Thursday, June 30, 2011

this week

Monday afternoon we had an absolutely delightful thunderstorm. I was actually caught up on housework so grabbed a book and stretched out to read. And then the ceiling shook. Badly. And our smoke detector that has not worked for several (umm...wow...years) started going off. And the lights flickered/popped. When all was said and done, we lost our answering machine and two landline phones, my external hard drive and part of my sanity.
After spending 1.5 hours on the phone with AT&T, replacing a cord, spending an entire DAY copying files that I had not got around to backing up yet, and finalizing some design work that needed to be done soon, I made it to Best Buy today. Turns out AT&T was wrong. There was nothing wrong with our computer, nor the internet card. There was one setting that re-installed itself, and it worked fine. My hard drive...we were able to salvage its guts (and yes Richpo the Magnificent, if you're reading this, I realize that's not the techie term for it). I did have to purchase a new skin for it, but all its contents are now safe at home on my desk, still in their new box.
So we now have internet (after a brief and frustrating experience of the computer not wanting to recognize the keyboard so I could re-login to everything!), and I am so very thankful that we didn't have to get a new computer or send this one off for a month again while we wait for repairs. I had actually entertained the possibility if we had to replace our black and silver monster, then perhaps it was time to disconnect from the world. And that is an interesting and perplexing thought indeed. I'll save those ponderings for another day. Meanwhile, it's good to be viral. :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

popular weekends

Have you ever noticed that when you want to do something, it happens the exact same weekend of something else you want to do?
For example: the weekend of July 14-16, our first "free" weekend in a while
Kids Exchange (a consignment sale) at the Fairgrounds
Coin & Stamp Show
Barrell Racing
"This Day Forward" in Valdese


It's as if someone makes up a list of all the things we might be interested in, and plops them down on the calendar for the same weekend. Realistically, everyone probably just looks at things the same way (it's the first available weekend after the holiday, it's the last weekend before year-round schools have totally kicked into gear for the new year, and well, it's summer).

Does anyone else have a hard time planning a vacation around events, activities, work, and church?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

when people make me crazy

It's not hard to make my blood boil. It's really not even that difficult to aggravate me. And unfortunately for me, we've officially entered the crazy season.  It starts small - people I don't know stopping and asking if they can hunt/fish and continuously badgering when I say no, but then it begins to escalate. Like this:
  • You don't have church one Wed/Sun night (or stay home sick) and find people parking in your driveway or traipsing through your yard to the pond because they think you're away at church.
  • People hide their cars behind houses up for sale and walk through the weeds in the nearby field, then cut across the dam, so they're not "on" your property.
  • They're not going to fish at your pond, but are hiking to the other one. 
  • And when you tell them they don't have permission to be at the other pond, they respond "The man who lives there gave us permission." (Um, news flash, Bobby's mom, who is a widow, doesn't grant permission, either; and even if she did, she'd tell them to drive through HER yard, not ours which is a mile walk at least from that pond).
  • You see me, or my husband, come outside to talk with you, and you take off running.
  • You give my husband the finger when you leave.
  • You scratch off in your car, slinging gravel from the dirt road everywhere.
  • And the ultimate kicker (from the teenage couple swinging on my swing): we didn't know this was anyone's property.
And people wonder why I'm not always thrilled to have a pond behind my house.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

first of the season

Last night the first catfish large enough to spend time cleaning was caught. 3lbs, 14 oz.
Congratulations, Jacob!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

hogwash

I'm a tad irate this morning.
Reading the newspaper can sometimes do that for me.

I understand that throughout life there will be things we change our minds about.
Our opinions modify with maturity, experience, feelings, education, and sometimes even through stupidity.
But just because I change my mind about an idea, or philosophy, or a political candidate, or belief, does not make me brainwashed, sick, brain-damaged or incompetent. It simply means I changed my mind. Perhaps I recognized I was wrong. And if that's the case, then I've learned something.

It is so bizarre to me that people will call themselves "recovering Evangelicals" as if a belief system is an illness. Being an Evangelical simply means that you have a set system of beliefs that influence how you live. It's called a worldview. Everyone has a worldview, even atheists. Atheists who become a believer of any religion do not refer to themselves as "recovering atheists". You recover from an illness. You change your mind about your beliefs or ways of living. Perhaps there's the rub. If beliefs are an illness, then the no-longer believing believer doesn't have to admit that a) they changed their mind, b) they were WRONG (gasp!) or c) they were stupid, naive, unthinking or whatever else the case might be, to be swallowed up by such shallow or convoluted thinking. BUT, if such a previously-held belief was the result of brain-washing (and what does that say about you to begin with?), then it's an illness, and it's not your fault

You don't recover from a faith. You simply stop believing parts or all of it. It's that simple.

Monday, June 20, 2011

book review

For Christmas one of the books I asked for was Entertaining Angels: Stories and Ideas for Opening Your Heart and Home by Annie Chapman and Heidi Chapman Beall

Some of the things I liked about this book:
  1. She addresses up front the cost of hospitality. It's not easy. It takes time. It uses up resources, both financial, emotional, and time. She uses a lot of different Scriptural passages to address all of these areas, from David's statement that he wouldn't offer anything to the Lord if it cost him nothing (II Sam. 24:24), as well as a quote from a preacher that "Some of you want to take authority over demons and devils and yet you haven't even taken authority over the dirty dishes in your sink or the piles of laundry waiting to be washed."  Diligence and perseverance in the little things enable us to serve in greater things.
  2. She includes a lot of simply recipes (and most of them we've had in our Apples of Gold meetings from church!)
  3. She addresses areas of hospitality we often ignore: meals and assistance to the sick, gestures of thoughtfulness to those grieving, activities to and for her children and their peers, welcoming guests, among others
  4. She's honest. She talks about times she failed to be a great, or even good hostess, as well as some times she didn't exercise wisdom in her younger years in attempting to be a good host and entertain strangers.
What I didn't like:
  1. There's nothing biblical equating hospitality with frills. I don't think we need to use our best dishes and have everything perfect to be hospitable. Her advice to get help if needed, (hire help, which isn't an option for many cash-strapped Christians), almost runs amok to Christ's rebuke of Martha for asking Mary to help while she was "fellowshipping".
  2. While she readily admits some areas put her out of her comfort zone, I'm not totally convinced of the wisdom in stepping out of comfort zones. From personal experience, stepping out of comfort zones can sometimes cause more harm than good. I'm not so certain that we should waste time attempting to develop gifts we don't have when God has enabled us in other areas. Don't get me wrong. I think God can use us mightily when we're forced to depend on Him for strength, but I've seen too many situations where people have tried to make things happen and ended up doing more harm than good.
  3. Following a command of Christ, such as showing hospitality, is not a reason to be stupid. I think we should feed the hungry and help the homeless, but I'm not going to go invite people off the street into my home for Thanksgiving dinner or to spend the night.

Sometimes I wondered if in attempts to make this book a little thicker she was stretching to add things under the hospitality umbrella. And I would have liked to have seen a more common-sense, practical how-to instead of personal stories that most people can't or won't replicate. The book's an interesting read, but I don't know that it's one I'll keep long-term.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

eating my elephants

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time!

Many times when I over-commit to things, then regular life (laundry, housework, etc) gets thrown on the back burner. By the time I've fulfilled my obligations, I'm not only tired, but I'm also a tad overwhelmed with conquering the jungle that surrounds me.

One of the local quilt shops has a quote they put on their monthly newsletter and weekly e-flyer: Quilt thirty minutes a day and you'll not only get your projects done, but you'll be healthier and happier!

I don't know about the healthier part, but I am finding if I tackle things in small increments I am more willing to face them and seem to get a lot more accomplished. Sometimes I wind up working much longer than my allotted one hour or thirty minutes, but that's okay. It's nice to see things slowly coming together (or in the case of my ironing pile, slowly shrinking!) or becoming more organized. 

And, I'm learning to take things one bite at a time. :) While cleaning my art/sewing room, which requires re-organizing since stuff got tossed/pulled/shoved during my frantic 3-month sewing craze, I found myself wanting to drop everything and start working on a project. You know, like "Oh, if I go ahead and cut out this pattern then it'll be ready to sew as soon as I finish the other six projects in the process of being sewed!" I refrained. That makes about as much sense as using every fork in the drawer, filling each one with a bite of food, and lining them up to be eaten in turn. I couldn't help but thinking if I died this week and my mother and mother-in-law had to come sort through this room, they would die. I even thought about moving my little cork board from the computer room to the sewing room and designating a project a month until the end of the year, but we all know I'll simply work on a different project or get side-tracked with life. My husband also likes to remind me that I have no concept of time. And all of those things are true.

So I'll keep plodding a little a day, eating one bite of this elephant at a time. The questions is: How many elephants can I eat this year?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

blessings

One of the benefits of selling medical equipment is that it benefits both parties. Bobby's old van with almost 181,000 miles had reached the point we never felt totally safe driving it to Alabama. (There were some days we were uncertain about him driving to Raleigh!) We got the main things fixed, but realized we were to the point we had to replace it, whether we were ready to or not. And for the first time ever, Van Products not only didn't sell our old van, they really didn't even want to try. We finally got around to advertising it on Craigslist and PAT this last week and almost immediately heard from several people. The first person we heard from was in South Carolina, and his injury level is the same as Bobby's. For the last fifteen years, he has not driven a vehicle, and his only form of transportation required people helping lift him in and out of a van. His son works for Ford and strongly encouraged him to get the van. His brother is a mechanic and has an old Ford van in the yard that the transmission doesn't work on it but everything else does, and he was excited to see the parts would be interchangeable should the van need work. Even with the arm rest on a chair chewed off (thanks to my former Beagles!), the well-worn carpet from Bobby's chair, and the cosmetic dents, they were absolutely thrilled to see the van and couldn't wait to get it home for their brother to see. We no longer have to pay insurance on a van we don't need, acquired a little money for it, and someone who truly needs it has a vehicle that he needed at a price he could afford.

Thursday afternoon a lady from a refugee relocation group is coming to look at the hospital bed for an African refugee who has a degenerative disease. Her grown children had already evacuated to America, and she will arrive this coming Monday. Anytime I clean I often sell or donate to the local thrift store things we don't use/need, but it excites me when something is actually needed/beneficial to someone else. (And for those of you wondering why we have a hospital bed, it's the one that came when Bobby broke his neck 30 years ago and has only been used sparingly since then. He quickly learned through rehab comrades that waterbeds not only helped to eliminate bedsores and but also eliminated almost all the need for rotation throughout the night.)

AND...I'm SLOWLY getting caught up on housework after my March-May sewing/quilting marathon and elbow break. It's encouraging, to say the least.

Monday, June 13, 2011

ponderings

On Sunday nights our church has been doing a study on The Way of the Master. It's basically an evangelism method that so far for me has been the most practical and the easiest thing to remember. It's not a whole lot different than the Netcasters program our church uses, just a little less intimidating and lengthy.

One of the things I like the most about it is how it addresses up front the issues that "All have sinned." And it starts the demonstration by using the Ten Commandments. I'll use this method, but the first commandment they've used over and over and over in their examples is actually a modification of Scripture, and that bothers me greatly. Exodus 20:16 is NOT a commandment not to lie. It's a commandment against slander - lying about another person. And most of the Old Testament references that relate to that passage also deal with speaking false things ABOUT ANOTHER PERSON. There's a subtle difference there. Before you puff up like a bullfrog, yes I very clearly remember the passage/song from Revelation that liars go to hell. (to the tune of "Are You Sleeping?" : Revelation, Revelation, 21:8, 21:8, Liars go to hell, Liars go to hell, Burn, burn, burn. Burn, burn, burn. - and yes, I was horrified the first time I heard it. I'm not sure that's what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he told us to sing Scriptural songs.) But I wonder if we're not adding/changing Scripture when we take the command of "Don't bear false witness against your neighbor." and modify it to "Don't lie."  Rahab the Jericho prostitute lied to protect the spies, and God honored her for it. Honored her so much, in fact, that her son born as an Israelite is listed in Matthew in the lineage of Christ.  Her grandson was Boaz, who married Ruth.
The Bible does clearly teach that honesty and truth are virtues we should have. Earlier in Exodus, the leaders chosen under Moses were to be men of truth. All throughout the Old Testament stories, leaders are constantly asking whether or not someone is telling the truth. So if honesty is a virtue, what are we saying about ourselves when falsely state a ten commandment dealing with slander is actually a broad statement about lying?

One thing I do like about the approach we've seen so far is it's not confrontational. It recognizes the Gospel is offensive to people. Many are going to find the cross and its story offensive. We're simply asking them to consider it. Nothing more; nothing less. While the thought of offending someone still does not appeal to me, I was reminded of WHY we must sometimes be offensive while reading a blog this morning. A Navy/Marine chaplain made this statement: "... the farther you are from the light the more it effects you."  During the night when I have to get up and turn a light on, it's offensive to my eyes. Sometimes it actually hurts. Shining the light of truth onto someone's shortcomings will hurt. I should expect some reaction and hurt/offense. But just as a medic wouldn't continuously shine a bright light around a coal miner who's been trapped in darkness, we can show them the light, and leave them considering what they saw during it's brief time.

For me, it goes back to the Golden Rule: do unto others what you would have them to do to you. In the old days I HATED reaching back to flush the toilet and accidentally knocking something off the back of the lid. Some well-meaning person had stupidly left a tract there and I had a few seconds to decide whether or not to attempt to retrieve it or let Wal-mart have the joy of having another backed up toilet. I left it. I've also been in a stall where you squat to use the bathroom and look down to see some preacher's face staring up at you where someone threw a tract in the floor. Really, people? And I've worked the drive-through in fast food and lost a raise because lunatics tried to witness (we were timed per customer and it was part of our personal and store evaluation) and wouldn't shut up and go on even when I politely said "Yes, I go to church."  Or chucked many a tracts because our Taco Bell uniforms didn't have pockets and there was no place to put the thing in my minuscule place between the coke dispenser and cash register. I'm not about to do that to someone else. Sharing our faith is a good thing and should be done. But it doesn't mean I have to violate the other teachings of Scripture and lose what little common sense I have. Sometimes I think we try to make things harder than they really are.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

day 3

Still at it! In the midst of visiting family, fishing trips, work, and Grandma's birthday, this weekend Sammy made it over to add in two windows on the chicken house (so we can see the birds without opening the doors). I think the last of the work is going to be done this weekend. Our older birds are very happy with the set-up, and our younger birds are NOT happy whenever we succeed in placing them inside with the older birds, but they do enjoy hanging out in the pen and house whenever the big birds leave the coop. It'll be interesting to see if we can get them back inside again tonight or if they'll fly back up on top of the dog pen to escape being locked up at night again.

And on a brighter note: I can almost totally straighten my right arm! :) Now if my stupid leg muscle will behave all the time, I'll be back to normal!

Monday, June 6, 2011

off for the summer

About a year and a half ago a group of ladies decided we would make quilts for our church's graduating seniors. We started in March of 2010, and our goal was to have the one quilt finished by August. By August, we realized hand-quilting was not going to get the job done in time, especially when we took in to consideration we had FIVE graduates for 2011. So we kicked things into high gear, motivated each other when the task seemed unsurmountable, shared/learned new techniques, and thankfully all had panic moments ("what were we thinking this will NEVER get done") all at different times while finishing our one 2010 quilt by hand and machine quilting all the others. And somewhere along the way, I started to feel a little closer to the friends I already had. (Will I ever forget Mary Booth giving a cutting demonstration and throwing fabric over her shoulder ONTO MY FLOOR because that's what the quilter in her favorite quilting video does?)

Yesterday our church recognized the seniors. I think they thought they were getting Bibles (which they did, but as a private gift from Pastor Mike and Nancy due to no extra church funds), so they were quite surprised with their presents. My favorite part of the whole process (besides seeing their faces) was trying to figure out their personalities and favorite colors. Sometimes we just asked, but we also spent time observing dress patterns and photos from Facebook. I think we did okay in our color choices.

And before I post the pics, I shout-out to my husband. He put up with a lot from January until now (and yes, Hon, the dining room is finally being returned to its original state today), including typing things out for me Saturday night at 10:10pm so I could finish sewing the last part of Krista's quilt. Lord willing, after today, the next finished quilt that will be posted will be his. ;)


So today I return to the long overdue schedule of housework, ironing, gardening, and normal chores.