Baseball – For my Dad

My dad, after reading my blog, asked me why I can’t write about something fun and light, like baseball?  So dad, this is for you!

My dad is a New York Mets fan.  I grew up loving baseball, cheering for the Mets from our living room couch and on occasion, from Shea Stadium, sitting next to my dad.  I loved to keep score in the “official score book” when we went to games.  I felt important and smart that I knew what to write in those tiny boxes!  

Each Christmas for about 6 years, from middle school into high school, my dad would give me the Topps Baseball Card Set.  (I still have them).  I loved those cards!  I truly thought they would make me rich one day and I would never have to work or do anything but trade cards!  Ha Ha!  

Looking back, I think what I loved most about baseball was that it was something special I got do with my dad.  The game was fun, but it was more about the company.  As I grew older and drifted away from baseball and drifted away from spending time with my dad, those memories remained.  

“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”  (Tommy Lasorda)

Life has its ups and downs..  It is filled with home-runs and strike-outs, no hitters and pitching changes.  Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.  It is what you do each moment, each day that will pave the way for your season.  Joshua 1:8 tell us “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”  Like baseball, we must know the book of rules, we must follow the rules and practice daily to be successful.  With this book, God’s Word, we have the promise of everlasting life, our World Series Championship!

However, as we are all aware of, sometimes life changes pitchers, or throws in a pinch hitter and we don’t know what to do.  It wasn’t our plan.  We are lost and confused and are asking why.  Things were going so well before the change of players.  We must remember these words of Jesus from the book of John.  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  (chapter 16:33)

Jesus died for us.  He died for our transgressions.  All we can do is be grateful to Him and to live our lives for His glory.  We will not be perfect.  We will continue to mess up and disappoint.  We will make mistakes and everyday we will face temptations.  However, we need to do our very best to live a glorifying life for God.  It won’t be perfect, but it will be out best.  Tom Seaver stated so nicely, “In baseball, my theory is to strive for consistency, not to worry about the numbers. If you dwell on statistics you get shortsighted, if you aim for consistency, the numbers will be there at the end.”  He is exactly right.  Strive for consistency in your life.  Be a good example to your children and to  your neighbors and to your co-workers.  Don’t get hung up on the mistake you made at work last week or the hurtful words that came out to a friend at the PTA meeting last night.  Ask God for forgiveness and look at the bigger picture.  In the end, God’s Word will direct your life in a way that is good.  The numbers will be there!  

 

“You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too. “  (Roy Campanella)  

I do believe Roy Campanella’s statement above.  Without the spark and excitement of a child, you will lose the heart of the game.  Many major leaguers have lost this spark, but the ones who haven’t are the great ones!  Relating this to our faith, 1Corinthians states, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” (1Corinthians 13:11 & 14:20)

God wants us to grow in our faith into mature adults, men and women alike.  However, as our faith matures, our temptations increase.  In the same manner of maturing our faith with God, He asks us to regard sin, evil and temptation as if we were infants.  Infants do not know of these worldly things.  All they know is their basic needs, food, love and dependence.  God wants us to have a mature faith as adults, but rely on Him completely for all of our needs, and do not take part in sin, evil and temptations.  Play like a man, but keep the little boy in your heart too.  It’s a great way to remember our role that God has laid out for us.

Finally, as I wrap up my baseball blog, I encourage everyone to learn more.  Babe Ruth said, “Don’t be afraid to take advice.  There’s always something new to learn.”  Seek out the truth in the bible, in church, in small groups, in friends, neighbors, book studies, etc.  Life is not easy.  It can be enjoyable but it can also be terribly difficult.  Lean on God and use the people and resources He has placed around you to grow in your faith.  There is always more to learn, there is always more to do and there is always more ways to grow.  Don’t get stuck being content.  Stretch your spiritual limits.  Point your bat to the far wall of the outfield and them aim for the home-run!  You may make it or you may fall short.  Just do it and you won’t be disappointed!

Dad, I hope you enjoyed this blog about baseball!  Although I am now wearing a Yankee hat since my husband is a Yankee fan, my heart is still with the Mets of 1986!  I love you!

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Lean on Me

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:2 NIV  

When you hit rock bottom and have nothing to cling to but the Creator alone, that is when you learn how to trust God.  When life seems so impossible and you cannot figure out how to breath your next breath, that is when you learn how to trust God.  When you have never studied the bible, never opened it up aside from church, but that is where you are drawn and the only thing that will bring you comfort and hope, that is when you trust God.  When your world is upside down and you realize that you have control over nothing, that is when you trust God.

Losing my son almost 7 years ago put me in all of those situations, at once.  As devastating as his death was, what followed was unbearable at times.  Life went on for the world around us, but we were still stuck in this abyss of grief.  Friends and family went back to work, back to activities with their kids, back to the grind of daily living.  We were still.  We couldn’t move or breath.  

When we tried, we were punched in the gut.  For instance, I vividly remember the first time I went to Target after losing my son.  I went to grab the diaper bag…. expect I no longer needed it.  (Punched in the gut.)  I remember trying to set the table each night and seeing the place where my son’s booster seat was.  (Punched in the gut.)  I remember glancing back in my rear-view mirror in the “family van” we bought after I found out I was pregnant with my son.  I saw my beautiful daughter, but my son’s seat was empty.  (Punched in the gut.)  I could literally go on and on.  Everyday for years this feeling happened.

The other part of this journey was the feeling of being out of control.  When you are a person who feels like they have everything under control and you can handle whatever comes at you, and then your son is diagnosed with cancer, you learn quickly that you have no control over anything.  I was terrified.  Before he was sick, I would look at families suffering illness or tragedy and feel sorry for them, then I would think, “That could never happen to us.”  That was my security blanket of control that kept me sane.  When my son got sick, my security blanket was ripped out from under me and thrown away.  After he died, I had no control, no sense of security.  

I thought my husband would die in a car crash on the way to work.  I was afraid to send my daughter to school in case she fell off the playground and cracked her head open, etc.  The only fear I didn’t have was if I died.  (I probably would have welcomed that!) 

Over time, I learned that I still don’t have control.  (Not feeling warm and fuzzy yet, I know!) However, I learned to not fear as much.  I learned to let go of my fear and trust in God.  I started reading Scripture more and really digging deep into the meaning.  I started attending church regularly and reading books to learn more.  I couldn’t stop leaning on God.  I couldn’t stop hearing his messages and promises.  I needed more than ever to keep learning.  

As I began this spiritual journey, my grip on controlling my fears loosened.  Not all at once, but slowly.  My pain numbed, not all at once, but slowly.  My heart grew and my mind opened.  My trust in God blossomed and my faith exploded!

I realize more than ever that control is not something I was ever meant to have.  I also realize that fear is also something I was never meant to have.  These things I have given to God.  I am living a much more peaceful life since I have released these things to Him.  

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” Psalm 28:7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. Psalm 13:5

 

Whatever!

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content. – Helen Keller

So many people in today’s day and age want, want, want.  They want the better job, the bigger house, the better behaved children, the newest gaming system, the fancier car, the newest i-gadget, etc, etc, etc.  It is so much a “want hungry” society that it can make a person sick!  Greed is sinful and working to obtain that greed is sinful.  Whatever happened to contentment?  “Content literally means to be satisfied to the point where I am no longer disturbed or disquieted.” (Karen Ehman, Let it Go)

How often do you see  contented people around you?  We live in an “I want… I need…” society.  Turn on the television and it will tell you exactly what you want and need.  Drive down the parkway and you will find billboards telling you exactly what you want and need.  

As a first grade teacher and a mother, I try to teach my children to pray and be thankful.  We thank God everyday for the blessings he has given us.  It is on the most basic, primary level.  “Thank you God for the blessing you give to us each and everyday.  Thank you for my family, my home and for the food I have to eat.”  If each one of us went back to that simple, primary prayer, we might realize we have more than we need.  

“True contentment isn’t merely having what we want; it’s wanting nothing more than what we already have.” (Karen Ehman, Let it Go)

I feel completely blessed in every way.  I have a loving husband who works hard for our family and gives everything he has to give.  I have two beautiful girls who sometimes fight and argue, but they both have good hearts and are sweet girls learning to gain independence.  I have a son with the Lord whom I miss terribly, but I am so grateful that he is at peace and not suffering anymore.  I have a small, beautiful house and two reliable cars.  We have enough money to put food on the table everyday and even head out to dinner once in a while.  We are not rich.  We don’t take extravagant vacations.  We sometimes wonder how we will get a bill paid.  

We are just like so many others.  However, we have decided, a long time ago, not to keep up with the Joneses.  This decision has consequences.  Because of this, we are not bothered when someone gets a new car or a new house.  We don’t feel pressure to have a “better” vacation or to join every soccer, book or bunko club.  On the other hand, we don’t get invited to many functions because we sometimes say no.  When it is not a good fit for our family, we say no.  Some people can understand this and some people are offended.  

My husband and I have learned to be grateful and content in our current living situation.  We feel very blessed with what we have.  We want for no more.  When another blessing finds itself in our midst, we accept it graciously.  We do not expect anything.  

“Learn to be thankful in the midst of your unique “whatever” rather than trying to control something you were never meant to control in the first place.  God is more concerned with your attitude and obedience in the role in which he has cast you than he is about giving you a starring role.” (Karen Ehman, Let it Go)

When you learn to be content in your current living situation, truly content, a peace will find your heart.  That peace is God.  You are finally “making room” for Him.  Once God is in your peaceful, content heart, you won’t ever want to let Him go!  Missing the next bunko club won’t seem like such a big deal anymore!