Thursday, October 23, 2014

Three Shades of Gray

I guess I need to come up with new aliases for my friends when I write about them on the blog. The Charlatan hasn't lived in Charlotte for years. Subway hasn't actually been a sandwich artist for will over a decade. And, as of this past weekend, the Other Single Guy isn't single anymore

Mark married Peyton in the sanctuary of Second Baptist Church on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Candles were lit, songs were sung, vows were spoken... spake? Spoken... yeah. The happy couple got hitched without a hitch. The only obvious hiccup involved several suits worn by the groomsmen.

All the suits fit just fine, so that's probably the most important thing. However, mine was two shades darker than Mark's. Andy's was somewhere in the middle. I'm not sure what the big deal about having multiple shades of gray is. Maybe it's more exciting when you have fifty instead of just three.

Thankfully, it turned out to be not so big a deal. None of the guests laughed or made inappropriate comments when the groomsmen walked in. The bride didn't call off the whole thing when she saw darker suits thrown in amongst the guys.

No, it was a beautiful ceremony and I only nearly passed out twice. I knew not to lock my knees, but that didn't stop me from swaying. I'm sure the swaying wasn't too noticeable, but I felt like a skyscraper moving back and forth in strong sustained winds. If I'm ever in another wedding, remind me not to wear brand new shoes. By the time the groom was given permission to kiss the bride, I had so many multiple blisters.

"You know, it's gonna be coming at you from all sides now," said Andy as we drove around Richmond the morning before the wedding. He was referring to the increased possibility that my friends would try to set me up with a plethora of single women. This is the obvious result of being the last remaining single guy among our circle of friends. Personally, I'm banking on the fact that these guys have been all talk over the last ten years and have still not attempted to start playing "Have You Met Aaron?"

Mark, Brandon, and Andy all collectively talked to me about the virtues of one of Peyton's bridesmaids. I'm not a big fan of the set up, so I tried to talk them down. Knowing my friends' tenacity once they've made up their minds, I was prepared for some clever move on their part. Yet I find it interesting that none of them so much as introduced me to the woman in question. See? All talk.

I'm okay with that. I can't lie and say that the thought of being the last single guy didn't loom over my thoughts a bit throughout the weekend. But here's the thing, I keep busy. I may not see these fellow Bluefield alumni as often as I'd like, but that doesn't mean I don't have other friends. Shocking, I know. I have two jobs that keep me pretty well occupied and am about to start taking classes toward becoming a teacher. So maybe dating just shouldn't be an option right now.

Aw... who am I kidding?

Monday, September 29, 2014

The First Blog Post of the Rest of My Life

Well, Internet, it's been 17 days since my last post here at Carp Dime. And the posts were sporadic for a while before that. The reasons for my lack of writing have varied and I apologize to the multitude of cyber stalkers that have, no doubt, been waiting on the edge of their seats to find out what I had to say next.

First, let me assure you that I am alive and well. I've been living happily these past eight months in the year 1885. I kid. Life and work have actually been keeping me very busy. Not necessarily in that order.

Recall that I have two jobs. Both of which I (mostly) love, but they do keep me on my toes. By day I'm a counselor. By later in the day I'm the Children's Ministry Assistant at my church. It's the counseling gig that seems to take up most of my time, though I wish it was the other way around.

I will say the kids' ministry thing is pretty awesome. When I first thought about applying for that position, the Charlatan told me, without hesitation, to do it. He said it would change my life. I'm not sure that it's changed my life yet, but it's certainly changed the way I see things and the way I approach ministry. The kids at my church are pretty amazing, but I could be biased.

Counseling is great and it can be incredibly frustrating and rewarding at the same time. Honestly, if the entire job was about spending time helping kids, I'd probably be happy to do it for the rest of my life. But they throw in that pesky paperwork. It piles up. It's overwhelming. It basically leaves a bad taste in my mouth regarding this line of work.

After weeks of feeling overwhelmed and getting tired of feeling tired so much of the time, I've decided to make some changes. I've taken the first steps toward earning a license to teach history on the high school level. I'm gonna be a teacher when I grow up.

It's something I've wanted to do for a long time. But, for some reason, I've never felt motivated enough to make the change and take action. In a few weeks I'll take some required exams. I'll apply to an accredited university to take some required classes. And by the end of next summer, I will be ready to have my own classroom.

Now, I realize that, in the past, I had two jobs and still made it a point to post regularly. But back then I was working at a bank and delivering pizza. I hated it. Both of those jobs gave me plenty of things to write about. Blogging became therapeutic for me. For reasons of confidentiality, I'm unable to share about my days at school. You'll just have to trust me when I say that they're usually pretty entertaining. Until the paperwork starts. That part isn't so much fun.

So changes are coming. I'm pretty excited about it. Wish me luck!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Straight Flush

It's been a while since I did one of these posts in which I, a non-parent, dish out some parenting advice. Really, I've only done two such posts. The first was concerned with how parents should be involved in their children's schools. The other involved the legendary nap time. Today's topic? Poker.

Just kidding.

There is a time honored rite of passage in the lives of every child. It's a period that usually occurs during the toddler stage of development and can be extremely traumatic for both parent and child. I am, of course, referring to potty training.

But I don't really want to address the issues that are directly related to potty training. No, this post is about the years that follow. Parents, as you look ahead to your child's elementary school years, I implore you, teach them to flush.

Strolling into a bathroom stall, finding clear water in a toilet should be the norm, not a bonus. All too often I'll walk into the school's restroom and find things left behind by previous users. It's gross.

Sure, there's a bathroom that's designated for the grown-ups that work in the school. But it's not always unoccupied. Sometimes it's just more convenient to hit a restroom with more than one stall.

the thing is, my using the teachers' bathroom doesn't really fix the problem at hand. Sure, I don't have to see what some kid has left behind, but does that stop the next child from having to deal with it? If your kid isn't flushing at school, do you think they're flushing in other public places? Are they flushing at home?

Just ask yourself this question: Do I like walking into a bathroom to find the deuce floating in the toilet? If you answered yes to that, please contact me so I can point you in the direction of a very helpful psychiatrist. If you answered no, assume that no one else likes that either. Do us all a favor and teach your child to pull that little lever and flush it down.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

A Fast Food Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a Burger King. 
This king fell in love with a Dairy Queen. 
Both having royal blood, this called for a lavish ceremony. 
The only appropriate venue, of course, was beneath the legendary Golden Arches. 
The wedding was officiated by none other than Long John Silver, who, as a ship's captain, was legally able to marry the king and queen. 
Standing next to the king as best man was the incomparable Colonel Sanders. 
Once the bride and groom completed their vows and said, "I do," the Taco Bells rang in celebration throughout the land. 
The happy couple waved good-bye as they boarded the Subway. 
With a Sonic boom, they traveled to their honeymoon destination. 
A year later, their royal couple made headlines when they adopted a little red-head named Wendy. 
The princess received many gifts from the kingdom's subjects, including a Jack-in-the-Box and Checkers.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The True Story of a Persistent Spider

Over the last few weeks, I noticed something creepy on our front porch. The title should give it away, but I won't beat around the bush. It was a big honkin' spider web.

Now, we don't have much of a porch. It's not the kind of thing that you can set rocking chairs on and relax the day away on with a tall glass of iced tea. No, it's just a set of stairs that lead to a small landing where we enter our townhouse. Nothing fancy.

So there isn't a lot of space there. A couple weeks ago, I noticed that an unseen spider had built a massive web that stretched from just under our mailbox (which is located right next to the storm door) all the way to the end of the railing at the top of the stairs. As webs go, this must have taken a spider quite a bit of time to build.

The only logical thing to do was destroy it.

But, without getting rid of the spider that built the web, it was likely that a new web would take its place the next day. And the cycle of building and destroying went on for several days.

One evening, I got home after the sun had set. And there, in the center of another massive web, awaiting its insect prey, was our nocturnal friend. And the size of the spider made complete sense when considering the size of the web. It was huge.

I didn't want to mess with the thing while it was on its home turf. But I'm considering my options. I think there's only one course of action left to take.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Top 10 Robin Williams Movies

With school starting tomorrow, today's been something of a busy day. I've managed to steer clear of a lot of social media for most of the afternoon and evening. And then I got home a while ago and was shocked to read about the apparent suicide of Robin Williams. I'm not one to often gasp, but I literally gasped when I saw the headline.

It's sad to hear news that anyone has taken his or her own life. But for some reason, it seems to really affect people when it's news of an entertainer who is beloved by so many. Robin Williams played a lot of roles throughout his career, both serious and hilarious. What follows is my personal top 10 list of Robin Williams' films. Like most of my top movie lists, these are gleaned from Flickchart.

10. Bicentennial Man - What's not to love about an android who endeavors to become more human? If Data can do it on board the Enterprise, why can't Robin Williams?
9. Night at the Museum - Has anyone ever portrayed Teddy Roosevelt in such a believable manner? Has anyone else ever portrayed Teddy Roosevelt?
8. Jumanji - This one hasn't really aged well. It's still a fun movie with a good story. But the CGI is kind of pathetic when you compare it to today's technology.
7. Dead Poets Society - Why didn't this one rank higher on my list? Fantastic movie. I'm gonna have to write a strongly worded letter to the Flickchart people about this. Or maybe I should just go in and re-rank it myself.
6. Mrs. Doubtfire - This is probably the one most people think of when they think of Robin Williams. There was talk recently of a sequel. Guess that's off the table now.
5. Good Will Hunting - Another of his more serious roles. Another fantastic movie.
4. Aladdin - This is probably the other one that most people think of when they think of Robin Williams. Remember how they tried to replace him with someone else as the genie in the direct to video sequel? Couldn't hold a candle to the original Genie.
3. August Rush - If memory serves, he played a pretty big jerk in this one, right? It's been a long time since I saw this movie. But I really liked it.
2. Hook - I'm a little surprised this wasn't my number one. As I compile this list, Hook is the movie I've chosen to watch in memory of Robin Williams. Bangarang!
1. Patch Adams - I'm not complaining about this ending up as number one. This is actually a very good movie, but I have a really hard time watching it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Welcome Guests: Nicole Holden

Welcome back to the Carp Dime Guest Blogger series. Today's post comes from The Most Awesome Person I Know. At least, that's how I've referred to her on this blog in the past. Nicole Holden is the mother of five pretty outstanding kids. Her favorite movies are A Knight's Tale and Terms of Endearment. Her favorite books are The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer and A Scandalous Freedom by Steve Brown. Nicole keeps her own blog over at All Things New... Go by and say hi to her!

Faith Renewed

Initially, when I received Aaron's email, my response was no. Writing on the fly is not my forte. I don't have the uncanny ability to pull a post out of the air like my friend Aaron. However, I decided to give it a try when I noticed there was a writing prompt. A life experience and the way it changed me. Aaron knows my story all too well as he walked it with me playing a large role in what has become THE life experience that forever changed my life.

The full story takes days to tell, but it includes a horrific divorce, being cast aside and rejected by a church and an excruciating custody battle. The journey I walked sent me on a discovery leading me to dig deep into my faith. It was a roller coaster of events in which Jesus got a hold of me and changed me from the inside out. He took a broken-hearted, faith-doubting girl and totally transformed her. I have become desperate for Him and it has changed my world and who I am in every way.

The part of my story I would like to share started back in 2008 when I prayed a prayer that led me on a journey I was unprepared for. It began when I was reading the story of Abraham and Isaac. I was overwhelmed by the enormous faith of Abraham when asked by God to sacrifice his only son. I remember that morning very clearly. I wanted to trust God for all things. I wanted to know Him the way in which Abraham knew Him. I yearned for that kind of faith. In fact, this was the prayer in my journal that day...
Father, help me to relinquish the hold I have over my own life, the lives of my children and the things that I do. Let me not doubt when You speak or move in my life. Make me Your servant, righteous and faithful, ready to say "Here I am" when You call.
Never would I have imagined the course my life would take over the next four years. In 2009, the battle began. The nastiness of divorce entered my life, but that situation alone was only the beginning. Divorce is nasty and ugly, but not as ugly as the custody battle that ensued. It was a battle full of fear and devastation. But God had a purpose and a plan for it all and because I trusted His word completely I was able to treat water without drowning.

In January of 2011, my pastor preached a sermon that changed the course of the path I was traveling. In his sermon, he used the verse, "Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable." (Romans 12:17) My heart was heavy. As I sat listening, God was tugging and asking me to trust Him. After several years of lawyers and multiple court appearances, I knew it had to end and I had to walk away. God was leading me to depend solely on Him and nothing else. As I read and reread Romans 12:17 I could not ignore the words, "do not repay evil for evil" but even more so the words that followed: "Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable." There is NOTHING honorable in the throes of a custody battle. Nothing. It is one parent doing everything in their power to destroy the other parent. No attorney, if doing their job correctly, can help you win without you doing something that is not honorable. I could not escape that truth. I had prayed a prayer in 2008 for a faith like Abraham and God was now asking me to trust Him completely to fight on my behalf. This was a scary step to take and those around me did not understand my choice but I knew God was a big God. I knew He loved me. I knew that He not only cared about me, but even more so for my innocent children. I knew I had to trust Him.

I was scared. I was so very afraid. These were my children. There was no one standing by me with the ability to communicate physically or verbally with another attorney. The opposing side had no concern for the well-being of my children. For this attorney it was the sheer thrill of victory. The day we entered the courtroom was terrifying. I walked in with only my mom and a young girl who had spent years babysitting my children. It was the three of us against at least a dozen people. As I walked in and sat down at the table a Bible sat before me. I opened the Bible to Exodus and found chapter 14, verse 14. "The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm." I claimed it. It was mine. I just needed to be still. For the next few hours I sat and listened as each person placed their hand upon the Bible swearing to tell the truth but chose to lie. I remember thinking this is not honorable. I will not repay evil for evil. God will handle it. Those are two days of my life I will never forget. They were scary, but at the same time, I felt the presence of God in such a way that, to this day, I shake in awe of His incredible faithfulness. I never felt alone. It was as if He was sitting next to me throughout the entire process. I left, not thinking I had won the battle, but instead knowing I had glorified my God and He was pleased.

The next month my world was shattered. On October 31, 2011, I received the document that stated that my children were no longer mine. In a matter of seconds, the time it took to open a document, my world ended. I remember the phone calls with my mom and now husband as they both sat in disbelief at what was happening. It did not make sense. None of it made sense. That same evening I also remember the different people God placed in my path and around me to love and minister to both my children and me. He continually made Himself known. He was there. He was in control.

So remember the prayer I prayed in 2008? Surprisingly enough, it was the furthest thing from my mind. I was not thinking in that direction. Instead, I was on my tiptoes searching for any sight of God I could find. Then the moment came. I received a phone call in which I was told a family member had stated that "she had to have done something wrong in order for a judge to take away her children," and it began. The crushing wave of hurt and rejection was the motivation I needed in that moment. I no longer had to stand on my tiptoes looking for God because He walked into the room and revealed Himself in the most majestic way. Suddenly my prayer from 2008 resurfaced. I had asked for this moment. I had prayed for this moment. I wanted the faith of Abraham and God was going to answer my prayer. One of the hardest things a mother can endure is being separated from her children and that is what had to happen. I came to realize throughout the course of my divorce and custody battle I had trusted God for many things. I had relied on Him and listened to Him but still held back a piece of myself. Part of my heart was His but the rest belonged to my children. The fear of losing my children kept Christ for sitting completely on the throne of my life. My children had become my idol. Much like Isaac had become for Abraham when God asked him to sacrifice his only son. God was in control. He knew my prayer and He knew my heart. God knew what I needed. I needed Him. I was desperate for Him. I had been holding back, but the time had come to turn it all over. He had to take my children. Peace came to rest in my heart.

In 2012, things in my life began to take a turn. On a Sunday in January, I felt God clearly calling me to become part of a church plant. There was a moment of hesitation and doubt, but I knew I had to follow. A couple weeks later, God placed an incredible young couple in my life who were also part of this church plant. The husband was a young attorney who had just passed the bar and after sharing some of my story he took on my case pro bono. This was the second time God sent someone to be a physical reminder that He was there and fighting for me. Now I am sure you are wondering why the attorney now? This situation was different. This attorney followed Jesus. He sought direction through prayer from a God who controls all things. For him, it was not about winning. We were fighting for the safety and welfare of my children. This attorney became my "guardian" and my brother. His purpose was to deflect the evil that came my way, to pray with me and to help strengthen me in weak moments with the truth of God's word.

Throughout our times in court, my case was never heard. It was continued repeatedly as, behind the scenes, God worked out the details. As He continued to shape my character, heal my heart and grow my faith, I became stronger. Wonderful things started happening in my life. In August of 2012, my now husband proposed to me on the beach in South Carolina. It was magical! The tide began shifting. Less than four months later, we were married in the sweetest of ceremonies. On that same day, as we celebrated our marriage with family, I learned that I would be an aunt for the first time. By Christmas, I was greeted with the exciting news that I would be an aunt of twins. But the greatest of all events occurred less than two months later, when my children were back home... for good.

You see, sometimes in the darkness of our storm we cannot see God or feel His presence. His plan is unclear. We doubt and worry with fear, forgetting He has everything under control. His plan is perfect. I never thought the pain would end. But it did. God allowed the wounds that cut so deep into my heart to break me into a million pieces. His purpose: for me to become so desperate for Him that He alone could make me whole and heal my every hurt. And He did. He took all the broken pieces and turned them into an amazing tapestry of His love and grace. It is amazing. But not only did He heal me, He restored to me not just the things that had been taken through the pain but He gave me back even more. More love, more grace, more knowledge and understanding of who He is, a longing to be more like Him and a desire to share more of Him with others.

I now have a life I would never have dreamed possible. It is not perfect, but it is a life full of blessings. My life is full. It only took thirty-eight years and a lot of heartache, but God has now given me more than I could have ever asked. I am a living example that no matter how many wrong turns your life may take, there is a "happy ending." All you have to do is choose to surrender your broken pieces, your life, to the only One who can turn it into a beautiful masterpiece of His amazing grace for His glory!

Links to the guest writers' posts...
1. Brandon Caldwell 
2. Vanessa
3. Landon Metts
4. Jeff Noble
5. Jennifer Mitchell
6. Mark Hipes
7. Nicole Holden

Monday, July 28, 2014

Welcome Guests: Mark Hipes

Welcome back to the Carp Dime Guest Blogger series. Today's entry is from a guy I've known just as long as I've known Brandon. Mark Hipes is the Director of Alumni Relations and the Annual Fund at Bluefield College. He earned an Associate's Degree in General Studies from Dabney S. Lancaster Community College and a B.A. in Christian Studies from Bluefield. His favorite movies are National Treasure and Rudy. His favorite book is The Last Amateurs by John Feinstein. Mark is a Christ-follower, a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend, and a fiance. He used to be The Other Single Guy, but in a few months he will marry the love of his life, Peyton Mawyer.

Sharing Christ Through Sportsball

Normally, I am excited knowing I will be mentioned on Carp Dime, but it’s a little nerve-wracking when you are writing the blog. I don’t know how you do this every day, Aaron – well almost every day… he has slowed up a little in his old age. I would like to mention that I was present for the actual “Carp Dime” moment… good times.

The question The Single Guy posed was “one experience you’ve had that helped shape the person you are today.” Thankfully the question posed was “one experience” and not “the one experience” because there are multiple people and events that have made an impact on my future.

With that being said, I am going to pick one – it was my first summer after starting College. I had applied to serve as a BSU summer missionary and had been appointed to serve on the Sports Ministry Team. There were 5 of us on the team. After two weeks of training under the tutelage of Kendal Shuler, we would travel the state of Virginia and use sports to tell kids about Christ. Since I was attending community college, at that time, this was the first time I had been away for home for an extended period of time. It was an amazing summer. It was tough at times. We didn’t always get along and I was normally the cause for that tension – I was pretty immature back in those days. It was a season of shaping for me. While I knew it to a degree at that time, I came to see the fruit of that phase of life in the coming years. That summer the Lord began a work in my life. I was learning who I was in relationship with Him apart from my family, my church and everything that was comfortable. I am grateful for that summer and those experiences.

Links to the guest writers' posts...
1. Brandon Caldwell 
2. Vanessa
3. Landon Metts
4. Jeff Noble
5. Jennifer Mitchell
6. Mark Hipes
7. Nicole Holden

Friday, July 25, 2014

Welcome Guests: Jennifer Mitchell

Welcome back to the Carp Dime Guest Writer series. Today's blogger is someone I've connected with through a mutual love for our mutual alma mater. And, to be honest, I felt a little strange typing in her full name into the title. To me, she's JMitch. JMitch works as the Administrative Coordinator for Student and Family Ministry at Hope Church in Richmond, Virginia. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Sport Science with a concentration in Sport Management and a minor in Business and Coaching. Her favorite movies are Remember the Titans and Varsity Blues. Her favorite book is Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. Her favorite TV series are Friday Night Lights and Grey's Anatomy. Her favorite college football teams (aside from the Bluefield College Rams, obvi) are the Hokies and Buckeyes. JMitch blogs over at jmitchloves, so go say hi to her!

Changing Plans, Changing Dreams

Some say they made the decision of where they were going to attend college for themselves. My decision was made for me (indirectly) by someone else. I don't think I ever really thanked them for that. It's so funny that all of this took place over 10 years ago, but in sitting down to recount it all, I'm so grateful that it did.

I was best friends with a boy in high school, who meant more to me than a friend at many moments in the course of our friendship. It never amounted to anything more than many, many, late night conversations on the hood of his car, and lots of other random memories that have since left my brain. We spent a lot of time together despite attending different high schools in different counties. He was fun, but not fun enough to spend the next four years of my life with in college. You see, I had the desire to start fresh. To not go to school with a boy, or with friends at all for that matter. I wanted to get out on my own--start the next chapter of my life's story without any ties to anyone else from my past--and I was very adamant about it. I knew this would be best for me, and thank goodness it was.

I had my heart set on Emory and Henry College in Emory, Virginia. If you asked anyone, it's where I was going to college. I had the t-shirts and the desire for a 6 hour drive to my campus in the mountains. I loved the idea of being far enough away from home that mom and dad couldn't just come and drop in and say hi, but close enough that I could get home if I needed or wanted to. I loved rural Southwest Virginia, and I absolutely loved the campus at E&H. I envisioned myself with a painted face cheering on the Wasps in football and rushing a sorority and adventuring to Bristol for nights out in the big city. It was quite the set up I had in my head. I'd applied and was waiting to see if I'd been accepted. And it all changed with a phone call.

My guy friend called me one afternoon and left me a voicemail saying I had to call him as soon as I could. I called him after I got out of school and remember the excitement emitting from his voice as soon as he picked up the phone.

Hey! Wanna go to Emory together??

Nope. Sure don't. Don't you remember my longing to start fresh? To be in a place where no one else is? To go away and to be me without you. Remember?

He must have forgotten. And I must have forgot my manners because I was so mean to him. It was as if he was taking my dream away from me. He'd received a full ride on a scholarship in his major, and he was going. And it didn't matter what my acceptance letter said--whether I was in or not, I wasn't going.

So, this forced me into re-evaluating my plans for college. I didn't visit anywhere else--I just applied to 3 other schools and got into all of them--even Emory and Henry. But it was not where I ended up.

It didn't take long for my heart to find its way to Bluefield College. I'd been going to Bluefield all of my life, as my dad was born and raised there, and my grandparents still live there. I'd brushed it off several times before, but now it was different. At this point, it seemed more appealing to me, and it turns out it was one of the best decisions I've made in my entire life. The experiences I had on that hill and the people I met there have changed my life. I grew up on that mountain. I learned really hard lessons, made a whole slew of mistakes, I figured out how to be an adult there, and I made friends with people who truly are pinnacles of faith and friendship. It's incredible how some buildings on a piece of land in Southwest Virginia really can change a life--and I'm a testament to that.

The experience of having a dream and then realizing that the dream isn't where you're supposed to be has really helped shape the person I am today in so many ways. I would not have had so many of the same experiences I had at Bluefield had I attended Emory and Henry. I certainly would not have the same friends or the same love for a town that I do now that I'm not living there. Life would be so different for me right now, and I'm so blessed that God knows better than I do, and that all thing work together for good for those that love Him. I am a Bluefield Ram, through and through, and I would not have it any other way.
Links to the guest writers' posts...
1. Brandon Caldwell 
2. Vanessa
3. Landon Metts
4. Jeff Noble
5. Jennifer Mitchell
6. Mark Hipes
7. Nicole Holden

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Welcome Guests: Jeff Noble

Welcome back to the Carp Dime Guest Writer series. Today's blogger is someone I've only known for about a year and a half. But he's also someone who's made a pretty substantial impact on my life since I started attending Northstar Church. In fact, he's the guy that has graciously allowed me to steal his idea of having guest bloggers take over here. Jeff Noble is the pastor at Northstar. He is married to Carolyn (met in college), Dad to Sam (17) and Adelyn (14). He's the author of Super Center Savior (It's good, I've read it. You should check it out). He earned his M. Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a B.A. from Ouachita Baptist University. His favorite movie is Fletch and his favorite book is Desiring God by John Piper. He's a regular blogger over at Notes from the Trail. Stop by and say hey!

Living the Fantasy

I'm honored to be a guest blogger here at Carp Dime. The assignment was to write about "one experience you've had that helped shape the person you are today." There are so many angles I could go on this, but I think I'll choose the most profound, fulfilling and friendship-begetting activity known to man: fantasy football.

Aaron probably had no idea who he was asking to write on his blog, but in the fantasy football world, I'm kinda a big deal. You see, I've been playing fantasy football since 1992. That's right, you whipper snappers! That's 22 years of experience. Those of you who think you're a baller just because you drafted Robert Griffin III? Consider this. I drafted Brett Favre as a rookie in 1993. Boom.

So here's how I got involved. I had just gotten married in May 1992 and started as a youth intern at First Baptist Church of Garland, Texas. I had been a seminary student for a year already in a four year program in Fort Worth. The youth minister was a friend and now my boss--Kevin Wieser--and he invited me to fill a vacancy in his league mid-season. So the 1993 season was the first time I participated in a draft.

Here's my roster for those of you who are NFL fans:

  • Chris Miller, Falcons
  • Brett Favre, Packers
  • Jim McMahon, Eagles
  • Christian Okoye, Chiefs
  • Ronnie Harmon, Chargers
  • Kevin Mack, Browns
  • Heath Sherman, Eagles
  • Darrell Thompson, Packers
  • Jerome Bettis
  • Natrone Means
  • Marvin Jones
  • Keith Jackson, Dolphins
  • Webster Slaughter, Oilers
  • Mark Duper, Dolphins
  • Mark Jackson, Giants
  • Don Beebe, Bills
  • Sterling Sharpe, Packers
  • Tommy Kane, Seahawks
  • Lin Elliot, Cowboys
  • Steelers
  • Bills
  • Packers
At any rate, those were the glory days of fantasy football. There weren't magazines about it, nor were there TV shows. When I told people I played fantasy football, I quickly had to explain that it wasn't raunchy or porn-related. Apparently the word "fantasy" conjured up all kinds of sordid thoughts among my Baptist friends.

Our "commissioner" was in California. He ran what we figured out was a pretty profitable enterprise. We'd send him $30, and he'd send us--in the mail--our weekly results and reports. We had to drop our starting lineups in the mail on a Tuesday in order for them to arrive in time. As a rookie coach, I remember the snickers on our live draft conference call when I drafted Marvin Jones (the top draft pick that year... unfortunately, he was a defensive player). The commissioner--probably as a joke--still put him on my roster, and I had to endure snide comments for several drafts after that.

When we finally moved to the internet for fantasy football, I was able to talk Carolyn into being our league's commissioner one year. We named the league Fantasy Queen Sports, which really gave my Baptist friends an eyebrow-raising.

Monday morning almost always found me with a copy of the sports page of the Dallas Morning News, poring over the boxscores, and adding up my team and my opponent's team scores. I'd repeat the process for a close game on Tuesday morning, to get the Monday Night Football game boxscore. Occasionally, I'd celebrate for a couple of days prematurely, only to find out when the official reports came in that I'd miscalculated and actually lost.

Those were the days before internet, and I remember spending a lot of time during the season, actually on the phone with other owners, trying to manipulate, cajole, and coerce them into making trades in a way that would benefit my upstart team.

Kevin and I were pretty competitive. We both kept notebooks of our teams, stats, and research. In a particularly weak moment one hot fall in Dallas, I remember he caught me with my hand in the trunk. I knew he kept his notebook in the trunk of his car, and when he ran in to the church to grab something, I popped the hood, jumped out of the car, and was in process of stealing trade secrets when he reappeared sooner than I accounted for. I fumbled around for an excuse, but no hail mary materialized to save my honor.

What has fantasy football done for me over the years? It's kept a group of long-time friends together in leagues who now live across the country. It's provided hours of enjoyment, taunting, and Sunday afternoon TV intrigue. It's made me knowledgeable of players across the league. It's also given me fodder for conversations with an increasing amount of guys over the years that I would have nothing in common with otherwise.

These days, it seems everyone is in a fantasy football league. Even gals have fallen in love with it, although 22 years ago, they were calling us sports nerds. One of the greatest joys has been the last several years when my son got in a league with me and fell in love with it. He actually won our league last year.

I was surprised to discover a hobby that I enjoy so much out of the blue. I've won several Super Bowls over the years (three in a row during one remarkable stretch). There have also been some not-so-proud moments.

I'll confess there have been some lazy mental moments in church on a Sunday where my mind has drifted to wondering whether I should change my lineup (and a few occasions where I actually did via my iPhone). To a group of college guys, I've even shamelessly compared my careful study of players in preparation for a fantasy draft to the preparation of Jesus in selecting his disciples, in a weak attempt to be relevant. Then there was the time Kevin figured out my login password (after we went high tech) and changed the score of my Super Bowl game, giving me a loss. I was devastated and moped around the house for 30 minutes until I realized that the scores had been tampered with.

This probably wasn't the post most would expect. I'd be happy to give it another shot, and I have blogged about my story here. However, fantasy football has been a part of my life for a long time, and it's definitely helped shape who I am today. By the way, it's about that time for fall prep!

Links to the guest writers' posts...
1. Brandon Caldwell 
2. Vanessa
3. Landon Metts
4. Jeff Noble
5. Jennifer Mitchell
6. Mark Hipes
7. Nicole Holden