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)