Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A purchase contract is in place!

Great news. We placed a contract on the property yesterday and got the word today that the owners accepted!
God is moving Heaven and earth for the women that we are planning to help and I'm believing Him for the financing to make this happen. No matter how HUGE this project feels to me, it's not about me, it's about God and about the women He's calling me to help. What seems like a mountain to me is merely a grain of sand to God.

Our closing date is August 30th, 2006 and we need donations. Any donations, of any size, would be deeply appreciated. Also, we need fundraisers who can hit the ground running and start raising money. Car washes, change drives, e-bay auctions, garage sales... now is the time for all of us to get creative. I'm going to be creating a separate blog within the next few days with more details on the property and the project, 501(c)(3) info and several ways in which people can contribute, including PayPal and Amazon buttons to donate online.
If you want to contribute by check, please make checks payable to:
Grace Bay Charities
PO Box 383
Sutherland VA 23885

Please keep this project in your prayers, contribute in whatever ways God leads you to, and pass the word on to as many people as possible. Imagine what a testimony this project is going to be to the greatness of God when people see how it came to be.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Praying for a Miracle

Today I found the perfect home for the knitting retreat. It's true that God always upgrades. If you've been following this blog for a while, you know that I've been on quite an odyssey looking for the perfect place for this retreat. Each site has been more beautiful and more suitable than the last, and with each property, God has revealed more and more of His intentions. Where this seems to be going is totally different from what I'd first thought, but that's not surprising, considering that this is God's vision, not mine. The great news is that not only is this site perfect, but it's also much LESS expensive than the others and is in absolute move-in condition!
Of course, it's not cheap, but then neither is God. If it's His will for us to locate the retreat here, He will make it happen.

The property is an existing bed & breakfast in a small bayfront town. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

A view of the front...

The dining room

The kitchen (commercial-grade with subZero refrig!)

The guest rooms

The perfect room for knitting

The gardens

I'm going to be working like crazy to finalize my 501(c)(3) application for the IRS next week. (Wish me luck). But more importantly, I'll be praying for this property. I'm praying that if it's God's will that this property be used as a knitting retreat for women who have been sexually assaulted, that He will open doors to make it happen. Please join me in praying for this project.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thinking BIG

Earlier today I posted about believing by faith alone that the knitting retreat will come to be. Tonight I was browsing through a book that I bought to give to my daughter at her graduation on Saturday and I found this:

"As you enter the future, your strongest asset is optimism. Take with you the high spirit of expectation. Go forth, confident of your potential. Know that God matches his steps to your cadence. Believe your ability, trust your competence, and affirm God's power as your strength. When one door closes, move your eyes away from it, because one more suitable and pertinent is opening. Through that door is the possibility for you to give of yourself, utilize your talent, and make a difference in the world.

Think big. No one ever caught lions by setting mousetraps. To catch lions, think in terms of lions and not of mice. Set your aim high and reach for the sky. The farther you reach, the farther you will go. Shoot for the moon. If you miss, you'll still land among the stars. Remember, when setting your sights on goals, that God is your partner in what you want to do. If God is your partner, make your plans big. When you and God work together, potential increases and possibilities expand.

Dream big dreams, and watch them come true. When you face difficulties, look beyond them to opportunities. Think positively, and be enthusiastic about your thoughts. Put your thoughts into action and sustain them with all-out effort. Tell God about your goals and why you want to reach them. Invite God's power into everything you do.

You can achieve more and go farther with a positive attitude. As you go forth in confidence, God goes forth with you in strength and power. The two of you go together."

from "The Promise of God's Power for the Graduate" by P Barnhart

Prayer shawl kits are now available

It occurred to me that some of you may want to give a prayer shawl to someone you know (or keep one for yourself), AND support this ministry at the same time. Well, now there's a way to do that... by purchasing a prayer shawl kit (see right sidebar on the home page of this blog). If you're interested, I will send you the prepared yarn (scraps cut, tied and wound into center-pull balls) along with full instructions. As with the purchase of the knitted shawls themselves, proceeds from the kit sales will go towards purchase of the knitting retreat. Please feel free to buy as many as you'd like. It does take a long time to cut, tie and wind the balls, but this is for such a good cause that I'd be happy to do it, no matter how much time it takes! :)

It's been a great week

Despite some painful personal challenges, all in all it's been a great week. First, we received FIVE pink scarves on Monday for the Think Pink Challenge! We still have a long way to go, but lots of knitters have joined over the past week and pledges are higher than ever. Thanks to everyone who's joining in on that great project.

Orders for the SKM Signature Prayer Shawl have started coming in as well, which is great. This is a major fundraiser for SKM, with proceeds going towards the purchase of a property to house the knitting retreat for sexual assault survivors. I'm going to visit a property this weekend that sounds absolutely perfect for the retreat. If it's anything like I expect it to be, I'll post about it next week.

Speaking of that, we've received our first two cash donations this week as well! In fact, today I was able to open a savings account where I've planted those first two seeds for the retreat. Thank God! The bank manager was very surprised when I insisted that I didn't need withdrawal slips or an ATM card for the retreat. Instead, I just asked for LOTS of deposit slips! LOL!!!

The first Knitting Angel has officially stepped forward to volunteer, and I'll be getting her shawl kit out to her soon (Thanks, Christine!) I'm hoping that more of you will answer the call and help out. In addition to the need for people to help knit the shawls, I've added an SKM wish list in the sidebar to the right, as well as donation buttons to make it easy to contribute financially if you feel led to do so.

Even if you can't contribute financially, you can't knit or you're busy knitting other things, I'm asking that you pray, not for me, but for this ministry. Please help me pray that we can truly make a difference in the lives of women who have been sexually assaulted by giving them a healing place to go to, to give them the healing gift of knitting, and let them know that God, and so many people like us, have not forgotten them. Also, please spread the word about what this ministry is doing. Each of us is no more than six steps away from someone who could make all the difference for this project. I have no idea how this is all going to come together, but I believe in my heart that God has a perfect plan for it. Through prayers, spreading the word, fulfilling Divine appointments and planting seeds of faith, I know that this knitting retreat can and WILL come to be. No contribution (of time, yarn, money, spreading the word, etc) is too small or insignificant. I sincerely appreciate anything you can do to help.

A new face on knitting

If you want to see the transforming power of knitting in action, check out this article on female inmates knitting for newborns. It just goes to show how God can use the gift of knitting, in any person, in any place, for good... not just for the recipient, but for the knitter as well. Just imagine if this program were to be replicated in jails and prisons throughout the country!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Prayerful Request for Knitting Angels

A lot of things are happening behind the scenes that make me believe that God is preparing to take this ministry to the next level. There are so many hearts who are hurting because of sexual assault, I believe that God is calling us to help in some small way. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we've already received our first order for a prayer shawl as part of our fundraising efforts, but I also have prayer shawls for several survivors that I have either recently completed or need to start soon. I believe in the my heart that the need for these shawls is going to far exceed my ability to knit them, and that's going to happen very quickly. It's become clear to me that even if I knit all day every day (and believe me, I would if I could), there's still no way I could knit enough prayer shawls to get them to a mere fraction of the women who could be blessed by them.

For that reason, I'm asking for a few knitters who are committed to reaching out to women who have been victims of sexual assault through this ministry to join with me to knit these special prayer shawls. In keeping with the "it takes a village" theme, yarns are being donated by women (and companies) all over the country and even Canada, so it only seems fitting that the shawls be lovingingly and prayerfully made by women from all walks of life in all parts of the country (and beyond) to help create them. The plan has always been that women who eventually come to the knitting retreat will not only get a prayer shawl of their own, but will be able to help make a prayer shawl to leave behind for the next guest. But there's no reason why others who want to help can't get involved right now.

The shawls a very easy to knit (knit every row). I will supply the yarn, already cut into scraps, joined and wound into balls. All I ask is that volunteers supply their own circular needles. I would then send you enough yarn to make a shawl, along with the pattern (although it's straight knitting, there are a few little details that make a big difference in the finished product!). Once you're finished, you'd send back the shawl (I would do the finishing and add the fringe here). And then, hopefully, you'd request more yarn to make another one! :)

All volunteers are welcome, of course, but I'm really praying for dedicated knitters who are willing to partner with me to keep this effort going on a regular basis. In order for me to start reaching out to crisis counselors, pastors, therapists and others who can help identify the women who are in need of these shawls, I need to be able to count on a consistent, steady supply of them.

Please prayerfully consider joining with me on this. If you are interested, or have any questions at all, please e-mail me. If you have questions, comments or suggestions that you think others would benefit from, also feel free to post them here as well. I know there are knitting angels out there who God intends to use to help with this special outreach. Thank you in advance if you're one of them.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Small beginnings

Over the past few days, I have seen God's hand moving in this ministry. Daily He's been bringing "news" into my life... new friends, new knitters who want to help, new opportunities to encourage women who have been sexually assaulted, new opportunities to tell others about the vision for this ministry, new ideas for fundraising and getting the word out.

Now that things are finally coming together and the initial seeds planted for this ministry are starting to bear beautiful fruit, I find myself feeling small, overwhelmed and a bit scared. I find myself asking God "Why?", "Why me?", "How?", "How big?", "Where?"... the list goes on. I look at others who are much more articulate, extroverted, and more spiritually mature than I , and I wonder why God chose me to do this.

I may never know why God chose me for this work, but I do know that it would be a huge mistake for me to allow my fears and insecurities keep me from being obedient on this. Just in the past 3 days, I've been reminded twice that God can and does use anybody, and that includes me.

First, I finally opened a book that I was led to buy about a month ago called "Twelve Extraordinary Women" (of the Bible) by John MacArthur. He notes that like Jesus' disciples, most of the extraorindary women of the Bible were in and of themselves unremarkable. He reminds us that they were "ordinary, common, and in some cases shockingly low-caste women - in exactly the same way the disciples were commen men." He uses the examples of the Samaritan woman of John 4 whose name we don't even know, Rahab who was a common "harlot" (I'm glad we don't use that word much anymore!), and even Mary, the mother of Christ, who was an ordinary young girl who became quite extraordinary. The significant thing about all these women was that they all served an awesome, almighty God, and it was only through their faith, love and obedience, and by God's grace, power and mercy that these women were able to accomplish great things for His glory.

Then today, I found a daily inspirational message in my e-mail box from Inspiration Network, titled Small Beginnings. It talks about Champollion, a very average young man born in a small town in southern France in the late 1700's. Although his live had a small beginning, his passion for foreign languages eventually led him to decipher the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs!

The message went on to say that:

Many people see their lives as small and insignificant. As a result, they put a cap on their God-given abilities, assuming it would be impossible to achieve great things for Him. They feel incapable of witnessing to others, praying for the sick, undertaking great crusades, stepping out in faith on important assignments. And they don’t feel worthy to experience more of His blessings, wisdom, riches, and power. But God wants us to realize that His blessings are available to all of us. And He wants us to understand that He can use anyone—even if they experience small beginnings.

Today, do not place limits on what God can do in you and through you. Don’t allow your heart to be filled with worry and doubt, but believe His Word and trust Him. Proclaim His promises, and be ready to step out in faith.

Today I pray that each one of us remembers that God knows what He's doing, even when we don't (which is most of the time). I pray that we realize that He has designed each of us with a specific purpose in mind and that our heart's desire will be to understand what God is calling us to do, And that then, through faith, prayer and obedience, we will step up to the plate and answer His call, knowing that through Him, all things are possible. Amen.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Think Pink Updates

I finally got around to updating the Think Pink Challenge blog. I've included Breast Cancer resources (information as well as additional ways you can support a great cause) and links to some free patterns. If you haven't done so already, please send me an e-mail so I can add your name to the list of participants.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


The generosity of knitters never ceases to amaze me. A HUGE box showed up yesterday full of absolutely beautiful yarns. There were multiple skeins of each yarn (all brand new, I might add). I picked one of each for Show-and-Tell. Thanks so much to Sandy for her generous contribution to our ministry. So many women will be blessed by her generosity.

The timing of Sandy's box of yarn was also a special blessing for me. This has been a particularly difficult week. My daughter is graduating from an "alternative" residential high school in 2 weeks. She had gone through all of the preliminary processing to pursue a career in the military, but at the 11th hour, managed to get herself disqualified. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts for the last 4 years, she has refused to prepare and now the time to leave the nest is bearing down upon her. While I thought she'd made significant progress while away at school for the past several months, I realized this week that things aren't always as they seem.

Although intellectually I know better, I found myself this week questioning the decisions I've made as a mother, asking where I went wrong, what I could have done differently, what more I could have done, how could this be happening... the list goes on. I even questioned my ability to minister to others who are hurting if I can't even minister effectively to my own daughter. At the depths of my despair, I received a revelation that I've done all I can do for my daughter, that now it's time to move out of the way so that God can work in her life. I came to understand that no matter how much I want to protect my daughter and shield her from the hurts of life, that only God can truly protect, comfort and guide her. And until she stops relying on me to clean up her messes and looks instead to God, she's going to keep going around the same mountain. As painful as it is, it's time that she leave the nest, and since she's not willing to accept flying lessons from me, I've got to let her fall so that God can teach her how to fly.

Then, as He always does, God confirmed that this ministry is on the right track. First there was the letter from Francis (see previous post) and now the yarn from Sandy, along with a beautiful note of encouragement about the ministry. What an amazing God we serve.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Need a good laugh?

I was doing a little surfing tonight waiting for a movie to start and I stumbled on a great knitting blog. This has got to be one of the funniest blog posts I've ever read.

A Godly turn of events

If you've been reading for a while, you may remember that in April I made a lap afghan for the man who raped me 27 years ago. As part of my healing process, I prayed for him while crocheting and eventually wrote a letter to him which I posted here.

After several unsuccessful attempts to find a prison ministry that would forward the afghan and letter to the federal penitentiary where he is located, I ended up calling the prison myself. I spoke with the Prison Chaplain, who told me that maximum security prisoners are not allowed to receive these kinds of items. That was a bummer! But more importantly, the Chaplain went on to warn me of how dangerous the prisoners there were, and because he was not familiar with my attacker, the odds are great that he was not a practicing Christian. He said that while it's possible that Keith would be touched by my prayers for his salvation, it was also very possible that he could have a negative, and potentially dangerous reaction. The Chaplain did his best to remind me that although I may be disappointed by what appears to have been the inability to go through with an act of obedience that God placed on my heart, that I've done my part and that God can take the next steps with Keith if it's His will. He also reminded me of my own words posted here:
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, once I got over the initial disappointment, I realized that there was another pressing issue at hand... I had a grey lap afghan with a very limited distribution potential. I prayed for God's guidance in determining who I should give the afghan to, particularly in light of my initial intentions while making it. Almost immediately, Ann suggested that I give it to a Bible College student that she has "adopted". Over the past several weeks she's been calling Bible Colleges and asking if there are any students there who are "on fire for the Lord" and who are in need of a blessing... prayers, financial assistance, phone cards, clothing, whatever. Francis was one of the first students she learned of, and I think he's been just as much of a blessing to us as we have been to him during the short time that we have been corresponding with him.

I hope to share his testimony here soon once I have his permission to do so, but I'm sure that he wouldn't mind me sharing with you the letter I received from him yesterday after receiving the afghan.

Dear Sydney,

Thank you most sincerely for God touching you and putting you in my life. Your special gifts and nice words go a long way to building His kingdom in miraculous ways. They also tell tales that are hard to forget.

It amazes me how our God does things. When our understanding, energy and wisdom come to zerio, He manifests Himself by opening unsuspected doors with all precious things flowing.

Hardly did I know that His angles were already at work to 'feed' me as they did to Elijah (through the birds) when he was so desperate and desired to die than to live. "Why worry when you can pray?" was the challenge I got by your generosity.

I heartily appreciate your check, and much more, the lap quilt which will remind me of your love when the check will be long spent.

May I wish you all God's blessings in your life and your Knitting Ministry.

In Christ Jesus' love,


I probably don't need to tell you that I cried like a baby while reading Francis' letter, and for quite some time thereafter. God is so amazing. Just think, I made that lap afghan originally for the man who raped me. As God asked, I made it, I prayed for his salvation, I wrote to him and shared that letter in the hopes that someone else may in some way be helped by the healing process I went through while doing it. Despite my initial disappointment that it didn't end up where I thought it would, God has made sure that it touched yet another life in an amazing way.

Sometimes we mistakenly believe that it requires a lot of time, money and other resources to reach out to the body of Christ and truly make a difference. That is a lie perpetuated by the enemy. The simple act of crocheting a lap afghan has touched more lives than I'll probaby ever know: I've received the most encouraging e-mails from women who read about this here on my blog, one of those women said that she spoke of my journey to forgiveness at her Bible Study class (I believe she lives in Colorado - on the other side of the country!), the Chaplain at the penitentiary, and of course, dear Francis. I am humbled and amazed that God desires to use me in such simple, yet powerful ways. I am honored to be a set of His hands here on Earth. If you're wondering why I KNT4GD (my license tag), this is why. Care to join me?