A Tricky, Sticky Kickball Game

My husband, Chris, and I were sitting at the dining room table as night was falling.  We were having dinner with most of our ten children.  The relative calm was interrupted when our middle three boys came bursting into the house with the delicacy of a herd of elephants.  They had been at the park and were returning home late. The chilly November air usually reminded them to return home much sooner than this. 

After much banging, clanging, and slamming of doors, the three of them stood before us.  Chai, age 13, was tall and muscular.  Cooper, 11, and Calvin, 9, were often mistaken for twins because they were so close in height and both wore glasses.  The resemblance ended there, however.  Cooper had dark hair and was very passionate.  Calvin, with his light hair and generous sprinkling of freckles, had a milder personality.

“Did you guys have fun?” Chris asked.

“Not really,” Calvin answered.

“Then why did you stay so long?” I asked.

Cooper, the natural comedian and storyteller began, “Well, we got the kickball stuck up in a tree.”

Cooper went on to recount the story of a very tricky, sticky kickball game.  Chai and Calvin chimed in with extra details now and then.

The boys had walked to the charming neighborhood elementary school just a block from our home. There they met many of the neighborhood children and had decided to play kickball.  All was fine until Isaiah made one powerful kick that landed the kickball in a tree. 

No problem.  Isaiah would simply launch his basketball and dislodge the kickball so they could get back to playing.  Except it turned out to be one sticky kickball that had perfectly wedged itself in between three branches.  After several failed attempts, the basketball got stuck in the tree too!

                No big deal.  Cameron had his basketball.  While Cameron threw his ball again and again, trying to hit one of the wedged balls, Jacob decided to climb the fence to see if he could reach the tree.  He was unable to get close enough, but he did get hit in the back by a wayward basketball. Unfortunately, Cameron fared no better than Isaiah, and his ball found a permanent perch in the tree as well. 

                No worries.  Someone offered their football.  This would surely work.  But alas!  It had the same fate as all the other balls.

                Now things were starting to look grim.  Desperate times called for desperate measures.  Cooper took off both of his shoes.  Maxwell took one of the sacrificial shoes and with strength and accuracy aimed at the kickball.  The shoe missed its intended target and landed right on a branch.  Cameron tried with the other shoe with the same result.  At this point Cooper was reprimanding them with rather high-pitched screams.

                Chai and Maxwell decided that they needed backup.  They walked back to our garage in search of more balls to throw.  All they could find were four deflated basketballs, but that was better than nothing.  While they were gone, Cooper’s feet were getting very cold.  He managed to fit one of his gloves onto one of his feet. 

                Just then Cooper noticed the School Principal, Mr. Stewart, walking to his car after a long day of work.  Cooper ran up to him and asked, “Is Mr. Dan [the janitor] still here?  Can he help us get our balls out of the tree?”

                Mr. Stewart glanced down and noticed Cooper’s feet.

                “What happened?” he asked with a funny look on his face.

                “I got my shoes stuck in the tree.” Cooper replied. 

                I am not sure what thoughts were going through the mind of the kind and wise Principal, but he simply replied, “We will have to get them down tomorrow,” and continued walking to his car.

                To Cooper, this was not an acceptable answer.  So what brilliant solution did Cooper devise with the help of his younger brother?  To throw this brother’s brand new shoes up into the tree, of course! When both of those got absorbed into The Tree, Calvin resorted to running across the street in his stocking feet to enlist the help of a neighbor friend.  This friend was not home, so it was back to square one.

                Janice, our energetic and joyful neighbor, had walked to the park with her young grand-daughter. She had been watching this entire drama unfold and found it quite amusing.  She took out her phone and was documenting the event with photos.  Her grand-daughter took on the role of cheerleader and kept saying in her cute, little girl voice, “You almost got it!  You almost got it down!”

                Chai and Maxwell returned with fresh ammunition and the tree received further battering by the four flat balls.  The tree proved to be a worthy adversary and claimed all but one of those balls. Thankfully, one of Calvin’s shoes was dislodged, so he returned it to one of his very cold feet.

The score was:

Elementary Playground Tree: 10  (1 kickball, 2 basketballs, 1 football, 3 flat balls, 3 shoes)

Seven Determined Boys: 2 (1 flat ball, 1 shoe)

                The boys were not to be defeated, however.  They continued with their strategy until eventually…slowly…one by one… each ball and each shoe had been knocked from its nesting place.

When Cooper finished his narrative, we were all consumed with laughter!  Finally the hilarity died down and Chris asked a question.

“Why didn’t you boys just get the ladder out of our garage?”

Cooper responded as though the answer should be obvious, “A bunch of boys walking to the park with a ladder?  That would just look silly!”

I Have Never Felt So Old

I just turned 40, and I have never felt so old.  I didn’t expect my 40th birthday to be such a big deal, but it has gotten me rather discouraged.

You see, as a young person, I had a much different vision of the person I would be at age 40. I imagined that I would be firmly established in some great work, resulting in many accomplishments and victories.  I thought I would be much more confident and able to teach others all the wisdom I possessed.

The opposite has happened.  I have simply become more aware of how infinitesimally small my knowledge really is.  I have become more aware of my tired bones and creaky joints.  I think the trends and fashions of my teenagers are weird.  I have never felt so old.

This is a new feeling for me.  I have always looked rather young for my age, not quite as grown up or sophisticated as I should.  When I had my first child at age 23, I looked like a teenage mother by people who didn’t know me.

Now I have white streaking through my dark brown hair, and I feel and look older than I ever had before.  I know that 40 is still very young, not even middle-aged!  I am still full of life and vitality…just sometimes I forget.

I took Courage, my three-year old to the park last week.  He was complaining about being cold, so I explained to him that if he started running around, he would warm up.  Then I demonstrated by running up the stairs of the jungle gym and dashing up and down the various bridges and towers.  Courage thought this was great and joined in.  He told me that I should follow him down the slide, so I complied.  It was fun until I whacked my hip on the side.  It wasn’t made to be used by a full-grown adult.  I decided to stand back and watch Courage play.

Suddenly he rushed over to the swings with such enthusiasm, I had to follow.  I sat down in the swing next to him.  Why did I ever like these things as a child?  They are too small and squeeze my hips painfully.

I gave it a try anyway.  I started pumping my legs and began to lift into the air.  My head began to spin and I got a bit woozy.  I thought of my Grammy who would never ride the carousel with me because it would make her dizzy.  I never understood why she would give up such joy!  Now I understand!

Still, I could feel the cool, crisp wind in my face!  It felt like I was flying!  I was free, like a bird in the sky!  This is how it feels to be a child again, hair blown back, face towards the sun.  It was glorious!

It was then that God spoke to me.

“You look at your child with such delight and wonder as he explores and discovers his world.  You recognize his potential and celebrate the man he will someday become.  You are certain that he will accomplish great things during his life.  He is so new and fresh, full of promise.

I see you that same way.  I still see you as the young child with wide-eyed wonder, your face towards that sky as you “fly” on the swing.  You are full of promise and potential.  You are not old at all compared to me, the Ancient of Days.  You are not behind schedule and it is not too late.”

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I love to hear God’s voice!  He energizes me and gives me hope!  I was trying to wrap my brain around my new-found childhood throughout the next week and into the weekend when I attended the yearly Women’s Conference at my church, Life Center.

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Many amazing women took the stage and shared about the outrageous love, mercy, forgiveness, faithfulness, and goodness of God.  At the very end of the conference, a group of young women stood up to share prophetic words that God had given them about the conference attendees.  Each of us attending had been given a special name tag that was hanging on a colored ribbon.  There were nine colors and each color had its own prophetic word.

My color was pink and Tiffany began to talk about how pink makes us reminiscent of our childhoods.

“What I felt for you women is that God wants you to be able to just see something, see what you are going through, see your life, see everything around you through this different perspective of a childlike faith…childlike expectations…There is just this excitement and enthusiasm that is going to come on you and you’re going to be able to see things from a different angle and from that childlike perspective, and even when hard things come up that you would be able to just not lose your step. I just saw you skipping around.”

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God’s voice at the playground had changed my perspective of myself.  God viewed me as still full of promise and potential. God delighted in watching me as though I was a carefree and eager child.  Perhaps I should think of myself that way too.

A woman I had never met came up to me during the conference.  She had a head of completely white hair that was styled in a cute, hip way.  She had a very young face (I later found out that she was only 46).  She must have notice those white streaks in my hair because she said to me, “I just wanted to let you know that your hair is going to be totally white like mine.  Mine started out very dark like yours, but I began to get some white hairs when I started having children.”

“I think your hair is very pretty.” I replied, wondering why she felt the need to inform me of the impending signs of aging knocking at my door.

“How old are you?”  She asked.

“40”

“OH MY GOODNESS!  I THOUGH YOU WERE IN YOUR TWENTIES!!!!”  She looked taken aback by my actual age.

I raised my hands in spontaneous enthusiasm and shouted like a silly child, “THANK YOU JESUS! YES!!!! I look like I am in my twenties!  THANK YOU JESUS!”

That women just made my day.  I think I am seeing myself more that way God sees me, and I am so tickled about it!