Thursday, July 28, 2016

Wake Me Up When It Ends

It has been a dark, dark summer.

Election years are never good times. But violence and tragedy worldwide and here in the U.S. have pushed this year to a new level of wretchedness.

I need to unplug from it all for awhile. Life around me has enough trials and troubles of its own. That's enough to deal with.

Last week I realized I was worrying too much about things that are wholly out of my control and I was badly in need of distraction. And, lo and behold, a distraction found me.

A woman my daughter, Lucy, works for asked her if she sews. Lucy said, "No, but my mom does." And the lady gave her an overlock machine! She had bought it years & years ago, hardly used it, and packed it away. She had moved 4 times with the thing and never unpacked it! She figured it hadn't been opened since the early 1990s. She is down-sizing and getting rid of a lot of her stuff.

It is a tiny, portable serger that only holds 3 spools, but the instructions were in the box and I was able to get it threaded and working. Go, me! But that's not all that was in the box....

In the box was a gallon sized zip-lock with fabric strips for a quilt. Seven colors and yards and yards of material. What she was planning to make is a mystery - Lucy's employer doesn't remember it.

I've made a couple of quilted "things" but I have never made a quilt so I've done some research. I think a Log Cabin pattern will work with the colors and amount of material that I have. Plus it is recommended for beginners. I'm not going to escape this endeavor expense free since I need a cutting mat, rotary cutter etc. And batting and backing and edging. Oh, I'm so excited just thinking about it!

I've found an escape. For now.

Pray without ceasing!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Cleanliness is next to godliness. - said no Bible, ever.

As a teenager I worked one summer as a room maid for a resort hotel. My girl friend, Gee, and I got jobs there partly because employees had free use of the water park. I think Gee & I only used the water park once or twice. When our shifts ended we just wanted to get out of there.

Being a maid is not very taxing work. We were armed with a checklist of what needed to be done and in what order and, for most rooms, if you followed the checklist the room got clean lickety-split. On to the next one. There were exceptions, of course. Some people trash hotel rooms. In those cases management is notified and getting the room back in order becomes a team effort.

Point is, cleaning should not get your undies in a bundle. Sometimes cleaning becomes over-analyzed and you start to take it personally. Then instead of a task that can be easily completed when approached methodically, every wipe and every swipe bears some incredible amount of significance. Drama and hand-wringing follow. "Oh, whatever shall we do! The TV needs dusting! Woe, woe is me." In a marriage this often turns into a power struggle - the "good" spouse does the cleaning.

My in-laws fought so much over housework they even separated for a time.

They were both serious neat-freaks.

This has been to my benefit, as I married their son who was sick to death of having to keep his room spotless at all times. I'm okay with him leaving his clothes on the floor. He appreciates that. I realize the dirty clothes will get picked up, eventually, either by him or me. We don't keep track of whose turn it is. It isn't a competition.

I'm not saying neglect is okay. No! Not at all. We are not animals. Cleanliness and order make a comfortable home. Filth invites vermin and odors. I really can't stand either so I will do what it takes to prevent it. But whether or not my TV is dusty or my husband's socks are on the floor has no moral bearing. It is just a task that needs to be done.

When morality gets involved, and cleanliness becomes less about comfort & hygiene and more about spiritual superiority, your home has become your idol. Its "cleanliness" a reflection of your spotless, obedient soul. An outward sign of inward glory. Pride & idolatry go hand in hand.

There isn't much that can be done about it. We are sinners. We sin. We do the right thing for a thousand wrong reasons. Confess, repent, try try again. Try not to judge other peoples standards, whether too clean or too messy. It just doesn't matter.

What saved my in-laws marriage was hiring a housekeeper. Instead of fighting over who left a fingerprint on the refrigerator, they'd shrug and say, "Let Terri get it on Thursday."

St. Zita, patron saint of housekeepers. She'll help you find your keys. Of course, if your house wasn't so messy you wouldn't have lost them. A place for everything and everything in its place. ;-)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

If Jesus Led a Bible Study

As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”
The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” (The Message)

I think a Jesus led Bible study would focus more on the gospel and less on the law. More discussion on what He wants us to believe and less on what He wants us to do. Like in the Mary/Martha story. The woman at the well is probably a better example because we do not have a record of what Jesus was saying in front of Mary & Martha. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Book You've Read at Least Once

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


I last read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school. I didn't intend to re-read it, but the e-book happened to be available from our library and Harper Lee's recent death made me realize how little of the story I remembered. 

I'm from a small town and grew up in a relatively poor family but my family lived in that county for 6 generations so I was related to "everyone." There is a sort of status in having a lot of cousins. Even though my family was nothing special, we were related to some who were. I knew families like the Ewells and Cunninghams and Finches. I knew a kid like Dill. A lot of what Lee writes about small town life resonates as true with me. Probably more so now that I have moved away from it all. Time and maturity have altered my perspective. Rose-colored glasses are firmly in place.

It was nice to read something so good that I stayed up late to keep reading, even though I knew what was going to happen in the story. Does that make sense? Anyhoo -- 2 down, 10 to go.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

2 Yrs L8r

Two years in Arizona, already! Still feel out of my element, but less so.

The old saying is "bloom where you are planted." I am not blooming. But not withering and dying, either. More just living. Just being. But life is like a bicycle, you have to pedal now and then if you want to get anywhere. The only time you can coast forever is on the final downhill run.  I need to stop coasting. Life is getting dangerously slow and unsteady. So pedal I shall.

Blooms are happening around me if not within me! And hummingbirds are loving these two in the yard.

And it looks like I will pick my first tomato tomorrow, with many more to follow.

Summer break starts next week. I welcome the brief change of routine and a bit more sleep in the mornings. And time to enjoy a cup of tea on the patio at the start of my day. Perhaps that is all the fertilizer I need to get my bloom on.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Strong's #2428

The Hebrew word translated variously as “virtuous” or “noble character” or "worthy" in Proverbs 31:10 is only used to describe one other woman in the Bible – Ruth (Ruth 3:11). As we know from her story, Ruth was a very hard working woman and not the Angel in the House many want to twist the Proverbs 31 woman into. Ruth is also a foreshadow of Mary. I think we protestants latch onto the imaginary Proverbs 31 woman and ignore the flesh-and-blood Mary as a model of womanhood because the reality of Mary We are comfortable making an idol from the mythical Proverbs 31 woman because we tell ourselves we can become her if we try, try, try. One only needs to look in the mirror to greet her early each day before heading off to tackle that to-do list! But apparently praying to have the faithfulness and humility of Mary would be idolatry. Go figure.

And what is to be gained if I become the perfect Proverbs 31 Woman and dance about telling everyone? The comfort that I can rely on myself to work out my personal salvation? The honor of others looking to me as an example? Oh, yes, I am promised that my children and husband will arise and call me blessed. The word vainglory comes to mind.

No. Not going to do it.

Ruth & Mary humbled themselves as servants. The better choice.

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38 ESV)

He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” (Ruth 3:9 ESV)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

B&W vs. Kodachrome

The devil's favorite color is gray. - G.K. Chesterton

Years ago I read Ben Franklin's list of virtues that he tried to abide by and how he evaluated himself daily. I thought that was a bit extreme, but I found the idea of 7 deadly sins vs. 7 heavenly virtues a more attainable challenge, at least in my head.

The best way to score oneself on this Vice/Virtue challenge is to imagine it is like a customer service survey where Always is on the far right and also on the far left. 50/50 is in the middle. Always on the far left is BLACK and Always on the far right is WHITE.  Anything in between is a shade of gray.

Immediately we fail because no one can check "Always Humble" without pride. And we continue to fail because practicing these virtues perfectly is impossible.

We can hope to live our lives in the lighter shades of gray. Perhaps leading a light gray life is a sign of a person with very good character, but real life isn't light gray. It's blue and green and yellow and pink and so on. Those nice bright colors, the greens of summer, makes me think all the world's a sunny day (oh, yeah)...Everything looks worse in black & white.

The world around us is colorful and vibrant and interesting. It is also imperfect (but that is okay)! Let go of perfectionism and enjoy the ride. That is truly a challenge but those who can do that have genuinely good character.