GOD WITH ME, GOD WITH YOU

God With Us--Enough

God With Us–Enough

By Lisa Huddleston

I have done and am still doing my day-to-day best to keep it simple this holiday season. I’ve minimized the decorating, I’ve finished the shopping, and the Christmas cards have already been mailed. Yet, I still find myself struggling with breathless moments of anxiety.

Why? Because I feel responsible for the happiness of everyone around me. I want to meet every expectation I think they have, to fulfill every tradition I think they love, and to make sure that each one will have the holiday I believe they are hoping for.

Again why? Because I have an inflated ego. Would Christmas be Christmas if I didn’t put up lights or send out cards or buy presents? Would Christmas be Christmas if I didn’t host a party or bake my grandmother’s sour cream cookies or put up a Christmas tree? Would Christmas still be Christmas if I didn’t even exist? YES!

So … not my responsibility, but rather my privilege … to share love, to bring joy, to accept and demonstrate peace. Because of God With Me and God With You, Immanuel.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come! And that is more than enough.

P.S. If you are having a hard time, I don’t want to give you the impression that I have it all figured out. I do not. I will still struggle daily. And chances are, many of you will still struggle. But, even in that struggle, I am thankful for God With Me through it all. Baruch haShem.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS ADJUSTED

Ahhhhh ... alpaca!

Ahhhhh … alpaca!

By Lisa Huddleston

Last Saturday, I made plans to meet my husband after the Vandy football game and do a little Christmas shopping. After he left, I started thinking about making a quick run to my favorite yarn store, Haus of Yarn, before meeting him. I had an idea for a birthday present for my daughter that required a yarn purchase, and it just made good sense to make the most of the long drive into town.

I arrived at Haus with only about 30 minutes to shop so I felt pushed, but I could do it. I knew I wanted something gray and chunky and soft so I gave those specifics to a kind lady working there, and she led me right to something perfect: baby alpaca, soft and squishy and in several (no, not 50) shades of gray. Great! I paid for the yarn, jumped in the car, and headed to Vandy to meet Chuck just in time.

The afternoon was very enjoyable: a late lunch at Ted’s, shopping in Green Hills, and people watching over a cup of Starbucks. Lots of fun, but that soft yarn was calling my name the whole time, and I couldn’t wait to get it on my needles when I got home.

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

That evening I cast on the required number of stitches that the pattern called for and got right down to business. The yarn looked beautiful, and the diagonal ribbing was working out just right. I was feeling pretty proud of the great, hand-made gift I’d be giving my daughter. And, hey, I was really getting good at this knitting stuff! (Insert a lot of back patting here.)

The following day was pretty full so I didn’t get to knit until late in the evening, and I was too tired to work on it then for fear of making a mistake. After knitting just a few rows, I put it down for the next day. It was nearly finished so it took very little time to wrap it up on Monday. I carefully measured the length–yep, exactly nine inches as specified. I couldn’t see any mistakes, and I proudly began binding off the cowl. I was excited to see how it looked on so I immediately pulled it over my head. Wait! It was really tight. Not what I’d hoped for at all. More of a rogue turtleneck without the turtle than a true cowl. What the heck??

I went back to the picture I’d seen on Ravelry.com … hmmm, my friend had adjusted the pattern by casting on 80 stitches instead of the specified 60. And I looked at the last cowl I had made–I had cast on 100 stitches for that. Man! I wanted to give up and cry, “Everything I do just turns out terribly! Waaaaaa! I really suck!” So that’s just what I did.

But after my short pity-party, I dried my tears and moved on. And lo and behold, some good lessons were learned:

1. I loved the yarn I used and will give it another try for a cowl.

2. A little more research will help me to avoid future disasters like this one. Yes, I will spend more time reading the notes other knitters have added to their projects on Rav.

3. Experience is the best teacher. I love my 100 stitches-diameter cowl so that may become my go-to number.

4. You don’t always get what you expect, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw the whole thing out. The soft, gray, turtleneck-sans-turtle will still be great on a very cold day, and it is still very pretty.

5. The next one will be better because of my time spent learning on this project. Not perfect–but better!

Good life lessons, good knitting lessons, and all in all, a good yarn to tell.

TAKING A MENTAL HEALTH DAY

Keeping the fire burning ...

Keeping the fire burning …

By Lisa Huddleston

I had tentative plans for today, but last evening I sent my friend a text saying that I was wrung out and needed a mental health day. So here I sit, thankful for a friend who knows and understands me and thankful for a whole, blessedly empty day and various ideas about how to spend it well so that tomorrow I can get back into the traffic.

First I hope to clean up the house (although I guess that really is third on the list–I’ve already read 1 Peter and now I am writing). It’s really a mess here where I sit. Multiple fires have burned since Wednesday when I last ran the vacuum cleaner, and everything is covered in dust and wood fibers. We have also had a lot of people pass through the house over the Thanksgiving weekend. Food (way too much of it) has fallen here and there, and although the dog tried her best to keep it all cleaned up, the kitchen floor could really use a good mopping. Also, decorating has been started but not completely finished so there’s that to tie up (pared down this year to limit the chaos–just a few nativities and some greenery. Hallelujah!). I will feel much better when order is restored.

There is also some knitting to tend to (some for Christmas presents and some just for me), some research for tomorrow’s book club meeting to complete, and I must spend at least an hour in the basement exercising either on the treadmill or with a DVD–or both. I will feel better when these things are done; I know I will. At least, I hope I will.

And hope is what this time of year should be about. A living hope, an eternal inheritance, a blessed assurance that Jesus Christ has come, is here, and will come again soon.

Here’s hoping I make it through my list today and find the peace I know is hiding under all the ashes and crumbs. Here’s hoping you do, too.

Baruch haShem.