Hammering Gratitude in the Piney Woods

Sometimes, all I need is a new fountain pen and a journal to drive out discontentment.  I’m slowly learning that a life filled with gratitude only happens if I take the time to be thankful for the specific small things, the infinitesimal moments that add up to my life as a whole.  I can’t just paint a broad stroke of thankfulness across my life and say that I give thanks “in all things”, it just doesn’t fasten.  It only ‘fastens’ if I drive in those specific nails of thankfulness one nail at a time, one day at a time.

When I stop looking for those small things to be thankful for the crummy weeds of discontentment creep in and begin to strangle.  And when the strangling happens it has a ripple effect to all those around me.IMG_4110

Right now I bounce back and forth emotionally from house showings in Colorado and house showings in Texas.  I have no idea where my future will be and I’m finding this a good thing instead of a frustrating situation.

I’m thankful for falling oak leaves, crisp-cool-air, acorn memories

There is a different kind of fall here in the Piney Woods of East Texas.  I’m finding JOY in this.

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I’m thankful for deep, complete breaths

I’m thankful for sitting on the deck in my pajamas

I’m thankful for spending more time with my parents

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C. S. Lewis says that if you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable:  think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.  If fact in my opinion, I think it even becomes good because then you begin to live life with an eternal perspective.

I’m thankful for reciting 10 Little Monkeys with my granddaughter

I’m thankful for ‘just the two of us’ in Texas

I’m thankful for a big fenced yard the Kenzie can run in

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My wish for you this week of Thanksgiving is that you will become more attentive and aware of the many blessings that fill your day.  Accept the whole of each moment and give thanks.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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You Need to Read Yarn Along

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny and her knitting bookworms this morning on a Yarn Along……………

I’ve always seemed to look at the glass half empty instead of half full.

In recent years my tendency to look at that half empty glass has started changing.  It all began with Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts.  After reading it I began a personal challenge to live fully right where I am, each and every day.  I joined the Joy Dare and began counting things to be thankful for until I got to 1000.  It has been an amazing journey.

Ingratitude seems to be something that dwells deep within our makeup.  When Jesus healed the ten lepers only one returned to thank him yet all ten lives would be dramatically changed for the good from that point onward.  That is pretty much says it – 90% ungrateful and only 10% giving thanks!

On top of my journal is the beaded beauty I have been working on, Danse Macabre.  Have I mentioned to you in another post that it has 1000 beads in it?  Yep, 1000…… I only remind you because I have shared with you ONE THOUSAND GIFTS on this Yarn Along today.  If you struggle with the ‘half empty’ as I do, this is a book for you.

 

Fragile and Astonishing

 

Did you know that the fragile land above the treeline, called the Alpine Life Zone, begins at eleven thousand feet above the sea?

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Have you ever stood where trees are unable to grow?

This fragile land, where the tundra meadows are a colorful mass of wildflowers, only has a growing season of six to eight weeks.  There are some 250 specie more than one occasion I have stood shivering in the middle of summer clad in jacket and woolens – wind whipping around me – to ask myself,  “How can anything possibly survive this harsh environment?”
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The flora hugs the ground in dense mats to mitigate the severe mountain climate.  Close to the ground they were designed to survive harsh conditions including winds up to 200 mph, dry air, low soil moisture and fierce sunlight.  Incredibly, their rate of respiration and photosynthesis is much faster than a plant at lower elevation.  Even their colors are vibrant because pollination and growth need to happen quickly because their growing span is so short.  Each of these specific characteristics speak to me of intelligent design, a Creator.
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In Rocky Mountain National Park you find signs posted in this alpine zone warning one to stay on the trails in order to protect the alpine tundra.  The reason isn’t because these flowers are so very delicate that they are easily killed for they obviously can withstand the harsh climate far better than myself.  Signs are posted because of the heavy, concentrated foot travel the the Park sees every season and that concentration can harm them.

I am thankful for the lessons of the fragile land above the trees teaching me that hard things make one strong.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that word FRAGILE.

I’m feeling rather fragile these days.

My husband and I have decided the time has come to put our mountain home up for sale. For three weeks I have had a heavy, concentrated time of decluttering.  Anything that is heavy and concentrated  may run the risk of causing harm.

Contents of boxes that have not been opened in seventeen years have been sorted through.  Decisions have been made on what to keep, what to give away, what to toss.  I’m weary.  The rushing, the racing, the trying to get things done by a self-imposed deadline has done nothing other than cause brain-numbness.

Shouldn’t this sorting process of belongings that once defined my life be an enjoyable process?

I was in a hurry when I reached for a box in the storage room that caused another box  to come crashing down.  Five fragile angel figurines given to my daughter by her grandmother on every birthday for sixteen years instantly broke into small pieces the second they hit the cement floor, china pieces scattering in multitudes of directions.

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I sat on the floor and with tears in my eyes and remembered another time, twenty-six years earlier when in haste, while moving furniture the bed had knocked a shelf where my other daughter’s birthday figurines sat and they too were smashed.

This hurrying, this not being patient – have I not learned this lesson yet?

My patient husband carefully glued back together these fragile figurines after I handed the pieces to him in a box lid all jumbled together like a jigsaw puzzle and sadly asked, ‘Can you fix these?’

Can I only hear my life sing when I am still?  

Why am I in such a hurry?

I am thankful for the lesson of these fragile figurines,  broken because I was in a hurry acting like my life was an emergency.

Have you ever seen a fine, filmy cobweb on grass or bushes or floating in the air in calm weather  – gossamer?

Lace shawls are like gossamer.  They are very light, thin and delicate  giving the appearance of being very fragile.  I am knitting one right now with silk as fine as gossamer thread right now.

The knitting is slow, each stitch is very gingerly executed and with great care the beads are placed with a very tiny hook.  There are 900 beads in this shawl pattern. The silk yarn is as narrow as an embroidery floss.  My state of mind is much different knitting lace than it is when I knit other things.  I’m very, very careful.

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As fragile and delicate as lace appears there is something about it that may surprise you. Lace does not resemble lace as you know it until the very end when, after soaking to open up the fibers it is then stretched and pinned beyond what seems like the breaking point.  Only then, as it dries, does it open up and becomes beautiful gossamer ‘floating on air’.   Although the delicate thread looks like stretching would damage or destroy it, instead it creates a thing of beauty.

I am thankful for fragile hand knit lace shawls because I am learning as I stretch them beyond what I think they can bear so is adversity in my life.  It produces beauty in me if I turn toward it to see there is a purpose.

Adversity is the ‘pruning’ process by my God to cut away the things in my life that don’t produce fruit.  If I resist this pruning I become hard and bitter and consequently miss the fruit He is trying to develop in me.

What is fruit?  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

 

Procrastination

I remember many years ago, as a computer programmer, it was required that I had to turn in time estimates when working on projects.  As a team, all our estimates needed to be fairly accurate or we would jeopardize the critical time-frames of our teammates  and this would reflect poorly on the whole team.  Well, back then, I was pretty good at figuring out how long it would take to write and test a program but nowadays I stink at time estimates.

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I thought for sure that I could whip out the Knit Witch Shawl for Camp Loopy’s first camp project but I missed that goal by a long shot.  I was certain I could whip out a pair of socks for the Sock Stash Buster June Challenge but only yesterday cast on the second Embossed Leaves sock, and tomorrow begins the next month’s challenge.  But I believe the goal that I feel most defeated in is my Master Hand Knitting Level 2 course.

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Recently TKGA released a revision of Level Two and when I logged into my MHK2 Ravelry project page to reflect this I noticed that it had been exactly a year since I had purchased this level.  My original goal was to finish within a year and here I sit muddling my way through the first swatches on finishing techniques.  I don’t enjoy the finishing process so it is no wonder I am at a stalemate doing these initial swatches.

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I have been thinking a lot about procrastination this week.  I have been wondering why I procrastinate when the outcome of whatever I am procrastinating about will bring me joy when that task is completed.  It is a mystery to me.  For instance, I don’t like to sew seams when I finish a hand knit garment so I procrastinate on knitting and seaming those swatches. But, isn’t the whole reason these swatches are incorporated into the course in the first place is so that you will properly know what type of seaming to do for certain projects and how to do them?

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I procrastinate about planting flowers in my many outside flowerpots.  Wouldn’t I enjoy the beauty of those flowers immensely once they are potted?

Likewise, I procrastinate about cleaning out my refrigerator, in particular that spilled congealed stuff under the crisper.  I sigh every time I open the refrigerator. Wouldn’t the deep sighing stop if I would stop procrastinating and get it cleaned out?  Wouldn’t I have a smile on my dial instead?

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I have been procrastinating about entering my receipts into Quicken for well over a week and they are overflowing from my purse.  Every time I stuff another receipt into my purse I groan, especially if I have to bend down and pick up one that shot out of my purse.  Wouldn’t I have more JOY if I just did it and balanced the check book?  Afterall, I always like reconciling that last entry, clicking the button and seeing everything zero out.

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JOY.  There is that word again that keeps cropping up in my life!  And the truth of the matter is this – Procrastination is a JOY-stealer and it downright makes you tired.  I made a procrastination list this afternoon whist sitting at the allergist and THIS WEEK will start getting those JOY-stealers finished and crossed off the list.  What about you?  Do you have things you procrastinate about?  Make a list and tell a friend.  I have a friend who knows my list and is going to keep me honest.

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A joyful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

But Baby It’s Cold Out There

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My snow boots are sitting out and ready. Although they look warm I am not confident that even at nine degrees they will do the trick keeping my toes warm. I don’t plan on trying them out if I can help it.  Snow this morning transitioning to snow showers this afternoon.  Very cold.  Very, very, cold indeed.  The pine needles are frozen stiff and caked with snow and the trees remind me of a scene from the Chronicles of Narnia.

Perhaps my mind drifts to Narnia on this snowy morn because I have been pondering something C. S. Lewis said about Advent.  When the world outside is frigid with cold I often pull into myself and meditate on things.  It is as if the blanket of white dulls my eye from distractions without but sharpens my senses to turn within.  It is in these moments that there is no draw from worldly things.

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When the year dies in preparation for the birth

Of other seasons, not the same, on the same earth,

Then saving and calamity go together make

The Advent gospel, telling how the heart will break.

Therefore it was in Advent that the Quest began.

C. S. Lewis

IMG_8813Time doesn’t seem to matter on snowy homebound days.  The treacherous roads prevent me from leaving my home.  The steady ticking of the clock doesn’t urge me to hurry because there is no where I can go, there is no rush.  Instead, its steady rhythm pulls me in further to meditating  four Advent readings I have read since Sunday.  Yes, the Quest has begun.  Each year through the celebration of Advent I unwrap the greatest gift.

IMG_8848This morning I meditate on the first question God asked in the Old Testament.  He asked it when the cool evening breezes were blowing and there was no Adam to walk beside Him in communion.  He asked it, not because He did not know where Adam was, but because He wanted Adam to think about where he(Adam) was in his life, where he was in his relationship to the One who had created Him.  God reaching for man.

I’ve thought about the numerous times I have fallen and scraped my heart raw – and God reached for me.  In my Advent Devotion I was reminded of the times when I felt the shame ‘of words that have snaked off my tongue and poisoned the corners of my life.’  He calls and asks me where I am and He never refuses to give up on me.  He reaches for me time and time again.

Your God looks for you when you’re feeling lost, and you God seeks you out when you’re down, and your God calls for you when you feel cast aside.  He doesn’t run down the rebel.  He doesn’t strike down the sinner.  He doesn’t flog the failure. ~ Ann Voskamp.

My God holds and enfolds me no matter what each season brings.  Spurgeon says of God that He comes, ‘to find you wherever you may be.  I will look for you till the eyes of My pity see you.  I will follow you till the hands of My mercy reach you, and I will still hold you … to My heart.”

This is a love story and in this Advent season I will unwrap the full love story of Christmas.  My devotional this year is called The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the full love story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp.

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As I read I am warmly wrapped in my newly finished Girasole Pi Shawl.  It took a while to knit this and I am very happy to be finished.  It just needs a blocking so I won’t show a frontal picture – but soon I will after it is blocked on a queen size bed.  It’s big this shawl.

Joy Dare ~ Week 15

Have you ever experienced being the butt of cruel mockery?  Being a shy and quiet girl in my childhood, I think I slipped through the years unnoticed for I never was treated with cruelty.  I did observe others being treated so but never witnessed the degree of bullying that takes place today.

Have you ever observed a judge sentencing someone to death?  A solemn silence pervades the courtroom as the sentence is read.  Everyone is quiet and there is a profound awareness of the majesty of the law.  Often the one to whom the sentence is read collapses and audible cries are heard in the room, no matter how heinous the crime.  A judge has an awesome responsibility and his/her duties weigh heavy upon him.  After passing a sentence, especially one of death, you would hardly expect the judge to turn to revelry or frivolity immediately thereafter.  Wouldn’t it seem sinister if they did so?  Somehow disgraceful?

Scarcely had Israel’s judges condemned Christ to death for blasphemy when a monstrous scene unfolded in the High Priest’s courtyard. They viciously abused their prisoner.  Christ became the butt of mockery to the cruelest degree.  The religious leaders spat in his face, struck him repeatedly.  He was so disfigured by their abuse that he no longer resembled anything human. They blindfolded him and danced around him.  They continued to rain blows upon him and ordered him to tell them who struck him.

A knitting friend mentioned to me that an alumni from a local college produced the new film coming out about bullying.  My thoughts went to Christ who suffered the worst kind of bullying. He stood unflinchingly.  He left himself to the mercy of his tormentors, he being the one who by a word could have destroyed them.

‘When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly’ (1 Peter 2:23)

So suffered our divine Substitute.  With His stripes we are healed.


ONE THOUSAND GIFTS 
in 2012, continuing the Joy Dare and finding great strength and unsurpassed joy in the process –

209. Round Robin eggs. A nest set out to always remind me of EUCHARISTEO.

210. Round apples. Thankful for the health benefits on eating one a day.

211. Round spice jars. Thankful for herbs and spices that make our food more pleasurable.

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212. A white dog with snow on her nose looking out on a white snow blanketed front yard. So thankful for precipitation!

213. A white cross bookmark reminding me to pray for the friend who crocheted it.

214. White Celtic Knot alphabet charts used to plan a project I am excited about. Thankful to have found just what I was looking for!

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215. A gift at 11AM – a friend showing me how to count bars between rows and giving tips on a new sock architecture.
216. A gift at 2PM – a phone call from an beloved friend in another state, a pleasant and timely surprise.
217. A gift at 6PM – bulgur wheat tabbouleh when my errands took longer than expected.

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218. Grandchildren, a crown of glory. On my way to meet K++, heart filled with joy and thanksgiving.

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219. Remembering that it was I who nailed Him to the tree. I crucified Him. This is a hard eucharisteo.

220. Pondering Luther’s words, “He died for me; he made his righteousness mine and made my sin his own; and if he made my sin his own, then I do not have it and I am free.” What joy!

221. ‘It was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief…’ (Isaiah 53:10)

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Three Gifts Waited For
222. Her wee fingers wrapped around mine.
223. My sweetie holding his grandchild twenty-nine years later.
224. My two girls together with heads touching and big smiles.

3 GIFTS BUDDING/BLOOMING
225. Pussy willows budding on aspen trees promising that quaking leaves will soon arrive.
226. Smile on granddaughter’s face which will bloom into many others.
227. Budding family traditions of their own on a first Easter

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THREE GIFTS BRIGHT
228. Bright orange colored pencil marking off time in the Word.

229. Bright Post-Its marking my place on a complicated knitting chart – what a great invention!

230. The bright word ‘Illuminated’ on the spine of a new book. I am very excited to brush up on calligraphy and ‘illuminate’ a few of my favorite verses.

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231. For six inches of fresh snow, springtime in the Rockies.
232. For Jesus Calling, a book offering comfort to my parents in the midst of a difficult trial.  Romans 8:28
233. For rattles on K++ and watching her move her hands and feet to make noise.
234. Looking up verses on a Saturday morning with friends, hard verses – truth seeping in transforming my heart.

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Joining with many others today in thanksgiving ………..

Joy Dare: Week 13

Unwavering thanks? Thirteen weeks into the Joy Dare I am no longer seeing this opportunity of remembering and giving thanks as simply a daily task of spiritual discipline. Now I see it as an essential fabric of my being. This discovery was made during the past week when I skipped a couple days because life got ‘too busy’ and I forgot to slow down and e-u-c-h-a-r-i-s-t-e-o. I quickly digressed to spiritual sluggishness, me-centeredness and was not altogether kind towards my husband. When I slowed down enough to see what was going on I realized that, regardless of how busy life becomes I can never let my thanksgiving waver. Each day I must take deep breaths of e-u-c-h-a-r-i-s-t-e-o.

Gifts #189-208 20120402-114412.jpg Almost gone – birdseed for all the little birdies stopping by for snacks, so thankful for their visits.

Almost gone – snow in the shade of trees, thankful spring is approaching.

Almost gone – my bronchitis,  thankful-so very, very thankful.

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 A song, Mercies Anew, budding the inspiration for a topic to teach on.

Words written by Spurgeon about the woman who asked for the crumbs beneath the table – the crumbs were enough because she understood who He was and had unwavering faith. More clarity for teaching.

A painting of that woman giving full birth to the theme and the study’s introduction.

20120402-114916.jpgThankful He, the Savior-Redeemer, stood silent in the presence of His accusers.

Thankful that God does not unfold His mysteries to the wicked, including Caiaphas.  The crucifixion would not be a circus show.

Thankful for that blessed silence as he stood being falsely accused, that silence lay at the heart of our redemption!

Thankful that the Redeemer, when under oath, proclaimed who He was.

20120402-115418.jpgEntwined – yarn fluid through gifted fingers giving way to products of beauty.

Entwined – my husband’s fingers in mine, still reaching for my hand every time we pray, 29 years of fingers being entwined.

Entwined – a mother’s heart entwined to her child’s heart throughout a lifetime.


A gift heard – Being reminded in a sermon of Lois, the grandmother of Timothy who taught him truth; hearing other supporting verses showing the importance of godly grandparents.

Holding the ‘crown of thorns’ from the Remembrance Table in my hands, being aware of its thorns, placing it with care in a box for storing all the while remembering the One who wore it for me.

Hoped for ….. His imminent return.

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His promise. That those who die in the Lord “sleep in Jesus” until the fulness of time shall bring the fulness of redemption – remembering & giving thanks for a grandmother that spoke to me of God. ( 1 Thessalonians 4:14)

His promise. That when I am anxious and turn to Him through prayer, supplication and with THANKSGIVING the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard my heart and my mind. (Philippians 4:6-7)

His promise. That when I am weary He will give me rest. (Matthew 11:28-29)

His promise. That He supplies my every need. (Philippians 4:19)

His promise. That if I have faith nothing will be impossible. (Matthew 17:20)