Archive for the ‘Life & Times’ Category

For those of us who experienced the 90’s, you probably remember this scene from the movie “City Slickers”. The premise behind the movie was basically that these men from NY had lost their identity, so they travel out west to a cattle ranch to sort of ‘find themselves’.  In one of the most pivotal scenes in the movie, Jack Palance’s character, “Curly” the trail boss, turns to one of the men & says, “Do you know what the secret to life is? It’s this.” (and he holds up 1 finger) “Just 1 thing.” The man says, “That’s great, but what is it?” To which Curly replied, “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.”

It’s a great question for all of us in light of a brand new year: What is your ONE THING?

As I was thinking about this, I made a note of every THING that intersects with my life in a typical week. Like most adults with kids, my schedule is pretty crowded:

  • Serve at church
  • Spend time w family
  • Get kids to school
  • Work
  • Pay bills
  • Get kids to practice
  • Physical Fitness/ Exercise
  • Social Media
  • Do stuff around the house
  • repeat

There are so many THINGS that occupy our time that if we’re not careful, we’ll allow the URGENT to replace the IMPORTANT. We’ll unintentionally CROWD OUT the most important things. We’ll get bogged down with the LITTLE things and fail to pursue our BIG dreams and GRAND adventures. Not because we don’t want to do them. They just get ‘lost’ amidst all the other things we’re doing.

Perhaps most striking: I noticed in my weekly schedule, I was doing almost nothing to realize the larger goals I had for myself. My ROUTINE wasn’t getting me any closer to my DREAMS.

This is where the book, ONE THING has been revolutionary for me. It helped me to look at my life as a series of goals I can set for myself. It coached me on how to break my large goals down into smaller steps I can take each day, each hour, etc. Here’s an example of some of the goals I have set this year:

My Personal Goals 2016

Now, I structure my week with the goal of simply ‘moving the ball forward’ in each category every day, no matter how small the progress. For example, if my goal is to save $ for a family trip to Disneyland, I may go without my morning latte and deposit that into my envelope designated for that event. Or, if it’s to run a half marathon by the end of the year, maybe I start by going on a walk around our neighborhood. In each case, I’m making progress. If I want to memorize a book of the Bible in a year, I start by memorizing two verses a month.

This gives me a sense of accomplishment each day. This gives me a series of “wins” in almost every category. It builds my confidence. It makes me happy. It gives me purpose. It is my MOTIVATION.

Even the apostle Paul knew the importance of ONE THING (singular focus) when he was writing to the church in Philippi:

Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

OK, I know it’s a ‘loose’ fit, but the point is that Paul wrote to the church in Philippi so that they would be reminded of their PURPOSE. So that they would not lose sight of their GOAL. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I’ve got the most important part of my equation figured out. All the rest of my life’s pursuits come second to following Jesus. Now, the rest is fun.

Just finished another post. Just chalked up another ‘win’. Hope this has been helpful. 

My hope for you this year is for you to find your ONE THING.

Among my most prized possessions is a picture that sits in my office. It hasn’t always been there. In fact, I’ve only had it on my shelf for a few weeks.  In that short amount of time, the visitors and staff who swing by will almost always ask, “Who is this?” or “What is this a picture of?” Inevitably, the comparison is made, “This looks like a scene from the Andy Griffith Show”.  Well, close. The Andy Griffith show stopped airing in 1968. This picture was actually taken in 1975. I was 4 years old.

FullSizeRender

It’s a picture of Dad taking me down to the fishin’ hole in Payson, AZ. It’s where I caught my first fish. It’s where we enjoyed some camping, rock collecting, hiking and exploring. We had campfires and smores and walked to natural springs of water where we drank straight from the stream.  There’s a lot of memories captured in that image. There’s a lot of emotions harnessed in that frame.

What’s most special to me about this picture, is that dad kept this in his office from 1975 to 2015–40 years!  I found it when we were cleaning out his workspace.  F-O-R-T-Y years?

I’d like to think it was dad’s way of remembering. I’d like to believe it was his way of unwinding. I would sometimes see him pondering while typing at his computer. He’d be facing his wall of shelves opposite his computer screen. I’d like to think he was looking at the picture. As if he was taking a mental break. As if the therapist was taking some therapy for himself. (he was our staff ‘counselor’) It was his way of being ‘out’ even while he was ‘in’.

My dad loved his job, but his greatest joy wasn’t in his WORK. It was in who he was OUTSIDE the office. He made great effort and took great joy in being a great husband, father, and grandfather. He recharged by continuously ‘reinventing’ himself through various interests over the years: photography, quad-riding, camping, hunting, astronomy, rocket building, shooting & reloading, etc. He even taught himself Spanish!  And…to top it all off…he even bought a boat two months before he passed away. To do more fishing!

As a transplant, dad always knew he was living on borrowed time. He was prepared to die. But he never waited for it. He was too busy living.

That’s how I want to live.  James S. Stewart said it best, “Let us live as people prepared to die, and die as people prepared to live.”

Since losing dad, I’ve found myself.  At least I’ve learned a little bit more about myself, what makes me tick & what matters most. I appreciate LIFE more. I value deeper RELATIONSHIPS. I seek out ADVENTURES and look for life’s STORIES to tell, no matter how big or small they are. I hoard MEMORIES and cherish RICH CONVERSATION. I know true FAITH is contagious. That most ‘ministry’ has nothing to do with what people see ‘on stage’.  I now trade QUANTITY for QUALITY. I’ve learned my FAMILY is my first MINISTRY and that being a pastor isn’t something you ever really ‘retire’ from.  And I’ve discovered that EVANGELISM isn’t something you DO. As a Christ follower, being an EVANGELIST is who you are.

And while I love my JOB, I understand my IDENTITY needs to be more about who I am OUTSIDE the office.

And speaking of the office, I now put more pictures of the kids on my shelves.  So they can remember. So they can discover. So they can find themselves.

I learned all of this…by finding dad.

 

dad and den

A Heart for Kids. This story is about my dad’s incredible journey as a heart recipient, but it starts here. My parents have always had a heart for children, but were unable to have them biologically. I was adopted from the foster care system on Dec. 17, 1971 in Phoenix, AZ.   When I was 6, they would later adopt my brother, Ted (5) and sister, Samantha (2).  We grew up in a great Christian household.  Going to church was a part of our everyday life and our parents modeled Jesus everyday. Around my freshman year of high school in 1986, my dad started getting lightheaded when he would go on walks. He was very active, was playing soccer and walking regularly.  He went in for a routine physical and they gave him a shock: He was diagnosed with cariomyopathy (a degenerative heart disease) and was told to “go home and get your affairs in order–you have 6 months to live”. Needless to say, we didn’t believe the doctors. After all, he was very active and didn’t seem any different.  However, we were soon proven wrong.  In the months that followed, his health deteriorated rapidly.

dad's ER pic

He would soon be admitted into the hospital and would begin a fight for his life.  At one point, he was kept alive by every machine known to man. He coded 3 times. He saw visions. He couldn’t talk because of all the tubes running in/out of his body. He could only write stuff on a small chalkboard.

The Chalkboard. He was only able to eat ice chips and write on a small chalkboard to communicate. I’ve only seen my dad cry twice in my life. This would be one of those times.  His situation was dire. His health waning.  He was uncomfortable. He was uncertain.  Yet whenever a nurse, doctor, or someone from the medical staff would enter the room, he would motion for his chalkboard.  Did he want the bed raised/lowered?  Did he need his pillow adjusted? Did he want more ice chips?  No.  He would simply write FOUR WORDS: “Do you know Jesus?” That’s a picture I’ll never forget.  A dying man at the end of his life, trying a make a difference in the lives of others for eternity.

Sick Enough to Die, but Well Enough to Live.  The brutal part about transplantation is that in order to “qualify” to be put on the National Organ Transplant List, you have to be sick enough to die (from your condition), but well enough to live (through the surgery). For many weeks, my dad was too sick to survive the surgery.  The outlook wasn’t good. His health was failing fast. As he slowly deteriorated, we called the elders of CCV to come pray for him.  They prayed over him and anointed him with oil.  Soon, his body started to respond. He began to improve. Finally, he was deemed “well enough” to be put on the transplant list.

Don’t Pray for Me to Live.  While he waited for a transplant, he refused to let us pray that he would live. Because he knew, “in order for me to live, someone has to die.” Instead, he encouraged us to pray for God’s will.  So, we did. And we waited. I think everyone should spend time in a transplant wing of a hospital at least once in their lifetime.  Every patient in that unit knows that they will die unless people know that time is imminent. Every other patient in his wing died while waiting for a transplant.

Total Teamwork.  While we waited for word, so many people from Christ’s Church of the Valley came to our aid.  My mom moved to Tucson and got an apartment. Staff, friends and family helped act as a shuttle service, babysitters, and just hanging out.  My grandparents moved into our house and stayed with us so we could continue to go to high school.  On the day we got the phone call, Don Wilson drove me from track practice to UMC just as my dad was being wheeled into surgery.

A New Heart. On February 8, 1988  my dad received a heart transplant. He received the heart of a 43 year old woman who passed away in Tucson.  He would correspond with the donor family a few years later.  The first few weeks were precarious. We waited to see if his body would reject the new organ. Many times, transplants die of early infection or rejection.  In fact, every time we went to see him, we had to “scrub down” for 15 minutes with iodine and step into a sanitized “bubble”.  It was like something out of NASA.

dad post transplant

But my dad “took” to his new heart just fine.  Soon, he was walking and riding a stationary bike.  Eventually, the tubes came out. He was breathing better and more effortlessly than he could remember.  His color was better.  He had more energy.  He couldn’t wait to go fishing.

I’ll be there.  While my dad was recovering in Tucson, we would go to high school in Phoenix, then go visit on the weekends.  I was still in track and running became my ‘escape’ from the craziness of life.  As a distance runner, I had flirted with the 5 minute mile a few times as a freshman.  Now as a sophomore, I could feel this was ‘my year’.  In one of our early track meets, as I rounded the turn on lap 1, there were my parents!  They “snuck out of town” to see my race!  I honestly can’t remember the rest of the race, but it was one of the first times I broke the 5 minute mile.

Still Running.  Since all this, my dad is still running. He will celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary this June. He has been able to enjoy seeing all his kids graduate from HS, get married and start families of their own.  He is a grandparent 12 times over. He has worked on staff at Christ’s Church of the Valley for 32 years, and through his life and ministry, he continues to ask people, “Do you know Jesus?”  I am proud to call him my father.  This one’s for you, dad!  Happy 26th Anniversary.

Philippians 3:12-14 says, “Not that I already have obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” 

bigstockphoto_kids_running_on_track_7819021

“THE RACE”

by Dr. D.H. “Dee” Groberg 

“Quit!” “Give up!”  “You’re beaten!” They sometimes shout and plead.

“There’s just too much against you now, this time you can’t succeed.

And as I start to hang my head in front of failure’s face,

My downward fall is broken by the memory of a race,

And hope refills my weakened will as I recall the scene,

For just the thought of that short race rejuvenates my being.

A children’s race – young boys, young men – how I remember well.

Excitement some, but also fear, it wasn’t heard to tell.

They all lined up, so full of hope, each thought to win the race,

Or tie for first, or if not that, at least get second place.

And fathers watch from all the sides, each cheering for his son.

And each boy hoped to show his dad that he would be the one.

The whistle blew and off they went, young hearts and hope afire.

To win, to be the hero that was each young boy’s desire.

And one boy in particular, his dad was in the crowd,

Was running near the lead and thought “my dad will be so proud!”

But as he speeded down the field across a shallow dip,

The little boy who thought to win, lost his step and slipped.

Trying hard to catch himself, his hands flew out to brace,

And mid the laughter of the crowd, he fell flat on his face.

So down he fell and with him hope, he couldn’t win it now;

Embarrassed, sad, he only wished to disappear somehow.

But as he fell, his dad stood up and showed his anxious face,

Which to his boy so clearly said, “Get up and win the race!”

He quickly rose, no damage done – behind a bit, that’s all,

And ran with all his might and sought to make up for his fall.

So anxious to restore himself, to catch up and to win,

His mind went faster than his legs, he slipped and fell again.

He wished that he had quit before with only one disgrace.

“I’m hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn’t try to race.”

But in the laughing crowd he searched and found his father’s face,

That steady look that said again, “Get up and win the race!”

So he jumped up to try again, ten yards behind the last.

“If I’m to gain these yards,” he thought, “I’ve got to run real fast.”

Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight or ten,

But tried so hard to reach the lead, he slipped and fell again.

Defeat! He lay there silently, a tear dropped from his eye,

“There’s no sense running any more, three strikes I’m out…why try?”

The will to rise has disappeared, all hope has fled away.

So far behind, so error prone, loser all the way.

“So what’s the use,” he thought, “I’ll live with the disgrace.”

But when he thought about his dad who soon he’d have to face,

“Get up” an echo sounded low. “Get up and take your place.

You were not meant for failure here, get up and win the race.”

“Get up!” he said, “You haven’t lost at all.

For winning is no more than this – to rise each time you fall.”

So up he rose to win once more and with a new commit,

He resolved that win or lose, he would not ever quit.

So far behind the others now, the most he’d ever been,

Three times he’d fallen stumbling, three times he rose again.

Too far behind to win, he still ran to the end.

They cheered the winning runner as he crossed the line first place.

Head high and proud and happy – no failing, no disgrace.

But when the fallen youngster crossed the line – last place,

The crowd gave him a great cheer for finishing the race.

And even though he came in last, with head bowed low, unproud,

You would have thought he’d won the race to listen to the crowd.

And to his dad he sadly said, “I didn’t do so well.”

“To me you won” his father said, “You rose each time you fell.”

And now when things seem dark and hard and difficult to face,

The memory of the little boy helps me in my own race.

For all of life is like a race with ups and downs and all.

And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall!

“QUIT!” Give up!”  “You’re beaten!”  They’re shouting in my face.

But yet another voice within me says – “Get up and win the race!”

TEAMWORK

Posted: August 2, 2013 in Life & Times, Parenting, Uncategorized
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TEAMWORK

How many girls does it take to get the balloon?

This is one of our all-time favorite pics. We happened to walk around the corner and catch our kids in action. Brianna, Autumn and Courtney were 7, 6 & 4 at the time.

Sometimes, life’s greatest lessons come through the smallest moments.

Ingredients of GREAT TEAMS:

1. Sacrifice.  On every great team there must exist players with the willingness to be unselfish. To give the assist vs. the goal. To lay down a bunt to advance the runner. To throw the block to open the hole.

2. Effort. A team is only as strong as it’s weakest link. In fact, great coaches will attack their opponents’ weakest player.  Each player is expected to give 100% effort in the gym, in practice, and on the field.

3. Unity. Working together for a common goal or purpose. Teams must have coordination and cooperation.  They must unite for a SINGLE PURPOSE.

OK…this is a heavy analogy to draw from my daughters trying to get a balloon, but hang with me…

I don’t know about you, but I’m thankful for the “snapshots” that life sometimes brings and the lessons that come from life’s smallest moments.

May we learn from life’s lessons.