Saturday, February 20, 2010

You Don't have to Play Baseball

Little league baseball was probably on of my fondest memories as a child. Everyone in my town always made a really big deal about baseball. I mean a really big deal. On opening day we would have a parade through town where all of the teams would march int their new uniforms. The crowds on the sidewalks were filled with parents, neighbors, and anyone that happened to live around that knew about opening day. The parade would go all the way through town and end up at the baseball fields where vendors were set up. You could get hot dogs, crab cakes, lemonade, and sno-balls. At night, sometimes, there were even fireworks. Little league baseball was a big deal.

I can remember begging my parents to let me play. I was only seven or so at the time and it seemed like it was the most important thing to me. I knew that most of my school friends would be there, and some kids from other neighborhoods. I just knew that it would be fun. I really wanted to play.

My parents said yes.

Like I said, I was about seven when I started playing. I remember my first team I was ever on. I remember meeting kids that didn't go to my school. My best friend to this day was on that team. As the years went by, kids on teams get switched around, and we get to make new friends. Pretty soon every kid in town knew every kid in town because of baseball. Baseball is cool.

There are many aspects to the game. You get to hang out with your friends, you get to get dirty, you get to learn important lessons about teamwork, and most of all, you get to spend a little time with your parents to and from games. Baseball is cool.

I played shortstop mostly. Sometimes second, third, or even pitched a game or two. I was a pretty good player. Nothing ever got by me and I hit the ball more times than I missed. I got to play a lot. Baseball is cool.

My dad used to come to my games and watch me play. This made me happy since he never seemed to be to concerned with me otherwise. Whether or not that's how it was, that's how I remember. Anyway, he did come to my games. I can remember year after year he sat in the bleachers and watched me play. How I knew that he was watching is every time that I made a great play, I would look to see if he had seen it. Whenever I hit the ball between right and center to give myself more time to get to third, I would look to see if he was watching. He was. When I stole second, he was watching. When I scored the winning run, he was watching. Most of the time he was even cheering! At the sight of this I knew that he was my dad and I was his son. This was great! It seemed the better I played, the more my dad loved me. Baseball is the coolest!

This is where I learned a behavior that stayed with me through most of my life. Perform loved.

When I entered into the work world, I naturally fell into positions that were performance based. Budgets, sales goals, cost cutting, anything with a measuring stick, I became good at. I was all about performing well. This actually did me quite well in the work environment. I became the best at what I did.

I did learn the hard way that this principle doesn't fair too well in the relationship world. I have had my share of failed relationships because of my need to perform well to be loved. I spent most of my life feeling alone because I couldn't understand the difference between "what I did" and "who I was." Maybe at the time there was no difference. Baseball isn't so cool anymore.

The truth of the matter is this. God doesn't really care if I play baseball well. I AM his son and He IS my father. For God so loved the world, not because anyone was performing anything. He loved us because of who we are. Not what we do. Unconditionally. I don' t have to be a rock star. I don't have to be a surgeon. I don't have to be anything for God to love me. I just have to be me.

I love the people in my my life. I ask you to do the same.

Love is patient, love is kind, love is not when you score a home run.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Building Fences

My family lives on a farm. On the farm where we live there are cows, horses, ponies, goats, dogs, and a donkey. This means that there is fencing everywhere to keep the barnyard buddies safe.

A few weeks back, we got a little ice on the roads and I witnessed a truck skid from one side of the road to the next, down the embankment, and right through the front fence. (The driver was okay, just a little shaken) After everything got settled I remember thinking to myself "good thing he went through that side of the fence". What I meant by that was the fact that there were no animals currently in that pasture.

People usually build fences for two main reasons. One is to keep things out and the other to keep things in.

I hadn't spoken to my father for twelve years. Prior to that, and even during, there were many situations that I had felt wronged in some way or another by my father, so I thought. I started separating myself from him, building my fence one board, or wronging, at a time. As I got older and I was able to reason a little bit, I got better at building my fence. Pretty soon I was throwing up boards to separate me from him or him from me as fast as I could. One day I remember tearing down that fence that I had spent years working only to start replacing it with a wall. One big section of block at a time. Block after block after block. Pretty soon I had a rock solid barrier between me and my father. That was the beginning of the twelve years.

I had a nice wall. I maintained it well. Back when it was just a fence is when I started weed whacking around it. Anything that tried to deteriorate my wall was quickly cut down and disposed of. I liked my wall, it was serving it's purpose well. It was keeping me in, and my father out. That was it's job.

One day, as I was maintaining my wall, blaming something on my father that he didn't have anything to do with, I noticed something. I took out my ladder and climbed to the top of the wall and looked over the other side to see what my father was doing. He was going about life as normal. This made me very angry. "How can he not see my great wall?" Then it hit me.

It was MY wall. I built it. I maintained it. I trimmed around it. It was MY wall, not his. He had no idea that I was even constructing a fence. I had done such a great job of separating myself...I never let him know even about that first board. This is when I made my final decision concerning my wall. It had to come down.

What I find most interesting about God is that he doesn't mess with our ability to choose. We even have a choice when it concerns him. With my father, I made a lot of choices. My choices all were geared to separate me from him. Then one day I chose not to do that anymore. I CHOSE. Simple as that. I used my father and my wall as an excuse for every bad thing that happened to me. He was my scapegoat. This was unfair to him. I also chose not to let him know how I felt. Thus, securing the footing of my wall.
But once again, it was MY choice.

Are there any fences in your life that you have built?

Do you have a pretty good Maintenance Program?

Do you tend to your fence on a regular basis?

My fence cost me twelve years without my father. I built that fence, I maintained that fence, and now I realize that I didn't have to. No fence is that important. There is a peace in letting things go.

I hope this may be able to help someone. There are a lot of broken relationships in the world and the more people I talk to, the surprising reality is that only one side has built a fence. Yes, you may have had a giant disagreement about something, but remember this, it's YOUR choice.

As I dig up that last block in the destruction of my fence, I have one last thing to do...


I am sorry for building my fence...please forgive me.


Your Son


Monday, February 15, 2010

Garbage In- Garbage Out

"Your face is going to freeze like that!"
We have all heard our mother, grandmother, or teacher tell us these very words. That was my grandmother's immediate response whenever I made a face at my little sis. I had to stop and think for a moment as to what life would be like of my face did actually freeze with my tongue sticking out!

As I get older, I realize that things much worse are happening than peoples faces freezing in certain unbecoming positions. I think what is being pointed out in the previously mentioned statement, is that if we engage in a certain ugliness it will become a part of us.
My tongue has been sticking for a long long time.

Just like your face, when you are put in certain situations, you tend to pick up parts of that situation that become a part of you. When you are exposed to bad things, you pick up bad things. When you are exposed to good things, you pick up good things. They say that in a five year period, you become who you hang around with, what you watch, and what you read. (I don't know who "they" are so don't ask me) What I personally know is that when you go to boot camp, spend three months around well trained killing machines, you become a well trained killing machine. Slightly different, but you get the point.

I know a pastor that deliberately avoids people that are Debbie Downers. Although I personally do not agree with this, he says it's because he doesn't want the negative to rub off on him. I know that exposure to negativity is like a cancer, it can quickly spread.

How do you protect yourself from the world though? We live in a fallen world, full of ugliness, commercialism, t.v. shows that expose everything about human nature, divorce rates through the roof, I think you get the point. It seems that the bad has outweighed the good in our lives somewhere along the line. We take advise from people that have no business giving advise. We watch to see what everybody else is doing before we make a move on anything. No wonder we are referred to as sheep!!!

I think I may have rambled a little there. I will try to stay focused.

We have no choice but to live in a world that is fallen.
We will be exposed to things of the world, both good and bad.

What do we do then?

I see this very simply. If you are a Christian, as in follower of Christ, you have a built in filtration system. (For the longest time, I did not have any kind of filtering!) What I mean is, God says that we should daily read his Word. Not to memorize scripture, or be able to have that zinger when confronted about something, but for the simple fact that "you are what you eat".

I can only relate this fact as to how I see it. When I am presented with something that is worldly, my filtration system kicks in and protects me from the worldly outcome. No don't get me wrong, I do hit the override switch probably more than I should, but I eventually come back to filtering things through God. It's like your water that comes out of your tap. You could drink it and at first you would be okay. But over time those particles, or whatever is in tap water, can make you sick. So what do you do? You by a filter to protect you from the sickness. God is your filter for life. Plain and simple. I can go on forever with examples in my life where I didn't turn the switch on, but my fingers would fall off with all the typing.

This is what I know. I have made a mess of things more than once. I have run out of ways to fix things. I haven't seen hope on the other side of things. When I started going to God with things, things started to not be so bad. And even when they were, He was able to show me the other side, the CLEAN water, with no crud.

I don't know where most of you are in your life. I don't know what problems you face, or are facing. What I do know is my journey. Most of you reading this have known me at some part of that journey. Each one of you has played an important role in shaping who I have become and I thank you all for that. Above all, I thank God for putting you in my path. I thank Him for the lessons that I have learned, and hopefully along the way, one or two of you were blessed at the same time. I also thank God for the chance to be able to share what he has placed on my heart. (yes, Larry, I have one)

I hope that this may help someone. I was a big mess. Now, not so big. I pray the same for you.

When I turn around and look for my crud, it's always stuck on the cross.
Thank you, Jesus, for being my filter.