A Hearty Breakfast, the Word of God.... & Baseball!
by Nancy Stinson
It was a rainy February afternoon in Oregon and I longed for springtime and baseball season to begin. My students know I love baseball and how that love is intensified whenever my son or former PAES student and current Oregon State Beavers pitcher, Beau Day are playing. Maybe checking the Oregon State Baseball schedule for Beau’s next home game would help ease my blues. Watching Beau and the Beavers play would be good therapy. As I searched the website, my attention was grabbed by the featured video “Inside Corner with Matt Boyd, A Day in the Life of a Player.” Only a few minutes into the video I was grabbed again when this Beaver player said, “I begin each day with a hearty breakfast and the Word of God." The video showed Matt to be a man of faith who put family first and ball playing second. What a role model, I thought, for young men like my seventeen-year-old son, not only on the field but off as well.
Not long after seeing the video, God put it on my heart to pray for Matt. One morning during my devotional time, I was reading from Tony Dungy's book Uncommon Life. The book’s focus is to use your platform, however big or small, to glorify God. I felt I needed to let Matt know that what he was doing off the field was making an impact for God and I wanted him to have a copy of the book. A few days later during morning worship with my first grade class, I shared about Beaver baseball and Matt. I told the children that while I didn't know Matt Boyd personally, I was certain that he loved Jesus as much as we did and that we should pray that Matt would continue to share his love of God.
So we prayed … for Matt …for Beau … for the team. The next day during our prayer request/praise time, a student asked us to pray again that Matt would continue to let his love for Jesus shine. Thus began a weekly Monday morning “Beaver Baseball Briefing" by Mrs. Stinson. I'd share how they had played over the weekend and we'd lift them up in prayer for continued witnessing, good health, and success in school. In our class we give “Heartprints” to others to thank them for blessing us, or as a way to encourage and support. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
One afternoon the students wrote letters to Matt – Heart-prints, if you will. The expressions of love for Jesus and others, the questions they asked of Matt, and the pictures they drew were priceless. One drawing was of Matt pitching surrounded by angels with the caption, "God's Angel Army is always by your side." We packed up the letters and the devotional book and talked about the purpose of a Heartprint—to "give of the heart" and not expect to receive anything in return.
Imagine our surprise the day when we heard back from Matt! Our silent screams turned to joyful noisy ones! Matt had sent each child a signed NCAA PAC-12 autographed baseball with his favorite Bible scripture, Psalm 18:2. He also wrote a letter sharing what joy our pictures and letters meant to him. He said he placed them in his locker as a reminder that he plays for reasons that are bigger than baseball. He went on to address each child by name and answer a question they asked of him. What a remarkable young man of faith and character! Furthermore, he addressed my son in the letter as well. He knows he is a pitcher and suggested he read the book, Seven Days in Utopia by David Cook. Matt has two scriptures written on his baseball glove—Psalm 18:2 and Philippians 4:13. In addition, he has "SFT” on the glove, which stands for "See God's face, Feel God's presence and Trust God's love.” This brings him peace when he faces doubt and trouble while pitching on the mound. So far, Matt has had an outstanding year and looks to be drafted in June. The book and message made a huge impact on my son and I've shared the book with many others.
Long story short, we had to meet Matt Boyd! The OSU Beaver team came to Portland for an afternoon game so we loaded up the bus and headed to meet Matt and Beau. It was an impactful and treasured few minutes. The children asked lots of questions, and both young men were so kind and made the kids feel special. We ended our visit holding hands and praying to our Heavenly Father who brought us together and made us friends. We hope to have Matt visit our school in the fall and share his love of God during School Family Worship time.