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Archive for the tag “Cleveland Indians”

Growing Through Failure

My favorite place in the world is the beach. I love everything about it. The smell of sand mixed with suntan lotion, the sound of waves crashing to shore with kids playing in the background. I love the feel of the hot sun beating on my skin and the cold shock of the water when I first dive in. I love the beach in the fall, winter, and spring as well.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at the beach. I usually take a cheap raft and swim out the buoy and then hop on the raft and float back into shore. This particular day, I kept slipping off as I tried to get on the raft. I guess I had blown it up too much. I think I tried about 5 times before successfully getting on the stupid raft. There were a lot of people on the beach on this particular day. It was a Saturday and hot. As I was trying to get on, I was afraid I would end up losing my bathing suit and end up on YouTube or someone’s SnapChat. I was flailing trying to get on. I was failing. Kind of how I felt life has been lately.

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Me and my 2 dollar raft.

As I floated on Lake Erie I thought of something that happened early on in ministry. I had to interim Senior Pastor after my boss left ministry under difficult circumstances. I was young and female. One day someone came into my office and proceeded for an hour to tell me everything I was doing wrong. I sat there and listened. They finally said, “I know you’re trying your hardest but your preaching sucks and it’s just not good enough.” I stood up. I was crying (which made me mad at myself). I cry when I am mad. I said, “I am sorry they picked me and not you. Why anyone would want to do this with the church hurting so badly, is beyond me. If my best isn’t good enough for you, maybe you should go somewhere else.”

For years when I would preach all I would hear is in my head was “you suck”. It was on repeat in my head. This person ended up apologizing to me about 7 years ago.

Once I got on the raft, I thought about the past 6 months. I have felt like I can do nothing right. I heard this person saying, “Heidi, you’re trying your hardest but your best simply isn’t good enough.” It has been a hard season. It has been a busy season. People are walking through such tough stuff. There has been a lot of loss.

I started working on my Masters in July of 2016. It is a two-year program. It has been a transformative experience for me. I have discovered so much about myself.  I was supposed to finish at the end of June. With the craziness of life, I had to withdraw from the very last class with two weeks left. I was doing well but I could not finish my final project with my schedule and mental capacity. I would sit at my table and my mind would go blank or I would cry. I will finish in December, six months later than I was supposed to.

This was a tough decision for me. I am goal oriented and driven. I feel like I failed. And the whole world watched. Kind of like my attempt to get on the raft.

The irony? My Capstone Project is on finishing well.

I have chosen to live my life pretty wide open through my writing and social media. If you are going to live an honest life, you cannot just highlight when things are going well.

How do I handle setbacks?

Do I feel sorry for myself? Do I try to hide it? Or do I face it?

I will finish. Once I made my decision, I knew it was the right one. It was best for me, it was best for the church and for the people around me. I will be able to give my project the time and attention it needs.

My graduation gift to myself was to go to the Indians/Yankees game. I had to purchase tickets before I knew this would happen. Going to the game was a reminder that I didn’t finish when I was supposed to. A reminder that I failed. But on the bright side, my Cleveland Indians beat the Yankees and there were fireworks afterward set to rock music. It was the perfect summer night; baseball, fireworks, music, and dollar hot dogs.

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Sitting in the bleachers at Progressive Field (aka The Jake)

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Beautiful night for baseball.

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Watching fireworks.

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Watching fireworks.

In the midst of all this, I had my 30th Class reunion that somehow I ended up helping plan. It was a blast but it did cause me to be introspective. Introspection has been my companion these past 6 months. Am I where I thought I would be at 48? Am I where I want to be? What do I want my legacy to be? Have I made a difference? Am I still making a difference?

Here is what I learned from all of this.

  1. Life is good, even when it is hard.
  2. You only fail if you refuse to get up.
  3. It is okay to admit when you have reached your limit.
  4. People are important. I would choose this path over and over again.
  5. We are not defined by our biggest failure in life, nor are we defined by our biggest success.
  6. Following Jesus is still the best decision I have ever made. So glad He pursued me.
  7. I will continue to grow. If I am not growing, I am dying.

I have a sabbatical coming up in a few weeks in which I will be able to slow down, catch my breath, and ponder all these things.

Life is good, even when it is hard.

 

 

 

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Baseball & Believeland

If you live in Northeast Ohio, you know that the Cleveland Indians are in the World Series…the first time since 1997.

My love for the Cleveland Indians stems from my childhood. Cleveland Indians baseball playing in the background was the soundtrack of my childhood summers. My mom would sit on the back picnic table listening to the game on the radio, drink Pepsi, chain smoke while keeping box scores of EVERY. SINGLE. GAME. Every year she would say, “This is the year the Indians win the pennant.” And she believed it.

The names Herb Score, Andre Thornton, Joe Charboneau (remember the song, “Go, go Charboneau…he’s Cleveland’s rookie of the year”), Mike Hargrove (the human rain delay), Len Barker, Joe Carter, Julio Franco, Toby Harrah, Brook Jacoby, Duane Kuiper, Rick Manning, Pat Tabler just to name a few were common names heard in my house. Buddy Bell was her all-time favorite player.

She passed away the summer of 1987.

 

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Me and my mom a month before she passed away.

 

I fell more in love with Cleveland baseball in the 90s. This was the era of Sandy Alomar Jr., Albert Belle, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez (he made me laugh with his antics), Carlos Baerga , Jose Mesa, Charles Nagy, Kenny Lofton, Eddie Murray and my all-time favorite play, Omar Vizquel. I was able to go to spring training with my sister and brother-in-law when the Indians were in Winter Haven, Florida. So fun.

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I still have my Omar Vizquel socks..and t-shirt… ❤ 

In 1995, the Indians made it to the World Series for the first time since 1948. I was a junior in college in Virginia. My sister, Nancy, called me at school and said she had an extra ticket to game 3 of the World Series. My brother-in-law could not go. Did I want to go? DID I WANT TO GO? The game was Tuesday, October 24, 1995. I got up early that Tuesday morning drove 450 miles to my sister’s house. My dad came to her house so I could see him for a couple of hours before we went to the game.

I thought of my mom as they raised the American League pennant at the game. I remember feeling overwhelmed by emotion, wishing she could actually see it happen. The Indians won that night in 11 innings by a score of 7 to 6. When they scored the winning run, I remember the Jake going crazy. The place was electric. Strangers were hugging. It was incredible.

 

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We got back late to my sister’s house. I got up early again the next morning and drove 450 miles back to school. It. Was. Worth. It.

The Indians did not win the World Series that year. The Atlanta Braves did.

Two years later, the Indians returned to the World Series against the Florida Marlins. I had only been in ministry six months. I remember for game 7 I had strep throat but my boss made me go to an appreciation banquet the church was having for us because no one would believe I was really sick. He thought everyone would think I was faking it to stay home and watch the game. I wasn’t. The antibiotics I received the next day were proof. He recently apologized to me for that. Ha! I am still bitter about that series. It went to game 7. The Indians lost in the 11th inning. I cried. I was mad, as well. What frustrated me most about this series was the Marlins assembled a team for a year to simply win a championship. They dismantled the team the following year whereas the Indians had systematically built a strong team through time and their farm system. I am still really bitter. 😉 I have really strong opinions about loyalty and the purity of baseball. That’s what I love about this year’s Cleveland Indians. There are no real superstars. It is a team working together to get the job done.

The Cleveland Indians are the underdogs this year. That’s okay. The Cleveland Cavs came back when they were down 3 – 1 to win the world championship. The Cavs winning did something for Northeast Ohio’s psyche. It broke something. Some people say a curse…I don’t know what it is but it’s tangible and real.

This is our year. There is a pride and solidarity that comes with being from Northeast Ohio. I have not seen it in other parts of the country. A feeling of camaraderie and brotherhood that comes from going through battle together through the leanest of years. Watching Cleveland rebuild itself and rise from the ashes from the time the Cuyahoga River caught on fire and was called the Mistake on the Lake, through our tough sports years (the Drive, the Fumble, the Shot, Art Model taking the Browns out of Cleveland to Baltimore in the cloak of night) until now is inspiring and something we all should be proud of. Downtown is bustling. When the Republican National Convention came to town this summer, Cleveland shined brightly. The friendliness and unity were a beacon. After a few days, the professional protestors from both sides realized they could not get anything started so they moved on to Philadelphia, leaving our city the way they found it…full of pride and peace.

I guess after watching the Indians win game 1 of the World Series, I am feeling nostalgic. A family friend from childhood said to me tonight through Facebook, “your mom is keeping score”. I miss my mom. I am grateful for the love of baseball she instilled in me. And the optimism. She really did believe every year was THE year. I am also grateful for where I grew up. I love where I live (harsh winters and all). I especially love the people. Northeast Ohioans are gritty, tough, outspoken, fun, and optimistic. This is our year, Believeland.

Beach Encounters

September is a busy month for me. I was in Pennsylvania this weekend speaking at a women’s retreat. I got home yesterday afternoon and had to write a three-page paper by midnight. I think I finally fell into bed about one in the morning, exhausted. This week is a busy one as well with Women’s Bible study starting back up and a Variety Show at our church on Sunday evening for missions plus another three-page paper due on Sunday (I love this pace…so not complaining).

I planned on sleeping in but I remembered I needed to go order my glasses…(I am wiping away a tear as I mourn the deterioration of my eyesight). I also looked at the forecast and saw today was supposed to be gorgeous. Summer is slowly fading away and I did not want to waste one minute of this amazing weather. So I decided that after I did my errands, I would head to the beach. The beach has been my haven this summer. I do some of my best thinking (and resting) there. My last blog was inspired by one of my  visits to the beach.

Since I had to go to a different city to order my glasses I decided to go to a different beach. I am so glad I did! When I got to the beach, there was hardly anyone there. School is back in session so weekdays are pretty desolate at the beach. The birds outnumbered the people about 100 to 1. Lake Erie was so blue and was like a sea of glass.

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Lake Erie was like so blue and clear and like glass.

I found my spot, put my blanket on the sand and grabbed my books out of my bag. I really intended to get some homework done (and I did…just not very much).

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Ready to soak up some rays.

Not too far from me were two older men and a woman.  As I was reading, I could not help but hear their conversation. The wind was blowing right. I knew they were about 67 because one commented on how the summer of 66 was his best ever. He was 17.  I did the math because I was curious (or nosey…take your pick). They were in such great shape. At one point they were playing frisbee like teenagers in the sand. One of them dove into the sand to catch it! I was beyond impressed.

As I listened to them talk, one of the men was recounting a story of a time he had a near death experience by drowning. It was very intense. He said he blacked out for three minutes and during that time everything that ever happened to him and everything that was going to happen to him flashed before his eyes. The lady asked him, “So what’s going to happen to you? What did you see?”

His answer was simple but profound.

“I’m going to live until I die.” 

And they were living this. Have you ever known people you wish you could get to know better? Their zest for life and joy is a magnet? Maybe, just maybe, if you spend enough time with them, you’ll catch it through osmosis?

I texted my niece and told her about these three cool older people I was watching. I told her I was working my nerve up to go talk to them. I am the opposite of shy. Her response “DO IT DO IT”. But I didn’t want to freak them out.

While they were playing frisbee and I was gathering up the nerve to introduce myself, we all noticed an eagle. He was circling the shoreline fishing. Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch this amazing sight. After a few minutes, the eagle finally dove headfirst into the lake and came out victorious with a fish in his claws. We applauded!!! It was amazing!!!

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The best picture I could capture on my phone of the eagle.

The eagle broke the ice. I marched myself over to their blanket and introduced myself. I confessed to eavesdropping. They introduced themselves as Klaus, Marilyn (they were married), and Chas. They were friends from their freshman year of high school. I asked them how old they were and told them how I hope I am like them at their age. They were feisty and adventurous. Chas commented on how he has some regrets. I assured him there is no room for regrets because everything up until that point has shaped him into the person he was today. They appreciated that perspective.  Chas said I sounded like I was in the military and the Klaus said I sounded like I was a pastor. 🙂

Their love of life and activity level and freshness of mind was inspirational. They were so grateful I came over. Klaus told me a story of how he almost caught Manny Ramirez’s ball in 1995 (for those Cleveland Indians fans). He is such a great storyteller. He wrote a poem about it. I gave him my address and he is going to send it to me.

Klaus showed me a book he was reading. It is very similar to the diet I have just switched to three weeks ago. Chas is already following it (and it shows). I told them the reason I switched is I want to be able to finish ministry and  life well. How I treat my body will be my biggest problem if I don’t get it together.

Klaus replied, “You have already finished well.” Tears sprang to my eyes.

I knew he meant me coming over and telling them I so appreciated their adventurous spirit and how they seemed to be living life to the fullest. Not everybody understands just because you body ages, your mind doesn’t have to nor your soul. When I see examples of it, it moves me to my core. Life is so short and fleeting.

Because of their example, I texted three of my closest friends from middle/high school just to say that I am praying for them, I am grateful for them, and I love them.

Because of their example, I resolved to continue to work hard to get my physical body fit.

Because of their example, I was glad to be alive.

 

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Next to Jesus, people/relationships are the biggest gift from God. I told these three that they would make my blog!

Jesus says he came to give us abundant life.  “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10)

I’m going to LIVE until I die. 

And like Klaus, I will hopefully be diving for frisbees at 67.

 

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