Baseball and Jesus

The thing about travel baseball is that it takes up YOUR ENTIRE LIFE.  This summer more than ever before, we have been driving and sitting and cheering and yelling and packing up and driving and doing all again 24 hours later.  We’ve been to Rockford and Grandville and Grand Rapids and South Bend and Mishewaka and Evanston.  We’ve searched for shade in 105 degree weather and wrapped up in blankets in 50 degree weather, and we’ve missed church for a month.  Seriously…today someone new was sitting in our normal spot and we had to find a new place to sit.  They’ve probably been sitting in that same spot for the past month and thought that we were first-time visitors…that is how long it has been!

So I was torn this morning when Carson (who is in Chicago without me) had a game that started at 10, but church (which is in Spring Lake) started at 11, and I had to make a choice. Watch his baseball game on Game Changer or worship Jesus?  I mean…it’s an obvious choice, right?  So I did what any good Christian mom would do and went to church and set my phone in the coffee cup holder in front of me (thank goodness for millenials!) and watched the game on the Game Changer app while Pastor Thad preached about the Sermon on the Mount. It was the only possible solution, really.

Look, Game Changer is a lifesaver.  It’s a real-time app that shows everything that is going on in the game.  It’s like being at the game…but not.  And after investing all of my time in this year’s season, I’m sure you can understand why I may have peeked open an eye and checked the score while at the same time singing Cory Asbury’s Reckless.  I have to admit that this was hard for me, I mean…I am a hand-raiser (if you want the details, check out this previous blog that I wrote about being a handraiser).  But I’m also a baseball mom…and I mean, of course Jesus is more important…but I still peeked.  A few times.

The real challenge came after worship when we had to sit down and I had to move my phone from the coffee holder in front of me to under my leg in order to have a better view.  (I mean, I would have set it out on my Bible, but I thought that might be disrespectful.)  Everything was going well until the offering basket was passed and I had to stand up to hand it to the lady down the aisle.  Unfortunately, my phone, which had been tucked under my thigh on the theater-style seat, went flying onto the floor in the aisle behind me, and the girl sitting there had to tap me on the shoulder and hand it back. Oops. I wanted to explain…it’s not like I was checking Insta…I was supporting my kid…and that’s the whole point of being a Christian mom anyway, right? Probably?

The hardest part, however, was that just as the sermon started, so did the 7th inning.  The other team had a 2-run lead, and of all things Carson was up to bat.  I’m going to be honest…at this moment I have no idea what Pastor Thad was talking about…but also I was praying the whole time, so I feel like that should count for something.  Here’s the reader’s digest version:

Carson: Hits a double
Me: Excited look at Kaitlyn, control urge to jump up and cheer.
Next batter: Another double, Carson scores. We’re down by one.
Me: Clenched teeth, stomach in knots
Next batter: Single
Next batter: Walk
Me: Grab Kaitlyn’s hand and hold my breath while making eye contact with Pastor Thad to make it look like I’m paying attention.
Next batter: Hits into a double play (this is bad and means that 2 outs happen at once)
Me: Try not to cry

Ok, if you don’t know baseball, this is what you should know…It’s the bottom of the 7th, there are 2 outs, and the stress level is high.  This is it.  And then…the next kid…with two strikes on him…hits a double…and Carson’s team wins dramatically…And the crowd goes wild…except not, because that would be inappropriate in church.  So instead, I hold back my excitement, drop my phone in my purse, and start taking notes on the Sermon on the Mount…I mean, I heard most of it…and probably the most important part. Probably.

So this is the thing.  I love Jesus and I’m a baseball mom.  And most of the time I get to focus on both.  But sometimes…I mean every ONCE IN AWHILE…my two worlds collide, and this mom just does the best that she can to make sure that both Jesus and Carson know that I love them.  And while I may not always get it right, when Carson got home tonight, I was excited to talk to him about his game-saving double…and about church, which, by the way was about not judging others…

So feel free to think on that.

And in the meantime, I’m grateful for a wonderful baseball season and for the upcoming period of rest that we get to have in which we get to return to church and hopefully get our seats back…until fall ball…which I think might start next week.

Lots of love from a baseball and Jesus kind of Small Town Girl.

Small Town InstantPot

Please. For the love of all things holy. Can somebody please just write a manual on how to use the damn InstantPot.  Seriously.  I’m not talking about a cookbook here…I have one of those. (You can see it here.  It says quick and easy meals…it lies.) It has these lovely recipes with pictures of pork tenderloin in a honey ginger glaze and lemon chiffon cake.

Pork tenderloin and lemon chiffon cake? Who has time for that? I’m not even talking about the time it takes to cook it (that’s the whole point of the InstantPot, right?) I’m talking about the time it takes to go to the store and buy a pork tenderloin to make that type of recipe. I spend 4 days a week watching my kid play baseball. And the other 3 trying to recover. Who. Has. Time?

Who the heck is making yogurt in this thing???

What I need is this:  I need someone to tell me exactly which buttons to push in order to put 4 frozen chicken breasts and a can of salsa into the pot and end up with a finished meal.  Instead, every single tutorial online says something like this:

1. Saute the chicken breasts in olive oil
2. Add onion and garlic,
3. Add a jar of salsa
4. Choose the amount of time you would like it to simmer
5. Adjust the pressure to your desired level

Desired level?  What levels are there?  My desired level is DONE. Is there a level for that? Look, I need to push a button.  Just one.  And end up with a meal that will feed my family.

I have tried everything.

  • Chicken breasts with veggies, canned diced tomatoes, garlic and onions…BURNT. 
  • Chicken breasts with veggies, canned diced tomatoes, garlic and onions, PLUS a 1/2 cup of water…SOUP.   
What. The. Actual. Hell.

Today it was rice. RICE.  I looked up the directions and they were fairly simple:

  • 1 cup rice, 1 cup water, press button.  So I did.  

Look,  no where in the directions did it say to CLOSE the steam valve.  But apparently that’s a thing.  Because if you don’t, you end up with crunchy rice, like barely done.  I mean, it was soft enough to eat without breaking a tooth…but barely.  It was rice, people.  IT SHOULD NOT BE THAT DIFFICULT!

1 c. rice, 1 c. water, push button.

When my friend RandiLynn first got her InstantPot for Christmas she was disappointed to find out that she couldn’t just push a button and instantly have a recipe pop out (like, without putting ingredients in…)  I laughed at her and rolled my eyes.  It’s possible that I patronizingly said something like, “I can’t believe you can’t figure out how to use an InstantPot, it’s not that hard…”

RandiLynn…I am so sorry.  Girl, I stand with you in solidarity against something that advertises itself as “Instant” and then asks us to download directions that don’t make sense and turn buttons and valves that I am convinced are actually programed to work against us.  You were right. This thing is a mess.

So this is it.  I am saying goodbye to my InstantPot.  It’s shoved in the back of the cupboard with the Ninja blender & weird apple peeler/corer thing that nobody ever uses…until the next time I get inspired to make something in 12 minutes or less.  But in that case…I could just order pizza…because really, for that I just need to press one button. On my phone.  And voila…a complete meal.

Lots of love from your Small Town Girl 

Small Town Ninjas

Aging is strange thing. It starts with one gray hair, and then it  spirals quickly into  realizing that American Ninja Warrior is no longer a life-option.  It’s a depressing realization really, as I watch these bubbly (and buff) normal-looking people from midwest America climb, jump, and salmon-ladder their way to $1,000,000.  They are 22 and 28, and even 35 years old.  There’s an occasional 40 year old who garners immediate admiration from the co-hosts (can you believe that at his age he can still… ) and sends America into a frenzy, realizing that this elderly 40 year old has managed to stave off the arthritis and knee replacement surgery expected of anyone who has passed their 39th birthday. 


The first realization of this aging process may have started with me overly-admiring the Cowboy Ninja last night as he showed up on the platform looking like (insert sexy country artist name here) in a sleeveless flannel shirt, jeans, and a cowboy hat. Mostly I appreciated his backstory and the endearing way that he tipped his hat to his wheelchair-bound wife, but I’ve also got to admit that his arms may have caught my attention as well…

Here is the transcript of Chris and my actual Ninja-watching conversation:

Me: *super impressed* Wow…he’s…
Chris: *super unimpressed* Wearing jeans. He’s wearing jeans.  And a cowboy hat.  Who does that?
Me: *still impressed* Well, it doesn’t seem to be slowing him down
Chris: * still unimpressed and slightly annoyed* He’s never going to finish the course wearing
those…Oh, please, now he’s taking off his shirt.
Me: *deeply engrossed in watching the shirtless cowboy*
Chris: I could do that, you know.
Me: *skeptical* Hmmm…could you?
Chris: *Annoyed at me for being skeptical* Seriously. If it weren’t for my bum knee. And my       
shoulder.  Have I told you about my shoulder?
Me: *sighing* Yes babe, I know. Have I told you about my shoulder? And my neck. I slept weird last  night. Now that we’re talking about it, could you grab the Biofreeze?
Chris: *rubbing Biofreeze on my neck* We used to be such good athletes.
Me: *slightly depressed* I know.
Chris: *finally impressed* Oh look, The Cowboy Ninja made it up the wall.
Me: *sighing again and smelling like menthol*
Chris: I’m serious. I could do that, you know. If it wasn’t for my knee.
Me: I know, babe, I know.

And there you have it. The moment that we realized that aging had taken us out of the game. Seriously, how did this happen?  We used to be athletes, and not to brag (ok, I’m totally bragging) but Chris and I have a few All-Something-or-other awards between us.  We’ve earned trophies and medals, and yet, age has gotten the better of us and we are sitting here complaining about our joint pain and slathering Biofreeze on our bodies like it’s sunscreen. *sigh*


Maybe, just maybe this is a wake up call.  Like…if his knee gets better, and our shoulders stop aching, and we become motivated, and there’s enough Biofreeze in the tube to keep us numb…well just maybe, you’ll see the debut of Cheerleader Ninja and Dad-bod Ninja, and as we walk up the podium the co-hosts will stare in awe and say, “Can you believe that at their age…”

But more than likely, we’ll sit on the couch and watch others climb the warped wall, and enjoy the fact that at least we both smell like menthol when we climb into bed at night.

With lots of love from a 40-something, Non-Ninja, Small Town Girl