So this phrase, “trust in God”, is something just about everyone has heard before. People always say, “oh just trust in Him, He can take care of it for you” or “you just have to turn it over to God and trust in Him”. And to me, they have always been these cliche lines that people feel obligated to tell someone that is struggling.
Well tonight I’d just like to write about this kind of revelation I had in my own time of studying the Word.
When it comes to trust, I have a hard time with it. I’ve always been cynical and had a hard time really trusting someone. I’ve never been the kind of person to make myself vulnerable or to give someone the opportunity to hurt me or break my trust. In a way, I was scared and powerless, thinking that everyone only had their own agenda in mind. It made it hard for people to get close to me.
And I’ve found myself being the same way with God at times. I knew that I should just trust in Him but for me it was easier prayed then done. I wanted to be in control because I knew that I wanted good things for myself.
So I’m reading in John’s gospel tonight and in chapter 9 where Jesus heals the blind man. At the very end, Jesus asks this man who He has healed “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
Now when Jesus asks this man if he believes, He isn’t asking if the man is of the opinion that the Son of Man exists. He is asking if the blind man is ready to TRUST in the Son of Man. The blind man answers “Lord, I believe”.
This is what spoke to me. This blind man believes and has confidence. He isn’t wondering whether Jesus is out to further his own agenda or plan. He trusts that Jesus is there working for his good.
God isn’t working for His own good. He’s for us, not against us. He wants us to prosper and has plans for it.
It’s easy as a Christian to tell people you talk to about certain parts of scripture. There’s scripture for just about every situation in life and we can become machines just regurgitating what we have read or heard. But so much gets lost that way.
There’s deeper meaning to every single sentence in the Bible. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard in my life that I needed to trust God and it just rolled right off me and I never received it.
But if we take the time to back up the scripture or lesson in the Bible with what the Holy Spirit may have spoken to us, then that scripture takes life. It has substance. It has more behind it that someone can really grip onto and use in their life.
So I have to admit that all night I have been trying to answer a question. It’s a question that I’ve never really had to ask myself before and it scares me to even think about. I’ve been trying to figure out why I play baseball.
This freaks me out to even think about. I won’t lie. I’ve never worried before about why I play this sport. It’s always just been something I’ve done and I’ve been happy with that. Never needed an explanation. So why ask myself tonight? Good question.
For a little while now, baseball hasn’t been as much fun. I think it started last year with my terrible pitching performances and then getting injured for the first time ever. It’s never fun to fail and that’s how I felt. I had already had a bad start to the season and then got hurt so knowing I wasn’t helping my team either way was just no fun. I’ve been chomping at the bit to redeem myself but there’s only so much you can do in summer ball so I’ve just had to kind of wait. But it’s left this bad taste in my mouth and that’s led me to tonight. It’s led me to question almost the very core of me. Baseball is such a part of me that to question why I do it or to question it at all feels wrong. It’s necessary though.
So all night I have been asking myself the question without answering it. I’ve looked through my older blog posts to remind myself of the good times. I’ve gone through old pictures on Facebook from high school when my days in this game didn’t feel so numbered. Like a crumbling relationship, I’ve gone back to the earlier days. Wasn’t it Brad Pitt in Mr. and Mrs. Smith that said “I guess that’s what happens in the end, you start thinking about the beginning.” And that’s where I found myself. Pouring over old newspaper articles, trying to recapture that feeling of love gone by. And then after going through endless photos and articles and blogs, I came across one picture.
This is why I play baseball. For the chance to be the hero. For the chance to be a role model. For the relationships you make and the people you meet. When you’re caught up in the game and the wins and losses, when you get lost in the numbers that are stats and whether your performance was good or bad, you lose sight of what baseball is about.
See, when I asked my wonderful girlfriend why exactly I played baseball, she responded with, “because you love it”. But that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to know why I love it. Because to challenge my reasoning for why I play it, I also had to challenge why I love it. Baseball provides wonderful chances. Just like America is full of opportunities, so to is Her past time.
I have met some truly amazing people through the game. People that will be in my wedding. You can say that about most sports, but I’ve been lucky enough to be blessed with the ability to play baseball. Baseball is perfectly unfair. One at bat you can do everything right and drill a ball right at someone and get out and the next at bat can completely screw up and find a way to hit the ball where no one is. One day you’re the hero in baseball, the next day you’re the goat. Maybe it’s wrong to say baseball is unfair. If anything, it’s a lot like life. The highs and the lows all even out.
So when it comes down to it, yeah I play baseball because I love it. But I love it because it’s more than just baseball. Sound confusing? It is. I don’t just love baseball because of the game. I love baseball because baseball has provided me with more things than I can ever imagine. Memories, friends, trophies, vacations. It’s given me all of that. It’s given me myself, revealing more about my character than I ever could have imagined. So that’s why I love baseball. And then on those good days, when you do get to go out and perform well and have kids look up to you and watch you as you win, well that’s when the world seems to be at perfect peace.
Well tonight I’m going to bring back a little thing I did my freshman year which was introducing people to the Royals baseball team. See, most people don’t ever really get to know the players, they just know them by a jersey number or a picture on a website or a stat or something. So I try to add some humanity to our players and give you a look at our players. Then, maybe you’ll find someone to root for. So tonight we are going to take a look at current sophomore Drew McKenna
That’s him on the right. Not sure who that is on the left. Doesn’t matter. Look at the kid in red. Fearsome look right? That’s the look that every hitter has to see when staring down all 6’7” 255 pounds of man on the mound that is Drew McKenna. Okay, so maybe he isn’t that big, but he’s no joke. Now Drew didn’t actually get to pitch last year, he was recovering from an injury, so we don’t know what he can do. But if he pitches half as good as he looks, he’ll be a force for us in 2013. Drew is about as friendly a guy as you’ll ever meet and from what I can tell, his family is pretty nice too. Here’s a nice story. For awhile Drew had been talking about meeting his family. So one random morning I’m walking out of my dorm room shirtless to go to the bathroom and I’m half asleep, little did I know that Drew and his entire family were out in the hall and I was introduced. Pretty solid impression. Drew is part of the second best bromance on the team with fellow pitcher Ryan Henschel. Second behind only myself and Ryan McAlister. He also is a big fan of dubstep and Mennos. He’s known to casually twist the hairs in his beard while he talks and refer to himself as “papa”.
Tale of the Tape
Favorite Color- Blue
Favorite Food- Mac and Cheese
Favorite Athlete- Bernie Mac
Favorite Movie- The Notebook
Favorite Quote- “I’m too drunk to taste this chicken”
So real quick, I had to come here and write down this experience I just had and share it with you. I actually was just falling asleep and had this happen and it just captivated me so much that I had to come to my blog and write about it.
To give you guys just enough background information, this week hasn’t been a good one. I’ve been really down lately without much reason why and it’s just been one of those weeks where I’m stuck in a rut. I’m sure anyone has had those where something just feels off. Well that’s how the whole week has been and I’ve been looking for ways to get out of it. I’ve prayed and prayed, I’ve read Scripture, I’ve talked to my coach about it and I’ve just been looking for a way to break this funk I’m in. It hasn’t been just like, oh I’m kinda down. It’s been full on, down in the dumps and I had no clue how to fix it. What I was doing wasn’t working.
To give you a little background before that and to give you a better sense of what just happened and how amazing it is, I have to tell you about that speech I was giving to the kids like I talked about in my previous post. When I outlined what I wanted to say, a lot of it had to do with perseverance. I was flipping through my Bible and looking for what God’s Word said on it and came across Romans 5:3-5 which says
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.”
So I spoke on that Scripture a little bit and that was it.
Now to talk about tonight. I’m laying in bed here tonight and I’m going through my phone and checking out my Bible App. The App has a place where you can start new lessons and things like that and it will give you scripture on certain subjects or lessons. Now keep in mind that I’ve been praying for some kind of peace or for God to just speak to me in a way to comfort me. Boy did He do that. I clicked on a lesson about if life should hurt sometimes and the first verse that came up was the one that I had just spoke about to a group of kids. Talk about humbling. I had done all this searching for an answer to my pain and the week before I had talked about the very thing. So I read through Romans 5 again and a smile crept across my face. At that moment, the pain was eased and I found the comfort I had been looking for.
God delivers! I had been seeking Him the whole week but getting in His way. Whenever I asked for answers, I filled in the blanks myself instead of letting Him work. When I finally got down to it tonight and let Him speak, He knew the right thing to say. He always does.
Now how foolish do you think I felt when I realized the one piece of Scripture I needed was something I had already found and spoke about? Sometimes I’m just crazy enough to think I’ve started to figure everything out and then I’m completely humbled. This is the beauty of the Word though. God can use His word to speak through you or to speak to you!
I love it. I just feel so tremendously blessed and I thank you for taking the time to read this. I’m learning more and more each day and it’s really fun for me to share these experiences and to be transparent with you. I hope you enjoy it like I do. God bless
Alright so one more blog post for the night. I’m feeling productive.
To start off, I have to tell you that I’ve been praying lately for the opportunity to speak to people about Jesus Christ. Now I have to say that anytime you come in contact with someone is an opportunity to spread the Word but I was thinking bigger picture. Today I was blessed with that opportunity. I got a call from my high school coach today about a baseball camp for some kids tomorrow and since he couldn’t be there he asked me to step in. He told me that I’d have to speak to kids about the rewards of hard work, doing well in school, and talk about baseball in general. I accepted right away even though I have somewhat of a fear of talking or giving speeches. At the time I really wasn’t even thinking about how it could be a platform to give a testimony. I accepted the offer just because it was a chance to talk to some kids about baseball and help them out. Lately I’ve been looking for chances to give back to the game that has given me so much and so that’s how I saw this. After I got off the phone and thought about what I might say, God spoke to my heart telling me what kind of opportunity He was giving me and how He was answering my prayers. What a blessing. I’m still not sure what I will say to the kids and I have no idea how they will respond. It’s something I’m going to continue to pray about tonight and seek God’s leadership. It’s still exciting though. To be given a platform like that when you’re not even expecting it is truly such a blessing and I’m completely excited. Still a little nervous but hopefully that subsides :)
So really, there isn’t much to this post except to show that God will answer prayers. I’ve been praying for this for awhile and now is when I’ve been given my chance so I believe that now God thinks I am ready to handle this. Once again, thanks for reading. Hopefully I’ll have a lot more to say and some more time on my hands coming up so that I can continue to update this. I hope that you as a reader have been able to take something away from these last three blog posts that makes you think or feel something and definitely let me know what you think! Thanks again
Call me a romantic because I LOVE the game of baseball. I really do. The game of baseball has provided me with more opportunities than I can count. I’ve won two state championships, been in the paper, traveled to California to play some of the best teams in the world, and forged so many incredible friendships through this game. So hear me out when I say that a lot of people these days don’t respect the game of baseball.
Allow me to get on my soapbox here for a minute and talk about this issue because it’s getting out of control. I’ve noticed these days that a lot of kids and older players don’t truly respect the game of baseball like they should. They take it for granted. Don’t. The game is here for us. It provides an opportunity and that’s it. There’s no guarantee for how long we will get to play it or what we will get to do in the game. It’s there giving us a chance to play. To put it shortly though, the game does not need us. Baseball has existed long before we started playing it and will continue to exist long after we stop. We serve baseball, not the other way around. Treat the game with respect. Play it with a passion. We don’t get enough years to play this beautiful game so take advantage of what it provides.
To me, baseball isn’t even truly about baseball. Yeah, it’s incredible to play the game and it’s rewarding to play the game right. But people are lying if they say that baseball is about anything other than people. That’s right. I said it. It’s not about the actual game. It’s about the people you meet along the way. It’s about friendships forged and families that are born through the game. Maybe this post isn’t filled with rhymes or metaphors but this is my poem for the game.
Call me old school if you like. The game has become about individuals. It’s become about superstars in the MLB are the most draftable players in college or high school. Long forgotten are the days of teams, a scrappy family of guys working together with one goal in mind.
The best thing about baseball is it rewards you for being a good person. Lay down a sacrifice bunt and give yourself up and it doesn’t count against your average. Take a pitch for the team and your on base percentage goes up. Bust it down the line and you can beat out a groundball for an infield single. It’s truly a beautiful game.
Watch a shortstop field a ground ball with perfect footwork. That guy has fielded thousands of balls leading up to that moment but for those few seconds he’s so smooth that a choreographer couldn’t have orchestrated it better. Watch someone with a perfect swing connect with a fastball. The sound, the electricity of the ball off the bat, the follow through, it’s magical. Look at a pitcher on the day he has his best stuff. The things he can do with a baseball are truly unbelievable. So many intricacies of the game get lost on people because we have become so used to them. Turn on a baseball game right now and really soak in the thousands of special things that go on in that 2 hour span.
I know this post has been sort of all over the place but I hope my general thoughts have gotten across and baseball fans can take something from it because I’m truly passionate about this game and want to be somewhat of an ambassador for the game. As always, thanks for reading and keep checking back for more!
Wow. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on here. Things have been pretty busy and since my last post I haven’t had the time to sit down and write something and I mean, what’s a blog without new material? But here I am tonight getting ready to churn out a few new posts for whoever still follows this thing and hopefully I’ll have more time to write this summer.
So just to start out tonight, I’ll update you on life. It’s fun. The baseball season wasn’t exactly what I or the team expected but that’s how God works sometimes. I had the opportunity to go play summer ball out in California but decided that’s not where I was being led and instead opted to stay home for the summer. I have the opportunity to go to the Dominican Republic later in the summer to play baseball and spread the Word of God and I’m really looking forward to seeing how that turns out.
As for the rest of this summer, there is a lot going on. I’m working in the mornings at a driving range and then working out and playing baseball in the evenings. That doesn’t leave much down time and so by the time I get to bed at night I’m pretty beat.
I’ve managed to put on a lot of weight so far this summer and I’ve been pretty pumped about that. I’ve already gained 7 pounds and by the end of the summer I’m looking to be 20 pounds heavier from when I left EMU.
I’m already looking forward to next season, especially after the way this past season went. I know that for a lot of guys, it left a bad taste in our mouth and we just want to get back out and get things on the right track. As for this past season, let me get into some more detail as it holds a pretty significant spot in my growth as a person.
To put it shortly, this past season was bad. As far as baseball goes, it was the most trying time in my short career. At times, I never wanted to pick up a baseball again, and thought about doing just that. People talk about “sophomore slumps”, mine was more like a sophomore bust. I came into the season feeling better than I ever have an expected huge things. I put in the work all offseason and was ready to go. The goals I had were lofty but no doubt were attainable after how hard I had worked to get better. God had other plans for me though, and while I didn’t like them at first, I realize now that He was looking out for me.
So we started out the season and I was pitching well and was having fun. I was doing what I expected myself to do and I was comfortable. I was comfortable on the baseball field and I was too comfortable in my spiritual life. We got deeper into the season and I had one bad start, then another, then another. My ERA climbed and I was getting SHELLED on the mound. Being the perfectionist I am, I expected to go out every start and not give up a hit. I think most pitchers feel that way. When something didn’t work in one start I would try something else. I changed so many things on the mound that by the end of the season I’m sure my coach didn’t know who he was running out on the mound to pitch when he called for me. I started working my way into the lineup to hit as well in an effort to help the team somehow. Then when it seemed like I was finally starting to get it together, I got hurt for the first time in my playing career. I rolled my ankle on the bag in practice and was out for a couple of weeks and that ended my season.
Pretty frustrating. I sat in my dorm room alone many nights trying to figure out what I could do. I talked to my coach countless times about what was wrong as we tried to get my play back on track. I prayed. And prayed. And prayed. I asked God for some kind of guidance on the situation. The answer came back pretty quickly. I needed to learn patience.
Once I was able to submit myself to God’s plan for me and realize that what He was doing in my life would serve me further than good stats or a lot of wins ever could, I felt some peace. It was never easy. Things that are good for us never are easy. But it worked out. By the end of the season I felt better. My spiritual life was further than it had ever been because I HAD to rely on God. What was going on in my life was too tough to deal with on my own and so I leaned on Him.
So that’s where I am at now. It wasn’t much fun. At some points I hated going to the baseball field. But in the end I came out so much better from the experience. I was humbled completely. And I grew completely. The person I am now compared to the person I was 5 or 6 months ago are completely different.
It feels good to write again. I’ve really intended to write more but just haven’t had time so I’m going to make up for it tonight. I’ll have maybe two more posts on the way so make sure you check them out. Thanks for reading!
While I’m at it, I wanted to put up an article I wrote last semester about Erik Kratz. After just getting out of FCA that had Erik as our speaker, it reminded me why I wrote the article in the first place. Erik is a stand up guy and a role model for a kid like me trying to achieve a dream. I told him I’d put it online so he could read it and have been slacking so here is my lengthy article titled “The House That Kratz Built”
The House that Kratz Built
As EMU’s most prolific baseball player shows up to the field on a sunny Saturday afternoon, the crowd on the hill immediately takes notice. Fans instantly perk up, the players rise to their feet wondering if it’s really him, the Alumni shake his hand. He stands in contrast to the current player’s on the opposite side of the field. The wide-eye 20 something year old kids stare at the current professional player who set the record book for EMU baseball. It’s Homecoming week at EMU and the baseball team is playing a game against former players. There’s no mistaking perhaps the most revered Alumni from the baseball team as he walks through the gate. Erik Kratz has returned.
Kratz’s journey began at EMU when he didn’t get much interest from other colleges out of high school. He attended Christopher Dock in Pennsylvania and was part of a Mennonite Church there. He received interest from a junior college near his home and was close to going there until a prayer one night changed his decision.
“The night before I was going to decide to go somewhere else, I prayed. I woke up the next morning and said hey, I’m going to go to EMU. The coach at EMU said I would get playing time right away and the coach at the junior college said I wasn’t good enough and I was used to playing so that went into it as well. I was also from a Mennonite school and that had ties with EMU,” said Kratz.
Rob Roeschley, EMU’s head coach at the time, had just graduated three catchers and needed someone to step into the role. Kratz was welcomed with open arms.
At the field where he honed his now developed skills, Kratz warms up before the game in the outfield with a former teammate as he shows off the arm strength that has helped him make his appearances in the Major Leagues. He gets loose and then jokes around with his alumni teammates before the game, all while commanding the eyes of the many spectators. The current EMU team stands around him as he gets into his crouch behind home plate while he warms up. Players nudge each other after each throw he makes as if to say, “did you see that?”.
For Kratz at EMU, he didn’t need much warm up though. He caught every pitch during his time at EMU.
“That was great.” Kratz says. “I came in at EMU and our other catcher was needed at other positions. By the time I got to senior year, I just decided, I haven’t missed [a game] yet, I don’t want to.”
During his sophomore year, that streak came into jeopardy.
“I had been playing floor football with my hall on a Saturday and we had just finished fall ball. I tore my PCL and at that point I thought that was it for baseball,” Erik said.
He came back healthy in the fall and was in for every inning that year, a testament to his work ethic.
His other most trying time? “Economics,” Kratz said.
As the game gets ready to start and the alumni lineup is announced, Kratz has his name called. It’s a big difference from the minor league stadiums that he is used to playing in but he is recieved with as much enthusiasm, though Kratz is quick to shy away from the spotlight.
“Erik is a very humble guy. He doesn’t like all the attention to be on him. He doesn’t expect any special treatment and he’s just out playing the game he loves” said current head coach and former teammate Jason Stuhlmiller.
As the game moves on, Kratz shows off most of the tools that got him where he is today. He throws out the two runners that try to steal on him by enough that when they head back to the dugout, their teammates laugh. He gets one hit and then shows off his power with another deep fly ball in the next at bat. These tools were on full display back when he was in an EMU uniform himself.
As a senior, Kratz was named the ODAC Player of the Year and an All-American. His mark on EMU’s record book was a flat out assault. He set school records for everything from games played, to home runs, to batting average. Up until this past year, he also held the NCAA record for career doubles.
His senior year was also the time period for one of his most rewarding and memorable days on the baseball field. Going into the last series of the season and needing to get two wins against Lynchburg, Kratz had a remarkable day. He homered in the first game to give his team the win. Then, going into the second game which was a must win, he hit another home run and accounted for both of the runs EMU scored in a 2-0 win to help them reach the tournament.
“I’ve had a couple very rewarding experiences on the baseball field. I was named MVP on ESPN and played in All-Star games but when I think first of what was the most memorable day, it has to be that day against Lynchburg,” said Kratz.
He set his sites on the MLB draft next. No other player from EMU had been drafted but Kratz was garnering the attention that had him hoping he would become the first.
“If I had been drafted after my junior year I would have signed. I could have gone to pro ball a year younger and always come back and gotten my education,” he said.
As Kratz sits behind the plate, he jokes with every player that comes up to the plate. It’s easy to tell that he is most at home on the baseball field. He talks in Spanish with the Hispanic players on the current team and asks other players if they’re nervous or having fun. As Jonathon Estrada yells out to Christian Rodriguez in Spanish to steal second base, Kratz calls back in perfect Spanish that it’s probably not a good idea. The players crack up in the dugout and everyone is having a good time just being around Erik.
The summer after his senior year Kratz waited for a call during the MLB draft.
“I was hoping to be drafted. I remember I was at EMU on the second day of the draft and went to my friend’s office and we were watching the live feed of the draft. They were calling out the player’s names so fast and I didn’t know if I would hear my name. Then in slow motion I heard them call out my name. It was awesome. It made me feel like all of my work had been worth it,” said Erik.
On this day, there are no drafts to worry about. The grind of a full season is behind him. The most pressure he faces comes from a curveball that nearly hits him in the head. His professional season is over and now he’s just enjoying a day at the park. He’s enjoying a day back on the field where he forged his legacy. It’s not another day at the office, Erik Kratz is back home.
“It was awesome being back for the Alumni game. You spend all season playing on these fields at a higher level and then come back and it’s like, ‘I played here?’. It wasn’t that long ago but it seems like it. It was a blast,” said Kratz.
As the day wraps up and the game comes to an end, the score doesn’t matter. Both teams are joking and sharing laughs and it’s an experience that most of the current EMU team will remember. The simple fact that Erik is at the game meant quite a bit to the people involved in the game.
“It was a great experience to see a professional athlete come back to his roots where it all started and share his experience, knowledge, and an overall love for the game,” said Sophomore baseball player Ryan McAlister.
The players from both teams gather together behind home plate after they finish up. They have a word of prayer and then most are on their way out. Not Erik. It seems like every player, fan, and coach wants to have a word with him. The players get to him first, shaking his hand and thanking him. Then the coaches. Finally, as Erik tries to leave the field, the fans, his fans, come up to him. They ask for pictures or autographs or just a chance to talk to him. He obliges, taking time to talk to everyone who approaches him. Yankee Stadium may have been called “The House that Ruth Built” because of the love and adoration Babe Ruth received from the fans and for the records he set there. EMU has “The House that Kratz Built.”
Hey everyone, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted on here. My last post wasn’t the happiest I know. I miss Uncle Kenny every day but I’ve got to tell you, everytime I step on the field, I know he’s watching. I can’t wait to go down to NC on February 11 and play for him. It’ll be a blast.
Tonight I wanted to talk about having fun. Because lately I have been having a hard time with it.
The thought came to me the other day when I was in bed and thinking about my high school days and playing for Poquoson and winning two state championships. I remembered all the fun times we had at the field and as a team. A lot of it had to do with the fact that we won. But it had even more to do with my attitude. I had so much fun out on the field in high school because I was just playing a game. I wasn’t playing for anything more or less then that. I was playing to have a good time. Same goes for back in little league when I was a Phillie. I’ve always been an extremely intense person on the field when it comes game time, but I’ve also been good at keeping things in perspective and realizing that I’m doing this to have fun.
That’s when I realized that I had lost complete sight of that. For the past year and a half I’ve put so much pressure on myself that I forgot why I play the game. I’ve been all about being a leader and being completely focused on becoming great that I haven’t had time to just enjoy the blessing of playing a game I love. It’s like I haven’t been satisfied. I’m not where I want to be right now and it’s so frustrating that it has taken the fun away.
This led me even further to make the connection that this can happen in life. We can become so intent on our goals that we forget to have fun. After all, life is a blessing. It’s not meant to be pushed through full steam ahead. It’s meant to be an experience and a joy. And I’ve lost sight of that too. I’ve gotten to points where things didn’t go my way and I was trying so hard to get out of that upset mode and fix things when I should have just relaxed and enjoyed the ride.
I’ve kinda talked about this before so I don’t want to repeat myself but I want to also point out that it’s different. From now on, it’s my intent to live life and play baseball happy. Baseball is a kid’s sport and that’s how I want to take it. It’s a game. It’s what I do, not who I am, and that’s where I’ve messed up. Life is a blessing. I want to have more fun in life and just relax. We have a tendency to rush around too much in the world we are living in.
So yeah, that’s about it. It’s been an awesome journey up to this point. It’s been a ton of fun to sit here and write this blog for a year and a half and it’s pretty funny to go back and read the things I wrote as a freshman. It will be even better to read a post like this next year as a junior and who knows where I will be in my journey by then. One thing I do know though, getting there is going to be more fun.
The post to follow will be a sad one. It’ll be typed through tears but hopefully by the end of it, a message will come through. Please read the entire thing, it will probably be pretty lengthy but hang with me.
Christmas time is said to be the happiest time of the year but recently that hasn’t been so for me and my family. A couple years ago, my great uncle passed away on Christmas day unexpectedly. I had seen him the night before and talked to him and he was great and then the call came the next morning that he had left us. That definitely shook my world up. A much worse call came this Christmas.
Kenny Ward has been in my life for as long as I can remember. He is Uncle Kenny to me. As my dad’s best friend, Kenny was always around going fishing with us or teaching me how to shoot shuffleboard or just coming and seeing me and my sister for Christmas. His two daughers, Anna and Carrie would babysit me and Ashley and those three are as much a part of our family as anyone.
On Christmas morning my mom got a call from Carrie. Shortly after, Kenny left us. We were devestated.
Kenny was one of those guys who instantly lit up a room he was in and it was a privilege to know him. He was the type where when you first met him he made you feel like you had been friends your whole life. He was as friendly and personable as anyone I have ever met. Anna’s the exact same way.
Kenny was also one of my biggest fans. To him, I was “Bo”. That’s been my nickname to him since I was a little baby and that’s all I could say, a testament to how long he was in my life. When I was talking to Carrie today she kept calling me Bo and I couldn’t help but think how much she reminded me of him. Her and Anna have all the best parts of Kenny and there were lots of them. But Kenny kept up with everything I was doing and was at as many games as he could be at. It’s actually a pretty funny story, everytime Kenny showed up to a game I would get hurt and start crying in little league. I’d get hit by a pitch and cry or something would end up happening. He’d be waiting for me after the game and give me a hard time but he always did it with a smile on his face. Even up to the last time I saw him he was talking about how he was going to come up to EMU to see a game this year and how he heard I was heading out to California to play summer ball and how great that was. I was introduced to people today that I didn’t know and once they heard who I was all they could talk about was how much Kenny talked about me and playing ball. Talking to Carrie today, it sounds like he was still talking about it up to when he left us. She said he came in the house Christmas morning and was talking about how I’m playing in California and was talking about me playing ball. He’ll have the best seat at all my games now.
One thing I feel so thankful for is that I got to see Kenny. On Christmas Eve he was in town and I was able to go see him and talk to him a little. The last thing he said to me was that he would get my number and give me a call so he could come see me play this season.
Kenny, Anna, and Carrie are family to me. They always will be. I love each one of them unconditionally and I pray Anna and Carrie will get a chance to read this in time and I hope they feel it’s a fitting tribute to Kenny.
But this brings me to my message. I’ve seen these two unexpected things occur right after I had seen the person the day before. It’s unreal that you can see a person one day and lose them the next day. It’s reality though. God doesn’t wait for anyone. When it’s time to go then that’s it. Time’s up. I didn’t think that when I saw my great uncle or when I saw Kenny on Christmas Eve that they’d be taken from me the next day. How could anyone see that coming? But I want to make my point clear and it’s this; we need to know where we are going when it’s all done. We can’t sit around and wait and keep putting it off because there may not be a tomorrow. If you left this world tomorrow, do you know where you would be headed? Do you know that for sure? Do you know what it takes to get to where you want to go? If you can’t answer those questions, God isn’t going to wait for you to get them straight. You need to do that now because you don’t know when your time will be up. So that’s my point out of this blog. I want people to change something about themselves. I want people to cherish the time they have with loved ones, I mean really cherish it. I want people to let their loved ones know how much they mean to them before it’s too late. And I want people to search their hearts and know where they are going when it’s all over.
I want to thank you for the time it took for you to read this. It’s been a struggle typing this out through tears and a heavy heart and I hope this does Kenny the justice and tribute he deserves. I miss Uncle Kenny already. I miss being with Anna and Carrie right now and talking to them even though I just saw them. God’s looking after all of us though and he deserves all the praise in the world. Like my mom always says, “He has a plan for us much greater then anything we can imagine”. And I think I’ll add to that; even when it doesn’t seem that way.