Rural Missouri - February 2011 - (Page 14)

to deliver an angel. Michael says stories about loved ones often are shared, and he usually finds himself crying along with them and ichael Stephens sharing about Tracy. says God told him Many of the angels are mailed to make an angel to the recipient. Michael said and give it to his the farthest he’s ever sent one is 20-year-old niece, Tracy SteAfghanistan. phens, who was dying of cystic “One man called and asked fibrosis. me if I could make a small angel Great idea, except he didn’t dressed in camouflage for his son know how. in Afghanistan who had stopped “I couldn’t sew a button on believing in God. So I made one a shirt,” Michael says, “but he and shipped it overseas,” says told me to make it so I had to sit Michael. “Before any of these down and just figure it out.” angels leave the house, I pray over Michael still has the angel them. I pray they are a blessing to he made for his brother’s only those who receive them — and I daughter. That effort launched a truly believe they are.” flurry of angels he now makes for While he buys most of his other terminally ill people. supplies, some people generously He gave Tracy the angel in donate fabric and lace to him for September 2001 while she was his angelic undertaking. Somein St. Louis waiting for a lung times people donate money, asktransplant, which she received ing Michael to make an angel and in March 2002. Sadly, she passed give it away. away only six months later. The craftsman recalls a show Michael currently teaches at years ago where he had nearly a the Lighthouse Christian Acadhundred of his 12-inch, 17-inch emy in his hometown of Sedalia. and 22-inch-tall angels for sale, When he’s not teaching, he’s ranging from $17 to $40. But most likely putting the finishing he had one special angel on distouches on an angel for a termiplay. It was made with expensive nally ill child or the family of a antique lace and carried a $150 child who’s passed away. price tag. A woman was asking Since that first angel, Michael Michael Stephens made his first angel for his niece, Tracy, both shown here, before she lost her vendors for donated auction items continues to make what he now battle with cystic fibrosis in 2002. Today, her memory lives on in the angels he shares with others. to help cover expenses as her calls “Divine Darlings.” He young son received leukemia makes them in honor of treatments. Then she stopped Tracy. Little did Michael know by Michael’s booth. when he made that first angel “God told me to give her that he’d still be making them the antique lace angel, so I nearly 10 years later. did. She fell to her knees and “I like to think she’s still started crying,” recalls Michael. touching lives through these “The auction was that night angels and how she lived her and she called the next day to short life,” he says. tell me the angel brought $600. Michael recalls a story I know it was meant to be.” about his niece shared at the The devoted angel-maker funeral. says he’s probably made “One lady remembered between 6,000 and 8,000 Tracy speaking to several The “Angel Man,” as Michael’s angels so far. He only knows he’s given away hundred youth at church when she was about 12,” known around Sedalia, usually attends many more than he’s sold. he says. “Tracy told the group, ‘It’s worth having 10 craft shows a year, but he hopes to Recently, Michael began adding this disease if one of you will walk down and come double that number this year and attend memory quilts to his offerings. With to know the Lord today.’ The lady said the response • Sedalia larger out-of-state shows so he can continphoto fabric, he can print any image was tremendous.” ue to fund what has now become his life’s on a quilt block and incorporate it Besides the angels he gives away, Michael also mission — sharing his ministering angels. into a machine-sewn quilt. Prices sells his creations at craft shows. He says he doesn’t Michael says after the first angel, he felt range from $75 for a single-photo sell the angels for profit — only to help subsidize making them was something he should wall hanging to $600 for a king-size the angels he gives away. continue doing for others. “It’s truly a minisquilt with numerous photo blocks. “I start with 2 yards of material and hand pleat it try for me,” says the humble teacher. Michael looks at the photo of Tracy and smiles. down to sew onto a 5-inch waistline by hand,” says He says he scours local papers and online news “Whenever you think your life is bad, look at the soft-spoken teacher. “About the only things sites to find those in need of an angel. Sometimes, someone else’s battle. Yours usually doesn‘t look I don’t make are the heads, wings and flowers, people will call and tell him about a terminally ill as bad anymore,” says the angel maker. “I always although I do make the bouquets.” child or a family they feel would appreciate one of try to keep that in mind when I think of the battle Michael says it took him about 13 hours to make his creations. Tracy fought so courageously every day of her life.” the angel for Tracy, but he’s got the process down When possible, he likes to deliver the angels in to about 2-1/2 hours now. Whenever he’s got a person so he can see the recipients’ face when he You may contact Michael at divinedarlings@yahoo. backlog of orders, his wife, Rebecca, and their two gives them the angel. He’s driven as far as 200 miles com or by calling 660-221-7670. children, Mallory and Bryce, lend a hand. M by Heather Berry How one handmade angel became a ministry to others for “Angel Man” Michael Stephens 14 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2011

Rural Missouri - February 2011
Table of Contents
Life Behind Bars
A Powerful Idea
Mail Bag
Angels Among Us
Out Of The Way Eats
The Store Time Forgot
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
For the Birds
Out With the Old...
World Wide Wood
Around Missouri
Just 4 Kids

Rural Missouri - February 2011