Saturday, November 18, 2017

Raining Cats and Dogs?

Today is keeping its promise to be a rainy day. You might even say that it has rained cats and dogs out there. Or you might not...but there are cats and a dog in my house, much to the dismay of the resident felines! You see, today the World's Okay-est Runner ran a half-marathon, and tomorrow her soon-to-be-husband will be running a full marathon (they are pretty impressive, no?)

so we have our grand-dog for the weekend! Isn't he a cutie?

Even the cats agree that he is cute! Well, in all honesty, that may be an exaggeration. There is one cat that we may not see again until the dog leaves. We know that she is still here, because we hear her constant growling and hissing from under the couch, under the beds and under the chair. She is not pleased. Not. Pleased. At. All. The older cat is a bit more tolerant. In fact, we had a moment of calm, cat-on-lap time this morning!

Then Alvin brought us his toy, and asked us to play...

She was not!

But she tolerated it...for a bit. I feel like that is just what I do, too. I tolerate it (whatever "it" happens to be in each moment) and do my best to get on with life. The real test of tolerance, however, is not how much I am able to tolerate before I run, hissing and spitting, to the ends of the earth. The real test is how I live my life right here, despite what is going on around me.

Do I set consistent boundaries with negative people, refusing to be pulled into their drama? Most of the time. Do I allow myself to be sucked into situations where I know I will be tempted to behave badly? Sometimes. Do I entertain the lies in my head...the ones telling me that I am not good enough, or smart enough, or happy enough? More times than I would like to admit.

Life seems to be always invading my space. Sometimes I dream of being able to do what I want, when I want, and with whom I want, forever. I remember thinking once that this would be one of the perks of being an adult. Life, however, counters with all the jobs that need to be done (paying gigs and other tasks), and people who need to be loved. How well do I tolerate that?

Most days I do pretty well. Other days, I need to remind myself that I am thankful...for everything. I am thankful that I have a warm home, clothes to wear and enough to eat. I am thankful to have a job, and a paycheck, and a sense of purpose. I am thankful to have friends, old and new, who love me and lift me up. I am thankful that I live in a place where my relationship with Jesus is legal and well-tolerated by others, even those who do not walk the same path (most of the time). Oh, and I am thankful for knitting, my meditative exercise of choice! (If only knitting burned more calories...!)

I think that I tolerate more, and I generally behave better, when I am thankful. Therefore I am constantly striving to make it my way of life. As Thanksgiving approaches, I am especially grateful that I also see thankfulness all around me. I just wish I could find a way to convey this to the cats!

If you are thankful for something, please share it in a comment below. I hope that your Thanksgiving celebrations, whatever they might be, find you counting more blessings than regrets this year.

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

I Am a Keeper

I am a keeper. I do not mean to say that I am so unique and special that I should be treasured (although I do believe that to be true as well), but rather that I like to keep things. To collect things. To amass collections that make my husband scratch his head in wonder. To  stash sometimes useless-looking items that make my kids sorry they will someday have to clean out my closets...and attic...and basement...and...well, you get the picture.

The upside to being a keeper is that I can usually come up with just the right item to finish a project, whether I am working on artsy-craftsy things, home improvements or special holiday decorations. Duct tape with Dorothy's slippers printed on it? I have that. 6 pair of scissors with different types of scalloped blades for scrapbooking? I have those. Googly eyes to glue on or sew on? I have both, in several sizes. Dowel rods, three kinds of glue, paper grocery bags to cut up for origami trees, polyfill stuffing for toys and pillows? I have all of this and more. This is without even considering the yarn...ohhhhh, the YARN!

Occasionally, I get a bee in my bonnet to clean and/or declutter an area, which actually happened a little earlier this week. I was getting ready to cast on a pair of socks, because I had a dentist appointment. (You all know by now that I cannot sit in a waiting room without knitting!) Well, my favorite sock-knitting bag had become a collection of odds and ends that made finding my yarn in there a little challenging, so I emptied it out next to me on the sofa. Among the dental floss, tiny balls of leftover sock yarn, stitch markers, row counters, chap stick, hand lotion, pens, coffee sleeves, paper clips and toothpaste (I had taken this bag to the dentist on many occasions), I found this:

Yes, it is a foot. This is my preferred method to "measure" people for sock knitting, and although this foot appears to be about my size, I noticed there was writing on it. The writing indicates that Randy wears a 10 1/2 shoe and Dean wears a 12. It also notes color preferences and that Randy would like "fuzzy bunny" slippers. I know that he was likely joking, but you know what I knit, right?

Right! And he would tell me, almost every time he talked to me after Christmas that year, that they were the softest, coziest slippers he had ever had. He even asked for another pair a few years later, because these had worn out from so much use. It was a nice memory, to be sure, but I really don't need to keep this "pattern" or the notes about the sizes of these brothers' feet anymore, so I did something that is starting to become more common for me. I took a picture, so I could share the story without feeling obligated to keep all of the things. 

As I was listening to my daily dose of audio-Bible this morning, I thought again about how this is just what God has done for us. The Bible is the divinely inspired recounting of the memories of what God has done for his people (that would be you and me), from the beginning of time. And no matter what kind of clutter there is in your life, there is something in the book for you. The words that I come back to again and again in my life are these: "I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears." (Ps 34:4) There are many others, but this one usually comes to the front of my brain first, and it comforts me. It is my own personal truth. He has already delivered me from so many fears, and although I know that I will have new fears (daily, sometimes hourly), I completely trust his promise to continue to deliver me. Even though I walk through the shadows of my cluttered life, I will fear no evil, for God is with me! (Ps 23, VERY loose paraphrase)

Mork and Dollface, when I am gone, there should be at least one tiny knitting bag that you will not need to sort through and clean out. I know you are thrilled about that! In the meantime, we can all hope that the next bee in my bonnet leads to the decluttering of a closet...or the attic...or the basement! Now, friends, on to the knitting!

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Three Black and Whites

When I get ready to blog each week, I first have a decision to make. Will I start with photos, or with a general idea? Usually I have an idea, and I always have a multitude of pictures and words to work with. Regarding those words, I am often convicted by a certain Bible verse which states, "Where words are many, sin is not absent." (Proverbs 10:19). I have many, many, many words, and I often struggle to not use them all in one sitting. But I know that there is likely no one out there prepared for that many words at the same time. Besides that, the more I talk, the more likely it is that I will say something silly...or sinful.

This past week has been no exception. There have been so many events and emotions that I could go on and on about how the world has wronged me. I could talk about the people who have offended me (intentionally or not), or I could lament the many opportunities I have missed. If I did that, however, I would most certainly sin by spreading gossip (intentionally or not), speaking harshly or saying something that would offend a friend or acquaintance. 

Therefore, I am choosing the photos today. No conflict...just coffee.

No catastrophe...just cat.

No yelling or yammering...just yarn.

And a sunrise reminder that God's mercies are new every morning because of his great faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Thank you to all of you doing the 7 black and white photos, no people, no explanations on social media. Even though I have only done 3 today (and one in color), your simple yet striking photos have inspired me to calm down, to be eager to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). This is a good thing for all of us to do!

Today I am taking the high road with my words. I am also asking God's forgiveness (again) for the times this week that I have used those words in ways that were neither constructive nor encouraging. I know that I have complained about situations and people, despite knowing that I've really got it pretty good overall. Thank you, Jesus, for the sacrifice you made that covers my sin. (John 3:16) I am made perfect only in you, in your timing, and not in this lifetime. While I am here, among the very people you love most, please keep watch over my mouth (and my blog) to keep me from sinning with my words. Amen!

I hope your words are encouraging this week, and that you also receive words of encouragement in return. Words are just one of many opportunities to love one another well (or not), so I will pray that we will all use them carefully.

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Joy and Grief

It has been a busy week. There has not been much knitting. There has been a bit, mostly brightly colored foot covers for little toes, and this is good. 

I have also had the chance to hang out with some friends that I have not seen in awhile. Some from the church I used to attend, a knitter who knows my heart, some new friends and an evening with my daughter (who has become a great friend!). There has been much joy in these relationships, and lots of opportunity to talk about what God is doing in my life...which is bringing back the joy.

One friend said to me, at dinner on Thursday, "Won't you be glad when 2017 is over?" You see, she knows my deepest woes, and I know some of hers. We have freely shared our struggles and joys, and we have openly spoken from the depths of our hearts. It is so good to have friends like this, with whom you can talk through the events of everyday life and also the big, hairy things - good or bad - that are happening in your world. These friends have mastered the art of laughing when you laugh, and mourning when you mourn, and sometimes just being still together. This is so good. 

I answered her question quickly, "No...I thought I would be glad when 2016 was over, and I thought I would be glad when 2015 was over, but at this point, I am just accepting that this life will be full of trouble." As I recall the evening, I realize that it probably goes back even a little further than that, and several of the big, hairy things have really knocked me down through these past few years. 

The thing is, as I struggled to just keep going through the hard stuff, I often beat myself up for not having pure joy when difficulties presented themselves. (James 1:2) I chastised myself, I have been chastising myself for experiencing grief. The losses of friendships, jobs, important people and family members have all occurred in the last couple years, along with some things so deep and personal that I will not blog them. There has been so much loss, and I have denied myself the grieving process, thinking that I should just get over it all and be joyful already. 

Last Saturday, with my knitting friend (and some new friends I met for the first time that day), I finally gave myself permission to keep the grief. The speaker at the ladies retreat we attended was enlisted to speak about Unlocking the Power of Friendship, and she was very good. Even though the theme was friendship, she gave a good insight on grief, and the fact that we all walk around with some grief every day. She gave us permission, and I felt like she specifically gave ME permission to accept that grief as a part of me. Not to dwell on the grief, but to accept that it may never go away, and to acknowledge that others will also come from a place of some grief in their lives. That grief will color our joy, but it will not prevent us from receiving great and pure joy, praise God!

The father of lies (John 8:44) has been telling me that I am not good enough. If I were, I would be getting rid of the grief, and I would have nothing but joy in my troubles. But then I look at Job, who lamented loud and long. He never did "curse God and die," as his wife suggested (Job 2:9), but he did cry out. And although he was again blessed with sons and daughters and livestock and wealth, his life was forever changed by the grief. I am sure that he did not just forget all that he had lost, but he let himself mourn, and then he allowed joy to grow while his grief diminished. 

Psalm 30:5 reminds us that "...weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning." I think weeping can last a lot longer than through the night, and day, and weeks, and months...but if we are looking for it, joy will come in the morning. It may take counseling, medication and fierce determination, but joy comes to those who seek it through their relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Weeping may come back from time to time, and grief will always be a part of who you are moving forward, but joy brings life...not just life at its bare minimum, but the full and abundant life that Jesus came and died to give us! (John 10:10)

On Friday night, Dollface and I went to see Waitress in downtown Cleveland, and it was a joy-filled evening! Dinner and a show was just the ticket to embracing joy yesterday, and I look forward to many more joy-filled moments and days, even though I still have grief in my life. 

I wish you great joy in your life, and I hope that you have some dear ones in your life to help you find that joy, even through your grief. 

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Heatlh!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

I Do Not Have a Problem

Somewhere along the knitting line, I got sucked into the stripey madness of Knit Picks Felici yarns. So, when I realized that there would be quite a bit of travel knitting time on our recent trip to see the kids, I hurried up and got myself some of the Punch Bug colorway to knit socks for the girls:

Mind you, I did not need new yarn. But this stuff is so soft, it is like the fur of the softest, stripey-est kittens when it is knit up, and the socks are tough and hold up very well to washing and wearing. Perfect for items that might end up in the dryer, or on little people... I started with this pair of socks for Peanut...

...and finished up with these little, shorty socks for a girl who sometimes fights mommy when it is time to put on socks and shoes!

Little socks are so much fun! Of course, big socks are fun too...and so are hats and scarves and sweaters and toys and...hmmm. My name is Pretty, and I knit. I knit quite a bit. In fact, every time I sit I knit! I was starting to wonder if if I have a problem, but I asked my knittahs, and they assured me that my knitting habit is completely fine. Whew! (Sweetie, on the other hand, thinks I have too much yarn... =^/)

If you also have a knitting habit, I would be happy to reassure you that you have everything under control...unless you truly do have a problem. If I should find that your yarn habit has become excessive, I will gladly take some of that stash off your know, just to help you. No, seriously, I want to help you...

Give Me Your Yarn! lol!

Thanks for stopping by, and for your support of my knitting habit. Knit in Good Health, and please drop off some pretty yarn at my house!