DOWN HOME: Getting set to jump from the high dive

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The things a man will do for a woman.

Well, in my case, it was the thing a little boy would do to impress a little girl.

More specifically, it involved choking down my fear, shoring up my courage and jumping off the high dive at the swimming pool in the Texas Panhandle town of Perryton, where I grew up.

I regret to tell you the first time I took the plunge off the high dive wasn’t the first time I climbed to the top of the ladder, gripped the railing and looked down into the water.

From the deck, down by the water, jumping off the high dive always looked like so much fun. For several years, I watched other kids ascend the ladder, run down the diving board, take a bouncing step, hit the end of the board as it was springing, and soar up into the thin air and down into the cool, clear water.

How I wanted to be like those kids—free and graceful as ducks, arching through the sky and landing gracefully in water. (OK, I was a kid, and my lexicon of metaphors was limited. But I knew ducks flew and liked water. I loved water and wanted to fly.)

So, I would climb to the top of the ladder, intending to jump, soar and splash. And then, instead of the mighty duck, I resembled the other fowl I knew well. A chicken. And with the red hues of embarrassment blotching my cheeks and the bile of shame burning my throat, I would back down the stairs, hoping no one noticed.

Until Linda McDowell went swimming. When I was in the third and fourth grades, I thought the sun rose and set over Linda’s house. She was my girlfriend, and I imagined I was her beau.

The problem was I didn’t know Linda was at the pool until I was at the top of the high dive. Talk about bad timing. No way could I back out now.

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And that was how I found the courage to jump. Months later, Linda broke my little 10-year-old heart (during the fourth-grade Christmas party, no less). But in that brief, shining moment, she inspired me to soar with the ducks and introduced me to a lifetime of thrills from the top of the high dive.

So, why am I telling you this old, old story?

Metaphorically speaking, you’re my Linda and I’m at the top of the high dive again. Only this time, I’m choking down my fear, shoring up my courage and getting set to jump into the world of blogging. With you looking up, I’m more afraid of backing down than taking the plunge.

We’re building a better website, and one feature is a blog component. It will give us the chance to visit more than just once every-other week. Over the years, I’ve wished I could write to you more often than our printing schedule allowed. But now that I can, I’m wondering if I’ll verbally soar like a swan or dive like a duck. To find out, visit our newly updated website,, and click on my blog, Truth Be Told.

We seek to inform, inspire and challenge you to live like Jesus. Click to learn more about Following Jesus.

If we achieved our goal—or didn’t—we’d love to hear from you. Send an email to Eric Black, our editor. Maximum length for publication is 250 words.

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