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Monday, June 24, 2013

Remembering that He's Big Enough (Again)

Good Morning, People.
More copying and pasting this morning as I am just back in town from a weekend tournament in Delaware and drowning in laundry this morning.  All-Star baseball is in full swing again here - we've got one coach and two players in the house - so I'm pulling my thoughts from two years ago to post here today.  Have a blessed Monday.

From July 2012;
I wrote the following last summer after the Virginia State Little League Baseball Tournament. My oldest, Joe, played on the All-Star Team and my husband was the coach of the team.  Our league is young and we had not had great success in past years in the tournament.  Much to our surprise and delight, our boys rolled through the District 16 tournament winning the first District Championship for our league.  The team went on to the Virginia State Tournament and went undefeated in pool play, only to lose in the quarterfinals.  It was an exhausting and exhilirating experience for our family and friends.  I found myself praying a lot...seemingly mundane requests, but requests that I know my God heard. 

As Tim Tebow and his faith made a splash in the NFL last season, sports radio and tv blew up with debate about whether or not God has the time or the inclination to care about football or sports in general.  All of that reminded me of last summer when I wrote this.  My contention is that God is not small.  He is not stressed out with the millions of prayers He hears, sending certain pleas to His SPAM file and labeling others with bold "!!!".  He might not care specifically about RBIs or touchdowns, but I believe He deeply cares about His people.  He meets us where we are and He cares about what is important to us. 

All-Star season begins this week and I am trying to take deep breaths in preparation. My husband has the honor of coaching the 11/12 year old team again this summer. My middle man, Kyle, will play on the 10/11 team - not on his dad's team.  So my prayers will begin in earnest again...for my husband, for the other coaches, for the players and for the families.  I won't put my God in a box.  I will lift my voice to Him and I will know that He is big enough to hear me.

From July 2011:
Not too big, but big enough
“And even though my issues seem trivial, You alone are never too imperial”
From the song, Big Enough, by Ayiesha Woods
I pray a lot.  I pray for big things and small things.  I pray in the shower and in the car, when I’m running and when my eyes are heavy with sleep.  This summer I have prayed for a friend’s 18 year old niece battling cancer, a little 4 year old boy who survived a car accident that his mother, father and 2 year old brother did not, and for a father serving in Afghanistan away from his wife and two young sons.  But the overwhelming majority of my prayers this summer took place sitting in metal bleachers behind home plate and they had to do with one subject:  Baseball.

There are soldiers facing guns and death and enemies I will never comprehend.  There are mothers sitting by the bedside of a dying child.  There are families suffering divorce and brokenness.  And isn’t my God too busy, too important, too big to listen to a mother of a healthy 12 year old  boy plead for courage and a steady swing when her son is faced with a curve ball from a Little League pitcher?  I have found, most assuredly, that He is not.  He is important enough.  He is big enough to hear every plea, every heart’s desire, every shaky voice of a nervous mom and wife, an anxious coach and dad or a determined young athlete.  I found that He listened to every word I spoke this summer.  He might not have given me what I thought I wanted every time, although many, many times He did.  I know that He watched in delight like so many of our fans did these past few weeks.  He saw the plays, the errors, the hits and He saw a mom and wife’s fears, hopes, worries and pride.

I had some disagreements with my manager/husband during this run, I will admit.  How much was too much practice?  Don’t they need a break?  Have you ever heard of burnout? Who is he, Cal Ripken? When you say practice ends at 8:00, it should end at 8:00. What exactly do you want him to do all day if he can’t go to the pool for more than an hour and he can’t go out in the heat for long?  In the end, he was the coach and I was not.  But I did feel better at least venting. (very quietly and respectfully though and with only the occasional eye-roll, ahem.)  We weathered the strain.  We had one date night during that time, in which we ate sushi and discussed pitch counts, batting orders and field positions.  It was quite romantic. And again, I prayed.  I prayed to hold my tongue.  I prayed for my marriage. I prayed that the younger boys in my house would feel as important as the oldest.   I prayed for my husband’s stress level.  I prayed, Dear Lord, that he would have a job at the end of this.  I prayed that my husband and I would still have friends when this was all over!

What I do know is that my manager/husband might have had an earful from his loving wife, but he did not hear a single complaint from a player.  The boys worked hard day after day after day when many of their friends were having late night sleepovers, beach trips and camps.  They suited up in those hot polyester baseball pants and they showed up every single day.  They endured Moms spraying buckets of sunscreen on them and swatted those persistent little gnats away in the outfield.  And as for the player that lived in my house, I never heard him sigh or argue when it was time to get ready yet again for practice.  They practiced with intention, kept their heads in the game and had immense faith in their teammates.  Mine wasn’t a starter, but he was all in, as was every last player on the team.  And again, I prayed.  I prayed that my son wouldn’t feel too much pressure.  I prayed for each and every boy.  I prayed that each one would get a moment to make an important play or at bat or base run.  God answered that prayer.  Every player had a moment.  Not one boy quit trying and believing that he could make a difference for his teammates.  I could see it on each face.

I am grateful for the parents and their support of my family. I am grateful for fans who showed up.  I am immensely grateful that if there was any grumbling or second guessing of the coaches, it was kept from me.  I am grateful for well-wishers from around the country who texted and emailed and called in their support for our boys from miles and miles away.  It seemed that every man from 30-70 years old that I knew was pulled in to the excitement with memories of his own Little League experience dancing in his head. I am grateful that God loves and delights in each and every player around the world who is playing and has played this game.

And then the end came.  Compared to so many Little League players’ experience, our end was long in coming, yet it still seemed too soon for us.  I watched as the boys and their coaches lingered on the field, having trouble convincing their feet to move their worn cleats off the green grass of the outfield.  As my boy faced the end of the run for a State Championship and walked up to accept a handshake from the Tournament Director, though he had been told to “keep his head up”, his head was slightly facing the ground.   His eyes were blinking back tears and his mama watched with a heavy heart.  He shook the hand, accepted the pin and turned away.  Quickly, but surely, I watched my boy tap his chest, raise his head and point to the sky where the sun was setting over the trees behind left field.  He knew His God was big enough to ask and he knew his God was big enough to thank in every circumstance.  This mama was as happy and as proud as if those hands had swung the bat to hit the ball over the fence.  He had understood the gift he was given this summer and he was grateful to the One who rejoices in his victories and consoles in his defeats.   Our God is more than big enough.  He gave us a big, giant gift this summer and my little brood of boys and I will remember and be grateful for it and for all of the players, coaches, and families that came with it forever.

PS.  A big shout out to my pastor who was gracious enough to surprise me with including this on our church website last summer.  I was humbled and I think it just might have given me a little kick in the pants to find a place for these ramblings of mine.  Thanks, Pastor C.

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