October

For our anniversary a few years back, my wife invested in a few rocking chairs for our front porch. They are a shade of green resembling the color of Mike, the one-eyed creature featured in the movie Monsters, Inc. Probably not my first choice of colors which brings me to the idea that this gift may have been one of those “US” presents. This means she was dying to have decorative chairs on our front porch and our anniversary was a great excuse to purchase them. Either way they have come into some use by our family when you can stand to sit outside for more than a few minutes. If you were somehow oblivious to the calendar system, we are currently knocking on October’s door, but stuck in July temperatures. The heat is still so bad in South Alabama that we have resorted to using non-stick cooking spray on our vehicle seats to keep our legs from becoming one with the leather.

Back to the chairs. I sat on the porch one afternoon this week and noticed a cloud of dust forming down our country road. The dust started small as if someone had just exited a dirt road, but as the minutes passed the view of neighboring structures grew more and more dim. A visitor to our area may have concerns for their safety due to the limited view on the roadways. Could it be some sort of meteorological phenomenon? A crew of roughneck cowboys riding horses through the countryside? What about Tremors (for the newer generation an early 90’s movie)?

The real reason for the giant dirt cloud is its peanut picking time in Houston County. A staple to the area known as the “Peanut Capital of the World.” An industry that has provided employment and income for many families in the Wiregrass area for years. If you’ve never indulged in a boiled ”goober” as some southerners call them, you haven’t actually lived life yet.

The cloud of dust for me personally brings about a sense of gratitude for the hardworking farmers of the area. But on this day while rocking on the front porch, the cloud of dust takes me back to a coach pitch baseball game. Thirty years ago, the pinnacle of my athletic career occurred on a ball that barely made it out of the infield. The crowd roared with the touching of each base. The game was tied and if I scored we would take home the victory. As I rounded third base, another young lad sprinted towards the plate. In a photo finish resembling the “Sid Bream Play at the Plate” in the 1992 National League Division Championship. The umpire emerged from a cloud of dust with a booming SAFE shout and signal. The Enterprise “Mets” had won the game. Our coach met me at the plate with hugs and high fives. The love for baseball began in that instant.

This week is a holiday in our family, the baseball playoffs are starting. Activities in our house that revolve around baseball include: a miniature baseball field in our back yard, trips to watch the Atlanta Braves, recent inquiries regarding a new cable provider with Dish Network discontinuing Fox Sport South (The Braves Network),  random games of whiffle ball or home run derbies and baseball gloves have a permanent spot in our vehicles. When I have drifted into an awakened state of deep concentration, my wife need not be concerned. No wandering of the mind here, just thoughts of why the Braves haven’t traded for a big name closer or if I could beat the “Freeze” between innings at one of their games.

Time has moved quickly. The dust has settled. My cleats have been retired for a number of years. We have a teenager now. When memories are all that are left from a time long passed, may there be an abundance of hugs, love, high fives, peanut boils, afternoon baseball games, concession food and laughter, plenty of laughter, when reflecting on our time together. Love, DAD

He Escaped

Came home today to one of our German Short-Haired Pointers on the outside of our privacy fence. He had dug himself a little tunnel and had escaped into the freedom of the neighbor’s yard. Free at last, free at last! 

You would’ve thought “Luke would have been frolicking about with no care in the world, finally set free from the captivity of our half acre fenced in back yard. Did I mention the area is fully furnished with portable lawn cushions randomly spaced out throughout the yard? No matter how many times you place them neatly back in the seat of the chair, Luke and his counterparts place them strategically where it suits them best. 

My wife thinks that water evaporates at a stunning rate. Just last week, I looked into the back yard in amazement. There had to be at least seven or eight of our finest mixing bowls lined up for the purpose of proper hydration for our four-legged friends. I’m talking about wedding presents that have been in the family for seven years or so. She used to panic when the kids dropped one of our finest forks on the floor. When I say finest, I mean not the plastic ones. But now we are using some of our better kitchen items as chew toys for her babies. 

Either way, the dogs aren’t staying at the King George Palace, but I would say it is a step up from the Motel 6. I didn’t have a clue what the King George Palace was until about five minutes ago, thanks to google. 

The funny thing is when I found the puppy, he wasn’t actually trying to explore new areas of the neighborhood. He was literally trying to re-enter the way that he had escaped and barking frantically because he was having trouble in doing so. I can only imagine what might’ve been going through his head at the time: my friends are still stuck inside, I won’t have partners that will help me tear every piece of cotton out of those stuffed animals, one of my brothers will surely pee in my designated area. I must return to the gated community. 

The gated community is Luke’s safe zone. He knows his momma is going to feed him, bath him, provide him with just as many toys as her biological children and provide all the nurturing he will ever need. He was deathly afraid of what might exist on the outside of that wooden fence. 

How many times in our personal life have we played it safe because we were afraid of the unknown? Do we put God in a box so to speak on what he can do through us? Lord, I will do this but only if the situation is just right. Lord, give me a sign but make sure it is your voice coming through my car stereo telling me exactly what you want me to do, step-by-step. 

Get out of the backyard today and allow the spirit to guide you to further his kingdom. 

 

Dreaming

My children were getting ready for bed tonight and occasionally this time can turn into a stressful time for the old folks of the house. What kid wants to go to bed with the sun still providing enough light from the horizon to see the path between our house and the neighbors? So much fun to be had. Well, tonight the man of the house was accredited the task of calming the kids down and preparing them for a short hibernation of sorts. Did you know according to the journals my wife has reviewed a child needs like twenty-four hours of sleep every two days? Ultimately, I allowed the kids to play duck, duck, goose in the area of what equates to a shopping cart on my son’s twin sized bed as well as a few tackling drills with their replica University of Alabama football helmets. We narrowly missed the chairperson of the NCAA committee that handles unauthorized practices. Although it would have been a minor infraction, no one wants to see her get angry. 

Currently the house is quiet, each member of the household other than myself has retired for the night. As they have drifted off into a deep sleep, I hope their dreams are of fun events such as the pre-sleep shenanigans that I was blessed to be a part oftonight. 

Dreams have always found a way of eluding me from the time they actually take place until I get the first bit of caffeine as the day begins. I decided to solve this problem by writing down some of these images as I woke up throughout the night. Those small notes would jog my memory of the occurrences that took place overnight in the attic sitting atop of my shoulders. 

The notes section on my iPhone is filling up fast by the way.  A psychologist somewhere would have a field day with these hallucinations. 

A crisp fall Friday night in Alabama involves stores shuttingdown early and mommas praying harder than usual for their babies as they strap on the protective gear involved with High School Football. This particular game seemed more important than most that I had played or coached in. You see I traded in my helmet and shoulder pads in some time ago for a whistle and a play sheet. This Friday night wasn’t much different than the past fourteen years of coaching other than the setting seemed a lot bigger than the normal 3A high school football stadium. But yet it still seemed familiar. As we continued to prepare for the upcoming contest, I realized the stadium was in fact Bryant Denny Stadium, the home of the Crimson Tide. 

In the process of our team warming up a transformation of sorts took place as I headed to the locker room and returned with my own set of pads on, cleats tied up tight and helmet in hand. Anticipation began to build as the referees called for the captains and the opening kickoff marked the start of an unforgettable experience. 

As the seconds on the game clock ticked away marking the end of the first half, the coach looked my way and motioned for me to enter the game. The signal came in and I took the snap, dropped back to pass and delivered a strike to an open receiver. The crowds’ cheers were deafening and as I approached my teammate to celebrate, I realized it was one of my fifth-grade students who had been on the receiving end of the half ending touchdown pass. 

As the team headed up for the inspirational words from our head coach, I was distracted by a gorgeous young woman who was waving at me from the players tunnel of the stadium. Instead of heading to the locker room, my wife and I visited the concession stand and shared a bowl of the finest chili to touch my lips. We shared a quick hug and kiss before I ran off to be with the team. 

And just when the suspense had started to build the alarm clock started blaring in one ear and our overenergized pointer began barking in the other to inform us of the immediate need to exit the back door. 

By no means am I a professional dream interpreter, but here area few takeaways: athletes take it all in. Some twenty years later I’m still dreaming about competing and memories made with teammates. Teachers cannot just flip a switch when they leave the school campus for the day and forget about the students that they come in contact with each day. Many hours of planning and prayer go into decisions made to better our students. Football season is upon us as well as other sports. Coaches spend a lot of time with kids that they claim as their own even though there are no biological ties. Be grateful for the time these men and women invest. Coaches spouses are the glue that hold the family together while all the practices and games are going on and my wife is one of the biggest supporters of anything related to our teams. She also makes a tremendous bowl of chili.

 

Back to School

School in this area will be back in session in the next several weeks for almost everyone. My children are overly enthused about the opportunity to return to the building where they learn of equations, state capitals and sedimentary rocks. Actually, they are excited even if it is only brief to see friends and the fact that they have the opportunity to get a few new additions to the wardrobe and a new bookbag (I don’t see anything wrong with last years’ bookbag). My wife is now rolling her eyes in light of my opinion on bookbags.

 
Having a career in education for more than a decade has brought about many memorable moments, both good and bad. It would be deceptive of me to entertain the idea that all of my experiences while teaching have been “hunky-dory.” Regardless, there haven’t really been any majorly detestable personal scenarios, only “learning opportunities.”

 
One of the more recent favorable “learning opportunities” came about during a kindergarten physical education class. Surely each of you could envision the compelling environment that exists on an elementary school playground with 60-70 five- and six-year old’s. If not, let me be of assistance. There is an area outside the brick walls of the normal classroom where children feel “freedom” from the constant reminder to “be quiet’ and “stay seated” or “stay in line.” There are no desks, chalkboards or textbooks but to think that learning is not taking place would be silly. Think back to your childhood days in relation to P.E. class and fond memories probably exist involving slides, swings or climbing apparatuses.

 
On this particular day, a student was involved in what could have been a harmless accident or a rude act involving personal space. Either way there was sand and tears all over the young boy’s face. As he approached me with hope that I would be the fix-all in his current situation, I heard one of his classmates approach him with major concern and encouragement. His young friend asked if he had been pushed down as he brushed the dirt away from his face. Words were hard to make out through the moaning and sobbing as the young boy was still very upset. His accomplice was very clear with his response to the situation. He told his friend that if in fact he had been pushed down that if he would merely point out the perpetrator that he would “get them back” for his defeated comrade.

 
For those of you that were concerned that I allowed retaliation, that didn’t happen. Also, we don’t condone violence in our class. However, this was a great “learning opportunity.”

 
Parents: teach your kids to stand up for children that are being picked on or bullied in any way. Teach them that going along with it and not saying anything makes them just as guilty as the ones the actions are coming from. Teachers: form your own opinion about the students in your class. Don’t take the word of the teacher down the hall from you that is on the edge of retirement that can’t wait to hit the time clock one last time. Most likely the students in their class realize they aren’t entirely present and may not give the same effort that they would for a teacher that invests in their life. Don’t allow negativity to creep in before you have even taught the first class of the year. Students: Befriend those kids that seem to be loners. Treat others as you would like to be treated.

 
John 15:13 states, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Love is an action verb. On this day in a giant sandbox called the “playground” this child may not have learned the answer to some great mathematical equation; however, he did learn about love. He learned that regardless of the situation, he could at least rely on this one friend to go to battle with him.

Merica!!!!

Several weeks ago, a team returned from some pretty important games. Games that were won and lost by a matter of inches. A fluorescent yellow ball has a funny way of bouncing for you or against you. This team caught some of the breaks and the ball fell into their gloves.
Certain areas of this country called the U.S.A may have certain exposure from the media that things in our Great Nation are not in the most ideal of circumstances. In LA (Lower Alabama), people are still quite nice. Well, at least most of them.

People came to the games that day that hadn’t been to games in years. They didn’t even have relatives on the team. Most of the faithful fans had been at the complex all weekend long. The excitement built up with each win that this team may be the one to bring the first State Championship back to the rural school. Sadly, enough on the final day of the season the team came up a few games short of the bringing home a giant blue map of the state of Alabama.

If you are one of those negative Nancie’s that claim the world has fallen apart as we know it, take a look at “Merica” as we see it down in LA (Lower Alabama).
• Leading up to the team leaving for the big games, each child in the school greeted them in a “Send Off” where younger students looked on in amazement as they didn’t quite understand the purpose, but knew that these athletes were the coolest kids on the block on this day. Each little athlete dreamed of having school colors on walking with this group.
• A third-grade young boy with no ties to the program pulls one of the coaches off to the side the day that they would depart. “He said yal leaving for State today?” The coach answered, “yes sir.” The boy said, “we hope yal win the whole thing and we will be praying that you do.” Praise Jesus!
• Even though the team came up short and finished runner-up, most of the fans and parents stuck around to capture the moment. The team was kind of down and out about the loss, but there was no need to worry. The Principal of the school decided to try out her gymnastics skills to ensure a laugh out of the kids. She performed what resembled a front roll times two. If that wasn’t going to work one of the parents offered to show her hind parts to get a laugh. Only in “Merica”
• When the team traveled a few hours back to the school on the bus, they were greeted by a police escort in a neighboring town in an adjacent county. They were picked up when the counties changed over and escorted all the way back to their field. A field that had been their home away from home for five months. Sweat, tears and blood were shed on this field. On this night there would be few more tears shed. A lot of the community waited for their arrival. One young child commented, “this is like a parade Mommy.”
• As the team made their entrance, one of the players asked if they could practice one more time. Many days of preparation for competition were dread by so many, but now at the end of the road for this particular group realized that this team would never be the same. The moments and memories from this chapter in history were coming to an end.

There are many reasons I Love living in this Great Country, but rural communities in Lower Alabama has to be close to the top of the list. At times when traveling the county roads, it may feel as if you have stepped back in time through a capsule of sorts, but those people that live thirty minutes from the closest Piggly Wiggly still stand for the National Anthem, they bleed their high school colors, principals are willing to sacrifice their body to lighten the mood, and most importantly young children are taught to seek guidance from Jesus through Prayer(even about the outcome of a softball game).

Extra Mile

Extra Mile

In a one room church off the beaten path a congregation has come together, some young and some old. Paper fans are used instead of air conditioning or any type of modern-day relief from the summer heat. If you have heard of the purge of sin, this place is ideal for anyone entering to extract any perceived or unrecognized faults merely through the temperature in the building. The tall windows are open and the hymns can be heard for a good distance in the quiet of the country side. 

An energetic preacher tells stories and creates laughter from a lifetime of experiences. He begins to tell a story of Jewish Civilians who were forced to carry the Roman Soldiers baggage, mainly containing armor for one mile. The weight could range from eighty to over a hundred pounds. I’m not sure about you, but under even ideal conditions outside I have trouble some days carrying my body weight around let alone carrying what equals to a ten-year-old boy around as well. 

In Matthew 5 verse 41, Jesus is thought to have used this illustration to describe relationships with others. The verse states, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two.” The preacher describes our life today and how it is easy for us to do the minimal required, but when people see us not only carrying the baggage for one mile but two, they will notice the love of Christ in us. They will be drawn to find out more about the reasoning behind these nonessential signs of kindness. 

Several years ago, I walked out of the doors of this cozy country church dripping in sweat having listened to some of the same songs with tears in my eyes and listened to the same speaker who brought clarity through the gospel of Jesus Christ. A middle-aged couple followed me and my family out into the shaded courtyard of the church with a pad and pencil in hand.The man took my shoulder and pulled me to the side as his wife did the same with my wife and kids. Even though we were fairly new to this venue, they seemed to be genuine in their request for any of our prayer needs. It was as if I had known him for years as I poured out my heart, mainly about how my marriage seemed to be falling apart no matter how hard I tried to make things work. He started writing on his piece of paper and before we left, he wrote down my phone number and said a quick prayer before we departed. 

I’ve seen situations like this before. People seem to be sincere immediately and even a few days following, but within a few weeks they seem to have forgotten how desperate you were for their prayers to start with. But something was different. Week after week normally multiple times throughout the week a message would pop up concerning mine and my families’ well-being. While this was flattering, on the home front things seemed to be getting worse.

Never a negative thought came about during those conversations. Encouragement to stay the course and no matter how hard it may get to continue to pray and court my wife as if we had just started dating. Little did I know at the time that this man’s wife had been engaged in conversations with my bride at the same time. I can imagine this couple begging God to help this broken couple in a desperate time of need for their family. 

“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two.” A shining example of going the extra mile for someone that they barely knew has gone a long way. Ultimately their show of affection through their love for Jesus Christ has drawn us closer to each other and in our relationship with or Savior.

What will you do today to carry someone else’s baggage the extra mile?

 

 

Road Trip

There’s nothing I find more enjoyable than loading the truck bed with enough personal items from our house to ensure that if we came back and Lord forbid something had happened to our home that we could survive with what was packed by my lovely wife. If she could fit the custom designed kitchen table into the back seat, I’m sure that would be a part of our road trip rituals.
What is funny is every time you think, ok I have everything meticulously placed and have squeezed the last bag into a crevice that only it would fit, a new bag or cooler appears out of the garage door. Almost as if these items were dropping from the sky.
Another one that gets me every time is, ok babe I have everything packed and we are ready to go. One of our children decides that their life may not continue if they can’t have that favorite toy that is in their personal bag that is the closest to the cab underneath every other bag that has been thrown in. Reluctantly, I agree that the trip may start off on the wrong foot if their wish isn’t granted. Who wants to hear a three-year-old screaming, “I want my Doc McStuffin’s Phone” for thirty-five miles?
Finally, we are off and my wife volunteers to drive some of the trip to allow me some time to nap, scroll social media or maybe she really wanted someone else to referee the boxing match in the back seat. A twelve, four and three-year-old in the back seat of a pick up truck might resemble a cage match featured on WWE Wrestlemania. Your breath may or may not have come close to my side of the vehicle, allow me to scream for four and a half minutes. I want my cup and now that I have it, I realize the flavor Gatorade is not exactly what I wished for. Allow me to cry for a few minutes. Now, two are crying and they are trying to outdo the other to claim the trophy for the loudest squeals. During this time the twelve-year-old is now whining because he can’t concentrate on the Clash of Clans app on his phone that he has played for the entirety of the trip.
Once this has calmed down, I realize that the vehicle is moving from the solid double lines in the middle of the pavement to the single line near the side of the road and back and forth. If police were behind us, surely a field sobriety test would be in our future. As I glance to the drivers side my wife is fidgeting with hair that is now in her face, the seat is not exactly how she would like and the radio is either too loud or not loud enough according to how loud the children are.
Little did we realize in the midst of all the chaos there was a small-town police officer approaching from the opposite direction. My wife thinks that speed limit signs are merely suggested. When he approached the window and mentioned she was driving seventeen miles per hour over the speed limit, she must have given the young man in his early twenties some kind of look of desperation. As he returned with the license, insurance and registration in his hand, he looked to her and said please just slow down Mrs. Rainey. Might I mention that each time I’ve been pulled over whether for driving one mile per hour over the speed limit or twenty, I pulled away with a citation in hand.
What has been on my mind over the past few weeks is our time on this earth is short. Most of these scenarios could prove stressful and end in heated discussions amongst those involved. One day we will miss having our children in our vehicle when we leave for vacation. I guess we could look forward to uncontrollable body functions as we drive down the road or making sure our false teeth don’t disengage while hitting a pothole in the road. But for now, let’s cherish these times with each other. Even in the midst of major mayhem.

As you can tell this is one of our many road trip selfies.

Play the Game

Stars are brighter than normal. A long trek between rural towns in South Alabama is lit up by the constellations. The alignment of these stars provides a road map through the winding country roads where the street lights are non-existent.

A mustard yellow shaped vehicle weighing in at twenty-five thousand plus pounds winds through the open road. Up and down the valleys and across the long stretch of black pavement that connects the farms of local legends.

These farmers were the prom kings, the quarterback and the ones voted most likely to succeed by the senior class. They followed a path that was laid out for them far before they had been thought of in their momma’s belly. A four-year degree just wasn’t in the cards. Some of them played baseball at the local community college, but realized in the process that the classroom wasn’t their cup of tea.

The driver of that “cheese wagon” hadn’t known anything but Crimson Tide Football and Atlanta Braves Baseball growing up. An average athlete that couldn’t cut it at the next level was selected to guide seventeen young men to the first state championship in school history.

They swept through the district with little concern. The first and second round of the high school playoffs were much of the same. Citizens of the one stop light town began to talk of a dream that had outlasted even the best of athletes up to this point. The no named pitcher that hadn’t been recruited had been unstoppable on the mound and the summer farmhands who loaded watermelons throughout the grueling months of June and July had become stronger. This created a lineup that would threaten the deep ball on nearly every pitch.

The mixture of diesel fuel burning from the exhaust of the bus along with red clay, body odor, Copenhagen Long Cut and fresh cut grass mixed the air. The smell was similar to any of the other nights, but the sounds heard on the long ride back were remotely different than the first two series of post season play. Normal bus rides upon returning from a successful road trip would include melodies mixed with AC/DC, Metallica and Garth Brooks. Stories were told of dates with the Homecoming Queen and how the timid right fielder mustered up the courage to ask the captain of the cheerleading squad out for a night on the town. But tonight, things were different.

The only sounds that could be heard were the racing of that Cummins Engine along with the crickets stationed along the sides of those country roads hiding in the Bahia Grass. Opportunity had come and gone for the home team favorite led by the humble young special education teacher.

Many aspects were contributing factors to the fall of the best 1-A team in the state. The old men at the filling station who met religiously at 6 am each morning had their thoughts mostly centered around strategic decisions of their fearless leader. He didn’t pitch the star freshman pitcher in the first game of the series and in the third inning the lead off batter forgot to tag up on a routine fly ball that cost them the tying run. Either way the town along with the team were heavy hearted because of the potential of the talented group that had been miraculously positioned together for that school year.

Common knowledge was apparent of the mistakes throughout the game. Nearly every business in the town had closed down early in the order for patrons to make the two and a half hour journey across state to watch history being made. However, not many knew the background story of what went on during the few weeks prior to the playoff run.

Johnny was the pitcher that had shut down the previous state championship team down in the first round of the playoffs. However, his girlfriend had starting slipping around with another boy during the long stretched out months of spring during the games and practices. Johnny found out the day before the series. Adam had his doubts about his skills, but his drunk dad kept those thoughts turning. He wasn’t worried about making mistakes to disappoint his coaches or teammates, only for the car ride home. Turns out the pressure was too much and he made three critical errors in the decisive game of the three-game series. Momma and Daddy always know best. Adam’s Dad who favored the bottle and another parent of one of the kids on the team had disagreed on who should be allowed to play shortstop for the remainder of the season. Adam and this other athlete began to push each other further and further away during practices, bus rides and games. They had been best friends since they had started their high school career on the junior varsity team.

Take advantage of the time left in your high school career. Don’t let outside influences effect the culture built by the leaders of and on your team. Have fun! Not many people will remember how many games you won, but the memories made while playing the game.

Letter to Senior Athlete

April 23, 2019
Dear Outgoing Senior,
As the season comes to an end, thank you for being a part of the softball program at Wicksburg High School. I hope that the season ends on a positive note with us winning as many games as possible. Because winning is nice. It is a good feeling. It feels like the whole world is yours, you can walk the halls of this school with your head held high the day after a win. But that feeling doesn’t last, it passes, but what lasts is the things you’ve learned. Life is what you have learned about. That’s what softball is really about.
In the game of softball, life is played out every afternoon. The misery of a strikeout or loss, the joys of hitting a double and winning the game. There is no way of knowing which way the ball will bounce today or any other day. You may be the hero or you may not be a factor in the result today. Life will throw a lot at you. Some days you will be on the top of the world and some days you will feel like the scum of the earth. So how do you attack the game of life? Take it one day at a time, do your best, take what comes at you and do the best you can. If you strike out, there will be another opportunity. Take the next pitch or opportunity and do your best.
Take what comes at you and run with it. Sometimes there may be long days of sadness where it feels like you are striking out every day, but don’t give up. Never giving up is the point to playing the game of softball and in life. Wanting to win and never being satisfied with what you did yesterday is the point. The game is never over, no matter what the scoreboard reads or what the referee says. It doesn’t end when you come off the field. The game of life isn’t over until your number is called. So, until that day live life to the fullest, treat others as you would like to be treated, trust the Lord with everything and pray to him about everything.
When we started this years’ journey we talked about “Chasing Big.” This phrase means in short to reach for dreams that others think unimaginable. To be the biggest version of you on a daily basis and to make others around you reach their full potential. We have required this type of mindset throughout this season and hope that this proves pivotal in your adult life. I can say without a blink of an eye that I trust you will continue the hard work you have demonstrated on and off the field as well as the classroom in the upcoming years.
Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 Leave your mark and always leave a situation better than you found it. I love you and consider you a part of our family. Come back to see us often and keep in touch.
Sincerely,
Your Coach

Passing Notes

I read an article today that triggered a memory of a childhood assignment from a thoughtful elementary teacher who would have made the pinterest Top Ten ideas, if there is a such a thing. We were supposed to send a note across the country via a balloon filled with helium. A great idea that could be explained through some sort of fancy science vocabulary words. 

The information in the story provided a heart felt story of a daughter who had lost her father and desperately wanted to communicate with him. Obviously, this is complicated but her mom encouraged her to use a note and a balloon to send her dad the thoughts she wanted to share with him. 

Someone ended up finding the balloon four hundred miles away in the next few days. The recipient reached out to the teenage girl and offered support through gifts she had collected at the restaurant she owns. She was quoted saying “I believe the balloon came to me for a reason and you can make a difference in this world by doing small things for people.”

In my case a response was mailed to the school explaining who found the small piece of paper and a short bio of the happenings in their life. Who needs the postal service when you can send mail via a small rubber flexible bag filled with a colorless gaseous element? The accuracy would be the only aspect in question. Can you imagine trying to explain to the power company how you tried to send a payment through air mail and there must be some mistake to why they haven’t received the package. 

But what if it was this easy to communicate with the ones that have gone before us? What would you tell those people that you haven’t seen in weeks, months or years? Seems far fetched I know, but play along if only for a few minutes. 

Grandpa, you would be amazed how fast your great grandchildren are growing. They are smart little boogers with a hint of an attitude like your son. Some of their mischievous acts remind me of the stories you told me about dad peeing in an ash tray for some odd reason or how you two loved to play catch. You would be so proud Grandpa. 

Hey buddy, I can’t believe it’s been so long now. I think of you often and the fun times we had together. Still can’t wait to have that great birthday barbeque bash we had planned before you left us in the blink of an eye. That infectious smile still gives me a boost when things look hopeless. Man, I miss you so much.

I asked our youngest child what she would tell her uncle who recently passed if she could send him a note. She is three, but she brought tears to my eyes as she in the most genuine voice said, “Happy Birthday Uncle Russ.”

Twelve years ago today eight students and one adult were taken in a devastating tornado that destroyed areas of my hometownincluding the local high school. Navy blue balloons with notes to heaven addressed to these individuals would include things like: you aren’t forgotten, your story is still being told today, your testimony is still changing lives, the entire country knew of your story and laid out support to help your family and classmates, you are a hero, your legacy will live on long after this generation.