Being nice matters and so does truth and Grace.

Time has marched on and yet I still can’t seem to wrap my brain around the horrific acts that happened in Connecticut.  I have prayed for the families.  I have mourned for them.  I have read the names of each victim.  I have lit our prayer candle.  We have prayed and lifted up their names. We have had several discussion about what can be done in the future to prevent such a thing from happening again.  I still have a crack in my heart.  I can’t seem to move forward in a smooth fashion.  I can’t seem to stand up straight, my shoulders stoop.  I can’t seem to clear the fog and see clearly.

I have decided to perform/act out if you will 27 random acts of kindness.  I have decided to keep a list for myself and maybe share a couple here or there.  Maybe nothing huge, maybe not news worthy………just simple acts of being nice.  Nice matters.  I am counting on kindness to heal my broken heart.  I am going to make an effort 27 times.  It has to feel at least 27 times better than it did before I started this venture? I have read on face book of others doing this.  I am going to give it a try.  I am doing this for me.

I have decided to bathe myself in the Grace of Kindness.

1.  I tipped the bikini barista $5.00 for a $4.00 latte.  She has never once judged me.  She is friendly and kind and always gracious.  I told her so.  I appreciate how good the espresso is and how nice she is to me.

2.  I wrote a heartfelt thank you note with pictures included to a great lady blogger who shared a pattern and her ideas for free.  I completed two dolls for Christmas gifts for our grandgirlies.  I wanted to make the effort to say thank you.

3.  Tomorrow, the remaining money in our monthly Charity envelope is going into a Salvation Army kettle.Salvation Army kettle  I am also going to buy the person a cup of hot tea.

3 down 24 acts of kindness to go………………….I don’t like having a broken heart.  I am on a mission to repair it.  I have chosen to be JOYFUL and KIND 27 times over.

In my heart I know He is among us.  Somehow, I have to stand up straight and work this through.  It may take me a bit longer than others, but I am going to make the effort.

Gently I have to remind myself (even if it takes 27 gentle reminders)………….I know He is still here, ruling the world with truth and grace.

It’s Thursday, Say Grace, get out the toaster and pass the butter, yep, real butter.

This year, for Christmas sharing,  I made up baskets that consisted of local Raspberry Jam, Tea and homemade English Muffin Bread.  english-muffin-bread-2-550Some of the baskets of goodness had ginger snap cookies or green and red apples, some had festive napkins and each got a hand full of hard candy or some kisses.  I nestled the treats in cushions of excelsior.  I made all the tags the same…….on a green luggage tag I wrote the words “Tea, a drink with Jam and Bread” and attached a fat plaid ribbon to each.

Here is the recipe for the Bread.  It is easy, quick and works every single time!  This bread makes the BEST TOAST in all the Land.

english muffin bread toasted

English Muffin Bread

5 cups all-purpose flour, divided

2 packages active dry yeast

1 Tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups Almond Milk (warm to 110*)

1/2 cup warm water

Cornmeal

In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt and baking soda.

Add warm milk and water; beat on low-speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl occasionally.

Beat on high for 3 minutes.  Stir in remaining flour (batter will be stiff).  Do not knead.

Grease two loaf pans.  Sprinkle pans with cornmeal.  Spoon batter into pans and sprinkle cornmeal on top.

Cover and let rise in a warm place (I set the pans  on a heating pan) until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake 375* for 35 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pans immediately to cool on wire racks.

Let cool a bit.

Get out the toaster, pull out a butter knife, “git” yourself some Irish Butter, and for the love of pure homemade comfort TOAST,  Say GRACE and take that first warm, slightly crunchy, aromatic, golden brown bite.  For heaven’s sake and for the sake of good Karma everywhere, share the other loaf with a neighbor or friend.  Pure Goodness.  Amen!

I choose Joy

Last night, after delivering a few more baskets with bread and jam and tea and goodies ………………the tag I made for each reads: “tea, a drink with Jam and Bread” we went on a mini date.park twinkle lights

Mr. Right stopped and treated to warm cups of cocoa and then we headed to a nearby town to look at a fancy schmancy neighborhood.  All but one or two homes are decorated beyond belief.  Picture this, Christmas tunes playing in the car, a warm cozy fleece blanket covering my legs, I have on a jaunty red scarf, drinking cocoa and oohing and awing over all the outdoor illumination.

Sure it was raining, sure we discussed some grumpy people who fell into our lives yesterday, sure we needed to stop and get gas, sure my knee was swollen and black and blue from a little mishap yesterday………..blah, blah, blah………forget all that stuff, as a friend gently reminded me this morning…………….look for the JOY.    I chose JOY!

Christmas Grace

At 11:00 pm last night, while waiting for two more loaves of bread to come out of the oven, I took a five-minute class!  Yes siree.  I watched a video on you tube, how to make a 3D paper snowflake!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5V5uRKL_eI  I love learning something new and fun and easy.  snowflake

Just another example of why I love technology.  I can take classes (any time day or night), learn things, look up things………pretty amazing that we have a “library” at our fingertips.  I love email and connecting with friends more often than snail mail.  I am even trying my hand at texting.   I love face book.   I have re-connected with so many great long, lost school chums.  Just the fact that I just typed “chums” tells you how old I am.  yikes.  I get to pick and choose who I follow.  I love getting the scripture verse of the day from one friend.  I drink my coffee over the latest quilt pattern and pictures I view daily.  I have a few friends who share silly jokes that make me giggle.    However, here it comes……………I am still old-fashioned enough that I do still write letters by hand, I still read my devotional from a book (also on my phone daily), I still go out and meet people in person and can have an actual conversation.

It scares me a bit when I see young people not able to hand write a letter or note.  I makes me cringe a little when I say thank you and the younger person says “no problem” instead of a more refined, “you are welcome”.  I scratch my head a bit when I hear someone has 487 “friends” but in real life, hides in her bedroom and does not engage in social activities.  I think part of the issue I have with poor manners is that when you are behind a computer screen, somehow it is easier to be “rude” when you are not actually looking at a person.  Please people for the sake of a kind and wholesome society we need to be loving and kind to one another.

Oh I am guilty of being “friends” and not actually seeing the persons beautiful eyes in person.  Last night was a different tune.   Instead of talking on Facebook, or reading an email, or sharing a photograph………………I actually hugged my real live friend!  Somehow, when we and I include myself in that category, get caught up in life and families and yes, blogging, somehow we “forget” to make the effort to get out there and hug someone for real.

In case it has been a while for you, here is what happens……..you make arrangements, the snow covering changes them slightly, you print a map, you bake ahead of time so you don’t come empty-handed, you chat with Mr. Right in the car, then all of a sudden a short 45 minute trip from your home, you get a little flutter in your stomach before that front door opens.  You are one, hoping it is the right home.  Two you are hoping that as much as you love the person on-line, that in real life time, things will be just as lovely.     Hold onto your hat folks, the instant that door opens you are welcomed with open arms like the prodigal son.  You are instantly bathed in a Grace like no other.  The juxtaposition of the chilly outdoors and the warmth and candle lit glow of the indoors describes the feeling perfectly.

To say that she is lovely on the outside as well as the inside, is an enormous understatement.   Her eyes sparkle with goodness.  While standing next to my friend, you can actually feel her heart spilling over with care and concern and love for others.  You instantly feel lucky to be with her.  Somehow you want to be a kinder person, you want to stand taller and be nicer just by being with her.  She has graceful gestures is one smart cookie and looks right at you when you are speaking.  When she introduced us to her son, you knew in an instant that she is one of those “good” moms.  They are proud of their children and love them greatly….and yet somehow now that the kiddos are actual grown ups you can tell she really likes them.  She wants to be friends with them.  Heck you want to be friends with them and go out to lunch and have a laugh and a conversation with them.    Here comes a good part of the story…………my Mr. Right meets her Mr. Right.  In a fleeting moment, you make the introductions, they reach out to shake hands, you want to somehow give them clues and background information to make it easier…………..both former counselors, both have two boys, both are good men who love and care for their wives…………..okay, they are grown men for heaven’s sake……………go talk, for the love of girlfriends everywhere PLEASE make it work, please like each other so that we will have that bond as well………..please……..

Oh, hey, 20 minutes passed, the girls are chatting and giggling and standing close and smiling.  What? What’s that……..the men folk (sort of forgot about them for a minute) are talking more than the women folk. Praise the good Lord.

Our brief Christmas hug exchange ended all too quickly.  Good byes and hugs and exchange of little bags of goodness…..the walk to the car.  Getting in and getting settled.  You know the drill, you wait for it, you wait, then you both burst out talking about how wonderful and smart and lovely they are in person.  You both are puffed up and pleased with yourself for making the effort to stop by and visit in person.  We talked and smiled all the way home.

I sort of want to take partial credit for “making” the effort to meet in person.  This my friends was way bigger than one person. This was a moment way more important and powerful than silly school chums wanting to meet.   We have all been on shaky ground since last week.  We all are asking why would someone be so awful.  We all are craving the kindness of others.  In a miraculous moment, the four of us were standing smack dab in the middle of pure goodness and thanks.  Thank you Lord for steering us in the direction of  real, flesh and blood friends.

I am not giving up my social networking, it is fun and silly and enjoyable. However,  last night I was gently reminded that being in the company of solid good people brings you up to a new level of goodness.  We need one another.  It makes us better people.  Standing with others, in person gives you a little more strength and courage to meet the troubles of the day.  Being bathed in Grace feels good.  It is there for all of us, free of charge.  We just need to remember to step away from the electronics once in a while and draw heartfelt kindness from friends in person.

Have I mentioned lately what a lucky girl I am?  I am grateful and thankful for giving and receiving Christmas Grace.  It feels warm and lovely and safe.

ps.  doing something nice for myself was just the sparkle I needed to increase my Christmas joy.

two pictures in one

When I have absolutely no control over sad events in our world, sometimes I turn to making things.  The sewing machine I can handle.  I can make it do what I want. Yesterday, I sewed “wine” bags which we are using to put special olive oil in.  We are giving Lucero Olive oil to a few folks this Christmas.   The Kitchen Aid, I can guide it to do exactly what I want.  Yesterday, I used it to bake dog treats, three loaves of bread, two batches of cookies.    Then there is paint.

While I do not want to get rid of a painted picture we received as a gift, I wanted to change it up a bit.  I guess I wanted to control the happiness level of how I looked at the picture.  So I give you the before and after of my type A personality.  Take something good, twist it my way and make me smile even more.   The original picture is a Welcome sign painted on wood slats with a rope hanger that has been brushed with paint.  I turned the painting over, removed the rope and added three coats of chalk board paint.  Then I added some chalk and some words.  So in essence I can use it one way, to Welcome guests or if I have a special occasion or birthday, I can flip the piece and write a different message to personalize the occasion.  Love that, two, two pictures in one.  Double the use.  Again, with my now thinking of Double mint gum….going to be thinking of those twins all day long now.

I like the painting, I love the chalkboard, I adore getting to use it two different ways.  I even get to control the words that I choose.   I choose to Grace our home with pure goodness.

DSC07984DSC08011

my shattered heart

crossBecause of the evil of last week, we as humans are changed.

We mourn with those who mourn.  We pray for their healing.  Our hearts are forever changed.

Yesterday while inside the First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma, First Prsb. church tac, insidewaiting for a choral concert to begin……….before the feeling of calm and peace swept over me, I counted doors.  As we took our seats, yes, I adjust my coat over my legs, those big, huge old churches are drafty and mighty cold.  As Mr. Right put down our umbrella and I sat my purse down, usually calm envelopes me and I take a big breath.  I didn’t realize I did not take a breath yet.  I was jumpy and nervous.  I took in this church again, and acquainted myself with this sanctuary.  It is not our home church.  I counted doors and decided, if need be how I would leave in a hurry.  I looked behind us several times at the two humongous, old wooden doors with huge aged hinges.  I noticed how many pews I was away from everything. Several times during the couple of hours we were there, I caught myself looking around and at the doors.   This is not my usual behavior.  Yes, yes, Mr. Right, counts doors and windows and chooses carefully where he will sit in a restaurant, a church or a meeting place.  He is always on alert.  He is very aware of his surroundings.  He is my rock, always.  Even he was a bit shaken and overly aware.  tac first Presb church

It was another crack in my heart.  Someone  I didn’t even know nor will ever know, changed my life forever.  I want to shake my finger at that person.  I want to yell and scream and make him listen to stories about all those sweet children and caring adults that he decided to kill.   I want him to say he is sorry.  I want him to be upset and hurt and I want his heart to ache too.

Every one of us lost innocence that horrid day.  Some will never, ever get their sweet innocence back.    I so want to go back to being carefree and joyful and silly.  I don’t want to be afraid when I step inside a wonderful old church.  I HATE that he changed us forever.

May God watch over all of us as we try and repair our shattered hearts. broken heart  Our hearts may be shattered, but with His help, we can glue them back together.  They will look different and may act different, yet still stunningly beautiful.  Mad men can’t take away our hearts of goodness.

May we all be bathed in Grace.  Heaven knows we need it.

brokenhearted

black ribbon on flagIt is with a broken heart that I obey the President of the United States request.  He has asked that we lower our flags until December 18th, 2012.   Because our flag is too short to lower to half mast, I added our 2.5″ X 5′ black ribbon to mourn the loss of the children and adults who were killed in Connecticut today.

Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

God Shed his Grace on Thee.