Thursday, June 28, 2007

Just Another Office Outing

I could be wrong, but I’ve always felt that it’s important to remain fully clothed when on public display. Especially when they public involves your mother’s co-workers.

Every summer for the last four years, our small development department has run off for a few days to hold a work retreat at which time we brain storm and plan for the upcoming year. Our group is kind of in charge of raising money for the university, so if any of you feel to urge to make a charitable donation to a small faith-based institution, please let me know.

The first few years, we went to a small town where we stayed at a hunting lodge and ate at the only eating establishment in town, a small restaurant named “Crackers.” For the last two years, however, we have headed off to Ruidoso, N.M., for a few days in the mountains. This is a welcomed change from the lodge that encourages hunters to clean their game outdoors, not in the bathtub, but it still provides some interesting moments.

This year, the retreat provided an enlightened study of human nature and social customs of adolescent females. Our supervisor brought her youngest daughter with her for the weekend and the daughter brought a friend along. Both girls are 14 years old. We quickly discovered that the way to make two 14-year-old girls completely shut up is forced social interaction with a group of people over the age of 30. They probably didn’t say more than 2 words to any particular person the entire weekend. I’m not sure they even talked to each other. Combined, the two girls had all the personality of a fence post.

It didn’t help matters that our supervisor was stricken with altitude sickness upon reaching Ruidoso and did not get out of bed for three days. She was in no situation to supervise the youngsters.

I’m not sure how these two girls function among their peers, but among us, they sat motionless, watching movies on the cabin’s DVD player. They occasionally played a game of cards, but we never heard them so much as speak to each other. We could hear the TV and the shuffle of the cards, but nary a peep from the chicks. Occasionally someone would make a direct comment to them which was met only with a mono-syllabic response.

Yet, while these girls were so appalled to be around us, they didn’t mind one bit walking around, or sitting around the cabin in their bikinis. Yes, that’s right, their tiny little, two-piece swim wear. They were too uncomfortable to utter a sound, but comfortable enough to display their udders. I found this moderately disturbing.

First of all, when I was 14-years-old, I don’t remember girls having boobs. Of course, they may have had them but were more discrete and just didn’t go around showing them off to all creation.

Apparently things have changed in the last 20 years, and certain female attributes are making their appearance earlier in the life cycle. While one of them, the supervisor’s daughter, is on her way to a “mature” body, she still needs a little more time to grow. She at least had the decency to occasionally wrap a towel around her as she moved around the cabin. The other one, however, is fairly developed and she knows it and she doesn’t mind showing it off to a bunch of people she doesn’t even know. I’m just glad the president of our university, who was there for some of our meetings, wasn’t around during the times that the youngsters were disrobed.

During these moments, I remember thinking to myself, if my daughter, who is now 7, ever does something like that when she is 14, she is going to have one very irritated father.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with looking good. There is nothing wrong with dressing in a way that makes you look good, as long as it is done tastefully. But at some point a person must stop and realize, “Gee, I should probably wear some clothes.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Five things I dig about Jesus

I was tagged by Patti, so here's five of what could be a long list.

1. He was a rebel without being “rebellious.”
2. He was a man without being “human.”
3. He loved while being hated.
4. He was a poet.
5. He is awesome!

Now to explain myself.
1. Jesus was a rebel. He bucked the system and fought the establishment. But He did it without the intent to harm, tear down or destroy. He was here to teach, inspire and save.

2. Jesus was wholly human and wholly divine. Yet in his humanity, he didn’t fall into the traps that so easily ensnare the rest of us.

3. I would say the ability to love your enemies is the most Godly thing any of us can strive to achieve. It ain’t easy, yet He did it unconditionally.

4. No one can turn a phrase like Jesus. His words and teaching are filled with multiple meanings and are so powerful. There is a poster that hangs in my office that quotes John 8:58, “I tell you the truth. Before Abraham was, I am.”

5. As you read through your New Testament, look at all the instances where mortal men simply would have folded and tried to shrink away into the background. John chapter 18 tells about the betrayal of Jesus and how Judas led the Roman soldiers to Jesus. When they first saw Jesus, they didn’t know they were talking to, but when Jesus “revealed” himself to them, they “drew back and fell to the ground.” Jesus was in control of every situation and his presence was awe inspiring. These men had come to take Jesus by force, but when they saw Him, they knew immediately who He was.

I am also supposed to "tag" five people, but I think everyone I know has already been tagged. Except maybe Spookyrach. So, you're it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dealings in the Dugout

It was the bottom of the third and we were down by one run. I’d like to say it was the bottom of the ninth, but this is youth-league softball and we only get to play a certain time limit and time was quickly running out.

We were sitting at 0-2 in the young season and desperately in search of a win to boost our confidence. It had been a closely contested game with both teams questioning calls and umpire’s interpretations of the rules. I, of course, am totally opposed to youth-league coaches and parents getting too involved and too competitive, but I am just an assistant coach on one team and can’t control the actions of others. I am also very competitive and like to make sure the correct calls are made and that our girls have every opportunity to win.

After our first two games it was painfully obvious that our girls could not hit the ball. Every time a pitch came near the plate, they were ducking for cover. If one of them decided to actually swing the bat, she was generally looking out at left field instead of watching the ball. It’s very difficult to make contact when you can’t even see what you are swinging at.

Needless to say, we spent the better part of two hours the day before the game working on nothing but hitting the ball. And it paid off.

Trailing by a run our team needed to score more runs in that half inning than we had scored total in the previous two games. It was a daunting task for our young warriors, but we had managed so far to keep the team's morale and energy level high and they seemed to be having a good time.

“We just need a couple of hits,” I told them before getting ready for the inning. “If we get a couple of hits, we win the game.”

“But what if we don’t hit it?” asked our intellectual child.

“That’s fine,” I replied. “A walk is as good as a hit.”

“But what if we don’t get on base?” she asked again.

It’s tough arguing with a 10-year-old. Especially one who is probably as smart as anyone on the field but still one comment away from a complete emotional breakdown. Not having time to get into a deep philosophical discussion about the probabilities of another 10-year-old throwing three out of seven pitches over the plate in the strike zone while facing the pressure of winning or losing the game with screaming parents and noisy coaches yelling throughout the entire process, I simply said the first thing that came to mind.

“You’re going to hit the ball because I’m the coach and you have to do what I tell you.”

Yup … that’s good coaching.

While it may not have been logical, it seemed to satisfy the youngsters who promptly went out and loaded the bases with only one out. The next batter, a girl who may not get a hit all season, was hit by a pitch. She was awarded first base, driving in the tying run and bringing up one of our heavier hitters. With the game on the line, this girl drilled a double to right field, eventually scoring two runs after some indecision on the base paths, to win the game.

We are now 1-2 and ready to make our run. Our next game is against the league’s best pitcher, but we know if you can ever rattle her, she will fall apart. We know this becuase last year she started crying on the mound when she hit a stretch where she couldn't throw a strike.

... Not that we would intentionally make a young girl cry ...