Thursday, March 26, 2015

It's Baseball Time

Opening week of spring baseball has officially begun. I guess you could say I have a love-hate relationship with baseball.

Carson is on the Warriors. He is with a lot of new boys, but some that he has played with in years past.  
Colby is on the Mustangs with a group of boys he has been with (most of them) for several years
Cooper is on the Rockies 
On one hand, I absolutely LOVE it. Love watching my boys play. Love the relationships I have made over the years with those we play with. Love the smell of the grill at the concession stand and the way the white lines are so perfectly formed on the dirt with the green grass outlining the outfield. I just love the game and the lessons that reach farther than the rules of baseball, and into the realm of day to day life. I love how each individual player has a particular moment to "shine," yet it is a team effort that carries the weight of how successful a season is.
Carson and Cooper (this night Coop had his last indoor soccer game at the same time Carson had his opening game) 
Carson with his buddy Addy Charest
Colby and Cooper before their games
The part of baseball I am struggling with, comes with longing for the one who LOVED this game with every fiber of who he was. Rod Cook was most passionate about a few things in his life on earth. His love for the Lord, his family, his friends, Alabama Football, beach sunsets, golf, and coaching baseball! I am so proud to watch the boys play the game their daddy loved, but it also rips my heart out, because he should be a part of this. The boys should be sharing in this passion with their dad. Instead, they have to settle for a frazzled mom, who is half-heartedly in it, because it just hurts too much. So, I continue to pray for strength and lots of grace!
Instead of being secondary support in the dugout from time to time, basically showing up for games, and worrying about getting uniforms washed in time, I am running like a mad woman, trying to figure out how I'm going to get in at least part of one of their games and still make it to another one. Who will I get to pick this one up for practice or bring that one home from a game? It's become a juggling act that never feels quite sufficient. It is only by the generosity of many who help me pull it off, that it is even doable. 

So, last year during this week, Rod was honored at opening ceremonies with a field named for him. It's hard to believe that was a year ago. This year, we scrambled, to get everyone where they needed to be and I teeter tottered between two fields, as I walked past the very field named to honor the boys' dad just last year during this same week. It is still surreal. I had to stop, take a deep breath, and choke back tears at the reality of it. 
I still picture him standing there on the field in his uniform, clip board in hand, spitting sunflower seeds. Intense as ever, yet smiling from ear to ear just ready to teach a kid something that they didn't already know about baseball. I see it as vividly as ever, and it still takes my breath away. Then, I see the sign with his name and I am quickly knocked back into the harshness of what is. 
So, we press on, and we will soak in another season of baseball...and we will choose thankfulness, even when so much is missing in this game we love. We do it for two reasons. 1.) Because it is what God tells us to do. (I Thessalonians 5:18- "Give thanks in ALL circumstances"), and 2.) There is not a doubt in my mind that it is exactly what Rod Cook would tell us to do and would expect us to do.

Take me out to the ballgame!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Beautifully Broken

God wastes nothing.
Do you believe that? Better yet, do I believe that? I have found myself attempting to really trust that to be true, even when my heart doesn't feel it. I know it's truth. Sometimes I just can't help but to look around me at all the brokenness and wonder how He will redeem it. When He will restore. What exactly, are His plans and how will He transfigure empty into full again. And, I'm not just talking about my own brokenness, but the brokenness of this world we live in.

Lately, God has been bringing up a consistent theme with me. I can almost hear Him shouting at me, "Trust me…I WILL make all things beautiful. I will pick up these broken pieces and make a masterpiece like nothing you have ever seen before."

Quite honestly, I have just had a really difficult time allowing my heart to expect what my mind experiences.

It was spring break last year, that the boys and I took our first trip alone. We hopped on a plane and took a one hour flight to the beach. I go back to a year ago in my mind, and it feels numb and heavy all at the same time. I kicked into "Mom Manager" mode, determined to make it. All the while, I remember being so aware of all the families around me, enjoying the beach, TOGETHER. All of them. Mom, kids, dog, grandparents, you name it...and yes, DAD. I seemed to notice more family dynamics, especially ones that included the dad. It felt like a dagger with each family I saw "complete". It spotlighted my lack of completeness. My broken family doing the best we could to fumble the broken pieces together into a jumbled mess. Nothing about it looking right or complete. Behind the smile and "I've got it together" look, I was a mess. I don't even know if I realized how much of a mess I was. Looking back, I see it clearly.

Today at church, I heard these words:

"A time of brokenness exposes the core of who we are"

Isn't that the truth? My brokenness felt especially exposed on that trip and I remember feeling so desperate for God to do a transformation of healing…and I wanted it RIGHT THEN!

One year later, healing is still in process. I imagine it might always be, because I can't quite see how part of me won't always ache. It will. That's okay. He can still heal and it doesn't mean I won't feel. The core of who I am is hopeful for that. Sometimes my lack of patience and trust just gets in the way.

I wanted to share this from Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts. This was what we discussed with my small group of ladies that meets to discuss this book recently. Timing a coincidence? I think not.

God transfigures...Darkness into Light
                              Bad into Good
                              Grief into Grace
                              Empty into Full

He "makes everything work out according to His plan" (Ephesians 1:11).

I also want to include something that I read from a devotional today March, 15th. I don't think it is by mistake that this goes right along with what God has been saying to me over the past week. This is from Streams in the Dessert, by L.B. Cowman. I absolutely love this!

Christ is building His Kingdom with the broken things of earth. People desire only the strong, successful, victorious, and unbroken things in life to build their kingdoms, but God is the God of the unsuccessful- the God of those who have failed. Heaven is being filled with earth's broken lives, and there is no "bruised reed" (Isaiah 42:3) that Christ cannot take and restore to a glorious place of blessing and beauty. He can take a life crushed by pain and sorrow and make it a harp whose music will be total praise. He can lift earth's saddest failure up to Heaven's glory.

I pray that I will be a "harp whose music will be total praise." I'm putting one foot in front of the other, trusting God is bigger, that He wastes nothing, and His restoration and transfiguration of my brokenness are promised. Even when my heart doesn't feel it!
The bench at their daddy's grave came in around Christmas time. The boys wanted "Roll Tide" written on one side.  Love it!