Saturday, January 11, 2020

Reflections from the Home Team - January 11, 2020

“I’m always a bit apprehensive going in for my checkups, might even say a bit fearful...  Over the years, I’ve discovered the antidote to fear is trust and I just need to remind myself it is only a thought away...”

Greetings from Cedar Falls,

I wanted to drop a note to share that I had my six-month checkup a week ago with my medical team in Iowa City. My cancer remains in remission and I am so appreciative of my medical team as well as with the results of that visit.  God has been very kind to me! I’m still working on strategies with my doctors to manage the treatment side-effects that continue and appear to be ongoing. Always a bit apprehensive going in for my checkups, might even say a bit fearful... As I sat in the waiting rooms this past week with a number of folks who are not in remission, my mind wandered to one of my treasured quotes from a baseball favorite of mine, Yogi Berra. Yogi, in all his wisdom shared “Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical”.

“Yogisms” are often amusing, but actually offer good insight about many of the life challenges we all face on our journeys in this world. Yogi’s thought certainly rang true with me this time around! Even though Yogi’s math may not be the best, this quote made me smile and helped me reflect on a few other thoughts as I waited to complete the multiple labs and exams at the Cancer Clinic. Please allow me to share a few of those thoughts with you in this reflection.

I recently read a piece by Kelly McGonigal titled “The Upside of Stress”.  In it she says that we all have our own personal Mt. Everest. Could be a particular challenge or task that we are facing in our personal lives. When someone climbs a personal Everest in their life journey, they generally know there are going to be some challenging times. They know there will be stress and fatigue and maybe even some pain along the way. So why do they do it? Probably because they want to reach the summit!

Can you imagine a climber scaling the wall of ice at Mt. Everest and saying, ‘This is such a hassle.’ Or spending the first night in the mountain’s death zone and thinking, ‘I don’t need this stress.’ It would be like an athlete complaining about their offseason workout program or Spring Training/training camp drills. Sorry, but they don’t let you skip that, or the long road trips, or extra-inning games and allow you to go right to playing in the World Series. And on and on it goes…

If we feel fatigue, pain, stress or experience some hassles as we go about our climbs, we need to remind ourselves of what our mission is as we continue the climb to our personal summit. Fits Yogi’s point that it may be mostly a “mental thing” although the physical components of stress, fatigue and pain certainly are a reality. I shared the importance of REST in my last reflection, and that is such a very important part of recovery, not only from the physical pangs we may experience, but also the emotional.

A reminder I often use for myself when dealing with the physical and emotional components of a cancer journey, or for that matter, any challenge is DON'T LOSE THE SNOOZE! Arguably the most important (and awesome!) recovery method is sleep. We all need more of it. If you just ended a relationship, had finals at school, or are struggling with the impact on your body from medical treatments, you’ll probably need more sleep to balance out the mental and emotional stress.  Yogi’s point is a simple one…What’s frequently overlooked in our “climbs to our individual summit” is our minds – more specifically our perceptions and beliefs. Those can have a huge impact on our stress levels.

Another thought that came to mind when contemplating Yogi’s quote was how we often use our individual strengths (physical and mental) to overcome our challenges. This brought to mind for me the story of Samson. Many are familiar with the story of Samson. You can read all about his life in Judges 13-16. God used Samson as a judge over Israel and he ruled as a judge for twenty years. When the Spirit of God would come upon Samson, he would be gifted with tremendous strength that would allow him to do great exploits for the Lord. Samson also had a weakness however, which was an affinity for beautiful women. It was this that led to his downfall. The scene plays out in Judges 16 which I encourage you to read. 
I think many of us, including myself, are very similar to Samson. We too have strengths. If we are not careful, we may lean too heavily upon them. This problem can further develop when you become really good at doing something… By the way there is nothing wrong with having strengths! Strengths are good. They only become a potential problem when you begin to trust your ability more than you depend on God’s ability to work through you. It’s like you are telling God, don’t worry, I got this one. I don’t need your help anymore. 
I think back to when I first became a Principal. Do you remember when you first started a new role in your career? You were probably a bit nervous like I was. Maybe you were a little unsure if you could do the job. Your inexperience or weakness caused you to depend on God to help you every step of the way. However, over time you got better and what was unfamiliar was now feeling very comfortable. You became so good at what you were doing that what you once considered an area of weakness, you now look at as an area of strength. Because you felt strong, you no longer felt the need to seek God’s help like you used to. When this happens the thing that is your greatest strength can become your greatest weakness, because you leave God out. In John 15:5 Jesus said “…apart from me you can do nothing.”

As we continue to grow regardless of our role – whether it be as a parent, spouse, worker, manager, church leader, pastor, cancer survivor or in whatever capacity you serve or work – we need to be  mindful that as we get better we still need to depend on God to help us. If he’s not helping, then we are operating on our own strength. When this happens, we may not realize it at first, but like Samson, God’s strength has left us, and we are actually becoming weaker.
The last thing I want to share is what I first described I felt when sitting in the waiting room in Iowa City. As I shared, I’m always a bit apprehensive going in for my checkups, might even say a bit fearful...  Over the years, I’ve discovered the antidote to fear is trust and I just need to remind myself it is only a thought away... No one is going to push me over the chasm of struggles with my cancer journey, but God will nudge me to first take the leap!  You have to make the jump in your mind and then with your actions. You must make the jump with trust, determination and faith that He is always there, just as He always has been. After all, they don't call it a leap of fear... They call it a "leap of faith" for a reason.
I guess I will always feel fear. Everyone will. But my trust must be bigger than my fear. The bigger my trust, the smaller my fear becomes. And the more I trust, the more I become a conduit for sharing my trust and faith in Him with others. 

I believe this New Year represents a fresh start for us all and it also presents a new opportunity to create some positive energy to spread to others. That's my plan moving forward!  I invite you to join me in that opportunity in the upcoming year. Thanks for being there as part of my Home Team, and most especially for the prayers!

Blessings to each of you in 2020!


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: