Pep Talk: “Keep Swinging”

June 25, 2017

A Stronger Cord is blessed with great partners, including Union Baptist Church. The community outreach wellness movement uses the church’s gym Monday nights. In return, it’s our job to keep the two-acre grounds in Denver’s northeast Park Hill neighborhood clear of trash. Win. Win.

Recently your knucklehead scribe was playing trash man. There was a youth baseball game about to commence on the church’s “Marvin Freeman Field.” It’s a community field the Colorado Rockies built in 1995. As a sportscaster back then for CBS4, I remember covering the ceremony unveiling the beautiful diamond. At the time, Freeman was a Rockies’ reliever and a good interview. Always had something to say.
Anyway, back to the story. So, I’m walking around the field’s perimeter while young “Dodgers” and “Rockies” were warming up. A coach was patiently tossing Wiffle balls to a determined but inexperienced lad. The kid noticed the trash man was observing. The freckle-faced nine-year-old appeared embarrassed. “Keep on swinging buddy!” was my encouragement before wandering back to the task at hand.

Keep on swinging. The phrase jarred memories from earlier on this Saturday morning. I had been the substitute devotion leader for guys in the Denver Rescue Mission’s New Life Program. We had talked about what the Bible says in Isaiah about “forgetting the former things, do not dwell on the past and focus on new things.” I had read a story from 2017 Daily Guideposts. In the story, author Julie Garmon shared about leading a pregnancy resource center meeting. In a room full of new moms and dads, Garmon asked how God was working in their lives. She was shocked to hear several stories of trials and tribulations overcome to reach a spot in life where they were joyfully bouncing new born kids on knees. “Forgetting former things and focusing on new.” Amen.
However, sure easy to talk about, far more difficult to live, right? Life can get messy. Of the 70 or so dudes in the morning devotion, the numbers are not good. For a myriad of reasons, few succeed in developing a new life. Recovery success rates are dismal. It’s a real challenge to forget former things, focus on new and keep swinging. Old habits are hard to break.

It’s true for all of us, not just guys on the comeback trail from addiction or incarceration. Life is constantly throwing curveballs. A Stronger Cord recently expanded to All Soul’s Catholic Church in Englewood. An older participant was eager and devoted. A regular attendee. Tragically, the gentle soul died unexpectedly of aneurism. Here today, gone tomorrow.
Miracles happen too. Like, a buddy’s son surviving a scary four-wheeler accident. The 11-year-old was, as a precaution, airlifted to a nearby hospital but is home with scrapes and bruises but no major injuries.
Uncertainty. Tragedy. Miracles. Life’s a roller coaster ride. We try like heck to forget the former and focus on the present and future. What I offered the young slugger was meant for me. Hopefully, it’s also encouragement to you:  KEEP SWINGING!

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