Monday, April 7, 2014

Instant Replay

I'm not much of a baseball enthusiast and rarely follow the game on a local or national level. But this week Kirk and I began talking about a new policy in the MLB: the Instant Replay Expansion that went into effect for the 2014 season. Basically it's the ability for managers to have at least one chance per game to review a play and have a call changed (if the manager reviews a play and gets the call revoked- they have the opportunity to have another play reviewed- thus giving them up to 2 replay reviews per game). "The new system will give managers valuable recourse in potentially game-changing situations."  In one of the first games of the season a manager storms out of the dug-out ready to challenge the umpire, he throws his hat to the ground, stomps his feet, and raises his voice. Just as he's nearing the umpire he looks up towards the review box and notices that a technician on his team is giving him the "DON"T CHALLENGE this play" signal. He immediately knows that he is wrong and the call was fairly given. Sheepishly he walks back to the dug-out- probably a little embarrassed, but also grateful that he was stopped before he created a bigger scene and wasted his "Instant Replay". It's always a bit humbling being told you are wrong and knowing that it can be proved. 

Something that stands out to me with this new policy is the ability to be proven WRONG or RIGHT. It's an ability we don't always have on this earth life. We may feel that we are Right and others are WRONG- but do we really know for sure? As we were driving home late last night with our three children in the backseat- they began bickering with each other for their "fair share" of space on the seat. Mostly they were tired and ready for their own beds, but none of them were willing to make concessions or give up any of THEIR real estate they had staked claim to (I will admit that with growing children, three kids on one bench seat does seem a bit tight at times). I shared with them the new MLB policy and asked them to look at their individual reactions to the situation through the eyes of "instant replay". It was immediate that they were able to see things that they may have done which could prove them wrong. 

I believe that when death takes me, that I will have the opportunity to watch the instant replay of my life. The good, the bad, the ugly. Some parts I am eager to watch on the "Big Screen" and will be proud of many decisions that I have made. I also expect that there will parts of my life that I will cringe as I watch them unfold. As I pondered these thoughts, it occurred to me that I don't have to wait until death and endure possible "cringe-worthy" reactions to my own actions!  Through my relationship with God, I can watch an instant replay of my actions on a daily basis. I can then choose which parts are RIGHT, thus emphasizing those areas; and which parts are WRONG, thus working to eliminate and correct those areas.  Because of the atonement of Jesus Christ I can ask forgiveness and repent of my wrongdoings. 

As a parent I regularly ponder my responsibility to teach, to inspire, and to provide guidance, direction and example. And while I ponder my children ask the penetrating question: WHY? Like most parents I know we give guidance and direction because we have also experienced the same situations our children are now facing. It wasn't very long ago that I was the age of my daughter (ok, so it doesn't SEEM like that long ago), and was facing the dilemmas of being a student at Madison Jr. High just as she is now. The pressures of school work, combined with responsibilities at home and church, only to be buried under the intense awareness of social acceptance and friendships- often make growing up seem impossible. My Avery is handling herself with all the grace and confidence of any 13 year old girl! I can see myself in her on a daily basis- it's not only an "Instant Replay" but I often can see the outcome before it happens. It is during these times that I try to help her to be cautious of her actions and reactions as they will become part of her movie of life. She is a bright, and talented child (more so than I ever was)- and I see her being an influence for good for many. 

I think our children ask "WHY" for the same reason that I often ask my Heavenly Father "WHY". It's because I want assurance that what I am doing is right. Maybe like the manager that is rushing towards the umpire to challenge a call, we may glance up in the direction of somebody who knows FOR SURE the answer before we proceed.  If I will remember this, and remember to search, ponder, and pray before I make a fool of myself my "movie" will have more acts of love, kindness, and service, than it will of embarrassment, negativity, and foolish behavior. 


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Upper Valley Idol 2014

For the past 10 years Rexburg has hosted Upper Valley Idol. It's been a great event for the community and hundreds of local performers have competed for the title of UVI.  Avery has wanted to tryout for several years but there have always been conflicts with the dates. This year, about a week before the first audition she decided she would participate!

The day of the auditions was the first day that Kirk and I were leaving on our cruise so she went to the audition with my parents and some of her friends..... we didn't really know what the next few weeks would bring or we may have prepared sooner! Over 100 people (ages 12-18) came to the first audition. Avery was thrilled to make it into the first round as one of 22 people.

  She began immediately working with Elizabeth Bossard (BOSS) to get her song ready. The first week of the show she sang Orange Color Sky. She did an amazing job and we were so proud of her. The competition was tough, and like most competitions you just never know what's going to happen.  We were hoping that she would make it to the next round, but also fearful that she would.... Mitchell had a karate competition in Utah the next weekend and we had already planned the trip. Plus, she didn't have another song ready :). I guess the judges and the audience (25% of the judging was done by audience voting through donations) loved her as much as we did- and she was one of 14 chosen to continue to the next week.

Week One: Avery Performing Orange Color Sky:

The next week was full of song choices, school, end of the trimester, gymnastics, and everything else that we can fit in. She choose a song that she was already familiar with because she knew practice time was limited. Kirk and I left for Utah with Mitchell on Friday morning and left her in the very capable and supportive arms of my parents (Chris and Barbara Mann are pretty incredible parents/grandparents- who not only brought flowers and gifts to each performance, but stayed up making posters and writing notes of encouragement). Wyatt also wanted to stay home and support Avery- I've rarely seen a brother who is so fiercely loyal to a sister; listen to the video and you can hear him cheering and hollering for Avery.  The second week she sang "Who Says" (Selena Gomez)- and looked so darling on stage. She hasn't really had any experience performing on stage- she once did a talent show for the ward Christmas party, and this was only her second time; but she was a natural.

Week Two: Avery Performing "Who Says"

At this point in the competition, we knew only six would be advancing into the finals. I was on the phone with my mom as they were announcing the winners and it was fun to be a part of it even though I wasn't there. We were so excited for her, and she could hardly get to sleep that night.
The Final Six

For the next week she had to choose two different songs. It took several days to decide what to sing and it wasn't until Tuesday and Wednesday that she started to learn them. She has also been on the Jr. High dance team and had dance recitals and final performances that week. Needless to say, she was exhausted and stretched. Each day she would go to Elizabeth's house to practice. Boss has been a fixture in the community with music for decades and we are so blessed to have her as part of our lives- FYI: I've known Boss since I was young, and over the past decade have become best friends with her daughter Angela. After singing Avery would run to dance or gymnastics, go to Young Women's activities, work on homework, and eventually get to bed. We kept reminding ourselves to help her prepare earlier for things like this so we aren't so ragged by the end of the week.
Avery and Boss

On the day of the Finals she woke up a little sick and was stressed about performing. She was the youngest one in the group (by about three years), and was getting anxious. But, in typical Avery style she stepped up to the plate and did an amazing job. The judges were so kind to her and gave her great encouragement and suggestions to improve her performances. As a mother I couldn't believe the talent that this child of mine possesses.  I suppose all moms have a difficult time expressing how their hearts skip a beat when they watch their children shine, but it was a feeling of pride and joy.

Week Three (FINALS) First Song: Mean- Taylor Swift:
 Last Song of the Competition: Gimme Gimme from Thoroughly Modern Millie

Avery didn't win but she says she wants to  do Upper Valley Idol again. I gave Avery the same advice I was given by my dad in 8th grade the first time before I went before a panel of judges: "Win or Lose, Don't let your self-worth be determined by a panel of judges."