Saturday, April 22, 2017

Joyful

It is difficult to not be joyful when knitting toys.
It can start with a bunny for a baby...

...continue with a puppy and a kitty for the daughters of dear friends!

Finally, a white rabbit, suitable for even Alice!

Even when life doesn't go as I have planned, there is joy. Even when I am unhappy, there is joy. Even when I feel overwhelmed by my circumstances and underwhelmed by my endurance, there is always joy. Joy in the skills gifted especially to me by my heavenly Father, when He created me in his own image. Joy in the acceptance of Jesus as my Savior, whose gift of life I will never deserve. Joy in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who calms my soul with a peace that passes understanding.

My life is not perfect. I am not perfect, though I would like to be. And still, I find joy in the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I find joy in the love of family and friends, and I find joy in being but a small part of this creation. I even find joy in my shortcomings and failures, in the times I must lean heavily on the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is great joy in leaning back into those loving arms, relying fully on them to hold me up, when I cannot hold myself together.

Happiness is fleeting, but joy is ever present if you know where to look. I hope that you are finding joy in your life, even in the midst of your struggles. If you are not, maybe it's time to look in a new direction. Open your eyes, and your heart, and the joy will come.

Thanks for stopping by on this joyful day, and Knit in Good Health!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

No Peter Cottontail here...

Just Penelope Cottontail...

Happy Easter to all of my peeps!

Thanks for stopping by, and knit in good health!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Life Without Parole

As of April 3rd, life without parole (plus 6 years) is my brother-in-law’s final sentence. It is good to finally have some closure. There was no funeral, no memorial service, no family gathering for the burial of their ashes…no closure. I blogged, and I did some other things that I thought might help, and they did, but nothing really brought the closure I craved.

This is where I remind you that a funeral is not about one person who died, or one survivor. Memorial services, funerals and celebrations of life are designed to help people absorb the reality and finality of death. Sure, they are full of emotion...tears, and sometimes laughter, as friends and family gather to remember the good times and comfort one another...and the emotion can be overwhelming. But please don’t tell your family that you don’t want a funeral, either for yourself or for a loved one. Skipping the service can deprive loved ones of much needed closure.

Sweetie and I tried to find some closure as we sat vigil with his mom and dad, and the whole family, when it first happened, last February. We did not talk about them much, and we did not talk about him much…but we did grieve together in those first days and weeks. It helped, but it is difficult to find closure without words.

I knit covers for the containers of ashes, at my mother-in-law’s request, and had planned to see them again before they were buried. I still have some silk flowers and ribbons that were supposed to adorn them whenever we finally gathered to say our final good-bye to Randy and Cindy. While that gathering never materialized, although the unadorned ashes were buried, it helped me to knit the covers in remembrance of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.

I made ornaments from bottle caps and photos to hang from rear-view mirrors, and I gave them to family and friends. Every time I get in my car, I see their faces and remember that they are forever gone, and far too soon. The teardrop crystal on each one sends sunlight dancing through the car while their memories are free to dance in our minds.

I prayed, and I cried. I cried out to God because it was such a cruel fate that it did not seem real. How could this be real? Some of my prayers and tears were silent, and some were definitely not. I cried out to the Lord to show me why, but he did not. Perhaps there is some good to come from this. I cannot know…I can only guess, and I have tried, but I will likely never know for sure. Still, it helps to talk it through and try to figure out what comes next.

What comes next for my brother-in-law is a life behind bars. He decided that killing his sister and brother was the answer to his “lifelong of headache” and heartache, and those two shots have cost him dearly. Life for those left behind is also forever changed, and we have spent the last thirteen months wondering what comes next for us and for him. On April 3, 2017 his sentence was handed down by the judge, and I finally felt  some closure. I left the courtroom with Sweetie, with her sons and husband, with assorted family and friends, and I felt a huge sigh of relief. We embraced, but did not cry or celebrate. Still, in the judge’s words, there was closure. We know what comes next, and justice has been served.

What comes next for Pretty? More knitting, more praying and probably more crying. Grief is a funny thing, yet it is not funny at all. Memories make me laugh, and make me cry. Remembering what happened makes me angry and confused. Grief is, at times, all consuming. At other times it seems that I have come through to the other side, usually just before a memory hits, and then the process starts anew. There is no time limit on grief. This grief will always be a part of me, of us, of everyone left behind. We will make new memories, and we will find joy where we can, but the grief is now a part of who we are.

If you have lost a loved one, please allow yourself to feel the grief, and give yourself time to find out what comes next. If you are not sure about what comes next for YOU when you leave this world, shoot me an email. I'd love to talk to you about an eternity in heaven!

And as long as we are still here, thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

No Foolin'!

They say it's my birthday! Happy birthday to me! 

No foolin', it IS my birthday. It is not a milestone year, but it is the celebration of another year, and I have much to be thankful for. For instance, when I asked Sweetie if there were any plans for Saturday, his answer was, "Well, I was going to take you yarn shopping..." What a guy! It has been a rough year, or two, or three...and there were a couple of times that I doubted him...and us. But here we are, and it is good. I am so thankful that we stuck it out...again. (PS - Maybe I should rethink the yarn shopping? Nope...there is no such thing as too much yarn, right?)

I am also thankful to have a lovely group of ladies I can let my hair down with. Some are knitters, some are church friends, and some go all the way back to my school days! I am a firm believer in the power of community, and the friends that surround me are the best kind of community...reserving judgement and offering sympathetic ears at just the right time. They celebrate and commiserate with me, and they are not afraid to get a little silly every so often...or more often than not!

I am thankful to live in an age of technology that lets me keep in touch with family and friends in real time, with and without video! Facebook, Ravelry, Facetime and Skype keep me connected in ways I never could have imagined 30 years ago. I can actually see where Peanut lost that tooth...I can see and hear the meltdown when Sweet Pea shouts "My talk!" and grabs the phone...I can say happy birthday to someone far away, and share a photo of cake...I can sympathize with one friend and celebrate with another...I can keep in touch with my cousins, my first childhood friends...I can even pray "in person" with a good friend without either of us leaving the house! 

Knitting is something I am more thankful for every time I have to take a significant break from it...like if I break a bone (or three) in my hand! The fidgets get to me when I cannot knit, and playing with yarn keeps me centered. It is so much more than making...knitting time is prayer time for the person I am making for; working stitches helps me work through difficult decisions; stitching things together pairs well with deep thought, contemplation and even meditation. Yes, knitting centers me. Knitting is a priority, because I spend my knitting time prioritizing so many other things.

My highest priority, and the one thing I am most thankful for, is my relationship with God through Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6), and knowing Him has changed my life. I still have trouble and struggle daily with all kinds of things. But I do not question this: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and he is my Lord and Savior. I am thankful that he came as a baby, grew into a Teacher, and finally gave His own life for mine.

I am thankful that I will not get what I deserve at the end of this lifetime, because Jesus died, was buried, and on the third day rose again (1 Cor 15:4). Because he died that death, I will not get what I deserve. My own sinful nature dictates that I deserve an eternity separated from God. But along with Jesus, my sin also died on the cross, so that I may look forward to an eternity with God. That's a pretty sweet deal, and I am excited to celebrate Easter again this year, just a couple of weeks after my birthday!

For me, Easter is more than bunnies and eggs (although I also celebrate with both of those...and candy).

I am thankful that I can celebrate another year of my life, and another Easter. You'll likely find me shopping for yarn and knitting today, and maybe heading out with Sweetie for a celebratory meal. How will you spend April Fools' Day? I hope you will find something to be thankful for today, and every day!

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!