Sunday, January 28, 2018

So much for Project 365

It's January 28 and I've had two "good" days out of the month. The rest of the time I've been battling bronchitis, acute asthma and the flu. People, Indiana is killing me! I've never been so sick in my life, and hope to never go through this again. Yes, I'd always get bronchitis when we lived in Michigan. Difference was I was younger and had some reserves to draw on; this time around I was wiped out before I started and that's not a good place.

Three rounds of meds and a cough suppressant with codeine (which, hallelujah!, allows me to finally get some sleep at night) and I'm feeling marginally better. Although last night was a bummer, with me sucking on cough drops all night in addition to the couch syrup. Gah! I'm so ready to be over this crud.

Not feeling great but I also don't feel like death, so there's that. This is progress, it's just really, really slow. Absolutely exhausted today. I have nothing left, and it's going to take some time to build my body back up, allow it to heal, and get to the place where I have some reserves again. My mother-in-law, who is 96, is doing better than I am!

I've purposely stayed away, to avoid contaminating her, but she still tested positive for influenza A last week. Thankfully it seems to be a mild case and she was able to get moved into her new shared space in medical care at the end of the week. Another big change for her.

Ivan and one of the nephews moved the furniture out of her old apartment on Saturday. Rita spent last week, and is coming back this week, to deal with all the little stuff (and there is SO MUCH little stuff). I've felt mildly guilty I can't help, but I'm also too tired to care much. Feeling confident they'll have the place cleared out by Wednesday, as needed.

Tina and the family came and got the piano, which mom wanted her to have. It was fun seeing the video they posted on Facebook last night, of Tina playing and the kids singing together. That's exactly what mom wanted!

With this being the January of Great Sickness, I'm putting a hold on Project 365. We'll see how fast I bounce back (so far no bouncing at all) and go from there. For now I'm happy to have the energy to type this short post; a week ago this wouldn't have been possible. And while I'm at it, a shout out to my amazing husband, who has been a rock, parking at the doctor's office twice this week, to make sure I get what I need (along with many other things). He's taking such good care of me!

I had such high hopes for blogging this year. hahahahahahahaha     

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Project 365, 2018 Edition

Last year I decided not to continue with Project 365 because I assumed (correctly) that 2017 was going to be a crazy year. How crazy even I couldn't have guessed! I'm glad I didn't document the year because it is, frankly, one I'd rather forget for the most part. Don't get me wrong, there were some wonderful things (can we spell g-r-a-n-d-c-h-i-l-d-r-e-n?!?!) but most of the year was just HARD, HARD, HARD.

I'm ambivalent about doing Project 365 this year because of so much uncertainty in our lives right now. I reserve the right to stop at any point if it becomes too much, if 2018 follows in the path of 2017 and becomes just as (or even more) crazy.  I'm going out on a limb here and hoping and praying that this year will be less stressful, more enjoyable, and full of things I'll want to share here. Vamos a ver!

The year did not start off auspiciously. New Year's Eve found me in a local urgent care facility getting a diagnosis of bronchitis with acute asthma. Meanwhile Ivan was pretty sure he had another abscessed tooth because of the extreme pain he was experiencing, so he was taking antibiotics we'd brought back from Argentina, in an effort to reduce the pain and inflammation. Happy New Year to us!

Monday, January 1, 2018

My side table has been filled with these goodies this week as I battled a persistent cough, congestion and difficulty breathing (not shown is my inhaler but it's nearby):

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Ivan was able to get in to see the dentist first thing this morning. Turns out it's not an abscessed tooth after all, but muscle inflammation in his jaw from clenching so tightly (2017 was a stressful year, I'm telling you!). He'll be getting this device to wear at night:
Really hoping it helps because the poor guy is having trouble sleeping from all the pain.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

I'm totally keeping my Christmas tree up through February! The twinkly lights make me happy and makes it feel festive inside, something we need this winter. I took all our special Christmas ornaments and red globes off, and turned it into a blue, silver and white tree for January. I'd like to find some white snowflake ornaments but that ain't happening for a while (I haven't been outside since going to urgent care).

Thursday, January 4, 2018

We are blessed to live in a beautiful place. Our walk out basement apartment overlooks trees and bushes and a creek. All day we see a variety of birds, especially bright red cardinals. Could not get a decent photo of one; this is the best of the worst (haha!) and if you look carefully, you'll see a little red glob in the middle. That's a cardinal!
Even if I can't get a decent picture of one, I'm just grateful to be able to enjoy them daily. We can see them from the kitchen, dining and living rooms.

Friday, January 5, 2018

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, IVAN! My honey turned the big 6-0 today! Our daughter,  the grandkids and her niece brought a wonderful lunch from Rua's, which we thoroughly enjoyed together, along with some play time.
Ivan had gone shopping in the morning and picked up those super sweet mini bananas which the kids enjoyed eating.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Ivan left with Tina, to go to Jonesville for the weekend festivities as our former home church installs Rob Stewart as the senior pastor. Rob started attending our church as a Hillsdale College student who helped out with AWANA, then began helping Ivan with the youth group, proceeded on to seminary and finished just as we were making the switch to missions, so there was a smooth transition from Ivan to Rob as the youth pastor at Countryside. Fast forward fifteen years and the church has added more staff (the current youth pastor is a young man who grew up at CBC) and after three years of Senior Pastor John doing less and less and Associate Pastor Rob doing more and more, they are officially handing over the baton as Rob becomes the senior pastor. I'm sad to miss this really special occasion but I'm glad Ivan and Tina could go!

Meanwhile I'm hunkering down, doing my best to get better. In hopes I'd feel well enough to get started on Eisley's quilt, Ivan picked up an overhead projector from a friend for me to use. I spent a few days playing and "auditioning" fabric for the quilt, so I have a pile ready to use (trust me when I say there WILL be changes, there always are).
For those who have read my blog for a while, you know I design my own quilts, using a projector to transfer the pattern, first to paper that serves as a master for the design, and then onto freezer paper that I can cut up and use for pattern pieces.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

While Ivan's gone I'm in charge of taking care of his winter project:
Can you guess what it is? I think I'll leave it a mystery for now. See if anyone can figure out what it is (Rita, you can't answer because you already know! haha!).

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

My 2017 Reading List

Kind of funny that I thought I'd read more being back in the U.S. and having access to the public library system. The opposite side of the coin is, life is much busier and goes at a faster pace here, so end result: fewer books read. Final tally for 2017: 43 (and several of those were novellas).

I'm rather appalled to look back and see I finished only one non-fiction the entire year. Reading was my escape from what was happening in real life and I turned to novels. Not a lot of standouts, sad to say. It's my own fault because I haven't taken the time to learn about what's new and good out there. I'd go to the library, check out a ton of books and end up returning most of them unopened because of lack of time and/or disinterest. Many days I didn't read at all, because by the end of the day I was too tired. I fell behind on following blogs, on reading books and articles and magazines... Has anyone else found that it takes a lot of emotional energy to engage in books? I don't remember that being an issue in the past, but it sure was this past year.

My one and only non-fiction was "Daring Greatly" by Brené Brown. I love her books and her honesty; her words resonate deeply within, and I find myself physically nodding my head as I agree with much of what she writes. I haven't read her latest, "Braving the Wilderness" although I checked it out; again, that lack of emotional energy coming into play.

The other non-fiction I started is a book I haven't finished, one Ivan and I are reading together: "The Summer of the Great Grandmother" by Madeleine L'Engle. Just hit a little too close to home with mom's hospitalizations and then Sharon's death. Hopefully we'll be able to finish it in 2018. We plan to read all four books in L'Engle's Crosswicks Journals series (this is #2).

Now for the fiction... Maybe because of what was going on, the books that touched a chord were those that didn't necessarily end happily, but felt like they ended honestly. Like "The Atomic Weight of Love" by Elizabeth J. Church. Spanning the 1940s through 1970s, we follow Meridian Wallace from university in Chicago to Los Alamos. Her search to find meaning and purpose in the life she's chosen reads more like a true life memoir than a novel. The story bore no relation to anyone I knew, but it brought to mind scores of women like my mom from that time period.

"The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry" by Gabrielle Zevin was another heart rending story. One of the publicity blurbs said, "You don't want it to end" and that's exactly how I felt.  I sighed when I finished it, and would have petted the cover except it was a Kindle download from the library.

My last book of the year was another sad but satisfying book: "The Story of Arthur Truluv" by Elizabeth Berg. I loved how the author brought such disparate characters together to create a "family" of sorts; well, more like a mini community that supported one another. The book was not at all what I expected, and maybe that's the reason I liked it so much.  

Aimed at the young adult audience, "Amy & Roger's Epic Detour" by Morgan Matson made me laugh, cry and want to physically cheer the duo on in their grand adventure across the U.S. It also made the mother in me want to wring their scrawny necks!

My wackiest choice of the year was without a doubt "Sourdough" by Robin Sloan. This doesn't fit neatly into any genre. It's part romance, part sci fi, part magic realism...but always fun. And funny! This book made me snort laugh.

Rounding out my top picks for the year are two by favorite authors. I signed up on the waiting list for both months in advance, as soon as I knew their publications dates. Neither disappointed.

"Glass Houses" by Louise Penny is the latest Inspector Gamache novel set in Three Pines, Canada. Ever since reading "Still Life", the first in the series, I've been hooked! Would love to see these made into movies; the plots are unexpected, and the writing lyrical. Not your typical mysteries at all.

I'll end with what had to be one of, if not my absolute, favorite books of the year: "To Be Where You Are" by Jan Karon. The thing with Karon's books is that the characters have become like friends, to be welcomed back into our homes again and again, picking up where you left off like you do with good friends. More character than plot driven (although yes, there is always a plot), to read a Mitford book is like sitting down for a nice long chat over tea with a good friend, preferably on a porch with a light breeze blowing and the scent of lilacs in the air. Comfort reading at it's best!

Only eight books out of 43 made the reading list for last year. The rest of what I read was okay, but not good enough to pass along here. So how about it, friends, what have you been reading that you can recommend?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Limping into 2018

"Relax in my healing presence."

That was the opening line in my daily devotional this morning. That had double meaning for me today.

I need physical healing after coming down over the weekend with bronchitis complicated by acute asthma. Not much sleep, sore stomach muscles from excessive coughing, and just the sheer exhaustion of trying to breathe have me yearning for the healing touch of God.

But even more than that, I yearn for emotional healing. I'll be frank, 2017 kicked my butt. It's a year I'm happy to see in my rear view mirror. Unlike those who joyfully jumped into 2018 with great anticipation, I sorta limped in, worn and battered by the events of this past year -- both on the world and national stage, and personally.

I'm not even going to try and fake enthusiasm. I'm just going to be honest and tell you I'm hurting but daring to hope God will use the mess of 2017 for His glory.

We enter 2018 with so much uncertainty, and I know that's true for everyone, but it feels like there's nothing solid beneath my feet except the promise that He knows the plans He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11).

I'm appalled at the attitude many believers have taken toward those who are fleeing war torn homelands, toward those who grew up here but are somehow "less than" because of their ancestry, toward those who are in need of protection from predators... The list goes on. Where is the love that is supposed to mark us as different from the rest of the world? Why are we not bending grace as lavishly as He gave it to us? Too many Christians are choosing to ignore large portions of Scripture that clearly show us how to treat those around us, including the most basic command after loving God: "Love your neighbor as yourself."  (Mark 12:31)

I hope to share some stories over the coming year that bring into focus the fact that "those people" are individuals just like us.

During Advent we were asked to share and light the fourth candle: the love candle. Personally, we are asking God to show us what love is, and what does it look like? It's something we're grappling with in a difficult situation. We can say with certainty that comfortable, convenient and simple are not words that have surfaced. We doubt that Love was any of these for God in human form, yet He, being God, loved perfectly.

What we do know is that what love is, and what it should look like, don't always go hand in hand. We are severely crippled by self in the loving department. It's an ongoing exercise to be more like Him, to love like Him, and have the attitude towards others that He has. Showing grace doesn't come naturally, but throughout this situation God has constantly reminded us that He's the one who changes people; what He's asking of us is to be faithful, to be obedient in loving like He loves. Each moment has to be informed by His Spirit and His Word because on our own we're incapable of showing true love.

My prayer is that 2018 will be a year marked by love and grace, shown abundantly by His people to those who need it most.