Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Simple Spiritual Guidelines

One of my favorite go-to bloggers and spiritual leaders online is Brent Riggs. Today, in his Facebook post, also on his website, he discussed obeying God. I took a few of his comments to heart. It made me begin thinking about why most of us find obeying God's laws a little difficult.

Most people of faith realize we are supposed to obey God in all things. However, if we are realistic, we also realize that we are human and prone to resistance to his laws and prone to willfulness and other all-too-human failings. It was that way even in the early days where we see God's chosen people resisting and disobeying over and over again. What we also see is God's forgiveness, as well as his punishments.

That said, I don't want Him to toss a plague of locusts at me, or fill my water pipes with frogs, so I do try (most of the time) to be a reasonably good person. That takes a lot of work. I realize that theoretically, it should be easier to be good than to be bad. I wonder how good must I be to be "good" and how bad can I be before being "bad"?

Suddenly it occurred to me that God gave us the simplest set of rules to follow: His Ten Commandments. How much easier can it be? But I don't follow them all, all the time.

I was raised Catholic and once had a discussion with a co-worker who said that as an adult, she doesn't bother with confession any longer because she doesn't really do anything bad. "What could I tell the priest, that I lied?" she asked. And my reply was, "Well, yes, if you lied, that's what you would tell him." The thing is, we all forget in our adult years that a lie is truly against the Ten Commandments. And a little "white lie" for what we think is a good reason is still a lie. 

We each look at each of the ten and we tend to adapt them to suit our own sensibilities and convenience.

I should print the Ten and put them in a nice font and into a frame on the wall somewhere in the house. Come to think of it, I should have them plastered all over the house because I do find it easy to get distracted by the world and its issues.

Lord Jesus, I realize you did not break any of the commandments, so you gave us yourself and your life as a wonderful example to follow. But I am not you and I often get distracted and do not even realize I am not obeying. I am grateful the Father forgives me over and over, but I would like to think I making some headway in the battle. Please send me all the grace you can so that I can try to be more obedient to the Father's guidelines for our life here on earth.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hymns and Gospel Music

I know I've written before about my habit of late (about two years) of playing music on my PC at night while I'm catching up on emails and other things. I loaded some CDs onto the hard drive.

I've got a wide variety on there - not a lot of CDs - maybe a dozen. But I've got one Patsy Cline, two Jackie Gleason instrumentals (beautiful easy listening music), Christmas music (I play that all through the year whenever the mood calls to me) and several albums of gospel music and hymns.

When I play these, my plus-size kitty knows it's near bed time. At that point, she's already been brushed (our evening ritual). She lies down and gently falls asleep half a room away, listening to the music.

Tonight, I needed the spiritual mood. I've listened to, and enjoyed, "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?" (I love not only the words but the melody), "How Great Thou Art" and others. It's such a soothing and relaxing way to get ready for bed. In about an hour or less, I'll shut down the PC and I'll say my bedtime prayers.

But along the way, that sweet spiritual mood will fill my heart and soul and comfort me. What a gentle and loving way to end the night.

Sweet Jesus, you lived here. You know the sweetness of earthly music. I realize it cannot compare with the heavenly choir of angels, but in our own way, we try to raise our hearts to the Father and praise him and remind ourselves of what it's all about. Please thank the Father, for us, for the blessed and thrilling gift of music and our ability to enjoy it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Freezer Stock-up and Defrost Plans

Well, I'm down to just 3 containers of pre-cooked crock pot meals in my upright freezer. Time to re-stock. Time to get busy and get that slow cooker cooking. I have everything I need in my pantry, freezer and fridge to make at least 3 slow-cooker meal batches.

Tonight, I'm working up a batch of ground turkey chili. I didn't have any kidney beans in the house, but I did have a few tubs of pre-soaked pinto beans and navy beans, and a can of black beans. I mashed the black beans to add thickness and color. Earlier, I did cook the ground turkey in a non-stick skillet - other than that, there was almost no prep needed. Well, cutting the onions and a bell pepper. And opening cans (corn, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce). The pot is pretty full. I hope I didn't over-fill it. It has about an inch at the top and I didn't add any additional liquid, so hopefully, it will cook down a bit. Tossed in a few leaves of cilantro, and some other stuff. Can't wait to start smelling it during the night.

Later this week, I'll do a big pot of ground turkey stuffed peppers with tomatoes/tomato sauce, and I'll pack those individually for grab-and-go meals.

There's also everything I need in here to do a big pot of ham-and-beans. I have more of the pre-soaked pinto and navy beans, plus tomatoes and ham bones.

After that, I need to re-inventory for small items for other batches.

I do have about a dozen "sides" of mashed yams in the door. I'd like to do up a few different sides, and maybe some cooked/pureed fruits in season. I use those so many ways.

I'll take a break after this week. In a week or two, before June 15, I hope to defrost the freezer. Last year, I finally got the courage to do it after a 3-year hiatus - what a mess. So, this year, I'm rolling with my new plan of an annual defrost.

Then I'll make some chicken meals and a few others.

Let me know if you smell it cooking tonight...

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Garden Hoses?

I really must get a new hose this year. I have a 25' hose and it is so old, it's a pain to pull it and unkink it and deal with it.

But there are so many new ones on the market now and I don't know which ones are hype and which ones are best.

Maybe the plain ol' garden hose style I've been using all my life is still best.

Or a "pocket hose" or a hose that packs itself back up when I'm finished.

It's all so confusing.

I need one that will last the next 10 years, and is sturdy but not as heavy as a car tire, so heavy I can't pull it when it's full of water.

My home is 52 ft. long so I think I need a 50 ft hose, to be sure it will go from the connection about a yard from the back, all the way up front and across a yard or so -

Anyhow, if any of you already had a good/bad experience with any of the latest, most modern, hoses out there, I'd love to hear about it.

I'm probably going to end up with the tried-and-true but in case there is a "best overall" new style, I wanna know - thanks.

Getting My Priorities Straight

These past two years since my nephew passed away, I seem to be drifting. Well, not exactly drifting.

I've got several commitments that keep me tethered. 

I do our monthly senior mobile home community newsletter, on a volunteer basis - writing, printing, stapling and even delivering some.

I've got our park's charity crafting group to oversee - my own crochet projects, collecting the other member's projects, documenting and distributing finished projects, and gathering and storing/sharing donated supplies/yarn.

Because I've got to stay healthy and outlive my poor little plus-size shelter kitty (I'm the only human she trusts, save for one other person in the park) so that she doesn't have to re-adjust, I make a lot of meals from scratch, prepare slow cooker meals and freeze them, prep fresh fruits and veggies.

I have this blog which I used to update each evening but now I sometimes miss a few days. Still, it gives me one more commitment to keep me tethered to reality.

There is also my Etsy shop and off and on, I put things in and take things out.

Holding all this together is my faith. If it weren't for that, I'm not sure I'd have any sense of purpose. Even with faith, I find myself scattering my efforts. That's what I was thinking about when I said I was drifting.

These commitments are not overwhelming. Some of them have specific deadlines; others do not. But aside from that, I often find myself wondering why I'm doing this instead of doing that, wondering why I didn't start de-cluttering instead of doing something else.

In other words, I think I am not using my time wisely. I need to re-set my priorities and get them straight. I also wonder if I should be doing some things that I've never done before, or stop doing things I've been doing too long.

Sweet Jesus, you lived here on earth. You worked with Joseph in the shop. You had friends who had many obligations. You understand how life can get in the way of our best intentions, so I'm asking you for help in getting my priorities in order. Help me to sense the Father's plan for me at this point in my life and to follow his lead. I don't want to waste the time he has given me on this earth, and overlook something that perhaps he needs me to do for him. Thank you.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Prayer Answered - Thanks to Amazing Friends

Last night before I shut down the PC and went to bed, I posted and asked for prayers. I had a special concern and couldn't figure out a solution. Some of you posted that you would keep me in your prayers. This morning, by 11:30, I had figured out a way to resolve my problem.

Thank you all so much.

Two things here -

First, we all know it is written that when 2 or more are gathered in His name, prayers are heard and answered. In this day and age, that obviously includes a cyber-gathering of 2 or more, because He certainly heard your prayers on my behalf. Isn't that great? It also means you should not feel shy about asking for prayers on your own behalf - we are here for you as well.

Second, most of you know me as an almost incurable optimist. I have faith that things will work out. But even I have my moments. From what I've seen and experienced, sometimes life can overwhelm even the strongest of us. It doesn't matter if the problem is medical, financial, or emotional. If we are stressed at the time, we can honestly block our minds from seeing the answers that might be right in front of us. I believe prayer can lift that veil and help us see those answers.

Sweet Lord Jesus, thank you so much for helping me see a way around my problem. And please, please bless those who prayed on my behalf. That type of support is priceless.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

It's Been a Happily Busy Week

It truly has been quite a week, but happily so. In the midst of it all, I managed to finish an Etsy order for one of my Class Reunion Reports and a crocheted Rustic Wall Cross. The buyer for the cross wanted it longer than usual and I was worried that I couldn't get it to work, but I did, and am shipping tomorrow.

And a neighbor wants a pair of hanging towels to give as a gift to some friends. I had to hunt down the right "theme" for these (roosters) but I managed to find them, and they are almost finished.
None of this adds up to a lot, not even $50 total, but for me, that's gas for the car and litter and cat food and such. That's a good thing.

We received two small yarn donations which I took to our team on Friday and we divided it up.

I did a lot of food prep this past week. I picked up some fresh fruit and veggies at the 99-cent store. It's a lot cheaper but more work than getting already-canned or packed foods. Still, it was worth the little time I had to put in.

There was a really big seedless watermelon, almost as big as a normal one. By the time I cut off the rind, and then cut it into bite-size pieces, usually 1-inch chunks, I filled seven 2-pound deli containers. I'm munching happily on them each day.

I had also grabbed a fresh pineapple and have enjoyed tossing pieces of that into various things.

My only trouble with lengthy food prep sessions is when I must stand longer than 10 or 15 minutes. I have flat feet and even with arch-inserts, I pay for it a bit when I stand too long at the counter. I've tried stools or sitting at a table. The stool is really uncomfortable. I find I'm better off standing at the counter alongside the sink. So I just make sure to take a few steps off and on, to move those feet.

When I began to work on the towels (I'm not quite finished with those), I realized that my own supply at home, for my own use, is down to less than half a dozen. I keep forgetting to make myself some. So I rummaged through my stash and found a few, and I'm doing them all together. I've got a dozen in progress. I cut them one day. The next day, I roll the raw edge about 1/4-inch and baste them all. The next session is to put a blanket stitch edge over the basting, and this gives me the basis to begin crocheting. Today, I'm ready now to start the crocheting. I should end up with a few for my emergency-gift stash, out of this batch.

Anyhow, it's been a little of this and a little of that. I even did a little de-cluttering because one of our local charities was scheduled for a pick-up in our park on Thursday. That gave me the motivation to find enough to make it worth their stopping at my place.

All in all, it wasn't a bad week. I got some things done that I'd planned, and wasn't able to get to others, but it worked out nicely.

I'm a Little Worried This Month

I've been trying so very hard to hold it all together. Thankfully, faith has pulled me gently over many rough spots, some of which none of you will probably never be aware of. It's been a long time since I've asked for prayers for personal issues, but tonight I am asking that. 

Without giving particulars, please pray that I will have patience while the Lord works things out for me? 

I know we're supposed to have such intense faith that we do not even worry, but I'm all too human and once in a while, even now, the worry does creep in. So, without much else, prayers, please, my friends?

There have been many sweet blessings of many different types this month for which I am eternally grateful. Extra food coming in from unexpected places, the ability to stretch the food I've got, in healthy ways, a small Etsy order, and other delightful surprises.

Sweet Lord Jesus, you know my concerns. You know how very grateful I am for so many things. But I need a big dose of patience to keep my faith afloat over the next two weeks. Thank you for always being there and for understanding. Forgive me, please, for asking for myself when I know so many who are in stronger need. Please take care of them first, but please don't forget to look in my direction afterward?

Our Group's All Time Totals

For those of you who never see our monthly senior mobile home park's newsletter, here's what we shared in our April issue...our team still can't figure out how we did it but we just did it one item, lovingly made, at a time. Funny how it slowly adds up - and this doesn't even include things like bibs and other things.

We're happy to have somehow managed to still be around after 7 years. The Maycliff Sunshine Charity Crafters began in April 2009. During that time, we have made, by hand, and distributed to local needy, the following:
Hats                     1462
Afghans                 224
Scarves                  598
Shawls                   224
Gloves                   509
Slippers                   82
Baby Hats              611
Baby Jackets           27
Baby Blankets       338

That's an overall total of 4,075 different items we made and gave away.

When we began back in '09, by the 2nd week, we had 4 members and we have averaged that over the years. We are always amazed at how small amounts add up to big totals, little by little.

As for the members, of those first 4 members, we still have 2 who are actively involved in the group. Folks come and go but we hold steady. We have been blessed with some amazing and dedicated members.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Health Studies - Hazardous to Our Health

I think I am getting very sick of health studies that tell us which foods are good for us and which are bad for us.

I finally, finally, weaned myself off whole milk, over 10 years. I have actually learned to like and enjoy 1% milk, skim milk, and even powdered milk. Now a new study says that whole milk is best for us. Apparently because it is richer, we drink less of it per serving (yeh, right!). They say further that the whole milk has more beneficial "stuff" in it (don't ask - I've quit caring).

It took me years to get off regular coffee in the 80s, and into decaf. Then off decaf in the 90s and totally off of coffee. Now they say a cup or two a day is beneficial. Do they mean their cup (6 or 8 oz) or do they mean the cup we drink these days (16 oz thermo mugs)? No matter - I'm back on the stuff - fully charged, whole coffee, regular, for sure.

And I tried and tried to wean myself off chocolate. Now they say dark chocolate is advantageous and healthy - I really don't care. I only seem to be able to quit chocolate of all types during Lent's 40 days and nights. Aside from that, I'm gonna let it all hang out. Or hang over, or whatever.

Yep, I'm ready to give up. All those studies get us all hyped up, all worried, all stressed out. The studies themselves are hazardous to our health - I wonder if anyone has ever done a study about the mental effects on folks who read and believe them. Can that stress and worry cause bad reactions in our bodies? Can we get really, really sick from just reading those studies?

The advice about "all things in moderation" is probably the best of all. It will be my food motto - until I see the next study!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

24 Hour Bug in Town?

Sounds like a 24-hour bug zipping around town this week. A friend in assisted living was really sick on Thursday, all day and the night before that. No appetite and what little was ingested immediately came back up. In her case, she was smart enough to drink as many fluids as she could. Folks often forget that dehydration can cause lots of problems in seniors. The confusion that results can affect medication times and that can cause even more issues. 

Anyhow, three of her immediate neighbors on her floor were also ill, and today she mentioned that the facility had other cases. However, the next day, all was well. Well, she was a little weak, but sounded a lot better.

That was Thursday, the first I heard of anything. Friday morning, one of my charity crafting team called early in the morning saying she'd been up since the wee hours of the morning and couldn't keep anything down, for one, and wouldn't be at our session that morning. I haven't seen or heard anything since then from her, and I'm going to touch base with her tonight, now that I just realized that.

Then, today, a neighbor mentioned other cases in our own area.

So I guess I'm giving us all a head's up - something is going around. And it makes folks so sick that they consider the ER, but the ones I've heard of were fine the next day, or reasonably so.

Still, if you are sick, you know your own body and should listen to it. If you need to see a doctor, you should do so. 

Hugs and prayers for all...

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Feline Guilt Trip

What is it about cats that they can make us feel so guilty?

It took me a while this morning to do some morning things. It was very damp this morning outside. Before I did anything at all (except my bathroom trip, which she patiently puts up with), I wished her a Good Morning. I fed her. I cleaned her overnight litter issues. I propped open the back door for her. She ate, took a little walk outside to check our lot. When she came back in, she gave me that look which said: "Okay. It's damp out there. I ate. I walked. Please sit on the lift chair, raise your legs, and make me a lap so I can get all warmy on your plump, puffy body!"

I couldn't do that right at that moment. I had to gather the trash from various baskets in each room and then bag it and take it to the curb. I had to make my coffee and my oatmeal. I had to check my emails and my Etsy shop (in case there was an overnight order, which there rarely is). I checked the weather forecast, traffic and area incidents on the morning tv news.

Along the way, she asked me again to let her sit on me, and I told her mommy was very, very, very sorry but mommy still had to finish her oatmeal and either soak or wash the dishes, and do one or two more things.

Eventually, she heaved a cat-sigh, trudged into the back bedroom, and got up at the top of my bed. After I get up each morning, I pull up my covers nice and neat, and quickly put an old flannel sheet, folded, across the top of my bed. I arrange it so that it gently slopes up about a foot onto my pillow, so her highness can lie there with her head on my pillow. After she arranged herself, she gave me this pitiful look of disappointment.

I apologized once more, and I know throughout the day, I will ask her to come on my lap and she'll give me that "Well, maybe you have time for ME now, but I might not have time for YOU now" look.

How and where do they learn to manipulate that guilt inside us?

Friday, May 6, 2016

Kentucky Derby - Satur-Day Fever

Well, I've cleared a few hours for total immersion in tomorrow's Kentucky Derby TV viewing. But nothing will compare, in my lifetime, to last year's fever from, and obsession with, American Pharoah's sweep of all the awards.

There was never any horse that so loved people and was so loved by them - at least none that I can remember.

I've raided my cupboard, fridge and freezer, and set aside plenty of snacks (some healthy, some not) to sustain me for those two hours of pre-Derby races and the race itself. I eat when I'm excited. Oh, okay, I eat for any good excuse of a reason, but when I'm excited, most definitely.

I truly love the horse races and had forgotten how much so until two years ago when California Chrome gathered so much publicity. Then last year, my fever returned. I doubt it will subside.

I love to see live horse races but I suspect that is out for me at this point. I've been blessed with having been to many in my younger days. Beautiful animals - noble in appearance, amazing in action.

So, if you do not hear from me in any way, shape or form mid-day tomorrow, don't be surprised.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Busy Days of Late

The past few days have been busy ones. It's the usual time for writing, editing, printing, stapling, rolling and rubber-banding (for delivery), and hand-delivering our monthly senior mobile home park newsletter.

Normally, I volunteer to not only write and produce the newsletter, but I also walk and deliver to almost 200 of our homes. It's one way to get me to walk - but that, sad to say, is just once a month. 
Anyhow, I normally deliver part of it on a Saturday morning and the rest on that Sunday morning. Well, Saturday was really, really wet. I ended up delivering my whole route yesterday morning. But all went well.

That done, I realized my purse was empty of my little stash of plastic-canvas/satin-ribbon crosses that I keep in there. Often when I am out and about, I run into someone who seems troubled, we talk, I give them one of the little crosses to try to cheer them up. Between the crosses and my button-face angels, I can usually find a color to brighten a troubled face.

I finished almost two dozen of them and put half of those in my purse. I need to pick up some small plastic zip loc baggies for the others.

During the printing of the newsletter, I am pretty much house bound for a few hours, so I also worked on a baby jacket and baby hat for our charity crafter's stash.

Oh, and a neighbor, a local handyman, came by. We had set this up last week. My plastic lattice along my driveway and across the back of my driveway is over 6 years old and breaking apart from the supports. I had him come by and "batten down my hatches," as it were. He screwed all of the panels on nice and tight. He also screwed in my two vertical rain spouts - driveway and front porch side, both. They were coming loose and one day, one of them had even tipped down onto my car trunk, but thankfully, it was a gentle fall and no damage. I was only able to tape it back in place. Now it is snug.
So, now I won't cringe every time I hear one of our strong gusts of winds here in the Vegas valley. Here, we call 30 mph a "breeze." It's the 50 mph and 60 mph winds that can rip off our awnings and do other damage. At least now, it's more secure here on my lot.

Oh, and I revised my Class Reunion templates for my Etsy shop. I've been paying about $80 a year to update the data base for the software. The way that comes into play is this way - on the Reunion report, there's a paragraph with a list of "consumer prices" for the date on the report. The database also pulls in current prices, as a comparison. I've decided to eliminate the current prices - everyone knows the current prices. On that report, the big thing is the prices at the time being remembered/celebrated. So now, maybe my profits will begin to appear. One can only hope. To do this, I must print backgrounds, open the software and generate a sample report, print that report onto the various backgrounds I offer, then scan each one, and save each one as both a pdf and a jpg, then compress the jpg's so that Etsy will accept the photos, and then update my Etsy listing. Yep - fun, right? Well, it's not rocket science, but it is detailed and time-consuming, but it's done. I feel so good about that - I've been thinking of that since January when the software company sent me the usual note to upgrade the package. 

So, all in all, those things and a few others, kept me moving along. That's good. When I worked on site, anywhere, there was always a sense of purpose. When we are no longer working for a paycheck or a contractor's check, sometimes it is difficult to get motivated. I'm not sure about others, but that's how it works with me.

Forgive - or - Forget?

Most of you know that I get a daily email from which contains a bible verse, a quote, an action to take and a prayer. Once again, I felt the need to share one of them. 
This one, I'm sure, touches each of us. In most of our lives, we can recall something that hurt us and we have a hard time forgetting that hurt. 
Even if we can't say the specific words in our hearts ("I forgive him/her"), maybe it's time to at least admit it's time to forget that matter and release the burden of hurt, and then we can move on.

"Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do." Colossians 3:13

A Time to Think
Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but it also becomes richer and happier.–Albert Schweitzer, theologian, philosopher and physician

A Time to Act
Forgive those who have crossed you. Your forgiveness is your most important contribution to the healing of the world.

A Time to Pray
Lord, show me new ways to bring comfort and healing in Your name.

Thank you, Lord, for these daily reminders from Guidepost writers. So often, they help me to look at things in a different way, and thereby continue to move on. Bless those writers, please, for their ability to share these thoughts.