Sunshine and Shadow
Are you new here? Welcome. Feel free to click about. An array of articles awaits you. I hope you glean something helpful from them. Today, rather than an article, I share a piece of my present life. For my long-standing readers I offer an apology for not reporting the results of my medical treatment sooner. Thank you most sincerely for your prayers and kind notes. Perhaps the reason for my delay is that I have resisted coming face to face with the truth in print. The extended weeks of treatments for neuropathy and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome were unsuccessful.
Some of you know that I started this blog in 2010 partly as a diversion from chronic pain. It’s been a pleasure to connect with people. Since writing the story, Lessons at Blackberry Inn, writing articles has enabled me to minister with an outward focus. This blog is a place where I can be hospitable with ideas. I hope I have made it a pleasant and ponderous place for you to visit.
I’ve been away from blogging for a bit. First, Sonja Schafer honored me by interviewing me on her insightful blog. Then, I spent the week at my eldest daughter’s house. Sophia’s family lives two hours from us. The photos are mostly from her camera. I was given the room over the garage. The futon was perfectly comfortable with the thick mattress topper Dean insisted I bring along.
At 5:30 a.m. the sun was rising. Oh, the birds. Their notes revealed their numbers although they were invisible. Such carefree carols made my heart sing along. This was my unquiet quiet time before the two little boys were up and about feeding their pets. Each morning I would sit perched on the edge of the futon with a pen and spiral notebook open, reading and jotting down thoughts in the morning light. I intentionally left my laptop (and all electronics) at home. The view out my window was surreal: acres of Christmas trees.
The change of scenery was appreciated. But I came primarily to play with my grandsons. On one of the rainy days, for it was a rainy week, the 3 year-old was a cowboy. He wildly rode his stick horse chasing his brother from room to room. This same little boy had had stitches in his forehead twice the week prior. What enormous energy little boys have when they play together. I put myself to bed ten minutes after reading their bedtime stories.
I was seeing the house for the first time. As a sort of hand-me-down, house warming gift, I passed along my (wool fabric) braided rug. Sophia says it adds warmth to the fireplace room. On another rainy day the 6-year-old set up a long wooden railroad track on the rug. When the sun managed to poke through the cracks in the clouds I watched him in the sandbox and on the tree house slide in the back yard. Sand is one of the best of toys.
My daughter has fond memories of her storybooks. She finds pictures on-line, prints them out, and places them in frames. It is a frugal way to decorate, she says. This one, by Eliose Wilkin, stood beside me near the futon.
For the wall above her computer Sophia printed out botanical flowers she searched for on-line. Using dime store frames, she gave each a thin coat of paint, then scrubbed to reveal a bit of wood grain.
Above the pie safe, that stores home school materials, is a broken clock. It was stitched by her mother-in-law who passed away during the school year. It doesn’t matter that the hands of the clock are missing and that it cannot keep time. It was made by someone special whom Sophia loved and misses and that is what matters most to her. This is how I can tell she values it. See how the dainty live basil trees accent the clock on either side? (Click any image to enlarge.)
Sometimes sorrowful or scary circumstances surround us - or just plain exhausting ones. For the struggling Christian it may seem that joy is at the bottom of a well. It is never obtrusive, but there it waits, cool and clear, promising to refresh. We have to practice our faith, to send down the bucket on a reliable rope of faith . . . and draw up joy hand-over-hand. As I sat alone in the guest room with my supplications, staring out over the acres of Christmas trees, I tried not to be overly sorrowful about the life of limitations my son has to accept as a newly handicapped person, just on the brink of his career. I tried to be patient about my husband’s job hunting, and not anxious that my pain has been steadily increasing in spite of invasive medical treatments and all my veggie juicing.
There are myriads of things out of our control. Circumstances were out of the apostle Paul’s control. He was knocked down and near death, but always got back up. I think he was lifted up. He learned through his trouble that a joyful heart is “anxious for nothing” and urges us to do likewise. I have a Heavenly Father who is in control. And how wonderful (what manner of love is this?) to be called one of His children.
(1 John 3:1, 2)
(1 John 3:1, 2)
A far-away friend admonished me by letter when I reported our woes. “Karen, count your blessings like you count the stitches in your beautiful samplers,” she wrote. I was touched by her words put in the imperative, because they were not shared indelicately. (Phil 4:8)
Speaking of samplers, I finished the one I had designed for Sophia and presented it to her. Do you remember she requested a house sampler months back? To make the top half I followed a chart of a girlhood sampler of the 19th century. Then I fit together spots from several samplers for the bottom half. “E” is the family initial. The trees are the Christmas trees adjoining their property. The sprig of blueberries is reminiscent of Maine.
The single strawberry is just-because she loves strawberries, which ripen during the month of her birthday.
At last, I chose the word “Joy” in teeny tiny one-over-one stitches. It is such a little word but its deep gratitude makes a “cup runneth over.”
Sophia is the only female in her household and I in mine, so we treated ourselves with girl-talk. Later, on the front porch, when the sun was lowering in the sky, the breeze blew through the silver wind chimes. I commented on how clear and pretty the chimes sounded. “That’s because this one,” she pointed out, “chimes the first notes of Amazing Grace.”
“Really?” I said brightly then listened some more. The beautiful chimes created a lull in our conversation, which few things can do once girl-talk gets on a roll.
Thank you for your visit,
Here is a link for Sonja Schafer’s blog interview. At the end of the interview you will see that Simply Charlotte Mason decided to sell all my books. Neat. Perhaps there is a description of one that sounds like it would uplift your life. If so, I hope you will consider purchasing it on their website. If you like your visits here you will feel very at home on the pages of my books.
During my week away I used my daughter’s computer to read my emails one evening. What a surprise. The mice at Linnie’s Butt’ry and Book’ry chose my name for the prize of a handsome gardening book. Fun.