BASEBALL AND LIFE

Those of you that know my family personally, know that my youngest son, LOVES to play baseball. He even played fall & winter baseball inside this past year and that then led to his first travel baseball experience! He was so very excited and stoked to play so many games as they were playing or practicing from November – July…a good nine months of baseball!
There was one game in particular where I was spectating that these thoughts came to me….It seems many principles of baseball are also fitting for this “game” of life. This particular game the team really came together, cheered each other on to really have that team spirit, communicated well on the field, made great plays and came out victorious even coming from way behind.
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                                                Tournament champs this day.

Lesson 1:  You win some games and you lose some games. 

Do you ever feel that way in your life? Some days you feel like you’re on top of everything and winning, while other days it seems like you just can’t win no matter how hard you try to be successful.
In the end, it really works out okay. God is still in control no matter what. With Him, we WIN and have the victory!
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. –1 Cori 15:57 (NIV)

Lesson 2: Some days you make all the right plays, but since we’re human, sometimes we make some errors.

 
No matter how hard we try, we still end up making some “mistakes” in this journey of life. We were not made to be perfect; only God is perfect. We need to learn from our mistakes and strive to improve everyday. It is so important to pick ourselves up, brush the dirt from us, and know each day is a new start. God loves us and forgives us no matter what. Our heart is what counts.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  –1 John 1:9 (NIV)
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Lesson 3: You may be called to play a few different positions in the game of baseball. My son pitches, catches, plays 3rd base, shortstop, or is in the outfield.

In life, we are all called to different roles. First and foremost you are a Child of God, then you might be a son/daughter, husband/wife, parent, doctor, accountant, musician, etc.
All of these roles have important qualities or responsibilities tied to them. The more roles that you find yourself with gives you more opportunities to touch more people’s lives and share the love of the Lord with them. The key is to always do your best in whatever role you find yourself.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  –Colossians 3:17  (NIV)
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Lesson 4: When a batter is hitting, sometimes they are thrown a strike, sometimes a curve ball, sometimes a fast ball, and sometimes something in between that is too high or low.

 
In this game of life, you never know what kind of “ball” life will throw at you. The key to success in life is to keep rooted in the source and refocusing your energy through loving the Lord. Your attitude and faith are what will make the biggest difference. Knowing that with God you can handle anything is a liberating feeling.
I can do everything through Him who gives me strengthen.   –Philippians 4:13  (NIV)

Lesson 5: You need to keep believing in yourself, your team, and never give up. It is not over until that last out!

 
It is hard when we start doubting ourselves and our abilities. Our confidence can plummet very quickly. Sometimes we need that person to encourage us along the way to help us get our confidence up. Learning to never give up and keep trying our best are key elements to help us make it through the tough times. It isn’t really over until our final breath.

For nothing is impossible with God. –Luke 1:37 (NIV)

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                                                  Team spirit! Go Bandits!
 

Lesson 6: Work as a team each member doing their “job” to the best of their ability. It is definitely a TEAM sport…No one person is responsible for the success of the team. 

 
God has given us the gift of family and friends to work together with.  Together is better and more can be accomplished when we are working as a team.
Have you ever experienced a major deadline or project at work? Didn’t things go much more smoothly when you worked as a team, each utilizing their talents and gifts that helped everything work together?
Can you think of times when someone came along side you and helped you see something in a fresh new way? Being connected to others can help us learn from others and expand our horizons.
For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. –Matt 18:20  (NIV)
 

Lesson 7:  No matter what, you need to keep fighting and giving your best even when the stakes are stacked against you. One small thing can change everything.

No matter how down and out you are, you need to keep pressing one and searching for the light at the end of the tunnel. A simple little turn in events can change the whole situation around. Don’t ever give up!
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  –Philippians 3:14  (NIV)
For me, it was a blessing to reflect on how something as simple as watching a baseball game could show me lessons about baseball, life, and the Lord.
Can you think of your favorite sport to watch or play and find some lessons about life too?
His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”  –Matthew 25:21  (NIV)

MY FAVORITE BIBLE VERSE

Ever since I was an older teen, my favorite Bible verse has been Romans 8:28,

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

A Christian gal that I knew slightly shared that verse with me at a difficult time in my life. That verse for me provides great encouragement and comfort which helps build and strengthen my faith, especially during the difficult times.

It is important to keep in mind the two conditions that are present in order for “God to work all for our good”—loving God and being called according to His purposes.

To me, loving God means coming to that point in our lives when we surrender everything to Him.  We begin to realize everything we have and everything we are is a gift from God.

Being called according to His purposes is knowing the Lord calls us to do His will and then following His will—not ours.

My faith is always strengthened by seeing how God truly does work things out for us. One example of this was about a year ago. My oldest son needed to have his wisdom teeth pulled, and we wanted it done before college started again and before our already scheduled, week long vacation. I thought it was going to work out for a Monday appointment which was going to be perfect.  Long story short was that by the time the Dr. saw the xrays, only 24 hrs after the initial phone call,  the Monday appointment was already taken by someone else. The next appointment they had was two weeks later. It was a big difference for us because that meant he only had 12 days to recover before our vacation. We weren’t sure how great he would be feeling or how hard it would really be to eat anything he wanted. (Especially because it was a cruise vacation.)

Thankfully, I thought about asking to be put on a cancellation list. I will admit I was not happy that my plan was not working out like I wanted it to or thought it should! I did reluctantly try to turn it over to the Lord letting Him work it out.

Much to my amazement two days later they called at 10:30 in the morning saying that had a cancellation for 1:15 pm that day! To make it even more amazing was the fact that my son had not eaten or drank anything since the night prior. If he had, they would not have been able to do the surgery because of the anesthesia. God worked it out perfectly for us. It was a great relief to get it done so soon especially since my son was so concerned and worried about the surgery. This way, he didn’t have more time to think about it!

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Another example in my life of God working things out for the good was when I recently received an email request to pray for a gal from our Bible Study who was going to be making a Women’s Retreat. The instant I got that email, I had this overwhelming feeling that I was suppose to be there as well. I wasn’t even quite sure what the retreat was like! My friend thought it was full which was indeed confirmed when I finally got a hold of the person in charge a good day later. This time I really felt that God would provide an opening for me to be able to go, and I prayed that He would work it out. Sure enough…two days later I got the call that a spot was available.  I then found out I needed a sponsor and had paperwork to fill out, but again, all that fell right into place even though the time was short before the retreat. I cannot begin to tell you what a blessed experience that retreat was, and I am so thankful God worked it all out.

It definitely was a God thing because as a follow up from this retreat you are suppose to have small group sharings and then bigger group get-togethers. During our 32 week Bible Study I felt that this gal and I were suppose to continue to connect after the Bible Study ended. I am thankful to say that tomorrow we are slated to have our second small group meeting, and it has been quite the blessing already!

Can you think of some examples in your life of God working things for your good?

It is such a comfort and joy to know that God takes care of everything and works it for our good if we love Him and are called according to His purposes.

No matter what happens or what comes our way, our loving Father is working it all out for our good—He is watching over us.  We need to remain faithful to Him and to keep loving Him.

The Lord watches over all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy.  –Psalm 145:20

THE SUNRISE

These words were inspired and quickly penned while I was enjoying a beautiful, God filled presence sunrise overlooking Canandaigua Lake during an amazing three day retreat this past weekend.
In retrospect, I feel so blessed to have experienced this view, not only one, but two days! I have to admit I usually am not an early riser, but because of the time schedule of the retreat, they woke us up early every day!
I wish I could have captured the moment with an awesome picture so you could really SEE the view with your eyes, but no cameras were allowed. So, sit back and try to visualize the scene…..I hope you will be as blessed as I was.
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Photo credit by lam_chihang under Creative Commons License (CC BY 2.0)
Bright morning sunrise in the sky
Reflecting upon the water
Radiating out
Just like you and me
Radiating the Son in our lives.
Then appeared one bird
Quickly followed by a second.
And then a third
Reminding me of the
Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
That third bird
Lasting in the sky
The longest
Reminding me of the
Holy Spirit’s ever presence
In our lives.
There was an L-shaped cloud line
Encompassing the sun
In the sky
Reminding me of God’s arms
Always surrounding and
Enveloping ME.
After about 15 minutes the cloud line
Disappeared reminding me of the
Son’s encompassing love and
Inclusion of us ALL.
All different kinds of birds
Were singing their songs of praise.
All in praise of their Creator
Reminding me to do the same.
It was another grace filled moment experiencing
God’s presence in creation and a definite
Reminder for me of the “Sonrise” in our
Hearts with Christ as the center.
Be still, and know that I am God.  –Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
The heavens declare the glory of the God; the skies proclaim
the work of His hands.  –Psalm 19:1  (NIV)

OUR AWESOME GOD

Isn’t it truly amazing and mind-boggling to think about how awesome our God is?

I was overwhelmed with this thought as I looked at the vastness of this earth while cruising up some 37,000 feet in an airplane.

Our God is so awesome that He has more knowledge, wisdom and power than all the people in this world put together.

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Photo credit by Frank Kovalcheck under Creative Commons License (CC BY 2.0)

I started to think how man has used his brain and technology to do so much over the years.  Man has the knowledge to design and make airplanes that can fly over 500 people and all their luggage half way across the world.

Yet, man doesn’t have the power to design and create the space the plane travels through.

Man can make computers that produce mathematical calculations in hundredths of a second that would take a day to do by hand.

But, man can’t control or calculate the length of his life span here on earth.

Man now has the wisdom to perform delicate brain surgery, and in most cases have the person lead a “normal” life.

Yet, man doesn’t have the ability to create a human brain, or revive it once dead.

As I continued to reflect on the vastness of this earth and our awesome God that created everything, there was one thought that really amazed me.

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Though I am such a little, little part of this vast earth, with all it’s surroundings, all the animals and all the billions of people in the huge world, our awesome God has the capacity to know, love and care for ME! 

How everything, even my life, can be under His control is so awesome and mind-boggling!

Our God is so awesome that He does the same for YOU! 

He knows, loves, and cares for YOU!!

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How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth! –Psalm 47:2 (NIV)

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  –Psalm 8:3-4 (NIV)

THREE SIMPLE THOUGHTS

Recently, I saw two movies that left me with a few inspiring thoughts. They are simple things, but hopefully worth pondering to see how they can benefit you, and how you could incorporate them more into your daily life.

1-HAVE COURAGE 

One definition of “courage” is: “The ability to do something that frightens one.”
Can you think of some things you’ve done that took courage to do?
—Taught a Sunday school class?
—Ever gone a trip by yourself?
—Ever gone back to school after many years?
I think with doing any of these things, they require a certain degree of courage.
I think if you practice courage, you will end up having more faith in yourself and your abilities. In turn, you can experience more things, not be so afraid and grow more as a person.
Some of you may know recently I was in New Orleans and was truly blessed by taking my first air boat swamp tour by myself. I actually pet, fed and picked up a gator’s tail! Needless to say, I have never done anything like that before, and actually the week before I was “mad” at myself for not having enough courage to hold a horseshoe crab that a stranger had picked up to show us.
So, I’m not sure if that is why I felt compelled to just do the gator things, or because it was really a most relaxing, peaceful environment where there was so much beauty. Thankfully, I didn’t really “think” about doing those things, I just did it.
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                                         Feeding the hungry gator!
It was great because there were only three of us on the swamp tour and I was in the front too. At the one point, I even got to put my legs/feet across the seat so the gator came right up on the boat and went from one end to the other right in front of me! (I might have held my breath for that!)
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            The gator crossing our boat right in front of my legs!
So, I encourage you to try to face things with courage. If you have courage, it seems like you can face anything with a better attitude and succeed!
For the brave of heart who want to see me “catching” a gator, check out this short video:
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love. –1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV)
2-BE KIND
I like this definition of “kind”: “Having or showing a friendly, generous, sympathetic, or warm-hearted nature.”
 
Wouldn’t this world be an even better place if everybody was kind to every person they met? Being kind doesn’t cost anything and it is a great way to live. It is something we can ALL do, everyday! It can have a big impact on a life.
—That stranger you smiled at…he was feeling all alone.
—You saying that silent prayer for the elderly couple who can only shuffle their feet along as they leave the soup kitchen…I’m sure God blessed them because you cared.
—That person you surprised by paying for their coffee….you gave them hope by your small act.
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Be on the look out for how you can be kind to all those you meet….Open the door for someone, encourage someone with a positive word. Your life will be blessed as well as blessing another.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.  –Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
3-HELP SOMEONE TODAY
 
The one movie had this quote that I thought was worth sharing: “If you believe the purpose of life is to only serve yourself, then you have no purpose. Help someone today.”
Wow…I think that is great advice! See how you can help someone today!
I’m sure you’ve heard me say before that I truly feel happiest when I am helping another. It brings me happiness to do whatever “little” thing I can do to bring the love of Christ to others. In giving of ourselves, we give ourselves purpose.
What are some ways you can help someone today?
—Give an encouraging word to someone who is having a really bad day.
—Offer to stop at the store for a shut-in.
—Take time to understand how someone might be feeling.
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Photo credit by grapefrugten under Creative Commons License (CC BY 2.0). Words added by hopetoinspireyou.wordpress.com
Daily, see how you can help another. You will feel refreshed and renewed!
…serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  –Galatians 5:13-14 (NIV)
For me personally, trying to practice courage helps me realize that with God, I can do more things outside of my comfort zone. Doing that helps me grow as a person and in turn maybe reach out to others more. Trying to be kind and helping others seems like a natural extension of trying to share the Christ in me with others. Such simple things to be the hands and feet of Christ.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. –1 Corinthians 12:27 (NIV)