Thank you, Coach Friedli.

It is a challenge to accurately capture a tribute fitting for someone who meant so much to so many people. A legend in high school football, Coach Vern Friedli held the title of the winningest coach in Arizona high school football until last season. But Coach Friedli’s impact extends far beyond the 331 wins, including 288 in 36 years of coaching at Amphitheater High School.

Yesterday, a flood of memories came back as I attended his “Celebration of Life” at the Amphi basketball arena in Tucson, Arizona. Just a glimpse of his impact was present in the crowd of more than 500 former players, friends, family members, and administrators. I remembered the first time I met Coach Friedli in the summer of 1997. Walking into the football weight room under the stadium, I took a left and saw Coach sitting at his desk. I walked up to him and introduced myself as he stood to shake hands. He was all of 5’8” 165-ish lbs, fit, confident, with kind eyes. He was smaller than I expected but you wouldn’t know it when you talked to him. His fiery personality and impact would soon extend further and higher than his physical stature ever could.

During that first meeting, we sat down and discussed why I transferred to Amphi and wanted to play for the Panthers. Having attended Palo Verde Christian (PVC) for two years, I felt led to take the leap to public school to reach the lost. I wanted my life and my words to lead people to Christ. I also wanted to play football for the best. Coach Friedli and his Panthers were the best in Tucson and everyone knew it. Surprised yet un-phased by my words, Coach welcomed me to the team and gave me a blank 3×5 card. He told me to take it home and write down my personal and team goals for the upcoming year and bring it back to him. Coach Friedli ensured goals were a foundation of the culture of his program and his players.

Coach Friedli 97

I would go on to play and start for Coach Friedli for two seasons. As huge underdogs my first year, we’d fall just short of the 1997 5A Arizona State Championship to Mesa Mountain View 28-24. Their team was led by future NFL hall of fame tight end, Todd Heap. Our scrappy, hard-nosed, wishbone-running team had the game locked up until an erroneous game-changing fumble by Mountain View, inaccurately ruled down after the whistle, and a later failed 4th and 1. We gave relentless effort and fought to the end-as his teams always did.

He’s the coach that got through to me-as only a coach could. One day I wanted to be rebellious and dye my hair with hydrogen peroxide, without my parent’s approval. I’ll never forget showing up for football practice that day with an orange-ish/yellow hair color and hearing Coach yell before I even set foot on the field to stretch, “Wingate, it looks like a horse pissed on your head.” He was right. He never hesitated to be direct, yet honest in his approach to get through to his players.

Towards the end of my senior year, after my parents, coach was the first to encourage and support my goal of attending Texas Christian University (TCU) as a walk-on for the Horned Frogs.  As a contributor to my high school team, hardly a star, this seemed like a lofty goal. Yet, Coach Friedli did not hesitate to extend his support. I watched the Frogs upset the Carson Palmer-led Trojans in the Sun Bowl, and felt like the Frogs had grit, ran the ball and fought just like a Friedli team.  Vern would coach me in the off-season prior to my departure to Fort Worth in preparation for my redshirt freshman season at TCU. When I left and told him thank you, he simply said, “Make your mother proud.”

That day in the weight room he told me about a coach he ran into from PVC at the airport shortly after I’d transferred to Amphi. That coach told him, “You know, Wingate will never play for you. He’s not that good.” Coach laughed with pride and a tone of confidence as only Coach could as he said, “Well, you showed him!” Again, Coach saw something in me I didn’t even see in myself. He believed in all of us, each one of his players.

He believed in hard work. He valued discipline. He modeled integrity. He demanded relentless effort. He cared for his players and wanted them to “make their mother proud.” He fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. He valued the team more than the individual yet somehow let each individual know he cared.  He gave his all to develop young men of character. He called out the best in each of us.

Coach taught me to never be satisfied with the status quo. He taught me to fight until I hit a brick wall then go around it, over it or through it. Coach taught me to scrap and fight for what’s right, that’s what his teams did. Ask Todd Heap and the 1997 Mesa Mountain View Toros. I’m sure they remember.

Leaving Coach Friedli’s Celebration of Life yesterday reminded me of the value of leaving a legacy. It reminded me of the fragility of life and making the most of our time here on earth and the greatest impact possible. Coach’s legacy extended far beyond the win column; his legacy was in that basketball arena on the Amphi campus. His legacy is leaders in business, the military, teaching, family, and life. Just as we held up four fingers signifying the last quarter of the game and the importance of finishing strong, his legacy is leaders that do not know how to quit.

At the end of the ceremony, his youngest son, Ted, called all the former players to the arena floor. Hundreds took a knee to say one final prayer with a video recording of Coach praying in the background as he did with us before every football game. That day he planted a seed in the hearts of all the men and women present one more time:

Let’s pray. Pray in your own way. Pray not to win, God willing we shall. We pray that you give a great effort tonight. Thank God He allowed you to play football for Amphi High School. And we thank God that he allowed us to coach you. Good luck, God bless, and we love you. Amen.

Pray

That prayer had much more depth than I ever realized as a high school kid. That prayer spoke to the importance of unity of purpose and discipline. It spoke to his vision. It spoke to the value of diversity. It spoke to sportsmanship. It spoke to discipline. It spoke to relentless effort.

It spoke to gratitude for opportunities and the value of seasons. It spoke to Coach’s humble heart and his stewardship of the awesome responsibility of shaping young men in unity, purpose, discipline, vision, diversity, sportsmanship, effort, and respect to the Creator.

Coach called out the leader in me. I take his lessons with me today as a professional Soldier. Coach is greatly responsible for my drive and relentless effort as an Army Officer. After my third deployment, this time to Afghanistan, I visited Coach and his wife, Sharon, to present them with a certificate of appreciation and a flag we flew on a mission during Operation Enduring Freedom as a thank you for his tremendous impact on my life.Coach Friedli Flag

A flag cannot adequately thank a man whose impact goes on long after he is gone. Words cannot adequately express gratitude to a man who put just as much, if not more, effort into building men than he did earning the 331 Wins in his coaching career. You don’t reach that mark without reaching hearts. 

Yesterday’s celebration reminded me of how grateful I was to know and play for a legend. It reminded me how honored I was to see the values instilled by my parents magnified and reinforced as only Coach could. Yesterday, I was reminded of the value of a season and the impact of one man and his teammate, Sharon. Spouses in the coaching profession and military do not necessarily get enough credit for their sacrifice in the shadows.

In Sharon’s case, she was out front standing beside him, supporting and investing in those young student-athletes just the same. However, the sacrifice she made to support and lift him up throughout his stellar career behind the scenes can hardly be quantified by anyone other than his family. The pictures playing on the screen at yesterday’s celebration of life showed Coach valued and invested in his family just as much if not more than his players. The love, respect, and admiration by his children in their speeches about their father were clearly evident.

Thank you, Coach. Thank you for your relentless effort and commitment to the players. Thank you for building men. Thank you for instilling the importance of fight no matter what your size. You may have been one of the shortest men in the room, but you were a giant. Although you are no longer here with us, your investment will continue yielding returns for years to come.

If you missed his Celebration of Life, check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/kvoa4/videos/1642400062459331/?hc_ref=ARSwWDssZcW_BEwvrquFy6BzMkBk3JdKoubcdVdJQg9yB25qm5EkuLBEsimKZ6VWhuY&pnref=story

To anyone reading this, what memories do you have of Coach that others might not know or might not remember? Leave a comment below as we honor his legacy.Coach Friedli

-MCW/@mcwingate

The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

© Copyright 2017 M.C.Wingate. All Rights Reserved.

 

Be present. 

Bruce Arians, head coach of the Arizona Cardinals was recently quoted as saying to Alex Marvez and Geoff Schwartz on the SiriusXM Blitz, “For our coaches, I tell them, if you miss a recital or a football game or a basketball game, I’ll fire you. You can always come back and work. Those kids are not going to be there forever. They’re going to grow up and be gone.”

As a former intercollegiate athlete at TCU and current Army Officer, I’ve always seen the parallels between the work ethic of coaching and the military. As a relatively new father with an 18 month old daughter and son due in September, my responsibility as a husband and father has never been more evident and it is the greatest responsibility with which I’ve been entrusted. This responsibility is something some fathers in both professions miss. 

There are seasons and events we never want to miss. In the Army, in coaching sports, sometimes mission or the season dictates otherwise. That means we have a responsibility to make the most of the time we do have with our family while being present for what we can be present for, controlling what we can control with an adequate work-life balance. Quality time does not necessarily mean quantity time. 

Adequate work-life balance is essential to a healthy home and our role as husbands and fathers. In the Army, when our nation calls, we answer. However, above all else our God-given job is to lead our family first whether at home or abroad. If we do it right, the family will be there long after the Army is gone or the coaching career ends. 

Readiness is the #1 priority of our Army’s senior leaders. Too often we give lip-service to the concept of supporting the family while not truly walking it out. I truly believe support from your significant other through those challenging seasons we can’t control is essential to building readiness. If a Soldier knows they have the support of their spouse back home when deployed or at training, it helps foster a healthy culture where the Soldier knows they can focus on the mission we have been called to do. 

It is my responsibility to be present when home, to turn off my phone when able, and not check email when I could be playing with my daughter or talking to my wife about her day. Investing in my daughter and pursuing her heart is essential to her development and her perception of what a Godly man looks like. That image is also directly related to how well I pursue the heart of my wife.  That requires me to give her my undivided attention when I’m able. There are seasons it is not always possible in person. But when it is, fathers, leaders, coaches, we must be present. 

Farewell.

Change in Command_100Last week Danielle and I successfully completed 27 months of serving the Soldiers and Families of C/2-227 AVN REGT as their Commander. Passing the guidon to CPT(P) Dan Jones signaled the end to one of the most rewarding and challenging seasons of my military career.

Change in Command_91Dan Jones and his wife Rosemary are an amazing couple who will care for the Company Soldiers and Families and serve them faithfully. The Company is in excellent hands for the next chapter of its storied history. Below is my change of command speech. Thanks to all who attended, supported us from a distance, encouraged, and stood arm-in-arm with us through this awesome season!

______________________________________

COL Drennon, LTC Eberhardt, CSM Chapman, CSM Nutter, distinguished guests, friends, and the troopers and families of C Co, thank you for being here.

Although I know COL Baker could not be here, I would be remiss if I did not thank him and a few other leaders. Change in Command_93COL Baker, COL Thompson, COL Waters, LTC Eberhardt, LTC Steele, & LTC Asborno, I was honored to have the opportunity to serve under your leadership. Thank you for your coaching and mentorship throughout various seasons of this command.

I stood in this hangar 27 months ago and cast the vision for this company with great hope and expectation, “Before you today I see a company who is unified in their commitment to the authenticity, credibility and quality

Change in Command_123 of its heart. A company who dares to be themselves, yet lives secure in the knowledge that what they are part of is bigger than the part they play. ”

We set out to be RELENTLESS, to have an attitude or posture that is resolute, persistent, and unyielding in all we do. We set out to have a solid work-life balance while relentlessly pursuing the hearts of our families and
pursuing excellence in discipline, training, and unity at work. Witchdoctor DUSTOFF….Thank you for your relentless effort.

This Company has collectively completed 10 Combat Training Center rotations, deployed to EUCOM in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, nearly deployed to AFRICOM in the fight against Ebola, supported DCRF and DSCA, countless Air Mission Requests to almost every ground unit on post and many on other installations, divested 13 x UH-60A+ and acquired 15 x HH-60M.Change in Command_134 We conducted real world MEDEVAC support in Dahlonega, GA, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, and Poland and training in many other countries, and most recently at Fort Hood, TX in support of the search and rescue team…Charlie Company… You did all that… to Save a Life. You make the mission happen every day and you do it for our Army’s most important resource: the Soldier.

Thank you for your professionalism, devotion to serve, and the sacrifice you and your families make on a daily basis for the good of our unit, Army and country. As you progress in the military or move on to other endeavors, I encourage you to measure success by the lives you invest in and the legacy you leave behind in each chapter of your career. Businessman Henry Gruland said, “Being a leader is more than just wanting to lead. Leaders have empathy for others and a keen ability to find the best in people and a responsibility to believe the best, not the worst by truly caring for others.”

Change in Command_711SG Ocon, thank you for being relentless and challenging me for the greater good. Your true care for the Soldier is contagious. You performed as my 1SG long before you ever had the title and I thank you for the support, advice, trust, and commitment. I cannot wait to see what’s next for you and Maria and I know you will give CPT(P) Jones the same relentless commitment you gave me.

If there is anyone that knows how to believe the best, it is my bride, Danielle. She didn’t know what to expect as the FRG leader, a newlywed, and a commander’s wife all in the first year of marriage. Not having much exposure to the military prior to our marriage, she went in with eyes wide open… COL Thompson was talking to her after the ceremony and Danielle and I had yet to go over the Army rank structure so I wanted to ensure she knew this was my boss’s boss. She later told me she was glad I came over when I did, because was actually about to ask him, “So how long have you been in Charlie Company?” ……You know, although she may not have known at the time that the Soldier she was talking to was actually my boss’s boss, rest assured…… she knows now.

More importantly, what she did know was how to love people. From day one she cared for every family member and Soldier deeply.Change in Command_126 She cared for the spouses, the troopers,
and their children relentlessly. She was instrumental to our success. While we were deployed to EUCOM, she managed to balance a full time job and full time ministry at our church in Georgetown, while being pregnant, then raising a beautiful daughter, and continuing to invest in the families of this company. Danielle, thank you for your support and for everything you did. Thank you for being a sounding board and a teammate. There is no one else whom I would’ve wanted to walk this journey…there is no one else with whom I could’ve walked this journey. Thank you for being relentless to lead and serving well. Our success is largely due to you and I’m so grateful to call you my teammate and best friend.

Thanks to Beth, Yolanda, Bob, June and the rest of our Celebration Church family for walking beside her through quite possibly the toughest season she’s ever walked.

Dan and Rosemary, Danielle and I could not be more proud to hand off the company to Change in Command_132you. In the past month and a half we’ve spent time getting to know you both while building a friendship and we know your heart is for the Soldier. We cannot wait to see the next chapter for this company under your leadership. Not to mention this Company now has the DUSTOFF Aviator of the Year in CPT Jones AND the DUSTOFF two-time flight medic of the year in 1SG Ocon. WHAT?! If that isn’t the dynamic duo I don’t know what is! All kidding aside, Dan your humble nature and passion is palpable and I wish you the best in your command. Change in Command_106

 

 

Mom and Dad, thank you for making time to be here… I’m grateful to be your son and Dad…thanks

for being a Godly father figure to model at home and at work. Thanks for being an example worth following.

 

Thanks to the ACB, my fellow iron majors past and present, fellow commanders, friends,

Change in Command_155and the Lobo and Brigade Staff. Your support and effort made it this successful command possible. To my brother from another mother…MAJ Conrad…thanks for being a sounding board and fighting the good fight…Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another,” and through the past 27 months, you’ve done just that for me. For that I am forever grateful for your friendship.

Vince Lombardi, former head coach of the Green Bay Packers. “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”

My faith in God was the compass that provided the endurance, drive, and commitment to serve and finish well. But know this…the greatest battles won during command were not won during deployment, open door sessions, command and staff or training meetings. Rather, they were won in prayer for you, your families, and for the battalion and brigade leadership.

With that, I close today with great confidence and pride saying, “Before you today I see a company who is unified in their commitment to the authenticity, credibility and quality of its heart. A company who dares to be themselves, yet lives secure in the knowledge that what they are part of is bigger than the part they play. We ARE Relentless, Unified, Trained, and Disciplined – a mentally tough and adaptive team of professionals devoted to serving Soldiers, Families, and the community. We will always safely complete the mission with relentless pursuit – Anywhere. Anytime.

This company, battalion, and brigade is one team I will never forget. Thank you for allowing me the honor of being your Commander. To Save a Life! DUSTOFF! Lobos! Air Cav! Witchdoctor 6 signing out.

Change in Command_23

-MCW

@mcwingate

all photos courtesy of Christina Smith Photography http://www.christinasmithphoto.com

The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

© Copyright 2017 M.C.Wingate. All Rights Reserved.

Kaepenick’s message lost due to ill-timed protest

Colin Kaepernick made a bold statement by sitting during the national anthem in protest to ongoing social and racial issues in our country. His actions enraged and continue to enrage many people in this country. In his post-game interview, Kaepernick said he is “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” He later adjusted his protest from sitting to kneeling during the national anthem to donating $1 million to charities that help communities in need due partially to a candid conversation and dialogue with Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret and Seattle Seahawk. kaepernick1He vowed to not stand during the anthem until he is “proud of his nation once more.” As a result a few other athletes have joined in the non-violent protest while simultaneously enraging patriotic people in our country. Nate Boyer did his part to ensure Kaepernick’s message wasn’t completely lost due to an inflammatory action that represents our nation. Yet the fact that Kaepernick donated $1 million this year to charities that help communities is partially clouded by the fact that he takes a knee during the national anthem, a symbol with deep passion for many.

At the end of the day, does his protest help affect positive change? Do his actions help heal race relations in our country or further damage them by feeding into an already existing racial prejudice and in our country? What are these 17+ athletes providing as a potential fix to the problem affecting our nation?

Although I understand the intent of Kaepernick’s message, his actions do very little to highlight the oppression of black people in our country. However, his and the other protesters’ actions distract from the message they are trying to relay by timing it during the national anthem. We have a saying while making decisions when analyzing missions and planning for future events: What is the second and third-order effect of a decision? How will this decision affect what we are trying to accomplish? In part, it appears Kaepernick’s actions are furthering the gap of division in our country rather than healing the racial and social injustice he’s hoping to highlight.

No one can or should deny Kaepernick’s constitutional right to protest the way he is. That’s part of what makes our country great. However, if exercising your constitutional right has the consequence of furthering the divide you are attempting to bridge, I offer the actions are short sighted and distract us from the true problem. screen-shot-2016-09-01-at-9-15-46-amIf you want to change the way rogue police officers treat a segment of our society, wearing socks with cartoon police officer pigs is probably not the best way. These actions continue to fuel hate and disrespects police officers, the majority of whom protect and serve with distinct honor and selflessness. There are rogue and ill-intended people in every profession. However there are many, many more who are doing the right thing to support and defend us all.
Take Officer Joshua Scaglione, a Detroit, Michigan police officer who after pulling over LaVonte Dell for his windows being too dark in April this year, noticed Mr. Dell’s three year old daughter without a car seat. After asking why his daughter was not in a car seat, Mr. Dell explained his financial challenges and personal struggles. Rather than igniting a disrespectful interchange and making matters worse, Dell was honest, open, and genuine. As a result, instead of giving him a ticket and making Officer Scaglione asked Mr. Dell to follow him to Wal-Mart. When they arrived, the Officer took him inside and purchased him a pink car seat, Dell’s daughter’s favorite color. Scaglione asked for nothing in return. He related to and empathized with Mr. Dell’s challenges. As a result of his random act of kindness, he earned the respect of Mr. Dell by providing a solution to his fellow man’s problem.

This had nothing to do with race. Rather, this had everything to do with loving others. I wonder how Officer Scaglione, an honorable man feels when seeing a professional athlete like Kaepernick wearing socks that disrespect and detract from the good things some police officers do. The media and people in our nation have responded talked for weeks about the protest rather than the message they are trying to relay.

If we do want to change social and racial injustice, what is the best way to accomplish the end goal? When counseling my junior officers, I often tell them, “Don’t bring a problem without a potential solution.” If they do that, it shows me they have thought about the problem, analyzed the problem, and came up with possible solutions. It’s part of their essential development as an officer. I don’t want to always give them the answers to the question without knowing they have exhausted their own resources or experience to come up with an answer. Otherwise, the junior leader will expect the easy way out or a handout every time. That does not build critical-thinking, creative, and determined officers. We want officers that relentlessly pursue solutions to complex problems. When they hit a brick wall with their solution, I want them to find a way around, over, or through that wall to accomplish the mission. If the goals of the protests are to change social and racial injustice, are they identifying the symptom or the disease?

When medics and doctors treat diseases, they identify the symptoms one by one and provide a potential treatment. If we truly want to change racial injustice, oppression, corruption in politics, we must do our own individual part to first be the change we are looking for, rather than just making a controversial, inflammatory action. 1916100_1284618481385_449511_nAs a white, middle class male, I will never know what it is like to deal with the challenges of some blacks in our country. However in order to truly treat the disease, each one of us has to do our individual part to be part of the change we are hoping to accomplish. Often times when we say, “it’s them,” that’s the problem, we fail to realize, we are not doing our own part to be part of the positive change we are trying to achieve. This change begins with each and every one of us.

Part of the problem in our nation is not solely oppression of black people or racism. Those are simply the symptoms of a greater disease. The disease of oppression, racism, social injustice, and ultimately sin is in the heart of man. Actions like Kaepernick’s only further the symptoms rather than heal the underlying disease. The ignorant San Francisco 49ers fan that burned Kaepernick’s jersey and called him a dumb n-word did nothing but show his own ignorance and racial prejudice rather than positively addressing the underlying issue as Nate Boyer did with his open letter to Kaepernick. That 49er fan made the symptom worse. Nate Boyer helped bridge the gap and did his part to treat the disease.

Kaepernick and other protesters think they are doing their part take a stance for  a real issue in our country. If nothing else, Kaepernick’s actions have ignited a conversation. But has he or any of the other protesters stopped to think about whether or not their message is getting lost in their method protest rather than actually affecting positive social change? I do believe he has the best intentions. He should be using his platform as an athlete to be the change. However, his method for doing it could be better approached by not spotlighting himself while simultaneously taking focus away from his team and distracting from an event that is about much more than the individual.

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The Denver Broncos players and anyone else that take a knee, sit or stand daydreaming into the distance during the national anthem are just as wrong as Kaepernick. I have not seen anyone burn Jared Crick (93), Billy Winn (97), and Adam Gotsis (99) for their disrespect. I see three different races equally disrespecting a solemn symbol for our nation at a time that is sacred and stirs many feelings, memories, and emotions for me and many others that have fought in our nation’s wars. Yet, the media doesn’t call them to the carpet for their slightly less-blatant disrespect.

The national anthem is a moment of unity and remembrance for me no matter what our beliefs. It is a moment to celebrate how far we’ve come. It is a moment to think of all the brothers in arms I’ve gone to war with, some of which were lost defending our country. It doesn’t say we’ve made it. It doesn’t deny there are dark moments in our history. Yet, we are where we are as a nation partially due to the adversity we have worked so hard together to never do again.

Protesting in the middle of something that means so much to so many people points the spotlight directly on the individual what we haven’t done, rather than celebrating what we have done and what we as a nation have fought through for over 238 years. We have fought to be by the people and for the people. We have fought to be unified under a symbol, a flag that represents all colors, creeds, and nationalities. The flag represents those who are here and live in those very freedoms. It also represents those who have fought and died for our freedom. It is a symbol not just for all of us, but of all of us.

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The flag and the national anthem do not represent perfection. Our nation’s history is anything but perfect. Even now, years after civil rights and now the first Black President in our history, our nation is not perfect and never will be. However, our ideals, our fight, our never quit, never-say-never grit is what made us leave tyranny to start our own nation in the first place. The flag doesn’t deny racism still exists in the heart of some.  It doesn’t deny there are issues. Rather, it represents what we should be and still can be. But it begins with me. It begins with you. It begins with we the people.  For we the people have to be the change before the radicals, the bigots, the dissenters, the racists, the haters, the homophobes, xenophobes, baskets of deplorables, and hate-filled Americans will change their actions and return to part of what makes this nation great: our diversity and unity of purpose.

Change begins with each of us. It begins with us not just pointing out the problem, rather coming together to come up with viable, achievable solutions to problems that affect our nation. Maybe then and only then will the true message we are trying to achieve not be drowned out be ill-timed protests.  Kaepernick ignited a conversation but the conversation is not even about the message he and the other protesters are trying to convey. I remember my football coaches saying, “You play on Saturdays like you practice during the week.” I wonder if we start practicing pointing out the good things people do rather than the negative, could we ignite a fire of change we really hope to accomplish in our society?

-MCW

@mcwingate

The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

© Copyright 2016 M.C.Wingate. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Perfect Will

“Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Proverbs 37:4, NASB)

As I returned from my third deployment in the fall of 2014, I knew I would be moving to Texas to take command of the legendary DUSTOFF unit of the 1st Cavalry Division, C/2-227 AVN REGT, formerly the 571st MED CO. What I did not know was what was next for Danielle and I. As I boarded the plane from Mihail Kogalniceanu, Romania to start our final two legs home to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, I was excited to see what God had in store for us. What I only knew intuitively was how quick things would develop with her if I 10609696_10202773514314646_6274065620132661299_nwould just trust Him. When I saw her after walking in that hangar after 9 months, I felt joy and excitement. However, it was not until after a week together in Panama City and Destin I finally admitted what I knew in my spirit for the last year of “dating” 7000 miles away from each other: This was it. She was my lifelong teammate.

Now, returning home in just over a month, I return to a loving, gorgeous wife and beautiful daughter. There is no uneasiness. There is no question of her faithfulness. There is no question if she missed me. There is no question if she wants me home. I know this. I know this by her words and her actions. I know this because our marriage is centered on the Cross. I know this because I finally surrendered my life to His will rather than trying to do it on my own. As a result, I don’t find my joy and happiness in my wife. My happiness is found in obedience to Christ and supplemented by walking in His will. Finding happiness in a person will never end well. People are imperfect. He is perfect. We are not.

So why do I say all of this? I see posts on facebook and have conversations with friends who are in a relationship and finding their happiness in their significant other. They found the one! Look, if there was THE ONE, someone screwed it up for us a long time ago. There is someone God has made to complement each of us. But our happiness cannot be wrapped up in solely that person. It’s a fine line. We should be happy with the person. But if we find happiness in that person, our emotions in that moment will ebb and flow with the inevitable good and bad days of our relationship. If our happiness hinges on finding that person, we are going to be sorely disappointed. People will let you down. Christ will not. When we are rooted in HIM first, He will lead you to His perfect will.

One of my friends from Nashville, Morgann McClanahan-David, has a song called, Perfect Will, which is available for download on iTunes and Spotify. J Although my interaction with her and her husband had been relatively minimal, the impact of her song left a lasting impression. I saw her and her husband perform at an album release in Nashville at a time I was in the lowest valley of my life. I was coming off a horrible relationship and searching for God’s perfect will for my life while longing to find the desire of my heart: the wife God had for me. I knew his timing was close, but did not know how to get there. I heard Morgann’s song and it made me smile, pause and think, “Why am I trying to do this my way? My way hasn’t worked out so well to this point.”

003C898A-4379-4EBD-B2BF-92D81E3D5785.JPGIn that moment, sitting in a chair at the Anchor Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee, I finally committed to patiently waiting for HIS perfect will to be revealed. The chorus of her song says, “I can’t stop smiling…grey skies, blue skies, my sun’s shining when I’m in your perfect will.” God’s perfect will led me to my bride. Not my will, not my path, Not my way. Your way; Your will.

As a result of His perfect will, I have an amazing, gorgeous wife, a beautiful daughter. These were desires of my heart. I sought Him never wonder if I’m in His will. I never wonder if there is something better.

I leave my single friends and readers of this post with three bullets of advice:

  1. Be patient and trust His perfect will is best. Patience isn’t always easy. When you see all your friends around you getting married, don’t worry. He’s either preparing your significant other for you or preparing you for your significant other. He won’t let you down. When we try to do it on our own or create our own path for happiness, it will only lead to short-term fulfillment or worse, a valley of disappointment and despair. His perfect will leads us to a lifetime of true joy and the desires of our heart.
  2. If you wonder if there is something better, there probably is. With both of my previous marriages, I wondered if there was something better. It was a drain, every day. It was miserable more days than not. Why it took me to walk that long road to figure it out is for a whole other post. But know this: You will never wonder if there is something better when you are walking in His will. There will be good and bad days and a healthy relationship and marriage takes effort from both people. But you will never wonder if you should be with someone else. You will know this is exactly what God has for you.
  3. You will know when it is the right person and there will be no question. If there is any part of you that feels hesitation in the relationship you are in, there is a good chance it isn’t His perfect will. Prior to meeting Danielle, I wrote a non-negotiable list of everything I wanted in a wife. I wrote this list when I was fifteen too, but for some reason I compromised that list and lost it. Side note: never lose your list.

I committed to not settling for any less than that list and Danielle met every requirement and many more I never even realized I needed. Deep down, God has placed what you need in a partner on your heart. Write down those desires and don’t settle for any less than God’s perfect will. You’re not too picky and it’s not too much to ask. He or She is out there. Just. Be. Patient. Surrender to Him. He will give you the desires of your heart.

-MCW

@mcwingate

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The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

© Copyright 2016 M.C.Wingate. All Rights Reserved.

Photo Credit for last picture to Heather Zak of Heather Zak Designs. http://www.heatherzakdesigns.com/

Every day is Valentine’s Day

HeartsEvery day is Valentine’s Day in the Wingate house. As a result, Danielle and I choose not to celebrate this hyped up Hallmark-dream of a holiday. We do not have flowers delivered. We do not buy chocolates in a heart-shaped box. We do not cut out pink and red construction paper in the shape of a heart and hand write love notes. We do not buy a stuffed animal with a heart embroidered on its chest that says, “I love you!” We do not store up special deliveries, heart-felt gestures, and loving chocolate-filled packages for one day a year.   I’ve done that on this day before and I will not be the first to tell you, “One day is never enough.”

I’ve celebrated this day in past relationships before. I’m a romantic and I love celebrating, well, love. I’ve spent money on jewelry and every other stereotypical Valentine’s Day gift. Yet, those relationships did not work out. At the time, I could not see why. I was broken. Disappointment through broken promises will do that. But through those disappointments, I realized if you are not both working at love the rest of the year, one day will never be enough to satisfy. Without those short-sighted disappointments, I do not believe I would appreciate what I have now. Through those disappointments I learned if you are not both surrendering to God daily and dying to yourself, one day will never be enough to keep the flame going. Marriages fail due to three reasons: selfishness, selfishness, and selfishness. If you are not becoming selfless and serving each other daily, chances are you too will learn quickly that one day is not enough to build a lasting partnership and marriage.

Now we do give each other cards and say sweet things to each other on this day. But it is not centralized to one day. So when you don’t see Danielle receive flowers on this day when the price triples to express our love for each other in public, don’t pity her. When you don’t see me get a valentine’s card or gift, don’t feel bad for me. Be proud of us and consider us fiscally and relationally responsible. There will be other days she will get flowers and celebrated in every way possible, just at one third the cost. We do our best to fill each other’s heart with love and contentment the other 365 days (or 366 this year). If you know my wife, you know: She is worth celebrating every day of the year.

After the journey we’ve traveled to get to the place where we found true, selfless, God-given love in each other, one day is never enough to celebrate His grace. Because no other word can describe two imperfect people finding each other were it not through His grace. I wake up daily thanking the Creator for loving me so much that he gave me a gift worth celebrating every day for the rest my life. So for us, every day is Valentine’s Day.

I love you beautiful! Thanks for doing life with me.

-MCW

 The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

© Copyright 2016 MCWingate. All Rights Reserved.

 

Never Give Up.

If you’re a college football fan, by now, you either saw or heard about TCU’s dramatic come from behind victory over the Oregon Ducks in this year’s Valero Alamo Bowl. Most have considered the Alamo Bowl to be the highlight of an otherwise disappointing bowl season. TCU’s victory over Oregon finished with a crescendo, ultimately providing encouragement for anyone that has ever wanted to overcome the odds to finish strong in football or in life.

This season began on a high note for a TCU team that fell just short of lofty expectations and a Big 12 title due to multiple key injuries. Many of us fans would say this season did not go as planned. But the victory for the Frogs is a storybook finish for a resilient team who put the weight of their season on the shoulders of a backup QB in his first start. A QB who was thrust into the spotlight two days before his final game in a Horned Frog uniform due to one bad choice made worse by a star QB. The outcome of the game is not a surprise to those of those of us who love and follow TCU. This season ends as one of the finest of Head Coach Gary Patterson’s coaching career so far.

Despite the injuries and disappointments in Stillwater and Norman in November and on the River Walk a few nights before the Alamo Bowl, this season ends as one none of the players, coaches or fans will soon forget. The storyline of TCU’s 2015 season and come back finish in the final game of the year is ripe with depth and pregnant with encouragement for anyone who has ever had a season that didn’t go exactly as planned. The storyline of TCU’s final game and come-from-behind victory provides many points of encouragement to anyone that has had disappointments and setbacks in their life.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the odds; overcome them. Down 31-0 at half TCU’s win-probability bottomed out at 0.9% (courtesy ESPN Stats & Info). Adjusting their plan, and committing to the cause, TCU overcame the odds rather than be overwhelmed by them.

ProbabilityWho has faced overwhelming odds? Who has ever been overcome with depression, sadness, and disappointment? Who has ever felt at the end of his or her rope? Who has been counted out by everyone only to ultimately overcome the odds to victory?

Our thinking can change our outcome. What went on in the locker room at halftime of the Alamo Bowl in the purple locker room? The coaches made adjustments (to the game and the clothing), and coached up the players. Things don’t always go as we plan. Sometimes adjustments are required. That begins with our thinking. The coaches and players prepared their minds to take it one play at a time, one series at a time. They could’ve focused on the score at half; rather they focused on the goal. Eventually, they achieved what they believed: we can win this game. Who needs a coach to help you through? Who needs to make adjustments at the intermission of their life in order to finish strong and change your outcome? It begins with our thinking.

Never give up. Down by 31 points and all but considered out, the Horned Frogs could have quit. When TCU lost over 20 starters throughout the course of the season, TCU could have quit. When TCU’s All-American receiver was ruled out for the game against Oregon, TCU could have quit. When TCU’s Heisman candidate QB snuck out past curfew resulting in his eventual arrest and suspension from the game, TCU could have quit. Down 31-0 at the half, TCU could have quit. But the Frogs were not finished yet. As most now know, TCU would eventually come back to match the largest comeback in bowl history. Outscoring the Ducks 47-10 in the second half and OTs, TCU went on to defeat the Oregon Ducks 47-41 in 3 OTs behind the arm and legs of a 5th year backup QB and a team that committed to overcome the odds, change their outcome through their thinking, and never quit. Will you?

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-MCW

 The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.

© Copyright 2016 MCWingate. All Rights Reserved.