Monday, August 24, 2015

The joy of painting

Yesterday, Nate and I were priming the one side of the house that we have scraped, and I must admit I was starting to feel a little stressed.

It's not that painting is bad work, I rather enjoy painting. It's when I look up and see what we have done and think about how much is left. I know that this will be a job we will probably be forever doing, because if you only paint one side a year there will always be painting to do.

I heard Nate talking to someone, and then he came over with a smile on his face. Our neighbor is moving, and he had approached Nate to say good-bye.

"He said that he painted his house with his wife 50 years ago and they had a ball," Nate said.

"Was he joking?" I answered, assuming that this man was remembering the annoyance of painting a house.

"No, he was serious. He said we're really lucky to be able to do this together."

What a thought. When this man looks back on his life and remembers painting his house with his wife, no matter what he felt at the time, it's a cherished memory. It's these moments that someday I will look back on with fondness, and I appreciate having someone remind me that I should enjoy even these little times that I get to spend with Nate.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Giving of your body

I remember when I was a kid and I had been in and out of the hospital several times that needles didn't bother me.

I had an IV when I got tubes, when I got tubes and had my tonsils taken out, when I got tubes and had my adenoids taken out, when I got dehydrated and had to be hospitalized. I was in the hospital so many times before I was 5 that I got birthday cards from nurses and I had "Hospital Dolly," who accompanied me through it all. Needles and all things medical were old hat.

That changed as I grew older. Needles became scarier, and eventually even finger pricks started to make me sweat.

That's why I put off donating blood for so long. I didn't even want to think about a needle in me for a second for a shot, let alone for 10 minutes while blood was drained out. I could feel my body growing warm even with the thought.

However, I finally had a volunteer at work who didn't really give me a choice. I told her I would think about it, and I got a message that she had made me an appointment. I asked Nate to come along, and I did gave blood for the first time in May.

A week or so after that I got an e-mail that my blood was sent to Colorado to be donated to someone in need.

It was that quickly, and it made an impact on someone's life.

I was walking to give blood today, and I thought about that donation. I figure, although it still makes me sweat, donating blood is a pretty easy way to help people. It's like donating your hair, it's something that doesn't really take anything to replace and it's not putting you out much, but it can make a huge difference to someone in need. Giving blood takes an hour and some guts, at least for me, but it is such an easy way to really make a difference in someone's life.

Plus, when I give blood, it takes a lot less time to replace it in my body than it does to regrow out my hair.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Poor green tomatoes

Today it stormed pretty good, compared to the drought we'd been having the rest of the summer. It was actually good, and I didn't mind the dark day.

However, when I got home, my heart dropped as I pulled into the driveway. All of my 15 tomato plants were tipped over, and I feared they had been ripped out by the root with the pounding rain and high winds we'd experienced.

As I tried to right them, I could hear branches crunching and snapping, and green tomatoes dropped off and rolled through the rest of the garden.

Tears came to my eyes as I looked at my precious plants, and the hard work that I had put in since March drained away.

I did the best that I could, but I ended up with an armful of non-ripe tomatoes that had fallen off the stalks -- which I put in the window to see if they would ripen -- and I can't imagine the poor plants are going to produce much with all their broken and drooping stems.

It made me sad and disappointed, and for a second I realized what farmers grow through when their hard work is smashed by rains, hail and tornadoes. How much more grief did they have than my small patch.

I said a quick prayer, "Thank you Lord that we have the money to buy tomato sauce even if these tomatoes don't ripen. Thank you that this is not our livelihood."

Monday, August 17, 2015

Cookies and cell phone screens

Getting ready for our fantasy NFL draft last night, I was going to make a giant cookie cake and decorate it like a football field.

I doubled the usual recipe, and since the usual recipe calls for a 9x9 round pan, I put the batter in a 9x13 pan. I let it cook nice and long and pulled it out when it was done.

"Are you sure that's done in the middle?" Nate asked.

"Yep, I checked it."

I let the cookie cool, and as it did, I slowly became concerned that it might not be as done as I thought. It was a thick cookie, and I cut it to make sure it was done but the goo at the bottom stared back at me.

"My cookie isn't done," I called up to Nate.

"What do you do?"

"I don't think there's anything I can do."

So I plopped the entire cookie into the garbage and worked on a second one with an hour to go before we were to meet at friend at a local restaurant/bar.

This time, I spread the cookie on a 16x16 pizza pan and it baked up quickly.

Before we left, Nate ran to the store and I finished up folding some laundry. He came back a few minutes later and asked me where my phone was because he tried calling me three times. I ran around the house trying to figure out where I had it, and finally stopped to think the last time that I had seen it.

"Oh no."

I ran outside, where it was pouring rain and found my phone sitting by the garden, where I had forgotten it while picking vegetables.

It was still on, and I took it apart to let it dry while we were gone. No harm, no foul. The phone still worked.

I put the phone back together and left the case on the counter when we went to bed. About 6 a.m., I woke up to a crash as my phone fell between the bed and wall and landed on the wood floor. I grabbed it and stuck it back under my pillow. Then I wanted to see how much time I had left to sleep, so I lit up the screen.

A bunch of black lines appeared over the icons and background. 


Nate looked at me with eyes half open, "what?"

I showed him my now-broken screen.

We both rolled over and went back to sleep.

Cookies, phones --- life happens, and we just have to deal with it.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Today's top 5

Although I had to work on a Saturday and I've been plagued by a headache that won't quit for 24 hours, I want to do a list of things I'm thankful for today.

1. My husband. I think he always tops the list. However, today he unloaded the dishwasher without me asking, he helped me make steak quesadillas for supper, he started the laundry, and what made my day was that I sat down for a minute after work, and when I started to get up to go water the garden, he held me down because he wanted to converse. And he really did want to. When your husband just wants to spend time talking with you, that's a beautiful thing.

2. Volunteers at work. Although I'm not much of a people person, the volunteers at my job are so wonderful that they make my days brighter. One dedicated volunteer came back to visit today after he moved into his child's house as the volunteer battles terminal cancer, and it was just wonderful to see him.

3. Sweet corn. Although my husband doesn't like it off the cob, I certainly do. And we both enjoyed the sweet corn salsa that has now topped fish tacos and steak quesadillas. It's the small things.

4. The promise of fall. Autumn is not my favorite season, but as the summer concludes I do excited for college football to start, and it makes my husband so happy that fall is growing on me as well.

5. Kitchen abilities. Cooking and baking really bring me joy, and it brings me joy that I can bring other people joy just by delivering some baked goods. It's a win-win.

What are the little things that have made your day special?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Prayer first

My first instinct when I see something I don't like it is to ignore it.

Some people want to jump in and fight. Some people want to argue and debate a point to make sure that everyone agrees with them. Some people cry. Some people watch in disbelief.

I walk away. I flip the channel. I X out of the browser.

It hurts too much to see people hating police. It's too hard to see gender roles blurred beyond belief. It's too scary to see people standing up for a place that kills babies and sells parts of their bodies. So I don't watch; I don't listen; I just go about my happy little life.

Part of it is also that I know that I'm not a good debater, and even if I end up fighting for my point, I'm not going to get anywhere. I'll probably just make the other person mad and realize an hour later I should have said this or I should not have said this. It's easier for me to just not add to the conversation and to seclude myself in my perfect part of the world.

The other night, a friend started to cry about an issue that I didn't know how to fix. I rubbed her back and said "I'm sorry." I tried to be the positive one and point out things that would make her feel better.

When she walked away, I realized what I should have done. I should have immediately taken her hand and prayed with her. It wasn't a good moment anymore to pray with her, but I started to pray myself.

And that's when I realized --- how often do I feel lost about a problem and just ignore it or try to be positive when I should really be doing is praying. We have the most powerful being to talk to about all our issues, and we so often overlook it. Why isn't praying the first thing we do?

I mean, think about it. President Obama is probably the most powerful man on earth, the U.S. president usually is. If we could bring all our issues to President Obama and feel like we could really make a difference through the conversation with him, we would take everything to him. We would ask him to fix all our problems, especially if we knew that we were on the side of truth and he agreed with us. He could do so much more than I could, so I would ask him to do it instead of trying to take it on myself.

But what I really have is someone so much more powerful than the president of the United States. And I know what is breaking my heart is also breaking God's heart. I know that he hates seeing where this country and this world is going. I know he doesn't want it to go there, because so much that is happening in popular culture is wrong.

So instead of avoiding the issues, when I see something that hurts I need to take it to God. Lord, please protect our police officers and help parents teach their children to respect authority. Please help us see that the gender issues in our country are not what you intended when you created man and woman. Please help us to defund Planned Parenthood so that innocent lives are not taken. Please work in the lives of our leaders and help them to stand strong for what's right, even if it doesn't look "good" on their political resumes. Please just cover this country in your grace, and help us all to stand up for what we know is right, wherever that leads us.

Please, Lord, don't give up on us.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

We don't know how to paint a house

We went to Sherwin-Williams because we need to repaint our house, and a worker came up to ask what we wanted. The conversation went about like this:

"What kind of paint would you like."

"We don't know."

"What kind of primer would you like?"

"We don't know."

"How much paint do you need?"

"We don't know."

We were open to whatever knowledge the paint store employee had to offer us, because we've never owned a house, and other than me helping my parents do a small amount of house painting when I was a kid, neither of us have experience with it.

We just laughed when we got in the car with our purchases, because the other couples that came in to the store during the quarterly paint sale looked just like us. I'm betting that most people who come in have the same answers to every question, "we don't know."

When you've never had to paint a house, you don't quite know what you're in for. It made me think of the Christian life. When you become a Christian, you have never needed to clean up your life. You don't really know how to go about doing it.

"What would you like to change in your life?"

"I don't know."

"How are you going to do it?"

"I don't know."

"How long is it going to take for you to clean up your act?"

"I don't know."

The great part is, there is a perfect God who can lead you through the process. He knows exactly how to help you clean it up. And the best part is, he will be by your side the entire time. Unlike the Sherwin-Williams employee who sent us on our way with our purchases and some good advice, Jesus stands by us all the time and helps us out in the process.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Keeping my mouth shut

I tend to be very quiet when I first meet people, and it takes me a while to open up.

This weekend though, I realized that a couple of times I was being mean to my closest friends. It's like when I open up and realize that I have strong friends, that I can be overly honest and even mean. I think that it's funny at the moment, but I realize later that although those comments are friend-breakers, I'm sure it's not a friendship grower.

In a marriage, the closer you get, the more you try to bring positive and not make fun of the other person --- either in public or in private. There is nothing about making fun of someone that helps a relationship. I wouldn't do it to my husband, so I'm not sure why I think it's OK for me to do to my friends.

There is a difference between helping to strengthen someone by being honest about a flaw that is jeopardizing them, and there's even a difference between joking about a small flaw that doesn't matter. However, there is a line that I sometimes cross that really can come across mean, even if I don't realize it at the moment.

Sometimes my best trait might be that I don't talk all that much, and maybe I need to make sure that I keep my mouth shut a little bit more, even around my friends.

So to those out there I've hurt with off-handed comments, I'm sorry. I'm working on it.