Saturday, October 22, 2022

My Tree

When I was growing up, we moved a lot.

(A. Lot.) 

(Proud Military Brat right here, oh yeah.)

Anyway, no matter where we lived, I always managed to find My Tree. It was a place I could go for refuge; place to find quiet; a spot to read and dream. 
Of course, The Tree of My Heart will always be the banyan tree next to my old house in Hawaii.
When I moved here to Illinois, I thought I was past the age of needing a tree.


But something I'm learning, the older I get, is that the little girl can always be found in the woman. I was so delighted a few years ago when my best friend Charlie brought me to a place nearby where I finally found My Illinois Tree.
It's a place where I can find refuge, quiet, and the healing that Nature brings.
True, it's a little bit different than the trees of my youth, but I'm still thrilled that I was able to find a tree to climb.

Friday, April 8, 2022

The Big Picture

 I'm currently doing a Bible study with some of the ladies in my church. It's called, God Does His Best Work with Empty by Nancy Guthrie.

Today, for part of the reading, the study guide directed me to read through the book of Ruth, paying careful attention to the theme of loss and emptiness. If you're familiar with the story of Ruth, then you'll know that it begins with Naomi, who, because of a famine in Judah, travels to the country of Moab with her husband. They settle there, and she has two boys, who grow up and then marry two women from Moab. In the course of things, Naomi's husband dies, and then later her two sons.

In that culture, to lose the men of your family would have been devastating. Aside from the personal grief of losing your closest relatives, a woman without the "protection of a man" was in an extremely vulnerable position. I can't imagine the fear and grief that must have consumed Naomi. That poor woman.

Upon hearing that things have gotten better in Judah, she decides to pack up and go back to her hometown. Both her daughter's-in-law offer to go with her, which is telling. Naomi must have been a remarkable woman for these two young widows to offer to uproot themselves to go to a foreign land with their mother-in-law. Totally not the typical relationship trope of daughters-in-law to mother-in-law!

Naomi tries to convince the two women to return to their family homes, and eventually, one of them agrees. Ruth, however, refuses to go, citing one of the most beautiful passages in Scripture:

"Entreat me not to leave you, 
Or to turn back from following after you.
For wherever you go, I will go:
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people will be my people, 
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die, 
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me."

Naomi, now accompanied by Ruth, finally reaches her hometown in Judah, which creates quite a stir (it must have been a somewhat small town, or else Naomi's family must have been well-to-do). When questioned about her life since leaving Judah, Naomi says, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me."

This is the part that struck me this morning. In her moment, at that moment, Naomi was overcome with grief and loss. How adrift and destitute she must have felt! How humiliated, to have left as a young married woman, and then to have to return as an old widow with only a foreign daughter-in-law to show for all her efforts!

It's only natural that she should see her circumstances as "the Almighty dealing very bitterly with me." In one way, she was absolutely right - it was the Almighty's doing, and in that moment, His doing was hard to bear.

- And yet.

- And yet, He did not leave Naomi without comfort. At that moment, Naomi wasn't fully seeing the value of Ruth, who was standing right next to Naomi. She only saw her moment, which, let's be honest, was awful.

But that's not the whole picture. The bigger picture shows us the beauty of Naomi's story. How Ruth ends up marrying a wealthy man named Boaz, an honorable man who provides for Naomi for the rest of her life. Ruth and Boaz have a son, thereby giving Naomi a grandson to hold. As the book of Ruth ends, it says,

"And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David."

Wow. What a fabulous Big Picture. 

But of course, Naomi couldn't see that, especially in her moment of grief. In fact, she never even got to see the overall Big Picture of King David being her great-great-grandson.

And that's where faith comes in. It's faith that marries the belief in the Almighty's goodness with the reality of the Almighty's dealings.

In our culture, it's popular to say, "I have faith," or, "I'm a person of faith," as though it's an accessory to an outfit or an emblem to put on a hoodie. This sort of faith is cheap, like Rue21 jewelry that easily breaks or Walmart clothing that quickly fades. 

Big Picture Faith, however . . . 

Wow. That's something durable. It's priceless.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

A Bootiful Saturday

Wow, I completely forgot about this. I guess I uploaded these photos last October, and then never published them.

I think that's why I like blogging. It's a bit like scrapbooking, but more wordy. Since I inherited a good bit of my dad's "portugee" (i.e. gift of gab), blogging is more fun for me.
I took these photos during the Halloween trick-or-treating at downtown businesses. My Ella looks like an astronaut, but she declared that she was an "Amongus", whatever that is.

And here is my other daughter, who wants to be called by the nickname "Bee", instead of "Boo". Since both are cute, I'll try to humor her.

(No, that's not her costume. She always dresses like that. She's sixteen.)

A New Mantra

I knit during church. 

I realize this may sound sacrilegious, but it truly does help me pay better attention. Of all the voices that clamor in my brain, by far, the most persistent one is the List Maker. 

The List Maker loves to drone on and on about all the things that I have to do today. 

- "What should we make for lunch?"
- "We should just get pizza."
- "We should not get pizza, because we have plenty of food at home and that would be a waste. You just went grocery shopping."
- "Maybe we should go shopping."
- "We should not go shopping because then you'll look at clothes, and we have enough clothes."
- "We should Marie Kondo our clothes."

Ad infinitum
It's like having the love child of Gollum and Martha Stewart constantly whispering in my head. 

Anyway, I knit during church.

Or, at least, I used to. I don't do it so much anymore. Not because the voices in my head are quieter (I wish!), but because I'm finding it a bittersweet experience.

My muscular dystrophy has begun affecting my hands. (There are muscles in my hands also, surprise surprise.) If I knit for any length of time, I won't have the strength in them to play violin or piano for the rest of the day, maybe for the next day as well.

And yet, as I knit stitch after stitch, and feel the distinct pleasure of the soft yarn running through my fingers, it's hard to put it down. The continuity of the thing, the repetition, is soothing. For all the complex designs that can be created through knitting, at its basic element there are only two stitches, knit and purl. They are the binary code of a knitter's program; the quiet, physical rhythm of my psyche. For 18 years, it has been my life's mantra. 

And oh, how it hurts.

I'm not talking about the painful after-affect on my hand muscles; I mean the longing for what was. It's so hard to look at the beautiful skeins of colorful, twisted fibers that lie waiting to be made into something precious, knowing that they will most likely continue to wait forever. That I may never be able to see the finished work that I had envisioned when I first purchased that yarn. 

So now, when I knit, I cherish each stitch in a way that I took for granted before; the smooth feel of the needles expertly sliding into the millimeter of space created from a stitch knitted awhile before, followed by the glow of satisfaction for every successful loop retrieved from a straight line of yarn. There is an incongruity in expecting something as low-friction as a metal needle to be able to snatch strands of fiber, and yet, it can happen.

I'm going to hang onto that hope. Even as I slowly lose something that has been a continuous part of my life for such a long time, I'm going to try to snatch at joy, no matter how incongruous that chance may seem. Just as with a knit stitch, I might occasionally drop the yarn, or it might slip off my needle. But that's the great thing about creating something, right? If I go back and try again, eventually, I'll succeed.

So for now, as long as I can, I'll knit during church, and pray in hope that a new hobby is waiting for me.

The voices in my head agree. (They're also reminding me that I need to go fold laundry.)

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Navigating Chicago

One of the interesting things I've noticed about my decreased mobility is also a corresponding increase in anxiety, especially with new situations where I'm not sure I'll be able to get around.

Thanks to a new power chair, I'm finding it easier to get out and do things. However, just because it's easier to get out doesn't mean that my nervousness with dealing with new situations has gone away. In an effort to challenge myself, I'm trying to push myself to try new things, or perhaps, try things that I would have done before, but now I have to do them in a new way.

That being said, it's still not as "easy" as before. A power chair has to be loaded onto my small attached trailer, hopefully no one will clip the back of the trailer, hopefully the weather will be good, hopefully I'll be able to find handicap parking, hopefully I'll be able to get the wheelchair off by myself, etc etc etc. . .  Then factor into all that the natural anxiousness accompanied by a drive into downtown Chicago, and you'll have a good idea of how much bravery it took.

But I did it!

Not only did it get to see a friend that I haven't seen in 15 years, I also got to spend the evening with my brother and sister-in-law, which is always a treat, and not just because they make excellent food 😁.

I guess just like anything scary, once you've done it, the next time it's a just a little less scary. Here's to another adventure under the belt and hopefully more to come!


Monday, October 25, 2021

So Good to Sew Again

 It's been a while since I've blogged anything. I guess I haven't been in the mood to share.

Another thing I haven't done in a while is do any sewing. In the past, knitting was my preferred hobby because it was more portable. However, the other day I happened to be at Jo-Ann fabrics and the sewing bug hit, haha.

This also coincided with a recently canceled order from Zulily. (As in, I put lots of adorable outfits in my shopping cart, and then Reason/Economy stepped in and made me dump them all back out again.) So, in that dangerous state of mind hovering between self-satisfaction from having saved myself about $100 and a tinge of sadness that I hadn't splurged $100, I stepped into JoAnn's.

Isn't this fabric pretty? 

I was talking to a friend recently, and she reminded me of when we were kids and her Home Ec Guru mother was horrified that I preferred to sew without patterns. (I can sew with a pattern, but I usually can't be bothered. Too time-consuming). 

Anyway, I guess-timated, and purchased 2 yards of fabric, which was just about the right amount for a cute skirt for my youngest. 

She's nine, now, can you believe it!?

I love that my Viking sewing machine has a variable speed setting. It made me a little less anxious about letting Ella have the controls. She likes to sew like she does everything else . . . fast, fast, and faster. Still, she did a pretty good job.

To finish the ensemble, I took one of her solid-colored, long-sleeved tees and appliqued a heart onto the front with some leftover scrap fabric.

She likes it, I like it, and best yet, I got three outfits for under $20, and we got to spend time together making something even more special than clothes - memories.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Field Day

We are so lucky to have so many great opportunities in our area for homeschoolers.  For instance, every summer a friend of mine organizes a Field Day for the homeschoolers, which is a rather large undertaking considering the number and varied ages of kids who attend!

This year, Peter and Gabe were not able to attend, but don't feel too badly for them because they were down in the Sunny South being spoiled rotten by their grandparents.

Ella, however, more than made up for their lack by being incredibly enthusiastic about, well, everything, ha ha!

Poor little thing.  I knew it was going to be hot and humid, so I dressed her accordingly. However, I unfortunately did not think to check if she was wearing appropriate undergarments.  Somehow she had put on her older sister's underwear, and every time she ran they started to slip down to her ankles.  It was so comical watching her run, curly hair and sparkler headband streaming in the wind, and one hand hiking up her errant undies!

 Bree also participated and did fairly well, but because I was in charge of watching Ella's group most of the day, I wasn't able to get many photos of her.  Plus, typical Bree, she tried squirming out of every picture I tried to capture of her!

Little Ella has her mother's speed, and didn't place in anything, but she was a trooper and never gave up, even though she was usually near the last of the pack.  She was completely and utterly thrilled to finally, finally get something that she can hang on the Wall of Awesomeness near her desk.  Never mind that it is a "only" participation award.

She earned it.