15 December, 2014

Joy

Yesterday was the third Sunday in Advent; "joy" is our Advent word of the week. The children of the congregation presented "The Signs of Christmas", a pageant, during the Sunday School hour. The final scene wasn't really that for these grandparents; I captured yet another mini-drama, an unscripted one, that unfolded at the very end, it is documented above. 
The joy of the season is reflected in the children. 
Life is Good!

13 December, 2014

Four Words...

... that strike fear; straight to my heart: "can you hem these"? Sigh. Of course, I say "yes".  And yet, as far as I am concerned, these four words compose the scariest question I know. "Why?" you may ask. They are men's dress slacks, and they're cuffed. That seems like reason enough. A few weeks back my son and his family were here after church, that's when the fear-inspiring question was posed. My son stood on an elevated surface and I pinned the hems to the proper length... and hung them in the closet... where they remained... until yesterday. I took them out, picked up the scissors, drew a deep breath, and set the scissors back down. I repeated this three times. Then, I took an even deeper breath and went to work. They were done, to pinned specifications, in less than an hour. I delivered them to my daughter-in-law yesterday afternoon. I pray they're okay, please join me in that prayer. Again, you may wonder why this is such a daunting task; that fact that they're cuffed dress slacks might not be enough of an explanation for you. Yes, there's another reason: way back when, maybe 25 years ago, I set to work hemming a pair of dress slacks for my son. I pinned one leg, I cut it off, I hemmed it, and did it again... unfortuntely to the same leg! Yep, it's true. Now you know. I guarantee that did not happen this time!

Life is Good!

This week's Advent word is love...this post may seem unrelated; it's not, I love my son.

12 December, 2014

Loving Hearts and Hands

Our church's Quilt Ministry gathered here yesterday for the fourteenth time to celebrate with food and fellowship at Christmastime, all served up over piping hot tea. Four of us pictured above have been a part of the group from the beginning. I was able to share history and some fun facts about the Quilt Ministry with everyone before we ate yesterday, having recently found the original sign-in sheet that included an early summary of the group's accomplishments.  Our Quilt Ministry began meeting on January 25, 2001, the average attendance back then was between 9 and 10. By April of that year we had completed, and gifted, eleven quilts; at that time we worked where we could find the space and begged for, borrowed and/or shared storage area for our (then) meager supplies. Fast forward to now: the average attendance is about the same, and these ladies with their loving hearts and hands have completed somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 quilts! We now have a dedicated work space and two large closets (holding a treasure trove of donated supplies) from which we operate on a weekly basis. Some of the names and faces may have changed throughout the years, we mourn the loss of a few dear friends and warmly welcome new ones; through it all the mission and purpose has remained the same: to make and give away quilts that will warm bodies and souls. At Christmastime we pause, reflect and give thanks; we're carrying on a tradition...oh, and we drink tea!
Life is Good!

09 December, 2014

Nothin' Says Lovin'...

... like something from the oven  sewing machine!

As soon as the last morsel of Thanksgiving pies were gone I began making pies again! First, I made a strawberry pie, (my favorite all-time dessert) it was my prototype. There's good news about this type of pie; it won't add one single ounce, it's a hot pad!  During our cross country quilt shop hop  this past summer I discovered this pattern (click here) at Jackman's in St. Louis; I knew immediately it would be perfect for Christmas gift giving.  Isn't it just the cutest thing? I found plenty of dough-colored rick rack there and stocked up on it, expressly for this purpose. I was lucky enough to find some varied fruit fillings too. These hot pads will protect hands and tabletops; they're made with both one layer of batting and a layer of Insulbrite heat-resistant lining material.
Four more pies in the construction stage, two mixed berry and two blueberry; lattice is woven and ready to stitch down before trimming into a 9" circle. I machine stitched a greeting to the bottom of each pie "tin" before layering them together and binding the edges.  The fluted "crust" is added as the final step and hand tacked into place.
Five pies, stacked and ready to go. The best part? No need to even preheat that oven!
Life is Good!


08 December, 2014

Give It Away!

"Love in your heart wasn't put there to stay.  Love isn't love 'til you give it away."   - Oscar Hammerstein

Love; it's this weeks' Advent word. My husband and I walked into church yesterday morning to be greeted by a friend, she came right up to me with a sad look in her eye. "I have some bad news" she began, " it's really bad." I braced myself. She went on to tell us that our church's Parish Administrator had unexpectedly and suddenly died over the weekend. I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach, I certainly hadn't braced myself firmly enough to receive that tragic news! Phyllis, our efficient and always professional Parish Administrator could easily run our church office with one hand tied behind her back; she knew everything, every one, and kept it all straight. There was never any confusion as to where she stood or what was being handled, Phyllis was a straight shooter and a clear communicator. In every phone call, e-mail or face to face meeting that I had with her over the years I always came away feeling confident and reassured that whatever business we had spoken about was being tended to, and well. We became friends as time passed and we both became grandmothers, often chatting about the joys of grandchildren; and yet, Phyllis was always the consummate professional when it came to the church office. Late this past spring she was plagued with back pain and time after time had to postpone treatment because of some chronic breathing and pulmonary issues. At long last, about three weeks ago, she was deemed healthy enough to undergo back surgery and she came through that procedure with flying colors. Last Thursday I checked on her and learned that she had a Dr.'s appointment that afternoon and was doing fine. Her last Facebook status update, dated November 28, confirmed her now pain-free state and her desire to get back to work as soon as possible.

How was the news that I had just heard even possible? 

I sat in the sanctuary yesterday morning and tried to remember the last time I had seen Phyllis and spoken with her. All of a sudden the moment came flooding back, as clear as could be. We were standing in the hall outside the church offices, she was hurting and had come in to tend to busisness for as long as she could that day; she was eagerly looking forward to getting her surgery behind her. I told her that I would be praying for her. She started to walk away, turned back toward me and said "I love you." I echoed that sentiment right back to her, extremely uncharacteristic behavior; and yet, in that time and space it didn't seem unusual at all. I walked away feeling God's presence between us and surrounding us. I knew that she was going to be okay. This exchange haunted me yesterday, but in a very good way. I am so deeply thankful now that I expressed those words of love, I had no way of knowing then that they would be the very last words we'd ever speak to each other.

So, back to our Advent word of the week: love; don't hold it too tight. Remember the rhyme by Hammerstein, live it; your heart can't possibly hold onto all the love that you have. By all means... give it away; you will be so glad that you did!
Life is Good!

07 December, 2014

Love

We love because He first loved us - 1 John 4:19
Life is Good!

06 December, 2014

Time

 I believe that "time" might be the word I hear most right now:  "I don't have time, I'm running out of time, where has the time gone?"... you've heard it too. This clock hangs on the wall in my sewing room, it's a replica of a Swiss railroad clock, a souvenir of our days living in Geneva years ago.  As you might imagine, being that it is a Swiss timepiece, it keeps perfect time. During this Advent period, the weeks of preparation and waiting before Christmas, how do you mark time? Rather than get out all the decorations at once we prefer to stretch it out and focus on one item at a time: the window candles one day, the tree on another, tomorrow I will be hanging our garlands. This morning our grandson helped me to put out our cherished nativity. Together we unwrapped each figure and Gregory identified it and placed it in the stable; he was deliberate in his actions to see that every figure and animal were securely under the roof, even as it became more and more crowded. "Why?" I asked. "Because it can rain in Bethlehem" was his simple and logical response. We couldn't fit the camel underneath, but being covered with a towel satisfied his desire to keep everyone dry and comfortable..."just in case it rains"! I doubt that I will ever forget the sweet time spent together with Gregory this morning when I place this nativity scene in the years to come. How are you spending your time in preparation? Even though time seemingly flies, try and make the time to slow down and really examine the gifts that surround you today; I guarantee it may just be the best time you'll spend in these hurried and hectic days of preparation. This is the time that God has given to us: gifted time; more perfect than any Swiss clock could ever measure!
Life is Good!