There is something familiar about Mr. Monk…

We got rid of cable several months ago. Somehow, paying for TV seemed a bit much as I watched the bill get higher and higher.

So, we went cold turkey and hooked up an old-fashioned antenna, got a Roku little doohicky and signed up for Netflix and Hulu Plus.

WHO KNEW all the cool things you could watch without waiting for them to air?

I watched all the Psych episodes, beginning with Season 1, Episode 1…it was so cool to watch the story lines systematically, without waiting. And without COMMERCIALS!

Then I watched both seasons of Downton Abbey…like a British soap opera, but very interesting to watch in conjunction with the history of the time.

And now…we are all watching Monk. My husband has never laughed so hard in his entire life. And that in itself is a reward for watching that poor, neurotic, multi-phobic person trying to master his fears while solving heinous crimes AND making us laugh.

Curly Top comes running at the beginning and the close of each episode. She has choreographed the theme song, “It’s a Jungle Out There”…I know, I know…

But I have been working on a series of crafting/sewing projects while watching the episodes, and as I was squaring up fabric to cut into smaller squares, I got to thinking about Mr. Monk and the “fun” he would have with some of the fabrics…especially the ones that are flawed and screened off-kilter…or the ones that attract lint…or the ones that were cut unevenly…

Can’t you just see him? Writhing, almost as if he were in pain? I can.

And then I started thinking about what Bible story would best sum up Mr. Monk. It took me awhile, but I think I found the perfect parallel story for Mr. Adrian Monk.

Naaman. Remember him? That king, such a valiant warrior. But he had a little problem. He had L E P R O S Y. Yikes!

This king was afflicted with a definite  celebrity-kill affliction. It wasn’t a disease that would remain hidden. Not for long.

It was contagious. People would flee from your presence if you had it.

King Naaman had a mighty big problem. (And I can just see Monk…with his wipes and disinfectants and assortment of sanitizers…poor Natalie!)

King Naaman had his own Natalie…or at least his WIFE did…she had a little Hebrew girl as a servant.

This child was a child of faith. She knew what was wrong with her master, and she knew who could help him. The prophet of Israel.

King Naaman went for his consultation with the prophet. Let’s just say the king was underwhelmed.

II Kings 5

So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

IMG_9729

Yep. That’s how we are. We are all set for the magical wave and the abra ca dabra. The idea of dunking seven times in a filthy river just doesn’t seem like the cure we are seeking. We are, after all, prisoners of our imaginations.

The story could end right there. Monk writhing with the idea of such filth. Naaman preparing to lose his reign because of his disease–mostly his pride, at this point.

But the story doesn’t end there…

Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”

The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.

Naaman submitted to the prescription. And he was healed of his leprosy. Was it that the water was miraculous?

No.

Naaman stepped into the water by faith, believing that God would heal him, not the water.

In the television series, we see Monk being forced to confront his fears. He actually is a very brave man, but all he can see are his weaknesses. And like Monk, all Naaman could see was the dirty water of the river Jordan, not the One who used the water to heal.

Naaman ultimately recognized the Source of his healing. That is was an act of God in response to Naaman’s step of faith.

I am just like Naaman…wanting some wild miracle when all God is waiting for is my tiny step of faith…How often do I insist on the magic instead of that simple seed of faith needed?

Are you paralyzed by your own imagination? Is the muddy river Jordan waiting for you to take a step?

 

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I have not disappeared from the face of the earth…yet

For those who follow my blog, you will notice that I have been MIA for the last few weeks.

It is not writer’s block.

Nor is it due to a lack of live writing material taking place before my very eyes.

It really isn’t even because of the chaos of the holidays (although there was a LOT of chaos).

No. The reason is actually quite mundane.

My laptop screen fried.

Again.

For the second time in one year. (And no, it is not under warranty.)

I managed to cobble together a system that worked…sort of. By hooking up the laptop to a traditional (old)  monitor, I was able to use the laptop.

Yea, yea, yea.

But…there is always a “but”, isn’t there?

The contraption was set up in my so-called sewing/craft room (that in itself is a topic for another day). The room also serves as sleeping quarters for a napping toddler.

Hmmmm…access was an issue.

(And at this point, I will digress momentarily.)

Yesterday, we took down the Christmas tree and packed away the decorations inside the house. This freed up a wee bit of space in our not-so-spacious living room.

As a person who strives for perfection, this defect also applies to the positioning of furniture. Somehow I keep thinking I will find the perfect configuration for all the necessary pieces…if I just keep trying.

So, Superman helped me. With a smile, I might add. (Those of you who know him have never seen him without one, so it won’t carry the same effect as those who don’t. So don’t tell them, ok?)

Given all the things that go on in my house (gymnastics, battles for the highest spot in the room, trapeze flying, fort building, building block olympics, camping, dance competitions, along with an assortment of other activities that should probably not be enumerated), a good flow and jumping capabilities from sofa to love seat to whatever is essential.

I should probably add that I have long since given up on the “no more monkeys jumping” rule…enforcement became a full-time job. I know, I failed.

Sooooooo, we shifted our furniture around. And lo, and behold, there was just the perfect spot to move a desk that could house my laptop contraption in the living room!

Joy, joy, joy!!!

So, I am back. I bet you were all just holding your breath!

When cooking up a storm is not a good thing…

The house smells awesome…

Chicken baking in the oven…

Corn cooking in the crockpot…

Beef stewing meat being browned…

Onions and garlic sauteing…

Is your mouth watering? Are you wondering what the big occasion might be? Do you want directions to my house?

Actually, it is a very sad event that is responsible for all the wonderful smells…my refrigerator bit the dust.

We initially blamed the kiddos…all that scaling up the doors and leaving the doors open.

But…nope…it just stopped working. On a Monday morning. With a houseful of children and guests on the way and the annual Christmas caroling event at our house on Friday and the Christmas program on Sunday and getting ready for traveling North for Christmas and…

Timing, after all, IS everything. Right?

So I have cooked everything I could salvage. And it is safely stored in the freezer in the basement. But not everything made the cut and I had to throw out a LOT of food, and that just irritated the socks off my feet.

We went shopping for a new refrigerator last night…and now I must give you a lesson in compromise history that comes back to bite me big time. Again.

We moved into our house less than five years ago. It came with a fairly new WHITE refrigerator. With an ice maker and water IN THE DOOR…high tech for me.

We knew we had to buy all the other appliances at the time, and I really wanted to get BLACK. Including a NEW refrigerator. In BLACK.

Mr. Practical thought it was not reasonable to get rid of a perfectly good refrigerator just because the color was wrong. And I could not reconcile buying all new BLACK appliances.

An impasse.

I had to agree with Mr. Practical, being so practical and all, so we bought a WHITE dishwasher, stove and microwave. (If you are ever in that predicament–GET BLACK!!!)

My appliances have not been white since they entered the kitchen.

So last night we went to purchase my unexpected Christmas present. And the color dilemma reared its ugly head. Back and forth. Black or White?

In all fairness to Mr. Practical, he let me choose the model I wanted and any color I wanted.

Yeah…right. I currently have a kitchen full of WHITE appliances. I really wanted BLACK. Still. And I got a scratch and dent discount. And the identical model was available in both colors. And it was up to me. Again.

Gag me, please!!!

“I really want Black. But it will bug me if the others are white. And I just want to be able to be content to have a refrigerator that WORKS. But I really want BLACK.”

“Get what you want.”

Ummm, I don’t think all new appliances is budget friendly or wise…do you? Neither did he. And he actually made me try to determine a time-frame wherein I would not be perturbed by said mismatched appliances. He is all heart, that man of mine.

So…I got white. And I am a little bummed today, but trying very hard to just be thankful that I was able to get a new one. And I AM really thankful for it (it isn’t here yet, but I am still thankful), even if it isn’t what I really wanted.

And, of course, there are so many verses about contentment and having a thankful heart…and don’t forget about the “lust of the eyes” either…I know…I had to preach myself a sermon. And it was a really good sermon. I used lots of verses and anecdotal stories taken from real life situations to drill the point home.

I need to be a better listener of my sermons.

Dancing Eyes, Prepare to Meet Your Maker…

Remember that blog post about finally finishing my first crochet project? The one that took about 8 years to complete?

Remember how I stated I was already beginning my next project, that it was for an as yet unborn baby? And that it would be completed WITHOUT FAIL before the baby’s due date?

I bought the most beautiful, silky yarn. Probably too silky for my level of expertise (or lack thereof)…but it was so pretty and soft, and seemed just perfect for a newborn.

Isn’t it so pretty and silky?

I jumped in right away…I wanted to get it finished before Thanksgiving so I could start some other projects, and I didn’t want it to be sitting around wondering its ultimate fate. You know, like the 8 year afghan…

The problem I discovered with this yarn was how slippery it was to crochet…stitch after stitch, and it never looked like I was making any progress. I was 4 skeins into the project yesterday. That’s roughly three weeks of work…with me steadily working each day. I had to buy more yarn because I could tell it would never be enough to cover a baby.

Pretty, but doesn’t look very big, does it?

So yesterday I sat on the couch…crocheting away. Dancing Eyes was cutting paper. How he manages to scale cabinets is truly amazing…all in search of scissors. I looked up to see him cutting paper in front of me. I took the scissors and put them in my basket and continued with my project.

About five minutes later, I had to turn it around for the next row…GASP!!!

There was a HOLE about 4 inches in diameter…loops laying on the floor. Apparently Dancing Eyes had managed to snip the loops while cutting his paper and neither one of us knew it had happened.

I was ready to send the little guy up to meet his Heavenly Father right on the spot. The hole was such that it would be no easy repair, even for someone who is experienced. Trust me when I say that I do NOT have the requisite skills for undertaking that repair. I considered that justifiable homicide might be in order.

Yes, I do still love him 🙂

My Facebook friends offered their condolences and suggestions. Some were a little concerned for the fate of the perp…Not to worry…

After dinner, I was researching methods of repairing holes in crochet…and I decided that even if I couldn’t make a neat patch, I would just finish it off, practice stitches on it and use it here for the little babies I watch every day.

Not a very pretty repair, is it?

While I was working on the hole, Dancing Eyes came over and watched me.

“I’m sorry I made the hole in the blanket,” he said in his little happy but somber voice.

“I forgive you,” I replied.

“I forgive you too, Nana.”

Now I was a little confused about this, so I asked, “You forgive me for what?”

“I forgive you for being sad about the blanket,” was his very honest reply.

Hmmmm, that was interesting to think about. Me being sad was hard for him and probably made him feel even worse.

I was thinking about the attribute of mercy. There were so many references regarding God’s mercy toward us on Sunday morning, and here it was Monday evening and I was in a situation that was requiring mercy. Instead of judgment, there was mercy and forgiveness for my little buddy.

Extending that mercy didn’t mean that I “forgot” about the hole and all that work down the drain. It also didn’t mean that the hole never happened. What it meant is that my little Dancing Eyes did not have to bear the penalty of making that hole. I did not punish him or “send him to meet his Maker.”

In a more perfect example, God didn’t and doesn’t hold me in judgment for my sins but extends His mercy to me. How hard could it be for me to share that same mercy with my little guy?

But God goes so much further in His mercy…He says that my sins have been cast into the depths of the sea. That He no longer remembers my sin, nor holds it against me. His mercy is COMPLETE. Full. And FREE to me. It was at great price for His Son, Jesus. A sacrifice that cannot be measured in human terms.

Buried in the deepest sea,
Yes that’s good enough for me!

He has extended to us all that magnificent gift of mercy…not giving what is deserved. He has also blessed us even further with His gifts of grace and love. Undeserved blessings, so freely given to all who would believe. Forgiveness. Life. Peace. All these flow outward from His original sacrificial gift of mercy.

That baby quilt will mean an awful lot more to me now with its patched hole than a perfectly crocheted blanket ever could. Like the scars that my Savior still carries in His body, that patch will be a reminder of mercy, love and grace.

Have YOU experienced that peace that results from God’s gift of mercy for you?

Ephesians 2:4-9

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

Finally!

My daughter taught me to crochet about eight years ago. At the time, we lived in a condo, with a really pretty cottage-country bedroom. The quilt on the bed was very nice, one of those mass produced supposed to look handmade patchwork quilts.

It actually was quilted, pieced and all, just not that unique, but I really liked it. So I decided what we really needed to add the finishing touch to a really sweet room was an afghan laying at the foot of the bed.

So my NellyBelle taught me how to single crochet. If you read my last blog post you will remember my past as a perfectionist. When I began the afghan, I didn’t understand that the tighter the stitches, the harder it would be, the longer it would take and the more yarn it would need to fit my queen-sized bed.

And the first several rows of stitches have no spaces between them. NO AIR and NO LIGHT. Perfect if you live in Antarctica. I do not. I live in the swanky, humid, confused weather-patterned Midwest.

See those lovely, perfectionist stitches?
Clearly PRE-grandchildren…;)

We moved out of the condo. The lovely quilt became the guest room quilt and eventually fell apart. I experimented with many new color schemes, and eventually found the afghan in all its unfinished mess. I did a few rows and eased up on the stitches. It went a little faster, but I just couldn’t quite get the hang of the whole turning part. Or how to knot the skeins together when one ran out.

Starting to loosen up a little by this point…

I realized at some point that I really didn’t have time to finish it, so it got buried in a closet somewhere. Life has a funny way of forcing the readjusting of priorities and projects. No more of that Urgent-Important, Urgent-Unimportant, Not Urgent-Important or Not Urgent-Not Important quadrant stuff for making good use of time. Not in Nana Land, anyway.

NellyBelle has since married, finished her residency, had a baby, bought a house and made her own toys for her little guy. My afghan was still a sorry mess.

Meanwhile, Superman and I decided to dedicate a room to my sewing and crafting and dreaming and writing. While emptying out the entire room and closet, Superman found the incomplete afghan project. I decided it was way past due on finishing this thing. I had too much time invested in the crazy thing to just throw it away, and I wanted to at least finish it and be done. I attacked that afghan with gusto.

I loosened up on the stitches, and it actually made the afghan “feel” better–not so hot or heavy. I considered turning it into a dress, but realized I would be one long lasting hot flash, and the world is just not ready for that. Talk about global warming! (Now that I think about it, I think that global warming could almost certainly be attributed to how much longer women are living and how many hot flashes we are all contributing to the atmosphere. Maybe the scientists could come up with a healthy solution for that??? Like, TODAY?!?!?!)

Digressing…anyway, in the last three weeks, I have tackled the turning problems and the loose stitches, and how to join the yarn AND made up a finishing edge that doesn’t look bad. All things considered. I don’t know if it is even a legitimate stitch, but if it wasn’t before, it is NOW!

Don’t you just love the way I tripled the stitches to edge the thing?

So now I have an orange/brown/blue/cream bedroom. My living room is grey/green/blue/cream and the afghan is lavender/periwinkle/green/dk green/cream. Hmmmmm…

I think I am ready to start a SMALLER project now…

Don’t tell her, but I am giving it to my mom. She thought it was so pretty when she saw me working on it, and it will be just perfect for her when she gets a little chilly. I even made sure the loosened stitches wouldn’t let the toes sneak through. And my dad? Well, he can’t appreciate the colors but I would imagine she will share it with him too…

Contrasting the old on the right with the new on the left…sigh…so glad it is finally finished!

Cleaning Out the Closet…

Since my sweet husband has been away, I decided to use the time wisely by organizing his drawers and closet. You see, when he is HERE, he has this problem when the purging begins…

So I started with the easy part…the closet.

Let me just start off by saying in my defense that in my past, I was a confirmed perfectionist with very particular ways of folding, hanging, sorting, washing, line drying, organizing…You know, my way is the right way and there is no other way…

My husband is not color blind. He can see all colors.  My FATHER is color blind. He cannot see red, green, brown…or mixtures of these colors. So my FATHER has a legitimate reason if something is mismatched. My mother found socks with snaps so they don’t get separated in the drawer. Brown and tan in one drawer, blue and black in another drawer. You know, I learned my organizational skills from HER.

Nathan believes that if something is blue it always goes with anything else that is blue. All greens can be worn together. And he believes that since the rainbow doesn’t clash, neither do his clothes.

When he comes home at the end of the day and I realize that he went to work with mismatched clothes, he is always so surprised if I don’t think the combination worked. I ask him, “Have I ever put that combination together?”

And his response is always the same, “I thought I would try something new…”

That is now forbidden.

I asked him if he would like his shirts matched up with pants to help figure out what works…He wasn’t sure he could manage that. Really??? (I should note that when we first got married, he only wore navy or brown pants, no patterns, textures or variations. You wouldn’t believe how hard I had to work to get tan and gray added…)

So…back to the closet. I put all of his button shirts by color from white to black, left to right. Then his cold weather casual shirts and his light weight shirts. All following the same color pattern. His pants separate the current season of shirts from the warm season shirts. After all, we have been known to have sudden warm ups in the middle of Winter.

I like the order of the colors as they transition from light to dark. I like knowing that with the second button fastened I won’t have to worry about wrinkled shirts lying on the floor…I like knowing that with a quick glance it will be easy to put clean clothing away because it is so organized.

RIGHT. After all these years, I am still the only one who cares about the clothes being in any sort of order, the only one who actually thinks about where the clothes SHOULD be hung…the only one that recognizes that there actually IS a pattern…

And I also continue to be that slow learner that refuses to just give up and admit it’s hopeless…

And tomorrow, I will tell you all about the lessons learned from the sock drawers…