Tag Archives: knitting

Prayer Shawl in Progress

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The very rhythm of knitting is soothing and healing

 

I took my current knitting with me to the assisted living facility where I give devotionals each week. I wanted my “girls” to pray over it with me.

Most of the ladies understood my request. I showed them the dozen or so rows I had finished and explained how long it would be. We talked about the recipient of the shawl, that as yet I don’t know who it is but am sure God does. We talked about the mingled shades of blue and dusty green and about how the variegated yarn makes its own pattern. I told them I would pray out loud while they prayed in their hearts and passed my knitting around the circle so each one could touch it as we prayed.

A prayer shawl, as described by the original Prayer Shawl Ministry team, is a shawl prayed over in the making, given to someone who is prayed for, who then can pray while comforted by its warmth around her shoulders. To learn more about how to knit and about the ministry, go to http://www.shawlministry.com.

My sister Jackie introduced me to the making of prayer shawls. She and another knitting sister, Suzanne, are part of a knitters’ group who make prayer shawls every year where they live. I don’t belong to a group. Thus, my desire to ask my sweet praying friends at Magnolia Place to pray over my work with me.

It was a sweet prayer time, each passing yarn and needles to the next as I prayed. We prayed for the well being of the shawl recipient, whoever she is, for her health and happiness and peace. One lady misunderstood about passing it so sat clutching it too long. I had to gently extricate it from her fingers and send it on around the circle. With these friends, misunderstandings are frequent because of hearing loss or confusion or whatever. And it’s all okay, because we understand each other’s hearts.

And certainly God understands too!

One of the “girls” asked me to teach her how to knit. I said sure I’d love to teach her. Immediately, she began back-pedaling. Oh, no, she said, she’s too old to learn. Fear fleeted across her face. I wished so much I could pass on my little bit of skill because I longed for her to have that comfort and companionship.

The very rhythm of knitting is soothing. Aside from that, it is a joy to create something beautiful. God made us in His image and there’s something in all of us that cries out to “make something.” Then, thirdly, what absolute fun it is to give away a completed prayer shawl, pair of mittens, or a hat.

If you are a knitter or a crocheter I hope you’ll consider making a prayer shawl. If you’re not either of those, maybe you’re a baker, a tailor, a photographer, a gardener, or a candlestick maker. Or maybe, joy of joys, you make music! Whatever you make, use it to make a “joyful noise” unto the Lord!

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War On Stumps

It was sprinkling rain. But when I pointed that out to Charles (as if perhaps he hadn’t noticed the dampness on his back) he said it was keeping him cool! The big goal of the day was to succeed in digging at least one of the two huge dogwood stumps out of the ground and carry it away. Ulysses was here to help and the two men were taking turns chopping, digging, pounding away on roots that were so hard the mattock bounced back from every lick.

Charles and I had made the decision to cut the trees down last summer realizing that they were more dead than alive. It was really hot then. Charles said he’d wait until winter to dig the stumps out. Here it is nearly the end of February and he hasn’t found a truly winter day to work on those stumps. So this rainy dark morning would have to suffice!

After digging for a while and exposing several roots, Charles positioned the truck for pulling them out with a chain fastened to his trailer hitch. Ulysses attached the chain to a muddy stubborn root, Charles pulled forward slowly and out came the root to be thrown into the waiting wheelbarrow.

When I took my knitting (which seemed a nice job for a rainy morning) to the living room, I could hear the men calling to each other: “Whoa, Doc! OK, move up a little” or “Whoopee, there she comes!” or “Snub your chain tighter, Ulysses, we’ll try her again.” (Have you noticed that when men are working, any hard and stubborn thing is called a “she”?)

The wheelbarrow was getting full and there was a deep, wide hole now where the stump still presided.

Of course we’d rather by far have the two beautiful dogwoods on either side of our front yard blooming like white angels in March and April. But the dogwoods have been struck by Dogwood Anthracose (caused by Discula destructive), a disease first identified, I believe, in New York in the 1970’s and creeping since then steadily south through the Appalachian mountains and down the eastern seaboard. We were so hoping maybe the disease wouldn’t get this far, but here it is. Dogwoods until recently brightened our yards and woodlands with white blossoms in the spring and brilliant red berries and leaves in the fall. But now more and more of them have turned to stark leafless silhouettes.

So here we were making a war on dogwood stumps that were wide enough on which to serve a small teaparty. But, Charles declared, these stumps only have lateral roots, no taproot. “We will whip one at least by noon,” he said.

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Sure enough, well before noon, I heard a shout and hurried to the door. The stump was out! I went down to take pictures, wiping raindrops from my iPad. The great spidery lump of a stump rolled and bounced behind the truck as Charles pulled it to the debris pile.

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Stump #1 was out and where it came from was a gaping hole. After they filled the canyon in, only a bare spot remained. Charles will tease the grass back over that with his patient sprigging. I closed my eyes and tried to picture the lawn as it had been when those two beautiful dogwoods offered their gracious shade in the summer, their color in fall and winter, and their display of white in the spring.

Somehow, the following verses from Psalm 103:15-17 come to mind:

The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children.

 

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Thoughts of My Sister Pat

My sister Pat was as hard to pin down as Maria in the “Sound of Music.” She had tons of energy, could hardly stay in a chair, though she not only earned a college degree, but a master’s as well. For 90 years she brought joy to those around her and never seemed to age until Altzheimer’s took over her mind. Today I’m sure Pat is busy discovering beauty in heaven. But here on earth we’re missing her cheerful voice on the phone offering hot apple pie and coffee. We’re missing her scrawly handwriting in the mailbox. We’re missing her hugs and her laughter about little things or nothing. We’re missing her wisdom and advice and her gentle sympathy.

Let me tell you a tiny bit about my sister Pat.

She was the second oldest of our eleven (including a four-year-old girl who died before I came along) born to Floyd S. and Eula Gibbs Knight of Clarkesville, Georgia. Mamma told me once that she cried when she knew she was expecting a second child because it would displace older brother Orman as the baby when he’d only be thirteen months. But once Pat arrived she was loved and adored. In a family of so many children, it’s interesting to see the definite “places” in order that each one holds. Mamma depended greatly on Pat. She loved each one of us, but Pat held a place of honor and respect a little different from any other. And Pat was extremely loyal to our mother.

That loyalty to Mamma and to all nine younger siblings earned Pat the endearing title of “Little Mamma,” a title she held till her dying day. In fact, by the time she was five years old, Pat was already shepherding two little brothers and a brand new sister. Just to be clear, Pat was not little in stature. She grew to be nice and tall and she chose often to wear beautiful, brightly colored big swirly skirts which fell gracefully from her trim waist. She carried herself with dignity and pride.

A few years ago we found in Mamma’s cedar chest a little red skirt with straps, knitted for me by Pat. I fondled it, remembering how very proud of it I had been. Pat was a knitter from the time Mamma taught her when she was very small. She knitted sweaters and scarves for World War II soldiers. She knitted sweaters, hats, and mittens—and skirts—for a long line of siblings, and then for students when she taught school in Appalachia. In later years she knitted for her own three children, for grandchildren, grand nieces and nephews. And every year she knitted a sweater for the Guideposts “Knit For Kids” project. She told on herself that when she was in college she took her knitting to class. She loved to multi-task. Then one day she forgot her knitting. The instructor looked at her and said, “Miss Knight, where is your knitting today?” She was so embarrassed to have been so pointedly noticed, that she never took her knitting to class again.

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In 1952 Pat married David Peck, a chemist whom she’d met when they both were working on graduate degrees at the University of Virginia. We all love David who is quite an entertainer and adventurer. And, by the way, he has the most contagious laugh of anyone I know. The two of them made a home where God was loved and children were always encouraged. It was a pleasure to visit them, not only because of the scent of fresh baked bread, but for stimulating conversations about endangered species, volcanoes, and speculations on who would play in the World Series.

Pat loved to talk about her three children and five grandchildren, and to show videos of their talents. She did always mourn her little Jeanie who was stillborn at full term. In her last days Pat’s daughter brought her a baby doll whom, most of the time, Pat cuddled and carefully wrapped and protected. I’m sure now that she and her very alive Jeanie are playing in God’s perfect heaven.

Pat wrote letters. Real letters, long and full of descriptions and, sometimes, instructions.When I was little she always wanted to know if I’d been helping Mamma, if I was learning cursive writing, if I was playing outside enough, not reading books all the time. As adults we exchanged many letters by snail mail and then, as we each acquired computers, by e-mail. I printed most of her letters so I could keep them, they were so good. She would describe a storm, write about her children, her church, a play she and David had enjoyed and always—always—wanted to know particulars about all my family. It was a delight to me to see an envelope from Pat in my mailbox.

Another remarkable thing about Pat’s letters is that she kept boxes of family correspondence through multiple moves from state to state. Her husband David recently allowed us sisters to pore over a box of letters written between 1945 and 1952. It is a treasure trove! It was amongst those letters we found the one she wrote to our parents in 1952 saying that she was bringing home THE man of her dreams and, regardless of how our father had driven away previous candidates, this one she WOULD marry!

Pat wrote prayers. Not that she shared many of those with me because it was a private thing for her. But I knew how much her prayer notebook meant to her. We shared with each other heartaches and dreams we had for our children and extended family members. If I asked her to pray about something I knew without a doubt she would.

Pat loved to play games, especially word games. She gave me a Scrabble game in 1952 not long after it was first produced and I still have it. At our birth home, Stone Gables, we might have a dozen or so gathered around the long dining table playing some game or other, maybe Categories which we think she may have made up. Or, there might be two or three groups playing Scrabble, Anagrams, or Authors cards. These games were accompanied by gales of laughter. If for some reason Pat weren’t involved in any of the games she’d be over on the side working a crossword puzzle or, broom in hand, knocking down spider webs.

The last time I saw Pat was at a nursing home just weeks before she died, she smiled at me sweetly, though she didn’t seem to know my husband and me. She was in last stages of Altzheimer’s. There was a little dog visiting with another family in the same sitting area we were in and Pat was very interested in the movements of that little dog. She spoke with words that made no sense but in what sounded like sentences and with facial expressions and hand movements so like the Pat of which she was only a shadow.

She broke her hip because she didn’t know any longer how to walk safely. Confined to a wheelchair then, she still tried to get up, though she couldn’t walk.

But now—now Pat is released! In heaven she’s again taking those long walks she always loved, enjoying flowers too beautiful for us to imagine, and studying birds that may light right on her shoulder. And she’s seeing the Creator of all things face to face!

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Porch Sitting

I don’t consider myself a lazy person, at least not most of the time. But I really do love to sit on our porch watching the birds, enjoying pine trees against the sky, reveling in the rich watermelon color of our young crepe myrtle and listening to the cicadas putting on their dynamic concert in the pines and magnolias.

Actually, there’s more to porch sitting than immediately meets the eye. In fact, ladies and gentlemen, the art of porch sitting has many facets.

It is very likely true that porch sitters, or variously those occupying porticos, patios, canopied walkways or even front walls of courthouses, have had a very great deal to do with electing presidents, solving peculiar mysteries, erecting high rises, and identifying rare species of birds. We’re being positive here so we’re not going to mention the characters that may have been defamed unjustly or achievements marred by disgruntled tongue wagglers. We’re talking about peaceful porch sitters.

Consider the porch. It is a place set apart from the rest of the house, at least to some degree. It is outdoors, but at least partially protected from the elements. It is a place where one can talk to a solicitor or other stranger without inviting them in. It can be a private place for a cup of coffee and a talk with the Lord. Or it can be the scene for an informal party decorated with hanging ferns, or for a gathering of friends and neighbors any time, any day. It’s a good place to serve lunch on a workday when men appear with sawdust on their britches and children cluster up with a great aptness for spills and crumbs. In other words, it is a gathering place, an informal one, not at all stiff as a parlor might be, but comfortable with a swing and rockers and lots of fresh air.

Speaking of porch sitters–there are very active ones. They can be snapping beans, peeling peaches, knitting a scarf or, even, telling stories. I once came upon a lady busy at her quilter’s frame on her small porch. The other day when my sister Suzanne and her husband Bill came from North Georgia they brought me a basket of green beans straight from their big bountiful garden. We sat on the porch and exchanged tales as we strung (should that be un-strung?) those wonderful beans. Their eight-year-old grandson Matthew happily tried out our sports rider, an exercise device that we find helpful, even challenging. For him it was way too mild, though, so he gave it up soon and tried out the swing, giving it some good exercise before he took off to try out any bike or wheeled object he could find. We could watch him while we filled our pot with beans for supper.

There are also the not-so-active porch sitters who are actually not idle at all. From a distance, two people rocking can appear to be simply taking in the evening when, in fact, they’re having a very deep discussion. An author may be sitting alone on the porch looking as idle as a tractor in a shed when, really, she/he’s planning a deep plot or searching for the very best simile. And there are the readers and the puzzle workers and the scientists with binoculars to their faces. And the knitters and cross-stitchers and knife-sharpeners and, in the case of some of our grandchildren, young artists busy sketching.

A little porch sitting usually leads to ideas for a lot more work to be done! Charles and I sit down under our porch fan for a nice evening chat after supper. Soon we find ourselves imagining new landscaping endeavors, or we notice a bird feeder is empty, or Charles suddenly remembers something he wanted to see about in his shed.

A porch can even be a good place for a snake show. Yes, that’s right, a snake show. I am mortally afraid of snakes but it’s amazing what love propels us to do! The first time my grandson, Charles Douglas, brought a small corn snake to see me he brought it in the den wrapped around his wrist. I threatened him with his life if he let that thing get lost in the couch. He and his friend Hannah were passing it back and forth between them! But then only a few weeks later I asked them to bring snakes for young Matthew and other young cousins to see. I stipulated they couldn’t be in the house. Charles D insisted the “visitors” would have to sit up on a shelf in the dining room while we all ate. But not to worry, he said, because they would be in their fabric carriers. He failed to tell me the carriers have windows through which the snakes can stare at you! But I lived through that–then we moved to the porch and I closed the door firmly.

Charles D and Hannah put on a very educational and entertaining show for everyone with their snakes center stage on our porch! There was a Brazilian (some other name I’ve forgotten!), and a couple of boas, one of which is about five feet long and wrapped itself lovingly (!!!!) around Hannah and eventually around almost everyone there. But not me! I did touch one and took two pictures of them which, for me, was pretty good. The only tears shed were from little two-year-old Kaison who was so upset because he was too small to hold the snakes. The next time he came over he looked around hopefully saying “Snake, snake!” as if perhaps one might have stayed behind.

I like to see people enjoying their porches. It shows they’re taking time to breathe deeply, to notice birds feeding, to absorb a sunset, and to dream a little. When the air turns frosty and folks start leaning their porch chairs against the wall or storing them somewhere, I feel somewhat sad. Another year of porch sitting all over and done. But, for me, I sit on the porch even in the winter. I may be huddled in a big coat or have a blanket around my shoulders, but there’s nothing more inviting on a Saturday morning than a cup of coffee on the porch swing!

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On a Learning Curve

Sometimes I think I’m pretty crazy not to have heeded the old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” By the looks of my new driver’s license, I qualify as an old dog and should be able to step back from some, at least, of these learning curves. But I refuse to be left behind. It feels sometimes as if I’m whizzing up to a learning curve several times a day–on squalling tires overlooking a formidable abyss!

Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about. See if you’ve had to master any of these.

We moved into a new house. I was so excited about the stove and two ovens. We were so busy at first I hardly had time to cook, but gradually I began trying out things on this marvelous stove top. There is an expandable eye. I thought “hmmmm, what does this mean?” I tried it out one day and became very frustrated because I couldn’t figure out how to use only the middle part. And there seemed to be no simmer available no matter what I tried. I tried the small back burner. It wouldn’t simmer, either, just wanted to burn at top heat. What in the world?!!!! So I tried the left front burner which calls itself a bridge burner. Well, it wouldn’t let me use only the front burner. Fine, if I wanted the bridge but what if I didn’t? Back left did pretty well but, my goodness, it wouldn’t simmer either! By now, I was using all my elbow grease cleaning up my burned pots! Finally, I questioned the right person who actually has a stove top that is similar. Jane said so sweetly, “I think your knobs have all been switched.” Bless her, she was right! Now I can expand if I want to, but I don’t have to and, wonderfully, I can now simmer in my poor stained pots!

We changed e-mail servers. Suddenly, I lost all my contacts, had to start building back my log. (If you haven’t heard from me in a long time and wonder why I dropped off the face of the earth, it’s because I no longer have your e-mail address!) But something else happened. Unknown to me, some of my favorite e-mailers, such as my church, had been put on a spam list by my new server so I couldn’t receive their mail. The church secretary and I called CNS numerous times trying to figure out why I couldn’t receive mail from my church but with no success. Finally, this week CNS told me what I needed to do. I don’t understand how they just figured it out but I’m so glad they did. The test mail did come through yesterday and I can’t wait to get my church newsletter this week! Oh, and the irony is that we changed servers because Windstream seemed so slow and impersonal that we decided to use the local company. Beware! If you have some “beef” with any one company, be careful about moving somewhere else. Your problems may increase!

 One morning last week Charles announced as he came in from the carport, that something was drastically wrong with my car because I had a huge puddle of water under it, water that looked and smelled like anti-freeze. I took it to our faithful Chrysler dealer where they promptly diagnosed my problem. A cracked radiator. It would be the next day before they’d have the part. Would I like a car to use in the meantime? Answering in the affirmative, I was soon given a key and told that my ride was right outside beside my own car. I started to ask for a description of this ride but the key person had already turned away. As I walked down the parking lot to my car, I was startled to see a bright red jeep sitting beside it, the only vehicle beside my car. My heart thumped in sudden anxiety. How could they give me a jeep to drive? Did I look like a jeep-driving woman? Obediently, though, I climbed up in that jeep which wasn’t an easy task. As I was about to insert key in ignition, I realized there was already a key there. Now my heart really went crazy. Here I was in someone’s jeep! I piled out of there so fast, I got my pocketbook hung up in the door somehow and felt temporarily trapped in the act of auto theft. Finally, I got loose and went back to the service department to admit my shame. Bill laughed and found the car I was actually to have, a town and country mini-van just like mine, except red instead of sea blue. What a relief it was to get in that car and not have the learning curve of driving that sporty little jeep!
Charles and I are like the blind leading the blind when it comes to figuring out how to play a movie on our own television or add a new app to either of our phones. Charles D, our grandson, helps us out but not without some pretty humiliating implications, like, “Not again! You know I already showed you how to do that. I’ll show you one more time!” Only on rare occasions do I remind him of the hours he and I spent struggling when he was learning his multiplication table.
I know all these learning curves are good for us, build up the muscle in our brain, but I really would like to run the other way sometimes when I see one coming. If I could! Is it not time I could just sit in my easy chair and read a book? I know how to read a book! Or maybe knit a prayer shawl. I know how to knit–if you don’t give me too complicated a pattern and ask me to do it at the same time a grandchild is showing me new gymnastic moves. Right now I’m hoping nothing goes wrong with my phone requiring an update and that nothing goes haywire with the security alarm or the vacuum cleaner and I’m putting off learning how to use this tiny new recorder someone gave me!

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Knitting for World Vision

Several years ago I started knitting one sweater a year for the Guideposts program of supplying sweaters to cold children all around the world. It was always fun to think and pray for whoever the child might be who wore my sweater. Two years ago I had breast cancer and that year I couldn’t make a sweater. I started knitting hats for bald heads instead! This year I thought along about July that maybe I’d knit another sweater before Christmas. But I also felt compelled to make little knitted slippers for my three young grandchildren and my five great grandchildren. Along about December 15 I realized there was no way I would make the Guideposts sweater. I did finish the little shoes.

Two days ago I received a piece of mail from World Vision saying they are now in charge of the sweater project, though still in cooperation with Guideposts. And they said we knitters are welcome to send sweaters any time of the year, not just at Christmas! After all, there are parts of the world that are very cold while we’re having summer!

So I have begun my “Guideposts” sweater and am thrilled to be a part of this project again! If you would like to be a part also of Knit for Kids, go online at www.worldvision.org/knitforkids and you’ll find instructions and encouragement! The sweaters are not hard at all to make and you may choose bright fun colors with which to knit! And you can pray for the child while you knit! You will most certainly be blessed!

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Scribbling Nana

I introduced myself to you earlier but maybe I should add a few details. I’m one of ten siblings who grew up in northeast Georgia between 1924 and late ’50’s (my oldest brother went to college the month I was born and we have one sister younger than I). I wrote about our escapades in my first book Stone Gables published by Broadman in 1978, one of the biggest thrills of my life. I’ve had seven other books published but that one was the absolute most exciting, the Cinderella dream come true victory in publishing!

Aside from writing novels, short articles, and poetry, I love to knit, am a pretty good Scrabble player, enjoy making jellies and jams from fruit my husband and I grow, and, of course, I’m wild about playing with my grandchildren–most of the time! We have five grandchildren and now are blessed with five great grandchildren because of our 22-year-old granddaughter who has, not only her two, but her husband’s three as well! 2013 was a growing year for us since she married in October.

I told you in an earlier blog that I’d be telling you some about my grandchildren, some about my husband who is a veterinarian treating large and small animals, and that you’d hear from my cooking side, and you’d hear from my spiritual side. Basically, I want to give you one devotional a week, one wild and free blog each week, and one of cooking tips or knitting ideas. I am not a gourmet cook, just a southern cook who loves to do right by her family (but breaks the rules some too!)

My purpose for writing a blog is simply to connect with those of you God gives me as cyber friends, those who may need a little smile or encouragement, those who enjoy cooking, writing, and knitting.

I’ve signed up with WordPress to learn about blogging this month and this was my first assignment, to introduce myself.

What I didn’t tell you is that I’m 71, have a terrible memory, have a habit of losing at least one Christmas present each year before it’s been given, and too often I can be found by a cozy fire reading a book instead of washing, ironing, or shining mirrors. But occasionally you’ll see me out rounding up errant goats who’ve broken through our fence. Sometimes the police come and help!

Enough about me!

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