Posted on June 22, 2016
Witness is woven into everyone’s life, but not all have a natural appreciation for their “place.” Clevelanders have taking a beating for decades. For the state of their city and “the curse” on their teams. I am them.
“Against all odds…
I don’t now why we want to take the hardest road…
I don’t know why the Man above gives me the hardest road…
but the Man above doesn’t put you in situations that you can’t handle…
and I just kept that same positive attitude…
Instead of saying ‘why me…’
saying ‘this is what He wants me to do.”
-LeBron James, after winning the 2016 NBA Championship
This generation of Cavaliers basketball players capped off a legacy that began long before they started playing in the big leagues. My feet froze watching Elway crush our football team. I watched the old stadium fall. I wondered if a lost $100 bill had fallen from a very tall pocket grabbing a bite at Whitey’s after a game at the Richfield Coliseum. I walked to “The Jake” after work many summer nights in run of the late 90’s.
My most cherished sports memory isn’t the Brown’s rookie graveyard I put up in my front yard on Halloween. It’s not training camp in Berea every year, where the hope of every Browns fan is at it’s most realistic peek. Not the sense of a piece of home seeing people you knew “back then” in the same tailgate spot. Not post game victory walks or seeing concerts at my favorite fields. Not even a long awaited raise of a shiny gold trophy.
It’s my brother…
And his little-kid face…
…at the local restaurant in the burb we grew up in, taking off his unbent hat to have a couple CAVS write a little history into his heart. He’s the biggest Cleveland fan I know.
The energy. The camaraderie. The land.
When the homesick tendencies of dorm life set in, I clung to the conversations over commonalities. Fellow fans felt like family, and I began to realize that “home” wasn’t just teenage angst waiting to bust out and get out. “Home” was layered into my heart. No matter where I reside, my heart beats to “Cleveland Rocks.”
The life of a Clevelander is built into the layers of adversity. As the seasons change, jobs get lost, the Browns get worse, and the trophy eludes …we remain. We hold on to hope. We welcome you home. We believe.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
We’re all tempted to throw in the towel. When the environment that surrounds starts to crumble in around us, the tempting tendency is to run …quit …move. Tenacity is woven into tough spots. Stuttering human stamina indicates opportunity for God to move. Will we follow fight or flight, or sit and stay to see why?
Paul is comforting us in that we’re all tempted. Christ was tempted. To sin. To quit. To run. To move. It’s not in the want to waver that we fail, but in the actual running and moving. In the stillness of our hearts, we choose whether to soldier on …to trust Him at His word …to wait on why.
Witness is woven into every life. LeBron, and his faith that God won’t test him beyond what he can handle, represented an entire city that shares that mentality. Can’t give up. Won’t give up. We will stay and wait.
I didn’t watch any games this year. Not until there were 10.6 seconds remaining. Bracing for the heartache of a city and another reel tacked on the highlights of our almost accomplishments. Fearing the faltering crack of one team under so much pressure. But, in my Northeast Ohio heart, I believed it could happen. Against all odds. That’s CLE life.
It’s just a game in a world filled with so much injustice, hurt, and tragedy. Just a trophy coming to reside in a city on a quest to come back. But weaved into the win are streets full of people from all walks of life… in the city where someone always knows someone you know… embracing the victory of hope fulfilled …in a city that’s come back.
Thank you, Cleveland, for bringing out the best piece of humanity …love. For who we are, for our history, and for our “place.”
It’s my “place.” It’s our “place.” #allin
Happy Parade Day, Cleveland! Let the ticker tape fly!
Posted on April 28, 2016
It seems my daughter thinks her shoes will magically jump onto her feet if she stares at them long enough. When they don’t, her shoes fly over the foyer in frustration. And, oh …the agony …when a pair no longer fit.
“Lo, stand up so I can zip them up,” I stammered in frustration.
“I AM,” she yelled and convulsed, convinced my help was overkill.
“Push your foot down harder,” I ordered. Her boots were swimmingly large mere “mommy” moments ago, but now needed to be pushed on.
“OK, let’s do the other one…”
Expanding feet shift goals. They also outgrow shoes.
Growth is predictably unpredictable, and keeping goals in stride with a shifting destination is hard. Has your finish line ever moved as you were about to break the ribbon? Here’s what I learned from my missed marathon and mommy moments.
A complete year off running didn’t yield a healed Achilles heal. There are moments I’d go back in time and risk a complete tear to line up at the start of my first full marathon.
God swapped my shoes regardless of my readiness to understand why.
“By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated with soon disappear.” Hebrews 8:13 (NIV)
I ran through snow, wind and ice …in shoes a complete size too small. A simple fix the runners at the running shoe store would have told me had I went there to be fitted for the right shoes before logging hundreds of miles.
Sometimes, we pray into God-sized goals. He wants us to dream big, and will bless our ambition to pursue, for His glory, the passions He’s laid in us.
Properly prepared with the right pair of shoes, the impact is absorbed efficiently and the weight is distributed properly. Experienced runners know injury arises from a misaligned stride, often corrected by a shoe fit to guide feet as they strike the ground.
God does this for us. Through Christ, we capture the key to a corrected stride. God’s love is giant. He found a way to fit us for freedom. Jesus absorbs the impact and distributes the weight. To maximize each stride, we must stick by His side.
In addition to personal conversation in prayer with God, He seeks to speak specifically through His Word. Dig beyond devotionals, follow side-trails, and chase after characters. The pull to know why and the curiosity to question fit our feet for training.
Hebrews 8:13 (above) speaks to us about outdated goals. About Old Testament customs and traditions no longer necessary because of the gap Jesus filled.
We naturally replace what is obsolete. Anyone that lived through the 80’s can define “outdated.” Remnants of style may return redefined, but are fit for the “now.”
365 days ago, I took my running shoes off. I’ve been striding and striving everywhere but the road, tired and frustrated. God grew my feet before my shoes were fit to comprehend the change. The healing I prayed for came laced in lesson. I thought the goal was the marathon. He knew it was time to sit down …and write.
Every time I load the trunk up with bags of shoes that are too small for my kids, I feel ill-equipped to replace them all. I’m not even sure what size to buy, what they will need, or if they will like them. Clearly, I need help with my own shoe size…
My identity in my daughter’s eyes is still “runner,” and she misses it just as much as I do. Her note is the nudge I’ve been waiting for. Could it be possible, that time spent obeying the development of one passion could be rewarded with the return of another? On this day, number 366 since the last time I laced up my running shoes, I believe His answer is “yes.” Fit in His shoes, the weight of many passions is bearable and possible. Today, I began to run again.
God pauses passions to add in complimenting attributes to the fabric of our stories. Chapters and pages we might have edited out, or never written, yet essential to who we are in Him.
Whether you’re training for a marathon, building houses, crunching numbers, or digging through a mountain of laundry …ask Jesus to adjust the fit. Children discover their passions by watching us let Him fit us to ours.
Jesus ushered in a new era. Life isn’t a Browns draft failing to produce a quarterback year after year. (As a hometown Clevelander and life-long Browns fan, I’m allowed to say that.) Sit down, and let Him fit your feet.
And now …
As I read this reminiscent post today, I am rolling the balls of my feet on golf ball to treat a case of plantar fasciitis that has all but crippled me to a chair for a while. I did return to running, and completed my first half-marathon last fall. I ran the entire 13.1 miles with a smile on my face and praise music in my ears. I don’t NEED running to feel complete anymore. Now, it’s a gift I get to enjoy when I can … The injuries will continue to come, but working through them reminds me of my pursuit of Christ. It’s not always easy, but worth every stride. I did obediently sit down to write after I had no choice and nothing else left to do but to. Thus is God’s patience with me. My first book, “Friends with Everyone,” is out in the world, and the second is on the way …The greatest joy of this journey are the moments of connectivity with my Father as I write. The heart strings pulled gently into tune by my Savior. It’s a thrill I’ll shelve my running shoes for, anytime He calls me to (and I love that He allows injury to see to it I’ll actually do it!)
Posted on February 17, 2016
The fog cast an erie lure of anxiety over the pier. It had enveloped the lighthouse, and I checked my footprints to make sure I hadn’t drifted off the pavement to the glazed-over river. I trekked on, trusting it was still out there beyond the mist. A wispy top-layer of snow revealed one single set of down and back footprints. All alone … I threw my arms up and let started to dance-walk to the new album I couldn’t stop listening to.
My quest to “be me” occasionally feels akin to walking down the pier in thick fog. I lose sight of what I know is there. God always has a way of breaking through the thickness with a shard of light. Many times, that glint of hope comes in the form of a friend.
There has been a book about friendship spinning around in my head for many years. Perhaps it circulates because I have never quite found an author that has addressed my trademark quest to “be friends with everyone.” I believe when God asks me to write about something, He has a lesson for me to learn and a story someone needs to hear. Research and reading unravel answers, but sometimes God uses people to pull it all together.
Making a new friend, or approaching a new season with an established one, takes a slow walk in humility. John 15:9 instructs us to “remain in His love,” and snap judgements and circles of gossip definitely lie outside of it. Walk in prayerful consideration to stop and think before saying or doing anything that could hurt another soul, especially one that is akin to your friendship; but without disregard for a sweet one you may be squashing before it’s given the opportunity to sprout buds and grow.
That foggy pier walk rekindled a revelation I’d had years back as a young runner. Comparing the trace of my tracks in the snow, one set revealed a wisp on the tail of my heal where I had drug my feet. The other set, after I noticed and corrected the problem, was nice and clean. Dragging feet cause runners overuse injuries from this mark of improper form. In my friendships, I’ve been challenged to peer into the past before before moving forward.
Don’t fear forgiveness …the asking or the receiving of it. You may open the door of relief for someone who needs to unload the burden of imperfections that they carry. We all carry them. “We all fall short.” (Romans 3:23) So, have mercy.
I picked up a cross necklace a few years back when I needed a constant visual reminder Jesus was with me no matter how tight the drama in my life was wound. The first time I put it on, I noticed an inscription on the back. “Be the change.” As a new coach implementing lots of changes, I took it as a sign I was running in pace with God’s plan. Really, it just meant to be me through the change.
Kindness can mean everything to someone living in a moment in which everything is crumbling. When my kids come to me annoyed with a classmate, the sting of past experience flares to the surface.
“There’s always something good you can find about a person,” I teach them, “Find it, and focus on that.”
Focus on the light beyond the fog.
Friends defy definition. Church friends, Bible study friends, high school and college friends, teammates, family, bloggers, work peers, neighbors and far away friends, Facebook friends, and authors who write words that resonate so much with our hearts that they feel like friends …and church that can feel like home even though it’s several states away from our actual homes.
I believe friends populate our lives because we were never created to walk out life’s lesson alone. We are the church. Set here to love the people in our lives. Jesus is the perfect definition of friendship. And because of Him we can go to our Great God in times of need (Hebrews 4:16). We weren’t meant to be alone. We can reach out to friends He’s placed in our lives to allow their light alongside ours to pierce through the fog.
Wow! Reading this reminded me how afraid I was to tell my story …worried that no one would be able to relate. The original post was the framework for a review of “The Gift of Friendship,” by Dawn Camp. I highly recommend it. Her words and the collective stories contributed to it came alongside me when I need to know that I was not alone.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned while writing my own book on friendship, “Friends with Everyone,” is to let go of fear and trust God’s timing and purpose for my story. Of course someone needs to read it. You know what?! I needed to read it! We are all placed in each others lives, purposefully, by a God who isn’t in the business of coincidence. Stay tuned for my next release …”Surface.”
Click here to grab your copy of Friends with Everyone …and Happy Reading!!!