May 11, 2010

Safe at home plate

It's baseball season and like some of you, 
I have been spending lots of time at the baseball fields and have loved every minute of it. 
This is our oldest son's last season in the major league 
and it's such a fun team of kids and parents, 
plus they are playing great ball!
So as I kept watching run after run come in the other evening,
and the thrill of the boys sliding into home plate,
I began thinking about HOME PLATE 
and how important it is in the game of baseball. 
There are certainly many important words in the game, 
but HOME and SAFE are two standouts to me.
It "strikes" me, (pun intended) that for most folks HOME is SAFE. 
Home is our safety place; a place where we feel secure and safe from the outside world. 
A place we can rest and be ourselves.
A place where we feel loved.
A place where we can dust ourselves off, get clean and be fed and nourished.
For some, unfortunately, HOME is NOT SAFE. 
For a young man named Terry, HOME was not SAFE
and our paths crossed as he was leaving his home. 
I met Terry recently when I flew to Kentucky 
for my dear friend Susan's wedding. 
You know the drill, you're entering the airplane
wondering who your seat mate will be. 
My seat mate was Terry....
*an African American 19 year old high school drop out from Memphis, TN. 
*with earrings, baggy pants, and huge muscles 
*with only a small backpack, no checked luggage (he told me so)
*with beautiful eyes that pierced me with his story of pain (even before he shared it)
*one of 8 children
*loves his mama very much and siblings too
*father in prison for abuse and dealing drugs
*with an invisible wall he had built to protect himself; he was clearly a survivor

And so I found myself next to Terry on a VERY small plane heading to Kentucky. 
I have to admit, I was a wreck. It was turbulent from the start and I am not a huge fan of flying.
So the conversation began about that 
and I found myself grabbing for his arm, for security, at points during the flight.
I learned quickly, this day was his very first time flying! 
He was as calm as a cucumber;
Me, not so much.
I was reading The Hole in the Gospel by Richard Stearns, an amazing book. 
He started to ask questions so I closed the book and we talked. 
We talked about his life and his family and his struggle. 
How he was bullied
and then kicked out of school for defending himself.
He admitted to being "not the best role model" for his siblings
and trying to make that right.
He told me he wanted to start over
and "do good things" and make something of himself. 
He wanted his mama to be proud of him.
An uncle was paying for Terry's flight
so he could go live in KY and try to have a new start.
The plan was to live with his uncle and three cousins
and work construction together.
He also planned to finish his GED.
After answering some of his questions,
it was evident early on that I was a mother and a Christian.
I found myself in a "motherly role" giving advice but wanting to do that gently
so as not to scare him or overwhelm him.
We talked about what his God-given talents may be,
what he enjoyed doing,
and what he could do to break the cycle his father started.
It's hard to explain, but we had the most wonderful conversation
and he thanked me profusely for listening and for the good advice
and he assured me he would finish his GED.
Terry left his seat to use the restroom
and I felt the Lord telling me to write him a note
and slip it into his backpack, so I did.
Dear Terry,
I will be praying for you as you begin your new life in KY. 
God has a purpose for you!
Trust Him.
So I hope Terry found the note that night.
And I hope he keeps it and remembers our conversation.
I hope and pray he can find God in KY.
I hope he will find a SAFE HOME.
Everyone deserves a safe home, even Terry.
As we said goodbye, he leaned over and hugged me.
Not a loose hug; a bear hug, like we had known each other for years.
I tried so hard not to cry.
Then I handed him a twenty dollar bill to help buy his first dinner in KY.
Then another bear hug.
Terry does not know me; he does not know my last name.
I will likely never see him again
unless we meet in heaven,
which is really the safest home plate.
And I hope we do.
The following is a song called SAFE
and is by one of my favorite Christian artists,  Phil Wickham.
So now every time I hear this I think of Terry.

Here's another great one called Heaven's Song by Phil Wickham. 



  1. You brought tears to my eyes this morning! You have many God given talents of your own. I'm praying for your continued success this coming week and can't wait to see you on Sunday!

  2. I have been overwhelmed by your sweet e-mail messages but let me please say, this journal entry was not to boast about me or anything I did, this is about how we all have the opportunity each day to be a piece of Jesus to someone. And although we can't change the entire world at once, we can be part of the solution each day by spreading joy, hope and love to others. If anything, this encounter with Terry was a reminder to me ..."a wake up call so to speak," to not be asleep at the wheel and miss opportunities to witness.


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