Monday, July 25, 2016

Baseball Gypsies

San Antonio.
San Antonio.
... and this week, Lubbock!

I haven't actually counted, but pretty sure I've spent more nights in hotels this summer than in my own bed. Fortunately, it's hard to find places I enjoy much more than sitting in baseball stands. But... it's good to be home. At least for a few days until the next Tour de America begins.

We've shared one weekend this summer with all six of us together, and even that was in Georgia. But one thing I've learned through this adventure, even for our girls who have no choice but to be the most devoted sports fans out there, God is not random in His ordering of our days.

Our tournaments just happened to fall in special places. Not just great places, but special places. In his book, Love Does, Bob Goff writes about taking each of his kids on a "ten-year-old adventure." Perhaps this summer has been the Wilson version of that.

Goff says, "I think a father's job, when it's done best, is to get down on both knees, lean over his children's lives, and whisper, 'where do you want to go?'"

Last fall Branson told us he wanted to get more serious about baseball and tried out for the Fort Worth Cats. At the time, I wondered how his high school teammates would feel about his switching summer teams. The Lord went before us, months and months before us, because little did we know that come late May, Branson would convince us that he needed to switch high schools altogether.
Furthermore, Bran's Cats tournament led us to Atlanta for a week and a half, right to my brother's family (we hadn't taken our kids to Alpharetta in nearly a decade) right to some of our best friends and their family, and Branson got time with his favorite girl in the world ~ all in the name of baseball.

On the heels of June's Texas weekend tournaments, Hudson and I got a full week ~ just the two of us ~ in the Springfield / Branson area, one of my favorite places on the planet. We spent a little time at Kanakuk getting to hug his cousin Bogan, Hud got to take a guided fishing trip on Lake Tanycomo, and the week spent with his team was a ball. Fantastic families to "baseball vacation" with.

Jesse travels with his grill. These dads are serious tailgaters

Fishing on Lake Taneycomo
Hud is a riveting conversationalist on road trips
We spent two nights at home before I drove all the kids and my mom out to Georgia for nine days, our first experience with The Perfect Game. Corbin and my dad joined us over the long weekend. We navigated the traffic-filled highways north of Atlanta and crammed the week and a half full of so much fun with the Jameses and Hills, we had to remind ourselves that there was a baseball tournament going on.

Just minutes into Goergia... big smiles all around
Playing at The Perfect Game ballpark

Cutest fans!
Lots of fun watching him having fun
James, Hills... and Stoevers??!! God is so full of surprises
No clever caption to say how happy these two make him
Very special Sunday morning worship

We have cheered on lots and lots of baseball, stretched my suburban's odometer, and visited a plethora of QTs west AND east of the Mississippi line. It's the kind of summer when I looked at my credit card bill and thought, "Oh, they didn't get my payment last month." And then I realized, "Oh, yes, yes they did."

But it has been an adventure ~ for all of us.

Very fun baseball, but the experiences and relationships are what stands out: A one-on-one road trip with Hudson; potluck cookouts in the hotel courtyard; meaningful conversations about raising these crazy kiddos with teammates' parents; driving through the Ozarks with country music blaring, Hud patiently listening to all of my reminiscing, a nod to my own Kanakuk days; working through sibling rivalry on a 13-hour car ride (not very well, I might add); Branson getting a whole week with Adeline (!!); Mexican seafood and sushi with the Alpharetta cousins; persevering through a very, very bad hotel room week; my kids opening the door for mom every time we got in the car ~ from the inside ~ because the handle chose to fall off a couple of days into the tourn; a church service with a missionary's spot-on message, hearing Eric preach and Adeline sing and lead worship; the stands crowded with family and friends - in Georgia!

A summer of gifts in a baseball-wrapped package. 

For all of us, God offers this and more. Goff writes it well:
Every day God invites us on the same kind of adventure. It's not a trip where He sends us a rigid itinerary, He simply invites us. God asks what is it He's made us to love, what it is that captures our attention, what feeds that deep indescribable need of our souls to experience the richness of the world He made. And then, leaning over us, He whispers, "Let's go do that together."

**Too many pictures to capture in one post. More of our Perfect Game week here.

Practicing Gratitude - The Perfect Game week 7.25.16

- On the road again... Georgia or bust

 - This made me a little nervous. Games all over the metroplex (I don't think they call it that), including one in PeachTree City that didn't even fit on the map. But - we did it!! 
Mom's trusty pen and paper map - very helpful!

- So fun to be welcomed by a roomful of friends and their friends

Just a little excited to be reunited
Someone found the Wii

- Very first game in the tournament. Our boys were just a tad intimidated by playing the WINNER of the this tournament of 350+ teams last year - East Cobb

When you ask Hud to take pics of the game. I love his eye for great shots.

Bran getting some pitching pointers from Coach Knox

My Baylor roommate... and so much more... love this girl dearly

- Getting to be in Trey and Amy's home, seeing their "flip house," the land they are dreaming about... 
Branson and Brenna
One of the many reasons I adore my sister-in-law
Scarlett and Basden Joy
Hud explaining Pokemon Go to his cousins
Hud and Scarlett. Hud loves it when I take pictures all the time
Basden, Ashlyn, Scarlett, Adeline, Esther - what darling girls, all of them
Aunt Diana and Uncle Charlie made it to a game - this one wasn't far from their Alabama home

 - Oh my gosh. After a couple of nights in our "Perfect-game-appointed-hotel," I decided we needed to move.  I hadn't read the fine print beforehand that we would have two double beds (I expected queens), and upon arrival we couldn't add a cot for fire hazard reasons. They also had no spare linens. They also didn't seem real happy to work with us. So I called Corbin back in Fort Worth and had him get us an extended stay, the only room available in all of North Georgia, and I may possibly not have made the best choice. Our extended stay did not match the advertisement, and we were locked in through All that to say - it added to the richness of our expereince - aghhhhh! And - the primary reason for the move was to be close to the Jameses and Hills, and it totally gave us that. That and maybe lice. 
This is kind of a funny picture now, but it wasn't at the time. I thought Corbin was going to cry. The mattress - another story altogether - just unbelievable
- More cousin time

- Atlanta's best Mexican Seafood
...according to Yelp
No place cozier than waiting out a crazy storm than the Hill's comfy den

Bonfire in the Hills' backyard
These two and their love for TOADS (and their ability to find them)
Bocce ball
"Oh no, there's two of them!" - Branson
Bran and Coach Hynes

- Trey and Amy, all four of their kiddos, and Eric Blisset with his boys, and the Hills... all of them sweating out a HOT game with us - wowzers!

 - One of our many QT stops
Definitely not a QT, but you know what I mean
- Bran getting a taste of Atlanta driving

- Pretty special Sunday morning worship
Bran and Hud woke early to go hear Eric preach on the book of Esther
They were also a little motivated to hear Adeline sing a song she wrote for worship ~ Courage for Comfort
  - "Shooting the Hootch" (aka, tubing the Chattahootchee)


- 10 pm game at the Perfect Game Complex

This game's for night owls
1 am conversation - still going...
- Sushi with Trey and Amy is an experience. They took us to their weekly Kani House dinner where  the waiters know to expect them. Within the hour we were trained in the art of eating "one-bite" sushi by the James kids
Nice, Essie
Who needs a fork? Yum, look at all the fish eggs
Adeline is great with our cousins. Ironically, they have gone to the same school and Adeline plays with them at lunch time

- Bran and Adeline had so much fun at their FIRST Escape Room, they went again later in the week with Cade, Taylor and Hud

- There's a story behind this blanket... we fought the good fight... and WON

- Saying goodbye is never easy, but particularly this time

Until next time...
 Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles...   1 Chronicles 16:11-12