STAY AT 17 INCHES..a note on Our Nation

I just came across this post by Chris Sperry. I don’t know where it was first published, but the message is powerful and right for our nation today! Enjoy!
STAY AT 17 INCHES

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment – “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who the hell is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter, I was just happy to be there.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung – a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who in the hell is this guy?

After speaking for twenty five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally…

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?”

After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?” more of a question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?” came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear.

“How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide is home plate in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello !” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'”

Pause.

“Coaches…”

Pause.

” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him. Do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We simply, widen the plate!”

Pause.

Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

Silence.

He replaced the flag with a Cross.

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it.”

“And the same is true with our government. Our so called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate and we see our country falling into a dark abyss while we watch.”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that, which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to…”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.”… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players-no matter how good they are-your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself, ALL, at seventeen inches.

Written by Chris Sperry
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A World Full of Surprises!

I woke up this morning, grabbed a cup of coffee and began preparing notes and a presentation for my upcoming speaking engagements. My joy is palpable as I so enjoy sharing what I have learned with others. Grabbing my iPad, I read my devotions and then caught the headlines of the news. The United Kingdom voted to break away from the European Union and the Prime Minister had resigned. Although the news was startling, to me, the people’s choice to leave the EU signals the uneasiness around the world that  no one can explain. We feel it in our own nation, as well.

I slapped my coffee cup to the table and laughed right out loud thinking that my days were mostly quiet.   Then it hit me that I hadn’t had a quiet day in months! I began to think of all of the startling days I have had recently. My wonderful publisher closed its doors. Then I had a request for my new manuscript. A dear friend lost her mother. Another friend lived through a certain death heart surgery. I travelled to Florida overnight to visit an elderly friend. I taught an awesome creative writing class this semester. I was confined to bed for several days due to a muscle spasm. I got three rejections. News poured in day after day. Some news has been good, others, not so much.

I couldn’t help but smile, as I realized how surprising EVERY day is! I don’t need the news to tell me that something wild and crazy is going to happen today. It is how I react to the news that keeps my head on straight and allows others to see I have a Rock to cling to even in the dark times. I’m learning to expect the unexpected….and with that to enjoy whatever comes my way.

 

American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference

What a joy to be a part of the ACFW family! The conference here in St. Louis is filled with aspiring writers and encouraging editors, agents and publishers all here to glorify God! I’m finding myself encouraging others more than anything else, which makes for a great time! Happening at the same time is the Joyce Meyers Convention, so the entire downtown area is filled with people who love the Lord! I even had the chance to give one of her staff a copy of Run, River Currents, as Joyce ministers about her abusive life.

From the moment I arrived it was as though God had a plan for everything. I have been a part of a giving attitude in every restaurant, every store and every coffee shop within a 10 block radius. I hear workers saying to each other that they have never been treated so kindly, tipped so graciously or listened to so intently as these few days. My own maid cried when I handed her a few extra dollars and a book of faith I picked up here. I hadn’t seen her need until then. I was just reacting to the gratefulness I was feeling.

Writers do make a difference, but more than that, people of faith make a difference when we allow God to shine through our actions. I know I am learning techniques and craft here, but the real lessons are coming from the heart.

Go on out today and be a blessing to someone in any little way you can. You never know where God will take your kindness.

P.S. Don’t forget you have until October 12 to sign up for my Goodreads Giveaway of The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance! A “button” bracelet will be included for one lucky winner!

GOODREADS GIVEAWAY SEPTEMBER 12-OCTOBER 12

From September 12 through October 12, Goodreads will be running a contest for 5 autographed copies of The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance. Make sure you take the time to register and tell your friends!

 Read the Goodreads giveaway details here!

FINAL Cover buttons

 

Join me on Goodreads throughout the month as I answer questions about the new release!

See you there!

Ginger

The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance On Sale 7-24 to 7-28 on Amazon

For those who wish to grab a copy of my least release, The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance, now is the time! Amazon is running a Kindle deal at just .99 cents from July 24 through July 28!

When you are finished reading it, don’t forget to post a review, as authors everywhere so appreciate the words of their readers!

Enjoy!

Ginger

 

Join Me on My Blog Tour This Week!

Today begins the blog tour journey for The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance!

Join me today at Lisa Haselton’s Review at  and leave a comment!

The rest of the week is listed below!
July 22: Our Wolves Den
July 23: Ari Reads
July 24: 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, and Sissy, Too!
July 24: LizaOConnor-Author
July 25: Writer’s Club of Whittier
July 28: Shelf Full of Books
July 28: Deal Sharing Aunt
July 29: Nickie’s Views and Interviews
July 30: Margay Leah Justice
July 31: Hope. Dreams. Life… Love
August 1: Let’s Get BOOKED!  (This review site does have adult content as well as Christian content)
August 1: Long and Short Reviews

 

For the next several days, my book will be featured on the following blogs. On July 23, I will be a featured guest on Ally Bishop’s Upgrade Your Story podcast and July 24 I will be featured on The Rebecca L. Maham Radio Show. Join me throughout the week for giveaways and great conversations, won’t you?

I grateful to so many people for hosting me and allowing their readers exposure to my new work! A big thank you to each blogger and to those who take the time to share their questions and comments!

Have a great day!

 

Is Releasing a New Book ALL You Look Forward To?

A new writer gets in this special place just a to  few times in their lives. This special place is when their new book is released.  Those that don’t understand the writer or the writing process think it is at this moment, this place, that they have achieved their goal. In some ways, the world is right. The writer feels a sense of pride and accomplishment, a thrill at attaining a goal they once thought impossible. Yet, more than that, they have come to appreciate all of those who made the journey along their lonely road.

This week is the release of my new novel, The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance. I am overjoyed to have it out there, and so grateful to people like, my family, my editor, and my book manager stand beside me as it sells. I can’t thank the readers, the bloggers and the tweeters enough, as they are the ones who make or break any author. All we humbly do is what we love…write.

Then I open Facebook and I see a couple of friends who are also releasing their first books. I begin to realize  the joy of  my writing life really takes place when I see their faces, beaming amongst those who gathered to give them launch parties. Every smile is a pat on the back, an encouragement to their success. It’s not about me, nor my release now. It’s about taking the time to lift up my Wilkes cohorts, my friends and other writer’s who have joined me today as we celebrate our dreams.

So, to Barbara Taylor, author of Sing in The Morning, Cry at Night, and Laurie Lowenstein, author of Unmentionables, both published by Kaylie Jones Books, Here’s to you! I wish you the greatest success and lift you both in all my prayers!

A Simpleton’s Guide to Making a Book Trailer

Book Trailers are all the rage right now, so with the upcoming release of The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance, I thought I would try one!

I am technically challenged, but didn’t want to pay a fortune to have someone do a book trailer for me that might not be exactly how I wanted the book trailer to feel. I’m a touchy-feely kind of person and I wanted that to come across in the music and the photos I used.

So here it is. The Simpleton’s Guide to building your own book trailer. I hope it might help another writer as they struggle to find their way in this noisy world of publishing.

 

1. I went to animoto and opened a free account. (Note that the free account gives you 30 seconds of photos, video & music.)

2. I choose a background (Rustic.)

3. I followed the directions and downloaded personal photographs, paintings and free stock photos I found on the web.

4. I choose a song that matched the theme of my book.

5. When the book trailer didn’t seem as long as I wanted, I paid $30 to upgrade for a year.

6. I added more photos and then previewed the piece.

*** All of this took me about 3 hours. The second one I built took less than 30 minutes. You know what I mean. Don’t get discouraged, the end product is lovely!

Click on this link and tell me what YOU think about the results!

 

Ginger

Why Book Clubs Count

I read a wonderful article in the newspaper today about book clubs that are popping up like daffodils all over the country. These seemingly small groups of six to twenty people get together out of love for the written word. It’s a social club filled with wonderful people who appreciate quality writing and good stories. It made me think of a Des Moines Book Club, which consisted of several women who graciously read the first draft of my first manuscript.

Just like the article in the paper, the women of the Des Moines Book Club were brutally honest in their reading, which not only gave me a better sense of my story, but caused me totally rewrite parts of the book so the reader might better understand what was rolling around in my head. It was a lesson well learned.

So to book clubs across America, thank you for your honesty. Writers need your input and your reviews. Thank you for the generosity of your time, as you make us better writers.

Here’s a short tribute to those of you in book clubs, whose importance cannot be denied, from the poets and writers you support!

Surprise
by Beverly McLaughlin

The biggest
Surprise
On the library shelf
is when you suddenly
Find yourself
Inside a book-
(the HIDDEN you)
You wonder how
The author knew.

 

What God says:
Psalm 139:4 “Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.”