Tag Archive | Traditions

Making the Connection

Tonight, Dave met our new neighbors.  I know this isn’t going to be easy for him.  He has lived in this house since he was about 8 years old and for most of his life, he’s had the same neighbor living next door.

timtaylor_and_wilson

Remember Tim the “Toolman” Taylor and all his meetings with his neighbor, Wilson at the backyard fence?

They met in our back yard.  Nathan, our new neighbor, introduced himself to Dave, and they began to talk as they watched a pile of brush burning.

“What are the neighbors like around here?” Nathan asked.

Dave was honest.  He told him who would help him out if he needed help and who to avoid.  He shared about who would try to be your best buddy to the point they were a nuisance and also about those that you are lucky if you see their face once a year.

He stood out there in the yard talking to him and getting to know him for quite some time.  It was long enough for the fire to die down to just some glowing embers.

While he was meeting and getting to know the new neighbors, I was busily packing for retreats.  Yes, I said retreats.  I am “retreating” for the next 5 1/2 days.  First, Katie and I will be going to the Mother/Daughter retreat at Joy El Camps and Retreats.  As soon as I’m finished with that retreat and get Katie back home, I’ll be retreating again with my fellow staff members.  I’m looking forward to both retreats.

Katie and I have been going to the Mother/Daughter retreat ever since she was in 2nd grade.  We look forward every year to this time away together where we can be “girls” together.

Staff retreat is different.  We go as a group to another campground and usually have something that we’re working on together…a book, a topic, a plan for the coming year.  Though most of our day is spent working on these things, there are fun moments as well.  We always learn something about each other at these retreats!  Last year, we learned how competitive our Creative Marketing Specialist is, as well as our Director!  We also learned what kind of animal we were…a Lion, a Beaver, an Otter, or a Golden Retriever.  (You can check it out here: Smalley Trent Personality Test).  The year before, it was a game of “Things” that had us in stitches.  We learned “things you should never do on a bus” included: licking the windows, yelling fire, or letting Tanya drive.  We played late into the evening, getting to know one another’s personalities by the answers we gave.

No matter what the retreat, it’s a time to get away and to connect with others, a time to connect with God too.

I packed my bags for both retreats so I’ll be ready to drop one bag off and pick up another on Sunday afternoon.  As I finished, Dave came in the door.  “Met our new neighbors!” he said.

“Really, are they nice?” I asked.

“Yeah, Nathan and Christine seem really nice.  I think we’ll be glad they’re moving in next door. They have chickens!  Christine said she’ll bring you some eggs.”

“Cool! Fresh eggs!  I like her already!  Do they have children?” I wondered.

“Nope, not yet.  They’re quite a bit younger than us, but they seem to have a lot of the same thoughts and ideals we do.  I’ll think we’ll get along just fine.”

Now I’m anxious to connect with the new neighbors too!

Making connections with others is good, but a time of retreat and refreshment is also good.  In Mark 6:31, we read, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  Jesus was talking to his disciples here and suggested they get away from the crowds and just have a time of rest.  However, the crowds followed and Jesus ends up performing the miracle of feeding the 5,000!  His “staff retreat” was interrupted, but I don’t think He minded.

Katie and I at last year's Mother/Daughter retreat.

Katie and I at last year’s Mother/Daughter retreat.

I feel pretty certain that I will not have to feed 5,000 people with two fish and five loves of bread at either one of my retreats!  But, I do feel pretty certain that I will connect with my daughter, connect with my cousin and her daughter who are joining us at this retreat, connect with other moms I haven’t seen since the last retreat, and then connect in new ways with my fellow co-workers.

We all need time away where we can disconnect from the ordinary and connect in another way.   I can hardly wait for tomorrow when my retreats begin!

♥Miriam

♫Take me OUT of the ball game!♫

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Do you remember the “good old days”? You know, those days when we could run around the neighborhood unafraid of those we would meet. Those days when it was hot outside and it was still okay to drink from the water hose? Those days when you worked for everything you got and nothing was just handed to you?

Those good old days are gone. I am concerned for our younger generation. It’s taken the sport of softball and baseball to bring this concern to light for me.

Back when I was a kid (now I’m sounding like my mother or worse yet, my grandparents!) when we played organized sports it was vastly different than playing sports today.  We kept score. We won or we lost. We got awards if we EARNED them. (I could go on and on here.)

Now that my daughter plays softball, I find it absolutely appalling the way this sport is handled at this age level.  At certain levels of the sport, they don’t even keep score at the games. When I asked about this, I was told, “It doesn’t matter who wins (okay, I’ll agree with that) so we just let everyone play (again, I’ll agree) and just have fun.”

Okay, fine. This is “do-able.”  So then I ask, “When we get to the play offs, how do you determine who wins the championship if you’re not keeping score?”

“Oh, we’ll keep score then to determine how they finish.”

Ah, wait a minute. Back up here. So, you don’t keep score all season long, the girls are clueless as to if they won or lost and then all of a sudden when it’s playoff time scores are important? Don’t you think that’s a little confusing for the kids?

Knowing this ahead of time, parents would sit in the stands with tablets and scrap paper, keeping score themselves just so they could know who won or lost. “Who wins or loses isn’t important,” they say. Really? Tell that to the next 2 candidates for president. I think they would beg to differ that it DOES matter who wins or not.

When playoff time finally came around, Katie’s team lost their first game and were automatically eliminated from the rest of the playoffs. I started to help Katie pack up her gear and we started toward the van. “Wait! Come back! They all need to get their awards.”

Awards? You get an award for losing now? Yup, apparently you do. Each girl on the team was given a trophy. Even Jenny* who only showed up for 3 practices and when up to bat, just kept swinging the bat whether a ball was pitched or not and struck out every last time, got a trophy.  Ellen* who spent her time dancing on the field doing pirouttes and ballet moves, never caught a ball, never got anyone out, and when up to bat always injured herself somehow (usually, it was tripping over her own feet, because again, she was trying out a dance move) got a trophy. Abbie* who was always “too tired” to play and begged to be benched as often as possible and who rarely showed up on time and never seemed to have a ride home afterward, and only had one good hit the whole season, who also had a vocabulary that would make a sailor blush got a trophy. (*Names have been changed.)

What did this teach these three girls. It sure didn’t teach them that they have to work hard to earn something. It taught them that they could just goof off and get a trophy just like the other girls on the team who played their hearts out during unscored games. It taught them that they didn’t even have to show up to get the prize in the end.

This is just outrageous! Why can’t we go back to how it was? You know…where you kept score, there were winners and losers. The winners went out for icecream and the losers just went home. The ultimate winners got the big trophy for the team and little individual trophies for each player. The other teams got some sort of ribbon or token for participating, but nothing more. Everyone went home knowing that those who won the championship had worked hard to get there. They didn’t get the award just for showing up.

It disgusts me how we put our children in cocoons and try to protect them from disappointment and failure. No one wants to fail, but sometimes our greatest growth comes through failing.

How I miss the “good old days” when it wasn’t all sunshine and roses….but at least we knew right from wrong and that you don’t get a free ride. So, take me out of the ball game. I don’t want to play this way anymore. I’d love for our children to know what it is truly like to be a child. There are successes and there are failures. That’s life. What our children are living today is just a fairy tale. Hopefully, they’ll all turn out alright despite the sheltered life we force them to live.

I know this isn’t a typical post for me, but just something that I’ve been “stewing” on for a while and just needed to get it off my chest!

Thanks for reading!

♥Miriam

♫ It’s the Most Wonderful Time….♫

Spring brings many things…warmer weather, sweet smelling flowers, new colorful birds at the feeders, and softball.  Now, personally, I’m not excited about softball, but I do like going and watching a good game. Fortunately for me, Katie plays softball and looks forward to each practice and game.  And Katie is pretty good at it, even if I say so myself. It wasn’t always that way though.

Katie played T-ball first. You just have to love a bunch of 5-7 year-olds running amuck on the field, not really interested at all in the rules or really learning anything. They’re more interested in watching their teammates do weird things with their baseball hat. Dirt becomes a huge fascination as does pulling grass and picking dandelions. One of my favorite moments comes when someone actually hits a ball and the entire outfield goes running for it and wrestles each other to get the ball. In the meantime, the player who hit the ball could have lapped all the bases twice. I think the only purpose of T-ball is to get the kids to learn how to hit the ball. None of them really learns anything in the outfield. Overall, I found T-ball painful to watch between the hilarious moments.

Katie up to bat.

Katie up to bat.

Then she graduated to girl’s minor league slow-pitch softball. Still not really good at it, she tried her hardest. She was the littlest girl on the team. But we soon discovered something…this kid could run, and she could run FAST! Now, if we could just get her to hit the ball.

During her second year of slow-pitch, she got better, much better! This little pipsqueak starting getting people out at third-base and at home plate left and right! She hit her first double, and after that, consistently got on base and would hit doubles. The only thing she wasn’t good at was pitching and this really bothered her. So, since the end of last year’s season, she’s been practicing.

Getting an out at home plate!

Getting an out at home plate!

Unfortunately, Katie’s team hasn’t done well the past 2 years. Each year at the playoffs, they have bombed out pretty quickly. She has not been a “good loser”. She really needs to do some practicing with that!

Now, in 2 weeks, we’ll get to see what she’s capable of. This year, it’s a new ballgame…fast pitch softball. It’s also a new team, The Flash. And, we have a new coach. Katie is excited about all of it. I’m excited for her. Yes, it’s 3 months or so of running and running and running. But, this is something that makes her happy and so I’m happy for her.

Katie has been trying to keep her skills sharp in the off-season.  She is concerned about how well she will do this year. We’ve told her that she just needs to pay attention to what her coach is telling her. She needs to practice her skills. She wants to finish this season well, and hopes that she is on a winning team this time.

In  2 Timothy 2:5 is says, “An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” (ESV).  I think she needs to make this a “theme verse” for her softball season. (A little prayer couldn’t hurt either!)

♥Miriam

♫♪Baby it’s Cold Outside!♪♫

I can’t believe that every year we put all our hopes on the prediction of a rodent. I mean really, who started this idea that if a groundhog sees or doesn’t see his shadow it predicts how the rest of winter will go? Well, I was curious, so I did a little reasearch.

It seems that Groundhog Day orginated from German settlers who settled in Pennsylvania. It is based on their celebration of Candlemas (or Candle Mass) Day. Candlemas Day was to commemorate the day that Jesus was presented in the temple as a child. Now, I’m not sure how the Pennsylvania Germans decided that this was a good day to see if the neighborhood groundhog was going to come out and see it’s shadow. After all, in the bible, there is no mention of a groundhog at the presentation in the temple. So, who and why this tradition was actually started, remains a mystery to me. Here’s an article from Wikipedia that talks about Groundhog Day and Candlemas Day. (Which wasn’t extremely helpful in giving me an actual person to blame for this silly holiday!) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog_Day

Punxsutawney Phil and his handler.

Punxsutawney Phil and his handler.

I have not, nor ever will rely on the predictions of an obese squirrel-like rodent, especially since many of his relatives like to make giant holes in my backyard. Spring will come when it wants to. In the meantime, I’ll start looking at the seed catalogs I get (even though I don’t have a garden) and dream about warmer weather as I snuggle up with a hot cup of tea and try to stay warm.

Smile away, little strange man holding a groundhog. You know very well you don’t really believe Phil’s prediction either! (Honestly, I don’t really know of anyone who does believe it!)

Keep warm!

♥Miriam