THANKSGIVING, FOOTBALL and THE GREATEST FAN!

Best Fans EVER!

Best Fans EVER!

Nothing says Thanksgiving like….FOOTBALL!!!!
(Except maybe Turkey, and Black Friday, and food coma, and family, and stuffing, and pumpkin pie…) But still, what better to do than to plop down in front of the t.v. after being stuffed with turkey, shopping ‘til you dropped and just “chillax” in front of a great football game?!
Love football?
I believe Denver Bronco’s fans are some of the VERY BEST FANS of all time.
Are you a fan? What does this look like?
How about:
You’ve had season tickets for 17 years.
You attend EVERY home game, rain, snow, sleet or shine (and sometimes all of the above on the same day—it is Colorado!.
You bleed orange and blue.
The original bronco emblem is tattooed on your left ankle.
The new bronco symbol is tattooed on your right shoulder.
Every game day you are fully decked out: the orange and blue jersey, orange face paint, foam finger, etc.
You cite Bronco’s stats like a wall street ticker.
Your dog’s name is Elway.
You serve only blue and orange foods at your house party for the away games.
You cried and fell into a depression for weeks after Dan Reeves was let go.
Game day you are cheering and screaming for each pass completion, touchdown, extra point and interception. You yell at the television like you were there. You have been known to invent words in your tirades against the ref’s poor calls.

Now picture being that same Bronco fan (fully decked out and on one of your historic rants) in a stadium of the most avid, amped up (and also fully decked out) Raider’s fans (or Patriots!;)). Black and white tattooed arms thicker than tree trunks surround you. You are all by yourself. And the score is 52 to 3. Broncos are losing.

Still a fan?

I think this is where that saying about “where the rubber meets the road” comes from.
Will you roll up your sleeves to display your tattoo? Still ready to defend your team, even when they’ve left the stadium and you alone remain? Are you really ready to bleed and find out if it’s truly orange and blue?

Now Picture:
You love Jesus. You attend every Sunday service (unless there is a Bronco’s game-Thank GOD for Saturday services!) You tithe your 10%, volunteer at the homeless shelter, attend bible study and can recite specific bible verses at the drop of a hat. You raise your hands in praise during every worship song, pray for your enemies, love your neighbor and have that icthus (the fish) bumper sticker firmly affixed to your Ford.

Now, take away your comforts, your finances, your marriage of 50 years, your career, your health, your family.

Still His fan?

When you’ve lost it all, will your heart fill with doubts? When the nay-sayers and well-meaning friends ask what you’ve done to deserve this, will you question His sovereignty? Will your mind spill over with unanswerable questions: “Why?” “Why me?”

Why do bad things happen to good people?

For many a heartache and wound that I have survived, I am able to look back and thank God for His growing me in those times. It’s those very same rough times when my relationship with Jesus grew deeper and more intimate. I can often look back and see a purpose to those pains and, in that “20/20 hindsight,” I can find some answers.

When I can’t, I rely on Proverbs 3:5-6:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

But why do innocent suffer? Why does evil often go unpunished?

Although I don’t have answers to many of these tough questions, I know One who does. I know that He will not waste a single tear and I rest my hope in the fact:
“…that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

God can handle your questions. And it may not be until you see Him face to face that you will have your “20/20 vision” and answers. So, until then, know that nothing can separate you from the love of God–
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38)

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1

In losses, in pain, in heartbreaks, in failures and disappointments, in any circumstance from the beginning until the end: His love endures.

He is your biggest Fan.

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THE ULTIMATE UNDERDOG

football ominousBroncos barrell guy

THE ULTIMATE UNDERDOG

                       

I love a good underdog story. Anyone who was born in Colorado after 1970 can attest to this.  The Denver Broncos. John Elway.  Famous now, but were you a fan when they were stacking up losses like letters of rejection during the recession? If you were a Bronco fan, you were a fan of underdog stories because they were always the underdogs and always lost.

Super Bowl commercials even mocked the Broncos, nicknaming them the “Donkeys.” It took them more than four trips to the Super Bowl and wasn’t until their5th visit to the Super Bowl that they won. 

Three of those devastating Super Bowl losses were under John Elway. 

I wish I knew what John Elway was feeling as he walked into his fourth Super Bowl trip. I don’t doubt each player was determined to win at each game. But this one had to be different. My bet is he was downright, doggedly determined to see his team through. Whatever he needed to do – he was going to do it. Leave it all on the field. His loyalty, perseverance and focus were certainly at their peak.

Not many know of their underdog days now, but we Coloradans-the orange crush– had this ingrained in us. It is a part of me. I love when someone, some team, or some family, etc., shows the sheer determination, stamina, humility, perseverance (and sprinkled with some sacred circumstances) rises up. Love it.

I had to put an underdog story in my book “grace.” Honestly, it was my very favorite part to write. Instead of sitting on the couch in front of the TV., sipping a barley soda and chomping on cheesy dip, all the while biting my nails and sweating it out to see if those “donkeys”  just might pull it through this year, I got to detail it with my own team The Mighty Lions

 

In my opinion, the thing about the underdog stories that makes them so good is the victory.  The triumph against crazy odds, unbelievable circumstances coupled with dogged determination, or whatever it might be—the story requires a “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!”

Even though John Elway was quarterback for three of those Super Bowl losses with the Broncos, the Broncos are one of only seven NFL teams to claim two consecutive Super Bowl wins—both with John Elway at the helm.

Pretty amazing.

Yet it pales in comparison to the best underdog story of all time. It comes from the best-selling book of all time. It is about a carpenter from Nazareth;—no one would believe that something good would come from Nazareth-that pit of a place. In fact, his hometown didn’t even want to acknowledge him.

Yet, this story has God’s fingerprints all over it. Sacred circumstance. Jesus, this carpenter, at the prime age of 33, was betrayed by the closest of friends, wrongfully accused in a court of public opinion, rejected by those He came to save, denied by his followers, beaten, abused, spat on, humiliated, whipped, crushed, mocked and then, limb by limb, hung on a cross to die as soldiers cast lots for His clothes.

 

 Talk about hopelessness. Unbelievable circumstances. My mind cannot grasp…

And you wouldn’t even believe what He did as he hung on that cross situated between two thieves. 

Luke 23:39 tells us: “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us?’

But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’

Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’

Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’”

Hanging there, Jesus did what He does best – He forgave. Forgiving not only this repentant thief, but all who did this to Him- “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” Luke 23:34

Forgiveness for all.  ALL. Even as He takes his last breath on earth, He refuses to give up doing what He came for.

Thinking of the elation I had when the Broncos won that first Super Bowl doesn’t even come close; nor does that second-in-a-row victory… Jesus perseveres and then he takes it even further.

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the woman bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again”

Jesus defied all odds, breaking the laws of science and the chains of the oppressed. He arose from the tomb and declared “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y” over death once-and-for-all.                                       

 He is risen.

 And the CROWD GOES WILD!!!

 

Behind the cover of “grace”

The RiverOne of my favorite stories about my first fiction novel “grace” is about the cover. I had completed the manuscript and was struggling through the cover images for it.  A few years prior, I moved to the Scottsdale condo community where I currently reside. All my neighbors and community pointed out that I was closest neighbor to Heidi Rosner, the artist.  I knew nothing about her except that she was very well liked in the community and was an artist.

For the record, I don’t believe in coincidences and I am a somewhat private person. Yet, God kept nagging at me to talk with her about the cover.  Up to this point, we had only brief conversations and interaction as she spends much of her time at her other home in California and I was working three jobs at the time. Nonetheless, opportunities kept presenting this one particular day when I should have asked her, but I chickened out.

I was returning from getting my mail and Heidi approached me!  We began a light conversation: “What have you been up to?” “Not too much.  You?”  blah-de-blah–I mentioned to her I was self-publishing a book in the near future and sure enough, the chance came up for me to ask her what medium of art she worked with. When she told me she was a painter mostly focusing on landscapes and florals, I was urged to question her if she would be interested about doing a book cover.

“Well, tell me about your book.” Heidi asked.

I stammered on about the southern Oregon setting, the four friends that it centers around and their struggles with life, death, forgiveness, faith, etc.

“So what’s it called?” She asks.

“Grace,” and when I answered with this, I was not expecting her response.  Her lips quivered, jaw clenched and tears filled her eyes. “Are you okay?” I was stupified. What had I said???

“Julie, I have been feeling my mom’s presence with me today.  Really.  All day just feeling her talking with me.  She passed away just a few weeks ago. I recently returned from her funeral. Her name was Grace.” (this is a paraphrase but pretty darn accurate!)

Now it was my turn to have the lips quiver, eyes fill with tears, etc.

And that was how “the Heidi Rosner” agreed to do the cover of “grace” with her amazing painting of THE RIVER.

PLEASE COME AND JOIN IN THE “CELEBRATION OF GRACE” AT A FREE COMMUNITY EVENT!
JUNE 1ST AT ASU’S SKYSONG CONVERGENCE ROOM (SE corner of McDowell Rd and Scottsdale Rd)
Enjoy a free continental breakfast and hear a reading from “grace”
A book signing and Raffle will follow.
Event is FROM 10 AM TO NOON
(for more info check details at AZCentral.com, Phoenix New Times.com and on the events page at K-LOVE.com)
“grace” will be available at the event ($15.20 for SC, $33.75 HC and $5.00 for the e-book) and also at Amazon.com and other online retailers.