Tag: Harold McGilton

Who Are You Meant to Be?

2014 is a weird time to be alive.

We’re more connected than ever, more aware of what others are doing with their lives than at any other point in history. The rise of social media and its integration into our daily lives make it so. There is no escape from it and there is no going back to way things used to be. There was a time when I could escape into my own little world and dream and pretend to be anyone I wanted to be.

Everywhere I turn in life I see confused people. People acting less and less like their true selves and more like other people whose lives they desperately crave. Facebook, its showcasing and highlighting of people’s lives, every minute detail, make it difficult not to compare and envy others. In truth, this is nothing new. 

In the attempt to give full disclosure, I spent the majority of my days of youth filled with visions of being Brooks Robinson, Johnny Unitas, Harold McGilton and Paul McCartney all rolled up into one person. Who are these people? Well they were people I dreamed of being at one point in my life. 

Once upon a time, I tried my best to be Brooks Robinson. Brooks Robinson was a Hall of Fame 3rd BasemanBrooks for the Baltimore Orioles. Knowscann as The Human Vacuum Cleaner, Brooks Robinson established a standard of excellence for modern-day third basemen. He played 23 seasons for the Orioles, setting Major League career records for games, putouts, assists, chances, double plays and fielding percentage. A clutch hitter, Robinson totaled 268 career home runs, at one time an American League record for third basemen. Robinson earned the league’s MVP Award in 1964 and the World Series MVP in 1970, when he hit .429 and made a collection of defensive gems.  I did not have to play very many games to realize that my dream to be the next Brooks Robinson wasn’t going to happen.

The same could be said for Johnny Unitas.  As a Sophomore in high school weighing ijohnnyun at just a Footballsmidgen  over 100 lbs, my career as a football player was short-lived. But that did not stop me from wanting to be just like him. “The Golden Arm” as he was known, amassed numerous records in his 17 years as the Quarter Back for the Baltimore Colts. Unitas’ career statistics include 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns passing. A genuine team player, Unitas was a first- or second-team All-NFL choice eight years, selected NFL Player of the Year three times, and named to 10 Pro Bowls. That definitely wasn’t going to happen in my life.

I have written the most about my dream to be just like Harold McGilton. Who was Harold?  He was a Sprint Car Racer from Fremont, Ohio. Throughout his racing career, Harold won many features and set numerous track records. He was a two-time Track Champion at Fremont Speedway. To this very day I still dream about what it would be like to be strapped into a Sprint car and driving it into a 100 MPH slide through the turns of our local dirt track. Again… this dream would not become a reality.

Seriously. I spent a good portion of my younger life searching for a role that would encompass a little bit of these people into what I would do with my life but I never found it. When you are just not talented enough it kinda hinders the possibility of it happening. I mentioned earlier that I wanted to be the next Paul McCartney, but hearing my recorded voice told me that just wasn’t in the cards either. So I did what all die-hard, race car drivin, rock star football playin third basemen wannabees do. I quit trying.

What I needed was a good dose of self-analysis. I needed to figure out why I was here and what I have to give to this world we live in.  I had to stop trying to be someone I wasn’t ever going to be.

Have you ever lived a portion of your life dreaming about being someone you could not become?  Have you dreamed about doing something that just wasn’t possible? I am sure we all have.

The question remains, how many of us have been able to do exactly what you were meant to do?  Have you honestly been able to live a portion of your life where you were able to act upon that which you are passionate about? Have you ever been able to “be” what you were meant to be?

As an example, this past Sunday morning I watched the worship team at Grace Community (Click on Link) absolutely crush the worship set. We are beyond blessed with some incredibly talented people who serve on our Worship team. Every week they usher those that visit Grace Community into a heart of worship. They do it for 3 straight services.  Each one as strong as the next.  They are living what they are made to do. You can’t miss it. It oozes out of them. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean.

Here is a video from this past Christmas as the Worship Team was practicing the opening to our Christmas Services.

Thank you to our worship team for living in your sweet spot and doing what you were made for. It inspires others on so many levels. It goes beyond music and lyrics. It’s a contagious passion. You were made for it and you are living it.

As the years passed in my life, I am happy to say that for many years of my life, I was able to be Purposeand to do exactly what I felt I was meant to do in this life.  I found my path and I did exactly what God wanted me to do.

My prayer is that you find your path and be who you were meant to be. 

We all want to make the world a better place. We all want to mean something to other people. What that looks like differs for all of us, and sometimes it changes from one day, one month, and one year to the next.

But it’s up to us all individually to wake up every day and decide that those intentions are what really matter. It’s not the money, approval, acclaim, or anything else that might distract us from what we believe to be true. What matters is who God wants us to be, and what we do about it today.

Who do you want to be–and what will you do about it today?

 

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Through the Eyes of a Child

On a hot July night in 2012, I witnessed the passing of a torch. 

There wasn’t a ceremony and no one from the local newspaper was there to take a picture to document the event, but make no mistake, what happened that night was something magical.

As I made my way through the crowd along the dimly lit back stretch of Fremont Speedway, trying to get to Brian Smith’s pit stall.  I could not help but notice that the people who passed by the “Grace Car” that night were not aware of the magic that was taking place right in front of their eyes.  

But I did.

As the adults and race fans were getting the opportunity to see the “Grace Car” up close, Brian Smith, then a 26 year veteran sprint car racer from Fremont was kneeling down talking to a young boy.  I could see the eyes of this young boy as Brian bent down and talked to him.                                                                     

The look in this young boy ‘s eyes initially was a look of awe.  I am sure the boy was amazed that he was actually talking to a real life race car driver and I immediately noticed the look of awe begin to sparkle in the eyes of this young boy as the transformation had begun.  The torch was passed on to another generation. 

No one noticed that Brian had just performed magic. He just transformed a young child into a lifelong race fan.  He just made a young fan believe in heroes. One that is not found in the comic book store or on the movie screen. 

Through the eyes of a child was a real life hero… living right here in Fremont, Ohio.

While some drivers lined up their race cars to get them on the trailer and get out of there.  Brian was still there… no hurry… sleep could wait… there was more important business to do.

Brian isn’t the only driver doing this. There are others. 

They all realize that the most important aspect of building a fan base sometimes takes place before and after the race itself.

Heroes emerge sometimes from the most unlikely of sources.  

It is no secret that I am a racing fan.  I have a special place in my heart for sprint car racing and it was instilled in me at a young age.  

I know this to be true… because my hero found me more than 40 years earlier at the same little dirt race track in Fremont, Ohio.

His name was Harold “Mac” MHaroldMcGiltoncGilton.

For those that don’t remember him, Harold may be just another name in the record books, just another plaque on the wall.  To those of us that remember him, he’s a legend, a hometown hero, a sprint car racer and a cherished memory.

I first met Harold McGilton in the early 1970’s. I think I was about 11 or 12 years old at the time. It was a chance meeting and though it was a long time ago…I remember it like yesterday.  I watched him drive his sprint car full speed into the corners of that wonderful dirt track in Fremont, Ohio and slide through the turn and then fly down the straight-a-way passing cars  and winning races.  In my mind, Harold never lost a race… there were just times he didn’t win.  However, when  Harold would win his race.. he  just didn’t win, he beat the other drivers. 

Har carAs a young boy, when I rode my bicycle, I imagined that I was Harold making the heroic and dangerous pass on that final turn to win the race.  And when I played with my “Matchbox” cars…I had a special car that was “Harold’s” car.  It NEVER lost a race. I am sure there were times when in my mind, I was more Harold McGilton than the real deal.  I am also sure that his family had a different perspective of Harold and his life as a hero.  After all he was human… just not in my eyes.

Harold McGilton
Harold McGilton

Harold McGilton had no way of knowing that when he stopped what he was doing after a race all those years ago and took the time shake my hand  on that July evening, at the Fremont Speedway, he would have had such an influence on a young boy from Oak Harbor, Ohio.

Harold never knew my name, nor did we ever talk to each other since that first night I met him.  However, Harold “Mac Attack” McGilton had a tremendous influence on me during those early years. He just never knew it.   He was larger than life to me and I idolized him and when he passed away a few years ago, I cried.

Tonight as I sit at my desk, I imagine I hear the roar of the engines of the sprint cars as they fly around the track just a few blocks from my home.  As I imagine each lap as the cars go around, I wonder if there is another young fan in the stands watching their favorite driver take their car into a 100 MPH slide through the corners of the Fremont Speedway.  Much like I was in the early ’70’s,  I came to the track one night a young fan of the races and little did I know that I would leave a few hours later with a hero in my life that I would carry with me for the rest of my life.

Brian Smith understands this… he too has heroes. He was influenced by many drivers over the years and shows honor and respect for those he looked up to all those years ago. In addition, his grandfather and father were racers that planted a seed in him that he passes on each week to each child he talks to.

I have said this many times, in my life, I have traveled around the world. I have met a number a professional athletes, politicians and famous people over the years. I have even had the honor of meeting two U.S. Presidents and shaking their hands.  All of these people would be considered heroes for many people, but not for me.  I did not have to travel all around the world to find a hero.   He found me at a little dirt track in Fremont, Ohio.

For those of you that say that there are no real heroes in life. 

I say you just don’t know where to look.

Come out and bring your children to Fremont Speedway on a Saturday night and I know where you just might find one.

Scars Earned Along the Path of Forgiveness

I have a scar on my leg.  I earned that scar.  I was awarded the permanent reminder when I was about ten years old.  I was riding my bike with reckless abandon on the rough and rocky alleyway behind my house in Oak Harbor, Ohio.   In my mind, I was my favorite driver, Harold McGilton.   Driving a race car at Fremont Speedway and I was on the last turn, of the last lap getting ready to pass Jim Linder to win the race.  I had been there before.  I had made that pass a hundred times a day in my mind on that rocky road. Then the unthinkable happened, I lost control and suddenly I was thrown from the bike, flying through the air.  I landed on the sharp, jagged pieces of stone and rocks that paved that gravel road.

Besides a few scrapes and bruises, I had one nasty cut on my leg.  Nothing that needed anything more than some tender loving care from my mother and a good band-aid.  However,  I carry a scar on my leg to this very day.  Every so often, I look at it and it reminds me of a different time, a time of innocence and wonder.  I also look at it to remind me that this was a result of thinking I was invincible and over-confident in my abilities.  It was the start of a lesson that I have learned over the years.  I have learned that almost all the scars I carry on my body were the result of my own doing.  So when I use the term “earned”, I do not use that word as a way of indicating that I am proud of them.  I use that word, in short, to say, I am to blame for the damage done to my body.   I deserved them.

The same can be said of the scars I carry in my heart and in my spiritual life.  Those scars are mostly self-inflicted.  I “earned” them as well.   The result of losing focus and being over-confident in my own abilities.  Yes, my scars, physical or spiritual are almost all the result of my own doing.   Permanent reminders of my failures.

The physical body is very resilient.   With some tender loving care from your mother, a good dose of Neosporin and good band-aid most cuts, bruises and scrapes will disappear.  Nothing permanent except for a bad memory.  Unfortunately, in some situations, physical scars will remain.  The cut was just too deep or too wide for the tender care of your mother and the extra dose of medicine to take care of it.  Those scars will remain.   For the most part, over time, those same scars will fade and at times they are hard to see.

The spiritual body is not so resilient.  The self-inflicted scars that we incur on our spiritual body cannot be fixed by a band-aid and a heavy dose of Neosporin.   All of the bumps, scrapes, bruises, and cuts we experience in our spiritual life can indeed be fixed by the tender loving care of our God and the heavy dose of forgiveness that He provides.   When we ask God to forgive us for our sin and our transgressions, He does just that.  He forgives and He heals.  He no longer sees the scars of our spiritual life.  They are covered with forgiveness and love.

However,  the scars that God no longer sees are still in clear view for those around us on this earth.  Most times the only time I am reminded of the scars of my spiritual life is when other Christian’s point them out to me.  Which has happened more times than I care to remember.  God is faithful to always truly forgive, man is not.  It has been my experience that most Christian’s never really forgive other believers for the failures in their life.  It has been said that Christian’s are the only one to shoot and kill their own when someone fails in their spiritual walk.

This week I was reading from Matthew 18:21-35.     I  have read this passage many times over the years.  I never really ever got past the “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me? How many times shall I forgive him? Seven times? and the Lord said, “I do not say to you seven times…but seventy times seven.”

But this week was different…I continued to read and really for the first time, I saw something I have never really paid attention to.   As I continued to read the parable that Jesus told about a servant who had an extraordinary debt to pay his master.  There was no way this servant was going to be able to repay that debt.   The master was forced to consider selling the servant, his wife, his kids, and all his stuff to help pay off what debt the servant owed.

This servant was pretty much in deep trouble, and he knew it.  He broke down, pleading with his master to have mercy and to have patience with him, and the master “took pity on the servant, canceled the debt, and let him go.”

But almost immediately, that servant went out, found his own servant who owed him money, and demanded that it be repaid. That servant, too, pleaded for mercy and asked for patience, except that the servant who had been forgiven DID NOT grant him forgiveness; instead, the servant threw his servant into prison until he could pay the debt.

Word got back to the master that the servant he “forgave” did not pass on the same forgiveness that was granted, and the master wasn’t happy.   He was so angry in fact, that he took back the forgiveness that he had given to that servant… “In anger, his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.” Then Jesus offers these heavy words: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

The message made me feel guilty.  That’s right…GUILTY.  That’s exactly what it should have done.

A long time ago, I was in the ministry.  I was an ordained minister, but I was not a pastor.  I believe that a man is “called” to be a pastor.  I never felt that “call” from the Lord to be a pastor.  But I was in the ministry as a Christian School Administrator and I loved the opportunity to teach from God’s Word when given the chance. I was in full-time service for over 12 years.  

I made a choice to resign from my ministry and change my path.  I simply walked away. To this day, I knew it was what I needed to do. People were not so accepting of it. Surely there had to be a scandal in there somewhere. For me, I just could not shake the feeling of failure when it came to my ministry. 

For those of you read this post that may remember that time in my life, I am sorry to disappoint you.  Regardless of what you may believe or may have heard, the stories and rumors are not true.  I admit I wasn’t perfect, but I did not leave the ministry because of affairs or inappropriate behavior, drug addiction or drinking were not my problems. God knows the truth and I will be accountable for my actions.  I guess because I did not give a speech about why I was resigning, led to the rumors. At the time, I chose not to defend myself, I became a bigger target. I regret that today.

I shut down and kept everyone and everything at a very safe distance.  There was a period of time, that besides going to work, I would not go out so that I would not (by chance) run into anyone I knew.  I simply withdrew and disappeared from the life I had known.  No one noticed.

Years passed.

They say time changes everything.   I guess in a way it does.  Slowly things got better.   I  started a new career in business management and have been working for a very successful company for over 20 years.

In 2009, two of my closest friends died and I  experienced some serious health issues.  It was time to settle some things in my head and in my heart.  I  knew I could not change the past.  I knew that there would always be permanent scars that would be a constant reminder of me resigning my ministry.  But it was time to get on with life and finally put the burden that I had been carrying for a long, long time down.   After a lot of prayers, I finally forgave myself and I have asked God to forgive me as well.  I now have comfort in knowing that He has forgiven me. But I can’t help but feel that there is something more to be said about the idea – the reality – of forgiveness.

I am learning that forgiveness doesn’t necessarily make things all better.When we are forgiven by God, it cancels our sin debt.  True.  But does it restore us to a full right relationship?   I don’t think so.   I understand that because I was a leader in the church, my failure was more profound.  My failure was public and when a leader falls there is more public scrutiny than if I had been an occasional or non-church goer.  The standard upon which you are held is higher because of the position in the church.  I get it…” to much is given, much is required”. I think that’s reflective of the way my Christian life is now: I am forgiven by God and forgiven fully.  I have that guarantee.  But I recognize that all is not well.

My life wasn’t made ‘all better’ when I  forgave myself or when I was forgiven by God.  People around me, brothers and sister’s in Christ are still dealing with me as a failed man.  Many of them to this very day have not forgiven me. I have men who are serving as pastors, deacons, and leaders in their respective churches that still will not talk to me to this very day.  I have tried to re-establish relationships with those who were my friends all those years ago and for the most part, it has been to no avail. There is tension. There is pain.  There are scars.   Forgiveness is not a band-aid you slap on an open wound.  And though forgiveness is something profound, it is not everything. Healing is a broader process in which forgiveness is a stage.

I mentioned earlier that the message from the parable made me feel guilty. Here is why.  I have to be honest and say that I struggle with my pride.  I still struggle with bitterness towards those that turned their back on me.  I want to convince myself that they are not worth it.  If they don’t offer forgiveness then maybe I should just let God deal with them when they have to face Him in eternity.  But in my heart, I know that I will not truly be free from this burden until I forgive them for the things I feel that they have done unfairly towards me.

My hope is that one day I can be restored and accepted so that I can begin to be used by God again.  If healing is the broader process in which forgiveness is a stage, then I am asking for forgiveness and giving forgiveness so that the healing may begin soon. I have something left to give. I long to teach a Sunday School class again.  But that is up to God’s timing.

Spiritual scars… I will always have them.  Some have faded with time, most still are as deep and evident as the day I earned them. But after a long journey on the path of forgiveness,  finally, I am at peace knowing that when God looks at me, He doesn’t see those scars anymore.

There are a Few Things I am Thankful for But Make 2009 Go Away

Maybe it’s just me,  but 2009 was a difficult year.  I am not sad to see it go away and be logged into the history books.   As I have reviewed this past year, I have noticed that so many of my posts have been directly related to the things that I was experiencing or thinking about at the time.  I have never written a post to get or gain attention.  I write to clear my head and it relaxes me. With that in mind, I have attached links to previous posts to the various experiences I have encountered this past year.  Please feel free to click on them and re-read some of my favorite posts of 2009.

It has been a year where I have had to deal with some serious health issues.   A few surgeries later, I am in still in recovery mode, trying to deal with the results of the operations.  Sometimes the cure is worse than the problem.  More importantly, this year was a time when I had to endure the loss of the two of the closest friends I have ever had on this earth.

Within a short span of three months, I lost Bob Emrich and Bryan Blakely.   Bryan was my closest childhood friend growing up in Oak Harbor, Ohio.  There wasn’t much that happened to either of  us from the time we were 6 to 18 that we were not involved in together.  As life happens to all of us, after high school we went our separate ways.  We always stayed in touch but we both lived in different parts of the country and we were on different paths.  However, Bryan was part of a foundation in my life and when we were able to get together over the years, it was just like old times.  Thirty years may have passed but it would only be a few moments and we were just like we were when we were 18.  Good times.  He was taken way too soon.

Bob was my mentor and he was the one person that could always point me in the right direction.  He was an example to me of what it means to live a life that would bring honor to his family and to his God.  He showed me how to truly live as Christian in this world.  He taught me more about God’s grace than any preacher that I have ever heard.  No, he was not perfect but he was a perfect example of what God can do in a person’s life if they allow Him to work in their life.  Bob wasn’t a preacher but a truck driver.  I cannot tell you how many times I would call him and he would be winding his way through the mountains of Tennessee or making his way through the corn fields of Iowa.  He always made time for me and always had a good word to say.  I still cannot bring myself to delete his phone number off my phone.

Performing the eulogy at their funerals was the most difficult thing that I have ever done.   I cannot express to you how much I miss them.

This year was also a time where I had to deal with some major health issues.  Without boring you with the details, I had to have two operations.  The second surgery was much more serious than I  was really prepared for and I am still dealing with the results of the operation.  Those results have hindered my ability to write and to do many of the things I did and enjoyed so easily in 2008.

For example, I have completely lost hearing in my left ear and have a 60% loss in my right.   I am on the fast track in becoming deaf.   Anyone who knows me, knows that I love music.  It is something that I have enjoyed my whole life and it is slowly being taken from me.  I have also lost most of my ability to taste food.  Most of my tongue is numb and I have limited ability to even taste what I am eating or drinking.   Finally, my right hand is still asleep.  This hinders my ability to write and typing is much harder than ever before.  The doctor says that while there is no chance that my hearing will come back, I may experience some improvement with some of the other issues.  So, while I am waiting to recover from this surgery,  I am trying to do what my friend Bob would have done.  He would  have called me to talk about the things we were thankful for in spite of the circumstances that we are in.

In honoring his life, I am trying to put into practice what he would have done.  In that process, I realize that I am extremely thankful for many things in my life, in spite of the difficulty of this past year.    One thing in particular that I am thankful for in 2009 is this blog.  Over the year, I have had over 150,000 visitors.  Now I know not all of them read my blog and some visit my blog just to read what new ridiculous and stupid thing  comes out of my mouth and spills out onto these pages.  Like I always say,  I love to write…I never said I write well.

One post that went viral this year was a post about things I am thankful for  called  “A Few of My Favorite Things… .  This post has by far has been my most popular post with over 20,000 hits and still growing.   I wrote that after my first surgery and just posted a few of my favorite things and things I was I was thankful for.   I would like to update it and add to those things and really be thankful for what God has allowed for me to be a part of in 2009.

So here are a few of my favorite things to be thankful for 2009…

And finally, in no particular order, here are a few of the maybe or maybe not so important things  to be thankful for…

So there you have it… a list of a few of my favorite things I am thankful for in my life.  No, the list is not complete and I am sure that there are more things I am thankful for if I would sit and think for a few minutes.    However,  that is for another time.

In closing, I will not be sad to see 2009 go away.  I am looking forward to what God has in store for me in 2010.   The slate is clean and anything is possible.

I will not be surprised by anything that may happen…but then again, maybe it’s just me.

The Passing of a Champion – Harold “Mac” McGilton # 81

This is a sad week for me.

Harold “Mac” W. McGilton, Sr., 74, of Fremont Ohio, died Tuesday, April 21, 2009 at Countryside Continuing Care Center surrounded by his family.

He was survived by his wife, Betty McGilton, Fremont, OH; children, Michael McGilton, Steve McGilton, Harold “Mac” (Maria) McGilton, Jr., Lisa (Randy) Hammer, Linda McGilton all of Fremont, OH; fourteen grandchildren; and twelve great grandchildren.

I first met Harold McGilton in the early 1970’s. I think I was about 11 or 12 years old at the time. It was a chance meeting and though it was a long time ago…I remember it like yesterday.

Harold McGilton did not know my name, nor did we ever communicate at any time over the past 35 plus years since that first night I met him. However, Harold “Mac Attack” McGilton had a tremendous influence on me during those early years. He just never knew it.

Who was Harold “Mac” McGilton?

Harold was a Welder and Steeplejack by trade…but more importantly he was a race car driver. Not just any race car driver…but my race car driver. I watched in awe as he battled the corners of Fremont Speedway with the likes of Al Franks, Jim Linder and others.

He began his racing career in 1956. Throughout his racing career, Harold won hundreds of features and set numerous track records. He was a two time Track Champion at Fremont Speedway. In 1975 he won the first Speed Week Championship and in 1976 was Co-Champion with Billy Cassella. He traveled to many surrounding states winning numerous titles and events. After retiring in the late 70’s Harold returned to Sprint Car racing, competing and winning at age sixty-five. One of his great accomplishments was leading and finishing third at the Master’s Classic in 1999 in Knoxville, Iowa.

As a young boy, when I rode my bicycle, I imagined that I was Harold making the heroic and dangerous pass on that final turn to win the race. His daughter, Lisa Hammer recently said, “He was a bridesmaid hundreds of times,” she continued. “It took him seven years to get his first feature win.” However, when I played with my “Matchbox” cars…I had a special car that was “Harold’s” car. It NEVER lost a race.

I am sure there were times when in my mind…I was more Harold McGilton than the real deal. He was larger than life and I idolized him.

knoxville-3-1975hm

Little did Harold McGilton know that on that hot July evening, at the Fremont Speedway, that when he shook my hand he would have had such an influence on a young boy from Oak Harbor, Ohio.

Sadly, as I grew up, I moved on to other interests and other sports. Harold retired from racing.

I often wondered what he was up to and I always wished I could have made the connection with him again and tell him what a positive influence he had been to me. I wanted to tell him thank you for giving a young boy a hero to follow.

But as fate would have it…it never happened.

I came home from work this week and opened the newspaper and read the obituaries…and there it was… Harold had passed away.

In my life, I have traveled around the world. I have met a number a professional athletes, politicians and famous people over the years. I have even had the honor of meeting two Presidents and shaking their hands.  All of these people would be considered heroes for many people, but not for me.

I did not have to travel all around the world to find a hero…

He found me at a little dirt track in Fremont, Ohio.

Thank you, Harold.

Blessings to his family and may God give you peace and comfort in this difficult time.