As it’s very name suggests Thanksgiving is always a time for giving thanks. As I sit alone at my keyboard with the sun rising in Georgia I count it a blessing that I’ve been able to spend the entire week giving thanks.

Saturday – I was fortunate enough to have the entire day to watch a bunch of girls that I love participate in a showcase tournament that started with a very unique format. In the first two games of the day eams exchanged half of their players with each other. While most of the parents were less than thrilled it brought an untold joy to my heart. I began Cross Training as a ministry to reach players and their families through long term relationships. The first team that I coached had many amazing young ladies on it who’m I blessed to still have contact with. Two such young ladies were Sydney O’Neill and Savannah Mills. During my team’s games I met a coach from another local park Curtis Walker. I enjoyed playing his team because he was committed to the same principles of teaching and making it about the girls that I was, and because his daughter Sarah Walker was such a talented and fiery player. Curtis also coached a travel team that Sydney would go on to play with in the next season so it was great to have that continued relationship with both families. Savannah’s family went to a local church with another super family the Burnette’s. John Burnette (who eventually officiated the weddings of both of my daughters) coached a team in Buford (who Sydney hit her first homerun off of) that I began working with. Among many of the phenomenal players on that team were two bubbly young ladies named Lanae Hodnett (3 time State Champion) and Lanier Paul (4 time State Champion) During that spring season I really enjoyed watching those two teams do battle repeatedly because I got to watch players on both sides that I was working with. Last Saturday morning my heart was filled with thanks as I got to watch the Duluth Lynx take the field. A team comprised of many fine young ladies and anchored by Sydney O’Neill, Sarah Walker, Lanae Hodnett and Lanier Paul now all playing together. If I wasn’t afraid of having you tune out on me I would trace the relationships that have resulted in the past 6 years from those people to the fine young ladies on the teams that those Lynx were opposing that day. For others it was a crazy, mixed up format. For me seeing players from the beginning of my ministry play against and with players that I’ve begun working with more recently was drawn up in heaven.

Sunday I began the day with a phenomenal service at my church. The worship was great. The message was great. Fellowship was great. The rest of the day continued in the same tone as I get to spend the entire day tinkering with a new computer and learning things that I’ve wanted to know how to do for years.

Monday I got to start working with a fantastic player for the first time (Lane Simmons). A young lady whom I’ve admired for her competitive spirit, the gifts she has on the field and the sincere desire she has to never stop learning. A yound lady I had already written a post about. As if not enough, immediately after working with her I got to work with one of my favorite players in the world (Meghan Rud), a young lady that I can trace through those first relationships, and encourage her to pick up the phone and make her first telephone calls to prospective coaches. Which she did successfully on Tuesday.

Tuesday I got to start working with two more players for the first time. One of whom is another young lady who’s roots I can trace to those first relationships (Mary Johnson). Another is a colleague at works daughter (Gabi Lopez). A man I barely knew but who asked me about a bright yellow name tag lanyard I had received the day before, which just happened to read “I Love Softball” over and over and over. Yeah that’s how I roll at work. Dress pants, dress shirt and bright yellow lanyards that say “I Love Softball.” During my first lesson I always have the players write down their dreams. When I read that Mary’s dream was to play at Auburn, a school who introduced the term Wintality to me that I love, and Gabi’s was to play for the National Team of Puerto Rico I knew it was going to be a great night. I “LOVE” working with players that are trying to pursue their dreams throgh softball.

While it would seem boring to some, on Wednesday I was blessed with the opportunity finally to just do some simple yardwork. I love the environment that God has placed me and my wife in and love taking care of that beauty. So while it was cold and windy, I just relished that time. Followed up that brisk work outdoors with some simple time sharing the kitchen with my wife as I mixed up the batter for the homemade pumpkin pies (me and my daughter’s favorite) and preparing our 21 pound bird for the 13 hours it was about to spend in the smoker shortly.

Thursday was a family day, like it is for most. A day spent with our daughters, their husbands and our 3 grand children. After all of the food. The laughing. The food. The talking. And some food. Just before being packed up for the trip home our youngest grand daughter Ella decided to take her first steps walking on her own. I ended the day falling asleep on the couch watching a television show called Tanked. Yet another reality show, but this was one about a funny family that builds some of the most amazing aquariums in the world. As a person who has a 120 gallon custom tank just sitting around because I have no time for taking care of it anymore, it was awesome to end my day just reliving the good old days and seeing the amazing things that are possible with some of God’s most beautifully designed and colored pieces of art.

Just the simple fact that I am at the keyboard this Black Friday morning instead of standing in line with a million of my closest friends is in itself a blessing. As my wife and I read the flyers yesterday it became obvious that we already have not only what we need, but most of what we want as well. Our plans for the day … spending time together. No softball lessons. No family. Just time alone together enjoying the simple fact that after 27 1/2 years of marriage we still love being together.



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