POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

To be grateful...guest post from Kayla Monaghan

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To walk you have to take a single step

“Kayla, can you take a look at the stacks of books we are not going to take with us when we move and see if you want to keep any,” my mom called. We were moving in 7 weeks and the floor was littered with pile after pile. I went through a few and found one I used to love when I was little and sat down to read. It is called Polyanna, a story about a girl who learns to play the glad game, finding things to be grateful for, despite her legs becoming paralyzed. Little did I know I would be playing the same game later that night.

It was around 4:30pm that afternoon and there was a crack that echoed through the field. It was my leg, violently smashed by a heavy footed goal keeper. The middle of my leg wobbled and a scream escaped my throat. I knew it was broken. The next twenty-four hours were a blur. I was carted off in an ambulance to the emergency room and then had surgery the next day. It turns out I had my tibia and fibula, the two bones in the lower leg, completely snapped. I found myself playing the glad game the night before surgery with my mom finding all sorts of things to be grateful for.

In the hospital a lot was taken away from me. My spot on the New Jersey state team I had just made, the rest of my final season with my team, and the ability to do just about anything on my own, all gone. Then, my hopes for going to back to school were dashed a week later. I was crushed. I cried and kept asking why? Why me? Why now? Eventually, I realized it wasn't my place to ask those questions. I could only be thankful for what I did have. An ever present God, a strong left leg, a titanium rod in my tibia, amazing people checking in and caring for me, and the best family anyone could ask for made the list in that round of the glad game. I've learned, and still am learning, how to be grateful for everything because nothing belongs to us, not even our bodies. I know I will be back on my own two feet (and a soccer field) as soon as possible. I have found so much, much more than I thought possible, to be grateful for.

The Double Pain of a Sports Injury

Over the past week our family has been hurting a bit. Our oldest, Kayla, a.k.a. Kayla Joy, a.k.a Joy, a.k.a. baby duck suffered a devastating injury on the football pitch. After a feet first tackle by the opposing goal keeper she was left with a tibial-fibular fracture and a level of physical trauma that was quite shocking. With the excellent work of a top surgeon along with a fantastic titanium nail from Smith and Nephew, the team has put our girl back together again. Though the road to full recovery is long, we are now taking the first steps in that journey.

First steps and back on our feet  

First steps and back on our feet  

The injury has me thinking about and meditating on the nature of pain. And a pain in two kinds. First and most obvious is the physical pain of having you leg bones crunched in the storm of a violent collision. We have good meds for that in 2016 but the physical pain is still a shocking and present reality. Furthermore, as bone breaks go, the larger the bone the more painful when it breaks. The femur is supposedly #1 (do follow that link if you need a laugh) and the tibia is a close #2. It's hard to watch someone you love go through such things.

Yet there is a pain of a second kind that rapidly descends upon an athlete in the aftermath of injury. It arrives upon the tracks of loss and uncertainty.

Loss

Many high level athletes have literally played their sport almost their entire lives. Though only 14, our Kayla has literally played the game of football/soccer in an organized fashion for two thirds of her life. If you add in kicking balls around from a very young age, soccer had been a part of her story as long as she has literal memories. When a leg breaks part of your story breaks of suddenly as well. The regular training sessions, the games, the travel, the tournaments and the constant presence of teammates all comes to a sudden and grinding halt. It's almost as if part of you is suddenly gone. The loss is painful and the physical pain that lingers reminds you of the loss. It's no wonder that when a player is seriously injured that teammates rally to that player. The empathy and understanding of what is lost is grasped  by all. And as an aside, thank you to the coaches, teammates and supportive leadership of FC Copa Academy in this time. 

Uncertainty

Along with the quick realization of loss another fear visits the soul. The doubt and uncertainty about the future. Life is suddenly changed. You cannot walk on your own.  Sleeping is difficult and you have to get to the bathroom over and over and over again. With such sudden change you also begin to ask the questions: Can I come back from this? How long will it take? Will I be my old self? Will I come back better? What about my future dreams for the game? Are those in jeopardy? Who am I, really, apart from these things that I do? The spectre of uncertainty does not wait to visit the soul. That deranged spirit just lands upon you without delay. It brings a certain aching to the heart. 

My wife and I, both former athletes, also feel these emotions and psychological difficulties vicariously because we have walked in these shoes. The memory of losing my final year of collegiate wrestling to a labrum tear in my shoulder comes rushing back even now. As parents, watching the physical pain and knowing the turmoil inside my girl just breaks the fatherly heart a bit. 

The Christian athlete faces all of these issues and perhaps some theological questions related to providence and the sovereignty of God. Yet the Christian athlete, like my daughter have many great benefits.

  • She has the great benefit of the constant grace and care of a good, good Father.
  • She has a present help in the time of trouble and a strength to face fear. (Psalm 46).
  • She has the great Helper (John 14:25-27) and High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) walking with her in deepest times of need. 
  • She has the church family encouraging her along the way (John 13:34,35; 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11),
  • She has presence of God ever with her to strengthen her heart (Isaiah 43:1-11; John 16:33; Hebrews 13:20,21) and
  • She has the knowledge and contentment that "we can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13. Here it can appropriately applied to sport)

As I wrote earlier, youth sports is a great place of need for mission and the gospel; it is also a great arena for sanctification and life change. Even, no especially, in the seasons of double pain. 

Love you Joy! With you #everystepoftheway  

 

Youth Sports - Part 2

Good morning friends. Yesterday I posted an article about engagement with youth sports. That essay was edited by my brilliant 14-year-old daughter who is a great writer in her own right. 

Later yesterday afternoon that same sweet girl suffered a crushing injury on the soccer field snapping both her tibia and her fibula in her lower right leg.

This too has taught us much about God, his kindness and some terrible pain and utter sadness. Yesterday as we rode in the ambulance she asked me to read her the Psalms so her heart would be drawn to the Lord and her heart at peace in the midst of the pain and the crazy. I read to her the 63rd Psalm: 

1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. 3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. 4 So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 6 when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

- Psalm 63:1-8

My little girl is a beautiful soul. Today we will have some reconstructive surgery where a rod will be placed into her tibia. Please pray for us in the days ahead and all of those who surround us…church, family and our soccer community. We are all praying that the Lord would use everything to express his grace and glory to many. 

Love in Christ, for the Monaghan Home Team

Reid  

Books I enjoyed in 2015

The Bible says that of "the making of many books there is no end and much study is a weariness of the flesh." (Ecclesiastes 12:12) In other words, there are many words not worth reading. Certainly the words of the wise and the Words of God are the guides of life and there are many books not worth the bits and bytes they are produced in. Yet there are some good ones to read. Here are a few of the books where I found some joy this past year.

The Bible

I've been reading and teaching in a few main biblical texts in the most of 2015

My continued love of history and creative Non Fiction dominated my audiobook reading again this year and continues to be my favorite genre of music to listen to ;-). The following were fantastic reads in 2015. All my car, exercise and yard work time is occupied with these sorts of friends...and a few podcasts.

In terms of explicitly Christian market books I enjoyed the following...

Power of Change in 2016

Friends, 

As many of you may be aware, Kasey and I will be transitioning with our family out of New Jersey in the summer of 2016. We thank the Lord for all he has used us for in the Garden State and the Northeast during the last seven or so years. You can read the letter we shared with our church to catch you up to date here. We are thankful for our Jacob's Well  family and are so looking forward to all they will do in service of our King in New Jersey. We are thankful to continue to serve and remain connected with both Jacob's Well and The Acts 29 Network in fruitful partnership for many years to come.

As we look towards the future there are some changes coming to Power of Change. Beginning in 1996 Power of Change (POC) was the name of our newsletter to our supporters of our ministry with Athletes in Action. POC then became the domain and name of our web site when powerofchange.org rolled out. It morphed into a blog format and will soon undergo its most significant change yet. Power of Change will be birthed as a ministry to impact and influence the coming generation with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Over the first half of 2016 we will be working on incorporating and relocating our family to Blacksburg, VA which was our home from 1998-2004. We will base our ministry there as we move forward in God's calling. It is our hope to serve in some specific ways in the years ahead should God give grace.  Blacksburg is a university town which is home to Virginia Tech and will also allow me to base close to family as I serve broadly in ministry. 

We are currently in the midst of work to brand, incorporate, file for 501c3 status and build the proper systems to support the ministry. We are also praying and dreaming about how the Lord may use us in days ahead.  Check on the branding work my good friend Weylon Smith has already completed for us. Pretty sweet.

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Colors and Application

Colors and Application

We are also quite exhausted as we finish up our 20th year of full time ministry together. We need to rest and refresh a bit and that is one of our objectives for late 2016 as we get things moving with Power of Change. Much more to come in terms of details and vision for sure but we are thankful for God's grace, humbled by his call and looking forward to the journey ahead. The power of change lies with the power of God and we are still hung up on he who is the truth and his Kingdom that is to come. 

If you are interested in being on our mailing list, supporting the work and keeping in touch, drop us a note here and I'll add you to the email list.

Much love and grace in Christ

Reid, on behalf of the Monaghan Home Team

 

Walking with the Little Ones - Parenting in the Toddler Years Part 3 - Presence

Part 3 - Presence

Photo by Photodisc/Photodisc / Getty Images

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series we’ve taken a look at why both “discipline” and “instruction” are essential to leading little ones. At a young age discipline needs to be established so that children understand boundaries, basic household rules and the order of good authority that God has placed in the home. We don’t discipline to punish, we discipline to shape, guide and create an environment for discipleship. When our homes have order, not fear or a punitive culture, the possibility to teach and instruct becomes a wonderful opportunity.

At the start of this series we used an acronym to make it memorable DTPL (G) – which pretty much means nothing other than Discipline, Teaching, Presence and Love (Grace). In Part 3 I want us to look at the third letter, P, which stands for “presence.”

In the Bible we find God revealed to us as “Father” and us his daughters and sons by faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit forms the fellowship of the church which is one big family of families with God himself being our head and leader. One of the things we find in both the Old and New Testaments, and throughout church history, is that God is present with his people. Consider this short smattering of verses to simply serve as a small illustration of the massive biblical theme of the presence of God:

Old Testament

  • God with our first parents in the garden (Genesis 1-2)
  • Sin as separation from God (Genesis 3)
  • Pillar of Fire, Cloud – God with and leading his people (Exodus 13, 14)
  • The ancient tabernacle – the presence of God among the people in the camp (Exodus 26)
  • Moses’ confidence was only if the presence of God went with the people (Exodus 33:12-16)
  • Promise of presence – I will be their God, they shall be my people (Ezekiel 37:15-28)
  • The Temple – where God’s presence dwelled (2 Chronicles 5)

New Testament

  • Jesus was called Emmanuel – God with us (Matthew 1)
  • The Word became Flesh – The Son of God dwelling/tabernacling with humanity as one of us (John 1:1-3, 14)
  • Jesus the New Temple (Mark 11)
  • The Church as a place of presence (Ephesians 2:11-22, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
  • The Communion Table as a place of presence and fellowship (1 Corinthians 10:14-22, Revelation 3:20)
  • He is with us in his mission (Matthew 28:18-20)
  • He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:4, 5)
  • The Kingdom of Heaven – The dwelling place of God in man (Revelation 21:3)

The promises of God are that he will be with us!!! His presence leads us, His presence assures us, His presence shows us love and grace, His presence guides us, His presence disciplines us, His presence convicts us and His presence allows us to trust his heart when we don’t understand our present circumstances.

I say all this to make one central point about parenting. The Fatherhood of God is an up close and personal reality for the believer. Parenting should be an up close, personal reality for families with kids.

Our kids need to know their Mom and Dad as they are discipled and taught. Parents should desire to win the hearts of their children when they are young, not lose them because we are always scurrying around for anything and everything. What I want to say next I want to say clearly but gently. Our culture has also bought into a stupid idea that if we can get “quality time” together then our families will be close, connected and fruitful. The problem is in our definition. The truth is that quality time IS quantity time. To know their Mommy and Daddy, children need to be with you and not simply for half an hour a week. If your kids don’t know your hearts, you will not have quality “forced quick time” with them. In fact, without time given to your kids, they will not want to be with you. As they get older, they will find better things to do than “quality time” with ole Mom and Dad. Fathers, be with your kids often and intentionally from the time they are young. I have two kids who are now in middle school and we are very close. Why? Because we have been since day one. I’ve made sure that I’m around for them.

We live in a world where we must work and work hard in the hustle and bustle of the east coast. Moms and Dads both are running hard and fast to juggle work, kids activities, schooling options and serving others in ministry and mission. Finding time to listen to kids, be into what they are into, to give focus to their faces and not to our phones is a huge challenge. DO IT! Without presence our voices grow small, our kids’ opinions of us weaken and our opportunity to be guides who give wisdom are diminished over time. A few quick ideas to close.

Finding a Place with Your Kids

Expose them to your Loves – when your kids are young do things that you love with them. Expose them to your heart, your hobbies and the quirkiness of what is uniquely you. It’s no coincidence that our kids like sports, reading books, audiobooks, country music (wife did that), marvel comic universe (not DC haters but it is superior), asking questions, sci-fi and fantasy movies.

Follow their Loves Fully – Your kids will take up interests of their own that you never cared for or wouldn’t choose yourself. Follow those interests any way. Play with LEGOS, ponies, trains named Thomas and cuties from the littlest pet shop. Read about dinosaurs and clone wars and talk about whether Yoda can really beat Vader. Listen to the musical instruments, listen to stories about fish caught with Grandpa and hear about the books you wouldn’t read and delight in their delight in these things. You might even learn to love something you previously hated…like soccer. ;-)

Listen, Listen, Listen – My daughters have more words than I could ever imagine. I’m there to listen to anything and everything. Yes, it takes patience and focus and sometimes it’s just hard for the old man to keep up, but I want to hear what’s going on with the kiddos. My son wants to talk about what dinosaur is the toughest and who would win in T-Rex vs Raptor fights. I’m in – I’m in to listen. This does mean putting down the phone and unplugging from work and social media to hear the hearts of your kids. If you are present, you can listen.

Do Stuff with them – We go to practices, school plays, movies, meals out together and all sorts of activities. Just this summer I’ve ridden roller coasters until I’m green with one and laid around and chilled with another just to spend some time together.

Apologize and Repent – Kids need to know you are sorry when you mess up and see your own repentance and faith in life. If you are distracted, working too much, ignoring your kids and simply there but not there with them…apologize, repent, do different. I’ve found that husbands and wives can help one another in seeing that one or the other needs time with the kids or a particular kid. You are not perfect, you’ll have your face in the phone too much. Just own it and move forward together. 

Debrief Life in the Moments God Supplies – There are moments in life where God gives time with the little ones to debrief, teach and exhort and encourage. After an emotional disappointment, after a disagreement with a sibling or another kid, after they’ve been told no about something, before a game or heading home from first day in school. There are precious moments that are teachable.

Being present with your kids early and often in life means that you have been through the ups and downs of the world of KIDdom so that you are a trusted and wise voice. Later on your little ones will hit many life transitions. They will go to school, hit puberty, transitions to middle, high school and college, deal with the drama of “dating”, choosing a spouse and maybe having their own kids. If you’ve been present in the game from the start you’ll have the potential of a relationship with them through it.

When my oldest hit her teen years we had a very clear re-definition of our relationship. I told her my role is shifting to being a guide as she makes more and more of her own choices. We have watched a lot of Bear Grylls’ Man vs Wild over the years so I gave her this metaphor. Life is like Bear hanging on a tree limb going down a white water rapid filled river. Because he is wise he knows the water flow that shows a boulder is under the surface or where deep swirling undertow currents reside. Life is like heading down that river. I’m just going to point things out to you as you are making your way. There’s a big rock coming up, watch out for that swirling eddy! You will make choices, I’m here to help as a guide who loves you. Trust my voice, I will trust yours. Let’s do this.

Be present my friends. God is here for us. He has placed us here for the little ones. Love them well.

Part four will focus on the L(G) or the Love/Grace function. The most important parenting principles of all. Until next time…stay in the game with your kids.