Thursday, December 31, 2015

Zoom!

The musical our church did had a song for the kids to sing, and it included the word "Zoom!" in it. The kids loved it (for that, and the fact it mentioned cell phones and eating Dads...go figure). But that word describes a lot of my feelings for 2015. Where has the time gone?

It's been a good but hard year.

A lot of political debates on Facebook have often left me questioning myself as well as why I even stay on social media (because it's the easiest way to stay in touch with all my family). I've been unfriended by a few people, and found that overall I was actually okay with that. While I hope to improve in how I express myself (that I'll speak with more clarity and kindness), I can't be untrue to who I am and what I believe. And I've been sadly disappointed to discover that arrogant disdain is found on postings by Christians as often as it is posted by those who aren't.

My husband and Dad both had some serious health issues. Bobby was in the hospital for heart/paralysis related issues that are mostly resolved; Dad had two stents placed a few weeks ago. Meanwhile our nine year old church lost two of its faithful members this year, one unexpectedly, and three more have been diagnosed with various forms of cancer in the last three months. All of this is normal with life, but it makes me realize how long we were blessed as a congregation to go without such heartache for so many years.

And this is probably the first year I've not blogged about so much that is on my heart. There has been so much clamoring on current events this year that it seemed anything I had to say was just one more bit of noise clanging to be heard. And quite frankly, I heard more than enough. The positive of all this negativity and opining is that I've truly been thinking and searching for answers and clarity on the problems and what my role in them should be. I know the popular thing is for everyone to post their goals and objectives for the new year either today or tomorrow, but for us that won't be happening until later in the month. Meanwhile, I'm still researching and thinking and praying for direction. There are so many needs everywhere that it's not always easy deciding how much and where to devote time and energy.

So tomorrow it begins...learning to write 2016 on bills and checks. I hope it won't be as hard to adjust as it was this year, and that time won't seem to fly by as fast. But I do know this....I'm not sorry to see 2015 go.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas gifts

Last year I decided I would make quilts for my family as Christmas presents. Needless to say, they weren't finished. I was bound and determined they were going to be completed this year. I came close - finishing all but two.  Here's some brief snapshots of the 26th (the day we could all be together). 
Mom was amazed by the cow print on the backing.

Checking out what was in every jar. I think they were pleased and surprised.

My nephew's quilt ( middle, standing). 

My brother and sister-in-law opening their quilt.
This is a distant shot of their quilt. Earlier this year they gave me a box of quilting supplies that had belonged to Amie's grandmother. In the bottom were some hand-quilted panels she had left over from quilts she had made. So I added plain blocks and a few other appliqued blocks to go with them and make them into a quilt. I felt bad for making her cry and taking her by surprise, but I knew that was something I would want.
My brother-in-law, who is camera and crowd shy, is an avid Monopoly fan.
Carly's quilt. Hers was probably started about five years ago.
It was started long enough ago that I was afraid the heart and star backing I had chosen would no longer be suitable (she's now in middle school) so I added an owl panel to the middle of the back.
While cleaning up my sewing room this summer, I found two star hexagons my grandmother had hand quilted. When my first quilt plan fell for my older sister fell apart, this became their backup.

The back of the quilt.
And the front of the quilt.

This will probably never happen again. And that's okay. I managed a surprise, and hopefully gave something they'll love and use, even if it is "a blanket" as my 14 yr old nephew calls them. :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I'll miss this view

We have a small window in our bathroom that overlooks the field beside us. The first five years this was a mowed field that had a small barn and for a while, horses. Eight years ago this section of the farm was sold to the county for an elementary and middle school. While we've not enjoyed the coyote, snakes and mice that come with an overgrown field, I have enjoyed watching the rabbits and deer and the small trees. This year the trees were big enough to change colors. We had a very late fall here, and the trees didn't change colors until first-mid December. I don't think these pictures do it justice. I'll miss this view next fall.



Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas lights

In the last few days we've driven by at least two houses that had trees or wreaths decorated with either blue or blue & green lights. I thought it was very pretty. I would have never considered blue a Christmas color, but blue is one of my favorite colors and I'm finding I like blue & white or blue & silver decorations when I see them.

Growing up, we always had the huge, multi-colored blinking lights. I remember the first time I saw a tree decorated with all white lights (and bows, and candy canes...nothing else). My Aunt Grancis had decorated the tree for my Grandma White, and I thought it was absolutely beautiful. A few years after that I began to see more and more stores carrying strands of just red lights, or white lights, or green lights. When we were in high school, the old faithful lights we had had all my life died. My younger sister volunteered to pick up lights after school the next day. We did go and purchase the lights, and we got ...all white, non-blinking AND put them on the tree before Dad got home. He was NOT happy. Who ever heard of boring ol' white lights at Christmas, especially ones that DIDN'T blink!?! My grouchy old bear muttered the rest of the week about the lights on our tree, but every time my sister and I walked by, we'd look at it and smile. We thought it was fabulous. And as an adult, I have white lights on all my trees. Although, I did consider getting red lights for my Alabama tree (it's a small white tree), but I ended up going with white. :)  I imagine when I go home the lights on the tree will be colored and blinking and it will make me feel like I'm at my childhood home. But there's just something majestic and beautiful about white lights in a dark room. I think I'll keep mine the plain but elegant white. Unless Bobby requests colored lights, and then, well, he might just have to get his own tree, haha!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Annette Carroll

Today we attended the funeral of one of the kindest people I've ever known. She had no problem telling you how she felt about something, but she was always gracious when she did. And if she later thought she was wrong, she apologized. My heart hurts for her children, who have now lost both parents, and even more for her grandchildren, who she loved dearly.

And I found the words to the song sang at her funeral so very fitting, and so descriptive of her:

Unfailing Love by Bethany Live and Jonathan Stockstill

I see You hanging there, I see Your nail pierced hands
For me, You paid the price for me
I see Your wounded side, I hear Your lonely cries
For me, You paid the price for me

It was unfailing love
Grace by Your blood
Come and pour over me 'til all I see
Is Your unfailing love

I see the crown of thorns, I hear them laugh and scorn
For me, You paid the price for me
I see Your Father's eyes turn from His bleeding Son
For me, You paid the price for me.


As one of the church members said, "She is someone who will be missed. Greatly." I'm so thankful her suffering is over, but her absence will truly be felt for a very long time. I couldn't help but reflect how no matter what people reminisced about, her love for her kids, her keeping the nursery during choir practice, and running the nursery for many years at church, teaching Sunday school, whatever they mentioned, they always returned to her joy or her kindness.

And that's my personal prayer for me tonight: that I will have keep my focus on the cross of Christ so much that my life will radically change, and people will continuously mention the characteristics of Christ instead of me when I'm gone. I honestly can't think of a better testimony.

Monday, December 14, 2015

I can't believe I didn't go!

Every year Wake County Public Libraries has a used book sale. Some of the books are culled from library shelves (meaning they haven't been checked out in a long time); the vast majority are donated. Over the last ten years the sale has grown and grown and grown to the point it's now held at one of the buildings at the State Fairgrounds.

Between buying books for each other for Christmas and birthdays and the annual library sale, we've also purchased some books on vacations (museum bookshops have the best historical selections). And after seventeen years of that, our shelves are very close to capacity. They're so close, that books, like fabric, are on a "no purchase" list in our house (which means I buy 2-3 a year instead of an armload ;).

Thankfully we had too much going on this weekend, or the temptation to head over to the sale would have been WAY too tempting. My goal for 2016 is very similar to this year's. Read what I have. If it's not something I wouldn't share with someone or read or reference again, get rid of it. And while most of my reading list this year has been non-fiction, next year I think I'll add a little fiction to the reading pile. I probably won't have all the books cleaned off my dresser by the end of 2016 either, but hopefully it will be a much smaller stack.

I don't know if I'll be able to go to the book sale in 2016 or not. We may have to wait a few more years before making that a habit again. And I don't feel so bad for putting a few book titles on my Christmas wish list...he did it, too!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

presentation day

This afternoon I joined another lady from a local Quilts of Valor group to award a quilt to a veteran. This never gets old for me. Sometimes the task seem daunting (North Carolina currently has a waiting list of over 300 vets who've been nominated for quilts). Even with all of our group pooling our efforts each month and churning out a minimum of a quilt a month, we've still barely scratched the surface. And yet, when I go to a presentation and see the pride and humility of these vets, their joy, the tears, and their gratitude, a quilt seems like such a small thing. Our nation has many flaws, but the sacrificial attitude of most of our vets is certainly not listed among them.

So from this quilter to all the other QOVers out there...piece on!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

consensus building...or not

Last night Bobby attended Garner's Town Council meeting. One of the items on the agenda was the building permit for Bryan Rd Elementary School.  NC DOT at this point is refusing to pave the road; Wake County BOE will pave the part in front of them (because they want to straighten out a curve) but not the rest of the road. Garner TC does not want to grant a building permit unless the road is paved, saying that their town should not have a brand new school on a dirt road. The matter was postponed until this next Tuesday, hopefully giving DOT and the county time to reach a consensus.

Personally, other than the dirt created by all the construction vehicles moving on a dirt road, I think the state would cave and pave the road within a few months of the school opening. The monthly scraping and quarterly deposit of gravel on the road would not be sufficient to sustain the level of traffic they are talking about. And as slick as a dirt road is after heavy rains, it would only take a few school buses and a few minivans rushing in and sliding off the road for something to be done. There's actually a school bus that comes down this road now, and it does not go slow. I can only imagine how fast they'll actually go once the road is paved. Between parents complaining and the increase in traffic creating more frequent trips for road scraping, I think the cost in maintaining this road will become so high that they'll have to pave it. But that won't satisfy the pride of the town, and so the bickering continues.

Here's the layout of the proposed site
See that road at the bottom (the "parent entrance")?  Our driveway will be about 10' from that. If the permit is approved next week, our life is going to start radically changing in a few months.


Monday, December 7, 2015

transitions

Recently I read an article about the transitions in food over the years, and how it could be seen through cookbooks. They were able to pinpoint when people started using processed foods and microwaves within a  few years by the number of casseroles. I couldn't help but think if we looked at group cookbooks now,  they'd probably have a lot of crockpot soups and freezer meals. I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I just found it quite interesting. And this morning as I was thinking through my favorite Christmas goodies over the years, I was a little surprised to realize it follows the trend as well.

Growing up, making Russian TeaCake Cookies was one of my favorite Christmas baking events. They're really not Russian, and ours were always more cake-like (in hindsight, I'm wondering if Mom simply wanted the process to end and intentionally rolled the dough out thicker than required, of if she just really liked them fat and cakey). I loved eating the dough (a big no-no today that I think is a bunch of nonsense), loved using cookie cutters, but I really wasn't all that crazy about the finished product...unless we were allowed to put icing on them. And then they were incredibly good. We also had homemade apple pies (many people call them flapjacks) that were folded in half.  Perfect for a child's hand, but still so big that Mom made us split them. We had instant oatmeal chocolate cookies, "No Bakes" my Granny Rea called them, and Hawaiian Pie on Christmas day (all kinds of fruit with pudding and cool whip and sweetened condensed milk on a graham cracker crust) and fudge.

And then my middle school years rolled around. Mom was working and wrestling with the beginning symptoms of her lupus and arthritis (neither of which received a diagnosis until 20+ years later). Goodies became brownies (from mixes, not the homemade kind we used to make), Ritz cracker peanut butter sandwiches dipped in chocolate, chocolate dipped pretzels, chocolate chip cookies, and fudge.

High school was much of the same as middle school, except we girls started experimenting, and peanut butter balls, sausage balls, and Martha Washington candy got added to the mix.

I don't fix a whole lot of Christmas goodies anymore. It's just the two of us, and I think that's one of the things I miss about having my family with me for the holidays. Granted, even if I lived nearby, they'd be doing things with their families so it still wouldn't be the same. I try to make some of our favorites when we have a party or have someone over so we have plenty to share and still have a little bit here at home. And one of my goals while I'm home at Christmas is to master the art of mini apple pies. A friend of mine posted a video on Facebook that made it look so much easier than how my Mom always did it, and I am so tempted to try it. If it works, I'll be sharing and I might be starting a new trend!


Thursday, December 3, 2015

they come in batches

It seems once or twice a year there will suddenly be all these trailers for movies that I want to see. And this last month has been no exception. At this point we'll probably wait for most of them to come out on DVD or Redbox (which we've still never used).  But here's my list:

Mockingjay2: I must say I enjoyed the books so much better than the previous movies. Maybe because my mind can somewhat not envision the violence while reading. That's not an option in a movie. But I do want to see the ending of this series. I've come this far, might as well finish the race.

33: I grew up in a coal mining community. I remember the strikes, the layoffs, the fear in people's eyes. I remember the stories, overhearing people talking to my father, their pastor, about their fears and nightmares, but feeling there was no other way to support their families. I remember when this event happened, and praying. It's every coal mining community's worst fear.

Bridge of Spies: I had never heard of this story, but Bobby remembers reading about it in school. Like the movie listed above, this is supposed to be based on a true story.

The Letters:  A few years after Mother Theresa died, there was an outcry when her personal letters were released, revealing a woman who often questioned her faith and her actions. This movie is supposed to be based on her life story and her letters.

So in the insanity of the Christmas rush, I may call it quits for an afternoon or evening and actually do something that doesn't require me to think or do. That would be a blessing indeed.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

new to me

Things get lost in translation, no matter how wonderful or educated the translators may be. There's just some things that don't translate culturally.

For example, the Christmas story in Luke 2. Growing up, I always assumed Christ was born in a barn/stable. I don't know that I was taught that, but it's what Christmas cards and flannelgraph from Sunday School taught. (Yes, I know I just dated myself with that last sentence. Church kids today have NO idea what flannelgraph is.) When I was in college, I was surprised to hear a chapel speaker talk about the manger, and that in Israel animals were kept in one of two places: in a lean-to under or behind the house or in a cave. That was mind-boggling to me. It made perfect sense, but it was just so out of sync with everything I had ever thought.

A few days ago we received a newsletter that included an article from Jimmy De Young, (an prophecy teacher who lives in Israel and speaks a lot in America). I had to read it several times for it to make sense, and even then had to show  it to Bobby to make sure I was totally grasping what he was saying. I can sometimes be a little slow that way. :) You can find the article here. I'm not big on prophecy stuff, but this made sense to me. I've often wondered what kind of sign it was for a baby to be wrapped in a feed trough. I can't imagine it was all that common, although it would make it an easier identification of the baby. But signs usually mean something. I don't know of the accuracy of De Young's information, but it makes perfect sense and also helps one understand how God was proclaiming his Messiah from the very beginning.

So I'm rejoicing and pondering this information as I celebrate this month: our Messiah has come.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December 1

Today is/was my father-in-law's birthday. Some days it seems like he's been gone forever. Other days it seems like yesterday.

But today has been interesting for other reasons as well. We have a new puppy. I woke up to find a rope and a fan belt on the back porch. No idea where either came from. Both dogs also got outside the fence line and began chewing the landscape fabric off of my garden pallet. What is it with dogs and landscape fabric? If it wasn't supposed to be raining tomorrow, underground fence line flags would be going up and training would be commencing immediately.

And we had the big heron and three wild ducks at the pond this morning. As well as eight deer running through the field across the pond. The small trees in the field have finally started turning colors. When the sun shown before the mist and clouds totally covered everything this morning, it was absolutely beautiful. I snapped a few pictures. Come this time next year, that view from my bedroom window will be the progression of a three story elementary school.

Last year I had this brainstorm to make something for my family for Christmas. I ran out of time and didn't get it done, so thought I'd complete it for this year. I now have 22 days left, and I'm still not finished. Up until now, I've said "Life still goes on" so I've tried not to let these projects consume everything, but I think it's now to the point I've got to say "No" to any extra activities if this is going to happen. I've so badly wanted to post pics as things progress, but as soon as I do, someone in my family will decide to check my blog.

Meanwhile, the last of my Christmas decorations went up today, and hopefully tomorrow I can organize boxes and containers and reclaim the room that looks like a box explosion.

My younger sister is moving, and I'm not there to help. It stinks.

Meanwhile, I'm reading "Plague of the Frogs" about the abnormalities that happened in Minnesota in the 90's. I'm to the point where EPA is getting involved, and the perspectives on that are interesting. Growing up in a coal mining community and having friends and family members who work for power companies, I don't think I ever heard EPA mentioned in a positive tone. But my thoughts on that subject will have to be a post for another day.

There's been a lot whirling through this crazy brain of mine while I've been tackling projects. Some of it I may eventually get around to writing down.