Knit and Pray

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hook or Pitch ???

Sometimes there are golden gems on Twitter.
Found one today !


In addition to my own health issues that took me out for over six months, I am a stay-at-home caregiver. But, God blessed me big time and provided enough healing so that I could resume caring for two of the most special people in my world: my husband and my adult daughter. Life is busy and hectic and frankly, except for medical appointments, I don't get around much anymore.


Over the past few years, writing fell to the bottom of my "Must-Do-To-Survive" list. Then, Dear Heart and Daughter both struggled with changes in abilities and needs so they went to the very top of my list. I have been in a serious learning mode. And they say old dogs can't learn new stuff. Well, let me tell you..... but, that's for another post.

About a month ago, my stress level went through the roof. One day in sheer desperation I turned on the intercom, shut the office door, and pounded the keys. Have no idea what I wrote that day, but I put words together, threw in a comma now and then, and watched rambling thoughts tumble from my tired brain to the computer screen.

In short order, I took a deep breath, opened the office door, and resumed vigilance. With a smile. I pondered, long and hard, the sudden change in my attitude. Ahhhhh. Well, it seems that, for me, working with words restores sanity.

I began to carve out some time every day or so to weave words together and my breathing eased, my thinking calmed, my smiles felt genuine.

A few days ago, on one of those rare occasions when we enjoyed a short visit with new neighbors, the subject of my writing came up. Our new friend asked, "What do you write?"

Oh dear. I have not submitted a single thing to a contest or answered a single call for submissions in over three years. The "writer" within me had gone into hiding. Or somewhere.

Somehow, with hands jammed into my pockets, I mumbled something about 'personal experience pieces, anthologies, personality interviews.'

The neighbor smiled and tactfully changed the subject. Back at home, I checked my web site. Sure enough, I'm still there and all my publishing credits still look somewhat impressive.

To test the writing waters, I posted a few longer face book posts. Then, I tip-toed back into my Twitter page and typed out some 140 characters. Power!! So, I pulled out one of my most beloved short stories that has never won anything and worked it over. Just preparing the story for submission to a major contest went to my head so I went for broke and pulled out a memoir to submit also. Just kind of went crazy there for awhile.

Winning or getting my work published is not the issue. My writing career began in the closet some sixty years ago and it is okay if my next twenty writing years stay in the closet. Getting those thoughts into words is ecstasy. Developing sentences, creating paragraphs, explaining ideas, formatting ideas, jotting down scenes, and creating characters is thrill enough. For today.

Except, a writer is never satisfied. Last night while trying to think of something to expound succinctly on Twitter I read a tweet from Hope Clark. Followed the link and oh boy. Right between the eyes.

ELEVATOR PITCH. Goodness, I used to have one.

So, while I am busily recreating my own personal pitch, if you write, check out the blog I found. It is a gold mine. There is a HUGE difference between the "hook" and the "elevator pitch." R.S. Mellette at From the Write Angle hits a home run.

Hook or Elevator Pitch

And, yes, I understand that all my close personal friends doubt that I can say ANYTHING in a few, chosen, succinct words. [ Big Smiling Face Here ] Just wait !!! In between dishes and laundry and transporting and ...... well, the words await !!!

Hugs and love and happy writing.

Liz

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Summer of Thanksgiving

          There are THOSE days.
We’ve had a lot of them lately.
You know the kind….overwhelming, hard, painful, or just plain boring.
It seems that THOSE days happen all too frequently.
          Our household is a blend of many things and life has changed drastically for us during the past three years. As we age and fight medical / physical battles, sometimes we seem to run on empty. We had to stay home this month when the rest of our family gathered in Ohio for a grandson’s wedding. Time was when we could go and do with the best of them. Not this year

          But, it has rained in the Texas Hill Country recently. So, we have been giving thanks to our Holy Father. It has been real, wet, soaking rain straight from His hands and not from our sprinklers. More often than not, Texas does not get good rains in the summer. In addition to just normal dry conditions of typical summers, we have struggled with a terrible and most dangerous drought for the past several years.

          This summer the rains came. For a while. Not to stay. But water fell from heaven enough to cause us to pause and give thanks and remember the fire dangers of last summer.

          Then there is the THANKS          bonus. You know the kind….those unexpected whoopppee things discovered only when you stop to give thanks for little things.


A few million words in a few pictures......


July 1, 2011
Same Tree this summer, June 28, 2014


The fig tree I gave my husband
June, 2013 for his birthday
    
His fig tree this summer !!!!

And look.... that little darlin is bearing
fruit already this summer !!!
Crepe Myrtle by our house this year

As long as we are giving thanks, a few million more words . . .

Four generations gather to celebrate Dad/Dada's
91st birthday. WOW
Sisters by choice
Finding fun where we can

My hat - fits many folks.
Melinda's summer garden hat is white

So my toes are sparkle red for summer

Little things. But great things. Good things that add joy and contemplation and gratitude and laughter to our hearts.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

And now I'll sign off by saying... it is good to spend time with friends... giving thanks!!!

Blessings,
    Liz








Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Care Giver Gets Care

I knew it would happen.
         I dreaded it.
It is now necessary.
        I whined and complained and worried. Mostly to my Heavenly Father who listens patiently to ALL my aggravations and fears.
        When I had to stand at the window for extra light to read fine print, I caved.
ALRIGHT  !!    OKAY   !!

I am always amazed (do not ask me why….’cause I’m a frail human I guess) that God handles so much for me. Most nights I stand in the shower at the end of a long day of being in charge of everything for everybody and I begin to cry. Before I can get out a really good sob, I begin to offer praises to my Father. Things that were amazing and awesome during the day jump to mind and I give thanks. So, before I realize what has happened, I am calm and head to bed feeling protected and loved. Even when things around me are painful, sad, hurtful somehow I know He cares. Even when I’m very made at God because my friend’s husband’s cancer is not healed. Obviously God has very broad shoulders and is absolutely forgiving.

Yes, I know that it seems I am on a “rabbit trail.” Be patient.

        How, I asked myself a couple of thousand times, can I possible have a cataract procedure when I am responsible for my household? I’m the only driver, lifter, doer, fixer, encourager, director. (Yes, I hate being the “strong one” but that’s our situation so I deal with it!!)

          First, my friend of 40+ years called to tell me about her DOUBLE cataract procedure. Piece of cake, she PROMISED. Blow by blow description; excited that it was so easy, that she was not nervous, was not aware of anything, and that she could SEE again. She promised the eye doctor is the best anywhere. My friend promised to do all my transportation, stay with me, watch over me, and deliver me back home. She promised to begin praying for my peace immediately.

Okay. It was some better.

Second, a younger writer friend sent me a happy e-mail assuring me that my eye doctor is WONDERFUL. She and the doctor are close friends and she trusts the doctor completely.

Okay. So I make the appointment.

Not too bad. I meet the doctor. WOW. My jitters simply melted. The doctor said the second eye is ready and should be done in two weeks. I grinned and said, “Let’s do it!!”

         In twenty-four house, my faithful friend of 40+ years will pick me up at my door and we will ride off to my great adventure together. I really can trust her because, believe me, we have been through thick and thin, well and sick, bad and good, births and deaths. We have held onto each other and each of us holds tightly to our Holy Father. All IS well.

           I’ve laid in enough groceries for three weeks for us people and for the cat, dog, birds, and hummingbirds. All our prescriptions are ordered and ready to pick up today to last through the time I can’t drive. All my eye appointments are organized, I’m on schedule with eye drops, the laundry is almost finished. I even filled the car with gas so when I can drive, it will be ready.

HOWEVER !!
There is one big problem for this old, sat-in-my-ways, Busy Person.

            After each procedure, I am to spend the remainder of that day ‘just laying around, being quiet and still.’ The second day, I am to take it easy. HUH??????????

            How do I do that if I can’t see the TV, my iPad, read e-mails, check FaceBook, read one of the five books on my night stand, or type on my computer. ??????????

Well, I guess I’ll discover patience at work.

            I will be honest though. Many hospital visits have not been great experiences for me so I deeply appreciate your prayers for safety and two successful procedures. Routinely, I claim the promise below from Hebrews of for many friends who are being dragged through rough mountains. I am claiming the promise for me over the next three weeks.

Sunshine blessings and Love,
   Liz

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace
with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy
and find grace to help us
in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)


        




Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Physician Priest at our Door

just a flimsy plastic cup . . . . and we received.

            This past Sunday started out like most of our Sundays over the past ten months or so.
No public church service.
No Holy Communion.

Husband is up, like clockwork, about eight. Daughter is up soon after. I am up anywhere from four a.m. until 11 a.m., depending on the ole Restless Legs Syndrome and/or prescribed medications.
            All week, every week, I’m it: cook, chief bottle-washer, chauffeur. I must be up early most days to get one or another of us to one or another appointment, mostly medical and to keep our bodies and souls together.
            Every Saturday night I say to myself,Self, we WILL get up in the morning and make it to church.”
            On the Saturday night before every First Sunday, I say to me, “ME, now let’s pray.” As the shower stings my back with hot, healing water, I beg, “Holy Father, we so need to receive Communion. It is offered tomorrow at our church. Please help me to wake up, be alert, and have energy to dress, and to get the three of us ready and into the car in time to worship.”
            I am certain that He hears my prayers even as the noise of the shower drowns out my wails, cries, pleas, and thanksgivings. I cannot provide an answer as to why my prayers are not answered… in the way I desire!! I don’t know why, even with deep, fervent praying, that my legs get crazier on Saturday nights than most other nights. I have not a clue as to why my body/mind/spirit seems to collapse when I finally get a day to rest. I crave worship with other believers. I ache to lift my voice in song with a choir and a piano and an organ. I hunger after communion.
            Oh my, yes, I am positive that the love of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior never leaves me….whether I physically get TO a church or whether I receive communion every day, once a year, or not at all.
Yet.
He left instructions for me to pray.
He left instructions for me to gather together to worship.
He left instructions for me to eat the bread and drink the wine.
Until He comes again.

There is something connective/life sustaining/soul enlarging when I:
            Lift my voice in song in His Sanctuary
            Greet and hug and bless other believers
            Kneel at the altar beneath His rugged cross
            Eat the broken bread and drink the red wine.

Well. Don’t you know??? Life changes. Things happen.

I try to remember that I keep life and soul and heart in order when I:

  •  sing in my car.
  •  pray in my shower or when resting in the green chair in my sun room.
  •  praise as I load the dishwasher or fold clothes fresh out of the dryer.
  •  cook healthy meals and serve up interesting plates.
  •  drive Daughter to School for Disabled Adults and we talk.
  •  pile Husband into the car for an outing.
  •  dig in the dirt and watch plants thrive.
  •  prepare communion for God’s helpless hummingbirds all summer: by the gallons: fill and re-fill.
           
Then this past Sunday afternoon, our church saw our need.

The young woman knocked on our door.
        She was not in robes.
              Not an ordained minister.
Several years ago she was our family physician. Her knowledge and touch healed our bodies.
After that, we were friends, greeting each other with hugs.

This Sunday afternoon one of her three daughters comes, too. "Seven years old, almost eight,” the child whispers, dark blond hair falling over beautiful eyes.


         The mother / physician / friend / servant carries only a small black box. She sits on our couch. “Bear with me.” She smiles. “This is my first time to serve our Lord’s Meal.”
          She reads John 3:16.                                            
She prays.      
            We join hands, around our stained, scarred, beat-up, 30-year-old coffee table.
            We lift our voices TOGETHER in the old-fashioned words of His Prayer.
                        Our Father, who art in heaven……
     Kristi hands my husband a tiny crumb of bread.
            “Gus, this is the Body of Christ, broken for you.”
      Then she gives him a plastic cup…the kind of cup a nurse gives you filled with pills.
       With a medicine dropper, our Doctor ‘poured’ wine into the tiny cup.
            “Gus, this is the blood of Christ, shed for you.”
His fingers, stiff with age and arthritis struggles to get the tiny piece of bread to his mouth and the tiny, flimsy plastic cup to his lips.
            Then the crumb of bread and sip of wine to Liz.
                        And to my daughter, Melinda.

Our friend says a prayer and we all say, “Amen.”
           Tears wet my face; I thank Kristi.
She hugs each of us. She smiles. “I’ll come every First Sunday. And I’ll bring a different daughter each time.”

This past Sunday
            there was no Silver Chalice.
            no linen cloth covered a loaf of bread.
            the organ did not ring out the Doxology.
            the Cross did not sparkle with sanctuary lights
Our Priest did not wear a robe.

Yet, our family received.
            We worshipped
                        We ate the bread.
                              We drank the wine.                                                 

                                    We gave thanks            

It is well with my soul.
        
May it also be well with you.


    With love,
         Liz

                                                                                                               Luke 22:19-20
He took bread, gave thanks
and broke it, and gave it to them, saying,
“This is my body given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.”
 In the same way, after the supper
he took the cup, saying,
 “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
 which is poured out for you.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Blessings of a Fractioned Day

     I love walking. My preference is to briskly walk on a sidewalk, up and down, around and back through the neighborhood. But, these days my walks are on my treadmill and that's okay.
   
     When solitary walks are by choice, it is exhilarating, delicious. Enjoying the cool of the evening, quietness, sweetness of life. Pondering, rejoicing. Wondering. Singing. Remembering. Laughing.

Then, there are times the walk is lonely. The road is hidden. Dark. Tedious. Solitary.



     I'm learning to let that be okay, also. Even though some well-meaning and loving friends tell me, "Ask for help." "Take care of yourself." "You can't do it all."

     Well. What happens at 10 p.m. and the mover/shaker/care-giver gets a splinter in the right thumb?? Who do you call?

     The funny thing is that there is no one in my household who could get it out at high noon. And, believe me, it is laughable to look up and see yourself in the mirror trying to take out a sticker!!!

Some of my days, recently, had been dark and solitary and difficult.

     I really did pray long and hard about my last post. Perhaps it was more for myself than for most of my readers. While some of it might be for those who walk similar care-giver journeys, it was basically a somber read.

Then.

The day dawns when you realize, "Wow. It IS all up to me!!!"
The day blasts when you know that there is no one else.





Man! I'm IT, baby !!!



        That understanding can either set you free ---- or slap you into your own mental prison. I do not like the thought of a prison.

     Do you remember a TV commercial from oh so many years ago when the young mom, exhausted and obviously fighting a terrible headache slams the kitchen cupboard, grits her teeth, and hisses, "Please Mother, I can do it myself!!" Some instant pain headache reliever, as I recall. I'm sad to admit that sometimes I treat my Holy Father that way.

     Last night, sleep would not come. The day had been pretty good and fruitful but long and I fell into bed with many things left undone. Finally, I snapped on the light (thankfully, my wonderful Dear Heart goes to sleep instantly and can sleep through anything), pulled out the book I chose to read during Lent.



The Praying Life Seeking God in All Things, by Deborah Smith Douglas.
Yep, I chose a heavy duty lesson to study. But, it had been good and over the weekend it was my great privilege to attend a day seminar to hear the author in person.








So, last night, after enough wiggling and squirming I got still and quiet and opened the book to where I had left off last Friday. Page 47. I picked up in the middle of a chapter. And God sat down beside me.



Ms Douglas writes of her own experience as a harried and sometimes too-busy-to-pray young mother. "The fractioning of my days is not likely to end any time soon. But perhaps--by a miracle of grace, by the grace of God--I can come to see myself not as meaninglessly disintegrated but as broken and given like bread, poured out like wine......"

I read it over and over. I cried. I found my trusty yellow highlighter and rubbed the words. I cried.

Providing care to my grown disabled daughter and to my beloved husband is, in some aspects, like those long ago days as a harried and too-busy-to-pray young mother. Except now I am old. With health issues of my own. But, last night I felt not alone and I slept.

Today, I worshiped as I tiptoed into another day of Lent, remembering what Jesus did for me. He does know all about my journey.




And I know that God's word is true. Because He said so. (Colossians 1:17) 
And, by the way, He is alive. Now.

"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

He will even hold together the solitary life of this aging care-giver!!

Praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Love,
        Liz