This Week In My Life

Yay!  We have gotten through the two major political conventions.  It is such a shame that we don’t get to see the conventions for the Libertarians and other political parties who feel they would do the best job in Washington.  I don’t do politics on social media.  Most of my friends and family know where I stand, but I don’t want to get into arguments with anyone.  I don’t want them to call me all the mean nasty names, or say they cannot figure out why on earth I think like I do.  If I recall, this country set up a system of secret ballots so that no one would be intimidated from voting the way they believed.  What happened to the idea that I don’t want to tell how I am voting, and you shouldn’t ask.  Yep.  We need “don’t ask, don’t tell” when it comes to elections.  How much nicer the election year would be!

So . . .  I continue to purchase fabric, and find designs that grab my attention, and dive into piecing quilts for my pure enjoyment.  I just completed a quilt top.  I was so pleased with it. I loved the design and I loved the fabric.  I laid it out across our king size bed.  I am standing on a two-step stool to take its photo to share with my quilting Facebook groups.  Dennis kept pointing at one of the squares.  Why was he putting his finger in my photo?  Then I saw what he saw—I put a square together upside down two rows into my finished top!  I have carefully, with my handy seam-ripper, taken out the square to put in properly so the design will all go the right way.  My new challenge—how to pull a square out that has all ready been surrounded by completed rows to make a change!  I will do the fix this week.  I think it will be easier than it sounds (I hope).

In the meantime, I have put up all my sewing materials because I am using my dining room in Missouri as my sewing room.  This weekend I was hosting a family at our home whom I have never met.  

How does that happen?  I don’t run an Airb&b.  But I do what I can do when I find out someone needs help.  A few weeks ago, I learned that a relative of my sister’s husband was sick.  She was diagnosed with cancer.  She is young, married and has three little children.  He husband is stationed at Fort Leonard Wood here in Missouri.  She is having her surgery in Columbia, Missouri, near our home.  I connected with her on Facebook.  I invited her family to come to our home for the weekend to have a quiet vacation-like weekend before she has major surgery.  

I don’t want a pat on the back for doing this.  We have a large home in Missouri, and are able to offer this.  If the tables were turned, and one of my children were going through something like this away from all their family and friends, I would hope someone would do the same for them.  The two school-aged boys spent their whole time here in the swimming pool.  They came out of the water for meals, and to sleep at night.  I have never seen two little boys have so much fun in a pool.  We ended their weekend with a wiener roast at the fire pit, and S’mores for dessert.  They have gone back home to be in school this week.  We will host her husband and baby while mom is in the hospital, and he will be close by.

I ask that all of you who read this blog will pray for Anita.  This will be the first surgery, and probably not the only one.  Pray for all the doctors and healthcare workers who will be tending to her.  Pray for a successful surgery and healing.  Pray for little boys who don’t understand what a cancer diagnosis means, and pray for a husband who has a lot on his plate, working full time in the military and tending to this family he loves dearly.

She is only expected to be in the hospital for two or three days.  Having her family here was a gift to me.  I loved watching those little boys play and love on their mom and dad.  The only thing I had to do was make sure food was on the table—and I usually do that daily anyway.  

Later this week, I will attempt to fix my “broken” square and complete the quilt top.  I have more fabric and a plan to start the next quilt.  I’m super stoked to keep sewing to keep my mind on things that are not stressful or controversial.  I get to make quilts with love.  I know to whom they are going, so as I stitch them, I think of these people who I love, and hope they will love wrapping themselves in my little bit of my artwork.

Thank you for reading this.  Prayers for my new friend and her family are most appreciated.  

Quarantine quilting

I have been on hold for a while.  I felt a bit like an airplane that was put in a holding pattern because of bad weather and told not to land yet.  So around and around the city I fly wondering when I can touch down.  I think I let social media and the news get to me.  People can be so quick to judge, and they can only judge from where they stand.  I don’t stand where anyone else does, nor does anyone stand in my place.  I was feeling low.  I was feeling like I was not allowed to have the feelings I have.  So, I switched off.

When Covid-19 first hit, I was in a minor panic stage.  I didn’t know what this virus was, how one gets it, and how dangerous it might be to go anywhere, especially since I am considered that “old” person who might die from it.  When we were told we were going to have to shelter in place, I decided I needed a project to keep me busy—to keep my mind off the scary stuff, and to keep me productive.  I chose making a quilt.

I was in Arizona at the time, and I diligently worked on the quilt top.  The week we were ready to leave for Missouri, I shipped the quilt top off to the long arm quilting lady who was from my Missouri town, but had since moved to Florida.  (For those of you who don’t quilt—she doesn’t have one arm that is super long—her quilting machine has a long arm. (Just wanted to clear that up from the image of a “long-armed quilting lady”).  Rather than finding a new person locally, I sent it to her, and told her to return it to my Missouri address.  The quilt will be a gift, and will be delivered to the recipient in just a few weeks.

Now I am in Missouri and things have not changed a lot.  In fact, the first month in Missouri Dennis got terribly sick.  He couldn’t breathe.  No, he didn’t have Covid, but he couldn’t breathe.  He is almost completely better, and we still do not know the exact reason for his respiratory distress, but we are taking the most caution in our lives.  We go the store, masked properly and properly spaced.  We avoid crowds.  We do our hiking in our neighborhood, and we pretty much stay home.  It was time to do another quilt.  I purchased some charm packs I saw online, so I found a pattern that I really loved and decided to make a lap quilt. For non-quilters a charm pack is a pack of fabric cut into five inch squares.  I ordered the fabric for the background color, and lo and behold, the same place that only took three days to deliver my order, took almost two weeks.  My project was on hold.  

While the project was on hold, I decided to visit my sister who lives in West Virginia, near the Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia border.  I was a bit wary of flying, but was assured that all precautions were being taken by the airlines.  The airport in St. Louis was busy but nothing like it was in previous flights I have taken.  The Dulles Washington D.C. airport was like being in Twilight Zone.  It was, for all intents and purposes, empty.  Changing planes in Atlanta found the busiest of all three airports.  I spent my week with my sister, and her granddaughters.  It was a great week to just kick back and relax.

Coming back home I had all my materials ready to start my quilt top, when I realized I was out of thread.  Dennis and I drove in to Columbia to one of their quilting stores to pick up a spool of thread.  This was going to be a quick visit.  When I got out of the car to run into the store, Dennis told me to take a look at their sewing machines because I have been talking about upgrading.  I laugh that I just bought the most expensive spool of thread on the planet—it came with a sewing machine!  I went from a Volkswagen of a sewing machine to a Lamborghini.  Didn’t even go with the mid size car—jumped immediately to the fancy sports car with all the bells and whistles.  Part of the reason was that I found a used machine that had only 80 hours sewing time (yes, it has an internal clock), it has wifi, and it does everything except make my lunch.  This Lamborghini of a sewing machine was one half the price of buying it new.  The store offers four three-hour classes to learn how to do all the things this machine can do.  I haven’t finished the classes yet, so maybe I will find the button where it makes my lunch!

I came home with thread and a new sewing machine.  As I was putting the top together, I realized I didn’t quite cut the pieces properly.  It was going together, but not as well as it should have.  I was thinking of scrapping the whole project when Dennis came in the room to look at the work.  He said he loved it, and would really like me to make it for him.  I asked why he liked it so much, and he said, “because it is really you.”  So my perfectly imperfect quilt is going to my husband when complete.  

The top is completed, I have bought the fabric for the back which I think will be perfect for it.  I am now moving on to my other quilt top.  I still love the pattern I used, and now that I am very familiar with its construction, this is the pattern I will be using.  When I was in St. Louis coming back from my West Virginia trip, I stopped at a quilt store and bought the most fabulous fabric.  It was not in charm pack, but I am perfectly capable of cutting a lot of 5” squares.  I have more control of my fabric choices this way.  When you buy a charm pack, you get what they give you.  This way I purchased 1/2 yards of many different fabrics that I thought would go great together.

Lesson learned–using directional fabric made putting this quilt together like working a crossword puzzle!

I have come to realize that I don’t make quilts just to make quilts.  The pattern has to speak to me, and the fabrics also have to speak to me.  For me a quilt is a work of art.  It’s a step above paint by number.  If I bought a quilt kit with the pattern and the fabric selected for me, I would feel like I was doing a paint by number.  Other people in the world have also made this identical quilt with the identical fabric.  That is not me.  I want some input into my projects that are part of me and no one else.

My fabrics for my next 2 lap quilts. One will have the dark purple background, and the other the light purple.

I’m revving up my Lamborghini, and I’m getting ready for another run around the track.  I’m still cutting 5” squares.  I need a total of 144 squares before I can start sewing.  This will take a little bit of time.  It’s the part I like least about quilting—all the cutting.  I could buy charm packs, but for me it takes aways my creativity.  Maybe sometime later, after I am ready to let go of my choosing everything to the time saver of precut fabric.  I’m just not there yet.

This has kept me in a positive mood.  I think about each project and who potentially I want to gift it to.  I hope they will cherish it knowing I made it especially with them in mind.  I cannot give names, but I have several people who will be receiving them.  

What are you doing during this stressful time to keep yourself going?  How do you fill your time when things feel tough?  Please share your thoughts.  I want to learn from you also.

 I will try to be more consistent with my posting.  I just couldn’t find words I felt worthy to share for a few weeks.  I love and appreciate each one of you who stop for a few minutes to read what I write.  I hope I can encourage you to find something to give you joy.

The Odd and Strange Summer of 2020!

I have not written anything in a while.  This has been an unusual summer.  Ha!  Hasn’t it been all of 2020?  Do you even remember before March when everything seemed normal?  Nothing has been normal since that date.

When I write my blogs, I want to be in a good place mentally so that I am an encouragement rather than a drag on my readers.  It just seemed hard to do.  When we arrived in Missouri in May, about a week after our arrival, Dennis got sick, and I mean “I can’t breathe” kind of sick.  He did not have COVID-19, thank God, but he was sick for about three weeks.  There are no real answers yet, although he is feeling good again.  What would cause such lung distress?  He has cardiology and pulmonary appointments in the coming weeks that may answer some fo the questions.  He was at his primary card doctor last week, and I was allowed to be there also.  The doctor listened to his heart and lungs and stated that they were nice and clear.  Go figure.

That started our most unusual summer.  I think I just feel out of place here in mid-Missouri.  I has been my home for 7 years, but I feel our Arizona home is more home.  That could be that we have the majority of our belongings there.  We have a minimum here in Missouri.  If we have more than two guests, we must use paper plates, since the majority of our dishes are in Arizona.  We call this our vacation home even though it is still our primary residence.  We live in an area of Arizona where we have many goods and services just down the road, unlike living in the country.  We have made meaningful friendships there.

There is the another reason this summer is unusual.  I fully expected that we would close on the Missouri house and not be here this summer, or maybe just for part of the summer.  It looks like we will be here the whole summer.  That is a good thing since the Coronavirus is running rampant in Arizona, and it is not a good time to return.  We are not sure when a good time to return will be.  We definitely have to figure out this breathing issue before we go back to a place where the danger of catching the virus is high.  That may delay our return from our planned September date.  Being here as long as we will be here was not in the plan.  Once again, God’s timing is always better than mine, and it is good we are stuck in the country where the virus is not as crazy as it is in the cities.  

Then there is the unrest in this country.  It was ugly.  I don’t watch the news much right now because I find it distressful.  I understand being upset by what appeared to be a tragic death, but I don’t understand destroying property and harming others.  I don’t understand the hate, and yes, to me it feels like hate.  It makes me sad, and it makes me worried for our future generations if this kind of behavior is acceptable.  I don’t understand defunding police departments.  There are such sweeping generalizations that if there are a few bad apples, we just get rid of them all.  Law and order doesn’t seem to be of importance any longer.  

So, I haven’t written anything.  I spend my days walking 3 miles in our neighborhood, hitting the pool, playing dominoes with Dennis, watching movies, and cooking.  I’m working on creating some more quilts, but with the pandemic, it is hard to get fabric and supplies easily.  I have been waiting a week for a delivery that has yet to arrive.

Life is not normal.  I miss seeing my friends.  I miss going to church to worship.  We stream our service every Sunday, and that has been good, but getting out of the house just feels good sometimes.  

The end of this week I am flying from St. Louis to Dulles Airport in Washington D.C.  My sister lives an hour from there in West Virginia.  I am going to spend a week with her.  I understand that Southwest Airlines is not filling the center seats, and everyone is required to wear face masks.  I think the trip should be safe.  I think a change of scenery will be good for me.  When I arrive back a week later, we will have our travel trailer parked at an RV park outside of St. Louis and we will spend a week hanging out there.  I’m not sure if I will be seeing anyone other than our kids, since we have been careful who we are connecting with for health reasons.

I went out to lunch with a few ladies last week.  It was the first time I ate inside a restaurant since early March.  It was a little unsettling.  This new normal is still a learning curve.

I know that in the meantime God is working.  He is in control.  God is always working behind the scenes.  Sometimes we don’t see it until after the fact.  Then it’s like an ahh-haa moment.  We see how we were blessed in the midst of everything we do not understand.

That’s where I am today.  Just moving along.  Going with the flow.  Accepting things as they are, changing what I have control of, and letting go of what I cannot do.  It will all work out.  

I wish for this world peace and contentment.  I wish for you during this crazy year, peace and contentment.  

Rainbows Around My Soul

This has been a busier than normal 3+ weeks.  My two teenaged grandchildren showed up for an extended stay with us in the country.  They have gone back home now.  I have much to unpack and write about since my last writing, and it will come soon.  In the meantime I decided to share some writing I did a number of years ago.

In it I refer to my “God Spot.”  I know that is an odd term, but it is a term that I came up with in a coaching session on perspectives.  When I go through a challenge, I found the perspective of my “God Spot” worked for me.  When I discovered this term, I was standing in a hotel conference room, and realized I was standing directly under a spotlight.  I looked at the light, and stated that my “God Spot” was a place I could be in where I truly feel God’s unconditional love for me, where even through rough waters, God was there holding my head above the water.  He is the one who made “Andrea Unsinkable.”

I just want to explain this so that when you read my thoughts from years ago, you will know what my reference of “God Spot” means.  Here is one of my journal entries from around 2011.  Hard to believe that was nine years ago!

I found this beautiful quote last night while having a very, very tough evening.   It says, “The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.”  I was in tears. I was in deep sadness and fear. I allowed sadness to kick me squarely out of my “God Spot.”  It doesn’t matter the reason. It is the fact that fear of rejection is so powerful in me that it can happen from a friend, a boss, a colleague. My codependency raised its ugly head and roared. 

I felt hurt, betrayed, and like a failure. But I know I am not a failure, so then I got angry. And the anger engulfed me. And I let it. Lick my wounds and be the victim.  Sleep did not come easily. My head buzzed. My eyes hurt. I wanted to run away. A friend told me a good cry might help. I told the friend, “I’ve cried too many of my years away.  I don’t want to cry anymore. Do I ever get to stop?”

That all being said, we cannot know good unless we know bad.  There must be evil to recognize ultimate good. Why else would God allow bad things in our lives?  I think it is so we can see the contrast and experience the amazement of his ultimate love and good. 

As I slept off the sadness, remembering that I need my “God Spot” back. Nothing was different in the morning, except for me. I was back in the loving arms of my Savior, where I know I am loved unconditionally.  Did I suffer?  Yeah. But nothing like Christ suffered when he chose to take a beating and horrible death to redeem me. That was suffering. 

I had joy in my life today. I have to make amends to those I may have overwhelmed in my sadness and anger.  Yes, there are rainbows around my soul today!  What a lovely image. 

If my eyes had no tears, I would not recognize the good in my life. Otherwise, the good would just be everyday complacency. Good things happened.  I connected with some supportive friends. It was like God knew to bring those people to me. Actually, I would not have contacted one of them if my bad yesterday had not happened.  It’s not like God knew to bring them to me. He did bring them to me. 

Perspective on Protesting

So much has happened over the last several weeks.  My head spins when I think about it.  It was bad enough that we have a pandemic going on.  People don’t know whether they are really safe or not going to the store, out to dinner, or any large gathering like church, a ball game, or the theater.

Then the death of George Floyd occurred.  I am not a judge or jury to say if he should have even been restrained, but I tell you what—he did not deserve being restrained the way he was or to die the way he did.  That was a crime.  He was a human being.  He deserved respect and dignity.  He wasn’t fighting the officers, that I know of.  Regardless, one does not kneel on the neck of any human being and expect good results.

The nation broke out in protest which became violent.  Looting and thefts occurred.  Violence against the police began.  Just because there are bad apples in the police force, that does not make the majority of police bad apples.  The same goes for our black brothers and sisters.  All people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, age, etc., have good apples and bad apples.  

I started thinking about my relationship with diversity especially with those who are black.  Years ago in a diversity training I attended, the trainer asked those in the room to share when they first realized differences between themself and a person of another race.  

I have two recollections from my childhood about race.  The first one was as a small child when I went shopping with my mom in downtown St. Louis.  She would drive to a parking garage in town, and we would pick up a shuttle bus from there to the department store.  In front of us sat a young black mother with her little boy.  He was staring at me, and I was staring at him.  It was probably the first encounter for the both of us of seeing someone of another race.  When we got off the bus, my mom said quietly to me, “That little boy is just the same as you, except that his skin color is different.”  I am not sure what that really meant at the time, but I filed that information away in my brain.  

A short time later, at age 6, I had my appendix removed.  I was in the hospital for a week.  This was in the day that they didn’t let a patient get out of bed for several days.  A lady came into my room and said she needed to change the sheets on my bed.  She was a black lady.  I have no idea how old she was because anyone over the age of twelve was old to me!  I was not yet allowed out of bed.  She proceeded to tell me she was going to change half of the bed, then I would need to hold on to her arm, as she rolled me to the other side so she could finish making the bed.  I have such a strong recollection of that.  I had seen black people before, but I had never encountered or touched a person of another race.  This woman was on the heavy side, and had large arms.  She was built similar to my mother.  When I reached out to hold her arm I thought she felt just like my mom, and I was comforted in that.  That feeling of comfort made me unafraid, not suspicious, but reinforced what my mother told me previously.

I had a very odd view of race.  This is possibly because I was from St. Louis, Missouri, and there it was either black or white.  There were very few Hispanics, Asians, and I had no idea that people thought Jewish people were a race.  Those were all later discoveries for me.  It wasn’t even black or white to me—it was more if you were pale or dark.

My father was a building contractor.  He started building homes, and then transitioned to commercial buildings, with his specialty being schools and churches.  In my early teen years, he and my mom invited a masonry contractor and his wife to our home for dinner.  The couple was a black couple.  This was in the 1960’s.  I never thought anything of it.  Although we had no personal friends or relatives who were black, it never occurred to me that in the 60’s this was an unusual occurrence to be entertaining a black couple in a suburban home.  It just seemed natural to me.  I, as a young teen, believed what my mother told me.  

I suppose when the first time I was aware of the racial unrest was also in the 60’s.  I was watching the news and hearing about the riots in cities throughout the country.  I was confused and scared.  I just thought if they said the cities, that meant right where I lived.  I didn’t understand why they were mad.  I was afraid that they would be pounding down my door as I watched the news.  

My school district was an upper middle class suburban school.  There was no racial mixing, and there were no diversity initiatives.  When I was in high school our first black students started attending our school. I thought of them as a cool thing—kind of like how I admired foreign exchange students.  I didn’t know anything about them, but I thought it was neat that they were at my school.  

In the late 90’s I was hired into my first human resources management position.  I was the manager of human resources for a credit union.  Of the 50 employees, there were only about five of us who were caucasian.  The rest of the employees, including the credit union president were African American.  I am not sure if I can use that term.  One of the union stewards there was a lovely lady, who I used to be able to chat with.  I asked her what term she wanted to be called.  She told me she didn’t like to be called African American because she was not from Africa.  She said, “I am just an American.”  I loved that.  She preferred the term “black.”  I commented to her that I thought that was interesting because she was a beautiful chocolate brown, and not black in color.  She smiled, and agreed, the term did not really describe her.  But then, I’m not white, I’m kind of beige!

How were our cultures different?  Food was one thing.  One day they were talking about eating snouts.  They pronounced the word “sn-oots.”  So, as we are sitting around the lunch table I asked them what was “sn-oots.”  They said a pig’s nose, at which I replied, “Oh, okay, I pronounce that word “sn-outs.”  We all got a good laugh and decided that white girls say “sn-outs,” and black girls say, “sn-oots.”  Then they got talking about eating tripe.  Now that was something I never heard of at all.  A couple of the girls were going out to pick up lunches for anyone.  One was going to the local pizza place, and the other to a soul food restaurant for tripe.  I gave them my money and requested the pizza, but, I also requested that one of them give me a taste of tripe.  Once again, they had a chuckle and questioned if I really wanted to taste it.  I looked at them, all healthy young women, and said, “You eat it and none of you have died, so I think I can do the same.”  As things always goes when you are working human resources, something comes up that prevents you from having lunch with the rest of the employees.  A bit later after lunch, I went to the lunchroom.  I was told my pizza and salad were there.  I opened the box and ate my little individual pizza and salad.  As I walked through the lobby of the credit union, one of the girls asked how I liked the tripe.  I said that there wasn’t any.  She said, “I left a little piece in the corner of you pizza box.”  My reply, “Oh, I thought it was a piece of sausage that fell off the pizza.  I put it on the pizza and ate it.  I suppose the tripe was just fine!”

All in fun, but working with these women was a delight for me.  We worked together, I asked questions.  They answered my questions.  We respected each other.  I never thought anything unusual where I worked.  I did have one experience where I called someone in for an interview.  The next day she called me to apologize that when her husband found out the location of credit union, he told her he didn’t want her to go there because it was in a pretty run down neighborhood and may not be safe.  It was true that it was a poor neighborhood.  We also had witnessed a few incidents that might make one uncomfortable.  I never felt unsafe at my job.  I liked the people I worked with.  Working at a financial institution can be unsafe anyway if one doesn’t take care.  We never let anyone stay at work alone after hours—we encouraged people leave together.  In the same way that we had duel control of the vault of money, meaning not just one person can access the vault and distribute money to the tellers—we always counted down the vault with two people.  It took two people to open the safe.  It is how financial institutions worked.  We were proactive to prevent crime from inside and outside our financial institution, but we all felt safe with each other.

So, through all this turmoil, I struggle with these times.  I don’t understand police officers or any person being disrespectful to someone because they are different from themselves.  I don’t get that.  Not only did my mother tell me they are not different, more important, God told me that we are not different.  We are all created in God’s image.  I don’t think that means the physical looks.  I think it means who we are as people—our talents and creativity, our compassion, and our need for justice—all Godly attributes, all because we are in his image.

I do not understand burning buildings.  I do not understand looting.  I do not understand taking my anger out on the police—even though bad things are done by some police.  I do not distrust black people because some black person committed a crime.  

On the other hand, I understand the deep desire for justice.  I understand when one thinks they are not noticed, or respected.  I understand how hurtful that is.  It hurts my heart that people are treated unjustly.  It hurts my heart that we don’t know how to listen.  It hurts my heart that others don’t want to listen to me.  

We all bring something different to the table.  I love that about the human race.  We don’t look alike.  We don’t think alike.  We all have different talents.  I always think of us as a beautiful garden of flowers.  Yes, we are pretty by ourselves, but in a garden or in a bouquet, all the different flowers make a display that is unimaginably beautiful.  I wish the world could see each other that way.  We are different.  We are the same.  We all want to be loved and respected.  It’s the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”  If we truly, deep in our hearts, treated others the way we wanted to be treated, wouldn’t that be beautiful?

I am also a realist and a Christ follower.  I know this is a broken world.  Until Christ returns and establishes his kingdom, we will not see perfection.  We will continue to have strife until that day.  In the meantime, though, we can work to be Christlike, loving others, seeking true justice for all, helping those in need, listening—really listening, and being free to speak our truth and be listened to.  I look forward to the day that Jesus will bring it all together.

Best stated is straight from the Scriptures. The Pharisees are trying to test Jesus, and ask the question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus quotes to them from the Law (Old Testament found in Deuteronomy 6:5). He replies, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’   This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  ~Matthew 22:35-40. Jesus tells his disciples the night before his death to “love one another as as I have loved you.” ~John 15:12. That’s powerful because Jesus loved us sacrificially. If we could do that as Christ followers, to love one another sacrificially, what an impact this world would have.

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