Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The Invitation

Like most coaches, I don't like interruptions. In my two previous coaching stops, our gyms were in separate buildings but at WCS, our practice site is right in the middle of everything. Announcements over the PA system, people walking through the facility, and even the boys practicing on the other side of the curtain are distractions we have to deal with. My team is back on the floor after a long layoff; thirty-five days between games. We've had two pretty good days of practice trying to shake off the over eating and sleeping associated with the holidays. And we were only three or four minutes into our 7:25 workout this morning when I blew the whistle and stopped our full court layup drill. This time, though, I wasn't irritated. Instead, I was ecstatic. I saw Isabel and her mom, Kristina, at the edge of the hardwood and it was obvious Isabel wanted to give me something so we took a water break. She ran to me with an envelope and big smile. (It's here that I should give some background to new readers. Kristina is a co-worker of mine and seven years ago, I preached her wedding to her husband, Doug. Last year, when Isabel was three and in our Pre-K program, she saw me before school one day, dressed in my coaching gear. Isabel got it in her mind that I was J.J. Watt, the Houston Texans' All-Pro defensive end and in the fifteen months since, nothing has shaken that belief. I have written two previous blogs about Isabel who is an absolute sweetheart AND the biggest J.J. Watt fan in Houston!)

Here's why Isabel came to see me today. She has a birthday coming up in several weeks and she wanted to invite J.J./me to her big celebration! There was a stamp on the envelope and I ignorantly asked if the image on the stamp was Elsa from Frozen. "No!," Isabel patiently corrected me. "It's Tinkerbell!" (Some day I'll learn not to ask dumb questions!) But the invitation was offered and received with jubilation. And we went back to practice but I had kind of a glow that lasted until the 3:25 bell. I've already decided what to get Isabel; a J.J. Watt commemorative glass just like the one my good friend Shirley gave me for Christmas. And yes, I will autograph it for her!

I like being invited to stuff. I don't always go but I still like it, especially the personal ones where it's face to face, even if you have to sit on your knees to get semi-eye level. Many times Jesus was invited to the homes of Bible characters; Matthew/Levi, Mary and Martha and Lazarus, Simon the Pharisee, etc. We are never told He turned down any invitation, including weddings and to the homes of those who opposed Him! You know, I will guess that at Isabel's party, there will be cake and cookies and glitter and at least one Star Wars related present for this charmer who is about to turn five. But Isabel is not the only invitation I have to consider. Jesus offered His own invitation and it is for anyone who will accept. In Matthew 11:28, He said,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." 
Who would possibly turn down the chance for eternal happiness with the Lord? Some will, sadly. Jesus taught we have to be like little children to enter that kingdom He promised. Fortunately, I have Isabel to show me how to act. Feliz cumpleaƱos, Isabel!

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