Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dealings With Feelings

On the short list of things I am really good at is this: getting my feelings hurt.


I guess this hypersensitivity is the flip side of being able to sense people's secrets across a crowded room and of laughing out loud at subtle humor in novels.

Paul, for example, rarely gets his feelings hurt.  But then, he doesn't enjoy funny stories like I do, or feel deep raptures over apple blossoms against a blue sky.

So.  I often get my feelings hurt, and then I have to decide:

What do I do now?

I'm a Christian, that changes the rules for these things.

And I want to follow Scripture.

So, somebody says or does something hurtful.

Of course I'm supposed to forgive.

And I shouldn't spread it abroad but of course it's ok to share it privately with people close to me who can help, like my husband, daughters, sisters, sisters-in-law, a friend or two, an aunt or two, and my counselor.

[Kidding, I hope you realize.]

But then what?

Do I drop it and move on and try to laugh about it?

Or do I say something to the offender?

That is the big question for me.

Confronting is one of the hardest jobs ever.
Letting it go can mean you're avoiding the tough issues.

A few insights:

"Drop it" is for situations where:
--I'll never see the person again.
--It won't change who they are and how they operate.
--They don't want to know.

"Say something" is for situations where:
--I know they'd want to know.
--We will continue to see each other, especially when we have to work together.
--This damages our relationship, and our relationship is important to me.
--I want to protect other people they may be doing this to.

We have Proverbs19:11 NIV
"A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense."

And then we have Matthew 5:23-24, which is kind of the reverse situation but I think it applies in terms of relationships and reconciliation.

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. is still very very hard sometimes to know what to do.

How do you know if you have a valid concern or you're just being whiny and wimpy?

Is it worth the very real risk that they won't hear you and it'll become a much bigger deal than it ought?

Also, so many factors weigh in: someone in authority vs. a peer; family vs. friend, male vs. female, and so on.

And: healthy vs. unhealthy boundaries, going the second mile vs. making it easy for someone to sin, etc.

Yes, I'm facing such a situation and I wish there were easy and obvious answers.

I do know this: Personally, I like to be told. It's a sign that people trust me and that they understand that I know I make lots of mistakes and say things wrong, but I'm open to changing.

A while back a woman told me that whenever I see her, I ask her [details changed here] "How is teaching going this year?" and it is very hurtful and she wishes I'd ask, "How are YOU?"

Well of course I felt bad, but I was so so so happy and relieved that she felt safe in telling me, and she knew I'd want to know, and she trusted that I would do my best to change.

That part made me very happy.

Because we all know the sad hopelessness of a person who goes around wounding people all the time, and we know there's no reason to even try talking to them, because they won't change.

Meanwhile, I still have my situation, and there are no obvious answers.  I was deeply hurt, and I have a feeling I wasn't the first nor will I be the last.

But I don't see the hurter that often.

But I WILL have to talk to him/her again, I know that.

We might even have to work together, which would be much easier if this could be addressed.

Not to mention that I'm now afraid to be around him/her.

But it might become a huge deal if I bring it up.

And they didn't mean to be hurtful--but then hurters always say that.

Paul says he supports me either way.

How do others decide these things?  How do YOU?

That's what I'd like to know.

And let me hasten to say, it wasn't you who hurt my feelings.  I'm quite sure That Person never stops by the Shoe.

Quote of the Day:
[while making food with my friend Sharon and four teenage helpers at the ACE Junior Convention last week, just after Steven threw a wet dishcloth at Sharon]
Sharon: STEVEN...?!  Help me out--I need a middle name!
Me: Ochieng.
Sharon: That's too complicated!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


13 years ago, Jenny was born and two days later Matt turned 13.  Now she's the mischievous teenager and he's twice her age.  I am blessed to be their mom.

 Of course we couldn't have a party without setting something on fire.

Then Matt gave Emily his old Droid and she was happy.

Quote of the Day:
"I'd just as soon that story didn't get told around."
--Matt, who now regrets some of his actions at age 13

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

More Minnesota Moments

1. I listened to the weather report a few times in the car the other day, and the reporters always used the word "breezy." "51 degrees and breezy in central Minnesota this afternoon." Ok, great. Breezes are nice. I stopped to get the mail at the end of Mom and Dad's lane. I opened the car door and WHOOSH, the door whipped open and when I stepped out I felt like I was going to get swept off my feet. Was this Midwestern understatement or do they use the term differently in Minnesota?

2. Here at the airport, the TSA guy looked at my license and then at me and said, "Old German Baptist?" I said, "No, Mennonite."
He said, "Oh. Last week there was a woman like you and I said, 'Mennonite?' and she said, "No, Old German Baptist."

3. There is no shade of green in the universe quite like new leaves in spring on Minnesota birch trees.

4. Wally at Teal's Market gave my mom and dad a $100 gift certificate for groceries, just because he likes them.

5. Everyone around Mom and Dad's neck of the woods just loves them. And Mom and Dad love them back. Let's all follow this example.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Minnesota Moments

Once again I am visiting The Folks and having many Minnesota moments.

1. Well, this is one I DIDN'T have, for once. I rented a car when I arrived, as always, but it wasn't red this time, so I didn't get stopped for speeding on Highway 55. It was, however, almost brand new. Less than 800 miles on it.

2. As always I listened to the radio to stay awake on that 2-hour drive, so I got my fill of Catholic Answers and hog prices and wheat futures. And that great accent. Someday you really have to hear a mid-Minnesota guy say, "And you can find us at McKay's dot com on your smart phone."

3. Almost 70 degrees outside and Dad, age 95, hauls in a wheelbarrow load of wood and fires up the wood stove like it's January in the Klondike. This makes him contented and happy and is part of the reason he's this spry at this age, I'm sure.

4. Driving to the library I saw a big garter snake on the road. It was crawling. Thankfully I didn't swerve that brand new rental car into the ditch. I just tried to still my beating heart as I imagined scenarios for how a garter snake could possibly get into the car while it's parked at Mom and Dad's, and thought that that wrinkle in my skirt felt like I was sitting on a garter snake.

5. Here at the library I had trouble logging onto the internet so the two nice ladies at the front desk helped me. Oh! Are you that writer? You're from Oregon, aren't you? [And other nice words that made me feel like a celebrity. Goodness. It's been years since I had a signing here but they acted like it was last week. I need to come here more often.]

6. When I arrived, Mom had dinner ready to welcome me home. Baked chicken, macaroni and cheese, homemade applesauce, homemade buns, homemade jelly, home canned green beans, frozen peaches, homemade cookies from Anna. I see about 39 ways that I am becoming my mother, but I don't think I'll cook like that at age 91, even when the kids come home. Sorry, guys.

7. I flicked about 8 ladybugs off the bed before I turned off the light. Last year at this time it was more like 8 dozen, so maybe they're dying off at last.

8. After I'm done here at the library I get to go see some of my high school classmates at Donna's house. Good times.

9. A toddler was having a tantrum here in the library and on the way out the door, the mom spanked her and no one batted an eyelash. We are definitely in Minnesota, people, and not in Oregon.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mending Jeans the Old-fashioned Way

I am going to show you how to mend jeans.

Recently Steven was wearing a still-pretty-nice pair of jeans and somehow ripped an L-shaped hole in the knee.

So I decided to mend them as I was taught by my mom, who over the years raised three boys on a farm and mended countless torn jean-knees. I think she even patched patches at times.

After I had a little boy who wore out knees, I asked her to teach me how to patch pants.

There's something very satisfying about taking a comfortable, torn, pair of jeans and making them all neat and mended.

It's even more satisfying when you can say, "I am mending pants," in Pennsylvania German. "Ich bin am hossa flicka," or "Eeehhh* bin ahm hossa flicka."

*deep H sounds from the back of your throat

So: a tutorial, in case you would like to learn this skill as well. And a note: there are a number of ways to mend jeans. This is only one of them.

You will need:

1. a stash of denim pieces. Start collecting these long before you have anything to mend. If you throw out a worn pair of jeans, cut out a few sections from the back of the leg--usually the fabric is still good there. Or save the bottom part of the legs when you make cut-offs.

2. A good sharp sturdy needle

3. A thimble, if you like. Mom ALWAYS used a thimble for "flicking" but I've never learned how to do it "chite," i.e., as it ought to be done.

4. Thread. Surprisingly, gray thread is the most invisible on blue denim. I used beading thread because it's so thick and tough, but it's also very obvious. But that doesn't matter if you're going to wear the jeans for sacking seed, and also the stitches show up better on pictures for a tutorial.

5. Scissors and pins.

This is what you do:

1. Turn the pant leg inside out and lay it flat on a table or ironing board. As you can see, this was a pretty clean tear, but this method works for worn-through knees as well.

2. Find a piece of denim from your stash that's close in color and weight to the torn pants.

3. Cut this scrap piece of denim about 2 inches bigger all around than your hole. The exception to this is side seams--it's much easier if you don't have to maneuver around seams, so in that case, less than 2 inches is fine.

4. Serge around the edges of the patch.

5. Lay the patch right-side-down on the hole and pin all around the edge.

6. Prep your needle and thread. You don't want a long tangly piece of thread, so start with a piece maybe 30 inches long and knot the ends together so you're working with a double thread.

7. Put one hand inside the pant leg and with the other, take running stitches all around the outside edge of the patch, just inside the serging. 1/4 inch stitches are fine. You can also go with tiny stitches on the right side and longer stitches on the inside, if you want it to look a little more discreet.
(Note needle in upper right corner. That fold on the left is my left hand inside the pant leg, holding things in place and making sure I don't sew through to the back of the leg.)

Keep going, all the way around the edge of the patch.

Unpin as you go.

8. Turn the pant leg right-side-out. I didn't get a good picture of what it should look like at this point but you'll get the idea from the next shots.

9. Next you get to play surgeon. Your patient got gangrene and you get to cut away the dead flesh. So snip away--all the frayed areas and worn-thin spots and loose threads.
Go ahead. Cut.

10. Now you want to turn under all those raw edges around the patch about 1/4 inch and pin them in place.
Turn under, pin. Repeat.

When you get to a curve or corner, cut a little snip so it'll turn under nice and neat.
You'll have to keep one hand up the pant leg to do the pinning. Every so often, pull your hand out and lay things out flat to make sure you're not bunching or twisting things as you go.

11. Thread your needle again and take little "invisible" stitches all around, sewing the edges of the hole to the patch underneath. Again, keep one hand up the inside of the pant leg. And pull it out every so often to make sure things are still on course. It's very easy to shift and tuck but it's not the end of the world if this happens.

This takes a while, so it's a good activity for when you're going somewhere and someone else is driving.

Finally you'll be all the way around. Take a few stitches on top of each other to secure the thread and snip it off. Make sure you pull all the pins or the wearer will never trust you again.

And you're done!
My mother would be proud of you.

Here's me and my mom.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Easter Egg Directions

How to dye Easter eggs, as demonstrated by Jenny:

1. Remind Mom 24 times to get a kit for dyeing eggs. Say please.

2. Thank Mom for remembering to get the kit. Cook some eggs. Assemble the supplies. Wear an old shirt.

3. Call your sister to come help you. Say, "Emily, prepare to dye!"

4. Get creative with the wax pencil and those little donut stickers in the desk drawer, you know, for reinforcing the holes on notebook pages.

5. Have fun.
6. When the eggs are all dyed, use some of the leftover colors to tie-dye a t-shirt.

7. Ask Mom what to do with the dye that's left. She'll tell you to dump it outside. Go out on the porch and dump it over the porch rail into the flower beds.

8. Don't notice until it's too late that Steven's cat, River, is prowling around in the flower bed.

(btw, Jenny got the cats a nice dish from the Dollar Store for Christmas, lest you think they're eating out of my Sunday Jello dish.)

9. Give some pretty eggs to your Girls-Club Adopted-Grandma at church.

10. Let Dad eat the eggs that didn't turn out.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Wrong Address

This is for everyone who gets these posts on FeedBlitz--I had a typo in the email address in the last post, so if you sent a note there, please re-send it to this one:

(Thanks, Ellen Gerig!)

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Column on Getting Rid of Books, or Not

Today's column took off of my post about getting rid of books.

You can find it here.

I've had some computer and email troubles lately, and a bunch of email addresses are gone. If you're on my list of people who get my column by email every month, and you don't get them any more, please let me know --

Or if this happened to someone you know, please send them my way.

P.S--I had a typo in the email address which I've just corrected. If you sent an email to the wrong one, please re-send it--sorry about that.