Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"It'll All Come Out in the Wash"

"It'll All Come Out in the Wash"  We've all heard the saying but have you ever really seen something fall apart after washing?  Imagine how you would feel after working for days and days on a sewing project just to have it "come apart at the seams" after a test washing!  At first I found myself literally coming apart at the seams.  But I've been through a lot over the past three years, so what's a little spilled milk!  I took a deep breathe after I pulled the little pirate quilt out of the washing machine and found many of the seams on the sailboat blocks open and coming apart.  It was distressing but I could fix it.  I looked for some advice here and there.  I prayed a little.  I got busy.  

I could have thrown it in a corner and given up.  I could have ripped it all apart and started over, but sadly the some of the fabrics had shrunk from the washing experience and there just would have been anything left.  So I had a choice to make - piece it back together with some fine hand stitching, hole by hole.  

It took some patience and some time, but it was worth it.

Last night I finished all the hand work and this morning I threw the thing in the washing machine again.  One little puckery place showed up that I can fix with two little stitches.  Other than that it seems intact.  

Why did I throw it into the washing machine and not hand wash it or dry clean it?  This quilt is going to a little fellow that is going to love it and rub his little banana fingers all over it.  His mama is going to need to wash it sometimes at the laundr-o-mat.  It's got to be sturdy to take the spin cycle.

What analogies to live are in the making and breaking of this poor little quilt project?  

I had to travel far to find good fabric.
All I had was an old machine.
I didn't have any fancy quilting equipment.
I was way out of practice.
It came apart after its first washing.
It's going to be hard to deliver to its recipient.

When I started this project it was to be a work of love to the child of a son who was living far from us and far from God.  Every day as I worked, I prayed.  I told myself that each stitch was going in with a prayer.  Somewhere in the middle of my work is when our boy called to say that he seen God for who He is, asked for forgiveness for past mistakes, and had gotten saved. 

It's been a long journey since the big night that things exploded in our home 
more than three years ago...

We had to travel a long ways to find the right help.
We were just old people and felt quite worn out.
We didn't have any special training in how to deal with it all.
We were way out of our league.
Our family literally came apart at the seams.
We had no idea of what the future would hold.

But God knew.  With much patience and love, He was carefully stitching things back together in our lives.  He was smoothing out the broken seams, pulling out the loose threads and looking for the little holes to repair.  He did this with the prayers of dear friends and loved ones.  God worked it out with the tender loving care of special mentors who never gave up hope and just kept showing their love to us and to our boy.  

Yes, the little patches are visible close up, 
but they are make a part of the grand finished project of a Holy, Good God.

Here's the little fellow that will receive this work of love.

It took patience and some time, but the joy is worth it all.

Thank you, God.

Are you in a bad spot?  Don't give up!  Keep praying.  Keep hoping.  Look for help.  
Send me a message if I can help you.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

Children's Day

October 12 in Brazil is holiday called Children's Day.  It typically means that kids get out of school and get gifts from family and friends.  Teachers usually host a party or event at their schools beforehand or close to and frequently take classes on special fun field trips.  Our church hadn't done anything special on a grand scale for quite some time.  Our young people were interested and so they got to work.

They organized a brand new to them skit based on the Wordless Book colors that someone had seen on Youtube!  The puppet people came up with a new story.  Several young ladies made some new song posters. One on the Sunday School classes sang a special song and some of our flute recorder students did a special presentation.  Prize bags were made ready and a snack was arranged.  Invitations were given out by door to door visits around the church and near areas where we have hosted neighborhood Bible clubs over the past year.

Byron and I were minimally involved.  Byron was asked to do the final devotional message and I was asked to take care of a group game activity.  Byron went out with the inviters and I made sure the snack lady had everything she needed to prepare and serve.  Other than that, our young people did it all.

There were about 85 children present and around 10 accompanying adult guests.  All said and done there were more than 100 people with our gang and own regular kids.  One thirteen year old fellow talked to Byron about a salvation decision.  We hope he will start to come to Sunday School and other church activities.

All in all the event seemed to be a success.  Not perfect, but well done!  

Pray for our congregation and our future plans.  We had hoped very much to see the work more independent at this stage with us moving on to some new ministry after our 2018 furlough.  Our group is mostly made up of young people.  We have few adults actively involved in any leadership roles.  Most of the adults who attend meetings are not church members for varying reasons.  We continue to pray for adults that see the need to get right and busy for God.  Pray as we evaluate our future plans and look for God's guidance.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Joy Unspeakable

The photo above has been on my refrigerator for the past three years.  It's Dalton and I ringing the old farm bell that had been at my Grandma Beckner's house for years and now stands at my mom and dad's.  It was my reminder to never give up hope.  It's slightly fading in the middle but there was always a ray of sunshine coming down from the top to the bottom.

This past Sunday, September 25 at around 10:30 a.m.,  I received one of the most important calls of my life, and I almost missed it.  It was a FaceTime call and I didn't recognize the little bling bling sound.  I was in the process of putting my laptop to sleep to get to the kitchen.  Just as I was closing the lid, there was this little message line over the window that was opened to Facebook - message from Dalton...

I opened the window and saw another message - missed call...

We exchanged a couple of quick messages and he called back.

Are you at home?
Are you sitting down?
Is Papa there?

Byron wasn't here and I was sitting down.  Dalton said he would go ahead and tell me but that he needed to talk to Papa right away.  I froze.  Someone is dead.  Someone is really sick.  Something awful has happened.  What could it be?

Dalton began to tell me about how he had spent his Saturday night. 

Then he told me that he got saved.

Byron got home quickly when I called him just a few minutes later and said that he needed
to come home immediately because Dalton needed to talk to him. 

It was an incredible moment for father and son when Dalton told about asking God for forgiveness of his own sins and asked for forgiveness from Byron. 

Three years ago this September we all started down a long haul as a family.  There were lost hopes and dreams.  There was confusion for each one in our family.  Byron and I questioned our parenting, our beliefs, our missionary call.  There were hard choices.  Dalton's life seemed out of control and we seemed helpless to change anything.

And there were hundreds of people all over the world praying for Dalton every day.   On Saturday night, September 24th, 2016 those prayers were answered.  Angels were singing.  Friends were rejoicing.  Little old ladies were jumping up and down and dancing around their living rooms.

Today's post is not to tell the whole story.  It's just to rejoice that the prodigal son has come home.

Would you please keep praying for our boy?  It's not easy to live a clean, decent life in America these days or anywhere else.  This world is a broken place.  Pray as he looks to do right and serve God.   Pray for his family - Destinie and Chase and soon to come baby Mariya.  Pray as they look to changes, as they start to read the Bible together and strive to do well for God.

This Wednesday the folks at church here in Sobradinho helped us enjoy some "fatted calf" and rejoice the return of this prodigal son to God and family.  We anticipate our reunion in person with great joy.

There are a lot of stories that could be recounted about all that has transpired over the last three years.  Many lessons, many mistakes, many blessings.  Dalton has stories that he will want to tell as he begins to share his testimony.  I have stories that little by little I might share.  So do Byron, William and Greyson.  I'm certain Destinie will have much to tell someday.  Right now all that has passed is shadowed by the praise and joy that we have all experienced this week since that phone call.  Aren't we glad that the Bible tells us that when God forgives our sins - He remembers them NO more!

This post is to thank many of you readers, friends and family, who have prayed and prayed and prayed.  It's to give God ALL the glory for HIS work in Dalton's life.  Join us in this praise and worship of a GREAT GOD.  This is the song that has been running through my head all week ...

Sunday, September 18, 2016

What Does a Baby Really Have to Have?

Not too long ago the ladies at church hosted a surprise baby shower for the young lady that was married just before Christmas.  She's not well off and doesn't have much.  She lives in a small house not much bigger than my living room.  As I considered what sort of message I wanted to pass on to her as this important moment, I began to think of what a mother really has to have before that baby comes home from the hospital.

Byron and I didn't have too much when little William came home from the hospital in December of 1995.  We had been in Brazil for a year and had come with four Rubbermaid action packer boxes between us.  I had in those boxes the baby quilt I had made back in the States and two maternity dresses (just in case).

My mother had been sending shoebox sized packages with onesies and assorted baby clothes all through my pregnancy.  The other missionary ladies had a baby shower for me.  We had a sturdy wooden crib donated that quite a few MK's had used over the years.  Byron fixed it up and painted it country blue!  Someone gave an inexpensive stroller which was very handy in the big city.

But if I had to say - what do you really, really have to have, what would be my answer?  Love, diapers, a crib?

This little devotional below was translated and changed somewhat from a website of free resources for Christian ladies.  I used it at the baby shower mentioned above. You can find the link for the website at the bottom of  this post.  Somethings I find on the web in English don't make sense culturally here in Brazil.  I found this very compatible and easy to modify.  I can't guarantee that the translation is perfect or any good at all, but you may feel free to use this as long as you give due credit to Julia Bettencourt of Creative Ladies Ministry.  Remember it's mostly just an outline and would need to be filled in with some personal antedotes and examples.  I filled a basket with the items and gave the expectant mother a brand new baby rattle as a gift at the end.  The items were things that had belonged to each of my boys.  As I took out each item that was in my basket, I made mention of the boy and why each was important and told some of my own story.  

Enjoy!  But I don't read Portuguese!  Google Translate works very well with this.  I've copied and pasted and most things translate well enough.  Or go to the bottom of this post and read the original devotional in English from Julia.  Check it out!

 O que é que um bebê realmente precisa? 

Uma Manta de Amor

Não se esqueça de embrulhar o seu filho no amor de Jesus para mantê-o bem aquecido. Encher sua casa com amor um pelo outro. Quanto mais o amor de Cristo é mostrado em sua casa, menos haverá de brigas, lutas e discussões, que é algo com que nenhuma criança deve crescer.

"Amados, amemo-nos uns aos outros, porque o amor é de Deus; e qualquer que ama é nascido de Deus e conhece a Deus." I João 4: 7

 Os Blocos da Vida

Dê ao seu filho os blocos de construção de caráter que ele vai precisar para toda a vida. Ensina seu filho dos passos que irão desenvolver-lo em um adulto maravilhoso. Qualidades como honestidade, integridade, obediência, responsabilidade e respeito.

"Ensina a criança no caminho em que deve andar, e até quando envelhecer não se desviará dele." Provérbios 22: 6

Um Álbum de Lembranças

Lembre-se que você está fazendo memórias todos os dias. Anote as coisas que você quer lembrar num álbum de bebê ou num jornal, tirar fotos, mas acima de tudo manter todos estes momentos com seus filhos em seu coração. Você nunca vai ter esse tempo para trás. Aproveita ao máximo, porque o seu filho é um dom maravilhoso de Deus.

"Eis que os filhos são herança do Senhor:". Salmo 127: 3

As Salvaguardas da Alma

Mães tem que ajudar a proteger o seu filho não só fisicamente mas por toda a eternidade. Levá-los para a escola bíblica e os cultos na igreja. Faz culto doméstico. Faz todo o possível para garantir que eles são mostrados as verdades do caminho da salvação em Cristo.

"E que desde a infância sabes as sagradas letras, que são capazes de fazer-te sábio para a salvação, pela fé que há em Cristo Jesus." 2 Timóteo 3:15

O Vestido de Oração

Revesti seu filho em oração. Ore diariamente para eles. Nada vai caber melhor, vai estar mais em temporada, ou vai estar mais adequado para o seu filho de ser revestido e coberto com suas orações. Há tanta coisa para orar sobre a respeito de nossos filhos - sua salvação, a sua segurança, as suas relações com os outros, a sua virtude, o seu testemunho, a sua bem-estar geral. O importante é orar sem cessar.

"Tenha cuidado para nada, mas em tudo pela oração e súplica com ações de graças sejam as vossas petições conhecidas diante de Deus." Filipenses 4: 6

O Livro da Vida 

Faça a Palavra de Deus destacada na vida do seu filho. Ajudá-los a partir do momento que eles são pequenos com versos de memória. Tem brocas de Bíblia espada com eles. Decora versos com eles e deixá-los ver que a Palavra de Deus é importante. Deixa eles ver você ler a Bíblia todos os dias!

"E te ensinar a teus filhos, e te falar deles quando te assentares em tua casa, e quando tu andas pelo caminho, e quando te deitares e ao levantar-te." Deuteronômio 6: 7

O Chocalho da Mãe 

Às vezes você apenas precisa de agitar-se e lembre-se quem você é e que você simplesmente não pode fazer tudo sozinho. Você precisa confiar em Deus para ser uma boa mãe. Aproxime-se ao Senhor nas devoções diárias e na vida de oração. Fazer de Cristo a sua força.  Divirta-se em ser uma mãe. Não leva tudo a sério.  Ser mãe, as vezes, pode ser difícil, mas desfruta do papel de ser uma mãe. Empurrou-se de todo o coração para isto. E não esquece de rir e brincar.

"Posso todas as coisas naquele que me fortalece." Filipenses 4:13

"E tudo quanto fizerdes por palavras ou por obras, fazei-o em nome do Senhor Jesus, dando graças a Deus Pai por ele." Colossenses 3.17

This devotional was gleaned, inspired, built upon and translated from the resources of Julia Bettencourt of Creative Ladies Ministry found @ Baby Shower Devotional
Images are all from ClipArt ETC where they are offered free to use. Free Clip Art

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Quilting for Love

Years and years ago I took a quilting class at a quaint little specialty cloth store in a ritzy part of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  I was around 25 and teaching at a small Christian school.  Another teacher had found out about the class and wanted someone to go along.  I thought it would be cool as both my grandmothers had been a quilters - one perhaps more fancy than the other.  The fancy quilter had just passed away and somehow it felt like a homage to her.

My teacher friend and I had to leave school a little early missing a weekly teacher's meeting for several weeks.  Every time the principal saw us leaving he would say silly things about why would a girl going to a tropical country soon to be a missionary need to know how to make quilts?

I made a baby quilt mostly because it was less expensive and less time consuming.  Around that same time I went through the grief of two miscarriages.  Babies didn't seem to be on the agenda for my husband and I, at least not then.  We were traveling to churches all around Virginia and North Carolina on deputation to go to Brazil.  But somehow I managed to finish the country blue and dusty rose colored quilt.  Later it was included in one of my two suitcases and a few boxes when we finally did leave for Brazil in 1994.

Not long after that Baby #1 was born - William in 1995 and not long after that #2 - Dalton in 1997.  We had next to nothing, but I had that quilt!  It was laid on the baby crib of each of my boys - not much used due to the heat, but nonetheless present.  It was proudly displayed on my wall in several homes as well.  It was made with much love and is now tucked safe in my big black travel trunk.

Now I don't have all the fancy equipment that I bought way back when, but a new fellow and a new baby soon to be born have come along in my life.  So, I"m quilting again.  No ritzy cloth shoppe, no rotary cutters and fancy see-through quilting rulers.  This time old style with ruler, scissors, pins and paper, and a cat to help and much, much love!

For some reason the cat is never far behind...

This is the reverse side.  It's a bought panel that I found online in the USA,
 and dear Granny A mailed to me here in Sobradinho. 

Somewhere along the line one of my little boats got turned in the wrong direction.
I think the cat did it, but decided to leave it be after some advice of pals.

This is the top-side.  It's a typical nine-block thingy with one extra strip 
to make the top at long at the back panel.
Finding material that I like wasn't easy.

The cat was just trying it out to see if it's worthy of a sleeping baby.

I've run into some snags with pinning.  I'm not happy and haven't started actually quilting.  It won't be easy to have the back lined up with the front, so I might go with tying.  I'm giving myself until Monday to figure it out.

As soon as I'm done with this one for a little fellow that just turned one, I'll be starting on one for his soon-to-be born sissy.  It will be an all original applique quilt of pink elephants.  No, I've never done applique before - but these past few years have been full of doing new things.

It's all for love!  It's exciting to be awaiting our first grandbaby and to become a special part of the life of this little fellow below.  It will be a while before I get to meet Destinie and Chase in person, face-to-face, but I can tell you that love doesn't have to wait.  With each stitch of this little quilt, I'm adding love and prayers - and one drop of blood!  Yes, I pricked my finger one day and a nice little drop of blood landed right on a white square.  It washed out well, but hey, it is a quilt for a pirate!

It's not easy having two boys in the States.  Sometimes the harsh reality of the distance is tough.  It's a part of missions that I knew would come one day but didn't know how it would be for me.  Many factors have played into our situation leaving me often feeling quite overwhelmed.  But, I am confident of God's will in serving in Brazil right now and working hard to reach out with love and kindness from far away until we meet face to face.

Dalton, Chase and Destinie with soon-to-be sissy - 
Mariya will who be born in December.
Prayers please for these four!

By the way, I want to be called /Gran-Ma-Má/ just like the grandmother on the Addams Family.  
I hope that little Chase will give me that honor and Mariya, too.  
I'll be coming before too long, and we'll have great fun then.
In the mean time, cuddle up with the quilt I'm sending soon and feel loved.
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