My hopes for 2011 are…

Sunday, January 02, 2011

My hopes for 2011 are…

I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. I say that to comfort my totally unresolute self in the knowledge that I’ve never actually met any of my New Year’s Resolutions. I think I aim too high. I tend to set unrealistic goals. I’m going to write a trillion words. I’m going to write a trillion poems. I’m going to write a trillion songs. I’m going to write a trillion letters. I’m going to save a trillion dollars. I’m going to lose a trillion pounds. I’m going to stitch a trillion journals. I’m going to drink a trillion less bottles of Mountain Dew. Etc, etc, etc. Let’s just be honest: a trillion is hard to come by.

But hopes are different than resolutions, I think. A resolution is a promise that you make, that you are going to do something differently in your life; but a hope is what you look for, what you anticipate or eagerly look forward to.

And what do I hope for in 2011? I hope to see myself a bit more clearly than I did in 2010. I hope to excel in my new job, where I have been greatly challenged. I hope for God to bring some new situations to pass in my life—whether I understand them or not. I hope to try something totally new, something I’ve never considered trying before (and I’m open to suggestions, as long as you don’t suggest skydiving).

But mostly, I hope that each of you—my nieces and nephews—will feel a sense of wonder at how unique you are; that 2011 will be a year that you always look back on with fondness and excitement at all the wonderful things you saw and experienced; and that you will understand how very loved you are.

All my love,

Aunt Sarah

Journals & Salvation

I have finally done what I have been avoiding for weeks: the destruction of the books that will become journals for my nieces and nephews at Christmastime. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken apart a book. It’s not that difficult, I suppose. It feels difficult when you are working on several at a time! I made it through the first three books without event, but the fourth book was stubborn. Layers of paper stuck to the book board like warts on a toad. And each attempt to remove a snippet of the cover left my fingers raw right under my fingernails.

I was happy to finish all nine books in one afternoon, to be honest. My poor little fingers ached so badly by the time I was done. I think I can handle a lot, but when it comes to my fingers and toes, friends, I’m a baby.

But as I was struggling with that fourth book, the one who wouldn’t let go of its cover, I thought about how often we cling to our past when Christ is trying to free us of it and make us into something new. There are some, I’m sure, who think it sufficient to simply put a new cover on an old book. If you do this, any damage to the book, any scratch or spilled coffee, will reveal what is underneath. It’s not enough to put on new skin; we have to be removed of our old skin.

And this, of course, made me think of my number two favorite character in all of fiction (second only to Elizabeth Bennet), Eustace Clarence Scrubb. Eustace first appears in C.S. Lewis’ book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In this adventure, Eustace is turned into a dragon. He meets with Aslan, who tells him to “undress.” Eustace begins peeling away at his scales, shedding his skin like a snake, so he can rest in the pool in Aslan’s garden. Three times he tries to rid himself of himself, and he is unable to go deep enough. In the end, it is only Aslan who is able to remove the scales and make Eustace a boy again.

That’s what our salvation is like. We have a Savior who knows that we cannot be made new on our own effort, who waits patiently for us to stop trying so He can do the work necessary to redeem us, and who deals gently with us (even as it hurts) as He removes all that we once were.

I’m so thankful that we do not serve a God who is frustrated by the fourth journal, who never complains of the pain He endured to make us new, and who (quite unlike myself) leaves no trace of the old book.

May your day be filled with God’s grace, His love, and the peace of His rest.


Do you have those moments when some life situation allows you to suddenly and clearly understand some other matter you’ve been struggling with? I do.

The moment came last night as I was carefully taking apart a book.

Every one of us has the potential to be remade. Though the pages may be stained with spilled beverages or grape jelly, though several different people may have written their names and ideas on the insides, though the spine may be broken and loose, though we have images and ideas bound onto us, and though we find ourselves on a thrift shop shelf for fractions of our worth, we can be remade.

We can be recreated.

That is good news, folks.

Are there any areas of your life you want to remake into something else? Your health? Your relationships? Your habits?

June is a terrible month for me. It always has been. Maybe it always will be. But today, I find myself determined to at least try…to take it apart and make it something new. So my first attempt is to acknowledge something good about June (just like I acknowledge that a broken, beat up, dirty book has a firm cover that can be used for my journals):

I finished the first draft of my novel on June 3rd.

Comments are re-opened, and I hope to hear from some of you. :)

Pax Domini.


Almost Christmastime

One of my all-time favorite Christmas songs was Almost Christmastime, sung by David Meece. I first heard it on the little white cassette tape that mom bought for us one year. At my former blog, I shared the story of a couple Christmases ago when my mom bought me a copy of this CD. I mention the song today only because I haven’t listened to the CD yet this Christmas. I listened to it some months ago when I was still looking forward to the season, but now that the season is upon us, I haven’t listened to it. I will remedy this today.

Still, with or without the song, it is “almost Christmastime!” I am excited. I’ve been busy preparing for the day, and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it.

I have finally finished felting my oven mitts and trivets. They are spread out to dry on the kitchen table and the coffee table. The trivets are drying very well, but the oven mitts are taking longer. I sure hope they are dry by Thursday! I have to admit, I love the way these have turned out. Even the colors I wasn’t terribly taken with have felted into a nice variegation. I just love how they’ve turned out. I am biased because I love red, but I do think Jesse & Sara’s turned out the best!

I still have to make three journals–for Clayton, for Daniel, and for Joy Forever (Joel & Erin’s baby). I am hoping to work on these today and get them finished. My only dilemma is that the tables are covered with oven mitts!

I’ve been baking, too, which is always fun. I still have pretzels to dip, which I’ve been putting off because of my lack of table space. But I’m hoping to make a dent on that today, as well.

I wanted to write a short little poem to put in the front of each of the kids’ journals. I’m not thrilled with what I’ve come up with, but I think it will do. I didn’t want it to be too heavy or too light, because it needed to be age-appropriate for kids ranging literally from not-born-yet to going-to-college-next-fall. If you have any ideas or think I could do better, let me know. Here’s what I’ve got–short and sweet:

Whatever your dreams,

whatever your fears,

when you are happy

and when you cry tears,

Your life is a gift

and in every season,

the Lord works together

all things for a reason.

So whatever life brings–

whether smile or frown–

remember each moment

and write it all down.

Okay. I’m off to…I don’t know. But I’m off!

Pax Christi!


It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Sometimes, in Winter, after the animals have stopped their midnight games of chasing each other through the house and tangling up all of my yarn, after all the lights are out, after my cassette stops playing, when the night grows very still, I lay in bed and I swear I can hear the snow falling outside. I love Upper Michigan!

I awoke to the sound of my neighbor kids laughing and playing in the snow with their dog. What a pleasant awakening! I couldn’t see out the windows very well because of the snow buildup, but I suspect they were building a snowman, or perhaps an entire snow family–there is certainly enough snow. And I suspect they will be here later in the day to get some sled time in at the Sand Pit behind our house.

Jenn and I may go snowshoeing behind the house today, but it’s hard to say. We still have a blizzard warning in effect until 1Am tomorrow, and out here, visibility can become non-existent without warning even when we’re not experiencing blizzard conditions. But I really want to go! I’ve been waiting to snowshoe all year!

I also wanted to get some photos of the Lake today. She is, very likely, raging in her fury today. We have a coastal flooding alert, too, though; which means that part of the Lakeshore will be closed. I may still brave it for a few minutes if there are pictures to be taken. I now have John, Kristin, and Erin asking for snow photos–John, because he loves snow photos, I guess; Kristin and Erin because they are a bit homesick and want to see the first big storm of the season.

Speaking of snow photos. I may try to do a collection of photos this winter. Every year I take the same photos–trees, the lake; trees, the lake; trees, the lake. Not that this is bad, because I love the trees and the lake in winter! I think I could photograph the trees and the lake and never get weary of them. But I suspect that I should challenge myself. So what if I keep taking the photos of the trees and lake that I so love, but also take photos of, say, every snowman I see? Or snow-covered mailboxes? Or fences? Or cars? Just a thought. It might be nice to change it up a bit and have a goal. :)

In the meanwhile, I’m working hard to get my Christmas gifts done. I’m starting to doubt whether I’ll make it in time! Kristin’s family will be waiting to celebrate Christmas until she is home in January, so I could have waited to finish theirs last…but…I…didn’t know that until after I had already made theirs. Heh. Anyway, my family keeps growing, and I am far poorer than I have been the past several years; so I decided to change the way I do Christmas.

Instead of buying individual gifts for all of my siblings (six), plus their spouses or significant others (five) plus mom (one), plus all their children (eight), I decided to transition to family gifts. Maybe this seems impersonal, but I think it’s a good plan. I always give each of the families a tin of chocolate covered pretzels; last year, I gave them homemade hot chocolate mix, too–the kind mom used to make when we were little. This year, I am going to make a goody basket with the chocolate covered pretzels, some homemade hot chocolate mix, and some homemade caramel corn (another great recipe from our childhood!). And the gift itself–which probably won’t seem very impressive, but remember, I come from a family of bakers and chefs (Pillsburys, to be sure!)–is a set of oven mitts and trivets. Oh, I can see you all dying of boredom already. Hehe. It’s not a fancy or fun gift, but it’s a practical gift, and I like them. I’m knitting them super-huge with wool yarn, and then I am felting them. They are actually superbly cool, for being such an impersonal gift. At any rate, I think my siblings will like them.

In addition to the one-family-gift rule, I’ve decided that I need to be encouraging my nieces and nephews to write more. Not that I don’t TELL them to write–because I do, but that I need to facilitate writing for them. So each year, the nieces and nephews will also receive a journal from me. This year, as you know if you read my blog, I am attempting the blue jean journals. I’m really excited about this, in spite of the fact that I’m not nearly as creative as I thought I was. I’ve got three almost finished, and will be working on the other five this week. Hopefully I’ll have them done by next week…maybe? We’ll see!

Joel and Erin are pregnant, which poses the big question. I know the lil one won’t be able to write in her own journal for a few years; but perhaps I should still make one, starting this year. Her mom and dad might write in this year’s journal about the pregnancy and their anticipation of her arrival. I’m not decided on this yet. I don’t know if Joel and Erin would even want to do that.

Anyway, I’m excited. I have to finish knitting the oven mitts for Jesse and Sara, and for Mom, and then it’s Felt Time! I’m soooooo excited. And yes, I realize how geeky it is to be excited about felting a knitting project. All I can say is…I’m proud of my geekiness. :D And, I’m excited about the journals, because I have a GREAT idea for the Hannah journal. I think. ;) The thing about it is, it’s hard to know how great the idea is until you’ve tried it and either succeeded or not. I bombed two attempts last night. Hopefully, the Hannah idea will work.

Speaking of which, I suppose I’ll go make a sandwich and get cracking on that journal! Christmas is only two weeks away!

Pax Christi, everyone! Enjoy the snow!


Blue Jeans for Jenny

You forced my hand. I have to blog about it now.

Anyway, I’m not trying to be funny with all that “it is, but it’s not” stuff. I just didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag. :P

I learned this year how to make fabric-covered journals, which–I know–sounds kind of dorky. It’s actually cool as snot. But since I’m a journal freak, and I’m always telling my nieces and nephews to “write, write, write, write, write it down”, I decided I would make them each a blue-jean journal for Christmas.

Needless to say, the “tear holes in them” idea is probably not going to work.*

I have eight journals to make, for four girls and four boys. The girls’ are going to be easier, I think, because there’s a lot of pretty things you can do with jeans–painting and sequins, as you mentioned, also embroidery, etc. But what about the boys’? Even the two younger boys’ journals won’t be difficult, I don’t think–they have younger, more natural interests still, you know–ships, trees, et cet. But the older boys? Uhm…I’m at a loss.

My goals are:

  • to use a belt buckle
  • to use different colored jeans
  • to stitch, paint, or design somehow each child’s name and the year on the cover
  • to use a butt pocket
  • to have some sort of lock/closure on each journal

Any ideas? I’d love some creative thoughts on this.

Pax Christi.


*I’m rethinking the holes. I might could make it happen…if I put another piece of material under the hole. The glue should be enough to keep the hole from fraying . Hmmmmmm. I think I might add this as a goal.

So…I know I already blogged once today, but I have the urge to write. I just want to share the random thoughts, questions, situations going on in my life as of today, October 27th, 2009.

I was up until 5 o’clock this morning. Why, you ask? Why would someone sit up until 5A.M.? I was reading, of course. In the process of cleaning my room, I found a box with a stinkload of stories ideas and attempts from my younger years. At about 1:30 this morning, I sat up in bed, having remembered vaguely a storyline involving a large frog stuffed animal. So I turned on my music and my light and began reading through stacks of papers to find this frog story. Coincidentally, I didn’t find it.

What I did find, which I had forgotten entirely about, was a series of stories I had been writing my freshman and sophomore years in high school. It was such a trip reading some of it! I remember that I used to sit up at night after everyone had gone to bed, and I would type at the very cool new computer my brother had bought for the family until I couldn’t stay awake any longer! I had saved the files to a floppy disc (woah…whoever thought the phrase “floppy disc” would date you?!) because I didn’t want to lose the story, you know? Unfortunately, I lost the story, anyway. I don’t remember how. I had printed a good portion of what I’d written at that time, but in the course of moving and editing and just being as unorganized as I am, I apparently lost more than I saved of the stories. The first story (I believe there were three complete; and I had started the fourth and had ideas for the fifth) is preserved in all its glorious completeness. Not a page is out of order! One story has about twenty typed pages to start, and another ten at the end, but everything in the middle is gone. AGH! I don’t remember much of the plot, but I do recall that I killed off one of my best characters! I’m so disappointed that this didn’t survive my youth. Anyway, for several years after I’d written these stories initially, I was rewriting and revising, and so I had a couple of pages of notes about who each character was and how they were related to other characters, etc. That’ll be a nice little companion if I ever decide to rewrite this series.

Another gem that I stumbled upon last night was the original copy of the Toilet Paper story that I wrote for Toge. That’s right–the Toilet Paper story. I believe the T.P. story itself is in the box of letters between Jenny & I, but I couldn’t say for certain. I haven’t seen it in years. But yes, I worked out all the kinks to this story, and wrote the final draft on a roll of toilet paper for Jenny. I had actually forgotten about it until Jenny mentioned it to me recently. I laughed pretty hard when I read it. I surprised myself at the ending!

Ahem. At any rate, I wanted to show you my writing space. I cleaned in preparation for NaNoWriMo so I would have a sane, inspiring place to write. And this is what I came up with:

My Writing Space

So here’s what we’ve got:

  1. The old, comfortable, pink chair that my sister Maggie wants to steal from me because it has a flat bottom and–she claims–it is perfect for playing cello. We’ve had this chair as long as I can recall. It’s really a piece of junk.
  2. My current musings and ideas regarding NaNoWriMo.
  3. My tweb blogs, printed and saved in three-ring binders. I am such a dork, I know. I don’t think I even have them all printed. I’d better double-check that.
  4. The material on “the big novel” I’ve been working on since December 2006. Also, in the white binder, are snippets from Diggity’s story, which will put my story to shame…or it would–if he would finish writing it… :D
  5. Journals, journals, journals. And that’s not even a fraction of them–that’s just the current journals.
  6. A couple of my childhood photos. The teeny-tiny one is my senior photo. The one on the right with all the hair…is how I look now. Just kidding. Kinda.
  7. My Compassion boy, Joseph! He is truly an inspiration to me. He chases chickens.
  8. Music, of course.
  9. Sweat Pea body butter. Nothing screams “writer’s block” like cracked, dry skin!
  10. Hrm. I’m not sure why there were hand knitted socks on my desk. But there they are. Hand knitted socks on my desk. Hm.

So…I can’t tell you how excited I am to have a well-functioning writing space. Now…if only I could get my desk to write my NaNoWriMo novel for me…

In other news, it is Autumn. The colors this year have already piqued, and we are in that down slope, where everything turns a rotten brown or yellow color. Today, the leaves were just falling from the trees like rain. It was gorgeous. Snow is on the way.

I have a smudge on my camera lens. I’m really annoyed by it. Anybody know how to safely clean a camera lens?

John sent me the rest of the Martin books. He is such a great guy. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to really “get into” the other book he had sent to me–Dean Koontz’s From the Corner of His Eye. I know it must be a phenomenal book, but there’s been so much going on in my life that I just haven’t had the energy to commit to reading it. And yes, reading does take a lot of energy for me. So today, the Martin books came in the mail and I suddenly had an appetite to read. Amazing how that happened. So I picked up the next book, intending to read only the prologue–after all, that’s not technically part of the book, is it? I thought that if I read the prologue, it would motivate me to finish the Koontz book so I could return to the Martin series. Woopsies. I looked up to realize…I’d read far more than the prologue. So. What now? I did promise John that I would finish the Koontz book, and I want to! I just…am so enraptured with the Martin story and I desperately want to know what happens next.

It just occurred to me…that I could be reading instead of blogging. Hmmm.

Adieu, my friends.

Pax Christi.