Say “You-hoo!”

When our girls were little, one of their favorite games to play was hide-and-seek. They would tell me or my husband Brent to hide our eyes and count to 30, then they would scurry off to hide, giggling and tripping over each other. Nearly every time, the girls would hide in the same spot over and over again—behind the sofa, in their bedroom closet, under a blanket on the floor of the bonus room.


Though we knew just where they were hidden, Brent or I would play along. We’d say in a loud, exaggerated voice, “Where could Ella be?” or “I can’t find Lucy anywhere!” After a few minutes, we’d find them. “A-ha! There you are!” we’d shout, triumphantly.


When we would switch places, with mom and dad doing the hiding and the girls doing the seeking, they would count to 30, then start their search. I can remember many times when we’d be hiding in our spots, waiting to be found. Then we’d hear a little voice squeak out a plaintive cry, “Mommy…Daddy…” Even though we had only been concealed from sight for less than five minutes, they would begin to get nervous. We’d know they were really about to go berserk and notify the authorities when they’d call out, “Mommy, say yoo-hoo!” They’d want us to reveal our complex hiding locations—under the kitchen table or behind a door—with the comforting call of two, simple syllables. They needed to hear our voices and follow the sound to discover where we were. So we would call out yoo-hoo. Then they would scurry to us, relief and victory displayed on their sweet, little faces.


As we enter a new year, I see so many of us searching for something which seems completely hidden. Often our search is futile and aimless, so we desperately want to hear a voice directing us where to look. It’s like the prayer of the afflicted person in Psalm 102: “Lord, hear my prayer! Listen to my plea! Don’t turn away from me in my time of distress. Bend down to listen, and answer me quickly when I call to you.”


As we begin 2022, let’s all tune our ears for the yoo-hoos of Scripture and the Author of words like: “Seek and you will find…” and “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” There are also you-hoos which tell us we’re neither alone not forgotten, whether we’re deliberately hiding in a seemingly inaccessible spot of our own choosing or one where we find ourselves by surprise. Either way, we are being pursued by a loving Father who is revealing His location multiple times every day, if only we are willing to listen and seek Him out.

We are the champions

Last weekend, our youngest son’s soccer team played in a tournament in Gatlinburg. Back in August, when they first listed it among the other scheduled games, I thought, “Outdoor soccer in the Smokies in December?! Brrrrr!” But in true Tennessee fashion, it was weirdly warmish, with the main precipitation coming in the form of pea-soup thick fog on Sunday morning.


I’m an introvert by nature, preferring to avoid the spotlight in favor of watching others somewhere along the fringe. And whether you’re there for a sporting event or not, Gatlinburg is a prime people-watching location. Actually, it’s stimulus overload. But with all that we saw over the two days we were there (this includes the hordes of visitors traversing the main strip of shops and restaurants and a big black bear which wandered right up to the window of the cabin), it was the faces of the players and their parents which I was most interested in.


As I’ve been writing fiction for several years, I’ve become fascinated by learning what makes people tick and using this unscientific data to influence the arc of my storyline and the backstory of my characters. Anytime a person stands in front of you, presenting himself in some particular way, there are actually thousands of experiences at work in his words and actions and choices. The smile which doesn’t quite meet his eyes or that tiny twitch in the corner of his mouth or his fingers tap-tapping on his leg. People are just so complicated.


At a big tournament like this one, you see what Jim McKay, the late ABC sports announcer, would call “…the thrill of victory…and the agony of defeat…the human drama of athletic competition…” The thing I realized about myself as I watched a nearby game conclude on an adjacent field to the one where my son was warming up with his team, was that I was actually more interested in the faces of the losing team than those of the winning team. The winners jumped and cheered and hugged each other as they celebrated a hard fought victory. Not much variation there. But the losers…that’s where you see the range and depth of emotions. Some boys dropped to the ground and pounded the dirt with their fists, some offered a hand to help those teammates up on their feet, some cried unrestrained tears, and some stood motionless in despair. Then there was one 11 or 12 year-old kid who approached a player from the opposing team to congratulate him. He extended his hand in a friendly handshake, then he went along and continued shaking the hands of the rest of the team. His teammates noticed and joined in. No doubt this is his coach’s customary instruction after a game, but he did it with maturity and grace.


It stinks to lose. Even someone like me who never played sports and usually shies away from competition can own up to the fact that it’s no fun being on the losing side. But when we teach our kids about integrity and good sportsmanship and perspective, and they can be consistently honorable in the face of winning and losing, they are true champions no matter the final score.