Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This 'n' That

Busy, busy, busy.

I remember this, from back-in-the-day when my older children were in public school. The end-of-the-year crush. Alvin Fernald is playing j.v. baseball, and doing well. Yesterday he pitched (not his normal position) and got two strike-outs. Last week, Blackeyed Susan was inducted into the National Honor Society. You may know that Susan is my seventh-of-eight children. We sat at the banquet with a couple whose tenth-of-eleven was being honored. Large families--a cool *club.*

I'm working on Susan's prom dress. I used to work with a woman who made wedding dresses on the side. She also outfitted the entire bridal party. Not. Me. Sewing with slippery fabrics makes me crazy, anyway, besides the fact that you are cutting into expensive fabric. This dress (Simplicity 3878) [I'm making the pink one on the live model, in deep purple taffeta] has lots of gathering, fifteen yards of tulle, and BONING.

Ahh, boning. All I remember about boning is that when I made Violet's prom dress in 1993, I swore I would never, ever do Boning again. And, here I am. Well, in my defense, the boning I bought looks much more user-friendly. You can even sew through it. Since I'm not that far into the construction of the dress, you will have to Tune In Tomorrow to find out if I have torn out all my hair...

In-between times, I'm (still) quilting a birthday quilt for Joe Hardy (whose birthday was last week...) I'm *almost* halfway done. Don't have any idea why it is taking so long.

Well, I am going to get back to the sewing machine. The Dress is becoming a monster that, until I slay it, will be taking over everything in the house. I will post tomorrow with an Update...

Monday, April 19, 2010

I touched history this weekend.

Charming and I took off (alone!) Friday evening for a short visit upstate. We spent Friday night with Charming's best buddy Mike and his wife, my dear-dear-dear friend Kaybeautiful.

Saturday morning, over coffee (and tea for Kaybeautiful), we looked over a bag of "stuff" that she had of her grandmother's. This bag of "stuff," she has had for all of her 31-year marriage, and it has come through moves from place to place, basement to attic, here to there, and Kay had never examined it. What surprising treasures it held!

We found a number of pamphlets called The Story of The Old Rugged Cross, referring to the song written in 1913 by Rev. George Bennard. A pastor of a little church in Pokagon, Michigan, invited him to preach a revival in January 1913. Rev. Bennard had written the first verse to his song earlier, but finished it at this time, and the church choir performed the song publicly for the first time there. Kay's grandmother was scheduled to sing that Sunday, but was home with a sick wee one. However, Grandma's two sisters and one of the sisters' husbands were among the five-member choir.

Kaybeautiful knew the story--she also grew up in this church. But to see the little pamphlet with photos of her aunts was so, so exciting. There were also a number of leaflets, year-by-year, of Old Rugged Cross Sunday, an annual commemoration. We also found a carbon-copy of a letter written by the pastor of the little church, telling how he and his wife paid for the first printing of the music.

This little incident reminded me of the concept of the human web, or six degrees of separation, the idea that any two people on earth can be connected by no more than five other people. I am three degrees from the writer of The Old Rugged Cross: me to Kaybeautiful, to her grandmother, to Rev. Bennard, who taught her to sing his song. And, if you know me (and I know you do!) you become four degrees.

Do you wonder how the song became popular? Evangelist Billy Sunday used it extensively in his crusades in the 1920's. Later, Billy Graham found the Lord under Sunday's ministry. Billy Sunday's home is a museum 35 miles from my home, at Winona Lake in Warsaw, Indiana. Winona Lake is home to Grace College, formerly Winona Lake College, where my grandfather graduated--another "human web."

A few years ago, my neighbor who lived in the teeny-tiny upstairs apartment next door, came to ask if she could serve dinner to an English missionary couple who were coming to visit, in our dining room. I told her I would be glad to make dinner. Even though it was out-of-season, I made a full Thanksgiving menu, complete with pumpkin pie. As we enjoyed our meal, the wife mentioned that her favorite books when she was a child were the Gene Stratton-Porter books. I told her that Mrs. Porter had owned a house just three doors down from us. So, after dinner, we knocked on our neighbor's door, and our missionary friends got the Grand Tour, complete with Random Historical Facts.

Think about it. You are a missionary to Africa, born in England, come to America for the very first time, and land by serendipity at a house for dinner that is three doors down from one your favorite author used to own? Bizarre.

As Charming says, "God is so bizarre." But, he also says, would you want to serve a God who wasn't? He fills our lives with ever-new, ever-connected things that show us He is in control. Nothing is by accident with Him. And He makes living fun.

Saturday we went to Charming's Mom's house, and visited with two of his sisters, a nephew, Kaybeautiful, and Violet. We looked at more of Kay's stuff, including letters to her grandmother dated 1907, and a packet of my father's WWII letters to my mother, that I had brought along to show Violet. Stepped back into mid-century, and further back to early-century, through real-life people with whom we are connected. No better way to spend a weekend!

To read a little more about The Old Rugged Cross, go here.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


If you don't know Kellie over at Enjoying the Small Things, you are missin' something good. For one thing, she is an amazing photographer, and heavily peppers her posts with lovely photos. A few weeks ago, the Lord surprised her with a baby daughter, Nella, who has Down's Syndrome. Her journey of discovery with her daughter is really worth reading.

In the post I linked to above, Kellie talks about Perfection. When her pediatrician gave her the news about Nella's being special, she said to her, "She's beautiful...and perfect."

Here is what Kellie says:

" ....and I wonder what it is about different that makes us think that it's not perfect? Why is it that we set the bar higher and higher and expect ourselves, our children to be flawless? What is it we strive for and once we achieve it--this perfection--what have we achieved? It's never enough. Even the razor I used in the shower this morning tries to outdo itself with now six
blades layered to give a more perfect shave because apparently the five-bladed prior model didn't quite master the hairless perfection we're attempting to achieve."

I think about my son, Don Quixote, who has Asperger's Syndrome. He has been wired differently in his brain from us normal NT (neurologically typical) people.
(I do like the term "neurologically typical" instead of "normal.")

For awhile, I thought that maybe Don's Asperger's came from being immunized, a popular theory. But, one day I read an article in a homeschooling magazine that featured special needs children. For each "special need," there was an article, and a sidebar from the editor listing symptoms, so that you could get your child screened if need be. Looking at the list of symptoms of Asperger's, I saw that Don fit them perfectly, all the way down the list. What is more important to me, however, is that I could divide the list in two, and put my name at the top of one, and Charming's at the top of the other. In God's amazing creativity, he made a DNA combo, a "perfect storm" if you will, that became Don.

Don, who, when he reads something about a "cure" for Asperger's, says, "I don't need a cure, I'm not broken!" and, upon further discussion, says, I wouldn't want a "cure," anyway. Take away the Asperger's, and I wouldn't know who I was."

Wow. Wowowowowowowow.

I think about my brother Scotty, who was born with an incurable blood disease. Throughout his 8 1/2 years, he was poked and prodded, tested and guinea-pigged more that most of us will ever be. My mother told him one time, "I am so sorry that you have to go through this." He replied, "that's okay, Mom, this is my life. This is all I know."

And now our little granddaughter Nettie. She has challenges that we don't even know about yet. God has done a mighty work in that little one, but, for right now, she's not completely healed.

But, that doesn't mean that she's not perfect.

Of course, we live in a fallen world, and "things" happen. Nettie was oxygen-deprived near birth. Myriad other things can happen that can make us not-normal. But if I'm reading my Bible correctly, God doesn't make anything that is not perfect. Everything He made, "He saw that it was good." We have all seen a tree that has grown around something foreign and is twisted in a funny way. Or a kitten with an extra leg. Or [on and on and on...] Whether the circumstances happen before birth or after, just because we aren't flawless doesn't mean we're not perfect.

We need to look at ourselves and those around us like God looks at us. Seeing through God-eyes would be so enlightening, wouldn't it? How much less would we fuss about things that aren't of any importance at all, in the grand scheme of things?

Thank you, Don, and thank you, Nettie, for teaching us about God.

Finally, another quote from Kellie:

"The concept of "perfect" is not flawless or four-point-oh. It's happiness. Happiness with all of its messiness and not-quite-there-ness. It's knowing that time is short, and the moments we choose to fill our cup with should be purposeful and colorful. And that's perfection."

Edited to add: After discussing these thoughts with Charming, he said something: God's plan is perfect. It is not perfection.

Food for thought.