The Labor and Love of Quilting

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Do everything in love. –1 Corinthians 16:14 (NIV)

In the 1970s, I became interested in old things, mostly due to a neighbor’s living room being beautifully furnished with old things. Some were valuable antiques and some were simply aged pieces Betty found interesting.  I was fascinated with her finds and found them more appealing than new-from-the-store decor.

I caught the love for vintage and Daddy, taking note of my excitement, began looking for things to gift me. There was an old oak rocker purchased originally from a Sears catalog, a faux Chippendale coffee table from L&M Tea Company, and the quilt you see pictured.

Dresden Plate design

Actually, Daddy found, or was given, the quilt top and then paid someone to quilt it. Mother shook her head in bewilderment that Daddy spent money to have it completed. She didn’t think it was a very pretty piece and it was not in good shape. It was certainly not a fine quilt top like she and her mother, my grandmother, had done in their early years.  I saw all she said but I loved that my dad wanted to do this for me and accepted it with much appreciation. 1 Peter 4:8, simply put in the NLT, says the most important thing of all is to love each other deeply. This was a demonstration of Daddy’s love and I would receive it as a demonstration of mine.

For years, the quilt remained folded and stored, never used. It was too small for my bed but I could never part with it because it was a gift Daddy had taken such pleasure in giving me.

One cold night recently, I pulled the quilt out of storage, ran it through the washer and dryer, and put it on my bed. It didn’t quite meet the sides of my bed but layered between a sheet and comforter, it held in place. It felt so good to lie beneath its warmth and remember how I came to have it.

I wondered who the women were who put the quilt together — the one who pieced the top and the one who later did the quilting. I especially thought about the one who put the pieces together, thinking she would have used whatever fabric scraps available, maybe even some passed on by friends and family. I have had the quilt for almost 50 years and the top showed a lot of age when Daddy came upon it. I can’t imagine how old it is from its beginning.

When I married in 1962, my grandmother gave me a beautiful Double Wedding Ring quilt. Oh, how I wish I still had it, but it was lost along the way. The stitching in that quilt was so fine and delicate. I don’t know how many hands were involved in the quilting, but I’m sure Mama pieced it all by herself.

My favorite of the old quilt designs was Little Dutch Girl. I was fascinated by the girls in profile with their calico bonnets and dresses. I slept under one of those growing up that my mother made. Some quilters called the pattern Sunbonnet Sue.

Every stitch of my baby quilt was done by my mother’s hands.

I have my baby quilt that my Mother embroidered and quilted. Twelve little animals play across its top, each one different. It first snuggled me, then each of my brothers, and finally my own daughter. It’s close to 80 years old and though the edges are frayed from many washings, I don’t find a single missing or broken stitch. I find that amazing. For Mother’s handwork to hold up for 80 years reminds me of Colossians 3:23 that says Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord (NIV).

A close-up of a lamb on my baby quilt that Mother embroidered about 1943. Every stitch is tightly intact.

In the days of quilting by my grandmother and mother, quilting frames were quite large and usually dropped from the ceiling. Then all who could come and help would sit around the frame and delicately lay stitches, piercing through the top piece, batting, and under piece, then returning from the bottom. They shared their labor and turned out creative works of art. The work of their hands provided warm beds for their families. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 says Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands (NLT). That verse well describes the women of an earlier era who labored long and hard over what was before them to do. It was the life my mother and grandmother lived.

Quilting still happens, but the stitching today is done by sewing machines. Quilters often have machines just dedicated to quilting. The artistry is through the colors and designs and precision. To hear my friend Bonny talk about all that goes into her quilts is a delightful experience. You hear the love of the design, the challenge of selecting the fabrics that fit the person, and her anticipation of the recipient’s response. Bonny made me a lap quilt years ago. She said she chose colors that reflected my personality.

My quilt from Bon. It is a variation of Uneven Nine Patch. In the past 25 years, she has made at least 120 quilts.

Quilting was and still is an artistic labor of love. And I’ve been a grateful recipient for a lifetime.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. –1 Peter 4:10 (NASB)

A Song in Mama’s Heart

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We fall down,
we lay our crowns
at the feet of Jesus.

This was the music playing to call our prayer group to worship. Suddenly came a strong vision of my grandmother kneeling before Jesus with her gaze fixed solidly on Him. She saw only the One she had loved all her life and it was if she were the only one in His presence when she placed her crown before His feet. Tears filled my eyes.

It was fitting that during this sacred moment such a strong vision of my grandmother would come. Seeing her with the Lord, giving back to Him the crown He had given her. While on this earth, she lived daily in His presence. She was constant in prayer and song was one of her ways of praying. 

papa, mama, mother, me 1943

With Papa and Mama and my mother. The little quilted-brim sunbonnet would have been made by Mama or my mother.

My earliest memory of my grandmother, Dulcie Cotton Spencer, is of her kneeling beside her bed at bedtime in a white homemade nightgown. Her long braids that she wore wound around her head during the day were loosened to fall down her back at night. Mama prayed aloud. Maybe that was her way of including Papa in the nighttime prayers.

While too many of us have concern for our worldly possessions, how ours are stacking up against others, Mama’s concern was gathering up treasures for the king of Kings. She was instructing us in the word of God, sheltering us in His and her love, providing for the sick and grieving with pots of her famous Chicken and Dumplings, welcoming all into her home without regard for what she had to show. Mama and Papa lived a frugal life, but they always had money to help others — and they helped many. They had their priorities in order.  

Copy of spencer family about 1951

1950-51

Both of my grandparents had an intimate, abiding relationship with the Lord, but it was Mama who kept a song in her heart and on her lips. Every day, all day, Mama sang about the Jesus she loved. Ephesians 5:19 says speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, and Mama did that. When she cooked, she sang. When she cleaned house, she sang. And when Mama ironed, she sang again. 

Mama Dulcie especially loved songs about heaven. Two of the hymns I remember her singing a lot were When the Roll is Called Up Yonder and Ring the Bells of Heaven. If I close my eyes and sit very still, I can hear her sweet, joyful voice.

Ring the bells of Heaven! There is joy today,
For a soul, returning from the wild!
See, the Father meets him out upon the way,
Welcoming His weary, wandering child.

Glory! Glory! How the angels sing:
Glory! Glory! How the loud harps ring!
‘Tis the ransomed army, like a mighty sea,
Pealing forth the anthem of the free.

Thank you, Mama, for loving Jesus so much and teaching your children and grandchildren to love Him, too. Thank you that you never stopped singing about Jesus. You sang with strong and confident assurance because you knew Him so well. I look forward to being with you again and seeing the mansion Jesus prepared just for you, but for now I sing the song that you sang:

When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

______________________

I cherish letters from my grandmother. I was not able to be at the family gathering on Christmas of 1986, so she wrote to tell me about it. She closed out her letter with these words: I thank God every day for all my blessings. I know he hears me. I know He heard you, too, Mama, and I’m grateful for every prayer you offered with my name on it. I feel certain I’m still reaping the rewards.

My treasured picture with Mama, 1982, was made by The Jackson Sun when they published an article I wrote about Christmases at my grandparents’ house. Papa had died a few months before.

The Best Christmases of All

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Mama and Papa 001There was only one thing my grandparents wanted each year for Christmas—for all their children to be home at once. That was the gift that brought tears to Papa’s eyes and radiance to Mama’s face. All seven children home with spouses and children. I think it was what gave all of us the best of Christmases.

DAY_DADDY_CAME_HOME_FROM_SE - Copy

Their house was humble in appearance. A white frame house Papa had built onto as need required. My mother and I were the reason for one addition. When Daddy went to war and I was just months old, Papa brought us there to live with them. It was a house made for practicality and not show.

At Christmastime, the multi-colored lights on the tree shone through the living room window, beckoning us home. Cars parked on the narrow street up and down both sides for a block. Neighbors never minded; they were invited to join us and some always did. 

Each time the front door opened laughter and greetings of welcome rang out. It was good to be together again. Mama and Papa would stand just inside the door waiting to embrace every family member and friend. Papa would chuckle with delight because his “chillun” had come home. Christmas with Papa 1979 001

Packages were stowed under the tree and dishes of food taken on to the kitchen to help Mama feed the multitude. She had cooked for days and if no one had brought a single thing, there would still have been plenty. After the tree and kitchen visits there was one more stop before joining the men for talking or the women for getting the food ready. That stop was to find Mama’s large blue granite roasting pan. For in that pan would be the one dish we had looked forward to all year—Mama’s cornbread dressing. I guess we just needed a little reassurance that it was there waiting for us.

Christmas at the Spencer’s was for love and sharing and the larger the crowd the better. Boyfriends, girlfriends, in-laws, great aunts and uncles, our pastor and his family, our small town’s highly revered doctor and his wife. Everyone was welcome. We sat everywhere, even in the bedrooms. And the food was like the loaves and fish that Jesus blessed, it seemed to keep replenishing itself.  JIM_AND_DULCIE_SPENCER_001 - Copy

One thing always happened in that house before any meal was had and that was a prayer of thanksgiving. At Christmastime, everyone migrated to the spot where Papa and Mama stood and a hush fell over the house. If Papa said the prayer he thanked God for every person there—and he cried. Papa couldn’t pray without crying because his heart was ever grateful to God for His blessings, and when Papa spoke to the Lord, his love for Him spilled out emotionally.

Money couldn’t buy the blessing of having been born into the family of Jim and Dulcie Spencer. I am indeed rich in heritage. I thank God for giving me two of His finest creations as grandparents and for the many memories of Christmases past on Campbell Street in Medina, Tennessee.

Mama and Papa 1977

Jim and Dulcie Spencer (Papa and Mama) at their house on Campbell Street in 1977. The place we all called home and would rather be than anywhere else.

The seven Spencer children, mid-1980s, probably.
L-R (standing): Tera, Betty Jo (Replogle), Bluford
Front: JB, Louise, (Luffman), Evelyn (Barnes),
Cornelia (Cagle)
Spencer children standing in birth order. The picture was probably made about 1938 or ’39. Louise (my mother), JB, Bluford, Cornelia, Tera, Evelyn, Betty Jo. All deceased except for Cornelia (94) and Tera (92).

This was first published in 2014. I have added a few pictures and am posting it again today in honor of the 30th anniversary of my grandmother’s going home to Jesus. There was never a better woman than Dulcie Cotton Spencer. She witnessed her faith and love for Christ every minute of her life.

Thanksgiving 1982 at my house. She was 82.

The Problem with Assuming

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I am reading an 1800s novel about a man who causes himself great heartache when he assumes something to be true solely based on what he sees. In the story, Larson is badly burned while away from home on business. He survives only by a godly couple’s determined care for his body and soul. He is unable to get word to his wife, Kathryn, and is thought to have died in a snowstorm. Yet his wife never gives up hope that he is alive and will come back to her.

Months later, when Larson is able to travel, he lingers on the outskirts of his rural community’s small town, watching for his wife and wondering if she will accept him back into her life. The burns have left him scarred beyond recognition. He is hesitant to reveal himself to his wife for fear of her disgust and rejection upon seeing him. 

Larson, looking on from the shadows of the small town, sees his wife going into a brothel and assumes she has turned to this kind of life to make a living. They were barely surviving when he left home. He also notices a bulge at her waistline and assumes, rightly so, that she is pregnant. But Larson believes Kathryn is pregnant by someone she entertained. Now he is the one filled with disgust.

Larson’s assumptions were wrong. Kathryn was taking food to a woman in the brothel, a woman she was bearing witness to that God had a better plan for her life. And the baby she was carrying was his, conceived on their last night together. He had not given room for that possibility because, after 10 years of trying to have a baby, Larson believes himself to be sterile.

For quite a while, Larson watches from afar, loving her with all that he is but doubting his ability to accept things as they appear to be. He finds solace for his heartache only when he turns to the Bible the couple had given him. Philippians 4:8 said to Larson, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (ESV).

Kathryn had been all these things and when he focuses on these truths, Larson finds peace. God’s word becomes a shelter for him from the harsh winds of his conjecture. When he falters and lets go of God’s wisdom, each time he falls back into assumptions which leads to agitation and anger. He inflicts needless pain on himself by believing what he thinks he is seeing — but isn’t real.

Aren’t we all guilty from time to time? Making ourselves miserable with assumptions? Remember how Jack Webb of Dragnet fame used to say, “Just the facts, ma’am (or sir), just the facts”? That’s still good advice. We can wind up in a place we don’t need to be and find later the destination was completely unnecessary and not on God’s map for us at all. The Message Bible says this in Proverbs 25:8: “Don’t jump to conclusions. There may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw.”

Tamera Alexander is an inspired writer, weaving scripture into the storyline exceptionally well. Her book, Rekindled, is a good reminder of many things, but for this blog purpose, it is that we should never make decisions based on assumptions. And, even should our assumptions turn out to be correct, God’s overriding principle is still Love. His word is a book of love. His love for us and how He wants us to love others. We shore ourselves up mightily when we read and practice its wisdom daily.

God’s word is always wisdom.

Prayerful Pondering’s beautiful header is by Mark Hearn, my son-in-law.

Saying Goodbye

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Goodbyes are especially hard for me. I just don’t handle them well — never have. It’s a part of me I don’t quite understand.

When I took early retirement from a job that I loved, I refused the customary appreciation reception; I simply couldn’t bear to think how emotionally hard it would be. I had poured heart and soul into my job. I knew it was a place that God had brought me to serve Him and letting go was necessary but not easy. Additionally, I asked my staff to treat it as if it were any other day and not say goodbye. I felt it was the only way I could get through it. I slipped out the side door of my office and quietly drove away.

When my 14-year-old kitty had to be put to sleep, I declined the private time at the Veterinary ER with her prior to the moment. I knew when I left home with Chloe that she would not be returning with me, so I had said the things that I wanted to say to her before we left and while we traveled to the point of goodbye. After she had entered heaven’s gates, the veterinarian told me I could have as long as I needed to stay and hold her, but I couldn’t stay. While I was still in control of my emotions, I had to get back home.

I was at my husband’s bedside when he died, when they unhooked him from life support, at the time of his last breath. Again, I was told to stay as long as I needed, but I could not extend that goodbye either. Richard wasn’t there anyway. I saw him go home to be with the Lord. I saw him healthy and happy. So did our friend who was with us. She said the presence of the Lord was so strong in the room that she would never again be afraid of dying.

My manner of goodbye seems to be through hurried escape. It’s my way of surviving the pain, I think. I need to distance myself and be alone. I need to move through the sea of grief and get back to shore where I feel safer. I really don’t think it’s the best way to handle goodbyes, but it’s my way and God understands. He understands because He created me just as I am. I have been told that when we love deeply, with total abandon, we hurt just as deeply. In all three of the events disclosed, I loved in total abandon.

When something ends that has been important to our life as we’ve known it, we lose a part of who we are. A layer of our being is permanently gone and can never be recaptured. What it was will forever be, but we can’t enhance or change any part of it.

A friend invited me to a ceremony of closure regarding the ending of her marriage. Just months after they were married, she learned her husband was still married to not one but two other women. Yet knowing this, she continued to love and mourn him. Her counselor suggested the shredding of their marriage certificate with her pastor, the counselor, and a close friend. We sat in our church sanctuary where she was given time to say anything she wanted to say. She did it without anger, just brief statements of her love, disappointment, and deep sadness. Then she tore into small pieces the paper that had officially bound them. She told me that the ceremony provided the closure she needed and afterward she was able to move on without looking back. That was powerful. I wish I could be like her: get help with grief, embrace it, take action, never look back. But we just aren’t all built the same way. I’ve tried to imagine handling differently the ending of things in my life and maybe I wouldn’t even if I could. So there’s so reason to look back with regret, is there?

There was a wise old sage that I used to quote in customer service training. He was filled with such good advice in the most uncomplicated of terms. His name was Winnie the Pooh. He said this about goodbyes: “How lucky I am to have had some things that make saying goodbye so hard.” So am I. Blessed, in fact. Thanks, Pooh, for making something that I’ve thought complex sound so very simple and clear.

______________

I am so sorry I have confused many with this blog. I am not giving up my blog, not moving, not going anywhere. This was simply meant as a reflection on how I have handled permanent losses in my past.

~~The new masthead is a photograph by my son-in-law, Mark Hearn.~~

Thanksgiving Day 2021

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This day I am thankful for the more basic things of life:

                A lamp over my shoulder by which to read God’s word

                A warm fireplace to chase away the early morning chill

                The sun that brings morning light

                Coffee and food to begin my day

I am thankful for a rich family heritage:

                That I was born into a God-fearing, believing family

                That church was a part of our life, not an option

                That I had parents who took care of me, sometimes sacrificially

                For parents and grandparents who taught by example

I am thankful at night:

                When I recount the blessings of protection throughout the day

                When I lie down in a comfortable bed in a house that is mine

                Knowing that for now our country is still free

                Knowing that for always God will care for His children

I love the memories of Thanksgivings past:

                The hours of excited preparation for our feasting

                Having family and friends in my home and around my table

                The pleasure it gave my parents and grandparents to come for repast

                My full-of-faith, humble grandfather being the one returning thanks

The Lord has blessed me most abundantly.

                I give Him praise and I give Him thanks!

                He is my first thought in the morning,

                my last thought in the evening.

                I lift up the Lord God Almighty in gratitude!

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;

with my mouth I will make your

faithfulness known through all generations.

I will declare that your love stands firm forever,

that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.

                                                                              ~~Psalm 89:1-2 NIV

I Picked Chloe

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You care for people and animals alike, O Lord. — Psalm 36:6 NLT

Thursday, December 27, 2007. It was going to be a special day for me at the Humane Society where I volunteered. We had decided to add another fur baby to our household and this was the day I would be leaving with a new kitty. I worked on the feline side of the shelter and had my eye on an orange tabby named Henry, but Kristin, one of the employees, said Henry liked people fine, but not other cats. With that said, Kristin reached into the large social room, pulled out a kitten, and said “Pick Chloe!”  She set the tabby with calico markings on the floor and Chloe went scurrying across, pushing a jingling ball. Then she turned around, came running over to me, pulled up on my leg, and looked me straight in the eyes. It was a done deal. I picked Chloe.

Chloe was immediately at home.

Chloe was seven months old when she came to live with us. She did everything right, including giving Samantha, our five-year-old Siamese, her space (which was mostly in my husband’s lap). Chloe took my every step. When I sat down, she quickly nestled close beside me. She understood she was chosen by me; she was my kitty. Both smart and sweet, she understood the rules and complied. It was several days before Samantha even acknowledged Chloe’s presence. One night she looked over at Chloe in my lap and then left Richard long enough to move in close and check her out. Satisfied, she went back to Richard without so much as a single swat or hiss.

It was interesting how they learned from one another. Chloe loved every person that ever came to our house. Immediately, she was greeting them with leg rubs and conversation. Samantha had been shy of people, usually running to the back of the house to hide. Watching Chloe, she slowly became comfortable staying in the room with visitors and approaching them for her own share of attention.

Samantha taught Chloe that it is was extremely important to be tidy with the litter box. Chloe’s initial coverings weren’t the best. She had been used to not so much litter at the shelter. But Samantha, a lady from the beginning, would have none of that. I will never forget Samantha marching Chloe back to the litter box and explaining in her own way how covering was to be done. Chloe looked at Samantha and knew her days of haphazard coverings were over.

Samantha was good about sharing her home with Chloe. They shared pretty much everything but snuggles, which Chloe wanted so much. Yet she knew she was to honor Samantha’s wish to not snuggle – something most cats love to do. So Chloe would follow her lead and nap when and where Samantha did and settle in as close as she could get without touching.

Samantha lived to be 15, outliving my husband (who she considered her daddy), and grieving him terribly. I wrote about her in another blog, My Samantha

Chloe was a great companion. After losing Richard and then Samantha, it was just the two of us. We saw one another through Covid isolation, missing friends coming to visit. I did everything I could to make Chloe happy because that made me happy.  As she aged and developed arthritis, we tried different kinds of beds, and what she didn’t like so much went to the Humane Society. Some afternoons, we went to the secured patio where she could enjoy rolling in the sun, holding her head up to a breeze, or just walking around and checking out the flowers.  At night, she slept at the foot of my bed on a blanket I got her for Christmas. She loved it from the start and it stayed with us for her lap naps. I bought a portable stairway to help her get into her chair as her arthritis progressed. 

In the last year of Chloe’s life, she developed kidney disease, hypertension, and most likely pancreatitis (test had been sent). Looking back, I’m pretty sure she had two or three strokes. There had been three emergency clinic visits and neither time could anything definitive be found.

Then the morning came when we both knew, Chloe and I, that it was time to say our goodbyes. It was a Saturday morning and she was circling the house, finally coming to me and crying out for help. We had spent part of the previous night at the emergency clinic and had not slept once home, just lying side by side. So we took that last trip in the car, this time to stop the suffering once and for all. The doctor who helped Chloe ease into a pain-free life was so compassionate, crooning to her just as I was. Chloe took her last breath in my arms and her fur once again became as soft as rabbit fur, like it had been when she was young. I thought it to be a kiss from God. She was completely healthy again.

I treasure the videos I made of Chloe in her last weeks, even the one of her limping cautiously up the stairs due to her arthritis.  I believe the climb hurt her and I hated to see her do it, but she loved the quiet loft where she had a favorite chair. It was warmer and cozier there. It was where she most enjoyed long afternoon naps.

I have many cherished memories of my sweet shelter tabbico, such as the leg bumps she would give to let me know she was in the room with me, the way she held onto my arm and pulled it close while she was lap napping, and the loving paw pats to my face. Chloe gave me more in her 14 years than I could have ever imagined. So I thank you, Kristin, for lifting that perfect kitty from the social room and putting her at my feet. I’m so very glad I picked Chloe.

My Chloe, one of God’s very best creations. May 13, 2007 – June 19, 2021

I take great comfort in Ecclesiastes 3:21 that says “For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth?” I believe Chloe now runs in the wind and grass of heaven, feels the sun always on her back, and enjoys long walks with our Lord. Reader, if you have lost a treasured companion, I hope you will find comfort, as well.

Brown Sack Memories

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Sometimes I have a flashback of an earlier time where I see a picture and maybe even catch a scent. I’m never prepared for that to happen, it just does. This morning it was of paper sack lunches during elementary school years. I grew up in a small town and life was simple. We were sent to school with our lunch in a paper sack; there wasn’t a cafeteria early on. Our name would be written on our lunch sack and placed on a high shelf in the classroom. When it was time for lunch, our teacher would hand us our sack.

My lunch was usually peanut butter on white bread — always the Colonial brand. Sometimes my lunch would be a luncheon meat called Treet. Treet was similar to Spam, and I don’t think they make it any more. I also remember Vienna sausage, sliced, and mustard spread on the bread. When I opened the top of the sack, I could get a whiff of what sandwich I had for lunch that day. Some kids brought ham or sausage and biscuit from breakfast. One classmate brought chocolate on biscuits and I was fascinated by that. I didn’t grow up with chocolate gravy as many did and I suppose that’s what it was, only thicker so it would work as a spread on the biscuits.

Eventually my brown paper sack was replaced with a tin lunchbox and it eventually held onto the scent of what had been packed in it. My lunchbox was was with the red haired, freckle-faced “Howdy Doody” design. There was more room in a lunchbox and no concern about mashing the contents, so Mother added homemade cookies and maybe a few potato chips and sweet pickles that she had canned. I really liked pickles.

There was something about a sack lunch that was special. They went with me to the cotton fields and to the packing shed where I packed tomato plants. When lunchtime came and we of similar age gathered to open our sacks, it was a relaxing and fun time. Sometimes there were silly jokes told and laughter would become loud and the laughter created even more laughter. We were tired and glad to be sharing 30 minutes or so.

I love the memories that bounce back unexpectedly. Days of long ago that bring a smile as I drift for a short time in childhood. It was a nice moment to remember sack lunches packed by my mother and shared with friends who also ate from brown paper sacks. Thank you, Lord, for the memories.

Be Still . . .

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I sat waiting to be called back to see my newest doctor, a specialist in treating glaucoma. My eye pressure had become too erratic for the comfort of my retina specialist who handled another eye problem, that of an eye stroke.

Today was when I would learn if the new eye drops were going to work or if surgery was to be considered to lower my eye pressure. I had faithfully applied the new medicine and soon I would know.

A doctor’s waiting room is a great place to pray for others. Those sitting around you, praying they will get good news. Those on the church prayer list or friends who have asked for prayer. And at this particular time, prayers for those that, like me, who are dealing with eye afflictions.

As I closed out those prayers, I took myself to the Throne of Grace. I told the Lord He knew I was anxious, but I knew He wanted what was best for me, so I accepted whatever that was – what was for His eternal glory. Immediately, there was a rush of these words:  Be still, and know that I am God! (Psalm 46:10) And then it was like being caught up in a movie someone was fast-forwarding and I was being taken through it by the Hand of God. Scriptures were falling fast into my mind and things God had personally said to me over the years during other anxious and troubled times. I couldn’t keep up! As one thought or scripture came, another instantly took its place. I could hardly focus on one before the next came.  And then I knew what I was experiencing. The Holy Spirit, our Comforter, had lifted me into the mighty rushing wind of God’s presence and love! It truly was supernatural.

The pressure readings were great, even better than I had hoped, actually. Dr. Savage looked at me and said “You’re going to be just fine!” Sweet Jesus, how precious were those words! That’s what I wanted to hear, but during that rushing of Holy Spirit wind, I also felt a peace that if the news wasn’t what I wanted to hear, God would take me through in His strength and use me however He needed to use me.

I was blessed in a way that I could understand. He answered how I had prayed and others had prayed for me. How gracious is our God! But I haven’t always gotten what I have prayed for, far from it. However, since I did this time, I must be sure and use the vision God has preserved in ways that glorify Him – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Would you like to hear a beautiful song by Amy Grant on being still and knowing God? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF1duZuGqAw

Not So Blind Faith

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(1) As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. . . (6) He spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then He anointed the man’s eyes with the mud (7) and said to him, “Go, “wash in the pool of Siloam” (which meant Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (John 9: 1, 6-7 NIV).

In 2016, I experienced a partial loss of vision in my right eye due to a retinal branch vein occlusion.  In layman’s terms, that’s an eye stroke. When I went for treatment, the retinal specialist also found that my eye pressure was too high and my cataracts now needed surgical removal. With so much to take in, this threat to my vision became uppermost in my mind.

Although I have had excellent care, the journey hasn’t been easy. After experiencing surgical complications, preserving my vision still involves frequent medical intervention. Now, the blind man’s story in John 9 has become more personal to me.

This man had never before experienced physical sight, but his story tells me that his hearing may have become acute. Modern medicine has reported that when one sense is missing, the brain rewires itself to compensate for that part of the brain not being used.

Jesus had just spoken in the temple. Had the blind man been listening? Did he hear that same voice when Jesus stood near him and realize who He was? Did Jesus deliberately walk nearby the blind man to test his trust that Jesus was the Son of God and could heal him? Did the blind man sense with his spiritual eyes what he could not with his physical eyes?

In pondering these verses, I think the blind man immediately recognized Jesus’ voice and heard Him say that He was the Light of the World sent by God the Father (see vv1-5). His hearing may have been more acute, but I believe the Holy Spirit was also at work, giving him spiritual vision. I believe this man’s heart leapt with joy at the sound of His voice and then again as he felt the Lord’s gentle touch. He knew he was in the presence of God and, that day, he received two sights: physical and spiritual.

Jesus could have healed the man with just His touch. So, why did He direct him to go to the Pool of Siloam and wash from his eyes the ointment He had applied? I believe it was a test of obedience. And it is at this part of the story that I pause to ponder more, to ask myself:

What am I doing with what He asks of me?

 How intently do I listen for His voice?

How quickly do I act in obedience?

While I marvel at the miracle of Jesus’ healing, for me, the greater lesson is recognizing my need to listen more keenly and obey more immediately. I pray daily to retain my physical sight. I am reminded here to pray just as fervently for my spiritual sight – to hear God’s call to me and obey.