Claire by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

When Claire was twelve years old, she visited Mazatlán with her parents who own at the same condominium complex as Dave and I.

Unlike us, however, they own a sprawling penthouse on the top floor where they stay when their busy California schedule allows. I met Claire at a get-together for all the owners.

To make small talk, I asked how she was. “Stressed,” she sighed. Since this is not a normal answer for a pre-teen, I asked if she was serious. She was. “And what is there to be stressed about?” I pressed, trying not to laugh. Primarily, it was her strict school schedule, plus some extra-curricular activities. Her communication skills were well beyond her years.

That was seven years ago. Claire is in Mazatlán this week, and I am learning that her maturity probably was attributable to her intelligence. She is a computer major at USC and scored a perfect 36 on her ACT. Most of her high school classes were Advanced Placement ones, and she is a bookaholic. Name a book; she has read it and can summarize it for you.

Last night her parents and two other couples came over to play Marbles and Jokers, a game introduced to Dave and me three years ago. Typically, people do not catch on to the game’s strategic moves before the third round, at which point they are addicted. We started at 2:00 in the afternoon and played until 9:00. Girls against Guys, and had the men not table-talked non-stop (I’m over that now), we girls would have won more than one game.

Claire and her boyfriend showed up around 8:00. She skimmed the instructions, asked a few questions and was ready to play. Now, NOBODY is ready to play M&J that quickly… NOBODY, apparently, except Claire. Dave and I have played with nuclear engineers, CEO’s, CPA’s, RN’s, Cyberwar specialists and Silicon Valley gurus, none of whom have understood the nuances of the game that fast.

Early on, Claire directed her mother to try an advanced strategy that beginners don’t use. Claire was the first of the eight of us to get her marbles into her home base, while we, her teammates, labored over which move to make and straggled around the board. Her brain clearly worked at a level I didn’t understand but certainly appreciated.

Over the next several days, it was not uncommon for several of us to be involved in marathon M&J games. Claire never lost. Which meant, of course, that we girls didn’t, either. She was a great one to have on our team. Teammates, as we all know, make a difference.

There’s another, however, a “must have” on our team, who is a total game-changer, and that’s Jesus Christ. No one has the wisdom to direct our paths and who pulls for our success like he does, and unlike Claire, there’s nothing in it for him.

Romans 8:34 tells us that he intercedes for us, so not only did he die in our place, but he continues to cheer for us to overcome sin and live a faith-filled life. I can’t imagine how many times a day he’s muttering to himself, “Come on, Patty. Nope. Don’t do that. Nope. Don’t say that. You can do it. I have confidence in you.” And then he turns to his Father and asks that I be forgiven because chances are, whatever he was pulling for me not to do, I did.

Jesus waits patiently for us to join his team. The winning team. Why would we choose anything else?

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