Posted tagged ‘Michigan State Spartans’

The Rightness of The Moment, Not The Headline

November 5, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                November 5, 2017

                          

When Coach Jim Franklin ran like a madman towards the end zone at the end of his Penn State football team’s heartbreaking loss at Michigan State yesterday I, like most people who saw him sprinting, thought he was going to chastise the officials for some perceived blunder. When it turned out he was sprinting to catch some of his players who were heading to the locker room without shaking hands with the Spartan players it was reassuring that in the intensity of the contest someone whose job depends on winning still had the right perspective.

Even though the cameras caught his mad dash it was not something that had been orchestrated. It was simply the right thing to do, the correct decision made at a moment’s notice. The integrity of the decision was amplified considering the game had been interrupted by a weather delay of almost three and a half hours.

How many of us would have lost our cool if we had to wait to catch a delayed flight for three and a half hours? Raise your hand! Both of mine are pointing skyward.

There seem to be a lot of people who are willing to preach what is right in the moment when the cameras are rolling, or the press has a microphone stuck in front of their face, but the list gets a lot shorter of people who are willing to do the right thing in the heat of the moment.

Recently my wife, Carol, was at a high school volleyball game. Liberty High School was playing one of their arch rivals at the opponent’s gym. She heard and observed some actions- or, perhaps inactions- of a group of students of the host school. One young man had made a comment to one of the Liberty players on the court that had explicit sexual connotations to it. The group he was a part of included several young ladies. What Carol noticed was that not one of the female students was willing to do what was right at that moment. No one was willing to confront the young man with inappropriateness of his comment.

Yes, they were just high school students! High school students who have had it drilled into them in recent years about what sexual harassment and bullying is. Sometimes, however, all the knowledge in the world won’t cause someone to do what is right in the moment. Embarrassing someone causes cheap laughter and integrity never seeks to humiliate. It is too respectful for that.

Each one of us gets faced with a multiple of decisions that have two or more solutions. Many of those decisions also have a dividing line. Think a volleyball court with one side being right and the other side wrong. There are clear indications as to which side the ball- the decided on response- is on. None of us make all the right decisions, but over the course of a day, a week, a month it becomes clear who are the people who have integrity and who aren’t. Who are the ones who understand the right decision, the right thing to say, at that moment; and who are the ones who lack character and moral substance.

As a pastor I wish I could say that Christians have it all together, but, alas, I’ve met and seen too many people who confess to following Christ and have no integrity- people who stomp off towards the locker room when they don’t get their way.

Jim Franklin gets paid a lot of money to make right decisions, but they usually have to do with deciding when it’s a good time to blitz the quarterback or do a fake punt. His sprint to the end zone yesterday wasn’t what Penn State had in mind when they paid him to make the right decisions, and yet it was probably the best right decision he made all day.

Red-Green Color Blind on St. Patrick’s Day

March 18, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          March 18, 2017

                            

I needed Carol…but she had departed the house early for a day of being a para-professional with middle school students who have special needs.

Unfortunately, I had a special need also! It was St. Patrick’s Day and I didn’t know what to wear. Being color blind I couldn’t figure out what I could wear that had green in it. I was scheduled for an interview that morning at a school, so I couldn’t wear one of my Michigan State tee shirts. They were the only shirts I owned that I was sure had green because the Spartan’s colors are green and white.

I faced a closet full of mixed-up hues and vague hints of color schemes. They looked like a color calculus problem with no clear solution.

People don’t quite understand the effects of color blindness. They ask me what is it I see? I see what I see, but am often confused by what it is. As I approach a stoplight on a foggy morning I have to slow down to see which of the three lights is shining. If it is the bottom one I know I can go.

I remember when I was first diagnosed as color blind when I was in fourth grade. I was given a group of circles, each filled with dots, and asked to say the number that was inside the circle. A couple of the numbers were as clear as day, but a few of the others…in my view!…had no number in the middle. In fact, I thought it was some cheap school prank made to make me look silly!

I drive a white car! I can figure out white usually! But white is not green, and my granddaughter has informed me that people will pinch me if I don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. She had a smile on her face as she said it, like she was choosing the body part to grab hold of.

I settled on a new Roundtree & York shirt that looked like it could possibly have some green in the crossing pattern of lines and designs. There had to be some green in it! If I would have thought about it a little more I could have taken a selfie picture and sent it to Carol. Hopefully she would have a moment to view it before I headed out into a world obsessed with greenness.

At Starbucks I got looks! I checked my zipper! I was okay. My dense brain figured the looks were because of my favorite Starbucks cup, which is starting to look a little weathered in its whiteness.

Or maybe it was because I was a good-looking 62 year old man!

I thought I noticed one elderly lady looking at me and positioning two of her fingers into a tight position. I wondered if she was having a stroke! She wasn’t! I remembered my granddaughter’s words. This lady was ready to pounce…or, pinch my arm! I scurried to my white car!

But I had my new Roundtree & York green, brown, red, and blue shirt on! Perhaps this lady had a distorted kind of color blindness, like a color blind psycho…seeing things that aren’t there and not seeing things that are there!

St. Patrick’s Day is torturous!

After my interview, in which I got concerned looks at my color attire, I stopped at Carol’s school to check on something else with the athletic office secretary.

“You’re not wearing green today!”

“I’m not!”

“No!”

I flinched like she was about to pinch me. “This shirt isn’t green?”

She laughed deeply at my tainted tintness! I scurried home to the safety of my vacated residence…and changed shirts!

March Sadness

March 19, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          March 19, 2016

                                            

Dear Sir,

Our family suffered a devastating loss yesterday that will require multiple grief counseling sessions. We have a lot of questions that don’t seem to have answers. Most of them begin with the word “Why?”

Depending on the family member our grief has emerged in various ways. Loss of appetite is a common element. Other signs of our suffering include hair-pulling, moments of walking around in a zombie-like state, spontaneous bursts of tears, and sleepless nights filled with that one word. That’s right, why?

I’m wondering if you can fit us into your counseling schedule immediately…like this afternoon. I know that is short notice, but so was the loss we incurred. You see, it wasn’t suppose to be this way. We’d planned ahead and prepared for what we thought was going to be a glorious ending. To have the rug pulled out from under us like this is a bitter pill to swallow. We know it has happened to others in the past, but we never expected that it would happen to us.

You see, our Michigan State Spartans were a two-seed. Two-seeds aren’t suppose to lose in the first round. In fact, we thought our glorious end was going to include cutting down the nets in Houston two weeks from now after being crowned national champions.

But a fifteen-seed beat us! Middle Tennessee State University. Their name even suggests mediocrity. Yesterday, however, they played top-level basketball and our Spartans were stunned as much as we were. Things like this, however, are suppose to happen to Georgetown and Syracuse because they deserve the grief, but not us!

So you see, our need for counseling is urgent. March Madness got blanketed with March Sadness. We cried in our soup and went through two boxes of tissues. I’m making a Sam’s Club run this morning to buy boxes of tissues in bulk because we’re going through them so fast.

As I’m writing this a propane gas tank delivery truck went by with the company name on the side: Blue Rhino! Middle Tennessee State’s mascot name is “Blue Raiders.” As the truck moved past I instantly saw “Blue Raiders” instead of Blue Rhino. I’m haunted and afflicted! I counted Blue Raider players shooting three’s in my sleep last night!

Please respond immediately…unless you’re a Michigan Wolverine! In that case, please disregard!

Lord of the Spartan Impossible

October 19, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                               October 19, 2015

                                        

As the late Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over until it’s over!” According to a Grand Rapids TV station it was over before it was over, as the reporter stood outside Michigan Stadium…the Big House…and reported Michigan as the victors over Michigan State.

But it wasn’t over! Obviously, he had a deadline! All U of M had to do was punt the ball, or at least hold on to the ball, for the final ten seconds and the victory over their in-state rivals would be assured. The TV broadcasters were even talking about the Wolverines getting the upper hand once again in regards to in-state recruiting.

And then the impossible happened!

Now…I’m not one to believe that God is partial to someone when it comes to a game of some kind, but could that thunder be the laughter of heaven?

I have to admit that I had resigned myself to a Spartan loss. My youngest daughter was already texting in whining words! According to the odds, Michigan State had a 0.2% of victory heading into those final 10 seconds.

I wonder what the odds were for the Hebrew people to make it through the Red Sea? I wonder what the chances of Daniel making it out of the Lion’s Den un-chewed were? I wonder what the odds were for Jesus to make it out of the tomb?

It ain’t over until it’s over!

The picture of the Michigan student with his hands on top of his head was a scene of disbelief. Expect it to be in SI this week!

The scene of disbelief in that final play will rival the ending of the Cal-Stanford football game in 1982 where the Cal player ran the final twenty yards or so through part of the Stanford band, who thought the game was over.

This play will be right up there, complete with open mouths and resurrected Spartan hopes.

Wow!