Cardinal Baseball on my Fisher Price Radio

radioGrowing up I simply loved the St. Louis Cardinals Major League Baseball team. I loved anything and everything about them. I loved listening to the games, watching the games, and going to the games. I loved collecting Cardinal baseball cards, autographs, clothing, and collectibles. I would ride my bike to the baseball card shop just to look at the items in the glass enclosed cases. I even wanted to become a Cardinal baseball player when I grew up. Although my dream of becoming a big league Cardinal player failed, the Cardinals still are my favorite professional sports team today. Even when I lived in other states, I remained a loyal Cardinal fan.

Growing up I shared a room with my brother and it had a baseball theme. We played baseball every day in our backyard, with a 10 run rule…..you could not score more than 10 runs in any inning. My brother and I played for hours, just the two of us if no one else wanted to play. As a kid, I would write down all the Cardinal scores, record their wins and craig 1losses, and memorize their stats. My favorite players were Ozzie Smith, Ricky Horton, Vince Coleman, Tommy Herr, and Willie McGee. During the summer, the Cardinals were my life. I absolutely loved baseball and the Cardinals!

Because the games weren’t on television too often when I was growing up, I had a Fisher Price radio that I would take everywhere with me in order to listen to the games. Even at night, I would fall asleep listening to each and every game. With the radio in bed with me, I listened to the voices of Jack Buck and Mike Shannon on KMOX. Unfortunately, with the constant use of the radio and the wear and tear on it, it quit working. I was devastated and didn’t know what to do when the radio died. I had a hole in my heart, a wound that pierced me. I felt like I was letting the Cardinals down by not craig 2listening to every game. Fortunately, with the help of my dad I was able to get another radio fairly quickly and all was well again. Believe it or not, I actually still have that Fisher Price radio packed in one of my childhood boxes with the rest of my childhood memories.

I can still relate to my childhood days of listening to Cardinal games. Yes, even today, as I sit in a federal prison right outside Dallas, I can miraculously pick up KMOX 1120 during the evenings, listening to each and every game. It brings back so many memories and dreams that I used to have. And even now while I sit outside my dorm or on top of my bunk bed listening to the games at night, you can still see me pumping my fist on a Matt Holliday game winning homerun. Or a Trevor Rosenthal strikeout in the ninth. I’m still that same diehard fan as I was 25 years ago. No, I do not have that Fisher Price radio next to me anymore. But if I could, and if it was still working, I would have it right here with me in Seagoville, Texas, and you would hear nothing but Cardinal baseball coming out of it. It was definitely a favorite of mine!

Have you ever wondered if Jesus had a favorite sports team back in His day? Maybe it was the Jerusalem Fishermen or the Bethlehem Slingers or even the Nazareth Swordsmen. Did Jesus have a favorite toy or object He used daily as well? Maybe it was a sling shot or a walking stick or a fishing pole? Who knows? Although if we look at Romans 2:11 it says “For God does not show favoritism,” so it’s quite safe to assume that He did not have a favorite parent, favorite sibling or even a best friend. But does that mean He didn’t have a favorite toy or hammer as well? Who knows about that, but it’s always fun to imagine!

Remember, though, that God treats everyone as equals. He loves everyone the same. He hates the sin but loves the sinner. (Try explaining that last sentence to a bunch of inmates who don’t believe in God. No wonder I’m losing my hair!) God is compassionate and gracious. He is slow to anger and abounding in love. He is not slow in keeping His promises. And He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. He most definitely does not have favorites. And believe it or not, He loves the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs all the same.

But as for me……Go Cards!!

Words Matter

words-1Every day in RDAP (Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program) we have a large group session called “Community.” The entire afternoon class which consists of ninety total inmates is together to discuss issues, encourage one another, give out information and play ice-breaker games. It lasts about 30-60 minutes, depending on how much we have to talk about. At least once or twice during the week, sometimes more, each person is asked to lead or give out information on a certain topic. For example, a person might be asked to give information on today’s news, sports or weather. You could be asked to lead a game or say a word and discuss what that word means to them. Or you might be asked to give positive praise to an individual, lifting them up, making them feel good. The purpose of this kind of teaching is to get each person out of their comfort zone. For some, it’s easy to talk to a large group; for others, they are extremely nervous and physically shaking. By the end of the nine-month program, all ninety people in the class should be able to speak with ease to the group.

Unfortunately, this program is not filled with the brightest people. Most of them have not graduated from high school, although some are working on the GED. It’s sad, but some of them cannot even read or write. But we know Jesus loves them all!

Sometimes “Community” can drag on and on and can be very boring. There are seven of us in the group who try to make it a little fun and as exciting as possible. We made up a game among us while the class is going on. Each week we come up with a word that all seven of us decide on that must be said every time we are required to stand up and talk. Nobody else in the class knows the word except the seven of us. We try to think of a word that could be made up, challenging or funny. Sometimes being called on in the class on the spot can be very challenging as to how to use the word. For the seven of us, this “Community” time is full of our own silent laughs. If we could lol (laugh out loud…..man, I haven’t written that in a while HA!) without getting in trouble, we would! And if we can’t or don’t insert the word when we talk, the rule is that we have to do something embarrassing, which is even more comical….something the other six decide.

By playing this game we are alert and awake during our community time, and thinking constantly as to finding the right spot to insert “our word of the week”. Just so you know….the words from the previous two weeks have been RUIN and S’MORE. Our words can be hard to work with!

God’s Word has much to say on the use of words: Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that is may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29. Or Do not swear – not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your Yes be yes and your No be no, or you will be condemned. James 5:12. Or Encourage one another and build each other up just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Always be kind with your words. Encourage, up-lift, and say what is pleasing to others and to God. A word of encouragement offered at the right moment can make an impactful difference in someone’s life. Look around you. Be sensitive to another person’s need for encouragement, and offer supportive words or actions. And know that God will be looking down on you with a smile. Our words have power. Our words can change things. The way we speak can reveal the kind of person we are. Our words do matter.

Forgiveness

Good-Friday-Cross-2“Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies than our friends. It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love. Like all of life’s important coping skills, the ability to forgive and the capacity to let go of resentments most likely take root very early in our lives.”

Fred Rogers

Today is Good Friday, the day Jesus died on the cross. Because of His death we are forgiven. Because He has forgiven us, He now asks us to forgive others. If I have ever hurt you in any way, will you forgive me? Please let me know.