Monday, November 19, 2007

When I Was Just a Kid...Lee Warren

I am a Warren and I always kidded Lee that we are cousins. He actually has a family resemblance to my Warren kin! But then, of course, my brother is Rick Warren (a landscaper, not a pastor...ha) and we Warrens are legion.

But Lee and I do have some preferences in common and tennis as a kid was one of them, as well as sports. I did coach and teach P.E. but my aspiration to be a sports reporter did not happen, like it has for Lee.

But when I decided to start my own blog, he was one of the people who encouraged me and also gave me great information about them. See this link to find out how to start a blog if you are interested. He has been a Best Weblog Award finalist for two years straight and considering the number of blogs out there, that is impressive!



--The tennis photo shows me playing in a tournament in St. Louis, shortly after college. Dad took the photo.--Lee

Lee writes a blog called Little Nuances and some of the things he talks about are profound, some funny, some sad, some touching and some are about sports! He has blog posts that I sit there and wish I had written. He also has quite a few articles and some books and he has taught at writers' conferences.

So what was Lee like as a kid?


Childhood Ambition:

I always wanted to be a professional athlete. I devoured books that I ordered in grade school about various different sports stars. I was partial to football early in my youth, probably because my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers were so good at the time. I dreamed about playing fullback or middle linebacker for them--never mind the fact that I had the body of an offensive lineman. Dreams are rarely subject to such realities, at least until they come face to face with it. In the ninth grade I tried out for school's football team and reality finally reared its ugly head. I was named as a third team offensive lineman. I didn't want to play that position so I decided that football wasn't for me. 

By then, I'd already taken up a serious interest in tennis and I'd spent a lot of time on the court with my best friend. I tried out for my high school's tennis team during my sophomore year and saw a little playing time. By the time my senior year rolled around, I was ranked number two or three on the team. To be honest, I wasn't that good. But again, dreams have a way of distorting reality, and I began to dream about playing tennis at a higher level. I tried out for my college tennis team during my freshman year. The coach didn't make cuts, but you also didn't play unless you were ranked in the top ten. The highest I ever reached was twelfth. I actually won an intramural tournament on campus and then played in a few tournaments throughout the Midwest after college, but I never really made any noise, so my dream of playing professional sports died quietly. That hasn't stopped me from continuing to play the sport though. I still get out and play several times a year.

--The picture of me as a young boy opening a Christmas present, shows my dad watching over my shoulder.


(Crystal's note: I grew up with an aluminum tree just like that one!)


Fondest Memory (then):

My fondest memory during my childhood probably is a group of memories. My neighborhood was full of kids my age and often we'd get together for impromptu softball, basketball, and football games. Oh, how I loved those times.

It was a time when you could forget that you were an overweight kid, or a kid with a speech impediment, or a kid who was shy, or whatever your problem may have been. We were just a bunch of kids playing sports that we loved. I was one of the overweight kids who often surprised people because I moved better than people anticipated. Well, I probably didn't move better, I just had better instincts that most people expected, so I could anticipate what was going to happen and that helped to make up for my lack of speed.

When playing pick up football games, I often played receiver, which is sort of funny considering my size, but I always had a knack for getting open and then catching the ball. I remember one pick up game my neighborhood played against another neighborhood. The guy who was supposed to be covering me ignored me early in the game. I'm sure he took one look at me and thought that I didn't have a chance in the world of doing any damage. As we broke the huddle on one particular play, I could see that the guy was playing way off me.

I was supposed to run a deep post and that's exactly what I did. By the time I made my cut I could see two things quite clearly. First, I was completely alone. Nobody was defending me. Second, I could see that the ball was thrown a long, long way and that I was going to have a difficult time catching up with it while also keeping my feet in bounds in the end zone. I raced toward the end zone, trying to get a feel for whether I had a chance to catch the ball in bounds or not. As the ball approached me, I could see that I was going to have to dive for the ball. I left my feet, being conscious of where the out of bounds marker was in the end zone, and I caught the ball about a foot off the ground. I dragged my feet in bounds and waited for the inevitable thud that my body was going to make as it hit the ground. I hit hard, rolled over, and then bounced up to let everyone see that I'd caught the ball. My teammates ran down the field and offered high-fives all around. I loved proving that I belonged on the field, in spit of my size, and this was one of those moments.

I had another fond memory during a pick up basketball game before school one day. It was senior year. I stole a pass on our end of the court and I took off for the other end hoping to score with an easy lay-up. That hope died quickly when I saw a member of the basketball team running me down rather quickly from behind. I knew he was going to block my shot so I was trying to figure out whether I should pull up and try a jump shot or wait for assistance from a team member so I could pass it to him for an easy lay-up. Help never arrived and for some reason I left my feet as I got close to the basket thinking that I could find a way to get the ball around the defender's long out-stretched arms.

Just as we were about to have a mid-air collision, I had an idea. I ducked under him and tried to hang in the air long enough to do a reverse lay up on the other side of the basket--a move I'd practiced many times in a park by my house. It caught him by surprise and I was able to get the shot off. I put a ton of spin on it and it kissed off the backboard and through the hoop. The entire gym erupted. I jogged back down the court as if it was no big deal. I didn't mind it one bit when a particular girl told me that she saw the play and she wondered how I'd pulled the move off.

Fondest Memory:

I have another memory that I'll always hold dear. My dad used to take me out golfing quite often. He'd take me to driving ranges, teach me the proper grip and how to address the ball, and then applaud me no matter how horrible my shot was. He was a salesman, so he'd often take me on golf outings with his clients and we'd have a blast. I don't think there's anything more exciting for a young boy than spending a Saturday afternoon with his dad doing something they both love to do.Anyway, not long ago, as I was going through some of the golf books that I inherited from my dad's collection, a photo fell out of one of them. The photo showed me swinging a golf club when I was 12 or 13 and I'm sure Dad took it during one of our many outings. I was so moved by finding the photo this way that I couldn't speak for several minutes. It was like Dad found one last way to connect with me even though he was already gone. 


--The golf photo is the same photo that fell out of the book I inherited

from my dad.


My First Job:

My first job was really my second job. My first first job was working for a shady telemarketer who I didn't last long with. My real first job was working at Taco Johns. A friend from high school told me about the job opening. I applied and was hired. My first day, I dropped the container of tomatoes that my friend had recently cut up for the night shift, so I got a crash course in how to cut up tomatoes. It took me several hours, but it provided some great comic relief for my co-workers. And even many months after it occurred, I could always count on somebody to bring it up and the laughter would start all over again. I laughed, too.

After a couple of years, I became a manager there. I did the books, prepared the deposits, fired a few people, placed the occasional order for supplies, and made so many great friends that it's hard to count them all. We closed at 1:00 am on the weekends, but that didn't stop any of us from having fun. After we closed, we'd blare the latest hit album, usually something by Prince (we were all partial to "Purple Rain"), and we'd sing and dance as we cleaned up. Afterward, we'd play Frisbee in the parking lot, or play basketball in a nearby park (yes it was nearly 2:00 am by then, but we lived in a different world then), or we'd go back to someone's house and listen to music or watch a movie. To quote Russell Crowe from the movie "A Good Year," it was a "grand" time.

--The Creighton Intramural Champion photo shows the shirt I won after winning a tennis tournament on my college campus.


 Favorite Childhood Book:

It was called Benvenuto. It was about a dragon named Benvenuto and I thought he was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. I ran across the book recently and wrote a post about it on my blog. Here's the shortened version of what I said in that post. I loved Benvenuto so much that whenever I saw something that I thought was cool, I used Benvenuto's name as a replacement for the word "cool" and I'd say, "That was so Benavenuuuuuuto." To my dismay, after finding the book recently, I realized the I've been mispronouncing his name all this time. His name wasn't "Benavenuto," it was "Benvenuto." Oh well, I see no reason to make the correction now.


--The photo of the Benvenuto book is the actual book I had when I was little.

Childhood Hero:

Spiderman was my childhood hero. I loved the way he was Peter Parker by day, a somewhat nerdy introverted guy, but a superhero by night. I guess I could relate to who he was in real life and I loved the fact that such a person could make a difference, even it is was without anybody's knowledge. I bought every issue of the Spiderman comic book for many years in a row and I always read every word.


Lee's Web site:

This web site has samples of his writing and links to his blogs. It also contains information about the services he offers to writers who need one-on-one attention, or critiquing and editing services.

Little Nuances blog:

This blog is about the little things of life. In Lee's opinion, we often overlook the small blessings in life because we are looking for bigger things to happen. Little Nuances is a bit artsy, a bit memories, and a bit observation.

Some of my favorite posts:

Do Men Read?

"I read an article in the August 2006 edition of Writer's Digest magazine yesterday that confirmed what I've heard time and time again in the publishing industry. The title is, "Do Men Read?" written by Maria Schneider...."


Drowning in Nostalgia

"You should be warned that it becomes increasingly easy, as you get older, to drown in nostalgia. In fact, you can almost measure where you are in life by the degree to which you have begun looking back rather than ahead." --Ted Koppel, in a commencement speech to St. Mary's (MD) graduates in May 2006


South Omaha Sun

"Have you ever had a flashback about something you haven't thought about in years and it just warmed your soul? I had one recently. A friend was telling me about a college football pick 'em contest he entered and won second place in and I instantly flashed back to my childhood when a newspaper called "The South Omaha Sun" had a similar contest every week. The paper discontinued operations in the 1980's, I believe..."

Another Topic Blog:

Royal Reflections:

Are you a Kansas City Royals fan? Lee is!

A blog about the Kansas City Royals. He evaluates game play, up and coming talent, trends he sees with the team, and some good old-fashioned opinion.

The Christian Sports Blog:

A blog about the sports world from a Christian perspective. He  interviews professional athletes for Christian publications and gives readers a little taste of the articles he writes, as well as links to all of them that are published online. Readers also get Christian insight about the tough issues in sports such as steroids, character-related issues, etc.


Books by Lee Warren:


For singles:


Single Servings: 90 Devotions to Feed Your Soul

Many Christian singles struggle with loneliness, physical desires, and expectations. In Single Servings, author Lee Warren, offers ninety devotions for single Christians who find themselves pressured by one or more of these challenges.


And if you are looking for a Christmas gift:


The Experience of Christmas

Slow down this Christmas and really enjoy the season with Lee Warren’s latest book, The Experience of Christmas. Use this 31-day devotional to help your family focus on the birth of Christ, through unique, two-stage devotions that can accommodate families with young children and families with older children.

Lee's blog, Little Nuances is one I not only signed up to have put in my email box, but I go over to make a comment now and then. He's just a really super guy! So, go on over to see my cousin sometime.





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