Laughter and Longing

September 22, 2016 | My Jottings

Almost two weeks ago I took one of my fosters and three granddaughters to see Christian comedian Tim Hawkins in concert in Minneapolis. I’ve seen him three times now and he just keeps getting funnier and more worth seeing. He usually comes to Minnesota each fall, so I told my friend Su that she and her husband Danny should come down with us next year, because they like Tim too. I think spending an entire two hours laughing is time well spent. I honestly don’t see a lot on television or in the newspapers these days that make me want to bend over at the waist and howl with laughter.

We had premium seats, which meant that we were a little closer in the huge church to the stage. It was a packed house, but we got there a little early, and here’s a picture of my granddaughter Vivienne taking in the digital wizardry that’s part of the pre-show.

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I took the kids to IHOP the next morning where everyone ordered different kinds of pancakes (red velvet?) along with sausage or bacon, and then we made the drive home, singing off and on to “G.T. and the Halo Express” for most of the almost three hours until I dropped them all off.

I’m still walking (sometimes strolling is a better word, considering a recent mysterious injury in my left knee) in the cemetery a couple times a week, often with my friend Su. This is the time of year when it seems almost transcendent to be there. I walk through the quiet paths overhung by huge, old trees that are beginning to turn color, and the fall wind hints of winter as it blows through my hair and makes my eyes water. I see squirrels hurrying around with their winter preparations, and watch the geese eat the grass and squabble at each other before taking off in unison into the sky to go investigate the next pond over. At the cemetery and during this time of year, it almost seems like I can hear the whispers of heaven, but just not quite. Do I think this because my beloved’s body lies beneath the earth in this place? Is it because in a place of the dead I’m reminded that this earthly life is only a preview of what is to come? I don’t know how to put the right words to it, I only know that when I’m there in the cool mornings, it feels like the unseen veil between this life and the next gets thinner and thinner.

I’m often intrigued by the headstones, and I took a few pictures last week.

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Su and I walk by this grave all the time and it always makes me want to chuckle. I wonder if Mr. or Mrs. Terryberry ever got teased for their last name? Did kids do that sort of thing a century ago? Or was Terryberry a normal last name and it was no big deal? I wonder if there are any Terryberrys today? And could there possibly be a married couple out there somewhere named Barry and Terri Terryberry?

In July the fierce storm that ripped through our city and downed thousands of trees really hit the cemetery badly. There are scenes like this all over, even though the cleanup is still ongoing:

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And I can never resist taking some pictures of how gorgeous things get in our neck of the woods every late September:

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Are the leaf colors changing where you live? This is one of the things I love most about living in Minnesota.

I think Alma and Herbert Krause say it well:

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As I get older, Christ is my ever increasing hope too. When I am completely stuck day after day on what I’ll say at the women’s retreat in October, Christ is my hope. When my older grands are losing interest in being with their grandma (which I know is so normal), Christ is my hope. When relationship troubles baffle and depress me, Christ is my hope. When prayers seem to go unanswered, Christ is my hope. When some days seem full of promise and others seem interminably mundane, Christ is my hope. When our country is broiling in violence, Christ is my hope. When friendships founder, Christ is my hope. When Michael’s absence seems too much to survive, Christ is my hope.

I realize that might sound a bit one-dimensional and simplistic to some, but it’s the truth I cling to. And perhaps more accurately, I believe it is the truth that clings to me.

Wind chimes in early autumn

September 2, 2016 | My Jottings

Today feels like fall, even though astronomically it’s still summer. Last night was the first night in months that we’ve slept with our windows wide open instead of keeping the central air conditioner on. It was glorious. The sun is lower in the sky these days and the light coming in the windows has that tell-tale golden glow I love. Why, oh why, does autumn seem to last six weeks, and a Minnesota winter can sometimes last six months?

I attended a foster care meeting this morning, and since my original late morning/early afternoon plans were rescheduled, I came home to work on something quite daunting that I’m trying not to be daunted about.

I’ve been praying and reading, journaling and praying, avoiding prayer and study altogether, eating peanuts, studying hard and pleading-praying….all in preparation for my speaking at our local Community Bible Study retreat in October. I have never spoken at a retreat before. I really wonder how in the world I am going to teach on Corrie ten Boom’s life for three sessions to a group of very spiritually mature women. But I keep going back to the comforting knowledge that if God has something He would like to impart to these ones He loves so deeply, I can trust Him to help me know what that is. I do trust Him, I just don’t trust my own ears and heart and eyes to catch it all sometimes.

After some study time in my comfy plaid bedroom chair, I moved to my office to start pecking away at the thoughts and notes I have. I opened the sliding glass door in my office so I can hear the lovely deep wind chimes that hang on a bird feeder pole right outside, and I can also hear soft strains of Bob Bennett’s CD “Lord of the Past” playing in the dining room. Millie the Schnauzer is schnoozing on my bed, someone in the neighborhood is mowing their lawn for possibly the last time this year, and I have no idea what’s for dinner.

Here’s a distorted panoramic picture of what I see in my office right now. You can click to enlarge it if you’d like.

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I took my foster gals to the Minnesota State Fair a few days ago. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive south, and the fair is said to be one of the best in America. We spent the night in a hotel the night before, so we could arrive at the massive fairgrounds when the gates opened and before the heat became mean and punishing. I think my gals had a good time; one had never been to our famous fair before and the other hadn’t been in decades.

There are a zillion foods on a stick there. Corn on the cob, deep-fried Snickers candy bars, pork chops, peach-glazed pig cheeks, teriyaki chicken, stuffed Italian meatloaf, and cheesecake, to name a few. All on a stick. AZ-GizmosI had a Gizmo Sandwich because crazy food man Andrew Zimmern said it was the best sandwich of the fair, and it was pretty good. I also had some fresh squeezed lemonade.

Throughout the day, my fosters had mini-doughnuts, Gizmos, foot-long hot dogs, pork chops on a stick, cheese curds, cotton candy flavored blue ice cream (gah!), and more.

We walked what felt like seventeen miles in the sauna-like heat to the Pet Building on the f-a-a-a-r side of the fair, so we could pet the dogs of the day, which were Samoyeds, German Shepherds, and Schnauzers. My gals got their caricatures drawn, drove go-carts around a track while the theme song to “Happy Days” played, rode in round, twirling water rafts, went down the undulating giant slide, and bought shockingly priced souvenirs. We loved The Miracle of Birth Building, and were able to see chicks hatching, gently pet newborn pigs, sheep and goats, and stand around a huge pen full of straw while a poor, straining Holstein mama tried to bring her calf into the world with hundreds of people watching.

We spent five hours at the fair, and if my knees had been better behaved and the temperature not 90 degrees, we would have stayed longer. We ended up missing the sculptures of the State Fair Queen and her court 08_782874__10FAIR082214_30646457(sculpted out of huge blocks of butter), didn’t go to the building with the quilts and cakes, nor the one with the newest innovative household tools and gadgets. In the late 1990s I bought the best broom I’ve ever owned at the state fair. Had we stayed later we could have heard the Lovin’ Spoonful perform too, but when one is approaching sixty and has screaming knees, concessions must be made.

And we’ll be heading down to the Twin Cities again soon, to see our favorite comedian, Tim Hawkins. Michael and I have seen him before, and I’m taking my foster gals and three of my grandchildren this time. I so look forward to seeing Tim in concert. I don’t laugh at his jokes and antics merely because it’s a comedy show; I laugh because I can’t help myself. I think he’s hysterically funny, and I need the medicine that laughter is. If you’re not familiar with Tim Hawkins, here’s a link to initiate you.

Well, the wind chimes are still softly sounding outside my office here. The curtains are moving the slightest little bit with each whispering breeze that brings the lovely cool fall air into our home. There are a few leaves here and there that are turning orange.

I hope your Labor Day weekend is a peaceful one…

Wednesday’s Word — Edition 131

August 31, 2016 | My Jottings

36c2afb11424fdaf1083e9b49b3fad21“Present is living with your feet firmly grounded in reality, pale and uncertain as it may seem.

Present is choosing to believe that your own life is worth investing deeply in, instead of waiting for some rare miracle or fairytale.

Present means we understand that the here and now is sacred, sacramental, threaded through with divinity even in its plainness. Especially in its plainness.”  

~ Shauna Niequist, Present Over Perfect

Reading and Routines

August 23, 2016 | My Jottings

My alarm clock this morning was Millie’s borborygmi. She was sleeping in a schnauzery circle near Michael’s pillow, and around 5:00 a.m. I heard the high-pitched gurgling sounds of her intestines, which, frankly, sounded like I needed to get her outside immediately. A couple of days ago we ran out of her special grain-free Blue Buffalo dog food and she had to eat Beneful, which has lots of grain in it but seemed to be the best available at our neighborhood grocery store. Her good stuff arrived last night, so hopefully her tummy settles down now.

I just finished the book The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and enjoyed it. It was tragic, but reminded me what a person is capable of if they just keep going in the face of unspeakable sorrow.

My next read will be quite different. I have had this book sitting on my nightstand for months now, and it’s almost like I’ve been circling around it over and over, looking at it, taking its temperature, gauging its potential to effect lasting change, and then averting my eyes and picking up something else. prayerI started the book a while back and was so deeply struck by the first few pages I almost couldn’t bear it. And the impression that I must read it never leaves. It has almost felt like a directive from the Lord, a firm and gentle pressure from a huge finger between my shoulder blades, steering me toward the book several times a week. Why I would resist something like that, only God knows. I suspect that the enemy doesn’t want any of us reading about prayer and then praying, so the thought of opposition is reasonable.

I have an evening routine that settles and moves our home toward bedtime, as I expect most people do. After making sure my fosters are ready for bed, I usually load the dishwasher and start it, get meds ready for my foster gals for the next morning, lock the doors, turn out the living room lights. I cover the cage of our parakeet Phoebe with a large navy blue towel and smile at her little birdy grunts when I disturb her. I let Millie outside one final time, making sure to put on her bark collar so she doesn’t go nuts at a nighttime dog walker or a deer trotting through the yard, and wake up our elderly neighbors, then after she comes back in I close the shades over our French doors. As I move down the hall toward my bedroom, I stop in the office and turn my desktop computer off. I close the door to my bedroom, adjust the air conditioning for the night, turn on my nightstand lamp, and watch Millie settle on the bed for the night. I fill the reservoir of my blessed, wonderful, miraculous, treasured CPAP machine with distilled water, turn it on to warm, brush my teeth, clean my Invisalign trays and snap them back on (I’m on the 5th set of trays now), put on my plaid nightgown, and once I’ve plopped my head on my very soft down-filled pillow, I play a few moves of Words With Friends with my sister-in-law Christy and my friends Ginny and Vicki. I have been listening to Nightsounds by Bill Pearce on my iPhone each night as I drift off, something that brings back memories of when Michael and I used to have our clock radio play Nightsounds softly as we went to sleep each night. Do any of you remember that late-night radio program? Click here to listen to the moody, transporting theme song. I almost feel like I’m being lifted to the galaxies when I listen, and of course I probably don’t need to say that tears fall because it all reminds me of life with Michael.

What are some of your evening/nighttime routines?

Before I turned out the light last night, here’s a portion of what I read in Tim Keller’s book on prayer:

“Prayer is the only entryway into genuine self-knowledge. It is also the main way we experience deep change — the reordering of our loves. Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things He has for us. Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire. It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life. We must learn to pray. We have to.”

The reordering of our loves. I need that desperately. I’ll bet deep inside most of us know there are things we love too much, and things and people we don’t love enough. Not to mention our love for God needing to increase…

Have any of you read this book? I would love to know your thoughts if you have.

Yesterday my friend Su and I walked in the cemetery where Michael is buried. A few weeks ago a terrible storm ripped through our city, and 100 mph winds uprooted thousands of trees and shut off electrical power for days, in the middle of some of the hottest weather you can imagine. The cemetery was hard hit. Huge, majestic, decades-old trees have been uprooted or snapped in two, and lay criss-crossed over toppled grave stones, and block roads and paths. Su and I tried to walk our usual path last week, but we couldn’t get through, so we’ve started walking in an area of the cemetery without so much damage. We both have knee issues so we aren’t power walking, but it’s a lovely time as we process what we’re each going through in our lives, share our prayer needs, and enjoy each other’s company as we have for over 30 years now.

Well, the sun has come up and a beautiful magenta glow is coming through the curtains of my bedroom windows. Time to start my day.

Lord Jesus, I ask you to touch each person reading these words today. Make yourself real to them and to their loved ones, strengthening them to walk out the lives you’ve blessed them with, giving them joy and hope in the midst of their daily challenges. Reorder our loves, Lord. Help us to love you and love people, and cast aside the things that distract us. Teach us to live humble, thankful, praising lives, and give us your peace, I pray. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

You can never get it back

August 18, 2016 | My Jottings

Here is an endearing photo of my two oldest grandchildren, when they were still my only grandchildren. This was taken in late 2002, I believe. Mr. McBoy is Sharon’s oldest child, and Clara is Carolyn’s oldest. There are now many more in the clan. They all refer to each other as The Cousins. (We are slayed by their originality.)

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And this photo was taken yesterday, when Mr. McBoy and Clara attended their freshman orientation for high school, with their two mamas there in the background. Do you see any resemblances from their baby picture?

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At age 14, Mr. McBoy is now 6′ 1″ tall, and Clara is 5′ 10″. I think they were happy that they have one class together (Science), and they also signed up for Drama Club. (Mr. McBoy for acting, Clara for set design, stage managing, etc.)

I wish I could ponder the passage of time without feeling like wailing. I want to hold each of their days in suspension so I can revel in the beauty and treasure God gives us with life. Our life, their lives, His life.

“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.”  — Harvey Mackay

Toilets and Tears

August 12, 2016 | My Jottings

Friday felicitations, everyone. We love TGIF in this house, because it means that for the next two mornings, we can sleep past 5:43 a.m. I sound like a broken record, but I am a creature of habit and the rhythms of life are pretty basic for me these days. Adventure is not my game and Spontaneous is not my middle name. Although if I had better knees this might not be the case.

It’s nearing the middle of August, and it’s already starting to be dark in the mornings when my fosters and I have breakfast. Turning on the lights in the kitchen and dining room in the morning seems to signal the approach of winter to us. I’m already thinking about how our outdoor hoses will have to be put away, the spigots drained and shut off for the next six months, deck furniture stored in the garage, snow shovels brought out and leaned against the house. You know you live in American Siberia when you just keep your snow shovels leaning against your house for six months out of the year.

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I’ve been helping with driving my grandson Elijah to or from his summer tennis lessons this week. When you have grandchildren between the ages of 22 months and 14 1/2 years, they can change in a matter of weeks. If I don’t see one of them for a month or so, they might grow an inch or talk differently or add words to their vocabulary or just do that dreadful thing called growing. I’ve seen that in Elijah this summer. He has grown much taller, and he doesn’t look like a boy anymore. He looks like a teenager. Which he is. My go-to word for these situations is gaahhh.

I’m reading Shauna Niequist’s new book Present over Perfect and love her writing. I also just finished a book a friend recommended called The Spirituality of the Cross by Gene E. Veith, and I was blessed and challenged by it. I’m about 1/4 of the way through Kristin Hannah’s Nightingale and am hoping it will grab me soon. I have talked to so many people who loved this book, people whose recommendations I trust, and so far it’s good, but not compelling. If any of you have read it, does it reach a point where you can’t put it down? I love those kinds of books, where you’re inwardly plotting as you’re loading the dishwasher or writing out bills, for a time when you can sit down and grab that riveting book again.

Have any of you been watching the Olympics? I have not watched one second of them. I am almost ashamed to admit that, but I am just so bored stiff about sports. I don’t know if growing up the daughter of a high school basketball coach did that to me or what. I enjoyed sports in high school; I played basketball myself in GAA (Girls Athletic Association), I played softball, tennis, volleyball, badminton, and I loved to swim. But tell me there’s a football game on TV or the Olympics are starting, and I’m sure to find anything else to do.

Today will be a blessed day at home for me. No foster care appointments, no tennis lesson for Elijah (although I don’t mind driving for that), no prescriptions to pick up or groceries to buy. I’ll probably don my baggy black sweat pants and an old paint-spattered black t-shirt, and scuff around in my Acorn slippers all day. Dinner is already made — hallelujah! — since I made a huge pot of homemade spaghetti yesterday and simmered it on the stove most of the day. This morning when I got up (in the dark) and headed down the hall to the kitchen, I could still smell the garlic in the air from yesterday’s cooking.

Speaking of garlic in the air, here’s a great air freshener I use. An online friend named Jill told me about it, and I love it. It doesn’t have a bunch of chemicals in it, and it smells clean and cheery. Yes, I think something can smell cheery.  🙂

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I’m alternately chafing and praying about something right now. I was asked to be the speaker at our Community Bible Study leader’s retreat this fall. And they asked me to tailor my (possibly three) speaking times on the life of Corrie ten Boom. I think this was because of the study on Corrie’s book The Hiding Place I held in my home earlier this summer.

My initial response was willingness, along with gratitude at having been asked. I promised to pray about it, and starting asking for guidance and confirmation from the Lord, and I also began taking some notes as thoughts came to me. But then as always happens, I started fretting and thinking there is no way I can do this. I am 58 and much of my audience will be much younger…what could I possibly say to keep their attention and impart something lasting to their hearts? I am too tired for this. I am unqualified or disqualified or too this or not enough that….gahhhh.

So last night before bed I wrote in my journal about all of this, and decided to stop taking notes and just pray. Just keep lifting this possibility up to the Lord and try to listen to what He impresses on my heart.

The topic (the life of the Ten Boom family) would bless anyone. Whether or not I can do it remains to be seen. I’ll keep praying.

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We sure miss Edith around here. Millie still acts like she’s unsure, and wonders what happened. I have Edith’s ashes in a container near Michael’s clothes in the closet, and when the air is crisp and dry and the leaves are blazing with color, we will hold our little ceremony and spread Edith’s ashes over Michael’s grave.

It has been 549 days since I have seen my husband. That is way too long. It seems absolutely too hard and too sad some days. My friend Vicki is a year behind me in her grief journey (she lost her husband to a disease caused by Agent Orange too) and she told me recently that she’s functioning pretty well, but is always about 30 seconds away from tears. Oh, how I understand that. I have felt God’s grace under-girding me and I do not grieve as one who has no hope (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). But all I need to do is hear a song on the radio, look at the shirts hanging in the closet, prepare a meal Michael loved, see a TV show he watched, sing a hymn he boomed, or see whitecaps on Lake Superior (which he called “sheep on the Lake!”), and my eyes fill with tears and I’m overwhelmed with how much I miss him.

Sara and I were laughing at breakfast recently at the memory of how Michael sang love songs to me. If he heard a song on the radio with any line he thought pertained to me (or us), he would turn toward me, gaze at me with those huge eyes, and sing it to me loud.

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And for my last little bit of fascinating Friday trivia, I have a new toilet. There was a really fancy, dual flush, space-age shaped Neptune toilet in our master bathroom when we bought this house in May of 2012. Here’s a picture of it.

unnamedWell, this expensive toilet stopped flushing properly, and for weeks we had to use a pitcher of water to get it to empty. I ordered new innards from the Neptune company in Canada, and the plumber installed them and it made no difference. So I decided to buy a new toilet and get rid of Ms. Fancypants. The one I bought is a “comfort height” toilet, which means it’s 2 inches taller than a standard one. Which means relief for people with groaning knees. Which means me.

I told my daughter that you know you’re getting old when you get super excited about a new toilet. I felt like having an open house so people could come in and gaze at it, and rejoice with me. A toilet that flushes! A toilet easy on the knees! Come one, come all!

Well, I’m off to start my day. Thanks for stopping in… I hope your toilet is flushing and God’s grace is abounding to you.

May you have a very blessed and peaceful weekend,

My Hope Lives On

August 8, 2016 | My Jottings

It seems to me people are looking for hope. But that’s nothing terribly new, is it? With all that’s going on in our country’s presidential campaigns, I’ve heard people say they’ve just lost hope. I am gravely concerned as well, but when I think of the word “hopeless” I think more of times when I’ve been torn apart by worries for my children. I guess I’m selfish in that way, being more concerned for my own than for my country as a whole. Or at least being more moved to pray for those I love than I am for those in positions over me.

I also remember how hopeless I felt trying to care for Michael as he slipped further away from me into Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s. Sometimes I feel despair about the struggles in my own life.

What is the main thing you might be feeling hopeless about?

I may not know what you’re wrestling with, and I might not even know who you are if you read here and don’t leave a comment. But I know there is hope for the one who places their trust in Jesus. No matter how long your situation has gone on, no matter how vehemently you’re being opposed, no matter how strong the addiction, how deep the depression…. I know there’s hope with God. And it doesn’t always matter that we don’t see anything happening. If we pray and trust Jesus, He promises that He is at work. And while we wait on Him, we encourage ourselves and others. And we declare His truths to ourselves.

I love this song by Andrew Peterson and thought I would share. There are a lot of people and situations that call us all to hopelessness these days, but the Lord isn’t one of them.

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.”

Psalm 42:11

I think this song will fill your soul with hope….

In His great hope,

Endings

August 3, 2016 | My Jottings

I woke up this morning five minutes before the alarm was set to go off at 5:43. I reached over in the semidark and patted Millie, who was sleeping curled up in a circle on Michael’s side of the bed. I don’t just spring out of bed anymore like I used to. My knees are stiff and seem to have little knives stuck in them, every tiny bone in my feet shows up for roll call (“Ten hut!”… “First metatarsal! Present – SIR!”…  “Fifth metatarsal! Present – SIR!”… “Proximal phalanges! We’re all present – SIR!”… “Navicular bone! Present – SIR!!”) and my dry eyes do their own sort of complaining that I’m making them perform so early in the morning. You’ve heard the trendy phrases like “Hey girl, fifty is the new thirty!” or “Sixty is the new forty!” I’ll jump on that bandwagon and offer my version: “Baby, fifty-eight is the new seventy-six!” Because for about fifteen minutes each morning, I could swear that’s how old I am.

Yesterday was the eighth and final week of the summer Bible study that meets at my place each year. A group of the dearest women have been gracing my home for about thirteen years now, and we finished up our study of Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place with a simple luncheon. We watched the last segment of the movie, discussed the last of our questions from the final two chapters of the unforgettable, truly life-changing book, and joined around the table for Cobb Salad, Spicy Grape Pasta Salad, slightly dry Lemon Bundt Cake, hearty Dakota Bread, and strong, real Dutch coffee. It felt bittersweet to me, as endings always do.

Sara whipped up a little centerpiece for us (although I wish I had thought to take a photo when the table was set, or even better, when everyone was gathered around it), and I put a little Delft windmill there because the Ten Boom family was from Holland.

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I have come to love and treasure these women and what they bring into my home and our group just by their very presence. When one had to miss because of a child’s wedding or a trip to Canada or due to illness, the void was felt, and we prayed for them and asked Jesus to fill in that gap and to draw them near, in a way. Deb, Kristi, Kay, Dawn, Connie, Laurel, Fiona, Sharla and Sue shared such deep, encouraging and enlightening answers from their study each week. It felt like a feast as we sat in my smallish living room on Tuesday mornings, partaking of the beauty the Lord opened our eyes to. I love how the Lord indwells His people, and that very life in them brings different gifts and manifestations of His love and wisdom and power in individual ways. So it feels a bit sad and empty when our study comes to an end each year.

Aren’t these little cardinal salt and pepper shakers lovely? A thoughtful gift from my friend Kristi.

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After the last hug was exchanged yesterday and I began to slowly put things away, the phone rang. It was our local veterinary clinic, letting me know that Edith’s ashes were ready to be picked up. Ah. Evidence of another ending.

Sara and I still get teary-eyed when we talk about our faithful little Schnauzer who has been gone for almost two weeks now. How she showed her love and loyalty to our family every day for almost fifteen years. I wonder how many humans can make that claim? That without fail, without insult or injury, without neglect or carelessness, they have loved and been completely loyal to their family every single day of their lives? God really did a wonderful thing when He created dogs, I think. Without words, they teach us.

Aha! The title of my first book has just come to me…

With Woofs We Are Taught.

We are planning a little funeral ceremony for Edith soon. We will spread her ashes on Michael’s grave, which we all agree is the perfect place for them.

Millie continues to act very subdued as she seems to notice Edith’s absence. She has no one to dominate now, no one to be jealous of, so she’s acting like a good dog, something relatively new for her. We’ve called her The Bad Seed for years now. Perhaps soon that can change to The Mediocre Seed. 🙂

This morning as I was reading from John, chapter 8, and then writing out my praise, thanks and prayers to Jesus, I glanced over at my bed and had to smile at this sight. Millie’s little schnauzery eyebrows peeking just over the top of the covers as she was settling in for her morning nap. That’s an awwww moment, don’t you think?

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Now I’m heading to the kitchen for round two of cleanup after the luncheon yesterday. A better woman would have gotten it all done in one day, but I did half yesterday and will finish up today. If you’re wondering why I’m taking so long, see the above reference to fifty-eight being the new seventy-six.

The photo below is part of my kitchen this morning, the remaining evidence of the yesterday’s joy. I like that thought, that a mess can remind us that blessings just occurred. I love to putter around my home, and don’t mind picking up at all. I’ll put on a CD I’ll feel like singing to, put on my Birkenstocks so all those little bones in my feet stop calling cadence, and bring some order to the place.

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I’m so grateful that while we live inside of this thing called time and must see the end of people and beasts and things we love, there is a day coming when those who are in Christ will step outside of time and enter eternity. No more endings. No more goodbyes.

If any of you get weary of endings, here’s a beautiful verse from Jeremiah 31 to meditate on today:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.”

God’s love is everlasting. It will never end. And His faithfulness will continue forever, and ever, and ever…..

I thank Him for that!

I have more to share about some of the lights that went on when we studied The Hiding Place, but I’ll save that for later and get to work.

Happy Wednesday to you!

He preserves both man and beast

July 27, 2016 | My Jottings

This is a panoramic photo I took of my bedroom with my newer iPhone. It’s taken from the plaid, overstuffed chair I sit in to read and pray. It’s the view I have most days at some time or another.

Do you see the little furry beast on the bed? If you can’t quite make her out, click the photo to enlarge it. That’s Edith, our oldest schnauzer.

Edith’s earthly life came to an end last Saturday, and every single one of us is feeling her absence in huge ways. Sara and I were with her when the vet sent her flying off to Jesus and Daddy. (I know that animals don’t have souls like humans do, but there will be sheep, wolves, leopards, goats and lions in the hereafter, so I ask you — why not schnauzers? If you’d like the reference about this, it’s Isaiah 11:6).

My dear friend Pat comforted me with Psalm 36:6, which says,

Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
    your judgments are like the great deep;
    man and beast you save, O Lord.

So until I know otherwise, I’m thinking that God loves His creation, and that we could see Edith again. Michael loved Edith so much he saw her in his Lewy Body Dementia hallucinations even when she wasn’t there with him. And Edith loved Michael so much she held quiet and faithful vigil under his hospital bed as he lay dying in February of 2015.

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I was telling my daughter Carolyn that one of the ways I know life is so profound and powerful, so precious and to be vigilantly protected, is that even when the life of a small beast ends, that void is felt so deeply. It almost resounds. How could an 18 pound ailing dog leave such a hole in this house, our hearts, if there wasn’t some kind of beauty and very weighty value to her? I can’t explain it, but I can surely feel it.

Millie, Edith’s younger schnauzer sister, is really noticing that Edith isn’t here anymore. She is so subdued, tries to make eye contact with me all the time, and has her ears back, which always means she’s unsure.

Our fosters miss Edith. Our whole family misses what a patient, faithful pet she was for almost 15 years.

I had intended to dig a grave for Edith, but we’ve had some issues here in our beautiful city. A terrible storm tore through early Thursday morning, ripping thousands of trees from the ground and causing power outages that are still not all restored. And it was hot, hot, hot, while all this was going on. I was in no mood to try to dig a grave. So I reluctantly decided to have Edith cremated, and when her ashes are returned to us, we will hold a little ceremony and spread the ashes over Michael’s grave. That seems so appropriate.

As Millie looked at me longingly this morning, trembling a little, touching my leg with her paw as if to say, “What do we do now?” I thought to myself, another loss…..  But losses only hurt when there’s great love. So for the great love I shared with Michael, for the great love I had for my little Edith, I give thanks to the Lord this day.

Wednesday’s Word — Edition 130

July 20, 2016 | My Jottings

“Every Monday I leave the routines of my daily work and hike along the streams and through the forests… The first hours of that walk are uneventful; I am tired, sluggish, inattentive. Then birdsong begins to penetrate my senses, and the play of light on oak leaves and asters catches my interest. In the forest of trees, one sycamore forces its solid rootedness on me, and then sends my eyes arcing across trajectories upwards and outwards. I have been walking these forest trails for years, but I am ever and again finding an insect that I have never seen before startling me with its combined aspects of ferocity and fragility. How many more are there to be found?

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“A rock formation, absolutely new, thrusts millions of years of prehistory into my present. This creation is so complex, so intricate, so profuse with life and form and color and scent! And I walk through it deaf and dumb and blind, groping my way, stupidly absorbed in putting one foot in front of the other, seeing a mere fraction of what is there. The Monday walks wake me up, a little anyway, to what I miss in my sleepy routines. The wakefulness lasts, sometimes, through Thursday, occasionally all the way to Sunday. A friend calls these weekly rambles “Emmaus walks”: “And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.” (Luke 24:31.

Eugene H. Peterson, Reversed Thunder

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