The Story of the Bear

THE PROGRAM STARTED at 1:00 pm.  I gathered in the gymnasium with the rest of the grandparents; teddy bear in hand.  It was Grandparent’s Day at my grandson’s school.  He had invited me to attend.  We were to bring an article from history for show and tell.  While some brought items like rotary phones, vinyl records, old pictures; I brought my recycled teddy bear.  When it was my turn to share, I told the children the story of the bear’s beginning.

                When my mother was a little girl, during the depression, baking flour was packaged in cloth bags of brightly colored prints.  Her mother would take her to the store and let her choose a color and pattern of cloth that she liked.  Then her mother would purchase several bags of flour.  When the flour was used up, the material from the flour bags was cut up and sewed into a dress for my mother.  She would wear the dress until she either out grew it, or it wore it out.  Once the dress was not longer usable, it would be cut into smaller cloth pieces.  These smaller pieces would then be sewed into a quilt that they would use to sleep under.  When I was a little girl, my mother still had some of the old quilts that had been washed till they were worn in many places.  A few years back, my mother found a lady who would take old quilts and sew them into teddy bears to be passed down to the next generation with a story to tell.  I think my mother was able to get four teddy bears out of her old quilts.

                 It was fun to share the story of the bear with the children.  My grandson had never heard the story.  I really appreciated the teachers wanting the grandparents to share some history with the children.  It is through stories that children learn about their past.

                It reminded me of the passage in the Bible where God commanded the Israelites to pass their stories verbally from generation to generation so that God would become real to them.

“We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.” (Psalm 78:4, NIV)

Prayer:  Dear Lord,  today was a beautiful reminder to me that I need to be sharing, not only my past, but the wonderful works  You have done in my life.  I have been blessed with so much.  Thank you for the opportunity to share You with my grandchildren.    It is in the name of your son Jesus I pray, Amen.

“Do Not Be Afraid”

IT HAPPENED AGAIN; just like it used to several years ago.  I woke up this morning with the words to a song.  They kept playing over and over in my mind.  When I stopped to really focus, I realized God was sending me a message through these words.  Let me take you back a couple of days before this morning’s revelation.

                Earlier this week, I was elated to learn I had been awarded a full scholarship to attend the Write-to-Publish conference at Wheaten, Illinois in June.  At the conference, I will be able to learn more about the writing industry.  I will also meet editors, publishers, agents and freelance writers.  I can submit some of my writing for professional editing and critiquing.  This will help me as I continue with my writing career.  I can submit up to three different kinds of writing.  Since I learned I received the scholarship, I have been debating which writings to submit.

                The conference will be a perfect opportunity to submit a portion of the book I wrote.  I can submit a chapter from the book or a book proposal which gives the full scope of the book.  A book proposal is what is sent to an editor for publishing consideration.  Doubting my ability and inexperience to write a good book proposal, I have been leaning toward submitting just the chapter.  This morning, however, after receiving God’s message through the words of the song, I have decided otherwise.

                The message I received was lyrics from the song The Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns.

 And the Voice of Truth says “Do not be afraid!”

 And the Voice of Truth says, “This is for My glory”

                When I wrote the book, God led me through the entire writing process.  I was obedient to His calling and wrote the words He gave me.  A wise friend once told me, that when the time came, God would see that the book would get into the hands of the people He wanted to read it.  Now, after two years, could this possibly be God’s direction?  I believe it is.  God has reassured me that I am to be His vessel.  He will walk with me through every step of the way writing the book proposal, just like He did with writing the book.  My part is to be obedient to what He has called me to do.  If the book gets published, it will not be because of anything I have done or written.  It will be because God has willed it to be.

                I am looking forward to the journey God has laid before me.  I am excited to see how He plans to further use me in His Kingdom work.  I know that the people I meet at the conference will be by divine appointment through God.  They will be people that God has placed along my path to further His message.  I am still in awe that He has chosen me for this task.  I am ready do this all for His glory.

                As a side note, to give me further reassure, see the scripture from my daily devotion.

“Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3, NKJV)

                What an awesome God I serve!!!

What’s On Your ‘Bucket List’?

BRZZZZZZZZZZ.  5:04 PM.  I glanced at my vibrating cell phone.  ‘BETTY’ flashed upon the screen.  “Sorry, I need to take this call,” I said to the co-worker chatting with me as I reached for the phone.  “This is my mom.”

            Mom was calling to tell me she had made it safely to Jacksonville and was on her way to my brother’s house.  At the age of 79 and health issues gradually starting to take their toll, Mom had wanted to visit my brother in Florida while she was physically able.  When she learned that all of my brother’s children and grandchildren (with the exception of one) would be in Florida this weekend, she decided that this would be an opportune time to see them all.  She has two great grandchildren that she has never met, so was very excited about the trip.

                Mom had been to Maryland last summer to spend time with my oldest brother Rick and his family when Rick’s daughter graduated from high school.  She had always hoped to be able to visit my brother Joe in Florida and see the house be designed and built.  It was on her ‘bucket list’ she once told me.  Now she was there.  I said a prayer of thanks for her arriving safely.

                I thought about Mom being able to cross one more thing off her ‘bucket list’.  The phrase ‘bucket list’ is one that I have heard used more and more since the movie “The Bucket List” aired in 2007.  Its definition is:  a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.  When people talk about the items on their ‘bucket list’, most of the time they are things like taking an exotic vacation, going skydiving, writing a book, etc.; adventures that bring a sense of wonder, excitement, exhilaration.  No time, however, have I heard people say that their ‘bucket list’ contains experiences like working in a soup kitchen for a month, taking in a single mom and her children until she can get on her feet, or making a weekly visit to the local nursing home.  I wonder why.  Perhaps, they are experiences that don’t seem grand.  Perhaps they are included, but just not talked about.  Maybe, it is because these types of experiences are focused outward on others and not inward on yourself.  People tend to want to receive gratification.   ‘Bucket lists’ seem to be me centered and what I take away from the experience or the achievement, not how they affect others.

                I thought about Jesus.  I wondered if He had a ‘bucket list’.  If so, what experiences or achievements might have made it into His Top 10?  Let’s see, here’s a few I can think of from the book of John in the Bible:

10)          Turn water into wine (John 2:1-11)

9)            Give a Samaritan woman living water (John 4:1-26)

8)            Heal a paralytic (John 5:1-8)

7)            Feed 5000 people with five barley loaves and two fish (John 6:5-13)

6)            Walk on water (John 6:19-21)

5)            Heal a man born blind (John 9:1-12)

4)            Raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-44)

3)            Fulfill a prophesy by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey (John 12:12-16)

2)            Die on the cross for the sins of all humanity (John 19:16-37)

1)            Rise from the dead bringing salvation to all (John 3:16)

                     WOW…..what a list!!!   Jesus’s ‘bucket list’ goes on and on.  Yet, in all of his experiences and achievements, his focus was not on himself, but on others.

                 Hmmm.  So, where does that leave me?  If I change the focus from me to others, how might that affect my ‘bucket list’?  What life changing experiences will make it into my Top 10 now?  Will they only be life changing for me, or will others benefit from the choices I have placed on my ‘bucket list’?

                 If I take my example from Jesus, my ‘bucket list’ will change completely.  It will require a totally different way of thinking.  The question now becomes…Am I willing to make that change?

                        What about you?

The entire law is summed up in a single command:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13, NIV)

Guided by God’s Hand

CLANK, WHIR, RATTLE, SCREECH.  The noises came from the right front side of the car as I braked slowly behind a turning vehicle.  We looked at each other.  “That didn’t sound good,” Katie said.

                “No, it did not,” I replied.

                We were on a country road heading home, which was approximately thirty-five miles away, when the noises occurred.  We were out in the middle of nowhere and not sure what to do.  After the vehicle ahead of us turned, I gradually accelerated till I was traveling at a moderate pace.  The noises faded and then disappeared as we continued to drive toward home.  I turned the flashers on for good measure.  Then……THUNK.

                We looked at each other, again.  Katie spoke first, “It sounded like you just hit something.”

                “I know,” I said, glancing in my rear view mirror, “but I don’t see anything.”

                No sooner had the words left my lips when the dashboard lit up red.  VOLT.  CHECK CHARGE SYSTEM.   I pulled off the road and came to a stop.   If left the car idling; I was afraid to turn off.  Removing the manual from the glove compartment, I flipped through the pages looking for the meaning of the warning lights.  After finding them, I discovered they were not much help.

                Since the temperature light was still in the middle of the gauge when we stopped, I decided to drive on toward the little town five miles ahead.  Within seconds after pulling back onto the road, the temperature light flung to the right registering ‘Hot’.  Flashers blinking and driving slow, we inched forward.  As I guided the car along the road, the steering wheel turned hard.  I realized that the power steering was gone.  If only we could make it to the town ahead, there was a car garage on the corner of the intersection.  Hopefully it would be open, and someone would be able to help us figure out what was happening.

                After a few tense minutes of driving – thankfully the road was not curvy, but a straight shot – we made it safely to the car garage.  We were discouraged, however, to find it closed.  After making a few phone calls, Katie’s father-in-law told us to check under the hood.  From our description of what happened, he suspected the culprit was the serpentine belt.  Peering under the hood, we found what looked like a black snake curled up laying in the bottom of the motor carriage.  The belt had melted into and came to rest wedged between some parts.  Katie confirmed to her father-in-law that his suspicion was correct.  Realizing we would not be able to drive any further, Katie asked if someone could come pick us up.

                It was a bright sunny afternoon; a warm spring day.  It felt wonderful to be outside.  While we waited, we decided to walk to the police station to inform them we would be leaving the car at the service garage.  We crossed the street, opened the door to the police station, and stepped into a small waiting area.  A couple of chairs set next to a large plate glass window that overlooked the sidewalk on the outside.  At the far left, on the opposite wall, was a light brown door which we suspected led to the back of the station. The door looked to be locked.  A red phone hung on the wall next to the door.  A sticker on the phone read, “Pick up the receiver, and you will immediately be connected.”

                I lifted the receiver.  “Hello?  Hello?”  No one answered.

                I rapped loudly on the wooden door that separated the waiting area from the back.  Knock, knock, knock.  No one came.  “Ok,” I thought, “What do we do now?”

                 Next door to the police station was a liquor store.  We walked next door and went inside.  The kind elderly gentleman behind the counter informed us that the police station was not always manned.  I explained our dilemma, and he told us if he saw an officer, he would pass on the information.

                We left the liquor store and headed back to the car.  Just as we reached the street corner where we would cross, a police car pulled up to a stop.  I waved to the officer.  He rolled down his window, and I told him about the car.  He recommended that we turn off the flashers before we headed home.  This would save the battery.  We thanked him and crossed the street walking toward the car.

                “Do you think he heard us?” Katie asked.  “What are the chances he would pull up at this exact moment?”

                “No, Katie, that was God!  I think He was watching over for us,” I exclaimed.  I started listing the blessings.  “It did not happen when Mom was with us.  It did not happen when we were in the city having lunch.  It did not happen while we were on the busy highway driving back to Mom’s.  After the belt broke, we were able to drive to the next town and pull into a car garage.  Even though the garage wasn’t open, it was a perfect place to leave the car.  The policeman pulled up at just the right time.  And, we were able to get a ride home. If we were going to have car trouble, everything fell into place just right.  We couldn’t have asked for things to go any more perfectly.”

                We reached the car and waited for our ride.  Passing the time, we chatted about the events.  I sat in awe at God’s timing and how He guided the situation.  Within ten minutes our ride had arrived, and we were safely on our way home.  Since then, I have thanked God several times for the blessings He sent our way.

“The Lord will guide you always;” (Isaiah 58:11, NIV)

Psalm 16

IT HAS BEEN an overwhelming week for my husband and I.  On Tuesday, we met with a kidney transplant team from St. Vincent’s Hospital in Indianapolis.  My husband is not on dialysis yet, but has qualified for the transplant list for the last 8 years.  He has decided that he is tired of being tired.  He is now ready to move forward with a possible transplant.  He wants to start feeling better.

After a long day of interviewing with the transplant team and undergoing several tests, we left with orders for more tests to be preformed back home.  The good news so far is that he looks to be a good candidate for a transplant.  The team will reconvene once all the test results are back and make a final decision.  If yes, his name gets submitted to the list for a kidney transplant.  If he should get a live donor, then he skips the list all together.

As for now, we are in ‘waiting’ mode.  The whole process, even though it has been overwhelming, has been amazing and we have seen God’s hand in every step of the way.  It has been a blessing to say the least.  Let me leave you with following verses from Psalm 16 that have given me encouragement today.

Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.  I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing. (vs. 1-2, NIV)

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. (vs. 5-6)

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.  I have set the Lord always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  (vs.7-8)

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, (vs. 9)

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (vs. 11-12)

Prayer:  Thank you Lord for being there for us and leading us forward in the direction You have planned for us.  May we continue to seek Your guidance every step of the way, and remember that we rest securely in the palm of your hand.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.