What is That Smell?

What is that Smell?

Just over a week ago, we celebrated Easter. Eggs, food, family, candy, church were all things that were a common denominator for most families that recognize the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or just after the vernal equinox. So where do you we go from there?

The eggs that were hidden should have all been found, but just maybe the vultures that are your children, cousins, nephews, nieces or grandchildren missed that one plastic egg. The one that wasn’t the Golden egg, but did have a five dollar bill in it. Not that five dollars will get you far in today’s society, but while weed eating in the back yard, you found that egg that will allow you to purchase a few items off the dollar menu at McDonalds.

What is that mound of dirt in your backyard that has formed over the past week? It looks like the beginnings of a major league pitching mound that the local wildlife would use to throw acorns off of for a friendly game of wildlife baseball. At a closer glance, you find a purple egg with ants and dirt surrounding it. They are like gnats on a dog in the middle of the summer. They have homesteaded around, inside, underneath and all over the egg. Inside lies a colorful tin foil candy wrapper. The remains of a chocolate egg that was left in the mass chaos of egg hunting.

A knock on your door and to your surprise a county sheriff’s deputy awaits on the other side. He greets you with a smile, but it quickly turns to a concerned look. “Sir, your neighbors have called in to our department because of a foul smell that is lurking over your privacy fence into their backyard. They claim that the smell is so awful that it is attracting all types of flies and bugs. It’s really becoming a hazard to the neighborhood.” Your thoughts race, did something die in my back yard and I didn’t notice? Did the stray dogs drag another animal towards your property and leave it for the buzzards? Everyone gets a good laugh when you find out that a few boiled eggs had not been accounted for from the family hunt over a week ago.

Churches were packed to maximum capacity on Easter. One Mega Church Pastor claims that thirty-one thousand people came through the doors of their churches at several different campuses. At our local church about one hundred more faces were in the crowd compared to the average Sunday attendance. But that number is no comparison to how many people were not able to hear the good news of Jesus leaving the tomb.

The basics of the Celebration goes something like this. I am not by any means a theologian, but this shapes it up in a nutshell. Jesus came to the earth as a man, he was sinless, he paid the price for everyone’s sins by dying on the cross by his own will, he came out of the grave on the third day, he appeared to around five hundred people before he levitated into the clouds. In 1 Corinthians 15:14, the bible states, “and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without foundation, and so is your faith.”

I saw a church sign once that read “Come on back this Sunday, He is Still Risen.” Christ is still very much alive. This is evident all around us. The correlation of “believing is seeing” is why some people do not recognize that Christ is alive in our world today. However, in the 3rd Chapter of John verses 6-8 it is written that “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised by my saying, “You must be born again.” The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Authentic

Authentic

The menu reads “Authentic Mexican Food.” I haven’t visited any cities in Mexico to be able to vouch for the validity of the advertisement. However, I have visited a large percentage of local restaurants that use the same advertisement. My expert evaluation is that I haven’t tasted any food from these establishments that there would be a reason to frown about. My side job may eventually turn into a food connoisseur. I love eating that much.

While grocery shopping in a local grocery store, I came across an item that advertised 100% fruit juice. While examining the label, I noticed that there were ingredients listed under the nutrition label. To my surprise, there was more than one ingredient listed: pure filtered water, premium concentrated juice, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), Citric Acid, and Potassium Metabisulfite. I know some of these things are added to help preserve the shelf life of the product. However, how authentic is the advertisement 100 % fruit juice.

While swimming with Nemo, going to infinity and beyond with Buzz Lightyear, and setting sail with Captain Jack Sparrow on a vacation several years ago to Disney World, I was approached by a very nice gentleman. I was dressed in my Atlanta Braves attire. We had been to a Spring Training game at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. This gentleman began the conversation by asking how the team was doing. I assumed he noticed that I had the Braves merchandise on and shared a love for the game of baseball. My response was vague, but went along the lines of “it’s going good.” The conversation continued for a few moments about the team and the upcoming season. As our time was coming to end, he asked “aren’t you one of the players?” I was honored but had to decline his initial impression. This has been some years back when I was in a lot better shape and looked a lot younger. Wearing the authentic merchandise doesn’t make you a professional baseball player.

I guess you are wondering where all this is going.

How in tune are you in conversations with your spouse, your children, or your friends? Selective listening is something that has been mastered in recent years due to the busyness of life and the emergence of cellular devices.

While in conversation, are you actively listening to what the other person is saying?

While ending each practice or game, we instruct our kids to have both eyes on whoever is talking. Why is this important? If you are looking down, untying your cleats, or playing in the grass, you are more than likely tuning some of what is being said out. The same goes for general conversation with those around you. How can you be actively listening while on the phone or paying attention to the things around you?

The old saying goes, “you never know what battles people are fighting.” It would be devastating to know that your closest friend was trying to confide in you about the monsters roaring in their head, but you were too occupied to pick up on the hints in their words.

When hard times come and they will if they haven’t already, we expect others to get on their knees and beg for our victory in this situation. How many times have you said “we will be praying for you” and that never happened. It’s almost cliché. We get busy and forget or just say these things to give others a sense of hope in the face of adversity.

Romans 12:9 states “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” Be deliberately authentic out of love. The love that God has shown you should be reflected in your relationships and authentic conversations with others.

Forgiven

Ma’am are you okay? Can you hear me? You are going to be fine, hang in there. Keep your eyes open.

Lily recently had married the love of her life. He had too many drinks at a retirement party, so she volunteered to drive. She only had a few glasses of wine. She knew that she was in better shape to drive than her husband.

She couldn’t make out a whole lot about the situation. There was blood running down her forehead into her eyes and her vision was already blurred from the impact. She could tell that men were working on several people laid out on the asphalt.

Lily and Kevin, her husband, had been discussing the night and reminiscing about how they met. She was a waitress at a hotel restaurant and Kevin was staying a few nights in the hotel on business. He was meeting with a few clients the next day and had stopped in for a few drinks and a bite to eat. They conversed for hours as she waited on his and a few other tables throughout the night. They hit it off right away and before they knew it, they were traveling hours across three states to meet up on the weekends.

Six months later, they would marry in a small wedding on a lake at the sunset. A few of their friends were there and immediate family, but for the most part it was a small-scale event with a few refreshments and punch to end the night.

As Lily was being loaded into the ambulance, she could make out that there was another vehicle connected to hers. It looked as if someone had pulled out in front of her and she had side swiped their vehicle. The ambulance doors shut and they began the trek to the emergency room.

She asked the emergency workers in the ambulance what had happened and if Kevin was seriously hurt? What about the other vehicle? They wouldn’t give her much info, but that the workers on the scene were doing all that they could do and all involved were in good hands.

Shortly after she entered the hospital, the staff checked Lily out for any internal injuries. Much to her amazement, the doctors informed her that she would be stitched up and released in a few hours from the hospital. She still begged for someone to tell her anything about her husband’s condition.

As she was gathering her possessions in preparation to leave the evaluation area of the emergency room, a police officer approached Lily. “Ma’am, we need to talk about the incident that happened earlier tonight.” Do you remember what happened? I think a car ran a red light and we ran into the other vehicle. “Ma’am, the intersection where the accident occurred was a two way stop and the direction the other vehicle was traveling had the right of way.” Lily asked how her husband and the other vehicle’s passengers were. “Ma’am, one passenger in the other vehicle did not make it and your husband died on the way to the hospital. Her heart sank and she fell into the floor howling in sadness.

Later on she found out that the passenger in the other vehicle was a three year old little girl. Her mother, Sharon, had been traveling home from the little girl’s grandparent’s house when the accident occurred. Several weeks later after the funerals of both Kevin and the little girl, Sharon asked for a meeting with Lily.

Lily agreed, but knew this would be a very difficult conversation.

The two met at a local coffee shop and discussed the event. Lily apologized and although her blood alcohol content wasn’t near the illegal limit, she told Sharon that alcohol had been involved. Sharon already knew the situation and expressed gratitude for Lily being honest. Sharon told her that she had already talked to the investigators of the accident and expressed her concern for Lily. She knew that Lily had lost her husband and felt remorse for her as well. She told Lilly that day that she forgave her, because she knew that’s what God had done for her in so many situations in her life where she had failed.

In life, we often times are quick to ask for forgiveness when we have made mistakes that have hurt our family, friends, or partners, but when others ask us forgiveness it can take weeks or even years to forgive them for decisions they have made that have hurt us.

Crowder released an album in 2016 with a song named “Forgiven” on it. The words in the song talk about us holding the hammer and the nails that affixed Jesus to the cross. In response to these confessions, Jesus simply responds by saying, “there is freedom from all of it, say goodbye to every sin.”

Let that sink in! What are you holding onto today? Is there a grudge that is affecting you today? Sharon acted in a way that most would have frowned upon in our society today, but is your goal to be more like the father or the world around us?

Kid at Heart

“Bang,” “Pow,” “Boom,” “Whap.” Sounds that are familiar to the original television series Batman show popular in the 1960’s. However, these sounds depict an exhilarating battle with fierce competitors.  The eldest challenger of the two is more experienced and would be considered the favorite. The younger rival is less experienced but has the stamina of the energizer bunny.  Neither opponent will give an inch, but as the clash continues lasting what seems like hours, eventually the will and endurance of the younger competitor outlasts the elder to a shocking victory for the unlikely winner.

What would seem to be an epic MMA fight or a match seen in WrestleMania is actually a light saber battle. Ultimately, in this case the younger competitor was my 5 year old son, Landon. The eldest would be none other than his Uncle.

In another event, a one sided basketball game was taking place somewhere on the asphalt of a front yard court. This is street ball: there are no rules, every man for themselves, fouling isn’t optional, it’s mandatory to survive. This is a kind of beat down if there was a scoreboard, the clock wouldn’t stop running in the second half, also known as the mercy rule. Elbows are being thrown towards the end of the game and almost to add insult to the whipping that is ensuing, the winning team blasts an amazing dunk for the final points to put an exclamation on the victory.

Similar scenes were shown in the movie “White Men Can’t Jump” released in 1992. However, this case played out in our front yard on a 3 foot goal.  The winning team, John Brock, our three year old son. The losing team, his Uncle, who took a beating that day playing from his knees to ensure a fair competition.

Lastly, an elegant occasion where the dress code consists of men in tuxedos and women in evening gowns with gloves, all of which will only be worn for this special occasion.  All guests are mingling among each other eating appetizers consisting of bruschetta, seared scallops, and grilled eggplant. The drink of choice is a mixture of pomegranate juice and freshly sliced pears. There is a live Jazz band with plenty of dancing. This night is magical, one that most only dream of. It ends with a chariot ride where closest friends laugh and excitedly exchange about the evening they had just experienced.

The little girl who dreams of such an elegant occasion in this case is my daughter, Laylah Kate. She lived out this fantasy recently with baby dolls and plastic food. The night was amazing in her eyes filled with excitement and adventure. Her date for the night was her Uncle.

Words are hard to come by in the face of tragic situations. Tragedy doesn’t show bias to a particular race, gender, or social status. Losing a loved one is a very difficult situation and although we don’t always understand and it is often hard for us to rationalize why this happens, we can cherish the prized memories made and share with others the impact and privilege of them being a part of our lives.

Heart of Gold, Gift of Serving Others, Kid at Heart, Family Man, Hard Worker, and Loving could all describe Russ Taylor. These descriptions do not scratch the surface of describing what type of person he was. My children were truly blessed with memories that will last a lifetime. During the moments spent with him, they were the center of his attention and in their young eyes each scenario described played out just as they were portrayed.

As our time with each other would come to an end, Russ would always say “If there is anything I can help you out with, let me know.” For some people, this is casual conversation, but this came from his heart. He would truly go out of his way to give you the shirt off his back. How great this world would be if we took on this servant attitude daily in our life.

“The Underdog”

Do you know what UMBC stands for? If you haven’t been tuning in to the recent college basketball tournament, you probably won’t understand the relevance of that question.

UMBC stands for University of Maryland, Baltimore County. They are a sixteenth seeded team in the college basketball tournament that will decide the national champion in a few weeks. Being the lowest seeded team, they matched up with the overall number one seeded Virginia in the first game of the tournament. Not many people gave the “Retrievers” a chance to upset the “Cavaliers” from Virginia.

The college basketball playoff system is intriguing because of the matchups that are created and by the end of the tournament a small school underdog team has upset one of the basketball powerhouses. In 2017, Xavier, the eleventh seed, upset Arizona, who was a second seed.

In the history of the tournament, a sixteenth seed had never upset a number one seeded team. On Friday night, history was made. UMBC thumped Virginia to advance to the second round of the tournament.

For non-basketball people this would be like Jacksonville State beating the University of Alabama in a football game.

In life, the “underdog” represents those that overcome the odds to succeed. Often times the scenarios that play out are outside of the control of those that represent the “dark horse” in the race. Many times we hear of patients miraculously waking up from comas, or beating a battle with cancer. These are real life examples of the sixteenth seed coming out on top.

Recently, a young woman was fighting for her life in a Birmingham hospital. The doctors weren’t sure what caused her to have severe seizures. The prognosis wasn’t good and the family had been made aware that their daughter may not make it through the night. Prayer warriors were called upon and although the chances of her surviving were very small, many people pleaded with the Good Lord for a miraculous healing. Almost simultaneously her condition began to improve and after a short period of time the young woman was able to come off the machines at the hospital and eventually come home. This was an exciting buzzer beater layup for the win for the “Long Shot.’

The Bible tells us many stories of heroics for the “Underdog.” David and Goliath would be one that may be familiar. With Easter right around the corner, most people will celebrate with family and kids will await the arrival of the Easter Bunny. The resurrection of Jesus is truly the greatest comeback story of all time. This remarkable event reassured Jesus’ disciples and Christians that Jesus is the Son of God and gives us all hope that we too will be raised to live eternally with God.

Matthew 28:18-20 gives a recollection of Jesus talking to his disciples.” All authority in heaven has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

What are you waiting for? The Lord can propel you to the greatest victory of your life, bigger than the upset that occurred this weekend on the basketball court.

Just Glad To Have A Cup

Make a list of things that you are thankful for today:

Mine would go something like this.

  1. God’s gift of Salvation.
  2. My in-laws for creating my beautiful wife.
  3. My wife for putting up with my busy schedule.
  4. The privilege to raise children.
  5. Henry Ford and others who created the first automobiles.(Imagine what horseback transportation would look like with three children)
  6. Farmers who grow fresh produce for our families.
  7. Soldiers who fight for our freedom.
  8. Police, fire fighters and first responders.
  9. Food service industry people who get up before sun rise to prepare breakfast, so I don’t have to starve until lunch.
  10. My parents for sitting in sub-freezing temperatures to watch my teams compete.

The list could go on and on. My point is how many times a day do we think about what great things are going on in our life and the many blessings we are provided.

Are you an optimist who looks at the cup half full or a pessimist that looks at the cup half empty? Maybe a better question is what have you complained about today? Would your list of things that you have complained about be larger than the list of things that you are thankful for?

Somewhere today a waitress is getting harsh treatment from her customers: The coffee is cold, the food is taking too long, my grits don’t have cheese in them, the menu said the dressing was Zesty Italian and I’m not tasting any zest.

What you don’t know is that this waitress is a single mother who is asking management for double the tables to put food on the table for three kids, pay childcare, and keep from being evicted from another rental property. Her dead beat ex husband hasn’t helped with any of the recent medical bills that have added up due to little Suzy being diagnosed with Type I diabetes.

I’m thankful for her efforts and other like hers to try and make a better life for her children. It doesn’t hurt that by us dining at establishments like this we don’t have to wash dishes or clean up food particles that are meticulously placed all over our house after a sit down dinner at our home.

Somewhere someone is complaining about having to go to work today. Aren’t you glad you have a job to go to? I’m sure the homeless man standing in front of wal-mart asking for spare change would love to have that opportunity.

An athlete is disgruntled because football practice is still on for today, even after the three inches of rain that dropped thirty minutes before school was dismissed. Think about the kid who tore his ACL the practice before the first game of his senior season and will never play another down of football in practice or a game. He would love the opportunity to suit up for one more practice.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 states “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Circumstances will not always be ideal, but in those times God has put you in the situation for a reason. A failed relationship now results in meeting the woman of your dreams later. A flat tire that caused you to be thirty minutes late for work may have saved you from hitting a deer a mile away from your house. Be thankful for all things, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.

Keep Up the Great Work

 

“I’m proud of you,” a statement that isn’t used enough. I find myself being too much of a perfectionist on certain things and in doing so sometimes I miss the small battles that are being won around me each day.

As a coach, we preach to kids “never be satisfied,” meaning that we should always strive for better results or continuing improvement. Most elite athletes can be characterized into two different categories: complacent and unworthy.

Complacent athletes have been told all of their life how good they are and the extra work needed isn’t necessary because they will always be the cream of the crop. The results will be shown just because of their God given talent.

Unworthy athletes are those that feel as if whatever accomplishments they have conquered are not good enough. These are the people that even if they are hitting .575, they will be the last one at practice taking extra reps to bump the average just a few more points. These are the athletes that coaches love to coach, because they are never satisfied. However, these type of people will be the hardest on themselves and ultimately this can affect their production on and off the field.

So, in short we have to find a balance somewhere in the middle of having these unrealistic expectations and complacency.

Parents and coaches are pivotal in the growth and mindset of their children or their players. Growing up some kids face harsh criticism from both and this adversely effects the attitude towards the sport. Some kids will hear a parent in the stands or the car ride home will be filled with things that could have been done differently. In some cases the coach gives only criticism and very seldom gives any praise. This creates a fear of disappointment and the athlete’s performance most of the time will decline as a result.

Sadly, through all the experiences of coaching I have been that guy that was more critical than uplifting. Several years into my career a group of parents changed my way of thinking. They cheered loudly for everyone on the team, a negative comment didn’t come from their mouth about their kids or any other kid, the score could have been 25-0 and they still were encouraging our kids to do their best. We also had a group that didn’t have the same attitude and mostly negative comments were made from their area in the stands. So, I thanked this positive group and in sarcasm towards the negative group started making positive comments about every aspect of the game. This could have been a routine play or a strikeout that was a really good swing, but the kid just missed the ball. Something changed during that year the attitude of team changed and the results on the field were amazing for this group. We went on to be very successful. I can’t link it directly to the change of my attitude, but it couldn’t have hurt.

No matter how many reps that have been taken, athletes are going to make mistakes. I’ve never met one athlete that tried to strike out intentionally or missed a ground ball just to miss it.

My point to all this is to say, telling a kid how proud of them you are will go a long way. As long as they are putting in the work and are giving the best effort they possibly can some form of praise should be given.

To my team, I am proud of the effort you have given to this point to become better softball players and better young woman. I am proud of the resiliency that you have shown in practice and in the games when things are not easy. I am proud to be your coach, because of the way you play the game with no restrain. I am proud of the way you encourage each other and put others needs ahead of your own. I am proud of the excitement that you have created in this community because of the way you play the game. I am proud to wear the W across my chest because of what you are doing to carry on traditions set forth by groups behind you and for others to follow in the future. I am proud to be a “Wicksburg Panther.”

Crony

“Friend” defined by Webster has several definitions: a favored companion, one attached to another by affection or esteem, acquaintance, or one of the same group.

My high school football coach used the term “Crony.”

Most of us have that one person you can relate to because of similar backgrounds or common beliefs. These people have characteristics that attract us to them. It could be that they are fun to be around, they are a good listener, they are trustworthy or they are always there for you in a pinch.

I can remember childhood friends that great memories were shared with. Waking up to a foot of snow in South Alabama and building snowmen and having snow ball fights was unforgettable. Playing pick up basketball games and whiffle ball games in the backyard was a daily afternoon routine.

At a young age, one of my best friends’ dad passed away in a helicopter accident. Their family was originally from Iowa and they were stationed at Fort Rucker at the time. They lived less than fifty yards away from the house I grew up in. I stayed at their house often and I was saddened by the news. A few weeks after the accident, I found out that they would be moving back to Iowa where his parents were from. It was like a scene from a movie, I watched as they pulled out of the driveway for the last time as tears rolled down my face.

At some point comes the awkward stage of the teenage years. During this time, some of those childhood friends would remain, but often times with differing interests many of those relationships faded away. Again in this time of my life many fond memories were made: bus rides to ball games, bleeding, sweating and crying on the battlefield of high school sports, and well let’s say a lot of other things that I’m glad camera phones weren’t around for.

Some of us went to college. Some went into the workforce, and after high school more of those friendships faded. It’s hard for young minds to understand that they spend so much time trying to make people like them or to have the most friends. Many people want to just be a part of something. When in reality those same people you are trying to impress will not be significant in your life in ten years.

The few true friendships that remain as an adult have endured it all. The heartache of a lost loved one, the birth of your children, the night when adversity strikes and they know just the right words, or when your child does something terrible but hilarious and you can’t wait to tell your best friend because you wondered fifteen years earlier what your kids would be like.

Hold tight to those people that are your friend because they love you with no strings attached. This may be a childhood friend who has lasted all of those disagreements, but still loves you unconditionally. This also could be a person that is some older than you, but more experienced(they will tell you what you need to know, not what you want to hear). This person may be someone you’ve only known a short time, but has never betrayed your trust and keeps your biggest secrets. Lastly, it’s that person that will help you transport your belongings every time you move, even if it is five times in the last four years.

Think of that special person in your life and be that kind of friend this week.

Everyday Love

Would your romantic evening consist of dining at a fancy restaurant with soft music being played by a small band, the lights are dim and the items on the menu are too hard for you to pronounce? Would it be a picnic dinner at a local park with lighting provided by the reflection of the moon on a pond? Would it be something simpler, like a candle light dinner at the waffle house? Would you imagine a home cooked meal at your home, candles and rose petals leading you to a bubble bath in the master bedroom?

Valentine’s Day is a romantic celebration of love in many regions of the world. Although it isn’t a national holiday, many people celebrate by buying gifts and spending quality time with their significant other. Commercially, millions of dollars are spent on cards, flowers, candy and other items related to Valentine’s Day.

My point is that people often times go out of their way to show love to someone on this one day of the year. According to a recent survey, people will spend almost twenty billion dollars on Valentine’s Day this year.

Romance has many faces and our opinions and preferences vary from person to person or couple to couple. Showing love isn’t a one day a year thing and wooing your significant other should be a daily ritual. Divorces would most likely decline in our country if we spent the days of our marriages trying to win our spouses like we did when we were dating. I’m preaching to the choir. In the business of life sometimes we get wrapped up in life, work, kids, and our spouses get the short end of the stick when it comes to our attention.

But give credit where credit is due, my wife hits it out of the park on every day.  This is what romance looks like in our house.

Dinner is on the stove, man it smells delicious. I know dinner is what happens in most households during the evening hours. The sounds of the kitchen don’t reflect the majesty of what has been prepared. While preparing a meal, one child is screaming “Hold Me,” another is banging pots on the floor, and the oldest is oblivious to any of his surroundings due to the volume of the television show he is watching. So this is “Romance” in my house.

We are lying in bed with one, sometimes two and even three children, the television is on. One child is screaming “CUP,” another is screaming “PACI,” and again the oldest is zoned out due to the volume on the television. My wife grabs my hand and squeezes it and says “I Love You.” This is “Romance” in my house.

It’s 2017 on Valentine’s Day, three children at the ballpark. Our oldest has baseball practice. We have pizza and our two other children with us on a picnic dinner, sitting in the bleachers watching the baseballs being hit or thrown. This is “Romance” in my house.

It’s Christmas, Father’s Day, Anniversary, or a Birthday. My wife has to shop while trying to herd the three children and make sure they aren’t pulling each other’s’ hair out or stuffing a foreign object in an ear or nose. After securing the perfect gift for her loving husband, she anxiously awaits the day to come to surprise him. When all of a sudden, the three old exclaims, “Daddy, I hope you like the wallet we got you.” This is “Romance” in our house.

In life things can get crazy, your partner can get pushed to the side for other things. This is sometimes unintentional and may be for very good reason in your eyes. But this is not the case in my house because “Romance’ is given through all the hard work, the effort to make me feel amazing in the midst of our crazy busy schedule.

Amanda, if you were a football team, you would be the Alabama Crimson Tide, because you are a “Champion” in my eyes.  I love you, Happy Valentine’s Day!

A Morning Hug

Are you in a profession that deals with people? How well do you deal with customers in you field of expertise? How does it make you feel when someone asks you what seems like a thousand questions? What about cleaning up after your customers? Finally, when you have to repeat yourself over and over, how does that make you feel?

Do you feel like you were given the proper training to deal with the people you interact with each day? Were there strategies given to deal with the unhappy customer, the unruly parent, or the people you can not please no matter how hard you try?

With five years of college and twelve years of experience, you would think that I would have reached professional status in my line of work.

Not so fast! No amount of classroom work, observation hours, or internships can prepare you for interacting with roughly seventy kindergarteners on a daily basis. I am an elementary physical education teacher if you were curious.

There are times when answers to the same question are given numerous times. Also, there are times when even after those questions are answered, you get a blank stare. What the heck are you talking about? This guy has lost his mind. At times, there could be dirt, grass, paper, food, throw up or pretty much any other substance on a gym floor that has to be cleaned. There are times when these kids are upset because they are sick, miss their mommy, or because they have fell and injured themselves. They also have many stories to tell, we could spend the entire allotted time for exercise and games talking about each students daily activities at school or at home. “My mom has a baby in her stomach, coach, did you know I was Spider-Man, I got a new puppy, Johnnie threw up at the lunch table,” are examples of things that can be heard on any given day.

However, adults could learn a lot from a group of five year olds. When students exit their buses at least one kid graciously gives me a hug to start my day. Throughout the day, at least ten or twelve more will follow. Rarely a day goes by that a child doesn’t tell me they love me. Also, I’ve been told I was a “legend” and the best pe teacher ever. Regularly, students tell me how they like my shoes, clothes, hat, whistle, sunglasses, facial hair, watch, fingernails. You get the point. Sometimes I think it’s a competition.

John 13:34-35 states, “A new command I give you: Love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Interactions with your customers, the people you work with, family and friends is a direct reflection of your heart. Sure, we all have those days, but we could learn a lot from a group of five year olds about loving one another unconditionally, no matter their background, socioeconomic status, race, religion, gender or what they can offer in return for our love.