Thursday, February 4, 2016

Saving Grace

In June of 2014 my then 8 months pregnant daughter and another seminary wife took their combined 7 children ages 2 to 10 to the Shaw Nature Reserve in St Louis for the day. The first thing they saw was a pond with a walk all around it and numerous docks for the kids to explore and see things in the water. They all went out onto the first dock they came to and the kids had a great time looking down into the water seeing fish, turtles, water beetles, etc.

As they were leaving the first dock Sarah heard a quiet splash and turning around realized they were down to 6 children. She says time stood still as she hurried to the edge of the dock where she thought the sound came from. Looking down she saw her 4 year old Sam's face, looking up at her, his eyes wide with terror, from about 6 inches below the surface of the water. He didn't move or struggle, he just stood there, his feet stuck in the muddy pond bottom. She has no idea how she did it with her pregnant belly or how long it took, but she pulled him out of the water and onto the dock. Amazingly, he self aspirated and seemed fine and wanted to finish out the day with the other kids so they kept going. 

He was a little trooper, wearing wet clothes all day without complaining. Sarah prayed over him, concerned that he might have nightmares about the water.

On the way home, Sam fell asleep in his car seat. When he woke up his big brother, Ben, asked him if he had any dreams. Sam said "yes, but not bad ones. I dreamed Jesus saved me out of the dirty water."

I am struck by how clearly this illustrates the need for each of us. We are all, at some point, stuck in the mud of sin, overwhelmed and drowning in our inability to save ourselves. And Jesus is there ready and willing to pull us up, lift us out of our despair and into his marvelous light. 

Psalm 40: 12-13 For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me. Be pleased O Lord, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me.

Romans 3: 23-25 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. 

Ephesians 2: 8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Eldon, not the mountain, the man.

I was on my way home from work today when I could have sworn I saw Eldon. I saw him from the back. A small statured man with a shock of silver hair holding a sign, asking for money. And then I thought, "no way, Eldon never holds a sign and he works whenever he can." And then, I remembered, Eldon passed away last March.

Psalm 116:15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

He was a kind man with a sweet heart. I thought he was in his 70s but he was only in his 50s. I think the fact that he had no teeth made him look older than he was. And he had a hard life, with no family around to help out. We would see him around town often. He would always ask for a few bucks for coffee and then ask if we knew about any work he could do. Once we saw him walking to church and picked him up. He was pretty consistant in church attendance. Last year he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Yes, he smoked, and no, he didn't quit. The chemo was really hard on him. He wasn't healthy to begin with and he seemed to get more and more frail every time we saw him. The last time we saw him was at Safeway. We bought him a coffee and a Starbucks gift card. He seemed too weak to stand but didn't want anything except the coffee. The next thing we heard he was hospitalized. The Deacons visited him and he was talking about getting out and finding work. And then, he was gone.

I don't want to forget him. Do any of you Flagstaff peeps have a good memory of Eldon? If you do, please leave a comment. I would love to read your memory.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Do not be anxious.

There is an almost constant stream of humanity in our street. Children, playing or riding thier bikes to and from school, and adults; the poor, the homeless, the mentaly ill, the physically disabled. This is in part because we live in Sunny Side, the poorest neighborhood in Flagstaff, AZ and partly because we live across from a food bank; the Family Food Center gives out sack lunches during the day and at 4:30 they start serving dinner to anyone who shows up, no questions asked.

Matthew 25:35-36 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.

I hear voices raised in argument, murmered conversations, drunken yelling, different accents, languages, English, Spanish, Navajo. When there are brawls, the police come. When there is real illness, an ambulance comes. Its a busy place.

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

This morning as I opened the front curtains I heard low voices speaking. There was a young couple, maybe in their 20s, walking in front of our house. As I watched, they stopped to rest. She had a little dog on a leash, he was pulling a wheeled suitcase, they both wore heavy backpacks. He stretched his arms, they spoke, he smiled at her, he was missing his front teeth. He lifted the suitcase and shook his head, smiled at her again and started to pull it along as they continued walking.

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

I have tears in my eyes and the tightness of fear in my chest. Sadness for their situation and my helplessness to fix it for them; and fear, not of them but for them. What becomes of the young displaced people in our society? How did they get to this point in their lives? And how close are any of us to being in their place?

Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The hard road.

I heard from my brother this week. He sent me a picture of our dad taken last May. It came as a bit of a shock. I haven't seen my dad in 30 years. Thirty years. That's a long time, a very long time, more than half my life. He has aged, so do we all.

At first I was pleased to know he is alive and well. He appears happy, in good health, and is doing useful work with the Alzhiemers Association. Yup, I was happy to see the photo. And then all the negative emotions came flooding back. Wounds I thought had healed were re-opened.

He abandoned our family when I was 6. He came back after a few months. Three years later, when my parents divorced, he abandoned us again; he had visitation rights but rarely saw us. As an adult I worked to build and maintain a relationship with him and it appeared he was working towards that also. And then he and his wife just disappeared. I called him at work but someone strange answered the phone, he had sold his business. I called his house but  the phone had been disconnected. I called his mom, his sister, my siblings, to no avail. He was just gone. I felt as if I had been slapped, as if I could never trust again. I was so angry and so hurt. He broke my heart.

Eventually his sister found him, living 20 minutes from his mother. So we have known where he is and known just as surely that he wants nothing to do with any of us. And to this day we don't know why. All I have are questions. What causes a man to leave his entire family? He gave me a Bible when I was 6, inside he wrote "Daddy will always love and pray for you." Is that true? Was it ever true? Does he know or care anything about any of us? Does he know or care that he has great-grandchildren?

I get that his dad abandoned him before he was born and he has his own pain to deal with. I get that he is not perfect and I can't expect him to be. I get that family can be difficult and complicated. And it would be really easy to blame this all on his current wife. After all, she was deeply involved it the many layers of deception.

There is a raw place inside me that wants to hurt them both. To expose their actions. To say to the employer, the circle of influence: This is what they did, this is how they treated us, don't trust them, they are selfish and evil. In reality, though, all I want is release from the pain.

So it comes down to forgiveness. Am I willing to let go of the desire for revenge? Am I willing to pray for them, for their salvation, for their health and wellfare? Am I willing to bless them? Forgiveness is the hard road and it is only through forgiveness that I will be free from this pain. And so I am in process. I am willing to forgive and aware that I am not able to fully forgive yet. I pray for God to work His forgiveness in me and I am praying for their salvation, health and wellfare. I bless them from afar. I might even send a Christmas card this year. The pain is begining to ease.

Monday, April 14, 2014


When I started knitting to sell, I had a hard time finding patterns for the yarn I had to make the hats I wanted to make. So I started experimenting and eventually found what worked for me. These are the free patterns you will find on my site. I try to give the yarn size and gauge in the hopes that they will be usable. They are free because I am pretty sure you would be able to figure it out for your self anyway. This is just a little boost in the right direction. I hope you enjoy them. I have a bit of trouble with the whole computer thing so you will have to copy and paste in order to keep the patterns. Let me know how they come out, I would love to hear.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

 I love knitting. The stitches are neat and tidy lining up like soldiers in perfect rows. Knitting gives cadence, pattern, order. It makes sense visually and mathematically and if I make a mistake I can rip it out and start over.

I need structure in my life. That doesn't make me special in any way, I believe we all require routine and the assurance of knowing where things are and what happens next. Visual rhythm, the pattern of waves on sand, the repetition of line and color in fabric, these things give me a sense of the harmony I crave. So, the lava rock with the black stained concrete grout on my walls is disturbing, even ugly. The contrast between the beauty I desire and the dark rough stone is glaring.

Life is this way. I have a plan all lined out: stuff to get done and meetings to attend and places to be and things to buy and books to read and reality intervenes. A grandson gets sick at school and suddenly the day and my plans are in chaos. I drop everything, drive to the school, pick him up and bring him home. His cheeks are too pink and his eyes too bright with fever. We settle down with string games together snuggled under a blanket. A sweet quiet time with a precious little boy and I am aware of the beauty in the unexpected, the gift of slowing down, the delicious pleasure of spending time, taking time to simply be.

Yes there is charm and grace in order, in the predictable but it is in bending to the unusual, the unexpected that I discover beauty in myself and the truth of who I am.

The little grandson goes home with his mother and I am left gazing at the lava rock on the wall, still unable to see beauty. It is the ugly beautiful and I am trying to embrace it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

As you can see, the blouse is partly constructed. I think, when I cut it out I was going for a color match with the skirt and not absolute authenticity. The blouse fabric is a soft flowing polyester charmeuse with a cotton calico lining in the cuffs, collar and placket. The cream and pink print looks pretty with the taupe solid. I plan to use pink Swarovsky crystals and silver tone buttons to embellish.
I am using Folkwear pattern 120 in the child's size 10. Not at all sure how the sizing compares to whatever is considered standard in store bought. Will have to do some research. This blouse will measure 32 inches at the chest so the most a child can measure at the chest is 30 inches and really, 28 inches would be better.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Yardage Requirement for 3 Tier Skirt

(Directions shown are for 36 inch long skirt)

1. Determine the desired finished length of the skirt by measuring from waist to mid calf or ankle. (36”) Divide that number by 3 and add 1 inch. (36/3=12+1=13) This is the length to cut for each tier.

2. You will need 2 cuts for the top tier, 4 for the middle and 8 for the lower; 14 cuts in all. So multiply 13 by 14 and add 5 additional inches for the waist band. (13x14=182+5=187)

3. Divide the 187 inches by 36 inches to get required yardage. (187/36=5.19) Round up to 5 ¼ yards.

Keep in mind that cotton shrinks and is often wound on the bolt crooked so plan on purchasing at least ½ yard extra. For this 36” skirt you should purchase at least 5 ¾ yards of fabric.

4. Before cutting you will want to pre-shrink cotton fabric. I usually wash in warm water with mild detergent to remove any sizing. Dry in dryer on hottest heat setting. Remove immediately and iron lightly to remove any deep wrinkles, being careful not to pull the fabric out of shape.

5. Fold the fabric in half length wise and you are ready to start cutting.

6. Use your predetermined tier length (for this skirt 13 inches) and cut.

7. Assemble using ½ inch seam allowance.

If you would prefer to purchase the skirt click here

Part 3

The skirt is finished. I like it. The embellishment is more subtle than I expected but I can always add more sparkle.  
Traditionally Navajo skirts are gathered to a straight waist band with a slit opening and are often closed and adjusted for size with a safety pin. They are made from either cotton calico or velvet and are sometimes trimmed with rickrack.
So this skirt fails these "traditional" tests; The waist is elastic, the fabric crinkle cotton and the trim crystals. However, the hem interest, pink satin bow and pink Swarovski crystals are really pretty.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Part  2

I have always loved the look of broomstick pleated skirts but have hated the work involved; wet the skirt, bind it tightly to a broomstick to form the long vertical pleats and wait (forever) for it to dry. Not so bad except the skirt will eventually be worn and get dirty. The whole process has to be repeated with each washing.
So, for this skirt I chose light weight crinkle cotton gauze; the look of broomstick pleats without the work! And I stand by my choice, even though assembling the garment while not stretching out the pleats is proving to be a challenge.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Part 1
About 7 years ago I started sewing for the students at Puente , a tri-lingual magnet school in Flagstaff, AZ. Students are enrolled in either the Spanish/English or Navajo/English programs of study. Each year the school puts on a Spring Cultural Dance event. Students perform with their own grade/class on stage in full costume (aka regalia). Its a very colorful, entertaining and educational evening.
My involvement started when my oldest grandson was in Kindergarten in the Navajo/English class. I made a traditional Navajo red velvet shirt for him to dance in a traditional Navajo round dance. I continued to make shirts for him and his younger brothers every year. Gradually I started sewing for other students to make a little extra cash.
Three years ago, I decided to do some spec sewing. Translated, that means I designed and cut out a lovely skirt and blouse set. And that's as far as it went. The un-sewn outfit has been sitting in a plastic grocery bag through two moves and umpteen cleaning/organizing rotations. Today, I opened the bag and decided to start sewing. I'll let you know how it goes.