Sunday, November 29, 2015

Getting Prepared

I love Christmas. I really do.

This morning we almost didn't go to church. Trey and I didn't have Sunday school because so many people are out of town. Also, he and I both have colds. Also, it's raining and cold and gross outside. We slept past the 8:00 service (our usual), and I just don't love the contemporary service at 9:30 (it's not my thing, no hard feelings if it's yours), so we almost didn't go.

But I'm so glad we did.

The sermon was titled "A People Prepared." I was reminded that last year for Advent season I challenged myself to write something reflective of the season every day. You can find those posts here (scroll to the bottom to get to December 1st). But I've hardly thought about what I might do to honor the season this year. I haven't thought much about getting prepared for the arrival of the Christ child.

If I'm being honest, the past several months have probably raised more questions in my faith than anything. Don't get me wrong, I am firm and true in my belief of Christ as the Savior of the world and my eternity in heaven because of that fact. But I've questioned a lot. I've questioned what Jesus would do about Syrian refugees, about terror in the world, who he would support as a leader of our country and what really qualifies a person to do that job (would he insist that only a Christian is qualified? should that even be a talking point of a presidential candidate?), and on and on.

Other people seem so sure of themselves on issues like these. I think I've read scripture references (mostly on social media) that support both sides of every issue, and it feels like everyone is 100% certain they are right and that God agrees with them. And I'm still just baffled most of the time. I've wondered if maybe my faith isn't as strong as these people who are so certain when it comes to world issues.

Enter this excerpt from this morning's sermon notes: "Advent doesn't depend on our faith. It's about God's faithfulness."

What a good word.

My God IS faithful. All the time.

And now I am inspired to create a plan for my Advent this year. I want to share a couple of options I've found.

First, there is the phenomenal scripture writing plan from my friend Shannon. She posts one every month, and this month someone has even translated it to Spanish. You can find it here on her web site if you're interested.

This Advent study popped up on my Facebook feed just as I sat down to write this post (no kidding). It's from New Life Church in B/CS, which is led by parents of some of the kids at my school. I haven't read it all in detail, but it's definitely a good option.

I've got a little more than 24 hours to get my plan together.

I love Christmas.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Time Tucker Made the Seventh Grade Basketball Team

First, I don't often write about my kids' adventures and shenanigans like I did when they were little. This is for three reasons. 1) If I only write about good things it seems like I'm one of those people who thinks my kids are perfect and I live my whole life with the sole purpose of seeing them be perfect. This is decidedly not true. 2) They are too old to think it's fun to have their every move - good or bad - documented and shared with the Internet. Of course I read their texts and direct messages and check their phone histories, but they need some privacy for goodness sakes!  3) The world has earthquakes and terrorists and tsunamis. Anything I may choose to write about sometimes seems silly and trivial in contrast. We live a good life. I don't want to sound like the world around me is minor and our silly stuff is major. I am well aware that this post is about seventh grade basketball.

On to the reason I'm here...

Last week it came up in conversation that I wrote in a journal to Tucker when I was pregnant with him. I continued writing to him until Keaton was born (surprise!). This blog started in 2008, so I guess nothing really important happened in the three years between. Anyway, Tucker got out the book and read through it, and I realized again that there are some things that should be written down, shared with my grandkids when they ask me about their dad when he was a kid. You know, when Trey and I are too senile to remember anything.

So I'm documenting the time Tucker made the seventh grade basketball team.

Boys basketball tryouts at our middle school are hard core. I don't know exactly how many kids try out, but I think it's somewhere between 60 and 90 (depending on who you ask and how dramatic they feel that day). The try outs last four days with cuts each day, and by the last day they are down to 26. I am impressed and fascinated that so many kids try out. I don't think at 12 I had the constitution to show up for something with bad odds like that. Honestly, I don't think I would have even tried out.

Of course Tucker wanted to try out, but maybe for the first time ever in his life, he was nervous. The minute the last football game ended, he started asking where and when he could go to practice shooting. On the first night of tryouts, he came home from practice and then went to the court to shoot for another hour. He obsessed.

He started talking about basketball shoes, and because I'm such a supportive mother I told him it would be wasteful to buy shoes until he made the team. He didn't argue, which is like a weird miracle these days.

On day two of tryouts, I asked if he thought he had a shot. He explained it like this: "There are kids who aren't going to make it. There are kids who are going to make it. There are kids on the bubble. I'm on the bubble." On day three of tryouts, the other two guys we carpool with got cut. It's like Tucker was holding his breath, all the time thinking, shooting every minute he could. I've truly never seen him so nervous.

This is stressful for a mom! (poor me, right?) Tucker is the kid for whom things tend to come easily. He doesn't seem to work too terribly hard on things like schoolwork and still does well. He can sometimes give off this very irritating over-confidence. Whether he made the team or not, this was becoming a good life lesson for him.

It's hard to watch your kids learn lessons.

On the last day of tryouts, four guys were going to be cut. Tucker was focused and maybe a little scared on his way to the gym. For his mom and dad, it was a long two hours.

He came out to the car when we picked him up, handed me a schedule, and said, "Looks like you need to add some money to your budget for basketball shoes." Then he asked if we could go to the gym so he could work on his layups.

Of course I acted cool about it, but I was really, really happy for him.

And so in these years when my almost-thirteen-year-old son has the "I know everything and you're an idiot and how dare you tell me what to do" disease, I will remember these moments. Moments of uncertainty that highlight his ability to work hard even when the outcome is not likely to go in his favor. His ability to handle pressure. His ability to recognize his own weaknesses and desire to work on them until he can't anymore.

When I want to throat-punch him and his smart mouth and when I'm yelling at him about how little effort he puts into anything that isn't a sport, I will remember that somewhere in there is a kid growing up into a person I'm happy to know.

As a concluding side note, I love basketball. Really, really love it. Trey has already informed me that he may not be able to sit with me at games. If you hear a crazy lady yelling during the CSMS seventh grade B team on Monday, there is no need to turn around and see who it is. It's probably  me.