Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Tea - An Attempt at Normal

I have learned through the years that when normal has gone by the wayside, just try to live as close to normal as possible. So I will be here on Sundays and other days when I can see better.

The infection is gone (thank God!) but I still cannot see in my right eye.  I described it to my doctor as looking through thick Jello, only able to see light and shadows.

The situation, while frustrating, has provided some amusing moments.  You know the kind... when you have to laugh or cry and you choose to laugh.  I have now poured water close to the coffee maker instead of into the carafe a few times.  That part of the kitchen counter is getting a good cleaning.

I have jabbed my finger with the needle at the end of the flexpen after taking my insulin a few times... while trying to put the cap back on to the pen. Ouch.  We will not describe how close we came to chopping the end of a finger off while fixing dinner a couple of times.  Let's just say we will not attempt a fine chop of onions until I can see again clearly.

All prayers appreciated.

This has been one of those seasons of time when I think of the Book of Job, although it would be an embarrassment to compare my simple lack of comfort to what He went through.  However, I have long been thankful that Job is in the canon of scripture and I am thankful to those ancient men of old who so carefully transcribed God's Word through millennia.  I need the message of Job, the comfort of Psalms, the hope found in the prophets.

Life this year has been hard.  There is just no getting around it.  I'm pretty sure we all go through seasons when there are multiple trials swirling around us.  I learned long ago that if one tries to reason the whys, it only makes it worst.  Instead we have to use the times to draw near to God and trust that He will bring us through "the valley of the shadow of death"... which to me signifies all life altering trials.

Sometimes there is an actual end to the trials while at other times He gives the Grace for us to continue in spite of them.  I heard a story recently of a man who had gone through terrible torture for his faith in a foreign prison.  He said that, while he is very glad to be out of there, sometimes he misses the presence of God he had that caused him to be able to survive the torture.

While most of us will never be imprisoned and tortured for our faith, we are in the midst of the great Battle of the Ages.  It has only been in the last few years when I fully realized that Battle began far before the creation of this world.  It began when Lucifer first thought he was on the same level as God and began the great war of the ages.

Wendy Alec wrote a series of books called Chronicles of Brothers.  I have only read Book One, The Fall of Lucifer, in the series of four (so far) books but it was fascinating.  In it, she paints a picture with words of Lucifer's fall and the the subsequent creation of the earth.  (It was good for a first novel.)

I normally do not go in for speculative fiction but I had heard good things about this series.  It is fiction and therefore not necessarily the way things happened but it did cause me to understand that the battle between Good and evil existed long before Eden.  That is what fiction is good at doing, expanding our imagination.

This small blue planet is simply put, the battlefield between Good and evil at the moment.  Bad things happen to good people.  God tells us in the Word that in this world, we will have tribulation.  However... and this is the most important truth... when we accept the salvation Jesus offers us then we are never without a Savior.  Here and there.

He told his Father in the Book of John that He is not asking for Him to take us out of this world.  In the 17th Chapter, he instead asks that God will take us through it all.  He does.  He gives His strength when we think we cannot go on.  His mercies are new every morning.

I once heard that this lifetime is the only one we will have when we can bring God a thankful heart in the midst of trials.  If we can believe James when he says we should be thankful for trials... I think this is at least part of what he is talking about.  God will reward those who remain faithful even on this fallen planet.

Let us not give up because we are weary. 

There have been some very good times, such as following both of my kids and their families vicariously on their vacations.  Mr. & Mrs. Christopher drove to California with her dad, stopping at National Parks along the way.  Mrs. Christopher's mom and her sister flew to California with Piper once they arrived.

Stephanie's family spent three weeks in Europe on their long planned for adventure.  Through photos and little movies Stephanie put together, I followed them as they landed in Scotland, enjoyed a few days in a farmhouse in England near the Lake District, visited Sarah (formerly Clarkson) and lovely buildings in Oxford, and went sightseeing in London.  Then onto Rome and Paris before flying to Ireland to spend time with family.

I am thankful for their lovely trips and that everyone arrived home safe and sound.   Oh, and little Miss Piper turned two this month.  Can you believe it?  My own birthday is coming up again already and I'm amazed at how fast the year has gone by.  Tempus is fugiting.

I owe some dear friends each a note, which I will write as soon as I can see straight... or at least make a very imperfect attempt.  Prayerfully that will be soon.  Much affection to each of you.

Mentioned in this Blog Post
The Fall of Lucifer by Wendy Alec... here.

Disclaimer: Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

A Quick Update

Well, the series of three office visits to the retinal specialist to receive four injections each time in my eye is over (actually, one of the injections was to take liquid out of the eye to relieve pressure).  Thank, God! 

He even opened his office on the 4th of July so I could get the last series of injections on time. He once told me the one thing we didn't want to happen is for one of my eyes to get infected and now I know why.

I still cannot see out of my right eye but the intense pain caused by the infection is not nearly as bad and I'm overall feeling better.  Because I have to limit screen time, I still cannot blog.  Hopefully by next week, I can write something out on paper and then just type what I have written... as opposed to staring at a blank screen for awhile while the next sentence is being formed in my brain.

This has been a difficult year and I appreciate all of you so very much.  Thank you for your prayers and such.  In the universal battle between Good and evil... God wins.  :)

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Eye Emergency

I started having problems with my right eye this week and ended up seeing my retinal specialist in an emergency appointment yesterday.  The news was not good, I have developed an infection in that eye.  I cannot see anything but light and shapes.

I had four injections yesterday, will go back for three injections on Monday, and I even have to get three more injections on the 4th of July.  If those don't work to clear the infection and restore my sight, then he is talking about surgery.

However, I'm depending on prayer and medicine.

Needless to say, screen time has to be limited as it really hurts my eyes.  I will pop in mid-week if there is anything to report on how the injections are working.  Could use your prayers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Once Upon a Farm, a review


Fans of Rory and Joey will appreciate the stories told in this book although I found it a little hard to follow at times.  Fans will enjoy reading about buying the farm, how Joey loved the farm, and other interesting aspects of family life.  Reading about how Rory and his family has been recovering from Joey's death was moving.

The one thing that gives me reservations about recommending it fully is the chapter Rory has discussed in interviews already.  I can fully understand a parent showing love and compassion to a daughter who has come out as a lesbian.  No less than his other daughter who admits to being an atheist.  We love our children regardless of their decisions.

However, to say that his daughter's lesbian lover is an answer to prayer and condone a same sex marriage by having the wedding on the farm will most likely have an adverse affect on other fans as it did to me. 

Once Upon a Farm was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

More information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Keeping strong in the midst of difficulties


I've been asked how I'm doing now, after the crisis of early spring.  I wish I could say it is all resolved but life doesn't always work like a sixty minute drama on TV.  However, the worst of the crisis appears to be over.  I hope.

We receive grace, like manna, one day at a time.  This past crisis has affected relationships, our finances, and to be honest... how I view the future.  However, the Word promises that He holds His flock in the palm of His hand and that is a good place to be held.

I've written about the various ways I get through the hard times, those days while waiting for prayers to be answered and solutions provided.  Always at the top of the "helping to get through" list is drawing nearer to God.

I'm a good prayer, I find it easy to talk to Him throughout the day.  I'm not as good at intense Bible Study these days but I read devotionals and the Word (especially Psalms) in times of trouble.

I do read but as much as I love books and The Book... sometimes I find it hard to concentrate on reading if I'm in a crisis.  When circumstances have lifted a bit, I then enjoy reading again.  I have even accepted two books to review so that in itself is proof there is hope.

My favorite way to just get away from it all these days is to lose myself in a really good TV mystery.  I know it isn't very spiritual but they provide a much needed mental vacation. A couple ladies I love run to British Period flicks based on Jane Austen's books while another watches one of the modern Superhero movies.

Currently, thanks to recommendations from blog readers when I mentioned loving Wallander and Shetland, I've been watching Vera on the iPad.  Even though I can only download one episode at a time (my iPad is now considered ancient) and it takes two to three hours with our rural DSL... it is worth the wait.

I'm almost through with Season Three and it has provided the kind of mental escape that was needed.  I will purchase Season Four in late July with credit, the downloads are quite inexpensive.  Until then, I just may have to pop the one Miss Marple DVD I own in the DVD player.  (I've loved mysteries since my Nancy Drew days)

There is something about Great Britain and mysteries, whether a more cozy mystery style such as Miss Marple or the grittier Shetland... they certainly know how to write and produce mysteries to enable us to lose oneself as we figure out "who done it".  No wonder they were popular during times of war.

I have been traveling vicariously on a trip "out West" with my son and daughter-in-law's vacation photos and I have been in Scotland and England with the posted photos from my daughter's family.  Technology is a good thing when they take me along via Instagram and Facebook.  ;)

If this were mid-winter, I'd probably be spending more time in the kitchen either baking or making soup.  It has been too hot, humid, and rainy for the kitchen to be a place of refuge most days.  Although currently on the stove, there is a roasted chicken (leftovers) being simmered to turn into chicken stock.

That is a rather roundabout way of answering the question.  I'm doing fine.  Hanging in there with God's help (always with HIS strength).  I am convinced that God doesn't waste trials.

They are there for a purpose and I always ask His wisdom to teach me in the trial, whether it was brought on from the actions of someone else or me... God is the Master Weaver of our lives and He is well able to use what the enemy intended for evil, not only for our good but for our growth.  He provides the way through to the end.

Just this week, I received a gift from a friend that was something I've wanted to try for a very long time.  Partly it was the gift itself that brought joy but also it was very much the love behind the gift.  God was using a friend to show me His love and compassion, giving the gentle nudge to keep walking through the time of trial.

I need to remember that the next time a friend is experiencing trials.  It will nudge me into writing that card or even just sending an email.  So often I think of blog friends, those I have not corresponded with since Christmas... who were going through very severe times of trial.  I need to let them know I'm remembering and praying and that God is with them.

That alone helps us not to waste a trial.  The gift of empathy. 

Mentioned in this Post
Vera Amazon Video (Season one was okay.  I thought it got better with each episode. Seasons two and three were fabulous for those of us who like a broody mystery)... here.

Vera DVD set Seasons 1-5... here.  On my Wish List! 

Shetland Seasons One and Two on DVD.. here. (Based on the books written by the same author as Vera.  For those who like a darker, broodier mystery.)

Wallander Season One on DVD... here.  (For those who like a very flawed, broody hero with similar stories.  Kenneth Branagh is an amazing actor.)

Miss Marple... there are family wars over which actress portrayed the best Miss Marple!  I think they all offer something to enjoy but this is my favorite and this DVD series has been remastered, it looks beautiful... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.  I thank you.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Dealing with the heat in the garage


It has been so hot and humid here that even with air conditioning, the air feels "soupy".  My original plan was to re-do my "now bleached" shelves that are in the garage where I keep my overflow items from the kitchen (although there are not a lot of items to put there right now).  It is just too humid.

I don't worry about food freezing in winter because the shelves I use are up against the wall to the house.  It stays pretty much above freezing on those shelves. 

We live far enough north that we normally only have a short period of time of very hot weather. However, this has been a record breaking hot spring so far and summer looks like it will continue with the heat.  So only those items that 1) are not affected by heat, and/or 2) get used quickly are on the shelves.

There are a few food items I never put in the garage.  For instance, chocolate of any kind stays indoors.  I have large jars that hold such items as beans, rice, and... chocolate chips... on the red shelves in the kitchen. 

Mary Berry often says that chocolate "melts at the temperature of a child's pockets"  and if one thinks about it, that is not too hot.  So any kind of chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, cinnamon chips, etc. stay inside.

Once the worst heat of summer has passed, then it is safer to once again stock the overflow shelves.  It is useful that it corresponds in most places with the times of harvest and when some canned vegetables go on sale (selling last year's items to make room for the latest harvest).  Not to mention those people I admire who can their own produce, meat, etc.

I've never had a problem with whole grains, beans, lentils, converted rice, etc. going through the heat of an average summer.  However, most flours do not hold up well to heat (and I always place bags in the freezer for a week or two when I bring them home).  Brown rice goes rancid quickly in heat.  Most food type oils need to be kept from too much heat while being stored for any length of time.

I haven't had a problem with pasta kept in the garage through an average summer.  I store extra boxes of pasta in their original boxes and keep them all in a Rubbermaid style container.  (I should mention that these containers were purchased over a period of about twenty years!)

I have another set of shelves in the garage that hold nonfood items, paper items, small appliances, etc.  That has been a huge help dealing with a rather small kitchen.  I already had the paper items in a Rubbermaid style container (thank God!) but the mice did a number on the cords of the small appliances.  I had to get rid of a couple and I have my blender and my Crockpot out to clean and carefully check the cords soon.

That is why I finally gave in and bought mouse traps that are sticky.  They had been recommended by the employee of that department at Menard's awhile ago but I couldn't stand the thought of the mice getting caught that way.  So I tried other ways that did not work once there were so many.

After seeing all the damage they did, I had to get more serious about making sure it does not happen again.  Prevention will help.  Everything that would attract them is protected as much as possible.  I was told mice can eventually chew through even Rubbermaid but it takes them a very long time.

I believe it as I have a large Rubbermaid container that was kept in a barn at one time and part of the lid was chewed away, although I'm pretty sure that was not done by a field mouse.

So these days when I find a good stock up sale, sometimes the items will stay in the Study until the intense heat of summer is over.  I still believe our pantry should be as deep as we can afford and that we have room for... and that we have time and effort to keep organized.  My pantry is a fraction of what it once was since we are on a fixed income but it is easy for me to keep organized.

I was just re-reading a recommendation this morning by the late David Wilkerson (ie: The Cross and the Switchblade book and movie).  He had recommended to his congregation and to those who received his newsletter that they should have a 30 day supply of food stocked at all times. 

He understood that we never know what will happen in this world that could stop the transit of food and other necessary items.  Not to mention a job loss, illness, or various other ways we cannot spend our money on necessities that are available.

He certainly could hear from God.  Just prior to 9/11, he felt the leading of God to have his Times Square Church prepare to feed people.  After the terrorist attack, they had everything ready and fed numerous first responders immediately and for quite some time.

Summer tends to pass quickly, even for those of us who do not care for hot weather, so I will be working on getting the overflow shelves ready for cooler weather.  Not to mention those items that can be stored on those shelves now.  Protected from tiny intruders, of course.