Protection: the act of protecting or the state of being protected; preservation from injury or harm.
Anyone that has spent any time with me knows how much I enjoy college football. More specifically; spend time with me and it is evident my love for the SEC and the Florida Gators. And though I love the Gators you can find me every fall Saturday afternoon pulling for SEC teams when playing outside their conference and rooting for them when they compete in the bowl games - except Tennessee... I truly despise the Tennessee Volunteers. The only team I dislike more than the Tennessee Volunteers is the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Anyway, for me college football begins and ends with the Southeast Conference.
College football has many traditions and rivalries that touch many of us across the country. College football entertains the greatest rivalries in sports in the Ohio State vs. Michigan and the Auburn vs. Alabama game. The tradition of "Script Ohio" at Ohio State, "College Gameday" with Fowler, Corso, Howard and Kirk Herbstreit on ESPN - my wife thinks Herby is hot... I told her to get in line; everyone thinks he's hot...including me. Did I just say what I think I just said... my wife said I have a "man crush", the "Tiger Tailgate" at LSU, "Touchdown Jesus" at Notre Dame, "The Grove" at Ole Miss, Penn States "Whiteout", Texas' "Longhorn Bevo", the regimental ties that students wear to the games in the SEC, The Aggies "12th man" and who can forget USC.
They have the Trojan, the white horse... and they have the most outrageous and unbelievable cheerleaders in the land.
Sorry. I had to... I couldn't help myself. The USC cheerleaders have "The" best uniforms and are consistently the most gorgeous group of girls every year. The dark red sneakers they wear with the white uniforms are simply awesome.
I really can't add anything to this picture...
I could post these pics all day...
If my wife would quit looking over my shoulder every five seconds.
In a word; spectacular.
OK, I get it... enough already.
The traditions in college football are endearing and endless. College football, and all of its tradition and fanfare, is simply the best. Its passion is often not found or matched by other team sports in this country. College football truly stands alone. The history of the game and its players, as well as generations upon generations of loyal fans, makes it something wholly unique.
And with all of these traditions it is the cosmetic gem that can be found on the field in most SEC stadiums that I love the most.
The University of Georgia was the first team in the south to display hedges around the playing field at Sanford Stadium. The story has it that a man by the name of Charlie Martin pitched the idea of the hedges. Martin was the Business Manager of the UGA Athletic Department in the 1920's & 30's. Martin claimed that he received his inspiration for the horticultural gem while attending the Rose Bowl, where he saw the beautiful hedge of roses in the stadium that bordered the playing surface in Pasadena, Calif.
On October 12, 1929, when the bulldogs played their first game in their new stadium against Yale, all eyes could see the newly planted hedges that surrounded the playing field. Since roses were not a suitable choice for the Athens climate the university decided upon using an "English privet hedge" (privet Ligustrum hedge) at Sanford Stadium. Georgia's 15-0 victory over Yale on that sweltering day was the first game "between the hedges" for the Georgia Bulldogs. Currently six other SEC teams play between the hedges: Ole Miss, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Arkansas, South Carolina and Alabama. If I forgot one I apologize, but really there is only on game played "between the hedges" and that game is played at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia.
English privet hedge
In addition to being a great cosmetic touch, the hedges have proven to be an effective, though perhaps unintended, measure of crowd control, as well. Even though a major traffic path to exit the stadium from both stands runs directly alongside the hedges, fans have only stormed the field and torn down the goal-posts once in the entire history of Sanford Stadium. This truth is supported in fact by the chain-link fence that runs in between the hedges.
No one has spent more time "between the hedges" than Vince Dooley. The legendary coach Dooley paced the sidelines for more than twenty years. He was the coach at Georgia from 1964 to 1988.
Coach Dooley has said many times since his departure that "the hedges are something magical."
I have to agree.
The hedges on the football field have created a great mental image and reminder to me that God can, and will, put a protective hedge around his children if, and when, we ask Him to.
That is not to imply that we as humans won't experience heartache and failures. The experience of the loss of loved one and living in the "valley of life" will fall upon the believer and non-believer alike. This will occur more times than we would like to think or imagine. We will lose a job, we will eventually get bad news from the doctor and everyone of us will become very acquainted with trials and tribulations, but in the midst of all of that I do believe that God can, and will, protect us.
He will protect our emotions, our attitude and most importantly He will protect our faith and hope in Him.
God is my "Protective Hedge".
And it is, and will be, between those hedges I chose to live the rest of my life. Honestly, I can't believe that I lived a much different life in the not so distant past and I can't even begin to understand or believe how I could live any differently than I am living now.
I will say it again; "God is my Protective Hedge".
He is my hope and my faith is deeply rooted in Him.
In my prayer life over the past five years I have been praying for a "hedge of protection" around my family in "seven" different areas. This past week I decided that I wanted to put that prayer in writing and refer to it every day for the rest of my life. Whether I'm in the car or in the shower, whether I'm sitting in the bleachers at one of my children's games or I'm cutting the grass, I'm going to quietly pray these words to God every day and remind myself, as well as my Savior, that I need Him in my life. I will always need my personal savior to be my guide, to be my compass and to be my protector.
I can't live without Him.
My faith is in Him.
I'm not asking for prestige, power and position. I'm just asking for His protection.
This is my prayer.
"The Prayer for God's Protective Hedge in My Life"
It is my prayer that you, God, will forgive me for all that I have done that does not match up to Your word, Your way and Your will for my life.
It is my plea, desire and hope that you will put a protective hedge around my children spiritually, emotionally, mentally, relationally, physically, financially and socially.
Spiritually create a desire within each of my children to come to know you in a personal way and protect the Godly knowledge and wisdom that has found its way into their heart and mind. Bless them with the desire to become committed to You and to serve You all the days of their life. Bless them with a Christ filled life.
Provide a protective hedge around my children emotionally. Protect their feelings and create in them the proper perspective when dealing with success and failure. Aid them to handle the high of highs and the lows of low. Never allow them to get too high or too low. Create a sense of wanting to protect other people's feelings they come in contact with. Protect them from feelings of complete despair and depression; help them to live life with a high emotional IQ.
Mentally provide a protective hedge around their thoughts and their words. Bless them with the ability to learn and discern. Create within the ability to comprehend new material and to intellectually excel in the classroom and the workplace. Bless their minds and always keep them from entertaining depravity. Help their thoughts to be clear and their behavior to be a reflection of making good decisions.
Please put a protective hedge around them relationally. Protect their friendships, dating relationships and their relationships with their parents and siblings. Most of all protect the family they will create someday in the future. Begin protecting their "future" spouses and their family now. Break the cycle of divorce in our family with me and bless the boys, and Reese, with one spouse, and one family, for a lifetime. I pray that their spouses will be men and women of God.
Place around them a hedge of physical protection. Bless them with good health and protect them from physically harming themselves or another. Protect them in every athletic endeavor and when they are behind the wheel driving. Please protect them physically. Please protect them at all times. In the end, take me before you would ever take them.
Provide a protective hedge around them financially. Help and aid them to earn, tithe and save their money. Bless them with the knowledge that everything comes from You and that we are to be mindful of that each day we work. Give them a career over a job and help them to always remember that they are to be respectful of their employer and that they are to glorify God in workplace. Help them learn how to "fish" so they can eat for a lifetime. Bless their money and the relationship they have with it and the decisions they make concerning it.
Socially put a protective hedge around them. Protect their reputation and their honor. Aid them in becoming leaders and not followers among their peer group. Bless them with discernment when it comes to the choices they make socially. Protect them from people, and groups, that don't care about them or their future. Help their belief in You to resonate with everyone they come in contact with and to display the type character that shows to everyone a person that is very comfortable in their own skin. Help them to be a winner.
God put a protective hedge around my wife and me spiritually, emotionally, mentally, relationally, physically, financially and socially.
Spiritually put a protective hedge around our relationship with You. Give us the desire to read Your word and to spend quality time in prayer. Develop a heart in us that is obedient to Your commandments and Your Will. Help us to live in the center of Your will for the rest of our days.
Bless us emotionally and protect us from living solely by our emotions. Help us to acknowledge our emotional state, but never to depend on our emotions to lift us above any of life's troubling circumstances. Protect us from over reacting to a situation or under estimating another's emotional state. Helps us to develop a personality that is calm, cool and collective, and that chooses to respond in love instead of reacting in anger. Help us to protect each others feelings.
Mentally protect us from thoughts of despair and depressions. Help us to gain and retain knowledge of You through Your word and at our place of employment. I pray for wisdom in our lives. Please bless us with wisdom and discernment in all we do.
Put a protective hedge around us relationally. Bless our relationship with You, with our children and with each other. Bless our relationship with our parents and siblings. Bless our relationships with others and create within us the ability to leave people in better shape and condition after we have met them than they were before hand. Bless all of our relationships and help us to live in peace with everyone.
Create a protective hedge around us physically. Develop a strong desire in us to remain healthy and to create healthy lifestyles. Aid us in striving to be physically fit. Protect us during the day when we travel our separate ways for work and protect all those that come in our path. Protect our home from physical, relational and spiritual damage. Bless us with a strong body and appreciation for good health. Help us to lead healthy lives and bless us with great health.
Provide a protective hedge around us financially. Help and aid us to earn, tithe and save our money. Bless us with the knowledge that everything comes from You and that we are to be mindful of that each day we work. Give us a career over a job and help us to always remember that we are to be respectful to our employer and that we are to glorify God in workplace. Help us learn how to "fish" so that we can eat for a lifetime. Bless our money and the relationship we have with it and the decisions we make concerning it. Help us to be faithful with our money and to help others with what we have been blessed with.
And finally, put a protective hedge around us socially. Aid us in developing a lifestyle that displays our faith in You. Help us to be a witness by the way we behave and not what we say. Help us to be leaders in our family, church and community. Aid my wife and me in protecting each others honor and reputation. Help us to put ourselves in the best position to succeed and not fail socially, and always to be people that are perfectly comfortable in our own skin privately and publicly.
God I want to thank you for hearing my prayer and for being my hedge of protection.
In the end, I want to play the game of life and to live daily between Your protective hedges.