Forgot to Remember

It is NCAA D1 Volleyball Year End Tournament time. 5 months late.

The fall volleyball season for many colleges was pushed to spring due to…. duh..

Covid.

College athletes have pushed through regular co-vid testing, quarantine, cancelled games….

and playing in front of empty stands.

Until now.

The NCAA D1 Volleyball tournament held in Omaha,NE has allowed limited fans in the CHI Health Center Stadium for the finals. Our family loves volleyball and we could not be happier for the return of a sport we enjoy so much. It is exciting to hear the cheers of live people in the stands and not the recorded background noise we’ve come to find normal over the last year of COVID impacted sports seasons.

The sounds of the fans is so energizing.

When they remember.

To cheer, that is.

Which begs the question? How could you forget? More importantly how could Nebraska fans forget?

To Cheer.

Nebraska has the largest college volleyball venue in the Big 10. It seats over 11,000 and in non co-vid times is usually sold out. The atmosphere is electric. People of all ages show up to cheer on their Huskers who have a long tradition of winning. Tom and I are always eager to tune in to a televised home game in Husker arena.

So why were they so quiet? The tournament was held in Omaha giving the Nebraska team a clear home court advantage.

The No. 5 ranked Nebraska Volleyball team was one of the final 8 teams left in the tournament playing No. 4 ranked Texas. It was an exciting match. They were in a must win situation and the Texas fans were on their feet. They were loud and proud – waving their Hook Em horns hands – ready to usher their team in to another NCAA tournament semi final.

And the Nebraska fans sat.

They stayed settled in to their comfy arena seating – all decked out in their Husker T shirts, pom poms and one man even wore a hat that looked like a corn cob. They had all the signs of excited, loyal fans ( I mean how many people do you see walking around with a corn cob hat?)

But they remained quiet.

I probably would not have noticed this – but the TV announcers calling the game drew it to all the viewers attention.

“It’s like they forgot how to cheer!” Said one.

“Yes – the Nebraska team needs their fans to get behind them. They were playing so much better earlier in the match when the fans were ON THEIR FEET and CHEERING.” said the other commentator.

Wow.

The team needs to hear their fans but it appears they forgot how to cheer.

Texas went on to win the match against Nebraska and they went on to beat their next opponent No. 1 ranked Wisconsin in a close, hard fought match to take them to the NCAA tournament finals. As I watched the Texas/Wisconsin match I paid attention – to the fans. What I noticed was interesting and eerily similar to the Texas-Nebraska match.

The fans.

In the final determining points of the set that Texas won to send them to the finals…

The Texas fans were on their feet.

The Wisconsin fans were not.

The team that had the loudest fans….. WON.

Now…. My Volleyball Coach husband will tell me their were a gazillion other reasons Texas won. They are a tough, talented team. They won because they deserved to win.

But gosh…. there are some lessons these fans can teach us. There are some important questions I believe we as a culture can ask ourselves in regards to the way we support or don’t support the people in our lives. I fear that a year of disconnect has caused us to forget the power of connection, community and full out cheering.

Friends – your voice of encouragement matters.

How you show up matters.

Your effort in reaching out to people matters.

Sociologists and Psychologists will tell you that the rise in suicide and substance abuse has sky rocketed since we all took cover in the safety of our homes in March of 2020. We need each other. We need to feel the energy that comes when we know someone believes in us because they have told us so. If we continue down the course of passivity the implications are far greater then not making it to the finals of a volleyball tournament.

I have realized that as I work to stay connected I am going to have to make a few adjustments.

Connection takes work. Friends and family that I used to feel united to because of shared beliefs may now find ourselves on opposite sides of well…. just about anything. Our culture has no end of issues we can disagree on and it appears that we believe that if we just get louder about our perspectives people will understand. I have not found that to be true. Taking time to understand the people in my life before offering up my perspective means I will work to listen first. Talk later.

Connection means you open you mouth. In a world where we can scroll passively past the lives of thousands of people we may have allowed ourselves to believe that act is true connection. We see what is happening, we note it, may judge it or ourselves and move on. Can I suggest that a start to connection is to leave a simple LIKE or ‘good job’ underneath the post? If you are wondering who may need your words… the answer is simple: anyone you encounter who is breathing. That is the only qualifier.

Connection means you move. You make the call. You pick up a pen and paper. You shift your gaze to the eyes of the people in the store – making connection with the parts of our bodies that some writers have characterized as the windows to our soul. Take the first step. Follow the nudge to reach out to the person that drops into you mind for no apparent reason.

A couple of years ago Tom and I were leading an event for students at our High School campus. It was required. We took attendance. One young man came in late and said the words I’ll remember forever. English was not his first language so he expressed his sentiments with the best English phrase he could put together…

“I’m so sorry I’m late…. I forgot to remember!”

Friends – It’s time that we stop “forgetting to remember” ……

how to cheer.

How to encourage. How to love. How to support our people in a way that helps them push through their hard, those last final moments before the finish line. Our silence serves no one. Your CHEERS matter.

You matter.

I can hear the voices now.

“Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today.” Hebrews 3:13

A former HS team Tom coached. We love volleyball!

First love

It was bound to happen. I’d been hanging out there for a few months so I was sure to bump into him.

Or at least His memory.

It was Monday and I was running down a gravel country road about 1.5 miles away from home. Just like that – the song on my 80’s pop play list jumped ahead and I was back in the summer of 1986 and in the arms of the love of my 16 year old life. I’ve been stuck on this play list since I discovered the completion of my runs has everything to do with the music blasting in my ears. 1980’s music is the soundtrack of my teenage years and the upbeat rhythms of Michael Jackson, Bryan Adams and Rick Springfield fit the bill.

Raise your hand if you are old enough to remember cassette tapes you shared with your teenage love – the one that held all of your songs and especially “the song.” The names of you and your person were written on the label in black sharpie with hearts around them. The making of the tape took time, effort and money. They were gold.

Me – right here. Had one and had a Song.

The Glory of Love by Peter Cetera – former lead singer of the Classic Band Chicago. He left the band in 1986 and went on to record 8 solo albums. Thanks Wikipedia. It was his first hit single that I had not heard in years that sent me down a rabbit trail of memories that helped me push through at least a good 3/4 of a mile of my run.

This boy that filled my memories for a few minutes last Monday was my first love. We dated for four years and all our high school friends thought we were a forever couple. People were shocked when we went our separate ways after our sophomore year of college but we knew it was for the best. My daughter recently asked me if the break up was hard.

Did I cry?

Did I have regrets?

The first answer was yes. The second answer was no. And thats what I thought about when the tune started playing.

There is this beautiful gift in life that can sometimes only come with the passing of time. This means the longer one lives the more of this gift they should have. It gives one the ability to look at a circumstance from all sides to recognize the beauty in the middle of the pain. To see the joy in the midst of the sorrow.

Its called Perspective and I enjoyed a bunch of it as my feet pushed through my morning run.

As I reflected on that teenage romance that held so many firsts I found myself full of gratitude. I hold so many sweet memories from the years I dated this boy. From the awkward first date to praying his dad wouldn’t be the one to answer the phone when we would have our nightly phone calls to formal dances, football games and dreaming of the future. It was in that season that we both realized what was most important to us and it was that realization that lead us to the revelation that our time together would not be a forever but still a very important foundation for our futures.

My husband and I are getting close to celebrating 30 years of wedded bliss. It may seem strange that I allowed myself the brain space to reminisce about an old boyfriend – one that many thought would be my husband. I want to suggest that surrendering a bit of time to reflect on our pasts, whether they are filled with joy, sorrow or a healthy mix of both is never a waste of time.

What my glimpse into the past revealed…

  1. I’m glad I loved – I allowed myself the vulnerability to share my life with another person.
  2. I’m glad I lost it. I learned that despite deep sadness over broken relationships – life will go on.
  3. I’m glad I made mistakes – I needed this for my future as a parent. Holding tight to the reality that despite trying to do the best I could – my choices were not always wise.
  4. I’m glad I received grace. I see it in the ways God guided me through that season and brought me safely to the life I have today. He was so good to continue to show up ready to lead despite my attempts to go it on my own.

When the song started playing I almost skipped ahead. I didn’t need to be reminded of an old boyfriend. That’s silly. But I was about to receive the benefits of that gift, you know the one I mentioned that comes with the passing of time?

Yep – Perspective.

As I let the song play the focus on one young man in my past actually lead me to another – the one that was with me then and is still with me now. The one who yearned to be part of my teenage days and the one who strengthens me as I now parent teens. The one who lead me to the perfect husband and father. The one who shows me his Glory in the way he loved me when he died on the cross and the way he rose victoriously from the grave. How sweet to know my Lord was with me then and he is with me now and will be with me forever.

hmmm somebody should write a song about that……

” I am the man who will fight for your honor.

I’ll be the hero you’re dreaming of.

We’ll live forever

Knowing together

That we did it all for the glory of love.”

Peter Cetera – The Glory of Love

Let Jesus restore the soundtrack of your past as he prepares you for your glorious future and sustains your perfect presence. He is good and he will do it.

My forever love:)

Hand washing and other hills I didn’t die on….

“Would you like to wash your hands?”

It was August of 2018 B.C. You know – Before Covid. The question posed to my oldest and I was one that had crossed neither of our minds. And as the mom – I’m the one responsible for that. We had just arrived at her then boyfriends apartment and he had prepared a delicious meal and set a beautiful table. I was impressed. I am guessing in the moments after the question left his mouth he was not so impressed with me. As my daughter and I exchanged sheepish glances I realized that hand washing had not been a non negotiable in our home while raising my three children. They knew how to wash their hands and they would willingly do so if it seemed obvious it was needed. It clearly wasn’t a question that was asked before sitting down at our dinner table. I considered it victory when dinner was made, the table was set and we were all still alive by the time my husband returned home from work. Clean hands? – lets celebrate breathing children and a mom that still has all the hairs on her head.

My hand washing practice or lack of passion for it started when I was a camp counselor and there were few opportunities to wash hands before eating. Both the campers and the counselors would play hard and eat. Play hard some more and eat. Our hands had played tennis and capture the flag, rode horses, dug in the sand in the beach, created crafts all day long. I’m certain there were some kids that did not shower much during their 7 days away from home let alone wash hands before every meal. And as far as I know we are all still alive today.

My children who are now ages 23, 21 and 18 and I were laughing about this account with my now son in law the other day. It lead to other conversations about battles I chose to not fight. Parenting is tricky and making those calls are a challenge. I remember times as a young mom when I was hell bent on getting my children to finish their dinner. Their hands did not need to be clean but apparently their plates did. One instance was at a friends wedding when my oldest was 2 1/2. The reception was full of good food and music and distraction and she would not eat her pork chop. I remember feeling such frustration and actual anger that she wouldn’t eat and I honestly let that steal some of the joy of the moment. Wow – looking back I recognize this was such a waste of both of our lives.

As I sit at this stage of parenting I’m thankful I can laugh. I’m thankful my kids can too. I’m also very aware of the incredible grace of God that has clearly carried us all through. I’m also quite sure that the grace he gave is the grace we all will continue to need. Our journey as a family working to love, encourage, and grow in our faith in Jesus will not end until we all cross the finish line of earthly life and enter eternity with our Savior. My friends further on their parenting journey remind me of this and I’m so grateful for their encouragement and wisdom that tells me to keep entrusting our children to the one that stands with us in the battles we do or do not choose to enter.

I don’t know what hills you will or have chosen to die on with your children, or spouse or friends. There are resources we could all find that would support our way of thinking. I’m not here to debate those issues or suggest THE way to handle hygiene, or hair length, or skirt length our curfews, or screen time, or age one gets a cell phone….

But,

I will point you to the one hill… the one we all need to recognize. The one we spent significant time contemplating just a couple of weeks ago.

The hill that held the cross …

that held that man….

that held our sins.

The hill where the ultimate battle was fought and won and the grace we need in our everyday, wash or no-wash decisions of life was born.

The most important hill ….. the most important battle.

It is done. It is finished. Let us rejoice in that victory today.

My sons college apartment

Certain.

Matthew 28:17-19 NLT

“On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” “As you go into the city,” he told them, ” you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.” So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there.

I never noticed him before but there he is just hanging out in the middle of the most important story for Christ followers. We don’t know his name or what he did for a living. We don’t know if he was married or had children. We don’t know if his home was humble or extravagant. We don’t know if he was young or old. We just know one thing…

He was certain.

CERTAIN. adjective 1. known for sure, established beyond doubt, beyond question, not in question.

I’ve been in the sales industry for 17 years. I love CERTAIN. It is a delight when someone contacts me that loves my

product, wants to become a loyal customer and places a significant order. Their certainty is a gift.

I’ve been a sports fan most of my life. I love CERTAIN. I love when you’re watching your favorite team and the win is CERTAIN. You know there is no possible way for the other team to come back. Thoughts can move to deciding which ice cream you’ll order from your favorite DQ to celebrate. It’s peace and calm and celebration – Certain.

I’ve been a mom for 23 years. I love CERTAIN. I love when my adult children are all gathered under one roof and I’m CERTAIN – because I can see them – that all is well.

Maybe it is my own hunger for certainty in an increasingly uncertain world that caused my eyes to notice for the first time this unassuming character in the account of Jesus last days on earth. Jesus and his disciples were preparing to celebrate Passover, an important custom in the Jewish tradition. It was a meal commemorating the protection of the Israelites hundreds of years earlier. They were enslaved by Pharaoh and God was about to set them free. He would use His ultimate power, taking the lives of all first born children not protected by the blood of an innocent lamb painted on their door post. Passover is a beautiful celebration – one that many Jews and Christians still celebrate. Finding the right spot was important. Jesus knew it. I believe he also wanted to make some things easier for his disciples. His followers and friends were in for a rude awakening as they faced the reality that their mentor, Lord and Savior was about to be crucified. Jesus gave them the gift of certainty – in the person of an unnamed, unknown yet very willing man.

“Master – where do you want to celebrate the Passover?”

“Go to the city – you will see a certain man…”

Certain – meaning specific – you’ll know him when you see him.

Certain – meaning the heart of the man. We see no record of this servant questioning the request. I think we can assume he immediately opened his home, showed them the room that was certainly ready and allowed them full access to use for the feast. This is the ultimate display of hospitality. He opens up his home to the most famous dinner party every held. It is captured in the painting by Leonardo Da Vinci and prints hang in homes and churches all over the world. Did the Holy Spirit give him a vision of this taking place? Had he been prepping for this moment because somehow he knew he would be the one? Or had he put his trust so clearly on the love of Jesus that when this unexpected opportunity arose he knew the only thing he could say was,

Yes.

I can imagine the disciples relief when they found the man and then he quickly lets them in. I wonder if this awed them, “How does he do that – Jesus just always knows!” or I wonder if they were used to this kind of discernment they had witnessed so many times. I wonder if they realized that what Jesus says and does is always the truth and it has nothing to do with circumstances.

This blog will post Saturday of Holy week. In my opinion the most Un- certain day of the week. Nothing happened on Saturday. The disciples huddled together in fear. We don’t get any insight into the way they spent that day. Maybe its because they were in such shock they just sat in silence. Maybe it is because there is no way to put into words the loss they felt. No words. It did not make sense. Maybe if we shake our head this horror will all go away.

Some of you are in Saturday seasons – the most uncertain of times. The one where you wish the bad dream you are walking in was just that, a dream. I imagine it feels long. I imagine it may feel far from hope. I imagine the wait feels unbearable.

Today – I ask you to hold on. Your uncertain days are held by a most certain Savior. The Savior that knew a few things about that Saturday… and now we do as well.

What we know about Saturday is that it ended.

What we know about Saturday is that it was creating certainty that the man that said he would give his life for our sins – would and was actually dead.

What we know about Saturday is that the slow, painful wait created a more glorious and welcome celebration.

What we know about Saturday is that it didn’t win. All the doubt and fear and discouragement it attempted to plant in the minds and hearts of Christs followers would not take root.

Because their Sunday came.

And yours my friend, will come too.

That I am certain.

Sunday is coming!