Saturday, April 13, 2024

I-81, Real Talent, Something New

1. Arriving at the hotel after a long day's drive, it feels good to be off the road and finally relax. 

2. A forty-eight year old episode of the Lawrence Welk show is on the TV. I never had much interest in the show but my parents sure did. It reminds me of home, my mom's singing, and the innocence of childhood. I am alone in a New York hotel room and feeling sentimental. Thanks Mr. Welk.

3. Well...I stopped to stretch my legs and I bought a new outfit.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Chair with a View, Appalachian Spring, Asparagus Time!

 

1. This is the view out the window from my sewing chair. The crab apple tree is a delight. Friends wonder how I get so much stitching done. It is because of the location of the chair. ; )

 2. The mountains are really beautiful in the Appalachian spring, especially on a rainy day. Redbuds and new green leaves line the way up the winding road. Pockets of mist settle in the hollows and everything feels gentle and still.

3. The asparagus is up in the garden!


 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Ninety-One Years Wise, Braids, Up Do's and Red Hair, What Could It Be?

 1. My wise, elderly friend and I sat across from one another at her dining table. We sipped mugs of tea and I asked her questions about life. I asked her how does a mother endure the helplessness of seeing her child suffer? My heart needed to know. She closed her eyes and remembered her own pain. Rocking forward in her chair, she opened her eyes, raised her arms up and said with emotion, "We hold up their arms for them when they can't hold them up on their own." 

2. I am waiting in my car in a parking lot. Shortly after noon, small groups of people dressed all in black begin strolling out of, "Paul Mitchell, The School". They all have trendy hair in various cuts, colors, and styles. I think to myself, here comes our future hair stylists!

3. Steve and I take a walk up our road. "Something smells sweet!", I say. We look around and cannot find the source.

Monday, April 8, 2024

!960's Next to the Garage, Manual Labor, Wild Ride

1. Lilacs don't seem to thrive in the south and I feel bad that I ask mine to stay. I grow it because this one scraggly bush produces puny clusters of blooms for one week of the year. When I inhale their magical scent I am transported to my aunt's yard in New York where a row of gorgeous lilacs bloomed every May. We would pluck the tiny purple flowers and suck the nectar from their ends. We cut bouquets of lilacs to give our school teachers every spring, and bouquets would fill the kitchen with their heady aroma.  I adore the scent of lilacs and I appreciate the fortitude of my unhappy bush to survive the heat. 

2. Another day of trimming trees and shrubs, trenching a diameter under each, and spreading mulch. The work feels good and the tidiness is both appealing and rewarding.

3. Life is pulling us along in a strong current for which we have little control. After feeling dropped by a wave and picked by up on the next crest, my first inclination is to look up to God and ask, "What are you doing!?"I am still waiting for the answer.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Perks of a Window, Favorite Breakfast, Look Up

1. There is so much to see outside the windows that it is hard to walk by without pausing for a moment. I see flowering crab apple, beautiful cloud formations, fresh dirt in the vegetable beds, and fresh mulch on the perennial beds. Some of it is nature's handiwork and some of it, our own. 

 2. One of the daughters has spent the night. We have fresh biscuits and coffee for breakfast. 

3. Experiencing difficult and stressful life events is not a good thing at all. It does not belong in these lists. But the deep search for meaning and the longing for hope in the midst of pain propels us forward. We come together in our pain and give one another hope.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Who ARE You?, My Love, Fresh Writing Utensil


1. Wind, thunder, heat, chill, wind, rain, sleet, sun and clouds; Spring, you are such a drama queen.

2. My morning cup of coffee. I like it more than something should be liked and I am not sorry for admitting that. Actually, I may love it.

3. I have two pencils with fresh erasers that I sharpened in the electric pencil sharpener. The sharp tip of the pencil improves my hand writing, even if it is only adding and subtracting numbers.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Thunner!, A Hen Named Sprout, Fabric and Thread

 1. The first thunder storms of the season arrive at bedtime. The rumbles are gentle and friendly. My mind connects them to the summer storms I remember as a child and they lull me to sleep.

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly: A Novel 

2. I am reading this sweet little book given to me by a friend.  I find that I have become fully invested in the life of a fictional little hen.

3. The desire to sew a garment has reared it's fickle head. It usually shows up this time of year, in the spring. I call it fickle because I only achieve a successful outcome thirty percent of the time. But I wear those thirty percent with one hundred percent confidence in my ability to sew garments.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Happy Jonquils, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Let There Be Light


 1. Every single year the daffodils make me so very happy. Every year! I will never, ever tire of them. 

2. Daughter and granddaughter now play the piano together. They are working on a wonderful duet and they perform a little of it for me.

3. Last night, at the Easter Vigil Mass, Steve had a job to do. The first hour of Mass was held in darkness with only pools of candlelight. When we stood and began to sing the Gloria, the church suddenly became fully illuminated. The effect was stunning. It was as though Heaven said, "Let there be light" and BAM!. Haha! I knew it was Steve. 

Claire and Mari


Saturday, March 30, 2024

Celebrate!, As You Like It, All the Joy

 


 1. Good things are about to happen. The beginnings of spaghetti sauce, onions and garlic sauteed in olive oil, is the best aroma in the world. 

2. I am making the sugar cookies the way Steve likes them. They have orange peel and vanilla in them and no sanding sugar on top. As he eats a cookie he asks, "How long have we been married?" I answer him, "Forty-three." He says, "In all the forty-three years we have been married this is the first time you made the cookies the way I like them." I tell him he is being ridiculous.

3. The Easter week celebration encompasses so many of our senses. There is the food, of course. And there is the beauty of nature enrapturing us with its flowering exaltation. There is the church music that turns from mournful on Thursday and Friday to joyful and exhilarating on Saturday and Sunday. Smells of incense, chocolate, flowers, grass, and rain tell our sleepy winter brains that something good is coming.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Craft Day, All That Is Left, They Made It!


  1. Audrey and Violet came over to decorate Easter eggs. They used a technique with Cool Whip and gel food coloring to make tie dye designs on the eggs. It was a fun process and the eggs turned out pretty.

2. Having company come warranted a special lunch and a treat afterward. We had Cesar chicken wraps for lunch and little cherry pies for dessert. Violet preferred the fresh strawberries over the cherry hand pies.

3. The blueberry bushes from Claire's house that I transplanted last year are all in bloom! 


Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Only Nine More to Go, Relaxing with Dinner, Faith



1. Spent the day painting boxes with Kay. They are the brainchild of our desire to make a fun rug hooking workshop for our group in May. They are beautiful, hand crafted boxes that we are painting and antiquing. Every few boxes that we finish, we ask ourselves, "What were we thinking?" We need to make thirty-four boxes! It's a good thing the two of us never tire of being together. At the workshop, each member will receive a box of their color choice, seven patterns from which to hook a mat for the top of the box, and a serged piece of linen to draw and hook the pattern onto. Everyone is excited about it!

2.  Leftovers for dinner, eaten in front of the television watching an older Netflix series called "Travelers". It is a science fiction, time travel story. It is the rare something on which Steve and I can agree to watch. 

3. The Lenten season has brought us to this final Holy week before Easter. It has been a season of introspection, confession, and reconciliation. I love everything about this season. Unlike the noisy, boisterous celebration of Christmas, Easter comes softly and quietly.

"Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song."

Pope John Paul II



Sunday, March 24, 2024

Sunday Dinner, On the Patio, A Teaser

 1. We have an especially good Sunday dinner of breaded pork chops, Brussels sprouts, roasted carrots and parsnips, and applesauce. We used to always have special Sunday dinners and it would be nice to start that tradition again.

2. The sun is warm enough for us to sit outside for part of the afternoon.

3. The lawnmower is ready for the season. I give it a test drive and get rewarded with the aroma of cut grass.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Spring Blooms, Blooms, and Buds

1. We enjoyed the flowering plum and butterfly magnolia for a week or so before the wind and rain took them away. Year after year they delight us with their flowers yet we exclaim over their beauty as if it were the very first time we ever saw such a thing.

2. A friend offered me a container of daffodil bulbs and I could not say no.

3. I took stock around the property to see what survived the winter. It looks like the fig tree I planted last year has buds on it. I was really hoping this particular plant would live.


 

Sunday, March 17, 2024

A Day That Is Just For Me!

 1. It was a picture perfect, spring day for a birthday celebration. My gifts are all delightful. Everyone was creative in what they chose for me: worm castings, bath scents, a hand knit hood, a Vermont sweatshirt, chocolate and maple candy, a balsam incense burner shaped like a cabin, pencil erasers, a gift card to the local gardening co-op, a shawl, flowers, and a book. Most of all, I loved spending the day with our children and grandchildren.

2. I now have Medicare. I am not quite sure how I feel about that.

3. Two kinds of cakes baked by two daughters. I eat both.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Good Dirt, Bad Company, Photoshopped

 1. Gardening season has officially begun. I put on my overalls and got dirty to commemorate the occasion. I had time to think about my tasks as I pushed the wheelbarrow across the field. How is it that a garden goes from tame to wild so quickly?! Does anything ever go from wild to tame without assistance or intervention? I can't think of anything.

2. I had sharp words for the Chocolate Chip Ajuga.It really must be pickier about who it allows in its bed. It's keeping company with grass and clover. We will not have that.

3. Trying to make a positive experience out of having a formal photograph taken for the church directory. We are shown the digital samples. There is no way to make my photo pleasing to my eye; no background color, no different poses, nothing. Finally she asks if we want "touch ups". Yes! I will PAY $35 for touch ups!

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Making the Best of It, A Fresh Airing, We're Here!

1. Poke and pull; stitch and snip. I am turning nervous energy into something tangible.

2. The porch door is open to the sun and breeze! The black walnut wind chimes that Steve made are rattling on the pergola.

3. Blossoms have sprung out everywhere. The interstate is adorned with the white lace of pear and the yard is ruffled with the pink of purple plum. The blossoms have appeared so quickly that I am sure they have been lying in wait for twelve months, just waiting for this moment to burst open and shout, "Surprise!"
 

Monday, March 11, 2024

On High, Brown Beef Stew, March Winds

1. A winter bare maple tree reveals a small nest perched high up near the tip of the branch.

2. I seek out the recipe from my mom's old 1947 cookbook for Brown Beef Stew. This is the way she always made it and it was my favorite. I get excited when I notice the recipe right above it for Potato Dumplings. How have I never noticed this before? If I make these for the stew, dinner will be a marvel.

3. The winds blew fiercely last night and made bedtime feel unsettled. In the morning I noticed the wind had settled and all was calm. Same room, same house, friendlier feel.

Friday, March 8, 2024

Transformed Into Real Pages

 

Into Real Pages is an online service that prints online content into book form. I decided to give it a try after reading a recommendation on someone's blog. I am pleased with the result and I will have more books printed up a couple at a time.

I started my blog fourteen years ago (!) so there was too much material to all go into one book. I decided to print each year as a volume. They offer different styles and options for design. I went with a design where I could use a different color cover for each volume. The cost depends on how many pages you will have printed. My books cost about $55 each and they have a soft cover. The pages are glossy and all the photos I had on my blog are included. The company is located in the Netherlands and it took about a month for these to arrive in the mail. When I initially placed my order, I did not receive a confirmation page. I emailed the company and they confirmed that they did receive my order, so communication was good.

I have no idea what will happen to internet content in the future. I wanted to preserve my blog for my daughters to keep. I thought they might like to recollect the day to day life of our family from way back when.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Lake Morey, Vermont, Winter in Our Veins

 

I do not have a bucket list. However, I do have heart's desires. One of my heart's desires is to play outdoors in the winter. When we left New England and moved south twenty-three years ago, we left behind the kind of winters that were a way of life. You either embraced the cold and ice or you suffered. While we do have a winter season here in Virginia, they do not take on the same bite as a New England winter. Ponds rarely freeze over and hefty snowfalls come maybe once every four or five years. Indoor ice skating rinks cannot compare to the freedom of outdoor skating on a frozen pond, lake, or flooded field. I am sure a large part of my longing is nostalgia. Whatever the reason, the desire to ice skate outdoors has constantly tugged at my heart. As I grow older, that desire feels more urgent.

Life in the 1960's, before computers and play dates, meant we played outside every day. Winters were no exception. If there was snow, it was it all the better. Even without snow, we could still ice skate. We had farm ponds and flooded fields all around us. The only thing that would drive us back indoors was frozen fingers or toes..and supper time. Ultimately, my older cousin who lived next door, built a skating rink in the empty lot on the other side of his house. He borrowed a bulldozer from his work and scraped the field, pushing all the dirt to create a bank on all four sides. Then he came in with a cement mixer filled with water and flooded the depressed ground. He installed a spotlight on a telephone pole and a burning barrel for us to keep warm. He even built a bench where we could change into our skates. We couldn't wait for school to let out in the afternoon to all meet up at the rink. Often times, we would go back out again after dinner and skate in and out of the pool of light created by the spotlight. When school let out for Winter Recess in February, we would have a solid week of outdoor winter play, sledding, skating, and building elaborate snow forts. Below freezing temperatures were pretty much guaranteed in February and many big lakes would hold winter carnivals during Winter Recess week.

I recall the year I turned twelve. It was Winter Recess and we neighborhood kids were all sledding. The boys started throwing snowballs at the girls. An ice ball hit me in the eye and caused some serious damage. I was under a doctor's care for months and I wasn't allowed to play outside for the rest of that recess week. I remember sitting in front of the picture window watching my sister and the neighborhood kids ice skate on the flooded field across the road. Even with a horrible headache and an eye patch over my eye, I begged to be let out to play. The hot tears I cried made my eye and head hurt even more and I was miserable. My mother did not relent. I felt jipped when we finally returned to school the following week. I still bear a scar under my eye with that memory.

Nowadays I subscribe to Yankee Magazine in order to get my New England fix. Sometimes I cry with longing for the all that I miss of our old home. Two years ago the magazine published an article about a place in Fairlee, Vermont called, Lake Morey Resort. The article told about how the resort clears a four-mile path around the lake for ice skating. It is advertised a the largest ice skating path in the United States! They also clear large swaths for ice hockey and some fun little paths in between. I studied the photo in depth wondering if it could be as wonderful as it appeared. I saved the coveted article and showed it to the family. I claimed that this was going on my bucket list. It remained the one and only item on my non-existent bucket list. 

 Last fall I re-mentioned this Lake Morey winter adventure to one of my daughters. Quick as anything, all the girls were on board to make it happen... in February! We made reservations at the resort, four of the girls made flight reservations and two of us made driving plans. It was really happening!

A lot of moving pieces had to come together to make this trip a reality. We were blessed with good health, good weather, and good travel. The excitement of arriving to find the lake and the resort all that we hoped for was nothing short of a miracle. The resort had everything we needed on site. They had three kinds of skates to rent; figure skates, hockey skates, and Nordic skates. They also had hockey sticks, pucks, helmets, and sleds. There was also one nifty item that we had never seen before called a Kickspark. It is like a scooter with two long blades instead of wheels. You put micro crampons on your boots and kick off on this self-propelled machine to glide across the ice. It was a blast! The four sisters and granddaughter skated the four-mile path around the lake twice each day. They also played hockey and just messed around on the ice, sampling the different kinds of skates. I could not make the four mile loop on skates but I did walk, Kickspark and eventually skated a little before the trip was over. 

The moments of purest joy for me were to see my daughters playing together. For three days they weren't moms or wives or employees. They were just kid sisters having a blast together. This was a rare opportunity. Of course I felt joy when I finally got my skates on and I let go of any support. I found that I could still skate even after many years of not having done so. Muscle memory of how the subtlest shift of weight from side to side sent me firmly gliding and gave me confidence. The cold air blew across my face as I went a little bit faster. At one point, I stood alone near the middle of the lake. It was very quiet. The sky was heavy and gray, and the air was biting cold. I could feel the dampness of frozen water rising up from the ice. It is unique in feel and smell; different than snow. It awoke winters from long ago that shifted into the here and now. I lifted my face and breathed in as deeply as I could. I needed to get in enough winter air to save up and last me a while. I thanked God for this remarkable gift.


 






Sunday, February 25, 2024

Exploring an Abandoned Farmhouse

 

On a beautiful fall day last September, Audrey invited Tess and me on an adventure. We were going to explore an abandoned farmhouse on some acreage she and her husband had purchased. She packed a picnic lunch for us and we set out to make a day of it.

I assume everyone itches to explore old, abandoned houses. I can't drive by a one without wishing I could explore it. I like to imagine what life was like in the home and what sort of people lived there. I want to look for traces of their ordinary days and see what was forgotten or left behind. Short of trespassing, we don't often get the chance to actually explore those places. They roll by, out the car window, leaving only our imaginings to keep them company.

Audrey had done some research on their land and she knew the house had been empty for a very long while. It had no electricity and no plumbing. It was 1860's old, yet it was very well preserved considering how long it had stood empty. The woodwork and trim inside were lovely as was the stairway and banisters. The flooring was in good shape too. This did not appear to be the home of someone who had been struggling on hard times. It was a solid, successful farmer's home. There were comfort items like a pretty bed frame and a piano in the living room. There were two porches, one on either side of the ell that was the kitchen off the back side. I imagined garden vegetables being carried across the porch into the kitchen for canning. An open, stone-lined well stood a couple of yards from the back door where I could imagine the wife drawing water up from the well for her kitchen use. Curtains still hung on some of the windows. They were so dry rotted that the slightest touch sent the fabric crumbling away. My favorite place was one of the porches off the kitchen. It still showed the beautiful blue paint on the wainscotted ceiling. I pictured myself sitting on a chair, shelling peas in the cool shade of a summer afternoon. My heart ached as I noticed all these signs of life from an era gone by.

We talked about whether anything was worth salvaging. It would be a big job to salvage woodwork, flooring, and fireplace mantels without damaging them. As we walked away from the home, we carried with us an old wire and metal gate we found. Audrey said I could have it for my garden. It reminded me of one that my parents had at my home growing up. We talked about coming back with the metal detector to dig deeper and see what else we might find. 

Unfortunately, we got sad news about the house only one week later. The county required the auction company to demolish the house before the final closing sale could take place. Within one day, it was razed to the ground and hauled away. Just like that. When I heard that news, I felt melancholy all evening. It was strange that I would feel that way about a house I only saw once and never lived in myself. I had really wanted to go back and visit it again. It felt like an old friend. I hated that the past was disappearing, along with a way of life. 

Well, it is time for new beginnings and all that. My six year old granddaughter played with her toy horse in one of the fields there today. She is imagining a life that is yet to come. I pray it is as lovely and peaceful as the old house led me to believe it used to be.

                               The kitchen ell off the back of the house and one of the porches.
 
             The piano was made in Albany New York. The place of my birth. What are the chances?!

                          Pretty bed frame with the contents of a straw mattress that once sat atop it.

             Look at the beautiful blue paint on the ceiling! The garden gate that went home with us.

                                                    1924 calendar page found on the floor.


Sunday, February 11, 2024

Work in Progress, Apothecary Rose

 

I am currently working on a rug called, Apothecary Rose. It is by my favorite pattern designer, Karen Kahle. I love all of her whimsical patterns. I find that her designs suit my home's style, particularly in the sense they that I can use brighter colors and I do not need to stick to a primitive color palette. 

I bought this pattern a few years ago and it took me a while to approach it. I felt intimidated by it's complexity and I needed formulate a plan on how I would work out my vision of color. I was drawn to the soft colors that Karen used. I saw warm cream tones, splattered with pinks and bronze-greens and some surprises of blue. I enjoy dying wool so I dyed the background textures in a color called, Antique Paper. For the blossoms and buds, I used shades of a dye recipe called Apple Blossom Pinks. I bought a piece of wool from a designer/author/dyer named Katie Kriner. She calls the color of that wool, English Breakfast. I thought it was the perfect shade to use in the grid lines between the blossom squares. I like to hook from massive amounts of mixed wool strips rather than one, singular piece of wool. I keep them in bags and bins next to my frame and pull strips from there as I hook.

I keep my rug hooking frame next to a window so I have lots of light shining down on the rug. I also have a window directly across from my chair so I can look outside while I work. (This is how I happened to spot the bobcat that ran by the shed two years ago.) All in all, it's a pensive past time that suits me well. I listen to many audio books and podcasts and I think and pray. Keeping the hands busy in tasks that don't require much concentration, like hooking, stitching, weeding, and washing dishes allows the brain to flow into a thoughtful space.  For some reason I need to counterbalance busy days with lots of time like this. Hence, a lot of rugs are produced...or a lot of dishes get washed. 

Last fall and into the winter, I stitched a couple of things as well. I realized I was going with all the same choices of color scheme- pinks, creams and bronze greens with some blues. I guess those are my soothing colors for this season. : )






Thursday, February 8, 2024

Changes

 

    Our view across the road has changed. When I lamented about the loss of our view, Steve said, "Well, we got to enjoy it for twenty years. Like all things, it comes to an end." I can't help but feel happy for the new family who will live out their vision of country life there. We were once in their place and I wouldn't begrudge it for anyone. But, that view was beautiful. 

     Change makes me uncomfortable. One of the quotes I placed in my banner when I designed this blog was, "What some people view as stagnation, I view as contentment." I am happy and content with familiarity. I do not rearrange our furniture. I do not replace things for the sake of updating. And I need to know exactly where to find the masking tape when I need it. Last month, in a fit of insanity, I decided to wear. bangs. As if that wasn't enough change, I also parted my hair on the opposite side. I have never felt so uncomfortable and awkward. I couldn't wait to get home and dunk my head under the faucet to wash all the changes away.

     If I could manipulate time and make all the sad and uncomfortable changes go away, I would.  Imagine that a stream represents the flow of time. I would place pretty rocks across the stream with a gentle net to catch all the good things that flow by. Time in that net would stand still and we would live with all the people and good things that gathered there. We would have our grandparents, parents, children, and all the things and people we love, all in the same place at the same time. Sigh. In writing this, I realize I may have described Heaven. 

     The photo in the previous post is of the view across the road as it was up until last fall. I know changes come and I must try to accept them. Some changes are mildly uncomfortable and some are incredibly painful. As the lyrics in the Fleetwood Mac song below say, "Can I handle the seasons of my life? I don't know." The best we can do is take it as it comes, with all the grace and love that God gives us.





Wednesday, February 7, 2024

But Mousie... A Repost From June 2018



But, Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e'e.
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

These are the last two stanzas of " To a Mouse" by Robert Burns. I quote the third line often. Here's the modern English version:

But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blessed, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!

     This week was to be my first week of vacation which would be free of commitments. I had a list in my mind of all the things I wanted to catch up on or enjoy. I had made my "best laid plans" and it was to be all about me. And then things began to "go often askew". Not one, not two, but all three of our cars had mechanical issues. On a Goldilocks scale of problems, one car's was minor, one was medium, and one was major. Behind that scene, some health issues were creeping up that could no longer be ignored. The final straw (and it only takes a tiny speck of straw to set one over one's limit) occurred when I had resigned myself to stay home because I had no car. I decided I might as well catch up on the ironing. I got everything all set up, ready to dig right into that mountain of ironing and... my iron conked out. As in permanently. A small thing indeed, but it did cause me to raise my face Heavenward and ask, "Really?"
     At this point I began to be just a little bit afraid to leave the house. We've been studying Job at church and images of Job's suffering were filling my mind. I knew my annoyances compared nothing to Job's suffering, but still, things were heaping up and "forward, though I cannot see. I guess and fear!".
     By Sunday morning I had reached a point of pure agitation. I was in constant pain from aforementioned health issue and I was angry at myself for feeling angry. At one point I firmly sat myself down on a chair and told Steve I was not going to church. Period. (I'm not actually eight years old but I'm good at acting that.) Of course we did go to church but I made up my mind I would not be fake smiling. As the singing began and as our guest speaker began to speak, I felt my heart slowly softening. By the end of church I was "real" smiling without being aware of it.. Our guest speakers that morning were the Bonilla family. Juan Carlos and his family are missionaries in Spain. I had spotted Juan Carlos at Fine Arts Camp the previous week. He was dancing and singing his way down the path between our buildings. His joy was so obvious. I thought a lot about that. We also had the wonderful privilege that Sunday morning of witnessing a family baptize their three children. Pastor Stephen lovingly held each child and reminded us all what it means to dedicate our lives to the Lord and to be called a child of God.
     Anyway, I knew my problems weren't about cars and health. They were all about attitude. I had been losing my focus. It was no longer on God, nor on what it is to walk this life with him. I was trying to handle all life's annoyances in my own strength and I was miserably failing. A friend took me kayaking on Monday and there were no calamitous accidents. I did end up tipped into the river and I did clunk my friend in the head with my kayak. But these were more hilarious than anything. The next evening, other friends invited us to swim in their pool and we had a great conversation about our faith and what it means to live with this faith in our world. And yesterday, I hooked, as I do every week, with my dear and wise friend of eighty-something years and again our conversation centered around our shared faith.  
     I am so glad God turned my face again toward him. I cannot be any kind of help to my family or others when I am consumed by my own problems. Evidently, my best laid schemes were not God's schemes for me this week and because of that, I have been blessed.