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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Hit Your Holiday Outta the Park: A Baseball Fan Gift Guide

Happy Holidays Baseball Loving families! If you're feeling like you're a little down in the count today with your gift list, we've got all your bases covered.

(My apologies. The puns were just right there. You know? Right in my wheelhouse.)

Take a look at some fun and creative gift ideas that will make ball players of any age smile.


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Farewell, Mr. President.

Dear Mr. President,

In the past five days there have been hundreds of articles written about you by people of great import and experience. There are those with degrees and resumes that boast some of the most powerful positions in the world who are uniquely qualified to speak of you. Political commentators, presidential biographers, former cabinet members, world leaders, and personal friends are remembering and reminding the world of your kindness, your character, your wisdom, your strength, and of course, of the far reaching impact your leadership had on our people, our country, and our world.

And I'm just a girl who lives in the suburbs of Washington DC, attends a few basketball or baseball games a week, and raises and loves three boys and one husband. I go to church and volunteer. I vote and I drive an SUV. I love Jesus, my country, my family, and my friends. And, as I know you did, I have a tendency to write all my feelings down. It seems I've got a lot of them this week, as I always anticipated I would at the time of your passing.

No one will ask me to speak on a panel about you. And yet, so many times over the years I have spoken about you as if you were a member of my family. I have effectively given you the credit for this beautifully basic life that I have built away from our beloved Texas . . . a life, which I remind myself often, is in the very fact of its ordinary-ness, quite extraordinary.

Now, I imagine you would correct me on this point, reminding me that it wasn't really you. It was really the God we both worship - the One with whom you sit in glory today, the One who directs all our paths, and the One who holds our future - who brought me to Washington, DC. He, of course, gave me this life. But as we have heard over and over this week, our God used you in many ways to change the course of the world and as He can handle both big and small things, He used you to help change the course of my little life, too.

I moved from Austin, Texas to Washington DC in 1992 with a degree in Political Science under my belt. It was you who inspired that degree. It was the prospect of your re-election that brought me here. As a certified homebody, I was terrified to be away from my family, but I knew I needed to leave, if just for a bit to prove to myself that I could. I believed so completely and devotedly in who you were and that you should continue to be our president that I drove my Volkswagen across the country, hopped on the Metro, and found myself downtown outside of your campaign headquarters. I volunteered for a couple of weeks there, sitting in a small room to man a phone with a number that was very clearly saved for the VIPs in the party.

(That's actually sarcasm, Sir. You know it well. I think that phone might have rung twice in those weeks.)

Eventually I found myself a position - if it could even be called a position - in the lowest depths of the Republican National Committee's office. I was so far down the food chain that I had to push the button on the elevator, not for B1, but for B2. I was literally in the basement of the basement.

In the desk next to me was a boy who made me laugh as I opened mail and calculated small donor checks. Just about every day he offered to ride the elevator up to B1 to get me a diet Coke and never took my money. He recognized when I had gotten my hair cut (for the first and last time ever, I might point out) and invited me to eat lunch in the park around the corner from our building. He drove a jeep which I thought was the coolest thing ever. We ate Mexican food at a very fancy restaurant where you had to walk through the kitchen to get to the bathroom and watched Fletch on our first date. Along with other recent college graduates working on the Hill, we met at the bar down the street after work, shot pool, fed quarters into a jukebox, and believed with our entire hearts that you would lead us for the next four years.

The loss of the election hit me really hard. It wasn't that I felt I had personally failed at some political strategy to help you get re-elected. (Did I mention B2?). It was because of a host of other reasons that it took me awhile to understand.

I vividly remember that the morning after Election Day was grey and dismal in Washington DC. It was a true reflection of how I felt. I remember walking around the city with a friend completely stunned and very, very sad. I remember how we stopped to see the headline of The Washington Times in one of those coin operated machines on the street that you don't see anymore. The headline, "President Clinton: Bush ousted in Electoral College Landslide" made my stomach drop and tears well up in my eyes. I was so young and so confused.

I look back now and realize that the devastation I felt had as much to do with how much I thought you should be President as with the crushing realization that there were people out there who did not agree with me. I mean, what??!! I simply couldn't understand it and it was a lesson that I needed desperately to learn. I was so sure, so idealistic, so dismissive of polls that said that you could very likely lose. And yet, this reality was something I needed to know. There are people who don't view the world as I do. There are people who don't believe that my way is the best way. And in this case, it was the majority of the people. I was flabbergasted. It's almost funny now to look back and see how shocking this realization was to my naive 23 year old self.

In the end, I watched how you handled disagreements and defeat graciously and humbly. I watched how our country was resilient and strong enough to peacefully handle change. I found that I, too, could be on the losing side and come out okay. Essentially, I learned that I could disagree with folks - even those who live in my own house - and still find that they were good, decent, loving people, too. I found that relationships were more important than always being right.

I had intended to go back to Texas after the election, but there was the problem of that boy. I decided to stay an extra six months because I wasn't sure I wanted him to live a life without me in it. Turns out I didn't let him. I've been here twenty-six years now. After we got married, we walked into our reception and there you stood.


My parents had set up a life size cutout of you on the dance floor at our wedding reception. We laughed and thanked "you" for being our matchmaker.

We couldn't swing watching your service today live, so we promised each other we would wait to watch until later so that we could be together. We will watch it in its entirety. We won't miss a minute. Historians and world leaders will stand and thank you today. They will remind us that our country is better because of you.

But I don't need them to tell me because I have always known.

So when we watch the nation bid farewell to you, I will whisper the same to the heavens as I have many times before.

Thank you, George Herbert Walker Bush. I came to this place because of you. I met this man because of you. I have this family because of you. My story is what it is because of you. I am forever grateful. Rest well, sir.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

NVTBL: Finding Gratitude in the Midst of Muddy Cleats

I am a girl. A girly-girl. I like girl things. I like clean, sweet-smelling things. I like manicures and facials. I like beauty products and bubble baths. I like shopping and shoes. I REALLY like shoes. And what am I thankful for?

I am thankful for mud-caked spikes and sweaty jerseys. I'm thankful for baseball pants that I know were white when I bought them and now would take some sort of yet to be invented maximum supreme strength oxi-clean to get them back to what they used to be. I'm thankful for that wet, dirty dog smell that comes whizzing by me when they come in from playing whiffle ball in the field next to our house. 


Friday, November 16, 2018

5 Friday Favorites: November 16, 2018

Happy Friday, Friends. 

It's time for my Friday link up with A Little Bit of EverythingGrace and Love, and Momfessionals

On Fridays I share things that made me happy from the week - a photo, a song, a quote, a beauty product, a recipe, a pair of cute shoes, etc. If it's a product, sometimes it's something I actually own and sometimes something I just saw online that gave me a smile. Sometimes it's serious and sometimes it's silly. I suppose I believe that God is in the simple details of life and yes, I can even find Him in a tube of lipstick. 

Well, it's been a minute, huh? I've not been in this space much lately and I've missed a few Friday Favorites in a row so in this one we'll cover some favorites from the past few weeks.

1. A Trip To Texas

Kyle and I found that we had a weekend open before the High School basketball season started with nothing on the schedule, so we planned a trip to Texas to see my parents in my hometown and a side trip to Austin to see my brother and his kiddos and go to the Texas vs. West Virginia game.

Unfortunately, Steve and Drew couldn't join us since they had his final fall baseball tournament in North Carolina and Joe is doing that college education thing, so the two of us took off together. I highly recommend getting some one on one time with each of your kids. While you don't have to take a trip to Austin to do it, I do recommend that because it is hands down the best city in the world.

The weather was glorious and I was absolutely bursting with joy walking around campus and seeing all my people decked out in burnt orange. I was able to catch up with a bunch of my sorority sisters which was the absolute best.

Kyle and I basically did not miss a meal nor did we miss an in-between-meals meal. Did I eat Tex-Mex three times in 36 hours? Yes, I did. Did I eat BBQ, Pepperoni Rolls dipped in ranch dressing and Whataburger and . . . wait for it . . . a Steak Finger Basket from Dairy Queen? Unfortunately, yes, I did. This is not something I necessarily recommend, but it was what it was.

Here's the thing about spending time one on one, Mamas. You don't have to try that hard. Don't have an expectation that you're going to have some amazing moment of connection with your teenager. You don't always need to push for a deep conversation. You don't always have to try to fill the silent moments. (Be assured that with boys there can be long stretches of silent moments.) Talk about football or food or movies or maybe even spend some time ranking burgers from Five Guys, Whataburger, and In and Out. Or just zip it, lady. Walk quietly side by side. See him. Sometimes we're so busy trying to teach them something or thinking we need to pull some deep feelings out of them that we stop seeing them. These seemingly mundane conversations and these awkward silences are meaningful and important and they can make beautiful memories for both of you.

And here's where I tell you that we actually lost the game in the last minute when West Virginia decided to go for a two point conversion for the win instead of kicking the extra point for the tie to force overtime. And I think we can all agree that I have come a long way because I was so happy to be in my stadium with my people that I actually handled the loss surprisingly well. It was kinda weird. But as I walked out of the stadium, I looked over and saw this beauty and I felt like all was right in the world.

I will say, however, that for at least a week I would find myself at random moments picturing that quarterback basically walking into the end zone and wondering how in the actual heck we couldn't figure out how to tackle that darn guy. So, maybe I haven't come so far after all.

2. Lauren Daigle's Album (ALL OF IT)
especially Love Like This

I have listened to this song 300 times or more and I am not even close to tired of it. As I came back from Texas on the plane with so much gratitude for my family and the amazing time we had I listened to it over and over with tears streaming down my face. It's just so beautiful I can't get over it.

3. Educated 
by Tara Westover

Y'all. This book IS SO GOOD. If you liked The Glass Castle you'll like this one. Fascinating story, very well written. Maybe the best book I've read this year.

4. Greenheart Juice

I've mentioned Greenheart Juice before and I'm so excited that they now have a shop not too far away from me in Aldie, Virginia. Their juices are so good. My favorites are the Sassy Sunshine - especially great if you're fighting a cold - and the Glorious Greens. Last week a couple of my girls and I went to their adorable new space for breakfast and I ordered an Acai Bowl even thought I didn't know how to pronounce Acai. I can tell you that I wasn't sure exactly what all was in it, but it was amazing. I highly recommend a trip down 50 west to their shop in Aldie if you're in my area.

5. Miss Spa Facial Sheet Masks

Ok. I can't exactly tell you that these facial sheet masks are technically a favorite yet, but I am full of hope and anticipation for how they will change my life. I chose the Bee Venom because I am a sucker for some weirdo ingredient which might tell you the desperation that I'm feeling about my face these days. Does venom seem a little aggressive? Perhaps, yes. I don't think there's time for passivity anymore, friends. Also, these are really cheap. You can get four for $10.00 on Amazon, but you can also buy them individually for close to nothing at CVS or Target.

That's it for today. Have a great weekend and Happy Thanksgiving!

Disclosure: The View From Behind Home Plate is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn small fees by linking to Post might contain other affiliate links as well.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Happiest 14th Birthday to our Exclamation Point!!

The first time I wrote you a "birthday blog" I described you as the exclamation point at the end of the sentence that is our family.

I wasn't wrong about that. You were and are the most of the most-est.

The littlest nose
The fiercest tantrums
The widest smile
The heartiest laugh
The tightest hugs
The squishiest cheeks
The freckliest face
The brightest red hair
The loudest voice
The biggest heart

You are the most intense competitor, the most passionate feeler, the most present force in the room. The most of the most in every way.

We planned for you and yet God still found a way to give us the most delightfully surprising gift in creating you to be who you are. You are a lot, my littlest boy, in the absolute bestest way. . . in the way that proves that God gives more than we could ever ask or imagine, so much more love than we could possibly deserve, and exactly what we need to light up our every day.

The gift of you never stops giving. Keep on being the most of most.

Happy 14th, Drew Christopher. We are so very grateful you are ours.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Case for Lois & Eunice: A Devotional on 2 Timothy

My Lois: Era Mae Connor Pratt (Mae)

As I have mentioned before I'm part of a team of writers at my church who pen devotionals to coincide with our pastor's sermon series. I love tackling different verses of the Bible and trying to determine what God wants me to hear from each word in His Word.

Perhaps you've heard of Lois and Eunice. Perhaps like me, you were surprised to hear they were mentioned in the Bible at all, as frankly, they just sound like a couple of ladies that might be members of your grandma's Tuesday Morning Bridge Club. In fact, that is exactly who they could be. And that makes them very, very important to the story God is writing for His Kingdom.

Happy Wednesday to all the Loises and Eunices and Timothys. I hope this devotional blesses you today.

My Lois: Helen Margaret Durkin Harbison(Peggy)

"I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline." - 2 Timothy 1:5-7

Very recently, in a conversation with Pastor Chris, I was asked to name my favorite Bible character. It's a compelling question that I've heard asked a number of times over the years in various small groups and Bible studies.

The rule of this question is that you aren't allowed to go with Jesus because DUH. Therefore, I've heard mention of Paul, Esther, Noah, Ruth, Peter, Mary, David, and so many others. The list of worthy heroes and heroines is long and varied.

Curiously though, I've never once heard someone offer, "I'm gonna go with Lois and Eunice. Hands down favorites."

Until a few years ago, I would have bet you all I had that there was neither a Lois nor a Eunice in the entirety of the Bible. Then I read Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson, a book which highlights women in the Bible to discuss the importance of nurturing relationships with people of all generations - those behind us, beside us, and in front of us. And lo and behold, I realized that although the quick mention of these two women might seem to be insignificant to the story, the reality is that God's Word doesn't work like that. 

You see, when I start to think about it, I've got a lot of Loises in my life. When I was young they were my grandmothers, Peggy and Mae. While they are in heaven now, I'm blessed through Arcola Church to have found some new ones. I sit with them in my Wednesday morning Bible Study. My new Loises include women named Celia and Ruth and Cornelia. My Eunices include my mom, Patsy, as well as a host of other women who have over the many years of my life poured love and grace and a sincere faith into me. And in fact, I can be a Eunice myself now, both to my boys as well as to a host of others.

All this name dropping to say that the point is that the Lord uses all of us. We might not look like heroes who can slay a giant with a sling and a stone or who can part the Red Sea with the raising of a staff, but we can pass down a sincere, genuine, strong faith to the people around us. We are meant to be in relationship, not only with our own children and grandchildren, parents and grandparents, but with folks of all generations in our neighborhoods, schools, churches, and the greater community.

What those two women teach us is that we are as important to God's purposes as anyone else in the world. For those of us that might not feel significant or who might feel we have no influence because we aren't out serving the Lord in Third World countries or standing in front of hundreds behind a pulpit, the story of these women shuts that foolishness down. There is not one of us who isn't called to make a difference for the kingdom. We are meant to stay engaged in the lives of God's people,  pointing those both behind and ahead of us to Jesus. As Sophie Hudson writes, "The areas where we are wise are meant to intersect with someone else's questions. The areas where someone else is wise are meant to intersect with our questions."

Lois and Eunice knew that God did not give them  a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and self-discipline, so they set about the work of pouring their sincere faith into Timothy. I would venture to guess that we wouldn't find two books of the New Testament bearing his name had they not gone about that work with obedience.

So today, I'm going to set out to look for Timothys. I'm going to remember that my life is crucial to the story that God is writing for His people. And I'm going to have a new answer to Pastor Chris's question.

Holy Lord, we thank You for each and every word of the Bible and for each and every name mentioned. We ask You to help us see ourselves in the lives of these characters and to understand what it is You want us to learn from them. Help us to seek out Your people today - those from whom we can learn and those whom we can teach. Let a sincere faith live in us so that we might pour that faith into those around us. Amen.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

What's Up Wednesday: October 2018 Edition

I'm linking up with Sheaffer Told Me To The Larson Lingo and Mix and Match Mama for What's Up Wednesday today.

What We're Eating This Week

I've been back on a smoothie kick. Mostly, it's this one from a recipe that the lovely and talented Mrs. C. created. Often I add this powder to it because I read it's good for a million things and sometimes I actually have a tendency to believe everything I read.

What I'm Reminiscing About

Sadly, it appears we've come to a time in our family when we almost forgot that it was Halloween today. The kids haven't mentioned it and I didn't get a pumpkin and as of this morning I still do not have candy to give out, so I'm reminiscing about a time when we counted the days until Halloween and the kids were bursting with excitement about Trick or Treating. This was one of my favorite years when the boys all dressed up the last time the Sox won the Series in 2013. 

What I'm Loving

A Red Sox World Series win. There are a lot of members of my family who are still recovering from sleep deprivation after watching every minute of the World Series last week which included an 18 inning game that lasted until 3:30 am EST. There were group texts flying around among us until the wee hours of the morning and Drew was late to school more than once during the play-offs which means our parenting is suspect, but it is what it is. My favorite part of the World Series by far is watching the celebration and this year it was watching the players and their sweet kids. Brock Holt's little boy imitating his dad in the photo above is the cutest thing I've ever seen. And, also I have watched this video of Jackie Bradley Jr.'s daughter telling everyone who her daddy is no less than seven times. I promise you that it is worth your two minutes. I mean, is that little girl a dream or what?

What We've Been Up To

Kyle and I are in our last year as members of Young Mens Service League, a mother-son organization that serves various charities in the community. On Sunday, we went out to JK Community Farms in Purcellville, Virginia and I was so impressed with this huge farm that provides organic fruits, vegetables, and protein to families facing food insecurity in our area. In 2018, they yielded 52,580 pounds of fresh produce. We followed Farmer Mike's directions and though I didn't exactly know what I was doing, I did know was I was pulling up plants and plastic sheeting, getting really dirty, breathing in real air and thanking the Lord for farmers. Turns out we were winterizing the pepper plot which makes me feel really important. If you're looking for a fun way your family can volunteer together I highly suggest the farm. You can look at volunteer opportunities here. Also, I would suggest you get someone more adept at selfies than yours truly to take your pictures and maybe bring along a teenager who will help you in that endeavor rather than laugh at you.

What I'm Dreading 

Not much. Maybe cold weather? But November is beautiful in Virginia so I'll skip the dreading.

What I'm Working On

I'm writing a devotional for our pastor's sermon series on 2 Timothy in which there is a very, very quick mention of Lois and Eunice, Timothy's grandmother and mother. These are two names that I had never known were in the Bible until I read Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson a couple of years ago, so I pulled out the book which talks about the importance of fostering relationships between generations to reread some of it this week. All of Sophie's books are a delight to read and include her hilarious stories, but this one has some really important messages about our significance to our community no matter our age. I highly recommend it.

What I'm Excited About

From Texas Football Facebook Page

Kyle and I are on our way to Texas tomorrow to visit my family and watch the Texas Longhorns beat the West Virginia Mountaineers. I can't wait to get to Austin, see my brother and his kids, eat some legit Tex-Mex, wander my beautiful campus and sit among my people at Darryl K Royal stadium. It's going to be an embarrassing level of joy for me.

What I'm Watching

Like most of the rest of America, we are fully in the tank for This is Us. Drew and I also like The Good Place, but for the most part it's been all college football and the World Series around here. Luckily, the NBA has started so ESPN will get as much love as usual from the Skinner Fam.

What I'm Reading

This book has been recommended to me a number of times and also seems to be on lots of "must read" lists. I bought it as soon as I finished Where the Crawdads Sing this weekend which was incredible. Go get it.

What I'm Listening To

This entire album (album? Do we still say that?) by Lauren Daigle is maybe one of the best compilations of music that I have heard in awhile. I mean there is not one song that I skip by. It is so good, you will be lifting your hands in the air and praising the Lord while you're jogging through your neighborhood. Or maybe that's just me? Okay. Anyway, I love these songs.

What I'm Wearing

I've been wearing this top I got from my last Stitch Fix box and I love it. See my final Stitch Fix Review here.

What I'm Doing This Weekend

Some of this:

And a lot of this:

What I'm Looking Forward To Next Month

Tryouts for Kyle's final senior season of high school basketball start next week, so I am praying that God willing we'll get to enjoy every minute of watching him and his teammates on the court. I cannot wait.
What Else Is New

Not a lot. Just trying to find gratitude in the extraordinary ordinary days.  Happy November, Friends.
Thanks for stopping by.

Disclosure: The View From Behind Home Plate is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn small fees by linking to Post might contain other affiliate links as well.