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Getting Above the Rim

Updated on December 20, 2014

Above the Rim

Hitting the Boards
Hitting the Boards | Source

A New Neighbor

Marty was my neighbor for several years and a true friend for many more. We lived next door to each other in the country. I initially tried to talk him out of buying the property, where he would eventually build his house, doing all I could to dissuade him because I really didn’t want neighbors that close. The quiet solitude I enjoyed in the country was slowly being infringed upon by more and more newcomers. Anyway, my attempt failed and Marty built his home. I vividly remember watching the furniture vans arrive one truck at a time.

When I first met Marty he was working with his dad as a bricklayer and when his dad retired Marty carried on the business for a while. He was a single guy who loved sports like me. He was a family guy who honored his mother and his father, who were at that time almost in their eighties. Marty and I ultimately became close friends and we helped each other get through some pretty tough emotional times.

A New Game

A year or so after he moved in I heard hammering echoing in the woods behind Marty’s house. My dogs were barking so I went outside to see what the commotion was about. Marty was framing a half court, regulation size, concrete basketball pad behind his house in full view of my kitchen window. We had played on the same church league team once a week the year before, but when he built the court out back we played 1 on 1 many an afternoon. Neither of us was very tall nor was our jumping or jamming days still with us and although we could touch the rim we’d never get above it. We would pound our bodies against each other like kids, which was very wearing on me since I was 12 years his senior. But, it was a time of great sportsmanship and much needed fellowship. It was also a time when both of us could speak openly about issues in our lives and we both needed the competition and male camaraderie.

An Empty Court


A New Struggle

Not long after he came into our neighborhood Marty confessed that he had a drinking problem and that he was going to be away for awhile. I didn’t understand what he meant at the time (naïve, I know) but, I later realized he would spend some time behind bars. After discussing what I could do to help I offered him a small Gideon’s Bible. I shared some of my own struggles and told him how I had carried it with me all through my years in the Army and through several moves around the country during my own difficult times of youth and young adulthood.

One day after work I heard a basketball bouncing on the concrete out back and I ran to the window and sure enough it was Marty, shooting foul shots. I grabbed my sneakers and ran to play our first 1 on 1 game in some time. Later we sat sweating and chatting. I was floored when Marty told me it was my witness to him on the court and the gift of the Bible just before his incarceration that helped him get through his time in prison. The fact that someone cared for him enough to be open and honest meant a great deal to him. From then on the body slamming was much more significant, competitive and fun too!

A New Experience

Life changed, time passed and the good times shooting hoops with Marty faded into the past. We both moved away and the court behind Marty’s house was silent. I ran into him one day a while back and saw that he hadn’t changed a bit. He still loved sports, his mom and dad and was taking care of them with each passing day. It was really good to see him and to know that God continued to bless him.

Through the years I watched Marty overcome worldly desires to live a quality life and I always admired him for putting his mother and father’s needs before his own. Though Marty desperately wanted many of the same things most other men wanted he continually impressed me by steadfastly honoring his heavenly Father by taking care of his earthly mother and father.

Living next to Marty was not my desire, it was God’s desire! It changed both our lives in a mighty way. Marty came to know the Lord and I came to know that if I surrendered myself, God would use me to help another soul. God’s Word was the springboard that helped a couple of middle aged guys get into the game of life and we both finally got above the rim!

Always looking forward to your comments!

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    • Born2care2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 

      6 years ago from Asheville NC

      Hello Availiasvision!

      Thank you for your comment. I have never forgotten this time in my life and I am oh so grateful for its impact. Though it is often bitter sweet, I know I was used by the Source of all Being and for that one moment of knowing I will always be eternally grateful.

      I get the feeling you know what I mean!

      Peace be with you!

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 

      6 years ago from California

      Such an encouraging story! It's easy to think of our actions as insignificant, but God is sovereign and uses us in mighty ways when we surrender to His will. How wonderful to have the blessing of seeing a life changed. Great work. Thank you for the kind words on my fan mail.

    • Born2care2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 

      7 years ago from Asheville NC


      I am so grateful to you for reading and commenting on my hub. I am humbled by your words. I'm just an average guy who likes to write every once in a while and to help people. One of the most joyful parts about writing is hearing from folks like yourself who are experienced and doing what they love as well.

      Thank you for being who you are and adding your spice of life to this community!



    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 

      7 years ago from New York City

      Your writing skills is genuine & leaves me with an air of comfort, I can tell you have a respectable personality that deserves admiration. Great hub on you & your friends true life story of struggle, triumph & accomplishment. Voted Up

    • Born2care2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 

      7 years ago from Asheville NC


      Thank you so much on many levels; for your comments; for your work; and for your care for humanity. It's not just a living, it's a life! I am grateful you are part of it.

      I look forward to reading about your experiences!

    • ithabise profile image

      Michael S. 

      7 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

      Thank you so much.

    • qlcoach profile image

      Gary Eby 

      7 years ago from Cave Junction, Oregon

      Yes to the power of sharing your Light. I can relate as I have dealt with much personal and professional adversity. I'm currently a retired mental health and substance abuse counselor. I like to write about emotional recovery and miracles. Peace and Light...Gary.

    • Born2care2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 

      7 years ago from Asheville NC

      Dear ithabise,

      All your questions will be answered, because you are seeking. I am so grateful for your feedback. There are no accidents and you already have all you need to walk through any circumstance. I can tell you care, because you considered the life of another human being amid your own concerns. I think we could use a few more of you! Let me know how it turns out. There's a story brewing here for you!

    • Born2care2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rev Bruce S Noll HMN 

      7 years ago from Asheville NC

      Thank you nancynurse. I am truly grateful for your comments. If you know a man (or woman) who might be struggling with his/her purpose, let them know that it is within them, working its way out to be revealed in our every day events. Mine just happen to be on a basketball court at that time. Then, as now, gratitude runs very deep! Again I thank you for reading!

    • ithabise profile image

      Michael S. 

      7 years ago from Winston-Salem, NC

      You've just helped me so much with these words: "Living next to Marty was not my desire, it was God's desire!" I'm on a job right now that is testing my reserves; but I feel that I might be there for someone else. I appreciate this article and your faith. God bless you for sharing.

    • nancynurse profile image

      Nancy McClintock 

      7 years ago from Southeast USA

      I love this. I like your writing and your honesty. Great article.


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