Diana Nesbitt

Always Go Deeper

Category: Stories

The Frances Project: A Legacy of Service

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On July 23, 2014, one of the strongest, spunkiest women to ever grace the planet was gathered home to her Savior’s bosom. Frances Catherine Fisher, my grandmother, was a member of the greatest generation. She survived the influenza epidemic of 1918, two world wars, the Great Depression, the early death of her true love, and the uncountable ups and downs of 5 children and 99 years of life. Although she only completed school through the eighth grade, she was not lacking in intelligence or talent, and creativity, practicality, and hard work were a few of the characteristics that marked her life. She was self-taught on the mandolin and played alto completely by ear in a Ukrainian orchestra in school. Thanks to her Ukrainian heritage, she was bilingual and retained her ability to speak fluent Ukrainian all of her life.  She worked in restaurants and a drug rehabilitation center as a cook, and in her free time she embroidered pictures that looked like they were painted with thread.

And she served people.

The Servant’s Servant

I learned something new about my grandmother as I listened to different people -mostly her children- speak at the memorial service held at her longtime church in New York. I had never really heard much about her church life, how faithful and involved she was in her church family, nor of all the ways she had helped people. I listened as my aunt told of being a pastor’s wife and how Grandma helped her prepare meals when guests came for dinner, and how she cut out flannel graph figures for Sunday school lessons- something she also did for my own mother. I’ve heard from my mom how before coming to visit Grandma would say “Save your mending, it’ll give me something to do while I’m there.” As I listened to all these ways she helped people, I came up with a title for my grandmother: a facilitator of other people’s service. Her ministry was to help other people minister. To put it yet another way, she was a servant’s servant. I can’t think of a more Christlike way to live.
Grandma lived, worked hard for her family, and died. The world at large would not hail her life a stunning success, but I know Someone who would. Someone who defines success, not as achievements and accolades, but giving your life for the benefit of others.
That’s exactly what Grandma did. And she’s still doing it. Grandma was never wealthy, but what she had she was always sharing with others, always sending checks in the mail with a card (usually with a funny face scrawled in it somewhere), to her children and grandchildren at birthdays and Christmas. Somehow, through her hard work and serious thrift, she still saved enough to give something more to her children after she went home to heaven-as if they could want anything more than the treasure of a life with her.

The Frances Project

With a portion of what she received from Grandma, my mom bought a sewing machine – a larger one than she had so that she would be able to machine quilt on it. She prayed hard and researched her decision, and finally settled on one. Not too long after her purchase, I saw an article on Facebook about a 99 year old woman who makes a dress every single day for little girls in Africa. I shared the article and tagged my mom in it, saying “Here’s something you can do when you’re 90!” Mom looked at it and said “Forget 90! I can do it now!” And so was born the Frances Project.

Mom began sewing, using fabric from cotton tablecloths that we had long ago stopped using. The first dress was simply darling – blue and white gingham with little flutter sleeves. DSC09263DSC07190 DSC07193 DSC07199

The Puzzle Only God Could Piece

Meanwhile, a coworker of mine was going through racks and racks of clothing that her mother no longer wore and was trying to find useful homes for it all. Knowing that I sew, she offered me some clothing in case I could make anything out of it. I didn’t think that I’d be able to make anything for myself from the garments, but I thought it might be just perfect for what Mom was doing. I mentioned it to my coworker and she was delighted at the thought of her mom’s clothing being used in that way. She brought a large bag of the clothing to work and I took it home with me, and Mom started sewing. The first dress she made was from a denim jacket. The pattern fit just perfectly on the jacket, allowing small pockets and embroidered leaves to be perfectly placed on the front of the dress. The end result was adorable, and after my mom finished it she brought it to work to show my coworker. She was so pleased and touched with the way it came out, and asked to show it to her father, whom she said just loves to help little children in need.

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It was the perfect situation for both parties- my mom had fabric to use for her little dresses and shorts, and my coworker had a good use for her mother’s clothing. It was a puzzle whose pieces only God could have put together. Grandma, my mom, my coworker, and her parents – all pieces in the God-ordained puzzle, blessed to be able to share in the gift of giving to others.

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The puzzle isn’t quite complete yet, though. These dresses and shorts still need to find the little children who need them. We’re not exactly sure where they are going to go just yet, but we have a few ideas. If you have any suggestions for where we could send them, feel free to share in the comments!

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If you have a desire to serve the Lord by helping those in need, ask Him to show you what your part is in that. There’s a piece of His puzzle that needs to be filled by you! If you are interested in doing something similar to this, check out this website for patterns and guidelines.These clothing items and other small items could also be made for Operation Christmas Child.

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What you can do: we would so love it if you would join us in praying that these dresses and shorts will make their way to just the children who need them, and that they will be a tool for letting the children know how much Jesus loves them and cares about them.

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As my grandmother’s life so aptly shows, service doesn’t need to be flashy to be effective. It only needs to be done out of love.

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“This is My command: love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12

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How Spending Time with God Can Change Your Life

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In a previous post I talked about a habit that can have a powerful influence on your life. I wanted to show you more of what this habit can do for you, so I asked some of my friends and family to share what they’ve experienced from spending time with God. Their stories were so encouraging, and I hope they inspire you as they do me!

What happens when you spend time with God?

Eva P. Scott, writer at http://evapscott.com/:

“I write my prayers each night after I do my Bible study. One great benefit to me was looking back over my prayer journal at the end of this past year and seeing all the great things God was doing.”

Marilyn Nesbitt -(my mom 🙂 )

“Spending time studying God’s Word is how we get to know Him. It’s amazing to think He is speaking to us through His Word. It’s my source of strength. Prayer time is a huge blessing! As I witness answers to prayer my faith is increased. He also gives guidance as we talk with Him. What a privilege to be able to talk with our heavenly Father!”

Pam Black, writer at A Beautiful Story- http://abeautifulstorydotcom.wordpress.com/:

“I always struggled with that when anyone would ask about my devotional time. I’d hem and haw and make excuses. But I have been giving that time to God (at least an hour every morning) for a couple years now and it has changed my life drastically. If all believers could only grasp what a huge difference it makes in your faith walk to be consistent in this think of the power the church would be. I was a pastor’s kid until by age 9, my Father left his pastorate. It’s a long story. But I grew up in a Christian home where the daily presence of God was neither practiced or preached. Coming of age in that was very odd. I believed myself a “Christian” because I had been baptized but I really never knew Christ. When I was 29 Christ waltzed into my world, drew me to Himself, and turned my world upside down. I spent the first five years after conversion getting “educated” in the faith and doctrine, and the next five unlearning everything I saw in the Church….It wasn’t until I began to really read the words of other believers…and see how their words lined up with scripture, that I began to grow. I don’t bash on the Church, because I AM part of it. But if ALL believers, i.e. THE CHURCH, would get a handle on this one thing–DAILY walking with God and talking to Him, oh, what could we do??? My heart aches, and is hopeful.”

Linda Fisher (my aunt 🙂 ), tutor to students with difficult life situations:

“This time helps me get through the day and helps me with those families whose homes I enter each day.”

Laura Hodges Poole, writer at A Word of Encouragement- http://laurahodgespoole.blogspot.com/:

“The most obvious benefit of spending time alone in prayer and Bible study is strengthening my relationship with God. No relationship can be sustained or flourish without time spent together. I’ve found this to be so true in my relationship with God. Beyond that, it’s growing as a Christian to have strength to deal with what the world throws at me (Eph. 6:10-18). Without that daily alone time for worship and edification, my spirit would grow weak and soon my mind and flesh would follow. One of my favorite quotes is from Corrie Ten Boom: “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” If it’s the latter, you may find when you need it most, your prayer life has become flat and ineffective. And one of the most important results from prayer is our effectiveness in ministry. I cannot be effective in encouraging others in their Christian walk, if I’m not in tune with my Savior.”

Christine Bisch, writer at Reverent Mama: One Woman’s Journey to Be Still and Know- http://reverentmama.com/

“My husband and I have been married nearly 10 years and we have been blessed with 3 incredible kids!
After my youngest was born, things started to fall apart. The stress of having 3 young kids was more than I could handle. I was often frustrated and angry. And I yelled… a lot. I hated what I became and that led to guilt and then depression. I struggled for about a year. Those were very dark days. I withdrew from everyone and I pretty much stopped going to church.
I finally reached the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore. My family deserved more than I was giving them. My doctor gave me a prescription for anti-depressants. But given my family history, I couldn’t bring myself to fill it. I fasted and prayed and searched the Bible for an answer, for something, anything to give me hope.

I found it in Psalm 1:
“Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper.”

That was a picture of what I wanted my life to be. So I dug into the Word. I made spending time with God a priority, which was something I hadn’t done in a while. Nothing happened immediately, but rather day by day, He proved Himself faithful. The depression disappeared and I quickly learned that His grace truly is sufficient for all my needs.”

Joyce Glass, writer at The Daily GPS-Grow, Pray, Serve- http://www.joyceglass.org/ (also check out her daily devotional at http://ineedgodbook.com/)

“Unfortunately many of us neglect our time in prayer which is the water that makes us grow spiritually. As we spend time in the word, God speaks to us, and during times of prayer God continues to speak to our hearts.
Each day as we surrender our life to God, He gives us what we need for that day. We receive wisdom on what we need to do, and He opens our hearts and minds to help others.
There are days when I neglected to spend time in prayer, because I did not wake up early enough to pray. I actually feel more anxious on those days. I am easily irritated and bothered by people or circumstances.”

Christa Sterken, writer at Christa Sterken-A Candid Take on Life- http://www.christasterken.com/ 

“Spending time with God through prayer is life giving. It’s when I DON’T do it, the list begins. Things go badly, my peace is absent, my focus is distorted and my heart can go from loving to wicked quickly. That time with God is an antidote to the stressors of life.” 

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Real people. Real change. A Real relationship.

Do you want to see this type of victory and change in your life? Is there something you’re struggling with that you can’t seem to get through? Talk to Jesus about it. Right now. Get into His Word and find out what He has to say about it. Every day. It takes time and patience, but hang in there! God has promised over and over that He hears the cries of those who call to Him and rewards those who seek Him. Don’t forget, though, spending time with God isn’t a magic formula for a perfect life; it’s a rock-solid foundation that will bear you up even when everything around you is shifting sand. As with any relationship, it takes time and consistent effort to see growth in your walk with God, but be assured: you will grow.

If you don’t have a regular time set to spend in Bible study and prayer, choose one now. Write it on your calendar like you would any other appointment, and then keep it! Today could be the start of your journey to a deeper walk with your Savior. How exciting is that!

If there’s anything I can do to help you on your journey or any way you would like me to pray for you, feel free to jot me a note in the comments! I would love to hear from you.

“Let us strive to know the LORD.
His appearance is as sure as the dawn.
He will come to us like the rain,
like the spring showers that water the land. ”
Hosea 6:3

 

Why It’s Good to Give Thanks for Everything – Even Fleas

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It was almost too much to bear. They were in the infamous Ravensbruck concentration camp, the worst of all concentration camps, being transferred to more permanent quarters. Corrie had already cried when they first arrived as she had cut Betsie’s long chestnut hair off because of lice, and now this.

The two Dutch sisters, Corrie and Betsie ten Boom, were shown where they were to sleep in the women’s barracks, with its rows of tightly packed, straw-covered sleeping platforms stacked in bunks of three high. They hauled themselves up to the middle tier of the platforms and crawled across other pallets to find their own sleeping space in the center. Unable to sit up because of the closeness of the upper tier, they lay back on the reeking straw. A moment later Corrie jumped as something pinched her leg.

“Fleas! Betsie, the place is swarming with them!” Corrie cried. They scrambled off the pallets and made their way to a patch of light. Sure enough, they found more fleas.

Corrie was in despair. “Betsie, how can we live in such a place?”

“Show us how. Show us how.” After a second Corrie realized her sister was praying. A moment later Betsie’s face lit up. “Corrie, He’s already given us the answer! We read it this morning in our devotions!”

Corrie pulled out their precious New Testament and found the passage they had read that morning: “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

“That’s it, Corrie, that’s His answer!” Betsie exclaimed. “‘Give thanks in all circumstances!’ We can begin giving thanks for every single thing about this new barracks!”

Corrie looked around her at the dark, foul-aired room. “Such as?” she said.

“Such as being assigned here together.”

Corrie bit her lip. “Oh yes, Lord Jesus!”

“Such as what you’re holding in your hands.”

“Oh yes, thank You for Your precious Word and for the women who will meet You in Its pages.”

Betsie continued her list of thanksgiving. “Thank You for the overcrowding so that more women will hear about You, and for the fleas and for-”

“The fleas! Oh, Betsie, now that is just too much!” Corrie cut in, protesting.

“‘Give thanks in all circumstances,’ Betsie quoted. “It doesn’t say, ‘In pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.”

And so, as they stood in a patch of light in flea-infested Barracks 28 in Nazi Germany, the two sisters bowed their heads and gave thanks for fleas.

But this time Corrie was sure Betsie was wrong.

During the dark time since the day the Gestapo had raided their quiet Dutch home above their father’s watch shop and sent their family to the Nazi concentration camps for hiding Jews in their home, their small Bible had been the sisters’ lifeline, their only source of hope and light in a world characterized by hatred. Here, in the ever-deepening darkness of Ravensbruck, it was no different. The living pages of the Book held increasing wonder for Corrie and Betsie as the overwhelming bleakness of their circumstances drove them closer to their Savior.

Each night in the back of the barracks, under a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling, Corrie or Betsie would read from their Dutch New Testament to the crowd of women prisoners gathered for their “worship service”. The other women would translate aloud in German, and still others translate the words into French, Polish, Russian, Czech, and back into Dutch, sustenance for starving souls passed from one prisoner to another.

At first, Betsie and Corrie were worried that the guards would hear and disapprove of the meetings, but as night after night they held them and no guard came near, they became bolder. They didn’t understand it, but they took advantage of it nonetheless.

Then one day it all came clear. Corrie met Betsie at dinner time, and they went through the line together to receive their food. Betsie’s eyes were twinkling, and Corrie wondered why.

“I found out why we’ve had so much freedom in our barracks,” Betsie told her, unable to keep the note of triumph from her voice.
“Today there was some confusion in our knitting group about sock sizes and we asked the supervisor to come and settle it, but neither the supervisor nor the guards would step foot into the room. And do you know why? Because of the fleas! That’s what the guard said, ‘That place is crawling with fleas!'”

It turned out that the fleas were indeed something to be thankful for: God had used them to give Corrie and Betsie the opportunity to freely share His Gospel with hundreds of women!

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After the war, after Corrie had been released from the concentration camp and began sharing what Jesus had taught her through her experiences in the concentration camps, she would recite this poem while holding a piece of needlework with the underside, which looked like a tangled mess of knots, facing the audience:

“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.”

At the end of the poem she would flip the piece of cloth over to reveal a beautiful tapestry of gold and royal blue, showing her audience, as God had shown her, that what looks like a tangled mess of awfulness to us is a masterpiece of ordered beauty from God’s perspective.

This story is one of my favorites because it is a perfect example of why it is good, appropriate, and yes, even wise, though it may not seem like it at the time, to give thanks to God for all things in all circumstances. Like Corrie’s poem said, God is the Master Weaver, or if you prefer another analogy, the Master Storyteller. We are the characters in the story. We don’t know the end of the story, but He does.  Psalm 139 says that God had our story all written for us before it even began:

“Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in Your book and planned
before a single one of them began.”

When challenges come and there seems to be no reason for them, it is still God’s will that we give Him thanks for them. We may not always find out the reason for the difficulty here on earth like Corrie and Betsie did, but one day in Heaven we will see the right side of the tapestry and we will find out that the challenges that seemed so senseless to us had an appropriate and beautiful place in the tapestry of our lives. We just need to know Him well enough that we will trust Him no matter what.

Note: The story in this post was adapted and some sections quoted from The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom and John & Elizabeth Sherrill. It is one of my favorite books, and I can’t recommend it highly enough! 

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Question: What helps you trust God even when you don’t understand what He’s doing? Have you ever had an experience where you realized that the hard thing in your life was really a blessing? Share it with us in the comments!

How I Received a Blessing From Owing $250

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Three weeks after I bought it, my brand-new-to-me used car started shifting like I was doing a bad job driving a standard, when in fact I was driving an automatic.  Since it was still under warranty, I took it back to the dealer/repair shop that I had purchased it from to get it fixed. They tried a simple solution and that didn’t work, so I took it back for a second round of more intensive treatment.

It took a while for the part they needed to come in, but finally the day when my car was supposed to be ready drew near. My mother was going to be in the area of the dealership with my aunt and uncle the next day and was willing to pick up the car for me, so I called ahead to find out if it would be ready and if there would be a charge for the repairs so I could send money with her if needed.

“No, you haven’t had the car very long, so that’s something we’re going to have to take care of.” The mechanic told me. I was happy with that answer, so I thanked him and told him to expect my mother the next afternoon. However, the next evening I found out that the car wasn’t ready when my mom went to pick it up as something more urgent had come up at the garage. So I waited another day, and after I got home from work my mom told me that the mechanic had called and said the car was ready. However, the part had cost a lot, so the mechanic said that the garage would only pay half the bill, as per my warranty, and I would have to pay the other half – $300. I was more than a little shocked and unhappy. One day I owed nothing, and the next, I owed $300.

Black thoughts filled my mind as I rode to the dealership with my mother the next day. I was ready to give the people at the dealership a piece of my mind and make sure they knew I would not recommend their business to anyone again.

I walked into the office, ready to do battle. It was empty, and my mother and I waited for a few minutes before I got up the courage to call “Hello!” into the empty space beyond the desk. Immediately the mechanic, a perpetually smiling man, emerged from the garage, apologizing for not hearing us come in.

Before I could unload both barrels on him, he explained in a quiet voice that his boss had been gone that week and they had been short-staffed and he apologized for the miscommunication about the fees. He said he had to do what his boss told him, but he wanted to help me out personally in whatever way he could. I didn’t know what he meant by that, but I continued listening as he explained the work that had been done on my car and a couple of discounts they had given me. When he was finished, he again said, “I feel bad about this, so I want to help you out personally however I can.” With that, he pulled a fifty dollar bill out of his wallet and and laid it on my car bill.
“Oh. You don’t have to do that,” I said, amazed at his gesture. But he again reiterated that he wanted to help, so with tears in my eyes I thanked him and paid the remainder of the bill. Here I had been ready to slaughter the man for going back on his word, and he had simply made a mistake during a stressful work week. His willingness to make it right, even though it cost him personally, restored my battered faith in humankind.

The $250 dollars I had to pay was no longer a burden; it was a blessing and a lesson  that I will never forget.
I cried the whole way home, rebuked for my evil thoughts and profoundly grateful at the kindness of a mechanic and the loving provision of my Heavenly Father.

“Love…is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs…” 1 Corinthians 13:5b

Question: Has God ever provided for you in a special way? Share your story in the comments below!

 

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