“Circumstances do not make the man or woman, they merely reveal them.” — Brian Tracy
“Life is like an apple– what you do with the core when it’s all said and done speaks volumes.” — Doug Firebaugh
“Don’t give up at half time. Concentrate on winning the second half.”
— Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant
“We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.” — Abigail Adams
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” — John C. Maxwell
I used to think of God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to
know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there, sort of like a president. I
recognized His picture when I saw it, but I didn’t really know Him.
But later on when I met Christ, it seemed as though life were rather like a bike, but it was a
tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal. I don’t know just when it
was He suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since I took the back seat to
Jesus, My Lord. Christ makes life exciting. When I had control, I thought I knew the way, but it
was rather boring, but predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points.
But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky
places and at breakneck speeds; it was all I could do to hang on; Even though it often looked like
madness, He said “Pedal!” I was worried and anxious and asked, “Where are you taking me?”
He laughed and didn’t answer, and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered
the adventure. And when I’d say, “I’m scared”, He’d lean back and touch my hand.
He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me
their gifts to take on my journey, our journey, my Lord’s and mine. And we were off again. He
said, “Give the gifts away; they’re extra baggage, too much weight.” So I did, to the people we
met, and I found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light.
I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He’d wreck it, but He knows bike
secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, jump to clear high rocks, fly to shorten
scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I’m beginning
to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant Companion.
And when I’m sure I just can’t do any more, He just smiles and says …”Pedal.”
— Author Unknown
|“Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.” — Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant|
It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.
It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it, overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma, the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.
Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.
Our son, Kevin, who was 12 that year was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended, and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church.
These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in the spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.
As the match began I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.
Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids, all kids, and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse.
That’s when the idea of his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.
On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.
For each Christmas, I followed the tradition, one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.
The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.
As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there.
You see we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more.
Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad.
The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope.
Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.
|“Picture in your mind a sense of personal destiny.” — Wayne Oates|