Starting the New Year

If working hard means getting a good start to the new year, then I think Doug and I have a lot to look forward to in 2019.

We took a working vacation over Christmas and the New Year, which meant we worked at home only, no outside appointments. We stayed up late, and slept as long as possible.

We also hosted an Open House for ministry volunteers, which was a lot of fun.

Doug did throw his back out after Christmas, but I knew it was coming. The week before he had been doing a lot of lifting and moving, and I kept hearing him say, “There’s something funny going on with my back.” I also caught a head cold, but if it stays in my head, it won’t be too bad.

It’s going to be interesting this year, because we are rolling into 2019 with so much already in place. Normally, we spend January seeking the Lord for His course of action, His plan for the ministry. Well, He set the course for us before 2018 ended; we just have to keep doing what we were doing. So, we have a running start. I like it!

You know, I was thinking about the highlights of 2018 the other day. Isaac, our grandson, was definitely a highlight. How God moved in my heart was a highlight. Doug and I arrived at a new place of goodness in our marriage this past year, and that was a highlight.* It was almost like we remembered we were friends. Maybe, working together frustrates friendship. I think it might. And, HopeMail has been a very big highlight, too. I love how that is coming along.

However, my greatest highlight of 2018 is something I wanted to do all year long. I actually did work on it throughout the year, but it wasn’t until just before Christmas that all the pieces fell into place. It may not seem like a big deal, and you will wonder why it took so long, but I managed to finally finish our spare room, making it a place where the grandbabies can hangout and Doug can play his piano.

And, when those two things come together, well, my heart is pretty full.

I am very thankful the Lord did not despair of me in 2018. His kindness overwhelms me. He does love us like a Father, and we know that because He doesn’t love us any less when we’re ornery. It’s almost like He loves us louder, to make sure that in our blindness we don’t lose our way.

* I would feel dishonest if I did not add that I’ve been repeatedly cranky with him the past couple weeks, which is disappointing for me. I’ve had to apologize a lot. I want to blame my thyroid, but I think it’s more likely just ugly sin.

Personality Tests, Part 2

The upstairs neighbor popped her head in today and was telling me a little about her day. She said, “I like to _______________, because I’m a __.”

I don’t like labeling myself. I think other people label me enough, so I feel no need. Plus, I like to keep  my options open. You know what I mean?

I did read something just now, though, that spoke to me.

“_____________s process everything in their surroundings and pay attention to all the sensory details in the environment, not just the people. ____________s will often compare old and new experiences when making a decision, which slows the processing down but leads to carefully thought-out decisions. This means that ___________s have an active dialogue with themselves and usually walk around with many thoughts in their minds.”*

That last sentence was what got me. There is always so much going on in my head. It feels like I’m constantly processing data. Doug is not like this. He often does have a lot on his mind, but I know he isn’t processing data. He isn’t picking up all the stuff people are laying down. We’ll leave a meeting and he’ll have a completely different experience from mine. I wish, sometimes, my experience was like his, but he also benefits from all that I take in, so he often wants me at meetings for that very reason. That’s a nice thing.

Anyway, I’m ultimately Popeye. I am what am, and that’s all that I am. For some people, I’m enough. I call those people kind and generous friends, willing to forgive me for not being more.

*source

I’m a 14.

I just took a personality test. It’s the latest thing. My daughter mentioned it last week, “I’m a ___ and Tim’s a ___,” she laughed. I had no idea what she was talking about, until I looked at my Instagram today. Others were sharing their results of some test, and I realized it’s what was Hannah had been talking about last week. Eni-eni-gram, or something.

Well, of course, I followed the flock and took the test. With each question, I was more annoyed at myself for wasting time with a stupid test.  Oy. I don’t need anyone tell me I have a terrible personality. I already know this, OK? Anyway, at the end of the test they give you three choices, each one assigned a number, and say they’ll email you your ultimate answer. I still haven’t received the email, so I’ll never know my real number. (The 14 is my three results combined.) Good grief, Charlie Brown. 

It’s a rainy day today. In the 50’s. Not typical weather for Christmastime, but I’ll take it. Christmas is inside. I don’t need snow.

My granddaughter loves my Christmas tree. Well, she loves all Christmas trees. I’m going to be really sad to take mine down, though, because it makes her so happy each time she sees it. “Tree! Big tree!” She says it each time, as though it’s the first time she’s seen it. If the lights aren’t turned on, she will gently insist on it.

I’m at the end of a major purge of stuff. I think this is the fourth time in my life I’ve done this. It’s disgusting how much stuff I willingly burden myself with, stuff that brings me no pleasure at all. Such a waste of life.

Doug is working a lot these days. It’s all good. God has opened many doors, and that’s cause for thanksgiving. I married a saxophone player, you know? His only aspiration in life was to play jazz. I think about that and just marvel at who he is today. Would I have ever imagined I’d be married to a prison chaplain? Never! God’s ways aren’t our ways, and I’m so thankful for that.

I wanted to share my tree with you, and discovered I had deleted the photos from my phone, before uploading them to Dropbox. I did share some of them on Instagram, though. So, here is the link to the tree picture, and if you swipe you can see the ornament parade – if you’re interested. I don’t know how to reclaim photos from IG, but I’ll have to look into it. I guess I can get them from Facebook, where I shared them last week. If you happen to know about IG, though, please tell me in a comment.

Merry Christmas! ❤

 

Yes, I Follow Q.

There are times when I just have to stop and blog.

I’m not sure when I started keeping a journal. I always wanted to keep a diary, because all the girls on TV shows kept diaries and every great writer always had one that was published after they died. I didn’t have anything to put in a diary when I was seven-years-old, but I dreamed of being a great writer. So, I made an effort

I usually finished my class work early in junior high, so I would sit at my desk and read or write stories.

In high school, I started writing letters to God. It wasn’t a regular thing, but there were just times when I needed to “talk” to someone. I still write letters to God.

In college, keeping a journal became a regular part of my life. I started college young, so I didn’t feel like I had anything to say to all those “grown-ups.” I was also too young to drive, so I spent a lot of time waiting for and riding on buses. Pulling out my journal and writing was good company. Steno pads and Bic pens were my favorite tools back then, but I’d write on anything.

After getting married and becoming a mother, I rarely wrote in a journal. I still have a prayer journal, but I’m more likely to stick a prayer request on my wall.

In 2006, when Doug was very sick, I dipped my toe into the blogosphere. Blogging was a good distraction during a harrowing season. I rediscovered an old friend.

I long ago stopped dreaming of being a professional writer—somewhere in my 20s. I just do not enjoy the business of writing, and I don’t think anyone is suffering for it. To quote my favorite beagle, “Blech!” No thanks. However, I still love to write. I still feel that need. And, a blog is good company. It’s just not always solitary. Almost any blog is going to get read by someone else eventually.

Well, I didn’t know I’d be writing about journals and blogs and writing, when I sat down with my laptop today. I happen to have my old journals downstairs from the attic, so I took a flip through them and snapped a few photos. Actually, I don’t have all my old journals; and, awhile back I ripped some pages out of the journals I kept. Not every experience or thought is worth remembering. However, I read some things just today that were nice to read, again, My old me surprised the current me. That was neat.

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My Prayer Journals these days. They are scattered around my room. I won’t show others, because some names might be known to readers.

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No idea what happened. I think this in 1986, so I was 20.

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Hahaha!!! It must have been a bad day for me to hate elephants.

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Most of my journal entries are about this dumb. LOL

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A good reason to write down the “dumb” stuff. I never thought about “Doug” again, until we met again over a year later. I’d forgotten all about meeting him in 1986, until I found this journal entry over ten years later.

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Seventeen, and in love with words.

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Be careful what you pray for, they say.

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I was so happy to find entries from during my pregnancy.

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Oh, so in love! This was in 1988, before Doug was born-again.

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I remember this.

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This is when I worked at CUB Foods in Columbus, Ohio. I was 20-years-old. Cashiering was not my favorite job, but I did finally get good enough to work the Express Lane.

One more thought on blogging…it reminds me of testimony time in church, when I was a kid. People would stand up and share whatever had happened to them that week, or whatever was going on in their life. Sometimes, they had a testimony of how God had moved, and sometimes they were asking for prayer for God to move. Not everyone shared, and sometimes it was boring or no one paid much attention, but it was mostly good. Even interesting. You got to learn something about each other, and that’s a very cool thing.

The Gratitude Challenge, Part 2

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” William Arthur Ward (1921-1994)

Today is November 22nd. My challenge is to name 22 reasons I am grateful today. I invite you join me! Post your answers in a comment. My answers are below.  Please, play along!

“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.”
Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

22 Reasons I am Grateful Today:

1. A friend is facing cancer surgery, and she will be able to have the surgeons she wants.

2. A friend’s son in chemotherapy has had a very excellent report from the doctors.

3. My sisters.

4. Getting eczema this summer.

5. Those people who have an opportunity to do something nice, and take it. For a moment, for just one person, they are like the Angel Gabriel, delivering tidings of great joy that bring hope for one hurting soul. For just a moment, they are like the Angel Michael, striking a blow against the enemy for a battle-weary saint.

6. My mother, for always backing me up in a fight.

7. That I have s place to live and call home.

8. The window over my kitchen sink.

9. Lucy’s curls.

10. The fact that God gave us emotions, and we get to feel all those messy feelings.

11. My joyful grandson, Isaac. His laughter is good medicine.

12. That God uses donkeys for His divine service.

13. God’s Word.

14. That my husband chooses to put away fear, and trust God. Again, and again, and again.

15. Getting to watch my daughter grow-up, and now getting to watch her and Tim grow a family. (As I was writing this exact item, guess who walked in the door? lol)

16. Having a working oven, even though I may not use it today. (Click to read why this is on my list.)

17. That I can say I have been true to my vow, in sickness and in health, and that Doug can say the same.

18. That our upstairs neighbors are so hospitable.

19. My bed and pillows.

20. That God still heals miraculously.

21. Empty storage containers.

22. My son-in-law, for so many reasons.

Happy Thanksgiving Day, friends. God bless you and your whole house!

Lucy at Play

I just love this little video.
I love her little feet, using them to help her keep the keyboard on he lap.
I love that she’s playing with two hands.
I love that she wants to make music.
I love that she owns my living room.
I love that she didn’t make me stop filming her.
I love that box, as ugly as it is, because it’s just what she needed.
I love her curls.
I love her—all 102 weeks of her.

The Gratitude Challenge, Part I

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” William Arthur Ward (1921-1994)

Today is November 9th. My challenge is to name nine reasons I am grateful today. I invite you join me! Post your answers in a comment. My answers are below.  Please, play along!

“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.”
Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

Nine Reasons I am Grateful Today:

  1. I have a warm place to live.
  2. When I need to rest, I can.
  3. Men are getting their HopeMail.
  4. Christmas is coming.
  5. I have a measure of health.
  6. Tacos.
  7. My husband.
  8. Progress eventually happens.
  9. God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

t5

12 Things I Learned When I Got Cancer

A few days ago, I marked the seventh anniversary since a surgeon removed a basketball from my abdomen.

When I was finally able to return to chapel services at the Farm, where Doug was serving as Chaplain, he asked me to share a testimony.  I jotted down a few notes, and this is what came out. Pretty rough and ugly, but maybe what I learned can encourage someone else who may be in the midst of a season of suffering and challenge themselves.

 

Things I Learned When I Got Cancer

Lesson #1: God Gets To Do Whatever He Wants To Do
I really did not think God would allow me to have cancer, because I had too much going on in my life. The Fall is the busiest time for me in the ministry. Plus, there is no cancer history in my family. And, didn’t I have enough to deal with all ready? My family needed me. I did not have time to be in a hospital.

I really did think these very dumb thoughts.

Lesson #2: Just Keep Trusting
A few days after being released from the hospital, my incision opened and I was bleeding profusely. I was in the worst pain, and fear was rising. Doug had to take me to the E.R., and I remember laying there so scared, asking Doug to help me make sense of this. He simply told me, “You just have to keep trusting God.”

When things are so hard, but just keep getting harder, remember to just keep trusting. God’s faithfulness has no end.

Lesson #3: Pain Happens
We cannot prevent pain, but there are things we can do to stop it, or at least ease it. So, do what you can, and hold on tight to a friend’s hand whenever possible. And, remember Lesson #2. It will eventually pass. This applies to physical pain, and emotional pain.

Lesson #4: Do Your Best
You may not have another chance, so do your best right now. And, when it comes to other people, give them your best. It matters. It may matter to someone you’ll never meet, but it definitely matters to God, who put you here to do it in the first place.

Lesson #5: Always Assume The Other Person Is Having A Worse Day
I could cry right now, remembering the way I was cared for at the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care. But, it wasn’t only them. My visiting nurses (Robyn and Karen and Wendy, especially) blessed me in so many ways. I remember the look on the face of my anesthesiologist, the last thing I remember before waking up in recovery—the kindness and assurance in her eyes mattered. Yeah, they all knew I was sick. They had an advantage. But, we don’t have an excuse. We encounter people every day who are facing serious troubles. When I consider how much the kindness, warmth, and gentleness of strangers meant to me, I pray the Lord help me always to extend these same gifts to others. People giving their best made all the difference for me. Refer to Lesson #4.

Lesson #6: God Doesn’t Have To Give You Cancer To Kill You
Don’t wait for a terminal diagnosis to take life seriously. We have all been appointed a day to die, so live every day with meaning now.  Besides, when you get that diagnosis, you may not have the time, or strength, to do those things you keep putting off. And, it feels really bad to think you really might not get another chance. Review Lessons #4 and #7.

Lesson #7: Do It Now
Why are you putting it off? We don’t get credit for our To Do List.

Lesson #8: You Cannot Be Too Polite
See Lessons #4 and #5.

Lesson #9: The Little Things Matter
If you have been paying attention, you’ve all ready learned this lesson. Please, review Lessons #4, #5, #7, and #8.

Lesson #10:  Trials And Suffering Mature Our Love For God, And For Others
Don’t be afraid of trials and suffering. Don’t resist them. Don’t buck against them. One word I learned well during this time in my life was y – i – e – l – d. Yield. Yield to God, even as He takes you down a dark and frightening road. You see, His will only works when He is in full control. We must be fully surrendered. Remember Lessons #1 and #2.

Lesson #11: The Worst Thing That Can Happen Isn’t On This Earth
The worst thing that can happen is not getting to Heaven at all, or arriving in the presence of the Lord without a treasure to present your King. (See Lessons #10, #7, #4, and #2.)

Lesson #12: Don’t Forget What You Learned The Last Time
When the Lord allows suffering, it is for a purpose. He has a reason. An objective. So, write down what you learn. Tell others. And, keep living those lessons out every day. Live it as long as you have breath.

God bless you today. I know cancer has a way of re-entering the life of the survivor, and I keep that in mind as each anniversary approaches. My particular cancer is very slow growing, so if it usually reappears after 10-20 years, and the survival rate on the second pass is a lot less than the first. So, believe me, I review these lessons regularly. ❤

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A sign my family left in my room. It was a touch of cheeriness that meant a lot.

Blog-tober Is Ober

I was inspired to launch Blog-tober for three specific reasons.

  • After several ministry-packed months, in which I had less time than usual to blog, I felt that my blog deserved some attention.
  • As blogging is such a personal activity, and writing is my favorite, it feels pretty selfish. I have trouble making it a priority, because I always feel guilty choosing to write over some other work that somehow profits others. I thought Blog-tober would be a way to give myself permission to not feel guilty about blogging.
  • Giving myself a daily deadline, I suspected, would force me to focus less on perfection, and more on production. It’s very easy to edit a piece to death, especially when you are a very private person writing about things that are very personal.

So, How’d I Do?
I began with a five-day disadvantage, and ended with an eight day deficit. That equates to 23 posts in 31 days, and to that I say, “Not bad!” If I hadn’t gotten sick, I would have done better. I just lose all will to live, when I get a cold. [I know that’s stupid, but it’s true. I think it’s the lack of sleep, or oxygen.]

I’m very satisfied with the results of this challenge. I (almost) never felt guilty about saying, “I’m working on my blog.” I posted some things that have been in the works for so long, but I was just so uncertain they were “good enough.”  They were just sitting in that drafts folder, dying. My take-away on this point is that nothing we do for the Lord is ever “good enough,” compared to what He has done for us. Therefore, we must just humbly give Him our best. He alone will judge the worth of our offering, because only He knows the heart of the giver.

And, having a daily deadline helped a lot.

What Happens Now?
Well, I keep doing what I’m doing. I’ve taken some interest in seeing which posts were the most viewed. It gives me pause, that the post I had the most doubts about posting is the post that garnered the most views. [What was I saying about being a poor judge?]

I know I want to write more on the topic of Being His Help Meet, because each of the seven points needs to filled out a little. They are each deserving of their own post.

Ultimately, I’ll post what I post, because it’s my blog. I write on some heavy topics, because I feel inspired by the Holy Spirit, or convicted. I know that testimony matters, and God has given me one. He means for me to share it. And, my blog is one means by which to do that.

Thanks For Reading.
I’m sorry you have to endure ads. I’m always surprised that anyone bothers to click and read my blah, blah, blah, and it really means a lot to me when you react or comment. One reader shared a post and someone commented on her share. Something had stuck with them that was meaningful to them. That definitely made my day, and blessed me a lot. Like I said, I’m very private. It isn’t easy to share such personal information. However, our testimonies are not meant to be stored in the attic of our memories. They are meant to be shared, or they really aren’t a testimony at all, are they?

I just want to close with the quote that is this blog’s raison d’être :

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Thanks again, friends.

 

 

Favorite Things: Christmas Wrap Organizer

I have had various wrapping paper organizers over the years, but this one is GREAT! It really works for me, and that’s why I’m sharing it. Maybe, it will work for you, too.

I found the suitcase at a second-hand store for a couple bucks. It’s compact, portable, and the hard case doubles as a gift-wrapping table. It’s small, yet still holds everything I need to wrap almost any Christmas gift I might give. Sometimes, I do need a larger gift bag or a long roll of paper, so I keep those in a bin under the bed.

The contents are all accumulated bits from over the years. I layer flat wrap first, than gift bags, than the folders, and finally the short, wrapping paper rolls. I tell ya, I open this case up and it just makes me happy! It’s one of my favorite things. ❤