Curveball

Curveball: (n) a pitch thrown with a strong downward spin

If I tell you it was his favorite phrase, I do not want you to assume he said it all the time.

But whenever he found himself in a predicament, an unusual situation or a circumstance not to his liking, he would utter:

“You threw me a real curveball.”

He was the minister of my hometown church—normally h just an average fellow. Occasionally, in the pulpit he became verbose, excitable and perhaps even profound. But once he took the few steps down from the Holy Desk, he was just a typical sort.

Except for the fact that he absolutely hated any form of transition.

Even when that change was for the better.

Once we were getting ready to go on a church picnic, and one of the ladies arrived late to line up her car in the caravan to the park. Pastor Fussy became distraught. When she explained that she was delayed because the owner of the IGA Grocery heard the church was having a picnic and offered a free ten-pound slicing ham for the festivities, the shepherd of our flock still grumbled, “Well, it would have been nice if he had done it yesterday.”

We must understand why the curveball came to be.

It is a pitch, if executed correctly, that causes the batter to reach for the ball before swinging. It doesn’t always strike him out—but if he does make contact with the ball, normally the hit will be a grounder and easily retrieved for an out.

I suppose at this point that I should tell you that life is full of curveballs. You might anticipate that I’ll make an analogy about how we should all be ready for the curveballs, and not swing and miss or get grounded out.

But actually, curveballs are unusual.

They’re not easy to throw.

They rarely stay in the strike zone.

So a good pitcher saves them up for the right moment.

I will say the same thing about our lives. We don’t spend our time preparing for curveballs—that would make anybody grouchy.

Matter of fact, I heard one batter say, “A curveball is so rare and hard to hit that when it comes my way, I step back to see what it does instead of messing with it.”

Here, here. May we all learn from that.

Preparing for disasters may be the easiest way to welcome one.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Crash

Crash: (n) noisily breaking into pieces

 Each and every one of us is the survivor of a crash.

Ironically, most of us don’t exactly remember the point of impact. It is not the horror of the event that strikes terror in us. It is the aftermath that haunts our souls.

The treatment.

The recovery.

The lingering, chronic pain.

The unanswered questions.

The insecurity that such a disappointment could happen again.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

We become protective. We look on ourselves as foolish because we were gliding along, believing everything was just fine, when we were speeding our way to a disaster.

So we slow down. Caution becomes our nature.

But worst of all, suspicion makes a home in our hearts. We are no longer free to love without having a questionnaire in our minds, needing to be filled out by those who would apply to be our friends.

We are damaged.

We’ve been given insurance—maybe even a measure of assurance. But the crash has left us leery, frightened to freely embrace, interact, experiment or give of ourselves quite as easily again.

So we not only miss opportunities, we turn our blessings—which have been with us for many years—yes, we turn them away at the door in anxiety that they might bring in dangers.

Once the crash has occurred, once the human being has been startled—whether emotional, spiritual, mental or physical—the rest of the journey is about regaining the childlike heart that allowed us to run breathlessly, without intimidation, before we were so rudely interrupted. 

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Circuitous

Circuitous: (adj) of a route or journey which is longer than the most direct way.

Five minutes. Three hundred seconds.

It is the best time you’ll ever spend–because:

Only the people who don’t know how to parallel park think it’s hard.

Only the folks who never took the time to learn how to put together their dining room table by following the instructions insist it’s
impossible.

Only the rogue souls who are totally convinced that anything outside their own thinking is intrusion will ever benefit from the beauty of counsel.

I don’t care how sure you are.

I don’t care how pure you are.

I don’t care if you think you have the cure.

Take five minutes.

Go over your plan.

Use your three hundred seconds wisely so you don’t end up in the middle of a disaster because you forgot to bring the right parts.

Then you can avoid a circuitous route–where you spend way too much quality Earth time trying to explain why going around in circles was better.

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Cerebral

Cerebral: (adj) characterized by the use of the intellect

A think tank.

Much of my thinking tanks. Does that count?

We are so impressed with the brain that we fail to read the instructions–like getting a new appliance. We unpack it and try to figure out its
intricacies as we go, instead of truly understanding its purpose.

The brain is where three distinctly different experiences collide:

  • Our upbringing
  • Our fear
  • New information

We cannot receive new information without fearing it and comparing it to what we’ve already been taught. So new information has to work really hard to displace old, faulty mind-wiring.

Because of this, our attempts to be cerebral or intellectual are often the rehashing of old outdated concepts.

Is it possible to give new information a primal position–where we have the opportunity to expand and grow with much more fluidity?

Yes, it is.

But we must take care of our fears and emotional inadequacies. We must get rid of superstitions. Then and only then does a fresh notion have a chance of gaining life in our cerebrum.

The world will continue to be a place of repetitive disaster until we understand that what needs to be done is not already in our brain–but will come as we open the door to greater understanding.

 

 

 

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Cement

Cement: (n) a powdery substance used to make concrete.

I was young. My idealism and passion were running far ahead of my common sense.

I met a fellow who wanted to start his own construction company. He explained that he had the knowledge–just not the bucks. An
opportunity had come his way to lay down the cement for a very large driveway.

All he lacked was the front money.

I was not totally stupid. I inquired of him. I asked him if he knew how to do the job–if he had any previous experience.

After about half an hour, I was convinced that all the gentleman needed was the chance to get his seed money so he could do the task and therefore give himself a decent start on a new career.

Matter of fact, he invited me to come down and watch him lay the concrete. So I did.

The truck arrived, poured out the cement. But my friend did not have enough workers to spread it out and smooth it down, so it began to harden–lumpy, uneven and just generally ugly.

I watched as he became frantic and finally gave up, as the cement refused to be pushed around anymore.

It was a disaster. Not only did he lose the money I gave him, but the client demanded that he make restitution and pay another contractor to do the job.

I learned three things that day:

  1. If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t invest in it.
  2. Passion is no replacement for experience.
  3. Cement hardens much quicker than we want it to.

 

 

 

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Calamity

Calamity: (n) sudden damage; a disaster

Regeneration.

I think that’s when alligators grow their tails back if they’re chopped off.

That doesn’t happen with humans. I know we don’t have tails–but if you cut off an arm, you’re left with only one.

Yet in many ways, the human race continues to contend that “things will get better if we just leave them alone.”

We will regenerate passion.

We will regenerate the values that seem to have slipped away.

We will regenerate racial equality (which was really never here in the first place).

Some people are waiting around to grow a conscience.

Other people insist they don’t have a soul, since they’ve stuffed it back in their closet and put a whole bunch of boxes in front of it.

Calamity is easy to understand. It is usually quite explainable.

It is not walking along on a sunny day and being struck by lightning. Rather, calamity occurs when we wait for solutions instead of working with the information we have to make things better.

It is the thought that since your tires are bald, they will not become balder.

Maybe it’s the notion that your child is no worse than any of the other kids in the neighborhood, simply because he has a similar haircut–but likes to kill cats.

Calamity occurs when life has warned us sufficiently, and reluctantly renders a judgment against us.

Without it, nothing would be fair.

And those who believe they are divinely protected from the by-products of stupidity need to be warned: God is not mocked. Whatever we sow, we shall certainly reap.

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Brink

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Brink: (n) a point at which something is about to happen; the verge.

Two pundits. Two opinions.

Contradictions.Dictionary B

One firmly states, “We are on the brink of disaster.”

The other enthusiastically counters, “We are on the brink of great success.”

Each one has a case.

Each one works off of existing facts, trying to convince the listener of the validity of his or her point.

Can they both be right? Or are they both wrong?

It is amazing to realize that most of the time, life continues at a snail’s pace, without disaster or success. Matter of fact, it takes a great intervention to produce either one.

But we are on the brink of a decision.

Are we going to leave things the way they are and let them play out? Or are we going to intrude on the trend to generate a new possibility?

There are certain ingredients for disaster. Arrogance and ignorance would be the pair which normally precede that devastation.

And there are ingredients for success. Kindness and creativity. For after all, nothing of human quality can be done without kindness, and if we don’t create, we have a tendency to settle.

What are we on the brink of?

It would be the hope of this author that we’re on the brink of a great awakening–a season when we’re no longer afraid to admit our weaknesses, anticipating that they can be forgiven, the door flung open to repentance…and that we can usher in a new life.

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Bless

Bless: (v) to invoke divine favor

Dictionary B

Somewhere in the jostling and bouncing between challenging and encouraging, we actually learn to bless people.

We rarely feel divine kindness merely by being challenged to achieve a code which lacks human sensitivity.

Nor are we truly blessed by only being encouraged to accept mediocre accomplishments as excellent.

I am human.

I need those around me to challenge me–and encourage me.

To do so, they must know my heart’s desire–what I really believe is valuable when I am completely stable and sane instead of drunken on my own excesses, or fearful within the boundaries of my insecurities.

God, Himself, cannot bless human beings without challenging and encouraging them. Yet the danger is that we will ping-pong our emotions between condemnation and adulation.

In the midst of every good deed, there’s a slip-up.

And also, in the presence of every disaster, there are pieces of truth which can be retained.

We become powerful when we learn how to bless.

To do so demands the juggling of challenge and encouragement.

 

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Beacon

Beacon: (n) a fire or light set up in a high or prominent position as a warning, signal, or celebration.Dictionary B

Flashing lights.

No one likes them.

I suppose they’re okay on a Christmas tree. But if you’re in a room for a long time and the decorations are too garish, it can become annoying.

We were taught that flashing lights warn us of danger or at least, pending inconvenience. So I guess we need them.

Yet by the same token, a world without flashing lights is a sudden discovery of disaster without any way to prepare or avoid it.

Therefore a beacon can be one of the more unappreciated necessities in the world. They appear in our lives at a very early age.

For instance, you’re five years old. The first snow has fallen and you want to run outside and play–throw it in the air and maybe make a snow man.

You are stopped.

A beacon–your mother or your father–steps in and feels the need to take at least ten minutes of your precious snow time to don you in garbs which inhibit your free movement, all because they want you to be warm and not get sick.

Who knows if they’re right?

It isn’t like you can look back and say, “Yeah, because I wore my ear muffs and toboggan, I avoided a cold.”

No, it’s just an annoying flashing.

And then, when you become a parent and find the need to “beacon out” some piece of wisdom or counsel, you suddenly realize that you are the annoying, flicking going on in the life of a child who loved you moments earlier, until you interrupted the flow.

Case in point: I just finished seeing family for Christmas. One of my jobs is to be a beacon.

That means if I see something that could be ridiculous, dangerous or lead to unhappy conclusions, it falls my lot to flash out a warning.

God, it’s horrible.

For you see, everybody wants to be a cheerleader and not the director of the cheerleaders, who has to decide whether the skirts are too short.

Yet a world without beacons would probably end up being one big explosion of light, producing destruction instead of intermittent blinking.

 

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Argumentative

dictionary with letter A

Argumentative: (adj) given to the expression of divergent or opposing views.

Our society has become proudly argumentative.

In the quest for individuality, place, purpose and respect, we have taken the chip off of our shoulder and thrown it at anyone who would challenge our alleged supremacy.

It’s time we lose some things:

1. Lose the desire to always win.

The greatest lessons in life follow an exhausting failure. Winners are those who comprehend the experience of losing.

2. Lose the need to be best.

You will be bettered. Our culture requires an ever-growing improvement which will occasionally place you in the rear instead of the front.

3. Lose an over-emphasis on self-esteem.

You need just enough self-esteem to have the confidence to humbly try the next project. Anything more is arrogance.

4. Lose the competitive edge unless you’re competing.

Not everything is a contest. It’s not important that you triumph in every disagreement. Your sex appeal depends on your ability to be sensitive, not overwhelming.

5. And finally, lose manipulation.

Life requires truth on our inward parts. If you think you can lie to people to get them to do what you want them to do, you will find that others utilize the same approach and you will never be sure exactly how good you are, or even who you are.

To avoid becoming an argumentative mob always on the verge of disaster, we must learn what to lose and what to gain.

Mainly, lose our false confidence…and gain opportunity. 

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