Where the Magic Happens

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” (Mark Twain)

Don’t be afraid…just believe. (Mark 5:36)

Magic Dreams
Magic Dreams

For the past month or so, I have been searching for members of two of my former Cross-Country teams.  I probably could have said two of my “old” teams since one was from 1979 and the other from 1983.  Let’s see,..that would make them all in their mid to late 50’s.  How on earth did they get so old!  They could be parents or possibly even grandparents by now!  How they must have changed over the years!

Some I have been able to stay in touch with over the years, but most I have not seen since they graduated from high school.  Each of those teams will be honored by being inducted into the Narragansett Regional Hall of Fame on October 21 in recognition of the All-State Championships that each team won.  While their accomplishment obviously doesn’t measure up in importance to recent hurricanes, Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria or to the earthquake in Mexico, it’s still an impressive feat in the local scheme of things.  How many people can claim to have been a part of such an accomplishment.  Today, being the very best at something is often considered too much of a challenge.  We want more teams to feel like they’re the best, so we have leagues, divisions and classes so that a team can win over a smaller selection of teams–teams that may be smaller or less talented than the one, very best team.  We don’t want our children to feel less adequate or less appreciated, so everyone gets a trophy or a ribbon.

The young men (actually, middle-aged men) that will be recognized for their accomplishment really were the best in the entire state.  There were no divisions or classes for those races.  It was simply them against the rest of the state and the state lost.  Was it easy?  Definitely not!  They had to devote time, energy and lots of sweat.  I’m proud of each and every one of them.  And I’m equally proud of all those who, over the years, tried, but never reached that pinnacle of success.  Nevertheless, they made the effort.  they, too, worked hard to the best of their abilities and earned personal success.  I never had the ability to run fast for long distances, but by just being around these hardworking and dedicated young men, I became a better runner and, ultimately a better person.

So, as Mark Twain also said, “Throw off the bowlines.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.”  Who knows where your greatest success may lie?

Don’t Worry, Be Happy (Bobby McFerren 1988)

 

be happy

“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.

Heart and Soul

Coach Timing

Whatever turns up, grab it and do it…heartily (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much more laid back and more of a behind the scenes kind of guy.  When I was younger, teaching and coaching, I was just the opposite.  I was excited about what I did and passed that enthusiasm on to my students.  Maybe they didn’t all jump on the bandwagon, but those that did became quite successful at what they did.

Recently, circumstances have placed me in a position where I have been required to make numerous phone calls (which I dislike), chair a 10-person committee (so much for acting behind the scenes) and speak several different times (progress reports to the church body, remembrances at a memorial funeral).  Plus all the prepping that each of these activities required.  And all this in the span of a few overlapping weeks.  Definitely out of my comfort zone!  But, I did each thing to the best of my ability, and now feel that I am a better person for it.

Solomon writes, “Seize life!…Each Day is God’s gift…Whatever turns up, grab it and do it…heartily!  This is your last and only chance at it.”  Professor Howard Hendricks wrote, “Recently I lost one of my best friends, a woman eighty-six years young.  She was the most exciting lay-teacher I’ve ever been exposed to.  The last time I saw her on planet earth was at one of those ‘Christian parties’ where everyone sits on eggshells and tries to look pious.  In she walked, looked at me and said, ‘Well Hendricks, I haven’t seen you for a long time.  Tell me, what are the five best books you’ve read in the last year?’ (That’ll change the group dynamic in  a hurry.)  Her philosophy was, ‘Let’s not bore each other…let’s get into a discussion.  And if we can’t find anything to discuss, then let’s get into an argument.’  She was 83-years-old on her last trip to the Holy Land.  She went with a group of NFL football players.  And one of my most vivid memories is seeing her out in front yelling back to them, ‘Come on, men, let’s get with it!’  Recently she died I her sleep at her daughter’s house.  Her daughter told me that just before she died, she’d written her goals for the next ten years.”

So whether you are nine, nineteen or ninety, whatever turns up, grab it and do it…heartily.  In other words–put your heart and soul into it.

Courtesy of The Word for You Today.

 

 

A Perfect Storm

He knows us far better than we know ourselves…That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives…is worked into something good. (Romans 8:28)

Three years ago today, my family had one of those “perfect storm” days.  My sister-in-law lost her battle with cancer at her home while we were there with her.  Though it was not unexpected, it still left her family members crushed.  She was one tough and remarkable women, who spent much of her last years being a caregiver to others in her family.

I was there at the end and was exhausted.  So my family sent me home to get some rest.  The trip should have been from Westminster to Otter River and should have lasted no more than 15 minutes.  When my wife went home some time later, she found me missing.  As she worriedly tried to find someone who might know where I was,  she received a phone call from a friend on the Winchendon police force telling her that I had had an accident on Gardner Road in Winchendon.

Most of the events that happened that night were told to me by my wife and others because I have no memory of anything that happened from the time I left my sister-in-law’s house until three days later after her funeral.  I have no idea how I ended up on the road to Winchendon or how I ended up going off the left-hand side of the road, bouncing over a ditch and hitting a tree head-on.

So, what happened?  It turns out the year of my Chevy Impala had a recall for the ignition unit because the weight of the key fob could cause it to shut the car off cutting out the power steering and the power brakes.  Did that cause me to go off the road?  Who knows.  Then when I hit the tree, the driver side airbag didn’t inflate causing me to do a face-plant into the steering wheel.  Later when I was tested for the injuries I had, they found that I had had some sort of seizure.  It’s uncertain whether the seizure could have caused the accident or whether the accident could have caused the seizure.  Talk about a “perfect storm”…

But I said all that to say this…it could have been worse.  Despite everything that happened, I believe that God had His hand on me.  I could have died or had crippling injuries, but I didn’t.  I could have died from an epileptic seizure, but I didn’t.  I’m sure the accident was scary and painful, but I don’t remember any of it.  And today I’m at least as healthy as I was before the accident.  I don’t think that was a coincidence.  “So, I am not saying this because I am in need, because I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (Philippians 4:11)

 

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

young then old

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.