Mistakes Should Not Take You Out of the Game

My son got up early and joined me this morning. We chatted about Saturday’s game at Southern Miss. We sipped a little coffee and laughed together about the game. It reminded me of when I played football. At sixty-four, that seems so long ago.

When I was a junior in high school I played defensive nose guard and was also the long punt center. As a nose guard I was the antagonist. My job was to harass, intimidate and literally destroy the opposing center’s confidence while hiking the ball. I told him there was nothing he could do to keep me from charging right through him to take out the quarterback. I would knock him on his butt and it would be his fault they lost yardage. I swung my forearm in his face to terrorize and convince him that he was a failure.

Then I laughed when I remembered the first time I hiked that long ball for a punt. In my face was the biggest, ugliest defensive nose guard I’d ever seen. He was force-feeding me a bucket of fear and discouragement. His battle worn arm displayed scrapes and bruises proving his proficiency. I was now the recipient of the same fear tactics I had used on others.

Football fumble-recovery

I told him he wasn’t getting through me. My heart was determined on taking care of this ape. I took that nose guard straight to the ground. There, I thought, he won’t try that again. When he jumped up laughing and pointing behind me I turned around to see a pile of players covering the ball. Because I was fixated on my opponent instead of my job, I had created a hole in the line for others to run through and the ball had only gone about four yards.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!…And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV

I had lost focus and taken my eyes off of what was important. I realized then that it was not about my fear, but about the team. I had let the team down because I was afraid of my opponent. Oh yes, I had proved I could take him to the ground but I really hadn’t beaten him. The opposing team was in possession of the ball on the twelve-yard line. Do you know how I felt? It was my fault.

I dragged my tail to the sidelines. No one said a word, but I could feel the terror of the let down. Two plays later our opponents put seven points on the scoreboard. Coach Russo came over and stood by me without saying a word. Another punt situation had arrived. Without looking at me, he asked two simple questions.

“Do you have that out of your system now?
“Yes sir,”
“Do you know what to do next?”
“Yes Sir!”
“Then go out there and prove yourself.”

I knew he believed in me and that if we were to win I must give my best. Not doing so would put a heavier load on my team members. I hiked the ball, the punter kicked it and I had done my job.

Football for me is only a memory. We each make serious mistakes in our lives, and what we do with them not only determines how we will move forward, but how we affect the rest of the team. Whether it is church or family, we have to remove fear and misplaced aggression from our thoughts, and determine to get back in the game and give our best effort. Our church and family can’t afford to pull our load.

Man Consoled 2

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:1ff. ESV

Don’t let a mistakes take control of your life and keep you down. Get back up, face the fear and do what needs to be done. And when others have blown it, love tells us not to ridicule them and talk behind their back, but to forgive, and remember that we all make mistakes. Like Coach Russo, we need to stand by those people, believe in them, and say, “Forget what has happened and get back out there. You know what to do next.”

God Believes In You!

Now get back out there and prove yourself.


Labor Day Memoir

So Labor Day 2014 is here and I am trying to remember a time long ago that was significant about this day. Oh, I know the first Monday in September “constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being” of our great county. I’m looking for something a little bit more charming than that boring sentence. You know, like a parade or a band performance in the town square. Maybe there is a huge family reunion where unforgettable tales, are told and the new generation is fortunate to hear them for the first time. I don’t know. There are so many different ways to celebrate this day you’d feel like you were caught between a dog and a fire hydrant if I were to tell you all of them. So, let me just shorten this list by telling you one that is dear to my heart.

I have searched the web. I have asked everyone I know and cannot get the answers I am looking for. No one else can remember this day. I try with diligence to summon up these recollections so that I can convey them to you as unforgettable…for me anyway.

My family was one of musical inclinations. Somewhere along the line I got left out except for thoroughly enjoying the melodious sounds made by others. I guess that is why this memoir is so important to me. So here I am conjuring up this tale, not a big tale now mind you, but since I cannot remember all of the details of my story I reckon it does account for what I remember.

Overlooking a small lake and surrounded by majestic live oaks stands one of Baton Rouge’s most prized possessions. A stately mansion stands to prove the glory of the great state of Louisiana. She is beaut, for sure. She struts her Doric white columns with a great southern pride and like many of the plantations of the South she is built with magnificence and attitude. It is from here I appeal to my memory and petition this one recollection of the past to come forward.

“A standing joke in many of Louisiana’s small, country churches goes,

“Well, there are two things we know how to do around here, worship and eat!”

Put the two together and you’ve got the country church tradition of all-day singing and dinner on the ground.”


Dinner on the grounds is a long-standing tradition in the South and is usually done after church on Sundays. This was a special occasion for a special holiday. Our arrival at the governor’s mansion was early. We knew it was going to be a long day. The heat was relentless but we knew it would be worth all the sweat, the bees and the flies to get one little morsel of that so delicious southern cooking. There were people from all over the state and I think a few strangers from the North snuck in too. But that’s ok, it was time for them discover they have never really eaten right anyway.

Every family brought a dish of some kind. Tables were set with various meats including wild game and fried chicken just bustin’ with goodness. A variety of vegetables grown in large and small family gardens soaking in potluck laid out end to end. Another table severed up corn bread butter-shined so bright you could almost see yourself smile when you bent over to take a long whiff. My favorite was of course the dessert table. Cakes were OK but pie, now that is a boy’s aspiration, especially when it came to the chocolate one. Oh, and there was always more than one. Yes indeedy.

One of the things about a gathering of this sort was that it was not just the food. No sir. It was about so much more. Boys and girls spent the day playing games on the six-acre mansions land. Some went fishin’ in the lake. Most folks enjoyed the fellowship of friends and family and even new acquaintances.

“All-day singing and dinner on the ground, sometimes simply called fellowship, is a chance for a church to come together as a family, to fellowship, to visit, to swap recipes, to sing, to pray, and to eat.” louisianafolklife.org

dinner on the grounds-M

However, second only to the food was something really special. Groups from all over Louisiana came to sing. There were even some from other states who joined in this special day. I loved to watch my family most of all. You know, the ones, unlike me, that could actually sing and play instruments. My Uncle Edgar was always one to watch. His bald-headed little self was quite the show. He played his box guitar and sang with his brothers and sisters, one of which was the states Commissioner of Agriculture. He wore a harmonica holder around his neck and played that along with his guitar on some songs. He could surely lay out a whiny conglomeration of notes that folks just loved to hear.

Other groups displayed fancy guitars, mandolins and fiddles. There were so many different instruments that as a child I was mesmerized. I loved the banjo pickin’; I promised myself I would learn to play that someday. Well, someday never has shown up. Combined with great piano playing, accordions and even a diddly-bow, there was music so wonderful I believe old Gabriel was blowing his horn along side the Father and Son while they were dancin’ with the saints. Now, put all of these instruments together with some great country gospel nasal, some good food and fellowship and all I can say is good gracious alive, heaven was on the grounds.

Like all memorable days this one had to come to and end. I have to admit it was an enjoyable day. I lay in the back window of the old Chevy, allowing the hot wind to blow through open windows, staring toward the mansion. When I enjoyed something I would watch it until it was out of site. I wish I could remember more about this day, but this will have to do.

As I look back on it now. Singing in those days was more like what God put in His Word ~ Make a joyful noise unto the Lord. I guess I was the only one struck by the profound significance it would have on my life. I am thankful for this memoir however, and will pass it on to those who follow.