I’ve taken up a new hobby. When I will find the time to work on it, I don’t know, but I was inspired recently to try to learn how to make jewelry. Perhaps it was when I went to a jewelry party at my sister’s a couple months ago. I loved the pieces that were made of natural stone – so smooth and shiny and colorful. They were far too expensive for me, though. Or maybe my inspiration came from the “hippie market” in Cuenca, Ecuador when I was down there several months ago. There are no hippies there. I don’t know how it got its name, but Indians sit there and make jewelry all day and sell it from their booths in an open market. That jewelry was very inexpensive. I especially loved the pieces made from shells and again the natural stones, while my daughter Laurie preferred the pieces made from coffee beans, seeds and the like because of their uniqueness.
Anyway, I took it into my head that I wanted to try to make some jewelry, so finally when we went down to Julie’s in July we went to Hobby Lobby and I stood for an hour in the bead aisles trying to figure out which tools I needed and which beads I wanted to start with and what exactly I was going to try to make. I didn’t have a clue. Another lady approached me and just as I was about to ask her for some advice, she asked me for help! She didn’t have a clue, either! I didn’t want to spend very much until I knew what I was doing, and if I would stick with it, so when I found some pretty beads on clearance, a few tools at half-price, and some free leaflets with instructions and ideas, I finally made up my mind, made my purchases and took it all back to Julie’s.
That first night I made a bracelet in five minutes. I felt like a kindergartner stringing the simple beads on a piece of elasticized plastic cord. I even had to have Bob tie the knot for me. Then he got inspired and made a matching bracelet for little Hannah with the leftover beads. We proudly went off to church that night wearing our matching bracelets.
I didn’t have another opportunity then to try my hand again with it until yesterday. When we got back from Julie’s I had a lot of catching up to do, a lot of writing, and a big project for our church’s fiftieth anniversary to work on. Finally, last night when the project was finished, I’d been sitting under my computer for weeks and I just needed to do something that didn’t take a lot of concentration (other than housework!) I decided to get out my beads and tiny pliers and wire cutters and cord and try again.
This time I got more creative and took a little more time stringing the beads in pretty patterns. The first one I made was of natural turquoise stones, some flat and round, and some in irregular shapes, with tiny clear glass bead accents. It turned out beautiful and I was so thrilled! It was exactly the kind of thing I was hoping to make. The next three were pretty, too, and were designed to be worn separately or together as they were made in a variety of patterns but with some of the same beads and in the same general color scheme. Bob tied the knots the first couple times for me, but finally I learned to do that for myself, too, so I think I progressed from kindergarten to perhaps third grade in just one night! Whoo-hoo!
I am planning to move on to making earrings and necklaces and even watches, but just making simple little bracelets on stretchy cord brought me a lot of pleasure last night. There is something about designing a pattern with all those shiny and colorful beads and stones and then carrying it through one by one until the project is complete that is very relaxing, and then when you have something of beauty in the end—well, it satisfied my creative soul.
I discovered as I was working, though, that sometimes it was a little trickier than it first appeared. There were times when I made a mistake and had to take the beads off the cord until I came to the mistake and could fix it. Other times I had to basically start over in order to change the pattern a bit to adjust for size. Once, I was totally finished and had even tied the knot, and then decided I wasn’t satisfied with some of the stones I’d used. I cut the cord and started over again with different stones. In the end, I was so glad I did!
I thought about that later and thought how like our days that sometimes is! We wake up in the morning with a plan all set as to how that day is going to go. We have a schedule to keep, our daily routine, some special event to attend or we plan to work on some special project. Our pattern is set in our minds. Bead…bead…bead…special bead…bead…bead…bead… And then something happens. Something unexpected. Someone with a need. A mini-crisis. An argument with your husband. You’re running late. All of a sudden that pretty plan you had in mind is out the window.
Julie had a week like that this week. She had planned to start homeschool—a little early, but she wanted to get a head start since she knew down the road there would be some times when they would want to take off, like when David comes home from Iraq and when they come up here for a visit. Every day, though, something came up that prevented her from moving ahead with her plans. Each time they were opportunities to minister to someone.
“Please, could you watch our children for a few hours so my husband and I can go out on a date? We need it so badly and we can’t afford a babysitter.” This from the mom of the worse little terrors in the church.
“Please, could you watch our son every day this week? He’s having problems with bullies at his daycare and there’s only one week left before school starts and he doesn’t want to go back.” Turns out he was the bully!
“Could I come over today with my children?” from a young unsaved mom on one of the worse days with the young bully she was watching.
“My little girl is home from the hospital now, so you can come over with that balloon you mentioned. Oh, and why don’t you bring dinner with you, too, and we’ll eat together?” from another unsaved mom. Big surprise to Julie about making dinner for everyone – again on a day with the little bully.
Every day was a challenge, and she never could get to even the preparation for the start of homeschool, but the Lord had a plan for her week and in the end she was so glad she was open to that plan.
The little terrors from church were sweet and good for Julie and they had a good time with them. And Julie was able to do something nice for a mom who was often a little difficult to be around.
The little bully? On the last day he came through the door with a heartfelt apology to Julie and to Joshua, whom he had picked on all week, and he did his best all day to be on his best behavior. As he was leaving that evening, he said to Joshua, “Sorry again I was a butthead to you, Joshua.” The best thing, though, was that despite the problems they were having, Julie was able to show him and his parents, who were new Christians, genuine love and forgiveness and patience.
Julie had only met the young unsaved mother a couple weeks before at swimming lessons, but she had been praying for her and asking the Lord for some way to witness to her even after swimming lessons had ended. To her amazement, the first words out of the girl’s mouth when she came over were, “I was wondering if you could tell me how I could know for sure if I was going to heaven?” Praise the Lord! Julie was all prepared, too, to talk with her and to give her a tract about salvation and a list of verses she had written out for another lady she was witnessing to. The young mother has not made a decision yet, as far as we know, but she keeps calling Julie every day wanting to talk.
The other lady Julie had written the verses for was the lady who had called her and asked her to bring dinner over. She lives just two minutes away, and amazingly, her husband’s room in Iraq is right next door to David’s! Julie had only gotten to know her recently and had had one or two opportunities to witness to her. It was inconvenient that day to make dinner and take it over, but the door is wide open to the hearts of that mom and her kids as the friendship has been strengthened and Julie has ministered to them.
By Saturday, though, Julie and the kids were frazzled and she pleaded with the Lord, “Please, could we have a little rest today?” She told me later, though, that as the day went on the Lord began to convict her until she went back and said, “Okay, Lord, however you want my days to be, let me always set aside my own plans and be open to what You have planned.”
The Lord has our days numbered and our steps ordered. Psalm 37:18, 23 says, ”The LORD knoweth the days of the upright… The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” He will lead us step by step, day by day in the way He wants us to go when we are open to his leading and obedient in following. Psalm 25:4 says, “Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” When we are obedient in following the path He has for us Psalm 16:11 says, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”
I would much rather have the Lord set the pattern for my life than try to do it myself. I make mistakes. I don’t always get it right. The things I would choose are not always the best or the brightest or the prettiest. I can only make those bracelets or necklaces one bead at a time. So God patterns my life one day at a time. And when He orders my steps and sets the days of my life according to His plan, it turns into a pattern of beauty and glory to Him. Obedience… ministry… faithfulness… blessing… patience… love… kindness… joy… praise… worship… prayer… peace…