Garage Ball

Yesterday we had the blessing of having family members in our home for a Thanksgiving meal and a time for fellowship. It was a wonderful day and the fact that no one has reported having food poisoning is always a blessing!

I am the “chef” of the house when we host holidays; it is nice to give my wife a break and I love doing it and she always contributes even in ways she does not know. I enjoy the challenge of making sure each recipe is just right and the timing is spot-on. You can relate—you want your home to be as close to perfect when you have people over. Note to self…next time make more gravy!

The best part of being busy in kitchen was listening to the conversations and laughter throughout our home. The people here were people we love and enjoy time spent with them. A particularly wonderful part of this year is that both of our grandsons were here. So, being Grandpa, I of course arranged the first Garage Ball “Turkey Bowl”. If you have never played Garage Ball it is an interesting activity. There are virtually no rules, except the ones you make up and change during the game. It involves the activities of wiffleball, bowling, frisbee golf, soccer, scavenger hunting, dodge ball, lots of running and anything else a participant wants to add in. Scoring is at the discretion of the senior official (me). I give style points—Tristan got some for an awesome bat flip and Oliver did a headbutt to a wiffleball that was ESPN highlight worthy!

Garage Ball is quite literally chaos, it is a lot of fun, but it is chaos! To play it with my two grandsons is a memory I will never forget, but the fun of the game had to end; we had to get back to the “real world”. I am thankful that both these boys have loving parents who give structure to their lives and limit the amount of chaos in their lives, well as much as you can for 3-year and 16-month old boys.

Structure and security of consistency is important in our lives. Hebrews 13:8 states, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” I find great comfort in that as I grow in my relationship with Him. God does not change. He does not change the rules. I do not have to guess about what I am to do. The stakes are high; this is about our eternity so it is not the time to play Garage Ball and make up our own rules—it is all laid out in the Bible and will never change.

By the way, as the senior official I had to declare a victor in this very close and hard-fought match. Oliver got the nod with consideration that he did not have the benefit of training camp like Tristan. Tristan was very gracious with this decision but demands a rematch!

2,019 in 2019

In January I accepted the challenge of 2,019 miles in the year 2019—this week I crossed that finish line and to my surprise I still have a month and a half! This challenge equates to 5.5 miles a day; 38.8 miles a week; 168.3 miles a month. I do not share this to boast (okay maybe a little bit) but rather to share the wonderful feeling you have when you accomplish a goal—when you finish the race. Yes, during that path there were struggles and pain, but this journey has been life-changing for me.

Some of these miles were accomplished doing a job where at times I felt my feet were going to protest and quit. Some were accomplished with training runs where I felt my whole body was going to protest and quit. Some were accomplished with people I love and admire in official races where I was so joyful and thankful to be part of the experience.

Reflecting on those 2019 miles the journey was quite interesting. I got to run the outfield warning track at Kauffman Stadium; finish on the 50-yard line at Arrowhead; share wonderful experiences with my wife Cilla who finished her first 10K and half-marathon; commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing dedicating it to my grandson Oliver; take my other grandson, Tristan, through the KC Zoo and complete the 23.2 mile Camelot run to honor his first birthday; carry a 50-pound jug of water for 6K with some dear brothers; and most recently conquered the hills of the KC Marathon to help provide safe drinking water to children in need.

In all these races I never crossed the finish line first; quite honestly, I was never even close. I always joke with myself in the long runs that the first-place finisher is home, showered, and having lunch before I even finish. But I run the best I can to receive the prize. But my prize is not a medal. My prize is to finish and most importantly to glorify God in what I am doing.

One aspect I cherish about running is I find it to be quality time with God. Yes, I pray a lot while running. Sometimes those prayers are for strength to get me through the challenge but most often I just have a conversation with God without the distractions of the world. The finish line I am striving for is the one of eternity. 2 Timothy 4:7 states, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

I am confident that someday I will cross that finish line with arms raised in victory and will hear “Well done good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:23)! There is no gold medal that even comes close—I pray that I will see you at that finish line!

Duct Tape

My Dad is never far from my heart or my thoughts—I miss him very much. This time of the year he is particularly on my mind as we remember his birth, reflect on God calling him home, celebrate the years he had with the love of his life, and as always honor the positive impact he had on everyone whose path he ever crossed.

I will never forget the lessons he taught me with Duct tape (and yes, for a long time I thought it was “duck tape”). In recent times I used this magical invention to fix heating vents, secure ceiling tiles, hold down carpet, secure a broken door lock, move a top-heavy object, make some electrical wiring safe, change the dimensions of a screwdriver, muffle a hammer, fix a computer monitor, and put up warning labels.

Duct tape seemingly does it all—and it does…for a time. As powerful as Duct tape is, its strength is not permanent. Eventually its adhesive power will fail because of the elements or just the decay of time. It does great at what it is intended to do, but it does not last forever.

I think we sometimes put Duct tape on the issues and challenges we face in life. We find something to cover them up and maybe even secure them for a time, but we neglect to go back to the root issue. therefore, the problem is not solved it is only delayed and will someday rear its ugliness and destruction in our lives.

That is why I seek permanency in my security. After many years of trying to find this through myself (along with many failures) I have learned for me I must rely on God’s grace and strength. I love Psalm 18 to remind me of His promise, if you have not read that recently I highly encourage you to do so. Just the first three verses of what David wrote is enough to give us that comfort, “I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.”

That is eternal Duct tape!

45-Degree Tilt

By now we have all heard of the dangers of texting and driving, yes that 45-degree head tilt is a dangerous idea while operating a vehicle at any speed. Yet, it seems like daily there is a tragic story of death, serious injury, and destruction because someone felt they could handle the 45-degree tilt. Guess what? We can’t! It is an unnatural physical position for the serious responsibility we take when we get behind the wheel. While we might get away with it for a while, I encourage all of us to not play against the odds and stop doing this unsafe behavior. Enough on that soap box.

There is another soap box I am going to get on and it also includes the dangers of the 45-degree head tilt, I call it “45-degree disengagement syndrome”. I have seen this in restaurants where people at the same table are engaged in their cell phones for a lengthy time; I am not talking about a minute to do something fun like “check-in” or posting a picture of your incredible steak dinner, but rather the focus is on the electronic device and not on the person sitting across from them.

I observe the 45-degree tilt in a most troubling way around the school I work at. Youth practice on an adjacent soccer field regularly and I see parents in their cars doing the 45-degree tilt totally oblivious to what their child is doing on the field (and yes, I understand some coaches might prefer this). But the point is, often when we employ the 45-degree tilt we are disengaging from people because of our self-interests.

Initially I thought this is a relatively new syndrome that can be blamed on the smartphone, tablet, or other electronic devices and even a generational trend. However, the more I thought about it the more I realized this is not new, we just have new delivery systems. Back in the “old days” newspapers, books, and table games with a block of wood and golf tees caused the 45-degree tilt. Yes, sometimes the old and new devices were the source of good conversation and laughter—and that is a good thing!

The issue is not generational or communication devices, the problem is the value we place on others when we engage them. Paul addresses this in Philippians 2:3 – 4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

When I value and look to the interest of others, my head must be at 0-degrees to be fully engaged with them; 45-degrees is engaged with myself.