Sunday, April 30, 2006

An open letter to the man who raped me

I guess I could call this the end (at least for now) on my series of blogs about Radical Obedience. It's been about 3 weeks since I started the healing process of praying for the man who raped me as well as for the courage and strength to forgive him while crocheting an lap afghan for him. The process has brought back a lot of painful memories, but that's been a good thing because it uncovered a lot of festering issues that I thought had been resolved ages ago but that had in reality become only more deeply entrenched. Denial is a very dangerous disease!

My best friend was a surgical technician at one time, and she often talks about the dangers of staph infections that can occur any time the skin is broken. If that infection goes untreated, it can cause severe damage or even death to the affected tissues and may require additional surgery to clean out the original site of infection and the surrounding areas that were impacted.

It occured to me that we can also develop spiritual staph infections when we allow anger, resentment, bitterness and especially unforgiveness to go untreated. Often, these spirital infections spread to our emotions. If our emotions are infected, our thoughts, our actions, our words, our dreams, and even our physical bodies can also be infected. As with a bodily staph infection, we sometimes need to undergo the pain of spiritual surgery to clean out the wounded areas so that we can be healed. That's what this process has been like for me.

Now that it is finished, I feel a sense of peace that I haven't known for a long time. I feel free of the emotional baggage that I've carried for so many years. I feel an even greater resolve to be radically obedient to God, no matter how impossible the task may appear, because this experience has once again proven that through God, all things work together for good.

Below is the text of the letter that I wrote to Keith along with the afghan. I'm making arrangements for it to be sent to him through the prison ministry at Joyce Meyer Ministries. Not only am I praying for his salvation, but I ask that you pray for him as well.

May 2006

Dear Keith,

You may not remember me, but I remember you. In February 1979, you and Robert raped me in the back seat of a rental car. It’s been 27 years and I still can’t understand how you could have done what you did to me and all those other women, but I realize now that trying to understand why you did it is pointless. I’m not even sure if you could answer that question. Even now as you’re reading this, I wonder if you feel remorse for what you did to me, or whether you feel rage about what I did to you when I testified against you to make sure that you’d never be able to hurt another woman again.

The night you raped me changed my life forever, in ways I could never have imagined then. The only thing that has remained constant, whether I chose to accept it or not, was God’s amazing love for me. Recently, as I have developed a much stronger personal relationship with Christ, I understand that God has a purpose for each of our lives. I’ve learned that even in tragedy, there are opportunities for growth and for grace.

Recently, God has led me to form a knitting ministry to help heal hearts that are hurting. It’s not hard to knit things for women fighting breast cancer or for women who’ve lost their husband or their baby. But God told me that wasn’t enough. His love, grace and comfort extend beyond those innocent broken hearts and is also available to people like you. Just as I pray for others who are hurting, most of whom I don’t even know, God expects me to pray for those who have hurt me too. And that definitely includes you. Enclosed is an afghan that I made for you. In it are my prayers for you and for your soul. This afghan is also my way of letting you know that I have forgiven you. It doesn’t matter to me whether you want my forgiveness or not, the act of forgiveness is just as much for the forgiver as it is for the person being forgiven. Now that I have forgiven you, I am emotionally free to move on. I chose not to carry around the emotional baggage of my anger and bitterness towards you anymore.

I will never understand the depths of rage that you must have been living with to have done the things you did. I can’t imagine how awful the last 9,000+ days in a maximum security prison must have been for you, especially with the knowledge that you will spend the rest of your life there. But there is one thing that I do know, as miserable as your life may seem, it is nothing compared to the prospect of spending eternity in Hell.

If you haven’t done so already, I pray that you will open your mind and heart and accept Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. God loves you and is waiting to forgive you and to give you His unfaltering love. The Bible says that “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with you mouth that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

God is ready and waiting for you to come to Him in prayer. You can tell Him in your own words, or you can say a simple prayer like this one:

"Dear God, I know that my sin has separated me from you. Thank you that Jesus Christ died in my place. I ask Jesus to forgive my sin and to come into my life. Please begin to direct my life. Thank you for giving me eternal life. In Jesus’ name, Amen."

Receiving Christ means acknowledging your belief in Him, inviting Him to come into your life, turning away from your present way of living (repentance), and looking forward to experiencing life under God’s loving direction. God can change even the hardest of hearts and can bring you peace, even in your present circumstance. But more importantly, accepting Christ assures that you will spend eternity in Heaven with Him.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Vogue KnitSimple Mention!

Great news! It's just been confirmed that Soulful Knitting Ministries will be included in a piece on charitable knitting organizations in the Fall '06 issue of Vogue's KnitSimple magazine. I'll be sure to post when the magazine will be available so you can run out and purchase a copy!

Now that the word is getting out, as Bonnie Raitt sings, "Let's Give Them Something To Talk About"! I'd love to have pictures of lots and lots of pink scarves and yarn scraps to post so that when all those new visitors start showing up here, they'll be amazed at how God is using this ministry to touch the lives of so many and they'll want to get involved too.

This weekend I'm also going to start sending e-mails and letters to knitting ministries/groups to invite them to join us. If you are aware of any groups either on-line or in your area that we should contact, please either make the contact directly or send me the contact information and we can do it. God has big things for us to accomplish and the more hands that we can get going, the better! Have a blessed day!

Scrap Yarns from Around the World Needed!!!

Last night I took a wonderful knitting with wire and beads class at Unraveled, a local yarn shop. The class was great, the women were a treat, and I just love my new wire and bead bracelet! But the very best part of the evening was falling in love with a "scrap afghan" that was lying across a chair in the shop. It was made with bits of what looked like hundreds of different yarns. From cotton, to mohair, to eyelash, to chenille, to ribbon... in every color and color combination in the rainbow. I've never seen anything quite like it.

Although I was at the shop for a totally different purpose, I keep going back to the afghan. Suddenly I realized that they would be perfect for the retreat! First of all, they're absolutly gorgeous. No two are exactly alike because the yarns are all different and they are joined in a totally random manner. Ann from the shop said that she even throws the "not so pretty" yarns in there too, because you need those to make the beautiful ones shine. Looking at the afghan while she explained the process reminded me of what life among the body of Christ is like... So many different colors, textures, backgrounds... together they create an incredibly beautiful mosaic that is so much bigger than the sum of all the parts.

So, I've committed to knitting 8 for the retreat (enough for each of the 6 guests to use one while they're there and 2 extras). To really make this work, I want to incorporate as many different yarns as I possibly can, from around the world! So, please please please, don't toss out those scraps of yarn left over from your knitting projects. Pieces as small as one yard can be used. Gather up your scraps as you finish projects, go through your stash and get rid of yarn that you'll probably never use, by sending them to me at the following address:

Sydney Thomas
Soulful Knitting Ministries
c/o Grace Bay Publishing
PO Box 383
Sutherland VA 23885

Please include a little note to let me know where you're sending the yarn from. I think these afghans are going to be an amazing testimony to the power and the beauty of teamwork!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

God's timing is awesome!

Okay, so I have a guilty pleasure. I'm one of the millions of closet American Idol fans, and I just love Kellie Pickler! From the very first time I saw her on AI, which was her audition in Greensboro, I just thought she was an angel. I cried with her as she told of being abandoned by her mom at 2, her father being in and out of prison for most of her life, and being raised by her grandparents. When interviewed and asked what she does before each performance, she simply said, "Pray!".

The Lord put it on my heart to knit a prayer shawl for her at the beginning of the season as soon as I knew she was going to Hollywood. In fact, her's is the prayer shawl on the knitting ministry notecards (see blog below). Although I finished the shawl weeks ago, for one reason or another it never got mailed. Last Thursday I felt it was time to send it off. I looked all over the internet and couldn't find a mailing address to American Idol. After finding 15 Pickler's listed in the white pages, I ended up calling the Postmaster in the little town in NC where Kellie lives and asked if I could send Kellie's prayer shawl to Kellie c/o of the Postmaster. Thankfully she agreed.

If I'd had my way, that prayer shawl would have ended up in Los Angeles while Kellie was on her way back home. But because God knew best, that prayer shawl will be at home waiting for Kellie when she gets there. God's timing is always perfect!

The Vision Grows...

God continues to move in mighty ways. In the past week, God has continued to provide confirmation that He wants this ministry to build a sanctuary, a spiritual hospital of sorts, to help heal the hearts of women who have been victims of sexual assault. What we thought was to be a place where women could come to talk and knit for a few hours at a time when they felt the need, is turning into a retreat where women who have been victimized can come for a few weeks to a few months, however long it takes to rest, recuperate, find or reconnect with God, and allow Him to heal their hearts and souls.

This past weekend, God led us to the parcel we believe is where He wants the retreat to be built. It wasn't what we'd originally thought it would be - it's much bigger and more beautiful than I could have imagined. Although they don't begin to do it justice, here are a few pictures of the lake located on the property.

The original idea was for a ski-lodge type structure, but this place is not meant for a rustic vacation, it's a spiritual, emotional and physical sanctuary, so the structure has evolved into more of an open, peaceful, relaxing, spa-like environment. We're pooring through hundreds of floor plans, but here are a few pictures to give you an idea of where God appears to be leading us.

No, the following is not a picture of a swimming pool. Because our prayer is that guests who come to the center will receive Christ or re-dedicate their lives to Him, there will be a baptismal pool where anyone who wants to can be baptised by a local minister.

We know that God is moving heaven and earth on behalf of those who believe in Him, have faith in Him, and who earnestly seek to do His work. We are believing Him for the people, the favor and the resources to make this sanctuary a reality.

Please pray with us that in His time, and in His way, this sanctuary will come to be. If you, or anyone you know, is able to help in any way, please contact us. As you can imagine, there are going to be many needs as the center is nearing completion, and once it opens, but during the planning phases, we especially need to start connecting with people who are willing to volunteer their time and/or services to help in the following areas:
  • Soil Scientist (to ensure that the property percs and is suitable for the type of development we are planning)
  • Architect (to review/revise our proposed floor plan and to provide design services)
  • Soil Scientist
  • Surveyor
  • Real Estate Attorney
  • Non-Profit Tax Attorney
  • Sexual Assault Facility Directors or Designers (to provide input into the building design with an emphasis on features to ensure safety and security for guests)
  • Fundraisers/Grantwriters
If you or anyone you know can help in these areas, please direct them to this blog first, to see if they are interested. If so, please have them contact us directly. (See contact info near the bottom of the right sidebar).

Please keep this project in your prayers because we serve a big God with big dreams. If we each get involved with God's dreams, He will get involved with ours!

The Power of Radical Obedience (Part 3) - Forgiveness

I'm still working on the afghan for the man who raped me. Without a doubt, this is the most difficult thing I've ever been asked to do. Many thoughts are racing through my head... I've been thinking about that awful night. I've been thinking about what KT's life has been like for the past 10,000 days. I've been thinking about how he'll feel when he receives the afghan and my letter. I wonder if he's already accepted Christ in his life or if he'll even consider it. I wonder if he'll feel remorse or anger to hear from me after all these years. I wonder if he's accepted responsibility for what he did to my life or whether he still blames me for what I did to his.

But there's one theme that keeps running through my mind in connection with this situation as well as some other issues I've been dealing with, and that's the concept of forgiveness. I'm continually praying that God will give me a heart of sincere forgiveness for this man, and for others who have hurt me. I've really had to pray about this and I've come to realize that it wasn't that I didn't want to forgive, it's that I really wasn't sure what true forgiveness would need to look like. defines the verb forgive as "to renounce anger or resentment against." During my research, I found an article on the top 10 steps to forgiveness. While the article expressly states that some of the steps may not be relevant or appropriate in certain situations (such as random acts of violence or child molestation), I still found the article very helpful. The author, Diana Robinson, PhD, writes that

"For many people forgiveness is one of the hardest steps of all in our progress toward freedom of spirit. Yet it is essential. For as long as we are unable to forgive, we keep ourselves chained to the unforgiven. We give them rent-free space in our minds, emotional shackles on our hearts, and the right to torment us in the small hours of the night."

Well, she's right. I've been emotionally shackled for my entire adult life, in ways that I'm only now beginning to see clearly, and I'm so ready to move on. I believe that God has wonderful things in store for my life, but in order to move on, it's important to take this final step in putting my past behind me. As part of that process, God has revealed some things to me about the nature of forgiveness that finally make it possible for me to forgive those who have hurt me so deeply.

Before I could begin to forgive, I had to understand what forgiveness was NOT. In a great article entitled How to Forgive: 10 Guidlines, Minister Victor Parachin references work by Robert Enright, a PhD and education psychologist who describes 4 things that true forgiveness is NOT:
  • Forgetting. Particularly in the case of random or extreme violence, this may simply not be possible.
  • Excusing or condoning. Wrong is wrong. Period. It should not be accepted, denied, minimalized or justified.
  • Reconciling (this one was HUGE for me). It's possible to forgive someone who has hurt you without rekindling a relationship with them. Sometimes reconciliation is not possible or advisable.
  • Weakness. Forgiveness does not make you weak or powerless. In fact, the opposite is true. It gives you strength. As Minister Parachin notes, "Ultimately, forgiveness is a gift you give you yourself. Bitterness and anger imprison you emotionally. Forgiveness sets you free."
There are a few other things I've realized about forgiveness:
  • It doesn't matter whether or not the person you're forgiving has asked for forgiveness, or even thinks that he/she needs forgiving. The act of forgiving if more about you than about them anyway. It's about making the life-altering shift from "victim" to "survivor".
  • Understanding "why" is not essential to forgiveness. I know that I will never understand how human beings can hurt each other as much as we do, and I'm not even sure that KT knows why he did what he did to me. At this point, "why" is a useless question that will tie me up in knots for the rest of my life if I let it.
  • Forgiveness doesn't necessarily involved publically acknowledging your forgiveness to the person you are forgiving. If you were hurt by a stranger, you may not even know who they are or how to contact them. They may not know that you have forgiven them, but God knows. And that's the most important thing. By all means, if it's possible and appropriate, let the person know you have forgiven them, but don't use the inability to tell them you have forgiven them as an excuse for not doing so.
So why forgive? As I've briefly mentioned, there are a lot of psychological (and related physical) reasons for forgiveness. I can search for and find answers to that question that are lengthy and complex. Or I can choose to forgive for one very simple reason, because God requires it of me.
  • If I forgive people their trespasses, my heavenly Father will also forgive me. (Matthew 6:14)
  • And whenever I stand praying, if I have anything against anyone, I forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go) in order that my Father Who is in heaven may also forgive my my failings and shortcomings and let them drop. But if I do not forgive, neither will my Father in heaven forgive my failings and shortcomings. (Mark 11:25-26)
  • Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him. (2 Corinthians 2:7-8)
So, in God's name, I chose to forgive K.T. for what he did to me. He has not asked me for my forgiveness, and I have no idea whether he will even acknowledge the afghan and my letter when he receives them. It doesn't matter. Forgiving him has set me free from years of emotional bondage. I only hope it will do the same for him. I'll post a picture of the afghan along with my final thoughts on this process in a few days when I'm done.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Soulful Knitter in Action

If you are a former reader of my original blog, Knitting for the Soul, you know that last year I wrote and self-published a book titled "The Joy of Soulful Knitting: Reflections on the Art of the Craft." Just when I thought it was ready to go, technical issues starting cropping concerning the cover image. I just couldn't get it to print the way I wanted it to. In my frustation, I spent a lot of time praying about the problems and asking God why He led me to write the book, but then kept me from getting it out.

Finally He revealed to me that the book was part of a much bigger plan involving my name change, the ministry, and many other things that He has planned for me. Had he answered my prayers when I thought the book was ready, it would have been published under my old name, which in retrospect, would have made my life much more complicated. As soon as the legal name change was done, he sent a great student from the local community college to finish up the work that needed to be done and I am days away from being able to make the book available under my new name, along with a link to this blog so that others can learn about this ministry. Praise God! He may not always answer when we want Him to, but He's ALWAYS on time!

I'll blog more on the upcoming book soon, but there are some other more pressing things I want to write about today. The only reason I'm bringing it up now is that I saw an article about a woman in England who exemplifies what soulful knitting is really all about. If you want to be truly inspired, read Heather's story.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Just when I thought it was safe to go back to knitting...

Those of you who've been visiting for a while know that God asked me to do something that required a tremendous amount of faith and strength. (See blog entries on Radical Obedience). I'm not done yet, but I've started the lap quilt and will be finished by next week.

I thought that was my test, but in reality, it was just a quiz because just when I thought I'd reached the boundaries of my ability to be radically obedient, God has laid an even bigger task on my heart... to build and operate a retreat (a sanctuary of sorts) that would provide temporary shelter for women who have been sexually or otherwise abused. It's not exactly a shelter for abused women, but rather a place where they can go to heal, rest, pray, find comfort, commune with God and with nature, and begin the process of knitting their lives back together again.

Now I can imagine how Noah must have felt when God told him to build the ark. It's incredibly exciting but it's scary too. My old nature is to start asking a million questions like "How on earth am I going to pay for this?" "Where will the women come from?", and perhaps most earnestly "Why me, Lord?". But my new nature in Christ reminds me that this is exactly where faith comes in. I believe that a lot of times, God has to ask 500 people to do something before 1 will actually do it. I don't know God has picked me, but I'm willing to say "Yes" and believe with all my heart that He will make a way out of no way.

God has already started placing people and situations in my path that confirm that He is sovereign in this. He directed Ann (my best friend and co-founder of SKM) to a general area in Southern VA. He led us to a wonderful and knowledgeable female Christian realtor. He led us to a model home which very closely resembles what we believe God's vision for the retreat to be. And, he led us to a fantastic Christian builder. When I met with him yesterday, he started talking about God and Heaven and he started crying! After I finished explaining what we wanted to build, we were both practically in tears. It was awesome!

There is so much to be done, but in God's time and in His way, things will come together. I am so excited to witness how this miracle is going to unfold... to continue to meet the people that God is sending to help make this a reality. This is so much bigger than anything I could manage on my own, so the mere existence of this facility will be a living testimony to God's awesome power. When I think of the day God welcomes the first hurting women through the doors of the retreat, it brings tears to my eyes.

Here's a picture of the great room in the model home. Imagine women sitting in front of a stone fireplace like that curled up in comfy chairs, knitting and talking.

Here's a picture of the outside of the model. It may not look exactly like this one, but this is the general idea. It's supposed to look like a nature retreat, not a big house. There needs to be lots of light and vaulted ceilings, like a sanctuary. We're even planning a small prayer room where women can go to pray privately. I can see a piece of stained glass art of some sort with a cross in the center on the window in the prayer room. We also want to have an outdoor prayer area as well. There's something about praying outdoors under God's magnificant skies that makes Him feel so much closer.

Here's another picture of the model at night. I just love the way it lights up the night. It reminds me of the way God's light shines through the darkness of this world.

There's so much to do that I hardly know where to begin. So I'll begin where I know I should, in constant prayer. I am open to any comments, suggestions and anything else. One thing I know I need help with early on is creating a 501(c)3) non-profit entity. If anyone knows of someone who's done this and would be willing to help, please share this post with them and have them get in touch with me.

Much more to come!

Prayer Shawls mailed

I've been on a prayer shawl run lately. I've finished 3 more (I'd already posted a picture of the blue one). I just got back from the Post Office and mailed off 3 of them. I've got one more prayer shawl in the queue and finishing up the lapghan (?) for KT. Then it's on to pink scarves... Speaking of which... We just received our first completed scarf for the Think Pink Challenge. Only 999 more to go!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Good-bye Molly

One of our 2 puppies died last night. Despite the fence we'd built around half of the back yard to give them plenty of room to roam and play, Molly could never be confined. She jumped the fence and ran out into the street and was hit by a car. Thank God and His mercy that she appears to have gone quickly.

I don't think the whole county was large enough to contain Molly with her boundless energy and enthusiasm for life. Molly was not the smartest of puppies, in fact I think she was mentally challenged, but she was the happiest dog I've ever seen in my life. All she ever wanted to do was play. She always had a stuffed toy in her mouth, with her tail wagging a mile a minute. That was her signal that it was party time.

Molly's sister Gracie was the smart one of the pair. Technically, Molly belonged to Ann and her sister Gracie was mine, but since they were inseparable, those distinctions didn't really matter - except when Gracie needed quiet time to work on her cure for feline leuke mia and the answer to world peace and Molly wanted to run around in the back yard. At those times, Gracie was definately MY dog and Molly belonged to Ann.

Gracie has been strangely peaceful today. I think she's grieving privately in her own way. She's spent all of her young life taking care of Molly and I suspect that although this is devestation, it didn't come as a total shock to Gracie. She always risked getting herself into trouble by following Molly, just to try to keep Molly safe. I look at Gracie now and wonder what she must be thinking. I hope she doesn't feel responsible for what happened because she couldn't stop Molly from jumping the fence.

I've also been thinking about the person driving the car that hit Molly. It must have been around midnight on a dark country road. Molly was mostly black, with a few white spots and she was fast as lightening. I doubt that the driver even saw her, and if he or she did, I'm sure they didn't have time to stop. I pray that if the driver is aware of what happened, that God will comfort him or her as well.

I'd planned to post on a few other things today, but I just don't have the energy. And besides, I sense that Gracie needs me. So instead, I'm going to sit out on the deck with Gracie, listening to Christian music, communing with God, fondly remembering Molly and enjoying the beautiful spring weather. I'll try to post again tomorrow.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Well, I've been up since about 8AM yesterday morning and let's just say I'm glad I'm a Christian! LOL. I just got back from seeing a pulmonary specialist and of course, as my luck would have it, mine appears to be a "complicated" case of insomnia. The blessings are that my appointment was supposed to have been next week and there just happened to be a cancellation this morning AND instead of waiting another 3 weeks for a sleep study, there was ANOTHER cancellation and I'm having it Sunday night instead. Thank you God!

Among other things, I got an earfull on proper "sleep hygiene". I didn't even know there was such a thing. Apparently, all the things I've been doing as the cycle of insomnia has been getting worse are the worst things I could be doing and I've probably been making my situation worse. Fortunately, after the sleep test, the doctors should be able to diagnose the problem and begin proper treatment. Until then, let's just say that I should have a lot of time to knit and work on the blogs!

I'll try to be careful, but I apologize in advance for any typos that slip through. All the letters are beginning to look alike at this point. :)

This week I'm going to be getting the Think Pink Challenge blog set up and I'll be re-entering and expanding the blog lists that I blew away in the wee hours of the morning. If you have a Christian and/or knitting blog, please let me know. Also, I'll be putting the scripting back at the bottom of the sidebar, so please feel free to link here and get an automatic link back to your site.

I just learned a valuable lesson!!!

Do NOT try to blog when you've been up all night with insomnia and as a result, you're anxious, upset, tired and frustrated. That's exactly what I've been doing for the past few hours and inadvertently lost my blog template. Imagine my horror when I thought a 5am that I'd lost the entire blog. I was able to get the template back by "switching templates", but I lost all the links I had on the side.

Thank Heavens, as much of a pain as this is, it could have been much worse - I could have lost all my posts too. Oh well, it's finally time to get ready for my dr's appt with a specialist to try to sort this insomnia thing out so I'll start anew with the links later today.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Special Thanks

I want to say a special thanks to Mary L for her enthusiasm and her commitment to the Think Pink Challenge. At Mary's suggestion, I'm going to be building a special blog for the Think Pink Challenge where I'll include links to the blogs of knitters who are participating in the Challenge. That way we can post pictures and progress reports to keep each other motivated. I'll also post links to free scarf patterns that you might want to use for your pink scarves.

Mary has also volunteered to help create a Challenge button that you can add to your web site. More on that soon. Stay tuned!

Sleep would be a blessing...

Does anyone other than me suffer from chronic insomnia? It's usually there lurking just under the surface, but periodically it rears it's ugly head in a major way and daily life becomes a real struggle. I'm finally scheduled for an evaluation at a sleep disorder clinic tomorrow morning which should lead to a full sleep study a few weeks after that. One doctor suspects sleep apnea, which I'd never even considered.

I've been praying that God heal me of the insomnia, but He hasn't yet, which tells me there's a reason why I'm dealing with it now. For one thing, I'm seeing how cranky I can be when I'm really tired. I get inpatient with my best friend and her husband, and even with our pets. I've asked them and God to forgive me and help me with that.

I've also noticed that not sleeping is giving me even more time to pray. Sometimes it's in our weakest moments that we can't do anything else but call on God. Imagine if we were always happy and healthy and everything was going our way. When would we ever call on God? There are times when I feel to tired to pray, but it's those times that I try hardest to pray anyway. I believe Satan attacks us when we're tired or otherwise weak, which means that I'm probably a prime target for him right now. I also realize that the more I blog and knit for others, and the more that I talk about this ministry, the worse my insomnia gets. In war, the emeny attacks those on the front lines of battle, not those way in the back. So in that sense, I'm not going to complain if this is indeed a spiritual attack. It just confirms that I'm on the right path for God and that I'm making the devil mad.

Since I've decided to live my life for God, I guess that means using my insomnia for His good while I'm going through it. There are blessings even in this... even in my fatigue, I can still listen to Joyce Meyer tapes, listen to my audio Bible on CD (which is awesome, by the way!) and I've actually gotten several prayer shawls done.

So, while sleep would be a blessing, I'm reminded that insomnia can be a blessing to, if I use the time wisely and continue to keep my focus on Him.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Yes, Thank God it's Friday. It's been a difficult week in many ways, but it's been a week full of blessings too. I don't know if I'll get around to it every Friday, but I'd like to get into the habit of closing out the official work week with a reminder of the many ways that God has moved in my life during the week. It's usually easy to remember the big things, but God is also in the little things. Nothing is to big, or too small, for God.

Thank you this week God for:
  1. Sunshine and warm weather
  2. Cherry blossoms blooming outside the front door
  3. A beautiful memorial service for Clint and the opportunity to meet more of his wonderful family, especially Karen and Deb.
  4. Giving me the energy to complete 4 prayer shawls that were in various stages at the beginning of the week
  5. Sunday lunch with Nim and her family, especially being able to meet many of them for the first time.
  6. The opportunity to introduce several new people to this ministry
  7. Pledges of our first pink scarves (other than mine) for the Think Pink Challenge
  8. An appointment with a sleep specialist one week earlier than originally scheduled
  9. The courage to be "radically obedient" (see previous posts)
  10. Enough money to pay my tax bills (ouch!)
  11. My daughter coming home from school for the weekend
  12. The love of my best friends
  13. A roof over my head and a refrigerator full of food to eat
  14. The courage to write and mail a difficult letter I've been dreading for months
  15. Receiving a gift certificate from my spa (yeah!)
  16. Having enough left over yarn from my last 4 prayer shawls to knit another one without having to buy more
  17. 4 healthy pets: Gracie, Jasmine, Michael and Molly
  18. A new study Bible and a great Concordance
  19. Phone insurance to inexpensively replace my cell phone that broke
  20. Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior
With all those blessings, how can I complain? How did God bless you this week?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Power of Radical Obedience (Part 2)

Radical obedience requires stepping out into the unknown and obeying and believing God, taking Him at His word, and doing what seems (and often is) humanly impossible. It's knowing that we cannot accomplish the task at hand on our own that reminds us and others of God's awesome power. The willingness to commit to obeying God, despite what others might think or the personal costs associated with following Jesus are what make certain types of obedience "radical".

I started on the lap quilt for K.T. last night. Before that though, Ann and I spent some time reflecting on instances in the Bible where others were called upon by God to undertake acts of radical obedience. Here's what we discovered:

  • God instructed Noah to build an ark. This wasn't just an ordinary canoe. The ark was big enough to hold almost 45,000 animals! And if that wasn't radical enough, consider the fact that Noah had never experienced rain before! Because of his radical obedience, Noah's family was spared and they inherited all the wealth of the world. (Genesis 6:1-11:32)
  • God asked Moses to lead the nation of Isreal out of slavery and he did. With nothing more than his faith in God and a staff, Moses told Pharoah to "Let my people go". Because of his radical obedience, the Isrealites' 400 years of slavery under the Egyptians ended (Exodus through Deuteronomy)
  • God asked Joseph to wed Mary even though Joseph knew Mary was pregnant with a child he did not conceive. Because Joseph was radically obedient, he became the earthly father. of Jesus (Matthew 1:18-2:23)
  • The Holy Spirit asked Peter to build His church. Acts 5 tells of the severe persecution that the disciples faced when they began preaching the gospel of Jesus. Because of Peter's radical obedience, God's church was built and the name of Jesus is still preached throughout the world today.
Then of course there's Jeremiah. Here's a man who preached for 40 years that Judah and it's capital city of Jerusalem would repent and turn back to God. The book of Jeremiah tells us that during the entire time, he was ignored, ridiculed and persecuted. No one would listen, but he didn't give up. He remained faithful, and this required radical obedience. Jeremiah was a failure in the eyes of man. But to God, he was a huge success.

Radical obedience does not require great strength, a college degree, wealth, fame or social status. It simply requires the willingness to say "Yes, Lord." What is God currently asking you to be radically obedient about? We'd love to hear from you and we'd love to pray for you.

Prayer Shawl Note Cards Available

I posted this picture last week of a prayer shawl that I made. The picture was taken at the home of my best friend's father, who passed away last week. I'd taken this picture at his home on a Thursday, and by the time I went home, made a note card with it and took it back to him on Saturday, he was never able to see it. His sister Elizabeth did though, and I think it brought her at least some small measure of comfort, knowing that it had been taken at a place that had very special meaning to her brother.

As you can see, the front of the note card has the picture itself and on the back, I've written about the significance of prayer shawls. I know it's hard to see the text, sorry. The inside is blank for a note.

Clint loved this ministry so in his honor, and to raise funds to continue our work, I've decided to make the blank note cards available for sale. They'd be a great addition to any prayer shawls that you're planning to give to someone. I'd be delighted to send you a set of 6 blank note cards and envelopes for a donation of $5.00 or more. You can either use the Amazon Honor System box to the right or send an e-mail to make other arrangements (i.e., PayPal, Money Order, Personal Check). If you're using the Amazon system and there's a place to leave a note, please indicate that you want the note cards and add your address. If not, please send me a separate e-mail to let me know that you've made a donation. Thanks in advance and enjoy!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Power of Radical Obedience (Part 1)

What is obedience? It's doing what God asks us to do even when we really don't want to. Not because we understand His reasons, not because we feel particularly well-suited to the task, and not because there's no one else on the planet who could do it. For those of us who choose to be obedient, why then do we do it? Simply because we love the Lord.

"If you love me, obey my commandments." (John 14:15)

Last week, God told me that it was time to take my personal ministry to the next level. He asked me to do what is without a doubt the hardest thing He has ever asked of me. My heart wanted to say "Yes", but my flesh was crying out "Why me, Lord?" I soon realized that it didn't matter why God wanted me to do it. Who am I to question Him anyway? But once I committed to radical obedience, He made it clear to me exactly what I was to do and why. Part of this process involves journaling my progress here. It is my ardent prayer that although this may seem difficult to some, and insane to others, that someone will benefit from what I'm about to do.

In February 1979, I was 19 years old. On a cold, snowy Thursday night, while returning home from an evening sorority meeting, I was abducted at gunpoint by 2 men as I was getting out of my car in front of my house. It's surreal in retrospect that as one of the men held a gun to my head and forced me into their car, I assumed that they were kidnapping me. I started to cry and told them that my parents had just divorced and neither of them had any money. It didn't take long for me to realize that kidnapping was not at all what they had in mind.

I learned much later that they had recently been laid off by the construction company that was building homes in my subdivision, and that night they had been headed to the construction trailor to break in and rob and/or vandalize it. However, when they saw me in my car having difficulty navigating through the deep ice and snow up the steep hill that led to my mother's townhouse, they decided that it would be much more fun to terrorize a young girl.

Without going into all the ugly details, let it suffice to say that I was sexually assaulted by both men at gunpoint. After fighting among themselves about whether I should live or die since I could identify them, the "ring-leader" agreed to let me live, but only if the other guy got me out of the car immediately. I was gagged and bound with my tights and thermal underwear, and thrown, naked and bleeding, out of a moving car. I crawled through a foot of ice and snow to the nearest townhouse with a light on and prayed to God that a woman would answer the door, and she did.

Although I didn't realize it at that moment, He'd answered another prayer as well. The entire time that the attack was taking place, I kept praying that if I survived, that He would give me a way help the police find the men who'd done this. I saw and memorized the license plate number as the car sped away. In fact, 27 years later, I still remember that license plate number. As it turned out, that was the only way the police were able to identify my attackers.

Fast forward one and a half years to the trial. There were plenty of surprises. I learned that the primary attacker was married, had a girlfriend, and was a serial rapist. As horrific as my experience was, it seemed mild compared to the accounts I heard of his other rapes. Mine was the only one in whch he had an accomplice. Because that accomplice fought for my life, and then turned state's evidence when he was arrested, forgiving him wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I believe he was responsible for saving me from a fate that was much worse.

Now the other guy was another story. I was terrified of him, I hated him, and I didn't think I'd ever forgive him for what he did to me. Because of him I felt dirty, I felt broken and I didn't feel like I'd ever be whole again. But I knew that I had to pull myself together. I'd been an honor roll student, I had big plans for graduate school and was looking forward to a promising career. I refused to be a victim. I was determined to be a survivor.

Sadly, I was so busy being a survivor that I never really dealt with what happened. I found myself on auto-pilot through the rest of college, grad school, high-paced and highly stressful corporate jobs, numerous chronic and unexplainable illnesses, 4 marriages and 4 divorces, major depression and a host of stress-related problems. Only recently did God reveal to me that although I had made one poor choice after another, many of those choices and their consequences were due at least in part, to the aftermath of unresolved emotions stemming from the rape.

So here I am today, 27 years and a new life in Christ later, ready to face my past head on. It's time to stop being a victim and truly be a survivor, not in myself, but in Christ. In case you haven't figured it out by now, God told me to forgive my rapist... not merely to "say" that I forgive him, but to truly and sincerely forgive him and to pray for his salvation. He even told me to make a prayer shawl (lap quilt) for him! Needless to say, I was stunned. I did all I could to convince myself that I was mistaken, that surely God wouldn't ask me to do that, but not only did He ask me to do it, but He convicted my heart so much that I haven't thought of much else for the past week.

Even though He's convicted my heart, this is still no easy task. I nearly cried while walking around Michael's looking for yarn. The fact that this is for a man limits the color choices substantially, but more than that, what color yarn goes with the decor of a prison cell? I finally decided that grey was a safe, masculine color. Here's a picture of what I chose.

Then there was the question of how I'd ever find him. I knew where he went when he was first sentenced, but I wasn't sure if he was still there. God told me to look on the internet and in less than 10 minutes, I'd found him. He's in a maximum-security federal penitentary, and yes, he will be in prison for the rest of his life. Considering that he is only 51 now, that could be quite some time.

So now I have the yarn and I know how to get it to him (securely, of course, so that he doesn't know where I am). Next was the issue of praying for his salvation. I just didn't know how I'd be able to do that. My best friend and sister-in-Christ thought it would be helpful for me to see the HBO series, Oz, about life in a maximum-security penitentary. She bought me the entire first season on DVD. It has been extremely difficult to watch. I knew life in prison was horrible, but I didn't realize how horrific it really is. Please don't misunderstand, considering that my attacker was a violent serial rapist, I believe that his sentence was just. But I must admit that it has been much easier to pray for his salvation having seen some of Oz and realizing that he's spent nearly 10,000 days there already. Imagine, 10,000 days and counting! Only God's grace and mercy can overcome a hell on earth like prison.

I found the perfect prayer in a small book that I purchased at a recent Joyce Meyer Ministries conference. It's called "Pray for Our Nation: Scriptural Prayers to Revive Our Country". No author is listed, but it's based on the KJV version of the Bible. I would highly recommend this little book. Here's the prayer that I'm praying every day for the man who raped me:

"Father, I know that you are not willing that any should perish but desire that all should come to repentenance. Therefore I am praying for K.T. and lifting him up to you today.

Satan, I command you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to take your hands off this person and to cease and desist in your maneuvers against him.

Dear Father and Lord of the harvest, I claim K.T. for Your kingdom and pray that you would send someone across his path to whom he can listen to and relate to.

Lord, I ask in the name of Jesus that You would give that laborer words that K.T. cannot deny, so that the light of the glorious gospel would shine unto K.T. and he will believe and be saved.

For all this I give You thanks in Jesus' wonderful name.


I guess it's time to start crocheting now. I'll be posting pictures and more of my thoughts and revelations during the process. By God's grace, I'll be able to do this. I thank Him in advance for the healing that's in store for both K.T. and for me!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Rest in peace

This morning my best friend's father died. It was a sad day, but it was a glorious day as well. He had been sick for quite some time but his health declined rapidly over the last few days. I was blessed to have met him a few months ago, and though our time together was not lengthy, it was very well spent. I can honestly say that I loved him and that I will miss him deeply.

The last time I saw him alive, he wasn't aware that I was there in the traditional sense. But laying across his lap was the prayer quilt that I'd crocheted for him a few months ago. Each time I saw him, he mentioned how much that quilt meant to him. Seeing him lying there with it over him brought tears to my eyes. I am so thankful that through that simple act, I was able to provide just a tiny bit of comfort to him when he needed it most.

Despite the sadness of his passing, his daughter Ann and I are thankful that we serve such a merciful God. It was a beautiful sunny day, Clint passed away peacefully in the comfort of his beautiful home, surrounded by a family that loved him, along with wonderful caregivers from the local hospice program. His pastor shared with us that Clint was so excited about going home to be with the Lord that he almost felt guilty about leaving his loved ones behind.

I cannot imagine the thought of facing death without knowing the love of God and the grace and mercy of salvation. I can't conceive of the fear that a person must face if they haven't accepted Jesus as their Savior. For them, the best case, I imagine, would be for death to be the utter and absolute end. How hopeless and sad is that? But even worse, consider those who believe that God exists, but have chosen not to accept Him. That is unspeakable fear.

My prayer tonight is for the family and friends that Clint left behind who are mourning his loss. I pray that they find comfort, strength and hope in God's love. That in addition to finding comfort in the arms of a loving God, that they will find support and encouragement from friends, neighbors, caregivers, church members and others that God places in their lives to help them through this difficult time. I pray that God will provide these messengers with the wisdom to say and do the right things when needed, as well as the wisdom to know when to move out of the way.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of sympathy and the God of every comfort, who comforts me in every trouble, so that I may also be able to comfort those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort with which I myself am comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Goodbye Clint. Rest in peace.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Spread the word

Thanks to I now have "Join Us" cards to use to invite others to join our knitting ministry. I take my knitting with me everywhere and always find opportunities to pass these out to other knitters. If you're interested in receiving some cards that you can pass out to knitters you know (or those you haven't met yet), just send a SASE to me at the contact address shown in the bottom right-hand sidebar and I'll be delighted to send you some.

Stepping up to the plate

I realize that this ministry is still in its infancy, but God is clearly moving mountains to see that His work is done through us. This week, for the first time, I have been blessed to see two of the people that I made prayer shawls for. One is on his deathbed and the other I met for the first time in the hospital last night. I cannot tell you the joy I felt as they shared with me how much those simple gifts had meant to them. I truly felt like I was the one who'd been given a gift. I know these projects take time and there are days when I'd rather be knitting a sweater for myself, but now that I truly see the way that God is using them to encourage others, I can't seem to knit them fast enough.

Nearly every day God lays another person's name on my heart that I should send a prayer shawl to. There is no way that I can personally do all that knitting, even though He is blessing me by turning this into a full-time ministry. I know many of you are already knitting prayer shawls for family, friends, co-workers and church members. But if you're lead to do so, I (and God) would certainly appreciate you knitting some and sending them to me so that I can distribute them as He leads me. If you're interested in doing this, please contact me directly.

If you don't have the time or interest in knitting (or crocheting) prayer shawls, please, please, please (do I sound like James Brown yet?) knit some pink scarves for our Think Pink Challenge. God has shown me 1000 pink scarves to be delivered to the American Cancer Society in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and I am believing in Him that they will be here.

God has also told me to crochet a very special lap quilt for someone who hurt me terribly years ago. I thought I had forgiven him, but the thought of knitting something for him is on the verge of making me ill. I nearly cried as I walked around the yarn shop yesterday trying to select the yarn. As I think about this, I'm not sure which will be harder, actually praying for his salvation while I crochet the lap quilt for him or composing the letter that I will write to him telling that I forgive him and that God can to if He'll accept Jesus as his personal savior. I realize that this is going to be one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do and that I will not be able to do it alone. I will truly be praying for God's strength and courage as I work on this project, realizing that in this case, God's healing will be just as much for me as it will be for the person who receives it. I found these 2 verses this morning that I'll be meditating on:

The Lord my God holds my right had; He is the Lord, Who says to me, Fear not; I will help you! (Isaiah 41:13)

Because the Lord God helps me, I will not be dismayed; therefore, I have set my face like flint to do his will, and I know that I will triumph. (Isaiah 50:7)

I have one other prayer shawl to finish before I start this one, but I'm planning to journal the process through the blog, including who this is for and why, but more importantly, how I know God is going to heal me through this process. I don't know if I'll ever hear from this guy, but if I do, I'll share that as well. Please keep me in your prayers.