Touché, Olympics

The sounds of the Olympics have been background music in our house since the opening ceremony. The chant, “Go, USA,” is heard every night. We love our athletes. We also love learning about the athletes, some of whom have overcome so much to compete. Being a certified non-athlete, I don’t truly understand what goes on in a person’s brain that has them putting it all on the line for a personal best or a medal. I mean, I’m very competitive, but I’ve never pushed through playing Scrabble while nursing a splinter in my eye or a broken finger or even a mild headache.

I also have never had a personal coach invest time and energy in my pursuit of excellence at pinochle or our latest board game craze, Azul Summer Pavilion. If I did have a coach and by some miracle I actually won a competition on any level, I hope he would go crazy with enthusiasm like Dean Boxall did when Ariarne Titmus won the women’s 400m freestyle, dethroning USA star and one of my personal favorites of this Olympics, Katie Ledecky. Even though he nearly scared this unfortunately placed young woman out of her mind with his near psychotic celebration, I have to say, this is one of my very favorite Olympic moments, which is something that this young woman and I likely do not have in common. My hat is off to her – I don’t know if I would have been able to keep my composure like she did. She deserves a medal.

Have you noticed that these sports are really a slice of summer life, albeit on a different scale? A lot of these same events take place in our own yards or communities. Of course, we never had cameras broadcasting pick-up basketball games in the driveway, badminton or volleyball in the backyard, bike riding, swimming and diving in the pool, boxing matches among our kids, a canoe ride down the Wekiva River, or the church softball league, but I do have some treasured photos of all of these activities. I even practiced archery in my backyard as a kid.

Just another boxing match between a couple of my kids many years ago.

My granddaughter rides horses, my grandsons play football. There are several golfers in the family. My sister practiced gymnastics in our living room constantly when we were kids. Bob wrestled in high school. My daughter-in-law went to college on a volleyball scholarship. Another daughter-in-law is an excellent tennis player. Table tennis – bring it on.

All of these sports make up our life in some fashion. They all make sense to me. Except for fencing. Even Taekwondo, Judo, and Karate have their place for fitness and self-defense. They could come in handy. Shooting – I get that. But fencing simply doesn’t play into everyday life. For instance, someone approaches you when you make the poor choice of walking alone in a dark alley. A judo chop or karate throw would deter them. But where am I going to hide my sword? Can I get that through TSA when traveling? Are there retractable ones available? Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi!

I see tennis courts all over the place, but where can I go to have a bout of fencing? I don’t think I could retally stab somebody. I’d more likely pull a hammy in the process and leave myself even more vulnerable. I don’t want to be touched, that’s for sure; but I would love to say, “foiled again,” while holding a sword. With my athletic prowess, I think I should stick with Wii Sports Resort. I’d say the only part of me that could be injured there would be my pride, but in a recent bowling game with my six-year-old grandson, I think I pulled a muscle. (Please don’t tell him.)

Youngest grandson sticks the landing in the toddler climbing event.

Scrabble and Sparrows

I don’t need to post about the Coronavirus. I have no information for you that you don’t already have. Interestingly, on the same day that it was revealed that Tom Hanks had the virus, WHO also declared it a pandemic. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t think that Tom Hanks is amazing, so that brings us together against a common viral enemy.

But what’s really been on my mind is the sparrows. As you know by now, I am a bird enthusiast. I have my favorites like I do actors. Tom Hanks would be a favorite actor. He’s like a mocking bird – he stars in lots of movies and I love watching him act. You’ll never hear me say, “Oh, that’s just another Tom Hanks movie. There are dozens of them. Isn’t there anybody special out there? Someone rare who I can watch?”

But I do find myself talking about certain birds like they are nothing. When I think I’ve spotted something unusual and then discover that I have not, I may say something like, “Oh, that’s just a sparrow.”

Just a sparrow! No, no, no.

If I want to think biblically, then I need to remember how God thinks about sparrows. They may blend in and look pretty plain, but they have amazing voices and are so cute. There are more types of sparrows than I can name. It’s kind of like trying to name all the Tom Hanks movies.

Hear the words of Jesus from Matthew 10:29-31:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

With regard to being afraid during the COVID-19 pandemic, I must admit to being tempted. Part of it is because it’s the topic of the day – 24 hours a day. It’s too much so I need to practice social media distancing.

I have prepared my household. I have all the necessities (and more, if I’m being completely honest). I can be at peace. There is only so much a person can do, so why fret over what I cannot control.

You and I are worth more than sparrows. God singles out the common sparrow to make his point. You may have difficulty finding the sparrow in this picture, but God knows if he falls to the ground. Amazing.

And also, I’m thankful for a sense of humor. If we don’t smile about how the lowly roll of toilet paper has become the most valuable commodity on the market, then we’re doomed.

Another example of how everything seems to point to the Coronavirus is a recent game of Scrabble that I played with my mom.

Doomed, toxic, legit, soap, warned.

To sum things up, do the following:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Do your best to have toilet paper for your household.
  3. Stay home if you’re not feeling well.
  4. Watch a Tom Hanks movie.
  5. Enjoy nature, especially sparrows.
  6. Take care of your sense of humor.
  7. Practice social distancing – both person-to-person and social media as needed.
  8. Remember that God loves you. You are worth far more than a sparrow.

 

 

 

Family Game Time and The Streak

Game-player genes are strong in my family, especially on my mom’s side. My childhood memories are full of badminton and croquet in the backyard and epic Monopoly games complete with outlandish trades. As I grew older, Scrabble was added into the mix. My mom was always part of those games – well, maybe not Monopoly. What homemaker has time for a board game that becomes a three-day event?

There are no other people in the world that I would rather play games with than my family. We are a competitive bunch, and this month as we gathered together to celebrate my mom’s 90th birthday, she led the way to the game table. She loves to play Scrabble and she plays to win. It is from her that I get my love of words. As a matter of fact, during one game my mom received a phone call and continued playing as she talked. Without batting an eye, she managed to accumulate two triple words while we just stared in disbelief. She is amazing.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

This trip, most of those Scrabble games were played with Mom, my sister and brother-in-law, and myself. We played a lot, and everyone was victorious at least once, except for me. It was getting embarrassing. Not because I couldn’t win, but because I couldn’t stop winning. I was on fire. I hate to toot my own horn, but since none of them have a blog, I am left with no other choice. Not only that, I don’t think my brother-in-law is talking to me.

Seriously, I was one with the tiles. The letters seemed to rearrange themselves on the tray and lift themselves effortlessly onto the scrabble board. Two games in a row I used all seven of my tiles. In the next game, my mom did something I had never seen before when she got a double/double word. It was amazing and we knew she would win the game, until once again I used all seven of my tiles and chalked up another victory.

I knew I was in trouble, but I was on some kind of bizarre scrabble streak and, even though I felt a little bad about it, I was loving it. I also knew it wouldn’t last. Streaks are made to end. The real challenge was to get them to keep playing and not lock me out of the house. The last several days of our time together were spent at the beach, where I continued my reign of terror. After my last victory there, everyone got away from the table for a little while. I didn’t know what to do. I thought I’d leave them a note to let them know that my heart was heavy and that I felt bad, but I didn’t want to sound condescending. Plus, we were almost out of paper, so I improvised.

I’d like to say they graciously accepted my apology, but they just reinforced what I already knew – Scrabble is not for lightweights.