Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Done

Which Christmas is the most vivid to me? It's always the next Christmas. ~Joanne Woodward

It was not the kind of Christmas I would typically enjoy writing about; it was bittersweet and simple. However, I was given the three things I wanted most: a bigger camera bag, a thermal mug that keeps things hot or cold for hours, and a Silhouette cutting machine.

Last year my husband bought me a new camera that is so much faster and higher end than the one I had that I actually can get the facial expressions I was going for rather than the blurry one than comes two seconds later. I did not use the new camera much because it was a bit more complicated and...well, I had been having years of disappointing pictures with a child who increasing was becoming camera shy. It just soured me about taking pictures, so last year when I received this camera and had not asked for one, I guess I just was not in the mood to fully appreciate it. I did buy a tripod with my gift money from my husband's mother as the one I had was not good anymore, but I still just did not use it much. Then I began trying to take some pictures, especially when we went to north Georgia this past fall and all I could think of was why had I not been using this little gem so much more! I had to get used to switching lens and my camera case just was not accommodating for everything, so that went on my list for this Christmas. I am loving my camera now!

My husband asked for a thermal mug a few Christmases ago. We picked up one at a store hoping it was a good one—it was priced like it should have been. It kept his tea hot for hours as he wanted...probably not as many hours as the one he gave to our daughter and me, but it has served him well. After I had a drink from his a few hours after he had been carrying it around, I was amazed how hot it still was and I might have mentioned that I wanted one then...wink, wink.

The Silhouette cutting machine was something I told my daughter about in the last few weeks and I thought would not happen. My husband was away from home the last four weeks. I had looked at these machines before and with the renovations we are going to be making in nearly every room in our house this coming year, I thought I would find a number of uses for it. The Princess is eyeing some ideas for her room as well. I did not get any materials for cutting, but that is fine. I would rather choose the materials for myself and my husband's mother was quite generous with her money gift this year so...I am really looking forward to placing lovely words on a few walls here and there, amongst other things.

My husband's big gift was a gun safe. It has been delivered and is in waiting in our garage to be moved into its special spot in what will become my husband's man cave/office room (presently our arts and craft room). My husband pulled off the wallpaper and I finished that corner of the room as it should have been done the first time by the first owners. My husband said that the walls and ceiling where the safe will go looks so beautiful that he hates to cover it, but eventually that entire room will look that good.

He also asked for Christian T-shirts as his old ones were quite worn looking. I found a company that had Kerusso shirts for half price with free shipping for orders over $60, so my husband now has eight new Christian T-shirts.

The Princess had been given a new point and shoot camera before the science retreat as part of her Christmas gifts. She got lots of stuff that she loves being that she is fully a teenager: temporary hair coloring sprays in several colors, leg warmers, leggings, lightly colored lip gloss (the only makeup she is allowed to have presently), over the ear headphones and adapters so she can use them with her tech as well as the digital piano and keyboard. She also loves her thermal mug and when she opened it she mistook it for mine that I had not yet opened because the colors were so close especially in the lower light: hers is red and mine is plum. Realizing what she had unintentionally given away what I was getting, I laughed it off saying with saying that Dad must have been really good at fooling her by having her help him wrap her own present and having her think it was for me.

We also bought tickets to the Creation Museum at half price and will be going sometime this coming year, probably in the late spring or early summer on our way to visit with my aunt and uncle in Ohio.

We had Christmas dinner and then rested. At around 6:00, we got ready to go to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens at an IMAX theater in 3D. It was so worth it! No spoilers here. When we got home it was after 11:00.

That was the good.

There was also the bad.

My husband's back went out on Saturday night, Dec 18th, when he was bending over to get a light bulb to replace one that went out. You have to understand that my husband has a very physical job and lifts very heavy stuff all the time, but over the years we have determined that the only time his back goes out is when he has been under a lot of stress and he is doing a mundane task. For instance, about fifteen years ago, he was working for a manger that kept pressuring him, making him feel unappreciated and it turned to making him quite resentful; I came home to find him crawling on the floor after he had bent over to pick up an envelop he dropped at the mailbox. Yeah, we laugh at it now, but at the time.... So this time it was stress from our situation with the Princess for the past few months and the last month being under a great deal of pressure at an account to install a machine when the room for its installation was not properly prepared by the customer. His back was primed just for the right moment to kink and so it did. I prayed over him and it went back in place, confirmed by the chiropractor, however the muscle soreness has been more stubborn and I think that is because he is supposed to rest this holiday...we all are, I think.

On the evening of December 16, our pastor's 16 year old son died from a head-on car collision when his car went over the middle line for reasons unknown, but the curve is sharp and it is a dark area of that two lane highway. We have not been to the church because of my husband's back. The play was postponed and will probably be revised since it will be after Christmas now. I honestly do not know the pastor's family that well. All pastors are busy people, but I will say that he has a good support team or circle of close friends. We did not attend the viewing or the funeral on Monday, but we prayed. You may remember one of my very first posts about Valerie; it is very hard for me as an empath to not sink into the stormy sea of people's darkest emotions, particularly with the death of a child. With everything that we have been going through with her, I am thankful to have my child, but since I lost my own brother when we both were still in elementary school, I have always had a keen sense of how fragile life can be and how precious it is. This was just one more thing to tug me down that emotional abyss out from which I keep trying to climb. We all agreed to keep a distance and allow the family to have one less family with which they would have to interact.

The Princess' piano teacher decided that her old dog was not healing well from an injury and could not take the medicines that would help him because of his other health issues, so she put him down about two weeks ago. She is a dear friend, who has been living alone for many years and I feel so bad for her.

Lastly, I really missed my Jamie cat this Christmas. He always right in the way in one way or another while we were unwrapping presents for nearly two decades.

Although, not necessarily bad, it has been unseasonably warm, as in the 70's on Christmas. No fire in the fireplace, hot chocolate just does not have that warming of the old bones feeling, air conditioner uncovered and running to reduce the humidity in the house because of all the rain, and even all my sweaters are still packed away! It just kind of messes with the whole ambiance of the season for us.

Ending on a good note....
One of the Princess' science projects was to be making a "Rube," that is short for a Rube Goldberg device, which is a contraption, invention, device or apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task in a complicated fashion, generally including a chain reaction. Instantly, my husband and I thought of Doc Brown's dog food machine in the first scene of Back to the Future. My daughter had not seen the Back to the Future movies and it just so happens they released a 30th anniversary blu-ray edition. 30 years?!  I remember when that movie came out the very best of media was LaserDisc (before CDs) and I viewed a portion of that movie on it, but today with blu-ray is even better than that. We watched the first one last night and I have to say that one has to love digitally remastered and big widescreens with surround sound! Wow!

My Lord, thank you for another Christmas with my family together, safe and happy. Your Son was our best Christmas gift of all, still every year we are together, I am very thankful.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Without My Twinkle Lights

No matter how carefully you stored the lights last year, they will be snarled again this Christmas. ~Robert Kirby

Christmas is just around the corner. How is that for stating the obvious? My home is not ready for it, and when I write that, I mean this is not going to be our traditional Christmas, not at all.

Usually I have baked cookies so that we could have them while we decorate the Christmas tree. This year, I have not baked any cookies, but the Princess said she plans to make Snowballs—the when is a bit vague.

We have a Christmas tree and we did get lights on it after it sat without anything on it for about a two weeks. We finally gave up and did not put on the random sparkle or twinkle lights I love because two of our programmed strings bit the dust and we could not find any replacements. Well, that is I could not find any of those programmed strings until after we already put the lights on. I was actually talking on my phone to my friend Birbitt, for whom I wrote out the Snowball recipe, when I found them!

I did get wall repaired, which as I stated in a previous post, turnout out to be more work than I anticipated because of the termite damage; not quite enough to need to tear out and replace the plaster board, but just enough to to keep missing a little place here and there. I finally got the window and wall painted and the drapes up where we place the tree, but we still do not even have the skirt and our Nativity scene out yet. I finished the patching work on the other living room window yesterday and will be painting it today. The drapes should go up tomorrow and then I have lots of vacuuming and dusting to do to clean up the living room.

We have not put out Christmas wreaths on every front window or even the one my husband made together our first year here on our front door. We worked so hard to finish painting the porch before it got cold and I had envisioned it all decorated for Christmas in the most beautiful fashion, but we only set up our large Nativity set in the front yard.

The Princess did the artwork for the Christmas cards. My husband formatted them and printed them out. Today the Princess with address the envelops and we will send them out tomorrow, hopefully.

It makes me sad as I write and think of all the things we usually do and have not done. I like Christmas to be full of good memories, but this Christmas is just off for all of us. From May we have been focused on the house with the renovations. Since the beginning of September, the Princess has been through some challenges. During all of this my husband has been away so much of the time and I feel like I am still stuck in an emotional abyss and when I am out it feels like I am teetering on its edge.

It has been a very strange and strained for the past six months. So much of my world has been turn sideways and nothing much is as it was. I guess it should be no surprise that our Christmas this year is a reflection of all that. It almost feels like the Grinch came in and stole all the decorations. I mean, I could not even have my twinkle lights this year! Yet, all the Whos still sang to welcome Christmas and that is what I hope we will be doing also.

My Lord, help me to remember that there is more to creating good Christmas memories than having my house decorated the way I would for it to be.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Upgrade

It is only when they go wrong that machines remind you how powerful they are. ~Clive James

Nothing could put the fear of technology in me as much as the loss of it. Besides a power outage, there are two things that will cause that loss: a highly damaging virus and an operating system or bios upgrade. I have done both kinds of upgrades over the years with as much dread as anticipation.

The best case: everything goes smoothly and there are absolutely no problems...period. Life goes on and I just have to learn my way around with the new changes.

The worse case: everything crashes. My life is then completely focused on what I cannot do with my computer and finding what I need to do to fix it for however long that takes. I know how bad that worse case can go. Once, about 25 years, ago my husband locked up the computer so badly, we could not get it to do anything, even in DOS; I put the DOS manual in front of me that afternoon and got it to something more than he had so that he could fix it, because the rest was beyond me at the time. (If DOS loses you, then you either are younger than I am or you have always had other people fix your computer...or both.)

My husband has taken courses on operating systems and networking and more. I did not, but I have taken computers apart and put them back together. I have fixed computer infected with viruses, especially when he was working and did not have the time to devote to it. I also learned on my own how to create websites from the backside, meaning I learned the codes you do not see that makes the website work as they do before there was WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). Just think of it as the DOS of Internet...if you can.

When I talk to friends of mine, who are about 20 years or so younger than I—yes, I actually have quite a few—they often talk about the things they did in school with a computer. I laugh, because when I was in school computers were something that only NASA and a few large companies had. The closest thing to a personal computer was a pocket sized calculator and a few electronic learning toys like a Speak & Spell and Little Professor for learning math.

Microsoft Windows has changed so much since we bought our first computer in 1995. It is difficult to believe that it was only 20 years ago! Just two decades and we went from a clunky Minecraft presentation, slow operation, and counting the kilobytes to the beautiful blending of digital graphics, sleek operations, and counting how many gigabytes are in a terabyte.

Yesterday I broke one of my personal rules: never upgrade to the newest Windows version until it has been out for at least a year so that all the serious kinks have been ironed out. In my defense, we had already upgraded my daughter's laptop computer and it was running great but then hers has a touch screen and mine does not, for which Windows 10 was made but it is certainly better than Windows 8 was. Anyway, I while I was running errands, I let my computer do some running on its own. It downloaded the free Windows 10 and when I got home I accepted the terms for the installation and then took my daughter and her friend to the Christmas party for the youth at church.

When I came home, there was my new Windows 10 computer, up and running. All my setting are still there, including the backgrounds on my desktop screen! All is well...so far. The only thing I have noticed with both computers since the upgrade is that when I switch to the touch pad to move the cursor there is a lag of a second or two that was not there before. It is annoying, but actually that is fixable in the settings, I just found out so all is good. Very, very good!

Thank you, my Lord, for technology. We really do not know how much we use it until we do not have it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Rise Up to Fall Back Down, Down, Down

Chaperons don't enforce morality; they force immorality to be discreet. ~Judith Martin

Remember the abyss I was talking about in my last post? Well, last night the Princess decided it was time to have a talk with both her parents together....

As she spoke, I lost my foothold and fell back down to the place from which I had started.

It is not so much that she was confessing to us that for the last two weeks she had again circumvented our rules, it is not knowing how to proceed. On one hand she came to us before we found out on our own, which would have happened eventually. So, we want her to understand that was the better thing to do (with the best thing being not to have done it at all), but we appreciate her coming to us.

On the other hand, she carried on a secret conversation for two weeks purposely knowing that she was breaking our rule...again! The Internet just provides way too many opportunities to socialize. I have the child completely locked down, but she still has access to her Google account, as do I and I see everything. However, I just did not think to be watching in her Google documents. Apparently, if the document is created to be shared, those who have access can make comments on the document. This worked well when she was collaborating with a science project/report, but...well, kids are resourceful and she was having a conversation that I could not read because they both were deleting them as they went.

Let me put this on hold for a moment and evaluate the other part that is digging into me...and I mean that quite literally because I usually do not get increasingly nagging back pains unless I have a nagging emotional issue. Last night, I think I figured it out.

  • The school did not inform us about the Princess not handing in but half her work since school began. 
  • At the retreat, no one informed my husband about the Princess going out early in the morning to meet with a boy who had a crush on her.
  • The leaders of the play did not inform us about the Princess breaking their rules until the time that they were taking the leading role from her.

In every instance, we were apart from our child and left her in the care of people we thought we could trust and with that was the expectation—a very reasonable expectation!—that they would enforce their own rules and they would inform us, her parents, if the Princess had broken any. With the play, there was at least enforcement, but we now know that she lost her role because it was a repeated offense...and yet we, her parents, were not told about any of them until they called a meeting to remove her.

On one hand, I have a teenager doing things I think is actually pretty typical of teenagers: making poor choices and breaking a few rules, nothing terribly major, but that need to be addressed. On the other hand, I have people left in charge of her for specific and limited events that act with disregard of us as her parents, which does not allow us the opportunity to guide and correct the child's course.

Now, back to that thought: Just as I was beginning to relax and think that everything is stabilizing, I find that my daughter has been sneaking around me, so I am back to feeling I cannot trust her...and this feeling is compounded by the facts that my husband is away more than home AND the people I trusted with my daughter are not informing me of things I should know as her mother.

My husband and I both are just on the edge of not going to any church for awhile and probably the only reason we have stuck with this one was because our neighbors went there and the play. Our neighbors' daughter is still in the play but they left the church and are back in their old one. Everything with the play ends this week and I just am not sure what we will do after that.

My Lord, please show me where to plant my feet, every little step I need to make.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Tough Read for My Creative-Sensitive Mind

Thoughts are like an open ocean, they can either move you forward within its waves, or sink you under deep into its abyss.
~Anthony Liccione

I started a book called Strong-willed Child or Dreamer? that was given to me by a friend. She is the mother of my daughter's bestest friend that she met last year in her science class. The mother has given this book to many parents because it changed her perspective so much about her own daughter and how she thinks: She knew her child was not strong-willed, she is too selfless of a peacemaker to fit in that category.

After reading just two chapters, I had to step away for a little while for a couple of reasons. One, I am still working through my remaining feelings from all that transpired since the beginning of September. We went from the Princess' deepening funk to finding out she was not turning but half her schoolwork to a boy with a crush on her to the high school retreat to losing the lead role in the play to leaving the school to my husband being away from home for four weeks all with the holidays creeping in. I am thankful that the Princess is now a pretty normal teenager with the up and down moods that go with it, but at least there are the up ones and laughter now. I, on the other hand, have been walking on the edge of the emotional abyss and I slipped down into it a little ways so I am trying to climb out, but also I keep losing footholds and progress is hampered.

So, as I began reading the book weeks ago, the introduction of the workings inside the creative-sensitive mind, I am meeting myself in every page and I began slipping down again. It is not like I do not know who I am and how I think. I have known me for a very long time. I think what began hurting is that even though I know who I am, how I think, and what I need, being well aware of the all three does not ensure the third one: what I need.

What I need I have pushed aside for many good reasons, like homeschooling my daughter is my highest priority in this season my my life. That is a good one, right? Half of the inside my house is in a needs-renovation state because of damage to the walls from the window replacements so that has a priority. Another good one, right? The Princess needs more space and organization so she explore and refine her creative talents. That one is important for creative-sensitive minds...but that is the one that gives me a pinch.

Just two chapters in and instead of being thrilled to better understand myself or my child, I only feel confirmation of what I already knew about both of us. But, worse, I realize more keenly than before that I have been denying myself what I would never want to deny my own daughter. How many years has it been? There have been moments, but most of my life I have pushed back, pushed aside, and even given completely up the very things I am trying to make sure my daughter has, what I did not and still do not allow myself to have. I am every bit of the creative dreamer that she is. I am not jealous...well, maybe I am, not of her but of the encouraging mother she has—twisted as it sounds. I am jealous of myself for being the mother I wish I had, but I am also jealous that I do not allow myself the creative time that I allow for my daughter.

I just have not been able to continue the book without a loosing a foothold. The book is very good, but I may have to take it in by small bits. I believe my Lord placed it in my hands to help me understand what I have done to myself, what has become a habit for me for many years. The book was not so much for me to better understand my daughter, although I am sure I will glean some good from it, and it was not so much for me to better understand myself, I know me, but to better understand how I deny my own desires to use the gifts He created in me for His pleasure, as well as my own. If I take pleasure seeing my daughter use her creative gifts, certainly I have been denying my Lord that pleasure.

My Lord has made it clear to me that I need to go through this, to come to terms with it. I do not want these underlying feelings to taint the relationship I have with my daughter nor our creative workings. I want us to enjoy creating together and apart from each other as well. We have different styles, but we can appreciate the differences and learn from each other because of them.

There is one other thing I wonder: If I am the mother I wish I had, does that also get twisted around that my daughter is the daughter I wish I had been able to be? I catch my thoughts going that way sometimes. I was given a vision mentioned in Just One Year Ago that suggested that when my daughter was just a year old. I feel I also must be very careful not to place such an expectation on her.

My Lord, lead me on this walk. Let me place my feet only on the solid places You show me so I no longer slip down on my way up and out.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Coloring in the Lines

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. ~Pablo Picasso, quoted in Time, October 1976

While we were out shopping, my daughter and I found a couple of those adult stress-relieving coloring books. I used to love coloring with crayons and colored pencils when I was young. In fact, one of my fondest memories of my mother is lying on the floor next to me with our feet up as she colored beside me. I believe it was from her that I learned a technique to inline the outline slightly darker than the area I was coloring; it gave it a 3D quality. Also coloring lightly with one color then coloring lightly with another color added more interest and could add to the 3D quality.

I was always a stickler for colors being natural until I was a young adult and was messing around with a quilt like pattern I made up filling it in with markers of bright, bold colors. I made several of these patterned pieces, leaving each with an unfinished look on purpose, just to see how different it could look with the same colors in different places in the pattern. It was interesting to see how the eye blended the colors and the mind filled in the unfinished pattern.

Since then I have been in love with bright colors, but my style of art, that is what I like to draw which is mostly faces, is on the realistic side. Also, although I like color in different mediums, my favorite mediums tend to be pencil and stippling with ink. Things change though....

Then came face painting with bold colors on a 3D (and often moving) canvas. I found my own style there with bright colors and I love it, but not everyone wants my art on their face; most children, particularly boys, want some superhero.

So, when we saw these coloring books, I thought it would be good for both my daughter and me. The Princess is more of a black and white cartoonist, who uses a bit of shading but she really never enjoyed coloring. In fact, it is surprising to me how good of an artist she can be even though filling in with color is still not her strong suit. Even so, she wanted these fancy coloring books and I hoped it would help her with techniques in coloring.

I was supposed to being driving her to a piano lesson today, but the alternator on Dragon Heart, my van, had been dying a slow death until today when it completely died and could not charge her battery anymore, so she was in the shop getting a replacement. I had a number of other things I could have done, should have done, but we decided to color. The Princess did three to my one, but I wanted her to see what one can do in blending colored pencils so I did this....

Thank you, my Lord, for a day of just coloring with my daughter. I hope it created a good memory for her.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Wolves Dressed as Sheep

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. ~John 10:27

When my husband has the opportunity, like being a chaperon to boys on the recent school retreat, he often teaches on the analogy of sheep, sheepdogs, wolves, and shepherds. He told me that he sees me as a sheepdog, one who tries to hide among the sheep yet when necessary puts herself in harms way to protect the sheep from the wolves. I have this very strong driving desire to stop any harm or injustice or just of people being taken advantage. I want to break its cycle or at least make it known so the unsuspecting have the chance to be aware. Once I have become aware of such wrongs I just cannot allow them to continue to hurt more people. I suppose it comes partially from being abused as a child that I will step into things even when not wanted or asked to protect the ones who need it.

I like the idea of the sheepdog, but I do not always like being one, hence the reason that unlike other sheepdogs, who stay separate but close to watch the flock and herd them, I tend to stay even closer to herd, in it on the edges, hiding among their woolly bodies. Sometimes I think I would rather be just one of the sheep, but I never really believe that I am anything other than a sheepdog.

Being hidden by the herd, I have come unintentionally face-to-face with many a wolf also hiding in with the sheep, those that have placed wool over their coats fooling the sheep, even the sheepdogs sometimes. Some of these wolves slipped in to cause all out havoc; they know they are wolves and they are proud of their stealth. However, some of those wolves have been among the herd for so long they have become comfortable, almost losing their identities, seemingly wanting to live in peace among the sheep, even though they are still wolves. Those wolves are the ones who do not attack the sheep in a herd but lead the weaker willed away from the herd.

After asking my Lord "why?" for weeks with all that has happen with the Princess, my Lord turned it back around and asked me why I had not used the gifts He had given me.

He kept reminding me that I was given gifts to be used, that they were not given for me to try to not use. I have not like being dependent on them or for others to be dependent on me because of them nor for others to avoid me because of them, but God wants them to be used. 

He also was reminding me that our struggle is not against flesh and bone, but spiritual forces. I know this is true, but when it comes to spiritual warfare, I really much rather be an ignorant sheep. Apparently, though, my Lord wants me to be the sheepdog that I am.

So, I used the gift. As an empath, I can know many things about a person, but while some things are so obvious to me that I just know them without any effort (and often without wanting to), other things are more hidden in deeper places, masked. What still amazes me is I even can know whether or not a person has given their life to Christ.

My internal struggle with this gift has been that I do not always want to know the things I can know about people. For as many years as I have had this gift, I have struggle with it. I have kept it hidden, yet not really because I have this strong desire to help people. I have openly used it, but not really because I fear it. It just seemed safer to hide in with the sheep, but I am a sheepdog and it is obvious to me now that I never have pretended to be a sheep. I feel that my Lord is guiding me to come to terms with this once and for all, because now it is my daughter who being lead away by the wolves appearing to be sheep or even sheepdogs.

Although I forgave all, I had still been perplexed by the letter I received mentioned in the last few paragraphs of Why seekingmyLord? Something was not settled in my spirit. As I was talking to my Lord this and He asked me if I had discerned if the sender was a Christian. I realized I had not.

In the letter sent to me, it was stated that I had made assumptions...and my Lord pointed out that I had. I had assumed the woman was a Christian and now I know she is not. Outwardly, she does everything a Christian would do and she hides among the sheep very well, but I was just not willing to see that the letter revealed what was in her heart—actually what was lacking in her heart. I would have known this weeks ago, if I only had used my gift and if I had known then, things would have been handled differently from my side. Instead of treating everything as one believer to another both connected to God and seeking His guidance, I would have treated it as it was one believer to an unbeliever.

Actually, there were two wolves among the sheep in my daughter's life: one at the school and one at our church. I expected the latter because we welcome the unsaved and it was a teenager, but the other one was a teacher at the Christian Home Study Center and my daughter's chaperon on the retreat, a wolf with authority not just over my daughter but others, as a shepherd would give a sheepdog authority to protect his herd...that one was unexpected. My daughter, still a little sheep, was led astray easily by both and the wonderful opportunities she had been given were taken from her.

These people who are wolves among the sheep are not my enemy, but Satan is and he can use them so easily because they are not following the Shepherd and are not protected by His sheepdogs. This woman does not recognize the wrong she did to my family, because she is a wolf and she just did what wolves do. The problem is not that she is a wolf, it is that she has hidden it so well that she has everyone convinced she is a sheep, perhaps to the point she is seen as worthy to be a sheepdog, and she has even convinced herself of this. I believe she knows a lot about God and how Christians should be, but does not really know Him in her heart. How terribly sad for her! I will be praying that she accepts My Lord as her Savior.

I am determine to come to terms with using the gifts as my Lord gave to me, because my instincts are to protect one particular young sheep who is being targeted quite pointedly by the wolves. But, also, I know that people who profess to be Christian and are not, manifest this self deception, this soul sickness, in many ways, including physical illnesses. And yet it only takes accepting Jesus because my Lord wishes that not even one should perish.

My Lord, thank you for opening my eyes. I pray that You given this woman every opportunity to know You within her heart. Help me, my Lord, to use the gifts You have given me as You wish with wisdom and without fear. And protect my daughter, give her wisdom and a strong desire to follow You.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Ten Years and Two Weeks - Part 4

Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use. ~Earl Nightingale

Where was I last? This will be the last of the four part series and since they were so spread out, here is the list of posts titled Ten Years and Two Weeks, if you would like to read them:

When windows, frame and all, are replaced, it is a less damaging process on the outside than on the inside. The interior trim around the widow has to be removed and that means some of it gets damaged in the process as well as the inside wall, mostly superficially, but still....

Once the windows were in, one of the workers began to try to place the old trim back in place. Corners did not line up, pieces of wood were missing or broken, and as if these things were not enough, he used way too many nails, as many as nine on one corner alone. My husband asked him to stop by the second one and stated we would replace them ourselves.

Later, as the painter was finishing the trim and windows on the outside, I noticed that they were only painting the trim around the windows and not the sashes. "Oh, no. I wouldn't paint the sashes."

We made a point to buy the more expensive paintable windows. They are not wood but a paintable PVC. In fact, I had a window sample right here in my living room for a few weeks as we were deciding on the material and paint colors that had a sticker on it clearly stating that they warranted Sherman Williams vinyl safe paint to be on the windows. However, when I talked to the contractor, he told me that he would not suggest we have the sashes painted because the paint would fail within five years due to the glass heating up the vinyl. That just had been his experience with vinyl windows in the Georgia sun. Although I remember that he also told us when we first talked to him about the job that he said the windows were a new product for him.

So, at that point I had a yellow house with a cream trim and white windows. Had I known they were not going to paint the sashes, I would have picked a better contrast for the trim because as it was it looked like we had the cheaper replacement widows that cannot be painted or very poor taste in color combinations, take your pick. The painters told me how they liked the look.... Yeah, well, the problem with that is it is my house and I do not like it at all.

I called the window manufacturer...twice. I do that sometimes just to see if I will get the same answer both times. Yes, the windows are not only paintable but the outside has been pretreated with a primer coat that is warranted for ten years. Although, they had changed the warranty recently, it used to be that the warranty was void if the windows were not painted. The only stickler was that it had to be Sherman Williams vinyl safe paint, which is not a particular paint but rather colors of certain values, basically only light colors could be used and the cream color I had picked was within the acceptable range.

Once the workers were done with the job and we had paid the contractor at the end of June, I began to pull out the sashes and painting them on both sides, as well as touching up missed areas on the outer trim. Since it had been raining a lot all this year, this process was spread out over a longer time than I hoped. I kind of figured that it would not be done until the end of September if all went well, but it actually was into the middle of October. I am still thankful that we have had a rather warm autumn so I could get it done. My husband had to finish the picture window on a ladder and the one window over the kitchen sink as I just could not touch up the trim but he missed opening the window to do the sill (which is why I wanted to do it myself), but I can contour enough get it from the inside, I hope.

Except for the sill of the sink window all the exterior window parts have been painted. We still have the front door to paint and the shutters as well as. Not sure when those will get done but eventually they will.

On a few rainy days I worked on patching the walls and just as I was finishing that, my husband decided that most of the windows were installed evenly as he was beginning to put the trim on, so he re-seated them and in the process, the plaster board again needed to be patched, particularly under the window. This is a picture of a new window in the rough in our bathroom.

I began finishing the interior around the windows in the the most difficult room first because I had to  match the faux texture paint in my bedroom. Writing that makes it sound so much easier than it was. Apparently, we had no paint left of the base color and we did not keep the lid with the tint mixture as we now do with it marked which room it was used and such. The color I finally got was close but not quite and then...my husband finds an extra paint can of the base paint. I just got to love the man.

Well, it is done now and looks great, but it did take me a long time. Long enough to wonder if I really wanted to attempt this in the guest room, even though we do have the paint and glazes for that room, but if you read a recent post, you know we will most likely be painting differently to give to the Princess.

I had only repaired the walls around the windows and painted trim around the windows in the Princess' current bedroom before that little thing I call life broke lose here. I was determined to finish the window where our Christmas tree goes before we got the tree last Friday, but...as I began to repair that wall around that window, I realized that it had more problems than I expected. Remember that I mentioned we had termites? They did not do serious damage to the supporting structures except the chimney, which we had rebuilt, and since we had the siding off the carpenters as well as we got a very good look, however they did make some tunnels in the plaster board that would make the paper bubble out when it was painted, not so bad that we need to rip out the plasterboard and replace it, as it was just here and there, but enough that it was necessary to press the board inward and plaster over it. Just when I thought I found it all, I would find another spot, which happened several times over three days.

The Christmas tree window is now done. While the paint for the living was really used up (and no hidden cans could be found this time), we took in the lid we saved with the tint mixture and—thank you, my Lord—it matched! I even touched up the wall next to the four steps up to the dining room and I cannot any difference at all. So I am hoping to finish the other living room window in a day, probably tomorrow.

Then we have lots more to do because when the windows in the dining room and the kitchen were replaced, it ripped the wallpaper that I have have wanted to change since we lived here, but the patterns were acceptable and the colors worked at least. We just ripped it all off, except behind the china cabinet and above the kitchen cabinets. We will need some friends to help us with the hutch, at least. So, basically, the only rooms in our house that are not in need of being completely re-painted are the living room, the guest bathroom (as it has no windows but the cabinet needs to be painted), and my bedroom.

Maybe next year at this time it will all be done...maybe.

My Lord, please give me the motivation and perseverance to finish these home improvements on the inside as well as on the outside.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Why seekingmyLord?

Decisions become easier when your will to please God outweighs your will to please the world. ~Anso Coetzer

Many years ago now, sometime between email lists and social media as we have now, the most popular method of finding people of like minds and conversing with them on the Internet was message boards. I loved them. I developed a few precious and lasting friendships from message boards, but since the message boards I liked the most were either about homeschooling or Christianity, it seemed they were targets for the anti-homeschooling and anti-Christian types, who could write just about anything while enjoying the safety of their anonymity.

Some of these discussions would be become very heated. Sometimes there were personal insults and name calling. I had been on a mail list about alternative health methods for a few years before that was basically the same, because people are basically the same regards of the forum, but it differed in that only the people on the list would see what had been written and it was a tighter group. The people knew each other or at least someone knew someone because it was by invitation only. One could write something and it did not stay on the Internet because it was email. Messages boards, however, had a more lasting effect.

Having been attacked for about two years by mostly two people on a mail list with others chiming in on either side, I learned to ignore personal attacks and stick with the subject. I learned the art of debating and not fighting dirty. One man used to say he loved my spunk, because while I never backed down from a good debate and even a nasty argument, I tried to be respectful and never really just slugged it out, which made my words more powerful. I would actually apologize when I was wrong or misunderstood and try to learn even from those who were put off by me. It was a better teaching environment on debating than I would have had in any classroom and I earned so much respect there that I was asked to be one of four key note speakers at an international conference! Who knew that was going to come out of a mail list?

Eventually, I dropped out of the mail list. It had changed direction somewhat and I had as well. Then came my daughter changing my focus quite a bit. I began to look into homeschooling and found quite a few message boards on that and a local message board about things going on in my community. The local one had forums where most of the action was and, of course, those were ones with the most controversy: politics, education, and religion. The very subjects we avoid in polite company and other than health, those were also my favorite subjects! But, on message boards everything is very public and lasting, and I saw many people take things to places from where they could not come back. One careless comment could attract a swarm of stings. I saw many a Christian making the mistake of being caught up in the moment in their responses and not being a good witness for the Lord they profess to serve.

In the beginning I had been using my real name because I am who I am, but as things went on I decided it would be wiser to have a user name for the local board, even if only to add some protection as a homeschooling mother more often than not alone with her child. My first user name was Seeker, because I felt I was always seeking Truth, the kind that comes from God and is God. That worked on the local message board and a few small boards with low activity, but "Seeker" was usually already taken on others. I wanted a user name to be more pointedly about being a seeker of my Lord's heart, but that was a bit long, so it became seekingmyLord, which I have kept and use on this blog.

SeekingmyLord is also a reminder to me that it is not enough to just debate with respect of another person with an opposing perspective, but to seek my Lord's heart before I press "send" on an email or "publish" on my blog or just when leaving a comment on another blog. Even in the most heated of discussions on a message board, when fingers are furiously flying on the keyboard and tempers are up and people are turning mean, I would stop before I pressed the button, asking my Lord if what I had written pleased Him, if I was showing Jesus to these people. Sometimes I had to take the time to rewrite, but it became easier and easier to write what radiated from God from the beginning, saving so many rewrites. I often would say, "Okay, my Lord, what do you want me to say to this," and the words would come. Sometimes it was a calm and gentling message and other times it was blunt but respectful.

I was always amazed by the effect this has had on people. I remember two friends that used to entertain themselves on the local message board's forum for homeschoolers. They would tell us we are damaging our children and they would grow up unable to function in society and so on. The woman in particular would slam us for any grammar errors in our messages and tell us that we were not educated enough to teach our children. Actually, the most vocal of the homeschooling mothers on that board had degrees, except for me; I had never been to college, not even one course. Eventually, I learned that the young woman had degrees in child care and education, and she had worked as an au pair a few years, so God was helping me to understand her perspective.

One time I wrote that she mostly likely will be one of us, a homeschooling mother, because she will think that she can educate her own child better than anyone or any school. (Pretty much what every homeschooling parent believes!) She never argued that, she even said "maybe" after awhile and I continued to teasingly remind her of it every now and then. One day, out of the blue, after months of being targeted by the anti-homeschooling tag team, she and her friend individually apologized to me for the way they had been toward me personally. Of course, this was done privately so no one on the board knew, but I knew that was God. I persevered in standing my ground with Him as my shield while shining out His love and they finally recognized and acknowledged it. We did not become friends really but from then on we, at least, had respect for one another.

I have seen that happen many times with people and that is why I use seekingmyLord. It is my reminder even here, while I may just be writing out things in my heart at the moment, that in all things I should honor God, that I really want to please Him, that what I desire most is to seek His heart on the matter. Do people upset me? Oh, yes. Yet, I know that if I respond in the emotion I feel, I have taken away an opportunity for my Lord to do His work in my heart as well as in the others'.

This has become such a habit now that anytime I write about things of a sensitive nature, I strongly believe and trust God's words are more effective in getting His message to them than I could ever be. When I am not sure if what I am writing is pleasing Him, I will pray over each paragraph, asking Him to point out what I need to change to make it His message to the person. Sometimes that message is not well received at the time, but I have also seen many, who rejected a blunt message that I dreaded giving, come back later, sometimes years later, to tell me I was right and apologize. It was not me being right, it was God; I was just surrendering to His will.

I felt His urging to write a letter on a very sensitive subject recently. A wrong was done to us and I was very willing to just forgive and forget it, but God made it very clear He wanted it to be addressed for two reasons: it was not seen as a wrong and it was going to continue. I prayed as I wrote but here and there I wrote what I felt should be written rather than what God wanted. Knowing I had interjected and interrupted my Lord's words on the matter in some places, I then went back over every paragraph, praying He would point out to me anything that He wanted changed. Some were fine as written, some needed just a word to be changed, and a couple needed an entire sentence to be added or deleted. I did this paragraph by paragraph again, and then line by line. Then it was done and sent.

It was not received well. The response was as my Lord prepared me to expect. As God wished of me, I asked for forgiveness for my actions, which gave an impression that led to believing their actions were acceptable, and I stated my forgiveness of their actions against us. It was straightforward but not judgmental, however I feel that people tend to perceive things from an emotional standpoint at first and I am respectful of giving them the space and time process the information. I am praying they will seek God's perspective. Although I keep asking Him, He has been assuring me that I have served His desires on this matter. What saddens me most is that the point was made that we would not be forgiven...not at this time, at least. And there was no apology or acknowledgement of any wrongdoing done to us. It saddens me not for us, but for them. It also saddens me for my Lord, but I know He has amazing ways of turning hearts to seek Him in any situation.

This is why I am seekingmyLord.

My Lord, may I always seek Your heart and may others seek You because they see Your Presence in me.