Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Ok, God- I'm listening

I truly believe that God has a sense of humor.  Or I am just so dense sometimes I need to hear something multiple times for it to sink in. 

As I thought about what to write this week, I flipped through my prayer journal.  A common theme began to emerge- not sure if I am ready for it but I know God is!

So here's a peek at some of my journal entries for this week:

"The Christian life is one of spiritual courage and determination lived out in our flesh." Oswald Chambers

I want to seek you and your ways first then act on those ways.  My life is worth nothing if I am not focused on you and giving you the glory.
  • Seek first God's kingdom
  • Boast in nothing but God
  • Circumcision of the heart is what God is after (true repentance, sanctification)
I don't want to be bored or busy just to be busy- I want to be faithful.

"Be aware of anything that stops the offering up of prayer."  Oswald Chambers
  • Asking self- What areas in my life block my prayer life?
  • Help me, God, to be ready to live a Romans 12:1-2 life.
Romans 12:1-2 "And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."

5/26/13     Sermon Message from Todd Leet
Todd spoke about the crippled woman in Luke 13:10-17 who had been bent over for 18 years.  He shared a personal story about how fear had been crippling him for years and one day Jesus released him- he was no longer "bounded".  You can listen to the message by going to www.vandyke.org.

Ok, God- I'm listening.  You desire for me to seek you first always.  To be willing to daily sacrifice my will and schedule to You so that I can grow closer to You and give You glory.  You want me to break up anything in my life that is hindering my relationship with You and others.  You want nothing to tied up our prayer life- I need to keep the channel clear though a repentant spirit and uncluttered heart & mind. 

Did I get it?  Is that all?  Just kidding- on my own there is no way that I could even come close to checking anything off that list.  But with your help and guiding spirit, I know I can move closer to being the woman you have created me to be- even if it's just a baby step. 

"Be serious in your commitment to God, and gladly leave everything else alone.  Literally put God first in your life."  Oswald Chambers


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Proud to be his Mom!

This weekend not only marked the celebration of Mother's Day but the start of Little League baseball play-offs.  My son, Matt, plays for Lutz Little League (Minor A).  This season he was on the Yankees.  His team finished the season in 6th place and was selected to play the 3rd place team- the Red Sox.  The first play-off games were to take place on Saturday, May 9th and Matt's game was scheduled for 2:30 pm. 

The game started out well for both teams.  Each team scoring runs in the first few innings- the defense was working together and the pitchers were throwing strikes.  Matt usually positions are first base, center field, and pitcher.  By the final inning, the Yankees were leading the Red Sox 17-9. 

The Yankees took the field in the bottom of the 6th- needing to hold this generous lead.  Coach Erick called Matt to pitch for the final inning.  The adrenaline was pumping, the fans were plenty and the game had taken a few hours.  The Red Sox were hoping to come back in their final bat. 

Photo by Maria Ortiz

Needless to say, Matt did not start out pitching well- he allowed the first 3 batters on base.  With 9 runs needed to win, Matt continued to persevere on the mound.  With the help of his team, 1 out was needed to win.  Quickly the Red Sox's scored 5 runs to tighten the Yankee's lead to 3.  With potential runs on the bases, Matt went to face his good friend, Ty.  On a pass ball, Matt charged from the mound to tag out the stealing runner who slide into his side as he was trying to block the plate.  The player was safe and Matt was down on the ground due to injury.  After being tended to by multiple coaches, Matt gingerly went back on the mound to continue pitching.  He threw a few pitches to warm-up and Ty got back in the box.  A few pitches later, Ty hit a line drive back to Matt which he caught to win the game.  Yankees win 17-15. 

After the celebration of our victory, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief.  As I watched Matt battle on the mound for his team, I was proud of his determination to not allow the circumstances of the game to change his attitude.  He kept his head in the game and was able to shake off the runs that were adding up against him.  Even though it was not one of his best pitching efforts, I was very proud of the maturity I witnessed in my son as he focused on the task at hand.  He never wavered even when he was injured- he got right back out there to finish the job his coach had asked him to do.

It was nerve racking to watch the last half inning take place that Saturday.  I knew Matt wasn't pitching his best- I kept looking at his coach in the dug-out, sending subliminal messages to "take him out".  Little did I know that he was it- Matt was the final pitcher for the Yankees.  If we won, we were set to play the following day and needed to hold off a couple of pitchers.  Thankfully Matt was able to finish up the inning and secure the win for his team.

Unfortunately, the Yankees went on to play on Sunday losing 28-22 to the Dodgers. 

Matt has always been competitive and driven to win which at times has been caused tears and bad sportsmanship on his part.  My husband and I have persevered in our parenting, always encouraging and expecting our children to do their best including having a good attitude.  At times we were both utterly embarrassed at the behaviors that Matt exhibited in the dug-out or on the field due to disappointment in his own success at the plate or on the field. 

Photo by Maria Ortiz

BUT.... God is good- though much prayer (on my part) and car ride home talks (on my husband's part), Matt has matured emotionally on the baseball field.  He was able to gain control over his emotions and play with determination and drive- keeping his cool even in the hardest times.

If you have a child who struggles with his or her emotions especially in any competitive arena, let me encourage you to
  • continue to talk to your child about how you expect them to act on or off the field,
  • hold your child accountable for their behavior, and
  • pray for strength and help for yourself and your child.
The baseball field is one place that children begin to experience life and its challenges.  If we teach our children to compete with integrity, good sportsmanship and humility, these character traits will follow them into adulthood and training them to compete in life.

Photo by Maria Ortiz

Proud to be your mom, Matt!


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Faith Builders

Have you ever been in the presence of a faith builder?  My definition of a faith builder is someone who shares their life with you in a way that builds your faith.  Each time a faith builder shares their experiences with you- another block of faith is built in your life.  These people usually have amazing stories of struggles and hardships but always seem to be able to point to God's grace and blessings.

This morning I had the pleasure to be in the presence of many faith builders- a group of multi-generational women of God who choose to come Wednesday mornings to Van Dyke Church for bible study.  Today we wrapped up our second year of bible study with a time of fellowship, food, communion and sharing.  I am blessed to organize women's bible study at our church which has been extremely rewarding.  Going into this morning's final session, I was unsure about all the logistics but was praying for God to show up BIG.  And He did!

The morning started with a service in the chapel that included a remembrance of the studies we completed.  We started the year with James by Beth Moore and finished up with The Amazing Collection: The Pentateuch.  Pastor Matthew joined us for communion which also was a time of remembrance of the price Jesus paid for us on the cross.  We concluded chapel time with a spontaneous singing of "Jesus Loves Me" lead by Pastor Matthew, hand motions and all.

After the chapel time, we headed upstairs for a time of fellowship & food.  A little before 11:00 am, I opened the floor for sharing- I had encouraged the women the weeks before to be praying about what God would have them to share to the entire group.  Going into the share time, I knew I had 3 women that were ready to share.  30 minutes later, over 10 women had openly shared their hearts with the entire group- there was not a dry eye in the room.  I knew God had gone before me- preparing the hearts of each women that had transparently shared their story of faith to a group of 50 women. This is not easy to do so I am so thankful for each woman who obediently stepped up to share what God had laid on their hearts. You were all faith builders today- building bricks of faith in each of our lives. 

When women from different generations and backgrounds can come together and encourage one another through prayer, service and fellowship, then the gospel is being lived out.  Today I got a glimpse to the kingdom of heaven (minus the sad tears & sorrows)- a place where self is put aside for the greater good and masks can be removed so that healing can begin. 


So today I salute faith builders:
  • Thank you for your stories- they have encouraged me to continue my own journey of faith.
  • Thank you for your transparency- thank you for being vulnerable and real.
  • Thank you for the privilege of praying for you.
Are you a faith builder?  Who can you encourage today with your stories of faith?