How to Leave the Ballpark with 1 More Ball Than You Had When You Got There….

imgresSpring Time in Florida.  Days like today (68 degrees and sunny) makes the dog days of summer just a bit more bearable.

Other than the ungodly pollen count, Spring Training Baseball is a sure sign that summer is around the corner.  Fifteen teams open their Spring Training today in the sunshine state. And most boys (big and little) love baseball. It’s a rite of passage, really, catching a foul ball.  Who knew this was an art?

One of my best memories of attending a baseball game was snagging a foul ball…(yes, it was most unfortunate that the elderly grandma had to go down).  The other best baseball memory involves my mom, the Braves, a hill, and her “grippers”, but I digress.  But some 20 years later, I still hold onto my catch of a lifetime.

That very memory came flooding back when I read the following article in Mens Health.

Aside from actual baseball players, the one key ingredient to a great major-league ball game is, of course, the ball. Without it, you’ve got 50 guys wearing funny clothes on a huge putting green. But toss a ball out there and you’ve got the Great American Pastime. No wonder a baseball–one you catch fresh and right off the bat–is the souvenir of choice for any fan, boy or man. Here’s how to leave the ballpark with one more ball than you had when you got there.

1. The easy way. Go to batting practice, where they practically give away souvenir baseballs. Aging coaches lob softball pitches to twentysomething sluggers–and the result is a concessionaire’s nightmare. Arrive about a half- hour before B.P. starts and stand on an aisle, next to the field, about three-quarters of the way from third base to the foul pole. Why there? Because God created more right-handed batters than left-handed batters, and during B.P., most of them will pull the ball like crazy.

2. The hard way. Catching a baseball while the game is in progress is another thing. In the first place, there are 50,000 bodies between you and the ball. Worse, a thousand mysterious details will determine how many fouls will be hit and where they are likely to land. Check out the pitching matchup. If you’re watching left-handed pitchers, pick a seat along the first-base line. A lefty pitcher means the batting lineup will be stacked with righties. In an actual game, it’s harder to pull the ball; right handed batters are more likely to come around late and foul balls toward the first-base side. (If the pitcher is a right-hander, the situation is reversed.)

Choose your alley. The best place to snag a ball is in the alley between third and the foul pole–but only if the wall separating the stands from the field is low enough to reach over. At Yankee Stadium, for example, there are points about 100 feet down the first- and third-base lines where the wall is only 2 or 3 feet high–short enough for even a kid to grab a rolling grounder gone foul. There are other areas of the grandstand where a particular type of foul is likely to land.

Go prepared. If you want to catch a ball, bring a glove. Duh. A line drive off a 90 mph fastball is traveling at 120 to 150 mph. Guys who try to catch one of those barehanded go straight to stupid jail. If a ball’s coming toward you and you don’t have a glove- -but you have the desire– anything will do. You can use a beer cup, in a pinch, depending on how good the beer is. Popcorn bags also work pretty well. Bag a four-bagger. Catching a home-run ball is a lot more work and a lot more competitive. So if only a dinger will do, choose one of the first few seats around the foul poles. Our source for this is Zack, a freshman at Guilford College in North Carolina. Zack has more than 1,000 souvenir balls in his room at home. He knows. And he says that the prime seat for snagging a ball at Yankee Stadium is Box 325, row A, seat 6. The “seat 6″ part is a lie, of course, since to reveal the perfect seat would be to reveal too much. But it’s close enough for you to be able to reach over and nab one.

The crack of the wooden bat…the smell of cut grass…the umpire yelling “Play Ball”….yeah – I love spring.

How to Leave the Ballpark with 1 More Ball Than You Had When You Got There….

One of My Mentors Just Died

It’s been 3 years to this day that Marv Hubbard passed away.  For those of you that new him, I bet a piece of Marv lives on in your heart too.  As a tribute to him and the legacy he left to those who knew him, here is the blog I posted shortly after his death.  Thank you God for teaching us all a bit more about you through the life of Marv….

marv-hubbard

This one hit real close to home.

Marv Hubbard passed away early this morning, and I am grieving.

Marv, you taught me how to love.  You taught me about truth.  You taught me how to not only speak into another’s darkness, but to pull up a chair and live with them there.

When I was most unlovely Marv, you loved me.  You loved me enough to speak truth and life into my hurting soul.

You were an artist my friend,  not only with a brush and paint, but with your carefully crafted words on the canvas of many hearts.

I’ve spent the past 2 days going back through your Blogs and Tweets.  Your wisdom…..wow.  I’m missing you so much…..

Here are a few of my favorite quotes of yours:

  • The secret to this happiness thing is to give one’s life away, plowing it into the lives of others.
  • The agape love described in scripture means that you love, expecting nothing in return.
  • A line out Switchfoot’s new CD says “every breath is a second chance.” Fortunately I have had many breaths of atonement.
  • When we clear our pipelines to God and others of the junk in our lives, we are able to sense the leading of God and the needs of others.
  • I am beginning to realize that the worst place that I can be as a Christian is thinking that I have arrived.
  • Unless we come to grips with the mortality of life, we never see the importance of a daily decision for Christ to truly live.
  • True life is in fully accepting your mortality; realizing the joy of this day by recognizing that it could be your last.
  • The secret of contentment is learning to embrace the rain that falls in all of our lives. I rejoice in the people who embrace the rain.
  • The time has come where we need to do more than speak into people’s darkness. We need to live with them in their darkness to show the light.

I miss you Marv.  Thank you for your legacy.  Thank you for your love.  Thank you for showing me what true love looks like.

Even in your death Marv Hubbard, your legacy lives on.

May we all, even in death, find life…..

One of My Mentors Just Died

Red Thread Epoch

imgres-1Sometimes “God moments” occur with a big boom!

Other times He gets our attention through a series of seemingly unconnected happenings.  I prefer the series myself.  I love looking back to find the one red thread woven through multiple instances, sewn by our Creator, to bring us to an EPOCH, an instant in our life where He speaks so clearly.  God used 4 to bring me to my epoch….

NYSUM

Over lunch the other day my oldest daughter Mackenzie and her boyfriend Matt told me  that they are leading a youth group back to the New York School of Urban Ministry this summer. Wow, flashback!  I spent 4 summers taking youth groups to the city with one purpose – to minister to those hurting in the inner city.  We worked soup kitchens, AIDS hospitals, projects, and homeless shelters.  After all, God tells us to love the unlovely, right?

I loved it. So happy and proud of them….

But somewhere I lost my love for it.  I guess life got in the way.

Community Group

I love our friends that gather at our home on Monday nights to share in each others ups and downs.  Last Monday, one of our friends shared how she didn’t minister to someone in need. And it really bothered her. It bothered me for her.

But it really didn’t move me to action. At least not right away.

I lost my love for those who are hard to love, ’cause life got in the way.

Tampa Epoch

Why would he be any different from the other homeless panhandlers I pass on the street corners every day?  I’m too busy to bother. But he was different.  He had newspapers in his hand to sell, and it wasn’t a Sunday.  Odd.  Wait… I remembered reading about this program!  He was selling the Tampa Epoch, a monthly street newspaper that focuses on homelessness and poverty. It’s distributed by homeless and formerly homeless vendors who keep the profit from the papers they sell.  I had some loose change, and the light had just turned red, why not?

I’d read the paper, but it really didn’t move me.  I once really cared for those less fortunate.

But I somewhere lost that love, cause life got in the way.

David

Over a lazy Sunday lunch, after the plates had all been cleared and we were all kicking back with good cup of coffee, the subject of being homeless and panhandling came up.  Odd.  The thread. Really God?  I listened, partly at least, somewhat distracted by that first moment when you realize that woven thread connecting a series of events that God is using to get your attention.

Quick background on David – he is a retired social worker who dedicated his life to helping those less fortunate.

I tuned back in when David said the following: “I intentionally carry some cash on me  to give to a panhandler or homeless person.”  In my living room of Christians, the puzzled looks were everywhere.  He continued “I don’t care if they use my money to buy drugs or alcohol.  If it gets them through today, their life saving help may happen tomorrow.” Stunned silence.  You see, David is street smart.  He knows that many give up, commit suicide. And his dollar may just be the bridge that God uses to get them to tomorrow.  And tomorrow may be their EPOCH….who are we to think otherwise?

God used NYSUM, Tampa Epoch, a missed opportunity to love, and a bold statement by David to get my attention.

Love got in my way, and now the busyness of life seems less urgent.

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Red Thread Epoch

I Dare You…

I am my Beloved’s, and His desire is for me. (Song of Solomon 7:10)imgres

If we could somehow get that, I mean REALLY get that…wow… things would be so different for all of us.

On the encouragement from my 2nd favorite all time author, Brennan Manning, I’ve been praying the above verse…over and over and over.  The spiritual transformation has begun.  Brennan tells me that when I begin to take those words personally, VERY personally, a number of beautiful things come to pass:

  • The drum beats of doom in you head will be replaced by a song in your heart, which could lead to a twinkle in your eye.
  • You will not be dependent on the company of others to ease your loneliness, for He is Emmanuel-God with us.
  • The praise of others will not send your spirit soaring, nor will their criticism plunge you into the pit. Their rejection may make you sick, but it will not be a sickness unto death.
  • In a significant interior development, you will move from I should pray to I must pray.
  • You will live with an awareness that the Father not only loves you, but likes you.
  • You will stop comparing yourself with others. In the same way, you will not trumpet your own importance, boast about your victories, or feel superior to anyone.
  • You will read Zephaniah 3:17-18 and see God dancing for joy because of YOU!!!!  – “He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
  • Off and on throughout the day, you will just know that you are being seen by Jesus with a gaze of infinite tenderness.

“I’ve come to believe that in everyone’s life, there’s one undeniable moment of change, a set of circumstances that suddenly alters everything.”
― Nicholas SparksSafe Haven

Try it with me.  I dare you…..

I Dare You…

Relationship Trends – As Told By Facebook

Facebook knows you….and me….

We tell Facebook our life!  And it listens, learns, and remembers.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, the folks at Facebook Storiesimgres analyzed it’s users’ top V-Day trends as told through status updates, playlists and check-ins. The restaurant data is pulled from user check-ins on Feb. 14, 2012; the playlist data is based on which songs users listened to most before and after posting relationships as Life Events on Facebook in the United States.

For Valentines Day here’s a look at some of the ways love unfolds on Facebook (thanks Mashable):

A few of the top relationship songs:

  •  Wanted (Hunter Hayes)
  •  Ho Hey (Lumineers)
  •  I Dont Want This Night to End (Luke Bryan)

A few of the top breakup songs:

  • Wide Awake (Katy Perry)
  • We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (Taylor Swift)
  • One More Night (Maroon 5)

3 of the most checked into restaurants on Valentines Day around the country:

  • Maggiano’s Little Italy
  • Del Frisco’s Steakhouse
  • The Melting Pot

Most Popular Days for Relationship Milestones:

  • First Met = New Years Eve
  • Added “In a Relationship” = Valentine’s Day
  • Engagement = Christmas Eve
  • Married = Valentine’s Day

Thanks for listening so well Facebook.  Now thats love…..

Relationship Trends – As Told By Facebook

Of Tacos, Visions, and Quite Possibly the Best Valentines Gift Ever…

imgresI love a well crafted question.

It’s an art, really.  A deftly constructed question leaves you no out.  It holds your hand as it takes you to the heart of the issue…sits you down face to face with it, and then fades quietly into the background. Just you and the issue, alone. Awkward.  No out.  No escape.

Kinda like the one my wise dad asked me over Taco Tuesday this week.

There I was, happy to be hangin’ with my dad, chompin’ on some chips and salsa and trying to keep the crunchy taco out of my lap when he asked:

“What is your vision….for your marriage?” (cue screeching halt noise;  taco crumbling into my lap).

Vision for my marriage?  I just GOT married!  I’m still kinda on my Honeymoon….kinda!?!?!?

He crafted the question in such a way that left me no out – no attempt at humor – no diversionary tactic was left at my disposal.

I’m a business man – I have a business vision.  I’m a coach – I have a team vision.  But a marriage vision?

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29:18

We both have a failed marriage to prove that proverb true.

If we don’t have a vision for our marriages, the likelihood of failure increases with each passing year.  If you are married, do you have a vision for yours?  What are the dreams and hopes for your marriage?  And what are you doing today to work towards fulfilling them.  We should NEVER stop dreaming and hoping!  And please dont tell me that your vision is just to never divorce….to make it your 50th anniversary so that you can brag to your friends and celebrate this sometimes empty milestone.  God intended marriage to be so much more than that.

Today I am crafting my vision for my marriage, and I can’t wait to share it with Laura and to hear what her vision is too.  And then together working to make our marriage the best it can be.

Maybe, just maybe, this kind of gift will be eternally more significant than any card and box of chocolates I could buy Laura for Valentines Day….

What is your vision for your marriage?

Of Tacos, Visions, and Quite Possibly the Best Valentines Gift Ever…

More Candor, please….

Welcome to our cafe…imgres-1

Pull up a chair.

May I share today’s special with you? I think you may love it.  Perhaps you’re familiar with it?  I wasn’t before this morning, but after just a taste, mmmm, wow.  I want more….lots more!

Our chef calls it – Candor.

I’ll try to explain, remember, it’s new to me too – being only accustomed to my people-pleasing style.  Candor is a virtue, a Latin word meaning whiteness, pure, unreserved, honest, or sincere expression without any fear of pressure.

Sound refreshing?….yeah, me too…I thought the same thing.

Someone who speaks with candor doesn’t mince her words. If you are characterized as a person of candor, I admire you.  I want to be more like you.  It’s so tedious going through the mental exercise of dissecting every spoken or written word.  I yearn to communicate with candor.

But candor is not the entrée, it’s an accoutrement (fancy French word meaning accessory). Candor only comes alive when it serves LOVE.

As with all virtues, becoming a student of candor is an art…a talent.  Risky?  Sure, but if we truly want to speak the truth in love, we must learn to speak with candor.

I snuck a peek at The Chef’s Candor recipe.  Here’s what I saw:

  • a dash of Timing
  • a pinch of Discernment
  • a handful of Compassion
  • and 7 cups of LOVE

Would you like a taste?  Soooo gooooooood…..

More Candor, please….