Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wherever I am...

After years of pondering where society is going with technology, I read a quote by the late missionary Jim Elliot who said, "Wherever you are, be all there." I take it to mean to be in the moment.

People answer their cell phones in restaurants and have conversations at their tables. Women (especially in my town) drive along with cell phones held to their ears. I've been to family parties and watched the younger generation send and receive text messages while having conversations with others.

Email flies across the internet and no one is ever incommunicado. I remember waiting an hour before checking my email at work, so I could accomplish some tasks before getting bogged down with more work and needing to reply to people.

I receive phone calls from people, while they're in the middle of making soup or while they have a TV or radio blaring in the background and they're not focused on our conversation. And they are the ones who called me!

I am as guilty as the others already mentioned. Not so much with technology but with thinking about where I need to go next or what errands need to happen in what order during a conversation with someone. When my kids were small and "big yakkers," my mind would travel elsewhere.

Now I am committed to wherever I am, to be all there.

Will you join me?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Master Planner

The definition of coincidence is a sequence of events that although accidental seems to have been planned or arranged. I don't use the word coincidence because I believe that God is The Master Planner.

It all began on January 7 at Bible Study where people write prayer requests in a notebook. Carol had written Kathy's name, who is a church member and is also my neighbor, asking for healing and recovery while she is having chemotherapy. I have known Kathy for years since her son and my daughter were in the high school marching band together.

I didn't even know that she was sick.

On January 14 after Bible Study I had the chance to ask about Kathy and was told that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. So I made a note in my calendar to send her a card of encouragement and prayer.

On January 17 I started reading A Life That Says Welcome by Karen Ehman and just finished Chapter 1. A task under "Putting It Into Practice," said to "Name someone in your life whom God is nudging you to reach out to," and I thought of Kathy.

I wrote a note to Kathy telling her that I'd just heard about her diagnosis and chemotherapy treatments and asked if we could get together for a visit if she was feeling up to one. I also wrote a prayer for her to experience God's healing touch and for comfort for her family during this time. I was hopeful that she would give me a call with a day that was good for her.

I wrote the following prayer in my journal: Lord, I pray for your guidance and wisdom in reaching out to Kathy. Help me to determine what your desire is and how I can encourage her during this health crisis. Amen.

I believe God is guiding me toward Kathy, yet had to laugh because I wanted to get the card in the mail quickly and then remembered that there is no mail delivery on MLK Day. So I would have to wait until Tuesday (January 19) to mail the card.

On January 19 the card is put in the mailbox and gets picked up in the afternoon. At 8:45 p.m. I get a phone call from Carol who is in charge of scheduling meal deliveries for Kathy and her family during the month of January. Carol had a volunteer cancel and was wondering if I could take a meal to Kathy on January 27. (My name had come to her since she remembered that I was a neighbor.) Of course I said yes.

So I see this as an opportunity to visit Kathy, or if she's not feeling well maybe I'll visit briefly with her daughter and husband. (Their son is off at college.)

Talk about a sequence of events that seem to have been planned or arranged, not by accident, but by God. God is The Master Planner who arranged all of this in 20 days.

Have you ever had a similar experience?

Thank you Lord for your concise plan and please guide me to be helpful to Kathy and her family. Amen.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Walking Toward Independence

22+ years ago, our son was born in Maryland. He has since graduated from university and is looking for his first full-time job in his chosen profession of teaching.

He composed his resume, received letters of recommendation, copied his transcript and Praxis scores, and filled out online applications. He received a by-invitation-only request to interview at a job fair for Fairfax County (Virginia) School District.

Since it was on a Saturday we decided to make it a road trip for our son's "parental units" too. So all plans were set.

As I saw his stress level increase in the week leading up to the interview, I told him that this was a win/win situation for him. It was his first interview for a teaching position and if he didn't get the job, he could chalk it up to a valuable learning experience (win).....if he did get a job offer (in the future) with the school district (win).

We left home at 6:00 a.m., saw very little traffic and headed south to Virginia. The trip took 3.5 hours and we arrived well before his check-in time of 10:30 for his 11-11:30 interview. We dropped him off at 10:30 and watched him walk away in his suit and tie with his portfolio under his arm.

My husband and I marveled at another amazing moment in parenthood. Our son was making another step toward independence. Walking away from us and toward his future. Wow.

Around noon he called us to pick him up and when we pulled up, he looked at us and smiled. The interview went well. Different than he had expected, yet he was happy with himself. The recruiter said that he might receive a call in June when they have a list of secondary ed. math openings.

In the meantime, he'll be looking for teaching opportunities closer to our home and in the end, he agreed that the first interview was a win/win.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Prayer Quilt Ministry

My church has a Prayer Quilt Ministry. This is something I heard about recently and am grateful for the discovery. (I had heard of Prayer Shawls before and had received a Prayer Scarf from my mother's Prayer Group after I had surgery in 2008.)

Our nephew Gregory died on December 8, 2009. My Bible Study Buddies had been praying for Gregory and his family throughout his illness and when I told them of his death, one of the ladies asked if his wife Becky would benefit from a Prayer Quilt.

One of the quilters (Carol)attends the Bible Study and said that she would begin working on it. She asked me for color suggestions and pattern suggestions.

Carol chose the fabric and pieced the front together. Small strings were attached to the quilt so that after praying, a person would tie a knot on one of the strings.

Dot inserted the batting and attached the back of the quilt. She always pieces in a cross in the upper right corner of the back of the quilt.

Carol finished the edging and attached a label which says the name of our church, the recipient's name and that prayers were prayed over the quilt.

Then the physical quilt is completed.

The quilt was made available for people to pray over. My Bible Study Buddies prayed for Becky to feel God's presence, strength and comfort during her time of mourning. The quilt was also available after both worship services for people to pray for Becky too.

This past Friday, my daughter and I took lunch and the Prayer Quilt over to Becky. I had typed up some information about the Prayer Quilt Ministry for her. I have found that when I have a lot of information to impart that in the "emotion of the moment" I tend to not be able to effectively communicate everything that I want or need to say so I am thankful that I had the envelope to leave with Becky.

What I have learned is that a Prayer Quilt is more than just a blanket. It is visible and tangible evidence of faith. Faith in God, faith in love, and faith in prayer. It is not only a blessing to the person receiving the Prayer Quilt, it's also a blessing to the people creating it, a blessing to the people praying over it, and a blessing to those delivering it.

I feel God's comfort in thinking that Becky is able to literally cover herself in prayers. That over the years the quilt will become more soft and she can enfold herself in prayers.

I thank God for Carol and Dot and for their gifts of quilting, faith, and healing in the Prayer Quilt Ministry!

Do you have a Prayer Quilt Ministry at your church?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Am I A Cheerleader?

In 2 Corinthians 2:14-16a Paul says, "But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life."

I read these verses a couple days ago and while sitting down to dinner as a family, I said that I loved to hear that we are to others "the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ" and we are to God "the aroma of Christ."

I think the reason the scripture was jumping out at me was because of my baking leading up to Christmas. All the fragrance and aroma of pumpkin bread, cookies, pies......wonderful!

In meeting with my Bible Study Buddies for the first time in the new year, I entered the room and immediately one of them mentioned that I looked like a co-ed. OK. I was wearing a Bloomsburg sweat jacket, my canvas bag on my shoulder(also Bloomsburg) and was carrying my cold Diet Coke in a Bloomsburg cozy. (Enough of my great fashion sense! Ha!) I laughed and told her the cozy was from my Christmas stocking. The next thing she said was, "Were you a cheerleader?"

(That made me laugh! I was so not a cheerleader! I was a typical late '70s teenager living in a small town, with a bad attitude, making bad decisions.)

Later that day, I started thinking about how in my God focused years I have become an encourager. I cheered for my husband with every relocation we made with his career. I cheered for my kids through school, activities, accomplishments. I cheered for nieces, nephews, other family members and friends throughout their lives.

I had an epiphany, I am a cheerleader.

In my Bible, I have underlined 1 Thessalonians 5:11 where Paul says, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

Maybe that is the fragrance of Christ that I bring out into the world (beginning in my home and working my way outward.)

Are you a cheerleader?