Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday Musings ~ Reflections

The sun is setting as I type these words, the sky a canvas of soft colors. It’s been a hard day, but Christmas music spills into the room now, leaving me with thoughts of Friday evening, when family gathered in my little dining room for a time of celebrating the birthdays of my niece, Leslie (pie’s mother), and her husband, Justin, who, by the way, is the builder of the two benches you see here—the latest additions to my dining room. I love how they add a farmhouse touch.


Photos by Swindell Photography
Leslie eloped with her prince charming in October. Watching the two of them, and pie, start a life together fills me with joy. I pray they always hold each other close and never let anything or anyone come between them. The only way to have a long-lasting marriage, and reap the rich rewards that come with it, is for two people to determine to stay together, no matter what. I should know, as I've been married for 34 years.



In a few minutes, I’ll put on a load of laundry and take to the couch where I hope to finish up this ruffle scarf that some "lucky "person will receive at the family Christmas gift swap. We’ve decided Christmas will be simple and small this year, just the way I like it.



Later, as day slips into night, I will sit in silence, with the lights turned low, and take pleasure in the glow of the little pencil tree. I don't recall when this ritual began for me, but I've practiced it during the Christmas season for many years. There's something uplifting about it. No matter how dismal the day may have been, how difficult the tasks, how heavy the load, all of it seems to fade away in the light of the tree.

Until next time, dear friends, may the cares and worries you carry grow dim in the Light of Christmas.


"Joy to the world, the Lord has come."


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Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmastime is Here

After Christmas last year, I decided to give away my Christmas tree. I'd only had it a couple of years but found it challenging to decorate, not because of its size, but because of the way the branches were put together.

So, that left me with no tree this year and since I wasn't in the mood to shop for a new one, I borrowed one from twin sister.


It's called a "pencil" tree, and for good reason. It's tall and skinny. I'm still getting used to the thinness of it, but I think it works just fine.

I wasn't able to put all of my ornaments on this skinny tree, but in keeping with tradition, I used my dated ornaments collection. This collection started in 1980 and gets added to each year.


Can you guess what 2014's dated ornament is? I bought it during our October getaway to Pigeon Forge and I'd say it perfectly depicts the highlight of the year. I'm calling it the "year of the bump." There's also a dated ornament that holds one of cupcake's ultrasound pics.


As always, my tree includes some of the homemade ornaments twin sis and I made almost 40 years ago. The gold and bead trimmed mirror, and the little hat, are two of those ornaments.





It's obvious that I love a tree that has lots of ornaments.

***

In the dining room, I draped a garland with lights over my old pie safe and hung the little cupcake ornaments I bought in Pigeon Forge, in honor of the upcoming arrival of my granddaughter that I will call my cupcake. (Cupcake's arrival is only two-and-a-half months away! Eeeeek! I'm excited!)


Someone adorable graces this end-table. That would be my precious baby girl who is fixing to have her own baby girl.




Christmastime is here.

Until next time, dear friends, may we never lose sight of the reason for the season. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

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Monday, December 1, 2014

A Full House ~ Scenes from a Blessed Life

Dear friends, Thanksgiving has come and gone. Ours was a smaller gathering this year but still we were surrounded by beautiful people, and one entirely delectable pie. She took my breath away, as always. 

As we crowded into Mother’s tiny kitchen, filled with the aroma of a Southern feast—cornbread dressing, roasted turkey, pot-roast, carrots, scalloped potatoes, corn casserole, sweet potatoes, macaroni-and-cheese, pinto beans, and turnip greens—we joined hands in prayer, thanking God for his undeserved blessings and for the gift of each other.


Later, as I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air, I looked at my parents’ home and considered all that has occurred in this house, in this yard, in the last four decades. Yes, the kitchen is still too small, and the stove is still harvest gold, but the memories made inside its four walls have lasted a lifetime.

There are times when we long to have more in our lives—a new stove, a bigger kitchen—but when we look fully at what we have, we often realize we have need of nothing. All we need, we already have.


Until next time, dear friends, I've been captivated by the shades of autumn that have trickled down our way. The neighborhood is alive with color. The next few days will find me attempting to ready my home for the Christmas season. Fingers crossed that I can get ‘er done.

***

Linking up with Laura Boggess

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Crocheting Hearts and a Solemn Pledge

Disclosure: This post contains photos of crochet projects, but I promise to not become a crazy-crocheting-grandmother-gone-wild. You have my solemn pledge.


During the time I was away in October, I enjoyed making small crochet projects in my downtime, anticipating cupcake's arrival. Everything I made was super simple (I actually made up a couple of designs, using bits and pieces from separate patterns) and I can see how it would be easy to get carried away and whip out a dozen or more each. (See Disclosure.)

The amazing thing about crochet projects is a) for every design out there, you can find a hundred different patterns that will result in that design, with a few variations throughout; b) there are free patterns galore on the Internet, nice people who share either their own design, or the design of another crocheter (with permission) for no charge at all; and c) if you have no prior knowledge of crocheting, you can pretty much learn how via YouTube tutorials, including how to interpret a pattern. 

Oh, the world in which we live.


Recently, I came across the easiest and prettiest heart pattern that I've tried yet, which is why I'm sharing it with you. This photo came from the link for the instructions, but you can see the two pink ones I made in a collage from my Monday post.

The designer of this heart pattern is June Gilbank and she is from South Africa. June asks for donations if you download the PDF version of the pattern, but she posts the pattern on her blog and states that the pattern is free for the using, so I took her up on that. Thank you, dear June.



I especially like the smallest heart (could it be any cuter?) and made this little white one to attach to a store-bought hat, shown in the above-referenced posted. I added the extra circular embellishments to the heart, for no reason and just because. (See Disclosure.)

Until next time, dear friends, my hands may or may not be busy. Carry on and keep crocheting.





Monday, November 17, 2014

The Cozy Month of November ... and Cupcake

The rain has fallen off and on now for a week, bringing brisk days and cold nights. Tonight's low is a predicted 26-degrees. Hello and BRRR! Such weather makes a perfect backdrop for homemade potato soup. Although this isn’t a photo of my potato soup, I like to think mine tastes better than anyone else’s. It's the dill weed I put in it that rocks my taste buds.

Since returning home from our month-long holiday, I’ve enjoyed the company of family, and especially the little ones, but I’ve mostly stayed on the sofa, with a quilt wrapped around me. I didn't tell you that I fell, just as our time away was coming to a close, but I did, right in the middle of Cloud Nine and not on a sidewalk, thank the good Lord. Nothing is broken, but I'm still nursing my right arm and shoulder. May need physical therapy or a cortisone shot or both. Aren't I something?


Remember the recent sneak preview? 

I attached some of my embellishments to store-bought hats for a bit of girly flair.


As you can see, Memaw has been thoroughly enjoying the thought of cupcake’s arrival. I'm not proficient at crocheting but I can read a pattern and I'm wobbling my way through and making up stuff, to boot. My mother is the official Queen of Crochet and she says I'm doing good, so I'm taking her word for it. Mothers don't lie, do they?


Guess what I'm working on? Why, a cupcake hat, of course. I found a pattern that isn't a proper cupcake hat pattern, but I think I can make it work. The pattern resembles the one in the middle, except it will be crocheted instead of knitted.


Speaking of cupcakes, I made some from scratch over the weekend, frosting and all, and YUM was the overall review.

If you're tired of hearing about cupcake, raise your hand. 


My daughter is in her sixth month of pregnancy, if you can believe it. She thinks she's fat, but I think she's perfect and glowing.

***

As I write, my feet are in wooly socks and an old quilt is draped across my lap. Outside, a gentle rain splatters against the window, making music meant for dozing. It is the cozy month we call November. I am blessed.


***

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Tangled Path

Everyone has a path to walk, a journey to make, a story to tell. Some days, the road is clear. Our story goes according to plan. The appointments on the calendar come to pass, just as we intended. We travel confidently, not fearing what lies ahead.

Other days, the bottom drops out. In a split second, everything changes and nothing goes according to plan. The notes on the calendar must be drawn through and rewritten on another date, if at all. Without warning, we find ourselves on a tangled path, unsure of even our next step.

When life makes a sudden turn, or screeches to a halt, it leaves you disoriented, afraid. And sometimes, despite our best efforts to get back to where we were before, we can’t go back. We are here, and there’s nowhere else to go. We’re faced with a new normal, whether we want it or not.

The same life that can fill us up with joy, can also be hard and cruel. Our lives can change forever, due to no fault of our own. Parents divorce, leaving innocent children to deal with the fallout that never ends. A husband is told he has cancer, and a handful of months to live. A drunk driver crashes into a car, taking the life of a loved one. A careless driver runs into innocent people on a sidewalk, altering their physical abilities forever. Such tragedies are almost impossible to bear.

Other times, our lives are changed forever by our own actions. I remember when my dad, at the age of 85, climbed on the roof one time too many, after years of being begged to stop taking such risks. His fall resulted in a grave injury to his ankle; the doctor said he might never walk again, said he might need an amputation, said it was a hard recovery for a 20-year-old man, let alone an 85-year-old man.

I recall my sister wringing her hands in anguish and asking, “Why did this have to happen? Why now, after so many years?” And my mom’s answer to her was simple and straightforward: “It happened because of gravity.” Yes, that was it in a nutshell, but to think that my dad might not walk again was something I couldn't wrap my head around, because he'd always been so active, walking a mile or more every single day.

But I remember the night I adjusted my perspective. I couldn't let myself think too far ahead; I had to get through this moment, this day, this long and tiring night. It was the only thing I could do, unless I wanted to be miserable from this point on.

And when I did that, when I adjusted my perspective, when I got over the fact that I had to put my life on hold for an indefinite amount of time, when I accepted that my dad may have walked his last mile, when I embraced what could not be changed, a curious thing happened: I began cherishing the time spent with my parents, shuffling around a house with no television, no Internet, drinking coffee every morning with them, sitting on the porch together, watching my husband push my father here and there in a wheelchair, helping him with daily necessities. And as we played games at the kitchen table, or I planned the next meal with my mother, I knew I'd been given a priceless gift, just being there, helping them cope, sharing their space.

Another gift that came out of this tragedy was having friends all over the country hold us up in prayer. Prayer can move mountains. This, I know to be true, and it was an amazing feeling knowing people were praying.

Three months after Daddy’s fall, he took his first halting and painful step. He needed assistance, and his ankle, held together with metal rods and pins, hurt something awful, but he was determined to walk again. Soon after that first step, he and Mom felt they were ready to travel the road ahead on their own, and it was a bittersweet day when we rolled out of driveway and waved goodbye. I cried, for reasons hard to explain, but mostly because my life had been enriched and blessed by sharing in their time of suffering.

Oh, the hours wasted kicking against the hard places, wishing we could turn back the hands of the clock. I have been guilty of doing that myself in recent months.

But ifinstead of fighting the detours and the inevitable changes they bringwe adjust our thinking and embrace what is, we will be strengthened, and the journey will reveal gifts in the most unexpected places.

I believe—and time has proven to me—that the best stories come from the tangled paths.  



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This post is part of the series Spiritual Sundays


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Naming ~ What will I call her? What will she call me?


Five months after Anna Marie was born, her grandmother suffered a stroke that would leave her paralyzed on her right side. But Mildred was an amazing woman. She never let her disability keep her from being a remarkable MeeMaw to her grandchildren.


She and Anna Marie shared a special bond until Mildred passed away in 1996.

When my daughter asked what I wanted to be called by my soon-to-be-born grandchild, I thought about it, and I didn't have to think long, for I couldn't think of anything I'd rather be called than MeeMaw, in honor of my dear mother-in-law. 

Although I've chosen to spell it differently, I'm looking forward to my new title: Memaw. And, with a new spelling, The Man will be Papaw, just as his father was to his grandchildren.

But ... that leaves us with one unanswered question: What sweet name will I call my granddaughter? 

The question has been asked, and I have the answer for you, right here, right now. First, a little backstory, if anyone is still with me.


When my first-born niece gave birth to my first grand-niece, I didn’t plan it, but somehow Ainsley became my sugar plum. You who are familiar with my blog know what a delight sugar plum is to me. There are no words for how much I love her.


When my second-born niece discovered she was pregnant, the first thing she asked me was what “sweet” name would I call her baby? I told her if it was a girl, she would be my pie. And you who know me know how much joy Audrey, my precious pie, has brought to me. There are no words for how much I love her.


When my daughter announced her pregnancy, she asked what “sweet” name I would call my grandchild. I told her I’d have to wait and see if it was a girl or boy before deciding. Once it was determined to be a girl, I gave it some thought and am happy to announce that my granddaughter will be my cupcake (and Papaw’s, of course). In fact, I'm calling her that already, and I cannot wait to meet her! 

What a sweet life it’s shaping up to be. Sugar plum, pie, and cupcake. I am a blessed woman.

Until next time, dear friends, this Memaw was one busy girl during her month-long holiday. I'll share some of my creations with you in an upcoming post, but here's a sneak preview. 


Whatcha think?


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