Something Personal to Share …

Hey TD,

I was hesitant to share this with you all, but as I’ve been preaching all year long, we are trying to forge a family culture that is transparent and that lets one another into each others’ lives., whether we have good news or bad news to share.

While last week, I was named All-Area Boys Tennis Coach of the Year by both Pasadena Sports Now (first time) and Pasadena Star News newspapers (4th time – 2 girls, 2 boys), it wasn’t something I was planning to exactly share here.

However, as I’ve been emphasizing an upward, outward, downward approach to our life in Christ that does get out there in our communities and that reaches beyond our church walls, I thought this article, written by one who has not yet come to faith in Jesus (but who I pray one day will come to know the beauty of life in the Lord), may help give one more illustration of outward engagement in the community in His Name.  So, for what it’s worth, here it is.  – Arthur

Pasadena Sports Now

Boys Tennis: Arthur Hsieh Named Pasadena Sports Now Coach of the Year; Maranatha Reaching New Heights with Lessons of Faith, Family

Hsieh Family

By Brian Reed-Baiotto, Sports Editor

Maranatha had never really been thought of as a tennis school.

That was until the arrival of coach Arthur Hsieh, who runs both the boys and girls programs.

Coach Arthur Hsieh at CIF Finals with Matthew Alleman.

The girls program won a CIF title a couple of years back.

The boys team, though, hadn’t been a championship caliber squad before Hsieh, and there was no reason to believe the 2017 season would be any different.

But there was one person who did believe bigger things were possible.

That man is 49-year old Arthur Hsieh.

He led his Minutemen to the title match in the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, which was the first time the boys program had ever made a championship appearance.

Top seeded Los Osos defeated Maranatha, 11-7, but the bar has risen drastically thanks to their coach.

More importantly, if you speak to any of his athletes, Mr. Hsieh impacts their lives much deeper and greater off, than anything that happens on a tennis court.

For his unwavering support of his players, his being a role model as a standup adult figure, and his success this season, Arthur Hsieh was named the Pasadena Sports Now Boys Tennis Coach of the Year.

Maranatha was 17-2 this season and won another Olympic League title.

It was their fifth league championship in his five years at the school, and their overall record in league play over that time is 43-1.

“Coach Arthur had a tremendous impact on us both as players and people. Every day before we even started practicing, he would read John Wooden’s book on the keys to success,” No. 1 singles player Matthew Alleman said. “More than anything, it taught me patience, as all I wanted to do was get on the court and start hitting. He invested so much of his time and energy into us which definitely paid off over time and helped us go as far as we did.”

Interestingly enough, Hsieh met John Wooden when he was 88 years old and struck up a conversation with the UCLA basketball icon.

As the event he was attending was about to start, Hsieh asked Wooden if it would be possible to continue the conversation another time, and to his delight, Wooden said he would love to, and they became friends.

John Wooden died in 2010 at the age of 99, but his books on success and life story have impacted thousands, including Arthur Hsieh.

“I tried to use ‘Woodenisms’ with my players, because they don’t just impact you as an athlete (or coach), they are keys to success in life,” Hsieh said.

One of the lessons he learned really stuck with his players.

“Coach taught us about the pyramid of success and competitive greatness,” No. 1 doubles player Drew Sierra said. “It was about being able to play your best when your best is required and that really stuck with me and my teammates, and I think it was part of us getting over the hump psychologically as a team that hadn’t been this far before.”

Hsieh is a deeply religious and moral man, and while that might not be everybody’s cup of tea as a coach, he is a perfect fit at Maranatha and has bettered the lives of all these young student-athletes he’s had the joy of coaching.

But it all starts at home.

Hsieh has a remarkably close, intelligent and beautiful family.

Next week, he and his wife Sandra will celebrate their 27th year of marriage.

Sandra also does her part in making both the boys and girls programs excel.

He has three sons.

Nathaniel (24), Randall (22), Daniel (20) were all athletes in their day, as is 17-year old Angela, who plays No. 1 singles for her father in the girls program.

“The reason this is so much fun for me is because everyone in my family is involved,” Hsieh said. “We enjoy impacting young people’s lives and my kids and wife have gotten to know and care about our players like I do.”

His daughter has another year at Maranatha that Hsieh will serve as head coach, and then the future is going to be a year-by-year decision in what he does with the program.

But for five years, Maranatha has been lucky to have a man that is as quality a person as he is a coach.

Regardless of when he steps off the courts, Hsieh’s lessons on life will reverberate through his players throughout their lifetimes.

Quotable:

Maranatha Athletic Director Brian DeHaan: “We affectionately refer to Arthur as the ‘tennis whisperer,’ because he has a way of softly, yet firmly, bringing the best out of the young people he works with. Arthur and his entire family ARE Maranatha tennis. His leadership has brought the program to the highest of heights, but most impressive is the impact he makes in the lives of student athletes. He has built this tennis program on character and we are all better people having worked with Arthur. He has the unique ability to bring discipline that is rooted in love into the lives of young tennis players and their families. He speaks truth with conviction and fosters an environment of love and accountability.”

This year’s CIF finals run has been built on the shoulders of those who fell short in prior years. We have seen the run coming and it couldn’t have happened for a better group of young men. The entire Maranatha community is thankful for the excitement this year’s team brought to campus. They have left an indelible mark in the history books of the program and raised the bar for future teams to reach.

Maranatha Senior Drew Sierra: “Coach is super ‘wise.’ his advice is applicable on and off the court. Even though he’s super nice and respectful, he’s very competitive and we all took him seriously. A lot of times in practice, we’d do our stretches and do drills and volley’s and repetition really helped me get better. His advice— being the most competitive version of yourself. He fueled the competitive fire in me.”

Maranatha Senior Bryan Lin: “Our coach fostering us to get that mind set of competitive greatness. Through our teamwork as well and our unity led to our success. I am really proud to be part of the program and where it stands now.”

 

Consider the Lilies

It was a Saturday morning and some of my family were out on a walk around the more secluded parts of the beautiful Orange Grove area of Pasadena, when suddenly Sandra started reading “Consider the Lilies,” written by our friend, Jill Carattini, out loud and without warning.  It spoke to us and graciously but firmly, like an iron hand in a velvet glove, elicited tasteful discomfort in my conscience, knowing full well that I succumb to the “anxious preoccupied life” it seeks to help detour.  Well, it succeeded, and I pray that it would keep succeeding in my life.  If you need a fresh and fragrant rescue from the tyranny of the now, read on. 

And for those of you non-readers (i.e. video watchers), please begin training yourself to be able to read.  It will serve you very well, especially if you are to behold a fuller, more complete expression of the delights of the Word Himself. – Arthur  

Wendell Berry has written a poem that haunts me frequently.  As a creative writer, the act of paying attention is both a spiritual and professional discipline. But far too often my aspirations for paying quality attention to everything dissolves into something more like attention deficit disorder. As it turns out, it is quite possible to see and not really see, to hear and not really hear. And this is all the more ironic when my very attempts to capture what I am seeing and hearing are the thing that prevent me from truly being present. Berry’s poem is about a man on holiday, who, trying to seize the sights and sounds of his vacation by video camera, manages to miss the entire thing.

…he stood with his camera preserving his vacation even as he was having it so that after he had had it he would still have it. It would be there. With a flick of a switch, there it would be. But he would not be in it. He would never be in it.(1)

I sometimes wonder if one of the most quoted sayings of Jesus is not often employed with a similar irony. “Consider the lilies,” Jesus said, “how they grow; they neither toil nor spin. Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field…will he not much more clothe you?  Therefore, do not worry” (Matthew 6:28-31). Typically, Jesus is quoted here as giving a helpful word against worry. And he is. But worry is not the only command he articulates. Consider the lilies, he said. We hear the first instruction peripherally, hurriedly, as mere set up for the final instruction of the saying. And in so doing, we miss something great, perhaps even something vital, both in the means and in the end. With our rationalistic sensibilities, we gloss over consideration of the lilies; ironically, in an attempt to consider the real work Jesus is asking us to do.

But what if considering the lilies is the work, the antidote to anxious, preoccupied lives? What if attending to beauty, to the ephemeral, to the fleeting details of a distracted world is a command Jesus wants us to take seriously in and of itself?

It is with such a conviction that artist Makoto Fujimura not only paints, but elsewhere comments on Mary and her costly pouring of perfume on the feet of Jesus. The anger of Judas and the disgust of the others are all given in rational terms, the cacophony of their reaction attempting to drown out her quiet act of attention: That bottle would have cost over a year’s wages. The poor could have used that money. This sinful woman clings to a holy man’s feet. Does he not see who it is who touches him? Their response to her and her act of beauty exposes their own inattention to a world beyond the one they see—to their own peril. As Fujimura writes, “Pragmatism, legalism, and greed cannot comprehend the power of ephemeral beauty. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness; the opposite of beauty is legalism.  Legalism is hard determinism that slowly strangles the soul. Legalism injures by giving pragmatic answers to our suffering.”(2) The corollary, of course, is that beauty can offer healing; that paying attention, even to fleeting glimpses of glory, is deeply restorative.

When Jesus asks the world to consider the lilies, to consider beauty in the midst of all the ashes around us, his request is full of promise, for he is both the Source of beauty and its Subject. Paying attention to the ephemeral, being willing like Mary to risk and to recognize beauty, is in and of itself restorative because it is paying attention to him. Here, both the anxiety-addicted and the attention-overloaded can find solace in a different sort of kingdom: one in which there is room for the paradox of a fleeting world with eternity in its heart.

But perhaps Jesus also instructs the world to consider the lilies because it is characteristic of God’s concern for us. The daily liturgy of lilies comes with unceasing care and attention for all who will see it, the gift of a God who revels in the creation of yet another flower, the details of another sunset, the discovery of even one lost soul. Consider the lilies; how they grow. They neither toil, nor spin. 

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia. 

(1) Wendell Berry, “The Vacation,” Selected Poems, (Berkeley: Counterpoint, 1998), 157. (2) Makoto Fujimura, “The Beautiful Tears,” Tabletalk, September, 2010.