some thoughts on baseball…

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

baseball-diamond-mtlMy husband did not grow up playing sports. Not because he didn’t have the talent or desire, but his family did not choose sports as a family activity or value that they wanted to pursue. While I didn’t grow up in a family that focused on sports above all else, all of us had opportunity to play sports as we grew up, so I was definitely focused on our children having that opportunity as well.

We want our children to play sports for a variety of reasons, but I have to be honest, the very last reason on our list is about the actual sport itself. Athletics are great; they teach wonderful life lessons and valuable physical, social, mental, and emotional skills, but very few people truly have the talent and ability and opportunity to make it their professional career. I would love for any of our children to have the talent to get a scholarship for their efforts, but even that distinction belongs to a precious few graduates.

The primary reason we want our children to play sports is for the community aspect of it. They learn teamwork and make new friends, and we, as a family, do the same. One of our main family values is to be out and about in our community, making a difference wherever we can. We've thought long and hard about how much is too much for our family. We don’t want to spend every night away from home because of sporting activities, so we don’t enroll our kids in every single sport. We consider very carefully our family’s commitment, and we take it seriously. For us, athletics are not something that we want our children to do; for us, sports are something we want to do as a family.

So, as we end this baseball season, which was fraught with drama and politics and hateful words and bad behavior from parents, players, and coaches alike, we re-evaluate what we’re doing. We could move to a ‘better’ league. One that is more fair. One that is less political. One where I wouldn’t have to constantly reiterate to my son what appropriate behavior for ADULTS is when it comes to kids’ baseball. But. But. We’re in our neighborhood league. These are our people. If we moved, we’d meet new people, I’m sure. We’d even already know some of them, but they wouldn’t be our neighbors. They wouldn’t be our people.

So as much as I hate some of what’s gone on this year, I am so thankful that we all participated. Notice that I don’t even say that Ben participated – we participated. As a family. We attend every possible game together as a family. We go to practices, we sit with the crowd at the games.

This year…in spite of the drama, Ben had a great coach. One that valued playing the game over winning the game. One that didn’t take it easy on him, yet was never harsh.

This year…we made new friends. We solidified old friendships. Like, for real friends, not just acquaintances. Ones that I can call if I need something. Ones where the promise of continued relationship still lifts my heart.

This year…I hugged hurting kids and encouraging mamas. I was encouraged myself.

This year…I laughed. And laughed and laughed. There are very few things more entertaining than watching children try to play to any kind of sport.

This year…I cried with someone. Literally. (Listen, don’t judge my emotionality at the ballpark – it was a truly intimate, touching, friendship-moment, I promise.)

This year…I watched my own classmate’s children, now my son’s classmates, fail, succeed, and enjoy themselves in every single moment in between.

This year…I talked with others about church. I talked about Jesus. I rose above my personal feelings to discuss those things with an ‘enemy’. (Or at least, someone who I personally dislike and who I feel behaves truly badly for an adult woman. But I digress…)

This year…This is why we do sports. This is why we continue to do sports. If this isn’t something you’ve traditionally valued in your family, I encourage you to reevaluate. For us, the time, the money, the energy is all worth it. Our lives, our family, our children – all are richer today because of the decision we’ve made to do this as a family.

under grace

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A week of illness has thrown our entire family for a loop. Everyone is barely functioning. We are still reluctant to eat normally, fighting loss of sleep and exhaustion, and those of our children who do not thrive when we are under stress are, well, not thriving.

I’m not succeeding at parenting my children in the way that we want. I’m yelling too much, expecting too much, and not focusing on what matters.

Today, in bible study, part of the session asked how often we lived under grace on a scale of 1 to 10. I didn’t even have to think about it. I know there are still areas where I will always fight a rule-based mentality, fight against legalism, but at this particular point in my life, I am living all under grace. If not, I couldn’t make it at all.

It’s all grace. And I’m so thankful.

quiet, yet full

Monday, June 18, 2012

Today, words are few, but the gifts are still many…

1020. a baby round of applause for his mama
1021. constant jabbers for the entire twenty minute drive
1022. learning new strategies for my daughter to cope
1023. heavy wagons, weighted vests, indoor swings
1024. choosing joy
1025. hearing the sounds of my husband working alone on the roof night after night
1026. a working back door
1027. quick doctor visits
1028. building patience all summer long
1029. singing Scripture with my children
1030. a needed phone call with a friend who truly, truly loves me – a fresh blessing washing over my parched soul…all that I needed for today
1031. bear hugs to calm frazzled nerves
1032. a successful photo shoot
1033. after all the worry and late-night changes, having chosen just the right outfits
1034. celebratory ice cream
1035. generous friends, both old and new
1036. the blessing of a shady spot to watch ballgames
1037. watching my son play through pain, surprisingly appreciative of his ability to persevere
1038. spending Father’s Day with my husband and my papa
1039. black raspberry pie and homemade ice cream
1040. celebrating with my husband - a disaster movie with an action movie chaser


sunday [on father’s day and for my husband]

Sunday, June 17, 2012

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“Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
Genesis 12:1-3

 

“…Thank you for building this beautiful picture of life in the Kingdom, all of us working alongside each other, as a seeking, a vision, a motley collection of prophets, a foretaste, a sign, all of us with different stories, different reasons, different voices, crying out and praying and working and welcoming, for freedom and wholeness, for restoration and redemption. We see you. We honour you.”
from Let's Hear It for the Boys by Sarah Bessey for SheLoves/Magazine.com

five feminist links on friday

Friday, June 15, 2012

While I proudly claim the title of feminist, I recognize that the term is loaded for a lot of people. Give the links a chance, feminist probably doesn’t mean what you thought it did…

Week Of Mutuality - Rachel Held Evans: If you don’t read Rachel Held Evans blog or didn’t catch any of the Week of Mutuality posts on other blogs, check this out. It was a tremendously well-done, well-written, inspiring, thought-provoking week.

Dangerous Woman Creed - Lynne Hybels via Carolyn Whitby: “Dear God, Please make us dangerous women….”

What Makes a Pastor? or Linda Horne and the Great Mystery - Micha Boyett: “In the upside down paradigm of God’s Kingdom, where the last are first and the first are last, I can’t help but believe that the sort of minister who will sit in the most coveted seat at the Great Banquet, must be the abused, divorced woman who loved little ones well, with little reward and a quiet exit. A woman who held up her hands while we gathered around, a woman who knew how to tell the Great Story, who offered us a true magic, the glowing light held bright above, who called us close to look at Jesus and see what it meant to be loved.”

ex-good-Christian women - kathy escobar: “Jesus wasn’t a “good christian” in the ways it has come to be defined.  he wasn’t well-behaved.  he didn’t play by the system’s rules. he didn’t pretend to be nice. he didn’t play it safe or try to conform. he called us to God’s wild & brave & beautiful ways of Love, not to being “good.”

The Voice and the Echo - Addie Zierman: “To be a Christian, I believe, is listen hard for the notes of grace and love and light that pour from the Hidden Holy and to sing it back as best we can to the world. Man, woman, child – we, all of us, belong to this music. It is not one, echoing chorus with a man’s part and a woman’s part, but a hundred thousand songs sung by a million voices. And one of them is yours.”

summertime and the livin’ is easy

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

There is no time more cherished, more treasured, more dreaded, and more overwhelming than that of summer vacation. The change in routine, the change in where half of the day is spent, the daylight which seems to stretch endlessly past bedtime…I love it. I hate it. We’re making do.

Here are the things saving my summer so far…

1) The trampoline - There is no purchase for our children that we have appreciated more than our trampoline. (With a net for safety, obviously) Our children play on it literally every single day. The other day, Ben just laid on the top and read books for nearly three hours.

2) Dollar General $1 spray bottles – way cheaper than water guns, plus they work a whole lot better. Combine these spray bottles with the trampoline, and you’re golden.

 

Jesus-Storybook-Bible53) The Jesus Storybook Bible – I am usually a tiny bit reluctant to jump on a bandwagon, especially when it comes to something marketed to ‘Christians’, but The Jesus Storybook Bible is just so very fantastic. I’m reading through it with the kids. It’s on point, it’s focused on what’s really important, and it echoes the “Big Story” metanarrative that we are attempting to deeply instill in our children. I cannot recommend this Bible more highly.

4) Seeds Family Worship – We’re singing; we’re dancing; we’re memorizing Scripture. My kids have really latched onto this CD (we only have album 1), and we are better off for it. This week’s memory verse happens to be Romans 8:38-39. Even the littlest catches on to the songs. Any bit of Scripture that we can sow into their little hearts is a gift for them for the future.

seeds-family-worship

 

5) Biweekly Bible study – ok, well, this is just for me. (Things that are just for mama by default benefit the children too. If mama ain’t happy…) Getting together with our little group of mamas for two hours or so every other week continues to breathe grace and peace into my life.

6) The Divine Hours – This prayer book by Phyllis Tickle provides some margin in my days. Even when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’m still stopping four times a day. Even if I’m just reading the words without an earnest, heart-felt prayer time, there’s just a bit of space that I’m building into my routine. A break from the everyday things that overwhelm, even when the children are fighting, singing loudly, I can stop in the middle of the busyness and chaos and with people all over the world, take the time to commune with God.

7) Our CSA box – A plethora of fresh veggies is keeping us snacking fairly healthy. I also have the added challenge of learning to cook veggies that we usually wouldn’t purchase in the store. The past couple months have been full of evening baseball games and other activities, and I forgot that I actually enjoy cooking. The kale enchiladas were a hit, and I think that I may have mentioned my problem with sugar snap peas. I might need rehab soon.

8) Air conditioning – I am grateful. Daily.

What things are getting you through your summer? Any tips for navigating the summer with all the kids at home?

faithfulness

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sometimes, I wonder if living faithfully pays off. If the time we spend pouring into others’ lives is worth it. It sometimes feels as if what we’re doing doesn’t matter. We don’t see the results. We see what looks like ‘failure’.

Then, I have a weekend like this past one, where we not only benefitted from others pouring into our own lives, but I received several reminders that the love that we have sown into others’ lives does not go unacknowledged. It does return a harvest, even if we don’t see it for a long time. I am just so grateful to have been a small part of God’s work over the years, and I am immensely thankful to see the harvest of some of that effort and time and love that we put it into it. Changed lives. Open hearts.
God is still working.
He is faithful.

 

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11

 


1079. a week of basketball camp
1080. the promise of help for our daughter’s needs
1081. evenings at the ball park
1082. fresh vegetables, farm to table
1083. hearty kale enchiladas
1084. honey wheat shortcakes with picked-fresh strawberries piled on top
1085. eating a whole bag of sugar snap peas – they’re like vegetable crack to me
1086. clean and healthy children’s teeth
1087. good spacing for adult teeth, hopes of fewer orthodontic bills in our future
1088. the last visit with our current caseworker
1089. finding shared musical tastes
1090. a little shred of hope for a quick(er) resolution
1091. renewing working relationships
1092. the power of one child to change my entire life
1093. the beginning of a big home repair project
1094. pounding on the roof
1095. my sister-in-law, graciously offering her time and effort to help us
1096. friends and family gathered for work and dinner, helping us out when we need it most
1097. a very late wake-up call for my sleepy, exhausted children
1098. a weekend full of reminders that we have been faithful to God’s call, that it pays off in changed lives, even if we don’t see the fruit immediately
1099. knowing Jesus is the only One who fills all the empty spaces, learning to lean into His grace day after day after day

sunday [16]

Sunday, June 10, 2012

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Change only happens when we’re willing to talk about unpleasant things.
-Gary Haugen

foster care: looking back…

Thursday, June 7, 2012

An imminent change in caseworkers in our current case (because that’s how most agencies like to roll – flipping the caseworkers around willy-nilly whenever they need to. There is an unbelievable amount of turnover in Children’s Services.) has reminded me of our beginnings in foster care. I pulled up the pictures of the kids we first cared for, relishing the happy memories, painfully feeling each memory of brokenness anew.

I remembered that first day when we got the call. How we were so excited and anxious and terrified and downright naïve. We drove to the waiting room of the local medical clinic. That’s where we met those children for the first time and picked them up from. A waiting room completely packed with sick kids and tired families. Our medical center is the kind where whole families come to the visits: mom and dad, all the kids…We signed the papers at the little kids’ table next to the bookshelves where dozens of curious eyes watched us intently. I still can’t even believe that’s how they transferred those children to us. I would have insisted it be different if it had happened today.

We took a picture once we got them loaded into the backseat. Regrettably, I was too nervous and excited at that moment to truly see those two hurt little kids. Looking at that picture now is just a sharp knife to the heart. There are countless more moments like that over those next three months. Moments where I was too inexperienced, too scared, too busy to notice all of the ways they were telling me of their pain.

I would do so many things differently now. I would slow down. I would listen to their actions, realizing that they couldn’t use their words. I would help them heal in ways that I was incapable of doing then. Now, I know what it means when a kid smears poop or when a kid requires not a single moment of discipline during three whole months of parenting. I would know what to tell the caseworker when she came each month. I would do better.

At the end of those three months, I got dressed on that last day they were with us. The oldest little girl watched me from my bed. I put it some beaded hoop earrings. “I love your earrings. They’re so pretty. You wore those earrings the day we came to live with you.” she said.

I didn’t even remember, but that’s the moment that burned into her little memory. She proceeded to tell me every single thing I was wearing that day, picking the items out from the closet.

I have flashes of memory, images from that day imprinted forever into my head. But so did she. Now, I can’t help but wonder what little pieces of that terrible, terrible day are still there in her head. Does she remember more than my earrings? Does she remember that I sat beside her bottom bunk for hours that evening, holding her little hand until she fell asleep? Does she remember that I kneeled beside the window with her while she wished on a star? Does she remember that even though I didn’t know how to help her heal that I loved her intensely? Does she remember Jesus?

We loaded them up into the backseat again. We drove them to their aunt’s house where they were going to live with their dad. He and their aunt graciously granted us a moment of privacy in the backyard. We said our goodbyes, gave hugs, knowing that they didn’t really understand that this was goodbye forever. We got back into the car and drove home, happily broken. We had prayed for reunification. We had pushed for it to happen more quickly than it did, but still when it came, it was the sweetest pain. That night, we sat on that empty bottom bunk, all four of us, and cried.

stepping out and stepping up

Monday, June 4, 2012

This week, I’m stepping out in faith. Not succumbing to fear. It’s not going to look as exciting as what people sometimes mean when they say that – there’s no big move, no huge life change, maybe not even anything that would register on a stress test of any kind.

Here’s what it really is going to look like: therapy appointments, foster care meetings, parental visits, ball games, summer camp, napping, dinnertime, a stack of picture books, an open Bible, folded laundry, swept floors, washed dishes….

It looks like life. It takes a lot of trust and faith to live our everyday, walking-around lives like Jesus. It takes an overcoming presence to not allow fear to take hold. It takes something supernatural to step out in faith and up to the challenge, to not just survive in mediocrity. Day after day, grind after grind, I don’t want to live it half-way. I want to do this whole thing well, giving it everything I’ve got, and trusting the One who knows me for who I really am and loves me anyway – the One who can pick up the slack when all I’ve got isn’t quite enough.

Whatever I have, wherever I am,
I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
Philippians 4:13

 


1000 gifts and beyond….

1058. the first homemade ice cream of the year
1059. strawberry pie
1060. slip-n-slide afternoons
1061. leaving my son’s therapist’s office without any more scheduled appointments. It’s just ‘call as needed’. Finally.
1062. sitting with my beloved room full of mamas, eager to start the summer with some new additions
1063. the happiness of my daughter getting to see her favorite little friend three days in a row
1064. taking our sweet baby to spend his whole birthday with his mama
1065. a mama all dressed up, nails done and all, just for her baby’s first birthday
1066. sweet baby-boy laughter and smiles after a delightful birthday with McDonald’s, the park, first birthday cake smashed on a blanket in the grass, and always, above all else, his mama
1067. fine golden-red baby hair that still smells like cake
1068. the beauty of a mama-and-son bond
1069. a long-awaited return home
1070. watching my daughters love on each other. Nothing like a sister.
1071. baby smiles when he sees the papa of the house finally home
1072. lilies, hydrangeas, pink stock, purple cabbage gracing my table
1073. lessons about grace and dignity, respect and sportsmanship, all learned the hard way with a less-than-accurate umpire on the baseball field
1074. salted caramel ice cream
1075. stolen moments with the man I love
1076. a tiny picture of heaven – all peoples, nations, and tongues worshiping together on a Sunday morning
1077.
the body of our God
1078. thirty bundles of baby essentials, prepared to go to women and children around the world

sunday [15]

Sunday, June 3, 2012

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Joyfully you'll pull up buckets of water from the wells of salvation.
And as you do it, you'll say,
"Give thanks to God. Call out his name. Ask him anything!”
Shout to the nations, tell them what he's done,
spread the news of his great reputation!
Sing praise-songs to God. He's done it all!
Isaiah 12:3-5

a random friday five

Friday, June 1, 2012

1. Baby D’s birthday was on Wednesday. He spent the day with his mama, and when he came home he laughed and smiled and smelled like cake.

 

2. The husband and the older two children came home last night from a week helping his parents in Oklahoma. I’m going to be honest – I didn’t particularly miss him while he was gone. Three children 4 and under kind of helps you be busy enough and tired enough that I didn’t think about it too much. But now that he’s back? Ahh. My heart is simultaneously lighter and so very, very full. I am at peace, and I am unspeakably glad that they’re home. The swooniness (of course that’s a word) of seeing my husband after a week away – that’s my very favorite feeling right now. I can’t wait until he comes home tonight.

 

3. In other vacation news, my eldest son’s third or fourth sentence to me last night when they came in: “Wow, Mama. You did a really nice job of keeping the house neat and clean while we were gone.”

Really?

That’s probably all I’m going to type about that.

 

4. Dawson’s Creek is on Netflix now. I’m not going to try and defend my guilty pleasure viewing choices, but I watched every episode of this show when it was on TV. It makes me feel happy like it’s 1999 in spite of the fact that it’s really kind of terrible. The acting, the editing gaffs, the writing….it’s just not very good.

Shining moments in case you’re interested in viewing it again:
Joshua Jackson. Long time crush of mine, and he has definitely improved with age, but he makes me smile even though I’m not sure he was shaving yet when he taped this show. Also, Michelle Williams. Even in a teeny-bopper program with less-than-stellar writing, she shines. She is a superb actress, and it shows.

 

5. Did I mention my husband is home? I know I already listed this, but it’s worth mentioning again. He. is. home. Joy.

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