Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wild Card

In all my years of involvement with professional baseball I've never experienced the drama of a wild card race like I did last night.  
Boston and Tampa Bay tied going into their final games. Rays down 7-0 to the Yankees and pull out an 8-7 win. Boston ahead 3-2 in the 8th and Baltmore squeaks out a 4-3 win. Tampa moves on. Boston is out. 
Same in the NL. The Braves fall apart and the Cardinals advance. Wow! What a finish! 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gary Carter

Gary Carter , Hall of Famer
Nothing seems to wrench one from self-absorption and pity parties like the realization that there are others whose battles are raging more fiercely than your own.  This is especially true for me when I read the journal Gary Carter's daughter, Kimmy, as she relates her dad's fight with cancer.

Gary was my 1st friend in Major League Baseball back in 1975 and he played such an important part in the early days of my ministry to pro ballplayers.

Please take the time to read Kimmy's account.  God has gifted her in marvelous ways and her account of her dad's battle is both gut-wrenching and God-honoring at the same time. - David

Kimmy writes:

I have learned how to appreciate people, time and everyday life more these past four months than ever before. It’s the simple things that make me smile like when I make a phone call to a friend or family member and I hear a simple,  "Hello" on the other side. It brings me true joy to have a conversation and catch up. I encourage all of you to say "I love you" more, give more hugs and jump on every opportunity to spend time with the ones you love. There may not be a tomorrow.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." 
Jeremiah 29:11-13

On Friday, I had another opportunity to share dad's story at PBA's chapel. This time it was for FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). I actually don't feel comfortable speaking in front of people but I had a peace knowing the words that came out of my mouth were straight from the Lord. Daily, I ask Him to use me for His glory even if it is out of my comfort zone. 

This day was a tough day for dad. He was sad and very down. To lift his spirits, mom ordered pizzas for the family to enjoy and bring us together. I think it helped but dad was still not having an upbeat day. He was exhausted and the day just dragged on. 

"Behold, GOD is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid: for the LORD 
JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation."
Isaiah 12:2

Saturday was another difficult day; however, through the sadness, dad still got out of bed and swam laps in the pool. That evening, my mom and dad (with my daughter) ate dinner with my sister, Matt and the boys. My sister had prepared a nice meal and invited them over for an enjoyable evening. Dad lasted just over a hour before he needed to go home.  While my family was enjoying a nice meal, my husband and I (with friends Ronnie and Marissa) drove to Port St. Lucie for the Mets game. In between the doubleheader, dad's good friend Jack Brenner presented a nice check to the Gary Carter Foundation. The money was raised through Jack’s encouragement and we thank him for such a nice gift. It was a special, emotional evening to honor dad.

Sunday we went to a nice church service and came home to grab a quick bite to eat at my parents’ house. Before dad rested, we (dad, my husband and I) went to PBA for about 2.5 hours to clean out dad's office. Aside from being a little worn out, dad was sharp and doing well as we helped him organize his things. He felt there was some accomplishment, which made him feel good. On the way home, dad and I played our “song game”…be the first to name the artist who is singing the current song on the radio. We have played this since we were little. Before we arrived to my parents' house, the song "Can you feel the love tonight?" by Elton John began to play. Of course we both knew the famous artist and I began to sing the lyrics. It was awesome that dad remembered every word and sang with me in the car. Again, it is the little things I treasure each day.

On Monday, dad slept pretty much all day as the exhaustion was really taking over his body. He got out of bed a few times but for the most part, slept a good portion of the day. I was proud of him though that he was able to swim 14 laps in the pool. What a fighter! That evening we were all looking forward to a nice evening at a Mexican restaurant called La Bamba. We had received gift certificates from our precious friends the Hobgoods and we decided to make it a fun night out! Unfortunately, my sister's oldest, C.J. got very sick so they stayed in for the night. Mom, dad, Kyle and I still went to dinner and enjoyed a nice night. Unfortunately, C.J. was the first of many more family members that got sick for the next few days. Thankfully my dad and husband did not get the “plague”. We were hit hard and are glad that is all over.

On Tuesday, mom and dad went to Wellington to meet with the doctor. They were told that dad looked good and that he was able to still have his Avastin treatment in a couple days. You see, Avastin is wonderful to destroy these tumors; however, the downside is that Avastin can create blood clots. Dad will continue to give himself a shot everyday in his stomach to dissolve the blood clots. So, dad has to fight extra hard so we need extra prayers! His breathing is much better. He doesn’t need to sleep with oxygen anymore but it is still in the house just in case. Dad will have his next appointment with the doctor in two weeks. 

After the doctor’s appointment, my parents went to a movie and spent some time together. It is always good to get dad out of the house and have something fun to do. Before he went to sleep, dad enjoyed that crazy show Wipeout and he roared with laughter, something we haven’t heard in a long time. Again, it's the little things.

On Wednesday, dad met his good friends Dave Van Horne and Tommy Hutton for lunch. Dad was very aware and had a great day overall.

On Thursday, dad swam laps in the pool before Mead Chasky and Ronnie Strawberry came by the house for a few hours. When they left, dad rested before going with my husband to PBA at 5pm to watch his baseball guys test for strength and conditioning. Kyle told us that dad watched a few exercises and then made his way from the balcony down to the gym floor (it was moved inside due to the south Florida afternoon rain). Between exercises, the players all walked over to dad and each guy gave him a hug or shook his hand. They surrounded him and he said a few words to greet them and shared how he has been feeling. It was a special moment for dad being welcomed so warmly by his guys! 

Throughout the workout, he was interacting with the guys and joking with some of them (mostly inside jokes from last season). It was a blessing for Kyle to see him "in his element" around the baseball team. At the end of the workout, Coach (Kent) Bottenfield asked dad to come over and say a few words. As he spoke, it was, for a moment, as though dad was 100%! His fatigue had been lifted (although temporarily), and he was firing up the guys and sharing his expectations for the spring season. Kyle took a picture of this moment and texted it to me, mom, Christy and DJ to share the good news! I am hoping that being around his guys more often will really help dad gain more energy.

Yesterday, mom and dad had a conversation with the doctor and it was a good report. His white blood count was good as well as his vitals (bp, heart, temp, breathing, etc.) and he was able to get his Avastin treatment today. Praise the Lord!

Mom has been dad's greatest encourager. They have been married for over 36 years and are a great team. Mom has done many things to make things better for dad...driving him around, cooking him nutritious meals, going to every doctor's appointment and daily encouraging him to stay positive. I love that mom and dad are fighting together and pray together each night for comfort and strength through this battle.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." 
Philippians 4:13

Prayers for the upcoming week:

Blood clots to go away in the lungs and leg
A strong week of activity, energy and motivation before he starts his
5 day chemo treatment the following week
Exhaustion...pray he gets rest but then FEELS rested. He has the time to rest but is frustrated when his body shuts down and has little energy.
Continued functioning of his body...besides exhaustion and bruising/cuts on his legs and arms, everything else is working as it should.
...October 11th will be a good result for dad's next MRI in DUKE

My sister's family and sweet C.J. It is not an easy road for them as they are battling autism. Their journey is difficult and they have many many bumps each day.

Looking Back

More from Greg concerning Todd Beamer and 9/11:

Courage Has a Face

Ten years ago
four planes went down.
Two towers fell
at Zero Ground.
And one young man
who cried "Let's roll!"
gave bravery a face.

Todd Beamer
(on Flight 93)
faith and liberty
as he lived-out
what he'd been taught
and died without regrets.

At home
and at Jon Blanchard's school,
Todd learned
that no one is a fool
who gives away
what he can't keep
to gain what he can't lose.

At Wheaton
Beamer Center stands
reminding us
to serve God's plans
across the street
or 'round the world
or on a hijacked plane.

So on this anniversary
as we recall that dreadful day,
let's thank the Lord
for those who died
that we might freely live.

** Todd Beamer's godly mother spoke truth into the young patriot's life before it was prematurely concluded

September 11

The following reflections on September 11th, 2001 were written by my friend Greg Asimakoupoulos:

You can read more of Greg's prose and poetry at The Partial Observer.

Where were you on Sept. 11, 2001? That’s a question the vast majority of Americans can easily answer.

On that unforgettable Tuesday morning I was driving from Naperville to Carol Stream listening to WFMT. Carl Grapentine, the announcer, interrupted the music and read a news bulletin.
First reports indicated a small single-engine plane had crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. Subsequent reports brought the fuzzy news story into fearful focus. We were a nation under attack.

The magnitude of the tragedy soon became unimaginable. Thousands of lives had been lost. Tens of thousands had been personally impacted. The skyline of New York City had been altered beyond recognition.

What was worse, our enemy was unknown. Subsequent attacks were possible. As a result, airports across the country closed down for the better part of a week. Churches opened their doors for spontaneous prayer services. There was a renewed sense of patriotism and dependence on God independent of party lines or religious affiliation.

Although the sudden fervor of faith faded as our nation regained its emotional balance, a haunting fear has dogged us for the past decade. National security remains on most everyone’s mind. The increase in terrorist activity overseas, as well as the senseless mass-shootings in our country, has left us feeling vulnerable.

The 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 provides us with an opportunity to remember how quick we were willing to turn to God a decade ago. This sad milestone causes us to recall the fragility of life and fleeting nature of peace. It is an invitation to reflect and listen to what our Creator is attempting to say to us in the midst of daily headlines that rob our sense of confidence.

We all reflect and listen differently. Some meditate in silence. Some brush paint on an empty canvas. Others journal their innermost thoughts. Still others go on a contemplative walk in nature.

My preference is to write poetry. As the anniversary of Sept. 11 approached, I put pen to paper as I was reminded that God holds us securely even when the slippery fingers of our faith find hanging on to hope difficult.

Since Sept. 11 is a Sunday, local clergy can use the following poem as a congregational hymn. (Suggested tunes: “Ode to Joy” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”)

God remains our source of courage when we’re traumatized by terror.
When we’re haunted by the headlines and the violence everywhere.
Hear God whisper in the silence, “Don’t despair, I’m in control.
Hurting hearts and broken cities will at last one day be whole.”

God recalls that tragic Tuesday when twin towers disappeared,
when 3,000 people perished and our hearts were numbed by fear.
Yet God whispers 10 years later, “Justice will in time be done.
I will stand with those who need me ’till my Kingdom fully comes.”

God invites us to be trusting when we find that faith is hard.
When we’re fearful for our safety and our nerves are frayed or jarred.
Still God whispers in the silence, “Even when your faith is weak,
I will keep your feet from stumbling when your way is dark and bleak.”

An ancient Hebrew poet composed a hymn for an insecure nation that offers a similar theme. You don’t know the tune, but it’s likely you know the words:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” — Psalm 46:1-2  NIV

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Ravens Fed

Here's a re-post of a poem I wrote back in 2008. God still provides!

The wicked king Ahab
Makes others' sins pale
He's forsaken My ways
And now worships Baal.

Get over to Kerith
And there by the creek
I'll send you your groceries
Each day, not each week.

Don't question the method
I use to send bread
These scavenger ravens
Will do what I've said.

The drought you have forecast
Will dry up the land
There'll be no more water
Except by My hand.

Just wait here and trust Me
Be patient and true
In the fullness of time
You'll know what to do.

A Zarephath widow
And her only son
Will offer you lodging
But wait, I'm not done.

In the midst of the drought
There'll be flour and oil
Enough for each day
And it never will spoil.

And there you will see
My great power and might
So trust me today
Don't give up the fight.

Now just like Elijah
The prophet of old
My people can trust me
With faith strong and bold.

I'm Jehovah-Jireh
Your needs I'll provide
I'm sovereign and faithful
I'll walk by your side.

So lay aside doubting
Your burdens I'll bear
The Lord God Almighty
Has you in His care.

© David W. Fisher
February 7th, 2008

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Third Prize

Here's the article that appeared in today's (September 3rd) Peterborough Examiner.

Thanks to Mike Davies for promoting this contest:

Komets finish third in Filmpossible contest

By MIKE DAVIES / Examiner Sports Director

The Kawartha Komets special needs hockey team finished third in the Filmpossible Contest sponsored by the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.

While final vote tallies were not made public, Komets co-founder Carol Fisher said she was told by organizers the Komets video, Bringing Visibility to Disability, was 50 votes shy of first place.

For their efforts the Komets win an Apple ipad 2. The grand prize was $5,000 and second prize $1,000. Winners were selected through online voting.

"Even thought we didn't win thousands upon thousands of people looked at these videos," said Fisher. "For every vote Holland Bloorview got $1 up to $10,000. They reached their $10,000 goal which is amazing.

We also got to promote Special Hockey International."

The Komets video depicted efforts made by team members to get a young girl from Pittsburgh, who requires an adapted walker to skate, her first goal. She scored against the Komets during the Special Hockey International Tournament in Boston in April.

"We want to thank everyone who faithfully voted for our entry," said Carol's husband and co-founder David Fisher. "Thanks to all of you who asked your friends and contacts to vote for us. We appreciate your support so much. Thank you to Carlo Raponi for putting the footage together so skilfully and to our coaches Dale Lowe and Sean Quinlan for their excellent commentary. Sean, if you hadn't caught the moment on your video camera we couldn't have shared this moving experience with thousands of viewers."

Full contest details and the video can be viewed at

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Sad Stigma

Wade Belak - R.I.P.
Culture of winning creates stigma of mental illness in pro sport 
From the Globe and Mail, Published Thursday, Sep. 01, 2011 

The stigma that still surrounds mental illness may prevent professional athletes from seeking the help they need.

“This is, I think, a huge issue. There is a culture around professional sports, a culture of strength, a culture of winning. You can’t be a professional athlete without those pieces in your psyche,” said Stanley Kutcher, an expert on mental health at Dalhousie University in Halifax. “So if someone has a mental illness, it must be very, very difficult to deal with that. Because the expectations are that you are always strong.’’

Former National Hockey League player Wade Belak, 35, was found dead in his hotel room on Wednesday. He took his own life. Dr. Kutcher said he doesn’t know anything about the circumstances, but he suspects it may be hard for professional athletes to seek help if they feel depressed or suicidal.
Mr. Belak retired from playing earlier this year.

Retirement can be especially difficult for professional athletes, said Antonia Baum, a doctor at George Washington University Medical Center who, in 2005, published a research paper on athletes and suicide.

The transition can be more “abrupt and dramatic than for one who does not rely on his body for his livelihood or identify,” she wrote in the journal Clinics in Sports Medicine.

Since 1980, at least seven former National Football League players have committed suicide after retirement, she reported.

“Mike Wise, a pro lineman for the Los Angeles Raiders and the Cleveland Browns, killed himself just three weeks following his waiver by Cleveland. A few days earlier, he had told his fiancĂ©e ‘… that he equated having his name on the waiver wire with having it in an obituary.’ ”

She also cited a study that found that many retired NHL players – 67 per cent – have injuries and 20 per cent have marital or emotional problems.