Gratitude thoughts

I’ve started something new in my journal. Instead of prayers or thoughts that are complaints, I’m ending those entries with thankfulness. And the more complaining in my writing, the more gratitude thoughts I need to record!

Some recent entries:

I’m thankful for my husband. He is an amazing man, and incredibly helpful and encouraging to me, no matter whether I’m hiking out of a waterfall valley or crawling across the floor with back pain. I adore and admire him, way more than 31 years ago when we first fell in love.

There’s a beautiful goldfinch who lands in the tree outside our living room window every morning. He is bright yellow, and sings a cheerful tune as he calls to his mate and then flies away. Gold finches are one of my favorite songbirds, especially for their haphazard flight path, chirping all the while. I didn’t have them nearby in FL, so it’s a delight to hear and see them again.

I love ice packs. And carbon-activated heat pads. And ibuprofen.

My cat Annabelle brings wonderful companionship, especially when she curls up at my feet for her morning nap.

I’m thankful for technology – for Instagram and Facebook and texting and FaceTime and cell phones.

And for family and friends around the world who use such technology to keep our relationships strong.

I’m glad for slow-paced mornings. I love my two cups of coffee, and my quiet time with Jesus. I like the devotionals on my Kindle and in my phone, and the prayer app that helps me stay focused.

I’m grateful that God is omnipresent, which means He’s with my kids even though I’m not. He comforts me when I’m missing them, and reminds me that He loves them even more than I do.

Practicing gratitude – a very good discipline, and a great way to combat negative thinking.

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Kitty Bliss

Bliss can be many things for me – sleeping in, a beautiful path, a private personal retreat, a picturesque sunset, wine and cheese on the beach with my husband.

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Hermitage personal retreat

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But Kitty Bliss, that’s complete!

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Knitting a throw blanket

I put the throw blanket in the washing machine, on gentle because I’m not sure how it will hold together. I hope I made every knot tight, every loop attached.

This is the first blanket I have ever made. I have knitted straight scarves – lots of scarves. And I’ve attached the ends of scarves and made them into infinity scarves – more scarves. For awhile there, I was even taking requests for scarves for my coworkers and family members. Yarn to my right, scarf accumulating to my left, needles in the center to keep good posture. I loved making those scarves, and even got creative mixing it up with multiple yarns. I never got complicated though – I really only know the knit stitch.

One night back in December, I was having a hard time sleeping so I moved to the couch for a change of venue. In snuggling down to close my eyes, I realized that the throw blanket in the living room was too heavy me, too much blanket for Florida temperatures. It was too short – my feet stuck out. And the color of the blanket didn’t really match our decor, not even in the low-lit living room – light dusty blue amid greens and browns and golds. The blanket was the color of an 80’s bridesmaid’s dress instead of a Southern Utah sunset. I decided that my next knitting project would be to make an appropriate throw blanket. It’s really a giant scarf, right? Just bigger needles and more yarn.

I ordered large circular needles for the project. I wasn’t sure what size, so I ordered the largest diameter. I figured it would make big “holes” in the blanket, which would allow for air to pass through and keep the it from being too warm.

I was excited to find the bin of yarn skeins on sale as I was walking through a big box store on my way to Groceries. There was a very pretty off-white yarn, and gold skeins with teal and coral flecks. I was surprised at how much I liked the gold – not usually a color I’m drawn to. But this was so rich looking, such lovely warm tones, and the two yarns complemented each other nicely. They would look great with the living room rug and curtains. So I bought what I hoped would be enough, and began to knit a blanket.

At first, the hardest thing was adapting to the circular needles. I wasn’t knitting in a circle, but the cording in the middle of circular needles is what held the blanket as I knitted. In the beginning, I kept getting the needles twisted and curled around, and it took me several days to figure out how to straighten the needles when trading the ends back and forth.

The needles were very big, and that also took some getting used to. It was hard to hold both needles in one hand when I was looping my yarn. Several times one needle slipped and I had to very carefully thread everything back on without dropping any stitches. Eventually I figured out the right grasp and developed a rhythm.

Then came the problem of the pattern. I knew I didn’t really want to count rows – I was fine with the blanket stripes being random. But the skeins weren’t the same length  – the gold versus the off-white – so it wasn’t as simple as switching out colors at the end of a skein. Each time, I had to decide if I wanted to switch, or knit with both colors for a while, making a third stripe. In many ways, that was the easiest way to knit, and I might have done the entire blanket that way if I had originally bought enough of each color. The two yarns together made the holes a little tighter, less likely for a toe to poke through!

As the blanket got longer, it became difficult to flip the needles’ ends because I had to flip the whole blanket. When I didn’t flip it as I switched ends, the blanket lay twisted to the left of my lap. I’m just now wondering if it might have been easier to keep the blanket in my lap instead of off to the side.

My sweet kitten Annabelle was the last obstacle. She seemed to notice the blanket each time I flipped it, and that brought her running to see if there were loose ends to grab. Most often there weren’t, so she would just grab any yarn loop and pull. Stop, kitty! She’d pull a stitch or two, and I had to tug things back into place.

After several weeks of knitting, mostly in the evenings when we were watching TV, I finished this morning. I very carefully bound off the last row, tied and weaved other yarn ends into the blanket, and cut off loose pieces. I checked every connection so it won’t unravel.

Now if it holds together in the washing machine, I’m ready to pick the next colors. Maybe a blanket for the bedroom. With smaller needles, of course. No toes peeking!

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Dog toy, Cat toy, My joy

A year and a half ago, we gave away our dog Ella to a wonderful family. They were going to provide her a loving home in the countryside, and we knew that was a better alternative than moving her to Florida. She’s a mutt:  a mix of beagle, basset and labrador – but if you look up Coonhound on Google, you’d see her picture. I always figured hound dogs loved the south – remember the dogs on the porch in “Hee Haw?” Well, Ella hated the heat, was at home in snow and rain. So we felt it best for her to not bring her with us when we moved. And as much as I’ve missed her, she is with a family she adores and who love her back, in a climate that she manages well.

We had her for her first six years, and like most dogs, she had her favorite toys. She had a stick that she loved to gnaw on – she had been so proud dragging it home from her walk. She also loved pine cones – I remember seeing her on a Sunday in December, tossing the tiny pine cones that she had pulled from my front door wreath – just throwing them in the air and watching them float down until she could catch them and toss them again. She was so full of delight, her whole body wriggled. It was hard to get mad at her for dismantling my wreath with such joy exuding from her!

Inside, she loved stuffed animals, especially the ones that squeaked. She would zero in on the squeaker and with her very strong back jaws, bite through the fabric to pull it out. She would completely de-stuff the toy – there’s a lot of batting that squishes into those fabric carcasses! But the squeaker was her delight – rolling back and forth, wiggling with the squeaker squawking until she had completely punctured it. Her entire body would wag as she laid on her back, paws flailing in absolute bliss.

I bought her two rubber toys, thinking that she wouldn’t be able to disembowel or destroy them – one was a blue figurine of a person, and the other was a red shape of a dog. Oh, how wrong I was. She applied her strong jaws to biting off the feet of each animal, and tossing those in the air.  The footies flew just like the pine cones! For awhile, we had two blue footies and four red ones, but they slowly disappeared, until we were down to one of each, then only one red one, then none at all.

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Fast forward 12 months, and my kitten Annabelle discovered a new toy – a red footie. As far as I can tell, it somehow became lodged in the netting of the underside of our couch, until one day it fell out onto the floor. Because suddenly, my darling kitten is chasing a bouncing red rubber footie across the living room floor! If cats have favorites, I’d say she loves this footie. Just like Ella, she tosses it in the air, but instead of catching it, she watches it bounce haphazardly a few times before she pounces on it. She picks it up and carries it to another room, where the routine begins again. And then suddenly it’s gone – nowhere to be found, until it shows up several days later in the window track or by the TV or under the throw carpet. She tosses it, she pounces on it, she wrestles with it, she buries it, then delightfully finds it again and the play starts over.

Watching Annabelle makes me smile as I see her pure joy in playing with the little red footie. I often wish I had such a thing, that would bring me joy like her toy does, and did for Ella before her. But that is external joy, and the Bible says that our joy comes from within. Knowing that our names are written in heaven for eternity. Complete joy from Christ placed in us. A gift from our Heavenly Father and as fruit of the Spirit. Multiple verses speak of joy being found in the Presence of God.

So why do I feel like I’m still looking for it? For some external toy, some outside thing that gives me the exuberance of a small red footie. I told my therapist years ago that I wanted my joy back, and I feel like I’ve been looking for it ever since that first depressive episode 8  years ago.

I think it might be that I find that joy, that exuberance again, as I continue to sit with Jesus each morning. As I draw closer to God and He shows me His heart and fills me with His joy. A joy that cannot be removed or lost in the couch cushions. Complete joy of His kingdom, forever and ever.

 

No sleeping in today…

I had the hardest time waking up this morning!

My husband had the opposite problem and couldn’t sleep, so he started his day earlier than typical and was out the door by 6:30am. He kisses me goodbye when he leaves, so I’m awake for that, and when he’s at his usual hour – an hour later – I often get up and begin my day just after he leaves. But no way did I want to start that early, so I rolled over and fell back asleep.

I woke just before 8am after some vivid and bizarre dreams. That’s almost always true for me when I fall back asleep after waking – weird dreams that go on and on and leave me a little befuddled when I finally become fully conscious.

I woke slowly, and had a hard time “coming to” fully. I rolled onto my back but dozed again, for a minute or so. And I did that several times – repositioned and closed my eyes. I just couldn’t stay fully awake, even though I knew I wasn’t going back to fully asleep.

Maybe it was because this was the first morning in over two weeks that there was no one else in the house. All the holiday company has gone home and the kids have gone back, too. So it’s just me and the kitty again. Maybe I didn’t want to wake to that alone-ness.

Probably because I knew I needed to run an errand before my 9:30 appointment, I got myself out of bed and moving. I would have liked to roll over and try for that fully asleep mode again, even if it meant more dreams. I would have enjoyed a little self-pity – poor lonely me so far from my kids whom I love so dearly and miss so much – but the day was already scheduled full so I needed to get up and get going. I probably scheduled today this way on purpose, to keep myself from the pity party and self-indulgent sadness.  Way to go, me.

Maybe I’ll sleep in tomorrow.