Reflections from the Home Team, August 17, 2019
“In the end, it’s extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more than that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness, and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don’t win, how can you lose?”
– Jesse Owens
– Jesse Owens
Greetings from Cedar Falls!
This summer has nearly passed us by and I couldn’t help but reflect on some of the things that I have learned over the summer from the game I love so much… Many of those “concepts” not only come from the game of baseball, but from individual/team sports in general. There are life lessons that every sports team and athlete at every level can learn from, and they most certainly are lessons that can be applied to our daily lives.
Back in early August, I was watching Team Japan who was visiting Rent One Park in Marion, Illinois to play in the Little League “Colt League” World Series. Following their 5-0 LOSS to a U.S. team from Southern Illinois, their players were walking throughout the stadium and locker room to pick up any trash that was left behind. When a T.V. commentator spoke with their Head Coach through their interpreter and asked why the players were doing this, he shared, "it is an honor for our players to play in such a beautiful stadium. They have created memories that will last their lifetimes. We want to leave it as good as we found it".
Wouldn’t that be a wonderful life lesson for each of us to incorporate into our daily lives? That comment also brought back some wonderful memories for me of the 1984 Summer Olympics that were held in Los Angeles. One of the featured events that year which my wife Tricia and I and our infant son John were able to attend was the first Olympic demonstration entry of the game of baseball. That event was held in Dodger Stadium, and we had a seat high above home plate to watch Team United States play Team Japan. The U.S. Team had many future big league stars on it including the likes of Will Clark, Barry Larkin, Mark McGuire and B.J Surhoff. What impressed me most was the discipline, determination and fundamentals demonstrated by the Japanese team both in pre game warm-ups, as well as throughout the game. Team USA had beaten the Japanese team in six previous meetings that summer, but Team Japan came out with a decisive 6-3 victory that night to move on to the Gold Medal game.
A quote from Jesse Owens, a famed U.S. Olympian himself, sums of what we witnessed that night in Los Angeles. “In the end, it’s extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more than that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness, and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don’t win, how can you lose?”
– Jesse Owens
– Jesse Owens
I have relied on this formula many times in my journey with “Team Cancer”. My “Medical Team” has helped provide me with the command of fundamentals necessary to win the fight, while my “Home Team” (all of you) have provided me with the love, strength and support needed to manage those difficult times encountered along the way. Sometimes, the struggle during and after treatments put my mindset in a dark place, and left me looking for hope along the way. I always had the memory of the Japanese Team in 1984 in the back of my mind. Having been beaten by Team USA in six previous meetings, they were looking for hope in order to advance to the gold medal round. It taught me that competitive and successful people/teams can outlive their toughest days, and that failure is always part of growing, but that it cannot be a final destination!
I've often wished I had never heard the words, “You have cancer.” They are hope-sucking words. Each time the doctor has spoken them, I’ve felt God whisper into the dark corners of my heart time-and-again: “Just trust me.” It brings to mind a verse that I have relied on when hearing those whispers…
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
I don’t think anyone likes hearing the phrase, “Just trust me.” But sometimes that is just what God requires of us. Often when I’m worried about what is going to happen next, or when I’m stressed out over what the doctors results might say, or when I feel like I have no hope because I can’t see my dreams ever being reality, that’s when I hear those whispers, quiet and firm, “Just trust me.”
A life lesson I’ve learned since my cancer diagnosis on my 55th birthday is that when the rest of the world is saying there’s no hope; Jesus is standing there saying, “They’re wrong.” When everyone else is questioning if Jesus really cares about the hard things we’re going through, I listen for his voice declaring, “Don’t listen to them; just trust me.” I’ve also learned that the “dark days” will give way to days of laughter, days where the side effects of treatment will lessen, and gratitude will pour from my mouth because God has helped me through this ordeal. I am also learning that each of our individual stories were written by God to help restore hope in others.
If you may be facing a situation and are seeking hope, no matter your situation, I know that God is waiting to hear from you and to give you unlimited hope and faith! I’m confident He will be there for you, whispering as a reminder, “I am your hope.”
May you truly enjoy the rest of your summer and wishing God’s 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, visit the Reflections from the Home Team website at: