Saturday, March 25, 2017

Reflections from the Home Team March 25, 2017

“Just as a renewed sense of hope for baseball teams blossoms while a new season lurks in the horizon, the same can be true for each of us in our relationship with God, no matter what pains or tragedies may be facing us or our loved ones.”
Greetings from Cedar Falls,
It’s been a while since my last update in December.  At that time I was preparing for additional biopsies following the discovery and removal of some tubular polyps that had cancer “potential” that month.  My team of doctors decided to wait a few weeks to go back in to make sure that all traces of the polyps were removed and that there was no additional growth. That second procedure occurred in January and was successful in determining all of the polyps were removed and that there was no additional growth.  That was certainly a relief and yes, HOPE has returned with the arrival of spring!
Even though the calendar might say March, the weather here in Iowa has at times said otherwise. The occasional warm temperatures have allowed many outdoor activities to start up once again while also reminding us that spring training games are now happening. While we all enjoy the unseasonably warm weather here in Iowa, Major League baseball teams are experiencing the sun in Florida and Arizona as spring training workouts are in full swing.
For most people, the middle of the season and the postseason are times of the year in which they are brought the most enjoyment. However, for me, spring training has always been a special time of the year. After seeing 29 teams fail to reach the ultimate goal last season, it’s nice to see a renewed sense of hope as a new season lurks in the horizon.
Spring training games aren’t always the most exciting things to watch, I’ll admit that, but to see the preparation players go through and young hopefuls get a chance to show their worth is something I always look forward to.
When it comes to the Atlanta Braves, there is always a sense of hope. After a long string of consecutive winning seasons and playoff appearances, the Braves took a step backwards last year, sporting a losing season. However, the hope has returned with the arrival of spring.The Braves have a crop of young players battling for spots on the major league roster and a number of veteran players looking to make bigger impacts in 2017. That’s the best part about the spring season. Last year is over and the past is the past. Spring training marks a new beginning for all 30 major league clubs as they make the long run towards October.

That brings me to this Reflection.  My wife Tricia and I recently took in the movie “The Shack”. The movie was based on a novel written by William Young in 2007 by the same title. Just as Spring Training sparks a new hope for all Major League Baseball Clubs, this movie helped spark a new hope for a man who had to deal with a number of “pains” in his life.


The Shack is about one man's redemption, on a number of different levels: spiritual, relational and family centered. There’s not a single relationship in Mack's life (the featured character in the movie and book) that's not deeply impacted by what transpires when he reaches the “shack”. I won’t spoil the movie for you by going into detail, but after his young daughter Missy’s abduction and murder during a camping excursion, Mack retreats within to deal with the pain. But his wife lovingly, and bravely confronts Mack saying, "Don't forget we love each other." It's a statement that underscores the importance of a husband and wife maintaining loving communication when going through difficult times, just as it can throughout one’s cancer journey.
The movie points to some spiritual insights that I have found helpful throughout my journey. First, God loves people, even deeply flawed people who aren't yet in a relationship with Him; God cares deeply for those who've gone through severe tragedies; God does not abandon His loved ones during difficult times; God desires reconciliation with those who don't know Him; God offers hope even in the most hopeless of situations; and God can make incredibly good things happen, even after unspeakable tragedies.
Mack’s encounter with God changed him and birthed new hope and a real faith in God. A man who loses one of his children understandably questions where God was during that tragedy, just as a cancer victim often asks where God may have been during their battle with the disease. It's a question that has been asked since the beginning of time. It's the reason behind the book of Job in the Bible. And yet, just as in Job, the answer is; "I am God; trust in me," rather than, "I am God; I owe you an explanation." The take away for me is that God cares. He loves deeply and unconditionally. He wants to heal our woundedness and He can do so when we choose to let Him. Just as a renewed sense of hope for baseball teams blossoms while a new season lurks in the horizon, the same can be true for each of us in our relationship with God, no matter what pains or tragedies may be facing us or our loved ones.
I have truly been enjoying the freedoms that retirement brings while keeping busy as well. Scouting season will be getting underway soon as the weather improves and my driving for Western Home Communities has been quite enjoyable.  Another project that has occupied my time involves transforming my Reflections into book form. It will be titled Reflections from the Home Team… Go the Distance. We are in the final editing stages with Xulon press, a Christian publishing group connected with the Salem Marketing Group.

My hope is to offer my experiences in the book 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 the book. The Reflections will include a touch of spiritual insight, encouraging quotes from wise and thoughtful people, and some suggestions on action and attitudinal steps you might consider taking to help you or a friend walk through a life-changing event such as cancer. I’ll keep you posted as to progress as we move forward with publishing.

Wishing you all a joyous Easter Season and renewed hope with any struggles you may be facing.



Link to: Reflections from the Home Team BLOG

Link to Vimeo: Reflections from the "Home Team"... Go the Distance

Link to: Tommy Emmanuel and "Angelina"