Good riddance

January 30, 2012 | My Jottings

Seven more items have left the house this week as part of my effort to donate 365 things in 2012.

Michael and I owned income property off and on for years. Our last building was a big Victorian five-plex that Michael worked hard on, but we sold it when his Parkinson’s began to affect his energy levels.

I used to keep our income property records in these specially ordered books, and I found six of them in a desk drawer last week. They’re way past the seven year record retention time recommended by the I.R.S., so out they go.

And the little purple zippered wallet has never been used — that was donated to our local Goodwill.

The schnauzer on the couch stays, though.

Introductions

January 26, 2012 | My Jottings

I was deep in thought the other day while driving, and I realized that my husband Michael has been responsible for many important introductions in my life.

Michael introduced himself to me through the mail in 1981. I had never heard his name, and I came home from work in Anaheim, CA one day to find a letter from him in my mailbox. Three months later I married him.

Michael introduced me to Minnesota, and showed me what it takes to live in American Siberia. It’s been thirty years now and I’ve never looked back.

He introduced me to what kindness and strength combined look like in a man. I had never seen that before.

He introduced me to Sorel boots and Mukluks.

He introduced me to my love of birds.

He introduced me to kohlrabi.

He introduced me to venison.

He introduced me to the remarkable feeling of being loved no matter what I looked like, what I weighed, or how I behaved.

And Michael introduced me to the music of Keith Green.

Are you familiar with Keith? He was an amazing and talented young man who decided to wholeheartedly follow Jesus after searching for truth for years, and his life and music subsequently impacted many lives. Not everyone loved Keith, however. He had the often annoying habit of being loudly outspoken about his faith.

When Michael and I were getting to know each other through phone calls and letters in 1981, he sent me an LP record album (ancients that we are) by Keith Green, and I was hooked after one listen. I had never heard contemporary Christian music before.

Over the years Keith’s music meant so much to Michael and me that “our song” is one of Keith’s songs. It’s called “You Put This Love in My Heart” and you can listen to it by clicking right here.

In this song Keith was actually singing about how he felt about the Lord, but Michael and I related the words to each other, and we still get a little emotional when we hear it today. It came on in the car the other day while we were driving somewhere, and Michael reached over and took my hand and smiled knowingly. Then his eyes filled with tears. Keith’s music does that to you.

Also, here’s a link that will tell you a little about Keith’s life and untimely death — it’s worth reading and you can see a short video of him playing and singing.

We pulled out some CDs by Keith Green several days ago and are being impacted all over again. Somehow his music doesn’t seem dated to me — it seems as fresh and powerful as it was thirty years ago, and it challenges me and softens my heart. Listening to his music makes me want to love the Lord more than I do. His songs give me hope and scrape a few scales from my dull spiritual eyes. They put things into perspective for me, and they beckon me to draw close to the Lord. I need all of the above.

So, I would like you to have some Keith Green music too!

If you would like to have a fabulous CD of Keith Green’s music (pictured above and entitled “Keith Green – The Ministry Years – 1977-1979″) all you have to do is leave a comment and answer this question: Are you familiar with Keith Green’s music? Yes or no answers are just fine. If you are familiar with his music you could also share which one of his songs is a favorite of yours.

Now, let me address those of you who would like this CD but are hesitant to leave a comment. You might be thinking but I’ve already won something from this blog and I want to give someone else a turn, or I live in Australia (or England or New Zealand or Antarctica) and I don’t want Julie to have to mail me something from so far away, or I don’t want to be greedy, or some such unacceptable reason.

I want everyone who wants one to have one. I would be delighted to send this brand new Keith Green CD to every single person who asks, and I hope you all do ask by leaving a comment, okay?

Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy; writer, mother, sloth or fly; painter, baker, wet or dry; grandpa, whiner, far or nigh. Okay? This is for you.

I look forward to sending out many copies of this brilliant CD by Keith Green. Comments will be taken until Monday, January 30th at 10:00 a.m. Central Time, and CDs will be mailed out to every taker next week!

I promise you’ll be blessed.

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 78

January 25, 2012 | My Jottings

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice;
   in the morning I lay my requests before you
   and wait expectantly.

Psalm 5:3

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The writing on the wall

January 24, 2012 | My Jottings

Have you ever tied a string around your finger to remind you of something important? I don’t know how that tradition got started, and while I’ve certainly needed help remembering things a lot these past couple of years, I’ve never tried the string method. Instead, I write myself notes and reminders on my day planner. Lots of them.

Sometimes right before dropping off to sleep at night I’ll suddenly think of something I need to do or someone I should call the next day, but I don’t want to get up and go downstairs to write it on my day planner. So I’ll reach over in the dark to turn the little cardinal figurine on my nightstand on its side, or put a piece of Kleenex on the floor in an odd way to jog my memory the next morning. So far I haven’t tried the novel idea of having a pen and paper handy on my nightstand — maybe I’ll try that next time.

But I have need of a reminder much more permanent than a string on a finger or a strategically placed tissue. Every day I need to be reminded that my life is a gift, and that my very breath comes from God. I need to remember that I belong to Him, and that I have been created and placed here for His good purposes. Too often I get up in the morning with a selfish bent toward my own vain choices, and a distressing habit of wandering away from Him.

These prayerful words from the song “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” could have been penned for me:

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

(words by Robert Robinson – 1758)

So each morning when I come downstairs to start my day, I am greeted by these words on our kitchen wall:

It’s a fairly large graphic, in blue and metallic silver letters, and I put it there as the most important reminder of all. The words are from Micah 6:8, which says:

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

On any given day my day planner might read something like this:

- reconcile banking statement to ledger

- crockpot ingredients in at 10:00 a.m.

- bills in mail

- make dental appointment

- filing

- state paperwork for Fosters completed

- birthday card to Denel

- work on tests for training

- clean out master bedroom closet

- return library books

- pick up prescriptions

- wash bathroom floors

And this list would represent a fairly quiet day.

But no matter what’s on my to-do list, nothing really productive will be accomplished unless I first pay attention to the writing on the wall.

It’s pretty amazing how differently things usually go in my day, if I will just try to walk humbly with my God.

(from the archives….)

Letting go

January 23, 2012 | My Jottings

Here’s a short passage from Matthew chapter 19 about the rich young ruler and his meeting with Jesus:  That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crest-fallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.

Jesus looked straight into the heart and soul of the rich young ruler and revealed what was on the throne there — the man’s wealth. His money, his holdings, his stuff. He just couldn’t let any of it go.

Well, I’m going to let go of some more stuff.  These things just add to the hidden clutter in my house and as part of my attempt to donate 365 things in 2012, these are the next to go.

Below are two kitchen cabinet door handles that I bought online in 2007 to inspect and see if I wanted them in our kitchen remodeling project. I opted for other handles (which you can see here, among other photos of our house), and these two pictured have been in a drawer. The round one is supposed to be a lion, but at times it looked like an ape to me, and that wasn’t quite the look I was going for. (For those of you who are leaning toward the new Simian Kitchen trend, you might like the monkey pulls and I certainly don’t judge you.)

I don’t even know if we have the television connected to this remote. Why should it sit in a drawer?

I have rolled up and kept our yearly calendars in an armoire for years. I think there’s a sentimental part of me that didn’t want to throw out anything that said things like, “Kids coming overnight” or “trip up the North Shore,” or “Mr. McBoy’s 5th birthday.” These calendars have been journals of our lives, in a sense. But I’m going to throw away four of them. The oldest one is from the late 1990s. (I know. That’s a little strange. Oh well….I offer no defense.)

That’s my seven items this week. I’m letting them all go.

Have you thrown or donated anything this year yet?

Land of Two Seasons

January 19, 2012 | My Jottings

It’s been said that Minnesota is the land of two seasons:

1. Winter is coming
2. Winter is here

We have -13 Fahrenheit, -25 Celsius on our front porch this morning.

God bless and warm your day, dear friends…

Are you thankful you can pee?

January 18, 2012 | My Jottings

I’ll bet you’ve never read that for a blog post title before.

Are you thankful you can pee? Because I am, and I’ll tell you why.

Years ago I had to have sudden and unexpected bladder surgery. (Here’s your chance to click over to another blog right now since you have an idea about where this is going.) One week I was on a cruise with my husband in the Western Caribbean, and the next week I was being scheduled for surgery, and feeling stunned.

When the surgeon told me that part of my recovery called for a supra-pubic catheter and explained what that meant, my courage almost failed me. For those of you who are rusty with your Latin, supra means above, and pubic means, well, you don’t have to speak Latin to know what that means. I wasn’t going to have a normal catheter, no. I was going to have a tube surgically inserted through my abdominal wall above the pubic bone, straight into the bladder. Just the thought of it again makes me sort of shudder.

Anyway, when someone punches a hole in your lower abdomen and pokes a stoppered rubber tube the diameter of your little finger through it, puncturing your bladder and securing the tube to the inside of your heretofore faithfully functioning bladder by inflating a tiny balloon there, it’s an event. Take my word for it.

After I dried my tears and went home from the hospital, I had to learn how to pee through the tube. I couldn’t pee the normal way. In a day or two I got the “hang” of it (here’s your second chance to click over to another blog if this is getting to be too much for you) and finally felt I could bear it while my bladder healed. I had never before been able to walk into a bathroom and pee in a sink, but now I could. And did. Do you think I’m going to tell you whose sink I peed in? No, I’m not. You’ll never get it out of me, because then I might have one less friend than I do now. I did clean the sink however, if you were wondering.

After about a week of being able to pee (do the British say “wee”?) like the other sex, I was scheduled to have my supra-pubic catheter removed. I was more than ready, because the puncture wound was painful and I wanted to get back to normal again. The deflation of the balloon inside my bladder took less than a minute, and when the whole contraption was no longer one with my body, I let a few tears of relief run down my cheeks. And I thanked God I had made it through.

But the hard times weren’t quite over. The surgeon warned me that my bladder had most likely become lazy while healing, and that it would take a while for it to relearn how to do its thing the old way. Oh brother, that’s all I need is a lazy bladder, I thought. But I had no idea how true this would be, and how painful.

The first time I had to pee, I did what most females do, and sat down on the toilet. But my bladder had forgotten its function and I couldn’t go. Oh, how it hurt. And I returned to our room and cried a little, and asked Michael to pray for me while I sat on the edge of our bed and got up the courage to try again. You know you’re blessed when your husband closes his eyes, rests his strong hands on your shoulders, and asks out loud for God to help his wife pee, with as much sincerity, faith and fervency as he prays for someone who is dying or who needs to turn their life over to Jesus.

It took several attempts, and it was the most unbearable kind of pain at times. Like nothing I ever want to experience again, and I’ve given birth to three good-sized babies without pain medication. When I finally emptied my bladder for the first time after having that dreaded SP catheter removed, I cried in relief and praised the Lord. Out loud. While I was peeing. “Thank you Jesus! Thank you for helping me! Praise you Lord….” and so on. And Michael could hear me peeing and praising and he stood outside the door and did the same. (The praising part, not the peeing part. I would have had a fit if he had stood outside the bathroom door peeing on the floor and praising God, and then the holy moment would have been ruined.)

Right then, sitting on the toilet, I made a promise to God. I promised Him I would never, ever take the simple act of emptying my bladder for granted again. And while I don’t remember to praise the Lord every time I pee, I do thank Him wholeheartedly now and again while I’m sitting there. I will never forget how something I rarely thought of and took completely for granted went haywire, and taught me about how blessed I am in so many ways.

My eyes can blink today. Can yours?  We can thank Him for that, no matter what else is going on in our lives. My voice works — I am able to tell someone I love them. Can you? What a gift! My fingers can move — I can type this blog post to tell you I think you should give thanks to God the next time you pee.

I would never try to boss you around (although I’ve been accused of being bossy more than once in my life), but today I just want to be bold, and tell you that if you haven’t thanked God for the privilege of peeing without help, peeing without pain, I think you should do that right now. :)

Peeing and praising. It’s a good place to start.

The Maker of heaven and earth

January 17, 2012 | My Jottings

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
   where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2

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So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night!

January 16, 2012 | My Jottings

In case you’re wondering what this is about, click here.

I’m bidding farewell to these next seven things. The pair of pajamas was a gift I bought for someone years ago and they didn’t fit her. So instead of returning them like any responsible person, I tucked them away on a closet shelf and they’ve been hibernating until now. Also, there’s nothing wrong with the books I’m giving away — these were good books, but just two I know I won’t read again, so I want to share them with someone else.

Did you do any donating recently? Even if they’re just small things, it feels good to pare down.

Have a wonderful week,

Happy Delurker Day!

January 14, 2012 | My Jottings

Hello friends — it’s Delurker Day! Yippee!

That means it’s time, just this one day of the year, for those of you who read blogs without usually leaving comments (otherwise known as “lurking”) to de-lurk yourself and leave a comment!

If you’re a blogger, you already know that bloggers love comments. We really appreciate knowing that someone out there is reading, and comments are the main way we’re encouraged to keep on blogging.

Today for Delurker Day, I humbly ask you to do one of four things. Are you ready? Are you willing? I hope so.

1. For bold delurkers:

Leave a comment, even if you have before — tell me your name and what part of the world you’re from. Tell me how you came to visit this blog. It’s so easy to do — just go to the bottom of this post and follow what the directions say, step by step. Say anything else you want, like “I’m Joyce and I raise Water Buffalos in Topeka, KS, and I happened upon your blog because I typed the word ‘muskrat’ into Google” or “My name is Herb and I live in New Zealand with my wife and six birds, and I found your blog because I was searching for Three Irish Girls yarn.” Anything at all! I love details. Details make me happy.

2. For delurkers of medium boldness:

Just leave a short comment, like “Hi, I’m Denise from Manitoba” or “My name is Fred.”

3. For shy delurkers:

You could leave a comment and say “I’m Suzanne and I live in Estonia but I don’t want anyone seeing my information so please don’t publish my comment.” That would be fine — tell me you don’t want your comment published and I won’t do it. It will just be between you and me. Comments on this blog just don’t appear online — I have to publish them myself, and if you don’t want me to, that’s okay.

4. For delurkers who couldn’t possibly picture themselves leaving a comment, ever:

Perhaps you could leave your initials! Go to the bottom of this post, follow the instructions, and instead of your name, you could type “RS” or “PB.” That would be fine and no one but me would see. But I would be thinking the next time I was dreaming up a blog post, “I wonder if RS or PB will stop by and read what I have to say anytime soon! I hope so.”

So there you have it — four levels of Delurking Comfort for all kinds of blog readers.

Will you consider letting me know about you today, on International Delurker Day? If you comment here often or never comment on this blog, I would be so glad to hear from you.  :)

Thank you so much for reading, and commenting, I hope…

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