What Jesus Freaks Can Learn From Baseball Fans

What Jesus Freaks Can Learn From Baseball Fans

On September 28, 2014, Derek Jeter, the legendary Yankee shortstop, played his final game of Major League Baseball. In the third inning, his second at-bat for the game, Jeter knocked an infield hit over the reach of third-baseman Garin Cecchini for an RBI single. After a moment on base to consider the weight of the moment, Jeter signaled to his manager that it was time, and then he walked off the field and into retirement...and undoubtedly into the Hall of Fame. 

Everyone present at Fenway Park that day understood the significance of the moment. They witnessed the curtain call of one of greatest and most respected baseball players of this generation. And that's when it happened. As ESPN writer J.R. Moehringer describes, "that familiar chant, which has become his theme song, his war cry. Two descending musical notes, G-sharp, F, G-sharp, F, a downward sloping cadence that sounds almost like a playground taunt. DER-ek JE-ter! Nyah-nyah, nyah-nyah." 

For the next two minutes, there were no Red Sox fans, no Yankees fans; just baseball fans. More than that, they were sport fans. Culture fans. America fans. Fans of life itself, experiencing in that moment both greatness and sadness that is familiar to all of us. There in Fenway park, for one night only, a fierce sporting rivalry more than 100 years in the making was cast aside to honor the career, the memories, the man, the name of Derek Jeter. And it was beautiful.

The One Story You Need To Read On World Penguin Day

The One Story You Need To Read On World Penguin Day

The Internet has brought us nothing if not an overabundance of animal videos. 20 years ago you had to wait until Sunday night for Bob Saget to introduce a montage of cat clips on America's Funniest Videos; now cuteness overload is unavoidable as soon as you open Facebook.

I'm a believer in lifelong learning, and often some of life's greatest lessons can be found simply by looking to God's good creation. For example, I recently learned that some domesticated cats are terrified of cucumbers. Full disclosure, I loathe cats. I would sooner have a pet cucumber than a pet cat. But should I ever find myself the owner of a feline, this is the kind of information that would be incredibly useful. 

Still, as much as animals cause us to say, “Awwww,” they also teach us to say, “AHHHH!” Another lesson I have learned: it's unwise to make friends with a white tiger (thanks, Montecore) or let your kids play with a gorilla (RIP, Harambe). 

Yes, the animal kingdom has much to offer us if we only remain willing to learn. The latest inspiration I received from a non-human came from a penguin named Dindim. Seeing as today, April 25, 2017, is World Penguin Day, Dindim’s story is a fitting parable on which to reflect.

What's So Good About Good Friday?

What's So Good About Good Friday?

I write these words from my back deck overlooking the woods behind my house. The sun is shining, the temperature is a majestic 80º, the trees are budding, and the carpenter bees darting around my head are only slightly aggressive. It truly is a good Friday.

But why is this particular day, the Friday before Easter Sunday, formally dubbed Good Friday? This is the day we commemorate the brutal torture and execution of Jesus Christ. Historically and biblically, this is not the good day. Good is the resurrection. Good is life winning out over death. Good is an empty grave.

But good is not the pain, not the betrayal, not the loneliness, not the silence. Those are the things we push away, avoiding them at all costs. Such things cannot be good.

…unless…

The Second Time My Son Died

The Second Time My Son Died

When my son Evan was born he almost didn’t make it. His heart stopped. There was an emergency C-section. My wife was rushed from my presence, mid-delivery, by a whirlwind of white medical coats, the nurses’ panicked eyes refusing to look at me from above their surgical masks. For five horrifying and dizzying minutes, I sat alone in the delivery room, not knowing if I would see my son - or my wife - alive. The ordeal ended when a nurse walked in, informed me that both wife and baby were doing well, and handed me a juice box. The lead nurse from the neonatal unit later told us that Evan's delivery was the scariest she had experienced in 25 years of emergency deliveries. She had no idea why his heart stopped, nor how it managed to start back up again.

Learning From My Mistakes

Learning From My Mistakes

I am a dog attack survivor. Not to sound dramatic or anything, but it's true. 

Two or three times a year I decide that doctors and internet articles must be right about exercise being good for your health, and I rededicate my life to becoming more fit for a few weeks. I log into my Nike+ app, lace up my running shoes, and pretend like I am going to register for an upcoming 5K. And honestly, I love it. Going from in-shape level zero to race-ready feels awful each time I start back to it, but after the initial week or so I start to enjoy and look forward to my runs.

Real Dreams and Invisible Fears

Real Dreams and Invisible Fears

One summer afternoon during my young preschool years, I spent a few hours playing at my friend’s house. Adam Holzworth was the same age as me, and we were probably best friends, as those things go when you are four. Though not in a direct sight line, the Holzworth’s front door was little more than a stone’s throw from my back yard, and on this particular occasion my mother allowed me to walk unaccompanied through the open lot behind our house and across the quiet cul-de-sac to play with Adam. Adam took me right down to his basement to play with his father’s old wheelchair. We took turns rolling around on the unfinished concrete floor, imagining how wonderful it would be to be able to ride on wheels everywhere we went. Soon, we grew tired of our medical plaything and went back upstairs clamoring for lunch. Adam’s mother made us bologna and cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise on white bread - a delicacy unheard of in my house - and we sat down to watch Dr. Rick Marshall fend off the other-dimensional, prehistoric terrors in Land of the Lost

Three Things I Cherish From Our Adoption

Three Things I Cherish From Our Adoption

I feel like I just gave birth to an elephant. Elephants have the longest gestation period of any land mammal, typically carrying a child in the womb for 21 months or more. Together, my wife and I just bested Mrs. Jumbo; after more than 26 months of waiting, we have a son. Fittingly, March 20 - the day our adoption was finalized and this young life cleaved legally to ours - is the day all creation affirmed new beginnings with the onset of Spring.

In an attempt to put into words that which cannot adequately be put into words, I want to share the three things that, upon initial reflection of our son's adoption, I cherish most from that day.

The Greatest Botanist On This Planet

The Greatest Botanist On This Planet

I am really bad at lawns. I’m decent at lawn darts, horrible at lawn care. While I love the idea of a lush, green yard, I have never been able to cultivate a lawn worthy of admiration. I have owned three houses and with them, three yards. Within one calendar year of moving in to each new home, my grass has, without fail, been overrun with crabgrass, dandelions and clovery looking weeds. This wouldn’t be so frustrating were it not for the fact that I actually kind of try. I fertilize, I mow, I spray weeds…I try to keep it all looking pretty. But I fail.

You and Me and Warren Beatty

You and Me and Warren Beatty

Do you ever feel as if the only thing people seem to notice about you are your failures?

A week ago, on the morning of Monday, February 27, I woke up to a Twitter feed full of ridicule and criticisms. Late the previous night, the Oscars - the biggest annual awards show in Hollywood -  had been mired in controversy. When announcing the award for Best Picture, presenter Warren Beatty mistakingly read from the wrong envelope, announcing La La Land as the winner. After the customary celebrations and speeches, an awkward commotion on stage gave way to the revelation that Moonlight was the actual winner. The La La Land team was gracious and Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel tried to smooth things over, but the damage was done. 

For the next twenty four hours, social media streams and news outlets alike blasted the Oscars for the mishap, pointing fingers wherever they could. Many comments were playful, others were scathing. As I scrolled my own timelines on and off throughout the day this was the only news from the Academy Awards I saw. To this day, a week later, I still have no idea who won any of the other awards, save Emma Stone whose name was revealed in the gaffe. All the actual winners, all the celebration of art, creativity, story, and humanity were completely overshadowed by one single mistake.

I Saw Death Speed By

I Saw Death Speed By

I saw death speed by, doing 80 in a 65.

He passed me heading north on I-71, just south of Columbus, Ohio. I was on my way to New York from Kentucky to help my parents close one chapter and begin another when he approached. Glancing in my rearview mirror, as good drivers do from time to time, I noticed him gaining on me from some distance away. The shape of his vehicle immediately stood out from the others sharing the road. Black as a panther, his nose had the shape of a typical Caddy but carried a whole lot junk in his trunk. From the windshield back, his body shape rose like an elegant turtle shell the color of midnight, high and commanding, yet awkwardly bulky, over the rooftops of the other cars. Passing the other drivers steadily in the left lane, he would soon be upon me.