Rainy Saturday

My husband’s plans for the day were destroyed by rain. It rained steadily almost all day so he had to find indoor things to do instead of going out to do his yard jobs. Jasper was not sorry—he got to sleep in! And we have reached that time of year when rain is always welcome.

I had to pick up a few things at Walmart so I went in the morning in the rain when it was not crowded at all. I spent most of the day just working through my do-do list. I checked quite a few things off, but there are plenty left!

One of the things I did was to make a batch of oversized omelet muffins that Jasper can heat up for breakfast next week. He eats breakfast at 5:00 a.m.—and much as I love him, I’m not going to get up at that hour and make him a hot breakfast. He often makes his own, but I thought he’d like something nice that he doesn’t have to remember how to cook that early in the morning.

I also measured him today. Lately I have gotten several questions about how tall he is. Not as tall as I thought, as it turns out. He is only 6’2¼” at this point. I know he is already 18, but I think he still has some growing to do. After all, he wears size 16 shoes and has been a late bloomer all along. He may yet overtake one or both of his big brothers.

I prewashed some fabric in hopes that I might be able to squeeze some sewing into this coming week. I’ll only be teaching Story Quest and knitting! And trying to catch up on a million other things . . .

Last Day

Today was the last day for my paragraph class. I have had a good bunch of kids this year and I think they have learned a lot! Some of them will be returning in less than two weeks for the beginning of essay class.

I spent the afternoon running errands, including doing grocery shopping. I expected Aldi to be really crowded on a Friday afternoon, but it wasn’t too bad.

This evening I picked up my neighbor Sylvia and we drove up to a restaurant for this month’s ladies’ night out. Sylvia has been my most faithful attender (other than myself). Two other ladies joined us, one of whom I hadn’t seen in quite a while, so it was really good to get a chance to visit. I hope eventually we have a bigger turnout, but meanwhile I still enjoy getting together with old friends.

Parting Shot:

My paragraph kids. Aren’t they cute?

Social Life

By the time this week is over, I’ll have had more of a social life than I usually have in a month! We had a surprise lunch guest on Tuesday, followed by critique group and writers’ meeting. Yesterday I had my two knitting classes followed by a lovely dinner out. Today after class I went to the park for knitting support and ended up spending almost the entire time untangling someone’s yarn. Then I raced home and made it just minutes before my friend Robin arrived.

Robin and I have been trying to get together for weeks! We just never seemed to be free on the same day until today. So we had some tea and a nice chat, which I would have enjoyed more if I hadn’t had a severe headache.

After she left, I had no choice but to lie down for a little while, but I soon got up to go the gym an hour earlier than usual as that was the only way I could fit in a walk at all. I returned home with our friend Lee right behind me, only to find that the power was out! (A sudden rainstorm blew through while I was in the gym.)

So Lee and I sat in the gloomy living room until Walter and Lina got home. Lina had spent a great deal of time and effort making a very fancy layered dessert, so she served that up for the three of them (Jasper was gone for the evening). We had a good but brief visit with Lee, who is leaving town tomorrow and most likely won’t be back until next year. Just before he left (and before any of us became uncomfortably hot), the power came back on.

Still fighting my headache while preparing for my last day of paragraph class tomorrow.

Still Busy

As I have so often said, I am mostly a one-event-a-day kind of girl—but this week has been very busy and I find myself rushing through several events every day.

Today of course I had my morning class to prepare for and teach. Then one of my morning students stayed to be tutored until my knitting class started at 2:00. So I had no break at all. The two knitting classes were both quiet this week, but there was plenty of tangled yarn and mangled knitting for Lina and me to help with. And next week, we add crochet to the mix!

I did have a brief lull after class before getting ready and then taking Jasper to church on my way to dinner at a friend’s house. Her brother-in-law is an old college friend of mine. And her daughter-in-law is my neighbor Sylvia’s daughter, so Sylvia and her husband David were also there. With several of us having missionary backgrounds, it was a fun evening around the table. I enjoyed getting to visit with my old friend and former co-editor of our college newspaper. We took a photo of all of us who went to the same college—obviously from two different generations!

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Surprise!

Today was already a very busy day. I had my class this morning. I planned to spend the “lunch” hour baking cookies and running errands in preparation for this evening’s writers’ group meeting.  Instead, Walter brought a guest for lunch—a friend from college days whom we hadn’t seen for at least a couple of decades. What a big surprise!

The first batch of cookies were already in the oven when he arrived, so I was able to finish baking the cookies while still getting to visit. It was so good to catch up with him!

But after he left, I had some other catching up to do—errands to run, critiquing to do, and getting ready for the meeting.

I made it to our critique meeting sort of on time. We are down to just three of us at the moment, though we are still hoping that others will rejoin us before long.

Our speaker for the regular meeting was Tex Thompson, whose enthusiasm and expertise I have enjoyed on several occasions. She came all the way from Dallas to speak to our group and I was hoping for a great turnout. I advertised tonight’s meeting to the other two local groups I belong to as well.

*sigh* Six people showed up—seven, if you count Tex, and of course I do count her. That didn’t detract from the quality of the material at all, of course—I was just sorry more people weren’t there to learn along with us. The cookies were also a hit, but I brought plenty home. Six people cannot polish off a whole batch of my molasses spice cookies without help!

After the meeting, Tex and I splurged on some sparkling water at Jack-in-the-Box before she headed home to Dallas. She has been such an encouragement to me and I am so glad she made the effort to come. Now I’ve got to figure out what to say at next month’s meeting!

When I got home, I had plenty of stuff waiting for me—like grading papers and preparing for tomorrow’s class, getting a bunch of materials together for a tutoring session to bring a kid “up to speed” before he joins Story Quest, and planning for tomorrow’s two knitting classes.

Full of Years

I’m not sure how I really feel about turning sixty. No one ever told me that when I got here, I wouldn’t feel old—not the inner me, anyway. Sometimes my body feels much older! I’ve already posted about some of the things I’ve learned over the years, and I’m thankful to be able to say that I am still learning.

Yesterday church went really late and when we got home I realized that I would not have any time at all for my cherished Sunday afternoon nap. I had to get right to work on making my birthday dinner! So most of the afternoon was spent in the kitchen. Mercy and Daniel arrived in the middle of the afternoon and Jasper talked Daniel into helping him with a pruning job.

Walter had to set up the grill in the carport because it rained on and off all afternoon, and once I got the ribs going he sat out there to keep an eye on them. Lina and Mercy helped me with the final preparations, and Spencer and Jade and Janet all came.

I had a mostly keto menu. Because it was my birthday meal, and because Spencer and Jade were also here, I made some keto goodies sweetened with monkfruit. I normally avoid all artificial sweeteners—but I’ve got to admit the lemon poppyseed keto muffins were a real treat!

Spencer was on call and had to leave for a couple of hours to work. When he returned he had a very upset stomach and was not up to eating his dessert. He has continued to be sick today and had to stay home. I sure hope it’s nothing contagious . . .

I was up late last night grading papers and had more of the same to do this morning while preparing for today’s classes. I had made a batch of gluten-free cupcakes yesterday but this morning I still had to ice them so they’d be ready to pass out to my students. I had also made some chocolate jello for my afternoon class since they get a full recess.

Two of my morning students knew it was my birthday and brought me some flowers and a couple of handmade bookmarks. My afternoon class was very rowdy even though three kids were missing. I had to constantly remind the kids to stop talking!

I did get a brief nap after my second class ended. Then my brother Matt called and I enjoyed talking to him as I always do. I received a brief phone call from my mother while I was making supper, and then this evening was able to enjoy a video chat with Flynn and Mary.

It was a busy day but that was okay. I normally try to schedule it so I have my birthday “off,” but it didn’t work out this year. All day, every time I checked my phone, I saw new birthday greetings popping up. I have tried to respond to every one. I am so thankful for all the friends who care about me.

Parting Shot:

Me at sixty. It’s all downhill from here!

Sixty Things I’ve Learned in Sixty Years

  1. I’ve learned to invest in my relationship with God. No other activity has yielded more beneficial results over the course of my life.
  2. I’ve learned that the church is very important—even if you don’t feel like you “fit in” to the one you’re attending. (I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like I’ve fitted in.) Finding a way to be an active part of the church’s ministry has brought me a great deal of satisfaction over the years. And when I’ve needed help, fellow church members have pitched in to help, even when they barely know me.
  3. I’ve learned the value of reading through the whole Bible. I’ve followed all manner of reading plans, but my favorite is still just to read it through from Genesis to Revelation. I always find things I didn’t notice before. I find I really enjoy reading the Bible with a specific goal—say, to find out everything that God has to say about ministry, or raising children, etc.
  4. I learned the importance of memorizing Scripture—and then I dropped the ball. I was forced to memorize five verses a week as a child, and I consider one of my most serious adult failures is that I haven’t imposed a similar discipline on my own children—or continued to memorize new passages myself. Nothing compares to having Gods’ word in your heart and mind, accessible all the time.
  5. I’ve learned to love and memorize hymns, and that love has only deepened over the decades. The old hymns of the faith are full of spiritual “meat” and have sustained me time after time when I found myself in deep waters. If you know them by heart, you will be able to hum those lovely old tunes and hear the majestic words in your head even if you don’t sing them out loud (although I often do sing them out loud anyway).
  6. I’ve learned that friendship is worth the risk. No matter how many times I’ve been hurt or betrayed, it’s still worth it to invest in friendships with others. My friends are among my most prized treasures. My Christian friends and family members have the unique distinction of being the only treasures I can have in heaven!
  7. I’ve learned that when I have a friend, it is most rewarding if I just assume it will be a lifelong relationship. I put effort into maintaining the relationship—even if most of the effort seems to be on my side. And now, after all these decades, I have a host of friends that I share a long history with. It’s so worth it.
  8. I’ve learned to cultivate kindness. From childhood, I tried very hard to be kind to others because others so often were not kind to me. Kindness does not cost anything. One kind act or word, however, can make someone else’s day! One of the best compliments I ever received was when a childhood friend told me the main thing she remembered about me as a kid was that I was kind.
  9. I’ve learned that a close sister of kindness is compassion. All of us, every single one, has hidden pain and I am learning to see it in ways I haven’t seen before. I’ve discovered that often someone who is quiet and reserved may also be miserable and lonely, and I want to reach out to that person.
  10. I’ve learned not to let people get on my nerves. The older I get, the more tolerant I’ve become. Not of sin or evil, of course, but of those little quirks that used to drive me crazy. I wish I had developed this skill earlier. People who are fussy, fearful, or boring used to really irritate me. Now I am usually able to look past annoying behaviors and just love and care about the person behind them. Life is so much more enjoyable this way. People are still just as irritating—I just don’t mind so much anymore.
  11. I’ve learned to forgive people who have hurt me (still a work in progress!). If they aren’t repentant and don’t desire a restored relationship with me, I still forgive them for my own sake. I can relinquish that pain to God and move on with my life.
  12. I’ve learned not to hold on to hurt or resentment from the past. If I allowed it to, it could poison my whole life. I have many things in my past that could have crippled me as an adult. No one would blame me if I still suffered from these past experiences. But that would be letting “them” win. No one who has hurt me in the past is going to be allowed to continue hurting me now because I can’t let go of the bitterness.
  13. I’ve learned not to let anyone steal my joy in the present either. If someone is scornful of something that brings me joy, I just remind myself that different people like different things and the other person’s scorn does not in any way diminish my worth as a human being. Why should I let anyone else make me feel ashamed about an innocent preference?
  14.  I’ve learned that if someone is cruel or unkind to me, I should resist the desire to lash back. I remind myself that people who act that way 1) are probably in pain themselves, and 2) really, really need a demonstration of God’s love, not human retaliation. I try to remember to pray for that person instead of responding in kind.
  15. I’ve learned to value loyalty in myself and others. A loyal friend is one of the greatest gifts on this good earth, and I can give the gift of loyalty to those I love. I try to make sure my friends and family know I will stick by them through thick and thin. I want to be the person they can always count on.
  16. I’ve learned something that so many people seem to have forgotten lately: that you can have opinions-even really strong opinions—and choose to keep them to yourself. And if I do keep certain opinions to myself, it allows me to remain friends with people whom I dearly love and who do not share my opinions on certain things.
  17.  I learned early on to avoid gossip. Every now and then, I pay attention to what I am actually saying about others when I get in a conversation. The two questions I always ask myself are: Is it kind? Is it helpful? When others start gossiping, I try to put a stop to it. I say something like, “Oh my goodness, I would really hate to think that anyone was talking about me like that!” Then I put in a good word for the victim. I now have a reputation as one who won’t listen to gossip.
  18. I’ve learned that reading is the greatest gift of early education. If you can read, you can learn anything else. If you don’t love reading, keep doing it until you do love it! Reading has enriched my life like nothing else.
  19. I’ve learned to read as much as I can, on any topic that interests me and also on topics that I thought would not interest me. More than once I’ve been pleasantly surprised!
  20. I’ve learned that the really great stories are worth re-reading. I would love it if everyone could read Les Misérables, for instance, at least twice in their adult life. There is so much meat and food for thought in that one novel that it’s worth wading through Hugo’s bloated prose.
  21. I’ve learned the value of reading aloud to my children, even when they were long past the age of being able to read on their own. I look forward to doing the same with grandchildren someday.
  22. I’ve learned to keep on learning. I’m not afraid to learn a new skill. In fact, I try to make a point of learning new skills! They say it will keep your brain young.
  23.  I’ve learned to stay curious, to ask questions. I’m willing to make some effort to find the answers.
  24. I’ve learned that I thrive on the mental stimulation of discussing things with smart people who are not at all like me and see things from very different viewpoints. I love my book club for this very reason. I love being made to think and re-evaluate my own beliefs.
  25. I’ve learned to hang on to my sense of wonder. So many things still amaze me, whether it’s the natural world or another person’s story.
  26.  I’ve learned to cultivate a sense of adventure (although to be honest I think I was born with it). I try to take every opportunity to go somewhere new and try something I’ve never done.
  27.  I’ve learned to appreciate other cultures, and to let go of the idea that our culture is not just “different” from others but also “better.” Different is interesting!
  28.  I am still learning to let go of perfectionism. If I enjoy something, it is okay if I’m not perfect at it. My watercolor efforts are a perfect example of this. And if it brings joy to my heart, then it is a valid thing to do.
  29.  I’ve learned to treasure my family—both the one I was born into and the one I gave birth to. They can and should be your lifelong best friends. I like to focus on what we have in common (including years of shared experience), not on what they do that drives me crazy.
  30.  I’ve learned to talk less and listen more. I like to ask people about themselves and find out what makes them tick. I have made quite a few new friends this way—and also gathered memorable material to use in my writing. . . .
  31.  I place great value in being dependable. If someone asks me to do something and I agree to it, I make it a priority and make sure it gets done. I am gratified that I have so often been told I can always be counted on to follow through on my commitments.
  32.  I’ve learned to say no—and I keep having to relearn it. I rehearse my priorities from time to time so that when I am asked to do something, even something “good,” I know when I can and should say no with a clear conscience.
  33.  I’ve learned not to allow myself to begin doing something that I know is habit-forming and unhealthful, even when I am pressured to do so. So I’ve never smoked a cigarette or acquired a taste for beer, for instance. And if you’ve followed my health journey, you know that because of my addiction, I can never eat food containing sugar again.
  34.  I’ve learned not to underestimate my own or someone else’s stupidity. I accept the fact that from time to time I will do stupid things. Possibly I will do some extremely stupid things. I’ve learned accept this fact and to laugh at my own stupidity and forgive myself for it. And when others are stupid? I forgive them too, because really, we’re all in this together.
  35.  Just because I do stupid things does not mean I am a stupid person, however, and I ignore anyone who tries to tell me otherwise. We all are entitled to regular and frequent withdrawals from our LSA (Lifetime Stupidity Allowance).
  36. I think I’ve learned—finally!—not to turn to food for comfort. No amount of food in the world will heal a broken heart, comfort a lonely soul or dissipate rage. Instead, I try to remember to pour my heart out in prayer or focus on doing something positive.
  37. I’m so glad I learned how to garden when I was young. There is something ridiculously satisfying about eating something you grew yourself or seeing a vase of your own flowers on the table. I’m glad I went to a school where “gardening” was actually a required activity that everyone had to do.
  38.  I’ve learned to make music part of my life. Not just popular music, but classical music that has stood the test of time. Some of this music is absolutely sublime, and it will enrich your whole life if you welcome it into your world. If my ship ever comes in, you’d better believe I’ll have season tickets to the symphony!
  39.  I’ve discovered that listening to music is wonderful (see above) but there is nothing like making it myself. I wish I had learned to play an instrument sooner!
  40.  I’ve learned the joys of creativity in every sphere. Creating something with my own hands satisfies a need that can’t be met any other way. I write stories, sew garments, knit, crochet, and create new recipes. I enjoy it all!
  41.  I’ve learned to treasure time spent with kids. I no longer have any young kids of my own, but I regularly borrow them from other moms in hopes of teaching them stuff. Kids are so wonderfully energetic and positive and enthusiastic and imaginative. They are an antidote to so much of what goes on in adult life. And childhood flashes by so quickly—when it comes to doing something with kids, you just can’t “wait till later.” When “later” comes they’ll be in college!
  42.  I’ve learned to work hard at being content—at “blooming where I am planted.” This is something I have learned from children, by the way. A child can be happy anywhere—why can’t I? I try not to live in the past, no matter how wonderful (or traumatic) it was, or in the future, when I hope all my dreams will come true. I try to appreciate the gifts and joys of each day while I’m in it.
  43.  I’ve learned that part of contentment is loving what I’ve got. Comparing my modest home and possessions to someone else’s is bound to end in dissatisfaction and envy. To remind myself of this, I sometimes walk around my house mentally saying, “I love our comfy old couch! I love our big dining table!”
  44.  I’ve learned to appreciate teenagers. In fact I adore them. Sure, they come with massive amounts of drama included, but they’re also smart and funny and curious and inventive and fun! They are my favorite age to teach because they really think about things and there’s nothing more exciting than engaging a young person’s mind.
  45. I’ve learned that gratitude is one of the most powerful forces in the world—and I’m so thankful to have Someone to be grateful to! But I’ve also learned that gratitude must be expressed in order to have any impact. So I have become very intentional about thanking people in my life, from wait staff to checkout clerks to friends and family. I’m so thankful for everything they do!
  46.  As a young girl in boarding school, I had to learn to write letters. I love modern technology and the immediacy of e-mail. But a real letter on real paper trumps an e-mail every time. Many people feel this way, so I’m trying to remember to take the time to sit down and write notes to people I care about from time to time. I know how much I love to receive mail!
  47. I’ve learned that a sense of humor can help you get through almost anything—but a joke at someone else’s expense is deplorable. I prefer humor that doesn’t hurt anyone.
  48.  I learned to be hospitable by growing up in a hospitable home—but it’s something that can, of course, be learned at any age. The Bible says we are to be “given” to hospitality. It doesn’t add, “but only if you’re rich and have a perfect house and are a gourmet cook.” I cringe when I think of how my house has sometimes looked when I invited someone over—but I still don’t regret it. And I never invite someone over with the expectation of a return invitation. I just pray I’ll be a blessing to everyone who walks through my door.
  49. I’ve also learned, actually, to make a point of having people over that I know will not be able to reciprocate—singles and college kids who are far from home and family. Or young families with multiple kids who virtually never get asked over for dinner. It’s an enjoyable way to minister to someone else and be a blessing. And it motivates me to keep my house from deteriorating any further than it already has.
  50. I’ve learned not to stop dreaming. I’m trying to be better at following through, at writing down the steps I need to take to reach some of my goals—and then doing them.
  51.  I’ve learned to never go anywhere without a pocketknife and a pair of scissors (the scissors can be part of the pocketknife).
  52. I’ve learned to not turn the TV on just to see what’s on. TV is an incredibly effective time waster, although I feel a little less guilty about it since I am always also knitting.
  53.  I’ve learned that video/computer games are in a league of their own when it comes to wasting time. I loathe them in all their permutations, but also understand that very few others agree with me.
  54. I have learned there is no gift on earth more precious than the gift of having your family together and watching them revel in each other’s company.
  55.  I’ve known for a long time that pantyhose are evil and I never wear them anymore.
  56.  I’ve learned that for me, sugar is both evil and addicting. I have proven repeatedly that I can’t eat it in moderation, so I avoid it completely now. No serious person would claim that sugar has any nutritional benefit. Its primary function seems to be to make food taste so good that you just keep eating and eating and eating . . .
  57.  I’ve learned that high heels are also evil, no matter how attractive they may appear. And they are so very bad for my messed-up, arthritic feet.
  58. I’ve learned to love spending time outdoors whenever I can, even when it’s hot, cold, rainy, or windy outside. God created this planet just for us and it is full of ever-changing beauty that I will miss if I just go from building to car and back again.
  59.  I’ve learned to stop and watch as many sunsets and sunrises as I can. God provides them for free every single day.
  60. I’ve learned that when all else fails, and even if nothing has failed at all, I can still make myself a cup of tea, and savor every sip!

I Love To Tell the Story

As I teeter on the brink of a milestone birthday, I share one of my lifelong favorite hymns—appropriate for someone who has always been a storyteller!

I Love To Tell the Story

A. Katherine Hankey

I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true;
It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

Refrain

I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

I love to tell the story; more wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams.
I love to tell the story, it did so much for me;
And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.

Refrain

I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.

Refrain

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

Refrain

Watercolors & Books

One thing about teaching every day is that I have no choice but to do my grocery shopping on Saturday morning—and I can’t do it early because Aldi doesn’t open until 9:00 a.m. So this morning I left to put gas in the car and then arrive at Aldi right before it opened. There was quite a rush to the door!

I hurried through the store and then drove home so I could at least start putting stuff away before dashing off to my watercolor class, which has also been moved to Saturdays now. I was a few minutes late and there were only two of us in addition to our hostess.

Our assignment today was to paint a trio of paper bags. The challenge was to show the light and dark areas of each bag, depending on where the shadows fell from our point of view. I did my best, but I’m not going to pretend the end result was identifiable as representing paper bags! Then I tried to paint a sunset and I messed it up and it basically looked like a toddler got into my paints and had a field day. But I still enjoyed it . . .  and I needed the break.

I came home and watched a video with Lina and did a few other things before going back to Kilgore to the very same bookstore again—but this time just to take some books in and get more tea, this time with my daughter. To be honest, I really should have stayed home and gotten some work done—but the next few days are going to be SO busy and the last few days have also been very  busy, and I just really needed to relax a little.

By the time we returned home, it was time to make supper. Looking forward to seeing Mercy and Daniel tomorrow!

Solstice

So how did you spend the longest day of the year? I had a class to teach this morning, and then shortly after it ended I was on my way to the other side of town to meet my friend Kathy for lunch. We are old friends who don’t have compatible schedules, so we usually only see each other once a year in the summer.

So anyway, we had a nice visit over lunch, which she paid for as an early birthday treat for me. I had a gift for her too—a jar of my fabulous lemon curd which I made last night and which was waiting in a cooler in my car. She’s a big fan of my lemon curd—but who wouldn’t be? (Well, Flynn isn’t, but he doesn’t like lemons.)

I had a couple more errands to run, and then I arrived home to find that Jasper’s new boots had arrived. He was a happy guy. He wore them to mow the lawn and said they were very comfortable. Maybe tomorrow I can show you a photo.

This evening my husband and I watched a movie while waiting for Lina to return from her trip. She arrived home when we were almost at the end. Now she has a lot of packing and sorting to do before she moves out in a couple of weeks!

Now the days will begin to shorten, giving me hope that our brutal summer will eventually come to an end . . .