Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/congmicj/cathyconger.com/wp-includes/query.php on line 751

As a writer, needle artist and photographer, I invite you to share my pursuits with me on this site. Among other things, there is a weekly post called “D-mail” that examines the spiritual meaning in current stories, both personal and news events.  I invite your comments at  cathycongerblog@gmail.com

“The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.”  N. Platt

On April 24th, an amazing event happened.  For over a year, well-known Christian Bible teacher and speaker, Beth Moore, had been working on a book called So Long, Insecurity.  God had showed her that the biggest problem women face in our culture today is insecurity.  We are blown about by the messages of Madison Avenue, Hollywood, TV talk shows,  the opinions of the men in our lives, results of dysfunctional childhoods, and even the “good” advice of other women.  Christian women are searching for security every bit as much as non-Christians.  Why?  Because we have not accepted God’s complete grace and forgiveness.  A secure person is much more likely to forgive others and not take offense than an insecure person. The insecure woman never has confidence that she is right, or good enough, or pretty enough, or loved unconditionally.  She is always second-guessing herself and therefore, cannot stand on her value system because it is forever changing.

A secure woman in our culture today, says Beth Moore, has not become that way by accident.  She has latched on to several certainties that make her secure about her value and her values.  A secure Christian woman has made a conscious decision to be and act secure because of her position in Jesus Christ.   Beth wrote her book about six precepts that a secure woman believes.  Fond of acronyms, Beth says that she arranged the six principles to spell S-E-C-U-R-E.  

A secure woman is:

#1 Saved from herself (that is, saved from obsessing about herself) 

#2 Entitled to the truth (entitled to be taught that she is free from her life before knowing Christ)

#3 Clothed with intention (she takes off her weak-willed clothing and dresses in strength and dignity)

#4 Upended by grace (she has nothing more powerful to give than the overflow of the grace God has given her)

#5 Rebounded by love (as a beloved child of God, she goes out and lives like it, loving and forgiving others)

#6 Exeptional in life ( because God loves her unconditionally, she knows that she has significance)

Beth decided that these truths needed to be shared face to face with as many women as she could meet. So she arranged to use the latest technology to teach “face to face” via a simulcast.  April 24th would be the day.  The news went out all over the country.  Women leaders in communities began to bring it all together. In my community, women from 11 churches, who had never before done a project together, met.  They chose the church building that could best accomodate a large group and had the right technical set-up to show the simulcast in real time.  Tickets were sold to cover the lunch, materials and air time.  Volunteers from all the churches met for prayer at 7:15am on the 24th.  Then they dispersed to carry out the day’s duties.  I was a greeter.  At 8 am, women began to arrive in a steady stream.  Soon the parking lot was full. 450 women were greeted, served muffins and coffee, and seated by 8:45 am. Fifty nine churches were represented!

Up on the screen came the pictures, streaming live from mammoth First Baptist Church in Houston, where Beth Moore and a worship team led by Dove-award winner, Travis Cottrell began our day.  When the 450 of us sang along with the thousands of women in the auditorium of First Baptist Houston, it gave me goose bumps!  Then Beth took the stage.  She is bouncy, down-to-earth, and an excellent teacher.  She told us that on this day, for the first time in our country, over 300,000 women in 869 locations were gathered together for the sole purpose of praising God and hearing His message - all at the same time.  She said, “Three hundred thousand women is not a gathering.  It is a movement!  What if every woman of that 300,000 went out into her (one of 869) location and lived as a secure woman of God and passed that on to her daughter and her granddaughter…just imagine how our culture would be changed! What if?”

It was a full day and a day full of uplifting words from God.  I walked out a different woman, determined to act on the word of God so as to walk as a secure person from now on.

Simulcast volunteers gathered at beginning of day at our church

Simulcast volunteers gathered at beginning of day at our church

D-mail for the week of April 22, 2010
Scripture
: Genesis 1:27 and Psalm 139:1-4, 13-16

SO GOD CREATED MAN IN HIS OWN IMAGE

The Lord God made us in His image, full of potential to create, reason, learn, and the ability to grow in knowledge and understanding. He made us creative!

Do you ever wonder if your brain is turning to oatmeal? I’m not just talking to those of you who are dancing around 60. The worst case of “oatmealism” of the brain occurred in my life when I was a young mother, raising small children. Like you, I thought that God had given me a reasonably functional brain. I’d had an education. I could even do my taxes and balance my checkbook once upon a time. But I had let the creative and intellectual parts of my mind stagnate. I decided to do something about it. Maybe you’re thinking who has the time to nurture their brain or their creative inner life? I barely have time to read the paper and do my daily devotions. And even if I did have time, I’m not much of a student. My life is pretty routine really. What’s learning something new going to get me? I don’t have the money to buy fancy books or travel or take classes.@ That’s probably not entirely true.

Let’s look at what a creative life looks like and I think you will discover that your life is more creative and full than you thought. That’s exactly what I did. A church friend asked me to lead a workshop a couple of years ago. She said, We were thinking about who we knew who could teach on creativity and life long learning and you are perfect. I wasn’t so sure about that so I decided to make a list of all the creative experiences I have had since college and all the opportunities I reached out for that came my way. As the list grew longer, I decided I’d better put the list into categories. I chose 1) formal education, 2) physical activities, 3) creative activities, and 4) spiritual experiences and activities. I also put a category in for 5) A someday I’m gonna because we all have dreams that just don’t fit into our life right now. But those dreams shouldn=t be forgotten.

Of course, you can’t get too excited. You have to be realistic. You have to sift through all the opportunities to learn and experience that are in that huge “box” that’s out there for women today. The idea is not to see how long you can make your list. It=s not that the woman who reaches the end of her life with the longest list of activities completed wins! Start small. Sift through the opportunities that are before you each day. Weigh the benefits; if God is calling you to do something, He won’t have you crash your family life in order to do it. Do you have the physical stamina to take this opportunity? Some opportunities are not in your comfort zone? Don’t pass them up just because they are new or you’ve never tried anything like that before. In a couple of weeks, Mothers Day will be upon us and that annoying Proverbs 31 woman will be put before us again. How did she do all that? I’ve tried it and let me just say - it will kill you! What saved me was the word of a wise pastor. How did that Proverbs 31 wonder woman do it? The answer is that a lot of people misinterpret this scripture. Indeed, that woman did many admirable things, things we should all ascribe to, but she didn’t do them all between the ages of 25 and 35! Not even 25 and 55. Her activities were practiced in seasons. The women=s movement has taught that we women can have it all - career, home, kids, fitness, hobbies, and a great sex life. And that is possible - just not at the same time!

There is just so much of you, girl (or guy), and no more. You are only clay. The Bible often refers to God as a Potter with us as His clay, to mold into the person He wants us to be. One lump of clay can be reworked into many different shapes, but a single lump of clay cannot be more than one shape at a time. Have you ever tried to be too much at one time? You get twisted out of shape! God prepares and molds us for different things in different seasons. Some opportunities to learn and grow just drop into our laps. Others we have to get out and look for. Some require special resources we don’t have at the moment but may later. Some require a level of physical stamina and energy that we only have in our 20s and 30s. Some require time that we may only have after retirement. My church offers a growth class for men and women, designed to help you recognize and define your natural talents and bents and your spiritual gifts. (For those of you who attend my church and are confused about what you’re good at or what experiences interest you most, I highly recommend this class. It’s called 301).

Sometime after you read this D-mail, perhaps you would like to try the following exercise. Take out a few sheets of paper and a pencil. Write down each of the five categories I mentioned, leaving room to fill things in under each category. I want you to take a stab at listing as many things as you can think of (and some of our cases, what we can remember!) To spark your fires, let’s do a few together. Under formal education, I will write for myself a Bachelors degree in nursing from St. Olaf College and training in coronary care nursing between my first and second jobs. How about you? Let’s go to the physical activity category. I have always been a swimmer and I took WSI training to teach swim lessons the first summer of college. Can you think of some things? OK, now the creative activities category. I learned to take quality photographs in a class and then I practice a lot. In my forties, I decided I wanted to become a writer. Again, I took many classes (only one in a college), attended workshops and conferences, and, again, I practice all the time. Write down your hobbies or things you learned to do outside of school. The spiritual category includes my conversion and the working out of my walk with the Lord. Go ahead. Write things down. I think this is the first time in a D-mail that I have given an assignment! Don=t freak out. You don=t have to do this all at one time. When I first did this exercise, it took me a whole afternoon and even then, I kept running back to my notebook as I thought of something else.

I thought it would be fun to show you the results of my go at this exercise. However, before I let you look at my list, I want you to keep in mind that the things on my AGrowth Chart@ occurred over the course of 40 years - with going to college, marrying, raising 5 children, moving a few times, developing a chronic illness, and most recently, learning how to be a grandmother, during those years. Some of the things I listed took only a few weeks. Others I am still working at.

When you have finished listing things (it’s fun to let your family help you remember), ask yourself four questions about each one.
1. Which of these led to something bigger or opened a door for a different experience?
2. Which of these was very hard to begin or hard to stick to and why?
3. Which of these things was I sure God called me to do? In looking back, was it really God?
4. Which of these things were worth it, which were just plain fun, and which were a waste of time? The woman whose list you are about to read is made up of a woven tapestry of experiences. Each stitch in this tapestry was necessary to form the whole cloth. Some stitches added color and glitter to “me”. Some stitches added strength so that my tapestry was less likely to tear or have holes. Other stitches stand out to form a distinctive shape that people recognize as “me”.

CATHY’S GROWTH CHART

PHYSICAL (I’m not much of an athlete)
Swimming- WSI, life guarding, swam miles for weight loss
Water skiing
SCUBA lessons and snorkeling in oceans
Couples volleyball
Dance lessons - ballroom and disco
Aerobics at YMCA, taught aerobics for Christian School
Sailing - Red Cross Sailing School, regattas
Made video of exercises for pregnant teens to follow at Lincoln High School
Learned to down-hill and cross-country ski
Horseback riding
Bicycle touring

INTELLECTUAL
Bachelor Science in Nursing from St. Olaf College
Studied German 4 years and Spanish 2 years
Charge nurse surgical floor Wesley Memorial Hospital (Chicago, IL)
CCU and ICU nurse Chippenham Hospital (Richmond, VA)
Taught Lamaze childbirth classes Riverview Hospital
Developed and taught prenatal education program for unwed teens in Wood County
Art lessons at Midstate Tech (adult ed)
Sang in choirs in college and 4 churches, directed the church choirs at 2 churches
Taught elementary music at Rapids Christian School
Play Piano - lessons as a child 7 yrs and 2 years along with my youngest daughter
Photography lessons and I take a lot of photos
Sewing, quilting, knitting, embroidery
Costume design - self-taught
Interior design - self-taught
Wallpapering and re-covering furniture - self-taught
Cake decorating - lessons from husband
Dog obedience classes (for 2 different dogs)
Learned to use a PC computer
Designed the landscaping for our back yard
Writing, editing, business of writing - many classes
Wrote and published a book of poetry
Wrote and published (and performed twice) Christmas carol for choir and orchestra
Wrote and had performed a full-length play
Studied geography and foreign cultures - traveled, researched
Reading- all kinds of books, all the time
Rubber stamping and scrapbooking - classes and self-taught
Taught MOPS (Mothers of Pre-schoolers) for 10 yrs
Taught Bible studies and writing classes Researched, wrote and published about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Publish an online devotional column weekly for 4 years so far
Started my own blog, On Pens and Needles, this year

MEMORABLE EXPERIENCES
Sang Carmina Burana in mass choir with Milwaukee Symphony in high school
Took 300 children with only 2 other chaperones on a field trip to a coal mine in Pennsylvania during a summer job in college
Got stranded in a snow storm in the Fort Wayne, IN airport with the Notre Dame football team (a story itself!)
Pithed frogs and dissected a pig in college bio lab (another good story)
Married Charles Conger M.D.(VERY MEMORABLE!)
Had my car broken into 3 times while living in Chicago as newly wed
Had 5 children, 7 pregnancies, and 7 surgeries. Broke both arms and two toes
Learned to drive a stick shift while 8 mos pregnant (not easy)
Tent camped in the Blue Ridge Mountains with a puppy, in Door County with 2 toddlers and 2 dogs, in Madison with 3 kids and one on the way in a tornado, and with a thousand Christians in a dusty field in Virginia in103 degree heat when 7 mos pregnant (I hate camping!)
Accepted Christ as my savior at age 28 and was baptized in the lake 2 summers later (memorable!)
I have traveled on airplanes, ships, trains, subways, busses, trams, taxis, and funiculars in 22 countries and rode in a helicopter in a storm over Kauai
Crash landed in commercial jet in a snow storm and survived!
Cleared the land and helped build our summer cottage with my husband plus built 2 houses and 2 remodels with my husband (and the contractors!)
Warmed benches watching my kids on swim team, soccer teams, football, ballet, wrestling, track, Little League baseball, and volleyball
Baked more pans of bars, cakes, casseroles and pies than I care to count (proud soccer mom)
Planted a mediocre garden and canned - 2 summers only!
Raised one wild squirrel, baby bunnies, 7 dogs, 3 hamsters, and 3 goldfish
Caught blueshell crab in Ocean City, Maryland
Learned to arrange flowers and make fresh pine wreaths
Cared for a friend with brain cancer until her death
Cared for my mother-in-law until her death
Served 2 years on Rapids School Board committee for reading improvement
Was Camp nurse at Fort Wilderness Christian Camp during summer
Was hospitalized with viral transverse myelitis (paralysis), 1 year in wheel chair and rehab (1986) then developed fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and parasympathetic dystrophy (since myelitis)
Sewed Christmas and Easter outfits for 5 children every year
Driven coast to coast in USA (with 5 kids)
Visited 45 states and 22 foreign countries
Collected beach sand from 7 oceans and seas
Started my own sewing business, Dressed in Dreams and Fairy Stitches, and later sold it
Parasailed in the Caribbean
Learned to email, surf the Web, blog and Skype on the computer
Sewed dozens of costumes for the Ethnic Dance Theatre and ballet recitals
Met the U.S. Poet Laureate and 2 Wisconsin State Poet Laureates
Swam in wine-colored water at Canaima Falls (the Amazon)
Rode horseback in the Grand Tetons and attended a rodeo in Cody, Wyoming (and nearly froze to death doing both!)
Attended the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, Russia and the Mirinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg
Have eaten goulash in Hungary, borscht in Russia, reindeer stew in Finland, and poi at a luau in Kauai, Hawaii (only the poi was awful)
Drank beer at the Hofbrau Haus in Munich
Ate a Maine lobster at a shack on the pier near LL Bean in Maine
Toured onboard the U.S. Constitution in Boston
Touched Plymouth Rock (literally)
Visited Benjamin Franklin’s grave and saw the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia
Toured all the museums and monuments in Washington, D.C. during several visits
Attended the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs
Toured St. Peters Cathedral, the Coliseum, and other famous sights in Rome, Italy with my husband, who had a kidney stone all the while!
Got lost in Spezia, Italy on the Riviera (an Aussie rescued us- English never sounded so good!)
Had High Tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC
Saw professional flamenco dancing in Caracas, Venezuela
Climbed the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes in Michigan
Flew in a small plane over Angel Falls in the Amazon
Went wine tasting in the Napa Valley, in Oregon, and in Avignon, France
Bathed in 1,000 year old Turkish bath in Budapest, Hungary
Lassoed a caribou in Lapland (well I tried to anyway)
Kissed the Blarney Stone in Ireland
Swam in the Black Sea in Bulgaria
Hiked through Great Mammoth Cave in Kentucky (not easy for a claustrophobic like me)
Rode a train through the Italian and Swiss Alps (gorgeous)
Steamed through the fjords on the coast of Norway (more gorgeous!)
Sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar
Saw the white cliffs of Dover and Dover Castle
Saw real Guernsey cows on the island of Guernsey
Visited Olympic villages in Barcelona and Helsinki
Met Basque shepherds in the Pyrenees Mountains of France
Drank coffee at a 400 year old café in Vienna
Visited birthplace of Mozart in Salzburg
Cruised the Danube from Germany through Austria, Slovakia and Hungary
Cruised the canals of Venice and had a set of dinner crystal made in Murano glass factory
Held the crystal football for the Super Bowl as it was being polished at Waterford Crystal Factory in Ireland (did you know Waterford Crystal went out of business?!)
Saw chocolate made in Brugge, Belgium
Made it to the top of Pike’s Peak, the Washington Monument, the Space Needle in Seattle, the Sears Tower, and to the rim of the Grand Canyon
Met up with alligators in the Everglades and buffalo in Yellowstone
and ………………
I assembled a 350 piece crystal chandelier that now hangs in my dining room!
SPIRITUAL ACTIVITIES
Was raised in a Christian home
Attended weekly church and Sunday School
Memorized a lot of scriptures and hymns
Questioned my faith in college
Went back to attending church in order to sing in the choir
Husband and I took our children to church
Through a very convicting film and the wise words of a new friend, I again questioned my faith but realized that Jesus was the only way to salvation B and so did my husband!
Bought a new Bible and attended every Bible study I could
Was baptized by immersion in a service at a local lake
Changed to a church where we would be fed spiritually
Became active in choir and Bible studies
Decided to read all the way through the Bible and did that 3 times
Helped establish a Christian day school and sent children there
Became very ill, lost my way in this dark place and had thoughts of suicide -came out the other side by God’s grace, new church and Christian counseling.
Searched for healing for long time then came to be at peace with my chronic illness
Became active in church and children were active too
Was asked to be a mentor for the Mothers of Preschoolers group and did so for 10 years
Joined a small home study group of couples from church
Took self-discovery class and found out what my spiritual gifts were as well as strengths
Was asked to write a weekly devotional online for my church members - still doing it today and sending it to many more people.   

WHEW!!!!

Prayer: Lord God, Creator of all, thank you that you made us in your image, full of potential to create, reason, learn, read and write, and grow in knowledge and understanding. Thank you for the abilities you have given to me and to each individual reading this. Forgive me when I have wasted a talent or an opportunity you have given me. I pray that you will provide the resources each of us need to do what you have made us to do. Help each reader to see how much they have actually done in life so far. Spark their minds with ideas of what might be next and encourage them to not be discouraged by obstacles in their way. Amen

Getting around on my knee scooter

Getting around on my knee scooter

Because of a particularly stubborn case of plantar fascitis in my right foot, after a year of unsuccessful treatments of all kinds, the foot specialist suggested giving the foot complete rest for 8 weeks.  I am thus wearing a cam boot to immobilize the foot.  I cannot bear any weight on it so I have this nifty scooter contraption to get around.  I am a complete failure at crutches so this is a godsend.  I’ve discovered muscles I never knew I had!

Sapphire Bay

Sapphire Bay

Here are a few photos that turned out well from my vacation in St. Thomas, USVI in March.  I spent 10  glorious, tropical days with my husband, parents, and aunt and uncle soaking up the sun, reading, swimming, and generally loafing.  Somewhere in there I took the opportunity to take a few photos with our Canon EOS 30 digital camera.  Enjoy.

My husband, Chuck, and I out to dinner

My husband, Chuck, and I out to dinner

Hazy day at the island of St. John USVI
Hazy day at the island of St. John USVI
Our friendly neighborhood gecko
Our friendly neighborhood gecko
Cruise ships in Charlotte Amalie harbor
Cruise ships in Charlotte Amalie harbor

Antillean crested hummingbird  (below) 

 

 

 

Coconut palm at sunset

Coconut palm at sunset

Twin coconut palms at Sapphire Bay

 

Sugar birds on our patio

D-mail for the week of April 15, 2010
Scripture
: James 2:14-18

MARRYING FAITH WITH ACTION

After graduating from Wheaton College in 1993, Tricia Furman Hughett, set out to build a career in product development and public relations. Little did she know that one day those talents would lead her to Kenya, Africa to work with refugee women. Of course, development work ran in her family. In 1978, Tricia’s father and his brother, Lowell and Richard Furman, founded World Medical Missions with Franklin Graham, son of Rev. Billy Graham. Today World Medical Missions remains the medical arm of Graham’s humanitarian organization, Samaritan’s Purse. Growing up, Tricia remembers spending four to six weeks every summer in Africa, where she learned that international development was the opportunity to marry faith with action for the good of God’s kingdom. “There is that sense of excitement - that immediate sense of making a difference,” she admits, “but I especially love the book of James, because it balances out all that Paul says about grace in the New Testament: you have to have your actions fueled by faith.”

Today Tricia lives in Kenya with her husband, Scott. When they first arrived in Kenya, she worked alongside him in his job Special Projects Africa Director for Samaritan’s Purse. In 2003, Tricia became involved with a Samaritans Purse affiliate ministry called Amani ya Juu, which is a sixteen-year-old microenterprise whose name means “higher peace” in Swahili. It was started in 1997 by a woman from Tennessee, who had developed an intense compassion for refugee women while living in Africa for over 27 years. Then in 2000, Rebecca Sandberg, wife of Roger Sandberg, the past country director of Sudan for Samaritan’s Purse and now on the staff of MedAir in the region, saw an opportunity to pick up the reins of Amani ya Juu , along with fellow alums from, coincidentally, Wheaton College.

In her living room, Rebecca taught two refugee women in Kenya, one from Mozambique and another from Sudan, to make placemats. As their little business grew, she added more products and taught the women sewing and quilting. When Tricia was introduced to the group, there were over 55 women there from 13 countries, representing 11 tribes.
Today Amani ya Juu manufactures more than 150 products, 70% of which come to America via e-commerce through the product development expertise of Tricia Hughett. Some of the husbands of the Amani women are being trained in woodworking, they have just moved into a new building, and Rebecca says they hope to have 100 women by next year. “The miracle really is that Muslim and Christian women are working side by side, when in reality, they should be hating one another,” Rebecca observes. “Their grandparents hated each other, and their parents still hate each other. But as they work, the women are able to hear about Christ through devotions and chapel services, while learning to generate income for their families. The reconciliation factor is a big deal for us. We want to bring the message that reconciliation comes through Christ alone.”

Tricia says that one of the most remarkable things about her work with the Amani women is hearing their stories. She tells of one Burundian refugee, Goreth, who found herself in an execution line during the Rwandan genocide. She was third in the line, and after watching the first two people in front of her be decapitated, she prayed that somehow her life would be spared. Out of nowhere a man came forward and saved her, telling the executioners that she was from Burundi, not Rwanda. Tricia relates, “Goreth had been carrying a big, heavy purse when she told me her story. Finally I asked her what was in her purse. She answered, `My Bible is in it - it is my weapon.’ She had been holding it when the Lord saved her life.” Tricia adds, “I am simply amazed at the power of stories and how God weaves Himself into all of our lives. Another miracle happened to Goreth later. When she fled the country while the genocide was taking place, she was separated from the man she was to marry. One Sunday she was visiting a certain church. The pastor asked for all the visitors to stand. There her fiancé stood, looking at her from across the room with joyous surprise! They were reunited and married.”

Tricia attests to learning an important lesson from these refugee women about suffering. “It is easy to become overwhelmed by what you see here at the refugee camp, but as Christians we have hope, and we have hope to give. Suffering can be redemptive -it isn’t wasted. In many of these women’s lives it has produced joy, and that is a great lesson.”

Roger P. Winter, assistant administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance for the U.S. agency for International Development (USAID) once said, “We are saved by faith without works, but we are in fact saved to do good works.”

The introduction to this story, which was told in the Winter 2006 edition of the Wheaton College Alumni Magazine (which I receive because my oldest son is an alum of Wheaton College) says,

“From the arid savannahs to the sultry jungles, the scant shantytowns to the teeming metropolises, Africa is a paradox of dualities —the stage on which humanity’s warmest compassion and coldest cruelty, its deepest despair and greatest hope, are themes showcased in everyday life. Here among nations where disease, war and poverty are as extreme as the continent is vast, a group of young Wheaton alumni are living and serving in conditions that no evening news coverage could ever adequately capture. At first glance they may seem like a cast of unlikely characters: young, middle class, educated…from a Western culture often regarded as spoiled and specious. But don’t be fooled -like many who have gone before them into foreign development and relief, they continue a legacy of uniting extraordinary faith with extraordinary works.”

James 2:14-18
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him,` Go, I wish you well; keep warm and fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, `You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”

PRAYER
Lord, I am humbled by the dedication and works of those who obey your call to minister in needy and dangerous places. I pray for the safety and successful ministry of Tricia and her husband and Rebecca and her husband, as well as all the others who make a difference through Samaritan’s Purse. I thank you for the establishment and growth of Amani ya Juu and pray you will continue to pour out your blessings on them. Oh Lord, you say that the fields are ripe and the laborers few. I pray that you give each of us an opportunity to either go to the fields or support the laborers as they do your work. Amen

NOTE:  The above story was taken from the Winter 2006 issue of the Wheaton College Alumni Magazine.  For more information on Amani ya Juu or Samaritan’s Purse ministries, visit  www.amaniafrica.org  or www.samaritan.org

During a recent visit to see my grandchildren, I noticed that the polar fleece slippers I had sewed my daughter-in-law several years ago for Christmas were falling apart.  She “loved them hard.”  So I promised to sew her a new pair.  Using her old pair as a pattern, I bought fleece and sewed her a pair on her old machine.  They were too small!  Back to the fabric store for fleece I went and sewed her a bigger pair.  I tossed the pair that were too small, but my granddaughter, Katie, fished them out of the trash.  “Look, Grandma. It’s a puppet!”  She even gave him a name - Scruffie!  I took Snuffie to the button box and sewed him a face.  With scrap yarn, I made Scruffie an attractive hair-do.  Katie was thrilled. See the photo!  I took the other slipper home with me and made a girl puppet and mailed her off to rendevoux with Scruffie.

The other photo is of my grandson, Andy, in his hand-knit froggie hat and scarf, which his Aunt Laura made him this winter.  So cute!!  If anyone would like to knit the frog hat, I can get the pattern to you.

D-mail for the week of April 8, 2010
Scripture
: Psalm 143:8 For I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul
.

“Mother, May I ?”

“Aunt Cathy,” said my eight year old niece, Alexandria, taking my hand. “Come outside and play Mother, May I with Taylor and Morgan and me.”
“My goodness, I haven’t played that game in years,” I laughed, as the girls lined up on the front lawn to play. “OK,” I directed, “Morgan, take one giant step.”
“Mother, may I?” she asked.
“Yes, you may,” I answered and she stretched her four-year-old legs ahead into as wide a giant step as she could take. Next was Taylor’s turn. “Taylor,” I said, “take two baby steps.” Immediately she went up on tiptoes and took two tiny steps-”uh oh, you didn’t say Mother, May I the rules say you have to go back.” Poor Taylor had to go back her two steps. The play continued like that until one of the three girls finally reached me at the finish line to win the game. Mother, May I, a classic game of getting ahead (sometimes quickly, other times painstakingly) by paying attention and obeying the rules, has been around for generations of children. Perhaps it has something to teach grownups as well.
Perhaps if we played a sort of Mother, May I, with God directing each of our steps, our paths would be straighter, our next steps most appropriate. Which of us knows whether our next step might be a giant step or a baby step, a firm foot-planting or a risky leap, a step up or perhaps even a step down? How many times have you had to step back and go again because you weren’t paying attention to God’s voice? How about the times you heard direction but didn’t stop to ask, “Father, is that you? Father, may I?”, racing ahead on your own?
In the last few years, I have personally been battling enormous health problems, begging the Lord to direct my path as to how to cope with an incurable condition. I would pray, “What should we do now, Lord? What is my next step?” and He would answer “Baby steps for a while” or “Step down now and let another carry the load”. When I refused to submit and took the giant step I had envisioned, guess what? I tripped and fell in my tracks and ended up back at the beginning anyway. Father, May I? No you may not this time.
Not surprising is that now that .I am taking baby steps, I am coping better and looking forward to my turn to take an exciting leap. And I am able to appreciate all of those around me who, right now, are leaping and giant- stepping ministries into being, as God clearly says to them, “Yes, child! Yes, you may.”

Prayer:
Lord God, who gives wisdom to anyone who asks, in you do I trust and unto you do I lift up my soul. For each new step . I take, Lord, give me direction in a voice I can understand. Grant me the patience to obey whatever sort of step you ordain and to remember to ask your blessing on that step, rather than taking it on my own. Thank you that no matter how long it takes to get me to the finish line, whenever I look up, you are always there saying, “Yes child. Yes, you may.”