Sunday, February 3, 2019

Reflections from the Home Team, February 3, 2019

“As we approach our individual ‘spring trainings’, may we remember that the teammates in our lives (both human and divine) can help us find our way when dealing with the struggles and challenges each day can bring… while always remembering to keep God at our side along the way.”

Greetings from Cedar Falls,

As you all know, the weather has been brutal up this way the past couple of weeks, so I’ve needed to “distract” my thoughts by thinking of things much more positive… I’ve also experienced the loss of a friend and another acquaintance to cancer over the past couple of months, which has also been weighing on my mind.

Given those challenging thoughts, I have done my best to restore my mindset to “positive mode” by reminding myself of the importance of my “Home Team”, and the impact they have had on me when I need a lift, something I have so often talked about in my reflections to all of you.  My thoughts also wandered to the final moments of both that friend and acquaintance who were lovingly surrounded by family and friends as they took their final breath on this earth and passed on to the eternal homes that have been prepared for each of them by our loving Father. That thought helped remind me of the wonderful things that lay ahead for each of us, even after we deal with the pain and struggles this life can bring.

At this time of year, my mind tends to wander to “Spring Training” (imagine that) where pitchers and catchers will soon report. I can literally smell the freshly mown grass as a reminder of the spring that lies just ahead of us here in the Midwest! Every spring, baseball teams start training for the season to produce the best “team” results they possibly can. Even though they may already know each other and have a good grasp of the fundamentals needed to succeed, it boosts their performance and teamwork while also helping integrate new members onto the team. When discussing the subject of teamwork with my former players, “playing together as a team” was always one of their higher priorities.

Sharing thoughts while navigating my cancer journey has been a “from the heart” experience, allowing me to process and reflect on the many emotions and fears that have invaded my mind since this adventure began back in 2009. As you can surely tell from reading those thoughts, not all of them have been positive, but with the help of my Home Team, I have strived to make them productive.

Last week I heard a wonderful message from Pastor Brian King that really brought home the importance of “team” to me and gave me a special “lift” that was needed.  It was titled “There’s No “I” in Team”. If interested, you can view it at this link:

Pastor Brian shared that we learn in 1 Corinthians, 12: 4-7 that the body is made of many parts and every part matters. We cannot be the “body alone” as we are created to live and serve in community.  There is no greater example of this than what I have experienced from my Home Team on my cancer journey.

God really did design us to live close to Him so that by trusting in Him we can feel peaceful and complete. Sometimes, we tend to forget this as we deal with life’s challenges “on our own” instead of staying in touch with Him and others around us. Pastor Brian used an illustration of what can happen when we depend wholly on ourselves, rather than reaching out to others around us when facing challenges.

It is titled “The Barrel of Bricks”:
This man was in an accident (work accident, not car accident), so he filled out an insurance claim. The insurance company contacted him and asked for more information. This was his response:           

I am writing in response to your request for additional information for block number 3 of the accident reporting form. I put ‘poor planning’ as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more fully and I trust the following detail will be sufficient. 

I am an amateur radio operator and on the day of the accident, I was working alone on the top section of my new 80 foot tower.

When I had completed my work, I discovered that I had, over the course of several trips up the tower, brought up about 300 pounds of tools and spare hardware. Rather than carry the now un-needed tools and material down by hand, I decided to lower the items down in a small barrel by using a pulley, which was fortunately attached to the gin pole at the top of the tower. 

Securing the rope at ground level, I went to the top of the tower and loaded the tools and material into the barrel. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow descent of the 300 pounds of tools. You will note in block number 11 of the accident reporting form that I weigh only 155 pounds. 

Due to my surprise of being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate of speed up the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the 40-foot level, I met the barrel coming down. This explains my fractured skull and broken collarbone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley.

Fortunately, by this time, I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold onto the rope in spite of my pain. 

At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of tools hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the tools, the barrel now weighed approximately 20 pounds. I refer you again to my weight in block number 11. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the 40-foot level, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, and the lacerations of my legs and lower body. The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of tools and, fortunately, only three vertebrae were cracked. I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the tools, in pain, unable to stand and watching the empty barrel 80 feet above me, I again lost my presence of mind. I let go of the rope . . .

I think we have all had a “Barrel of Bricks” to deal with at some time or another in our lives… and if you are like me, often we try to handle things on our own. When those challenges come our way, be sure to reach out to others (both human and divine) for the strength, love and support needed to meet them. We cannot be the “body alone” as we are created to live and serve in community!

An inspiring piece written by Chuck Swindoll titled, Friendly People, Thoughtful People, lovingly describes the special people who have surrounded me in my life, making up my precious Home Team. It reads:

“If I have learned anything during my journey on Planet Earth, it is that people need one another.

The presence of other people is essential
caring people, helpful people, interesting people, friendly people, and thoughtful people. These folks take the grind out of life.

About the time we are tempted to think we can handle things all alone
boom! We run into some obstacle and need assistance. We discover all over again that we are not nearly as self-sufficient as we thought.

In spite of our high-tech world and efficient procedures, people remain the essential ingredient of life. When we forget that, a strange thing happens: We start treating people like inconveniences instead of assets.”

As we approach our individual ‘spring trainings’, may we remember that the teammates in our lives (both human and divine) can help us find our way when dealing with the struggles and challenges each day can bring… while always remembering to keep God at our side along the way.

Thanks again for being such a special part of my Home Team…
Many blessings your way!


Are you or someone you know fighting cancer... struggling with the physical, emotional and spiritual issues that accompany a cancer journey or other serious health issue? Making ourselves available to others can open up the doors of opportunity for deeper relationships, healing, and transformation. For many, time is one of the most valuable commodities in today's fast-paced world. Sharing time with others is a wonderful gift. It says, "Here I am. . . for you. To listen, to care, to serve." The power of presence should never be underestimated!  

Be an encourager in someone else’s life!

To learn more about being an encourager, and to view the Reflections blog and several video messages, visit the Reflections from the Home Team website at: