Don’t Say A Word

Posted: June 10, 2015 in Change, Death, Faith, Friendship, Health, Life

So I’m not a big talker (and it’s been pointed out to me that I am not a big blogger, either).  This may sound strange because I have spent my entire adult life in radio, which kinda requires a certain level of talking.  Every Sunday I serve as my church’s “service host” where I get up and do announcements in the style of a late night talk show monologue.  Again, more talking.  On occasion, I’ll go through a fast-food restaurant drive-thru and that requires talking (I’ve tried not talking in a drive-thru, but found it’s not as effective, often very awkward and sometimes downright creepy.  My apologies to the one KFC where I have been banned).  The point is, I talk as much, if not more than most human beings, and yet I don’t always enjoy it.

I am not anti-talking.  I’m very much pro-talking.  Sometimes I think we talk, though, because we feel like we have to.  Because we are expected to.  Someone has a problem – I must tell them how to fix it.  Someone is struggling – I must tell them how to deal with it.  Someone has messed up – I must tell them how bad they messed up.  These things can have their place, but something that is often better than talking, is listening.  And listening is usually easier when you are not talking.

In the Bible there is this guy named Job.  Job suffers a lot.  A LOT.  Think of the worst stuff you could ever deal with … now multiply that by 100.  That’s Job’s deal.  If you’ve ever had a bad day and found yourself saying, “C’mon God – what did I do to deserve this?”  Read the book of Job, and you might find yourself saying, “Nevermind … no big deal.”  That’s not to minimize any pain or suffering you may be dealing with or have dealt with in the past.  It’s just perspective.

So if you are a friend or loved one of Job, what do you say to him?  What are the magic words to soothe him of the loss of his children?  What’s the quick you can provide to help with his finances?  What’s the motivational speech you give him for all the other awful stuff he had to endure?  Well, his wife did offer up the gem “Why don’t you curse God and die?” Which by the way, is probably not in the top ten things to say to say to suffering person. I’m going to guess it wasn’t helpful. Can you imagine that on one of those office motivational posters?

Let’s face it.  When someone we care about his suffering, we often feel like, “I have no idea what to say to them.”  Maybe there is a reason for that.

There is one moment in the story where it says Job’s friends sat with him for seven days and seven nights not saying a single word because they saw “he was in great pain.”  I don’t know if Job talked or spilled his guts, but it says that no one spoke a word to him.  It was the beautiful picture of solidarity that communicated, “We are here for you.  We support you.  We love you.” Without ever saying a word, they said plenty.

Our Own Worst Enemy

Posted: January 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

We could see it coming.  Every once in awhile when our son Evan plays sports there are times when you can see he can’t get out of his own head.  It’s usually when he makes a mistake or just not playing as well as he would like.  You can visibly see it on his face and body language … an almost pouty, passive, feeling “sorry for myself” vibe … and his play begins to reflect it.

He was in and out of that mode in this past Saturday’s basketball games.   With his team down by one and about 20 seconds left in the game, Evan stole the ball and went to the basket for what could be the game winning score and … missed.  But that’s not how it ended.  It got better and then …

It got worse.

A teammate fortunately got the rebound and was fouled.  He made one free throw to tie the game.  Whew! While his teammate was shooting those free throws, though.  We could see Evan pacing … stewing … beating himself up for missing the layup.  Julie and I each muttered to each other our frustration with his obvious focus on the basket he missed, rather than on what was happening in the present and that there was still time left in the game.

Obviously unfocused, Evan went ahead and fouled a player on the other team with just seconds to play.  Not to get all “basketbally” on you, but when the game is tied, you don’t intentionally foul the other team.  You only do that when you are losing.

When it hit him what he just did, he was devastated.  Tears in his eyes, he pulled his jersey up to cover his face. And it hurt more when the kid he fouled made a free throw to win the game.

We were heartsick for him.  And after some consoling, we were able to share with him this …

We can be our own worst enemy.  We sometimes make mistakes that we can’t forgive ourselves for.  So we stew on them.  And focus on them.  And we can let them define us – whether that is for a moment in basketball game or for a lifetime. Often times leading to making the same mistake or worse ones.  Focusing on your past mistakes can rob you of better things to come in the present and in your future.

Close My Mind and Open My Heart

Posted: January 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

Believe it or not I’m a thinker. I might not come across that way on the air. 🙂 But I process, I ponder … I think a lot. Maybe too much. Sometimes I think so much, that I worry. Sometimes to the point of complete pre-occupation with these thoughts. Almost paralyzing me. And at night … oh boy, when my mind starts going at night, I can forget getting a good night’s sleep.

Maybe you can relate to wanting your brain to shut off. To stop thinking so much. To stop worrying so much.

Yesterday I was in the process of thinking my way into a major migraine, when I said something that was basically a prayer to God.

“Clear My Mind and Open My Heart”

Help me get out of my own way and open myself up to what you, God, want me to hear.

It was simple and it worked.

You Matter

Posted: January 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

I recently caught up with an old friend and he was showing me around his workplace. I noticed on some of the walls and even hanging from the ceiling were signs that read something so simple, yet so valuable … they said:

“You Matter”

I got a chance to ask his boss why they had those signs up. He said they wanted to affirm everyone who worked there, regardless of their position or stature within the company, that they were important. Their role was valuable. They make a difference.

Not only what you DO matters; But YOU Matter.

Whether it is your role in your workplace or what you feel like your place in the world is, you do matter. You are valuable. You do make a difference.

What Motivates You?

Posted: July 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

So I was thinking about what motivates us?  I was talking to someone the other day about different coaches we’ve encountered.  A friend was saying they had one as a kid that just beat him up.  Rarely said a good thing and very little encouragement.  He was scary and the friend played in fear that every mistake would result in being chewed out or a trip to the bench … or worse, being kicked off the team.

The friend tried to take the high-road and said, “well, it wasn’t fun, but it motivated me to try to do better.”  They sounded like a whipped, abused puppy.  I said to him – “give me a coach that values me, builds into me and encourages me and I’ll run through a wall for them.”  I know they got my back and I want to do my best, because I know they believe in me.

The world is full of great coaches who could run great practices, create great plays and teach you how to swing a bat or shoot a free-throw.  How many times do we hear of the coach that “lost his team”, because he made the players feel like garbage?  Those coaches, based on their skills, may often have a level of success, but you generally don’t see them hoisting trophies at the end of the season.  The way they motivate is all wrong.

I’m all for being pushed by coaches to do better.  I’m not saying it’s all pats on the back and high-fives.  But being motivated by fear is not a super healthy atmosphere.  It’s like people who only accept Jesus because they don’t want to go to Hell.  It’s a pretty good reason, but if that’s it your entire view of God and relationship with Him is based on fear, probably isn’t super healthy either.  You are also missing out on the best parts, too.

Motivating by fear will only get you so far.  Being motivated by fear will only get you so far.  And in both cases, the place you eventually get to isn’t so great.

The takeaway?  If you are a coach, forget that … if you are a human being, build into people and value them. You want to get the best out of people, show them you care enough to invest in them in a positive way.  Nobody loses with that type of motivation.

My Valentine to Olivia

Posted: February 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

This is the Valentine’s Day note I wrote for my 11-year-old daughter Olivia.  I’m not one to normally share personal notes, but as I wrote it I thought others might get something out of the note, too.  Not as a message coming from me, but as a reminder that you are valuable.  

My Precious Pip [that’s one of many nicknames I have for Olivia] –

Everyday I try to say to you, “Do you know what happened today?  You got prettier!”  I also try to ask you, “Do you know how much I love you?”  To which you reply, “Yes”.

I hope you know, more than anything else how much I love you and how much God loves you!

You are more than beautiful – you are smart, funny and talented.  But above all of that – You Are Valuable!

As life goes on, never settle for anything or anyone that does not see how special and valuable you are.  God has great plans for you and I’m excited to watch you grow.  The years to come will bring about lots of changes and ups and downs, but just know I will always be there for you … seeing you get prettier everyday and loving you always!

Your first Valentine,

Dada

My precious Pip and her Pup

My precious Pip and her Pup

 

I love sports.  For those that know me, that’s not a surprise at all.  As tempting as it is to write about Tim Tebow (because there seems to be a huge void of writings on Tim Tebow … frankly, I’m worried that the guy might be underexposed, but what can ya do)  I figured most people would be more interested in a retired baseball they probably never heard of.

As big of a baseball fan that I am, I can honestly say I didn’t remember the brief career of Ben Petrick.  I just learned of him last week when reading ESPN the Magazine and their “Next” issue.  The main purpose of the “Next” issue is to highlight athletes they believe are going to be the next big stars in sports.  About 10 – 12 years ago, Petrick may have been a candidate for the “Next” issue, but not today.

Petrick was a star high school baseball player and football player.  In his senior year, he scored 24 touchdowns on his way to leading his team to the Oregon state high school football title.  That same year he was also named Oregon’s baseball player of the year.  He was so good in football, that many pro baseball teams – fearful he might go to Arizona State to play football – passed on him in the first round.  The Colorado Rockies would draft him in the second round, with the Rockies GM saying his talent had “no ceiling”.

He was called a “5-tool player” – meaning he excelled at all 5 phases of the game (hit for power, hit for a high batting average, field, run and throw).  His main position of catcher is usually associated with someone slow of foot, but Petrick was such a tremendous athlete he could also play centerfield (arguably a position best suited for someone fast).

When he finally made the big league team, Petrick would not disappoint.  Called up at the end of the season from the minors, in 19 games, he’d hit 4 home runs and bat .323.  If you don’t know baseball – those are great numbers.

So you might be surprised that his career only lasted 240 games over the course of about 5 seasons in the big leagues.  His promising career wasn’t cut short by drugs or even by a knee injury.  It was Parkinson’s.

He discovered he had the disease just after his first full season with the Rockies.  He wouldn’t disclose it (not even to teammates and managers) until after he retired in 2004.  In between, Petrick would take medication to control the spasms in his hands and legs.  After awhile, Parkinsons took it’s toll on Petrick’s performance.  The Rockies would trade him to the Detroit Tigers, where he only played 43 games before being released.  After a short minor-league stint with the San Diego Padres organization, Petrick would call it quits.

You hear his story and it’s quick to think that it just seems unfair for a person, so young, to have a promising career taken away. Petrick would say the initial disappointment would shake him.  He would say that he left Portland as high school superstar and the envy of people; he returned as a man in his mid-twenties pitied by people.

It’s natural to have a deep sense of loss – even fear – when something is taken away from you.  When you can no longer do the things that you love.  When you can no longer do the thing that defined you.  You can let your trials and difficulties now define you.  And Petrick did.

And that’s not always bad if you don’t let it keep you from moving forward and finding purpose in that pain.  And Petrick did.

In the years right after his retirement, Petrick got married to his high school sweetheart (who he initially thought wouldn’t be interested in marrying him given his Parkinson’s).  Become a dad. He’s helped with his old high school football and baseball teams.  He writes a blog called Faith in the Game (with a book on the way).  And he’s become active in Parkinson’s causes.

Petrick puts it well when he says, “Each day I get a little stronger about being weaker.”

And with that, Petrick is poised to be the Next superstar in a much bigger place than a baseball field.

 

Happy New Year!  I’ve never been one for New Year resolutions.  Not that I have anything against them or have had issues keeping them – I just haven’t done them much.  Over the last couple of years I’ve done the “one word”-thing – where one word represents a particular focus you have for the year.  I’ll probably do that again this year, too.

That’s not to say there are not some things I want to accomplish this year. On the contrary, there are a number of things I’d like to do this year.  So instead of presenting it like a “resolution” – I thought I would make a 2012 “to-do” list.  I feel like I generally do well with to-do lists, so here it goes …

– Blog three times a week

– Run two 5K’s

– Go on more dates with my wife – about 4-6 of them

– Eat healthier, including some sort of green vegetable somewhat regularly (that’s for you, mom)

– More quality time with my son Evan – and quality for Evan involves quantity

– Lower my cholesterol

– Be more focused in my spiritual life (I know that’s vague, but it makes sense to me)

– Become “handier” learn or teach myself on how to build or fix at least a handful of things

– Dub all our old video camera tapes on DVD and/or hard drive

– Do some sort of family mission or outreach trip together (could be local)

– Go on 3-4 dates with my daughter Olivia

– Be more selfless

– Read 4 books

– Save money

– Give more

 

… that’s a good start.  I plan on making a copy of this blog and schedule it to post sometime in June, to give me a mid-year check and to have an additional copy of this post to go live on 12/30/12 to see how I did this year.

 

It must be a subconscious reflex this time of year, but the other day I found myself beginning a sentence by saying, “‘Tis the season …” As I was saying that, it hit me that ‘Tis the season to say, “‘Tis the season.”

I mean, I never found myself in July saying, “‘Tis the season for fireworks”.  Or in February saying, “‘Tis the season for  groundhogs to see their shadows.”

I’m not sure, but I think “‘Tis” is just a fancy way of saying “It’s”, right?  You might want to try throwing in a ‘Tis every once in a while to impress someone.  Add “season” in there, too, instead of saying “time.”  Something like …

‘Tis the season to eat some curly fries.  Or ‘Tis the season for a colonoscopy (which by the way, would make the world’s worst Christmas carol).

It got me thinking of how there are a number of things we say around Christmas that we rarely, if ever, say other times of the year …

Holly Jolly – as in, “have a holly jolly Christmas”.  Every once in a while, you may hear a fat, happy guy described as ‘jolly” outside of Christmas, but not too often – unless you are talking about Santa.  It’s like they came up with a nice way of telling Santa he’s chubby.  So I’m not really sure what “holly jolly” could mean, but I know it’s positive otherwise we wouldn’t wish someone to have a “holly jolly” Christmas.  After a football game, I’d love to hear a burly linebacker (a jolly linebacker, if you will) say, “That was holly jolly sack of the quarterback!”

Merry – Other than the phrase, “eat, drink and be merry”, we only say “merry” at Christmas time.  We don’t say “Merry Birthday” or “Merry New Year” or even “Merry Holidays”.  Everything else is “happy” – only Christmas is merry, apparently.

Hustle and Bustle – Other times of the year we are busy or life is hectic.  At Christmas time there is “hustle and bustle”.  I mean, it does make things sound so much more charming and festive to say, “hustle and bustle”, right?  Try this sentence for instance …

Remember to help the poor during the “hustle and bustle” of the holiday!

Or …

Remember – to help the poor during the insane free-for-all of maniacs fighting over parking spaces at the mall and leg wrestling a lady at Toys ‘R Us over a Barbie.

Hustle and bustle, right?  Not only does it economize words, but it also romanticizes your psychotic tendencies this time of year.  That’s a win-win.

So why does Christmas almost have its language?  I blame Christmas carols – which is really a topic for another day.

In the meantime, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season have yourself a merry, little, holly jolly Christmas … ’tis the season, ya know.

Disclaimer – To be safe, if you under the age of 12 please don’t read this.  Or at least, get your parents permission first.  And you really shouldn’t be on the internet without your parents permission anyway.  And don’t do drugs and stay in school.

“I just want you to tell me the truth!”

“Mom – just tell me the truth!”

“I know he’s not real … just tell me.”

These were just a few things my son Evan said to my wife Julie the other night.  More like passionately pleaded to my wife Julie.  She said he almost had tears in his eyes.

Within the Christian community, I know there are some people who are anti-Santa.  After all, you play Scrabble with his name and you get “Satan”.  And most axe-murderers will tell you that their path to destruction all started because they were led to believe in Santa.

As you can probably tell, I’m not in the anti-Santa crowd.  But I do respect those who choose not to include St. Nick in their celebrations.  And my point in this blog is to not debate or sway you one or other, anyway.  My point is that I grew up with Santa, Julie did, too.  We haven’t had a faith crisis as a result of believing in Santa.  We never had trust issues with our parents because they “lied” to us about the fat guy in the red suit and white beard.  Again, that’s an argument someone else can have.

At some point you stop believing.  I honestly can’t remember when or how this happened with me.  I know it was relatively early in my life – maybe 2nd or 3rd grade?  But it obviously was not traumatic, because I have no emotional scars.  I’ve heard stories from other people that learning that Santa and the reindeer don’t actually bring the presents was a very difficult thing.

With both our kids, we always knew that with each year it could be the last year for Santa.  If you’ve done the Santa thing – you know it’s fun.  What’s not to love about lying to your kids and deceiving ’em?  Am I right or am I right?  (that was sarcasm, by the way).

Evan is 11.  For the last few years we kind of figured he “knew”, but was playing along.  He’s asked questions for a few years now.  Usually, Julie was the lucky one to be on the receiving end of those questions.  To add a a degree of difficulty to the questions, he would ask in front of his younger sister – who couldn’t believe more in Santa if she were an elf!

His interrogation of Julie the other night was the latest inquisition.  In the past, Julie would typically reply to him, “Well, what do you think?”  He typically said he thought he was real or he wasn’t sure, but he rarely pushed it.

The other night was different.  Julie said there was an urgency.  She said it was his direct request to know “the truth” that killed her.  With Olivia present, she said that they could talk about it another time.  But in Julie’s eyes and heart – it was time.

That’s where Dad came in, AKA – “Santa Killer”.  When I got home from work, Julie said, “You have to tell him.  He was drilling me with questions last night in front of Olivia.  When he gets home from school, you should tell him.”

Given that he is 11.  Given that I’m sure the majority of his classmates “don’t believe”.  Given his line of questions, I figured there might be some disappointment, but mostly a shrug of his shoulders, like – “I kind of figured.”

What happened?  Well, it was like I killed Santa.  It hurt and it hurt bad!!!!

“I really didn’t want to know!!”

“So he’s not real?”

“That was my favorite part of Christmas!”

“I’ve ruined Christmas!  I wish I wasn’t so curious!”

For a few hours (yes, hours) there was some mourning.  There was crying.  There was a sense of loss.  And if I could’ve taken it all back, I would have.  It was heartbreaking.

Like a lot of things in life – we know, but we really don’t want to know.  We thought he wanted confirmation that Santa wasn’t real; instead he wanted reassurance that he was.  Because if we told him Santa was real, it was okay for him to still believe and enjoy the magic of Santa.

Because Santa is fun.  There is something fun about the fairytale aspect to it.  It’s fun for kids, but it’s fun for parents too.  And so that’s why we also dreaded the day of no more Santa.  That’s why there was a sense of loss for us, too.  We know it’s just a matter of time before Olivia joins this club, too.

But here’s the cool thing Santa-haters … it did also provide an opportunity.  Julie, the brains of the operation, swooped in when I was at a loss for words and reminded Evan – that Santa and Christmas trees and presents and reindeer are all fun, but Christmas has been and always will be about Jesus.  That will never change.  And we just don’t celebrate Him for a day or for a season.

So the other “stuff” of Christmas is fun.  And yes, it can get out of balance or distract us.  But the reality is we do things everyday that have the potential to get us out of balance or distract us – it doesn’t necessarily make those things bad. Birthday parties, movies, TV shows, people, work … everything … can take our focus off of Christ, but chances are you’ll still do those things.  And that’s okay, unless they do take you some place you shouldn’t be.

As corny as it sounds, we really do need to “celebrate” Jesus everyday of our lives

Side-note for anyone who will ever have the “Santa talk” – having this kind of conversation is kind of like breaking up with someone.  You really should prepare for anything.  Will they take it well and be fine with just being friends?  Or will they go completely psycho on you?  You should be ready for both … just in case.  Um, yeah.  We thought a shrug … it was more like weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Oh … and think timing, too.  I’m guessing this would have been an easier and better conversation if this happened on December 26th … or July 26th … or if someone else told him.  You know, hear it on the streets.  That’s what I’m planning on when it comes to the “birds and bees” conversation.  I’m kidding.  That actually might be an easier conversation, though.