The Pain Of Loss

Sul_Trimb_

I just lost my mom. “Loss” is the conventional, politically correct term you use when a loved one or friend passes away. My mom was sick and she died on March 8th, right in the middle of March Madness. So this March, the madness of March was more maddening for me for so many days in so many ways and on so many levels. So that’s why I haven’t been writing or posting for a while.

A loss hurts. A loss burns and bruises and even barks and bites. A loss can break and bend and twist and curve and swerve and nerve your emotions and affections like nothing else can.

For Christians, when someone we know dies, our loved one is not “lost” per se; it’s just that their presence is lost; they’re physically dead and gone to us. And there’s nothing we can do to bring them back. But they’re not lost as if we can’t find them, because we know where they are. However, it’s still a loss of their face and their embrace and their voice and their visits and their laugh and their love.  

While it does not compare — not hardly – the University of Maryland Basketball Team lost. Actually, my team won and lost. They won 27 games, but they lost 9. They began the season 15-1 and finished 14-8, but in March they were 5-3 and they finished the season a woeful 5-6, dating back to that mind bending, nerve numbing, unexplainable, inexplicable loss at lowly Minnesota on February 18th and the home loss to Wisconsin on February 13th.

According to Joshua Needleman of the Diamondback, the University of Maryland’s student run newspaper, “The sentiment for much of the season was when — not if — the Terps started clicking, they’d be unstoppable. They stormed to a 15-1 start even while working through some kinks.”

“Yet in an odd twist, the Terps didn’t get better or wiser over time — like my mom — or like that bottle of Chardonnay residing untouched in the cellar for years. They slowly fell apart, each loss sapping more and more of the fan base’s confidence. There always seemed to be something going awry, a new question that needed an answer.”

In another excellent article written by Alex Kirshner of the TestudoTimes, Kirshner writes “Maryland’s basketball team existed in a weird space this year. The Terps entered the season as a popular national title pick, and they remained so well into February. Even this March, plenty of people thought they had it in them. In the days leading up to the Terps’ season-ending loss to Kansas in the Sweet 16, I’d come around to expecting Maryland to beat the NCAA Tournament’s top overall seed. The Terps had a tantalizing glow about them, even when they weren’t their best.

The Terps wound up winning three times as many games as they lost, finishing 27-9. That’s really good for most programs, and it’s really good for Maryland. The Terps made their first Sweet 16 since 2003, which is quite an achievement. But in the end, why did the season seem so unsuccessful?”

 That’s a question that begs an answer. As with all of the other teams that lost in the NCAA Tournament, we have the hope of next season, and the high expectations of seeing Maryland players go on to the NBA and doing well (but if the underclassmen just came back for one more run!)

With all loses, we must look back, reminisce and recall to mind the mercies of the Lord. We must savor the good and sift through and sift out the bad. My mom was sick — I mean really sick — for the last six months of her life. I watched as she withered away, and the loss of her health and her strength was as hurtful as the loss of her presence.

But the grandkids and my sisters and I have the legacy of her love, many, many, meaningful memories and the wonderful well wishes and the sweet scented sentiments of our family and friends that will carry us till we see her again one day.

Sports and ISIS

MD Terps BBall

I know what everybody wants for Christmas: “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.” And permanent peace will only come when the Prince of Peace comes back to earth. He came the first time as a bouncing, baby boy wrapped in swaddling clothes. He will come the second time King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But for now, peace requires that we prevail against a new world evil and the pandemonium that is ISIS. This new threat must be put out to pasture. While it’s easier said than done, it can be done, because it’s been done before.

Old enemies such as Adolf Hitler and Idi Amin Dada and recent enemies such as Osama Ben Laden and Sadam Hussein have all been vanquished. Now, this new enemy must be met and matched. But the question is, “how?”  I submit that sports supplies the solution.

My University of Maryland Terrapins Men’s Basketball team is ranked in the top ten and they may be one of the best teams in the country. They seem destined to go the Final Four, and, dare I say, bring another National Championship back to College Park. But for that to happen, more of what I saw in last night’s win against Princeton has to happen.

Maryland has weapons. Lots of ‘em.  We’ve got Rasheed Souliman, the transfer from Duke that we’ll take any day (Thank you Coach K) and Robert Carter Jr., another transfer from GA Tech, and freshman sensation Diamond Stone (more on him in coming blogs.) And of course we’ve got Melo Trimble, a prodigy who has come of age and can score at will and dish out assists with reckless abandon. But last night, it wasn’t anyone of these stars that won the day.

Jaylen Brantley
Maryland Guard Jaylen Brantley 

Enter No. 1, Jaylaen Brantley.  Before last night, I barely knew this kid existed, and most of the Maryland faithful didn’t either. But last night, Jaylen came off the bench and lead the Terps to victory. Brantley scored 14 points on six of seven shooting, dished out two assists and grabbed two rebounds in a super, surprising and superlative show of timely talent. And he did it all in 14 minutes! And another Terp who doesn’t usually shine that brightly, senior Jake Layman, lead the team with 19 points and 8 rebounds. 

Layan averages 11.3 points per game. And Brantley averages 2.3 points per game. And yet they managed to combine for 33 points when nobody, and I do mean NOBODY expected that kind of production from either of them.

So, what’s the lesson, you say? The lesson is that the weapons that we need to defeat our foes are hidden in plain sight. The weapons that we need to survive the fierce fight and subdue the dark knight have yet to be used and utilized to their potential.

Prayer is a weapon. And it’s a weapon that shouldn’t sit on the bench but should be a starter in the game of life. And the sooner that people of faith come together and unanimously use this lethal and legitimate spiritual weapon, the better. Unity is a weapon. We are better together. Humility is a weapon. Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. All of our weapons are at our disposal; we just have to use them and not forsake or lose them at the far end of the bench.

Survive and Advance: Getting To The Next Level

Benda Frese

My Maryland Terrapin Ladies defeated Duke today and are now a part of the Elite Eight. GO TERPS! Brenda Frese is the real deal. She’s a great coach and she’s got a great team. But how did they do it? And how can they continue to carry on and keep on and go on to win another title?

Brenda Frese Clapping

How do you advance and ascend and progress and proceed to the next level? Simply put, how do you get from being one of many to being the one ahead of any? How do you beat all comers and best every contender? How do you recapture the flag and retake the lead? How do you win JUST wanting to?

How do you overcome your fears and fight back your tears? How do you mend mental mistakes? How do you modify muddles and mollify messes? How do you play under pressure? How do you rebound and regroup and regain control after falling and flailing and floundering? How do you go from being a “wannabe” to receiving Atta boys?

How do you leave the lower level and rise to the rarefied realm of the upper echelon? How do  you climb the mountain and scale the heights? How do you back out of the bottom and trudge towards the top? How do you surge forward and keep from sagging backward? How do you march through the madness and not lose your mind? How do you stop being a wannabe?

A Wannabe is a poser, a follower, and a fake. A Wannabe is one who copies or imitates all or most of the aspects dealing with their idol. They may wish to have certain clothing, skills, vocabulary, etc., of their idols instead of their own. Most likely a wannabe is lacking in self-confidence and is looking for guidance. Most likely a wannabe wants to be just where they are; an also ran and an almost made it. Because they aren’t willing to put in the time or fork over the dime that it costs to make it to the top of their game. But not you.

You and I want to go and want to get to the next level. You and I want to play in the next round. You and I want to survive and advance. The question is, “How?” The way and the key is to hunger and to thirst, to fight and to fume and to scrap and to scrape. The way is to survive and subsist; to come through and pull through; to outlive and outlast any and all comers and contenders that try to knock you off and knock you out.

So again I ask, “How do you go to the next level?” How do you win JUST wanting to? You don’t.

You don’t settle for second and you don’t concede the lead. Don’t do it. Don’t be satisfied with the way things are. Don’t succumb to the way people say things have to be. You are made for more than “would be” and wannabe status. You were made for more. You weren’t made to flounder, you were made to fly.

Playing King of the Hill: Getting On Top and Staying On Top Are Two Different Things

king-of-the-hill

Remember playing King of the Hill?  What fun, especially for those big kids who could throw the smaller ones around like rag dolls.  The goal of the game was not only to get to the top, but to stay on top.

I didn’t and don’t watch that crass and crude animated sitcom “King of the Hill,” and I hope you don’t either. Nonetheless, its popularity is undeniable. (Who watches that trash, anyway? — Somebody does).  Anyway, after its debut, the series became a large success for Fox Television and was named one of the best television series by various publications, including Entertainment Weekly, Time, and TV Guide. For the 1997–1998 season the series became one of Fox’s highest-rated programs and even briefly outperformed The Simpsons in ratings. Go figure.  “King of the Hill” was indeed atop of the TV game.

 We all want to get to the top. We strive and we struggle and attempt and attack projects and plans and desires and destinies all designed to get us to the peak and pinnacle of our game. But getting there, while it may be half the fun, it’s also only half the fight. We not only want to get on top, we want to stay on top.

My Maryland Terrapins are now ranked No. 10 in the AP Poll. Presumably, they’re the 10th best team in the Country right now. They’re still worse than the first and not better than the best, but they’re in the TOP 10! Go Terps!

So how do YOU get on top? Let the rest of us know, because what works for one should work for all, right? It’s a fight for first, and a fight to the finish. We all must do what it takes to win, while at the same time you must let the game come to you. Knowing you’re going to win is akin to being better than the best.

So how do you STAY on top? How to you stay on top of your game and your goals and your aims and your aspirations? You keep the pedal to the medal.  Keep your nose to the grind. Keep doing the little things and the big things will take care of themselves. Sounds easy, right?

So here’s to my team, the University of Maryland Men’s Basketball Team. They’re exceeding expectations, and surpassing all pre-season estimations.  Good for them. And my prayer is that we all do the same thing in this wide open, wacky and wonderful game called life.

The Bible way to get on top is to go straight to the bottom. The Biblical way to go up is to go down. It’s contrary to conventional thinking but it’s precisely and exactly what Heaven would have us to do. Spiritually speaking, we all need to humble ourselves, and then let God exalt us in due time. It’s the only sure-fire way to get, and stay on top.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 

1 Peter 5:6 KJV

Winning Is Serious Fun

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No one likes to lose and everyone wants to win. While it’s that simple, it’s not that easy. And as they say, “it’s easier said than done.”  Winning is fun; its serious fun. And fun, Biblically speaking, is “joy.” Joy is a positive attitude or pleasant emotion; it means delight.  The joy which the people of God should have is holy and pure. This joy rises above circumstances and focuses on the very character of God.

It is a joy to win, and it is a downer to lose. In losing we learn life lessons. But there comes a time when it’s time to turn in the lessons, and receive a final grade.

No one likes to lose because losing means to slip and to slide, to fail and to flounder, to miss the mission and jettison the job. When you lose you obliterate the operation, but when you win you inaugurate the celebration. Winning cures everything. Winning cures what ails us. But in order to win we must consistently do and persistently say and voice the vision of victory.  Like my Maryland Terps did last night.

My Maryland Terrapins Men’s Basketball Team upset No. 5 Wisconsin last night, 59 -53 . It was a fantastic finish to a wonderful win. Dez Wells, Maryland’s senior star, consistently and persistently poked and prodded his teammates to victory.  He mandated that they could win; he pleaded that they should win; and in the end, he ensured that they would win. And win they did. And they had fun doing it, and the fans had fun celebrating it, as they rushed the court to celebrate after the final buzzer sounded.

Everyone wants to win. And Dez Wells does too. He scored 26 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had four assists; not too shabby. Wells was the spark and the sparkle of the team. AND, I’m convinced that my Terps can play like that all of the time. Instead of being hot and cold and off and on, sometimes up and sometimes down, these Terps could be the best of the best most of the time.  The sky is the limit.

Winning like the Terps did last night makes one ponder and pose and consider and conceive – and even expect — how life would be if we played well all of the time. Just suppose; just imagine; just think of how good we could be if we hit on all cylinders at least MOST of the time? But alas, this season my Terps didn’t; and unfortunately they haven’t – played their best every game — but they could’ve.  And the same goes for all of the rest of us too.

Everyone wants to win and no one likes to lose. Because winning is serious. It’s means something and it matters everything. Why? Because winning is communicable and contagious; winning is transferable and transmittable; but so is losing. And the line and the limit between losing and winning are so thin you can barely see it with a magnifying glass.

Since everyone wants to win, and everyone is serious about winning, we strive for precision and perfection; we strive for faultless and flawless; we strive for the fantastic and the fanciful. We strive for Oscar-winning performances on and off the court. And with help from the Heavens, we hope to have happy, healthy, joyful and jovial endings to all, or at least most, of our games. It’s that serious.

And here’s an excerpt from Washington Post Sports Columnist Jason Ried’s article on the win:

“Recent signs indicate the Terrapins possess what it takes to have some fun in the NCAA tournament, and the biggest one occurred Tuesday night during a stirring 59-53 victory over formidable Wisconsin.”

“Dez Wells wouldn’t let us lose,” Coach Mark Turgeon said. “Melo was Melo.”

“Picked 10th in the conference preseason poll, Maryland steadily has gained supporters. It’s easy to like an up-and-comer that seemed to come from nowhere. Guess who was ahead of the pack.”

“The victory was the Terrapins’ best of the season by far . . . “

And that’s serious, and that’s fun.