Thursday, January 5

Sew Cooperative

I'm supposed to be sewing, not blogging. But my (middle) brother is getting married this weekend, and I'm making him a jean blanket. It's tradition. I make a jean blanket for each one of our siblings that gets married. Sometimes, I get it done in time for the wedding, sometimes it's for Christmas five years later.

What do you do with a jean blanket? Well, it's for picnics and fireworks shows and camping and tossing into the trunk of your car to have when you need and not needing to care if it gets grass or ketchup or mud on it. It's for playing with babies on the lawn, and for draping over coolers and for putting down on over car seats that are too hot in July or too cold in January.

I've made a lot of jean blankets. I've made them all on the same sewing machine. This one is going to be a big one. I want my brother to get a lot of mileage out of it. I know he will do his best. He's the hunting-fishing-camping-hiking-outdoorsy kind of guy, and he found himself a like-minded gal. (I really like her.)

When I pulled out my machine to get started, I said a little prayer that it would play along nicely. I've had this machine for fourteen years. My husband bought it for me when we had hardly anything. It isn't fancy or schmancy, just a basic Singer workhorse.

Over the years, I have spent a lot of time working that workhorse. It's getting cantankerous in its old age, but it still gets the job done. When it's in the mood. Every time we talk seriously about replacing it, I end up backing out. After all, it still can get the job done.

So, today, I am really, really, really grateful that my "old gray mare" of a sewing machine has been cooperative and trucked along all day with nary a complaint. I didn't have time for it, and I am glad I got as far along on this jean blanket as I did. Not done, of course (post blog, then go sew), but within sight. I'm grateful for my husband, who bought it for me in the first place, and who keeps offering to make room in the budget (or tax return, or...) for a new, more compliant machine. And I am so grateful for the gal who is marrying my brother. I wonder if she sews?...

What are you blessed with today?

Tuesday, January 3

Send Off

Have I mentioned that we feed a lot of missionaries? We do. We fed them the week before Christmas, we fed them tonight, we will feed them again and again before the new month is over.

Feeding the missionaries is an old family tradition. Both my husband and I grew up in homes that fed missionaries frequently. It was a natural thing for us to do when we started our own family. So, yes, we feed the missionaries. 

The missionaries come and go, or come and stay and then go. I lose track of who was here and when, and how long ago that was. If you have hungry, eager missionaries in your home often enough, they start to feel like family; particularly if they stay for a few transfers. One elder stayed through nine and a half months' worth of transfers, and then went home from here. He's been done and home for a long time now, but I still think of him as one of my missionaries.

A few keep tabs on us, which I love. I like to see the college graduation notices and the  wedding announcements; I love being able to have them look me up on facebook and say howdy. I get particular joy when they come back to visit. That's an entirely different level of feeling like family.

So, we fed the elders tonight (it's usually the elders, mind you. We haven't been in a "sister missionary" area for a long ol' time). Elder Youngstrom has been here for several months. He definitely feels like family. Elder Dyas has only been here for seven weeks, but he felt like family after the second meal. 

We really like Elder Youngstrom and Elder Dyas. We knew we wouldn't get to keep Elder Dyas for long, he was actually called to Brazil, but has been cooling his heels in our little Midwest town while he waits on visas and that sort of thing. 

Tonight was his last dinner appointment here. All the paperwork finally cleared, and he'll be having dinner in Brazil by Friday. So, after the meal (they both had third helpings of the soup), we had the lesson in the living room (over the top of the rowdy kids) and then took the good-bye pictures (working around the rowdy kids). 

Honestly, I was getting irritated with my rowdy kids. But Elder Youngstrom just kept smiling at them, and Elder Dyas kept saying how much he loved coming over to our house, and how great it was to be around our family, and how much he was going to miss us. I took my cue from them and let it go.

I am grateful for missionaries. I am grateful to have them in our home, and for their example to me of faith and hard work, and how the gospel of Christ works in the lives of everyone, regardless of their background or upbringing. I am grateful for a fresh perspective on my blessings, and for the chance to listen and to testify. I am grateful we have been able to give a tasty, heartfelt send off to so many good elders over the years. I'm grateful for the pictures, so we can remember them individually, and I'm flattered to be in the photo memories of so many worthy young men. God bless the missionaries!

What are you blessed with today?

Monday, January 2

Happy News

Yesterday evening, the phone rang. It could have been anyone, seeing as how it was New Years Day. It was Jennie, that sweet, insightful young woman who has often commented on this blog.

Yesterday was her birthday. It was also the day she got engaged.

Jennie is one of my former Seminary students. She graduated and moved on to college and life as a young adult, but we keep tabs on each other.

I adore her.

She was calling me to share her happy news with me. I am so very happy for her, and so very touched that she included me in the list of people to call.

I am grateful for happy news. No matter when it arrives at my doorstep, it brightens my day and makes me smile. I am grateful for Jennie, and for the example of cheerful faithfulness she has been to me and to my daughters (the whole family, really). I am grateful that she has found an excellent young man who loves her and makes her feel lovable. I am pretty excited that the wedding will be in driving distance in the spring, because that means I get to go! Congratulations, Jennie! Thank you for thinking of me. And happy birthday.

What are you blessed with today?

Sunday, January 1

Here I Am


169 posts out of 365 days. What is that? Almost 50%, right? Plus, you know, the ten or so drafts waiting around for me to finish up and post. So, not a bad showing, considering my ideal versus my reality. But not the 100% I envisioned this time last year.

I'm conflicted.

Part of me wants to berate myself for slacking so badly. Another part of me thinks 50% is actually really good, realistically. The rest of me wonders if I should close this book, or make another go at it for 2012. It was supposed to be a one year project. But it's not as if I've run out of things to be thankful for.

Should I continue on? Could I continue on? If I do, it's important to take into consideration the very real fact: I may not be any more capable of completing a year of Thankful Heart posts this year than I was last year. Will my self-esteem survive the beating I will most likely give it if I start again but do not finish (again)? Maybe that will be offset by the fact that gratitude unexpressed is wasted.

I dunno. Being "under the weather" makes me a little morose and introspective. Maybe I should tackle all of this existential angst when I'm feeling better.

I'm conflicted.

But! I am grateful for my life, and for the opportunity to take stock of who I am and where I am, what I have been blessed with and what I have to offer. 2011 was a very blessed year for me, because I deliberately chose to focus on the blessings. I look forward to more of the same in 2012.  Perhaps that's my answer.

Wednesday, September 14

Birthday Rain

Today is my birthday. It's raining outside. I didn't know it was raining until my son told me when he walked in the door from Early Morning Seminary. We have had a long streak of bright, sunny days, so I was kind of expecting more of the same. But I don't mind. Rain is a great birthday present.

Seven years ago, we were in a drought, quite a bad one, actually. Everyone was praying for rain. We had been praying for months. Our church congregation held a fast. The lacking rain was all we seemed to talk about. My little children prayed for rain at every meal, and during our family prayers, and when they asked me to listen to their sweet little personal prayers.

That year, my oldest turned seven. I threw a backyard costume party, full of family and friends. It was lots of people and lots of fun, all over our yard.

And then it started to rain.

In a mad, panicked dash, we hustled all the party-goers and food and gifts into my tiny house. We crammed into the living room and had the present-opening. It was like a gift-wrapped mosh pit. There were enough of us that we started to fog up the windows, but we couldn't open them because it was raining so hard. It rained and poured and pounded.

I was cranky about it, to be honest. Here I had put all this effort into a great party for my kid, and it had to go and rain. Then my son came to me and said, with a beaming face, "Mommy! Isn't it great? Heavenly Father gave me rain for my birthday!"

And I remembered. It was raining! We needed this rain. We had been praying for this rain. My son had been praying for it, and here it was, on his special day. Best birthday gift ever: an answered prayer and a more sure testimony that God is in His heaven, and hears and answers us.

So, today, on my birthday, I am very grateful for the rain. I am grateful for cooler weather, and an excuse to cuddle under warm, fuzzy blankets with my kids. We're taking the day off from school, and I may or may not just blog all day long. Or not. I am grateful for my mom, who gave me such a wonderful heritage and upbringing, and who had me on her mom's birthday. That has always meant a great deal to me, sharing my day with my grandma. Thanks. Mom.

What are you blessed with today?

Tuesday, September 13

Holding Down the Fort

Today was a busy, busy day. I really am a home body, so it rattles me a bit on these kind of days. All of the leaving and arriving and appointments and errands gets me all turned around and befuddled.

Somehow, I managed to make it to all the meetings, and keep all the crucial commitments, and none of my children starved and all of them did school. A huge shout-out goes to my three oldest for making sure that's what happened.

I am grateful for the people who are holding down the fort when it's not me. I am grateful for my children who are thoughtful, capable people; who accept responsibility when I ask, and who take pleasure in cheering up little children and in a job well done. I am grateful that tomorrow I don't have to go anywhere in particular.

Monday, September 12

Moon Rise

It was my husband's idea to watch the moon rise. It was my idea to do it for Family Home Evening.

We were late (as in, not in place to watch it as it came over the horizon), but only by a few minutes. We took the children out of town to a perfect rise-and-set spot. We all ooohed and aahhed, the children explored, the baby slept, the toddler exclaimed in wonder, "Yook at da moon! Uh moon!" over and over. We talked a little bit about how all of Nature testifies of God, and our gratitude for such a beautiful world.

Did you know that the full moon always rises at sunset? Technically, the moon was full at 4:27 Tuesday morning, but that meant it looked full for three days in a row.

And the moon was beautiful. It looked like a pearl, rising opposite a glorious and fiery sunset.

After the sun was all the way gone, and it was getting quite dark, I walked down the hill to get a water bottle from the van. As I walked back to my family I looked up; silhouetted against the sky, I saw my girls dancing. What a beautiful, whimsical sight. The whole evening was a feast for my eyes and heart.

I am grateful for the moon rise. I am grateful for time with my family. I am grateful for a day so lovely and mild as this one. I am grateful for my children, who still retain their wonder and awe of the beauty and majesty around them.

What are you blessed with today?