Maybe You Should Pass

passMy Grandma B was a self-proclaimed Rook champion. She loved the game and made sure that each of her grandchildren knew how to play. When we were very young, she would put on her visor and call us to the Formica topped table in the kitchen where we would perch on the dinette chairs and watch in fascination as she carefully shuffled the cards with her arthritic fingers and dealt them out, starting with the person on her left.

Her already hunched shoulders would hunch over even more as she dealt and instructed us. “Remember, the one is worth 15 points and can take any other card.” or “Be careful not to bid too high if you only have 14s. You’d make a better partner.” If one of us should start to bid wildly high to take possession of the kitty, she would gently remind us, “Maybe you should pass, you’re not guaranteed good cards in that kitty!” It seemed like she always won.

As we grew older, our game skills increased to the point that we became worthy partners and actually got to play for points with the rest of the adults. We’d practice with each other when Grandma B went south for the winters, and play against her when she came to spend the summers with us.

Our deck of Rook cards grew old and worn—and my brother and sisters and I memorized the markings on the back of the cards. The birdie had an eraser mark in the raven’s eye. The one of yellow had a crease in the corner. Someone had stepped on the 14 of red and left faint sneaker marks.

By the time we started college, we knew the backs of those cards like we knew the backs of our hands. Only Grandma B didn’t know what we knew. “Who wants to play a game of Rook?” she would question on a Saturday night. My mom would make popcorn and fruit milkshakes and we’d gather around the kitchen table and play hand after hand. “I don’t see how you kids always win,” she would mutter in frustration mixed with pride.

We’d always play call partners (whoever won the bidding got to call for a partner who held whatever card the winner would decide on), and I confess that I would sometimes deliberatly call Grandma B as my partner if I had a rotten hand and knew I would lose the round, just to take her down with me.

We used our insider information to bilk Grandma B of win after win, crowing quietly at our success. Occasionally, we’d let her win. We felt invincible in our Rook skills. Of course, with somebody else’s deck, we played like mere mortals. Winning and losing on the merits of our decisions and ability to keep track of trump cards.

That old deck of Rook cards reminds me of what God offers us. Only when he calls us to partner with him, he’s in it for the win. He offers a relationship with us that will make us seem invincible.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; (Isaiah 43:1b-3a NIV)

God doesn’t promise to keep us from water and fire and trials—but he does promise to be with us as we pass through those things. People will shake their heads and wonder how we keep on going in the face of adversity. But we know the secret. When we answer the call to relationship with the king of the universe and spend time getting to know him, we enter into a whole new level of living.

God doesn't promise to prevent trials, he promises to pass through them WITH us. #fmfparty Click To Tweet

We can quietly get on with the business of passing through the trials that life throws up in our path—whether it’s an unexpected caregiver journey, our out illness or physical limitation, job loss, uncertainty about our future, or worries about our children. We can play life with confidence because God promises to always pass through it with us.

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Anita, I can see you round the Formica table and Grandma’s visor—those details drew me in. I’ve never played Rook but now I want to. My grandmother had one of those old tacky tables too. (Was her whole house formica?) I love how you ended it with the play of confidence. A great piece. I’m in spot #9. Have a great weekend!
    Christina Hubbard recently posted…Pass: Words I Didn’t ShareMy Profile

  • Thank you for sharing this beautiful memory, Anita. Loved reading it.

    Isn’t road that matters; it’s the Companion.

    #1 FMF this week
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your DYing Spouse 148 Not Passing Easily {FMF}My Profile

  • Poppy Don

    Oh, how I wanted to tell on you rascals when you were beating Grandma B, but I didn’t have the heart… After all, I wanted to beat her too! It is still a kick watching Grandma B’s two remaining children play that game every time they get together.
    Not only does God know what’s on the backside of our deck of cards, but He knows who’s is going to when they partner with Him!

  • i love your story anita:) reminds me of some fun times…playing games as a family, my grandparents, etc. thanks for bringing back some happy memories:)
    Martha Brady recently posted…WOULD GOD PASS BY ONE OF HIS CHILDREN?…My Profile

  • What a great story, it’s really compelling! And a great analogy to what God offers us. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Katha! I’m always curious about table games people in other countries play–do you play Rook? Settlers of Catan? Dominoes? Or do you play table games ;)?
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…What I Wish Christians Knew About PTSDMy Profile

  • I love that picture of Grandma donning her visor and going at it! Too bad she never caught on and bought a new deck of cards… But then maybe she knew all along, huh?
    Sylvia R recently posted…When Just to “Pass”My Profile

    • I’m pretty sure she didn’t know…she was very competative when it came to Rook (now that I think about it, maybe THAT’S where I get my competative streak from!).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…What I Wish Christians Knew About PTSDMy Profile

  • What a priceless memory! Mine is of my Mom playing Scrabble. She was always so sweet until she started playing. My Dad is a master SORRY champion. Your story has inspired me to write about these memories. Thanks for sharing.

  • We had a Gramma B in our family as well. I love this word picture into your past. The best!
    Susan Shipe recently posted…five minute friday: passMy Profile

  • My grandma also played Rook with us, and Canasta. I have a Rook deck but can’t get anyone to play with me… we want to be a family that plays games, but it never seems to pan out…

    I also wrote about that verse also on homeskoolmom…always interesting to see where the prompt takes people. Sitting at #30 (CHL) and #32 today.
    Christy recently posted…He Will Be There When I Pass Through the WatersMy Profile

    • We spent a lot of time over Christmas vacation playing Settlers of Catan–we even bought the expansion pack so all five of us could play it :). I always think I don’t want to play, but once I get started on a table game, well, I get into it (you should see us play Pit!).
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…What I Wish Christians Knew About PTSDMy Profile

  • I thought of the game “Rook” also when writing today! Funny how those little games play such a significance in our life.
    Thanks for the great story! Have a great Friday!
    Rachel recently posted…When we’d rather ‘pass’ in this game of lifeMy Profile

  • Loved this story and the beautiful faith connection you made through it. Your FMF neighbor #21

  • This was one of my fave posts of yours. Rook is still the fame of choice in the Ulrich household. Grandpa will be 86 in a few weeks. Grandma is in her early 80s. But we still play. My dad and uncle can get extremely competitive. Those cards will always remind me of Grandma and Grandpa even long after they are gone. I’m over in the #5 spot this week.
    Tara recently posted…Pass the Chocolate!My Profile

  • I love the story, and especially the detail about Grandma B wearing a visor while playing Rook. This is a great insight into a life story of yours, and has a good analogy to go with it.

  • I love your story … My grandmother taught us Scrabble! She was a champion and did not let us win, ever! I played and played and to this day (she’s 93) she still beats me 2 out of 3 times, at the least! That lady is on her game! What a blessing to have these memories and experiences. God bless.

  • Oh, how I loved playing Rook as a young adult. I need to dig my game out and dust it off … and try to remember how to play again. My mother is a master at the game and sounds like she and your grandmother would be kindred spirits. I enjoyed the analogy you presented here. Sometimes, yes, we should pass. I wrote in a similar vein today.

  • So Much this: ” when he calls us to partner with him, he’s in it for the win. He offers a relationship with us that will make us seem invincible.” Yes and Amen to this, my friend!
    ~Karrilee~ recently posted…Ages Pass and Seasons Change… A Five Minute Friday PostMy Profile

  • Thoroughly enjoyed the story of your grandma and the game. I’m not much of a card player myself, so I know nothing of Rook, but I could just imagine all of you together.

    “We can quietly get on.” There’s something deep in that for me. There are days when I wallow in the suffering. I bemoan my plight. Then there are other days when I just get on. I walk through life instead of letting life walk on me. Those good days, I know they happen because I’m consciously submitted to the Lord. He is the one who enables me. I’m going to write down “we can quietly get on” and put it somewhere I can see it for those days when I want to sink down into the pit.
    Marie recently posted…Five Minute Friday: PassMy Profile

  • Love, love, love this, Anita! What a powerful truth to cling to today and every day. I’m humbly grateful He’s with us always. Love your words as always, and I appreciate “meeting” Grandma B!
    Julie Lefebure recently posted…Five Minute Friday – PassMy Profile