Saturday, May 28, 2022

Alabama Bass- For the Record


Updated Feb 2024

As I am home reflecting from another fishing outing this past week at Lake Caroline, I once again came away so thankful for the opportunity to enjoy the vastness and variety of fishing in this great state.

Every time I go to a lake, I am submerged with beauty, challenge, risk, and reflection. The sights, sounds, smells. and adventure never gets old.

I keep journals of my experiences- water temp, conditions, techniques, pictures and each time I open my journals, I get to relive these fun moments I have had at so many different places.

I have a blog post on personal records.... but I thought I might spend this post reflecting on some of my favorite Lakes- and some thoughts on each one.

Just about an hour drive from my house, Logan Martin is likely my choice of public waters. It sets up to my style of fishing which is more geared to Alabama spotted bass rather than largemouth. Logan gets a LOT of pressure, but it is a great offshore fishery, so it rarely feels crowded. I doubt I would feel that way without electronics.... but with all of the tools today it isn't hard to find the fish- and spots tend to be easier to get a strike that the moody largemouth tend to be.

I think Lake Martin is the most beautiful of all the Alabama lakes. It is vast, deep, clear but has grown on me over the last decade. There is no way a person could explore all of the fishing opportunities there. I like it because it offers the same offshore options that have become some of my go to fishing patterns... but it has miles and miles of docks and lay downs that will never run out. You could run a trolling motor all day and cast docks and lay downs and only hit a grain of sand of shoreline at this place.

Pickwick is that mystical draw that sits just out of reach for an easy drive... but it is always such and enjoyable change of pace for me. It has so many different looking places and it is also there where I get the thrill of catching that mean brownish looking bass species. Pickwick is also where I tend to catch big largemouth bass as well.

It is the closest public water to me with great places to launch. You have to be careful when navigating and the fish can get hard to find at times. It is the one lake that can still zero me out if the conditions aren't right but also has the draw of a BIG bass in the grass.

A deep clear, beautiful lake with a fishery much like Lake Martin. It takes more work to find the pattern there at times, but has ample docks and fishy places to look.

The Lake where I kind of learned the basics of bass fishing while my dad had a little fishing camp there where I fished out of a little johnboat on Cargyle Creek and Inman's Camp. The old pattern was buzzbait, spinnerbait, plastic worm.... and crankbaits were an expensive luxury (does anyone remember that they used to RENT shadraps?)

This is the Lake that I want to learn more about. Been on the water a few times, but feel like I am just stumbling around flipping grass and hoping to get lucky.

No secret- this is my version of Walden Pond- my love of Lake Caroline (private) began on Dec. 26, 2015 when it was totally flooded and has since led to now 31 trips! The access to that amazing property has done more to develop experience than anything else. It has been a gift from the Lord and I don't take for granted that it will always be there. I could probably write a book on all of our stories there for the last 9 years. Henry David Thoreau could not have going to Concord as much as I love making that drive to Louisville.


Personal Best: 12.5 (estimated)
29"long/ and a girth of 19"- huge belly
My Big Fish Story
Dec. 18, 2013 Private Lake in Rockford, AL

I hate that we did not have a scale-we did have a tape measure- the Bass Resource calculator listed it as 15.665

Witness: Coach Steve Renfroe

Lure: green fluke with a tiny weight pegged about 5 inches up.

In the monster's mouth was the fin of a fish that looked as big as the earlier bass I caught. This fish was stuffed to the gill and still eating!

Lake Caroline:

June 1, 2021- Winning Edges Filming

Witness: Carson Miller

Lure: Night blade spinner bait from the dock

See the whole catch on video- exploded on it right at the dock!

Lake Caroline:

May 29, 2021- Winning Edges Filming

Witness: Carson Miller

Lure: Green Pumpkin monster on skip gap head

See the whole catch on video- was a blast! Used thumb drag just like I mentioned in my book.

Shimano, Lake Caroline: 7.03

June 27, 2018- Winning Edges Filming

Witness: BCS Bass Team and Lisa Talmadge, Shimano

Lure: Junebug Red monster on skip gap head

Was skinny, if fat might have been a 10.

Lake Caroline Double:
Lake Caroline, Louisville, AL
June 7, 2017 -  6.37

I caught this and Connor Peterson hung a 6.46 at the same time!

Witness: Melissa and Conner

Lure: Green pumpkin monster on skip gap head


Oct 11, 2016 Lake Caroline, Louisville, AL

Lure: Finesse Black Trick Worm- Drop Shot

Witness: Jack Flemming/ Grayson Morris

We were helping an MLF corporate event and we pulled up right after Kevin Van Dam had left the spot.

Jack and Grayson were trying to get me to hold it up to KVD- I just turned and looked- but the story and been growing since.

This is my Lake Caroline PR


April 13, 2018
Old Steam Plant- Pickwick Lake, Florence, AL

Lure: black flake finesse skip gap shakey head

Witness: Brian Berry/ Jeff Davis

How good is Pickwick? every time I go I catch a 5 lbr!

March 19, 2016
Barge Canal- Pickwick Lake, Florence, AL

Lure: Square Bill

Witness: Austin Luke

This may be my all time favorite fish and I LOVE Pickwick.

We were parallel casting down the barge canal when this beauty tore it up! She got wrapped up around the trolling motor and I almost lost her.

Feb 8, 2024
East Slough, Lake Caroline

Lure: Skip Gap- California

Witness: Jeff Davis (video)

31st trip to Lake Caroline and got it recored on a GoPro and posted to Winnng Edges You Tube


March 26, 2017
Lake Caroline, Louisville, AL
Lure: Whopper Plopper

We were in the very back of a wooded cove where fish were exploding on top water and chasing shad.

A 2 lb bass exploded on my whopper plopper but missed- I could see the fish so I paused and watched it gearing up to strike when this fish came out of no where and blasted it.

Nolen Vinson (who later caught a 12.0 fish) said it was one of his all time favorite bites to watch.


WEIGHT: 4.43
April 14, 2017
Lake Pickwick, Florence, AL
Lure: finesse trick work- shakey head- black/red flake

Felt like a bream tap- must have been on bed- 2 ft of water

Fun time with Jeff Davis


estimated- 5 lbs

I sight fished this beauty- got the male first- came back later for female.

Took about 30 minutes- watched her take a blue/red speckles Ned rig

Had to fight her for 4 or 5 minutes to get her out of the weeds

April 12, 2017- after school


I have come to love Logan Martin as my favorite of the Coosa Lakes...

The Coosa Spotted Bass is as mean as they come and to get this 3 lbr was quite a fight.

Caught it on black shakey head on the infamous Texaco hump.

We caught almost 80 on that day

March 30, 2016


I could load up the page of all Lake Caroline Bass I have caught in the years I have had the privilege to fish there. That lake is LOADED with 3 and 4 lb hard fighting fish.

Lures/ Techniques that have caught bass over 3 lbs at Lake Caroline: Texas Rig, Drop Shot, Ned Rig, KVD Lucky Shad, Square Bill, Jerk Bait, Fish Head Spin, Fluke, Whopper Plopper, Lizard, Football jig, Carolina Rig, scrounger, Pop R, skip gap head, wobble head- etc, etc

Here is the 'double'

It has been an amazing lake to learn on.

Since we have been going, we have caught almost 2,000 bass and taken out 1400 small ones.

This lake will continue to get better and better and I believe it will produce a 14 or 15 lb bass soon.

Who knows.... maybe bigger?

During two trips, I helped pull in TWO 12 lb fish....


Riley Underwood put me on a very nice bag of spots in 2019.

Learned A LOT about Smith that day.


July 28, 2015
Lake Guntersville, Guntersville, AL
Lure: Bull Shad

This isn't a big fish- but you would never know it by the way he charged out of the grass mat I was fishing.

We missed some big ones that morning- but this one was more fun than the misses!



Cargyle Creeek, Lake Mitchell
Clanton, AL
July 28, 2014

This one is special because I got to go back to Lake Michell after fishing it for years. But this time I was armed with a blue/black swim jig and has this beauty explode out of the grass.

Brought back good memories of that place


June 23, 2014
Beeswax Creek, COLUMBIANA, AL

Another good memory because I was just learning to swim a jig in the grass.

This was a white swim jig with a ribbits frog trailer.


April 13, 2018
Pickwick Lake, Florence

This was my first ever smallie- can't wait to get more of them this summer!

Hope I add to this fun report soon... Lord willing....

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Coach and the Plumb Line of Hope: Athletics and Mental Health- Day 8

For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel ( Zechariah 4:10).

As we begin to wrap up this thought experiment in May, it is now time to explore how a coach, parent, youth pastor, or mentor can help young people who are struggling with trends of anxiety and depression.

The more I have read and thought about discussions and observations, I was intrigued about the parallels of dealing with this in light of how we deal with other acute and chronic conditions.

On March 24, 2015 Briarwood Christian School hosted a small, informal meeting with six families to discuss and pray about struggles their children and families have had with debilitating migraines.We also invited a BCS teacher who has suffered with chronic migraines going back to her childhood.

Joining our discussion that day was Dr. Burel Goodin of UAB. Dr. Goodin is a clinical health psychologist with specialization in pain-related behavioral medicine.

We took much of our time hearing from each family. Though each case is unique, there were a number of common threads. Some had a family history of migraine issues. Most of the students experienced the onset of these migraines between 7th and 9th grade. Almost everyone mentioned an ‘ocular’ component to the headaches. You could hear both pain and frustration as each family talked about the laborious process of experimenting with medication, nutrition, examinations, trips to specialists around the country, non-medical therapies, and the nagging stress of school schedules and deadlines.

I think what Dr. Goodin suggested have some components of dealing with athletes in the area of mental health care as well.

Dr. Burel did a nice job of framing the issues and confirming much of what these families had already experienced.

As a summary of this issue, I have decided to put together some points of emphasis. 

A high school student dealing with any daily issue, physical OR mental is bearing an unusual burden AND has to bring tools and strategy to the fight that are uncommon for their age:
  • Perseverance and Perspective
  • Unusual Daily Discipline
  • Detailed Documentation
  • Effective Communication
  • Logical and Systematic Adaptation
  • Navigating Strained Relationships


Any teenager dealing with chronic issues will have to find perseverance and perspective in the circumstance to have any hope of forward progress. At our school, this is ultimately a spiritual quest that must be empowered by God’s Spirit and cultivated by God’s Word. Long term struggles with pain or anxiety can create anger towards God and a loss of hope. My encouragement for these students and families is to press into God’s goodness and sovereignty. I also believe it is good to express your emotions to God- He understands and is a God of great compassion. His ultimate perspective and plan is eternal.

A final note about perseverance is that it is not a quest for perfection. Perseverance is not finding a way to never fall down. Perseverance is learning to fall less, stay down less, and get back up more quickly. “It is NOT a tragedy if you try and fail… and try and fail again. The tragedy is when you try and fail…. and fail to try again.”


We spend our entire lives having to re-learn the struggle regarding daily discipline. The management of any difficult issue actually forces students and families to INCREASE their commitment to these disciplines when they LEAST feel like doing them.

Dr. Goodin pressed this issue. When you think of all the factors and potential triggers: stress of living, hydration, nutrition, sleep patterns, disappointment, drama, musculoskeletal factors, hormones… the key for the student is to become an expert in time management and regular routine.

An example of this would be the student's sleep routine. Sleep patterns can contribute to the body’s ability to regulate and heal. Sleep deficit issues during the week may not be helped by sleep excess on the weekends.

Parents and students must work together to try and become efficient in these important areas.


It is recommended that students learn early on how to document their episodes and dispositions that may have direct or unintended impact. Human memory is not reliable. Students need to begin practicing ways to objectify their mood and thoughts (some may choose to use a personal scale of 1-10) and journaling throughout the journey.

Students need to keep a record of medications, dosage, food, exercise, therapy, and notes.


Students must be encouraged and trained to effectively communicate with health personnel, parents, teachers, coaches, and other students. There needs to be wise counsel on how much to share, when to share, and how to share. Remember…. people who are observing the students do not ‘see’ their struggles and this can create an absence of empathy. At the same time, accurate communication helps dissuade concerns regarding enablement. For students going to college, Dr. Goodin recommends checking with the school’s department of disability early on to put accommodations into place designed to help students manage issues- especially when these are the first experiences of these episodes away from home.


The body has a powerful ability to adapt- young people are growing and learning how to cope. As a student grows and changes, there has to be strategy adjustments as well. The balance is figuring out how long to stay the course and when to implement change. Again, there needs to be great expert  involvement and careful, detailed, and documented advice in this process. These changes may be in direct response to changing hormones or better stress management.


Hurting children mean hurting parents, friends, and siblings. Any significant relationship in the world of issue management is a strained relationship. Every day is a struggle of when to push and when to give in. Dr. Goodin talked about the difficult decision a parent may have to make in nudging a student to school. His advice was ‘if you are able, you need to go to school and practice”. This can create some instant pushback. I understand- Every situation is unique. But if there isn’t a danger to themselves and they are not in need of emergency help, we need to press them to walk in their own circumstance and LEARN to battle. We have to  reference school/team policies about attendance. This will help them see that this will be true in the future and future employment requirements- there are real world deadlines and requirements. These points of possible disagreement and conflict can put a strain on these already burdened relationships.


The verse at the top of this post is one that has inspired me for many years. I hope I can capture the essence of it here before you grow weary of reading. (The readings it takes to adequately prepare you are II Chronicles 26, and the minor prophets: Zechariah, Ezra, and Nehemiah as well a remembering the promises and prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel- so this may or may not adequately set this up)

 Zerubbabel and Joshua the priest were part of a so called "1st wave" of Jewish captives released from Persia to return to Jerusalem. Zerubbabel, a governor, was tasked with rebuilding the temple. Later, Ezra would come with a 2nd wave with God's Law, and then finally, we all know the story of Nehemiah and his task of rebuilding the wall.

Back to Zerubbabel and Joshua (the Biblical power of Two)- the writer of Zechariah is full of hope, but there is little evidence anything is going to happen. Sure, there may be "small things" that happen... but nothing significant.

However, we see a new sight! 
For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel ( Zechariah 4:10).

There is something different here...... a man holding a plum bob!

A plumb bob is a building tool that helps set straight lines from scratch using gravity. Just like a compass uses the magnetic true north... the plumb bob sets straight angles and allows a cornerstone to be set just right.

Fixed truth.... you have to have it to build. Our eyes can't see true north or straight angles... we need tools! And for Christians, the straight line of truth is the Word of God.

But you also need the right leader holding the plum bob.... see, the people rejoice and have NEW hope because of WHOSE hand the plumb line resides.

This is where I want to motivate coaches.... coaches can be those plumb bob holders that your athletes find hope and rejoice.... and small things are no longer insignificant... you are mentoring these young men and women by holding fixed standards, but lovingly applying them. The people aren't rejoicing at the tool, they are rejoicing at the sight of the right leader with the right tool.... something good is NOW GOING TO HAPPEN!

And Zerubbabel gets it... he knows where the real change comes from. Just a few verses up 

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. [7] Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’” (Zechariah 4:6–7 ESV)

I plan to stress this with our coaches this summer and fall... I have even thought about using the whistle as an image of the plumb line in the hand of a master craftsman.


It takes a mighty partnership with parents, counselors, faculty, coaches, and others to keep an athlete who is struggling with anxiety, or depression, or disillusionment, or despair to just keep walking moment by moment... day by day. 

There needs to be eyes on the student. There needs to be conversations... but they can't be lectures. 
There has to be prayer. But over TIME, an athlete can mature and grow. They learn skills, they understand triggers, and they go though what I call "the magical process of maturation".

But it is a mistake to think of it as "they are fixed"... No, no... these are life long battles that come in all kinds of episodes and to different degrees.

There also  seems to be conflict over medication issues. Some parents tend to be ‘no drugs’ with concerns of dependency and abuse while others are more ‘maximum medication’ oriented.

Any prescribed medication needs to be handled legally and accurately. Great communication and wisdom is a necessity.

Coaches will also need to think about responses to requests for "mental health days" and how that impacts the team. Setting reasonable policy up front with the help of the parents can be beneficial with students who have a diagnosis and are getting professional care.

It is not an easy issue to wrestle with... but those of us in the relationship with these athletes need to think of "being" more than "doing".... such a hard balance.

We HAVE to build in discipline.. no team can survive without it.
We have to struggle with deficits... push/pull.. and we never find the same lines of exasperation.

So we ask from wisdom from above and ultimately we trust in the Lord and His glorious gospel!

These kids are worth it!

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Battling Anxiety and Depression: Athletics and Mental Health- Day 7


I'm a grandpa now and I see things differently than I used to.

As a young man, I read the following passage in a much different light than I do today.

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; [2] before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, [3] in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, [4] and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low—[5] they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets—[6] before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, [7] and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. [8] Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity. “(Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 ESV)

In my youth spring of optimism- I saw it as a story of those who DON”T walk with God at an early age. Forget God, and your life becomes a twisted, empty, and miserable maze of melancholy.

As I grow older, I NOW see that this passage describes periods of time in which all humans share- whether in the Lord or without. No one escapes. The one most surprised by it was me.

There are hindrances to blog writing… this topic in particular needs more than a book to dissect and deliberate…. And many who I work with find the struggle to be in decades and not days. But I will delve into this just a little as a testimony that there is victory in Christ in this area- and winning sometimes is as simple as breathing.

Though modern Christianity tends to shy away from these topics… the Bible and the history of Christianity is a hard core, blunt testimony to believers who walk in periods of darkness and despair.

If you doubt this - read David’s laments as he cries through lonely nights, Naomi who called out to those around her to change her name. She said “Don’t call me Naomi (pleasant), Call me Mara (Bitter)”. Jeremiah was known as the ‘weeping prophet”.

There is an ENTIRE book called “Lamentations”- I guarantee we don’t read that book a lot.

Martin Luther was famous for fits of what he termed a malady of melancholy.The great nineteenth century preacher Charles Spurgeon suffered from acute depression. Often he was bedridden and unable to preach, sometimes as much as twice a month.

Now, again, it is so important here to not put all of these experiences in a simple basket called 'the blues'.

The more we learn about these conditions from acute to chronic, from chemical and genetic disorders, from weather related conditions, from trauma in early life, from tragedy in life, from fear and anxiousness, to identity crisis… even spiritual crisis… this is never going to be simple and the cure will often appear out of the reach of reality… but God is never absent and we are never without hope.

I also wanted to make reference and distinguish to something similar, but not the same. Early church fathers spent much time on a season they referred to as , “The Dark Night of the Soul”.
The phrase comes from an 8 stanza poem by St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), a Spanish monk and mystic.Gerald May, in his book  Care of Mind/Care of Spirit, says that these dark night places are doing a work that is deeper than our experiences of emotion, thought or action. In some ways, it might be more helpful to call the “dark night” a non-experience or a process of ‘unknowing’ .

The word ‘distinction’ is so important in ciphering through these experiences….

“It is important for us to make a distinction between the spiritual fruit of joy and the cultural concept of happiness. A Christian can have joy in his heart while there is still spiritual depression in his head. The joy that we have sustains us through these dark nights and is not quenched by spiritual depression. The joy of the Christian is one that survives all downturns in life.” R.C. Sproul


I may be wrong, but I NEVER remember being ‘depressed’ for any length of time throughout my teens, 20’s, and early 30’s. Sure, I got ‘disappointed’ and I suffered loss. I went through seasons of unrequited desires.

But not only do I not remember fighting depression or negativity, I actually had little patience with anyone who did. I disliked anyone who spoke in defeatist terms.. and the ‘blues’? My shallow and unfeeling reply was ‘get over it, you loser’.

BUT LIFE (and God) made sure I experienced what Ecclesiastes was promising.

Sure I was still a man of faith, I was loved, I was blessed- I was a peaceful man more with joy than regret..

but I also found myself dealing with a strange new friends… fears, doubts, loneliness, and emptiness. And they were tangible.. I could taste them. They made my eyes tired, they kept me up at night, and I couldn’t even introduce them to my wife.

It wasn’t dramatic enough to be labeled a ‘mid-life crisis’- I wasn’t thinking of convertibles and Corona’s…..But I was pulled by a strong gravity inward to wrestle with deep desires and questions that I had hidden with youthful exuberance and a smile.

Now, here is the weird thing….looking back over 20 years of meeting these friends in sneak attacks and seasons of grief or pain….. It was wonderful!

Because I did find the one person who met me there, in the dark, under the accusing crooked fingers of my demons.

Jesus was and is there, though many times I did not see Him. He didn’t say much.. but I knew He cared. You know the old Marine saying? “You can pretend to care, but you cannot pretend to be there.” One of the greatest growth moments of faith is to look into the darkness and know you are not alone... HE WAS THERE!

How was He there? I found that God’s Word powerfully attached to all of those dispositions. I particularly found healing in Psalms and in the gospels.

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Cor. 4:7­-10).

The apostle Paul in writing to the Philippians gives me the admonition to be anxious for nothing,” telling me that the cure for anxiety is found on my knees, that it is the peace of God that calms my spirit and dissipates anxiety. Again, I can be anxious and nervous and worried without finally submitting to ultimate despair.


Before you give me a wreath of victory… the struggle remains. And for some people, it is a lifelong battle that requires consistent medication, evaluation, and professional support. At this time, I haven’t had to go there, but it is no lack of faith and no reason for shame if I did.

I was also helped by Os Guinness in a book titled, “The Call”

For me,  Os Guinness began to articulate about finding authentic love and truth in the dark.

He writes: The notion of calling is VITAL to each of us because it touches on the modern search for a basis for individual identity and an understanding of humanness itself.

He outlines stages of human identity that is connected to our own sense of purpose. All human worldviews and philosophies speak to aspects of these ‘labels’ of identity

One is “I AM CONSTRAINED TO BE”– this simply is where we are right now by following the path that led here. It is the lot we find ourselves, and can present itself like a prison of our own circumstances. Sometimes these constraints look insurmountable… and some are.

The next one is “COURAGE TO BE”- this is the one that I held to as that optimistic 20 year old. I bought into all the snappy slogans that turned into self-help best sellers. “Be all you can be”- “Shoot for the Stars”. Now, to he honest- these are great challenges and they do ‘birth’ dreams that are helpful in the process of pulling against our restraints.

The third one is “CONSTITUTED TO BE”- this one is where most secular philosophies stop and ‘mission accomplished’ is celebrated. We have broken out of our constraints and now revel in a life. We have FOUND our identity in context of experience, passion, and skill. The power is within ourselves and can be described as a kind of 'intestinal fortitude' or 'guts'.

But the Bible does not stop there… it wants me to take one more step… a step of faith..and it is a huge deal…

‘CALLED TO BE’– this is the relationship of love that moves us with purpose and not a product of chance and whim. By being called to a person… especially the Creator and Lover of our souls, we have a place to go when our soul is wounded and crushed or flooded with anxiety. Who can we depend on when our 'guts' run out?

R.C. Sproul said it like this:

The presence of faith gives no guarantee of the absence of spiritual depression; however, the dark night of the soul always gives way to the brightness of the noonday light in the presence of God.

My relationship with a FATHER… THE FATHER.. the lover of my soul… gives me a NAME that matters.

My despair... anxiety... loneliness.. depression... grief... was good- because it drove me to the One who was seeking me all along.

C.S. Lewis says it is in our stories…. a ‘desire for a far off country’  the scent of a flower we have not found… the echo of a tune we have not from a country we have yet to visit”

And when we find Him in the depths.. we still don’t know a lot… but we know Him. And our question becomes “What do you desire me to do?”

Remember Naomi… the one who wanted to be called “Bitter”?

Naomi knew darkness. She and her husband had to sojourn in famine conditions in Moab. She had 2 sons who married Moabite women. Life was tough, but grew desperate as Naomi had to experience the death of her husband and, 10 years later, she went through the pain of losing her two sons!

And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”  (Ruth 1:19-21 ESV)

But, OVER TIME, Naomi experienced the love of God through Ruth and God stepped in and provided a Kinsman Redeemer and lifted this family up!
I hope you know the story about how Boaz, a kind and devout man, met Ruth and sacrificially worked to gain Ruth as his bride. And when Ruth gave Naomi a grandson… the blessing was complete.

Naomi’s identity was miraculously changed:

“Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! [15] He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” [16] Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse.” (Ruth 4:14-16 ESV)

The depression/anxiety that we struggle with may be profound, but it is not permanent, nor is it fatal.

And sometimes, all we can do… all we need to do is just keep breathing… our hearts need to keep pumping… and listen for the word of Your Father… He is THERE and He does CARE.

As a coach, these struggles have made me better. I'm not tempted by the glory of sports fame nor chained to achievements... the stuff never loves me back.

Instead... I have just loved being with athletes and I feel their anxiety and my heart aches to help them. And the cool things about kids.... the have an uncanny sense of knowing if you REALLY care about them. And one they know you care.... there is no end in how you can help them. And I don't mean how to better read the safety as he rolls to 3 cloud... or how to switch the pass pro when they feel a filed pressure coming... no you help them in deeper ways.

i want them to see me faithfully fighting with relentless optimism....

I want them to see me not running away from God in the midst of chaos and tragedy of life.. but inspiring them to cling to the One who loves and restores.

One day we will all see Him face to face...He will wipe away our tears… and we will truly know a freedom from human misery, death, and deceit.

"The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and He saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

Can you dare to believe this?