Hobbling the Hobby Horse

The vocational calling is a magnetic pull towards a specific course of action that is believed to be be of Divine design. Most people consider calling in relation to the ministry or medical field. Few consider what they do everyday to be a “calling.”

The fourth song on my CD Are You Ready is titled “Dear Lord, You Have Called Me.” This calling was in the nature of being. Called to BE and called to DO are entirely different callings. Yet who we are and what we do could not be more intertwined than when someone is a believer.

The first twenty years began with bustling pitter patter of feet through the house. whether the noise of children or pets, life alternated between hectic and peace. The last nine years were rather still. Being still and Doing still nothing is entirely different also. It is during the stillness that we find out most what we are made of… And quite often I find myself lacking.

Searching for a new vocation found me unsuccessful. My wanderings of late led me to a new author. She put it this way, “Novels are written out of the shortcomings of history” -Penelope Fitzgerald. The fact that she came to her career as a writer later in life is not lost on me. I find it very hopeful.

Fitzgerald’s life is full of mishap, adventure, and difficult life circumstances. Her belief in the underlying strength of women buoy’s me up. These days of the “fool’s spring” have me in quite the state of perpetual allergy induced asthma. When I should be out finally enjoying the balmy weather, I find myself indoors sucking on the nebulizer pipe. And taking up smoking is the last thing I have on my mind. Penelope Fitzgerald also suffered from asthma and COPD later in life. The fact that she pushed forward with her writing is very inspiring.

During my youth I was quite the bookworm in the family. The calling from my mother to come and help with the supper preparations often found me buried in pages. One time in particular, my mother called me from the bottom of the stairs to fetch the potatoes in the cellar. Yes, we had one of those. With a pine box full of sand, carrots, and potatoes and shelves lined with jars of preserves, we braved the damp, dark hole in search of the daily sustenance. This day in particular involved a hasty response, a slip of the hand across the banister pole, and a crash through the window at the landing. The stairs make an about face which I neglected. My mother’s voice still ringing in my ears, was now clouded with the sound of broken glass. She returned to her post at the bottom of the stairs to find that I was unharmed. The window, however, would need to be replaced.

This hasty response whilst in the midst of my reading was probably delayed by the “finishing of the paragraph.” Who would stop mid-sentence? My feet could not make up the time lost in the book. Sometimes, I feel like my whole spiritual journey can be summed up in that instance.

Indoor gardening began in middle January. This little lavender sprout is now one month above ground. I was successful at nine seeds. Not really sure how many I put in the soil. Touching them is the best aroma therapy. The greenhouse is is ready for spring planting. and the greanium planters number over 50! Flowers are abundant year round in my life.

For nine years now, life seems a tug of war between doing and being. The parenting years come and go so quickly. For just a brief moment in time we are gifted with little souls to teach being and doing as Christ ought. Then the birds leave the nest and mothering seems completed. Is it ever really complete? Now as a distant cheerleading section, the sidelines are ever so quiet. The calling to motherhood is such a blessing.

What am I to do now?

I face that question frequently. From my place in the library surrounded by the books that made us, I wonder what am I to do now? Being a wife, a mother of grown children, an Oma to my grandchildren, why does my heart yearn for something more? I want to do and be more than a pet parent, a gardener, a crocheter, or a prayer warrior. Why am I so unsatisfied with my life now?

Is this discontentment at it’s ugliest outcropping? Have the weeds of this world taken over the garden of my mind?

Crochet. Here are the first six suqres for my temperature quilt afghan. I am getting so excited about the project. Doing all of the strips in season will be next. Then the strips in between the seasons. I will be doing the months in intervals of three. So these are Jan-Feb-Mar and Apr-May-Jun. I still have my “crojo” on the plan so that is good.

Writing…

Writing my thoughts is part of my self preservation. If thoughts are not written they will blow away in the breeze. If self-analysis does not involve writing, then how can conclusions be made? Am I stuck being me and doing written self-analytical jottings just for me?

The fourth song on the CD is more about being than doing. It is in my doing that I discover my lowly ME will never measure up to God’s calling. “Be Holy” is impossible without Christ living through me. Some people love to sign off their writing with “In His Grip” but do they really understand what being in the mighty hand of God means? Sometimes it means that we are last years zinnia blossoms and He is crushing the dried blossom so that He can bury the resulting seeds under some soil and have new bushes.

I Peter 5:7. “Therefore humble yourselves under the might hand of God that He may exalt you in due time.”

“Dear Lord, You have called me. Called me to be, to be holy. You have called me, called me to be, to be yours only. You must know what You are doing, to have made me so lowly. You have called me so I ask that You would make me Yours only.” -Yvonne Annette 1998

Here I have added July-August-September. And while taking a break from this blog, I completed October. Only two left. Stay tuned for the finished project. Mosaic crochet is my newest hobby.

My avocational hobbies have turned into my full time contemplations. Hobbies are often hobbled like a little pony in need of discipline. Much of my hobbled hobbies comes from the fact that my visual capacities are failing. Dwelling on the past hobbled hobbies could bring me much grief. And for nine years, trying to discover what I can still do is often lassoed by my failing eyesight. These moments will probably continue to cause me pain and humble me to a lowly state. Learning from my disability requires being humble as well as doing with aids and help. Tools are not always as readily useful and letting go of doing is never easy. Physical ailment and the gradual decline of the body is part of living. Every day we die a little bit.

Tending garden

Morning and evening prayers

The past two weeks, the weather made gardening a bit aof a challenge. we expanded our garden space to three times its previous size. The weather dawned hot and windy right when our little seedlings should be popping out of the ground. Concerned about them being fried by the sun and then blown away by the wind, tending the garden became a twice daily chore. We won’t mention all the weeding and watering. I found some new ideas to cut back on the weeding hours, but we ran out of wood chips with just one row of the tomatoes ground covered. Oh, well. Maybe by the end of summer every thing will be as perfect as we want it to be. For now, we’ll keep tending the garden outside and inside the greenhouse.

Meanwhile there was a new grand baby to go visit. And if a few days went by without a visual, it seemed like a whole week passed by. Babies change so fast. Watching him out grow his newborn onesies happened so quickly. And watching big sister adapt to her new role was fascinating as well. From the first days of sympathy tears, to the proclamation “It’s Okay!” Big sister sooned learned that baby cries are a common thing. I asked her if she would take a picture with me this day, and she said, “No.”. This Oma is not very demanding so, this is what we get.

The dog and myself are way overdue for haircuts. She has way more hair to clip than I do. But I can sympathize with Honey’s panting after a romp outdoors. At least I can put mine up into the hole in my cap. It makes for a great pony tail pin. We skipped the runner coming just one this past month. The day was kind of miserable for me. She was underfoot all the day waitng for Something to happen. It sure helps spend some of that doodle energy to have our girl come run her for five miles or so. The rest of the week goes much better when some of that energy is released.

Our one mama cat had six kittens. This is the third try at mothering. And she seems to be keeping them all roly-poly. I am not a very good cat person, and they are not very friendly yet. Of course the only brave one is a little orange one and since there are four, who knows if it is the same kitten each time?

The whole world had a pretty bad case of cabin fever it seems. The staying home and staying inside drove a few too many mad. And the results were pretty devastating for many people. I never understood protests. As a child my mother learned to ignore my temper tantrums. I may have been a slow learner, but throwing a fit never got others to respond well to my demands. I found that cookies, treats, a good meal, or some other reward is the best way to train a dog. And it’s quite effective on family members, relatives, friends and neighbors also! There is an old saying, “You can catch more flies with honey than a stick.” I think I’ll live by that one right now. So blessings go to the receiver of this scarf. The mosaic practice run turned out pretty good I say. Learning that the colors have to be a strong contrast was key to my husband/s survival. He could hardly handle my grumbling as I tried to learn this new pattern. It was my attempt to bottle up some of the summer heat for next winter’s use! Haha

Learning mosaic crochet is taking up much of my “free” time. I am listening to a book about a one room school teacher from Fort Pierre, South Dakota. It makes me so very thankful that I am alive one hondred years after her experiences. Oh, my! But she did have quite the sense of humor. Then, I spend an hour visiting with my mother. And she puts me to shame by how many books she read in the last three weeks. She is such a history buff. And my reading is usually anecdotal and nothing political. I am glad to be so inspired to keep learning. Her mind is so busy with educating about the past and making sense of the present. Wow!

So, it took me five tries, and a day to figure out how to make the row by row mosaic work on a triangle shawl pattern. The lego table sits in the library just inches from my creative zone. The lego’s will go to grand daughter’s house soon. But right now it is my end table. The sampler will use all of the border or mosaic edgings that I have found up to now. And using one color to tie the samples together… well, I hope someone likes it. Lots of prayer for the family goes into the stitches.Morning and evening prayers are either in watering the garden or in choosing the next stitch pattern.

Flowers are still my favorite thing to grow. The verdict is still out on the marigolds that I planted this year. Only one seed brand grew. They are to put on a Lime colored head. I sure hope they find flower power once they get out from the greenhouse nursery. This little flower is about the size of a thumbnail. The early summer heat nearly did them in, but after a week of extra water, they revived. I think they look fake! The season of greens is here, though. And we are enjoying fresh salad pickins’ every day now. Growing flowers is still my favorite though. A girl can never have enough flowers in her life.

My own little corner

(Finish that tune…)

When the new flower is the best, the birds are still chirping in declaration of their morning fare. The sun is still hiding behind the eastern horizon. The trees are still driping with dew. And the day has only just begun.

Actually, I went out after the clouds were burned off by the sun. The breeze was tickling the windchimes. And the dry pavement was steaming up the air. the coral canna flower had lost it’s beauty. The soft petals had folded up. The wind damaged blossom looked wilted and about to fall to the rocks below.

Why is this flower my favorite this year? Or is it just because it is a new thing and the others are predictable.

Because when it greets me in the morning, it is at its best. In the corners or the two boxes they were planted with hope. I had no idea if they would survive the heat on the south side of the house. But there in the corner, they have spread out to cover the whole one foot end of the box. Impressive I tell myself as I pull out another dead growth that I had spend money on. Errgh! I growl at my pocket book.

Impatience.

Okay, I know. I spelled it wrong. But these lovely blooms are the winners for box garden flower beds. If I can just remember that next year. Impatiens are so full of variety and color. From there purple star formations to just prolific white blooms, hundreds of cities use them in their hanging planters downtown. I love how they just multiply with little to no care.

Growing flowers seems to be more rewarding this year than garden vegetables this year. The outside garden sits empty for the first time since we moved here. My wanna for gardening has taken a deep sea dive as I try to keep breathing with minimal medicines. When the asthma kicks in so readily at allergy induced activities outside, it gets easier just to not do.

The last few weeks have kept me preoccupied with a mini- family reunion and a trip to the zoo with my brother’s family. And then last week my internet was down for a day just before the bill came to say they raised their rates. That makes me growl in irritation also.l

Oh, well. It is much faster.

The one thing that made me really laugh about the zoo visit was the monarch migration. We say more butterflies on the honeysuckle bushes on the way in to the zoo than we did in their little butterfly habitat inside the zoo gates. Then, the day after the buttergly migration came north to our property. The rabble of flying critters on our clover patch driveway is amazing. They flutter in front of me as I walk through the blossoms. At least the bees have left for a time.

While on our short weekend road trip we stopped off in the Badlands of South Dakota to enjoy the sweet clover in bloom. It was amazing to see the lush undergrowth at the base of all the rocks. The plateaus looked almost lime green from a distance. The smell still conjures up an emotion in me that is indescribable. Was it happiness, contentment, or awe? I don’t think I have found the right words yet. But when I close my eyes at look at the distant jagged rocks and take a big whiff of air… Amazing.

“In my own little corner, in my own little world. I can be whatever I want to be. “. My husband always says that I am his princess and the pea, becuase of my sensitivity to crooked sheets or a wrinkle in the pillowcase. So today when I discovered his “surprise” for me in my corner mending chair, I wondered how many times I have messed with his corner of the world.

I have this love affair with the snickers candy bar. He use to bring me a bag of the little fun size bars to help me with my cleaning chores. After each room, I would sneak a snack and a drink of water to keep me energized through the tasks. Cleaning chores are not my favorite thing and the snickers is a pretty good “carrot” to keep this little pony pulling the cart. But how did I feel about being told to clean instead of sit?

Is that what he really meant?

There are so many different motivating options in the world. In my corner, it’s a snickers fun size snack. Outside it is the blossoms that greet me as I take my morning chore path.

But my chair?

That’s also my prayer corner. Not far from my hand it a little jar, a little note pad, and a pen. Every day when prayer requests burden me and I find myself overwhelmed with some world outside of my own sphere of influence, the request is written down and put into the jar. My prayer / crochet time is not complete until those requests are lifted up to the one who has more influence than me.

From flowers, to butterflies, to the broken hearts of those in need of prayer, from my own little corner only God can smell the spiritual aroma of prayers rising heavenward. I hope it smells like the meadows of sweet clover. And I hope our praise looks like the butterflies scattering before His feet as He moves and acts on our behalf.

Psalm 141:2.a “Let my prayer be counted a sweet fragrance before You.”

Empty rabbit hole

At too yellow

Where I am at is not where anyone else wants to be. I find myself in an empty rabbit hole, running around in circles and never finding my way out. The only way out is up. Reaching up for the ladder that is just out of touch. Being too short to touch the bottom rung, then I will need to jump. Jumping up to grasp what is just beyound reach. My attempts to be anything but the rabbit that I once was leaves me exhausted,. No one wants to pretend at life. The whole idea is that Halloween costume party might just exist everyday for some…

At this point in my existence, I am at covering up who I am now by who I once was. Learning to deal with the change in my abilities to navigate the normal life that everyone else still lives has left me faking the smile. Pretending to be okay in my rabbit hole. The world goes on. The people around me have left. The others have their daily interactions with others. I have a rabbit hole.

Pushed over a cliff. That’s me. Sitting on a ledge with a large rock wall just before me. Open the door for me and push me first. The anxiety and the fear that surfaces from the unknown because of my eyes inablity to adjust to the change form outside to inside or from inside to outside. Might as well push me over a cliff. Who pushes a blind person first? Lots of people don’t understand. This anxiety from new and the constant flow of people in a group setting, continues to set me face value with a rock wall in front of me. Finding the face level of an outstretched hand is like asking me to go first. This anxiety of meeing new people or new situations has left me sitting out on a ledge with a rock wall in front of me and a deep cavern heading off in all directions.

Chasing a bunny tail around in circles. That is me. The less one goes to experience new, the more life is just chasing the owner’s tail. Round and round the sun travels. Round and round the familiar circles go. Yet with the blindness that comes my way, the circle grow smaller. The never ending expansion of one’s life and experiences, has now reversed direction. Until all that remains is the beginning of the line. And now all the bunny does is chase his own tail. Not a very fun day actually.

Socially deprived dogs will develop anxiety or elements of acting surprised at every thing that happens. Whether it is the door bell, the phone ringing, or a neighborhood child that cries out, a dog that has not been exposed to lots of experiences will overreact. Never mind the dog, my days are now turning into the socially deprived mutt-hood. Without the proper training and constant repetition of social skills, they become lost. Empty days in the country turn the hermit into an angry mutt. This is not the me that I want to be. The country bumpkin I used to be longs for sitting on the busy corner of a street and do some good old people watching.

An empty planterbox sitting in front of the parked car reminds me once again where I am at. The days that coming home to the pretty plants adorning the parked vessels are so long ago in the past. Filling the boxes so that someone else can park there and enjoy the view as they arrive… Nope. My life is that empty planter box. I do not take that vessel to wherever I so chose. Filling the boxes just reminds me that I no longer have the choice to go away and return to an enjoyable view. It is not an enjoyable view when it is all that I ever see.

Open the door to a brick wall that stands in front of me. Outside my daily empty rabbit hole there is a brick wall. Seeing a future ahead is getting harder and harder. I do not see a future without the view of delapitating buildings around me. Living on an acreage where things are just left to fall apart, reminds me that my eyesight is failing. It is very depressing to imagine a future filled with the view of buildings crumbling. While others leave and do not see the crumbling status, who wants to imagine this view as the last days of their eyesight. I do not want to just watch buildings crumble, while my eyesight fails me. These images will be burned in my brain. I want to watch things being taken care of. I want to see neighbors fixing their roofs. I want to see people planting their gardens.

Lacking social skills is attributed to children who do not slpend time with peers. No one understands the value of an active life more than sn inactive life. Not having peers or people to go do things with has left me empty and lacking in social skills. I still know how to ask someone else all the right questions, but having no experience outside of my rabbit hole makes me an empty person to be with. Therefore, no one comes

Gas tank on empty usually gives a driver a little red flag or red signal on the dashboard. When I look in the mirror agter the same empty start to each day, I see a signal eep in my soul that the gas tank is on empty.

Not many days ago, I found myself tired of not having expressed anything about myself to for so long a period of time around a group of people, that when I finally did, there was an audible “shushing” that escaped someone next to me. The feelings that followed the experience were undeniably awful. Everyone has feelings, and when left to never express those feelings eventually they ooze outward. Being shushed in the midst of the expressing left me collaping into

Too yellow

Who would tell a dandelion she is too yellow? Lots of people do this very thing every day. Telling the dandelion not to shine so bright in the sea of green grass. Telling the expressive soul not to be soo loud, or the nonconformist to be more like everyone else around them. I begin to wonder what the world would be like without Picasso, Rembrandt, Mozart, or Debussy. What would the new world have looked like without Columbus, or Sacagawea, or Madison? Why do we shush the abortion debate, the political issues, or the holocaust? Will there even be any history in the history books? Maybe dandelions are just yellow. Not too yellow.

Just yellow. Not too expressive. Not too passionate. Not too wordy. Not too loud. Not too boisterous. Not to excitable. Not too Impressive. Not too intimidating. Not too dramatic. Not too bright. Not too dreamy. Not too hopeful. Not too flamboyant. Not too artistic. Not too creative. Not too inventive. Not too different. Just yellow.

Adopt-a-Grandma

“Faith which first lived in your grandmother Eunice”

The Bible doesn’t talk about grandmother’s. Except for the mention of Timothy’s grandmother by Paul in his letter to the young pastor, the word isn’t even used in the Old Testament. Generations are listed and Matthew gives credence to several outstanding women in his lineage of the Savior. This verse then has become quite a thematic focus. Praise God it is about the two women’s faith!

Generational socialization was so normal during the times of Bible writings that it has only been a recent issue. In years past the ability to move or travel wasn’t as simple. Therefore many cultures still hold to generational homes. Homes in which the grandparents do much of the child care.

Growing children that understand respect is quite simple when grandfather takes charge of an errant boy. The story of John Quincy Adams is told frequently of his schooling days. The stubborn child refused to go to school. The elder Henry Adams quietly left his office and grabbed the young boy’s hand. He then led his defiant grandchild for a one and half mile walk never releasing his hand until the child was safely seated in his chair in the schoolroom. The embarrassed Johnny never defied his grandfather again. This respect of elders took the young man into a career as the most successful statesman in United Sates history.

My favorite story from my children’s youth is when an elderly woman in a wheelchair wanted to hold Yolanda’s little 1/16 violin. The lady’s shaking fingers left may little five year olds eyes wide in fear. I know she was thinking “She is going to drop my violin, I’ve never dropped my violin!” I softly told the wide eyed daughter, “I won’t let her drop it.” The woman’s face lit up like a Christmas tree as she plucked out “Twinkle, twinkle” for Yolanda. It was a lesson in respect and honor we have all never forgotten.

The many stories of grandmother’s almost always talk about gardens. Many of them give like they have the bank of a queen. The tulips, lilies, dahlias, and irises that we all enjoy are surely because someone’s grandma shared the bulbs with a dear one.

My first adopted grandma was Lillian. She was nearly at the end of my paper route and the funniest, skinniest 80 year old I had ever known. She taught me more than I can recall in one writing. The next adopted Grandma was when we lived in Minnesota. Grandma Dorothy was my baby “burpee” grandma in the church nursery. I planned my little babies feeding times to be during the sermon so that I could play piano for the worship service. grandma Dorothy then was baton passed. There were many times she changed diapers before I picked up baby again so that our visiting time after church was enjoyable.

While I learned to cook for my growing family, I called my own grandmother frequently to ask about what spices to use. She taught me so much about flavors and meats. But my adopted kitchen cook was Idell. If I missed my mother’s cooking, I could count on Idell to make me something that made me feel better. Her chicken noodle soup and summertime lemonade was amazing.

Children aren’t cookies. And shouldn’t be molded like dough to be sliced with cutters and popped out of the oven 12 or 13 minutes (years) later all wearing the same frosting. Why we opted out of cookie cutter education and decided to homeschool was a long year by year process. Each year we made the choice, weighing all the options. But Grandma Eleanor in Iowa was the most positive adopted Grandma we had. Though for such a short time, she prompted me to write a song when we knew her. “Always Wanted a Grandma” is about the power of the aged to bless young lives. The covenant all blessings of years ago can return in the audible blessings of these special people. The power of their words is often greater than those of our own parents.

We wanted to give our children lots of opportunities with many different age groups. I  think it worked. The most important aspect of their training up was probably the church. How the church today has bought into generation gap appeal. It breaks my heart to imagine the inner “rebellious” of our youth insisting on church experience that does not involve the respect of the elderly. From the music, to the locations, to the atmosphere, the new church movement is so entertainment focused and lacks the loving touch of adopted grandmother’s. If only those youth understood how much grandma labors in prayer for her dear loved ones.

Building bridges with a community of various ages gives a child the ability to relate to all ages. The dear adopted grandmother that I love so now is Ella. She is so special. So loving. I can’t imagine our lives without her prayers. She and her husband adopted “our girls” early on in the musical career. Their hugs have always been a sought out affair.

Having these people who love-no-matter-what are the foundation of beautiful young people. Their mentor ship and guidance should be treasured like the silver that their crowns are adorned with.

My friend Lillian was the one who taught me resourcefulness. She used old socks and sweaters to make hundreds of balls of yarn. Then she filled a popcorn tin and began making a rug. Maybe that’s why I love homemade rugs.

Today as I think of the legacy of grandmothers and the song by Twila Paris, “Same Girl” my heart is burdened by the ailing body of another one of my adopted grandmother’s. Accepting failure and yet blessing our Lord is one of the life lessons’s best learned by the aged. Their body might grieve them, but their sweet demeanor and loving words echo in our hearts forever.

–In loving memory of Eileen. Though she seemed more like my piano teacher than my grandmother (I always got nervous if I knew she was listening), may her memory be a treasure to all those who knew her.

On my knees

The story of a prayer shawl

An old song timelessly echoes through the ages. Today it rings in my heart. I can hear my mother sing it as she cradles my little brother or sister in her arms so many years ago. I feel it vibrating in my ear drum as I rock my child to sleep for a nap two decades earlier. I can imagine grandmother’s on the unbroken plains singing it while they feed the little ones their breakfast of mush and cream.

“Whisper a prayer in the morning,

Whisper a prayer at nooon,

Whisper a prayer in the evening

God keeps your heart in tune.”

Many of my crochet projects are done in specific colors and for specific needs. Shawls, mittens, scarves, afghans, hats, baby blankets and doilies. So many projects get forgotten. So many projects for someone special or for nobody in particular at all. Making the prayer shawl is probably one of my most serene and peaceful experiences.

Through out my house are many shades of color. Eclectic decor was never my original hope some decades ago when my grandmother first taught me to crochet. Never one to consider the large room effect of adding some item to the landscape, a project usually begins with only a thought for what might be on hand. Having tunnel vision in my home is advantages as looking at more than one afghan could be quite a dizzy experience.

There are always leftover yarns. And the leftover yarn projects. Rugs, mittens, hats, afghans, and shawls get the remains in many varying patterns that almost look planned. My mother always calls the leftover meals planned overs. In her quilting there are no pieces of fabrics for the waste bin. Near my working zone I have a stash of scraps that can be used for tied markers or for fringes, or for unbeknownst purposes. About once a month I go through all the projects, arrange their priority and consider who is in need of what gift. Sometimes the gifts sit longer that expected, incomplete or forgotten. Oops.

So this past week as more prayer needs of those loved ones close to me came into focus, I decided it was time to do another prayer shawl.

Specifically.

This prayer shawl has been on my mind for some time. It has so many meanings and thoughts behind the sequences, and colors. The pattern itself is the “Apache Tears Stitch.” I have wanted to do this since the first time I saw it. The “trail of tears” when taken into a prayer has so much meaning.

Consider the natives driven off of their beloved lands and put into reservations. The tears of their lost livelihoods must be a cause for pause as we consider the trials of the modern dilemma. Whether we know the story and plight of those who lived on the plains before us or not, the tearful wailing of change wrought by the hands of another person, reminds us that people can be both cruel and kind.

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with joy” is a spiritual lesson that few really understand. The best example we have for this is childbearing. The idea that birth is brought forth from pain aught to give us great respect for our mothers who bore us. The joy of holding a newborn baby cannot be fully explained without reference to the begetting. While not beautiful on the face, the trailing tears on this shawl are both desirable and attractive. Though Carrie Underwood just debuted her song “You can’t cry pretty” this blanket seems to defy that.

The frosted green, a hint of growth, comes from the leftovers of the new sofa afghan that was made anew. Green signifies growth and spring. We have had our share of long, winter leftovers this April. But a prayer shawl with some green in it gives hope. This same color popped up through our leaf pile over the flower bed this week. It’s shade of pale green indicated that some tulips and irises were trying to find the sunshine. Spring has finally sprung.

Watery Turquoise is both the symbol of tears and washing. A cleansing experience cannot be accomplished without water. So some blue water must be in this shawl. This turquoise was leftover from a doily patterned shawl. I had planned to wear it with my dress for my daughter’s wedding but that didn’t happen.

While blood, sweat and tears characterized our Lord’s prayerful vigil in the garden of the night before his crucifixion, Claret red is the closest color that I could get to blood. The atonement for sin is blood. This is a sacrificial phenomenon that has existed since the first garden’s disobedient rebellion. What prayer shawl would be complete without the hint of this sacrifice? Christ’s tears, his shed blood, and the trail that was left on his face from the crown of thorns upon His brow. What tears I have shed seem so minimal in comparison.

Rosalee pink is color of skin. The skin of the palm of the hand is pink. No matter what color the top of the hand, the palms are all the same. Some years ago I first learned “red and Yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight…”. The pale pink of skin unbleached by the sun was what I though of when I saw this color. The palm and the bottoms of feet are the same hue. Perhaps it’s the pale pink skin that has been bleached by the lack of the sun. While in our flesh we get so distracted with our vanity and our looks that we fail to take into considerations the short time we will be here in these tents. Whatever color your tent is, remember that having an eternal purpose keeps us humble.

In the dark of the night, while the stars burn bright, God never slumbers so don’t you fright. Navy blue is the night sky’s color. While we often sleep all through the night, there are those times when waking, our minds wander towards the care of some individual. Reminding us that God is always watchful can be such a comfort.

Hands folded in prayer have been used for many artisan themes. Some have sculpted wood, stone, and pottery. Others have painted and photographed hands in prayer. One of my favorite pictures is of the elder sitting at the table in prayer. One of both the man and the woman has been done. I haven’t seen this painting in someone’s home for some time.

The pattern of five that is sequentially repeated can teach us so much. When I am asked what I am doing, I often respond with “Counting in sequence.” The stitch for this shawl can be done in many sequences, but because it is a prayer focus, I chose five. Four single crochets (into the back loop chain ) followed by the tear (a dropped treble stitch attached to the third row down). I also chose to double each color in the reminder of two hands folded in prayer.

Five colors in sequence three times. There are so many times that prayers are ended with “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” These three are one. We were blessed recently to attend a local Catholic college spring choir event. After the vocal selections, we visited with two nuns from the monastery. An attendee dipped his fingers into the holy fountain and made the symbol of the three crossed over the heart that we see so frequently. Some forget what it even means. The spiritual baptism and change of heart blessed my thoughts as i considered the gentleman’s actions. The prayer sequenced in three times or words repeated three times are a favorite emphasis tool used in both spoken and written word. So the sequence of the colors is repeated three times. Like prayer morning, noon, and night. Three meals. Three times.

This prayer shawl may have a recipient. Or it may not. I will definitely do another one. I learned I didn’t quite begin with the first chain links long enough for a full wrap of the shoulders, so another one is being constructed in my mind already. Morning, noon, and night the prayers will continue to rise heavenward as I lift up those in need.

While I am sitting in my chair instead of bending on my knees, the project sits on my knees and my prayers continue to rise with each stitch.

Each piece that the choirs sang were prefaced by the tuning sound from the directors pitch pipe. It occurred to me that this little instrument is a lot like the prayer vigils of the nuns. As they go through their days so wholly focused on a Holy God, their days find a rhythm in this pitch pipe of prayer. Oh how I would like to remain in tune throughout my days.

“God answers prayer in the morning,

God answers prayer at noon,

God answers prayer in the evening,

He will keep your heart in tune.”

When we bow our heads

What the flowers teach us

The sunflowers have bowed their golden heads. Not to the sun, but to the changing season. As the temperatures at night have dropped into the low fifties the large 14′ plants have dipped nearly to the ground. The sure sign of the coming fall is here. 

Last week  I gathered my helpers and we cut all the beautiful red headed ones off the plants. With lots of requests for some seed, hopefully the heads will dry and not mold. The volunteer plants that came up this spring from my daughters first packet of seeds a few years ago have multiplied quite beautifully. 

This summer we fed bees, butterflies, and a beautiful yellow finch. While others were filling bird feeders, our seeds and pollen kept a host of creatures quite happy. We knew the migration of the winged creatures was soon. Yesterday in the morning -when of course I did not have my phone-I witnessed five monarchs and three bees all in a one foot square area of the zinnias that are also product of saved blossoms. 

Though I was late on burying the wildflower seeds in my tire garden, but the winged critters still had time to enjoy them. We are not as excited about the insects that have found the vined fruit in the outdoor garden. Tomato beetles and such have devastated about half the crop. Next year I really am going to just toss the plant babies that I have no room for. Overcrowding in the garden creates a regular feast for the little bugs. 

As the world groans under the seize of hurricane winds, devastating floods and unimaginable earthquakes, some people   bow their heads in awe of the Creator. Yet others raise fists in defiance. 

Through all the seemingly business of taking care of plants my heart has been weighted down and my head feels the gravity of loneliness. Recently that weight has driven me to inventory my life and search out those who might feel it’s weight also. 

My first recourse is always to search scripture. The story of Hagar banished to the wilderness continues to draw me to a similar well. In Genesis chapter 16 she finds herself at a fountain. Her realization that God sees her prompts her to rename the spring: God Who Sees Me.  

While my eyesight continues to steal vision from me and I am now often missing seeing things, people, or the dog chasing a cat and running right into my legs and knocking me to the ground- I am pulled towards this idea that God Sees Me. 

I bow my head frequently. To see the path. To recover from a branch slap in the face. To ask God to help me with the loneliness of country life.  And as a watch care over the greenhouse and the gardens I am often reminded again how much my eyesight makes me miss. Then one small little creation gives me pleasure. 

One flower, one taste of goodness, one bowed head of a sunflower. One fountain and tractor tire pond. In my lonely alone garden moments God Sees Me and I am  blessed with the growth of some new thing. Sowing and reaping might fill my time and keep me busy but the God who sees me is the One who sustains my life. 

The Raging Storm 

“The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns.”‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/ecc.1.6.esv

The winter of 1997 hit hard. Beginning in thanksgiving of 96 snow began to pile up, literally. We had just moved into our fixer upper in Iowa and thank goodness the snow hid all of the awful mess out in the yard 

When January and February blew in with several snowstorms, my husband got the bright idea to just stay in town and work overtime in his machining job. Fine for him, a warm house, hours of busy, amd the truck ride to and from work was only blocks away. However the girls and I were soon learning about conservation. 

The old fashioned ways of quilts over windows, doors shut and rooms blocked off from the heat source was the three day blizzard experience. The children at two and almost four years old do not remember the fear. Just the fun. Slumber party-as we all huddled together on the living room sofa with the sleeping bags zipped together. We wore snow pants during the day as the wind seemed to blow right through the house. 

All that I really remember is the three package video movies, the howling wind, and checking the furnace and the temperature on the house constantly. I was so worried we would run out of fuel or electricity. We managed to stay warm until Gavin arrived home behind the snowplow. The furnace stopped five minutes into his arrival. Next it was time to plow a path for the propane truck.  We had never been price gouged so badly in our entire life.  I wish I could be the company, but memory fails me on that one. 

So on the days that the wind blows 20-25 mph gusts from the southeast, my mind plays tricks on me. I really hate that sound. If I could live in a concrete bunker and never feel the wind, that would make me happy. 

Storms that rage within while  the blue skies send cottonball clouds sailing to the east are never a weatherman’s forecast. There are scripture verses that tell us these battles with unseen forces are real.  

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬ http://bible.com/59/eph.6.12.esv

I am not a fan of wrestling. I am neither interested in bygone battles and war hero books. Not a fan of books like the Harry Potter type. Not a fan of naval stories and not a fan of airplane crash survival stories. This verse therefore is not really one that prefers my focus. Rather a favorite amount children’s memory verses. Why should I even return to its words in this my alone-time?

Thinking about the “forces” that be on such a clear and beautify day, was not my plan. Fighting this mental emotional storm during my change of life was no choice of mine either. Knowing that there is more to this hurricane wind in my heart than flesh and blood reminds me that it takes more than muscle to fight the PTSD that wind sounds can cause.  It takes more than muscle to navigate the dark skies of the mind. 

More than muscle. 

Sometimes God’s mercy reaches right through our most bitter enemy and gives us a blessing. After my quiet time with these verses I felt a nudge to use my muscles and get that butterfly garden planted. While down at the greenhouse, a shadow fell across my path and there before me were the first of the sunflowers attempting to shade my greenhouse. My bitter enemy is the sun. For its rays are the bearers of the ultraviolet rays that damage my eyes. Yet this picture…  God is merciful. Of ten pictures with my eyes closed, one of them was perfect!

So as the storm rages on and my soul searches for which direction the wind might blow from next, I will look to Him who created the winds that drive our weather patterns. As the howling wolf-like wind threatens my mind, I will ask Him to send gentle cooling breezes. I will ask Him for spiritual muscles.  And I will paraphrase ‭‭Zechariah‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to *Yvonne Annette: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” http://bible.com/59/zec.4.6.esv

*italicized name is actually Zarubbabel. 

Oh Spirit of the Living God blow upon me. 

If I were a flower 

What I would bee


If I were a honey locust tree what would I see? I would see decades and seasons faster than wings on a bee. I’d make farmers and shepherds stop to smell me. I would temp children and kittens to climb up for a treat.  


If I were a plum tree early in spring, I would bless the world with a fragrance that charms them to sing.  My blossoms would herald the warm coming days with scent that no launderer has ever proclaimed.


If I were an iris dancing in breeze, I would be purple and yellow if you please.  I would bloom longer than tulips and brighter than lilies. I would cr, “Pick me!”  and surprise little girls who tease.


If I were a flower in basket hung high, I would be nasturtium coral and spry. I’d copy the sun from east into west and swing in the wind and tickle hopes for the best. 


If I were a geranium bold, full and red, I’d echo your lips and dance in your head.  I would fill up the room with carpet so soft and never loose color no matter that my petals fall so oft. 


If I were a lilac as old as the hills, I’d give blossoms abundant still enough for thousands of jars to fill.  My fragrance would sift through windowsills.  And my color would match sunsets and dresses with frills. 

If you were a flower fragrant and free, what song would you sing, what color would you bee?.