A Quick Note...

It was brought to my attention yesterday evening that sometimes the ads showing up here on the blog were questionable.  Fortunately Iris had taken a screen shot and could show me just what she meant.  I too found it objectionable.

I want to apologize to any of you who might have seen such ads.  I am not able to see the ads when I'm signed into my account, which is about all the time.  I can't click on any ads with my computer because of the user agreement I have with AdSense.

I would like very much to receive some sort of earnings from the ads, so I won't be cutting them out.  I put a lot of my time into this work and I would like to see some sort of monetary return on it.  That said, until Iris brought it to my attention I was unaware that this sort of thing was showing up on this blog.  I very much believed that the ads reflected content and there was NOTHING in any post to suggest that the content would generate such an ad.

I was able to refine the settings and hopefully this will work to discontinue any such ads showing up.  However, I am going to enlist your aid.  If you see an ad that contains nudity or is suggestive would you please jot down the URL and message it to me?  I can then block that particular seller's ads and prevent further problems and embarrassment.

Thank you ahead of time for helping me in this.

Iced Tea Chat - Eclipse

Hello dears.  Come in and have a glass of tea with me, won't you?  I'd offer to sit outdoors but, sugar, it is like a steam sauna.  I'm not a fan of sauna and cannot imagine ever willingly entering one.  I think it's quite enough to experience the Georgia summers!

So much on my mind and heart these days.  I'd meant to take time out to sort out my head and then was thrown a complete horseshoe curve with Jason's death.  That opened another whole set of thoughts.   My head feels crammed full of unopened mail, all just stuffed in and crumpled and too tight to fit another thing.

This morning, I gave myself a rare treat after I'd completed my Swagbucks for the morning.
I went over to YouTube and plugged into bluegrass artist, Sierra Hull.   I'm fairly new to bluegrass music and I find some of it...okay MOST of it...irritatingly repetitive, but I'd heard "Black River" on a program John and I were watching the other night and was won over by the plaintive quality of the song.  It has an underlying quietness.  It didn't jar upon my nerves, which admittedly, seem to be stretched taut.  I watched a full hour of videos this morning during the last of the 'free' data hours for the night.  I was even more won over than before and went to Amazon to put her latest album in my cart.  Music soothes the soul...

This is one of the things I'd begun to sort out last week.  I need more music in my life, my sort of music which admittedly is a very wide range of genres.   This morning, "Black River" was what I needed to hear and so I began there and then just scrolled through the list to find other songs by this young woman and let the music wash through me.  It was an hour well spent.

John is at work today.  That's why the house is so quiet. I love my husband dearly and he is learning to appreciate quiet about him a little more often but mostly he is driven to make noise.  I confess that this week his desire for noise to drown out his thoughts made my mind an eddy that wouldn't stop spinning even at late night.   TV, videos on computer, white noise, fans...I really did seriously consider leaving a few times just to find quiet space.  Fortunately he went out to mow and I shut down every single thing I could and despite the mower roaring outside the walls of the house, it was quiet.  Quiet as a home seemingly can ever be, what with motors running on appliances and with fans going and such.  A compromised quiet that was very necessary to my own screeching head.

I'd been looking online at various things, Pinterest and blogs.  I am not 21 or 31.  I am no longer even 51.  I know myself well enough and who I am.  I'm not lost and seeking identity.  I am, however, wandering, unable to find my path.  So I looked at a lot of motivational stuff, yes, even at those posts geared to identity and it helped me to begin.  I was able to tug and pull a few things from that head of mind.  I need to read every day and I need music of my own sort and  I need quiet for a small space of every day at the very least.   I need to have a hard stop/start point to my day and a point after which there is no computer.  Otherwise I will work from sunrise until bedtime without ceasing.  Constantly writing posts, pulling pins that I think will promote some area or other of my life, answering emails.   I need to write everyday, at the very least to make a journal post.  I need to make out a morning page of thoughts to do a brain dump  so that I can FOCUS more on what is important and needed and less upon the butterfly passing thoughts I'm wont to chase about when I don't.   I need to stop wasting so much time on the computer.  I've become more and more stuck with it.  So that I don't just do my work but I check facebook multiples of times a day, check emails multiples of times, or waste my time looking at things that have absolutely no meaning or impact upon my life.  I need to laugh daily.  I can be mighty damned somber and solemn and almost  stern of face.  Especially if I'm dwelling on things.  I need to devote a little time to a bedtime routine and I need to disconnect for a good two hours before I go to bed, from the phone, from the computer, sometimes, from people.

So I sorted out all that.  I'm on my way to something here, but still not sure where the path is leading.

And then I got overwhelmed by things.  You know.  THINGS.  Not the things that populate my home and take up visual space but the things of other people that were set about my heart and mind.

A young pastor I feel connected to  has gone through some awful something.  How do I know it's awful?  Because earlier this year, as I sat sewing, I felt such a sense of danger surrounding him spiritually and so impressed to contact him to warn him of danger that I did so.  I felt very strongly that I was to pray harder than ever for him and I had.  Things had seemingly gone as per usual with him.  He was preaching and taking breaks with his family and then there were no posts, but I figured it was Facebook's vagaries of determining whose posts I'd see and whose I shouldn't.  Then this week I saw a post...

I don't know what happened but he's had a complete life change of some sort.  He's no longer preaching in his own church.  He's moved and taken a job outside of church.  He's wounded.  I don't know what happened.   Human though I am and as driven by nosiness disguised as curiosity as most folks can be, God equally impressed me that what he's going through is NOT my business.  My business is to keep praying for him.  I contacted him and let him know that he continued upon my prayer list and would remain there.  He thanked me.   John and I listened to a streaming video of a sermon he preached at the church he now attends.  It was powerful and moving. 

John contacted him during the week to ask what his plans are for the future, if he'll be starting another church, or a study group.  We saw in another post that he'd taken a sales job with a company a friend of his owns.  And his reply to John, left us stunned.  He says he's done, finished, through, with pastoring.

I expect that he's mighty hurt and mighty tired.  He has pushed hard these few years we've known him, pulling failing churches up by their bootstraps and setting them on the path to renewal.  Not an easy task, especially when you have people within said failing church who will gladly watch it sink and even heartily knock away helping hands to pull it back to sinking position if only, oh if only!, you'd just not change a thing from how it used to be.  I've never understood why we're happy to live with corpses rather than bury them and move on into the next stage of our lives.  But we are and it seems most prevalent in churches.  I am sure he needs a sabbatical from that sort of burden.  No man can bear up forever under the same strains day in and day out.  He  does comes to a breaking point, especially when he's the sort who is Type A driven.

And I suspect he's discovered he's weak in some place that he hadn't thought he was...Or life tossed one of those hard balls that hit him smack in the face.  I've been in places in my life where I was shocked to discover my own failings and weaknesses in places where I'd NEVER have doubted myself.  Those sorts of fault findings within are harder to bear than the places where we KNOW we're cracked and must keep watch.  I've been smacked with a hard ball I hadn't seen coming nor suspected, too and I  know the damage it can do.  It takes time to make that lump on a bone go away, to heal the bruising that reminds you daily of the hurt, to not start at every fly that gently buzzes past the ear.

I ruminated and worried and thought and preached to this young man in my head all week long and then Saturday evening  it came to me all over again that I was called to do nothing but PRAY.   I'm not called to fix, nor to teach, nor to preach to, nor guide.  I'll warrant you that those people are surrounding him by the score.  And yes, those who are all too willing to stand next to him and tell him what a failure he is and what he can't be ever again. 

I'm called to pray for him.  God doesn't need me to do anything more but he does need me to do what He's asked me to do. That's my purpose and my calling.  So I lay down the burden of what I thought I ought to say and do and returned to prayer.

On Friday about lunchtime, we had news of Jason's suicide. Yes, he took his own life.  Why?  We never know in instances like his.  We can know the things going on in a life, and perhaps something of the heart, but we can't know the mind.  I know this because I've dealt with suicide four times and a family member's suicide attempt once, in the last 20 years.  It's always shocking. 

Of the four suicide deaths only one was the work of a mind that wished to manipulate others in a selfish sort of way. That had been the whole life of this person, to manipulate others.   The other three deaths were black despair that simply couldn't see beyond the moment, couldn't find hope anywhere.  I know this, too, because I know the sorts of people they all four were.    I know depression and the gravity of it's lies first hand.  I know the moments I've faced in my own life when I truly didn't see how the next moment could possibly be a bit different and I've known the next moment that wasn't any different, wasn't any less hard or less painful.  There are moments now, when those old thoughts threaten to creep back inside my head, when the fight or flight syndrome has kicked into hyper-overdrive and everything within my mind screamed "Die!  Just die!" 

Yes, I'm serious.  I've learned to be strong.  I've learned to grab hard at any little root or rock and hang on for dear life.  Dear, dear life.  Satan used this lie against me for years and years and he still will try to use it for his purpose at odd moments when I'm tired and emotionally wrung out and have been left empty save the pain.  That's when the blues creep in, not the navy blues but the cloudy sky blues.  Over seemingly silly things.  In a life that is 97% happy, satan will still use his lies.  How much more so in a life where hurt and despair has eclipsed the good, blotting out the sun of hope?  Ad who knows how long the despair had been in the head, never spoken of, never acknowledged out loud to another? 

I was depressed for 25 long years.  I never spoke of it.  Occasionally I knew I needed help and sought it but it didn't abate with medication and it didn't leave me.  And then one day it was gone.  I say it came when I fell on my knees, my painful aching knees, and opened my heart to Christ.  But that doesn't explain the millions of depressed Christians who have Christ does it?  We can say a thousand times over that you can't be saved and be depressed, but you can, yes, you can and we're wrong to a woman and man of us to claim that to the ones who are depressed because we're doing nothing but impressing those poor tortured souls further with what they see as a personal failing.

In my case, for me, the opening of my heart to Christ created an avalanche of things flowing OUT of me that had been packed in and hoarded.  I began to heal in a thousand ways as the pressure of infections was released.  It was a process that took years, is still taking time.

I don't think every Christian understands.  I think it's not knowing HOW to release things that keeps them hurt.  Not knowing how important forgiving is to your own personal health is in it, too. There's this mistaken notion that if we forgive someone we're absolving them from the hideous damage they've caused, but it's not true.  It's saying, "I care enough about me to release this burden and you can rot for all I care but I'm going to move on.  I refuse to sit here with the cancer that is you eating me alive.  I'm cutting you out.  I will forget this and let it go because it's doing me nothing but harm."   That's what forgiveness is.  And it does open us up because it leaves an empty place behind that allows things buried underneath to come up and out and eventually it's a healthy, healed heart.  That's what happened to me.

Had anyone at all said to me, "You know depression runs in this family..."  Well someone might just have thought to run a test or three and figure out the chemical or hormonal imbalance that seems to be in the family lines, but no one ever did.  No, I heard instead, "Just think how much better off you are than others..."  "But what will people think if you are on anti-depressants?"  "If your employer knows you're seeking counseling they might determine you're unreliable and let you go."  "Psychologists are just into psychology because they have so much wrong with themselves."  "You need to just lighten up..."

It's no good saying those things to a depressed person.   If it's all you've got to say then shut up.  Just SHUT UP.   I could see my situation was better than another's.  I could see that some of the counselors who dealt with me were broken and needed mending as badly as I did.  Heck I ran away from at least two who were painfully broken and found others who weren't so damaged they required co-dependency with me to function.   I could SEE all of that,  but I couldn't lift that damned heaviness off my heart and mind, I couldn't shove back that darkness, not even with a prescribed pill.  Or self prescribed alcohol. Or with affairs.  Or food... Or the many myriad other ways I tried to cope that were harmful and physically hurtful and risky.  Because NOTHING matched the agony that was within me enough to mask my pain or confuse it.  That's what I know from the inside of living depressed.

But having come out of my depression, having come to this side of living instead of wishing to die daily, I can tell you sincerely that the thought  still comes at the odd moment of despair, when the pain I feel emotionally is too much to breathe through and I'll hear that random old tape playing softly in the background, "So just die..."  I choose to survive.  To go on.  Stubbornly.

The first reaction following shock and grief after a suicide is anger.  The "WHY?!"  that is cried out by those who survive isn't a result of being hurt, it's anger, pure anger.  Why didn't you seek help?  Why didn't you think I was worth staying about for?  Why couldn't you just work it out?  Why did you leave me behind?   Why didn't you talk to someone, any one, even me? Why couldn't you see how many many people loved you?

Compassion will  eventually get you  to the point of forgiveness,  but forgiveness doesn't answer the why.  Compassion will acknowledge that there were hard things going on. Compassion is fine and well, but empathy is knowing and understanding and it makes forgiveness a little easier for those who don't make it through.     Empathy knows it's not about wanting to create a hardship for others, nor is it pushing blame onto anyone else.  It's all about wanting to shut off that deep seated never ending pain.  It's the fear of the blackness that never ends.    But not everyone has empathy.  Not everyone has been there in that darkness.

As I get older, I hurt more for people, especially young people. I hurt to see young folks who married going through divorce.  I hurt for parents who must watch a child suffer through cancer or accidents that are unimaginable.  I hurt for the millions of broken dreams that are glass under our feet every single day of living.  I hurt because the young can't see that nearly all trouble is but for a season.  Sometimes the season is long but eventually every season changes.   I hurt because people are broken and can't find a way to heal.  I hurt because hard choices have to made.  I hurt because sometimes there is no good choice.   I hurt because life is hard, even when it's sweet, it's hard.  HARD.  Harsh and uncompromising and demanding.  It just is.  I hurt because I know this.  I want to share with them that I know this things, but I also know that there are things ahead worth seeing, beauty worth being around to experience, things to wonder at  that will leave them in awe.   I've learned that in the very midst of darkness a single light pierces sharp and bright for a moment and it's worth remembering, worth hoping it will come again.  Because it DOES.  Sometimes it's after months and years of dark days and long, long nights that never end but it does come again.  At some point the light comes and stays.  It breaks through and it doesn't leave.

I hurt to the point of barely knowing how I can stand more, through the point of hearing "Die!" to coming out the other side once more.  And it's worth it!  It's worth it...It's worth it.  That's what I want to share.  And I do at times, but if you're in the midst of that very dark black spot you don't believe it.  That's the frustrating thing.

Well.  Enough.  Let us sit in the light here in the kitchen windows and look out over the lovely, lush green lawn.  Let us see the blue skies and watch the rabbits creep along nibbling on the grass.  We might even step outside into that deep thick heat and listen for a moment to the song of bird and cicada and crickets and note the way the leaves are starting to change on the trees.  See that read on the turkey foot oak?  See the yellow in the persimmon?  The starting tinge of yellow on the Gingko?  Not lack of rain this year, not drought but a changing season ahead.   The season is about to change...Oh what sweet words those are!  Seasons of the year and seasons of the spirit and seasons of life, they do keep right on being regular and changing.

Isn't that the most wonderful truth of all?

In My Home This Week: We Go On

In my home this week:

...Sometimes the hardest thing is to go on.  We had a tragic loss in our family last week.  My niece's husband died.  He turned 26 the same day and leaves a 3 and 4 year old daughter.  The disbelief melted into shock, the shock into grief for such a young life lost and as the weekend went on, acceptance slowly sank in.  This morning, I woke with gratitude that I'd been allowed to be a tiny part of a brief life.  It will be a longer time before his mother and dad, his brother and sister in law, his wife and family, can come to that place.  

I don't normally share this sort of thing but if you're on Facebook there is a Go Fund Me set up for Ashley and the girls.  This I is a young mom and the family had no insurance for final expenses, nothing set aside for the future.  Katie set up the fund to benefit the little girls really and I would so appreciate it if you'd contribute to it.  Just message me on Facebook (Terri Cheney) and I'll send you the information link, if you'd like to contribute. 

It was a sober weekend on the one hand, as you might well imagine and on the other, we had a quick trip to see Josh and Isaac which was good medicine for us, especially when Josh's face lit up all over and he said "Gramma!  You DID come back!"   To see Taylor last weekend and the two boys this weekend did me a world of good.

This week pretty much looks like any other week in my home.  Because heartache or no, life continues.  Bills must be paid, meals must be cooked, work must be done.  We go on a little emptier, a little more weary, grateful for the having, sadder for the missing.

...I plan work:
As of this morning, John trimmed those branches there that poke up.  They were higher up on the tree than it looks but I pleaded esthetics and so he trimmed them closer to the tree.

I've worked on bills already, taking a free day last week to get that task out of the way while I was uninterrupted.  I will run errands and get groceries.

If the rain holds off...I shall try to finish the one flower bed that I'd started weeding as I waited to get mulch.  I know Maddie has been using the holes to keep cool.  The trouble is she has about nine different holes about the yard and I have to reclaim the abandoned ones.  Lots of work and it shall be early morning work because the days are HOT, as they ought to be for August.

I have finally made out a list of things I need to purchase.  The list is longer than my funds to purchase but I will get the real necessities and I think I can swing frames for the artwork above my desk.  The rest can wait another couple of weeks or so.

I am trying to plan my fall wardrobe.  Naturally the bulk of what I have IS my fall wardrobe but I'd like to add a nice blazer and I'm planning to look for one hard.  I never find blazers or jackets that fit me top and bottom.  I'm perfectly willing to plan to alter a blazer if I find anything that suits me. This week I will begin to look for one.  It will be a process.  I don't mean to buy the first thing I find but to try on and try on and try on.

I have promised myself a cake this week.  I am intrigued by Annabel's Armenian Nutmeg Cake and I think that is the one I want to prepare.  I'd also like to put a couple of batches of cookie dough in the freezer and possibly make a couple of pound cakes which are always nice to have in the freezer, too.

Finish a book that I need to review.

The usual routine cleaning and meals and such.  That part never ends.

...I plan meals:

Beef Fajitas, Yellow Rice, Refried Beans, Salad

Cubed Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli and the BEST chocolate cake 
This is the meal Sam made for us on Sunday.  The cake was a store bought grocery bakery cake and it truly was awesome.

Roast Chicken, Dressing, Green Beans, Cranberry Sauce

on my own x2

Club Sandwiches, Tomato Soup

Planned meal out

...I plan leisure

I am being leisurely really, not pushing myself too hard and not expecting a whole lot extra of myself so I'm not planning leisure this week per se.  I did start and finish a book last week and spend quite a bit of time with my journal jotting down thoughts which was enlightening as it usually is for me.  I plan to put in a mix of work and leisure this week, too.  I am trying to be balanced...

All that said, here we are mid-August as of this week and I'm seeing signs of a changing season outdoors.  Leaves starting to change on trees, more and more golden rod standing tall and more of it blooming, a sudden growth and soaring of the grasses we see most in autumn.    These despite the steamy sauna outdoors.  It's nice to know that there is a new season just ahead, and not so terribly far off as it seemed.

Living Frugally and Well: Rainy Day Savings

Saturday:  Katie texted that she'd be down to visit today and I wracked my brain trying to decide what to have for dinner.  I took some things from the deep freeze last night.  I finally decided on a new to us recipe and sending the frozen Pineapple Sweet Chili Chicken home with her for her supper.

My dinner was from Pinterest and now I can't find the recipe anywhere.  It was breaded chicken breasts that were pan fried and then a lemon and cream sauce was made and served over pasta.  It was pretty good!  The chicken breasts were thick  heavy things, so I filleted them and set some aside for later in the week.  We just didn't need that much meat...Though after watching Taylor reach over and take her mom's I might have served that little eater a bit more.

Made up a big bowl of salad and put toppings in smaller covered bowls.  We should be good for a couple or three salads.  I took a hint from Rhonda at If You Do Stuff with making the salad and toppings ahead.  I have found I will eat a salad when I'm on my own if the lettuce and toppings are all ready in the fridge.

August: Slowing Down for a Bit

I may slow down with posts for a little while.  I am just not bouncing back after I get tired these days and I am sure it's a combination of being busy in home, busy with family and the new schedule.  I hate to admit that it's knocked me for a loop this getting up twice a week early but combined with poor sleep, it's just hard and that's truth.   I find the older I get the less able to sleep I am especially if I know that an alarm is going to sound off.  As well, the lack of proper time alone to restore has been of consequence.  I am grasping at family times as often as I can because I know this is a very short season.  After all, I have three children starting school this year and two starting school next year.  Childhood is a fleeting time anyway, and when it comes to grandchildren it seems to go four times as fast.

In My Home This Week: Wet Dog Days

In my home this week:
...I have finally gotten near the finish line for July goals.  I haven't forgotten all about August, though.  I did make some headway on the next area of the yard this past week, since I hadn't materials to finish off the Faith tree bed.  What is my next area?  It's two areas actually. 

One is the long bed in front of the back porch.  Maddie dug quite a deep hole at one end which is filling with rain water like nobody's business. It's muddy and mucky and some of the bordering rocks and iris that were there fell into the hole.  I noted last week that weeds were taking over that bed rapidly.  I didn't put down a thick layer of mulch last year.  I got all of the weeds up and next I plan to plant the iris I took up from the Faith tree bed at one end.  This will mirror the opposite end of the bed.  

Living Frugally and Well:

Saturday:  Bess brought in a bag of peaches the other evening when she returned which she wanted to share with us.  This morning they were nicely ripe for eating. I made peach pancakes for breakfast.  That is a summertime treat for us.

Bess and boys left later than planned.  I had never done anything about dinner yesterday and didn't feel at all up to going into town to purchase food.  John was too tired, as well.  Fortunately I had those pre-formed burgers in the freezer which thawed quickly.  I cooked German potatoes to go with the burgers.  It was simple and easy and required little clearing up.

Both beds got stripped and linens were washed.  We used the dryer today.  We had a crazy weather day with lots of heavy rain, then sun, then more rain and more sun and heat and then more rain.  It was less stressful to use the dryer!

Closed curtains on the sunny side of the house to keep heat outdoors as much as possible.

A Quick Note...

It was brought to my attention yesterday evening that sometimes the ads showing up here on the blog were questionable.  Fortunately Iris had...