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The Gift of Grace

August 1, 2021

13 years ago today, this beauty was born. 💙

Her dad and I weren’t there to welcome her into the world. But, we’re so thankful for those who were. Forever indebted to them for giving Grace the gift of life, and for giving us the gift of Grace. We love her to pieces, and can’t imagine life without her.

Happy Birthday, Gracie girl!!!

First Day ~ 5th, 3rd, Kindergarten

July 30, 2021

Praying that these three kiddos have an AMAZING year!

‘Twas the Night Before Kindergarten

July 30, 2021

It’s the night before kindergarten. 💙

Just finished reading him this book, as I have five times before, to each of his big brothers and sisters before their first day of school. Those pages have had quite a few tears fall on them across the years. I may have added a few more on there tonight…

20 Years

July 30, 2021

ST. JOSEPH, MICHIGAN

20th Anniversary Getaway ❤

The first trip Bryan and I ever took together (waaay back in 1998) was to Lake Michigan. We’ve been traveling up there consistently ever since, hitting many beautiful spots along its eastern, southern, and western borders. We’ve vacationed in some spots just once, and we’ve been to other spots multiple times. We’ve experienced Lake Michigan as a new couple, as newlyweds, as new parents, and as seasoned parents. We’ve been there with kids, without kids, and with extended family. Every time we visit, in every scenario, we always leave saying just how much we love being there. This trip was no different.

I love the ocean. But, exploring the beautiful coastline of Lake Michigan is my fave.

It’s a body of water that holds a piece of my heart, and it was the perfect place to celebrate 20 years spent with the man who stole my heart…

Shoeless Joy

July 26, 2021

“Before I can walk in another person’s shoes, I must first remove my own.” (Unknown)

~~~~~

Not long ago, my daughter and one of her close friends attended a large softball event together, where they would each be given the chance to showcase their skills on the field. My husband also attended this event with them.

Upon returning home, I asked them how it went. They told me that there were about 60-70 girls in attendance, and that it went really well. My daughter happily shared a few details with me, but my husband didn’t say much.

Later that night, however, he sat down with me and had plenty to share. By the expression on his face, he seemed to be very pleased with what he was about to say. He began by telling me that he didn’t even reach the parking lot after the event before one of the directors of the event texted him. She told him how impressed she was with our daughter and her friend. She commented on how they both stood out, not just because of how they performed on the field, but also because of their energy level, attitude, and effort. My husband proceeded to rattle on for several more minutes about the feedback she had given him. I smiled as I listened to most of it. But, at one point, he shared something that brought tears to my eyes.

He said with a slight chuckle, “You know, she told me that since they were the only two shoeless players on the field, it made them stand out even more…but in a good way.”

I was a bit confused.

“Shoeless? What do you mean they were shoeless?”

I knew that my daughter had brought her cleats.

He then told me that my daughter’s friend brought metal cleats to the event, which weren’t allowed. So, she had no shoes to wear. She was, however, allowed to take the field and perform with socks on. But, understandably, she was worried about being the only shoeless person on the field.

So, my daughter humbly removed her shoes, too, so her friend wouldn’t be the only shoeless player, and took the field.

Off they went. Two friends. The only shoeless softball players in sight.

This simple act of compassion didn’t surprise me at all.

Our daughter has always had a heart of gold. Acts of kindness and compassion just seem to naturally flow out of her and into the world.

But, picturing her out there on the field, shoeless, by choice. Well. It instantly choked me up.

I approached my daughter the next day about this. I told her that out of all of the great things she had told me about the previous evening, the fact that she removed her shoes (out of love for her friend) was what mattered the most to me and her dad.

As I told her that, I could see by the expression on her face that she knew I meant every word that I said.

She replied by thanking me, and telling me that it wasn’t a big deal. She smiled and said that the two of them had a great time together, and that she actually really enjoyed playing in her socks.

I sat there picturing her shoeless joy.

And it pointed me to simple truth.

So often we hesitate to put others before ourselves because we fear that some of our joy could be taken away. But, most of the time, that isn’t the case at all. More often than not, our joy is multiplied – not divided – when we choose selflessness.

Acts of empathy, compassion, and selflessness bring joy not only to the recipient, but also to the giver.

Whenever we find ourselves struggling to find joy in this dark world of ours, maybe it boils down to a choice. A choice to never hesitate to put others before ourselves. A choice to daily carry out small acts of kindness, motivated by nothing more than love and compassion. A choice to commit to removing our shoes for someone else, in some small way, each and every day.

Let’s get into the habit of removing our shoes, and removing our pride, for the sake of others.

That’s the path to true joy in this life.

Shoeless joy.

13th Birthday Bash!

July 24, 2021

Had a great time celebrating our August and June “twins” a couple of weeks ago with a Cobra Kai themed bash! Can’t believe they are both teenagers. Man, that happened fast.

Great weather.

Great company.

Great memories made.

Hospital Beds

July 23, 2021

As I stood beside Haven’s hospital bed in the recovery room yesterday, waiting for him to wake up from surgery (as I’ve done so many times before), there was a single thought that just kept running through my mind:

If you’re looking for Jesus, stand beside a hospital bed. You’ll find Him there.

Why am I a Christian? What is it about Jesus that sets Him apart, and draws me to Him? Why choose to put my faith and trust in Him, and urge my children to do the same? Because Jesus isn’t a God with a grave. He’s alive and at work, tending to those who are broken. He walks beside the weak. He lifts up the fallen. And He hovers over hospital beds.

There isn’t any amount of suffering we can experience on earth that Christ can’t identify with. He suffered greatly. He knows what it means to be in pain. And He is ever-present when we are hurting. He tends to our needs when we are crushed, in body or in spirit. He draws near to us when we need Him. He shows up beside hospital beds, with impeccable bedside manner.

Muhammad can’t do that. Buddha can’t do that. Confucius can’t do that. Gandhi can’t do that. Each of them was a great teacher. Each of them had/has a massive amount of religious followers. But, each of them has a grave.

I want the God without a grave.

I want the God who is alive.

I want the God who lives, loves, and moves in the world today. I want the God who is no stranger to hospital rooms. I want the God who has hovered over each and every hospital bed that my sweet, ailing boy has ever been in. I want the God who has faithfully watched over him, while standing next to me.

That’s the God I want.

That’s the God I need.

That’s Jesus.

Gulf Shores Memories

July 20, 2021

When we weren’t at the softball fields last week, we were busy having fun elsewhere.

Beach time. Pool time. Nighttime crab-hunting (River’s fave!!). Sunset & sunrise walks. Cornhole & cookouts at our team condo. Rolled ice cream. Mexican food. Mellow Mushroom pizza. Alvin’s Island. Pitstop in Nashville. Opry Mills. Freddy’s Burgers.

So many great memories made! 💙🌊💙

USSSA Gulf Shores Nationals

July 20, 2021

So proud of Grace and her team.

They traveled down to Gulf Shores, Alabama, for the USSSA Nationals last week. While they were there, they wrapped up an outstanding season, by finishing tied for 3rd in a national tournament that began with 49.

While some seek to enter national tournaments with only 9 teams in them, others seek to enter ones with 49 in them. Thankful that Grace’s team is willing to do the latter. Always seeking to put themselves in hard situations so they can work on being the very best version of themselves that they can be, instead of just seeking out situations that give them the easiest path toward a trophy.

This team has such a bright future, and they are so fun to watch. All of them are serious multi-sport athletes, striving to lead balanced lives. Great group of girls. Great families. Zero drama, with a roster that isn’t a revolving door…constantly changing members and grabbing multiple subs. They are who they are. (And I love who they are.) Studs.

At the end of every softball season, I see many players looking around them, wondering if the grass is greener on the other side…on other teams…in other situations. But, not Gracie. The grass around her is a deep shade of green. And we are so thankful for that.

Already looking forward to next season.

New age division. New challenges. New goals.

Go DC!

~~~~~

⭐Demand Command ’08⭐

Overall record of 48-13-2 with 4 Championships.

~~~~~

A Happy Ending

July 6, 2021

USSSA Sparkler Runners-Up! ⭐🏆⭐

Awesome way to wrap up a season! These girls battled hard for a spot in the championship this weekend, and are so deserving of those rings on their fingers. They’re such a kind and humble group of girls who have truly grown to love each other. You guys…if you only knew this team’s story, and their journey to this moment. It definitely makes today’s success that much sweeter. For them, and for Coach Bryan, who gave them everything he had this season, and taught them the true meaning of loyalty and commitment. So happy for him. So happy for them.

GO DC! 💙

That face. Those tears. This girl.

I love her so much. 💙

She pitched 26 innings this past weekend, in 90 degree heat, out of love for her teammates and her coach. It’s been an emotional year, and she wanted so badly for them to end their season by making it to the championship game. And that’s exactly what happened. So proud of her and her team. “Sometimes, when the strength within us overflows, it has no choice but to sneak out of our eyes and roll down our cheeks.”

This is what it’s all about. 💙

If you can look around at the end of a softball season and see nothing but hugs, smiles, and bittersweet tears all around you (from players, parents, and siblings alike) you know it’s been a successful one.