November 21, 2017

Do you BELIEVE in MIRACLES? FOR 2014, BELIEVE! AUBURN inspires us once more….

In order to change, you must believe that you can. You must also decide that you can. Once you decide to change your path for whatever it is you seek, miracles will then begin to occur.

BELIEVE you can.
DECIDE you can.
With belief and a proactive decision,
MIRACLES occur.

You receive God’s favor because you choose to act, behave, and approach life differently. This foundational cycle became the new attitude as the theme of a new day began in Auburn, at the center of athletics in the football world.

After a 3-8 season (three wins and eight losses) last year, Auburn rose up with a 12-1 season (twelve wins and one loss) with a Southeastern Conference Championship and a trip to Pasadena, California for the national championship against the Florida State Seminoles. As a first year head coach at Auburn University, Gus Malzahn indeed brought a new day to the heart of this town that breathes, eats, and lives the spirit of the university with its students.

Announcers, fans, and commentators everywhere referred to the season as a “miracle.” For those of us who believe firmly in God, we should grow accustomed to miracles. In fact, you might think that to be a Christian’s norm. The exact opposite of this reality in many followers of Christ proves to be true. We beg God for miracles in prayer, instead of believing in their everyday existence.

I sit in a Starbucks off the beach shores of Corpus Christi, Texas with a new job opportunity that changes lives. My online adjunct teaching assignment also continues with another contract. In January, I start a second Masters degree with one of the most selective digital journalism programs in the south. At thirty-one years of age, all four of my Grandparents still live. My father and I packed my stuff, stored it, moved it, drove across the country, found a place to live, unloaded the U-Haul, and unpacked those very things all in one week. And my Alma Mater, with a first year coach, is going to the national championship.

And those listed make up just a few of my own recent miracles. Believe and decide to change your life, and miracles inevitable will occur. With new perspective, you just have to see them as they occur.

In the year of 2014, I challenge you to accept the notion of miracles once more. Believe that you can. Know that you can. And pursue the newfound belief in yourself as you live for greater things to come, reaching for higher heights than you ever imagined.

If you missed the highlights of the Southeastern Conference Championship game, then watch the video below as extravagance marches across the field. It provided the next step in what can only be described as a miracle season and Cinderella story.

A New Day Begins – Inspiration into the Unknown, given by my own Auburn Tigers!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

Before you read this entry, please watch the miraculous win above with the recent Iron Bowl, the yearly, historical American football rival game with The University of Alabama and Auburn University. For better or worse, this sports rivalry sometimes splits households over the game of football, especially near Thanksgiving when this game occurs.

At the beginning of this football season, no one actually predicted or even believed that the Auburn University Tigers might actually play for a national championship under first year coach, Gus Malzaln, well at least, not until now.

Just the year before, the previous football coach, Gene Chizik, won three games and lost nine. By the end of the season, the football student-athletes felt demoralized, and their performance on the field felt even more tragic as their lack of motivation was evident by the last game of the season.

Coach Gus continued to preach a new theme in the locker room, “This is a new day. Forget about last year.” I feel this motto to be true in many ways within my own life and even the lives of my own readers, with stories written in the comments section or emailed to me.

Tomorrow I move to Corpus Christi, Texas to begin a new job with a health conscious, nonprofit organization whose cause I deeply believe in. I was also recently accepted into a very select Masters program through The University of South Florida in Digital Journalism, Media, and Design….my second Masters attempted and eventually graduated from. These are just two new glimmers of the many hopes recently experienced with the new chapter about to begin in my own life.

I begin the New Year with a new job, new studies, and a new location to restart and reboot. My beginnings are not just resolutions. They are actual life happenings.

Last year was kind of like Auburn’s season for me, a rebuilding year as they might say in the world of college athletics. This job is a new day for me. The new soon-to-be home is a new day for me. These new studies are further more a new day for me. It is truly a new day to pick up and begin anew. Through a worthy cause, I will attain higher heights, with intentional chosen joy, in the celebration of what is to come.

We cannot control what happened in the past, but like Auburn and my own life, we can control what happens tomorrow with a new day ahead. Like a losing football season, this past year was character-building for me, on many levels. And now it is time to utilize the character now molded to become better on a personal level but also closer to God on a spiritual level, thankful for all the good He has done.

I owe my new found success to the many friends and family who supported me, specifically with my faith community in Atlanta, Georgia, Grace Midtown Church, and most importantly, my parents. Our most valiant successes often come from those who most believe in us, even when we fail to believe in ourselves.

Our successes often come from those we surround ourselves with. Tomorrow is a new day. Make the most of the opportunities before you! Our valleys often next lead to our greatest mountain successes.

Here are a few more Auburn football videos to get Tiger fans everywhere motivated for a new day!

Auburn University, AL – I’m coming home! The Green River Ordinance reminds me of eternity….

Revelation 21:4 (NKJV)

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

While visiting my favorite rural town of southern America, Auburn, Alabama, God constantly brings new meaning to the word, “home.” I attended this past weekend’s home game against Florida Atlantic University, where the football team easily rolled through a win with another reason to roll Toomer’s Corner.  I attended the game with two very close friends (a married couple) from Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama. I stayed with their respective immediate families and ate better there, on my visit, than I have in the last month in Atlanta, Georgia, with all the diet food I ingest. I constantly survive the single life of what feels like constant boredom and monotony.

I then spent this Sunday morning with these new family members and attended Senior Day with the girls’ soccer team home match against Vanderbilt and their actual first SEC conference win. The girls appeared to struggle this season, after reaching the NCAA tournament in the last seven seasons. I was still passionate to watch some of the student athletes’ last home game, with a dedicated following of fans there to cheer them on. After eating dinner with my best friend from Auburn, we now sit in the Starbucks, working on our own various responsibilities, such as my weekly blog journaling.

I truly feel home here in this university-focused town. It is a deep connection that I believe unless related on some level to the Auburn family, you might truly not understand the roots of familiarity that lie in my heart, for those who bleed orange and blue. While Atlanta serves as my most recent residence with a world of many exciting events and things to do, it could never replace the warm welcoming of a cold-chill fall football weekend in Auburn, Alabama. The feeling tingles the toes of my feet, wearing navy blue and orange Chacos, as I write this blog entry. Auburn hits home to the very core of my being and eternal spirit.

As the song played below by the independent band, The Green River Ordinance, depicts, this is how home feels to us, as we journey from place to place, some geographic regions familiar to us and some not as much. We feel comfortable. We feel warmth. We feel a touch of eternity.

Like the quivers of butterflies kissing a girl or holding her hand for the first time, we sense the Spirit of God in a very real and personal way. I believe those very same feelings easily correlate to how we should feel and look forward to an eternal home in heaven, with a Holy Father. Instead of dreading each Monday morning, we look forward to a new day because we reach one step closer to God. Our death no longer becomes a day of fear but rather celebration.

Auburn might feel like my own happy-place heaven on earth, but ultimately, I have something so much more valuable to look forward to, that being an eternal home with Jesus Christ. When that shift in perspective settles into your heart of being, you realize not much else matters, in the muck of each day’s trivialities. I realize “I’m going home, I’m going home, I’m going home, and I’m not looking back, looking back.” We realize nothing in the past is worth looking back upon because we experience and have an eternity to look forward to. While living in the present, that realization encourages believers to confidently know the best is yet to come.

GREEN RIVER ORDINANCE LYRICS

“Home”

Lost in the memory have forgotten
I’ve been counting down the days
on the oceans the life between us
but I finally get to say
I’m going home, I’m going home
I’m going home and I’m not looking back, looking back

close my eyes and feel the way
the distance left these land so great
but I’m leaving here gonna make it clear
these words be the bold out here
to bridge your doubts and be the shiver the lonely hearts
get brand new star

I’m going home, I’m going home,
I’m going home, and I’m not looking back, looking back

[Chorus:]
Open the heartaches whatever it takes
I’m go back far to be with you
A lot of cause me
to what is true
I could’ve been lost but I see you there
long to give it all just to be right there
I said ohh I’m going home

and I’ll run it to your arms dear
I know that I belong here
make up for the love we lost
and came that shot you cause
I’m going home, I’m going home

[Chorus:]

Open the heartaches whatever it takes
I’m go back far to be with you
A lot of cause me
to what is true
I could’ve been lost but I see you there
long to give it all just to be right there
I said ohh I’m going home
I could’ve been lost but I see you there
long to give it all just to be right there
I said ohh I’m going home
ohh, I’m going home,
I’m going home, I’m going home
I’m going home and I’m not looking back, looking back

The Last Roll – Tradition at Toomer’s Corner Shows The Auburn Spirit Forever Rooted!

“The honest-to-god truth is that you feel like you’re home when you come here. My wife and I have been all over the world, and we’ve never found a place that feels as much like home as this does.” –Auburn fan, John Roberts.

This past weekend I traveled with my father to Auburn, Alabama where 84,000 other Tiger faithful showed for the annual A-Day Spring Game. This event served as no ordinary year because as a university family we would role our beloved oaks one last time.

“No one can pin down exactly when the tradition began of celebrating big football wins with the rolling of Toomer’s Corner. Even Auburn historians concede its origins are somewhat murky. Legend has it students would gather outside Toomer’s Drugstore in the late 1890s to await word of Auburn road victories, and when good news would arrive by telegraph, fans would string ticker tape over the power lines to celebrate. At some point in the late 1960s or early 1970s, students began launching rolls of toilet paper into the trees to revel in victory, and when Auburn knocked off undefeated Alabama in the 1972 Iron Bowl, the ritual was solidified.” –ESPN.COM

Toomers is not a usual place anyone imagined would come under attack by a fanatical fan, but that’s exactly what occurred in 2010 when longtime Alabama fan Harvey Updyke Jr. laced the trees with poison after Tigers quarterback Cam Newton led Auburn to a comeback victory over Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Updyke, who eventually pleaded guilty to the crime, might never have been caught had he not called into Paul Finebaum’s popular radio show to brag about his act of murder.

Scientists from Auburn’s horticulture department desperately tried everything to save the trees, even excavating roots and washing them by hand. Nothing more could be done.

Updyke was sentenced to only three years in prison after destroying the 130 year old oak trees. Some University of Alabama fans continue to ask Updyke for pictures and autographs when they see him public. He might be considered an unsung hero. Some publishers continue to pursue Updyke for a book contract on his life story.

That type of endorsement ruins college sports for many involved. Fans of any school become victims, subject to the death of a treasured college tradition because of one man’s insanity.

When you attend a university of a caliber Southeastern Conference size, alumni often feel at home in the welcoming received. You wear the colors of your team proudly in celebration for achievements of success both academic and even athletically.

This past week someone accused me of jealousy for one particular school who carries several football national championships. First and foremost, I do not love Auburn or any other school for the sole purpose of a football program. In many ways, I think a spotlight focused on the success of athletics over everything else is sad. I find it even more disheartening when through rivalry individuals of any school kill and damage property, like the Toomer’s Corner oak trees.

Even if not personally committed, the person who acts represents all in a grouping when professing to perform an action in the name of a university and even more dreadfully a football team.

Unless you attend Auburn University as a student or a similar larger university (for instance, Texas A&M, the University of Florida, the University of South Carolina, Oklahoma, or perhaps even Nebraska), you will not truly understand the meaning that this family tradition brings in the unity of a school seal.

I still hear people say, “My daddy’s daddy played football at The University of State, and I have been a fan all my life.” Well, perhaps like Updyke, maybe a fan is all you are. Simply knowing a relative who played a sport does not constitute knowing on a personal level the deeper meaning behind a university. The representation of a university goes beyond championships and sports. It runs in your blood. It often culminates from the achievement of a degree from the associated school or at least attending as a student at some point. I think who you know did something in the past does not legitimize a firsthand experience and never will.

The truth is Updyke never attended college or even at least graduated from Alabama. His actions unfortunately bring shame to all Alabama alum, fans, and associates because he claims to represent colors of Paul Bear Bryant as his own and bring honor to the school for his poisoning. Unfortunately, that carries over to represent anyone from the University of Alabama. That does not mean any logical person agrees with his juvenile behavior, but you cannot deny that they occurred..

The Auburn Spirit carries on, despite the actions of one man and those who avidly support his stupidity. The traditions of Toomer’s Corner represented victory in the celebration and achievement of sport, but in the hearts of those who actually attended Auburn, it means so much more.

It means sharing moments with others who believe in an inner family atmosphere in the love for something more than us….a love that stands forever rooted in the name we live and represent, Auburn University. Like so many this past weekend, I love Auburn and believe in it! The trees die, but our belief and fondness for this special place lives on.