Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Footgolf and when it seems you're way over par

This, my friends, is a footgolf course.

And this is my son about to whack the ball.

And this is a selfie of me also playing footgolf.

That’s right. It’s blank.

That’s because the temperature was near 100 degrees. You could ring water out of my shirt, my make-up had melted onto my shoes, and my hair gave the illusion that I may have been electrocuted.

Not pretty.

We’ll get back to that word precision a little later.

Wikipedia goes on to explain that footgolf is, “played the same way as golf, except players use a football (soccer ball) instead of a golf ball, and the ball is kicked rather than struck with a club, working towards a 21-inch "cup" in place of the usual golf hole.”

The way I wound up playing footgolf is my lifelong soccer-playing son found out about the course when we were vacationing last year and now our family plays any time we’re in the area.

What I do for my son.

Back to precision. So, as you might guess, the scoring is done in much the same way as regular golf. There’s a par for each hole and lowest total score wins. When the pictures above were taken at around the seventh hole, the par for the course was about 32.

I had a score of 60. Yes, you read that right. I was 28 over par.

And I thought that was good. You see my son would kick the ball, and it would take me three shots to equal his one.

I’ve been going to physical therapy for a back condition. I can’t wait to hear what the therapist has to say this week.

I didn’t take a picture of Jerry either. He wasn’t doing much better than I was with one replaced knee and the other knee needing work, too.

Again, what we do for our son.

An experience like this reminds me that if I am willing to embarrass myself like this for my kid, how much more God out of His great love for us has moved and continues to move on our behalf.

“. . . immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah” (Ephesians 2:4-5 The Message).

My morning of perspiration and humiliation was a big nothing compared to the lengths God goes to for his children.

Good to remember on days when it seems like we’re 28 over par and no way we’re going to win this game. No matter what, your heavenly Father has already gone to the greatest lengths possible to express his love for you.

Golf among young people is declining and hundreds of courses are closing every year. Over the past few years, Footgolf has helped save many courses that are struggling.

Well, all I have to say about that is footgolf may be saving golf courses, but I’m praying it doesn't do me in.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The creative allée

I'm deep in another book project right now and reached into the One Ringing Bell archives for this piece which I hope will help someone along in their creative journey.
The French call this an allée. Merriam Webster says it is a “walkway lined with trees or small shrubs.”
I’d love to be back at this low country location again, running the broad length of the path between tall watchful oaks as filtered sunlight sifts through wisps of moss. An allée draws one forward toward whatever lies beyond, usually a home.

Madeleine L‘Engle wrote in Walking on Water, her wonderful reflection on faith and art, that “the chief difference between the Christian and the secular artist—the purpose of the work, be it story or music or painting, is to further the coming of the kingdom, to make us aware of our status as children of God, and to turn our feet toward home.”

I can see us all lined up now across the ages, all who attempt to be God's conduits for whatever big or small talents we have, forming an allée to help the wanderer.  Maybe through writing, art, music, film, or photography. “This way,” we say, “run this way to home.”

So many through their work have done this for me:  of course, the writers of the Bible, and C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L‘Engle, and a gazillion other artists, writers, and musicians.

In whatever ways you create, think about how you may use your gifts to “further his kingdom,” so that others may put their hearts wholly in the hands of the Father, and find their feet firmly on the path toward home.

Take your place in the creative allée.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

If you're suffering loss

I began reading this story about the same time last week when the details of tragic national events spilled into every news outlet one after another with no time for breath in between.

Honestly, I didn’t want to read this chronicle, because I believed it would be sad. And I was already sad. Sad from the realities of this old broken world, from the first anniversary of my dad’s death, and from a seeming brigade of hard life events his death has recalled.


But I opened my e book reader because I know several of their family members, and though much of the story I’d heard reported real time as it unfolded, I didn’t want to face the relatives without having read this account of the jagged journey they’d lived through in these past years.

What I found? Yes, it was sad. I can’t distance myself from the incredible pain these folks suffered and are in many ways still suffering.

But much greater than the sadness, what I was left with when I finished their story was its essence embodied in the book title itself, Hope Heals.

Katherine Wolfe and her husband Jay share her miraculous survival of a brain stem stroke only a few years ago when she was in her mid-twenties. She writes in the prologue, “My experience has caused me to redefine healing and to discover a hope that heals the most broken places: our souls.”
Their journey of healing helped me in ways I’m not even sure I can explain. Perhaps Jay touched on it when he wrote, “. . . in the breaking of precious things, something even more precious than we can imagine might be unleashed. Perhaps in the breaking, we can find the healing we long for.”

I believe we do.

I felt empowered in new ways after reading the book to face my own less profound yet persistent version of suffering.

My writer friend, Marion, says that when we suffer a loss, it opens up the other losses we haven’t fully grieved. I suppose that’s what I’ve been dealing with for the past year. In my early life I shoveled a lot under the rugs including childhood trauma, and I’ve been dealing with it as I could having had much prayer through the years, but losing Dad threw me into a new awareness of many other losses.

Grief itself involves wrestling with the permanent altering of expectations. We struggle. We fight. And if we’re open to the hope Katherine shares, we face it and somehow transcend the brokenness into a new kind of life. Not the life we had before. It’s gone. But a different life with possibilities never imagined.

That is what Katherine and Jay offer us through their sacrificial sharing from the grief-shattered land they’ve traversed. From this cracked and arid place, they offer us a drink of living water.  Yes, the “breaking of precious things,” but from it healing.

Joni Eareckson Tada says of this book, “. . . you now have a guide. . . Hope Heals may well be your most treasured companion through great trial and pain. . .”

David Platt, author of the New York Times bestseller Radical (and University of Georgia graduate, just had to get that in), says, “Jay and Katherine are a raw yet refreshing testimony to the unshakable trustworthiness of God amidst the unimaginable trials of life. This book reminds all of us where hope can be found in a world where none of us know what the next day holds.”

Just so you know, I have no sponsored links on this blog, so what I’m about to tell you, I will receive from it no financial remuneration.  If you are dealing with loss and suffering, go HERE and buy the Wolf’s book. Don’t hesitate, just do it.

So, now, since I’ve read the book, I can face the Wolf’s relatives, but so much more than that, reading it has better enabled me to face my own grief.

Thank you, Katherine and Jay.

“Passing through the Valley of Weeping (Baca), they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength (increasing in victorious power); each of them appears before God in Zion” (Psalm 84:6-7 Amplified).

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Fireworks, Fear, and Faith

A couple of years ago, we attended a Fourth of July celebration in an Atlanta neighborhood where our daughter was working for the evening. What we didn’t know is that our seats were just yards away from where the fireworks would be set off. And we had Lucy with us.

She’d never shown any reaction to fireworks before, but again, we’d never been that close.


When the pyrotechnics began, Lucy went into panic mode and shot out pulling Jerry over in his chair then proceeded to clear a path in her wake. I ran through the crowd after her fearing if she got lost, we might never find her in a strange place. Thankfully, a man seeing my situation stepped on her leash as she passed and stopped her.  By then, Jerry had caught up with us, and we couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Since then, fireworks really get Lucy going. And we’ve had a lot of fireworks this year.

So, for the past few nights, the Big Guy (Jerry)  sleeps with her beside him. She likes that. A lot.

It reminds me of Mason, the son of friends.  As a child, he had a hard time staying in his own bed and getting to sleep at night because of his fears.  One night, his dad put him back in his bed again and reminded him as he had many times before that God was with him.

The little fellow said, “I know, but I want somebody with skin on them.”

Don’t we all?

Don’t we just crave the presence of God in skin? Someone we can touch, hold, and lean against.

I know I do.

But then there’s this thing called faith, the “evidence of things not seen,” wrote a man who dealt with fears of his own.  The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians he was with them “. . . in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling” (I Corinthians 2:3).

But God told Paul in a vision one night, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10).

Whatever God has called us to do, he will equip us for it. We don’t have to be afraid. I’ve repeated those words to myself as I’ve stood before the locked doors of a prison gate before admitted to do ministry there, as a plane touched down in a faraway place on a mission trip, or as I’ve struggled for the words when praying for a seemingly impossible situation.

Yes, like Mason, we want someone with skin on them, and like Lucy, we want to climb up beside the Big Guy and feel him next to us.

But Jesus, God with skin on Him, told us around eighteen times in the New Testament not to fear. In all, “Fear Not,” appears 365 times in the Bible.

God calls us to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:70.)

Praying with you, friends that God would give us all we need to do just that.

By the way, Mason is now a pastor. I guess he worked through his fear issues. And Lucy, well, before New Year’s rolls around, I’m thinking we might be investing in one of those Thunder Vests for her. Definitely worth a try.

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