Burden Bearers

May 24, 2012 | My Jottings

I’m interrupting my blog hiatus to say thank you to two men who have just unloaded a huge burden from Michael’s and my backs.

As we’ve been packing up our house and carrying boxes out to the storage pods in our driveway, getting ready to move 1.1 miles west, there’s been a disquieting thrum in the background of my thoughts.

The garage.

The garage is Michael’s domain, and over the past years as his Parkinson’s has advanced, the garage has been harder for him to keep organized. And any time I considered doing it myself, I started hyperventilating and would just push the thought to the back of my mind. But it would always crowd to the forefront again, and I kept thinking, how in the world am I going to go through the garage and decide what needs moving, what needs donating, and what needs trashing?

Last week, I came to the realization that I could not possibly do it.

So I emailed my two sons-in-law, Chris (left) and Jeremy. I sort of whimpered in print that I needed their help. They put their heads together and set a date where they could both work together, and they came over two days ago and cheerfully began the daunting task.

Here is one example of what they had to deal with:

Chris and Jeremy showed up with smiles and started dividing everything up in groups of what to keep and what had to leave the premises. They loaded the storage pods with the most essential things we will need (who needs eight shovels, six levels and nine hammers?) at the new house. They took truckloads of broken or worn-out things to the dump. They did things I’m not even aware of — I just know it resulted in happy, relieved tears from their mother-in-law.

It’s raining today and I don’t have a picture yet of the finished result, but it’s almost miraculous. The garage looks like a garage we can happily present to the new owners of our home. I will put some more photos up soon.

Today I will attend our two Foster care meetings and continue the work on our packing with the feeling that a huge burden has been lifted from our shoulders.

Thank you, thank you, Chris and Jeremy!

Countdown

May 17, 2012 | My Jottings

We are moving in fourteen days (are you tired of hearing about this yet?), and I’m trying to stay calm. There is still so much to do, even though I’ve tried to make steady progress each day. Screaming tendonitis in my right elbow tells me I’m doing too much; the cupboards and closets still not packed tell me I’m not doing enough.

So I’m going to take a little blog rest. I will be back when we’re all moved into our new house, and I’ll have pictures and brilliant anecdotes about how the movers carried this chair, and the electrician hooked up this wire, and how the Schnauzers adjusted to the new yard, and how the view of Lake Superior looks from a stone’s throw away, and how Michael and I like sleeping on a new king-sized bed — things you’ll be so very anxious to read about. :)

Thank you again for stopping by my little blog, dear friends and family.

Blessings,

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 84

May 16, 2012 | My Jottings

“When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

Wendell Berry

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In 1984

May 15, 2012 | My Jottings

In 1984, the Apple Macintosh computer was introduced.

In 1984, the Space Shuttle Challenger flew three Space Shuttle missions.

Also that year, Ronald Reagan was re-elected to his second term as President of the United States, defeating Walter Mondale.

Geraldine Ferraro was the first female candidate for the Vice-Presidency.

A gallon of gas cost around $1.21.

“Jump” by Van Halen and “Say Say Say” by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson were hits that year.

Erma Bombeck’s Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession was on the New York Times Bestseller List.

In 1984, Jordache jeans, legwarmers, and shoulder pads were the fashion trends. I wasn’t into legwarmers, but I sure liked shoulder pads. I was under the impression that they would make me look slimmer. You know, sort of like those slim linebackers that play for the NFL.

In the year 1984, the PG-13 rating was begun, to cover the middle ground between movies that were rated PG and R.

The Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles that year.

“The Cosby Show” premiered on television.

In 1984, Michael and I bought our first house for $27,000. It was almost uninhabitable and I cried on the day we moved in, because I had no vision for what it could be. Michael was a builder who looked at the house and saw good bones and great potential. By the time he was finished with it I loved our home and never wanted to leave.

And in 1984, our family had our picture taken for our church directory.

Sara, Michael, Sharon, Carolyn and me. We were 2, 35, 7, 5 and almost 27.

As we clean out closets and weed things out of armoires, I keep finding old pictures and doodads from long ago.

Do you remember what was happening in your life in 1984?

They named him Christian

May 11, 2012 | My Jottings

My daughter Sara saw something on Facebook recently and climbed into bed with me last night to show it to me. We watched it on her iPhone and we laughed and cried, and I was humbled and filled with awe by the time it was over. I knew I had to share.

This video below is about a beautiful little boy named Christian, and his young parents. Their story made me think of how the entire Christian life is really a long journey of gradually seeing better. When we first come to Christ the scales of the unbeliever (see 2 Corinthians 4:4) are removed and we see our need for a Savior.

Over the course of our lives, the conviction of the Holy Spirit is really His movement in our hearts to help us see our sin from God’s perspective, and to better know His mercy and to choose life-giving things instead of things that bring death.

The Bible is full of instances where people come to see, both literally and figuratively. Even on the Emmaus Road, the followers of Christ unknowingly walked with Him quite a ways before He opened their eyes so they could see it had been Him all along (Luke 24).

And Paul tells us that while we’re here on this earth our spiritual vision will be as if we’re peering through a dark glass, but that someday our eyes will be opened and we will see Him and all of His glory face to face. All blurriness and shortsightedness will finally be gone.

This video made me think about how much our vision needs to be changed, how skewed our ideas are about God, about ourselves, about sin, about His ways, and about beauty and wholeness and human value. When I watched this story I felt as if a few of those crusty scales fell from my eyes, and I could see a little bit better.

I am in awe of how high and unfathomable and lovely God’s ways are today.

God bless Christian and his family!

A New Demographic

May 9, 2012 | My Jottings

Tomorrow is my oldest daughter’s birthday. She made me a mama when I was still technically a teenager. :)

I’ve been trying to pin her down on what kind of family celebration she’d like. A dinner out at her favorite restaurant with the whole gang? A home cooked dinner at my house with the whole gang? A dessert gathering at my house with the whole gang? We usually celebrate birthdays with the whole gang if we have our druthers.

Sharon is being a little ambivalent about what kind of a birthday bash (bash is a very strong word here) to have, and I wonder if it’s because she’s moving into a new demographic. When we talked on the phone last she mentioned this fact herself, that for the next fifteen years she will be checking a new box when filling out forms that ask for age ranges. She will be putting an X in the 35-50 box now. Which means that I am no longer a teenager. I am very, very old.

Here’s a photo of Sharon and me on her third birthday. We had just come home from Germany and our lives had turned topsy-turvy, but a friend helped us feel hopeful and hosted a nice little party for Sharon, with a diminutive little girl-sized cake.

If you could see the ultrasound photo of the little baby girl Sharon is carrying right now (they’re calling her Baby Shamrock to keep us from pestering them about what her name will be), you’d see that her profile already looks just like her mama’s profile did in this photo when she was three.

This little girl grew up to be a very tall, quick-witted, tender-hearted, generous, lovely, outspoken, curious, intelligent, incredibly creative woman.

When we were homeschooling years ago, she conducted an extensive telephone survey (without my knowledge), calling hundreds of people from our local phone book and asking them if A) they believed in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, B) they did not believe in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, or C) they were unsure about the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. She then compiled the results of her survey and fashioned a bar graph on a large poster board, and presented her findings to us at dinner one night.

She had an entrepreneurial streak even as a young girl. She started making bookmarks out of card stock, drawing colorful designs on them and laminating them with sticky clear adhesive sheets, and then going door to door in our neighborhood, selling them for $1.00 each (also without my knowledge). Carolyn and Sara saw how Sharon was making more money in an afternoon than their entire week’s allowance, so they joined in with her making their own bookmarks to sell.

Sharon came from a family of knitters. Is there a knitting gene? Only time and science will tell. But if there is one, then she inherited it from my mother, and when she was about 11 years old she showed an interest in the yarn arts, and seemed to want to be doing something nimble and creative with those long fingers of hers, also inherited from my mother.

She took a knitting class and was the youngest one there. In a group of older women she made her first project — a dishtowel for me that discouraged her because it had a hole or two. She laid knitting aside for several years and focused on her education.

When Michael’s mother died in 1997, Sharon was the grandchild who wanted Bernadine’s huge stash of yarn. She was in college then, earning her degree to teach Social Studies to high schoolers.

Sharon married a fine man, had some fine children, and taught high school for over a decade before deciding to pursue the job that was literally springing up all around them in their Maryland basement. She quit her tenured teaching position and began hand-dyeing yarn and selling it online to customers all over the world. (She sold her business and is now onto other things just as exciting!)

Now Sharon and her family live near us again. I’m so happy about that! There’s no greater blessing than having your whole family nearby, so you can watch them grow and spend time with them and read books with them and go on summer family vacations to the lake with them.

All those traits I saw in Sharon as a child — the creativity, the curiosity, the desire to work with her hands, her penchant for gathering information and always wanting to impart it to others, her generous nature….all these have come into play as she runs her business and offers yarn to the knitters of the world in colorways that sometimes astound me.

She might be the Yarnista to many others, but she will always be Beloved Daughter to me.

And now that she’s moving into a new demographic, I thought it was fitting to do a little stroll down memory lane and mention her here on the blog.

Don’t tell her though. Shhhhh….

More Google Giggles

May 4, 2012 | My Jottings

It has been a long while since I’ve looked at the stat counter on my blog to see what search terms people are Googling that lead them by accident to www.JustJulieB.com.

So today, since I really should be packing boxes because we’re moving in less than four weeks, and because there’s a load of laundry in the dryer that needs folding, and because there’s a mountain of paperwork to tend to, I thought I’d check for some Google giggles instead. (And while I can see Google searches, I cannot see who searches for them, in case you’re wondering.)

Below in bold are some of the exact words of recent Google searches that brought people here:

Beaver teeth braces - I remember my brother calling me Bucky Beaver before I had braces, so maybe there’s another tortured youth out there wondering if there’s orthodontic hope for her.

Just Pee Blog – I am not aware of a blog about “Just Peeing,” but I am fairly certain I would not want to visit it.

Tallest girl in class – This always brings back memories for me, because with rare exceptions, I always was. Except this year.

Men in diapers – Once again, I’m just not sure I would visit a blog that specializes in this. For me, this could be hilariously funny or heart-wrenchingly sad.

Julie Plumage – I suppose there could be worse last names. Sara and I are always asking each other questions like this: “If you had to be Sara Boop or Sara Beep, which would you choose?” and “If your name had to be Julie Gweeble or Julie Maneeble” which would you choose?” and then we laugh our heads off and think what a relief it is to have the names we do after all. I might just have to ask Sara soon, “If your name had to be Sara Plumage or Sara Feathers, which would you choose?”

Baroness Schraeder eyebrows – “Aha!” I thought…so I’m not the only one who can’t stop watching this woman’s multi-tasking eyebrows when viewing The Sound of Music!

Does Nancy Drew like peanut butter soup - This one made me laugh out loud. To think that someone wanting the answer to this question would happen upon my little blog seems so odd! And does anyone know if Nancy does or not? I read all these books when I was young, and don’t remember anything about peanut butter soup.

Just Julie matters – Sometimes I wonder if it does.

Penny Proud’s grandma bunions - Poor Penny Proud.

A squirrel with no nut – Yes, if you’re doing a report on starving squirrels, this is the blog for you.

When did I get so gray – I’m not sure, friend. Could it have been over the last few years or so? That’s when it all happened for me.

Men with sideburns broke down – Oh, dear…did the men with sideburns break down mechanically or emotionally? I’m sure my blog talks about this somewhere deep within its pages…I can’t remember where, but it must be here if Google says it is.

Tiger hairstyle – You’ve heard of the Bob, the Wedge, the Pixie – soon men and women everywhere will be asking their stylists for the Tiger.

Piggeth – How did people know that Evil Piggeth (our Schnauzer Edith’s evil twin) lives here? I try not to speak of it too often. If we even quietly say the word “Piggeth” when Edith is within hearing distance, she instantly transforms into a maniacal dog who lunges at the oven door or the glass doors in front of the fireplace, snorting and pawing at her evil twin, whose reflection she sees there.

Shy bladder CDs like Bold Bladder Work – I had no idea there were CDs out there for shy bladders. I had no idea there were shy bladders in the first place. Or bold bladders for that matter. Do you have a bold bladder or a shy one?

Why does water come out of my eye when I use a Neti Pot – Yikes…that sounds like a question for your brain surgeon to help you with. We hope your recovery goes well.

Phobia of muskrats – I think my friend Jessica T. must have typed this phrase on Google.

Middle aged mother – Yes, this one I completely understand. I am one.

Today I will be spending some time with Mr. McBoy as he and I continue our Swiss adventure in the wonderful book Banner in the Sky. Then I will be taking one of our dear Foster gals to her new home, to see her new room there and to spend a little time with her new Foster mom before she moves in late May. I am also behind a little on my Community Bible Study lesson and hope to spend some time on that. And dinner, oh yes, I have to feed people around here. I had a request for chili recently so maybe I’ll make that since it looks to be a cold and rainy day. And I have more things to drop off at the Goodwill, and more boxes to pack. And tomorrow morning, an old friend will be coming by so we can start a Bible study together – this one.  I’ve never done a study by Stormie but I look forward to this one. And oh, has anyone out there ever seen “Bleak House”?  Michael and I just finished watching every episode (took us a while) and I loved it. (You can see the trailer here.) Now I’ve downloaded this Dickens book to my Kindle and started reading. Yesterday I took Michael for a follow-up appointment with our family doctor, and we both left there in slightly less cheer than when we arrived. Michael was very (understandably) resistant to the word walker and did not want to have his blood drawn, and I quickly fell prey to my icky default mode of thinking which is never good, the kind with self-focused ruminations like, Ihatethisthisistoohard and Iwishsomeonewouldtakecareofmeforachange, which is never, ever productive.

Anyway, checking once in a while to see what people are Googling usually brings a smile. If times get really hard, it helps to remember that I belong to Jesus Christ and He (wonder of wonders) belongs to me. And I don’t think He would mind that along with the scriptures I sometimes meditate on to keep me focused on what is good and true, I might also be pondering what a beaver with braces would look like, or whether or not Nancy Drew likes peanut butter soup.

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 83

May 2, 2012 | My Jottings

To trust in spite of the look of being forsaken; to keep crying out into the vast, whence comes no returning voice, and where seems no hearing; to see the machinery of the world pauselessly grinding on as if self-moved, caring for no life nor shifting a hair-breadth for all entreaty, and yet believe that God is awake and utterly loving; to desire nothing but what comes meant for us from His hand; to wait patiently, ready to die of hunger, fearing only lest faith should fail–such is the victory that overcometh the world, such is faith indeed.

George MacDonald

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