Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Two Recommendations in the Four Christmas Gift Challenge: Sports and Spirituality Style

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be behind us, but the sales and attempts to draw our cash or credit cards online or in line at the brick and mortar have not waned one bit. The Christmas Season is code for retail's most wonderful (and important) time of the year. How can we navigate such tempting waters? How should we? 

I believe the "Four Gift Christmas Challenge" is a viable answer; it is a channel in the sea of consumerism. When I first wrote about the Challenge two years ago, the program was gaining ground. People realize that material gifts do not make us happy. Our endless pursuit to find the perfect one is short-sighted of the true meaning of Christmas. Limiting what we receive to just four gifts, may still be a sign of abundance for many people in the world, but for so many others, it's a thoughtful way to frame how, what and why we give. 

Though I appreciate the brilliance of my friend Eileen who told her son, "
Jesus received three gifts, so you will too."I would like to make a proposal to keep four. This posting will serve as a reflection and suggestion on two of them.

What to wear: Though every last part of me digs new gear—golf skirt, baseball cap, I would love a San Francisco Giants jersey (for women), the latest in all things ND, when it comes to the "Four Gift Christmas Challenge" one of the more exciting and creative ideas pertains to My Cleats, My Cause.

I want to and plan to write a posting dedicated to this very topic. For now, I will share what I learned thanks to my seniors in Sports and Spirituality. 

If you notice some colorful shoes out on the gridiron on Sunday it's all part of an awareness movement called "My cause, My cleats." 
Some 1,000 NFL players will lace up customized cleats reflecting their charitable endeavors tomorrow as part of the league's "My Cause My Cleats" campaign. 
After the game, the shoes will be auctioned off to raise money for the charities.
Green Bay Packers Defensive End Mike Daniels' shoes are for the "No Bullying Zone" and Running Back Ty Montgomery's are for "Eye Heart World." 
Even number twelve himself is getting in on the fun. Aaron Rodgers posted a pic to Instagram on Saturday saying even though he isn't playing today, he still wants to honor the inspiration he finds in the athletes of the Special Olympics. 
Week 13 is the only weekend that players don't have to worry about the league flagging them for fines over their footwear.
While it would be wonderful to purchase the very cleats that NFL players don this coming Sunday, my sense is that even Santa sets limits. However, a fun and creative gift need not be the shoes, but the supplies to enable any athlete to transform their cleats to a canvas for their own cause. Not artistic? Find a friend. This need not be a project an athlete create alone. Teams can work together to paint, decorate, and design shoes that demonstrate their passion, unique interests, and dreams for a better tomorrow. 

Now that's something to wear!

What to read: Parents, this one is for you. My friend John Acquaviva (one of the best last names ever), who holds a PhD in exercise science is a professor at Wingate University in Charlotte, the father of four children and radio host of Radio Maria's "Faith and Fitness" and the author of "Raising Kids with a Healthy Body Image: A Guide for Catholic Parents." I hope the review I wrote on Amazon offers you more insight into this wonderful resource. 
"Raising Kids with a Healthy Body Image: A Guide for Catholic Parents." is a beautiful text that handles a topic that is more important than most people probably know. As a high school teacher and a coach, I am acutely aware of how much our society is sending messages other than developing a healthy body image. Truly, this quest can feel at times, countercultural. The question that arises is how parents, family members, teachers and others can bring young people safely through these turbulent waters. 
Acquaviva's writing is a ministry of the Catholic Church. His knowledge of the faith is rich, vibrant, pastoral and realistic. He references St. John Paul II's "Theology of the Body" but not exclusively. For those who are familiar with the late Pope's teaching, Acquaviva's information enhances his messages. For those who are unfamiliar, the teaching only enriches the text. And, I appreciate the context he gives for the role of faith in addressing the issue—at its best, to support, inform and guide. 
Each chapter breaks down an important question and topic as related to Body Image. I value the author's usage of Scripture or a quote from a saint to frame the unit. I was left with an increased appreciation for the body, a gift that is indeed sacred and yet at risk, worth protecting and praiseworthy.
One section, in particular, has stayed with me. "The Truth that Heals: Wise words from scripture, saints and scholars" includes the story of Vinicio Riva. You may not recognize the name, but you will remember his face. His story to be the subject of my next posting. 

One need not give a person a material object like a book to read, but I do believe during the season when we celebrate the Incarnation—the Word made flesh, a tangible gift inclusive of the word (lower case "s") is a worthy one. Perhaps that wise man bringing something to read got caught talking to someone along the way....that's what happens when we read. We need to share the word. What a wonderful idea to pray with this Advent and Christmas.

And while you're at it. talk to other parents and people about the "Four (or Three) Gift Christmas Challenge." I have a feeling it can help keep the Christ in Christmas....

Photo Credits
4-Gift Challenge

My Cleats, My Cause


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