Over the course of our parenting and pastoring career, we have watched countless practices and games of soccer, t-ball, Little League baseball, more basketball than I can even count, and even some football. Yesterday we had our very first taste of cheerleading. I’m not sure if you can count it as a sport at Cailyn’s level, but they did have a full-blown practice. When we first arrived, though, Cailyn was acting a bit shy. She didn’t really want to join the other girls. So we, being the awesome grandparents that we are, walked with her over to the noisy gathering. I heard her name being called at check-in, so I answered for her. Now we were in this for the long haul. The first order of business was “our little warmup jog.” Ah, surely she would have no trouble with this one. The crowd disappeared around the corner of the building. And she didn’t move. They began the trot around the boys practicing football. Still she didn’t move. So my instincts kicked in. What else could I do? I started jogging and challenged her to just try and beat me. Hey, it always worked with the boys. And it took a stride or two, but the competitive juices finally kicked in. She took off way ahead of me. I really thought I would be able to ease off and walk back over to the building, but no. She kept looking over her shoulder to make sure I was chasing her. Great. All the way around the football practice field. At least I had shorts on. Shorts and Teva sandals. And as we rounded the final turn, one of the fire fighters who was there watching his son practice football “encouraged” us for the last segment. Thanks for the support, Jarod. Did we make it? Of course. Anything for the youngsters.
I figured after that breakthrough that Cailyn would be good to go. Not so much. They started their warmup exercise and stretching routine, and she again balked. Wonderful. I pulled out the last of my tricks and dared her, “I will if you will.” What was I thinking? She looked at me with a mirthful grin and said, “You will really do it, too?” I assured her I would and made a valiant attempt to get into stretching mode. She chuckled a bit, but was still a little reluctant. The pulling a leg up into your chest stretch got my attention. I told her that was one of the exercises we do in my water therapy class, so she jumped in. Guess she figured if all those old geezers can do it, then I can, too. She even eased her way over to the rest of the girls. She did keep an eye on me for a while, though, to make sure I was still doing my part. I followed along until the stretches got downright unreasonable. But by that time she was talking with the girls next to her and having a good time. Whew. Am I ever sore today. But if you want to hear a good cheer, I happen to know one. “Firecracker, firecracker, …”
Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.”
Father, thank you warm-ups and stretches and cheers and encouragement. Amen.