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Foundations of Wisdom

Our company newsletter recently published this excerpt from a speech given by Brad McCoy, father of former University of Texas quarterback (now starting for the Cleveland Browns), Colt McCoy.  Brad said that he and his wife raised their children according to the following four principles:

1. “Prepare your child for the path, not the path for your child.” Brad said this is not just for our kids – it is for us as parents. The road is rough, narrow and hard to find. We have a book (the Bible), a map vis-à-vis the Bible and God to help us. We must prepare ourselves and our kids for moments in life when doors open and close. He cited Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” He also cited, almost in jest but also in reality, Proverbs 23:13, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.” It was a funny contrast, but a real contrast. He then said, “Dads, fight for your kids, prepare them!”
2. “Prepare to be our best.” This was one of the four McCoy family motto’s. He cited 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” He stated that every day he would take his kids to school and upon them exited the car, he would say to them, “Do your best and be a leader!” He said that they listened every time and even as they got older (4th, 5th and 6th grades) he would repeat these words even if they said, “ Yeah, Yeah, Dad, I know, do your best and be a leader!” He said that as a coach for 27 years, he would always lead his team onto the field and leave his team at every practice with the chant, “Expect to Win, Play to Win.” And he implored us as parents to instill the same attitude in our homes and in our children. He cited Jim Collins book, Good to Great, stating that good is the enemy of Great! We don’t aim high and miss – as we would like to believe. In fact, most times, we aim low and hit the mark! As parents, he implored us not to aim low! Aim high!!!
3. “Be a Leader”. He stated that we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses – great leaders that we can draw from and that our kids can draw from. He said we are all at the mercy of time and money and asked a rhetorical question: How do you spend your time and money. He then said that how we spend our time and money is a direct reflection on where our true priorities lie. Convicting! He then said as a leader that he has always loved the quote by Ghandi (even though he didn’t ascribe to all of Ghandi’s beliefs): “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with dirty feet.” He said that as he taught this principle to his three boys that Colt McCoy turned this phrase into his own words: “Thoughts become things.” Colt would tell his younger brothers as he mentored them, “ You can’t talk like that or think like that, because thoughts become things that play themselves out in your life.”
4. “Prepare for Open and Closed Doors.” As a Dad, he said it was painful beyond all of his years on this earth to watch his son get hurt in the first series of play in the National Championship at the Rose Bowl. A perfect setting. A setting his son had dreamed of ever since he threw the football with his Dad in the front yard as a kid. As a Dad, he went over to his son’s hotel room after the Championship loss and the demoralizing fate for such a NCAA football star. He went to his son’s room to cheer his son up and was praying to God for the right words. He entered his son’s room to find what Colt had written that morning before the game. A journal page that read as follows: “My positive energy must be better than my negative energy. My certainty must be me stronger than my doubt. The battle is won before I ever start the fight. I choose faith over fear. Leave a legacy of excellence, love, dedication and service. Jeremiah stated, ‘Blessed is the man who’s trust is in the Lord.’” He said as a Dad, he had to find a corner of Colt’s hotel room to sit down and cry over the maturity of his son. His son was prepared for open and closed doors!
He then finished his speech by stating that as he consoled his son under the Rose Bowl stadium, after it was readily apparent that Colt would not be able to go back onto the field and play for the Longhorns. And as he was trying to motivate his son, his son motivated the team and his Dad. His son stepped into a new mantle of leadership. Rather than return to the field in pedestrian clothes, Colt insisted on returning to the field to help his team win. He walked back onto the field in his uniform and helped the second string quarterback read the defense and mentored the second string quarterback over the course of the 3rd and 4th quarters. He said that his son had been studying “trust” in a Bible Study all year long leading up to the National Championship game. He said his son had told his mom and dad that he didn’t know why he had been studying that “trust” concept all year, but he fully knew why in the moments leading up to the National Championship loss. He told his parents that he came to the conclusion that God had “prepared me for years leading up to that game, because He wanted me to “trust” Him!” As his son, Colt, was approached by news reporters after the Longhorns had lost the National Championship, the reporters asked Colt how he was feeling and Colt replied: “I always give God the glory. I never question what God does. God is in control of my life and if nothing else, I am standing on the Rock!”

 

Brad McCoy said that his cell phone began lighting up with texts after the game with friends, ministers and family members wildly acclaiming the statement that Colt had made to the reporters. He said that he received letters from non-believers, Jewish ministers, Muslim ministers and atheists in the days following the game – all pointing to the AMAZING statement that Colt had made after the game. He said that as he entered Colt’s hotel room that night, he asked his son, “What did you say after game?” [He had not been able to hear it in the mayhem of the stadium.] Brad McCoy, Colt’s Dad, asked two to three times, “Son, what did you say after the game?” Colt said, “Dad, I don’t know. I really don’t remember what I said. All I remember is that the reporter asked me a question and I prayed that God would supply me with the right answer.”

 

Brad McCoy then ended his speech by telling a story about a young football player that he was coaching back in his hometown. He said the young football player approached Brad McCoy after he returned from Pasadena and said, “Coach, I heard what your son said after the game, but I have one question: What is the rock?” He said it’s funny son. We sing about it in church.
He then began singing accapella: “My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name. On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand. When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil. On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand. His oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay. On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand. When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh may I then in Him be found. Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne. On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand.”
By the end of his singing, the entire room of men and women were singing in unison with Brad McCoy. It was truly an amazing morning for the Lord and a truly amazing speech for us to learn from as parents.

Rita’s Road Trip

Today is the fifth anniversary of hurricane Rita.  I think those of us in the Houston / Galveston area still remember it all too well, though perhaps not for the storm itself.
We were in the wake of the devastation hurricane Katrina imposed on the New Orleans area.  We had seen, on live television, a great deal of the horrors experienced by those who chose not to, or were unable to evacuate.  Like Katrina, Rita at one point had become a category 5 storm.  It was supposed to be a direct hit on Galveston.  Learning from the mistakes made by many in the wake of Katrina we were all getting the heck out of Dodge!  Even those who were not supposed to leave left.  We all battened down the hatches and made our way to safety.
I, of course, waited too long to go.  It’s OK though, I have my excuses.  I was responsible for both personnel and equipment at work and finally two days before the storm we got everything and everyone out.  So I went home to prepare our family’s evacuation.
The news reports were filled with the enormous traffic jams headed both north and west.  We decided to leave early the next morning (the day before the storm), and head east to Michelle’s fathers place in San Augustine.  We drove east on I-10 because the direct route up 59 was at a standstill.
We had smooth sailing and a clear freeway ’til about halfway to Beaumont.  As luck would have it, by the time we arrived on the east side of Beaumont, about to turn north towards our destination, the latest evacuation order was was issued to the very spot we had run (the venerable Appointment in Samarra comes to mind).
To make a long story (and an even longer sojourn) short and omit the story of my heroic and courageous leadership in creating my own “contra-flow” lane: It took us over 17 hours to make San Augustine (normally a 2 1/2 hour trip).  We arrived at around ten o’clock that night  which was about twenty four hours before the storm would make landfall.  Directly to bed we went for a much needed and deserved respite.

I arose early the next morning to soak up all the news reports I could.  Michelle slept most of the day as she had come down with something during our harrowing adventure.  The forecasted path had crept up the coast throughout the day and it seemed that Rita had her sights set on a destination north-east of our home.  My greatest fear, now, was not the storm, but another nearly twenty hour grind in traffic as everyone made their way back home after the storm.  We talked it over and decided to head back home that very evening.  Yep, right into the oncoming storm.  I figured I could take it easy and use extreme caution.  We could always turn around and abort our mission home if it got too bad.
Well, it never did.  It was very stormy and windy to be sure, but nothing more than a good Texas thunderstorm.  In fact, it was surreal, like driving in a post apocalyptic city.  I remember thinking that Houston might have looked something like this if the nuclear explosion from the movie Independence Day had really happened.  We saw only one car, a police cruiser with it’s overhead strobes flashing, driving below us on a feeder.  We never passed another car or truck in either direction the entire trip.  We made it home without incident in a mere two hours, fifteen minutes.  Unbelievable.
We settled in at home to ride out the storm which, for us, was nothing more than a tropical storm.  Others to our east fared much worse, but that is another story.  Two good things came from our experience: some great stories of adventure and our family road trips are now much more tolerable.

Minor Miracle

I experienced one of those not so subtle miracles this morning. I was having my morning coffee and musing about how specific people in my work life have difficulties being honest with me. The verse that says “…let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no…” occurred to me apropos. I had always thought this verse was more about not swearing or not trying to add too much emphasis to one’s answers (allowing your answer to stand alone thus adding validity to the statement). It came to me when I was considering times when I thought someone was giving too elaborate an explanation (not the truth) for something. It seems, perhaps, that when you deliver news to someone, you shouldn’t add untruth to soften the statement or in order to get more of what you want out of the situation.

Although I was thinking about situations where this was done to me, I’m sure I am considerably guilty myself. I will try to be on the lookout for this in the future.

The miracle occurred when a few minutes later I opened my second of two daily email verses. That’s right, and I could not have quoted the entire verse or even the chapter to save my life. But there it was right in front of me with no possibility whatsoever of even the tiniest of subliminal rendering. James 5:12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear – not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, or you will be condemned.

Just another of those little yet not so subtle miracles when God says I’m still here, I knew you needed a little more today.

Maybe it wasn’t so minor after all.

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