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.

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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.

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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.

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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…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.)

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.  

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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.

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.

Not Just a BBQ Run

Little did I know that yesterday would not be just another BBQ run. Grace was going to whisper to me a thing or two about being in the moment.

“Being in the moment” is something I have difficulty with. I have to admit I’m a bit of a type A person. I like to know the schedule, know where, when and what to expect. Heck, most of the time, I’m the one planning the schedule, the where and the when. I’m finding it  difficult adjusting to an early retirement. 

My day began with a cup of coffee and a granola bar, same as always. It would be a bit different from most Friday’s though. Hubby decided to take a vacation day from work. We would bring in the summer with a day long motorcycle ride. He was already outside when I rolled out of bed.

I found him readying our bikes for a ride down east to visit one of the many fabulous restaurants on the NC Historic BBQ Trail. One of the musts on his “bucket list” of things to do, is to visit all of those restaurants, on the bikes. I like short rides myself, on 2 lane country roads around our neck of the woods, but today I agreed to go on a longer ride, and on several 4 lane highways. Definitely not in my comfort zone.  He has been talking about this particular restaurant for over a year. Perhaps  now, he would put it to rest.

The morning had no particular schedule. While hubby finished preparing the bikes, I went into town to get some cash to take with us, because the restaurant accepts cash only. When I got back, we washed the bikes, geared up… (I’m a ATGATT gal, all the gear all the time…full helmet, armored jacket, gloves, jeans and boots. It’s hot yes, but I’d rather be safe. I’m kinda partial to having all my skin in tact.) …then we set out to find this “must have” bbq.

The first 15 miles or so was a comfortable ride on 2 lane highway 96. Then wouldn’t you know it…road construction. There’s never road construction on this stretch of highway. 

 What do you do when you come upon road construction? Slow down or stop and stay alert to your surroundings. Then you wait for the flagman to wave you pass or you wait for the pilot vehicle to guide you through the work zone. (All while complaining under your breath. Be real. You know you do.)

So, I throttled back, put the bike in 1st gear as I applied the brakes and sat there about 10 minutes watching the traffic and workmen while waiting for the pilot truck to guide the line of traffic around the new hot asphalt and heavy equipment blocking our lane. (Grace lesson #1 –  Just like this stretch of highway, sometimes our spirit needs repairing to smooth over the rough edges and potholes that we’ve allowed to creep in due to overuse or neglect.)

We finally merge off the 2 lanes onto 4 lanes on US-264 Eastbound. We are cruising along at about 70-75 mph when a pick up truck pulls up beside me and a young man gives me a thumbs up and a smile, which makes me smile. (Grace lesson #2 – Sometimes, just being in the moment, not our words or actions brings joy to another.)

Then, after about 50 miles, where US-264 runs into I-795,…oh no,…we run into more road construction. Luckily, one lane is open and we only have to slow down this time.

Little did I know that we would run into road construction three more times! By the fourth time I’m thinking, “Really, God? I know I haven’t been on the bike in a while, but really?”  I have many conversations with Him when I’m riding. (Lesson #3 – Reminder…He will make a way, when there seems to be no way. Be patient.)

Grady's BBQ
We finally arrived!

We finally make it to our destination! “Grady’s BBQ”  is in a little building in the middle of no where, literally. It sits in a fork in the road out in the country. But oh is the food good! And the host are the sweetest couple. Click here to read the article by the NC BBQ Society

Mr and Mrs Grady (Grady's BBQ)
Mr. and Mrs. Grady are some great pit masters!

You know what? Sometimes, Grace abounds when we are out of our comfort zone and allow ourselves to just be in the moment. Yesterday, I chose to extend extra grace to my husband and drive nearly half way across state on my motorcycle for lunch. If I am honest, I have to admit I wasn’t really looking forward to the jaunt. But as the day progressed and I allowed myself to “just be in the moment” it turned out to be one of the best. Grace continues to whisper, even in a BBQ run.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in everything, may abound to every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8 World English Bible)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, your grace is sufficient. Thank you for safety in our travels and for lessons learned along the way. May we always be alert to how we can share that grace with others along our life highways. In Christ name, 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

New Year’s Resolutions or wishful thinking?

“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”  Psalm 20:4 (NIV)

 

I’d like to think that I could make a New Year’s resolution that would actually be accomplished. However, I know I’m more of a realist than I want to admit to. The resolution would only be wishful thinking.

Oh, the times that I resolved to lose the extra weight. I’m not a heavy eater. But when I do indulge in a full meal…well, let’s just say I love good ol’ Southern comfort foods. And we all know where those calories go! I’m beginning to look like my grandmother. Grandma used to describe herself as being “big at the little and bottom at the top.” It’s hard to fight those genetics. Or is that wishful thinking?

Everyone said, “Join a gym. It will help you lose weight.” So, I joined a gym. Didn’t lose any weight. My son jokingly said, “Ma, just joining won’t help. You actually have to go there!” Ha! Smart aleck. I did go pretty regularly for a while, until life stresses jumped in front and took up the time. I still have the membership. Perhaps I will resolve to going back during my lunch breaks again. Or is that just wishful thinking?

I got a new Suzuki VL800 Boulevard motorcycle for Christmas.

Bouly-Boy
My Bouly-Boy

Well, new to me anyway. (Yes, you two wheeler diehards, it has been triked out. Don’t turn up your nose and be so judgmental just yet.) Let’s face it, I’m no longer a spring chicken and since my accident a couple of years ago, I lost my courage to get back on a two wheeler. Riding on the back of my husband’s bike has been okay. But, I’ve started to get the urge to ride solo again, and God answered the prayer I had on the last trip home on the back of hubby’s bike, on yet another dark night. I prayed, “God, if you want me in the CMA (Christian Motorcyclist Association) ministry, then you are going to have to provide the right tool for me.” Lo and behold, hubby saw the bike on Craig’s list that very same night. Two days later we brought it home. We figured the three wheeler would help get me back in the saddle again. I could resolve to take at least one road trip a month in 2016. Or is that wishful thinking?

We all make resolutions in one way or another. Be it to better our health, work harder, work less, be kinder, mend relationships, or strengthen our faith, we will all go into 2016 with goals.

I’ll resolve to continue listening for God’s whisperings of grace in my life. And no, that’s not wishful thinking.

Here’s wishing you a Happy New Year!

12 I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. 13 My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. 14 I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done.15 All of us who are mature should think in this same way. And if any of you think differently, God will make it clear to you. Philippians 3:12-15 (CEV)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to strive to attain the goals that You have set before us. Help us to let go of the past and look to the future, knowing that all things are possible with you, for You work all things together for the good of those who love you, who have been called according to your purpose. In Christ name. Amen.

Resolved

A Dark Valley

1The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. – Psalm 23 (KJV)

Other bible versions for verse 4 use the translations … “the darkest valley”, “valley of deep darkness”, or “valley of deepest darkness.”

More times than not, the 23rd Psalm is quoted at funerals. Because of this, most people associate the Psalm as the “go to” scripture for finding comfort at the death of a love one. I find it a good “go to” scripture when battling demons of daily stresses and life that send me to an emotional “dark” place.

It has been quite a few weeks since I sat down to write. I’ve been in a funk that I just couldn’t quite shake. Words of encouragement seemed to have left me. Years of weariness and abuse, from being in a situation of overwhelming commitment and obligation as primary caregiver to my aging mother, finally sent me spiraling down into a dark emotional valley. A place I did not like. A place that I knew I did not belong. A place that not only made me emotionally ill, but physically ill. Caring for an aging parent is not always an easy or pleasant task.

I sent an email out to my only sibling, “Stick a fork in me…I’m done.” Line by line I proceeded to pen the things I was done with. It became a four page message. I pleaded with him to help with the care of our mom. If I didn’t get help soon, either my body was going to shut itself down…or I was going to shut it down. My body decided it would slow me down for much needed rest. I had always heard that stress would trigger Shingles. I found out firsthand that it is true.

Even though I was in a dark place, I could feel God’s comforting Spirit, and still do, healing my brokenness…

… My brother responded to my plea for help and supported me in my decision to step away from the situation for a while. My sister-in-law replied with appreciation for all of the years that I carried the load of care giving, and assured me that she would see to it that my brother stepped up to give me relief for a season.

… My husband’s extra compassion has been a balm to my weariness when I come home after work each day.

… My boss, a pastor, encouraged me to take time off from work if needed.

… Giving me inner strength and grace to help the Christian Motorcyclist Association minister to travelers during the Thanksgiving Holiday, even though I felt downtrodden and empty on the inside.

… Friend’s invitations to go motorcycling even when it’s cold out. A trip through the country is always calming, whether on four or two wheels.

… Continuing to help me offer counseling through the Stephen Ministry.

… Providing an army of prayer warriors who lift me in prayer every day.

I could continue listing ways the healing has been taking place. I’m happy the sadness is turning to joy again.

Yes. It’s been a valley of deep shadows. But only shadows. For where there is light, there can be no darkness. I see the light of Christ as I walk through this valley. His light guides me and leads to healing.

I’m reminded of a song from my youth that we used to sing in my home church during the season of advent leading up to Christmas. It was written by Phillip P. Bliss in 1875. Here are a couple of its verses:

  1. The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin,
    The Light of the world is Jesus!
    Like sunshine at noonday, His glory shone in;
    The Light of the world is Jesus!

    • Refrain:
      Come to the light, ’tis shining for thee;
      Sweetly the light has dawned upon me;
      Once I was blind, but now I can see:
      The Light of the world is Jesus!
  2. No darkness have we who in Jesus abide;
    The Light of the world is Jesus!
    We walk in the light when we follow our Guide!
    The Light of the world is Jesus!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for reminding me that you are walking with me when I enter a valley of darkness. Thank you for providing the Light to guide my steps. Thank you for providing rest and comfort needed at this time. Thank you for those who are lifting me in prayer. Father I pray for that one who is reading this and is in an emotional or spiritual “dark” place today. May they also find comfort in the Psalm. In Christ name I pray. – Amen

 

 

The Healing Wall

“Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

The Healing Wall, a 3/5 scale model replica of the Vietnam Memorial located in Washington, D.C., stopped in a neighboring county on its tour across the U.S.

Escorted by hundreds of motorcycles, it crossed the state border and came to rest into a small rural community for a few days. It was a pretty big deal for many residents of the little town.

Healing Wall
Vietnam Memorial photo courtesy DoD dvidshub.net

It may be the only chance they ever get to see the name of a friend or loved one inscribed on the Memorial Wall. I, like them, had friends and relatives who had served in that war. Some came home to continue their lives. Some did not.

Many years ago, I was privileged to visit the memorial in Washington, D.C.

It was a very moving and humbling experience as I searched for names of friends etched into the black granite wall. Some of the boys, yes, boys, teenagers, served willingly, others by draft. I was only a pre-teen when I knew them, but still, the memories of their faces, and their parent’s faces haunted me; parents who grew to dislike my family, because their sons made the draft and my brother did not. For some reason, I do not remember, he wasn’t able to serve. They went into a war they knew little about. They died or came home as amputees. My brother remained state side and continued living, whole.

I have a friend who authored the book Line Doggie: Foot Soldier in Vietnam. Charlie tells of his tour of duty and the conditions soldiers on both sides of the war endured. As I read the book, tears welled up as my heart broke for those men and women. I finally understood why my uncle did not like to talk about his time “over there,” as he would say.

As the replica traveled nearby, it made me think again about the ones who didn’t return. Those who gave their lives so that others may know freedom.

Scripture says in John 15:3 (KJV) “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

How great is that love, that Christ did the same for us on the cross at Calvary, so that by faith in Him and through Him, we may have eternal life.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, words cannot express the gratitude offered for the love shown by those who were and are willing to sacrifice so greatly, so that others may live. Perhaps it’s not always dying a physical death, but putting the needs and desires of others before one’s self…”dying to self” so others may know love.  If so, then help us to “die to self” in order to share your grace with others.

Lord, may The Healing Wall  help those who are carrying pain and burdens from years past. May we always be mindful of the price of freedom. In Christ name. Amen.