Archive | February 2013

Say a Little Prayer

I’m sitting beside a new person in choir this year.  I don’t know her well, but I can tell that she is really enjoying the fellowship that choir offers. I’ve also sensed that she’s lonely. We have very little in common, other than we both like to sing and we both suffer with arthritis. She has freely shared about her life with me. She’s suffered through 8 surgeries mainly replacing major joints like her knees and hips. She lost her husband about 3 years ago, and then nearly died herself just 4 months later during a surgery. She’s had a bad time of it the past few years.

Tonight, when I went to choir and walked in, I was in an awesome mood! I was at my favorite place to be on a Thursday night! I stopped and chatted with some friends before I went to my seat. When I arrived at my seat, there she sat, crying.  I quietly took my seat, not sure what to say or do.

“I’m not having a very good day today,” she sobbed.

Thinking of the things I’ve been learning as I develop my gift of encouragement, I answered, “What’s happening?”

“They moved my mom to a different nursing home today, and it’s terrible. I don’t understand why they felt they needed to move her. The place she’s at is dreadful. I don’t really want her there, and she’s blaming me for letting it happen. It wasn’t up to me, but she’s not understanding that,” she said, as a tear trickled down her cheek.

“Oh my, that’s sad,” I replied. The nurse in me started asking questions about her general health, where they had taken her, trying to assess what type of care the woman might get.  It didn’t sound promising the way she described it.

“I want to take her somewhere else, somewhere she can feel more at home and less like she’s in a hospital.”

I offered some suggestions of good places I knew of for her to investigate.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have come here tonight,” she said. “I called Fred (our director) and told him I didn’t feel like I could come this evening, and he said I should, that it would help. I hope he’s right.”

“He is,” I replied. In my mind, I journeyed back 6 years to this same month, pretty close to this same week. I was just getting over the shock of losing our adopted son after having him home with us for 2 days. I was devastated. I wasn’t sure I could return to choir. But, I was encouraged to return. I believe choir saved me that year. “He is right,” I said again, because I knew it was true.

We started to sing our songs, and soon I was seeing a bit of a smile on her face. It was time for me to do my solo and after I did it, I sat back down. The director said that he wanted someone to be a prayer warrior for each soloist this year. She leaned over to me and said, “I’ll pray for you!” I was touched.

Prayer_Team

As we were leaving, she was in the lobby picking up invitation cards for our concerts. I felt a subtle tap on the shoulder. I knew who it was. “Yes, God?”

“Pray for her,” I heard Him speak.

I sat down my music and purse and went back in to her. “Can I pray for you before I leave?” I asked.

“Oh, would you?” she replied.

So there, in the middle of the lobby, we joined hands and I prayed for my sister in the faith. “I’m so glad I came this evening! Thank you,” she said. I reached out and hugged her. I didn’t know if she was a “huggy” type of person, but it didn’t matter to me…she needed a hug.

“I’m going to call some of those places you told me about first thing tomorrow. Thank you so much,” she said.

Thank you, Lord for prompting me to reach out to her and touch her heart.

♥Miriam

My Cup Runneth Over

If you know me well, you know that I like tea. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. I love tea! I love to drink tea, but more than that, I love to “go to tea”!

Homemade Scones

Homemade Scones

Have you ever been to a tea? You should try it some time. The tea, of course, is the featured  delight, but there’s so much more to it. There’s a small serving of soup, a salad, tiny little sandwiches barely more than 2-3 bites big. There are scones….oh, I love the scones…..especially with lemon curd and clotted cream. Yes, clotted cream. I know it sounds disgusting, but don’t knock it till you try it. Fresh fruit accompanies the scones. Then there are these little, rich, tempting  desserts….just a bite, but oh so decedent!  Some tea rooms will end your tea with a sorbet to cleanse your palate. The whole experience is just wonderful. But there’s something even better than the tea and food.  It’s the time spent with those you are having tea with. It’s a time to relax and just enjoy each other.  You can easily visit for hours sipping tea and nibbling sweets and savories. It’s not uncommon for each participant to consume more than one pot of tea.

Mini Desserts

Mini Desserts

Today, I enjoyed a different kind of tea. I was attending a conference. The people attending this conference are all involved in camping ministry in some way. We were having tea to experience what a tea would be like in a camp setting and to think about how we could incorporate teas at our own camps. I got to participate with some unlikely people.Across from me at my table, was an older woman, old enough to be my mother. We really didn’t know each other, though we had eaten a meal at the same table before. During the course of the tea, she asked questions of each of us and we were able to tell our stories of how we got involved in camping ministry.  She shared hers as well.

To my left, was the most unlikely of people to attend a tea. It was our camp cook. This was definitely a new experience for him. He inquired if he should extend his pinky to drink from his cup, as he knew this what proper English people did for tea. He began to discuss what he would prepare for a tea and began to recite a menu that sounded more like a feast than a tea.  Roasted marinated pork tenderloin, baked chicken….obviously, he had never experienced a tea before. He was a bit unrefined, but did his best to participate. He asked me many questions and began to refer to me as the “tea guru”.  But, during our tea, my table learned about his passion for cooking, his passion to reach teens with God’s love, his passion to be in service for God. We learned that he was a new believer, having just become a Christian in June of this past year. As he shared his story, I gleaned a new admiration for him.

To my right, was another unlikely guest. Like me, she was a first time attendee at the conference. But, to my surprise, we knew each other! We hadn’t seen each other for 37 years….we were in 2nd grade when we last saw each other.  Who would have thought I’d be having tea with a childhood friend? We were surprised to learn that we both have daughters that are close in age, that we both ended up in Christian ministry around the same time. She had gone through some struggles over the years, as have I. Our lives were pretty parallel to each others. We reminisced about our 2nd grade teacher and we pondered as to what had happened to others that were in our class. The years melted away and we were 7 again!

Tea Sandwiches

Tea Sandwiches

I thought of the devotional that was offered prior to the tea. What kind of cup were we? Were we a broken cup in need of repair. Were we a cracked cup in need of some reinforcement? Was our cup empty? I thought about this as we enjoyed our tea and goodies. I thought of the differences in the people at my table. Our camp cook was recently an empty cup and was now filled with Holy Spirit. The lady across from me was once a cracked cup, and just needed reassurance that she and her husband were doing the right thing in entering Christian ministry. My childhood friend had once been a broken cup, but God had glued her back together. And me….I was a full cup. I was full with the new respect for those around me, full with happiness for reconnecting with a long-lost friend, full of hope that I too would find fulfillment as I progressed on my journey to grow in my job.  Yes, my cup was full, so full that it began to overflow. I was so thankful for the friendships grown and strengthened over tea.  But more than this, was so thankful that I get to serve God doing something I enjoy.

David knew this feeling when he wrote the 23rd Psalm. Verse 5 says, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; MY CUP RUNNETH OVER.” He knew the joy that comes from being in communion with God. What kind of cup are you?

♥Miriam

It’s the Little Things

I keep mentioning that I want share about God’s provision as I go on with this blog. God’s provision is not always obvious and sometimes it screams out, “Look! Look what God did for you!” Obviously, it’s much easier to notice those times when His provision is clearly evident. But, have you ever considered His little ways of provision?

It’s in those not-so-obvious moments that God will provide some of the greatest things that we don’t even dare ask or hope for.

Consider those near-misses when you’ve been on the road and someone pulls out in front of you. You somehow get stopped just in time. Was that God’s provision? Sure it was!

Ever have one of those moments when you’re at the grocery store and the bill comes out to just the amount you have in your checkbook or wallet.  (This is something that recently happened to me! My grocery bill was climbing and I wasn’t sure I’d have enough to cover it. My eyes bugged out as I saw the total! Then the cashier hit the button that took off the bonus savings with my card, scanned the coupons, and miracle of miracles—I had just enough with $0.18 to spare!) Was that God’s provision? It sure was!

I had shared before about seeing God provide for my family since going into a full time job in Chrisitian ministry. Some of the ways He’s provided have been huge! But a lot of His provision has been in little things. One of my favorite stories of His provision comes in the form of a coat.

Katie put on her winter coat she uses for school earlier this winter and we discovered it was now too small for her. The sleeves ended just below her elbows! This was something I hadn’t anticipated. After all, just a week or so before, it fit just fine! As Dave and I discussed how, where, and when we would replace the coat, I received a message from a friend on Facebook. She asked what size clothes Katie was currently wearing. “10-12,” I replied.

“Great! I have a friend who’s getting rid of some of her daughter’s old clothes and they’re 10-12’s! Do you want them?” she asked.

“Sure!” I said. The thought of Katie needing a new coat had already left my mind.

We chatted for a while and made arrangements to meet so I could pick up the clothes. As we closed out our conversation, she added, “Oh! There’s something I forgot to tell you!”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Well, there’s a brand new coat in this bag, never worn.”

Oh wow! Really? I quickly shared how this was an answer to prayer.

“God provided didn’t He!” she exclaimed.

“Yes, He did!” He provided in something as small as a girl’s winter coat. He takes care of even our smallest needs.

th

So then, why is it so hard to trust that He’ll provide for ALL our needs? It’s part of our sinful human nature. Often we have the mentality that if we can’t provide the need, then it’s something we just will have to do without. But when we allow God to work in our lives, He’ll provide all our needs.

Paul says this well in Philippians 4:19 – “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

Think about all the little ways God has provided for you! You’ll find they add up rather quickly!

♥Miriam

What a Fellowship! What a Family!

Last night was our yearly February Fellowship Meal at church. We had a nice turn out! As expected, there was quite an array of chicken dishes, casseroles and desserts. There wasn’t one thing that I tasted that didn’t taste good! Welsh Run Church of the Brethren has a long history of good cooks!

potluck-spread

But, we’re not just known for our history of good cooks, our church is one of the oldest in the area. Our church fellowship is over 200 years old! That’s a lot of history! Though there’s a lot of years involved at this little gray stone church on the hill, it’s those who still attend that we currently know the most about. One of the games we played together last evening was a “Who Am I?” quiz. Some of the answers came easily, others not quite as easy. As we sat there thinking about the answers to the questions, I realized just how vastly different we all are.

We learned that not only do Paul & Dorothy have one of the biggest displays of daffodils each spring, but that Dorothy has a player piano. And she’s not the only one with a player piano, Lois has one too. We learned that Eugene and Anna both have standing records at their highschool(Waynesboro and James Buchanan, respectively) in track and field, and that Chad also has a standing record at James Buchanan in wrestling. Two people in the congregation play the viola, and several play the organ. Gladys plays the guitar, Lois Ann plays the flute, Cory plays the trumpet, and there are many more who play an instrument. (We actually have enough for a nice sized band!) Bill enjoys making homemade potato chips. Amanda drives a forklift as her occupation.  Joseph has traveled all over the world and plans to go overseas again soon. There is a large portion of the congregation that is in involved in the medical field including nurses, doctors, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, and massage therapists. We have a surveyor, carpenters, farmers, homemakers, and missionaries. There are a lot of cancer survivors as well. Our youngest person attending church is just over a year old, while our oldest member will be 90 next month.

What a vast expanse of occupations, ages, and interests! We are all very different, but yet there is one thing we have in common….our belief and love of God. It’s what makes us a family.  When one of us is hurting, we all hurt. When one of us is rejoicing, we all rejoice! I’m glad I’m part of this family of God!

Welsh Run Church of the Brethren

Welsh Run Church of the Brethren

♥Miriam

Better Than the Birds

When some people see something they normally don’t see, they will sometimes think it’s a “sign” or an “omen” that somthing is going to happen. I remember growing up the old wive’s tales that my grandmother often would quote, and quite frankly, I think she believed a lot of them. One of those old wives tales was that if a bird hit your house window, there would be a death. There was also one about if a bird got into your house, you’d have good luck. If we really believed these things, we’d leave our windows wide open to allow every bird to enter the house for unlimited good luck.

I love to watch birds! I love to feed the birds! I enjoy sitting at my kitchen table with a hot cup of tea and looking out into my back yard and watching blue jays come in to my large platform feeder for peanuts. They’re really silly looking as they pick up peanut after peanut, shake them, and then finally fly off with one. In a matter of moments, the blue jays can carry off a rather large amount of peanuts!

Blue jays sure love peanuts!

Blue jays sure love peanuts!

Recently, I’ve been able to add a few birds to my list of sightings. These are birds that I never dreamed I’d ever see in any other setting other than a zoo. Now, whether or not you believe in old wive’s tales or not, I felt mighty lucky to see these birds. It didn’t make any difference in my life, other than to make me happy.

My first recent sighting was on my way to work one snowy morning. Imagine my surprise when I discoverd a barred owl in the trees above me. He/she watched me as a I slowly drove by (and I was watching them too!)  What a thrill to see an owl in the daylight! (Disclaimer: the photos were not taken by me, but used from the internet.)

I cannot take credit for this photo, but the barred owl I saw was in a very similar setting like this one.

I cannot take credit for this photo, but the barred owl I saw was in a very similar setting like this one.

A few days later, I saw something I never dreamed I see. A huge American eagle!! They really are a big bird! With the fact that at one point, these national birds faced near extinction, I was more than thrilled to actually see one live close to where I work! (Surely, that must mean there’s a nest somewhere close by!)

Again the photo is not mine, but the setting is the same.

Again the photo is not mine, but the setting is the same.

On another day, I saw a few birds that I had seen before, but seeing them all in one day, just thrilled me as well! First, a red tailed hawk. Dave and I often search for these as we drive to and from various places. We see so many of them along the road in trees. I recall once seeing three of them in the same tree!

Red tailed hawk

Red tailed hawk

Then there was this smaller red shouldered hawk I spied at our babysitter’s house sitting in a tree. I also saw a rabbit there that morning that Katie and I chased out of the bushes in front of the house, close to where this hawk was sitting. Incidently, I haven’t seen that rabbit since! Hmmm……perhaps we helped provide breakfast that day????

Red shouldered hawk

Red shouldered hawk

And then there was a another common sighting that we often see sitting on road signs and electric wires….an American kestrel. What a pretty bird!

American kestrel

American kestrel

And this particular day, I also got to see a beautiful blue heron come in for a landing on a nearby stream.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

There was one other bird I saw just this week. Again, it’s one of my favorites. It’s the “woody woodpecker” – a pileated woodpecker.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Now I’m sure there are probably plenty of old wive’s tales about seeing these particular birds, but you can keep them. I DO think they are God sightings. It seems when I’m having a blah day, just down in the dumps, or even when I’m deep down and depressed, I’ll see some of these favorite birds of mine. I think it’s God’s way of reminding me that He’s there for me. He lets me see these birds so that my spirit gets lifted. It reminds me of 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?” (ESV) Yes, Lord, I am of more value than a bird; thanks for the reminder. Even when I don’t think I’m worth anything, You remind me that I am worth something to You!

♥Miriam

The Power of Suggestion

Do you remember when we were kids. The first thing we were told not to do was the first thing we wanted to do. Ever notice whenever you have no electricity, the first thing you want to do is turn on a light? Or how about when you have no water? The first thing you need to do is go to the bathroom, but then you can’t flush! Have no heat? Suddenly, you’re just about frozen with no hope of ever getting warm again. It’s the power of suggestion.

Advertisers know this.  All they have to do is show you a picture of a big juicy cheeseburger, and “poof”, you’re hungry and feel the sudden urge to run to Wendy’s. (Or maybe, you think you need a cheeseburger now because you just read that!) It’s weird how our minds work!

Tonight, I went to see the Chambersburg Area Middle School’s (CAMS South) production of Willy Wonka Jr. My nephew Cory played Grandpa George in the play.

Willy-Wonka-JRIt was a good production! The only bad thing was the continuous theme of candy and chocolate. I leaned over to Dave several times to “hint”….”I think we need to make a stop on the way home,” I’d say.

“You do, do you?” he’d reply.  He knew what I was wanting!

I’m a confirmed chocoholic! If there is no chocolate in the house, I’ve been known to eat from the stash of semi sweet chocolate chips I keep in the freezer, or take a “dose” of chocolate syrup from a tablespoon!

I always thought Willy Wonka (the movie) was rather disturbing. I cannot stand the psychedelic boat ride scene. I didn’t even like it tonight….the flashing lights they used to simulate the swirling lights from the movie, made me about nauseous. Despite my dislike for Willy Wonka (or maybe it’s just a dislike for Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp….depending which version you’re watching), I sat and watched the production. However, the constant reference to chocolate and worse yet, seeing a chocolate waterfall throughout most of the 2nd half, starting stirring that craving even more.

I leaned over to Dave again. “We need to stop for gas on the way home.”

No response.

“Did you hear me? We need to get gas on the way home.”

“Yes, I heard you,” he answered. “Are you sure there’s nothing else we need to stop for?” he asked. (He knows me so well!)

“Well, maybe….” I reply. “Maybe, just maybe I might need a chocolate bar about this big,” I say as I hold up my hands about 2 feet apart.

Dave says, “I don’t think Sheetz sells candy bars that big.”

“Then I’ll get two of their biggest ones to make a bigger bar,” I decided.

He just rolled his eyes and smiled. But on the way home, he did stop for gas (we really did need gas!) and he brought me out two of these:

Hershey Bar with AlmondsAaaaaaaaaaah, chocolate heaven!

Now, did I really “need” the chocolate? No. But did I enjoy it? Oh, yes!!!! Drat that power of suggestion!

♥Miriam

Amid the Trials

Several years ago, my church did a bible study on spiritual gifts. We did an in-depth study of what gifts there were and we all took a “test” to determine what our gifts were. My gift turned out to be encouragement. I was also strong in the servant & compassion departments.  Really? Encouragement? Surely the test must be wrong. I’m not one to send out cards for every occasion. I rarely remember a birthday…though Facebook helps remind me of birthdays now….so I don’t really have an excuse. I’m not an encourager. That’s what I convinced myself of.

A few years later, there was renewed interest in what our spiritual gifts were and I did the course again. Certainly, if I took the test again I’d come up with a “better” gift. The results were the same. By this time, I was in nursing school and I thought for sure that compassion should be my gift. Nope…still very strong in the encouragement department.

Time went by and I put this on the back burner. Life was busy, and the test was wrong anyway, so I thought, so why should I care?

There were many trials that I faced in my late teens up through my 30’s. I had some difficult employers who didn’t care for my dedication to God and my desire to go to church and be a part of church activities. I had a boss that lied to other employees and claimed that I had said things about them, which thankfully, these coworkers knew I would have never done or said those things.  By the age of 25, I had lost all of my grandparents and a beloved uncle died of a terrible disease. (He instilled in me a love for birds and flowers.) I was involved in two major car accidents (but thankfully escaped injury both times!). I faced financial devastation several times. I nearly lost my first pregnancy (Katie) to HELLP Syndrome (a severe form of preeclampsia). I lost two pregnancies and a precious baby boy that we were adopting. One thing after another occurred….more than I can list here. Some things were just absolutely devastating and I couldn’t figure out why God would ever allow someone to go through some of these things.

I Cor 10.13

Well, I know now. He was developing my gifts. He allowed these trials to grow my faith. Now in my role as a development coordinator, I get to interact with many people. During the course of my visits, we get to know each other.  These people share their life-stories with me. Many have had similar if not the exact same type of trials that I have been through. I soon came to realize that perhaps, just perhaps, God allowed some of those trials so that I could connect better with some of these people. I could encourage them by sharing how God helped me through those same trials.

Recently, I met a woman who was once fired for sharing God’s love with a patient. She refused to stop, and they fired her. Now, I was never fired, but I was advised to keep my religious beliefs to myself. I could identify with her and we were able to share these frustrations together.

I also met a man who shared about the devastation of losing his first-born baby girl shortly after birth. Again, I could identify. We lost our son when he was 2 days old because his birth mother changed her mind about the adoption. I knew that pain he felt.

Another shared about losing a parent to a debilitating disease that deteriorated her mind and body over time. I had experienced that multiple times in my family, but I sensed a parallel comparrison to her situation and the long illness and subsiquent death of my grandfather.

Why does God allow trials? There are trials we will never know why He does allow them.  Then there are others where it’s painfully clear why we’ve had to deal with them.

When I was suffering pregnancy loss, followed by the loss of our adoption, no one could have ever told me I’d see God in that situation. In fact, I spent an awful lot of time yelling at Him for allowing it to happen. Yes, I yelled at Him.  I’d scream every night on my way home how much He’d let me down. I’d scream on my way to work as to why He’d punish me in this way….after all, I worked for an OB/GYN and those kind of nurses should never have a pregnancy loss. It took a while, but I soon realized that God was allowing me to experience this so that I could minister to other women who experienced a loss. I could help comfort and encourage them.

As we go through trials, it’s difficult to think that something good could ever come of that moment. But at some point, an “aha” moment might come and you’ll realize very clearly that God uses those moments to grow us and to encourage others. So bring on those trials! God has promised us He will never give us more than we can bear. Thank you, Lord for growing us in these trials of life!

♥Miriam