Saturday, May 28, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

My father is a lifelong White Sox fan. I'm not sure why. He isn't a Southsider, but claims that's always been his team.

All four of his children are Cubs fans.

Blame it on WGN and all those day games. We would come home from school and turn on the game. My oldest sister Lin isn't really a Cubs fan, but she is a fan of Wrigley Field and well remembers the days when you could walk up the day of a game and buy bleacher seats for $4. She is morally opposed to the lights at Wrigley and until today managed to escape their shine (overcast skies brought down her streak). She's in town for awhile and it was her birthday this week so we were really happy when my brother and I were both fortunate enough to score tickets for two consecutive days worth of games.

Yesterday we actually had 12 seats - five in the bleachers that my sister had gotten through a fundraiser and another seven behind home plate where we were on TV for the majority of the game. I have to say, I rather enjoyed those seats. We were blessed with decent weather and the wonderful added bonus of fighter jet flyovers after the National Anthem because of Memorial Day weekend. What a rush! My daughter Caitlin came with for the first time in awhile. She usually has her fix met somewhere around the 4th inning, so I'm proud of her for sticking it out till the 8th - especially because the Cubs put forth zero offense. Unfortunately, we left before the Cubs scored their only two runs in the bottom of the ninth.


My brother had Ryan out in the bleacher seats with a couple of friends so my sister, aunt and cousin's son all got the good seats with Caitlin. It's funny how often those beer guys come by the "money seats" - they were coming in for landings more frequently than the 30 second intervals at O'Hare.

Today Lin went back down with my cousin who wasn't able to make it yesterday and got there early with the hopes of allowing Ryan to watch batting practice. It's the only time you're guaranteed to see the Cubs hit home runs. Not only did she get him down there on time but she sweet talked an Ambassador and got him ON THE FIELD to watch the whole practice! He high-fived Darwin Barney and got a baseball signed by Ryan Dempster.

Peanuts and hot dogs and rooting for the Cubbies is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon on a holiday weekend in Chicago. The ivy and the organ and the old fashioned scoreboard (still updated by hand) are just some of the charms that make Wrigley so special. It's a ballpark haven that somehow makes you feel like you're on top of the world.

Even when your team loses.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sing This With Me

"Sing this with me...this is 40."

So begins the live version of U2's song drawn from the 40th Psalm.

I know, I know...two U2 related posts in a row. Have I learned nothing in the way of obeying the first commandment? Ah, but by God's grace I have. It's been a month since I logged onto U2's website and I'm even contemplating not renewing my fan subscription this year.

This post is not about U2. It's about the 40th Psalm.

I've been reading Wendy Alsup's blog lately - you can check her out at I love her subtitle caption, "This blog is primarily a lecture to myself, but you are welcome to read along and participate." I'm going to steal her line (now that I've given her credit for it) and let you know this post in an exercise in preaching to myself.

"I waited patiently for the Lord"

Sometimes to do something right you have to stop doing everything and wait. The wait can't have too short of a time allotment. To wait patiently you have to be prepared to wait indefinitely. But the important thing to realize is that you're not waiting on something, you're waiting on someone. And not just anyone. You're waiting on the Lord. The Lord of the universe. The Lord over all creation.

Time is in His hands.

That's who you're waiting on. He's never in a rush. He's never late. His timing is always perfect.

"He inclined and heard my cry."

It gets better. This Lord you wait on? He's immediately in tune with you. He hears your cry. He's leaning in so closely to you He can't miss what you're saying. But He knew before you asked anyway. And He knows what you need even if you don't. He's sympathetic to your cry. He's near.

"He lift me up out of the pit...out of the miry clay."

How deep are you stuck? How thick is the muck and mud and mire of your circumstance?

It doesn't matter.

He lifts you up. He plucks you from the dark, dirty, oppressive pit.

"He sets my feet upon a rock and makes my footsteps firm."

He doesn't just pluck you from the pit. You're not left hanging mid-air to wonder what's next. This isn't the kind of rescue that takes you out of the frying pan and places you in the fire. He transports you to solid ground.

A reliable terrain.

He makes your steps so sure you are guaranteed not to slip and fall back into that old pit. He removes the shifting sand from underneath your feet - or perhaps more accurately - He removes you from the shifting sand.

He secures your path.

"Many will see, many will see and fear."

The road is narrow, but many will travel on it. They will behold the unseen Lord in you. As you behold Him, you will reflect Him. You will show something of the invisible God to a tired and weary race. They will fear the One who holds life in His hands.

They will recognize Him for who He is.

They will know what He has done.

Do you know what He has done for you?

"I will sing, sing a new song."

He puts a new song in your heart. He melts the heart of stone and turns it to a heart of flesh. We are jars of clay in the Potter's hands. We will put away childish things. We will be new creations. And we will sing praises to His name. And it won't have seemed so long then that we waited.

A mere breath.

Originally written 7-6-10.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bono Birthday Bash

Today is the 51st Birthday of the frontman for the Irish rock band U2. If you don't know who U2 are, we have obviously never met.

And you live in a cave.

While my obsession has been waning (this has more to do with spiritual maturity than a decreased affection for the man and his music) I still get quite a thrill whenever a U2 song comes on the radio. I can count on one hand the number of U2 songs I would voluntarily turn off.

And it wouldn't take the whole hand.

They are due to come back to Chicago this summer and play a second time at Soldier Field as part of their U2-360 Tour. This is a postponement from last year when Bono had back surgery (it's hard getting old and I imagine harder when you fly all over the world for a living).

I am looking very forward to it.

Those of you who've read the blog long enough know about our adventures after the last U2concert here (let's just leave it at car towing) and how we skipped the second show as a result. My biggest disappointment was finding out they sang "Amazing Grace" live that second night.

My favorite song...sung by my favorite my favorite town...the weekend of my favorite holiday (4th of July). Sigh.

I admire Bono for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is how he inspires so many people to care for the marginalized, or what Jesus refers to as "the least of these."

One such inspiration is the annual fundraiser "Build a Well for Bono's Birthday." I've participated many times over the years.

Q: What do you give the millionaire artist-activist who has everything for his birthday?
A: Clean water to folks in Africa.

I celebrated Bono's birthday by loading one of my favorite live CD's and reliving a previous concert performance.

Bono has performed in Chicago twice on his birthday.

And once on 30th birthday party ever.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother's Days

It's not a typo. It's not a post on Mother's Day, rather a musing on any given day in which a mother goes about being a mother.

Yesterday I left our house around 8:15 am - a good 75 minutes after Caitlin left it to catch the 6:55 am bus for Jr. High. That's going to be a rude awakening for Maggie and Ryan in the fall. Unlike Caitlin, they are not self-starter material. They don't turn off the alarm by the fourth buzz and they don't leave their beds without considerable coaxing.

I started to make hot lunches then remembered it was a 1/2 day of school. Not that they can't make their own lunches by now, but it's something nice I can do for them when they have to eat at their desks. It feels more like a meal than a snack.

Work has been busy and yesterday was no exception so I was very relieved when my husband decided to work from home (he's been sick for the better part of a week). It's hard to leave work early (or even on time some days) and while they are old enough to fend for themselves for a 1/2 day I feel better when they have some supervision.

Wednesday nights are the youth program at our church so I usually end up driving right back to where I came from a couple of hours later. My husband graciously offered to let me work late and bring the kids there on his own. With gas at $4.50 a gallon and a pile of work on my desk I was more than happy to agree. The first Wednesday of the month is small group time, so our three kids are delivered to three different homes. By 7:05 we had dropped the last one off and after paying a bill at a local store we stopped to grab a bite to eat (I hadn't had dinner yet) and catch a bit of the Bulls playoff game. We talk about our days and I hear how there were some issues with a pick up basketball game in our driveway and having to change to warmer clothes before leaving and am grateful Dad took a turn in my after school world.

(I had to pause for a minute here while Maggie came up to tell me a joke. "Mom, the mom has blonde hair and the dad has black hair - What color is the baby's hair?" Mom answers "No hair." Maggie replies "Did you hear me practicing it?!")

So an hour passes and the food hasn't come - they are packed and they have a new cook but the waitress is so kind and apologetic and bringing free Diet Cokes and chips and salsa - we tell her she is redeeming the whole situation but we're starting to worry we will have to leave to pick up the kids before the food actually arrives.

This is our date night.

We finally get served and pay less than half the bill (God's provision) and manage to round up all the kids. I try to get some more information about the after school antics while I have only one of them in the car and watch the face deflate from pure elation after youth group to feeling scolded all over again and immediately regret bringing it up. I say a silent prayer and somehow manage to say something encouraging before the next one gets into the car and chats away about how miserable she was on the way here and didn't even want to come but then had the best night. We get home around 9:30 pm to four messages on the answering machine three of which want calls back that night.

I realize I never told Dan to make the kids shower that afternoon and none of them have seen soap and water since Monday. Caitlin obediently gets into the shower at 9:40 and Maggie and Ryan set alarms that they will ignore for 7:00 am so they can shower in the morning. Before they head upstairs, Maggie says, "Oh I need to bring salsa in to school tomorrow for Cinco de Mayo." Then Caitlin adds, "Who's going to bring me to school in the morning?" Confused, we inquire why she isn't taking the bus. She says, "Because I'm going to Springfield on the Field Trip and need to be there at 5:45 am."

We exchange the "Did-you-know-about-this" glance, and quickly determine neither one of us had any idea it was this Thursday.

Wonderful husband says he'll drop her off in the morning if I pick her up at night (one year that was 11 pm). I enthusiastically agree.

Caitlin continues, "Oh and I need $20 for lunch and dinner." Dan and I exchange yet another glance knowing full well we have 87 cents in change between the two of us and most of it isn't silver.

Wonderful husband goes to Walmart 15 minutes shy of closing for salsa and $20 cash back.

Dan returns around 10 pm as Caitlin emerges from the shower and announces there's something else she needs from the store now. I dig through purses and linen closets trying hard not to keep the other two awake until I find what she needs.

Around 11:30 I plop into bed. I remind myself to apologize to my mom again for my entire school life, thank God for the day and the kids he has entrusted to me and for a husband who runs errands while sick.

I am exhausted.

And I am so blessed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Better Said by Someone Else

I've noticed over the years that the best writers are those who read a lot and write about what they know.

Sometimes you know things by experience and sometimes you do the research or the kind of investigative journalism that makes you an expert in the process. Either way, the end product is better when what you're commenting on is within your realm of understanding.

So I tend to wince a bit when the average blogger starts posting away when a big news story hits. I'm totally fine with it if they are just stating their opinion or perspective, but more often I find folks stepping into the spin doctor role and telling me how I should feel about it.

Or God feels about it.

There's been a lot of posting about the death of Osama bin Laden. Political affiliations aside, the most disturbing posts have been self-appointed experts claiming to speak on God's behalf. So it was really refreshing when I came across this post
I couldn't have said it better myself.