Monday, March 21, 2011

Batter Up

For a kid who grew up playing outside virtually every day, about the only thing I knew outside of piano lessons were sports. I played in the front yard, back yard, anywhere I could: kickball, soccer, baseball, basketball, and football. Such great memories and so much of my childhood.

The most challenging? Baseball – hands down. Okay, so I never played organized football and I never attempted surfing ‘til later. But baseball was great. I vividly remember playing catch in the front yard with my dad (and sometimes mom) for hours. I miss the sound of the ball smacking the leather. I miss the smell of the grass, the dirt, and the leather glove. I miss big the silver coin that I got as a voucher to the snack bar after games – and the Cream Soda Crush I chose every time.

Though I was never any good, I loved it. Time has passed and my only baseball pursuits have been attending as many pro stadiums as possible. But now I’m a father and my daughter is eight. It’s finally time. For a kid who loves to dance and reads like it sustains life, she has begun to show more than a passing interest in playing softball.

So I signed her up and we’re now two practices into the season. She played soccer once and was not terribly intrigued. But she’s a bit older and this is way more complicated. She has to learn to throw, catch, field grounders, spot fly balls, run the bases, and hit. Her first practice brought all of these to my attention quickly. All of these skills were developed decades ago – though to minimal success. I forgot about all these. So she’s got a long road ahead of her. Maybe I should have started the human growth hormone earlier.

As I walked with her to the field that first day, a flood of memories washed through my mind. I even had butterflies in my stomach. To see if I could help, I brought my glove just in case. Clearly I wasn’t the only one with such plans. About nine other dads did the same exact thing. Were we all prepared to relive our childhood through our daughters or did we just want to play catch for the first time in 20 years?

I hope she loves it or absolutely hates it. I want her to enjoy it the way I did, but I don’t want her just doing it the next ten years to fill up her weekends. I hope she excels for her own self-esteem or she accepts her God-given abilities for what they are – she’s not getting a head start athletically from her parents. I hope she takes more pride in her times of serving the homeless than in her ability to hit the ball. But please, God, just one simple request: let her hit the snot out of that ball every now and then!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Window of Cheer

You’ve gotta see my front window. We’ve been in this cool 1970s “split level” for three months now. Of its many funky features is the giant trapezoid shaped window in our living room. Pedestrians, neighbors, and drivers can’t miss the enormous glass panes across the top level of our home. When the living room is illuminated at night you can peer into our world. Along with the trapezoid shaped garage doors, these windows negate the need for us to pass out our address. When we give directions, we simply give the street number and a “look for the trapezoids…” It’s a can’t miss.

Though we frequently question the architect’s grey matter (read: “What were you thinking?”), the trapezoid window has quickly become meaningful. Without fail, if a young child in our house is awake and someone is heard starting up a car outside or pulling into the driveway, two little bodies race for the window to greet or send-off parents or visitors.

There is joy. No – elation is more like it. What is it about that window? Is it a window to the outside world, metaphorically speaking? (Okay, that was corny.) Why does a child seemingly consumed with his Buzz Lightyear doll just moments ago, drop everything to see faces outside that window?

But it has become not just their joy. It is now my joy. To them, I am a rock star! Not always of course. I’m still one of the two disciplinarians in the house. But they race across the wood floor (pitter-patter) to say hi. They hug with all their might. And of course, they race to the window.

In just a few years those faces won’t be glued to that window. They’ll have other things more stimulating to consume them. But I’m gonna take it and drink it in for now. Just this morning one was in diapers and the other in her favorite squirrel outfit. Both with hair reaching to the sky indicating a good night of sleep. They’re the same height. Their little bodies crowded next to each other hoping against all hope that I would see them as I pulled out of the driveway. Yearning to make eye contact, acknowledge them, and wave. When our eyes met they jumped up and down and waved their arms with unbridled enthusiasm. Had I replicated their exuberance, I would’ve pulled a shoulder muscle.

Thank you, God, for little kids! Give me their energy, joy, passion, and faith. And help me to hold on to these days forever.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Drywall Spirituality

The Home Improvement Continues.  Week 12:  texturing walls.  This one I've postponed for a while.  Much easier to paint & tear down walls you know?  But one bedroom is lagging way behind the others - apparently 8 year old girls don't like the rustic "chic-ness" of untextured sheetrock.  Go figure!

So we borrowed a hopper/texture gun thingy (don't know the proper term) and textured about two rooms.  It took a few tries to master - not to mention the two hours I spent scraping one wall because the texture was so gloppy and oversized we were either in grave error or setting a new trend.

The texture provides a great metaphor.  You think painting a room makes a mess?  This stuff gets everywhere!  It's sticky and attaches to shoes, doorknobs, hair, floors, pets - whatever is in the way. 

We texture because we want to make beautful what seems bland on the inside - if not downright ugly.  In the process to cover up what we don't want seen, we expose that we don't have it all together.  We make messes, we scrape off, we try to make pretty.

If you come look at my texturing, the blemishes are obvious - nothing to hide here.  But I'm okay with that.  I'm Scottish and proud not to have spent over $16 to texture two rooms!  And I've been humbled enough in life to know that God knows what my drywall looks like.

Then just as each texturing pattern (is it called orange peel?) displayed is unique (think snowflakes or fingerprints), I know that mine is beautiful in God's eyes.  It isn't like anyone else/s and it is full of character - what others may call blemishes.  But God can use that texturing pattern even though it's not perfect.  Thank you God for working through my imperfections! 

Now I can't wait til it's dry so I can paint.  I paint way better than I texture.