Promise kept

As best I can figure, Scott started playing church softball in about 2001, which would have made last year about his 15th year. That’s 15 years of cleats and gloves, of caps and jerseys, of shortstop and left field and 3rd base, of rosters and scorecards. 15 years of Scott taking his stance in the batter’s box, holding up his right hand to the ump, taking a couple practice swings, doing his classic butt wiggle, and then lifting both arms as if the pitch is too far inside, while Hank calls out, “Steeeee-rike. . . two!” 15 years of Scott losing his cap as he races to 2nd and 15 years of him sliding into 3rd. 15 years of strollers and bike racks and kids of various ages. Kids playing in the soft, powdery dirt between my feet and the fence, romping on the playground, riding bikes (on pavement!), wading in the creek, making mud around the drippy water fountain, running or roller-blading to retrieve foul balls, standing behind the outfield fence to cheer Dad on, and stomping on the bleachers, chanting, “We’re the Promise Keepers! We’re gonna’ win this GAME!”

15 years of keeping my bag chair in the van continually from April through July (and sometimes through October for fall ball), 15 years of hauling it on my shoulder to the field, 15 years of hollering myself hoarse cheering on each of our guys by name. 15 years of my and the kids’ “weekend” starting at 5:00 PM on Thursday, because it was game night, and Friday was our off day, complete with sleeping in and eating junk food. We didn’t care if the game was at 6:30, 7:30, 8:30, or 9:30, or even if there was a double-header. We were just there for the duration, and we loved it.

Our kids grew up spending Thursday nights at Stockstill. It was an anchor in our lives.

For the past couple years, Andrew’s been playing recreational volleyball at First Baptist on Thursday nights, and when it’s not softball season, Scott has joined him. They both like it a lot. Even Josiah has gone to volleyball several times while he’s been here the past few months. I like that all three of my menfolk can do something active together that they all enjoy.

Scott started the Promise Keepers softball team in 2002 when we were attending a church (Tri-Lakes Cathedral) that didn’t have its own team. Only a handful of guys from the church wanted to play, so Scott recruited other folks (not all Christians) and formed his own team. Some of the guys were from Country Mart. Some were friends of friends of friends. For about ten years, although new guys joined and others quit or moved away, a small core group of players stayed with the team. And in most years, the PK’s were quite good. At least a couple times, they won the championship, and for a number of years, Scott advocated for Parks and Rec to divide the church league into upper and lower divisions (Promise Keepers always in the upper!) to make it more fun for his team. Besides playing a sport that he loves, his on-going goal was to develop relationships with unchurched men that he could use to influence them toward the Lord.

Four years ago, I started singing in a community choir. During the school year, we rehearse on Thursday nights from 7:00-9:00, and I felt guilty about missing some of Scott’s games. Since Promise Keepers is not a church team, there’s not a big crowd of church folks who come to watch and cheer for their guys, like they do for Church Army or The Sanctuary or Forsyth First Baptist; there are usually only three or four PK wives or girlfriends there. Until I joined the choir, I was one of the few wives who was ALWAYS at Scott’s games, watching him, cheering him, and being proud of him while he was doing something he loves to do.

Over the past five or so years, the team’s been almost completely re-formed. Now it’s mostly a lot of younger guys whose names I don’t know, and Scott’s probably old enough to be their dad. Last year, I think he was one of the two oldest guys on the team. And he’s no longer the manager; that mantle got passed a couple years ago to a guy who’s probably about 30 and has a toddler. A toddler who probably plays in the soft, powdery dirt between her mom’s feet and the fence.

They had their first practice of 2016 last Thursday night. A few days later, Scott said, “I’m not going to play softball this year. With everything else going on,” – and I could mention his job change, mission trips, vacation rental business, and Jessica’s upcoming  WEDDING(!!!) for starts – “I think I’ll enjoy volleyball more.”

And I do get that.

But I sit here typing and crying, grieving, not because this is a bad change – it’s not; it’s actually a good change – but just because it IS a change and a big one, after so many years. Although I think I’m actually relieved. In this season of my life, I really wasn’t looking forward to hauling my chair down there every Thursday night to sweat and fight the mosquitoes and watch people I don’t know play on a team that used to be so important to me, but now is not. Besides that, sitting there alone is just not so very fun. It’s much, much MUCH more exciting when one or both of the girls are there with me, but with one girl living in Hong Kong, and one living in Virginia, their attendance at a Thursday night game just isn’t very practical.

So I am writing today to be happy and thankful for those 15 years, to document some stuff that our family may want to remember down the road, and to look forward to the next 15 years.

As Katie recently said in a message to me, with which she included a photo of a St. Louis Cardinal batter at the plate, “PSA: Baseball is back!!!”

Let them play ball!


1 Response to “Promise kept”

  1. 1 servantofthesecretfire April 7, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this. It is a treasure… as were all those years at the ballpark. 🙂

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