Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Prayer Room...

My Wednesdays begin in the Prayer Room of our church.  All of us pray-ers know the combination to enter this little sanctuary where we focus the time we spend there on the vast number of prayer requests.  It can be overwhelming because there are so many needs and so few people finding time to commit to this opportunity.

Today I read again the request submitted one Sunday morning in July by Margaret*.  I knew Margaret only slightly but we had met several years ago after she moved to our community.  We were sitting next to each other for the worship service and a conversation began in which I learned of some difficulties in her life.  I have rarely seen her since.  But seeing her name again this morning and reading her request reminded me of how carelessly I had listened and responded to her situation over these past few years. 

It seems Margaret's problems have not gone away.  She is still a single Mom with three children, one of whom is autistic, and her ex-husband is diagnosed with cancer.  The sheet with her prayer request included a phone number.  Since there was not an update on this request since July, I decided to call the number and see if Margaret was available for a conversation and update.

Margaret answered after a number of rings.  With hesitancy at first, she shared that there was no change in her situation since July.  "In fact," she stated, "things have gotten worse.  It seems there is a black cloud following me!"  Her voice began to quiver as she told me that her rental home had been sold "out from under her" and she was in the process of moving.  Her ex-husband has been given 3-6 months to live, her autistic daughter is very agitated about this and wants to spend as much time with him as possible so weekends include a 400 mile drive to/from his home, another daughter is in a bad relationship and Margaret is exhausted and angry!

I felt at a loss for words.  How come "when it rains, it pours" as the expression states. 

I assured Margaret that I would update the prayer sheet and our church family would continue to pray for her.  But inside I was feeling her situation was nearly hopeless. 

"What could I do to change her situation?  Nothing."

I was about to hang up when a "still, small voice" urged me to pray with her over the phone.  I suggested it and she agreed.

As I closed my eyes, picturing this dear, young mother, I found myself with God's words and truth welling within so that my prayer became a fervent imploring of God to lift the heavy heart and angry soul of this gal who had reached out for helpful prayers from a blessed congregation.  I found myself energized as my words flowed to the throne. 

And in these moments, I knew I was able to "do" something to help her.  I could "pray" and that is not a small thing. 

Without answers ourselves, we have a lifeline to the One with the answers. 

My time in the prayer room had perhaps a greater impact on me today than it did on those for whom I prayed.  But I'm confident that my prayers have been heard by our patient, loving, transforming heavenly father and He is able to lift the load being carried by Margaret and many others.

*not her real name

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

10 Tips to Help Yourself Stay Safe...

Received this by email today and think it's worth sharing here:
Even if you have seen this before, it is a good reminder.

Written by a Cop for Our Own Safety

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do :
The elbow is the strongest point
on your body. 
If you are close enough to use it, do!  


2.. Learned this from a tourist guide.
If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse,
Toss it away from you....
Chances are that he is more interested
in your wallet and/or purse than you,
and he will go for the wallet/purse.

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car,
kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out 
the hole and start waving like crazy..
The driver won't see you, but everybody else will.
4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars
after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit
(doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc.
The predator will be watching you, and this
is the perfect opportunity for him to get in
on the passenger side, put a gun to your head,
and tell you where to go.

If someone is in the car
with a gun to your head
Instead gun the engine and
speed into anything,  
wrecking the car.
Your Air Bag will save you.
If the person is in the back seat
they will get the worst of it.
As soon as the car crashes
bail out and run. 
This has saved lives.
It is better than having them find your body 
in a remote location.

5. A few notes about getting
into your car in a parking lot,
or parking garage:
A.) Be aware:
look around you,
look into your car,
at the passenger side floor ,
and in the back seat.
B.) If you are parked next to a big van,
enter your car from the passenger door.
Most serial killers attack their victims
by pulling them into their vans while the 
women are attempting to get into their cars.
C.) Look at the car
parked on the driver's side of your vehicle,
and the passenger side.. If a male is sitting 
alone in the seat nearest your car, 
you may want to walk back
into the mall, or work, and get a
guard/policeman to walk you back out.
(And better paranoid than dead.)
6. ALWAYS take the elevator
instead of the stairs.
Stairwells are horrible places to be alone
and the perfect crime spot.
This is especially true at NIGHT!)
7. If the predator has a gun
and you are not under his control,
The predator will only hit you  
(a running target)
4 in 100 times; and even then,
it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ.
RUN, Preferably in a zig -zag pattern!
8. As women are always trying
to be sympathetic:
It may get you raped, or killed.
Ted Bundy, the serial killer,  
was a good-looking,
well educated man, who ALWAYS played
on the sympathies of unsuspecting women.
He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often
asked 'for help' 
 into his vehicle or with his vehicle,
which is when he abducted
his next victim.
9. Another Safety Point:
Someone just told me that her friend heard
a crying baby on her porch the night 
before last, and she called the police  
because it was late and she thought 
it was weird.. The police told her
'Whatever you do, DO NOT
open the door..'
The lady then said that it sounded like 
the baby had crawled near a window,  
and she was worried that 
it would crawl to the street and get run over.
The policeman said, 
'We already have a unit on the way,
whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.'
He told her that they think a serial killer
has a baby's cry recorded and uses it to coax
women out of their homes thinking 
that someone dropped off a baby.. 
He said they have not verified it,
but have had several calls by women 
saying that they hear baby's cries  
outside their doors
when they're home alone at night.
10. Water scam!
If you wake up in the middle
of the night to hear all your taps outside 
running or what you think is a burst pipe, 
These people turn on all your
outside taps full blast so that you will 
go out to investigate and then attack.

Stay alert, keep safe, and look out for 
your neighbors!
A candle is not dimmed by lighting 
another candle..

Friday, October 7, 2011

Miss Violet Mann....

There is not much about my first Sunday at Lakeside Evangelical Free Church in Winona, MN that I remember except the Sunday School class to which I was taken and its teacher, Miss Violet Mann.  I was probably about ten years old. 
I was quite sure at the time that Miss Mann must have been close to a hundred years old - at least eighty it seemed.  She was short, wore a long, dark skirt, had black "granny" shoes which laced up the front - an item old women chose back then -  and wore a dark, cardigan sweater over her carefully ironed cotton blouse.  Her unremarkable gray hair was combed straight back from her face and coiled into a bun at the nape of her neck - another sign she was really old.  She wore no makeup. 

Miss Mann had a face that I still see today - some 50 plus years later.  Her skin sagged a little below her eyes and under her chin but I don't ever remember seeing her frown.  Her face was winsomely warm and tender.  She was soft spoken and yet well respected by everyone of all ages.

What I would come to learn about Miss Mann were things of which she didn't speak.  She did not have a car and did not drive.  She walked to and from church unless someone gave her a ride which we often did for her trips home.  She worked as a domestic helper and had a room in the home of a wealthy family.  She never married.  Her personal wardrobe and possessions were what most people even then considered meager. 

So what about this woman makes her a stand-out memory from my childhood?  It was her genuine, quiet devotion to the Lord and to those children she got to know through her classes in our little church.  She NEVER forgot our birthdays.  After we moved to another class and after heading off to college, we continued to receive her annual birthday card and the handkerchief she ALWAYS included with it.  I didn't think too much about it at the time but now I know that her meager personal possessions were a choice in order for her to buy the little remembrances she continued for many children for many years.  And I feel certain that those cards came with her faithful prayers for each of us. 

Miss Mann lived a long time after I moved into adulthood.  When I learned of her death, I remember calculating her age when I would have first met her.  She must have been barely forty years old!!  But her choice to invest in the lives of children was not wasted on me nor many others. 

Her selfless practice of Jesus' words from Mark 18:16,
"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these"
remains a treasured memory of my childhood and continues to have a profound impact on me.
I have written this memory in response to a prompt from Jennifer@GettingDownwithJesus  which I found on The High Calling Blog site.  Jennifer's story about Gladys is well worth reading.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sharing A Letter to Shara...

Dear Shara,
I have to tell you something funny!!!
Do you remember when the following happened during one of our first meetings - before you had our family's name?
We were driving somewhere and other family members were with us.
You said to me something like this
"So Ms. Linda, I hear you like to shop at thrift stores!"
"Yes, I do as a matter of fact!"
"Well, I bet I'm a better thrift store shopper than you!"
Do you remember what happened at that point following your audacious boast?

A chorus rose from all who knew me a little better - like my children - and this is what they said:
"Oh no, Shara.  My mother is the QUEEN of thrift store shopping!"
And from there we swapped thrift store shopping stories until I proved the truth of my children's exclamation.

But now I have another story to tell.

Andy, Jill and Linda
I worked at Laity Lodge this past weekend during the Writer's retreat.  There were a number of workshops offered to the attendees.  One of those was "Song Writing" with Andy Gullahorn and Jill Phillips as the professional facilitators.

Well, I hadn't for even a second thought about joining that group but your friend, Cameron, was there.  I think she got confused and thought that because you and I have the same last name that I must have some of the same talent as you so she said to me
"Hey, are you coming to the song writing class with me?"
I pretty much laughed and babbled something about that not being my gift but she seemed undeterred by my disclaimers.  And with a momentary thought that since I did have one line which for years I've tried to put with some other lines in order to compose something - story, poem... but never thinking "song", I decided to allow her tenacious encouragement, prodding, ill informed lure me to the group. 

Now here's the thing which surprised and amazed me...

The group got really nervous when they heard I was coming to the class!!!  And that could only have been reality because of you.

I might be the Queen of thrift store shopping, but
Sound Check at Lincoln Center before the MY BRIGHTEST DIAMOND American Song Writers Series Concert.
"you're the Queen of song writing!!!" 
So the class took me in, nerves were calmed and I was treated with encouraging grace.

Just wanted you to know about the fun I had because we share the same last name - each of us proudly bearing the name which a man of honor gave us as we chose to spend our lives with him. Thanks for joining our family and "taking us all up a notch" in the process!!!

Special guys on tour with wife and Mama in Holland, MI
So proud of your gifted work.  Praying for your new record as it's released October 18, 2011!

Someone at the retreat told me he already has it ordered!!!

Thanks also for loving my second born and for giving me that sweet little fellow who also shares our name!!! 

Love, Mom / Grandma Lee

Note:  Shara likes the letter and approved of it being shared here.