It's a New Year or Starting off on the right foot….

Hello everyone, Is your year starting off right? Or do you need to start again on the other foot? In an attempt to use the correct starting foot this year I have written down an actual plan. I know, stop the presses! This coming from a “shoot from the hip” kind of gal is a big reality check! I am a make no plans, go where you wanna go person. Well, that wasn’t working too well for me – too much lack of structure makes for too much room for error. In looking back at what worked in 2006 and what did not work – there was alot more that did not work than what did. Thus I knew that I needed some drastic changes. Now, I said to myself – this is the one thing you do well – change. So, go for change and do it right!

Now, how do you go from “fly by the seat of your pants” to “structure city”? Did I really want to live in “structure city”? Was there a happy inbetween place between the two? I believe that there is, and starting out with a plan is a good place to start!

I have divided my plan into two parts, the “me” part and the “homelife” part. I believe that by working on the things in each part, life will be so much better. After all, I am now 46 years old and I need to “get a life” or at least work on a new and improved one.

I will start with the “me” list:
1. I resolve to listen more and talk less!
Where did this come from you ask? Well, on New Years Eve – I discovered how much my kids and their friends had to say – and what they said when someone was really listening. I am sorry to say that I was a poor listener to my kids; oh I listened, but I knew what they were saying – or at least I assumed I did. No more assuming for me – I am working on listening – actively listening to what my kids are saying. You know the old addage – this is why our Good God gave us 2 ears and one mouth – we were supposed to use one more than the other. Lo and behold – I think I am getting it! This listening part also is going to help my spiritual life – I am going to listen more for what God is saying to me. I think that this focus will help me with my other resolutions.

2. I resolve to value me more!
This is going to be a challenge for me, but one that I will embrace. I need to become more healthy – no this is not a diet – I have failed at those for years. It is always the first resolution I have always made and the first resolution that I have always broken. I am not making a list to set myself up for failure – I am making a list to track my success! I want to be more healthy in many aspects of my life – from health and wellness to spirituality. I believe that resolutions 1 and 2 go hand in hand. I want to be fit mentally, physically, and spiritually – and this won’t happen without some work. My friend Lynne sent me a book last summer that I read and then did nothing with. She sent it for a reason – she knew what it was. Now, I am working on my prayer life – with a purpose – more value of me for me!

3. I resolve to knit an afgan for DD #1.
My Rachel will be leaving for college in August – and it will be here all to quickly! What better way to spend the time than knitting an afgan for her when she is far away. Something knit with love to wrap around her. I have signed up for an afgan class for some kindred spirit support and the inspiration to finish this afgan – there is a time frame to the class!! Which will lead me right to resolution #4….

4. I resolve to learn something NEW every day!
I know that it will be a challenge for me to go from “wherever the wind blows me” to “this is the plan” so in order to help my “free spirit” attitude – I have added in the importance of learning – and I will incorporate this into all parts of my life. Home and work, family and faith – there is so much to learn!

This moves me on to the “homelife” resolutions. These were not as fun as the self improvement ones – or maybe these are just more visible, measurable, verify-able!

1. Save more, spend less.
Simply said, incredibly hard to do. I am not a great saver – but I sure as heck am an amazing spender. With the changes in my life recently, I have discovered that one needs to have a measure of all things in their life for balance – and in order to have a balanced checkbook, one needs to spend less! I am working on this and have set in place the following things to help me accomplish this one important resolution!

2. Organize my knitting stash and knit from it!
No purchase of yarn, no exceptions. I have a good sized stash, and I am going to whittle it away. I have committed to this, and thus far it is working! I have pulled some fun yarns out and have been looking over patterns. This is so much fun – what I thought I would do when I bought the yarns and what new possibilites for that yarn are tremendously fun!!! I know my LYS will not be happy with this – I am sorry ladies – truly I am. This is important to me. When I have knit ALL my stash yarn, I will gladly buy more.

3. De-clutter my home.
Garage sale, donate, and toss are the categories! How freeing this will be!! I have alot of things that we don’t use, need, or want – I am going to find homes for them or sell them or throw them away… but they are not staying a the Christensen Huis any longer!!

4. More home cooked meals!
This will help with a healthier life style and with a healthier wallet! And, I will spend time listening to my kids as we prepare dinner together!!! I love how this plan is coming together, don’t you???

5. Prioritize time better.
People, I am the Chief Procrastinator! There is some sick part of me that believes that it is better if you are in a panic to complete a task. No more – there is a plan and I am sticking to it! As with budgeting money, my time is going to be budgeted as well. I have been working on this since the 1st and I know that after 30 days, this will be so much easier. This time management will help with all the other resolutions – and will help me be successful as I move forward into 2007.

I am excited and a bit anxious for what lays ahead – I shall keep you all posted on my progress.

2007!!

Good Morning One and All! Hopefully none of you had too much New Year’s Eve cheer last night and are bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning!

The New Year dawned here gray and dreary outdoors but we are sunny and bright here inside at the Holland Huis – at least those of us who are up are bright and sunny! I hosted a small New Year’s get-together for my kids last evening. The ladies are up and the boys are still snoring away. I even got a good nights sleep – so there was not too much commotion last night! I have fresh turn overs and juice awaiting the sleeping giants!

So, it is the day of resolutions! Are you all ready? I know I am not! I have some that are easy, but others that are hard. I will share shortly – I have to get them from my brain onto paper!

I read a really great New Years post this morning at Felt Like Knitting so I thought that I would share my “Top Ten Reasons I Like Knit Blogging” – drum roll please…..
10. Podcasts!
9. Journaling – I have found this to be a wonderful way to keep track of thoughts and ideas.
8. Swaps, Exchanges, and KAL’s. This has been so much fun! I have especially enjoyed SP8 and 9 that I participated in in 2006. I have also met some awesome knitters in this process and I cherish their friendship! 7. Meeting other bloggers! This past summer I got to meet several fellow knit bloggers at Threadbear in Lansing. Laurie, Handknitter Sarah, Lynne from New York, Sharon, West Michigan Laura, and Susie all traveled over to Lansing for a day of knitting fun. I am hoping that 2007 will allow for meeting these lovely ladies again and that I will have the opportunity to meet more of my Knit Blogger Friends!
6. Discovering Etsy shops online! This has been amazing as I have found wonderful sources for amazing yarns. You are all so talented – and I am honored to be able to buy your yarns and knit them into something lovely for myself or my loved ones.
5. Stash explosion – see above!
4. Teaching knitting classes and taking knitting classes- although I am not in the same league as Handknitter Sarah – I have discovered that I love helping other knitters learn a new technique. I also have discovered that, while I am a fairly new knitter – I had my 2 year knitiversary in 2006, I love learning new techniques. On my calendar for 2006 is to join a group to knit an afgan one square a month and to tackle lace!
3. Discovering all the knitting helps there are online! From Knitty.com to all the other knitting help sites – what a treasure trove of amazing information.
2. Finding comfort in the camaraderie that exsists in the knitting community. This is a giving group of people – I am amazed. Here is to making 2007 as amazing!
and my number 1 reason I liked knit blogging this year…
1. Being inspired, sometimes amused, and always touched by reading what you are all doing in your lives. Thank you all so much for sharing!

Have a most Blessed New Year!

SP9 Questions

Here are my pals responses:

1. The oddest gift you have ever received (not asked for)
when I was 16, my parents gave me a complete set of luggage. i thought they were trying to tell me something…like to take a hike, get lost, or it was time to move
2) the oddest gift you ever asked for
a baby.
3) the oddest gift you ever gave
I would like to think I don’t give odd presents…but ummm….hmmmm…honestly I don’t know. I try to be so practical in gift giving.
4) the worse gift you ever got
Most certainly it would have to be the Precious moments Christmas wrapping paper that my MIL gave me one year. I do like PM and she thought I would enjoy the wrapping paper to use for the next year. Hey, it’s the same year she gave hubby a case of salad dressing. 🙂

My answers:

1. Boy, I had to think long and hard about this one – I think the oddest gift I ever received – that I did not ask for – was a George Foreman grill!

2. The oddest gift I ever asked for – hmmmm, some people would say that all the gifts I ask for are odd! 🙂 But, I suppose it would be the year I begged, and I mean begged – for a serger! All that begging must of worked, I got one!

3. The oddest gift I ever gave – hmmmmm, I guess there have been some odd things I have given – no fruit cake on the list though! I gave my first husband an antique “Santa” advertisement. He returned the “begging favor” and I got it for him!

4. The worst gift – hmmm, now this is really difficult, I am telling you – there has not been a gift that I felt was “worst” – oh, I know – the year someone gave me some really awful perfume – you know, the kind that if you have it on, it arrives days before you do!?!

I have to tell you all…. my spoilee has been a true blessing. She is an amazing mom…. She home schools their children, her spouse is in the military. They host “alone” military family members at their home for holidays. She is amazing – and more!! I could not have been more blessed to receive such an amazing pal. We are having an awesome time getting to know each other – I believe that this is the start of a friendship for life. Thank you SP9 for starting us on the path to friendship.

We have had an amazing time getting to know each other. 🙂

Birthday Blues

Hello everyone – I am so glad that today is my birthday AND that year number 45 is OVER! This past year has had its downs and downs (not many ups unfortunately). But, the year is over and a new day dawns on year 46 – I see it rising with hope and promise.

It has been a year of struggles – loosing a job I had worked at for a long time – a place that I gave my all and more to. Only to be “downsized”. What a lovely term that is, huh? Trust me, trying to find a job at age 45 is not so spectacular. Almost every job I applied for I was told I was “over-qualified” (translation, per a nice HR person, you make too much money) When a company can hire someone for less, they do so – and I don’t blame them so much. But, it was a challenge. I took a job offer in hopes that looking for employment while employed is so much more successful. It took some time, but it did work (one of the few things that did work out in year 45).

Then there have been the personal struggles – my husband determined this summer that he wanted to leave. He did so for over 4 months. In November he had contacted me to tell me how miserable he was, and we decided to go for counseling. He moved back in. We went to counseling and unfortunately he did not hear what he wanted to – mind you, the counselor told EACH of us what we needed to work on and she gave us homework each week to work on together. My husband was home less that 3 weeks when he determined that he needed to move out again. He has been gone ever since – yet he managed to call today to wish me a “happy birthday” – what I wanted to say was it would have been happier if he had not called. I did not say that – I just thanked him for the call and went on with my day. I am not letting him come back home again. No more ups and downs there anymore.

Right around Thanksgiving, my daughter’s best friend’s father committed suicide. It suddenly made all my problems pale in comparison – amazing how quickly life gains perspective. My family surrounded this family with meals, prayers, shoulders for tears, and we cried tears with them as well. My daughter still cannot comprehend what happened – and we struggled with Christmas joy when this family is still hurting so very much. We found thanks in the simple promise of Christmas though – and we were so happy to have each other.

If it had not been for my faith and knitting, I surely would have lost what was left of my mind. Although, my kids somedays will tell you I am crazy! I am looking forward to this new year and all the opportunities that it will bring. I am teaching some new knitting classes in a NEW place. And, I have decided to join the local chapter of the Knitting Guild here in Holland. I also am going to make it a priority to get back to choir (both bell and voice) regularly. I allowed myself to be absent and that was not good.

I also got my kids a kitten for Christmas – Miss Noel is quite a character. Copper and Penny think so too. There is much running and chasing going on at our house these days – and I realize that I need to “kitty proof” my living room! I shall get a picture posted soon of Noel. She is adorable, 12 weeks old, and she is a calico. And, she is such a mischief maker. She is providing comic relief and tell me, who can ever have too much comic relief??? Laughter is a balm for the weary soul.

So, as my 46th year dawns – I see the light of new promise and like the birth of the blues – I shall sing and dance on! Tonight, I shall drink a wee toast to all of you, my blog friends. Cheers!

Welcome to our world!

I want to share with you all something written by R. Kent Hughes from “The Gift”. May your Christmas day be most blessed!

The Birth of Christ

From ground level, Joseph and Mary were insignificant nobodies from a nothing town. They were peasants. They were poor, uneducated, of no account.
Joseph and Mary capsulized the mystery of grace – because the King does not come to the proud and powerful, but to the poor and powerless. As happens so often in life, things were not as they seemed to the world around, because humble Mary and Joseph were the father and mother of the King of Kings.
They appeared to be helpless pawns caught in the movements of secular history. But every move was being made by the hand of God. The Messiah had to be born in tiny, insignificant Bethlehem! As the virgin traveled, she bore under her steady beating heart, hidden from the world, the busy thumping heart of God.
The Creator had woven Himself a robe of virgin flesh.
The baby Mary carried was not a Caesar, a man would would claim to be a god, but a far greater wonder – God who had become a man!
The journey left Mary increasingly weary as she trod those dusty miles to the south. And when she and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem they were exhausted – especially Mary. And then the pains began. Perhaps at first young Mary wasn’t sure and didn’t say anything to Joseph. But then, when there was no doubt that it was the real thing, she informed him – probably with tears. She was just a girl of thirteen or fourteen years.
We are all familiar with the haunting simplicity of Luke’s description of the birth: “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, as son.”
In Bethlehem the accommodations for travelers were primitive. The Easter inn was the crudest of arrangements. Typically it was a series of stalls built on the inside of an enclosure and opening onto the common yard where the animals were kept. All the innkeeper provided was fodder for the animals and a fire to cook on. On that cold day when the expectant parents arrived, nothing at all was available, not even one of those crude stalls. And despite the urgency no one would make room for them. So it was probably in the common courtyard where the travelers’ animals were tethered that Mary gave birth to Jesus – with only Joseph attending.
Joseph must have wept, as well as Mary. Mary’s pain, the stinking barnyard, their poverty, the indifference, the humiliation, the sense of utter helplessness, the shame of not being able to provide for young Mary on the night of her travail – it would make a man either curse of cry.
If we imagine that it was into a freshly swept, County Fair stable that Jesus was born, we miss the whole point. It was wretched – scandalous! There was sweat and pain and blood and cries as Mary reached to the stars for help. The earth was cold and hard. The smell of birth was mixed into a wretched bouquet with the stench of manure and acrid straw. Trembling carpenter’s hands, clumsy with fear, grasped God’s Son slippery with blood – the baby’s tiny limbs waving helplessly as if falling through space – his face grimacing as he gasped the cold and his cry pierced the night.
My mother groaned, my father wept. Into the dangerous world I leapt.
It was a leap down – as if the Son of God rose from his splendor, stood poised at the rim of the universe, and dove headlong, speeding through the stars over the Milky Way to earth’s galaxy, finally past Arcturus, where he plunged into a huddle of animals. Nothing could be lower.
Luke finishes the picture: “She wrapped him in strips of cloth and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Mary counted his fingers. She and Joseph wiped him clean as best they could by firelight, but Mary wrapped each of his little round, steaming arms and legs with strips of cloth – mummy-like. No one helped her. She laid him in a feeding trough.
It was low. No child born into the world that day seemed to have lower prospects. The Son of God was born into the world not as a prince but a s a pauper. We must never forget that this is where Christianity began – and were it always begins. It begins with a sense of need, a graced sense of one’s insufficiency. Christ comes to the needy. Ultimately, he is born in those who are “poor in spirit.”
The story moves quickly as Christ’s birth is announced. Shepherds were the first to hear. “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” The shepherds on that wintry night were naturally huddled close to their fire, while above, the icy constellations swept by. Suddenly, as if a star burst, glory dazzled the night, and an honored angel stepped forth as the shepherds recoiled in great fear – despite his reassuring words.
That the message came to shepherds first, and not to the high and mighty, once again brings us to the refrain that God comes to the needy, the “poor in spirit.” Shepherds were despised by the “good,” respectable people of that day. They were regarded as thieves. The only ones lower than shepherds, at this particular time in Jewish history, were lepers.
God wants us to get it straight: He comes to those who sense their need. He does not come to the self-sufficient. Christmas is for those who need Jesus! Whatever our situation, He can deliver us. The angel said the “good news” was for “all the people.” Whoever you are, He can deliver you. “Because Jesus lives forever…he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25). Listen to the angel’s words, again, slowly: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
Now see what happens. “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Here we need a little Christmas imagination. Perhaps there was a flash and suddenly the bewildered shepherds were surrounded by angels.
Not well that it says that it was a “great company” – beyond count. I think that every angel was there because this was the most amazing and greatest event that had ever happened in the universe. I think they stretched from horizon to horizon, obscuring the winter constellations. I like to imagine that they radiated gold, pink, electric blue, hyacinth, and ultraviolet – and that some were sparkling. And then, when they lifted their voices to God, it was cosmic stereo!
How we all would like to have been there – to be a fly on the ear of one of the shepherds’ sheep. But hear this: though the choir in Heaven did it, we on earth have a part, and it is the best part, because we are children of grace. God became man, not an angel. God redeemed us, not angels. Ours is the best part, and we will sing it for eternity!
The angels departed, the glory that lit the countryside faded, the constellations reappeared, and the shepherds were alone. They allowed no grass to grow under their feet. They took off running, leaping the low Judean fences, and entered the enclosure wide-eyed and panting. They searched the stalls and quickly found the new mother and her Babe out in the open among the animals. Immediately they began to announce the good news, telling all who would listen about the angels and the baby. When they left, they continued glorifying and praising God for all they had experienced.
This Christmas is not enough to hear about Jesus. It is not enough to come peek in the manger and say, “Oh, how nice. What a lovely scene. It gives me such good feelings.” The truth is, even if Christ were born in Bethlehem a thousand times and not in you, y
ou
would be eternally lost. The Christ who was born into the world must be born in your heart.
Christmas sentiment without the living Christ is a yellow brick road to darkness. That is the terrifying thing about all the Chrismas glitz – that Christmas can be burried by materialism and sentiment and people will not even know or care.
He really did come into the world; and because of this, he really can come into your heart. This Christmas, let us lay our lives before Him and receive the gift.
In this world of sin,
Where meek souls will
receive him still
The dear Christ enters in.


Christmas is coming….

Hello everyone! Are you almost ready for Christmas? Has your Advent experience been getting you ready for Monday? There is still time to stop and think about what all this preparation is really all about. I absolutely love this time of the year – the lights, the music, the decorations – all of it! But, the reason I love it most is what was done for me 2000 years ago in a stable – we all got the best gift we will ever get – and we did not have to put it on our list or worry about anyone watching whether we have been naughty or nice – how awesome is that? If you have not done so – get out the Christmas story and read it with your family before Monday – spend a few minutes – or longer – thinking about the gift of Jesus. I promise you that they will be minutes well spent as we all hustle around so we are ready for Christmas morning.

Speaking of gifts…I had a package waiting at my doorstep when I got home last night. My secret pal had struck again – I will try and have my daughter help me post photos this weekend, but I will share with you all the great little gifts she sent me (I was worried, I had not heard from her and I am glad she is alright!!) I got some awesome Sockotta yarn – in a denimy colorway – I can see some new socks in the New Year from this great yarn. She also sent me some awesome finishing clips – wow, these are so cool. I have seen ones like them in magazines but not in any of the LYS’s in my area – good incentive to jump in to seaming up a project!! I also got a great little scissors!! I find that scissors are a bit like measuring tapes – I know I have them but where are they??? She also sent me a GREAT magnet! I love it and it is residing on my fridge! It will be great to keep my 2007 Knitting Goals list in sight!

Speaking of 2007 Knitting Goals, have you all been to YarnLife?? If you have knitting goals for the New Year and want some help this is the place for you to go! What better way than to stay on track with fellow knitters. I also want to remind you all that there is still time to knit a cap or two for Caps to the Capital. Knittymama had a great reminder on her blog about this. You can get directions at Caps to the Capital. Won’t you join me in knitting a cap or two? I think that Knittymama also has a link for a contest if you knit also! There is some additional incentive.

I hope that all of you, my blogging friends, have a very Blessed Christmas!

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