Searching for Father

From Amos 5:4:  “For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel:  Seek Me and live.”

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Searching for Father

Walking stark valleys

Running through darkness

Checking back alleys

 

Seeking divine Lord

Wandering each day

Sinking, lost again

Retreating to pray

 

Finding Calvary

Kneeling at sin’s cross

Seeing scarlet stains

Witnessing God’s loss

 

Feeling Christ’s Spirit

Scanning empty tomb

Understanding now

Reaching Father’s room

 

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From Amos 5:14:  “Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said.”

Summer of Dreams

From 1968, this little league team would be searching its field of dreams.

Little League baseball fills many youngsters’ late spring and early summer with dreams.  For their love of the game comes to life with another season.

America’s pastime sparkles in the Magic City each summer.  One of their own, Dave McNally, pitches for the Baltimore Orioles in the big leagues, and he has earned a World Series ring.

Boys throughout the city dream of filling those shoes of their local baseball hero.  Alas, one team seems left outside the baselines, experiencing very little success.

They are called “Baseball’s Misfits” in the Central Heights League.  Sponsored by the local Masonic Lodge, their nickname is the Masons.  Over the past few seasons, many have labeled the team with stinging epitaphs.  Other boys can sometimes be so cruel.

Cellar Dwellers!

Losers!

Last Place!

Their uniforms look like they are several seasons past their prime.  The fading numbers and letters perfectly describe the team’s fortunes over the past couple of seasons . . . zero wins!

Could fortunes be changing for this band of misfits?

A new coach arrives on the scene, with a refreshing outlook for this team.  Coach Pete, assisted by Zup, brings along his three sons, and they join a roster filled with a Laird, Zupan, Luetke, Olson, and a trio of Hjellum’s. 

A sense of confidence begins to brew among the players.  Could their field of dreams finally come true?

With coaches Pete and Zup guiding, the team learns more about the game.  They teach and reteach, with patience and conviction, baseball’s fundamentals.  More importantly, they build a positive spirit within the team. 

The season rolls out, and the boys take the field with a new sense of believing in their field of dreams.  However, other contending teams still look down at these former misfits.  Watching the Masons, they see new coaches, a few added players, and the same old, fading uniforms.  Sorry boys, not this season!

Playing through their schedule, the boys match wins with the other top team.  People begin to take notice of this new team on the block.  They look legitimate.

Entering the final game, the team needs one more win to capture the league championship.  Fueled by past disappointments and demeaning ridicule, their destiny will now be fulfilled.  League Champions!

Taking their championship dreams one step further, the team moves on to the city tournament.  Here awaits a field of champions from the other neighborhood leagues in the city. 

Losing in the semifinals dashes their ultimate dream.  Despite the tears, the boys have experienced an amazing season, fulfilling their summer of dreams.

Special Note:  While this account has been embellished a bit, the story is true.  I had the pleasure to play on this team as a 12-year old.  If you go back to the picture, you can find my Dad and two brothers (far left in the back, Coach Pete; front row far left, Doug; front row far right, Greg; and in the second row, second from the right is yours truly).

Writing ‘the’ Book

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Writing becomes treasured hobby

Writing ‘the’ book, will anyone read?

Writing each hour, quitting day job

Writing chapters with epic speed

 

Waiting for magic, keyboard sleeps

Waiting for inspiration’s nudge

Waiting for publisher to call

Waiting for something bold, oh fudge!

 

Overlooking advice from friends

Overlooking cover’s design

Overlooking shrinking cash flow

Overlooking final deadline

 

Spending phantom cash, much too fast

Spending less and less time writing

Spending more and more time dreaming

Spending months on nothing exciting

 

Pushing aside all of these thoughts

Focusing on fresh start at hand

Crafting poetry, something new

Writing ‘the’ book, no longer planned

 

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Guest Post: Laced Up in Adversity

Today’s guest post is written by one of my grandsons, who enjoys playing club and high school soccer.  He has allowed me to share his story with you.  Enjoy a look at his personal journey.

The budding writer and determined middle fielder defending against an opponent in the spring of 2017. Note the stocking hat, it was a cold and damp day.

July, 2014

“Can I just keep playing football instead,” I asked as I started to feel adversity in my path to the NFL.  My face was contorted with confusion and frustration, as no matter what I said, my parents came up with an answer to contradict my arguments.  “There are small people who play football too!”  My mom replied calmly, “I just don’t think it’s safe for you to be playing football, with all of the injuries that could happen, and especially because you’re smaller.”  My dad then explained all about how I could be a great soccer player, with how fast and athletic I was.  As the dreaded conversation lagged on, I felt my hopes and dreams draining out the window, the aspiration to go to the NFL fading, the whole world seeming to crush on top of my little 8 year old self.  “Okay, I guess I’ll try it,” I said gloomily. Little did I know how much those few words could impact my whole future and how it would play out.

***

December 13, 2019 (10:30 AM)

The Super Y League Finals. In Florida.  On the best complex I’ve ever played.  This is the real deal.  My inner thoughts poured inside my brain as I started to feel the magnitude of the situation.  As I sat there in the car with my dad, my hands were fidgeting with nervousness and excitement, the anticipation getting to me.  I started to lace up my black Adidas cleats, reminding myself that I have a job to do on the field, reminding myself to work as hard as I can, and reminding myself to tackle the task in front of me.  “Hey bud,” my dad began.  “Are you nervous?”  “Yeah, quite a bit,” I replied.  A short pause.  “Hey, don’t worry about those small mistakes.  If you make a bad pass, go back and get the ball back.  If you get beat on defense, recover and work hard to get the ball back.  All you can do is work as hard as you can and put in 110% in everything you do.  And that’s not just on the soccer field.  That’s also in school, in church, and how you act on a daily basis.  You’ll face adversity in life, but sometimes you just have to take on that adversity head on.” Now a bit more motivated, my laces all tight and snug, I stepped out of the car.  The Florida sun was already beaming onto me, opening up pores where sweat was impatiently waiting to be released.  The bright green Bermuda grass was cut short, with mowing lines still imprinted on the pitch. Despite having about 45 minutes till kickoff, a couple of my teammates were already there, nervously chatting about what could be the biggest few games we’ve played as a team so far.  “Let’s go,” I said to myself as I stepped onto the field, making my way towards my teammates.  The pressure of the game has gotten to my head, adversity staring in front of me again, waiting to be fought.

***

September, 2014

        The tires of the white Honda Pilot rumbled along the gravel road towards a small grass field surrounded by a dense forest.  While making our way towards the field, my heart started beating a bit faster. This is going to be much different than football practice, I thought to myself.  “You’ll be fine out there.  You’re fast.  You’re athletic.  All of the players had to learn at one point,” my mom noted, almost reading my mind at that moment.  I got out of the car with Jack, one of my closest friends, to try this whole soccer thing out with his team.  My new bright yellow cleats, still clutched in my hand waiting to be put on, were reflecting off the bright sunshine as I walked nervously to greet what will be my new teammates and friends in the future.  Going up to the coach, Jack talks first:  “Hey coach Lazaro, this is Caden.  He’s just here to practice and see how he feels about soccer.”  “Nice to meet you Caden.  Alright, let’s see if you can play.”  I, being a shyer person, was quiet during the introduction, unsure what to think about the coach, and the situation as a whole.  Now putting on those yellow Nike cleats, I felt a sliver of hope, feeling that this could be the sport I end up playing, the sport that develops me as a person, and the sport that grows me physically, mentally, and spiritually.

***

December 13, 2019 (11:30 AM)

Barcelona United was warming up on the side of the field, preparing for the first match of the infamous Super Y League Finals. Nervousness was visible in the teammates’ appearance, contrasting with the fire in each and every one of their eyes.  In spite of the pressure of the game, I knew that I still had a job to do on the field and to overcome the challenge the game entails.  With 5 minutes left until the game starts, Coach Ika (my 2nd coach I played for at Barcelona United) called us back over to the bench.

 “Alright, this is it.  This is what all of our blood, sweat, and tears all came together for.  I’ve seen how good this team can play.  In fact, I believe that we can be one of the best teams in the country, but that’s only if we work together as a team, and everyone plays their role to the fullest.  Wingers, stay wide and make runs down the flank. Defenders, play it safe and contain.  I don’t want us to be playing a long ball game as our strategy, but if it is needed in the back, clear the ball out.  Midfielders, distribute the ball to our wingers and strikers, and play aggressively on 50/50 balls to win the ball back in the middle of the field.  The other team has this tall and fast center mid who they like to distribute the ball through.  Stay tight with him, and deny him the ball.  I already told you guys the starting lineup, so let’s come out here and work.  We didn’t fly all this way to get blown out every single game.  Okay, let’s go, hands in.”

“Barça on 3, 1 2 3 Barça!,” we all shout as we head onto the field.  I stand right in the center of our half of the field, positioning in the center mid spot.  The cleats, inching into the short-cut grass, were ready for the task in hand, ready to tackle the opposition.

***

December 13, 2019 (11:45 AM)

      As the referee blew the whistle, everything started to go in slow motion.  I raced up to mark a man in the middle while the opposing team played the ball back to their defense.  The right back played a long ball down the sideline to the winger, the ball traveling as close to the boundary as possible without going out.  The winger took the ball down the sideline, beat our outside defender, crossed it in, and their striker immediately found the ball and placed it into the back of the net. Within 2 minutes of the start time, we were already down 1-0.  This could be a long game, I dreadingly thought.  The opposing team’s audience erupted, drowning out Coach Ika’s remarks to the defense. Adversity was now mocking us, questioning whether we should even belong in this tournament.  15 minutes has passed without a goal, with our team controlling most of the possession of the ball despite being down.  Suddenly, a corner kick was given to us.  Our captain leisurely went up to take the kick, and lofted a beautiful ball into the center of the box.  The goalie punched it out, but right to one of our defenders sitting at the top of the box. He took a crack at the ball, and it deflected off one opposing player and went into the net. 1-1.  The other team kicked off again, passing the ball back to their defender, when that defender fumbled the ball and our striker immediately took advantage of it, stealing the ball and taking it downfield to eventually score in the side netting of the goal. 2-1.  Another 20 minutes later, we scored again, this time a shot outside of the box curling inside the far post.  By now the pressure has gone out the window, our team gliding down the field, connecting one by one to each other, or like my coach liked to say, “good soccer.”  The goals just kept piling onto one another, eventually racking up to 7-1 at the end of the game.  Hope for the season to continue was now visible.  Well, little did I know that I would end up playing fútbol instead of football.

As grandparents, my wife and I are equally proud of each of our 11 grandchildren in Ohio and Montana.  It has been a blessing to watch this young man grow and mature in his faith, education, and favorite sport.  Here are links to two previously published poems about his soccer adventures.

Monday Memories: Everlasting Road

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I am a solitary man traveling on an empty road

My life journey’s been an awfully heavy load

 

I yearn to walk a few more miles by the end of this day

My battered and worn shoes have so very much to say

 

I survive by myself after all of these long years

My past is filled with disappointments and tears

 

I have met few along this road who even say “hello”

My disheveled appearance keeps eyes looking low

 

I look ahead to what this day will offer to me

My weakened eyes make it challenging to see

 

I would welcome a hot meal and a warm shower

My bag of jerky will need to nourish for hours

 

I feel my energy running low on fuel just the same

My mind tries to stay alert as if playing a new game

 

I wish to stop by this large sycamore tree

My eyes can rest under its shade for free

 

I will rest and relax in peace along this quiet road

My journey will soon be finished, yet I never slowed

 

I will continue my peaceful trek down a lonesome route

My days are numbered, but I remain strong and stout

 

I am ready to meet my Lord on His righteous terms

His everlasting spirit brings much for me to affirm

 

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Navigating Change

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Time’s ever-changing river

Hours flowing day after day

Navigating change, life’s song

Destiny travels our way

 

Tomorrow’s adventure calls

River flows with rapid pace

Navigating change, be safe

Ambition now giving chase

 

Facing Niagara Falls

Calling out new direction

Navigating change, new route

River journey’s correction

 

River experience counts

Night’s campsite, overcrowded

Navigating change, next choice

New site empty, not crowded

 

Life shadows shifting river

Requires flexibility

Navigating change, time calls

Now teaching humility

 

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From the words of American business pioneer and founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Mary Kay Ash:  “When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.

Steady Song

Montana’s Yellowstone River, without dams and flowing free.

Innocence of its journey

Silently moving along

Life flowing from its spirit

Hearing river’s steady song

 

Adventure fills nature’s page

Imagination runs wild

Treasured stories to transcribe

Waters frolic like God’s child

 

Back in time, from long ago

Calling out, steady she goes

Flowing with perseverance

Energy shall never slow

 

Panoramic and mighty

Slicing across vast landscapes

Mystery around each bend

Secrets waiting to escape

 

Most precious and sustaining

Endless scenic avenues

Dreaming of chapters to write

Like tasting sweetest fondue

 

Montana’s Madison River, blue-ribbon trout fishing.

Empty Pages

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Life begins much like an empty book

Pages waiting as a tranquil brook

 

How will daily life compose each page?

Breathtaking words at every age

 

Words starting with childlike, joyful prose

Sentences fill with love, head to toes

 

Paragraphs arrive, smiling each day

First page finishes, much like crochet

 

Chapters now gather, picking up speed

Transmission accepts each tender reed

 

Pages adding up, never afraid

Days, weeks, months, years gather . . . no charade

 

Life reaches the twilight of its time

Not pausing, not even for halftime

 

Who will ever read this manuscript?

There’s time to add a final postscript

 

With empty pages, life’s book began

Words maturing, always in God’s plan

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Faithful Journey

From Psalm 85:8-9:  “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people, to His faithful, to those who turn to Him in their hearts.  Surely His salvation is at hand for those who fear Him, that His glory may dwell in our land.”

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Uncertain darkness

Surrounds me this day

Humbly take a knee

Bowing now to pray

 

Prayers calling God

Remain unhurried

Unanswered questions

Never be worried

 

Christ’s teachings feed thee

With the bread of life

This eternal gift

Blessings without strife

 

Lord of life and love

He feeds and frees all

Through His Holy Word

Never builds a wall

 

Allow me to pause

God prods thee along

Hearing His questions

Answers make me strong

 

God everlasting

Faith remains with thee

Through life’s harsh chaos

Calming stormy seas 

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From Romans 10:10-13:  “ For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.  The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in Him will be put to shame.’  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on Him.  For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'”

Writer’s Journey

person writing on notebook while holding coffee mug

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Leaving memories from a classroom

Now pursuing and writing a new tune

 

Exciting, unfamiliar journey begins

Seeing life through a creative lens

 

Retirement offers a different team

Fulfilling hidden, unexpected dreams

 

Waking up in the very early morn

Coffee and writing, refreshing norm

 

Discovering a passion for poetry

Let’s see where words will take me

 

Finding a unique style to nurture

This pen flows with adventure

 

Short stories stir up this open mind

Enjoying the fun, these words find

 

Thankful for readers, such as you

This writer’s journey, quite a view