The Biggest Game of All

“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

Being a parent is by far my biggest joy in life, followed by my role as a grandparent.   I was the parent who attended every event, which meant hundreds of ballgames, FFA events, spelling bees, and choir events.   My girls both played softball, but my older daughter gave it up for academics when she started high school.  My younger daughter continued to play softball until she graduated high school, starting when she was four years old.  I went back and added up all of her games counting over 350 games including summer leagues as well as high school ball both during the school year and in the summer in between school years.  

Heather started out as a catcher.  I remember the first time she got hit on the head with the bat.  The coaches from both teams rushed out to her as she stumbled around a little.  I tried to control my panicked “mother reaction” as she pulled off her catcher’s mask, shook her head and gave the coaches a dirty look for interrupting her game.  

We lived in a small town, so we played other teams around our county.  Heather continued to catch, although she tried pitching briefly.  I never tried to discourage any of my children from trying anything, but I was a nervous wreck when she was on the plate and was glad when she once again found herself behind the plate instead.   Heather was a power hitter and spent most of her middle school years rounding the bases.  Middle school ball was fun!

When Heather started high school, she spent the year before her freshman year as “low man on the totem pole.”  It was a tough summer, driving an hour twice a week to the ball field knowing she would probably sit the bench the whole night unless someone got hurt.  It broke my heart every time we drove home, my little curly mess in tears because she was so frustrated.

That summer Heather fell in a hole at church camp and hurt her knee.  She made it through the regular fall ball, playing in pain.  In March, she had surgery to fix her ACL.  That summer Heather played the outfield.  Mostly, she spent that year praying the ball didn’t come to her because she’d never played the outfield before and it wasn’t in her comfort zone.  Her other job was to warm up the pitcher while the catcher got on her gear, which she accomplished by sitting on a bucket.  But she never complained.  She did her best, knowing that she had to pay her dues and it was better than sitting the bench.

Her junior year, Heather walked up to the plate in full catcher gear as starting catcher.  Her curly, strawberry blond pony tail peeked out from the catcher’s helmet.  She told me on the way to the game she was probably going to puke before the game.  I told her I would probably be right there with her, also being a nervous wreck.  Both of our nerves melted away the moment the ball popped into her glove.   It was amazing to see her blossom as she settled into the job she was meant to do on the field.  As a parent, I had never been prouder of her effort and even though that was almost twenty years ago, I can tell you exactly where she was when she threw out her first opponent trying to steal second base.  I asked the rest of the parents for a moment of silence as I had a very proud mom moment.

Heather always gave 110% on the field.  She always went the extra mile, even if it meant getting beat up by wild pitches and pop flies.  Her high school team was very successful most years and she was a force with which to be reckoned.  Some nights, at the end of the game, when I loaded up a sweaty “dirty girl,” just getting though the game without heat stroke in the Missouri summer heat, was the win.  It wasn’t always pleasant but she gave it her all.

That’s all God asks of us.  He asks that we trust him and give him our all.  Things may not always go the way we plan them and sometimes we have to play a different position that we thought we were meant to play, but it’s worth the price.  The day will come when we get the true reward and it will all make sense.  

Living on a Prayer

Life is a Highway

I would hate to add up how many hours I have spent in my car over the past 40 years.  For several years I drove over 30 miles to work five days a week and, as a single parent, thousands of miles to lots and lots of softball and football games.  During these drives, I was often alone with my thoughts while the kids slept or did homework, or were still on the bus, because it was too cool to ride with mom.

I must admit that sometimes I wished that I could turn my brain off, except for the driving part, or course.  When I was going through some particularly stressful times in my life, I found myself using my drive time to worry.  I would go through scenarios in my head, rehearse conversations that I needed to have over and over again, make decisions I needed to make, and then create the conversations all over again.  I used the time to do God’s job.  I worked out my problems, came up with solutions, and then spent time doing it all over again since I’d messed things up. 

My kids are grown now, but God recently presented with another opportunity to spend some quality time on the road when I took a job last year that allowed me to work from home one day a week and drive to my office two days a week in a town an hour away.  This time, I’m handling it differently, which I hope has resulted from my growth as a Christian.

During this drive, I view this as my time alone with God.  I listen to Christian radio, and when I can’t get a Christian station, I use the music downloaded on my phone and blue-toothed to my car, thanks to modern technology.   Before I leave my house, I look at my phone to review the “verse of the day” on my Bible app and ask for traveling mercies.  I use that verse as my baseline to be foremost in my mind when I feel stressed during the drive or if my mind wanders. I talk to God out loud and bold.  I praise him and I lay my cares at his feet.  I sing (and I sound great!) and I laugh and I leave my cares on the highway.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot in my walk with Christ and I am continuously working to make that walk stronger.  It’s not always the easy road, but at some point, very recently, I might add, I have learned that if I wanted to change my life, I had to change my story.  I had to start “letting go and letting God.”  And most of all, I have learned that taking advantage of my drive time, makes the journey worth the trip.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

                                                                                                                Phillipians 4:6

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