Published by Kelly Wilson on 17 Aug 2021

Volleyball and Christianity: Keys to One helped me with Keys to the Other

I really enjoyed the Olympic games this year. I was on the edge of my seat on so many occasions. Simone Biles, choosing wholeness over possible self-harm do to the twisties. Alyson Felix showing the power of hard work and the pride of motherhood. I loved seeing how the US Women’s Indoor Volleyball Team worked as a true team, stepping up with different players when injury struck. They continued to fight through the tournament to become Gold Medalists.

These moments reminded me of watching Olympic Volleyball during the 2016 Games. Back then I was viewing with a specific purpose. I watched intensely because I was having the privilege to coach my daughter’s fifth-grade volleyball team that year. Ironically, I am a short lady, and I hadn’t played volleyball since Junior High. But our school needed a third coach because a large number of girls wanted to play that year, so I grabbed the opportunity to serve and share the experience with my daughter and her buddies.

I watched every indoor and beach match, I could, whether male or female to try to figure out what would be the keys for our students to have a productive and enjoyable season.

And I prayed, asking God to make the keys to volleyball success obvious and allow me to communicate them to fifth graders well. At some point He gave me some patterns that made sense. The following is what we had to do:

  1. Serve well.
  2. Return well.
  3. And volley as a team.

I spent weeks talking these concepts with our team, over and over. We would repeat them every practice. With support from many other parents, we taught them specific skills. If we served tough, at that level of volleyball the other team wouldn’t be able to easily return the serve and we could score lots of points. In many causes we could “ace” the opposing team, as they couldn’t return the serve at all. But in contrast, if we could return “tough” the serves of our opponents well, then we could keep them from scoring “aces” and potentially score a point if we volleyed the ball as a team. For us, that meant – obviously getting the ball over net in three hits or less – but also knowing who should be doing what and how to place the ball so that we could score points while having fun doing so.

These simple keys helped us have an outstanding season. Despite many twists and turns, we made it to the Championship Game. Though we were underdogs we ended up with the “silver medal” losing by one point in the third set to a team who was a local powerhouse.

This year, God brought my faith to my mind as I watched Volleyball. I kept wondering if there were three simple keys that could help believers grow and develop like our three volleyball priorities helped us. After some prayerful pondering, here are three for your consideration:

  1. Read the Word (your Bible) every day.
  2. Do what it says.
  3. Be regularly integrated into a community of believers.

I think these are even stronger than the ones we used for the fifth-grade season.

Start by reading the Bible every day. The majority of believers who live in the United State are fortunate to have access to the Bible in its entirety. We can easily read or listen to the very Word that God has given to us as His set of instructions and inspiration for a godly life. And because there are so many other voices speaking to us daily from so many vantage points and motivations – we really need to hear from our Creator daily to get “tuned” to His voice. My routine is to read in the morning before I do anything else. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me understand what I am about to read so that the Words can give me life and whatever God wants me to have in that moment. I am a huuuugee fan of the One Year Bible ( and use it, but know this might not be everyone’s cup of tea. I would say that each of us has 5-7 minutes that we can take to read at some point in each day. May I suggest beginning in the Gospel of Matthew. Pray and then set the timer on your phone for seven minutes. After you finish, put a bookmark where you ended. Maybe take a moment to ask God what He wants you to carry forward and then you are prayerfully ready for the next task of your day. Pick up the next day where you left off reading so that you can read in context for greater understanding.

(Read through all four Gospels and then the book of Acts and you will have daily connection to the time when Jesus was walking the earth, what he said and did, and also you will learn in Acts about the early church and the move of the Spirit of God in it. If you are ready to read other parts of the Scripture that is fantastic and if you want to stay in the Gospels, there is great benefit to doing so.)

Once we begin to know what the Bible says, we should make it our practice to do what it says. God’s Words give us the information to live lives that are meaningful, productive, and have measures of peace and joy, even in challenging times. And maybe most importantly the Scriptures lead us eternal life, which is the wonderful life that last forever with God, after life on this earth is complete. 

I suspect obeying God’s instructions in the Bible are like when a child obeys a good-godly parent’s instructions. Toddlers, children, teens and young adults, grow and learn as we get rewarded and corrected. We gain self-control and honor the instructions that are set out for our good. By God’s grace we mature into well-functioning people who have lives that we are glad to have. Of course, there are stutter steps and wipe-outs along the way, but these are part of the process. Thankfully we can ask for help from the Holy Spirit, and He will do so, especially when we have a heart and desire for obedience to our Lord.

The last thing is to be actively engaged in a community of believers. Ideally, that is your church home. Or maybe this is more accurately described a small group with the larger church. It could be a Bible study group, your family members or a handful of faith-filled friends who do life together. These communities of believers will help you remain accountable to do the first two things and these relationships are going to give you opportunities to expand in your knowledge and experiences. Importantly, the people in your community of believers will ask you to pray about things and they will pray for you about things. Candidly, some of the encounters with them will likely force you to pray because you may become frustrated or annoyed. Prayer will be a natural outgrowth of being actively engaged in relationship with other believers.

Another great benefit is just the joy of having people to live life with; it is beneficial to be with folks who are headed in the same “heavenly” direction.

For many of us, Autumn is volleyball season for school-based athletics. The next time you see a match, I hope you will cheer for your favorite team and be reminded of the above three keys to growing in Christ that were cultivated from a special silver-medal volleyball season. If you would like additional tools on how to thrive in your life from Christian worldview, please visit

Published by Kelly Wilson on 30 Mar 2021

Women’s history, Easter & the phrase Ride or Die… what?

It’s the end of Women’s history month and I have been greatly blessed. Candidly, this is the first year that I have proactively celebrated and it has been a joy. I have seen many unique intersections and I’d like to share them and encourage you to keep celebrating and connecting beyond March.

As I heard and shared stories of women across cultures making great contributions to their communities and to the world, I want to become a more effective leader and collaborator.

One story was about a woman who born as Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867, on a Louisiana plantation. This daughter of former slaves transformed herself from an uneducated farm laborer and laundress into the first Black woman millionaire in this country.

Known as Madam C. J. Walker, she was orphaned at age 7, married at age 14, and widowed at age 20. Laboring as a washerwoman for almost twenty years for $1.50 per week, she discovered a much-needed product – a hair care formula that would change her life and the lives of many others.

Part of Sarah’s transformation happened as she was mentored in St Louis, MO by the Women’s Mite Society of St. Paul AME Church. (Mite stands for the widow who gave all in the Bible, Mark 12:41-44.)  Friendships with these and other members of St. Paul A.M.E. Church along with members of the National Association of Colored Women exposed her to a new way of viewing the world.

The above illustrates that the celebration of women doing great things and coming together is not only a global social concept, but it is a “Kingdom” concept. God greatly blessed Madam CJ Walker through relationships with women.

Ironically, as the Easter season is nearing, women’s history is woven into the Resurrection account.

Here is some of the backstory… There was a group of smart, resourceful influential and now healthy, women who were part of Jesus’ ministry team. They get a shout-out in Luke 8:1-3 (NET)

Some time afterward he {Jesus} went on through towns and villages, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and disabilities: Mary (called Magdalene), from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Cuza (Herod’s household manager), Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their own resources.

These same women are people He blessed and they blessed and served with Him in Return. They were devoted until the very end. In today’s vernacular they might be considered “ride or die.” And though this phrase is very descriptive, I have to say upfront that I really dislike it. But I will come back to that.

This core-group of women, unlike some of His male disciples, remained at the cross through the heartbreaking moments of His death.

Now when it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. But Jesus cried out with a loud voice and breathed his last. And the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, {who oversaw the execution} who stood in front of him, saw how he died, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

“There were also women, watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they had followed him and given him support. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were there too.” It seems that they are united by their love for Jesus and for one another. Mark 15:33, 37-39, 40-41 NET

Not only do they remain connected to Him, they remain connected to one another and plan to offer a final act of service, which is to prepare His body for a proper burial.

Because of the strong customs of their day, this process is interrupted by the mandatory rest of “Holy Days.” But before the interruption comes they follow another believer in Christ is see where the body is taken.

Mark 16:1-11 (NET) describes what happened next.

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought aromatic spices so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, at sunrise, they went to the tomb. They had been asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”

{Don’t you love how practical they are?}

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled back. Then as they went into the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has been raised! He is not here. Look, there is the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples, even Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” Then they went out and ran from the tomb, for terror and bewilderment had seized them. And they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

The gospel of John completes the story with these verses…John 20:11-18 (NET)

But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she bent down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting where Jesus’ body had been lying, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Mary replied, “They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have put him!” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” Because she thought he was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him.” 20:16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni” (which means Teacher). 20:17 Jesus replied, “Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 20:18 Mary Magdalene came and informed the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what Jesus had said to her.

Because of her faithfulness, Mary of Magdala, was given a great privilege of being the first person to see Jesus after He had come back to life. She was also one of the first to get to share the story of that good news with her friends; the sisters and the brothers. What an honor!

But let’s go back to this phrase “ride or die.” My 15-year old daughter is a great blessing in my life. We do lots of things together. Once while I was driving her to school, she asked if I was her ride or die. I told her in a way I was, but then I asked why do we have to have death as an option. We are going to live. We would be each other’s Ride & Live. The ladies above are definitely Ride & Live!

As I close this out, here are the intersections that I see:

  • So many of the women I learned about in March 2021, were making their contributions out of great need and great love. This fueled them to do amazing things. Just like Mary Mag, Joanna, Salome, Mary the mother of Jose, etc. So let your great need and great love lead you to do likewise.
  • Just like modern day women, these great women found a way to be supporters of one-another. They taught, helped, championed for each other. Young and Old. Free and Bond. Poor and Rich. Healthy and not Healthy. And Across Cultures. Let’s be like that.
  • Make sure that you thank and celebrate the people who are your Ride & Lives (Koah, Gerri, Tanya, ReShay, Mom Wanda, my nieces, the Bible Study Ladies, my cousins, etc, etc, etc.)
  • If you don’t have a community of women who are secure enough in themselves and Christ, to be able to have affirming relationships, please pray and begin to build one.
  • Lastly, never forget that Jesus is your for real, Ride & Live. He died so He could be that for you.

Published by Kelly Wilson on 17 Jan 2021

The Original Deception

Last Sunday morning (1/10/21) I urgently searched Google for sermons from Pastors that I loved and respected to hear a sermon or talk about the events that happened in our Nation’s Capital on January 6, 2021. But sadly I did not find what I was looking for. My own pastor said that he wouldn’t talk about the events that weekend. I was sad and disappointed and asked God for comfort and perspective. At some point in the week God reminded me of a passage in Genesis. It was the one where “the fall” occurs; the one where Eve is deceived and Adam chooses to eat the fruit with her.

I studied that passage trying to understand what happened to the pair, trying to understand how deception happens to me, trying to understand how so many people in our nation and around the world have been affected by deceptions.

I shared what I seeing with the small Bible study group of women that I have the honor to lead, and again with another group of younger women. I am now sharing these thoughts with you, just in case you too, are hoping to have some perspective from the word of God.

This is long passage… but worth reading so you have context. It begins with Adam and Eve in the garden. Maybe it was just a typical day, but life would never be the same. (Maybe Wednesday 1/6/21 started as a typical day. You went to work or school or were at home doing your regular tasks, but for some people, their lives will never be the same.)

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

11 “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”

12 The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” 13 Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?”

“The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

14 Then the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live.15 And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strikeyour head, and you will strike his heel.”

16 Then he said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”

17 And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains.19 By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”

20 Then the man—Adam—named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who live.21 And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife. Genesis 2:1-21 NLT

This is a chilling event in the history of the world. If I were to try to summarize it I might say.

Adam and Eve had a deep relationship with God at first. Because of His love, He had given them freedom of choice, but also given them rules to live by that were for their good.

But an enemy deceived them, by creating doubt about God’s rules and His character. Was God holding out on them by not allowing them to eat from every tree? Was He is not giving them the best by sharing only good and withholding evil?

Eve believed the deception, and disobeyed God. And Adam, who could have maybe said, “no thank you Eve, my Love, I’m not going to disobey,” sadly did not, and he too ate of the forbidden fruit.

Because God is loving and just, He allowed all of the parties to live with the consequences that He had given in advance. He was merciful though. Adam and Eve would eventually die, they would return to dust. The enemy would eventually be defeated – but the resurrection of Christ. And death did come immediately into the world, to the animals, which were slaughtered for their skins, so that Adam and Eve would have clothing.

As I read and re-read this passage I am struck at the two large deceptions the enemy used:

1.  Encouraging people to believe that the truth is actually a lie.

2.  Encouraging people to believe that a lie is actually the truth.

The devil in the form of a snake, told the couple that they would not die, if they disobeyed God’s directive. He convinced them that the truth of God’s word was a lie.

He also put forward a lie, and persuaded them that it was the truth. The snake said, you will be like God, knowing good and evil. He made evil seem like a good thing to know. And they believed his lie, as truth.

As I think of my life, I have gotten myself into some of the hardest and most painful moments when I fell into deception. I am praying that I will be more vigilant in seeking the truth of God’s Word and insight from the Holy Spirit.

For those who stormed the capital, I am afraid that you were deceived. Even if you thought your cause was just, your approach was not. Sadly I have heard very few believers speak about this matter.

Deception was the instigator of the fall, which separated human beings from perfect fellowship with our Creator. And nothing but an acknowledgement of the truth, will open the door to redemption. Then and today…

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