Those Who Go Before Us

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I ran across this cartoon on Facebook, and it touched me. (I have no clue to whom the credits are due.) Memories of those wonderful people who have gone on before me, waft in and out of my mind throughout the year, but during the Christmas season, it seems like there is just this barrage of memories that assault me. So many of the traditions we follow each year have threads of these precious folk woven through them.

Through this barrage of memories, it could be easy to get wrapped up in the sadness and stay in that dream world.

Traditions – if we let them – can serve as a type of Balm for healing, I think. Remembering what those precious folk taught us and meant to us and lived for can spur us on to continue on, live in joy, keep the faith. Traditions can also keep us trapped in the past. I guess it’s important to learn when to embrace tradition and when to let go and begin new ones.

May your Christmas past be a Balm of healing memories so that your  Christmas present is joyful and strong and you make way for your Christmas future!!

What traditions do you have that bring peace to you at Christmas?

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Thoughtful Thursday (A Plan and Encouragement)

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I love writing. I always have.

I used to write letters all the time. I think I kept USPS from the brink of bankruptcy, actually. Something happened, though, when my son died that made letter writing difficult; I’m sure some psychologist somewhere would be able to explain why to me, but after Ben’s death, letter writing was just not on my radar.

Although I never did recoup my letter writing fervor, I continued writing using newsletters and blogs as my venue. Then I became a social worker. Naturally through the course of my job, I write days and days and days worth of reports and I’ve got to admit, that type of writing and the focus of the work I do seem to suck the creative side of my brain right out of my head.

And a lop-sided head means no joy for me.

A couple of years ago, I made an effort to bring some creativity back in my life. I realized that to go through life seeing ugly things and working with crisis and drama and trauma every single day all the time without an end in sight was not good. You’ve seen a lot of what I’ve been crafting and thinking about crafting throughout these last  months.

That has been good, but not quite enough.

I need to write.

I want to show (off) my crafts and crafty-ideas.

I’ve decided that I’m going to try to organize my blogging attempts to 1) be more consistent in posting, and 2) be more organized in how I post. I need a little more consistency and organization in my life!

Welcome, Thoughtful Thursday! On Thursdays I will post writings that are more thoughtful, encouraging and spiritual. I am usually mulling over ideas throughout the week, and it would benefit me to write those ideas down. Maybe someone might get encouraged by it. Maybe not. But I have given you a head’s up!

I love hearing from readers! Let me know what YOU’RE thinking and up to!

The Clarence Effect

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When I was a child, we seldom ate in restaurants, so when we were able to go out to eat, it was a really big deal. I remember one day, my mom told us that we were going to Indianola, a nearby town. It was such a cool town, because they had an A&W Rootbeer. For some reason that day, we were all going to Indianola and we were going out for supper at the A&W!

I was beside myself. I was outside playing in our front yard, when Clarence our next door neighbor started washing his car. Clarence was kind of a big shot in our town, but I didn’t know it then. When I told him about our upcoming trip to A & W, he was about as excited as I was. We talked about the menu – whether we were going to eat in our car or if we were going inside. He liked how they had root beer in the chilled glasses. He also taught me how to say Indianola. I’m not sure how I was pronouncing it, but he let me know the correct way.

That day was over 40 years ago, and I can remember it like it was yesterday!

Now, Clarence really didn’t do anything all that special. He didn’t spend a dime (well, that day he didn’t spend a dime; I think he bought every fund-raising product I sold), he didn’t take a ton of time out of his schedule, and he got his car washed. What he did do was to listen to a little kid and engage that little kid in meaningful conversation.

In my life as a social worker, I’ve learned that there are many studies that tell us that just one caring adult in the life of a child can impact that child’s future success or failure! One positive adult role model can provide a sense of stability for a child. When a child has healthy bonds with positive adult role models the youth is less likely to be in trouble or engage in risky behavior and is less likely to drop out of school.

Now, I don’t think Clarence was nice to me because he had read these studies and had determined to make a difference in the life of a kid. He was just an all around nice guy. It was second nature to him. I do think our society has changed a bit. As a general rule, we are much more busy. Our schedules are full and our minds are often distracted.

What if we take a few minutes during the course of our days to pay attention to the people around us? What if we engaged our neighbors in real conversations? What if we cleared up our calendars to slow down a bit?

We just might make that kind of impact, too. Being kind, having conversations, encouraging…

World changing stuff. One kid at a time.

Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle! (Rag Quilt)

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I have been enjoying looking through Pinterest and finding out what other people are doing. I saw a rag rug posted there that got the creative wheels turning. Here’s the thing. I really don’t like cutting little squares in order to sew everything back together again. But then I saw a post from Do it Yourself Divas and knew I had to try that one. Well, I knew I had to try something like that one.

Rag Quilt

Of course, I changed it up a bit. Here’s what I did:

  • I did not use batting.
  • I cut the strips all different sizes, but made sure to cut double layers so that I would have two of each size.
  • I pinned the two sizes together right after cutting, so I would have to waste time searching for the matching strip. (I mean, seriously. How much time to I waste with every project just looking for what I laid down?)
  • I made blocks of strips so that the strips weren’t all going the same way. (I liked the change up)
  • I made sure to clean out my washing machine after washing this quilt. There are so many loose threads that could mes up the machine if I didn’t.

Most of the fabric in this quilt was leftover from different projects, so it was good to use up the scraps. I did purchase a couple of the fabrics, so I would be able to add some color. I love how it turned out, and I think it made a nice gift.

Sweet!!

I really want to encourage you to just dive in and try it if this kind of craft appeals to you! Don’t worry about perfection. Have fun. Enjoy. De-stress.

It’s a wonderful thing!

How to Reduce Stress

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I have this sneaking suspicion that the title caught your attention. Am I right?

If I’m right and the title caught your attention, then you must be feeling stressed right now. Overwhelmed. Anxious. And here’s what I’m NOT going to do. I’m not going to throw out some well placed verses from the Bible that tell you to stop being that way. Cause I’m tired of that, too.

I am going to sit with a cup of coffee and just write down some of the thoughts that have been going through my mind today. When I spent some time in prayer, I kind of poured out my heart to God this morning. I feel on the edge of burnout, which in my job can have such negative repercussions  Hello. Have you met burned out social workers? They’re not so social and usually aren’t that nice.

I am very worried about becoming a “letter of the law” follower and not so much a “spirit of the law” follower. I believe each has two different outcomes. So, for a while this morning, I just sat in quiet. Well, as quiet as one can be with a demanding baby kitty in the room.

My mind started wandering to the old Sunday School lessons I learned about the Genesis account of the beginning of the Earth. In that account, God created a lovely, perfect world and placed a couple of people there. These people were given the task of going forth and multiplying. That’s it. In a perfect garden, enjoying each other and the creation around them.

Of course, that isn’t the end of the story, and it seems that we humans have done a pretty good job of screwing up perfection. I can’t live in the Garden of Eden; I have to live in the world I’ve been given. And that world includes seeing and hearing very ugly things. That world is filled with packed calendars and very high expectations.

I’m pretty sure it’s vital to have Garden time regularly. I shouldn’t wait until I am at the brink of burn out before I take some time to recoup. What if I figured out a way to just be alone with my thoughts and focus on my God a few minutes throughout the day. What would that do?

What would your Garden time look like? For me, I desperately need uninterrupted time to let my brain just be. No planned readings, nobody interrupting my thoughts. Just being free to wander to and fro. During that time, I am usually crafting, or doing dishes, or laundry, or just sitting. Sometimes I am actually in my garden pulling weeds, digging holes or planting flowers.

Fill up time. Garden time. Sabbath.

Lovely.

Garage Sales and Good Friends

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I love garage sales, and I love my friends. It’s great when the two can collide!! Saturday my hubby and I decided to take it easy and hit a few garage sales. Lucky for us, our friends had the made the same decision!! On our way in to town, we were talking about how much we missed The Ds, and wouldn’t you know it, we found them at the first garage sale!

We spent the next few hours laughing, joking and just hanging out; there was no agenda except good old fashioned fun. I found some great bargains so I can maybe complete a pinned Pintrest project. Or not.

 

 

 

 

 

I scored these cute miniature tea-cup and saucer sets. So pretty, and I thought they would be great in my fairy garden! We’ll see how fast I get that done!

The lamp sports a shade that is in GREAT shape – perfect for a photo shade I found on Pintrest! A little spray paint on the glossy brass pole and we’re good to go!

Throughout the day, we were blessed. Many of the folks we visited invited us into their homes or their gardens to show us their projects! D and I oohed and ahhed over our hosts’ work. We raced each other to kitchen ware (we both have boys getting their own apartments), and we would laugh some more.

We have a history, The Ds and us. Our children have grown up together, we’ve shared joys and sorrows and our friendship is one of those that you can pick up after a long time of absence. I think The Ds were the best bargain of the day!

What If?

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It occurred to me  as I’ve been trying desperately to wake up this rainy morning, that perhaps if I paid more attention during the day, God wouldn’t have to wake me up to give me the answers to the questions I’ve been asking.

Yesterday I was wrestling a bit with some dilemmas related to my job. I often wrestle with work related things. Last night, though, I woke up and I had a plan. Amazing. It makes sense, it’s exactly what needs to happen, and I know this is the direction I need to take.

Trouble is. I’m tired today.

What if:

  • I turned the volume of my life down during the day?
  • I dedicated a portion of my day to quiet?
  • Instead of the radio, I tuned in to God?
Lord, You have my attention.