The Stress of Christmas

 

 

     So many emotions flooded her young mind as she laid quietly in the dark. Her body was changing, and soon she would no longer be able to hide the secret that was swelling within her. Telling everyone and telling no one. Both seemed best and yet she was unsure. Her tears fell both from joy and fear, but she felt the strength to endure whatever would come her way. She was certain she would be safe even when the traditions of her culture might dictate otherwise.

     Days went by, and she traveled to visit her cousin to talk to her about her predicament. This visit confirmed what she had been told, so she returned home knowing that she needed to speak to the man that was to become her husband. Telling him her secret would be both scary and dangerous as he would then have the power to condemn her. She approached him carefully, and as she spoke, the words spilled out in waves that tumbled and churned before him. She was asking him to believe things that didn’t make any sense, and he was sure that she was telling him a lie. He left. Within a short time, though, he returned. An angel had now visited him too. Joseph was now ready to face the criticism alongside his bride-to-be, and he was determined to do the will of God.

     When it was time to travel to Bethlehem, Mary was very uncomfortable and tired. They moved slowly and carefully, hoping nothing would happen before they could get to the town. Finally, they arrived. They must have felt an incredible relief at the sight of buildings and people, especially with Mary so far along in her pregnancy and needing a place to rest. After being told no over and over again, a stable might have seemed a blessing. In these harsh and dirty conditions, our Savior was born into this world. No video cameras were catching the first moments, no nurses were there to wash him and wrap him up, no doctors arrived to inspect him or to assist in the birth, no relatives were in the waiting room. There were no pictures, no fanfare, nothing but a mother and a step-father who loved him. As they endured the labor and delivery after such a long journey, Mary and Joseph must have felt at peace for a moment as they stared at their newborn son. His tiny hands would grow and someday work with wood alongside his step-father. Later they would heal the sick and do many miracles that would show the power of God. Finally, those hands would be nailed to a cross and help support his weight as he slowly endured a painful and horrible death. I wonder if Mary looked in his face and considered how this small helpless child would become the Savior of the world.     

     In this season, we often rush around town to a variety of stores. Maybe we prefer to sit at home and let our fingers fly over keyboards to grab the gifts for family and friends we are sure will bring happiness and joy. We worry over the decorations and stress over Christmas productions and concern ourselves with a multitude of details that only matter to us. Maybe for you, the stress comes over getting the perfect picture for the Christmas card. For others, it might be the fuss over decorating the tree or the home. I think many might even feel stress over traveling to see relatives—plucking your small ones away from their presents for a long journey with uncertain rewards ahead like the family drama that is sure to come as everyone gathers. Whatever stress you may be feeling as you move through December, I hope you will take a moment to remember love…and sacrifice…and redemption. I hope you will consider that all of this is because a child was born. A Savior. The Messiah. The good news is that nothing else matters.

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Honor on the Football Field

 

I recently watched part of a series on the Medal of Honor recipients. The commentator mentioned that of the 40 Billion that have served our country, only roughly 3600 have ever received this award. The man honored in the show that I happened to see was named Sargeant Sylvester Antolak. His actions in WWII helped our forces eventually take Rome, one of the first major Axis cities to fall. This man and his fellow soldiers were pinned down by the enemy fire behind a wall. Instead of staying where it was safe or trying to retreat, Sergeant Antolak ran right into a spray of enemy bullets, taking three large round hits over the 200 yards that he covered. Each time he was hit and knocked to the ground, he would pull himself up and then run toward the bullets again. Even with a shattered humerus in his right arm, he continued to carry his machine gun and shoot as he ran. He eventually led his group to overtake the enemy and secure that area. The soldiers with him reported that even the German soldiers were in awe of this young man’s actions as he refused to quit. Later that same day, Sergeant Antolak lost his life as he continued his heroic deeds pushing forward deep into the enemy territory.

As they interviewed other Medal of Honor recipients on the show, one of the common themes I noticed was that none of them wanted to talk about what they had done, but they only wanted to talk about their friends or about what they had accomplished together. Even when receiving their accolades, each one deferred to those that had fallen and those that had fought along side them as if what they had done individually was not as important as their group and the mission. This attitude is exactly what I noticed when writing the book Perfect: The Building of a Championship Culture. The young men and the coaches of this magical team were and still are humble and mindful only of the team as a whole as if talking about the individual achievements was somehow not as important. Today, they have a bond of friendship and unity that has remained steadfast through the twenty years since their incredible year. This bond and their unity were so compelling that even the radio broadcasters of the championship game decided to name the Darlington Tiger team as a whole as the “player of the game.” Even they understood that these players worked and bled alongside each other and as one coach put it, “They checked their egos at the door.”

Read about their journey together and how the staff and players were able to find the intangibles that elude so many others.

Click HERE to purchase or sample

 

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When God Closes a Door

 

 

 

Recently, I listened to a short sermon about the importance of allowing God to close a door in your life so that He can lead you somewhere else. I’ve heard this preached my whole life, but on this particular day, it spoke to me in a new way. I knew the premise of the message was to let God have control, but my mind immediately recalled a problem that we had faced on a daily basis for several years and how frustrating doors can be.

We recently sold our home and downsized. In our former house, there was a bathroom closet door that was behind the entry door to the room. To get anything out of that closet, we had to close the entry door slightly to make enough room open the closet door. It was frustrating at times, and sometimes the two door handles would become entwined creating a 10-minute ordeal to fix them both. At times, I would be in a hurry and need something out of that closet while my husband might need to pass through the door. We learned how to coordinate this process, but it was somewhat aggravating at times. 

As I listened to the message about God’s hand on our lives and how He wants to guide us if we let Him, I began to think about those doors. If one was open, the other had to be closed. There was just no other way. Is that how it is some of the time when we are trying to go through a “door” in our lives? I wonder how many times we are stubbornly trying to open a door while God is trying to close it, never knowing the reason. There have been times in my past that I have held on to that door handle with everything that I had trying to make it work while God is gently blocking the door from opening any further. While I fought to keep the one door open, I never realized that it was blocking a new door that God wanted to open for me. Later, when fatigue and despair would overcome my strength, my fingers would slip a little, and I would lose my grip, allowing the door to close. Feelings of disappointed would overwhelm me and my anger would sometimes swell. Thoughts would race through my mind:

Why didn’t God let that happen? It was perfect for me!

Not getting what I wanted was bad enough but sometimes the sense of despair over not knowing where to go next would also creep into my thoughts. Soon, though, God would open a new door and show me blessings that I never imagined possible—many times giving me substantially more than I even knew to ask for in the first place. I’ve seen Him open doors that were “blocked” by the one I had clung to in the past. 

During my dating years, I had a few heartbreaks like most people. I remember thinking that I might not be able to endure it ever again and maybe I would never marry. The young men that I dated never seemed to work well with me, and no matter how hard I tried, each relationship would crumble and end in pain. When God brought my husband into my life, it was so evident that I had been wrong to ever worry about any of this part of my life. Tim was and still is so much more than I ever expected in a husband, and I was almost mad at myself for not trusting that God would lead me to such a perfect man for me. If I had only known what He had waiting for me, I might never have dated another boy.

Are you holding on to the handle of a door? Are you pulling against a force that is trying to close a door for you? Are you tired, frustrated, exhausted from the struggle? Trust in Him. Let go of that doorknob and relax. He is closing that passage to keep you safe and He has great plans for you. He cannot wait to lead you on a better course. Trust the One who has your best interest at heart. There’s a new door somewhere close. It may be hidden behind the one you are fighting to keep open. Maybe it’s time to surrender to the One who has never left you or forsaken you. He loves you and wants the best for you. Relax, release, and rely on Him. 

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Struggling for a Purpose

 

The end of fall sports seasons is near. Many athletes have completed their games while others are now entering playoff competition. Even though my children are now all gone, I still enjoy attending events to watch other kids compete. Besides, it’s the best way that I know to see my husband more.

We attended a regional cross country meet today. I willingly tagged along knowing that these meets are generally not long, and the sunshine and cold air were beckoning me outside. Of course, we had been outside late last night at a football game as well as attended many playoff games for field hockey all week. I had a pile of work back home to complete, but the drive into the country was beautiful and well worth the time away once more.

Cross country meets are unique in that they provide a chance to see athletes up close as they struggle and compete. I find it comical to watch the fans scurry around the course to grab another look at the runners as they pass. Something festive is always in the air as the crowds gather along the path to catch a glimpse of the athletes running along the course. Sometimes, people get a bit rude as they jostle and push for a good spot, but today everyone was cordial and friendly. I don’t know about you, though, but I have a tough time watching the kids as they run. Something always stirs in me as I see their faces up close, pushing their bodies past the pain to fight against every tick of the clock while willing their muscles and joints to give more with every step. Every course is different, and sometimes the temperatures swell or dip to uncomfortable levels. The face of each athlete tells a different story, and sometimes it isn’t easy to watch. 

Today, I was moved to tears a few times, and this is not unusual for me at these venues. My heart swells for these kids, and I want to hug each of them as they pass. I wish that I could tell them all that they are going to make it and they would believe me. I want to grab each child by the shoulders and make them understand that it will get better. My thoughts gravitate toward comforting them all and giving them hope until tears spill faster and I have to look away. 

And this it’s over. 

As we moved to congratulate our athletes, I had to remind myself that they did make it. The pain is gone, and they are now feeling better. The agony of those three grueling miles is now behind them and they can rest.

Athletics are excellent for kids of all ages. They get to experience hard work, struggle against adversity, work with others to accomplish a goal, and experience failure and success (both of which teach valuable lessons).

Thank you to all athletic directors and coaches for providing a venue for our kids to learn about life.

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Making a Splash

 

 

While my husband helps coach, I take pictures of the football team. It’s just something that I do with my nervous energy—something I can give back to the families so that they can sit and enjoy the games. 

This week, our team lost a tough game. It was difficult to watch, but the guys played hard. As has been every game this season, rain poured down almost the entire game, and so I was decked out in my rain boots and rain gear, carrying an umbrella as I snapped away along the sidelines.

We live next to the school now, so I walk to and from the games. Even in bad weather, it’s a beautiful walk and I enjoy it every time. As I began my walk home after the game this week, the rain was pouring down on my umbrella and I was thankful for my gear that kept me warm and dry the whole night. On the sidelines, my rain boots had become caked with mud and grass, so as I walked home, I tried to stomp off some of the debris. 

As I walked along the road home, I encountered many puddles, which I avoided to stay as dry as possible. Before long, though, I started seeking the puddles and rinsing my boots to remove all the gunk. I began enjoying splashing in the puddles so much that I found myself splashing more than necessary, and by the time I was almost home, I was actually seeking out every puddle that I could find.

I’m sure anyone watching would have instantly thought that I was insane and maybe you do, too, as you read this. I highly recommend that you try it sometime soon. Slip on some waterproof boots and grab an umbrella and don’t worry about what the neighbors think. Even in the midst of a rainy cold night after a devastating loss, those puddles were refreshing and almost invigorating. I submit that you will enjoy this little pleasure, even if you have to do it in the dark when no one is looking.

I’m certain that the small things in life are more important than we think and the big things that take our time probably won’t matter to us much in our last days. I want to lay on my death bed and smile thinking about that rainy night when I didn’t care at all what others saw. I splashed in every puddle that I could find.

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The Story of Winning

A true story…

Three years before, they lost every single game. They were small and unnoticed and not one player seemed to garner any attention in the preseason rumblings. The predictions about this season were grim at best, and most believed that this would be a “rebuilding year,” but there was something unusual brewing in the hearts of these young men as they stepped onto the field for the 1998 season for the Darlington Tigers. No one gave them a chance to do much of anything, and so other teams and players in the area were highlighted and heralded. The Tigers began their first game largely ignored and forgotten, having “no respect,” as one of their coaches repeatedly told them.  Even as the wins began to stack up, these young men were often called “lucky,” and still few people saw what was growing inside them all.

It would be a year of surprises with explosions of speed and an uncompromised will that would produce a new definition for the word “TEAM,” creating a powerful “beast mode” that would not yield to anyone or any circumstance. The 1998 season would end after the 15th game in a town several hours away in front of a crowd of over 6,000 people. When it was over, not one of their opponents would be able to understand how they had been defeated, but they would always remember the night that they faced the young men from the 1998 Darlington Tiger football team. Imprinted in everyone’s minds would be the effect of their overwhelming desire to win at all costs with a dedication to each other and their purpose.  Amazingly, not one single senior would be a Division I prospect and the success on the gridiron was due to an uncrushable spirit more than talent alone.

Perfect: The Building of a Championship Culture

The story of winning.

 

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Football, Championships, and Winning

 

 

Winning.

That’s the goal of every season.

Years ago, there was a group of young men who began their season on the football field. There wasn’t much hope since they only had three returning starters and they had lost every single game when they played JV.

Something was different, though, and this time when they stood alongside each other they formed a bond and found their purpose.

The Tigers would experience sicknesses and injuries, but they would endure these quietly and without complaint.

The Tigers would be ignored in the preseason predictions and continue to be called “lucky” as they accumulated wins, but in response, they would seek to prove those people wrong.

The Tigers would face other teams with amazing talent and skills, but they were never intimidated and only continued to play their game.

The Tigers would face one obstacle after another, like last-second goal-line stands and a variety of moments when they were behind or must get a first down to survive, but they would continue fighting and they would never quit.

When the final seconds ticked off the clock of the fifteenth game of the season, they stood together on a field far from their home and claimed their title. When the season ended, it would be the team as a whole that was the hero. Not one single Division I player would emerge from the group of seniors and they could each claim an equal part in their title.

The 1998 Tigers were relentless, mean, committed, and intense, but most of all they were a TEAM. Not team with a small “t,” but a new definition of the word that requires all capital letters. This new word would now have an intensity that only they could understand.

And the 1998 Darlington Tiger football team was perfect.

Read the incredible true story and discover what qualities they possessed that allowed them to defeat every Goliath on their schedule until they stood alone as champions.

Click HERE

Available in both ebook and print editions

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The surprise is here!

The release date is October 1, 2018, but…

…the reunion is this weekend so…

I’m releasing early! The print edition is LIVE now HERE

The ebook will still say “Pre-order” but will be sent out on September 20!

SURPRISE!

Happy reading everyone! Spread the word!

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The New Book Release: Cover Reveal

The new book is almost ready! I’m looking forward to telling you the true story about a team with no limits and how they built a championship through defined winning traits.

The release date has been set for:

October 1, 2018.

What separates those who achieve greatness from everyone else?

A state championship is earned only by those who take it. Some teams will claw their way through a season and then fail in the end. Only a select few will find victory. What are the qualities that separate the winners from those who fall short? 

This story is about a group of young men who fought against all predictions and odds to become the only undefeated team in the state of Georgia in 1998 across all classifications, crushing their opponents week after week through an allegiance of pure passion. Discover the secrets behind the culture that produced this historic season and the intangibles that made them unstoppable…and perfect.

See the new cover below and stay in touch for more information!

Pre-orders to be announced soon.

 

P.S. Follow me on Facebook under The Green Author to get quick updates.

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Perfect: The Building of a Championship Culture

 

Just a bit earlier than expected…I decided to show you a little peek at the book. It’s almost finished. Here is a little taste of the contents!  Enjoy! Book cover, pre-orders, and release date announcements will be soon!

 

Rolling back the clock to the fall of 1998, the football practices began like any other year. My husband, Dr. Tim Green (he likes the title Coach Green better), was coaching the offensive and defensive lines. The group of coaches that he worked with were our friends and they were and still are amazing. We knew it at the time, but we know it even more now. Each one has gone on to great successes and has built legacies in their own way throughout their lives. Those young men that played on that field every Friday night and worked and sweated alongside each other throughout the week have now become men, fathers, husbands, and so much more. Many have now created successes in their own lives much like what they created together—effectively learning to be a champion not only on the field but also in life. The days when they pulled together one of the greatest feats in Rome’s history will never be forgotten. Unranked and unnoticed in the preseason, they rose to become the only undefeated team in the entire state of Georgia in any classification that year. They were David in the face of Goliath over and over every Friday night. No one gave them a chance. No one thought they had it in them. No one gave them any respect. Only they suspected what they could accomplish. They found those elusive qualities and bound them together in ways that cannot be described. They worked hard and depended on each other and they found a way to win every week no matter what they faced, focusing on one game at a time, one play at a time, one movement at a time…lifting each other up and refusing to quit. They found a way to be perfect.

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