Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All Week Long

A vacation is like love - anticipated with pleasure, experienced with discomfort, and remembered with nostalgia. ~ Author Unknown

This weekend was filled with activity. Friday night we had a meet-and-greet dinner at church with a prospective pastor and his wife. They traveled from Pennsylvania and want to move here closer to their family. He is used to a small congregation and would like to continue to be full-time. His wife would like to find as good as a full time job as she has now and they need to sell their home and buy another. It was a very nice evening and I am anxious to see what God will do to work out all the details if this is one He has chosen for us.

Saturday, we had a H-4 fundraiser, which did not do well. It was rather cold and we were there from just before noon to three o'clock.

Sunday was church service in the morning and Trunk-and-Treat that evening. Now before there are any misunderstandings, I still feel the same about anything to do with Halloween, as I wrote in October's Thorn, so I admittedly have conflicted feelings on participating in this version promoted by my church, however it is not on the day of Halloween itself, which probably is just a rationalization. Another would be, I let my daughter dress up and paint her face about anytime we want so that is not very different. Going from the back of one car to another, hmm, not sure I can rationalize that one except that the people who were there had come for the event so it was more like a theme party, rather than begging for candy from house to house. There were no scary costumes...but I did notice some of the decorations did have elements of the typical spooky or creepier Halloween theme than just an autumn, harvest, or fun one. That part just seems to sneak in, which makes wonder if we will do it again.

My husband decided to decorate the back of our van with an "All God's Creatures" theme and he only used a small sampling of the Princess' stuffed friends!

You see, I was not kidding when I said we had a Noah's Ark theme in her room for the last nine years.

The Princess dressed as...(Can you guess it?)...a princess. It went pretty well as it was not at cold as the day before. Besides candy being given to the children, we also had grilled hot dogs—thankfully, some protein to help balance the sugar.

After seeing the vast improvement in the Princess' attitude last week, I decided that I could take this week off from homeschooling to do the finishing touches on the Princess's bedroom. Hearing that she would be doing no lessons except piano, of course, the Princess was elated! However, even though she did not have much candy, Monday morning she complained of her tummy aching. She was a bit better after eating, but throughout the day off and on she would lie around. After a big disappointment that the cover of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang that we purchased at a consignment sale for $1 actually housed a tape of some TV soap shows inside, she chose to watch Babe in the Big City and then Babe—backwards, I know, but she was not feeling well so I indulged.

Last night the tummy ache was worse so I used more aggressive health treatments and she finally was relieved enough to sleep, but she was awake at five o'clock this morning again with her stomach hurting. I again gave her a treatment and she fell back to sleep. I suspect she will rise late this morning and I may have to do some cuddling with her and a book.

My husband is scheduled to work within a few hours' drive and should, should, be home in the evenings if all goes well. He was here last night at least. This is a nice change.

I have made a Celtic knot stencil design for the corners of the Princess' bedroom, but have not decided on the color, although I am leaning towards gold to pull in the colors in the ceiling fan and another furniture piece, which concerned me would not compliment the pink well alone. Hopefully, the Princess will agree, although that can be more iffy when she is not feeling well.

So...with all these unplanned developments that seem to be so routine here—the very reason why I don't do much planning—maybe I will get the painting done during this week as I hoped, maybe!

~ My Lord, please heal my daughter. ~

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Morning in the Dark

All humans realize they are loved when witnessing the dawn; early morning is the truimph of good over evil. Absolved by light we decide to go on. ~ Rufus Wainwright

I wake most mornings in darkness, not because I must but just because I most always have. I like the quiet solitude of the early morning before everyone else is up and with their conversation and noise making. It is not that I need time to wake up. No, my mind is active immediately when I realize consciousness. I have a rather active mind with many thoughts flooding in before my eyelids have unveiled my whereabouts. Within mere minutes I am up and out of bed, compelled by an urge that I cannot name, but that has been with me since I can remember.

In the dark of the morning is illumination.
In the quiet of the morning is beginning.
In the dream of the morning is awakening.

There is nothing so awe-inspiring as the dawning of an autumn day. For most of my life I have thought that every colorful sunrise I witnessed was a magnificent display of my Lord's artwork. I often wondered if He did it just for me; if anyone else really appreciated it; if it gave anyone, besides me, a better perspective of how small and helpless we all really are and yet...so loved by He who has the power to extinguish all life in a breath and, in spite of everything, chooses to grant us one more day of living.

The science of the sunrise is amazing in itself, although I prefer a description laced with a bit of mysticism. Think about it! Small droplets of water suspended in the air dense enough to form clouds of seemingly nothingness have the most powerful source of energy in our solar system radiating another form of nothingness called light on to them creating colorful shapes in the sky which change moment to moment with air flows, another force of seemingly nothingness, and the ever-changing angle of the sun briefly lasting while perceiver's line of sight is just right and then...it is gone, just gone. It is nothingness. There will never be a canvas like it ever again. If ever there was something that shouts in silence of the nothingness, "God is here," this is it.

God is here....awaken.

~ Thank you, my Lord, for another autumn sunrise and for being here when I wake. ~

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stopping the Morning Insanity

Insanity is doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different outcome.
~ Old Chinese Proverb

We have always started our day with breakfast, brushing teeth and hair, maybe a simple chore and then...piano. For the first three years since the Princess began piano lessons, we did the daily practice together, after all she had only just turned four years old when we began. We used a cute program called "Music for Little Mozarts." It was a fun time for us most mornings and eased us into the remainder of the day's lessons. Such sweet memories!

Even back then I rearranged the order of what lessons followed and even mixed them up from one day to the next, because random presentation works best with my daughter's learning style. However, piano has remained the first thing each morning for 4½ years and I am helping less than I did in the first years, but still supervising. Miss Trudy, her piano teacher, had been stressing that she needed to count for herself as the Princess' eighth birthday approached, just over six months ago. I also agreed it was time for her to be more self reliant and working on timing without as much help, although I do still help with that particularly when she is preparing a piece to be performed, so she can meet the deadline totally prepared.

However, I have a daughter who sees everything quite black and white, like the piano keys themselves. If her teacher tells her that I should not have to help her anymore...well, then she doesn't want me to help at all. (She is so much like I was!) So I would give her about 20-30 minutes to practice on her own, listening from a distance so that I knew where the trouble spots are and then I would help her identify the difficulty and smooth it out, planning for it to take just 15 minutes. Uh-oh! That means I am helping her and she would inform me, with authority, "Miss Trudy said I have to do it on my own," and then not cooperate with me at all.

Now Miss Trudy and I were friends before this little one was even a consideration, so that divide-and-conquer tactic is not going to work here with us. I have even called Miss Trudy a time or two to squash the argument so that my daughter would realize this. However, that did not stop her from dropping her hands from the piano and just sit there not practicing while I am sitting on the bench next to her. That quiet defiance! Those well thought out arguments with good use of logic and knowledge, but lacking of wisdom! That attitude! Yes, I remember being just like that and probably worse at her age. In some ways, it makes me laugh inside because it reminds me of me and in other ways it makes me sad because it reminds me that our relationship is changing as she is becoming more independent of me and most days it just frustrates me, although the mildness of that term only fits on the good days.

More days than not have become a struggle at the piano, so instead of spending 45-60 minutes, it becomes much longer and then followed by math, not her favorite subject, when we already have gotten off on the wrong foot. Most mornings are filled up with just piano and math alone squeezed in between the attitude adjustments that never really seem to solve the problem because it starts again in some varied degree the very next day. Every day we both braced ourselves as we went from breakfast with its hugs and kisses and conversation into the daily morning drama with the pouty face and crossed arms to end later in the day with apologies just before "can I go out and play now?"

On the mornings I did not help her with piano, we had much less drama and navigated the rest of her lessons more easily, but then she really was not pushing herself to get ready by the deadline for a performance. I also felt if piano was done later in the day that it would be given only a halfhearted effort by the both of us. Having prayed about this, how I don't want my daughter to push away from me in a manner that we might both regret should it continue, I think my Lord whispered the solution into my heart. She would practice on her own for a half an hour in the morning and then at the end of her lessons she runs through everything a few times working on the trouble spots usually for about 20 minutes in the afternoon, before she would go out to play, her big motivation for having absolutely no attitude while I help her.

We have tried this out the last two days and the difference is remarkable! We again have peaceful mornings with closeness. Even math is goes along more easily because I am not frustrated before we begin it, which was really concerning me as I used to tutor math and I know I have always enjoyed teaching it even with seriously struggling students.

This all goes to prove that my Lord has some pretty good advice He readily gives. Kind of makes me wonder why I don't ask for it more often.

~ My Lord, thank you for again opening my eyes to my quiet defiance, to my arguments, to my attitude of wanting to do it all my way without Your help. Thank you for showing me through this experience that You have a better plan for my daughter and for me than I could ever possibly have for either one of us. ~

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thank You for the Award, Ganeida!

Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust. ~ Jesse Owens

Besides not posting on my own blog, I have not been reading any other blogs lately either. Imagine my embarrassment when after a couple of weeks I finally popped in on Ganeida's blog to find that I had been given an award.

Award Rules:

1. Thank the person who gave this to you!
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link the person who nominated you.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that no one would really know.
5. Nominate 7 other bloggers & let them know they are nominated. Nominating is good.

Okay, here it goes:

1. See title.


3. Ganeida's Knots

4. Seven things about myself, eh?

  • I like doing jigsaw puzzles of Charles Wysocki's artwork.

  • I don't have the time (or space) to do jigsaw puzzles.

  • My favorite Christian author is Dallas Willard, but I tend to never finish his books just restart them over and over.

  • I wear rose-colored sunglasses, not only because bright sunlight makes my eyes water, but because I like how the rose tint makes all colors more vibrant.

  • I am puzzled about all the white hairs I keep finding because I still see a blond when I look in the mirror. Perhaps it is a residual effect from the rose-colored sun glasses?

  • For the first time in my life we have a dog, a Schutzhund trained German Shepherd (GSD), who is more my dog than my husband's, but the downside she warns anyone who comes near me--anyone, including my husband and my daughter.

  • I also have a cat who thinks he owns me, has outlived another cat and two dogs, is probably planning the demise of this GSD so as to outlive her also, and hates anyone to have attention from me but him so he does not think much of my husband or child either.

  • I love having beautiful gardens, but you would never know it looking at the ones I have right now.

5. Now for the last, I really don't know seven other bloggers since I am fairly new to it and I really don't have the time of late to read much or go blog-hopping to find ones I like, but I truly appreciate the thought, so if you are a blogger who happens by, please leave a comment and so I can get to know you too.

~ My Lord, thank you for those things that make each one of us unique and interesting. ~

October's Thorn

Other holidays have become less important. Halloween is the exception. It has become more important. ~ Howard Davidowitz

I have come to dread October. It really saddens me because autumn is my favorite time of year with all its colors and cooling breezes, but with it comes one holiday that I detest—a word I rarely use so when I do it is easily recognized that I really mean it.

For over a month, most movies featured on TV are horror films and I don't mean those old black and white films that became classics, but truly terrifying scenes in full color with blood and special effects that make them all too real. They would give me nightmares even today and I have no interest in watching them at all.

Our new next door neighbors began decorating for Halloween within days of moving in at the end of September. Even while they still have things to unpack from moving boxes in the garage, every front window is covered with a variety of ghosts, witches, and other Halloween decorations, lights glowing on the porch at nights, and tombstones in a fake graveyard. The boy thinks it is weird that we do not celebrate Halloween, just one more thing in a list of what he thinks is weird about us.

It all seems so innocence, even secular, to most people, including many of my fellow Christians, who have chosen to see it as just a fun dress up and candy holiday; I am not condemning their customs or beliefs. A few pagan acquaintances, particularly those of honoring Celtic gods, are quick to remind me of how many pagan symbols Christians have adopted into our own holidays and religions customs and there are many. Yet, there is no one holiday like Halloween, when scary, evil, and occult attributes are celebrated, or at least imitated, so openly and widely. I did not really like it that much when I was a child, as it just seemed to me that big kids found it fun and allowable to scare little kids or do mischievous things to people's houses.

While my husband points out to the Princess that it is going to neighbors to beg for candy, even the cute saying of "trick or treat" is actually a threat, something a child does not need to learn as appropriate to say even if he has no thought to follow through with mischief. It has also been a dangerous holiday. I lived in a city where trick-or-treating was banned for two years because so many children were being hurt by the "treats"—the trick was in the treat. Sick people.

I appreciate that Catholic church tried to create a Christian alternative to pagan celebrations by moving All Saint's Day from May 13 to November 1, hence the name Hallowe'en (All Hallow's Eve). Still, this holiday really does no honor to my Lord as I see it and for that reason we have chosen not to celebrate Halloween at all.

That being said, the older my daughter gets, the harder it is for her not to want to participate. Yesterday the Princess and her daddy went to help with the 4-H horse ride and games at the Haunted Junkyard during the early afternoon when the Halloween activities are not of a scary nature—not that this makes it more acceptable to me, but it is a compromise that seems to work, since my daughter is of the age to understand the difference and she loves being with the horses. Next weekend we have a choice to help there or at another location, a store called the Tractor Supply Co. The latter is my choice.

Next weekend among a number of other activities, my church is having a "Trunk and Treat," which is a poor play on words really, but the term seems to have stuck. The children can dress up and "beg for candy" from the trunk of each car. (I am describing this for my friends who are in other countries possibly shaking their heads in wonder as I imagine I might do myself if I did not live here to see it.) This is the first time we will be participating, and there will be other activities and food as well.

However, that does not change the fact that on October 31st costumed children will be knocking on our door, even though we leave our porch lights off and close the drapes. Even though we have never given out candy since we have lived here, they still stomp on our porch to knock as the dog barks. Little eyes try looking into the windows, as if this yearly ritual gives them the right to invade your privacy (which is why we now draw the drapes), and we try to ignore them hoping that they will not be the type of children to do tricks, as some do. We do not answer the door because once the door opens, there is a deluge of children thinking you gave some candy away even as the other children walk away saying we are not giving candy.

There is no other time we will see most of these children. Some are even dropped off in our neighborhood by van loads and do not even live here. They run quickly through the neighborhood and then pile into the van to go to the next one. Every child gets more candy than he should eat in a year!

I know. I sound like the Halloween Scrooge. I did warn you that I detest this holiday, didn't I?

~ My Lord, please keep the children safe and unafraid this coming Halloween. Next weekend may our church have a good number of children, who will learn about You. ~

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Whatever is Worthy

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. ~ Philippians 4:8 (Amplified Bible)

I am again considering the person I want to be and how I am not that person. I want a simpler life. I want to be spending more of my time playing games with my daughter (besides doing lessons), working out, reading, writing, practicing music, creating artwork, doing needlework, studying the Bible, praying,...actually, I want to do all the things that make me feel drawn to my Lord. I want to walk with Him every day and in everything I do. That is what I want...or I think I want, but I rarely do, so I really don't want it, at least not enough.

Sorry, kid. You got the gift, but it looks like you're waiting for something. ~ Oracle (The Matrix)

I have been considering for what I am waiting and why I resist doing the things I really believe in my heart is the "real" me. I think television is one of my crutches (with the second being the computer). I enjoy sci-fi and with all the special effects they can do now, I relish it even more. So, is that who I am? A sci-fi technie or an artist? Can I really be both? Not that sci-fi is bad of itself, but it seems to drawn my mind away from my Lord, from the here and now, from quiet creative pursuits so that my mind is free to converse with my Lord.

This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. ~ Yoda in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

I feel I am never really "in the moment," but always looking beyond it or trying to escape from it and yet in each moment is my Lord.

I must confess that once the TV is on, it stays on until everyone is in bed, and it rarely is on before 4:00 PM, unless I am sick and cannot do lessons. We pretty much stick to just certain shows and we do not watch mindless sitcoms, talk shows, or soap operas. We do watch educational shows but not all the time and even though we are selective even many of the recreational shows we watch have elements that are not worthy to be in our thoughts.

When I am craving foods I should not, I set a time aside for fasting as it breaks that habit. I suppose I need to fast from the TV. In honesty, my daughter is mentally healthier in this respect than I am, as she will watch one show or movie and once it is done, she is off on creative pursuits like drawing or playing or decorating the house for a party she has planned, but I am still sitting there often or leaving it on for background noise—and the only reason I can think of as to why I do that is because I am lonely....No, that is really not it, even though I use that excuse in my own thoughts. It really is something to occupy my mind so that I can escape thinking on the things I should be, on my Lord. I am running away from Him. I have to face that. This is why I am lonely, I think.

TV occupies so much of my time and it is empty. It uses up time that I could be pursuing creative interests and actually producing something worthwhile. Now I can do some needlework while watching, but I then am not really watching it. I am in such a rut. I know in my mind that I am waiting to do things in the future that I could be doing now, but there is always an excuse.

I have thought about turning off the TV service for a few months again; we did that before when money was very tight. Then when we watched a DVD, it was what we chose and when it was over, the TV went off. We have a large number of DVDs of many genres and no commercials! I have to say that the commercials are alarming these days; we usually pause and then fly through them thanks to the DVR set up. It is nice to choose a movie on DVD and not have commercials to worry about. However, our regular DVD player is not working, so we cannot watch a movie or VeggieTales occasionally as a restful treat on a weekend or a raining day, although if we turn off the service for a few months we can use that money saved to buy a new one—something worth considering.

Many of the new and some of the older shows my husband or I would like to see, he can do on the evenings he is away or we can watch them online, as so many are now available to watch through the Internet that we really don't need a TV service, but the downside is that we also would lose access to the educational channels and shows. I suppose it comes down to I just need to regulate myself and cultivate the desire to seek my Lord more.

~ My Lord, I detest being controlled be my own self-imposed addictions. Please give me strength and guidance to become the person You would have me to be and be a good example for my daughter also. ~

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

Growing old is no more than a bad habit which a busy man has no time to form.
~ Andre Maurois

September was a busy month for me and that is why I have not been adding posts to my blog.

The Princess and I went to four seasonal consignment sales which thankfully were spread out over five weeks this time. Last spring they all were on the same week. I spent over my budget, but this time I found so many nice longer dresses, it was difficult to pass them by. Although the Princess is actually size 7 slim, I bought many in size 8. Of them, most are a bit large, that is, wide in the shoulders, but the Princess doesn't mind. I was hoping to be a seller in two of the consignment sales, but I ended up only doing one. I will be receiving a $135 check in the mail within three weeks, which goes back into the envelop for personal expenses, from which the clothing money came.

My husband and daughter were both sick a few days with a cold-like flu and fever, but if I actually got it, it was so mild that it was just feeling a bit off a few days.

We had an unbelievable amount of rain in just two days time two weeks ago. Something like twelve inches in my county, which caused flash floods and water damage in many houses. These were homes without flood insurance. The Princess became a bit worried about our house when I showed her pictures on the Internet. I explained that we live on a ridge on the second highest elevation in our subdivision. If water gets up this high then there is something terribly wrong with entire the world. I am so glad we did not watch the news channels as she would have been in tears. We had problems finding a route to the airport because many roads were closed on that Monday, but we made it going the long way. The next day the highway was closed as well, so I am glad we did not have to go out that day.

The tent...well, my husband tried to scrub off the old waterproofing, but it did not work out too well, so this past weekend we decided to pack it away for now and work on it in the spring, hopefully. (Yes, it actually has been up in the garage since they camped out the first week of September.)

The Princess was so excited about the first day of autumn and was ready to start wearing long sleeve shirts, but had to change as it still is warm during the days.

I have finished the base coat in the Princess' room and it is now ready to start the decorative painting. The walls have the look of Pepto-Bismol right now, so I am looking forward to doing something more to it to make it look less like something you need to take for an upset stomach. Now that the consignment sales are over, it is my number one priority in our list of projects.

I had my dentist appointment yesterday. As typical of me often not responding to medication as expected, the sedation medication did not work well, however I was quite relaxed. Time did pass quickly for me, but I remember everything which is not typical, they say. I have to go back tomorrow as I found a few rough spots in the filling areas. I am pleased with how my teeth look, but I have concerns with the gums that are not going to be a quick fix.

I have written my article and submitted it before the deadline and I have sent in my monthly attendance records for homeschooling and tonight is a 4-H meeting, so it seems I am all caught up in my calendar--well, my housework is way behind but at least we look good on paper!

And...I did have a birthday tucked in the midst of it all, I think.

~ My Lord, thank you for being with me this past month and for the assistance you have provided for the families who lost so much during the rains. Thank you for one more year that I have been with my husband and daughter, and the blessings you have given us. ~