Unfinished

I’ve found a barely started placemat and nearly finished sweater in Mom’s knitting bag. I was looking through it to try and find a ball of burgundy cotton yarn for a gift I’m knitting. I came across these two unfinished projects. Something in me just couldn’t leave them that way. I’ve made a bit of progress on them both today.

Mom kept knitted placemats on hand for the kids. They loved using them whenever they ate at Grammy’s house. She probably cast on another one for them to use. She was knitting it on a pair of beautiful wooden needles that I’d given her for Christmas. She loved my circular ones, but preferred straight needles herself. When the company who makes them came out with the straight knitting needles, I knew exactly what to order for her! She had only an inch done, so the difference in our knitting will probably not be too visible.

I have no idea who the sweater was meant for. I don’t even remember ever seeing her knitting it. It’s pretty, and has just some finishing on the hood and button band for me to do. There isn’t enough yarn to make the sleeves, so I think I’ll just leave it as a vest. It will still be pretty. I hope that it doesn’t look too strange. Mom knit much tighter than I do, so she usually used larger needles than me.

I can’t explain why, but I just feel the need to finish these projects for her. It seems so strange to be knitting Mom’s projects with her needles. Today has been a “ton of bricks” day. I miss her so much. It’s funny how things will go on, and suddenly, something small will bring it all rushing back. I’m learning to take things day by day. ‘I just need strength for today, Lord. Just help me get through today, and we can deal with tomorrow when it comes. I just need grace for today.’ While I pray for strength and grace, I’ll pick up Mom’s needles and keep knitting.

Fulfilling Prophecy

We continued with our study of John yesterday. John 19 was the particular chapter we studied. I picked up on something that I’d never really thought about. In several places John mentions that some of the actions of the Roman soldiers were the fulfillment of prophecy. When they divided up Jesus’ robe and cast lots for the tunic, how could they have realized that they were fulfilling prophecy that had been written before the rise of the Roman Empire? When they pierced him with a spear, but did not break his bones, they had no clue that again, they were fulfilling ancient prophecies. I wonder if any of them became believers? What must it have been like to be living amidst prophecy coming to life?

I wonder. Then I realize that I am. There is still unfulfilled prophecy in the Scripture, and we are living in the middle of it right now! I stand in awe, that something written thousands of years ago, is coming to pass today. Truly, the Word of God is ageless, and timeless. Scripture is powerful, alive, and still utterly amazes me! Only He could have written something that incredible… It’s humbling to me to think that God inspired men to write these things down, for me. Why, in this vast universe, would the very Creator of it all want to communicate with me? Someday, I will have my answer, and I suspect that on that day, I’ll be even more humbled. I imagine that I will be on my knees before Him, absolutely speechless…

You’re Doing WHAT With Those T-shirts?!

If you weren’t sure by now, then you will be after reading this post. I am CRAZY!

I saw a video tutorial online that was demonstrating how to cut t-shirts into long strips to be used as yarn. Someone suggested using the t-shirt yarn for a rug. I thought that it was a FANTASTIC idea! I ran up to Aaron’s dresser and pulled out the three white t-shirts in his top drawer. I asked him, “How many t-shirts do you need?” He told me that one would probably suffice since he doesn’t wear button-down shirts often. I gleefully snipped two white t-shirts, and went looking for more… I discovered that I had a number of t-shirts that were worn or the wrong size. They quickly fell victim to my scissors. At that point, I had a basketball sized ball of t-shirt yarn. I remembered a pattern in the Mason-Dixon Knitting book for a spiral rug knit out of fabric strips, perfect! I cast on and began knitting away. I’m still not sure how big I will make this rug. I’ll probably knit on it until I get sick of knitting t-shirts! It will be an easy enough thing to continue adding more strips of t-shirts as I keep knitting. Who knows, maybe I’ll wind up with a nice room-sized rug. Maybe I’ll wind up with a welcome mat.

Potluck Post

I’m starting off my post with a prayer request. Kay, who is one of the co-authors of the Mason-Dixon Knitting books and blog, lost her husband this week. She has two children. My heart aches for them because I know how awful the loss of a parent is, and I saw how hard it was for my Dad in the aftermath of Mom’s death. Please pray for Kay and her kids.

We had a bit of excitement around her on Sunday. There was a grass fire in a field across the street from Dad’s house. We sat on Dad’s front porch with the kiddos so that they could see the fire trucks. Several of the firefighters waved to us. Of course, I know many of them, and have since I was a kid. Dad was on the volunteer fire department for many years until he retired. I’m so thankful that we have such a great fire department here in such a small town!

We’ve had geese and ducks frequenting the pond as the weather warms. The geese keep wandering over to the garden plot. They will stay away from it once it’s planted if they know what’s good for them! Goose dinner anyone????

Mr. Q just informed us that, “Someone turned the coal stove off!” We reassured him that it was supposed to be off. “OK,” was his reply as he wandered happily off to play with his toys. What an observant little boy!

I know that this post is a bit of everything, with nothing particularly profound. I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t dropped off the face of the Earth. I’ve just been busy with the kids and other stuff. It’s been a strange year so far, and it’s getting stranger still! But, I’m not going to ask, “What more could happen?” I made that mistake a month ago, and I found out! Perhaps God is teaching me patience. I wish that I could learn it faster…

Chocolate, Lots of Chocolate…

Sunday was our first holiday without Mom. It was different, but all in all, we had a good day.

It’s been a tradition to have Easter dinner with Mom’s family for quite a few years now. This year, we had dinner at her youngest brother’s house.

One of my cousins hid candy and Easter eggs around the house for the kids to find. Munchkin had great fun finding the candy, but her brothers were more interested in eating all of the candy rather than hunting for it! At one point, Mr. Q had a plastic egg with three or four Hershey Kisses in it. When the kids asked if they could have chocolate before dinner, I replied, “One.” Apparently, Mr. Q figured that one plastic egg of candy fit in that restriction. He decided to unwrap all of them before eating any, and proceeded to do just that. As he unwrapped each Kiss, he carefully placed it on the coffee table and began unwrapping the next one. Then Camo came along… He stood next to his brother and watched him unwrap each piece of candy, as Mr. Q placed one on the table, Camo picked it up and popped it in his mouth. When he was finally done unwrapping the last one, Mr. Q turned to the spot where he had placed all the other, and they were gone! For a moment, he looked quite bewildered. Then Camo spied the last Kiss in Mr. Q’s hand and made a grab for it. At this point, Mr. Q figured out that it was his brother who was responsible for the disappearance of his painstakingly unwrapped chocolate. The tears commenced… Mr. Q’s because he had only one chocolate left, and Camo’s because he wanted that last chocolate. I couldn’t help it, I HAD to laugh!

A bit later, Camo amused himself by finding stray chocolates and popping them in his mouth, foil wrapper included. Interestingly enough, he managed to somehow swallow the chocolate, but chew on the wrappers like they were bubble gum. There is no telling how much sugar he ingested…

Us “adults” were taking turns bowling with the Wii. It was actually quite fun. I got a better score than I ever have in real life! Golf was also tried later on. That was a bit harder… I can almost imagine Mom laughing at how silly we all must have looked, but still jumping in and trying it herself. Still, we had lots of fun, and it was so nice to see everyone. It really was a good afternoon. Different, but still good.

I guess that’s where I’m at now, things are different, hard, but still OK. People give me a look whenever I say I’m OK. But it’s true. I’m always OK. I joke that knitting and writing keep me sane, but really, it’s God that keeps me sane. Even when the entire world seems to be falling apart, I can be OK, because He’s still in control. I’m OK because of what we celebrated yesterday. Happy Resurrection Day everyone!

Photophobia

I’ve been going through photos recently. Mostly looking for photos of Mom. I have some, but I wish now that I’d taken more of her. She hated having her picture taken even more than I do. It occurred to me today while looking for photos that perhaps I shouldn’t mind so much. I love the wonderful memories that looking through photographs of friends and family bring back. I especially cherish the photos of those no longer with us, like Mom. Someday, maybe my kids will get the same feelings looking at photos of me. Maybe I’ll let Aaron take a few more photos of me.

Of course, trying to get photos of him will still be challenging! My mother-in-law and I have often joked that future generations won’t believe that we actually had husbands because they are never in the photos. They are usually the ones behind the camera! I think all photographers must be “photophobic” because they all seem to dislike having their own picture taken.

We have so many great photos of the kids. Of course, they are so cute that it’s hard not to take many photos! But perhaps we should include ourselves in the photos a little more often. It’s true that even without the photographs the memories are still there. Still, sometimes they capture a moment, an expression, something that is so special and unique that you just have to smile whenever you see it.

Afternoon Baths and Faith

Munchkin needed a bath this afternoon. She is (finally) potty trained, and somehow, when she got up from her nap to go to the bathroom, she dunked the ends of her hair in the flush. There were little bits of toilet paper stuck all through her hair. Yuck. So, she got a nice bubble bath. She didn’t particularly want her hair washed, but Auntie and I convinced her that she REALLY need it done! I still don’t know exactly what happened, and I’m not totally sure that I WANT to know. All of the moms out there will totally understand that.

I wanted to pick up the phone and laugh about it with Mom. I used to always talk to Mom. We would laugh over everything. And if I just needed someone to talk to, well she was it for me. I’m a bit at a loss now. One particularly rough night this week, all I could think was, “I want my Mom.” Because, no matter what, she would have listened, and even if she didn’t agree with me, she would still understand where I was coming from. And regardless, she’d still give me a hug and tell me how much she loved me.

The last month it’s been one thing right after another. It’s been really hard! I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to wondering if God really knows what He’s doing. Mom would tell me that of course He does. I know that. But I also know that Scripture is full of people who questioned why God allowed things to happen. We all hit a crisis of faith at least once in our lives. I’ve hit a few, and I have a feeling that more are in my future. I think it’s human nature to question. I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with having doubts and questions. If our faith is real, we will come to the conclusion that there are just some things we have to take on faith. Some days, there are a LOT of things we have to take on faith. I love what Hebrews 11 says about faith.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.

By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days.

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

That’s the kind of faith I want. The faith to stand the test of time. Being sure of what I hope for and certain of what I can’t see. I want to be like one of those who were still living by faith even through to the day they died. Perhaps it’s the testing of our faith that develops it in us. I hope so. I know that something good will come of all this, maybe stronger faith will be part of it.

Surviving the Moment

“When does the thorn become a blessing?

When does the pain become a friend?

When does the weakness make me stronger?

When does my faith make me whole again?

I want to feel His arms around me,

In the middle of my raging storm,

So that I can see the blessing in the thorn.”

Listening to this song tonight, it seems like the songwriter was writing it for me. Today has been hard, inexplicably so. A dozen insignificant things made me miss Mom terribly. In this moment, it hurts so much that I can hardly breathe. So, I turn for comfort to my Bible. It’s one that Mom and Dad gave me for my 12th birthday. There are so many underlines and highlights in it, and probably more than a few tearstains. It’s like visiting an old friend, and that is what it’s been like reading anew the passages that I’ve turned to for comfort over the years.

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:3-5 NIV

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26 NIV

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NIV

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV

As you can tell, I’ve been reading Romans tonight. I’ve found so much comfort in Romans over the years. I’ve found comfort in all of Scripture. Revisiting some of it this past month has been good. It helps. The only prayer I can string together tonight seems to be “God, help me.” And He does. The hurt is still there, oh, it is still there! But He gives me enough strength to survive the moment. And then the next one. One step at a time, one breath at a time.

“To whom will you compare me?

Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:

Who created all these?

He who brings out the starry host one by one,

and calls them each by name.

Because of his great power and mighty strength,

not one of them is missing.”

Isaiah 40:25-26 NIV

This God of all creation, the God of all comfort is with me tonight. He calls the very stars by name, and yet, the Mighty One cares for me. God is still in control; the stars are still there. The stars are harder to see tonight because of the clouds, but they are still there. I checked.

Only by God’s Grace…

Yesterday was a rough day. I went to my uncle’s funeral. My aunt lost her sister and husband in the space of less than a month. My heart breaks for her and my cousins.

I start to thinking about the age-old question, “Why does God allow suffering?” But I think we have it backwards when we ask that question. See, the consequence of sin is death. The reason that bad things happen in this world is our own doing. We truly live in a sinful and fallen world, far from what God intended for us. God has provided a way for us to be forgiven, but there are still the consequences of our sin to contend with. That’s a rather humbling thought for me. I can’t honestly ask God why He would allow bad things to happen to me, or why He allows the death of loved ones, because it’s just the natural consequence of sin.

At the same time, this also brings home the significance of living in a place with no sin. I have a better grasp of how truly wonderful being finally free of my sinful nature will be. The thing that causes all of the death, pain and suffering here on Earth, will not even exist in Heaven. I will live in a holy place, in the very presence of the Holy One. That truly is humbling. I’m amazed all over again that God would care enough for one such as I, to go through everything He did to secure my salvation. Absolutely incomprehensible. Who among man could ever begin to comprehend the grace of God? Certainly not I.

Joni Ericson Tada once said that the thing she most looked forward to was not a new body, but a new heart. I am beginning to understand that statement. I too long for a new heart, one free of sin. I strive and struggle against my own sinful heart daily, and I am ashamed to admit how often my flesh wins the struggle. It truly is only by the work of God in me that there is anything good in my life.

I’ve seen a t-shirt with the caption, “I am the wretch the song refers to.” It references the line in Amazing Grace, “Amazing Grace. How sweet the sound! That saved a wretch like me.” That line is gaining a deeper meaning for me as I grow.

Too often we hear about the importance of self-esteem. However, I think it is better for us to take a realistic look at ourselves and realize how great the work of grace is in us. That’s the sort of thing Mom would have said. Reminding me that it is only by God’s grace…

Frail Humans

“Frail humans we are, fumbling with the eternal.”

I read that in a book a few nights ago. Something about that one sentence stood out from all of the other words on the page. Funny where we find words from God. I found this in a novel of all places. Of course, God also used a candy wrapper to speak to me once, but that’s a story for another day.

We are frail. Earthly life is so small, fleeting, just a vapor.

Yet, some small part of us is eternal. Our soul is made for eternity. That’s quite a thought.

This frail body is so rooted in linear time, in our Earthly existence, that we can’t grasp even the concepts of eternity. It’s an endless mystery to us, one we stumble over.

As I Corinthians 13:12 explains, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” When this frail flesh is left behind, my perception will finally be clear. I will see everything in light of eternity.

That’s how Mom sees it now. None of the pain, none of the hurt, none of the sadness, none of the grief. Everything finally in perspective. Viewing the tapestry as a whole, rather than just one or two stitches.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” Hebrews 12:1-3

Christ lived for a short time on Earth, but He had the eternal perspective in mind. Shall we follow His example? Live with the eternal in mind.