Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Knitting for a cause

Looking for a charitable organization to knit (or crochet) for? Look no further... Interweave Press probably has the most comprehensive list of charitable knitting organizations I've seen. I'm adding the link to the list of Featured Projects on the sidebar for future reference.

Friday, July 21, 2006

16 rules to live by

Thanks to one of my favorite bloggers, LaShawn Barber, for sharing a post that I probably never would have seen otherwise by Bob Parsons, CEO of at his blog, Hot Points, and for challenging her readers to ponder this list.

Bob offers the following 16 "rules of survival". Originally I'd planned to mention only my favorites, but the more I looked over the list, the more I realized that they are all relevant and worthy of mention. So, instead I've decided to see which ones apply to my life at this very moment as I'm "giving birth" to Grace Bay Charities. My humble thoughts are added in italics after Bob's:

1. Get and stay out of your comfort zone. I believe that not much happens of any significance when we're in our comfort zone. I hear people say, "But I'm concerned about security." My response to that is simple: "Security is for cadavers."

I can say without a doubt that forming Grace Bay Charities, going "public" with my own struggles in an effort to help someone else, and believing that there are enough people out there to help make Grace Bay House a reality is the biggest leap of faith that I've ever taken. I don't think I could ever be farther outside of my comfort zone than I am right now.

2. Never give up. Almost nothing works the first time it's attempted. Just because what you're doing does not seem to be working, doesn't mean it won't work. It just means that it might not work the way you're doing it. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and you wouldn't have an opportunity.

This is definitely advice I need right now. There are days when I ask God why on Earth He asked me to do this. This project seems so big and so overwhelming and I can't imagine raising enough money in time. But just when I don't think I can cry another tear, I get an e-mail, or a phone call, from a woman who has been victimized. Those simple, heartfelt thank yous are like a "you go girl!" from God. How can I quit now?

3. When you're ready to quit, you're closer than you think. There's an old Chinese saying that I just love, and I believe it is so true. It goes like this: "The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed."

If this is true, my breakthrough should be coming any minute now! LOL

4. With regard to whatever worries you, not only accept the worst thing that could happen, but make it a point to quantify what the worst thing could be. Very seldom will the worst consequence be anywhere near as bad as a cloud of "undefined consequences." My father would tell me early on, when I was struggling and losing my shirt trying to get Parsons Technology going, "Well, Robert, if it doesn't work, they can't eat you."

I've decided that the 2 worst things that could happen because of this project would be (1) for my rapist to find me again and (2) to not raise enough funds to purchase the property that I'm supposed to close on at the end of next month. Considering that my rapist is serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison and I've moved at least 20 times since the attack, that's highly unlikely. As for Grace Bay House, if that's the property we're supposed to have, God will bring the people and the funds to make it happen. If it's not that particular property, it'll be another one. I have done all I know to do to get the word out. I've often heard that God has to ask 500 people in order to get 1 to act. I'm learning that that is true. I've done what He's asked me to do, now all I can do is move out of the way at let Him take over.

5. Focus on what you want to have happen. Remember that old saying, "As you think, so shall you be."

Enough said.

6. Take things a day at a time. No matter how difficult your situation is, you can get through it if you don't look too far into the future, and focus on the present moment. You can get through anything one day at a time.

This is probably the hardest one for me, but I'm working on it.

7. Always be moving forward. Never stop investing. Never stop improving. Never stop doing something new. The moment you stop improving your organization, it starts to die. Make it your goal to be better each and every day, in some small way. Remember the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Small daily improvements eventually result in huge advantages.


8. Be quick to decide. Remember what General George S. Patton said: "A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow."

This may be the only one I disagree with. Sometimes it takes a while for me to hear back from God. Some of the biggest mistakes I've ever made were made because I didn't wait for Him.

9. Measure everything of significance. I swear this is true. Anything that is measured and watched, improves.

I agree.

10. Anything that is not managed will deteriorate. If you want to uncover problems you don't know about, take a few moments and look closely at the areas you haven't examined for a while. I guarantee you problems will be there.

I'll remember this as Grace Bay grows.

11. Pay attention to your competitors, but pay more attention to what you're doing. When you look at your competitors, remember that everything looks perfect at a distance. Even the planet Earth, if you get far enough into space, looks like a peaceful place.

I'm finding this to be true, even in the non-profit world.

12. Never let anybody push you around. In our society, with our laws and even playing field, you have just as much right to what you're doing as anyone else, provided that what you're doing is legal.

To this I'd add... "and moral". I think this is true not only in business, but in personal relationships as well. Sometimes we have to set boundaries, even where family and friends are concerned. Just because someone is a relative or a long-time friend, that doesn't mean that your relationship with them can't be toxic. As we grow and mature, so do our values and our priorities, but not always in the same direction or at the same pace. Relationships that may have worked (or that we tolerated) in the past, may not necessarily be good for the person we have become. It takes courage to break free of toxic relationships, but it beats the alternative.

13. Never expect life to be fair. Life isn't fair. You make your own breaks. You'll be doing good if the only meaning fair has to you, is something that you pay when you get on a bus (i.e., fare).

There probably isn't a survivor alive that doesn't know this to be true.

14. Solve your own problems. You'll find that by coming up with your own solutions, you'll develop a competitive edge. Masura Ibuka, the co-founder of SONY, said it best: "You never succeed in technology, business, or anything by following the others." There's also an old Asian saying that I remind myself of frequently. It goes like this: "A wise man keeps his own counsel."


15. Don't take yourself too seriously. Lighten up. Often, at least half of what we accomplish is due to luck. None of us are in control as much as we like to think we are.

Another hard one for me, but one I'm working on. While I agree that a large part of what happens in our lives is outside of our direct control, I disagree that it's due to "luck".

16. There's always a reason to smile. Find it. After all, you're really lucky just to be alive. Life is short. More and more, I agree with my little brother. He always reminds me: "We're not here for a long time; we're here for a good time."

I couldn't have said it better.

Thanks Bob for some great advice!

The above article is included with the permission of Bob Parsons ( and is Copyright © 2004-2006 by Bob Parsons. All rights reserved.

Thanks to Coats & Clark

I'd like to extend a public thanks to Coats & Clark, the latest in a growing list of yarn companies who have so graciously donated yarn to SKM to make prayer shawls. Out of the 10 yarn companies that I originally contacted to request donations, 5 have responded favorably. Each sent a huge box of top-quality yarns. Although I would have gladly accepted second-hand, discontinued, over-run or improperly dyed yarns, I'm delighted to report that all of these wonderful companies sent some of their best.
I've provided links to each of the yarn companies who are supporting our work in the side-bar to the right (visible from the home page). Please remember them when you're selecting yarn for future projects.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Thank you to the military

As the mother of a soon-to-be-soldier, I have been watching current international events unfold with a more personal interest than before. My daughter leaves next week for Basic Training and I admit that I have mixed emotions. On one hand, I'm nervous, as I'm sure any mother would be. But on the other hand, I am so proud of her and what she will be doing for her country and for other people around the world. When I start to fear for her safety, I'm reminded of how my mother must have felt when she buried my younger brother who was killed on the streets of Washington DC, or how she must have felt when she got the call that I had been brutally attacked and raped, also on the streets of the Nation's Capital. Or I could remember the sheer terror I felt on 9/11 as I watched events unfold or learned of the devestating losses in the Gulf after Hurricane Katrina.

The reality is that we can choose to live in fear or we can choose to live in faith. No matter how much I want to, there's only so much I can do to protect myself and my loved ones. Life happens. What we can do, what we must do, is remember who is ultimately in control and trust Him to watch over us and keep us and our families safe.

To those who wonder how young people can still VOLUNTEER to serve our country in these trying times, I say that rather than looking down on them, second-guessing their motives or questioning their common sense, try thanking them for their service to our country. Thank them for having the courage to do what so many of us wouldn't and for protecting the freedoms that so many of us take for granted. I can't tell you the reactions I get when I'm walking in the mall or downtown and I see a serviceperson in uniform and I simply smile and say "Thank you for your service." I can tell by their reactions that they don't hear it often enough. That's sad. Such a simple act of gratitude can have such a tremendous impact on a young person. Try it.

For those of you who are in the military or have family members and/or loved ones who are serving, today I found an excellent blog, A Greater Freedom that presents military news and commentary from a Christian perspective. And if you're the mother of a serviceperson, especially a daughter, be sure to read My Daughter Wears Army Boots.

I'd like to set up a special section here of knitting projects to support our men and women in the service. I hope to chose one for the next major SKM project after the Think Pink Challenge. If you know of any existing projects, please let me know.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

An honorable mention

Thanks to Terri K for making me aware that Soulful Knitting Ministries was mentioned in this week's edition of Sightings, an electronic newsletter published by the Marty Martin Center of the University of Chicago. The article is about knitting ministries and the author, Terren Ilana Wein does a beautiful job of eloquently describing what knitting ministries like this one are all about. Please be sure to check it out.

Silent heroes

It's been a little over a week since the press releases went out about Grace Bay House. Since that time, we've had 3 more Knitting Angels volunteer to help knit prayer shawls and several more people have contacted me about sending donations of yarn. Several bloggers have shared our story and posted links back to the website to help spread the word. Donations have started coming in as well. I am so grateful to everyone who is helping in any way.

But what's amazed me most is the outpouring of love and gratitude that I've been receiving from women whose lives have been scarred by sexual violence. It's been difficult to get used to the realization that nearly every women that I've talked to about Grace Bay House has had some personal experience with rape or molestation and in many cases, the victimization has been rampant in their families. It breaks my heart.

Women who've read an article in their local newspaper have called, not only to thank us for what we're doing, but to share their stories. In some cases, women have been sharing things with me, a total stranger, that they've never been able to tell another soul, not even after 30 or 40 years! They talk about trying to tell people that were close to them, but people just don't want to hear about it... It's too depressing, it wasn't really that bad, it's in the past, just let it go.

Every day I'm hearing stories of how these women (and in some cases young women) have had to suck it up, hold it in, smile on the outside when they want to scream on the inside, face their molester and pretend that everything's fine, go to school, go to work, raise their children, have a relationship with their husbands or significant others, all the while feeling like they are competely and utterly alone in their pain. These women are the true heroes. The ones who on a daily basis sacrifice their own needs in order to spare others the discomfort of knowing what really lies inside. What these women seem to need so desperately is simply someone to listen to their story and to empathize with their pain. Many know that despite everything that's happened to them, that God has not forgotten them.

I'm just beginning to understand why one of my dearest friends recently sent me a book which she said she hoped would help me as this ministry grows. It's called "Night Shift" by Dave Shive. It deals with the special challenges and opportunities inherent in being called to a ministry that deals with some of life's darkest moments. The title reminds me of how most people don't want to work the "graveyard shift". It's dark when you go to work and usually dark when you leave, there aren't as many people there, it's lonely to know that you're working when most of the world is sleep. But there are rewards. I believe that God does some of His best work on the night shift. It's so much easier to see the light when you're surrounded by darkness. I don't know why God called me for the night shift, but I will do my best to be obedient.

Yesterday I saw a beautiful example of God's hand in this ministry at work. I went to get my hair done. Because my hair dresser's car wouldn't start, she was an hour late getting there. I usually take a book with me in case I have to wait, but this time, I took a prayer shawl I was knitting. Since the shop had just opened, things were pretty quiet and during the time I was waiting, I had the opportunity to talk to 2 other stylists who were curious about what I was knitting. I explained to them the significance of the shawls and about Grace Bay House. One at a time, they both shared with me their stories of the sexual abuse they had lived through as children and the tragic impact it had had on them and their families.

About an hour later, while one of the stylists was doing another person's hair, I happened to be looking at her when she shivered. She stopped, turned around towards me and said "Oh my goodness. God just gave me a song to give you." She showed me the goosebumps on her arm. She asked her customer to excuse her for a few minutes and she went to her car and came back with a CD. She dragged a tv/dvd from the back of the salon, plugged it in, and then played "The Real Me" by Natalie Grant. While the song was playing, she sang along, with the voice of an angel. There wasn't a dry eye around.

I'd never heard of the song, or Natalie Grant for that matter, but the minute I heard the song, I knew why God wanted me to hear it. Here are the lyrics from

foolish heart looks like we're here again
same old game of plastic smile
don't let anybody in
hiding my heartache, will this glass house break
how much will they take before i'm empty
do i even let it show, does
anybody know?

but you see the real me
hiding in my skin,
broken from within
unveil me completely
i'm loosening my grasp
there's no need to mask my frailty
cause you see the real me

painted on, life is behind the mask
self-inflicted circus clown
i'm tired of the song and dance
living a charade, always on parade
what a mess i've made of my existence
but you love me even now
still i see somehow


wonderful, beautiful is what you see
when you look at me
you're turning the tattered fabric of my life into
a perfect tapestry
i just wanna be me


and you
love me just as i am

wonderful, beautiful is what you see
when you
look at me

I bought the CD and will play this song during every rape recovery workshop at Grace Bay House.

Have a blessed day.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Another point of view

Up to this point, all of the comments I've received about this ministry, both on this blog and elsewhere, have been loving, supportive, kind and gracious. Thanks to everyone who has offered support in so many ways.

Today I received two comments that expressed another point of view. Because I like to think of myself as an equal opportunity blogger, all opinions are respected here and I have re-posted those comments here. Because both posters posted anonymously, I am unable to respond to them personally, but it occurred to me that there may be others who might benefit from both the comments and my replies.

First, concerning the sale of our prayer shawls as a fundraiser for Grace Bay House, I received the following comment:

"It's beautiful but I don't think shawls should be sold! That was not the intent of the originators of this particular ministry. Find another way to raise your funds."

As a point of clarification, we are in the process of raising funds to purchase Grace Bay House. For those who may be unaware, the purpose of Grace Bay House is to provide 4-day rape recovery workshops for women who have been sexually assaulted, and to enable these women to stay at Grace Bay House during these workshops at no charge to them. Please understand that the people who are purchasing these shawls are fully aware that 100% of the proceeds of their purchases are being donated to Grace Bay Charities and that's why they are purchasing the shawls. When Grace Bay House opens, all retreat guests will receive one of these prayer shawls at no charge.

Nonetheless, this does raise an interesting point. I'd be interested to hear what other readers have to say. And of course, if you or other readers have other fundraising suggestions, by all means, please let us know as we are always open to fresh ideas and new methods and we have a very aggressive fundraising goal with a short time frame in which to meet it.
Another vistor left the following post:
I think your cause is well thought out and very worthy.

My problem comes with the question of religion. I don't practice Christianity, and often find that those who do can be quite exclusionary. We each find God in our own way, and for me there are far too many "Christian fill-in-the-blanks." I think you are a good woman with a good cause, I have contributed before, but I find this a bit overwhelming.
First of all, thank you so much for your contributions and your support. You have no idea of the impact contributions such as yours are having on women that I'm meeting every single day as a result of this ministry. I agree with you completely that there are some people who call themselves "Christians" who act like anything but that. That's sad because it makes it so much more difficult for the rest of us. Make no mistake, I'm not perfect, however, I do strive to have a perfect heart towards this ministry and the women we are reaching out to.

It makes me sad that religion is even an issue with this project because rapists do not discriminate. Gender, age, income, social status, physical appearance, race and even religion have no bearing on who becomes a victim. Likewise, Grace Bay Charities makes no such distinctions about the women we are called to serve. The women we are reaching out to come from all walks of life and while they may have notable differences, they all share a common painful past. The bottom line is that Grace Bay Charities needs everyone's help because it is through your financial support, your love and your prayers that these women are beginning to see the light at the end of a very, very dark tunnel.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

6 Degrees of Separation (or less)

This morning I was reminded of 6 Degrees of Separation. Do you remember that series of credit card commercials with Kevin Bacon? Or that great movie starring Will Smith, Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing? For those of you who may not, six degrees of separationis the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries.

The memory came to me while I was praying for Grace Bay House and asking God why more people haven't come forward to help yet. Before I go on, let me first say thank you to everyone who has contributed so far, in any way. No contribution is too small and I am so grateful for each and every one of them. That said, the truth is that there is so much more that could be done.

I know that we are kind and generous people, the outpouring of support after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina prove that. So I know that simple apathy is not the issue. Perhaps it's easy to recognize the utter "randomness" in huge catastrophic events and make the "there but by the grace of God go I" connection. So I started thinking that may the reason people aren't feeling an urgency to support Grace Bay House is because they don't believe that rape affects them so this project doesn't even hit their radar screens.

So here's where the 6 degree theory comes in... Think of 6 women you know and love... your mother, your sister, your daughter, your co-worker, your best friend. The sad truth is that 1 in 6 American women have been victims of sexual violence and another women is raped every 2.5 minutes in America alone! If you are not one of the six, thank God. But if it's not you, whether you are aware of it or not, the chances are extremely high that someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, or will be.

If you knew which woman it was, would you think about her more compassionately? Would you be more empathetic of her pain? If there was even a small way that you could help her begin to feel healthy and whole again would you try? There is a way you can help.

How much money have you spent this year alone on yarn, on manicures or pedicures, on gourmet coffee, on movie rentals? Isn't there one indulgence that you could give up for one month to help make a difference in someone else's life?

I challenge every person that reads this post to please prayerfully consider making your best donation, TODAY. No matter how much or how little you give, the fact that YOU GAVE will make a difference! Thank you in advance for your support and I ask for your continued prayers for this project.
Have a blessed day!