Tuesday, January 22, 2019

From small beginnings...

“Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.” —Henry Van Dyke.

For a very long time, my quilting motto has been “Finished is Better than Perfect.” My quilts would never win a contest: so many of my corners don’t match up, my stitches are uneven and sometimes too big. But as time goes on, I am more consistent, more of the time.

Right now I am quilting a quilt I made in 1999. I originally “tied” it, because the thought of actually quilting it was too daunting. I have made 149 quilts since then, many, many quilted. In fact, my first “quilted” quilt was the one after this one.

I am REALLY noticing the poor construction, including using really inferior fabric in parts. But as I’m quilting it, I am reminded that “small beginnings make great endings.” No one is an expert at the start—think elementary school band concerts. Yet we cheer for our children as if they were already in the symphony.

So I am thinking of you today, and praying that you see yourself through our Father’s eyes. He is so proud of you, and wants to tell you.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

An Encouraging Word

Happy New Year!

I've seen so many things coming across my facebook feed: A new year is a book with 365 empty pages--how will you fill it? A more disturbing one tells us that 1999 was TWENTY YEARS AGO. Many of my friends are posting their Word for the Year--Slow Down. Be Deliberate. Be Present. It appears these are alternatives to the traditional resolutions. But there is no less pressure in keeping them, is there?

Now, having a word for your year is not a bad thing at all. My husband and I have had a long-term goal of Living Deliberately and Living Simply. The problem is, the Living gets in the way. I learned long ago to find the joy in paying bills. Yes, the paycheck is eaten up very quickly, but that is how God provides our living. Step One in living deliberately. As far as living simply? Well, I can simplify your life in two minutes. Your house is on fire--what do you take? A tad drastic, I'll admit.

My daughter-in-love gave me a beautiful devotional for Christmas. It is My Mother's Quilts: Devotions of Love, Legacy, Family, and Faith by Ramona Richards. The author has a large collection of quilts from her mother, grandmother, and other family members. She relates well-rehearsed family stories about them, and weaves each of them in with a nugget of wisdom.

One of the entries is named "Offhand remarks." The author overheard her father say to her mother one day, "that one (the Churn Dash) is my favorite." We all (but especially children) hear things we say offhandedly and quickly forget, but sometimes those offhand remarks can remain with us for a lifetime.

The daughter had a very important conversation with her father shortly before he died. He related (among other things) that he worried that his decision decades before to move the family far away from their home in order to take a job might have sacrificed some closeness in the family's relationships. He also wished he could have "been there" more during her divorce.

I had several conversations with my own Daddy before he died. Some of the things he had worried about I had never given a thought to--just like me (and I suspect, like all of us), we are much harder on ourselves than our loved ones are. Kind of like our heavenly Father, right? We beat ourselves up over things He says are "no biggie." He has it handled already, and never, ever holds them against us.

But these conversations are important. Have you heard the saying, "don't die with the music still in you?" We need to make sure we don't die with the Words still in us. The author said, "Nothing that needs to be said should remain unsaid. Words used wisely, even more than money or quilts, are the inheritance we pass to those around us."

After her father's funeral, the author of my devotional asked her mother for the Churn Dash quilt. Her mother asked why, and she said, "it was Daddy's favorite." Her mother did not remember him saying that, proving again that Offhand Remarks are sometimes Important Remarks. We should  always consider anything we say as possibly significant.

So, I think my Word of the Year will be Words of Grace. To consider my words, always striving to be encouraging. To always make sure I say all the Important Words. As the Proverbs 25:11 says, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver."

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Encouragement for 212 pennies.

One of my treasures is my Grandma’s sewing machine. It was new in 1977, and had all the bells and whistles for the time. It’s forty years old now, but it’s my workhorse. All I ever have to do is send it to the shop for a tuneup and tension reset, and it’s good for another couple of years.

A few days ago, my bobbin winder stopped working. I googled “troubleshoot bobbin winder,” and it gave a few options. But the next time I sat down to sew, I had another problem—a high pitched whine, reminding me of the noises meerkats make (fan of Meerkat Manor here). I took off the top plate of the machine to see if something was stuck. I stepped on the presser foot, and...no noise. Upon further investigation, I noticed the little rubber ring around the bobbin filler thing was cracked. It actually crumbled as I removed it. However, after I removed it, the high-pitched whine stopped. Dear hubby went to the sewing machine store and got two rubber rings for the ridiculous price of $2.12, including tax.

Well, gotta say, that’s a great price. I did wonder why he got two rubber rings. I’m not sure I’ll still be sewing when the new rubber ring wears out. Also, the second ring will be forty years old by then, right?

So, I had me a little laugh and put the second ring in my sewing box, then went about my day.

Then, while I was sleeping, I began to think again about this forty-year business. In forty years, I would be 102 years old. Still, my Uncle John just celebrated his 101st birthday, so it is not out of the realm of the possible, right?

And that’s when I realized it. I am in what my sister calls Act III of my life.  Dividing your life into three parts, you have age 0-30 as prep time, 30-60 as the “doing” part of life, then from 60-on you are in Act III. Just as in a play, Act III is where all the little plot lines are resolved, and where Everything Comes Together. It is a great concept, right?

But when I think about having forty years left, man, that is encouraging! I’m not sure I want to live that long in this fallen world, but I am again reminded that I have Enough Time to finish everything that the Lord has for me to do. I have an “appointment” to die, and “miles to go before I sleep.” I may not know when my “appointment” is, but I can be confident that whether or not I ever get to use that second rubber ring, God’s got this.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Baby Talk.

My newest grandbaby is six days overdue. I dare not get too excited, because his or her big sister overstayed her welcome by seventeen days. Still, all other plans are conditional--yeah, we can go for coffee, Unless The Baby Comes.

This is probably apropos of nothing (hello: I don't get to use that phrase nearly often enough!),  except a headline came across my facebook newsfeed about one of the Duggar girls having a "honeymoon baby" (or WAS it? with eyeroll...).

The site was called Hollywood Gossip, so I can confidently predict the slant the article would take. And my first thought was that the writer probably had no idea, really, of the variables involved in estimating due dates, especially in "honeymoon" babies.

Way back in the day when I was growing up, there was a phenomenon called "seven month babies." Children were routinely born just seven months after a marriage. They were remarkably as large and fully developed as full-term babies. People knew that the couple had "had" to get married, but were polite about it, at least in public. (Oh, to have at least public civility again...) Gossip was left to women in their bridge clubs or over the backyard fence.

My mother got pregnant soon after her wedding, and lost the baby about eight months into her marriage. The baby was stillborn, five and a half months old. She told me, forty years later, how fearful she was that people would talk. There was only her word, after all, of the age of the baby. My daughter-in-law, Ashley, knew she would be ovulating on her honeymoon, and when she went to the doctor, found her due date to be eight months and twenty-six days after the wedding date. But her baby was overdue, and born nine months and four days after the wedding. The stigma of this is gone, of course, unless you claim to have waited till marriage for sex.

So here are a few scientific facts for you. Put them in your arsenal for judgmental friends, or for your own use if you tend toward gossip:

1. Due dates are calculated by the date of your last period. Although the interval between ovulation and the beginning of your next period is always 14 days, the time between Day One of your cycle and Ovulation Day can vary widely. So plotting a date by the "first day of your last period" can be problematic.

2. Sperm can live 3-5 days, and can fertilize an egg even when ovulation happens days after the actual sex. So even if you only had sex one time during the last cycle, you might have gotten pregnant days later. Not a perfect way to estimate a due date, either.

3. Pregnancy is not nine calendar months. It is 40 weeks, or 280 days. Nine 30-day months equal 270; even with 5 or 6 31-day months, you're still not at 280.

4. Babies don't always come right at 280 days. (Okay, you may already know that one.)

So remember: Don't judge. It's none of your business, anyway. A pregnant woman, married or single, young or old, first-time mom or twentieth-time mom, needs your support and congratulations. Period. God can handle the rest.

Monday, October 03, 2016

We can't all be idiots.

To my family and friends:

I am so very tired of all the articles this political season, from both sides: "Only an idiot would vote for Trump/Clinton." We are not all idiots, just because we disagree politically.

I am a lifelong conservative. That means, among other things, I believe government should be smaller and taxes lower, among other things. On the other side are the liberals, who believe that the government should be responsible for more, possibly resulting in higher taxes. That's okay--these are just two different worldviews. In America, just about 50% are on either side. That is why more elections are won by a margin of 51-49 or 52-48%, rather than, say, 80-20%. Even Reagan's landslide victory in 1984 was 58.8%.

In my birth family, I am part of basically a 100% majority of conservatives. In my marriage family, my husband and I are in an 80-20% minority. My immediate family (children and spouses, etc.) stands at about 70-30%, with a conservative majority. My church is almost entirely conservative; in my neighborhood, I am in a tiny, tiny minority.

The point is, someone will be elected President, and we will all be satisfied or not. Life will go on. What is important is that family on all sides will still love each other. Family always "trumps" politics, every day of every year.

I love you all, family and friends. Pray. Vote. Love.




Sunday, August 11, 2013

Shaking the Family Tree.

My grandfather was the youngest of thirteen children. He was born in 1900.
(on a side note: aren't these men HOT?)

My father taught me the Family Litany when I was quite young. He'd repeat it at least once a year, near the time of the Plasterer Family Reunion, always the last Sunday in August. My mother made an everlasting impression on all of the aunts, when she urged Daddy to go to the reunion on the very day after their wedding in 1941.
Ahhh, those family reunions! My great-aunts (those ladies in the photo above, or those who were still living while I was growing up, and the uncles' wives) really knew how to cook. Oh, the pans of fried chicken they brought! That taste does not exist on the planet anymore, I'm sure. Probably because they used lard, and possibly even used their own, home-grown chickens. My mother used to urge us not to eat the potato salad--she was not sure how long, or even if, it had been refrigerated after the making. And my mother had a great fear of Bad Mayonnaise. She didn't want us to eat a lot of things on that table, because flies would land on things. I just snuck those things onto my plate when she wasn't looking.

The shorter woman in the back row of the photograph, with the large white bow, is Aunt Maud. She was one of the ancient great-aunts at the family reunions. She was four-foot something in her old age, and she was a Cheek Pincher. I think that breed is probably extinct by now. Every summer, she would say How Much We'd Grown, and then pinch our cheeks horribly. Mother said we had to put up with it, because she was our grandfather's older sister. My brother got the worst of it, because he shared a birthday with Aunt Maud.

But I digress. I was going to tell you about the Family Litany. It goes like this:

"Heinrich and Anna Maria Plasterer came from Holland to the Port of Philadelphia on the ship Friendship in 1739, and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The generations go like this: Heinrich, Conrad, Conrad, George, Henry Clay, Richard (my grandfather), Robert (my Dad), Barbara." I am an eighth-generation American. I have grandchildren, who are tenth-generation; my sister has great-granchildren, so the eleventh generation is alive on the planet. And since my grandfather was the youngest of his family, and his oldest sibling was about 25 when he was born, maybe even generation twelve is out there. An interesting historical side-note is that the Amish came from Holland to Philadelphia and settled in Lancaster County between 1730 and 1740, so who knows? We may come from Amish!

My daughter and I have the ancestry.com addiction, and she found something out the other day that shakes that old family litany down to its foundations. She was looking at the ship's manifest of the ship Friendship, that indeed docked in Philly in 1739. But while Heinrich and Anna Maria were on the ship, and the families settled in Lancaster County, Anna Zimmerman was TEN YEARS OLD when she came. She married Heinrich five years later, when she was fifteen, and he twenty-four.

I don't even know what to do with this information. That "litany" was so ingrained, this kinda rocks my place in the world. Only not really. I'll get over it. We'll just have to add the phrase, "and married five years later," to the litany.

Excuse me, I must close this out. Ancestry.com is waiting...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Where were you?

Fifty years.

What a mind-boggling thought. Half a century. And yet, I know where I was fifty years ago today.

I was flower-girl at my beautiful sister Rosie's wedding!

Oh, there are photos, really cool ones, but they have never been scanned onto facebook. I don't even have possession of them all, but let me tell you how it was.

Because the wedding was during Christmas week, the church was already decorated with evergreens and red and green and gold. Naturally, Rosie's colors were red and green. My grandmother made everything--all the dresses, the pillbox hats, my headband, Rosie's dress and even her headpiece and veil (a huge rose, of course, for Rose Anne). The maid of honor, her best friend, and I wore red velveteen, and the bridesmaids (my sister Janet and Auntie Marylin) wore green. I remember feeling deprived in a few areas, however. The maid of honor and bridesmaids carried white rabbit fur muffs decorated with a poinsettia instead of flowers. I think I carried a basket. (I angst-ed over not having a muff for forty-five years, till my sister Janet blessed me by giving me hers!) The other girls also wore dyed-to-match satin heels; I had to wear plain ol' black patent Mary Janes. My mother wore champagne satin, with a black velvet pillbox hat. (I was so impressed with her dress, I wanted to have one as close to it as possible, when my own daughter got married!) It was very, very exciting to be part of the wedding party!

There was a buffet supper at our house after the rehearsal, and all the grown-ups were dancing afterward to phonograph records. Daddy left early the morning of the wedding to get sweet rolls from the bakery--my first ever pecan roll....I can still taste it, I think. The reception was in the school cafeteria, or what you might call the "church hall." Potato chips were in paper bowls on the tables, and we had fountain pop--a real treat! Of course, we had cake, and husband and wife opened their gifts at the reception, a tradition that I wish had never become passe.

Unfortunately, Rosie's marriage lasted only twelve years, but produced two beautiful children. But the glamour of that day stays with me (as you can see).

I have been both mother-of the-groom and mother-of-the-bride. That last one just 'bout kilt me. I think I didn't leave the house for six weeks afterward. When I think of my  Mom that day in 1962--not only mother-of-the-bride, but with an 18-month old and a 2 1/2 year old (and four other children, as well)--now, SHE was a Super-Woman.

Rosie passed away in 2001. My mother, father, and Auntie Marylin are gone, as well. But I thank the Lord for memories, because I can remember that special day, today, fifty years later.