And in eyebrow news….

September 29, 2017 | My Jottings

I thought I’d pop in here today to share something a bit different. I’m getting ready to go out to dinner and a play at our community playhouse with a former neighbor of mine, but here’s a little something about eyebrows.

Eyebrows?

Yes.

I have been noticing hubcaps and eyebrows since I was a little girl. Hubcaps probably don’t impact a person’s life very much, but eyebrows make a huge difference in the way a person looks, I think. As I’ve gotten older (in my 60s now), I’ve noticed that many women my age and older have some eyebrow issues.

I actually started to see some sparseness in my eyebrows when I was in my 50s, and did what most women do I guess…used an eyebrow pencil. The problem with this for me was that my natural brows are fairly flat and don’t have a very pronounced arch, so penciling in an arch was always a little outside my natural browline.

Couple sparse eyebrows with worsening vision that makes it next to impossible to see if you’re doing a decent job, and all of a sudden you’re an older woman who looks like this. Or this.

So after a lot of research and consideration, I decided to go to the only business in our town who specializes in microblading eyebrows. I didn’t want my eyebrows tattooed, because I didn’t want to make that commitment, plus I know two people who’ve done it, and their brows faded terribly. If you’re not familiar with microblading, click here and look at these before and after pictures! The trained, licensed technician measures your face and bone structure carefully and shows you the shape they will/could be, and then creates tiny semi-permanent hairstrokes over your own eyebrows that make it hard to tell they’re not really all your own.

So here’s a picture I took with my iPhone the day I had it done, so I could text my three daughters who were anxious to see the results.

The “hairs” toward the outside of my eye are not hairs at all, but tiny microbladed pigment lines that will last for about a year.

I don’t have to squint and haphazardly draw on my eyebrows anymore.

I would really recommend this to women who have thinning eyebrow issues. My daughter knows someone who lost her brows from cancer treatment, and decided to have microblading done. Her stunning results helped me decide to take the leap.

I realize with all that’s going on in the world this seems like such a vain and lightweight thing. I’m sorry if this rubs anyone the wrong way.

My mother-in-law used to say she felt naked if she went out of the house without her eyebrows drawn on. I don’t think I was quite to that point, but it is very nice to not have to think about eyebrows at all. Not that hubcaps or eyebrows have been given that much real estate in my brain, but you know what I mean….

Walking On

August 28, 2017 | My Jottings

I, who dearly love my quiet times and solitude, have had the busiest couple of months I’ve had in years. I have always guarded my calendar and intentionally kept days blank each week as much as possible, and that has changed quite a lot. I’m still processing the changes.

Along with a new friendship that feels like a part-time job in many ways, I am still struggling with how to put words to what our family experienced in early June. I want to do justice to the post I’ve started, when I share about my beloved tenth grandchild, Hannah Joy, who went to heaven ninety minutes after she was born. I have the most precious photos and feelings and yearnings I want to write about, but just haven’t been able to as of yet.

My daughter Carolyn, son-in-law Jeremy, and their family have walked through such a sorrow-filled time, and I have been humbled and grateful to see God’s faithfulness to them. Sometimes there are just no words, even for someone given to verbosity.

I have walked in the cemetery regularly this summer, and now the season is coming to a close and autumn is showing its welcome presence. We’ve had a muggy few months and I love the promise of dry air, crisp nights and blazing trees.

Here is the place I always park my car when I take my morning walks.

I’m not sure why dappled sunlight filtering through tree leaves moves me so much, but it always does. Even when I’m driving and I see this kind of light, I always notice and say aahhhh. Maybe I’m being taught that light shining through dark brings beauty. Jesus does that in our lives, doesn’t He?

We have a beautiful Lakewalk in our city that runs right along the shores of vast and breathtaking Lake Superior, and it’s about two stones’ throw from my house, but I don’t walk there nearly as much as I do in the cemetery where Michael’s body rests, where Hannah’s body rests, and where mine will rest someday. The Lakewalk is wonderful, but there are bikers, dogwalkers, skaters and joggers, and it can feel a bit traffic heavy. The cemetery is quiet, gorgeous, and soothing to me, and there are miles of paths. I usually walk 1.5 miles.

I love how from almost any place in the large cemetery, I can stop and turn toward one hill and pick out Michael’s headstone and grave. I didn’t plan it this way, but when I chose the spot for his (and eventually my) burial, I didn’t know that the light colored granite and the height of the site would make it stand out even from afar.

There are two large ponds there, with ducks and geese abounding. I’ve seen deer and foxes too. You can click to slightly enlarge this photo if you like — the arrow points to Michael’s headstone.

Now the maple trees are starting to show off, and the squirrels are more active, gathering their winter stores. I have two chipmunks who frequent my deck and probably live underneath it. I actually turned my furnace on for a little while last weekend, and the hints of fall and winter make me feel content. I’m much more of a turtleneck, SmartWool socks, simmering soup, fire in the hearth kind of person, than a gardening, shorts, picnic with potato salad sort.

Maybe someone will need to remind me of that when dark and treacherous January arrives, and there seems to be only eight hours of daylight and the furnace never goes off and the icicles hanging from the roof are five feet long and it’s sixteen below zero outside. I’ll probably be talking potato salad and flowers right around then. (But never shorts!)

Today I have a foster care provider meeting to attend, and later tonight I’ll be attending our first Community Bible Study leaders’ dinner. The CBS season begins next month and will go through May. This will be my twentieth year in CBS, and now seems like a good time to recommend it to you once again. There just might be a CBS class in your area, and you can check right here. From the drop-down menu, you can choose your state and see where the nearest CBS class is located. There are classes all over the world in over eighty countries, and if you’re outside of the US, check here.

I will be a Core Group Leader again this year, and I always look forward to receiving my core group list, to see who God has placed in my group for the next thirty weeks. I begin to pray for them right away, and ask God to prepare our hearts and minds to gather around our table with the feast that is God’s Word.

Young and old, unchurched and very churched, freely charismatic and deeply liturgical, the Lord always meets us when we open our Bibles and ask Him to be there with us, teaching us, correcting us, training us, encouraging us. The older I get the more acutely I see how much I need His power and mercy, and I always find it there in His Word.

Speaking of old…. I’m about to leave my fifties behind. That feels okay to me. From the vantage point of almost sixty years old, I turn to look behind me and see a lot of sorrow (much of it self-inflicted) and foolishness. What I see most clearly, however, is the patience and wonder and love of God. I pray that however long I live into my sixties, He will strengthen me to love Him more deeply, represent Him more accurately, and praise and thank Him as effortlessly as I draw breath.

A Segway Segue

July 10, 2017 | My Jottings

I haven’t posted in a while. I have a lot to write about, but there’s one important thing I need to share first, and I’m having a very hard time getting it all down in print. Our family has experienced a deep sorrow recently, and so far, the words just keep swirling around in my heart and mind and I can’t get them all out yet. I will though.

In the meantime, here is a lighthearted picture I love, taken last month. I took my two oldest grandchildren on a Segway tour in our city, and we had such a fun time. Clara and Cullen are both 15 now, and I hope I gave them a sweet memory.

I hope your summer is going well, and I thank you for stopping by my little place on the web.

Too much time on my hands?

June 1, 2017 | My Jottings

One of my sons-in-law helped me with a project recently, and as we passed my closet I showed him what I had recently done. Just on a quick whim, I hung my tops in colorful order. It took all of one minute.

When my son-in-law saw the rainbow, he raised his eyebrows, blinked a couple of times, smiled a little, and said, “You’ve got too much time on your hands.”

We laughed, but it’s not true. I have the same job, tasks, responsibilities I’ve always had, with the same 24 hours each day, but too much time? No.  🙂

If you were to take a look at my spice cabinet or my freezer or any number of other places in my home, you might think I needed some help. But for now, I’ve got my tops hung by color.

Do you have anything in your home creatively organized?

Random words about food and people

May 26, 2017 | My Jottings

Happy Friday to you! It’s a cloudy, drizzly day in Northeastern Minnesota, just perfect for puttering around in the house, playing some music in the background, and for a pot of soup. Fortunately, the soup is already done, because yesterday I made a huge pot of Chicken Tortilla Soup with all the fixings (grated Monterey Jack cheese, chopped fresh avocados, sour cream, strips of corn tortillas crisped up in a skillet with some coconut oil, chopped cilantro, and wedges of fresh lime).

I had four lovely women over for lunch, and our meal was simple: the aforementioned soup, and oatmeal cookies with fudge stripes on them for dessert. And coffee and ice water. The day was gorgeous with plenty of sun, and we enjoyed each others’ company and conversation for about two hours that literally flew by.

The week before, six friends from my senior grief support group came for lunch, and that was a grand time as well. Michael and I used to have people over for dinner on a regular basis before he got sick, and I have been out of the habit for years. Recently I wondered to myself what I have to offer in this part of my life, and the first thing that came to me was my house…my table…a few humble meals. To look across or around a table and see the lovely faces of people I care about — well, that is a rich gift. I don’t even try to make things perfect anymore. Not that they ever were — ha. Yesterday when one of the Sues here (there were three!) needed to use the bathroom, I directed her to the one off my bedroom and told her the main one hadn’t been cleaned. And I felt pretty darn okay about that. It must be that I’m getting old.

My oldest daughter Sharon recently had a milestone birthday, and my three girls and I went out to breakfast at one of our favorite places, The Duluth Grill. My new choice for breakfast is their Huevos Rancheros, and here’s a picture of it:

It’s a pile of textures and flavors and colorful deliciousness I think I’m going to try to recreate at home soon. Huevos are pretty basic, but The Grill drizzles something they call Mojo Sauce over it that takes eggs and potatoes and guac to the next level. I wish I knew how to make Mojo Sauce. Maybe it would help me get my mojo back. (That was a terrible joke.) I don’t know if I ever lost my mojo. Maybe I could tell you if I actually knew what mojo was.

Nothing makes me happier than all my daughters in my presence, and some laughter and ease between us all. I felt very grateful for the morning as we all said goodbye and went off to our own appointments and responsibilities. And I marveled that I am the mom of grown women, one of whom is in her forties now, and the other two not far behind. Whoa.

As usual, I’ve been walking in the cemetery a couple of times a week, and the Canada geese married couples have hatched their babies. There are downy yellow goslings in the ponds and on the hills, and it fills my heart with wonder and joy to watch them. The other day two vigilant parents bobbed their heads menacingly as I approached, warning me to not get too close. I stopped and watched the five babies about 15 feet from me, all eating grass like it was going to vanish in one hour if they didn’t devour it right then and there. The little peeps they make are like the sounds of heaven to me. Have you ever heard a Canada gosling peep? I think most of us recognize the deep honk of the parents, but the little peeps of the babies melt the heart.

It has been 837 days since Michael moved to heaven. He is doing just fine, I know. I wonder if there are geese in heaven? Or Huevos Rancheros? I know there is a big table in heaven, with a feast prepared for those who belong to Him. Sara and I talked about Michael this morning, speculating on what he might be doing. We know he’s worshiping the Lord, because he loved to do that on earth. Is there work to be done in heaven? If there is, we guessed that maybe Michael has been caring for birds and animals. He was sort of like a modern day Francis of Assisi who attracted birds and animals in an uncanny way. Sara also wondered (since Michael was a builder) if he would be allowed to work on my mansion (see John 14:2). I realize we really don’t know exactly how things are in heaven, but having my husband there makes it a place I want to ponder more than ever before.

My oldest grandson will be 15 years old tomorrow. This is where I stop typing, take off my glasses, hold my head in my hands and cry out, “Gaahhhh!” I can’t believe Mr. McBoy is almost 6′ 4″ tall and only has 3 more years before going off to college. I want him to be careful. I want him to study diligently. I want him to learn to joyfully serve others. I want him to experience how much God really loves Him. I want him to drive slowly, work hard, embrace humility, choose his relationships well, learn to pray, give thanks, have more foresight than teen boys are known for, respect his parents, be kind to his siblings, honor God, and always remember Who it is that gives him his very breath.

Mr. McBoy doesn’t know that we have a goofy birthday planned for him. I’m smiling this moment thinking about the look on his face as he opens the gifts we have for him. He has chosen The Duluth Grill for the family gathering, and I probably won’t have Huevos Rancheros. The Cobb Salad is my lunch or dinner choice there.

Well, I think this post has had an awful lot about food in it. I’ll try to write about inedible things next time.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend,

Two relaxing days

May 4, 2017 | My Jottings

I just got home from grocery shopping, and it’s so beautiful outside. It’s my definition of perfect weather — about sixty degrees, not humid, sunshiny, and an occasional faint breeze.

What is the weather where you are? If you could snap your fingers and make your own perfect weather, what would that look like for you? I know someone who functions best and is happiest when the temps are in the low nineties and the humidity is high. Every time I hear that I think I’m talking to an alien who can’t possibly have the same kind of human body the rest of us have… those kinds of conditions are at the bottom of my weather list.

I took this picture last week at the cemetery when I was walking. You can see that we don’t really have leaves yet, but there are little lime green buds popping out everywhere. I loved the bark on this tree, and the clinging lichen.

Yesterday I spent the day with a friend from the grief support group I attend. He has asked me to go out for a meal with him a couple of times now, and while this feels very strange, we’ve had nice times together. It feels unsettling because Michael is still in my blood and my mind and my heart, and will never not be. Ever.

My friend knows that I don’t ever want to get married again and am not looking for romance so we talk, walk, reminisce about our spouses, drive and listen to music, have lunch together, and occasionally text.

He lives an hour away from me in a log home in the woods, and he picked me up yesterday so we could take a drive up the north shore of Lake Superior, do a little light hiking near Gooseberry Falls, and then have a leisurely lunch together. The waterfalls were swollen from the snow melt, raging and breathtaking, and we sat on a bench and shared more of our stories with each other. His wife had lupus, cancer, and eventually dementia, which made the last ten years of their marriage arduous and sorrowful. He cared for her the whole time.

On the way home we stopped at this adorable place and we each selected a piece of freshly made candy to savor. I chose a caramel cream dipped in chocolate with a little sea salt sprinkled on top, he chose cashews dipped in dark chocolate.

It was a gift to appreciate the beauty of northern Minnesota in the spring, and I made a decision to try to walk more than I have been. Being outside is so healing, I know, but a woman who is a certified homebody and loves nesting and being cozy inside has to fight herself to get outside. Most of you probably don’t relate.

I’m getting ready to try a new recipe. It’s called African Peanut Soup, and if it’s as good as I’ve read, I’ll post a picture and share the recipe with you soon.

In closing, I think I’m past due for sending out a little gift like I used to do once in a while. It’s this CD, unopened, and it’s one of my favorites.

I’ll list three small grocery lists below, and you’ll have to guess which one is part of what I really bought today. For those who guess correctly, I’ll put your names in a hat and draw one name out at random, and then send you your CD in the mail!

Grocery List #1

Wheaties
Lemons and limes
Crunchy peanut butter
Extra lean ground beef
Stevia
Grated cheddar cheese
Paper napkins
Box of barley

Grocery List #2

Old Home plain yogurt
Organic romaine lettuce
Unscented dryer sheets
Block of Monterey Jack cheese
Sweet potatoes
Organic chicken broth
Potato chips
Raisins

Grocery List #3

Purple onions
Asparagus
Birthday card for grandson
Distilled water
Cheerios
Haagen-Dazs Peanut Butter and Chocolate ice cream
Deli shaved turkey
Triscuit crackers

I bought a lot of groceries today, much more than any of these lists, but only one of the lists has items that were in my cart. Go ahead and leave a comment below, and take a guess which is the accurate grocery list. I’ll wait a couple of days, then let you know who won.

I’m off to sink into my comfy overstuffed bedroom chair to do my CBS lesson now. Then I’ll change the furnace filter, pick up grandgirls from school, and get some dinner going. I’m so grateful for the occasional blank calendar day that allows me to renew and rest, and not have to go from one appointment to the next.

Who will win the music?

Wednesday’s Word — Edition 136

May 3, 2017 | My Jottings

“Oh what a sea of blood, a sea of wrath, of sin, of sorrow and misery, did the Lord Jesus wade through for your internal and eternal good!”

~Charles Spurgeon

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House Stuff and Heavenly Hopes

April 28, 2017 | My Jottings

Spring seems like a good time to tend to house projects put on the back burner during the long winter, so today two of those projects were done.

Michael and I moved into this house (named Gilead by my friend Ember) on May 31, 2012, so it has been five years since our second floor windows have been washed on the outside. Gah. The easy-to-reach ones have been done, of course, but neither Michael or I were ladder-worthy, so I let things go. Have you heard of the term “house blind?” It’s when you live with something in your home for so long, you stop seeing it. I had stopped noticing the dirt on the outside of my bedroom windows. I looked out of them every day and marveled at the lovely view of Lake Superior so close by, but I had become blind to the dirt that five years of snow and sleet and rain and wind have plastered to the panes.

This was before the window washers arrived this morning. It’s an upstairs view toward the east, as the sun was coming up over the big Lake. Can you see the film of dirt on the glass?

The two cheerful young men removed and wiped down all the screens, jockeyed around on the ladders they’d leaned against the house, and deftly moved furniture around on the inside, and in less than two hours we had glass so clean we couldn’t tell there was glass. They told me they had tried many cleaning agents, and the very best is five squirts of Dawn dishwashing liquid in three gallons of hot water. “It gives the best glide” for their squeegees.

Obviously, the before photo is on the left, and the after photo is on the right.

The second project that was completed today was a new garage door installation. Soon after Michael and I moved in, I noticed that the man door of our garage was beginning to rust at the bottom where the snow piled up. I made a mental note about painting it with a rust-proof paint, but then Michael’s health took a steep decline over the next couple of years, and I never got around to it. By last winter the rust had spread and I knew I had waited too long.

Here’s a photo of the rusty door, along with some tools sitting in front of it:

I called four companies for estimates on this job, and the prices ranged from $750 to $1831. To hang a door! I was ready to go with the lowest price when my son-in-law Jeremy saw the door on Easter and said, “Please let me replace that garage door for you!” He has a wife, five children, a job, a house in progress, and a baby on the way, so even though I was grateful for his offer, I told him I was getting ready to hire one of the companies who had given me an estimate.

Jeremy texted the next day and asked again, saying he really wanted to take care of this for me, and I accepted. I felt a little guilty for adding more to his plate, but I knew he would do a good job and it would save me a few dollars too.

I let Jeremy pick out the door, but requested only that the windows be higher on the door than the last one. I didn’t want to have curtains festooned with spider webs in the garage anymore. I love the door he picked, and am thrilled with the job he did.

I think the higher window panes sort of mimic the ones in the larger garage doors.

For a woman who loves color, I have a very white house. The siding is white, the doors are white, the gutters and trim are white. I considered putting shutters on the house when we bought it, but I’ve grown to like the look.

Sara and I watched a movie the other night that I’m still thinking about. Have any of you seen Lion?  Here’s the trailer if you haven’t heard of it. The power of love in that movie made me feel just a little undone.

On Wednesday I went to the grief support group I’ve been attending for over a year now. It was sparsely attended because of the ice storm going on that morning; instead of the usual 12-16 seniors who come, we had four. It was actually very nice, and then afterward the four of us went out to lunch. We sat together and shared stories, pasts, pictures on our iPhones, and food for almost four hours, and the time just flew. I have come to care deeply about the friends I’ve made in this group. We all seem to read each other almost effortlessly…there’s something about shared and understood grief that helps people to bond, I guess.

Tomorrow I have an annual report to write for one of my foster gals, a morning walk in the cemetery with my friend Su, and a catch-up dinner at The Olive Garden with my friend Sue. I’m thanking God ahead of time for the privilege of all three. Grace upon grace!

As of today, I have now lived 809 days without Michael. Each day brings me closer to seeing him again, and I try to remember this when I open my eyes in the morning and look across the acreage of my king-sized bed, or when I hear a song we both loved to belt out together in the car. Sometimes I try to picture what Michael must look like now that he has met his Savior face to face. When he used to sing and worship here on earth, the expression on his face was so earnest and full of joy. I can’t imagine what he must look like in full vitality and health and true happiness. And I try to imagine what Jesus in all of His glory looks like too, but I know I don’t even come close. Matthew tried to describe Him in chapter 17, but his words fall short too — they must.

I do know that where Michael is, there’s no dirt obscuring the views of anyone’s mansion windows. There is no rust on the doors there. (See Matthew 6:19-21). There will be no cemeteries in which to walk, because there will be no more disease and death. What a powerful God we have!

Well, once again I didn’t get to some of the things I’ve been meaning to share about here. I tend to get so wordy, and that hinders me from writing about what feels like a long spiritual journey. Who wants to read hundreds of words about such things? Only a few, and I’m grateful for you seven who stop in now and then. 🙂

God’s peace to you,

About Welcomes

April 23, 2017 | My Jottings

Yesterday afternoon I looked at the thermometer on the railing of my front deck, and it read 72 degrees. Unless you live north of Minneapolis, you might not realize how glorious this was. Lime green buds have formed on the trees, robins are hopping around in yards and on my next door neighbor’s roof, and the grass is greening everywhere.

This morning, it’s snowing.

Big flakes are drifting from the greyish sky, and in less than twelve hours my mindset has shifted from exploring mode to nesting mode. We Minnesotans know that any snow that falls in late April won’t be around for long, so we don’t despair, but we still take note. And write about the weather incessantly on our blogs and in our newspapers, and talk about it with cashiers and waiters we aren’t acquainted with.

Yesterday I was invited over for breakfast and devotions at my friends Steve and Diane’s house. I hadn’t spent time with them in a while, and it was a delight to share over three hours with them, catching up but only scratching the surface. I wish all our days could be as full yet as leisurely as what I experienced in their home. They are in the process of completely renovating a lovely old house, so there was sheetrock on the walls, exposed joists and much left to be done, yet it was the warmest, most welcoming haven. I remember Michael’s and my first home, and how we lived with remodeling for a long time, but still loved to have people over. If it didn’t bother us, we were hoping it wouldn’t bother anyone else.

We recited part of the Heidelberg Catechism, sang some scripture songs, read from the Old and New Testaments and the Psalms, and the day’s devotional from Spurgeon. We prayed together and had the most delicious late breakfast I’ve had in longer than I can remember.

Diane made homemade English muffins, which were cooked in a skillet, and breakfast sausage sauteed together with onion and peppers and tiny potatoes, with perfectly cooked over-easy eggs on top of all the savory goodness. We smeared strawberry jam over the hot English muffins, sipped coffee and orange juice, and sat around the table visiting and while the last hour passed in no time.

We talked of the bond that happens when you prepare food with someone and then sit down at the table to enjoy it together, a pleasure from the Lord we often rush through or forego entirely as we sit in front of the TV with plates on our laps. We talked about how possible it might be that being nourished by slow and purposeful food preparation in the company of those we love (and/or those we’ve newly invited) could feed us in a way that would help us to not fill up so mindlessly on food itself. A profound thought for me.

I want to keep opening my home and have set a loose goal of having a group of people over at least once a month for a nice meal. I learned from Steve and Diane (and Diane’s mom Mary Lou) yesterday that it might not be necessary to have every single thing done by the time people walk in the door. I would like to learn to be less precise, less scheduled, when it comes to hospitality. I will keep at it, and ask the Lord to guide me. After all, He is the Master of welcome, and would teach me much if I sat at His feet to listen.

This summer the women’s Bible study I host in my home will be doing “Wonder Struck” by Margaret Feinberg. I’m reading the trade book in preparation for the study itself, and it’s excellent. Our group hasn’t done a study by Margaret before, so it will seem quite different of course, after having done so many Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer courses. I’m usually not one who loves change, but in this area I’m craving it.

In one of the chapters of Margaret Feinberg’s trade book, I loved her words about Lent:

“I couldn’t help but reflect on the way I had approached the forty days before Easter. I’d approached the season by asking, ‘What will I give up for Lent?’ as if Lent’s whole focus is asceticism. But Lent’s concern isn’t in removing something as much as receiving Someone. The passion of Lent is Christ. The annual sojourn calls for a more focused relationship with God.”

I “received” Jesus Christ as my Savior when I was twelve years old, but I want to receive Him again and again, around my table, in my mind, through my music, in my prayers, through my friends, through His Word and at His table. It’s such a wonderful and mysterious journey we walk as Christians. I’m grateful for the lovely ways He unfolds things to us as we face each day with Him.

My next door neighbor’s daughter gave her season tickets to our local community playhouse, so my neighbor (also a widow) invited me to see the current production with her. Last night she and I went out to dinner and saw a musical I have no words for. It was called “La Cage Aux Folles,” and apparently a movie called “The Birdcage” was based on it, which I never saw. We had seats in the middle, second row back, so were presented with details I didn’t want from men made up and dressed as women and men in passionate love with men, and I will be honest, if my dear neighbor hadn’t invited me I would have slipped out and gone home. The “moral” people in the show who were said to value traditional families were made to be complete buffoons, and I guess this is the way of things now.

It just made me want to come home, talk to the Lord about a few things (like my own self-righteousness, lack of love, clinging to my safe and familiar ways), and plan to open my home to some friends for a slow and nourishing meal. Soup, bread, salad, and heartening conversation. Nothing mocking, hopefully nothing irreverent. Hope around the table, and fellowship, that’s what I want.

Do you regularly have guests in for a meal? I’d love to know if you do or don’t, and your thoughts on this.

Lastly, have any of you watched the new show on TV called “Long Lost Family?” It’s on TLC (The Learning Channel on cable) and if you haven’t seen it, you must! It comes on here Sunday nights, but I record it on the DVR so we always have the episodes. I think it’s one of the best things on television. Each week there are two stories about someone looking for family they didn’t grow up with, either because an adoption took place, or the separation of siblings due to family hardship. Two really compassionate and likeable people who themselves were adopted as children, research and research and research through the online site called Ancestry, and help reunite siblings or children to their birth parents. Sara and I watch it every week and we wouldn’t miss it. It’s one of the most uplifting, encouraging, loving shows on television. It exemplifies the adoptive, restoring heart of God and I hope if you haven’t seen it, you’ll watch it tonight. Or whenever it’s on in your area. Here’s a short trailer if you’d like to see.

Well, I guess I’ll wish you all a blessed Sunday, and begin my day. May the peace and strength of Jesus fill our minds and homes, I pray….

Sagging skin and other things

April 17, 2017 | My Jottings

It’s almost time for bed, but not quite, so I thought I’d prop some pillows up around me and tap out a few things on my laptop.

I just finished a unique book and really liked it. It’s entitled A Man Called Ove. My friend Linda recommended it to me when we went out to lunch not long ago. It was a slow starter for sure, but that doesn’t usually deter me in a book. It took several chapters to be likeable, but soon I was laughing out loud, and by the end of the book I cried too. There were moments of real beauty in the pages.

So I was pretty happy to learn that there’s a movie based on the book, and I finished that tonight. It’s a Swedish film and was subtitled, but it was worth watching.

A couple of days ago I was feeling feisty and decided to take a close-up selfie and send it to my friend Su for a laugh. It showed all the lines and sags in my skin, and I captioned it, “You too can have younger looking skin!” and texted her I thought I’d look for a skin care gig. She got a kick out of it, as I did.

That prompted me to do a comparison, and here it is below. You may have seen this first photo on the blog before — this was my kindergarten picture at Workman Avenue Elementary School in West Covina, California. There’s a tragic story about my hair in this photo — you can read about it here.

Age 5….

And age 59…

Fifty-four years have passed between these two pictures, and the first thing that comes to mind is how faithful and kind God has been to me. I can hardly believe I’m still alive sometimes! The close calls, the darkness and instability, the pain and dysfunction, the wrong thinking and the sin…oh my. To be fair, there have been some pretty wonderful times in these five decades as well. There was fun and love, hearth and home, family and friends and hope and forgiveness too. In huge measure.

At times it feels so disorienting to be in a new phase of life where I am no longer defined by the words married or wife. I might be brushing my teeth in the morning and glance up at the mirror in my bathroom and a thought will flash into my mind that I’m single now. Not married. No one’s wife. It doesn’t sucker punch me like it did a year ago, but there’s still a thud in my insides when I remember this new truth. I still feel like I’m Michael’s wife, but the law tells me I’m not. I know that divorced people understand this too.

Other changes come with widowhood. I’ve read a handful of good books these last two years and mentioned most of them here. The most recent one was by Miriam Neff, a Christian author who shares about her godly husband and his suffering with ALS, and his eventual death. They had just retired and were looking forward to travel, adventure and ministry, when God allowed all those dreams to be interrupted by hardship. Miriam has a website for widows I’ve found helpful, and something she wrote about there struck me hard. She says:

“I read before becoming a widow that we will lose 75% of the people we believed were our friends. That won’t be me, I thought, as friends flooded our lives during my husband’s terminal illness. The statistic has been true for me as well. During my first year alone, the exit of friends has been one of the more painful parts of my journey. I have pondered, researched, wept, and confided in those still in my life.”

When I read this I thought, “Seventy-five percent?!” That means if a woman has four good friends, she may have one left after her husband dies. There are numerous reasons for the exit of previously trusted and what we thought were lifelong friends from our lives, but none of those reasons really help when you are the one wondering what happened. I haven’t done any math because I don’t want to, but I can say that some of the people I thought were friends I’d grow old with have pretty much turned away now. In my lifetime, I’ve had at least four close friends who were widowed, and I would never have considered pulling away from them in those dark times of their lives. I don’t say this in any way to boast — I have been a thoughtless friend at times and have had to ask for forgiveness. I have nothing to brag about. But it’s hard for me to understand why this has happened. To say that it has brought me pain is an understatement.

But somehow the Lord always brings us through the things we never thought we’d have to face. I’ve learned to sit in my sorrow or confusion and wait on the Lord. Not perfectly, but with some progress. I know He loves me and will never forsake me, and I also believe with all my heart that He has a purpose for every single thing. He knows I want to change and learn and grow. I don’t shy away from the word repentance these days, and I ask Him to help me live a life of gratitude, praise and humble repentance. I wonder if I made Jesus grimace right then. Does He grimace? I hope not. Because my life is sometimes so far from those three attributes I mentioned. I ask Him anyway. And keep coming back to His feet.

Tomorrow is Community Bible Study and we are less than a month from Sharing Day, and breaking for the summer. How does 30 weeks fly by like a jet? I want time to fly by like a hot air balloon. Our weeks in the gospel of Matthew have been a rich blessing, and the love we all have for each other in our core group is something I will cherish forever.

Well, this was a post with a lot of twists and turns. I was going to share about Easter, about my new church, my new denomination, my travel plans, the summer Bible study our group will be doing, and about a “date” I went on recently. But I’m tired and my red and black flannel sheets are beckoning. Another time.

God bless and keep you, dear ones…

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