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Lesson Number Five

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am not the biggest fan of most professional sports. But there is one exception. I am a diehard fan of the Baltimore Orioles. Win or lose. First place or last. I love me some Orioles baseball! Now, we have the most beautiful stadium in all of MLB. It always ranks in the top five, and the only reason that it's not listed as number one all of the time is because they have to shuffle the order around a bit sometimes to make it look good for the other cities. But we have the best stadium. Number one. And we have the best manager in all of baseball. Buck Showalter is a man of character and knows how to run a team. When I'm watching a game and I see some of the hoodlums that the other team puts up on the field, I admire so much Buck's ability to keep his team clean-cut and sharp. Mostly they could get right into Bible college with little adjustment, appearance wise. Buck treats his players as 'his boys'. You hear it when he speaks. Always with pride and tenderness, even when he's disappointed. And when the players are interviewed, there is a common theme. We are a team. We love each other. Yes, they say that. Buck instills that in them. But the most amazing thing about Buck is his ability to keep a poker face no matter what is going on on the field. We can be winning 10-zippo. There is that face. We can be losing 18 to 2. Same face. We can have an 8-nothing lead in the eighth inning and then lose the game. Same face. There are only tiny occasional flashes of emotion from Buck. When one of his boys does something truly exceptional and the camera is on Buck, he will, for a tenth of a second, allow his lips a tiny upturn. Not because it may mean a win. But because he loves and is proud of that kid. And then, again, when something terrible has happened to one of his players. When they have been purposely hit by a ninety-eight-mile-per-hour baseball for the second time that day. That quick flash of anger as he runs to the field to take care of his boy. But then it's back. That unchanging poker face. And the thing that I keep thinking about is Buck's face. About how it is nearly impossible to read. If the game were not televised and the announcers were not doing play-by-play, and all you had to go by was Buck's face, you wouldn't have a clue what was going on on the field. You wouldn't know if we were winning or losing. And that's how it is with a lot of people. You can't tell by looking at them what's going on. You can't tell if they are going through a storm or are in great pain. Some people are really good at hiding those things. And I have to tell you, those in the ministry are usually among those who, if you are not paying very close attention, you would never know that they are hurting. They need the same kindness and encouragement that you do. Proverbs 27:17 - "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." Jude 1:22 - “And of some have compassion, making a difference.”

Proverbs 16:24 - "Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." So don't take anything for granted. Just be kind to everyone. Be an encourager. Offer a sincere smile and a kind word. It goes a long way in helping a hurting heart. Make it your ministry. To care. To cheer. To show the lost Jesus in you. And to remind another Christian of the wonderful grace and mercy of the Lord, Who has seen you through many a heartache and will surely do the same for them. Lesson number five, learned when I was just a little girl: Be kind to everyone and make a difference!

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