The Heart of a Champion

Secretariat

Job complained to God about his circumstances and God answered, ” Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane? Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting? His paws fiercely rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray. He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword.” Job 39:19-22

Those are the opening lines in the Disney film, Secretariat. I happened to catch it on T.V. a couple of weeks ago.

The movie is about a champion, a thoroughbred racehorse named Secretariat. Secretariat was not any horse.  He won the Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness, And Belmont races) in 1973 setting records that to this day haven’t been broken. This phenom was named athlete of the century not just for his speed (he won the Belmont by 30 lengths)  but because of his undying endurance and unstoppable spirit to run. To finish the race. By way of  inheritance he had the heart of a champion.

All thoroughbreds are fast (that’s why they’re racehorses) but not all have that something extra that lets them keep going and going.  A drive to finish.

Secretariat was unique in that his father, Bold Ruler was known for speed but his mother, Somethingroyal was known for her unusual endurance. At his death Secretariat’s heart was estimated to weighs a whopping 22 lbs (a normal thoroughbred’s heart weights about 9 lbs and a human heart weighs 8-16 ounces).

This horse  inherited what made him special. What made him different. What gave him the ability to do what seemed the impossible.

The movie tugged at my heartstrings (well of course it was Disney). When  I saw the drive of this animal I saw a human element there.  As his hoofs pounded the dirt and he drove to the finish I cheered him on from my couch! I wanted to be a Secretariat. I wanted the will that kept him going.  The fearlessness to push through.

And then it dawned on me…. through my spiritual inheritance I do have this!

Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that we are to ….” run with perseverance the race marked out for us”. Which is to say God has marked out a purpose for each one of us, for each season in our life and we are not to give up on whatever God has given us to do.  No matter how difficult it is, we are to run with it.

Sometimes what we’ve been given seems impossible.  But God will never call us to do something for which He does not provide a means to accomplish it.

As  believers, followers of Jesus, we can be like Secretariat (in human form of course). We have the  power living within us to endure, to persevere, to keep going in whatever God has called us to do.

How?

When we accepted Christ as Savior and Lord we were adopted into the family of God as sons and daughters. 1 John 3:1.

At the time we were  grafted in (adopted) by the Father through faith in Jesus we received the Holy Spirit  guaranteeing our inheritance and we were blessed  with every spiritual blessing  in Christ (Ephesians 1:4-14). Ephesians 1:19-20 goes on to say we who believe were given  incomparably great power.  The kind of power that’s like the working of God’s mighty strength that raised Jesus from the dead.

Okay, that’s some BIG power! I’m just say’n… More powerful than any racehorse!

But most of us walk around this world not even half  knowing this awesome power God has given us. Instead we try to accomplish everything by our own do-it-yourself handbook.

Secretariat was born biologically to run out his race and he never knew anything different. We weren’t born that way.  But through faith in God’s son Jesus we are supernaturally reborn with the ability to run and finish what God has given us to do.

So what has God called you to?

Has he called you to parent a special needs child?  You might wonder where your race is taking you and where it might end.  During those times you think, will I make it another day?

God whispers, yes you will.

Are you in a daily struggle to keep your marriage from falling apart?  When you’re thinking, is it worth it?

God whispers, yes it is.

Has He called you to stay the course with an unruly teen?  You might feel you’ve done everything humanly possible and now you’re at your wit’s end.  You pray to God, what else can I do? I can’t take this kid another day.

And God whispers, yes you can.

He says, yes you can finish even when you don’t know where you’re going because I know where you’re going.  You are not alone. My Spirit lives within you. The Spirit of power. The Spirit that   perseveres.

God asked Job, “Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane? Do you make him leap like locust, striking terror with his proud snorting ?” (Job 39:19)

The answer is no.  But God does.

God also gave a certain racehorse a heart  to accomplish what seemed impossible. That same God has given us that heart through His Spirit so we can do what otherwise seems impossible.

We may not have a 22 pound heart like Secretariat but as believers inside each of us beats the heart of a champion.

{This article was written by Christy Mobley.  Christy is a girly girl at heart. She has a passion for fashion and decorating which is to say she loves clothes and accessories and moving things around her house. She chases tennis balls for recreation and enjoys scavenging the beach for shark teeth.  She and husband David are life group leaders and have been at Chets from it’s earliest beginnings. They have been married for thirty years and have two adult sons and two daughter-in-laws.  Christy loves sharing God’s Word through writing and teaching and has recently joined the Chets Women’s communication team and Bible study team. She invites you to join her on her blog “Joying in the Journey” at www.christymobley.com.}

Event Recap: Chets Women Serve at Christ Church Food Pantry

Job losses during the Great Recession of 2009 impacted many Jacksonville families who had never before faced a financial crisis. Some were even forced to go without such basic needs as food. Many families could not be awarded food stamps because their prior reported income levels were too high, yet these families needed food right away.

Back CameraThat’s when Christ Church’s Kathy Clements and other members decided to do something for their own families who were so terribly impacted by the recession; and on June 20th, 2009, Christ Church Mandarin held their first ever food pantry event. They served just one family that first Saturday. Their next events served three families and then eight families and before long 100 families. The number of families they serve has increased ever since. As of June 8, 2013, Christ Church Food Pantry had served 10,480 families or 41,432 individuals. Most people will seek help from the food pantry two to three times until they get back on their feet. Others are disabled and cannot work at all.

Those needing food usually arrive around 7:30 a.m. Every family in the parking lot at 7:30 is given a numbered coupon the other half of which is placed in a container. The coupons are mixed and there is a drawing of 150 coupons. Each drawn number is matched to the ticket holder’s number and the holder is given a card numbered between 1-150. No additional numbers are given out and those 150 families are the food pantry’s clients for the day. Kathy Clements explained, “We don’t turn the other families away entirely. I ask for their I.D. and get their information and then they can get food a couple of days later.” This labor of love has Kathy working voluntarily almost 7 days per week.

Kathy Clements shared with me that as a child, she “grew up needy” and as a result she has a great deal of empathy for others suffering in the same way. Several people told me that Clements is the main force behind the success of the food bank but she is adamant that it is the power of the Holy Spirit that has fueled the success of this ministry. As of June 8, 2013, they have had 3,532 families ask for prayer and 75 families have come to Christ just from their interactions with the food pantry.

Back CameraChets Women and girls showed up at 8:45 to pray and receive our work assignments. It was so moving to see God’s hand at work as everyone gave their time for this beautiful cause. Alisha Calhoun (leader of the Unleash team) and I stood watching some adorable little girls who had formed a production line passing bags of food to fill carts. Overcome with emotion Calhoun gave her huge smile and with her adorable southern accent she said, “This just really makes my heart swell!”

There are no paid employees and the food pantry relies solely on volunteers. The pantry is only open 24 times per year and Clements explained if everyone would volunteer just once, they would have more than enough manpower to keep things running smoothly. The food pantry needs volunteers to help distribute food, administer prayer and assist with general organizational matters. If you are interested in helping out at the food pantry please contact Carrie Shriver at cshriver2013@gmail.com.

Back Camera

Matt 25:35 & 40 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” The King will reply, Truly I tell you whatever you did for one of the least of my brothers and sisters, you did for me.

{This article was written by Leslie Layton.  Leslie left the corporate world to pursue women’s ministry and she obtained her Master’s Degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  She hopes to help women of all ages through her writing and her volunteer work.  Leslie oversees the Transformation and Discipleship portion of the women’s ministry leadership team.  She is currently involved two discipleship triads and she will be facilitating Bible studies in the fall on how to convene successful triads.  Leslie mentors grade school girls and volunteers at First Coast Women’s Services.  Leslie has been married to her husband, Charles for 10 years. She and  Charles have 3 grown daughters from his first marriage and they are parents to 2 special needs dogs, Chester and Gracie.}

Honoring those who stand in the gap

I have heard the phrase, “stand in the gap” in church circles recently. Pastor Spike spoke recently in his sermon series about Daniel standing in the gap for the doomed counselors who could not meet King Nebuchadnezzar’s unreasonable expectations. Daniel couldn’t meet the expectations either, but he knew God could (Daniel 2: 14-19). Sometimes the specific calling God has for someone is to stand in the gap for others.

I’ve also heard the phrase, “stand in the gap” in the context of praying for others who are too weak spiritually, physically, or emotionally to pray for themselves. Certainly, God calls all of us to stand in the gap with intercessory prayer.

These concepts are understandable, but the Biblical origin of the phrase “standing in the gap” was still unfamiliar to me so I did a little research. In other words, I googled it and this is what I found:

Ezekiel 22:30
“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.”

I am definitely not a Bible scholar, however, according to my understanding, this verse is referring to the physical wall of protection that the Israelites built to protect themselves from the enemy. Periodically, a gap or hole would occur in the wall creating vulnerability to enemy attack. In order to protect God’s children, a person would need to answer God’s call to literally stand in the gap of the wall. In the time of Ezekiel, God was calling, yet no one answered the call. When we talk about “standing in the gap” in Christian circles today, we are referring to those who have been called to stand in the gap for those who are physically, spiritually, or emotionally vulnerable.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day 2014 have come to a close. For many, there is a sigh of relief. When children have gaps in their family wall, pain – not celebration – often occurs during these holidays. They become vulnerable. Yet, we know that children are precious gifts from God (Psalm 127:3). And, Jesus teaches us to protect them and guard them (Matthew 18:10).

I remember my days as a single mom. This was not a situation I had planned for. One of the overwhelming feelings I frequently had was that despite the world’s message of “a woman can do anything a man can do”, one thought haunted me. The one thing I absolutely could not do was be a dad for my children. Who would fill the gap for my children when I could not?

Philippians 4:19 says, “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”

I wish I could say that in my spiritual strength I claimed this verse for my children, but I didn’t. What I can say is that looking back, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit interceded during this time in my life when I was so anxious and confused that knowing what to pray for eluded me.

Romans 8:26-27 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

Clarity and seeing God’s provision often comes with a rear-view perspective. Looking back, I can see that God placed (and continues to place) godly men in the gap for my children. Almost immediately, one elderly friend began picking my son up to go fishing or to a football game and would give my daughter a sweet hug and verbal affirmation. Over the years, men at school – teachers and coaches – have given godly discipline and Biblical teaching in ways very different than their female counterparts, and I have seen my children respond to this difference. Eventually, I met and married my husband who sets a wonderful example of a husband and father for my children. Grandparents, camp counselors, youth leaders, and others that I may not know have filled the gap, and I am confident in God’s continued faithfulness and provision.

At one time, I spent a lot of time focusing on the gap. Now, I can see God’s provision and am very grateful to the men who have answered the call in filling the gap.


{This post was written by Eve Huntley. Eve is a wife, mother, business manager, student and Southerner. She and her husband Joe married five years ago, blending their families. Their five children range in age from 12 to 23. The two oldest now live on their own, leaving three kiddos at home with three rowdy dogs! In other words, they have a super quiet and peaceful home environment…. NOT!  God has given her a passion for helping families with marriage, parenting, and family-of-origin issues.}

A God Who Doesn’t Tire of Teaching

Something that I personally struggle with is following God’s plans. At times, I just say, “I’m too busy” or “I’ll get to it.” But God doesn’t ever let us forget he’s right there waiting for us to follow through. He doesn’t tire of teaching or reminding us of his plans, which is amazing. His love is greater than we can even imagine. I’m amazed in times of struggle or joy how much God has taught me on the journey.

In these past few months, there have been personal battles in my own life. I was so deep in hurt and despair that it took God physically moving something inside of me for me to rise up out of the darkness. Once there, I could see what had happened and I literally said to God, “so this is what you’ve been trying to tell me for the past few months!”

Isn’t he amazing? He never left my side, and even through the darkness I could call on him.

I recently reflected on what I went through and thought of the times that Jesus taught those around him. He taught lessons through parables and he often told more than one story to get his point across. He took his time and kept laying out lessons for his followers.  He did so then and He does so now.

As a mother, student, and friend, I find that God tells me things multiple times because I haven’t quite grasped what he is saying. As we grow in our relationship with God, we might not be perfect or think we have enough time, but God is right there waiting for us to learn. He’s ready to teach us over and over until we finally see what he has planned.  This verse in Psalms comes to mind:

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever — do not abandon the works of your hands. Psalm 138:8

This might be something you want to add to your prayers. Pray for a teachable spirit as you seek what God has in store.  It is hard and challenging. But if we accept his guidance, oh the wonderful things he will provide in our lives. Our God is amazing and the fact that he loves us even when we push him away is awesome.


{This post was written by Rachel Della-Loggia. Rachel is a single mom of a sweet 7 year old girl named Emmalee.  She works full time and is also working on her Masters Degree in Business Management.  She is originally from Abington, PA, but has lived in Jacksonville for 23 years.  Her favorite things include spending time with her daughter, reading…and butter popcorn jelly beans!}

Happy 4th of July From a Million Miles Away

China

For as long as I can remember the Fourth of July has always been my favorite holiday. I love patriotic songs, all the food involved, the overall feeling of patriotism, and – most of all – the fireworks! From the time I was in second grade, I wanted to be a wife, a mother, and The First Lady. I thought being The First Lady was the most patriotic thing I could do.  (I wanted to dress like Jackie O and decorate the White House, too, but I digress…)  In high school, I met David Denning. Not long after, this man would become my husband, and a Naval Officer.  Marrying a Naval Officer was the icing on the cake for a girl who loves her country.

After we attended college, Dave commissioned May 2011 and our journey into active duty military life began. We began the journey with some experience  in the Reserves while he attended school, but that was it. Let me tell you ladies, being active duty was a whole ‘nother ball game for us! I was not prepared for all of the time we would spend apart. When he commissioned, we had a 2 year old and a 5 day old. He deployed two months later. In my mind, he would only be gone when he was deployed. It was hard, but I knew to expect it. When he came home, though, he had something called duty days. That meant every six days he would spend 24 plus hours on his ship to stand duty. Every six days he would not cuddle with me in bed, every six days I would be with the babies alone all day and put them to bed by myself, every six days no matter the day (even Christmas), he would not be there.  On top of duty days there is underway time. He has been gone for weeks at a time for different exercises that his ship has taken part of. Last year, he did not deploy, but with the combined underway time, he was gone a total of 18 weeks. We have only been in the military a total of 6 years, and 3 of which have been active duty. I applaud the families who have been in for so much longer and have spent so much more time apart. We are just at the beginning. Becoming a military wife has given me a new perspective and I am thankful for that.

This Fourth of July, while still my favorite holiday, will be a hard one for me. My treasure, my soul mate, my husband, is currently deployed. He has not yet been gone a full month, so we are just at the beginning of this long time apart. Lord willing, he will be back in time for Thanksgiving and for the birth of our fourth baby.  I try to keep it all in perspective but it is still hard. Doing life every day without him is hard. Taking care of our three babies under age five without him is hard.

america the beautifulThis Fourth of July, I feel bittersweet. While I sit on a blanket with our three children watching fireworks, celebrating America’s birthday, my husband will be celebrating in Bahrain. It doesn’t feel right to celebrate my freedoms while my husband and many others are far away still fighting to defend those freedoms. I am so proud of our troops and especially my husband. He sacrifices so much to defend and protect our country. It can be so easy for me to get mopey and discouraged when I am self-focused. God had blessed our family tremendously and He has a plan for us. Even during our time apart, God is using us and has a plan for us. We are right where he wants us to be. As I think about the words of the song America the Beautiful, I think of our beautiful country and my heart swells for love of my country, even though I believe our country is moving further and further away from God. As I watch the fireworks this year, part of my heart will be missing. But I can rejoice in the fact that God is still God and He is in control. His love for me is endless and He brings healing to my hurting heart. God has given me a verse for this season in my life, Joshua 1:9…

Joshua 1:9. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I want to be strong and courageous like my husband and I am confident in the fact that God is with me wherever I go (and wherever Dave goes)! Enjoy this holiday. Enjoy the songs, the fireworks, the desserts and your families. Feel proud to be an American and remember our troops still fighting for our freedoms and the freedoms of others. Try to always be thankful for time with your loved ones and hold them close. Rejoice in our freedoms as Americans but, more importantly, rejoice in our freedom that we have in Christ! Happy Birthday America! Happy Fourth of July, ladies!

{This post was written by Reta Kae Denning.  Reta Kae is the proud wife and high school sweetheart of David, a Naval Officer stationed here in Jacksonville.  They have three beautiful blondes: a girl and two boys, and one more on the way!  Reta Kae likes smiling, shoes, shopping, reading, being at the beach, 80s music, Christian rock and roll, vanilla iced coffee, eating out, seeing a movie in a theater, and just being around family!  She serves on the Chets Women team as leader of small gatherings.}

Getting Crafty: 4th of July Fun!

This week, I have been wracking my brain for some creative little handmade 4th of July crafts to share with you ladies.  A little “just for fun” post in between the stellar lineup of storytellers we have here at Chets Women.  But with all sorts of crazy going on in our house in the past week, it just didn’t happen.  That is, until my intern-turned-co-worker Sarah walked into the office with these adorable little flags!  Bless her!

Photo Jul 02, 4 50 25 PM

Here’s what you need:

jumbo craft sticks

4.5 x 5 inch piece of construction paper or card stock

acrylic paint (red, white, blue) and brushes

star stickers

pipe cleaners (red, white, blue, silver)

a glue gun or some sturdy tape

Photo Jul 02, 1 17 00 PM

Sarah is so awesome that she not only shared her idea, she took play-by-play photos of the process as well (while simultaneously conducting a speech therapy session).

Here’s how it’s done:

1) Paint your craft sticks.  This should be done ahead of time, giving plenty of time for them to dry.

2) Glue the sticks in a flag formation onto the construction paper.  If you’re feeling adventurous with children around, hot glue is best to support the weight of the sticks on the paper.

                  Photo Jul 02, 1 23 38 PM                    Photo Jul 02, 1 27 04 PM

3) Bend a white pipe cleaner and secure each end onto the top of the flag as shown (this enables it to hang, so definitely use hot glue on this one, or – if you don’t have that – some sturdy tape will do).

        Photo Jul 02, 1 28 36 PM        Photo Jul 02, 1 29 08 PM

4) Turn your flag back to the front and add your star stickers.  Sarah had some cute foam stickers with good adhesive (they also added some dimension to the flag).

Photo Jul 02, 1 30 35 PM

5) Wrap additional pipe cleaners around a pencil to create the squiggly shape.  Hot glue (or tape) those to the corner on the back of the flag.

Photo Jul 02, 1 31 19 PM

6) And there you have it – a cute little flag hanging wherever you wish!  Add words or a name to make it your own!

Photo Jul 02, 4 50 25 PM

What else are you doing to prepare to celebrate the 4th of July?  I have seen a lot of chalk board designs lately…and A LOT of red, white, and blue spirit thanks to the world cup.  Please share what you’re up to, we’d love some other ideas!

{This article was written by Laura Wilson.  Laura is wife to Aaron and mommy to one sweet and silly little boy.  She serves with Chets Women by leading the Communications team.  As a mom and pediatric speech language pathologist, she carries an artillery of cheerios and toys everywhere she goes.  She loves learning more about the Lord from his word, her family, and Starbucks.}