Friday, April 24, 2009

Play Ball!



My son decided to take a "break" from baseball this spring. I admit; I was bummed. He had such a great season this past fall and I didn't want him to lose his momentum. (Plus it's still all just so darned cute to me! ) A friend was talking about going to games with her son and and it reminded me of a previous post that I had written awhile back and being that it is baseball season once again; I thought I would share it...
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My oldest son began playing t-ball two years ago. I remember that first season of knowing that he had a real knack for the sport but getting SO frustrated that all he seemed to do was gather dirt in his glove and then gloriously, and completely unaware that there was a game going on around him, throw it up in the air. Thank goodness he has an amazing coach who also "coached" us as parents that when the kids were on the field, that only he and those who were base coaches would do the correction and instruction. We were allowed only to toss out positive words of encouragement. Wow, was that difficult! I so wanted to scream, "Pay attention to the ball!" or "Stop kicking the dirt!" I admit, the occasional, "Baseball Ready!" escaped my lips. I knew my son would know my voice and snap to it if I said something and what truly positive thing can you say to a 5 year old kicking and throwing the dust of the earth into the faces of his teammates?

Then there was the issue of the coveted "game ball." At the end of each game, the coach would present one player with the ball used during the game (or a very dirty used one if that particular ball was not able to be located in the moment) with the coach's signature and a written comment about how they had played the game. You could see the eager anticipation of the kids as they gathered in a circle and peered hopefully at the coach's face. The ball signified that you had what it took. You were good at this. You had something to offer the team. My son was the last player to receive the game ball that first season. It was sort of a "mercy game ball" if you will - the concept that every child is a winner. But although we could see that, our son was thrilled! He had what it took! The next season, he came alive and although there were still irresistible moments of dirt kicking and throwing, he got the game ball mid season. It began to dawn on him that the earlier in the season you get the ball, the better you are doing. The following season, he received TWO game balls which was quite a feat being that there were more players than games.

So this year as he moved up to "real" baseball - machine pitch baseball; my husband and I have been encouraging him. It is much more difficult to hit a moving ball than one that is sitting right in front of you. They actually make you sit down if you strike out and what a bummer that is! But he has tasted success and he is determined to be a baseball player. The players have also been progressively learning how to encourage one another. What began as, "Let's go Ironbirds, let's go" (over and over and OVER again...)has gradually progressed into, "Hey Kevin, great play!" and "Wow Max! Awesome hit!" It is awesome to hear how excited they get over each others successes!

Tonight, our son got the game ball! Not at the end of the season, but still toward the beginning of the season and he knows what that means! He really does have what it takes. He is able to be good at this and he does have something to offer his teammates. He has also learned how to give encouragement to his teammates and to be truly excited for them when they have earned the game ball. We can learn so much from children!

Why is it that we think positive things about others but rarely go out of our way to tell them? When we see others who possess talent why do we sometimes resent that they do instead of being excited with them? Especially when they are on OUR TEAM? We had another gifted speaker at MOPS this past Friday and she talked a bit about this concept of how we compete with one another and try to be self sufficient instead of encouraging and supporting one another and drawing from the body of Christ working together. God didn't intend for us to live life on our own. He created and gifted each of us uniquely and perfectly to allow the body to work as a whole. It might be time for you to speak life into the sister or brother who represents the hands or feet of your body. Maybe the eyes are a little dry or irritated and could use some cool refreshment. How about the person who represents the pinky toe and offers balance unable to be achieved without what they contribute? Let's agree together to speak the positive words that come to mind the next time something pops into our heads. We need to encourage one another to live fully the purposes that God is calling them to. Let's not just impersonally chant, "Let's go...," But rather encourage each other in specific ways.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (The Message)
"So let's do it—full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching."

Many blessings! (Littlest One loves watching his big brother play ball!)

14 comments:

HappyascanB said...

I love this post! I'm going to my best friend's 4 year old's tee-ball game tonight and can't wait! I know I'll leave with major baby fever!! :) Anywho, thanks for the encouragement to encourage others. I need that today; having a little pity party of my own!?!?! I need to snap out of it!

joybug56 said...

I loved your post on Play Ball! I sit in the crowd as a Proud Nana...I can remember feeling what you felt as the young mother watching both her young sons play T-ball....son watch the ball.....son ya gotta keep your eye on the ball....son stop kicking the dirt.....son what was you thinkging .... LOL .....but they both progressed into wonderful ball players ....
Now, as the Nana in the crowd, I am wanting to fuss at my grandson's parents for yelling out to MY GRANDSON, LOL , son get your eyes up, watch the ball ...stop kicking the dirt, be still stop wiggling on base....seems to me they take up the "twist" as soon as they become ball players... but now I have great understanding, theory joined with experience and realize....they are just kids and we sell the short......my grandson too, shall make a good ball player spite all the "encouragment" he receives from mom and dad from the crowd....lol.....
You took me way back this morning to a treasured time locked in my memory banks.....and I love the encouragement to seek out ways to express the gratitude and love and praise we have for each other....
The greatest expression of love from our Heavenly Father was to give us the Best Gift ever....HIS SON....to die for us.....amazing....what encouragment for me, what an expression of true love from the Father and true love from the Son ...
God bless you today and let "us" keep our eyes on the ball ....let us pay attention today...let us kick off the dust of rejection and be brave to express fully HIS LIGHT LOVE AND LIFE to all around us today.
Loved your post!

Gretchen said...

Your word pictures are, as always, so sweetly well formed. Thrilled for your son's success on so many levels. What an example to us. Reminds me of a verse about "Come(ing) to me as little children..."
That coach (whom God gave you) is something special, too.

christy rose said...

OK I just had to mention that your picture of your son at the end of this post is absolutely adorable.

Your post today was very interesting and inviting for me to read today because it also brought back wonderful memories of my older son playing t-ball. He is 15today and the starting pitcher of his freshmen team. He has advanced so much from his kicking the dirt days. I love to watch him play. I love to watch him enjoy himself and succeed. And, I love to watch him live in his character and keep his composure when he is not doing so well also. He makes me very proud.

I also loved how you tied in the positive coaching on a team to the body of Christ. We are all on the same team.
The Holy Spirit is our coach. We do need each other's encouragement and support, as well, for us to go forward in all that Jesus has for us to accomplish for His glory and our enjoyment in life's purpose of expressing who He is to the world.

Wonderful post today!

Sheryl said...

You are so right, why don't we encourage those who are better then us? My girls are very compative in swimming and at times it's very hard when they are beat by some one better, even from their own team. We should be happy and complament them (really meaning it)for the talent they have. You gave me a lot to think about thanks.

Oh yeah, about those baseball games, I remember my girls in the outfield picking flowers and grass, missing a ball that actally rolled by them because they were looking in the sky for birds or what not. Oh and when the ball does come to you why would you throw it when you can walk it over and hand it to them?

I beleive that little league baseball teaches parents just as much as it does the kids.

Pam D said...

Wonderful post, Shanda. Why DOES it take a baseball diamond or basketball court to turn us into cheerleaders? 1 Thess. 5:11 says "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." Paul spends a lot of time encouraging.. and directing others to encourage, as well. Unfortunately, we all too often end up like those parents you see on the sidelines, yelling, complaining, and pointing out errors instead of lifting up and cheering on! Thanks for the great reminder of what we should be doing, along with all of those adorable pictures....

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Wonderful post! "Littlest One" is just plain adorable! I am really looking forward to hearing you speak/seeing you at the Summit tomorrow!! :)

Rachel said...

What great encouragement to work together and be thankful for the gifts of every part of the body of Christ.

What great insight your MOPS speaker had too!

(and gosh darn if that last picture isn't a total melt-in-a-pool-of-butter one!)

By the way... the slideshow of awards is actually one of the gadgets on the Blogger page layout... you just select which ones you want! Let me know if you need any help and I'd be happy to!

That's Who I Am said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. I always wondered why I think positive things about people and never tell them. You have encouraged me to let those words come out of my mouth next time I am thinking them. This happens all to often and I am going to work on changing this!

Shelley said...

What a cutie patootie.

Busy Mom said...

Baseball is right around the corner for our family also. I love this time of year. Nothing like sitting for 4 hours a night at the games. Little league that is. The youngest two played t-ball last year and the pressure was not as great as when they get a little older. Enjoyed it!

Kathryn said...

Precious photos, Shanda!

Katy decided to opt out of soccer this season, after playing every fall and every spring since the first grade (13 seasons!). I supported her decision, but it made me sad, too.

You're so right about encouraging others ... especially fellow Christians.
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Shanda, I tagged you on my blog this morning (Miss Top 10!). ;) Also, it was such a pleasure to hear you speak yesterday at Summit... you truly do have a gift for speaking and teaching! :) Great job...at least two I(and me) from my ST are now thinking about attending Convention b/c of all the great stuff from yesterday that's been passed around. :) Thanks for working so hard to make a great event!

Marci said...

You have a lovely blog!