Rhyselle's Ramblings

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A few words on prayer by C.S. Lewis

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“And perhaps, as those who do not turn to God in petty trials will have no habit or such resort to help them when the great trials come, so those who have not learned to ask Him for childish things will have less readiness to ask Him for great ones. We must not be too high-minded.  I fancy we may sometimes be deterred from small prayers by a sense of our own dignity rather than God’s.”  –from Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

I was made to think when I read this quote at the top of the page of my journal.  (I have a journal book that has a C.S. Lewis quote at the top of every other page; intended to inspire what goes onto the blank lines of the book.)

Prayer is something that Christ taught we were to do always; to turn to our Heavenly Father in and for all things, but most of us do not.  We pray at church.  We say grace before meals.  We call upon the Lord when things are hard.  But if we don’t make it a habit to turn to Him–even though He knows all that is in our hearts and heads–it is sometimes difficult to find the words, to find the faith within ourselves that helps us to make the connection to communicate fully with God.

Prayer, when done correctly, is work.  Whether I am praying for small things (like for the light to turn green quickly so I won’t be late to a meeting) or large things (like the recovery of a child injured in an auto accident), I should concentrate and focus solely on my communication with Heavenly Father.

It is so hard to do this.

Everything suddenly distracts me; the noise of the traffic on the street, the beep of someone’s cellphone, the scratchy tag at the collar of our shirt, the bright yellow of the box of cookies on the table, the TV’s babble, the music and sound effects of video games in the next room, the feel of the rug under my knees, concerns about if there’s enough milk for the kids to drink for breakfast the next morning, an itch or ringing in the ear, a memory of a conversation that has nothing to do with my petition to God.

I’ve read that it takes eight weeks to build a habit to where it is second nature.

We build habits by small steps.  We stop biting our fingernails one day at a time until we have become strong enough to resist the urge to nibble at them.  We learn to play piano in baby steps, note by note and key by key.  We learn our alphabet one sound or letter at a time until we are able to easily read and write .

So it is with prayer, I’m discovering.  If I practice daily with the small things; thanking God for the blessing of waking up in the morning, asking His grace over our food, and asking His help with the little challenges of the day, I will learn to shut out the distractions of the world and be able to immerse myself into my desire to commune with Heavenly Father in the name of His Son–and it will become a true communion.

In some ways it is easier to pray for help in the case of emergencies like when my daughter was mauled by a dog when she was three years old… they are things so entirely out of our control that throwing them up to God in desperation seems to be the only way to handle it.

I just have to also remember that NOTHING is too trivial for me to bring it to Heavenly Father’s attention.  And that I shouldn’t be so proud that I make the determination as to what would be beneath His notice.  He sees every sparrow that falls.  He hears every word and thought that we say and think.  NOTHING is beneath his notice.

Even my little prayers of gratitude and petition.


Written by Rhyselle

February 21, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill on February 19th

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I spent most of the week at a work related conference in Huntsville, AL and took an evening to wander their historic district and took pictures of many of the houses theres.  But there’s one historic place that I made the opportunity to visit while driving home to Ohio, yesterday:  Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, near Harrodsburg, KY.

Back in September 2008, I went there for the Tolkien gathering called “A Long Expected Party” where about 144 Tolkien devotees met and re-created the Shire and Bilbo Baggin’s Eleventy-First Birthday Party.  Not only was the company great and the party events wonderful fun, but Shaker Village itself wrapped around my heart and I’ve yearned to go back there again.

Friday afternoon, I arrived around 2pm, just in time to get lunch at the Trustees Office Building dining room.

Dining room at Trustees Office Building in Shaker Village

Dining room at Trustees Office Building in Shaker Village

My meal was delicious; a salad with beets and spring greens, cole slaw, grilled cheese on thick bread using white cheddar and havarti cheeses, cornbread sticks, and a cup of tomato-celery soup.  Dessert was a piece of Shaker Lemon Pie.  This pie is not like the modern lemon meringue pie.  It’s a two-crust pie and the filling is made up of thinly sliced lemon rind that has been preserved in sugar.  Sort of like having a lemon marmalade where there’s 99% rind and 1% jelly.  It was very different and, once I got used to the texture, very delicious!  Next time I visit, though, I plan to try their carrot cake, because that looked good too!

The Trustees Office Building is used for guest lodging, as well as the dining areas (divided into male and female sides as are the other buildings that were used by male and female Shakers).  Of particular note is the double spiral staircase in the middle of the building.  I’m not one for heights but I couldn’t resist taking the picture from the third floor of the sister’s staircase (Sisters on the left and Brethren on the right).

Spiral Stair

Sister's Spiral Stair, Trustees Office Building

The day was brilliantly sunny and I spent as much time walking outdoors as I did investigating the exhibit buildings.  There was still a fair bit of snow on the ground, but the sun had melted enough that grassy areas showed through, and the gravel road was getting into that half frozen, half muddy state that requires floors to be mopped and rugs to be cleaned more frequently than is usual.  But it was worth getting my boots muddy to enjoy the place.  I didn’t see more than 20 people there over the three hours I wandered about, and most of the time I had the place to myself.

Old Route 68

I look at the simplicity of structure and the functionality of the things that the Shakers created for their own use and wonder why in my own home, I find it so very hard to give up the “stuff” I have that is really just… stuff. As simple in line that their buildings and furnishings are, the attention to detail is meticulous.  The things that they built lasted.

Shaker Village Window

Shaker Village Window

For example, against one of the windows in the Central Family Dwelling, there’s a white piece of wood that is stair-stepped three times. It is a window prop. It was made so that the “lights” of the windows will line up exactly with the ones in the outer sash, so that the wood frames of the lights of the inner sash don’t cross the glass of the outer. A little thing but it makes a difference. The Shakers believed that work was worship, and so did their best to make their work as perfect as they could in honor of God. That might not be a bad attitude to take to our own work, whatever it might be… whether laboring with our hands or with our brains, out in a field or in an office building or in a retail store. We can’t achieve perfection on this earth, but it certainly can’t hurt to try to get as close to it as we can possibly get for the right reasons .

Old Ministry Shop and Outbuilding

The Old Ministry Shop and Outbuilding

The stones that make up the sidewalks are original to the site. They were laid down more than 100 years ago and it’s interesting to think about the people who walked on them back then. There are furniture artifacts that are original to the Village as well–tracked down and repurchased after being sold off in the early 1900s when the last 12 Shakers made the decision to close the Village as a Shaker Community and sold the property to a private owner with the condition that they be allowed to live there for the remainder of their lives. The last female Shaker from the Village passed away in 1923. The place began to deteriorate and many building were lost to fire, decay and demolition until in 1951, a group of people decided to try to preserve what remained and to restore what could be restored. Fifty plus years later, it’s a place I love to come to, to step away from the “modern” world and all its distractions.

An interesting point–cell phones don’t work very well in the Village. There aren’t any cell towers close enough to keep the signals strong, so while you might be able to ring out, the calls drop almost immediately. *grin* A superstitious person might think that it’s the ghosts of the Shakers still working to keep things simple and the modern world out…

Written by Rhyselle

February 20, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Travel

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Finished cleaning! :)

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We got his room done, even to clothes put away and floor vacuumed.  And put the jigsaw puzzle table at the foot of the bed after we made it up again.  Hopefully, we can train ourselves to spend 15 minutes an evening picking up the bits and pieces of the day and putting them into their proper places.   I feel like we accomplished a lot!

Clean Room!

Written by Rhyselle

February 10, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

De-Cluttering a Kid’s room

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I’m sorry to say that my boy’s room has been a mess for quite some time.  Telling him to clean it up wasn’t working at all and just got him and me frustrated. Then a friend at church introduced me to www.flylady.net and the routines I’ve picked up from FlyLady’s advice has made a huge difference.

Today, my son and I used a tool from FlyLady to help us to clean up his room:  bags marked Throw Away, Put Away and Give Away.  We took it in 15 minute chunks and over two hours we went from the Before to After in the pictures below.  It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly Good Enough that after we make his bed properly again, and finish putting away the things that need to go to other places in the house, he’ll have room and time to play with his model trains once more.

Before De-Cluttering

After De-Cluttering

FlyLady is right: You can’t organize clutter.  It has to go, leaving only the things you really love and use.

This is only a beginning for us, but we’re already seeing a big difference in our home. 🙂

Written by Rhyselle

February 10, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Posted in Family

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Snow and Memory

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A snowstorm like from days gone by

February 6th has been very memorable over the years, but one thing that seems to be consistent about it is that on the most memorable days,  it snowed.

Twelve years ago, I received a phone call on the night of February 6th from my father.  He told me to sit down, and then told me bluntly that my mother had died at age 58, a bit more than a month shy of her 59th birthday.

It had snowed in upstate PA, where I lived at the time, but that same storm that had dumped snow on us, had been far worse in Ohio.  She was alone at home, having left work feeling ill, and suffered a heart attack in the early hours of the morning.  It had been snowing heavily since the previous day, and even if someone else had been there with her to call 911, there would have been no way for the EMTs to get to her house out in the country in time to save her life because of not-yet-plowed roads.

I’ve been missing her a lot lately, but when I realized that we were having the kind of weather that marked the night of her death, I had very mixed feelings about the snow storm that kept us inside our house and off the roads.  It was beautiful and awe-inspiring to see the power of winds and ice and tiny snowflakes to bring to a halt the activity of mankind, even if only on a temporary basis.  But it was sad too, bringing back memories of 12 years ago.

I suppose that my mother’s death was meant to be.  Had she been able to be resuscitated, there would have likely been a significant diminishment in her quality of life.  Two years prior, she had suffered a high sugar episode that caused some brain damage before the doctors got her stabilized again, and she hated knowing that she used to have mathematical abilities before that she could no longer access.  Perhaps it really was better this way.

And so now, when I see snow, I do miss my Mom… but I’m trying harder to think of all the good memories that I have of her instead of the sad few that tend to be the first to jump to my mind.  That’s a good goal to work on!

Written by Rhyselle

February 7, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Posted in Family

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Counting my Blessings…

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Snow, cold, grumpy kids, work to do…. what is there to be happy about?

  • Hearing my husband’s breathing while he slept next to me.
  • The cat that greeted me this morning with a snuggle and a purr.
  • How pretty the snow looks from inside the house.
  • The scent of freshly made hot chocolate… and the yummy gooiness of melting marshmallows in it.
  • Knowing that my Dad is seriously thinking about moving to our area by the end of the summer and will finally get to build a relationship with his grandchildren. 🙂
  • Not losing my temper with my younger sister when she called me at an inconvenient moment.
  • Knowing that I have friends who are praying for me and my family.

My goal is to find at least one good thing a day to think about that makes me smile or feel better.  There’s too much nay-saying and negativity in this world.  Why should I add to it unnecessarily?

Written by Rhyselle

February 7, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Posted in Family, Self

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