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Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Stitching Of Souls

She knew she was going to pack that pink bag long before she did. Onesies, flannel baby blankets, and long sundresses filled it quickly. At the bottom, she placed a necklace and earrings she bought on an island years ago. They were beautiful, but never felt right on her, so they sat brand new in her jewelry chest until God prompted – they belong in this bag.

She was blessed with fine pieces of fabric. Red, brown, black and white with polka dots, a little lace, inches of pink and blue ribbons, and three tiny sequins. She spent hours stitching and stuffing the doll, cutting the edges into shape with her dull, rusted out scissors. It was stifling hot in her hut and her hands were tired, but she kept working, because this handiwork meant she might eat for a day or two, maybe three or four.

She stood at the ship’s railing watching the sun set that morning. And as she stood still and let the breeze wash over her, she noticed a woman, feet away, singing songs of praise. It was just the two women, a few others passed by. It was a special moment, a special day, she knew. This island of Haiti? God brought her here today.

She woke early in the morning. Today was the day, her ship had come in. A boat, “Thank God” painted on the side, was waiting for her that morning at the dock. She held her name badge like it was gold. It was her pass, twice a month, a promise of hope for her family. It brought her to the peninsula, a fenced off place privileged few were allowed to go.

She entered the gates into the market, knowing full well that was the only place she would connect with any real bit of Haiti. Her heart once believed travels to deeper parts of Haiti would be in store for this day, but circumstances, maybe God, had her here for now. She found her special place in the market, among a row of sweet souls. A woman was there with her hand stitched doll of brown, red, and black and white polka dots. Beautiful, she thought, and her daughter agreed. The grown women beamed as cash was exchanged for a doll. She inquired about the woman’s name and took a picture to mark the occasion, for this doll and Margaret were not to be forgotten.

She arrived that morning with hope, and hope was all Margaret knew in those moments waiting at the market. Hope in the shape of a ship came twice a month, and as the first passengers walked into the market, hope glimmered a bit brighter when a mama, her daughter and son turned the corner. Hope turned to God-promises kept as the mama and daughter looked twice at the doll. The deepest part of her was moved when mama said “yes,” for so many pass right by. She smiled and beamed broad, braids hanging long, as she posed for a picture with this daughter she knew not. It was a happy moment. This mama and daughter loved the doll and the cash would feed her family. The joy in her heart leapt and all was right with the world.

She returned to the beach and sat on the chaise lounge to realize she’d forgotten that pink bag she packed at home days ago. Prompted by God, she made a second trip to the market. Upon return, her bag was emptied in seconds – the men and women were clearly in need. Had she known, she would have packed much, much more. Margaret took a dress and “need[ed]” that pink bag. But as she handed Margaret the bag, she didn’t tell her a necklace and earrings were at the bottom. It’s better a surprise, she thought. For a necklace and earrings seemed so trivial, unimportant, in light of need evidenced by instant emptying of the bag.

She noticed the woman return with a pink bag. She didn’t want to appear desperate, but she was in need. So when she saw the woman remove a long sundress from the bag, it crossed her mind she could use the fabric to make more dolls, which she could sell to feed her family. She humbly accepted the floral dress that was offered, and mustered enough courage to share she also needed that pink bag, for her load was heavy and her journey was long. 

She couldn’t get Margaret and the others from Haiti off her mind, but her ship had docked and it was time to return to the status quo of American life. In the quiet comfort of her master bedroom, she opened a black plastic bag and discovered the doll. She held the doll tenderly in her hands as a precious commodity to be treasured. She turned it and flipped it, inspecting closely the two dolls in one, and that’s when she noticed something she hadn’t  before. Although she assumed, she knew the doll was hand stitched by Margaret, she suddenly saw that doll with fresh eyes. For as she lifted the layers of the doll’s dress, she saw Margaret’s stitches. She saw each one, some short, some long, some turned, some straight. And she noticed the cuts along the edges of the doll’s dress – they were rough and they were real and some were shallow and some were deep. The bands around the doll’s arm were dissimilar – one cut straight across and the other jagged. So imperfect, yet stitched together brilliantly, beautifully. It was a treasure, a masterpiece, and she was blessed to have received this gift.

She returned to the village that evening with the day’s earnings, the floral dress, and the pink bag with the jewelry hidden in the bottom. It was hot and the air was stale in her hut, and she was familiar with the discomfort all of this caused as she settled in for a moment’s rest. She pulled out the dress and peered in the bag. Deep inside she found a treasure, that necklace and the earrings, she’d never possessed such beauty before. She smiled softly, for she knew the best gifts are sent, received, in the quiet.

 

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”  Matthew 26:6-13

Amy

*This is a long overdue follow-up post from our day in Haiti while on a Royal Caribbean cruise in October 2012. Click here to read my original post about our day in Haiti.

Believing In Life Beyond The Battle

The battle. It continues. It rages silently.

Daddy, he ended his own life this week. Mama and three kids are left with questions of why and what now? Souls torn apart, changed forever, from just one act.

And mama, she’s not sure what to do. Her young one struggles with autism. He won’t eat and he’s spitting stuff up. There are no answers. She’s rocking this way and that, and she can’t grasp his ways.

Sister fell off the wagon. A strike of fear runs through hearts, for memories of days gone by don’t fade fast. They long for peace, healing, complete restoration, but truth is, all that’s been slow to come.

Brother’s heavy already, and sister’s getting bigger too. Mama brought them to the buffet. They’ve eaten, but hunger for more. Empty eyes on smart phones fill moments of ordinary, and there’s talk of fancy, far off places, hoping something, anything, will fill the holes in their hearts.

In this world you WILL have trouble, we are told. But this trouble, it’s so hard to bear.

For My yoke is easy and my burden is light, He says.

No more tears, no more gnashing promised in this other-world place of glory.

To survive, we believe. For He is extraordinary, His plan far beyond ordinary.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Amy

Vicki Thunstrom - Oh Amy, my heart to this family. Grief is hard enough, but in these circumstances….. So thankful for Jesus to carry us through these hard times. I will be praying for this mama and her children.July 29, 2013 – 7:16 pm

Tom Baunsgard - Our beliefs are a comfort in troubled times.July 27, 2013 – 12:51 am

Bad Days No More

We approached a big spill on our way to the corner table and intentionally walked around it. A woman seated at a table near the spill warned us to be careful as we passed.

Moments later, the Taco Bell manager, James, appeared with a bucket of water, a mop, and a bright yellow caution sign he placed carefully near the site of the spill. He cleaned it up briskly and when he had completed his work, he smiled and joked with the woman at the table “What spill?” James and the woman shared a bit of light conversation in which I overheard him tell her with all sincerity “I haven’t had a bad day in 30 years, only bad moments.” As the woman got up to dump her tray, she wished him another 30 years just the same, and he agreed whole-heartedly that would be so.

James had more than captured my attention with his boldly optimistic statement that he “[hadn’t] had a bad day in 30 years, only bad moments.” Wow. Imagine how different life would be if everyone had that that mindset! But as I continued to observe this man in action, I realized his powerful presence in this place.

James greeted customers and thanked them kindly for their patience as they waited at the counter, even if they waited only seconds. He approached our table and others asking if everything was alright, and bid customers farewell with a smile, wave, and encouraging words “You have a good one!” James engaged employees in conversation with care and concern to the extent it was clear he was a respected leader.

The energy James brought to this Taco Bell was so strong I could feel it. His positive attitude inspired me and called me to action – to live with more gratitude and optimism, to live richly and boldly, to not grow weary but instead pursue excellence wherever I find myself.

Thank you James. You made my day, and I am grateful. Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re making this world a brighter place.

Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.  Psalm 97:11

Amy

Amy - We can never get enough reminders of this, right Vicki? Glad you were able to stop by, and hope you are doing well!July 23, 2013 – 8:33 pm

Tom Baunsgard - Wow, I love this guy, he really knows how to focus on the whole, versus just a moment! Yep, in truth our worst days are just moments out of that particular day. So now have to say that I have not had a bad day in 63 years! Blessings Abound! Thank you Lord! Thanks Amy for posting this!July 21, 2013 – 7:04 pm

Vicki - Thank you for sharing this Amy! What an encouragement and wonderful reminder to see life as a gift and treat it as such.

Blessings!July 18, 2013 – 12:05 pm

Rest for Weary Moms

Weary, weary moms. This is for you. You’re worn, you’re torn. You’re running on empty. You give your all, and it’s the best you can do.

The kids demand your everything. You jump through hoops, bend this way and that, and drive your mini van like a mad man. Where’s the next place, what’s the next thing, why can’t we do that too?

Run here, do this, be this, respond to this, make sure you don’t forget this, and oh yes, your kid’s misbehaving in the moment you weren’t there, so take care of that too.

Forever you’ll be on the balance beam of mom and woman, but remember, you’re not just mom.

Time for you is precious, so steal a moment when you can.

Sit. Pause. Take a deep breath. Be present, and soak in the moment. Wherever it is.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Amy

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another Meet Me At This Moment for Five Minute Friday post. I spend the last hour of Thursday chatting with a group of authentic and inspiring Five Minute Friday bloggers on Twitter (#fmfparty). One minute past midnight EST Friday, Lisa-Jo Baker gives us a single word prompt and we all write a blog post centered around that word. We write for five minutes, and five minutes only! In the words of Lisa, this is “unscripted. unedited. real.” You meet me at this moment in time…my thoughts and opinions, my joys and sorrows, my dilemmas and dreams. And I receive one of the greatest gifts ever – a regular outlet for processing and expressing my thoughts without constantly editing myself. This is my life, my perspective, unfiltered.

The word of the week is PRESENT.

Amy - Hi Sabrina! It’s always great to see your smiling face on the Twitter stream or blog. Reality is – sometimes a moment of peace and rest is all you get as mom, so moms need to take those moments when the opportunities arise. Have a great weekend!July 13, 2013 – 9:35 pm

Amy - Jennifer, thanks for stopping by! :)July 13, 2013 – 9:32 pm

Carol Femling - Yes, I feel the same thing daily and I started being a mom 37 years ago. It never has stopped for me and yes, most days I am weary too. I guess that is the life God chose for me and I am trying to make the most of it. :)July 12, 2013 – 6:05 pm

Melanie Range - Wow. I’ve come here via five minute Friday and found this. I think that was absolutely beautiful and such an encouragement. I felt like you’re describing me (and a few other moms I know) Finding a moment for yourself is so hard sometimes. Thanks for the reminder.July 12, 2013 – 4:20 pm

Callie Bentley Ewing - I feel like we can’t be told this enough. I’m a first-time first-year mom, so I haven’t made it to the activities-and-minivans stage yet, but everyday I feel like I’m digging for reserves of energy I didn’t know I could possibly have, trying to juggle motherhood and my fulltime outside-the-home job and still remember who I am. Thank you! :)July 12, 2013 – 3:56 pm

Sabrina - Just visiting from the FMF linkup. I loved the encouragement for Mom to take a moment for herself among the busyness of life. Too often, we’re busy tending to everything and everyone else that we don’t even make a moment for ourselves.July 12, 2013 – 12:21 pm

Jennifer @purplebuoy - I am sorry it took me this long to visit your place. So glad I did! Be blessed:)July 12, 2013 – 11:31 am