Baseball, Blackberries and Bless to Me Moments

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise will always be in my mouth”—Psalm 34:1 (CEB).

Carol Round

It was a game “where the real action took place off the field.”

This subtitle appeared above an article titled “Take Me Out to The Blackberry Patch” in a recent edition of Reader’s Digest. The article was written by Ernie Johnson, Jr., sportscaster and host of NBC’s “Inside the NBA.”

In the article, Johnson recalls a little league game of eight-year-olds when the baseball score was tied. During a time-out, so the coach of Johnson’s team could discuss strategy, they noticed two of their outfielders had disappeared into the brush to retrieve a fastball.

During the search, the two missing players discovered a blackberry patch, delaying the game as they feasted on the “mother lode of ripe and apparently delicious blackberries,” he says.

Johnson doesn’t recall the outcome of the game, but the incident struck a chord for his father, a major league pitcher in the 1950s. From then on, says Johnson, “it simply became ‘the blackberry moment.’”

When his father transitioned from the playing field to a sports broadcaster, he became a popular speaker at events.  While his dad shared stories about the notable stars he had played beside during his career, he always ended his speech with “the blackberry moment.”

The story, writes Johnson, “has become, in many ways, central to my perspective on work, relaxation—shoot life. It’s a kind a parable about not being afraid to step away from the game (translated: the job, the meeting, the list of e-mails, the seemingly pressing matter at hand) to appreciate the unexpected, unscripted moments.”

What is Your Focus in Life?

“But God has blessed you, because your eyes can see and your ears can hear!”—Matthew 13:16(CEV).

The Indian Express

When I was in sixth grade, I was diagnosed with myopia or nearsightedness, meaning I had the ability to see near objects more clearly than distant objects. To compound the diagnosis, I also had astigmatism, an imperfection of the cornea preventing part of it from focusing light onto the retina.

At 10-years-old, I was fitted for glasses. Because my eyesight was so bad, the lens in my glasses were thick in appearance, almost like the bottom of the classic soda pop bottle. As usual, children forced to wear glasses earn the nickname, “Four Eyes.” I was no exception. I admit, it hurt at the time.

When I reached high school, my vanity led me to ditch the glasses out in public. My parents wouldn’t buy contacts until I graduated and headed to college. I put up with the hard lenses in my eyes for three or four years until allergies made me forgo them. I returned to glasses.

During the next three or four decades I tried contacts again, this time the soft ones. Again, allergies made me miserable and the contacts were uncomfortable. Finally, I decided to stick with glasses. By this time, the material used for lenses had improved. Although I still needed a strong prescription, the lenses were thinner. I no longer looked as if I were sporting pop bottle bottoms in my frames. I actually looked forward to picking out new frames each time I visited my optometrist.  It was almost as good as shopping for new shoes.

Praising God Through the Trials and Turmoil

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God”— Psalm 43:5 (ESV).

Gulley-washing rains have plagued parts of the country during the past months, leaving a path of destruction behind in many areas. Lives have been lost and property has been destroyed due to the flooding.

Living close to the lake, I’ve seen the aftermath. My house is on higher ground but some of my neighbors have had to contend with rising water because their homes are lakefront property. One neighbor has even been fishing off his front deck, and a road running in front of his property is no longer passable.

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While on my daily walk through the neighborhood, I’ve watched as the rising waters have left the neighborhood lakeside picnic area unusable. The three concrete picnic tables and the large fire pit were swallowed by the rising lake levels.

When the rain abated for a week, the tops of the picnic tables came into view, as did part of the fire pit. The torrential rains returned and they disappeared once again. Now, as the water begins to recede, driftwood debris graces the shoreline. Some of the pieces are beautiful, even with the ugliness left behind.

While I contemplated the mess left behind by the storms, I thought about the trials we face in life. They come and go, just like the lake water levels rising and falling with our capricious weather.

Are You Doing Life God’s Way?

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”— Hebrews 11:1 (CEB).

http://proverbs31gal.com

The lyrics to an old Frank Sinatra tune come back to haunt me sometimes. Part of the song goes, “I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway and more, much more than this, I did it my way.”

Why do these words resonate with me? Before Jesus got ahold of me, I tried to chart my own course. I tried to do things my way. Looking back, I can see my way wasn’t always the best. I didn’t consult the Maker of the Universe before making a decision, especially those affecting not only me, but others as well.

 

Even though God gives us free will, I want to do life His way.

 

My confidence was in my own ability to get things done. My faith and hope and assurance rested solely on what I could perceive with my own eyes. I resisted change unless I was in control.

In 2001, a life-changing experience opened my eyes.  I began seeking God. As I have grown to trust Him more, my confidence now lies solely in Him. Do I still I have doubts sometimes? Yes. Do I still question God? Yes.

Why Does God want us to Pray for Others?

“Pray much for others; plead for God’s mercy upon them; give thanks for all he is going to do for them”— 1 Timothy 2:1(TLB).

https://lifehopeandtruth.com

I listened as a friend prayed with me over the phone about a family situation.  Melita is a true prayer warrior, and I treasure our bond as sisters-in-Christ.

I had called, leaving a voice message when she didn’t answer. I didn’t expect to hear back until the next day. It was late. However, my friend returned the call before she retired for the night. I was humbled by this beautiful friend’s willingness to return my call so late, even though she has to rise early each morning for work.

Having friends who will stand with you during trials is important. Even more important are those who will drop what they are doing to pray with you when asked.

We must believe our all-powerful God loves the people in our prayers.

I’ve learned to pray immediately when someone texts, emails or calls asking for prayer. If I don’t pray at the time of the request, I forget. I also add the person’s name and request to my list so I can continue to pray for God’s intervention or direction for an individual.

God instructs us to pray for others in several places in the Bible. In James 5:16, the apostle writes:  “Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results.”

The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children

“For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him”— 1 Samuel 1:27(NRSV).

truebeautyforashes.com

When a child is born, a mother anxiously checks for 10 fingers and 10 toes. She waits to hear the verdict from the medical staff that her child is healthy and whole. It’s a time of wonder when that tiny being is first placed in your arms and a time of uncertainty when you’re released to return home with the responsibilities of caring for a new life.

As each year passes, we watch our children grow, revealing their distinct personalities. While one child may be more fearful, another may test a mother’s patience with attempts to defy gravity or some other activity leading to cuts, bruises and broken limbs.

Letting go is difficult.

As the mother of two sons, now in their late 30s, I am aware of the limitations of my influence at this stage of their lives. With the lessons they learned as children embedded in their memories, I can only pray daily for their safety, well-being, their relationship with God and success in all they do. I pray for their work situations, their health, their relationships and how they raise their children.

When a child is young, a mother knows how to fix things. We can kiss a scraped elbow, place a warm, damp wash rag on their heads to bring comfort when ill, listen to their fears and promise them there are no monsters under the bed.

A mother’s heart is torn when a child becomes an adult and she realizes how her role has changed. Letting go is difficult.

Seven Daily Steps to Trusting God

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”— Proverbs 3:5-6(NLT).

http://gwensmith.net

Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of my favorite scriptures. I’ve posted it on my computer monitor. I have it memorized as a daily reminder. As I’ve grown spiritually, letting go of the need to be in control, I’ve learned to lean on God.

In a recent “Bible Study Tools” article I read, the author gives readers seven daily steps to trusting God with all your heart. Following this advice each day will enable you to have a greater trust in where God is leading you and why.

  1. Don’t depend on you. “We live in a world where trust must be earned and seems to be in short supply,” says the author.  But wise King Solomon, who wrote Proverbs, knew that trust is where we must start (see Proverbs 3:5). Disappointments teach us to depend upon ourselves. However, “living the life God has called us to means unlearning that lesson—to rest in God’s understanding” and not our own.” But, what if we don’t feel like we can trust Him completely? The author says, “That’s where step two comes in.”
  2. Cry out to God. “Surrendering to God begins with our lips and our thoughts,” the author adds. We need to cry out to Him to show we depend on Him (See Proverbs 3:6). When we pray, we’re confessing His ways are better. When we surrender our lives to Him, we have to remember step three.
  3. Run from evil. “So much in our world can clutter our relationship with God,” the author says. In 1 John 2:16, the writer describes “them as the desires of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride in our lives.” They become stumbling blocks when we think we deserve them to be happy. Instead, life works best when we remember God is the source of our blessings.
  4. Put God first in your life. We’re selfish beings; even so when we put God first, trusting everything we own to His keeping, including our money, we’re admitting how much we depend on Him.
  5. Check yourself by God’s Word. We’re not so good at evaluating ourselves. I know I’m not. We make excuses for our behavior. If we are to truly trust God, we need to know where we stand by studying His Truth.
  6. Listen to the Holy Spirit. As we go through our day, the Holy Spirit guides us. That means we’re never alone if we will listen (John 14:26).
  7. Rest in God’s Love. Living in a difficult world often makes us wonder if God even cares. You might ask, “Where is God when I need Him?” Solomon reminds us God never leaves us to fend for ourselves.

Even in the midst of turmoil, God is with us, using our challenges to teach us how to trust in Him with all our hearts. It takes whole-hearted commitment each day but we’re never alone (Matthew 28:20b).

I always love hearing from my readers. Please feel free to leave a comment below or email me at carol@carolaround.com.