Archives For January 2011

The Circus Rollercoaster

January 28, 2011 — 8 Comments

A great friend from college called me this week.  We talk from time to time and he brought up how much life has changed since we lived in a house together in college.  We’ve each had difference paths with ups and downs.  He’s single and been trying to figure out his “vocation” at the moment.  I filled him in on how my wife and our two kids were doing.  Our family had recently been to the circus when it came through town.

If you haven’t been to the circus before then you should go just to see the amount of stressed out parents.  Yes, my wife and I were two of them.  Despite the chaos, it was so much fun. We smiled.  We laughed.  We ate snow cones out of animal-shaped cups.  We felt a little queasy.  The kids wanted to be held.  They ran in circles while we chased.  We were exhausted but what an unforgetable experience.

Our time at the circus reminded me of the film, Parenthood directed by Ron Howard and starred Steve Martin.  Pay close attention to this short exchange.

I think of that scene often because I relate so much to Steve Martin’s character.  I react. I freak out. I over-analyze.  I can be loud.  I blame others. I even run away like a Monty Python and the Holy Grail character.

In life we are not guaranteed perfection.  We strive to achieve some height we cannot attain here on earth.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013 photo credit

“Then he (Jesus) said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must first deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 (NIV)

I’ve always been challenged by Jesus’ calling for us in life because ultimately he does not promise us an easy life but one filled with many challenges.  Ultimately there is “hope” by following him even when I feel the emotions of the circus or a rollercoaster.

As I thought about the circus and watched the rollercoaster scene again, they have become reminders…

-To lighten up.

-To laugh more.

-Keep going back to the circus and ride a rollercoaster

-That ultimately in life we will be fine.

Life is a Circus-Rollercoaster. It feels cliché but it’s true.

Enjoy the ride.

This past week I’ve watched two fantastic films: The Social Network and The King’s Speech. Both are tremendous works of cinematic art.  Both were successful at the Golden Globes and most likely will do well at the Oscars.  Most importantly, they tackle some key issues that make the movies relatable and by all means fit in the “great” category.

The themes of these films are classic Shakespearian: Friendship, trust/betrayal, duty, love, insecurity, and courage.

As a man these themes came right out from the screen and hit me in the heart.

The Social Network is a breakdown of the things that can make men great.

The King’s Speech is a build up to those things that do.

They are equally important to learn from.

In life I’ve learned that every person is flawed.  It’s what one does to overcome it that matters.


Here is what I learned from these core themes:

Friendship. Find your Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush’s character).  He is the guy we all want to turn to in life.

Duty. Sometimes whether we don’t feel like we deserve to be in a certain position (or don’t want it), we must rise up to honor those before us.

Courage. Know that you can overcome anything with the help of others and the willingness to risk.  Stand up for what you believe in.  It’s not supposed to be easy.

Trust/Betrayal. Be aware of those around you.  We’ve all been betrayed.  It is human nature to a degree.  I’ve betrayed friends before unfortunately.  Ask forgiveness and forgive but learn. Trust can be earned back over time.

Insecurity. We don’t have it all together. No one does.  Be open about that and trust in God, in others who love you, and remember that you’re not alone.

Love. Need I say more.

If you haven’t seen these movies, please do.

I’m challenged by the deeper themes here.  What about you?

Imagine crashing in the ocean in a B-24.  You drift thousands of miles with two others for weeks. Sharks try to eat you.  You are strafed (shot at) by the enemy.  On top of that you are captured by the Japanese. Nonstop torture ensues for two years.  When the war ends in 1945 you are released and lose half your body weight due to being starved and beaten.

5 years later…

Read this scene after the person, Louie Zamperini, who endured what I described above revisits his POW camp in Japan.

“Before Louie left Sugamo (the prison), the colonel who was attending him asked Louie’s former guards to come forward.  In the back of the room, the prisoners stood up and shuffled into the aisle.  They moved hesitantly, looking up at Louie with small faces.

Louie was seized by childlike, giddy exuberance.  Before he realized what he was doing, he was bounding down the aisle.  In bewilderment, the men who had abused him watched him come to them, his hands extended, a radiant smile on his face.” – excerpted from Unbroken copyright 2010 by Laura Hillenbrand.

After I read this I couldn’t believe his reaction.

He shook hands with the enemy.

What Zamperini experienced was beyond what anyone should endure.  And what did he do?

He extended his hand.

He forgave.

Grace appeared and Jesus is revealed in his story.  Let us take notice. It is beautiful.

———

We have a lot to look forward to this year in 2014. I highly encourage you to read Unbroken but the feature film will be coming out this Christmas. You can watch the trailer here.

When I was 8 years old my family moved across town in Kansas City and found a lovely house that sat above the first hole of an executive (shortened) 9 hole golf course.  Like most kids that age, I was playing soccer, baseball, basketball, and tennis.  Later I even tried football. I was doing way too much but my parents were just trying to test out what I enjoyed and fit me best.  My grandparents that year bought me my first set of golf clubs to try out this new sport.  Thankfully we had a tremendous local junior golf program and I began that journey.

I was truly  hooked at 11 when I played my first golf tournament outside of that course.  It was the United Commercial Travelers Junior Golf Tournament qualifier for the state of Missouri.  It was a mere 9 hole qualifier and the night before the area received a lot of rain, which discouraged many players from even showing up.  The field ended up being about a dozen golfers qualifying to go to the national tournament in Victoria, British Columbia.  I can’t even remember what I scored that day but it was enough to earn the victory and get a free trip to Canada for the tournament.  My dad accompanied me on that memorable trip.

I remember thinking, “Wow, all golf tournaments must be like this.  Winning is pretty awesome.”

I remember not playing very well in Canada but what it did do was hook me into the game and so I began giving up other sports one by one.  The person who taught me golf told me I had to either quit baseball or golf, my swing would be mess unless I did so.  My summers became filled with traveling around Missouri and Kansas, playing in golf tournaments and spending endless hours practicing on the driving range and putting green.  Golf to me was perfect for my personality at the time.

Individual.

Me versus the course.

Me versus the others.

It thought it was perfect.

My college days playing for The University of Evansville

When high school came along I played on the school team.  For the first time in my life I was part of a team.  A golf team?  It is an individual sport, right?  If you have seen The Ryder Cup or The President’s Cup you usually witness a spirit among those players that is unlike any other time in their individual tournaments.  You will see high fives and cheers for each other in individual matches to succeed as well as select formats of two-man best ball and alternate shot.  In team golf there are still individual awards for lowest score but the most important prize goes to the team that wins.

I was hooked.

Throughout high school and eventually in college golf I was a moderate success on an individual basis.  There are 5-6 players that play in tournaments and I was usually the #3-#5 player.  I don’t recall any major wins individually but I do remember every big win our team made.  Even on a day I had a double-eagle in a high school tournament, what was more prominent is that our team, the Webster Groves High School “Statesmen” won that tournament and eventually went on to the state championship tournament. I was elected Captain of the team so it was my duty and pleasure to celebrate that feat. It felt amazing.

The 1997 Webster Groves HS “Statesmen” golf team

Life can be an individual journey. It is your life to live.  But you can’t live it alone and you surely cannot succeed without others.  Even professional golfers have a team of people with them to motivate, teach, and even just listen to them. Most of us in our jobs today work on an individual basis. That mentality is wrong. Look at any successful person in life and you’ll discover their teams.

I love the teams I’m a part of today: My team at work, my church St. Bartholomew, my men’s group, my close friends from Young Life, friends in Kansas City, St. Louis, Evansville, and Nashville, and I would be lost as can be without my family.

My last hole in my college golf was memorable for the most inglorious reason. I duck-hooked my drive into a lake and ended up with double-bogey. I remember being mad at myself because I felt like I let the team down.

I was blessed to graduate a semester early and later the team won a big tournament that spring. That is what I remember most. I’ll take the Ryder Cup competition any day.

Tell me about your teams.

 

 

The Meaning of a Year

January 3, 2011 — 2 Comments

1492

1776

1861

1918

1941

1963

1968

2001

These all were important and memorable years in American History.  We remember some of the above because of tragedy and some because of triumph.  In some of those years, there was both.

2011 marks an important year.  Some see it as a dreaded 10th anniversary of terror and tragedy.

For me I choose to remember 2001 differently.  2001 was the year I remember embracing adulthood and moving to work in Scotland.  I took risks.  I became a Young Life Leader.  I was robbed.  One of my best friends got married.  One of my other great friends and I went on an amazing golfing roadtrip through the southeast.  When I finally began a “real” job that year, It became evident that the world was changing faster than ever before for me.  Looking back, it was an special year with many ups and downs.

It is important to remember the experiences, appreciate the fruit and learn from our years.

Today in 2011, I am hopeful.  I will experience  the date 11/11/11, make new friends, and spend more time with family.  I am enthused about my job as this is the most exciting time in publishing since Gutenberg invented the printing press.  I am even convinced that there will be hardships and mistakes.

In the end, we will triumph.

PS  Have hope because according to Back to the Future Part II, in just 4 years we’re supposed to be flying around in our cars.  Good Lord, help me.  My daughters will be 16 in no time.