Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas 2008

Merry Christmas to every single person reading my blog. Can't believe it's really Christmas but that's what the calendar says. We went to the candle light service tonight at the church and M went without my asking him. Wow! Oh and I couldn't believe I had taken so long but I suddenly remembered to invite my son and daughter-in-law. I sent a quick email and Ken was on his way home from work, got the email on his i-phone, and drove straight to the church. First time I've seen him in about a month! It was wonderful sitting there between my guys. Michael on one side and Ken on the other. Daughter-in-law had to work so I got to enjoy them all by myself. But Ken was really tired so he left quickly for home after the service. His new job is working him like crazy. Last week he worked 77 hours! (No wonder he doesn't have time for mom!!) Again...
Merry Christmas to all...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Quick Post

Here it is going on midnight and I'm just getting to this blog. But I wanted to touch bases as I'm going to try for balance here as Robin recommended. I'm such an all-or-nothing kind of person that I forget other people manage to keep abreast of several interests at the same time. There's no reason I can't knit AND blog. It's just a matter of balance. That's what I need: balance. I'm striving for it and hopefully I can do both things.

My friend, Kathleen, came up to me at church yesterday morning and invited me to ride down to Stockton with her today. I was torn. I wanted to go but then I wanted to stay home too. Ever have that sensation. We left her house before 9:30 and we got back about 4:15. Whew! Long day! But it was fun. Rain had been forecasted for the day but we drove down in bright blue skies and sunshine. Our first stop was Office Depot, then we hit Joann's (arts/crafts) Bed, Bath, & Beyond (just what it sounds like) Best Buy (electronics/computers) Michael's (arts/crafts) and we made a trip to Bud's for a wonderful cup of steaming clam chowder with San Francisco sour dough bread and real butter! And I spent way too much money. This is money that I'd been squirreling away for many months now for just such an opportunity to go to a big city and shop. That is a rarity for me. It has probably been 3 years since I spent any time off the mountain and down in the Valley. I have decided to make my sisters' afghans/throws for Christmas next year and I internet- ordered the yarn for one but I needed to find the yarn for the other one. So I bought what I think she will like (I hope). And then when we got to Michael's I found the knitting dept by accident (I really didn't know Michael's carries yarn) and came across some beautiful yarn for only 1.99 a ball. I bought 6 each of two different colors. One a really nice blue (in fact I've been kicking myself for not buying enough of it to make BJ's throw and use the yarn I bought at Joann's for something else) and one a darkish camel. Really pretty yarn and I couldn't let the price slip by me. I just wish I'd bought more of that blue. Oh well. I didn't. I'll live with it. The yarn I ended up buying for her throw is brushed varigated blues with white. Nice and different than that I ordered on the internet for the other sister. Her livingroom furniture is a deep blue. I can't remember the color of her bedroom and I'm not sure where she'll keep the throw, whether in the livingroom or the bedroom so I ended up going with blues. But the blues in the varigated yarn are really nice blues; nothing bright just subtle shades of blue. And I think she'll like that. As I said, it's a brushed yarn which I hadn't thought about but it was listed for a price I thought was fair for a throw and it will make a very pretty one.

Traffic was horrible in town not bad going or coming much at all but downtown? I was ready to scream!! I've lived up on the mountain too long to be comfortable in all that traffic. I'm always amazed at all the businesses though. I always feel like a little kid that's gone to the big city and just hypnotized by all the stores; just store after store; it was endless. Up here we have only one of what we have. In the Valley they have 12 of everything. Art supplies stores, department stores, computer stores, bookstores, the list is endless. And people!!! I've never seen so many people! Best Buy had enough people it in to qualify for a county! One like ours anyway. And the lines. Bear in mind that I am not a patient person and these lines were unbelieveable. At Michael's the line snaked back almost the length of the store. (I'm exaggerating but only a little.) And Kathleen wanted to purchase some white T-shirt ribbing and so we had to take a number and wait there too and then go stand in line there at Joann's. The only place we didn't have to wait in line for service was at Bud's. We went in and went directly to our table, ordered the chowder, and had it in front of us within 5 mins of walking through the door. I guess you'd be stupid to think there wouldn't be lines and people, people, people this close to Christmas. When I agreed to ride down with her I really hadn't thought about how frantic it would be being Christmas and all. I'm so stupid. I absolutely amaze myself at my own stupidity. No, actually I had a good time today. I hate to shop and I hate to be away from home and I did both and enjoyed myself. I think Kathleen's about as in need of a friend as I am. She's the only friends I have. Oh I have people I know real well from church and all but as a true friend I'd have to say that Kathleen is my only one and we just started our friendship. That was back when we had the heart 2 heart thingie at church and she and I agreed to email each other to get better acquainted (which was the purpose of the program or ministry) and when our 6 months were up we just kept on emailing each other. She and her husband took their vacation and she took me along via email (and I had a blast!) and then I joined the knitters group which she co-teaches and she offered to meet with me on Friday afternoons for more knitting and we have just really hit it off. We're so much alike even our birthdays are in the same month.

I finished Laurie's prayer shawl (can't remember if I mentioned that) and I have my pale green shawl almost finished (the body of it) and I'm excited to see it fringed and blocked. It's going to be very pretty. I only need about 4 more inches knitted and it will be long enough. My burgundy shawl is about 2 feet long already. Bear in mind that these are the same two shawls that I knitted out to about 3 feet and then ripped out and started all over again from scratch. I do feel like I've been with the pattern for ages. The thing is, it is a beautiful pattern and I just can't see making only one thing in that pattern. I want several things. So I'll have the two shawls and then my other sister's throw to make all with the same pattern and then I will move on to something else for BJ's throw. And whatever I find to make out of the solid blue and camel I bought. It's terrible to buy yarn and have no idea what you're going to make out of it but it was just so darned cheap!!! I would have kicked myself even harder if I'd passed up that bargain. The other thing I bought was a rotary cutter. It's like a big pizza cutter that I can use to trim the fringe to the proper length and even and all. Kathleen and I used her cutter when I did Laurie's shawl and since I know I've got at least 3 fringed projects to do yet, I could certainly use one of my own. And those aren't cheap. I did manage to find one for $12 and I bought a spare blade to keep on hand and it was $5, which I thought was pretty high but I didn't want to buy the cutter and then not be able to use it because I couldn't find replacement blades for it. Although is is a fiskar blade so that should be pretty easy to find. I hope anyway! Last month at the quilting clinic is the first I knew of rotary cutters and I was so impressed by the ease with which they were able to cut yardage. And then when I put the fringe on Laurie's prayer shawl Kathleen used hers. It worked perfectly for the fringe. Michael has a heavy, thick steel cutting edge I can use . Now all I need is a long cutting board. I've got a couple smallish cutting boards and I'll just have to keep moving it along underneath the edge I want to trim.

It rained on us coming home and has been raining here since I got to my house at about 4:30. We got .98 of an inch yesterday. I don't think this storm is supposed to give us much at all but we'll see because it has been raining for hours and hours. Well I know this has been very boring to you I'm sure. This is a great time in the life of our church. Our attendance is usually low but the month of December just packs them in. And I love that. I love to turn around and see a crowd of people sitting behind me. My son has been working 7 days a week since he started his new job so he hasn't been able to attend. I'm so proud of him. He's only been with them for a month and already they've promoted him. He is just so talented in what he does. I'm still in shock that the last place let him go. I bet you anything they're kicking themselves in the backside for letting him go, especially the way they did it. He had 14 years with that place and they just threw him away. Oh well, he likes this new place so much better.

We'll have our candlelight celebration Christmas eve and Michael is planning on going with me so that will be nice. I wish I could get him to come on Sundays but he would much rather stay home and watch TV, which wouldn't be so bad if he'd watch Charles Stanley or something other than NASCAR and football.

Okay this was supposed to be short and quick because I am really tired after that shopping trip today but I wanted to say something before the holiday gets here because everyone's so busy around Christmas. We actually won't be celebrating until the 28th and 29th this year. The 28th is for the entire clan and that's at the clubhouse across the river and the 29th is just our immediate family with my son and grandkids, etc, and that's just across town. So Christmas itself isn't going to feel special at all.

I have neglected my quiet time lately and I really need to get on the stick and get going with that again. I let knitting get in the way. I just need to do the quiet time BEFORE knitting because once I pick up those needles, it's all over for everything else. But I'm going to strive for that balance Robin spoke of. It's just my bipolar getting in the way of my life. This is it. I will rattle on forever if I don't be polite and just shut up. I have a couple devotions written that I will try to put out soon. Until next time...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Need a Break

I guess you've probably figured out by now that I've taken a break; only this time I don't know if I'll be back. Ever. I just got bored with blogging and I spent so much time with nothing to show for it. Now I am into knitting again. I was a knitter 2o years ago and have just recently decided to take it up again and I am really enjoying myself. I knitted a prayer shawl for my niece who lost one of her sons a couple months ago. I thought when grief really washed over her she could wrap up in the shawl and cry her eyes out. It could be her grieving place. We've going across the river tomorrow so I can give it to her. Actually, I'll leave it with my sister since my niece will be at work in Sacramento. I'll let my sister give it to her. But anyway, I've knitted that shawl (that we blessed at prayer meeting last night) and have two other shawls in the works as well as several other projects like a hat and a scarf. The yarn I had ordered came in today's mail and I am so pleased with the color. It is exactly what I wanted. And how often does that happen? Not very. Usually you order it and when it comes in it doesn't look anything like the picture you saw in the catalog or on the Internet. I'm going to use that yarn to make a throw for one of my sisters for next year's Christmas gift. I plan to make one for my other sister too. P's yarn is a dusty antique rose, if you can envision that. BJ's will be a soft blue if I can find the right shade. If I can't find the right shade of blue I'll go with another shade of rose. They both have blue and rose/mauve/pink furniture and accents so I'll try to stick to their color choices. I have a year to make both afghans and I think I can make it work out. I will do other projects while I'm working on the throws or afghans but I imagine it will take me quite some time to do them. I meet with a group of knitters from my church and from the community every Tuesday evening for an hour, immediately after prayer meeting (we meet in opposite ends of the church) and joining this group has gotten me back to prayer meeting. I went every Tues night for years and then they decided to change the time to 5:00PM. That's the time I'm usually in the middle of preparing dinner so I stopped going. Then when I decided to go to knitting at 6:00, I thought why not have M put something in the oven for me and we could eat when I got home. He said that would be okay with him so I now go to both meetings on Tues nights. I meet at my friend's house on Friday afternoons for knitting too. She teaches me things and we knit together for a couple hours. A nice, fun, relaxing time. Doing this is something I've never done ... in my entire life! I've never just gone over to a friend's house and visited or did anything else. But we enjoy our Fri afternoons.

A bunch of us knitters met at a restaurant at 1:00 today and said goodbye to one of our group who is leaving to go where it's warmer. That too is something I've rarely ever done. Go to lunch with friends. I'm really trying to open up and come out of my protective world inside my house. There are so many things I don't do because of my hearing loss. They take me out of my comfort zone. But I am trying. I am really trying to open up and be vulnerable. The knitting takes a commitment and I hope to continue. I'm a little frustrated right now though because I keep making mistakes and have to keep ripping it back out. I had one of these shawls about 38 inches long and ripped it completely out and started all over again. There were mistakes in it and I was not happy with it. My niece's shawl has a big mistake in it that she'll probably never even see but I know it's there and it was so obvious when Kath and I blocked it that I really couldn't feel any real satisfaction in having knitted it. I regretted letting that mistake go through so much that I decided I couldn't let that happen again. That's when I came home and ripped it out and started from scratch all over again. I now have it about 33 inches long and I've got a problem with it that I couldn't solve tonight. I hate it when that happens. I use markers that break it down to a workable number of stitches for each marker so I'm able to determine immediately if there's an error I've made but I'm not really very good at defining exactly what the problem is so I can fix it. I had the same thing happen Sun night and I just put it away and then in the morning, with fresh eyes, I was able to distinguish between the stitches and located my mistake and fixed it. I am really, really hoping that that happens again for me. I won't be able to look at it in the morning because we're going across River, but when we get back and I have had a sufficient break from the project, I'm hoping to solve my problem. One thing about knitting, it keeps you on your toes. I was so hoping to go over to Kath's house to knit on Fri without taking a problem with me for her to fix. I went so long without making a lasting mistake and I just want to fix it myself. I want to be able to go over to Kath's and just knit for a change. I am hoping and praying that the Lord will show me tomorrow where I've done the wrong stitch, dropped a stitch, or YO'd when I shouldn't have. You may think it quite strange for me to bring the Lord into my knitting but everything I do is for His glory and when I make a prayer shawl for someone, well, it reflects on Him. I don't even know who these shawls are for. I will knit them, block them, and box them and have them on hand for when someone really needs a prayer shawl. It is a ministry for me to knit and give away these shawls. And they're not necessarily reserved for members of my family or my church family but for anyone who I determine needs a place to cry. When my son died I would have loved to have had someone give me a prayer shawl. I would have wrapped myself in it and cried my eyes out in prayer.

The temp has really dropped tonight. Right now it's 25 degrees outside. The cold front that moved in after the rains we had the other day brought in very cold air behind it. We are due for more rain in a day or so so it will warm back up quickly. I hope.

Well, it has been fun blogging and you might want to check periodically just to see if I've posted. Getting back to blogger tonight has stirred things inside and I recognize the fact that I have missed blogging but I've only got so much time. Maybe I could find a way to blog once a week or so. I do enjoy it very much! I think somehow I'll be able to work in both blogging and knitting into my life. This past month I have saturated myself in knitting because I have forgotten so many things I used to know about it. You know the old phrase: Use it or lose it! How true that is. It frustrates me that I can't go right to a mistake and fix it. I used to be able to do that. So I have spent the past month trying to learn to read my knitting stitches all over again. I have made progress but I still can't do it all by myself all the time yet. I mean, I know where I make a mistake (between 2 markers) I just struggle with reading what I did as opposed to what I should have done. That's the tough thing for me. I really hope I can solve this problem tomorrow. I so wanted to go over to Kath's with no problem for her to solve. But I will swallow my pride and ask for her help if I can't get it done before then.

I can't believe Christmas is right around the corner. I made myself sit down and write out my Christmas cards this morning and then took them to the Post Office after lunch. I have all my gifts bought and wrapped. I did that last week. All I still need to do is attach name tags and bows. I always do the bows just before giving them out. (They stack well in the car without bows and the bows don't get all smooshed.) I decided on what day last week I wanted to shop and then I got up early. But before leaving my driveway I took out a few mins just to sit and pray about my day. I'm not good at shopping. The truth of the matter is that I hate shopping. I get absolutely no enjoyment out of shopping at all. So I prayed for the Lord to go before me and prepare the way for me to find the right gifts for the right prices and for a safe trip over and back. In two hours I was completely done and on my way back home. Then when I got home, rather than just take all the newly-bought gifts into the spare room and deal with them later, I got out everything I need and wrapped them while I was still in the mood to deal with gifts. I figured I had planned on taking all day just to buy some of the presents, might as well dedicate more of my day and get them wrapped. And I had everything wrapped and put away before I had even hope to have them done. What a nice blessing. Did my prayer make a difference? Did it help? Sure didn't hurt any that's for sure. And yes, I think prayer does make a difference. I had asked for a calm spirit and a right attitude and God gave me both and He threw the location of the gifts while He was at it. Prayer always helps and I firmly believe the Lord wants to be included in every detail of our lives. Whenever I start to make a mistake knitting and catch myself, I always say "Thank You" to the Lord. And I always try to remember to pray each day before I start my knitting.

Well it is late so I think I'll let this be it for now. I really can't say when or if I'll be back. I kind of feel like it's a "when" rather than an "if" just by the way I feel after writing this post. I do enjoy blogging. And truthfully I was getting a little bored by it but it's still in my blood. I just can't see me never blogging again. So check my site every week or so and see if I have anything posted. Until then, stay close to the Lord in everything you do. He so desires a close, real relationship with us. He wants to be involved in our lives and that means involving Him in the nuts and bolts of our lives. He wants us to share our lives with Him and He will never reject our attempts to involve Him in our efforts, whatever they may be.

Oh. oh, I have more to say. Last Sun morning I went to church without a hat!! Milestone!!! My hair is still very, very short and you can see scalp in places but it felt good to go and not wear a hat. (Of course now with the cold I'm back to wearing a hat again; go figure.) It is only about an inch long on top but it's long enough now that it's only sticking straight up at the very peak of my head (I can't remember what that's called; the apex??) And I didn't feel too horribly self-conscious about it. It's the first time I'd gone anywhere in public without a head covering in almost 6 months now. That's a bit of a shock to me. I haven't really thought about it but it has taken almost 6 months to grow 1" of hair. Hummm. That's a long time to grow so little. But I'm grateful for getting what I have now. Who knows; it may never be any longer than it is right now. And I'll manage. It may all decide to fall out again. And I'll manage. I have always been the type of woman who is fussy about her hair. Then I had no hair to fuss with. But I'll take what I can get and praise God for every single hair strand.

Until next time...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Uniting Belief and Behavior (Acts 24:14-16)

If we fully understand that we are sinners saved by grace, we may struggle with the idea of a "blameless conscience" (Acts 24:16). After all, we know our own hearts and motivations, don't we? Yet the apostle Paul found a way to ensure that his conscience commended rather than condemned him. Paul had a secret: Paying close attention to his beliefs and his behavior.

Paul went before the Roman governor Felix to plead his case in Acts 24, offering the consistency of his faith and behavior as evidence of innocence. His actions were determined by his convictions ~ namely, that he served the God of his fathers, and God would raise the dead to judgment. Together, these two firm beliefs helped him maintain a clear conscience.

Paul knew, as a student of Christ, that our deeds flow from who we are on the inside. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus described conditions of the heart and illustrated with practical applications. He was saying His followers would be "the light of the world" because of their work, but the work begins in the heart (Matt 5:14-16; Luke 6:45).

Far too often, Christians focus on doing the right thing, rather than on the underlying beliefs that drive such behavior. We can give, serve, or in some other way act "good"; but unless we pay attention to the convictions motivating our actions, we may end up with an unclear conscience after all. If, however, we submit to God and allow Him to transform us totally from the inside out, then our consciences and our testimonies will be strong and clear. We will be able to speak the truth with our deeds.


Just a short little devotional today as I am pressed for time. I have so many things I want to do and so little time to do them in. I finished my first prayer shawl last night. (I still have to bind it off and braid the fringe on each end but the body of the shawl is done.) I hope I can figure out how to do the fringe. If I can't, I'm sure Kathleen will help me out. She's already said she would help me block it over at her house where she doesn't have any inside animals and we can put it on a sheet on the carpeting in the livingroom area until it is blocked and dried. I'm so excited to see what it looks like in it's proper shape. She's done a prayer shawl and that's how she blocked hers. I've never blocked anything so she'll be teaching me how to do that at the same time. I'm hoping we will do that this next Friday. Tonight I'll bind it off and try to get the fringe cut and figured out. It's kind of complicated looking. I'm hoping it's one of those things that look complicated but are really as simple as can be. This prayer shawl will go to my niece whose son, Merle, just died a month or so back. I know I mentioned her to you. I started knitting it for a blogger whose little 2-year-old strangled to death a couple months ago. But the Lord pressed Laurie onto my heart and I made the decision to change it and make it for Laurie. It was funny. As long as I prayed at the end of each side, it came out right. If I forgot to pray, I'd mess up and come out a stitch short or a stitch too long. (Thank God this is a forgiving pattern and yarn to work with because you can't see the mistakes, except for one. That one I mistook the number 6 on my row counter for number 9 and so I have only one row of YOs instead of two. You can definitely see the mistake if you look at it, but unless you really get down and start analyzing it, you won't really notice the mistake. I didn't notice the mistake until I was about 6 inches beyond and there was no way I was going to rip it all out for a mistake that no one's going to notice anyway.) But, as long as I prayed I'd stay even. Also, I had a miracle happen while knitting this prayer shawl. I got near the end of my pattern row and only had a few stitches left on my needle and I counted it out and I was one too many stitches. So I prayed, and voila! it came out even! I had just counted them and I was one over. Then I prayed and that extra stitch disappeared! Honest! It really happened. I'm glad the Lord told me to give this to Laurie because she needs the Lord so desperately in her life. She just got through a divorce from a deadbeat (sorry for being judgmental but that's was he was), then she lost Merle, and now she's kind of teamed up with another deadbeat. (No job with a history of drug use.) Someone she really doesn't need in her life right now. And I'm thinking that all the prayers that went into the making of this shawl will help her find the Lord. She needs the Lord so desperately right now. She was raised a JW also and she's since left that cult but she's like my sister who was a JW; they aren't doing anything spiritually at this time in their lives. We all need the Lord and we need Him ALL the time. Once the Lord led me to make this for Laurie, I prayed for her repeatedly throughout the making of this shawl. So this is a prayer shawl that has had dozens of prayers prayed during the knitting process. So it is truly a prayer shawl in that respect (or is it aspect?). I'm hoping that when she is down and hurting, when the sorrow of losing her firstborn bears down on her, she will be able to wrap herself in this shawl and feel all the prayers and find healing in the Lord. I have offered to share the gospel with her a few times and she's never taken me up on it. But this shawl has power. God made this shawl using my hands. This is God's creation, not mine. I anticipate seeing great things happen.

My hair is really growing out now and I've been going without a hat most of the time around home. You can still see my scalp in a lot of places (okay, most places) but it's looking like a short, short pixie cut. Depending on what it looks like in another month or so, I may keep my hair this way. Live dangerously! I've always wondered what I'd look like with really, really short hair and I'm being forced to experience it. The hair on the crown sticks straight up but the rest is now long enough that it's lying down on my head. The only problem I have is that I have what I consider a round, fat face and a pixie might not be the best decision to go. We'll see. I'm going to make an appointment with my hairdresser and get the sides and back cut with the clippers so it will all be the same length and then just see how I like it as it grows out. (Well, not quite this short. But short.) I've decided to be brave and try going the really short way and see how I like it. It will be wonderful to not have to worry about how it looks and always having to schedule in time needed to fix my hair before we could go anywhere. Some women can get a style to last a few days but mine is an every-day redo and only really looks good for the first couple hours. I hate my hair. It's so hard to work with and there's so little of it, even before it all fell out. It's taken 4 months to get to this stage and I figure it will probably take another 2-3 months to get to the pixie stage. And we'll just see how it goes. Once people get used to my short hair I won't look funny to anyone. Maybe not even to my worst critic: Me!!

Well, my computer is telling me that the autosave has failed and that blogger is down and publishing might fail so this post may just disappear when I try to publish it. Gee I hope not.

We've been having beautiful weather here in our corner of California. Lots and lots of sunshine. Right now the valley fog has moved up and enveloped us. I don't know how long it will stay with us but probably for the rest of the day. Sacramento has been having really dense fog this past week or so. We rarely get fog here although we get more here than when we used to live on Summit. The "kids" were here over the weekend and we had just beautiful weather. John was wearing shorts and tank tops most of the time. Of course they're used to really cold, ocean temps so this was balmy for them. They will be back for New Years. Then Easter. I don't mind because I just go on to church and leave them with Michael, I mean, they are his kids. They don't mind me leaving them for an hour and a half anyway.

Well I've got prayer meeting and knitting tonight so I really should get away from this computer and get a few things done around here. Lots of things to do. I'll go back to knitting the baby blanket as soon as I get my chores done. Sorry I've been so bad about writing lately. Until the next time... (now lets see if this will publish)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Totally Off Topic

I've been super busy and haven't had time to blog but I have a wonderful blessing for you. If you will go to you will see Gretta's Funeral in the side bar. Click on that and wait until Lesley gets up to talk. This was obviously a very difficult time for Lesley but she countered the darkness with the light of God by giving her testimony at her daughter, Gretta's, funeral. Gretta was just two years old when she got tangled up in the pull cords of the window blinds and strangled to death. This woman's testimony is incredible. You will be blessed just by hearing it. I feel so bad for her but you definitely need to hear her testimony. What a heart for the Lord this woman has! It was especially painful to hear for me since I just went over to Stagecoach Nevada to a memorial service for my nephew who died accidentally of a drug overdose on this past Saturday. Although there was a world of difference between my nephew's death and Gretta's, they both deal with the ultimate truth. All living things eventually die and even though, as Christians, we know the dead aren't really dead, they are, nonetheless, taken from us. Some at 2 years of age and some at 18 or older. Although the Christian knows this life isn't the real life, it is still the only life we've ever known so what do we do when we face a hardship that is bigger than ourselves? What do we do when God doesn't make sense? What are we to think and what are we to believe? Tough questions but we will all ask one or all of them at least once in life. At least once in life, God's will will not make sense to any of us. So even the strongest Christians mourn when death makes a housecall. Even the strongest Christians are left wondering how all this makes sense in God's will. Psalm 139 talks about God knowing the number of days we have to live even before we're born. What an awesome God! He formed us in the belly of our mothers and foreordained our entire lives before we'd yet taken our first breath. What Lesley does is show us that God is in control and that everything that happens, happens because of His good and perfect will. We will be left with questions and God may not give us the answers but His will for us, for each of us, is good and perfect. Death doesn't change that. She deals with facts; not feelings. The fact is that Gretta lived and the fact is that Gretta died and yet the greatest fact of all is that Gretta still lives. She now lives with God. She has a physical place to live. Heaven. What does all that mean? It means that Gretta lives on in our memories but, even more, she lives on in God's sight.


Things have been hectic for me the past week or so. I'm up to my nose in knitting and can't seem to squeeze out enough time in the day to knit all I want to knit. I have two things going on at the same time. I have a baby blanket that I may end up ripping out if it looks like I don't have enough yarn to finish it. I had 7 or 8 skeins of yarn left from years and years ago when I used to knit all the time and I wanted to use it up and thought there'd be enough yarn to do a blanket but I'm beginning to think I won't have enough to finish the project. So I've put that on the back burner until I can get to WalMart to see if by some miracle I can find the same shade of yellow (a very soft, very muted yellow) so I can buy more. And we all know the shade has to be a perfect match or it will show in the blanket. It's from a "no dye lot" color but who's to say the color is still around after 20 years? But I don't feel like knitting on it anymore and risk just having to rip it out. So yesterday when we were shopping I bought a book about a Prayer Shawl Ministry and there was a shawl in there that I decided I wanted to knit so I bought the yarn to do it too. Now I don't have the correct needle size and this yarn isn't the easiest to knit with because your needles (or mine anyway) keep picking up a few strands of yarn from other stitches and you (I) have to keep fighting the yarn so the question is: Do I want to invest all my time and energy to do something this big just to have to fight with the yarn all the way through??? That would be enough to turn anybody away from knitting. So while I think on that I'll investigate the idea of knitting myself a hat. I bought a couple skeins last month of some yarn that I think will make a cute hat and there may be enough of it to do a scarf to match. Knitting, knitting, knitting. That's all that's in my head lately. But this is the type of person I am. I'm always gung ho until I tire of it and get it out of my system. I'm that way with writing too. I know I need to sit down and write some devotionals but I just can't seem to get myself to sit down and do anything other than knit.

We've got company coming in this weekend and I am not in the least prepared for them. My house is a mess and here I sit at the computer! Gee! I wonder why the house is such a mess. Go figure! I also bought the yarn for a scarf for my daughter-in-law. She has misplaced the one I made her two years ago for Christmas so I thought I'd make her another one. Now look!! I'm back to knitting! But this is Tuesday, my knitting day so maybe it's okay. [Just had to stop and do something mundane and domestic. I got the trash out of the garage for tomorrow morning's pick up. I have to do that earlier in the day because when feeding time comes (4:00pm) I like to be able to close down the garage door while the cats are eating and get them in for the night. So I got that taken care of.]

I now have 3 hours before prayer meeting and 4 hours until my knitting group meets. The only problem with the knitting group is that it's only an hour long. I'd like to go until 8:00 and make it a two-hour event. But Friday I'm going to take the time to go to a private knitting lesson with my dear friend Kathleen. She's so good to be willing to work with me individually. There's so much I need to learn. I mean, I want to know how to do everything. And I want to learn it all now!! I'll take my books over Friday and get a lesson in how to read the patterns. The one I picked out in the shawl book was easy enough that even I figured it out. It's just a simple repeated design: yo k2 tog, yo k2 tog, etc. It gives a nice open weave to the shawl and should go pretty fast. The only problem I may have is that I've already dropped two needle sizes and I'm still too big on my gauge swatch. I will find out tonight if I need to drop down even further. It's a very open weave but I don't want it to be too open. And I'll continue to work with this sample yarn until I've decided whether I want to invest my time in fighting this yarn. The yarn I've worked with before but I didn't seem to struggle so much when I knitted all the scarves two years ago. The k2 tog is a very tight fit and I end up taking yarn from other stitches and getting them mixed up with the stitch I'm trying to make. Neither of these negatives are enough to make me cast my vote outside of the project but the two together may just be telling me that I'd hate knitting this shawl and I don't want to have that experience. The thing is, I want to be knitting something. As long as I can keep something going at all times I'm okay. I just don't want this to be another project I start and then don't finish because it's stressful. Knitting is not supposed to be stressful.

Our weather is overcast and dreary. Not really cold though. Cold enough for a sweater or over shirt but not cold enough for a coat. We may get a few scattered showers tonight and tomorrow but they really aren't expecting much. On our drive over Carson Pass on Saturday there was no snow in the mountains at all. You could see remnants of a snowfall in the shadows of the rocks and things but you could tell it had been a long time since it had snowed. Here it is almost Thanksgiving and no snow for skiers. It's going to be a lean year for the resorts I guess. The weather over the pass was overcast and the wind was cold.

Once we got into Carson City we drove past the Ormsby House Hotel where M and I stayed on our wedding night. A little ways up the street was the old courthouse where M and I got married 36 years ago last week. It was good to get out in the world. I can't remember the last time I took a trip of over 30 miles. It would have been years and years ago. We made it to Stagecoach in good time and in fact, ended up waiting for some people who called and said they'd be a little late. His memorial was well attended. There were quite a few young people there. Hopefully facing the reality of what drugs can do, will be a deterrent to any of them considering that way of life. Merle had so much talent. His music. His art. His writings. So much incredible talent and it is no more. Merle lived too short a life, anyway you look at it.

After the service we all (my sisters, my son and his wife, my nephew and his family) drove to Tahoe and met up at the Monte Bleu (or however it's spelled) and had dinner. Then everyone played for a little while. I didn't play because I think gambling is very boring. You just sit there and feed the money into the machine, hit the spin button, and watch your money disappear. What kind of fun is that? My brother-in-law, son, and sister actually took a little money home with them. My other sister lost. I don't know how my nephew and his wife did. But that seemed to brighten everybody's day a little. We left Tahoe and headed home and I thought it was probably going to be midnight before I could get home but as it turned out we made record time from Tahoe and I was able to get to my car parked at my sister's house before 10:00. I made it to my house by 10:30 so all in all it was a long day but was an opportunity to get out. I don't know why I am so uncomfortable being away from home. It's just the way I am.

Guess this will have to do for today. Hopefully this will publish. It's failed every time it's attempted an autosave so I don't know if the entire blogger is down or if it's just the autosave. Guess I'll find out when I hit the publish post button. So until next time...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our Treasure (1Jn 2:15-17)

God owns all our great "treasurers," regardless of what we consider to be "valuables." Our talent, our time, and our resources all belong to Him. Our responsibility and goal should be to manage these treasures wisely and invest them as He provides.

We are expected to help meet our own needs with what the Lord provides from His unlimited "storehouse." Philippians 4:19, for example, tells us "God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Some people have interpreted this as a license to wait idly upon the Lord and to do nothing for themselves. But Scripture is clear when it speaks of toiling for six days and resting on the Sabbath (Ex 20:9-10). Most of our basic needs are met through our jobs, so it's wise to invest our time and talents in gainful employment.

Furthermore, God wants us to use our resources to help others regardless of whether their poverty is financial, spiritual, or emotional. The best way to be helpful is by promoting God's work in our community and around the world. If you see a need, see if you can meet that need. Jesus commanded that His followers preach the gospel and disciple younger or newer believers. A portion of what we have ~ our time, talent, and money ~ should be devoted to reaching the lost, because there is simply no greater need anywhere. The Lord's work also includes seeing that people are clothed, stomachs are full, and hearts are mended ~ these, too, are worthy biblical causes.

We can't lay claim to any of our talents; they all belong to God. The riches He places in our hands should be held loosely and invested wisely. To be good stewards of all that the Lord has given to us, we, in turn, must be willing to give up easily and freely; with no strings attached.


Not the most interesting blog today or maybe it's just me. Must have sounded important when I wrote it. And I think it's a little shorter than usual too. My friend, Ginny, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl early Sunday morning. You can check out Beatrix's beauty by logging onto http://smallthingswithgreatlove. I feel just like a proud grandma again! No kidding; I do!

I really need to get some housework done today but if I were a betting person, I'd bet not much will get done. I'm just not in the mood and my shoulder is killing me again today. I woke up with a bum left shoulder yesterday and it's taking its own sweet time about clearing up. The biggest problem with growing old is all the aches and pains for seemingly no reason at all. You just wake up every morning with pain somewhere on your body. Oh well, at least I know I'm still alive when I'm hurting somewhere.

I have no real plans for the day until this evening. I have prayer meeting at 5:00 followed by my knitting group at 6:00. I've got three knitting projects that I'd like to do so I have done my preliminary gauge swatches. (Is that the right word I'm after?) Anyway I got all of them done and none of them are the size they are supposed to be which may mean that I'll need to go down in needle size since they're all bigger than they are supposed to be. Only problem I have is that I don't have a smaller needle than the one I used. So that may mean a trip up the mountain to buy one at the only yarn shop anywhere near me. I haven't been up there in years so I'd like to drive up. But I'd like to do it sometime when I have lots of money and can buy lots of things instead of making the trip for just one item. I just want to make something besides scarves. That's all I've done for a couple years now. I picked out the most gorgeous pair of baby booties I want to knit and I've got the perfect yarn for them. This is yarn that I bought at least 15 years ago but the color is so unreal. It's like looking a something green within a block of ice. Does that make sense? It's green but it's not really green. It's like looking at something green through ice. That's the best way I can describe the color. If you saw a strand of the yarn by itself you'd think it was white yarn. But look at the entire skein and you can see the green hidden inside the yarn. I've never seen a color of yarn using that technique. They will be beautiful booties when I get them done but I'm using a #3 needle and that's the smallest I go down to. I may need to buy a #2 or even a #1 to get my swatch the correct size. Then after I get that done I will need to figure out how to read the pattern. You know, when I knitted years ago I didn't have any problem reading the patterns or doing any of the stitches. I didn't have anyone helping me; I did it all by myself. When I learned how to knit when I was 15 years old, I learned how to hold my yarn and needles, how to do the knit and purl stitches and how to cast off and on and I taught myself how to do everything else I needed to know. I had a small book with diagrams and illustrations and text to describe what to do and I figured everything out. I made a couple really nice afghans that required an entire range of stitches and combinations of stitches and a vest that I knitted but never got put together plus dozens of house slippers. I knew how to do all this. And then I didn't knit for15 years and I've forgotten how to do almost everything. And the book I used before to teach myself how to knit is no where to be found. All I can think is that the book was with a big bag of yarn and yarn pieces that I sold at a yardsale when I didn't think I would be knitting any more. But I kept all my needles, figure that one out. But I do remember selling all that yarn and my book must have been in that bag of yarn. It just makes me sick that I've forgotten how to read patterns and do the more complicated stitches and it makes me sick to lose that book. It's that old saying: Use it or lose it. But some how I managed to save the skein of "ice" yarn and it will make beautiful booties if I can ever figure out how to read the pattern.

The weather has been beautiful this past week. Cold at night and warm during the day. Just perfect weather. The Fall trees are a bit past their prime but they are still beautiful splashes of color around town. My yard is desperately in need of a raking. What a mess! But I don't plan on getting out there anytime soon and doing something about it. Not until my shoulder is better. Lots better.

I guess I should get busy and do something. M and I, neither one, seem to have an abundance of energy today. Maybe the changing seasons are catching up with me. For some reason I just felt drained of energy for the past few days. All I seem to want to do lately is sleep. I took two short naps yesterday and it felt soooooooo good. I laid down and slept about 20 mins and then I got up and did a few things and then since M was still sleeping in the bedroom, I laid back down on the couch and slept for another 20 mins. Two short naps felt really good but I did feel a little guilty. I don't think I'll hesitate to do a repeat of yesterday if by chance M decides to lie down again today but I'll try to nix the guilty feelings.

I guess I'm going to let this be it for today. I need to get up and around and get busy doing something. Anything! I just called the yarn shop to see exactly where they are located and I got a recording that it is no longer a working number. So they must have gone out of business. Guess that takes care of those tentative plans. Well I'm going to go get busy doing something. See you next time...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Believer at Work

In no way is the believer's work simply a daily job. Anytime we utilize the gifts and talents God has given us, we are ~ regardless of where we're at or what we're doing ~ laboring for His kingdom. We might be doing something obviously scriptural, like teaching Sunday School or building houses for the poor. Or we may be using our abilities for a more subtle purpose, such as comforting a grieving friend. Whatever we are doing, God expects our efforts to be genuine and the work to be done well, with a joyful, thankful heart. Whatever we do, we need to do it with the right attitude.

A believer works with energy. As God's children we are divinely gifted so that we can serve the Lord by serving others. To neglect or refuse to use our talents or to be undisciplined in our duties is quite simply disobedience. Paul wrote that those who are lazy or slothful, being idle when there are thing to be done, deserve to be shamed (2Th 3:10-14).

A believer works with enthusiasm. Let us never forget that the Lord is doing exciting things through our puny human hands. Knowing that we are taking part in His kingdom work, whatever the task, should be enough to motivate us to make ourselves useful ~ and to do so with a joyful heart.

A believer works with excellence. The Lord has prepared us with just the right talent to accomplish the work He set out for us to do. For this reason alone, we cannot justify or tolerate shoddy or half-hearted work and efforts. Though we may at times fail in an endeavor, doing our very best will always please our heavenly Father.

Once in awhile we all get tired and don't feel like participating in God's work with exuberance. These feelings, however, don't negate our responsibility ~ we're here to serve the Lord. Decide right now to perform God's labors with enthusiasm, excellence, and energy for as long as He gives you strength.


Well, here it is Friday and another week is drawing to a close. And it seems like I didn't accomplish much. Sigh. I had meetings and doctor appts and plenty of chores (most of which I ignored). I finished the red scarf I was working Tuesday night and now I have a blue one to make but I found some yarn I bought in the late 80s which is such a beautiful color (that's probably why I still have it) and started on a project. It is the softest green I've ever seen. It's really like looking at a pale green sculpture through a block of ice and if my memory serves me correctly that was it's color name ~ Ice Green or something like that. Anyway I have a pattern for the most darling baby booties and I thought I would make those. The only thing is that I casted on (and I did it the correct way since Kathleen taught me how) the right number of stitches and knitted and purled the first couple rows and then I came to a "knit increase" and I just could not figure out how to do that to save my life. I have some other yarn on another need so I can practice without having to rip out my project. And I tried and tried and tried and I just couldn't get the hang of it so that project has been put on the back burner until Tuesday night when I can get some help from either Kathleen or Ani at the Knitting Group. The ice green yarn I have is just one small skein so I can't make anything big out of it so I thought maybe I could squeeze out two pairs of booties. I have two blogging friends who are expecting babies and I thought it would be neat to make booties for their babies. Of course one friend is due any day so I may not be able to give the booties to her as the baby may out grow them before I get them finished at the rate I'm going. It really shouldn't take me long once I get going on them. They will make absolutely precious booties with this pattern and the ice color. I will continue to practice on my practice swatch and maybe, just maybe, I will figure it out before Tuesday and can get busy with them. It can't be all that hard. I once knew how to do this because I knew how to do all the stitches back in the late 80s or very early 90s. But that was a long time ago. The basics, the knit and purl, are like riding a bike. Once you learn how to ride a bike, you've got that skill for life. I know how to cast on, knit, purl, and cast off. All the other fancy stitches I have completely forgotten how to do. So I'm frustrated today because I want to be knitting and I'm stuck on a stitch instead. Boo!

My son came over earlier to get a bag of newspapers they can use for packing and informed me that if this new job doesn't work out for some reason, he and Tamara have decided to move to Hawaii or San Diego. Both of which are a long way from me. I've been spoiled having them live so close to me for so many years. It breaks my heart to think of him moving away. I don't know what I will do without him. And it's not just that I'd be losing my computer tech, it's not being able to hug him. Go to church with him, etc., etc. I will be back to sitting alone up near the front of the sanctuary all by myself. I love my son and I'm not ashamed to admit it. We still care enough to hug every time we see each other. I just can't imagine what it would be like not living near him. But I do want him to be happy.

Me? I'm not happy today. I ended up getting up early and I poured myself a cup of coffee, sat down on the couch, and proceeded to cry over Mulder. I have never mourned an animal this long, this deeply. He was just such a terrific cat. And to just watch him slowly die was horrible. Anyway, first it was Mulder, and now it's that Ken and Tamara may move away. Add to that the fact that I can't figure out that stupid stitch and I'm just not having such a hot day today.

I mailed a letter to an old friend today. Our friendship didn't end well. It ended in a misunderstanding and a whole lot of anger. But she didn't know the truth about the entire episode and I just wanted to clear the air with her. We'll never be friends again I don't think but at least she now knows the whole truth instead of just half of it. That was 6 or 7 years ago so it's taken me a long time to clear the air. But it took me years just to figure out the misunderstanding.

This is going to be it today. Take care and I'll blog again in a few days. Bye...

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Today is really Monday November 10, 2008 no matter what blogger shows for today's date. So yesterday, November 9, 2008, was my turn to give the congregational prayer. This was my prayer I gave:

Heavenly Father,
We come before You this morning with various needs. We have hurts and disappointments. We're making our way through trials and afflictions; pains and sorrows. We think we can control our own lives and we run helter skelter, here and there, and then we realize we aren't really going anywhere at all. We're stuck in the muck and the mire of this life and we don't have any strength ... or we just can't figure out the next step to take. So we come to You this morning, Lord. Some of us have joys and some have sadness. Some of us know exactly where we're going and some of us are lost and can't seem to find our way at all. So we come to You, our Rock. Our Fortress. We confess that most of us are bent and broken. But some of us are stronger than we've ever been. No matter where we are in our walk, we come to You. You are our Strength and our Compass; our Help and our Comforter. You fill us when we are empty and rejoice with us when we are filled. In You, we find our purpose and fulfillment. In You, we discover who we are meant to be. In You, we find shelter when the storms of life prevail against us. And so this morning we come to You with our needs and praises, fully expecting You to continue to work in our lives, just as You said you would.

Lord, You are our mighty God. Holy and Pure. Strong and Faithful. We believe Your Word, Lord. You have promised to care for us and walk with us through our trials and stresses. And we believe You. You have promised us that You'll always go before us against all odds. And we believe You. You have promised to be our God if we will but trust You; and we believe You. You are dependable and faithful, trustworthy to do all You promise to do. And we praise You in joy and thanksgiving. We praise You for Your faithfulness and we will always trust You to do what's right. We may get bogged down in our failures but You are always trustworthy to do all You say You'll do. And we praise you in our spirits and our lives. We praise You for Your love and care.

Forgive us, Father, for our failures and sins. So many times we promise we'll do better, only to fail, and then to fail again. We are guilty of our unfaithfulness, our unbelief, and our out-right, blatant sins. We confess that we are sinners of the worst kind and we beg for Your forgiveness.

We thank You, Father, for providing a way for us to stand ... redeemed before You. We thank You, Jesus, for dying for us and filling us with the hope of eternity. And we thank You, Holy Spirit, for giving us the assurance of acceptance. Lord, we thank You for Your unfailing love. We thank You for being everything we need no matter what the circumstances. And so we stand before You today ... totally forgiven, totally righteous in Christ, and totally humbled that You would accept us just as You find us. We thank You, Lord, for Your grace and ask that You glorify Yourself in our lives as we go about our daily routines in this dark world. We love You, Lord, with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. May Your light shine brightly in all of us. And when people notice the light, may they turn and see Christ Jesus in us. May we live the rest of our lives for Your glory alone, Lord, and toward this goal we stand in awe before You. Amen.


Rather than doing a devotional I thought I'd let my prayer be the devotional. I was so nervous since this was my first time to pray before the entire congregation. My mouth got so dry I thought it was the Sahara Desert in disguise! It was awful. I was literally tripping over my tongue there at the end. If there is a way to stub a tongue, I did it. I always get a good case of dry mouth when I'm nervous. I had thought about chewing gum because that always helps but I hadn't wanted to have talk around gum, that's always a no-no in public speaking. My dear friend suggested I place a glass of water up at the lectern before services next time so I'll be able to battle my dry mouth. I wish I'd have thought of that because I knew I was going to have a problem. But I made it through without messing up. I choked once over something and had to cough lightly, but I was surprised how well I did up there. God truly blessed me with a sense of calmness (is that a word?) and it really is to His credit not mine. But once I found my voice it really went smoothly. I didn't know how long to take but I figured five mins wouldn't be too long and so I kept it right at 5 mins and I was able to pray slowly. No case of motor mouth like I feared. Everyone will always talk faster in front of people so I mentally planned a few pauses. They worked. I was really quite please with the way the Lord worked it all out.

We had small group this morning and my adorable son led the discussion group. He did really well and we all learned a few things about the church itself. One of the discussion points was: In one sentence, explain the "church" to someone who doesn't know anything about the church. (Or something like that.) We had some really long sentences LOL. No, all kidding aside. It amazes me how much thinking the believer is responsible for. When I was a Jehovah's Witness, they always did the thinking for us. No matter what issue was being discussed, individual thinking was frowned upon. When they asked a question they always supplied the answer and it was the only correct answer. If you didn't understand something you were to let the governing body or the "remnant" explain things to you. And so the errors were passed down through the years. Of course they say they are the only ones who know the "truth" so where else could you go for answers. Having your own opinion was discouraged and bordered on heresy. Having your own definition of something was called "higher criticism" and if you disagreed with the "food" they put out, then you were on the Devil's side. There is only one truth to them and that is the Jehovah's Witnesses organization's idea of the truth. Never, never let anyone else do your thinking for you. Especially on matters pertaining to your salvation!!! I can't emphasize that enough. Always make sure that you know what the Bible says and aren't relying on someone else to tell you what it says. That's the heart of much blasphemy. God does not have an earthly organization no matter how ardently they say He does. God has an individual organization. A group of just two. God and the believer. The Lord works within each and every one of us, individually. It's a relationship consisting of just two persons. You and God. We have the indwelling Spirit to teach us Scripture. He will use various methods and various people to lead us, but only the Holy Spirit can interpret Scripture for us. And He will do it. He has His own ways but His ways are always right.

It's time for me to feed all my animals so I'm going to let this be it for today and maybe I can get back to you with some other thoughts later in the week. Until next time...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Our Talents (1Peter 4:10-11)

We are born with a number of natural talents or "gifts" as those of us in the Church prefer to call them. These are the natural abilities each of us have been given according to what the Lord plans to accomplish in and through our lives. When we are "born again" and become children of God, the Holy Spirit will then dwell within us and give us one or more spiritual gifts.

As Christians, we are called to be servants and stewards of God. He bestows specific abilities to enable us to carry out His good work both locally and throughout the world. Our responsibility is to evaluate how we have been gifted and to prayerfully consider where our talents will be most helpful. Scripture gives a varied list of ministries through which to minister to others effectively (1Cor 12:5-7). Much of our work will take place outside the church building and may not even resemble "Christian service," but every God-directed use of our gifts and abilities serves Him.

We are perfectly free to use God's gifts to us in anyway we choose; yet, we should take seriously Jesus' warning in the parable about a man who gave money to three of His servants. Two of these servants invested their sums wisely and increased the monies they had been given, but the third man did absolutely nothing with his share. When the servants were called to account, their master was pleased with the first two who had increased their amounts, but he was angry with the one who had "wasted" his gift (Matt 25:14-30).

Someday every one of us will be called to give an account of how we used the gifts and talents given to us by our Master (Rom 14:12). If we desire to please the Lord we will need to identify our strengths and talents and make every effort to use them for the Lord. Looked at one way, our entire lives are given to us as gifts and God expects us to use our bodies and our lives in the very act of giving to others. We should be ever increasing the sum of our talents. Our lives should demonstrate to the world, a life lived for the kingdom. When we do that, our sum automatically increases. If we allow God to work through us, He will take the gift we've been given, no matter how small that amount might be, and will increase the amount. This act of increasing is in progress as long as we yield to the voice of the Holy Spirit Who makes the growth happen in the first place. If we just make ourselves available to Him, the Spirit will give us increase. God can reap a bountiful crop of righteousness out of our willingness to surrender our entire lives to Him. Our primary role in the process is simply to abide, to make ourselves available, and then to yield and surrender our individual wills unto the perfect will of our Lord. He will make the increase; we needn't really do anything at all. All we need to do is stand ready and willing to be used unto God's glory. We plant and water but it's God that makes things grow. And He chooses to do this through us. Isn't that incredible?! God has everything at His disposal and he chooses to use us! May we always be submissive unto Him. If we are willing, God will make us a mountain. If we are willing, God will open the floodgates and let the waters rush out. What a marvelous miracle! He takes a shriveled up, dead stick, applies His love to it, and then grafts it into the vine. His life flows through the once-shriveled stick, and He produces fruit for His kingdom.


Michael is back to walking most of the time. His doctor said yesterday that he could start walking on it again. He will still use the wheelchair to go to the back of the house most of the time. It's a little sore today after having the external bar manipulated a bit yesterday. Dr. Smalley tilted the toe downward a bit so it wouldn't point up and rub the top of his shoe. That could be painful in the future if not fixed in the early stages while the joint is still bendable.

I had a very busy week and I survived! Hard to believe but I made it through. And Joann's advice to "just do one thing at a time" saved my sanity. When I looked at the whole week at a time, it looked impossible. But when I narrowed it down to just one thing at a time, it was really quite easily done and there was very little stress. Isn't it amazing how people can tell you the most obvious and simple thing and it can change your entire outlook on life? A week ago I was really stressing about all the things I was going to be faced with in that upcoming week, and just taking things one at a time, it was relatively easy.

My friend Kathleen and I are planning to get together on Wed and she's going to teach me the correct way to cast stitches onto a knitting needle. She's also got a DVD to loan me to watch before we get together. She'll give me the DVD on Sun and then I'll return it to her on Tues night.

I can't tell you how much fun I am having on Tues nights. Not only am I back with my beloved group at prayer meeting, but I'm actually socializing in the knitting group. It's just fun getting together. Kathleen has asked me if I'd be willing to give a devotional one of these Tues nights and I said of course. That reminds me that I have to give the congregational prayer on Sun during church. A select group was asked to pray for the congregation. It will be my first time getting up in front of everyone. I desperately need your prayers because I get so nervous being up front and knowing people are looking at me. Please pray that I won't faint from fear. When I have to get up and give deacon reports at the quarterly meetings I just about die. And now I'm going to get up there and do this before the entire congregation! What was I thinking!!! Actually I was thinking of the awesome opportunity to pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am honored to have been asked to participate. Just, Lord, take my fear ... my stage fright ... away and let me concentrate solely on you. Please pray for me.

My hair is still growing. Ever so slowly but eventually I may be able to go around without hats and do-rags. Then I'll start stressing out about not being able to get my hair to do anything. I'm still grieving Mulder and I'm wondering how long it will be before I can do things in my kitchen without grieving him. Whenever I was in the kitchen, he was always in there with me, climbing my legs and meowing at me until I'd finally stop and pick him up and give him a big Mulder hug. This morning I got up and was fine. Then M wanted sausage and biscuits for breakfast and I went into the kitchen to cook the breakfast. And Wham! I got slapped with the cold, hard reality that Mulder will never again bug me in the kitchen. I will never again be able to hug my beautiful baby boy. Life can be so cruel and unfair! I miss him terribly. Terribly!

Our weather has turned off the heat these days. But I guess considering that it's November it's about time for that to happen. The days are warm still but the nights are cold. My electric blanket feels so good at night with the cold, night air coming in the open widow above my head. Michael may try sleeping in the bed again tonight. I've have a week and a half of having the bed all to myself and now I'm going to have to get used to the light being on until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning while M reads. It's so nice to just be able to go to bed and turn off the light and go to sleep. My problem is that when I'm ready to go to bed, I'm ready to go to sleep. I want the light off. But life is a game of give and take and I guess it's time for me to give a little for awhile. I can barely manage to stay awake long enough to read my devotionals. In fact, for the last two or three nights, I've not been able to read them all. I read one and then my eyes start crossing and everything goes out of focus and I know it's time to go to sleep.

We had our first 4:00 pm Deacon Board meeting last night and I kind of liked the time change. It felt good to get home and still have some of the day left. The Executive Board meeting next week isn't until 7:30 and it's quite often 9:00 or 9:30 before we get out of there.

I went across the river and did our monthly shopping all by myself on Wed. Usually M and I divide up the list and I get half and he gets half. We finish in half the time and half the trouble. Doing it all by myself was exhausting and it took me several hours. Of course I spent some of that time by myself trying to determine whether or not I wanted to buy a knitting book. I didn't buy it and now wish I had.

Well that pretty well brings you up to date in the goings on in my life. It feels great to be able to blog again!!! Take care and stay close to the Lord. Until next time...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

After the Heartbreak

Well, as it turned out, the week I expected to be the busiest (and therefore no blogs) was the week that I had the most time to write. It's amazing how much time I have waiting on my hubby. He gets up and sits in the wheelchair for a change from the recliner so while I sit around waiting for him to get tired of sitting there I write. I push him to the back of the house so he can freshen up and check his emails, and I sit and write waiting for him to be finished. Then I push him back to the front of the house and position him in front of the TV and I sit and write waiting for him to want something else. So I've had all kinds of time to write. Seems like every time I put out a "you-won't- hear-from-me-for-awhile" blog, I end up writing the most.

It's a rainy day here in the foothills. It rained a little off and on all day yesterday and of course it rained the night before while I was out burying Mulder. We're supposed to get a good soaking rain today but so far it's been very light. I don't know if that means it's missing us entirely or if it just means we're going to get the heavier stuff later this evening. Regardless, I don't want it raining in the morning when I have to go to church early to prepare for communion. But that remains a big mystery as of right now. So many of the trees around town have turned color. To look out my glass sliding doors is to see a palate to Nature's beautiful colors spread out on the hillside. Yellows, oranges, reds, greens and browns. It's a dark day today so they don't look as vibrant but they are still beautiful to look at. On a sunny day some of the yellows are so bright it's a tiny bit painful to look at them. It seems that nature shouts with God's glory sometimes.

I got an email from Laurie and it sounds like she's taking things a little better than I did. She's a strong person. She always has been. I'm missing Mulder today and my mood matches the darkness of this rainy day. I don't like death. It steals from us. It comes and takes someone or something we love and never brings them back. I'm just heart sick over this past week. It's been a week I don't care to repeat in any way. But I will miss Mulder for a long, long time. My granddaughter just lost her cat a month or so ago. Seems like there's been an awful lot of grief going around the family of late. I have lost a total of five cats in the last couple years. I'm surprised I'm still sane.

I've got a busy week coming up. Maybe that's good. Most of it will be spent driving Michael to and from places. I need to get him over to the hospital for foot X-Rays. Then to the Senior Center to vote. Then on Wednesday I have to take him across the river to see his regular healthcare provider and then on Thursday I have to do a repeat and take him back to the same medical complex to see his podiatrist who did the surgery on his foot. Then for me, I have Small Group Monday morning, two meetings Tuesday night, a doctor's appointment to change for me, and a meeting Thursday afternoon. I was stressing over all these responsibilities yesterday before the funeral and my friend Joann leaned over and said, "Just do one thing at a time. That's all you have to do. One thing at a time." She changed my entire outlook. So now every time I start to stress I just tell myself, "Do one thing at a time."

Just made a trip out to the grocery store and it's raining pretty good out there. I tried to pick up some unleavened cracker bread for communion in the morning but they don't carry anything like that. I'm not sure if we have enough for tomorrow. If I don't have enough, I'll go back to the
wafers, I guess since I couldn't buy an extra box to use as insurance. Hopefully, I'll have enough crackers but I really don't think I do. I'll call Margaret and see if she's got some at her house then

[Well, I just had a basket of flowers delivered to my door. My son and daughter-in-law sent it to me for losing Mulder. My family knows how much I love my cats and how deeply I grieve when I lose one. I sometimes envy the people who can keep their animals at a distance and not come apart when they die, but then I think, no, I'd rather go through the grief and just love them with my whole heart and let it break when need be. But I have to confess that whenever one dies, it is tempting to become hard. I have a friend in my small group who would never understand my grief. He doesn't like pets of any kind. I think of what he's missing out on and I feel sorry for him. But right now, to be perfectly truthful, I feel pretty sorry for myself.]

I can drive over and pick up a box from her. [Whew! got that taken care of and I can stop worrying about tomorrow morning. That makes two excursions out into the rain and I hope it's the last one.] I had all month to remember to pick up more crackers from Margaret. We used to use the prepackaged communion wafers but then we decided to switch to Matzos bread and when we did that, Margaret was down in Sacramento and she bought a big case of the bread (crackers, really). That's why she had some. But this was a different brand. She said she bought it at Safeway across the river because we had run out of the ones from the case she bought. So I'll just start picking it up when I buy the grape juice for communion and bypass Margaret altogether. It's silly for her to have to "guess" when I'll need more. And it's silly for me to need to go to her to get them. I already buy the juice, I may as well buy the bread too.

I just realized I haven't had my quiet time yet today. I got thrown off because while I waited for Michael to finish in his bathroom I went into mine and the three devotionals I keep in there to be read "whenever" during the day were lying there on the counter and it just so happened that I had the time to read them all. So I guess in a sense I've had my quiet time. I just used different devotionals. Now I need to take these three devotionals and my Bible into the bedroom (away from the football noise on TV) and have my real quiet time with my usual devotionals. You know, I'm an impulse buyer. I hate that I am and I have always tried really, really hard to break that bad habit but it continues to hang on. Anyway, I'm glad that I have finally started reading my devotionals because I have nine that I'm currently using and they were all bought on impulse. Each time promising myself that I would actually read this or that devotional but then they always ended up just collecting dust. But since April or May I've been consistent with them to read all of them every day. It only takes a very few minutes to read a devotional (except for Streams in the Desert) and doing them the way I am, spreading them out, I end up pretty well bathing my heart and mind in Scripture and inspirational, spiritual thoughts all day long. And I'm finally reading the books I bought on impulse. It takes discipline to create a good habit and I've never really had any discipline to spare in my life. I am a great procrastinator. I always start out with the best of intentions, but don't have what it takes to continue something day after day and month after month. I've been six months on this routine and so far I've kept at it. That has got to be a record for me.

Well, it's getting late in the day so I should push myself away from the computer and get something done for the day. It's hard to do anything because of Michael being out here in the center of things with the football noise blaring from the television. I have to keep reminding myself that it's not football that I dislike so much as the crowd noise that goes along with it. I can barely walk through the livingroom what with the recliner opened up to make a bed and then a kitchen chair pushed up to the foot of the recliner with pillows piled high to keep M's foot elevated. Then he's got a coffee tray placed on one side of his chair and another small table on the other side. All the furniture is pushed back out of the way to make room for all this and the wheel chair. I can barely walk through the room, let alone do any cleaning or anything. And it hasn't even been a week yet! It's going to be a very long couple of weeks until he can start getting around on his own. But I can clean off my table and I think I'll have my quiet time in the bedroom away from the TV and then clear off the table. I've got my knitting piled there and I need to decide whether I'm going to make a blue or a red scarf next and then once I decide I can cast the stitches onto my needles and get started knitting. M needs his bandages rearranged so I guess I better hop to it. I don't know why that ace bandage keep loosening the way it does! It's frustrating!

Sorry for the boring blog but I'm trying to keep you informed while I deal with my own issues and I'm not sure what interests you the most. It may be that if I don't write a devotional, you'd just as soon I didn't write at all. I'm just never quite sure what appeals to people. A peek into my boring life or a devotional-only type format. It's my blog; I suppose I can write what I feel like writing. But I'd like people to enjoy what they read. I definitely will not blog for a few days as I know right now that I will not have time. So I'll take a break here and give you guys some air to breathe while I'm at it. Stay close to the Lord and I'll write again in a few days. Bye...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another Hard Day

Merle died at 11:19 last night. They took him directly to surgery and harvested his organs and then had his body transported to a mortuary for cremation. What a horrible ordeal! Thank God that I had people there to do my thinking for me when Richie died. I wish I had had him cremated instead of buried in a coffin. I would still have him with me in a sense if I had his ashes. Michael wants to be cremated and his ashes scattered off the beach where we scattered his best friend's ashes several years ago. Tom lived in Ohio and his wife, Judy, shipped his ashes to us and we drove over to the coast and scattered his ashes as Tom had requested before he died. We scattered his ashes and saluted him with a toast of champagne. (Or was it beer?) But when we do Michael, I will keep some of his ashes to have with me and then scatter the rest.

I had to take M across the river for his post op appointment with his podiatrist. I wheeled him back to the bathroom to freshen up before going. I used my office chair from here at the computer. That was an ordeal but it was better than M having to fight with his crutches. Poor guy, he just doesn't have the upper body strength anymore to use crutches. I parked out front at the medical clinic and went in and got a wheel chair for him and, wow, it was so much better than trying to use my office chair. M saw his doctor and got a flu shot while he was there and I got him home and settled and then made it to my flu shot clinic in time to get my shot by 5:00 mins before they closed for the day. So both of us have our shots over and done with.

I went up the street a ways to the Senior Center and asked where I could borrow a wheelchair and with no hassle or trouble at all I was able to get one right there. I put it in my trunk and came home without it falling out. Yea! I went back out to get the mail and swing by the pharmacy to pick up some meds I had called in to have filled for me. M was asleep when I got home so I took the shovel out in the yard and dug a hole for Mulder. So I have that all ready. He is still clinging to life but just barely. He is totally lifeless but his chest is still going up and down so he hasn't died yet. I expect him to at any time. I keep going into M's studio (it's where Mulder has chosen to die) and stroking him. Telling him what a really good cat he was and how much we love him. Most of the time I get no reaction from him at all. He doesn't appear to be in any pain. He has his eyes open but most of the time I can tell he's not really seeing anything. I just talk softly to him and stroke his beautiful body. Or what was a beautiful body before the ravages of kidney failure. He's skin and bone right now like Callie was when I had her put down.

If I had the money I would have Mulder put down too rather than letting him linger like this and die on his own, but I simply don't have the money right now. It's just not there. They charge like a hundred dollars to put a cat down. Which is so stupid. The syringe full of chemicals cost pennies! Pennies!! I could afford the pennies and a $20 fee but $100 is out of the question. I don't think he's suffering, thank God, and I think he's pretty much out of it even though he sometimes moves his head a tiny bit. It's so hard to see him the way he is. About three years ago he somehow got out of the house and went missing for nine days and then he finally came up to the front door and meowed. After that he was a totally different cat. Much more loving and he allowed M and I to both pet him at the same time. Something he never permitted before his nine days in the wilderness. He became a real cuddle puppy. He loved to be held. He liked to jump up on top of the china hutch and then he would quite often jump down onto the table to get down. However, if you were sitting at the table and if you didn't know he was up there and was therefore not expecting him to jump down, when he landed on the table your heart would just stop! I always thought my table centerpiece should be a sign that read: Beware of falling cats!

I really, really love this cat. And I hate this life. Today I hate this life a lot. Mulder was a super neat cat. Big and tall. Very tall with long, long legs. He always walked with his tail held erect like a flag on a bike pole. He had the face and coloring of a mountain lion. Really a majestic stance when he stood and a beautiful perfect pose when he laid down, tucking his front paws under his chest. Just a beautiful, beautiful cat. But now he's lying on his side in the darkened studio away from all the lights and noises. I've got the door closed so none of the other animals will get back there and bother him. I hope he dies before it gets dark so I can get him buried and done with tonight instead of trying to do it tomorrow in the rain. It all depends on when he decides to let go of life. This life that I hate so much. It's almost like an insult to me. Yesterday I commented that I hated this life and I didn't think we were meant to enjoy this life. What I was trying to say is that there are very few things capable of giving us joy in this life. We can have periods of happiness in this life. It's not all the pits. But happiness is based on hap-penings. We get our word happiness from the Old English word "hap." Which means exactly what I said. The old word hap was translated happenings and so as long as our hap-penings are going in a good direction, we can experience hap-piness. And I think outside of the Lord that's the most we can hope for out of this life: happiness when all the happenings are going right for us. True joy comes only from the Lord. We can experience joy in this life when we worship our heavenly Father and experience the joy of fellowship with Him. But that is the only real joy there is in this life, and the next life for that matter. Joy happens only in association with God our Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. You may disagree but this is the way I see things.

I recoil from "preachers" of joy in this life. You know the ones. The ones who write book after book (always with their picture on the front) telling us that God wants us to have the best and be the best in this life. That He wants to shower us with the best material possessions and the best "things" of this life. Nice cars. Nice homes. Great clothes. Wonderful vacations, etc., etc. That God is there to give us the best of everything like some penny arcade somewhere in middle America. "Buy my book and I'll make you a better you!" Joy, true joy, comes only from God as we relate to him in this life. It is only in our fellowship with Him that it's possible for us to experience joy. I believe this life is meant to drive us to Him. He is to be our comfort, our strength, our very lives. In Him we have joy. This life is filled with woes and sufferings and we are meant to learn that joy can only be found in Him. We surround ourselves with so many things to bring ourselves happiness. We are consumed with things and these so-called "teachers" teach us to want even more things. Jesus says these are not the important things. They (I call their message the "feel-good gospel") tell you that God wants you to be the best you can be. To live the best life surrounded with the best things. But the Bible doesn't tell us that. Scripture says we are to hunger and thirst after righteousness, not things. Scripture says that joy is in the Lord, not in things and others.

We are to seek the Lord with every ounce of fiber we have in our being. Now let me ask you; Exactly when do you seek the Lord with everything you have in you? Isn't it when you're going through trials of some kind? Isn't it in our struggles that we end up feeling the closest to our God? It is for me. When my days are filled with happiness and happenings; when I'm having the time of my life, experiencing and creating a "better me" I find myself the farthest from Jesus Christ.

We are to seek the Lord, not things, and certainly not ourselves! We are to recognize that nothing good dwells in us and we are to seek the Lord's goodness, to strive for a deeper, stronger relationship. If nothing good dwells in me, why would I want to make myself a "better" me? If I am in Christ, as I am, I don't need to make myself a better me. It is Christ who lives and not I and what I need to do is seek the better things of Christ. With me, I seek and experience the Lord the most when I am hurting or struggling in some way. So my rational mind tells me that earthly "happiness" is of lesser importance than joy in the Lord. While God does not desire us to be miserable, I think He, at the same time, doesn't want us to get too comfortable in this life. This is not our home here. We are simply passing through. Don't strive for happiness in this life. It's okay if it comes your way but strive for Joy in the Lord instead. Put all your efforts into having the best relationship with God that is humanly possible. Let the disappointments and sorrows of this life drive you to our loving Lord and find your joy in Him and Him alone. All this other stuff is just fluff. It's all bitter water. Even the very best this life has to offer is still bitter water. Fluff. Excess. Waste. Woes of all kinds. In God we find a healing balm for our wounds, a real sense of joy in knowing Him better and better. Don't fall for the line of creating the "better you!" Assign this life to secondary status and work instead to create the best God has to offer in the way of an intimate relationship with Himself. That's where our joy is. And in joy we find contentment. God is our all in all. Let's not sully the relationship with a "better" you. In every thing we do we are to seek God and He promises not to disappoint any of us. If we truly turn our backs on this life and place all our hopes and dreams in the next life, when all is said and done, we will have experienced the real joy God promises us.

Merle at 18 had his entire life before him. Richie at 22 had his entire life in his future. Merle spent his life on a quick fix and Richie decided life wasn't worth living and he ended his. Two strong, healthy, vibrant young men. Two bright lights snuffed out all too soon. The world has suffered a terrible loss with the death of Merle. Richie has now been dead longer than he was ever alive. I sometimes feel like the numbers nullify his life. Like it was all for nothing. It's been 22 years since Rich died yet the pain is as raw and bitterly painful now as it was back then. Both of these young men made a difference in this world. Their lives counted. They accomplished things. They mattered. And we will always remember them. They will forever live in our hearts. Yes, we will always remember them. Thank you, Father, for loaning us these two beautiful, incredibly unique children and allowing us to shape them for a future neither one of them had. Thank you for allowing us to love them and enjoy them. They were never really ours. You just loaned them to us and told us to love them because you loved them. There was never a moment in their lives when You did not love them. Never a moment when You didn't beckon them to Your side. And never a moment when You didn't hold out hope for them.

My heart is broken, Lord. I hurt for Laurie. Losing Merle (her firstborn) will be the absolute worst pain she will ever endure in this life. Lord, use this horrible time to bring forth great good. Call Laurie to Yourself. I pray that in her grief and brokenness she will seek you out. That she will turn her face toward You and let You come into her private devastation so that she might be healed. I place her in Your hands for safe-keeping and ask that her grief not destroy her but instead may it drive her straight to You. And I pray that You will heal my heart too. It honestly feels as if Richie just died all over again. It is that raw and that painful. So have mercy on me and give me the grace to endure for as long as it takes. Will there ever be a time in this life when I will not grieve, Lord? No, I don't think so; I will grieve for as long as I live. Please, Father, place a limit on Laurie's grief and wrap Your arms around her and console her. When You left this earth, Lord, You said You were giving us peace, "My peace," You said. Tonight I ask for one thing ... and one thing only ... that You fulfill Your promise.

[Added on edit.] It has been hours since I finished and published my post but I wanted to add to it because I don't know if I'll get back to my blog tomorrow, or whenever. But I just finished burying Mulder. I did it in the dark and it was raining lightly. The hole wasn't as deep as I would have liked. You only go down about 6-9 inches of topsoil before you hit California hard pan. And it's almost impossible to dig through. I dug as deeply as I could and then I just mounded the dirt on top and then placed very heavy rocks on top. I buried him in the flower bed next to Pretty. I just can't believe he's gone. My big, beautiful boy cat getting his big Mulder hugs with his long legs sticking out in every direction. I can't believe this has happened. But at least I didn't have to go out and bury him in a downpour like we're supposed to get tomorrow and Saturday. Especially Saturday. Oh, Mulder, I'm soooo sorry. I love my cats too much and I swear when these are all gone I don't want another pet. I can't take the heart break of losing them anymore. When we moved into this house we had 7 indoor cats, now we are down to 3 and one of those lives solely in our bedroom. She's not kept fastened in back there. She prefers to be by herself and she stays in the bedroom. I keep a litter box in my closet for her and have a feeding station set up for her on top of M's dresser so the dog won't get to it and eat it all up. So really, now, it's going to feel like we have only 2 cats. Using two plates instead of 3. I will miss Mulder so deeply. He was my big mama's boy. He did, indeed, love his mama (me). And I loved him like no other. That's the thing with cats, they each have their own personality and if you have several cats you learn to know them for their quirks. Mulder was a needy cat. He needed a big "Mulder hug" at least once a day. I hate that this has happened. It makes me sick to my stomach. But I wrapped him in a plastic bag and then placed him in the bottom of the hole. Told him I was sorry and that I thought he was the niftiest cat on earth. I told him I loved him. With every shovelful of dirt I told him I loved him. Oh, God, give me strength. I have to go to a funeral tomorrow afternoon for a very dear friend, Fred, he was 84. I'm sure I mentioned him in previous blogs. He's the one that fell off the ladder? This will be a real bummer of a week by the time it's over. Today's devotional Streams in the Desert was on grief: Many of us could tearlessly deal with our grief if only we were allowed to do so in private. Yet what is so difficult is that most of us are called to exercise our patience not in bed but in the open street, for all to see. We are called upon to bury our sorrows not in restful inactivity but in active service ... in our workplace, while shopping, and during social events ... contributing to other people's joy. No other way of burying our sorrow is as difficult as this, for it is truly what is meant by "running with patience." (Hebrews 12:1 KJV).

Until next time...