Wednesday’s Word-Edition 91

October 31, 2012 | My Jottings

Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and there is only one glory, which is eternal.

If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.

~~St. Teresa of Ávila

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Happy Plaid

October 30, 2012 | My Jottings

Sometimes the most surprising things make me happy.

Recently Michael and I had lunch at a favorite Vietnamese restaurant of ours, and when we were finished we strolled through the kitchen/cookware store in the same building. I don’t usually buy anything because I’ve spent the last several months getting rid of so many unneeded things in our home. But I love to behold beauty, and I always appreciate an innovative invention, and you’ll find both of those in most well-stocked kitchen shops.

After browsing, we were almost ready to walk out the door when I glanced at a pile of hand-woven table runners and dishtowels. I rarely find anything with both red and blue in it, but on this day I found a wonderful plaid table runner with the colors that make up my kitchen and dining room, and I bought it. It was inexpensive too. Before I even took my shoes off when we returned home, I put it on the table, and felt very happy about it. Plaid has always pleased me, and this plaid makes me downright chipper. I think that is proof enough that Scottish blood runs through my veins.

From a distance it looks like it has purple in it but it doesn’t. There’s cardinal red, deep blue, a little forest green, and some black, yellow and white. I know there’s probably a name to this plaid. I checked online to see what some of the most common Scottish and Irish tartans are, and it looks similar to a few I found. It reminds me of a MacLachlan or a MacDonald tartan, but it’s a bit less symmetrical than both of those.

I think I’ll call it the MacMerry tartan, until someone lets me know what its true clan name is.

There are a few other things that make me feel happy these days. Like the taste of hot chai tea on an afternoon when it’s close to freezing out and the wind is howling. Like the sound of the furnace going on at 5:00 in the morning, so that when I’m making breakfast and setting out meds, the chill is gone. Like waking from a deep sleep at 4:45 a.m. and the first conscious thought being of Jesus. Speaking of Jesus, His mercy makes me happy. I have needed His mercy every single day, and I’m old enough now to accept it gratefully, instead of wondering if it will run out, as I used to fret about when I was young.

My daughters’ voices make me happy. Seeing the whitecaps on Lake Superior today gave me a little thrill, and then I smiled to myself as I remembered that Michael always says they’re “sheep on the Lake!” It makes me happy to write down the things I’m grateful for, and to know that soon my gratitude journal will be completely full and I’ll be over the 2000 gift mark. It fills me with awe how transformative saying thank you to the Lord is when a dark mood is brooding.

It makes me happy to attend Community Bible Study and to sit with women young and old, plump and slight, poor and well-off, seekers and believers, Catholic and Baptist, Pentecostal and Lutheran, and let God’s Word speak to our thirsty souls. It makes me happy that almost every time I open the Bible for my own devotional time, the tears stream down my face.

Fresh flowers in the house make me happy. Here’s a closer shot of the white stocks on the table.

I am also sad about some things. Yes, I feel all this happiness in the midst of sadness, and it doesn’t feel crazy at all. It feels like life. I carry deep sorrows in my heart that I take to the Lord and try to leave at His feet. I know I’m not meant to carry them, but sometimes I just do. Don’t you relate? Aren’t all of our lives woven with many strands of grief, joy, hope, dreams, peace, disappointment, contentment, and sometimes plain happiness?

Maybe that’s why I like plaid. Maybe it reminds me on some deep level that the dark days and bright days of our lives can be woven together by God into something lovely. (I don’t really think that’s why I like plaid, though. I think I like it because I’m Irish/Scottish and my teeny, tiny, invisible DNA bagpipes are ever calling out to anything that comes from that part of the world.)  🙂

Lord, how thankful I am that you have preserved my life, given me a family, made yourself known to me. I give you praise for teaching me how to live with sorrow and happiness, how to trust you with one and exult in the other.

It makes me happy that God is not a quitter. I have told Him many times “Thank you for not giving up on me!” It makes me happy that He hears my prayers and knows the deepest wails of my heart, and can be trusted to answer in His way and in His time.

It makes me happy to think that a handful of people, friends, family, read this humble little blog. It surprises me that anyone cares about my thoughts and ramblings, and it delights me that I have found new friends here. Beloved friends.

What kinds of things make you happy? Thick socks? Werther’s Originals? Poetry? Falling leaves? Perry Como? Babies? Blogs? Books?

Or does plaid make you happy too?

I look forward to reading any comments, dear ones….

God’s Love in Magenta and Cantaloupe

October 27, 2012 | My Jottings

On Friday nights I always go to bed a little giddy because I know that, barring anything unexpected, I get to sleep in until 7:00 on Saturday morning. Picture me doing a little happy dance in my plaid flannel nightgown every Friday evening and you’ll know how much I appreciate the extra hour and a half of sleep.

When Edith and Mildred woke up this morning (Saturday) and I could feel in my half-sleep that they were both sitting up on the bed staring patiently at me, I knew it was time to let them out. It was still dark out, but that didn’t make any difference to me; I looked at the clock and it said 7:00 a.m. Yippee!

So we trotted to the kitchen, or at least they did, I put their bark collars on their little Schnauzer necks (still so sad to me, and if you don’t know why we’ve had to recently purchase bark collars for them, click here for the heartbreaking story) and let them out. It was 28 degrees on our front deck (minus 2 Celsius) and because of that I would have scurried back in, but when I looked across the street to Lake Superior behind the houses you see below, I saw this:

A brilliant line of magenta and cantaloupe, just above the horizon of Lake Superior, under the low hanging periwinkle clouds….the sun coming up in our part of the world. I wish the picture would convey how glowing, how neon, the colors looked.

I wrapped my arms around myself to keep warm, and stood there and stared for a few minutes while Edith and Mildred sniffed in circles where a skunk had walked in our yard during the night.

“If you ever want to be reminded of the love of the Lord, just watch the sunrise.” 
~~Jeannette Walls, Half Broke Horses.

I can’t think of a time when I wouldn’t like to be reminded of the love of the Lord.

I’m so thankful to have witnessed His reminder this morning….

Red Toile and Aqua Velvet

October 25, 2012 | My Jottings

A while back I had my little office wallpapered with a dark red and cream toile. I don’t know what it is about toile, but I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember. Once the wallpaper had been hung, I began to think about curtains for this room. I wanted something heavy so they would be warm and also give some privacy. I thought I would choose a taupe velvet, or if I was really daring, a deep cardinal red velvet. But the latter seemed too boudoir-ish to me, so I crossed if off my list pretty quickly. (Also, if you’d like to see what the room looked like when we first moved in on May 31st, you can click here.)

But then I started thinking about some posts my daughter Sharon did on color combinations and how opposite colors often really do look good together. If you’d like to see what she said and see some example photos, click here.

And one morning it came to me in a flash of inspiration: aqua or robin’s egg blue curtains with my red and cream toile! A few people I told said, “Heh?” or, “Uhh, no” and some didn’t get it. Some of you still might not think this looks good together, but I love it! The curtains are not a true green or a true blue. They’re too dark to be called robin’s egg, I think. So I’m just calling them my aqua velvet curtains. (Remember Aqua Velva? If you do, you’re as old as me.) Maybe they’re even a dark turquoise, I don’t know.

My office is also our temporary guest room. We have two spaces in our new house that could potentially be very nice guest rooms some day, but for now when we have visitors, they stay in the office. I shut down all office operations and the room belongs to whoever comes to see us. It’s large enough for a new queen-sized inflatable mattress (very comfortable), and a small nightstand, and it has closet space for folks to use too. You can click to enlarge these photos if you like.

Eventually I plan to hang some things on the wall but am still thinking about that. You have to be careful with toile.

There are two good-sized closets in the office. The one on the right has delightful little cubbies and shelves for all my stationery needs — it helps me stay organized. Or semi-organized. The closet on the left is almost empty and anyone who comes to stay has a nice place to stow their stuff.

If you would like to come for a visit, we’re ready for you! (As long as you’re not one of those people who hates toile, gags at complementary colors paired together in decorating, or detests Minnesota. You probably would want to rethink your plans to visit us if any of the above are true.)

Putting up aqua velvet curtains in a red and cream toile office was definitely thinking outside the decorating box for me. I’ve always leaned toward being a matchy-matchy person. I think doing something unexpected like this just seems to go along with our lives in general these days. Sometimes things don’t really fit, don’t seem like they go together, are not your first choice, but you make do and search for beauty anyway.

This morning it’s raining and how welcome it is after a summer drought! I sit in this office as I type this, and it’s still dark out. I can hear the wind gusting right outside these closed velvet curtains and I know the last of the leaves on the trees will be carpeting the ground soon, and the bitter cold season of greys and white will soon be upon us. It will be time for more soups and stews, thick socks, candle-light, knitting, journaling, pondering and hunkering.

How do you like to spend your winter months? Do you do any hunkering and pondering when winter comes?

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 90

October 24, 2012 | My Jottings

We Christians allow our performance-oriented society to rush us into a flurry of religious activities at the expense of genuine intimacy with the living God. It was in “being with Him” that Jesus would equip and empower His disciples to do the work of the ministry.

Are you able to enjoy the intimacy of quiet moments in God’s presence? Or is your primary goal spiritual productivity which demands that either He do something or He give you something to do? 

His call is no different today — He still calls men and women to “be with Him.” Consider these words from Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest): “The main thing about Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the atmosphere produced by that relationship.”

~~Marguerite Hermanson

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D. Michael, my husband

October 22, 2012 | My Jottings

(Updated from the archives….)

My husband Michael’s name is really Dennis. His parents named him Dennis Michael but never intended to call him Dennis. So he signs his name D. Michael B______.  Some friends still call him D. Michael instead of just Michael, and that always makes me smile.

Anyway, my husband and I are a very romantic couple, and by that I mean that we take moonlight strolls on The Lakewalk near the shores of Lake Superior, listen to Etta James as we gaze longingly into each other’s eyes each night before we climb into our big bed, hold surprise scavenger hunts for each other with trinkets and love notes hidden all over the house, enjoy large red boxes of waxy chocolates and have a hefty bubble bath bill each month.

Actually, only one of the last six statements is true. The rest are all bold falsehoods. We haven’t taken any moonlight walks by the Lake because when the moon rises I’m usually yawning or already in bed, and Michael is watching the Minnesota Twins or the Vikings. We don’t hold scavenger hunts for creative ways to show our love, because we’re already tired of searching high and low for small, hidden things and are lately trying to give that up — we frequently have harried, romantic hunts for keys, cell phones, and checks that need to be deposited. And eating chocolate (hopefully coupled with peanut butter) is something we both firmly believe should be a daily chore practiced with moderation and discipline, so we eschew big red boxes of random shiny candies. Reese’s will do just fine.

Michael and I usually go out to dinner once a week, but the last time we went out for Valentine’s Day was several years ago. We did the unthinkable, which was drive to one of our favorite restaurants expecting to be seated within one hour. Once we saw the crowd and were told how long the wait was, we left and drove to one of our second favorite restaurants, and were surprised to find no place to park and standing room only inside. Then we drove to our favorite little sandwich joint and were greeted by the same. We decided that from then on we would go out to dinner for Valentine’s Day on either February 13th or 15th. No more of this February 14th business.

Well. Life has a way of changing things. Michael and I would probably never be chosen for the reality show America’s Most Romantic Couple. Sara teased us recently and said a reality show should be done about us, and I told her it would be successful only because it would help insomniacs get back to sleep. But we have some things that are so precious to me I don’t exactly know how to put words to it all.

He wanted to marry me before we ever met, after writing many letters and talking dozens of hours on the phone. He wanted to stay married to me after reality set in, which is even more amazing than wanting to get married before meeting. He helps keep me sane when I feel like craziness is maniacally tapping on the windows of my mind to be let in. He has taught me what faithfulness means and what a priceless, solid foundation it is for a marriage. He has built my confidence day after day, year after year. He has never disrespected me by an outright or a sideways glance at another woman in my presence. He sits with me on the couch when we have a few minutes, takes my feet in his lap and scratches the ridges left in my ankles by my SmartWool socks. He comes up behind me in the mornings when my mood is low and my hair is on end from the night’s sleep, puts his arms around me and tells me lies about how pretty he thinks I am (did I mention he has vision problems?) and how blessed he is to have found me.

He struggles with a terrible illness, but rarely with selfishness. He gets up every morning and makes me feel like I have a life partner who will always cherish me and work side by side with me, and believe the best about me. He often says in the middle of the day when there is finally quiet, “Let’s go read together,” and we take tea and shortbread on a tray to the sitting area of our bedroom, and soak in the truth and help from the Bible that we need for each day. He recently told me that when he saw me pull into the driveway after I’d been out running errands, that his heart did a little flip and he felt “twitterpated.” He dug his heels in years ago when my immaturity allowed me to talk of leaving each time things got rough, and he said, “I will never leave, I will always love you.”

He has worked his body into the ground for our family, sometimes in winter temperatures so far below freezing that he came home with tiny icicles on his mustache. He cries when I read touching stories out loud. He frequently directs me to take out the checkbook when someone is in need. He has never nagged, harped or driven home an important lesson to me. He has never withheld forgiveness for a time, just so I would learn my lesson.

He wrote “Happy Birthday Honey! I love you!” in giant spray-painted letters on a 4′ x 8′ piece of plywood tied to the side of his truck, and drove it through town and to our house, honking the horn so I’d come out and see it. You can see the photo of that sign if you click here. Over the years he has gently Q-tipped my face for hours, which must be quite the boring and confining prospect for a manly man who would rather be hunting or fishing outdoors. He has leaned over and kissed me while waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store. In front of people,  even when we were in our fifties. He has assured me in the darkest of times, “God is faithful. He will do a miracle. He will answer our prayers.” He smiles like no one I’ve ever known. He has knelt with me and laid his arm over my shoulders in prayer as we have wept and snotted into our couch, crying out for our children and the people God puts on our hearts. Quite literally, he has helped me live.

He has reminded me to praise God, many times when my spirit was flagging and I didn’t want to. He has shown me what it looks like to humbly trust God and to rejoice in Him no matter what. He lives the same way today as he did when we had seventy-six cents to our name. In thirty-one years he has never touched another, and I am so thankful for the freedom and peace this has brought to our marriage. He has made me feel like I’m a gift from God to him, which at times is laughable because I can be a high-maintenance wife.

Stated simply and profoundly, Michael has loved me.

So we may not be sipping champagne by candlelight and sitting in bubbles in our whirlpool tub on any future Valentine’s Days, but I’ll take our form of romance any time. My husband Michael has done for me what no other man could do, and for that I will thank him and the Lord until I no longer have breath.

As I write all these things today, I’m reminded of some verses from 1 Corinthians 13:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Why Jesus chose to bless me with a husband like this, I don’t know. It’s certainly not because I deserve him. I think it might be because my heavenly Father wants me to have a clearer picture of His grace.

Michael has been that, and more to me…

Our Laundry Room

October 20, 2012 | My Jottings

This is not the clearest picture, but I thought I’d continue with my intermittent tour of our new house, and show you our laundry room. I took about ten pictures of it and none of them turned out great, but it’s not like a sharp photograph of our laundry room is of earth-shattering importance, so I’ll just go with this shot:

Can you believe that this room is literally one foot from our bedroom? So handy! I am very thankful for a main-floor laundry room at this stage of my life.

Lord, I thank you, and my knees thank you.  🙂

The walls were painted by the former owners and are a blend of what I’d call terra cotta and salmon. The aqua counter is a retro-print Formica with the nicest little stainless sink and faucet at one end. I use this sink for hand-washables. I probably wouldn’t have chosen these colors myself, but I’m so carefree in the decorating department these days. If my new house has it, I like it! That’s my philosophy. It makes life a lot easier.

The hardwood flooring is maple. The cabinet doors open up and out, and on one end I keep laundry stuff, and on the other end all my gift wrapping supplies are neatly stored (thanks to Carolyn, who did that for me). I could even do all my gift wrapping in here with such a great, long surface to work on.

When I was growing up in Southern California in the 1960s, most people I knew had their washers and dryers in the garage. In 1981, I moved to Northern Minnesota where most houses have basements, and I learned that most people had their laundry area in their basement. When this house (built in 1948) was extensively remodeled by the former owners, they split the old main-floor master bedroom and converted it into an office and a laundry room. Then they built a huge new master bedroom over the garage. Click here if you’d like to see how huge the master bedroom is, and if you promise not to judge.

I’ll post more pictures of other rooms in our new house soon. Today, because I’ll be tending to laundry, I’ve been telling the Lord how grateful I am for this laundry room.

Is there anything you’ve thanked God for today? I would love to know, and if you share I will give thanks with you!

Thank you for making time to stop by my little spot on the web….

Something Fun

October 12, 2012 | My Jottings

I love seeing how other people think and create. It’s inspiring! My son-in-law Jeremy shared this short video with me and I loved it.

I think some of my grandchildren would enjoy this.

What do you think?

I Stole This Picture

October 10, 2012 | My Jottings

As you can see by the logo, my daughter Sharon took this sweet picture of her four children, four-eighths of my grandchild treasure chest.

I loved the picture so much I stole it from her. I didn’t even ask permission…payback for all the times she didn’t ask for my permission when she was growing up!  🙂

Mr. McBoy is 10 1/2, Mrs. Nisky is 8, Li’l Gleegirl is 5 1/2, and Louisa (yes, her real name) is 10 weeks.

Intentionally giving thanks, and taking pictures — these two things seem to slow down the passage of time for me.

Recently I told Mr. McBoy that in just a few blinks of an eye he would be 6′ 8″ tall, but that I would still want him to sit on my lap when he’s all grown. He looked at me funny and said, “But Grandma, I might crush you.” I assured him I could withstand it and he seemed to believe me.

Little does he know I’m already being crushed, in a sense, just to know the love of these grandbabies.

One of my girls

October 8, 2012 | My Jottings

Most of you who read this little blog know I have three daughters. Sharon, Carolyn and Sara. I like to talk about them to people, and sometimes it might get boring when I do, because I can go on and on about what I like about them. Sharon makes beautiful yarn, Carolyn sings beautifully and acts like an Oscar-winner, Sara makes beautiful flower arrangements that no one else in the world makes, and so on. You might get tired of hearing about a mother’s bragging. But they’re always on my mind and ever in my heart, so I like to share….

Here’s a recent fabulous picture of Sara, taken by her sister/photographer Sharon:


It’s hard for me to believe that this lovely daughter who looks like a movie star is 30 years old…how did time fly by so quickly? I was just giving birth to her yesterday, wasn’t I? At home with a midwife? With the furnace turned up to 90 degrees because there was no isolette? With Michael grinning from ear to ear when he first laid eyes on her, he was so thrilled? (And that has actually never stopped.) Three decades couldn’t have whizzed by so fast.

Sara was a kind little girl who knew how to love deeply from the time she was quite tiny. She was loving and sensitive and cried as easily as I did if a sad movie or a hurting person was seen. If she did something that needed correcting, a dark look from me would make the tears pour. She also had some organizing talents that began to emerge before she was ten years old. To this day, I have never known anyone who can make chaos into order quicker than she can.

She’s funny, super-smart, hard-working (which she inherited from her dad), has a love for beauty and nature’s amazing details, and is a leeeetle bit crazy about our Schnauzers, Edith and Mildred, who think she’s the second best person in the universe, after their daddy Michael.

Do any of you have special ring tones on your cell phones for different people? I do. The one I have for my daughters is this song.

Even though this is more of a romantic song, the words still apply. When I hear this song play when one of my girls is calling my cell, it makes me smile and feel the happiness of being their mom.

Sara has inherited a love for adventure and wanting to experience new things from her dad, I think. I tend to be obsessed with comfort and safety and quiet times. She would jump off a cliff and go para-sailing tomorrow if she had the opportunity I think. So would Michael.

Here are a few words and phrases that come to mind when I think about Sara: flowers all over the house, in delightful arrangements you’d never imagine, dogs love her and she loves dogs, intense activity — she loves to get out in the beauty of our area and exercise and feel invigorated, sensitive — to others, to God, and to the world around her, resilient, always willing to lend a hand, quirky/funny, lovely, orderly, generous — she’s such a good gift giver, compassionate — she is drawn to the underdog just like her dad is and tries to make a difference for people, and she’s soooo creative. I don’t even think she’s come close to tapping into what she could do creatively, although her floral designs take people’s breath away.

I’m sure there will come another day, another blog post, when I’ll be talking about my daughters again, and all you moms out there will understand, I’m sure.

But today, I just wanted to tell you more about one of my girls…

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