Friday, August 31, 2007

oh, the memories...

This weekend is a nostalgic weekend for me. Not because of the "holiday" Labor Day that we only recognize for the free day off of work, but because it reminds me of how I spent so many Labor Day weekends growing up. It was always known that the Liptak family would be in "Cincinnati" for Labor Day weekend. I write Cincinnati in quotation marks, because we called it that but were technically in Bright/Lawrenceburg, IN and Harrison, OH.

For at least 18 years, my dad played in a National Christian Softball Tournament hosted by Bright Christian Church. For days leading up to that weekend and during, my dad was giddier than a kid on Christmas morning. He loved going to Bright. Each year as we left, he'd reserve the hotel rooms for the next year. Months prior, he'd be putting together his team and practicing by playing city & church league games. About two weeks before, he began watching the Weather Channel and praying for no rain. And when the day came to leave, my sister and I would get a day out of school and we'd caravan to the Quality Inn in Harrison with several other families.

I remember so many things about this weekend as if it were foundational in my growing up. I can recall the smell of the early Ohio/Indiana mornings when we'd get up to walk to the Waffle House for a hearty breakfast before the 8 or 9:00 a.m. games. I remember when I was younger, all I cared about was playing in the dirt with the kids and getting treats from the concession stand. As I got older, I actually started watching the games and cheered on the team like a good daughter and fan should. The cooler of snacks and Gatorade, the bleachers at the complex, the smell of dirt and sweat, the jaunting yells of countless Christian wives losing their cool over bad calls from the ump, the excitement of a team who won...these are all images still etched in my mind.

It wasn't often that our team from good ol' Central Church of Christ in Streator did very well. In fact, many years I had to see my dad become disappointed after losing 2 games immediately in a double elimination tournament. As kids, we rejoiced, because this meant no more games and we could go to a waterpark or do something fun the next day. But I knew as we got older, it meant so much more to my dad and the guys playing. I can picture them, mostly all middle-aged men, sitting on their coolers after playing hard, worn out and dripping with sweat and disappointment evident in their faces. They made the best of it and still came back every year.

The best year, in my mind, was one when I was in college. My dad knew it was probably one of the last years he would play, because his back wasn't going to allow it for many more years to come. They ended up winning in their bracket after losing only their very first game, and it was one of the most exciting weekends we spent there. I still remember the team pictures with the trophy and, right after, I remember hearing my dad lead the team in a quick prayer to thank God for their victory. I have always remembered him praying that prayer. That's a memory I want to keep.

We have so many stories from Bright that we'll forever remember. One of the best stories involved how my dad and a lady named Nancy Galey met by accident...2 years in a row, Nancy went to throw a cup of water on the minister from Bright, and as someone ducked, she hit my dad. TWO YEARS IN A ROW! They remembered it the second year, and so she invited us out to her house for a Labor Day cookout. We went, and this began an endless tradition of spending time at their house and my dad and Nancy sneaking up on each other each year with a cup of water. The Galey family are now some of our closest friends.

It's amazing what memories one simple weekend can hold, and just this morning I breathed in the cool, crisp, end-of-summer-air and remembered...there's just a nostalgic feeling about Labor Day weekend. It's different this year, of course, because we won't be in Bright. I haven't been for a few years now, but my Mom and Dad went last year just to watch games and surprise the Galey family. My dad kept saying he wanted to go for "one last time," but no one really believed it would be. Somehow, he knew... But they had one of the best weekends with each other and friends.

While this is just one of the many "firsts" without my dad, and it's merely the first Labor Day weekend, it still brings back so many great memories of him and growing up. This year they chose to honor him somehow through the tournament, and we were so appreciative and grateful to hear it. I sent some words of thanks for them to share, and I pray that the teams playing this year would play with a heart like my dad' that will never give up. He always returned to that tournament, win or lose, for the love of the game.

I love remembering him that way, and I know this year is a win for him.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

random facts

I was tagged by Missy, so here are my 8 random facts / weird things about me:

1. I love to eat banana baby food.

2. I am terribly afraid of puking and haven't done it in like 15 years, so the slightest bit of nausea sends me into a panic.

3. As of late, I am addicted to the Grammar Girl podcast...I'm a nerd.

4. I secretly (or not-so-secretly) want to marry Matt Wertz. and then travel with him and sometimes sing b/g vocals.

5. I type words in my head and group words, sentences, and phrases into numbers of letters. I'm a freak.

6. I can eat massive amounts of popcorn...especially if it has parmesan cheese on it.

7. I give my opinion about stuff way too much and sometimes just need to hold back.

8. I want to live in Indy someday.

so now I have to tag 3 people apparently, so I tag Becka, Chantell, and Shannon.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

zephaniah 3

I've been pondering Zephaniah 3 for several days now, and I think I'm still working it out. It's one of those chapters that is just full of stuff to think about, so I just keep re-reading it over and over again every night. It just keeps reminding me of someone with bulimia. Except it's sort of a spiritual bulimia, and God is doing the purging.

Jerusalem is the one doing the binging. She keeps taking in more and more of the world, and her rebellion is taking over. "She obeys no one, she accepts no correction, she does not trust in the Lord, she does not draw near to her God." She reminds me of me sometimes. When I'm stuck in my own ways, I don't want to accept correction, and I don't want to believe that someone else's way may be better than my own. It reminds me of little kids who are stubborn and know they're in trouble. Instead of coming near to mommy or daddy, they go into hiding. The last thing they want is to see mommy or daddy and receive punishment. That's what Jerusalem was doing. She wanted nothing to do with her God. Neither did her leaders, who were expected to be held at a higher standard. They failed.

But the Lord wasn't giving up. Not on the righteous, and not on the unrighteous. He wasn't conquered. He wasn't finished. He was still among the people. Working. Moving. I love the strength in the words that say "He does no wrong" and "He does not fail." And those who lived in sin had no shame, because they didn't know anything different. But they didn't care. Aren't we like that sometimes? I sure am. And yet "morning by morning He dispenses His justice..." I find it funny that the NIV uses the word "dispenses" because it makes me think of a soap dispenser...maybe one that you can't turn off. Whether you need more soap or not, you're going to get it. You can take God's justice or you can let it fall on the floor. Either way, it's going to come out, and it's going to be messy. It's better just to accept it.

The chapter continues in verse 6 with how God "cuts off nations" and "pours out his wrath" upon them. They were a people who "were still eager to act corruptly." They weren't just acting corruptly on ignorance, they were EAGER to sin. They chose it. And because God is a jealous God, and His glory didn't seem to be enough to attract their attention and distract them from their selfish lives, He acted. He purged Jerusalem of her rebellious leaders and disobedient followers. "The whole world [was] consumed by the fire of [his] jealous anger." That is a really dark world.

So what about the few who were obedient?

It's a breath of fresh air...a sigh of know that YHWH set aside a remnant of people who wouldn't be cut off from Him. A people whose lips would be purified and whom would serve "shoulder to shoulder" in community. Verses 9 & 10 are like a preview of the Acts 2 church...not perfect, but purified. Not selfish, but serving. Not independently, but in unity. Near and far, people who were scattered around the world were allowed to bring offerings of worship. We were never meant to be alone, but we also weren't meant to be in only one place while here on earth.

So why did God choose these few? They were meek, they were humble, and they trusted in the name of the Lord. It's that simple. All because of those 3 things, the Lord set them apart. They had reason to sing and shout, because they, too, could have been punished with the rest of Jerusalem! But praise God, they had no reason to lose hope. Verse 17 is one of my favorite verses, partially because it reminds me of a peaceful song I learned my freshman year at LCC, but it says these words: "The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

And again, I ask, WHY? Why would He take delight in me? a sinner? Why would he want to rejoice over me with singing? It reminds me of a strong father and a little girl, and maybe that's why I love this verse so much. The words "he will quiet you with His love" make me think of a parent putting his or her little girl to sleep by singing to her in a soft whisper. I'm not sure if my mom or dad actually ever put me to sleep that way, but I know we sang silly songs a lot. Either way, it's a beautiful picture of peace...quiet...even if the little girl--Jerusalem, me, you--has been rebellious and disobedient all's covered over with love. Why? Because she was meek, humble, and trusted in her Father.

In the end, He restores. He acts in His justice. He rights wrongs. He removes evil, and He restores good. Verse 20 says "At that time, I will gather you. At that time, I will bring you home." It's good to know that even though the remnant may be scattered around the world, someday we'll be brought home. I love going home.

And I love the pictures that this chapter paints. It shows the extremes of God's characteristics...His wrath and His love. But both were deserved. I'm thankful that we serve a God who is jealous for our love and won't purge the world of every soul who ever sins and turns away. I'm glad He purifies and comforts and gives us time to trust Him, even when we mistakenly think the world has more to offer.

Friday, August 03, 2007


so i'm on my way out the door in about 5 minutes to meet Miss Abbie Cole and friends to head down to my BFF Amanda's house in Louisville for Abbie's bachelorette party. It's pretty much going to be a great time. And the fact that Abbie is getting married before Amanda and I makes us feel old, but she's all growed up now. It'll be fun to celebrate with her!

I visited CIY in Carbondale again last night for the last night of Robin Sigars being a director there. It is sad to me, because ever since I started going to CIY in 1996, Robin has been my director. I've had the privilege of working alongside him since then as I traveled for LCC several years and will miss seeing him every summer in Carbondale! However, I'm excited that his ministry is going to continue in Carterville, MO and can't wait to see how God uses him there to do big things!

As for now, I'm off to Kentucky, ya'll...