Thursday, January 31, 2008

Making memory quilts

My nephew Travis graduates this year. Boy do I feel older since he is nine years younger than my youngest daughter!

But all age jokes aside, his mom started a neat family tradition when her older daughters graduated 4 years ago. Tammie began making family quilts for each of her children as they graduated from High School. The idea was that as they went away to college, they would be able to take their family with them through the blocks depicted on the quilt.

Each time one of her kids entered 12th grade, Tammie would pass out 10" x 10" muslin blocks to every family member and ask them to create a memory block. Since all three of my children were grown and married, they each received a block of their own to create.

That's fine, except my kids kept procrastinating about their blocks until Tammie threw up her hands in frustration and looked at me. "You're the creative one in the family - you do it!" So for the last three quilts, I made 4 blocks - one for my husband and I and one for each of my married children.

I have to admit, I the first two times I tried to put images on the quilt that would remind Tracy and Tara of us. For example, for my block I used a quill pen and a Bible since Dan's a pastor and I'm a writer.

But with Travis, I had run out of ideas until my daughter suggested the Veggie Tales Tuba Wars character because Travis plays tuba in the high school band. That got me started and I found Veggie Tales characters for each of us. (I didn't even bother to ask my kids to do their own block this time since I knew it would eventually fall to me anyway...)

So I thought it would be fun to share the blocks I created with you today. Would you believe, I was one of the first ones to finish the blocks this time rather than the last!

Click on images to view whole picture I couldn't get them to fit the space - more techie stuff to learn!

Paternal Grandparent block
Paternal Grandparents block">
My block
My block">
Cammie and Doug's block
Cammie and Doug's block
Dave and Julie's block - this even looks like Dave LOL!
Dave's block">
Allissa and Josh's block
Allissa and Josh's block
God bless you Travis as you graduate and whew! I think that's the last quilt I have to do for awhile!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Legacies - Plots and plans for Mother's Day

May and Mother's Day will be here before we know it! That's why the snowy, cold days of January are perfect for planning your church banquets and other Mother's Day activities.

This year our women's ministry group is going with the theme, "Legacies" for our Mother and Daughter dinner. So I thought I'd share our plans with you. Feel free to use or adapt this idea for your own - just let me know how your event turned out. I'd love to see your take on it.

Decorations: I have some wonderful vintage photos of my grandmother when she was a girl around the turn of the 20th century which inspired these ideas. We will be putting together a decorative display of vintage photos, albums and scrapbooks with a Victorian flare, using lace tablecloths, ribbon roses, antique beads and dried flowers.

Each of the tables will be decorated with a similar theme - tea-dyed lace, ribbon roses, beads, and candles will give the rook an old-fashioned feel - like stepping back in time. Old fashioned lace sachets made with potpourri and lace will double as table decorations and take-home favors for each guest.

Invitations: We will be making invitations using Valentine paper hearts which we will tea-dye, adding a heart shaped center with the info printed on it (by computer, of course!). Little rosettes of ribbon, roses, beads and lace will embellish the hearts and maybe even a magnet on the back so they can post them on the fridge until the banquet.

Activities: In one town where we lived, there was a photo studio that featured "Vintage" portraits. They provided all sorts of old fashioned garb for individuals to dress up. The photos were developed in sepia color tones for a more antique feel. So we thought we'd use the same idea to take photos of all the family groups. the photos will be developed after the banquet and mailed as a followup to all who attended, thanking them for coming and announcing future women's ministry activities.

We will also have a box where women can submit "advice" their moms gave them. Throughout the evening, slips will be drawn out of the box and read for all to enjoy. Those whose slips are drawn will win door prizes. We may even make up a gift booklet of the advice passed down from mother to daughter.

Our special speaker for the evening will speak on the legacy of faith moms pass down to future generations.

Well! That's it for today. Whew! The ladies at my church will have a lot to do to get ready, but we are all excited about "Legacies" as a fun activity and ministry tool to reach women with the good news of Christ!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Quiet Place Within

This week, Elisa is hosting "In 'Other' Words" at her site, Extravagant Grace. She has chosen a quote from the Anne Ortlund's book "The Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman."

"But remember, for all your adult life you'll be a woman. And how you live your life as a woman, all by yourself before God, is what makes the real you. Nothing on the exterior can touch or change that precious inner sanctuary, your heart, his dwelling place unless you let it. And God, who loves you very much has tailor made all your outer life, your circumstances, your relationships, to pressure you into becoming that beautiful woman he's planned for you to be."

~ Anne Ortlund ~

"There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God. A place where sin cannot molest, near to the heard of God."

I love that old hymn and have found it to be true in my life. There is a place near to God's heart where I can go when I am hurting, lonely or needy. He is always there and will always take the time to hold my hurting heart and speak comforting words.

For me, this place is a wonderful sun room, walled in by glass windows. I can still see the outside world, but inside I feel safe and comforted because the elements can no longer harm me. There is lush greenery and wonderful tropical flowers that bring joy to my heart. Fountains flow with His living water where He washes away the grime and stain of the world.

Here we sit and talk for hours on end. Honesty and truth lace His words. He doesn't hesitate to reflect back to me what He sees inside me and to offer suggestions on how to deal with the blemishes and scars that mar my heart. When He smiles, it radiates through the whole garden, warming and comforting my soul.

This is the place where I feel the most "real", the most alive. It's also where my ministry begins because I get filled up with His presence here so I can go outside those walls of safety to reach out to others.

No matter what happens outside that place, I know He is in control and will use those things to mold me into the woman He intends me to be. I can face the outward hurts, trials and tensions of this world because I know I can always return to that inner sanctuary each morning or whenever needed through the day. And I can rest there safely in His arms each night because I have taken the time to know Him and found Him to be trustworthy.


If you would like to join us today, simply blog about the quote on your blog site, then visit Elisa at her site Extravagant Grace and leave your blog URL along with a comment. Be sure to check out the other blogs as well!

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Leap of Faith

Have you ever taken a "leap of faith?"

Let me define for you what I mean - doing something so outrageous with no safety net under you just because God asked you to do it.

I was reading an e-mail from a friend this morning about an upcoming revival at her church. She attached a photo of her church in the e-mail and it tickled my curiosity so I looked it up on the Google map to see where her church was located.

Oh, the memories that came flooding back as I realized her church wasn't far from Memphis, TN. You see, Dan and I lived in Memphis for a year shortly after we were married and that was some year! It was the year we took a gigantic leap of faith into the unknown with only God's gentle nudging to guide us.

We were newly married. Dan was attending a small Bible college in western PA to complete his education - the next step toward becoming a pastor. I was earning my PHT (putting hubby through - Ha, ha!) and working as a waitress in a family restaurant. Those were the days when gas was cheap and we managed on $15 per week for groceries.

One day I waited on a visiting revival speaker and his family at the little restaurant where I worked. I noticed they prayed before their meal and overheard snatches of the conversation, enough to know he was a minister. I felt God's nudge to invite them to our home for a meal and we decided to attend the revival services later on.

One thing led to another as we chatted until they learned my husband played piano. They invited us to come to work with youth and play piano at their church in Memphis. We hardly knew them - certainly not well enough to take such a gigantic step. We had no savings, no jobs down south and no family there, but the idea of moving to Memphis just wouldn't leave us alone. We believed God was telling us to "Go."

So we wrote the pastor and told him we were coming, packed up our furniture into a 10 foot pull along U-Haul and set off on the greatest adventure of our lives. We stopped overnight in Cincinnati and stayed with some friends and made the second long leg of our journey the following morning. It was late when we arrived at the pastor's house - in the middle of a prayer meeting. We had only $40 to our name when we arrived!

But God! How wonderfully we saw Him provide for our needs. I found a job the first week we were there and Dan found one shortly after that. Since we didn't have much furniture, we were totally surprised when God provided a partially furnished apartment: centrally located near the church and within walking distance of each of our jobs! Even the color scheme of the apartment matched our meager household furnishings.

It was a stretching, growing experience for Dan and I as we adjusted to being 1.000 miles away from our family. Dan began his studies again through an extension campus of a nearby Bible College and was granted ministerial credentials.

We learned to rely on God and each other and made many new friends along the way. God allowed us to move home to PA the following year and begin pastoral ministry in a church of our own, but we will never forget the lessons learned along the way.

Though it was one of the most uncertain times of our married life, we remember it as one of the best because during that time, God cemented our hearts together as a couple and cemented our trust in Him as the head of our family. Taking a "leap of faith" can be scary, but when God is in it, the ride back down to Terra firma can be pretty exciting!

That was 33 years ago. We have jumped off a few career "cliffs" since then, following God's leading, but the lessons in trust we learned the first time have served us well. He has ALWAYS provided and been there with us.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Waiting to be wanted...

"I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits for long, so very long, in vain."


The preemie in the incubator slipped a little closer to death each moment. According to the doctors, he probably wouldn't last through the night.

"May I please be with him?" his mother asked, tears streaming down her birth weary face.

"For a little while," said the nurse, "though you need to rest to regain your strength."

The mother slid a rocker close to the incubator and slipped her hand through the opening on the side. She massaged the child's back, marveling over his silky skin. As she touched his little hands and feet, she began to sing, tentatively at first, then with more conviction. "Jesus loves you this I know..."

She stroked and sang until she fell asleep by his side, her hand still resting lightly on the little one's body.

Noticing that the mother had fallen asleep, a nurse slipped into the intensive care nursery to waken her and take her back to the room so she could rest. As she removed the mother's hand from the incubator, she noticed the baby was breathing easier and his heart beat appeared more regular.

After situating the mother in bed, the nurse returned to the nursery and sat down beside the baby. She reached into the incubator and stroked him, gently talking to him about how much his mother loved him. Though she had to attend to her duties, she returned whenever she could to touch and speak softly to the little one.

In the morning, the doctor noted the baby's improvement and allowed the mother to sit with him through the day. When she was discharged from the hospital, she returned each day to touch and sing to her baby. Night shift nurses took turns staying with him through the lonely overnight hours. And each day, the doctor was amazed at the child's improvement.

Another mother in a hospital two states away slept in a drunken stupor after giving birth to a child with fetal alcohol syndrome. He was hooked up to monitors and placed in an incubator. Though they monitored his vital signs closely, no one took the time to stroke his velvety soft skin or sooth his constant cries of pain. The child failed to thrive and the mother left the hospital wanting only to ease her own pain.

Both babies waited to be wanted. One felt the loving touch of its mother and those caring for him, the other was left alone to die.What made the difference in the lives of the two little ones? Touch - for one a touch that communicated love and "wanting" to his little life. For the other, there was no touch, only lonely sterility.

Our hands provide the touch so desperately needed by the world to respond to the love of Christ. Fragile lives full of pain wait to be wanted, unable to reach out on their own to respond to His love.

But do we want Him enough, long for Him enough, so that His gentle touch can ignite our wooden "religious" lives? He waits to be wanted by us today so we can bridge the gap to those who need to be wanted by Him.


This week, Debbie is hosting "In 'Other' Words" at her site, Praise and Coffee. If you'd like to participate, simply blog about the quote on your site, then visit Debbie to leave your blog address. Be sure to stop by and read the thoughts of the other participants and leave them a comment too!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Living the Word

This week, Loni is hosting "In 'Other' Words" at her site, Writing Canvas. She has chosen a quote from the book: Family Driven Faith by Voddie T. Baucham, Jr. I can't wait to see what everyone writes for this week's In "other" Words...

This week's quote is:

"A family without a commitment to the God of the Bible has no hope of stemming the tide of cultural onslaught. If we mix a little biblical truth, a little secular physchology, a little romance novel ideology, and a little eastern mysticism, we will get a deadly mixture of lies. Unfortunately, this is what many Christian families do . . . If we are to experience multigeneraltional faithfulness we must come to a place where we throw off the shackles of our culture and live in the fullness that is found only in Christ. We must be people who live the Word in our homes."

~By Voddie T. Baucham, Jr~

Wow! What a great quote Loni. At first I thought about it only in the context of the nuclear family - how our lives affected our children. But being in ministry, I began to see this from a more global perspective.

The church is the family of God. If each person lived the Word in their own home free from the influences of secular psychology, romance novel ideology and mideast mysticism, not only will our immediate family prosper in the Lord, we will carry that over into the church - our spiritual family life, making the church a place where multigenerational faithfulness is nurtured. No more generation gaps or church family feuds.

The Word cannot be boxed, bottled or canned, it must be a fresh experience each day of our lives to have such explosive results. And to think it all starts here - in my heart, in my life, in my family, in my church, in my community, in the world!

Lord, revive us again and start the work in me.


If you'd like to join us today, simply blog about the quote on your blog site, then drop by and visit Loni at Writing Canvas to read her take on the quote and leave your blog URL. Then visit some of the other participants and be sure to leave a comment to encourage them!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Setting GOD Goals

Whew! The online writing group I belong to is working hard at developing our mission statements and now our goal lists.

As I began to prayerfully write down my goals for 2008, it soon became apparent I had an overwhelming list of projects to finish. I had several first draft e-book manuscripts that were complete, needing to be edited, rewritten and marketed. I also have two first draft novels that are in varying stages of completion. Then there were the regular submissions I need to write - a monthly column for the 4Him2U E-zine, daily blogs and so forth.

When it was all down on paper, I began to feel a bit overwhelmed. Lord, how can I get all this done in 2008? I thought. Of course when I start looking at things with my own eyes, they often look daunting . So I began to look for suggestions on goal planning and found an article on setting SMART goals - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

I began to evaluate my goals. They seemed to meet the criteria so I immediately began to plan my daily schedule - an hour to write my blogs in the A.M., two hours to work on my novels and all afternoon to market the completed pieces along with the e-zine articles.

I figured if I worked a little on each one each day, maybe I could get it all done. Oh, yes, I almost forgot to include time for other things as well like grocery shopping, cleaning, chatting with friends, etc. As the list of activities grew, my schedule became even more unweildly. No wonder I felt so overwhelmed. I was trying to get everything done at the same time!

Thank God, He stopped my mad hamster-wheel planning session. As I prayed about my goals, He began to calm my heart and pointed out that by taking just one project on at a time, I could easily accomplish it all. Rather than allowing a little time each day for each project, I should prioritize them, spending larger blocks of time to complete one project at a time.

Where I'm in a hurry to get everything done NOW, He looks at the long-range and knows just when each thing needs to be done in His plan. Maybe I should call it my GOD Goal plan -

Ordained and
Directed Goals.

Now that sounds pretty SMART to me.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Too Busy?


My daughter is a home school mom and does a great job at it. With two school age children, two toddlers and a new baby on the way, I often wonder how she can stay so organized. I know she didn't learn it from me.

Being three Abby loves to be involved whenever she can with her two older siblings, coloring while Jack and Eve are working on school work or doing art projects with them. So it just seemed natural for my daughter to bring up the idea of preschool in conversation with her little one.

Abby appeared in the living room wearing that post-nap "I'm-not-quite-awake-yet" angelic expression and curled up next to her mom for some Mother-Daughter time. "Maybe next year you can go to school too with Jack and Eve," her mom said stroking her hair and cuddling the little one.

Abby looked up at her mom with her eyes wide and a little frown on her face. "Oh no, mommy. I'm too busy." Then to prove her point, she jumped off the sofa and went her way on her next activity, all evidence of sleep gone.

Being a wise mom, she won't push Abby to do "schoolwork." Allissa will just provide opportunities for the child's natural curiosity to learn and continue encouraging her to be a part of the "lesson" time with her siblings. By the time Abby is five, she'll be ready and excited to begin the more structured kindergarten curriculum.

Likewise, I love to curl up next to my heavenly Abba and sense His loving arms around me. But like my granddaughter, I often jump up and run off to do my "see-I'm-busy-for-you-work" when He begins to share something new He wants to introduce to my life.

Usually it's because I feel insecure or wary about His new direction or task, but He is wise! He lets me stew on it awhile until I work through the acceptance process and come back to Him with questions and a cautious enthusiasm. He will even provide life experiences and people to guide me gently toward His will.

Without realizing what He has been doing, it suddenly hits me - I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me. He has been busy orchestrating my life until I reach the point I know I can and want to do His will.

Boy, do I feel loved!

Friday, January 4, 2008

A Word In Season


I love it when I really need to hear a word from God and then I pick up my devotional book and there it is!

For Christmas I received a daily calendar from a dear friend with a new word for each day. She figured since I was a writer, I would appreciate a cool way to increase my vocabulary. The best part was that it also included an offer for a free daily calendar in my e-mail – no excuses for not knowing what day it is…

There were several choices for this e-mail daily so I chose a scripture one because I liked the pictures. It also gives me food for thought and a daily tidbit to munch on as I start my writing grind online.

Today I am reclining as I work due to pain in my sacriiliac (honest!!!) I visited the chiropractor yesterday who did some adjustments and told me it might feel worse before it felt better because it had taken a long time to get to this point of pain and would take some time for the surrounding muscles to heal.

Ugh! At least he was honest with me! But resting here this morning I opened up my e-mail calendar and was delighted with the verse – “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth..” 3 John verse 2 (KJV)

Since the first of January, God has been healing my spirit of the natural depression resulting from the losses of last year. Each day has been brighter and more fulfillingas my soul prospers, but I had developed this very painful back condition.

The word on the calendar page this morning was like a radiant smile from God to my soul – He is my healer, both physically and emotionally. It is His wish for me that I prosper and be in health!

This back problem will pass and I will be strengthened and once again able to do all He has for me to do. For today, I will rest in His smile and thank Him for knowing just what words I needed to hear and sending them my way!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Growing in the Son's Light

Today's "In Other Words" meme is being hosted by Nina at her site, Mama's Little Treasures. She has chosen a quote from the book of Proverbs.

"In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet." ~Proverbs 31: 19 - 21~

Now this is a Woman of Purpose!

I woke up early this morning with a sense of anticipation. It's a brand new year - a clean slate. As I lay in bed I began to ponder all the struggles and losses of 2007 - having my children and grand kids living with me for several months, then they moved away to be on their own again; moving to a new pastorate - losing all the relationships we had built and starting over again to build new ones; and losing my mom.

It hit me that I had been suffering from a natural depression these last few months - the kind resulting from grief due to losses. Oh, I could still function to take care of normal day to day things. I could even put words together and do some writing. But there was a large lump of sadness inside that kept me from being fruitful for the Lord and my heart wasn't in my life. Unless I had a strong motivation to do something, I let it go undone.

From my lay counseling studies I knew that this type of grief is a natural result of loss; a part of the healing process that can last from just a few months to several years. Everyone experiences it as a result of loss.

I also knew my current depression was different from the angry depression I felt 15 years ago - a heavy black cloud that caused me to want to flee from my family responsibilities and from God's presence. I needed extra help at that time from God, my family, friends and Christian counselors to expose those ugly roots and uproot that darkness from my life.

As I considered all these things, I began to weep. I wanted my joy back. I wanted my purpose back. Joy had gone to seed during the dormancy of grief. Now it was beginning to sprout again. I felt the light of the Son on my face as I studied my morning devotions, warming and encouraging that joy to grow again.

In my e-mail inbox, a writing friend had sent me an exercise to come up with a mission statement for my writing ministry in 10 words or less. Last week, I would have laid it aside, sighed deeply and promised to get at it soon. Today, I accepted its challenge and wrestled with it until I had it on paper.

Encouraging women to build healthy, supportive relationships for Christian growth.

His light burst on my heart. I found my purpose again in that writing exercise. Like the Proverbs 31 woman of today's quote, God has given me tools to use in accomplishing my purpose in life - tools that can help stave off spiritual hunger as well as provide comfort and warmth.

While I still may have down days as I continue to work through the losses, I'm on the upside of it now. I thank God for giving my life purpose and meaning and especially for His warmth and Light.


If you'd like to join us today, simply blog about the quote on your blog site, then visit Nina at Mama's Little Treasures. to leave your URL along with the other participants. Oh, and don't forget check out some of the other blogs and leave a comment!