Sew it Begins…Different Tools – Different Tasks

Hmmm… Let’s take a peek into my sewing box as I pull out the tools needed to make BJ’s DWR quilt.

 

Scissors. Will probably need them.

Rotary cutters? Yes, will definitely need them…and tin foil.

Rotary Cutters and tinfoil
Tinfoil helps sharpen the cutters until you can get a replacement blade.

Needles, needle threaders, thimbles, thread and snippers…yep. Got to have them. Oops, almost forgot the baking scrapper.

IMG_4010
The basics for my sewing corner.

The wooden tube needle holder piqued my interest. See it beside the yellow thimble? It was in the things inherited with my mom’s collection of sewing supplies. Printed on it is Boye Needle Company, Chicago, Illinois. “BUY NEW SHUTTLE if machine skips stitches or breaks thread.”  I wondered just how old it may be. So, I went down a few rabbit holes on the web searching for information. Well, come to find out it’s circa 1909-1929… aaannnddd…I just happen to have the treadle sewing machine that it belonged to sitting in my living room. There’s still thread on some of the shuttles in its tool drawer. Grandma's sewing machine.This discovery brought some sweet memories. The machine belonged to my great grandmother and was passed down to my grandmother. I remember “riding” the treadle as a little girl at grandma’s house. She never scolded me for playing on it. It was inherited by one of my mom’s 5 sisters when grandma died. Aunt M gave it to me when I got married. My children used to play on the treadle too. Remembering how I played on it and was never scolded, I couldn’t scold them when they broke the fly arm on it. They deserved the same grace I had received.

Back to my sewing box…

Will probably need a tailor’s cloth measuring tape and yard stick. Most definitely an acrylic ruler and several cutting mats.

Straight pins and quilter’s safety pins for sure. 

Seam ripper? Wish I could say I wouldn’t need it. But, you know that old saying don’t you?

Seam ripper
“As ye sew, so shall ye rip.”

 

Brushes for cleaning out the bobbin case, and teeny tiny screwdrivers for adjusting its tension. Let’s see now. What else? Oh yeah, a utility knife, cardboard sheet cake mats,

Utility Knife & sheet cake mat
I’m always seeking ways to repurpose items and save money. Instead of buying quilt templates, I make my own with inexpensive cardboard sheet cake mats.

a carpenter’s measuring tape, freezer paper, masking and painters tape, and bandaids.

Bandaid thimble
Again my repurposing. Instead of buying an expensive leather thimble, I wrap two bandaids around my thumb and ring fingers. I can still feel the needle to help guide it and my fingers don’t become sore from the constant pressure. See the worn spot? That would have been my finger. Ouch!

I didn’t think I had many sewing tools until I began listing them. Were you surprised when I pulled out the baking scraper, tin foil, sheet cake mats and bandaids?

God has many different tools in His toolbox (the Church). Each is special and has a special purpose. We expect to find scissors, needle and thread in a sewing basket. But not the baking scraper, sheet cake mat and tin foil. In the same way, many times we only expect God to use our pastors, priests, elders, or Sunday school teachers for sharing His grace and love. But really, God wants to use each of us, you and me. He has created us unique and different. Different tools for different tasks. He wants us to use our gifts for Him.

“Different tools for different tasks.”

Now think about how each of the items taken out of my sewing box could be used by God and who might use such a tool. For example: the basic sewing supplies, needle, thread, scissors… may be used by a missionary in teaching a sewing class or a seamstress making tops to be shipped to underprivileged children; the baking scraper may be used in preparing desserts for a homeless shelter; the carpenter’s measuring tape could be used by a construction worker to help build houses for Homes for Habitat; the freezer paper used to wrap meals for hurricane victims or teaching preschool children a fun craft. 

Now also think of other tools, gifts or abilities God has given them, or you and me, that can be used for His glory and to share His grace with others. Can you sing? Can you play a musical instrument? Do you have a gift for writing? Do you enjoy drawing or gardening? What about sports? Ever thought about volunteering in a soup kitchen or perhaps painting a little ladies’ fingernails in a nursing home? Perhaps you could take an elderly friend to shop, or just take them out for a scenic drive.

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve the same Lord, and we can each do different things. Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do. The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (CEV)

All are great tools. However, God’s word is the most powerful tool that has been given to us. We must make sure we have it in our toolbox for everyday life. It provides guidance, promises of peace and assurance in times of troubles.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic that’s causing fear to arise in many folks, I find comfort from God’s word in today’s meditative message. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Phil.4:6 (ESV)

Sometimes it’s not easy to “not be anxious,” not to worry and be fearful. That’s our natural tendencies when something comes into our lives and disrupts it’s normal flow. But, trusting in my God who loves me with an everlasting love and allowing my faith in His sovereignty to uphold me, I’m not panicking. I’m carrying on in my daily fashion. I continue to purchase a two week supply of groceries, as I always have. I don’t rush out an hoard items that I already have on hand. There are others who may need it. I wash my hands often and practice good hygiene, as I always have.  I pray daily and thank God for my blessings and lift others up in need, as I always have. And since starting on BJ’s quilt, I work on it daily without fail. 

Do you have any tools that you use for different purposes? Are there sewing tips to help save your fingers? Do you have a favorite scripture verse that whispers to you? I’d love to hear about them.

The quilt is coming along nicely. Come back later to see how it’s progressed. It’s really starting to take shape.

Until then…praying you have a blessed week and stay well. 

(Remember to wash your hands often!)

Leaky Eyes

When my daughter and husband packed up their children, dog and all their earthly possessions and moved from the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains to the shimmering coastal islands of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, there was much excitement and anticipation of what the future may hold for them. They were embarking on a new journey. Their mountain friends and neighbors threw going away parties for them, gave them many departing gifts of remembrance and some even helped load furniture. I was there to offer a helping hand with the grandchildren. One of my daughter’s friends who was also there helping, kept commenting, “I’m not crying. I just have leaky eyes.” I must admit, witnessing the love and friendships shared by their mountain friends made my eyes leak too.

That was four months ago.

Sand and Surf
A boy longing for the sea

The sand and surf was a draw to the grandchildren,

especially the middle child. After all, being around water is in our blood. All of the male relatives on my dad’s side of the family were or are fisherman (mostly of the bass species).

Surfs up
Surf’s up!

The mechanics of the first airplane at Wright Brothers Memorial, located at the end of the road from their beach abode, and the area

Lighthouse
A guiding light

lighthouses drew the oldest grandchild’s attention. The youngest grandchild, being a little social butterfly,

Playmates
Playmate found

          was excited to meet new playmates.

What began as dreams of  an “island life” turned into an extended adventure of reality.  They learned that when the tourist season ends, most businesses also close. The 800 square mile area goes from a vibrant, buzzing community of 225,000+ folks from May to September, to a population just roughly 35,000 when the tourist season ends. The limited supply of merchants from which to choose from for necessities may require a drive to locations one or more hours away.

Just shortly after moving to the coast, evacuation orders were issued for Hurricane Florence. This was a new experience for them. They made the 3 1/2 hour drive to my house and stayed with me for the week. Shortly after returning to the island, they were struck by Hurricane Michael. No evacuation order was issued for Michael. Forecasters didn’t expect the island to receive much impact, if any, from the storm. Not so. The sound side waters flooded the bulkhead protecting Colington Island. My daughter and what few permanent residents who live there found themselves cut off from the main OBX island for several days. Many of the residents lost much of their belongings. My daughter was fortunate.

OBX Michael flood
Hurricane Michael’s aftermath

The water did not make it inside her home. Again I had leaky eyes. I was so relieved no harm had come to my daughter and her precious family.

Being a family who enjoys experiencing the outdoors (hiking especially),

Sand dune hikes
Footprints in the sand

the arts and culture, and sports, they were saddened to learn the opportunities were somewhat limited. It’s sand, surf and limited soccer. (Now don’t get me wrong. These three things are some of the middle grandchild’s favorite things! The sand not so much the mama’s. It’s a constant battle to keep sand out of car, the house, the washer & dryer…you name it. Sand finds a way in.)

However limited the opportunities or remote the humble abode they rented, they enjoyed their time on the island and look forward to many future vacations there. Notice I used the past tense. Seems God may have been using the experience to grow them in other ways and called them back to the mountains. 

Let me share with you how God blessed them through all of this.

My son-in-law’s previous employer recently called him and offered his position back, and he accepted. One of my daughter’s clients upon hearing she would be moving back, because she would be local again, increased her contract. One of her other clients had let her telecommute with the move to the coast, and is allowing her to continue to work from home upon her return to the mountains.  The children are able to return to their previous schools. And, because two offers on the sale of their mountain home during the past four months fell through, they still have their home. (God grace is sufficient and abundant! My eyes leaked.)

Their experience these past four months brought to mind my favorite bible verse, 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. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”Romans 8:28-29 (NIV)  (And of course my eyes leaked again.)

In the course of a week after being offered the new positions, learning their house is still theirs, and the kids being able to pick up where they left off at their previous schools, they again loaded up their belongings and made the return trip to the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains on December 17th.

When they drove up they were met with loving neighbors and their mountain “family” waiting with leaky eyes and open arms for their return. As they entered their home they found this.

BlueRidge Friendship
A Blue Ridge homecoming

This too, brings to mind another precious scripture verse.

“Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy,

    for good friends are like the anointing oil

    that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence” (Proverbs 27:9-11 TPT)

And you probably guessed it, I have leaky eyes again.

May this holiday season bring remembrance of the One who blesses us with sweet friendships that bond us as family with many brothers and sisters.

Merry Christmas!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I praise you and offer up a heart of gratitude for your protection and provisions. I thank you for the special friendships that make us family. Bless the readers this holiday season. May they receive the best gift of all, the friendship and assurance of Christ in their lives. – Amen

A Tapestry of Life

Life is woven by a mysterious tapestry that we often don’t see until its end approaches for ourselves or a loved one.  

tapestry-threads.jpg

As we go through life many of us only see the ugly tangled threads running in seemingly disarrayed directions. Some are short stitches, others are knotted together with ends loosely dangling. God revealed to me over this past week just how He has been weaving a beautiful tapestry in my life.

My mom passed from this world into the next this past Thursday. I was not by her side when she took her last breath. It came much sooner than we had expected. When we arranged for Hospice care, we thought she had several weeks, perhaps months before the congestive heart failure and pulmonary fibrosis would take her from us. 

As this was the first week of Hospice care, I had yet to meet the whole Hospice team.

When I met with the Hospice nurse I discovered that she is married to one of my husband’s 2nd cousins. This had to be in God’s divine plan. I had never met her. Nurse Jessica is a very sweet and compassionate person. I think perhaps by she discovering that she would be ministering to a family member, her care became more compassionate. (Is that even a proper sentence? Forgive me if I seem to be rambling. I am still finding it difficult to put together coherent thoughts.)

I discovered the Hospice chaplain was a childhood friend of ours. His brothers and I and my brother rode bikes together when we visited my  grandparents. Even his parent’s and mine were friends in the neighborhood where my dad grew up. I had not seen Chaplain Jarrell since he was about nine years old. His middle brother, Elbert, would give me rides to school when we were in high school together. I did not see Elbert for many years afterwards, until he and I would carpool our own children. Our families lost touch with each other after we moved from that city over 15 years ago. We connected again through FaceBook in recent years.

Mom’s baby sister came by to visitor her the day before mom passed and offered to give me a break from sitting with mom the next day, after she discovered that I had had no relief for over a week, since my brother had been sitting with his 39 year old son who had just suffered two heart attacks and was going through a triple by-pass surgery. It was difficult for both my brother and myself to be torn between two loved ones in life crisis situations. (Oops. Another lengthy, perhaps incoherent sentence.) So it was Aunt Maggie and the Hospice chaplain that was by mom’s side and witnessed a peaceful passing as she succumbed to death. It gave my brother and me much comfort knowing that mom was not alone.

It brought such joy to my heart when I saw a row of bikes lined up in the parking lot and I walked into the chapel and saw the CMA colors ministering as mom’s pall bearers at her celebration of life ceremony yesterday.

One may think they served out of their CMA love for me and my husband and because CMA is “there when you need us”.  But as I look back over the years of my family’s life I can see how it was orchestrated by God in His divine plan for our lives, and it too was part of the beautiful tapestry.

When my brother and I were meeting with the funeral director this past Friday and trying to pull together the details of mom’s service, we came to an impasse. We could not think of a single family member or friend of mom’s who would be available or physically capable of being a pall bearer. After all, she would have been 88 years old this December and was the oldest of eleven siblings. After some thought, my husband and I suggested our CMA family. My brother was in total agreement. We placed a call to our chapter president and his reply was, “Absolutely.” 

Since mom had been in failing health for many years and unable to attend church, she had lost contact with any minister who now knew her personally. I did not want a stranger officiating her service and I wanted someone who also knew the family. We sat again mulling over possibilities, when a voice seemed to whisper to me “Milton.” So, I mentioned his name and how he fit into the equation of our lives and the CMA life. Again, my brother was in agreement. 

A phone call was made and even though Milton already had other time commitments for the afternoon of the service, he said absolutely he would be honored to minister, and rearranged his schedule. 

Needle

We knew nothing of the needle being threaded over 65 years ago that would fashion a CMA blanket of comfort for us.

Milton’s parents and my mom’s family became friends before he, my brother or I were even a glimmer in our parent’s eyes. 

Milton’s family and mine would become neighbors when I was only 6 years old. He & his siblings and my brother & I would spend many hours playing together and helping with each other’s farm chores. He would share many meals with us. He enjoyed my mom’s homemade buttermilk biscuits and southern cooking as much as we did. I have a picture of him and his sister gathered around the table at one of my birthday parties.

Later in life, Milton surrendered his life to Christ and served as pastor at one of the many fine C.O.G pastorates in the area where he ministered to many of my mom’s siblings.

Even though I had heard his name mentioned by my several of my aunts and uncles over the years, I had not personally seen Milton since my family moved from the neighborhood of our childhood farms while I was in elementary school. Then one night, at a Henderson, NC chapter CMA meeting, our paths crossed again. I learned that he was part of CMA and even road his bike quite frequently with my Uncle Hank, who was also once an active CMA member. Later, I had the pleasure of visiting the church he was the pastor of during a CMA event.

Three years ago, God moved on the heart of CMA leaders to begin a new chapter in Youngsville, NC. We moved our CMA membership there and they all became our loving brothers and sisters in Christ and are closer to us than our church family or our physical family.

Sitting with my family gathered in one of my uncles homes after the service yesterday, I had a sweet conversation with my mom’s oldest sister, who is now 86 years old. She made this comment to me, “D, several years ago Ellen and I were discussing the probably of death soon approaching for us. I asked her who she thought she would like to preach her funeral. She told me Milton Abbott. He brought such a beautiful service. You did good. 

Mom had prearranged most of her funeral details over 20 years ago after the death of my stepfather, but had left that information blank. Mom had never shared that bit of information with either of us. Aunt Martha’s statement confirmed that my brother and I had made the correct decision.

God weaves a beautiful tapestry of life we can hardly comprehend and orchestrates our  comings and goings in mysterious and wonderful ways. 

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but Lord directeth his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 KJV)

A dear CMA sister reminded me today of this today. I received a sweet email from her that said:

“It’s so like our God to have the provisions for our every need in place long before we ever could know how one day, they would take center stage when great need arises, and so it was with your mother’s “home going”. 

Though we should never be surprised at God’s forethought concerning our needs, we always seem to be so shocked to see that He’s been long at work putting into place all the details of our lives and those of our loved ones. Truly…He knows our needs long before we ever pray.

Even you readers are woven into this tapestry as you allow me to share bits of my life as God continues to whisper words of Grace and Mercy into it. I hope you are able to find bits of encouragement and inspiration through them as well.

fancycrave-224904-unsplash

Words cannot begin to express the love and appreciation I have for each person in this tapestry formed by the Masters had.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, your peace that passes all understanding is for each of us. I cannot begin to fathom the depths of your love for us. In times when we think we are forsaken, we have to but turn to your word to find comfort and hope and promise. When we allow others to minister to us in your name, there we find you in then midst. When in faith we surrender our hearts to you and your son, there we find life of abundant Grace.

You know I have yet to allow myself to grieve as I have many logistics to navigate in legalities of estate execution. When the time comes for the healing release I know that You will be there beside me, beginning to weave a new tapestry for my life. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! – In Christ name I pray, Amen.

A Homegoing

The phone rang at 1:05 p.m. this afternoon. It was the charge nurse at the assisted living complex.

“You need to be here on site immediately.”

I was temping at my old office an hour away. “Lord, redeem my time!,” I prayed. I pulled into the parking lot at the assisted living facility at 1:40 p.m.

I rushed through the doors and down the hallway to my mom’s room. I was too late.

Pulmonary fibrosis had ceased mom’s lungs from working. She had gone home to be with the  Lord.

Mom’s youngest sister, only 6 years older than me, was sitting in my place beside mom’s bed. The hospice chaplain was also there. They told me it was a peaceful passing.

The afternoon seems a blur now. Phone calls made to her seven other living siblings. She was the oldest of eleven. Calls to my children to let them know their Gma-E had passed. Gathering personal belongings that would not be donated. The thirty mile drive home seemed like a hundred. “God give me strength,” I prayed.

I shared with a CMA sister how mom and I had some precious times together this past week. It was as if she was making amends for all of her hurtful behavior over the past several years. Each time someone would visit or a care giver would enter her room, she introduced me and told them how much she loved me and how she appreciated what I had and was doing for her. Something that she rarely has done over the past 30 years. I had to swallow a huge lump in my throat several times.

My CMA sister texted back…

“Oh D. What an awesome gift! How like our God to give you such precious hours and moments to wash over you and fill you. And how gracious is His love to see your mother so sweetly ushered into His presence.

It is such a release when you know the pain, anguish and fear are gone, replaced by the glory of eternity, forever with Him.

Though we know the longing will persist and come at the most unexpected times, the knowledge of a reunion in which all the hard things are erased, is a treasure of great hope.”

When death occurs in my family I tend to go into cleaning overload. I do laundry, sweep and mop floors, wash dishes… I find it soothing to be busy. So, between phone calls and texting tonight, I cleaned. I did laundry, washed dishes and swept the front porch.

When I finally slowed, I took a few minutes to read my FaceBook messages. There was one from another friend from another CMA chapter that spoke volumes. She had reposted a post from “Spirit Food for Thought.” It said…

Jesus Whispers…

You may be facing something today that is greater than what you thought you could handle. This is the battle of life. Some days you will fill stronger than others. Today remember that when you are weak I am strong.

I will carry you through this dark hour and bring you to the other side that is full of light and hope.

You are stronger that you think you are.

I thought how appropriate. She had not yet heard of mom’s passing when she had posted the message.

I’ve received a deluge of texts and phone calls from my CMA family tonight. “Family” is not always a blood relative, it’s a “heart” relative.  I love my CMA family.

Each and every message, be it phone, text or FaceBook,  I consider to be a whispering of grace, reminding me that He’s got me during this time too.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, what a mighty God you are. You give strength to the weak & weary, peace to the battle torn & lonely, healing to the suffering and hope to the hopeless. You are my rock when others forsake me. Hallelujah! – Amen

 

1st Quarter Retirement Ends

“If we see our lives as a pilgrimage, then it becomes an integrated whole. It makes sense.”

The first quarter of my “retirement” has come to an end. I believe God has indeed been “repurposing” my life. “How do you know?” I’m glad you asked. It’s been a wonderful first quarter.

 I’ve learned to slow down and enjoy things I used to take for granted.

I really enjoyed the first few weeks of “me” time renovating the bathroom and repurposing items around my house. I especially enjoyed sitting on my deck in the early mornings and watching the moon in the evenings. 

Moonlit Meditation
Moonlit Meditations
Morning Mimosa
Morning Mimosa

I’ve developed a new joy for baking and developing new recipes along the way.  

Some bombed and some turned out scrumptious. 

Peach Preserves
Homemade Peach Butter
Peach Cobble Bubbling
Bubbling Peach Cobbler – a major fail. I’ll stick with my original recipe.
Lemonaid Pie
Lemonade Pie – The Key Lime pies didn’t last long enough for the photo shoot. A new favorite!

   

Chocolate Banana Nut Muffin
Sugar Free Chocolate Banana Nut Muffins

I prayed that it would be revealed to me how I could minister to others now that I am no longer enslaved to a corporate time clock. 

I have an old friend whom I had not seen in several years. She was injured in a tragic motorcycle accident in May, totaling her bike and putting her in ICU for four weeks out in Tennessee before being transported back home to a CCU rehab for another two weeks. The accident broke all of her ribs, her left shoulder and her left leg in two places. If she had not been wearing complete safety gear she would have lost her life. (I have a new appreciation for modular helmets.) She was told she would be in a wheelchair for up to six months. I was blessed to have been able to sit with her weekly and help during her major recuperation. Praise God she is now able to walk with the aid of a walker. If I had been working, I would not have had the opportunity to spend the time with her as she healed and we reconnected and strengthened our friendship.

Sitting With CMA family
Sitting with CMA family

I also had the opportunity to sit with a friend in my CMA family whose husband had to have esophageal surgery. The day started out at 11:00 a.m. and ended at 10:00 p.m. Other CMA brother and sisters came also. We had the opportunity to also minister to other bikers who were waiting in ICU for word about one of their club members who had just gone down in an accident. 

C.M.A . . . .”THERE IF YOU NEED US.”  

Just this week, a missionary friend/prayer partner and I reconnected. She is fostering special needs infants and can use some support and encouragement as she and her husband juggle missionary commitments with low income families and caring for two babies with life threatening medical needs. I will be meeting with her weekly for prayer and coffee and running errands for them such as grocery shopping and helping tidy the house.

Having time to devote to my family.

My son-in-law just accepted a teaching position at Kill Devil Hills, NC. So my daughter’s little family relocated from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Outer Banks last week. She called and wanted me to come help out with the children and drive my husband’s pickup truck with a load of lawn care supplies across state. 

My what a trip! We left the mountains at 4pm. Son-in-law driving a 26’ U-Haul towing a car; daughter driving their van loaded to the hilt with plants and what-not; me bringing up the rear with the pick-up truck loaded down with lawn gear… we were a caravan driving down the mountains in torrential rain. Each one of us with extra special cargo sitting beside us or in a back seat, the children. We finally made it to my house at 10pm. We rested the next day (sorta) and took the kids to the science museum. The following day we were up at the crack of dawn and on the road again to the Outer Banks. It was a special week for us. I got to spend some extra one-on-one time with each of the grandchildren. Something that I haven’t had the opportunity to do before. It was heart wrenching to pull my self away when it came time to leave. One was saying, “Gra’ma can’t you stay just another night?,” and another saying, “Gra’ma can’t you stay for a year?” Oh, be still my heart. I left with promises of being able to come and visit more often. A three hour drive is a lot closer than a four hour drive. 

My husband and I are looking forward to future motorcycle trips down Hwy 64 east. 

Hwy 12
Leaving the Outer Banks. Alone with my thoughts along Hwy 64.

Just yesterday, I had to make some tough decisions concerning my mom. I receive a phone call the day before from the assisted living complex that  mom lives at, telling me she was being transported to the hospital. Yesterday, during my visit to the hospital, the medical staff informed me that mom has a touch of pneumonia with congestive heart failure. This was not the news I was expecting to hear. Mom is 87 years old and not in the best of health to start with. 

The transition nurse came in mom’s room and asked what our plans were for mom’s future health care. I just sort of looked at her like a deer in headlights as thoughts swirled around  in my head. My brother and I had just recently discussed drawing up new POA papers and the possibility of Hospice care. This news seemed to force our hands. So, as of today, I will be having mom sign the new set of documents to include  Medical POA and Advanced Directives that the old POA documents did not include.

Listening to God

This is why I believe the above story tells how God has been answering my prayer for repurposing my life.

This summer I’ve been doing a group study of the book, “A Praying Life” by Paul E. Miller.

He talks about working your prayers. He said for him it is a three fold pattern and shared a story from his life of how it worked. He says he first wrote down the prayer. (Yep. I did that. Readers you are witness to it in “Repurposed”.) Then watched for God to work while he prays.  (Yep. I kept watching to see how/if things would unfold.) Finally, God provided an opportunity where he, Paul Miller, “worked” the prayer request. Meaning God involved him in his own prayers, often in a physical and humbling way. (Can you see how God was involving me?) Mr. Miller referenced the scripture about the farmer spreading the seed then watching and waiting for harvest time, then harvesting the crop. (Mark 4:26-29)

Mr. Miller talks about prayer journaling and how to hear God speaking through them; writing down your prayers and reflecting on them, meditating on scripture, God’s word and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in you and through you. For me, this blog is one form of my prayer journaling. It helps me to “hear” the Whisperings of Grace in my life as I reflect back on what has been happening, my responses and how I can see God at work in my life. I find hope and feel the peace that my faith in Christ gives.

Mr. Miller wrote at the end of the Prayer Journaling chapter:

“If we see our lives as a pilgrimage, then it becomes an integrated whole. It makes sense.”

Prayer:  Father God, Thank you for the pilgrimage you have guided me through this summer. I look forward to the journey to come. I pray that mine and each reader’s pilgrimage becomes integrated with you as we make sense of your will for our lives. I pray especially for the person who is seeking hope and peace and purpose. In His name, who is our hope and peace, I pray, Christ Jesus – Amen.

Making a Difference

Changing the World One Heart at a Time

We left home at 9:15a.m. Our hopes were to meet up with other members, from the CMA (Christian Motorcyclists Association) Warriors of Truth Chapter 1360, as they approached the intersection of US 1 and Hwy 96. They had planned for KSU (kick stands up…meaning they would leave) around 9:00a.m. from breakfast at the restaurant just 10 miles south of us. We approached the traffic light hoping to see our fellow riders and merge in with the group. None were in sight. I eased my Suzuki Boulevard out onto US 1 N and settled into a good cruising speed. My husband followed on his Honda Shadow. This was my first road trip in over six months. Hubby wanted to follow to keep an eye on me.

The weather was perfect, slightly overcast with sunshine peeking through the clouds once in a while.  Temps were a little cool with promises of heating up later in the day. The mesh motorcycle jacket added enough windbreak without being too heavy. Traffic was light…just the way I like it. I had a fresh piece of gum in my mouth. I was ready for the 45 mile drive north to Brewer Cycles where our chapter would meet up with two other chapters for the annual CMA “Run for the Son” fundraising event.

RFS 2018
Hubby insisted that he get a picture of me in front of a  Brewer’s sign and I conceded. I don’t usually. Helmet hair is not becoming.  I’d rather be behind the camera, not in front of it.

I kept watching my review mirror, but never saw our group. We arrived about 15 minutes ahead of them. Seems they were late leaving and stopped to pick up two other bikers before heading on to the meet up. It was all good though. They were glad to see that I drove my bike.  

RFS bikes begin to arrive
The bikers begin to arrive! The sun was starting to get hot and it’s not quite 11 o’clock!

It would begin with a beautiful 100 mile circle countryside ride up into Virginia across the John H. Kerr Dam and back down into North Carolina, ending at the Shiloh Family Campground on Kerr Lake near Middleburg, N. C., with a catered meal of eastern style chopped pork bbq and crispy fried chicken with all the sides, and of course sweet tea.

Going over the road rules
Gathered around for the road rules before the big ride.

What is CMA and Run For The Son, and what does it  have to do with making a difference? I’m glad you asked.

We always pray before mounting the bikes
We always pray before mounting the bikes.

CMA started back in the 70’s as one man’s effort to reconcile his relationship with his son. But God had a much bigger plan. A plan to reach out and minister to the hurting in the  motorcycle community. Today CMA is over 1,000 chapters in 38 countries guiding many thousands of people to a reconciled relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Praying with other bikers at a stop along the route
Praying with bikers we met at a cooling break along the way.

This is achieved by attending motorcycle rallies, tours, races, etc., helping serve where needed, be it directing traffic, picking up trash or handing out cups of coffee, and conducting worship services at these events whenever possible.

Campground arrival
The Run for The Sun group riders arrive at Shiloh ready for some shade!

“Run for the Sun” is the one and only fundraiser that CMA does. That takes place the first Saturday in May. It started as an effort to provide one motorcycle to a pastor in Guatemala. From that simple beginning, it has now provided transportation in the form of motorcycles, bicycles, horses, boats, camels (yes, camels), horse & buggies, snowmobiles and wheelchairs to more than 13,000 pastors, evangelists, and Christian workers in 105 countries.

The CMA vision statement is “Changing the world, one heart at a time.”

You can learn more about CMA on its website at http://www.cmausa.org/ministry/.

I hope you will give it a visit.

If you had told me 5 years ago that I would be driving a motorcycle, and that I would be serving as an officer in a local chapter, I would have said you were crazy.  But now, now I am blessed to be a part of this motorcycle community. I have developed friendships and relationships that are closer than family. When a CMA member tells you, “We are here if you need us.,” they truly mean it.

RFS celebration with food and fellowship
Run for the Sun celebration with food and fellowship. A great way to end a great day!

If you or a loved one is a motorcyclist ever need assistance with something, contact a local CMA chapter and they will be happy to help. We are God’s servants…changing the world, one heart at a time.

Heavenly Father, watch over all the motorcyclists on the roads today. Give them clear vision, attention to their surroundings and quick actions in an emergency. Protect them from distracted drivers, debris in the roadway, and darting animals. May their journey lead to you and perhaps they to can Be the Change  in someone’s life. In Christ name I pray. Amen.

Autumn, Winter, Now Spring, Oh My! A Road of Good Intentions.

 

And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” – Exodus 33:14 (ESV)

And it was a good rest for me.

Time stands still for no one. Has six months passed already? Seems like yesterday that I was writing about a “dark night of the soul.”  My goodness how time flies.

There’s an old saying, “The road is paved with good intentions.”  I intended to share the progress of how the “dark night” turned into a brighter day. I intended to share a little each day or at least weekly. Yet, somehow just like traveling down a road in the dim light of dawn, suddenly the day is ablaze as the sunshine brightens one’s way. It seems the long dark night turned into day in the blink of an eye.

A family vacation on Tybee Island, Georgia was a great start to a new day. My daughter and her family met me and my husband at a house she had rented for the week. Both our vehicles arrived within minutes of each other. The grandchildren, scrambling out of their car to lay claim on the bedrooms, brought their own air of excitement to a promising week of rest and relaxation. My son was able to join us the following day.

SUNRISE ON BEACHThere is just something about listening to and watching the ebb and flow of the surf that is sooooo relaxing for me. It has a hypnotic rhythm that I find peaceful. The morning sunrises and evening moonlit strolls and star-gazing with the 11, 9 and 6-year-old grandkids added another dimension of joy. Eating freshly caught shrimp at a backwater grill or take out pizza on the veranda at the house, surrounded by laughter and board games was priceless.  I had my family with me for a week. All was good in my world. Tick-tock…the time went to quickly.

The Christian Motorcyclists Association (CMA) had its NC state rally at Black Mountain, NC in September. That was a great time filled with wonderful fellowship. Some bikers stayed at a nearby KOA campground, some at local B&B’s, some rented cabins or vacation rentals and others stayed at the conference center where the rally was being  hosted. The Blue Ridge Parkway is beautiful in Autumn. BLUE RIDGE(A plus side to this rally was, since my daughter lives about thirty minutes from there, I was able to have lunch with my grandkids during some of the free time. I’m the typical  “gra’ma.” I want to see those kids and spoil them every chance I can!)

JESUS LOVES BIKERS 100The CMA offers a special ministry to travelers during the holidays. We set up tables at local rest stops along the interstate highways and provide free drinks and snacks to travelers. Kids, and men especially, enjoy looking at the different motorcycles.  We offer listening ears and prayers for those who ask for someone to talk with.

At Thanksgiving, I was blessed to have spent time with a lady traveling back home after visiting with a daughter who is suffering from PTSD caused by a stint in front line battle zones. We shared hot chocolate while we talked about families and life concerns. At the end of our conversation,  I prayed with her. She wiped away tears, gave me a hug with a “thank you” and walked back to her car with a smile on her face.

The holidays seemed to have arrived in a blink of an eye.  My children came home for both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. This was the first year in about 16 years that my husband and I didn’t have to travel for the holidays. I must admit, it was nice.

I came to terms with a difficult decision I had been wrestling with for over a year at my place of employment. I knew that they had been discussing a probably policy change that I would have difficulty supporting. My husband, however, made it so much easier to finally make the decision. I shared an email with him that my supervisor had sent out stating the new policy had been passed. My hubby simply said, “You don’t have to back.” I insisted on working a notice though. So I resigned, giving a month notice on November 3, ending nearly 10 years of service with the employer. It was a difficult decision. I enjoyed my work, co-workers and the freedom to minister to others. My position offered flexibility as no other job ever had.

I had given my notice. November 30 was fast approaching. Now what was I suppose to do? I began making plans. I’d go into retirement. I would enjoy sleeping in until the sun rose each morning, instead of getting up at o’dark thirty. I’d be a “stay at home” home-maker and tackle all those household projects that I had been wanting to do for years but couldn’t find the time. I could have a home-cooked dinner on the table at 5pm. I could do this or that and the other….or so I thought. But then, Grace whispered.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

I received a text of a job lead on November 27. It would put me back in the corporate accounting and tax world, but was only part-time. I wasn’t very fond of the idea of going back into the corporate world after ten years of being away, but thought, well it will at least get me out of the house some and give me a little income. (I’m not really the “stay at home” type anyway. I run out of things to do and get bored to easily.) So, with nothing to lose, I applied on November 29th and interviewed on December 1st. I was offered the position on the spot and reported for work three days later. It is not nearly as stressful as the job I left. So far, it’s working out well. Seems God has other plans for me.

It Pollens

And now spring has arrived again. At least it’s trying. The spring snow showers have changed to the green stuff as we yo-yo between cold fronts and 60-70 degrees weather.

I look at my calendar and it’s chocked full of stuff all the way through to September.  Easter is fast approaching. There are birthday’s to celebrate. Special CMA activities such as Rolling Thunder in D.C. and bike rallies along the outer-banks and motocross events all through out the summer.

The first CMA spring event was this past Saturday at a motorcycle dealership 40 miles away. I took my motorcycle out for the first time in over a year. It took a lot of courage to get back on it and do a group ride again. When we stopped at our destination I received a lot of  “good job”, “you did great”, “how ‘ya feelin’?” and hugs from the group. They were as happy to have a smile on my face as I was. It felt good. I think my husband was especially glad he didn’t have to carry a passenger this time.

“The roads are paved with God’s goodness.”

Who has time for a “dark night of the soul?” Not I! Not anymore!

As I look back through the past several months and I can see God’s wonderful light reflecting on my journey. My life was ablaze with His Grace. I think perhaps my road of good intentions was Grace whispering to me, “The roads are paved with God’s goodness.” I saw how true God’s promises are. Deuteronomy 31:8 reads, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (New Living Translation) God was there with me every step of the way.

Family and friends may fail us. Institutions may fail us. Government may fail us. However, I know the one and only person who never fails us. He is always there to turn to, to cry out to, to find direction when afraid, discouraged or uncertain. All we have to do is listen for His voice and rest in Him.

I hope you can hear Him. Just look for the signs along your journey . . .and listen. He’s whispering. You can feel it in your heart and soul; in the conversations with family and friends; in the gentleman who opens the door for you; in the check-out clerk at the market; in the laugher of a child; in that job lead; in the beauty of nature; in the promise of prayer by a stranger. Sometime perhaps in a blog as someone shares their stories and life adventures. Shhh…listen closely. Can you hear him?

Thank you for allowing me to share His whisperings in my life during this past difficult year.

To those of you who lifted me in prayer…know that your prayers were answered.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, your love endures forever. When I was afraid, you were with me; You are my God, your love endures forever. When I was dismayed, you strengthened me, you helped me, you upheld me with you righteousness. Your love endures forever. Your promises never fail me. I praise you and thank you. In Christ’s name – amen. Read more

Twilight Zone of Soul’s Dark Night

Cue the guitar, a repetitive 3-4- 3-root lick in the key of E (G#-A-G#-E) topped with a b5 (Bb) pedal tone .. “do DO-do-do-do, DO-do-do ….”

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas; you’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.”

-Rod Sterling, 1963 Twilight Zone, season 4

Somewhere between the level headed, keep a smile on your face, don’t let them see you break, perky perfectionist from 8am-5pm and the drop your guard, remove the mask, falling apart, I can’t put coherent thoughts together insomniac from 8pm-5am, I had entered a Twilight Zone of my dark night of the soul during these past six months.

As I began reading, “Joy Comes With the Morning” I could feel Grace whispering encouragement, nudging me to write about this dark part of my faith journey. It’s difficult. However, I know in doing so, Grace will continue to guide, comfort and give a peace that passes all understanding to me and perhaps to another who may be seeking.

In the previous post, Dusk-The Dark Night Begins, I only mentioned the first of ten chapters in the first section Encouraging Ourselves from “Joy Comes With the Morning.” The remaining chapters, 2-An Experiment in Self Love, 3-The Computer of Our Mind, 4-A Human Filtering System, 5-Heterosuggestion, 6-Take Off the Mask, 7-Vulnerability, 8-No-Knock Policy, 9-Family Communication, 10-Don’t Judge Yourself and 11-Dying to Self, helped me label some of the thoughts and behaviors that took place as I begin to balance the scales of those dimensions within the twilight zone.

Chapter 2 called remembrance to the passage in Matthew 22:36-39.

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (KJV)

Mr. Kinnaird shared how he began an experiment in self-love, that is loving himself unconditionally as God loves him. He said,

Suppose I dwelled on my good points and tried not to condemn myself for my faults. Suppose I forgave myself my mistakes…There is nothing narcissistic or self-indulgent about this kind of love. Rather, it means that I look at myself objectively as another child of God.

How can we discriminate against ourselves? How can we refuse to love any child of God, even our self? Jesus told us to love our enemies, and with so many of us our greatest enemy is our self. Think about that for a minute. How many times have you been your own worst enemy? How many times have you been almost totally self-destructive?”

I thought about what he said. I guess, in a way I had begun an experiment in self-love. Like Mr. Kinnaird, I’m coming to love some of my qualities and saying “so what” to others. Not that I’m unwilling to change them. (I’ve discovered I have more Type A personality traits than I care to admit.) I’ll not get upset if I can’t change a lifetime habit over night by self willpower. Only by God’s power and His will and in His time will some changes come about. I just have to choose to change.

I sit in front of a computer all day. You know the term “GIGO” don’t you, “garbage in-garbage out?” Without proper filters, that’s what happens to our systems, the information becomes garbage, or worst yet the PC becomes corrupted with virus’s and malware. Sometimes we have to do a system restore to get the PC operating correctly. Our minds really are like a computer. If we let negative thoughts in, then negativity is what will come out. If we don’t have correct filters in place, then our perception of people, places and things become skewed. That’s what happened in my twilight zone. I had to distance myself from the negativity in my life in order to do a “system restore.” Grace affirmed that I had made the right decision to limit my visits to Henderson and its negativity to once a month, instead of weekly. I felt guilty about it. I felt I was not upholding my responsibilities. However, I knew it was best for everyone for awhile and doing what is best is upholding the responsibilities I have been asked to do.

The “taking off the mask” and allowing others to see my brokenness has been a bit challenging. The first time was when I had to ask an acquaintance’s forgiveness for a negative outburst I directed towards her back in April. (I think that’s probably when I crossed over into the twilight zone. I kept trying to justify my actions. Even though, deep down, I knew I was in the wrong. Why, I wouldn’t even speak to her after that.) It took two weeks for me to work up enough willpower (again not my desire, but God’s prompting) to invite her to lunch and share with her what I had been going through since Thanksgiving. The mask slipped off a little during lunch. After discussing our different yet similar personalities, she realized that she was partially at fault for the outburst and asked forgiveness also. The lunch became a little like a counseling meeting. She too had some family matters that were heavy on her heart that she needed to share. So, there I was, a Stephen Minister. What was I to do but offer an unbiased listening ear? (Isn’t it amazing how God places people in our lives at just the right time?) It turned out to be a positive lunch. I think it strengthened our relationship somewhat. We agreed that we could disagree on opinions. Personal opinions were just that, personal. She is more considerate of mine and I hers.

The masked slipped a bit more the following month. Friends of mine and hubby invited us to go with them to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for the Memorial Day weekend. We ladies discussed several prayer concerns that were on our hearts. In the course of the conversation, I let my guard down and shared all that I had been experiencing. I knew I could trust her. I didn’t feel quite so vulnerable with her as a confidant. It felt good to finally tell someone else the whole story.

As the months rolled on, my brother kept his promise to give me rest. He protected me by implementing a no-knock policy with mom. Whenever she began her negative comments, insults, complaining and put-downs, he reminded her why he was her caregiver this year. He only calls me when needing advice on handling certain situations, or wants affirmation on a decision. We’ve kept the family communications open.

In order for a new apple tree to grow, a seed has to die first. Then it is re-birthed, producing a new tree and a multitude of more apples, more seeds, more trees. Mr. Kinnaird states it this way, “It may have to be buried for a time while the roots are taking hold, but eventually it will sprout into something better than ever.” Perhaps this twilight zone was just a way for me to “die to self” in order for God to use me in more ways, better ways in the future to share encouragement and His grace with others.

A new dawn is breaking. I can see morning coming. More on that next time.

door-into-the-unknown-13303398429tsPrayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for this twilight zone, another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. A place of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. Perceptions and growth. Perceptions can change and growth can be multiplied, especially when you bring joy with the morning. In Christ – Amen

Quick to Listen…Slow to Speak

It is said that when God’s word goes out it does not return void. I have found that to be true. Each time I begin a study, the Scriptures supported in some area of my day or week. It’s as if Grace is saying, “See? My Word is true.”

I was blessed when two friends knelt at the altar with me in prayer today. Each had shared a trial or crisis that had recently occurred in their lives. I had no words of wisdom for them, at least none of my own. However, Grace spoke… not through my words, but actions. Well what did I do, you may ask. I simply offered a listening ear and offer to pray with them. I think that alone gave each of them the comfort to share and receive counsel from each other in a way that I knew I would not be able to do. We sat on the steps of the altar for nearly two hours. Them talking and encouraging each other while I merely listened with an occasional nod of my head or a quiet affirmation of their statements.

Grace reminded me later of these words I had read in the first chapter of James during my early morning study and mediation:

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:19-25)

I love these two friends dearly and my heart broke for each of them. I knew that they could glean something from each other’s story and I had to be “quick to listen and slow to speak” this time.

Sometimes, oft times, what our friends need most from us, when they are experiencing troubles, is a listening ear and a compassionate heart.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing your word to mind when we need it. Thank you for our friends who willing to be quick to listen and slow to speak when we need to talk. Above all, thank you for always listening to us. In Christ, amen.

CHRISTMAS DAY

Christmas Day

To some, just another day. No merriment. It’s business as usual. The day holds no meaning.

To others, it is  extravagantly wrapped boxes placed under an evergreen tree; over abundance of material trappings soon to be discarded in a heap in the far back corner of a closet as they continue to search for happiness by trying to “keep up with the Jones” and never quite reaching their goal.

To others, it’s the fulfillment of joy by gathering with friends and family to simply share a meal and reflect upon the blessings experienced during the year.

And to many, it’s the celebration of the birth of their saviour Jesus Christ. It’s the celebration of prophecy fulfilled. It’s the thankfulness of promises.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. 

 

Keeping up with the Jones’