Grandma Blankets

DSC_5400

     Pregnant with my daughter, I began a craft that has covered babies for over 40 years. Now hundreds upon hundreds of blankets made from yarn or fabric, covered with love and prayer have warmed so many little bodies.

     Recently I have begun to hear and see what I never expected – those much older children and adults still have their “grandma” or “Judy” blankets. Tattered, torn and covered with patches they still cherish those “blankies”.

Why?

It’s just a piece of fabric long outgrown.

Secondhand stores are filled with old beat-up blankets.

But these seem to be different, held in unusually high regard.

     As I pondered this I felt the Spirit of the Lord speak – encouraging me that each act of love poured out will reap a harvest and that is what I am now witnessing. He reminded me that every blanket I have made specifically for that one “special” little one – or now “special” loved one; is soaked in prayer as each stitch is added.

     It’s that Love that is felt – as it saturates and covers them right there, as they cuddle down into its warmth. It brings peace and comfort – so years later when hard, painful times are faced – the heart, the mind and the emotions return to think on the “blankie” and what comfort was found there. So they keep it – treasure it – fold it away for another time – a time to be reminded of the comfort found there.

     Those “blankie”s are simply an earthly example of a heavenly, eternal comfort available to us all. So for now, I have been blessed to pass on a little bit of heavens love to the “littles” around me – those “grandma” blankets.

II Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (ESV)

 

Advertisements

Together As One

th-1

     This morning I watched as my arbor became filled with fluttering activity. All different species of birds together – flying in and out taking a waiting perch for their turn to be filled with the juicy ripe grapes that now dangle ready for consumption.

     When we have forgotten to fill their bird feeders they will group together and come asking for help – in their lack; but what a joy to watch it when there is an abundance. You can hear the chatter and singing, you can feel the anticipation and joy as they hop from one place to another waiting – anticipating – sharing.

     In lack and abundance they group together not caring about size or difference but together united on a focus for the good of them all.

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

     In the midst of the chaos, anger and hate currently harbored in our nation we have seen a momentary glimpse of what I witnessed with the birds this morning. A compassionate flood that has surfaced in the heart of people as images of great pain and loss have triggered a unity that only a few days ago was devoid. Now the united focus does not care about difference but to help those hurting and in lack. Together they are pouring out help – sharing from their abundance and even from their lack.

     Isn’t this the heart of Christ? To care for the hurting and broken? To pour out love and compassion on the most vulnerable?

     Stepping up, setting “our” lives on hold, giving from our abundance and our lack, helping in any way possible is what it is to be a loving human being. But we, as believers in Christ have a bigger assignment – it’s not just for a disaster – it is a lifestyle! A lifestyle of sharing our abundance into the lives that surround us that walk daily in lack.

     Unfortunately – just as the birds will revert back to their natural thinking – most people will quickly become cold to the needs and revert back to living their “own” lives with no thought to those still hurting and continually living in lack.

     But for now my heart smiles as I watch the birds united and full of joy sharing with one another – just as Our Heavenly Father must be doing now too. But also, with a renewed outlook on what my lifestyle needs to shift to – one of daily walking in a lifestyle of sharing – hopping from place to place waiting, anticipating and sharing as HE directs.

Isaiah 58:10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.

Where is Your Trust?

odb1853

     Fear has become a constant whispering companion as destructive acceleration surrounds us…global warming, earthquakes, famine, increased hate and violence as well as the rumors of a possible approach of nuclear war. It is so easy to “buy in” to that fear and panic, that “be prepared” mentality that is erupting all around us. Here – in the midst of this chaotic surge – is our place to walk in a different spirit.

     It is now that the LOVE of Christ is needed to dispel that fear. It is now that FAITH in Christ can shine in the darkness – teaching and building hope in the confused. It is now that the HOPE in Christ within us must stand firm, declare and encourage in the midst of what is seen.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.              Psalm 91: 1-6 (ESV)

     Let these words infuse in you today the strength to stand firm. Find rest under His wings – find peace in His refuge as you trust in Him. Remember in HOPE the goodness of your God, remember in FAITH you are called to proclaim that goodness, and remember in LOVE all that Christ did for you and those around you.

     Fear not what you see with your eyes and hear with your ears – look only with your Spirit to the promises of His faithfulness. Breathe easy today as you walk in peace in the midst of this storm, finding refuge in Christ – for there is where your trust dwells.

Fluff & Stuff

lesley

     The perfectly un-scarred teddy bear is unceremoniously opened from the center as stuffing is revealed. Then to my horror the insides are pulled out as if a search is on – looking for the unknown, down inside that fluff. Piles of “fluff and stuff” begin to accumulate – down into the hard packed head, arms and legs the search continues as the pile grows. Then I hear it – “thump, thump, thump”! I can see a small pulsing red light that corresponds to the sound and realize it is a small-computerized heart that had been placed inside long ago but had stopped being heard. Over time its sound had disappeared in the midst of the all the “fluff and stuff”.

     This was just a dream the other night but as my morning and day progressed it soon became a very real analogy that God was speaking into my own heart. All our “fluff and stuff” builds up, packs down tightly, stifling the beating of our heart – the love inside has a hard time being heard, felt or extended anymore.

       We need our own un-stuffing process. How do we get there? It sounds like a big project but it’s the easiest surgery you will every have – just look up, see His face and say YES.

       Our Heavenly Father is faithful to hear. He will reach down and open us up as the Holy Spirit begins un-stuffing all that we have packed in around our hearts. All the hurts, worries, and distractions; along with past regrets and future anxieties – physical and financial burdens – unproductive activities, ministries and relationships – wow and the list goes on. That unpacking can look overwhelming but the process is rather simple. Once His unpacking is complete, the renewal and restoration of Jesus will instantly flood back in – His love saturates and you begin to hear “thump, thump, thump” as the small pulsing red light comes back to life.

     All our “fluff and stuff” – stifles and wears out the pulsing movement of His love in our lives. We have made this journey complex – the reality is as simple as just loving God and loving those in front of us – everything else really is only more “fluff and stuff”.

   Look up, ask and in an instant you will be able to see those you encounter, with renewed love – all the “fluff and stuff” gone as you hear the beat of His heart – His love for each one of them as it begins to pulsate again within you.

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (ESV)

Spread Life

IMG_8228-imp

     What a joy to observe the reproduction of plant life, every plant and tree has been created to seed – including weeds, much to my chagrin. In order to enjoy the beauty of many, we have resorted to planting them in pots, and I have a plethora of pots, loaded with beauty. But, no matter how you care for them, within three to five years the result is the same – unproductive and dying. However, upon inspection of these unproductive and seemingly dying specimens you will find a simple fact, they are root-bound. Once removed from their confinement and re-positioned into a fertile expansive bed they will flourish as they were created to.

     I think you can imagine where my thoughts went as I have watched this phenomena play out this season. I transplanted eight previously unproductive and dying pots this spring and – “presto, chango” – they have now become spots of happy growing plants covered with flowers.

     This is a true spiritual phenomenon as well. We are created to create – to produce! Often, due to many circumstances we become unproductive and look as if we are dying – we too, become root-bound. The simple fix is no different then my pots – lift and cultivate (wake-up) the root-bound entity, place it in a fertile environment with ample space to move and grow. Step back and watch as HIS new life, joy and creativity begin to bloom in and all around you. You are meant to create, to produce, to re-produce and spread – in fact His ultimate purpose for your life is just that; to spread His life, love and joy to those around you.

     If you find yourself in a root-bound place in life, decide to do some cultivating. Willingly chose to lift your eyes back to the face of Jesus – here you will find that HE will do the lifting as you allow the transplant to occur. He will re-assign you exactly where you will find new life and joy. This new fertile ground will probably be where you would never have imagined or chosen but it will always be the very best – because He always chooses the very best for His kids.

     Nestle into His chosen spot – and enjoy the journey as you grow into the beauty He has created you to be – and spread, spread, spread. Become His life, love and joy everywhere you go.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you my abound in hope.

I Corinthians 3:8-9 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

 

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall – I Don’t Know This Person at all!

In reality this transformation had begun many years ago. As I began knowing His love and sitting at His feet – through the good, the bad, the tears, the joys, His spirit began to change me. As I walked a journey that taught me to bring everything to His feet, to trust Him through every event that transpired, pieces of the old me were chiseled away.

DSC_0671-imp

I recently was given a birthday gift that shocked me to my core; a simple blank black notebook. It had been lovingly filled with comments from people who know me – those from high school, those from different states and different churches, those I have worked with as well as family, friends, kids and grand-kids. It was a very special gift. The next morning I picked it up with tea in hand and proceeded to enjoy this gift. Not expecting the impact it would have, I sat down to read this little book.

For the next hour I sat with Kleenex in hand as tears seeped down my checks, a few smiles and chuckles erupted and one or two outright sobs escaped my heart. I was confused – these descriptions didn’t match whom I see. It was like looking into a mirror and not recognizing the reflection looking back.

I set the book down – contemplating, meditating and asking God’s explanation of this dichotomy placed before me. Soon this question was stated as I prayed – “Ok, God what are you showing me?” “I don’t know this person at all, is this who I really am?”

I soon realized that this little book was a gift that was a glimpse of me through the eyes of Jesus. The person I have seen is so different. I have been looking at me with an out-dated blocked lens. Who I have become is no longer me, but Jesus in and through me.

As a Christian we always hope our light will shine and that the love of Jesus will permeate our lives but my thinking has been “it’s just me”, “it’s just who I am”.

“How do I see this person when I don’t know her”, I asked? His quiet loving response resounded in my heart like an explosion, as He whispered, “It’s just me – it isn’t you. It is my transformation as you have yielded time after time to my love”

In reality this transformation had begun many years ago. As I began knowing His love and sitting at His feet – through the good, the bad, the tears, the joys, His spirit began to change me.  As I walked a journey that taught me to bring everything to His feet, to trust Him through every event that transpired, pieces of the old me were chiseled away. Over years of life, this faith has created and transformed me into who I never really saw. The emerging transformed person is no longer “just Judy” – but has begun to shine out as “just JESUS”.

Do I shine out Jesus every day? Nope – I have to lay my human thoughts, words, desires, and actions down every day. But I believe He has shown me a glimpse of me through an unexpected mirror held up in the hands of those in my life, and I am humbled by that possibility.

I Corinthians 13:12-13 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then fact to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (ESV))

A Day of Miraculous Multiplication

img_1552

     With anticipation I unlocked the door to the auditorium. Last night a large crew of “little elves” and I had prepared for what looked to be our most successful year for our Holiday Helps program. The food boxes were overflowing, the oversized chest freezer was cram-packed with turkeys, the toy tables were stacked high and we still had a closet full of extras. Plus in the center of the room stood a 6-foot-tall mountain of donated clothes in every size possible waiting for those who would partake in this year’s “blessing”.

     Every family was scheduled, so there was plenty of time for mom, dad or grandparent to shop “free of charge” for Christmas gifts and the ability to load up leaf-bags full of clothes for each child in their family. Each would also go home with a holiday box brimming full of food, complete with a turkey. The love and hours of preparation for this project began way back at the end of August, and today was the day!!

     The doors opened and the morning began as I had planned, with each appreciative parent that was scheduled appearing as if on queue. But schedules are meant to be broken when it comes to God-appointed appointments, and mid-morning unscheduled people began to show up, each with broken lives and humble stories. I could not say no – I knew HE had sent them and was asking me to believe! Today was a day to stand in faith, and not turn any away, trusting in His ability to provide.

     The anticipation of something miraculous was stirring and seemed to crackle in the room.

   The door rattled as the wind blasted it shut and a timid young woman walked in. I was drawn to her hopeless stance and approached her. She hung her head and looked up at me, “I heard you might help me. I have twin 3-year- old girls and I have nothing for them. I don’t have an appointment, but if I could just get some clothes?” I was overwhelmed with her humility and reached out to hug her, “we have plenty, let’s shop for them”, I encouraged. For the next hour, with tears spilling from both of us, we found toys and clothes that were just perfect for her twins. How perfect was the miracle that waited.

     We sat on the floor digging through the mountain of clothes. We sorted, and resorted, looking for the correct size. Then with great joy the young mom pulled out a beautiful, brand new Christmas dress the exact size for one of her daughters. But slowly that smile began to change. I watched the smile slowly go out of her eyes as she realized, “but which one do I give this to?” “Let’s keep looking, maybe there is another pretty dress” I spoke with more faith then I felt, and within my mind I quickly sent up a request for God’s hand to provide. As I saw her shake her head in hopelessness I declared, “Let’s just take a minute and ask for one”. The shock was obvious – she didn’t have a concept of a Father God who would hear her – much less provide for her – but she humbly conceded as I sent up a quick prayer. Off we went in search of more clothes for her girls; by now she was on one side and I on the other of our mountain of clothes. Suddenly, I heard a gasp and a shriek, which catapulted me around the pile to her side as she sat dazed – laughing and crying, with the matching dress in the same size, for her other daughter, clutched to her chest. That day changed that mother’s life – she saw very clearly that she has a Father God, who does care, hear and provide in twin-size ways.

     But the day wasn’t over yet, and as the hours passed on, more unexpected families appeared needing our help. I knew the answer was to be YES for each of them; the schedule no longer mattered.

     Nearing 3:00 I began to count those who were still scheduled, and realized that we had only packed food boxes for those who had been scheduled. The number of turkeys had also been prepared for according to those numbers. My concern now was growing – we would not have enough! Two of my teen helpers were realizing the dilemma as well, and asked me what we were going to do. Again – my response – “Lets ask God to provide”. So that we did, and then I sent them off to count the turkeys, knowing how many we still needed.

     Hearing excitement over by the freezer, I approached to find both girls, with eyes as large as saucers chattering and now quickly proclaimed how many were left – the exact number of turkeys that were needed for the last group of families coming. It made no sense – in fact, I had to go look and re-count! But there they were just as they had said, on the bottom of the freezer.

   Over the next 2 hours, appointments came and unscheduled families still filtered in – and now I knew we were going to run out; but we gave and gave and gave, and yet the food boxes and turkeys NEVER ran out. As the doors closed and all was finished, one of my volunteers and I lifted the lid of the freezer to find one turkey still there. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she revealed her need to me. That turkey was there for her and her family, as well.

     It makes NO sense, but miracles never do – “whys” will never be answered, but it is enough to know that when we believe – when we say YES and when we love – HE shows up in miraculous ways of multiplication.