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The Importance of a Green Ball with Stars

December 25, 2017

For my Christmas 2017 post, I am reposting a piece I wrote for Huffington Post in July 2017.

It is a true story.

The Importance of a Green Ball with Stars

green ball with stars

I usually write about issues related to education and politics. However, today I will veer from routine in order to offer a story related to an inspirational occurrence that happened only minutes ago.

With so much drama transpiring in the world around us, I figured a break from the edu-political would be refreshing.

Today’s story concerns a ball, the very one pictured above.

I order to appreciate the importance of this ball, one must know the backstory. So, here we go.

I have a college friend who has two children, a boy and a girl, who are now 21 and 17 years old, respectively.

The daughter (we’ll call her Emma in this account) is autistic; as such, her care has entailed much time and effort and a great number of doctor visits. When she was a toddler, my friend and her husband had to regularly travel from Tennessee to Ohio for Emma’s medical visits.

As one might expect, Emma’s care put stress on the family unit in varied and profound ways, including upon her brother (let’s call him Taylor), and upon Taylor’s parents, who knew that Emma’s needs took time and attention from Taylor.

Feeling the need to show care to his son, my friend’s husband (we’ll call him Price) asked Taylor what present he might bring to Taylor from one of those medical trips to Ohio, trips that Taylor could not attend.

Without a thought, Taylor responded, “A green ball with stars.”

The specificity of Taylor’s request was at once comical to Price but also stressful in its own right precisely because it was so specific, and Price did not want to disappoint his son.

Now, I should point out that Price and his wife, my friend, have a rooted faith in God, and by rooted faith, I mean one that transcends circumstances and goes beyond what appears to be logical.

And it certainly did not appear logical to expect to easily locate a green ball with stars on a trip that would afford no time for shopping. Moreover, as it turns out, this particular trip involved Price’s time being consumed with Emma’s needs more than apparently expected. As such, Price only had time to hurriedly pass through the tiny, hospital gift shop before piling his family into the car for their trip home.

As he entered the gift shop, there it was: A display of balls, including green balls with stars, as if God were reminding Price, “I’m here.”

Price bought the ball for his son.

Fast forward decades to a 3 a.m. phone call from Taylor to his mother.

“I need help. Please come and get me.” Unfortunately, Taylor has developed a drug and alcohol dependency problem. To delve into Taylor’s addictions is beyond this post. However, once my friend, his mother, heard the message on her phone the next morning, she hurried to his apartment to pick him up and to face the difficult process of getting Taylor into a rehabilitation facility.

When she arrived at the apartment, Taylor was there, asleep. She woke him, and he said he would be ready to go with her after showering.

As my friend waited for her son, she looked around his disheveled room and saw in a clear plastic bin with drawers the green ball with stars, a reminder from God, “I’m here.”

Fast forward several weeks. Taylor is in rehabilitation hours away in another state. My friend continues to face regular doctor visits for Emma. Also, Price’s aging mother will be moving in with their family, into her own living area that Price and my friend are having added onto the house. So much to confront. I was able to visit my friend last week amid this renovation and to assist with Emma and one of her medical visits and to hear updates on Taylor’s progress.

My friend is afraid of the “what next” that will come with Taylor’s release yet several weeks away. Of course she is. She is his mother, and she loves him and wants to do right by him while exercising healthy boundaries— quite the tightrope walk for a woman whose daily life is a profound challenge on many fronts.

In one of our conversations during my visit, my friend expressed a desire to recover some of Taylor’s possessions from his apartment. However, for reasons beyond the scope of this post, she is unable to do so.

One of the items my friend mentioned wishing to retrieve is the green ball with stars, which is not likely to happen.

And that brings us to today.

I returned home from my visit several days ago. (I live in another state from my friend.) One of my favorite haunts is Whole Foods. I like to go there in the evenings, buy a snack, and sit outside and read as the sun sets.

This evening, as I was walking through the store, I noticed a display of balls.

Some had stars.

One of those was green.

“I’m here.”

I bought it for my friend.

Tomorrow I will mail it to her, her own green ball with stars, to keep as her own, to look at and to remember:

“I’m here. I will be here, through whatever may befall.”

“I’m here for you.”


“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  –Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 11:28-30.

A Merry Christmas to all.

christmas star




  1. MaryAnne permalink

    And a green ball with stars for you, too.

  2. Gayaneh permalink

    Thank you for this. I’ll say a prayer for your friend and her family.

  3. Christine Langhoff permalink


    Merry Christmas to you and all those you love. Thanks, too, to you for all the light you bring to the world.

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