Monday, May 22, 2017

Clear Direction

In 2015, I experienced a true Miracle!

I needed direction about a potential missions trip and God gave it to me.  This morning a picture came up on Facebook to remind me of just how miraculous that was.  Let me tell you about it.......

Many of you know how our wonderful church family decided for Christmas of 2014 to bless us with the surprise of a trip to Israel (for the following spring.)  It was a lifetime dream of ours to visit the Holy Land and our joy was uncontainable while preparing.

By January (2015,)  it was decided Frank and I would leave for Israel in April, right after Easter.   Every time I remember it, a bit of excitement still rumbles up from my tummy and bursts out as a big, silly grin on my face.  I'm telling you, getting to go to Israel was one of the highlights of my life. (And yes, we do hope to return some day.)

So in late January, I got a message from a dear missionary friend in Spain.  "Sheri, would you consider coming to speak for our women's retreat in May?  We would also like for you to preach for our international church and do other Bible studies, etc. while here.  Could you do that?"

Could I do that?  Let's think about this:

  • I love to preach anywhere/anytime!
  • She had mentioned this possibility the year before.
  • I had immediately wanted to go.
  • SPAIN??!!!
Any other time it would have been a "No Brainer!" as my kids often say.  But the fact that this retreat followed so closely on the heels of our trip to Israel made it seem impossible.

I wrote back to Brandi explaining our dilemma and asked if the dates for her retreat were flexible. She responded right away that they could push it to the end of May but no later because of the camp facilities where it was held.

Frank (who's always up for an adventure) said, "Absolutely you should go.  What's to think about?" But still I wrestled with what would be the wise choice.  It's long been my philosophy in many matters, "Just because I can doesn't automatically mean I should!"

  • Just because I can squeeze into this dress, doesn't mean I should.
  • Just because I can hit that high note, doesn't mean I should.
  • Just because I can tell you off, doesn't mean I should.
Not a bad philosophy to adopt, right?

So fast forward to the end of February, 2015.  It's crunch time for deciding about Spain.  "Lord, I need a definite word of direction from You on this.  I just can't seem to decide.  Please, help me!" It was my constant prayer for about a week.

In the pre-dawn darkness of Sunday morning, I was doing a quick devotion.  A soft light shown on these words in my Bible, "I have been longing for many years to see you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain......Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem.....so after I have completed this....I will go to Spain."  (Romans 15:23-28)

I was speechless!

I walked into the bedroom as Frank was putting on his coat to leave.  "Honey, look what I just read." I handed over my Bible, still in shock.

He read it then looked up with his characteristic grin, "Told you you should go.  Can't get much clearer than that, Sheri."

So that very day we set the wheels in motion.  Other miracles took place along the way making it even more apparent that this was God's plan all along.  

It just so happens that this morning I am again wrestling with a decision about opportunities in front of me.  "What is the wise choice, Lord?  Direct me, please."  And it just so happened that my scheduled reading was again Romans 15.  Then it just so happened that I opened Facebook to find this picture from our miracle trip to Spain.  Wow!  

In case you aren't sure, let me remind you of something,  The Heavenly Father loves YOU just as much as He loves me and He WILL direct you, too if you ask.  Watch for it.  It will be different with each of us.  But His promise is this - when we call, He will answer!  

Clear Direction is available for us all.  Just ask.....

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Ava Quinn

Our own little Ava Quinn has arrived!!  Mother and baby are healthy and happy, Thank the Lord!

Joy was convinced she would be the smallest of all their children because she's gained so little weight with Ava.  Nope!  At 21.5 inches long and 9 pounds 5 ounces, she surpassed them all.

She looks just like the others.  Still no features like our side of the family - none.  But the rich dark hair and almond shaped eyes won our hearts immediately whether they looked like us or not.

Her name means, "Life of Wisdom."  Isn't that a wonderful thing to call a child every single day? "Come here, 'Life of Wisdom.'  It's time to clean your room."

Of course, her name also connects her to Abby (both starting with A) who feels Ava is her own personal baby doll.  Abby has been over-the-moon excited about having a baby sister ever since we found out Ava was a girl.  We captured a precious video of Abby quietly singing "Jesus Loves Me" to Ava when they first met at the hospital.

Spencer fills the role of Biggest Brother so well.  He held her like a pro and kept giving us reports on her special coos and grunts.  Even Zach reached out timidly to put his hand on Ava's dark hair. He mostly wanted to sit snuggled close to Mommie while she held Baby Ava.

John and Joy now have four children.  A big family by today's national average of 1.75 children per household. But it's been Joy's declaration since she was a little girl.  "I'll have two children or four. But I will NOT have three." (Guess being the middle child had a real impact on her.)  And yes, it's boy, girl, boy, girl.  Spencer - 6; Abby - almost 5; Zach - almost 2; Ava - three days.

Joy really is the hero of the day in the thinking of all who know her.  Even with contractions that had her doubling over the last couple of weeks before delivery, she kept rolling along.  There were lunches to pack, youth activities to attend, Mother's Day to celebrate.  She even managed to keep the house together while Frank and Nathan helped John paint most of their downstairs this month.

Of course with her knack for all that wise mothering, she also knew how to unhook and completely focus on Ava once she arrived.  All four births have been by caesarean section which means: newborn baby, return to nursing, mothering three others AND recovering from major surgery.  Yep, we call her Wonder Woman!

Sadly, John came down with strep throat and had to leave the hospital.  But when you have a family this big all around you who knows how to juggle - you manage.  Every wife would prefer her husband be there to care for her after the birth of a baby and Joy is no different.  But I must admit, being with her those two days at the hospital became a treasured memory I'll long hold dear.

Everyone had an assigned task to complete.  Kristin and Cody spent the nights and deposited the oldest at school then headed off to their jobs.  Meagan took the day shift wrangling her own two along with Zach, Abby, then Spencer.  Papa kept Joy supplied with new snacks each evening.  Uncle Nathan even took Noah and Madi home the night Meagan had to stay at the hospital with Joy. Whew!

It's been a crazy ride this week but then, that's our life.  We don't live every day as though we're all wise.  But with Ava Quinn around to remind us, I'll bet there will be more wise days than foolish.

 


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Gold, Real Gold

Mom and I were watching a western movie on TV one rainy, Saturday afternoon when I was just a teenager.  Halfway through, the hero of the movie was being encouraged to abandon the mine where he and others had been working.  "It's hopeless," said the villain.  "Give it up!  You'll never find anything anyway."

At that very moment an old man, weathered and leathery-looking, came hobbling out of the saloon. He had heard the conversation and knew it looked hopeless but he also knew that with hard work, success was possible.  (Apparently, the villain just wanted the mine for himself.)  The old fella declared boldly in a pinched, uneducated voice, "Thar's gold in them thar hills!!"  His statement (so funny sounding) immediately became a by-line for Mom and me.

If I faced something that required more work than I originally thought but the reward would be great, Mom would look at me, wink one eye and in her best imitation of the old miner she'd say, "Thar's gold in them thar hills, Sheri!"  (In other words, keep working.  Don't give up now!)

If I found Mom quietly crying because of some disappointment, I would slide up beside her, give her my best daughter hug and whisper, "Thar's gold in them thar hills, Mama."  She would start chuckling even if the tears weren't quite finished.  "Well I sure hope I find some soon," she often answered.

I hadn't thought of our little inside joke for a long time, until this morning when I struck gold.  I'll have to back up a bit to explain.

We purchased our current home eleven years ago.  We had just become pastors in FL after serving as evangelists for six years.  During the evangelist years, we lived in a forty-foot RV.  I can assure you that living as a family in 400 square feet helps you know what household items are important and which ones you can live without.

Moving from the RV back to a full-sized home left me with quite a few vacant spots.  We needed everything from beds and bedding, to living room furniture, lamps, decorations, even a shower curtain.  Needless to say, I was constantly on the look out for inexpensive ways to fill our household.

The young man we bought our house from was a bachelor engaged to be married.  The house had been, for him, simply an investment so his furnishings were rather sparse as well.  At the walk through, I noticed a lovely set of dishes he had just sitting against one wall.

"Those are beautiful," I commented.

"One of the ladies in my church gave them to me," he said.  "We won't use them.  Would you like them?"

Although dishes weren't actually on my list, I really liked the look of them and answered, "Sure!"  It was a complete service for eight and FREE.  If I didn't use them, one of the girls probably would. The dishes promptly went into storage in the garage.

Fast forward to my season of purging and reorganizing - that would be now.  The dishes I've been using for everyday ware are lovely but after five years of constant service they were showing their age.  I decided to sell them in the yard sale we had and start looking around for a replacement set.

That's when I remembered the dishes in storage.

They would do just fine as my temporary set.  Only problem, our family has grown to 13 and we would need more dishes.  I went online to search out where to pick up a few more pieces.  That's when the discovery was made.

The simple blue and white plates, cups, saucers and such that had been sitting in dark storage bins for eleven years are actually a fine grade of willow ware made in Stafforshire, England.  It's known as the Winston Churchill collection.

The meat platter alone cost over $300!  I was in total shock.  I had no idea such exquisite and expensive beauty had been hidden away in my garage, serving no one all these years.

This morning as I carefully unpacked, washed and shelved the Winston Churchill collection,  my mind whirled with so many unanswered thoughts:

  • Who was the original owner?
  • Was it a set slowly collected or perhaps wedding dishes for some young bride?
  • Were they often used or seldom?
  • Was there laughter around their table, too?
  • Why did the lady give them to the bachelor?
  • Was no one in her family interested in them?
  • Did no one appreciate their value?
As always, the Lord used my ponderings to whisper a truth to my heart.  "Sheri, there are pockets of gold hidden all around you.  You must have eyes to see it and a willingness to work at mining the gold.  Appreciate what I've placed in your hands."

For me, that translates to:
  • Watch for the people around you who are pure gold.  They may be quiet and you may have to mine their gifts.  But appreciate them; see them!
  • Watch for the moments of gold.  A pat on the face from tiny jam hands.  A tender kiss good-bye.  A hug from a true friend.  A casual, "Love you, Mom!"
  • Watch for the golden life lessons.  Hardships that made you stronger.  Lonely times that push you toward friends.  Answered prayers that remind you of God's faithfulness.  
All this from a revived set of dishes.  

I wish Mom were here this Mother's Day to marvel with me over this amazing story.  I wish she and I could share some coffee using the finely crafted cups.  I wish I could eat one of her wonderful meals served on the rich blue and white pattern.  That can't happen.  

But I can imagine the twinkle in her eye and the wink as she would surely look sideways at me and say,  "Never stop looking, Sheri.  Thar's gold in them thar hills!"

Here's praying you'll find the gold waiting to be discovered in your own life!










Followers