Category Archives: Sports and Sporting Events

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)

Reflections on Personal Growth à la Rogue River

Today I want to share some peaceable reflections about who we are as people…what makes us good, happy, and a blessing:

overhanging-trees-along-the-rogue-river“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life
which are the real ones after all.”~Laura Ingalls Wilder  turtle-sunning-himself-on-rock-in-rogue-river “There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. That time is now.” ~Buddha alan-in-canoe“Who, being loved, is poor?” ~Oscar Wilde  canoeing-under-a-canopy-of-green-along-the-rogue-river“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments,
but what is woven into the lives of others.” ~Pericles leaf-drifting-on-water “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
~Henry David Thoreau  reid-splashing-in-rogue-river “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.”
~Mother Teresa  happy-young-canoeist “A smile is the shortest distance between two people.” ~Victor Borge

canoeing-on-rogue-river-bridge “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

above-reflected-below-on-rogue-river “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do
are in harmony.”~ Mahatma Gandhi  sunshine-on-grandson-on-rogue-river“Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help,
whose hope is in the Lord his God”
(Psalm 146:5).

 

 

Are You Living Life “Full Out”?

full-out-movieSpeaking of persevering in your dreams against all odds, we recently watched an incredibly inspirational movie, Full Out, based on the life of Ariana Berlin. Ariana was just fourteen and a budding Olympic-quality gymnast whose dreams were smashed in 2001 when she and her mom were hit by a speeding car on a freeway in San Diego. Ariana spent 5 days in an induced coma at the ICU: Both her lungs were collapsed and both legs broken as well as one wrist, a collar bone, and cracked ribs. Her injuries were so severe and her therapy so protracted that Ariana gave up her dream of becoming a world-class gymnast, although she eventually joined a troupe of hip hop dancers who were working at Sea World.  full-outFull Out is the fascinating story of Ariana Berlin’s recovery and all she went through to fulfill her gymnastic dreams. She made a tremendous comeback, graduating from UCLA with the rank of #4 in the nation! adriana-berlin-and-ana-goljaOne of the most exciting things to me is that Ariana actually served as her own stunt double! So, making the movie took Ariana’s dreams to a new level. At 26, Ariana decided to “go for it” and train again so she could impersonate what she’d been like at 18, even doing the “Full Out,” which she hadn’t been able to do for over 5 years. (A “Full Out” is a double somersault with a full twist done during the second somersault.)

full-out-ariana-berlinIf you’re looking for a family-friendly video that will motivate you
to persevere despite setbacks, try Full Out. It’s really awesome!

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.
(Luke 18:27)

Is it True that “Everything is Possible”?

everything-is-possible“A life without fear is a life without limits” (Jen Bricker). Have you ever heard of Nick Vujicic or Jen Bricker? I’d never heard of Jen Bricker before I read her book, Everything is Possible, which was just released last week, but she really does give me the feeling that with God, everything is possible…at least everything that God calls us to!  jen-bricker-with-her-adopted-brothersBorn without legs, Jen was abandoned by her parents at birth. Thankfully, an incredibly nurturing family adopted her and brought her up to love God and embrace her life and her body, learning to overcome what most of us would consider impossible barriers to become what she is today: an aerialist, a motivational speaker, an author, and best of all, a joyful, healthy individual who has turned her liability into an asset and lives an incredibly rich, fascinating, and fruitful life! jen-bricker-performingEverything is Possible has made me re-evaluate the way I look at challenges. If Jen could overcome huge physical, emotional, and spiritual obstacles without legs, it makes me realize that I’m a wimp by comparison. If you’re down in the dumps about your life problems, take a break to be inspired by Jen’s life story, then get to work realizing your dreams. As Jesus taught us:  “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).   jen-brickerA few of my favorite quotes from Jen’s book:

“As we try new things, we discover how strong we are and realize the only limits are the ones we impose on ourselves.”

“Our physical presence is only part of who we are as human beings. What’s inside is just as important, and maybe more so.”

“You too have talents, gifts, and abilities (I like to think of them as your personal superpowers) you were born with that are unique to you…The beauty of how God made us it that we don’t have to be jealous of someone else’s superpowers, because they weren’t meant for us. This one thing I would tell you to keep in your back pocket at all times: know that you are significant, you do matter, and what you have to offer is powerful.”

“God shows us the opportunities and puts them in our path, but we have to be strong enough to grab them and then hold on for all our worth.”

“I’ve learned that the more I surrender and let God take care of things, the better off I am. I get out of my own way, I get out of His way, and then I let Him do His work….My dreams are laughable when compared with God’s plans for my life! His gifts, ideas, and blessings are so much bigger and better than anything I could possible imagine!”

“CAN’T is a 4-letter word.”

“I finally realized something: God didn’t owe me an explanation. Sometimes He’s simply protecting us, and we have to trust that there is a lesson to be learned.”

“Sometimes you have to be your own hero. What I mean by that is that you have to fight for what you believe in and for what you want to happen.”

Anyway, Everything is Possible has a treasury of inspirational ideas on how to overcome what appear to be tragic circumstances. It also gave me many insights into how to interact with those who have body shapes different from the norm.  Baker Book House has graciously given me an extra copy to give away, so if you’re interested in reading the book, I’ll give it to the first person to contact me via this blog, email, or Facebook. If you have a story to share about yourself or someone you know that might benefit us, please add it in the comment box. Thanks!!

2016 Olympics and Michael Phelps: “Live Your Passion!”

Michael_Phelps_wins_8th_gold_medal by Bryan Allison. FlickrAs the 2016 Olympics drew to a close yesterday, I’m sure all of us who participated—even if it was only marveling over the achievements of the contestants—were inspired by some of the exciting events we witnessed. To me (and many), the most exciting story is that of Michael Phelps, who was the flag bearer for the U.S. in the Parade of Nations and is the most decorated Olympian in world history. As of today, Phelps has participated in five Olympics and won 28 medals, 23 of them gold (dwarfing the second highest record of 9 golds). Michael_Phelps_2012 by Jay Baker. Wiki Commons via FlickrIf you don’t know his story, let me tell you just a few of the highlights I’ve learned. Michael Fred Phelps II started swimming when he was seven, and by the time he was ten, he held the U.S. record for his age in the 100-meter butterfly. By fifteen, he became the youngest male to make the U.S. Olympic swim team in 68 years. Although he didn’t win any medals in the 2000 Olympics, he did finish with the team, and his career path was set! During the 2004 and 2008 Olympics he became increasingly famous for his incredible achievements, so much so that he was even suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs, which was proved to be totally false after he passed all nine tests that were administered to him during the 2008 Olympics.

Although Phelps played it straight as an athlete, he had serious problems with alcohol, which caused him trouble as early as 2004 when he was arrested for  driving under the influence in Maryland. Over the next decade, his personal life continued to deteriorate, until, as he explained on ESPN, “I was a train wreck. I was like a time bomb, waiting to go off. I had no self-esteem, no self-worth. There were times where I didn’t want to be here. It was not good. I felt lost.”

In 2014, Phelps was arrested again and given a DUI (for driving under the influence). According to a report in Chuck Colson’s Breakpoint, “In the immediate aftermath of that DUI arrest, he cut himself off from family and other loved ones and ‘thought the world would just be better off without me . . . I figured that was the best thing to do — just end my life’.”  The Purpose Driven LifeAt that point, a friend (Ray Lewis, All-Pro linebacker and devout Christian) persuaded Phelps to enter a rehab program and gave him a book to read: The Purpose-Driven Life, by Rick Warren, which Phelps read. Phelps told ESPN that the book “turned me into believing there is a power greater than myself and there is a purpose for me on this planet.” In fact, reading the book had a radically transforming impact on Michael Phelps. He told Ray Lewis, “Man this book is crazy . . .  The thing that’s going on . . . oh my gosh . . . my brain, I can’t thank you . . . enough, man. You saved my life.”

And, indeed, it seems to have done just that! According to the Los Angeles Times, 31-year-old Michael Phelps at times “shook his head in disbelief at the stream of victories. He repeatedly laughed, kissed his son, Boomer, after races and shed tears during some medal ceremonies.”

The motto for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro has been “Live Your Passion,” and it’s obvious that Michael Phelps has been doing just that. But, he’s learned to lean on God to turn his passion into joyful reality. His story has inspired me, and I hope it also encourages you! What’s your passion? God can do in us what we cannot accomplish on our own! He is able.

And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).

(For the fuller story of Michael Phelps conversion, see http://www.breakpoint.org/features-columns/discourse )