Saturday, December 2, 2017

Reflections from the Home Team 
December 2, 2017

“As I witnessed that interaction in the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics waiting room… peace, joy, confidence, hope, faith and love all erupted at once in my heart! That experience illustrated through an ‘interruption’ what I feel we all seek in times of difficulty and challenge… a loving presence.”

Greetings from Cedar Falls to my HOME TEAM,

December it seems is always a month of medical follow-ups for me… I’ve just returned from an appointment in Iowa City this past week to follow up on some post treatment side effects. I have been battling upper respiratory challenges as well as some throat and swallowing issues. Seems the radiation and chemo treatments are a gift that just “keep on giving”. I need to be mindful of those issues given my compromised immune system issues since treatments.  I have scheduled a procedure in Iowa City later in December to address those concerns and will also do my regular labs at that time to monitor whether the “visiting team” has any inclinations of coming back to compete in extra innings at that time.

These ongoing checks are important, and provide me with what I refer to as “momentary interruptions” in my daily life. Easy as it may be to allow these interruptions to cloud my thankfulness for the gift of life, I need to remind myself to let them go.  I’m not talking about just the physical things... I’m also including the emotional baggage that can come with those interruptions. I can tell when it’s time to let something go, that being when it begins to feel heavy…  Whether that be frustration with a health issue, a work issue or any other any other challenge that may come my way, it feels good to let them go so that I can create space in my life for new things to come in.  As author Bryant McGill writes in his book “Simple Reminders”

“It's not wrong to be upset. It's not wrong to cry. It's not wrong to want attention. It's not even wrong to scream or throw a fit. What is wrong is to keep it all inside. What is wrong is to blame and punish yourself for simply being human. What is wrong is to never be heard and to be alone in your pain. Share it. Let it out. Abundance becomes the process of letting go as that which is empty can receive.”

I witnessed an example of that in Iowa City this past week as I was sitting in the U of I Hospitals waiting room for some tests. A gentleman, about my age, was sitting with his children and one of his grandchildren. He was really struggling with his emotions as he was discussing and trying to explain how he felt about his recent cancer diagnosis with his family who was there with him. As he began to tear up, his granddaughter, about seven years old I’d guess, crawled up into his lap to comfort him. At first, he seemed annoyed by the “interruption” as he shared his thoughts with family… As she sat in his lap, I couldn’t help but notice several bruises, scratches and the matted Band-Aid on one of her arms… all of which it seems are often a part of a healthy seven year olds life. As the granddaughter settled in and snuggled with her ‘Pops’, that “interruption” became an illustration of the love, care and affection she had for her grandpa. In turn, her grandpa gave her a hug, acknowledged that they were both a bit bruised and broken and that they could ‘snuggle’ together to help comfort and heal each other.

As I witnessed that interaction in the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics waiting room… peace, joy, confidence, hope, faith and love all erupted at once in my heart! That experience illustrated through an ‘interruption’ what I feel we all seek in times of difficulty and challenge… a loving presence.

Our lives are full of interruptions…traffic, a sick child, a long line, a needy neighbor, a complaining customer, a co-worker in crisis, illness and death. These all look, sound and feel like interruptions. However, each of us has the ability to look beyond life’s interruptions and instead see illustrations of God’s love as well as the love of others in our lives.

Interruptions can be appointments for compassion as life at times may feel unfair, but in our everyday routines, we need to recognize that interruptions represent people to love and also create opportunities for us to be loved! We each need to allow those interruptions to slow us down a bit, so we can better focus on receiving and giving love both from God as well as the others in our lives.

Just as the young seven year old settled into her grandpa’s lap in Iowa City, we can lean into God’s lap and learn of His love for the person or challenge that may have interrupted our life. By settling into the lap of our Lord, as well as those on our personal “Home Teams” who care about us, we can rest securely in their comfort and compassion.

As we deal with the frustrations in explaining how we feel about the challenges our life journey can present us, John 13:7 provides me with some guidance… “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” As we learn to live in this world, He is with us. As we walk down dark paths, He is with us. As we face grief, disappointments, addictions, illnesses, and the unfairness of life, He is with us… for eternity.

May each of your life’s journeys be filled with such a “loving presence” as you navigate the challenges each day presents in our lives and may your eyes be open to see the illustrations of love in the interruptions in our lives…

Blessings to all and wishing you a wonderful Christmas season! Special thanks to all for being such a “loving presence” on my Home Team!

Are you or someone you know fighting cancer... struggling with the physical, emotional and spiritual issues that accompany a cancer journey? If so, Reflections from the Home Team... Go the Distance was written to offer strength, hope and comfort when confronted with a cancer journey's challenges. Share a message of positivity with those you care about. Learn more about the book at this link:

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Reflections from the Home Team October 5, 2017

Jackie Robinson truly had it right… “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other’s lives.” May I respectfully add, “Except in the POSITIVE impact it has on other’s lives.”

Greetings from Cedar Falls,

Once again, special thanks to all those on my “Home Team” for the love, support and encouragement offered during the challenging times of my cancer journey. The many encouraging thoughts shared over the years since my journey began has continued to fill my “emotional bank” on those days when it can feel like that account is running a deficit… Please feel free to continue to share your love, support and encouragement with others who may be facing similar challenges! Remember, It’s not the team with the best players that win… It’s the players with the best team that wins! I’m so fortunate to have a “Home Team” that rocks❣❣

So many times, we tell ourselves how “little power” we have when faced with life’s challenges. No matter who you are, or what the challenge you may be facing, each of us has the power to positively impact not only ourselves, but also the people we come into contact with each day.  Just think about how many people you come in contact with over the course of a day and how a simple positive interaction could help them get through a difficult situation in their life. Sometimes that interaction can be as simple as a kind word, or a smile, or just simply by listening. Each of us has within us an awesome power to change the world -- one positive interaction at a time.

As I reflect on the events of the past few months in our Country, I am truly disheartened by what I see… As I have witnessed the divisions that currently exist in our Country, along with the tragic, senseless acts of violence such as just displayed in Las Vegas, I’m deeply troubled by the hurtful comments being made and directed at others with whom we may disagree… so many disparaging comments being directed toward individuals and groups on both sides of a discussion. I see them on T.V., hear them on the radio and read them in social media every day, and without question, they continue to push us more and more into the “great divide”.

My wife Tricia and I had the privilege of attending Hope Lutheran Church (Johnston/Grimes) last weekend.  We traveled to Des Moines to listen to our daughter Sarah sing at the service. Pastor Mike Housholder delivered a powerful message that really struck home with us by offering a positive approach to this dilemma.

In a nutshell, here are the major points…

Pastor Mike began by sharing a clip from the 1970’s classic sitcom “All in the Family”.  “Archie Bunker”, representing a sometimes bigoted, old school character and his son-in-law “Meathead” who certainly had different ideas than Archie while owning a few problems of his own. It was that tension that often drove the comedy in the show. In the clip, Archie secretly takes his grandson to a local church to baptize him without the child’s parent’s knowledge. Despite his “rough exterior” and “surface issues”, Archie was acting out of love, wanting his grandson to be saved through baptism. Pastor Mike used the clip to show how complex we all can be, while understanding that we are ALL sinners.

Pastor then went on to share the true story of Coach Tandy Gerelds, a High School football coach in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1970’s. The story was made into a movie titled Woodlawn, which I highly recommend. Coach Gerelds had a goal, and that was to win football games. If you recall history, in1973, Birmingham was a terribly divided city, divided along racial lines. With the implementation of bussing, his team now became integrated with mixed races for the first time.  With that forced integration, came much conflict and chaos between members on the team, the school and the community.  One young man from Birmingham attended a Billy Graham “revival” in the Cotton Bowl that year and wanted to bring back what he had taken away from the revival and share it with the team to help heal the conflict and chaos. Coach Gerelds, not a religious man by any means, offered him 5 minutes with the team. Actually, he spent more than five minutes with the team, talking and praying together with them, bringing them together in the “UNITY” of Christ. There was a “spiritual thing” going on there… The team began eating together, hanging out together, and slowly but surely, things began to get better.  The players at Woodlawn then began sharing with their archrival, and to this day, the largest crowd ever at an Alabama high school football game (42,000 people, 20,000 of whom couldn’t get in because of lack of space) came together to watch the rivals play each other.

Pastor Mike went on to say that if we truly know and understand our history, when we as a nation have been deeply divided in the past, (e.g. abolition of slavery, women’s right to vote, the civil rights movement) change has always begun with a revival.  Only a revival can heal us in order that we may cross the divide that exists between us.  Having a sense that God cares about each of us, even those with whom we disagree, can allow His Grace to come through us and can help set us free from being so divided! 

We can certainly take a lesson from how Jesus handled these types of situations. He didn’t post things on Facebook or other social media dismissing people he disagreed with… He didn’t tear their character down… He quietly took the sinners aside, shoeing them away from those who were accusing them and told them to go and sin no more.  After all, the “ground is level” at the foot of the cross! Jesus offered them love and support, not only showing them a better way, but He also modeled it Himself! We are all complex, we are all sinners, and we simply can’t wait for “perfection” to begin the process of revival… Let’s allow the “light of positivity” to shine through to all those “complex” folks around us, as we start a revival of our own in 2017!

I have included a link to Pastor Mike’s entire sermon below, and would encourage you to take a bit of quiet time just for yourself to view Pastor Mike’s entire message offering hope, positivity and a solution to what is currently dividing us in our Country.

Pastor Mike Housholder’s message; October 1, 2017

Jackie Robinson truly had it right… “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other’s lives.” May I respectfully add, “Except in the POSITIVE impact it has on other’s lives.”

It is so important for us to keep our eyes on what truly matters - - to love our families, our communities and each other to the best of our ability. As we share our “stories” and our faith without fear or delay, let’s make our lives and comments focus on the positive as we work together to impact those who may be struggling. Some days get hard. We feel exhausted. Worn. Tired of fighting. About ready to give up. Feeling like we can’t go on. Struggling through defeat. And then, we may wonder if we’ve been left on our own... We’re not alone. Not ever. God won’t let us go! His Word is filled with reminders that He fights for us each and every day.

We’re all in this "life thing" together and it's good to keep a focus on helping each other get through it each day. Give an encouraging word, smile at someone, write a note, pray for another person and let them know that you’re praying, anything, just to remind them that you’re helping hold them up, and that you’re with them.

I just couldn’t finish my reflection without sharing that the recent experiences I’ve had sharing my story with individuals and groups has been a wonderful opportunity to help spread the message of positivity and connectedness. It has truly been a blessing for me to listen to others thoughts and perspectives as they confront life’s challenges while moving forward with their own personal journeys.

Wishing everyone the many blessings God has in store for each of us,

In Christ’s Love and Comfort…


Reflections from the Home Team… Go the Distance was written to help spread a message of positivity while also sharing the importance of remaining connected when facing not only cancer, but any other of life’s challenges that may come our way. The book’s purpose is to help offer compassion, hope, and strength for others who may be facing similar battles while also offering encouragement and positivity to readers who may find them selves or a loved one in a catastrophic health situation, or for that matter, any challenging situation that life may toss your way… The thoughts shared in the book can help train your mind to see the “positive” in every situation.

The author has shared his personal thoughts and experiences so that others may face difficult times by filling their minds and spirits with the positive thoughts and energy shared in the book. Baseball metaphors, competitive spirit, a touch of humor, and thanking God for each and every day of life provide common themes throughout.  Each reflection entry ends with an encouraging attitude, a spiritual insight and a step to consider which help provide some essential “fundamentals” to consider when facing life’s difficulties and challenges.

Please find the author’s “story” below as shared in an interview with Ron Steele:

To learn more about the book and how to obtain a signed, personalized copy, or to find “buy the book” locations, please click on the book’s web site below. The website also contains updated posts from the “Reflections from the Home Team Blog” in which the author shares thoughts and reflections as his journey continues.

Amazon reviews of Reflections from the Home Team… Go the Distance can be found at the link below: