Quitters sometimes win

I went to a small high school, which meant many athletic opportunities for me. I played volleyball and basketball. Volleyball was my love and I made varsity my freshman year. I had to work harder in basketball, and after three years of climbing for a spot, my senior year began with promise of a starting position. Little did I know that my coach was busy recruiting girls to play for our school- tall girls. After a few weeks of practice, I realized that not only was I not going to start, I was not going to play much. This made me evaluate how I was spending my time and consider my options. The day before our first game, I walked into the coach’s office with my bag packed. I set it on her desk and I quit.

I had a simple explanation prepared about how I wanted to spend my time my senior year and about my lack of future in the sport. I’m not tall. With angry tears she lectured me, telling me how ridiculous I was for quitting on the brink of a state championship. She asked me to reconsider, she promised me playing time, but I had made up my mind and was at peace. Quitters never win, she reminded me as I left her office.

I found myself with lots of spare time all of the sudden, time that used to be filled with practices and games and tournaments. Most of my friends played on the team… so I got a job at a bookstore, hoping to save some money for college. Before my first day of work, one of my friends and I went to the bookstore to inquire about the dress code. There were two guys working, and when I introduced myself, the tall one held out his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Neil.”

We shook hands. And after a few months we held hands. And fourteen years later, we still hold hands.

We played basketball with our kids last week. As Jeremiah’s frustration with the height of the goal increased, I thought about what my response will be when they are tempted to quit a sport. Decisively I will encourage my kids to work hard and persevere. I will teach them to be team players and finish what they start. I will walk along side of them as their character is shaped by sitting the bench or striking out. But before they face all the inevitable challenges of team sports, I hope they know the faithfulness of our Father. I hope they are accustomed to hearing his voice and following his leading.

My high school basketball team won state my senior year. I was working that night.

Checking In

It’s true what they say… That days turn to months and so on. A little blogging break in the summer turned into five months away from this place, without intention. I don’t need to tell you why, you are just as busy as I am. I miss writing and keeping a record of our days. I intend to be back here, however I am not sure yet what it will look like. I have ideas to help me be consistent, I have ideas to spark creativity. But we’ll see. For those of you wondering, we are well. Before summer gets too far behind us, here are a few glimpses of how we spent our days…

 At the river…

At the ocean…

And at the lake!

Until next time, friends.

Hanging bookshelves

I just realized that the boys’ beds are not the first thing we’ve hung! I thought I’d show you one of the first projects that we did in this house, even though the room is still not finished. As you know, we love to read. We are always collecting books, and they were slowly taking over our house. This was apparent in our last move, almost five years back, when they ended up in every room, in piles and stacks and random bookshelves. My husband has always loved the idea of a home library, so he was up for the task!

My original idea was that the chain would run through the shelves from floor to ceiling, but we ended up cutting it attaching it to the wall because the L-shaped brackets did not provide enough support for the heavy books.

Below you can see the support brackets that run the length of the shelves, one every couple of feet. This is Antonella’s favorite reading spot! We usually keep our library books on these empty shelves. 

The actual shelves are 8-foot unfinished cedar planks. Remember the ladder in the boys’ bedroom? It used to be in here, and we cut it to fit their bunks. There are still a few piles of books around the house… but mostly on bedside tables, with bookmarks and bent ears.

Go ‘stros!

The Astros are the worst team in major league baseball right now. They have lost more than 50 games. I don’t know much about baseball, but during any particular game there are two, maybe three exciting moments worth getting out of your seat for.

But we’re okay with this. We still go.

To be totally honest, it’s not because we’re die-hard Astros fans. It’s not even because our boys love baseball. We have found it to be one of the cheapest, most fun ways to spend time as a family this summer.

Kids are free! And the nosebleeds are empty… well, most of the stadium is empty. But what that means for us is that our kids are able to run around, be loud, and not disturb anyone. They love going, they love cheering, and they love all the audience participation during the game. They dream of being the lucky row that wins gift certificates!

Three plus hours later, Neil and I have had a chance to talk, the kids are exhausted and dirty, and we have all enjoyed the evening together, with fireworks to boot.

So for now, we’re okay with a losing home team. Jeremiah has already caught on and told me he’s always been a Cubs fan anyway. Sure, we all still are. But you have to cheer for your home team, especially if it provides such fun family memories!

Father’s Day Gift

We celebrated Father’s Day with my dad yesterday, and as we went about our usual Sunday routine–big feast, kids running around, lots of lounging and joking and story-telling–I had the thought that maybe I know what every father wants for Father’s Day. I know my husband wants this gift. And I know my father and my father-in-law deeply enjoy this gift, because they have already received it.

My dad and my brothers

I imagine that after years of diligent discipline, sacrificial giving, and unconditionally loving your sons… I imagine that there is great reward in spending a Father’s Day watching these grown boys, these men, father their own children. I imagine that although I know my father would say he’s made many mistakes in raising us and our lives are only due to the grace of God… I imagine that there is the deepest joy in knowing that your sons have followed your footsteps in the way that matters most: leading the next generation to the Eternal Father.

My father-in-law raised two boys, and as the wife of one of them I can only marvel at what an amazing father my husband is. My father raised two boys, and they are devoted and loving fathers. And my father also raised a daughter who is the mother of three boys, who will someday be fathers, and who will someday realize the rich inheritance, the gift, that has been passed down to them from the men who chose to lead them to the Perfect Father.

I am thankful for this gift.

My husband and his brother with their father. Yes, my husband is the one on the left.

Entrepreneur

Every successful business starts with a great idea…

Jeremiah spent all morning making bottle cap necklaces. He enlisted his sister as a associate partner in his company. They set up a two-man assembly line, taking turns drilling holes, cutting leather, and tying the string.

He made a display stand…

He then pitched his idea to his father, who agreed to support his dream by walking down to the stop sign and setting up shop. Jeremiah’s company now had three employees.

He knew that to really get his company off the ground he had to advertise.

He enticed customers with special offers, like free delivery and buy-one-get-one-free.

I left to run an errand, and I have to be honest and say I had my doubts. He set the price at a dollar per necklace. I was gearing up for a teachable moment, to explain to him the harsh and often disappointing truths of commerce. When I returned, I found that his company now had five employees, and he greeted me by holding up a jar full of money. As the flow of cars slowed down and we packed up to go home, without any prompting he thanked his workers and paid them each a dollar. I guess I’ll have to save my lecture for another day. Jeremiah’s first business was successful. After all, the cars had to stop at the sign, and who can resist this cute kid  bottle cap necklaces?

Full of Life

The last couple of months have been busy–busier than we expected. Life happening has kept me away from this space, but there are a few things from this past season that I’d like to share with you. While I get those posts finished up, here are a few of the things we’ve been up to…

Working 

Serving 

Creating 

Learning 

and playing! 

All this, mixed in with several trips, meetings, a couple of rounds of fevers, and a freaky allergic reaction on my little guy. Yes, we’ve been busy, but I like to think that it is because life is full to the brim… full of the things that make our glass overflow 

To my daughter, about my mother

Antonella,

Your Mamu was there when you were born, and she stayed for a week after to help me. I have a very clear memory of her sitting on the edge of my bed while I tried to nurse you. I was trying and you were hungry and it hurt so bad. With tears in her eyes, she said, “I wish I could take the pain for you.”

I know she would have. And I think this memory has stayed with me because as I held you in that moment I realized that I would know her, my mother, in a new way now. Because of you, I would understand her, who she is and what she has been for the majority of her life- a mother. And her simple, honest words in that moment showed me so much about what it means to be a mom.

She has, in so many ways, carried my pain. Practically she has served me endlessly and unselfishly. She has taken care of me without a thought to her own needs. She has listened to me and counseled me, never judging. But most of all I know that every pain that I have experienced has been carried to the Throne of Mercy by her. And as I have been overwhelmed by her love and protection of me all my life, I so wish to love and protect you.

Your grandmother, Antonella, showed me that being a mother is a joy-filled privilege. And you proved her right.

It is a happy Mother’s Day.