Sunday, December 4, 2016

Pep Talk: "Al's Random Email"

In this electronics-dominated world, we possess them. Yep. Those loved ones who, usually late at night, fire off emails. To many, including us. The content usually with a humorous intent, obvious or not.

One of those friends is an incredible guy who, as a youth sports coach, devoted much time to your knucklehead scribe and other young men during our formative years. Spry and active in his 80s, “Alle B” is the nickname for a respected dude who still mentors young kids and plays a huge role in organizing a yearly golf tournament to raise money for Raytown, Missouri’s “Youth Sports Initiative.” It’s an effort to give kids in the school district more access to sports and less temptation to gangs. It’s a big problem we face in America today. We have too many kids growing up in neighborhoods with little access to music, sports and arts. Tragically, deprived of healthy and productive activities. Guess what? It opens the door for gangs to recruit the kids. Most of whom are from single-parent (mom) families. Isolated and vulnerable.

Anyway, I’ll get off the soapbox and back to the story. A recent email from Al Maddox was priceless. The subject line read: “God’s Wife.” The content was from Leo Buscaglia. The renowned author and lecturer once judged a contest looking for the most caring child. “God’s Wife” was one of the winning entries. It tickled Al’s fancy and he passed it along. Enjoy.

An eyewitness account from New York City, on a cold day in December, 
Some years ago: A little boy,
About 10-years-old, was standing before a shoe store on the
Roadway, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering
With cold.

A lady approached the young boy and said,
'My, but you're in such deep thought staring in that window!'

'I was asking God to give me a pair of
Shoes,' was the boy's reply.

The lady took him by the hand, went into
The store, and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks
For the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water
And a towel. He quickly brought them to her.

She took the little fellow to the back
Part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed
His little feet, and dried them with the towel.

By this time, the clerk had returned with
The socks. Placing a pair upon the boy's feet, she purchased him
A pair of shoes.

She tied up the remaining pairs of socks
And gave them to him. She patted him on the head and said, 'No
Doubt, you will be more comfortable now.'

As she turned to go, the astonished kid
Caught her by the hand, and looking up into her face, with tears
In his eyes, asked her: “Are you God’s wife?”

Way cool. Al’s random email (I’m lucky and blessed to have opened it) speaks to the power of never growing weary of doing good for others. Nobody reaps the harvest more than us. This week, live that truth!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Pep Talk: "Better Than Turkey Day Leftovers"

Driving and feeling a sense of accomplishment for buying the first holiday gift, your knucklehead scribe’s mood shifted dramatically during a phone conversation. “My father died suddenly last week,” offered a beautiful soul in a strong voice, “I am devastated.”
The woman is a care giver. An absolutely amazing sentry of a beloved friend who, because of memory issues, needs someone to keep an eye on him.

Anyway, this spiritual warrior just lost her father and was “back on the job” for the first time as necessary mourning continues. “My dad,” suggested the kindred spirit. “It was so touching. In his final hours he would awaken, look around and see everybody present. He would smile and proclaim, ‘I am so blessed.’” Wow. That dude is my hero.

Thanksgiving 2016. What a time in our nation’s history. These days, considering America’s tumultuous state, blessed is rarely the first word folks offer. Stressed? You bet? Blessed? Not so much.

But, we do have blessings. The fact we’re conversing suggests we’re each alive and breathing. That’s a decent start. But what else can we do to “lessen the stress and bring the bless?” This is not a marketing ploy for a community outreach movement, A Stronger Cord, but America needs to figure out ways to unite. Why not with wellness?  Healthier in mind, body and spirit? We need more folks to, like a dear friend’s dying father, proclaim, “I am blessed, not stressed.”

The other day this ol’ jock was blessed to be encouraging men from the Denver Rescue Mission’s New Life Program during an ASC Monday night. We talked about the value of wise instruction, perseverance and faith in overcoming life’s inevitable bumps in the road. We talked about unleashing suppressed gifts and talents in healthy and productive fashion. We talked about giving thanks for those gifts and talents.

Generations Church in Denver has embraced ASC’s “Work out, hang out and help out” philosophy. I enjoy attending their Sunday services. Pastor Jody Earley is a dynamo. Last weekend the East Coast-transplant implored the gathered to make sure our thankfulness is expressed, not just felt.

Perhaps that’s where we could start in building a stronger cord to another? Whether living in a mission, mansion or on Main Street, let’s focus on proclaiming what we’re thankful for, not just what we’re unhappy with? It’s well-known science that we become what we think about, right? If we decide to focus on gratefulness, not grumpiness, might things improve? How?

Here’s an idea. End the isolation. We need to rally around one another. ASC uses exercise as the hook, but use whatever, in healthy and productive fashion, works. Then, once you gather, REALLY get to know one another and then, collectively, look around and say, “Let’s go help others.”

The sudden and unexpected passing of a dear friend’s father triggered a powerful reminder to give thanks, count blessings and serve others in an effort to multiply those blessings beyond our selves.

The stress removed from our world? It’ll be better than Turkey Day leftovers!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Pep Talk: "When Facing The Unimaginable"

Sometimes a trip down memory lane can be quite conflicting.

The other day your knucklehead scribe offered a ride to an A Stronger Cord stalwart. The father of two beautiful daughters needed to get to Greeley, Colorado (about 45 minutes north of Denver) for a legal meeting.

Being an old television sportscaster, as we drove into the city’s southern limits, temptation ruled. The story of FIDO was shared. It’s an example frequently offered  in consulting work with groups or individuals challenged with letting go of the past. It’s the story of a long ago Denver Broncos’ football team. It was back in the early 90’s. Despite having future Hall-of-Famer John Elway at quarterback and other talented stars, the year before, the Dan Reeves-coached team had underachieved.

Back then the Broncos held summer camp in Greeley, home to the University of Northern Colorado. It was the first day of camp the next year. The Broncos were trying to comeback from disappointment. As a sports guy for KCNC-TV, I was covering the team and stationed outside the dining hall early on the morning of the first practice. Every player, coach and staff member, who sleepily walked into the chow hall, had on the front of their t-shirts, in bold letters, this statement: F-I-D-O. It became the focus of my report that morning. Upon inquiry, it was discovered, Coach Reeves, at a team meeting the night before had issued the t-shirts, which signified, about the previous season’s disappointment, “Forget It, Drive On!”

My buddy enjoyed the story, was delivered to his appointment and then I turned right around and drove back to Denver. The return trip sparked a reflection concerning recent experiences making the “FIDO” creed quite difficult to embrace.

Like, a wonderful workout and golfing buddy and his former wife burying their 27-year-old son after the young man’s unexpected death. The vision of a “brother from another mother” grabbing a shovel and beginning the Jewish burial tradition of, once the casket is lowered into the ground, pouring dirt on the casket. Wow. It’s something I’ll never forget. How do parents “Forget it and drive on” from such grief?

Or, how does a dear friend and spiritual warrior, wife and six kids, “Forget it and drive on” as he continues to fight cancer? It has spread throughout his body and is clearly winning right now. This stud of a man still shows up on Fridays for Bible study, speaks through a voice box and acts like nothing’s wrong? Really? It’s sure easy to talk about forgetting and driving on when the going gets tough. The major question becomes, can we LIVE IT? How?

While driving home contemplation landed on this: Faith in FIDO can be fickle. However, ultimately it is necessary. There are certainly moments of great suffering when “forgetting it and driving on” seems impossible. In grief, when facing the unimaginable,  all we can do is pray for emotional and physical healing we can’t see or even imagine.
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