Sunday, November 29, 2009

Atmospheric Pressure Changer

I just came back from a weekend hockey tournament.  Let's see, I must've sat through at least six or seven hockey games and no, I'm not sick of hockey!  Kidlet Three played in three games but several of his friends were in the same tournament so we watched their games, too. 

At those tournaments you see all kinds of people.  Seriously.  Who needs to go to a mall to sit and watch people.  Drop by a sporting event to see the uptight, the parents-living-their-childhood-again-through-their-own-children, the encouragers, the siblings that were dragged to the event and are bored, and the list goes on.  I saw them all this weekend.  And, the atmophere around those people is really different. 

The man that sat in the bleachers pretending he was a play-by-play sports announcer caused me to get up and move to a different seat.  The atmosphere around him was kind of like a know-it-all.  His interpretation of the game was quite different than what I was seeing.

Then there was the parent who commented on what each player was doing wrong...out loud.  And my kid's name was mentioned during that commentary.  For the second time, I got up and moved.  The atmosphere around that parent didn't have any life in it...was very depressing.

Finally I sat by another hockey mom that grabbed my arm when I sat down and she said "oh I'm so glad you chose to sit by me, let's cheer these boys on to a win!"  Her words were like a gentle breeze on a sunny spring day!  A pleasant atmosphere just two rows away from the negative commentary parent.

Stick with me...this is not a weather report, I promise. 

That mom and I shouted encouraging words throughout the game.  I talked her into standing with me at the beginning of each period when the boys would skate out to take the drop of the puck.  Like we were "honoring" their efforts and we appreciated what they were doing in the game.  Several of the boys gawked at us from the ice but we smiled and clapped like fools. 

There was a time during the game when the action/puck was right in front of where I was sitting.  One of the opposing team players and our team player fell on top of each other and the opposing player held onto the hockey stick of our team player.  The nerve of that kid to hang onto that stick so our little buddy couldn't get into the game to play.  Something came over me and I found myself standing up and shouting "shame on you!"

Talk about atmosphere change.  Hilarious laughter broke out as all of the parents chortled back at me "you said shame on you at a hockey game!"  I'll never live this down.  Those parents and spectators will remember this probably all season long! 

Something bigger happened, though.  The atmosphere became lighter and there was less tension after their laughter.  I certainly don't intend on making a fool of myself by yelling goofy things like that at each game, but for today, I'm okay with what I did.

At the end of the game, the other hockey mom and I stood to clap despite the fact the score showed the team had lost.  It was so cool, most of the other parents stood to clap, too.  Not all of them but most did.  The atmosphere at that time was one of  pleasantness.  Despite the disappointment in a loss there was a pleasant atmosphere.

Guess who didn't stand to clap at the end.  The Play-By-Play Commentator and the Depressing-Find-Everything-Wrong parent.  Their atmosphere just couldn't be penetrated today but I'm holding out for them.

There have been times in the past, when parents and spectators have gotten caught up in a negative atmosphere during a game.  It has happened in Kidlet One's soccer games, Kidlet Two's baseball and hockey and now in Kidlet Three's hockey games.  Like a feeding frenzy, the negative comments start flying out of the mouths toward the referees and even their own kids.  It is like a virus, spreading and affecting the whole sporting event when that happens. 

It even happened at a Minnesota Wild hockey game that Husband, Kidlets and I were at.  The Wild were playing terribly and losing a game they should be winning.  All those around us were spewing obscenities and negative comments toward the players/team.  Husband and I looked at each other and without saying a word to each other, stood to our feet and started yelling "We believe in you....let's go Wild...let's can do it....go..go...go".  Believe it or not...I tell you the truth.  The atmosphere changed almost instantly.  At first there were a few that changed the negative to the positive.  Then more and more began cheering and encouraging instead of condeming.  And, the Wild ended up setting a record that night.  They scored the most goals in the shortest amount of time and they won that game.  I believe it was because the atmosphere changed. 

I'm an Atmospheric Pressure Changer.  Hopefully for the positive.  I'm sorry for the times I've been a negative influence.

The Lover and Creator of All lives inside of me and He is the One that causes Atmospheric Pressure Changes.  God, alive and well, lives inside of me.  I want to be His leaking vessel.  That He would leak out of me in every place I go.

To change atmospheres

To change people

Thank you, Lord, that you've made me an Atmospheric Pressure Changer!  It's all about You!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hockey Therapy

I sit in plenty of hockey arenas during practices and games.  One of the arenas in Our City has a walking track, which I enjoy walking on.  In other arenas I crochet.  Most die-hard hockey fans would probably not associate crocheting with hockey, but I am an exception. 

Over the past year I have carried green, brown or cream yarn and a crochet hook everywhere.  Sometimes it is more enjoyable to chat with the other hockey parents so at those times I don't grab the craft to work on.  Othertimes I feel quiet and reflective and will crochet many rows.  It is a form of therapy for me. 

I decided to make crocheted squares and decide at a later date what to do with them!  Somewhat risky for a novice crocheter but my hands needed to be kept busy.  One by one those squares were completed.  In the miracle category, they all ended up fairly even, square and the same size! 
Over the hockey season I did get plenty of wrinkled-eyebrow-looks as I was the only one doing needlework in a hockey arena.  Hey, it was keeping me from the concession stand and it relaxes me. the truth comes out.  I get a little excited at hockey games.  

I heard that!  Those of you that know me are laughing and saying "a little" excited! 

Hockey is an awesome game.  When Kidlet Two was about 11 years old, his team offered to have a parent-against-son hockey game and I was so "in" on that!  There was no consideration on my part that I hadn't skated in years and had no hockey protective equipment but I was going to do this!  It wasn't pretty.  Most of my time on the ice was spent trying to balance myself, hang onto that stick and anytime the puck came my way, my "swing" at the puck usually missed.  The ending play for me was the 100-mile-per-hour puck that hit my shin.  It has been several years since that game but memories are flooding my head (and my shin) right now of the pain. 

Last Christmas I got cocky and decided I should try this hockey thing again.  On the outdoor rink in my parent's town, Husband and Kidlet Three and I went skating.  And then we decided to pass the puck back and forth with each other.   You know I am pretty good at multi-tasking in my home and at work.  It is not uncommon for me to have four or five things going at the same time and all is in control.  On the ice, however, there is no multitasking for me.  There is one thing that I can do and that is concentrate on not falling on my bum.  But I had to take the challenge of playing hockey with my guys.  I didn't fall but that is only because I was praying so hard.  I'm not sure on many hockey rinks you will hear a player saying repeatedly "oh God help me" but that was my mantra.

Bottom line:  hockey is not for wimps.  Being able to stand, hold a stick and then skate takes talent!  Then add the fact you have to skate forward, backward, sideways holding the stick and controlling a puck all while some annoying other person (the opponent) is there trying to take the puck away. As much as I would love to be a hockey player myself, I can't do it!

If you were to watch me during any of Kidlet Two and Three's hockey games, I'd be the mom whose feet are moving (under my warming blanket) as I guess I'm pretending to skate, and my arms may flinch as I was pretending to hit a puck with my pretend hockey stick.  My body would move to the right and left as I was ducking away from the opponent.  I may even lean into the person next to me pretending I was skating next to the boards and I'm feeling squeezed. 

Hello, my name is So Amazed and I have a problem with passion for hockey...

I need some form of therapy to contain this passion so I crochet.  Whew...that confession feels good. 

Thus, my "therapy squares"...
And the finished product:

Anyone want to go to a hockey game this winter?  Give me a call!  My crocheting bag and I will pick you up!

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Deeed Eat!

My brother, Jim, had Down's Syndrome.  Communication was sometimes difficult for him but he had one phrase that he could say with such clarity and it was this "I Did It."  When Jim said those words it came out more like "I deeeeed eat!"  There was a lot of emphasis on the "E" sound!  Jim left this earth to be with Jesus 13 years ago on this coming Saturday.  He is still missed but his famous phrases live on in our family. 

Like this past week.  Take a look at this picture.  We've talked about this in a blog earlier in the month.  Does anything look different?

A week ago did you hear someone shout


Kidlet Three gave himself his first insulin shot!  Four years after his diagnosis he had the courage, strength, and lots of incentives to poke that needle in his own skin.  And he has continued on all this week having to face another giant when he had to go into a restaurant bathroom to give himself the shot.  But guess what...
 The smile on his face spread from ear to ear after that first shot.  The first words out of his mouth were "I did it" and then "that wasn't so bad."  I cried happy tears.  We did a dance.  We called family and friends.  And boy did we hug. 

The gameboard that Kidlet One made was pivotal for Kidlet Three to get moving toward this goal.  Each day Kidlet Three had an option to earn a dollar per the gameboard spaces instructions, or to give us a dollar back if he chose to skip a space (set of instructions).  Never did he pay us any money.  He charged along that gameboard in his true competitve way.  The day we were to share poking the needle in he was a little apprehensive.  So we literally talked through what was going to happen and then we prayed.  Well, I prayed as he was jittery.  Specifically I asked God to give Kidlet Three extreme courage and peace.  And then we started and I took my hand off the syringe in a surprise move but he continued on and poked that needle in his tummy chub.  And the party started!

The very last space on the gameboard, one of the grand prizes, was a trip to House of Bounce.  This is a building of inflatable slides, climbing walls, jousting, tug-of-war, etc. plus a room for laser tag.  Today we celebrated.  Kidlet One and her husband were able to join us along with three of Kidlet Three's friend.  We were so sad that Kidlet Two had a college class which kept him from joining us.  And believe it or not...I participated in the Bounce and the laser tag.  I'm hooked on laser tag!  Here are a few snaps...


Kidlet Three's journey to this day is not unlike this inflatable obstacle course.  As I crawled through here, God did a little nudge with me and allowed me to see the analogy. 

The beginning through the course started like this.  I could stand and push my way through.  Kidlet Three has been able to push his way through four years of Dad and Mom giving the insulin shots.
What started out as a standing/walking through the beginning of the maze quickly ended with me crawling on my hands and knees.  Quite humbling, I must say.  Rounding a corner I saw this:

Until I stood up and saw a different perspective

The view was a whole lot different when standing.  Four years Kidlet Three has been staring at this view.  The thought of giving himself his shots was too ovewhelming.  Like he couldn't get through.  And he would sit down and not face the obstacles and allow Husband and I to give the shot.  Today, I stood and plowed my way through those obtacles and boy did that feel good.
That one last obstacle was the steepest.  With very little grips and a steep incline.  Already a little out of breath, I stood looking at this ladder of sorts wondering how I had talked myself into this! 

Kidlet Three started on his gameboard knowing full well the winning space of the game was the day he would do the poke.  Yet he was willing to play the game.  He moved ahead a space each day collecting his $1 and small incentive prizes selectively placed along the board.  Never did he talk about giving up and not playing.  Even when he faced the last big step.  Like me trying to climb this tiny ladder (secretly hoping the kids were not around to watch me struggle at this).  I huffed and puffed my way up these steps (this wasn't the steepest inflatable by the way...I had already done that one but that didn't make this any easier)!  What a sense of accomplishment when I got to the top. 

I sat down on the slide with my newly pedicured toes (too bad you have to wear socks here)!  This was the final step to conquoring the obstacle course.  This was the poke-the-needle-in-yourself step to win.  It was so fun to slide down and catch my breath!  And guess what I said at the bottom?
I deed eat!
Kidlet Three, we are so proud of you!  You beat that obstacle course of fear and apprehension.  When things looked overwhelming and hopeless, you didn't quit.  You pushed through.  Courage was with you.  His name is Jesus.  He is proud of you too.  In fact, I bet God and Jim were shouting from heaven last week as we were celebrating here on earth.  They were shouting as loud as they could in happiness and joy...
He did it!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Las Vegas and an Attitude

On very short notice, I was gone for four days recently on a work trip.  Went to Las Vegas for a convention.  Personally, I've never wanted to visit Las Vegas but that was where I headed.

My plane from Hometown to Nearest-Big-City was cancelled.  All of the passengers were loaded on a bus and transported to the Nearest-Big-City.  You know what?  Life is short.  The bus wasn't packed.  We all had our own seats.  It was dry, warm and there was a bathroom.  The only thing we missed out on was the beverage service had we been on the plane.  There were passengers complaining about the inconvenience but sometimes I think we should weigh out when to complain and when to zip our lips.  Some of "them" had an attitude.
The bus got me to the Nearest-Big-City airport in plenty of time for the next flight.  There was just one big thing I had to face.  Airport scanning.  The only thing that freaks me out about airport scanning is that I have to take my shoes off.  Personal confession time....I have stinky feet.

Side Story:  I had a favorite pair of dress shoes that I wore almost every day at work.  They were comfortable and dressy.  They did cause my feet to sweat but the comfort was worth it.  One particular day I put those shoes on about 6 a.m. to head off to work and I wore them until I was tucking Kidlet Three into bed around 8:30 p.m.  As I lay down in bed with Kidlet to talk about the day and say prayers, I kicked my shoes off and they fell to the floor.  Within minutes our Dog was growling.  Dog very rarely growls...he barks.  This was definitely a growl.  I hopped out of bed and turned the bedroom light on to see Dog crouched and posed to jump on my shoes and he was growling at them.  I'm pretty sure he thought something had died when he smelled my shoes...and he was growling at them.

I was able to get through airport scanning without anyone around me passing out...from my shoe smell....

The flight from Nearest-Big-City was uneventful and even finding the shuttle to the hotel went fine.  I was shuttled to the Bellagio Hotel, where I would be staying and attending the work conference.  Nothing had prepared me for the beauty of this hotel.  I was totally and thoroughly surprised and overwhelmed when I walked in.  In fact, I cried.  

All of my life Las Vegas had been touted as the gambling capital, home of the boozers with prostitutes on every corner.  Part of this was confirmed when I stepped off the plane and the first thing I saw in the airport was gambling machines! 

Yet beauty had never been been used in conjunction with the name Las Vegas.  Before I left on this trip I had an atittude.  The opportunity to attend the conference was one I was grateful for; but, I was very disappointed that I had to go to Las Vegas.  Several times I found myself complaining about that city and wishing I was going anywhere but Las Vegas.

I had an attitude and had made a judgment about something I had no personal experience with. 

Standing in the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel with tears streaming down my face, I was overtaken with the beauty.  And I found myself saying, "I don't deserve to stay in such a nice place."  Immediately, and I mean immediately, God spoke to me in the way He speaks me and He said "you most certainly do deserve to stay here."

The physical beauty of my accommodations was echoed in the beauty of the people that worked there.  Every single person I enountered during those four days was gracious, personable and so willing to help.  My keycard didn't work in the hotel room door.  I was on the 15th floor and it had taken me 15 minutes to walk from the lobby to my room and then my door wouldn't open!  But there was bellman in the hallway and he saw what was going on.  He picked up a hallway phone and reported my dilemma and less than 10 minutes later I had working keycards with extreme apologies for my inconvenience.

I am so sorry for the attitude I had about Las Vegas.   The small slice of the city that I experienced in those four days certainly didn't support my pre-trip judgments.

How many other circumstances or areas in my life have I pre-judged or had an atittude about?  Way too many, I'm afraid.   I'm asking God to change me in that area.  To challenge my attitudes. 

Anyone want to go to Las Vegas with me next time?  I really want to go back now.  Serious!