About this Blog

The purpose of this blog is to encourage your personal, daily walk with Jesus Christ, by seeing Him through the eyes of Mark Rodriguez. Updates will be made regularly so please subscribe. Most posts are taken from Mark's private journals or written by his mother unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Stay In It

THINKING IN POSTS (from www.markrodriguezphotography.com)
I recently read a post by a favorite singer of mine that really got me. She was talking about how she’d reached a point of shocking realization that whenever anything cool happened, she would “think in posts,” basically meaning she’d start composing a tweet or pulling up Instagram to capture the moment.
I can really connect with this. I have had many moments in life where I’m just in awe of God’s glory, oftentimes when I’m alone in nature or after being with loved ones. Those moments are so personal and sacred, but sometimes, as strange as it sounds, I kill them by beginning to devise a post in my head. I start thinking about how I’ll phrase it, if people will “like” it, if I’ll get any comments in response. And by the time all that’s done, the  moment is gone.
I’ve realized how simply sad it is to be a slave to social media. And I’m ashamed to say it, but I have definitely used Facebook and Instagram in the past as a place to give myself glory, to create an identity for myself that others will appreciate. And it’s such a bummer that there have been incredible, personal moments with God in my life that have ended as a couple hundred characters and a few hashtags just because I wanted to see what other people think of me, what they think of my life.
There’s a scene in the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty that struck a similar chord in me. Walter Mitty had been searching for this photographer Sean O’Connell the whole movie, and he’s finally found him perched up in a mountain, scouting for snow leopards through a lens the size of a cannon. Eventually, a snow leopard is seen through the lens, framed beautifully by snow capped peaks. Walter watches in eager expectation, waiting for O’Connell to take the shot. Finally, anxious that the moment is about to pass, Walter turns and asks:
“When are you going to take it?”
To which O’Connell replies: ”Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.”
“Stay in it?”
“Yeah. Right there. Right here.”
There are so many incredible places and people all around me, so many blessings and moments that I can’t even fathom. When I stayed on an orphanage in Nicaragua for a month last Summer, I’d go out for these prayer times where I’d sit on a work bench, all alone, and just pray surrounded by ridiculous testaments to God’s wondrous ability to create. I remember one time I was just resting on that bench, relaxing in God’s presence, surrounded by beautiful mango trees that rustled as a light breeze filtered by. And I am so thankful I didn’t have my camera then, because there was overwhelming beauty all around me and nothing to take my attention off of it.
I don’t want to think in posts. I don’t want to be constantly checking to see what people think of my latest photo, or my latest status. Sometimes, I’ve just gotta turn off my radio, turn off my iPod, turn off my phone, and just be thankful, engaged with life and engaged with God. Because I know when I do that, I feel fulfilled in the most amazing way.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


I loved watching Mark run.  The Norfolk Christian Cross Country team was a small band of guys and girls that ran hard, encouraged one another and left their hearts on the trail.  The sport is unique in that you win and lose as a team, but only you can run your race…there is no passing a ball, handing off a baton, taking turns at bat…it is you and the course in front of you.   And you hope there are some fans on the sidelines cheering you on. 

When Mark was 12 years old, we decided to run Mark’s first official race together.  As my boy was getting older, running was something I could share with him as His mom.  As we trained, he would share stories from school, and I heard the latest events happening in the Percy Jackson books he loved. It gave me a chance to encourage him as he learned to pace himself, and I knew it would not be long before he could easily out run me.   As we neared the end of our training we realized that the timing of our Fall vacation (with my extended family) to Bald Head Island coincided with the annual Maritime Classic Road Race. 

Bald Head Island is a small, hilly little island off the coast of North Carolina.  You can only drive golf carts there and it feels very remote.  The scenery is beautiful and it was a place we both loved.  The race was a perfect fit.  I remember the pre-race nerves as we gathered with the other runners at the start.  My family was all there on the sidelines; my brother and sister, their spouses and children, and my parents were there hanging out with Will, Daniel and Maria.  We had lots of support.  But because of the nature of the island, there would only be a couple of places we would see them, and much of the course we would run without any spectators. 

The gun sounded and we took off.  We were mindful of the starting adrenaline and tried to manage our pace.  It was exhilarating.  My family was cheering and dancing as we passed them and we felt great.  But as the race went on, the course turned onto a part of the island that is one rolling hill after another.  We would not see our family until the finish line.

We had not trained for hills and my older body wasn’t loving the incline.  Mark kindly slowed his pace a bit and started telling me more stories.   It was then that it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen hardly any young boys running.  And as he slowed to accommodate his old mama, I told him, “Hon, I am thinking you need to run ahead.  I haven’t seen many other boys running, and I think you might have a chance to place in this race.”  At first he refused.  He said we had trained together and he didn’t want to leave me.  I assured him, I would be fine.  That I really, really, wanted him to run his best race.  I told him I would see him at the finish line, and to TAKE OFF!  And he did.  As I saw his small frame sprint ahead I eventually lost sight of him and was left to finish the last mile or so alone.  As I finally came out of the hills, my body loosened up and I picked up my pace.  I was so curious how he had finished, and I couldn’t wait to see him at the finish line.  As I came into the harbor area, the crowd was cheering their loved ones in, and I saw my family, and Mark, excitedly cheering for me.  "Go MOM!  Run it in!  Almost there!  Go!" It was awesome. 

The larger group headed back to the house to make lunch, but Mark and I decided to stick around for the awards.  We hoped he had placed, but to our great delight the Race Coordinator announced that Mark Rodriguez had won 1st place in his age bracket.  We went nuts.  This was the first and only race he would win on this earth.  We reveled in the glory.  As he walked back through the small crowd with his “trophy” we were beaming at each other.  Who knew it would turn out like this?  What a day!  And then we heard the next surprise…”The First place winner in the 35-40 age bracket for the 25th Annual Bald Head Island Maritime Classic Road Race is….Leigh Ellen Rodriguez!”  What????   What???? That can’t be.  I have run my whole life and have never won a race.  NEVER.  Not even close.  Mark and I whooped, jumped, victory danced, our way home with our trophies in hand.  Team Rodriguez owned that race. 

God so kindly has brought that memory to my mind over and over these last 10 months.  I am reminded that while Mark finished his race earlier than I have, I still have some miles to go.  The terrain is hilly and lonely, and I get really tired.  I am so thankful for the crowd on the sidelines helping to spur me on.  Mark ran his race so well, and he finished so strong.  With God’s help I hope to do the same. 

Mark is now out of my sight, but I know we run after the same goal.  And sometimes, I think I can hear him cheering me on "Go Mom! Run it in! You are so close!" In honor of him, to the glory of Christ, I will push on. 

“ I will run, and I won’t quit.  Chasing your heart…just like David did.  I’ll come running through the gates, looking to your face…Oh I can hardly wait” 

Happy 18th Birthday, Mark!  Thank you for showing this Mama how to run the race well.  I’ll see you at the finish line.  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

As It Should Be

3-31-2013 (Easter)



Death has lost its sting.  You, though you died, defeated death and rose so that I may relish in eternal life with you.  I don’t understand.  How was my sin, my rebelliousness, my spite, my narcissism worth that? I know, your death and resurrection brought you glory, but why would you want me to give you praise?

I think it may be because when I praise you, it’s another victory.  When I praise you, it shows your triumph over darkness because that which was once sin has been made beautiful.  Your light has pierced my darkness, I have become a new creation. 

Thank you.  Thank you for sacrificing so that I may have this.  Walking...and feeling the gentle breeze of your breath on my skin, reminded me how undeserving I am.  How blessed I am!  To experience so much joy, so much peace, and know that the best is yet to come. 

Thank you.  Thank you so much for giving air to my gasping mouth, blood to my empty heart, sight to my blind eyes.  I may be undeserving, but you are deserving of whatever I have to offer. 

Here is my heart.  My soul.  My voice.  My arms, my feet, my eyes, my tongue.

I am yours.  Though my mortal body will fall and decay as the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, my soul has seen light. 

And someday, my final chains and ties shall melt to ash, blown into oblivion. 

No more fear, no more pain.  Just eternal consuming love.

As it should be.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015


You have purposes for me Lord.  You have reasons you created me, some that I may never even know.  Father, I don’t believe I can stop your plans, but I do believe selfishness will stop me from becoming who you want me to be.  Help me recognize it, God.  You can do work through me no matter where my heart is, but I believe your purpose involves me loving others.  Humble me, Father; do whatever it takes to truly make me a servant.  Fill my life; fill me simply with what I need so that I may have you as my sustenance.  Thank you for giving me so much more than I deserve.  Take away all idols and any sinful distractions.  You want to be intimately and invasively involved in my day; I invite you in.