A Story of Grace

I was asked to speak at our FL church for a stewardship moment. It is at the very beginning of the service immediately after the announcements. If it doesn’t come up, it was Nov. 27 ~ click the “watch” button.

http://www.moorings-presby.org/archive-services.html#

For a second time, my testimonial was called “A Story of Grace” by others. It is.

We all receive blessing. Shalom, Collene

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A Challenge & Van Gogh: First Anniversary

Yesterday marked the first year anniversary of our amazing Van Gogh. Because of the gifts of NMEDA and the adaptation of BraunAbility and Clock Mobility to our Toyota Sienna, we have been blessed with a year of closer-to-normal abilities to get in the VAN and GOgh.

In the second half of that year, I have written the manuscript of an information text (children’s book) which is written from the voice of a child in the preschool years though HS graduation facing mobility challenges. The various, growing children (male/female; many physical causes; all races) are tackling and accomplishing many day-to-day as well as atypical tasks with the attitude of Sure, I Can. My challenge for this summer has been to find a publisher who will take a look at this manuscript and, hopefully, decide that it is worthy of publication. I know this is a concern of families of children who are impacted and holds a powerful message for all educators and all people who come into contact with persons with mobility challenges. (Read: everyone!!) I need an illustrator and a publisher. I know they are out there. We just need to get connected.

Just this week I learned about a young grandchild of precious friends who has one of the diseases addressed in Sure, I Can and will be facing mobility challenges. This is a message his parents, siblings, and those who love him need to read.

God Moments 1 ~ Mini

At the 2-year mark, post accident I decided it was time to share a bit more of the first days, week, and months, given the years of reflection and the healing of time. I decided I would do that through many God Moments that helped uphold us. However, a celebration blog and other important projects kept me from getting to those blogs. I’m now moved to start those but I’m kicking this off with a present-day one, and then I’ll periodically bring out the earlier ones.

This Sunday morning began with the local weather news showing a nasty band of storms with intense lightning strikes heading our way and projecting to hit just the time we typically leave for church. Remember, being in a wheelchair, which requires two hands for propelling my chariot, leaves NO hands for umbrella protection from rain so rain typically dictates we stay inside. Well, by time we were both ready for church, we had missed the window for getting to Van Gogh before the rain began. This wasn’t just a MI rain storm. This was coming down in torrents. Sitting by our open condo door, I determined I needed to stay home but just then, it slowed a tad so we decided to head out. I was most thankful for our incredible condo board members here who, despite already having the ADA required access to the raised entry sidewalk, recognized that it was across a large, open, exposed parking lot. They took it upon themselves after my accident to add a second ramp which allows me to get between the raised sidewalk to our garage with only a very short area without a covered walk and exposure to the elements, i.e. soaking rain.

Once we arrived at church, we secured one of the coveted van/ramp, blue slashes, accessible parking spots and decided to wait 15-20 minutes hoping for the rain to slow. It was getting close to the start of church and the rain let up only a bit but my husband exited Van Gogh, raised the huge golf umbrella, and came around to where the ramp comes down. The look on his face changed but was unreadable to me. I pushed the button to lower the ramp and realized his look. The water right where the ramp landed was in about 3-4 inches of fast flowing water. A quick look down at my wheels assured me that the wheels would hold me above the water, even if not the hand rims, so down I went and continued to move through the falling rain rather than sit in the rushing water while Alan pushed the button to raise the ramp and close the van door. I looked up to see two angels walking toward me from church in the form of two friends holding their own huge, golf umbrellas. They were able to keep me from getting soaked between the van and the door overhang. Mini God Moment.

As was typical, the service was worshipful and harmonized from the words of preparation through the postlude. The final message in the series on Nehemiah, Restoring Purpose, the Power of Rubble Restored, reminded me of my focus word this year, purpose. Our minister of music and his (guest) brother added richness with their musical talents on piano, organ, blended voice, and trumpet. They sang the hymn of response, Blessings by L. Story, as a dialogue between a typical person’s words and God’s response.

Revised chorus text:

Your blessings come through rain drops. (just this morning)

Your healing comes through tears. (many in the last two+ years)

A thousand sleepless nights (can’t count the number my husband has had)

Are what it takes to know I’m near.

 

Person’s voice in final verse:

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life

Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy.

What if trials of this life

The rain, the storms, the hardest nights

Are your mercies in disguise.

 

Watch for your disguised blessings.

Shalom: May all be well, Collene

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Creative Problem Solving: Partner Work

Wheel cover closeWheel_Table_Cockpit_Teak cupholder_InstrumentsRaftOffThere was a time I sewed most of my clothes. No one knew unless they were an accomplished seamstress themself and noticed telltale signs such as the plaids all matched. I knew which patterns fit me best. Butterick was first, followed by McCall’s, but Simplicity was better for a taller, thinner seamstress. Vogue seemed to have more complicated and sophisticated patterns. I knew to adjust the pattern and shorten it about a ½” to ¾” between the waist and hips so it fit me well. I designed and made my own wedding dress. I modeled it later in a fashion show and was asked to rent it out. (No) I took a couple tailoring classes and made dress pants for my husband. Occasionally, I made coordinating outfits for our young sons – coordinating, not matching. I recall one with marine blue shorts and multiple, primary colored, striped knit for the shirts. I made myself a skirt with a sailboat applique in the same fabric. We looked so fresh and nautical, of course.

Once a busy family and full time work were our focus, sewing became relegated to repair projects. With our sailboat in The Chesapeake Bay, the intense UV rays eventually took their toll on canvass and thread. A few years ago, the canvass and sails needed some repairs so I borrowed a heavy-duty sewing machine designed for sailors. As a paraplegic, I no longer sail but when our sailboat was launched this year, my husband mentioned that the seam on the wheel cover ripped and needed repair. I told him to bring it home and I’d give it a look. Well, stitch-in-time-saves-nine was not utilized. I realized it was simply a matter of the sun’s UV rays destroying the thread. The French seam hadn’t ripped; it has simply separated for about a 4’ length. It was a simple fix – if one had a foot to control the electric sewing machine pedal and two free hands to maneuver the fabric into place.

You need to picture the wheel cover. On a 36’ sailboat, the helm station is mounted on a stainless steel, tubular tower 5’+ tall. It holds the compass, several navigational aid monitors, GPS & radar charts, and the steering wheel which has about a 4’ diameter. There is a teak, 4-cup holder mounted high on the stand, opposite of the wheel. Best to keep the crew hydrated while sailing and the water bottles or soda secure. Below that we added a teak table which we could raise perpendicular to the floor, with sidepieces that fold out on hinges so our family of 4 could eat once we were back in port. It was a wonderful set-up for our decades of family sailing in Lake Michigan. Of course, sailing The Bay in more recent years, with regular raft-offs, the setup served well for happy hour as well. My point in the description is that the cover for this is a pretty large, fairly heavy, cylindrical piece of Captain Navy, Sunbrella fabric. When I was an in-patient in Mary Free Bed Rehab Hospital, I made a pillow cover in recreation therapy. I used the power, foot pedal on the table to the right of the sewing machine so I could power up with my right hand and guide the fabric with my left. Sewing those four straight seams on the pillow seemed quite simple even when compared to the kitchen towel and skirt I made in first year 4H. However, much of adjusting to new ways of doing things is the opportunity to try it out and give one the encouragement and confidence to take on a project, making any necessary adjustments as they come along. I made a pillow! Whoo-hoo. Why not take on the wheel cover repair project.

My husband and I decided we could handle this project between the two of us. I pinned the fabric back into place for the French seam, closing the 4’+ gap. I placed a hard, flat surface between the layers of fabric on my lap so I could carefully, neatly, and securely hand-baste the fabric in place without catching the backside by mistake.

Alan got out the portable sewing machine and placed it on our dining room table. I was delighted to notice that I had a large spool of heavy-duty, Captain Navy, thread and special needles for extra heavy fabric left from supplies I had bought when we borrowed our friends’ sail, sewing machine. We were going to be in great shape. I filled the bobbin and threaded the machine. I moved the foot pedal to the right side of the sewing machine and my husband and I wrestled the fabric under the sewing arm and needle to where it belonged. Since Alan had never used a sewing machine, we talked through how he would help me guide the fabric and keep it away from getting caught under the needle or moving mechanism. This would be an unwieldy project but we had a plan. I explained my goal in keeping the various sides of the pressure foot specifically where on the seam. The fabric was so heavy that I needed my right hand on the power foot and my left hand temporarily pushing the flywheel to get it started. Once running, we used our three hands to guide and move the competed fabric out of the way. In this manner, we managed to stitch along the right side first and then the left side, topstitching the French seam as intended. They were far from the straightest seams I had ever sewn and I wouldn’t have gotten a top rating in 4H at the local, county fair, but who really notices navy thread on navy fabric when you’re on a sailboat anyway, right? This was special thread designed to be resistant to the sun damage and it would hold for years to come. We had accomplished our goal! It definitely took teamwork and some creativity but isn’t that what life is about anyway? Mission accomplished!

Count your blessing, especially the little ones.

Shalom, Collene