Joni B

The very idea.

God — playing baseball???


We had an exciting night last night! JB loves baseball, but it is not his sport. To be honest, he stinks at it! I won’t tell him that, but it is painful to watch. I tried to talk him out of playing this season because the league he’s moved up to is merciless. He begged to play.

It’s not the kids that are so bad, but the parents and coaches. It’s like every game is a championship game and every kid’s major league career is riding on this season. I feel sorry for the kids. Anyway, JB goes through the original “have to bat them” line up and then he never swings again. Last night, we were playing the number one team in the league. The first time we played them, they handed our hat to us.

The second time, we beat them — the only time they have ever lost. Now comes our final game with them and they were out for revenge. Their fan side was as obnoxious as any I have ever seen. The score is 3-3 and we are in the top of the last inning. We have runners on second and third. The batter strikes out, but our best two batters are on deck.

Suddenly, the coach says, “I want to pinch hit.” He then yells, “Send me JB!” The other coach says, “Huh?” “Send me Shankentein!” There was a collective gasp among the crowd on both sides. I started praying and feeling sick to my stomach. Strike one. Ball one. Ball two. Smack!

He smacked that ball all the way down the third baseline! JB was safe at second and the runner came home. The next batter struck out and the last one was out on a pop fly. We held them in the bottom. In the end, JB (the kid who has struggled all season) had hit the game winning ball. It was the stuff that ABC After School Specials are made of!

Wes, his coach, told me later that he didn’t know why he put JB in. He said, “I just had a feeling and I couldn’t shake it.” I said, “Well Wes, I think this only proves that the Holy Spirit plays baseball, too!” I really think God showed up last night. JB REALLY needed that and there is no logical reason to have pinched hit him. That’s crazy.

Just as crazy has sending David to fight Goliath. At the final strike, Wes picked JB up carrying him around the field announcing this was the MVP. They made a huge deal over him and gave him the game ball. In the midst of all the parent ugliness, the spirit of kid baseball shone bright. JB fell asleep with a smile on his face! (His mama did too!)

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A Call To Holiness


Most anyone who reads my blog will know who Steven Curtis Chapman is and know the recent tragedy their family faced.  For those who don’t know, their 5 year old daughter ran out in front of their son’s car as he was coming up the driveway and danced her way into Heaven.  I watched the Chapman family on Good Morning America this morning.  Mary Beth Chapman said something that has stuck with me throughout the day.  She said something to the effect of “I don’t care who is touched by this story.  I just want Maria back.”  I was glad to hear her say that because it means she’s real.  I would have expected her (because I think they are so much “holier” than I) to have the attitude of “think how many could come to know Jesus through this.”  But she cries a mother’s tears.  I would have the same attitude.  I wish you’d get saved, but why did my baby have to die for it?  I want my baby back.  Why didn’t you listen before?  Why does it take my pain, my loss?  Why did Maria have to die to open your eyes to the truth?  It’s your rebelliousness, not mine!  I want my baby back.

I’ve been a Christian as long as I can remember.  I’m so glad  there has never been a time that I have not known the Lord.  Sometimes the normality of it all causes me to be  ungrateful for it all.  Through Mary Beth’s tears, I heard God say, “Why did my baby have to die?”  Why couldn’t I just follow the law?  Why did I have to kill Jesus to be made righteous?  It’s my sin.  Why did Jesus have to pay for it?  God, being so much greater than we mothers, didn’t say I don’t care who gets saved.  He made it happen because He does more than care for us — He loves us.

Thank you, Mary Beth, for being real and sharing your heart.  It brought me to my knees in thankfulness to the One who willing gave His baby’s life for mine.  “Your Father loves you” Mary Beth.

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Who Will You Serve?


After the boys said their night time prayers, JB looked at me and said, “Mama I will always love God and serve God.” Caleb, 3 at the time, said “I’m not gonna serve God.” “You’re not? Caleb, everybody serves something or somebody whether they think they do or not. Who are you going to serve?” “I’m gonna serve myself.” Yet again, my children have wrapped up the whole Spiritual truths. We either serve God or we serve ourselves through whatever pleasure we want. How many people have I watched be devoured by their sin and then say, “Why does God let me suffer?” “Why has God done this to me?” We really are stupid people sometimes.

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I don’t know, Caleb!


One uneventful night, my family was sitting around the dinner table. My middle son, Caleb, put his fork down, looked at me with quizzical eyes and said, “Mama. Why did God give me nipples? I know there has to be a reason!” Caleb has an engineering mindset and has to know how and why everything works. I didn’t know whether to put on my prim and proper hat and lecture him on rude talk or fall out laughing like the rest of my family was doing. When the milk came out of my oldest son’s nose, my question was answered and I was choosing to laugh! JB, who was 10 at the time, answered Caleb’s question in the true medical reason. Caleb (now frustrated) replies, “I’m not going to be feeding any babies! Why did God give ME nipples? I know there has to be a reason!” My boys pondered this for a while. JB finally came up with a solution. “Caleb, I think it’s so that we can be attractive on the beach.” Caleb who thought that girls were the nastiest creatures God put on the face of the planet said, “That’s not it. I believe it’s so we can count by two’s.”

I don’t know why Caleb thinks of these things or from where that thought even came! I did realize that Caleb already had a firm foundation in the Lord. Did you hear what he said? He had a question about why God did something, but at age seven he already knew that God had a reason for it. I don’t know why God does some of the things He does. I don’t know why God allows some of the things He allows. He has a reason for it. A prayer that I seem to be praying more and more is, “I don’t understand, but I trust You.”

I don’t understand why children get fatal diseases. I don’t understand why God allows His people to be in tragedies. I don’t understand why one of the greatest father’s that I knew got Lou Gerhig’s Disease. I don’t know why we are allowed to struggle and hurt. I do know that God has a plan and a purpose for whatever we are going through. I know that He can take evil plans and use them for good. I don’t understand, but I trust Him.  And so does Caleb — PRAISE THE LORD!

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Outta The Mouth of Babes


Another December with another sick child which means another rushed and stressed Christmas.   Jon Garrett was so sick for more than a week.  He ran between 103 and 105 degree fever for eight days.  We spent many days in the doctor’s office and at the hospital having test after test.  They found nothing.   Antibiotics didn’t help and Motrin and Tylenol would not bring down the fever.  We had to fight to keep his fever down with constant cool packs, cold liquids, and cool baths.  I prayed for days and he never got any better.  Well, at least in the time frame that “I” wanted.

We have had the worst autumn, financially, that we have ever had.  Our customers don’t pay.  Day after day I would pray for a miracle in the mailbox.  Still nothing came.  I have bills piling up that I can’t pay.  I had to go in debt just to buy Christmas presents for my children.  Ron and I didn’t buy each other gifts.  I begged God to show me what to do.  I’ve applied for two jobs all the while praying for His will to be done.  I’ve been turned down on both.  Quite a strike on my pride.  I’ve never not gotten a job that I wanted.  I’ve stayed home with my boys because it was the right thing to do.  Am I now worthless in the job market because of that?

I’ve spent most of December feeling abandoned and feeling worthless.  Even close friends and family have not “picked me”.  It’s been like being the smallest one playing Red Rover all over again.  I feel like God has abandoned me.  He’s never not spoken to me.  He’s always been quick to save me.  I can’t stand this silence between us and I’m begging for His mercy.  You know, even forget mercy… I just want to know He hears me.

My favorite part of Christmas is the Advent devotions that our family does together every night.  I think maybe this year I was just going through the motions.  We went to Church for our Christmas Eve service.  It was quiet and we walked down to the alter to view the Living Nativity that the youth group was doing.  We admired the wise men, the shepherd, Joseph and Mary along with the little plastic Baby Jesus laying in the wooden feed trough.  To Jon Garrett, it was the real deal!  That wasn’t a baby doll… it was Jesus!  As it came time for Service to start, the kids left their posts and went to sit with their families.  In great distress, Jon Garrett said, “Oh no!  Mom!  Somebody left Baby Jesus behind!”  I smiled at first and then I wondered if it was me.  Have I been so caught up in fear and self pity that I am the one who left Jesus behind?  I spent a lot of time looking at that poor baby up there.  Jon Garrett was right.   He was on display for the whole church to look at, but He was alone.  Abandoned in his crib.  Where was I?  I was sitting comfortably in my pew.  When it came time for communion I found my self even more ashamed when the preacher reached down into the “crib” and pulled out the loaf of bread.

It’s the new year.  I hope I don’t leave Jesus behind.

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