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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Checking In & Some Baseball Archives

Well, Baseball Season has finally begun in earnest around here and that usually means that I am locked in on the practice and game schedule, looking for lost water bottles and keeping the oxi clean supply in check. Unfortunately, even though we are well into the high school baseball season, one of my favorite days of the year, Little League Opening Day was canceled last Saturday due to the weather forecast. This was a gigantic bummer in Skinner World. Facebook reminded me of the last time this happened which was five years ago when we got the ceremony in only to have the games later that day canceled. This little Rookie Yankee handled it very well as you can see.

In reality, this year the free day was a blessing in disguise for a family who has about 753 items on a To Do list since we are moving in less than two weeks. So I spent the day digging into cabinets that haven't been opened in a very long time. I also spent quite a bit of that day talking to my engaged to be married 25 year old self. Why did she waltz herself into Crate and Barrel in 1994 and register for 12 champagne flutes, 12 high ball glasses and 12 beer pilsners?

(And also, why was she likely wearing high waisted faded denim jeans and a mock turtleneck?)

If we could time-machine it back to that day, I would have to have a talk with her.

"Look, sister. You will need forks, knives and spoons. You will certainly need wine glasses. But by the time you and that guy have enough money to throw a fancy party you will be knee deep in doubleheaders and baseball dirt up to your eyeballs. You will have friends who you will love with your whole heart because they are just as happy as can be to load onto your porch and drink out of wine glasses from Target and solo cups. You will never learn to like champagne. That crystal jelly jar?  Are you kidding? You will be squirting Welch's out of a plastic bottle. You will love a fancy night out every once in awhile, but the key word there is "OUT". Settle down, Betty Draper."

Anyway, I have to get back to berating my former misguided self and packing up some more stuff. I have missed writing desperately, but I just cannot find the time to sit here very long and do it. So I thought I'd reach back into the archives this week to celebrate the beginning of the 2016 Baseball Season.

Last  year, the sun shone bright on Opening Day, but the hearts of many of my friends and me were dark with fear. Our neighbor and buddy, Matt, has fought his little heart out this past year in a battle against cancer. Last week, Matt and his family were excited and relieved to be heading into their last two weeks of radiation, but found out that there will be another month tacked on. This is really frustrating when he and his family have been counting down the days until these treatments would be completed. Of course, they want to do the best for their son, but when the light at the end of the tunnel is shining so brightly only to be pushed further down the track, it can be so disheartening. Please continue to pray for Matt as you read last year's Opening Day post. 

Have a great day, Friends!

Sunshine and Hope on Opening Day - April 2015
It was Little League Opening Day on Saturday.  It is one of my favorite days of the year.  The sun shone bright and we almost forgot about the bitter winter we had endured.  My older boys have aged out of Little League, but the little man gets to start his first year in the Majors this season.  He, as my husband likes to say,  was "shot out of a cannon" as soon as he woke up.  I was to miss the opening ceremonies because I had to take Kyle to a basketball game, but I raced back to the park as quickly as I could to make it for Drew's first Little League game of the season.

I pulled into the full parking lot as if a child looking for Santa.  The ceremony was over but the park which had been empty and snow covered only weeks before was bustling with activity.  Lines of children snaked between moon bounces and food trucks.  Music blared and flags flew high over the fields.

This was a day my community needed.  After such a brutal winter, we deserved the bright morning and the changing of the season laid out before us.  Opening Day is the hope of pristine white pants (a hope that is dashed as soon as those cleats hit the grass).  It is the possibility of a winning season.  It's the promise of not one, not two, but three chances to swing for the fences.  I was ready for this. I barely had my car in park and I was ready to rip off the seat belt and run up to find a flame-haired, freckle-faced boy with black lines smeared under his eyes.  A boy who would adjust his catcher's mask with the utmost confidence that though he is small, he is fierce.  Opening Day is full of promise.

But I didn't hop out of the car right away.  I looked out at all those little children running through the grass and I had to take a minute to take a deep breath and to tell myself to focus on all the wonderful things that are wrapped up in the promise of Opening Day.

The sun and the spring bring us hope.  They bring us sweetness and light.  But I know, and my neighbors know, that even when flowers bud and birds sing, our world can still be full of bleak darkness.  Of sickness and fear and doubt.  Our little neighborhood received alarming news last week that one of our own is sick.  This is not a little boy I met due to volunteering with a childhood cancer charity.  This is a little boy who rides bikes down my alley and plays kickball in the street. The son of one of my friends who I've known for years.  A friend with whom I've sipped wine and discussed books.  One with whom I've shared block party potluck dishes and with whom I've worshipped.  She woke to the same bright sun that morning, but also to the harsh reality of a long journey ahead that she most certainly doesn't want to take with her boy.  So, I stayed in the car for a bit.  And I watched them.

Little boys everywhere.  Little boys running and jumping and sometimes tripping over each other.  Little boys wearing the smallest pants their mamas could find that still had to be cinched in at the waist and rolled up at the ankles.  And there were spunky little girls, too.  Little girls with ponytails pulled carefully through their new caps.  Children basking in the newness of spring.  Of hope.  Of light.  Of all the things children are supposed to be and do and have in a new season of their lives.

I stayed in the car and held tears down and I asked God to bring us a child-like faith.  A child-like hope.  A belief that even if you are the smallest, you can catch a fastball thrown or hit by the biggest.  That even if you are the weakest, you can connect with the red stitching on that baseball hurtling at you at lightening speed and send it through the gap.   That even when the opponent is formidable, if you rely on your team and your heart and your God, you can fight with courage you might never have known you had.

I asked Him to come to us on that gloriously beautiful day when our souls were feeling scared and dark to remind my friends and neighbors and me of the fact that faith is bigger than fear.  That hope is bigger than doubt.  And that in our weakness His power is made strong.

My little flame-haired, freckle-faced boy and I are praying mightily every night for our neighbor, Matt.  Might you join us?

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. -2 Corinthians 12:9

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