My Friend Could Use Your Help

My friend, Liz, is battling cancer and a sweet friend of ours, Rose, made a beautiful quilt to raise funds to help with expenses.

Rose’s beautiful creation.

Would you kindly consider participating by contributing a suggested $25?  You could be the recipient of “Hopes Garden,” the lovely quilt pictured here!  Here is Rose’s explanation of why she had this idea.  Keep reading; there is a link to her facebook page below where you can contribute if you desire.

“Liz knows how to find joy in difficult circumstances. She is in a battle for her life against an aggressive, malignant, cancer. But she isn’t fighting alone. I am amazed by the outpouring of support she and her husband Frank have received. The tolI cancer has taken on this family is great, and they are facing it with courage. Liz’s attitude encourages me to keep my focus on Christ.

Their trial is expensive; however, I believe God wants to provide for them by using you and me.  A quilt is a patchwork of many small pieces of fabric sewn together to make one beautiful, useful creation. We can join as a patchwork of friends and supporters to make a beautiful statement of God’s love and care for his own .As I worked on the quilt Hope’s Garden, God  put the idea in my mind to give the quilt away to help Liz and her family.

Many of you are already part of this patchwork through your spontaneous gifts that have blessed them so much. Here is another opportunity with a quilt attached. If you would like to make a donation to help them, please do so below.

With every pledge of  $25, you will  have a chance to own the pictured quilt, Hope’s Garden.

Please give as God leads and pray with me that He will use this project to His glory.

A list of supporters will be provided to the Ecelbarger family.”

Please click here to make your donation — maybe you will be the one to win Hopes Garden!  If you would be so kind to link this post to your Facebook by clicking the icon below, just think how many people might want to participate!

Even if you are unable to contribute, your prayers are much appreciated.  Liz needs a miracle.  He is able.

Warmly,

Sheree

My Friend Liz…and French Braids

I’m over at Redeemer Church today talking about my friend, Liz…and why french braids are important to me.  Please come and visit.  And also, pray for Liz.

You can access my post by clicking here.

Warmly,

Sheree

P.S.  Thanks for your visits and encouragement.  I read every comment and appreciate each reader.  Blessings!

Three Signatures

I’m old enough to have friends I’ve known for 3 decades or longer. I want to introduce you to a few of them today. The point isn’t just to honor them, but to also draw attention to specific godly qualities that have forever changed me…and to remind you of friends of yours like them (more on that at the end).

I’ve known Cyndy (pictured here with her husband, John) for over 30 years. The thing I most appreciate about her is that even during seasons when my sin or discouragement is on full display she is quick to draw attention to evidences of God’s grace in my life. Cyndy loves and studies truth, and has a robust understanding of biblical principles. During one of the most challenging times in my life she was there to gently but firmly draw my attention to how God was at work in my broken life. Cyndy understands grace and has taught me how to find it when times are tough. I never feel that my weaknesses or sins are disappointing or offensive to her. Rather, she is quick to both empathize with and gently  challenge me to repent. Yet she doesn’t stop there. She brings soothing, hope-giving encouragement to my weary soul.  God is always bigger to me after I interact with her.

From our first encounter on a Sunday morning nearly 20 years ago, I was met with Lisa’s warm and caring heart. She (on the right her with Lou, her husband) has shown me how to incarnate Christ, especially to the hurting. Whether it’s a thoughtful call; an unexpected pot of soup when I was sick; caring and specific questions; empathetic tears or heartfelt joy, depending on the need of the moment…Lisa is gifted by God with a heart to both declare and demonstrate His love. In fact, this past Monday she flew 800 miles to spend the week caring for our sick friend by cooking, cleaning, laughing, praying and going to doctor’s appointments. God is always more loving to me after I interact with her.

Liz (here with her husband, Frank) and I have been friends since my now 33-year-old son was a baby. She is currently in the trial of her life, facing cancer and needing a miracle. Yet because “pressure introduces a person to him/herself” God is using this time to expose years of faithful pursuit of Him in her life. We were chatting last week and she started sharing some thoughts from the Bible study she is currently using…and it’s the same publisher she has used for decades! Every Christmas since we met she has prayerfully considered what to “give Jesus for His birthday” and has enjoyed a sweet relationship with her Savior. Even during times of dryness, she has continued to pursue Him faithfully, asking for a restoration of her “first love.” God is always more desirable after I interact with her.

Cyndy, Lisa, Liz and I have had some rough times in our friendships. I haven’t always been a good friend to them. But all relationships are tough at times.  I’m glad they persevered with me.

A few years back I had a dream that my body was covered with handwritten signatures. The Lord used this to deepen my affection and appreciation for the people He has used to provoke, admonish, encourage, comfort and love me. But mostly, they’ve been used to show me Christ. Each signature meant He had brought individual people to me for my good (even the hard relationships….more on that next week).

You have those people in your life, too.  I pray that meeting my friends reminds you of yours. Would you want to thank them for leaving their signatures on your life?

Thank you Cyndy, Lisa and Liz. God is bigger, more loving and more desirable to me because of you.

P.S.  Can you join our prayer vigil for Liz this weekend?  You can get information here.

Praying for our First Miracle

Yesterday was a mixture of joy and sorrow for Redeemer Church.  Have we changed our name to Ultimate Power? No. That’s just the name of our new location. Who would have ever thought of checking at marital arts studios to see about renting space for a church? We’re glad someone did. It’s a great situation for us, and gives us room to grow. We’re grateful.

Watching everyone enjoying food before the meeting; setting up chairs, sound equipment and children’s ministry items which were all donated to us; and seeing a large, open space turn into a place for our meeting was humbling and fun. Yet looming in my mind was my expected arrival of my dear friends, Frank and Liz. You see, they found out on Friday that Liz’s cancer has returned with force.

I kept looking toward the door.  Frank and their son, Nathan, arrived looking tired.  My heart went out to them. When did little Nathan get so tall? How much sleep had Frank gotten the night before? Where was Liz?

Frank pulled Benny and me aside and said  that Liz was unable to make it, but that he had something he wanted to share with the church.  They were both eager for the church to hear some things on their hearts.  Since Liz started anticipating the the possible return of her cancer, her thoughts have been consistently focused on others. So it was no surprise that this godly couple is thinking about their new little church on the first Sunday morning after such hard news.

When Frank stood before us during worship, he opened his Bible to Philippians 1 and read these words:

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two.”

With tears welling and his voice cracking, Frank shared that Liz’s most recent thoughts of regret surrounded her sadness that she may not be able to be here to be a part of Redeemer Church. In our short history we have had our first baby born and our first engagement. He and Liz have wondered if hers will be either our first funeral…or our first miracle?

He further communicated his and Liz’s desire to see her illness used to advance the gospel. Looking further up into Philippians 1 he read:

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”

With some typical-Frank attempts at humor to keep the sobs from hindering him, he exhorted us to preach the gospel. Liz wants to do that. He wants to do that. God has sent us on a church plant and we need to do that, too. As I sat there listening to our friend of three decades who has been through “many dangers, toil and snares” — and who just learned that his wife and best friend needs a miracle to live — I realized I was on holy ground. Like our Savior when facing His own death, others are on their hearts.

We gathered around Frank and Nathan for our first opportunity as a church family to pray together.

Will you join us in praying that our first miracle is about to happen?