Saturday, February 25, 2006

Weekly Word for Feb. 25th, 2006

We want to let you know that Debbie & Ted have taken a little bit of time off to visit family, as well as get unpacked and re-organized. A new Weekly Word will be back on March 17th. Please feel free to check out some of the archived stories until Debbie is back.

We wish to thank each and everyone of you for your prayers and support. May the Lord bless you, and keep you, until we meet here again . . .

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good - to those who love God, . . . (Romans 8: 28)

“There must be a reason why things happened the way they did” were the words I heard on the other end of the phone. It wasn’t the first time I had heard those words - these past few days. Each time I heard the words, I just nodded and agreed with the person. But as I heard them again - I wanted to scream in to that phone! Nothing had gone the way I thought it would - and the stress had finally hit me. I wanted to know the reasons! Why had we had gone through so much - - - Why had it all happened?

If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, . . . Even there - Your hand shall lead me, . . . And Your right hand shall hold me.
(Psalm 139: 9 & 10)

A friend had told us about the apartment. It was much bigger, and cost less than what we were paying here. But still, we weren’t sure that we wanted to move. But they kept telling us all the good reasons that we should move - and so we went to go see it. On our way there, Ted and I were sure we wouldn’t like it. We had decided that we would just look at it and tell the person “no”. But that isn’t what happened. We walked around the apartment, and saw all the holes in the walls and paint peeling from the ceilings. But for some reason - we liked it! I can’t even tell you why - but we did! So right then and there, we said “yes” to moving.

Over the next few months, we packed our stuff up a little at a time. We thought about the new place as a bigger and cheaper place to live. We even started to think about getting a newer car with the money we would be saving. Everything seemed so good. But as the time drew nearer, I found myself worrying about the move. I wasn’t sure about anything - as the family still hadn’t moved out of the place. Our own little apartment had been rented out to a new family - and I worried that we wouldn’t have a place to move in to at the end of the month. I kept on packing, and praying, and worrying. I didn’t know what else to do . . . .

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are mine.”
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you . . .
For I am the Lord your God”
(Isaiah 43: 1)

“Debbie, I am so sorry . . .” were the first words I heard - as everything started to unravel. The apartment was in worse condition than anyone had expected, and in a matter of days, the owner had gutted it. As Ted and I stood looking around - we didn’t know what to do. We didn’t have a place to live! My stomach was in knots and I thought for sure I would be sick. How could this have happened? Ted and I prayed every day - why hadn’t God told us about this? What were we supposed to do now?

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you . . .

The next few days were a blur, as I searched the newspapers and yellow pages for apartments and rentals. Ted and I prayed and prayed - hoping for a miracle - and wondering if we were going to be homeless!

“There must be a reason why things happened the way they did” those were the words that I heard again and again - over the next few days. When I finally told our landlady what happened, she asked us if we wanted to stay. Sobbing, I told her “yes”. Looking around our apartment - I realized how much it really did feel like “home”. But the last few days and weeks had left their mark. As I started to unpack, I felt the pain shooting through my neck and shoulders . . .

There must be a reason - - - I have to admit - I don’t always know why the tough things happen - to so many of us . . .

“When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.
For I am the Lord your God, . . .”
(Isaiah 43: 2)

A few years ago, in 2004 actually, Ted and I were living in a town called Yantic. It was February, and the neighboring duplex was empty and being demolished. The noise from the work had gotten the best of me - and so I had decided to go see Ted at his work. As I got in the car, I remember thinking about how much I loved him - and the comfort that I found in his arms. Those arms were what I was thinking about as I sat at the red light. And then I don’t remember what I thought about next - as the airbag hit my face and gun powder filled the car. Coughing and choking, I got out of the car. As I stood there I the middle of the road, I wondered what had happened. People stared at me as I stood there crying, but no one stopped to help. That was the day when I first injured my neck and back!

“There must be a reason why” - - - I never did figure out why my airbag went off that day. The car was inspected, and still there wasn’t an answer. But the damage to my neck had happened. For the next year and a half, I saw doctors and physical therapists - hoping to get help for my neck and arm. The nerves in my spine were being crushed, and I was slowly losing the ability to use my right arm. All during this time, Ted and I prayed. We prayed for a miracle. We prayed for help. And then we prayed on the day I went in for surgery. On that day, full of fear, I put my life in not only the doctor’s hands - but the Lord’s hands as well . . .

“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
And you will seek Me and find Me, When you search for Me with all your heart.”
(Jeremiah 29: 12 & 13)

Each and every one of us will face tough times, at one point or another, during our lives. We have the choice of how we will face those times. Each day, Ted and I pray - asking the Lord to “be with us” during that day. It doesn’t mean that we won’t have problems. It doesn’t mean that we won’t make mistakes. But in that day - He is there to help us through. We made a choice to rent that other apartment - and it was a mistake. Was the Lord still with us? Yes! He will always be with us - as long as we keep asking Him . . .

“There must be a reason why things happened the way they did” - The truth is, this isn’t a perfect world - and none of us are perfect either. My car was very old, and it’s airbag went off. My back was damaged - and so I needed help. We made a choice to move - and then needed help when it turned out to be a bad choice. But all along the way - God was “with us”. He was there when the surgeon opened up my spine and brought about healing to the area. He was there that day - when my old car’s system malfunctioned. And He is here today - helping me to get healthy and strong - where I overworked and hurt my back again.

The other day, Ted and I heard a new song by Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks. The song is called “Love Will Always Win”. The words are about the tough times - when it seems like the whole world is against us. They tell of not wanting to go through those times - but not being able to go around them. As we listened to the song - I felt Ted’s arms come around me. Sinking in to him, I felt the comfort I had been looking for. As he held me close he whispered - “It will be OK” - and I believed him. Together, with the Lord, we will be alright . . .

These are some of the words to the song “Love Will always Win”:

Walk on and our hearts will lead us
But our hearts will need us
To be steady and strong

We know that a rainbow waits
Beyond dark skies.

No way over it - No way around it - If we want it -
We have to go through it -
Fight for love.

And the world tries to break us down
But the world will bend - and the fight will end -
Love will always win

I wish I could say that I always made the right choices, and things were always wonderful. But the truth is, I make mistakes - we all do. But the Lord never makes a mistake - He always knows what is good for us. We just need to stop - and listen.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity - to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29: 11)

It is my hope and prayer that you will ask the Lord to walk with you - not only during the tough times - but every day that is before you. Will you say “yes” to living Life - making mistakes - and holding on tight to the Lord each step of the way . . .

“And behold, I am with you, and will keep you - wherever you go . . .”
(Genesis 28: 15)

God bless you this day, and all the days that are before you . . .

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Weekly Word for February 14, 2006

Weekly Word - February 14, 2005

“Put me like a seal over your heart, . . . For love is as strong as death, . . . It’s flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the Lord.”
(Song of Solomon 8:6)

Today is February 14th - it is Valentine’s Day! It is a day to celebrate love and joy. But for me, the day hadn’t started out very well at all! The morning had started out with coffee together, and trying to wake up. Ted had to be to work a little earlier than usual, so we both were a little tired. As we sat with our coffee, we sort of half-listened to the news. Ted was talking about work, and about his day ahead. But all I could think about was the new apartment we were going to be moving in to, in less than two weeks. We had walked through it the night before, hoping to make plans for what we needed - before we moved in. Now, as I sat trying to listen to Ted - I wasn’t sure I wanted to move in at all! Every hole, every piece of falling wallpaper, all that needed fixing - kept rolling around in my head! But it was Valentine’s Day, and I didn’t want to spoil the day. So, as Ted finally drove away this morning - I finally let the tears fall . . .

“Many waters cannot quench love, Nor will rivers overflow it;
If man were to give all the riches of his house for love, It would be utterly despised.”
(Song of Solomon 8:7)

As he drove away, I wished I didn’t feel like I did. I wanted to be happy. But I wasn’t! I was sad that we had to move again. As I went back into the house, I looked at what still needed packing. I looked at the books still in the book cases. There were videos and dvd’s still stacked under the television. And then I looked over at the stereo cabinet. Under the cd’s that still needed to be packed - were our records. They were records we both had collected through the years. Some were from when we were teen-agers. As I thought about them - I couldn’t help but think back - - - to times that seemed so long ago - or maybe only just yesterday . . .

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment. (Philippians 1: 9)

I had asked for a record player for my birthday. After all, I was going to be a teen-ager! I felt so grown-up at 13 years old! So on the day of my birthday party, I couldn’t help but be excited. All my relatives were coming over, and I wondered which one would bring the present I wanted so badly. As they came through the door, I checked out each present. I was sure the box my grandfather was carrying was it! But he only laughed when I asked him.

Waiting was not something I was good at! But they made me wait anyways! Everyone had to eat first, and the adults seemed to take pleasure in eating slowly! At least I thought they did! And then it was time for cake. And so I waited some more. As they finished singing “Happy Birthday”, they waited for me to make a wish and blow out the candles. My “wish” - was for my presents! But instead, we all ate cake. Now usually cake is the one thing I love the most at birthdays. But on this day - I wanted to open my presents . . .

Finally, it was time! I could open my presents. As I unwrapped my brand new portable record player, I was so happy! It was pink, and the lid opened up when you wanted to play your records. I didn’t have any records yet - but I was sure I would have some soon. Just then, my mother handed me a package that looked like it surely must be a record. As I took it, I couldn’t wait to open it! But as she handed it to me, she told me that it was from my grandfather, and only from him. He had gone out by himself, to buy me this present. So when I opened it, my first reaction was not something I wanted him to see. There in my hands was a record called: “A Wonderful World of Music and Fun for Children of all ages”. On the cover was the picture of the “Three Little Pigs” as well as the “Pied Piper”. As I held it in my hands, I wondered what to do. Didn’t he know that I was a teen-ager now? Didn’t he know that I liked “rock-and-roll”? So many emotions went through my head, but somehow I smiled and thanked my Grandpa - who was beaming at me with such love in his eyes . . .

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
(1 Corinthians 13: 4)

That night, I asked my mother why my grandfather would get me a record that was for a “little” girl. She just looked at me and shrugged. I never showed that record to any of my friends, but later that night - I played it on my brand new record player. After that, I hid it away. It was only a year later, when my grandfather died. I guess I always thought that maybe - just maybe - in my grandfather’s eyes - - - I was “his” little girl . . .

Love . . . Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; . . .
(1 Corinthians 13: 7 & 8)

As I put the record back, I pulled out another one. This one brought a memory that was very different. It was a Neil Diamond record, and I had gotten it when I was 14 years old. It was the summer that my grandfather had died. And I had gone to live with my grandmother on the Cape. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to be there. I had just gotten a part time job with my friends, and I wanted to spend the summer with them. But it didn’t matter - my mother had made up her mind - and I was to live with my Nana.

Nana was always talking to Grandpa. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t really there in the room - she just would talk to him. As I would come into the room, she would turn away - and then turn back and tell me a story. It would be stories about her and Grandpa. She would tell me about how they met, or the things they liked to do. She would tell me about how they eloped, and that her cousin and her best friend were the only people there. Little by little, I got to know my grandmother.

She treated me differently than my parents did. She listened to me, and I felt like I was someone special. So when she bought me the record, she took me upstairs and showed me Grandpa’s record player. She told me I could go up there any time I wanted to. And I did. I would go upstairs and put on my record - and just spend time alone. When I was lonely or sad, I would go upstairs and play my record. I listened to songs like “Cracklin Rose” or “Soolaimon” - and dreamed of places far, far away. It was here that I dreamed of the boyfriends I hoped to have, or the things I wanted to do.

It was that summer - living with my grandmother, and playing that record over and over - that helped me learn a little bit more - - - about me . . .

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully - just as I also have been fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13: 12)

As I continued to look through the records, I looked for one particular record - one that I had bought myself. It was a record that had a love song on it. I had bought it because I wanted to “fix” my marriage. I remember the day I brought it home. My marriage was always a difficult one, but for some reason - I still had hope. So on this day, when my husband came home, I put the record on. The kids were gone, and I asked him if he would dance with me. He gave me a strange look, but decided to humor me. As we swayed back and forth (we weren’t very good dancers) I sang the words to him. As I did, I knew that they didn’t say what we had - but what I hoped we could find. When the song ended, I stopped. He looked at me a bit confused. And then he turned and walked away.

We stayed married for a few more years, until the day I left. Now, as I looked through the stack of records, I couldn’t find the record - anywhere. It was gone, just like the marriage . . .

But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13: 13)

Music and memories - they have gone hand in hand in my life. As I continued to think about the different times in my life, it seemed that music was always a part of it. Looking through the stack of records, it seemed like my life was right there - in the music . . .

Last week was our anniversary. Ted and I were married five years ago. On that very special day, right after we said our vows to each other, we danced. We danced to a song called: “The Gift” by Jim Brickman. These are the words:

All I want is to hold you forever
All I need is you more every day
You saved my heart
From being broken apart
You gave your love away
And I’m thankful every day
For the gift

The gift - That is what I feel I have been given - as Ted’s wife. As I think about this day - Valentine’s Day - I realize that each day that we are together - is a gift to us both. We had both felt the pain of a broken heart. We had both been hurt in our lives. But in loving each other, our hearts have been healed of so much.

Looking around the room again, I wiped away my tears. This move wasn’t going to be easy. But we had both faced hard times before. This time though - we had each other - and the Lord - to hold on to.

For love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God . . . For God is love.
(1 John 4: 7 & 8)

Through the years, I have been surprised by the gifts of love that I have been given. They have come along, when I least expected it. They are the gifts that have lasted - not just for a lifetime - - - but forever . . .
The other day, Jenny gave me a cd for my birthday. It had a song on it that I love. The song is: “You’re Gonna Be” by Reba McEntire. The song tells about a mother’s hopes and feelings for her child. These are some of the words:

You’re gonna fly with every dream you chase
You’re gonna cry, but know that that’s okay

We just have to believe things work out like they should
Life has no guarantees, but always loved by me
You’re gonna be
Always loved by me

The song tells the hopes and love I have for my children. It is the same love my grandparents had for me. And it is the love that Ted and I share - walking this road together. It is also my wish for you. That you will allow yourself to hope, to dream, and to love. When you do - your life will change - forever . . .

God bless you on this very special day - a day to celebrate Love!

And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
(1 John 4: 16)

In His Perfect Love,

Debbie & Ted Ayers

Friday, February 03, 2006

Weekly Word for Feb. 3, 2006

Weekly Word - February 3, 2005

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!”
“For I am the Lord your God, . . .”
(Isaiah 43: 1 & 3)

There was a knock at the door, and so looking up from what I was doing, I asked whoever was there to - “come in”. As the door opened, our neighbor came into our apartment. Ted was sitting on the couch watching the television, while I was sitting in my big, comfy chair crocheting. I had stopped when she had walked in, and so now I sat holding my needle - waiting to hear what she wanted. She opened her mouth to say something, but stopped before any words could come out. She was looking at what I was working on. “That’s so beautiful!” she said. “Is it for anyone special?” I nodded my head, and she looked a bit disappointed. She then told us what she had originally meant to say - and then she turned to leave. As she did - she looked at what I was making one more time. “But it’s my colors” she said. Smiling at her, I could only shake my head as she finally left. I knew who I was making this for - someone very special. As I looked down at what I was making, I thought back through the years - to other gifts - and other times . . .

“Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, . . . Do not fear, for I am with you;”
(Isaiah 43: 4 & 5)

I was going to have a baby! My little belly was too small for most people to notice - but as I told my Nana about the baby - she touched my belly and smiled. I had asked her to help me. I wanted to make a baby blanket - something that was just from me - for my baby. We didn’t know if it was going to be a girl or a boy - so we picked colors that could be for both. I decided the blanket would have yellow, blue, and pink in it. The blanket was going to be made of small squares that would be put together later on. Each square had yellow around the outside, and a pink or blue rose in the middle. So with Nana sitting beside me, I started making the blanket.

As my belly grew, the bag with all the squares in it - didn’t grow quite as fast. I really wanted to do a good job, but I was having trouble finding the time to work on it. I worked all day at an insurance company, and when I got home at night I was exhausted. The week-ends were spent looking for a house, and getting ready to move. When I did find some time, my work came slowly, as I was still learning how to crochet. So on this day, as I sat down to rest, I watched the baby moving inside my stomach. As I watched - I saw a little foot sticking out. I was so amazed - it looked so perfect! Putting my hand where the tiny foot had been, I knew I already loved this baby! I had so many hopes and dreams for it. The blanket was just the beginning of all that I wanted to give to this new little life . . .

“Before I formed you in the womb - I knew you, And before you were born - I consecrated you; . . .”
(Jeremiah 1: 5)

Mikey was born on June 19th. Somehow I finished his blanket just before he was born. As I laid him in his little cradle, I put the blanket over this tiny new life. As I looked down at him, he looked so perfect! And so did that little blanket I had made for him.

That was the very first blanket I made. I have made quite a few since that day, almost 29 years ago. Each one, is as different - as unique - as the person I have given them to . . .

The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”
(Jeremiah 31:3)

Her family had just moved in next door, and her mother had asked if I would watch her before and after school. She was only 5, and the oldest of three little girls. She had huge brown eyes - that seemed so sad when she looked at you. She was tiny in size, and I immediately loved her! Each morning she would run from her house, gasping a little as she ran inside. She never said very much, but headed upstairs to play for a little while with Jenny’s dolls and toys. I would make her some breakfast along with Mike and Jen’s breakfast - and then I would get them all off to school. As she left, she always gave me a hug, and off she went.

Then one day, she asked if I would make her a blanket like Jenny’s. I had made each of my children blankets to match their rooms. Mike’s blanket was blue and white, while Jenny’s was purple and pink. Each blanket had taken months to crochet. So I wasn’t really sure what to tell her. But soon I found myself checking out yarn, and thinking about what colors to use. Every day I would work on “Leelee’s” blanket when she wasn’t around. That was the nickname we gave her - Leelee! I decided her blanket should be all pinks with a little bit of white - and so I started on her special surprise.

It took a few months, but finally I finished it. I wrapped it up, and waited for the next morning when she would be there. She seemed happy, when she opened it, but I really didn’t know what she thought. She was always so quiet and shy. So as she stuffed it into her backpack, I hugged her and got her ready for school. As she left that day, I couldn’t help but wonder about this little one. I wanted her to be happy, but she seemed so sad all the time.

“I have chosen you and not rejected you, Do not fear, for I am with you; . . . I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, . . .”
(Isaiah 41: 9 & 10)

I didn’t see that blanket again, until many years later. Leelee would come over to play with Jen, and I would see her outside riding her bike or just playing in the neighborhood. Her mom didn’t need me to babysit any more, but I still worried about her. As the kids were getting older, I saw less and less of Leelee. Then - about a year or two ago - Jenny told me about that blanket. She had named it “Mrs. Gardner” - after me. That was my name before I met Ted. The blanket went everywhere with her. As Jen told me about it, she looked at me a little strangely. “Don’t you know mom?” she asked. “Leelee loved you. You and the blanket - were her strength, her security - when things were bad at home . . .”

“Do not fear,- - - for I am with you; . . .”

I have made so many blankets through the years. Sometimes I know “who” I am making the blanket for ahead of time. And sometimes - well, the blanket is made first - and somehow “fits” the person . . .

It was just about 20 years ago, and my husband at the time was very sick. He couldn’t eat, and slowly was losing weight. At times, he couldn’t even swallow water. Jen and Mike were only 4 and 8 at the time, and they really didn’t understand what was happening. We had just moved to Connecticut - and so all our relatives and friends were living very far away. Going back and forth between doctors and hospitals, our lives felt so out of control. And that’s when I made the biggest blanket I ever crocheted!

I picked a yarn that was called “variegated”. It was a mixture of browns, off white and white. It fit how I felt - confused and afraid. I feverishly worked on that blanket, while he went through tests and doctors visits. As the doctors tried to dilate his esophagus, I crocheted in the waiting room. And on the day they took him in for surgery, that blanket kept me company. As the hours ticked by, the blanket got bigger. After he came out of surgery, I sat beside his bed - still crocheting. He had tubes and monitors everywhere - and nervously I tried to ignore how afraid I was. That blanket seemed to symbolize that time in our lives - it was ugly, and huge, and it became our “family” blanket - sitting on top of our couch for years . . .

“For I am with you,” declares the Lord, “to save you;”
“For I will restore you to health - and I will heal you of your wounds,” declares the Lord,
(Jeremiah 30: 11 & 17)

There have been blankets I have made - out of love. And then there are blankets I have made - because of other emotions . . .

It was June, 1996 - and I had just left my husband. It seemed like all I wanted to do was cry, but I couldn’t - I needed to be strong and take care of my daughter. We had moved to a city where I knew no one, and so I asked Jen if she wanted to go shopping. We had been told about a small strip-mall just down the way, and soon we were parked and going inside. We walked through the mall looking at clothes in one store, and puppies being sold in another. And then we went in to a small store that carried household goods and home furnishings - - - and yarn! As I stood looking at all the different colors, I wanted some! I wanted to get some yarn, and crochet. That summer I made a blanket. It had reds and blues in it. And as I worked on it, I could feel the emotions going into the blanket I was making. All the hurts and pain - went into that blanket. All the love that somehow seemed lost - went there as well. When I didn’t know what else to do with “me” - I crocheted. And when it was done - I gave that blanket to my ex-husband. That blanket held all the emotions from years of hurts - as well as the love I felt - for this man who I couldn’t live with anymore . . .

“For I will restore you to health - and I will heal you of your wounds,”

And I will heal you of your wounds . . . He did! The Lord healed my wounds - and He restored my life to me! Since that time, almost 10 years ago, my life has been filled with so many blessings! I have a wonderful husband who loves me - I have children and grandchildren who I adore - and a life that I love!

As I sit here looking at the blanket before me, I can’t help but smile. Making it, has been easy for me. Because this blanket is for a very special friend. It is for one of my “best” friends. The main color is a soft beige. And then there is deep blue along with hints of burgundy and green. The blanket feels so warm and also vibrant - just like my friend. It is a gift to celebrate his life - and our friendship . . .

For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16: 7)

Over the years, it seems that I have made quite a few blankets - for so many different people. Not one of them, is the same as another. Each time I gave a “gift” away - I was given a gift as well. As I look back, I realize that the “gifts” to me - were the gifts of friendship, love, healing and Life . . .
As I get ready to give this new “gift” away - I realize how much my life has been changed - because I allowed my heart to love and to care. Each time I have given my heart away - - - my own life has changed, forever . . .

Will you choose to open your heart to another? Will you choose to care, to feel, and to make a difference in this world? Will you say “yes” to the Lord, to Love? When you do, not only your life will change - - - but our world changes - forever . . .

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!”
“For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;”
“Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and - I love you, . . .”
(Isaiah 43: 1, 3, & 4)

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity - to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29: 11)

God bless you in the coming week ahead!

In His Perfect Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers