Happy 200th Birthday, Indiana!

Flag map of Indiana

OK, it’s not quite Indiana’s birthday. But it’s close. It’s only a few days away. December 11, to be exact. That’s the date Indiana was admitted into the Union in 1816. So we’re celebrating 200 years of being a state!

While there are many things that frustrate me about Indiana, I also have a deep, deep appreciation for the Hoosier State. I will openly criticize my home state, but I will defend Indiana with all my heart if you aren’t a Hoosier and try to say something negative about the State I love. That’s probably a fault of mine. But I’m OK with that because I really do love our state. Honest to goodness.

I have been to many parts of Indiana over the years and here is much to love about our state. As we celebrate Indiana’s 200th birthday, I want to share with you some of the great things that make our state amazing. There really is more than corn in Indiana. There’s also more to this state than a race track. Amazingly enough, there are some people who don’t really care that much about the Indianapolis 500, even though it’s been part of the state’s story for more than 100 years.  And although basketball has a pretty special place in our collective consciousness, there’s more to Indiana than just basketball.

Indiana is a special place. And I want to relish in its specialness. So, in celebration of Indiana’s 200th birthday, I’ll be publishing several posts during the month of December that will hopefully remind us how great this state can be. Because that’s what happens when you wander Indiana. You find some great stories. You also find some pretty amazing people and some beautiful scenery. I hope these things are reflected in our journey through the Hoosier State. I also hope that I’m able to figure out a way to share a heapin’ helping of Hoosier Hospitality as we wander through the state together.

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Get your Rogue One tickets NOW!

*This post contains affiliate links. You can read more in my Disclosure Policy. Thank you for your ongoing support.*
Rogue One a Star Wars Story movie Poster

The release of the first stand-alone Star Wars film, Rogue One, is just around the corner. And I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited about it. In case you aren’t familiar with the storyline, Rogue One is about the Rebellion’s attempt to steal the plans of the Empire’s ultimate secret weapon: the Death Star. If the trailers are any indication, this movie is going to be one wild ride. The movie opens on December 16, but advance tickets are available NOW through Fandango.

Will there be Bothans?

There has been a little bit of confusion about when this story takes place. It is not the mission Mon Mothma is referring to in Return of the Jedi (it’s my favorite, you might remember) when she says that “Many Bothans died to bring us this information.” That was for the second Death Star. This story takes place immediately before A New Hope (also my favorite). It’s presumably the plans that Princess Leia hides in R2-D2, which leads to a swashbuckling adventure unmatched by most (if not all) films.

I secretly hope Bothans are part of this story. I hope they’re tucked away in the background somewhere. But I also hope none of them die. Because it sounds like far too many of them die later on.

“Rebellions are built on hope.”

Hope. That’s what the original trilogy is full of. Obi-wan Kenobi is Princess Leia’s only hope. It’s clear that Luke Skywalker becomes the Rebellion’s new hope. And by the end of the trilogy, it’s the hope that there is still good in his father that compels Luke to journey into the heart of darkness. There’s hope in friends. The Empire has misdirected hope in power and technological terror. There’s hope in the mystical unknown. The original trilogy is fueled by hope. And it sounds like Rogue One taps into that same spirit. We are surrounded by reasons to have hope.

I look forward to another reminder of how much hope we can have in the midst of darkness.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Tickets

The trailers.

In celebration of the upcoming release of Rogue One: a Star Wars Story, I’ve compiled the film’s trailers below. I don’t know about you, but watching them really makes me excited about watching this movie. I hope (there’s that word again) it lives up to my expectations.

I’m sure it will.

Buy your Rogue One tickets today.



Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Tickets

TV Spots

If that isn’t enough to get your blood flowing and your adrenaline pumping, here are some of the trailers that have popped up on TV over the last month or so.

I have to admit, I wasn’t that excited when I heard of  Disney/Lucasfilm’s plans to release stand-alone films that are outside the main Star Wars saga storyline. The story of how the Rebellion stole the plans to the Death Star is the perfect way to kick off these stand-alone Star Wars films, in my opinion. This movie looks good. Very good. I’m excited. And I hope you are, too.

What are you waiting for? Join the Rebellion today.


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Tickets

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Don’t miss these Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals

black-friday-and-cyber-monday-deals-2016

Please note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy. Thank you for your ongoing support of this site.

It seems that Black Friday shopping is still pretty popular amongst members of the Life in the Fishbowl community. I hope y’all have a great time fighting the lines and finding the great deals. After you’ve worn the soles off your shoes, check out these deals online. I don’t think you want to miss them.

Jesus Always at Family Christian Stores

When I worked at Family Christian, one of the most popular devotions was Jesus Calling. Now the author of Jesus Calling has released a new devotional called Jesus Always. It’s available for $5.00 right now. Or you can combine the book with a Jesus Always journal, pen, and gift bag for a total of $17.99, which is a pretty remarkable deal.

Jesus Always Gift Bundle

That’s not the only deal Family Christian has right now. They’re in the middle of their 10 Day Black Friday Sale, which includes 50% off ESV Bibles, 25% off Active Faith Wear, and 50% off wall art. 
Up to 60% off! 10 days of Black Friday deals. Nov 18 - 27

Sleepyheads

We have a family tradition of getting everyone a new set of pajamas that we unwrap on Christmas Eve. That can add up in a hurry if you aren’t careful. Thankfully, Sleepyheads.com has a great deal right now: 50% off PajamaMania items (November 25-28). They also have some other great deals, like free shipping for orders of $25 or more and 30% off sitewide.
Stay Cozy & Warm This Winter With Pajama's From Sleeypheads.com

Tree Classics

Why battle the Black Friday crowds when all you really want is some new Christmas decor? Tree Classics is offering up to 60% off and free shipping to make things even sweeter.
Black Friday Sale. Save Up to 60% + Free Shipping Sitewide. Hurry, Sale Ends Soon!

Fanatics

Fanatics.com is also running some great deals for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, including Holiday Door Busters with up to 50% off. You might even be able to save enough money to buy yourself that ugly Christmas sweater you know you’ve always wanted.
Big Savings for Big Fans at Fanatics.com

eCreamery

Between now and November 30th, you get two free pints of Cinnamon or Candy Cane ice cream with any 4 or 8 pint purchase.
eCreamery - Personalized ice cream for every gift occasion

I’m sure I’ll find more. So be sure to keep your eyes glued to Life in the Fishbowl!

Happy Thanksgiving! And happy shopping!

 

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Well done, David

David Rinehart playing the grand piano at the Villa Philmonte at Philmont Scout Ranch, 1990

David Rinehart playing the grand piano at the Villa Philmonte at Philmont Scout Ranch, 1990.

One of the few bright spots from my middle school experience was my involvement in Boy Scouts. Scouting had a huge impact on my life because of the adults who were there to mentor me. We also had a great group of older Scouts who would guide us and teach us. One of those older Scouts in my early days in Troop 322 was David Rinehart.

I looked up to him. A lot.

I know he was flawed. We all are. This is no hagiography. I know David wasn’t perfect. But to a kid entering his preteen and teenage years, David was about as close to the embodiment of the Scout Law that you could get. He ultimately went away to a small Christian college in Kentucky and then came back to our home church to serve as a worship leader.

I hadn’t really been in contact with him after I left Evansville. Unfortunately, that does tend to happen. Even in this hyper-connected age of social media. I was still happy to see him whenever I returned home. I think it’s safe to say that I still looked up to him. And I thought about him often.

In fact, I think about him every time I use a Dutch Oven or a cast iron skillet.

I think I was in seventh grade, serving as Assistant Patrol Leader. It was late one evening and we had just finished dinner. I’m not sure why, but I was the one in charge of my Patrol. The Dutch Oven we had used had burnt food that was caked onto the bottom of the pot. We decided to fill the Dutch Oven with water and sit it on our camp stove. This was somewhat standard procedure. The idea was that the hot water would help release the burnt food while you scraped the bottom with a metal spoon.

Shortly after turning our camp stove to a high flame, all patrols were called to an evening Troop meeting. Thinking it would be a quick meeting, we left the camp stove on so the water would reach a boil. I know. Big mistake. But I wasn’t really thinking. And even if I was thinking, I’m not convinced I would have known better, anyway.

With the stove set to high, the water started boiling pretty quickly. During the Troop assembly, I forgot about the Dutch Oven. We took our time getting back to our campsite. When we did finally make it back, I was shocked to discover that all of the water had evaporated and the camp stove was just burning the burnt food even more. Our Dutch Oven was a carbonized, unusable mess.

I went to the adult leaders. They asked David to come to see if there was any way he could help salvage the Dutch Oven. Late into the evening, we scrubbed and scraped and rinsed. At one point, as we started to make some progress, he stopped, looked up at me, and chuckled, saying,

“Don’t ever do this again.”

Then he continued scrubbing and scraping away.

cast-iron-skillet

This moment is etched in my memory. I think of it every time I cook with cast iron. In my mind’s eye, he looks up at me and says “Don’t ever do this again.” Then I chuckle and go back to cleaning the skillet or Dutch Oven. It reminds me of his servant’s heart. And the more I look back at those middle school and early high school days, the more I realize I really looked up to him.

Things will be different now.

In the early hours of Sunday, November 13, David, his mother, and one of his daughters died in a horrific traffic accident. They were on their way home from an amazing, season-ending performance at the Bands of America Grand Nationals here in Indianapolis.

Since learning of the news, I’ve seen countless testimonies about how David led worship with all of his heart, ushering others before the Throne and joining them in praise to Our Father. I’ve been reminded of how passionate he was when he directed a choir. And I can only imagine what kind of choir music he might be directing in heaven. What a glorious sound that would be.

After seeing David kneeling down with a servant’s heart, I hope I see this image in my mind’s eye the next time I’m cooking with cast iron. I hope to see him leading worship with everything that was within him. Maybe I’ll even catch a hint of the melody. And I’m sure I’ll have to swing and sway along with the beat. Just like he did.

In that moment, I will remember that there will be a day when He will wipe away every tear, as I shed a tear of my own. And I will long for a day when there will be no more death, no more mourning. No more crying or pain. I will see the beauty that will rise out of these ashes.

But for now…Now I weep. I weep for a man I haven’t seen in over a decade, but who had a much larger impact on my life than I ever realized. And I know he touched countless others with his life, too. So I join the chorus of those countless others, saying (or singing) the words that I long to hear someday. I am confident he heard these words early that Sunday morning.

“Well done, David. Well done.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I think I need to find a cast iron skillet and fix some dinner tonight.

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Some thoughts about the upcoming election

choice-1685841_640

I’ve made it clear that I cannot support the Democratic and Republican nominees for President of the United States. If you support one of them, it’s OK. I really do understand. Both of them have policies that are appealing. And I really do understand the underlying fear that both parties have relentlessly stoked during this political cycle. I won’t condemn you for voting one way or another. I might not agree with you, but I understand. I honestly do.

I also understand the “lesser of two evils” argument. Some of you have chosen to follow this path. You believe that both Hillary and The Donald are horrible choices. The majority of the United States voting population agrees with you. But as you’ve analyzed this decision, you believe that one candidate is horrible and the other is only slightly less horrible. So you’ve decided to vote for the slightly less horrible candidate so the horrible candidate does not become President. I understand that dilemma. And I understand your choice. That major party candidate you don’t want to become President? I don’t want that person to win, either. I promise you that.

I almost chose this side. This Summer, I watched bits and pieces of the Republican National Convention and wasn’t very thrilled with what I heard and saw. And the I watched the Democratic National Convention. I listened to Tim Kaine. Having lived on the border of Virginia, I was familiar with him and his policies. I listened anyway. He invited disgruntled Republicans to consider joining them because there was room for them in the Democratic Party. It sounded appealing. A Big Tent Party sounds like a beautiful thing. So I cracked open that door just a little bit. Mrs. Clinton slammed that door shut in her acceptance speech. She and her running mate could talk a good talk, but it was made very clear that there is no room for someone like me in their party.

I’ve decided to abandon the major parties during this presidential election. Because it’s pretty clear they’ve abandoned me. It’s pretty clear that many other Americans feel abandoned, too. That’s what happens when you nominate the two most unpopular candidates in American history. I will not accept the false dichotomy that has been presented to the American public. I wish more voters felt the same. Because we are going to keep getting awful candidates if we accept the idea that we only have two choices.

“But, why do you want to throw your vote away like that?”

I’ve heard this argument a lot. In fact, I used to believe this argument. I have toyed around with voting Third Party for several years. I just couldn’t get over the notion that my vote wouldn’t matter. I realize now that I was wrong.

First of all, to the people who are making this claim, how dare you?

How dare you tell people it’s their civic responsibility to participate in the electoral process and then say that their votes don’t matter because they don’t agree with yours?

Are you telling me that some votes matter more than others? I realize within the context of the Electoral College, this really is the case. But this isn’t what you’re saying when you accuse me of throwing my vote away. You’re telling me that some votes are more equal than other votes. And that’s not OK?

Sounds like you’re trying to rig the system. That’s deplorable.

Voting for a non-major party is hardly throwing my vote away. Not voting at all would be throwing my vote away. Staying home – that’s how you throw away your vote. Voting is a right that I do not take lightly. I’ve spoken with people who live in countries where they do not have this freedom to choose our government. It’s a right I do not take lightly. Nor should any of us. Staying home and ignoring your civic responsibility to vote is throwing your vote away. Throwing support behind a candidate who is not a member of a major party? That just might be the most American thing you can do. After all, we say we’re big fans of the underdog. Right?

Besides, we aren’t gambling here. I don’t win any type of prize by voting for the winning candidate. The point of participating in the election process is to support a candidate, not necessarily to team up with the winning side. If I believe in a candidate and the candidate’s platform, does it really matter if anyone else votes for that person? I have nothing to lose by voting for the person with whom I agree.

I get it. We love winners. We probably love winners more than we love the underdog. That’s why there are so many bandwagon fans in the sports world.

But this isn’t sports. It’s our government. So how dare you say I’m throwing my vote away.

How. dare. you?

“Ok, why not just vote down ticket and skip voting for President?”

That’s one way to say you’re dissatisfied with the candidates. And I did that in the Primary.  But I cannot do that during this election. Because my silence does nothing. Nobody hears my voice. Because I don’t use the voice I’ve been given. So I’m ignored.

You know what happened when the conservatives stayed home and didn’t vote for President because they didn’t like Romney?

Donald Trump.

He’s what happened. People didn’t vote and the pundits tried to decide what the nonvoting American public wanted. It doesn’t sound like he was their expected result. And now that we’re presented these two choices from the two major parties, we have to realize that if we keep voting for candidates like these, we’re going to keep getting leaders like these. It’s time to break the cycle. Silence won’t work. Placing support behind a different candidate, a Third or Fourth Party candidate, is the only way I believe my voice will be heard.

vote-1286584_640

“But a Third Party vote is a vote for Hillary.”
“A Third Party vote is a vote for Trump.”

Stop it. Just stop it.

I’ve heard both arguments. Both are bunk. Talk about fear-mongering. This isn’t 1992 when Ross Perot took votes away from George HW Bush.

You’re assuming that the majority of the Third Party voters were going to vote for either Clinton or Donald. We weren’t. Neither one of them was going to get my vote, so voting Third Party does not make my vote magically support your opponent. So you can use all of the fear-mongering tactics that you want, but I’m going to sleep well Tuesday night, knowing that I was not complicit in electing either one of these candidates. You know, the two most unlikeable candidates in US history.

A third (or fourth) way.

Do I think a Third Party candidate will win the presidential election? No. Probably not. It’s my sincere hope, however, that a candidate or two will make enough noise to pass the 5% threshold that will qualify them for Federal funding in the next election cycle. It’s also my sincere hope that Third Party candidates receive enough support that it makes the Republican and Democrat leaders have a panic attack.

I’ve thought for a long time that we don’t really need just a major Third Party. We probably need a Fourth Party, too, if we’re really going to have politicians who listen to their constituents. We’re nowhere near that now, but we can make a start by giving rise to a Third Party. Do I agree with everything the candidate says? Nope. But I’m pretty sure the only person I agree with 100% of the time is me, myself, and I. And I don’t even think I agree with myself 100% of the time.

So I’m voting Third Party this year. And I’m hoping for a better future four years from now, where people will actually want to vote for a candidate instead of against one.

That, friends, would be huge and would make the country win. Bigly.

A photo posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

 

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Holy cow, this Cardinals fan is flying the W. Kind of.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy. Thank you for your ongoing support of this site.

Chicago Cubs championship celebration

I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan. I always have been. Always will be. It’s how I was raised.And I’m pretty OK with that. I’m a proud supporter of the Redbirds. I realize that this might be unacceptable to some Cardinals fans, but I really don’t despise the Cubs.

Shop for 2016 World Series fan gear and collectibles at MLBShop.com

I get it. They’re the Cardinals’ arch rival. I should hate them with the burning passion of a thousand suns. But I don’t. In fact, there are several other teams I dislike more than I dislike the Cubs. The Yankees, Red Sox, and Braves come to mind. Of course, when it comes to the world of athletics, KY takes the cake. But when it comes to the Cubs?

Eh.

I can take them or leave them. I guess you could say I’m usually generally ambivalent towards them. Unless they’re playing the Cardinals, of course.

When the Cubs and Indians finally  made it to the World Series, I could watch with little emotional attachment. I was just happy that one team’s streak without a championship was going to end. There was a lot of hype. And drama. And emotion. The games did not disappoint.

I have several friends who are Indians fans. Many more who are Cubs fans. So I found myself leaning towards the Cubbies. And then I remembered that a former IU great now plays for Chicago. It’s always a good thing to root for a former Hoosier.

Well, actually, he’s still a Hoosier. Because once a Hoosier, always a Hoosier. That’s how it should be, anyway. Right?

But I knew. Deep down I knew. I had found myself all in for Chicago, hoping the Cubs could exorcise the demons that had been around for many generations.

It Happened! Get your 2016 Chicago Cubs World Series Champs Fan Gear and Collectibles at Fanatics!

While I feel awful for my friends who are Indians fans, I’m overjoyed for my friends who have cheered for their Cubs during some pretty difficult seasons. Am I still a fan of the Cubs? Nah. I’m still a die-hard Cardinals fan. It’s not like I’m really going to buy a flag with a big W on it and fly it in my front yard. Of course, you can do that if you want to. Such a product does exist.

Congratulations to the Cubs an their fans. It’s been a long time coming. Soak up every minute of this offseason. The Cubs are tied for first place and they’re World Series champions. So buy that October Legends shirt. Find some memorabilia to give as Christmas gifts. Your team is no longer the Loveable Losers. Now they’re the Loveable Winners. Have fun with this!

It Happened! Get your 2016 Chicago Cubs World Series Champs Fan Gear and Collectibles at Fanatics!

My brother thinks this makes me a traitor. What do you think?

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How about a Game 7 road trip?

Please note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy.

Well, it’s actually happening. Of course it’s happening. What do you expect from two teams who haven’t played for baseball’s ultimate championship in…oh…forever…? Neither team is going to go down without a fight. So Game 7 is upon us. This one’s for all the marbles.

1908 Chicago Cubs

I’ll be honest. I’m glad I don’t have a dog in this fight. I don’t think my heart could take it after so many years of saying “Wait ’til next year,” and now next year is THIS year. But I know a lot of my friends, family, and readers of this here blog are big fans of the Cubs. Or the Indians. So I’m happy for all of you. And tomorrow, I’ll be sad for some of you. Unless MLB miraculously decides to make this series go even longer. I know. That won’t happen. It can’t happen. This is the end, my friend.

So maybe you live in or near Chicago and you’re thinking, “This is Game 7. It’s going to be magical. I really want to go to this game. No, I must go to this game.” I don’t blame you. There’s nothing in sports like a Game 7. It’s on my non-bucket list to attend one some day (#78). And maybe you’ve decided that this is the year for you to scratch “Attend Game 7 of the World Series” off your bucket list.

Well, you’re in luck.

Google Maps says it’s only a 5 ½ hour drive from Wrigley Field to Progressive Field.

You really don’t have to worry much about tickets, either. Thanks to Venue Kings, World Series Game 7 tickets are still available right now! And if you use the code VKTURKEY16, you’ll get $5 off any $30 purchase (or more). And these tickets are definitely going to cost more than thirty bucks. But it’s going to be totally worth it.

Can you imagine? Even if you’re ‘just’ watching from home, you’ll have the chance to watch your team exorcise some pretty old demons. I’m pretty excited for all of you. Watching your team win the World Series is fun. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a Cubs or Indians fan right now. My heart can barely take the excitement and I’ve got no dog in this fight at all. It has to feel pretty amazing right now, even if you’re from Cleveland and your team has let their 3-1 lead slip away. Enjoy this moment. As you know, they’re rare.

So who’s up for a road trip?

And if you’re worried about the drive back, you can always stay at a bed and breakfast in northeastern Ohio.

Come on. You know you want to. You’ll kick yourself the rest of your life if you don’t. I’m still kicking myself for some things I didn’t do. Don’t make the same mistake.

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‘When War Comes Home’ at the Heartland Film Festival

When War Comes Home

Veteran Crisis Line

I recently had the opportunity to preview When War Comes Home, an entry in this year’s Heartland Film Festival. It was eye-opening. And heartbreaking. But it also has a hopeful message. Although we probably haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the implications of war-related PTS (post-traumatic stress) and TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) we’re making strides. In the meantime, documentaries like this are important. They show how far we’ve come. And how far we’ve yet to go. But we have to be there for the men and women who have stood in the middle of hell and somehow tried to return to a normal life.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release about the film:

In Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Michael King’s powerful new documentary WHEN WAR COMES HOME, three soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) share their stories of coping with these devastating invisible wounds of war. Now back home from Iraq and Afghanistan, they face the toughest battle of their lives – trying to find a way to readjust to life with their families and build a healthy and hopeful future out of a present that is wracked by pain, stress and loss. From Indiana, to Florida, to Colorado, the film follows the men and their families as they wage their personal fight for freedom from these ever present debilitating illnesses that affect an estimated 20% of the 2.6 million military service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many assume that  veterans who participated in active combat are the only ones who suffer from PTS. When War Comes Home shatters that myth. If you have a chance to see it, I hope you do. It helps shed the light on the horror that some of our bravest men and women encounter every single day.

When War Comes Home is still showing at the Heartland Film Festival. You can purchase tickets here. It will also be showing in other locations around the nation. You can find their updated film schedule here.

It’s worth your time to watch this documentary.

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Deals of the Week (October 23-29)

Deals of the Week

Before sharing the deals I’ve found for this week, I want to take a second and congratulate Chicago and Cleveland for their huge baseball playoff wins this week. Fanatics has a huge selection of items to celebrate this momentous baseball week. Please note: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy.

Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Champs

Cleveland Indians 2016 AL Champs

Now, on to the deals for this week…

Costume Finder: What will you be this Halloween?
If you haven’t decided what to be for Halloween yet this year, you might want to check out this Costume Selector. Free shipping on orders of $50 or more!

eCreamery - Personalized ice cream for every gift occasionFREE PINT of Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream with any 4 or 8 pint purchase. Use coupon code: Pumpkin.


50% Off Select Bibles!

Treat Yourself to Savings. Save Up to 50% + Free Shipping Sitewide. Hurry, Sale Ends Soon!

Early Bird Special Banner

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Some highlights from Aiden’s football season

Aiden Todd - Number 5

Aiden’s football season is over. He’s still practicing, helping the practice squad as the Center Grove Varsity Football team begins its quest to win another State title. And that’s important. But the Junior Varsity team’s season is over. So, for all practical purposes, Aiden’s season is done, too.

It’s really no secret that being a Sophomore on a team that has its share of upperclassmen makes it a challenge. So Aiden really hasn’t gotten as much playing time as he’s been used to having. That’s OK, though. Because he took advantage of the opportunities he had. Some people choose to sulk and complain about not getting very much playing time. And then they use that as an excuse for poor performance on the field (I’ve even heard some professional players do this). I’m happy to say that Aiden didn’t rely on excuses like that (even though it was probably tempting at times). He gave it his all, every time he was on the field.

In the final two games of the season, he was on the field a total of six plays. Like I said, this wasn’t really unexpected. But even though he wasn’t on the field very long, he had a huge impact on the games. Because within the span of just six plays, Aiden recovered a fumble and successfully defended a potential touchdown pass.

Earlier in the Summer, I asked my facebook friends to help come up with a nickname for Aiden since he was going to be wearing #5 this season. As you can see, we came up with a pretty good list.

I was partial to Red Five or Johnny Five, but those didn’t really gain much traction. When I presented the list to him, Aiden’s favorite was Five Finger Discount. Fitting, since he plays defense. Right? The problem was that it was such a long nickname that we never really used it.

We probably should have. Because he had a knack for robbing his opponents of the ball. Here’s some photographic evidence to support my claim.

Fumble Recovery

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As this play unfolded, we saw commotion around the ball carrier. As you can see, #5 (aka Johnny Five aka Red Five aka Five Finger Discount) is about to jump into the heat of things. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get a picture of what happened next. After the dust settled and the refs started peeling players off the dogpile, Aiden popped up and held the ball in the air.

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure if it was really Aiden or not. I mean, it looked like him and I was pretty sure it was #5 with the ball, but I didn’t see the ref say he had recovered the fumble. It was only after his name was announced over the PA system that he was, in fact, the one who came up with the ball, that everything caught up with me. It was a pretty cool moment to watch.

You could see that Aiden was excited about the fumble recovery as he bounced off the field. And that excitement didn’t fade throughout the rest of the game. Take another look at that photo at the very top of this post. I took it some 10-15 minutes after this game was over. He was still beaming. You can see it in the smirk on his face. I think he was trying to hide his excitement for the picture. Because, you know, serious football players aren’t supposed to smile (or something like that). But he really couldn’t.

From Five Finger Discount to “No Fly Zone.”

Before the final JV game of the season, Aiden said that he didn’t think he was going to have the chance to play. In the Varsity that took place the night before the JV game, Center Grove fought tooth and nail against Cathedral and wound up winning in overtime. It was a high scoring affair, but it was close throughout the game. That meant little room for any JV players to play on Friday night, which meant they would get more playing time during Saturday’s JV game. And that meant less opportunity for Aiden to play.

He did get to play, though. And again, he made the most of the opportunity. He probably saved a touchdown in the process. The opposing quarterback threw a deep, deep ball to his receiver, but #5 was there to break up the play.

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The crowd cheered. The team shouted. Some of his teammates called him “No Fly Zone.” Pretty cool stuff.

But here’s the thing: Aiden wasn’t happy about it. “I should have caught it,” he told me later. And he might be right. Although it looks like there could have been offensive pass interference on the play, he did have his hands on the ball. There’s a chance he could have caught it. But breaking up the pass the way he did? That was huge.

And he wasn’t satisfied with it.

You know, they say that football and other sports can make you a better student. After talking with Aiden about this play, I can see how that’s possible. He wasn’t happy with just a “good” play. He was kicking himself for missing the “great” play. It was only a matter of inches. That’s the difference between doing what’s “good enough” and what’s “excellent.” It can be the difference between getting an B+ and an A. And, of course, that can mean the difference between receiving a partial scholarship in college and earning a full-ride. So you shake off the past and keep working towards getting better.

Because sometimes it’s a matter of inches. That’s true in football. But it’s also true in life.

Hard work and dedication pay off. They don’t always result in accolades or recognition. Sometimes they don’t even result in a win. But you keep working. You keep trying. You keep pressing on and keep getting better. Sure, there will be difficulties. There will be obstacles. And there will probably be a failure or two (or more). But we keep going. That’s what makes a heart of a champion.

Regardless of what the scoreboard says.

What are you doing to become a champion today?

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