Broken Cookie

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The young woman ascended the stage with frailty, dragging a cane up the steps in her left hand.

The pastor’s wife stood near, ready to help her if she tipped or became wobbly. Stepping to the stage behind the woman was her husband, cradling their infant. Neither of them were over the age of thirty.

“I’m not here to tell you that our lives are perfect or great,” the woman said with a mild slur into the mic. “Our last year has been filled with garbage.”

The couple spent a good portion of the year handling her husband’s Crohns Disease flare ups, and it took a lot out of them. Then in September their child was born, a beautiful healthy baby. Two weeks later the young woman had a stroke. It changed so much of their lives. Now she talks with a slur, and walks assisted. But through it all she portrayed a strength and confidence that transcended any cane or paralysis.

“Life continues to be hard. But we have a beautiful healthy baby, and we are still together,” she said. “I could sit back and wonder why it all happened. These events were put in our lives for a reason. We’ll find out why someday, and I would rather look ahead and known that what we’ve endured may end up helping someone else.”

Her mindset reminds me of a broken cookie.

It may be in two pieces sitting there on the plate. It’s not perfect. Some might consider it unpresentable. The crack may have been unexpected, and the crack may also be severe. You can sit there and complain about the broken cookie, or you can eat the damn thing and take in all the wonderful tastes and textures it still offers even in two pieces. A cookie is a cookie. It tastes like a cookie. Work with the two parts and you still have a cookie. Expecting that cookie to be an exact circle, and unbroken, is like expecting a perfect life that only exists on paper or in a movie from the 1950s. What happened to that young couple could happen to anyone.

Expecting perfection sets all of us up for failure.

Life is real and life is unfiltered. There will be hardships, trials, setbacks and sideswipes. We don’t always get the promotion. Sometimes getting a 4.0 doesn’t mean you’re on a track to moneyville. There are bumps in the road. Curve balls come out of nowhere, and next thing you know your path has completely changed. I will admit that I don’t always react well when faced with an unexpected trip-up. But lately I’ve worked on taking a different approach when sidetracked by adversity; I ask myself “where could this take me?” I also try to look at it in a productive way. It’s not easy giving up control over something that you feel must be done a certain way. For some people, it’s nearly impossible. But consider this: It could be that the sidetrack was actually the way something was supposed to happen, and not necessarily the original plan. I’ve discovered that unexpected opportunities have presented themselves by taking the unexpected path.

I look at the cookie as a whole, and ignore the break.

If a young stroke victim can stand with her husband and child on a stage, and proclaim publicly that she’s taking on what’s being handed out, then I can look at my own life and unexpected struggles in a different way. How we see it is how it plays. Do you want to wallow or win? I choose the latter, and so did that young woman.

The cookie tastes great if you want it to.

Honor In A Cone

Ice Cream

The man was finishing his ice cream cone as we walked in.

Dressed for Sunday, he was clearly enjoying it while sitting by the window in the sun. The store was busy, and the server scurried around behind the ice cream counter scooping and mixing. As she began cashing out a customer, she stopped suddenly and headed to the door – where the old man was about to leave. Thanks for coming, she said to him – touching his arm slightly as only as friend would do. After finishing the customer’s transaction, she started to cry before helping us.

“That man? His wife just passed away. He came and ordered a cone for each of them and ate both.”

She wiped her eyes. “Sorry,” she said smiling. “It’s totally fine,” I said back.

I was crying too.

An Evening with Junior Miller

BNC Mens BBQ

27 June 2014 – While eating chicken, salmon, and just about everything else under the sun, we listened to Junior Miller speak about “Rags, To Riches, To Redemption.” Junior was a country kid from Texas who happened to be a gifted athlete. He went on to play football with the University Of Nebraska, then was picked in the first round of the Draft by the Atlanta Falcons for the 1980 football season. He played there for three years, and then one year for the New Orleans Saints.

During all that time his life was troubled.

He indulged heavily in damaging things. Most of all he was buried in money. By the end of his professional football career he was drunk all day long. He got cut from the Saints after 1984 and hit rock bottom. Junior gave his life to Christ at his lowest point, and when he was cut from the Dallas Cowboys during their training camp he turned his attention to family and dedicated his time to building his wife’s business. Together they created a successful company that allowed them to grow emotionally and raise their two children.

Until she asked for a divorce about 5 years ago.

Junior was on the skids. He was back in Texas and trying to figure out what to do with his life. Back in Midland he began witnessing to kids in juvenile lockup. He began helping out in the community. It was a far cry from the person he had been, because this time he was trying to help those who were just like him growing up. Ever since accepting Christ into his life, he had listened faithfully to the messages that God sent him, and said He never steered him wrong. This time God pointed him to Seattle.

He had never been here.

He had no friends here. He had a car and some cash, driving here and settling in Kirkland. Now he works and witnesses daily, keeping up his strength by doing the muscle work at Costco and Trader Joe’s. He’s happy. And thankful for everything that has come his way. Even the bad stuff, because he learned lessons from the bad stuff. To hear his story, and how he was able to handle a roller coaster life for so long was inspiring and supportive. Recently the Falcons invited him to meet up in Atlanta for a team reunion, which excites him – even though many of his friends and teammates from those days have left this world. “You gotta understand something,” he told us in his big booming voice, “Be thankful every day, because you never know what’s gonna come your way.”

Does he miss playing football?

No, not really he says smiling.  “I’ve got everything I need now.”

It was great testimony from a humble man.