Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fire and Ice and Colds and Rain

Sanity is madness put to good uses. ~George Santayana, Little Essays

When my husband and daughter returned from the Guatemala mission trip, both were run down, as I expected that they would be with the grueling schedule. I had been having more sinus trouble, which can be typical for this time of year, but the Princess went into a full blown cold with sore throat and coughing, and I followed with less coughing, thankfully. My husband got achy and rested for one day but he did not really get sick. So, I was in bed all day yesterday and I was not well enough to drive around for errands this morning although I am on the mend and feeling better now. I would have been been in bed the day before, Sunday, as the Princess and I both were in no shape to go to church, but...

Well, we had another battle with the freezer frosting up and the frig not being cold enough that started on Saturday. We decided that the refrigerator is just being too unpredictable to feel comfortable with it, so we went refrigerator shopping. I have to say it was not very fun. First of all, we have about a 36" width space, but one side is against a wall, so we really need a 33" refrigerator to be able to open the door to 45 degrees and those are few these days. However, we found one with a bottom freezer (like we have already) and ice maker in freezer, something of a new luxury for us. The thing I like the most is being able to actually set the temperatures in both the freezer and refrigerator—no more number dials that I have to balance the air flow between the freezer and refrigerator. No other fancy stuff, like a water dispenser or anything like that, other than French refrigerator doors. I just see it as less to go bad on it. Oh, and it is stainless steel, which means for the first time in since my husband and I have been married and bought the refrigerator we now have, all my kitchen appliances will match! I am taking a moment to just breathe that one in.

Later on that same Sunday, we went to pick our Christmas tree with Mishka. Being that he is a puppy, he was not used to all the people who wanted to pet him and his enthusiasm was barely leash-able. (Not a word but works.) After we got home from that on Sunday, I went to bed and stayed there until today, Tuesday morning.

We have been in a drought all summer. Although there has been spots of rain here and there, it is way too dry in all of north Georgia. On our property, the last time it rained for a couple of hours was on September 27th. I remember the day because I was so happy it was raining I had taken a video of my front garden with the fountain running with my new wind chimes ringing softly. Before that it had not rained here for weeks upon weeks. Spring started out well, but summer was dry.

Remember how disappointed I was that we did not get to go to north Georgia because Mishka had Parvo? Well, that was the first week in November and we had not considered the wildfire that started on October 16th in that area. People living there and depending on tourism this time of year say their businesses and their health are suffering because of the smoke. It is said that more 40,000 acres have succumbed to wildfires in Georgia and now 14,000 people have been evacuated in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas in Tennessee. However, it is being reported that the fires in north Georgia are under control. More rain would definitely be helpful and rain is expected here tomorrow and possibly the weekend.

Thank you, my Lord, for us all getting better from the colds every day, for the nearly 30 years our refrigerator worked problem-free, for being able to afford a new one, for the blessings that You will give to the people in the Gatinburg area and in all the wildfire areas in answer to their prayers when so many have lost so much, and for the rain that is now coming to us and the areas where the wildfires are.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Guatemala Mission Trip

Let my heart be broken with the things that break God's heart.
-Bob Pierce, World Vision founder

This is the quilt that my husband bought in Guatemala for me.

I am giving just a sampling of the pictures from the mission trip that my husband and daughter went on. Most of the best ones were taken by the Princess. Everyone warned her not to take out her camera in certain areas, like the airport because it would likely be stolen, and definitely not take pictures of certain places, like the dump, but she did get a few anyway. She not only has the eye of a professional photographer, although not a camera adequate to her talent, but also the heart for it, to tell stories in pictures.

Getting to Guatemala was an ordeal in of itself. The plane tickets were particularly high priced and going up, so the best deal was to rent a van in Atlanta, drive to Tampa, Florida, fly from Tampa to Atlanta—yes, from where they began—and then fly from Atlanta to Guatemala. On the way back they just did not get on the last connecting flight from Atlanta to Tampa. Of course, there was a layover in Tampa so youth and adults were sleeping wherever they could.

On the way from airport to the missionary's house where they stayed most of the time, with one night at a youth camp.

It is a more diverse region than I thought it would be. For instance, there is a large Jewish community there. The first picture below is of the synagogue which could be seen from the youth camp.

The missionary's home was rather nice. Most of the homes in this neighborhood are owned by missionaries who rent to other missionaries, so the family moves often but within this neighborhood.

Arriving at the campgrounds....

At the camp, our kids were with other kids from the area, many training to be leaders in missions or churches. The camp had amazing views, as it is a beautiful country, but the lake is so polluted that no one swims in it. My husband was told that a few million was paid to have it cleaned up, but the man split with the money and did nothing. Very sad.

During the worship times, this building was packed. Guatemalans worship with lots of jumping and dancing. My daughter was participating so she did not take pictures. My husband and I have not yet synced up so I have some of his pictures of the kids.

This was on the campgrounds also. I think it is my favorite because I like pictures of abandoned structures. I always feel that they are filled with mystery and forgotten stories, like I wonder how many have been baptized here?

Another favorite although it is probably not abandoned....

Most of the streets are made of stones.

The group was five teens and four adults. Our church pastor, two youth pastors, and my husband made up the adults. All the adults, but my husband, ended up with tummy troubles on the trip. My husband adds a few drops of food grade hydrogen peroxide to even his bottled water because the extra oxygen fights off germs of all kinds whether from contact, food, or the water. However, they all agreed that the chain fast foods tasted better there than here, particularly McDonald's.

Then they all went to the dump. Seriously, people living there, who have nothing and scavenge, began to build shelters on top of the dump. It is highly unhealthy. Some areas have cemented floors now, but still.... This is the area where the group was warned not to take pictures because of the gangs there. They will steal the camera, or worse because they do not like having their pictures taken. They went there to pray over the people living there. Afterward all their shoes had to be washed or sprayed with disinfectants. Imagine children living in such a place!

One man told my husband that his wife has had three children, but he does not know if they are all his because when a gang decides it time for a boy to become a man, he is expected to rape a woman. My husband also told me of a boy who would not smile but tried to look "tough" in all the photos, because he wanted to be in a gang, probably not knowing all that he would be expected to do, but eventually the boy began joining in on the worship services and he smiled. I hope that he is hearing his Lord speak to his heart.

In contrast to the dump, here are coins that were tossed into a fountain. Perhaps because the people not only have wishes, but they have hope.

My Lord, thank you for keeping the group safe and for my daughter seeing how hard life is for other people.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Refrigerator War

My refrigerator is powerful. In fact, it has a direct link to my overall well-being. -Kris Carr

My refrigerator is going down!

My husband noticed some ice building up in our frost-free bottom freezer, so he checked it out and came to the conclusion that it was the seal going bad. He ordered a seal and it did not arrive after a week. He was about to cancel the order and go with another company when it did arrive, only it was for the refrigerator section, not the freezer. Finally, the right seal arrives after another week. He placed it on the freezer door and we hoped all would be golden. That was his battle.

My battle began when he left for a youth mission trip with our daughter and some others (more on that to come) and gave me instructions. I have a refrigerator/freezer thermometer....somewhere, but I am still not finding it. However, I knew that the freezer was not getting cold enough; everything that was frozen stayed frozen, but the items on the door were not. However, now the refrigerator was not cold enough either and probably had not been for a while.

Who really pays attention enough to know when the air blowing into the refrigerator is not cold enough or not blowing strong enough, to know that with just a feel, unless it is something you do for a living. Well, I finally figured that out, but what to do about it was another thing.

This refrigerator was the first appliance that my husband and I bought together after we were married. It was a high-end floor model with a couple of small dings (hidden with magnets) marked down by half. It survived the move from Florida to Georgia, so it is at least 20 years old, maybe more like 25 to 28 years.

So, I was thinking with Thanksgiving and Black Friday practically upon us, it probably is the best time to for getting a really great deal on a new refrigerator, but the worse time for a refrigerator to go down and try to get one in within a few days. Still, I spent quite a few hours looking online for that dream new stainless steel beauty that I have been waiting for some years now. In fact I look at refrigerators every time I am in a store with appliances. Being mostly fresh food eaters, our refrigerator just never seems adequate. it would be my dream to have a kitchen with one full size refrigerator with a matching freezer beside. Yeah...such a nice dream!

Now I have to say that we have three freezers. Two large ones are in our garage and are definitely not frost-free. One is an upright and the other a deep freezer. They are pretty full currently. Remember we raise rabbits. I have skins to tan and meat, lots of frozen veggies and fruit, bulk grains and flour, and so on. I would love to have a second refrigerator there may be a small one to store things like cheese and other bulk buys, but space is a problem.

In the meantime, I really needed to see if I could get the refrigerator colder somehow, so I took out half-gallon frozen containers that we use for our cooler on our errand/shopping day and placed them in the refrigerator. I put everything from the bottom freezer in the other two, and that is when I noticed the ice at the back of the bottom freezer.

I would have turned off only the freezer, but in my unit the on-off control is in the freezer and it controls it all. I do not know if they still make refrigerators this way but that would be a feature I would be looking at in the future. So, off it all went and I just waited until the ice melted enough that I could work it off.

As the ice melted down, I noticed there was another slit that ran across the back of the freezer with a lip like it was a drip strip to catch water in the defrost cycle, only there was too much ice to defrost in such a short time. Now I have to say, it would have been so nice if I could have taken the shelf and baskets out of the freezer to get to the ice, but our freezer has a door and it is next to a wall so those things cannot come out and I have to crawl in over the shelf to clean out all the ice and water. (The next refrigerator will have a drawer freezer.) So, after seeing that opening, I thought it would make sense that it was for airflow also, recycling the cold air to make it colder would be efficient. The frost there seemed to be the main problem left over from the bad seal. When it was finally cleared, I turned the refrigerator back on and definitely felt a stronger air flow, but it was not as cold as I thought it should be. I was hoping that it was just because it had been off for nearly 8-hours and the freezer air was not cold.

Then it happened! My refrigerator began going down...in temperature! Still not finding my refrigerator thermometer, I came up with this idea to use our wireless indoor/outdoor digital thermometer. I placed the outside on in the freezer and the inside one in the refrigerator.

So, my aging refrigerator is still working well, but I am still considering getting a new one soon. I really do not want it to be an emergency especially around the holidays. However, I have to say that messing with it made me more aware of the features I would want and definitely not want.

Thank you, my Lord, for the good You provide, for being with me even while my family is away. Help us to make good decisions with which the money You have provided us.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Presidential Election

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. -Romans 13:1-2

I have avoided this subject for the most part. I voted early, not really for the person I wanted, but for the one whom I thought would do the best job and had a chance to win of the ones presented on the ballot. However, since the only one running for which I could have stood up did not win the candidacy, I was able to view the rest of the election with very little bias. I just did not have a dog in the fight, but I had a hope that God would place who He wanted in the Oval Office.

I did stay up to sometime after midnight on election day pretty sure that Trump would be our President-elect in the morning for two reasons, actually because of two swing states: Ohio and Florida. I have lived in both. Ohio can brag that there has only been two times in 30 presidential elections since 1896 when it failed to go with the winner. Once I saw Ohio and Florida was a certainty, I felt it was just a matter of the rest of the country's votes being counted to prove without a doubt that Trump won.

I know that the moderates in the swing states, actually the people who consider themselves to be independent thinkers rather than being loyal to either party, are the ones who determine who will win the electoral votes of their states. I also know that people are angry. There are not enough jobs or opportunities for advancement if one has a job. There are too many people too deeply in debt from a college education that they cannot use. There is far too much red tape and costs to start a small family-operated business. People are coming here illegally for work, while companies are bugging out to remain profitable; it is not sustainable! To those who see these things, all this stuff about Trump's personality flaws can be tolerated, as one tolerates a "rough around the edges" boss as long as he keep the business going so they have paying jobs.

I will not even begin on Hillary because her record is too silent about accomplishments she should have made and too loud about her lack of good judgement with National Security. But, even if all that is pushed completely aside, I honestly think there should be a law that if one of a couple has been the president, then the other should not be eligible to run for the presidency at all, not ever...period. (And I hate the phrase "there aught to be a law" because for the most part we have enough laws, but in some areas not enough enforcement of them.)

With all that said, here is the main thing I wanted to address. I have a friend, who used to be a blogging buddy I dearly cared about as she was one of the sweetest Christian people I have ever known. We have been out of touch because she prefers Facebook and I am not a Facebook fan at all. She also has become rather outspoken politically. I did not really know her stand on politics previously, but I certainly have no doubts now. While I am on the highly conservative side of the spectrum, she is as far left as I am right. I am okay with people having differing opinions. What I have a problem with is when people, who are Christians, will say that they are trusting God about the election and then when their candidate does not win, they use their First Amendment right to say things like "now we reap the whirlwind" and "...many of the foreign students are gathering up their visas and planning to leave the country. GOOD WORK AMERICA!" with the latter being shame-blame sarcasm.

Where is the trust in God in such words? Regardless of who won, I mostly wonder what God has in store. That maybe, just maybe, the Almighty Creator of All had need for His purpose that I cannot understand because my ways are not His ways or maybe I would never really see it because His wisdom is so far beyond my own. How arrogant it is of me to think that I know better than God? And I cannot think of one person in politics that did everything the way I thought he or she should...even the one I really wanted to win in the primaries has said some things that made me cringe, possibly God too, but God can still use anyone to His purpose, right?

I was very much against Obama and it had nothing to do with his skin color, because I have voted in the presidential primaries for two black men and a Hispanic or two in my lifetime and I have voted for women over men when I thought they were the best candidate. However, when Obama won, I did not think the world would come to an end, that all whites automatically would be considered racists or anti-black, or that America and Israel would be ruined, not by him alone, at least, and certainly not without God allowing them to be. I may never really know what God's purpose was or what was accomplished through Obama, but I trust that God is in charge.

So, Christian Americans, whether you are happy, sad, or angry, with the outcome of this election, I have to ask these questions:

Are you really being like Jesus about this? 
Are you really trusting God?

My Lord, I think if we really have Jesus as the leader in our hearts that our opinion of who should or should not be the leader of our country would not matter so much. Jesus lived in a time when Rome controlled what You had given to the Israelites and He did not speak ill against Caesar, the Romans, the soldiers, or even the people that favored Rome even though He was the only Rightful King. Help Your people, all of us, to be like Your Son.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Coffee Shop Recital 2016

Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life. -Ludwig van Beethoven

The Princess Makes an Impression

La Folia by Palmer/Manus/Lethco
Counting Stars by One Republic

There are just no words to describe how proud I am of my daughter!

Nor words to describe how beautiful she is!

After the Recital
I ended up talking to a mother of one of the students, a girl just a year older than the Princess. We only really get to talk at this recitals and usually one of us has to clear out, but this time she had some health questions for me, so we stayed talking long after everyone else had left. We wrote down our exchanged contact information, because I had lost my phone earlier that very day.

While we were talking, my daughter taking pictures while walking around with her daughter. She is posting the pictures on Instagram.

My husband called to say that Mishka seemed to be relapsing with the Parvo. Although my husband told me that was energetic, drinking on his own, and seemed perfectly well otherwise, he had one bout of projectile diarrhea. My husband had started him back on the hourly treatment protocol. This made me highly concerned because of our experience with Sasha's relapse when the Parvo came back with a vengeance.

So forget that no hurry-worry drive home and then pick up my husband so we could go out to eat, as our tradition after the recitals. I now have serious anxiety. So serious that at one point, right after my daughter was trying to show me a picture she had taken, I just blew through a red light and nearly hit a car that had the right of way making a left turn, which is so unlike me.

The rest of the drive was uneventful but my nerves were raw. We decided to order a pizza and stay at home to watch Mishka. When I finally walked in the door and expected to see Mishka showing signs of sickness, I was happy to see he did not look sick at all. In fact, he was acting completely normal, a bit too normal as we had to pen him so we could eat without him pestering us...he was rather hungry after being sick for a couple of days and on a restricted food allowance after all. I posted an update to Treating My Parvo Puppy so that everything related with his treatment was all on the same post.

Anyway, I had been up all Sunday night and Monday saved a two-hour nap. I went to bed a bit earlier than normal with the idea that I would relieve my husband of watching and treating Mishka around 3:00 a.m. but Mishka was doing so well, he has stretched the treatments out to to every two hours and let me sleep until 5:00 a.m.

When my husband was coming back from work, he stopped in at the church and I then had my phone back! YAY! You just never appreciate all the things you can do on a cell phone until...you lose it.

The Election
I was still tired from the weekend and I had developed a colossal headache before dinner, so I planned not to stay up and watch the election results, but I guess I could not help myself. However, I did not stay up until it was official. Once I saw that Trump had both Ohio and Florida and California voting closed, I was pretty sure it was just a matter of counting the rest of the votes to prove Trump had already won. There have been only two times since 1896 when Ohio failed to go with the winner but Florida made it pretty much a done deal in my mind so I hauled my dozing husband to bed with me a little after midnight. Then I suffered another head-aching hour before I finally slept.

Enough is Enough
So the past few days have been a real drain emotionally and physically. I woke with my head still splitting. I had called to cancel the Princess' piano lesson the night before knowing I had had enough. It is still hurting even as I am typing this out and I have to take the Princess to church tonight because my husband will not be back in time to do it and it is mandatory for going on youth mission trip in Guatemala.

It has been a challenging and highly gratifying week, my Lord. Thank you for being with me through it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Just Before the Coffee Shop Recital

Bad is never good until worse happens. ~Danish Proverb

I always plan it well, envision it as ideal yet expect it not to be, try not to worry about all that can go wrong, but....

The Programs
Trudy, the piano teacher, asked me to do the programs for the coffee shop recital, which I love to do. This time she did not want anything of autumn (possibly because it has been so very warm here for autumn) and she did not have any students doing the artwork either. She thought something more funky and I designed this:

Now while I was in the works of design, Windows decided my computer needed to update and that required a restart. When working with computer graphics, things are done in layers so that I can choose one layer to manipulate without changing anything else, which is great, but in the program I have, which is quite old, I cannot save the image with those layers. Whenever the graphic program saves an image, it merges all the layers together as one. I already had to start over after having the top word "Coffee" done, because the program glitched and shut down so I lost all of it. I had scheduled the restart out as far as Windows allowed which was five days, the Friday before the recital so that was my hard deadline to get the graphics completed and I did, thankfully.

There were some Christmas songs in the program and very few students with a short program so this time Trudy decided to clump them together. That allowed me to make a Christmas page with a different font on the third page between the beginning to intermediate students on the first two pages and the more advanced ones on the last page. Usually we have six to eight pages and I have had to squeeze the formatting to fit it all.

Since the program was going to be thin, I decided to trim the cover page and put in a red sheet to give it a bit of interest with red edging. On the red pages inside I printed the name of her studio and the acknowledgements. The two colors she hates is pink and red, but I thought red was ideal in this case. So I had all the recital programs done, folded and stapled, Friday night so that we could go on our hike Saturday and not be hurried on Sunday. I was even hoping that we could drop the programs off Saturday morning as Trudy's place was practically on our way. This, of course, did not happen because our dog became sick as I described in Treating My Parvo Puppy. (By the way I added an update to that post just this morning.)

Sunday Morning
Our church has an early service that is a shorter than the later one. We basically sing less songs and are done around 10:00 a.m. Since Mishka was doing well (at the time), we decided there was time to go before the recital.

I had put my cell phone on "Do Not Disturb" as I usually do for service and I had it out to add upcoming events to my calendar. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that would be the last I would see of my phone.

We get home, eat, and then my daughter and I have a long discussion about her hair and make-up. She wanted frizzy hair and no make-up saved for the mascara she already had on. I wanted sleek and shiny hair with tastefully light make-up. Had my husband not been here, it would have ended up with her physically fighting me off as I did exactly what she said she did not want, but in the end, I think she actually did like it. She will still say she did not and I made her wear it, of course.

The Plan
Now if we had been able to drop off the programs on Saturday, this would not have been a big deal as my daughter is a more advanced student scheduled later in the recital, but I need to be there before it starts so everyone can get a program. The plan was to leave at 1:00 p.m. to with no hurry-worry drive and arrive about 15-30 minutes before the recital began. Also, I planned to be sure to take my camera with a fully charged battery (because I charged that Friday night as I worked on the programs).

Toss the Plan
We ended up leaving a 1:15 p.m. because of me, a wardrobe thing, I think. I really do not remember because it was minor to all that came later. Oh, yes, I could not find the black boots I wanted to wear.

My husband had his car in the driveway between my van and the road. Thinking it was helpful, he said to take his car. Okay. Oh, by the way, it is very low on gas.... I am instantly thinking: and this helps me how? But there is enough to get there. Uh-huh...so much for the no hurry-worry drive.

This is the guy who advises me to never let the tank go below the ¼ mark, which I was my own rule before we even met, and currently our area is in a gas shortage with some rationing because of gas line explosion a few days ago in Alabama. So I am thinking, there might be enough to get there, but will I find a gas station with gas to get back also.

Anyway, we had everything, so we thought, and are on our way. I look for my phone to call Trudy. No phone. We have to go back. No phone here, no phone there, no phone anywhere, and it is on "Do Not Disturb" so no ring when we call it. The Princess grabs her phone and we leave. By now we have just one hour to get to a place that is just about one hour away when there are no traffic problems.

There is an accident on a two-lane road before the highway. My daughter says it is fine because the cars are off to the side with a deputy there. I am listening for sirens because I know all that changes if we do not get past it before the fire truck and ambulance try to get to it. But, that works out. I then take some Valerian I had brought for the Princess in case she felt nervous. Yeah, I was just a bit frazzled on the edges.

I also was still worried about the gas. I thought of a gas station that was on the way, not too busy and easy to get in and out. It it is not the one I usually go to, but have one or twice in this similiar situation. I stop in and give my daughter $20 to prepay while realizing that the gas tank on this vehicle is on the opposite side I am used to and I have to move the car. Just one more thing! As I am pumping the gas, I am reading the paper taped on the pump that customers are being limited to 10 gallons of gas. (On the way back, we noticed that same station was out of gas...need I say more?)

There was more traffic on the way than I hoped, which slowed us down a bit. I was trying to call the piano teacher to say we would be there either right on time or a few minutes late but she was not recognizing the number so she would not answer. She finally answered when we where just a block way. This is a very busy place so, of course, there are no empty parking places. I realize too late that a vehicle I just passed was backing out and it was right in front of the coffee shop. The Princess grabs the programs and says she needs to go the bathroom. I told her I would come back around as she needs to get her music and prayed the entire loop that God would save the one special place for me.

God loves me so very, very much! The only empty parking space in that entire place without a hike was still there waiting for me as my daughter walks out. She grabs her music and I grab the camera.

End of the Before
We are finally inside and, as Trudy is giving her acknowledges and telling all attending that I had designed the programs, I then notice that everyone has a program, everyone but me....

Thank you for Your Love, my Lord. I appreciate all the time, yet never enough and certainly not as much as when I am having a bad day.