Book Review: Talking With God:What to Say When You Don’t Know How to Pray

As I continue on my faith journey I am always trying to improve my relationship with God. Praying is how we talk to Him, but am I doing it right? Is there one better way to do it than another? If I talk to Him in the car is that not going to make as great of an impact as it would if I were kneeling behind a pew? These are the things that I think about when it comes to praying, so when I saw Adam Weber’s book, Talking With God, I knew that I wanted to read it. After all, in the title he says he’s going to tell us what to say when we don’t know what to pray. Great!

Adam Weber is a pastor in South Dakota so if anybody would know how to pray, it would be him, right? If you want to know how to unclog a drain you go to a plumber; if you want to know how to pray you go to a pastor. Yet, in the introduction to the book Mr. Weber is broaching this very topic regarding the pastor has prayer all figured out. “I can’t speak for others, but I know I don’t. And I’m paid to know this kind of thing.” It was that honesty that intrigued me and kept me reading.

If you’re looking for a straight-forward How To book on prayer, this isn’t for you. Instead Mr. Weber leads us through various situations to show us the different forms that prayer can take in our lives. Prayer is so personal to all of us and nobody does it the same. God loves us and wants us to talk with Him in whatever way we can. For me it might mean a rambling conversation in the car on my way to work, or perhaps sitting at the piano and singing. Another person might feel more comfortable praying the Rosary or just sitting in a quiet church. As long as we’re talking, that’s all that matters. This is the point that Mr. Weber makes in his book.

The book is separated into four sections: The God We Talk With, The Way We Pray, How to Pray When…, and Only the Beginning. In a way you are taking a trip with Mr. Weber as he explains the evolution of his own prayer life and how he has approached it. While sharing a lot of personal faith-building stories he also shows how some of the more familiar stories of the Bible illustrate the God who loves us and what He expects from us in the way of prayer. In fact, on page 36 Mr. Weber writes about the story of the Prodigal Son that is found in Luke. In this section he says, “The truly good news about God is this: No matter how far we are away from home, no matter how long we’ve been away from God’s side – days, months, years, a lifetime, even if we’ve walked away from him, if we’ve been out looking for life on our own, if we haven’t talked with God in years, or ever – we can still come home any time. We can still speak with him.” God never says ‘I told you so’ when this happens. Instead, He opens His arms and embraces us with all of His love. Why? Because we were lost and now we are found.

This book was an easy and enjoyable read. I was able to get through it in just a few days. The great thing about this is that it doesn’t mean that it’s full of fluff. In fact, this book has so much for you to chew on that even a few weeks later I’m still picking it up and turning to various parts to re-read and think about on a deeper level. Mr. Weber keeps it simple and honest. There’s nothing fancy or technical in this book. Instead, he sits on our level and talks to us about God and how much He wants to hear from us. It’s like talking to a friend about God. I highly recommend this book to anybody who is even slightly curious about prayer or about our relationship with God. This book has a permanent place on my bookshelf.

As a disclaimer, I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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Project Linus Blanket #4

The fourth blanket that I’ve crocheted is another Ripple afghan. I’m calling it “1990”

When I saw the florescent-colored variegated yarn I was instantly transported back to the early ’90s when neon colors were all the rage. I tried looking for some pictures, but I think that they must be at my parents’ house. My best friend, Pauline, and I had a lot of neon-colored clothing and accessories. These were the days when I was wearing big teased bangs and fashion glasses. I was styling!

I wasn’t sure how the colors would work, but Jay says that it looks good. I just hope that whoever receives it really loves it. I can see Pauline and I loving this afghan as teenagers.

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Holy Woodworking – Ash Wednesday Crosses

This is the third post in a row that is about something woodworking-related, but that’s what has been taking up most of our spare time. So I apologize if you are getting bored. I promise the next one won’t have anything to do with wood or Jay’s workshop.

By now all of you are getting tired of hearing about the Advent Wreath Stand that we made for church. Do you remember that we had three pews to use?

wreath-stand-church-pewsIf I remember correctly we had only used about two of these for the wreath stand. Since we still had so much left we volunteered to make the little tchotchkes that are given out on Ash Wednesday in our church. These tchotchkes are a physical symbol and reminder of Lent and all that we are called to do during this time of fasting, praying and alms-giving. Again, knowing how much it would mean to the parish to have a piece of the old church with them during Lent we cut out crosses from this wood.

pew-wood-for-crossesWe started out with the bigger pieces, pictured here on the left, but we didn’t want crosses that thick as they were supposed to fit nicely in your pocket. So Jay cut the boards into 4″x20″ planks, and then we ran them through the table saw to cut the thickness in half (the pieces on the right).

pew-plank-for-crossesJay designed the cross and used the CNC router to cut them out. Our friend Dave was sent a copy of the file so that he could cut out some crosses, too. When I asked how many we would need I was told around 250. I believe that between Jay and Dave we had almost 300. That extra little cushion made me feel better so that everybody could get one.

cnc-routing-pew-crossesJay was able to fit 7 on each 4″ x 20″ plank. He discussed with Dave the layout and they made sure that the grain was running in the same direction on all of the crosses.

pew-crosses-routedBy the way, this creates a LOT of sawdust!

Jay didn’t cut all the way through the planks because he didn’t want the crosses to come loose and fly off. This meant that after the router was done he would take the plank over to the band saw and finish cutting them out.

rough-pew-crosses-2-21-17This left the crosses a bit rough. Yikes! I wouldn’t want to stick one of those in my pocket. Thank goodness for the Uppie-Downie sander! Or, for the more technically minded, the Spindle Sander. After Jay had cut out a bunch of crosses I went into his workshop and was shocked…

holy-scrap-2-21-17Holy scrap!!

For as beautiful as the crosses turned out there was more excess material than I realized. Since this is blessed wood we don’t dare just toss it. So, we will have a few fires this summer to properly dispose of it. And I might make some fire-starters with the holy sawdust, too.

Once Jay was finished doing the rough sanding the crosses then went to the finishing department.

box-of-crosses-2-7-17That looks like a lot, but isn’t even a quarter of what we needed.

cross-sanding-stationIn the finishing department I tried various strategies to make the process quick and easy. Due to my anal tendencies and perfectionist nature, however, I ended up settling on a very manual process. I started with 150 grit sandpaper and smoothed the front, back, edges, and broke the corners. Once the edges had reached the level of smoothness that I required I would then pull out the 220 grit and give the whole thing a final go over. It was a tedious and hand-hurting process. We ended up taking over half of the crosses to our Small Faith group and asked them to take them home to do some sanding. The group was more than happy to help out, but I still had more at home to sand.

finished-crosses-2-27-17Dave had an easier sanding process (his are in the plastic bag). He had made his own “mop” sander that he put on this drill press. That’s how he sanded all of his crosses. Last weekend I think that I had 51 crosses left to sand. It took me a total of 10 hours to do them all.. 2 hours Friday, 3 hours on Saturday, and 5 on Sunday. Needless to say, on Monday my wrist and hands were not very happy at all. I didn’t dare crochet for a few days in order to give my wrists a chance to rest.

It all ended up being worth it.

crosses-in-baptismal-fontOur church had an Ash Wednesday service at 8:30 a.m. and another one at 7 p.m. I was told that people were very happy when they found out the crosses were made from their old pews.

crosses-ready-for-ash-wednesday-3-1-17Aren’t they beautiful?

Some of the crosses are darker because Dave used some butcher block oil on them to see how it would turn out. I liked the look, but we didn’t have the time to do it to all of them since we were just getting the balance of the crosses back from the Small Faith group two days before they were needed. The oil would never have dried in time. But that’s okay. Each cross is different, just like us. Some are rougher around the edges and some are darker. There are crosses that have holes in them from where the pews were screwed together. One cross had a nice knot in the corner of one of the arms.

The only bad thing is that we ran out of crosses that night. I figured we would be golden since we’d made more than the number we’d been given as a guide. We think that when people found out that they were made of the old pews they took extras. Perhaps for themselves or family members who weren’t there. Either way, I was upset that some people didn’t get one. I ended up giving my cross away to a girl who hadn’t received one. And Jay’s grandma wasn’t able to make the service that night so he gave his cross to her.

Knowing all of this Jay and I have another project in mind to use up a good chunk of the wood that is left. We would feel guilty using it for our own purposes and feel that it should be given back to the Parish. So, you’ll have to stand by to see if our idea comes to fruition and just what we end up doing with it!

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Workshop Happenings – AT-AT and Chairs

wreath-stand-prepping-for-hardwareIf you’ve read my blog then you know that Jay hasn’t been spending too much time playing with the planes or trains (or automobiles). Instead he’s been spending a lot of time building things out of old pews and pine wood. He helped a coworker build an aquarium stand a few weeks ago. What else has he been doing?

led-basement-lightsWe had florescent lights in the basement that were really starting to annoy us. I prefer the light from LEDs, and Jay has quite a few rolls of LED lights so he decided to turn the florescent fixtures into LED fixtures. I like it a LOT better down there because it seems to be a lot brighter and you don’t have the humming or flickering of the bulbs.

led-basement-light-wiringAs you can kind of see in this picture he just stuck the strips of lights to the fixture, used some jumper wires to tie them together, and then did whatever he had to do to put power to them. He did have to remove the side flares on the fixtures so that the light can spread out more, but that’s about all of the modification the fixture needed.

I told Jay that I didn’t want him to buy me anything for Valentine’s Day. I don’t need candy, the card just gets thrown away and I end up cleaning the flower-infused puke piles off of the floor after the cats have chewed on them. The guys at work were giving him a hard time, telling him that I didn’t really mean it. Well, yes, I did. However, instead of buying me anything he made me this:

wooden-conversation-heartIt’s a wooden conversation heart!! Just as sweet, but won’t go to your hips!

Then in a recent issue of a magazine that we subscribe to Jay saw plans for some deck chairs. He wanted to see if he could build one and how it would turn out.

fire-pit-chair-2-21-17He did a great job! He quickly built a second chair with plans for two more. We will put these out by our fire pit area in the summer (once I get it fixed!).

side-of-fire-pit-chair-2-21-17These are really comfy. They are almost better than Adirondack chairs because it doesn’t take as much ‘oomph’ to get out of them. I just have to stain and finish them, then get some nice cushions.

What else has Jay been building?

at-at-planter-2-21-17An AT-AT planter! No, this one isn’t wearing Crocs.

For Christmas I bought an AT-AT rocking horse pattern with the idea that Jay could use the basic plans to build whatever he wanted with them. My thought was a couple of flower pot holders for the front porch. Won’t these be cute standing on the front porch??

at-at-fogged-out-2-21-17Uh-oh… the fog is rolling in.

at-at-in-fog-2-21-17Apparently it’s time to head in before things get too scary.

Great job, Jay!

jay-in-his-chair-2-21-17

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A Quilt Rack for Babe

Babe, Droof and IThis is my mom. My sister and I call her Babe. Last year when Babe and I went to the quilt show  she saw a quilt rack that she really liked. I took a picture of it so that I could reference it later. This year for her birthday I asked Jay if he could make her a quilt rack that looked similar, but had much bigger dimensions. My mom makes a lot of quilts and sometimes runs out of room for all of them. At Christmas she had stacked four or five of them on the dogs’ crates just to put them somewhere. I thought that if she had a quilt rack she could either use it to display her already made quilts, or even to hold some of the quilts that she has in process.

rungsIn my last post I teased the above picture. Since Babe reads my blog I didn’t want her to easily guess what we were making before I had a chance to give it to her. Last weekend I made a trip to deliver it.

babes-quilt-rack-frontWhat do you think?

I told Jay that it had to be sturdy enough that it could handle a lot of weight on it. She has a long arm quilter that easily handles king-sized quilts, so she needs a quilt rack to go along with it.

babes-quilt-rack-sideThis picture is a little wonky, but I was up against a wall trying to take it. You can see that it doesn’t stick out too far. I didn’t want it to take up too much room or be something that you would trip over. I can’t recall how tall it is… around 6′ I think.

babes-quilt-rack-filledOnce we had the quilt rack in place it didn’t take long to fill. The bottom three are queen size (I think!) and the top one is a king. These are all scrap quilts.

Babe's Treadle Singer MachineThey are sewn together on Babe’s favorite machine, which is a treadle machine. This is in the living room so it doesn’t make a lot of noise when my dad’s watching TV (in case you’re wondering, we call him ‘Father’, not ‘dad’ or anything like that).

Babe's Long Arm QuilterThen she uses her long arm quilter to do all of the quilting.

Babe's Quilt made with TreadelHere’s another quilt that she made.

As you can see, the quilt rack definitely won’t go unused! I just hope that she really likes it. Jay enjoyed designing and constructing it, and I had the pleasure of making her a gift instead of just buying it. It was either the quilt rack or a macaroni necklace. Hopefully I chose correctly!

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Dave’s Bag

dave-pThis is Dave.

Dave sits behind me in choir.

Dave had a hard time keeping his music organized.

My gift to Dave this Christmas was to organize his music into binders and page protectors. He loved it, but now he has a lot more to carry to practice. He said that I had to make a bag for him. So I did (eventually).

daves-bagI used duck cloth for the bottom to make it sturdy. I looked around my sewing room for the manliest material that I own. I had some Star Trek material left over, but decided that I wanted to save that just in case Jay needs something made.

daves-bag-insideThis isn’t the best, but it will work. My problem is that I jump into a project without thinking it all the way through. I guess that I need to watch my bag-making class again that I bought at Craftsy. That would probably be a good thing.

daves-bag-frontHopefully Dave will like it and it will fit all of his music. If not, it’s back to the drawing board. Oh well. It was just enjoyable being able to spend some time in my sewing room again. I’ve missed it so much! A full time job really gets in the way of fun!

Also, here’s a sneak-peek at another project I’ve been working on:

rungs

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Book Review: A Call to Mercy; Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve

When I was growing up the model of perfect goodness was Mother Teresa. If anybody could be classified as holy and saintly, it was her. Before reading A Call to Mercy the only thing that I knew about Mother Teresa was that she was a very well-known nun in India. Since she was just canonized I decided that I wanted to know more about this woman.

To say that reading this book will humble you is an understatement. I often had to put it down because I was left feeling completely undeserving of even reading about Mother Teresa. This woman was the epitome of Christ on Earth. She saw the poor and downtrodden whom everybody else overlooked, and not only did she SEE them, but she touched them and showed them true kindness and love. I believe that was the most important part of her ministry, the ability to really see people when so many others had passed them by because they were a leper or an outcast of society.

Despite feeling that I could never come close to being as good and kind as Mother Teresa, I was left with an impression that was made upon me by this humble little woman. As compared to most of the people with whom she dealt, I have no complaints and want for nothing. Yet, there are times when I feel despondent or lose hope with how things are going. Living in such great conditions as I do, can you imagine how Mother Teresa must have felt? Yet she never seemed to lose hope or become jaded. When told that there was so much evil, corruption and nastiness in the world Mother Teresa responded, “I know very well there is corruption,… but I know also there is good! I prefer to see the good.” Let us all follow Mother Teresa’s example and try to see only the good.

The book is separated into parts based on the seven corporal and seven spiritual works of mercy. Each part starts with an introduction on Mother Teresa’s understanding of that particular corporal or spiritual work, which is followed by a section that is made up of quotes from her writings. The last section of each part consists of testimonies by those who were closest to her or who collaborated with her for many years. To finish up, each part ends with a section of questions for reflection and a prayer. Having the parts set up in this fashion made the book easier to read. Instead of reading a giant chapter you could break it up into sections more easily so that you could set the book down without feeling like you were right in the middle of a chapter. My favorite parts to read were the testimonies because you truly were able to see Mother Teresa in action. She was such a humble lady that I’m sure she wouldn’t want most of the stories to be told of her many kindnesses and acts of mercy.

I highly recommend this book to anybody who wants to get to know Mother Teresa much better, or who simply wants to do some soul searching. This book will definitely make you look at yourself in a different light. Perhaps it might even inspire you to go out and do some good today.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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