And God everything in our lives to work together to accomplish His plans for us. (Romans 8:28
This is not the first time that I’ve made mention of this, but I think it bears repeating. I know that I still have to be reminded about it from time to time. In my younger years, I had the opportunity to begin coaching various sports at my alma mater. I started coaching girls basketball, something I had never even considered. Then track, in which I had a limited background. And, finally, cross-country, where I had absolutely no clue what to do.
In those early days, I think I learned more from the athletes than they ever learned from me. But I loved doing it and eventually learned enough to begin to actually teach others. The teams I coached became very successful. And the more successful they became, the more I wanted to teach them to become even better. After a few years, the time and effort I put into coaching began to define who I was. It was consuming all my energy and I never even realized it. Then an opportunity to become a teacher/principal at a private school came up. Because I would be new to the job, my employers wanted me to focus all my attention on their school. l had to give up coaching. I was absolutely crushed. It was then that I finally realized how much my life had become unbalanced with a huge amount of time spent coaching and limited amounts of time spent with my family, my church and my “real” job and even the hobbies I used to enjoy.
As I applied myself to my new position, I learned to balance how I spent my time in all the things that mattered. Somehow, God gave me the ability to manage my time and energy so that I actually had the time to do other things. By my second year at the private school, the School Board was pleased enough with the job I was doing, that they wanted to increase my salary. Unfortunately, their budget was too small. So, they gave me the opportunity to go back to coaching to supplement my income. I couldn’t believe it. Because I realized I had messed up before, but now had my priorities straight, God provided a way for me to return to doing something I loved. So I returned to coaching and continued for almost another 40 years.
He really is the God of second chances.
The Seasons of Our Lives
To everything, there is a season…. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
A long time ago in a what seemed to be a galaxy far, far away, I lived my life as a teacher, youth pastor and coach. I loved what I did. And, hopefully, I made a difference in at least some of the children who passed by me on their way to learning who they were, what they wanted out of life and who they would become.
Then, suddenly, it all changed for me. After being incredibly healthy for all of my childhood and into early middle age, my body began to fall apart. Three heart attacks, a knee replacement and an epileptic seizure later, I finally realized that my time for those particular activities was over. I fought long and hard against giving up those things. I wanted to hang onto what I had always loved and what I had always done for most of my adult life. But I could feel my ability to do those things slowly slipping away.
No one likes change. Especially when that change separates us from what we have always loved. But, seasons change. It seemed like, in the springtime of my life, God gave me certain abilities and desires that led me to work with children. As I moved into the summer of my life, I began to recognize and develop those talents–realizing that working with children was indeed what I was meant to do. In the fall of my life, circumstances began to change–making what I had always done more and more difficult. Then as I entered into the winter of my life, I found myself completely separated from the things that had always given me the greatest joy. That part of my life had ended and I felt lost.
But after the winter came a new season with new challenges, different abilities and desires. I’m now involved in things that I would never have imagined twenty years ago. Never having been a father, I find myself sometimes being looked at as a father figure to those who actually are fathers. I’ve gotten closer to my family and have been able to help out when things have gotten tough for them. I volunteer my time to the area library and do yard work for our town’s historical society. I’ve rekindled the love I’ve always had for art and have helped put on a local art show each year for the past seven years. There are a myriad of things that I now have the time and the desire to do. None of these things are more or less important than the things I used to do. They’re only different. And they are things that I would never have had the time or the inclination to do when I was younger.
Seasons change, but life keeps moving on. We either keep moving and growing through each new season, or we die on the vine.
How old are you? Really?
Once I was young, now I’m old…every day my children make me proud. (Psalm 37″25-027)
Satchel Paige, a black pitcher who was already at the end of his remarkable career when baseball became integrated, once asked the question, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old your were?” If you were to give an honest answer, what would it be?
A woman, young at heart, wrote,”I have become a little older since I saw you last, and a few changes have come into my life since then. Frankly, I have become quite a frivolous old gal. I am seeing five gentlemen every day.
As soon as I wake up, Will Power helps me get our of bed. Then I go to see John. Then Charlie Horse comes along and when he is here, he takes up a lot of my time and attention. When he leaves, Arthur Ritis shows up and stays the rest of the day. He doesn’t like to stay in one place very long, so he takes me from joint to joint. After such a busy day, I’m really tired and glad to go to bed with Ben Gay. What a life!”
She later added, “The preacher came to call the other day. He said at my age, I should be thinking about the hereafter. I told him,’Oh, I do all the time. No matter where I am–in the parlor, upstairs, in the kitchen or down in the basement–I ask myself what am I here after?’
Charles Swindoll reminds us that old folks are worth a fortune–they have silver in their hair, gold in their teeth, stones in their kidneys, lead in their feet and gas in their stomachs.
Remember, you’re only as old as you think you are. So, how old are you? Really?!?
Don’t Worry, Be Happy (Bobby McFerren 1988)
“Let Him have all your worries and cares.” (I Peter 5:7)
I tend to be a perfectionist. I find it hard to be at peace when I don’t have all the next steps figured out. It makes me anxious, restless, worried and grouchy…kind of like a drug addict who needs a fix. The severity isn’t the same, but the symptoms are.
I found this short essay on worry in the Word for you today: “Author William Ward wrote: ‘Worry is faith in the negative, trust in the unpleasant, assurance of disaster and belief in defeat. It’s a magnet that attracts negative conditions…Worry is wasting today’s time, and cluttering up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles.’ When an old man was asked what had robbed him of joy in his life, he replied, ‘Things that never happened.’ Do you remember the things you worried about a year ago? Didn’t you expend a lot of energy on them? And didn’t most of them turn out to be fine after all? Almost 99% of the things we worry about don’t happen! Did you know that a dense fog covering seven city blocks one hundred feet deep, is composed of less than one glass of water? Just one glass! But it can blot out practically all vision. A cupful of worry can do the same thing.”
Faith and trust in God can free you from that “cup”. We can’t control all of the circumstances in our lives, so stop trying. Life goes better when you give Him all your worries and cares.
I seem to be having difficulty getting stuff published in Facebook. Could each of you please just send a “like” so I’ll know that this is getting there?
Don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid and don’t panic for I am with you in all you do. (Joshua 1:9)
When I was much younger, I decided that I was going to learn how to ski. This was before the days of snowboards, so I got a pair of long, thin skis. A group of friends had planned to travel to Killington Ski Resort in Vermont. To prepare, I visited Mt. Wachusett in Princeton, Massachusetts. I later found out that Killington has the greatest vertical drop (3050′) of any mountain in New England. Mt. Wachusett has a prominence of 1001′. Silly me, I thought a couple of runs down the “Bunny” slope would get me ready. Fast forward to the weekend. I should have known I was in trouble when I had a hard time getting on and off the ski lift. Once I finally got settled at the top of the trail, I noticed a sign that had a black diamond on it. My friends told me not to worry about it. Believe it or not, I actually made it down the worst part of the slope without incident. I skied very slowly and cautiously, but I skied. As the group slowly pulled out of sight, I noticed a covered bridge coming up. It quite narrow, so I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep a straight line all the way through. I was pretty excited when I realized that I was going to make it….until I exited the bridge and saw all my friends lined up on both sides of the trail waiting to see how I was going to handle the bump and drop that suddenly appeared. Needless to say, my skill level couldn’t handle it and I dropped to my butt and fell off to the side. But still managed to finish the run (my last run ever, by the way).
A group of family and friends used to vacation at a place called Camp Skyland in South Hero, Vermont. Several of us often went out in boats to explore the shoreline of Lake Champlain. On one of our excursions, we found a series of cliffs that we simply had to climb. Of course once we got to the top, there was only one way that we were going to go down. You guessed it. We jumped. Including the guy who is afraid of heights. I made it and never tried it again.
It was my first time leading the congregation in songs at the beginning of our church service. I had prepared ahead of time so that I had the melodies and the words down. We all stood as I opened the service in prayer and then went right into the songs. I did pretty good for about 20 minutes when an elderly saint of the church interrupted to say, “Can we sit down now?” I never led songs again.
What possible positive thing can come of all these failures? Simply the fact that I tried and realized that those particular activities were not going to be a continuing part of my life? The important thing is that I tried. I would never experience that nagging feeling of, “What if…?” I was able to overcome my fears to try something new. And as Joshua wrote, God was with me in everything I did. And after thinking about it all these years later, I’m awfully glad He was!
Better With Age
Once I was young, but now I am old and yet I have never seen God abandon a good man or his children. (Psalm 37:25).
Have you ever noticed that when you get up in the morning or when you go to bed at night you don’t see any difference in what you saw the last time you looked. Age has a way of sneaking up on you. One day you’re 20 years old with your whole life ahead of you. Then, suddenly, you’re beyond middle age and in the twilight of your life. For those of you who haven’t reached those advanced years, remember, they’re coming faster than you can imagine. Think of the children you have and how quickly they are growing up. Think of all the things you’ve always wanted to do, but never seem to have the time to do them. Since you can’t change the past and have no control over the future, remember to actually live in the present. You’ll never have another chance to do so.
When I was younger and played basketball, I had a vertical leap of nearly 30 inches. Now I’m lucky if I can clear a piece of paper…on a good day. I could eat anything I wanted in any quantity at any time. Now I eat much less, have to avoid certain foods and shouldn’t eat after 7:00 PM. When I was a kid, my parents would get after me because when I would go to bed, I would take a flashlight and read under the covers for hours. Now I almost always fall asleep when I read at night–sometimes with my book still in my hand. I’ve even been known to fall asleep in the middle of a conversation. In high school, I could type 67 words per minute. Now my fingers are lucky if I can get through a sentence without having stop and correct several errors. (I made six different mistakes in this last sentence.)
When you feel that you’re approaching the twilight of your life, remember that twilight occurs not just as the sun is setting, but also when it rises in the morning. Looking back at your life is okay, but looking ahead is what will keep you young. Rise to meet it with a smile and a spring in your step, ready face the world and what it has for you that day.
Just some thoughts on getting older….
“Today is the oldest you’ve ever been and the youngest you’ll ever be again.” Eleanor Roosevelt.
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln
“Any one who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” Henry Ford
“Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.” Mark Twain
So appreciate where you are in life, make each day count, keep learning and do it all with a smile on your face. Not only will your life be more fulfilling, but so will the lives of those around you.
Keep on trying.
Don’t be afraid or discouraged because I am with you. (Isaiah 41:13)
As a former teacher, I can’t begin to tell you how much I hated the phrase, “I can’t do it.” And it seemed the older we got, the easier it became to say it.
When we were born, we immediately began to learn new things. Whether it was learning to eat on our own, learning to talk, learning to walk, or learning to dress ourselves, everything was brand new to us. And no matter how silly we looked or how funny we sounded while making those first attempts, we kept on trying until we got it right. When we learned to talk, we began another learning experience; asking questions. We asked anything and everything. We never asked ourselves if what we were asking was silly. We just kept asking-endlessly.
We were also never afraid to try new things either. I remember eating bugs to see if they tasted good. Jumping out of our second-story window into a pile of snow seemed like a good idea at the time. Bringing home a pocket full of worms was my gift to my mom. But somehow as we got older we were less willing to try new things.
The girls’ cross-country team at my alma mater began its first season shortly after I became the assistant running coach. The team consisted of a couple of upper-class girls and several junior-high girls. Never having coached girls distance runners before, we weren’t sure of exactly how to coach them. So we simply trained them with the boys’ team and expected them to keep up. Since they didn’t know any better, they did a great job of keeping up. They ended up trashing most of their female counterparts because they believed that was what they were supposed to do. They had no fears or doubts about themselves.
The very successful coach of the UConn womens’ basketball team, Geno Auriemma, deals with each year’s new recruits with this admonition, “Don’t tell me you can’t do something. I’ll tell you when you can’t so something. The team has won 11 national champions since 1995 and are currently trying to win their twelfth. Along the way, they have compiled winning streaks of 75, 90 and currently at 108 and counting.
I guess the bottom line is don’t be afraid to ask questions or to try something new. We should always try to keep learning new things and to experiment with new activities. Who knows what kind of new success and fulfillment you may find. You’ll never find out unless you try.
What Part of Meow Don’t You Understand?
Another reader in the family.
The godly care for their animal. (Proverbs 12:10)
Yesterday, our next-door neighbor stopped by our vacation rental just as we were getting ready to leave for our day’s activities. He and his wife are the caretakers of the property since the owners live in London. As we opened the door, his cat, a beautiful caramel-colored animal, invited itself in and checked out the first floor and each of us. Not typical behavior for a cat, but one I’ve seen before with our own cat. Like most cats, our cat, Snicker, was very independent, so we apparently lived in Snicker’s house for almost 20 years. All kidding aside, Snicker was a loving and lovable cat until she died at nearly 20 years old. And there were definitely tears shed when she was gone.
There was a story in “The Word for the You Today” that told of a man who wanted to a certain hotel for a vacation. He asked them, “Could I bring my dog? He’s very well-behaved.” The hotel owner replied, “I’ve been operating this hotel for 30 years and in all that time I’ve never had a dog steal towels, bedclothes, silverware, or pictures off the wall. I’ve never had to evict a dog in the middle of the night for being drunk and disorderly, and I’ve never had one run out without paying the bill. Your dog is welcome. And furthermore, if your dog will vouch for you, you’re welcome, too.”
Animals help raise the spirits of the sick and disabled. They act as service animals for the blind and others who need it. And many of them simply become an important part of our families. And yet, many of them are mistreated, abandoned, and even trained to be killers. It’s a sad commentary on our times. Sometimes, it’s simply a lack of understanding and continuing what has gone on before. Recently, the Wringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey Circus announced its last tour, in part because of animal rights activists worried about the treatment of the circus animals. To be fair, Ringling has set up a foundation to study the African elephant and the optimal conditions that they need. But we can also make a difference by caring for the animals in our lives and supporting those organizations that strive to find homes for, and make life better for all of them. It’s hard to be kind and loving to our fellow-man if we can’t find love and kindness for the defenseless animals that we share the planet with. God put us all here for a purpose. And it wasn’t to be cruel and unfeeling to the animals. Remember, they were here first.