At the Casino: Lost Ball, Found Love

Hi Friends:

You’re right: I guess I should explain that “Casino” part first.

For years, Carol and I have been fans of women’s college basketball, due in part to the fact that we lived in Connecticut for several years, not far from the University of Connecticut. So, we followed the girls’ games closely, and, at one point even had season tickets to Gampel Pavilion, the UCONN Huskies home court. We’ve followed the team as far as Texas to witness the Final Four. Not only did we “know” the players, but we followed the college careers of other basketball players, as well.

So … when these players turn professional, we continue to follow their careers in the WNBA.
Today, there are players we’ve followed for over two decades, from several different teams. The closest WNBA team to us is down in Connecticut.

Let’s see … two paragraphs … and, still hasn’t gotten to the “Casino” part …

In our neck of the woods, if you want to see a WNBA basketball game, you have no choice but to go to the Mohegan Sun Arena, located inside the Mohegan Sun. That’s something like 270 miles away, but we are able to watch their games on cable television. I’m sure you realize that this post is not an endorsement of casinos, or even the WNBA, for that matter. I shouldn’t even have to mention how I personally feel about gambling in general. Gambling offers no “draw” for me, and I can honestly say that it doesn’t attract me, in any way. It is just a matter of fact that this is where the games are played.

There are also college basketball games played at the Arena. There are separate entrances for “under 21 years of age” patrons. I don’t know if I’ve ever used a “separate” entrance there, as I just park in the garage, and go into the closest entrance.

Yes … there may be much I could write about why … in a league where “gambling” is, I guess, illegal (I don’t know) … they put a professional basketball team in a casino …

Hey … the next thing you know … they’ll put a professional football team in Las Vegas …

Nah … that could never happen … Imagine what that could do to the “integrity” of the league?

Anyway … “back to the casino” …

We try to go to one WNBA game a year, and, this year, that was in the middle of July. Of the days we could go, the best game was against Minnesota. There are several players for Minnesota we are fans of, as well … We especially love and respect Maya Moore (former Huskie) … We didn’t see her … She has taken this year off to concentrate on Ministry and Family … Yes … Ministry …

We had great seats (I know you’d want to know that), and were even selected to a “meet and greet” with players after the game … The exact same thing happened at the last game we went to, last year …
This year, as we were in line for the photo/autograph session, we talked with a representative from the team, who gave us her card, inviting us to call her for a special deal on tickets to any game we wanted, for the rest of the season.

After a week or so, we hadn’t called her, but another representative from the team called us … and offered us an even better deal for “up close” tickets to any game remaining on the schedule … including being able to go down on the court and meet at least one player …

What would you have done???

So … there we were in August, back “at the casino,” watching the Sun and another of our favorite teams. We were really close to the bench … Great game …

It was then that “Part One” happened:
After the game, certain players remain on the court, and throw out, to the crowd, small basketballs … There were several players throwing the basketballs out, in different sections of the Arena … What are the chances that my favorite player would throw a ball toward me?
Sorry … I mean “toward us” … Carol had already come close to a tee shirt … But … could this actually happen???

I’m not making this up:
My favorite player … holding one of those little basketballs … walked over in front of … us … right there in front of us … and, (and I don’t think I am making this up) … looking directly at us … threw that little basketball directly at us … Directly at us … I reached out with both hands cupped together … the ball came down … it seemed to be in slow motion, yet speeding into my hands … it was like I was watching a movie … the ball landing squarely in the middle of my palms … right there … landed … I clasped my hands around the prize … and the ball, hitting my palms … bounced right back up … the momentum of the throw, bouncing off my hands, launching the ball into the waiting hands of a fan 5 rows behind me …

Never mind what I said.

I then went into mental “damage control.” I mean, I had the ball, from my favorite player, right there … she literally threw it to me … I mean to us … and I had it … right there in my hands … right in my hands … right in my hands.

Man … I am so glad to be an adult …

I’m serious … the ball literally bounced right out of my hands … I had it … I even had time to think, as it was coming down, the route I’d take down to the player to get the ball signed …

I tried to “shake it off,” and, certainly Carol was a tremendous help. Every time I had myself convinced that “that’s ok … forget about it” … I’d be ok for a moment, and then … I’d see that ball … coming down … into my hands … I had it right there … right there in my hands …
Then … “That’s ok … So what? So, I had the ball right there in my hands. Big deal. Get over it. So, it was thrown by my favorite player, and sent directly to me … Get over it. What a souvenir that would have made … That’s ok … forget it … Be grateful you were even here … that you had a chance to … forget about it …”

Would you believe that “that’s all I could think about” as we headed out?
I mean … I did have that ball right in my hands …
I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. …

Isn’t it great to be an adult?
Which means we could take the short-cut to our car, directly through the casino.
Every step I took … I saw that ball bouncing out of my hands …

Then, “Part Two” happened:
We had already planned to eat dinner at the casino after the game.
So, we walked around, trying to find a place that was open. I couldn’t believe, with as many events the casino hosts at night, how many restaurants were closed by 9:00PM. I was desperately trying to get that little basketball out of my mind. Funny how, in those few seconds the ball was in the air, I had envisioned where I would proudly display my autographed treasure …

We walked all over the casino, looking for a place that was open. After a while, Carol needed to find a restroom. No problem, I’ll just stay right here, and wait for her.
Which I did.
Until 30 minutes … 45 Minutes … Now, it was over an hour, and still she had not returned. Do you know what it’s like to just stand there … with your thoughts (of a little round basketball) while you are waiting? As each minute passed, I got more concerned. Then, worried. I walked around … finally found someone who could tell me where the closest restroom was … I waited there for a while, then thinking, “What if she went back to the original spot?” I returned to where I last saw her.
(Note to self: If you are in the middle of a crowded casino, in New England, never ask someone where the closet women’s restroom is.)

I was now beyond worry, and tried not to think all those things I was thinking.
Where was she?
What had happened?
I tried to stay calm, and not panic.
Man … that casino is a big place. And, every area looks pretty much the same to me.

It was then that it happened:
I felt I could do nothing more than just “stay right here” and continue to scan the crowd for a glimpse of her. It was then when it happened … and, it was just like a scene from a movie:
There she was!
She was standing there, alone … all the way across the casino, on the other side … there may have been a hundred people around her, but it was like she was alone, with a giant spotlight coming down, surrounding her. It was like all of the surroundings had disappeared. She was standing there; everything around her was blurred … like one of those photographs where the main focus of the picture is totally clear, and everything else is blurred … I then slowly walked toward her … I’m serious, it was just like a movie … me walking slowly toward her, now everything around me in that blur, but her, in the center, illuminated …
I will never, ever forget that moment. I can still see her standing there, and the look on her face.

As I slowly made my way toward her … I completely forgot about that basketball.

As I held her close, you can imagine how scared she was. She had gotten lost on her way back to our original starting point, and it all looks the same …

And … And …

I completely forgot about that little basketball …

For I realized that right then, right now … I was holding … in my hands … both hands …
the most important thing in the world to me …

Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

A “Clinical” Lesson: “If We Could See Inside Others Hearts” Video

Hi Friends:

One of the most powerful statements I learned during ministry training is this:
“You will never look into the eyes of someone who has not experienced great pain.”

Another statement to go with this is so simple, yet profound:
“You never know what someone else is going through.”

Over 4 years ago, I discovered this video, and have saved it until now.

Henry David Thoreau said:
“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”

I’ve driven past Walden Pond 2 times this week, and will write about an earlier experience at the Pond, at some later point.

For now, I’d like to share this video, making the point that, if you were able to see what someone else is going through … would you treat them differently?

This video was produced by the Cleveland Clinic, which is an academic medical center located in Cleveland, Ohio, and has the reputation for being one of the top hospitals in the United States.
They serve over 4 million people each year.
It appears that they have produced a series of videos.

Here’s a link to their hospital web page, which I share in gratitude for producing videos like this:
Cleveland Clinic

I will also share their Facebook Page:
Cleveland Clinic on Facebook

So … if you were able to see what someone else is going through … would you treat them differently?

Here’s the video:

What was Cooking in 1978: “Recipe For Happiness in the Home”

Hi Friends:

I was looking through some old cookbooks, and found this in the opening pages of a cookbook that was put together for the Bi-Centennial Celebration (1778-1978) for the Town of Effingham, New Hampshire.
That was 41 years ago.
There is no author listed.

The cookbook was put together by the Effingham Bi-Centennial Committee, and the introduction was written by Ollie Keller, Chairman of the Committee.

Once again, you just never know where you’ll find inspiration … just always “be on the lookout.”

Enjoy this “Recipe” from 1978:

Recipe For Happiness in the Home

Take one Christian man
Add one Christian woman
Use a marriage ceremony performed
by a minister of God
Stir gently with love
Add children as provided by God
Blend thoroughly with more love
and understanding in an atmosphere
of Christian fellowship
and devotion to God’s word.
To this mixture add a combination
of patience, humor, discipline
and self-sacrifice.
Sprinkle with just enough troubles
and cares to hold all
ingredients tightly together,
Add prayer continually
Allow to grow and brown slowly but
Thoroughly in the sunshine of
God’s grace and blessings.

Quote: What’s in Your “Pack?”

I never know where I’ll find inspiration, but I’m always “on the lookout.”

Recently, I was reading the November 1997 issue of “Northern New Hampshire Magazine,” the print edition, a monthly newspaper (long out of print) which offered mostly historical articles relative to “The North Country.” This particular issue featured “An interview with Screen Legend Fay Wray,” who used to visit Northern New Hampshire each year.

Also featured in the November 1997 issue were 3 book reviews, done by Cynthia Jordan.

One of the books reviewed was “Why I’ll Never Hike The Appalachian Trail … More Writings From A White Mountain Tramper,” written by Littleton, New Hampshire’s Mike Dickerman.

The book shares the author’s opinions on topics such as the use of cell phones “on the trail.” 

Keep in mind this was 1997, and, technically, the “cell phone” of that time was actually called a “mobile phone.” This was before texting, and, really, even before mobile phones could, as a standard feature, access the internet … and certainly, before “Smartphones” were in every hand or pocket.

Sounds like an “I’m not that old, but I remember …” entry.

Think about how mobile telephones have changed in such a short time.

Now, they seem to be almost a matter of life-or-death, a necessity. I have heard teenagers make statements like “I can’t live without my cellphone,” or “My cellphone is my life.” I know that may sound crazy to you … but just ask their parents … if you can get their parents off their cellphones long enough to attempt conversation.

Yes, I just wrote that.

‘Ya know … I’m not that old … but I remember … when there were no cell phones.

Anyway … back in 1997 … it was a serious debate on whether mobile/cellular phones were useful/should be taken on “the trail.”

In the review of “Why I’ll Never Hike The Appalachian Trail,” Cynthia Jordan adds that, in the book, Mike Dickerman comments that ‘cellular phones, while useful as tools, have no place in the backcountry because they can’t replace self-reliance.’

Then, she adds this quote from the book:

“What you carry in your pack is important, but what you carry in your head is even more important.”

He would add that we should rely less on technology … and, rely more on education.

The book is still available on Amazon.

To give proper credit, here’s a link to the book:
Why I’ll Never Hike The Appalachian Trail

I think I’ll add that quote again, from, yes, 22 years ago:

“What you carry in your pack is important, but what you carry in your head is even more important.”

June 29: “Day of the Christian Martyr” and the Groenewald Family

Saturday, June 29, 2019 has been designated as “Day of the Christian Martyr,” to honor the legacy of those who have sacrificed their lives for the advancement of the Gospel. June 29th is believed by church historians to be the day that the Apostle Paul was executed, on the Appian Way, in Rome. This year, Christians around the world will take time on Saturday and throughout the weekend to honor believers, like Paul, who sacrificed their lives for the gospel message and the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom.

This year, Werner, Rodé and Jean-Pierre Groenewald’s names will be inscribed onto the Martyrs Memorial in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, at the worldwide headquarters of “Voice of the Martyrs.”
In 2014, Werner, Jean-Pierre and Rodé Groenewald were killed when Taliban fighters attacked their home.

In 2003, Werner and his wife, Hannelie Groenewald, left their comfortable life in South Africa, when God called them to Afghanistan. Along with their two children, Rodé and Jean-Pierre, they served the Afghan people; Hannelie as a doctor, and Werner in discipleship and leadership development.

It wasn’t a popular decision. Some in their own families argued that God would never call them to take their children to such a war-torn and dangerous place. But, they accepted God’s calling. In addition to being a wife and mother, Hannelie became known as a teacher, doctor, and cook in a country not known for welcoming foreigners-especially women.

It was November 29, 2014: At about 3:30 in the afternoon, three Islamists broke into their apartment and shot to death Werner, Jean-Pierre and Rodé. After a two-hour standoff with police, one of the attackers detonated a bomb inside the building, killing himself and others, while the other two attackers were killed in an ensuing skirmish.

Hannelie’s life was spared because she wasn’t there: She had been called to the site of a U.N. meeting to provide medical care in case of an attack … which was anticipated … but, no one knew where the attack would take place …

We’d like to share these links with you, in addition to Hannelie’s own testimony via this video from Voice of the Martyrs:

First, here’s a link where you can read the full story of the Groenewalds.
In addition, you can view this video, and, also, there will be a link to enable you to hear the MARTYRS MEMORIAL INDUCTION CEREMONY, beginning at 9 a.m. CDT on Saturday, via Facebook Live, or you will be able to hear the recording of the ceremony beginning at 10 a.m.
Here’s the link:

Another link I’d like to share:
This is a direct link to VOM Radio (Voice of the Martyrs weekly radio program), where you can hear Hannelie Groenewald sharing the heartbreak of losing her family, and her testimony of the goodness of God to sustain her through her grief:
VOM Radio

Now, we share the video. We are honored to support the efforts of Voice of the Martyrs:

Why Not Me? Samuel F.B. Morse Quote Explains

Hi Friends:

When I was in School, one of the first inventions we learned about was the telegraph, and its inventor, Samuel F.B. Morse.

Recently, I read this quote from Samuel F. B. Morse, and his explanation of why he “just happened” to be the one who came up with the invention … His response resonated deep within my soul. We share this with anyone to whom God has given a vision, or a task, which seems too great for them to handle … A vision, a dream, which, when shared with others, may get a response like, “Why would God pick you to do this?” I think, also, that the person to whom God gives such a vision or dream to, may have the same response, deep within themselves: “Why would God give this to me?”

I hope this resonates within your soul, as well.

I think it was a football team, a couple of years ago, which had the motto of  “Why not us?”

The answer may be clearer than we want to think:
Why not us?

Samuel F.B. Morse once said that when he was confronted with problems, when he couldn’t think of an answer, “…whenever I could not see my way clearly, I knelt down and prayed to God for light and understanding.”

On May 24, 1844, Morse sent the historic first telegraphed message, “What hath God wrought!” from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore.

Here’s what Samuel F.B. Morse said, when asked why he was “selected” to bring the life-changing invention of the telegraph to the world:

“I have made a valuable application of electricity not because I was superior to other men but solely because God, who meant it for mankind, must reveal it to someone and He was pleased to reveal it to me.”

This one goes on the wall!


Graduation: What “Gets You There” Quote

As so many young adults (and teachers!) are looking forward to this year’s Graduation …
I think they are officially called “Graduation Exercises” …

Of course, I looked up the definition of “Exercise:”
“The act of bringing into play or realizing in action … regular or repeated use of a faculty … something performed or practiced in order to develop, improve, or display a specific capability or skill … a maneuver, operation, or drill carried out for training and discipline … to make effective in action … to bring to bear … to use repeatedly in order to strengthen or develop … something done over and over in order to develop skill …”

You just never know where you are going to get inspiration … I heard this while watching a documentary on television a few weeks ago …
I want to share this quote regarding the “Exercises” that “get you there,” under the lights, to celebrate a major accomplishment.

As with all great words of inspiration … it’s not meant for just one group, but for all:

“It’s not under the lights that counts.
It’s the sweat before you get there.”
Cassius Clay