Sew it Begins….Sew It is Finished

Lent, the six week period leading up to Easter, is one of the most important times of the year for many Christians. It is usually a solemn observance and preparation for the celebrations of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter.

It’s a traditional time of fasting, abstaining from or giving something up. The more orthodox and traditional denominations will observe a strict fast with the abstinence of  meat, fish, eggs and fats until Easter. Others may choose to give up a luxury item, perhaps chocolate, alcohol or their favorite Starbucks coffee. Maybe they choose to stop watching TV,  turn off social media, or quit dining out in order to refocus on their faith during this time. 

Just as we prepare for celebrations such as weddings and birthdays in our personal lives; Lent invites us to prepare our minds and hearts for remembering Jesus’ life death and resurrection.

Without really realizing it, making BJ’s quilt has been my “Lent,” if you will, this year. 

I began working on it February 15 with a shopping trip with her to select the fabrics and colors. Since then, I spent an average of eight hours daily planning, cutting and sewing.

many hours handstitching
Many evenings of hand stitching

 

There were many evenings that I sat with the quilt in my lap hand quilting late into the night.

Each day as I began work on the quilt, I started the mornings with a prayer, turned my laptop on, clicked on the Bible Broadcasting Network and listened to bible teachings, music and audio readings of Christian Classic books (I really enjoyed “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom), or I would switch to just meditation instrumental worship and praise music. I sat at my sewing machine or favorite chair and stitched, listened, prayed and meditated.

The double wedding ring patterns reminded me that God’s love for me is everlasting, it has no beginning, no end. (Psalm 103:17 – But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—)

The white muslin and colorful squares of patchwork joined together, reminded me that through my faith and belief in Christ, I too am a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.)

Light at the end of the tunnel
There’s light at the end of the tunnel

Sunday, April 5, I could see light at the end of the tunnel. I was on the home stretch. My plans were to have the quilt finished by Easter. 

Thursday I put in the last stitch in the quilt. I exclaimed, “It is finished!” The quilt was finished, but I had not completed the whole job I had set out to do.…I still had pillow shams and throw pillows to make.

 

throw pillows
The throw pillows turned out nice. Don’t you think?

On Good Friday I used the fabric remnants to make throw pillows. As I finished them, again I exclaimed, “It is finished!”   Immediately, I thought of Christ’s last word’s, ”It is finished,” as He died on the cross on this day… I stopped and gave thanks for the depth of His love. (John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life…)

BJ's DWR quilt copy
It is finished.

I marveled at the finished quilt. I still couldn’t quite believe that I had made it. I thanked God for my renewed gift of sewing.

This morning I sent some pictures of the quilt to BJ, telling her it was ready to be picked up. I commented that it wasn’t perfect, but neither are we. To which she replied, “Perfectly done from the heart.”

I believe the words of Billy Graham captures what “perfectly done from the heart” truly is.

“For the believer there is hope beyond the grave, because Jesus Christ has opened the door to heaven for us by His death and resurrection.” -Billy Graham

“Easter always brings hope to all of us. For the Christian, the Cross tells us that God understands our suffering, for He took upon Himself at the Cross all of our sins and all of our failures and all of our sufferings. Our Lord, on that cross, asked the question, “Why?” “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”  And he received his answer, he knew.  To redeem the world, to save you and me from our sins, to give us assurance that if we died we’re going to heaven. He was saying from the cross, I love you and I know the heartaches and the sorrows and the pain that you feel.

Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the Cross to the hope of the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life for Christ has conquered death. It also tells us that God has triumphed over evil and death and hell. This is our hope and it can be your hope as well.” 

BJ and her husband stopped by my house this afternoon to pick up her quilt ensemble. She gave a generous donation to the Run For The Sun mission efforts as a way of  thanking me for making her quilt, commenting on the sacrifice of time it must have taken. (300 hours. Give or take one or two. But who’s counting.) 

Sacrifice? No, just another quilt stitched in love on a journey of faith, drawing me closer to God as I listen for His whisperings of grace.

Now…What to do to fill my time with as we wait out the “stay-at-home” order during this pandemic? Guess I will be making face masks. Quilted or no? 

How have you been filling your time?

Until next time…stay safe, stay well, stay in the Word of God, and always be listening for whisperings of grace.

Sew it Begins….Keeping a Sense of Humor

The quilt is coming along nicely. Since the COVID-19 quarantine is keeping my husband and I cabin bound like most others folks, I’m getting a lot accomplished.

Yes, as you’ve probably already guessed, I started to hand-stitch most of the quilting.

IMG_4003
Loading a bunch of needles on a needle threader and having them pre-threaded when one length of thread runs out is a time saver!

 

I have found it to be a very relaxing way to pass the time. I have a nice comfy chair in front of a window to capture good natural lighting while I quilt. It’s nice to enjoy the sunlight and watch birds flit around my backyard as I look away from the quilting to give my eyes a rest. I tune into one of my favorite radio stations on the web or listen to books on audio and stitch away.

 

I wasn’t quite sure what designs I would use. I settled on an easy repeating arc in the center of the melon shapes. IMG_3999It takes me approximately 45 minutes to an hour to quilt one arc. As of last night I had 14 more to go. I should finish them tomorrow. Then on to the center diamond/squares. Haven’t yet decided on a pattern for them. Do you have any suggestions? I’m hoping to finish it this week!

 

Hubby and I did decide to take a break this weekend for a couple of hours to get some wind therapy.

fullsizeoutput_704
I love that I have storage space. Kept my helmet secure while we hiked.

It felt good to get on the bike. I haven’t been able to ride since December due to suffering with some crud for 8 weeks. We  kept to the 6ft social distancing. As we hiked we talked about the circumstances surrounding everyone. Like how some folks are overtaken by fear and are hoarding paper products,  and others disregard any precautionary measures. We discussed possible ways when desperate times may call for desperate measures. He said, “Did you know that one of the dirtiest surfaces is a gas pump handle? We could use the plastic grocery bags to lift the handle. You need to keep some in your car.”  Not a bad idea.

Then while picking up a few things at a Dollar General store I spoke with a lady who had a plastic spray bottle and bundle of  washcloths in her basket.

IMG_4012
Desperate times may call for desperate measures.

She commented, “For when I run out of TP.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for today:

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – (Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)

Until next time…keep a sense of humor friends and remember “flexibility and grace” will help us get through this together. Continuing to pray for all. Just got word that a cousin of mine in SC tested positive. 😦

And really, I welcome any design suggestions!

 

 

Sew it Begins…Piece by Piece

Seeing how I have never made a Double Wedding Ring quilt, I didn’t realize there are so many patterns to choose from. Wow. Thanks, Pinterest. It’s overwhelming.

I narrowed the selections down to two, combined the two to make a third alternate pattern and presented the three to BJ to select from. Thank goodness, without knowing it, she chose the simplest one. Not to say it’s an easy pattern,  just the least complicated. It consists of 5 different shapes  appliquéd onto 12 inch squares to form a Double Wedding Ring. 

Prep-work completed…

Fabric ironed, cut into 520 pattern pieces, and then sorted.

Let the sewing commence.

I’ve always heard a picture is worth a thousand words. IMG_3971

IMG_3973

Pic4 - appliqueing begins

IMG_3979

 

 

pic7 - solid arc appliques

The quilt top got to be more than I could handle on the sewing machine cabinet. I had to get creative and come up with more space to support the growing expanse of fabric. 

Pressing DWR seams
Gotta get those seams pressed!

So, I brought in a folding table and placed a cutting board on top.

Before finishing the quilt top, I ended up bringing in a drop-leaf table and expanded it beside the folding table.

IMG_3981 

Backing, batting and quilt top all sandwiched together and ready for quilting. pic11 - sandwiched

Thought for today:

“Hatred starts a fight, but love pulls a quilt over the bickering.” Proverbs 10:12 (The Message)

As we adjust to a, hopefully, temporary new normal these days, let’s be mindful of our neighbors and all whom we come in contact when out and about. Let all strife you may have with someone go by the wayside … practice a little grace. After all, we are all together in this stressful time,  even if 6ft apart.

Any suggestions on how to practice a little grace? Share them in the comment field below.

Come back next week to see how the quilt is progressing.  Now to decide, should it be machine quilted or hand stitched? …

Until then, I’m praying you have a great week and stay well.

Sew it Begins … Planning

“Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22

Finally! A day of sunshine after what seemed like weeks of nonstop cold rain. BJ stopped by my house for a short visit before we set out for a day of shopping to pick out fabric and other items needed to make her Double Wedding Ring quilt. She was so excited. 

Two weeks had passed since I agreed to make her quilt. We had several phone and text conversations discussing patterns and colors leading up to this eventful shopping day. In an effort to keep the costs as low as possible for the fabric yardages needed, I had already done some “window shopping” online for her. A list of fabric “families” & colors, stores, cost comparisons, discounts, coupons, and a graph of the quilt pattern were neatly folded in my vest pocket so I could easily access it in the stores. She brought the curtains that she wanted the quilt to compliment.

As we drove into the city, I asked how things were progressing with her house. (Quietly, I was assessing if I would have her quilt completed in time for her move in date.) I suggested the two stores on my comparison list to visit. I knew they had the fabrics in stock. She also wanted to visit another store that the lady helping her with interior design had suggested. I knew it to be a highly reputable store. However, I knew its stock was mostly for drapery and upholstery. It also would be very pricey. We stopped there first. BJ’s jaw dropped when she saw the prices. We  were able to find two remnant pieces of calico. But, they were a bit more than the comparison stores. I suggested we come back for them if she could not find anything at the other stores.

BJ’s eyes lit up like a child’s opening a gift under the Christmas tree when she stepped into the aisles at JoAnn’s Fabrics.  We perused the shelves for two hours. She found bolt after bolt of blues, greens and turquoise prints. Just what she was hoping for. She would pick one out. Lay it against the curtains and ask, “What do you think? Will it look okay with the other one? Do you like it?” My reply was always, “Do you like it?”  After another hour of waiting as her selections were cut to size, we headed to one of our favorite grills for a bite of lunch.

DWR supplies
Shopping completed

Lunch? It was 3:00pm by this time. We were starving! The greasy burger made to order, fries and chocolate shake hit the spot! Now off to our last destination, Hobby Lobby. I can never get out of that place under an hour. We didn’t that day either.

We arrived back at my house around 5:30pm, unloaded the bags of fabric from her car trunk and said our good byes. 

I was blessed to have been able to help my sweet friend shop and choose the fabric and design for her special quilt.

In studying today’s scripture thought, I found this little nugget. I couldn’t agree with it more.

Proverbs 11:14 and 24:6 also mention the value of a “multitude of counselors” or having “many advisors.” The general principle is that there is wisdom in seeking a wide range of advice from others instead of relying solely on one’s own knowledge or intuition. Considering other points of view and drawing on the experience of others is good.

Of course, twenty foolish advisors are no better than one, so the kind of counselors one seeks makes all the difference in the outcome. The Bible gives examples of people who listened to the wrong type of counsel and reaped disastrous results (Genesis 3:17; 16:2; Joshua 9:14; 1 Chronicles 10: 13–14; 2 Chronicles 22:4). A multitude of counselors won’t help if those counselors are fools.

Human beings are fallible. No one gets it right 100 percent of the time. The wisest and most godly among us are still subject to human error. We set ourselves up for disappointment and often disaster when we build our lives or ministries based upon the counsel of just one person. It is good to surround ourselves with trusted advisors—a multitude of counselors—realizing that even wise people can see many things differently.

Having a multitude of counselors is valuable because hearing varied viewpoints gives us a healthier foundation upon which to form opinions. We make the soundest decisions when we have fully investigated the issue from many angles, sought the Lord’s wisdom (James 1:5), and moved forward in faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).

© Copyright 2002-2020 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.

www.GotQuestions.org

Remember to choose your counsel wisely.

Seeing how this is my first Double Wedding Ring quilt, I’ve been watching and reading many article from seasoned quilters. Some are easy to follow and understand, others… well, let’s just say I have to choose my counsel wisely too.

Hope you visit again to see how the quilt is progressing. Let me know what you think.

Be blessed friends!

Sew it Begins…The rekindling of a lost gift

      “ Because of this I remind you to rekindle God’s gift that you possess…” (2 Tim. 1:6)

    Reading the letters Apostle Paul writes to his young friend Timothy, one gets the impression that Timothy may have sometimes failed in the task before him. In 2 Timothy chapter 1 we see Paul encouraging Timothy as he reminds him to remember his teachings from youth and to rekindle his gift. I did a search on the word he uses, “anazopureo”, and came across this interesting read by Rev. David Wheaton. It gave me cause for reflection. Rekindle to excite, stir up, or rouse anew…

     Repurposing life as I journey into retirement has been very fulfilling thus far. Leaving the stresses of corporate life in bookkeeping was a no brainer. My, oh my, what a rush of relief it was knowing I no longer had to deal with anyone else’s taxes except my own. Of course, that left me pondering just what I was going to fill those hours of day with now that I didn’t have to answer to a time clock. You can see how I answered that question over at my little snippet “Repurposing.” I’ve not quite finished everything on that dry wipe board’s to-do list. But, I’m getting there. (Like I said, no time clock.) The loss of my mother during this time brought about another time of reflection captured in “A Tapestry of Life”. 

     Seems I must now be channeling some of mom’s talents. Talent? No, it was a gift. She could sew, crochet, knit, arrange flowers, and the list goes on. She taught me to sew when I was about seven years old. I remember sitting at her sewing machine, very similar to the one  pictured here, Singer vintage 1965where I made a very simple green corduroy skirt. There were no crooked seams. No mismatched nap and it fit me. I was so pleased with myself. But, mostly because it pleased her.

     Seldom did she acknowledge or praise anything I did. Mostly I received criticism. But that time… I received a “Good job!” That one little phrase opened up a dream of possibilities. I was allowed to sit at her machine and make doll clothes for my Barbie doll. Although they were, ahem, a little crude looking, in the eyes of a child they were designer gowns. 

     As I got older, my sewing skills improved. In Home Economic classes in my middle and high school years, I began sewing most of my own clothes. When I married, Mom and I made my wedding dress and all of my bride’s maid dresses. I stopped sewing when I had to go full-time into the corporate workforce. Seams, I mean…seems … between being a full-time wife, full-time mother and full-time clock puncher, I no longer had the needed time for that art.

    I digress in my rambling. As I was saying, I must be channeling mom’s talents now. What began as a feeble attempt to bring a bit of joy to others by means of “Prayer Quilts” this past fall has  rekindled an old passion. I posted pictures of a few of them on social media. Prayer Quilt 1img_3933The response was overwhelming. Folks asked if I made quilts for sale. My response was, “How does one place a monetary value on other’s  loved ones?”  However, I also said, if they would like a quilt made, I would be happy to create one for them if they provided the materials and made a donation to the Christian Motorcyclists Association’s (CMA) mission support  “Run for The Son” fundraiser that provides transportation, bibles and showings of the Jesus film to itinerant pastors who may otherwise have no access to these tools. (As many of you know, my husband and I are members of CMA. Love my bike!) 

     I was approached by a sweet lady who said she would provide the materials if I would make a quilt for her new home being built. (In fear of a botch job, I recently turned down her request to make some drapes for her new house.) Thinking a little throw quilt would be a piece of cake to make, I agreed. So, I asked her if there was a particular pattern and size she would like. “Well,” she said, “ I like the Wedding Ring. I was thinking maybe a king size.” I gulped. She meant the Double Wedding Ring. Only one of the most advanced quilt patterns out there! I had already committed myself to the task. I couldn’t refuse her this time.

     So it begins…the rekindling of a lost gift… and the making of a Double Wedding Ring quilt. Did I say it’s only one of the most advanced quilt patterns out there. Lord, Jesus help me!

Follow along as I complete this labor of love for my friend BJ.    Updates to come.

   Before I close out today, I’d like to encourage you to rekindle the gift God has given you, not only with abilities, talents and skills, but a relationship with Him.

Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire

to work, and speak and think for Thee;

still let me guard the holy fire,

and still stir up the gift in me.

(From the hymn beginning O Thou Who Comest from Above.)

The Prayer Quilt

I made some prayer quilts this past autumn for some lady friends. 

Recently, a young man at church, who is battling cancer,  asked if I would make him a quilt.  He gave me some of his  favorite old clothing, that no longer fit due to the cancer, to use for the quilt.

Hand quilting is not always easy. There are many pin and needle pricks along the way. Sometimes even a sliced finger. You poke your finger in your mouth, then just take it in stride and get on with the task.

This quilt was quite different . Instead of getting on with the task at hand, God and I had some talks along the way.

Whenever I got a pin or needle prick or sliced my finger with the rotary cutter, He reminded of the suffering a friend or loved one is enduring with their bouts with cancer. What is a pin prick compared to their struggles? There is no comparison. So each time I got stuck, I was reminded to pray for those friends and loved ones. So I stopped the task at hand and said a prayer. 

As I deconstructed the garments, I came across hidden debris in the seams and deep recesses of pockets in some of those old comfortable clothes. 

God reminded of how we often allow the ugliness of foul language and corruptness in our society to become hidden debris in our lives, to where we become blinded to the sins, and little by little without realizing it, we wear them like an old comfortable shirt, turning a blind eye the stains on it. 

He reminded me of 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

So just like those old jeans and sweat shirts became something new, God can re-purposes us into something new, if we let Him.

Be blessed friends and remember to pray for those in your lives who need to be made new.

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.

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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.