Monday, July 14, 2014

Birthday mishap revisited

Years ago but on this day we were sitting in our lawn chairs at “church.” At the time, our start-up fellowship was meeting in a three-car garage, worshiping without the trappings of a formal sanctuary. Our church had just suffered a split and I was preoccupied with a bad work situation. I didn’t have it together.

Sitting in that hot garage, I glanced over at Seth. To my surprise, tears streamed down his face. To coin a phrase, “Oh dear, what could the matter be?” The matter was this: we had forgotten Seth’s eleventh birthday. The young boy was distraught. He could not be consoled regardless of heart-felt apologies. No “Happy Birthday” upon rising, no special breakfast, no unique gifts. It was just a lot of nothing.

Seth eventually got over his disappointment and to this day, it is one of our long-standing family jokes. So, as the sun set last night, I made sure to get in the first birthday greeting in anticipation of today. I certainly did not want him to think I could forget his birthday. . .again! On the way home from work, I made a stop to pick up some plaid shorts as a gift. I was relieved he liked them; he can be pretty picky. Whew. Another birthday without incident.

Kids are wonderful. Each has their unique personality, sense of humor, strengths and weaknesses. Seth has been “busy” since conception. In utero, he made like a chicken trying to peck his way out. As an infant he refused to sleep longer than twenty minutes at a time and was a front-runner to be a poster child for colic.

After him, no more kids for me. Maybe Leah thought the same thing after Judah’s birth. Perhaps he was difficult as well. “She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, ‘This time I will praise the LORD’. . . Then she stopped having children” (Genesis 29:35).

At four, Seth rode his motorcycle through the woods as fast as he could, standing on the seat like a pipsqueak Evil Kinevil. In school, he was the center of attention. And now, as a young man of seventeen, he is an outgoing, know-no-stranger kind of guy, full of wanderlust and enthusiasm. His camera is a constant companion.

I thank God for Seth. He’s a special kind of kid.

“and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, "God has granted me another child.” (Genesis 4:25)


Daily challenge: Little kids are like kittens: cute and easy to love. But don’t be blind to the beauty in your big kids.


Postscript: Today Seth turns 23. I did not forget his birthday.

Adapted from the July 14th selection in "Pace Yourself: 366 Devotions from the Daily Grind"

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Let go!

Let go! Throw your head back and lift with your legs at the top of the arc.”


Hannah, spry and fearless, did as instructed when launched from the tiny perch cut into the nearly vertical cliff. Secure in her climbing harness and hooked onto the rope, she flipped upside down, soaring over the jungled canyon one hundred feet below. She was gleeful despite the fact she held onto nothing. Legs extended, arms outstretched, peering at the ground as it rushed beneath her, she flew falcon-like through the air. Her teammates watched from the steep hillside, amazed at her prowess, agility, and strength. When Hannah dismounted, it was with bubbling-over joy.

And then came JoAnna. This was not her first trip along the zip line course. However, when it came to the swing in the dense Costa Rican jungle, she denied herself the experience on each of her prior adventures. Only now, surrounded by a team of young women urging her on, did she relent. She survived her fright and flight, though not with the unfettered style and grace of Hannah. JoAnna held on tight, knuckles white and fingers cramping. When JoAnna dismounted, it was only with great relief.

Both these women started the challenge with the same tools: secured, quadruple-checked harnesses. Both these women had the same outcome: survival with no injury. But what about their perception of experience? Hannah relished leaving the cliff. She embraced letting go. She sought the exhilaration tumbling through the air brought her. JoAnna, on the other hand, let the fear deprive her of flightful fancy. She chose not to trust the safety measures and allow herself complete joy.

God sometimes asks us to take a flying leap. Though He promises His control, and despite the assurance of safety, we refuse to let go. Like JoAnna, we needlessly clutch our own insecurities, missing the joy of the journey.

God, give me the courage to let go, trusting you completely. Let me feel safe in your love and grant me joy.

“You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.”
Proverbs 11:18 (NIV)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Linked by Two Xs

There she was, dressed in her team warm-ups and seated in the middle of the well-appointed hotel lobby. But something was wrong. Terribly wrong. With the phone pressed to her ear, tears flowed in rivulets down her checks and onto her lap. She was not crying. No, she sobbed with heart-wrenching emotion. What was the matter?

About that time, the local FCA director joined me in the lobby. As the player continued to sob, we slipped around the corner to lessen the awkwardness. We briefly chatted with the team's coach as the members of his basketball team assembled together in a meeting room. The team had requested an FCA chapel service before taking on the local university in what would be a showdown of athletic powers. After a brief introduction, it took but a few seconds to make my way to the front of the small room, turning to face my equally small audience. But what was not small was their attention.

Every eye was glued to me, some of the athletes sitting forward in their chairs as if to capture every word escaping my lips. Was it because I was a powerful speaker, replete with flowing phrases and descriptive wording? I doubt it. Their attention was captured because we all shared something in common: two X chromosomes. Woman to woman, athlete to athlete. There was plenty of common ground. And when I spoke of burdens, God's purposes, His faithfulness to deliver, and His promise to provide strength, each young woman nodded in agreement. And the sobbing one? Shoulders, rigid from the earlier stress and emotional turmoil, relaxed. With the final "amen" of my prayer, her eyes seemed filled with hope rather than tears. They left the room as a team united, climbing aboard the awaiting bus that would deliver them to the arena. I left the room convinced of my calling.

These last few months have been interesting, to say the least. To leave the security of a steady paycheck, howbeit modest, for the uncertainty of a ministry position was a leap of faith. But more than ever, my passion for coaching, a life-time of athletic pursuits, and a desire to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and encourage believers in their practical walk supersedes the automatic deposits into our bank account. 

Now that the school year is complete, I turn my focus on finding those who will allow me to be their hands and feet on school campuses. I am seeking those who will fund this ministry that enables coaches, especially female ones, to be supported in their efforts to pour into the lives of their athletes. And as I spend several weeks this summer working in FCA sports camps, I do so as an extension of like-minded supporters. 

As the only female FCA staffer in Central Virginia, the opportunities are limitless. In the fourteen years of local FCA ministry, only twice have female teams been specifically served; not because of lack of desire, but due to the lack of a woman to serve. But while the needs are great, I am willing, and God is able to do more than we dare to dream.

Will you come along and allow me to be a servant? Ministry requires funding as much as it does desire and passion. I am looking for faithful partners that will commit their support and allow me to begin full-time ministry by August 1, unfettered by the need for additional fund-raising. It is easy to set up automatic giving by going to this link or sending in a blank, voided check along with your request to Central & Southwest VA FCA ● PO Box 662 ● Forest, VA 24551.(While payment by credit card is welcomed, a bank draw is financially more prudent as no fees are taken against the payment amount.)

Thanks in advance for your love and practical support. If I can come speak to your group or organization, it would be my pleasure to bring a message of hope, motivation, and ministry.




Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The clock is ticking

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

The incessant, jerky movement of the second hand clicks forward, taking a tour of the clock face every minute. It is steady, not slowing down or speeding up. One slim second at a time, it marks off minutes, hours, and days, those days morphing into weeks, months, years, decades, and lifetimes. Who could have imagined that such a short interval could be the beginning of something so big?

When you teach in a high school, there are many signs of those ticking seconds. Just the other week, the traditional "Passing the Torch" chapel service took place. Senior students walked down the long isle with a junior student or two by their sides. Arrival at the front of the auditorium prompted hugs, handshakes, and a flower being passed to the junior. (I suppose passing an actual torch might be frowned upon by the fire marshals.) But in the aftermath of the ceremony, the soon-to-be-seniors looked a little different. They walked taller, straighter. They exuded a little more confidence, perhaps even an air of maturity. Their impending "top dog" status seemed to resonate in that single second when stems exchanged hands. But the clock continues to click.

Now it's finals week. The clock ticks on. Students come into my room when it's time to prove their academic diligence. They leave when the clock declares "Time's up." Then it's down the hall and to their next exam, repeated over and over until there are no more tests to be taken. Then what? Summer vacation? A job? Lots of time to read? Trouble? Only time will tell.

Glancing around the classroom from behind my desk, I think about all the seconds that have come and gone over the past couple years. The long expanse of countertop holds cartons of "stuff" needing to find a new place at home: printer, lamps, decorative items, rugs, files, and a host of other things such that a truck will be required for the move. The sole bulletin board is
now empty, naked but for the backdrop still in place. I haven't yet taken down all the artwork, removed the living plants, or destroyed the mural wall. I have four more exams to give and I don't want the kids' brains to feel as barren as the classroom. But perhaps my hesitation to remove those things that define my space is a feeble attempt to slow the clock and bask in those rare moments when the students "got it"--and said so!

Still, the seconds tick on. They click away the time that brings me closer to a new adventure. No longer will I teach about fungus in a classroom. My teaching subjects will be Athletics 101, Motivation for the Christian Athlete, Perseverance, Athletics: A Microcosm of Life, Coaching Biblically, Coaching for Eternity, Effective Relationship Building, Righteous Responsibility, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, Team Building, and a host of other subjects whose syllabi are still being written. My students will be coaches and athletes, my classroom the locker room, gym floor, court, field, stadium, or camp.

So go ahead, Clock. Tick away all you want. For in your steady flow through time, I am swept along in your wake. And when I hit the shores of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) ministry, I trust I land in the exact spot where I am needed most. I pray for those who will dry me off and send me on my way, encouraged and equipped for the task at hand. The needs are great, but I am willing and God is able. Will you join me in walking onto secular campuses with the good news of the Gospel, helping, encouraging, and equipping coaches and their teams?

FCA ministry is completely funded through the generosity of the "home team." Funds are used to cover all the logistical expenses of ministry as well as a very modest salary. To become one of my "designated hitters," please use this link to make your tax-deductible gifts. Or, you may send you gifts to FCA- Attn: Rebekah Trittipoe, Box 662, Forest, VA, 24551.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Largest Christian athletics group chooses “Best Season Yet” as newest official resource



Since 1954, FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) has challenged athletes and coaches to impact the world for Jesus Christ. FCA annually reaches about two million people on every level—professional, college, high school, junior high and youth. FCA staff is 1100 strong in local offices
across the country.

FCA is committed to building up, training, and sending out coaches and athletes to minister for Christ. Without doubt, coaches are some of the most influential people today. Hundreds of thousands of young athletes will be impacted for Christ as we encourage, equip, and empower their coaches.

The newest resource officially promoted by FCA is the book, “Best Season Yet: 12 Weeks to Train,” in both coach’s and athlete’s editions. The author, Rebekah Trittipoe, writes authentically as a life-long athlete, adventurer, and coach.

Best Season Yet: 12 Weeks to Train is a 12-week guide geared towards coaches and their team, guiding them to embrace their talents and discover a purpose aside from winning and losing. Themes in the book include: commitment, submission, goal setting, pain and suffering, and pursuing excellence. The study provides opportunities to discuss and journal ways to apply the lessons learned to their lives. Each chapter has supplemental material, instructions for a team activity that aligns with the week’s theme, and suggestions on how to close the meeting. The book is formatted into five easy-to-read stories that make it easy to complete in a Monday-through-Friday school setting. FCA Vice President of Field Ministry, Jimmy Page says, “Find a game plan to keep the “main thing the main thing.” This book is about more than great performance; it’s about encouraging others to be great people- fulfilling their God-given purpose for life! “ “Best Season Yet” is available to order from Amazon, DeeperShopping.com, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBooks.com.

For more complete information about these books, click here.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Run the straights. Appreciate the curves.

After a day of travel with a bunch of teenaged tracksters on a crowded mini-bus, I now savor some alone-time in my hotel room. I love these kids and their enthusiasm (albeit unbridled at times). Nonetheless, when the rooming gods assigned me a suite sans children, I must admit to the extreme effort it took to suppress the happy dance hidden away in my soul. Time to write. Time to reflect. Time to breath deeply and with great content.

As the air conditioner rhythmically grinds away in the corner with an unusual rattle, it silences outside distraction. The television is off and email and Facebook have been X-ed out. What remains are the thoughts making their own strange rattles in my heart and soul. 

I enjoy these kids. I embrace being their coach. I savor the relationship I have with them, being able to convey lessons I've learned along the way. I am passionate about helping them understand who they are as children of the King. And I yearn for them to realize God's intention and purpose for making them athletes, among other things. They, you, I, have been prepared for such a time as this.

As I daily watch these kids take to the track, I can't help but notice the straights and curves. The 200-meter indoor track has short straights and tight curves. The 400-meter outdoor track sports longer straights and more gentle curves. But in either case, the curve is where the action is. The curve is what makes makes the race interesting. Imagine a 1600 or 3200 meter run conducted on an arrow-straight course. That would be about as enticing as walking barefoot across burning coals.

I've lived my share of straights and curves. Some of the straights have been, well, pea-picking boring. But after spending some time on a tortuously curvy course, the straights have also meant a time to relax and get back in the groove of precious routine. The thing is, its impossible to appreciate the straights without some curves.


At the moment, I'm running a curve--and loving every minute of it. With the wind in my hair and the track disappearing under my feet, I can't wait to see what is around the next turn. I am leaving the known to run to the unknown. 

After teaching school and coaching, being a cardiovascular perfusionist for 25 years, consulting, teaching again and coaching, I've hit another curve. However, I’m convinced that God has orchestrated events and equipped me with the skills, passions, and abilities to fill a new role. I'm grateful when I look back. It's like climbing a densely wooded mountain trail. You know the winding path is right, but do not fully appreciate your position until you break onto the open ridge, now able to see from where you've come and what lays ahead.

God has called me to full-time ministry with the Central Virginia Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). I am slated to be FCA’s area representative. My goal is to officially begin on July 1, fully funded, although I am scheduled to coach and speak at summer FCA sports camps prior to that date. Being funded will allow me to approach the fall seasons without distraction, concentrating on ministry instead.

FCA is the largest sports ministry in the world. Since 1954, FCA has challenged athletes and coaches to impact the world for Jesus Christ. FCA annually reaches about two million people on every level—professional, college, high school, junior high and youth. FCA staff is 800 strong in over 400 local offices across the country. Our efforts are focused on the“4 C’s” of ministry: Coaches, Campus, Camp, and Community. You can read more about this approach on FCA's website.


FCA is committed to building up, training, and sending out coaches and athletes to minister for Christ. Without doubt, coaches are some of the most influential people today. Hundreds of thousands of young athletes will be impacted for Christ as we encourage, equip, and empower their coaches. My role in this process includes: 

          Working with local schools/colleges to develop FCA clubs (Huddles) on each campus 
          Establishing Bible studies for coaches/teams; developing chapel programs for teams
         Training student leader through FCA Campus 101
         Speaking to teams and other audiences/writing materials helpful to coaches and athletes

The task of impacting athletes and coaches in Central Virginia is too large for me alone. FCA is structured such that I raise support to cover the practical costs for my own training, training coaches and volunteers, books, Bibles, team materials, funding to enable students to attend camps, campus activities, team meals, hospitality for coaches, travel expenses, national administrative costs, and much, much more. Though salary and insurance cost must also be raised, more than half of the budgeted monthly need ($7,300) is used directly in ministry. I say this to be transparent and assure you that your support will be wisely used to advance the Kingdom of Christ.



Therefore, I’m seeking faithful teammates to consistently invest, enabling this FCA ministry to go forward. Your prayers and financial support (which is tax deductible) provide the foundation for my service. Though your response at any time is welcome, hearing from you by the end of May will be such an encouragement! If you prefer electronic giving, please visit https://my.fca.org/4893-trittipoe-rebekah.aspx to set up automatic payments.
 

I pray Christ’s richest blessing be upon you, your family, and your work as you seek and follow Him!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

For such a time as this

The Biblical book of Esther reads like a movie. (Oh yeah, it has been made into several movies.) Here's the short of it.

Xerxes is the king of Persia (from 486 to 464 BC) and his wife, Vashti, has been thrown out of the palace and de-queened for not running to the king when beckoned. The king then begins a search for a lovely young virgin girl, his servants combing the kingdom for the best candidates. But from the gathered masses of long locks and curvacious figures, Esther captures the King's eye. As it turns out, she becomes queen.

But the story is not so simple. Esther's cousin, Mordecai, had raised Esther as his own when both her
parents died. So as any protective parent would do, Mordecai spent his days near the king's gate, hoping to keep an eye on the young queen of Jewish descent, having warned her not to reveal her heritage. His diligence was even responsible for overhearing a plot to kill the king, thwarting the plan when Esther offered timely warning.

However, the king's right-hand man, Haman, was a powerful and vengeful man. People everywhere bowed the knee as he passed by. People everywhere, that is, except for Mordecai as he spent his days gate gazing. The egotistical, power-hungry Haman was so incensed that he not only plotted to kill Mordecai but all of his people group, the Jews. Haman ran to the king, convincing him to render an edict that would annihilate the people whose "customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them" (Esther 3:8).

The king agreed. But little did Xerxes know his queen was a Jew, in fact, the cousin of this Mordecai. Maintaining his vilgilence at the gate, Mordecai dressed in rags and ashes as he mourned imminent mass murder. Nevertheless, he was able to get word to Esther. He tells her of the plot and pleads for her to approach the King and beg for their lives. This was not, however, a simple feat. Death was assured for Esther if she entered the majesty's presence without invitation. Nevertheless, Mordecai says this: "Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:12-14)

The story has a providential ending. Esther reveals Haman's real intent, Haman find himself impaled on the pole intended for Mordecai, Mordecai is honored and brought into the palace, and the Jewish population is spared and protected from future harm by royal decree. You have to love this historical story.

But what resounds with me is that little phrase, "for such a time as this." It was not happenstance that Mordecai loved and raised his orphan cousin as his own. It was not coincidence that Esther found herself in the exclusive "queen-in-training" program. It was not lucky she found favor in the sight of the king. Neither was it fluke that Mordecai became the unlikely unraveler of plots against the king and the Jewish people. Seeing the providential events unfold, he reminds Esther that she is where she is soley "for such a time as this."

I just had a birthday, my fifty-seventh. Though I am not someone who gets all excited about holidays, even my own birthday, having one puts things in perspective. I've had many experiences in all these years. Some have been pleasant, some hard, lessons learned, some unfortunately ignored. But the sum total of my years has equipped me "for such a time as this."

I am looking at making some major changes. These changes would not have been feasible fifteen years ago, perhaps not even three. But I am convinced that God has orchestrated events and equipped me with certain skills, passions, and abilities to fill a new role. Is it a little scary? Sure. However,  when I look back and understand what has brought me to this place and time, I am grateful. It's like climbing a densely wooded mountain trail. You know you are on the right trail but do not fully appreciate your position until you break onto the open ridge, now able to see from where you've come and what lays ahead. That, my friends, is a gift from God.


Stay tuned for more news in this developing story.