Saturday, December 3, 2016

Seasonal Message - Peace, not Panic

The past two weeks have been filled with all sorts of tasks and all sorts of surprises. But it has not been unbearable. I am still sane. Or at least I try to pretend I am.

The next few weeks should not be too bad, either. There are some things still to be done before I tackle new tasks. 

Originally I had planned to ride with a neighbor on Thursday and sell at a local craft fair. Wednesday morning she called and said she had so much herself that she really did need the other table, the one I'd signed up for. There wasn't much I could do. She's a neighbor. There was no way I was going to argue the point, ride to the event with her, set up next to her, sit there most of the day, and know she was upset because I clung to my table, and then ride back. She gave me back my table fee which was only $10.

However, I had finally gathered all my hand made items onto a double bed in one room and now it was staring at me. Quite a few things were already listed in my Etsy shop. But there were lots of things that never made it to my shop. I hate taking the photos. I don't mind doing the descriptions, but I hate the photos. I had to face up to the fact that the photos needed to be done, no matter how good or bad they turned out. So I began taking them, listing the stuff, and have already sold two of the items. There will be quite a few more listed over this coming week.

Tomorrow, or the next day, my tech guy should be here to help me set up that PC tower. Those two sales will help with that fee. Once that is done, I'll lose a day just re-loading some specialty programs and my printers and making sure I have all my most important bookmarks.

Along the way I hope to do some very minimal outside Christmas decorating, if you can call it that. Just a little.

Most of the spare moments I might have between now and Christmas will be spent on making little token thank-you gifts for year-end giving. I always try to find things that are quick and easy - for me. We all have our own skill sets and our own comfort levels. I try to stick to mine.

Here's hoping you each try to find a way to handle your own stress this Christmas season. We need to keep in mind that Peace is the message - not Panic.

I will try - I really will try...

Friday, December 2, 2016

Prayers for Friend Answered - Thank you!

About a month and a half ago, I asked for prayers for a friend (see the post here). She had taken one of those new mail-in colon cancer tests. It indicated she had cancer or a strong suspicion of it. 

When she followed up with doctors, she was advised to get a colonoscopy to see the extent and to decide on treatment. I asked for prayers for her.

She just had the procedure today. Guess what? That mail-in test gave her a false positive! There was absolutely NO sign of anything - no polyps, nothing abnormal in any way.

The good news is that this is good news.

The bad news is that she was worried, rightfully so, for all that time, until today, and unnecessarily.

Thank you, my friends. It is true that when two or more are gathered in his name, their voices are heard.

Lord Jesus, you who healed by the simple touch of a hand on the hem of your garment, you had compassion and heard our prayers. Thank you for this day's good news. And bless all those who pray for others, and bless them abundantly!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thank you, Lord, for Hindsight

There have been so many times in my life when, looking back, I can easily see how the Lord worked things out on my behalf.

Most recently, I had what I am beginning to call my "backwards Saturday." I wrote about it a few days ago, at this link.

It started out very well, Then it fell downhill, like Jack in the Jack and Jill nursery rhyme.

And yet, by the time I went to bed that night, I was already able to see what the Lord had done for me, what he had shown me, and how he had helped me. I thought they were troubles when in fact they were lessons.

Take the issue of the car shaking and shuddering. It turned out it was because I had let it get to 1/8 a tank. I had been used to letting it even get to the "line,' the "E," at times, when I didn't have the money to fill it. Now, because of the Lord's calling my attention to the fact that the car is getting older (as am I), I need to keep it at 1/4 or more filled. The lesson was a little scarey, but not dangerous. With prayers at that moment, I was able to keep my stress level down and do what I needed to do. I got it safely to my mechanic and learned that lesson.

The next lesson that day was the computer. I had assumed that when my tech guy came in the afternoon, we expected a quick and easy hookup of my tower. This was free from a friend, to replace the slowly failing old laptop I'd been using. When the tower refused to turn on, my guy took it back to his place. In the end, it was only the power adapter - we needed the correct make/model. But as my tech guy pointed out, if I had tried to install it myself, I would have blamed myself, thought I'd hooked it up incorrectly, and wasted time, effort and stress on something that was not my fault. This way, the way the Lord handled it, we got the right answer.

And finally, that day, I received an unexpected note saying my newest monthly newsletter delivery helper could not finish her deliveries that day and had to quit. I felt that I was not quite up to going back to a full route. But, again, by the time I went to bed, I realized something. Along the way, when I set up her half-route, I had rearranged the full route, the load I had been pulling for a few years. In doing so, I made it easier for me to go back to doing the whole route once more. This time, it was a more even split between two days. I couldn't understand why I had not seen that arrangement sooner. Now, of course, I realized the Lord stepped in to help me.

Father, forgive this sometimes dense mortal that I am. Thank you for helping me, in your own way, in your own time. I am thrilled that I am seeing your help more easily these days. But it seems to have taken me 77 years to do so. I suppose I am a slow learner. Thank you for your patience with me. And thank you for the gift of hindsight, so I can look back and see those lessons.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Prayers Answered on PC Issues - Thank You!

Great news on the computer. My tech guy called me this afternoon. The reason why my gifted gently used tower would not turn on was with the "power supply." 

My guy was calling from a store where he was picking up a new adapter. Apparently with these newer towers, the power adapters are model-specific and the friend who gave it to me must have just grabbed one and thought it was the right one. It's possible she even threw it out the right one along the way. Anyhow, my guy first told me on the phone that he thought the new one would cost $49.95. But he called back and said that they gave him his vendor discount and it was only $35-something. 

My funds come in on Friday, so I'll call him then and we'll set up a return visit. He said he'll just take $20 (the other half of 1 visit) plus the $35, and call it square. So, bottom line, the monitor and keyboard (free from neighbors) and the tower, altogether, will end up costing me just $75. That is good and better than I'd get anywhere, I'm sure. Oh, and he said this tower is great and I will like it and what's on it. I already knew that from the friend who gave it to me.

So, this weekend, or as soon as he can find a hole in his schedule, we'll set an appointment for him to bring the tower back and connect it. This laptop is hanging on, thank you Lord!

So, my friends, I need to thank you all for your prayers. You are awesome and I hate using that word because it is overused but it fits in this case. It has been eight days since I first asked for prayers and there were ups and downs along the way, but the Lord came through, as always, in his way and in his time.

Father in heaven, thank you for your compassion and mercy. Considering how we humans tend to expect quick and easy answers when we ask for your help, I appreciate the patience you sent my way while you worked this out for me. And please bless my  prayerful friends abundantly for their help.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

PC Issues Prayer Request - Update and Thank You

Back on the 20th, I asked you to pray that my troublesome laptop would last at least until the 26th, Saturday, when my computer tech guy would probably be here to connect a tower a friend gave me.

Your prayers were not only heard but answered. With only two or three "blackouts," we made it to Saturday.

However, the issue is not yet resolved. The tower refused to turn on. Tech guy tried everything. Took off the side and front - eyed the insides. Nothing strange. After an hour of trying everything he and I could think of, we gave up. He graciously helped me reconnect the laptop. He took the tower with him, to try one or two things at home.

If I am lucky, it might just be a bad "power supply," that little transformer thingie you plug into the power strip. That wouldn't cost me too much.

If it's not that, he can take it to his next-step-up-the-tech ladder pro, who has a $4000 diagnostic machine, to see if it's worth fixing. Depending on what they find, it if has to get that far, we'll decide then whether to keep on going or call it quits.

Bottom line - you folks are great. The laptop is cranky but working - that's what we were praying for and what the Lord has seen fit to grant me. Thank you all for that. I just need to keep praying a little longer to see what he has in mind for me.

Father, thank you so much for keeping this laptop going while we figure out what to do next. I'm not going to try to second guess you. You alerted me to the need for a new setup. I trust you to guide me toward that end. And please bless all those who prayed on my behalf!

Saturday Things Went Downhill Backwards - Challenging Day

Yesterday was a real challenge but at the end of the day, I was still sane. That's a good thing.

The morning began on a high note. I delivered my part (about 60) of the senior mobile home park's newsletters, one to each home, on foot. It was chilly at 7 a.m., my chosen time. But no heavy wind yet, clear and dry. I made great time. One hour - gentle walking pace. Great exercise. Nobody out at that time to slow me down. When I came inside, I felt really good.

Ate breakfast and had coffee and got ready for a couple quick errands. Grabbed some cash from the ATM for my computer tech guy who was coming later that day, and headed for the post office, planning to mail a small Etsy order, and then I planned to get a little gas, and then come home. 

That's when things began to go not only backwards but downhill.

As I rounded the corner near the post office, the Service Engine Soon light lit up on the dashboard and the car began shuddering and thumping. I did some heartfelt praying, let me tell you. The words that I recall went something like "Lord, get me safely to the post office, let me get in there and out, and to the gas station, safely, and I promise I'll go right to the mechanic from there. Just please, keep me and the car safe!"

When I got out of the post office and turned the car back on, it did it again, but the post office is right next to the gas station so I did not have to go far.

At that point, this gas station, which has a zillion pumps, had bright yellow "do not use me" hoods on at least half of the pumps. I had to drive around a bit to find one on the correct side for my shuddering, thumping car. But I made it.

By the time I got back into the car and was headed to my mechanic, a mile or two away, not far, the shuddering and thumping stopped but that Service Engine Soon light was still on.

I was expecting a lot of action at the mechanic's because of the holiday but luckily they had a bay or two open. These guys are great. They did a fast diagnostic reading and the code said something about "gas low misfire." Aha! That thumping did stop after I put a 1/4 tank of gas in there - before that, I was down to just 1/8. The car is 16 years old. I've had it about 6 years, and in the beginning, it would run just fine down to the E, leaving me about 15 miles of drive time left.

Looks like the old buggy is telling me that, like its owner, age has its limits and issues. I'll respect that in the future, you can be sure.

Next, my tech guy came by. The free computer tower a friend gave me was the project. He was planning to connect it and explain the differences between Windows 10 and Windows 7. Not going to happen. At least not for a while. Poor guy spent about an hour here, and the tower would not "power on." We tried everything. We ended up reconnecting the old laptop I've been struggling with, and he took the tower with him to try one or two things at his place.

Then I get an email from the gal who does another one of our newsletter routes - in the wind which developed during the day, her asthma acted up and she couldn't finish her route. That meant I need to do that. This was, like the shuddering car and the obstinate tower, unexpected. But I will do those tomorrow morning, early.

All in all, shuddering car, obstinate PC tower, and extra deliveries aside, it didn't end up too badly.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Why I've Seemed Busy This Last Week or Two

This is a bit complicated. About a month ago, I realized I had a gazillion Christmas cards in my shed, bought years ago when Jane and I always got them on sale after Christmas. At first I wanted to send one to everybody in my senior MHP. Then I did the postage-math and realized I didn't have $200 for that.

Next option: why can't I deliver one to each resident along with the monthly newsletter? If it went with the newsletter, I didn't want it to be just from me. So I had each member of my newsletter team give me their first-name signature (IN CURSIVE, kids!). So far, easy, right?

Here's where I didn't do all my homework.

About two weeks ago, I brought in all the cards from the shed. Because we have a great mix of residents, I didn't want to offend any one person or faith, so I put aside anything with a strongly spiritual message (these I'll send and give from me, personally, this season). It took me hours to go through all the cards. I finished with 300 that I could use. I still needed another 100. 

That costs money Thankfully I had some Swagbucks accumulated, so I used that to buy the last 100 cards plus the labels I would need to use for the signatures.

Here's where time got in the way.

I had to shop for the cards, buy the labels. Not even an hour. Early this week, I scanned each signature, cropped it, inserted each one into a box on a page, grouped them, added a message from our "team" (7 of us), and plopped them onto a Master, 10 to a page. I printed 400 labels. The graphics and the printing didn't even take an hour.

But we are delivering them this weekend and early next week. I had to do the rest quickly.

This week, I wrote, edited, and had the newsletter proofread. I made the changes and printed it, even with the laser drum issues.

In the midst of printing, I was busy peeling and sticking 400 labels onto 400 cards, and inserting them into their envelopes. That took almost 4 hours!

Yesterday, I stapled our newsletters (about 1-1/2 hours). Afterwards, I punched a hole in the corner of each card. My first few efforts were a mess. I had to use two hands to punch through the thickness of card and envelope. Then I remembered another hole punch I had lying somewhere in here. Once I found that, it was easier. Still, that took another two hours.

Today, I go to the charity crafters from 10 to Noon. When I come home, I need to rubber band the newsletters on my own delivery route (about 60 papers, now that I have help for my route). That's easy. Then I need to pull/loop rubber bands through holes in the cards for my route. When we deliver, I'll just band the card on the front porch railing first, then the newsletter.

Tomorrow morning around 7, I'll deliver my newsletters and cards. The rest of my team will fit in their own deliveries according to their own schedules.

So I've spent no money out of my own pocket on this project. I have, though, spent a lot of time. It's not an impressive year-end gesture by any means - the cards are not glamorous, the graphics and label are not professional quality. But I do know that, in here, there will be at least 50 to 100 folks for whom that might be the only card and wish for good cheer and peace that they will get this holiday season. For that reason alone, it is worth it.

Moving along. My tech guy should be here sometime this weekend to help me set up my PC tower. I am scheduled for a small craft fair on Dec 1, Thursday. That means I now need to gather the stuff I have here, tag it if need be, sort, do whatever prep is necessary. December 2, I will relax. And begin making token gifts for Christmas...

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Short and sweet: I hope everyone had a very peaceful Thanksgiving Day. And I hope you each found some things to be thankful for.

Personally, I have a big long list of things I am thankful for, and many of those I mention here often, so I won't go into those now.

But mostly I hope folks realize that our happiness comes from within us. I remember something Rev. Robert H. Schuller once said. In effect, that was: we cannot always help what happens to us, but we can always help how we react to it.

Even then, our reactions might first be negative but it is up to us to turn that around as soon as possible.

May each of you go to bed tonight with some joy in your heart. May each of you find one little thing to be grateful for. Start with the fact that if you are reading this, you are on the internet and whatever you are paying for that service, it opens up the entire world to you. That in itself is amazing and wonderful.

Think a little about life tonight, my friends. And enjoy the little things around you that you are not always relaxed enough to notice.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Once Again, I'm a Little Ashamed of Myself Tonight

Usually, I'm the one who tries to show that faith can conquer all. Or at least it can get us over the bumps on life's road.
Well, today, I did not follow my own advice and example.

I had just started my monthly newsletter "run," and had printed two batches of 32 (6 pages, duplex - the output tray only holds so much), and suddenly I began getting black blotches and smears. I know my way around that printer a little, but no matter what I did, I couldn't get a clean copy. I was really frustrated - and more than a little worried. I had 400 to print, as usual. It normally takes almost 3 hours of printing 32, over and over again. Each round takes about 10 minutes. I fit other little tasks into those 10 minute chunks of time.

But today it was even more stressful, and I'll explain in a few days why that was. I am preparing a little bit of a surprise this month for the folks in our Park, and needed to get that finished, too.

After almost a half hour of fretting, trying everything I knew, I went onto Facebook and was almost in tears, which is not my style. I usually face an issue with a deep breath followed by prayer. This time I never made it to the prayer stage.

Long story short: a friend of mine fixes printers. We talked on the phone. I now understand more about how the toner cartridge and drum work with each other. I needed to replace the drum. I've done this before. Easy. And after that, beautiful copies. All that carrying on for nothing.

The bottom line is that I allowed my emotions to take the place of my faith. I didn't like that feeling at all. When I have enough sense to take that deep breath, then pray, I end up feeling protected and secure. I know at that point that I've turned it over and I just get on with other things while I wait for the answer -

Father in heaven, forgive my childish panic this morning. I do know and trust in your loving compassion. I do know that I can come to you with anything at all, and that you will understand and help. Please watch over this weak mortal and strengthen me when my emotions overwhelm my faith. I trust in you.

Next on My Crockpot List

Well, I'm doing another overnighter in my crockpot - tonight. 

I found a small piece of London Broil in the freezer. I tossed that in, a whole bunch of baby carrots fresh from a friend's garden, some frozen corn, peas and cut string beans, plus a diced onion. Looked around and tossed in a can of diced tomatoes and a little tomato puree. 

Found some chicken broth from the other night when I cooked that whole bird in the cooker, and tossed that in. Oh, and I found some steamed cauliflower in the fridge, so I tossed a few florets in there, too.

And because I wanted it a little thick, more like a stew than a soup, I tossed in a cup of uncooked barley. I keep the barley in a big jar in my fridge. I use it instead of flour to thicken. Nice velvety texture, great taste, and healthier than the flour.

Now I just wait and see what it's like in the morning...can't wait. It'll be a sort of beef barley veggie soup.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Progress on Prayer Request

Two days ago, I asked for big time prayers. I hope with all my heart that the old laptop I'm using will hold up until the weekend. You all came through for me! So far, so good.

Most of my life, I've lived by the adage, "God helps those who help themselves." So I never pray  and stop trying to deal with the situation. 

In this case, I made sure I called my tech guy yesterday. We'll talk again Friday afternoon for a firm day/time over the weekend, while I still have the money to pay him. I can easily plug and play, and transfer some things. But I'd feel better if he was here. I'm also moving from Windows 7 on a laptop, to Windows 10 on a tower. I have always preferred a tower.

He will walk me through the differences between the two operating systems. That's mostly what I need. I know how to download all my files from Carbonite. And I know how to load the 3 or 4 special programs I always depend on. I'm looking forward to it, but not this week. This is a heavy week for me on the PC and I need stability, not change, until I've finished these projects. Then I can make the switch.

So, thank you again, my friends, for the prayers. As I said, so far, so good. I will limit my PC usage until then.

Father, thank you for hearing my prayer and those of my friends. I do realize that my problem is not the most pressing in this troubled world, so I'm very grateful you are taking the time to help me manage this. Meanwhile, I pray you look kindly upon the needs of those I know and love, those I have promised to pray for, and for those who have not asked but who need your love and compassion and mercy. 

"Built" Another Crockpot Meal

Ok - I turned on the crockpot at 5 this morning - I'll let it go 10 hours, and then maybe an hour more. I love how you can "build" a meal by just looking in nooks and crannies of your fridge, freezer, and pantry.

We started by dumping a can of Rotel on the bottom, then dumped 2-3 cups frozen pre-soaked great northern beans in next, then a can each of black beans and kidney beans. Next came a half cup brown sugar, cup of tomato puree, and 1 diced onion. 

I think I have another container or two of those great northerns in the freezer to use up later. When I come across a buy for dry beans (and they are not always cheap these days, believe it or not), I soak them overnight and freeze in recycled 2-lb yogurt containers.

Because the purpose of this pot was to use up the gifted pork ribs, they came next. I cut them apart with my kitchen shears and counted 9. I poured some Sweet Baby Ray sauce on top.

Then, because I had 9 ribs and wanted limited meat per serving, I realized I didn't have quite enough bulk to put at least a cup of the beans with each rib, so I added water to what I thought would work.

Can't wait to see how it turns out.

Monday, November 21, 2016

More Crockpot Meals in the Works

Although it might look like I'm doing too many crockpot meals this last week or so, I know myself, and I need to keep it up while I'm on a roll. This way, I use up stuff in my freezer, fridge and pantry, before it spoils, and I stock up the freezer with easy heat-and-eat containers of stuff I like to eat.

So far, I tucked away containers of spaghetti-squash with sauce and ground turkey meat loaf pieces, plus a container of the rest of that meat loaf. I've tucked away a bunch of containers of ground chicken chili, and I tucked away that chicken breast from a few nights ago. I've already eaten the leg and wing, and the thigh is tomorrow, but the breast will cover two meals one day when I want it. It was a big chicken.

After checking the freezer for the oldest meat, I found a small piece of baby ribs. I am not into pork these days, but it will really flavor a meal and it won't overload me with actual meat. It's defrosting and tomorrow, I toss a can of Rotel in the bottom of the crockpot, then a chopped onion, a can of black beans, 3 cups of pinto beans (cooked them a while back, to have ready), and maybe a diced onion. Then I'll place that small bunch of ribs on top, drizzle some Sweet Baby Ray sauce on it, and let it simmer all day.

There was also a small piece of London Broil. I rarely eat beef. I really do not enjoy beef these days. Except if it's a really good charcoal grilled burger with Swiss cheese, mushrooms and fried onions (I know, I know), or a really nice piece of Chuck Roast - I guess I like the cheap beef, the poor man (or woman) beef. Anyhow, I'll cut that small piece into bite-size pieces, add all the veggies accumulating in there, and toss in some barley to thicken. That will be Wednesday overnight, if all goes well.

The only thing still in there from a while ago is a pack of about half a dozen chicken leg quarters. I need to check those for freeze burn. If they look okay, they will be the next project down the line.

Then I'll only have the meaty ham bones I just put in there. I'm planning at least one nice pot of pea soup to start with.

The chicken, London Broil, and ribs were all given to me. Folks know that if I cannot use something, I know someone who can. So if their fridge or freezer goes out on them, or they are going away for a while, I happily benefit. And I make sure I use everything wisely.

Yep - I will have a nice stash in the freezer for a while this winter. This foodie is a happy camper, and a happier eater.

I'm So Excited - PJ's from Swagbucks!

Thanks to my Swagbucks points, this morning I was able to pick up some "stuff" from Walmart. I usually sleep in a sleep/dorm shirt but they only come to the knees and creep up during the night. It is very drafty in my humble old mobile home, and the jammy bottoms (used to be Jane's) I wore the last few winters finally fell apart.

I just came back with a cute pair of fleece jammy bottoms. I have a bunch of tee shirts to use for tops. The bottoms are gorgeous purple adorned with adorable owls, so "owl" be cute and comfy and warm at night.

I had enough left to buy essentials for Silkie: bag of cat chow, 2 small bags of treats, and half a dozen cans of wet food.

I just love what I've been able to do with Swagbucks. And I almost have enough for another gift card - for sure before month end. And I especially love that I do not have to dip into too-scarce bill money to do it!

If you've signed up for Swagbucks, and can't seem to get started, don't give up. Try again, off and on, until you get used to it. It's worth the time and effort. Unless, of course, you are already a millionaire!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Prayers Needed, Big Time - PC Issues

Most of you know that I had big time PC troubles a few months back. Somehow, I managed to be able to pay my computer guy to check it out. He tweaked this and that. He did a diagnostic. We agreed I needed to get another PC, soon.

Meanwhile, a dear friend heard about it and donated her former desktop tower to me. I already had a donated flat screen monitor and keyboard. But I didn't yet have enough for another visit from my computer guy.

For a few months, I had no trouble at all. Then, within the past 48 hours, it started acting up again. It shuts itself down unexpectedly. I did my usual "battery out, battery in" re-boot but it still does it.

Right now, I do have the funds to get my guy over here to set up the tower and transfer anything that needs transferring.

BUT, I cannot do it this week. This is a very heavy week for me on the computer. I need to do our monthly community newsletter which requires 3 steady hours of printing. I need to scan 6 documents. I need to print 400 labels. And I need to keep track of my Etsy shop and do some promotions.

So, I am asking each of you to simply pray that I can get through this week on this computer, without a lot of stress. I am ready and raring to go on the tower this weekend - I actually prefer a tower. So, prayers, please, my friends? Just for a little time - a week?

Father, you know what I need. I realize that there's nothing I cannot do with your help, but if it not interfere with your plans for me, I'm asking for your compassion for this week. Thank you for getting me this far, and for the funds and equipment for the transition. Bless those who pray for me and for other abundantly.