For Love of the Game

Wow – This is the longest that I’ve gone without blogging. Where have I been? Good Question. On the Wednesday after Annual Conference, Caleb and I headed to Omaha, Nebraska to watch great baseball, and to follow the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. This is my fifth trip since 2002. We usually do things on the less expensive side so we usually stay at Lake Manawa Stake Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa just across the Missouri River from Omaha. Well, God bless the people up and down the Missouri because the flooding this year has been the worst in decades. Lake Manawa and it’s $11 a night fees was shut down because of it. We ended up staying at the West Omaha KOA for around $30 – still better than the $375 a night accommodations near TD Ameritrade Ballpark.

Just like last year when Caleb and I said that we would stay as long as the Gamecocks did, we ended up being there for 13 nights, went through horrific storms, tense close games and watched one extraordinary play after another to see South Carolina win back to back National Championships! Wow! Man, the 13-inning marathon against Virginia and getting out of bases-loaded jams was UNBELIEVABLE! We may not have had the best of anything except what won it for us – scrappiness! These guys have grit and they love the game. College baseball is the closest thing to a true sport in my opinion. Only a handful of players get any scholarship money. Most will never play for the Big Leagues. So why do they play? They play for love of the game.

Goodness, what if everybody did what they did for the love of the game – whatever the game, the calling, the job,  the hobby. Mediocre is not USC Baseball. Mediocre doesn’t make you just one of 6 teams to win back to back championships, or set a record for CWS or NCAA wins. “Medi” means “middle.” “Ocre” means “mountain.” Therefore, “Mediocre” means “halfway up the mountain.” My Daddy would have said it another way and, boy, was he a Gamecock fan! Nobody needs to settle for mediocre. Halfway doesn’t cut it! The Gamecock Baseball Team proved that ordinary can be extraordinary if  one gives their all, for love of the game! Go Gamecocks!

All Curses Are Dead

>

What a time Caleb and I had in Omaha for the College World Series. We promised each other that we would stay as long as Carolina was still in the hunt. Well, we’re home and the Gamecocks prevailed. USC has its National Championship, and the “Chicken Curse” is over! But, wait a minute – as a person of faith, hasn’t the Curse been over for a long time? Yes, it has! No matter what the problem or who the opponent is – The Curse is over! I think what made this USC team special is its non-superstar journeymen (Michael Roth; et. al.) and fun approach (Nick Ebert, Scott Wingo; et. al.) to being a team. These guys enjoyed each other and it showed. They broke the Chicken Curse through their relationship with something/someone(s) bigger than themselves.

I hope that I can live into that belief this week as I reconnect with folks in the UM Center, Columbia District churches and clergy, and continue to encourage our piece of United Methodism. I’m a bit tired after all of the Omaha and back driving; and then this past weekend, staying with Narice and Mike and having a blast with Enoch and Evy. They’re great, and Narcie is doing so well though our anxiety lingers. I just saw Caleb after being with him non-stop for 2 straight weeks. I’ve missed him and told him so. It’s good to reconnect with those that you love. Caleb has been living at home these past 4 years in Columbia and just graduated from USC. It’s been a saga and we’ve tried to maintain healthy distance in his personal life, but our 2 weeks in Omaha was absolutely wonderful. Sure, Narcie stayed on my mind, and Josh is great; but it was so good to just “be” with Caleb. It was good for our relationship.

Someone said you have to be relational to be relevant. Isn’t that the truth. If one wants to make a difference in a life, a country, or a community – you have to be connected, relational. As a family we have felt that through Narcie’s illness. I felt it in Omaha with Caleb and new found friends. I want to feel it in church, too, but I have to admit that’s a bigger task as a District Superintendent. I think it’s one of our biggest challenges for Christianity. Thanks to being a DS I think I kind of get it about those who stay home on Sundays because they’re so beat up by the work week. We have to make church a relational family, not an entertainment center or a dull dirty monument to yesteryear.

Personally, you guys are winning the battle for relational Christianity when it comes to me and mine. Sure, I don’t have one church or a church home, it’s more like 70 of them, but after 4 years of quality time with each clergy, multiple charge conferences, UMM Retreats and Events, UMW Events, and myriad meetings of every ilk; I feel connected to the entire Columbia District; and through the Connectional Table, SC Annual Conference, and the Worldwide UMC Study Committee, I feel as close as a phone call or email to our whole denomination. I am grateful for how relevant you all are because you have chosen to be relational with my family. Thank you! Thank you!

I am very grateful for Caleb choosing to reconnect and relate to his old man for 2 solid weeks of baseball and camping in Omaha, Nebraska. And, of course, we now relate to a bigger Gamecock Nation. There’s a lot of truth in the saying: There’s strength in numbers, and the song that says “reach out and touch someone” is playing in my head. Here’s to us on this Fourth of July weekend: E Pluribus Unum, “Out of Many, One.” You have to be relational to be relevant!