Tag Archive | ScatteredWhimsy

A Little Bit of Knit

As I write this, my daughters and I are visiting relatives in MA during my girls’ Montana spring break. We’re nearing the final few days, and I’m trying not to blink.

Whenever I go on a trip (heck, sometimes when Hubby just drives us to church), one of my must-haves is some kind of knitting project. Something simple that doesn’t require too much attention, so I can use that attention for socializing. 😉 This time, I’m working on re-knitting my daughter’s blanket that she’s had since her first year of life. She actually has two identical blankets, but I unraveled her favorite one (full of holes and stretched stitches and looking like it would fall apart in the next wash) so I could knit it into something sturdy again. Four rows are constantly repeated throughout the blanket’s length. Boring to knit when I’m home alone, but a perfect no-brainer for when I need to concentrate on something—or someone—else. 😀

Friends of ours are expecting twin girls in late May/early June. They already have a two-year-old son (who’s going to make an awesome big brother), so back in February, I found this pattern on Ravelry.com and knit up a trio of bunnies for the children.

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They were quick to make, and I love how it didn’t involve a lot of sewing. You knit the legs, arms, ears, and tail first, stuff the pieces, then perform a three-needle decrease (closing the top row but not binding off), and keep the remaining stitches live on extra needles.

 

When you start working on the body from the bottom up, you incorporate those limbs and such as you go via more three-needle decreases, so that once you’ve closed the hole at the top of the head after stuffing it (the safety eyes are attached before stuffing), there’s just the nose to embroider and loose ends to sew/weave in. A fast, cute project to make, either as a gift for someone else or to grace a little nook in your own house. 😉

My eighth grader received her first smartphone this past Christmas, and since its measurements were nothing like her “dumb” phone, I needed (okay, really wanted) to make her a new phone carrier. She loves blue and eventually wants ombré walls in her bedroom, so I thought an ombré carrier might be a fun place to start. She loved the zipper feature on her old carrier, thus her new one couldn’t be without. The blossoms and branches were needle-felted after the carrier was felted in the washing machine.

 

I confess I was enamored with the result, and since most of my iPhone 5 carriers don’t fit my iPhone 6S (I was forced to make the switch this past summer when an update ruined my 5—snarl, grr), I figured it was a good excuse to knit a new carrier for me. One of these days, I’d like to change what I use for a handle, but for now, the chain is a quick, efficient, and reliable option.

 

IMG_2365Remember this travel bag I made the other year? I’m itching to make another one—smaller with different colors and a different flowered pattern. I found the flowered pic below on Pinterest and spent a good hour or more translating it onto graph paper. I had only knitted about seven or eight rows into it, however, when I remembered something very important about the knit stitch: it’s wider than it is tall…but I had used normal graph paper (i.e.: equilateral squares). If I continued knitting, my flowers would turn out looking squashed!

Sigh. So, I ordered knitting graph paper from Amazon, and while I waited for its delivery, I ripped back the intarsia rows. Not an easy feat when you’re dealing with different colored yarns twisted together (so there are no holes in the end product) and knotted at the beginning and end of a color. That was not a fun hour. At. All.

After transferring the pattern onto the knitting graph paper, I was ready to begin again—but my schedule wouldn’t allow it, as I had too many errands to run and packing for this trip to do. And because it would have been too much of a hassle to bring it with me to MA (myriad skeins of yarn requiring too much of my attention when I’m supposed to be visiting with people), I left it at home. Ah, well. Something to look forward to when I return, I suppose.

I pray the rapid approach of April finds you starting to thaw out from a frigid winter and able to enjoy some more pleasant days (although I heard MT got dumped with more snow yesterday). Any spring projects of your own you want to tackle soon? I’ve got a painting project up my sleeve (furniture, not canvas!), but it needs a string of warm days so I can work on it outside. Sounds that will have to wait a little bit longer… 😉

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What Do We Expect?

This started out as a Facebook post, but I changed my mind in the end. Did I take the coward’s way out? Maybe (although I did link this to my home page). FB is such a volatile place these days, I don’t want to add to it. But does that mean I stay completely silent? Sometimes, yes. This time, no. Will I get a backlash from some? Possibly. I have to take that risk.

First, let me say that what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida is horrific. As I read the newsfeed in the privacy of my home yesterday, I sobbed for the futility in it; I cried for the families who have needlessly lost loved ones. I prayed–and continue to pray–God shows up in amazing ways; that His presence is felt; that His children in the area and beyond pour out love and support to those hurting families; that in the end, it will be shown that good did triumph over this evil.

But I do have a question in light of the following…

*Since the early 1960’s, we’ve slowly but surely taken morals, values, ethics, and the sanctity of life out of schools.

*We’ve torn apart the foundations of the family unit.

*We’ve taught children that evolution is fact…which means, to be consistent with this belief, that people are nothing more than random particles stuck together…which then means people have no real purpose in life.

*We’ve allowed children access to video games that desensitize them to the act of hurting or killing a person (video games the military uses to desensitize their troops in the case s/he must take a human life).

*We’ve allowed little kids access to pornography through the internet, as well as R- and X-rated movies (Deadpool, anyone? Fifty Shades of Grey? No, I haven’t seen them. I don’t need to, to know their negative effects on a developing mind)…which means seeds have been planted for a future addiction to porn, a desensitization to sex, and warped thinking about women and sex, as these children grow into adults.

*We’ve taught teens that if it feels right, do it; abstinence is futile; girls need to put out; guys need to act on it; and we turn a blind eye to the sex-fest that goes on in many colleges & universities (dare I say all?). We hide the statistical repercussions for such behavior–emotional, mental, physical, spiritual–and then wonder why marriages and other relationships are falling apart. To top it off, once these kids grow up and enter the work force, or even worse, should they land a government job, we then penalize them for the very actions we once condoned.

*We’ve glorified Hollywood and its on-screen actors, most of whom live broken lives off-screen.

*We’ve encouraged the love of Self above Others with the tsunami of social media.

*We’ve taught children that all truth is relative…which means, to be consistent with this claim, that for some people, adultery is considered allowable; it’s their truth. Rape is considered allowable; it’s their truth. Stealing & lying? It’s fine; it’s their truth. Murder? Why not? People are just random particles stuck together, anyway, and it’s their truth. On and on I could go. Does this sound harsh? Not if we’re being consistent with relative truth. Who has the authority to say these things aren’t allowable, if there is no absolute truth? “But it’s against the law in this country.” Says who? The government? Who sets up the government? Man? What is man? We just learned man is nothing more than random particles stuck together. Where do random particles get the authority to tell other random particles what’s considered right and wrong? Let’s be consistent if we’re going to claim relative truth.

(Er…guess I touched upon one of my hot buttons with that last one.)

Here’s my question:

Given this kind of upbringing, what do we expect these younger generations to look like once they’ve reached adulthood?

Hint: They won’t look like law-abiding, respectful, considerate people.

If the adages are true, that “you reap what you sow,” and “you are what you eat,” then the older generations have sown disrespect, a lack of accountability, a lack of self-control and self-worth, dishonesty, hypocrisy, promiscuity, a sense of hopelessness, greasy grace, among so much more…and the younger generations have eaten from that harvest. We’re beginning to see the results. It will get worse.

It could get better—if we start by re-instilling those morals, values, ethics, sanctity of life, and yes, absolute truth. It starts there. (And I would argue it actually starts before that–with the Church on its knees.)

But are we willing to make the sacrifices required, in order to weave those threads back into the fabric of society and mend the brokenness?

Joy in Discipline?

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Welcome to 2018! Have you jumped aboard the bandwagon and chosen your word for this year yet? Last year, I chose the word purposeful, because I knew I had to be just that in how I used my time to get things accomplished between all the writing-related deadlines I had on my plate. Well, I met my deadlines, but I had to look back through my posts the other day and remind myself that I’d even chosen a word for 2017! What does that tell you? 😉

As I pondered this past year, full of extreme highs and some of the lowest of lows, two words sprang to mind for 2018. Discipline and Joy.

home-office-336377_1920Discipline in writing. After a year in which my old and new WIPs (works-in-progress) saw very little forward movement, my creative juices have begun to flow again—praise the Lord—and I must shift writing back near the top of my priorities. You see, it became easy this past year, sometimes necessary, to forgo my laptop in lieu of my knitting needles or a book or allow errands to swallow my days. Now I sense some internal resistance when I come to the laptop, even though ideas have begun to blossom in my mind. Traces of fear niggle at the back of it all. (Still? Yes. Ugh.) “What if I can’t get the words out?” “There’s an expectation now. What if my next book isn’t as good as the first?” “Um…will there even be a next book?” I’m trying to quell these little doubts; to keep them, well, little. I want, instead, to cling to what the Lord has shown me over the last six months—His love, His approval, His blessings—and move forward with confidence.

sports-1050966_1280Discipline in maintaining a healthy body. I’ve been fit much of my life and have a high metabolism, but I am in my forties now, and it’s become harder and harder over the last few years to motivate myself to go for a run or workout. And, sigh, I still don’t like my vegetables. 😉 But slacking off now is the last thing I should be doing if I want to see good health into my fifties and sixties. So…discipline. To get up at 5am to squeeze in a workout. Or put on those running shoes after I take my youngest to school in the mornings. To reach for that apple instead of the pretzels (c’mon, let’s be honest: the chips and salsa). Not much fun in the process—when is it ever fun to tell yourself “no” to something?—but I’ll be thanking myself later.

macaroni-2863299_1920Discipline in keeping house…and prepping for dinner. *embarrassed chuckle* Really, who wants to vacuum and mop floors, fold clothes, dust furniture, scrub bathrooms, and all the other nit-picky stuff I can’t remember at the moment, when I’m just getting back into a writing groove and there are new projects to knit and friends to hang out with and books to read and…and…and… And am I forgetting I wanted to be a mother and housewife? Hello! These duties are part of the job I’ve wanted ever since I was a kid. (Why, then, do they become more trying and annoying each year?) And while I might not enjoy cooking day in and day out, there are things I could do to make it easier on myself…and show hubby that I love him and appreciate him going to work day in and day out, providing us with a warm house and money for food and all the extra amenities we take for granted here in America. So, I’m pulling out my dusty copy of Sink Reflections, by the Fly Lady (anybody else remember that gem?), and I plan to implement her suggestions as I had done once before, years ago, to mild success. (Don’t ask me why I stopped, if it was a success. I don’t know!)

By now you’re probably thinking I forgot about my other word for 2018: Joy.

I didn’t.

Not only do I need discipline to accomplish these different things, I want to enjoy them while I do them. I want to write with joy. Clean with joy. Grocery shop with joy. Cook with joy (gasp!). Left on my own, I’m not a joyful person (probably why I gravitate toward people, books, movies, etc., who can make me laugh), but I want to be. I should be. Between the Bible and one of my girlfriends, I’m encouraged it can be done.

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First, James 1:5 tells us “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m thinking it would work that way for joy, as well. 😉 Second, my girlfriend tells the story of how her husband has always loved to hunt elk, but she used to hate eating the game meat he would bring home. In time, she came to see how her rejection of the meals he provided for the family hurt him at his core, and she began to pray that God would help her like the food her hubby provided. Once again, in time, God answered her prayers, and today she can honestly say she enjoys eating elk meat. She’s an inspiration to me in so many ways, so I figure if God can change her tastebuds, surely He can change my attitude when it comes to the mundane tasks of life, especially cooking dinners for my family.

That’s it. Discipline & Joy. Joy in discipline. Simple…but not easy. The two don’t have a natural connection most of the time, but for me in 2018, I pray they become so interwoven that by the end of the year, I can’t see their separation. (I’ll let you know how it goes.) 🙂

Happy New Year, everyone!

From Deserts to Green Pastures

I recently celebrated my 41st birthday, and as I reflect over a year that began with me stumbling into a writer’s desert, it looks like I might finish it out emerging onto fertile grasses. All glory to God, who never left my side through the dry and barren wasteland.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned…and pray I don’t forget anytime soon:

  1. God loves me. Even when (especially when) I throw an adult tantrum and tell Him I hate Him.
  2. While I’m quick to thank God when something good happens in my life, I shouldn’t be as quick to blame Him when something bad happens. At times, it’s just Life…and at other times, the devil’s trying to thwart the greater good God is working on in the background.
  3. Just because something is difficult for me doesn’t mean God doesn’t want me to pursue it. Specifically, just because it takes me more effort and time to finish a manuscript than another writer doesn’t mean I’m on the wrong path. Just because my head doesn’t swim with as many story ideas as other writers doesn’t mean I’m not a writer.
  4. No matter how many more books I write, no matter how Tinsel does, I’m a success simply because I fought against myself (and the devil) and won. Despite the depression and debilitating negative thinking, despite the dozens of rejections from agents and publishers, I slogged forward one step at a time and, with the Lord’s favor, I saw a childhood dream come true this fall with Tinsel’s release.
  5. Thanks to Priscilla Shirer’s Discerning the Voice of God, it finally sank into my thick skull that the Lord will never speak to me in a condemning voice. Ever. Thus, if my head is drowning in words of condemnation, I now know they stem from either my negative self-talk or the devil—and I’m encouraged to ignore both.

As Christmas approaches and a new calendar year creeps into view on the horizon, I look forward to enjoying more green pastures and less sandy dunes in 2018. I anticipate more words on the page, as well as a spirit of patience and peace on those days when the page stays blank. I pray for more of Jesus and less of the world, and the ability to discern between the two. 🙂

Thank you to everyone who bought an ebook and/or print copy of Tinsel in a Tangle over the last two months. I found out a few days ago it’s now available in audio format through Amazon, so I’m passing along that information in case you’re one of those people who get more reading done when you’re listening to, rather than looking at, the words. 😉

IMG_0754Tinsel and Niklas, at long last adorned with shoes and coats to keep them warm this time of year, want to wish you a blessed, Merry Christmas and an amazing New Year. I’ll “see” you again in 2018!

A BookSweeps Giveaway!

Hello, friends!

I have two things to share with you today.

First…thanks to so many of you, TINSEL IN A TANGLE made it to that monetary threshold and is coming out in paperback!! IMG_5515Paperback copies are actually available now online at Barnes & Noble and will be available later this week over at Amazon.com. The cherry on top? It’s also coming out in audio format in time for the holidays at Amazon, narrated by Angie Hickman. Yes, I am one happy, blessed little elf. Thank you to all who bought an ebook copy to bring me to this point. 🙂

Second, how about a little more fun to usher in this magical season? I’ve teamed up with 51 fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of inspirational romances to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a brand new eReader to the Grand Prize winner! You’ll also receive a collection of FREE ebooks just for entering. You could win a copy of TINSEL, plus books from authors like Susan May Warren and Robert Tate Miller. If you’re interested, simply enter the giveaway by clicking here: http://bit.ly/inspy-holidays-nov2017. Enjoy!

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It’s Book Release Day!

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Grab your copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iBooks.

Hi, everybody! Tinsel Kuchler here, to celebrate the release of Laurie’s book, Tinsel in a Tangle. Today, Laurie’s being highlighted on Kelsey Gillespy’s blog, but she asked me to read something for all of you, so here goes…

[Picks up sheet of paper and clears throat] “Starting today, everyone who has access to Kindles and Nooks (or their corresponding apps), and smartphones, laptops, and iBooks can read all about Tinsel’s misadventures and how she almost single-handedly ruined Christmas—”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold the mistletoe. [Stands, bracing hands on tabletop] What about the part Niklas played in all this? Just because he’s Santa’s grandson doesn’t mean he’s off the hook. And now that I think about it, is our close call something we want exposed to the public eye? Whose idea was this, anyway?

[Cocks an eyebrow] This smells of reindeer. Those meddling creatures. And after all the extra carrots I’ve fed them. Well, they’re in for quite a shock tomorrow during their flying lesson. I’m thinking pop quiz. And one hundred passes around the Workshop.

Roasted chestnuts, I’ve got to warn Santa about this. Just wait ’til I get my hands on Chip. [Heads for the exit, but stops at the door and turns around] Might want to swing by Kelsey’s blog, since I have to cut this short. Laurie dishes about the initial spark that prompted Tinsel in a Tangle, which one of her characters she’s most like (it’s not me), and much more. She also answers “This or That” questions, like: Read the book or watch the movie? Netflix or YouTube? Online shopping or Shopping in a Store?

[Waves with a smile] Hope you enjoy Tinsel. And if you do, we’d love it if you spread the word. We’ve got to reach that ebook sales threshold so those who can’t (or don’t) do ebooks will be able to enjoy the paperback version. Plus, the more sales, the more Laurie gets to donate to Agape International Missions. And who doesn’t love a good story about a clumsy elf and her Kringle—

I mean, a Kringle. Just a clumsy elf and a cute Kringle. No, not cute— [Cringes] Never mind. Gotta run! I have a reindeer to track down. [Flees the room]

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Chip: D’oh!

 

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Getting Off This Roller Coaster

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I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster these last few weeks and months. I must be rising toward the peak today, because I feel excited and jubilant, though I couldn’t tell you why. Nothing has physically changed in my life. My circumstances haven’t changed. But my view of some things is slowly changing. Maybe that’s the “why.”

If I’m on a roller coaster, then two Saturdays ago, I was at the lowest point of the deepest plunge, a place I hadn’t been in a long while. Although I hadn’t planned to write that day, I ended up with a little bit of time after breakfast and thought I’d quickly write for 30-45 minutes and pound out maybe 500 words or so. They didn’t have to be stellar words. Just something to slide me a little further along on my WIP. Easy, right?

I couldn’t do it.

It took an hour to wring less than 100 c.r.a.p.p.y words from my cottage-cheese of a brain. And then…time was up. Had to move on with my day. Tears pooling in my eyes, I stood, gathered my cleaning supplies, and as I started for the master bathroom, I began to pray for God’s help—

Wait a minute. His help? He’d had the last hour to help me, and He’d remained silent.

Something black and rancid shifted inside me. I dodged it before it became a full-fledged thought. Couldn’t go there. That wasn’t “Christian.”

Then again, God knew all my thoughts, so what was the point in avoiding what He already knew?

“I hate You, God.” The words rasped against my tongue as the nylon scrubber grated against the porcelain sink. “I hate You. I thought I was a writer. Didn’t You and I have some kind of heart-to-heart a few months ago where You pretty much confirmed I was on the path You wanted me to be? Then why has it been almost a year since I’ve written anything of significance?”

Oh, sure, I’d brainstormed, I’d mulled around different ideas, I’d written a couple thousand words over the last ten months…but none of those things were enough to produce the next book.

Why, God?” Scrub, scrub, scrub. “Whywhywhy did You give me a desire to write but not equip me with the ideas needed to fulfill it? You could have taken away this passion—I’ve begged You so many times to do just that—yet still, crafting stories is how I want to spend my days. So what’s the deal? What am I doing wrong?”*

In one breath, I said I hated him, in the next I asked for forgiveness, in the next I begged for help. I tore myself down, compared myself to others, and shook my fist at God.

I had probably cried for at least two hours by the time I sank to the bedroom floor, my chest aching, my body so empty, it should have caved in on itself. “God, help me. Help me.” Over and over, I repeated those words, incapable of much more than that.

Then my phone rang. Swiping at tears, I rose to grab my phone from the bed.

My father-in-law? Calling me? A tiny part of me hoped he hadn’t dialed by accident, intending to talk to his son, instead.

“Hey, there,” I answered, pushing all kinds of “happy” past the tears clogging my throat. “What’s up?”

Now this is a man who I’ve respected all my life, the one who’d been my pastor throughout my childhood and college years, before he moved on into a new ministry. When he talks about God, I listen. And when he shares the things God’s shown him, I lean in closer.

You know what he said to me that day?

“Laurie, I just called because God wanted me to tell you something. He wants you to know how much He loves you.” My father-in-law’s voice broke with emotion. “He loves you. You can’t please Him any more than you already do right now. He. Loves. You.”

It took longer than it probably should have, but eventually, the weight of his words caught up with me.

There I’d been, throwing my little private tantrum, telling the Creator of the Universe that I hated Him, but instead of smiting me (or spanking me and sending me into a time-out), He tapped my father-in-law’s shoulder and said, “Laurie needs to know I love her.”

God loves me. My Abba—Daddy—loved me in that ugly state, and because of my father-in-law’s sensitivity to His spirit and his willingness to obey, Abba was able to wrap me in a hug that day.

There’s nothing like a Dad’s hug to begin melting a stubborn heart.

Jesus has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, so I don’t have “before Christ” and “after Christ” snapshots of how I used to live and how He changed me. But this…this comes close to it for me. To tell the Creator-God I hated Him, and for Him to hug me in return? I don’t ever want to forget that.

I’m done with this emotional roller coaster ride. I’m getting off and driving a stake in the ground. Yes, there will be days I’ll falter and succumb to the fog of depression; there will be times I take three steps forward only to take two steps back; but may I never retreat farther than this stake today.

God loves me.

If He can love a hater,

If He can love a BFF that denied Him three times,

If He can love a zealous Jew bent on destroying followers of the Way,

If He can love a king who committed adultery and murdered an innocent soldier,

If He can love a coward with a speech problem,

If He can love a drunk,

If He can love and welcome into Paradise a thief on a cross,

If He can love and hang out with the fallen, the imperfect, the hopeless, the broken,

Then there is nothing stopping Him from loving you, too.

Now it’s time for us to own it and move forward, ever closer to Him.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39, NLT

 

(*Just want to point out my messed-up theology back there. My knee-jerk reaction when I’m stressed or depressed is to think (incorrectly) that God won’t bless me if I’m doing something wrong. Hello! Fallible human being here. I’m always going to do something wrong. God doesn’t withhold or dole out blessings based on our (in)ability to get something “right.”)