“We love Yeshua”

Our church musical is this Sunday. I have a solo…maybe. I have a sinus infection and I am hoping to be okay in the morning. The song is called Mary’s Hope. And it is a lullaby that Mary sings to baby Jesus. It is a touching song about how Mary loves her son so much and how she knows who He is and that there will be things ahead for Him that she doesn’t yet understand. But she wants Him to know that He can always come back home…what every mother would sing and or say to her child…though it won’t be like that for her.

Toward the end of the song, she calls Him, Yeshua, which is Jesus name in Hebrew…Joshua. For some strange reason, I had trouble pronouncing it as I sang and I worked hard on that part and it has been on my mind.

This past week, I read a story. It was a hard and horrible story about four young Christians…children…all under the age of 14. They loved Jesus. They were brutally beheaded by ISIS in Iraq for refusing to convert to Islam. A reverend from Britain, Andrew White, told their story after he was forced to flee the country. He told of the four children standing up to the jihadists.

Apparently, the Islamic State said to the children, “you will say the words that you will follow Mohammad.” The children bravely answered…”No, we love Yeshua; we have always loved Yeshua; Yeshua has always been with us.” They were given one more chance. They refused to turn from Yeshua even in the face of evil. Because of their love for Yeshua, they were savagely beheaded.

That story would have touched my heart regardless, but after trying to sing the name “Yeshua” for several weeks, it really hit me hard! Young people who loved their Yeshua enough to die for Him! This Christmas, how much do I love Him? What would I be willing to do for my Yeshua? It is a question for us all.

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Martinsville: Above and Beyond Part 4

Church in the Garage

Sunday morning, we arrived back at the track and met with Steve’s cousin, Kenneth and two of his children. We had not seen Kenneth in so long and it was an added blessing to our trip.

Soon, we again got right on the track and headed toward Turn 3 and made our way into the garage. The garage was much more crowded than the day before. There were fans, officials, crew members, media and Motor Racing Outreach (MRO) volunteers everywhere. We made our way down to Jeff’s part of the garage and they were still working on his car. They were also inspecting the race cars to make sure no one was cheating and all the measurements were correct.

We noticed young women passing out “bulletins” for the church service that would start soon. We talked to them and they said we were welcome to join the drivers, officials and crew members for worship.

Because we had been reading FAITH IN THE FASTLANE, we were very interested in the MRO and the Driver’s Chapel service held after the Driver’s meetings every Sunday morning before the race. We weren’t sure we were allowed to participate so we had been very sheepish approaching the tent and asking if this was the Goodyear Tent where the service would be held. But they were so welcoming and you could tell they wanted us to come on in.

At first just a few crew members came in. Most of them had the M&M uniform on and worked for Kyle Busch, which we knew was Joe Gibbs’ influence. Kevin Harvick walked in with his wife and children and sat not too far from Korie and I. DeLana Harvick turned and smiled and waved at Korie and I which nice of her.

Then we saw Austin Dillion come in with his cowboy hat on. He sat right behind us and took his hat off. We saw Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Danica walk in together and sit near the front. A man got up with his guitar and we sang Leaning on the Everlasting Arms and My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less. I looked around and there were about 200 people under the tent and a host of fans outside listening in. I would estimate about 300 were within listening distance. There were some media, officials, drivers and owners all singing about Jesus together. I say owners because all of the sudden, Korie grabbed by arm and told me that Joe Gibbs was sitting behind her. And he was!

There won’t be pictures to go with this part of the story. I didn’t take any pictures. It wasn’t the time. It wasn’t even really drivers and fans anymore. It was just a group of people who loved Jesus singing about Him together and listening to someone talk to them about “Remembering” and reading from a passage from the Old Testament, the story of Joshua setting up stones of remembrance because of something great God did in their lives. And he encouraged them all to do the same. It was such an experience. Last week, I worshipped with disabled children and their parents and now with NASCAR drivers and workers. And we were all the same when we were praising Him or learning at His feet. It was an amazing experience.

As soon as chapel was over, everyone dispersed quicker than you could say “Jeff Gordon’s Drive for Five”. 🙂 Only one person seemed to be hanging around and I was thrilled because that person was Joe Gibbs.IMG_6072

He was looking around the tent as though he was looking for someone in particular but couldn’t see them. We said hello and he turned his attention to Korie. He asked her name as he pulled a gospel track out of his pocket. He wrote “Korie. Nice meeting you. Joe Gibbs” on the track and gave it to her. We asked if he had time for a picture. He said yes, then he took off his Super Bowl Championship ring from his finger and put it on Korie’s pinkie finger. Then he told her to hold it up for the camera to see and he posed with her.IMG_6071 What a moment! We told him how much we admired his stand for Christ and he was so humble. We thanked him over and over again before we turned to leave. We had just meet THE Joe Gibbs!!! And we had been at church in the garage!!

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Martinsville: Above and Beyond Part 3

The Garage

I had never been in a NASCAR track garage before and I had no idea what to expect really. There were 30 + garages open on one end. At 0.526 miles, Martinsville is the shortest track on the NASCAR circuit. They call it the “Paperclip.” Because of its small size there isn’t a lot of room in the middle of the track for the garages for both the Cup and Truck Series, all the haulers and the other things needed. It is crowded! Each car requires lots of tires and tires take up a lot of room. They had tires anywhere they could put them! The lug nuts were already glued on for faster work in the pits. IMG_5955a

We saw the haulers for each driver. Chairs are outside each one and a cooler. Some had grills right beside the door. One of the grills had a pot of soup cooking on top. The big teams had a tent with hired help who were grilling chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs and other food for the team members. Teams with less money or on their own cooked for themselves. Some of the track workers had grills right on the side of the track cooking their food and men were getting their hot dogs eating with their trucks still running. They were ready if they were called upon to clean up during a practice or during truck qualifying that was also happening this morning.

The media had haulers and they were eating lunch, too. There was one public concession stand and one set of bathrooms. Even the drivers had to use the restrooms with us regular people! Steve saw Matt Kenseth in the bathroom! lol

The most amazing thing to us was that if you had the HOT PASS displayed, you could go just about anywhere you wanted. IMG_5921You could approach anyone, you could get right up into the different garages, or up to the haulers. It was so accessible.We wondered before we came if there would be areas roped off or lines we couldn’t cross. But it was pretty open to all. The only exception was Jimmie Johnson and Dale, Jr’s areas. They had a rope up behind their cars to keep people from getting too close. You could still see everything but it was obvious they wanted you to stay back. But the free reign was surprising to us.

But there was one very special event that happened in the garage area…one that I didn’t know we would get to share in. I will tell you about that in my next post.

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Martinsville: Above and Beyond Part 2

Meeting Drivers in the Garage
Fair warning! (if you don’t know NASCAR drivers, you may not enjoy reading all this).

Meeting Jeff Gordon was our greatest desire for this weekend. We could not get over how he was THE very first driver we saw that morning! We almost felt like saying…”It can’t get better than this….we can go home now”. But we didn’t know that the week would continue to be one amazing moment after another. Korie was estatic and could barely speak after meeting Jeff. I am so glad Steve recorded it because her reaction was priceless.

We then saw some of the drivers were coming out for their 9 am morning practice. They were speaking with their crews and looking at their cars. There is a story about each one. I will pick a few that were more interesting. But all the drivers were so kind.

IMG_5931aWe saw Kasey Kahne. I walked up and asked him if he had time to meet Korie. He said “sure” and came right over to her. He was very comfortable and put his hand on the back of her chair and said a few words to her. He was very nice. Now, Korie loves Jeff, but she also is quite fond of Kasey. One of her fish is named after him!

Steve saw Carl Edwards talking to some people at his hauler so we headed over there. As soon as Korie saw him, she started shaking a hand at him and called his name! He was more than willing to meet Korie. He got down right in front of her chair and starting asking her questions like “where are you from”, “why are you wearing a Jeff Gordon shirt?” lol, etc.IMG_5944a He was super nice. If you read about him, you will find out more about his generous heart.

IMG_5948a The drivers were just walking among all the people and sometimes you wouldn’t even notice them until after they had passed by. But we couldn’t miss the next one that we saw.Tony Stewart was walking with someone signing a poster. When he saw Korie, he actually pushed through the poster to walk over to Korie even before we could ask him for a picture! He gingerly got down beside her (he broke his leg last year) and asked her where she was from and talked to her for awhile. To be honest, Tony didn’t look very good. Of course, he has been through a lot this year after the accident on the dirt track. But physically, he had a little trouble getting up. I felt sorry for him but I was very impressed with how nice he was to us and the time he took with us. I wish him the best.

Three drivers that I enjoyed meeting were Landon Cassell,Justin Allgaier and David Ragan.IMG_5947a IMG_5949a .IMG_6004 I had been reading a book out loud to Steve and Korie called FAITH IN THE FASTLANE. It is about how faith is so entrenched in NASCAR and how it began and what kind of things have gone on through the years. We had read about all three of these young men and their strong testimonies. It was a joy to tell each of them that we had read about them and appreciated their public stand.

We also met briefly and got pictures with Clint BowyerIMG_6001 IMG_6014aand Ryan Newman. Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick walked right by us. We were getting kind of tired and not sure how many more drivers we could see when we saw young Austin Dillon, in his cowboy hat, and he was very happy to talk with us. It thrilled us!IMG_6016a

We talked to three reporters/announcers. All three were so wonderful and kind. We met Marty Smith, Matt Yocum and Brad Daugherty. All three asked which driver she liked and who she thought would win the championship. Such kind men.IMG_6002

Kyle Larson is a young driver. He is in contention for Rookie of the Year, along with Austin Dillon. IMG_6111Kyle has had a really great year and I know that he will be a great driver in the future with a lot of success. It was fun seeing him and how much he had changed since we saw him in Richmond two years ago.

One last one that I will mention here is Joey Logano. Joey is young and I know he has done some foolish things on the track and he probably wasn’t one that I was really looking for. But we came upon him while he was giving an interview. We stopped to listen as he talked to the someone we couldn’t see (or hear). When he was done, he signed a few autographs and actually looked like he was going back into the trailer when we asked him for a picture. He was very kind and said yes and came out for a picture with Korie. I appreciated the time he took for us. He even took off his sunglasses for a better picture! IMG_6043

Meeting these drivers was like Christmas to a little girl (Korie) who watches NASCAR each weekend. Each encounter was so wonderful….there was only one that wasn’t. I don’t even think I need to tell you who it was. If you know NASCAR, you probably have a good guess. But most NASCAR drivers are wonderful people. What a privilege to meet each one!

Part 3 to follow.

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Martinsville: Above and Beyond Part 1

Day One at the Martinsville track.

This is the story of a trip to Martinsville, Virginia, to not only the race, but to come to it with a Pass that opened up the world of NASCAR to us even more than it already was…..

Pastor Rick met someone who had contacts in the Hendrick organization.Through a conversation, Pastor was able to talk to this man and tell him about Korie and her love for NASCAR. This man graciously was able to give us Hot Passes for the week at Martinsville Speedway. I don’t know if you understand how hard these Passes are to come by. You have to know someone who knows someone. It was a great privilege and we were more thrilled than you could ever know to experience it!!

2014 Nascar Kansas This would be the best chance we had ever had for Korie to meet her childhood (and adulthood) hero. We had tried so many times. I wasn’t sure if it was something to pray about but I prayed often through the years that we would get the chance to meet the #24 someday. When this opportunity came up and I knew we would be in the garage area, I felt that this was the best chance we would ever get. I began to pray. Did God care about us meeting a NASCAR driver? This was something I kept wondering about but I prayed anyway. The week before we left for the race, I even asked my choir members to pray. Friends and family members were praying. The night before our trip, with a sincere heart, I even asked God to bless us above all that I could even think to ask.

The first practice for the drivers that weekend was at 9 am Saturday morning. We had an hour (plus) drive from our hotel to the track. We knew we had to get there and pick up our credentials. Getting into the track garage would be an adventure with a wheelchair. So we had an early morning!! We left the hotel around 6:00 am. When we arrived, Everything was quiet and empty except for the vendors who were checking in, the media arriving and others getting their credentials for the garage area. We were the second ones to park in the handicapped parking lot. It was a crisp morning and very cool. We had to wear coats. We could see our breath when we talked.

We had a lot of trouble finding the credentials hauler. We were in the wrong area and we had to go back and get our van to drive to another entrance. It was kind of frustrating because we knew there was a good chance to see the drivers this early in the morning and it wouldn’t be as crowded in the garage. We finally found the hauler and got everything straight.

We had a late start in the garage. I ended up having to take the van back to park in the handicapped spaces. More people were there now. Steve and Korie had gone to the garage.  Because of her chair, she and Steve had to walk on the back of Turn 3 and 4 of the track to enter the garage. When I arrived alone, I walked over the steps from the track into the pit area. I had never been in a garage and I wasn’t sure what all I was allowed to do. I called Steve and he and Korie were already in. We finally found each other. All the cars and the crews, as well as officials, and members of the sheriff department were there. But there were not a lot of fans there yet.IMG_5921We were just meandering through the garage enjoying the cars. All of them were being worked on by their crews. We looked at the cars of Kasey Kahne, Dale Jr, Jimmie Johnson and we saw Jeff’s!!. Korie sat for a while watching them work on his car. 

We weren’t yet familiar with the garage so we were walking down the middle of it looking around. Through all the troubles that morning, we didn’t yet understand that all of it was for a purpose…so that we would be walking down this part of the garage at this very particular moment….because…the very first driver we saw was Jeff Gordon!!  I spied him first. Steve had gone ahead of us and I was with Korie. I turned to look behind us and there was Jeff Gordon walking right toward us. He was in a coat and had a cup of coffee in his hand.  My heart was beating hard and it was all so unexpected and happening so fast. I took a deep breath and bravely stepped up to him and asked if he could please talk with my daughter, Korie, who just loved him and would love to meet him. He very kindly said, “Sure!” He said hello to her and shook Korie’s hand and walked around her chair and let me take the picture. As he got up, you could tell he was in a hurry but he gave Korie another goodbye, took my hand before he left and then he went on his way! God had answered our prayers!!IMG_5927a

Part 2 will soon follow

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What Can Happen In A Second?

One-Second-Clock-960x250

One second. So short. But much can happen. For me, these things happened in a second.

I accepted Christ and my destiny changed to heaven!
My world changed as a teenager when I was told my dad had cancer.
I became Mrs. Stephen Fletcher.
During a routine ultra sound the technician got a look in her eye and I knew…
The word “Spina Bifida” entered my world.
I found out I was losing a parent.
I met a friend who would always be in my life.
A family moved away and I knew things would change.

We all have seconds that alter our course of life. Or sometimes just our day. Things that can make us sad or lift us up.

You overhear someone say your name and it isn’t in a good way.
You miss the plane or the bus.
You almost made the stoplight!
Your car breaks down.
You twist an ankle.
You get a phone call.
The boss wants to talk to you.
Your teenager has to tell you something.

sun through clouds
The sun comes out after a storm.
A stranger pays for your coffee.
Someone smiles at you.
Your child tells you they love you.
A first date.
You find money in your pocket!

A second can make a difference in a life. We need to thank God for all the seconds He gives us. We need to be ready for the seconds that will change the course of our lives..or just our day. So much can happen in a second.

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Dad’s Hands

Dad’s Hands

Seventeen years is a long time to miss you, dad. It seems so long ago since you were here on this earth. There are so many things I miss about you. I know this is odd, but one of the things I miss most is your hands. They were so unique and strong. You and I had trouble communicating sometimes. But I know you tried. One of the ways you tried was this “thing” between you and I and our hands…..I would randomly pass you in the house and you would put out a hand for me to hit as I passed. We never talked about it, we didn’t plan it, it just happened. But I never forgot it. Sometimes, I think about that small exchange between us and I just miss it so much. Dad's Hands
Most of us point with our “pointer” finger…you would point out a verse or words in a newspaper with your middle finger of your right hand. Sometime I find myself doing that, too, as I hold my place on a recipe card or in a book. It makes me think about you every time. I watched those hands open hymn books and the Word of God so many times…or turning pages of your Sunday School lesson. I can see them pitching a softball game and bouncing a basketball. I see them teaching me to hold a bat and pitching softballs to me. They put money in the offering plate and gave money (and one time, even a car), to a stranger. They made your kids fudge and hot chocolate and tomato soup with peanut butter sandwiches. They pulled the covers to my chin before you kissed me goodnight.

Sometimes they pointed at me in anger…I usually deserved it. But they also patted me on the back when I did something well. They gave me away when I married Steve and they held my girls when they came into the world. I can see those wonderful hands moving in animation while you read the girls “The Three Little Pigs”.

And…I can see them waving goodbye to me as I left the hospital room the last time I saw you alive.

I know you may think it is a strange thing to miss, dad. But I would do anything to feel them squeeze my hand one more time. I know that someday, when we are both in heaven together, I will reach for and see those wonderful hands again. I will be so thankful to see them! I miss you.

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The Real Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura_Ingalls_WilderThe first time I learned of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I was in the fourth grade at Monterey Elementary School in Ohio. I can still picture the small library and even the very shelves where her books were kept. I would check out her books, read through the whole series and then I would start over again. Something about the free and independent spirit of her pioneer family captured my attention. I never tired of reading about Pa and Ma, Mary, Laura, Carrie and baby Grace as they traveled from Wisconsin, Indian Territory, and DeSmet, South Dakota. As soon as my girls were old enough to understand, I began reading the same stories to them. The TV show made the family more popular and the made-up episodes were fun but there was nothing better than the real stories in Laura’s written accounts.

So I was thrilled when my family traveled to Missouri a few years ago and visited Mansfield, where Laura lived with Almanzo until her death in 1957. Seeing Pa’s fiddle with my own eyes, the slates that Pa bought Mary and Laura in Plum Creek, Laura’s autograph book from her school days and more, was very meaningful to me. I bought a replica of Ma’s Shepherdess that she always kept on their mantel, a tin cup with a peppermint stick and penny…the same thing the Ingalls girls got for Christmas one year and one more thing that I will always treasure. It was a copy of bible references in Laura’s handwritting that was found in her small bible near her rocker where she sat to read. It was a blessing to me and I thought I would share. How awesome to learn how she depended on the scriptures and what great advice she had! She wrote:

In facing a crisis read 46 Psalm
When discouraged read 23 & 24 Psalm
Lonely or fearful read 27 Psalm
Planning a budget read St. Luke chapter 19
To live successfully with others read Romans chapter 12
Sick or in pain read 91 Psalm
When you travel carry with you 121 Psalm
When very weary read Matthew 11:28 & 30 and Romans 8: 31-39
When things from bad to worse 2 Timothy 3
When friends go back on you, hold to 1 Corinthians 13
For inward peace the 14th Chapter of St. John
To avoid misfortune Matthew 7: 24-27
For record of what trust in God can do Hebrews 11
If you are having to put up a fight-the end of Ephesians
When you have sinned read 1 John 3:1-21
And make Psalm 51 your prayer

It was so wonderful to see how Laura relied on God’s Word in hard situations. We know she faced many just by reading her books. She lost a baby, her home burnt down, the family lost their tree farm (their livelihood) and more. I am so glad that Laura lived her life with God walking by her side. I am so happy that I got to see this side of her….the real Laura Ingalls Wilder.

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It’s the Simple Things

little-girl-smelling-rose-10409662Life can be complicated. It can be really busy. So busy that you forget to stop and “smell the roses” as the saying goes. As we all do, I get very busy…so much to do…time gets away from me.

What would I like to do that I don’t get done? Well, I love writing. I need to take more time to do it. It may not be the best or most imaginative but it is so therapeutic for me. I get into genealogy. I have thousands of names in my FamilyTree Maker. And I love finding more!! I could spend HOURS researching. I long to read. I used to read for hours. Now, I am lucky to snatch a few minutes here and there.

I do like my “alone” time. I have to be a bit more imaginative now with Korie out of school. I need that time to just breathe! But I am finding another way to “connect” with myself and to God, too.

I look for the joys of life. They ALL come from Him. I quote this verse to Korie a lot…”every good gift comes from the Father.” And “gifts” don’t always come wrapped up in pretty packages. Sometimes you have to really look for them. But they are there.

I find gifts in many things…in the visitor at church last Sunday, for example. She was from Hastings, England, and she loved our music and we had the sweetest fellowship together. We felt like friends even though we had just met. Today, I had the gift of jalapeño scones from a friend. I read to Korie earlier and her laughter and bright eyes delighted my soul.

I find joy in the more simple things, too. Like the sunset, listening to music with Korie as I cook, a new friendship that is building, the Goldfinches that come to our feeders, a recipe that came out yummy, 10 minutes sitting on our patio and taking deep breaths…oh! and it is August and the humidity is lower than normal and the days have been just beautiful!sunset-venicela_980x551

All I have to do is stop and take a look…and something is always there. God is that way. He delights in giving to us. Even more, He loves it when we notice and we are grateful. I am going to keep seeking the blessings He has created for me..even on the days that are hard. Those are the times I need it most.

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How I Learned To Love NASCAR

NASCAR. I had no interest. Cars. Dirty tracks. Going in circles. So many laps. Yuck. Why would anyone like it?

I heard from a friend about a camp begun by the Petty family. You know, as in Kyle and Richard Petty….THE KING. I HAD heard of him. The camp was for kids with disabilities and chronic illnesses. It’s a long story but we went, we fell in love, and our introduction to NASCAR had begun. 1993-nascar-results-1

On the way home from Victory Junction, Steve mentioned that maybe this racing “thing” would work for Korie. It could be an interest…something to watch every week. We channel surfed on the radio and found the race. We listened…Korie listened and she wanted to watch it on TV the next week.

It’s 10 years later and as I write this she is watching the race on TV AND NASCAR Race Day Mobile. She now watches the Sprint race, the Nationwide race and the Truck race every week. She knows the number of every driver, which team they are on and the names of the whole Jeff Gordon family. She has met most of the Nationwide drivers, many of the Sprint drivers and has been to several races. She has ridden her chair on one of the race tracks and the last race she went to, Jeff Gordon won! DSCN7845

As I sit with her and watch the cars go around the dirty track….I now know all about the drivers, their cars and the strategies for the different tracks, I know all about the point system, the Race for the Chase and which crew chiefs belongs with which drivers. Yes, I know way too much about NASCAR.

But! My heart catches when I see the passion on Korie’s face, the smiles when the announcers do interviews, the knowing look when they talk about drivers raising money for Victory Junction, the fist pumps when Jeff Gordon takes the lead and the pure joy when he crosses the finish line first. I have met “The King” twice and I have personally thanked Kyle and Patti Petty for turning the loss of their son into something so beautiful. These days, the cars look bright and sleek, the tracks look challenging, the pits look quick and exciting and the drivers look giving and athletic. NASCAR is beautiful.

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