TUGGIN’ ON SUPERMAN’S CAPE

superman's cape

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There are some things in life that you’re just not supposed to do. The list is enormous, but there are some popular “don’t’s” that stand out. We heard them as kids and if a person is lucky enough to get old will probably repeat them.

“Don’t play with fire!” Did anyone, or maybe more accurate a question would be, did any boys ever keep that command? My mom didn’t catch me in the act, but she definitely knew someone had burned our cats whiskers off and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I was the culprit.

We all know the rules, the do’s and don’t’s, but we tend to break them anyway. “No scuffling in the house!”I can’t remember how many stitches I’ve had from breaking that one. “Look both ways before you cross the street!” It took me a while before I started paying attention to that one too.

There were the so many as a kid how could we remember all of them? “Don’t pick your nose!” –  “No double dipping!” Blah-blah-blah…

Jim Croce a popular folk/pop singer from the early seventies even had a song using some popular cultural fictional icons and common sense to make a point in the song, “Don’t Mess Around With Jim.” Here is the chorus, at least the way  I remember it.

“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape

You don’t spit into the wind

You don’t pull the mask off the ole’ Lone Ranger

And you don’t mess around with Jim.”

Point made. Jim was a tough and dangerous guy. Although young, I understood the connection and enjoyed the bit of humor. If Jim was in the same category as Superman and the Lone Ranger, then Jim was one bad dude! I mean, only a fool would tug on Superman’s cape, spit into the wind, or pull the mask of the Lone Ranger!

Some more serious rules were talked about back then as well, namely the Ten Commandments, the Biblical belief or perspective that our country was founded on. I find it interesting that our society now kind of picks and chooses which of the Commandments they agree with for their life. Many of us will justify actions that come in contrast with the Commandments we do agree with.

A society that tries to enforce the rules like the Ten Commandments as rules or laws for life  without acknowledging the sovereignty of the Law Giver perverts the laws. The first four rules or Commandments that our forefathers based our Constitution on are the laws that acknowledge the author of life and all laws- God himself.

The fifth law is more like the first four in that it’s about acknowledging and honoring someone else. In this case, it is our parents who God calls us to honor. Not that all parents deserve honoring but have you witnessed some people who haven’t honored their parents? What do their lives look like? Hummm. Maybe there is something to these laws after all?

The other laws most everyone agrees with, in general are, no murder, no adultery, no stealing, no lying, and no jealousy. The Commandments are obviously given in order of importance. If a person doesn’t think the first 5 have merit, they will certainly struggle with the last 5.

As a reminder to some who think we are evolving and becoming like “gods.” The standard we’re held to was defined by Jesus Christ. He reminded us that if we commit any of these acts in our minds we are guilty as if done in the flesh. With that as the standard of good, we all fall short… No wonder we need a Savior.

Looking back, tuggin’ on Superman’s cape and taking the mask off the ole’ Lone Ranger seems like harmless child’s play compared to mocking The Almighty…

FEAR AND DIFFICULT TIMES

fear and difficult times

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I remember a lot from my childhood, that may or may not be a good thing for you the reader, but it certainly gives me many things to reflect, ponder, and share.

I watched my dad step toward a small group of men working on a tire at a gas station, the tire obviously had the men frustrated. We were stretching our legs as my dad was pumping gas into our car.

“HEY”!!!!! “YOU WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE OVER THERE”!!! My dad yelled startling me and everyone else. The  man who was doing most of the cursing stood there stunned with a tire iron in his hand. My dad left his big index finger at the end of his outstretched arm pointing at the men for a few seconds after he confronted them.

I watched wide-eyed as the men studied my dad… I’m not sure if they realized there were women and children around or if they saw their potentially dangerous future in my dad’s eyes, but they were silent no more cursing.

My sister and I had already heard all the words they were using to express their frustrations, I know my dad probably knew it too, he just couldn’t allow something he considered wrong to go down in his presence without taking action.

I also recall my mom and dad helping others including family, friends, and strangers who were in need financially. This while dealing with their own financial difficulties.

It’s during those tense moments that define a person’s life. Will we keep silent for fear of physical harm even though we know what the right thing to do is? Will fear of not having enough keep us from helping out people who are worse off than us?

I was reminded of these type of things this week. My brother who lives in a different city about 3 hours from where I live is in a city affected even worse from the economic downturn than most. The last statistic I heard was that the particular county where my brother lives is leading the nation in home foreclosures.

We had a piece of equipment that we sold last week for less than half of what it was worth a couple of years ago, but we sold something in a place where to have sold anything could be considered a bonafide miracle.

My brother took his portion and divided it with his youngest son who works with him. That very day a good friend of their family and fellow Christian called my brothers son offering to sell them his very elaborate metal working tools for less than 10 cents on the dollar.

My nephew knew his friend was in a desperate situation. That same nephew and his family who are in their own financial difficulties told his dad he was going to take his portion to his friend. My brother gave him a third of his portion to go with my nephew’s.

When my nephew arrived at his friends house unexpectedly to drop off the money, he found his friend was in such a bind financially the only thing in the house to feed his wife, children, and himself, was baby food…

One of my mom’s famous sayings from our childhood came back to me once again… I heard it in my head like it was yesterday, she’d say, “You can’t out-give God.”

Since all things come from the hand of God, I’d say she’s right. My brother has more than enough reasons to not have shared with his friends, but that’s not the man God made my brother in heart, having been shaped by the hand of God through our parents. Nor is my nephew the man to fear the world when others in his shoes might fall apart like wet kleenex, due to the same shaping of God through his parents.

In this world, there will always be fear and difficult times ahead, but I’m not so sure there will be enough people left like my brother and nephews…

There’s a very good chance the legacy we leave behind won’t be measured by material things, but by the decisions and actions demonstrated during the tough times.

Fear my friends isn’t from God. I’m glad my brother reminded me of that this week…

SACRIFICING FUN FOR HONOR (and fun)

sacrificing fun for honor

THEY DON'T LOOK LIKE TOUGH LACROSSE PLAYERS! left to right, Carson, Brittany, Alexis, and Lily on a short spring break.

As we arrived at our gate at the airport we were pleasantly surprised to see Alexis, Carson, and Brittany there waiting to board the same airplane as us. Alexis commented that the coincidence should be worthy of my blog… How could I argue with that?

Like our little one, they are on spring break. The difference for them and the friends they’re going to meet is this will be their last spring break as kids still at home. Next year they’ll be at college, most will be at different colleges, some in different states.

I know these girls pretty well, I coached them for years. Which means for almost 6 months of every year I saw them almost every day of the week, year after year. To look at these girls and all the other girls I coached, I realize no one would probably ever be able to tell how dedicated they are.

A person might never be able to guess how much sweat and blood spill from their bodies over the years. Although all of them are good students and most of them excellent students, they’ve already learned what some people don’t learn their entire life.

Yes, they live and understand hard work, they also grasp the perseverance that has to accompany it. More importantly they savvy the sacrifice it takes to succeed in life.

While most kids their age are taking a full week off from school and all things associated with it, they’re just taking a long weekend. They will cut their vacation short and head back to Arizona to play Lacrosse.

They are continuing a tradition I began seven years ago. This trip for me is the first one I’ve taken without cutting it short like my lacrosse girls in those seven years. The program I was honored to be part of and contribute to has been and continues to be pretty successful, not just because we won more times than we lost, but because we all sacrificed in order to be able to say we did all we could do to succeed… “No Regrets”!

It is my opinion that there is no success in life without sacrifice. If someone considers sitting in front of a TV as the pinnacle of they’re life a success, I think they’re lying to themselves.

The question of sacrifice becomes who or what are we sacrificing for? It’s a delicate line between selflessness and selfishness and most of us dance back and forth over the line. When the sacrifice becomes an obsession it picks up too much steam and crashes through the barrier and falls into the valley of “too much of a good thing.”

That is my tendency… I’ve crawled out of that valley, up it’s slippery sides more times than I can recount. After all the trips back out I’ve sort of left myself a trail. It’s easier for me to recognize now when my sacrifice is ill-motivated or done with proper intention just taken too far.

Sometimes in life moderation feels like average. In truth, I think it does take passion, perseverance, and sacrifice pushed past center in order to succeed. It’s not easy to push, work, and sacrifice, if it were easy a lot more people would be doing it.

I hope as those girls push forward and sacrifice they take the time to consider their sacrifices and their motivations behind them. I especially hope they consider daily the ultimate sacrifice of Christ that allows confidence, power, and freedom over their flesh.

When I see my lacrosse girls my heart is always lifted, the pride rises in my soul. I’m proud of all of their hard work and sacrifice. I respect them for their choice to be the small minority of people who will push and sacrifice in order to find success that can only be defined by their attitude and action.

The next day I watched the U of A Wildcats take on the number 1 ranked USC Trojans. Three of my Lacrosse girls I coached did the brunt of the damage. Sacrificing fun for honor, they led the Trojans until about 8 minutes left in the game. The Wildcats ended up losing by 3 goals. I apologize to my girls who are now on their way back to Tucson, I can’t post the picture my wife took of them after the game. Mel, Kelse, and to my daughter Ali, I couldn’t be more proud. Those girls defined success today…  What an honor to watch…

I know they will carry what they’ve learned with them and pass it on to others and maybe even their children someday.

Where ever those girls go, whatever they do, they will take a piece of my heart with them… And they will wear it well…

CH-CH-CH-CH-CHANGES

changes

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“All good things must come to an end.” – “Nothing lasts forever.” – “Change is inevitable.” We’ve all heard sayings like these our entire life, I even quoted a few of them myself along the way.

It’s part of life, indeed everything does change in this physical world, the spiritual world I believe is another matter. Sometimes the physical world has an effect on our spiritual world through the emotional ties that bind the two together.

Some changes are gradual, although the wrinkles on my face seem to be picking up steam. I can’t pinpoint the day, week, month, or year when I started actually thinking before jumping down from out of a pick-up truck bed. I’m a long way from jumping off roofs racing my fellow workers to the lunch truck.

I was reminded of the inevitable changes in life again last week. I’ve been going to the same gym for over 15 years… Got notice the last day of this month is also the last day that the gym will be open.

I guess it’s true we’re creatures of habit, I’m not the only one lamenting the closing of that gym, I’ve made some good friends at that gym along the way. The interesting thing about many things including that gym is how it parallels life. Over the years going to that place it’s easy to look back and note the changes in thought and action along this road.

There was a time when I was more faithful to that gym than I was to God and most certainly any church. In the earlier days my priorities were almost the polar opposite of what they are now. It wasn’t as much about health as it was my pride and ego. Oh, it wasn’t just vanity, it was also the fun of healthy competition, pushing each other to do more, but it was all physical.

I remember the five different owners over those years, I recount some people who impacted my life that I’ll never get to see again. I can still see all three of my girls as toddlers and little kids doing their time in the children’s day care. My wife and I still laugh about how the little one used to say, “Daddy, I don’t want to go the gym.” How we imitate it now is how it was pronounced at the time. “Daddy, I doan-wanna-doe-ta-da-dim”!

I can also still picture my older girls and all of my lacrosse girls as high schooler’s working hard at that gym, many of them still do. They began an exercise regimen with a proper perspective, for immediate and long-term benefits.

Inside the doors of that gym led to lifelong friendships and business relationships outside the doors of that gym, into the doors of one another’s homes.

As with many changes somewhere along that 15 plus year timeline, I’ve become a little more mature. God’s opened my eyes to many things, I’ve gained a different perspective on life. In the end it’s really pretty simple, It’s the exact opposite of how I use to think.

It’s not always easy, in fact, it takes work and concentration to look and find it. It is this: It’s not all about me… Amazing it took so many years to figure out something so basic, but to know it in the head is much different than knowing it in heart.

Another change… I’ve had a few of them the last few years, many of us have. This reminds me of what God’s word says; all things in this world are temporary, only God and His sovereign will are eternal.

I’ll use this change to remind myself to enjoy the temporary gifts, to make the most out of each encounter. With any given person, we encounter in this gym of a life, we never know if it’s the last time we’ll have an opportunity to make a difference in their life. I’ve missed more than my fair share.

Who doesn’t want a pat on the back, a “How you doin’ today”? Those words spoken in earnest that lets someone know they matter. To all the people I might well never see again, May God call you and make your paths straight and narrow before you.

I will truly miss you…

DREAMS

dreams

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I’ve had some dreams in my life… Some good, some not so much. I’m fascinated with the human brain and the overall makeup that allows humans to imagine, reason, and create.

I don’t know of one human that after accomplishing something, whether significant or simple, hasn’t felt some sense of gratification. The dreams of humans have made significant changes in our world, some good, some bad.

Dreams rarely seem to take into consideration the rough spots in the road leading to that fulfillment of our dreams. I suppose there would be little to no gratification or sense of accomplishment without some obstacles to overcome along the way.

Some dreams happen when we’re asleep – subconsciously, or God-given visions, other dreams happen consciously with our eyes wide open seeing the opportunity or need. The reason or purpose behind our dreams or inspirations speak volumes about who we are and where we’re at in our life.

My wife and I were sitting in a bookstore a while back drinking coffee. Across from our table was the “Inspiration” section of the store, at the end of the isle facing us were some of the bestsellers. There was a book by a peculiar looking guy with wild hair and glasses sitting in a simple chair flanked by metal middle eastern statues of guard dogs. His legs were crossed, the side of his right ankle sitting on top of his left thigh, he had a tan business suit on with an orange tie and orange socks.

The subtitle of his book was “Billionaire So and So Tells You,” (I forgot his name and had never heard of him before) then the title of the book in bold letters right above and below his picture. “HOW TO GET RICH.”

I read some of those types of books when I was younger. It’s been my experience in life that if it’s a person’s main goal or dream in life to be rich then that person is living a shallow sad unfulfilled life.

However, if a person pursues a specific dream or goal with passion for the fulfillment of that dream when it has benefits, not just  for that person, but others as well, they will find a life of purpose and true fulfillment.

Interestingly enough, it’s also been my observation that the people who live their lives with passion and purpose with a proper moral perspective have enough financial means and some even get rich.

I’m left in awe and inspiration by some people who lived their lives and in some cases actually gave up their own life trying to fulfill their dreams or goals.

Mother Theresa comes to mind and how she gave up a life of comfort to care for people less privileged than herself. I’m also mindful of Martin Luther King Jr. and his life of sacrifice for what he believed God called him for. In a world of hate, he consistently spoke of the need for forgiveness, this for the people who hated him.

I consider George Washington along with all of our forefathers who risked their lives and wealth to form a nation with the goal of religious freedom, no royal class and equal rights for all men.

I think about all the people who sacrificed their lives in order to protect yours and mine, I’m emotionally moved by their dreams to protect, serve, and sacrifice for the benefit of us.

I believe it’s good to dream and have goals, I also believe the process of striving for the good dreams and goals gratifies our nature regardless of the ultimate outcome in most cases.

God’s in the business of dreams, He’s calling His chosen to dream like children and set about to make those dreams reality with the wisdom we’ve gained along the way.

I’ve had some dreams in my life…I still do…

How bout’ you?