Tag Archives: basketball

The Height of the Basket…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of John 13:34-35

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”


We’re in the heart of winter across the rural prairie. This time of year, anyone affiliated with small town high school sports spends their free time cheering for the athletes either on the basketball court or the wrestling mat. I never competed in either sport so my knowledge of them is pretty limited, but my favorite blondes love to play basketball so I find myself sitting in the bleachers cheering on the Haymakers several nights a week.

Last Sunday, our pastor told a story that caught my attention. He shared with us a memory from his junior high school years and it went something like this:

One year in junior high, I decided to try out for basketball. I was short and not very good, so you can probably imagine how it went. After several days of try-outs, the coach called me aside and said: “John, I see you struggling and I know it’s hard for a boy your height to make a basket so I’m just going to lower the hoop four feet to help you out.” Well, maybe that’s not really what coach said…

The standards of the game of basketball don’t change to match our individual heights and abilities. All those years ago, the basketball hoop didn’t get lowered for our pastor and today it still doesn’t for any of the rest of us. Some nights I watch my girls and their teammates struggle to put the basketball into the hoop. They’ve got the right idea, but they fall short in execution. Basketball is a moving game with many variables, and it requires teamwork and collective effort to get that ball into the basket. The standards are set, leaving the athletes to figure out how to meet them successfully.

Pastor John’s point was that the game of basketball really isn’t much different than Christian life. It’s hard. It takes intentional focus and work. It requires unselfish dedication to something bigger than just ourselves…When my girls falter, I remind them to look up. The standards may be hard, but Jesus helps us to attain them if we keep our eyes on Him.


The Gospels remind us repeatedly of the new commandment issued by Jesus during his time on earth.

All those who choose to be on #TeamJesus must love others according to the standard of how Jesus loved.

That’s a tall basket. It’s a big ask during the good times and sometimes seems impossible during the hard times. Regardless of our personal feelings at any given moment, the standard isn’t going to change. We are called to love unconditionally, patiently, and with unselfish gentleness and hope. In fact, Jesus goes on to tell us in the Gospel of John that it is our reflection of His love to others that serves as proof of His existence. By sharing Jesus’ love and meeting the gold standard of the new commandment, we actually allow others to experience God through our actions.

Quite honestly, I believe that to be a game changer. During the tough games, the times that our hearts hurt and our minds want to either lash out or give up, Jesus’ message is clear. We are to love our teammates with an agape love. We can do that if we lean into our faith to fuel us for the journey. One of the awesome young ladies that I have the privilege of mentoring mentioned something recently that is worthy of sharing:

We find joy when we look to:

J esus

O thers

Y ourself

Jesus fills our hearts with His love to share with others. We maintain hope when we trust in our hearts. The height of the basket becomes less intimidating when we remember the perk of being on #TeamJesus: We can jump higher than we ever thought possible when we allow the heavenly coach to guide our actions and guard our hearts 🙂

 

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Life’s Root Canal…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Paul’s letter to the Colossians 3:23

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”


My favorite blonde cowgirl took an elbow to the mouth playing basketball on December 27th, breaking the bone that holds one of her front top teeth in place and displacing the tooth. The good news was that she got the rebound, you can likely guess the “bad news” 😉 We made a quick trip to Kearney to the Oral Surgeon to get the tooth popped back in with the hopes that it would “retake” and heal on its own. Our local dentist was on vacation but offered great support via telephone until he returned on January 1st. Meg’s tooth has been wired in since then as the initial glue did not hold.

Today she went back to the dentist for a follow up and I received the following text from her, “I’m the proud winner of a root canal.” I could picture the look on her face as she typed the text, and wasn’t terribly surprised by the news as we’d been warned that was a likely scenario. Friday morning, Doc will carefully remove the pulp inside the tooth, clean, disinfect and shape the root canals, and finally place a filling to seal the space.


I love to watch Meg play basketball. She does it like she does everything else in life — with her whole heart and a passion to work willingly, knowing that she works for the Lord and not just her coach and teammates. This year, I’ve seen a remarkable growth in her as a leader on the court. Her gift of discernment has matured so that she is able to better see the gaps. Not just the gaps in the game, but the gaps in her teammates’ needs. She is quick to emotionally encourage and support in addition to her all in physical contribution to the Lady Haymakers.

As I watch her play basketball, I can see Jesus moving in Meg’s heart. He gives her not only a well of love to share, but also the maturity to share it well. It’s kind of like a root canal for the heart. When we open ourselves to faith, Jesus moves in – cleans, shapes and seals us through the Holy Spirit. It’s not always a comfortable experience, and often we are asked to take one for the team but it leads to an unselfish attitude that enables others to see and experience mercy.

Jesus is at work in all of us – making and shaping a masterpiece that takes a lifetime to create. Meg’s root canal on Friday morning won’t take but an hour or two, but the work that Jesus does in her heart will continue until the day that He calls her home. Jesus’ score board is a bit different than our human one. He doesn’t look at which team scores the most baskets, rather he is concerned with the total number of baskets (hearts) that are changed through faith. Paul issues a great reminder in the scripture above. We are all called to work willingly with our hearts and eyes on the audience that matters most. When we do that, Jesus can move into our hearts and fill them with a loving and eternal purpose.

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Tis the Season: For a Beard and a Basketball…

Each fall, when the temperatures hoover around O degrees for the first time, I mutter to myself that I need to figure out how to grow a beard. Last week our temperatures hit the zero degree level on the morning that we shipped cattle to Tyson.

annedougcattle-ship1ment

My foreman and I put on a bunch of layers of clothes, and I got out my fake beard for the first time since February.

Winter in Nebraska takes some getting used to.  While figuring out the role of a hood on a sweatshirt came instantaneously to me, learning how to layer correctly to work safely outside in the cold took a little bit longer. I have a few toes with frostbite damage to remind me of the learning curve…

To this day, I vastly prefer the summer and fall months to December and January, but farm chores continue in the winter-time despite the drop in temperature.  This time of year, Mother Nature offers challenges instead of resources so we have to provide care when the cattle need us — every single day.

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 My favorite blonde cowgirl wisely trades her boots for basketball shoes for the winter.  She made the transition this year to high school basketball and brings the same winning attitude to her team as she brings to the feed yard crew.

Her hard work and focus earn her success and she proudly represents the Lady Haymakers this season on three levels:  9th and 10th grade, Junior Varsity, and the Varsity.  She’s playing in games four nights a week and packing her FAITH along the journey.

  • F ortitude
  • A ttitude
  • I ntegrity
  • T rust
  • H umility

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I love to watch her love basketball almost as much as I love to see her awesome work ethic make a positive difference.

When I think of all of the great things that being a farmer has brought to my life, raising my kids on the farm tops the list.  Megan runs a scoop shovel with the best of them.  She became a member of the farm crew at an early age, and learned the art of teamwork working cattle and dealing with weather challenges at the feed yard.

She understands that no necessary action is unimportant — no matter how physically demanding or mentally menial.

The girl has grit.

Last summer, I watched Megan practice basketball in our farm shop — Shooting more than 10,000 baskets during the hours outside of working at the feed yard and training for swim team. Inspired by the awesome set of Lady Haymaker basketball coaches, she combined her farm work ethic with a fledgling love for the game and began building the necessary set of ball handling skills.

ibb5

megbbalblizzard

I look at my favorite blonde cowgirl and I see my work-a-hol-ic nature combined with a unique zest for life. This combination packs a powerful punch that we fondly refer to as the art of Meganizing.

I recognize that personal need to make a difference that she wears on her face.  It gleams in her eyes both on the basketball court and on the farm — even when the rest of her face is covered with a matching cold weather mask while she scoops snow out of feed bunks in a blizzard 😉

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Winning the Day With Team Work and Faith…

Monday night our family trekked 60 miles north to watch the Cozad Haymaker Boy’s High School Basketball Team win the C1 District finals.  Their success earns them a chance at the Nebraska State C1 Basketball title next week.  My favorite farmer and I have been fans of our Haymaker basketball teams since moving back to Cozad in 1997, and this year the group of young men that represent our town have warmed my heart with an impressive search for excellence.

Faith, Perseverance, and teamwork propels them to achieve greatness...

Faith, Perseverance, and Teamwork propels them to achieve greatness…

Like many small town basketball teams, the Haymaker squad is made up of a cross section of athletes that call many different sports their own.  Each week during the long winter season, they don their Haymaker jerseys and take the court as their community cheers with passion.

The heart of our team is their ability to work together to achieve a common goal.  The unselfish mental and physical support that they offer to one another is truly remarkable.  They may not realize it, but this life skill is one that will bring them success for the rest of their lives.

Unity for the common goal and love for each other brings them success...

Unity for the common goal and love for each other brings them victory…

On the morning of the big game, one of the mothers of the players posted these words on her Facebook page:

There is an “F” word that is often easily said, but can seem so impossible to express: Faith. At times it can be buried so deeply, we wonder if we will ever be able to unearth it again. Faith can be difficult to find when faced with disappointments, worries, and sadness. However, those same times can be replaced with encouragement, joy, and a feeling of being content. And it’s all because of that “F” word: Faith.

Tomorrow night, two towns will come together to cheer their basketball teams on, one more time, during the 2013-2014 season. For one team, their season will end. For the other, it will be extended to the state tournament next weekend. I’m certain the phrase, “Have faith,” has been spoken, but has it really been expressed?

To our Cozad players: I have faith in your God-given talents and abilities, and know you will let them shine tomorrow night. I have faith in your peers, and know they will be with you, either in the stands or back home listening to the radio broadcast. I have faith in your teachers, who even though may not verbally wish you good luck, will be anxiously awaiting the outcome. I have faith in our coaching staff, who may have frustrated you at times, but did so with the intention of getting out of you what was needed. I have faith in your families, who have been with you on this journey, and will continue to be, regardless of the final score. Finally, I have faith in your biggest supporter….Jacob….who will encourage you, cheer for you, and be so proud to be sitting beside you on the Cozad bench.

The mother’s son, Jacob, transitioned from a star player to a fledgling coach when he sustained a life changing knee injury on the football field last fall.  While each one of our Haymaker athletes have given something special to our town this year, Jacob is my unspoken hero.

There was likely not a mother in attendance whose eyes weren't damp as Jacob cut the net...

There was likely not a mother in attendance whose eyes weren’t damp as Jacob cut the net…

  • It is his quiet presence that inspires bravery and unselfishness.
  • It is his mature guidance that creates strength of character and resilience.
  • It is his unwavering faith that guides his team to greatness.

    A gym full of small town community members that traveled the extra mile to cheer on their team...

    A gym full of small town community members that traveled the extra mile to cheer on their team…

Today I salute a special young man, a special team, and a special community.  I count my blessings to be able to call Cozad home.  It is in the heart of Rural America, and has a heart filled with people with tremendous faith.

Go Haymakers!

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It Comes From Within…

My favorite teenager started playing basketball in a local youth recreation program as a fourth grader.  During her first game, she was a timid shadow on the court and I am pretty sure that she never touched the ball.  Her fear of fouling and lack of confidence caused her to choose to not engage on the court.

My favorite teenager at age 10...

My favorite teenager at age 10…

I believe in the power of positive reinforcement and have a rule that after each one of my girls’ sporting activities, Matt and I always compliment them on something that they did well.  I’ll never forget the look on Matt’s face as he visibly struggled to find something positive to say to Ashley Grace after that game.

Matt ended up placing a bet with our little 10 year old basketball protégé knowing that, given her personality, it would be an effective catalyst for positive change.

He bet that she couldn’t make a foul in the next game.  When she proved us wrong (and made a foul) we went to Dairy Queen as a family after the game for ice cream.  That first foul was the beginning of a new era as Ashley Grace learned that in order to be successful, you have to engage.  Mistakes will surely be made, but in the end engagement is the key.

A few years later, looking for a good shot...

A few years later, looking for a good shot…

Over the years, we have watched our daughter turn into a very good defensive player.  Today, she is often given the job of guarding players much larger than herself because her quickness and persistence make her incredibly effective at shutting them down.  She has learned that no matter what obstacle is placed in her path, success is something that comes from within. 

The girl in maroon is just slightly bigger than my favorite #32...

The girl in maroon is just slightly bigger than my favorite #32…

Her days of non-engagement on the basketball court are long behind her.  That timid ghost has steadily been replaced with a confident contributor.  Thursday evening I watched her sink two free throw shots in the last minute of the game to lead her team to victory.  I have to admit that I was blinking back the tears as I watched the composure and strength of character shine through.

The 10,000 baskets that she made "on a bet" last winter provided a good foundation...

The 10,000 baskets that she made on another bet last winter provided a good foundation…

As a parent I often struggle with the balance of helping my daughters and letting them learn to do things on their own.  Over the years, I have settled into a place where I try to always offer support and direction but at the same time step back enough to allow my girls to become strong and independent young women.

They will determine their own futures, it is my job to inspire confidence and strength in them so that they are successful...

I believe that allowing them that freedom teaches them that true strength comes from within…

After all, when the buzzer sounds in the game of life, it will be up to them to make the ball drop into the hoop…

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The Transition…

My favorite teenager made the transition last week from Cross Country to Basketball.  As always, she lamented the end of the XC season as running is her first love.  However, she is excited for basketball and looking forward playing a little bit of hoops 🙂

From the XC course to the basketball court...

From the XC course to the basketball court…

Ashley Grace shares many things in common with me, but struggling through transitions ranks near the top.  We are both creatures of habit and changes to our life schedules are challenging to deal with.  I am proud of the way that she is maturing and learning to deal with transitions as that is an important life skill.

As I wrote about earlier in the fall, we just built a new shop/steel building behind our house.  Knowing our girls’ love of sports and their need for some “active decomposing” time in their lives, we built the new shop with a high enough roof pitch to be able to make a partial basketball court in the building.

My favorite farmer with his favorite teenager...

My favorite farmer with our favorite teenager…

My favorite engineer turned farmer teamed up with my favorite teenager over the weekend to paint the court.  I love to watch Matt work with the girls.  The engineer in him mandates a level of precision while doing tasks, yet he is also extremely patient with the girls as they work together.

Getting ready to paint...

Getting ready to paint…It’s the hard knock life!

I doubt that my girls really understand how truly lucky they are to have such a wonderful dad, but I thank God every day for all that Matt brings to our lives.  While there is certainly more to life than straight lines on a basketball court, it doesn’t get much better than completing a project that will bring joy and memories for years to come.

Teamwork...

Teamwork…

Today I head to Dakota City to attend my second Tyson Fresh Meats Animal Wellbeing committee meeting.  Although I will miss both my family and the farm, I know that I leave them in capable and loving hands.DSC07240

It is always interesting to arrive back home after a couple of days on the road—I know that I can count on my favorite teenager to tell the entertaining tales of life with my favorite farmer steering the helm…

Or perhaps the helm will actually be steered by the basket swooshing teenager...

Or perhaps the helm will actually be steered by the teenager…?

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