Meant to be Used

coverlet

I have been blessed to have beautiful heirloom coverlets, table cloths, and quilts made by both my grandmothers, some great aunts and my husband’s mother, aunts, and grandmother.

All except for one set, these treasures are in pristine condition even though they are 70 to 80+ years old.

Why is that?

These hand made treasures still look brand new because they were never used!

These gifted ladies spent countless hours designing, cutting, sewing, crocheting, and finishing these items. I have pillow cases with hand crocheted borders and table cloths with embroidered patterns and bound edges. All made by hand – all skillfully rendered.

Never used.

My husband’s Aunt Priscilla gave me a crocheted table cloth and table runner that was hand made by her aunt that had never been used. Aunt Priscilla was born in 1915, so her aunt probably made them around the early 1900’s. I use them frequently, and with care. I do the same with the hand decorated pillowcases and tablecloths.

When my parents recently moved from our home to the retirement community where they now reside, they had to downsize. Mother brought out the coverlet pictured above that was hand crocheted by her mother – Svea Anderson Rohner. It is one of the most beautifully crocheted pieces I have ever seen – so even and precise. Mother asked if I would like it and I told her I would be honored to have it – but I would use it – with care.

It now graces the antique bed in our guest room, my parents’ former bedroom. It looks so pretty there, just like it belongs! I do replace it with a nice, but more durable quilt when guests with children use that room. I want the coverlet to remain lovely so I can pass it on to the next generation. I also don’t want to worry someone using the guest room.

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Still – I DO use it. If it does gets a stain on it – I will try to remove it.

It was meant to be used.

I did mention one set of heirlooms that aren't in pristine condition. These are two quilts made by my father's mother, Grace Auman Barker, that are worn, even a bit tattered in places. Yet they are beautiful hand work and warm and cozy to use. My Grandmother Barker was a very practical person. I doubt she kept anything that she didn't use. I think she would be pleased that these quilts are used by her great and great-great grandchildren!

One reason I enjoy using these handmade objects, besides their beauty, is that they remind me of the ones who lovingly made them.

I treasure the quilt and the coverlet because my grandmothers who made them were women who had a great impact on my life. They were very different in personality, yet each loved God and desired to honor Him with her life. Each had a unique influence on me – each loved me.

God has given us something that He wants us to treasure – something that is meant to be used.

His Word.

God has revealed Himself to us in the Bible and God also unveils His plan to redeem our lives through His Son, Jesus. If my Bible is just a book that is put on a shelf but never used, it is similar to all those lovely things my relatives made and stored away in trunks and bureau drawers – of absolutely no use.

I honor my family members when I treasure and use the lovely things they made.

I honor God when I treasure and read His Word. Just before Jesus was crucified on the cross, He prayed for us – His followers. John 17:13 – 19

13 “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.

Jesus gave us his Father’s words. Now it is our priviledge to share God’s word – the Bible – with our children and grandchildren.

It is meant to be used.

What’s in a Name?

Abi and Dog

“We can’t name our baby after a dog!” Phil replied in an exasperated voice.

“But I named our first dog “Abigail” because it was my favorite name,” I explained.

Those of you who know our family know that our third daughter and fourth child has the beautiful name – Abigail.

By the time we had our third daughter, Phil’s resistance to the name had faded along with the memory of that first dog. She was a Bassett Hound that wandered into our lives, and then wandered out after we paid vet bills for shots and surgery to have her spayed.

I’ve never thought of our daughter being named after a dog.

The name ‘Abigail’ has a Hebrew origin and means ‘source of joy’. Our Abigail has certainly been a source of joy for our family and many others who know her. I recently read that Abigail and Hannah, (our first daughter’s name) have been among the most popular English female names for the past several years. The WEB sites on which I looked this information up varied slightly – but Abigail and Hannah were in the top 20 on all three lists.

When we chose those names, we thought we were being unique – little did we know.

Yet once you name a child something – the name begins to fit them – or does the child begin to fit the name?

God puts significant importance in names. He sometimes changed an individual’s name because of an important change in their life.

Abram became Abraham
Sarai became Sarah
Jacob became Israel
Saul became Paul

Jacob’s name change was the result of a struggle he had with God.

Genesis 32:24-29

24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

The part that impressed me in this passage was verse 28 – “you have struggled with God and with humans and have OVERCOME”. (emphasis mine)

God changed Jacob’s name to a name that meant “he struggles with God”.

I am encouraged by this passage because Jacob struggled and didn’t stop until he received a blessing. Jacob was even injured physically and limped afterwards because of this struggle – so much for us thinking that walking with God is a stroll through the park!

Many of us are struggling right now.

We may feel like we are in the midst of a wrestling match with one of our children, our spouse, our in-laws, a grandchild, or even God.

Hang in there! Don’t give up until you sense God’s blessing!

We will sense God’s blessing in our lives – not when we get what we want – but when we KNOW and trust that God is faithful to take on our struggle for us. He gave us His only son Jesus –

Philippians 2:8-11 (NLT)

8 He humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Amen!

Keep the Fire Burning

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I heard a truck in the driveway and the first thing I did was glance at the wood stove.

Was there wood in the stove or had I let the fire go out?

As is often the case, I had been caught up in my book-making and I had forgotten to tend the fire.

So, before Phil came in I quickly added wood and was sheepishly grinning when he entered the den.

After 38 years, Phil is accustomed to those sheepish grins. 🙂

Yes, I am easily distracted, yet when I am working on art, time literally slips away. I am totally immmersed in the creative process and I need reminders to fulfill my other responsibilites.

We do this spirtually as well. We can get so caught up in “doing” for God that we forget to “tend the fire.” What does it mean to “tend the fire” spiritually?

It means that we are re-stocking our lives with fuel from the Source, in other words making sure that we are receiving fresh spiritual food from God’s Word.

I have been a Christian for over 55 years, yet I can’t survive on old teaching from my past – as good as it was. Anyone who heats with wood will tell you – old wood burns up fast!

I need to allow Holy Spirit to speak to me with fresh insight for the current issues I face today. As I read the Bible, the Living Word, it feeds the flames of the spiritual fire within me.

John the Baptist spoke of this fire in Matthew 3:4-11. First, Matthew describes John’s appearence, unique to say the least.

4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

John is referring to Jesus who soon after this came to John to be baptized. The Pharisees and Sadducees were students of the Law, but their fire had gone out. They were not producing “good fruit”, the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

I must be faithful to feed the spiritual fire within me through reading God’s Word, hearing Biblical teaching, and listening to the Holy Spirit within me. Only then will I have something of value to share with my children and grandchildren and other individuals in my life.

Feeding on the Word of God will keep my fire burning!

PS – Last year I had the special priveledge of speaking at the Women’s Retreat “Follow Him 2013”. I was so blessed by the wonderful ladies who came ready to hear God speak as He challenged us in our desire to Follow Him. Those of you who read this blog and live in Jackson County may be interested in attending this year’s retreat – “Serve Him 2014”. I have been invited to speak again and I have been convicted by what the Lord has given me to share. It is something I know God wants me to work on – so I have sensed the “fire burning.” If you would like more information – please contact Kandi Newkirk or Lorraine Arnold at 586-6008. The dates are Friday evening March 14th through Sunday morning March 16th and the location is the Hemlock Hills Gatlinburg Resort, Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Watch Your Tongue!

all melted....

all melted….

“I hate women’s groups, I didn’t want to come today.”

“I have been so hurt by other women, I didn’t want to come to a ‘feel good’ session when I have been ripped open by women’s gossip and backstabbing…by CHRISTIAN women!”

These are among the comments shared by dear ladies at the end of our Women’s Conference this past weekend. They went on to say…..

“I am so glad I came. I know now that I am not the only one facing the challenges I am dealing with right now.”

“I feel free for the first time in so long, I am so thankful I came.”

I must say that I was surprised by the number of ladies who admitted that they didn’t want to come to the conference. Of the over 70 women that participated, I would venture a guess from a casual evaluation that maybe a third had reservations about attending.

Why?

Because they have been hurt by the words of their fellow Christians.

Hurt by woman who have
* gossiped about them,
* talked behind their backs,
* sometimes even openly judged them.

The hurt was clear in the voices and tears of these women who shared.

Why do we do that? Why do we hurt each other? Are we like wounded animals that lash out visciously to hurt someone else because we are hurting ourselves?

James addresses this very issue in James 1:26

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.

James goes on to say in chapter 3:5-12

5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Whoa!!!

This is quite an indictment on how we misuse our God given ability to communicate. Our tongues are “full of deadly poison”. Verse 10 says – “this should not be!”

This misuse of the tongue was exactly what those precious sisters were expressing. They had been poisoned by the words of other Christians and some of the wounds were still festering. They didn’t want to come to the Conference and have old wounds reopened.

Yet these women came to the Conference!

Why?

I believe it was because the Holy Spirit prompted them to come and receive the healing that they spoke about after admitting their initial reluctance to attend. These ladies shared through tears of joy that they were accepting God’s grace and healing.

The speaker for this Conference, Sheila Atchley, shared stories from the Bible about women who face much of what we face, even if it is 2000+ years later. She shared her own story and gave us a powerful testimony of God’s grace through trials. She challenged us as women to honestly share our stories, using our tongues to bless and encourage each other. I was so blessed by Sheila!

If we have been hurt – we must receive God’s healing grace and love.

If we have hurt someone else, we must ask for forgiveness and receive God’s healing grace and love.

I pray that we would be like the woman in Proverbs 31:26 (NLT)

26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.

Sheila Atchley is an artist who honors God with her beautiful creations. Check them out on Facebook:
Sheila Atchley Designs or Pinterest: Sheila Atchley