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I Saw The Future

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I saw the face of God yesterday. And I cried like a baby for a full thirty minutes.

My precious SD, throughout the last 15 years I’ve sat through countless ballet and dance recitals, choir performances, award shows, graduations, and a plethora of other events you’ve been a part of. Yesterday, as I sat watching your high school Christmas Show, the first fifteen years of your life flashed before me. Dancing you to sleep late at night as an infant. Your first words. Your first steps. Losing your first tooth. Your first day of kindergarten. Countless hours spent helping you learn how to ride a bike, usually ending with us both frustrated. The night you came home and without any prompting picked that bike up and rode circles around our cul-de-sac on your own for the first time like you’d known how all along. The day we finalized your
adoption into our family. Anxiously waiting 6 hours in a hospital waiting room during your open heart surgery. Every doctor visit since. All of it, the good and the not-so-good, flooded my mind in those thirty minutes.

Like I was Ebenezer Scrooge taking a walk through Christmas’ past, present the and future, images of your future intermingled with memories from past, all in that moment. For the first time in fifteen years, I saw a glimpse of what your life holds in the next fifteen. And I could no longer contain the bittersweet joy in recognizing that my daughter is becoming a young woman. The same daughter who still needs help tying her shoes opened my eyes to the life of independence that is possible for you as an adult. You and your friends gave me hope yesterday.

On that stage this weekend, I didn’t see your disability; I saw your ability. I didn’t see what holds you back; I saw what keeps you going. I saw more genuine, authentic Christlike character traits in you and your friends yesterday than I see walking through the doors of church on Sunday morning. I simply have no words to express what I experienced in being a part of your world outside our home…watching you in your environment. Watching how you interact with your friends gave me hope. Hope for what your life will be after your mom and I have gone to be with God. A hope that you will be able to continue on without us. For fifteen years, I’ve not been able to see you as thriving without us. Yesterday, I saw a glimpse of who you will be as an adult, and I’m proud. Proud to know you. Proud to love you. Proud of who you are. Proud of you will become. Proud to have been chosen by God to be your daddy! Keep on being the beautiful girl you’ve always been, ladybug! I love you so stinkin’ much it hurts. I love you to tears and back.

Love,

Daddy

P.S. Happy 15th birthday, princess!

The Day I Lost My Vision

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Confession time. I lost it…I mean totally and unequivocally, lost it. Picture a 6’5″ grown man crying and sobbing like a five year child who just had his Christmas presents stolen on Christmas morning. Yes. That bad. L.O.S.T. Lost. It.

Another confession…it’s never been my vision. It’s God’s vision. I’m just the one who was allowed to see it.

Tonight, I’m relaxing and recovering after a STRONG push this past month in getting our Upward Basketball & Cheerleading season started. We’ve been busy drafting 612 (and growing) players to teams, screening and vetting 130 volunteers, training Cheer Coaches, planning for and conducting the annual Prayer Breakfast, managing team equipment for 72 teams, and ordering equipment for the season…all culminating this past week in a final push to prepare for, setup and conduct two training sessions for 100 basketball coaches and a cheerleading clinic, both held this weekend. This morning saw two of those events at the same time, both worthy of being called a major event on its own, a basketball coach training session in one half of the building and the Cheerleading Clinic in the other half. As this morning’s cheer clinic came to an end, I confess that’s when I lost it.

Flash back to last night. After a 14-hour day ended with the first of two 4-hour Coach Training Sessions, I was praying on my drive home. I told God that I felt like something wasn’t right. Something’s missing, but I don’t know what it is. It feels like I’ve been distracted and scatter-brained…more so than usual anyway. And as I stopped talking to Him long enough to actually listen, God revealed to me that I’d lost the vision. What?! I know the vision. I just shared it with 50 coaches hours earlier as I cast the vision for our season! I’m the leader of the ministry…knowing (and sharing) the vision is my job. How could that be? And then He reminded me that I was so wrapped up in preparing for what I was going to say after the video message from Caz ended that I didn’t hear Caz say it. “Loving people trumps everything.” If we’re so wrapped up in what we’re busy doing that we don’t take time for people when they need to engage us, then we’ve lost the vision. Because “loving people trumps everything.”

Unable to see the vision for the various tasks before me this past month, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I’ve become so engrossed in the task over the last month that tunnel vision has been keeping me from seeing the vision that started me on this journey in the first place. That’s really, really hard to admit…that as the person who’s ultimately responsible for casting the vision for the team, I got caught up in the to-do list and lost focus. But it’s the cold hard truth. I lost the vision.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the to-do list, isn’t it. So easy to fall into the trap of being busy doing the *work* of God that we miss the *face* of God. Convicted of that, and then waking up this morning, still exhausted, to get back to the task of another Coach Training Session, I needed something to help me see the vision clearly again. As the coach training session ended, I was able to steal away for a few minutes to walk in for the closing moments of the Cheer Clinic on the other side of the building. I spent three minutes watching as dozens of young cheerleaders were reunited with their parents after having spent two fun-filled hours of exciting, energetic, high impact time with their new teammates and coaches.

Three minutes. That’s all it took to have me crying like a baby as God illuminated the vision for me again. For three minutes, the work was gone. The to-do list was gone. The details were gone. And the reason we’ve invested hundreds of hours already was right in front of me. For three minutes, I simply sat back and enjoyed watching the vision unfold before my eyes. I went from seeing the things right before me to seeing the bigger picture. And I lost it. Yep, cried like a baby.

I’ve got the vision back. And I’m ready to get back to work with a renewed passion. I walked away from that three minutes inspired…excited and on fire once again with the passion to continue in the work of seeing the vision fulfilled through accomplishing the mission of “Promoting the Discovery of Jesus Through Sports.” I’ve got the vision…and I’m ready to share it! Let’s do this.

Love,

Dad

FYI (if you’re a teenage girl)

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Some great words that ring true in this family of boys as well.

Call Me Louder

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“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Two things stick out for me in this verse today:

1. We have the power and strength living within us (through the Holy Spirit) to bear any temptation we’re faced with. ANY. We can bank on that because He’s promised us here in this verse that “he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” So, it doesn’t matter what temptation we’re fighting right now, we have the power to resist it.

2. This promise does not allow us to continue sinning. While we can rest on the promise that “he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it“, this verse is certainly not a blank check payable to “a way out” for us to use at our pleasure. First, God will provide the “way out“; but we have to be in close fellowship with Him to recognize the “way out” as a “way out“, not simply an annoyance that delays us from the gratification and pleasure we find in our sin. Second, if we continue to ignore His attempts to help us “out” of our temptation, He will eventually stop helping…or harden our hearts so that we don’t see the “way out“…or both.

Take the story of the man trapped on a deserted island. He prayed and believed that God would save him. Hours later, a passing boat came to the rescue, but the man told them not to worry about him because God would save him. Some time later, a helicopter flew over but again the man told them he was fine…that God would save him. Several days later, a plane flew overhead but again the man refused help, saying God would save him. When he died of dehydration, he went before God and was upset because he felt God had failed to save him. To which God replied, ‘I tried. Three times I sent you help, but you refused to be helped. All you had to do was grab my outstretched arm, and you would have been saved.’

In my addiction, I can look back at each time I was ever tempted to slide into that sinful behavior and see that God provided an “out“. Many times, I recognized it and succeeded in resisting the temptation. Unfortunately, more times than I care to admit, I willfully ignored it and went right down that sinful path. And every time I ignored it to continue in my sinful pleasure, it got easier and easier to ignore His voice the next time…to the point that I was so far out of fellowship with God that I stopped seeing the signs He was giving me.

For me…right now in this moment…I’ve been fighting my temptation all day, and simply writing this note is my “way out“. Temptation sucks, and it knows no bounds. Except one…that that Satan and his ability to tempt us has no authority in the life of the believer who calls on the name of God. The temptation will always be there, but we can have success in it…through the power of the Spirit in our lives.

What sinful temptation are you facing today? Does it feel like more than you can bear? Rest on the promise that God will provide you a way out. And then open your heart to see it and stick your hand out to grab it.

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12

Love,

Dad

Gracious Abba Father, I come to you with a burdened heart. Burdened with the temptation to walk down a path I don’t want to follow…a path I know leads to my destruction, yet calls me with so loud a voice that I cannot help but turn my head its direction. As I stand here tonight on the edge, I pray. Holy Lord, I pray. Call me with a louder voice and draw my attention away from this temptation, and instead to You. For I know that when I am looking at You, I am walking toward You…and with You. Call me louder God. Please, I beseech you. Call me louder.

A Mile High on a Rusted Coffee Can

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It looked fun…at first. From the bottom looking up, it looked like a nice, leisurely ride to the top. I bet the view from up there is amazing. And the only thing standing between me and the top of this mountain peak is a mile of cable line and one tram ride. And the voice in my head yelling “are you out of your mind!!??”

If you’ve ever had a fear of heights, then you’ll understand when I say that standing at the base of a ski lift that traverses over a mile straight up the mountain to an elevation of nearly 4,000 feet can be a daunting view. Looking around and seeing more rusted bolts and dry-rotted boards than I could find in an abandoned lumber yard as we make our way to the loading area does little to reassure the growing-louder-by-the-second voice in my head that is trying to remind me that if God wanted me to do something that required my feet leave the ground for more than two seconds, He’d have given me wings.

As I stand in the loading zone and the chair approaches from behind, I wait for the inevitable…and as it literally sweeps me off my feet as it knocks my legs out from under me, I plop down and feel the chair bounce and sway as the cable above us gives a little. Now we’re swaying back and forth as my feet leave the ground and we pull the bar over our heads…a bar that would no more hold me in this contraption than a paper bag would hold in a wild boar looking for its next meal. As the ground beneath us disappears and grows farther and farther away, I notice that this “seat” is no more than hollow metal pipes the thickness of a metal coffee can, held together by rusted bolts. Yeah…how’d I get here again?

Not Even Halfway Up

A Quarter Mile Up

Halfway up the mountain, it occurs to me that just about every muscle in my body is tense. I’m literally hanging on so tightly with one hand that my fingers are tingling because there is no blood left in them. My other hand is so firmly attached to my son that I’m sure I’ll be reported to DFS for child abuse when someone sees the hand-shaped indention I’ve surely left in his side. And my butt is clinched so tight, I’m pretty sure my two cheeks have become one. It does little to calm my mind when I’m looking down and realize that if I do fall from here, I most likely won’t die…just shatter a femur or two, blow out a knee, disintegrate my ankles, and maybe puncture a lung. I wonder how much my AFLAC policy pays per bone?

Farther Than It Looks (75')

Don’t Be Deceived – That’s a 75′ Drop

We like being in control, don’t we? We like the feeling that comes with knowing that we have a say in things…that we have the reigns and even if we’re flying by the seat of our pants, the decisions are ours to make, and we’re piloting this ship we call our life. Our feet are planted firmly on the ground, and we have the power…we’re in control. But are we? Are we really? Let’s be completely honest here. The feeling of “control” I had when holding on for dear life to that coffee can dangling seventy five feet above the ground on its way to the top of a mile-high mountain did nothing more than give me a false sense of security. Had something failed on that rusted piece of metal built back when moonshiners ran these hills, I would have no more been able to keep from falling to the rocks below and shattering every bone in my lower body than I could stand on a street corner and catch a bowling ball falling from the Empire State Building. It ain’t gonna happen.

Yet we walk through life unwilling to let go, don’t we? We hold on to the things (and the people) we love so tight, that letting go becomes too much to believe possible. And when you boil it down to the core of why we struggle with letting go, it’s one thing. All too often, we let our fear of letting go overwhelm us. It’s not that we don’t want to let go. No, deep down inside…I believe at the heart of us all…we don’t want to be wound so tight that we can’t breath. We long to let go and feel the exhilaration of adrenaline pumping through our veins as we live life to the fullest. But despite that yearning, if’s the fear that drives us to hold on so tight…fear of what might happen if we do let go. Make no mistake, friend…if it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen whether we’re holding on or not. And when it does, us holding on is not going to stop it from hurting when we hit bottom.

God is calling us to let go. Our lives are not ours, and we certainly don’t have the control and power we think we have. All we have is an illusion…a false sense of security provided by what we see, hear, smell and feel. We have to look beyond that illusion and realize that life happens on the other side of the fear. Will it be easy to let go? Not always. Will it hurt to let go? Sometimes. Will it be worth it to let go? Absolutely!!! It’s time to truly give our lives to Christ. To give Him the reigns and let Him take His rightful place in the pilot seat of our life. It’s time to let go and let God. If you can, you’ll see for yourself that the view from the top IS worth it.

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It IS an Awesome View

And yes…you’ll even find you can have a lot of fun along the way.

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“The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble. – Proverbs 19:23

Love,

Dad

Praying in Boldness

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As I first saw this picture, it resonated with me. On the surface, it inspires and encourages us to be bold in our prayers…to claim the promise in Romans 8:31…“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

On further inspection of the picture, though, I see it differently than I first did. Take a closer look…do you see it? Do you see the thousand yard stare…the battle weary face…the depth of the scar on his eye? I believe the quote to be very true, that a praying man has no need to fear any demon in hell…because James 5:16 confirms it… “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Yet that battle-scarred face is evidence that just because we believe, pray and have our faith in God we will still face adversity and battles and be scarred. Paul warned Timothy of this…

“But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days….You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” – 2 Tim 3:1,10-13

Don’t be lulled into the false belief that as believers we are immune to the things of this world…things like attack, oppression, heartache, struggle, difficult times, hardship, persecution, affliction, loss, pain. But find your strength in knowing that He hears our prayers and is working all things in our life for our good. Even when we don’t see the endgame, God does.

You will be hurt in this life, and it’s in that hurt that God is refining you. As you experience that pain and are scarred as a result, wear your battle scars with boldness and confidence. Be bold in your faith…and be bold in your prayers…humble in all that we seek and in how we speak to Him, but bold and confident in the promise found in Phillippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Love,

Dad

What Six Looks Like!

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In the aftermath of last week’s deadly shooting in Newton, CT I have been at a loss for how to put pen to paper the thoughts in my head. If I had tried, I could not have done it better than this. As your dad right here and now in this moment, I know what 13, 5 and 3 look like…and these words resonate so deeply within me. I love you more than I could ever say.

Love,

Dad

My Random Ramblings

A friend shared this with me and I wanted to share it with you…

I am not really a major cryer. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I cry–when it’s appropriate to do so.  Funerals. The occasional wedding if it’s particularly beautiful or meaningful. Schindler’s List. Things that normal people cry at. I am definitely not an over-cryer. I don’t cry at commercials or cheesy Hallmark movies or at the drop of a hat. And, when I do cry, there’s usually a beginning and an end. I cry. I get it out. I stop. Normal crying.

However, since I first started to understand the magnitude of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday morning, I have cried a lot. I cried when I heard the terrible news. I cried when I went to pick my son up early from school. I cried when I told my husband what…

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