lightenload

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Archive for the month “March, 2014”

An Unusual Cab Ride!

The cab pulled into our driveway and I went out the front door to meet it.  I was eleven years old and dressed in my full baseball uniform.  My uniform was a baby blue with yellow lettering, stirrups, and a hat much like the yellow color of the cab.  This was the first time I had ever ridden in a cab.  Even the circumstances were unusual but very thoughtful.  You see my dad was working again.  He was on the swing shift and here I was without a ride to my game.  I had wanted to play Little League again after a year off because of the ride issue.  I think I talked dad into the fact that somehow I would get a ride when he couldn’t take me.  Usually that turned out to be the case but on this particular night no ride was available.  That is when my loving mom stepped in.  She knew how much I wanted to be at my game and the only way for her to get me there was the yellow cab now sitting in our driveway.


Growing up we were always playing some kind of ball games in our neighborhood.  It was so different than it is today.  Today everything is organized and grownups are involved.  We played games amongst ourselves and used our imaginations too!  We played Wiffleball a lot usually in someone’s backyard.  It was a two person game and it was only hitting, not running.  Each person would choose a professional team and each at bat you would call out who was batting.  For instance the Detroit Tigers were always chosen by one or the other.  When you announced a particular player now batting you tried your best to duplicate their batting stance.  The Tigers at that time had a player named Dick McAuliffe.  He had the most unusual batting stance maybe of all time.  He was a left handed batter but he had an extremely opened stance as he was turned completely facing the pitcher.  His bat was not back like most players positioned it.  His arms were stiff and the bat was extended way out away from his body.  Naturally he was the most fun player to mimic because it was so exaggerated that everyone knew who it was.  As unnatural as it seemed for McAuliffe it became natural.  Years later someone asked him why he used such an extreme stance?  “When I first went to the minor leagues”, McAuliffe stated “I was hitting everything to the left side.  The coach had me open up my stance to help me hit to all fields.”  With that extreme batting stance McAuliffe was very successful and played a number of very productive years!

Dick McAuliffe

The rules have changed countless times in the game of basketball over the years.  One thing that hasn’t changed however is the free throw.  The distance is still 15 feet from the basket and the player is shooting unopposed.  They call the line “the charity stripe”, but many playing the game are not good at taking charity.  Early on Rick Barry’s father knowing the importance of making free throws taught his son the underhand approach.  For years Barry was the only one in professional basketball shooting his free throws that way.  Barry recalled his first game of shooting free throws underhand at the high school level.  From the stands he heard a voice “hey Barry, you are shooting like a sissy!”  Another voice piped in from the man sitting next to the original.  “What are you complaining about?  He doesn’t miss!”  When Barry contemplated how unusual and weird his form was his father had words of wisdom.  “Nobody will make fun of you as long as you are making them!”  Barry was the best free throw shooter of his time in the NBA!  He shot 90% for his career!  He once made 60 free throws in a row!  Nobody laughs at how unusual Barry’s free throws looked.  They only marvel about his uncanny accuracy!

US PRESSWIRE Sports

I think as Christians we can fall in love with traditions and the way things are “supposed” to be.  God made us all different with different talents and abilities so it doesn’t make sense that everyone’s ministry would look the same.  Dick McAuliffe’s unusual batting stance ended up not so unusual at all.  You see McAuliffe’s stance changed as the pitch was coming and he was striding into the ball.  His bat came back into more of a typical position and his weight shifted much like the technique all successful hitters employ.  The difference was not in the fundamentals but how he got there.  Maybe someone is doing something different in their ministry to attract people for God.  The bottom line should always be “Do they preach the fundamentals of the virgin birth, resurrection, and saved by grace?  If the answer is yes then it is just a matter of the fisherman using the proper lure to attract certain types of fish!

I got into the cab and we were off for the field.  My mom gave me enough money to cover the cab fare I hoped, but sitting in the backseat I noticed that the meter ran pretty fast.  I had a plan in my head for when we got to the field.  As an eleven year old I was very sensitive to what people thought about me.  I was concerned that if they saw me getting out of the cab they would have fun with it at my expense.  I thought if he just drops me off at the beginning of the entrance I could walk up to the field undetected.  As we pulled in I said “This is fine”, but the cab driver kept going.  He drove right up in front of the field and dropped me off.  Unfortunately it was right in the middle of my team and everyone’s head turned.  The cab stopped and I paid the driver and made my exit.  There was stirring from my team and one teammate in particular kept asking “How was the ride?”  It was the attention that I didn’t want.  As an eleven year old kid I just wanted to blend in and now I was standing out.

Even though there were grownups there too such as my coach and the other parents it was only the kids on my team that gave me a hard time.  The more mature people knew that the important thing was that I was there, not how I got there.  It’s the same way with your ministry if it is unusual in any way.  It’s not going to be the mature Christians who ridicule you, it will be the ones that don’t understand that God works in many different ways!  Rick Barry did not look like everyone else as he shot those free throws, but he shot an amazing percentage!

As an eleven year old the question “How was the ride?” almost was too much to bare.  If only I had the experience and wisdom that I have now!  I would say “You mean you rode with your parents? How boring is that?”  “You missed something special..That cab had massaging heated seats and a place to soak my tired feet.”  OK I might not have turned it around quite that much but you get the idea.  They would have admired me for withstanding their ridicule much like I admire to this day people who step out in faith and do something special and unusual for God’s glory!

Fight On!

David Brown had the ball in his hands.  The shot clock was winding down and he was way back behind the three point line.  The game was down to it’s last 35 seconds. It was in overtime and Western Michigan Brown’s team was up by two points.  This was the semi-final game of the MAC Tournament.  The winner would earn the right to play in the championship game.  Brown and his teammates had a dismal first half scoring just 17 points.  Brown Western’s leading scorer had only one basket in seven attempts.  His shot just seemed to be off the whole half.  Akron on the other hand couldn’t seem to miss and had a 34-17 lead.  Hope among the fans was dwindling as the Broncos took the floor for the second half.  In the second half the Broncos seemed to be playing with renewed energy, but every time they made a run Akron had an answer.  With around eight minutes left the unexpected started to happen.  It started slowly at first but that 17 point lead started to lessen.  They got it down to 11, then 9 and all of the sudden the Broncos had the lead!  Western had scored 18 straight points! Amazingly David Brown didn’t score any of the points in that stretch.  It was like the team was picking up their leading scorer and saying “don’t worry David, we got this!” They were picking up a fallen teammate much like their military training session before the season told them to do!  Coach Steve Hawkins had talked about overcoming Akron’s big lead at half time.  One possession at a time had been his motto the whole year.  Or as he so aptly put it “next possession.”  It means that the past is over and the present is what we need to concentrate on.  The goal was to keep chipping away and get back in the game.  Somehow Akron fought back and tied the game and sent it into overtime.

Coach Hawkins ends his interviews these days by saying the words “Fight On!”  These are words that one of his star players David Brown has been doing for the last four years!  Brown who has been in the program for five years now missed most of two.  After going almost injury free in his freshman season, he played the first nine games as a sophomore before a  severely sprained ankle forced him to take a medical red shirt for the remainder of the season.  He had high hopes coming into the next season as his ankle was healed.  Watching the teams tenth game from the stands I remember Brown landing funny underneath the basket and stretched out wreathing in pain.  At first there was hope that his right knee that was damaged was a sprain or a slight tear.  Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.  I happened to be by the locker room door after a game.  Brown saw and recognized me as a familiar face.  I didn’t expect it but he gave me a hug and told me he was out for the season.  He said that he tore his ACL.  He wasn’t in tears but I could tell he was pretty shook up.

Before I saw Brown he had a little time to gather himself.   When he first found out the news he  recalled his initial shock.  “It was the worst feeling of my life”, he told the press.  “I felt weak.”  Just as heartbreaking for him was calling his mother and hearing her cry on the other end.  Devastated after yet another year missed Brown had surgery to repair his knee.  After that it was continuous rehabbing.  By his side was his mother who was his inspiration, friend, and counselor.  “If it wasn’t for her I never would be back here.”, Brown said recently.

The next basketball season Brown wasn’t quite ready.  It wasn’t until January that he played his first game.  Coach Hawkins decided that Brown could help the team best as a 6th man off of the bench.  Brown flourished in that role and for once he got through the season intact.  Brown was named the 6th man of the year in the Mid American Conference!  The team had a good year and won two games in the CBI post season basketball tournament!

Although Brown was very successful as a 6th man he wanted to have a bigger role on the team his senior year.  Before the season a group specializing in “Military Training” was hired to help the Bronco’s!  Their theme was the “Fight On” motto that the team adopted.  The training tools were odd and unique.  They carried 50 pound sand bags, ran carrying a teammate on their backs, and took a sweat shirt off while in deep water among other things.  The director stated that if you were not a strong swimmer it didn’t matter.  A teammate would be there for them.  If they were a strong swimmer it didn’t matter.  They were a basketball team, not a swimming team.  The whole idea of “The Program”, as it was called was to toughen up the team by putting them through adversities and having them work together to overcome them.  It was an exercise in toughness and something to get the rest of the team up to David Brown’s toughness level.

Military training for the Broncos Fight On!

Military training for the Broncos Fight On!

In a marathon season there are bound to be up times and down times.  The Bronco’s season was no exception.  They were only picked before the season to finish 3rd in their division but they overcame all odds and tied for first.  Late in the season they played Toledo and a win at Toledo would have almost guaranteed an outright division title.  The Broncos led the whole game and were up by 12 with three minutes to go when the wheels came off.  Toledo put on a full court press and the befuddled Broncos did everything wrong.  If they weren’t throwing the ball out of bounds they were traveling.  One time one of their players couldn’t find anyone to throw his pass to from out of bounds.  After a long search he spotted a teammate under the basket for a sure score.  Before he could pass the ball the referee’s whistle blew.  It was a 5 second call and another lost possession.  With each Bronco mistake came a Toledo score.  Before they knew what hit them Toledo had tied the game and actually went ahead.  Only two free throws by the Broncos sent the game into overtime.  Unfortunately Toledo’s momentum took over in the overtime session and they won the battle.  Western was heartbroken to come so close and Coach Hawkins was disheartened but reiterated that “there was no time to hang our heads” when he talked on the post game show.

The regular season ended with the Broncos tied with Toledo as they shared the division championship.  Western would only have to play two games at most in the conference tournament.  The first one was against Akron.  On the way to the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland adversity showed it’s ugly head again.  A major accident occurred on an Ohio Turnpike making their 4 hour trip an 11 hour affair.  It can’t be easy for tall players to be scrunched in a bus for 11 hours but that was the Bronco’s fate and another obstacle to overcome.

David Brown

So the clock is ticking down and with around 35 seconds left way behind the 3 point line David Brown jumped up and lets the shot go.  The ball was rotating beautifully as it does when the shooting form is good.  End over end in a nice back spin toward the basket.  Instead of dropping in the basket though his shot kept going and hit the backboard.  In a split second it caromed into the basket!  Anyone who ever has shot a basketball knew that Brown was not aiming at the backboard.  The old saying goes “he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.”  Apparently he connected with a piece of the barn this time which was the backboard!  After he made the shot Brown had his palms up in the air and seemed to look up.  He later said it was a blessing from above!  Akron never recovered from that shot! Brown scored all of Western’s 9 points in the overtime period.  It was like “thank you teammates for holding me up, I got this now!”  Shortly afterward the game ended in a 64-60 victory!

I was blessed!

I was blessed!

The title game was against Western’s old nemesis Toledo.  Western took a small lead but Toledo battled back to trail by only 2 at halftime.  In the second half Western started to pull away.  David Brown was a scoring machine with 5 clutch 3 point shots!  He had 32 points.  With about 3 minutes left Toledo was down double digits.  On the pregame show Coach Hawkins said that they had practiced their full court press offense.  “If that situation comes up again I think we will be ready!”  Ready they were as the Bronco’s repeatedly broke Toledo’s press for easy baskets!  With less than a minute to go and the outcome no longer in doubt Coach Hawkins emptied his bench and let some of the players who didn’t play much get some action!  Hugging each other on the sidelines was the Western starting unit who had overcome adversity and made their fans proud! In the middle of that group was David Brown who had overcome the most of all!

Western Michigan Broncos head coach Steve Hawkins celebrates with his team after winning the championship game for the MAC college basketball tournament at Quicken Loans Arena. The Broncos won 98-77.

At the awards presentation there was nobody happier than Brown.  He had been voted the most valuable player of the tournament!  I’m sure he was thinking of all of the trials he had been through that made this moment extra sweet! He had the championship trophy in his hands and he was hugging it like it meant everything.  In that moment to David Brown it did!  I watched Brown sing the fight song along with all of the others.  While his teammates seemed to know all of the words David just knew the beginning “Fight on fight on for Western!”  I suppose that is because those words exemplified what he was doing the last four years.  There are many who don’t give Western Michigan a chance in their upcoming battle with Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament.  “It would take a miracle”, many say.  Perhaps it will be one more miracle in the David Brown and Western Michigan story!   It’s true that we over rate athletics in our society.  However I believe that we can learn valuable lessons from sports.  Sometimes in life we feel beaten down.  We feel that we can’t go on. This story shows that with faith, hope, and love all things are possible.  If you don’t believe it just ask David Brown!   FIGHT ON!

Brown and Coach Hawkins...We did it!

Brown and Coach Hawkins…We did it!

Doug’s Song!

I didn’t even know who sang the song until I looked it up for this story.  The song is called “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul but I have renamed it.  You see we listen to the oldies station at work where they play hits from the 70’s and 80’s.  This was a big hit in the 80’s and those were the years that I knew Doug.  When I hear that song, which I do every day, because the station has a very limited selection of songs it plays, I think of Doug.  In fact to me it isn’t “Straight Up” it is Doug’s Song!”

Over the years working in my positions at the University I have become acquainted with numerous students.  Usually students are hired either through work-study programs or from out of the departments budget.  It’s a nice thing for a student to have a job that is close and convenient and they offer helpful hands to do the busy monotonous work that is hard for us to find time for.  By far the most memorable student I ever met was Doug.  Doug was hired in our Accounts Receivable office to handle the little things like all students were.  Doug was different than any student I have met before or since.  He was studying Finance which wasn’t that unusual.  His dad was the president of a bank which happens.  Doug though had such a dynamic personality that he made us laugh every day we saw him!  I always looked forward to Doug coming in because he cracked me up with his crazy fun ideas.  For example: he really admired my ability to relate to students and help them understand their accounts.  He came up with a name for me “The Doctor of Finance!”   Doug talked about a video he wanted to do sometime.  It would have had the big hit of the day “Bad Case Of Loving You” sang by Robert Palmer in the background.  That song had the lyrics “Doctor doctor give me the news, I got a bad case of loving you.”  Doug pictured me dressed in the whole doctors uniform like I was ready to perform surgery.  At the appropriate time between the main lyrics he pictured me having my own part as I danced around singing that I was the doctor of finance.  I was to emphasize in my little song how the students could come to me and I would perform the operation that would save them financially!  It was all fun and I played along with Doug about the possibilities of his dream production becoming a reality.

Doctor Doctor Give Me The News!

Doctor Doctor Give Me The News!

One of the ladies that had the position of keeping track of students that were moving into the dorms from the financial side of it had to go on maternity leave.  Instead of hiring a temporary person for the position Doug was placed in her spot.  In all of my years at the University I have never seen a student doing a full time workers job except in Doug’s case!  Usually Judy who had the position did her job in silence.  She talked to the appropriate people in the housing area and got everything straight.  With Doug doing the job it was entertainment at it’s best! I remember he had one person that he couldn’t get placed right.  We were billing this person but he couldn’t get it straight which dorm room they were in.  He went around and around with it and we could only laugh as the whole episode was so entertaining to him and us too.  Finally after going around in circles with everyone it seemed and giving us updates on the details in his excited way he got the person placed right.  I can’t even describe the suspense he created through the whole episode, it was priceless!  Eventually Judy came back to her job and Doug returned to being a student worker again.  The time that he was doing that job was some of the most suspenseful, funny, and entertaining times I have experienced.  His whole outlook on life was so upbeat that he uplifted everyone that he came into contact with!

Every day Doug said or did something that just cracked me up!  He shared everything that was going on in his life and he was so outgoing!  Doug had a magnetic personality and he was a hard worker.  His goal was to become a president of a bank like his father.  Anyone could see that with his charisma he would eventually reach his goal.  He was always trying to look on the funny side of life.  To make me laugh one day he told me that he wanted to be a singer for just one song.  They were playing that “Straight Up” song on the radio and he told me his part was coming up.  They sang the part “Straight up now tell me do you really want to love me forever OH OH OH.”  Doug wanted to do that “OH OH OH” part!

OK, so as I would do with Doug sometimes let’s play along with his “dream job.”  If Doug somehow miraculously got the job of singing the Oh, Oh, Oh’s his name would appear right on the album along with everyone else who had big parts in the song.  He would get royalties from me hearing the song every day!  After all he would have been part of the group right?  So Doug would have been paid each time the song played all of these years for basically doing nothing.  I didn’t mention that Doug had kind of a gravelly voice and I don’t think he sang well.  Of course that wouldn’t matter because it would be hardly noticed with his limited part.

Maybe it is a dream to have a job that you don’t do anything but get paid handsomely.  After all most of these high paying jobs require long hours where you can’t enjoy your success.  Wouldn’t it be nice to get paid for very little time spent?  I joke sometimes to people when they ask me if I like my job?  I love my job I’ll tell them, but I’m still looking for that job where they just send the checks to my home without me having to come in!  That joke always gets a laugh as they invariably reply “Well if you find that job let me know!”

I guess that is the lure of the lottery.  By only investing a dollar you could become an instant millionaire!  I’m afraid that this kind of thinking has gotten into our Christian walk.  So many times we want to do things the easy way.  Maybe by name we want to be a Christian but when it comes to walking the walk we would rather take the easy path.  Doug became a vice president for a bank just like we all knew he would.  He got there with determination and hard work.  He was only joking about his dream job of singing.  Many times as Christians we are not joking.  We want to be sent the benefits without doing anything.  We want to win the war without going to battle.  We want to be the hero of the game from the bench. When you can’t tell the Christians from the Non-Christians something is wrong.  We no longer are the salt of the earth that Jesus talked about that separates us.  That fact alone should cause us to really  say OH OH OH, not as a quick way to riches, but to recognize our bad attitude and have God change us!

Trish, A Memory Maker!

I can still see the smile on her face in my mind!  She was at my desk telling me about the upcoming visit of Benson from Africa to her house.  She had been discussing the possibility with family and friends and was sharing their reactions.  It was well meaning comments that seemed to intrigue Trish!  Maybe the thinking was that Trish had not thought of safety first and the possibility of her stepping out in faith turning into a disaster.   “Do you mean that you are going to take in a complete stranger from another country into your house to be around your kids?”  She was telling me her answer as  a smile formed on her face along with a twinkle in her eyes!  “Yes!” was her reply to the questions of doubt!  I could tell that this was a position Trish liked to be in!  This wasn’t the first time she did the unexpected!  If she believed she was doing the right thing she listened to the concerns of others, but eventually did what she thought God wanted!  The smile on her face was a smile of  contentment and puzzlement.  I think she was proud of the fact that she was like she was!  The puzzlement part wasn’t about their reaction as much as her amazement of how once again she was defying logic!

This best captures the smile of amazement that she had!

Of course the safety concerns about Benson ended up a non factor just as Trish’s faith told her it would be.  Benson ended up being a blessing to her and her family and showed them a different way of seeing the world.  He brought to them an education that Trish relished because she was always looking for the behind the scenes view!  I remember her coming in tired one day and explaining to me that she had talked to Benson long into the night.  She gravitated to people who gave her a different perspective that she could embellish too!  For all of the good that Benson did once he was here, it was Trish who orchestrated the whole thing.  It was Trish who did not hesitate when she received the call asking if someone she knew could house Benson for a week.  “He can stay with us!” was her reply almost immediately and completely on her own.  Once Benson was here it was Trish that picked him up at the airport.  It was Trish that made the effort to get to know him and made Benson feel at home!  It was Trish that organized events where Benson could speak to different groups!  We saw Benson and his wonderful ministry up close as again Trish orchestrated a luncheon for our workplace.  Benson had a wonderful testimony but behind the scenes there was Trish making all of it possible!

Trish worked for quite awhile in our area before we got to know each other.  Usually we’d say hi in the hall or she would be bringing a gift in as part of her job.  She was a fund raiser at the University and I processed gifts.  Naturally we formed an acquaintance but that was all it was.  Then one day a little over two years ago all of that changed.  The subject happened to come up about the Christian poem book that I had written when Trish stopped by the office. Upon seeing the book Trish’s spirits picked up!  Although she never outwardly showed it Trish admitted that she was having a rough day.  I think performing the duties of her position could be an up and down roller coaster ride.  There was a lot of travel involved and she was feeling drained.  She talked some about her position before of fund raising for a church!  I could sense that although she liked a lot about her position at the University it really didn’t fulfill the big question in her life of “What am I supposed to be doing?”   She talked about her missionary trip to Africa and how fulfilling that was!  She told me that she would go back in a heartbeat!  I read her a poem from my book and she was all enthused!  Her wheels were spinning as to how she could help market my book!  She told me as she was leaving how our talk had made her day!  After that day we looked at each other differently.  Usually when we see people in their jobs we associate that person to the job that they are doing.  After that day we both saw the deeper person in each other who happened to be performing a job.

Trish had a heart for missions!

Trish had a heart for missions!

Trish was a deep thinker and that was something we had in common!  I think that as a writer you tend to see things in a different way.  Instead of hiding your emotions you express them in words.  If you really hit the mark you are describing things about an event or experience that nobody really thought about!  Getting people to think not only about the obvious but the other behind the scenes factors is my dream when I write!  Trish was a writer too!  She wrote down her experiences in the form of poems.  Her poems were not usually the rhyming kind.  Hers were more of the deep reflections that were working behind the scenes.  She wrote about experiences in a heartfelt personal feeling way!  It was like here is what you see, but this is what I am feeling as you see me!

As time went by I shared my website “lightenload” with Trish.  She enjoyed my stories as ten times she left comments!  Her comments almost always included some encouragement or thanks to me along with a message to myself and my other readers!  They were based on her experiences and how she saw the topic from her perspective!  Many times they were very deep and personal comments because Trish was a deep thinker!  One time I  wrote “What Are You Waiting For?” which was a story about anticipating Christmas as kids and how much time we wait for things in life, and how we shouldn’t wait to receive Christ.  Trish responded to this story by showing her true heart!  “I love this Lewis” she stated, “I was thinking about waiting in the grocery store the other day and anyone with fewer items than I had I would let them go in front of me.  I am the same way when it comes to traffic. There are certain things to be patient for and most certainly God opportunities extended to us to act upon.  Keep shining the light!”  Trish showed her sense of humor after a poem I shared called “The Devil Is A Liar”  She said “Amen my friend, He doesn’t come in a red pajama suit with horns and a pitch fork!  He is a bit smarter than that.  I love your posts and thank you.” When I wrote a story called “A candle In The Ice” about my family getting stranded in frigid temperatures for a whole night on a Georgia highway, Trish wrote “I wish I could have been driving then.  I would have picked them up.”  Knowing Trish and her sense for doing the right thing no matter what public opinion was there is no doubt in my mind that she would have!

Trish was a light in the darkness!

As someone who writes Trish realized how important encouragement was!  Her posts were always thoughtful and always had a little encouragement for me.  She knew how hard it is to put something out there.  She knew that when you put yourself on the line you are inviting trouble along with agreement!  Trish was a great supporter and inspired me with great compliments!  She commented after “Benson’s Lemonade” which was the story of her and Benson, “Thank you Lewis, for using your God given talent to share this story.  Beautifully written and true.”   Another time even though our positions are some of the lowest rated she said “I think you guys have the most important jobs of all of them!”  She was talking about my job and co-workers of processing gifts.  I joked the other day about what she said.  “She lied to us but it made us feel so good!”  Seriously though, I believe that Trish meant it!  She had a different way of looking at things and she saw value in the little things that others didn’t.

I played racquetball with Trish once.  I had convinced her that she should take advantage of the Rec Center the University provided and she was interested in learning to play racquetball.  Although Trish was a willing student she found that racquetball was a much more difficult sport than she had anticipated.  I taught her how to serve and she delighted in the fact that she could get her serves in!  We played a game we made up where we both worked as a team to see how many times we could hit the ball into the wall without it bouncing twice on the floor.  It turned out that I stayed in the back and got a good workout running down balls while every now and then Trish hit one.  Still Trish’s spirits were high and I heard her say in delight “I like this serving!”  I realize now the attribute that made her successful!  She had a knack of discovering what she could do and following through with that!  She realized that she was just one person and she couldn’t  do everything.  Yet, she knew she could make a difference in what she could do!  The glass was always half full in her eyes!

When I got to really know Trish I was  seeing more of a finished product.  Her triumphs and defeats that happened earlier and shaped who she was at that point were behind her.  Yet she lived for the moment and the day she was in.  Her outlook was on the future and not on past accomplishments.  When she decided to accept a position at another foundation I was shocked.  Yet when she took the time to explain her decision it made perfect sense that she would accept a new challenge.  After she was on the job for a little while she came back to visit.  “They don’t know anything about fund raising”, she said as that smile came on her face.  Maybe they were shocked at the crazy ideas she had for them and the changes she was instigating!

In the last few months Trish seemed to be in her glory!  She thrilled in her role and how she was making a difference!  She was delighted to play checkers, games, or cards with people that had nobody.  She was not happy when someone died that had become her friend but she relished the fact that she had gotten to know them!  I mentioned to her when I saw her a few months ago that she was doing now what was really her.  In true Trish fashion she said “I have no bad words to say about the University.  They were very good to me!”

A comment that she made about the story I wrote called “A Baseball Game and War” really showed an amazing side of Trish!  The story was a deeply emotional one for me about a morning at my cousins and his 18 year old brother wondering if he would be drafted to fight in Vietnam.  Trish wrote a beautiful piece about her father and his experiences there.  It was so pointed and so deep as she shared his attitudes and how they were developed.  How he had buried his friends after explosions and the psychological effects that it had on him.  At the end Trish said something that was very profound and presented the deep thinker that she was!  “I don’t see the world like he does, but I didn’t experience the things that he did.”  Amazingly Trish knew that we all are affected by our experiences and that hers were of a world of hope and love.  Yet she understood that her father had experiences that shaped his view and neither views were wrong.

Most people will look at Trish’s life and say that forty three years was way too young for her to go.  That is the natural human way of looking at death and I understand it completely.  A friend made a very pointed statement to me one time that is so true.  “Lew, we aren’t going to get out of here alive.”  My pastor years ago stated another truth “the moment we start breathing we are starting to die.”  God gives each of us a time here and whatever time he gives it is up to us to make the most out of it!  When Jesus told the parable of the master that left his wealth to his three servants while he was away for a long time the master gave all three different amounts.  In the end he expected each one to take their talents given and make an increase.  Trish in her time here certainly did all that she could do to make her Lord and Savior happy!

Trish made her friends laugh!

Trish made her friends laugh!

When I wrote a story called “A True Friend”, which described the difference between a true friend and a acquaintance friend Trish made this deep in thought comment: “Very well put, I have been through a season or two where the true friends supported me in ways beyond what I can express.  The blessings of a true friend is that we go through seasons and it is a reciprocal relationship.  Cool thing about Jesus, He’s always there no matter what you have done, no matter where you have been, he will take you home and he loves you.   Well it seems that Jesus has taken Trish home just like she said he would.  There are some people that you meet in life that are memorable and some that you forget.  Trish is near the top of that memorable list!  She embraced life with everything that she had!  For her taking a chance was not taking a chance as long as she knew God was leading her!  She was a deep thinker who I will miss greatly for her encouragement and support!  Frozen forever in my mind is the smile on her face that revealed everything that she was feeling behind the scenes!

Epilogue

This was a poem Trish wrote and asked me to review in early January.  For anyone reading my Leaving A Record Behind story where I talked about almost drowning in a swimming pool it seems I would be the last one to know the experience she talked about.  However the depth of her deep thoughts were so unique!  Trish was a beautiful deep person who touched thousands in a wonderful way!

living water

Surface:

I remember you…
The touch of your
Eyes, body, hands, and soul
I knew the light I saw and felt around you
You knew intuitively my affection for water
The way that I could submerge
And I knew you would never make me surface while I explored
You trusted that I knew the water
You believed I knew when to dive, ride waves, and surface
I trusted my inner world was no threat to you
I often watched you while under water
Looking through the ripples on the surface
What an amazing journey
Somewhere in me, I knew you’d jump in to save me
But I didn’t need saving
It was a magical water dance
I wish all could experience
The dance continues on
Temperatures change
Tides rise and fall
Waves come and there are hidden undertows
But knowing I have you my friend, I will surface
The water dance continues on.

Trish 12/23/2013

What’s In A Name?

There is a race car driver from Great Britain with the same name as mine!  If I Google my name I find that the first few pages are all about him!  Obviously I do not get priority because I was here first.  In the entertainment world they say to go and make a name for yourself!  He has accomplished that feat even with a used name!  We see that type of thing all of the time.  How often are you trying to find someone by name and have to weed through all of the same names to find the one you are looking for? Lewis Hamilton                                                      Lewis Hamilton (The Famous One)

I have been called three names in my lifetime.  Of course I have been called countless other names but we are talking about forms of my original name.  Lewis, Lew, and Lewie are the names I am referring to.  Each name has a distinct group of people that use it.  For instance as a kid everyone called me Lewie especially in our neighborhood.  It is the more affectionate name it seems.  Through the years playing softball and other activities people have called me Lew, and finally at work people have always called me the more proper name of Lewis.  This distinction of what people call me works well especially when someone calls my name out of the blue.  You know the instances where you are at the mall or in a store and all of the sudden someone is calling your name?  You look at the person and of course you don’t really recognize them.  Perhaps their face does look familiar but their name is not coming to you.  In these cases I use my little name game.  They called me Lewis, it has to be someone from work!  Since there are hundreds of people who work where I do that doesn’t solve my recognition problem, but at least it gives me a start!  The same goes if they called me Lewie or Lew.  Sometimes this little name trick helps keep me out of embarrassing situations of not being able to place someone.

From the moment we arrive on this earth we are given a name.  That little decision by our parents on what to name us stays with us through life in most cases.  Usually whatever name they gave us we learn to live with and actually like it.  If by chance we happen to become famous names are subject to change.  There are so many name changes of famous people that I will just give a few examples.  Did you know that John Wayne was originally Marion Morrison? How about Elton John’s birth name of Reginald Kenneth Dwight?  Listed below are a few more!

David Bowie…………..David Robert Jones

Whoopie Goldberg..   Caryn Elaine Johnson

George Burns…………  Nathan Birnbaum

Cary Grant……………   .Archibald Leach

Mark Twain……………  Samuel Langhorn Clemens

Judy Garland.………… Francis Ethel Gumm

Bob Dylan…………….. . Robert Allen Zimmerman

Carmen Electra……….Tara Patrick

Woodie Allen………….Allen Konigsberg

Rodney Dangerfield..Jacob Rodney Cohen cary-grant-320                Carey Grant and his daughter Jennifer Grant…not Archibald Leach

The list above are just a few examples of the hundreds of names that were changed to more entertainment Hollywood friendly names. Maybe these people were talented enough to make it big with their given names but in our minds the famous line “Judy, Judy, Judy”, which I heard he never said, would not be copied by comedians to imitate Archibald Leach. Would Francis Ethel Gumm have become famous for her song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow?” Maybe Jacob Rodney Cohen would get even less respect than Rodney Dangerfield!

There is a website called babynamewizard.com which when you put a first name in tells how popular the name is today.  It also states how popular the name was in years past.  It is interesting how names have changed through the years.  Usually names run in cycles with some names just as popular as in years past and some names hardly used today.  Other names that we see so popularized today were hardly used years ago.  It is fascinating to see how names people give their babies have changed through the years and how naming a child can become a copy cat type of thing.  For example the name “Alice” peaked in the 1880’s and has been declining until recently ever since.  The name “Megan” was most popular in the 70’s and 80’s and hit a steep decline in the late 90’s to the present. There is one name that never changes in importance or meaning! The name of Jesus has been exalted over all names!  Philippians chapter 2 verses 8-11 explains why. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place     and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The names of people change like the wind. The challenge for us today is  having our lives represent holiness.   You see it isn’t important what our name is.  We have no control over that.  Our challenge is to live our life Christ like so that people will see a difference.  Only through him can we become that person whose name represents something greater!  When people speak or think of us and see our face and name, what do they think about?  Is it a caring person who loves them?  Is our name synonymous with good, loving, caring, and kind?  Only through God’s grace are we saved and only through his love can our name bring thoughts of God’s loving traits to others!

It is always nice when you reserve a hotel room and upon your arrival they have your name and room ready!  One day the Lambs Book Of Life will be opened.  At that time it won’t matter if you were rich or poor, sickly or healthy, tall or short, handsome or ugly.  It won’t matter if you were in a hall of fame or lived down the hall.  Your name and all of the accolades that is associated with it on earth will not matter.  The only thing that will matter is if you are in that book!  Jesus has prepared a place for us!  All he asks is that we make our reservation so that when the book is opened our name will be there!  I don’t know if God will use our names as we were known here on earth or a name he gives us!  The most important thing is that it is us and that our name is remembered and our room is waiting!

lambs_book_1

God’s Hall of Fame
by Walt Huntley

Your name may not appear down here
In this world’s Hall of Fame
In fact, you may be so unknown
That no one knows your name;

The oscars and the praise of men
May never come your way,
But don’t forget God has rewards
That He’ll hand out someday,

This Hall of Fame is only good
As long as time shall be;
But keep in mind, God’s Hall of Fame
Is for eternity;

To Have your name inscribed up there
Is greater more by far
Than all the fame and all the praise
Of ev’ry man-made star.

This crowd on earth they soon forget
When you’re not at the top,
They’ll cheer like mad until you fall
And then their praise will stop;
Not God, He never does forget,
And in His Hall of Fame,
By just believing on His son,
Forever- there’s your name.

I tell you, friend, I wouldn’t trade
My name, however small,
That’s written there beyond the stars
In that celestial Hall,
For all the famous names on earth,
Or glory that they share;
I’d rather be an unknown here,
And have my name up there.

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