“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Monday, December 31, 2007

Handmade Christmas Gifts

my very first cable project!

Okay, I have a couple more knitting projects that almost did not make it to the intended receiver... I wanted to keep them! We exchange names in Anthony's family for Christmas. We can choose to make a gift or buy one. I knew Cammyk would enjoy something handmade. At first I thought about socks... but then I saw the above hat pattern at NW Wools. It is made from alpaca silk in an off-white. It was my first cable project and I loved it. So did Cammyk!

Swap Box Project

From the Swap I did earlier in the year... I received some delicious fat quarters, buttons, doilies, and a Christmas CD. I had wanted to do a project that incorporated some of these items together. So, I decided it would be a great idea to give the cable hat in it's own special box. I took a box... hot glued fabric to the top of the box as if it was gift wrap... cut one of the doilies to the desired size... added some buttons... used some left over alpaca silk yarn as a ribbon... and Voila!

Lisa's Wishlist

When I asked my sister for ideas for Christmas gifts... she said a Vera Bradley bag or my raincoat (no, literally MY raincoat) or something to throw over her shoulders to keep her warm at work. Well, two out of three. I decided to pull the colors for the "caplet" from the Vera Bradley bag. I realized that I had all the colors in my leftover yarn stash. Yarn from my vest, her vest, my poncho, Christopher's throw, Ruth's hat (Anthony's Mom), and Tamra's scarf (from last year's gift exchange). I had to convince myself that I had enough to make one for me (or I would have kept it for myself). It's perfect for when I'm sitting reading with a throw over my lap and the caplet on my shoulders. I guess I have to make my own now.
Why Knot!

A couple weeks ago I was at the Dollar Tree hunting for some bargains. I found this Lion Brand yarn for a dollar a skein. I thought.... why not make a caplet for mom, too!

Any more handmade requests? That is after I make my caplet...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Traditions

The Waffle House Tradition

One of our favorite Christmas Traditions is to take my mom to Waffle House on the night of Christmas Day.  We pile into the Waffle House and end the evening with a reallly big tip for our deserving waitress.

Merry Christmas, Tiffany!

So here are some more of our Christmas Traditions...
  • Thanksgiving Weekend.  Put up Christmas tree as soon as possible, so that we can enjoy it before we leave for Maryland.  Make sure the tree is artificial.  Otherwise, we have to take it down before we leave for Maryland... or sweep up what is left of the dried up tree when we return from Maryland.
  • By December 15th.  This year... wise up!  Shop, wrap and mail presents parcel post to Maryland.  
  • Three days before Christmas.  Anthony and Christopher and I open our gifts so that we can enjoy them a little before we leave for Maryland.
  • Immediately after opening gifts start doing laundry so we have clean clothes for Maryland.
  • Two days before Christmas.  Pack.  One carry-on each for trip.  Not waiting for luggage is a good thing! 
  • Anthony stays up late finishing 2007 DVD.  Gets to bed around 2am.
  • Morning of Christmas Eve.  Sheri wakes up at 2am and can't fall back asleep.
  • Get up before alarm goes off at 3:30am.
  • Out of the house at 4:30am to catch flight to Maryland.
  • Arrive Maryland.  Hop in rental car.  Drive to Aunt Linda's where family has already eaten dinner.  Dinner is still warm, so fix a plate of yummy traditional food prepared by my family and wait for Santa to arrive.
  • Santa. Chaos. Cousins.  Presents. Presents. Presents.
  • Take Mom home.  Head to Boonsboro for sleep.
  • Christmas Day. Try to sleep in. Wrap miscellaneous gifts.
  • Exchange gifts with Mom and have dinner at Waffle House.
  • Day after Christmas Day.  Head to FreckledFarm for more Chaos. Cousins. Presents. Presents. Presents.
  • Day after day after Christmas Day.  Exchange presents with my sis and niece.  Have lunch at Ledo's with Mom, Lisa & Anne.  
  • Take Lisa up on her offer to ship presents back to Portland. 
  • Day after day after day after Christmas Day.  Pack.  Say more good-byes.  Get on plane.
  • Exhausted.  Arrive home after midnight (3am EST).  
And I thought we didn't have traditions!  I'm not complaining.  I'm glad I have traditions!  Especially the chaos, the cousins and the mounds of gift wrap everywhere!  

Who needs Christmas Day at home in their pajamas?  Isn't that what the day after the day after the day after the day after Christmas is for anyway?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas to All

Merry Christmas!

Now, I answer the question... Where have I been the past week?  

I have been busy knitting.  Christopher now has a sweater that matches his Daddy's.  We were such a cute matching family this morning at church.  (I had made the poncho two years ago, but thought it went well with the sweaters.)  When I made Anthony's sweater I knit stockinette (knit one row, purl the next).  It had a a really loose feel, so I used a rib pattern (knit 5, purl 2) for Christopher's.  Too tight!  I'm going to try and block Christopher's sweater... it was a surprise, so I hadn't gotten a chance to try it on him.  Otherwise... do I rip it apart and start over?  Yikes!  But I've done it before.

Well, just in case I don't get a chance to say it in person, "Merry Christmas!"  Don't worry... my Christmas Card to you did not get lost in the mail.  We didn't send one this year.  I'm feeling really guilty about it.  I love opening all the Christmas wishes from my friends.  Maybe I can send an e-mail Christmas Card?  I just need to add the ripping of the envelope sound.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Friendships of Women #5

Thoughts on Chapter 6, The Risk of Love

For Spring Break this past year, Anthony, Christopher and I went to Mexico. Christopher loooves to go swimming. As we saw him at the top of this ledge, we thought to ourselves, "Wow! Look how close Christopher is to that ledge. He'll back away from it quickly. He would never take that risk."

I have had some of my friends (yes, I know I do have friends) talk to me about being almost too vulnerable on my posts about friendships. Some are concerned, some have asked how I am doing, some discussed why they haven't left a comment, or some wonder how I can vacillate so quickly between loneliness and contentment.

Trust me. I do not like being vulnerable. Sharing my deep dark thoughts... well, that might make me look needy. It might make people think that I am talking about them. Well, I am needy and I am talking about some of you.

I am so tired of being on this roller coaster of uncertainty. I long to be content, mature and healthy in my friendships. The Lord has been saying to me... let's flesh this out. Let's work through the pain. And by the way, let's explore where this pain came from. So, it's okay. I really want to work this through.

And guess what? I am not alone. But you know what? I thought I was. Really! I didn't think other women wondered why they weren't included in a luncheon that their friends had together. That they might feel rejected. And oh, by the way, I've made other women feel that way, too. Ouch!

So, interestingly enough, my vulnerability has sparked your vulnerability. It is bringing us closer together. So, my risk, in the long run... has become my reward.

Well, we were wrong about Christopher. He dove (er, cannonballed) right in... and then again and again. You know what? He had the time of his life. He had never done anything like this before, but he was willing to take the risk... jump completely in... and discover this was actually fun.

How about you? Let's go grab our bathing suits. I promise, no pictures!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Home to Holly Springs Review

I'll be gentle, kind reader.

I was so excited to be able to borrow a copy of Home to Holly Springs from the Library. Considering there is still a waiting list of over 100 people. I've missed Father Tim and Cynthia. I knew the book would be "different" from the Mitford novels, but I'm dying to find out what happens to Dooley and Lace, so I am compelled to keep reading.

I was not prepared for all of the new characters. My little mind had a hard time trying to remember who was new and where they fit in to the history of Holly Springs or the present of Holly Springs. Especially when two of the main characters have the same name, Peggy.

The dust jacket cover said that Father Tim discovered many "disturbing" things from his past. Let me tell you, if you are looking for "disturbing" you will not be disappointed. I actually had to skip a portion or two due to the disturbing nature of some excerpts of the novel.

My funny quirky thing I do have to share... Okay, so maybe I should consider proof-reading as a second profession! At the beginning of chapter 27, "Now allowed to drink, [Cynthia] had lost no time in renting a car and amusing herself at the library, a museum, and the bookstores." A little background, Cynthia had hurt her leg, and so was not allowed to drive (not drink). I have to say, I did find this little faux-pas amusing.

Because I am so desperate to find out about Lace and Dooley, I will give the second novel a try when it is published. But if it includes the word "disturbing" on the book dust jacket cover... well, I think I'll just have to pass.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Excuse Me While I Sharpen My #2 Pencil

I am currently studying Elijah in my "quiet time." Elijah is the prophet who had the guts to make fun of the god, Baal. (I Kings 18:21-39). Elijah taunted the worshippers of Baal, "Shout louder... Perhaps he [Baal] is in deep thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened." Then the very next day, Jezebel vowed to kill Elijah. He was so afraid that he ran for his life and wanted to die! (I Kings 19:1-9) The VERY NEXT DAY...

Ouch! This reminds me of... ME! One day I will feel content in my relationships - and the next day I'll be having a pity party. "So and So has not called me back!" "This person let me down, again." "No one left a comment about this post." "I'm lonely. I have no friends. What is wrong with me, Lord?!" Yuck, I hate even writing this down! The truth hurts.

About two months ago, I was having a conversation with one of my friends. (Yes, I really do have friends!) She is an attractive well-put-together business woman. We made a pact - when we start to feel like we are "alone" or "lonely" - we call the other person, so that we are not relying upon our own judgment. Well, of course, I did not call her... I can handle this on my own, right? I realize it would have helped if I would have called her as soon as I started "feeling" this way.

God did provide encouragement. A kindred spirit who I contact probably once a year. Her name is Christine. We met at church in Frederick back in 1995. Just months before we loaded up the wagons to head to Oregon. Our hearts knit immediately and we wondered out loud why God would bring us together only to share a few months of fellowship. She even used Ruth 1:16-17 in her wedding vows. She made a calligraphy of the verses in a frame which still sits at my bedside over twelve years later.

Christine had sent me her Christmas card via e-mail. I decided to invite her to visit my blog. She sent the most encouraging e-mail. When I read her words they were like sustenance to the soul. No longer was I relying on my feelings - having my pity party.

God has been dealing with me on my "friendships with women." I say to Him, "I thought we already worked through this..." and He says, "we have, but on this test, I want you to not just pass, but get 100%. So, you are going to be refined... and perhaps share what you have learned in the process." (I remembered hearing this test analogy from Beth Moore's study on Daniel. The final DVD of the study.)

So, here I am... pulling out a sharpened #2 pencil... will you join me, friend?

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Friendships of Women #4

But Ruth replied,

"Don't urge me to leave you or
to turn back from you.
Where you go I will go, and
where you stay I will stay.
Your people will be my people and
your God my God.
Where you die I will die, and
there I will be buried.
May the LORD deal with me,
be it ever so severely,
if anything but
death separates you and me."
Ruth 1:16-17

The Friendships of Women

Chapters 4 & 5 discuss the relationship between Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Like many women, I asked for Ruth 1:16-17 to be put into my wedding vows. But these verses are between two women. Ruth who is being REJECTED by Naomi is vowing to stay with her. Most of us would have come to the logical conclusion that Naomi didn't need us or WANT us. But not Ruth.

Many times, I come upon women who are hurting and in need. When I ask if they need help, they tell me that it is not necessary. I don't want to be a pest. I really want to help... if only I knew what to do. Whether I should go and help. The book shares the thought, "If she is a good friend, -- GO!" Well, what constitutes "good"? There are so many women who I know and love, but I realize that they may not feel the same way about me... that they have not given me permission to be that "good" of a friend to just come over... and listen... or help... when they have said, "It is not necessary."

This is where I run into difficulty with the verse I spoke of in the post "The Friendships of Women #3." "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." -- James 4:17. Sometimes I feel compelled to help anyone in need... to do the good I ought. I almost track them down. It is a battle within myself to determine... Am I a good enough friend that I should persist here? Or does this woman have closer friends that could minister to her in a way I am not able?

I thank God for prayer. I can always ask God for wisdom in each circumstance. And I can always bring any sister to the Lord in prayer. It is not that I shirk responsibility when I say that I will pray for someone... It means that I am taking my full responsibility for someone when I remember her in my prayers.

I have not stopped giving thanks for you,
remembering you in my prayers.
Ephesians 1:16

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

In Memory of Jack Sr.

Jack Sr. and Sheri

My step-father passed away a year ago today. It is an "anniversary" of sorts. One normally thinks of an anniversary as a happy event, but today... not so much. I still cannot believe that he has passed away. I knew him for about 25 years... it seems just like yesterday.

Jack was the man who walked me down the aisle. Who encouraged me to attend a college that would challenge me. Who attended my "Parent Day" events at college with my mom. Who taught me how to drive. Who bought my first car... and then let me pay him back $75 a month so I didn't have to endure interest payments. Who drove my mom and me to my biological father's funeral.

Don't get me wrong... trust me... I haven't forgotten the darker side of our relationship. Like the day when I informed him that he was not my father. That he uprooted me in the middle of my junior year of high school... so that I graduated with people I barely knew...

Over the years, I asked God to give me a love for Jack. And He did. It made it easier to be with him... It made it easier for me.

I still regret not seeing him last year when we went back to Maryland in November. I could have seen him, but it was getting so hard to visit the nursing home. I was afraid it would break me. And less than a week later there was the phone call in the middle of the night. Then he was gone.

My first thought at that time was remembering this photo. Jack at his prime.

I called my mom today to reminisce. And she asked if we could light a candle and say a prayer when I visit at Christmas... of course, Mom... it would be my pleasure to help you work through your loss.

I know that I can not heal her pain, but I know the One who can.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

Monday, December 3, 2007

Congratulations to Our Winner!

Congratulations to Aunt Tamra!

She won a box full of Christmas Goodies for entering our November 10th contest. (We'll have to see if we can sneak in some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups!)

Thanks to all who entered!

The Friendships of Women #3

On Tuesday mornings, you can find me at my church hosting (leading/facilitating) one of the tables at the Ladies' Bible Study. It has been an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to get to know the ladies around my table.

For the Christmas season, our study is on break. But I wanted to meet with these ladies one more time until January. So, I invited them over for Girl Talk and Holiday Munchies. A little lunch, some lit candles, Christmas music and a beautiful raspberry cake brought by one of the gals. Oh, yes, and of course, coffee! with cream and sugar (er, Splenda), please! These women are such a joy to me. Unassuming. Grateful. Kind. We sat and ate and talked. What a wonderful thing... to get together for the pure enjoyment of friendship.

And so this leads us on to Chapters 2 & 3 of The Friendships of Women....

This particular Bible Study was the first time in about nine years that I have led or helped to lead a table. So, my table was already assigned, but during those nine or so years when I was not leading a table, I always dreaded the first day of Bible Study. At which table would I sit? Since, as we have already discovered, I do not have a "best" (read: one and only) friend... I would search the room seeing many ladies I know... But... Where would I feel "comfortable"? Will this table talk more or review the lesson more? (I'm more of the review-the-lesson type of girl.) What is the "age group" of this table? Do I know all of these ladies? Will I fit in? God, help me to sit at the right table! I don't want to be all alone at a table with seven other ladies.

I realize I am not alone in this feeling. Recently, I had spoken with one lady who was completely new to the Bible Study and does not attend our church. When she would come on Tuesday mornings, she thought all the ladies at her table attended our church. She was hurt when one gal didn't reach out to her. When I shared with her that the "one gal" didn't attend our church and had been brought by a friend and had still felt a little out of place, well, that changed her perspective... her expectations... her feeling of being branded "an outsider."

But it is not always the one looking in that needs the adjustment... sometimes when we are having our own needs for intimacy met, it is easy to slide into complacency about the needs of others. We think... well, I'm new, too. I've just begun to fit in... so we don't even look around and see that sitting next to us is someone who is just trying to fit in, too.

I encourage the ladies at my Bible Study table to create bonds of friendship. But in creating that bond, will a newcomer sense our intimacy and "feel" immediately that she is an outsider... and does not fit in... No matter how much we reassure her that she is welcome into our circle... she feels just a few steps behind... she doesn't share all that we have shared.... and so, does not return back.

Well, I wonder to myself how I can reconcile all of this... it seems so complicated!
Perhaps each woman needs to:
  • Realize that there is a void that God has created within each person
  • Realize only God can fill that void
  • Depend daily upon God to fill that need through prayer and the study of His Word
  • Establish friendships wisely; and
  • Be aware of those women God has placed around us.
James 4:17 says "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." The sin of omission. Let us each consider if we could just lift someone's spirit today by giving them a smile or just saying "hello!"