Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Looking Ahead - Are you a Loose Ball?

by Holly Michael
Fourth of July has passed and summer is winding down. Stores are already advertising back to school sales. The tune, "Do your ears hang low." will soon cease to be stuck in our heads and the ice cream man will do whatever he does in off-season.
from Morguefile
When my kids were young, this time of year meant anticipation of a new school year and the excitement of an upcoming football season.
Now, my children are grown.
Nick (left) is gearing up for a new football season for the Ragin' Cajuns in Lafayette, Louisiana. Betsy attends the same college--winding up a summer internship and looking ahead to the fall session of teaching and finishing her graduate degree. Jake got married to a delightful girl, Emma, and completed his career in the NFL.
He's working for a marketing company in Dallas and starting a foundation to help kids with type one diabetes stay healthy and active - Type Won. Jake is a type 1 diabetic and also an author of a football-themed devotional book, now released from Harvest House Publishers: First and Goal -- What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up.

I'm so proud to share an excerpt from Jake's FIRST AND GOAL, a devotional about a new school year that started out a little bit rough for him and his little sister, Betsy.

Loose Ball - A ball that is lying or rolling on the field after a fumble, not in possession of either team.

We had just moved from Pennsylvania to Michigan a couple days before school started--me in the third grade, my sister in second. On the first day of school, my mom dropped us off and gave us instructions to ride the bus home. She'd repeated the bus number over and over to me that morning so I wouldn't forget it, and she even stuck a note in my pocket and taped one inside my backpack along with our new address.

We got on the right bus after school. One by one, kids got off. Down to just Betsy and me, the driver stopped in the middle of nowhere and opened the door. "This is your stop."

"But it doesn't look familiar," I said. "I don't think this is it. I don't see my house anywhere."

He flipped down the visor. "This is your stop. See you tomorrow."

I grabbed my sister's hand and we stepped off the bus and stood at the edge of a wheat field. The road sign at the corner read "Eighteen Mile Road."

"We're lost!" Tears welled up in Betsy's eyes.

"This is Eighteen Mile Road. We live on Eighteen Mile Road. Worst case scenario, we have to walk eighteen miles to find our house."


That didn't help. "Our house is just up there. I'm sure of it."

She sniffed. "Really?"

"Yep. Let's go." I had no idea where our house was, but I was glad she stopped crying.

We walked for a little while on that empty road with not a car or house in sight, just trees and fields. I was scared, but I kept telling my sister the house was just ahead. Truth was, we were two lost kids, loose on the field and not in possession of anyone. I feared we might never be found.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son." But the father said to his servants, "Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." So they began to celebrate (Luke 15:20-24).

"Jake! Betsy!" Far down the road, my mom appeared like a mirage. She and my little brother ran toward us. When she reached us, my mom knelt and gathered both of us into her arms.

Later, my mom called the school and ripped the principal a new one, explaining that anything could have happened to us on that lonely road. She'd been waiting at the end of the driveway, watching for us, and she had no idea why the bus hadn't brought us home.

Having been lost, we really celebrated our reuniting. The prodigal son in Luke must have felt like us in that moment, lost, away from his family, and not belonging anywhere until his father reclaimed him as his own.

We are like that with God when away from Him and lost--lost in our sin and rebellion like a loose ball rolling on the field, poised to be claimed by either side. God is like the offensive player on the field, scrambling to take possession of us, like our mom finally did that day.

Along the way in life, it's easy to get lost. Coming home is sometimes more about God finding us. Whatever situation you get yourself in, however far you get from God, trust that He's out there looking for you. Keep moving on with your eyes focused ahead.

First and Goal – What Football Taught Me About Never GivingUp

Jake Byrne grew up in Rogers, Arkansas. A type 1 diabetic since the age of fourteen, he has since been proactive combating the disease and mentoring diabetic youth. He played football for the University of Wisconsin as a tight end, and went on to compete in the NFL. Originally an undrafted free agent who signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2012, he has also been a Houston Texan, Kansas City Chief, and San Diego Charger.
Jake Byrne blogs at www.typewon.net
He can be reached through the following social media:
Facebook Page (Type Won): www.facebook.com/typewon1
Twitter: @sugarfreejb82
Instagram: Jakebyrne81

First and Goal, published through Harvest House Publishers, can be purchased at most all bookseller retailers and online booksellers. Link for Book at Amazon: http://amzn.to/1FAYKo8

Holly Michael has enjoyed a writing career as a journalist, features writer, and a regular ghostwriter for a Guideposts magazine before authoring novels and nonfiction books. Married to Anglican Bishop, Leo Michael, Holly has three grown children. She lives in Kansas City and blogs at www.writingstraight.com

Contact her at www.HollyMichael.com or on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/AuthorHollyMichael  or Twitter: @HollyMichael

Holly joined her son, Jake Byrne, as ghostwriter in First and Goal, a football-themed devotional published by Harvest House.


  1. It's so admirable all that Jake has done to get to the NFL with diabetes! Goes to show his drive and this devotional, his love for God. This book is going to be such a blessing to so many! Hugs, Holly!

  2. Beautiful family, Holly! And congrats to you and Jake on the book release! God is good!

  3. God is good, indeed. Tanya! Thanks!