Friday, April 29, 2011

"I have no other place to turn"


To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)

"Previously on Fringe":

Walter is a scientist with a dark secret - one that drove him to mental illness. Years ago, he was a brash young scientist playing fast and loose with the laws of physics. His research led him to conduct drug experiments on young children, play with the minds of other test subjects, and ultimately to use his knowledge for an act of selfishness: After his son Peter's death, he  crossed over to a parallel universe and stole the son of his counterpart. (Yes, I know this sounds ridiculous.) The nature of such an action has caused the two universes to start disintegrating and now, as the result of his selfish act, an entire world will perish. Heady stuff.

Over the years, the consequences of his actions haunted Walter. He was always looking over his shoulder. He could see the world breaking down around him, and he knew it was his fault. Eventually his son Peter learned the truth, creating a fissure in their relationship that would be very difficult to overcome. And the more he tried to fix things, the worse they got. Finally he began to gain the wisdom that comes with humility, enabling him to make wise choices. It has become evident that one of those choices may be the need to sacrifice his son.
______________

So this wonderful TV show Fringe has brought us to the point where in last week's episode found the world falling apart, all because of what Walter had done. A machine activated by his evil counterpart on the other side (dubbed "Walternate"...clever, eh?) is poised to save their world by destroying ours, and Peter is the only one who can stop it. And in the process could likely die. Walter comes to the conclusion that he has to let go of his son in order to save the world, a theme that rang very familiar as the show aired on Good Friday.

But Walter is not God giving his son, he only played God with his scientific abuses. And so the plan didn't work. While trying to enter the machine and turn it off, Peter is knocked backwards and falls, oh, 20 or 30 feet to the ground. He is knocked unconscious. And as his life hangs in the balance, the historically agnostic Walter enters the hospital chapel, and we are treated to this amazing scene:

 

(I could watch that scene over and over - what an amazing actor John Noble is!)

And so we come back to the Scripture, the parable, at the beginning of this post. What is God looking for? Not pride, not self-reliance, not self-righteousness and a condescending attitude toward those who are different from us. That was the attitude of the Pharisee in Jesus' parable. And the attitude of Walter for most of his life - not religious self-righteousness but arrogance and self-righteousness just the same.

No, God is looking for humility. An awareness that we are not in control and have no idea how to fix our lives...or our world. That all our efforts, all our schemes, all our knowledge will fall short if he is not involved. That "Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain." (Psalm 127:1)

Watch the scene again. This is where Walter has finally arrived. He has done everything in his power to try and undo his crimes (or sins) against nature and is finally asking for help from the only one who can. "I have no other place to turn." That is a powerful statement. And it's true for me, and for all of us. We just don't know it most of the time, especially when things are going well.

And look back at the parable. "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." Yep...he has no other place to turn. and neither do we.

As we sit here in the wake of the unspeakable tragedy that has hit our state, our world seems to be crumbling around us as well. Truly, God, we have no other place to turn. I pray that we will depend on you in this time of rebuilding and restoration that is beginning. And I pray even more fervently that we will continue to depend on you when that day comes where things seem alright again.

The next episode of this amazing show airs tonight. I can hardly wait to see what happens next. How will Walter's prayer be answered? Which world will survive - either? Both? What will happen to Walter, Peter, Olivia, and other characters whom I haven't mentioned? Whatever happens, I expect to be on the edge of my seat and to again be thinking about the greater themes of life. Because that's what good stories do.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 27, 2011

A date that will be remembered in Alabama for decades.

Today a storm system of almost unbelievable magnitude moved through our state. As I write this, it is still moving, and the damage is incredible. People have died and homes have been destroyed.

Most of the damage to this point seems to be focused in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. And that's why this blog post is so personal to me. As a powerful, powerful tornado blew through T-town, my thoughts and prayers were focused on loved ones and friends there. Three nieces (whom I have written about often on this site) are students there and prayers for their safety were paramount at around 5:00. Text and social media helped me stay updated. It was a scary time.

The images and reports that are being posted now emphasize that it was indeed that bad. Check out this link to video of damage from the corner of McFarland and 15th in Tuscaloosa. If you know the area like I do, these images are hard to take in.

Incredible.

So I am am flooded with a mixture of thoughts and emotions:
  • I was reminded of what it's like to be scared for people I love.
  • I am so thankful that they escaped the wrath of the tornado.
  • My heart is heavy for those who were not so fortunate. Those who lost their homes, their businesses, their lives, and lives of people they love.
It is a sad day in our state, and a day that should remind us how much we need each other. May those who are about to have to put their lives back together feel God's love. And may the rest of us be the ones to make that happen.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He's alive and I'm forgiven...

Christmas is a great celebration and alot of fun. I love Thanksgiving. But this is my favorite holiday weekend...even though from a work standpoint, it's not even a holiday. Why?

  • God showed his love for me through the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus' death on the cross. Through the cross, he has showered me with mercy (withholding punishment that I deserve) and grace (giving me blessings I don't).
  • On the third day Jesus burst through the gates of death, defeating the grave for all time demonstrating God's acceptance of his Good Friday sacrifice.
  • Because of this event, I can have life as it was intended now and life with him forever.
I really can't put it into words. So here, in song, is why I love Easter:


In the words of Isaac Watts:

Were the whole realm of nature mine, 
That were an offering far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

History of us

Tomorrow I board a plane back to my home and I am so looking forward to it. I will sleep in my own bed, see my father, sisters and other family whom I miss terribly, visit with friends I haven't seen in way too long, and this weekend will celebrate the greatest event in history at my home church.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy traveling, whether it's for work or fun (or both). There's something amazing about getting to see other parts of the world and spend time with people very different from me. But there really is no place like home. So as I sit in a Dublin hotel room one sleep away from that trip home, I can't help but look back over the last 10 days or so as well as all my previous trips to this continent. And when I do think back, it brings to mind my favorite Indigo Girls song. History of Us.

Over the last 9 years, I have been blessed to see most of the places that inspired this song, and some not mentioned but dripping with the spirit of it. It is sobering to see structures over 1,000 years old as well as paintings and sculptures created before our country was even imagined. The Sistine Chapel and the Coliseum in Rome. Michelangelo's David in Florence. The Mona Lisa in Paris. All reminders of one inescapable truth: Life is short, history is long, and our time on earth will be nothing but history. Here is what Indigo Girls sang about it. Listen if you will, and follow along with the lyrics below.



Lyrics:

I went all the way to Paris to forget your face
Captured in stained glass, young lives long since passed
Statues of lovers every place
I went all across the continent to relieve this restless love
I walked through the ruins, icons of glory
Smashed by the bombs from above

So we must love while these moments are still called today
Take part in the pain of this passion play
Stretching our youth as we must, until we are ashes to dust
Until time makes history of us

Jeu de Paume's full of faces knowing peace, knowing strife
Leisure and toil, still it's canvas and oil
There's just no medium for life
In the midst of the rubble I felt a sense of rebirth
In a dusty cathedral the living God called
And I prayed for my life here on earth

So we must love while these moments are still called today
Take part in the pain of this passion play
Stretching our youth as we must, until we are ashes to dust
Until time makes history of us

There are mountains in Switzerland, brilliant cold as they stand
From my hotel room, watching the half-moon
Bleeding its light like a lamb
And the town is illumined, its tiny figures are fast asleep
And it dawns on me the time is upon me
To return to the flock I must keep

So we must love while these moments are still called today
Take part in the pain of this passion play
Stretching our youth as we must, until we are ashes to dust
Until time makes history of us
How does that song make you feel? I am sure that for most of the world, it is a very sad and even depressing piece of music. Who wants to be reminded not only that life is short, but that in a relatively short time it will be ancient history? But it's not depressing to me. It's not because it reminds me of what is really important in life. About what matters and will last forever. People.

Yes, much in the song points to the apparent futility of life. In them we see that under the sun, everything seems to be meaningless.

  • Paris's museums are full of images of lovers who are long gone, and even the images have been smashed by the bombs of two world wars. Romantic love doesn't bring lasting happiness.
  • The paintings are just canvas and oil and cannot possibly capture what people of history have really gone through. Their problems and joys were just as real to them as ours are to us. And they're over.
  • Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We will all (if we are lucky) grow old, trying to stay young as long as we can, until we are nothing but a memory ("time makes history of us").
But there is hope. And it is scattered throughout the lyrics, especially in the admonition of the chorus. But the seed of it is in verse 2. In the midst of all the despair, there really is a living God who inspired the cathedrals and can give meaning to our lives here on earth. And he calls us to do two things with all our heart: love him and love others.

You see, there are only two things that will last way after time has made history of us: the Creator and the people he has created. So how should we spend our lives? Investing in money? Power? Things? Pleasure? Land?

Jesus spoke often about this. He told the parable of the rich man who built bigger and bigger barns to store all his wealth, but then one day life was over and it did him no good. And he said it directly too:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)
How do we invest in eternity? Well, Indigo Girls hit the nail on the head. We really must love while these moments are still called today - it's the one thing that lasts. Love our family, our friends, the oppressed, the forgotten, and yes, our enemies. Take part in the pain of this passion play - make no mistake, love and pain go together because when we love we share the pain of those we are loving...and they share ours.

When time makes history of us, what will be left? I pray for our lives here on earth. That for you and me it will be a legacy of love... and an eternity of the same.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Volcanic ash revisited, Part 3-D

Continuation from Volcanic ash revisited, Part I and Part II)

Ok, it just seems like every movie with a third part makes it 3D, so I could resist. This is the third and final post on the trip, also called (in FRIENDS fashion) The One Where We Got Home.

So if you read the other parts, you know that we are "stuck" in Paris with no way to get home. Volcanic ash has been spewing from an Iceland volcano and all air travel is canceled. At one point during the weekend, we were actually stuck in a small town not knowing how we were going to get back even to Paris.

The fact is, we had planned to be in Ireland by Monday, and we had a flight scheduled from Cork to Atlanta on Wednesday. It was also suspended, but we hoped it might open up at some point. You cannot imagine the crazy thoughts that were going through our minds as we tried to find a creative way home. Here is just one example of the wild plans we were batting around: We would take a train to the coast of France, catch a ferry to England, take a train to Liverpool, and from there catch a ferry across to Dublin, where we could then take a train or rental car to Cork and fly home from there. Look at a map - that is c-r-a-z-y! But we were desperate.

When we finally resolved ourselves to the fact that such a nutty plan (dragging luggage around at that!) wouldn't work because of the ferry schedule, we settled into Paris, waiting for the ash to lift and flights to open up. I called my boss and he said, well, you can't help it so you night as well enjoy it. If you say so, I thought. What an awful fate, right?

By Monday there was speculation that air travel might begin again by Friday, so we did two things.
  • First, we started making plans of what we might do while we were trapped. Maybe Versailles? Or a train to the south of France (trains inside countries were running)? Lots of bread, cheese, onion soup and creme brulee for sure. Yeah, we were getting used to the idea. Ummm, reluctantly. Yeah.
  • Second, the leader of our travel team (I'll call him Bill, because that's his name) was calling Delta trying to set something up. He's a platinum Skymiles member, so he had a phone number where you actually didn't have to wait 45 minutes to get a real person on the phone. It turned out that they thought travel would resume by Friday. Bill got us booked on a Friday flight. Three more days in France first though. Awww.
So there we were Tuesday morning. Bill got up early to go to the airline office, planning to stand in line and get us confirmed seat assignments for our Friday flight. The rest of us? Well, we slept a little late and were sitting around eating a leisurely breakfast. and planning our day.

Then...

Phone rings. It's Bill. He asks, "How quickly can you pack? There's a small break in the cloud and Delta is letting one flight out today. I've got us on it, if you can get there on time."

Wow, talk about sudden change! We're all scrambling to our rooms and stuffing stuff in our bags as fast as we can. I promise, we were out of that hotel and in a cab within 10 minutes. Ten minutes! France is cool, especially with all the work done...but as Dorothy said, "There's no place like home."

So the cab arrives at the airport and drops us off on the other end of the terminal from our gate. We practically run what seems like 2 miles. We stand in extremely long lines, including a line passport control where it seemed they kept letting people from the other side break in front of us. We were not amused, because we were cutting it awfully close.  We end up at the only gate in sight that's operating - the airport is mostly closed but somehow Delta got this flight scheduled in a narrow time window. and then - finally - we are seated on the plane.

As we sat there, knowing we had made it, the pilot came on the intercom and announced that we would have to wait a few minutes. Why? Because he had file a flight plan! Apparently U.S. air traffic control didn't even know we were coming. That's how unusual it was that this flight was allowed to leave. Were we scared that it was a little early - that the cloud might still create safety concerns? Not really, we were just glad to be leaving.

So as the plane took off, the passengers all broke into cheering and applause. I've never seen anything like it. People like to travel, but they like to know they can get home.

 Looking back on the whole adventure, I'm grateful. It's the weird, the unusual, even the stressful moments in life that create memories. I've been to Europe several times,mostly for work. I'm there now, and will probably be back again. But out of all those trips, the one I'll remember the most is the one where a big cloud of ash settled over us. And I'll smile.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Volcanic ash revisited, Part II

(Continuation from Volcanic ash revisited, Part I)

So there we were a year ago with some time to kill in France. Not a bad situation, except for the reason – volcanic ash, air travel shut down, no way home.

So we were stuck, and our next meetings were scheduled for Monday. We decided that on Saturday we would take a day trip to Normandy. As Americans, we felt it would be shame to be so close to there and not visit. The Allied assault on the beach there was key in overcoming one of the most evil dictators in history, and so lives were lost there. My Uncle Ed was part of D-Day and was fortunate enough to make it home. So yeah, that was a good idea.

So here was the plan: Take a train to a little town called Caen. Rent a car there. Drive to the north beaches of France and end up at the American cemetery at Normandy. Spend some time there, drive back to Caen, and take the train “home” to Paris.

Most of the plan went extremely well. Most of it.

I’ve got to stop here and say that the time at Normandy was an amazingly moving experience. There aren’t many places in the world where the enormity of its significance just overwhelms you. I’ve been to a few. Red Square. The Dallas Book Repository. Tiananmen Square. Ground Zero for 9/11. But nowhere is the history more poignant than at Normandy.

Rows and rows of crosses where American troops are buried, all of whom died in one short period of time.

Beaches where you can just picture the fateful day when Hitler’s demise commenced.


 It was incredible. I will never forget it.

And then it was time to head back. Not a pretty sight.

The whole experience is a series of images now. Sort of a blur. First, we dropped off the rental car keys under a locked door, because the office had closed. Then we walked across to the train station, expecting to catch the last train back to Paris. Well, we saw a train scheduled on the board, but it never came. We waited...and waited...and waited. Finally we decided to ask someone, but we couldn't find anyone who could (or would, I suspect) speak English to the dumb Americans. Eventually we realized...

THE LAST TRAIN HAD LEFT AND WE WERE STUCK. (There was a strike, it turns out.) In the little town of Caen. 150 miles from Paris.

Well, we desperately tried to get a cab to take us to the airport, where surely we could get another rental car. Nope - since the airlines were shut down (remember the ash?), the rental car offices we closed. The volcanic ash strikes again.

Anyway, there were only two taxis in the whole dang town, and they were going back and forth picking up people from the line of probably 50 stranded train passengers.

What a mess. I remember walking across the street to a Chinese restaurant and getting something to eat. We might as well make the best of it, right? God would take care of us, and it would be a great story later. Travel is all about adventure, and boy were we having one!

It ended well. A resourceful member of our group (Thanks, Bill) found an American serviceman who had talked a cab driver into taking him to Paris. It was soooooooooo expensive that he was glad to share his cab and have us pay a share of the cost. So we jumped into a taxi at 11 pm, and arrived at our Paris hotel two hours later. A long night, but the stuff memories are made of. Looking back, it was fun. (Yeah, I know...I'm sick.)

Back in Paris. A good night's sleep. And then a few more meetings before dealing with the question again...when and how would be get home?

That's Part III, coming soon.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sechselauten

What? Well, it's the annual Spring Festival in Zurich, Switzerland...and a major holiday here. They shut down the city for a day to celebrate the end of winter and look forward to (hopefully) a long summer. I have never seen anything like today, and it was fun.

(Btw, I know I've been promising Part II of my volcanic ash story.  But this was just way too cool to ignore.)

In the morning, most of the city was asleep, no doubt because today was a holiday and they stayed out late and then slept in. As the afternoon progressed, the anticipation was building, until finally one of the most grand parades I've ever seen commenced:

The parade was almost two hours of...

...men and women in costume...


...who were greeted by loved ones with kisses and flowers...

...men on horses...


...and horse-drawn floats with colorful characters...

Finally, the day ended at 6 pm with the main event. Every year they build the image of a snowman and place it at the top of a huge pile of kindling and wood.

And with a huge bonfire, they burn up the snowman. Like so...

And thus they celebrate the end of winter. Almost the whole city, (at least) tens of thousands of people, gathered for the annual event. They say that the speed with which the snowman is consumed tells them how long summer will be. (Kinda the opposite of Groundhog Day, eh?) Today, it was nine minutes.

It was quite spectacular and something I'll never forget. It was awesome to see that other people in other lands celebrate things I never knew about. Kinda puts our little corner of the world in perspective.

Oh...I leave you with my favorite parade float of the day:
Roll tide.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Cheese and more cheese

We interrupt the series of posts about last year's volcanic ash to bring you this semi-live report from Zurich.

Tonight we had dinner at a traditional Swiss restaurant, which means there was lots of cheese and bread. That is a very good thing - I love both. After we all shared some four-cheese fondue, I ordered this:


It was absolutely delicious. It was a mixture of potatoes and a very rich cheese covering...a specialty here in Switzerland we were told.

And then we realized it. What I had ordered was an extra-large, extra-rich helping of Waffle House covered hash browns.

Come to think of it, not a bad thing at all.

Volcanic ash revisited, Part I

As I sit on a plane somewhere over the north Atlantic Ocean, alot of thoughts a running through my head. I’m grateful for the opportunity to travel and work with people from all over the world. I’m looking forward to a weekend over there before we begin our long days of meetings. I’m REALLY grateful for an exit row seat with an empty seat next to me.

And I’m reminiscing. Reminiscing about volcanic ash.

Last year I was on this same business trip – overseas to meet with underwriters who provide international coverage for large catastrophes such as hurricanes. I will never forget that morning, the last day of meetings in London. We were on our way to the office when we heard the news. A volcano had erupted in Iceland and there was a large cloud of ash spreading over Europe. You remember that being on the news, right? It probably was just an interesting news story to you. To me, it was life.

Well, it wasn’t too long before we knew that our itinerary was completely blown out of the water. We would not be able to fly to our next meetings in Zurich. We were supposed to wrap up the tour after that with a meeting in Paris. Could we get there by train? Could we switch the order around? Would we be forced to settle for conference calls? But most of all, WHEN AND HOW WOULD WE GET HOME?

Yes, that was a real concern. All air travel in Europe was canceled, except (I think) some flights out of Madrid. Every day that we were there, it was getting worse. Nobody knew when it would be lifted.

Back home, family and friends were following the news closely. They heard stories of overbooked hotel rooms. They wondered whether I was constantly breathing in a bunch of junk that would clog up my lungs. They were worried, and I guess if I had been in their shoes I would have too. But it was a great example of how the press sensationalizes stuff to get viewers and readers. Once we got to Paris, our hotel manager assured us we would have our rooms as long as needed. Believe it or not, we could not actually see the ash – most of the time the skies were blue. Just walking around, it was hard to understand why we were stuck.

So it was time for the adventure to commence. Trains, planes, and automobiles. We had our conference call with the Zurich underwriters, giving up on getting there.  Then we got word that we had seats on the train to Paris (the one that goes under the English Channel – that’s pretty cool). Well, “seats” is not exactly right. As you might imagine, transportation was getting rather scarce as everyone was scrambling to find alternatives to air travel. But we got tickets, just not with seats. So we got on the train, and found ourselves standing in the compartment with our luggage. But we were grateful to be able to get the heck out of London.

So there we were on a Friday afternoon, with meetings scheduled for Monday. What to do Saturday? Oh. My. Goodness. That Saturday was one of the wildest things that has ever happened to me.

More on that next time.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Random?

It was one of those moments...one of those comments...that caused the switch to come on. And I was looking at my surroundings in a whole different way.

I was in Bermuda last week for some work-related meetings. (I know, I know...sounds like tough work. I'm not going to try to convince you otherwise. Although it really is.)  The morning after we flew in we had some free time before our colleagues arrived and so we decided to explore the beach.

It was different - nothing like the white Panama City beaches we're used to around here. More like what you would picture for California. Intermittent stretches of light colored sand with alot of rocks and cliffs.



Beautiful, right? It was breathtaking, and not just because we were climbing some of the rock formations to get a better view down the beach. (See what I did there?) I have been to Bermuda several times but I had never taken time to see this part of the island.

So we were walking along taking in all of God's handiwork when suddenly we came across this odd rock formation:


See there on the bottom left? It's a series of letters carved into the rock. And four of them actually form the name Rick. Well, a friend in our group noticed this and made the observation of how strange it was that nature could have carved out all these initials naturally while forming the rocks. How random!

Of course Bill was being facetious; everyone knows that letters have to be formed by people. People who know a little something called the alphabet. The initials were a sign that someone had been there.

And that's when it hit me. Something I knew of course, but something that was not resonating deep inside. Until then. The whole beach, all the rocks, the whole island was a sign that someone of unfathomable intelligence, creativity, and power had been there. A person had carved the initials. And the God of the universe had carved the whole thing.

And the whole expedition changed. I marveled, worshipping that God in my spirit.  It was awesome.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Days like these...

What an awesome day was Saturday. Well, really an awesome weekend but Saturday was so jam-packed it seemed like a whole weekend.

It began with me stepping off the plane in Atlanta Friday night after a business trip to Bermuda. (Yeah, I know what you're thinking...but it really was alot of work, no matter where it was.) It so happened that my good friend Steve was in town with his wife and his daughter Rebecca for the daughter's volleyball tournament. Steve lives in Tallahassee so I thought, what an excellent chance to spend time with them and to see Becca play.

So I grabbed a late dinner Friday and then spent all day Saturday experiencing the life of a volleyball family. It was so much fun I can hardly describe it. Nevertheless, here are some highlights:

  • We got up at six in the morning in order to get to the venue in time for Becca's 8:00 match.
  • Her team played extremely well, winning all three matches of the day.
  • Becca is the setter. I'm told this is like the quarterback of a volleyball team. (I don't know much about the sport's strategy, but I was hanging with alot of people who do.) From what I could tell and was told, she had an excellent day herself.  Which makes sense, because teams play well when the QB does, right?
  • The 5 or so hours we were at the GWCC went by like lightning. I was having so much fun watching the matches that I didn't even realize how fast time was passing.
  • As we left, it was announced that there would be a team dinner at PF Chang's. (Yay, I thought, since I was invited.) It was to be at 6 pm.
  • Even though we were leaving the arena close to 2:00, we still went for lunch at Buckhead Pizza. So I ate way too much lunch, and then went back for dinner a few hours later. But it was PF Chang's and I almost never get to eat there, so I ate anyway. I'm not even going to talk about the dessert I scarfed down in between at Cafe Intermezzo.
As I write this, it seems that I can't express what I'm really trying to. I think it's because I'm trying to show you what a fantastic day it was by writing a narrative. That's impossible. Because was made it so great wasn't the volleyball. Or the food. Or anything else tangible. It was time spent with amazing people: friends that mean the world to me and also folks I had never met before yesterday. A group of girls that I could tell really enjoy playing together and who had a great time hanging out at dinner (the picture above of them all is so cool - the fun oozes from it). And parents that have become almost like a second family for each other because they have something so important in common: children they love that have formed a team.

Days like these are what life is made of; in alot of ways, the reason we were created. For each other. To get a glimpse into what that life is like for my friend's family is something I wouldn't trade for anything.

I'll close this post with a 14-second video I made yesterday - a single point played out of approximately 250. You'll see a group working together to win a point by all being in the right place at the right time doing what they're supposed to:
video

May I always be found at the right place, doing the right thing - loving God and loving people. And living life to the full. Like yesterday.