Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Most Special Christmas!

I decided to share a special Christmas memory with you because one of the things I have noticed over the years is that we tend to give our loved ones the gifts we wish someone had given us. So we buy our granddaughters a doll that we think is beautiful when they really had their heart set on a movie or give our sons a watch when they really yearned for a ticket to a football game. And the message that we send is that we didn't listen close enough when they told us what they were wishing for and that we didn't know them well enough to know their fondest dreams or what brings them joy. One year two people heard me with their hearts and gave me a Christmas memory that I still think about after forty six years.

I was eleven years old and feeling so mature because the next fall I would be entering junior high school and would have seven different teachers a day and riding a bus three miles to school. I was growing up. When Daddy asked me what I wanted for Christmas I gave him a big spiel about how badly I needed a watch so I would know how many minutes I had left in a class before it was time to go to the next one. He gave me a speech (while I rolled my eyes) that I was not mature enough to take proper care of an expensive watch, that I wouldn't keep it out of water, put it in a safe place when I took it off, on and on and on he went. Then he asked what else would I like since a watch would not be suitable for a child. Trying to show my maturity I explained that what I really wanted was my very own Bible, one that zipped and had my name on it. Again he explained that I wasn't ready for such a sacred book, that he had seen over the years where I had scribbled in books and until I was mature enough to know that a Bible or any other book should be treated with respect, he could not provide me with a Bible. He explained how rare books had been when he was growing up and how he had built a library at our house for me to enjoy (my eyes were rolling again) but no, I was not mature enough for my own Bible. I was hurt. He couldn't see just how mature I had become. After all I was eleven and so in my most mature way I stormed from the room!!

Christmas morning came. I got up before the rest of the family and went into the dark living room and plugged in the tree. There were tons of packages under the tree and the room was full of wonder. A warm glow from the lights on the tree added to the magic. Soon the family joined me and the wonderful sounds of "oohs" and "ahhs" filled the room when the sounds of tearing paper began. It was a wonderful time and I received a lot of wonderful gifts and the most special one of all came in a small white envelope. It was from my aunt Ollie, she had no husband or children and not much money. Inside the envelope there was a $10 bill (what amount would that be today?} and on a torn piece of notebook paper in pencil she had written the words, "for what you had wanted in your heart but no one knew what it was to buy it". Tears filled my eyes then as they do even today as I remember her love and insight. We all want someone to know that what we want in our heart matters .

All the presents were unwrapped and we were ready for breakfast. As soon as we were through eating Daddy said he wanted to talk to be alone in the den. I followed him there my heart beating rapidly. He started talking to me about the mistake he had made when he had judged me so harshly about what I had wanted for Christmas. He said he had thought it over and had decided I was about the most mature eleven year old he had ever known and he handled me two wrapped packages. The first was a beautiful watch with thin black cord straps. He showed me how to set it, wind it and had me listen to the fine ticking sound. Then he told me to open the last present. It was a wonderful Bible, white leather with my name printed in gold. He took great care to show me how Jesus' words were written in red. He had made sure this Bible had a concordance and showed me how to use it. He explained what a fantastic tool it would be for me to use all of my life . And then he showed me where he had written my name inside along with it being given in great love to me from him and Mother, and the date. He held me tight as I cried and promised him I would treasure them always and take really good care of them. I have kept that promise. He knew I would.

An aunt who knew that a child had unknown wishes, a Daddy who knew what an important impact his faith in me could make, made a Christmas memory that has lasted a lifetime. It is the intent of the giver that gives the gift its value, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Let The Whole World Know, Christ Is Born.....

I have wanted to ring the bell for the Salvation Army for more than thirty years. You may wonder why it took me so long to do it. I would think about it every Christmas and wonder who one contacted to be a bell ringer. I had never met anyone that had rung a bell to ask them so I just procrastinated over the years. I thought about calling the main number to ask if anyone outside their congregation could do it. As with all things, the time passed so swiftly with me continuing to take action. That is until this year! A gentlemen stood up one Sunday during worship, rang the bell, and said something to the effect that if we really want to feel the Christmas Spirit sign up and ring the bell for one hour at Lowe’s Food Store in King. Ah, finally my answer after so many years of wondering how this process worked. I approached Don after the service and asked if he had the 3:00 slot open. It was his last one open; further assurance to me that this was meant to be.

I showed up that Saturday afternoon with a folding chair in hand. I knew how tired my legs could get standing on cement for an hour. I talked with the people I was replacing. They had enjoyed the experience. People had been very nice to them. It was fairly cold in the shade of the overhang at Lowe’s but soon my thoughts were a long way from where I was standing. My eyes were overflowing and tears were running down my face as I saw, in my mind’s eye, children shivering when they got out of bed in the morning. I “saw” fathers and mothers that were hungry, tired and worried about letting their children down at the holidays because they was no money. I “heard” them thank me for not letting them remain invisible. They “told” me that when we ring the bell, we are their voices and they are no longer forgotten. I don’t have adequate words to describe this moving and powerful spiritual experience. I can tell you that it was overwhelming and meaningful.

Observing humanity for one hour was an interesting experience. What I observed was that the better dressed people did not make eye contact with me nearly as often as those who appeared to have very little. The folks who seemed to have the least hurried to the bucket to make their donations, as parents they used it as a learning experience to teach their children about sharing, and often they would thank me for giving my time to ring the bell.

The experience was worth the wait, I felt my heart expand enough to allow more of God’s love to fill me.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Eve Service, 2002

A Letter To The Choir:

Christmas Eve

I had a Jewish friend once who told me that people of her faith, when asked to describe a spiritual experience, simply said it was a ‘descending into words’ because words are just so inadequate. And this is where I find myself as I attempt to describe to you what I experienced the first year I came to our Christmas Eve service.

I came to the church not knowing exactly what to expect because even though I had been to countless Christmas Eve services, candlelight services, etc. I did not know what this would be like. The music began, bells were being played along with the piano, old familiar carols were filling the air. Then the other instruments were added and I started feeling my whole body and spirit being immersed in beautiful sound. The lump in my throat became huge and the tears began streaming down my face. Pachelbel’s Cannon nearly made me float through the roof. The choir reached out with their voices to embrace everyone there.

There are times in life when our pain is so great that we yearn to climb onto the very lap of God to be rocked. This music is what I would choose to hear as God put His arms around me to bring me comfort.

I want to thank all those who participated in giving us such a glorious night for Christmas. God touched your human endeavors and magnified them tenfold.

I stayed to hear it again into the second service, even though my spirit was overflowing. It was hard for me to leave. God blessed my Christmas through you.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Trip To The Ocean In The Fall??

Flickering candle Pictures, Images and Photos

My husband had an idea.....he was ready for an adventure. Let's go check out a different North Carolina beach, somewhere we haven't been. In October, why in the world would we do that I answered. I have 4 shops to get ready for the holidays, I have 3 doctor's appointments, I'm setting up at a Bazaar. Let's just do it he replied.

Why not? We're retired. Isn't that when we are to give in to our whims and just "hit the road" when the road calls?

And so we did. We loved it. There was no traffic. The rental space was nice. People everywhere we went were friendly. I asked strangers where the good restaurants were and when we got the same answer from 3 different people we knew where to go. Scientific way to live life I say. Restaurants turned out to be amazing......beautiful views from every window and the freshest and best food to be found.

All of that was wonderful but what happened on the way home was amazing. We talked and reflected on our trip for the first couple hours and then we listened to a tape (you remember tapes....the things before cd's) of a minister giving a seminar in the 1960's. It was so interesting. We pushed pause, we discussed, we turned it off, we shared personal spiritual experiences. We wept. Nearly 27 years together and we can still have these amazing conversations where our spirits are so joined sometimes I wonder if even death can separate us?

And so it is.

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over!

flickering candle Pictures, Images and Photos

For today, I am running over with an abundant heart full of gratitude: I have had enough energy to get the things done that needed to be done by me, I have been hugged by friends at the shops where I put out Christmas items, I have heard from all my daughters, I was given a neighbor years ago that became a "Grandma" to my youngest girl after my Mom died (invaluable) and I talked with her today, my husband and I went out to lunch and talked and talked, we drove through the hills and valleys and soaked in the colored leaves and sunshine, I have a new "heart" friend through blogland, and I am looking forward to my tomorrows.

Not every day is like this but more are than are not and so for this day I am taking the time to feel the gratitude and say with every molecule of my being "Thank you, Father". And so it is.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Caught Between Two Worlds

Presents Pictures, Images and Photos

Manger Pictures, Images and Photos

I have another blog "Finders Keepers" and I just wrote a post there by the same title as here. As I was writing about being caught between Fall and Christmas at my antique booths and how it makes my head spin I realized I was feeling something deeper. Hence, this post. You see if I am really truthful with myself (and really isn't that who matters most?) I get torn between two worlds at Christmas starting right now. It is nearly two months until Christmas but I feel the pull of the material world, the pressure of our own culture to buy, to have, and to do. And then in the quiet I feel the pull of Spirit, of God's love reminding me that what I buy is not important but that how I treat people is. He reminds me that no gift takes the place of time well spent with a friend.....of shared laughter, tears, memories. He reminds me that spending time in the quiet with Him, fills my spirit to overflowing, empowers me in ways that are good so that I may be more like Him.

I must remind myself every day, with the pressures of advertisements to conform to a certain image, that I be true to me to what I know is Important and Everlasting.

How about you? Do you take the time to step aside and think about the Holiness of the Holidays? How do you keep the sacred?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Husband's Art Plus God = Inspired Paintings

Flickering Candle Pictures, Images and Photos

When I first met my husband I was amazed with his artwork. How and when I met him are stories for my other blog "FindersKeepers" which certainly fits the story:) I'll post that one day soon when the mood hits.

Jeff's goad is to capture the spirit of whomever he draws or paints and if it is a landscape he wants to capture the Spirit of God as he sees Him in that particular creation.

It is obvious that I am not a professional photographer but take a look and see if they touch you.

I am glad you took the time to visit and I thank you for each comment or question you leave. I like knowing what you think!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

You Are Fired!!

Flickering candle Pictures, Images and Photos

I have to go back in my mind many years but I remember the pain, the humiliation. and yes, even the miracle of it.

My branch operation was sold and I was offered a transfer to another location and to start in sales after being in management for many years. I took the transfer and we'll fast forward about eight months. I was called into my manager's office and he told me he wanted me to clean out my office at the end of the day, that I was fired. I was stunned, I didn't see it coming. I walked out of his office went straight to the bathroom and cried until there were no more tears and then I prayed. I asked God if this was His plan for my life, should I leave or should I defend myself, go over my manager's head and stay. I was torn. I knew there were personality issues at stake but I wanted much more than ego satisfaction. I wanted to be on the "right road". Never have I prayed more earnestly for a "sign" from God so I would know what to do. I fixed my face, joined the staff and tried to act like nothing had happened. An hour or so passed and a customer came in (we were taking rotation and it was my turn). I talked with them for an hour or so, showed them homes and at some point in all that (and yes, my tummy was upset the whole time and I was trying to hold myself together with silent prayer) the husband looked at me and said, "there is something so different about you from any salesperson we have ever met" and then the wife smiled and said, "well, honey, I'll bet you are a Christian, aren't you?" I said (with conviction), "I am". Very long story, short (I know, you didn't think I could do that, but every once in awhile, it happens) they bought the house. I wrote up the sales agreement (better known as the contract), took their down payment and they left. I went (with all paperwork in hand plus the money) into my manager's office. I put it on his desk and looked him in the eye and I said, "I'm not going anywhere, this is where I am suppose to be!" I went back to my office (yes, shaking all over, inside and out) and an hour or so later the owner of the company drove up to the office. He came in to my desk, put out his right hand and shook mine. He laughed and said he thought he should make a video of the gal that refused to be fired. He later promoted me to manager and vice-president at another location.

Sometimes we, like the tree that is planted by the water, must refuse to be moved.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Making A Difference!! One Yard Sale At A Time!

candle Pictures, Images and Photos

Tomorrow I am setting up at an inside sale at a local elementary by renting space from the PTO. There will be about 17 families doing this. I love yard sales because it is a win-win situation: I get rid of my stuff and somebody else gets a bargain, a treasure at a good price. I get "high" when I see somebody "like" my goodies well enough to buy them. I don't sew or craft but I do love to go to yard sales and stock my booths at antique shops and occasionally set-up (usually in my yard) and have a huge blow out. Does my heart good.....makes my husband happy to see clutter turned into cash.

Tomorrow, I will laugh with people, get to know a few, share or hear a story or two, have my heart touched by seeing a needy adult or child and I will do my best to make their day brighter by being kind and by giving them a great price! It is a different world at a yard sale and it asks me to think higher and to share more.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

We Are Never Alone

candle gif

I was twenty one years old, married and living about eight hours from my mom and dad. I had no relatives or close friends in the area. My doctor told me that I had to have surgery to stop some hemorrhaging. I was scared. Late on the night before surgery the anesthesiologist came to my hospital room to talk with me. He explained to me that when he saw people as large as me come into the operating room he wanted to run away as quickly as possible. He explained that because of my weight it was hard to determine the amount of drugs to give me to keep me “asleep” during surgery, that he might give me too much and cause my heart to stop. He said that if he chose to do a spinal the chances were that he could hit the wrong spot and paralyze me. Now I was terrified. I told him to just call off the surgery and he said we couldn't’t do that. When he left, I asked my roommate if she had heard what he had said to me. She said, “Yes, he said he might kill you or paralyze you because of your weight!”

I went inside myself and hunted for peace, for God and for strength. I felt so alone. I was an adult but I wanted my Mother to reassure me that everything would be alright. As I lay there in torment, tossing and turning, I heard someone walk into the room. My foot was outside the covers just as it always was when I tried to get to sleep. I felt a gentle squeeze on my big toe, as my Mother had done a thousand times, when she had come to tell me goodnight. I looked into the face of a nurse telling me everything would be fine but who I saw, who I heard was God speaking to me once again through the voice of my Mother.

The surgery turned out just fine. I ended up with a spinal and was able to wiggle my toes as soon as the surgery was complete. The anesthesiologist told me that what he was seeing was impossible. I told him it was just God reassuring me that he had not paralyzed me!

When we are at our lowest points, God finds a way to reassure us of His presence and love. Sometimes we are the ones He asks to reach out and other times we are the receiver. Either way we are richly blessed to experience His love and peace.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Grey's Anatomy A Few Season Ago......

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Grey’s Anatomy

I was all set to share my first experience at the Gemein House in Laurel Ridge (our church camp) and then everything shifted in my mind and in my heart.

Do you watch Grey’s Anatomy on TV on Thursday nights? Last night I did and I hope if you are an avid watcher you will forgive me if I do an injustice to the dialogue but for those who missed it, I want to let you in on what happened.

The father of one of the young doctors died on last night’s episode (this is all fiction) and one of his peers followed him outside and welcomed him into the “ Kids With Dead Dads Club”. She explained that her Dad had died when she was nine and that she was so sorry that her friend had to pay such a high price to join the club. He told her that he just did not know how to exist in a world with his father was no longer in it. She replied that the sad part is that we never learn how to do that. Tears were pouring down my cheeks and I was doubled over in grief-ridden pain.

My father died when I was thirty five, my mother when I was forty two. At the HELP circle at church a few weeks ago one of the women shared that when her parents died she had felt like an orphan. I wanted to hug her and say, “Yes, that is what I felt like, and some days still do. An orphan without a home.”.

When my two older children’s father died when he was forty-two, I had a few moments with my Mother before I saw them. I remember her holding me so tight, I was sobbing and telling her that I just wasn’t old enough or wise enough to say the right words to them and she replied, “Oh, my dear baby girl, we never are.”

I later returned to Missouri to go back to work. A couple days later one of the ministers I worked with called me. I answered the phone and no one said a word for a minute. Then finally I heard Tim say that this was one of the hardest phone calls he had ever made and that he didn’t know what to say to me. I told him the fact that he had taken the time to breathe my pain with me, even for a moment, was enough. And it was. Are the words ever adequate anyway?

And, after all these years, when the grief can still come with the force of a tidal wave and knock my legs out from under me, I know that there are those of you that breathe it with me. That you have gone through the same experiences and more. We are becoming family to each other in a different but loving way as we all continue our journey home

God will continue to dry the tears, give us strength and peace. Thanks be to God

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Best Medicine...Helping Others!!!

CANDLE FOR TANNER BUB Pictures, Images and Photos

Mission Blitz

I am trying to think back to how it all began, at least in my mind. I suppose it was nearly a year ago when Jim (our pastor) spoke on a Sunday morning of how we all need to be in service helping one another. He told stories of several families that needed help but the one I remember the most was about a man living in a house with huge leaks in the roof. I was both agitated and moved by his message. I felt as if I was inspired and ready to vote for the cause but didn’t know where to register. Where were these families? I agreed I needed to help them and that I even wanted to help them but how could I go about it? I told Jim how I felt. Others must have bent his ear also because he shared with the Elders of the church at the next meeting that he felt a need to help the community and that there had to be a way that we could give back like he had seen done at Laurel Ridge (the town where our church camp is located. And then he said, with a glow in his eyes, that if other churches responded and did the same thing, it would multiply and many more people could be helped in our community. Everyone agreed that the time was right and that we could do it.

Later after some groundwork had been done, Jim brought another message to us on a Sunday morning and at the end of it he asked who was willing to help, to be Christ to those in need. The entire church came forward. It was a moving experience as we prepared our minds and souls for service.

It took a lot of work by many people. Countless hours locating the people that needed the help of our church, meetings by dozens of people on how these tasks could be accomplished and other meetings to see how everyone in the church could be involved: by praying, working, donating, cooking, etc. Finally the vision was taking shape and the date arrived.

We kicked it off with a Thursday evening Mission Blitz dinner. The room was filled with love and enthusiasm. Teams had been formed, money and donations had come in, and breakfast and dinner would be cooked and served to the workers and supporters each day.

As the week progressed, the stories started floating in. People were telling the workers that their neighbor needed more help than they did, people receiving the help were feeding the workers, thanking them, and sharing stories. The workers were returning to the church with their bodies tired and sore but their hearts overflowing with love and excitement. I saw more hugging, laughing and handshaking during the Blitz than at any other time in our church. I heard more positive stories and comments from people and I heard the yearning to do yet more. Never have I been more proud to belong to any church or to be associated with such fine people . Never have I felt more “Christian”.

Good deeds are contagious. I started hearing families saying they were going to have a Blitz and call in other members of their families to help people in need. What if, as Jim says, we have indeed started something really, really good? Often he closes our worship service with these words, “We came here today to worship, let us go out to serve.”

During Mission Blitz, we truly did. In one way or another our prayers and hearts were connected to do good. Now we get to decide whether it was just a flicker of a candle in the night or will the flame to burn and ignite other candles??

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Letting Go of Dreams, People, Places!

Candle Pictures, Images and Photos

I'm glad you stopped by for a visit today. I have been bubbling over wanting to share with you about a sermon I heard today. It meant something to me, turned a light on in my head that shined its light right into my heart.

The title the minister chose for his message was "Drawing Straight From Crooked Lines". Interesting title, isn't it?

The crux of the message is that our lives are lived in "crooked lines". We make plans to buy a house and then we are laid off from our job or transferred or get pregnant and therefore our line to buy that home is put off while we have a detour down a crooked line. He talked about how our lives are filled with the unexpected: a lost job, a spouse dying, a home burning (his did 5 years ago and he lost everything), a child moving across the country, etc. He spoke of how God's plan for our lives was a straight line to our destination of becoming all we are created to be but that we see "the crooked lines" as detours because we don't see the entire plan. We aren't able and that of course is where faith comes in. Resting in God's love, knowing that the road we travel is the best one for us. None of this is new to us, is it? But the slant of thought that he brought to the message that was meant for me is this: "most of our deepest suffering as human beings is because we don't let go of the plan we had, the outcome we wanted". Is that what I do I asked?
Have I caused myself pain because I didn't let go of a dream. Oh yes, that is what I have done, it is what I do and I have increased my pain by doing it. Instead of mourning the loss I could be celebrating the road I didn't plan.

Case in point. When we moved to North Carolina through early retirement, we picked out the town, the state. We could have gone anywhere but one daughter was in the Marines and stationed at Cherry Point,NC, one daughter was in West Virginia, single and planning on following us, the third daughter was in junior high school and with us. I had read all the books that warned not to make any retirement plans based on your children's plans because they always change but still I did just that. Oh, logically I could see that children aside it was a good and logical choice. The winters are milder, we are within 20 minutes of a larger city, beautiful scenery, my husband wanted it, etc. But a dream doesn't have much logic, does it?

The daughter in the Marines had been stationed in NC for 7 years and planned on always being here. Loved the area. She met a Marine from Chicago, married him, left the Marines and moved north, 12 hours away. The daughter in WV married a man she met from England and they want to stay in the mountains. The baby girl is going to vet school in Raleigh but wants to live all over the world. My dream was if we moved out of WV where jobs seem always scarce, the odds were the kids could all find work in NC. We would live at least within a couple hours of each other and we would be there for each other to lean on, learn from, laugh with from now on. My dream died. I limped along and wept as it crumbled piece by piece as everyone's plans changed. This message was a wake up call. I know that what we dwell on multiplies whether it is joy or sorrow. I know that we either see the glass half empty or half full. I have always considered myself the half full person but when I heard the statement this morning that most of our pain in life is caused by our not letting go of our plan, our dream, our hope, I saw the light shine on my attitude. I have tried telling myself over the last 8 years that oh well, I am not the kind of Grandma that wants to baby sit every weekend, I am not the kind of Mom that wants to cook family dinner every Sunday but still the pain persisted. Now, I see that I must celebrate the crooked place in the road, I must birth a new dream, I must choose joy in the way it turned out because God has a plan that is greater than the one I dreamed. I have seen it before in my life. I must see it again.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Country roads John Denver Almost Heaven West Virginia Parkersburg WV

The Mountains are calling me. I am headed to them in the morning. To see my daughter, my friends, to hear the laughter and feel the hugs but most of all my spirit will feel God's awesome power in the Silence and the Majesty of the mountains! Thank you, God for the mountains and the valleys in my life.


candle lit Pictures, Images and Photos

Love lights my path and sets me free.

I attract healthy relationships into my life that will encourage my spiritual growth.

I wake up each morning and give thanks for a clean slate to write my dreams in the ways I choose.

When I see the color of the leaves, smell the fragrances of fall and feel the crispness in the air, I thank God that I am living an abundant life.

When I am surrounded by friends and family that love me, I know I am experiencing an abundant life.

I watch my thoughts and realize that abundance, good health, all of my life experiences begin in my mind.

I am God’s beloved child and heir to all things good.

I share what I have with others whether it is food, clothing, money or a kind thought knowing that I am adding love to the world.

No man is an island, no man stands alone.....when I hug someone or shake a hand I experience the connection and I am grateful.

Good health is mine and I am blessed.

God speaks to me and as I listen, I am changed in miraculous ways.

The right job, person, book or place is waiting for me right now as I reach out in faith.

Love is always with me, strengthening me to do that which is right for me.

Love removes fear from my life and allows me to move forward and make wise decisions.

Whatever I need, God is providing in this very moment.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What My Mother Taught Us!

Mother taught us:

About God.
To pray and know He heard, that His presences was a constant and that only
we could turn away....He never would.
That He loved us as we were, but called us higher to become more.

Mother taught us:

To never go to sleep angry.
That things done right took no longer than things done wrong.
That all problems looked better after a good night’s sleep.
That every story had two sides.
That we had a reputation to uphold; a name to be proud of.
That time heals grief and then memories will bring comfort.
That we answered for our words as well as our actions and that words were
powerful enough to hurt and heal.
To give flowers to the living.
That all we give out comes back to us...the good and the bad.
That every person we meet would have a lesson to teach us if we could listen
with our heart.

Mother taught us:

That death was just as natural as birth and that when it was her time to leave us that God would supply all the strength, healing and love to go on.
And....that we should pass on all the good she and others have freely given to us.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Being A Foster Child, Being Any child......

It had rained all day and I was restless, pacing back and forth and going from room to room. I was wondering why if foster parents were needed so badly why we had not been called for a placement.

The ringing phone interrupted my thoughts. A social worker was calling because they needed a home right away for two school age children. She realized we said we would only take one child to begin our journey into foster care but this was a brother and sister and since they would be in school all day would I please take both. I said how soon and she said they would be on their way soon and they were hungry. I got busy fixing sandwiches and soon they arrived. Imagine my surprise when there were three children ages 8, 4 and 18 months with the social worker at my door. She shrugged and said she had only passed on the information that had been given to her, I didn’t mind, did I? I had a dozen thoughts and none of them were about how capable I was but I looked into those three faces and I could not say no.

We had many experiences over the next few months with these children and I want to share a couple with you as we think of kids going back to school and remember our own long ago school days.

These young children were so hungry (they gulped their milk and couldn’t believe they were offered seconds); they were so dirty, they had never had a tub bath. The oldest girl explained to me that their mother had always thrown them a wet rag and told them to wash off. They had dirt ingrained into their skin. They screamed when they heard the bathtub water running because they had never heard such a sound. It took a couple months of daily baths to get them to delight in the water and to finally be “clean”.

The memory that tugs the most at my heart though would be Norma Jean. She was the oldest, the eight year old daughter. She was named after Marilyn Monroe’s real name. She had blonde, bouncy curls and knew how to work with the children and the house way beyond her young years. She helped me soothe the children, quiet them during the screams of bath time and rock them when they cried the deepest soul’s cries wanting to go home (yes, they were homesick even for poverty and pain). When it came time for her to return to school in the fall the state issued me a check for fifty dollars to buy shoes and clothing and anything she might need for school. God touched that money and multiplied it many times over. She was thrilled with the brand new outfits (no hand-me-downs she explained from neighbors), new shoes and new hair bows. She hugged me so tight that first morning as she got ready to walk to her first day at a new school and she whispered in my ear, “I love you, no one will make fun of me at school this year!”

Do you remember how cruel kids can be to one another? Do you know a child that needs to know someone cares about them? Of course you do, because rich or poor every child (and every adult) needs that love. Don’t we?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cancer. Twelve Year Survivor!

My Sister , My friend,

My sister, Sidney Naylor, called me one day to tell me she was having a biopsy to test for cancer cells. I told her not to be concerned that there was no history of cancer in our family. A couple weeks later she called me back and as soon as I said hello she said that I was wrong and that she did have cancer. I told her not to tease me, that it was not funny. She convinced me that she was not teasing, her surgery was scheduled in Cleveland, Ohio in just a few weeks. She told me what the doctor had said, how it was like hearing a foreign language. She was in shock and asked me to call him and see what he had meant. I said that I would and I began my research on the internet at the American Cancer Society web page so that I could better comprehend whatever he said. Sidney told me to be sure to get to my doctor and have my annual exam.

When I read the ACS important signs of cancer I worried because I was having a slight problem. I went to my doctor and she assured me that I had nothing to worry about, that all my tests had been normal and that I was just being overly cautious because of my sister. I spoke to Sidney’s doctor on her behalf and got all the information she needed. The thoughts kept nagging me that I also needed to have a biopsy. Finally one day I picked up the phone and called my doctor’s nurse, I explained to her my concern and the doctor’s suggestion that perhaps I was overacting. She told me to hang up the phone and call another doctor immediately and get another opinion. I did and there were no appointments for several weeks except with a new physician’s assistant. I grabbed it. This concerned woman listened to my story, ordered a test and it came back questionable, so she ordered a biopsy just like Sidney had in Cleveland. The test came back and it was malignant. I was scheduled for surgery about four weeks after my sister had hers. I was fortunate the cancer was in the earliest stage and was confined to my uterus.

My sister saved my life, not only by sharing with me the trial that she was facing but asking for my help in understanding her journey and then encouraging me to get my answers when they were not easy to ask. We are our sister’s keeper as well as our brother’s and when the path is shared the burden is not so hard to bear. I will always be grateful to her.

She was 16 years older than me, lived 400 miles away from me and was a very private person. Yet she whispered her fears to me and held my hand over the phone as I whispered mine back and we wept together. God works through each of us when we are willing to let down the walls and share our trials as well as our triumphs.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Divine Intervention?


We were going on vacation. I was only ten years old but I can remember the days of preparation and packing that Mother did. We were headed to the high mountains in West Virginia. It would be a long and winding five hour trip. We were going to rough it and stay in a “cabin” that one of my Dad’s friends was loaning us. We would bathe in the river (we could use Ivory soap so that it would float so we wouldn’t lose it). There was no heat or electricity in this place so oil lanterns and a wood stove would have to do. I couldn’t wait! It sounded like such an adventure to me. Dad said maybe one night we could sleep on pine needles that we would gather and we would name the stars.

Finally the day of departure arrived. Daddy worked long, twelve hour days but he got us all up bright and early and we took off in a car packed full of supplies and four sisters. Now, here is the clincher. We had been on the road a couple hours with me already asking “how much further is it?” and all the sisters complaining about being crowded and could my parents take me up front with them? Dad even offered me a nickel if I could be quiet for fifteen minutes (this may have scarred me for life!) and I complied to prove I could.

Suddenly Mom broke the silence, “Mark, I just realized that when I shut the electricity off for the house to save some money that the chest freezer went off too. Every thing will thaw out and have to be thrown out in a week’s time!”

And here is the wisdom: as Daddy turned the car around he patted my Mom’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “God works in mysterious ways. Perhaps this was His way of slowing us down to protect us from harm. We will just trust in that and be grateful.” And so a five hour trip ended up taking about nine hours but we arrived safely. It was one of our best vacations and also one that we teased Mom about forever.

I have thought of that day many times through the years, as I took a wrong turn, forgot something and had to backtrack, etc. It was a good lesson to learn young, a unique way perhaps, to look at God’s love and timely intervention.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Christmas is Coming, Prepare Your Heart!!

I know it is a while until Christmas is here but is it ever too early for Christmas in our hearts?

I felt the urge to share with you (does somebody out there need to read this to believe in miracles?) a story I had written a couple of years ago for our church newsletter.

Forget the hot weather. Look outside and see snowflakes and frost in your mind's eye. Just relax and for a few minutes visit with me and let me share with you what really happened in my life.

Merry Christmas!

I attended the Joy Circle meeting at church last month and there was a lot of discussion about the Angel Tree our church would have this year. The memories came flooding back to me of an experience I had twenty seven years ago. I would like to share it with you in the hopes that it will help you remember a Christmas miracle in your life.

My husband and I had decided that we wanted to be foster parents. During our home interview and training it was made very clear to us that these foster children would never be available for adoption. We understood. The fourth child placement in our home was a baby girl only a couple months old. She was very sick and her eyes were swollen shut with infection. She was so dear to us. She had been with us about five months when I was told at work that there was someone from Social Services there to see me. This social worker introduced herself and said that her office had recieved a call from the birth mother of our foster child telling her that God was asking her to have us adopt her baby. The social worker explained to her that the system did not work that way. There were people approved on an adoption list that had waited for many years for a baby. The mother replied that God had made it very clear that only we were to have this child and if not us she would struggle to raise the baby herself. The social worker explained all of this to me and with a very firm voice told me it would never happen. I was in shock that all of this had transpired and I was quiet for a moment. Then with a firm voice and a conviction in my heart, I replied, “Well, I know God and if He has this in His plan there won’t be a thing you or your department can do to stop it.” She looked at me, her whole demeanor changed and she said, “This is off the record, but I have seen God perform a miracle or two in my time with the agency.” She shook my hand and left.

A few months passed and the adoption process was begun. In a year it was complete. Many times I wanted to prod it along, call some people, beg the authorities, seek the mother and tell her to stay strong. Every time that I felt the impulse to ‘make it happen’ I felt God telling me to leave it all alone, that He was in charge.

It was only a couple years after Kati’s adoption was final that I found out about a bit about how God works. (I don’t think our finite minds can ever grasp all of the Infinite). While Kati’s birth mother was pregnant with her, the family’s first name had been given to our church along with the fact that she had two sons and was pregnant with a baby girl. This family was the “angel” I had picked from the tree. I purchased gifts for this family, maternity clothes for the mother and clothes and blankets for the unborn child who was to become my baby girl. The birth mother never knew this connection until I had the opportunity to share it with her years later. God truly works in mysterious ways and I got a tiny glimpse of a Christmas miracle. What a gift, to know that I cared about this baby and her family before she ever came into my life. Today Kati has grown into a lovely 27 year old woman with a daughter of her own and a baby that will be born by Christmas.

God speaks to us, through us, in the quiet moments of our lives and we stand in awe!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Are You There, Lord? Are You There?

I have always believed that the more I talked with God, the more I would hear God talk to me. Just like any other friend. However, I can probably count on both hands I have "heard the voice" of God. I will share those times with you in other posts. There have been other times though when I felt a strong sense of purpose and knew that God was working in my day to day life. It's been a while since I have felt that type of divine intervention. Well that is until about two weeks ago. I was driving through Stokes County, NC. It is a beautiful area that nourishes my spirit with each mile I travel. I was feeling lonely for meaning in my life. It seemed to me that I was just staying the same. I was in a routine that was satisfying but somewhat dull and certainly not spiritually rewarding. So I talked to God about it, telling Him that I needed to know if I was walking in the right path, that I was doing something meaningful, that my life mattered on this earth and to Him. I explained some of those times when He had let me know my little life meant something and would it be too much trouble to remind me again? I was thirsty and I needed a spiritual drink of LIFE.

I was headed to my antique booth in Walnut Cove which is about a 20 minute drive from my house. I started unloading my treasures and placing them in a booth. I heard a lady checking out and she was talking about how happy she was with what she found. I turned to check out her purchase. It was a huge glass container with a lid. I told her I thought it was so neat and she explained she was going to make it into a terrarium and that she had had the other supplies for years but had needed this jar. I told her I was glad she found it and I got back to work. Nothing out of the ordinary, right?

I finished my work there and about an hour and one half later I decided to go to a shop I hadn't been to in a couple months about 15 miles down the road. I looked it over and was checking out when I felt a tap on the shoulder. I looked around and the woman said, "you don't recognize me do you? I met you in Walnut Cove a couple hours ago." Then I remembered her (the jar woman) and I said it was really something to see her again because I seldom came there. She said she hadn't been there in 40 years and that things in the town looked about the same as they had then. We said good bye to each other and I was on my way.

It was a beautiful day and I decided to drive 45 minutes in a different direction to another county and another one of my antique booths. This is where your ears should be perking up wondering if I will ever make a point. I'm getting ready to do just that. I was working along putting out my things into this booth and about 45 minutes into the work. I look up and coming down the hall is this same woman and her husband. She didn't need to remind me who she was this time. I spoke to her and grinned and I said I was sure it was not a coincidence that I had met her three times that day. I said God wanted us to talk to each other for some reason and I figured this was our 3rd and maybe final chance. She started crying (and with her first tear, my eyes started splashing down my face). She said she hadn't wanted to come out at all that day. Her 84 year old mother's health was failing, and she had put her in a nursing home a few months before. She explained it was the hardest thing she had ever had to do. She said she went to see her mother every day (she is in her sixties) and that she was so tired. Her husband told her she needed a break and asked her that morning what could they do this one day for fun. She had answered that going to check out antique shops in Stokes County would be good but then she decided she just couldn't do it. She said on the way to this last stop she had thanked him because he had pushed her until she gave in and came. She had a wonderful day and it was just what she needed. She had been in my arms since I saw her first tear. I told her somewhere in the middle of her story that I knew exactly why God had brought us together. Her story had been my story 20 years ago. I had been 40, pregnant, in a brand new town and I went to get my mother from a town 150 miles away. I found a home for her to live in and went to see her every day. My sisters asked me why I bothered to visit her when she couldn't remember to tell them on the phone that I had even been there. What they didn't understand was that I knew and she knew every moment I was there that it was me and that I loved her and was watching out for her. I told this "stranger" that yes, it had been the hardest thing I had ever done but that I had survived, that she would make it. I urged her to take time to go to antique stores and walk and walk where no one would interrupt her and let God restore her Spirit. She told me that is what had happened to her that day. I told her that my Mom had always told me that dying was as natural as being born. It is us that we mourn for, it is us that suffers loss when they are gone. They are in a better place. It was as though we were long lost friends being brought together for a healing of both of our Spirits.

And so, I ask you was this just a day of coincidence or did God answer my prayer? And hers?

It is a humbling experience when God moves mountains and uses antique malls to bring two 60+ women together. I just love getting to participate.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Nothing But Blue Skies???

I have had a really long day today and I just got home a few minutes ago. I have always really liked skies. I remember when I was a little girl and my Dad would carry me out and show me the stars. I remember a real cold winter night when my sister who is 6 years older than me took me for a walk. It was Christmas Eve. She held my hand tight because I was only 5. We could see our breath, the grass in the meadow was crunchy from frost and if a person could smell a snow coming, we surely could. She pointed to the North star and told me about the wise men and shepherds seeing a star that led them to the baby Jesus. It was a mystical night that has stayed in my mind for over 50 years.

I married a man that loves skies as much as I do. One of the things that attracted me to him is that he believes skies can have a very spiritual side to them. He is an artist and his desire is to capture that spirituality in his paintings. He does it well.

So, anyway, when I was on my way home tonight, it was raining hard and right above me the sky was black and looked ominous and the winds blew and shook the car. I would have been scared except to my left I could see the bluest sky with the golden rays of sunset.

I love that the sky can shout out that God always brings Light to our lives again, after a long darkness or a short one. That is why we don't give up hope. We learn when we have lived long enough that "this too shall pass" and the Light will shine again.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

In The Beginning......

I really don't know where to begin. I just know that blogging is new to me having begun my first one a few weeks ago called FindersKeepersAntiqueAndTreasures. As I began writing those posts I could feel a small nudging in my mind asking why wasn't I telling the stories that mean the very most in my life? And with my logical mind I argued back that no one would be interested in what a sixty two year old woman has to say. I argued that it had all been said before. And God continued to nudge me telling me that each of us have a unique voice and that I needed to share mine. I have learned over the years that as I argue with Spirit, using my logic, tearing myself down with self doubts and recriminations, that it is a waste of time. God doesn't give up. I will hear his voice through other people, through reading a book, a blog, a billboard. Always in the Silence I feel the nudges, the quiet, gentle whisper saying, "just do it". One would think I wouldn't bother to argue after all of these years, that I would simply follow the calling and show up. Oh, that it was that easy. My Dad always said we are spiritual beings living in a human world and so the logic kicks in and we tend to judge ourselves as we feel the world judges us. When we do that we always fall short. Too unkind, too selfish, too ignorant, too human and the beat goes on and on until we are stuck in our tracks and do nothing. But in the Silence we can sit in the very lap of God, we can let Him/Her wipe away the tears and hear the whisper in our ear that we are loved, we are worthy just as we are.

Thank you for stopping to visit with me. I want you to feel welcome here. Please leave a comment or a question because I could certainly use the human confirmation that what I am writing makes sense to you. I would much rather speak than write because then I can see you nod your head, connect with your eyes and know that your spirit agrees.

With hope,