Thursday, September 29, 2016

On Curveballs

My younger son is a baseball player.  I've watched him play since he was in preschool.  Unfortunately, my baseball knowledge has not grown at the rate of his skill, but still I know a thing or two.  And I still get nervous every single time he’s up to bat even though he has a great batting average.  The thing I dread the most in those moments is a great curve ball.  I hate those things.

The thing about curve balls is that the untrained eye (aka, mine) can’t see them coming.  All I see is a perfect and not-to-fast ball coming straight down the pike.  He’s gonna kill this ball!  It’s just what we hoped for today.  It gets close.  He begins his swing.  He’s about the knock it out the park!  Then it happens...the curve.  Are you kidding me?  The stupid ball just drops as the batter swings over it.  Strike!

Your day begins as they always do.  It’s going along nicely, given that most days in my house look like a Wylie Coyote and Roadrunner episode.  You know what to expect.  You are prepared for the norm.  And let’s face it, the “norm” is hard enough some days.  But then it happens...the curve ball.  It’s the phone call, the accident, the regular doctor visit gone wrong, the natural event that gets out of hand, the news you were not expecting today.  And it levels you.  What?!  You sit stunned.  You did not see this coming.  Dang curve balls!

You are thrown completely out of kilter.  You begin to question everything.  How did this happen?  Why did this happen?  Am I being punished?  What is really important?  What do I truly need and what can I live without?  Who am I and what am I supposed to be doing?  Where was God when this happened?  And if He’s really around, is He really big enough to fix this?  What do I believe in enough to act on...or even on?  The questions are hard, but you have to allow them.  And you absolutely must take the time to answer them.  They may be the reason you are here.

All the while, you are waiting.  Anyone can tell you...the waiting is the worst.  What is going to happen?  How will this end?  And I’ll give you a hint… the answers you found in your initial questioning are crucial here.  It takes faith to withstand the waiting.  It takes a really strong faith to thrive in the waiting.  When you don’t have any answers, it sure helps to at least know the One who does have them.  You may find that just resting with Him is enough to keep you going.

The good news is that if you’re still standing there, then you’re still in the game.  There is a Next, and it is coming … even if it’s taking its time.  This curve ball may have changed your life forever in some way...or many ways.  Or who knows, tomorrow, next week or in a couple months, life may return to “normal”.  But for now it is enough to know that you’re still in the game.  Now is the time to stand and play because another pitch IS coming.  You have to pull it together.  Focus.  Who knows, you just may hit it out of the park.

Monday, June 6, 2016

On 24 Years

Today is J and I's 24th anniversary.  The following is a note to him, but I hope that any married person who reads it will be prompted to think over their years together and find themselves grateful.  Life is good.  But life is even better with someone else.

24.  Wow, really?  24.  It just doesn’t seem like that long ago that we were walking down the isle.  We were young.  Really young.  As in, almost our oldest child’s age.  We were pretty sure we were ready for the anything the world had to throw at us.  We knew everything we needed to…we knew more then than we do now.  And above all, we knew we made the perfect team.  (So at least we were right about one thing).  We busted through those vows like champs.  For better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and in health, till death do us part…yeh, yeh, let’s get to the good part…the husband and wife kissing and running out to conquer the world together part.  It was an awesome day, I have to say.  And it has been the adventure of a lifetime.

So, about the “for better” part…we’ve been pretty lucky.  In fact, I think most of it has fallen in the “for better” region.  We still love each other.  We have an awesome bunch of family and friends that love us.  We’ve done some amazingly fun things together (climbed mountains, jumped out of airplanes, sailed high seas, etc.).  We’ve seen some incredible places (Middle East, Asia, Africa…).  We’ve been a part of some miraculous things and seen God do some amazing stuff.  And the kids.  I could write a whole book on how cool our kids are.  I don’t know what we did right…there may just be a lot of grace involved in that area, because our kids rock.  Talk about people who could, and do, change the world around them!  I could carry on for hours on the kids.  And I’m so glad you talked me into having some of them myself; it is fun to see them look or act like us.  I’m also glad you were cool with the adoption idea.  Where would we be without that one?

The “for worse” part is obviously not as fun to talk about.  But thankfully, most of the “worse” part has gone hand in hand with the “better” parts in some weird way.  I guess when the bible says that God can make all things come together for good, that actually works.  Like the times we watched so many of our young youth kids pass on so early…but then saw an entire town grab the hearts of those parents and love them into grace and sanity. Or the time I almost died…then didn’t…and ended up with an amazing son instead.  Or the year+ that we toiled over paperwork, made permanent tracks to the courthouse, and wept tears of worry over a little girl in who-knows-where China…then ended up with one of our greatest gifts.  Or how about those F5s that destroyed our community only to see us rebuild it and, in the process, build new and stronger relationships with each other.  We’ve said goodbye to churches and friends and towns we loved.  And we’ve said a more permanent goodbye to all our grandparents, an aunt, an uncle, a dad, several friends and (what are the odds), we’ve both lost a best friend.  But we’ve been supportive and patient with each other through all the grieving…years of it…and I think we’re stronger for that.

The “sickness” part we’ve also, fortunately, had pretty easy.  I can count about 8 little surgeries between us and the kids (thank you c-sections and bad knees).  I’m gonna say God has gone easy on us in this area.  Lord knows we both stink at being nurses.  We are not exactly the nurturing type.  I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna put those few days in the “worse” part.  Thankfully, we’ve both had good health so far.  I know we’ll start aging and falling apart some day and health can leave you at any moment…so I’m just gonna be thankful for what we’ve had so far and not take it for granted.

Oooo… the “richer and poorer” part.  We’ve had both.  We’ve had months where we got to the end and had extra to both give and save.  What fun!  We’ve also had other months.  Jobless months. Months where we weren’t at the end, but were out of money.  And the kids still insisted on eating.  Thankfully, we’ve always had people who loved us and helped us until we could take care of things ourselves.  Now I hope we’ll never forget what that felt like and always be ready to be the ones who can help someone else.  It’s another gift I don’t want to take for granted.

So, that leaves us with the “till death do us part” part.  One of my favorite things is that I can tell our kids with confidence that we’re in it for the long haul.  We’re willing to fight for what we have.  We’re willing to humble ourselves and put each other before ourselves even when we don’t want to.  Because at the end of 24 years, I’d still choose you.  You balance me.  You make me a better me.  You still make me laugh every day.  I still love your eyes and think your smile is about the best thing on earth.  I want this adventure to continue for 24 more and beyond.  Thank you for being awesome and loving me.  I love you too.