Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Friday, June 8, 2012

Days To Remember (for ultimate effect, play 10,000 Maniacs while reading)

Cheering on our boys, sitting in our chairs and in the stands, Scott Rolen's hometown, amazing facility, ultra-clean bathrooms, no-humidity spring-like weather, cornfields in the background, 

is it central or eastern time???

ties with teammates that run deep, red uniforms and blue pinstripes, playing the Mafia, organized with excellence--Pesce style, top notch lunch for team and family, seeing old friends from home town, sunshine and breezes, Patriot uniforms scattered across three different fields, teams cheering on one another, hanging out with Paducah friends,  

 wiffleball on the riverwalk, 

Indiana pizza that can't be topped, baseball teams becoming like family, 

getting addicted to cornhole,

 good music in the background, 

siblings of players becoming fast friends, playing by the river into the dusk of the evening, 

is it central or eastern time???

thirty boys swimming in a 10X20 space,


running through the woods with cousins, walkie-talkie spying, 

black and red uniforms, score tower stress, pacing behind the bleachers, looking across the park and seeing Sunday morning Patriot chapel, teammates praying together,

T-E-A-M acronym: Together, Encourage, Adjust, Masterpiece, 

sitting in the bleachers with the parents, friends looking out for each other's kids, losses stinging for just a moment, 

 is it central or eastern time???

 grilling out hotdogs, swimming in the cousin's pool, watching the Celtics beat the Heat, 

Holiday World bright and early, driving on Indiana backroads to get there, swimming and riding rides with teammates, 

private lunch at the Kringle banquet hall, sweet speech by coach, 

perfect weather and no lines,

soft drinks always on hand, trying to talk Grogans into roller coasters, watching the DIVE show with fear and awe, rough housing with coaches in the wave pool, 

is it central or eastern time???

Owen and Anderson sliding and sliding and sliding, 

the staple log ride and old time cars, teammates chanting 'Wes! Wes! Wes!' while walking down the hill--still no Grogan's gonna ride a roller coaster, Holidog frenzy, parents popping Advil after rides...

...gone in the blink of an eye, but remembered for a lifetime...

Scores will be forgotten but the relationships won't.

Time--whether central or eastern--is fleeting.

These are days to remember. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

CBS -- a good-bye in a very hilly, roundabout kind of way

This past fall when I began Community Bible Study (CBS), God had our family in a waiting phase.  You see, my husband had lost his job the November before...and when you have five children and no regular income, life becomes interesting to say the least.  During this time, we experienced God as Jehovah Jireh (the Great Provider) and El Shaddai (the All Sufficient One) as He provided for need after need and miraculously kept us out of debt.

On the first day of CBS, each person is assigned a discussion group.  I've heard that there is a lot of time spent in prayer by CBS leadership in regards to the discussion groups.  I am not surpised by that fact, becuase that is the only thing to which I can contribute our small group's cohesiveness.  The Holy Spirit's presence was there, week after week, guiding our discussion.  There wasn't a day that I didn't walk out feeling counseled, taught and ministered to.  And week after week I asked for prayer for employment for my husband and for God's provision while we waited.

In October we learned of an opening in Western Kentucky with Fellowship of Christain Athletes (FCA).  We began praying over this opportunity.  For the first time in nine long months of no's and door slamming, door after door started opening for my husband.  It didn't take us long to realize that all the no's from God had held a purpose.  In every single 'no', we had learned how to rely less on ourselves and more on Him.  In every 'no', He had been equipping us to learn how to trust Him for daily provision.  In every single no, He had been preparing us for this yes.  His yes.

So as this job possibility turned into a reality, we were ecstatic that at last God was answering!  We were ecstatic to be moving towards a purpose!  But moving?  Moving???!!!  About this, ecstatic I was not.  When I heard we had to move to first reaction was 'that rhymes with Bazooka...I cannot live somewhere that rhymes with Bazooka.'  I distinctly remember telling a friend on the phone, 'I am NOT living in Paducah!'  And I'll never forget her reply:  'I hate to tell you this, but often the thing we are adamantly saying no to is the thing God is calling us to'.

...And many prayers later, we knew we couldn't stay.  We had to go.  We were moving to Paducah.

One Thursday morning after making this BIG decision, my mind was whirling.  As I was dropping off my children to their respective classes--running late and mind preoccupied--I made a really bad decision.  I pulled up to the curb to let my seven and nine year old out for their classes.  It was a split decision--the kind you make when you are running late (the not-so-good kinds).  I didn't realize that a car was behind me and decided to pull around me at the exact same time that my children were walking around my van, unseen.

I sat in the driver's seat, watching this unfold before my eyes, yelling , 'Stop!  Stop!'  Of course, they couldn't hear me, nor could the lady driving the other car.  Thankfully, by the grace of God, she stopped and everything ended up being okay. Since I drive one of those obnoxious big vans that sits up really high, I couldn't see who was in the other car.  My first reaction to that car was, 'What were you thinking?'  Yet, almost immediately, I heard my voice of conscious say, 'What were YOU thinking??!!'

So I got out of my van, walked in the door--completely rattled and shaken--feeling like a complete failure of a mom.  And then I see Trish walking up to me.  She's in my discussion group.  She is one of those ladies I hope to be one day--so full of joy it just oozes out of her.  However, on this morning, she had a downcast, concerned look on her face.  She told me she was the one in the other car.  She told me over and over how very sorry she was.  How very sorry.  She telling me--Me, the mom who had just made one of the worst parenting decisions of her life.  Tears flow.  I apologize to her and tell her it was entirely my fault, and we stand out in the lobby stumbling over one another, each profusely taking the blame.  The Holy Spirit invaded every inch of that exchange.  I thought, 'What humility and Christ-likeness to walk up to me immediately and apologize for something that honestly wasn't her fault.'  That moment was infused with the power of forgiveness...that power that melts all ill feelings...that power that replaces anger with love. Power that can only come from above.  We walked into the sanctuary and stood next to one another, singing praises to God together...and so funny, we both leaned over to one another with the same thought, 'It's a good thing God is in control, instead of us!'

Later, that very same day, during prayer time, I shared in our discussion group the news that we are moving to Paducah to start up FCA in Western Kentucky.  Immediately afterwards, guess who came up to me?  Trish.  She told me about how her family moved from Birmingham to Louisville in the same season of life, when her boys were the same age as my two oldest children, leaving extended family behind.  She told me how scary it was, moving somewhere unknown and how difficult it was to leave family.  But she then told me how faithful God was.  How God used their family to help start FCA at Ballard High School.  How FCA had had a huge impact on their family, making Louisvlle feel like home to them.  I stood there with God-goosebumps.  What were the odds of someone being in my discussion group with a story like this?  God-odds, that's what.  She also went on to tell me how God used her here to help get CBS going.  And how she couldn't imagine not living in Louisville now--that God had had a plan all along.  She had no idea how much I needed to hear all of that.  But God did.  He knew.  And, as God so often does, He had already created a tender bond between Trish and I from our earlier exchange that morning.  Thus, hearing this from her of all people made it seem more God-ordained than ever.

The women in my discussion group encouraged me to find out if Paducah had CBS.  I agreed to check into this, but I wasn't very hopeful.  I mean, they don't have a Target (I know--ouch), so what were the chances that they would have Community Bible Study?  Well, much to my surprise, I learned that they do have CBS and a full children's program.  God-goose bumps surfaced once again when I heard what book they are studying next year--Acts.  Wow, are you kidding me?  What book of the Bible would be any more appropriate to study while beginning a ministry?  Once again, God was going before, sovereignly ordaining details.

Well, weeks zoomed along, until finally--much to my sad heart--the last day of CBS was upon us.  I dreaded this day so much.  I DID NOT want CBS to end.  It seemed too fast.  I mostly didn't want my weekly meetings with my discussion group to end.  I had learned so very much from each and every person.  Each one had contributed something to my Christian growth.  In this year of change, in the chaos of trying to sell our home we'd lived in for years, in the sadness of moving, in the fear of the unknown, each week this group--they had been my 'known'.  Week after week after week Christ had met me in my need and ministered to me through these women.

At the end of our discussion group that day, I sought out Trish to say thank you.  But I couldn't even get a word in.  She turned her sunshiny face towards me and began talking.  She gently put my face between her two hands and joyfully poured out blessing after blessing upon me.  One word after another, telling me exact words I needed to hear.  It really felt like an interchange with God himself.  I don't cry very easily--yet again, tears just flowed.  She ended her outpouring of love with Ephesians 2:10: 'For we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.'  She didn't know this, but that has been my life verse for years and years, way back in the Nashvillian days.  Way back in the early years of my salvation.  Trish didn't know that.  But God knew.

A few minutes later, we set down in the sanctuary for the lecture.  The first verse that flashed up on the screen?  Ephesians 2:10!  No, I am not kidding, out of the zillion of verses in the Bible.  And we had been studying John the entire year, not Ephesians.  I gasped.  Trish slid down in the chair beside me and we both looked at each other dumbfoundedly.  Surprised.  Yet not suprised.  Because God knew.  Yes, God knew.

When I got home from CBS that day, I called Eric and recounted my Ephesians 2:10 story, who happened to be in Kansas City all week for an FCA new hire training.

The next morning, he texted me: 'Guess what our devotional was on today?  Ephesians 2:10.'

'For we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.'

Yes, we are God's workmanship.  Yes, we are created in Christ Jesus.  Yes, out of that relationship flows good works.  Yes, He prepares in advance.  He equips.  He goes before.  He is in control.

God knew.  And God knows.

CBS--I had to say good-bye, yet God is sweetly providing a CBS to say hello to in a few months.  God takes away.  But He also replaces.

He is so redeeming like that.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Series of Good-byes

As we begin the process of moving, I am going to be writing a series of posts regarding those things we hold most dear to us here in Louisville, the things we are going to miss the most.  I know writing about these things will help me grieve them completely.  So stay tuned if you'd like to walk through this with me.  I hope that you will.    Moving can be a lonely place.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's Opening Day

With the start of spring, many minds instantly picture flowers blooming, warmer weather,and the beginning of longer days. For our family, the mental picture that comes to our minds is baseball. It's the season that means treking to the ball field on an almost nightly basis. It means our five-year-old has dirt under his finger nails and in his hair for three months straight from playing on the playground at whatever ball field we might be. It means that we will be eating a lot of PB&J picnic dinners on the bleachers. It means we will go to McCalister's Deli on a regular basis because all five of our kids can eat FREE (it also means that they'll know our family and our order by name by the end of the season). It means I will be spending a lot of money on ring pops to keep the 'O Factor' happy. It means getting home past nine most nights, covered in dirt and sweat. It means washing and scrubbing baseball pants daily. It means my five-year-old, seven-year-old and ten-year-old will play pitch and catch non-stop out in the yard. It means that we will talk over and re-hash every game, play-by-play. We won't talk about anything else. We have a one track mind because it's baseball season.

...Listen closely--I can almost hear it, can't you? It's the music from 'The Rookie' playing in the background...

It’s opening day. Fresh, cut grass feels the air. Boys, young and old, dream about a winning season as they walk from the parking lots with their dads to their first game. With their baseball bags slung over their shoulders and sporting new uniforms, they can't help feeling proud. In fact, it's hard to suppress the grin welling up inside because of the sheer delight over the love they have for the sport. Suppress it, they do, however, because they envision their favorite major league player walking onto the field in all seriousness. Thus, they must compose themselves tall and soberly. After all, one day, they too will be playing for the majors.

Everyone rises for the National Anthem. Baseball players are scattered throughout the many fields, saluting the flag respectively, with hats off. A tear or too trickles down the cheek of more than one parent as they take in the scene before them. Something about the National Anthem and the 'All-American' sport of baseball, coupled with a boy in a uniform, makes one's emotions aroused.

The games begin. Dirt and dust from the in-field encompasses everything and everyone as boys hit the ball and round the bases. Shouts of 'hey, batter, batter!...' and 'Strike!' fill the air, along with some whoops and hollers from the spectators.

Hope is in the air because a new day has dawned. It's baseball season.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pitter Patter

The other morning I heard the little pitter-patter of feet coming down the steps.  I glanced at the clock--6:05 AM???  What???  No one was due to get up for another hour.  I sighed deeply as I realized my uninterrupted quiet time was about to get interrupted.  The Big O walked in, rubbing his eyes, saying he was 'hungy'.  I wasn't surprised, as he had not appreciated our lunch and dinner menu the day before.  First I told him he couldn't get up yet and that he needed to go back to bed.  Even as the words came out of my mouth, I knew that it wasn't going to happen.  No, such attempts never work.  I am not even sure why I tried it.  Thinking about the hunger pangs that must have awakened him, motherly guilt replaced my own pursuits and I poured him a bowl of cereal.

Then I heard more pitter-patter... What in the world???  Another early bird???  I turned to see who the culprit could be and was met with a little pair of legs carrying a large pile of clothing.  Held to the gill were baseball pants, shirts, socks, belts and hats.  I suppressed a smile as the J-man dropped the load down in front of me--the load of new uniforms that he had received at baseball practice the night before.  As it had been too late for him to try them on when he'd gotten home, we had promised him he could try them on this morning.  It reminded me of the time he came into our room at 3:00 in the morning before his first t-ball game, dressed and ready to go.  Guess I should be glad that he hadn't gotten up any earlier this morning.

His eyes shone with the anticipation of trying on all his gear as I stared at the mound of uniforms and wondered where the days had gone when one uniform was more than enough?  Where were the days when rec leagues were more than enough and competitive leagues hadn't gobbled up the simple life?  I would have never thought we would have had a seven-year-old on such a team, yet it was inevitable, I suppose in a boy-filled baseball-crazed home.  Inevitable for a seven-year-old that had spent all last year tagging along at his ten-year-old's brother's competitive games.  Inevitable, that eventually you have to make the switch and play the game by the newly-acquired rules.

I had to admit, it was hard not to get caught up in my little man's excitement.  For the next hour, my proud seven-year-old tried on every one of his three uniforms for me, not once, but TWICE.  He told me a total of ten times about the scrimmage and games that were coming up, what time they were at and where they were going to be.  He had myself and the O vote for our favorite uniform.  We discussed #32 and how he wasn't that crazy about it but that it was Uncle Trent's favorite player on the Red's so it couldn't be all that bad.  We discussed ankle pants vs. knee pants.

Other discussions took place in my head.  Stress mounted as my mind was pelted with questions like, 'What if he shows up to a game wearing the wrong uniform?  What if we can't find his blue shirt on blue uniform day?  What if the washer eats one of those brightly colored socks?  What if my extremely absent minded seven-year-old leaves one of those hats clear across town at the McDonald's playland?'  

...What if... 

Then the what ifs were squashed with the realization that my born-organized husband had taken care of such details like a well oiled machine during last year's baseball season for my ten-year-old.  He could handle it.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

Meanwhile, the O stood on the sidelines--all starry-eyed--filled with great awe and admiration.  I could understand O's infatuation.  I too, was mesmerized by my no-bigger-than-a-minute seven-year-old.  Sure, three uniforms still seemed a bit much to this practical-minded mom, yet I couldn't help being completely impressed and in love with my little guy's newly acquired threads.

The pitter patter of baseball season...a little boy in pinstriped pants with hat engulfing...a heart swelling and overflowing with the pride of being a part of a team...smiling from ear to ear.  Beginning with the pitter patter of little feet and ending with the pitter patter of a mama's heart taking it all in.

So much more than a Kodak moment...but for now it'll have to suffice...  

and in a month I'll let you know how our laundry bill is holding up.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Big O Turns Five!

Our youngest we call the 'Big O',
When angry he sure lets us know!
Shirtless and carefree,
And always 'hungy',
His best buddy, hands down, is big bro'!

Top Five on Five:
  1. The way you call me 'mama'
  2. I love your dimples
  3. You give the best hugs in the world
  4. Your friendship with Jeremiah makes my heart swell
  5. How thankful you are for the littlest things

So glad the O Factor is a part of our lives.  Our family would be incomplete without him.
Happy Birthday buddy.  We love you!