Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Anticipation

I still remember when I first learned the word "anticipate." I was in 5th grade playing on the "Skunks" basketball team. My dad was our coach so we were full-court pressing which most 5th grade girls do not do. But it was my dad and my group of friends were freakishly athletic at 11 years of age. I was in a spot where I was supposed to steal the passes from our opponents but I kept getting to the spots too late. I was reacting, not anticipating. My dad called a time out and told me I needed to "anticipate" where the ball was going to go. My sassy 11 year old self did not enjoy being corrected in front of her friends and shot back, "I don't even know what that means, Da-ad." (I always stretched out the vowel sound when I was mad at him)

He patiently explained that it meant that I needed to read the eyes and body language of the passer and think ahead to where she would want to pass it. I was stubborn and embarrassed and rolled my eyes at him but it was a lesson that made me the basketball player I became. My offense was never something to brag about but I prided myself on my defense. I wasn't that fast or strong but my dad taught me to think; he taught me to anticipate. And so I learned to think a step ahead of my opponents and beat them to spots and stole their passes all because I learned to anticipate.

This word "anticipate" has been on my mind a lot this Christmas season. Christmas as a child is sprinkled with magic and I miss that magic. I still love the season but I miss experiencing it as a child. And I think what I miss most is the anticipation. Twenty five days stacked on top of one another creating a tower of wonder and suspense. No wonder it was nearly impossible to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. Admittedly, this "glittered magic" of the season centered around Santa and presents, not Jesus. The world was still centered around me (at times it sadly still is) and sleep eluded me on the 24th because I was anticipating what I would open the next morning. I was anticipating all the toys and all the joys that would accompany them. And opening presents as a child was truly a magical experience. Just look at Heidi's expression of genuine joy as she discovered her new Barbie car:
Yes, I'm the one too busy with a sucker and watching Heidi to get to my own gift. And while we're on the topic of childhood Christmas magic, here are a few more gems I discovered in my parents' garage:
Yes, that is a legitimate mullet I was rocking at age two. Thanks for that, Mom. At least I had my front teeth..

The next one is one of my favorites though. Heidi and I were clearly still in our church dresses and clearly were not happy about it. I'm guessing this picture was followed by a "you better not pout" lecture that we often received during the Christmas season. Heidi went for her classic "mad dog" pose while I rebelled by simply shutting my eyes to ruin the picture. Good work 3 year old Katie. You showed them. I also love that I am way too old to be drinking from a bottle and Trent and Travis have no idea a picture is being taken. Aren't we the joyful bunch?
Twenty six years later, we still wear matching pjs and take pictures by the fireplace but Christmas has obviously changed drastically. Maybe it's because we're opening scarves and books instead of Barbie cars and Cabbage Patch dolls, but the magic of Christmas morning has sadly dissipated over the years. We may grab and grasp at the glittered remains of Christmas magic, but it will always inevitably slip through our clenched fists as we pass into adulthood and a world of "unmagical" realities. I think part of the magic disappears when we realize Santa isn't real. There is something truly magical, something wonderfully majestic about believing in the impossible; about having faith in something that seems too good to be true. And then when a bully or an older sibling or a careless neighbor shoves you into reality and forces your eyes open to the fact that a fat man delivering presents to the whole world in one night with flying reindeer actually IS impossible, the magic sadly, slowly drifts away.

I know, I know- Jesus is the reason for the season yada, yada, yada, but the Christmas morning magic was typically about Santa delivering surprise presents. There are few surprises on Christmas morning any more. We've learned to tell our Mom exactly what we want for Christmas or else we'll end up with karate lessons. We pretty much know exactly what we'll open. I mean, I was surprised to find a cat calendar in my stocking from my obnoxious brother but it was not the same kind of joyful surprise children experience. I realize Christmas isn't about Santa and the presents, but my point is that the magical man and his presents were a huge part of the magic and anticipation experienced as a child.

I still LOVE the Christmas season; I love being with my family and celebrating the reason I have hope and life. However, I had no struggle sleeping the night before and I would have slept till noon if Nike hadn't jumped on the bed to wake me. There is still wonder and joy on Christmas day, but less magic and anticipation. However, I was able to see the magic again through Vander and Huddy's eyes and it was glorious. Watching their eyes light up as they opened new basketballs or battling hamsters was my favorite part of Christmas morning this year. (Yes, battling hamsters, complete with hamster armor and a battle arena. Beyond bizarre.)
The magic is still there for them. The anticipation is still there. Heidi confided that she needs to find a new way to convince them to behave and go to sleep since they most likely won't care that, "Santa is watching and coming back in 11 months and 24 days."

It's funny how anticipation can change how we live. It helped change how my nephews behaved during the season. When I'm anticipating Christmas break, I teach differently; I teach with more joy and excitement and patience- because I know I'm about to get a break. When I'm anticipating a vacation, the same is true. The everyday annoyances of life aren't so annoying when I'm anticipating something great to come. This is why I always try to have something I'm looking forward to. Right now it's the prime rib dinner we're having tonight. Sometimes it's long weekends or vacations or visits with friends, sometimes it's just a good meal or a good book; regardless of the event, I am always anticipating something and I've found that this dulls the sharp corners of life. It rounds them out. I try to live in the present but also anticipate the joy around the corner when the present is dark and murky.

Last week, the sermon was about how we should live our entire lives in anticipation of the glory to come. We read Revelations 19 which is a glimpse of heaven as revealed to John. He mentions multitudes shouting praises, elders and creatures falling prostrate before the throne, and "peals of thunder" as everyone worshipped God. It's hard to picture. But then the pastor told a story of his wife hitting a buzzer beater shot to win a huge basketball game in college. I cried. Literally had tears streaming down my cheeks because I know what it sounds like to have a packed gym EXPLODE in excitement after a victory like that. I know the feeling of joy that WASHES over you in those moments when you can't hear your own voice amongst the thunderous victory cries. And to hear heaven described like that; to realize that God will elicit that type of praise and worship from us all filled me with such a joy that excitement physically leaked from my eyes.

We will experience the fullness of God in heaven. His glory is seen in the whole world but it is veiled. And one day, one glorious day, the veil will be lifted and we will experience the full glory of God.

12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."
1 Corinthians 13:12

The anticipation of this day should change how I live. But it doesn't always because I don't always think on it. But it is this anticipation that fills me with hope. And it is hope that gives me energy and perseverance. It is this hope that makes me joyful and patient and content even when my circumstances don't seem to warrant joy or patience or contentment.

So I'm trying to live each day as a child on Christmas Eve.

I'm looking forward to something much greater than a new pogo stick or playhouse and the anticipation makes me giddy. I'm trying to live in daily anticipation- anticipating the glory to come. I cannot do this by my own power. I have to daily ask God to help- to give me glimpses of His glory, to remind me daily of WHY I hope and WHAT I'm anticipating. And He answers. He sprinkles my life with much more magic than Santa ever could.

This Christmas I have realized how magical faith in God is. I've also realized that I can recapture some of the magic by anticipating what awaits me; not a new Popple or Pound Puppy or even a giant trampoline (which I NEVER received although I asked for one every single year for 12 years) No, I am awaiting something much greater than wrapped presents. I am waiting for His glorious presence (I couldn't resist the pun) in a magical place I can only dream about, a place that seems too good to be true. I don't believe in Santa any more but I believe in One much greater who fills me with more anticipation than Santa ever did.

Finally, no Christmas post is complete without one of the Hardeman family traditions. The following are our two favorite Christmas ornaments and the tradition is this- whoever enters the living room must examine the ornaments and answer the question: who looks more ridiculous? Please vote in the comments. I'll start.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Confessions

It's Christmas Eve. However, due to family having to work or visiting in-laws, today was Christmas in the Hardeman household. It was fabulous. But in light of the sweet baby Jesus' birthday, I have a few confessions to make concerning this Christmas season.

1) I gave gifts with ulterior motives. I love giving gifts but I especially love giving gifts that I will benefit from. Selfish? Maybe. Baby Jesus understands. Thus, both parents received books that I plan on reading and my nephews received Beauty and the Beast, my favorite Disney classic. (possibly because the heroine is a book nerd looking for adventure) I talked it up so much that Vander was pretty pumped to watch. But then somehow most of the movie was watched by me, my dad, and my brother-in-law.

2) Until 3 minutes ago, I thought the expression was "alterior motives."

3) I fell asleep in church. Three times. In my defense, I was up super late doing the traditional last minute wrapping session and stuffing stockings. Plus, the choir sang numerous very slow Christmas songs and there was a pretty lengthy prayer. The good thing about falling asleep in church though is that people assume you are super holy and must just be feeling the Spirit move...until you jerk back awake.

4) I polished off a bag of chocolate covered pretzels in church. My motives were pure here. I didn't want to fall asleep and I figured these would keep me awake. (I typically keep a book and snack in my purse at all times for emergencies such as these) I had to suck all the crunch out of the pretzels so the people around couldn't hear me chewing but I felt quite irreverent when I was sucking on one and then the pastor began to pray. It just felt wrong to be enjoying chocolaty goodness while we prayed so I stopped and was left with one very soggy pretzel. At least I stayed awake.

5) I discovered today that I cannot clap. I thought I could clap in church as long as I didn't try to sing at the same time. However, my sister-in-law informed me that she kept getting distracted by my clapping that was off beat. I am transforming into my mother.

6) I let the boys eat an exorbitant amount of chocolate so I could sit and rest. I love hide and seek. Truly love it. Especially playing with a 2 year old and 4 year old. My spots are genius. I hid under a towel in the bathroom and made them both scream when I jumped out. It was awesome. However, I can only play for so long. Huddy had been begging everyone to open his candy cane full of Hershey kisses but his mom said, "no." While hiding in the shower, Vander figured out how to open the forbidden fruit. I stumbled upon the two guilty boys splitting up the chocolates and was at a crossroads- do I tattle and confiscate the goods? Instead, I quietly slipped downstairs to enjoy a quick rest and watched The Christmas Story, feeling only slightly guilty. About five minutes later, Heidi found the boys with their cheeks stuffed with chocolate. I felt so guilty that I confessed to my rat of a brother who announced that I let it happen. I got him back by tickling his face with dental floss.

7) Speaking of The Christmas Story, I confess that today I'm mildly afraid of red-headed boys. I think this fear stemmed from that awful bully and his frightening laugh. Also, I'm pretty sure I was traumatized as a child when Ralphie gets his tongue frozen to the pole.

8) I cringe every time I drive home at night in December. Why? Because this is right across the street:
and I can't help but mock the tackiness. Those terrible neon lights light up my hallway.

9) I struggled shopping this year. I'm not sure if struggled is the right word but let's just say that strangers laughed at me, honked horns at me, and raised eye brows at me. I was so swamped with basketball that I didn't even start to shop until the 22nd and did it all in about 24 hours. It wasn't my smoothest of days.

First, I tried to shop in a new area and got terribly turned around and couldn't find the parking structure where I had parked. After a sweet, elderly Indian man twisted my arm and convinced me to buy a freshly baked cookie, (he just asked if I wanted one) I said, "Oh, alright...and by the way, do you know if there is a parking structure around here?" As I made my way to the structure, I passed a WalMart and decided to pick up some wrapping paper. But now I had a warm cookie waiting in my purse and I couldn't let it get cold. Another landmark decision needed to be made. Do I buy wrapping paper later and rush to the car where I can privately take out my Invisalign? You see, when I take out the trays, it is just plain nasty. Saliva strings cling to the trays and there is definite slurping involved. It should never be done in public. But the cookie was getting colder by the second and I looked around and saw the typical WalMart crowd and thought, "I'll fit right in. Surely there'll be no judgment at a WalMart." So I pulled those suckers out and slurped....and definitely got some disapproving and disgusted looks. It's bad when the WalMart crowd disapproves of you.

Next, I headed to a different center and didn't notice that I was driving on the wrong side of the road in the parking lot. I got honked at. And not a friendly, "beep, beep, look out" honk. He/She laid on the horn in a loud and unnecessarily long, "I'm pissed at you, you incompetent fool" honk. I laughed it off but I may have blushed. "Focus, Katie. Come on." I actually said those words aloud.

Later that day I decided to brave Target but wanted to avoid the crowded streets so I did what anyone would do. I rode my bike. However, I didn't realize until it was too late that I had two flat tires. (I clearly wasn't Miss Observant on this day) Also, I had to buy some bulky items. By the time I left the store, it had gotten dark and I had a giant thing of kitty litter in my basket, my purse on one arm and bags filled with toys on the handle bars. I wanted to avoid a potentially awkward moment passing pedestrians so I was in the street when the baby doll started to slip. I swerved and the kitty litter threw off my balance and I came very close to falling. Cars swerved. Cars honked. Strangers shook their heads at me again.

After wrapping and wrapping and wrapping, it was 2 in the morning and I realized I still needed some things from Toys R Us. Heidi had told me it was open 24 hours and I thought, "I am actually quite curious to see who shops at 2 AM." So I went. Not surprisingly, I discovered the typical, seedy WalMart crowd plus lots of bored cops and I actually had to wait in lines to check out.

I think I might shop on-line next year.

10) I plan on stealing tomorrow. Actually, we don't call it stealing. It's "hopping" and it's a bit of a family tradition. Since my mom will be at the hospital saving lives and Trent will be keeping the streets safe, and everyone else will be with other family, my dad and I will be enjoying Voyage of the Dawn Treader, then The Fighter, then True Grit. Not the typical way to celebrate the coming of our Savior but a party nonetheless.

If you're interested in seeing pictures Heidi took of the Hardeman Christmas day, click here and no, I don't know why I made the pirate expression when Trent and I were flexing.

Hope you're having a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Card Schmorgasboard

Our fridge is currently covered in Christmas cards. It's a schmorgasboard of smiling faces; of friends and family with arms around spouses, standing in front of new houses, or holding laughing babies. It's a schmorgasboard of joy. And it makes me smile.

On my weak days though, on my "Katie deserves a pity party" days, it makes me sad. When I close my eyes and ears to the blessings enveloping me, when I fall prey to the enemy's schemes, and when I forget about the wonderful and unique adventure God has me on, it makes me sad. Because yes, there's no denying it, I would love to be married. I would love to be on a Christmas card standing beside a man who looks very much in love (who is taller than me, adventurous, goofy, and can beat me in basketball- even if everyone says I need to lower that standard) and maybe I'd even be holding a bundle of joy in my arms. And a dog. We'd definitely have a dog. That Christmas card seems implausible at times but that's where hope and faith come in. I am sitting, no living, no dancing in hopeful expectation for that Christmas card and I am confident that I will be in it one day. But for now, for today, my journey looks very different; my "Christmas card picture" looks very different.

One of the perks of being single is that I don't actually have to send out Christmas cards. I'm not sure exactly why this unwritten rule is in place, but it is. My guess is that it will always be in place because single men would NEVER or could never send out their own cards and single women will always feel self-conscious announcing to fridges across the nation that they are still single. My friend Lesley wrote a very funny post about the stress involved with sending out Christmas cards and it made me thankful I don't have to do this...yet. However, I did seriously consider sending one out. I was going to have my sister take a professional picture of me holding Dotty. I would be wearing a Harry Potter sweatshirt. Only my close friends and some family would know for sure that it was a joke and everyone who visited their homes would probably wonder who the pathetic single gal with the cat was. I ran out of time since it is busy basketball season but I wish I had- I feel like it would send the message that, "Yes, I am still single but my life is still wonderful. It's just different."

Compared to almost all of my friends, I am in a very different stage of life; on a very different journey but I love it. Seriously, love it. I couldn't always say that but I can today. I am thrilled for my friends and family and the lives they are leading but I wouldn't exchange my journey for any of theirs. I love how God's plans are so unique for each of us and I love the one He has for me- even if it does look drastically different from all my friends'- possibly BECAUSE it is so drastically different.

Because I am not yet married, I get to have an intimacy with my Savior that I don't think I would have if my heart was divided. My whole heart belongs to just Him right now.

Because I am not yet married, I get to pour myself into my nephews. I get to have continual "epic battles", play hours and hours of hide n seek, and snuggle up to watch "tooners" all the time because most of my free time is spent with these precious, hilarious, glorious little boys.

Because I am not yet married, I get to pour myself into my students. I get to plan white elephant Christmas parties for my freshmen Bible study girls and teach them how to pray and treat others and seek God with their whole hearts.
Because I am not yet married, I get to be mom to 11 beautiful high school girls. We had a Christmas/slumber party at my house the other night and I may have had just as much fun as they did. If I didn't send out the cat Christmas card, I might've sent one like this:
because these are the people I take care of. These are the people that I see the most right now. And I love these people. I love that I am in charge of them and can tell them when they are slandering others and need to stop. I love buying gifts for them and preparing food for them and praying with them and for them, showing them that they are special, and showing them how to have fun at a slumber party. They're all friends and high schoolers so I know they can have fun without all my activities but I am a slumber party expert so yes, I forced them to have fun "my way." So I forced them to decorate cookies:
and I forced them to play games instead of sitting around talking about classmates. And it was hilarious because they discovered that Kari thought "Snookie" was just a term of endearment and described Tina Turner as "that really funny black girl in 'Miss Congeniality.'"

And maybe this wasn't my wisest decision as the "chaperon" but I made them play a game in Target too. I had forgotten a few things I needed to buy there so we made it an adventure and they had to pick out an outfit for one other person. Our goal was to just not get kicked out of Target.
They failed.

But sometimes getting yelled at by Target security makes for a great memory. (I know, not my finest moment as a "responsible chaperon.")

No slumber party is complete without a t-peeing adventure and my girls made me proud. They were shockingly silent and I'd be lying if I didn't admit to shedding a tear watching them work together as I sat in the get-away car.
I would not know what to do if I had a baby right now. I would not know how to be a mom to him/her. But I am comfortable being a mom to a 16 year old girl. In fact, I felt very much like my own mom when I turned out the lights and gave them 15 minutes to chat and then woke them up in the morning singing, "Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!"

My life is full. My God is good.

So though I still am waiting for that Christmas card with the hubby and the baby and the dog, for now I will take my girls toilet-papering and tickle my nephews and not worry about sending out Christmas cards.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Coaching Confessions

As the daughter of a basketball coach, I was raised in a gym. I am at home in a gym. I am alive in a gym. I love this place. I love the sounds heard only in here. I love the cacophony of squeaking sneakers, the screech of skin sliding across the wood floor, the grunts and wails as bodies collide, the thundering stampeding of footsteps, the bounce of the ball, the hoots and hollers from the crowd, the sweet swish of the net, the loud blast of the buzzer, and the piercing shrieks of referee whistles and of angry coaches. I love it all.

And it's a good thing I love it so much since I've spent 36 hours this past week in the gym. Between practices, shoot-arounds, walk-throughs, scouting, and playing in the tournament we are hosting, I've spent more time in the gym more than I have in my bed. But I'm not complaining. I love it here. Sure, I may refer to it as my "hell week" and I may have bags under my eyes, but I'm doing what I love in a place I love. However, I do have some confessions.

Coaching Confessions Part 1
(because I'm sure there will be many more throughout the season)

1) I was late to practice. This will come as no surprise to my colleagues since I'm often ducking into meetings 10 minutes late, but I'm never late to practice. I was annoyed and confused when I walked in the gym and the lights were still off and the girls weren't warming up. However, they were making me very proud. Here's what they were up to:

Youtube clip they posted. The lil punks.

2) I continued the scaring war. I usually stay after practice to rebound for our shooter and have hidden in different spots in the locker room to scare her when she comes out. It's such a satisfying feeling to watch her jump, scream and nearly fall to the floor. However, the other day I planned an elaborate scare that went awry. I hid outside and waited behind the door she typically exits from. I waited for 10 minutes. The suspense built as I twiddled my thumbs waiting. I was going to get her good. But then she came out the other door and saw me standing and waiting like a fool. I felt very silly. And then I lied and told her I had only been waiting for 3 minutes. I couldn't let her know just how pathetic I actually am.

3) I have yelled at girls with a lisp. The orthodontist said I'd have a lisp for a day or two as I adjusted to Invisalign. It's been a month. Truth be told, I rather like my lisp. I think it adds character. But students giggle as I read aloud and my players tease me mercilessly when I'm yelling at them and they hear the lisp. Even I had to stop and laugh when I was yelling at Kristen but accidentally called her Christian.

4) I have a dirty mouth. It's not what you think. I'm not one of those coaches that swears at her players. However, I've found no adequate substitute for the phrase "half ass." And that is often how they play. But "half butt" makes no sense and I've tried screaming, "You're playing lackadaisically!" but it truly does not have the same effect. I once yelled, "You're playing half....as hard as you should be." They knew I was trying not to say "ass" and they laughed at me. But I was most disappointed in myself last night. It was a super intense game against a rival school and one of our best players fouled out. And I said shit. Not super loud but loud enough for my parents to hear who were sitting a few rows up from me. Loud enough for my Athletic Director to hear who was sitting right behind me. Loud enough for me to feel ashamed. I coach girls who aren't allowed to say "pissed" or "crap" and who say I'm a bad influence on them since I often use the phrase, "don't crap your pants." So you can see why I'd feel so awful about saying "shit" in front of them AND their parents. However, when I asked my parents if they heard, my own mom, whom I was most concerned about since she cringes when I say "butt", offered me grace and said, "We're all human." I think she just felt bad that we lost:)

5) I am a bit of a yeller and can be a bit obnoxious about it. This is what usually scares people who know me only as teacher, friend, or family member and have never seen me coach. The yelling scares some people. I see it in their eyes. I see shock and horror and genuine fear. It makes me feel rather beastly. My own nephew cowered in fear last year when he sat behind our bench. My roommate was shocked and probably a little scared to get on my bad side. My British friend, Tom, visited last year and admitted after the game that he was a bit "terrified" of me. Terrified. If you've seen my dad or my high school coach in action, you'd think I'm tame. I don't throw chairs, veins rarely bulge from my neck and forehead, but I do raise my voice... just a little. I didn't realize just how obnoxious I am until we watched game tape and my own voice made my ears bleed. It's a necessity though. It makes my girls play harder and smarter. When I missed the first part of a game because I was coming from a wedding and was stuck in traffic, the girls played "half ass." One girl even said, "Coach, I needed you here to yell at me. I was playing like a freshman." I feel bad sometimes though and last night at half time I explained that I love them and am only yelling to make them go harder. I know- it's a weird way to express my love to scream, "Catch the freakin ball!" But nevertheless, it is an expression of my love.

6) I occasionally sass the refs. I've never gotten a T, wait- maybe I did my first year but I'm sure I didn't deserve it. However, I've often been told to sit and remain in my "coaching box" since I tend to pace like a caged animal. And sometimes I sass the refs. While my girls can always hear me screaming directions to them, the refs often don't hear me requesting a timeout even though I'm literally SCREAMING, "Time out!!!" This happened last week. I must have screamed it about 12 times. No exaggeration. When he finally called it, he came over and said, "I had to wait till your team had possession of the ball to call the timeout." My humble, Christlike response?

"We had possession when I called timeout the first 5 times. That's why the entire gym is laughing at you right now." And I whipped my hair around and turned back to the huddle of now-giggling girls.

Truthfully, the crowd was laughing at me and my hysterical screams, but I didn't care. Coaching definitely brings out a different side of me.

7) I am not always very professional. My incredible shooter is getting recruited by some top schools so I get a lot of calls from college coaches. A few weeks ago, I was waiting for a call from a dear friend living in Spain. She called during my prep period, right as I was entering the Chick-fila drive through. I was so excited to talk to her that when I saw the unfamiliar number, I answered the phone in my best Mrs. Doubtfire voice and yelled, "Hell-ooooooooooo!!!!" Pause. "Um....is this coach Hardeman?"

My thought process: "Oh crap. This is definitely not Christy. How do I play this off?"

I cleared my voice and cringed as I said, "Yes? May I ask who is calling?"

"So and so from Harvard. I'm calling about Kari."

Harvard. It couldn't be some state school. Harvard called recruiting Kari and I sounded like a total buffoon. She was gracious and pretended like I hadn't made a fool of myself and went on a long spiel about why they were interested in Kari. Of course I had to interrupt her to say, "Can I get the number 5 with a lemonade?" Luckily, Kari doesn't want to go to Harvard.

I also showed my classy professionalism this week when I went to scout a game in my pjs. I was proud of myself for remembering the video camera which I had forgotten when I went to tape a game the week before. I was exhausted and it was rainy and I figured no one would recognize me. But then I walked in the gym and some coach definitely did recognize me because he said, "Hey Coach, how's your team doing?" What the? How on earth do you know I am a coach? I look like a homeless woman right now. In hindsight, I realized he must have known me from the "coaching world." Lesson learned- bring a video camera but don't look like a bum when scouting games.

8) I don't always know information I should about our team. So my players know our record better than I do- big whoop. I remember as a high school player reading the paper all the time to see my name and read about our team. I don't even get the paper now. (perhaps that's why I didn't know about the coal miners until they were released) My perspectives have changed since high school and I know how we played each night- I don't need to read the thoughts of some newspaper guy about my team. A player asked if I saw the new rankings in the paper and then laughed when I said I don't get the paper and didn't care about it. "Coach, I feel like I know more about our team than you do." Whatever kid, I know the important stuff. And when there is a really ridiculous picture of you in the paper, someone will tell me about it. And I'll find that picture have it made into a fridge magnet like I did with the one from last year where you look like you have cleft palate. I laugh at her every morning when I open the freezer to get my eggos.
9) My girls are a little too comfortable with me. You might doubt this after I've told you that I scream at them but they LOVE to try to make me awkward. One girl in particular has the ability of making me blush easily. She once picked me up after a game to show me how strong she was. She also likes to try to give me the "good game" butt tap on occasion just to irritate me. Last week was the worst. The coach of the host school was super chatty and happened to be a young guy. Every time I talked to him the girls would huddle and giggle. This particular girl even walked right up to us when we were talking and took a picture. Talk about awkward.

10) I can get a tad fired up when we play poorly. Just a tad. Yesterday I might have slammed some doors at half time. And I may have broken some heels from stomping my feet so hard. And okay, so maybe I punched a car after our loss. But I was walking in the pouring rain without an umbrella and they drove right in front of me slowly and they needed to know that it was very rude. And sure, a parent tried to hug me after the game and I denied her hug and said, "Not now." Really though- I am not a hugger and definitely do not feel like hugging after a loss.

However, it was hard to angry tonight even though we were playing terrible. I struggled to get angry because Hudson and Vander sat behind the bench. Huddy kept saying, "Katie, Katie, Katie" until I would smile at him. And then Vander kept trying to have a conversation with me.

Vander: "Katie- did you know I'm going to have a ninja turtle party?"

Me: "Very cool. Nia!!! Watch the weakside!!!"

Vander: "Shredder's coming to it."

Me: "No way. Box out Lianna!!!!"

These boys are great reminders that it is just a game. Yes, I will always be intense but I can always laugh off a loss when I see their smiling faces.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

HANDS

I've been thinking a lot about hands lately. Not just because I have giant man hands. (no joke- my high school coach said it was the first thing she noticed about me. Awesome) I've noticed that there is power in hands. There is meaning in hands. Messages are sent in hands. Assumptions are made based on hands. They have the power to destroy or create or utterly humiliate. I have been finding this to be true in many different circumstances.

I have seen the power of hands after each basketball game. My team probably talks more about the post-game hand-shaking line than any other team. This line offers so much potential for awkwardness and since I have such a love of awkward moments, this is beginning to rub off on my girls. I once dared a player to give the opposing coach a side hug rather than a high five and she did! I was so proud. Then in a recent game one of my girls dressed in street clothes and since she looks much older than her little 16 years, the other coaches assumed she was a coach and shook her hand rather than giving the traditional coach/player high five. She was ecstatic and I made her pretend to be a coach the next few games to see what others would do; they fell for it and we fell over laughing. Oh the little victories in life.

To further illustrate the awkward breeding ground that is the post-game hand-shake line, let me tell you about my dear friend Katie. She is a fellow coach and fellow lover of all that is awkward. She shook hands with the opposing coach and went to say the traditional "post game encouragement" line such as: "Hey, you've got a great team," and "Good luck to you this year", or "You guys are really good." What did Katie say? "You good guy." I love that. I wish I could have witnessed it. It reminds me of this Brian Regan clip.

In case you've never played a team sport, after the game each team yells the opposing team's name and then lines up and gives each other high fives and says, "good game." However, coaches don't high five each other. Those are reserved only for players. We shake hands. It sends a different message than merely slapping some skin and enables us to exchange a few additional pleasantries.

Most head coaches are older men and since I'm a young, often frazzled-looking girl, I try to prove my maturity by giving them an extra firm handshake. The problem I face, however, is this- I use a green white board marker to draw up plays and in the heat of the game, I never remember to use the eraser and just wipe the board clean with my hand. This leaves me with a green-stained hand by the end of the game, occasional green smudges on my face and clothes and leaves me feeling a bit self-conscious as I go to slap hands with the other team looking like Kermit the Frog. I fear my green hand sends the message, "I'm a bit of a hot mess," which, truth be told, isn't totally inaccurate according to my team.

I found a new power in hands last night as we shook hands with a team that beat us. They are better than us. No shame in losing. But then their assistant coach went and clenched my hand too soon, before I could get a grip. This annoyed me and sometimes I react like a 12 year-old so I got my revenge on the head coach. I grabbed the tips of his three fingers and clenched. I clenched hard. And then I shook those three fingers like it was totally normal but surely it must have been painful. "Sure, you beat us by 15 but how are your fingers feelin now, sucka?" Revenge sure can be sweet. (note: I never call people "sucka" in real life)

I've also found the power of hands whenever holding hands during prayer. The other day I was out to breakfast with a bunch of girls I didn't know very well. We went to bless the food and some girl more affectionate than I decided we should hold hands. So I linked up with the girl next to me whom I had never met. We did the "3 second dance" trying to figure out whose hand would go where and then successfully linked with only one little awkward chuckle. But then some girls got distracted. And then the waiter started bringing our food. And pretty soon just the two of us were left holding hands and I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to appear rude and release her hand and make her feel awkward. "Surely everyone else will relink in just a second," we both thought. But as seconds passed, it became more and more obvious that we were strangers holding hands for no reason. Neither of us wanted to cave. Neither of us wanted to acknowledge the awkwardness. But we finally looked at each other and laughed and released...only to link up 30 seconds later. I then gave her the squeeze at the end of the prayer.

I cannot help but do the "amen squeeze." I think it's encouraging and clarifies that, "yes, I see that the prayer is officially over and we can release hands now." It's a habit. But I don't squeeze men's hands. I fear it sends the wrong message. Girls, however, will always receive a squeeze from me, regardless if I know you or not. I thought nothing of this squeeze until my girls started fighting about who has to stand next to me at the end of practice when I pray for us. They've started squeezing back and squeezing hard. Oh the power of hands.

I found the power of hands when I watched this YouTube clip as I researched "slam poetry." Kim, my new blogging friend, introduced me to the poetry and I love it. She challenged me to write my own and though I'm certainly no poet and wrote something that probably doesn't fall under the genre of "slam poetry", the writing process was surprisingly therapeutic. I mention in my poem the image of me nestled in the Father's giant, cracked hands. See, hands have been on my mind.

I found the power of hands when I heard the song, "In Better Hands" by Natalie Grant. (warning: if you watch the video and you're a girl, have tissues ready. I was not prepared. ) Here are some of the lyrics:

There is hope when my faith runs out
Cause I'm in better hands now

It's like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down.
It's like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground.
So take this heart of mine, there's no doubt
I'm in better hands now.

I am strong, all because of you.
I stand in awe of every mountain that you move.
I am changed, yesterday is gone.
I am safe from this moment on.

There's no fear when the night comes 'round
Cause I'm in better hands now.
I also found the power of hands when I read Psalm 95:3-5 which says:

3 For the LORD is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
4 In his HAND are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his HANDS formed the dry land.

The creator of the universe holds the depths of the earth and the depths of my heart in His giant, all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful hands. Wow. No wonder the psalmist goes on to say:

6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
7 for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

Yes, being in His hands causes me to worship, causes me to rejoice and dance and sing and rest. Hands are certainly powerful. But HIS are the most.

Friday, December 10, 2010

10 Everyday Injuries

In our second game Kari might have set a new school record by making eleven 3 pointers. Eleven. That's unheard of. But sadly, I think I may have stolen her thunder. How you ask? Watch this video. I'm standing in the green yelling at Kristen to get in front of her man.
video

I kind of wish the video was clearer and I could figure out the slow motion feature, but I kind of don't. It's painful enough reliving this moment of sheer shame and humiliation. Have you ever had an entire gym laugh at you? I don't recommend it. I had experienced this as a player, but never as a coach. Here was my thought process in those 2 seconds after the ball nailed me in the face at 100 miles per hour:

"Oh no. Did others see that?"

"Why didn't I move my arms?"

"Did I just get whiplash?"

"That must have looked pretty hilarious." (that's when I bent my knees laughing)

"Maybe if I don't react, no one else will either." (so I kept my arms folded the entire time and looked at no one)

In the corner of my eye, I notice girls falling out of their chairs laughing. "Shoot. I think they noticed. I think thee entire gym is laughing at me."

"What should I do?"

"Should I sit down now?"

"My face has never felt this hot."

"So this is what blushing feels like."

"Continue to play it cool, Katie. And don't look up and show your red face."

Turn back to face the game hoping they will just pass the ball in and continue the game. But they don't. The refs were both laughing and asking me if I was okay. (this portion mercifully did not make the video.)

"I'm fine, stripes. Just pass the stupid ball in."

At the very end of the video you can still hear one of my girls laughing pretty hard. The next day I was met with lots of re-enactments and yells across the quad, "Coach! Is your face okay?"

It actually didn't hurt that badly because it just hit my cheek but it got me to thinking about little everyday injuries that I despise. Since it's the 10th, here is my list:

10 Everyday Injuries I Absolutely Abhor:

1. Getting hit in the head or face with a ball. The absolute worst is getting hit in the nose. Instant watery eyes and a pain unique only to "ball hits nose" situations. Not only must you deal with the intense stinging sensation in your face, you also have to endure the embarrassment of appearing weak and crying like a little pansy because you got hit in the face.

2. Stubbing a toe. I surprise even myself by what flies out of my mouth when I stub my toe. In this week alone, I've found myself saying, "Good Golly, Miss Molly", "Yowsers","Shnikees", "flippin flippity flip", "Jimmeney Cricket, "Holy Moly", and of course the classic, "ow ow ow ow" made famous by this lady. Who knew one little toe could cause so much pain?

3. Jamming a finger. I'm not sure why one can "stub" a toe but not a finger, but this "jamming" is not nearly as fun as it sounds. The instant swell is at least proof of injury whereas the toe stub leaves no proof so you just look silly for hoopin and hollerin and dancing around on one foot. Event though they do serve as proof of your pain, those fat fingers are pretty gnarly.

4. Hitting the funny bone. What ironic slang-maker thought up that name? I am not amused. Now, not only are you stifling tears as you explain you hit your funny bone, you have to hear the "it's not so funny, is it?" jokes.

5. Getting the wind knocked out. I couldn't tell you the last time I had this happen, until two days ago. I was scrimmaging against my team and right after I shot the ball, Kari punched me in the gut as part of her "box out." I doubled over and created a very awkward moment where I didn't talk for a good 60 seconds. My team didn't know what to do. If you've ever seen me seriously hurt, you've witnessed the "Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde" transformation. I'm not proud of it but when I get hurt, I become a bit of a beast. Kari later told me she was terrified for the next 15 minutes as I literally threw her to the ground at one point.

6. Falling and scraping hands, arms, and or knees on asphalt. I had forgotten how badly this hurts. When you're a kid, this happens all the time but somewhere between 5th grade and adulthood, you stop falling and forget about this stinging sensation. However, I was reminded of this pain a few years ago while playing one-on-one against Trent in the backyard. He shoved me to the ground and I scraped up my hands pretty badly. Okay, it didn't LOOK bad but it hurt like crazy. Of course, the transformation took place and I glared at Trent and yelled, "I can't feel my hands!" and stormed off the court.

7. Water up the nose. Another unpleasant stingy sensation. Another reason for me to storm off and yell at my family. I credit my dad for instilling a love for adventure in me from a young age. He used to force us to body surf rather large waves because he knew we'd have fun but we also typically were THRASHED by waves. I was okay with the thrashing and even the panic when I didn't know which way to swim to find the surface. However, if I got water up the nose, it was over. I can still see my stubborn, 10-year old self decked out in a cool one-piece with a giant hole cut out in the middle, storming out of the ocean, glaring at my father and growling, "I got water up the nose! Happy?"

8. Shampoo in the eyes. Like scraping my hands on asphalt, I sympathize with kids who get their hair washed and end up suffering from this ailment. The girl who does my hair once got distracted and accidentally let this happen. This created an incredibly awkward moment as I tried not to let her notice so she wouldn't feel bad but I couldn't stop squinting and my left eye kept watering. I lied about it and said I had an eye-lash in my eye. Ever since, I've learned to close my eyes while she washes my hair but I always wonder if this is what everyone does or if she thinks I'm odd.

9. Paper cuts. I'm a bit baffled by how such a lightweight weapon could do so much damage. Plus, you have to hide the pain because if you ever admit to someone that you're grimacing because of a paper cut, they are guaranteed to laugh in your face. I don't really understand why, though. These hurt. Can we please all agree to stop laughing and start sympathizing with paper cut victims?

10. Biting the tongue or inside of the cheek in the exact same spot twice. Why oh why does this always seem to happen? Once is bad but nothing to complain about. I have no sympathy for you if you say you bit your tongue. But if you say this was the second time you've bit that spot, I will grimace with you. That second bite will cause me to yelp in pain and frustration. And then I'll feel like an idiot because who gets hurt chewing food? I do. The girl who gets hit in the face with a basketball and tries to pretend like nobody saw.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Googling Freshmen

What did we do before google? Seriously. What were our options? I had an entire set of Encyclopedia Britannica's in my bedroom and although they came in handy when I was playing "school" and wanted to know how to identify poison ivy or press flowers for my magic potions, that bookshelf was only the tip of the iceberg when compared to google. Today, I google everything. I think most of us do. It's why "google it" became a well-known expression and "google" became a verb. I'm somewhat embarrassed of some of the questions I've typed into google. It's always been a fear that some computer hacking nerd will one day get his grimy little paws on my computer and figure out how to see everything I've googled. Words I should know how to spell, facts I should know, questions no one over the age of 13 should ever have to ask. That's what he'd find. (However, I don't feel so dumb when I type "how to" into google and discover lots of people are just as ignorant as I am.)

I won't tell you some of the more embarrassing "how to" google entries but I will tell you about one. "How to make popcorn." While living in Mozambique, Lisa and I were babysitting for our Swedish friends and both had only ever used microwave popcorn or those old-school popcorn machines. The kids asked for popcorn but all we found were popcorn kernels. We looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and headed to google. The popcorn turned out great and we thought our secret ignorance would stay between us. But then their dad, Par "the detective," searched the Internet history (possibly because he has a 13 year old son) and discovered our google search. Then he told his brother-in-law, my neighbor Henrik, who teased us mercilessly about it.

I share that story because I don't seem like the only guilty, naive party. Lisa was with me. And Lisa is one of the smartest people I know. Literally. She graduated from Princeton and is currently getting a double-masters from the Kennedy School and MIT at the same time. If you're like me, "the Kennedy School" doesn't impress because you've never heard of it. It's a graduate program at Harvard. See. She's super smart. However, she's also super silly. See picture from this summer:
Even super smart Lisa uses google. My inquisitive students sometimes ask bizarre questions like, "Is there a bird called a carrion crow?" and "What are the badlands?" and "Which author predicted we'd one day power everything with steam?" My answer is always, "Good question. Let's go google it."

I wonder, however, if google is making us smarter or stupider. Is stupider even in a word? No. It's not. I googled it. Google is certainly settling a lot of bets and filling us with fast information and don't get me wrong, I LOVE googling crap. But I fear it may be doing us a disservice as well. It's eliminating the fact-finding process. We don't have to search and seek for answers. Our fingers fly over the key board and as long as we've got a good connection, the answers magically appear in seconds.

I wish life was like that. But then again, I don't. Because there is something rewarding about the process of searching for answers.

I teach freshmen. I LOVE these kids. The world is full of hope and optimism and opportunity for them. There is no cynicism or jaded attitudes. They've been sheltered and don't even realize their ignorance. They are full of innocence and energy and curiosity. However, they are also full of farting jokes, giggles, and LOTS of stupid questions. Really stupid questions. Case in point: the homework is ALWAYS written on the homework board. I ALWAYS explain it at the beginning of class. But about 4 times a week, some eager beaver won't wait for the bell to ring to start class and will ask, "Miss Hardeman, do we have homework?"

If it's early and I didn't have breakfast, my tone isn't always sweet. These are my typical responses:

"I'm not answering that."

"You'll find out."

"Figure it out."

"Be a problem-solver."

Or I just pretend I didn't hear them. Like I pretended I didn't hear the poor boy who let loose a squeaker in class which vibrated on his chair. Those around him erupted into giggles but I kept my cool and kept reading aloud, all the while, dying inside. But I've mastered the art of pretending I didn't hear.

Sometimes when they ask me a dumb question, I'll try hard not to roll my eyes. But then I'll tell them to ask a friend or look at the board where I've written the answer. I'm doing them a disservice if I answer every question because they aren't thinking for themselves. I want them to be problem-solvers and this means I sometimes must refuse to answer them so they will grow.

I wonder if God doesn't see us in a similar fashion. We, like freshman, are silly, giggling humans, naive to so much around us. We can't even fathom all of our ignorance. And we ask lots of questions of God. Really stupid questions. Sometimes He answers, but often He doesn't right away. I don't think God rolls His eyes or pretends He didn't hear the question, but I wonder if His lack of response is actually Him saying, "you'll find out," or "figure it out." I wonder if it's because He wants us to search for the answers. I wonder if He just shakes His head at our silly questions and points to His word where the answers are clearly written. I wonder if He points us to others who know the answers already.

There is certainly more meaning in the answer if I've had to search for it. It is so much more rewarding to pose the question and then hunt for the answer and find it, even years later. And I find that I'm changed in the process. I'm becoming a "problem-solver."

In the past two years, I've have been writing down my questions when I read the Bible. And I have a lot of them. Sometimes the answer is simple and is clearly stated in the study section of my Bible. Sometimes I have to google the question but sometimes even google doesn't have the answer. So then I pray. Sometimes I've received the answer days later; sometimes it takes weeks or months or even years.

"God, why did you allow this?"

Years later the answers often are quite clear. "This happened so this could happen..." He knows our past and our futures and I trust that He allows trials and tribulations for reasons I sometimes cannot understand at the moment. I love looking back and seeing how He didn't answer me at the time and how because of His lack of response, I had to search.

And when I didn't find the answer right away, my faith grew. It grew in these times of questioning because "..faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1) I am sure that the hope I've placed in God and His promises will not be for naught. I am certain that He has the answers to my questions, even when He won't just give them to me.

Some answers I'm still waiting on. But I haven't forgotten the questions and I continue to seek. And although I'd often prefer God just spit the answers out, I'm glad He hasn't. I'm glad for the process.

Okay, one more confession but I will offer no explanation. My most recent google search was as follows: "how to dance at a club." Laugh it up people but it turned out to be a very popular search.

Now it's your turn. What is the last thing you googled? Or, if you really want to make my day, what's something you've googled that you should probably know already?