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Archive for the ‘Rocky Mountain High’ Category

It was a good summer. Lots of adventure. Lots of family time. Few lasting complaints. We’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…then…bring on the Fall. Are you ready (for some football?)

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…and then some…

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Loved every minute of it, and even more grateful for it.

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I took my love and I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around

And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
‘Till the landslide brought me down

As mentioned yesterday, we had an adventure, and a story yet to tell. That will come, in time, but as #1 son and I hoofed our way home yesterday, a flood of tunes library memories were conjured up as the music kept me alert and winging our way back home. Mark Shultz reminded me of the Sherpa. Fleetwood Mac, courtesy of Stevie Nicks’ songwriting, reminded me of our mountain trek team.

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older too

The Sherpa told us on the mountaintop Wednesday how nothing can live up that high. Jesus went to the mountaintop to be close to God, but came back down to minister and to serve.

As I have been home today and dealing with the return to daily life, a landslide of sorts is in motion. I suspect my younger trek companions are feeling the same as they awoke in their own beds earlier today. Laundry, cleaning out the car, or maybe mowing the lawn was in order? Or, was there even more? A loved one’s illness? News of a family in trouble? Knowing that you go into an office full of week old tasks come Monday?

As a child, camp was always an emotional time: good emotional. Coming down off that high was always tough. This week’s mountain experience has been much the same. As an adult, coming down from the Rocky Mountain high is bittersweet, but not all that hard. I’ve been down this road before, and there are potential rewards around every turn, even at 1,000 feet above sea level.

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I, I built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older too
I’m getting older too

So, take my love, take it down
Oh climb a mountain and turn around
If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well the landslide will bring you down, down

And If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well maybe the landslide will bring it down
Oh oh, the landslide will bring it down

Landslides can be good. Emotional landslides can bring us back to a level where the air is richer and the living is fuller. Take heart. Mountaintops are going nowhere fast. You will ascend once again. God promises just that. John 14:1-3: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

So, take my love, take it down
Oh climb a mountain and turn around….

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That was different.   I seldom have felt such a sensation.   Maybe during my brief football two-a-days experience as a person 1/3 of my current age?   Maybe, and brief was the experience, indeed, possibly for just this very reason.   Air: it hurt to want more air, and I now need to get more used to it.

Thirty flights of stairs with a 35 pound backpack,  followed by a brief one mile “cool down”.   It is a start, I hope.

I am blessed to not be asthmatic like several that I know and love.   I cannot relate to their moments of pain and panic, as this was maybe barely even a glimpse, and the power to make it stop was all mine.

It is a start.   I need air.   I need to need more air, for the “fourteener” moments of next month will not allow me to make the pain go away.

Oh, well.   No matter the pain, perhaps my feet are looking like I belong…

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It’s graduation weekend in Edmond, America, and you know what that means: hitting the reception circuit. So many kids, so many cake/punch/hors doerves opportunities, so little time/so little stomach space. And memories: so many memories. How could they have all grown up so fast? It seems like just yesterday that Baby H graduated; I think it always will. Babies A and B start HS soon, and you can only wonder where the years are going.

After completing our Saturday reception circuit (there are more to come on Sunday), we stopped at one family’s house to drop off a little graduation gift. As the young lady turned to go back into the house, it hit me: I had coached this girl as a 6th grader on H’s basketball team, way back when. It could only have been yesterday, it seems.

A basketball coach, I am not, and yet this time afforded me the first of several opportunities to coach each of my kids in the fine sport of round ball.

This was a small church based league, with only about 4 or 5 teams total, 6 girls on each team. Accordingly, we played each team at least twice in a simple 8 game season. As those teams go, we were OK. We had a couple of decent players, and then just a few girls who wanted to have fun. We won a game or two, and we lost a couple of games. One of the losses was quite one sided, as that team had set up an elaborate (for this league) half court line screen offense. This was a “color wrist band” man defense only league, so the screen effectively freed up the point guard to go shoot a layup almost every time down the court. “Help Defense”, as it is referred to, was a foreign concept to these girls as they chased their matching color around the court, and I was not sure the rules would even allow it.

In a “let’s have fun and grow in mind, body, and spirit” league, this loss still hurt. It felt like the other team took unfair advantage. So, I did what any red blooded American male would do in that situation: I appealed to the league office! My question was simple: can we “switch” defenders when running up against that type of offense? After some discussion, the answer was yes. It was game on: time to begin preparing for the upcoming rematch.

This league only allowed one practice for an hour a week, and you only got a half court for that. But, the girls seemed to understand the concept of our new defensive strategy. At it’s heart was one word: “SWITCH!”. Simply put, the girl whose color match set the screen would pick up the ball handler and stick with them until the other girl could get free and they could switch back.

The date for the rematch arrived, and my girls were practiced and ready. As the game began, the other team complained “they can’t do that”. But, the ref/commissioner explained to them that, with the type of offense they ran, we could. “Do that”, we did. It worked beautifully. As they game wore on, we were behind, but began a comeback in the last few minutes of the second half.

With only seconds remaining and the game tied, we picked up a turnover and began to run back down the court. The gym was packed, as many had arrived for the game that was to follow. Every person was on their feet cheering, and the roar felt almost deafening, relatively speaking. My heart still races today when I think about the moment, 6 or 7 years later. As the clock fell below 10 seconds, we passed it to the girl on the right hand lower block (her name was Morgan, I think), she shot and scored, and time expired. We won, and had beaten the only undefeated team in the league. That team finished the year with only one loss: the one orchestrated by us.

We finished the season at 4-4, but that moment was our championship. Parents rushed the court and hugged their girls, and there were huge smiles all around. But the look on the opposing coach’s face as we shook hands was my “Lombardi” moment. We had changed our ways, we had adjusted, and we had overcome in a “that’s not fair” scenario.

So, back to graduation weekend. If I had any advice for Alex, that all grown up girl who just graduated, or anyone else, it would be that one thing: “SWITCH!”. Take what life throws at you, but don’t give up and accept it. Respond. Get advice (and buy in) from important friends. Adjust. Change. Quit the things that are holding you back. Develop new habits. SWITCH.

As you have those late game moments in life, your heart racing, may this simple philosophy serve well. Make it a great life. The “cloud” crowd is cheering for you.

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I am preparing to participate in the upcoming OKC Memorial Half Marathon.  This will be a first for me.   I’ve gone from not exercising in years to participating in two 5k events during the past year, and my training has taken me up to about the 7 mile mark twice in the past two weeks. It feels good.   It has not only been life changing on the health front, but a has provided great time for reflection and clearing my mind.

Life is not a short sprint, it’s a marathon. I’m beginning to try out new ways to finish the race without getting injured or fatigued along the way.  But simply finishing the race is not a sufficient objective; “running (walking) with style and purpose” is.    

1 Corinthians 9:23-25 says: I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.   Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

In focusing on the long distance, I need to be aware of the landscape and the fellow runners inside each virtual mile.

So as I was training the other day, a few “walking moments” from my past came to mind, and I thought I’d briefly share what each has meant to me:

1) Plunking with Granddad – Howard Pope was legendary for his walks. My favorite ones were spent “plunking”: throwing rocks down into the deep creek across the street from his house and waiting to hear the splash (the “plunk”). It has been 35 years, but I can recall those moments like it was yesterday. Good memories.

2) Dove hunting with my Dad – in the “early years”, we lived out in the country and could simply walk across the street and go bird hunting. I’m not much of a hunter or fan of dealing with guns, but those were good times. Listening to my dad talk about things, watching our Fox Terrier plow thru the fields in search of game, and seeing the birds fall from the sky after my Dad spotted them and fired all replay in my mind’s eye. My son wants to learn to be a hunter. Gun lover, or not, it seems that these random walk moments may begin a new round of filming soon.

3) The stroll out to the fields with Coach Jackson – ever since I was about 12, I began walking fast everywhere I go. It’s called getting in a hurry, and it’s not always a good thing. Productivity of the mind and feet comes at the expense of seeing the sights going on around you. It was my 10th grade football coach, the man who got me started as a trainer or “athletic program assistant” (underpaid grunt who loves the game that he can’t play) who first pointed out that I walk “too fast”. “Slow down: you will get there. The game won’t start without us”. Good advice, and I still struggle with walking too fast today.

4) Trips across campus – not a lot to say on this one. As a college student, I fell in love with the OC campus on beautiful weather days, but I also recall enduring long distances in high winds and driving rain. Great metaphors for life. I still love the campus, and am blessed to walk it every day.

5) Singing in Europe – thank you, Ralph Burcham, for the draft notice.     The walks over several weeks in that summer of 1988, the time after college ended and before “life” began taught me several things:   a love of and fascination for Europe, the knowledge that there is life outside these United States, that we don’t have the monopoly on the world that I grew up believing, and that, quoting the later years words from “Finding Nemo”, we need to Just Keep Singing.   (OK, it was swimming, but it fit in nicely here)    The good Lord may not have given all of us a voice, but all of us have a song.     Whether you are tired, hungry, or “your feet are stained” (there’s a long story behind that phrase), you need to just keep singing.

6) Courting the girl – Ah, yes.  TCU.   Life on a real college campus.   That’s what she used to call it, anyway.     The academic bastion of the Southwest, I think it was?    Anyway, I digress.      Many a walk under the beautiful old oak trees, surviving a near skunk attack, and maybe even a kiss or two (shocking, I know) preceded the inevitable proposal to spend a lifetime together.     Fun times to remember.

7) Spatting with the girl – Yes, we have had a tiff, a time or two(shocking, I know) , but such is inevitable when spending a lifetime together.    Kind of like surviving a virtual skunk attack, not ever admitting who’s the skunk and who is the victim?    I’ll never tell.     Anyway, I digress.   The point is, when disagreeing, sometimes it is a good idea to step away from the “conversation” and go take a walk.    Clearing your head, understanding where you were wrong, and making a case for why she should let you back into the house are all good by-products of a nice walk on a cold winter’s night.

8) Strolling with baby(ies) – Yes, I have done this a time or two, as well.    I remember the first time like it was yesterday.     Baby H was screaming and hollering and would not settle down late at night, and after giving up on all other potential remedies, mom politely “suggested” that I take Baby out for a walk in the stroller, despite the fact that it was after 11:00 pm.     After about 20 minutes of strolling and her crying, the strangest thing happened.   She began to laugh.    I have a hard time remembering that babies do laugh, on occasion, but not this time.    I can still hear it, even now, 18+ years later.     I think she was laughing at me.     Years went by, and many a stroller walk, both the old “single” and the later “double” followed.     Maybe one day I’ll push a stroller again, this time with a GK instead of a simple K, and it will be OK if they laugh at me.

9) Working – I call 200+ of the best acres anywhere home between 8 am and sometime later than it should be every day, and I love it.   It comes with stress, but it also comes with joy in the challenge.   Academic bastion or not (and I would argue, it is, thank you very much) it’s my university, and I want it to succeed.     And yes, I do still tend to walk too fast in the course of a day.

10) Climbing Colorado – “Everybody needs a little time away…from each other”.     Those famous lines from a tune by Chicago, while taken out of context here, ring true in terms of the need for vacation and recharging.      And, I will argue, there are few places better to get away than the high altitudes of the mountains of Colorado.     “The girl” and I went there together after our wedding, and we are blessed to go back every couple of years with a group from church.     It’s an amazing part of God’s creation, and is often best enjoyed in the cool moments during sunrise.

So, back to the Memorial Marathon for a moment.   The theme for the marathon is “We Run to Remember” , and preparing for the event has helped me to do just that.     A few shout outs and thank you’s are in order here.    You see, I mentioned not having exercised in many years, and it was taking its toll on me, physically and mentally.    One day about this time last year, good friends and coworkers Neil, Sonya, and Darci showed up in my office on a Friday afternoon and said “we are not leaving until you sign up for TeamOC.   So I did.     When telling others of my commitment to the upcoming event, my friend  Ted said “don’t do it, you will only injure yourself”.     I owe those four a big thank you for getting me out of the chair and onto the treadmill, and subsequently on the streets walking and occasionally running.      I don’t know why I did not do it earlier, and it’s been a blessing.

As I was out doing a 6.55 mile outdoor prep one morning a couple of weeks ago, the path took me past the Baptist church whose longtime pastor had just been killed in a motorcycle accident.    It helped me to remember, mostly that life holds no guarantees, at least this mortally confined life, that is.

As I close up this marathon of memories today, the desire to just keep singing is there.    And an old song from the younger days is in my head.   Maybe it is the song I’ll be singing when it is too hard to do much walking.    If so, it should be a fund ride….Roll the Gospel Chariot along, and we won’t tag long behind…

 

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