"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18.2

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Peeps. Yo.

Love it! From Beverly at http://www.flamingotoes.com/

That Beanie - she's feisty!

My mother, whose nickname is Beanie, will be 77 years old on Friday. Sixteen days ago she had a knee replacement. Two days ago she came home from rehab, already walking on her own with no cane or walker or anything. Her surgeon said she should a poster child for knee replacement. That Beanie - she's feisty!

I must admit with regret that I did not begin to truly appreciate my mom until I was in my thirties. As the oldest of three daughters, and being somewhat headstrong (ahem), ours had been a tumultuous relationship since I was in my teens. Then living through two teenage daughters of my own opened my eyes to how truly amazing my own mother was. Funny how that happens.

Have you ever had the good fortune to have a slice of a "twelve-layer chocolate cake"? Some folks might call it a torte, but here in the heart of North Carolina, it's called a twelve-layer chocolate cake. Understand: these layers are only about 1/4" thick, and there are 12 of them sandwiched with an incredible cooked chocolate frosting! At any potluck where her cake is present, from the moment it is cut into, you'd think it was a 99%-off sale at the Rolls-Royce dealership! There is a mad scramble to be one of the lucky few who actually get a slice of this decadent delicacy.

Like her mother before her, Mother has been making these cakes for years. If she hears that so-and-so wants one of her cakes for their upcoming birthday, then she makes one just for them. And she remembers their birthday next year, too. Some weeks she bakes maybe a dozen of these cakes, which is no small feat! That Beanie - she's feisty!

In addition to her amazing cakes, she's a great cook of all things yummy and lip-smacking, and regularly prepares food, even entire meals, for friends and other folks in the community when they're experiencing  troubled times.

And she sends cards! Dozens and dozens of cards a month! And I don't mean those 2 for $1 ones from the cheap-o discount stores - she loves her some Hallmark! For years she has kept a calendar of birthdays of nearly everyone she's ever met, and every year they each get a birthday card. She also sends many, many cards to encourage, to offer condolences, and to just say "hi, I'm thinking about you".  I regularly receive cards from her myself, and even though I live right next door, she always puts a stamp on them and sends them through the mail. That Beanie - she's feisty!

In addition to being kind and thoughtful, she's kinda wacky! They say that insanity is hereditary - you get it from your kids. I'm thinking that could be what happened. A ferocious housekeeper when I was growing up, she has mellowed quite a bit over the years. Grandchildren have been allowed to jump on the furniture, eat in her car, and all sorts of wild behavior I'm sure my sisters and I would have been skinned alive for ("skinned alive" - one of those quaint Southern expressions).

So, during her stay in the hospital and her subsequent time in the rehab center, Mother had a steady stream of visitors, phone calls and flowers. And not just old people, either. For one thing, everyone in this community knows her, and they love her. I think all those visitors, phone calls, cards, and flowers helped her have the determination to get back on her feet so quickly after surgery.

That, and the fact that she is NOT going to be housebound any longer than absolutely necessary. She is one "go"-ing woman! I'm thinking that being able to drive again may have been her chief motivator. Because you know - that Beanie, she's feisty!

In other news, I happened upon a blog called Flamingo Toes and found this fabulous starburst mirror. Be sure to visit Bev's blog for instructions to make one of your very own!

Here's wishing everyone a wonderful Wednesday!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Speaking From the Soapbox... Where's the Love?

Dear Abby,

I am a Christian, on staff in a Christian church, but I'm having trouble understanding the way some Christians think. Some make long and passionate speeches about forgiving one another but still wallow in bitterness over things that happened ages ago. Others say they want God to be the ruler of their lives, then they micro-manage everything to the point that God doesn't stand a chance in - well, you know. I’ve seen many leave church on Sunday morning and head to the nearest all-you-can-buffet where they are rude and impatient with the servers, then leave a $2 tip for a $40 check.

Some are intolerant of anything new or different. Any change in the order of service or style of music is heresy! And if we don’t go back to doing things the way we’ve always done it, then they’ll just take their tithes and go somewhere else.

Hmmm: 125 years ago travel was by horse, carriage or wagon, exposed to the elements. Today we have automobiles with climate control, satellite radio and heated seats. A hundred years ago, folks communicated by letter, telegram and face to face. Today we have cell phones, instant messaging and texting. A century ago they raised and sheared the sheep, spun the wool, wove the fabric and sewed the clothes; today we shop at supercenters. But heaven forbid we should update the music that's been sung for the last 100 years!

Conversely, there are those who view the hymns as antiquated and irrelevant. They cringe at the thought of singing “The Old Rugged Cross” or “Victory In Jesus”. And if we don’t make some big changes, then they’ll just take their tithes and go somewhere else.

More hmmm: Thousands attend contemporary Christian music concerts. And thousands attend Southern Gospel music events. And Country & Western, and classical music, and bluegrass, and soft rock, and hard rock - there is certainly a following for every type of music I can think of. To me this shows that no style of music - even the ones I don't like - is past its relevance or usefulness.

Honestly, I’m embarrassed sometimes to say I’m one of them. Sometimes I get so weary of the hassle; I think about quitting church, sleeping in on Sunday mornings and enjoying an honest-to-goodness day of rest. Please tell me, Dear Abby, what should I do?

Where’s the love?


Dear Where’s the love,

First, when you are weary, remember what the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 6:9-10 – Don’t let yourself become weary in doing good, for one day you’ll be able to see fruit from it, if you don’t give up! So, at every opportunity, be good and kind to everyone, especially to “them” – your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Then, stop focusing on “them” - keep your eyes on Jesus, because He will keep you in perfect peace if your mind is focused on Him (Isaiah26.3).

You cannot control what others think or do; you only have control over your own attitudes and actions. And remember that Jesus loved us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). And in John 13: 34 He commands us to “love one another, as I have loved you. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” So ask God to help you love “them” like Jesus does.

 Yes, I know this has become a cliche, but it still is good advice: be the change you want to see in the world.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

It's All Perspective...

After a number of years of having way more month left over at the end of my money - every month - I am excited because today I paid my bills and - drumroll please - they're all paid and a bit left over!

I remember once several years ago when I was griping to my mom about having absolutely nothing left after paying my bills, she remarked, "Well, be thankful you could pay your bills." Deep - really. I'll never forget that and I remind myself of it often.

Another exchange I'll remember forever: I ran into an acquaintance whom I knew was going through some very dark times within his family and with his business. I asked, as we always do, "How are you?". He replied, "Well, I can't complain." To which I jokingly said, "Well, we can always complain. It doesn't do any good, but we can always complain!" And with an expression of genuine, heartfelt sincerity, he said, "No, I really can't complain. This morning I got out of my nice warm bed and got dressed with no help from anyone else. I had a good breakfast in the kitchen of my own home. Then I went outside and got into my pickup truck and headed off to my job, my business. How many people only dream of having any of those things? My bed, my house, my truck, my job - no, I really can't complain." A complete sermon in one short paragraph.

My favorite Bible verse is, "And it came to pass...". If life is wonderful and you're on top of the world, enjoy every moment of it because one day it probably will pass. And if your life is in the pits and the entire universe seems out to get you, hang in there because one day this will pass, too.

So count your blessings. And if you're like me you have so many blessings to count, it will keep you so busy you won't have time to complain!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Eye Candy

Laura Carson is an amazing mixed media artist who works largely in a small format. I was one of the very lucky winners of her February drawing and received this beautiful ATC in the mail a few days ago:

Today she posted her newest Faberge egg creation - exquisite! Visit Laura's blog to see it and more of her fabulous creations.  http://artfullymusing.blogspot.com/

Speaking From the Soapbox... Unity?

Since my church began having two services a couple of years ago, there has been an ongoing friction between the "traditional" crowd and the "contemporary" crowd. The contemporary service, which is really not so contemporary, begins at 9am, and the traditional, again not so traditional, begins at 11am. Being a member of the praise team for the early service, as well as the church pianist for the second service, I get a view from both camps.

What surprised me in the beginning was the demographics of the two services. The early service, with the loud, boisterous music, had as many senior citizen attendees as it had younger folks. And conversely, there were as many younger couples, families with children, in the second service as in the first. Go figure. So I'm thinking that the music is not the deciding factor: I think it's the time. Most of those who go to the early service say they like being out earlier so they have more of their Sunday left for other activities. And my personal opinion is that the majority of those who attend the second service do so because that's the way they've always done it.

So on to where I was originally headed: what facilitates unity? The most vocalized objection to the early srvice from the second service crowd is that with two services we no longer have unity. Hmmmm... I've been there for 19 years. The early service began two and a half years ago. I don't recall there ever being true unity in this church. Well, unity among individual cliques, but not as a whole. Could it be that the real concern is that the objectors don't like not being able to see who's there and who's not? Oops, did I say that out loud?

And the unity thing: being in the same room at the same time does not guarantee unity. As the Queen of Analogies, I look at it this way: a married couple, with one being on active military duty overseas: the husband and wife are thousands of miles apart, yet can still be united in heart, mind and spirit. And how many couples do you know who live in the same house and have absolutely no sense or spirit of unity? I rest my case!

There has been much buzz among the second service crowd in recent months about doing away with the early service and going back to one service - in the interest of unity, of course. I don't believe unity will automatically spring forth - see previous paragraph. And I don't think that's the real issue.

I think it all comes down to personal preferences. Do I have my own preferences? Most definitely. Do I try to force them on others? Of course I do, sometimes. I am human after all, although some might argue that one. But I try to be open-minded about and tolerant of others' ideas of what, how and why. And in this particular situation, I believe all our people, early service and late service alike, need to put aside our personal preferences. Instead of debating "what we need to do", we should be praying and waiting on God to show us what He wants us to do.

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Psalm 127.1

So that's my soapbox sermon for today.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

That first step is a doozy!

After procrastinating for weeks, I am finally writing the first post to my newly created blog. What is the purpose of my blog? First, it will give me a forum where I can share my thoughts and opinions about anything and everything. It will also be a place where I can exhibit my artsy creations. And that's about as far as I've gotten with the "why" thing.

I only discovered blogs a few weeks ago - I feel like Christopher Columbus, or Amerigo Vespucci, or the Vikings, whatever - I've discovered a whole new world! Being a hermit of sorts - my home is my refuge and sanctuary and I love love love my alone time - now I can visit with interesting and creative people all over the world, I can feast my eyes upon amazing art created by said people, I can learn new techniques and better the ones I already use, and I can do all this at any time of the day or night - in my nightgown - in my own home! Works for me!

As part of my newly expanded world, I recently participated in an art swap hosted by Alpha Stamps (AlphaStamps.com). We started with a house-shaped binder that comes filled with 8 chipboard pages. We decorated 4 of the pages with a "Feather Your Nest" theme, sent them in to the hostess, who will swap them around and soon I will receive 4 pages by various artist in return! So here are pics of the pages I made:

And of course, the backs of the pages needed to be decorated too. These pics show the back of my pages with my info tag inside the little vellum envelope, then again with the tag visible.

Credits: I used images from AlphaStamps collage sheets (http://www.alphastamps.com/ ), downloaded images from The Graphics Fairy (http://graphicsfairy.blogspot.com/ ) and diecuts and dimensional embellishments by K & Co., purchased at a chain arts/crafts store.

Participating in this swap was a huge thing for me. I have struggled with chronic depression pretty much all my life, and was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, hence the title of my blog, "Life On the Seesaw". Part of my therapy is pushing myself out of the fortress of isolation I've constructed around myself. So here's me, pushing!