Friday, January 26, 2007

super bowl

This week I read an excellent piece by Michael Smith of about the two head coaches who are leading their respective teams into Super Bowl XLI, Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts and Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears. Here's an excerpt -

"Dungy and Smith are role models, not just for coaches who look like them or men who look like them, but for all coaches and all men. They live their lives the right way, and as a result they do their jobs the same way. Their priorities are, in order: faith, their families and football. The outcome of the Super Bowl or any game does not define them. They personify words such as class, grace, dignity, honor and integrity. We all can draw inspiration from men such as these.

"Dungy and Smith haven't sold their souls in pursuit of the game's Holy Grail, and yet here they are, reminding us that good men can do great things, that nice guys can and do finish first. Dungy learned from Dennis Green and Chuck Noll and passed it on to assistants Smith, Mike Tomlin, Herman Edwards and Rod Marinelli (all head coaches now) that it's OK to enjoy life outside the facility. Dungy and Smith are family men. And they still win.

"You won't hear either utter a word of profanity. And they still win. They care about and foster relationships with their players. And they still win. They serve their communities. And still, somehow, they find time to do what it takes to prepare their teams.

"Dungy can -- imagine -- spend the Saturday evening before the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots at the mall with his family. Or Dungy, Smith, Edwards and each of their wives can gather for dinner at P.F. Chang's the night before Dungy's Colts and Edwards' Chiefs met in the first round of the playoffs. And yet it didn't halt the Bears' or Colts' journeys to Miami.

"Dungy and Smith are Christian men who serve the Lord first and spend nearly as much time serving their communities. Doesn't prevent them from winning. And often. In just three seasons Smith, last season's Coach of the Year, has helped build the Bears into a league power. Dungy has won more regular season games than any coach since 1999. Where does color factor into that?

"After they won their conference championships, you heard Smith talk about his "being blessed" and Dungy give thanks to God. That isn't just lip service with these guys. As Christians they believe it is their responsibility to let their light shine whenever they're in the spotlight. Just as they have a game plan for each other come Super Bowl Sunday, both plan to use the global platform that the Super Bowl provides to speak words that could make an impact beyond football. At his oldest son James' funeral last year, Dungy used the eulogy as an opportunity to teach lessons about manhood and fatherhood.

"Neither man gets caught up in, you know, being the head coach. Talk about humility: Smith was seated among the fans at the RCA Dome for the Colts-Chiefs playoff game (the Bears had a bye) when a fan approached him for an autograph. Smith, who had been signing for several minutes already, politely told her "not right now" and said he would like to turn his attention to the game. But he watched as she returned to her seat, and during the next break he went over and gave her the autograph.

"Regarding a coaching matchup between friends and former colleagues, these are the kinds of things we should be talking about exclusively leading up to the game, the class way in which Dungy and Smith lead their respective organizations. Not something as trivial as Dungy and Smith's skin color. It seems as if every day we hear about players getting arrested or being involved in some embarrassing incident -- and failing as role models. When Dungy walks away from coaching he likely will devote more of his time to the prison ministry about which he's so passionate. He and Smith are examples of what a strong man is. Never mind what they look like. They're the perfect people to represent not just the African-American community but the NFL community.

"On Jan. 15, the nation celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We could honor his dream by celebrating Dungy's and Smith's achievements not because of the color of their skin, but the content of their character.

"There's a lot of talk about hoping for a day when black coaches in the Super Bowl won't be a big deal, when we won't find it necessary to refer to a coach as a "black coach" (or any person by their race, for that matter).

"What's wrong with that day being today? Dungy and Smith have made history, and we happily acknowledge it. As for our practice of categorizing NFL head coaches, let's make that history, too."

Live free! Live in Daddy's affection!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

marathon memories

It's been ten weeks since I completed my first marathon, but I continue to get stoked as I reflect on the entire experience. From the first time I saw the OBX Marathon ad to the moment I crossed the finish line, I felt the Father's pleasure and encouragement every step of the way.

Coming off a yearlong case of plantar fasciitis (heel pain) and with little more than two months to train, a marathon seemed out of the question. But overriding all of my reasonable objections was the conviction that my Daddy was inviting me to run and that He would enable me to achieve my goal.

My training started well, but along the way little aches and pains crept up, challenging my belief that I could run a marathon. With less than a month to go, a right calf strain forced me to cut short a long training run and take a week off. Due to responsibilities at school, I was unable to train during the week leading up to the race. In spite of the setbacks, I had a sense that I was destined to run my first marathon.

The site of the race, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, holds a special significance for me because many of my ancestors were born there in the 1800's. My great-grandfather and namesake also built several cottages there in the early 1900's that are still standing. As I started the marathon along a country road lined with tall Carolina pines, I felt right at home.

The race itself was an incredible experience. I usually run alone, so starting a race with over one thousand fellow marathoners was a blast. There was a real sense of community - each runner encouraging the other in the pursuit of a common goal. Outer Banks residents lined the course to offer encouragement all along the way. One gentleman even offered cups of beer to passing runners.

After running several miles through a light drizzle, the clouds burst open at Mile 16 and I sloshed through a torrential downpour for a couple of miles. The rain was refreshing and I reveled in the challenge of pressing on through the driving storm. My previous longest run was twenty miles, so when I passed Mile 20 two thoughts hit me - "you're in uncharted territory now" and "you're going to make it!" I choked back tears and pushed ahead with renewed strength.

The most challenging part of the race was Mile 21 - the long bridge leading to Roanoke Island. The steep grade taxed every muscle in my legs and forced me to push through the pain. On the way up the bridge I pulled alongside an older runner who was maintaining a nice, steady pace. I decided to let him lead me across the bridge and we ran in perfect lockstep. Ironically, I spoke with him after the race and he remarked how I had helped him make it across the bridge.

Miles 22 and 23 were pretty tough. The nearness of the finish line inspired me to continue putting one foot in front of the other when every fiber of my body was screaming for rest. A couple of gulps of Gatorade and a packet of carbohydrate gel helped replenish my body for the final stretch. At Mile 24, something exploded inside and I felt a sudden burst of physical and emotional energy. I was so pumped that I broke into a full-bore sprint all the way to the finish line. This was my freedom run and with every stride I felt like I was being released into my destiny as a child of God.

The finish of the race was almost anticlimactic. There was a real sense of accomplishment, and my heart was filled with gratitude towards Father for enabling me to realize my dream of running a marathon.

- Lindsay

Live free! Live in Daddy’s affection!

Monday, January 01, 2007


As I embark on a new year, I am reminded of David's declaration in Psalm 23:6 -

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life (KJV)

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life (NASB)

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life (NIV)

What a wonderful reality to begin the new year with - Father's goodness and love will follow me ALL the days of 2007!

- Lindsay

Live free! Live in Daddy's affection!