Friday, November 21, 2014

Seeking a Church Family

The church is the great lost and found department. ~Robert Short

Choosing a church home for us has never really been about choosing a convenient place to worship God or based on the activities that would be beneficial to us. For us, it is choosing a family. We have been members at five churches since we moved to this area yet, I feel that we have not really had a church family since we moved from our our Florida church seventeen years ago. We were led by God to certain churches for varying reasons and seasons, but as soon as we left, whether quietly or with good-byes, only two of the members of those former churches ever contacted us just to say something simple like "I miss you" (and one of them left to join the church we did a few months later). Perhaps we just did not make that much of an impact on their lives....

In truth, that may have been part of the problem, but the other part is that they did not make a real effort be an impact on ours either. In fact, most of them resisted or were just too busy when asked to join us for a meal. We made very good friends at a church we had gone to for four years and they followed us to the last one we went as I mentioned previously. That family will most likely stay there as it is rather convenient for them being just a few minutes from their house, which is not close to anything, and they like the church. However, I always felt that we found that church and stayed there for a time to settle them into it, because it was God's will for them at this time to be there, but I never really felt it was the place that we were meant to be for very long. I really hoped I was wrong about that temporary part, because I like sitting with them and talking with them before and after the service and I was very concerned about how our friendship would be affected. But, here we are...again, looking for a church, a family.

This time, however, we do have certain things we need from the church. Our daughter needs to be involved with the praise and worship team and play piano or even another instrument with the band. She needs this experience to develop the skill of playing with other instruments and backing up singers. She also needs a youth group that will challenger her to grow spiritually and be her sisters and brothers. She has very good parents who do this, I believe, but she needs to have support coming from other directions as well at this point in her life. This time we are specifically looking in these areas of the church to see if it has the potential to meet these needs for her as we both feel strongly led to do.

As for my husband and I, we would like a family. People who actually do impact our lives. People we would miss if they were no longer around and people who would miss us if we were no longer around. People who really share and care, not "the only when we are at church" dump then jump. People who challenge us to grow spiritually inwardly yet actually do things to help others outside of the church. I do not expect perfection; if the church was perfect, it would have no room for us. I would like a place where some of the people that inspired me to want to be a better Christian and that I would do the same for some them.

The church we left is one that I would still like to visit now and then. We did visit it a few weeks ago. I like the positive message, but honestly even that day it was the same message we have heard for a year and a half, just the angle changes: freedom from bondage, be the church outside the church, use your gifts. Great message, but it is basically the same thing every Sunday and it was great for the first six months because we needed it so much, I suppose, but now it just seems stagnant. It is as if outside world has no impact on the church and, sadly, visa versa. My husband who has Israeli friends was so sensitive to the fact that the pastor did not lead us in prayer for Israel's protection as missiles rained on it not that long ago.

We visited one of the churches recommended by the siding guy--that sounds weirder than it was, but if you read my previous post you get it. Anyway, it is about as far as the last one in a different direction. It is smallish but has just gone to two services each Sunday. We got there earlier than we meant to, but that gave us plenty of time to meet people. First impression, this church has hospitality. We were met with a wonderful aroma the moment we walked into the front door. The decor was exquisite. Orange walls with chartreuse and black accents; thoughtfully simple yet obvious and friendly, as if it this place was loved. The sanctuary was unfinished with a cement floor and all the inwards of a metal building showing, but even there I saw touches of love. Off to the side of the sanctuary was a large room filled with--are you ready for this?--coffee, hot water for tea, hot cider, iced tea, cold lemonade, all kinds of donuts and even a few bangles with cream cheese available. Now this kind of stuff is not necessary, of course, but I was thankful because we left in a rush and I had not had breakfast...and I felt that someone cared enough about me, and all the people who would be coming that day, to provide this hospitality. Yes, I felt at home...and loved.

After talking with a few people, I lost track of my daughter, but I heard her playing one of her recital pieces on the keyboard, a showy piece that requires her to play with one hand over the other several times. She told me that after they dropped their jaws, the man who asked her to play turned to the other man and said he was fired. One man who plays the bass guitar is in a band and sometimes cannot be there. On those Sundays, the keyboardist plays the bass guitar and they have no one on the keyboard--yes, they would love to have my daughter join the group.

Next Sunday is the men's meeting before service at a BBQ restaurant. The wives often eat breakfast so that they do not have to use two vehicles to get to church. We are planning on it but then it would make a very long time at the church; after the second service, they are having a newcomers lunch where they discuss the doctrine of the church, which I would expect leans or is completely Baptist even though it is not in the name. They are a planted church sponsored by a huge Baptist church not that far away. The pastor has a doctorate in theology, which is probably part of the reason his sermons are framed in the traditional way, but certainly more in depth Biblical teaching than we have had at the previous church. The music is contemporary and not as much the top popular songs as our last church, but also more worshipful and respectful--not as much staging and hyping up. The membership, we were told, is around 150, but we did not stay for the second service to see for ourselves. The youth group is in a rebuilding stage as they had quite a few graduates this year, so that can be good or bad depending on how it goes for the Princess.

Will this be our new church family? I have pretty good feelings so far.

~ My Lord, please let us see clearly the path You already prepared for us in finding our new church home. ~

Friday, September 19, 2014

This Must Be a God Thing

God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with him. ~Jim Elliot

Some would say it is a coincidence, but I would say it must be God. It all started with me posting... well, actually, it started before that....


How does one get from changing phones to finding a reputable siding company to confirmation of home church concerns?

I guess the very first thing that put this into motion was that our wireless phone system was not doing its job very well anymore. You see, I like having my hands free when I talk on the phone, so I always use a headset. Most of the time, I talk while doing quiet, mind numbing tasks that have no favor with me, like folding and putting away laundry or dusting...these are extremely boring, need-no-thought tasks that I found go so much faster and are far more enjoyable when I am talking on the phone.

Now the problem was that the phone system, being older, was not doing well with all the other wireless technology we have added. A few years ago, we had changed from a land line to a VOIP, which took care of the line static that was quite annoying and made it difficult for both parties to hear each other. The VOIP was very quiet, however as time went on the signal between the base and the phone being used was breaking up in more areas of our home, so that there were few zones with a clear signal for a conversation. One of the worse zones is where I fold my laundry and go to talk in solitude. After a couple of years dealing with this difficulty, my husband and I seriously began considering changing over to completely cellular even though it would be a greater monthly expense.

I did have a cellular phone--a prepaid flip phone that usually cost me only $50 a year, because I just did not use it much--so we decided to keep that plan and get a new flip phone for our daughter. It is not hers, per se, but rather the one we allow her to use when we are apart. I looked at phones a few months before choosing my smart phone: Samsung Galaxy 5. I had not had a fully functioning smart phone before, but my husband assured me that once I picked the phone I really wanted, I would love it...and I really do love it. It is like my Kindle with more and I can access the Internet from anywhere, which I rarely do but that feature has come in handy a time or two. What an amazing feat in technology! It is great for picture taking and then I can send the photo immediately. You might be rolling your eyes here and I know others have been doing this for awhile, but I only had a flip phone before. The downside is that I have had to get use to taking my phone with me everywhere or placing it near me even in the house, which was new. I have willing tethered myself to this small bit of technology; owned by it as much as I own it. Now on any given moment of the day, I find myself moving my laptop with my Kindle and Galaxy also in tow. So it goes with technology enslavement!

After the phone switch, we then had an unused three-phone, two-line wireless phone system I bought when I had a home business and needed the second line, although I had not used the second line feature in nine years. I listed the phone system on Craigslist for a very reasonable price and got a good bite within a day.

I met with the woman to make the transaction with the three phones, head set, and manual (yeah, I do keep everything) and tell her about the one phone, which was used more than the others, might need a new battery as it is functioning but quirky at times. She was far more interested in the intercom workings because she is going to use it in her business...which originally was a roofing company but with her partner it has added siding, windows, gutters, and more. Just what we need to fix our home. The company has her father's name, but he retired giving half of his business to his daughter and the other half to a young man who was a developer that he hired years ago--not sold, gave. I was impressed when she told me that they never do anything on credit in their company. We used to see their billboards in the area with their name, but her father told them that Jesus was the only advertising they needed, so no more billboards. That impressed me even more and since then God has blessed them so they have been busier than ever.

I asked to set up a time to get an estimate because we probably have just under half of what we need to have the work done and I have a very good feeling about this company. When the partner came to talk with both my husband and me about what we wanted to have done, we were pleased the quality of the products he uses and his candor, but we are still cautious having been burned so badly the last time we had such major work done.

As we talked, the conversation somehow turned to churches. We told him that we might be looking again for another. This man also has a Christian band and has lived in the area all his life so he gave us referrals of churches that might be more encouraging of getting the Princess involved with music. We also mentioned that we were having issues with "Encounter." It was not until then that he told us his sister used to go to our church and she left over that same thing. There is such tremendous pressure and secretiveness encircling Encounter that it just did not feel right to her.

That was confirmation I had been praying about for sometime. I had been questioning myself, wondering if I was making this more of an issue than it is because when I am sitting in this church, I  cannot help but feel like they (all the ones who have been to Encounter) think I am second-hand Christian. I cannot see how anyone can feel like he belongs in this church without having been to Encounter. Also, I have noticed over the months that a few people are missing who used to go every Sunday and I thought maybe they were going to the later service or to the other campus, but we have had a few services with everyone together and I still have not seen these people. I know that a few did not have any Internet access and it is frustrating how heavily the church relies on Facebook. Honestly, I do not know why these people are no longer coming, but it seems it started a few months ago with the push for the last Encounter.

I also want to say that I do not feel Encounter is a bad thing, I just still feel no leading from my Lord to go to it and I am concerned about what I am seeing, how such importance is being placed on it within the church...actually the many churches that embracing this across the country. There is good that comes from it for many people (we don't know exactly what because they are told not to talk about it to people who have not been to it--the outsiders that they do not call "outsiders") but there is also division and an undercurrent of judging to which they would never admit...and tactful, but ever persistant urgings that all this would go away for us if we would just go to Encounter. Yet, this is not a good reason to go.

~ My Lord, thank you for your answers to prayer about getting our house fixed and about concerns we have had with our church. Please guide our steps and have us follow You closely as decisions are made. ~

Friday, August 22, 2014

Love Bracelets

Beauty... is the shadow of God on the universe.
~Gabriela Mistral, DesolacĂ­on

While I was beautifying my gardens in the mornings and on cool days and some evenings, I was secretly starting a business in afternoons, during bad weather, and other evenings. Remember My Love Bracelet? Well, I really loved those beaded charm bracelets so much that I toyed around with the idea for months and then I finally justified my desires with the concept that it would be a very good opportunity to teach my daughter about entrepreneurship.

The Princess had been having fun making the Rainbow Loom bracelets that so many of her friends were also making and she talked of selling her creations but the problem is that so many girls are making them that there is no market. I tried to help her understand the concept of supply and demand in marketing. It is fine for her to enjoy making the rubber band bracelets and she even came up with a few of her own designs! However, it was probably always going to be a hobby, rather than a means to make a bit of coin.

With her desire to create things to sell and make some money...and the fact that we were both into bracelets...and that the beaded charm bracelets were so much like the expensive Pandora bracelets but could be sold at a fraction of the price--Imagine the cost of a completed bracelet matching or being less the cost of just one Pandora bead!--I knew that many of the women in my area would love to have one (or two or three). Then they would also love get some for friends and family as gifts because they really are quite lovely, fun, and affordable.

So, I began looking into sources for good quality glass beads, charms, and bracelets. My bracelets and charms are not sterling silver, but they are lead and nickel free, which was important to me because I am allergic to nickel. After making a few bracelets that I personally liked, just in case I would not sell any, I just matched what I was wearing whenever I went out and interest just happened...except it seemed that everyone wanted colors I did not have at the time so, of course, I had to order more beads, then it was some wanted more bling, and get the picture. In testing the market, we found that the prospects look promising and, hopefully, the Princess is beginning to understand  how to create a market because that people tend to want what they see and do not yet have.

I can spend hours looking at beads and charms to buy and more hours playing with combinations of them. It even surprises me how much I am enjoying this!

I spent several days with the camera and lighting equipment I had on hand testing how to take the best photographs of these beaded beauties. Above is one I call "You Need a Little Christmas." Then I posted them on Pinterest under the name of Miss T. Treasures and I have a few more to post yet too. So, you can see I now have a wide variety, but the cool thing, besides I can wear any as my favorite for the day (which is difficult to choose and so very, very nice!), is that everyone can personalize her own bracelet. I have made some that might be close to what a person would like and then it is just a matter of getting the right bracelet size and switching out a few beads and charms they do not like want for the ones they do. I am not planning to do this as an online business, presently, but who knows? I just think the bracelets sell themselves better in person.

So many bare wrists and so few bracelets!

~ Thank you, my Lord, for giving us the gift of creating and enjoying things of beauty. Please bless this little business. ~

Saturday, August 16, 2014

How Does My Garden Grow - Part 3

I like gardening - it's a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself. ~Alice Sebold

I have quite a few areas left to work on. The upper front garden, as I mentioned in my last post, is not done, but this is the one I focused on next, the blueberry bush garden which is on the south side and gets the most sun of all the gardens. I took this picture late in the day. I can only work in this garden early in the morning or late in the day to avoid sunburns and the heat. You can see I have the back stuff under the mulch that helps keeps the weeds under control, but nature finds a way, if you turn your back on it! Actually, nearly all the garden areas looked similar to this until I worked them, I was just too ashamed to even take the pictures to show the transformation. I decided that I should show at a least one...but it still makes me cringe.

This garden has been edged with a variegated liriope that is the spreading rather than clumping type, which means that it spreads just like the grass that has infiltrated it. Such a messy garden! I decided to take it all out and maybe edge with a clumping liriope, separating the plants I have on hand in hopes that they will tolerate the sunlight.

Now in the next picture below, you will see, at the front of this garden, the stump of a ornamental cherry tree that we cut down because it was diseased. We used several treatments to kill the stump and roots, but as diseased as it was, the thing took years to completely die. After it finally did, fire ants decided that they would like to make a home around it. I would get rid of one batch and another would move in! So, there the fire-ant-wooing stump sat in the garden that was larger than I needed it to be and I would like to make smaller with the edge going right where the stump was and I decided enough was enough with the ants--I needed to remove the stump! I treated the ant hill and I talked about the stump with my husband the night before. He had been doing his own projects and so the gardening has been mine alone, even the Princess would not work in the heat.

Here is my garden in the embarrassing stage:

The next morning, it was cloudy and a bit cooler, and the ant hill was dead. My husband was working on the van because it was making a strange sound he could not find (which took most of the day for the mechanic to find the source but only ended up costing us a bit over $300 thankfully), so when I came outside to work in the garden and found the axe stuck in the stump, I thought he put it there for me to use...but my Prince Charming saw me pitifully hacking away and yelled, "That's not for you. Do you want to be able to go tubing tomorrow?" Okay, so why was it left there all by itself? (By the way, our friends changed the tubing trip to a swimming one at a park because of a church meeting and public school starting the next day, but we took our new tubes bought at a close-out store with us.) May I say that my husband is impressive when he is using an axe! The stump was out in less  than 30 minutes.

On my part, I first dug out about a third of liriope stuffed their bareroots in four plastic pots with a sign "Free Plants" by the road. Someone did take them. Good luck with them, I say. I still had more than I could ever want, but I am thankful for when I planted them, I only had a few and separated them a few times to fill in. They tolerated the four-year drought and poor soil when I lost so many plants, but at this point I have tired of their meandering ways and friendliness with the grass and weeds.

What is it with grass, anyway? It grows where you don't want it and doesn't grow where you do. This garden has a rock edging, but not enough to go all the way around, which is one of the reasons I wanted to make it smaller, so that meant I would have to move all the rock edging. I found grass had forged its way not just between the rocks but under them also, but then so had the liriope in the opposite direction. To avoid using chemicals, I ended up taking apart the entire garden, digging up all the roots under the old black sheeting, removing a rosemary bush that I never really liked there, laying down new black sheeting, and refitting the rocks with black sheets with an extra line of black sheeting under them also. If you have ever done a rock edge like this one, so that the rocks fit together with the smallest of gaps, you know what a job it is. It took me several mornings to do just this one patch of ground and the weather was particularly hot during this time even in the early morning.

Still ugly in the above picture, but now weed and grass free! I got all the rocks how I wanted them, but there is still a gap in the front as I knew there would be, so I had a plan. I divided and planted some of the liriope that clumps and makes a nice border as a test to see if they can take the sun, before I edge the entire garden area with them. The garden bed is a bit smaller, using less mulch, looking a bit sparse with just three blueberry bushes currently--well, the jury is still out about the middle one making it. I have also used this garden for planting watermelons and pumpkins as it does not bother me if the vines over flow but this year I knew I had to rework the entire thing so I did not plant any vines.

So I have done about all I am going to do with the gardens for now...maybe...well, there is always something to do and I want to finish planting the liriope edging behind the rocks on the garden on the left in this picture, but I had to wait until today because I treated yet another fire ant hill and I should be able to work the area now.

Then I need switch gears. I already put some clothing in our first consignment sale which I will be picking up the leftovers today and listing what is left for the next one this week. I am going to be consignment sale shopping one day this week with my friend and her daughter's former teacher, a fellow church member who has taken the year off for maternity purposes. I also need to begin planning our homeschool curriculum and I do have some other things I am excited about that I will be posting here soon.

~ My Lord, thank you for a summer of gardening, for the break I so much needed. Now that I am refreshed emotionally, my Lord, help me to bring my focus on educating my child.~

Friday, August 15, 2014

How Does My Garden Grow - Part 2

I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow. ~David Hobson

As you will see, my herb garden in the back was not the only big change. My husband and I decided to kill off all the ivy in our backyard because entwined among the lovely English Ivy is Poison Ivy. I have tried to kill off the later without harming the former for a couple of years, while trying to avoid the itchy rashes. I have to confess that I never really had much of a reaction to Poison Ivy until we moved to Georgia and now the times I get it the most is from the outside cats. Poison Ivy does not bother animals, just people. I wish I had some goats or horses, as they can eat it. Anyway, it just has to go!

So, to prepare for the burnout and clearing of the wooded areas, I moved all my shade loving plants that had survived the vinca take-over in my back shade garden to the front. I also cleared out the bushes. which were more of a clumping plant than bush, that the former owners left under the deck stairs that I never warmed up to and all the weeds to plant clippings of the vinca since it is a filling vine that does not climb. While doing all this I made sure that the soil was mounded around the foundation so that the water would drain away from the house. We do not have any foundation problems but the gutter system is inadequate in certain areas which we will address when the house gets resided and we replace the gutter system adding a few more downspouts and water barrels.

I moved some hostas that were doing not really growing from the front garden, probably too shady, so that I could complete the border with the variegated type, and planted them in the back around the crepe myrtle tree. This area will all green up over a few months even in the winter.

Here are some views of the front gardens. (Normally there is not a wheelbarrow in the background.)

Coming up the walk from the driveway there is variegated vinca on the left, which is still not completely filled in; they would have liked more rain than we have been getting. I love ferns, but the few I had were hidden in the back shade garden. I began wondering why I never thought about ferns in the front. I decided that the front garden is shady enough to put the shade loving plants where I can really enjoy their beauty, so on the left between the liriope and the rocks are Lady ferns, and they are loving where they are. The edging plants above the rocks are variegated hostas that divided from a few that I had that covered about a fourth of the way previously and spread them out so that they cover the entire top edge...a least to the place where the sun would be too much for them. I still have some work to do behind the hostas in the upper tier, but that may not get done until next spring when I can see where the tulips and daffodils are and move them closer to the outer edge and allow the azaleas to grow around the trunk of the oak tree.

On the right lowest level on the right as you look up the walk is the English Ivy clippings from the back yard that I just planted. My black-eyed Susans are very hardy and often have to be clipped back, but the cats like to hide and nap in them. Between them and the house I transplanted some large orange lillies that were further down the walk and used to crowd around a half-barrel planter that I removed--well, I moved it and it fell apart so... it is now gone.

In the background, closer to the house is where I like to plant cucumber vines, just because I can keep my eye on them easier and they do not get as stressed out from the sun. In front of them, I planted tiara hostas, my favorite hosta, rescued from the back shade garden. I barely found them straggled in among the vinca. This may not be the final place for them, it is just I had nothing to put there and I needed to put them somewhere. Hopefully, they will thrive.

The middle tier on the right used to have a bush that we took out a couple of years ago so it has been basically neglected until this year. I separated some of the Liriope that edges the left side to make an edging on the right as well and then filled that area with the silvery wormwood, purple sweet potato vine, Sweet Annie at top and two highly contrasting annuals. This is how it looked when I first planted it.

This is how it looks now, just a few weeks later. I am hoping the wormwood survives the winter.

Back to the left side...
Are you seeing my half barrel fountain? I would like to get something a bit more decorative, but the most important part is hearing it as you can up the walk or I come out the door. It has a calming babble and cooling effect that invites me into the gardens...and then to gardening.

 This is the view from the other side.

How inviting is this? Lilies of the valley line the right of the stepping stones. I love their scent in the spring!

I also found what I think is a wild ginger with very pretty heart-shaped leaves outside of the shade garden all by itself, not the typical ginger I have seen around here. I decided I would move it also, because it was just pretty.

I dug around for the shamrock rhizomes I had planted in the shade garden. The green ones had died out and I only saw a few purple about ground, which have a delicate pink flower when they bloom, but I found plenty of the rhizomes underneath so I moved them to the front yard also. They are definitely liking the new spot among Japanese painted ferns, asparagus ferns (not really a fern but adds a delicate texture), and a bleeding heart plant that also never thrived in the back shade garden.

As I looked over my "new" garden I noticed that I had most used the colors of greens with varying textures and purples, my very favorite garden colors. Maybe that is why I smile when I walk out the front door now!

~ Thank you, my Lord, for the beauty I was able to bring into my life through my gardens and for the ability to work hard, building muscle while being productive. ~

Sunday, July 27, 2014

How My Garden Grows - Part 1

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it. ~Author Unknown

I have not posted for nearly two months nor have I read other blogs either. I have missed the blogging world, but honestly I have very little time to do it and when I may have time, I have no energy. I am practically falling asleep as I am typing now, and reading...I just cannot do much of it without nodding off within a few minutes. Several things contributed to this change in my life, which I will need to list perhaps over several posts, but if I could sum up the main reason for this abnormal exhaustion in one word, it would be gardening.

I was spiritually wrestling over my church about the whole Encounter thing and then I felt the Lord was urging me to do some serious gardening during this summer and working on the inside our house is going to follow in the cooler months and during days of bad weather. He was telling me that I am an organizer. I like to organize. I like it when things are organized. I like changing my environment to fit my lifestyle. For instance, I have enjoyed my kitchen so much more after I organized it in February and March last year. It still fits our lifestyle and is convenient.

Suddenly, I stopped seeing my gardens as weed-infested, over-whelming tasks and began to see them as things that I could organize. I just could not wait to get working on them every morning I got up so I would work the most during the cool of the day. I like gardening, but not the heat and all the bug bites I now have and the way I garden is pretty hard work: I use our bunny berry compost teaming with worms, which I worked in to the soil of my gardens. I wish I could use a tiller at times, but in most of my gardens are trees with roots, so I do much of it the old fashion way...good exercise. We have such a large compost pile at the beginning of the summer, but now it is rather small. Almost all of my yard is in the shade for a large portion of the day, different times of shade based on the location, of course, so I have been good at avoiding sunburns by working mostly in the shade although I still tanned a bit.

I have been enjoying organizing my gardens very much. As you can see by the following pictures.

I completely revamped my herb garden, however many seeds did not cooperate by spouting, sadly, so there is more mulch than greens. This time I added some decorative plants that are not herbs along the walkway too. It makes me smile to look at my herb garden.

The tuxedo cat in left corner is Sharii, with the nickname Sharii Purr (sha REE per) because he purrs so loudly it sounds painful. All our nicknames are longer than the name of the is just something we do.


Even though it is sparse presently, I am just happy it is not full of weeds and out of control mints anymore.

All the mints are contained! I gave up on ever containing mountain mint and pulled it all out. On the left in a terra cotta pot is peppermint. In the broken fountain is chocolate peppermint, which drapes nicely. On the right in a watering can with a broken bottom is spearmint. Behind the statue is fennel and rue, left to right.

Yes, I moved the cat nip also, but the cats rarely bother it. They just like hanging in the herb garden.

Although I do think Midnight (nicknamed Little Miss Midnight), is a bit unhappy that the chocolate mint is now in one of her favorite napping places.

We use rain caught in barrels to water most of our plants by hand, which is why we have had so many watering cans rusting out. I usually get plastic ones now. In the pot is parsley and behind it is dill.

I have been spending some time with God while I have been gardening. In my mind, I had been making things impossible for me to do...many things. Gardening has put things in a better perspective for me. My husband says it is an unending job. While that is true, there is a point that it is easier to maintain and look beautiful.

~ Thank you, my Lord, for spending time with me and helping me to see no task is impossible as long as I am willing to do it. Thank you, also, for the joy You have given in doing the task and blessing of the restorative sleep each night. ~

Sunday, June 8, 2014

No Boxes Here?

I've been saying for a couple of years now that people need to let God out of the Sunday morning box, that He doesn't want to just be with you for an hour or two on Sunday morning and then put back in His box to sit there until you have an emergency, but He wants to invade your Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. ~Joyce Meyer

I have often stated here on my little corner of the Interverse (that is, my word combination of Internet and universe) that hypocrisy is the most interesting sin of all to me: Mostly, because we all are guilty of it (I am including myself) and blissfully unaware of our guilt and we would rather it remain just that way. I have this unfortunate gift (or curse, depending on your viewpoint) of seeing hypocrisy, even though I am not consciously looking to find any. To me, it is human nature, always there in people, and there is no need for me to seek it just runs amok and smacks into me head-on.

Recently my husband and I both had one of those smack head-on moments. The details of the moment are not important, what is important is the hypocrisy, because it lingers on.

Our church as a whole preaches about following your passion, using your gifts, stepping out of the box, connecting with people and connecting people to God...and to really do it. I love that about our church. We have been there a year now. We talk to people while at church, but we are out of the loop otherwise because we are not on Facebook. We are not the only ones, I know a few people who come regularly who are not on the Internet at all. So, our connections are limited because we are not in the preferred communication box. That should not have stopped anyone reaching out to us and making a connection, like just asking for my phone number and calling now and then, but since Facebook is their style, for them to connect with me, I need to be on Facebook. Of course, they would see that as a convenience for me, not a box that I have to fit in.

What I have found is that it is never a box when you are the one happy in it, but the people outside of it see it as the box that it is.

To be an active church team member we were asked to fill out a form and then a meeting time would be set. We filled out our forms and turn them in back in November. Then there were the holidays and crazy ice storms and such, so after a few reminders and over six months, we had our meeting recently. We were strongly encouraged to go on a retreat and we got the impression that we would not be seriously considered for service in the church until we go to this retreat, which happens only once a year. They see this retreat as a benefit for us, not another box that we have to fit in.

My husband and I have prayed about the retreat and neither one of us feel God's leading for us to go this year, as unbelievable as that may sound to those who have told us how wonderful it is. How could God not want us to go? Although they say that you should not go unless you are ready to go, they just cannot believe that anyone would not be ready. I felt quite a bit of peer pressure from this, but not God's calling. My husband and I came to the conclusion that the retreat would likely benefit us, but even more it would change their opinions of us.

That is because they are so happy, they do not see the box they are wanting us to fit in so that we can be like them, in their minds.

What we have noticed is that the active church team members really only connect on a personal level with each other. Honestly, they are too busy being church "connectors" to connect with those who are not in their box that they are not really in, but we and many others are definitely outside of at the same time.

So, my husband and I after praying have come to the conclusion that we are not going to have a ministry in the church, but we feel our Lord leading us to our ministry being the church. We will be connecting with families and couples and individuals who are both in the box and outside of it. We will not be daunted by any barriers either way. Jesus wasn't, so why should we?

I just think of the early Christians who somehow built churches without technology like Facebook and phones, and I am pretty sure that retreats were not common practice either, but what they did do is have personal relationships with God and with other people. What we have been told is pretty much what we felt from the Lord: It helps everyone there to make connections with each other, but only with those who go. I feel it should not take a retreat for people to get personally involved with each other, but if that is what it takes, I am not against it. I am just wondering why it is so necessary...?

~ My Lord, I know I do not see all of my own hypocrisies, but You do. Forgive me. Forgive us all of our hypocrisies. We are all guilty of them. ~

Monday, May 19, 2014

Who is in Charge?

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ~Edmund Burke

Most of my friends are women with which I have a few things in common: different friends, differing things. The one thing I do not have in common with a majority of my friends is my rather strong interest in politics. This is something I have mentioned on my blog before, but I rarely make my politics known here. I am mindful that these things are of the world and my true home is in the Kingdom, so these things will not be of lasting value to me someday in future, however that can be said of nearly all our daily concerns and while I am here on this earth as it is now, I will continue to be politically minded, because what we do here counts not only to those who continue here after we have left, but also to my Lord.

I was talking with one of my not-politically-minded friends about voting in the primaries this month, hoping that she would consider how Common Core in our public schools is a major issue affecting her very own daughter's education and that we have the opportunity to select candidates for the governor (the governors were the push to get 44 states--was 45 but Indiana pulled back out in March--to accept Common Core with the golden carrot of federal grant money), the state school superintendent with several people running (at least half against Common Core in the conservative party), and three school board members in our county.

There is much to research about each candidate because a speech is not a politician in action once he has taken office, but that is why staying involved in our communities and seeing the effects from other points of view of laws, codes, and ordinances passed help us understand for every new rule there is a downside, not all that we think is good is good for all. We should question our leaders, make our concerns known, and protest when necessary to be heard and make others aware.

That brings me to another hotly debated issue in our county: the airport. A group of influential business people want it to become commercial with passenger flights, which we were originally promised it would never be. This airport--only six years old--well, they just cannot leave it be because they changed the name this past year. Now it is named after a 60-mile walking-bike trail running through three counties that was originally a train railway and named after a passenger train--No kidding, an airport named after a trail named after a train. This airport is located between my friend's house, which is near our church about 20 minutes away, and mine. Surrounding it now is forests, farm land, and small subdivisions out away from the cities where people cherish the quiet life...including my friend.

Still, when I discussed these things with my friend, her response was that she does not vote unless it is a big election, like the president of the U.S. (which is not determined by poplar vote anyway), because as she sees it "God is in charge."

It just did not sit well with me, although I told her I understand her viewpoint and I really do, but I have a different viewpoint about how God's being in charge works. I believe absolutely that God can do anything, that is why I get so disappointed when He does not do what I have prayed for, but the flipside is how God does what He does. Most often even the most maraculous miracles have a human element involved, someone who did not just sit back and say God is in charge, but someone who acted on his belief that God is in charge so His works could be done through that very someone. Imagine if Jesus had said God is charge instead of actively working in His ministry or saying God is in charge in place of saying with faith we could command a fig tree to wither and mountains to move as He did in Matthew 21: 21-22. To the blind and lame, did He say "God is in charge" or "be healed?"

Christains use "God is in charge" often when we feel we are not, or that we have no ability to effect change, however I also feel we use it far too often to excuse ourselves from being used by God to make the change. It is true that Jesus did not get politically involved against the Romans or to take an earthly office--How do you top the Son of God after all?--but He certainly changed politics, because He changed people. (Just imagine what kind of endorsement from the Son of God would be!)

We, who live in countries where we have the right to vote for our leaders, should not only do so to honor the freedom other people died and suffered to protect, but to honor our Lord who taught us more than anyone on earth that we can move mountains...when we go out to purposely move mountains. God most definitely is in charge, but the real question: is He in charge of you? That is where He starts.

~ My Lord, we want You to take charge of our world, but we often fail at taking charge of it for You. Help us to choose with Your wisdom when we vote for our leaders and help us to see the importance of voting so that we cannot excuse ourselves from this important duty and precious privilege. ~

Thursday, May 15, 2014


To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner. ~Anne Rice

Over a month has past and I have so much to blog about, so very much, but most of it will not be more than a mere mention because when I am doing so many things about which I could and should write, I rarely have the time or drive to do so. Blogging is an indulgence, not a necessity, but it is still work and I just have not been up to working it in between everything else of late.

My husband applied for the manager position since his manager quit and we prayed and prayed and prayed and had others pray also, but it looks as if he will not be promoted. In part because they have needed at least five more service engineers in the field, and another just quit to for the IT job he has a degree in now, so they cannot possible spare my husband. Also, the interviewer in the UK was surprised asking with all his managerial experience why he had not put in for a manager position before and the answer was that he is doing so now and previously the information about the manager position being available was not even known to the service engineers until they hired the first one from outside the company, the woman who had just quit a few months ago. least now they know my husband is far more qualified to do the jobs that he was looked over for the last two positions they opened up as well as they one open now. Maybe they will keep him in mind for better positions in the future as they have more restructuring plans to implement, even though they have not shared what they might be.

In mid April, my daughter went on the Science Expedition with about 200 other kids. She and my husband, who was chaperoning a group of boys, got up at 3:30 in the morning on Monday to be sure to get there by 5:00 as it is an hour drive in low traffic. I did not see them until Friday night at around 7:30 pm. The Princess had a blast, of course, and only called me once after her father reminded her a few times--the few times he saw her, that is. (That child never really had separation anxiety.) It was a success even though schedules for outdoor activities had to be rearranged due to rain and--believe it or not--another late hard freeze! Spring certainly was full of surprises this year.

The Princess turned thirteen at the end of April. She is now officially the teenager she has been practicing to be of the last year. Her attitude had not improved much after the science expedition, which is also much like a Christian youth camp or retreat. However, she was rather tired for a few days afterward. We were hoping she would want to emulate the attitude of being helpful, friendly, and generally happy that the upper classmen Servant Leaders are trained to be as they were there to be help with the middle school students. However, just this week, we have seen a long and strong glimpse of the child we have always known her to be, so she is still in there, peeking out past the teenage fog now and then, at least that is our continued hope.

We were all to go to a Rush Ministries Christian concert for the first weekend of May along with another family, but I again came down with a stay-in-bed kind of cold-flu type of thing--so odd for me to get them at all, let alone two in the span of a few months apart. Anyway, I was home trying to rest in between coughing while the Princess and my husband enjoyed Jesus Culture, Hillsong and others! They left on Friday evening and returned on Sunday afternoon.

So, I was kind of in a funk about...well, life in general. I decided that because we could not plant earlier in the spring, due to the hard freezes that I would either not really have enough time to work my gardens much this spring with homeschooling, or I could do something I have always wanted to do but never have: I would take off two weeks of formal homeschooling and the Princess would learn about horticulture. When I began homeschooling and planned to do so year around, it was my plan to also take breaks in the fall and spring, besides the long Christmas break we usually take, but I just never did it unless we had to go somewhere or do something away from home. I have enjoyed working outside in the sunshine after being stuck inside due to illness. We discussed the importance of breaking up and enriching Georgia's red clay naturally, how our compost pile of bunny berries with live worms not only make the red clay a dark brown, but add the nutrients for the plants, and how to use diatomaceous earth responsibly to kill off pests while trying not to harm honey bees. She was given the assignment of doing a two-page report on the Dust Bowl and the importance of top soil, which is due tomorrow.

I was feeling pretty good about how much we were accomplishing clearing, transplanting, and seeding in the gardens, until...I saw the little tube of mud going up the foundation on the south side: termites. The Princess told me later on she had seen something on the ceiling in the back corner of the craft room that had "been there for weeks." (We immediately had a little discussion about informing the homeowners, namely her father and I, when she sees something that should not be there like that. I mean really, mud-cicles, as she called them stuck to the ceiling...? And let's not tell Mama for a few weeks...?) I found out these are called drop tubes: yeah, definitely termites. I convinced myself by that time that we would be spending at least $2,500 to get rid of them and repair the damage...maybe even more. I did not sleep that night and had to take several Valerian capsules in the morning to get through our Wednesday with driving the Princess to science class and piano plus do all my shopping calmly. And, I finally got real in that it was a good thing to get rid of the wood eating pests and that the damage was on the south side of the house as that the worse of the siding damage and would be replaced first if we cannot do the entire house at once as we would like to do.

We rushed home Wednesday night because the phone company was coming to check on wires that used to be buried but were exposed due to some erosion and most likely not being buried deep enough to begin with when the house was built. The wires in the front yard were the TV cable wires which mostly were orange but spliced with black apparently so I thought they were the phone wires. The orange cables were not really buried at all, probably just had the sod laid over them because they were cut while mowing several times even once right after we moved here. There was another thicker black wire that was the phone line and that is also our internet exposed in the backyard. We decided the placement of it could be covered over and protected in a flower bed for now, but if we see another area of exposure, we would put in an order to rewire, which will cost us nothing, but every service with a line in the ground (water, electricity, gas) has to come out and mark the yard before they can bury the new phone wire.

Today, Thursday, the termite salesman did the inspection and I braced myself for the fee. It turns out that it was not going to cost us as much as I feared. Although the termites have been there "quite a while" which translates as a few years, the damage they might have done would probably not be worth tearing our basement ceiling apart to find. When we begin the process of replacing the siding, we will take a good look at the area then, but most likely the damage is not threatening to the integrity of the house. So, we will now just pay for the spot treatment and then a yearly fee for the baiting system. Whew! I will now sleep better, even without Valerian.

Why I have not been and might not be blogging much is because this year I am focusing strongly on the house, outside and between homeschooling, of course.

~ My Lord, thank you for the blessings You give us that we cannot see, that are even disappointing at one time, but open us to better ones in the future. Thank you, my Lord, for being my Lord and comforting me through the whirlwinds of this life. ~

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Giving a Friend a Gift

A friend is a gift you give yourself.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

I have a friend who just loved our drinking jars, which we bought nearly fifteen years ago at store. She has been using mason jars without handles, but she liked ours with the handle so much that I have been looking for some for over a year...ever since she asked me where we had gotten ours. That is not to say I did not find any during the past year, but $10 per glass was a bit steep I felt, as much as I love her. So, imagine how elated I was to see a set of four drinking jars on sale for $10 in the Kohl's sales catalog starting this past weekend, plus I had a 20% off coupon; I planned on getting them eight glasses! We were having lunch out with this same family on Sunday after church and then we were going to do some shopping hoping they would take our daughter back to the church with theirs for practice for the Easter program.

Lunch was great and they took off with my daughter so my husband and I were alone, such a rare event. My husband wanted to go to Sam's Club before we went to Kohl's and that is when we saw this cute set that not only had colorful lids with two sets of matching straws, but also burlap sleeves with little sweet like sayings. Seeing that there was an orange one, my friend's absolutely favorite color, we got the set of six for $17 and never made it to Kohl's. Aren't they cute? I wanted to give the glasses to them right away, because I thought that my friend, also being a Sam's Club Member, might see them and buy them before their anniversary which is over a month away. So we gave them, unwrapped, when we picked up our daughter at their house. They really liked them as much as I hoped they would and, of course, my friend claimed the orange one the moment she saw it. Do I know my friend or what?

~ My Lord, thank you for sweet moments like this one when a simple gift can make a friend smile. ~

Friday, March 28, 2014

Prayer Request

Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers. ~J. Sidlow Baxter

I had been praying for certain things for the last few years, asking my Lord to bless us in very specific areas, but nothing seemed to be happening with them. One of these has been my husband's career and then he was not chosen for a promotion when the company created two positions a few months ago that he was pretty much doing in a limited capacity along with his actual job description. The man who originally hired my husband had promised such a position to him once the company created them, but he had moved to another division and his new boss was not a strong manager in that way.

To complicate things, one man, who does some of the scheduling and used to have my husband travel more than others, seems to have felt threaten by my husband, possibly because my husband was more qualified to do the job he had just moved into back when my husband was first hired. There are people who try to make others look bad so they look good and he was one of them. This man complained about my husband so much within the office that the manager was out voted about promoting him. The office is in Chicago and we are in the Atlanta area, so only a few people really have enough contact with my husband to know him and they took this one man's word over the manager, since he is one of them.

There are also people who try to encourage people to strength their weaknesses and use their strengths so that they do their best, which make those people look even better. My husband is one of those people. He is an excellent manager. He says he was born for that job. (He is so cute sometimes.)

Last weekend, my husband decided to try for the management position that has been left open since his manager quit, completely forgetting I suggested it when I heard the news. This would place him over the positions he did not get a few months ago, leaving us both discouraged, and over the man who feels threatened by him, who probably is also trying for the position himself. What the person who will be making the determination does not know is that if that man becomes the manager, three of their best service techs will be leaving including my husband, and they were hired by my husband's referral. They all have been thinking of going back to a former employer that is now desperate for good service techs and will probably pay and treat them better this time around, so they hope anyway. However, my husband has been asking them to wait until the dust settles because changes were being made, this he did before he even thought about going for the manager position.

I got to thinking maybe he did not get the other promotions because God had this planned out for something better and my husband will be the general manager for all the US and Mexico. That would be so like my Lord!

My husband talked to the man who originally hired him and he said he wondered if he was going to go for it. I think my husband would have already had it if this man was still over this division. This man has very good rapport with the man, who would be making the decision for the position, however he is also in the process of going back home to Japan and being replaced. So much is up in the air!

The downside is that we do not wish to move to Chicago where the corporate office is. Actually, my husband could do the job very well from home by phone conferencing and some traveling to the office as well as to visit customers. The general manager of the another division within the company has been doing this from California. Also, most of the customers are in Atlanta so that could be beneficial.

So, I have been asking everyone to pray that my husband not only get the manager position but that we do not have to move as well. May it be done as God wills.

~ Thank you, my Lord, for hearing our prayers. Please let it be as You will above all things. ~

Monday, March 24, 2014

Catching a Breather Here

The world is so dreadfully managed, one hardly knows to whom to complain. ~Ronald Firbank

I hate the time change stuff:
Spring ahead, fall behind.
Spring ahead, fall behind.
Spring ahead, fall behind.
Just pick one and stop this craziness! Daylight saving time? How does it save daylight? I mean, really, what is the point? Most businesses have lights on all day whether it is day or night, so it is not really "saving" anything at all!

Thursday, the Thursday before last actually, after the Princess begged and we were acclimating to the time change, I was determined to get her to the youth praise and worship team practice. I drove 25 minutes west to the Yorkville campus of our church where it should have been. Unfortunately, we were met with construction inside as they were replacing some of the media equipment and lighting. Practice, we were told, was at the other campus. So we drove another 30 minutes east past our home to find only the adult team practicing as the youth one had been cancelled. Then I drove another 15 minutes to get home with at least a quarter tank of gas wasted. Had I been on Facebook.... (No, I am still resisting the whole Facebook/social networking thing. It is not going to happen.) So, my husband talked to the Music Pastor, who explained that due to vacations where the youth were filling in with the adult P&W and the changes they need to make with stage, they have cancelled the youth praise and worship practice until after Easter, but that he will put together a music book so that the Princess can begin learning the songs. We hope to have them over for dinner this week with their first little baby! I just have some cleaning to do....

I received my check from my first consignment sale the Saturday before last; it was over $200! Not bad considering that all those clothes and books were from consigment sales so I sold them for about the same price as I paid for them, although I price on the low side. That $200 paid for books and clothes that I bought so far for the Princess plus some. Considering that I get 70% of the sale price, I did very well and sold about half of the things I put in it. I replaced the tags with ones for the next sale, added all our VHS tapes as this sale does not have a limit on them as the others do, and will be dropping those items off this afternoon. I also signed up for another sale that takes place in the middle of April, but if I do not have enough left over from this one to make it worthwhile, I will simply unregister.

Because I needed to go through our DVD and VHS collection to pull the VHS tapes and sell them, I decided to reorganize that entire bookshelf again. I used to have the movies labeled in categories color coordinated for their age ratings--actually, with my age ratings. However no one, but me, really put the movies back by category except for the children's videos. I also used to have them inventoried but the program being free is now no longer being updated so I looked for something free online and found iTrackMine. Now I know that we have over 300 DVDs and I am getting rid of the duplicates plus some that were just plain horrible choices. This time I bought little color dots instead of making a dot with markers, so we have blue for G, green for PG, yellow for PG-13, and red for R with the children and family videos on the lower shelves and the reds on the top shelf. The Princess helped with dusting each one and placing them in categories, which I did not bother to label this time because what would be the point? These days I am usually the one who puts them back where they belong anyway. Now I need to do something with those music CDs also.

We had to replace the compressor for the air conditioner in our van on Friday. That was about $200 dollars more than we had expected it to be. Quite costly, but I really would not want to go without air conditioning in the van with summer coming...if summer ever does come because we keep getting cold snaps in waves as if we are just being teased with warmer temperatures before the next one; tomorrow night the low is expected to dip into the 20's again!

This past Saturday my husband was required to attend the chaperone meeting at Living Science from 9 to 12. I was to clean at the school this weekend as well, so I choose to clean in the classroom building, which has only two large science classrooms, as the other building would be occupied with the meeting. I wish I had taken the pay $50 option instead of cleaning because the classroom building was not vacant, but filled with high school students in the Servant Leader program. All the Princess and I could really clean was the bathrooms and the foyer around the bookbags and kids, which we did and gave up on the classrooms. Last fall I paid because it is an hour drive for us just to get to the school and then there is about three hours worth of cleaning to be done. I pay half the $50 in gas and then it is half of my day shot when I have plenty of house and yard work to do at home. I would not have even attempted it this time if my husband did not have to be there for that meeting. Being thrifty, I do not like paying the money, but weighing it out I also consider my time to be valuable.

Since we were in the area, I stopped by to give my friend, the Princess' piano teacher, an ozonator to borrow as she had smoke damage in her house again. This is the third time she has smoke damage in about three years. Her first insurance company dropped her after the second one which was just a few months after the first time. She simply started cooking something and forgot about it...all three times. This time she felt she could not report it to her insurance company and was washing everything she could herself with a few friends helping. The ozonator would be able to treat the remaining smoke smells, we are hoping. So after a short visit there, we ate out and then started for home.

That same evening our church was hosting a concert but even if we had remembered, it would have been too much to do in one day. We did enjoy the singing couple for church service yesterday morning.

This week we are focused on the Princesss' science presentation and the expedition. Her father has been working with her on the 3-D model of the habitat for the endangered red wolf. So timely, as he had worked with someone recently who had a passion and experience for building an impressive train model, who gave him some great advice. I gladly have taken a hands-off approach so they could do this project together, but I will be working with her on the presentation itself and possibly help her paint the wolf figurines she got.

We have to get certain items for the expedition also. Mostly the Princess is concerned about finding cheap tennis shoes that she has been told she will need to toss away after the expedition as they will be using them in the river and swamp areas. We are going to look for them today when I go out to make my consignment sale drop off.

Oh, and my husband for the very first time in his life was summoned for jury duty. "We don't have anything going on the week of April 14th, do we?" No, honey....just the science expedition! He jumped on that right away last Monday and his differral has been approved so he will be serving in the middle of May instead.

I am looking forward to five days all to myself in April...well, not completely to myself as there are the furry ones. I have a couple projects in mind to do without concerns about being in the way of anyone else and without any interruptions.

~ My Lord, so much more to do. Let me not waste time on things of little importance to You. ~

Thursday, March 6, 2014

2014 Sping Consignment Sales

If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it. ~Olin Miller

I am again preparing for two spring consignment sales. I enjoy getting the checks from the sales so that it helps pay for my daughter's wardrobe for the coming season. I enjoy shopping consignment sales to get good clothes at very low prices. However, I cannot say that I enjoy this part of the task.

Over the years, my daughter has turned the guest room, the one room in my home that always used to look as if it was ready and just waiting for a visitor to stay there, into her own personal dumping zone and clutter just overwhelms me. I have asked her to keep it organized with all the clothes hung, but her idea of organized and mine differ. It is difficult for me to plow through, organize the items I wish to sell, and tag everything because no matter how I do it, it still has that clutter quality until most of it is dropped off at the sale. This time I choose the earliest drop off on Monday morning.

Even after dropping off what will be allowed in the spring sale, I still have some fall items that will be waiting for half a year, which increase in number and bulk by the fall. just drives me crazy, especially when it is unending as it has become in my guest room. My husband has suggested several times that I could just give away the outgrown clothes and I toy with that thought until I start adding up the potential net pay from the sales.

That thrifty side of me just cannot get past that these sales generally pay for at least half (most of the time more) of the cost of the clothes I will be buying for the Princess and it is getting more difficult to find consignment clothes for her. She is more particular, as expected with this age, as she is exploring her own sense of style and there are fewer modest styles for her size--I am thankful that modesty is still important to her. In addition, we cannot have her try on clothes at most of these sales, which means more of the clothes we do get may not fit her well as her body is morphing from her former willowy shape to one with more curves.

Still, I have to keep working on this task, because I am hoping to not have to mess with it much this weekend so I can spend time with my husband. He is feeling better and hopes to be coming home tomorrow evening. Now that I have written out my goals, perhaps I will be motivated to get it all done by tomorrow afternoon.

~ My Lord, it is difficult to stay motivated to finish preparing for the consignment sales, so I surrender my desire to procrastinate finishing this task to You. ~

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Career Concerns

[I wish you] health enough to make work a pleasure. Wealth enough to support your needs. Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them. Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them. Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished. Charity enough to see some good in your neighbour. Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others. Faith enough to make real the things of God. Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.
~Johann von Goethe

I tend to get anxious about the future, especially with sudden unexpected changes that could have a bad effect on it. One income families, such as ours, are so reliant on that one job that any change ripples into our family carrying a potential dread.

My husband's manager handed in her resignation in February, taking a lesser position job in another company. She stated she wanted to spend more time with her family, but my husband felt there was more to it than just that. He could hear her frustration over the last few months with trying to affect change and none being made. One thing she did disclose on her last day was that she had suggested promoting my husband to a couple of positions, but she was met with excuses like he is too valuable where he is or he is too moody—the latter happens when he gets overworked while others (are these not so valuable?) get to stay home and maybe answer phones or wait for a machine to break.

I had am empathic feeling when two other inexperienced men were promoted some weeks ago that his manager was unhappy. She also did say that she had hoped to surround herself with people who were willing to help her make the changes she wanted work, but that her choices were met with rejection. When she confronted one man about his attitude with customers and employees, she was told to back off instead of helping him to improve.

It must have been terribly frustrating for her, so I am hoping she finds what she needs in her next job.

So, while we are praying about his company finding the next manager, my husband continues to deal with his own frustrations. He was told that he is the only field service engineer that the customers request, which may be contributing factor as to why he is sent out more than most. Now, I am not particularly business savvy, but it seems to me that if I had an employee with such a good reputation with my customers and had such high technical skills, that I would like to clone him. I would create a position so that he trains others in the field to not only have better hands on training as to how to fix the machines but also know how to talk to customers so that they are pleased with the service for which they are paying. My company would then have the best of employees to share the workload rather than burning out a few while others are doing little.

It seems practical to me, but that is probably because I did not go to a business college to learn the most impractical ways to run a business. We have seen the same scenarios played out over many years. If not related to someone high up in the company, those who make the biggest fuss or already live close to the home office are the ones who get promoted, even if they are not the best fit for the position and it rarely works out well.

Anyway, God has a purpose and timing for all things, so for now I am just surrendering my husband's career into His hands. He does what seems impossible so very well.

~ My Lord, I surrender my husband's career to You. I am thankful he is employed and paid well. I would like to see him get recognition for his work so that it honors You, so that people see a difference in him because he calls himself Christian, because You are in his heart, and because You are his Master. ~

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pieces of My Heart

God can heal a broken heart, but He has to have all the pieces. ~Unknown

One of my dearest friends and I had a phone conversation on Sunday. She was very depressed and as she voiced her fears, I was thinking that I would have said much the same this past year. You see, she is alone, divorced decades ago and has been alone ever since. Both her parents have passed on and even her ex-husband who also never married after the divorce. She was an only child, was unable to have children, and it seems that relationships with her cousins are dysfunctional. Being in her sixties, she is having increasing health issues and when she is sick or in more pain she feels unloved and gets depressed.

As I listened to her voice her fears, I heard the echoes of how I had felt most of last year. The only family members who talk to me is my aunt and uncle, even though I have two sisters and a brother and four cousins. My husband was traveling for work more than he was home and my daughter was going teenager on me. I was not feeling well overall and felt my health was beginning to fail me.

Trying to help my friend through my own experience, I reminded her of something I had shared a few weeks ago that my Lord recently asked me if there was just one thing that I would asked to be healed that He would promise to heal it what would it be and I had answered my heart, which I mentioned in The Fast is Working. She then asked me how that was going for me and I replied that it was a process, but her question stuck with me and I really began probing my thoughts and feelings about it.

I was very much feeling like my friend for most of last year, so here I was sympathizing with her but also rejoicing because I could so clearly see the contrast of where I was and where I am now. I am not depressed as I was nor as unhappy with life nor as fearful of my Lord. Now when I hear my Lord tell me that He loves me, I do not try to run from it or deflect it with feelings of unworthiness as I probably have all of my life. Now I simply say, "I love you too" and smile at myself because it makes me happy that He loves me instead of sad because I do not deserve it. He loves me. It is like a mother naturally loves her baby even though the baby has done nothing to deserve it but to exist. God just loves me. (Smiling here.) Oh, and if He loves me, He loves you too. He just loves you. He is telling you that every day. (Are you smiling?)

My heart is healing, or perhaps has been healed, and the other physical things I had been praying that He would heal are also being healed, because God is not stingy about blessings. I thought I was being receptive, but actually I was only being receptive if God did it the way I thought I wanted it. I have seen so many, so very many, people do this and wondered why they just could not let go and let God do it His way. It is so easy to see it in the lives of others and even easier to be blinded to it in your own, it seems.

It is a work in progress, not God's healing of my heart, but my recognition of His healing. The best way to heal one's heart is to surrender it to the Lord...all of one's heart...every single little piece.

~ Thank you, my Lord, for healing my heart. ~

Monday, March 3, 2014

She Did It Again!

The pianokeys are black and white but they sound like a million colors in your mind.
~Maria Cristina Mena, The Collected Stories of Maria Cristina Mena

The Princess was judged on Saturday after practicing two piano pieces for months, actually we had to change one a several weeks ago because of her hands were not quite able to make the stretch in a couple of places on the one she had chosen. She was disappointed in herself as she still was weak on dynamic variations on the first piece and had something that the judge called a "memory slip," but as typical of her, she recovered well, which the judge told her that she saw as a positive.

We went out for lunch at Outback afterwards to celebrate, since her father was not home this weekend, but she was not in a celebrating mood until I asked her how she did on the second piece, which she felt she nailed perfectly. I then reminded her that the scoring is weighted for different things and each piece is judged separately, then the scores of both pieces are combined. That is when she brightened up a bit and said that maybe then she would score well enough to get the five points she hoped to get.

She also told me that the judge told her that she was really good at piano and, with a smile, that she should never quit because if she did that she would have her piano teacher call her so she could come "get her." I thought this was something she told all the students that day, but on Sunday when I talked to her piano teacher, I found out that this compliment was solely given to my daughter, who was the eighth of the nine students judged.

It is nice to know as we approach the our nine year anniversary of her first piano lesson this May that it is worth all the time and money. However, it is not just that she plays well, it is that she performs so very well and that is a gift that God must have given her from the beginning.

Yes, the child scored 95 percent overall, which is a "superior" and she earned five points toward her next trophy. A trophy is given at 15 point intervals and the most a student can earn is five points for the year so it takes at least three years to get a trophy and the Princess wants one every three years.

As to my husband not being home this weekend to celebrate with us, he was stuck in Indiana with the same cold/flu I had over two weeks ago, so he did not feel like flying back home for the weekend at all. I know it is the same thing because it starts with sneezing and the sinus are draining constantly, but the headache is horrible and your strength is zapped yet you cannot sleep but a few minutes to maybe two hours at a time and then you are awake for hours before you can nap again, which is the most annoying part of the thing. My husband is exposed to so many more people than I am, but still he usually gets a cold only about once in two to three years. When he gets one, though, he really gets it. Today he felt well enough to go to work in the afternoon when the customer opened, as they had a very bad snow storm and stayed closed this morning. I am hoping he will be finished and well enough to come home before Friday, but as things go....

~ My Lord, thank you for the gift You have given my daughter. May she use it to honor You always.~

Monday, February 24, 2014

Finally Normal, er Well....

Illness is the most heeded of doctors: to goodness and wisdom we only make promises; pain we obey. ~Marcel Proust

I am taking this back-to-good-health thing one slice at a time!

This morning is the first morning I have felt normal as I ever feel, that is. Although I was on the mend, I still had energy issues as the infected gland drained all week, but it seems that yesterday was the last of it. I finally can stand, walk, and sit up in a regular chair without any pain—well, you just do not really appreciate a simple thing as sitting until it is too painful to do for two weeks.

Today will be the first normal day I have had in nearly three normal as any of my days are. The Princess and I will be doing our homeschool lessons in full swing, much to her displeasure. While I was laying around (literally), on most week days she did do the very basics: the three R's: reading, writing, and arithmetic—algebra actually. (The girl actually sometimes admits she likes algebra and she gets the concepts easily even straight from the textbook without me, as I knew she would.)

This week may be the first normal week I have had...again as normal as any of my weeks are. My husband, who has thankfully been working locally for the past couple of months is away this week until Friday, so he says, so I am doing all the chores he normally does plus trying to get back into doing my own.

I have much to catch up on, like my blog—so much to share—and homeschool records to which I look forward to doing with almost as much enthusiasm as my daughter has doing the lessons. I also need to restructure the language arts and history portions of my plan for the rest of the year. Then there is the upcoming consignment sales just two weeks away—the child has grown into the woman-child stage and not many jeans are fitting her now. So many normal things to do...and I am thankful that I can do them.

~ My Lord, thank you for Your timing. That my husband was home to take care of the things I could not and that my daughter was so helpful when I needed their help. You and I both knew I needed a break mentally, but I would not take one had I not had this painful condition developed and had taken away my ability to keep pushing. I praise You even in my illness; help me remember to praise more You when I am well. ~

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Another Winter Storm with Ice and More

The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain.
 ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As we recovered from the last winter storm fiasco with our governor making future promises and appointing someone to manage storm threats, I came down with a flu. I rarely get sick with a cold/flu, but I definitely was feeling horrible on Tuesday, two weeks ago. I tend to have low days now and then, but an all out flu is something I rarely get. After I set aside denial, I called my husband asking him if he could take the Princess to her last piano lesson the following day as it was before the judging on that following Saturday.

As things turned out, I ended up taking her after all...mostly because of my stubbornness and my unforgiving mood about how it seemed to inconvenience others. As I said, I rarely get really sick, so when I am and my husband is working from home and our daughter has a deadline, I have this expectation that my family will take into consideration that I am SICK, so all the stuff that Mama usually does is going to have to be done by others. Actually, my husband had worked it out to take her, but by that time I was too angry to stay at home in bed as I should have done.

I did take the Princess to her school and piano lesson, but I did not have the energy to go grocery shopping and I thought that it would be fine since I would be coming into town for the piano judging on Saturday and could shop then. When I dropped the child off at her piano lesson, her teacher told us that the judging was rescheduled to a month later because the church she rented for it was having renovations done. Weeks ago, she had been concerned about how unprepared nearly all her students were for the judging, even the Princess who had just pulled it together the previous week, but that was the only available slot for the church. Now she had the extra four weeks she felt nearly everyone needed, except for the Princess and one other girl, and more students could participate because it would not be conflicting with school sports. The church had called to inform her of the problem and offered her another day that was not available previously just one hour before we arrived. I was happy that the Lord had worked it out for her, but all I could think of was I wished we all had known before I had left that morning for I would not have tried making the trip at all.

When we got home, I prepared for bed and stayed there for two days.

Since there was no judging, I did not go grocery shopping on Saturday. We are well stocked with a full pantry and two freezers, but my husband was able to get fresh organic greens, eggs, and fruits locally.

I recovered and made it to church on Sunday, where everyone was abuzz with the news that another winter storm was coming on Tuesday night (last week), but this one would likely be an ice storm starting with rain that freezes. This would mean downed trees and power outages. The schools did not take any chances this time; they were closed on Tuesday. For us, science class and piano was cancelled again. The governor declared a state of emergency before there was one. The schools here were closed the rest of the week, but power outages did not affect us, mostly because there little wind here with the storm, thankfully.

By Monday, I realized I was having my own state of emergency: an infected gland in tender place. I had this once before about thirty years ago when I had no health insurance, so I dealt with it then the old fashion home remedy way with hot sitz baths or compresses. I had to make a decision about seeing a doctor on Tuesday because it would be highly unlikely it would be possible after the ice storm hit. My husband was home and had made as many preparations for the storm as he could, so I chose to home treat, but this infection grew to be more stubborn and worse than the first one. I was feverish for most of the week and too sore to sit and praying not to have to have it lanced. Thursday night my fever broke and Friday morning it finally began draining.

Sitting upright on a chair is not comfortable yet, but my husband is leaving and I have errands to do tomorrow, as usual. During most of my illnesses the Princess had time off from lessons and is as reluctant to get back to our regular schedule as I am to sit in a chair, but at least the latter will pass.

~ My Lord, thank you for hearing my prayer for healing. May all go well tomorrow with errands, science and piano. And, thank you for reminding me how precious a thing good health is and let me not waste it. ~