Thursday, October 23, 2014

Three principles to live by

I thought long and hard all summer but it didn't seem to help. I wanted to be able to challenge my cross country team with something profound, something they could ponder and use to muster up strength and courage when they needed it most. Personally, I thrive on motivational and inspiration"stuff." I'm the one who cuts apart motivational calenders, posting quotes all over my office. It makes me yearn and dream and strive to accomplish the impossible. I wanted the same for my kids but kept coming up short on anything that might have that effect.

But as so often the case, God came through with the right thought for the right minute. Our church began reading our way through 1 Thessalonians. Fortunately, I didn't have to read very far. In the first chapter there it was. Let me set the stage.

Team t-shirts
Paul and his sidekicks, Silas and Timothy, wrote a letter to the church in Thessolinica. The way they begin their letter might be likened to the way a coach addresses his team or a parent setting up the kids for a frank discussion. In other words, start out with the good stuff. Encourage. Don't discourage.

So what did they say? For starters, they said this:  "We thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thes. 1:2, 3). A few verses later, it gets even better. The writers let the church know that "you have become a model to all the believers" (vs 7) and the "your faith in God has become known everywhere" (vs 8).

Stop the presses! That's amazing. What a way for a group to be known: work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope. If the same could be said of me and my team, we'll be doing okay. But let's take a closer look.

Work produced by faith. If a skydiver had no faith that the meticulous packing of his shoot was going to do him any good, he might as well take a flying leap without his parachute and hope the clouds will become his trampoline. But that would be stupid, right? Right. As Christians, the faith we have in the grace of God and his saving power urges us on to work hard and carefully advance the Kingdom. The faith we are given urges us be just as meticulous as the "I don't want to die. I wanna live" skydiver in our daily work.

Labor prompted by love. What's the greatest deterrent to getting an employee to give the job all he's got or an athlete to bust a gut in practice? Lack of love. Yep. If you hate what you're doing, chances are you'll quit sooner than later. Of all people, our love for God should be enough to keep us motivated to selflessly reach out, meet people where they are, serve one another, and so become a
Team sweatshirt
testimony to the indwelling Christ.

Endurance inspired by hope. Picture this. A runner is 56 miles into a 100-mile race. The area is remote, he's puking, feet are ravaged from hours of being wet, and it feels like he is carrying a 150 pound pack. Every step is torture as he makes his way into a check point. He sits in a chair, shivering from dehydration and exhaustion. In front of him looms a huge climb up the next mountain and 44 more tortuous miles. Now, if he abandons any hope of  earning the finisher's buckle, do you think there's much chance of him getting out of that chair and proceeding on. No way! The only thing that would drive him forward is a real hope of making it to the end despite the circumstances. Believer, we can carry on because our hope in Jesus Christ is well-placed! We can--and must--endure.

My team and I are in the final weeks of our cross country season. So, what will be our legacy? What will we be remembered for? Will we be known for work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope? I trust that will be the case.





Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pre-season football and watermelon

On Friday, Aug 15, a few FCA staffers and volunteers had the privilege to challenge the young men of the Rustburg and Northside High Schools and serve them refreshing watermelon. WSET, the local ABC affiliate, was there to capture the action on and off the field.

Watch the news story here!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Transparent musings

I didn't think it would be this hard. 300 people at $25.00 a month is all it would take. Surely, folks can appreciate that ministry takes money. That's less than buying one cup of cheap (super cheap) coffee a day, one over-sized candy bar in the check- out line of Wal-mart fifteen times a month, or a $5.00 meal Dairy Queen meal special just a little over once a week. Seems to me many of us (including me), if we're not careful, can mindlessly blow twenty-five dollar bills pretty easily--and never really miss it. So theoretically, if it requires just 300 people to promise a relatively modest commitment per month, why is my upcoming FCA ministry not yet funded?

Now, please don't get me wrong. I am not complaining nor am I trying to have a pity-party, woe is
me session. Sixty-five individuals, families, or businesses have joined this team that is scheduled to take on the challenge of ministry to women coaches and their teams. Some of those sixty-five have given selflessly and sacrificially, being in ministry themselves. Every amount given, large or small, is accepted with humility and a pledge to use the funds with all integrity. I fully understand that of the countless worthy fund-needing ministries out there, my FCA ministry is but another.

I am absolutely convinced that God has led me to this point. And, if God is really in this, then He has already made it possible. At the moment, I just can't fathom how. I suppose it's like playing a huge scavenger hunt game with my Father, doing what I can to find the chosen ones who are temporarily holding onto the ministry-appointed funds for safe-keeping.

But it's hard. It's not natural for me to ask people to support my work as a missionary atop a sports-platform. I've studied the biblical examples and find support of missionaries a viable means to an end. I understood this reality even as a little girl. I gladly gave part of my own baby-sitting tithe to missionaries that spent time with our family while traveling on furlough. I still give. I'm comfortable with that. I like doing that. I've just never had to ask others to do this for me.

I fear that in the asking, people will see me ask for my needs before they clearly identify the needs of the coaches and athletes I wish to help. I'm afraid I will inadvertently make the message about me rather than God's work. I don't want that to happen. The goal of ministry is "to present to athletes and coaches, and all whom they influence, the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the church."  The values taught are integrity, serving, teamwork, and excellence. All great stuff and worthy of funding.

My simple desire is to be the hands and feet of those busy doing something else God-appointed. But this is the deal: Long ago God wired me to be passionate about athletics and the lessons begging to be learned. He gave me a heart for coaches and the influence they can be to their teams. He installed in me a deep desire to challenge, motivate, and inspire women, young and old, athlete and not, toward a mature faith walk. I must pursue this.

I'll be transparent. I'm a bit discouraged. $40,000 stands between now and the level that allows me freedom to begin focused ministry. I feel like I'm running out of friends and acquaintances to ask to join with me (although I am enjoying the widening ripples of meeting friends of friends of friends). In some cases, folks who said they would help have gone silent. I hesitate to make too many follow-up calls, not wanting to be pest-like or squashed outright like a bug. I wish I was independently wealthy. Having unlimited funds would allow me to jump right into the work of ministry. But wait. Maybe that self-reliance would be more of the problem than a solution.

Over lunch a friend matter-of-factly stated, "I'm glad you have to raise support. It keeps you on
your knees." I guess she's right. To leave salary behind and look to ministry ahead is a faith-leap right off the proverbial cliff. Once over the edge, there is nothing I can do to avoid hitting the rocks below. I don't like free-fall and the deafening roar created by the wind whizzing by my ears. Nevertheless, I know God can (and will) make the catch and plunk me back on solid ground. It's just a matter of His timing, not the deadline I set for August 1.

Bottom line? I need courage to believe, faith to continue, trust to experience God's faithfulness. Dare I think the next person with whom I share the vision could be the miracle I've been praying for? Or will I need to wait and see an army of teammates step to the line? Only God's timing will tell.

If you are interested in learning more about the journey that brought me to full-time ministry with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, feel free to read more: For such a time as this, Run the straights. Appreciate the curves The clock is ticking.. Linked by two X's Let go!

If you would like to be one big miracle or one of many soldiers, it's 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.)




Thank you for your commitments to this ministry.



I pledge to you my earnest service and integrity in ministry for the glory of God.  

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.