Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Meeting Jennie Finch

My daughter, Mary Emma, is a HUGE Jennie Finch fan. For those of you who don't know who she is, Jennie Finch is an Olympic Softball pitcher, a current member of the USA Olympic Softball team, and an overall GREAT person. She is a wife, a mom, an athlete, and a GIRL! She loves Jesus and isn't ashamed of her faith. She lives what she talks - and that's a rarity with celebrities these days. When she signs her name, she puts a Christian Fish next to it. She is an inspiration to each girl who meets her.

Last night, the USA Softball Team played an exhibition game against the University of Alabama's Softball team. The game was at the park in my neighborhood. We have been excited about this game for MONTHS. Yesterday when Mary Emma got home from school, she said, "Mommy, Jennie Finch is in my neighborhood." It was all hitting home for her.

We got to the field REALLY early to get good seats. After a while, the USA team arrived to warm-up and take batting practice. Mary Emma was GLUED to the fence looking for Jennie. Then there she was. We even got pretty close so Mary Emma could say hello - she got so overwhelmed that instead of yelling "Hey Jennie" she just sat on Daddy's shoulders and cried.

After the game, each player lined up on the fence to sign autographs. We were about 20th in Jennie's line (the line had about 500 people in it) and she graciously signed, took pictures, smiled, said thank you, etc. to every person that she could get to in the time they allotted her. Mary Emma got her picture made twice and got a USA ball signed. She was wearing a Jennie Finch jersey and really thought she was a celebrity, herself.

We didn't get home until almost 10:00. Mary Emma was exhausted, but soooo happy. She wore the jersey to school today. She wanted her hair in a ponytail "just like Jennie wears hers." She wants to redecorate her room so the pink walls don't clash with the red, white, and blue Jennie Finch posters, pictures, and autographs.

Here's the part that I'm so grateful to Jennie for. We have been talking to Mary Emma a lot lately about being a good sport, how to act like Jesus wants us to act, humility, gratefulness, basically the whole Fruits of the Spirit bit. There were almost 3000 people at the game last night, most of whom came just to see Jennie Finch. She could've been cocky. She could've hid behind the security guards and flaunted her celebrity status. She could've signed autographs quickly, carelessly, and without giving a thought to the person who was freezing while waiting in line to see her. She could've disregarded the fact that EVERYONE there paid money to see her and probably bought a bunch of her merchandise. But she didn't. She smiled. She laughed. She waved. She even took a ball to each team member to get signed and gave it to a little girl who was hit in the back by a batting practice ball. She had no ego. She exemplified the Fruits of the Spirit. She was living proof of the kind of person that we have been talking to Mary Emma about. Her character radiated Jesus.

I have been a softball fan of hers for a while. I love to watch her play. Now I am a Jennie Finch fan. She's awesome.

Oh, and she and her team are gonna SWEEP UP in Beijing at the Olympics. Go USA!