Friday, June 17, 2011

Time for some Fun!

This time tomorrow, Nathan and I will be at my parents’ house in the Bay Area. Part of our two-week stay will include a trip to Disneyland to celebrate Mom’s birthday. I also plan to get together with my friend Jennifer for the first time in over a year. I have a little work to do, but most of the time will be spent relaxing and having fun with Mom, Dad, my sisters, and their kids.

Usually, I would feel guilty for taking a two week vacation. But this has been a stressful season and I know it’s needed. Sometimes, we just need to get away. As a friend reminded me today, Jesus often left the crowds and went to a quiet place. Sometimes He took His disciples and sometimes alone. If He needed breaks, who am I to say I don’t?

So instead of feeling guilty, I plan to enjoy the time, knowing that I’ll benefit in many ways. I look forward to sharing those benefits when I return.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Gift of Time

I didn’t blog last week. I got caught up in an answer to prayer—the return of some fictional characters that I’d given up on ever hearing from again. I’d accepted that perhaps I wasn’t meant to write fiction. Then the characters from one of the two novels I’d been trying unsuccessfully to write came knocking on my office door. Apparently, they didn’t feel they could trust me with their lives until I’d dealt with some issues in my own. Now that I’m headed in a healthy direction, they are giving me another chance. They even had a new plot to run by me. So of course, I had to take full advantage before they got tired of waiting around and bailed on me again.

Yesterday, I realized that I’d written almost 2,500 words in two days, in addition to outlining the new storyline earlier in the week. I announced my progress on Facebook and thanked God repeatedly. Then I realized something else—I was only able to spend so much time with my imaginary friends because God had denied another request.

For weeks I’ve been concerned about my lack of freelance work. Unusually, I’m juggling several assignments, or turn one in only to receive another. Instead I’m experiencing the slowest flow of requests that I can remember. My concern has been mixed with a strong sense that God is allowing it for a reason. I’ve had a chance to rest my tired mind and get some practical things done, like cleaning up the house, dealing with life, and enjoying end-of-the-school-year activities. The extra time allowed me to start blogging more often, which has been a long-time goal of mine. And if I’d had an assignment or two due last week, I would not have had time to respond when those characters returned, along with the creativity required to try fiction again.

I recognized this slow period as a gift of time from the One who knows how overwhelming life has been. A rather worn-out (in my opinion anyway) Christian cliché says, “Sometimes God says yes; sometimes He says no; and sometimes He says wait.” This week reminded me that sometimes He says no so He can say yes to something we’ve been waiting on Him for.

Labels: ,

Friday, June 03, 2011

Great Coaching in Action

Until last night, my son Nathan’s Little League team was in first place. They finished the season with 12 wins and 2 losses despite having several young and new players. In the first playoff game, they won in a shut-out and ran off the field knowing that they only had to win one more to make it to Saturday’s championship.

I arrived at Game 2 last night, halfway through the first inning.

“The other team has one run,” one of the moms told me. “But they have two outs and we haven’t batted yet.”

That inning ended with a 1-to-1 tie—and stayed tied for five innings. The time limit for a typical game came and went. Since this was a playoff game, they had to play until someone won.

Finally, in the 7th inning, the other team made a second run, but Nathan’s team still had one more chance at bat. They’d beat this team before. Surely they could rally and make the two runs needed to win.

It came down to one of those classic baseball moments with bases loaded, two outs, and one of the tiniest team members at bat knowing it was all up to him. And the poor guy struck out. It was over. They’d lost. The other team was headed to the championship instead of them.

Watching the boys crouch down in front of their coach for the post-game talk was a solemn moment. I didn’t know that thirteen 8-10-year-olds could be so quiet. I’ve always liked Nathan’s coach. He’s one of those men who stresses the importance of doing your best and throws in extra practice when needed but also knows that, in the end, sports should be fun and about learning the game. Win or lose, he always stresses positive points before mentioning what went wrong. Not once have a sensed his ego getting in the way. Last night, he officially became my favorite among all the coaches that Nate has had.

He obviously knew that nobody needed to tell the boys that they’d had an off night. They’d made some amazing plays in the field but couldn’t seem to connect the bat with the ball. Some bad calls from the umpire hadn’t helped either. Instead of carrying on about that, he got past the negative as quickly as possible and pointed out what an intense game they’d just played. Rather than using their No. 1 status as a beating stick for why they should have won, he reminded them what an amazing season they had.

The parents reflected his attitude. While the dads were clearly upset, I didn’t hear any of them ranting about what should have been done differently. As our sons slowly made their way over to us, lips quivery, not one adult told the boys to suck it up. They were devastated and had every right to be. And hey, they were only kids. With permission to be sad, they weren’t melting down, carrying on about all the unfair calls, or criticizing the other team. One by one they hurried to the safest person in the park—their moms—and let the tears fall for a few minutes before wiping them away, slinging their bat bags over their shoulders, and heading for the parking lot.

Walking to the car with our ride, I wrapped my arm around Nathan who had shaken off the tears so much more quickly than he would have in the past. Having been on an undefeated team that won the championship last year, I’d known losing would be hard for him at any point. He has always been competitive in everything from grades to board games. I realized that, through this loss, he probably learned more than he did during last year’s undefeated season. Coach Dave had already shown his players how to be good sports whether they won or not. Last night he taught them how to handle a huge upset with maturity. Yes, they were all disappointed, but they left the sports park knowing that he wasn’t disappointed in them.

They’d had hands-on practice in “Life is full of disappointments.” But it was their coach and parents who showed them “It’s not the end of the world.” This may have been the best coaching Nathan and his teammates received all season.

Labels: , ,