The Part of Life That Hurts The Most

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On the first night of the season, in the first game of the season, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward was carried off of the floor in Cleveland after suffering a horrific-looking left ankle injury a little less than six minutes into his Boston debut Tuesday night.

Hayward’s left leg bent awkwardly as he landed under the Celtics basket with 6 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first quarter. Teammates and Cavaliers players including LeBron James rushed to check on Hayward as he was stretchered from the court.

Cavaliers guard Dwyane Wade knelt with his hand on his head nearby as team doctors attended to Hayward. Shell-shocked Celtics players huddled, with Kyrie Irving burying his head in the chests of teammates Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum.

Cleveland fans gave Hayward a standing ovation as he was taken from the court with his entire left leg immobilized in an air cast. He was immediately taken to the Cavaliers locker room for more evaluation. James and former Celtics teammate Isaiah Thomas, who recruited Hayward to Boston over the summer, went into the Cavaliers locker room where he was receiving medical attention.

Unsuspected, unpredicted, unwanted and unwarranted injuries to the best and brightest players hurt the most. And that’s just like life. Like Hayward, Aaron Rodgers was carted off of the field Sunday after the young season held so much promise and the rest of the season held so much potential. 

The possibities in Boston were endless, as Hayward teamed up with Kyrie Irving to challenge Irving’s old team and teammate, LeBron and the Cavs. But all that’s gone, at least for now.

So how do we deal with the hurt side and the down side of life? How do we deal with the wounds and injuries and bruises? How do we deal with the pain — and pain will come —especially when we were expecting to celebrate being physically healthy and emotionally wealthy and whole?

We need to take time to heal; we need to make time to mend, and we need to have time to allow God to restore our souls. Oh, and one more thing; don’t rush the healing process.  Time does not heal all wounds; God does.

The part of life that hurts the most is when we have to convalesce when we want to compete. It hurts when we have to sit when we want to run. It’s painful to see someone go through pain without the power to aid and assist in a tangible way. Someone said that sometimes we can’t do anything to help but pray.

Even when it seems like we can’t do anything, praying is everything. Because at all times, the best thing to do is pray.

Big Ben Says “Don’t Count Me Out!”

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Ben Roethlisberger had the game from hell last week. He had the worst game of his illustrious, all-pro career.  He had a career-high five – count ‘em – FIVE INTs. That’s five interceptions in one game. And that’s not good.

But Ben Ben’s not done yet.  Today Ben bounced back and beat the previously undefeated Kansas Chiefs on the road at Arrowhead Stadium in KC. 

Last week, Ben threw too many interceptions and was ready to throw in the towel. Two of those INTs Jacksonville returned for touchdowns in a 30-9 loss to the Jaguars. The bitter, biting, baneful loss left the Steelers frustrated and the most prolific passer in franchise history struggling to put a finger on how things went so wrong, so quickly for a group that was expected to be among the league’s best.

Last week, just five weeks in, Big Ben and the Pittsburgh Steelers were (3-2) and decidedly average. And then there came this from Big Ben himself:

 “Maybe I don’t have it anymore,” Roethlisberger said.

The 35-year-old was kidding. Mostly. While he tried to chalk it up as simply a bad day at the office, in reality this one was different than most. No Steelers quarterback had thrown it to the other team five times in a game since Mark Malone did it against Cleveland 30 years ago. 

https://apnews.com/79913b5d9488456bb21494f36aa1b17c/Roethlisberger%27s-rough-day-paves-way-for-Steelers%27-loss

 That was last week.  And as they say, that was then, and this is now.

Now is a 19-13 win over previously undefeated Kansas City. And this week Ben had help; big help. Pittsburg’s Steel Curtain defense regained its former, famed glory and held Alex Smith and the high powered, league leading offense to six first half yards. That would be six, as in comes after five and right before seven. And KC had one first down in the first half. Just one.  It was total domination by the Pittsburg “D” for 3 ½ quarters.

Now the Steelers are 4-2 and looking one hundred and eighty degrees better than they did in last week’s loss. That’s quite the bounce back. That’s quite the turnaround. That’s quite the statement game. And this is why we love sports. And this is why sports and faith are not foreign; nay, sports and faith are famously familiar BFFs and bosom buddies. 

Everything we do is spiritual.  Everything. Including what happens on the field, on the court, on the ice, on the track, in the pool and in the gym.   And once again, Big Ben gives us a reason to believe, a reason to hope, and another reason to get back up and get back going, again.

So take it from Big Ben. Don’t count yourself out.  Say it over and over and over again.  You can make it. And tell your enemies and your foes the same thing. Tell the naysayers and the bogus soothsayers to take a hike too. Tell them emphatically, “Don’t count me out!”

Your Dreams Are Your Ticket Out

Kotter_Gabe Kaplan

TV Shows in the ‘70s were the best. And they had great theme songs. One of my favorites was the opening song for “Welcome Back Kotter.” This was a great, family friendly sit-com (they don’t make ‘em like they used to, right?) starring Gabe Kaplan as a wisecracking high school teacher in charge of a racially and ethnically diverse remedial class called the “Sweathogs.” The show also featured John Travolta in his television debut.

Welcome Back Kotter Group Pic

The show is all about redemption. Redemption for Kotter, redemption for his students, and redemption for the viewers as well. Kotter came back to his high school and gave back to the same kids and same place that he somehow succeeded from.

His comeback was a dream come true.

Your dreams are you ticket out. It’s a great song with great truth.  Dreams, for the most part, point to the future and forewarn or foretell of impending tragedy or imminent triumph.  Biblically, while most dreams are relegated to the OT, the prophet Joel does say that in the last days “old men shall dream dreams.”

Joseph, the son of Jacob, dreamed that his brothers and even his mother and father would bow down to him. And his brothers hated him for it. Because of his dreams, his brothers sold him down the river, and he ended up in Egypt. After being falsey accused he landed in jail. But as Providence would have it, he eventually interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. As a reward for predicting the future, Joseph became second in command in Egypt and was in charge of storing up grain during the good times and distributing grain during the bad times.  Meanwhile, back home in Israel, Joseph sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain, from, who else — Joseph, and thus Joseph’s dreams became his ticket out.

And your dreams can become your ticket out. So what are you dreaming? What are you believing God for? What do you desire? What do you long for that seems like its light years away?

My Philadelphia Eagles are dreaming of a Super Bowl Win.  For the Philly faithful, winning the Super Bowl is more than a dream — it’s like heaven; it’s a real place, somewhere out there, over the rainbow. We know it exists but we just can’t get there right now.

But that can all change this year. With a little Wentz and with a lot of hard work, this can be the Eagles’ year.  And it can be your year too. So keep hope alive.  And keep hoping. Keep trusting. Keep believing.

And may all of your dreams come true.

Which Way Are You Trending?

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We have heard this and we have seen this sit-com before; “The Eagles are for real!” The Eagles are for real.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. But this time we mean it, right?

My Eagles have a penchant for “being for real” at the begging of the season. In fact, last year this time, we were all screaming, “the Eagles are for real” when they began the season 3-0. But they ended the season 7-9, Doug Pederson’s first year in Philly as head coach. And the year before that, we began the season with high hopes, but also finished a disappointing 7-9. And thankfully, that was Chip Kelly’s last season in Philly (I MEANT that thankfully thing).

The Eagles tend to start hot and end cold. They tend to fly high and then land hard. They tend to raise expectations to heaven and then dash hopes to smithereens. But this year is different, right?

All of Philly is hyped, amped, excited, and overjoyed. Why? Because the Eagles are 5-1 and looking good doing it.  Yes, you gotta believe that my Eagles Are For Real! This time.

Carson Wentz and the Eagle “D” stood up to Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers 28-23 in Carolina, and they looked good doing it (for the most part). Except for too many penalties (do I hear the conspiracy theorists crying foul) and a few missed reads by Wentz, the Eagles looked great on both sides of the ball.

So all of Philly is hoping and praying that this year is different. Because you tend to follow your tendencies, right?

What about you? What are your trends and tendencies? What are your propensities and predispositions? Are they good or not so good? Either way, let’s all work or how we trend. Let’s work on which way we lean. You want to trend up, not down. You want to trend the right way, not the wrong way. You want to continue to progress, and not regress.

So, we all have work do. Let’s all work on finishing, and not just starting.

Note to the Nats: Now, You Have To Win!

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Last night a young, little known, Washington Nationals outfielder took the plate in the eighth inning with the bases loaded. And guess what happened? You got it – Michael A. Taylor  hit a GRAND SLAM home run!  It’s only the first postseason grand slam in the Nat’s short history. The Nats were already winning 1-0, and the grand slam sealed the deal.

Before Taylor’s late inning heroics, National’s Ace Stephen Strasburg shook off an illness and pitched seven dominant innings, and held the Cubs scoreless as he beat Chicago in Chicago AT Wrigley Field to send their NL Division Series to a decisive Game 5 at Nationals Park tonight, October 12th, 2017.

And in Game 2,  entering the eighth, Washington trailed 3-1. But all hope was not lost. Enter Adam Lind. In his first career postseason game, Lind hit a single to rekindle hope. No outs. Trea Turner, who has struggled all series, again struck out in a big moment, but star and boy wonder Bryce Harper made the most of his, hitting a massive two-run shot to tie the game. Later in the inning, elder statesman Ryan Zimmerman had his hero moment: a three-run homer to put the Nationals up 6-3. And that would do it, as the Nationals held on to win, 6-3.

Now, all the Nats have to do is win Game 5 at home against the defending champion Chicago Cubs. That’s it. No problem, right?  The only problem is that the Nats have NEVER won a playoff series.  Never ever. And they’ve lost Game 5’s at home. But that could all change tonight.

The same goes for you and me too. Past failures and fumbles can all be washed away with one swing of the bat.  The setbacks we’ve suffered and meltdowns we’ve mustered and the lossess  and  let downs we’ve lived with can and will be forgiven and forgotten in a moment.

Because the turnaround can start today.

Stop Dancing With Your Demons: Aaron Rodgers Shows Us The Way

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Aaron Rodgers doesn’t think he can win, he knows he can win. And I dare say he knows he WILL WIN, especially late in the fourth quarter, with the game on the line against the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas.

Aaron Rodgers is 6-2 lifetime against the Dallas Cowboys.  But more importantly, he’s undefeated in late game heroics against the Boys in Big “D”. For the second time in nine months, the Cowboys scored 31 points against the Packers … and lost. And for the second time in less than a year, Aaron led a last-minute, last gasp, last chance, game winning drive, and led the Green Bay Packers to victory in fantastic fashion.

Rodgers ruined what could have been one of Dak Prescott’s best moments — a 17-play drive that covered 79 yards and lasted 8:43. Dallas led 31-28 with 1:13 left in the game after the last Dallas score. And Dallas was in complete control of the game at the start when Prescott threw three touchdown passes on the Cowboys’ first three drives.

But once again, Aaron Rodgers has buoyed us and begged us to turn our bogeys into birdies (How’s that for a mixed sports metaphor?) Once again, Aaron Rodgers has shown us that we can bounce back from our blunders and come back and perform wonders.

Yes Rodgers did it again.  And the lesson is clear: you can win with little or next to no time left on the clock. You can beat back the bastions you’re battling and the strongholds you’re struggling to defeat. You can.

So stop it; just stop it.

Stop dancing with your demons. Stop saying what you can’t do. Stop whining and start worshiping. Stop pouting and start praising. Stop complaining and start clapping your hands and leaping for joy.  Stop the mindless madness of missing miserably and start the anticipatory gladness that leads to triumphing gloriously. Just say it and believe and achieve it. Just do it. 

You can make, if you just believe.

Bring Your “A” Game

Coach Rolando Lamb
Coach Rolando Lamb, America’s Character Coach
I just met Rolando Lamb, America’s Character Coach. Sitting with Coach Lamb, I didn’t fully realize that I was in the presence of greatness; his wit and wisdom are wonderful, and meeting him was a great blessing. 

Rolando Lamb played college basketball for VCU, Virginia Commonwealth University, and went on to play pro ball for the Seattle Supersonics. He’s been there and done that.  He is the father of Jeremy Lamb, famed UConn basketball star who now plays for the Charlotte Hornets. Coach Lamb is a coach that cares, and he cares most about character.

Character counts. It counts in sports and it counts in life. Character counts in every sport and character counts in every life.  It counts on and off of the court. And true champions have character. Character is charisma and charm and chutzpah. And Coach Lamb embodies and is the epitome of all three.

Coach Lamb says that “Champions do daily, what losers do occasionally.”  That’s where your “A” game comes in. Your “A” Game consists of these three attributes: Attitude, Academics, and Athletics. All three are important, but it all starts with attitude. Attitude is everything. Attitude is a choice.  And a winning attitude is what it takes to be in position to have lifelong success.

So bring your “A” game every day. Bring it in every way. I was blessed and encouraged to bring my “A” Game through a brief but lasting encounter with this great mentor and motivator. So check out Coach Lamb’s website, www.AGameElite.com. You’ll be in the presence of excellence, and it will bless you soul.

 

https://youtu.be/m9gxe3QQMoU