Thursday, August 28, 2014

Grace at Home No. 119


Hello, friends, and welcome to the weekly Grace at Home party!  We are all recipients of God's grace, and it's our privilege to reflect that grace in our homes.  That's what we celebrate here each week.

Here are some links that caught my eye last week:

Sarah at Backwoods Babies created this lovely chest from an old Lane hope chest, and she gives step-by-step instructions for how she made it.


Brooke at Artistic Endeavors 101 shares a tutorial for making beautiful paper tags.  I'm going to make a batch of these!


If you're eager for Fall to arrive, you'll enjoy looking at these Fall table settings from Fabby at Fabby's Living.  She's the queen of tablescapes!


Ever wonder what to do with leftover chicken?  Nicki from T-shirt and Jeans shares a recipe for BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad that looks delicious.


Karmen from Chairs from the Curb shares the way God spoke to her about having enough and having plenty.  You'll enjoy her post "Ga Leor and Galore."


Renee from Doorkeeper shares fives Bible verses for when you feel overwhelmed.  This is so helpful!

These are just a few of my favorites.  Thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button (the code is right over in my sidebar).  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


 
Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!




Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Unmentionables


I've been mostly out of commission the last couple of days, but it's been for a very important reason, and I'd like to talk to you about it.

I had my first colonoscopy.

My husband snapped this photo as I was having my IV removed following my colonoscopy.
My policy toward IV's is simple: always look away.
I turned 50 last year, so my physician recommended a screening colonoscopy.  If you're 50 or older, I know your physician has recommended one to you, too.  Have you had one?

When I was a little girl, people would never have talked about "private" matters.  For instance, no one said a lady was "pregnant"; she was "expecting a baby."  I can't remember ever hearing the word "breast" uttered. When I grew up and entered the workforce, I found that my colleagues would never say that they were going to the restroom; they'd say "I need to run down the hall for a moment."

To be honest, every now and then I miss some things about that scrupulously polite society.  But there's one thing I'm really glad about.  I'm grateful that we can now discuss what's good for our health, even if the topic of discussion involves private parts of our bodies.

I'm grateful that breast cancer awareness has skyrocketed and women are encouraged to have mammograms.  I'm grateful that women are getting regular Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer.  And I'm really grateful that there's a method to screen for colon cancer.

The topic of colon cancer hits close to home for me.  My mother died very young--she was just 58 and my dad was 59 at the time of her death.  God provided my father with a second wife, a wonderful woman whose husband had died.  Theirs was a match made in heaven--but then she developed colon cancer that wasn't diagnosed until it was already Stage IV.  Losing my lovely stepmother and watching my father go through the death of his wife a second time was excruciating.

So although colon cancer doesn't run in my family, awareness of it certainly does.  And yesterday I took the simple step of getting a colonoscopy to screen for any issues.

I'll be completely truthful: preparing for a colonoscopy isn't fun.  No two ways about it--completely flushing out your intestines isn't a pretty process.  But I realize now that it isn't that big a deal.  The primary product my doctor prescribed was MiraLax, which was very easy to take--it mixes easily with liquid and is odorless and tasteless.  I simply mixed it with Gatorade.  The most important part, I learned, is consuming lots of clear liquids, which is not too onerous a task.

This plus a lot of Gatorade was my dinner the night before the procedure.

As for the procedure itself, it couldn't be much easier.  The only painful part was the small stick from having the IV put in.  And it wasn't the least bit undignified.

I'd say the greatest difficulty with having this procedure is the inconvenience.  The preparation for it consumes a great deal of the day before the colonoscopy, and the procedure itself pretty much takes a full day, since the sedatives take a while to get out of your system.  But the peace of mind that comes from having been screened for colon cancer was well worth a day and a half of my time.

I am grateful that my test showed no polyps or other unusual results.  I'll go back in 10 years and have another colonoscopy.  I suspect I'd be even more grateful if there had been anything unusual, because it would have been found and treated before it became life-threatening.

How about you?  Have you had a mammogram? a Pap smear? a colonoscopy?  Do you know anyone who has suffered from breast, cervical, ovarian, or colon cancer?  Do you have a tip to share?  Or would you prefer that we not talk about these "unmentionables"?

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Last First


The first day of school was all about making sure his lunch was packed and that he had the right kind of safety scissors and taking his picture with his big brothers.


And then after loading up the minivan, the first day was all about the drive to school with an excited kindergartner and his 4th and 6th grade brothers.  It was all about letting the big boys go into school from the car pool line, but Mom will park and walk in with him.

The first day was all about Mom's telling him that everything would be okay, that he'd have fun and learn lots of wonderful things.

But that first was 12 years ago.

What?  Wasn't it just a little while ago?  I swear it couldn't have been more than five years ago.

But now the first day is about making sure he has all the forms filled out and his tie is properly tied and a last-minute I-don't-have-time-for-a-picture-where-are-my-keys?


And Mom doesn't even drive to school at all, let alone with a van full of boys.

The first first day was about Mom's comforting the boy.

Now, on the last first day, who comforts the mom?

Somebody hold me, please.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Grace at Home No. 118


Welcome, welcome!  It's time for the weekly Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes full of grace, love, and beauty.  All these good things are gifts from God, and we are privileged to make our homes reflections of those gifts.

Here are a few of my favorites from last week's party:

Shenita from Embellishments by SLR turned her parents' old home into a college home for her daughters.  Read about how she created this


from this--on a tight budget!


Carol from An Oasis in the Desert shares some simple packing tips that are just wonderful!  I have a lot of travel coming up; I'm going to be using this post as a reference!


Debbie from Debbie-Dabble shared the decor in her kitchen.  If you like country or Victorian decor, you'll love Debbie's place--and you're sure to love Debbie, a precious woman and collector extraordinaire!


Kendra from Joy in our Home created a cute erasable calendar--from paint chips!  Perfect for back-to-school time!


Barb from Second Chance to Dream shares the #1 thing kids need as they go back to school.


There's been a great deal of talk about depression following the heartbreaking death of Robin Williams.  Michelle at Considering Grace shares from her own experience 5 ways to know if you're depressed.  A helpful and hopeful post!


These are just a few of my favorites.  Thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button (the code is right over in my sidebar).  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


 
Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Confession of a recovering racist


#Ferguson.  If you've spent time on any social media platform in the past couple of weeks, you've seen it.  If you're like me, you don't know quite enough about this story to understand fully or make judgments, but in situations like this one it's hard to imagine that racism isn't involved on some level.

And if you're like me, it's easy for you to get on your high horse and rage against the evil of racism, to decry the lack of justice in the world, to insist that something be done.

But as I've thought deeply about the events of the past couple of weeks, I realize that for the most part, any raging I would do is really a cover for the real something that still needs to happen in my own heart.

* * * * *
I came by my racism honestly.

I was born in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1960's.  Memphis was well on the way to being racially integrated before I arrived on the scene, so I didn't know that it was a big deal that Candace, my dark-skinned friend in Miss Haywood's first grade class, would not have been allowed in my classroom just a few years earlier.  I didn't know that Mrs. Bell wouldn't have been allowed to be my second-grade teacher.  I didn't know about the April 1968 shooting at the Lorraine Motel.  I knew that the Safety Patrol at my school conducted riot drills along with fire drills, but I didn't know why.

My parents did know all about those issues, and when the authorities in Memphis decided to further enact school integration by busing students, they joined thousands of others in what's now called "white flight."  We moved out to a neighboring county, well away from the jurisdiction of the Memphis City Schools.

Because, of course, my parents were law-abiding citizens.  Had we stayed in Memphis, they would have complied with the law.  Laws may change a person's behavior, and sometimes that's an important and necessary step.  But they don't change a person's heart.

At heart, we were racists.  I didn't know it at the time, but we were.  So were most of our friends and neighbors.

Don't get me wrong.  I was blessed that my folks were good people.  My family was Christian, and at church we sang about how people of all races were precious in God's sight.  I think we believed that, at least in theory. So far as I know, my parents treated people well, regardless of race.  I'm grateful for that.

What I've come to realize, though, is that now matter how seemingly benign a form of racism may be, it's dangerous.  Our kind of racism wasn't overt, but it was very much part of our idea of reality.  The thought of one race being superior to another was one of our underlying assumptions.

Here's the thing about underlying assumptions, though.  Once a false notion is accepted as truth, it changes the way we think.  It alters the way we perceive what's happening around us. Almost as though we were wearing glasses of the wrong prescription, we see distorted images--but we don't realize that we're not seeing clearly.  Those distorted images appear to support what we assume to be true, and our false notions are reinforced.


At least that's the way it was for me.  I was one of the lucky ones.  I had my racism challenged and mostly defeated when I was a young adult.  My husband and I lived in a very small town, and I was blessed to have a wonderful obstetrician who was from Africa.  This black man was a caring and competent physician; he delivered two of my three children.  Since then, I've been blessed with friends and colleagues of all different races.  I hope and believe that my children have grown up without particular racial prejudices.

But I know my own heart.  And though I work at not allowing racism of any kind to seep back in, it's still much too easy for me to fall into thinking in terms of racial stereotypes.  For instance, it's easy for me to think that all Africans are strong and all Asians are intelligent.  While those may be positive attributes, they're still stereotypes, and I have no business clinging to them.  Allowing myself to think in terms of sweeping generalizations of any kind is dangerous.



So when I hear about events like the ones in Ferguson, Missouri, I might find it tempting to rant about injustice, to rage against wrongs that need to be righted.  But if I allow traces of racism to lurk in my own heart, what good have I accomplished?

In the middle of thinking about all this, I read these words from Thomas a Kempis, in Chapter 11 of The Imitation of Christ:

"How can he abide long in peace who occupies himself with other men's matters, and with things outside himself, and meanwhile pays little or rare heed to the self within?  Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall have abundance of peace."

Ouch.

I applaud those who are working to make things better in Ferguson, Missouri.  I stand in solidarity with them.  But before I can stand strong, I need to keep bending my knee, repenting of my own foolish notions, and confessing the sin that's present in my own heart.

Dear Lord, forgive me.  And please keep changing my heart.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Grace at Home No. 117


Welcome, friends!  I'm glad you're here for the weekly Grace at Home party.

God's grace is the stuff of life--not just for forgiveness, but for everything.  Every good thing is a gift from God's hand.  So each week we pause here to give thanks for all His gifts and to celebrate the ways we make our homes reflections of that grace.

Here are a few links that caught my eye last week.

LuAnn at Lovely Livings Blog made her front porch a gracious and welcoming place.  Don't you just want to sit a spell?


One of the most charming gallery walls I've seen was shared by Jenise at Do-It-Yourself Fun Ideas: all clocks and frames!
Amy at Home Remedies shared some wonderful ways to dress up faux flowers using dollar store finds.  Frugal and so pretty!



Heather at Encouraged at Home shared some hard-earned wisdom with us in her post about coping with a tough diagnosis.  So helpful!



Many of us are looking ahead to Autumn, and there were two recipes shared this week that I'm tucking away to make this Fall.

First, this Beef Ragu from Bernadette at Barefoot Hippie Girl:



And this yummy Apple-Pear Crisp from Theresa at Shoestring Elegance.  Amazingly, it's gluten-free!


Last, I shared the story of our pilgrimage to Normandy, and I'd love for you to see it.


These are just a few of my favorites.  Thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button (the code is right over in my sidebar).  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


 
Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!