My Christmas Eve Reminisce

The Indescribable Gift

Journal Entry – December 24, 2016

It’s Christmas Eve. My church family is gathering this very hour to celebrate God’s Indescribable Gift by candlelight. I love the Christmas Eve service and am a bit saddened that I can only join my church family via “livestream.” While I appreciate having this option, it’s definitely not the same as being there.

Last year’s Christmas Eve service is etched deep within my heart. Our family all gathered together sitting in the pew beside Wayne and I remembering the giving of the Indescribable Gift with the birth of our Savior.

My favorite part of the service is a tradition that comes right at the end. Our whole church family gathers around the outer edge of the dimly lit sanctuary, the darkness of which is softened by the glow of a few decorative candles. Each one of us holds a single unlit candle while we sing a beautiful carol. Our pastor lights his candle. Then he lights the candle of those on either side of him. Each individual passing the light of their one candle to another, then that candle lights the next. The sanctuary becoming increasingly brightened by the shared light until we are all basking in the warm glow of candlelight, beautifully symbolizing sharing the Light of the World with one another.

With our granddaughters standing between us with their beautiful faces aglow in soft candlelight, Wayne and I listen to them lift their sweet voices in praise to their Savior. This passing of the candlelight perfectly symbolizes the passing of faith to the next generation.

This year our children are celebrating Christmas Eve with their families elsewhere. My dear mother is not up to venturing out on this mild wintry eve of Christmas. Alzheimer’s has stripped mom of her desire to do things socially, so the three of us are quietly celebrating here at her apartment. Together, we will enjoy a home-cooked meal followed by watching a favorite Hallmark Christmas movie.

Watching Hallmark Christmas movies

I must confess that my mind is awhirl with questions and a few uncertainties tonight. I look at mom and wonder just how many more Christmases we will celebrate together. Will this be her last Christmas with us? Will she celebrate her next Christmas in heaven, a gift she truly desires? If not, will she know who I am next Christmas? Will she be able to stay in her apartment another year, or will this next year bring more difficulties and change?

But, even in the midst of my wondering and pondering heart this year, there is a quiet inner joy. Joy in knowing Christ – the Indescribable Gift. Joy in having a husband who has also received the same Gift. Joy in knowing my mother and father each received the Gift by faith as well. Joy in the knowledge that my children and their spouses have each received that most precious Gift. Joy in the realization that one by one, our grandchildren are receiving this Indescribable Gift by faith too.

The symbolic candle lighting candle brings sweet joy as we are reminded that each of us has received this Indescribable Gift because someone shared it with us.

Aloha from the Garden Island

“He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— he remains faithful forever.” Psalm 146:6

I’m taking a tiny blogging break so I can fully appreciate time spent with my husband Wayne and our beautiful grandgirl, Violet.

There’s no way to capture the splendor of this place in a photo, but here’s a glimpse of my happy moments on my favorite island thus far—Kauai.

Game-Changer Bulb Planting Tool

Yay! I finally got my tulip bulbs planted!

This week I would like to share a helpful gardening tip with you! Awhile back, a fellow blogger mentioned a cool drill-bit for planting tulip bulbs. In turn, I mentioned it to my hubby. Next thing I knew, he was on Amazon ordering two garden auger bits that would fit his cordless drill. The bits arrived not many days later then just sat in the garage waiting.

Continue reading “Game-Changer Bulb Planting Tool”

Discovering a Secret Garden

Alas, today’s snow flurries and nippy temperatures are just a foretaste of what is yet to come. My gardening checklist has quite a few tasks yet to complete in order to finish preparing my flowerbeds for winter’s sleep. How can it be mid-November already? It seems only yesterday that I was happily plodding barefoot through my gardens, planting this, transplanting that, and digging out weeds, and muttering under my breath at the voracious bunnies who happily brought their family and friends to my flowerbed buffet.

It also seems that not long ago I took a wrong turn detour and found myself driving down a street on which I had never traveled and found myself in an older section of town in what appeared to be an industrial park. Upon making a Y-turn to head back to the known route, I spied a sign to a public garden tucked in a messy-but-pretty flowerbed between what looked like two warehouses.

It was a beautiful summer afternoon, so I parked my car at the curb and accepted the sign’s invitation to wander down a footpath toward what looked like the garden’s entrance. Native plants seemed to hum with busy bees and butterflies. Flowers criss-crossed and lapped over the edges of the ungroomed pathway. The busy bees didn’t seem to mind my presence, so I carefully ventured further down the winding path, and there I found a hidden slice of peaceful beauty to explore.

I invite you to wander its pathways with me, courtesy of a few photos I snapped as I walked and explored.

Upon crossing this rustic footbridge, I entered the most enchanting prairie.

Flowers lured me in to wander pathways, and God’s creation beckoned me to praise Him.

I’ll be back…

I am joining (last minute on a Thursday) the Five Minute Friday writing community for a little writing adventure hosted by Kate Motaung. This week’s writing prompt is, “Wander.”

The Day the Caregiver Cried

This story still makes my eyes well with tears when I think of the things my mom endured in her journey through the last few years of life with Alzheimer’s. While I would never want to relive those moments, I’m glad God led me to provide care for her, as God used this incredibly difficult time to help me grow in my faith and trust in Him. I’m reposting this for those friends who are still traveling this road in life called Alzheimer’s. May God bless and keep you and give you wisdom for the journey. I’m here if you need someone to listen to you, share caregiving ideas and thoughts, and pray for you. ~Cindie

Barefoot Lily Lady

Momma had a good day on Saturday – well, as good as days get when you have Alzheimer’s. Wayne was out of town visiting a friend, so it was just the two of us most of the day. She had been alert, busy, and had a great attitude. I turned the clocks back one hour, looking forward to the possibility of an extra hour of sleep. But it was not meant to be – by the time my head hit my pillow she had her light on in her room and was rummaging through her drawers.

It was my turn to teach Sunday School the next morning, so I tried to sleep a little, staying on the edge of sleep, listening and keeping a sleepy eye on the monitor throughout the night, only intervening when I thought it was essential. Sadly, no amount of “redirection” on my part was going…

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‘Fall back’ is Garden Cleanout Time

Not all of the ideas I had for my garden this year actually happened, but each flowerbed had its time to shine. My job as a part-time baker has caused this old gal no small shortage in the energy department too. I typically think of several tasks I want to do in the garden on my way home from work, but most days I somehow end up in my comfy chair in the living room with my tired feet up.

I do try to get a few gardening tasks checked off my to-do list on my days off — even if it’s a finished task noticed by myself alone, it feels good to accomplish something. This weekend’s efforts resulted in many spent plants being cut back or pulled out and added to the city’s compost heap, several flowerpots emptied, and the front porch swept clean. I decided to be finished with covering plants whenever there is a frost warning and just let nature take its course. So I’ve been bringing a few of my favorite plants in before the killing frost so that I can attempt to overwinter them and replant them in the spring. A favorite pink pelargonium got scooped out of its summer pot and planted in its own pot. I doused it thoroughly with Neem oil and kept the digging on my 3-season porch before placing it on my kitchen windowsill for the winter. It must be happy because there are several new buds.

My pelargonium in its winter home, happily rewards my effort with a pink blossom

I also dug up quite a few of my spent peacock orchids (which I wrote about here) and am drying them out a bit before harvesting the rhizomes and storing them for the winter. I’ve never done that before, so am relying on YouTube tutorials for guidance . We’ll see how that goes.

Likewise, I dug up the rhizomes from a favorite calla lily my daughter gave me for Mother’s Day. I’m going to make a valiant, Pinterest-inspired attempt to create some new divisions from the rhizomes. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I took some cuttings from several very happy Livingstone Daisies (a.k.a. ice-plants) which spent their summer spilling out of the pots on my front porch. I snipped a few of the best stems to water-root, but also scooped a healthy-looking clump out of one of the pots, trimmed it back, and repotted it in fresh potting soil, as I have read somewhere that it can be kept as a succulent houseplant. I gave that plant a dousing with Neem oil to kill any bugs attempting to hitch-hike their way into my house. After a few days of transition from the chilly outdoors to my slightly warmer porch, I brought it indoors and gave it a place of honor on a family room window-seat which receives a generous amount of indirect light. I wrote its name on a plant stake because I can never remember what it’s called.

Also coming in from the nippy outdoors were a few of my succulent groupings, a languishing sansevieria plant, and two plants given to me by Melinda, my friend who enjoys playing in the dirt in Louisiana: an ‘Angel Wing Begonia’ (a.k.a. porch begonia) and a plumeria.

My Sansevieria (a.k.a. ‘mother-in-law’s tongue’ or ‘snake plant’) got a little scorched during some extremely hot weather during its annual foray on the front porch. I dug it out of the pot it’s been in for years, teased the roots apart and salvaged a tiny bit of the original plant. I filled the pot with new potting soil, then added a few different varieties of Sansevieria I purchased at a local nursery to add some interest. It now resides in our ‘Gathering Room’ in a spot nearest an east-facing window, but also benefiting from indirect light from a nearby south-facing window. I am trying not to overwater it, as I am prone to do, and hoping it will reward me with vigorous growth.

My garden frog came in for the winter too…and look what he brought with him!

We set our clocks back one hour before going to bed Saturday night — a precursor to shortened gardening hours and the winter months ahead. That’s okay though. One of the blessings of living in Wisconsin is being able to tuck the flowerbeds under a blanket of snow for a winter’s nap and the gardener’s respite. It’s the season for thumbing through garden journals and seed catalogues in order to make plans for next year’s garden. But, before I get too cozy, I need to check one more thing off my to-do list:

Plant lots of tulip bulbs!

So, until next Saturday when my post will hopefully include a report of all my tulip bulbs being planted, that’s my Six for this Saturday. To see other SOS posts, visit our host at  http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

The Garden Center Stalker

Facebook kindly informed me that one of my favorite garden centers was having a sale on mums and asters.

The ad looked like this.

The garden center is on my way home from work (well, sort of), so I stopped in today. Wow, Fitchburg Farms has an amazing array of healthy, colorful mums, and gorgeous asters in shades of purple! As I mentioned in a recent post, I’m noticing that my flowerbeds are in dire need of some more color. Well, “dire need” might be a slight exaggeration, but they are looking a bit drab.

I drove slowly down the gravel drive into the garden center, admiring the nicely shaped trees along one side and could see that the front of the store was awash in autumn colors. I pulled into one of just a few paved parking spots, then donned a face mask and made my way over to the area where the carts and flatbed wagons were corralled. Three mums and three asters was the “buy limit” I had in mind, so I chose one of those flatbed wagons and set off in search of just the right colors to complement the mums Wayne bought me earlier in the week. There were just two customers shopping in the outdoor section of the garden center, so I picked an area other than where they were shopping so that I kept adequate social distancing in mind.

Since I was in my own spot, I could play with colors. I’d find two or three that I liked and then play with the combinations on my little flatbed. I couldn’t help but notice that there was this lady staring at me as I played. I wondered if she thought she perhaps knew me from somewhere, but couldn’t quite recall. Before I knew it, she was in the same garden aisle as me, so I moved to the next one over to give her (and me) some space to shop.

She followed me.

I couldn’t help but notice that she kept an eye on me the whole time I was there. Wherever I moved, she moved.

Strange. It wasn’t creepy. Just weird. It reminded me of those detective shows where a private eye detective is tailing a suspect and trying to stay incognito (and doing a bad job of it).

I moved to another aisle where I spied more amazing colors that I could play with. She tailed me again. This time the lady finally spoke up and said, “Please, don’t mind me. I am watching you as you’re arranging and rearranging the colors.”

I chuckled, “Oh! I was hoping I wasn’t getting in your way.” She grinned as she shared that she had been there for awhile before me and just couldn’t make up her mind. When she saw me breeze in and start playing with the color combinations she knew what she would do. My garden center stalker-friend shared, “I like the color palettes you are creating and decided, whatever you buy, I’m buying.”

Sure enough, weird turned into a compliment when I looked at her cart and she had duplicated every flower I had chosen.

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