Monday, November 28, 2011

And Now Some Bronzer

Before I start I must mention that I'm listening to Gungor's CD: Beautiful Things, the song that's playing is "You Have Me" (you ought to look it up on YOUTUBE and listen while you read this to get the full affect). I have bright red fuzzy socks on, and am wearing a delicious blue, plaid button-up shirt. I'm sitting cozily on my snug bed in the eve of a crisp pre-December night. All but one sibling is out of the house and it's all good.

Oh, and I miss BFF.

Now that that's over with... My other sister arrived the day after my last post. Nothing very interesting happened until Thanksgiving -- that I can remember -- so I'll skip to that. Even then, it was a pretty mellow day (for me) up until I had to start cooking. I sat around the rec room all morning watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade (it was boring) and then movies on TV.
Finally I dashed downstairs and made a quick batch of fudge because the only desserts for the day were Pumpkin pie (by Tina), Apple Bavarian pie (by Rachelle) and a Pear Tart (by Bethany). Um, firstly, pumpkin? No thanks. Secondly, fruit? Even more no thanks!
It's okay, I don't need dessert. But I wanted fudge, so I made some. And this time I made it right! AHHA! I had only used HALF the required amount of chocolate last time! HA!

After setting everything up for my five-mile food dash to the finish line of stuffing our faces, I went upstairs and changed into something presentable and went down and gave my face over to the stylings of Tina. I have to be honest with you... I've never had so much make-up put on my face before... She put THREE layers of stuff on my face! Well, let's back up, you may get lost (especially the guys). First she put on the eye shadow, which was awesome! But, still, a few different colors. Then she started with foundation, this wet stuff applied all over my face with a brush! Then she applied powder all over my face, and then another type of powder. I was a little frightened. Then she said, "and now some bronzer" I was like O_O and THEN the blush! And then eyeliner, mascara and lipstick!
But, surprisingly, I didn't look like a crazy painted lady, it was all subtle (if you can believe that) and I loved the eye shadow! Tina did a good job and I enjoyed looking all done-up. Make-up isn't something I use often, probably once every other month. I like looking natural. But I do like to play around with it from time to time. I don't think it's something that's needed to make someone look beautiful, but I do think it can be a little bit of decoration if used properly :p

Then the eating commenced. Dad read us a cute little poem of thanks. It was so sweet! (and he wrote it himself.) Other than that it was just eating. And eating. And eating. Oh, and my gravy was way too concentrated so I left in the middle to go fix it. BFF called later that evening so that I could open her awesome birthday gifts since she had to work on my bday. She gave me, among other things, an awesome shirt (which I mentioned earlier). It's a man's shirt (yeeeesss), like an old fashioned work shirt some cowboy would wear. And I LOVE IT! Yes, that's just me and BFF for you, buying men's clothes and adoring them. It's so cozy and comfy. She also bought me two movies, one of which I watched that night!

So, on the morning of my birthday I ran downstairs and only the parents and the kids were awake. I had stipulated that I wished to open presents early morning so that we wouldn't be up late (that's how it happens with our bdays, usually,) but everyone was still asleep! That is, everyone except for the awesome moose and elk that came by to say hello! They don't drop by very often so it was a nice surprise. I decided to go back to sleep. And I did, for an hour, until BFF called on her way to work! It was a pleasant surprise, so we got to talk for a little while. Then my mom made me cinnamon waffles. Later I chatted with Wilson buddy for a while before abandoning him to go eat noodles with my brother. But, you see, he bamboozled me into going shopping! (And this is even more weird because it was the brother dragging the sister shopping!!! It's okay, he wanted to get Christmas lights) We went to Sears, JC Penny and Macy's--the last two were my idea. We didn't get anything (okay, he got a few things but I'm not allowed to mention some of them since they are Christmas prezzies). Then we stopped at Michael's just for the heck of it.
And it was a good thing we did! They were having a 12-dollar-deal on canvases! There were packages of 10 small, 7 medium or 5 large. Do you know how good of a deal that is??
So I bought a package of mediums for my painting business. MUAHAHA. So now I have 7 canvases expressly for painting on and selling.

Then we went to Costco and found NOTHING. And then, by a stroke of randomness, I found a down comforter. But it wasn't just any, it was a Pacific Coast down comforter! On sale! For 100.00!
Probably the cheapest one I've found yet. And I like Pacific Coast, they made my awesome pillows.
Alas, I didn't have the money for it at the moment. So, instead, I spent 18 dollars on eyedrops since I was THERE. (Dude, 18 for three at Costco or 14 for two at Walmart, which would you want? Yeah, thought so. Three bucks is a lot.)
Finally we went to Noodle Express and ate our fill of noodles and rice and egg rolls. MMM. Then on to Walmart where I bought an awesome prezzie for BFF. (I know, buying presents for friends on my bday, so thoughtful, yes, I know.)
Then we went home where I found Dad putting in crown molding in my room!!! It was at the top of my list and such a surprise! I was so excited and happy! It's not finished yet, but I can't wait to see it when it is. Ah, such a wonderful gift!
Finally we had my party! I made an Andrea quiz, an add lib letter and we played a game where I gathered random things from my room and people got to stare at them for a while then had to write down what they were from memory. Then came prezzies! My mother bought me an antique picture easel. It's more to showcase art than paint on, there wasn't a smidgen of paint on it. It's so beautiful! I also got books, jewelry, chocolate, a cool bracelet, movies, a notebook and a T-shirt that says, "I like Jesus" with a facebook thumbs up, and a Telly Monster beanie hat thing.
For dinner I made some yummy cheese ravioli and alfredo sauce and spaghetti sauce to go with it. Finally we watched Ramona and Beezus, another movie I got for my bday! It was a good day.

The next morning I found that I HAD had enough money to buy that comforter at Costco. And, well, I had been contemplating a comforter for over a year, now, so why shouldn't I buy it? Why not? EH?? So I went down there in the morning, bought a comforter (and some formula for Tina) and came straight home. Do you know, there were FIVE Canadian license plates at Costco. What on Earth? Did they run out of Costco's up there? Or is our American food just too good to be true? (snark). I came home and everything was good. Until the evening, that is, when I started to feel ill.
It turned out Bethany, Bradley and Dad were all feeling ill as well. The flu revisited! AH!
I was freaked out and praying. And then, well, to spare some details, got violently sick in the middle of the night. I slept in the rec room on the couch. Bethany and I had taken it over, being the two sick girls in the rec room. We watched movies all day. Thankfully the violent part had taken up the night, the next day it was all just lying around feeling ill and tired. Rachelle and family traveled home on that day, too. It was sad to see them go but they may be returning to Christmas so it's okay.

That evening I finally started to pull out of it and, by nearly 1 in the morning, felt right as rain, so I showered and got all cleaned up and snuggled into my little clean un-sick bed.
It turned out that everyone felt better the next morning and so we cleaned up the rec room and bade farewell to sickness once more. And good riddance! Praise the Lord for healing and health. I shan't take it for granted.
Well, I do believe that is all I have to say for now!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Glowing Beacon of Light

Well, after that first snow it all melted off, and then returned with a vengeance!
The other two days have been drenched with snow-filled bliss. Below freezing and an acceptable amount (about five inches in some places it seemed,) I took my cousin sledding for the first time, she had a blast. You should have seen her child-like grin as she slid down a steep hill then said, "I'm moving here for reals." There's something about this place that gets in your blood once you stay here for a prolonged amount of time.
The next day there was more sledding with my niece. She loved it! (Who doesn't?) Then, later that evening, I dragged Nick out to the side of our yard where we have a large hill and we made two different sled runs. He claimed his was better but I liked mine more because it spun you around and was crazy.
My sister flew in last week and I think she brought a flu from the airport. Dad was the one that pointed it out and it seems accurate because none of us go anywhere. Okay, we do, but airports are like the germiest places on Earth.

So the kiddies got sick first, poor things, but then they got better. Then the adults started dropping like flies. When I say adults I really mean big kids. Rachelle, Jeff, Peter. It skipped me and Nick. Yesterday everyone but us and mom and dad were lying around sick as dogs. Nick and I were eating like maniacs because if you're able to eat you ain't sick. So we were constantly eating to prove we weren't going to get sick, I suppose it was a way of walking in our faith not to get sick, I know it was for me. I was trying to go about the day as I normally would. Even still, toward the middle of the day, I started to feel a little drag, and a little twisty in my stomach. But I was like, "nooo!!" And Carah called me and told me to stand firm and not give in to symptoms. That was a good little energy boost. I fled to Wal Mart with Nick to buy provisions and that seemed to help with the energy. I even drank a cheerwine, because I would when I was well, so why not?
It all seemed to work and, in the end, the only credit to give is to God. Thank-you, Father! =)

Now the snow is all melting off.  I have mixed feelings about that. I love snow and want it all the time, but I also love the order of nature, the temperature drops, it snows, it builds, it melts, repeat. I know it will be back-- it's only November after all. When the snow starts to melt it feels refreshing, like you can take a deep breath. It's a tiny hint of Spring, I suppose, to keep you sane. Of course I don't need to be kept sane in Winter, snow is not my enemy as it is to some. Except when I have to drive in it...
But I do love it when the snow falls off the giant pine trees, those glorious evergreens, they're... ever so green!

Anyway, Bethany is flying in tomorrow, so we'll have both sisters for Thanksgiving! And my birthday soon after (you'd like to know when, wouldn't you?) I'm still super bummed BFF will not be present. We just had a movie date. We watched Return to Me, the sacred Buddy BFF movie, we watch it together all the time and if we ever watch it without the other it just doesn't seem the same. It's an awesome movie. Bonnie Hunt directed it, so of course it's awesome.
My wisdom tooth is starting to hurt again, but Buddy prayed for it and I'm going to walk in healing and faith for it to be nice and fine. You know you can do that? God wants us to be healthy and whole, what can man do that God can't? Man can only rip out a tooth, or drill a hole in it and fill it with porcelain or gold or mercury. But God can heal. He's the only one that can heal (aside from some of His self-healing creations which He created). No man can heal anything, they can help the body heal, they can give the body man-made mixtures of God-made things that coax or manipulate the body into healing. But God's stuff is the true stuff, it's organic, whole, honest and clean. No funny business. I have no problem with people going to the dentist, though, and not even the Dr's sometimes. I think it's a matter of the conscience. My conscience says to trust in the Lord. If there is ever a time where I might have to go and get my tooth removed, I'll do it if I have peace in it. But I don't want to walk by sight, but by faith. In my experience, man has always let me down. God has never let me down. So, based on the past, I think I'll stick with God.

Anyway, I got some dark purple paint and painted the bottom half of my purple room, then I put white squiggles all over it. It's almost complete, just about three more feet of wall to go. I don't think I'll ever paint squiggles again--or at least for a year. Not en masse anyway. Okay, no promises.
But I like it!

Here is my glowing beacon of light in my room, it just sits there and glows all the time. Not really, it's just a lamp I bought from Wal Mart. I was so happy I committed to buying it. Sooo happy. I'd had my last lamp since I was, like, 11. It had a red shade and red roses on the stand. It was dated and partly broken. Yep, it was time for a new one.
Anyways, that's it for now.
Have a happy Thanksgiving and feel free to pray for my wisdom tooth if you think to. I'd appreciate it.
Love, love, love.

PS: The weird, pink feet hanging from my ceiling is my puppet I got a million years ago. Just FYI.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Guardians of Evergreen

At nearly 9 o'clock in the morning on Veteran's day, November 11th, 2011, my Grandmother passed away. She was getting pretty bad the night before so we figured it would be happening any time. Tina and I stayed up and read the Bible to her. My mother sang hymns for a while that day, as well.
I'll spare the details on how we figured she was going to go soon, but I can say that it was one of the most heartbreaking experiences of my life; To watch someone slowly lose grip of life, to fade away and, eventually, give over to death. Tina and I didn't want to go to bed. I, for one, didn't feel like sleeping, I didn't want the day to end. We stayed awake and played Star Wars Episode 1 Monopoly. Tina beat me. Good advice: Get the railroads (podracers) and the red properties--you'll smash them.

Finally, it was 4 am and we felt it was time to slumber. I got ready for bed then checked on Grandma one last time. Something I learned from her was that she always said thank-you. Whether it be for me giving her a shower and tucking her in, or giving her something to eat or drink. Something not many people really know about me (but my family notice) is that I don't tend to say, "you're welcome." very often, it's usually a, "uh-huh." or "mm-hmm". I do try to say you're welcome when I think to but the other responses are what usually fly out of my mouth. Anyways, I went to Grandma and said, "you're welcome." Then goodbye and I love you and went to bed at 4:30 in the morning.
About four and a half hours later I heard my dad, downstairs, say, "Grandma's gone."

And, so, that was it. She was gone. I had spent the past few days crying my eyes out over her so when she finally passed it was kind of a calm feeling. Still, all day yesterday I was so dazed I wasn't sure what to do with myself. We've had Grandma in this house for the past four and a half years, and then she was suddenly gone. I kept thinking, "I have to go check on Grandma", "I should feed Grandma", "I need to put Grandma to bed". I'd be in the kitchen and walk past her hall and think, briefly, that there was something that needed to be done with her, be it feeding her, bathing her or putting her to bed, there was almost always something that had to be done with Grandma at any given moment. But, no more. No more Grandma.

Today was a little better, just a little. But you know what made it good? Snow. Snow is one of my most favorite things in the world. Every year it comes, if it doesn't come enough, I'm disappointed; if it leaves too soon, I'm unhappy; If it piles up to the heavens, I'm blissful; If it snows all day long, I am content. Last night I went to bed at 2 am and it was snowing when I did. I woke up at about three inches and then it started snowing this evening. Five inches so far! Words couldn't express my delight. In a small way, it's a comfort to me. It's a little piece of happiness that keeps a smile on my heart.

I stepped outside tonight and watched the frosty snow drift onto the front yard and, beyond, the large pine trees stood tall, covered in snow. I love our pine trees, they are giant, majestic creatures that watch over our home. Guardians of evergreen which will always be there. They are so large and awesome, so very perfect. God's creation surrounds me out here in my piece of the world, it says, "be still and know that I am God." And how awesome a God He is.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You are My Sister

After Grandma's minor stroke, or TIA as they called it, she had another *real* stroke, that wasn't a TIA, and she hasn't really recovered.
She was doing good swallowing food and water afterwards and Mom was waiting over the weekend to call the Dr. again. The Dr. said that she was fine since she could swallow and to call if anything changed. Well, that same morning, we couldn't get Grandma to wake up. Her eyes open, but she doesn't react, as if her body opens her eyes on its own but she's not alert in the least. Seeing her like this really shook me up.
To me water = life. So I was trying to get her to take as much water as possible. She had only had about two or three cups of water over the weekend and that concerned me. Mom called hospice and had a talk with them and they told her that if the body is dying, shutting down, water can do more harm than good. So, in terms of death water = not good.

Mom sat me down and explained it all and that's when it hit home, there was no saving her, Grandma was dying. For some reason I thought that, if I continued to give her water, if I kept sitting her up and getting her to cough so she wouldn't choke in the middle of the night, if I did everything possible, she might live, somehow there would be something we could do and she could come out of it. And here Mom was explaining that Grandma's body was shutting down and giving her water and food only prolonged the process and made it harder on her body. I cracked and started to cry.
This was Grandma, the persistent, cantankerous, stubborn Grandma who got on my nerves all the time! I was just starting to learn how to deal with her many moods. What business did she have in dying? She's only 94 years old. I was certain she was going to live 'til she was 100. At some points I was certain she was going to out-live ME. Death by Grandma had been my main cause of worry sometimes.

Satan has been picking at me like a chicken. He's brainless and cowardly like a chicken, too. I've felt so overwhelmed, ever since Buddy BFF left to her Grandma in the North, I've felt overwhelmed. And it's been hard without BFF there, constantly. She had worries of her own and, sadly, her Grandmother passed away last week so she was dealing with funeral plans and her own grief over losing her own Grandma. I felt like I was a zombie, I ate sugar, I couldn't think, I ate sugar. I can't believe how much sugar I ate last week. But, seriously, I walked around like a zombie. Last night I finally cried it all out and BFF finally called me and talked some sense into me--bless her dear little broken heart.

But the reason behind my post is something I think should be spotlighted. My cousin. Ever since I can really remember I've been the only girl in a house full of boys. My two older sisters moved out young, and when they were living at home (there were patches where they'd come and go) they had jobs and social lives so they weren't seen very often. So, since I was about 13 or 14 I've kind of been at it alone, me against the boys. Yikes. Since Tina moved in, though, it's been different. I have my gal pal right across the hall, always. I've become so close to her in just the two months she's been here I get so sad when I think of her leaving. See, she hasn't been able to get a job, so she's here all day, unless she goes into town for something. And since I don't have an outside job, either, I'm here all day too! So we see each other often, and it's great. She has been a comfort in these days of Grandma's illness. A little pillar of Tina-strength. I went and hugged her last night and sat on her bed and poured out my little thoughts to her and she comforted me and then we laughed a little at Friends on TV then I went about my way.
When we do P90X we laugh and make fun of the workout and have our little inside jokes about each video.
She's become a close friend.

Tonight I was reading the Bible to Grandma. The Word is living and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, so I figure that she can hear it better than anything else. Mom told me, tonight, that she can soak it up and hear what I am saying. That made me feel good. When I was done, Tina was in Mom's room and they were talking about my dear Aunt Susan's passing ten years ago. Aunt Susan was Tina's mother. Tina looked at me and said, "I don't like it when people die." Neither do I.. I walked to her and gave her a hug and she said, "you are my sister."
She is my sister, and I'm so thankful to have her here while we're going through all of this while my other sisters are away in other states.
We got to skip the messy parts of growing up and getting into cat fights and went straight to the awesome life-long bond between cousin-sisters.
Thank-you, God, for my sweet cousin Tina =)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

God is Good. All the Time.

Lot's has been happening.
It all started on Saturday. It was fairly good weather so I went for a run. I love running. Anyways, I got back and was walking up the front walk to see Dad arguing with my Grandma. He wanted her to get some sun since the weather was nice, and she didn't. She was bickering and wanting to go back inside, so I just walked up and took her hand and helped her down the steps. She forgot all about her bickering and walked with me. She walked up to the car and wanted to get in. We stopped and she said, "you don't have the keys?" Taking the obvious hint, I helped her in and buckled her in then took her for a little drive. It was a sweet little drive, she seemed to enjoy it. She started to doze off, a little, too. I thought it was a pleasant moment with my old granny who's usually cantankerous and argumentative. Then, that night, BFF's Grandma (Mother's mother) had a stroke. This was terrifying news. BFF and family were getting ready to travel North to visit Grandma on Sunday. I was praying, mostly in the Spirit. I felt restless and unsettled. I drank three cups of coffee and was wired until 2 o'clock. So I stayed up and watched What About Bob and King Kong. Sunday BFF and family left later than they had hoped and all day my thoughts were on them. I went to go see The Three Musketeers. It was a pretty awesome movie. It drove me crazy that they all didn't have the proper accents. But, oh well.

Sunday night I was becoming anxious for Buddy and her traveling band. It was late and was looking like they wouldn't arrive till about 4 in the morning. Buddy called be around 10 my time, 1 her time, for a little chat which put me at ease. It is hard for me to see/hear Buddy and her family go through this and not be able to be there with her. But I know God can comfort them far more than I can. I was uplifting her all day through texts, sending her Bible verses and encouragement. The Lord was sustaining her through their travels. She was a trooper and drove all the way into the night, arriving at 5 in the morning. Praise the Lord for safety.
Monday she went to see her Grandma in the hospital, I didn't get to talk to her until Monday night. Poor Buddy sounded so worn out and I know that her whole family is going through the same thing. My prayers remain with them in this troubling time.

In the meantime my own Grandma had been having troubles of her own. She had been falling down way more than normal, which results in cuts and bruises since she has extremely fragile skin, it rips easily. Things were getting out of hand, she was hurting herself way too much. We were thinking we might have to get her a wheelchair with restraints, since that's what they would do in a hospital/home. Well, Monday night Grandma had a mild stroke. It was the middle of the night, so I don't think we realized it until morning. Her whole left side was limp. Her left arm was just hanging there. It was so strange and unnerving to see it. Tuesday we decided to take her in to the Dr's office who confirmed that it was a mild stroke and that she should regain use of her arm and leg. Tuesday was also the day my dad got sick. Our business suffers slightly when we aren't all up and running at top peak. So we got Grandma home and we weren't sure what on Earth to do. She couldn't get up on her own, we had to walk her everywhere she went. She couldn't feed herself, we were dumbfounded.

All through this my body has felt drained of energy, I've abandoned my routine, I've scrimped by on chores, Tina and I have barely done P90X. I've been praying almost constantly but I haven't been reading my Bible--though I've been sending Buddy scriptures and encouragement.
I realized, if I don't fill myself up with God, explicitly, I will be doomed. I've been trying to lift Buddy and her family up in prayer and encouragement but have I been taking care of myself? This stuff with Buddy's Grandma, and then my own Grandma, plus stress at work and fatigue, it was all weighing down on me. This morning (Wednesday) I woke up and I said, "enough. Put God first, then everything else will fall into place." I'm going to put myself back into a routine, I'm going to fill myself up with the Word, because without it I'll dry up like a sponge without water. I will not be able to go through these trying times without the Word. How can I be strong for Buddy, for my own family, if I'm weak in the faith? In my weakness, He is made strong.

Buddy said she told her Gran, who's been asleep, that if she wanted to wake up, she could have faith. That got me thinking on my own Gran. I drove her home from the Dr's and I said, "Grandma, it's not too late, you know. You could have faith, you could be healed." I just sat there talking to her like that for a few minutes. I remember I used to read healing verses to her, I used to have her read them out loud, she seemed to like it sometimes. But once I suggested she could read them and she said, "I don't WANT to read them!" So I said, "fine!" I didn't want to push anything on her, but I wish she would have kept with it.
Either way, this is a whole new phase of Grandma. She stays in her chair all day, now, we feed her there, we give her drinks there. We have to pick her up and set her on the toilet when she needs to use the toilet. Only by God's grace will we survive this.
I'd like to mention that, even through all of this, last month we went out with a bang in sales for our company! I was praising God while tallying up the numbers. He's been faithful to our little business throughout the time and I thank Him that He's continued to provide for us.

All in all, I still say that God is good. These are fiery trials, "that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with FIRE, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:" 1 Peter 1:7.
No one said this would be easy. Jesus's burden is light, yes, but that's because we learn to put our burdens on Him. We wouldn't be able to survive any other way. It's hard to make the choice to walk by faith, and not by sight, to run to the tower where we will be safe. But once there, God keeps us in His loving protection. He will never leave us nor forsake us.