The internet can be a curse.
It distracts us when we should be working.
It never works when we need it.
It is too complicated for adults, but too easily accessed by children.
There are times the internet is a blessing.
It brings people into our lives that we might not otherwise meet.
It allows us to live far apart, yet engage in conversations as if in each other's living rooms.
In the subject of this blog post, the internet is definitely a blessing!
I have a friend, Anne.
She and I first met many years ago through a message board for heirloom sewing and smocking.
Eight or so years ago, we were able to meet in person at the SAGA Convention in Atlanta.
Since then, our lives have taken many paths as children grew, other activities and responsibilities demanded our time and attention.
Through Facebook (another one of those complex mixtures of blessings and curses!), we were able to reconnect and remain in touch.
A few years ago, I was elated to learn Anne had answered the call to the ministry.
She and her family left behind familiar surroundings and friends in South Carolina.
They packed and moved to Sewanee, Tennessee, allowing Anne to attend University of the South School of Theology.
I admired Anne for taking this great leap of faith.
I also admired Anne's family for the many sacrifices, as they leapt with her.
Many are called, but few will actually answer.
So, what does this have to do with a traveling stole and some sort of sisterhood?
Next June, Anne will complete her three years of seminary and become a candidate for ordination.
During the ceremony, the ordinand is dressed with a red stole.
Anne has chosen to wear a stole once belonging to a dear friend and mentor, Carolyn.
Carolyn passed away last year, due to cancer, making this stole even more meaningful and special.
As Anne travels through her final year of classes, the stole is on a journey of its own.
It is spending a few days with friends across the country, as we pray for Anne's upcoming ordination.
I must admit, when reviewing the list of fellow sisters, I felt very inadequate.
I am no Bible scholar or theologian.
I lead a very common and somewhat dull life.
There are times I completely stumble and lose faith.
Anne never knew that one of those falters was around the time she first contacted and requested my participation in the sisterhood.
God works in mysterious ways, and His timing is always perfect.
The best way to help ourselves, is often to help others.
About a week ago, the stole arrived at my home.
Compared to places it has recently traveled, the time here was most likely different.
I decided it would accompany me on most of my daily activities, while safely wrapped in plastic, of course!
It often accompanied me in the car, as I ran errands;
delivered orders from my online business to the local post office;
shared dinner with two more of Anne's sewing sisters, Kathy and Chris;
attended orientation for a new adventure I will soon begin;
spent time in my sewing room;
and even joined me on a quick shopping trip to Neiman's.
While there, especially in honor of Anne, it and I browsed the shoe department.
Anne has always appreciated the fact there is nothing better than the perfect pair of shoes!
Yes, the stole probably had a very different experience during its week with me.
As I waited for the stole to arrive, I reflected on my friendship with Anne.
It took me back to that sewing connection.
Many of us were always on the hunt for the perfect fabric and lace.
Meanwhile, Anne saw beauty in the mundane; potential in the simple.
She would take dish towels, sometimes embellished for the holiday or season, and transform them into darling garments for her precious daughters!
That is how I see Anne's ministry, too.
She will be the hands and feet of Christ in ways we, and she, cannot even begin to imagine.
It is why I wanted the stole to accompany me, as I completed common daily tasks.
She will transform the most simple lives.
She will stitch together broken hearts.
She will see beauty and potential where others cannot.
She will help lost souls rediscover hope.
These years in seminary will provide Anne with knowledge and tools she will need.
Her life has already prepared her in even greater ways.
I am so grateful to call Anne my friend.
I am even more honored that she allowed me to be a part of her journey toward ordination.
For I know the plans I have for you,
declares the Lord . . .
plans to give you hope and a future.