Edition 37 – Wednesday Whimsy

March 31, 2010 | My Jottings

“I wish you would make up your mind, Mr. Dickens. Was it the best of times or was it the worst of times? It could scarcely have been both.”
(oh yes, it could….)

New Yorker cartoon caption

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March highlights

March 29, 2010 | My Jottings

I am short on time for updating my blog decently, but I will jot a few highlights from the month of March. Some are good, some a bit challenging, but isn’t that life?

Michael and I flew to Tennessee to spend time with my oldest brother and his family. Photos and details to follow sometime soon.

My daughter Sharon’s yarn business is up and running in our neck of the woods, after she and her family moved here from Maryland four weeks ago.

I hurt my back hefting luggage and it’s bad enough to put me in bed several times a day. :(

March is our snowiest month and as of this writing there is no snow on the ground and will be in the fifties and sixties this week.

My daughter Carolyn comes over to cheerfully help me twice a week and I don’t know what I’d do without her.

I have a meat loaf in the crockpot.

Our Girl Scout cookies were delivered last night.

I’m reading Same Kind of Different As Me out loud to Michael.

Michael sees a surgeon this week about a rotator cuff tear in his shoulder.

Sara is on her way to Minneapolis with two friends where tomorrow they will catch a plane to New York, New York.

I have Minnesota Public Radio playing softly on the house intercom.

I bought a book at the Nashville International Airport that boasts, “once you have read it, you’ll want to tell your friends about it.” So far, not so much.

They make Birkenstocks big enough for men with size 14 feet.

I expect to feel improved enough to go to Community Bible Study tomorrow.

I saw almost a dozen cardinals all together in one Tennessee tree last week.

Our monthly SAGs meeting is tomorrow night at a new Japanese restaurant downtown.

I am flying to Dayton, OH next week.

I am going to try to tackle my paperwork by doing one hour per day.

I need to go make rice pilaf, dish up dinner for the multitudes, then bring out the Ibuprofen again.

Soon I will have a wonderful guest blogger writing a post for you all.

I need to update my blog.

What are a few of your March highlights?

Afraid to fail

March 23, 2010 | My Jottings

Have you ever missed out on something wonderful in life because you were afraid to fail? I have. More times than I care to count.

When I was little I quickly learned the things I did well (swimming and reading, mostly) and spent a lot of time doing those things. But there were things that I was not good at, and while I don’t think I gave it as much thought as I am doing with this post, I kept a low profile when it came to those things.

I was not a fast runner, not a lover of upper levels of math, or someone who was surrounded by swarms of friends. So instead I played basketball, concentrated on the literary parts of my education, and savored my two or three close friendships. I didn’t know it then, but I can look back now and see that I must have had a fear of failing.

My dad was a basketball coach at my high school from the 1940s until the 1970s. I tagged along with him to almost all the games, sitting in the bleachers and watching the basketball excitement cheerleaders. Even when I was seven years old I knew all the cheers, knew all the cheerleaders by name, and would go home and practice cheers in front of the sliding glass window that led from our family room to our patio. I can still do some of those cheers today, but I am certain you would not want to see this.

I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a cheerleader. At the end of my freshman year of high school, I tried out for cheerleading and miraculously made the squad. In Southern California at that time, one group of six cheerleaders was chosen for the whole school year. We didn’t have a group of cheerleaders for each sport like they do where I live now. My squad had cheerleader uniforms for the football season, the basketball season, and we had what we called a rally uniform for when we had pep rallies during school assemblies and did some of our cheers then.

In order to be a cheerleader one had to go through four weeks of cheerleader training after school, where we learned to do the different jumps (air splits, Russians) and the different cheers and the various contortions required. Then the forty of us went through Screen Outs, where professional cheerleading judges were brought in and we tried out in front of them. This narrowed the approximately forty of us down to twelve, and the results were posted all over the school the next day. I was ecstatic to see that I came in third place. But the next part of the competition was what made me the most nervous. The entire high school then had to vote on the twelve girls who made Screen Outs, and the six with the most votes out of those twelve would be the cheerleaders for the following year. I wasn’t certain of my popularity and thought there was a pretty good chance I would not win.

So when I did, I was thrilled and a bit relieved. Maybe I wasn’t the geek I thought I was. And being a cheerleader during my sophomore year in high school was a blast. I was on the squad with five other girls I hadn’t known very well before this, and each one of them was a jewel. Over the next year we competed in different cheerleading competitions, went to San Diego State University for a week of cheerleading camp, had practice two times a week after school, rode on the buses to the games to cheer the teams on, wore our uniforms to school on game days, tried to generate a lot of school spirit during the games, and made lots of memories I still carry with me.

As my sophomore year drew to a close, it was time to think about trying out again for cheerleading the next year. But the more I thought about it, the more I grew afraid that I wouldn’t make it again. I thought that being chosen once was a near-miracle, and that my chances for being voted in two years in a row were unlikely. So rather than just do my best and see what happened, I didn’t try out again. When people asked me why I wasn’t trying out for cheerleading the next year (because most people just kept right on trying out for cheerleading once they’d made the squad) I just casually answered that I didn’t want to. This was not the truth. I really did want to be a cheerleader again, but I was afraid to fail. So rather than try and fail, I just decided not to try at all. And maybe I missed out on another year of wonderful memories.

Here’s the yearbook photo of our cheerleading squad in 1973:

L-R: Cindy, Shelly, Desiree (in back), me (doing splits in front), Shawn, Trudy.

How about you? Have you ever refrained from doing something because you were afraid you would fail at it? Have you ever not reached out to someone because you weren’t sure they would accept you? What kinds of things have you missed out on because you didn’t want to fail?

I have failed at marriage, at friendship, at mothering, at being a good Christian, at dieting, at loving well, at so many things…

And I keep failing. But I’m going to keep trying. With God’s help, I will face my failures, ask Him to help me get back up, trust that He’ll help me do better next time, and try again.

Today

March 22, 2010 | My Jottings

Sometimes old hymns say best what the soul needs to proclaim.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Words by Edward Mote, Music by William Bradbury

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Edition 36-Wednesday’s Word

March 17, 2010 | My Jottings

“God does not give us overcoming life; He gives life as we overcome. The strain is the strength. If there is no strain there is no strength. Are you asking God to give you life and liberty and joy? He cannot, unless you will accept the strain. Immediately you face the strain, you will get the strength.”

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

What can almost thirty years do?

March 16, 2010 | My Jottings

What can almost thirty years do to a person? I’ll tell you.

Almost thirty years can line the face and sag the skin. Almost thirty years can dim the eyes and thin the hair. That many years can wear away at the joints and stiffen the back. Almost three decades can steal the sense of smell, shrivel up the estrogen factories and turkey the neck. Almost thirty years can make sounds seem softer, turn stretch marks to silver, pad the hips, flap the thighs and build the butt. The passage of time can crook the fingers, flatten the feet, disturb the sleep and make the memory a sieve.

1981 - our wedding day in CA

2009 - on a weekend trip in Grand Marais

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 But I’ll tell you what else almost thirty years can do.

Almost thirty years can bring marital comfort, especially if one of the people in the marriage is patient and faithful and an example of Jesus’s love.  The passage of time can result in adult children who turn into wonderful friends. It can bring grandchildren who almost burst the heart with love. That many years can refine friendships and remove petty misunderstandings, bringing joy and encouragement.

Almost thirty years can put a better set of lenses in front of the eyes, giving one a more eternal perspective. The passage of time can devalue things that we used to think were necessary, and make priceless those things we used to pay almost no mind to.

Nearly three decades can loosen the grasp on mammon, weaken the clinging to this earth, and sharpen our longing for heaven. The passage of time can fling open the doors of giving and bring contentment with very few possessions. Almost thirty years can fill the heart to the brim with love for all the people in your life, and wrench the heart with agony when those you love are hurting. The passage of time reduces the things you think are crucial to happiness to about five things.

Almost thirty years can bring about a lot of change in a life.

How are your travels?

March 12, 2010 | My Jottings

It has been twelve days now since the post about The Philippians Path to Peace. If you missed it, you can read about it here.

I received many responses, either by readers leaving comments on the blog or sending an e-mail to let me know they were going to begin praying every time a worry knocked on their mind’s door. I also heard from one dear friend who took the challenge and was surprised by what it revealed to her: that she is not a worrier at all, and that her box stayed pretty empty. That would be a good thing to discover about yourself, wouldn’t it?

I’m checking in now to see how it’s going for everyone? I am still firmly on the path, although yesterday I was gone a lot and was quite busy. I found myself beginning to perseverate on a few things of concern, and pretty soon I realized I was not giving them to the Lord at all, but just letting that wicked wheel spin again. I know most of you know this already: that spinning wheel of worry does not bring peace and trust in our heavenly Father.

For the most part, however, I have been praying rather than worrying. I have been traveling on The Philippians Path to Peace and it’s a better route. It has beautiful scenery and delightful weather. There are fewer ruts and there are clear directional signs. There are fresh breezes on this path, pure streams from which to drink, and many comfortable inns along the road where I can rest.

The Way of Worry is a terrible way to travel. The roads are treacherous if there are any roads at all. There are boulders, sinkholes, predators at every turn. The signs along the shoulders of this horrible road trick you and send you in the wrong direction. The Worry Way always results in people getting lost. And the weather! It’s never conducive to good traveling progress. There are usually many fellow travelers on this road, though. And none of them are in very good humor as they trudge.

I had intended to nicely decorate my Prayer Box when we first began, but I haven’t gotten to that yet. I still might do it. But the important thing is that I have my box, I have my slips of paper, and I’ve been putting my prayers and concerns down, briefly and fervently written to God, with thanksgiving, and then I’ve been dropping them in. This is a tangible way for me to bring my requests to God, trusting Him with them, and not worrying about them.

Here’s my beautiful box:

It doesn’t have the pretty wrapping paper I had envisioned yet, but it’s functional. And the important thing is that it reminds me of the passage in Philippians that inspired this March challenge to begin with:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

So how are you doing on The Philippians Path to Peace? Have you taken any detours? Have you learned anything? What does your container look like? Has God answered any of your prayers yet? If you would like to send a photo of your prayer box to me, I’ll put it on the blog.

Let me know how you’re doing, even if you’re still just trying to pray instead of worry.

Blessings to my fellow travelers…

UPDATE:

Here’s our first report from Deb, and a photo of her prayer jar:

“Here is my Worry (morph into) Prayer jar!  I used an empty parmesan cheese container and a picture I printed from the web.  It has a flip top opening that is handy to pop open and drop my prayers into! This has been a GREAT exercise!”

Thank you Deb! I love the ruffle.  :)


Edition 35-Wednesday’s Word

March 10, 2010 | My Jottings

TRUST protects you from worrying and obsessing.

THANKFULNESS keeps you from criticizing and complaining.

–Unknown

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The Builder

March 8, 2010 | My Jottings

My husband Michael used to be a carpenter. He has built new homes, remodeled old houses, built shopping malls and hospital additions, and colossal garage extensions. He worked inside and outside, sometimes in Minnesota winter weather that was way below zero, but he never complained. Not once.

He took the first house we ever owned, which was a hundred years old and to me almost uninhabitable when we bought it, and transformed it into a beautiful place I loved. He tore down walls, enlarged rooms, hung new Sheetrock and applied new plaster, put in new windows, added two new bedrooms, built up kitchen counters to accommodate my height, put up new siding, a new roof, and more.

He was never quite content unless he was building something, even if it was just a small project.

Now Michael has retired from home building and carpentering, unfortunately out of necessity. He has Parkinson’s disease, which stiffens the joints and muscles, slows movement, robs the speech and brings exhaustion.

But as God would have it, Michael is still a builder.

Even after all these years, he continues to build in our home and in my life — from the inside.

He builds with patience, gentleness, humility and steadfastness. He builds with optimism and prayer. He builds with his few words and his smile. He builds with his kind eyes.

I grew up in a family that had many wonderful strengths, but we needed lessons in building. We were more adept at demolition.

My man is no longer building buildings, but he continues to graciously and quietly build lives.

Mainly mine.

The Clan McCaravan

March 4, 2010 | My Jottings

They’re here! All the way from Maryland to our neck of the woods in northeastern Minnesota – they drove well over a thousand miles in two long days.

Two huge moving trucks — one full of household goods, one full of yarn studio stuff, two family vans, one friend and employee in her own car, who moved here to help start Sharon’s studio, one fantastic son-in-law, one beloved daughter, three brilliant grandchildren and two quirky cats.

It’s a good thing our driveway is big enough to make room for all of these:

They were loaded down with everything they own, and now I am loaded down with blessings.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.

Psalm 68:19

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