Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Prayer Answered - Update

On the 15th, I mentioned that the father of one of those friends passed on, but peacefully, in his sleep, from what we gather. Although that is not what the family hoped for, his passing, it surely must help to know he didn’t suffer more than need be. Prayers will be needed for a while to come. They will be facing income downsizing now, and possible housing glitches, plus the normal grief.

Then, yesterday, I heard from the friend who just had the mastectomy on Thursday. She’s back home after spending a few post-op days with family. She sounds much more chipper than I expected but that doesn’t mean she won’t have pain along the way during recovery. From what I know from other friends, that type of surgery requires a bit of therapy as well, to keep the skin over that area, and up under that arm, from tightening too much while healing, and therefore limiting movement. So, I thank you very much for your prayers. The surgery apparently went well. She is apparently healing well. But I will continue to keep up the prayers, now and then, until after the next surgery - the implant of a prosthesis. That’s way down the line.

The third person in that trio of prayer requests has been very quiet. I am praying that it’s a case of “no news is good news.” I worry about her. Prayers will continue here, as well.

Sweet Lord Jesus, thank you for the prayers already answered. We have been told by you that there is not only power in prayer, going to the Father through you, but also that there is power in many prayers, when we gather together. Thank you for friends who pray for folks they do not even know. Thank you for good hearts and souls who do this for each other. Special blessings for those who pray for others, please? And please continue to work on solutions for these folks we worry about.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sad News for a Friend

A few days ago, I posted, asking for prayers for 3 friends (link here).

Sorry to report that the father of one of these friends passed away overnight. I know that in their hearts, they had hoped they would have a little longer time with him. Apparently that was not meant to be. From what I understand, though, his passing was natural and during the night.

Thank you, my friends, for keeping the needs of others in your prayers, even when you do not know them.

At this point, they will need a lot of prayer. They are a financially challenged family but a close and loving one. Somehow they will muddle through. But it will be very hard, arrangements-wise.

On the other folks I mentioned at that time, I should be hearing over the coming week about my friend who had the mastectomy. She is offline for now and staying with family.

Sweet Lord Jesus, once again, we ask for prayers for the family who just lost their loved one. Comfort them; hold them in your loving arms; and send them as much peace as they need to get through this. Please, also, look at their circumstances and the fact that they love and help one another, and bless them with help with the final arrangements and other earthly issues that come with this loss.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Swagbucks Win from a Swagstakes!

I started playing with using a few points here and there in the various Swagstakes drawings on Swagbucks. I only started this during this past week and not consistently.

I kept it to using just 1 or 4 or 5 at a time but there are a few where they'll say “500 SB reward/each entry 40/limited to 50 entries, 35 left” - that sort of thing - the few I entered only this morning, one cost me 40 SBs, and limited to 25 entries, and must have only just then been posted because most entries were still available.

Well, I just won (and already received) 500 SBs!

My point level was way down after the holidays, below 1000, actually only about 650 this morning, and I "spent" about 90 playing around and was almost regretting it -

Because I use my accumulated SBs for food and other necessities (even jammies!), I hate wasting them, so even though I am really, really excited about this, I’m not going to let it push me into using a lot of my points just “hoping” to win something.

The win, 500 SBs, translates to $5 in spendability out in the real world, but for me, even $5 is important...

That really was exciting. I needed to share this with you other Swagbucks members, in case you wondered if anyone “real” ever won. The answer, obviously, is “Yes! They do!”

It took the edge off of my frustration from being disqualified from a lot of surveys today.

You can go here to check it out or to sign up - http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/emayfieldz

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Prayer Request for 3 Friends

This year has seen me very slow to get back into posting to the blog. That annoys me. On top of that, the very first post of the New Year happens to be a request for prayers. Although it is a very important and heartfelt post, it has a touch of sadness and an even bigger touch of worry about it. There are three folks in particular who need prayers.

First, there is a dear friend who is facing surgery tomorrow - a mastectomy. She has recently completed several rounds of chemo and radiation. She has endured the required waiting time after the last session and she is afraid of tomorrow and the surgery. She expects another down the line for a prosthesis implant. But first she has to get past tomorrow and all the healing and therapy that goes with it. She is frightened and rightfully so.

Next, another friend has been silent for a few weeks. She and I touch base off and on, online. She has quite a number of troubles to deal with. Each issue, alone, is enough to wear out a normal human being. One of these, 24/7 caregiving for an elderly mother, is enough in itself, to overwhelm anyone. On top of that, she has been depressed and has a few medical issues of her own to deal with. I worry that she will wear out. There are no options for visiting help - she has looked into every possible option.

Finally, another friend had a Dad who is in need of prayers, big time. Without going into a lot of details, there has been a lot of loss in this family in the past couple of years. They are still dealing with emotional wounds that are still fresh. Now they are facing the possibility of placing him on hospice status. They really are not ready for yet another loss and they hope with all their hearts that they can have him around a good while longer.

I had plans for this year’s first post. I wanted to review events of the past year and share the things that, looking back, made it a better year than expected. That will need to wait a day or so. For now, I need to keep these folks in my prayers. And I ask that each of you do so, too, if you have a moment.

Sweet Lord Jesus, you who healed all who came to you or who were brought to you, please glance in the direction of these friends. Please hear their prayers and ours, and share your compassionate and merciful love with them. Heal, where possible, and above all, send each one the patience and strength and faith to whatever extent they need during these troubling times. My heart aches for each one and I wish I could do more. But for now, I trust that you know what they need and that you will provide. Please bless all who pray on their behalf and bless them abundantly.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Trying To Get Back to Pre-Holiday Normal

Well, hopefully, I can slowly, or quickly, get back into some pre-holiday routines.

Things sort of went off-kilter and out-of-whack. Between computer breakdowns, the water rationing, trying to make holiday token gifts, and other issues, the past two weeks, especially, have been totally non-routine.

For example, for the second half of the year, I have been very excited about my Swagbucks earnings and activities. It really came in handy. Between groceries, cat food and supplies, and gas for the car (plus some other things), I began to rely on it. Then came the computer crash and a week-long delay in revving up my points. 

Then the holidays and my gift-make-it stage, and the usual newsletter production. So for the past two weeks, my balance was used and way down. I finally began getting into the activities yesterday, and am happily watching the points grow once more. It might take a couple weeks to get back up to where I can really do something, but at least I began.

My de-cluttering efforts took a big hit, too.

In fact, almost everything, that I felt I was making progress on, sort of stopped.

Many of my friends must know exactly what I mean even though our activities are different. Some went into holiday baking frenzies, others into gift-making frenzies, and some into hosting family and friends. Of course, there are some who were tied up with all three!

So it’s time for me, at least, to get back on that horse called “normal” and try to remember what that word once meant.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

I Had Such Fun This Morning

Long ago, in a little city by the sea (Atlantic City, NJ, before gambling was legalized), we developed an “early Christmas morning delivery” routine. I had always loved giving gifts at Christmas but I was living then with a dear friend and her 10-year-old son. He had several cousins, his age and younger.

Back then, he always had something going to pick up candy-cash and sports equipment-cash. He had a newspaper delivery route (and did double duty willingly if another boy was unable to cover his route at times), he shoveled snow in the winter, and he did well with his shoeshine box.

When Christmas came, he absolutely spent on those cousins and on his aunt, uncle, on his mom and even on me.

In those days, we had no car. It was riding the bus or walking, anywhere we went. When it came to the cousins, it was a bus ride.

So we three (his mom, me, and him) would get on an early bus (usually around 7 am or so) and ride, arms and laps loaded with bags of gifts.

You’d think he was a miniature but appropriately well-rounded (the kids in school called him Meatball) Santa when we got to their house and he started handing out the gifts.

It was the highlight of his year. It quickly became our highlight, too.

When we came to this senior mobile home community in 2001, we three were still, for financial reasons, sharing a place. It didn’t take more than a year or so for us to each feel we had found our “forever” home. And we each made our own friends plus some friends in common.

Anyhow, my friend has passed on, and so has my nephew.

But I cannot help wanting to hand out gifts, small as they might be. I give out some to the 4 folks in our Park office, to our newsletter delivery team, and to a few nearby friends.

This morning, I was dropping off little bags at porches here and there in our community – by 7 am. It wasn’t much – a laminated 2017 bookmark calendar, a little bottle of water with a computer-printed label saying “Melted Snowman” and graphics to match, a little plastic baggie with mini-marshmallows saying “Snowball Fight Ammo” and graphics to match, a tiny crochet basket (cupcake liner size) with little candies in it – that type of thing – no biggie.

But I had such a great time –

I truly hope each of you had a pleasant and peaceful Christmas. And that we each hold the joy of this holiday in our hearts all year long.

Blessed With Sweet Memories Yesterday

There was a moment when I began this post, when I almost used the word “bittersweet” instead of “sweet.”

Last night, Christmas Eve, I received a phone call from clear across the country. It was from Frank’s best boyhood friend. Frank, most of you know, was my live-in “nephew,” almost like my own son. He passed away almost 3 years ago and I do still miss him.

I remembered this fellow who called. In fact, at first I was concerned because when Frank passed away, I phoned this fellow and he wasn’t home, so I had to leave the message about Frank’s death as a voice mail message. Last night, I was afraid he never got the message and I’d have to deliver bad news 3 years after the fact.

There wasn’t any need for me to worry, as it turned out. He did get that message. But he got a sudden urge to check on me. I had known this young man (well, young to me – he’s almost 60) since he and Frank were boyhood chums, at least from 10 years old and up. Turns out he was calling just to say Merry Christmas and to make sure I was all right and still at the same phone number.

We spent the next half hour reminiscing. Instead of us getting all sad and morose, we seemed to unconsciously feel the need to chat about the happy memories. We talked about Frank’s hilarious dry sense of humor and how interested he was in people of all cultures. It was a very good conversation and I’m happy that I was at home when it came.

When I titled this post, I almost wrote that it was “bittersweet” because Frank was gone. But in fact, it was really very uplifting.

Father, please bless this boy because of his compassionate call. He had no obligation at all to call me and it was an unexpected kindness. Please pour out upon this man and his loved ones unexpected kindnesses in their lives in return.

Question About Cat Toy Stuffing Safety

Most times, when I crochet cat toys (I haven’t made many yet), I use cotton thread or cotton worsted rather than acrylic. For some odd reason, I feel if my cat, or any other cat, gets the yarn soaked from sucking or chewing on it, cotton is better than acrylic.

This week, I tried a new cat toy pattern and I didn’t have any of the suggested fiber fill to use for stuffing. I wasn’t even crazy about that idea. I ended up pushing 3 large pom poms inside of it. Even then, I’m not happy with the pom poms.

Cutting a washcloth or towel for stuffing would make it too heavy a toy. Felt doesn’t make me happy, either.

I’ve been thinking about cheesecloth but that is very light weight and I’d have to use a lot, a LOT, to puff out this toy. But I could use the cheesecloth to enclose a less-safe filling, I think. So, maybe a plastic grocery bag bunched up (or tissue wrapping paper?) stuffed inside a cheesecloth pouch/bag?
Anyhow, my question, my friends…

Do you have any ideas on safe stuffing for cat toys? 

This one is about twice as wide as a common stuffed mousie toy, so beans or seeds of any sort would make it too heavy and awkward for kitties to play with it.

Feedback welcome…

Friday, December 23, 2016

Making This A Short Night

Tonight will be an early night for me, I think. I am a little tired. We expect bad weather to hit between 10 and midnight and continue through the night.

Between the water-rationing, computer problems, financial challenges, and trying to put together some last minute token handmade gifts for my local friends and neighbors, I have been spreading myself a little thin. It’s time to take a little break, at least for this night.

This weekend, I’ll be working on the January newsletter, getting it ready for proofreading on Tuesday, printing Wednesday, stapling Thursday, and delivering next weekend. I’ll pace myself, of course. That’s one reason I spread it out over the week. If I did it all in one or two days, I could do it, for sure, but I’d be pushing and I’d hate every minute of it. I want to keep it “fun” for me for as long as possible. It’s on a volunteer basis, and if it ever starts to feel like a chore or like work, it will be time for me to hand over the reins.

Today, I did have fun making a couple cute cat toys to give to a friend/neighbor nearby. I won’t say what they are until after Christmas in case they see this – but I will post some photos because they are so darn cute. I might think about putting them into my Etsy shop.

For some folks, this is an especially crazy time. Please do not push yourselves, my friends. Take a deep breath and really look at which things are most important -

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Holy Family’s Travels

Tonight I was thinking about Mary and Joseph’s travels. At this point, it was just a few days before the birth of Jesus. Mary and Joseph must have been still a little ways off from Bethlehem. Riding the donkey must have been very hard on her at that stage. And surely Joseph walked much of the way to ease her burden and I’m sure he wasn’t wearing anything as comfy as Skechers.

As for accommodations, I don’t allow myself to get into technical arguments in my head about exactly which month the baby was born. We celebrate it when we celebrate it. But it still took 9 months to come to pass after conception. And they still had a long, hard journey. And as the Bible mentions, she was heavy with child.

I wonder if she knew at that point that there wasn’t any place for them to stay in that crowded city a few days ahead of them.

Then I began thinking of the actual arrival in the city, and the disappointment, and the hasty, last-chance place that would be their lodging for the birth. Whether you choose to believe it was a stable, or whether you choose to believe it was a cave, it sure enough was not my old but functioning (except for the broken pipes beneath the house) mobile home, and their donkey was not as easy a ride as my old but functioning car.

Then too, folks tend to ignore the fact that in those days, they did not have hot and cold running water, their feet were dusty, and they did not have comfy mattresses. Lumpy or not, my mattress surely has to be softer than where she lay her tired body to give birth.

Lord Jesus, whenever I am tempted to think things are tough, help me to remember what Mary and Joseph went through back then. Help me to always appreciate what I have and the love you pour out to us if we do not shut ourselves off from you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Things I Never Want To Take For Granted

Recently, I tried to thank someone who had helped me. I offered him some of my hand made items because cash for tips is non-existent. His reaction surprised me – he took one set of hanging towels because his roommate would like them. And then he said, “I can’t take anything else from you – you don’t even have running water, for Pete’s sake!”

It made me sound rather pathetic and I had to smile inside. That’s because I feel anything but pathetic.

Oh, I know that the broken pipes under the old mobile home must be replaced as quickly as I can find the resources. But I do have an inside shut off valve someone installed for me. And I seem to have the patience to keep turning it on and then off when I need to flush, wash dishes, rinse produce, shower – whatever.

The thing is – I have friends who are so much more in need of sympathy and prayer than I am.

Take the matter of cars. It’s is easy for me to get something at the store when I find the funds. I get into my old, but still running, car. But I have one friend who has only one leg, no car, and a not-always-running power chair which must be ridden out of the MH park, around the corner, loaded onto the bus, off at the store, and reversed to come back home. I have another friend who no longer has a car because of a horrendous auto accident a little earlier in the year. She needs to depend on a little disability scooter or rides from friends or loved ones. My car must seem like a luxury to them.

Or take the matter of rest. I can often feel stress building but when it does, I have the freedom to take a deep breath, say a wee prayer, and crash for 15 to 30 minutes on the couch or lift chair, to re-charge. But I have another friend who is 24/7 caregiver to an elderly mother. This is stressful and draining on its own, as any caregiver or former caregiver (like me), can tell you. She has no little chunks of time to rest. And she is also dealing with her own medical issues.

There are so many stories like this, so many real life examples of folks worse off than I am.

Lord Jesus, help me to always be appreciative of what I have and to recognize the needs of others. If I am unable to help them directly, fill me with the grace to at least say a prayer for them.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Moving Cold Climate Folks to Top of Prayer List

The weather outside is frightful, as say the lyrics to a famous tune. For some areas of our country, it is especially true now. Winter has taken hold and with a fury.

It is so easy to dismiss it with the thought that these folks always have harsh winters and that they must be used to it.

Well, yes, and no. 

Yes, they might be used to harsh winters. I was, myself, back in the day, in Philly and again in NJ. 

And, No, because most of us can see that the weather patterns are changing. We can no longer rely on what used to be. All the knowledge we gained on how to handle it no longer applies if it hammers us relentlessly.

So, for folks in the cold weather paths across our country, I’m moving you up to the top of my prayer list for the duration of the winter. You need more help than either I, or well-meaning advice givers, can hand you. You need Divine help, I think.

Lord Jesus, you who walked on water and calmed the sea, have compassion and mercy for those in the paths of this winter’s storms. Help folks to be more sensible when driving, walking or otherwise dealing with this weather. We trust in you.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dentures and Rain and Other Stuff

Bottom dentures broke once again, this morning. I have grown into a routine with this issue. These days, I just take some super glue and put them back together, but I try to let the glue “set” overnight whenever possible. When I do that, the hold lasts a while, often 4 to 6 months.

We’re told there’s a probability of rain and strong winds overnight. It’s going to be too late, though, for me to take advantage of the Heavenly Car Wash. Whenever it comes down nice and steady, I’ve learned to take the car for a drive through the MH community and let the rain wash the car for me. That’s out tonight, though. I’m not into doing that in the wee hours of the morning. Oh, well.

There’s still time for me to try to make some token gifts for the local folks on my list…I had hoped to make and mail some, as well, but postage is a low priority right now. I’m concentrating on how to pay the last of the bills before month end. I’m not as short as in the past, but it’s still a little out of reach.

It’s time for me to shut down for the night and have another go in the morning.

Rest well, my friends.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Flu Shot, Open House Fun, and more…

It’s been a wild few weeks, lots of ups and downs. I had hoped things would simmer down after I finished the monthly newsletter, delivered it, and worked a craft fair on the 1st. Well, I ran into some glitches doing the newsletter and the craft fair didn’t materialize. But before the craft fair bit the dust, I had spent two days gathering “stuff” and getting folding-rolling carriers out from the shed to transport the totes I’d planned to use, among other things.

Now I need to put all that stuff back where it came from, and catch up on where I’d hoped I’d be at this point.

This morning, I went over to the Open House at our newly renovated/redecorated Clubhouse. There was no way I was going to miss out on the free coffee, bagels and donuts. I ended up with a glass of OJ (it just looked SO good) and a nice big moist muffin of some kind. There was a small but pleasant assortment of residents so I stayed almost an hour.

After the errands I needed to run this morning (P.O. to mail something, some groceries, etc.), I managed to finally remember to stop at a Walgreens for my flu shot. I had planned to do that last month, but kept forgetting and kept getting distracted. Now it’s done. The season is here, and it takes two weeks to take effect, but a tad late is better than nothing at all.

Thankfully, I managed to prep a pot of pea soup today. I tossed in a meaty ham bone and stuff, and it will slow-cook overnight. Can’t wait.

There are a lot of things on my do-it-by-the-end-of-the-year to-do list. I’ll make sure to pace myself and enjoy each thing I tick off as I get to it.

This year, I promised myself I would not go crazy. I promised myself I would do things at my own pace, one I could enjoy. For me, at this age, to-do lists are only effective if, when each task is done, I can enjoy saying those words: it is done. I do not want to sink down, exhausted and not even be able to appreciate that it was done.

Years ago, for a friend of mine, I coined a saying: Like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady gets me there. It works for me!

Two Gifts, Blessings Indeed

The month seems to be flying by. I already know I am short for the bills this month. I do what I can. I rarely buy at fast food places these days. I work Swagbucks modes for points for food/incidentals/pet-supplies, cut as much as I can. 

The past few months, I have also been blessed in that nothing is in arrears – that is a major accomplishment considering the struggling efforts of the past couple of years.

I cannot complain and I will not complain. Explaining is different. It is simply stating facts. And I’ve just done that.

Meanwhile, I have much to be grateful for - a roof over my head, fat purring fur baby, friends in this MH community, lots of slow cooker meals in the freezer, fingers and hands that can still enjoy crocheting and crafting, and more.

Father, I know you will provide as you always do. Thank you for all that you do for me, and for blessing me with the ability to see those things. Two gifts in particular, faith and gratitude, are blessings indeed.