Are You Sure You Should Be Doing That?

People wonder, why train in Taekwondo? I’m a big fan of old cartoons, specifically Coyote and Roadrunner. On one episode a few kids sat in front of a TV, and one asked the other, why does the Coyote even want the Road Runner?

Wile E. Coyote stopped, responding “a legitimate question, one deserving a legitimate answer.” As I complete my second degree black belt, people wonder, why do you do it?

What does Taekwondo mean?

It means I’m proud of my family. They’ve stuck with it in spite of adversity. Peggy earned her black belt, and Waylon earned his third-degree belt. I’m proud of them both beyond description.

Everyone wants to quit sometimes. Everyone. I’ve yet to meet an exception — adult or child. Life is hard, and the best things in life take hard work, or in the words of President Kennedy:

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…

When he delivered that speech the idea of the United States making it to the moon was absurd; our rockets blew up on launch or soon thereafter. The thought the United States could land a man on the moon in less than 10 years was absurd. Laughable. Go ahead, Google old YouTube video from the launch failures.

Yet, after Kennedy made that announcement, we did put together the most stunning engineering achievement in mankind’s history. Fail, yes. Setbacks to be sure. Multiple times people wondered, why are we doing this? Is it worth it? We do it not because it is easy, but because it is hard.

Life is hard. You may not get a Lexus, an ice cream, or a pony.

What does Taekwondo mean?

Most people fail not because they can’t do it, but because they’d rather play XBox than practice. That’s a choice, not a limitation.

I’ve never been a good athlete, and I’m certainly nowhere near the best in any category, and never will be.

I just try harder. And that doesn’t mean everyone else is a flake, it means I HAVE to. Others learn new skills in a few minutes, and certainly need to practice, but they get it. That’s not me.

Waylon laughs at me. A lot. And hard. We attended an MMA seminar taught by Colby Covington, learning some new takedowns, and when trying it out, I kept saying, let me try again, I’m not getting it. He finally complained, it’s my turn, you’ve done enough, and I said, you got it the first time through.

He just laughed, grinned with a face that is seared into my subconscious so even if I develop the worst case of Alzheimer’s in the planet’s history, laying on my deathbed drooling all over myself, I’ll still see that image.

He said, yeah, I did, let me help you old man.

I’ve spent literally months trying to learn Taekwondo moves, leading to aggravation, failure, and a general feeling of doom. But what we get too easily we esteem too lightly. Life is hard. You might not get a Lexus, an ice cream, or a pony.

Good things in life demand hard work and effort, as Zig Ziglar says, “There are no traffic jams on the extra mile,” an attitude summed up by actor Will Smith.

“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things you got it on me in nine categories.

But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple, right?

What does Taekwondo mean?

Black Belt

It means for the last year every time I tie my belt I can’t help but grin. It’s hard, and that is what makes it worth having because only a small percentage of people beginning training make it — not because they can’t, but because they fail to stick with it.

The difference isn’t always physical, talent, or even hard work. It’s a choice some people make to avoid the effort required to acquire their goal.

I’m in a select group, and tying that belt never gets old. Everything else can be taken away, but I’ll never forget performing over and beyond what I believed I’m capable of accomplishing.

What does Taekwondo mean?

Broken Hand X-Ray

It means going to the emergency room, and seeing the same doctor who remembers you, who asks again, are you sure you should be doing this?

And thinking to yourself, yeah, probably not. But I can’t quit, so patch it up doc, and I’m good to go.

What does Taekwondo mean?

You probably never heard the name Guilder Rodriguez, unless you’re a Texas Rangers fan. He started his major league career 0 for 6. Do you think he wanted to quit? Wonder if he could make it? Do I really belong here? In one game he got two hits, helping win the game for Texas.

Oh yeah, one more thing. He’s an old guy at 31, and played 1,095 games in the minors over 13 years before being called up to the majors.

How many times did he want to quit?

How many times do I want to quit? Let me count the ways…

  • Every time I watch everyone learn something in 10 minutes, and I take the next 3 weeks to figure it out.
  • Every time we grapple and I spend the next days exceeding the recommend dose of ibuprofen.
  • Every time we spar, and my brain sees what’s coming, tells my leg to move, and then I watch in slow motion as what seems like minutes pass before that leg moves.

I’m certainly not alone being an old guy trying to hold out in a youth-dominated area. It’s frustrating, but you only get better by training with the best — faster, stronger, smarter.

Training with stronger, faster, younger people than myself, I’m better than I would be otherwise. And oh yeah, if anyone needs help with Quantum Physics, I have an edge.

What does Taekwondo mean?

Maybe it’s Chase Lambin, another guy you’ve never heard of. He’s the oldest active minor league player at 34 who has never made it to the big leagues. For some reason, he keeps going.

Teammates respected Lambin because of his longevity, and now he was showing youngsters how to swing and deal with the daily grind. They would get promoted sometimes, and while Lambin used to watch the highlights and wonder why it wasn’t him, now he was happy that maybe he’d had a hand in someone else’s success.

“These young guys need to be motivated and helped,” he said, “and I really enjoy that side.”

There’s something I relate to. I’ll never be the best, the fastest, the winningest, or make it to the big leagues. But I do have (ahem) a bit more, umm, shall we say, experience, than everyone else.

What we get too easily we esteem too lightly. Life is hard. You might not get a Lexus, an ice cream, or a pony.

What Does Taekwondo Mean?

I’ve been asked why, as a Christian, would I compete in martial arts? Aren’t they icky, evil, and wrong for a Christian to be involved with? What happened to turning the other cheek? Wasn’t Jesus a pacifist?

Only if your idea of Jesus comes from those phony paintings you see on church walls. Jesus isn’t a wimp. Never was, never will be.

Praise the LORD, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle. (Psalm 144 NLT)

If you imagine a wimpy Jesus, then you might think it’s strange for Christians to train in martial arts.

A wimp? Tell that to the money changers.

A wimp? After being beaten and whipped, He still carried a massive wooden beam.

A wimp? Hanging on the cross, He could have jumped off any time He wanted. That’s toughness.

I’ve seen people with more talent in martial arts than I can be imagine. It’s a gift from God, and God don’t make no junk.

What does Taekwondo mean?

I’ve always told Waylon I’m not so interested in winning or losing — though that’s nice. But if he walks off the mat and says that’s all I’ve got, I’m happy. If he wins but slacks off, it means nothing.

Success is not measured by what you do compared to what others do, it is measured by what you do with the ability God gave you. — Zig Ziglar

I hope I’m doing okay by that measure. That’s the measuring stick, not a won-loss record.

Because unless you’re a professional or olympian, Taekwondo by itself doesn’t mean much, but it prepares you for when you will need perseverance, when you will be challenged beyond what you think you can do, when you will question your ability, your desire, and even your sanity.

  • When your boss tells you you’ve got to do something you’ve never done before — in the next 10 minutes.
  • When the doctor says it’s cancer, and you think it’s just another chance to kick some butt.
  • When you’ve made a commitment and you really want out, but my word is my bond.

That’s when you pull out your memory file, and think, yeah, I remember when I didn’t think I could do that tornado round kick, and I did that, so this is within my grasp — and that’s what gets you through tough times.

In spite of politicians lying to us, Hollywood actors being arrested, and sports figures proudly proclaiming they’re not role models, I’m reminded character matters.

You work hard and suffer because it makes you a better man. If the rewards you seek are found in the praise and adulation of others, you are destined for disappointment, because the moment you drop one pass, or lose one game, the cheering stops and the praise goes away. Internal rewards, the ones you gain from pain, sweat, and tears, stick with you forever. (Lou Holtz, “Wins, Losses, and Lessons” page 78–79)

What does TaeKwonDo mean?

Board Break

It’s about finding your limits keep moving just a bit further. What you thought you couldn’t do is now doable.

What would you do today if you knew you couldn’t fail?

As Zig Ziglar says, failure is an event, not a person. You never drown by falling in water. You only drown by not getting up. You will fail, you will face hard times, you will want to give up. Guaranteed.

Life isn’t easy, and you may not get a Lexus, an ice cream, or a pony.

Never quit. Never give in. Never surrender. Make no mistake, you’ll want to. The difference between the best and others isn’t talent, effort, or even hard work. It’s the mental toughness to say I’ll never quit.

Having finished 17th at beach volleyball nationals, I can tell you that the difference between the very top and those near the top is not skills — everyone has the skills. The difference is mental. Players in the top five or ten are so tough that almost nothing makes them waver, and their belief in their ability to succeed is extreme.

What we get too easily we esteem too lightly. Life is hard. You might not get a Lexus, an ice cream, or a pony.

What does Taekwondo mean?

I’ve seen kids in tournaments fail and come to tears. Maybe they were embarrassed by their lack of success. Maybe they thought (or heard) people laughing at them when they fell down, dropped their weapon, failed at the board break, or forgot their form.

Let them laugh, in the end only a small group of people exists whose opinion is worth listening to. The mockers butt isn’t out on the mat.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly… (Theodore Roosevelt)

The reality is people will laugh. Let ‘em. They’re not out on the mat trying. Being a critic and couch potato is easy. Getting off the couch and on the floor is risky, and not for those lacking vision and guts.

What does Taekwondo mean?

It means Sunday, November 16th will remain a special day forever. It’s the only time the kid and I will test for black-belt together, and there’s an appropriate story about that.

I am a grown and graying man of forty, sweating in the April sun. My son stands away from me and taps his bat on the Frisbee he calls home plate. We’ve been in the backyard for an hour, head down/weight back/elbow up/see the ball. He’s sent a dozen tennis balls out over the creek, more onto the roof of our house. Twice, he’s swung late and peppered the neighbor’s shed.

But now it’s time for the last pitch. Smoke, I call it—fast and hard, like a blur.

He’s never hit a last pitch, can’t even get the bat off his shoulder. But he says he’s ready and I wind and that blur rockets from my hand, and I don’t hear the whoosh of his bat. I hear a plink!

We look up to see the ball flying into the blue sky. It lands in the thick grass over behind me. I hear my son whooping, overcome with joy … Part of me sees this and is proud. The other part sees that yellow ball lying in the green grass and knows that was my best, that was as hard as I could throw. That was my smoke. And by the time my son finishes his lap, I think he knows it, too.

Well, junior can hit the old man’s smoke. I think he’s known for a while, but been polite about it. I am at the same time both proud, and with a feeling I can’t exactly describe.

Back when he was four or so, we were in the backyard kicking a soccer ball around. He wasn’t very good, and even on the few times he made contact with the ball, it didn’t go very far.

Once I hit it the ball a little hard, and the ball flew to the other side of the yard. We don’t have a big yard by any standards (so it was no great athletic achievement), so even though the ball only went fifty or sixty feet, he was in awe, because I could do something he couldn’t even dream of.

You always want your kids to look up to you and be amazed. But when they surpass you, that magic, that sense of awe, vaporizes, like Dorthy pulling back the curtain on the wizard frantically pulling levels and switches trying to maintain the illusion.

He’ll continue to get faster, stronger, and better, and thus the sense of awesomeness fades slowly away since he’s peeked behind the curtain, seeing the old man is just an ordinary guy, not the superman he thought eleven years ago.

Besides my wife, he’s the guy I don’t want to let down or embarrass.

… And that’s why I keep going, after all, my emergency room frequent visitor card is almost full, so the next broken bone is free.

The Bible and Science: Foundations

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series The Bible and Science
Some people say the Bible and science are at odds with each other — as if you can only believe the Bible OR science. That’s not true, and as long as valid methods and procedures are followed science yields correct results. While the Bible is not a science textbook, where it makes statements you’ll discover they match with some of the most advanced (and recent) scientific discoveries.[Continue reading]