Enjoying A Miracle Season

Are you all excited about the fall sports season? I love all the inspiring movies based on true stories have been coming out in the past few years. One I missed from 2018 until recently is The Miracle Season, which recounts the triumph of joy over sorrow just a few years ago during 2011 when a group of high school girls from West High in Iowa City tried to rally after losing their star player through a tragic accident.

Danika Yarosh as Caroline “Line” Found

Caroline “Line” Found was the sort of person who loved everybody and was loved by everybody.

William Hurt as Dr. Ernie Found

Her father, a surgeon, was also very involved in trying to foster team spirit and good will between the team members and throughout the community.

The Real “Found” Family

However, he had his own set of heartaches,
not the least of which was the fact that his deeply loved wife was dying.

Helen Hunt as Coach Kathy Bresnahan

Their coach (who won National Coach of the Year in 2011)
was dealing with a lot of pain and loss in her personal life as well.

Erin Moriarty as Kelley Fliehler

Of course, the kids on the team—and especially Caroline’s best friend from childhood, who was chosen to replace “Line” as the team’s center—were all totally traumatized by the loss and emotionally immobilized.

Although West High’s volleyball team had been the state champions in 2010, they lost every game in the fall of 2011 until they would have to win all fifteen of the last games in order to qualify for the championship playoffs.

Could they do it? What happened? Wanna know?

If you’ve got a free evening for a heart-rending, heart-warming story of overcoming sorrow to “Live Like Line!” (giving life all the best you’ve got), take time for The Miracle Season.

You never know, it just might spark a miracle season this fall in your own life too!

After all, God is the God of the impossible, and He delights in helping us when we cry out to Him for help!

Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:1-2).

Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jeremiah 32:17).

Lessons Learned from a Deep Sea Fisherman

Of course I admit to being prejudiced, but I have some of the world’s coolest relatives, and among them is my brother-in-law, Frank. (In this photo, he’s part of a floating parade themed on the explorers who discovered the Californian coast, although he doesn’t usually dress in velvet for his fishing trips.  🙂  )

Frank’s been fishing since he was four, back in the days when his dad had a dairy farm close to the Sacramento River. For the past 50+ years, he’s fallen in love with deep sea fishing, and he says there isn’t anything in the world that brings him closer to nature than being miles out in the ocean, breathing pure air and surrounded by nothing but sky and sea.  I’ve never been deep sea fishing, so I decided to ask Frank it he’d share a few of his experiences with us in conjunction with thinking about Jesus’s commands: “Launch out into the deep for a draught” and “Fear not.”Because, I’m convinced that even though we are often afraid to launch out, God usually blesses us with an amazing “catch,” just as he did for the disciples. So, what are some of the lessons I learned from talking to Frank? I’m going to mention what I learned about fishing, but I’ve also been having fun thinking about spiritual parallels between catching “fish” and what it might take to become a “fisher of men.” If you think of anything as you read this list, I’d love to hear your thoughts!*You have to be willing to get up way earlier than normal people need to, even when it’s cold and wet and dark out! (I remember Frank getting up at 4:00 a.m. to take his young son out salmon fishing on Saturdays.) *You have to watch the weather and water conditions constantly and make sure your boat is mechanically sound so it can handle the trip and withstand any unexpected storms. *You always need to have radio communication with the Coast Guard in case you need rescue, which did happen to Frank once when he was 14 miles out. His boat quit unexpectedly in really rough water and had drifted to within a quarter of a mile of some deadly rocks. Frank’s uncle had drowned just the year before, so he was extremely thankful that the Coast Guard was able to rescue him in time!  *It takes a lot of love and work to share your experiences with others, but it’s worth the cost, because that’s what it’s all about! Frank’s scariest adventure was when he had taken a group of 13 friends 27 miles out from the Golden Gate to fish near the Farollones Islands and a vicious storm blew up. (The photo above is not from this trip.) Everybody was so seasick that they couldn’t do anything to help but throw up (which wasn’t really helpful), so he tucked them all inside while he and his (double-lifejacketed) eight-year-old son wrestled to keep the boat upright. Despite their best efforts, the boat rolled over, and he thought she was going down and they’d all drown. Thankfully, the boat righted itself, and although they lost all 13 rods and reels and their 3 tackle boxes, everybody survived to tell about it!*It’s a lot more fun to fish with friends, but it’s also almost impossible alone if you’re doing something complicated, like crabbing.*If you want to catch anything—be it fish or crabs or shrimp—you have to go where they are! Frank’s longest trip was a 5-week cruise up the coast to Alaska and back in search of crabs and shrimp.   *You have to use different types of bait depending on what you want to catch. You can troll for salmon with anchovies or a lure called a “watermelon.” Rock cod like squid, but you  have to use a small, round weight and bounce the weight off the bottom, because rock cod swim near the bottom. *Crabs like any kind of meat that smells bad. Frank saves the guts, heads, and skeletons of his fish for bait, although crabs also like chicken parts and squid. *Crabs live about 200′ deep in the ocean, so after the crab pots are baited, they are lowered with 230′ of line and 2 floats about 8-10′ apart to mark the spot.*Frank uses his GPS to retrieve his pots, and if he doesn’t have enough weight on his traps, they can be caught in currents and carried away so that he never finds them again.*Also, sometimes people find his crab pots and steal the crabs when he’s not there. 😦  *It’s not  unusual for Frank (and his crabbing buddies) to fight 10-12′ waves while trying to pull up the traps. He has a big crab pot retriever and a hook to help lift the pots into his boat.*There will be some unforgettably wonderful experiences if you persevere in fishing. Frank’s all-time favorite memory of deep sea fishing was a trip back in August of 1977 with his friend Bill. It was a perfect day, and when they were 100 miles off the coast of San Diego, he hooked a 58.5 pound yellow fin tuna. It took him 2 hours and 40 minutes to reel in that beautiful baby!*As a last reflection, Frank said that fishing is great, and catching fish is a thrill, but the greatest thrill of all is just going fishing, whether or not you catch anything!*However, just like Jesus blessed his disciples with a huge catch, if we’re willing to follow Jesus, we’ll probably have many wonderful experiences where we are visibly rewarded for all our hard work!                                                  Ready to go fishing?

And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” (Luke 5:10, maybe even some crabby ones!  🙂  )

You Must Strengthen Your Core!

Here is a meditation and some beautiful photos that my friend Charylene Powers shared with me, with a spiritual analogy that the Lord gave her during her morning prayer time recently. As the end of 2017 approaches and we consider where we’ve been and where we’d like to go next year, perhaps this will encourage us.

From the side of the therapy pool my Back Splash instructor looks down at me with compassion and understanding in her eyes and says, “You MUST strengthen your core.”  It is a bone chilling January morning. As I back out of my driveway, the snow crunches under the weight of my car tires. I’m leaving for the MVP therapy pool in the darkness of early morning. My back pain has pretty much put a halt to life as I have known it. Immersing myself in the warmth of the therapy pool every morning is about all I can do.  One morning a week, I am attending a Back Splash class offered at MVP. There are usually ten ladies in attendance; all of us with muscle and joint problems. Our instructor directs us to the deep end of the pool, which prevents us from touching the bottom of the pool.  She continues to instruct us saying, “place the swim noodle under your arms and hang straight down, straight as a pencil, back straight, legs together. Look straight ahead; your head is the eraser.” These instructions sound easy enough. However, as I try to follow her directions, my legs float off to the right. I struggle in the water trying to control my body, and I attempt the pencil formation once again. This time my legs float off to the left….and this is when I hear, “You MUST strengthen your core!”   After weeks of daily trips to MVP and attending my Back Splash class, faithfully practicing all the exercises that I am being taught, I am finally able to hold a perfect pencil formation as my instructor counts off the seconds.  Spring is approaching, I am back on my bike….riding down the bike path, enjoying a strengthened core and the freedom that brings.   I have another core: My spiritual core. How do I strengthen my spiritual core? The same way that I strengthen my physical core. Daily, I must practice the spiritual disciplines that keep me on the path that God has asked me to walk. “Not turning aside to the right or to the left.”  In Celebration of Discipline, R.J. Foster tells us “God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving His grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that He can transform us.”  ……hence as I practice spiritual disciplines, it is God who strengthens my spiritual core.   As I read and mediate on God’s Word, the Psalmist tells me, “His Word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.” The path God has chosen for me. “The Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” This is my powerful promise from God.  Prayer is how I communicate with God. I hear His “gentle whisper” and feel His “Divine nudging.” In Luke one of the disciples asks, “Lord teach us to pray.” The Lord will teach me to pray as He taught His disciples. When I do not know what to pray the Holy Spirit directs my thoughts. The more I pray the more, I long to pray and “praying without ceasing” becomes a reality in my life not just a desire.   Fasting has been a part of the Christian tradition for centuries. It is a discipline that Christ talks about in Matthew… “when you fast.” Why am I not pursuing this discipline like I do the other disciplines? Probably because I think it sounds like too much work and sacrifice. Maybe this is the discipline that would bring me closer to God ….. The key to my success in strengthening my physical core has been my daily trips to our health club and practicing all the exercises my caring instructor has given me….hence leading to the healing of my body and the freedom that brings.

The key to my success in strengthening my spiritual core is the same: Daily coming to my heavenly instructor and embracing the spiritual disciplines that He is teaching me….hence leading to the healing of my soul and the freedom that brings.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice
behind you saying ‘this is the way; walk in it’.”
(Isaiah 30:21).

 

Beyond the Board to Break Through

(Written by my dear friend, Lisa…)

Do you have six seconds for a powerful object lesson?

My daughter passed the first part of her Black Belt test in Tae Kwon Do and broke through 2 boards with her elbow for the first time at the test. In practice, she hit the middle of the board but didn’t break through, leaving bruises but no broken boards. It’s tempting to focus on the center of the boards because if she aims too high or too low, the boards won’t break.   The object lesson for me came from her training. She was taught that she can’t focus on the boards but must focus beyond them at the man holding them. If she aims for his chest, instead of the boards, she will have enough momentum to break through.

It reminded me that in prayer, it is tempting to focus on the challenges that I’m praying about, but that is the equivalent of looking at the board. We need to look beyond the problems to God and seek His heart, trusting Him to break through. He holds the ‘boards’ and us in His hands, and He is able. So I want to remember to look beyond to board … to the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 9:8, it says that “God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

I appreciate the repetition: All. All. All. All. No exceptions. God is able!

So I say with confidence, I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure” (Psalm 16:7-9).

New Records Set in Super Bowl 2017: It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over!

tom-brady-wiki-by-jeffrey-beallSuper Bowl LI set nearly 25 new records and tied another 7, making it the most startling and exciting in Super Bowl history! A sampling of the firsts included:

* First Super Bowl ever to go into overtime

*Tom Brady appeared in 7 Super Bowls, the most by any one player

*Bill Belichick won his 5th Super Bowl, the most games won by a head coach

*Tom Brady won his 5th Super Bowl (at age 39 no less), the most games won by any quarterback

*Most points scored: New England’s James White set two new records for a running back, 20 points and 14 receptions

*Tom Brady set a record for most receptions completed: 43

*Tom Brady also set a new record for most yards in Super Bowl history: 466

*New England Patriot’s set a new record for the largest deficit to overcome: 25 points (biggest before that had been just 10 points)

*Patriots set a new record for offensive plays: 93

*Tom Brady set a new record for most passes attempted: 63

super-bowl-51Talk about an exciting game!! Did you watch the Super Bowl? I didn’t.  Alan watched until near the end of the fourth quarter when Tevin Coleman received the six-yard pass that left the score at 28 for the Atlanta Falcons to only 3 for the New England Patriots. In all of Super Bowl history, no team had been able to recover and win with stats like that, so Alan didn’t want to stay up just to watch the bitter end. Fine by me. I was getting sleepy anyway, and I didn’t know one team from another.

Imagine our surprise the next morning when we heard that the Patriots made an unbelievable comeback, tied the score at 28:28 by the end of the game, and then went on to win 34:28 in overtime. As the beloved catcher for the the New York Yankees, Yogi Berra used to say, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” And, he should know, because he had a lot of exciting comebacks over the years after his games looked lost. He was a fighter! Did you know that Yogi’s record of winning 10 World Series Baseball Championships and being an 18-time All Star hasn’t been broken in the 45 years since he retired? Talk about never giving up. Super inspiring!1953_bowman_yogi_berra-wiki

To me, this Super Bowl is also super inspiring! Are you struggling with something? Feeling discouraged and overwhelmed, like you’ll never be able to climb out of the hole you’re in? Your life and my life ain’t over ’til they’re over. Let’s keep fighting and never give up! Recovery from the “largest deficit in history” may seem impossible, but don’t give up and fall asleep! Victory is possible, whether it’s financial, moral, physical, emotional, spiritual, or whatever! By the way, if you’re over your head and need help, God is here; He loves you; He’s available! Just ask! It probably won’t be easy, and it probably won’t be pretty, but it’s possible. Know it. Do it!

superbowlliA bruised reed he will not break,  and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory (Matthew 12:20, ESV).

The Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31:3, ESV).

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3, ESV).

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ
(1 Corinthians 15:57, ESV).

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4, ESV).

 

Reflections On The Devil’s Pool: Did The Devil Make Me Do It?

victoria-falls-from-zimbabwe-national-parkAs one who taught life saving and served as a water safety instructor for ten years,  and as one who swims around our little lake most days during the summers, I thought we’d do okay at the Devil’s Pool. team-on-livingstone-island-preparing-for-devils-poolAlan wasn’t going to go at all, but he did sign up at the last minute—mostly in hopes of keeping me from drowning, I think. We did survive, but after thinking it over, I personally feel that the adrenaline rush and excitement wasn’t worth the risk to life, limb, and health. Here are my reasons:

view-of-hippos-on-zambezi-river-from-royal-livingstone-hotel-zambia1. We had to swim in the Zambezi River,
where I’d seen hippos and crocodiles upstream.warning-about-the-danger-of-the-devils-pool-zambia2. Even though there had been a twenty-year drought and we visited just before the rainy season began, there were all kinds of safety issues. zambezi-river-on-way-to-devils-pool-victoria-falls3. There was a definite current to negotiate. rocky-path-to-the-devils-pool-victoria-falls4. We had to walk on somewhat slippery rocks to reach the river. starting-across-the-zambezi-river-to-livingstone-island5. We had to feel our way over slippery rocks under the water
for part of the time. swimming-to-the-devils-pool-victoria-falls6. We also had to swim upstream (up river) for a short distance.sitting-atop-victoria-falls-zambia 7. Logs or other debris could have hit us at any time. basking-in-the-devils-pool8. Fish nibbled at our feet and made us all jumpy. current-in-the-devils-pool-zambia9. One false move could have sent one of us over the edge. top-of-victoria-falls-at-the-devils-pool10. The rock ledge, though sturdy, will doubtless one day give way. devils-poo-victoria-fallsMay it not happen when anybody’s nearby!
(That was the #1 reason our tour guide didn’t want to try it.)

basking-in-the-devils-pool-victoria-falls11. Last, but perhaps most importantly (and I didn’t know this until we were having dinner  a week ago with some friends who do medical mission work in Africa), the Zambezi River is known to have a strain of parasitic Schistosomiasis which is a common in Sub-saharan Africa and can be lethal if not treated. There are some 200 million people affected world wide, half of whom live in Africa. Since learning this, I’ve made an appointment with my doctor for testing.  So, to answer my question: Did the Devil Make Me Do It? No. I chose to do it. Was it a wise choice? I don’t think so. Would I do it again? No. Did I pray about it? Yes. Why didn’t God tell me not to go? I’m not sure. I think sometimes God allows us to do things that aren’t wise, just like a parent allows his child to do things that the parent knows are risky. I do believe in God’s divine will (which cannot be altered) and His permissive will (which allows us freedom of choice). I prayed and didn’t get a clear “No,” so I went. And, as with all unwise decisions, there may be consequences I didn’t consider when I made my choice. In future, I think I want a clear “Yes” before making decisions, not just a “You may!”

Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him” (Proverbs 26:12)