Monday, August 17, 2009

The All American Pastime


Yep, who doesn't love a great baseball game? Well, truth be told, I am not CRAZY about them, but I do enjoy the occasional run around the diamond. Up until now, the little ladybugs had expressed no interest in being taken out to the ballgame. But, as we all know, they grow, they learn, they hear...they wanted to live out the words to the tune..."buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks, I don't care if I ever get back."

You get the picture.

So, in a very impromptu decision, we headed off the city of brotherly love to catch an evening of good ol' American fun. Or so we thought.

We walked through the parking lot holding hands and singing (yes, really we did) but alas the story turns ugly quickly. We crossed the threshold to the ticketing center, everyone is all smiles. We are dressed accordingly in our cherry and white. The children appeared downright eager and a bit shiny, happy, if I do say so myself.

Rob steps up, he swings, and it's SOLD OUT!

We had not once taken into consideration the team we were about to try to see were world champions. Can you hear the crickets chirping? Dead silence, as Rob turned and looked at me. We felt like Chevy Chase in a bad scene from Vacation, and the happy, shiny children were not yet aware that we were being turned away.

And then, as she processed what the ticket man had said, Emily looks up at her daddy, makes contact with the reality, and busts into yes, THE UGLY CRY!

Oh no.

This was NOT the evening we had envisioned. Something inside of me wanted to assure her that peanuts and crackerjacks were really bad for her teeth, and the team might lose anyway, but I kept my silent vigil and slowly began to inch toward a concrete pillar, so I could just hear her sobs. Hannah, following my lead, stepped quickly to stand on my feet, as her sister was beginning to scare her. What is up with the little red-headed girl? I knew what was up with the little red-headed girl, she wanted to see her first baseball game, so I prayed. I did not pray we would get in, I prayed Em's heart would be soothed, and that His will would be done that night; and I prayed He would forgive me for my sports ignorance and poor planning.

Gleeful people passed us as they went to the will-call booth and other ticket windows only to be turned away and assured there were no tickets. After what seemed like an eternity, Rob stepped back, placed his arms around Emily and began working his way toward Hannah and I, when he stopped him.

The ticket man in window 6.

He said the little red-haired girl was "breaking his heart".

Rob stepped forward. The man was whispering, then he was up and moving, then he was discussing, first with one person, then with two, then he had an assortment of persons discussing at box 6. Then, as quickly as we had been denied, he waved us forward, issuing "standing room only" tickets.

A manager came to escort us in, he showed us to the customer service area to get "MY FIRST GAME" certificates for the girls. We promptly bought some very-bad-for-you cotton candy and a token stuffed bear that plays "All-Star". We settled in right behind the third baseline, where the little red-haired girl, in all her glory, watched the entire game and cheered that team, regardless of the score. Even telling those award winning Phils, "It is okay." when they lost miserably.

There are many morals to this story and some may begin with tips on perfect parenting and planning, however we all know no perfect parent exists, and that lesson in and of itself is incredibly valuable. Yet, I must offer, I am far more intrigued with the kind man in ticket booth six. His willingness to allow his heart to choose his path was rather moving. It was obvious that he chose to speak to his superiors not because we insisted or stomped our feet, but because he saw in that child, his own child. He knew he may get refused, but he tried anyway. And he blessed a family he did not know.

Consequently, I wrote the baseball organization with a personal thank you detailing the events of that night. And I got a personal response from the ticket man in window six. I will just say the only strike-outs that happened that evening were on the field, our family and the man in window six were blessed beyond measure.

"Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up our neighbor." Romans 15:2

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Merry-Go-Round

"Childhood is a short season." ~ Helen Hayes

It is a short season. It seemed like when we were young we were invincible. Ghosts in the Graveyard and Run the Bases occupied our summer nights. Teachers and tests replaced our games in the fall. Trips to the amusement park never seemed to get old and certainly the carousel was never too childish. After all, gathering the most rings was really fun :)

An afternoon spent under our big pin oak in our side yard was utter joy. My dad would scoop up hoards of leaves in the fall and we'd roll down the hill, landing straightaway in the middle of that mountain of dust and mold...and we called it fun! My cousins and I played endlessly with the classic Barbie dolls, we played Make me Laugh until we cried, we laughed so hard.

I would be lying if I said I didn't miss those days. Most definitely, my days have been replaced with a different kind of fun...I now see delight through the eyes of Emily and Hannah. But, every now and again, when the wind whips through my hair and I run like a child, I remember the moments of my own childhood. The ones that shaped me and blessed me more than I ever realized until I had children of my own. I noticed as I rooted through pictures that some of my very favorite shots were taken on the merry-go-round. I thought of how ironic it was that Rob and I had our favorite wedding picture captured on a spinning carousel. Foreshadowing? Nah.

When we are little we enjoy the cacophony of music and motion as the carousel moves round and round, up and down. Adulthood is not so different. Round and round, up and down...can you relate? It is just a different sensation now. I think I'd choose to go back to my childhood love of the carousel, which does not include the complexities of worry and fear that our adult version includes. was simpler. And it was indeed, short.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Window of Time

Max Lucado said the following about marriage, speaking of his parents married over 40 years when his dad went home to the Lord...

"What they had was a forever marriage - a marriage in which two people, eyeball to eyeball, say I’m going to love you when I don’t feel like loving you. I’m going to love you when you’re sick. When we have money and when we don’t. I’m going to love you forever.
Marriage demands the greatest level of tenacity and talent and tenderness that any human being can summon."

I don't know about you, but that is the marriage I is the marriage I vowed to live. Forever.

Eight years ago, today, I said "I do!" to my sweet husband. And he said the same to me. I love this picture of my nieces and I, as we waited in the bridal room for our guests to arrive. If I could have taken a peek into our future, just as I glanced out this window, I would have been surprised at some of the things we would face as we began our married life.

These eight years have had their share of difficult circumstances, but overriding all of that has been a tremendous amount of joy. We have weathered financial strain, joblessness, death, construction, accidents, family turmoil and illness. In fact, the summer we were married, I removed myself from an annual mission trip to tend to some serious concerns with my Chrohn's disease. As I recall, it was my soon-to-be husband who took on that storm and never once left my side. Several of our grown-up youth recently reminded me of this. Why was it so important to them? They told us with weepy eyes that it set the standard for expectations in suitors for themselves.

In these eight years, we began sharing a home, a life...we were blessed with a beautiful baby girl, blessed again with a little beauty from China, added a roomy addition to the home Rob built, made new friends, restored ties with old friends, honored one another, and our children and are seeking so much more. We have learned about communication and cooperation. We have learned about disappointment and navigating the curveballs thrown our way with grace and dignity. We have learned about resting and renewing. We have learned acceptance, in it's truest form, and the meaning of unconditional love. All that to say, we don't always do it right ;) but we are striving for it every single day.

So, as I peek out the window to see what is out there for us now, I see so many more years in this life that we love. I see us better, smarter, stronger, definitely older but hopefully wiser, more faithful and prayerfully more in love than ever.

Happy Anniversary, honey. I love you!


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