Monday, December 31, 2007
Here we are on the last afternoon of 2007! The eve of a New Year is a special time for our family as we reflect on the many blessings of the past year and make goals and plans for the coming year. We always enjoying making our plans, fully realizing that our lives are in God's hands and our plans are subject to change! It is good to make goals - after all 'aim at nothing and you are sure to hit it' has been a theme oft repeated in my growing up years. We like to look at character goals and see how much progress we can see in an area of former weakness. For example, last year at this time, one of our children, who shall remain nameless, was really struggling with untruthfulness, and this year we see such an improvement in that area. It is so very encouraging to see our children grow and mature, but we also make these types of character goals for ourselves, since we are still in the process of maturing to be more like Christ, even in our 'advanced years'!
We also make goals for home improvements and personal goals as well, but keeping them within reason and making sure they are 'do-able' encourages us to actually achieve our stated goals and enjoy the feeling of success that brings. I think it is great to aim for something that you know is within reach, rather than make unreasonable goals, which always end up just being a waste of time for me!
I am planning to re-vamp my spring cleaning plan this year and get started a little earlier since I now know that spring comes quickly to our little corner of the mid-west and the garden calls me out doors just as soon as the soil begins to warm. The past two springs have found me trying to clean the house from stem to stern, clean up the garden, plant, and finish the school semester with the children - a bit too much at once. This year we are also hoping to get a bit more systematic with our family Scripture reading and memorizing, since the business of health issues in the fall sort of side tracked that goal. I've decided not feel guilty about that small failure - just pick up where we left off and go forward.
Our community 'First Night' celebration has been canceled due to lack of volunteers, which is a real shame since we throughly enjoyed the celebration in past years. We thought about renting a fun video but our t.v. which was my grandfather's for a number of years before we inherited it, has finally died, and our van is experiencing transmission trouble! My parents are here for a visit, which is wonderful, but I feel badly that everything is on the fritz just now! We will be making our own fun for New Year's Eve - perhaps pull some taffy, play some games and stay up late before praying in the New Year and going to bed. We're not big party people, but if all of our water problems hadn't occurred just before Christmas, we might have had a few friends in for the occasion. As it is, we are still in a bit of a mess and are looking forward to having everything put back in it's place. The flooring in our utility closet must be replaced which involves lifting the furnace - a big job to say the least! The furnace is currently working, but it is 'on the lean' as the flooring's integrity has been compromised.
The first few weeks of the New Year will be busy with doctor's appointments for me, and the resuming of regular activities. I am also looking through recipe books and planning to try out at least one new recipe each week, as I do every January. Last years picks resulted in a few new family favorites, so I hope I am as successful this year. I was rather hit and miss last January, because of my health, but I spread the weeks out and thus made my goal of trying new things more achievable, which was a blessing!
I've just pulled some fresh bread from the oven, and need to run a loaf over to Mr. Neighbor while it is still warm. Tonight dinner is simple grilled chicken salad with and fresh bread - since we will be snacking later on cheese ball and shrimp, I am sure a light supper will be appreciated.
I do hope that your New Year is a time of learning and growth, that your trials strengthen your relationship with God, and that above all you know the deep and abiding joy of walking with God day by day - come what may. Peace and happiness to you my friends!
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Last night before bed I was attempting to tidy up the kitchen counter a bit when my eyes fell on the sales circulars for today. The 'Get What You Really Wanted' sale ads just blew me away. Stores are capitalizing on our dissatisfaction with the gifts we received for Christmas and encouraging the idea that we are entitled to have 'what we really wanted' for Christmas. It's so sad, and yet today the stores will be filled with customers taking back gifts, not because they don't fit, but because it wasn't what they really wanted - or just to get the cash. It's no wonder that people are discouraged from buying gifts for others - knowing that it will be exchanged, re-gifted, or end up at Goodwill is enough to make anyone feel like Scrooge. Even the whole gift card thing is a waste since something like 1/3 of them will never be redeemed. It's a shame.
It's all about expectations and building them up beyond all reality. It's also about people driving themselves crazy to meet those unrealistic expectations. I ran to the grocery store quickly the other day to get a few things I knew we would need over Christmas. It was crazy busy and the shelves were often bare or almost bare. Everyone was in a hurry and grim faces greeted me at every turn. Exhaustion and stress were in the air and there was no time for the pleasantries. I was in a long line for the check out and gave a bright smile to the lady behind me. She scowled and swore at me, asking what I had to be smiling about and generally insulting and belittling my beliefs as I briefly shared the joy of Christmas for Believers with her. It made me really sad to hear her tirade, but as I've reflected more on what she said, I feel more sorry for her than anything. She was totally stressed about finding just the right gifts, preparing just the right meal and having her home ready for the holidays. She was racking her brain to think of something to give to that hard to buy for husband, and knew that most of what she chose would just be taken back or sit on a shelf, never to be used. While I didn't appreciate her coarse language or the personal insults she lavished on me, I understood her feeling of pushing herself to make an effort knowing that is was probably not going to be appreciated. Christmas just doesn't make sense without Christ.
My husband asked me about a month ago if I really wanted diamonds for Christmas. I laughed and asked him where he got that idea from. He mentioned that all of the t.v. ads, radio commercials, and newspaper fliers were insisiting that every woman needs a diamond for Christmas in order to be truly happy and satisfied. He felt like the advertisers were saying that any other gift would be woefully inadequate. The thing is, while that may be true for some women, it isn't true for me. I have a beautiful diamond on my left hand and I am more than satisfied with it. In this season of my life, practical and useful gifts are very appreciated. I love pretty things, but I I like it best when something I use everyday is both pretty and practical, and I personally don't appreciate spending a great deal of money on something that is just purely for looks. That's just me. I wasn't expecting diamonds, so I wasn't unhappy with the thoughtful gifts my family selected for me - in fact, I was very happy with everything!
I remember as I child a Christmas when my teacher at school had us make a long list for 'Santa' as a writing exercise. She has us 'dream big' and make a really extensive, specific list of our wants and wishes. We brought in the Sears 'Wish Book' and poured over it for hours writing down exactly what we wanted. I got an "A+" on my creative writing assignment. That was the first Christmas that I wasn't satisfied with what I got for Christmas. I was 11 and I remember going to my bedroom and crying great tears of disappointment. Once I had written down my long list of wants, I began to feel like anything less than the sum total of the list was inadequate. My expectations were high, but the reality was it wouldn't have been good for me to get everything I wanted, and my parents knew that. I remember my mum coming into my room and talking about how I felt. She helped me to look at what I had been given with a grateful heart and encouraged me to be content with what I had. I remember leaving my bedroom and going back to the tree and carefully looking over each thing and deciding to enjoy the gifts I'd received - and I did!
A gift is a gift. It is not something we earn, deserve or have a right to. It is not something that we should be critical of or be ungrateful for. Whether it is for Christmas or any other special occasion, we need to have grateful hearts. It all boils down to contentment - knowing that no THING is going to bring peace and satisfaction to our hearts - despite what the advertisers are constantly trying to tells us! Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and for ever - He is the One who fills our hearts with JOY!
Our children are good examples to me. They woke up very early yesterday morning and were excited about opening their stockings in their rooms. Everything they opened was exclaimed over and chatted about. I over heard 'Wow sister, look at this!' and 'Look brother, isn't this nice!' over and over again. Every gift had to be brought in to their half asleep Daddy to show him (even though he had wrapped them all and stuffed their stockings!), and it's virtues were extolled! They only had time to open a few gifts before we went to our friends for a lovely Christmas dinner, but they were happy with that. When we got back home and finished opening their gifts at 7 pm we got big hugs and exclamations of 'thank you - I love it' and 'we're so blessed'! I pray that they will always be so easily satisfied with the simple things in life.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
I am popping in briefly to wish you all a very blessed Christmas! I pray that the joy of this season of celebration will warm your hearts and draw you closer to the God who chose to send these good tidings to a group of solitary shepherds on a hillside 2000 years ago!
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
He is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign to you:
You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven,
the shepherds said to one another,
"Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened,
which the Lord has told us about."
and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
If this has been a season of stress, anxiety, frenzied activity and overcommitment for you, I pray that you will take some time to rest and reflect on the wonder of the Messiah and His presence in your every day life. There is great peace in knowing that 'He is Christ, my Lord.'
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Prairie style living is not for the faint of heart. I wouldn't know, really, but if our minor inconvenience of no hot water for three days is any indication, I most likely would not have survived, let alone thrived in those covered wagon days. The west would not have been settled by the likes of me! These are some things I have learned about water leaks and broken hot water tanks and making do with cold water.
- Take a deep breath and pray. In the eternal scheme of things, it is only a house, only a bunch of messed up stuff, and only money; nothing that will last beyond this life. Why waste time in worry? God is still in control.
- Call your insurance adjuster - they really know what they are talking about and they can point out things about what may be lurking under the carpet or behind the walls that you had no idea about.
- It is often worse than it first appears and will go way beyond your deductible to repair, so it's worth making a claim.
- When there is water there is mold, fungi and other foul odors. Shiver!
- Pulling up carpet is a major revelation. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!
- Wet under padding is worse smelling than a football locker or hockey equipment bag. Hold your nose ladies! It is also very heavy.
- Being cheerful and somewhat calm when 1 Adjuster, 1 Plumber, 1 Plumbers wife, 2 Water extraction men, 1 Ironing friend, 3 Extra children expecting a cookie baking party and 1 Friend's helpful husband ( trying to replace a dead battery in the van and point out the almost flat tire) are all in your house at once can lead to opportunities to share the Hope of faith in Jesus Christ.
- Be ready with an answer for the Hope that is in you 'in season and out of season' - simply because your brain may not be fully functioning at the time you have an opportunity!
- If you sometimes feel very cut off from the world and wonder what kind of light you are being to those around, pray that God will bring people into your life to be a light for.
- Remember to pray for a little spacing in those witnessing opportunities. All in one day can be a bit taxing. The light can get pretty dim by 5 o'clock.
- Water from a 175' deep well is icy cold in winter.
- It takes every large pot and kettle of boiling water to take 'the chill off' of bath water for the children. Rinsing in cool water makes for shiny hair. Rinsing in water straight from the well makes for screaming children, instant blinding head aches and at least two hours of warm up time. Brrrrrrr!
- Ice cold showers are just as awful as ice cold baths.
- Don't try to shave your legs in ice water - you'll just slice off the goosebumps! If you don't follow this advice, have Band-aids ready - lots of them!
- Waking up knowing that the water is not any warmer today than it was yesterday is enough to make you roll over and go back to sleep.
- When your dear sweet husband offers to take you all to a hotel with a pool and hot running water - say YES!!!! When he tries to entice you with endless HGTV and a whirlpool bath tub, give in. Don't be stubborn like me!
- Watching your husband wash the dishes all by hand is a thing of beauty. Acts of love and service are always a thing of beauty to me.
- Keep smiling. Life will resume normalcy shortly - this is but a minor bump on the highway of life. Keep on counting your blessings.
We made a quick decision based on our research and chose the Rinnai water system and it is too be installed tomorrow - it will be an all day kind of thing, and we won't have any water at all for a good part of the day, so I am planning ahead tonight and hoping that all will go well.
Some gals will be getting diamonds for Christmas this year, but this happy Momma will be enjoying a nice hot bath and endless hot water! Ahhhhhhh!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
The puddle was under the 'bun' foot of the couch, so my husband got out the little green machine and cleaned up the spot and rid the carpet of the foul odor and got it mostly dry. We were all set to put the couch back a few days later when we noticed it was wet again. We were thinking a leaking roof, a burst pipe in the wall or something ... but that was as far as we got. Somehow life just hasn't been about finding the source of the spot - it been about healing and catching up, and a wee few Christmas surprises in the making!
Tonight my husband began investigating .... the culprit? An ancient hot water tank .... leaking! UGH!!!! Do you remember when our children were plotting the imminent demise of the only non-energy star compliant appliance in the house? Well, I really didn't hope for it to go out just now, but I guess it was inevitable! Now we need to shop for a new hot water heater and we are considering the tankless hot water on demand variety. Any thoughts? My husband has heard really good things about the Rinnai. We plan on being in this house for quite a while I guess, so we might as well get something that will save money in the long run - and if we move, I'm sure the next owners will appreciate our investment - or not!
So .... the gas is turned off, the tank is drained and we have no hot water! Showering is going to be such a thrill in the morning!!!! I've been really pale for the last two weeks - now I'll be pale blue!
Monday, December 17, 2007
Brenda at Coffee Tea Books and Me held a contest for an extra copy of this lovely book and I was the winner! I am so delighted - and surprised! I am not generally the 'winner' of any type of contest or draw. Thank you so very much Brenda - I look forward to 'A Return to Sunday Dinner' - it looks lovely! This book was on my list to look for at the library - how fun to have a copy all to my self!
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Here in our little corner of the Midwest we are enjoying a taste of winter. This morning when we awakened we saw bare trees, green grass and lots of beautiful Cardinals at the bird feeders. Within an hour the snows began - I guess the 'weather event' scheduled by out weather experts was a bit later than expected. All day long the snow has fallen, and we have enjoyed a snug 'at home' day as a family. No time pressures or essential things needing to be done.
The Historian ran out for a few staples before the storm became earnest and we are snug and set. We have our weather emergency preparations made and now we just have to sit back and enjoy. We made some treats for the birds with bird seed, bacon fat and peanut butter melted together and poured into grapefruit halves. It was based on one of the great ideas Kelli shared last month in Seasonal Delights and we really had a good time doing it! Our ingredients were a bit different since we just used what we had on hand!
I also caught up on my mending today which had pretty much taken over my sewing table. You would think I was the only one who could repair an injured bear or put on a button around here! That being done, I started messing around making a simple tea cozy. I have this awesome software for my sewing machine that makes cute tea cups, but I have never used it (shamefaced). My first attempt was too big and tall, so I'll have to get back to the drawing board. I don't have a pattern or dimensions, but I remember my Nanny having one that she knit where the spout and handle stuck out - I'm trying for a fabric version. Once I figure out the pattern in scraps I have some lovely old English linen that will look nice with an embroidered design I think!
Tonight I hope to make some simple jammies for our boy - he is so long in the back and getting a bit pudgy around the middle all of the sudden. His p.j. tops don't meet his p.j. bottoms and his back is all cold and exposed in the morning! I'm glad I have some nice cozy flannel on hand and time to go into jammie production. They usually only take an hour to make when I use nice cotton ribbing around the neck, cuffs and ankles.
The Dreamer and I went over to Mr.Neighbors and she shoveled off his stoop and a path to his garage. It is very slick, so I hope he stays indoors until his 'man' comes and clears his drive. Our snowblower is back in the shop - not great timing! They said it was fixed the last time, but something wasn't right. It wouldn't start and gas was leaking all over the place. This snow will probably melt before we get it back again!
Our pastor canceled church for tomorrow so we are set for a morning of home church and lazing about. The Historian has prepared a message, Dreamer is going to 'do' Sunday School, the Storyteller will undoubtedly 'help' and take over the music department, and I have the
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Late Friday afternoon I got a call from the vein clinic - they had an approval for my surgery from our insurance company, and a cancellation! Thank you, Lord!!! I'll take it! When I answered in the 'affirmative!' the girl sounded really surprised! She mentioned that everyone is too busy right now with the holiday's to have surgery - I wasn't the first on on her list to call, and everyone else had flatly refused. Perhaps they were wiser than I, but I am in enough discomfort to just want to get it over and done with!
I'm beginning to feel like an old car that is in need of major service - no simple tune-up and an oil change here - nothing but a complete overhaul will do for this model - I've got warning lights going off all over the place! Maintenance Required! Check Oil! Engine Light! Overheating! New Tires! Valve Job! I haven't abused this vehicle, and yet I'm facing multiple problems. For a 'clean living' woman, I am beginning to feel a bit like King David did in Psalm 73! Yet I can see that I don't need to dispare - and I can say with David " ... it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works."
I am glad to be moving forward and getting one thing checked off the list! This means I have to get organized - FAST!!!!!
I want to have the house decorated inside - one room at least, so that I have pretty Christmas things to lift my spirits during my enforced lolly gagging! I'll need to put a few meals in the freezer and make sure there are enough fresh things for The Dreamer to make simple lunches and start supper. I'm glad we have taken the time to train her in the kitchen - I think she will be delighted to help out while I'm down - I hope so!
I need to make sure we have enough schoolwork ready to keep everyone busy, and some reading and handwork for me. I guess I'll be finishing up my Christmas preparation with some online shopping and hopefully, I'll be able to get some sewing done too! I need to make some calls and rearrange some other appointments that we had scheduled for Wednesday, so I have a few busy days ahead. I am praying for clear thinking and proper prioritizing!
We can see God's hand in the timing of this, since hopefully I will be sufficiently recovered and able to travel to my parents for Christmas - at least that's my prayer! I have heard that after recovery my legs will be more comfortable and with the improved circulation, they will feel less 'heavy' and tired! What a blessing that will be! I don't even care about how ugly my veins look, really, but I can't remember a time when they didn't feel tired and sore.
So, I have so much to be thankful for, don't I? God is good, and in His time He is working out His plan carefully and purposefully. I have veins to think about so my mind isn't absorbed with worry about the upcoming mammogram and possible outcomes - it's a blessing in disguise!