Wednesday, October 26, 2016

On Needing Each Other

Two long days of traveling and four days away total and I'm home again. Home to little arms squeezing my neck; home to piles of laundry and an empty fridge; home to fill the role of wife and mother once again.

It's hard to find words for the past four days. The short version is that my dad had open heart surgery on Monday to replace a valve. My siblings and I were all gathered for the occasion and he is doing well. The long version is full of many more emotions and feelings and details.

For some reason I've found it the easiest to remain silent on the subject. It's been a little much to process - heart surgery less than three months into a new marriage and a new chapter in our family's history. Quite frankly, I wasn't sure I could handle the sympathy and the questions and the pity. I don't understand either what God has in mind but I'll be fine, thank you very much or something along those lines.

But that isn't quite fair, because when you're sitting calmly in a waiting room with the knowledge that a surgeon's knife is splitting your father's breast bone, you are keenly aware that it's the prayers of all those people you didn't feel like talking to that are holding you up and carrying you along. And during that horribly long hour between the time the surgeon comes to tell you they are taking your father back into surgery and the time he returns to tell you all is well, it is - again - the prayers of many that allow you to find rest even when the knot in your stomach almost convinces you to get rid of that free continental breakfast.

We need each other, we do. Some of us think we would rather do it on our own and some of us try to find our strength in numbers. The truth is, none of us can make it on our own and most of all, we all need Him. Sometimes He is enough in the quiet corners of our own bedroom as we clutch His promises and find peace in trusting His sovereignty. Sometimes He shows himself in skin with hugs and food and text messages saying "I'm praying". Sometimes He even appears in the questions and the sympathy that we think we don't want because we need Him and we need each other.

I don't know what other surprises God has for my story. I do know that I am happy to trust it all to someone who sees a much bigger picture than I do. I can testify to the fact that when I am in the midst of hard, the 'something different' I claim to have in my life does make a difference and I am convinced part of that comes from the multitude of fellow believers who lift me up and carry me on even when I go silent and think I would rather just do it myself.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dear Mom

I was hurrying along through Aldi, list in hand, gathering up groceries as fast I could with four children in tow. This was the last store, and we were tired of shopping. Suddenly, there they were, Mom. Memories washed over me as I gazed at the pile of acorn squash with their sale price waving like a flag in my face.

Ahh, how you loved acorn squash, Mom. You would accept them happily from dear old 'Ervin Dorothy', who always seemed to end up with an abundance of them. We would all groan, knowing exactly what was coming next: acorn squash with meatloaf tucked inside was sure to be on the supper menu. We turned up our noses, even daddy, who willingly ate almost anything. The only redeeming factor was the meatloaf and even that could hardly make up for the stringy, yellowish-orange squash that also had to be eaten.

Standing there in the grocery store, memories flooding my mind, I hesitated only a second, Mom. Then I picked a pretty, green squash from the pile and added it to my cart, just for you....well, sort of.

Actually, your efforts to teach us to like all kinds of food paid off, Mom. Somewhere along the line I acquired a taste for acorn squash and the sight of them there on the pile made my mouth water. I would buy one, just for me.

The past week has been hectic, Mom, and the acorn squash lay neglected til I noticed, with alarm, it had developed a bad spot and needed to be used. I intended to fix it yesterday but time got away from me and I finally had to give it up. Today, though, I was determined.

I cut the bad part off and reduced my meal to half a squash - two halves would have been too much anyway. Then I scooped out the seeds, tucked some hamburger inside and popped it into the oven. As I scurried around finishing up other projects, I looked forward to my lunch. But I hadn't taken into account one thing, Mom. Or maybe it was several things.

I never asked you how to make acorn squash, for one thing. Then again, maybe the ones grown by your dear friend were just that much better than Aldi has to offer. Whatever the case, my lunch didn't turn out to be that great. I dabbed on the butter and sprinkled the salt but it still lacked the flavor my memory had envisioned. Quite possibly it should have been baked longer but I was in a hurry, so I ate the softest part and pitched the rest and thought of you, Mom. I'm sorry I didn't carry on the tradition of making my children learn to like all kinds of food but they were quite happy to hear I was buying the squash just for me!

Some things you just never forget and acorn squash will always make me think of you, Mom.

Love you,

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Why Did He Do It?

I don't know if this fall is more gorgeous than usual or if I'm just taking more notice of it for some reason. Either way, it's been gorgeous. The weather has been absolutely perfect and the trees... I can't even describe the beauty.

Pictures don't really do it justice either but I'm going to give you a little peek at my drive to school this week...

Have you ever wondered if God cared about you? Somehow the fact that He would go to the bother of making trees look this beautiful for a few days in the Fall convinces me that He does.

Does the fact that a tree has beautiful leaves make it a better tree? Does it make the fruit it produces more tasty? Not really.
Why did God bother?

Maybe He was just having fun, 
who knows?
Maybe He hoped it would 
make us think of Him;
cause us to worship.

Maybe He wanted us to realize 
something about Him.
There's something special to me about serving a God who loves beauty.

Maybe He wanted to put an ache 
in our hearts for Heaven.
Can you imagine a place that is so much more beautiful than this?

Maybe He just wanted to 
brighten our days.
Stop and think about how dull 
and hopeless a black and white
 world would be!

Whatever the case, 
something inside of me aches
at the sheer, glorious beauty of it all.

And I worship 
with awe
at the feet of a Father
who creates such beauty
Just Because.


Had you been following me  this afternoon on winding 
little ol Pennyroyal Road, 
you might have wondered what ailed the crazy lady in the blue van who kept stopping in the middle of the road and sticking her phone out her van window every couple hundred yards.......

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

If You Build Your Wife A House

If you build your wife a house, you will almost certainly need to buy some land.

And, if you need to buy some land, it follows that you will need to have lots of money.

If you do not have lots of money, you will search for something cheap.

And, if you search for something cheap, chances are, you'll buy a steep hill.

If you buy a steep hill, your wife will look at it skeptically and say, "Build a house here??"

And if your wife says, "Build a house here??" You will say, "Yes!" And proceed to make a lane.

If you proceed to make a lane, your wife will say, "How am I ever going to get up and down that thing in the winter time??!!"

If your wife says, "How am I ever going to get up and down that thing in the winter time??!!" You will say, "Oh, it's not that bad."

And if you say, "Oh, it's not that bad." Your wife will continue to insist quite firmly that it IS.

If your wife continues to insist that it IS, you will begin to check out concreting the lane and getting a fourwheel drive.

But, if you check out concreting the lane and getting a fourwheel drive, you will begin to wonder how you will afford building the house?

If you begin to wonder how you will afford building the house, you will shelve the lane and start building.

If you start building, your wife will look on and say, "I just can't even believe that we will ever actually live here."

If your wife gives such encouraging support, you will close your mouth and keep working.

And, if you close your mouth and keep working, your wife will look at the progress and say, "Wow. This is getting exciting!"

If your wife thinks it's getting exciting, you will smile and start putting up walls.

If you start putting up walls, chances are pretty good your wife will stop at the bathroom door and say, "Why in the world did we make this bathroom so tiny??"

If your wife fusses about the size of the bathroom, you will sigh and say, "So how should we have done it different?!"

And, if you say, "How should we have done it different?!" Your wife will look at your bedroom with disdain and say, "This bedroom is HUGE! We could have easily moved this wall over a foot and made the bathroom bigger!!"

If your wife says the bedroom is HUGE you will roll your eyes and say, "Just wait until you have everything in the room." And move on to the kitchen.

If you move on to the kitchen, you will need to decide on kitchen countertops.

If you're deciding on kitchen countertops, you will want good ones because you used to make and install countertops.

If you used to make and install countertops, you will search around for the best buy.

And, if you search around for the best buy, you will buy the material up, have them made and get them installed.

If you have them made and get them installed, your wife will walk in the house and try to look pleased and finally say, "That looks terrible with the cabinets! It doesn't go together at all."

If your wife says it looks terrible, you will try to show her it does match and tell her the flooring will tie it all together.

If you say the flooring will tie it all together, she will look at the flooring and say, "Why did we pick that? Now nothing goes together!!"

If your wife continues with this nonsense, you will sigh and keep slogging along on the job.

And, if you sigh and keep slogging along, things will get done slowly, bit by bit.

If things get done slowly, your wife will quietly get more and more discouraged and say things like, "I'm so tired of telling people the same old thing when they ask about the house!" and "We might as well just say we won't get in the house til spring and get it over with!"

If your wife begins to be so discouraging, you might say, "Hey, do you wanna just live in The Shack By The Road and forget it??"

And, if you ask her that question, your wife will say, "No. I really want to live in The House On The Hill."

If your wife says she wants to live in The House On The Hill, you will need to keep building the new house.

And, if you build your wife a house....

Friday, October 7, 2016

Love Is

Love, what is it? Is it feeling, emotion, fleeting, lasting, life-changing, easy, hard, deep, shallow......

What is love?

Love is starry eyes and racing heart. Love is blushing cheeks, quivering stomach, sweaty palms and flashing smile. Love is whispered words and  a soft, gentle touch. Love is roses and chocolates and gifts and surprises. Love is a tender kiss, a warm embrace, a squeeze of the hand, a long look across the room. Love is intimacy in it's purest form - consuming, passionate, exhilarating.

Love is all of this... but love is more.

Love is listening to another's heart; it is hearing the hurt and pain and responding with love and empathy; it is saving the answers and passing the kleenex and giving understanding. Love is an unexpected lunch date at McDonald's; it is a cold drink delivered on a hot day. Love is daily. It is packing lunches and doing laundry and cooking food and washes dishes and doing it all over again. Love is giving space when the going is tough; it is shoulder rubs and back rubs and foot massages and saying "I care"; it is making a favorite dessert or writing a note or simply sitting together. It is doing the little things.

Love is all of this... but love is more.

Love is picking up dirty socks and hanging up wet towels and fixing the bed. Love is wiping up spills and throwing away stray wrappers and popcans and cleaning the trash out of the car.  Love is quietly putting things away - shoes and clothes and books and papers and the milk. Love is dropping my schedule and helping even if my to do list remains undone. Love is biting back angry words and saying "I'm sorry" when they slip out unchecked. Love is admitting I was wrong and not adding the word "But...". Love is sacrificing my wants for another's needs, it is putting myself in another's shoes.

Love is all of this.... but love is more.

Love is opening my mouth when I would rather keep it closed; it is speaking the hard truth when I would much rather remain silent. Love is showing my support even when I fear for my reputation. Love is laying down my own preferences and accepting another's ideas. Love is praising the strengths and not gossiping about the weaknesses. Love is confronting wrong even though I would rather shove it under the rug.

Love is all of this... but love is more.

Love is a commitment; it is choosing fact over feeling, the high road over the emotional one. Love is forever. Love doesn't quit, depending on the circumstances. Love gets up and serves - today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Love is a Choice.

Love is all of this.... and it is probably more. Love is not the least, it is the greatest. Choose love; choose life; choose the greatest.

"And now these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is Love." I Cor 13:13 NIV


I am taking up a challenge to write 500 words a day for two weeks. I don't plan to post all those words here but this was the first day of the challenge and I thought I would share it. If you're interested in joining, check it out here!

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Full Run Down On My Baby Quilt Project

These days you can find a tutorial on pretty much anything. Who needs to ask grandma how to raise potatoes or patch jeans when you've got Google right at your fingertips? I could write an article on how social media is eliminating our need for relationships and, incidentally, I would be preaching to myself. To be honest though, I enjoy tutorials. Maybe it has something to do with the way I learn, I don't know, but I said I was going to give you the full run down on my project so here we go.

I think I told you how at the beginning of summer I had this big idea that I should piece quilts for the girl's beds? We actually went and chose fabric for Jasmine's quilt and one day after school started I sat down and marked off all the blocks. That's when another bright idea struck: wouldn't it be neat to make a baby quilt out of the leftover fabric to sell at our school auction?

I'll just tell you this right now, I get a lot of ideas but the amount of ideas that make it to completion is quite a bit smaller!

I confess, I really expected this idea to join the list of incompleted ones. For one thing, I've never pieced a quilt except for the simple nine patches I learned to sew on. And, since my mom didn't like to piece quilts, I kind of figured I might not enjoy it either. But I did it! And, biggest surprise of all - I enjoyed it.

Google was my friend for this project. If you want information on figuring sizes for the blocks and all the technical things, I found most of my information here and here. I was intrigued with the methods for sewing blocks together but maybe that's just because I knew so little about how you go about piecing quilts.

Before you start reading the rest of this, keep in mind that this was not a project I did in a day or even a week! I did a little at a time, pulling my stuff out when I'd finished my daily chores that I required myself to do first, doing the next step, then tucking it all away again.

I did things the old fashioned way. I made a square the size I wanted out of cardboard and used it for a pattern, traced all the blocks off and then cut them with good ol scissors. I'm thinking of investing in easier methods, maybe someone can give me a recommendation?

Once I had all my blocks cut out in nice, pretty stacks, I paired each colored square up with a white one and marked a line from corner to corner.

My next project was to sew a 1/4 inch seam allowance on each side of all those lines.

Once that was done, I cut across all those diagonal lines. This left me with stacks of squares made out of a triangle of white and a triangle of grey or yellow.

Then I ironed. Put my ironing board down low, grabbed a chair, and ironed. My mom always said to iron your seams toward the darker fabric, so that's what I did.

I couldn't believe how much fun I was having. I felt sort of old lady-ish but maybe that's because I'm heading for forty and all but one of my children are in school and it's a whole new stage of life.

My next project was sewing all the yellow and white squares together and all the grey and white squares together.

Half of them needed to be sewed together pointing this way...

And half of them needed to be sewed together pointing this way. (The daisy fabric is in the grey stack in case you were wondering)

I wanted to use my fabric randomly but I did try to put a 'light' and a 'dark' of the yellows and greys together when I sewed these pairs. After those were all sewed it was time to iron again.

Now it was time to sew my pairs together to make blocks. This was fun because you could begin to see how the quilt would actually look.

More ironing once the blocks were sewed together. I used a little spray bottle with water as I ironed and my side kick thought that was fun ☺

Then came the fun of laying the blocks all out in rows and sewing them together. I tried to make sure no alike fabric was right beside each other but otherwise I didn't keep any sort of pattern.

It was fun, until I discovered I hadn't made enough blocks to make it big enough for a baby quilt! I almost changed my mind and turned it into a wall hanging but I ended up dragging the material back out and making some more blocks.

Once my rows were sewed together (and ironed once again), came the job of sewing the rows together and trying to line up all those seams.

It's not perfect but it actually turned out pretty well. Once more it was time for the iron and spray bottle and then came the part that I still think is the most fun - quilting it.

I used a big hoop since I don't have a quilt frame nor the space for one.

I had lots of help!

And last of all, since Mom wasn't here to call, my sister and Google helped me with the binding process. I'd helped with the hand sewing on the binding before but never actually sewed the binding into the quilt. I understand why my mom tried to not have to do that job when she quilted for people! Doing a baby quilt is one thing, a full sized quilt would be another story.

There it is, all done.

Mom always liked to see the back of a quilt and so do I!

And there you have it. Maybe when I'm truly an old lady I'll be the kind who makes quilts for all their children and grandchildren but I'm promising nothing.