All because of darts

Dart league brought us together.

In a bar.

Neither of these are things I ever imagined about my future husband back when I was wondering if I’d ever get married.  For awhile, I thought for sure that I’d meet my mate at church or some related activity, so naturally I threw myself into every church-based event I could–small group Bible study, leading a FCA huddle at summer camp, painting and hanging insulation in the new building, volunteering at the kids’ club, and on and on.

Met a guy at a church picnic one afternoon, thought he was pretty awesome, we went out for about a month afterward, and then nothing more. It didn’t go anywhere.

Met someone at Bible study, sort of went out a couple of times…it didn’t go anywhere either.

Met someone else at that Bible study, developed a really terrific friendship, both of us were interested in more, but both of us were also too scared to take the next step.  He moved away and that was that.

Eventually one summer I was hanging out a lot with some work friends and honing my dart skills.  A friend of a friend called on me one day to act as a substitute dart player on his summer league.  Glad to fill in, I showed up that night and met Nate.  I played one of my best rounds ever, scoring a 128 and impressing him.

Less than two years after that night, I married him.  He wasn’t where I expected to find my husband.  It didn’t happen according to my timetable.  But you never know where God can lead, even in the most unlikely of circumstances.  He’s so much more creative than I think.  I’m so thankful He knows what He’s doing!

Rest

Rest is such a tricky concept.  Yes, I know, in general it should be extremely simple: when you’re tired, you rest.

It never seems to work out quite so clearly in practice.

What about the elderly man who is retired and theoretically can rest as much as he wants?  He still wakes up at 4:30 every morning, conditioned by years of getting up for work.

How about the four-month-old baby who literally could spend as much time as she wants to in sleep, but fusses and cries and fights rest for as long as possible?  The more exhausted she becomes, the more agitated and unlikely to sleep.

Think of the insomniac, who for whatever reason just cannot fall asleep no matter what he does.

When we’re sick or recovering from surgery, what we need more than anything is rest.  We need to step away from our everyday routines and responsibilities and focus on ourselves.  For so many of us, it’s a nearly impossible task.  To stop doing and simply be. 

In terms of spirituality, God says come rest in Him.  Yet we strive and struggle, trying our hardest to earn favor with Him.  We have to recognize that Jesus died for us and we cannot earn our salvation or God’s blessings.

“Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

“…he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'” (Mark 6:31b)

May God grant you peace and rest today, as many mark the beginning of the “holiday season”.  I pray that you may know the true joy of resting in the Lord.

Time in a bottle

I love the way music can take an ordinary moment and make it magical.  A song can conjure up instant images from the movie in which it’s featured (I can’t hear “Thriller” without thinking of Jennifer Garner playing a thirteen-year-old in a thirty-year-old’s body). It can bring to mind people who have meant a lot to me in my life.  It can take me back in an instant to a particular moment from my past, good or bad (one of the best being Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road” as the song for our first dance at our wedding)..

So many songs touch me deeply when they teach me about the value of living in the moment and embracing life as it comes.

Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” always gets me.  Just that deep longing to hold onto a moment in time forever, yet knowing the impossibility of that wish.  Yes, Jim, I desperately sense that yearning too.  I’ve experienced joy so rich and wonderful, I haven’t wanted those moments to end.  Times with my husband and now my precious baby boy are ones I dearly wish I could somehow freeze and enjoy forever.

LeeAnn Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” has had a power over me since it was released.  The lyrics express so powerfully the importance of seizing opportunities when they come, as well as appreciating simple joys like the majesty of an ocean wave.

How about Madonna: “This Used to be My Playground”?  That song from A League of their Own makes me so sad for the exciting times of youth, vanishing so quickly.  That nostalgic tug on your heart, the memories that come flooding back when you visit a place, one that holds such meaning in your past as well as who you’ve become.

Along the same lines, I cannot forget the Five for Fighting piece, “A Hundred Years to Live”.  The singer’s falsetto and the piano refrain haunt me.  How fleeting is this life, and each of its phases.  It usually doesn’t seem to at the present time, but whenever you look back on life, it seems as if those stages just flew by before you could catch your breath.

How wisely King Solomon of the Old Testament taught on the subject of time’s passage!  He recognized how brief man’s days on earth were, and that we must cherish the present.  It may be a bit morose to say, “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” but it is all too true.

Not one of us is promised tomorrow.  What else can we do but take hold of the moments as they’re given to us?  “Who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone?”  Let the beauty of music remind us to live our lives to the fullest.

Tradition

This weekend, my son will sit in the tiny red rocking chair that his grandfather sat in as a baby.  He will eat while sitting in a green high chair that his grandfather also used.  His cousins have been in those chairs over the years, trying new foods and making messes and posing for photos.  If it isn’t too cold, we may take him out to Allerton Park to see the Fu Dogs and other statues, which we do as a family just about every year around Thanksgiving.  I hope to instill in him a respect and enjoyment of traditions, especially those passed down through family generations.

The Amazing Race

If you want to see people much like yourself struggle and crack under pressure, then The Amazing Race is probably for you.  I used to watch it with roommates, and now it’s one of the regulars for me and my husband.  We get to see customs of different cultures, breathtaking scenery from around the world, and competition for that elusive million dollars, which seems to constantly represent the magic number for the majority of Americans, despite taxes and inflation.

As with any reality show, this one provides ample opportunity for judgment of others, which, if we’re honest, many of us enjoy.  How easy it is for me to sit on my couch and criticize a contestant or team for their behavior, when I’m not going through the same stressful situation they are.  My husband and I are always commenting on what we would do in any given situation.  “We wouldn’t U-turn another team for such a dumb reason.”  “We wouldn’t yell at each other the way they do.”  “We wouldn’t be afraid to do that stunt for a million bucks.”  However, it’s pretty likely that we’d find ourselves acting in many ways we’ve derided over the years and seasons.

In recent episodes, the E.R. Doctors made enemies for themselves by U-turning the “Afghanimals” (a U-turn forces an opposing team to perform an extra task, slowing them down).  Now, it’s their prerogative to do so.  It is a strategy that can definitely help you win.  We found their reasoning a little annoying, though.  They chose to U-turn them because they had lied during a previous leg of the race.  The E.R. docs went on and on about how important they felt it was to run the race with honesty and integrity.

Sure, we agree it’s valuable to act with integrity at all times, especially when under pressure.  But really, Nicole and Travis?  It just seemed a bit petty and condescending to us.  The other team’s lie hadn’t hurt anyone’s game.  By dwelling on it and putting the Afghanimals’ race in jeopardy, the doctors created trouble for themselves–when Nicole got stuck on a task, the Afghan boys refused to help her.  We couldn’t really blame them for not wanting to give her any suggestions.

If we ever get the chance to run The Amazing Race, I hope we’ll keep in mind all the lessons we’ve learned.  Maybe there’ll be a miracle–we’ll run the entire race without fighting, griping about each other, backstabbing another team, getting injured, forgetting to read the clues and follow directions…oh, wait, we’re human.  I guess we’ll just do the best we can and try not to think too highly of ourselves.  It would be an incredible experience…

top ten reasons why I’m a nerd

My nerdiness cannot be denied.  Now, as an adult, it’s not really a bad category, but as a kid, there were a lot of red flags indicating my nerd status:

  1. I absolutely LOVED to read.  All the time, every spare minute was spent reading.  I particularly gravitated toward series like The Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley Twins, and the Emily of New Moon trilogy.  The weeks when the school book fair was happening were like Christmas for me.  I couldn’t wait to pick out my new books and take them home and keep them in perfectly pristine condition no matter how many times I reread them.  My best friend and I would spend hours at the bookstores perusing our options and debating how best to use the money allotted for books from our parents.  Pages for All Ages was the best place to shop, as far as I was concerned.
  2. I wore glasses from first grade on through sixth or seventh (whenever I was finally able to get contacts).  My prescription has always been pretty strong, so my lenses were extra-thick and had to be supported by extra-sturdy frames.
  3. I did not wear jeans, ever, until I was probably in the eighth grade.  Nope, my fashion choice was stirrup pants, those lovely leggings with the elastic strap that went over your feet.  Pretty stylin’.
  4. Obedience to my parents was almost 100%.  I had a few slip-ups, of course, but I only remember being grounded once in my life–when I stayed out with a boy I liked for maybe an extra hour later than allowed.  To be fair, I hadn’t really thought my dad meant I had to come home by the prescribed time, because I had so rarely needed any curfew guidelines in the first place.
  5. I did not possess the right “look”.  I never felt like I quite fit in or kept up with the trends.  I did get a perm in the fifth grade, around the time it seemed pretty popular, but it was not a wise move on my part.  My ears weren’t pierced until way after every other girl in my class had them done.  I often borrowed oversized tees and sweatshirts from my older brothers.  I suppose I believed that was cool because my brothers were really cool, but I forgot the important fact that their clothes were not made for me, a girl who was three and five years younger than they were, respectively.
  6. I played the flute in the marching band.  Enough said?
  7. I never donned a cheerleading skirt.  I tried out for the squad one year, maybe twice.  Cross-country was much more my style.   Very little coordination required.  All you had to do was run and not fall down.
  8. I was drug- and alcohol-free throughout high school and even college.  Granted, there was a strong group of kids I went to school with who also abstained from drugs, but they were already cool to begin with and didn’t care what people thought, so they maintained their “cool” status even without joining in with the partying.
  9. I was an exemplary student.  Turning in homework on time and paying attention in class were not optional.  I admit I copped a little attitude once in awhile, especially if I thought I was right and the teacher was wrong, but overall, I did what was expected of me.
  10. I became a high school teacher.  I love grammar and language nuances.  I enjoy making up verb conjugation songs and have even been known to dance and sing on class videos.  I still believe wholeheartedly that reading is one of the best ways to spend your time.

Some of these things did present a few challenges while growing up, to be sure.  There were plenty of times when I felt left out or unwanted in a certain group.  However, I now recognize that a lot of the girls I aspired to be like struggled with very similar insecurities.  Almost no one makes it through the middle-school and high-school years completely unscathed.

I can’t really complain about my growing-up years.  I had great friends and we had a blast together.  I got to go to Disney World and London with my choir and band groups.  I never once regretted not being wild and partying with “those” kids.  My love for reading and learning made college a heck of a lot easier.  I owe a debt of gratitude to my sister-in-law for helping me find a sense of style, even though it took until my mid-20s to start getting there.

Every experience, whether good or bad, whether easy or challenging, helped get me where I needed to be.  I’m still pretty nerdy–after all,  I am a teacher.   I embrace those nerdy ways.