Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reflections on Life

The New Year is nearly upon me.  I am always surprised by how fast the old year went by.  My days seem to run together... where did they go? 

My mind travels in strange patterns this time of the year.  I find myself missing those who have journeyed on from this life to the next.  I allow myself to feel regret at what was, what wasn't, and what will never be.  A life not lived to the fullest, feels like a life not lived at all.  Night dreams have been haunting me with hopes just out of reach... roads not taken... and roads I wish I'd never taken.  There is a sorrow in saying goodbye to the past that leaves an ache in my throat and in my heart.  Fighting to hold back tears I sit with it for a time, that burning ache, and then I let it go. 

Memories will revisit me again, but for now I lay the past down.  I gaze toward the future, but it is unclear, hazy, hidden in clouds of uncertainty.  The best thing, the only thing, is to live this day.  This beautiful day full of hope and promise.  When I am in the moment, there is no room for doubt, regret, or fear.  There is just thankfulness for everything I see.  Family, friends, and a beautiful world which, on this morning, is covered in a blanket of freshly fallen snow. 

As I leave you to go make myself a cup of hot tea, I hope you are releasing the old... not fretting over tomorrow... but living this moment, with your whole heart.



Copyright 12/30/2009 ajj

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!


  I just wanted to take a moment to wish each one of you a Very Merry Christmas! 

I hope you are tucked in with your family sharing food, music, games... making memories!  At my home, we are having a simple Christmas with just my immediate family. 

We are getting ready to watch a movie while Christmas dinner cooks.  These are the times we will remember when we look back on our lives... simple times, sharing our faith and our love with friends and family! 


Blessings and Love,
Nita Jo



Oh, before I forget... please feel free to take a copy of the beautiful angel image, compliments of Dover's Free Samples.





Thursday, December 17, 2009

Give Away, Warning, and Update on Lucky13



Hurry to sign up for a wonderful give away at Castle And Cottage Signs.  Paula is giving away one of her signs, pictured here... "Believe"

To go there, just click on her highlighted blog name (above).  All you need to do is leave a comment. Go now because the drawing ends Sunday evening at 7 PM!  While you're there, take a look through her beautiful blog!

~  ~  ~ 

A Warning Note:  Donna, of Made in Heaven had her Yahoo Mail and FaceBook Account hacked!  They now have the name of the hacker.  She was able to have her mail restored, but her FaceBook is still shut down.  A reminder to be cautious of unsolicited email and of FB applications.  I am choosing to stop most applications on FB for the time.  You can read about what Donna has gone through by clicking on her blog name above.

~  ~  ~ 

While I'm online, I want to thank each of you for your prayers for my son.  The diagnosis was Epstein-Barr Sydrome, which began as a virus last spring.  It can be a long road before it is out of his system, but we are trusting in God to carry him through this.

He is in less pain, but the dizziness and exhaustion are persisitant.  We had to withdraw him from High School which was hard because it's his Senior year.  The school district provides a free online school.  He began classes a couple weeks ago.  He'll take one or two at a time.  So far he has all A's!  How all this will empact getting into a university of his choice, we just don't know.  We were counting on his involvement in Orchestra to help, but there is no way to do that online.  Lol! 

One of the greatest blessings in all of this... his online school counselor has been through Epstein-Barr.  Her daughter was housebound for a year with it.  The counselor had to take a leave of absense to care for her.  She said she will do whatever it takes to support Evan and make sure they accomodate him until he graduates.  We are so blessed!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Memories

I'm overwhelmed with Christmas memories today.  So many wonderful times, and high hopes for another amazing time with family this year.  My childhood Christmases were filled with magic... fun decorating the house and the tree, music, caroling, lots of family, great food, and there were the presents. 

Grandma used to let sis and I help decorate a special tree for the dining table.  It started with a Styrofoam cone, then we covered it from top to bottom with colorful, sugary gumdrops.  We used toothpicks to secure them, so when dinner was over you could pull a gumdrop off the tree and it would be on it's own little stick.  We would keep filling in the blank spots with more gumdrops, till there were no more in the bag. 

When Christmas was at our house, the grown-ups sat in the dining room and the kids squeezed around the kitchen table.  I remember when the kids table got too full and I was promoted to the grown-up table!  It was so exciting.  I now got shrimp cocktail for my appetizer, instead of fruit cocktail like the little kids! 

I find that most of my memories are not of the packages I received, but of the gift of family and friends... I remember the love.

Have a blessed day my friends...
Nita Jo

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fantastic Giveaway!



Dawn, of The Feathered Nest, is hosting a Giveaway to celebrate her 1200th Post!  There will be multiple winners.  The prizes are:

A Sweet Nest Baby in a jar
and
A French themed journal! 

She will add trinkets and treasures to both of these gifts! Three egg soaps to go with each ..... and, the winner can pick the color they love, ivory or blue.
 
The Giveaway ends December 13 at 6pm EST! 
Click The Feathered Nest to enter.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Banners, Pictures, Images... Oh My!

I cannot get the hang of sizing pictures for my header.  I have an early photoshop program, but it's Greek to me!  I miss my old photo program that came with Windows 98.  It was easy to layer images, add words, edit color or size.  *sigh*

I apologize for the "hugeness" of the header image.  I have been sitting here for the last hour trying to create something that will fit.  I give up for today.

Also, does anyone out there know where your blog goes when you download a copy to save it.  It's not actually on my computer anymore.  When I click to open it, Internet Explorer starts up and trys to open it... and that fails too!

All of this is a result of trying to give my blog a fresh, new look for Christmas!  Please send me comments or email with suggestions.  Please... please... 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I had to laugh when I saw today's calendar page (below). 


Photo removed due to Copyright Issues.  Sorry...

That's about how I feel on Thanksgiving... all the preparation, cooking, cleanup... which involves deboning the leftover bird... "Turkey Schmurkey" just about says it for me!





This year is different though. No extra family members will be sharing dinner with us, and I will miss that part of the day. It will just be my little family of four. The fun part is, three of us voted out the turkey! We will be dining on roast chicken! It is one of my favorites, and my sweet husband agreed he would be fine without the traditional bird. He also baked two pumpkin pies earlier in the evening. PJ is the pastry chef in our home, and he's great at it! The house smells lovely... shades of cinnamon and spice.



My job starts in a few hours... making the layered salad, veggie trays, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and getting the chicken in the oven. All this will be done with the traditional sounds of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade playing in the background.

I love Thanksgiving! It's a time of sharing good food, fun, and memories with my family. I wish each and every one of you a day of joy. May it be filled with the making of new memories, lots of love, and shared laughter.

Blessings!
Nita Jo

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Quick Hello... and Quotes...

I'm a bit under the weather. So today, I'm just leaving you with a couple of favorite quotes...

"Friendship is unnecessary,
like philosophy, like art...
It has no survival value;
rather it is one of those things
that give value to survival."
~ C. S. Lewis
~~~
"Memory is a way of holding onto
the things you love, the things you are,
the things you never want to lose."
~ Fred Savage as Kevin Arnold in "The Wonder Years"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Nobody can make you feel inferior
without your permission."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Do you ever give people "permission" to make you feel a certain way? I know I have. Sometimes in the glaring "critique" of someone else's eyes or words, I've allowed myself to become inferior. So, the fault does not lie at the feet of the other person, it lies in my heart. And the word, lies, can be taken either way... to rest with me... or to deceive me.

I can't remember the exact moment I realized this truth. I do know, from that moment on, I took hold of an inner peace I'd never had before. It's as if the curtains were thrown wide open. No matter what someone else may think or feel about me, it is important to find out what I think of me.

I must have my own moral compass; that compass must be tempered by what I believe to be true. My moral compass tells me I have to be responsible to my heavenly Father. I must do my best to share His love and compassion to others; to extend His forgiveness, His strength, His word.

I am not a minister, or a teacher. I am not a Bible scholar, or a prophet. I am a believer, and as a believer I must be aware of my opportunities to touch another heart. It was a big step when I realized, I have been given control over certain deceiving emotions. With Christ dwelling in my heart, who should I feel inferior to? If I love the Lord, I must love myself as He loved me. And, in loving myself, it frees me to love others as Christ loves them.

It is a beautiful gift to recognize I do not walk alone; therefore, I can release any threads of inferiority that threaten to bring me down. I am so blessed...


Copyright November 17, 2009 ajj

Exciting Give Aways...

Here are some Give-Aways you may want to sign up for:

From KC Willis of Lipstick Ranch. She's giving away a beautiful flag,
"The Women-The Flag" 50 women for the 50 stars. Enter her Give-Away by Here. The deadline for entering is November 23. KC is also offering a workshop on marketing your art. To check out the Marketing Mindset Classes go Here.


From Donna of Brynwood Needleworks. She's giving away a selection of treasures, including an Earth Elements diffuser, an Acorn Ornament, a Moda "Patisserie" fabric Sweet Treats Bag, and more. To see all the beautiful items and enter the Give-Away, go Here.

I may be adding one or two more later on. Internet is sloooow!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Wonderful Day...

Well, I'm 53. Does it sound old to you? Does to me. I still think of myself as I was in my early 40's, although the aches and pains do remind me, often enough, that I'm not.

I've had a lot of birthday cards and well wishes. Such fun to hear from friends. My husband took the day off to spend with me. He's making me a Gooseberry Pie... Yummy, and also a Pineapple Upside-down Cake for the rest of the family. Nobody else likes Gooseberry... unbelievable that I raised two boys who have no hankering for gooseberries! Where did I go wrong? Oh well... all the more for me.

It's a gorgeous, sunny autumn day here in the Northwest. Our trees dropped their leaves during the past few days, and I mean dropped! There is a huge raking job waiting for us, if the wind doesn't carry some of them down the road or over to the neighbors (won't they love us). Oh! There are some racing down the street now!

I got a package in the mail Saturday! My Autumn Banner from Miss Sandy at Quill Cottage. It's beautiful! I hung it in my entry over my mirror. There were two pretty tags included, and it was wrapped in a cloth ribbon. It made my day! I smile every time I walk by it.



Please visit Miss Sandy at Quill Cottage... just click on the highlighted name. That will take you to the post about the banner. Sandy has also included a very detailed Tutorial so you can create a banner for yourself. Be sure to visit her home page and see her many other beautiful creations.

Sending you a huge "Thank You" Miss Sandy!

I love my banner!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Everything Old is New Again...


"When I was younger,
I could remember anything,
whether it had happened or not."
~ Mark Twain ~


I have been enjoying things lately, like reruns of old TV shows, old comic strips, old movies. The thing about getting older, and more forgetful, is that many things seem new again. I've forgotten the "punch lines" to many things. I laugh like it was all brand new, which of course, it seems to be. Having memory problems isn't funny, but it does have the silver lining of enjoying things... the old things.

When a friend tells that same old anecdote, I may laugh like it's the first time I ever heard it because, according to my brain, it may be the first time. I can see all sorts of fun possibilities in this. There is an upside to forgetfulness.

May my friends be kind to me because, if they have a younger brain, they may tire of me telling my "new" stories to them... over and over, and over again...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sleeplessness, Regrets, Faith

Another sleepless night has almost passed. Often during these times, I look back at unfinished ideas, unachieved dreams. There is only sadness in regret, so I try to justify the whys.

  • Why didn't I spend more time with my family
  • Why did I neglect my friends until it was too late to make a difference
  • Why am I the last to know when people are using me... making a fool of me
  • Why do I let despair wash over me
  • Why are there so many wonderful ideas in my head, but no energy to bring them to life
  • Why do the words escape me when my heart knows what I want to say
  • Why did I let other peoples opinions of me matter so much
  • Why haven't I completed one of my books
  • Why are the words piled up in the corners of my mind instead of being put on paper
  • Why isn't it enough to just be
  • Why can't I let go of the past

Wow! Just think what a total wreck I'd be if I didn't have God in my life. Such soul baring words leave me vulnerable to criticism from people that may not understand. That's ok. I am so much better at taking criticism. Maybe age has mellowed me. All I know is I need to write, I need to create, I want to shout out loud until I can hear myself above all the other voices in my head.

Myself

Imperfect, Vulnerable, Wounded, Failing

Reaching, Praying, Healing, Rising, Soaring

There are no boundaries if I believe in myself

If I believe in God, and I do

Faith sustains me

Copyright 11/13/09 ajj

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Update on Lucky 13...

All biopsies came back negative! No cancer! We are so thankful for that. There are some health issues, but nothing which is not treatable.

God has been good. He has been feeling better, less dizziness, but still nauseous and exhausted. We are hopeful that it will just be a matter of treatment options and that his life can get back to normal.

We did have to withdraw him from high school... Senior Year. This was a disappointment, but something we can live with. It's actually a relief for him. It was stressful to know he was falling so far behind as he's always been a good student. We are beginning the registration process to get him ready for a class with an online school. He will start slow, and add classes as his health continues to improve. This is a blessing! It wasn't that many years ago when this would not have been an option.

Thank you all for your words of encouragement, love and prayers! It has meant so much to us!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Moment to be Thankful For

Do you ever find you are letting the days slip by unnoticed? I certainly have. I get so wrapped up in the daily chores, the illnesses and other challenges, the little interruptions that come along, that I forget to enjoy the moments in my day. I'm talking about those significant little events that can be easily overlooked.

I just spent over an hour sitting with my Grandma. I hadn't been to see her recently due to the illnesses in my home. Her health has faded in the past couple of weeks. When I arrived, she was in bed. I noticed right away that her bed had been replaced by a medical bed that will raise her to a sitting position, or will lift & lower her feet.

I bent down to give her a hug, and she silently hugged me back. She couldn't talk to me and didn't even try. So, I just talked to her about my family, her friends, the weather, and she held onto my hand, squeezing it tightly every couple minutes. I began to pray with her, and I heard her begin to speak. The words were jumbled, but she was praying with me. After that, we just sat and enjoyed the sun streaming in through her window. Grandma tried to tell me something, and I finally had to tell her that the medicine must be making it hard for her to talk, because I couldn't understand her. She reach out with one hand, so I leaned forward and she grabbed a piece of my hair. "Oh yes, I got my hair cut." I told her, laughing. She looked at me with a bit of a smile in her eyes. She pointed at her shoulder and nodded when I asked if she needed a back rub. I rubbed her back. I can't tell you what a joy it was to be able to do that for her.

Our time on this earth is out of our control. It feels like Grandma may be nearing the end of her journey with us, but only God knows for sure. All I know is, I treasured each minute I sat with her today. I don't want to forget that each moment is a blessing, even when it's just sitting in prayerful silence with someone we love.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tested and Tried...

My son had his medical tests yesterday. At this point, they are inconclusive, though several biopsies have been taken. It will be 10 days to 2 weeks before we get results... so we wait.

In the meantime, we have withdrawn him from school which felt sad to me. It's his Senior year, and we all had such high hopes for this year. He is fine with the choice, relieved actually. He'll be taking classes through an online school that is available to him. He's smart, and a hard worker, so when he is feeling better, we hope he will just sail through the classes. He could still be a "Class of 2010" graduate, but the most important thing is to get him well again.

I feel a sense of peace resting over us. It's a beautiful autumn day. My husband is out mowing, hopefully for the last time this season. Oh, and I was fortunate enough to win the Autumnal Banner from Miss Sandy of Quill Cottage. It's beautiful! So, in the midst of "tests" and trials, there is still peace in our lives. We are blessed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November Ramblings...

Wide awake, listening to my niece sing (on YouTube... HERE ), and thinking bout tomorrow... well, later today... Lucky 13 has some medical tests. Praying for answers. Thankful that my husband took the whole day off to be with him. Much better for him to have Dad in the room than Mom. I'm at the tailend of a cold, and I'm glad to be able to sit home, sipping cups of hot tea, while I wait for a phone call telling me everything is alright....

Just read on Silver Vally Girls blog... HERE , that it is National Blog Posting Month. I'm already behind on that, but will try to blog at least a couple times a week.

Have I said how much I love November? It's my favorite month of the year. Maybe because it's my birth month, maybe because of Thanksgiving, or that it takes us into all the celebrations that lead up to Christmas. Concerts, gatherings of family and friends, community services, memory making times. I am in my happy place right now! Blessings to all!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Booo!

"There are three things I have learned
never to discuss with people:
religion, politics, and
the Great Pumpkin."

~ Linus VanPelt in
"It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"

Friday, October 30, 2009

Lucky 13...

I've had messages of concern from some of you, so I wanted to let you know I may be inconsistent (more than usual) with my posts.

My son is having some health problems that are giving us great concern. He will be having more medical tests this coming Tuesday. The doctors aren't even sure what they're looking for, or if they do, they're not saying it to us.

To those of you who pray, please remember him in your prayers. He's my youngest, called Lucky 13 on my blog. He has missed about 5 weeks of school. It's his senior year, and because of all this, he will be leaving his High School. He will take online courses to complete his schooling when his health improves.

I believe all will be well. God holds us... He holds all things in the palm of His hands.

Thank you for your prayers and your concern! It means a lot!

Blessings,
Nita Jo

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cast All Your Cares On Him...

Well, it's 8:26 am. I've been up all night and just now getting a bit sleepy. Too many things rattling around in my heart and mind. I prayed, I watched a program I had taped earlier, I ate (always a mistake to eat in the middle of the night), I did stretching exercises to relax my muscles, and nothing worked.

Do you ever have a difficult time laying your burdens down... casting your cares... resting in the love of God? Well, I do. I have trouble relinquishing control, but if I'm honest I have to say I'm never really in control anyway. My beliefs tell me that He, God, holds all things in the palm of His hand. So, as the morning sun greets me, I am going to lay down... my troubles... my concerns... my fears.... my head on my pillow, and sleep the sweet sleep of peace... confident that God sees and knows, and He cares.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Endless Yard Sale and Excess...

We are having such beautiful weather here. Perfect cool days and cold nights. Tomorrow promises to be a grand day for garage cleaning. If I had time to prepare, it would have made a perfect "last yard sale of the season" day. My husband has taken the day off to spend with us. Maybe take our son for a much needed haircut and run some errands.

Did anyone watch HGTV's 2009 Endless Yard Sale? Every time I see an episode, I want to be there! The Route 127 Yard Sale starts in Ohio and finishes in Alabama, taking you through Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia. That's 654 miles of yard sale bargains! Unbelievable! Tons of antiques and collectibles along with great deals on newer items. I love getting a bargain, but haven't actually been to a yard sale since early last spring. I made a deal with myself that I would eliminate all my excess "stuff" before bringing any new treasures home. That has been hard!

Trimming my excess has been hard too. And, I'm not just talking stuff. Over the past few months I have gained so much weight, and now we are heading into my favorite "eating" holidays. Part of the problem is that I have lost all desire to diet, and exercise is only what will make my arms and legs feel more normal, rather than what will make them look better... but I digress...

My excess "stuff" is still all around me. I've posted before about my good intentions to simplify. Impressive talk, but no action. I love all my goofy trinkets and keepsakes. And if, God forbid, they were all taken from me tomorrow, I know I would be fine. But they're all still here. Most of them anyway. Another big box went off to charity last week, and I have plans for more to go to the big Orchestra fund-raising yard sale next weekend. This will help pay for Lucky 13's spring Orchestra trip to Seattle. So see... I've been hoarding all these goodies for a reason!

I hope my craziness brings you a smile!

Blessings!
Nita Jo

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Life

I'm a long way from "Monday, Monday", my last post. I have gone through a variety of emotions during the past week.

  • Frustration... that my son is not much better.
  • Sadness... that I can't fix it. Aren't mom's supposed to fix everything?
  • Thankful... for friends who are praying and a God who cares for us.
  • Tearful... I don't know why, but I put in an old movie and just slipped away from reality for a while. Seemed to do the trick.
  • Joyful... Autumn is so beautiful. I love the frosty cold and the colorful leaves.
  • Reflective... I've had some quiet moments where stories have come back to mind. Things I need to put into writing before they slip away again.

Life is a continual forward-moving force. If we don't pay attention, it can slip right by us. It can leave us wondering what we did with all that time. I decided there were some things I needed to do differently, so I told myself to: Make a plan to notice each day; to celebrate the little moments, as well as the big events. Surprise old friends with a phone call or a visit. Surprise myself by trying something new. Find meaning in my life. Live with a purpose. Drink it all in... all of it!

And in doing all that, remind myself to thank my Heavenly Father for every minute of life He has blessed me with.

I hope your day is filled with blessings, both large and small.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday, Monday...

It's been a long Monday. It started out this morning, when I glanced out the kitchen window to see if the bus had picked up Lucky 13. I was just in time to see a car racing toward him, slam on the brakes, he jumped forward... Heart felt like it stopped! Then he got on the bus. The bus driver had been honking the whole time, trying to get the attention of the driver. Later on, my son told me the driver's windshield had been dirty. This was in a lighted intersection, bus lights flashing, some boys crossing just ahead of my son. He said he had one of those "hair on the back of the neck" feelings, heard a whirring that he realized was tires, saw the light from the headlights coming up fast and he jumped forward. She was within a couple inches of hitting him. After Lucky 13 got on the bus, his driver continued lecturing her out the window. Huge scare for all of us. We were very blessed that it was just a scare and not a trip to the hospital!

The rest of the day was spent catching up on sleep, filling a box for donation to the ARC, taking Lucky 13 to his follow-up doctor appointment... more tests. I didn't get much done this evening other than watch Dancing With the Stars. Then I decided to check my email.

There was a note from my niece, Nicole. She got three of her songs placed on YouTube. I'm very excited for her. She's a wonderful singer/songwriter/guitarist/pianist. Multi-talented! Here is a sample of her work.



Original song, Come Back Tomorrow.
Acoustic demo recorded in Seattle WA 2009.
Words and Music by Nicole Peoples (c) 2004
----------------------------------------

I've got the slippers on my feet, broomstick in hand
You say I'll understand; "Come back tomorrow"
It's always tomorrow
But I've followed this road for too long now
That I cant turn around, and go back now

I'm on a road, signs leading nowhere
It's gotta end somewhere
Only I just don't know
And I've followed this road for so long now
I wont turn around and go back now, anymore

Turn out the lights, lock up the door
Pull out the drive, hop on I-84
And I know I'm not coming back anymore
No, you wont see me around
You wont see me around

The freeway is quiet, this time of night
Scattered and sparse are the on-coming lights
The slower cars better keep to the right
cause I won't wait for anyone
I won't wait for anyone

Oh my! It's as if I've waited my entire life
Caught inside a stained glass bottle fermented in wine
But it's more than just a state of mind I'm in
More than just a state of mind, my friend

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Brenda Photo Challenge - Pets

Today is the Brenda Photo Challenge. To see my entries, go to Nita Jos Photos. To see all the other wonderful photo entries, go to the Brenda Photo Challenge Blog.


I am loving this day. It's a cold, crisp, autumn day. My favorite kind. When I'm done here, I plan to watch my tape of Amazing Race, sort through piles of magazines that I haven't had time to read, and later put in one of my favorite autumn movies... Arsenic and Old Lace or The Trouble With Harry. Both are set during the fall season. I also love The Four Seasons with Alan Alda and Carol Burnett. That's only a few of them... so many choices.

Hmmm... an old, blue 52 Chevy just pulled in to the driveway. Guess the car show closed early... must not have liked the rainy cold weather. I just remembered there's a BSU game on tonight. They've been doing well. The movies will wait for another day!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Happy Birthday, Dear Kevin..."

Happy Birthday Kevin!

I can't believe you are 51... I also can't believe I missed doing this for your 50th. That's what happens when your older cousin gets really old!

This is one of my favorite pictures of you. You were such a sweet little guy, and you haven't changed.

You are a person with heart, commitment, and full of love for your family, friends, and students. You are one of my very favorite people, and I wish you joy today and every day!

Love and Blessings!
Jo



Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Scribblings - Cheese

Today's Sunday Scribblings Prompt is Cheese. Below is a little story I wrote for this prompt. If you'd like to read some of the other stories, poems, and thoughts on this prompt go Here. Following this post is last week's Prompt on Hunger.

No More Cheese

I guess I was about 11 years old. I was standing in the kitchen of my mom's little house. She had just carried in a box. She placed it on the counter beside a sack of things from the grocery. Something was bothering her. "Wow, that's a lot of cheese" I commented. There was a huge block of yellow cheese and some other food items in the box. No response. I looked at mom and saw the tears in her eyes. This was something I rarely ever saw. Mom just didn't cry, at least not in front of me.

"What's wrong, Mama?" Quiet. Then she took a deep ragged breath. "I will never take public assistance again! I don't care if we starve." she said, her teeth tightly clenched. I imagined it was to keep her from falling apart. Voice cracking, she said almost in a whisper, "People look at me like I'm trash. I will never put myself in that place again!"

It cut deep into my heart. My mom worked noon shifts and night shifts waiting tables. I also knew that sometimes her paychecks were zero, or near zero, because the restaurant subtracted any tips she received as part of her wage. If she got a lot of tips, she got no check. It never seemed right to me. I also didn't understand how people could judge a single mom for needing food for her family.

Nearly everything mom owned had come from yard sales, second hand stores, or from friends, who passed along things they no longer used. She worked hard to pay the rent, heat, utilities, and that left very little. Would those people, with their judgmental eyes and comments, have preferred to see her go without? All I knew is that my mother was hurt and hurt deeply, to have dropped her guard and let me see her tears and her pain.

After that if there wasn't enough change for a quart of milk, we drank water. She served a lot more macaroni, soup, and rice. And, there was never another big block of "free" cheese in her home.


copyright 09/27/09 ajj


Before I forget, there are more of my Sunday Scribblings on this blog. To see just the entries I've written for Sunday Schribblings, go Here. Also, if you click on a word under "Labels", just below, it will bring up stories or posts that have been written on the same subject. Hope this helps those of you who are newer to "blogland".

Sunday Scribblings - Hungry

Last week's Sunday Scribblings prompt was Hungry. Below is my piece. To read the others, go Here.

Hungry


It's near the end of the month. Mama looks so sad as she counts the small change in her handbag. Not even enough for a quart of milk. But she smiles at me, and drops the change back into her coin purse.


She opens the refrigerator. We have two hot dogs and a jar of pickles. She heats some water in the little pan, and tosses the dogs in. There are 5 slices of bread left and there is ketchup in the bottle . The three of us kids gather round the table. I'm the biggest, so I take the butter knife and spread a thick layer of ketchup on four of the pieces. Mama slices the dogs into long halves, and rolls each one up in a ketchupy slice of the soft white bread. She places them on a large plate, along with a few pickles, grabs a big blanket, and marches us all out into the common area.


We sit in the shade of a little apple tree. After handing each of us our hotdog sandwich, she pops the cap of one bottle of Coca Cola. We all get a sip. We eat the gooey dogs with big smiles and pass the Cola round again. Mama always knew how to make the simplest fare feel like a feast, and she made sure we never went without. We weren't hungry for food or for love. That hot dog sandwich picnic was one of the best we ever had.



copyright 09/27/09 ajj

Friday, September 25, 2009

Reflections on Trials and Faith

Well, it's been a long, long week. I am still dealing with MS issues, even with the three day course of steroid infusion. My youngest son has now missed 6 days of school... not a great way to start his Senior year. This is likely a continuation of the Epstein Barr Virus he got in the spring. He had to have further bloodwork done yesterday and has at least one upcoming medical test.

The mind hears littles whispers... why would God??? where are the miracles??? what have I done wrong???

My spirit just keeps reaching out to God believing, and knowing, all is not lost. We are not forgotten. Life sometimes just is what it is, and we are expected to make the best of what we are given. Like the story of three who were given talents from the Master, if we are given only one, we are still expected to make the most of it.

If my eyesight fails further, I have my boys who would proof-read my writing for me; I have a husband who will make sure I get where I need to go, and keep me safe; I have friends and family to talk to; I have ears to hear books on tape and beautiful music. I have a voice to encourage my boys when their lives seem to be unbearable. To say to them, "Faith will see you through even this... and one day you will look back on all the challenges and adventures of your lives and thank your Heavenly Father for all He has done for you! In the mean time, do not be discouraged. Make the most of what you have been given."



Copyright 09-25-09 ajj

Friday, September 18, 2009

BSU & The Brenda Photo Challenge

My photo entries are up for the Brenda Photo Challenge. Go to
Nita Jo's Photos to see mine. Then visit the
Brenda Photo Challenge Blog to see all the other entries!
~~~
Oh, and I must say "Yay for BSU!" We won against Fresno tonight. It was a fun game to watch! I just recently got interested in watching football again. BSU is our local university team. Our favorite professional team is the Green Bay Packers.
Some of my favorite memories involve a baseball or football game on the television. Usually, my sis and I were either dusting, ironing, folding laundry, reading, or playing a board game. Grandpa would end up napping, but if you dared to turn the set off, he was immediately awake! "I'm watching that!" he'd say! Grandma would watch the baseball, but was not much of a football fan.
You may think dusting and ironing are odd "good" memories, but there was something very satisfying in working together. I still love the smell of a hot iron against a cotton pillowcase or a hanky.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Brenda Photo Challenge - FOOD

Brenda Photo Challenge - "Julia, Julia" - Food!

Due Date: Saturday, September 19th

Theme: "Julia, Julia"...FOOD

Any kind of shot concerning food...Your favorite maybe? Vegetables...Desserts...Complete Meals...Making dinner with the kids....Grilling...Baking...Get it? But it HAS to be edible...Hahahaa....well...you get the point!
(Rules and photo were copied from Brenda Photo Challenge)
To participate in the challenge, or to just enjoy visiting other blog photographers, click on this link:

My entries are posted on my photo blog. You can visit it by clicking on this link:
Thanks so much for stopping by!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Give Aways and Happy Sunday!

Here are two more wonderful Give Aways! The first is from Carol Anne's Boutique.

Click this image to go directly to the Give Away.


Here are some of Carol Anne's Give Away Items! Lovely!



The second Give Away is at Miss Molly's Cottage.

Click the image below to go directly to the Give Away post and sign up.



Miss Molly will be adding a picture of her Give Aways.


It is a lot of fun entering, and I have actually won a couple in the past. There are so many generous, sweet ladies in "blogland" and it's been a pleasure getting to know so many. When you visit these blogs to enter, try to take a minute or more to browse through their posts. I know you will enjoy it!

~ ~ ~

It's a happy Sunday for me! I do my final Solumedral (steroid) infusion, and get to remove the catheter. Yay! Some of the side affects are not so great... more facial hair (ewwww!), achy bones (and it thins the bones and can cause dental problems...boo!), puffy face, weight gain, metallic taste in the mouth, on and on...
I know which ones I will most likely get as I have had to have the 6 hours of infusions three other time. It really puts a stop to the attack I am having, and usually gives me more energy for quite some time. I decided not to have it when I had my last checkup 6 months ago. This time my neurologist and I went through the pros and cons. The worst was that over those 6 months, I had continued to go downhill. My left eye started losing vision just last week. It was definitely time to have this done again!


I believe in the gifts of healing that God has placed in the hands of doctors. This hasn't stopped me from praying and hoping for a complete miracle of healing, but I am so thankful that these treatments are available for me. I continue to support and pray for more revelation in the field of medicine... Cures for MS, Parkinson's, Cancers of all kinds, Lou Gehrig's Disease... and so many others. Pray and Believe with me!


Blessings!

Nita Jo

Sunday Scribblings - Tattoo

The Sunday Scribblings prompt is Tattoo. I don't have any tattoos, unless you count the many physical markings that have been added by age and nature. It's not that I haven't thought about it, but I have so many "needle pokes" for medical reasons that I have lost the desire for any extras.
Some favorite tattoos I have seen...
My cousin Laurie had her name tattooed in shorthand on her ankle. Very small, understated and pretty. Someone will always know who she is... well, if they read shorthand!
My Lil Sis, Lana, has several... Orion's Belt on her shoulder, her name in Elvish (I think) on her lower leg or foot, a Native American symbol with feathers on her abdomen... I think that's all. Each tattoo carries a special meaning for her. Her Native American heritage, her Scottish and Irish roots, and other very personal meanings.
A friend has a Chinese symbol meaning faith. Very pretty and inspiring.
I've thought a lot about what I would have done if I ever change my mind. My choices have changed dramatically since I was a young teen. Then it was a heart or a butterfly. Later on a Native American symbol... something from the Cherokee Nation. A Celtic knot or a four leaf clover. These days I am uncertain. Maybe it's because I am in a transition place in my Spirit. I am changing... hopefully growing in a positive direction. So for now, the tattoo is not on my life list. If that changes, I'll be sure and let you know.
Be sure to click on: Sunday Scribblings to see what other writers have shared. If you want to read my older posts for Sunday Scribblings click on: My Sunday Scribblings
I haven't participated much recently, but the link will show you all the posts I did complete.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Dear Son...

It's hard to believe my firstborn is now 23 years old. Here are a couple of my favorite pictures of MJ when he was very young...


How he loved to sing!

Isn't he the cutest thing! He had a train conductor hat that matched his OshKosh overalls!

I know it's an overused cliche, but time really does fly by. It seems to go faster the older I get. We had a nice family dinner, just the four of us. PJ brought home "the works" from one of our favorites, the Hong Kong Restaurant. It was just as wonderful as I remembered. Grandpa and Grandma took our little family there many times after a Sunday morning service. We had the Spanish Chow Mien along with our meal, in their honor. It was delicious! Later, we'll have one of MJ's favorite cakes... Lemon Poppy Seed Bunt Cake with Lemon Frosting. Since my hand has a wrap on till tomorrow night, PJ made the cake and I made the frosting. We got done with presents in time for MJ to turn on the BSU football game. I hope it's a win tonight! That would be the topping on the birthday celebration! Go BSU!

I love you son! May this be the start of another wonderful year for you...
"and many moooore..."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Something To Smile About...& Remembering 9-11

Catch of the Day

Patsy (my aunt) and Leah (my mom)

  • I was looking through a box of my old photos when I spotted this one. I wish I knew the story behind that fish. All I know is it's huge! I can see from mom's smile that they were having a great time. I hope the picture made you smile!

  • I also hope that you are able to look back on this day, with less pain than on previous "September 11" anniversaries. Pam Warden posted a beautiful tribute. It's very uplifting, and you can see it by clicking on this link: Pam Warden Art

  • There's something to be said for looking back on the good old days. I hope each of you is making an effort to create happy memories for the next generation. With faith, we can not only heal from life's hardships... we can overcome and find our joy again!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

I hope everyone is having a great holiday. It was a long weekend for PJ and Lucky 13. My family is going to barbecue steaks later. I have to come up with a couple of sides to go along with. Probably make it something simple... baked beans, salad, some sauteed onions. Yum!

I've watched a lot of DVD's the past couple of weeks. They finally got the first season of Thirty Something at Netflix. It's very nostalgic for me. It came out when I was in my thirties, and that was when my boys were little. I love looking back at the hairstyles and clothes.

I've also been watching The French Chef with Julia Child, informative and very funny! I haven't been to Julie and Julia yet, but I'm planning to see it. Other DVD's I've seen recently are a Watercolor Painting Series (yes, I'm going to try my hand at watercolor painting... haven't done that since I was in High School!), How to Marry a Millionaire (Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable - love that movie), Grey Gardens (the movie and the documentary... that's where my blog name comes from), The Jane Austen Book Club, French Kiss, The Reading Room, Daddy Long Legs, and the Midsomer Murders series. There were more... too many to list. When I can't read, I watch... makes the bad days go by easier.

Today is a great day for me. Feeling better, getting some "online" stuff done, some "at home" projects and cleaning done, and spending time with my husband and boys later. *Sigh*... these are the good things in life. Hope all of you are having a blessed, peaceful day.

Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you."
~ Annie Dillard

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Brenda Photo Challenge - Purple

To see my "Purple" entries for the Brenda Photo Challenge, go here:
To see the other participants photos, Be sure to click on:


Go to the comment section and click on the names.
This will take you to each blog to see all the entries.

Have a blessed day!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Healing Love in a Hug

The touch of a hand, a smile, a hug... sometimes that's all it takes to turn the day around. A few days ago, I forced myself to go visit Grandma Martha. I hadn't been feeling well. I was so tired, but I could not shake the small voice that said "go"; I pulled myself together, combed my hair, and headed out.

When I arrived, I had to wait. They'd changed the security code. I finally made my way over to the dining area. Scanning the faces of the ladies, I didn't see her at first, then she raised her hand in a wave. On her face was a huge smile. As I came closer, Grandma raised both arms into the air for a hug. It was all I could do not to weep. She looked so small, sitting in her wheelchair with upraised arms. I bent down, and she pulled me in close and held on so tight. It was a long, healing embrace. I sailed back to my childhood, to the safety I always felt in Grandma's arms; I hope I brought her that same feeling of safety, of love. I owe her so much, this once powerful woman of God. She taught me to pray; she taught me to sing; she showed me how powerful faith could be; she lay beside me on my bed, praying for healing, when I was near death.

How do I say "thank you" when she doesn't remember all she's done; when the memories of her life are confused and clouded over? How can I make up for all that I left unsaid? It has to be in the small things; the hugs, the holding of her hands, giving love and comfort. She no longer appreciates the grand gestures, the expensive gifts. Now it's all about what the heart can appreciate. Even when the mind isn't clear, the body, the soul, and the spirit can be touched with the healing love of an embrace.

As I left that day, I turned at the door to wave. She was smiling and waving just as I knew she would be. My drive home was much more joyful than the drive there had been. My heart had been touched with the healing power of a smile and a hug.



copyright 08/29/2009 ajj

Friday, August 14, 2009

Updates on My Life...

Medical update: No Cancer! (I know I didn't say much, but was very worried.) All tests were great except the bone density. I'm now 5' 7" (formerly 5' 8-1/2") and officially have Osteoporosis. Yes, I'm taking calcium, vit. D, etc. Can't tolerate the hormone replacement, but increasing soy.

Life update: Nothing much going on. The weather is cooling again for the next 2 or 3 days. Love it! PJ is on a hiking trip this weekend with two friends. Lucky 13's been spending all of his time completing his three online courses. MJ keeping busy at work, and he's been attending lots of concerts and activities.

Creativity update: Well... I've begun several art/craft projects. Completed none. I have a major writing block. I feel like watching old movies or laying in the grass watching the clouds go by.
I did give up Diet Coke about a month ago... Time to pour myself a tall glass of iced tea, with the caffeine.

Quote for today:

"Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none."
~ William Shakespeare

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hot August Afternoon

I certainly got spoiled up in the mountains last week. The temperatures were in the 80's, and a wonderful, cool breeze blew off and on every day. I have not checked the temperature here, but when I went to the mailbox a few minutes ago it felt like an oven... hot and dry.

Our church camp was wonderful. I didn't get the chance to do much about my projects I took along, but I had the best time just catching up with friends. There was a service each morning and evening. The music was youthful and loud. At times, too loud for me. When did I get so old that loud music is not fun anymore? There were some softer worship songs blended in. I'm beginning to think it's time for a hearing check. I couldn't make out the words on most songs. I haven't gotten my glasses prescription filled, so I couldn't read them either. LOL! I did a lot of humming and clapping along.

There were some amazing speakers. They brought lessons that applied to the young people and the adults. It was a time of renewal and reflection for me. I may share more later. Right now I need to decide what to prepare for dinner tonight.

Oh, for those of you with an artistic side, the Mind Wide Open Challenge is going on this week. Check it out at:
Mind Wide Open
If this link doesn't work, you can click on the photo link on my sidebar. Gail has posted a very sweet image this month. I'm going to see what I can do with it.

Hugs & Blessings!
Nita Jo

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Away For a Bit...

Hello friends! Sorry about my lack of new material. Summer has me either tired and napping, or sitting in an easy chair with sweet tea and a good book! I also have a dozen or more magazines that I am enjoying. It's so nice to have reading glasses!

Before I go any further, I must say "farewell" to my oldest niece. She hit the road in a U-Haul early today. She is off to pursue the only thing she has ever dreamed of... to be a full-time singer/songwriter/musician. She's written hundreds of songs and has performed locally. Now she is on to the next phase of the dream. I will miss her so, but I wish her love, joy, and success. I will be waiting to purchase that first CD!

I will be gone this week, but will be checking back in with all of you next weekend. I'm taking some reading material with me, my sketchpad and pencils, a notebook, and a comfortable camp chair. Maybe the change of scenery will inspire me back to my writing.

Speaking of inspiration, here are some Free Images for you. They come from Dover Clip Art, which offers a large assortment of images to use in your art projects. They should enlarge when you click on them. Then just right click and save to your own art file. You can save them even if they do not enlarge. There is a frame from one of the many Celtic books, an image from the Gibson Girls collection, and two florals from Ladies Flower Garden. Enjoy!









Hugs & Blessings!
Nita Jo

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Heat Wave...

It is blistering hot for my part of the world! In the 100's, and I tend to feel overheated when it gets to be 75 or higher. Heat makes me tired and lethargic. I have been neglecting my blog, my housework, shopping, and just about anything that takes energy. I wish I lived near an icy cold lake! ok... enough whining...


This week has been busy. Doctor visits... yearly tests, which I hadn't done since 2004! Now that is procrastinating! You know... the mammogram, bone density, bloodwork, etc., etc...

I am also supposed to be planning what to pack for next weeks camp. Sounds like it will be a hot weather year, and I do not have the figure for shorts! I only have two of the capri length, so tomorrow I am hitting the local Walmart sale with hope that they still have a few of the "big gal" sizes left.

I wish I had something more excitng to share... I'm even yawning while writing this post, but I promised myself I'd write something today... Sorry, this is it! LOL!

Just in case they are reading my blog... "Happy Birthday to Brian Peoples (one day late) and Ms. Jessica (today is the day)! I hope you both had a wonderful birthday. I love you both so much!!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Brenda Photo Challenge

I haven't done the Brenda Photo Challenge for a while, but plan to do this next one.

The theme is "Keeping Cool" and is due to be posted on August 1. Mine will not be up until the afternoon of the 1st, so check back.

If you want to play, or just look at all the photo entries, go to: The Brenda Photo Challenge Blog

This is fun for beginners or experienced photographers! Have fun with it!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Soak...

Soak is the name of our church`s midweek worship service. It's one of the newer activities, though I'm sure it's been going for a year or so. Anyway, I went for the first time last night. It was a warm, wonderful time. Lights low, Laurie* playing the piano and singing. People lost in prayer, singing along, or both. She led in a selection of new songs, some she wrote, and some old well-loved hymns and choruses.

It was relaxing and uplifting. Following was a meeting of our volunteers that are working at this summers Youth Camp. I love camp, and am planning to go this year. They are very kind to me and usually give me a job helping with the afternoon snack bar. My husband will be helping in the kitchen again.

One of the fun things about the volunteer meeting was seeing the faces of so many "kids" that grew up in the church, and attending camp, now volunteering as counselors, etc. They are passing on the camp legacy to the next generation. This is the 50th Anniversary of our Church Camp. I attended many of those years, beginning at age 7. I have so many wonderful memories. It was always the highlight of my summers.

Well, it's time to go pull a few weeds, before the temperature gets too high. Supposed to be 100 or so today. Too hot for me! I am going to spend part of my afternoon in a movie theatre with my friend DeAnn and our boys. I think it's been over two years since I went to a theatre! And yes, I am going to buy the small (but highly overpriced) buttered popcorn and an icy Coke!

*Laurie Roberts - See sidebar photolink to hear some of her music. (Yes, this is another bold, unashamed plug. I happen to think she's one of Christian radio's undiscovered treasures! God is using her nevertheless...always the more!)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Nita's Challenge

Nita, of Red Tin Heart, gave a challenge. I've had a crazy week, so I'm just now getting to it.

  1. Romance - I watched the movie, "While You Were Sleeping" as one of my favorite romantic movies. I think it's the instant connection they have that reminds me of PJ and I. There was a connection the second time we met. Our first meeting had been at a church event in Idaho Falls, Idaho. It was a huge group of people. I remember noticing his eyes, and that was it. I went back to my home town. A few years later, while working in my church gym at the snack bar, one of my friends said, "Anita, I want you to meet someone." There he was, this tall, goofy guy with wrinkled clothes (later I learned he did his laundry at the laundromat, and instead of folding them, he just squished them into the hamper to take back to his apartment). I avoided him like the plague for five months. At that time, we were seated across from each other at a graduation banquet. I could not deny my attraction to him, so I decided to try to get to know him. Once we had our first date, I knew he was for me. Five weeks after that, we were married at church following a Sunday morning service. Simple & inexpensive. My Grandpa Evert did the ceremony. After 28 years, I still cannot imagine spending my life with anyone else!
  2. No beach for a sandcastle... instead I went through photos of fun times when I was young. It's surprising how many things I left behind that I loved to do. I made a commitment to put some of the fun back into my life. Sorry, there was no way to take a photo of that.
  3. Say No! This is one of the hardest things for me to do. I like pleasing people and have been known to take on more than I can possibly manage. The trouble is that over the last couple of weeks, nobody has asked anything of me. I was prepared to use "I have Chronic Toolazytoomoovitis" so I will save it for the next request! Lol!
  4. Dress Up. I'm basically a jeans and t-shirt or sweater gal, but on our Anniversary we decided to ask two of our closest friends to go to dinner with us. I dressed in slacks and a summer sweater (yes, that's dressing up for me), applied a touch of mascara and off we went. We had a wonderful time. After dinner, they invited us in to play a "brisk" game of Dominoes (none of us are getting any younger... lol)! We had not done that in ages and it was so much fun!

Now for my list of goals. This list does not include the obvious of taking better care of my family, and my commitments to God. This list is for personal growth in other areas. It was a more difficult task for me...

  1. Remember how to have fun... and do it!
  2. Do more writing, and find my voice in my writing.
  3. Let my inner artist out and only do art I enjoy.
  4. Read more. Find the love of reading I once had.
  5. Bring music back into my life; listening, singing, and playing... not for anyone else, just for the sheer pleasure of it.

The most important thing about this list is, we are to accomplish our goals in the next 6 months. I have a habit of putting things on the back burner. Especially the fun things. Like many others, I make excuses for not achieving what I want out of life. That said, I am adding a sixth goal; No more excuses... life is just too short!

Regarding the little things, remember, no gesture is too small:

"If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one." ~ Mother Teresa

And enjoy your life:

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." ~ Helen Keller



Sunday, July 5, 2009

28 Years and Counting...

I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July! I spent the day relaxing. I watched the movie I selected for Nita's Challenge over at Red Tin Heart. I will post about that in a day or so.

The new song selection is for my husband, PJ! Today is our wedding anniversary! We have been married for 28 years! When I think back over time, we have come through a lot. It's been quite a journey for us.

I was twenty four, and PJ was 23... don't we look young and happy! This was taken at the wedding reception. We decided to have a simple wedding. We were married on a Sunday, right after the morning church service. Our reception was a few days later, following our honeymoon to the Oregon Coast.

We had a whirlwind romance... we were married just 5 weeks from our first date! A bit crazy maybe, but we knew what we wanted. I don't advise that for most people, but it worked for us. A lot of rumors were put to rest when I didn't have my first child until 5 years later. Lol!

After the ceremony was finished, we met the family at our favorite Chinese restaurant, Golden Star. It is still a favorite of ours!

One thing I know for sure... I love PJ more today than I could have ever imagined all those years ago. I'm looking forward to what life brings us next. Whatever it is, we will be enjoying the adventure together!

Well, I can't decide if I'm up too early or stayed awake too late... whichever it is, I am going to go take a "nap" so I will be able to enjoy the rest of the day without nodding off.

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone...

and to my sweet husband...

I Love You Honey! Happy Anniversary!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Challenge... A Note... Birthday Wishes...

I just got a message from my friend, Nita of Red Tin Heart. She has posted a challenge for this week that is simple to do. It will be fun, and there will be prizes!

Nita has been through some major challenges in her life during the past year. She just keeps pushing along, keeping the faith, and she is always trying to rise above the dark days.

Join the fun at... Red Tin Heart!

On another note... I am feeling so much better! I actually got out of the house this past weekend for a church service. I hadn't been able to attend for several months. I'm learning to manage my pain differently... it may still take some tweeking, but I feel like I'm on the right track. My left eye is improving each day. It's just a couple weeks from the final check and my new reading glasses! That will make my computer time much more enjoyable.
My younger son is taking a Lifetime Fitness Class. I am printing out extra activity sheets so I can participate. I may not be able to do all of the acitivities and exercises, but anything is better than what I do now. Here's an appropriate quote for me...

"I have to exercise in the morning before my brain figures out what I'm doing."
~ Marsha Doble
And Last, but not least... Happy Birthday Wishes to:

My baby sister, AMR... in far away Arizona! I hope you had a splendid day!
My cousin, KLR... over in the tall pines of Oregon! If you're 52... I'm OLD!

Love & Blessings to all,
Nita Jo

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What I Must Do

My son marched in the Gay Pride parade last week. He marched for the rights of two of his cousins that we love dearly; he marched for the rights of some close friends; he marched for the rights of people he doesn't even know. His picture was in the local online newspaper with one of his cousins. This made me truly fearful, and I had to pray for peace. There are so many "haters" in this world. I'm not talking about people of faith who express what they believe. I'm talking about people who, sometimes in the name of faith, feel the right to maim or even murder those who are different. If "gay" is a sin, is the solution to admonish or punish with violence?

I have lived through tumultuous times in my years on this earth; civil rights, equality for women, Vietnam and other wars, abortion rights, gay rights. The one thing I know for sure is that I am not qualified to judge another. I make my decisions based on my own moral compass; by what I believe God has asked of me. I feel I have a charge, a mission, for my life; to serve God the best way I can, to bless my family with love and care, to be a peacemaker, to love the unloved and even the unlovely, to share my heart and the Christ in me.

My son told me of two different groups who were also at the Gay Pride Parade. Each was a church group. One waved signs of opposition and shouted angrily. The other church group handed out bottles of water and smiles. Guess which group touched the hearts of the marchers.

My salvation was earned with Christ's sacrifice. In my life, I know I've had areas of sin. The grace and mercy of God was given freely to me. How can I not honor that gift and extend it to others? By dealing with grace and mercy, I hope I can touch hearts. To those who do not know God, I hope I can show how real He is to me. To those who know God, their walk with Him is a personal journey. I am not qualified to sit in judgement. I am qualified to share the blessing of God's love, so that's what I must do.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Improving My World

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
~ Anne Frank


I saw this quote while visiting Joni's blog, Morning Coffee today. By the way, Joni has such a heart for people. Take a moment to visit her blog, I know you will be inspired by her.

Before I forget, I added a couple pictures to Nitajos Photos so just click on the name to take a look.

I've had a little project in mind, and this week my husband helped me get it done. I had purchased some flowers for my garden, but was not up to doing the planting. PJ got out the garden tools and said, "Just show me where you want them"... so sweet! My favorite part was having red geraniums planted in one of my little red wagons.


I love the way it turned out. The only thing I'd still like to do is add several more plants. Even without them, it's still a small improvement in my world. Every time I look at them I smile.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Life and Kitchens

Life...

Life has been a bit bumpy lately, but I am surviving quite well in spite of it all. I lost an extended family member one week, and an old friend passed away the next. The first loss was expected, but no less sad. Lou Gherig's disease claimed another life. This lady was a wonderful mom and grandma. She was one of those people who gave of her abilities and her time. She was one of the memorable people woven into the pattern of my life. Years of knowing her beginning when I was a small child. Rosalie will be missed, but heaven is brighter for having her there.

The second loss was a shock. I did not find out until my husband showed me the obituary in the morning paper. A late diagnosis of lung cancer, and my friend was gone in six short weeks. I cried like a baby. My tears were both for the loss and for missed opportunity. We hadn't gotten together in a long time... she had been on my mind... I was waiting to pick up the phone until my eyes healed so I could invite her to lunch... I will miss her bright spirit, her sense of fun, and her laugh.

I need to live like that crooked tree... that knelt down in the hardest winds but could not be blasted away. ~ Edward Hirsch

I may be standing a bit weathered and crooked, but I'm still standing!

Kitchens...

This week I returned to some of my organization projects. I decided to start with my kitchen. I'm placing excess utensils, containers, glassware, plates, etc. into labeled boxes that can be stored on shelves in my garage. Anything that I haven't used in the next 6 months will be donated. The only exception will be special holiday items like linens, platters, etc.

The kitchen is often the heart of the home. It's where we gather for nourishment, fellowship, creativity... I want mine to be warm and welcoming. A stress free environment. It's a great place to begin a home transformation.

"If you can organize your kitchen, you can organize your life." ~ Louis Parrish

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mind Wide Open Challenge - June

It's time for another Mind Wide Open art challenge (just click on the name to visit the blog). The word prompt is Wish and the photo that must be used in your project is below:

This is a lot of fun, and you can used any type of medium for your project. To read the rules or to enter, just go HERE

It is best to copy the image from the Mind Wide Open blog where it is larger, and more detailed, than the copy I am showing above. Even if you don't enter, you can vote once all the artwork is posted. The contest ends midnight JUNE 7. All entries will be posted JUNE 8 ready for voting.
The first place winner receives a $20.00 shopping spree with free shipping at Shabby Cottage Studio. Second and third runners up will each receive a free collage sheet of their choice.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

May Is Almost Over...

May is almost over! Where does the time go? Lucky 13 is almost done with his school year, although he plans to take a couple of online courses this summer.

I am seeing a bit better each day, but I am definitely needing the reading glasses! Thank goodness for the discount stores. I now have two pair, which is helpful when I misplace one!

My Grandma turned 91 years old today. I'm planning on visiting her tomorrow or Monday. I still have to make time to go shop for a gift. I'm thinking some slip-on summer shoes, or a new blouse. My uncle visited her today and took over a handful of cards friends had sent to her. She loves getting cards!

We are fighting a war with dandelions and clover in our front lawn. If I lived out in the country, like I did growing up, I'd just let them be. Maybe make a dandelion greens salad! Since I live in a subdivision... with covenants that do not allow anything other than strictly manicured lawns, we are forced to poison them. Oh well... I probably wouldn't have felt like a salad anyhoo!

I hope everyone is having a peaceful weekend. I'm loving mine!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'm Still Here!

Hello friends! I had my left eye surgery this morning. It went well! My eye will be dilated up to 48 hours but even so, I can see really well out of it. I am able to use my $2.00 reading glasses to see my computer screen, but I have to keep it to a minimum for a few days.

This has been an experience. I'm glad I did it, but even more happy that it's over. I am looking forward to enjoying my computer, reading books, doing some art & craft projects, etc. You know the classic question, "Would you rather be deaf or blind?" Well, I'd been saying blind because I have such a love of music and the sounds of wind, rain, birds, laughter. I've now decided neither is an acceptable choice. My uncle said "How about one good eye and one good ear?" He always has a way of bringing humor to every situation!

What I have discovered is that I am going to treasure the things my senses allow me to enjoy. The sights, the sounds, the textures, the colors: all are precious gifts to be thankful for. I don't want to take anything for granted.

Life should be lived fully and enjoyed completely! I am so thankful for my eyes!

Blessings!
Nita Jo

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

I almost missed posting this in time for Mother's Day. It's been busy at my house. All my guys were home. The celebration started with a French Toast breakfast and presents! The boys bought me a special brownie pan that makes brownie edges and corners... I love the corners! My sweet husband, PJ, bought me Season 4 of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and the special edition of Bringing Up Baby with two of my favorites... Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant! Later my guys all pitched in and bought us the new grilled chicken from KFC. It was very good. To top it off, PJ baked me his mom's special recipe... Rhubarb Custard Pie... So delicious!

Sooo, there was a lot of sitting, eating, TV... I'm not even going to say how much weight I need to lose now. I think I'll just bypass swimsuits this year... LOL (for a few of my friends who told me they don't know what the abbreviations are for, LOL is Laughing Out Loud).

I gave myself a few moments to miss my mom, my mother-in-law, and a dear friend who was like a mom to me. I thought of all the good things; the love, the laughter, the singing, the gardening, the yard sales, the hugs. I sent a "Happy Mother's Day" out to them, and then I picked up the phone and called the mother I have left here in this life... my Grandma Martha. We had a lovely visit. She told me about some interesting visitors she's had recently; she talked about the church service they had; she was having a wonderful day. It is such a relief to me that she is happy where she's living. I didn't know if she would ever adjust to living at a care center, but it has been the very best decision for her. She's made friends with other residents and staff, and she is very well taken care of. Plus, she's close enough to visit!

Wow.. I didn't mean to get so chatty. I'm seeing the screen a bit better. The eye doctor has given me daily wear contacts for my "good" eye, and I have reading glasses for the closeup stuff.

I can't stop thinking about what a wonderful life I have been given. I am so blessed. There's never been a day so dark, or an illness so terrible that my love and faith in God has left me. Don't misunderstand, I have struggled at times. The amazing thing is that God is always there for me, if I will just call out to Him.

May this day, this week, and this year, bring you new hope, new joy, and renewed faith.