Reality Reflection: Baseball’s Long Season

Lately I’ve been thinking about the sport of baseball, especially since my partner watches a lot of it and we’re getting close to winding down another season. Each year teams play over 160 games, which is the most of any sport. While it may not be as physical as football or soccer, 160+ games are still a lot of games to play.

By the time you get to the end of the season it’s always interesting to see who is ahead in the number of games and who is still or now playing well. Some teams begin well and end well (but can’t win anything in between), some consistently do decently enough throughout the whole season to be in contention for post season, some don’t play well all season long, and some just play so well that there’s never a question during any part of the season that they’re going to be at the top of the ranks.

The long season is one reason why a team can get a second wind, even if it won’t totally fix a team’s (poor) season. That second wind is incredibly frustrating for fans because they want to see their team play that well all season long, and wonder why they can’t. It also causes me to think about the seasons of our lives and how sometimes we really need a little more time for things to develop, and that short and quick aren’t always the answer.

I think the secret to success during long journeys like this is to be able to get focused and stay focused for a sufficient period of time each day, to have a team that can support you and you can support them, to not have to or plan to rely on luck all the time, and to not just focus on the big win but work more on the smaller stepping stone victories that will lead to that bigger victory.

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Raising Awareness

Whether you know it or not each month there are months, weeks and days designated to raising awareness of illnesses, cancers, or other issues that many people face, whether we talk about them or not. This week is National Suicide Prevention week, and over the next 2 months we’ve also got Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, National Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month, World Alzheimer’s Month, Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Awareness Month, and Mental Illness Awareness Week, and a couple dozen other awareness events too. Simply put there are a lot of issues going on in the lives of the people around us at any given time. No one should ever feel that they’re alone in facing the issues they deal with.

In many situations there’s absolutely nothing that could have been done to prevent someone from facing the issue. You don’t really choose to deal with these issues personally, and you don’t wish that anyone in your circle of family and friends ever has to deal with these issues. There also aren’t answers to all of the issues, although each of these awareness days/weeks/months are yet another opportunity to raise awareness (and funding) to understand and conquer these issues.

Awareness is such a key step to healing and conquering the issues because there’s a lot of fear and uncertainty around many of these issues. If everyone were either more educated or more willing to be educated about these issues they wouldn’t seem quite as scary or weird and there would be a lot more friendliness and support available for everyone.

If you or someone you know is facing one of the issues I mentioned above, or any of the countless other issues there are, I encourage you to do some research so you better understand what you/they are facing and then talk about everyone getting the support that they need to live a fulfilling and rewarding life regardless of the challenges they face.

What issues are you raising awareness for?

Partnerships in Creation

Over the past week I’ve been watching a family of bees make a home in the building next to my office window. I’ve worked out of this office for several years and haven’t seen them build here before, but this year they found the spot and decided to build there. They’re very small creatures and have found what looks to me to be a smaller hole to work with, but apparently they can fit quite a few of them in there at one time, so there must be space.

Today as I was watching them get started in the morning for the day’s hunting and building activities and whatever else they do it got me thinking about partnerships, us and nature, and nature and God. One of the things that has been talked about since humans really started growing and building homes is that we’re displacing the animals of nature, some of which have gone extinct as a result. As I’m watching this family of bees work I realized that the animals are doing their best to work with us, but we’re not giving them the same respect.

I get it, it’s not fun to watch the rabbits eat all of your plants, or have the deer run across the road where you’re driving, or have the bears and raccoons get in your garbage, or have the bugs take over spaces where you’re actively living. But I think many of those are signs that we’re not even trying to work with them on letting them have space to exist too.

But this family of bees has been a reminder and a reassurance that God takes care of all of His creatures, big and small. Maybe it’s time that we start working with God on not only how we can help nature thrive while we live where we live, but also work on partnering better with the other people that He’s created and put in our lives. Why fight and have someone be a loser when we can work together and everyone wins?

“”Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”” Matthew 6:26

Standing Strong to Make A Difference

As I’ve been thinking about our topic of the month (strength/courage/bravery) and one of my other favorite topics, victories, I had what may seem like an obvious epiphany, but here it is: it’s through using our individual strengths that we’re able to make a difference in the world. It’s not by bringing my weaknesses to the table that I can help others, that I can make the world better for the next generation, or I can have a happier life, it’s by standing on my strengths.

I can’t avoid or completely erase my weaknesses (although I can improve on them), but I can rely on other people’s strengths to help me with my weaknesses or to support me where my skills or resources aren’t as good as theirs. I don’t believe we have to be perfect people or good at every single thing. It’s OK to bring our own skills and strengths to a project but not be able to do the entire project on our own. There are tons of short cuts and supports that have been created in our modern age from “supermarket short cuts” that help us cut cooking time down, to tech templates that allow us to do some of the online design work but not have to do it all, to search engines that give us answers with a few taps or clicks with no trips to the library required (unless you want to!).

The question really is will you bring your strengths to the table for the good of everyone, or will you keep them just for yourself? While I don’t think we have to help everyone with everything, I do think we need to give back and make a difference in the world. Lawyers can donate a couple of hours a month to helping non-profits, doctors can donate a couple of hours to free clinics, teachers can donate a couple of hours to inner city students or those with learning disabilities, parents can donate a couple of hours to single parents in their neighborhood to watch their kids, and business owners can donate a couple of hours to helping veterans learn a trade or start a business. Not to mention that everyone can recycle, plant a tree, share information with the police or crimestoppers, help someone cross the street, pay for someone’s coffee, or say something nice to someone on social media.

You know what you’re good at, you know what you enjoy. How will you take your strengths and use them for good in the world?

Praying for Unity

Thursday in the US is National Day of Prayer. It’s an opportunity to come together as a nation and pray for some of the many needs in the country, and especially for our leadership. This year the committee is going with a theme of praying for unity, and the verse they’ve chosen is Ephesians 4:3:

“Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

The great thing about prayer is that it doesn’t take sides, it doesn’t matter if you’re old or young, a man or a woman, a morning person or a night person, how you like your coffee or if you like coffee, if you have a green thumb, if you prefer dogs or cats, or if you’re good with numbers. Prayer is something everyone and anyone can do. It’s also something that doesn’t have to take a long time to do or be something you have to do with others, although it’s good to pray with others.

So in a way just participating in National Day of Prayer is a way to unify many people around the US. Last week there was also some big news relating to the topic of peace and unity, North and South Korea stated that they were going to put aside their differences and try to work together for a better future.

Unity and peace both begin with a step. They not usually things that happen in one day, they are built over many days and weeks with work, communication, time and effort. Trust has to be established and it has to be shown that everyone is going to keep up their end of the partnership before unity and peace become a regular and expected thing.

So today what step will you take for peace and unity? That step can be as simple as prayer, or as big a step as you want to take.

Earth Day Encouragement

Earth Day is less than a week away, and as I was reflecting on some of the earth/nature related Bible verses, the earth related events I know about coming up this weekend, about tax time, and still about Easter which is only a few weeks ago, I was reminded that it all eventually circles back to one thing: community.

Let me explain. Yes, the Bible tells of God doing things for just one or a few people, but Easter is really about everyone, not just one person or a few people. Everyone pays taxes, because it’s too big of a burden for just one person to take care of. The earth is something we all share and we’re all going to either keep it or lose it depending on how we live on it. As much as we’re all individuals and God sees us that way and has individual relationships with each of us, we’re all still part of a body of believers and called to meet together, care for each other and love each other.

Earth Day is one of those things that individually we’re responsible for doing our part to pay better attention to how we live on the earth as well as make sure we give back to the earth. But it’s only when we look at our collective effort that we can really see the difference over the years since 1970 when Earth Day officially began. It’s only when we recycle all year long, and not just on Earth Day, that we’ll make a difference. It’s only when we consistently choose the environmentally friendly choices that we begin to see a difference.

The same is true for our faith communities. You may not think you’re doing much only talking with one person about what faith means to you, but when many people are talking with others about their faith, not only does the Great commission not seem so overwhelming, but it actually looks like we’re making progress spreading the word.

So today I encourage you not to give up. Don’t be disheartedned if you don’t see your personal efforts having huge effects. Take the time to be part of your community and see what your community is doing to make a difference in the world, both your local community for Earth Day and your church community for the Great Commission. I’m not suggesting that when you see everyone else is doing the work that you let others do all the work and don’t give a personal effort, but rather be encouraged that the work you’re doing in connection with the work they’re doing is making a difference.

“Sometimes—by sheer determination–we can just kick the stone away from the door of the tomb and march out triumphantly into Resurrection Life. More often, we must wait: wait for circumstances to change, wait upon on God, wait on others for help. When Lazarus was called out of the tomb, Jesus said: “unbind him.” You –you friends and family of Lazarus—you unbind him. Sometimes we cannot unbind ourselves, but have to wait for others to help us into freedom.” Br. Mark Brown

Together We Are More

We’ve all got failures in our pasts, and we’ll all have more in our future.  None of us are perfect and none of us can be perfect given the way things are in the world at this time.  But what it will take for the world to become a place where our failures haunt us less and we’re less concerned about being perfect, will be for us to care more honestly and deeply for those around us.

When we’re more concerned about what goes on around us, we’ll be more conscious of our actions and the impact that our actions (and our words) have on the world around us.  We’ll be quicker to notice that we’ve hurt someone’s feelings, quicker to respond to situations that are going to pot, and quicker to forgive and accept forgiveness.

What difference would this make you ask?  Simply put, it changes the entire equation.  By being more conscious of what is going on around us we’ll realize quicker when things aren’t right.  But beyond that, when we’re more focused on caring for those around us we’ll actually make the necessary changes to rise above the situations that arise.

Right now many of us are semi-motivated people.  We get up and go when we can’t take it anymore, when it’s in our best interests or when most people have already hopped on the bandwagon.  We like to know that others are doing things we’re interested in, and we really like to know that we’re not alone in the world.

Which brings us back to our point: if we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that other people around us were just as concerned and interested in us as we were in them we would be less insecure, less self-conscious and more ready to take action because we knew we wouldn’t be judged for our mistakes.  In fact, people would be more likely to come up and lend a helping hand when things go awry.  This will mean that instead of picking stupid fights we’ll be focusing on improving the lot of the world and helping each other out.

Together we are more than we could ever hope to be apart.  Remember that you’re not alone in this world, but that there are other people who truly care about you and want to support you.

“To be capable of steady friendship or lasting love, are the two greatest proofs, not only of goodness of heart, but of strength of mind.” William Hazlitt