Hazy Celestial Moment

We were not in the “Totality” area but I was determined to document it nevertheless.

I didn’t have any special glasses, nor did I make a pin-hole box; I really didn’t care if I could actually look into the sun or not.  I was just basking in the excitement of the moment and I have Internet for live feeds of locations where the view was spectacular.

 

My set-up shot was the pre-eclipse of the sun brightly shining through the tree. Then a broad view of the sky.  The next two shots show a little bit of haze, that is all we got.

It was an odd realization, the slight haze, not sure if it really was from the eclipse or my tired, staring eyes, too hopeful for something to happen.  But, as time passed, it was clear again and I was convinced I had witnessed the haze left by the moon blocking some sun.  Pretty special, as minor as our area experienced, it was real!

As you can see from my backyard, we sure had the perfect weather for viewing, if only we had been directly in the path.  But, alas, I experienced an event closer than I ever will again.

Not to let a perfect day be wasted, we jumped into our swimsuits and drove to the beach.  The water was a bit choppy.  The shore was full of life.  Not many people, just a covering of tiny crabs who reacted to the waves that rushed over them.  There were birds.  Little ones who pecked in the sand and must have been feeding on whatever the tiny crabs were, but there were larger birds who were feeding on the crabs.  There is always a cycle of life going on.

DSCF3444ed

It is pleasing when the temperatures come down at least a little.  I’m tired of the mid nineties.  In fact, the heat during the day does make me tired for real.  We are planning to hit the beach a couple times a week now.  At least for a while.  We can plan a longer stay than we did for “eclipse day”.

All this large scale event experience makes me feel insignificant on the grand scheme of creation.  But, then, I, too, am a creation of God!  This makes me feel very loved.

Thanks for checking in on me today, have a light filled day basking in God’s love everyone!

Smile!

Joyce Ann

Just Keep Asking

Just like the Canaanite woman did in the Gospel of Matthew.

She knew that this man passing through her region was the one to heal her daughter.  She knew he was the son of David. She knew he was God and she was not going to back down from beseeching him to heal her daughter.

Have you ever prayed to God for something really important and nothing happened?  Was it like God was not hearing you, ignoring you, perhaps had abandoned you?

I have certainly been there!  Unlike this Canaanite woman, I did give up.  I even turned my back on God; I’m very ashamed to confess.  I am blessed to have been drawn back to the all knowing and loving Creator in spite of my disobedience.

The message today struck me hard.  I know now that sometimes when God seems to be silent and not answering our prayers there is always something deeper going on.

Looking back now at situations I realize the error of what I was asking for on various occasions.  Some things were not the best course of action for me, although I was sure it would have been at the time.  Other times what I was praying for wasn’t the best option for those I was praying about.  I’ve looked real hard at my life and understand a little more than I did before mass today.

If I know I am asking for something righteous and truly in line with God’s way and the teachings we have from Jesus at our fingertips to learn, then I should never back down, never stop praying.

The Canaanite woman didn’t.  She knew who she was talking to and she didn’t care that she was way out of line for speaking to him (first of all a woman in that time was never to speak to a strange man, and especially one of authority, and it was clear that this Jew was someone!), and besides Canaanites were hated by the Jews, yet she persisted to ask help of this man.

Why would she do that?  He had ignored her, then he insulted her as a Jew might telling her he had been sent to take care of the “House of Israel”, not the likes of her.

But she persisted because she knew this was more than a Jewish man, this was God!

Of course Jesus heard her, and he wasn’t really ignoring her, even when his disciples with him tried to encourage him to move away from her.  He was testing her.

I realize better now what this means, that God will test us.  Not like your professors who want to write a hard quiz and really don’t care if you pass or not, but like a good teacher that wants to find out that you understand and “get” the material that is important for getting along in this life.

You would think the humiliation he dealt her next would have silenced her.  Remember that she and her countrymen were thought of as lower that low.  Jesus presented one more test when he told her it wasn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the little dogs.

Wow.  Talk about a slap in the face.  That was cruel.  Did she quit?  No!  She knew this was more than a man and that he was her only hope for saving her daughter.

Verse 27 – “She retorted, ‘Ah yes, Lord; but even little dogs eat the scraps that fall from their masters’ table.”

Jesus already knows what is in our hearts.  He didn’t have to execute this terrible quiz for her benefit.  Anyone listening to this exchange needed this example.  We, today, have it documented in God’s Holy Word.  If we choose to read it and be led to its understanding by the aid of the Holy Spirit, that exchange will also benefit us.

I wonder if she ever doubted, like I have.  During this exchange, did it ever cross her mind that in spite of this being the Lord, would he not help her so she might as well just turn and walk away?  We do not know her thoughts.  The one thing that is important is that she did not stop believing the Lord God would help her and that she would not turn away.

We just have to keep asking.

My faith has been strengthened by today’s message, and I hope you will read it for yourself and take it to heart.   Matthew 15:21-28 

This evening I made a card, but I’m not sharing it on my blog.  It is a sympathy card for a friend who’s father has passed away.  I think this should be left private between us.

I do have two cards that I’ve finished in the last couple of days just so you might be inspired by something crafty after my outpouring of my soul.

 

I had some “Saving cream” paper left over from a precious challenge that I used gold embossing powder for the flower. The leaves are stamped in the same color of ink as the paper, Fun Stampers Journey Limeade Splash, and then I put clear embossing powder over it.  The Fall card was stamped on watercolor paper and I used wc pencils on it.

I leave you with this final thought – Believe in God, never give up or turn your back -your faith is stronger than you know.

Blessings,

Crafty hugs, too!

Joyce Ann

Sewing Days

A couple of days ago I made my dear granddaughter two wet bags, a doll dress with a matching diaper, and got it mailed off to her and Tiny Tot.  Kara had asked for another bag because having only one, that I had made her when Jovy was born, meant she couldn’t keep up with laundry since they go out almost every day now.  These bags can be used for other things after the diapers are gone, like swimsuits, caught in the rain, whatever is necessary to keep the wet off the floor of the vehicle.

Leia has wanted me to make her doll a Mulan dress.  Without a pattern for it, I will have to improvise.  But before I draft a pattern I want to see how the pattern I have fits her doll.  I do have some pretty brocade scraps I can make her something out of, when I know it will fit.

Next Sunday my church is having a drive for the local Genesis House, a place for homeless pregnant teenagers.  There was a list in the bulletin for “Baby Shower” items.  I don’t have any spare diapers lying around but material to make a quilt I sure do.  I just finished this quilt today.

BabyQuilt_2156

It measures 34 x 31.

So this is my 3rd day without paper crafting, but I’ve enjoyed sewing.  I was digging and found a nice large piece of flannel (2 yds aprox.) and will make two receiving blankets before the weekend also.

It is hard for my DD to get up early in the mornings, so we attended The Feast of the Assumption of Mary last evening, the vigil at 7 pm.  This is a very important day in the Catholic religion. It is the principal feast of the Blessed Virgin, the mother of Jesus Christ. (taken right off the Internet).  We had a great homily that renewed my appreciation and furthered my understanding of why we believe this and why she should be respected – other than the fact she is the mother of God.  Some facts I learned is about what is not found in Holy Scripture.  There are no references to people taking any of her remains like so many other saints were.  Nothing.  And when you think about her, she was a warrior Queen!  Just think about what you know of this young, unmarried, virgin girl and what task was set before her!

Blessings to all of you who stopped by.  Have a crafty day and shine with your beautiful smile for all whom you see.

Hugs,

Joyce Ann

A Triple Play of Emotion

Today has been one of those days that sets emotions all over the scale, quickly!  It was a morning that brought a much anticipated package and before it was over, two phone calls with sad news.

The good news is the mail lady brought my Stamp Platform!  Once opened I was overjoyed to see it and touch it and know it is everything I had hoped for.

Platform Arrived 07192017

I must tell you how happy I am with Oozak.com, the on-line store through whom I placed my order way back before production was interrupted.  It is really amazing that I got mine this early in July, and I’m thankful too.  I had a scrapbook page on my table nearly done, so needed to finish it up before I can pull anything else out to play stamping on.  I am looking forward to stamping directly on my 12 x 12 layouts now that I can place them perfectly without the horror of miss-stamping something.  I’ve pretty much only stamped background images that do not matter if they come out poorly, other images I stamp on another piece of card stock and cut it out before pasting to the page. 2017Summertimesong

Here is the just finished layout.

The papers are from a pack I recently picked up at Michaels for $7.  It’s all about Arizona, to me, for which I have a big reason to scrap such photos.

My challenge was to use a summer song.  I chose this old song.  According to Wikipedia “Summertime” is an aria composed in 1934 by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. The lyrics are by DuBose Heyward, the author of the novel Porgy on which the opera was based.  I did not know this!  Definitely before my time for real.  For this layout I let the paper do all the work, I just cut and placed.  The title letters were cut with Cricut cartridge, the “sun” stamp is from a set by Stampin’ Up!, the “dream catcher” is from a set by Fun Stampers Journey.

For the sad news number one, while waiting for daughter’s friend to come pick her up for their road trip she got a call from this friend that she had hurt her ankle.  We went over to her house to assess her situation.  With a wrapped ankle she insists on going to this event the girls have been looking forward to all year.  She may be seeking medical attention by the sound of it.  She missed the last step of her front stairs and actually heard a pop.  Oh my – that can’t be good.

After a couple errands I headed home.  I got a phone call from the Prayer Chain lady requesting prayers for the son of a couple we all know.  Brian took an overdose of his medication and is on a respirator.  Very scary.  I promised to pray as soon as I got home.  At my sacred spot, I am now calling this location my sacred spot for prayer and meditation.  It is where I can feel focused and concentrate on praying.  I felt I must read something from my Bible.  I opened it up to Psalms.  I used to sit by Joey’s bed and read to him, especially from Psalms, when he was dying at Hospice, and I sometimes do just that when I need comfort in my grief for him.  So, what I turned to I want to share with you now.

Psalm 5, Prayer for Divine Help

Hear my words, O Lord; listen to my sighing.

Hear my cry for help, my king, my God!

To you I pray, O Lord; at dawn you will hear my cry;

at dawn I will plead before you and wait.

This seemed right, as if the Holy Spirit led me here.  I shared here, not because I believe God will read blog posts on the Internet, but, in the hopes you will join me in this prayer to God for Brian’s well being and that of his family.  Also, why not pray for your loved ones too.

Child of Light

God is Light.  I am a child of God.

Did Jesus tell us that our parents do not matter?

Gospel, Matthew 10:37-42

37 ‘No one who prefers father or mother to me is worthy of me. No one who prefers son or daughter to me is worthy of me.

38 Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me.

39 Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.

40 ‘Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.

41 ‘Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes an upright person because he is upright will have the reward of an upright person.

42 ‘If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then in truth I tell you, he will most certainly not go without his reward.’

 

In our message today we read this passage from the Bible.  It has confused me many times before because it seemed contradictory to other passages that bid us to “Honor our father and mother”.

My parents were certainly a troublesome source for me.  Why would my dad walk away from a beautiful wife and a precious baby girl?  Mother was so devoted to him, she loved him with her whole being, and yet this was not enough.  I came to realize much later in life that it wasn’t fault of my mother’s nor mine, he simply was who he was, flawed like we all are.

When the beatings my step-father imparted on me became too much for my mother to tolerate, she gave in to her mother’s request to take me to live with them.  She refused to leave this abusive man because she feared his threats.  There were feelings, all those years ago, of being abandoned by her.  My grandparents were the absolute best and I loved them dearly.  But, there remained a longing for my mother who continued to refuse sanctuary for many years offered to her and each of their children by my grandparents.  She continued to live in fear until her premature death at age 37.

I have been preoccupied with thoughts of parents.  There was plenty of guilt for not having been able to get her away to safety so she could have lived a better life.  She loved our Lord and showed it by always doing good for others.  I spent some summer visits standing beside her in church, looking up at her smiling face as she worshiped and sang.  She was his faithful servant.  She is in the Light with God.

So, yeah, I have “mommy” issues.  The point of verse 37 is simple: do not put mother, father, son or daughter before God.  That’s all.  Put God first before everyone and everything.  The abuse she suffered was not about me.  It was not about what I did or did not do.  I’m not saying that if I had put God in my priorities ahead of her it would have all ended well for her.  It’s about me putting God first right now, this moment, and moving on.  After all it is only this moment in time that is truly here.  I must not get lost in my sadness of the past and have my purpose clouded.  I must let all things be for the glory of God.  I must do God’s love, be God’s love in the world.  I must place God first, put my priorities where my Light of God will shine through.

Each of us have this at our core – be the Light of God to everyone.

May Jesus Christ be with you today, and always.

 

In peace,

Joyce Ann

First Sunday of Lent 2017 Thoughts

“A Mighty Fortress is Our God”, this line from a powerful hymn still tells of the strength available to us in our time of temptation.

I’m no scholar or theologian but for me a good definition of sin is anything that takes me away from serving God. I am very aware of my greatest temptations in my daily life.  There are big and little battles to be fought.  And we can’t fight them all at one time either.  Some may be easy enough to be handled throughout the day with no more effort than to be aware of what I say.  Others have malicious roots deeply embedded in my being and require major effort.

While I work on watching what I say, I remind myself not to be critical of people I see in passing and what I say in everyday conversations so I avoid gossip.  Wouldn’t I be a much worse person than anyone I could possibly speak poorly of?  Whoever I encounter daily, passing by on the streets or while shopping, have their own burdens to bare and behaviors to deal with, so who am I to judge them?

We listened to a good lesson today – The Temptation of Jesus from Matthew chapter 4. How can any of us hope to not be tempted by sin if our Lord Jesus wasn’t exempt!  And how did Jesus respond each time?  “It is written”.  That makes me realize I need to be reading and studying the Scriptures more so I can keep them front and center in my thoughts.  We are closer to God when we hear his Word.

“The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”  quoted from Matthew chapter 4:10.

This is something I was taught early on at church.  At the beginning of the reading of the Holy Gospel I make a little sign of the cross in 3 places.  First on my forehead, then my lips and my heart.  In my head I say at each corresponding spot to remind me to keep these words ‘in my mind’, on my lips’, and ‘in my heart’.

Pastor used a tale of an Indian brave and a snake to illustrate how easily we can get fooled by temptation to sin.  The idea is that the little brave believed the lie the snake told him and got bit.  “You knew what I was when you picked me up”, said the snake.  Temptation is always a lie.  The promises are alluring, filling us with desire for something we have no business with.

What temptations are you struggling with today?  From where does your help come?  Share yours, if you will.  I’ll share mine next time too.

Exodus or Exile: Our Daily Choice

This past Sunday my pastor got me thinking about this idea of my own choices.  Two of the main studies in the Jewish Faith is the Exodus recounting when God redeemed the Jews for himself by freeing them from their Egyptian slavery and the traumatic Exile from their homeland where their Temple was destroyed along with their freedom.

The words Exodus and Exile are totally deserving of a capital E!  Not so much for most of us on a daily basis.  Nevertheless, think about the choices we have in this overall vision of our day, if you will.

Life is an exodus, a journey to where we want to be.  Daily.  What are our goals we want to accomplish?  Unless perfect people are reading this blog of mine, I’m believing many of you are like me.  I want to do better in so many areas, like relationships with others, the tasks of navigating daily chores, and enjoying my “toys”.  I want to smile more, worry less.

It may help to remember that nothing in this life stays the same.  To some degree we are all on a journey – it’s either an exodus, a day lived in freedom, or we surrender our selves to a self-appointed exile.

Be thankful Christ is with us.  If God’s light isn’t shining through brightly enough, perhaps we can find ways to let the love Jesus taught us show more.  Think about the analogy of the clay jars and add a few more holes in there.  Jesus promised that God is with us, each and every one of us, we just need to find ways for the light of His message to get out there.

So, I think I’ll start by smiling more, speaking more kindly, especially to anyone I pass in my journey.  And make more cards to actually send out.

It’s up to each of us individually – it’s either exodus or exile.  You choose.

Is the Child Free to Think?

Are you ever reminded of a time in the past that you wish you had handled differently?

When it comes to relationships I often am.  Today while shopping for a few miscellaneous things in Walmart a small child was slapped by the man pushing her cart.  She was whining a little, trying to say something she was interested in.  Kids are always wanting something when they are paraded through the aisles of a store, that’s human nature.  This particular child wasn’t even obnoxious as many I have heard tend to get when wanting something. He was loud, forceful, and totally rude.  He certainly stopped her from asking for whatever it was and there was no more whining, just a low, pitiful cry from her tiny voice.

This pushed me into instant depression, despite my efforts to let it go in my head.  When I get depressed I often revert back to all the things I’ve done wrong in my life.  I become full of regret, mostly regarding my children.

On my drive home, trying to pull myself away from dwelling in regret, I wanted to share my wisdom with someone in the hopes of lessening their potential for future regret.  It’s like that with any knowledge I get, I always think of who I want to share it with.  I had hit on this thought of a parent listening to what their child thinks without blowing them off or telling them they shouldn’t think like that, no matter what.

Since Leia is the “wind beneath my wings” I thought of things I wanted to say to her mother.  This little girl is often the reason I stay afloat some days.  If she is sad, I feel her devastation most deeply.  When she is happy and delighted about something I, too, am all smiles.

Here is what I wish I had done with my children: Listen to what they are feeling without adding judgment.  This is critical to get them to trust us with their whole being.  As it is, it seems they are only free to tell us what they think we want to hear.  What if we let them tell us about the negative thoughts, also?  Unfortunately, a parent wants to squelch that negative notion, and thereby banishing their fears.  That doesn’t seem to be working out well.  Telling a 5 year old not to have negative thoughts – how is that working out?

It’s not just about any negative thought the child has, they may have a variety of likes and dislikes they are told to forget, to keep to themselves.  Shouldn’t we try to understand all those thoughts our child has?  If we do we may better understand what makes them function as they do – sweet or naughty.

Getting a child to feel comfortable revealing anything to the parent allows for much better communication between the two.  I wish I had done that so maybe my children would have come to me with what was bothering them, with what they perceived was troubling in their life.  It is human nature to seek comfort and relief in some form or another, unfortunately, that avenue could be self-destructive.  Or, at the minimum, they can choose to distance themselves from us and we will never really know them at the heart.

What should we do then, just let them have negative thoughts?  No, we don’t want that.  What we should want if for the child to be comfortable with telling us everything because this is a test of what kind of relationship bond the two are to have later on.  We listen first and when the child is ready to hear a solution then we offer one.  I don’t believe we help them over their fear by simply telling them to “get over it”.

Here is a simplified example of an exchange.

Mom: Please go pick out your jammies, its bath time.

Child: I can’t.

Parent: Why not?

Child: My room is dark.

Parent: Well, turn on the light!

Child: I’m scared of the dark.

This is where the parent may resort to yelling at the child to get over it, right?

What if we opened up a dialogue with the child to discover what was really going on.  Maybe the child is apprehensive about what might be in the dark, or struggles to reach the right spot for the light, or doesn’t want to get the jammies because it means bath time which inevitable means bed time and wants to procrastinate against that.  It doesn’t matter what, it is a chance to explore what is going on in the child’s mind.  If it is just the fear of the dark, perhaps the child can wait for a moment and the parent will accompany the child so they both can check out what waits in the dark.  Soon enough the child lets go of the fear because so far there wasn’t anything to be afraid of for sure.  As for the rest of the reasons, the parent has honestly listened to and acknowledged the child, and moves on in the natural order of events.  Even if the child didn’t get her way, she got herself heard, and there is quite some satisfaction in that.

It doesn’t have to be complicated if we just pause before spouting out what they “should” think.  We should never tell them they are stupid for thinking that or feeling that way. They can’t help what they think at a tender age, they need to be guided by someone they can trust to understand, no matter what.

One of my biggest fears today is that I will not be understood and accepted for who I really am.  Relationships are still very hard for me, I can’t open up and share my true feelings.  It takes a good amount of openness for strong relationships with others to develop.

Let’s listen to what someone thinks, without being judgmental. Our little ones need to know that what they think just is and can be dealt with without judgment against their person, and is not something to be hushed and buried.

Tuesday Morning 15 Years Ago

Many of us have memories of that fateful Tuesday morning fifteen years ago. The empathy and deepest sympathy incurred that day are surly some of the strongest that have been shared among all the people of the world. It planted profound and intense memories.

If you are old enough, do you still vividly see in your mind’s eye the events as they unfolded? I do. Although there was no personal loss for me I still shudder when I think of what the survivors and loved ones must still feel.

My job required us to stay abreast of the latest news that could affect the state of the national special telephone equipment we had to keep running. I can still see the TV screens. I looked from screen to screen around the room, not believing what was showing on one, hoping it would be different on another. Sure enough the circuits locked up. No telephone circuit could be prepared for that amount of traffic.

Once the shock subsided the thought of my own loved ones arrived front and center. Daughter was stationed at a Master Jet base. She would be powerfully engaged in activity as an ordinance technician. I would have to wait to hear from her I knew. I believed she would be safe. Still I anxiously awaited that confirmation. My granddaughter was in my care until the end of the current school year, 5th grade. School was still in session so I knew she, too, would be cared for and that the school officials would keep them from the scary news. Her aunt, our neighbor who worked at the school, would take her home until I left work; she would keep her from fear if she realized the part the military and her mother would play in this horrendous tragedy.

I wore red, white and blue to church today. There was absolutely no mention of it today by anyone, except one woman who wore a flag-styled top. She and I spoke after the service. Did I really expect the pastor to mention it? Maybe. Does it really matter? Is there a need nine-eleven-mefor us to be verbally reminded? Probably not. Strange though.

Times have changed in 15 years. The pain eases. We look for the good out of the ashes. Literally, I just read about a photographer who was in New York covering Hewett’s US Open win when his employer assigned him to document the tragedy. There in the gray world of rubble and ash he spotted an unburned photograph of a woman and baby. It is a good story, one of simply being somewhere else when the Trade Center went down. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/special-features/in-depth/from-the-ashes-of-september-11/news-story/6171991f8bdb47ec86b401e12a014c7b

Dwelling on the past is never a good thing. The past is gone and can not be changed, that is the truth. Perhaps remembering “9-11” isn’t such a good thing. Let remembrances come upon us once in a while as they may, but make sure they leave quickly and we do not live there.

Stay in the Now, folks. That’s where it’s at!

Speaking of now, let’s get something crafty going on!

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Diverse Activities Energize Me

Switching between craft activities keeps the energy level up for continuing when I feel stale. There can be a risk, though, of leaving projects unfinished which would be counterproductive. When I get to a point where a craft project seems routine and the creative juices stop flowing that’s the time I start craving a different project. That old saying about “once it’s begun, finish it” echoes in my head, seems to be the motivation to complete whatever I’m doing, already feeling happy anticipation because of the prospects of the new project, so I switch gears and work through the current task.

My usual “switch” is between cards and scrapbook layouts with the occasional sewing something thrown in the mix. Crochet has reentered. The ladies of the church have started talk about the Christmas Cottage sale coming up early November. Ideas were being thrown out and I was encouraged to join the crocheting and knitting group that I have only visited a couple of times over the years. With the success of the “Brain GrainWheat Belly” program I have felt like being social again so I showed up this past Wednesday. How nice it was to sit and join in the conversations without that feeling of imploding from depression. I had grabbed a skein of my cotton yarn before going so I could at least work on something, even a wash cloth. Well, someone suggested that yarn would be great for the heart monitor bags they give for the old folks. After being advised of the dimensions I got started.

This week my activities have included finishing up a stack of cards to submit to Take Ten , a few scrapbook pages, a heart monitor bag, and two toppers to kitchen towels for hanging. Not to mention that my ability to socialize has taken a turn.

Since hearing of the group meetings at the camera shop I had wanted to go to them. Last night I actually went to the Nikon Users group hoping to begin to learn more about my camera. It’s a good 30 minute drive. When I pulled into the parking lot I saw a few cars but not many. I began to wonder what I should do to find them, I was picturing in my head a group standing outside because I knew the store was closed so I figured we would be told where to go once 6:30 arrived. I saw a man get out of his car and start to check doors, so I got out too. Another man approached the first. As I was walking up the man told us there was a sign saying this group was canceled because of the weather. How disappointing! And the nasty weather had passed. Oh well, that’s a step in the right direction for me even if I didn’t get to actually join the group. Next month.

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