It’s Not About Me

TJ and I are officially a few weeks deep into support raising, and it has been quite a ride. As of today, the commitments and gifts we have received total just under $1,400 per month.

God has absolutely awed us in this process. We are over halfway funded. That $1,400 per month translates to over $16,000 committed and given in a little over three weeks. WHAT?! Even as I type that number it feels like I need to double-check the math. There’s just no way it can be real.

It’s real.

In the midst of all its ups and downs, support raising has reminded me of a valuable lesson about the importance of focus. Over the past month, there have been more moments than I care to admit when I’ve been tempted to believe that this whole support-raising thing is about me – about my fundraising number and my start date and my abilities to raise money.

My, my, my. Ugh, it’s painful just to write that sentence.

Here’s the pattern I’ve noticed: the second I put the focus on myself, I allow frustration and fear to slide into the driver’s seat. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

I was having one of those “me” moments last week when a story that Brian Hall, one of Sports Friends’ missionaries living full-time in Langano, Ethiopia, wrote was posted to the Sports Friends blog:


Hundreds of kids came through camp this past summer, each with a unique story.  Some come from Orthodox homes, some from other religious backgrounds, some non-believing, and some from no home at all.

It was “family time” after lunch one afternoon during our week of girls camp.  I sat in the circle with my team of girls and listened as each one told about their family, how many brothers and sisters they had, their parents, where they were from, their favorite food and color, and what they wanted to be when they grew up.  It was a time to get to know each other as the girls were all from different areas.  Each one took her turn going through the routine, and then it was time for *Mary to give her story.  “I don’t have any brothers or sisters….” Tears started rolling down her face and she could not finish her story. Yigirem, one of our summer staff employees, comforted her and encouraged her to keep going but she couldn’t.  Later on I asked him her story.

Mary, a 16-year-old girl, is homeless and living on the streets of Addis. She has no family to love her and guide her through her adolescent years, and as a homeless child at the age of 13 she started having sex with men on the streets.  One of our other summer staff employees, Nega, had found her on the streets this year and invited her to join one of his teams.  He has taken her under his wing and is looking after her by finding her a place to live and giving her some money to buy food.

As I listened to her story, I had so many thoughts about this young girl.  “What will she think when she sees the drama on Thursday night, the drama of the adulterous woman who finds forgiveness?  How will she respond to Christ’s forgiveness?”  As I ran through all of these thoughts, for now I was just happy to know that someone within Sports Friends has found her, is taking care of her, showing Christ’s love to her, and now she has had the chance to come to camp. That is such a big part of why we do what we do here – to introduce these hurting youth to a loving God. Hopefully through her camp experience and her connection with Sports Friends in Addis, she will one day decide to give her life to Christ and experience his amazing love, joy, and forgiveness that will change her life. Please pray that Mary and many more youth around the world will find Christ through this ministry, and pray that their coaches will continue to reach out to them and be godly mentors and influencers in their lives.

*Name changed for security reasons

This story served as an inhaler for my panicky soul. It was calming and grounding and brought me back to the simple, beautiful truth – this support-raising journey is not about me. It’s about Mary and every child around the world she represents.

I believe – really, really believe – that God is using Sports Friends to change lives for the better across the globe. The proof is in the stories. When I keep my focus on that, my heart beats fast with excitement and motivation. I feel unstoppable, not because I am, but because I’m partnering with an unstoppable God.

So much of support-raising seems scary, difficult, and frustrating when I’m doing it for myself.

How wonderfully uncomplicated it becomes when I’m doing it for Mary instead.

Is there somewhere in your life you’ve lost focus? What’s distracting you from keeping your attention on what matters?


*If you’re interested in learning more about how you can join our support team, visit the “Support Raising” link in the blog header above. I’d love to answer any questions you may have about Sports Friends, support raising, or this adventure we’re on!


On Busyness, Spinning Plates, and Creating Margin from Madness

I recently read something that really got me thinking. The article is short, but powerful. It’s about busyness, a sneaky adversary I know many of us struggle with, and the importance of intentionally leaving some margin in our lives to make space for the unexpected. If it sounds interesting or relevant, I’d recommend checking it out if you have a second. The rest of this post builds on what I read there first.


My training period for Sports Friends started in early September and will wrap up in about four weeks. Most of this time has been spent completing development activities, along with beginning the vital work of building a financial support team. I’ve also been taking on some substitute teaching.

All of these things are important and some have been stressful at times, but the season I’m in right now definitely doesn’t compare to the consistent busyness of my former professional life as a teacher. Over the past couple of months, more than once I’ve found myself facing days of wide-open space with nothing concrete on my schedule.

Sounds delightful, right?

Interestingly enough, rather than embracing the margin this season has naturally graced me with, I’ve felt ashamed of it.

I, like so many others, have almost always suffered from chronic over-commitment. Instead of viewing margin as valuable and needed, I tend to approach it with caution, wondering if having extra time in my life somehow makes me a slacker or an underachiever. Sadly, because I’ve always equated busyness with capability and success, non-scheduled time often makes me feel nervous and antsy. Isn’t there something I should be doing?

I don’t think I am alone in this. Our society as a whole applauds plate-spinners. The more plates you manage to spin without dropping, the more valuable you become. This faulty logic rears its ugly head in all areas of life – as a student, as a professional, as a parent (or so I hear), etc. The world’s respect typically goes to those who take on the most; bonus points if you can make it look easy.


The praise you receive as a plate-spinner is, unfortunately, like putting a band-aid on a bullet wound – great for just a second, but then you desperately need more. It won’t sustain you through the madness. I know this from experience, and, honestly, I’m tired of living this way. When I take on a lot, I may look capable or admirable to outsiders, but on the inside I know the truth: I’ve purchased a one-way ticket to Crazy Town. And it’s non-refundable.

Rather than spinning lots of different plates, what I really want is to do just a few things and do them really well, leaving a sizable amount of margin for rest and unexpected opportunities. In order for that to happen, I know I’ll have to make some intentionally difficult and unpopular choices to forgo the things that make me feel accomplished for the things that make me feel full (there’s a difference).

I know everyone has real-world responsibilities. I’m not suggesting that we all quit our jobs and stop making dinner and doing the laundry just so we can have some margin. I’m simply wondering what it might do for our souls, for my soul, if we changed a few of our yes’s to no’s and planned deliberately for margin the way we plan for everything else.

At the end of the article I mentioned above, the writer states “…efficiency is not God’s highest goal for you. Love is.

I know it sounds cliché, but at the end of our lives it really won’t matter how many plates we spun or how many tasks we were able to accomplish on any given day. What will matter is the love we gave.

Heading into the holiday season, my word is margin. Instead of feeling ashamed of the margin already afforded to me in this season of life, I’m ready to embrace it. I won’t make a mockery of it by over-scheduling it or wishing it away. That way, when unexpected opportunities arise, I’ll be ready to love people well instead of grumbling about having to add one more plate.