Fantasy Football Trash-talking

Posted September 27, 2016 by wordsfromww
Categories: children, Community, Humor, Parenting, Story, Teamwork, Uncategorized, Youth

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          September 27, 2016

                               

It’s Fantasy Football season…in case you missed it! Millions of people spend millions of hours being the coach and general manager of their team of fifteen players and defenses. Fantasy Football is the new way that adults who are now has-been athletes relive their youth through chiseled millionaires. College loyalties go out the window. Buckeye fanatics could care less about what Ezekiel Elliott did for them in Columbus. If he is going against their fantasy team this week they want him to get pummeled and get a bad case of fumble-itis!

Part of Fantasy Football…a big part in fact…is on-line and in-person trash-talking. This past week I left two running backs  on my Fantasy bench, both whom would have notched me twenty plus points. Soon after the Thursday night Patriots’ game I got the sarcastic messages about LaGarrette Blount getting big yardage and two touchdowns while sitting on my Fantasy bench. I could sense the sneers.

And then when LeSean McCoy was also sitting on my bench on Sunday as he rolled up 23 fantasy points the social media laughter escalated.

That’s what makes Fantasy Football fun and interesting…the sense of triumph and the embarrassment of oversight competing against people you may be eating Thanksgiving dinner with.

For instance, my youngest daughter erroneously had her laptop still on “Autodraft” as we began our draft night. She wanted to take a certain player, but as soon as she hit the “Select” button whoever was still at the top of her draft list got drafted. She drafted two quarterbacks in the first three rounds before she discovered the error of her ways. Her gathered family at the same draft site- husband, sister, brother-in-law, and dad- expressed our sorrow for her…but inwardly we were chuckling and giving ourselves high-fives. At the end of the draft night we made a few joking remarks about her debacle, like campers throwing a few more logs on the fierce fire.

And now she’s laughing back at us as she sits on top of our twelve person family league still undefeated after three weeks. Who’s laughing now???

There are the on-line fantasy  products and leagues, like Draft Kings, that attract their element. A lot of people use fantasy football as an excuse to gamble. The great thing about this side event, however, is connecting with family and friends in non-sweaty competition.

Last year I emerged as champion of our “Wolfe-Terveen” family league, which emerged out of the marriage of my youngest 3-0 daughter, Lizi, and her husband, Dr. Mike Terveen. I’m sitting at 2-1 after three weeks, but my team name is a constant remember to everyone of who won last year as I merged Bill Belichick into my current season objective. Welcome “Bill-a-Back-to-Back!”

Family pride is at stake! Okay, maybe just Dad Pride! I need to secure my place at the head of the table…put these young bucks in their places.

Our family league has more than just my boast of fame name. There’s also these team names: “Who You Calling Gurley?”, “Great Barrier Reiff”, “Drove My Chevy to DeAndre Levy”, “Breesus King of the Drews”, “Detroit Lions Suck”, and “Pjanic at the Disco”. Creativity in team name adds to the aura of the opponent.

Big games this week! By Sunday night the chatter will be at full blast! Unsympathetic unfiltered words of humiliation will be typed that will mostly be accepted as humor. By the end of December the King/Queen will be determined.

And the prize is…nothing! No ring, no trophy, not even a McDonald’s Happy Meal gift certificate. The prize will be just knowing throughout the family who the champion is!

And at that point I’ll need to consider renaming my team again for the next season. I’m leaning towards “Bill-a-back-to-back-to-back!”

My Road To Simla

Posted September 25, 2016 by wordsfromww
Categories: children, Christianity, Community, Faith, Humor, Jesus, love, Pastor, Prayer, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      September 25, 2016

                                     

Sunday mornings have become a favorite time of mine, not because I’m able to sleep in or make flapjacks in the iron skillet, but because I get to travel down the road to Simla.

Traveling to Simla is synonymous with finding rest and being at peace. I go to Jackie Landers for a body massage. I travel to Simla for a massaging of my spirit.

Quite frankly, when I retired from the pastoral ministry last December after 36 plus years I was fried crispy. I did not do self-care well. Not many pastors do! I came to dread Tuesdays because it signaled the beginning of another six day week filled with meetings, crises, obligations, and church drama. Doing pastoral ministry is like taking a daily vitamin, but at some point the bottle becomes depleted and you can sense the gradual loss of vitality and purpose.

After stepping away at the end of 2015, Carol saw the difference in me within the first couple of weeks. She saw what I could not see…the slumped shoulders perking up again, the laughter and joy, the lessening of the hurrying.

And then in February I took my first drive to Simla, a forty-five minute ride into the eastern plains of Colorado on a two-lane road…passing by Peyton, slowing down for the 35 mile an hour speed limit through Calhan, and skirting the edge of the spot by the side of the road called Ramah, and then arriving at the village of Simla.

On the drive I ponder, pray, listen to Garth Brooks, think about the Sunday message, hum to myself, and sip on my third cup of Starbucks coffee. As I get closer to Simla and First Baptist Church my “happy meter” keeps moving to the right. The twenty people or so that will be there each Sunday morning are like pastors to me. They minister to my wounds, soothe my doubts. Thelma and Kathleen brought me a dozen ears of corn from their farm a couple of weeks ago. Ray and Laura open the building and talk me up upon my arrival. John and Angie and their two kids, Lou and Lena, bring me chuckles. Henry and Mildred, 89 and 90, are the senior components of wisdom and church history. Elizabeth, and her young son Eric, offer kindness and care. John and Sherri always remind us to pray for our country. Each person brings something to offer and is offered the ministry and community of the Body in return.

And as I pass by Ramah I anticipate the blessing of what is about to happen.

At this point the Simla church can’t afford a pastor. My friend Steve Wamberg and I fill the pulpit each week. It has become a dance that we thoroughly enjoy. The coffee after worship is exceptionally weak, but the fellowship amongst the saints is strong. No one seems in a hurry to beat the Methodists to the restaurants, since there are very few Methodists in Simla and the only restaurant in town, the Hen House, never seems to have much of a crowd.

When I drive home from Simla I always feel emotionally uplifted, spiritually nurtured, and ready for the week ahead. In some ways I’ve rediscovered the value of church for my life. It may have taken my being at a different life point for that to happen, but I’m thankful for where I am.

Sometimes it simply takes a 45 minute step away from what has been to rediscover what still is.

Saying Goodbye To My Colorado Dad

Posted September 24, 2016 by wordsfromww
Categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Death, Faith, Grace, Jesus, love, Parenting, Pastor, Prayer, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     September 24, 2016

                        

My father, Laurence Hubert Wolfe, lives in Proctorville, Ohio. He turned 88 back in June. He is, and has always been, a man of integrity and compassion. Living in Colorado has minimized my time with him in recent years. Sunday night phone calls are our meaningful habit, about thirty minutes of conversation about what is happening, punctuated with a few stories that we each chuckle about when shared. I’ve been blessed to be the son of a man who is Deacon Emeritus at his church, not so much for his biblical knowledge, but rather for his humbleness and grace.

God knew I needed another dad…a resident papa, if you will…and he blessed my life these past seventeen years with another man of humbleness and grace named Rex Davis. Both Rex and my dad were government employees- Rex with the Postal Service and my dad with the Social Security Administration. And both Rex and my dad were caregivers for their wives for a number of years, treating their spouses with respect and love as ailments and conditions slowed their mobility.

The only difference between Rex and my dad is that Rex preceded his wife, Ann, in death. Today I speak at his funeral. He passed away about a week ago after battling cancer for the past three years or so. Rex was 95.

As I speak this afternoon I expect that I will become emotional. Sometimes pastors become accustomed to grief, to loss, and tragedy. It becomes a part of our occupational routine, and quite frankly, seldom touches our hearts. There are, however, those people whose lives have entwined themselves into your lives that ignite the sorrow and awaken the emotions. Rex is that person for me! His funeral is an event I have dreaded, and yet, feel very honored to be a part of.

When I was his pastor he would squeeze my finger each Sunday when he would pass the offering plate to me, and then he’d whisper to me “Praying for you, Pastor Bill!” He was my golfing dad, hitting them short and straight and then patiently waiting for me to find my drive that usually went long and sliced to the right. He appreciated my ministry and, with sincerity, told me so frequently.

I walked some lonely days with him, as he grieved the death of his only son in a motorcycle accident. I was a listening ear in his time of loss and confusion. When my mom passed away he came along beside me with words of comfort, and found a few more times each month to give my finger a squeeze or embrace me with a hug of support.

I expect that the sanctuary will be close to capacity this afternoon, a testimony to a man who outlived just about everybody of his generation. It will be a bitter-sweet celebration of his life and his witness. There will be outbursts of laughter and ears streaming tears of sorrow.

I miss my friend. I miss my Colorado dad!

Sharing My Opinion

Posted September 22, 2016 by wordsfromww
Categories: Christianity, Community, Freedom, Jesus, Nation, Pastor, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                September 22, 2016

                                  

I received an email from Time magazine yesterday. They want my opinion on different things! They must have received a rumor that I’m opinionated and have opinions to offer on anything and everything…from the election to the price of avocados to the end of “Mike and Molly.” It’s nice to know that someone values what I’m thinking.

Sharing opinions is a risky business these days. Facebook opinions have become the Jerry Springer Show of social media. People seem to get off sharing their distorted anger, while others get even more satisfaction at telling them what pathetic losers they are…and then back to you…and then I’ll reach for an even lower comment…and then…

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. Jesus had his challengers ready to pounce. Of course, the difference is that Jesus didn’t have opinions, he had the truth. The truth got lampooned, demonized, and criticized. Jesus would have been caricatured on the editorial page every day in some cartoon drawing.

Most of us have a hard time differentiating between the truth and what is simply our opinion. In my annual eye exam my optometrist does one test where two lines gradually come together. That’s how most of us see truth and our opinion. They have become two lines of thought and understanding that we’ve brought together.

And so sharing any opinion seems to be like lighting a fuse on a conversation ready to explode. Some of us like explosions. They seem to ignite us! Others of us shake our heads in disgust and dismay.

Just think about recent opinions that divide us like New England Patriot fans versus…well, everybody else! There’s been the election, National Anthem protests prompted by recent shootings, immigration, health insurance, the cost of Epi-pens, Ryan Lochte, concussion issues in sports, and the legalization of marijuana. Wow! Time could do a couple of issues just on the issues.

And here’s the thing! In our hyper-opinionated culture the thinking seems to be that I must totally agree or totally dis-agree…that I can’t disagree 60% and agree 40%, or admit that there is some truth in the opinion that i don’t agree with. We seem to think that people have to be all in or all out!

I’ve been reading a book entitled Washington’s Circle by David and Jeanne Heidler. What  I’ve been amazed at is the opinionated founding fathers. In today’s terms we would say that they were not all on the same page. They had their opinions about issues, as well as about each other…and they seemed to be able to talk about their differences and, in most cases, come to a consensus of agreement. Perhaps a slower way of communicating helped. In many ways the speed of our interactions these days is a positive, but it has also become a liability. People don’t think before they speak or comment or send a social media post…and then let the fire begin!

A wise person longs for truth and considers the value of their words.

Knowing That Voice!

Posted September 19, 2016 by wordsfromww
Categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Community, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Parenting, Pastor, Prayer, Story, The Church, Uncategorized, Youth

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            September 19, 2016

                          

     My wife Carol still shakes her head in disbelief as she retells the story to people. It happened about twenty years ago now in the midst of a restaurant in Tempe, Arizona called Rustler’s Roost. Our family, along with Carol’s mom and dad were enjoying a nice dinner in the midst of the establishment. As we sat there sipping our Pepsi’s and munching on the pre-meal bread I heard a voice, a woman’s voice, coming from a few tables over from us.

I looked at Carol and said, “That’s Sue Burt!”

She gave me a confused look and asked, “Sue Burt?”

“Cyndi Martin’s step-sister from Arlington Heights.”

“How do you know it’s Sue Burt?”

“I’d recognize that voice anywhere!” Sue Burt’s step-father was Dr. James Payson Martin, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois, a church where I served as Youth Director during my next year of seminary in 1978-1979.

It was now 1998!

“Bill, are you sure? You aren’t even looking at her.”

“Absolutely!”

Without delay Carol got up and walked over to the table where “the voice” was coming from and asked the young woman, now about 35 years old, if her name was Sue Burt. She was greeted with a confused look attached to an affirmative nod. Carol explained to her that I had heard her voice. I walked over and we reconnected for a few minutes after a twenty year gap.

Sue had a voice that was distinctive, unmistakable, just like a few other voices that we can easily recognize…Pee Wee Herman…Mister Rogers…our family physician. When a voice becomes known to you it isn’t easily forgotten. When a voice speaks into your life you remember it.

I find this is increasingly true for followers of Jesus. When we know the voice because our life has listened to it for a long, long time we recognize when the voice is speaking to us. In a culture of a lot of noise- or perhaps multiple voices- hearing the “true” voice is essential for a person’s spiritual journey. The thing is lack of intimacy with “the Voice’ creates a high level of voice-guessing. That is, God becomes the voice of personal agendas clothed in spiritual jargon. “God told me so!” gets used a lot to cover up self-centeredness or people on power trips.

Churches are prone to listen to the ten spies rather than to the “Joshua and Caleb’s”. People also tend to listen to the loudest voice rather than the whisper of the Spirit. The one who has the deepest intimacy with the real Voice often gets drowned out by the turned up volume of others. Spiritually mature voices are seldom loud. Wisdom and discernment don’t emerge out of turned up volume.

But when a person or a church truly…undoubtedly…unmistakably…undeniably hears the voice of God, the whisper of the Spirit, and the leading of the love of Jesus something that can only be explained as being of God is about to happen!

 

Being A Cadet Sponsor Family

Posted September 18, 2016 by wordsfromww
Categories: children, Community, Freedom, Grandchildren, Humor, Nation, Parenting, Story, Uncategorized, Youth

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    September 18, 2016

                          

Charlie Wasz is a fine young man! He’s also a new cadet persevering through the first grueling months of dictated life at the Air Force Academy. This week will see him cross the three-month line. Three months of being told what to do, what to think, when to breathe, what to eat, when to eat, when to go to bed and when to rise.

Charlie is the third cadet our family has been the sponsor family for. We’ve had a Protestant, a Jew, and now a Catholic. It’s been an enriching experience for us, all begun because our daughter, Lizi, went to church camp thirteen years ago with a young man named Josh Larson. Three years later she told us that Josh was going to the Academy and would we be his sponsor family?

Justin Katzovitz came a year after Josh graduated. He had attended the same high school, Hinsdale Central (Illinois), as my wife Carol, as well as being a classmate of one of our nephews. We enjoyed getting to know him and his family, and then his mom told the Wasz family about us as Charlie was getting ready to head west from Hinsdale.

Being a sponsor family is a trip! Yesterday Charlie called us about coming over for a few hours. We headed to the Academy, picked him up, brought him home, and he chilled on the family room couch for a few hours. Carol baked him some chocolate chip cookies to take back. He was sincerely appreciative of being able to “get away” from the academy grounds for a bit. Conversation on the way to and from flowed easily. We talked about the Academy Ultimate Frisbee team that he is member of, his overnight camping trip planed that evening to hike up Eagle’s Peak, his studies, new places on the grounds that he has discovered, his swim and dive team roommate, and the Chicago Cubs.

Charlie is an outstanding individual from an outstanding family. His sister is on the Indiana University rowing team, his older brother is serving with the Peace Corps in Botswana, and his younger brother is enjoying having the whole house to himself. His parents, Dave and GiGi are wonderful people who we’ve enjoyed getting together with when they are in town. Nothing seems forced, but we’ve just naturally become friends.

Carol has become Charlie’s “sponsor mom!” She wants to make sure he has whatever he needs and is doing okay. He knows that our house is his home, his place to get away and just relax. He knows that he can bring another cadet with him who also needs some “bed and breakfast.” We’re pretty flexible. Short notice calls to see if he can come over are usually okay. We understand that first year cadets can get confined to the Academy at a moment’s notice simply for not being able to spout off what a military handbook says about a certain regulation. Their squadron leader can get a burr up his butt and decide to pass on the pain to the cadets…so when Charlie calls and we can make it work…we make it work.

It is somewhat inspirational to see him adjust and conquer academy life. The first couple of weeks are like an ultimate culture shock, like jumping into a ice cold lake. After the initial shock the adjustment begins…and continues…and gradually becomes ingrained in the person.

I’ll end this with how I began it. Charlie Wasz is a fine young man…who wants to serve his country!

Taking Attendance and Pronouncing Names In Seventh Grade

Posted September 17, 2016 by wordsfromww
Categories: children, Community, Grandchildren, Humor, Parenting, Story, Uncategorized, Youth

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       September 17, 2016

                            

Three and a half days of seventh grade substitute teaching this week! Each night I would crawl into bed shortly after nine o’clock like an old dog on his last legs.

“Lord, thank you for getting me through this day! I ask that you help me forget that I’m almost 62 and a half years old as I try to play six periods of kickball tomorrow. Amen and Lights Out!”

One of the most demanding tasks of substitute teaching for seventh graders is taking attendance. No…no, it isn’t the figuring out who is there and who isn’t there! The demanding task is figuring out how to SAY some of the names.

Back in the day…that is, back when I was growing up names were uncomplicated. My classmates included Mark, Dave, Mike, Tommy, Cindy, Danny, Tim, Joyce, and Betty. My college basketball team was composed of Scott, Bernie, Stan, Tim, Tom, Mark, Cary, Jeff, and Dave.

Growing up my early years in Kentucky made things a bit more complicated because everyone had two names. I was Billy Dean…although my Aunt Irene spelled it “Billie Dean!” My brother was Charles Dewey and my sister was Rena Lou. All my cousins on my mom’s side were referred to with two names, except Annette whose unofficial middle name was “Ornery!” Her brother was Danny Michael, and then there was my cousin John Jerry and Barbara Gale and Johnny Carol.

But notice that all of those names can be said without an interpreter!

Saying names for a seventh grade class today could be a game show kind of like “Name That Tune!” There were simple ones that could be decoded quickly. “Dave” could be made out from “Dayyve”, and “Michael” from “Mickull”. But then there were others that defied logic. When some of these students were named at birth the parents must have been strategizing on how to make taking attendance for school teachers a challenge.

I did have a William in my last class yesterday, but after class he informed me that his full name was something like “William Herzog Fitzpatrick Dominic Smith the Fourth.”

On a couple of names I assumed the wrong gender for the student. When one student didn’t answer quickly and I asked “Is he here today?”, I was informed by the class that the he is a she. My bad!

My most challenging student of the week tried to disguise who he was in, but even a first year seminary student could decipher the true identity of the name “Looseifore!”

Students know the awkwardness of names. They were already clued in on what Epiforditora’s nickname was. “E.P.” flowed easily for those familiar with him. One boy suggested that I just give each student a nickname like “Spike”, “Four Eyes”, and “Pee Wee.” If we’d have had more time I probably would have gone in that direction. After all, I was nicknamed “Beowulf” my sophomore year of high school when my English Literature class was studying that ancient epic story. One of my Ironton High School fellow journeyers hit upon it. “Hey! Bill Wolfe…Beowulf!” The class agreed! Shortly after that just like Epiforditora got shortened to “E.P.”, “Beowulf” got reduced to “Beo.” My old classmate, Jim Payne, still refers to me by that forty-five year old nickname!

I did have a few name victories. One young lady’s eyes lit up out of shocked delight that I had actually pronounced her four-syllable first name correctly. She should have been surprised because the mess of letters that it contained reminded me of a Scrabble tile holder when the letters are first placed on it in random order.

Of course, Carol and I can’t plead total innocence in this “naming” area. We named our first child “Kecia Corin Wolfe.” Her first name has been mispronounced more often than the Thai menu items I try to order. When I called Carol’s parents at two o’clock in the morning to tell them that they had been blessed with their first granddaughter her dad’s response to the name was “What!!! Quiche Lorraine!!!”

Our second child brought us back to normalcy…David Charles Wolfe!