Sunday, October 27th, deep gray, almost black sky, rain pelting against the windows, and me wishing I could stay snug under the cozy blankets until the storm passed. In the distance, church bells were ringing, beckoning me, reminding me of the time, as I slowly pushed back the covers, yawning, making my way to the coffee pot. As I got ready for church, I thought about how nice it would be to linger over my coffee. But then I felt a little nudge tugging at my heart. And as the wind blew through the trees, I knew that I needed to go to church.
As we drove to church, the rain kept doing what it does best, making puddles that seem to be growing with every block. I thought to myself, I could be sitting with my feet up, finishing my book. But then, there it was again; the nudge. My husband parked the car in front of the church but on the opposite side of the street. As I got out of the car, put up my umbrella, I noticed the most significant, widest puddle, growing more extensive right where I needed to walk. I looked at Rick and thought, really?
Once again, the nudge, pushing, then leading me across the street, up the three steps, opening the door, walking through the door, putting down my umbrella, opening the entrance to the Sanctuary, hanging up my dripping raincoat, walking down the aisle with the red rug, then sliding into the pew. As I sat there, I glanced back at our beautiful stained glass windows. They looked different on this gray day. Once more, the nudge.
Then, the Youth Group walked from the Gallery into the Sanctuary and stood in a line behind the last row of dark brown pews, waiting. As they stood there, a video started on the screen in front of the organ. As I watched, my husband and I began to laugh. Picture this; a hillbilly band playing the music to I Walk the Line, on scrub boards, old guitars, and heaven knows what else. What a way to get our attention!
This wonderful group of teens did the whole service. From the greeting, the singing, the prayers, the Children’s Message, to the Morning Message and Blessing.
They did a great job with each part of the service. Then it was time for the Morning Message. It was titled: A God Moment. Their message to each of us was how God touched their hearts at a particular moment.
This past summer, many of the teens participated in a Misson Trip to West Virginia. There, they helped to build two ramps for families needing them. I was touched by how God, in His wisdom and His perfect timing, not only affected the hearts of several teens but taught them a lesson of gratitude. In their voices, I heard a deep appreciation for the opportunity to lend a hand to those in need.
Then, two sisters shared their experience with their guests, visitors from Germany. I was impressed by how the girls took turns explaining their experience with the German teens sharing their home. They, along with their brother, were excited to welcome their new friends. The only obstacle standing in their way was the language. The girls did not speak German, and the German teens spoke little English. The girls continued saying, it took a late-night trip to the grocery store, some funny incidents, giggles, and a cashier to bring it all together. As the gal behind the register scanned the purchases, she asked if they were related, one of the sisters, explained the story of the German teens. The teens left the story learning that they had more in common than they realized. From that moment on, they began enjoying each other’s company and quickly became friends.
As the service continued, these precious teens led us in prayer, songs, and the blessing at the end. It was a beautiful service.
Our Youth Group is lead by a wonderful, loving woman named Marge Baltz. I glanced at Marge throughout the service and saw her smile as they went through each part of the service. As the teens spoke about their mission trip, it was evident that their leader was very proud of them.
We at St. John’s our blessed to have Marge leading our youth.
And now for my God Moment. As I listened to the teens, read the scripture, lead us in song, watched the children come forward to learn, and listened to the morning message of helping others. Along with becoming friends with our German guests, reciting the Lord’s prayer, and the blessing closing our service, I realized that God used these teens in a variety of ways to make a meaningful difference. A difference, the West Virginia families will never forget. Our German guests, especially the teens, will remember, at first awkward feelings, leading to lasting memories of new adventures and fun. Of course, last but not least, all the giggles along the way.
Through Marge and her parent helpers, these teens have learned a valuable lesson that helping others is what fills us with the love of God. It is what we are supposed to be doing. A lesson well learned by our youth.
It may have been gray when I entered the church; however, the teens became rays of sunshine, reminding me of God’s love for all.
Thank you, Marge, and the Youth Group for filling my heart with hope.
Did you ever have a day when everything seemed to go wrong? A day you didn’t know which way to turn?
Then as the day wore on, something good happened. Maybe it was just something small that warmed your heart. Maybe someone smiled or said an encouraging word. Perhaps that little something that warmed your heart, the smile, or the hopeful word was the beginning of turning your day around.
I have always believed the people we meet on our daily paths, were put there for a reason. Think how warm your heart feels when things start to turn around, no matter how small the turn is. Wouldn’t it be nice to think of that warm feeling as a sprinkle from God? I can almost imagine the angels standing on the clouds with their little shakers filled with God’s love ready for the word to start sprinkling. Close your eyes and picture the little sprinkles like the sprinkles on a Christmas cookie, gently floating down, touching your heart with sweetness and love.
We all have days when things do not always go the way we would like them too. Sometimes our days are filled with grayness, anxiety, fear, illnesses, the passing of a loved one, our insecurities, hurtful words, and our imperfections. Those days, when we struggle to make sense of what is happening, look for a sprinkle of sweetness from God. His sweet love will carry you through until another sprinkle touches your heart.
I think that sprinkles not only come from those on our path but through music. Think about a time when a song played while you were driving, and it was exactly what you needed to hear. I also believe that God sends birds, butterflies, beautifully painted rainbows, and the breeze that floats through the trees, to sprinkle love to each one of us.
A sprinkle here, a sprinkle there can begin to heal hearts. And when our hearts heal, our attitudes can change, leading to peace. A sprinkle here, a sprinkle there, can make a difference in a life. Perhaps you will be on someone’s path who needs a kind word, a smile, or a hug. What will you do?
I have always been intrigued by stain glass. Notably, the story each pane of glass told. I am sure the men and women who carefully place each piece of glass in its proper place are touched by each window they complete. Especially those that work on stained- glass for church windows. The windows that welcome each man, woman, and child into a place of love and acceptance. This is where my story begins. A story that changes each week, from the time I walk through the front door.
My story began nineteen years ago when I was looking to move into the quaint, small, charming town of Nazareth. After visiting a few churches, I walked through the doors of St. John’s UCC. As I walked down the center aisle, looking for a pew, I was taken back by the sun streaming through the large stained-glass window behind me. The colorful, vibrant colors washing over the walls made me feel like I was part of a beautiful rainbow. However, that was just the beginning. As I smiled at those who welcomed me and shook hands, something beautiful caught my eye. It was the stained-glass window behind the altar, above the golden cross and just beneath the tall white ceiling.
Each piece of stained glass was arranged to depict Jesus teaching the Beatitudes. His image was so beautifully created and touched my heart. I found myself staring into his eyes, those loving eyes. The mesmerizing faces of the listeners hanging on to each word of his lesson were captured so perfectly. I found myself looking up as if to heaven throughout the service.
Then one Sunday, sitting in my pew with my eyes on Jesus, and sensing the sun streaming through the beautiful stained-glass window near the backside of the church, I felt a peaceful feeling that started in my heart and radiated to every inch of my being. It was a calmness I’ve never felt before. I felt safe and loved as if the whole church was filled with angels.
That beautiful scene still touches my heart each Sunday as I lift my heart in prayer, listen to the message, and enjoy the soul touching music. It has brought me peace when loved ones passed and reassured me that he waits for each one of us with open arms. Each week, as my walk with him, gets stronger, that window keeps reminding me that I am his and he is mine.
When I think back to the folks who created the window, I wonder what they felt as they put each piece together. When it was finished, did the image that touched my heart, touch their hearts? Did it make a difference in their lives? Did it fill them with peace? Most importantly, did they feel loved?
The next time you see a beautiful stained-glass window, take a good look at it. Look at the beauty of each piece and let it speak to your heart. If just might make a difference.
It was a beautiful Thursday. The air was fresh, but the sun was nice and warm. Thursday is one of my favorite days of the week! It’s the day I get to host, The Turn the Page Book Club. We meet at Moravian Hall Square at one o’clock in the afternoon. It is a beautiful facility filled with warmth and beauty. The ladies that attend are sweet, loving, kind, and love to read. Time flies when we start discussing the story. Of course, we get off-topic from time to time, but isn’t that what makes it interesting? Soon the clock reminds us it’s time to leave, and I must say I feel a little tinge of sadness when we head our separate ways.
WHAT’S THAT THING CALLED?
As I walked home from the book club, I heard the machine that vacuums up the leaves. What is that thing called? I watched it for a few moments and thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone invented a machine that would take all our cares away? Hmm?
The wheels started to turn and occupied my mind for at least another half a block. What would it look like? Would it have lights flashing? What color would it be? Maybe it could be designed to not only calm us but have different size buttons to create a whole new person. Perhaps it could make me a little taller? Oh boy, I would be the first one in line for that! Or, maybe it could change someone’s personality? We all know someone who could use that. It could perhaps clone us to look like a movie star. Maybe I could look like Sandra Bullock?
It is amazing how our imagination can take over. I found myself chuckling as I continued my journey home.
This story has two parts. One about friendship, sharing, and caring. A story that brings a small group of women together to share a common love; reading, discussing, and laughing. Women filled with a desire to learn new things about a character, others, and themselves. The hearts of these women speak volumes of their authentic characters. I am so happy to know them and call them my friends.
The second part of this story is about an idea that went rogue. It is funny how our imagination often takes us on a journey that tickles our funny bone and makes absolutely no sense. Or maybe it does. Maybe our soul needs a little less stress and a little more laughing. Maybe we need to lighten up. And perhaps we need to enjoy our lives, silliness and all.
Life is way too short to be worried about what people might or might not think of you. Life is meant to be lived. Read the book, enjoy your friends, laugh often, love what you do, sing every day, dance, embrace your imperfections, and take care of yourself, but don’t be afraid to eat cake and ice cream from time to time. Above all about love, the person you are. Because you are important and beautiful in your own way. Be strong, brave, and courageous. Hang on to your beliefs and be the best you can. Remember, none of us are perfect. Love is always the answer. And I love you!
It rained again today. It was also damp. Damp to the point that it chilled me to the bone. I must admit, I didn’t do much except the normal everyday things. However, I did write, and I did pray.
As the day went on, I thought about senior citizens who are alone and wondered if a visitor visiting on rainy, damp days would help them pass the time. I thought about those who suffered from depression and wondered if a friendly voice would help them smile. I thought about those who were mourning the passing of a loved one, and wondered if they needed someone to put their arms around them, hugging the pain away. I said a little prayer for those struggling and hoped for a better day for each one of them.
Then something beautiful happened. It took me by surprise. It caught my eye, gleaming outside my patio door. Right in front of me, looking so colorful and bright, was the most beautiful rainbow I had ever seen. A double rainbow that made two appearances. One as brilliant as the other. The sky around it seemed to be changing from grays to shades of blues, back to dark gray, a little green, and pinks galore.
God knows exactly what we need, and when we need it. This might sound a little silly, but I believe that some of my prayers were answered today.
A rainbow is a message from above. A beautiful message filled with love from Someone who created everything our eyes see and, our heart feels. Sometimes, when things get a little harsh, He nods His head and sets things in motion as a reminder that He is always with us. That vibrant rainbow was precisely what I needed on this Autumn evening. Its brilliant colors filled my soul with hope for a better tomorrow.
I must admit that tonight’s story has been stirring for a while. Although it continues to nudge me, I have no idea why and how I am to write it. So, bear with me as I try to figure out the path this story will take.
In my journey over the years, I have met several men, women, and children who feel that they were not worthy of being loved. For some unknown reason, they feel as if they cannot live up to anyone’s expectations, no matter how hard they try. Sometimes they even give up. Now I do not know how this feeling generated in their hearts; however, I want them to understand that they are important and are not alone.
Sometimes, some think their imperfections contribute to their feeling of unworthiness. On the contrary, our imperfections help to create our uniqueness as individuals. It helps us be who we were created to be.
When we help others, we are helping ourselves. When we touch someone’s heart with a kind deed, visiting, or just brightening their day, love scatters and lands on two hearts. You deserve love and are worthy of being loved just because of your beautiful self. I like to think you will find your worthiness on the path of life when you believe in yourself and take a chance.
My interpretation of a whisper…
Did you ever take a walk on a breezy day when the wind whispered through the trees? The sound of the wind, whirling up, down and around the branches, reminds me of a host of angels assuring, encouraging whispering words of faith, hope, grace, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, strength, and love.
I remember one day a while ago, as I was walking down a country road, I found myself surrounded by two wheat fields on either side of the way. As I think back, the sound of the wheat being pushed from side to side reminded me of a thousand angels whispering, sharing, or praying. I remember the sound was soothing to my soul.
I believe that God created whispers to remind us that He is always in control. I think He sends His Messengers to show us how much we are loved and always will be. I believe that He wants us to trust in Him and to never give up hope.
Remember, to love yourself, and believe that you are worthy. Because you are. Listen to the whispers on a windy day, whether it is the wheat swaying or branches dancing. I think the sound of the wind will stir up a little something in your soul.
You are important to me, and I love you.
I love writing Skyler’s Letters. What started out as a comfort to me now has evolved into bringing peace and comfort to many who have suffered the loss of a child, regardless of their age. The Harvest Message was originally written and published in October 2017.
Skyler was born on July 1, 2016. It was a warm summer’s day with a deep blue sky and not a cloud in sight. The birds were singing as if they knew something wonderful was about to happen. That something wonderful was Skyler. He was a beautiful little boy who touched our hearts the moment our eyes met his. Little did we know that our little fellow would leave us twenty-nine days later. Little did we know just how much we would grow to love a precious little baby who warmed our hearts and filled us with happiness beyond words. Little did we know that our sweet Skyler would leave us twenty-nine days later. Little did we know how much we would miss his smile, his coo, and his deep blue eyes. Skyler died on July 29, 2016. Our hearts will never be the same.
This is the twentieth letter in the Skyler series. I hope that my words will bring peace, hope, and love to all who read them.
THE HARVEST LETTER
It is has been fifteen months since you took your journey to heaven, and my dear, I miss you more with each passing day. Skyler, how are you? I am doing well and enjoying our beautiful Autumn weather. Autumn, the time of year when the weather turns a little cooler, and the leaves turn pretty shades of red, orange, and yellow. As the leaves fall, they cover everything. I love to walk through the leaves and breathe the fresh, crisp air.
The farmers are busy this time of year. They are harvesting all the crops they planted in the spring. Harvest means to gather everything that was planted. Skyler, another name for Autumn, is fall. October is a big month for orange pumpkins, cornstalks, scarecrows, and beautiful flowers called mums. It is also a time when children get dressed up in cute costumes and go Trick or Treating for candy. You would love that! Last year your brother was dressed as a turtle. I think you would look sweet dressed like a little puppy.
Have you been to the Loving Bridge lately? Tell me about the animals you meet. Do all the birds come to heaven? I love cardinals. They are my favorite. Have you been to the Story Hill lately? Well, my dear, always, remember how much I love you. Sending hugs and kisses your way.
I am doing well in heaven. Each day I go to the Loving Bridge and bring new animals to heaven. Sometimes I go back and forth many times a day. Yesterday, I brought a black and white cat and a little puppy named Skippy over the Bridge. It is amazing how loving Skippy was to his new friend, Ella. Gigi, I need to ask you a question. Why do some people treat their pets like they don’t matter? They do matter! Every breathing animal, bird, or sea life matters. Jesus loves them all, and so do I.
Yesterday afternoon, I brought a horse named Sammy over. He was a beautiful black horse. His owner on earth was not nice to him. As soon as he crossed and put his hoof on the green grass, he was happy. Sammy changed right in front of my eyes. He was healed. He could run again, and he was not afraid of anything. Sammy knew he would always be safe. He knew he was loved.
Gigi, Jesus cries when people and animals are being abused on earth. I do not understand why people are mean. People are meant to be loved, and so is every living thing on earth. Gigi, there are many, many birds in heaven. Every bird that God created crosses the Loving Bridge when they die.
Two days ago, Gabriel blew his horn, and we all went to the Story Hill to hear a lesson from Jesus. Do you remember when I told you that Jesus wanted us to experience everything that you experience on earth? Well, as my angel and I were walking, I noticed that the heavenly trees that always had green leaves looked different. Each tree turned red, orange, and yellow. Just like the trees on earth. It was neat.
Jesus was waiting for us at the Story Hill. There were orange pumpkins everywhere! After we all sat down, Jesus raised his hand to quiet us down. The air got a little cooler, just like on earth. It felt like fall.
Jesus told us a story about love, helping others, and being kind. He told us that we are all created in his Father’s image. Gigi, God, is pure love. Just like Jesus. He told us that when we meet new people, we need to accept them no matter what. He reminded us to always forgive those who hurt us and help others. Did you know when we do those things we are really doing his work? Jesus told us that we should all be his hands and feet. He loves us so much. Jesus taught us to treat others the way we want to be treated. It makes Him happy when we show kindness, respect, and love to all. Will you tell everyone, Gigi? Also, when you do something wrong, just tell him you are sorry and really mean it. He will forgive you. That is how Jesus works. And please tell everyone to take care of their pets and all animals. They just want to be loved.
I sit on my favorite cloud every day and look down at the earth. I see the farmers working hard in their fields, bringing in all their crops. Earth is beautiful from heaven!
I waved to you, Gigi. Were you looking? I love you very much. Please tell my Pop-pop that I miss him. Tell him not to work so hard. I was with you and Preston when you ate Chinese food. I heard my brother laughing. I saw how much you love him. I am around Mommy when she is taking care of my new brother Carson. Please tell them to look up and wave, and I will wave back. I love my earthly family, but I am happy in heaven.
Gabriel just blew his horn again! I can’t wait to hear a new story! Love you, Gigi!