Saturday, September 30, 2006

Another Think Pink Update

Remind me not to go away again before the Think Pink Challenge is over in a few weeks. I spent the entire afternoon opening packages and boxes and logging scarves - a total of 153 that arrived over the past week! For an update, visit the Think Pink Challenge blog.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A real life Princess

This morning on CNN I saw a heartwarming story about Sarah Culberson, a 28-year-old woman whose search to find her birth parents led her to discover that she is an African princess. Sarah's journey doesn't end with the vast wealth that we usually associate with "royalty", it begins with a startling discovery of her passion, her ministry... to help make life better for the residents of the small village in Sierra Leone where her father is chief. If you want to read an inspiring story of how each and every one of can make a difference, visit Sarah's website.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Meaning of Ministry

I used to think that “ministers” where those solemn men (and women) who stood behind the pulpit and preached on Sunday mornings. They were a very special breed – to be respected, revered, and maybe even awed a little. They were the ones who had ministries. It wasn’t until much much later in life that I began to understand that the word “ministry” refers to an act or instance of ministering, or “service”. In other words, it’s something that each of us can do, if only we’re willing to open our eyes and our hearts enough to see where there’s a need, and then to make a commitment to helping in any way we can.

Each of us has been given a unique set of gifts and experiences. Sometimes our ministry is readily apparent to us, whether we chose to act on that knowledge or not. Other times, it requires a little thought and a lot of prayer to determine how we can help.

I believe that there is no such thing as a small or insignificant ministry. Certainly there are huge ones, like Joyce Meyer and Paula White, but those are only examples of the countless ways that ordinary people are performing extraordinary acts of service every day.

I’ve recently learned of a wonderful example of how one kind and generous woman is making a big difference in the lives of others. Beth lives in Asheville, NC. In 2004, she spent 11 stressful days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of her local hospital, praying for her infant son who was being cared for there. Last spring, God placed it on Beth’s heart to knit and after teaching herself how, she’s now knitting up a storm and doing something remarkable with her newfound talent.

Last December, Beth taught her first knitting class – in the NICU where her son spent his first days. Unlike the “traditional” nursery knitting, God told Beth to do something different. Rather than knitting FOR the moms who are sitting in the same place she sat for what must have seemed like eternity just a few years ago, Beth now knits WITH them. As Beth explained to me, “the NICU is a quiet but tense place, which provides the perfect opportunity for Satan to fill these mom’s heads with doubts, fears and false guilt.” By teaching them to knit, Beth’s prayer is that they will be occupied so that they won’t have time to listen to him.

Right now, Beth is a one-woman show. She provides the needles, yarn, printed instructions and patterns, all out of her own pocket. She prints the invitations and personally hangs them on all 50 beds in the NICU. She is the only teacher. She needs our help. Beth is in need of #8 knitting needles, worsted weight yarn (acrylic only as per the hospital’s request – very sensitive babies!) and financial donations to help defray her costs.

God has also placed it on my heart to ask if there are others who might be interested in starting a similar ministry in the NICU of your local hospital. What Beth is doing is wonderful, and it’s something that’s needed in hospitals across the country. Imagine the impact on these mothers, their precious babies, the overworked hospital staff...

For more information, or to make a donation, please contact Beth directly:

Beth Ingersoll
20 Timber Nook
Candler NC 28715

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sometimes less is more

Last night I found myself in a bit of a funk. A got an e-mail from a friend and faithful supporter of SKM to let me know that there had been some questions raised at a popular knitting message board where she had posted a reminder about the Think Pink Challenge. I expected questions like "When is the drop-dead deadline?" or "Who will be receiving the scarves", but instead the posts were really comments about the usefulness of the entire project. One knitter, a breast cancer survivor, wrote "I don't need a pink scarf. I need a cure."

I'll be honest and admit that my first thoughts were angry ones. But they were quickly replaced with sad ones. I can't imagine what it must be like to be so bitter that you can't see the goodness in the hearts of strangers who are simply trying to let you know that they care. This project is completely voluntary, none of the countless women from all over the country who have enthusiastically donated their time and talents to create so many beautiful pink scarves were forced to do so. Similarly, none of the intended recipients of these gifts are forced to accept them. So why, I ask, is it necessary to diminish or demean the simple acts of kindness of others? My grandma used to have a saying... "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything."

Initially, I felt a need to respond to these posts, particularly because my friend who'd submitted the post sent another one informing the other commenters that she had forwarded the link from this thread to me. And, in fact, after much thought, I did craft what I thought was a very *diplomatic* reply. Yes, in retrospect, I realize that in my reply, I was defending our work and *apologizing* if I offended anyone. I added that I'd given several scarves, prayer shawls, afghans and other knitted items to people who were sick over the years and without fail, they had all been delighted and thankful to receive them. I even added that I too had had a personal encounter with breast cancer and that I was so appreciative of the people, both friends and strangers, who expressed their love and concern in so many ways, both big and small. In those darkest days, the loving kindness of friends and strangers alike was much more important to me than the knowledge that they'd sent a check on my behalf to the American Cancer Society.

However, my post was lost in cyberspace when I hit the Submit button and I couldn't get it back. At that moment I realized that it was just as well. Perhaps it was God's way of telling me that not all questions need to be answered and not all criticisms need to be defended. Those who are trying to do good would never get anything done if they spent all their time defending themselves to those who just don't "get it". So, I thanked God for teaching me an important lesson and turned my computer off for the night.

This morning, I went to the local hospital for my weekly volunteering. I'm so blessed that I get to sit in the surgery waiting room for 4 hours a week and knit while assisting the families who are waiting for loved ones. Almost without fail, my knitting always opens the doors to all kinds of conversations, the opportunity to share the work of this ministry, and sometimes, even the chance to share examples of God's goodness...All that while I'm knitting too! It doesn't get much better. :)

This morning, as I was saying good-bye to the OR nurses, 2 that I'd never seen before noticed the pink scarf I was knitting and asked what I was doing. I told them about the Think Pink Challenge and nearly started crying when the both started telling me how awesome and amazing this project was. They said that as OR nurses, they see women come in all the time who are so scared and confused and even angry. These women often feel like God and the whole world has forgotten about them. The nurses said that this project was a wonderful way to show these women that people care about them, are praying for them, and are supporting them in this struggle. One of the nurses said that she was certain that these pink scarves would be "worn like loving hugs" by the women who receive them.

At that point I was so thankful that I wasn't able to send that reply last night. I didn't need to. Isn't it amazing how God has a way of giving us just what we need just when we need it?