Wednesday’s Word — Edition 141

February 12, 2020 | My Jottings

“A world without a Sabbath would be like a man without a smile, like a summer without flowers, and like a homestead without a garden. It is the most joyous day of the week.”

Henry Ward Beecher

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Meditating on the Attributes of God

February 6, 2020 | My Jottings

Hi friends. How are you thinking today? Most of the time we would greet someone by asking, “How are you doing today?” but if we really wanted the details of how someone was doing the more appropriate question might be, “How are you thinking?” How I think about God and how I think about myself will often steer my day, and what steers my day steers my week, and what steers my week steers my month and then my years, and my life can be steered by how I’m thinking about God and about myself.

Many of us have had swimming lessons or music lessons, but I truly believe we all could use thinking lessons. Where do we sign up for those? A good church could teach us how to change our thinking from what’s false to what is true. Worship helps shift our thinking. God will use the people and circumstances of our lives to show us where our thinking needs changing. But one of the most effective tools God has used to help change my thinking and bring stability into my life is the Word of God.

I’ve been emotionally unstable at times, and I’ve experienced God’s wonderful stabilizing power in my life as well. What might be going on in a mind needing more stability? Anxiety. Fear. Repeated poor decisions. Self-destructive tendencies. Self-obsession. I’m not saying that if we grapple with worry and fear that we’re ready for psychiatric treatment, although when that is needed, there is no shame in that. I’ve wondered that if the peace that passes all understanding doesn’t generally flow through our days, then we might not be walking as fully in the rest and stability that the Lord has for us.

What are some things that would characterize a sound and stable mind? Peace. Hopefulness. Calm. Confidence in the Lord. Mature, productive decisions. Not being easily moved or tossed about by trials and challenges. Kindness to others, humility.

We have strong sin natures and our minds can be like wild horses that don’t want to be harnessed and trained or told where to go at first. Our thoughts can run like a hamster in a wheel. It’s why 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us how important it is to take our thoughts captive and to make them obedient to Christ – because our thoughts are wild, runaway, and sometimes deceptive, and need to be brought in line.

Through the invitation of my dear friend Sue Raimo, God in His mercy led me to Community Bible Study 21 years ago and I can’t thank Him enough. I still can’t fully convey what studying the Bible has done for me. It’s no longer a duty to read – it’s a privilege. It’s personal, it’s practical, it’s powerful. And the older I get the more I believe there are hidden treasures buried in His Word that only the sharp shovel of our trials and suffering will unearth.

Prayerfully digging deep into God’s word can stabilize us. It can correct our wrong thinking about God and about ourselves. For me and for others I know, salvation came when we cried out to Jesus to save us, but stability has come, slowly and progressively, from the strength of God’s Word.

Many years ago something else happened in my life that brought an added measure of stability and peace. I was up early having my quiet time – I had already read and I was thinking about how my husband Michael spent so much time praising God. It occurred to me that my praise vocabulary was very limited – I was using about five adjectives to praise the Lord. “Lord, You’re a good God. You are worthy, Lord. You are mighty and powerful Father.” I had a desire to expand my praise vocabulary – I wanted to understand and think deeply about His attributes. So I prayed, “Lord, increase my praise vocabulary – you are so much more than my puny praise would ever tell.” Now some might chuckle at this, because what happened was very logical and might even sound formulaic, but I am a logical thinker and I believe God made me that way, so in His mercy He spoke to me in a way I would understand.

As I was quietly praising Him I felt a question inside, “Well, then, Julie – what am I?” And I responded, “Lord you’re awesome.”

And I sensed Him saying, “And?” “Lord you are able.”

And again He seemed to quietly say, “And?” “And you’re always available to me, Father!”

Do you see a pattern? I saw it, so I began to think of all the A words that I could use to describe God, and I said them out loud. “You are ageless, You’re alive, You’re active in my life and in the lives of my children.” I praised His A attributes slowly and intentionally and pondered what each one meant.

The next time I prayed I began to praise Him and I used all the B adjectives I could think of. Now, I wasn’t just ticking these off like a grocery list – I was approaching Him reverently and concentrating on what each word meant. I wasn’t trying to be eloquent — the Bs started out with “Lord, you are big.” What might happen in our lives if we would spend an entire day meditating on just how big He is?

You might be thinking that would be a challenge; meditating on how big God is all day long, much less for five minutes. That would take some effort and self-discipline, especially in an iPhone age where according to an almost unbelievable study, the average iPhone user touches their phone 2,617 times a day.

2 Timothy 1:7 says “God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” The Greek word for self-discipline means to be in a right state of mind, to be clear-minded. Are we in a right state of mind about God, about who He is, what He wants to do in our lives? Are we clear-minded about who we are in Christ and how that should reflect in our everyday lives with our families and friends? I’m too often not.

How and what are we thinking? It takes discipline to tame my galloping thoughts. When I begin with God’s help, to direct my own thoughts, rather than my thoughts directing me, a more sound and peaceful mind usually results. Do you know what meditating on His bigness, His immensity, did that one day for my outlook? A lot.

The love for God’s Word that took root in my life through Community Bible Study stabilized me through some overwhelming issues in our family years ago. It was like putting a God is Big lens over my eyes – as I meditated on that one truth everything came into proper perspective – God did, and our troubles did. Confidence in the Lord swelled. And I was anxious to move on to other B adjectives. “Lord, you’re beautiful, bountiful, brilliant.”

And the letter C – “Father you are comforting, cleansing, close to me.”

I made up a list of words that have enlarged my praise vocabulary and I’m always on the lookout for more. You can go through the entire alphabet and not lack for words to describe who God is. Why should we do this? Is this an exercise for God’s sake? No. He’s pretty secure in who He is. But we need to be secure in who He is. And since I know angels and demons watch us with interest, I want that realm to know that I’m secure in who He is. And sometimes I need hourly reminders of who He is.

But God wasn’t done there. He was still giving me thinking lessons. After I began to revel in the small expansion of my praise vocabulary, one morning I sensed another nudge from Him and a new dimension was added to my times of praise – responses that were appropriate to God’s attributes. One example could be from the M list. On days when I have pondered the mercy of God, I can think of at least two proper responses to His mercy – thanksgiving, and giving mercy to others myself. If I have a hard time being merciful, then I need to spend a long period of time praising God for and meditating on His mercy to me.

Let’s take the letter G. The words good, gracious and great come to mind, and also generous. If we set our minds all day long on how generous God has been to us – how He didn’t even spare His own Son to rescue us, what might be an appropriate response to His generosity? We might say, “Lord, you gave, so I’ll give.” As we carry His generosity with us in our minds to Cub Foods, to our workplace, to our mothers in law, we can respond in to Him by being generous ourselves. “Lord, you gave it all, I can certainly loosen my grip on things. In your strength I can give mercy, money, time, a listening ear.”

I have been faithful at this, and I have lapsed at this practice. Lately I feel a need to meditate on God’s sovereignty.

What do you think? Would you consider asking God to expand your praise vocabulary? Say, “Show me something new about yourself today, Lord!” I try not to rush through times of praise. I would say don’t spend a few seconds in praise at the beginning of your prayer time so you can move on to your requests. Go deep with one attribute. Go high, go wide. In what million ways is God big? Anything that changes our thinking has the power to change our lives. This can stabilize us.

You might like to take a word that describes your heavenly Father, and then carry that with you all throughout the day. And along with that word of praise, take with you the appropriate response. If the attribute of God that you’re meditating on for a day is “Lord, you are awesome!” then a fitting response to His awesomeness would simply be to be awed at Him, His creation and His deeds. We act like He’s awesome. We choose to be awestruck – look at the snow on the trees or the chickadees at your feeder and be a little moved by them – even if we have to make ourselves say “Wow! I am awe-struck at the way you made chickadees swoop like a roller coaster when they fly, Lord!”

Psalm 66:3 says “Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.’”

If you don’t think you can remember to keep this in your mind all day, write it down and take it with you on a post-it note in your car, put reminders on your phone, put it in the kitchen window, in your Bible, wherever. Ask Him to help you remember. Teach it to your children and make it fun – “Today is our H day in getting to know God!” Do it as a couple. Camp a week in one letter of the alphabet, exploring all of God’s beautiful attributes that begin with, say, P.

When you feel you’re under spiritual attack, Psalm 18 says He is your fortress, your deliverer. How productive and life-giving it would be to think deeply about that reality 2600 times a day.

Is there a scriptural mandate for all of this? Yes – it’s Colossians 3:2 – “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” There are many ways to set our minds on things above, and in-depth Bible study and expanding our praises are only two.

For a Christian, proclaiming the attributes of God doesn’t put the ballast in our boats – it makes us aware of the ballast that’s already there. Isn’t that what the disciples failed to notice when they were in the boat with Jesus and the storm whipped up on the Sea of Galilee? “Master, Master, we’re going to drown! Don’t you care?” It seems like they were all proclaiming the attributes of the storm and the swamping boat. They hadn’t put their faith in Jesus’ words, “Let’s get in the boat and go over to the other side.” A terrifying storm didn’t mean that the disciples didn’t have to bring down the sails and do whatever else a boat needed in that situation. We can’t ignore the storms that come into our lives. We’re just not meant to proclaim the characteristics of the storm more than we do the character of our mighty God.

The Bible is full of examples of how His creation proclaims His attributes. Psalm 96 says the heavens actually rejoice, that the earth is glad, that the oceans resound, the fields are jubilant and that the trees of the forest sing for joy. All for their Maker.

Isaiah 55 says the mountains and the hills shall break forth in singing, and that the trees of the field will clap their hands.

Psalm 19 says the heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands.

Psalm 148 says that the sun, moon and shining stars praise Him.

And in Luke 19 Jesus says if His disciples kept silent, the very rocks would cry out to declare who He is.

I’m guessing that all this is compulsory for the rocks and the trees and the mountains and the oceans and the skies. God has mandated that His magnificent creation continually praise Him in their own ways. They cannot help but cry out.

But for us, His children, praising God, delighting in His attributes, is not compulsory. He has given us a choice… to praise Him and fill our minds with His goodness as long as He gives us life, or… to withhold our praise and to fill our minds with mediocre or even worthless things.

Our Heavenly Father waits for us to praise Him voluntarily.

I want to be a part of that choir of trees and mountains and stars who are continually delighting in and proclaiming how very wonderful our God is, don’t you?

Comments, please

January 28, 2020 | My Jottings

Hello friends,

Not long ago, my blog started not letting people comment, even old friends who’ve commented frequently over the years. My web person Emily worked on it, and installed a new, possibly less vigilant spam filter. She wasn’t sure what happened.

If you’re reading this, would you take a few seconds and leave a comment below? Something like, “Hi.” Or “Here I am.” Or “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?”

I would like to make sure things are fixed so anyone who wants (except spammers, who are just an amazing group of people) can comment here. Or just say hi, or ask for prayer, or share their own stories.

Thank you for your help!

Just some stuff

January 11, 2020 | My Jottings

It’s so wonderful to have a blissfully unscheduled morning on a below zero day with sunshine pouring in my bedroom windows. Lake Superior has huge, glittering shards of ice floating on its surface, but there’s enough open water to allow the shipping traffic to continue moving in and out of Duluth. The 1000-foot ore boats that leave our port are spectacular to see.

I am propped up against three pillows on my high bed, listening to old Mildred snore beside me, with my books and journals scattered on the blankets, a prayer shawl my daughter Sharon dyed and knitted for me wrapped around my perpetually cold neck, and I have the David Nevue station on Pandora playing softly. A dark brown rectangular plaque which was a wedding gift from Lloyd’s son Paul and his wife Selena rests on one of my window sills, and it reads, “Above all else, love each other deeply/1 Peter 4:8/Lloyd and Julie/10.05.19”

Some people seem to be able to almost effortlessly love others deeply. It’s a joy to be in their presence. I would assume that the admonition to love each other deeply means that it’s possible to love each other shallowly. I might fit into that category, and that thought troubles me. It’s not completely true, because there are young people in my family (my grands) who I love so deeply it sometimes pains me, gives me an ache I can’t explain. I would give my lives for them in a second, suffer for them if it were necessary and possible, and care more about their well-being than about my own.

But as they get older, I see them not desiring to spend as much time with me as they did when they were little, and I fear this is because I don’t love as deeply as I should. Or is it because I’m too chatty? Or because I’m a grandma “who’s really into Jesus and God,” because I’m too busy, or because I’m a little dull. I own all of the above, and pray often that God will change me. And that He will give me added grace to cooperate with Him.

I read a lot about how we are all supposed to freely accept ourselves as we are, and not work to change ourselves, and I see the value in “you’re beautiful exactly how you are,” but I don’t think I’ll ever want to stop growing and changing. I wake up each morning acutely aware of the new mercies I need, and ask for them. The fruits of the Holy Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, are still not worked out in my life to the degree I would hope. I pray this prayer quite a bit, “Lord, THANK YOU for not giving up on me!”

I have seen the movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” twice now, and will buy the DVD when it’s released. Have you seen it? It was not at all what I expected, and I actually feel it was life-changing. Tom Hanks did a superb job playing Fred Rogers. There were three or four things I saw in the movie that made me sob into my turtleneck, and I have been running them around in my head ever since. The first time I saw it was with my friend Barb, and it was so good I asked Lloyd if he’d like to go with me. Being a kind and agreeable husband, he said without hesitation, “Of course I would!” He too, was surprised by the movie, and said it was way more than he expected. He texted his children before we even left the parking lot and encouraged them to see it. I could do a whole blog post of how Mr. Rogers dealt with his anger, how he valued children, how he gave everyone his undivided attention and how that made them feel, how he prayed for people, and the riches that came from his very small investments into peoples’ lives. It was so remarkable. I think every person should see this movie.

Next month it will be five years since Michael died. Five years. I have no idea how five years passes in what feels like eighteen months, but it has. Lloyd’s wife Rosemarie has been gone for five years as well. At least once a week Lloyd pauses, looks at me with a look of wonder on his face and says, “Did you know we’re married?” We laugh, but I know what he’s saying. It seems surreal. He was with Rose for 51 years, I was with Michael for 33; to be married to someone new at this late age has an illusory feel to it. I think it might pass as the years do, but for now we both feel the strangeness. It’s a pleasant strangeness, but there’s so much to shift in our brains. A new last name for me? I’m still not accustomed to that at all. A shared savings account? Whoa.

The margin I cherished in my life before remarrying is tiny now, and I feel the pull to be a wife who is a blessing, a better mom and grandma, friend, foster care provider, CBS class member, etc. And there’s so much I want to do! I want to travel. I want to read and read and read, I want to write so purely in my journal that God actually shows me stuff I never knew, I want to study, I want so much to take classes and learn and challenge my brain. I want to meet with people I care about and listen and connect. I want to exercise more than I do in winter. I want to serve in some capacity but don’t because I’m afraid that margin will disappear completely.

I also saw “Little Women” with my three daughters right after Christmas and loved it. I sort of expected to be disappointed, because I love the 1994 version so much, but I wasn’t disappointed in the least.

And speaking of screens, Lloyd and I like to settle in to a series on Netflix or Acorn that we can look forward to in the evenings when he is here. (He still has his cabin in the woods fifty miles south of me, with pet cats, chores to do, things to maintain, so we are together 3-4 days a week right now.) We finished Season Nine of “Doc Martin” and loved it, watched quite a few episodes of “Stranger Things” and didn’t love it, marveled at Season Three of “The Crown” and now we have started “Poldark” because so many people have insisted it’s worth watching. Have you watched “Poldark?” What are some of your favorite series?

I have also slowly begun to retire. I have been doing adult foster care in my home for women with developmental disabilities for 19 years. What a wonderful blessing it has been. Not without its challenges of course, but I thank God for how He has provided for me, and for the women in my care. One of my two women, someone who has lived with me for almost 17 years, moved to another foster home last week. I was reluctant to get things going on this because we have a huge shortage of good family foster homes in our area, and because she is diabetic and needs very specialized care that isn’t easy to learn. The place she has gone is a gift from God to me and to her, and things have gone beautifully. So things are quieter here, which my other foster gal says she loves. She is happy to be the only person I’m caring for now, and comments on that every day. She’s anxious to plan a trip, so sometime in the spring she and I will go someplace special.

Speaking of trips, Lloyd and I are going to the place of my birth and raising — Southern California. We’ll be leaving in March, and will visit Denel and her family in Solana Beach, Diane and her man in Palm Desert, Disneyland (I am so excited about this I can’t stand it), Sequoia National Park, Morro Bay on the Central Coast, Covina (I want to show Lloyd the houses I lived in, my high school, all my old haunts and views), and Tauni in San Diego.

Our next trip must be to England, Ireland and Scotland. 🙂

Well, this is getting long and I haven’t even shared about our After Wedding Trip to The Bearskin Lodge on the Gunflint Trail of Northern Minnesota. I have pictures I’ll post next time. We had no wi-fi, no television, no phone service, and it was glorious. We hiked, boated, sat on our cabin’s dock and counted the stars, searched for moose, read to each other, and declared, “Did you know we’re married?”

I am meeting Lloyd tonight in Mahtowa, MN for his annual snowmobile club banquet, so should get a few Saturday things done before it’s time to get ready.

I hope your weekend has enough margin in it for a good book, a lovely connection with someone you love, and for some rest.

Wedding Photos – Part 4

December 30, 2019 | My Jottings

Is anyone getting tired of wedding pictures yet? If you are, just click away and come back in a few days.  🙂

If not, here are the last few I’ll share. Below, we are all laughing after being pronounced husband and wife, because my pastor didn’t say the words, “You may now kiss your bride,” and we started back down the aisle as the recessional music played. Sharon gently reminded us that this traditional end of the ceremony hadn’t occurred, so we halted, had a quick peck and enjoyed a good laugh with the whole congregation.

This is the afternoon of Saturday, October 5th, after the wedding ceremony, the reception, some of the cleanup, and the loading of the cars in the pouring rain. We are back at my house, and the first thing we both did was take off our wedding shoes and put on some comfy footwear.

This is a picture of Lloyd’s daughter Angela and me. She is a loving, funny, welcoming woman and I’m so grateful for her.

This is Lloyd’s son Paul (I think they look like clones) and his sweet wife Selena. They too have been so open hearted to me. I always try to remember that my presence in Lloyd’s children’s lives is because they lost their beloved mother.

Sharon took this before the ceremony — Louisa, Sharon, me, and Margaret in front.

Carolyn and me:

I’ll post some After Wedding Trip photos soon. We went away to a cabin on a lake in the north woods of Minnesota, where there were no televisions, phones, or even cell phone coverage. It was peaceful and beautiful.

Happy New Year to you, dear friends and family…

Wedding Photos – Part 3

December 11, 2019 | My Jottings

Hello from the Great Frozen North! We woke to 14 degrees below zero this morning, and our high is supposed to be zero today. It seems a little early in the winter to have such cold, especially since it’s not technically winter yet. I’ve responded to the texts of a few friends today, “I am a snowbird in the making.” A little trip to warmer climes in January or February is sounding very attractive right about now.

I have a few more wedding pictures to share today. The first one below is me with my grandchildren. I look short in this photo, and that is a word never before attributed to me — I’m 5′ 10″, so that will give you an idea how tall some of these young people are.

From left to right: Audrey, Eleanor with Louisa in front, Cullen, me, Elijah holding Levi, Clara with Miriam in front, Vivienne and Margaret. I consider these humans on my list of Julie’s Richest Treasures, and am so grateful to know and love each one.

The flowers at our wedding were spectacular, all done by my youngest daughter Sara, who has her own floral design business. We had two large arrangements on either side of the altar, in memory of Lloyd’s Rosemarie and my Michael. It has been almost five years since we lost our spouses, and how could we not carry them with us as we walk this new part of our journeys?

I like this picture below because it shows the ceiling of my church, which was built many years ago to look like a ship. I also love our stained glass windows and the wedding banners on either side of the altar.

And click here to see a video of our processional in its entirety, taken by a friend on her iPhone at the back of the church. The song is “Highland Cathedral” on one of Amy Grant’s Christmas albums, and I have loved it for years. It makes me cry and yearn.

Thank you for stopping in — I hope to share some After Wedding Trip (I refuse to say H__neym__n because we are so old) photos soon.

Blessings,

Wedding Photos – Part 2

November 27, 2019 | My Jottings

Our first major snowfall of the season began last night and it’s still coming down. The sky is as white as the foot of snow on the ground. We may have a break in the weather for Thanksgiving tomorrow, but another storm is said to be coming, and an additional foot of snow is predicted. Time for soups, Millie’s Velcro dog booties, Christmas movies, and very careful driving.

Here are a few more pictures from Lloyd’s and my wedding. And at the end I’ll post a link so you can see a few seconds of our processional.

My daughter Sara is a super talented florist with her own business, and she did our flowers. This is my stunning bouquet:

Below, from left to right: my daughters Sara, Carolyn and Sharon, me, Lloyd, his son Paul and daughter Angela. My pastor is Rob Franck.

Kneeling, asking for God’s help and blessing:

Lloyd and I walked down the aisle together:

And you can click here to see a short video of the last part of our processional. I’ll post another video soon, of all the grandchildren and children walking down before us.

I hope your Thanksgiving is blessed!

Wedding Photos – Part 1

November 20, 2019 | My Jottings

I’ll be posting some photos in the next couple of weeks, and here are a few to start with.

Lloyd’s family and my family:

Lloyd and me with his son Paul and his wife Selena, Lloyd’s daughter Angela and her husband Craig, and their two children Jordyn and Cody:

Below: me with my children and grandchildren – my oldest daughter Sharon and her husband Chris and their children Cullen, Eleanor, Margaret and Louisa, Carolyn and her husband Jeremy and their children Clara, Elijah, Vivienne, Audrey, Miriam and Levi, and my youngest daughter Sara. By the way, all the gorgeous flowers were done by my beyond-talented daughter Sara.

Our wedding bands in front of one of the stained glass windows of my church:

And this one is of me with my three beloveds, Sara, Sharon and Carolyn:

I’ll post a short video soon too. We are in the midst of quite a bit here, so this is all for today. God bless your week,

Never in a million years

October 30, 2019 | My Jottings

I have many pictures to share, but since it has been a while, I wanted to post this one so those who visit here can see. Lloyd and I have been married since October 5th, and even though we both just knew we’d never remarry after losing our spouses almost five years ago, here we are.

As you can imagine, blending two lives, homes, lifestyles and churches has kept us busy. Even so, I will say that so far married life has been easy and comfortable.

I’ll post more soon. Have a wonderful weekend!

Kids, kidneys, a kite, and the knot.

September 20, 2019 | My Jottings

Hi friends. Happy autumn to you. I hope you are experiencing lovely leaf colors, cooler weather, fires in your hearth or in your heart, pumpkin something or other, a good book, and/or a return to blessed routine.

I follow an old childhood friend named Ann on Instagram, and not long ago she posted this picture:

I had never seen it before, but I remembered the birthday party immediately. The two “twins” who are playing Twister are my oldest childhood friend Denel (in the front), and me. My mom made those bell bottoms with the daisies on them. Behind us are two schoolmates I haven’t seen since then — Jill Crabtree and Doreen Castro. It was fun to think back on that slumber party, even though I never quite felt like I fit in anywhere. That thought doesn’t bring pain anymore, only a matter-of-fact recollection of what was. I wish I could tell other young girls that this feeling is often universal and that you will live through it and become your own person someday, and hopefully learn to be more welcoming to others.

It has been so hot and steamy in Northeastern Minnesota this summer I don’t even want to talk about it. The time that gets wasted because of humidity is frustrating. Do I want to walk at the cemetery when it’s 88 degrees and dripping per cent humidity? No I don’t. Do I want to bake cookies and put a yummy pot of soup on to simmer? No. How about having people over or taking grandchildren somewhere fun? Nein. Or going to church on Sunday in a beautiful old building with stained glass windows and no air conditioning? Nyet. So, yes, summer is basically dead to me, and if fall doesn’t make itself known pretty quickly I might have a pouty attitude.

We do have some leaves showing off, though. What do you think? Would you yawn at that? I hope not. I sound like a broken record, but I never, ever, get tired of fall colors. If only they would last three months.

On a breezy day in late August, I took my granddaughters Mrs. Nisky and Li’l Gleegirl to fly a kite. Oh, did I find a fantastic kite on Amazon. It’s so fun, so sturdy, and so good at lifting itself into the wind, that it began to fly when it was barely out of our hands. I have not done a lot of, ahem, running, in many years, because I have a knee replacement and a few several pounds of jiggly here and there. So I was hoping when we drove down to Park Point on the beach of Lake Superior, I wouldn’t have to run to get the kite to fly.

It actually took effort to get the kite to stop flying, so it was a successful afternoon of kite flying. Mrs. Nisky is 15 now, and Li’l Gleegirl is 12 1/2. They reached these ages in some eye blinks.

We actually flew the kite while sitting down too. We let the entire roll of string out and the kite was so high we had trouble seeing it at times.

Can you see it? It’s waaaay up there, dancing around in the wind off the largest freshwater lake in the world, which (I have never mentioned this before, have I?) I can see from my living room, my dining room, my kitchen and my bedroom. I am grateful to live here.

My oldest granddaughter Clara is 17 now, which is another shock to the system. She is a senior in high school, and is enrolled in college at the same time, taking classes she will ace, and drawing cartoon strips in her spare time. She’s a gifted artist and I follow her “Seabeast” comic strip on Instagram of course.

Clara had her grad pictures done recently, and it’s very convenient to have a professional photographer in the family. My oldest daughter Sharon took them, and here is one I love:

Clara is the oldest child of my second daughter Carolyn, and she is about 5′ 11″ now. We try our hardest to grow them tall in this family.

Carolyn and Jeremy also have this little cutie, who started preschool this month. She’s almost five, and her preschool spends most of their time outside. Rain or shine, snow or sleet, they dress for the weather and go exploring and playing. Miriam looks so much like Jeremy’s beautiful mother Diane.

Aaannnd… there is this kid. He is Chris and Sharon’s oldest, and is also a senior in high school this year. He likes football and sports and basketball and sports and spending time with his friends, and sports, and working at his job, and sports. Cullen is just a hair under 6′ 7″ tall, and out of all my children and grandchildren, he is the most Sooterish. Meaning he looks like a Sooter, which is my maiden name. I am frequently told that he looks like me, and sometimes if I squint I can see it.

A while back I posted about how my son-in-law Chris was recently (shockingly) diagnosed with severe kidney failure. He needs a kidney transplant as soon as possible. If you would be willing to fill out an easy questionnaire to see if you or someone you know could possibly donate a kidney, please click on the recent post at the left called “Every Good and Perfect Gift.” Toward the bottom you’ll see Chris’s picture and a link to the Mayo Clinic. If you do, you’ll need his birthday so please leave a comment and I’ll email you. Everything will be paid for and you will be taken care of.

Anyway, out of the few people who were willing to see if they could donate, somehow I, a 62 year old woman, have risen to the top of the list of possible donors so far. I just returned from three days of amazing, efficient, friendly testing at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, where I learned that I may be able to donate one of my kidneys. Not to Chris, since our blood types don’t match. (This is why we still need someone to donate for him.) If I donate, it will qualify Chris to be in Mayo’s Paired Donation Program. I could give my kidney to someone, Mayo would look for someone to donate to Chris, and we could all four potentially go into surgery on the same day. Kidney donation surgery takes 40 minutes, is done through a small scar below the navel, and hospital stay is two days.

I still have two more tests to go through, but here are my kidneys from the CT scan Mayo did. I now know I have a slight curvature of the spine. 🙂 I think I should name my kidneys. I read this morning about a young woman who named her kidneys Jeff Left and Dwight Right and I like those names. She made it possible for a stranger to live. Do you have any suggestions on what I should name my kidneys? I already know that if I become a donor, they will take my left kidney, because it has one artery. My right has two, which apparently complicates things in surgery a bit.

And now an abrupt segue. Do you see this church below? It’s my church. I’ve been a member there for two years, and I love it. It’s a big departure for someone who grew up a Baptist and then raised her family in an Assembly of God church. But it has been rich and new and very healing for me to be there.

I love the stained glass windows in my church. I gravitate toward dark, jewel toned colors, and I particularly like the dark reds in these.

Soon, in this blessed church with the pretty stained glass windows, I will be participating in a solemn and happy ceremony where these very rings will be exchanged and vows will be said, and granddaughters wearing jewel-toned dresses will carry flowers down the aisle and adult children will stand up as attendants, songs will be sung, scriptures will be read, prayers will be prayed, friends will be there to celebrate….

….and after almost five years of living without Michael, I will marry again. I will wear a dark sapphire colored dress.

His name is Lloyd and I’ve mentioned him here before. He and I met at a local senior citizens’ grief support group over three years ago. He lost his Rosemarie two months before Michael died. Lloyd and Rose were married 51 years. Michael and I were married 33.

His family has welcomed me so lovingly, and my family has welcomed him the same. I am so proud of the way my girls have loved and supported me as I took a long time to come to this decision.

Lloyd lives in a log cabin he built in the woods, about 50 miles south of me. We will go back and forth between my house and his as we can. When I decide to retire from doing adult foster care, we may well sell my house and get something smaller for the two of us. But all those decisions can be made slowly.

What helped me eventually say yes to Lloyd’s many patient marriage suggestions (he didn’t actually officially propose until he knew I had worked it all out in my heart) was what a kind man he is. What a good conversationalist. How servant-hearted he is. How sensitive he is. How ready his laugh is. How he loves his children and how much they love him and want to be with him. How thoughtful. Here’s an example of the latter. Recently we were in church together and as soon as the scripture readings commenced, I began to cry. It’s not unusual for me to react to the reading of God’s Word that way, and I try to be quiet when it happens. On this day I had no kleenex in my purse and Lloyd didn’t have a clean handkerchief. There were no boxes of tissues around, so he went to the nearest bathroom and brought back some brown paper towels from the dispenser for me. When he sat in the pew and handed them to me so I could wipe my nose and eyes, I noticed they had been wadded up and opened, wadded up and opened, so they would be softer to use and not so stiff and rough. He does a lot of things like this without fanfare, and I am grateful.

I hope you’ll pray for us as we begin our life together. I’m a little nervous to be honest. Not about Lloyd, but about getting married at this late stage in life when I’m so set in my relatively solitary ways. It’s not like it was when I was 18 and threw caution to the wind and said “I do” to someone who wasn’t any more prepared than I was to make that kind of commitment. Now I’m old and overthink things and entertain myself with too many what-ifs and am much more practical than I used to be.

I’ll share some wedding pictures when we get back from our After Wedding Trip. I am refusing to call it a honeymoon, because at my age that seems weird.

I told the transplant team at Mayo that I can’t give away a kidney until November when the wedding and After Wedding Trip are behind me, and they are more than willing to work with anyone who would take that step.

I’ll close with this curious and serendipitous fact I learned at the Mayo Clinic, which by the way is 4.5 hours south of me. The transplant surgeon is a woman named Julie. And when she was little, she used to live in the house where Michael and I raised our family. How about that?

Thank you for reading. Thank you for praying for my family. Tell me how you’re doing now…okay?

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