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January ending

I’ve not posted much in January, but I’ve journaled almost daily. My inside thoughts have been more prominent that my blogging ones. It’s been that kind of month.

A few sunny hours on a few days were rare, a welcome respite from the grey days. The glowing shades in sunsets were sweet because they were infrequent as Maisie and I enjoyed walking closer to 6:30 than 5:30 in the evening. The days really are getting longer.

In the middle of cloudiness, a letter from my granddaughter arrived in the mail. It brought its own version of cheer and sunbeams, eliciting smiles as I wrapped myself in her words like a comfortable old quilt.

Which is a perfect segue into the creative project I began this month. My friend is teaching several women how to make a sticks and stones quilt out of leftover scraps from her years of quilt making. I’m still a newbie quilter, this only my second, and I need the gentle instructions and reassurance that I’m doing it correctly.

sticks-and-stones-quiltHopefully, mine will look something like this when I’m finished.

January creates an organizing frenzy inside me and the house.  While removing and recycling my mess, some objects stirred memories of former joys, and I just couldn’t surrender them yet. I rediscovered a few items I’d been looking for, which is always a treat. And I gave away a couple of treasures to new homes, new owners who were delighted to receive them.

I found Venus in my night sky. At the first sighting, I stood in wonder, its brightness enthralling me. And this verse: When I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You set in place,  what is man that You remember him, the son of man that You look after him?”

Sweet William and I attended weddings and celebrated an anniversary, and I asked a rhetorical question, “Who gets married in January?” Well, we did. Lots of memories surfaced as we thanked God for His indescribable grace to us.

I stayed glued to the TV during the presidential inauguration, the peaceful transfer of power from Democratic to Republican leadership. It was calm and dignified, an example of the freedom we live with and value in the United States. Still, the country is reeling in protests against the democratic process of making a choice through our right and privilege of voting.  We are blessed with the liberty to choose and to protest. But eventually, can we just get over it and move on?

I read several books or listened to them on CD. Two of the most impacting were Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and The Insanity of God. The first was a biography of a young Muslim man who came to know Jesus Christ. His was a deep and thorough search, a studied reasoning against all he had been taught from his childhood. He struggled to relinquish what was familiar and the connection to his family. His story moved me. In addition, I learned much about the Muslim religion and examined my own faith.

The second book, The Insanity of God, was written under a pseudonym. The author visited the persecuted church in many foreign countries and marveled how the Christians were accustomed to spending years in jail and being tortured. To them it was normal. Yet the house churches were alive and thriving in a hostile atmosphere where Christianity is condemned. The stories of the persecuted believers humbled me and I thanked God for my freedom. I questioned how much I value this privilege and how seriously I take it.

Beth Moore’s first novel, The Undoing of Saint Silvanus, was an entertaining read. I happened to be at my library branch at the right moment to check it out. Beth’s characters came alive in the heart of New Orleans. I’m hoping for a sequel sometime in the near future.

I said “yes” to a leadership team, surprising myself with the decision. I thought I’d done my share of this sort of thing and was through. The group of women with whom I will be serving are diverse in ages, gifts, personalities, and  experiences. I am looking forward to building deeper relationships with them and discovering where the Lord desires takes us.

The first month of a new year leads us toward what is to come. Annie Dillard says it this way:

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

January is spent. February is fresh and waiting to be explored.

 

July ending

It has been hot this July at my old Kentucky home. HOT.

The 90-degree temperatures with high humidity have kept us indoors with the shades pulled and curtains drawn to keep out the heat. We prayed the air conditioner would keep running. Even Maisie was quick to come in, her tongue wagging, after a short time in her fenced yard.

July was a month of birthdays. The United States, the one and only son, and I got a year older. I shared my day with our eldest granddaughter, her celebrating the ending of high school and the beginning of a new journey. Being with my family was present enough. Their presence is the gift I always crave.

Indoor activity prompted me to read several books, including another by author Sophie Hudson. This one, called A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet, made me laugh out loud. And it felt so good. I was sitting in the doctor’s waiting room and could not contain myself. I looked around at all the people with their phones in their faces and thought they didn’t know what they were missing.

I also read a book about punctuation. Yes, punctuation. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss, was also humorous (not enough to make me laugh) and incorporated how our writing has evolved.

The question is why would I read a book about punctuation. I ask myself that. For one, it was recommended at a writing workshop I attended this year. For another, I want to be a better writer. When I was trying to get the best grade possible in a shorthand class years ago, every incorrect comma and capital letter carried grave consequences. I’d like to avoid those red correction marks.

One other book worth mentioning is Roots & Sky by Christie Purifoy. She is an artist with words, documenting a year of her family’s life after moving to an old farm house. I gave the book to someone who has been in a difficult transition all year. Then I bought another copy for myself so I could re-read the book slowly and taste every delicious phrase.

I’ve started doing word-search puzzles. Admittedly, I’ve not been fond of them. Since it may be good for my brain, I will make the effort. Keeping my brain young is important as the birthdays keep accumulating.

I made peach jam from the biggest and sweetest peaches I’ve ever tasted, right out of Alabama fields.

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I’ve enjoyed precious time with friends, shopped the thrift store and found a few bargains. I welcomed my piano students back after a month break. I made gallons of sweet tea and more cups of coffee than I will mention. Because for the record, it is never too hot for a cup of coffee.

I watched both the Republican and Democratic national conventions. I heard lots of promises and plenty of demeaning remarks. I pray for my country.

The butterfly bushes and the morning glories are blooming, a sign of late summer. They require nothing of me. They simply do what they are designed to do.

As August begins we enjoy one more month of summer. It will most likely be hot. The lazy days of the season must be a myth as I heard talk about busy, busy schedules from too many. Schools will open their doors to teachers and students who may or may not be glad for routines to resume.

I plan to attack the yard with a vengeance and my weed sprayer because it’s a jungle out there. My little hand surgery, the recovery time, and the heat have given the weeds a chance to flourish. But their heyday is over.

Sweet William and are looking forward to fall this year. Cooler days and nights when we can open the windows. Flannel shirts and warm blankets to snuggle us. The changing of the leaves from green to golden, maroon, and copper. Listening for the sound of geese and crane flying overhead for warmer climate. Roasting some hot dogs and marshmallows on our homemade fire pit in the side yard. Inviting the neighbors to come sit and talk awhile. Being thankful for all the good days and bounty of blessings God gives.

A good cup of coffee will be nice as temperatures drop. Because the weather is always just right for a fresh hot brew.

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