Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It Takes A Team!

Marathon running, like mountain climbing, is not for the faint of heart. Of course, that hasn't stopped people from climbing mountains or running marathons. While parts of both of these endeavors, (serious, determined effort), involve individual passion and committement, the success usually is determined by the team. I learned this lesson of survival in my scuba-training, as we were taught to "never dive alone!"

Mount Everest has claimed many lives and they say that there are over 120 bodies still on the mountain today. In 1935, climbers found the lone body of Maurice Wilson, an Englishman who had sneaked into Tibet and tried to climb the mountain secretly without government approval. He hired only three porters and as they approached the North Col, those men refused to go any farther with him. Wilson decided to go alone and that decision killed him.

John Maxwell, writes, in his book, The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, that you can never build a team during a crisis. The team needs to be assembled and ready to help when the crisis or problems begin. Last Sunday, I had a wonderful reminder that I am not alone.
Chris and I are a part of the greatest Bible study class in the world. That's right, you heard it hear first. They have allowed me to teach and study God's Word with them for the last four years. We have struggled with the name of this group because we don't fit into a proper normal category. This group consists of all ages, some couples, some half-couples, and a diversified group from many walks of life. We jokingly call ourselves the Misfits, and one of our ministers, Rex Jackson, agrees with this name. (Ha!)
Last Sunday, I was sitting and enjoying a special time of worship. We had participated in singing a couple of my favorite worship songs and my favorite hymn, (a separate blog), when our pastor, Lyn Holly announced that we would have a special presentation. NO! Not now! I quickly perused the bulletin, and there it was, a special presentation. That settles it, if it is in the order of worship, we have to do it and, of course, if it is not in the bulletin, we can't. It's the Baptist Way! Would this be for a SS pin and years of unbroken attendance? Perhaps a donation for the clothes closet? Then, Mike Jones, a special friend and fellow misfit walked to the front. Misfits rose from their seats to come join Mike at the front of the church. Don Winkler, another special friend, had made a beautiful wooden shadow box and the class had signed and writtten notes of encouragement on my race shirt that I had worn on my first marathon. Yes, tears soon followed.
I have pre-op work on Tuesday, 2/3. On Wednesday, I will have day surgery to have a double mediport implanted. I will begin chemotherapy the next week and will continue this treatment through June. On my mind right now, is a group of young men I am honored to coach, who depend on me as we try to obtain a play-off spot in a very tough district. During this time I do not know what to expect. But I have been reminded that I am not alone! My team has been prepared ahead of me. I promise to tell this group of prayer warriors and friends, (the Misfits), what I need and how they can help during the months ahead.
The Race of Faith
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, Heb 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Thank you for the reminder, my friends. Chris and I love you more than you know. This "season" will be over soon and I look forward to the day that I will lead this group again. Keep praying and keep cheering! I will finish!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Your Life Is An Occasion, Rise To It!

Our friend, Kathy Clark, bought us a decorative plate that we have in our kitchen, near our coffee pot. I read it each morning, usually as I wait patiently for the first cup. The plate has written on it:

"If You Can Walk, You Can Dance! If You Can Talk, You Can Sing

This is the way that I want to live my life. Jesus said He came to give us a life of joy! Can I live with the courage to be filled with this joy that I was given

C.S Lewis said, "Joy is the serious business of heaven." The apostle Paul wrote, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice." Every breath is a gift from heaven. I will visit with you later about some of the things we celebrate as a family, because the Bible is filled with holidays, "holy days," that were times of joyful celebration. Instead, I would like to let my daughter, Kati, share with you her writing skills, as she describes a movie that made a profound impact on my family and me.

Kati wrote the following paper this fall for her English class. After I read it, I asked her for a copy of it because it not only describes the movie and the main character, but she does an excellent job of describing what the movie taught me. Enjoy!

“Thirty-Seven Seconds”

“We breathe. We pulse. We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest. Thirty-seven seconds well spent.” These are the words of one of the greatest fictional characters to whom I have ever been introduced. This man recognized that each second of waiting was not meant to be spent in vain. To him, each moment served an important purpose to the rest of his life. Yes, this man made sure his life was purposeful and different than anyone else’s around him. It is such an admirable aspiration to decide to live a stress free life and know it isn’t solely about you. Although fictional, this person takes up that challenge and can truthfully say he lives out both these ideals. His name is Mr. Magorium from the movie Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. When I first saw this movie, I was enchanted, inspired. “I want to step into his shoes even if it’s just for a day,” I thought to myself. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be Mr. Magorium?

You see, Mr. Magorium runs a magical toy store and has fun with his life. I know many of you are thinking that this thought is simply absurd, positively juvenile, but I honestly would love this type of life. Mr. Magorium doesn’t have a simple and worry-free daily routine either. He just chooses to live that way. Daily, he makes the choice to smile and not fret about every little detail. I, like many others I know, cultivate a crop of ulcers in my stomach when inevitably a minor part of the puzzle ceases to fit into place. Instead of logically trying to fix the puzzle piece, I throw my hand to my forehead palm outward and cry, “What ever shall I do?” Mr. Magorium realizes that this is no way to live. He enjoys the children running through his emporium. He enjoys watching their wide eyes sparkle in awe as the big book makes toys come to life. He enjoys the quizzical looks on the parents’ faces as the store lives and breathes. While many would pass by these small details without another glance, Magorium stops and bathes in the moment, soaking up all its beauty.

That’s just the beginning of the wonder. Magorium is a 243-year old man who desires to make every person smile. Most old men I know are choleric and only concerned with themselves. In contrast, Mr. Magorium is certain of and lives his purpose, and even though to some it might seem insignificant, he accepts his calling and finds it rich. Many self-centered people would refuse to accept this seemingly insignificant role because it means sacrificing self to others. In today’s society, it is always about me, me, me. Insightfully, Mr. Magorium chooses to live for everyone else. He concerns himself with Mahoney, Eric, Bellini, the mutant, the children in the toy store, etc. Even as his last pair of shoes wears out, along with his life, Magorium never stops smiling, proving that nothing is ever about him. Just stop and imagine how different the world would be if no one was selfish.

Magorium’s attitude is so amazing. I’ve never known anyone with this kind of outlook on life. His gift to humanity can be summed up in his response to self-doubting Mahoney’s questioning statement, “There are probably a million uses for this block of wood, but I don’t know what to do with it.” Magorium simply replies, “Yes, there are probably a million uses for the block of wood, but just think what it could accomplish if someone just believed in it.” Magorium helps others to believe in themselves. He is the type of person that sparks a smile. He is the type of person that finds purpose in helping others find theirs. He is the type of person that leaves a lasting legacy—the type of person I’d like to be. I want to lead a life seeing the good in people. Helping others without a thought for myself. Living in wonder and in enjoyment, touching the lives of those around me. In each moment, I want to breathe, pulse, and regenerate. I want my heart to beat, my mind to create, and my soul to ingest. I want my thirty-seven seconds to be well spent.

Thank you, Kati! I want my time to be well spent also!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Home Alone : All Dressed Up & No Way To Go!

Welcome to my world of change. I am trying to begin the transition back into the real world...but what does that mean? Actually, it means I am struggling with my return to the real world in many ways.

Many people have "stood in the gap" for me as I have begun this journey - through surgery, through treatment. Now I am finding out what I can really do. My principal and close friend, Jeff Clark, is so patient with me as he helps me find a new role at the school. Ruth Ann Jones, a collegue and friend, has taken over the responsibility of teaching my three geometry classes. My assistant coach and former player, Gabe Lane, is incredible as he has filled (and continues to fill) my shoes. He now is working with me as I rediscover the art of coaching and connecting with students. I have forced our girls coach, Kathy Clark, to become a "techie", learning to replace video cameras and dubbing tapes to DVD's for me, so I could keep stats updated and watch our games. Steve Arthur, a dear friend, has taught, and continues to teach, our SS class. He has been such a blessing to this special group of friends as I have healed. But the one person who has picked up the slack most of all is my beautiful wife, Chris, as she has taken over all the little jobs, been my caregiver, continued to meet the needs of our students, as the HS counselor, and still maintained her 4.0 GPA as a graduate student.

Chris' parents, Danny and Zora, who I have already written about, brought their RV and stayed with us during the toughest, uncertain times. About a week and a half ago they needed to travel back to their home and business. They wanted to leave their RV to come back when I started chemotherapy and when our daughter, Callie, will be having knee surgery (a whole separate blog), so they drove my truck home. [Yes-I AM beginning to get to the meat of this blog - All Dressed Up and No Way to Go!] Over the holiays, Chris and I bought new matresses for Derick, our son, and Callie, so last week we needed a truck to transport. We borrowed Coach Lane's truck and picked up the matresses. Before our game last Saturday, Gabe gave Chris my keys back and Chris gave Gabe his truck keys.

Sunday morning came. I was pretty sore and tired from coaching on Saturday night. Chris and I enjoyed a beautiful Sunday morning, as we sipped coffee and she played through the music for Sunday morning worship. We decided that it would be best for Chris and Kati, our oldest daughter, to go to Sunday School and worship practice and I would bring our youngest daughter, Callie, to worship with me in our vehicle. Around 9:15, Chris and Kati left and we were home alone.

The wonderful Sunday morning continued. Callie and I ate breakfast and I built a fire so we would have hot coals for us when we would return home. Callie bounded upstairs to finish getting ready and I decided to start the car, so it would be warm. Hm...That's funny - no keys in my briefcase or on the catch-all desk. Where are the keys? Maybe in the car or on the key holder. No. No keys. (Ah-Ha moment) I wonder, would Chris possibly have both sets in her purse?

Have you ever tried to contact people at church? It doesn't work. I knew Chris would be worried sick, so I left messages with as many people as I could, hoping she would realize why I wasn't sitting beside her on the front pew. Later, I found out Chris didn't hear much of the sermon that morning (sorry, Brother Lyn) - the keys fell out of her purse during the service!

So - what to do? Callie and I climbed back into "comfortable clothes" and had a good laugh. Callie cleaned her room - I thought that would replace worship in a special kind of way - HA. I began preparing lunch and listened to music. Yes, we were "Home Alone." Dressed up with no way to go! Oh well, maybe next Sunday!