The Great Basketball Challenge

We all decided to go to the park.
Ross and I needed the walk, our three grandsons needed the space to release their energy, and our daughter and her husband were keen on some exercise. We took a basketball.
We left the house, crossed the road and wandered down the pathway into the park while the boys raced ahead and claimed the basketball court. 
Then the game was on!
When it came to teams, I think it was basically Joel (son-in-law) against the rest of us (actually, them – I was the cheer-squad).
Which was SO unfair – for the rest of them. Joel stands well over 10ft tall and his wingspan must be several meters in both directions. AND he broke all the rules .. well, that’s the way this Nanny saw it from the sideline 🙂
There was a lot of running, shouting, puffing and panting, and laughing.
Rachel, reliving memories from her High School Basketball days, was amazing with her defence, securing the ball many times, and landing some outstanding goals! Even Pa managed to impress his grandsons (and me) with a few awesome shots.
The boys, Zion, Rome and Knoxie gave the game 100% and just kept up momentum hounding their dad for that ball. But he was too fast, too big, too fit. (and maybe a tad competitive?)
But after a while, the boys’ enthusiasm began to wane. There was less laughter, and tears of frustration began to emerge. Little Knoxie wandered off to play on the slide, and few comments like “it’s not fair!” and “you cheated!” began to change the tone of play.
And then the game changed.
Joel, after showing his boys how it should be done, now got alongside them to show them it could be done. 
They’d experienced enough failure, now it was time to experience success.
He ‘let’ them snatch the ball from him, and lifted them up so they could succeed at throwing the ball in the goal. It’s amazing how the boys responded  – suddenly there was hope!
A new energy came from somewhere, and the game regained its enthusiasm with shouts of “Yesss!!” as ball after after ball landed through the hoop.  Finally light began to fade and it was time to go home for dinner.
As I looked over my not-so-clear photos later I thought about how much our family basketball game reflected God’s heart when it comes to the game of life.
God has specifically designed a life-purpose for each of us, and deposited gifts within us to help us achieve that goal.  He shows us how to play the game, and comes alongside to help us reach our potential.
He loves to watch us ‘have a go’. Although He doesn’t expect us to get it right every time, He does expect us to develop our gifts and bear fruit from the investment He has deposited in us.
He positions us amongst more experienced people – parents, grandparents, pastors, teachers, friends – so we can learn from those who have gone before. 
And He places us amongst peers – our  family, the Church – so that we can learn the value of teamwork, and experience the exhilaration of living for a cause greater than ourselves.
Family times.
Life lessons

“Stories we have heard from our fathers, counsel we learned at our mother’s knee. We’re not keeping this to ourselves, we’re passing it along to the next generation – God’s fame and fortune, the marvellous things He has done.”
(Psalm 78) 


Picasso Pa

Picasso Pa, by Zion Brave Bennett

Every parent asks their child the same question when they pick them up after school.
“How was school today?”
And every child gives one of two answers. 
“Good” or “Boring”. That’s it. Nothing more. End of story.
Then every parent follows up with a subsequent question.
“What did you learn today?”
To which every child answers, “Nothing.” Full stop. End of discussion.
Why we do this is, day after day after day, is something of a mystery. 
Yet we persist.
My daughter asks the same questions of her 6 year old son, and he answers with the same responses.
Until yesterday.
Yesterday was a day to go down in history.
No sooner had Rachel pulled the car in to the ‘Kiss-and-Drop’ zone (aka quick pickup lane) outside school, when Zion leapt into the car and blurted out,
“Guess what we learnt about today Mum!” She didn’t even have to ask THE question.
“You know, the painter guy, Picasso.”
Zion then proceeded to enlighten his mother about Picasso’s ‘Rose period’ and his ‘Blue period’ and other interesting Picasso facts all the way home. He was totally excited about the whole thing, and had even done a Picasso painting himself which is now on display in his classroom.
Later, when Rachel and the boys came over for dinner, Zion presented Ross with a portrait of his Pa.
A Picasso Pa.
Ross being an artist himself knows all about Picasso, so dinner conversation tended to centre on the works of Picasso.
Rachel and I smiled at each other. Wow, maybe we have another artist in the family – yes!! Can never have too many creative types in one family I say!
This morning I taped Picasso Pa onto Pa’s study door. 
Then I proceeded to check up on Picasso via the internet – thought I’d better keep up with my grandson’s education. And as it turned out, I was grateful that I did.
Interesting man, unique artwork, can’t say I agree too much with his religious or political beliefs, but I did appreciate some comments Picasso had made throughout his life.
Comments like,
                        “Every child is an artist. 
                        The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
                        “It took me four years to paint like Raphael,
                         but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
I love this revelation – a child has the ability to imagine, to wonder, to create, and to express life in such naive freedom. A child is spontaneous, open to new concepts, ready to try new things. 
I’m sure that’s what Jesus was getting at when He said,
                          “Don’t keep children away from me. Don’t ever get between 
                          them and me. These children are at the very centre of life in
                          the Kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s Kingdom
                          in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” (Mark 10:14-16, MSG)
The simplicity of a child. Openness, receptivity.
 Picasso said a couple of other things which also struck a chord.
                           “Others have seen what is and asked why.
                            I have seen what could be and asked why not.” 
And this,
                           “I am always doing that which I cannot do,
                            in order to learn how to do it.”
I love this too – Picasso striving to go beyond the expected, to stretch beyond boundaries, to explore possibilities, to uncover more of the potential within himself.
It seems this belief in himself, and this challenge to climb ever higher was fostered in his childhood . . .
                           “When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you become
                           a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll
                           be the Pope.’ Instead I became a painter, and wound up
                           as Picasso.”
Parents, grandparents, teachers, leaders what amazing opportunities we have to water seeds of greatness in those entrusted to our care for a season. Great movers and shakers of the future, doing their best to make a positive difference in their generation.
So, I’m grateful to Picasso.
Grateful he fired up my grandson’s imagination and inspired him to step outside the box and try something new.
Grateful he’s encouraged me to keep “doing that which I cannot do in order to learn how to do it.”
Grateful he’s reminded me to keep on watering seeds of greatness into the upcoming generations.
It might also surprise Picasso to know that he reminded me too of the fact that God Himself has planted those seeds of greatness in all of us – and that He loves to help us discover them and use them to make a difference in this world.

Picasso Bird, by Zion Brave Bennett.
Currently on exhibition in Grade 1JP classroom