Tuesday, April 24, 2012

MIlestones of a Miracle

It may sound strange, but almost since the first year of our marriage Tom and I have celebrated the anniversary of our engagement. Twenty six years ago on April 19, 1986 we got engaged. That is a miracle. And the fact that we have been happily married for 25 year is a miracle.Miracles need to be remembered and celebrated.
Interestingly enough, we celebrated another odd anniversary this week. It was 32 years ago this month that Tom and I played King Arthur and Queen Guinevere in the musical Camelot. It was our senior year of high school. (Yes, we graduated from high school a loooong time ago!) This past weekend our high school alma mater did Camelot again for the first time in 32 years and Tom and I went to see it. We had to see it because Camelot is part of our miracle story.
At the time we did the play in high school our relationship was strained. Tom and I had known each other since elementary school, had been friends and had the potential for a deeper relationship even then. Thankfully, that didn't materialize at the time. We would have been stupid, to put it bluntly, and caused each other a great deal of pain. We were different people then and would have made very different choices. At the time of Camelot, we barely spoke to each other off stage while we portrayed a married couple on stage. That is what makes Camelot a part of our miracle story.
Even without speaking to each other offstage we were able to connect with the characters and their relationship as portrayed in the musical. Arthur and Guinevere came together through an arranged marriage but grew in affection and respect for each other. He dreamed of leading his kingdom well and changing things for the better while she encouraged him, helped him think things through and supported his efforts. If you know the story, then you know everything fell apart when Lancelot came on the scene, but even when Guinevere's passion turned to Lancelot, she never stopped caring for Arthur or believing in his dream. We connected so deeply with the characters that the end of the production was difficult. Tom pulled me aside to "say good-bye" at a cast party and in response, I wrote a letter from "Guinevere" to "Arthur" encouraging him to hold on to his dreams. He still has the letter.
I like to say that years later Tom and I "met again in church". Both our lives had changed dramatically as a result of our individual commitments to Christ. If we had come together before that time our story would have probably been similar to Arthur and Guinevere in that it would have ended in pain to us both. The miracle is that we came together at all and that because of our changed lives we have been able to succeed where Guinevere and Arthur failed.
So, we celebrate the milestones of our miracle, like our engagement anniversary or 25 years of marriage. We know who we were. Guinevere and Arthur remind us who we were and make us very grateful for who we have become.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Four Things I Learned From Tim Tebow

 I was excited to try out technology new to me. I was looking through digital books I could borrow from the library to read on my iPhone or Kindle when I happened upon Tim Tebow's autobiography, "Through My Eyes". So I thought, "Why not?" and borrowed it. As I read it and got to know this young NFL player a bit better, I think I understood why a kid who was not even 24 years old at the time of writing would even think about publishing a memoir. Interestingly, the book was written on the heels of his successful college career and drafting into the NFL before he came into the forefront at the end of the 2011 NFL season. I am sure it was meant to capitalize on that popularity, but was released into wider recognition. Providential? Perhaps.

Regardless of his intention, here are four things I learned from this kid, Tim Tebow.

1. Who says age makes a difference?!  At the young age of 23, recently out of college and starting a new job, Tim Tebow wrote a book about his life. Does it seem somewhat arrogant? Perhaps. Yet people were interested in him, his life and his college career. One thing I know from living in the South for a brief time, football is HUGE and college football is REALLY HUGE. Coming from the South and achieving notoriety as a college football player made Tebow a celebrity there. Why should he wait until he's older to write a book that his college football fans might be interested in? How often have I hesitated to do something because I thought I was too young or too old and lost the opportunity? Tebow decided his age didn't matter and wrote a book that became a best-seller. Who says age makes a difference?

2. Working hard never killed anyone. As Tebow described growing up on a family-run farm in Florida and then his days training for football I was shaking my head trying to understand someone who would endure so much physical discomfort and push himself so hard to be his best as a player. His farm days taught him to work hard, but in training he worked even harder. He seems to be driven in a way that most of us can't even fathom. Yet, that drive and discipline has paid off professionally and also translates into hard work in his other pursuits. How hard am I willing to work to pursue the things I dream about? Have I been willing to put aside personal comfort in order to achieve a goal? Maybe it's time for me to work harder and be more disciplined. Working hard never killed anyone.

3.I need to use whatever platform I have to help others. Even as a college football player, Tebow has continually used his platform of notoriety as a vehicle to raise money for charities and help those in need. Kids in hospitals, orphans in the Philippines, and prisoners are among those he has set out to visit or raise money for. As soon as he became an NFL player he started a foundation to continue to raise money for the causes he has been involved with. The stated mission of the Tim Tebow Foundation is "to bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need." An ambitious mission to be sure. I am almost certain that the proceeds from his book are being used to fund the foundation rather than Tim Tebow. Why wait to write a book until his popularity wanes when he has a platform now to "create a brighter day"?  Am I using my much smaller platform to do the most good I can while I can? I think not. I need to use whatever platform I have to help others.

4. Let faith fuel my passion. In his book Tebow shares that his mom and dad chose homeschooling as the education vehicle for all their kids. Tim's mom assigned him a project on Eric Liddell, known to many of us from the movie, "Chariots of Fire". Tebow shares how he identified with Eric Liddell. Like Liddell, he felt that God had made him for ministry, but also for another purpose. Liddell eventually became a missionary to China, but Tebow quotes the scene in the movie where Liddell tells his sister "I believe God made me for a purpose. For China. But He also made me fast and when I run I feel His pleasure." Tebow feels that way about football and it is that faith that fuels his passion for the game. It is also that faith that fuels his passion for life and for helping others. Like Eric Liddell his faith can't be separated for his performance. It is the very root of everything he does, including football. I describe myself as a person of faith, a committed Christian like Tim Tebow. How does my faith translate to passion? Have I let that passion truly ignite in me? It's time to let faith fuel my passion.

I learned a lot from this kid. What about you?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

No coffee!

One of my favorite musical theater moments comes from one of my least favorite musicals, "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying". In the musical number "Coffee Break" an office full of workers express their despair and dismay that their is "No coffee! No coffee!". An entire musical number is dedicated to their plight. It is is one of the funniest moments in the play.

Good writers of comedy understand that people laugh when they see truth exaggerated. They laugh because they see themselves or someone they know in the comedic character, but most often they won't admit it! "Coffee Break" exaggerates our national coffee addiction. Many of us would recognize our own reaction to "No coffee!", albeit a hyperbolic one. Of course, it might not seem funny first thing in the morning!

So why do I bring this up? It's the week the Christian calendar refers to as Holy Week. The week leading up to Easter, the celebration of Christ's resurrection. The final week of Lent, a time of reflection meant to prepare our hearts to celebrate Easter. It's a tradition to "give up" during Lent as a way to remind ourselves to be in reflection. This year I gave up coffee.

I have occasionally mentioned that to people and their reaction would fit right in "Coffee Break"! To them the thought of "No coffee!" seemed a monumental sacrifice. My sacrifice was so abysmally small compared to His. Even so, I did it because I don't want anything so insignificant to have a place of control in my life. I did it because I dreaded the thought of giving up coffee. That should not be! Do I love coffee more than Christ? How silly!

Have I missed coffee? Sometimes. But not as much as I thought I would. Will I enjoy having coffee on Sunday? Absolutely! But not for coffee's sake. I will enjoy it because I can live without it. I will enjoy it as a way to celebrate the resurrection of Christ and to celebrate His place in my life. A place that I don't want to be overshadowed by something so insignificant as a beverage!

No coffee! No problem. Not now.