The dog ate my Christmas

No, really! She did it, Mom!

This old girl’s name is Eva. Sometimes I think it is a misspelling if you get my gist. But most of the time she really is an angel. I suppose it’s our fault. We didn’t put a water in the kennel, so to lock her, there will have to a lot of cord juggling and such so that her water would stay thawed out and the bucket not get cracked.

Meanwhile, we decided to use an automatic food service delivery and she learned that the packages contain food. Well, that started the whole ball rolling and even though we do not have snow right now, there was a mighty large snow mountain in the yard and the mess nor our attitudes towards her could handle the ice and snow!

So this particular day, we tied the box to her collar and made her drag around “Christmas” all day so that she would stop eating it. I honestly do not think it will work, so we will just lock her up if a package should come when we are gone. Which by the way it did several times this past week. And I am not gone from home much these days.

This one day I decided to crochet another remake. The hat was so thin and not very warm. Also the mittens were a pair of fingerless mitts that I wore on the motorcycle some. The job took me a couple of days but it was just in time for an outing on a warmer day.

Honey must have felt a little bad that Eva got in so much trouble for the package thievery. She has taken up one of her toys to tell me that “Somebody in a car is here!” I was both pleasantly surprised and a little bit in awe when it was the mail-lady with a parcel delivery. Yeah, Honey kept Eva out of the dog house! Haha!

The tethered box, got me to thinking about solving one of my walking problems. The dog’s compete so much to be first while on separate leashes, that we often get tangled up or my shoulders hurt really bad after the exercise.

So I tried the tethered walk with the two dogs one day. Amazing! Eva gets the harness latch on her collar and I run the leash through a slip hook on Honey’s collar. Wow! Solved my problem of sore shoulders all by myself. Neither one of them pulls on the leash anymore. And Honey has to be the dog-in-charge like she really is supposed to be. No more pulling! the double sided tug on Honey works like the harness. Yay! And I have my hands more free to swing my arms as is natural to walking.

We finally found someone to reupholster the old day bed from Gavin’s folks. She did such a beautiful job. I had a picture of the whole day bed, but don’t want to spoil the beauty by giving away the picture! So Here’s the little story. We cleaned up the wood a couple of summer’s ago and it sat in the old house next door for two years. Then we ought the fabric pre-Covid. I had one lady lined up and she canceled on me with the “mask shortage.” She was busy sewing masks for the healthcare etc.

This fall I got on the phone and made a few calls to find a new person. I forgot that my husband was buying the fabric based on touch. The feel of the daybed is both luxurious and simple. This little pillow was another one of my mosaic crochet studies. Now that I know how to make the continuous crochet tapestry fabric, more pillows may find their way into my loved ones lives. It was so much fun to do, I could not put it down until it was finished.

Meanwhile, out on the ranch… haha. My husband pampered me by trying this mulberry stump rocket stove. We burned it three weekends in a row, putting the fire out with water each time. The third time it began to fall apart. It was a fun way to warm up while the forty degree weather tempted us to stay outside awhile longer. Don’t judge us for using up good firewood. The stack by the woodshed/chicken coup would supply someone for at least two winters. If the racoon’s don’t destroy the stack too many times.

Only two weeks until Christmas and I have not done any of the usual things. My gift making still seems to be far delayed and not near enough time. Letter writing is still on the back burner, and the thought of trying to do a Christmas card seems overwhelming. The gatherings so few, there really are not very many pictures to use.

Looking forward to the Holiday holds a hint of apprehension. Some have already had the virus, but others have not. So caution will probably hold a great big yellow yield sign over every thing that we do.

Hopefully, I can get you another update on all the happenings around here sometime soon. Trying not to get overly “busy.” It seems like focus on the true gift of Christmas is far more important than on all the trappings of the holiday.

Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (ESV)

November blunders

Mistaken speeches

Hasn’t this month been full of them? There are times I just want to turn the owrld off and wake next year. But that’s not an option. And now is not the time for the populous to enter a comatose state and ifnore what needs to be done. There are so many things happening in the world today, it makes my head spin.

Meanwhile in my exile out here in the country, I have to find something to do with myself. So I probably try to keep myself too busy and ignore much of the world’s problems. But there is still something to keep my occupied. So I carry on.

The weather has entered an every other week pattern. One week of moisture and one week of mild temperatures. The Greenhouse has been staying pretty even kilter on the thermometer and we have not had to use any heat during the day. The beauty of things growing and blooming is such a bright spot in my day.

The above phot really accents the building technique we used on the grow beds. With the brick walkway and the gernamiums from my sister in full bloom, I called this the perfect “greenhouse Selfie!” It’s one of my favorite phots ever from the Greenfield Greenhouse!

this little checkerboard lapghan is still not complete. The two ends will have a sweater stitch checkerboard pattern also. It just needs to be rectangular to actually work as a lapghan. It was a fun lefties project after my great big C2C blanket.

One of the funny stories from my little grandaughter happened this month. We were stilling at the table and she spied a covweb above the chandelier. “There’s a spider web!” She declared in her two and a half year old matter of fact way. I told her “you’ll have to get your broom and sweep it down.” She replied in her driest Eeyore voice- “Can’t reach!”

It was rather funny. She makes that declaration quite often as she takes after her Hawaiian Great-Grandparents in her height. We won’t mention that her maternal grandma and great-granny are rather short also.

I forgot to trun the above photo before uploading. Oh, well. The Lemon and lime Starburst baby blanket is a real gem. It has no reciepient yet, so I’ll just have store it for a time. The Softee brand baby yarn was perfect for the project. Sometimes I out do myself and then there is not one to appreciate it.

This little pot holder is my plan for the next month. The mosaic them is “Hope” for the world. I think it is befitting a Christmas focus. Though the colors that I found are nothing but Christmas. Sometimes it is nice to have Christmas every day of the year. So I will keep on making them until I am really a professional. Haha

This past month the politcal and civil unrest has kept me from participating in the world’s chaso. But I would say that this picture is proff that the minority wins. The one with the loadest voice is eventually silenced. Either by compromise, appeasement, persecution or execution. I don’t believe in the latter for the above feline, but her cries can be pretty unnerving. So there are days, I just let her come in to shut her up. Autumn was our “car kitty” from two years ago. She and two other gals were shipped away to be fixed earlier this year. I was hoping that she would selttle down agter the affair with the surgeion’s knife. No such luck. She’s still just as loud and obnoxious as ever.

Autumn is proff that perhaps protesting does work. (Even though I firmly believe the opposite.)

And finally, I am attempting another prayer shawl in jsut two colors. “All around the mulberry bush” has been a challenge at times. The red grape and green grape colors are pretty though. The monkey is the skein of yar-if you were wonderdering. The tail is the thread, and the weasel is my crochet hook. I hope I can finish itwithout too many blunders. The mistakes have me putting the project aside quite frequently as I contemplate where I went wrong and what can be done about it.

Forgeveness is my new best “giving” this November. I have been offering up for myself and for others frequently. As Thanksgiving approaches, the season of GIVING arrives with such gratitude for all that we have here in this life. I hope that you will find some time to be giving this season as well. And find it in your heart to lend mercy to another in your life as well.

And now that Thanksgiving is nearly upon me, I’ll probably go and make a few more mistakes. Had to take our a few rows of the Mulberry Bush to fix the pattern blunder. It is much bigger now and almost on the last motif.

The “once indoor” cat continues to scream at the kitchen window to be let inside. I’m not sure what I have done to myself. We spent the day outside again on Sunday trying to create our own mulberry stump rocket stove. I grew impatient and the kettle of water booiled shortly after I came indoors. My hubby used it to put out the fire and we will play again another day.

Well, there went one more month in 2020 with nothing more than a rear view of what blunders i created. Hindsight continues to be lacking in most of the world. People are in such a hurry forward that this time to “slow” down has hardly changed the majority of what people do.

I am okay living a simpler life.

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.

Best of the worst

Or is it the worst of the best?

Some days, my memories take me on journeys. This week while recollecting the days of my second daughter’s arrival into the world, I remembered myself stuck in a lazy boy chair.

There are a lot of memories I could have focused on. The joys, the deep brown eyes of my newborn. The inquisitive nearly two older sister that drove me crazy. The sadness I had to overcome as I put the crying infant into her crib and listened to her settle herself to sleep. I loved rocking my babies, and this one would not have it. So many thoughts tumble through my mind. But the memory that stuck for me was the day I was settled into the lazy boy to nurse the infant and read to the toddler. They both fell asleep. Yay!

Then I realized that part of my cesarean recovery was the inability to use my stomach muscles to kick the chair back down. Now what? And what if I had to go to the bathroom suddenly? The moment is frozen in my brain. The stricken feeling of not being able to move. My two daughters had just become a strap over my legs, arms and stomach. I had never been strong enough to kick the lazy boy down with just my legs anyway. Figure it out-I am a tiny person. So there I say. In the days of no cell phone, no remote next to me, and a sinking sun. They would eventually wake up, right?

That’s my best of the worst of the memories from the days following my second daughter’s entrance to the world. It’s not much to complain about. There are other semi-awful memories. It is no wonder I struggle from mild claustrophobia. Part of me still believes that my mother use to hold me down to get me to sleep. (Though I did have stitches twice and optic surgery once all under the age of five-so I was probably strapped down then.)

Celebrating birthdays of adult children is different than the fancy cakes and family gatherings of yesteryear. As an adult myself, I took to calling my parents on my birthday instead of them calling me. It’s something of a change when leaving home and parents don’t do the grand parade for you anymore. I simply call and state that I am ready for my greeting. There have been a few times the greeting is not given. Oh, well. I am still happy to celebrate another one and be able to call my dad or my mom.

Today was a sad day for some in the family. My sister-in-law will never get a warm hug from her sister this side of Heaven. The week of gathering and mourning is not the end of grief. It will come unexpectedly and often catch us off guard. How do we capture the best of our memories when the worst has finally arrived? Lots of conversation will end in tears and sometimes even in laughter. It is the age old circle of life. Others have done this also.

I think especially of my Grandma Millie. She saw all but one of her sisters buried before it was her time. And she was the oldest and held them all as wee-little ones. Oh, the precious memories of holding babies. So for us, we look forward to two new babies in the family this year. And our church is holding a baby shower for the newest infant in our midst. Babies do help us think futuristically.

And so for the best of the best!

My little 19 month old granddaughter is picking up new words daily. The funniest thing she says right now is telling me the Winnie the Pooh characters. There’s “Pooh, and Owl, and Llelele.” That would be interpreted piglet! This morning with our subzero weather, she wanted to know if I was “cold?” And was “cocoa (the horse) cold?” And the “kitens?” And “Honey (the dog)?” It was almost a conversations. Next thing you know, she’ll be asking me about some family recipe or something!

Okay, I know, life does not march by quite that fast. But knowing that moments of yesteryear have escaped our grasp, today becomes pretty special.

While the COLD wants to snap our noses off, I will keep trying to think of the best of the best, Leaving the worst of the worst for it’s own moment in time.

Here’s a sample of what the fingers have been busy doing lately. I purchased a basket that I just had to have, and then tried to make one like it. Now, I know that I can do this, there will probably be more. I was not super pleased about the color that I had to practice with, but it is still functional!

What next?

The crochet hook moves on…

Perhaps switching to a different thread number for crochet was not such a good idea. Especially since now the newest doily that I finished did not fit on the blocking wheel that I have. The thought never occurred to me that the doily once complete would be too large for the board. Now what?

Maybe I need a bigger blocking board.

Maybe I should quit doing doilies for a time.

Perhaps, it’s better off not mentioned that I made so many mistakes in the pattern. I am not exactly pleased with my failure on this project. Not sure why counting has becoem such a difficult thing. Distraction seems to lurk around every bend.

So this past week I comforted myself under the lightweight log cabin afghan. It’s super easy design and double crochet stitch let me watch another movie or two. I also began a very riveting English murder mystery in my Talking Book Listening. I am fascinated that all the best murder mysteries happen in London or such. It must be the language difficulty, I mean the difficulty of listening to that broken tongue that keeps us so befuddled. The Lap-Ghan turned out very warm and cozy. And now it’s time to get some other loose yarn projects cleaned up around here. The next log cabin lap-ghan will be of a much better color scheme.

These two little hats, well, actually they are too large for my head, did not take more than a few hours. Making a warm stoking hat at the onset of winter wonderland weather is always fun. They turned out quite charming. The lefties of yarn can really make an adorable project if I can plan it properly. The prime colors hat has a new rib stitch that I learned one day while crocheting away on the lap-ghan.

The move that I watched this week of some report was found on Amazon primes kid friendly and family genre. “33 Postcards” turned out to be quite the tear jerker. Needless to say I watched it the one day the moisture was up to 89% and the drizzle made my nose drop incessantly inspite of the sad/happy film. The idea that just having sponsored a child in an orphanage could change the heart of a prison inmate was quite distracting to my stitch counting.

Perhaps there are more yarn projects buried away in the cabinets and baskets than I imagined. The ideas keep coming. The season marches on towards the holiday run. With family gatherings, food preparations, and decorating, who knows what crochet hooks will be kept occupied at this house. The days the phone rings and I am called away from the monotony of endless hook movements is perfectly alright by me. Somedays I make the calls myself and put them on speaker phone so that my fingers can stay busy. Other days I force myself out of the easy chair and clean up the house after the dog just to get some exercise.

Can’t wait for the warmer sunny day to use one of those hats and take a walk!

Un-writing

141: Cobwebs and mudpies

The last two months have been full. Full of many things that seem so inappropriate for this journal. I have struggled with writing. Un-writing much of what I have put into type. Then leaving my written words for weeks on end. I wondered if perhaps I have truly hit the brick wall of writters block. Perhaps I just do not have any thing worth sharing.

How can I share without revealing the turmoil that exists in my mind and in my heart? How can I tell the goings on without hurting people’s feelings? There is so much of the family happenings in the last two months that would be something like an “enquirer’s” edition that I simply have not written anything.

We gathered to celebrate milestones in the last two months several times. They were both happy celebrations and treading in deep waters for me. So much of the experiences were good, I did not want to cast any shadows upon the joy. But beneath ever bright light lies some dark shadows that are cast by those standing within the light.

While on earth, we cannot avoid the shadows. But hiding in the shadows is not good either. So I am trying to get out of the dark corners and observe the light.

(The yarn in this study was self spun. Not very well, I might add. The pattern is the crochet spider stitch. It seemed appropriate for the day.)

Cobwebs lurk in the corners and in the places untraveled. Crossing the yard in the early fall, the webs would grasp me frequently. But when in real life, the little strings don’t have much pull on our largess. It is the cobwebs in the mind that tend to weigh us down and drag us back to be snared in the trap.

Fighting those traps is a big job. And it has kept me busy.

One day just as the clouds rolled in the rain began to spatter the window, once again, the tears just began to roll down my face. This year has had way too many rainy and cloudly days for my liking. Being allergic to the rainy, wet, mildewey environment has made me keep my inhalers far too handy. This alone makes me want to sling mud pies and the clouds and tell the darkness to flee.

But alas! I am not Jesus. My words do not have power over the storm that rages in the clouds or in the sky. But I can use the words of Jesus to cast our the sticky matter that wants to muddle up my thoughts. Only His words of promise and love can sweep the corners clean and give me a new focus for the day.

Meanwhile, the leaves have fallen and there are fall kittens to watch out for. Three of them are the summer ones from a neighbor. The other four or five belong to Autumn, the calico cat that came last fall to our place in the vehicle’s “magic car-pet!” Of course, she would have fall kittens. Her name is Autumn. Their eyes opened last week and now they are cute. Until then, I think they look like mice or something worse.

The horse is our of grass in his yard and keeps escaping to help himself to the yard’s greenery. But no worries, he knows how and when to go back home. He puts himself away behind the electric wire just before Gavin gets home from work. And so far he has not come too close to the house.

Honey has more days at doggie camp that are on one hand to count. She gets so happy when we turn into the camp’s facility and we have not told her that she gets to go play. Perhaps this socialization will make her a better doggie. Perhaps.

My granddaughter is exerting “will” these days. The challenge is for the adults to have more will and the power of persuasion over her. Ahh, but the rest of the times are such fun as she learns new words, new ideas, new challenges.

(The above picture is the new blanket poncho displayed on the mirror in the freshly repainted and redecorated.)

Crochet kept me busy listening to books. I can’t even remember how many the Talking Book Library has read to me this last month or so. Every once and a while I insert a movie. I have some reviews to do but quite a few of them I already trashed in my draft-logue. So much for the un-writing.

The spare bedroom got a new coat of paint two weeks ago. We used the whole One Coat Covers gallon the walls. It took us four times to get the mint green covered with the vanilla scone. These color names today are way to vast. And I found out that just because they say no scent, does not mean that I can’t smell it. I wore a mask through much of the job as if just seemed the argon in the room depleated each time I opened the jug. I am just fine with the other smell.

Another runner’s story

What kind of mean joke is this?

Today has been one of those “Stuck in a muck” kind of days. You know when there is a list of things to do, and no matter how hard you try distraction keeps winning. The small chores are all done and the big ones remain untouched. This is the third time I have sat in the office / library with a goal in mind- WRITE SOMETHING!

I tried keeping to my home pattern schedule. Chores, dishes, cleaning, pets, exercise, lists, reading, visits, coffee moments. Each time I tried to go write, I fell flat. Dead space, dry air, empty thoughts. Some days, and most Mondays are my day to recover from the weekend. And that is what I have been doing.

So I popped another new book in the Talking Book Library. It’s about a runner. What kind of sick joke is this? I am plagued by them. Does God not know how much I would rather be fit and happy, then puffing on a plastic flexy tube filled with medicine for my bronchial tubes. This is just mean. But rather than get angry at the lack of concidence in these stories I will try to look for the lesson outside of the stupid marathoners. Really what is the percentage of people that actually love running?

In my family from the parents to siblings and extended spouses, there are about fifty people total if we add up all of my husbands family, and my family. Of all those only five of these people that I know of talk about running, lobe running, or sign up for charitable running functions. That would 10%. Then if I add up those with breathing issues that prevent such stressful exercise, there are at least as many prevented fromactually running. Why should I get three books in a row about runners then.

Just a moment of diversion.

While I really enjoy a good long therapy walk, running has only entered my thoughts a few times. I just can not seem to keep breathing when everything in me is being pounded through my heels into the pavement. Forget the running thing. Walking, now that’s at least normal. For me. Not for my dog. She wants to run everywhere.

So i am listening to the story and find that most stories are marked by how the main character handles grief and loss. Well, I really don’t want to go down that road today. So for me I’ll keep handling the loss of my “abilities” due to my failing eyesight, by being a stuck in the muck. Sitting and crocheting seems to work for now.

And typing out my thoughts as fast as I think them still seems to work also.

The sun is trying to shine. I made it through another rainy miserable humid asthma day. No running here.

Beforre

“Well you know you have to start somewhere.”

It’s like, okay, the idea is hear, now what? I spent all day on the clean up projects. Pulling out the paper tools, tablets, and binders that I have saved over the years. Yet I still feel like something is missing. What did I do with that list?

Cleaning up the Library is my next project. I am a bit of an old=school writer. I need my paper journals, my pens, my sticky notes and a good whiteboard. The ideas in my brain don’t just jump out and land on the screen in front of me. Even some scrap paper and some sharpie pens are helpful.

So I made a list of the women who as widows gave their hearts to me. And believe it or not there were a few men in the list too. Men sometimes get over the hurt faster by sharing those last years with yet another lonely heart. Sometimes the romances end up in another marriage like in the case of my husband’s Aunt Mabel. She and Arnie were so cute.

Next I decided to pick a few people today whose lives exemplify the biblical widows like Anna. People who spend there time in prayer, in church, in service, and in loving their families. Four of these people I sent hand written letters to invite them into my project. Hopefully they will say yes to my interview.

I also started doing my homework on the first chapter. Not telling much, but believe it or not those newspaper microfiche pages are horribly small. And yes I even went to some online cemetery maps. Talk about digging up old bones. Those things are kind of little too.

Today the library is swept out and the pieces not helpful to me will be removed. We will also have to move some shelving around. But dear hubby is busy trying to find all of his little pieces of paper for out tax appointment this afternoon. We will stop at Walmart and get me a few cases of pens. Picking up a pen that is empty really hampers the flow of these inky thoughts!

Then this evening we can put my writing world in order. I hope my kid does not want her stereo anytime soon. I think I want a radio in there to keep me attuned to the world while I work. Who knows I’ll probably do my best writing on the new loveseat recliner we purchased at the start of the New Year.

Now that I have bored you with the plan of action. Here is some fun things that I found while cleaning out the desk. The first four female characters have no real inspired person. However the bottom right male caricature is of a friend of ours from our Minnesota years. Perhaps there can be a caricature for each of the people that I share in my series “After.”

With what measure

Beginning again

One week into the new year I tried to write this post. Then several days went by with much distraction and a nasty nasal infection. Another week went by while my mind tried to make sense of it all. The more I find other things to do and the less time I spend writing, the more it seems that nothing makes sense.

Each year I choose a verse to focus on either in my prayer concerns for others, or in my own life and the way that I try to live out the gospel. The verse that I chose to focus on for the year has been written on the black board. A few years back someone gave me a little chalk snowman message board. The dust of the chalk tickles my nose so much, that I chose to use it to place my vision verse for the year. Last year it held the verse from Luke 1:37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

What impossible things did I see God do last year? The most obvious was my daughter finding love and getting married. We also saw several babies in the extended family enter our world. My nephew and his family moved back to be near family and had many God moments including brain surgery. The most exciting impossible to me was that my husband began exercising and lost 35 pounds las year! Wow.

(And of course, because I made a new year’s resolution to write “no matter what” now I have a head cold that settled in my face and is making it both difficult to read, and focus on the task- I think I used one half the box of tissues already this hour!)

This year the verse that seemed to stick was Matthew 7:2b “And with what measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” The passage is the most familiar “Judgement standard” that most people look to in their decision on accusation of another’s lifestyle. However, I am choosing to take the passage into it’s entire context and consider another option. Generosity. Giving.

Later in the same sermon on the mount Christ Jesus admonishes that how much we forgive is just how much the Father will forgive us. This si not a concept often discussed. The Lord’s prayer that everyone is so familiar with is followed by a controversial suggestion that I have never heard a Sunday message about. Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” NKJV

No one in all of my years as a Christian has taught the concept of “conditional forgiveness.” The whole of Christian teaching that I ever received did not include this verse. Pastor’s throughout my life have preached free grace, free will, unconditional everlasting love. But no one taught me this. A little bit of youtube study found me watching veggie tales and the “grapes of wrath” video about forgiveness. I found it a bit lacking in solid faith concepts and hope that my family does not think it is the best source for any theological studies.

What I know about this “measurement” of forgiveness is this”. Knowing how much God has forgiven me, gives me an unmeasurable amount of forgiveness for others. God’s mercy is vast and deep towards me and my measurement towards others ought to be bottomless. Seventy times seven is not even the measurement we should use, but rather seventy to the seventh power which is more like 825,430,000,000. If it’s been awhile since you have done math like that, the number is 825 Billion!

Whoa! That seems impossible, but with God remember all things are possible.

So now that I have had my soap box moment, what other measures will I be making this year? The above prayer shawl has been warming my shoulders lately as count how many there are in the box that need to find a new home. Three hugs will be passed out at some point. Meanwhile two others have begun.

Beginning again…

The newest prayer shawls have some old patterns revisited. Finding a new pattern is part of my goal for the year. The apache tears prayer shawl pattern was used for five shawls last year. Using the spider stitch has also been fun. It’s much easier to spend time in prayer when I don’t have to think too hard on the pattern I am using.

The new year has is about starting over. The new day is about starting over. Sometimes taking a project that was nearly complete and starting all over is just the “beginning again” that I need to keep me going. What other work could I do that does not require me to throw it away and start all over? I like taking and old item and making it new.

There are three colors in the above shawl that are recycled yarns from some other project that was pulled apart and made new. This type of resourcefulness is measuring and remeasuring and pouring one valued item into another.

Being several weeks into the new year and finally touching up this writing has made me a bit disappointed in myself. The measuring stick I put up for me has once again found me lacking. Not enough of my “performance” to measure up to my own expectation. Forgiving myself seems to be the theme for the year already.

Rather than putting up a judgement standard for myself and others, I hope to measure out generous amounts of forgiveness. Pour out pitchers of love and kindness and remember that with what measure I give it will be measured back in full.

Note the ladybug measuring cups were part of my daughter’s bachelorette party pottery painting. They were so cute I had to use them as part of my thought process writing!