I discovered cruising in 2005 after going with family to celebrate a milestone birthday (it was my uncle’s 50th). We went on a 5-day cruise out of Galveston, TX on the Carnival Ecstasy and at first I was nervous and worried that I’d be bored. It was just the opposite. This itinerary made two stops; one in Cozumel, Mexico and then Progress (also Mexico) and we had a blast. It was my husband and our youngest son who was just 2 1/2 at the time. He spent most of his waking hours in the comfort of the Camp Carnival playroom, while we enjoyed the adult fun on the Lido deck. When we would pick him up for dinner (or a lunch break) he almost ran from us. Not because he doesn’t love us, but because he was having so much fun. It was a May cruise and there weren’t as many kids as there are in the summer months, so he had his choice of toys and was the entertainment for the au pairs on board. Before the trip ended, we were asking ourselves when were we going again. And so the rest is history…this summer will mark our 10th year of cruising every year (except one).
One of my favorite movies is Ray, the feature film about Ray Charles. When Ray Charles was about five years old, he developed glaucoma and gradually became blind. One of the most pivotal scenes in the movie occurs in his mom’s home. He was stumbling around the humble shack in the darkness and began to get frustrated. He sat there and cried out to his mother who sat in the chair crying, wishing she could just take it away. But she knew it was best that he learn how to navigate this situation. He knew she was there because he could hear her breathing and crying, so he knew he was not alone. Before long, he began to move around the house, using his touch and hearing, which were both heightened by his loss of sight. She could have sprung out of her chair to “rescue” him, but instead she lovingly watched and cried as he listened for a grasshopper and made his way over to it. As he picked it up, he smiled and began to clearly hear all the other sounds in the background.
We often visualize God as a doting parent, there to pick us up at the first sign of trouble. While this image is comforting, it’s not a full depiction of God’s true nature and “parenting style”. There are times when God will rescue us, but there are times when He will lovingly sit and cry while we navigate dark seasons of our lives. The important thing to note is that He is there, watching and loving us as we work our way through the revelations that come from the darkness. In the darkness, we can hear things we wouldn’t hear, and smell things we wouldn’t otherwise smell. And most importantly, we would learn the things we wouldn’t have otherwise learned. There is always a purpose for the darkness.
I had several errands to run today, but one of the most important of them was to buy another basketball goal for our backyard. Yes, we have active boys (down to only 2 since our eldest 2 are “grown”) and they will both die if they can’t play. Nevermind that it’s 100 degrees outside (we live in Houston). But the reality is, I’m replacing the goal because our backyard basketball court is where we do ministry. Youth ministry, marriage ministry, family ministry. Over the past 11 years that we have been in our house, we have never not had a basketball goal. It was a place that my husband and I would unwind and talk after a long day at work. As the kids got older, it was a teaching ground for them. Not just for dribbling, but for life. Have you ever tried to get a teenage boy to open up about his feelings? Well, put a basketball in his hand and offer to rebound for him and you can get instant conversation. My husband has utilized this parenting technique with our boys, which has contributed to me spending more time watching them out the back window than actually playing with them. Despite the fact that I’m no good at basketball (always been a runner, not too good with ball-sports), I enjoy playing with them. I enoy the activity, but most importantly, I enjoy the time with my boys. With their age differences, it is only in the past year or so that my husband and I can sit back and watch them play 2 on 2. It is always fun watching our oldest (and most defiant) use the game to teach life lessons to his younger brothers. And as I remind them often, God cares about basketball…it is sometimes just another way to bring His children together.
So, today I purchased our second goal in a year. The previous one fell on it’s face because the water drained out of a leak in the base. That goal sitting on the concrete slab like that looks like disaster has struck our house. And in a way, it has. The pasttime that has glued my family together for years is on hold until the assemblers come. I hope they get here quick.
I created this blog because I am finally ready to write and publish the “book in me”. I had to overcome a lot of hardship in my life and have made peace with what had ailed my heart.
(updated): Unfortunately, before I had a chance to create a single post, our lives were changed forever. Our oldest son was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called Osteasarcoma. That spiraled us into a battle unlike any we’d fought before. So this blog is now active. I have chronicled that journey in my first book due out later this year (2012). It was not something I asked for or would ever wish on a family. It was, however, what God used to restore many relationships and people in my life, especially my oldest son.