Football and Other Team Sports

The past few weekends have found me watching a whole lot of football.  Some exciting things were happening for teams down here in our parts.  My little guy is a huge football fan, and I enjoy seeing his joy, so I’ve picked up watching and rooting for teams again.  It brings back happy memories of Sunday afternoons laying on the couch with Daddy kicked back in his recliner, watching the games and not betting on the games because Mama didn’t allow that.  (Okay, there may have been a quarter or two that exchanged hands. Shhhh.)

Saturday we watched the Falcons game over at MessCat’s house.  Leroy had invited us to join them for the Big game.  I’m not sure he knew what he was getting into, because I can get rather vocal in my cheering on of the team of choice.  And with the playoffs on the line, I was pretty…..ummm, into it all.

Y’all, I watched my little guy cry real tears when the Patriots came back in the second half of that Super Bowl last year.  I’d have loved for the Falcons to have another shot.  But they didn’t win on Saturday, so they don’t, and nobody handled it better than my little guy.  He just moved on to the next game…..and cheering on anyone playing the Patriots.  He’s growing up.  And adapting.

I’m a proud Mama.

While we watched the games, I was intrigued by something that seems new to me.  When a player caught the ball and landed on the ground, there were several occasions of it being in question as to whether the player had “control” of the ball when he landed.

Really?

I mean, is this new?

My brother-in-law explained that they were really cracking down on this this season–that if it didn’t appear that the player had control of the ball, the pass was not complete.

Oh.  My.  Stars.

I don’t mean to sound old (I mean, yeah, I’m rapidly approaching that state), but back in my day, if they caught the ball and didn’t drop it when they fell, it was complete.

Or at least that’s the way I understood it.

I cannot tell you how many plays we had to sit and wait after while the folks in New York made the call as to whether a player in Philadelphia or Massachusetts actually had control of the ball.

Never mind that the player did not lose the ball when he landed on the hard ground.

It was really, really annoying.

And while I’m not going to argue about the ins and outs of football–I don’t need to know all the intricate details, I leave that to fans like my little fella–I have been chewing on why maybe this has bothered me so much.

And here it is.  Way too often in this life, we are hit by something from out of the blue.  Something that knocks us for a loop, sends us off track, causes us to lose our way for a moment.  And  way too often, there are those around us all too ready to have us doubt ourselves and how we are handling things.  How well we are hanging on to the good in our life.  They would have us thinking that we don’t have a hold on things, no matter what we know to be true.

We didn’t drop the ball.

We are still hanging on.

And we will get back up and carry on.

No matter what those in New York–or anywhere else for that matter–have to say about us.

The other thing that struck me was that each and every person watching had an opinion as to whether the ball had been properly “caught” or not.  Usually said opinion had a direct relationship to the person watching’s team preference.

And then it was a couple of days later that this hit me.

Life is a team sport, isn’t it?  

For the most part y’all, we don’t do life by ourselves.

We have folks around us, doing this life journey alongside us.  Sometimes folks are cheering for us, and other times, sadly way too often, folks are cheering against us.  There are times when people we have on our side get traded or retire and we are given new team members.  New people to meet and get to know, and soon our stories and journeys are intertwined as we head onto the field together.  Some days we win, some days we lose, and all those days in between…..

we learn.  We try.  We practice.  We rest.  We sit in the stands and cheer others on.  Or help them get down their own field.  We revive and restore and then…..

we try to get down the field a little bit more.  Together.  With the help of those beside us.

A team sport.  Where we learn to trust and share and pass the ball when we need help and block the hard things as best we can.  And when one of us gets knocked down…..

we reach over and give them a hand up.

I think that has been my favorite part of watching the games, and I didn’t even realize it. That hand that goes out to the player on the ground…..and it’s ALWAYS there.  I’ve yet to see someone have to get up off that ground alone.  No matter what the situation was that put them there.

Tonight I’m thankful for the ones running along with me and for those cheering me on.  I’m thankful for the ones up ahead who have made a way and for the ones coming behind.  Most of all, I’m thankful for the ones who sit with me when I’ve been knocked down and offer a hand to pull me back to my feet when I’m ready, all without judging what knocked me down or how I came to be there.

Life is a team sport.  I’m going to hold on to that image.  For the days I’m feeling knocked down, dragged out.  And for the days when those around me need someone to cheer them on or someone to pass the ball to…..or someone to remind them that no ma’am, you did not drop that ball.  You hung on to it.  And you might be on the ground right now, but you’re okay.  And together we’re going to get you back up and on your way.

Look around, y’all.  Give your team people squad posse fans coaches fellow players a big ol’ high five.  Because you’ve got this.  Some days you may run into double overtime and find yourself a touchdown behind, but we’re all going to be okay no matter what the folks in New York say.  Because we are together.  And if you’re sitting on the bench by yourself right now, don’t stay there.  We pick you to be on our team.  Come on over.  Because we can never have too many folks to count on and share the journey with.  There’s no such thing as too many players on the field in this version of the game.

Thanks for playing alongside me.  Love to all.

 

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Chasing the Darkness With a Big Ol’ Broom

So today I heard the Story of the Chicken.

I have a friend, an amazing young woman in her last year of college who shared it on Facebook, and that chicken is what I’ve thought about much of today.

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Sweet chicken has no idea all the good in store for her. Photo courtesy of my talented photographer friend https://www.facebook.com/sunshinephotography2012

Apparently this poor chicken fell off of a “chicken truck,” and my friend and her friends saw it.  When questioned about the fate of the chicken, she shared that the bus driver for their apartment area was going to come back and get the fallen bird.

The bus driver has a farm.

This chicken is on her way to be a pet.

Oh bless.  That makes my heart so happy!

I’ve thought about that poor chicken and how she must have figured, riding on that truck, that the worst had pretty much happened and her fate was sealed.  Then, as if things couldn’t get any worse, she falls off that truck.

Which wound up being a wonderful turning point in her life instead of the great tragedy it could have been.

Thanks to the kind soul of the bus driver.

I do this, do you?  I ride along thinking things are really bad and then something happens and I think OH NO COULD THIS GET ANY WORSE? and it turns out that, no actually, what I thought was going to be even worse is really quite wonderful.

Not always.  But enough times that I find myself having hope even in the hardest of situations, when it just makes no sense.

Sometimes we’re the chicken, y’all–in a real predicament.

But sometimes, we get the opportunity to be the bus driver.

And when we do, we should take it.  We really, really should.

The bus drivers of the world, the ones willing to take another in and give them comfort–they are the folks who are chasing the darkness into a corner with a big ol’ broom and making this world a much better place.

One little soul at a time.

Love to all.

The One About the Parking Garage

The day my Aunt and I found ourselves in a parking garage was a day of rain and slick roads and hard things and laughter and stories and all the good things of being with someone you love and adore can be, despite what the Universe has going on around you.

Because, in case I haven’t mentioned it, I do love and adore her.

As we pulled into the garage, intent on parking and getting to our destination and reason for the nearly three hour trip, I began the descent (yes descent–interesting setup in that one) on the first deck.  I was remembering other times in parking garages maybe or maybe I was finally relaxing after driving through some heavy rain, not exactly sure of the route. Whatever the reason, I kind of zoned out. (Kind of nothing–I was in another world.)  I remember looking to my left and thinking it curious that I was still seeing an outside view even though we had circled down a couple of floors and should have been underground already. 

After making three complete circles of floors and not seeing a single parking space, my Aunt gently interrupted whatever was going on in my brain.

“You do know we are just circling around on the same level, don’t you?”

 

 

Ahem.

Well actually I didn’t.

All I could do was laugh.  She is the sweetest soul, and she was so gentle in her prodding me back to the present.  But y’all know as she rode shotgun and I didn’t do anything to go below to another deck that she had to have been thinking, “What the French toast is she doing?  No one is going to have pulled out of one of these spaces that quickly.”

With her help I finally figured out how to go down a level and then another.  It was on the third level below that we found the perfect spot.  One easily pulled into and out of, with plenty of space around it–excellent and desirable qualities in a parking garage parking space.

I’m pretty sure we laughed the whole way to the elevator that led back up to ground level. 

I’m thankful for my Aunt for so many reasons, but right now I’m thankful for her gentle prompting to keep me from continuing to go around in circles.

Because if she hadn’t y’all, I’d still be there right now.  Circling around.  Wondering how come no spots were opening up.

In this life we have those moments, don’t we? All of us.  When we get our wheels stuck.  Or we circle around and around, never really advancing or getting anywhere, unable to move forward.  Isn’t it nice when we have folks who love us enough to gently call us out on it, and then laugh with us when we wonder what on earth we had been thinking?

If you have one of those folks, give ’em a hug.  If you are one of those wonderful people who help the rest of us keep on keeping on, thank you.  Here’s a hug from me.  We need you in our lives, with your caring ways and gentle reminders of how to move forward.  Thank you.

Love to all.

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By Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York (Metro-North’s North White Plains Parking Garage) [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

The Stranger and the Orange Chair

Tonight at Evening Prayer we were talking about strangers.  In the middle of listening to the story of Abraham and Sarah greeting a stranger and the story of the men on the road to Emmaus coming upon a stranger, one thing came to mind.

The orange chair.

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My rendition of our orange chair. It was given away years ago.

 

In our little five-room house on Boy Scout Road that we lived in from when I was not quite three until I was nine (when we had six people living there and my parents decided enough was enough), we had an orange chair.

Perhaps I should explain this was back in the 70’s.

Orange was the old black back then.

It sat by the door to the little hall in the center of the house.  The one where the space heater sat.  The chair was upholstered in a lovely fabric.  I’m sure it wasn’t silk but it had a neat feel to it.  It was built all square and quite comfortable.

One rainy (Sunday?) night, we heard something outside.  The edges of this memory are hazy, but I know I was very young.  I remember the open door revealing a dark night, with the exception of the street light, and the rain pouring down.  And the young man who was coming into our house.

We didn’t know him.  Only that there’d been an accident.  Right in front of our house.  He had been riding his motorcycle and what with the rain, he’d laid it down right about the time a station wagon was coming from the other direction.

I don’t remember there being anyone there at that time besides him, and I don’t think it was a hit and run either.  I guess the station wagon wasn’t involved in the accident, but it was a part of the story.

Mama led him to sit in the orange chair.  He was pretty shaken up.  And hurt.  I remember a bustle of activity.  Mama went to nursing school before she started college, so she knew the basic things to do for him.  Or maybe that was just her Mama know-how kicking in.  I think she or Daddy must have called for an ambulance because I vaguely remember others coming in, and I don’t remember Daddy leaving to drive him anywhere.

What I remember most is him sitting in the chair.

And I remember what I saw after he left.

Little drops of blood.

Over the years the chair had one or another “chair cover” thrown over it.  I guess it was because of those little blood stains.  Or because it was orange.  Maybe a little bit of both.  We had some fancy ones–ones with fringe and that foam backing so it didn’t slide.

(Respect the chair cover.  Mama could redecorate anytime she wanted.  Well, when there was one on sale.  Not that she did. But she could have.)

Tonight when I remembered that chair, I realized that was the first time I remember seeing my parents help out someone they didn’t know.  Giving.  Caring.

But it wasn’t the last time.  Not at all.   And the lesson stuck.

When it comes to someone in need, there is no such thing as a stranger.  When someone is hurt or lost or broken or hungry, you sit them down in an orange chair and you do what you can with what you have to change their circumstances.  For the better.

And never mind how messy it gets.  As Mama reminded me on many occasions, “They’re just things.  Things can be replaced.  People can’t.”  And so she threw a chair cover over the orange chair and kept on–helping, caring, and making this world a better place.  (And not just by hiding the orange.)

May we all have the opportunity and heart to welcome a stranger this week.

Love to all.

 

 

The “H” word

Today the Zoo Crew and I were busy preparing for an evening of mischief and merriment.  We pulled out some of our Christmas treasures and our Princess was happily putting them throughout the house.  It was fun watching her plan where she wanted to put what, and I only naysayed her twice.  Once on my Granny’s Santa, which I wanted to grace my back porch this year and second, a pillow that belonged to my Mama.  Everything else I let stay where it was.  She was happy, and so was I.

I was in the kitchen working when I heard her talking to Cooter in the other room.  She was trying to get him to assist her in putting up some decorations.  He was lounging on the floor with a book, and she was flitting all over, putting Christmas lovelies in different places.

I was only half-listening when I heard her say to him, “Cooter, have you ever heard of the “h” word?”

Oh law, where was this headed?

I leaned toward the doorway to hear better.

He muttered something that sounded faintly like no.

“Well, it is H. E. L. P.  Help.  Have you ever heard of that?”  She sounded fed up.  But this Mama was quite relieved.

As far as “h” words go, that’s a good one.

I don’t know what Cooter said back, but his sister asked him didn’t he want to help her and he said no.

I could hear her voice as she moved about the room, “Well why not?  It really makes you feel good.”

Well.

Just–

Wow.

Now while I am glad she is beginning to get it, I can reassure you this hypothesis of hers is still in its experimental stages, or else she would be doing it more.  Since it makes her feel so good and all.

Actually, she has gotten better at seeing what needs doing and–okay, truth, she’s getting better at responding when I ask her to do something.  She dusted today.  That, my friends, was huge.  Y’all know how I feel about dusting.

Tonight I’m thankful that the “h” word, according to our Princess, is “help.”  When she first started spelling it I wasn’t sure what conversation I was about to have to have with her.  I give thanks for her willing and cheerful hands today–from dusting to caring for Miss Sophie to vacuuming and helping at the grocery store, she was my right hand girl today, and I appreciate her and her cheerful spirit so much.

I’m also glad she feels good when she helps.  That is a beautiful thing, and I hope she always feels that way.

And it reminds me of something that I often forget–helping others makes folks feel good–so maybe the next time someone asks if they can help…..

maybe I should just share some joy and say yes.

Too often we try to carry our burdens and tasks and life all by ourselves.  As Princess reminded me today, we don’t have to do it alone.  If we let others help us, it just might bless them too.

Yeah.  I need to work on that one.

Whether you are helping another or letting them help you, I hope your day is full of the “h” word and all the good feelings that come along with it.

Love to all.

 

Grace and Home Improvement

I learned something new today.

They say you should make that your goal each day, you know?  So today I did it, and that makes me glad.   Doesn’t happen every day, so it’s kind of a big deal.

Today Leroy and my Fella were hanging some shades for me.  It was no small task, and I am thankful they were willing to take it on together.

While they worked and Mess Cat and I visited, the thought occurred to me–the thing that Mama often quoted:

“Many hands make for light work.”

Truth.

But that’s nothing new; I already knew that one.

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And I thought about another thing I know from home repairs and home projects–“Measure twice, cut once.”

That one came in handy big time with this project.  We almost made a really big mistake.

It’s a good thing to remember–like “righty tighty, lefty Lucy.”  I use that phrase a lot–especially when I’m outside turning on the water spigot.  I love little memory tricks like that.

But it was when the project hit a snag today that I learned a new and important part of home improvement projects.

Leroy and the Fella were putting their heads together over what would be the best next step to take.  The Fella mentioned our local hardware store not far from here, and Leroy’s face lit up.  “Yeah, I’ve been wanting to go in there.”  They were both smiling at this point.  It was pretty close to precious.

“You know, it’s not a real home project until you have to make at least one trip to the hardware store,” Leroy told me.

Really?  No, I didn’t know.

But I do now.

After they returned and were working on putting holes where holes needed to be and not putting holes where holes didn’t need to be, Leroy put a hole in one of his fingers.  (Well, not a hole exactly, but there was plenty of blood.)  He asked for a paper towel and a band-aid.  As I went to gather them, I thought of another quote of Mama’s: “The right tools make any job easier.”

Leroy quickly cleaned himself up, put on the band-aid, and went back to work, announcing, “A trip to the hardware store and an injury.  That’s how you know we’re almost done.”

Again, good to know.  Duly noted.

Tonight I’m thankful for windows with shades and for the two guys who made that happen.  Isn’t it awesome that we all have different gifts and talents and that we can share those to help others around us?  I give thanks for a job well done and for lessons learned in the midst of it.  All other lessons aside, Leroy taught me once again about the gift of grace.  He set out to do the job, but his game plan allowed for grace.  Grace when all the necessary tools weren’t in place, and grace for when there was a mistake.  He didn’t beat himself or anyone else up and make the whole experience even more difficult than it already was.  He had built-in grace.  We need something we don’t have?  No worries, we can go see what they have at the hardware store that can work.   A slip of the hand and there’s a cut and blood?  No problem, clean it up, slap on a band-aid, and let’s finish this job.  I love it.  Today my brother-in-law and my Fella taught me that even in home projects, in the words of my Bubba, “It’s never that serious.”  It’s all about getting it done.   Doing the best we can with what we have and keeping our wits about us.  Working with others and helping folks out.  With smiles on our faces and grace in our hearts.

Kind of sounds like a good way to go about life too, doesn’t it?

Love to all.