Tuesday, November 22, 2011

track-star-stories part 02

I mentioned in my last post that I had one season as a track runner that I went undefeated in the 400 meter dash. I went undefeated in the regular season, but then there is also a post-season. that season I was also city champion, county champion, but then there was sections. by competing in the section meet, I would be racing against students from all over northern california, and it would see if I was eligible to run in the state meet.

when I got to the sections meet, I saw the other guys I was going to be running against. these were not kids from modesto or stanislaus county. they had trainers. they were sponsored by nike and adidas. they looked like they must have been 7 feet tall and had legs like horses. they all had the best gear and the biggest muscles. my winning streak was going to end; I knew it. but in my egocentric, 16 year old mind, losing was going to be the worst thing ever- so I had to come up with a plan to save face.

I thought I had a perfect one: when the starter started the race I was going to intentionally false-start. normally, when a runner does a false start, everyone takes a break and tries again. but at this level, a false start meant disqualification. my plan was to false start- and then when everyone asked if I won, I would say, "no, I false-started. but I'm sure that I WOULD have won, if I just didn't make that mistake."

since I wasn't going to run the race, I didn't jog all over the place getting warmed up. I didn't stretch my legs, because I wasn't going to actually race!

at the time of the race, I set my blocks in my lane- something like lane 6. the starter called out "RUNNERS TAKE YOUR MARKS!" we all kneeled down into our blocks. he raised his gun and shouted out, "SET!" we all raised up, and after a second or two, I bounced out. the gun fired off twice meaning that there was a false start. my plan had worked. I sold the lie with a bit of acting- like I was really upset to lose the opportunity to run this race- and that I was mad at myself. I started to walk off of the track when the starter yelled out, "RUNNERS TAKE YOUR MARKS! ... LANE SIX! TAKE YOUR MARKS!"

uh-oh. he was telling me that I WASN'T disqualified. I protested a bit- saying, "no- no- I should be disqualified..." but he said it again, "LANE SIX! TAKE YOUR MARKS!"

I had to run.

when the pistol blew, I shot out of those blocks- I had a great start. but these were the best runners in northern california; and I had not warmed up or stretched. I was left in the dust- barely able to compete with these guys. I think I may have even finished the race with a limp.

"Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall."
-proverbs 16:18

God is love.

Monday, November 21, 2011

track-star-stories part 01

I was reviewing some verses about running this week, and it reminded me of my days back in high school when I was a teenage-track-star-
I don't talk about it much, so I thought I'd share a few of those stories with my blogger-pals-

when I was in junior high and high school, the only sport I was any good at was track. it didn't involve hand-eye-coordination or getting hit by gigantic students, so I was up for it- and I got to be pretty speedy. I won a bunch of races, especially in high school-

here are the basics:
:: I ran track for Grace Davis High School in Modesto
:: I tried a bunch of different races and events, including the hurdles, the 200 meter dash, the 100 meter dash, the 4X100 relay, but in the end, my specialty was the 400 meter dash and the mile relay.
:: the 400 meter dashs is essentially a lap around the track- or 440 yards in football terms. the mile relay is just 4 guys running 400 meters one at a time, each one handing a baton to another.
:: the 400 is an ugly race. it isn't a quick sprint like the 100, and you can't pace yourself like you can in a mile, you run as hard and as fast as you possibly can for somewhere between 45 and 60 seconds. when the thing is over, students are exhausted, often falling over, barfing, spitting thick spit or leaning up against a goal post. its not for wimps.
:: my relay team was nicknamed the untouchables- we went several seasons undefeated in competition with the other schools in Modesto.
:: those guys were really fast- and we all had respect for each other, and by the time I was a junior, i got to be the anchor-leg of the team, running the final leg.

one season was really good for me. I went undefeated in every 400 meter dash that season up to the final track meet of the season. the school that we were racing against had no 400 meter runners- which was good, because that meant that a Davis student would definitely win the race. the bad news was that the only way that I was going to go undefeated that season was to race against the untouchables. I had gone undefeated up to this point, so I definitely was capable of winning the race, but you just never know- those guys were all really fast.

I got up to the starting line and lined up against the 3 other members of my relay team. before I stood in my marks, I knelt down in prayer (tim tebow style) like I often did. one of my team mates tapped my shoulder and said, "what are you praying for?!" I said, "oh- you know- I just want to win- I'm trying to go undefeated..." he said, "you're going to win this race."

the starter shouted out, "RUNNERS TAKE YOUR MARKS!" we all stepped into our starting blocks. "SET!" we all raised up. BLAM! went the starter's pistol. I was out quick- for the first 100 meters my head was usually down and my hands were pumping in time with my legs. usually on the second 100 meters I would look up and see where the comptetion was- they were no where. I must have had an amazing start- or maybe one of them fell; or maybe someone false started. but when i looked back, the untouchables were jogging and chatting with each other around the track. they threw the race to let me go undefeated.
what a cool bunch of guys-
I met them at the finish line and we all hugged and celebrated my undefeated season. the untouchables were untouchable that day.
that's what team is all about isn't it? respect, others-centeredness, and friendship.

God is love.

in gratitude for normal

have you ever longed for things to be normal?
like maybe you were in a crazy situation, and you regretted the decisions that led to it and you wished that instead, things could
just be normal?

there have been times when someone I’ve loved was sick or in the hospital, or the car was broken, or there was major conflict, or a big bill in front of me; and I’ve said to myself, “I wish that this episode was over- or that it never began; and that things could
just be normal.”

sometimes I think to myself in those situations, “wouldn’t it just be awesome to just sit down for a meal with my family, and not have this issue to worry about?”
“wouldn’t it be wonderful to just roll into to work without this situation to explain or to have a conflict waiting for me?”
“wouldn’t today be so much better if things were
just normal?”
we take normal for granted don’t we?

I’ve been thinking about this because we narrowly avoided a major accident the other night. we were at a stoplight and the car was sitting behind another car, and sitting on the lightrail tracks- and I saw that the lightrail train was coming toward us. I made a quick decision and pulled the car into the next lane to pull around the car in front of me and get out of the way of the train- but I didn’t look first, another car was already in that lane, and coming in quick. it hit the brakes hard to avoid an accident with us and their brakes screeched really loud. if they hadn’t responded so quickly, their car would have hit the side of the car that both jane and deanna were sitting on. my heart was racing- it was hard to settle down.

I was laying in bed the next morning and thinking, “what if that car HAD hit us really hard? things would be very, very different today.” I wouldn’t be in my bed, I would probably be at the hospital with my wife and daughter. I wouldn’t be laying awake pondering things, I would be laying awake, regretting my decision to have jane sit on that side of the car, regretting my decision to pull out without looking first, regretting my decision to pull onto the tracks while at a red light, regretting my decision not to buy some kind of indestructible Volvo car…

I would be in communication with health insurance companies and car insurance companies and the other driver, and my friends, and my family, and my team down at the church and with God pleading with Him for them to be alright. I would be thinking about how we were going to get a new car- I would be thinking about everything, and I would be feeling sad and sorry and stupid. and I would probably give anything to turn back time, re-think those decisions, and for everything to
just be normal.
normal would be heaven in that moment.

but none of those things happened at all. I wasn’t in the hospital- I was in my warm bed. I could hear my wife sleeping soundly. my baby-girl was cozy in her bed without a care in the world.
things were just normal-
and I wasn’t going to take it for granted-
I was grateful for it.
that morning, I hugged jane and deanna a little bit longer; I moved a little bit slower and was so grateful for the fact that
it was just normal-

I began to thank God that He allowed that guy to stop in time, and I began to thank Him for my family, and for our home, and for warm beds, and food in the fridge and for cars that work- for everything.

later that day I thought to myself, “right now, jane is sitting on the sofa, watching cartoons and munching on some cereal; Deanna is reading her books, making to-do lists, and working with jane-
all is well, and well is wonderful.”

are things just normal for you today?
thank God for that normalcy- it’s a gift;
a gift that you might give anything for under different circumstances-
take time to thank God for normal today- don’t take it for granted!
be grateful for what you have.
don’t compare yourself and what you have with others-
what you have is beautiful- appreciate that today.

and another thing- drive safe! there are some crazies out there.

“be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

God is love.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

from my 10 year anniversary party-

thanks to everyone who was in on the surprise!

everyone loves mail!

everyone loves to get a letter in the mail-
what is it about mail? when it comes in an envelope- its like a treasure, waiting to be opened and discovered-

I was reminded of this a few days ago-
jane loves to read books by one of her favorite authors, Mo Willems. she has all of his elephant and piggie books, plus several other dvds and books about his other characters too. I discovered on Mo's blog, that children often write to him and include their own stories and illustrations of his characters. I told jane about this and she got to work drawing a picture for Mo. she sent it off in the mail and hoped that it eventually got to him.

a few days later, Deanna came in from getting the mail saying, "you've got to check this out!" I looked at the envelope, and it appeared to be a hand-written letter from Mo himself!

I immediately began to think all kinds of thoughts:
"wow! did he really write this himself?"
"does he respond to every kid that writes to him?"
"how much time must that take?"
"what a cool guy!"
"I mean I already thought he was cool, but now I think he's really cool!"
"he's like the modern-day Dr. Seuss! and he wrote my kid! how special is this?!"

jane opened it up, and it really was a special note from Mo.

to jane- this was cool- but just about as cool as a letter from Grandma. she thought about what she might write him back- now that they are letter-pals or something.
but to us, this was really, really cool and thoughtful.

and it reminded me just how special it is to get a handwritten letter in the mail.
if you know me at all, you know that writing letters is one of those things that I often do.
people often refer to it as something that has been meaningful to them- many students have shown me letters from me that they have saved for many years.

like Mo- I have invested in special stationary, envelopes, stamps, stickers, etc-
but after receiving that letter in the mail-
I'm that much more committed to spreading love and grace through the post office and the mail box.
I want to take the special-ness and the thoughtfulness of my letter writing to the next level; and I'm already so inspired with ideas of how I can make this tool more effective.

if you're a leader in any way- I want to encourage you to invest in some stationary. custom is best, but if you can't afford that, then just pick up some cards from hallmark. send something to someone in the mail every week; and people will begin to think thoughts about YOU like the ones I thought about Mo-

God is love.

Monday, November 14, 2011

home-made toys:: amanda pig clock

jane loves the character amanda pig, we recently made her some stuffed animals, and a wooden model, but recently jane has been learning how to tell time, so we thought it would be cool to make our own amanda pig clock! here is how it turned out:

(by the way- being someone who is REALLY into knowing what time it is, I found myself geeking out on #1 on the fact that I was making a clock, and #2, that my kid is into telling time!)
being a dad is fun.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

raab and the monkey

I had so much fun re-reading my old stories about Raab the Rabbit that I thought I would give Raab an update- and a new friend:

"once upon a time, there was a brown rabbit named Raab- who worked each day in the land of cats, telling the kittens stories about jesus.
time had passed for Raab- and things in his world began to change-
his brown fur began to turn grey- and the little church in the land of cats became a big, big church!
and Raab got to tell his sotries about jesus to many, many kittens.

as the church grew, Raab let others tell stories about jesus to the unicorns-
Raab missed being with them each week but he kept in touch with them-
and even told stories about jesus at many of their weddings!
many of them joined Raab in telling stories about jesus to the kittens.

another thing that had changed in Raab’s life was a new friend to teach the kittens when they got too old for Raab’s class- this new friend was a short and silly, and hairy monkey named Dave. (well, Dave the monkey was not so hairy on top of his head; but he was mostly hairy.) Dave was a very silly monkey- he liked to do funny dances around Raab and give him awkward hugs. He was also a stinky monkey- he often passed gas near Raab- which Raab did not appreciate. there were days when Raab said to himself, “this silly monkey is turning my brown fur grey!

but even though Dave was stinky, and silly, Raab enjoyed Dave’s friendship very much. Raab the Rabbit and Dave the Monkey took the kittens all over the land and had many adventures together. they met many strange animals along their journeys and always had much to talk about and laugh about. Whenever Raab and Dave went on a trip together, Raab always made sure that he was driving his favorite white cart- monkeys are not good drivers.

Raab and Dave spent many days and years working at the church together and telling the kittens stories about jesus- they spent many, many hours talking to each other, encouraging each other and laughing together.
silly monkeys and quiet rabbits don’t always make good friends,
but in this case, they did.