Chairs: A Pictorial Essay
March 30, 2009 | My Jottings
This is one of the chairs in our (still not quite finished) living room. There’s a taupe-colored couch in there too, but this post is about chairs, not couches. This plaid chair hopes to have an upholstered, floral chair to keep it company someday.
And this is one of the chairs in our den. The dogs like to lay on the doily and shriek bark at any and all movement outside the front window.
And this is another (very old) chair in our den. It used to belong to my mother.
And this is one of the six (identical) chairs around our kitchen table.
This is the chair I sit in most – it’s in our bedroom sitting area. I read here, write in my journal here, and often talk to my heavenly Father here. I’m also trying to learn to be still enough to hear His voice more often.
And this is the other chair in our bedroom sitting area. Michael prefers this one because it’s firmer. We sit together in the late mornings and this is where we read the Bible, pray together, and sometimes have Scottish shortbread and tea while we enjoy a few minutes of quiet.
A Sitting Ovation
March 27, 2009 | My Jottings
I’ve been thinking about thankfulness, and what it might mean to the Lord, and what effect it has on my life. When life is not going as expected, it sometimes takes an act of the will to be thankful, especially if you’re a person who usually sees the glass half-empty rather than half-full.
I am so very grateful for many things in my life. God has been good to me and I thank Him every day for the mercies and blessings He has poured out on my family. But I also know that when I’m overwhelmed or worried regarding one aspect of life, that lack of trust in Him unfortunately tends to overshadow the other areas that are going well. And then I find myself in a ditch, stuck and desperately needing to get back up on the road He has called me to.
A few years ago I was doing a Bible study with friends and the speaker talked about how she gives God standing ovations when He does something wonderful for her. She said she believes that if we make a big deal about something the Lord does for us, He might take note of our thankfulness and be apt to do something for us again. She also remarked on how when we give gifts, we’re so pleased when the recipient really likes what we’ve given and shows it, and how disappointing it is when we give to someone who shows little or no gratitude.
Well, I have been trying to hone my gratitude skills. A couple of days ago I learned something that made me experience a tiny shred of hope about something big I’m praying and trusting God for. It’s something that is absolutely impossible without God. In the natural, what I learned the other day wasn’t really all that huge, but I was not going to get caught being ungrateful. I had to run an errand right after this teensy bit of hopeful information came to me, and instead of just saying under my breath, “Thank you, Jesus” and letting it go at that, it occurred to me that maybe I could put a little more effort into my thanks for a change. That aforementioned Bible study came to my mind, and as I drove I began to clap my hands (mostly at stop signs and traffic lights) and thank God out loud for what He did. Pretty soon I was sobbing and applauding Him passionately and crying out to Him in praise and thanksgiving at the top of my lungs. I drove and clapped (carefully), steered and praised, crying out to Him for the longest time, that I had noticed! I saw the little thing that He did! I knew it was Him! And I was offering my best, loudest, most vigorous praise and thanks that I could give. I was truly overtaken with gratitude and wanted my Father to know it.
Now, I’m not entirely comfortable with really wild and loud public displays of praise and worship. I know this is my problem and I do not judge others who are free to express their feelings for the Lord in ways I probably never will. But by myself in the car the other day, I felt completely overcome with the desire to make a big deal out of even the (seemingly) smallest answer to prayer, and didn’t care a whit who might have seen me. I wanted the Lord to know how thankful I am for His help and love in my life and in the lives of those so close to my heart.
Psalm 47:1 – Oh clap your hands, all ye peoples; Shout unto God with the voice of triumph!
I’m assuming that anyone reading this blog post is sitting at their computer. For what or whom can you give God a sitting ovation today? Do you dare clap your hands in gratitude for anything He’s done for you or given to you? How about for drinking water? Clap your hands! For healthy children? Clap your hands! Do you have one friend? Clap your hands all you people!
What do you thank Him for today? And tell us, did you really clap your hands?
March 24, 2009 | My Jottings
Yesterday I asked my daughter and her husband if my grandson Elijah could spend the night at Grandpa and Grandma’s. I have a bad sinus infection and don’t feel good at all, but I’m not contagious and Elijah is no trouble and is always such good company.
After dinner while I was resting in our bedroom, Elijah was playing happily at the foot of the bed with his Legos. He built ships, swords, and various Star Wars implements with them. Then he played a neat one-person game called Rush Hour, and we chatted while he played. He seemed to understand that I was under the weather, and it was a pleasant, quiet evening as I rested and we enjoyed being together.
When it was time for bed we played “I Spy With My Little Eyes” as we always do, choosing something in the room of a certain color, while the other person tries to guess what it is. These simple games are honestly very enjoyable for me because there’s nothing more wonderful than just being with my grandbabies.
When I tucked Elijah into bed, prayed for him and told him all the things I loved about him, it was quiet and peaceful. After a few minutes he spoke up sleepily and said, “Grandma, there are three things that are the same in you and me.”
“Really? What are they?” I asked, wondering where his thoughts had taken him.
“Well, you and I both like green and blue. And we both like dogs and have dogs.”
“You are so right, Lije. Those are things we both have in common. What’s the third thing?” I asked.
He sat up halfway on his elbow a bit and looked straight at me from his pallet/bed on the floor, so I knew the third thing he was about to share would reveal something momentous in his estimation. Elijah nodded solemnly as he said, “Grandma, and we both have lamps in our bedrooms!”
Someday Elijah will understand how much it means that we actually share flesh and blood, and a heritage of faith in Jesus, but for now, green and blue, dogs and lamps are good enough for him.
The Quest for Beauty
March 20, 2009 | My Jottings
Have you ever wanted to be beautiful? Or, if you’re a male reader, have you ever wished you were handsome? I’ll bet there isn’t one person reading this who hasn’t desired this at one time or another. As our culture grows more and more obsessed with physical beauty and perfection, the chance of living up to the ideal of the word “beautiful” gets slimmer and slimmer (pun intended).
Can you believe that there are actual beauty “experts” out there who think they have comprehensively defined what genuine beauty consists of for a woman? Here are the generally agreed-upon standards: the ideal woman should have large eyes, a small jaw, chin and nose, full lips, firm breasts, long legs, thick, shiny hair, a longish neck, white, symmetrical teeth that show approximately 1/4-1/2 inch when the lips are parted in relaxation, nicely arched and not-too-thick eyebrows, unblemished skin, and a waist-to-hip ratio of .7 or 70%. And I’m not kidding.
In just one day on television, dozens of infomercials play continually for Bare Minerals makeup, wrinkle-erasing cream, fat-cramming “shapers”, hair extensions, countless exercise contraptions that promise the perfect body in six weeks or less, and faster teeth whitening processes. The underlying message is always “if you can get closer to that ‘ideal’, you will finally be happy.”
I would like to suggest that true beauty has nothing to do with leg length or nose size or skin tone. As I grow older and gain a (hopefully) more wise and reasonable perspective, I think real beauty shines forth in a person who is refreshingly unaware of themselves.
We all know someone who isn’t stereotypically beautiful, but whose personality and demeanor is such that they seem quite lovely to us. We’ve all seen when someone’s inner beauty shines out through any plainness. And we don’t have to look far to see someone’s outer beauty being smeared with ugliness if conceit and self-focus are present with it.
Who wouldn’t like to have a spa treatment that massages away cellulite (ha) and banishes blackheads? Who wouldn’t try the newest mascara that promises the thickest lashes you’ve ever had? I know people who regularly endure some mild pain from chemical “lip plumpers” so they’ll feel just a little bit better about their mouths.
Colossians chapter 3 speaks of another way to beautify ourselves:
12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
The kind of beauty described above is lasting, in fact it grows more noticeable and resplendent the older a woman gets and the longer she walks a surrendered, rather than a selfish path. Do I write of all this because I always live this way? Hardly. I am not immune to our culture’s influence, and I remember many years when really important life decisions were made because I was being extremely self-focused and vain.
I think each of us craves beauty in our lives in one way or another. We often try to fill our lives with beauty. How many of us like to decorate, to create beauty within the walls of our homes? How many love to garden, to paint, to play beautiful music? How many of us travel so we can experience new and breathtaking beauties we’ve never seen before? I also love the beauty of well-written words. We have an inherent love of beauty. God must love beauty too – He has filled His creation with myriad spectacular examples of beauty and grandeur, and He created us with a capacity to desire and appreciate it all, to tell us something about Himself. I believe when we see Him face to face we are going to be stunned by His beauty.
But our culture’s standards of beauty have gone awry, as described in that fatuous definition at the beginning of this post, and as we see every day through our media.
I used to like to watch the Miss America pageant when I was young. No matter what, I always rooted for Miss California. When I see those pageants today I’m filled with a mixture of amusement and sadness. I think back to the amount of time I spent (especially in my younger years) making sure I looked as good as possible, and wonder what kind of a woman I would be today if I had spent the same amount of time developing my inner life.
I wonder what a Heavenly Beauty Contest would be like. What would qualify someone for the sash and tiara in a pageant based on what God thinks is beautiful? Let’s use our imaginations here.
I’d like to describe some Heavenly Beauty Contest winners from years past. Picture this: the first contestant was very plain of face. She had thick ankles and her waist to hip ratio was approximately .95, meaning she didn’t even have a waist. According to one of today’s “beauty experts,” the many deep lines on her face would have made her a candidate for a surgical lift, but they also betrayed the fact that she had probably smiled hugely at least a million times in her life. She probably never knew the word “highlight” in terms of her hair. But I think the Lord thinks she’s beautiful, because she so sacrificially loved Him, and always brought His love and hope to whomever she was with, even in a hellish concentration camp. She brought true beauty into the world. Her name? Corrie ten Boom.
How about Contestant Number Two in our Heavenly Beauty Contest? She had very few, if any, of the characteristics of today’s “Ideal Woman.” She had a large nose, small, slightly crooked teeth, beady, close-set eyes, leathery skin. Her small frame wasn’t curvy or anything to write home about. She could have used some help on her eyebrows. I wonder how beautiful the Lord thought she was as He watched her give her entire life to serve and comfort the outcasts in Calcutta that few others would even touch. All because of her deep love for Jesus. You know who Contestant Number Two is – Mother Teresa.
And contestant number 3, or 4, or 26 or 187 could be that woman who lives right next door to you. Or it could even be you. I’m not saying we shouldn’t wear mascara or try to be physically fit. I love beautiful clothes and appreciate beauty in people. I’m just saying the vigorous pursuit of it doesn’t satisfy. It doesn’t last. It doesn’t bring peace to our souls or happiness to our homes.
What will I do today to bring true beauty into my home? Even though I don’t have all the answers, I know it all begins with the One who thought beauty up in the first place. I think I’ll start with Him. He’s the only One I know of who can deal with that hard-to-reach inner self.
There’s a passage in 1 Peter that says the godly women of old made themselves beautiful by putting their hope in God. I’ve seen this marvelously demonstrated in some women I know today. The women who calmly, joyfully trust Jesus, the ones who really put their hope in Him, radiate a beauty this world knows nothing about.
I think that’s where I’ll start today. I’m putting my hope in Jesus. How about you?
The Best Rooster’s Beak
March 19, 2009 | My Jottings
Thanks for all your input about what I should include next on the blog. It was actually a tie, so I chose which one to post, and it may come as a surprise.
I love Pico de Gallo, which in Spanish means Rooster’s Beak. You could call it a salsa, I suppose, but to me it’s just one of the most delicious, easy things to make, and it tastes yummy added to lots of foods.
Many of you probably have a recipe to this already, and mine won’t be a lot different than the thousand others out there on the Web. I’ve been craving this lately, maybe because we’re coming out of a long, dark winter, and fresh vegetables sound extra yummy to me right now.
Pico de Gallo (PEE-ko-day-GUY-o)
6 small, very ripe tomatoes, chopped (I like Roma)
1/2 medium purple onion, chopped very fine
the juice of one fresh, medium-sized lime
2-3 small, fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded, chopped very fine
1-2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, coarse chopped
1 small clove fresh garlic, finely minced
Kosher salt, to taste
Several grinds of fresh ground black pepper
So, you just stir all these ingredients together. That’s the recipe. Keep this stored in the fridge in a lidded container, but it might not last long – it doesn’t in our house. If you have children who might not appreciate the crunch, you can put this in a food processor and just pulse it a few times.
Consider serving huge spoonfuls of Pico de Gallo on baked potatoes, homemade tacos or burritos, nachos, scrambled eggs, open-faced sandwiches, on homemade pizzas, or Mexican casseroles. It’s really tasty as a simple dip, or added to ripe, mashed avocados, to make a fancy and healthy guacamole.
Es muy delicioso!
Cast Your Vote
March 17, 2009 | My Jottings
We Minnesotans know what it’s like to brave all kinds of weather as we go to the polls in November to cast our votes. We Minnesotans are fairly experienced with enduring electing all manner of people in high office in our usually left-leaning state. We Minnesotans also know what it means to wait for exceedingly long periods of time for important election results (i.e. the recent Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken.)
Well, while we wait, I’m offering an opportunity for readers to cast their vote here on the blog and have it counted, accurately and quickly.
I have several rough drafts in the works, but am a little stuck. So I’m going to let you, the reader, decide what I should write about in my next post. Please look at the list below, decide what you would like to see on the blog next, and cast your vote by telling me your choice at the bottom of this post in the “comments” section. If you would like to remain anonymous, just tell me that when you leave your choice, and I will count your vote but not publish your comment.
1. Last But Not Least (my 5th favorite book of all time)
2. Letters in the Sand
4. Pecans in My Pocket
5. Organ Lessons
6. Ten-Minute Challenge
7. Rorschach Towel
8. The Best Rooster’s Beak
9. “Bring Them Here to Me”
10. Once Upon a Toile
11. The Quest for Beauty
12. Night-time Ritual
13. “Yook at dat yake!”
Polls are open now, and you don’t have to go out in the weather to make your voice heard. Polls close at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, 2009.
March 12, 2009 | My Jottings
My son-in-law Jeremy recently put together a photo and video montage of their four children for me, set to a song I love. I have watched the little production on my computer several times, and of course the tears well up when I see how quickly time is passing and how my grandchildren are growing up right before our eyes.
Hearing this very familiar song again made me want to share it with you, even though you’ve probably heard it before. It’s really a masterpiece of simplicity and truth, in my opinion…an anthem for what life as a follower of Jesus is all about. All that’s needed for life in Christ is contained in these words. I hope you will turn up your speakers a bit, turn on the song, and scroll down and follow the words as you listen.
(Click on the dark red words just below, then once it opens, click on the play arrow:)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)
Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for Love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!
Now your burden’s lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!
And like a newborn baby
Don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we fall…so
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!
Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!
O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can’t contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!
And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on glory’s side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
So, in case anyone’s paying attention, I would like this song played or sung at my funeral.
Waiting for my wings,
March winner? Deb!
March 10, 2009 | My Jottings
Thank you all for sharing your random things – I was hoping they would bring a chuckle and they certainly did. I have some funny and quirky readers (and daughters!).
Deb is this month’s bloggy giveaway winner, and will be receiving a gift certificate to amazon.com to spend on anything she likes. Maybe she’ll buy that new Kindle she wants and can use the certificate to download some books to read on that dock she’d like to sit on, listening to loons and the lapping waves, and wearing her Birkenstocks and eating guacamole while contemplating sleeping past 5:55 a.m.
Here are some upcoming blog posts I’m working on: “Bring them here to Me”, Pecans in My Pocket, “I want to ______ well!”, Organ Lessons, Night-time Ritual, “Yook at dat yake!” and Denel.
If I had my druthers….
…this would be our humble abode…
…and like these on our heather hills, we would lie down in green pastures…
…and my husband would have to start wearing this…
…and we would take a break twice a day for this…
…until our daughter (who sells wool yarn) coerced us into doing this…
…and we’d be so exhausted we’d need this each morning for our alarm clock…
…and then I would insist that my three daughters would come to visit us often so they could learn to do this….
…but that’s only if I had my druthers…
Nine Random Things
March 7, 2009 | My Jottings
1. Our office used to be bright yellow with lots of dark stained wood trim, and as of this week is now a soothing, light aqua blue with lots of creamy white trim.
2. I made the best batch of guacamole I’ve ever tasted yesterday (will share the recipe if anyone would like it).
3. I love Google Earth (have you looked at Mt. Everest, Lake Superior or even your own house with it yet? Scary, but so fascinating…)
4. The temps were in the lower forties this week, so I wore my Birkenstocks outside.
5. I am looking for a part-time employee who loves organizing paperwork.
6. I’m reading the first novel I’ve ever read on my new Kindle (Enchanted April).
7. I believe my seven grandchildren are the funniest, smartest, sweetest, most interesting people I’ve ever met.
8. Michael and I think the book of Acts is very exciting reading.
9. When I daydream, I think of living in a small house with a stone fireplace, of walking down a winding, wooded path in autumn, of yearly visiting the Highlands of Scotland, flocks of cardinals in my yard, deep blue Minnesota lakes, naps by a friendly fire, teaching, finally learning how to pray, the kindness in my husband’s eyes, experiencing a deep peace and abiding joy, and being still, so I can know He is God.
What are your nine random things? Or seven random things? Or three?
Leave a comment and you might be the winner of the March bloggy giveaway! I think I will actually use Random.org this month, so even if you’re the first to comment, you could very well win the prize.