Friday, April 29

Holidays and Politics...An Odd Combination!

Easter...Or Do You Prefer Resurrection Sunday?
Hello!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter/Resurrection Sunday last weekend.  Ours was quite nice and relaxing, despite more rain.  We attended our normal Sunday church services, then went home and had a nice dinner comprised of roast turkey breast, stuffing, boiled buttered potatoes, and asparagus.  For dessert, a chocolate pudding pie in a graham cracker crust.  Yum!  Hubby and I did some housework while waiting for the turkey to roast.  I'm still behind from when I was gone for a week.  It was funny, because it was cool and rainy out, and the house smelled like Thanksgiving, and I think it confused my senses a bit!  But overall, a nice day.  A great day, as is any day, to remember the hope that God gave us when He sent His Son to die so that we could live in Him!  May every day be Easter to you who are saved!

Below are photos of the Easter sand sculpture that a local ministry creates every year.  It's an enormous display carved completely from sand and housed under the shelter of the farmer's market area of the fairgrounds.  It takes many people many hours to create it, and it usually remains up for quite a while after Easter.  Click on the pictures to enlarge them!

Politics...No, I Won't Bore You
We were invited to a neighbor's house earlier this week to listen to a mayoral primary candidate speak.  Our town is going to elect a new mayor in the fall, and there are four Republican candidates running in the primary (and oddly enough, no Democratic candidates), so the race is becoming interesting.  We will vote in the primary next week.  I am not extremely political, although I do have strong opinions when it comes to the rules and laws of this city, state, and country.  I do not proclaim to be either Republican or Democrat, nor am I interested in debating the pros and cons of each side.  I simply know what is right or wrong, and most of those views come from Biblical teaching.  Anyway, I have to say that the candidate we heard last night seems like he would be a good leader for the town.  He has quite an impressive private resume, and does not seek higher political office (according to him).  He claims to want to do the job because he is capable, not because he wants to be mayor.  I won't bore you with details, but I thought it was fun and interesting to listen to someone who seems to genuinely care about the future of the community, and I will probably vote for him.  Perhaps someone I vote for will actually make it to office!

I am very ready for our vacation.  That's all I have to say about that.

I am so tired of rain and flooding.  That's all I have to say about that.

I took this picture earlier this week as the sun was coming up.  This is a church behind our house, and the sun was at a perfect angle to shine through the stained glass window.  It was so beautiful and vibrant that I had to take a made me think of just how beautiful everything is that God has created, especially right now as the flowers are blooming and everything is becoming green and lush again.  Everything seems so alive!  God created that, and God loves everything He created, especially us.  Lamentations 3:22-23 says, "Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,  for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."  We do not deserve the love and compassion that God has for us, but He gives it anyway, and He gives it freely, if we want to take it.  I would suggest accepting anything that God gives us--it's always going to be awesome!

Saturday, April 23

A Summation of the Last Two Weeks

Proof that spring is trying to arrive
I know I've been quiet on here for a few weeks.  I've had so much to get caught up on since I got back from Michigan that I just haven't had the time to sit down and write anything out.  So, I thought I'd write up a brief synopsis on what I did in Michigan, things here at home and throw in a few pictures, just to keep those who care updated:

Update On My Dad
My dad is getting better, slowly.  He had help from a few of his family members during the week, but they have returned home.  He seems to be able to manage things on his own though, and I make sure to call him each day in case I might need to arrange for some help for him.  He has a long road to recovery, though.  To read about the week I spent with him at the hospital, see the last half of this entry.

Garden Is Finally Worked (squish, squish!)
I was able last Sunday, during a rare sunny and dry day, to get the garden beds worked and some things planted.  It was a great stress reliever to be outside in the sunshine, working the dirt and making a mess.  I got potatoes, onions and a row of lettuce planted.  I'm still working on the plants I started indoors, too.  If it would just warm up and quit raining every day, I just might get things growing.  My asparagus doesn't seem to be affected by the rain and cool temps, though--it's over a foot tall!  Check out a few pictures of our yard below: (I took these photos with my new camera!)
Same asparagus as in the last post
Yes, that shows 2" of water in the gauge

My new purchases--two mosquito plants (they smell like citronella)

Technically, it's a non-flowering scented geranium plant
Looks like some twitterpated tweets are trying to nest in our back porch light!
A Week At The Hospital
As many people know, I spent last week in the hospital with my dad, keeping him company after having surprise bypass surgery.  It was a long, stressful, emotional week, but he's finally starting to feel a bit better and is not in nearly as much pain as he was right after the surgery.  Most all of the tubes and wires are out now, and there are a few more issues that will be addressed before he will be discharged, but it should be sometime this week.  Thanks to everyone who prayed for him and/or me during this past week.  It was much needed and appreciated.  While this experience didn't yield the spiritual awakening that I'd hoped for in my dad, I think it did scare him quite a bit.  Time will tell whether or not this experience results in lifestyle changes that need to be made.  Below is an overview of each day's activities. 

The heart catheter procedure was done.  My sister and I were surprised at how quickly he was in and out.  We found out that stints were not going to help, and that our dad's arteries were 100% blocked in three of the four that go to the heart.  The fourth had 80-90% blockage.  A bypass surgery was scheduled, and he was admitted into the hospital.  My dad developed a temporary form of Turret's syndrome and would randomly say bad words while the news sunk in.

Bypass surgery was scheduled for 3 pm.  My sister went into work for a few hours and I stayed with my dad.  He found out that they would only be doing one bypass on the artery that pumps 60% of the heart's blood supply, because the other arteries were too damaged to be able to operate on.  We also found out that his heart was extremely weak, barely pumping enough blood through the body.  I was there alone for a while while surgery prep was done, so I made several phone calls.  Eventually, my sister and brother-in-law arrived, and we all passed the time together.  I've never seen my dad as worried and scared as he was right before they anesthetized him.  We spent about four hours playing cards and hangman, reading, and conversing while the operation took place somewhere in the hospital, and our dad came out of the surgery doing very well.  We left around 9 that night.

My sister had to go into work again today, so I went to the ICU to see how things were going.  No one kicked me out, so I stayed until my dad dozed off.  He was in a lot of discomfort (and that's an understatement), so he asked for a lot of pain meds, which made him pretty tired.  I left, met my sister and mom for lunch, and returned to the ICU later in the afternoon. After finishing work, my sister and her husband joined me and we stayed until visiting hours ended.  We went to get some dinner together.

Dad was still in the ICU.  They were trying to move him to a regular room, but they didn't have one yet.  He had improved quite a bit, but was still in a lot of pain and discomfort.  I lost a few brain cells thanks to the Jerry Springer Show, and then we watched The Price is Right.  I think we watched that every morning while I was there.  I left to get lunch and visit my mom at the K of C hall where she volunteered with helping to put together a fish fry that they do every Friday for Lent, then went to get lunch.  When I returned to the hospital, my dad's ICU bed was empty, so I went up to the cardiac floor and found him in his own room, finally.  Several tubes and wires had been removed, and he was a bit more comfortable.  I stayed in the room with him until my sister and brother-in-law stopped in, and we went for dinner.  It was my last night in town, so we met my mom and stepdad for dinner.  I, my sister, and my brother-in-law stopped back at the hospital until visiting hours ended once again, and we all went to our homes.  It was the earliest night I had while I was there.

It was time to go home.  I'd been up there since Sunday evening, and this had turned into a very long week.  I packed my car, said goodbye to my mom, who had been boarding me through the week, filled up the gas tank and headed to the hospital one last time.  I was hoping that my dad would be discharged that day or over the weekend, but I found out while there that he wouldn't be discharged until Monday or Tuesday.  They detected an irregular rhythm in his heartbeat and wanted to schedule another heart cath for Monday to see if a pacemaker/defibrillator would be needed.  That upset my dad.  I stayed there until around 11:30 am, when my dad said that I should go to beat running into some weather that was coming.  I obliged.  It was a long, lonely drive home, with my thoughts constantly turning back to the hospital and my dad.  I was emotionally and physically exhausted, and ready to be home with the one person on whom I depended most for support and comfort, while at the same time feeling guilty for leaving my sister and father.  There was nothing more I could do though, and I knew that my dad would have visitors over the weekend, and would have the help he needed from his sisters and mother when he was discharged.  I had served my purpose.

God was there, with me, the whole week I was up there.  I know that, and I depended on my faith in Christ to get me through.  It was not easy, though, and I felt very isolated the during my stay, as no one else in my family shares my faith.  Twice I tried to approach the subject with my father, and twice I was shot down.  I was also denied by my sister when I asked if she would pray with me.  Easy to feel isolated!  But I know that God was there with me, and He gave me strength to make it through the week. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 is a reminder that weakness when calling upon the Lord is not a bad thing: "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 

Update:  My father was discharged this past Tuesday.  The second heart cath was done the day before discharge and showed no irregular rhythm in the heart beat, and therefore no internal device was placed.  He is slowly improving a little each day.

Saturday, April 16

Asparagus, Peppers, and Cookies, Oh My!


I was able, in the day or two last week without rain, to get the leaves off of the garden beds.  To my surprise, I found my first two asparagus spears peeking out of the dirt!  This picture is from a week ago, and since then, I have several spears popping up, and the spear in the picture is a good 6" tall or more.  I think they were so happy to be uncovered that they couldn't help themselves but reach for the sky.  I guess that if nothing else gets planted this year, I will still have some asparagus to munch on!

I took advantage of a sale on sweet bell peppers at Meijer to stock up for our fajita nights (for my simple fajita recipe, click here).  I found the book in the background on clearance at Lowe's, and I used it to learn how to properly freeze fresh peppers.  I know that you can just throw chopped onions in the freezer and they will keep well, but I didn't know you could do basically the same thing with peppers.  I am finding the book quite helpful, and hope to learn all about preserving so that I will have fresh veggies and fruits all year long!

I like to bake on rainy days.  There's something about the smell of freshly baked goods that just makes the house feel so warm and inviting on a gloomy day!  I really wanted some cookies, so I decided to try a recipe that I found on a friend's blog, Cake Mix Cookies.  It's a super-easy recipe, and boy were they good!  I've added the recipe to The Recipe Swap, feel free to check it out.  I promise, you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, April 7

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

Come Again Another Day!
Mr. Bunny from last summer
Well, I still haven't been able to get my garden soil worked.  The ground is so saturated right now that there's nothing but mud around the garden beds.  It seems like we always get an abundance of rain in the early spring...then everything gradually dries out until the middle and end of the summer season is a drought.  It would be great if I could save up all of this rain and use it when the weather goes into the dry pattern!  Then I would be set, and wouldn't have to haul out the hose at all in the summer.  The rain has certainly greened things up, though.  It's nice to see green grass, hear all of the different varieties of birds singing, and see the buds on the tree branches just waiting to open up.  Spring is a great time of year!  And it leads to summer, another great time of the year!

My New Toy
Stock photo
I finally decided on a camera.  I went with the Nikon Coolpix S8100 (to see specs, click on the link), and I got it for a fair price through the  Best Buy website.  I'm still trying to figure out all of the different features and settings, which is a little tricky because the user's manual is all on CD and not in print form.  So far, the photos I've taken look clear and crisp, but that's just viewing them using the display screen on the back.  I will charge it and take photos with both my old HP digital camera and my new Nikon camera and compare.  Thus far I'm impressed, but I can't really give an opinion yet, since I haven't really used it.

Surgery Rescheduled
Well, my dad's heart cath was moved to this Monday, so I will be heading up to keep my sister company in the hospital waiting room.  Please pray that God would give him a wake-up call and present an opportunity to talk to him about having a relationship with the Lord, because unless my father brings a topic up, it's basically like talking to a very ornery brick wall.  Thanks!

Regardless of what we experience in life--sadness, disappointment, struggles, loss--it's so important to remember that God is in control.  Even the bad situations that we are presented with are used by God to shape us into the people that He wants us to become, in order to do His will.  When things don't go "our way", God is usually trying to get our attention and shape us into something He can use.  When we do things our way, that is usually the time that our situations will get way out of hand.  "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." -Colossians 2:6-7.  Give thanks to God for the life that He has blessed you with!