are appreciating each day even more.

Their daughter’s name is Kaylee Hope. And Joey and Jamie have been brave as they’ve shared their grief, pain, hopes and desires. They have laid their faith down in words. They have expressed their feelings openly in their blog. We thank them for that. Somehow this blogger medium has extended beyond a few bits and bytes and we feel like our electronic friendship with them is as real as the relationships we have with people we work with. Strange that the Lord would use this painful experience to help us see the importance of relationships with people. Even when we haven’t spent any face time together.

Joey and Jamie’s relationship with God has been encouraging and I wish we could give them a real hug. I would like to thank them for being so brave. I would like them to know how much we care about them and what they’re going through.

God’s peace be with you Joey, Jamie and Kaylee Hope. Here’s a virtual <hug> from us. You deserve so much more, but I hope it helps a little today.

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Ok. Long post here. But it’s been a week and I’ve been working on this one since the SuperBowl.

This fall and winter, the Lord has been providing instruction on contentment. Are you familiar with this verse from 1 Timothy 6?

6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

God’s instruction began in August when co-workers invited me to participate in the annual football pool. This annual football pool is where you throw-away….I mean throw in $20 for the season and then each week for 17 weeks, you have to pick a winner for each game and rank your picks, putting 1 point on the team you’re least sure about and the highest point value on the team you’re most confident will win. You score the point value you place on the team if that team wins the game.

Anyway, the person with the most points for the week earns some money back from the total pool and the person with the most points overall at the end of the season wins a bunch of money. I’ve played this game in the past, never placing in the top 3 for the season. Well, starting in week 2 of the season back in September, I took an early lead. At week 7 I was still in the lead, up by 2o points and I started to think I could win this thing. However, the excitement about maintaining my lead gave way to pressure and it started giving me headaches. Each week while Lisa and I were out enjoying biking and the fall weather, I was keen on logging onto my phone and getting caught up on the scores. It became a distraction. It took away from the real enjoyment of spending time with Lisa and enjoying my favorite season of the year in Minnesota. I became obsessed with the outcome of every game and every weekly point total. And each week that I maintained my lead over the top 5 people in the pool I would breathe a slight sigh of relief only to begin sweating how to make picks for the next week. And the cycle would begin again.

Lisa asked me if the stress and rise in my already high blood pressure was worth it. I said, “No hon, it’s not. I love football and I’ll always root for the Vikings, but this isn’t as fun as I thought it would be.” She gently asked if I would consider not doing this again. She was right to ask me. But even more than that, I had to admit that the prospect of winning the money was a temptation. “Think about what we could do with that money if I won!” I said. Lisa just looked back at me and said, “Yeah, but is it worth what you’re going through now? I think it’s shortening your life and you don’t even know it.”

I paused on that. True enough, my heart raced on close games and I was experiencing migraine headaches. It seems I had pierced myself with many griefs over the prospect of more money. And we didn’t need the money. In August I joined the pool figuring $20 ÷ 17 weeks = $1.18 per week wagered and the prospect of winning $10 would make all the games more interesting and exciting. But it wasn’t interesting nor exciting, it was nerve-wracking.

I wondered, as I prayed to God, “what could be done about this?” I apologized to Lisa and to God and wondered what good could come from this experience? I asked God to help me keep my mind and heart open to hearing from him. Scripture is a good place to hear his voice and the reminder of this verse from 1 Timothy 6 had my attention.

The answer to my question came from an unusual place. Let me explain. Lisa and I have been reading a book by June Volk, The God Who Answers by Fire – A Jewish Saga that we purchased from the author on Yom Kippur last fall. Keep in mind that Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, was on September 18th – which was week 2 of the NFL regular season, and that was the weekend I took the lead in the football pool and from there led the entire season.

[As an aside, I wrote about our bike trip that weekend in an earlier post. We planned that adventure with some Jewish friends as a way to celebrate together and enjoy a great meal after the fast. It was because we’d worshipped on Shabbat which freed up our Sunday afternoon with our friends so we could spend time together and learn about Yom Kippur. I didn’t realize that God was going to take me on a learning adventure that would last for 17 weeks.]

Now, returning back to June’s book; we met June when we attended Shabbat service at the Seed of Abraham which is one of the Messianic Jewish congregations in the Twin Cities. Rabbi Rothman had arranged a special Shabbat with June in attendance. (For more on June and her book, check out this YouTube.) June has a chapter in her book where God helps June find contentment with God’s provision. One of the verses in the chapter is Luke 16:10a, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much,…”

Lisa and I have been reading chapters from June’s book as our daily devotional and when Lisa read this verse out loud it stuck with me. Now I want to say that the following conversation with the Lord took place in my mind. I didn’t hear a literal voice. Rather it happened as a sense, as urgings, and gentle prompts. I have been working to practice paying attention to this and seek confirmation as I believe a conversational intimacy with God is entirely possible and quite normal. We can talk about that in a separate post.

As I considered June’s story and the verse, I thought about Luke 16 and felt kind of bad because betting the $20 on the football season didn’t seem like a representation of responsibility with a little of the provision that God has given me and Lisa. Especially considering we’d made the decision just a week before to learning about Yom Kippur.

Over the course of time the senses, the urgings and prompting with the Lord went something like this:

[Me thinking about the verse in Luke 16] “Trust? Didn’t I just prove the opposite about myself?” I wondered . “It seems I can’t be trusted with $20.”

God’s prompting resulted in, “It’s not for you.”

[Me: thinking about that revelation] “The football pool money?”

[God’s prompting me again] “Right.”

“Ok. Who’s it for?”, I asked.

[God] “You’ll know”, was the sensation I had.

“What will Lisa think of this?” [Me wondering if Lisa is going to think I’m crackers.]

So about week 14 into the NFL season, the picks were getting tough, and I was still in the lead. Unbelievable. I had actually picked poorly a couple weeks in a row and the lead could’ve changed, but it didn’t. I was ahead by 10 points. That is the outcome of just one game with the wrong points on it; and there were 3 weeks to go. But by this time I had committed to giving the winnings away. So the pressure wasn’t as intense. But I still felt a slight amount of pressure. So I prayed and asked God, “Why do I still feel some anxiety about this?”

I sensed him saying, “Do you trust me?”

[Me] “Oh oh. Is this a trust issue too? Yes God I do.”

[God’s Spirit prompting me] “Put some skin in the game.”

That was the thought. Pony-up. The Day of Atonement was here. Repentance was demonstrating that not only did I not need to win the bet, but that I could go to Lisa and and tell her that I needed to put some of our own money down as a way of acknowledging God’s provision for all that he has provided for us.

So I agreed to put in 10x the amount of the single week that I’d won along the way.

NFL Week 15 arrived: I went up by 20 points!

NFL Week 16: maintained lead by 21 points!

Final NFL Week 17: I won the season by 14 points. God had come through because honestly, I don’t know a thing about betting on sports – which is probably a very good thing. From one week to another, I have no idea what’s going on around the league. I like football, but I don’t study teams or play Fantasy Football or scour injury reports.

Lisa and I prayed together before bed at the end of the season. I said I’m thinking I know what to do with the football pool money, but I need confirmation that it’s the right choice. I asked her to pray about it too and to tell me if anybody came to mind. She did. Later, I told her who I thought the Lord wanted to bless and she looked at me and and smiled. God had promised that I’d know. And now I did.

The beauty in the whole thing was not only how I learned to be faithful with a little, and that I was also to be trusted with much. But the real beauty was that Lisa and I got to be the broken vessels by which he blessed someone else. The recipients of the blessing were surprised and delighted. They thanked us and that’s okay. But I want all our readers to know that God was the one who orchestrated the entire thing. He provided the blessings to our friends, he redeemed my thinking and my attitude. He cured my headaches. He proved he is to be trusted. He did all those things and he allowed Lisa and I to experience the delight and surprise of our friends. We just trusted and obeyed. He did the work. We experienced all the benefits.

Does this sound like a miracle to you? Has God ever turned your thinking around? Has he redeemed one of your poor choices and demonstrated his love to you? Tell us your story in the comments. We’d love to hear it!

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