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Walk with Me, part 1

 Walk with me.

“But…” we said.

Walk with me, he said.

 

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Baseball, Bankruptcy, and Belief

 “And we know that all things

work together for good to those who love God,

to those who are called according to God’s purpose.”

Romans 8:28

Starting a new work week is a good time to, well, “to start again,” as Billy Idol sang.

This is a long read but well worth your time. It’s from Dave Ramsey. If his name’s not familiar, bump on over to http://www.daveramsey.com and come on back.

My connection with him was initially through his books and broadcasts on a variety of platforms. I’ve since been able to spend time at his place in Nashville being trained as a Financial Coach by him and his staff.

DISCLAIMER: I like his material but am not a full-on card carrying Ramsey-ite as some I’ve met. (A Bogle-head maybe, but that’s another story for another time.)

All of that said, let me get out of Dave’s way. The following words are his but the highlights are mine if you’re in a hurry — 

When I was a little kid, my parents made the decision to cut all my hair off. For several years I was a burr-headed little kid. Twiggy was a famous model and had short hair and so my little sister had short hair . . . that was what they told us. I think it might have been because as a working mom, my mom did not want to fix hair.

In first grade I did what everyone in our neighborhood did—I signed up for Little League Baseball. We were the Cardinals with a red hat and a red T-shirt. Big time. We practiced and played on the ball fields at our school, Haywood Elementary. The big kids played on the real ball field around back with a proper diamond, backstop and bases. The shrimps played around front, a wire backstop, base lines, but primitive. It didn’t matter. We were the mighty Cardinals.

I was, am, really bad at baseball. Really, really bad. In those days we were not concerned about a little seven-year-old burr-headed kid’s feelings. If you were bad—did I mention I was bad—you were put in right field where almost no balls were hit. Right field is where you went to avoid being “left out.”

Our coach was a kind man, Coach Brewer. He lived one street over and was a plumber by day. Of course, his son was on the team, and he was coaching seven-year-olds on the primitive lot out front, but he loved kids. Saturday morning, I rode my bike half a mile to Haywood Elementary for practice. It was a clear summer day.

I have always been hyper and easily distracted. Something shiny and BOOM I am off in another direction. So, with right field not getting much action, I started watching jets fly over at 30,000 feet. Coach Brewer was hitting us fly balls and hit a pop fly to right field. That ball went straight up and straight down onto my face. I was watching jets and never saw it coming. Coach Brewer couldn’t do that if he tried and he certainly wouldn’t do that if he could. The ball hit me just below my nose on my upper lip and knocked me out. Knocked me out cold. A small, semi-dead, burr-headed kid laying in the dust.

I am sure poor coach Brewer was a mess thinking he had killed his star right fielder. I don’t remember getting home, and I heard later practice was canceled even though I came to. Coach had loaded my bike in the car and drove me home.

Next thing I know, my lip was swelled up like an Elvis impersonator and had small cuts on it that perfectly matched the stitching on a baseball. The next day my eye was slightly black, and I was famous in the neighborhood because I had been “Knocked Out Cold.” In my proud hillbilly heritage, we would never say, “He was rendered unconscious,” “He was on concussion protocol,” or even simply “He was knocked out.” We always add drama to our language, making us some of the best storytellers in the world. So, I was “Knocked Out Cold.”

The next year, 1968, we moved up a league and got real uniforms with baseball pants, socks and flimsy batting helmets. I still have my glove and found a picture from that year. We moved to the professional diamond around the back of the school and kids learned to throw fast balls. In the first game, a kid threw a high inside pitch and I stupidly turned my face toward it and got hit in the face, again. You guessed it, I got knocked out. Not “Knocked Out Cold,” but I saw stars and went to my knees. That afternoon I quit baseball forever—it was way too violent for me. A couple of years later, I started playing ice hockey and played up into college. I was never injured in ice hockey because everyone knows it is not nearly as violent as baseball.

Have you ever been knocked out cold? Has life ever knocked you down or even knocked you out? That 23-year marriage ends with “I just don’t love you anymore” or that 17-year job ends with a surprise severance package. Has a cancer diagnosis changed your life? Or have you ever been distracted by a jet at 30,000 feet and been injured by your own stupidity? Have you ever made stupid decisions that cost you big time? Sometimes things happen to me, and sometimes I invite pain by my stupid action or inaction.

In my twenties, I became a millionaire starting from nothing. By 26 I had $4 million in real estate with a net worth of $1 million. I borrowed WAY too much and when the bank got sold to another bank, the new bank freaked and called my notes. We tried to pay them by selling everything quick and working 80-hour weeks, but two and a half years later we were at the end. With a new baby, a toddler and a marriage hanging on by a thread, we filed bankruptcy. I was “Knocked Out Cold.” The date we filed bankruptcy was September 22, 1988.

We were so scared and scarred that we started our life over staggering. Slowly we learned all the stupid stuff I had done that set us up for failure. And we vowed to stop doing stupid stuff.

They say winners never quit. Yes, they do. They regularly quit doing stupid stuff. Stupid stuff that gets them “Knocked Out Cold.”

I quit the violent sport of baseball and I quit borrowing money. And my life is better for both choices.

I bet you have a few scars. I bet you have had some bad people do mean things to you. I bet you have done some stupid things that hurt you or even those you love. I bet you might have even been “Knocked Out Cold.” Welcome to being human. I know it hurts. I know it is scary. I know it is hard to trust again. I feel the exact same way.

The great news is that you get to live a better life because of your experiences. Wisdom comes from experience. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I believe in you. I believe in your next chapter. I know you and lots of folks just like you that made it when they didn’t think they could. They pushed and pulled and persevered. They changed for the better and started winning again. It is your turn. You got this.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to God’s purpose.”

What Do You Want?

Thom Rainer is a highly-respected church consultant with  sometimes painfully penetrating insight. For example —-

When a church is driven by member preference, it is headed for decline, then death.

The decline may be protracted and the death may be delayed, but it is inevitable.

A church cannot survive long-term where members are focused on their own preferences.

— What do you and I want?

 

 

A “Thank You” Deviation

Slightly different today here.

Simply wanna say “Thank You” for your reading, commenting, and sharing my humble blog like you do!

Greatly appreciate you. In fact, more than words can say (to quote that out-of-character old song by Extreme).

For real: “I thank God through Christ Jesus for you,” as St. Paul wrote in Romans 1:8.

So I’ll keep writing if you’ll keep reading and commenting and sharing. Deal?

Hope to see you back here tomorrow

As a Birthday Gift to Him

“Should you pick up this book, be warned that you may walk away slower to speak, slower to anger, and quicker to listen,” writes Jason Cook in a review of a book on race relations.

We could use those three improvements in all aspects of human relations.

I’ve recently been with our son, whose birthday is today, while he worked to get words out.

I’ve seen his embarrassment when people impatiently spoke into his frustrated silence. Even if they were “trying to be helpful,” they weren’t helping him. Having them finish his sentences and his thoughts for him often just made his situation worse.

As a birthday gift to him, next time you and I encounter someone whose words are caught somewhere, let’s be “slower to speak” ourselves and “quicker to listen” to that other person.

Or as was said long ago, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19). Did you notice what the New Testament lists first there?

Our son Joseph and all the others in our lives have a lot to say.

Let’s learn to listen.

 

God’s Re-Creation

This is the day that the Lord has made,
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Psalm 118:24

Same hymn, third and final verse:

Mine is the sunlight
Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise ev’ry morning
God’s re-creation of the new day!

What is at least one thing you can point to that indicates “God’s re-creation of the new day” in you?

As always, I’d love to hear from you, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow.

Sweet Completeness

This is the day that the Lord has made,

Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Psalm 118:24

That same old hymn from yesterday, verse 2:

Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass.

Rain or sunshine where you are today? Either one, or something else altogether, let’s remember to thank God for today’s “sweetness” and “completeness.”