My 18-year-old granddaughter and Bible study partner, Karaline Beth Hayes, gave me a special Christmas card this year.
She calls (or texts) regularly to schedule our study dates. She will probably never realize what a treasured keepsake this has already become. Inside, she wrote:
“I love you, Gaga. I have really enjoyed our Bible studies and lunch dates. You have been the best grandma I could ever ask for. Thank you for showing me what it means to be a Godly woman and introducing me to God. You have made such an impact on my life and I could never thank you enough for the life lessons you have taught me.
As life goes on, I just want you to know I will always love you and cherish our relationship. I know we will always stay close. Thank you for everything. I love you so much.
And today, I prayed:
Thank You, Lord, for the gift of Karaline in my life. Please help her follow Your ways all of her days.
Revelation 1:3 (New International Version) promises a blessing.
3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
I discovered the beautiful truth in this verse personally in 2012 when our church embraced the READ Initiative. In addition to reading the Bible in our daily quiet time, a number of our members signed up for hour-long time slots to read the Bible aloud in the sanctuary. Usually, the only person present was the reader. But this didn’t matter. What an incredible experience to feel God’s strength rising up inside your soul and to grow more and more encouraged with each Scripture passage. We readers stepped into the greatest story of all time, and when we finished our segment, we were changed…braver, bolder, more compassionate, more convinced, and more in love with Jesus.
2015 begins our third consecutive year at Plant City Church of God to accomplish the read-through in approximately 120 hours.
Begin your own tradition this year. Let God invade your senses. There is power in the reading aloud and in the hearing your own voice speak His truth. I promise, He will be with you through every.single.word.
We witnessed some beautiful lessons this week during a state all-star T-ball tournament. Even though some of the tiny teams were not victorious as to the score, each of them were winners. No losers dimmed the shine at this event.
Our family was among those celebrating the championship with awards for MVP and team sportsmanship. And it’s always a wonderful thing to win. But even more important than winning this time, were the principles practiced in the process.
You would have been proud of all several hundred of these six-year-old athletes.
They gave the games their all and seemed determined to please their coaches and we fans. They honored the referees’ decisions and they focused on the goal of personal best for the team’s sake. They took a knee when any player was injured and they shook hands as both the victors and the defeated. And some shed tears at the loss.
We watched the losers learn from their experience and return with a more determined attitude to win. And we watched them never give up. They played with heart to the end.
The young boys were privy to watching adults compliment their team’s opponents for a game well-played or children well-coached. Families modeled togetherness as they cleaned up the dugouts and the seating areas so the next group could enjoy fresh surroundings. And with each game played, little boys took another step forward into manhood.
This tournament demonstrated the results of patience, hard work, practice, team play, fair competition, firm guidance and family support.
And as we saw it, every child was a champion.
Nothing warms the heart more than to see children surrounded by supportive families.
My husband and I spent yesterday with sister and brother-in-law at their grandson’s T-Ball tournament in Mulberry, Florida. Five men coached the Wesley Chapel team to two victories as parents, siblings, grandparents and friends cheered them on from the sidelines. It was a beautiful sight!
The young boys learning the skills, rules and sportsmanship required for baseball were also able to experience the thrill of competition, and of winning and losing graciously. This ball park was a classroom of sorts.
Reflecting back on the time we’ve invested in the sports of our own four grandchildren — soccer, basketball, baseball, tennis and cheerleading — I am reminded once again of the value of sports and healthy physical activity.
May we never lose the joy of being part of the game!
Dorcas Roberta Spooner married Robert Vernon Christensen after only six days of dating when she was 20 and he was 25. Their marriage produced three daughters and lasted until death (his, at age 42 from complications of diabetes, when she was only 37) do they part. I believe this was when the young widow began to draw on her own heritage of faith, established by her parents, Claude A. and Cora Esther Spooner.
Today would have been my beautiful mother’s 89th birthday. Before she died of cancer in 1995 at 70, her spunky spirit was still full of life and an even stronger faith. What a gift to we three girls to know our mother is now eternally in heaven with Jesus.
What a gift to have watched God answer her prayers for help in raising daughters alone, for help with provision and protection, and for help in teaching them how to be productive citizens. What a gift to watch her seek comfort, courage, and strength in the stories and wisdom of the Bible. What a gift to hear her sing and be taught by her the songs of our Christian faith.
Her love for The Lord has inspired me to trust God in every situation and with every need, and to rejoice in all things, even in the hard places.
And for that, I am forever grateful. Thank you, Mom, and Happy, Glorious Birthday!