Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Carrying a Weight

We are now deep into the last two weeks of the college semester. This has been our daughter's first full semester of nursing school. While the first two years of college, filled with all of the basics, were not easy, this semester has definitely stood out as the most difficult one yet.

Classes like Pharmacology have challenged her ability to study while maintaining her position on the cross country and track teams. Tests that ask for "all the correct answers" rather than the "choose the BEST answer" have caused her to second guess herself. Test scores that have been lower than she would have liked have depressed her........

and ALL OF THIS has created a heavy weight on me as a mother.

I offer encouraging words. I whisper prayers for support. I listen when she wants to unload. I offer whatever advice I can, but all of this has certainly taken a toll.

Tonight, while thinking about how difficult nursing school can be on the parent, I had a sudden epiphany. Knowing how heavy my burden has been, trying to support my daughter, and carry some of her emotional weight, I cannot imagine the heavy burden and the personal pain that it caused for Jesus to carry the weight of the world's sin to the cross with him.

How many pounds that sin must have weighed! Oh, the amount of emotional pain it must have inflicted on our savior! Yet, he was willing to do it, for us, the sinful humans that we are. He did it so that we might have a chance for renewed life through his resurrection and God's forgiveness.

The semester will end. My pain from emotional stress will ease, but God's love for each and every one of us will not end. No matter what we do, he will always be there, willing to forgive us and wash away that sin. All we have to do is ask.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Five Minute Friday- Surrender

Black Friday- the day when most of America is out shopping, trying to get the best deals that they can for the upcoming Christmas holiday. Not me.... no.... I have spent my day trying to make the clothes and hair for a Raggedy Ann and Andy doll set that a friend of mine requested quite a while back. The doll bodies themselves came together weeks ago- much easier than I expected, but not the clothes and hair.

My sewing machine has been on the fritz.... no tension, then too much tension, Threads breaking off right in the middle of a seam. I even had one calamity that I have NEVER seen! I had a bobbin literally break in two IN THE MACHINE!

After a bit of what my mother would call "belly-aching" I did finally manage to get the clothes finished. Then I set about the dreaded task of getting the hair done. The instructions that came with the pattern involved wrapping the yarn around a large 12X18 piece of cardboard, then gently removing those loops from the cardboard (keeping them intact) and sewing them to a base. I managed to get the loops off more easily than I expected, but trying to sew through all of that yarn created a huge headache (for ME... Not Raggedy Ann). I could not see where the fabric was beneath the yarn, so when I sewed it I got way off track.

One side of the yarn wig looks pretty good, but the other is just a jumble of yarn.

Here I sit now..... after a long day at the sewing machine. My back aches, my head hurts, and I am not much closer to having these dolls finished. I think the fates have spoken and they are telling me to call it a night.  Oh well! I SURRENDER!! In the words of Scarlett O'Hara..., "Tomorrow is another day." Perhaps things will go better then.  In the meantime..... anyone got any great tips on making a wig for Raggedy?


Oh what a difference a day makes! It is SO TRUE!!

I got up this morning with a fresh outlook, two new pieces of red cotton cloth, and my red yarn. Having read several posts on the internet I had some idea of how I could possibly make the hair work on these dolls and I finally was able to succeed!

Not too shabby, huh? I am pretty pleased with the final results, although I have already warned my daughter that when she has a daughter she should NOT be expecting a set of these dolls! LOL! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What's Up Wednesday?

This Wednesday I have been busy with preparations for tomorrow's meal. My family and I will travel to my parents' house where we will enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. I have spent today preparing desserts, the ham, and the turkey. Tomorrow morning I will be the first one up- ready to prepare the sides: sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and dressing. 

This has become my yearly tradition- cooking at my house and taking the food there. It is a lot of work, but I enjoy it. 

I am so thankful that I still have my parents with me, though my mother is not in the best of health. Her memory has faded a great deal in recent years, a form of dementia according to the doctors, not actual Alzheimer's. At times she does not remember who I am, and, while it breaks my heart, I know that she does remember how my presence makes her feel. She truly loves when we visit, if only for a short while. 

This year I tried a new dessert. While I have not actually tasted the REAL thing,  I am fairly sure that it will be a HIT! I came across this recipe for Pecan Pie Cheesecake several weeks ago and I knew that I wanted to give it a try. 

I have never really been a fan of pecan pie, but I LOVE a good cheescake. When I made the topping for this one, I licked the spoon and I have to admit that it was YUMMY! I will try to check back in later this week and let you know what everyone thought. 

Until then, I hope that this holiday season finds you healthy and happy. As you gather with family, friends, or whomever, please remember to give thanks to God for his many blessings. I know that I will!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What's Up Wednesday?

I take a break from my usual craft updates to offer my own commentary on something that has been on my mind this week. 

Since my two children have grown and started making their way into the "adult" world, my family has spent a great deal of time talking about the pros and cons of living in a small town. 

When our firstborn, Keenan, selected a college, he wanted a small college, but he wanted it to be located in a big city. He ended up in Louisville at Bellarmine University. Over the past four years he has continually told us about the benefits of big city living: always something to do, proximity to shopping centers, and lots of convenient roads to get from place to place. 

Kari has always drifted more toward small town living and when it came time for her to go to college she selected Union College in Barbourville. She is right at home there, even finding a "home away from home" church to attend on Sundays (whenever student duties do not interfere). 

As for me, I tend to be more like Kari. I have always thought of myself as a small town girl. 

Events of this week have helped to re-emphasize to me all of the many reasons why I enjoy living in a "little town in the middle of nowhere". In a big city you would not find a whole community coming together to help a family who had just lost everything in a house fire. There might be a community food bank or something like that, but the number of people who knew the family and understood their loss would be few. In a town like ours, nearly everyone has been touched by this event in some way. I have heard about so many people who are trying to gather clothing for them, offer kind words and prayers, and reach into their own pockets to help provide money.

Over the years I have seen Booneville and Beattyville come together to help pay for funerals for individuals whose families could not afford them, provide meals and financial support for cancer patients, and even help do house repairs and maintenance for those who were physically unable to do them on their own. As a teacher in a small town I have personally seen teachers, aides, and school personnel help to provide the needs of individual students- whether it be a pair of tennis shoes, a warm coat, a prom dress for a girl who could not afford one, or food for the weekend. 

Yes.... Booneville may be a small town- but one of the BEST things about it is its BIG HEART! 

I am glad that I was born in a small town and that I live in a small town........... Yes, there are issues and problems, as with any town, but I would not trade it for the world!


Friday, November 11, 2016

Five Minute Friday- Common

Here it is Friday again and time for another round of Five Minute Friday journaling. This week's word is COMMON......

Ready..... Set...... Go!

I have always considered myself to be a very common, down to earth type of person. As a young girl and into my teenage years I even described myself as "homely". With my long, straight hair and plain clothing I did not stand out and I never really wanted to. I preferred to fade into the woodwork and just "BE".

Over the years however, I have come to realize that there are things that make me a very uncommon, unique person. I have my own unique way of organizing things; as a young mother I could tell whether one of the family had moved something on the coffee table by even a few inches. (Not so much anymore. I have mellowed with age. LOL!) When I am attempting to color match an outfit or home accessories I like to have a "perfect" color match. (This often gets on my son's nerves, as he is more willing to look at broader color strokes.) I just cannot abide certain food textures. Things that are too mushy, or too lumpy just do not appeal to me. When I eat a meal, I tend to eat it one food item at a time, not going back and forth with a bite of this and a bite of that.

I have been involved in conversations with other people as we discussed things that we liked and things that we didn't, our customary ways of doing things, and our own preferences about those little things that make us who we are. Often these conversations end with one person saying, "I just don't know how you do that", or "I could never do it that way."  It is at those times that I realize just how unique and uncommon I am.

God has molded each of us into the person that he wants us to be. He gave me my delight in chocolate, my need for order, and my unwillingness to choose sage green when I wanted a dusty green. I am NOT as common as I would like to believe. Regardless of this, I can rest in the confidence that I am God's perfect product!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What's Happening Wednesday

It is me.... checking in again to give you an update on what I am working on. I wish that I could show you my REALLY BIG PROJECT..... BUT..... I can't. I don't want the recipient to see it.  As far as I know the person does not have any idea that I am even working on something for them. (That is part of the fun with these things.)

I did recently crochet a doggie sweater for our lovely dog Rudy. You see, Kari was getting ready to run in the conference race at the end of Union College's Cross Country season. Glenn and I were going, sporting our Union gear of course, and I really felt that Rudy needed something too. A quick Pinterest search and I came up with a pattern for THIS:

Isn't he adorable? He was a hit at Saturday's race in North Carolina. Everyone kept oohing and aahing the sweater and I even got an order from another Union doggy momma for a sweater for her dog! I love crocheting, but I love seeing others enjoy my work even more!

I actually have a couple of Christmas sewing projects in the work, all for another sweet returning customer. A couple of crochet orders also..... then I will get back to work on my own projects. I am loving the fact that retirement has provided me with time to do some of the crafty things that I enjoy so much! When I taught full time it seemed like I was always trying to just squeeze things in. Now I can find the time to try new things and do projects for customers too!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What's Happening Wednesday

This week I have a finished project to share with you. (I actually finished 2 projects this week, but one of them cannot be shared until the gift recipient receives it.)

As I posted earlier in the month (See my blog entry HERE) I have been participating in my first mystery stitch along. This one was sponsored by Bernat yarn and JoAnn's Fabric and Craft Stores. Each Monday in the month of October they have posted "clues" to a finished blanket. They offered patterns for both a knitted and a crocheted one. I did the crocheted one.

With this week's clue in hand, I sat down to complete the blanket and was very pleased with the final result.

Now to reflect on the experience....

There are several aspects I need to consider when talking about this project.

1) Yarn Selection- This was my very first time working with the Bernat blanket yarn and I discovered that I really like it! Bernat offers a wide variety of colors: brights, typical crayon box colors, pastels, and variegated blends. It is very easy to mix and match and put together unique combinations that turn out to be beautiful together.

I was a bit concerned that the blanket would be bulky and cumbersome, but it wasn't.  While the yarn is nice and thick it does not create a weighty blanket. The finished project is just thick enough and warm enough to be comfortable. I am sure that my blanket would be enjoyed by some young girl or teenager, especially one who is like me and stays cold in the winter months.

2) The Mystery Aspect- As I mentioned in my earlier post, I am a self-proclaimed control freak. I carefully plan out every aspect of my projects from color to yarn selection to stitch count. Because of this, I found this Crochet Along to be a bit of a challenge. Weeks one and two were fine, but at the end of week three my stitch count was off and I was a bit discontented with the order in which I had used my colors.

Nearly as soon as I finished week three's "clue" however, I went online and discovered that many other ladies had also finished the third week's stitching and they, like me, had an incorrect stitch count. It did not take very long for Bernat to jump on top of things and realize that their original pattern, as posted, was incorrect. They prepared a corrected version and posted it.

After looking at the new instructions and counting my stitches (twice) I discovered that I was now only 2 stitches off and I could easily correct that as I worked week four's "clue". WHEW! Tragedy averted!

3) Overall Experience- Looking back on my experience with this Crochet Along I have to say that I am pleased with it. I debated and debated whether to purchase my yarn weeks ago. (After all, I had plenty of other things in the works. I truly did not need another project on my plate.) I typically jump into a project only when there has been a customer request or I have a purpose or recipient in mind for the finished project. I could not "pre-plan" this time, so I truly do not know what I will do with the finished blanket, even now. It may end up under a Christmas tree. It may end up as an item in an upcoming Christmas craft sale. Whatever happens to this finished blanket, I am glad that I participated and did this.

It required me to stretch myself and turn over a bit of control to someone else. Letting go of the reins actually helped me come to a realization. I have learned that crafting is not always meant to be a controlled process. Yes, there are typically patterns that are used, but it is nice every once in a while to allow those little "friendly accidents" to instill more character and personality in the finished product. I may not have exactly the number of stitches that the pattern says. My finished blanket may be smaller than the measurements posted on Bernat. BUT..... I have a brightly colored, warm, beautiful blanket that someone will love!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Pressing On....

Last week was a tough week for me. It came on the heels of a rough weekend. My daughter, who is a junior at Union College had some tough exams in her nursing class and was not thrilled at her scores. Being the mother that I am, I wanted to reach out and comfort her. Doing that effectively is not easy from over two hours away. She also had a bad experience with the cross country team. She was busy with an important meeting with her nursing professors when the team had to make the decision to go on to a meet without her. Again, my daughter reached out to her father and I for comfort and support. 

Then on Monday, came the "final blow". I had been to town to run some errands and was sitting at the end of our road, only a few hundred feet from our house, when my Toyota Rav4 got rear-ended by a pickup truck. 

Not only did my car take a hard hit; my life did also. With the car having over 145,000 miles on it, we are pretty sure that it will be totaled. I find myself sitting at home, totally dependent on my son and husband for travel assistance, and not really sure when I will have my own vehicle again.

What surprises me about the whole situation is that I am not as devastated emotionally as I expected to be. Then, yesterday at church, our minister used the following passages as part of his message.....

2 Corinthians: 4: 8-12 and 16-18

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Life can throw all of the blows at us that it wants. People can say bad things about us and criticize us, we can suffer personal problems, and we can find ourselves tossed about on the stormy seas of our everyday lives, but we can go on. 

When my daughter's cross country team made the decision to go ahead with her she was heartbroken... for a brief moment. She shed her tears and then set about searching for a 5K in the local area, so she could still run that day. She found a 5K in a nearby town that was being used as a fundraiser for a community children's group. She put together a costume, since it was a costumed event and she was ready and waiting at the starting line that night.

That night I watched as she gave it her all, finished with one of her best times and taking the first place medal for women at the event.

She did not lose heart. She could have sat there in her dorm room, moping and feeling sorry for herself, but she didn't. She wanted to run and she did what she needed to in order to do that.

As for me and my car, I am very shocked to discover that I am learning to do without a vehicle. So much so, that I actually recommended to my husband that if the insurance company DOES decide to total mine, we should sell his car and use the proceeds from the sale along with my insurance check to get him a good reliable used car. You see, his car has over 160,000 miles on it and often has those little lights blinking on and off on the dash like a Christmas tree. I can manage. Yes, I will have to stay home more. Yes, I will have to have someone find time to take me wherever I need to go. Yes, I will have to give up some of my freedom.... BUT.... on the bright side, it will give me more time to get things done here at home and it will enable me to spend more time with whichever family member ends up chauffeuring me to and fro.

As Christians we need to remember that whatever troubles we encounter are truly momentary. As Scarlett O'Hara said, "Tomorrow is another day." It may bring sunshine; it may bring rain. But whatever it brings our way, we must not lose heart. We must keep on trudging ahead, making the most of the moments we have now, remembering always that God is there for us and will lift us up for our eternal reward. We must keep on running, keep on studying, and keep on living.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What's Happening Wednesday

Hello.... my name is Stella and I am a control freak! (That probably does NOT come as a surprise to those of you who know me personally.) When it comes to projects, I am the kind of person who likes to make the decisions. I want to know the "end goal" and prefer getting step by step directions on how to get there. 

This month I decided to stretch myself and try to "loosen up" just a bit. I decided to participate in the Bernat Blanket "Mystery" Stitch-Along. With this stitch-along, "clues" or portions of the pattern are placed online each Monday in October. I do not know what each week's portion will actually look like until it is completed and I have NO IDEA what the finished project will look like. 

For a control freak like me, this is totally new territory! I normally carefully plan the colors for a project and purchase extra yarn, just in case something happens along the way. I also frequently count and recount stitches to be certain that each row or section is just perfect. I know what my finished item should look like and I have that as my final "goal". With this project, I don't have that luxury. 

I did make very deliberate yarn choices. The Stitch-along used the Bernat Blanket yarn, so soft and cushy! But it also gave me TONS of color choices. I decided to use one variegated yarn and 3 solids from that mix. Baby steps, I know..... but for me this project is my big step! 

I had to wait until one color of my yarn was delivered so I could decide in which order to use the colors. When it finally arrived I sat down with the pattern (clue) and stitched away. Here is what my blanket looked like after week 1:

Looking good, huh? Nice and bright. One would assume that the blanket was going to be round in shape, but I learned very quickly not to get too comfortable with that idea. 

When clue 2 came online, I printed it out and kept stitching. Here is what it looked like after week 2:

I have a nice looking square and I am still happy with my color choices.


That brings us to this week, week 3. I just finished that portion of the blanket and here is what I now have:

I pause for just a minute to give you an update from this control freak. IF I had any inkling of the finished design, I think I probably would have switched the placement of the orange and purple, but I am still ok with it. I also have to confess that I did go back and count my stitches on this last round and my stitch count fell about 12 stitches short of the intended number. I am not sure where I lost those, but the blanket still looks like it is shaped correctly, so I won't agonize over it TOO much.... LOL!

As for the overall reflection on this experience, with each week it gets a teeny-tiny bit easier to do this. I am pleased with the blanket so far and I am anxious to see what the final one looks like. Allowing myself to loosen up and give over control has become a bit easier, but I don't think I am ready to totally shed the control "freak" inside me. I am, and probably always will be a control freak when it comes to my projects. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Not Finished With Me Yet....

You know that feeling..... that little voice that says, "You are NOT done! There is something else that you need to do."  Well, that voice has been speaking to me for a few days.

I love retirement, but I really have missed having a connection to school. It has been such a LARGE part of who I am as a person. Let's face it.... Of my fifty some years here on this earth more of them have been spent IN a school or classroom than OUT of one.

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that God led me to retire when I did. I spent many hours praying about the decision and weighing the pros and cons. At the same time, I also feel that God has been telling me that there are still ways that I can stay connected with school and that my personal role there is not finished.

When I left school in July (and several times since) I have said that I would only go back as a substitute if it became financially necessary. Well, today I did what I never thought I would do. I completed an application to be a sub. As I walked into the building to speak with the principal about my decision I encountered several students. "Mrs. Baker!" one would squeal, while another would grab me to give me a hug. With each smile and hug it was as if I was being shown that there was still some work here for me to do.

The same thing happens in my Christian life. Though I have been a Christian since my early teens, I know that God is still working to help shape me into the wonderful creation that he intends me to be. Each day of my life here on earth he gives me some experience, some relationship, or some lesson that helps to continue to mold and make me the person he wants me to be.

In Philipians the Bible says...

I am confident that God will NOT give up on me. He will continue to work, IN ME and THROUGH ME, each and every day of my life. He can do that for you as well.

You may be struggling with something, feeling as though you have failed.... failed yourself, failed someone you know, or failed God. You may feel that God has turned his back and given up on you. That will NEVER be the case! God will continue to work in you. He will be there for you, as long as you allow him to be. Continue to pray, to seek God's guidance, and to allow him to work in you. You just may be surprised at the outcome!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Five Minute Friday- Test

Today I begin a personal test--- a test of my patience and (to some) a test of my sanity.

One of the crochet skills I have developed over the last twelve months is the skill of doing C2C crochet. (For those of you who are not in the know, that means corner to corner crochet.) With this type of crochet I create a grid pattern on graph paper of whatever design I plan to make. I then crochet tiny blocks of color, starting in one corner of the design and working diagonally across the remainder of the project.

The catch to making this work is the use of small "bobbins" of yarn which I add in each time I encounter a new color in the design. Because of the intricacies of some of my patterns I sometimes find myself working with several bobbins within a single row. The upside of this type of crochet is that I can create a blanket with almost any design I wish, as long as I can create a graph for it.

One my most difficult graphs to date was a police car blanket I created for a dear friend of mine. It was a true test of my patience and my sanity. As I worked my way across the graph I drew lines and labelled how many stitches of each color I would need in that row. Even with my careful graphing and counting, I still managed to mess up. The problem with that was that I did not catch my mistake until I was 5 or more rows PAST THE MISTAKE! This required me to pull out all of those rows and to back up to the point where the problem was.

So.... why do that? Why not just crochet a simple little blanket with straight rows of color? Surely that would be just as appreciated..... While that might be true, I enjoy the challenge of the whole thing. How much detail can I put into the graph? How far will I get before I do make the inevitable mistake? How long will it take for me to actually finish the project? Some people would definitely say that I had lost my mind, but I love to test myself and see whether I actually can complete the project.

The personal payoff for me is twofold: the personal satisfaction that I get when I actually pass the "test" that I set for myself and the joy that I see on the recipient's face when they receive the finished project. Just look at the photo below....

How could I NOT attempt something that would make someone so happy?

Pardon me now.... I have to go prepare my bobbins for this "test". I will post pictures when it is finished. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What's Happening Wednesday

Big things happening in the Baker household tonight. Our daughter came in from college. She will only get to stay one day of her fall break, as she is traveling to North Carolina to help support the Union Cycling team in their end of season race later this weekend. Even for only one day, it is sure good to have her here!

Even our dog got excited to see her come in the front door, as evidenced by this photo....

I think he was just very excited to finally have someone to keep him company and play a little. I have been hard at work this week crocheting. Typically, when I am working on a project, Rudy will tolerate it for just so long. Then he will do one of two things. He will either climb up onto my lap and plop down, right on top of the yarn (his way of saying "You need to stop and give me attention!") or he will find my finished projects or works in progress and lie down on top of them.

This week's big project was to create a Star Wars themed scarf for a customer. I am not really a Star Wars fan, but I was pretty confident that I could come up with something. I did an extensive Google and Pinterest search and finally decided to try to create my own "light saber" scarf. The customer requested black and silver as the colors and I managed to find some great sparkly yarn to use for the "lighted" portion of the saber. More black and grey yarn was used to create the handle on the saber. I was pretty pleased with the final results and the customer was too!

I think I have finally gotten most of my orders filled, so I am trying to squeeze in some things to stock upcoming Christmas bazaars. This will be my first year participating on this scale and I am a bit undecided about what items will sell. If you participate in bazaars or if you shop at such sales, I would love for you to drop me a comment to suggest items. Many of you have purchased things from me and know what I can make. Please let me know the kinds of hand-crafted items that you might be looking for. I am always willing to try! 

Monday, October 3, 2016


I was struggling this morning, trying to decide what I would write about today for my "Message Monday". I should have known that the Lord would provide the inspiration!

Each day I try to set a goal for the projects that I want to complete. Today's projects involved the following: Put buttonholes and buttons on a dress that I am making for a relative, Cut and adhere vinyl to a Halloween tumbler, and Cut and adhere vinyl to a special frame for my niece who recently got married.

I was dreading the buttonholes most, so I started with those. I found my buttonhole attachment rather quickly, hunted up my machine's manual to brush up on how to do them, and set to work to attempt a trial run on scrap fabric. The results were awful! I kept trying about 10 times, with only limited success. The machine would either not sew the zig-zag stitch correctly or would stop halfway through and begin beeping at me. About the time I became very frustrated, my son walked into the room to see what was going on. I handed him the manual and had him follow along as I again attempted a buttonhole. It failed again! My son, thinking he was being helpful, said, "I don't know what is wrong. It looks like you are doing everything right." Seeing that I was going to have to cave in and make the buttonholes myself, I did a quick Google search, grabbed needle and thread, and sewed them all the old fashioned way- by hand.

One project down and I knew the vinyl projects HAD to be easier. Well..... I was wrong. The vinyl cut smoothly enough and then I set about weeding the projects. The orange vinyl weeded fine for the tumbler and I smiled to myself, thinking how quickly I would be done for the day.

As I began weeding the black vinyl for the frame, it began to stick to itself. The more I gently pulled, the messier it got, to the point that vinyl stuck to vinyl and destroyed the bottom third of my design. Oh well, I thought to myself, no problem. I will just cut it again. That should be simple. I went to my computer, prepared the design, and cut the vinyl. I carried my new cut to the living room and sat down in the floor, knowing that this would only take a few minutes. As I looked at it, however, I soon realized that my cuts were not matching up. I had forgotten to mirror the image! A third time I returned to the computer, cut the vinyl, and finally finished my two projects.

Sometimes in our Christian life our days go like my morning. We try and try and try again, but things just don't go the way we plan or the way we would like.

Romans 5:3-5 says,

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

It is much easier to try things one time and then just give up. It is more difficult to suffer through our failures and continue to trudge on, attempting again and again if necessary. We may offer witness to a friend, only to have them shrug a shoulder and turn away. It is harder to go to another friend and even more difficult to return to that same friend and attempt witness again. But, if we do continue to persevere, we develop endurance and character, along with a hope that we will eventually reach that friend. 

As for me and my project....

Here is the finished product!

I persevered! I am very pleased with the final result and I am sure that it will be a blessing for my niece and her new husband. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Five Minute Friday- Collect

I have heard it said that everyone collects something. If you ask my husband, he would say that I collect craft supplies: mainly yarn and scrapbooking paper. (He would not necessarily say that I USE it.) If you ask my daughter, she would probably say that I collect owls. (Our Christmas tree is covered with them.)  If you ask my son, he probably would have very little idea what I collect.

Personally, I would like to think that I collect friends and good deeds.

I have always been one of those people who wants to go out of my way to help do things for the people I care about. Whether it is a little card, a smile, or some warm words of encouragement, I always try to do what I can to make their day go just a teeny-tiny bit better.

When I retired I knew that I would be spending some of my time crocheting and crafting in order to stay busy and to make a little money. But, I also made it my personal goal to try to use my skills just because someone needed it. Over the past year I have been keeping a record (collecting a list) to make me accountable to myself. I have made cups, sweaters, cards, and stuffed animals. Some of those have been gifted to people I know and care about- friends who needed a bit of encouragement. Some of those have been donated to organizations who used them as door prizes or give-aways.

I have really enjoyed seeing the smile on someone's face as I give them something they had no idea they would be receiving- a little something to just say, "I am thinking of you. Someone cares." I suppose that I have also been collecting those smiles.  When I have a bad day and things aren't going well, or when I am working on a project and things just don't seem to be turning out right I remember those smiles- those friends along the way that I was able to uplift, if only for a few moments.

Colossians 3:17 says

With each smile, friend, and good deed that I am able to collect along my way, I whisper a quiet "Thank you Lord, for bringing this opportunity into my life and allowing me to live this moment."

What about you? What do you collect? I would love to hear from you. Drop me a quick comment below.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What's Happening Wednesday

I awoke this morning to that crisp autumn feel in the air. Fall has always been my favorite season. Not sure why- It could be those spicy autumn flavors that I enjoy so much: ginger, cinnamon, pumpkin spice. It could be the beautiful tones that the hills of Kentucky take on with the season. It could be the fact that I can now feel comfortable wearing my long sleeved denim shirts and a comfy pair of sweat pants. Whatever the reason, this is MY season!

For this, my first "What's Happening Wednesday" I have a major newsflash! What could it be?

Well.... Here is hint number

Fall is my favorite season......

What? That hint isn't good enough?

Well then..... Here is hint number

Leaves change color in the fall.....

I think I can hear some of you grumbling and saying, "So what? You already told us that." 

Guess I better move on to hint number 

Leaves are NOT the only things that can change color.

Think that you have it figured out? Look below and see if you are correct.

Did you guess correctly? 

Over the past few weeks I have noticed that I really wasn't liking what I saw in the mirror. I felt that my hair was aging me a bit, so I decided to take the leap. My hairdresser and I discussed an ash blonde, but then she said, "I think you would look great in a shade of red!" She brought out the color samples and we settled on a shade. 

What do you think? I would love to hear your comments! Just click on the little pencil at the bottom of this post and drop me a line. Is it too bright? Too clownish? (Not a good thing, with all of the clowns in the news right now. LOL) Or do you think it suits me? 

Next Wednesday I should have some craft projects to share with you, but until then, I anxiously await your thoughts on my color change. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

New Stage of Life- New Version of Blog

88 days ago I officially retired. I packed my things at school, organized what I was leaving behind, said my tearful goodbyes, and walked out the door. I was not really sure what loomed ahead of me. Some who had taken the plunge before me said that I would love it, others were doubtful and said that I would miss it.

Over the past eighty eight days I must confess that I have felt a range of emotions. In the last weeks of July, as my fellow teachers posted about trainings and meetings that they were attending, I was actually surprised that I felt a tinge of regret at not being there with them. On the first day of school I had to share in the excitement, so I prepared goodie bags for the middle school team of which I had been a member. I suppose it was my way of saying, "I am really still there." As September brought on the changing of leaves here in eastern Kentucky it brought with it the yearly school fair, which most of us teachers secretly dreaded. I actually found myself missing the excitement and hubbub.

Everywhere I go these days I get the same question, "So, how is retirement?" I don't really have a standard answer. Some days I have been joyful that I didn't have to attend those long meetings after an already long day of teaching. Others, I secretly long for the thrill of having a student's eyes suddenly light up as they "get it."

I have been filling my days with crocheting- orders placed by friends and customers who saw something on Pinterest and now know that I have time to fill those orders. It has kept me busy, but I long for a more personal connection- that inner knowledge that someone, somewhere wants to communicate with me and see what I have to say. Because of that, I thought it was time to overhaul my blog. I now have the time to post more regularly; I just need to get myself into a flow with it. I would also like to widen my audience and include more "me".

I would like to post at least 3 days a week. Monday will be "Message Monday" where I will share a post about God, my faith, and whatever lesson God is giving me. Wednesday will be "What's Happening". On that day I plan to share whatever project I am currently working on. Fridays I will be participating in the Five Minute Friday posts that are shared each week by Kate Motaung.

That is the plan- now I need some followers to help make me accountable. I would love for you to sign up to get my updates as I post each week. I would also love for you to drop a comment and let me know that you are out there, reading my blog and relating to what I say. Look at the top right of this page and you will see a little blue button that allows you to follow me. That makes it easy for you to get the updates as I post. Please consider coming along for the ride on "My Life's Merry-Go-Round."

Friday, June 24, 2016

Catching Up On Rest

I just visited the Five Minute Friday blog and learned that the word for this week is REST..... Rather appropriate considering what I planned to post about this week. (Although I am PRETTY sure that it will be longer than a Five Minute blog entry.)

Last Sunday was not only Father's Day; it was also my sweet hubby and my 23rd anniversary. Knowing that it was a doubly special day I knew that I needed to plan something extra special. Glenn had been talking for at least a year or more about his desire to visit the Museum of Appalachia located in Clinton, Tennessee. He has always enjoyed seeing the way things used to be here in the Appalachian mountains and is even working to help set up a Pioneer Village right here where we live.

The tough part was going to be getting Glenn to actually take the day off and just rest. He is a VERY hard worker and often over-stretches himself. He loves to help community and church groups, as well as the local schools with any project that he feels in beneficial. All of this piles stress on top of the stress that he already feels and takes up much of what should be free time.

I decided the best way to get him to just give up a day was to conspire with our two children. Our son NEVER wants to go anywhere with us. He has reached that age of early adulthood where he has begun to find his own interests and therefore his own recreational things. On Friday night we told Glenn that we had decided to go the frugal route for Father's Day this year. We cooked him a meal, including cake and presented him with a single card and his "gift": an air popper for popcorn, some corn, and seasonings. (He loves popcorn, but usually burns it in the microwave.) I followed that up with a simple request. "Keenan wants us to go somewhere with him tomorrow. You know that he NEVER asks us to go anywhere with him, so I really think we should go." Needless, to say, Glenn agreed.

That night he tried several times to get one of us to let out the secret location, but all he got in answer to his question, "Where are we going?" was a single word, "Distance".

The next day we set out bright and early with Glenn posting this on Facebook: " My family is whisking me off to some unknown destination...Should I be happy or worried??? Hey, I still love them!!! "

We had prepared 4 cards, each with a clue inside. Glenn was given one every 30 minutes. When he got the first one he started posting the clues on Facebook as well and friends back home started trying to guess the secret destination.

Kari, my daughter, had prepared the clues and had really gotten creative:

You are in for a mountain of fun!

You won't be the only 10 I see on our anniversary!

This town is a great CANDIDATE for a road trip!

You won't be sawing any logs today, but you will be seeing them!

By the time we got just outside of Clinton, Glenn finally figured it out. He was having just as much fun with the clues as we thought he would have with the trip.

The day was a great one for us all and a much needed rest. Viewing log cabins is not really up Keenan's alley, but I truly think that he got into the whole experience too.

By the end of the day, we had all decided that we definitely need to do something like this again. Rest is one of those things that we can all use more of and it is even better when we get that rest together as a family!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Five Minute Friday- Want

Time again for another Five Minute Friday.  For more information about the Five Minute Friday be sure to click on the link to the right.

This week's word prompt is- WANT.

Right now in my life I want one thing- rest. I have just finished teaching my third week of Summer Boost Camp at the local elementary school. This involves a full day of activities 8:30 to 2:30 daily, with kids ranging from rising 1st grade to rising 5th grade. It is constant teaching, one group in- then out to allow another one to enter the room. Three more weeks of this remain ahead of me.

To top it off, this week has also been our church's vacation bible school. I am the resident craft teacher. Every night I have had groups of 12 to 14 little kids, many of whom could not follow my simplified instructions or who managed to drop their finished creation, sending beads or gravel tumbling out all over the floor- thus requiring us to take more time to recreate the original piece. Don't get me wrong. I really enjoy working at VBS and I love doing God's work, but it can get very stressful and definitely very tiring!

I come home from school, rest for a few minutes, then jump back into the car and head to church for the nightly program. All of this constant activity has really worn me out! 

I WANT to sleep in late tomorrow. 

I WANT to enjoy a leisurely breakfast when I do decide to leave my bed- preferably some wonderful pancakes or waffles. 

I WANT a day to just stay in my jammies and do what I WANT to do.....

What I am going to do instead is get up bright and early tomorrow morning and go geocaching with my daughter. She saw online that it is geocaching day or something like that and that there is a special button you can earn for finding caches that day. The tired mommy in me wants to say, "Don't you know I am too tired to go traipsing around looking for tiny little boxes with strips of paper inside?" The sentimental mommy in me knows that this may be one of the things that we won't get to do together much longer. She is growing up and will soon be geocaching with friends, boyfriends, and- one day- her own little family. 

So, tomorrow morning when I WANT to stay tucked under my covers I will get up, shower, and put on some nice sturdy shoes- preparing myself for a day full of looking (and hopefully finding MOST of the caches we look for).

Oh well, there is always NEXT WEEKEND to look forward to, right?

Uh oh- I almost forgot..... next weekend is Father's Day!........ SIGH.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Five Minute Friday- haven

Time once again for the Five Minute Friday. This week's word is "haven".

My haven would have to be my "scrap room". About 20 years ago I discovered scrapbooking and fell in love! I had TONS of photos of my then infant son. I began accumulating stickers, paper, scissors, and every new scrap tool that I thought I might need.

At the time, the only place I had to work was on the kitchen table. Supplies would come out when I found myself with a few moments and then get stored away in boxes until some more time became available.

As my scrap "stash" grew, my husband, being the wonderful man that he is, allowed me to move into his office. We shared the little L shaped desk, with me working on my scrapbook albums when he was not working on schoolwork.

About 7 years ago we found ourselves with the money to go ahead and add on a new master suite. This allowed us to move my son into our old bedroom and my daughter into my son's room. There was little discussion about what would become of the now extra room- it was Momma's! Invariably, when my husband or one of my children was looking for me the answer would be, "She is in her room."

Over the years my hobbies have gone from scrapbooking to sewing to crocheting to Bible art journaling. One thing that hasn't changed is the variety of materials that I have accumulated: paper, glue, markers, colored pencils: you name it- I have it. I have weeded through supplies several times and given or sold many, keeping the things that I know I can use the most.

This stash has created a large storage issue. What once was a peaceful haven for me has lost a bit of its glimmer. I still creep away to "my room" to work, as my computer is located there, but I find myself doing more bill paying and Facebook checks than crafting. Supplies are stacked and crammed in corners and the closet. It is difficult to find what I need when I want it and I don't spend nearly as much time there as I would like.

I hope to remedy that in the near future. I want to dedicate some sweat and organizational hours to rearranging my room into the haven that it once was. God has blessed me with a loving husband who allows me space and time to do things that I love and has given me talents that I can use to interact with others around me. When my haven (and my scrap time) was at its maximum I had a group of friends who met on a monthly basis to scrapbook, laugh, and have a good time. I would love to be able to do that again. The friendship and fellowship that took place at those get-togethers were some of the best things about my month. I NEED to renew my haven and renew my personal time!

If you enjoy these Five Minute Friday posts and would like to join in or just see what it is all about, please click on the link to the right. I would love to have you join in on the fun!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Five Minute Friday- Cheer

When I saw the word for Five Minute Friday, it brought a smile to my face. One of the things that my family has always tried to do is to find the "little things" that can bring cheer to someone else. We also try to appreciate the "little things" that are done to help bring cheer into our own life.

As an example, my son, who graduated from college in December has developed an enthusiastic appreciation for typewriters. Though he owns a Macbook and a cell phone, he has become enthralled with the idea of owning and using a good old fashioned typewriter.

He had looked at several second-hand stores and had actually located one or two that he could try out. Each of them had their flaw: keys stuck, small pieces fell out, or keys were actually missing. Then, on a recent visit to my mom and dad's house I remembered that I had owned an old typewriter. I asked Dad if he happened to know what had happened to it. He said, "It's in the cabinet downstairs." We took a quick trip to the basement and sure enough found the typewriter, right where he had stored it. I carried it to my car and took it home to surprise Keenan.

When I arrived home I used my cell phone to call inside and ask if he could come carry something in for me. When I opened the back door of the car and he saw the typewriter he smiled from ear to ear. After a brief explanation about the typewriter's origin, Keenan took it inside. Over the course of the next hour or two he managed to slip away for a few minutes at a time to clean it and try it out. I could tell that this gift had really been able to bring a little unexpected cheer to his day.

Who would have thought that an old typewriter could bring such delight to a twenty something young man who had grown up loving computers and technology?

Sometimes we need to remember that it doesn't have to be expensive or extravagant... we just need to do SOMETHING to brighten the lives of those around us and help bring them a little bit of cheer. It is those LITTLE THINGS that help make life so wonderful: the hand picked wild flower in the hand of a small child, the card made by hand with a youngster's backwards letters and squiggly handwriting, the candy bar and soda left on a co-worker's desk just because. These are the things that make life so wonderful!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Five Minute Friday.... Expect

A lot of people have been asking me, "So.... is retirement what you expected?" I respond with something rather bland like, "To be honest, it has not really sunk in yet." Then I go back to what I was doing and, in my own quiet moments I ponder the question.

If I had to honestly answer the question, I would have to say that I have not REALLY retired yet. (That becomes official on July 1. That is when the school's fiscal year ends, so I am on contract and paid until that point. Because of that, it is the marker that I am using for actual retirement.) To complicate matters even more, I am working 6 weeks of summer school, beginning next Monday. It adds a bit to my retirement and it keeps the school system from having to train someone else for the reading program.

I may not technically be retired, but I have to say that retirement is just as wonderful (so far) as I expected. I expected to be able to sleep in without setting an alarm and I am so happy that my body clock is already adjusting to that. I am able to stay up a bit later with family and sleep in a bit later each morning. 

I expected less stress and, (so far) that is happening. My biggest stress has been trying to decide what to cook each night and what to crochet or craft next.

I do expect that I will get a teeny bit "bored" from time to time, so I am preparing myself for the idea that I may have to take a part time job doing something. I am, after all, still young enough for a second career and still healthy enough to make the most of it. 

I once read a quote that said, "Expect nothing and appreciate everything." I think that kind of sums up my expectations for retirement. I hope to appreciate every minute of free time or family time that I am given!

This post is my attempt at participating in the online "Five Minute Friday" writing group. I discovered it quite a while back, but I never seemed to have the time to commit to participating. Now I do! 

For more information about the group, you can click on the Five Minute Friday button on the right. I would love for some of you to join us!