Setting A Place At The Table

Thanksgiving 2020

***

This Thanksgiving will be different from ones in the past.  This Thanksgiving might be the first one that includes the complete absence of friends, family… loved ones.

There will be smaller gatherings and many empty seats.  

There will be empty homes.  And empty hearts.

The turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and the rest may taste less rich and be less fulfilling because they cannot replace the void that will be continually present on this day.

There will be an absence of voices and of laughter.  

It will be a Thanksgiving with seemingly little to give thanks for – a Thanksgiving of emptiness.  

But, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Not entirely.  

No matter how you celebrate, and with whom, no matter how empty your table, or full, there is still room for one more – one who, if you welcome him, will, in his own way, ease the emptiness, the longing, and the sadness.

This Thanksgiving, open a spot at your table, and in your heart, for Christ Jesus.  

Use this Thanksgiving, one where there will be more time, to make time for Him.

Find the space this Thanksgiving, one will there will be more space, to make room for Him.

Open your hearts, open your spirit, open your lives, completely, to the goodness that Christ brings.  Open it all to the love, to the fulfilling richness and to the fullness of a life with him.  

The joy.  The peace.  The love that Christ shares will then be with you.  

But unlike those that come and go with the holidays, once you open your table and heart to Christ, he will stay.  And you will be richer for it.  

There is always room at our table for Christ.  He always wishes to be part of our lives, but we often forget to invite Him, especially at those times when we seem so full with the companionship of others.

This year will be different.  

Set a place at your table for Christ.

You will be glad you did.

Teachers Affect Eternity…

I have told this story before, but it is one I love to tell.  It needs telling, as well. 

Especially in these times.

One of the most wonderful ministers of all-time, a pastor who preached from the heart, made church interesting, and even made God accessible, had moved on from our church.

There was an emptiness.  I felt it deeply.  The minister who had left was a man I admired greatly.  I was thrilled that he had been the man who married my wife and I.  We all missed him greatly…

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The Road Back To 26.2 Began Today…

Twelve weeks ago I arrived at the surgery center, walking in, knowing that I wouldn’t be walking out, and, in fact, that I wouldn’t be walking at all for quite some time.  

When I checked into the surgery center, I told the receptionist that I was there to begin my training for the 2020 New York City Marathon.  She smiled and said, “You must be Mr. Semendinger.”

Indeed I am.  

I hobbled out of the surgery center on crutches my foot wrapped and in a heavy boot.  The surgery was a success.  

Continue reading “The Road Back To 26.2 Began Today…”

The End of My 2019 Marathon Dream

…and with that long run, my 2019 marathon dream is over.

Today was supposed to be my last long run, a final effort, to prove to myself that I could actually do the marathon.  The truth, the reality I must face, is that I can’t.  Not this year.

I gave it everything I had.

And then some.

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12 Miles Closer…

Today I bit off way more than I could chew.

I was fortunate, all three of my sons were home to celebrate a birthday, and two of them, Ryan and Ethan, are training for some upcoming long races.  Because of that, they were both willing to slog along on a twelve mile “run” with me.

Our goal was to complete the entire Saddle River Bike Path, from Ridgewood to Rochelle Park, and then back again…a twelve mile jaunt.

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One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 14): Making It Back To The Mound

It had been over a month since I last pitched.

On June 23, I enjoyed pitching against Jersey City. Then, on June 25, I had my first visit with an orthopedist who did as I feared he would… he shut me down.

On June 25, my baseball season ended. On June 25, my softball seasons ended. And, on June 25, my hopes for running the 2019 New York City Marathon also ended.

The orthopedist looked at my swollen right ankle, the MRI that showed tears in the Achilles tendon, and his own X-Rays. He said, “This isn’t good, Paul.” The word “surgery” came up, but he also said, “I’m not ready to go there yet.” I think the thing that made him shut me down totally was when I could perform a simple exercise in his office – standing on just my right foot and going to “tippy toes.” When I couldn’t do that, it cinched the deal.

I was given a night brace, an anti-inflammatory prescription, and little hope.

I left the office with the brace, a discouraged countenance, and a follow-up appointment.

But all of that is old news.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 14): Making It Back To The Mound”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 13) – The Doctor, The Bench, and an All-Star

This is the story I didn’t want to write…

***

Two days after I pitched on June 23, I had my first appointment with the orthopedist.  This doctor is very well known and very respected.  He took X-Rays, put me through a battery of small tests, he examined my legs, took careful note of my right Achilles, and, after all of that, said that my baseball season, my softball season, and my running season are all over.

I knew this was coming.

We all knew this was coming.

I just didn’t want to hear it.

I still don’t.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 13) – The Doctor, The Bench, and an All-Star”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 12 – Game Four, The Story of a Catcher)

Well, I am the happiest 0-4 pitcher on the planet.

***

I pitched well enough, I guess. I gave up more than a few hard hit balls for loud hits, some of them long drives for extra bases. I also gave up some weak ground balls for hits. And a few bloopers also fell in.

On the other hand, some popups were dropped or missed altogether by the fielders behind me, a few grounders went under the infielders’ gloves, and a few would-be ground outs resulted in poor throws that instead netted no outs.

(And, to be fair, a couple of the loudly hit balls were caught by the fielders behind me. If nothing else, my pitching kept the team on its feet.)

In short, for much of the game, there were a lot of runners on the bases as I pitched.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 12 – Game Four, The Story of a Catcher)”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 11 – Game Three)

The week leading to my third start was rainy and filled with more evening responsibilities that interrupted my throwing program, but, like in previous weeks, I was able to have a very special catch with a very special person.

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One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story Part 10 – RAIN!

My third start of the season was scheduled for Sunday, May 5.  We were going to be back to Wright’s Field in Bloomfield to play a different team from the area. It seems that a few towns, Bloomfield being one of them, have more than one team in the league. I was looking forward to this opportunity to see if I could build off my modest success the week before.

This would also be my first chance to pitch in back-to-back weeks – a true test of whether or not my arm, and body was up to this challenge.

It wasn’t to be.

Rain, dreadful rain, washed away our chances to play.  

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story Part 10 – RAIN!”