God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith;
the warmth of Christmas, which is love;
the radiance of Christmas, which is purity;
the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice;
the belief in Christmas, which is truth;
& all of Christmas, which is Christ.
--Wilda English

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Announcement #2

Heart Surgery Again

Some of you will remember that last September I needed to have heart surgery. At my followup in December, I thought I was doing pretty well & so did my surgeon.  He actually said it looked to him as if the surgery had been successful.  He felt it was safe for me to stop the heart medication I had been taking for 10+ years.  I continued to do well for a few weeks, but then in late January I started having problems again but to a more intense degree.  The symptoms I was experiencing were definitely not what they had been before the September surgery. They took a lot out of me.  I actually ended up having a small heart attack.  (Where does that term come from?  How can any heart attack be considered "small?")  The symptoms I was experiencing lasted about 3 weeks, then disappeared.  I assumed all was well, but they appeared again a few weeks later.  I made an appointment with the surgeon who was quite puzzled as to what was happening.  He thought that perhaps the heart medication I stopped taking in December had actually been masking another heart problem, & that when he had me stop taking it the problem surfaced.  He had me hooked up to a heart monitor for a month & I saw him yesterday for the results. Sure enough, another problem has surfaced, thus the need for another surgery   : (   He stated that I would be contacted by someone later this week to schedule the surgery.  He indicated that he wants me to be scheduled "soon."  

As I did before the last surgery, I will be kitting up some projects so I will have things to work on during my recovery.  I've already started making some meals ahead of time to help John a bit.  

As I did prior to my last surgery, I am asking once again for your prayers.  I will greatly appreciate them.  I will let you know when a date for the surgery has been set.

Announcement #1

Over the past 5 years I never imagined that I would one day be writing a blog post like this, but as you can probably tell by the photo above, John & I have decided not to sell the house & move to parts unknown.  We came to this decision a couple days ago.  We are instead going to try to settle in & make this house a home.  I'm sure stranger things have happened in this world although right now any believable example escapes me.  I keep telling myself that we need our heads examined, but I have been praying for months, & over the past few weeks I have felt so much hesitation when considering a sale that I am going to assume this hesitation is God's answer to my prayers.

This has been my Announcement #1.  In my next post I will unveil Announcement #2.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Flat Phoebe & Real Phoebe

Aren't these the two cutest little girls you've ever seen???  Yes, I am a proud grandma   : )

Sunday, May 18, 2014

God's Will

God's will often seems difficult to see, & sometimes it's difficult to understand His will when we do see it.

Most of us are probably familiar with the passage in 1Kings 19 where God addressed the prophet Elijah in a still, small voice. When I pray & ask God a question, I will sometimes say "God, you know how dense I am.  I need a loud, definite answer to my prayer.  This still, small voice thing doesn't work with me." I even think how great it would be if God would just send Gabriel to appear before me & give me the answers I seek.  I want to do His will, after all.  Why not make it plain to this dunderhead (me) what it is?

I know I'm not the only one who has ever felt this way.  I have been rereading the Gospels these past few weeks & had a good laugh when I came across the following passages in both Matthew's & Mark's account of Jesus responding to a question the Pharisees asked Him.  These passages are in Matthew 15 & in Mark 7.  The Pharisees asked "Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of our elders?  Why do they eat with unwashed hands?"  Jesus responded by telling them a parable regarding how they were concerned with promoting outward expressions of cleanliness when they should really be concerned about the evil & deceit in their own hearts.  Later, as Jesus is sitting with his disciples, they asked Him to explain this parable to them.  You can almost see Jesus' shoulders heave & fall as he takes in a deep breath & sighs.  He asks them ... these men who have been with Him day in & day out for the past 3 years ... "Are you still so dull?" I love The Message translation of what Jesus asks.  "Are you being willfully stupid?"

There are many things that are God's will which are spelled out clearly in the Bible. Other things ... like should I change jobs, should I attend a college close to home or one in another state, should I sell my second car or keep it in case something happens to the other one, & should I sell my house & move somewhere else or stay put ... the answers to these things are not spelled out for us in the Bible.  We must pray & ask Him what we should do, & then we must listen for His response.  His response might be a clear revelation to us ... almost like the sounding of a trumpet.  His response may also be a general feeling of unrest in us ... a sort of hesitation to move forward.

There is, of course, always the chance that we will misinterpret His will for us, or somehow justify what we want to do as being His will.  I'm sure this happens quite often, but God will not abandon us if we make such a mistake.  He is, after all, always with us.    We may have missed His best for us, but He will never leave us or forsake us.

I set my radio alarm so I will wake up early each morning.  I have the radio set to a Christian station.  It helps me to focus on God the moment I awake.  This morning I heard a song I had never heard before.  It is a beautiful song that fits with the theme of this post ... "Help Me Find It" by the Sidewalk Prophets.  I will share it with you here.  I hope you find it as inspiring as I do.

Have a very blessed day!

Friday, May 16, 2014

SAL Report, & Kudos to Diane Williams

Last Thursday Sally & I started a new SAL ... LHN's Warm Winter Woolens.

Honestly, what's not to like about this design?  A sheep (a sheep wearing a sweater yet!), snowflakes, & a reference to warm winter woolens.  It's like it was designed solely for me!  Kudos to designer Diane Williams for such a great design   : )

I had a bit of a problem when starting to stitch the design though.  See those white snowflakes at the top?  Diane suggests using CC's Toasted Marshmallow to stitch them. Well, my skein of Toasted Marshmallow had a bit too much toasted color in the mix.  I like my snowflakes to be snow white.  I then started thinking ... Warm Winter Woolens. Wouldn't it be cool to stitch the design using wool floss?  I just happened to have some skeins of Simply Wool in my stash, & I had perfect matches for the CC colors that Diane suggested! Here's my progress from last Thursday & yesterday.  
You may notice that I somehow miscounted & started the design too low on the fabric.  I was afraid I was going to have to frog last week's work & start again, but thankfully there will still be plenty of room left over at the bottom for framing purposes.  I'm using the same fabric as used in the model ... 32 count Vintage Examplar ... which looks rather washed out here, but it's a gray, rainy day so I'll blame the light source.

And speaking of Diane Williams, remember that huge box of cross stitch magazines my husband brought me home from Half-Price Books a few weeks ago?  This magazine issue was included.   
For the Love of Cross Stitch, July 1999.  Inside is an article titled Portrait of a Designer, & guess who the designer is?  Yep, Diane Williams!  Love that sheep sweater Diane   : )
She contributed this delightful design to the magazine   : )
This month I decided to take a wee bit of a break from stitching Christmas ornaments & I started stitching a small Christmas sampler instead.  No photo of that yet, but I'm enjoying the stitch   : )

I'm sure that some of you are wondering if John & I have made a decision yet regarding selling the house.  The answer to that is no. We do have a plan though.  We are collecting estimates for various repairs & remodels that in our opinion must be done if we are going to find any comfort in staying here.  Things like repairing our front entry door, realigning the door going out to the garage, replacing the door leading from the garage to the outside, installing a window, & having some wall storage units built.  There are many other things we'd like to have done which would have to be done little by little as time goes on.  A new kitchen counter top for example, a bathroom remodel, new bathroom floors, a new staircase, maybe knocking down a wall, new trim work, & repainting all the walls.  Although the way these things are now make us want to barf sometimes, they serve their purpose.  We will collect the aforementioned estimates, then make a decision before the end of the month to sell or not to sell.  In all this move/not move confusion, some other stressors have developed as well.  Isn't that just the way things happen sometimes?  But in all of this stress & confusion, I am clinging tightly to this verse from God's Word ...
Your prayers will continue to be appreciated   : )

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

Wishing all mother's a very happy & blessed Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

April Finishes & Other Stuff

I am rather late posting my April finishes but I've been bustling about getting the house ready to sell.  More about this later.

I have 5 stitching finishes for April.  Three are ornaments; the other two are not .  This puts me at 19 ornament finishes for the year plus a bowl filler finish, a small framing finish, & of course the Snow Angel finish.  I also have the sheep punch needle finish I shared the other day, & I finally finished knitting John's winter scarf   : )

First the stitching finishes.

Heartstring Samplery has some beautiful designs, don't they?  I fell in love with this first one ... a small Christmas sampler.

    Designer:  Heartstring Samplery
Design:  Let Every Heart
from Joy to the World
3 Little Christmas Samplers
Fabric:  40 ct Vintage Examplar linen
Floss:  DMC as suggested

I'm not too sure about the color of the bird sitting on the poinsettia.  It seems to get lost in the background.  What do you think?  Also, I should probably be calling this piece a partial finish because did you notice the blank space to the right of the cross? There's supposed to be a block stitched there with the initials of the stitcher & the date.  You know me ... I'm not a date/initials person unless I'm doing a primitive piece.  I need to find something else to stitch in that space ... perhaps another Christian symbol.  Any suggestions?

The following is another HS design.  This was a quick & easy stitch.  I think it will be an ornament ... I'm not sure yet.
Designer:  Heartstring Samplery
Design:  Heav'n & Nature Sing
from Joy to the World
3 Little Christmas Samplers
Fabric:  Unknown 32 ct linen
Floss:  DMC as suggested

I've had this next design to stitch for a while now ... I just kept putting it off for some reason.  It's a beautiful, meaningful design that came in four different colorways.  I purchased the fabric & floss to stitch all four colorways.  I'm looking forward to see how the others turn out   : )
Designer:  Little House Needleworks
Design:  This Is My Joy
Fabric:  36 ct Parchment linen
Floss:  Belle Soie silk, Red Fox

I stitched this next design for an exchange last year.  I liked it so much that I wanted to stitch one for myself.  Unfortunately I forgot that I used 40 ct linen for the exchange piece.  I used 36 ct for this one.  It just seems a little big to me ornament-wise.  I will probably restitch it using 40 ct.  I also purchased some different colors of floss to try stitching it in different colorways.  
Designer:  Little by Little Design Co.
Design:  Joy of the Snowflake
from 2011 JCSCO 
Fabric:  36 ct mystery linen
Floss:  Soie d'Alger silk

I shouldn't even show this next finish as I carefully pressed the ones above & totally forgot about this one.  Please forgive the wrinkles.  It is one design from a set of 3 primitive Christmas bowl fillers.
Designer:  Country Rustic Primitives
Design:  Christmas Bowl Filler Ornies
Fabric:  Osnaburg
Floss:  DMC as suggested

It had been a long time since I stitched anything on osnaburg & I had forgotten how much I enjoy it!  It's the perfect stitching fabric for primitive designs   : )

Of course if you read my post on April 28, you're already familiar with my first punch needle finish   : )
Designer:  Teresa Kogut
Design:  Got Wool?
Floss:  DMC as suggested

And last, but not least, here is John's winter scarf finish.  Nothing intricate ... just simple garter stitch.  When we were in NYC last year, he saw a scarf like this displayed in one of the knitting shops we visited & he really liked it.  He asked if I could make him one & I said of course!  A couple months after we returned from our trip, we went to a nearby yarn shop & he picked out the colors he wanted me to use.  It's a bit hard to tell but the bottom ends of the scarf are sort of a charcoal gray.  He loves it & is looking forward to wearing it next winter  : )
And that's the end of my April finishes   : )

As far as the house sale goes, I spent the past couple months leisurely de-stashing, de-cluttering, & generally neatening up the place.  Last week I worked like a madwoman ... scrubbing floors on my hands & knees, washing windows, polishing cabinet doors, you name it.  I ached all week, but it was worth it.  The house is cleaner than it's ever been.  Then it happened ... I started having doubts.  Do I really want to give up a house I own in order to be a renter for who knows how long?  I don't understand it.  I've hated this house since we did the walk-through before closing.  There are so many problems & so much work that needs done.  Some things can be fixed, others cannot.  Why haven't I signed a contract for sale already???  I met with a realtor two days ago.  Rather than sign a contract, I told him that John & I needed to discuss things a bit more.  I emailed him the next day with a few questions we had & I am waiting for his response.  From the start I told God that I was leaving everything in His hands.  If He sent us a buyer, fine.  If not, that was fine too.  I just wanted His will to be done.  I was therefore prepared for buyer or no buyer ... I wasn't prepared for having doubts about even listing the place!  Right now I'm just praying for God's guidance.  We will wait to see how the realtor responds to our questions, then go from there.  If you believe in prayer, please join me in asking God to guide me & John on the path we should take. Thank you   : )

Sunday

If you are anywhere near my age, you will remember how Sundays used to be special days set aside to rest & worship God. Without fail, catholics & protestants alike would wake up on Sunday morning & ready themselves to attend church.  You would then come home & enjoy the day.  No businesses were open.  No grocery stores, no malls (the few of them there were back then).  No one came knocking at your door or telephoned you trying to sell you something.  Perhaps friends or relatives would come to your home to join you for a meal.  If the weather was warm, you would maybe sit out on your porch & visit, or take walks around the neighborhood, stopping to spend a few minutes with neighbors you might meet along the way.  Thoughts were focused on God.  Although God was a part of your life each day of the week, Sunday was a day specifically set aside to honor Him. 

My family was not what you'd call a church going family, but Sundays were still dedicated to God.  I remember one time when I was in the 5th grade ... it was Sunday morning & I decided to listen to my new Beatles album.  My mother was in my room before John & Paul finished singing their first "yeah, yeah, yeah."  I believe her words were something to the effect of "Turn off that record player or you'll never see it again."

Nowadays Sundays are, for most people, no different than any other day.  Their mind is focused on things like will their team win the big sports game that afternoon, or will they find just the right shoes to go with their new dress at the mall.  I think there are many people who consider themselves to be Christians who don't give God even one thought on Sundays.  

I know that life is much different in 2014 than it was in 1964.  In many ways this is very sad. Saddest of all is that Sundays are no longer set aside to honor God.  God made the sabbath day a holy day.  We should honor Him by doing so as well.