Saturday, May 23, 2009

In the absence of my love

Happy Memorial Day!

The hubby is off on a 4 day back-packing trip for Memorial Day weekend with some close guy friends. So I'm left to my own to catch up on some projects (including blogging!).

Here he is all excited the night before the big trip with his pack ready and his new water-proof hat on. (He was like a little boy ready for the first day of school!)

I thought I would share some of the stuff I have been working on since I have had so much time to catch up.

This is the beginning of my very first afghan! I've been scared to do such a big project because I get bored and impatient of doing the same thing. That is why I chose a pattern where I could switch colors often enough that it just might keep my interest.

I'm super excited about this project because I actually intend on keeping and using the afghan. Rarely do I ever make anything to keep for myself- almost 100% of the time, I crochet for gifts.
My husband was shocked when I told him it was for us, and I wasn't planning on giving it to anyone. So, let me know what you think- I'd like to maybe try this again with another color combination as well. This is from Bernat's website collection of free crochet patterns- called the Zig-zag afghan.

This friendly little owl is going to be a gift for my sister-in-law for graduation. The pattern for him is from Lion Brand Yarn's website. (found here- I need a name for him though...I was also thinking about making a tiny little diploma for him too.

What do you think??

Lastly I'd like to give a little advice to those crocheters who aren't so good at making up their own patterns for things- Go to Bernat and Lion Brand Yarn's websites. Get signed up as a member- IT'S FREE! And you can start downloading hundreds of free patterns! Trust me, there's a lot of great stuff out there. :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Means of Grace

I thought I would share a very special story that recently had a beautiful ending in mine and my husband's life. About 2 months ago Michael and I were thrown a terrible curve ball as Michael got terribly sick and ended up in the ICU within 8 hours of first showing symptoms.

It all started with me leaving town to help my mom with her private voice studio. I drove 2 hours away to my home town and was about to have dinner with my parents when I got a phone call from one of my husband's good friends. He simply said he was in the emergency room with my husband and needed his social security # because Michael was too busy puking to fill out the necessary paperwork. It turns out Michael had been vomiting for 3 hrs straight at this point and the friend couldn't fill out the paperwork not because Michael was puking, but because Michael had no idea what his address, social security number, phone number and other things were- he was incapable of answering such questions

In the mean time, I assumed it was some sort of really bad case of food poisoning, packed up and left my parents for the 2 hour drive home. This whole drive I tried to keep calm, thinking he must just need an IV to rehydrate, and we would be home that night. Michael got hooked up immediately to all sorts of things including an IV as well as different antibiotics to fight the doctor's number one suspicion at the emergency room- that he had meningitis. He was given a spinal tap, draining his spinal fluid to test for meningitis, and also an MRI by the time I arrived at the emergency room.

It was such a strange thing to see the man I loved so very far from how I left him. He was on a bed, writhing in pain from a migraine, puking every 5 minutes, and speaking as if he had just had a stroke. At some points he was better than others, but there were times when his motor skills to speak the thoughts he had were completely gone and he couldn't ask for something as simple as a paper towel to wipe the vomit from his chin. I was terrified, overwhelmed, and so confused as to why this was all happening to us- so quickly and so scary!

The doctors came in to inspect his symptoms, and said they had suspected it was meningitis, but the spinal fluid came back normal, so now they were just puzzled. The moved him to ICU for overnight, and I called both my mother and mother-in-law asking them to come help me. I had absolutely no idea what to do, what to tell the doctors, and I was the closest relative.

After the first night in the ICU, another MRI and a CT scan, Michael improved. Around 3 in the morning I was able to go in and see him, and he started speaking more like himself. One of the first signs that he was going to be alright was when he looked over at me and winked. I knew he was still in there somewhere. Nurses were great to us in the ICU, and while I was very relieved that doctors thought he was well enough to be moved to a regular hospital room, I was sad to leave the wonderful care of those nurses.

In the meantime, we had a huge outpouring of love, prayers and concern from family members, friends, and our church. My mothers both came to keep my company and help me stay sane in the hospital. Doctors still had no idea what suddenly struck Michael, but after one more night in a regular hospital room Michael was released with no diagnosis.

His official list of symptoms included a terrible debilitating migraine, nausea, vomiting, fever, elevated white blood cell count, and confusion.

Doctors best guess- A complex migraine?

We went home and I did my best to convince Michael to take it easy and take as much time as he needed to fully recover. We prayed knowing that eventually the bills from that horrible 72 hours would arrive and begin to pile up. Many were very worried for us because we do not have health insurance. My husband works as a paid intern at a farm credit union, but gets no benefits, no health insurance, not even vacation days. So, we put our faith in the Lord and asked all those who prayed for Michael's health to pray for God's provision for the bills.

Sure enough, in the coming months, bill after bill after bill arrived in the mail. We contacted the hospital to ask if there was anything, any program that could help people in our position. First the bad news came that we weren't eligible for State funding. Next news was somewhat hopeful as we were informed that there was a program- "In House Funding" from the hospital itself, we are eligible for with our low income. Now came time for filling out the application, coming up with the necessary proof of income, and then the long, arduous wait for the application to go through committees.

In the meantime, our community gave us so much support and love. Several times we were given money, a couple times anonymously from our church. Our pastors prayed faithfully that our bill would be forgiven.

We waited as patiently as possible for the news to arrive until about 2 weeks ago- the letter arrived just as we were heading out for a bbq with some friends from church. I'll never forget the joy and relief I felt as I skimmed to see the words "forgiven 100%" and "bill: O$". In total, around 20k just wiped clean. God is SO faithful to provide! Not only was my husband healthy, but now we owed not a penny for the whole horrible event.

So why is this blog titled, "A Means of Grace"...? Well even though that whole ordeal was frightening and stressful, the Lord has been teaching me a lot about how his grace is most sweet when we truly need it. I love this quote from a commentary on Ruth: "It is the grace of God, which directs the outcomes of those decisions and events according to his sovereignty and good purpose for his people. That grace is not always evident to the players in the game at the time. But it is always there, whether acknowledged or unacknowledged. Ultimately, for Christians, the grace of God is always the defining element of our lives."
You see, because of this event in my life, I now have an increased measure of faith in God as my provider, healer, and comforter. I have seen his grace working to bring me to a low place where I have nothing and do not know what else to do but fall upon his grace.

I praise the Lord that he is more than capable to use the bad for good. He is always working for the good purpose for his people.

Romans 8:28
" And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are callen according to his purpose."

Monday, May 4, 2009

my trip to Michaels

When one starts having dreams about using their Michael's craft store gift cards to purchase yarn and scrap booking supplies, you get the idea they might be a little obsessed. Well that's me. The other night I had the glorious dream that a gift card I had for Michael's in real life and in my dream was worth 55$. I had to find out by making a conservative purchase...I think it was 3 skeins of yarn for 3 bucks each and check the balance left on the receipt. When I did this, I found out the value of the card and promptly freaked out realizing I also had a 40% off coupon (which I had in real life too). I went down isle after isle throwing yarn into my basket and found myself to be immensely happy.

I woke up only to realize it was a dream. However, the real part- that fact that I did have a coupon, did have a gift card (still didn't know how much was on it), and was going to Michael's with a friend- made me feel a little better.

Later that day I had asked the friend who gave me the gift card how much it was worth. I nearly died laughing when he told me 50$. I thought, my husband must have told him about my dream. So I asked, and of course, he was serious. I really had 50$ to spend at Michaels!

All this to say- my dream was very accurate! I ended up spending 54.92 and went away with a huge lute of goodies for me to craft away! Here is all I bought:

And, I've already started my next project with the yarn I bought. It's going to be a blanket for my neice. I got the pattern of Lion Brand's site.

Lion Brand® Vanna's Choice® Baby


One Square = 4 in. (10 cm) BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE. When you match the gauge in a pattern, your project will be the size specified in the pattern and the materials specified in the pattern will be sufficient. If it takes you fewer stitches and rows to make a 4 in. [10 cm] square, try using a smaller size hook or needles; if more stitches and rows, try a larger size hook or needles.

Square A (make 28)
With A, ch 4. Join with a sl st in first ch to form a ring.
Round 1: Ch 3 (counts as first dc here and throughout), 2 dc in ring, *ch 1, 3 dc in ring, rep from * 2 more times, ch 1, join with sl st in top of beg ch. Fasten off A.
Round 2: Join B with sl st in any ch-1 sp, ch 3, (2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in same sp, *ch 1, (3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in next ch-1 sp, rep from * 2 more times, ch 1; join with sl st in top of beg ch. Fasten off B.
Round 3: Join C with sl st in any ch-2 sp, ch 3 (2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in same sp, *ch 1, 3 dc in next ch-1 sp, ch 1, (3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in next ch-2 sp, rep from * 2 more times, ch 1, 3 dc in next ch-1 sp, ch 1; join with sl st in top of beg ch. Fasten off C. Square B (make 28)
With C, ch 4. Join with a sl st in first ch to form a ring.
Round 1: Ch 3 (counts as first dc here and throughout), 2 dc in ring, *ch 1, 3 dc in ring, rep from * 2 more times, ch 1; join with sl st at top of beg ch. Fasten off C.
Round 2: Join B with sl st in any ch-1 sp, ch 3, (2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in same sp, *ch 1, (3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in next ch-1 sp, rep from * 2 more times, ch 1; join with sl st in top of beg ch. Fasten off B.
Round 3: Join A with sl st in any ch-2 sp, ch 3 (2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in same sp, *ch 1, 3 dc in next ch-1 sp, ch 1, (3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in next ch-2 sp, rep from * 2 more times, ch 1, 3 dc in next ch-1 sp, ch 1; join with sl st in top of beg ch. Fasten off A. FINISHING Strip 1 (make 4)
Beg and ending with Square A and alternating Squares A and B, sew 7 Squares into a strip.
Strip 2 (make 4)
Beg and ending with Square B and alter nating Squares B and A, sew 7 Squares into a strip.
Sew strips together along long sides, alternating Strip 1 and Strip 2.
From right side, join C with sl st anywhere along edge of Afghan. Ch 3. Dc evenly around, working 3 dc in each corner; join with sl st in top of beg ch. Fasten off.
Weave in ends.
Click for explanation and illustration
beg = begin(s)(ning) ch(s) = chain(s)
dc = double crochet sl st = slip stitch
sp(s) = space(s)

So here's some of my progress on it. It actually crochets up really quick!