Each year we would wait with great anticipation for softball season to begin.  The twelve-year-old girls were at the age of great contradictions.  They would wear mascara and fix their hair in the perfect ponytail with uniform matching ribbon, only to leave the game with the ponytail hanging down their back and ribbon missing.  Getting the Alabama red clay out of my daughter’s white slide pants was an impossible task, and most of the girls walked around with pale orange stains the entire season.


Softball was a family event.  Siblings would work the concession stand, dads would coach and moms would keep order and cheer from the dugout and the bleachers.

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This particular year the competition was exceptionally fierce between teams.  When the opposing team was up to bat, our girls went from making noise to distract the batter, to saying unkind words to girls they would later walk the halls of school.


This was the perfect opportunity to teach good sportsmanship, and the art of surprise to keep the game fun and grow these beautiful young girls into women with integrity and Christ-like attitudes. During practice, we discussed the problem and ask them to come up with a creative alternative.


When game time arrived, you could see the plan being sent down dugout row.  Each girl leaned to the next whispering vital information as the opposing team’s best hitter came up to bat.


Dust rose as the batter stationed her feet, then raising her bat into the air prepared to send the ball to the fence. The parents all grew quiet as we waited to see how our girls would respond.


With the nod of one head, all the girls in the dugout leaped from the bench, climbed the fence separating them from the field, and at the top of their lungs began to see the Barney song.



I love you,
You love me
We’re a happy family
With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you
Won’t you say you love me too
I love you, you love me
We are friends like friends should be
With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you
Won’t you say you love me too


At first there was silence from both teams as we listened to our girls repeated the song again.  Then, the silence was replace with laughter from both teams.


When our girls came up to bat the favor was returned.  The opposing team began to sing the Barney song to our batters.  The behavior was contagious, and singing was frequently heard through the different fields for the rest of that ball season.


In softball, or anything we play, the work of raising the next generation for Christ, and with integrity, is a job with no vacations, but a great return.  The question for all of us is, when you are up to bat, will you play with integrity, allowing our children to see up swing for the spiritual fences?

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Diane W. Bailey is the founder of The Consilium – an online community of wisdom and purpose for women over 45 years of age. She is a published author. Her books include String of Pearls – From Tears to Treasure, and 30 Days To A Better Stepfamily. She creates her own line of precious metals bracelets. Diane lives in the Deep South with her husband Doc. Together they have created a stepfamily, each having two stepchildren and two birth children, and share three grandchildren, one black lab named Charlie and one long haired tabby cat named Lil Girl. Diane’s passion is to encourage women to be all God has created them to be by pressing past fear and daring to live life as an adventure. Some of her life adventures include traveling to Israel, speaking, entrepreneurship and backyard farming with Doc. She loves Gumbo, fried shrimp and seeing all sunsets across water.

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