He’s Alive

March 29, 2013 | My Jottings

“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said;  if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”  — Tim Keller

When Michael and I were raising the girls many moons ago, we listened to a lot of contemporary Christian music. Does anyone remember Farrell and Farrell, Randy Stonehill, Petra, Leslie Phillips, Michele Pillar, Keith Green? One of Michael’s favorite artists was Don Francisco, and we had all his albums.

One of Don’s most powerful songs was about the arrest, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, from Peter’s perspective. The song starts out quietly and builds in suspense, and ends in an exultant chorus that Michael used to sing along to every Easter morning. We would all get up and have breakfast before getting ready to go to church, and this song would be playing as loud as we could stand it.

Michael used to walk around the house booming out the words, often with tears in his eyes.

We don’t have record albums anymore, but I do have a CD of Don Francisco’s greatest hits, and “He’s Alive” is on it. I will pull it out on Easter Sunday and play it loud, and I can just see Michael’s response now. He may not be able to boom out the song anymore, but he will sing it with all his might, and I’m fairly certain there will be tears of gratitude still.

Thank you my kind friends for making time in your life to stop by here. I pray that no matter what life looks like to you right now, there will be joy for you this Easter.

He is risen!

When Being Thankful Seems Too Hard

March 27, 2013 | My Jottings

Many of you might have already seen this, since it was posted on Ann Voskamp’s blog recently. It touched me so deeply I found it on youtube so I can share it here.

Like this mama, we are all still learning how to live, and how to give thanks to God, no matter what our lives are like….

Friday Favorites

March 25, 2013 | My Jottings

These favorites of mine have nothing to do with Friday, especially since today is Monday. I like these things every day of the week, or at least almost every day of the week. It’s just that I rarely pass up a chance to employ a little alliteration, so Friday Favorites it is. Even though, as I said, today is Monday.

I know. Don’t ask.

I’ve said this before but it might be worth repeating — Honeycrisp apples are my favorite apple. They’re pricey right now since the season is over, but I buy them anyway. Crisp, juicy, and tart-sweet, I eat one of these every day, sometimes paired with a slice of Swiss cheese, or a dollop of peanut butter. What is your favorite apple?

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I’m always on the lookout for a brand of pen I can latch onto and call my own. I need a pen with a large point — fine point pens don’t glide smoothly or quickly enough for me. This pen by Bic is called Velocity and it’s my current choice. It does leave the occasional blob of ink because the point is so large, and I’m not crazy about that. If I find another one that writes this well and is blobless, I’ll make the switch. Do pens make a difference to you? If so, what pen do you prefer?

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This is my favorite peanut butter, and I eat some every day. Sometimes I just put some Smucker’s on my Honeycrisp apple slices, other times I spread a little peanut butter on toast. This is the kind that comes separated, and you have to stir and stir the oil and the ground peanuts together very well before you can use it. My OCD method is this: stir carefully and deeply over and over with a butter knife, making sure you don’t displace any oil so it runs down the side of the jar. I hate that. After you stir and fold and stir and fold, then you replace the lid snugly and store it upside down in the refrigerator overnight. Then the next day you can turn the jar back over and you’re good to go. Do you like peanut butter? What kind do you buy?

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I’m not much of a makeup person. I do wear it when I’m going out someplace fancy, but even then I don’t wear nearly as much as I did when I was young. A lot for me these days would be concealer, a touch of eye shadow, soft liner, eyebrow pencil, mascara and lip gloss. That much would make me feel a bit clownish, even though I’m sparing when I apply it. Most days I just use eyebrow pencil (because looking like a Caucasian Whoopi Goldberg is not something I aspire to in my old age), lip gloss and Estee Lauder finishing powder. It’s translucent, and it softens the ruddiness that has crept into my fair skin after a dozen or two blistering sunburns when I was a teen. This finishing powder is hardly noticeable, but I notice a difference when I wear it. Do you wear makeup every day or just occasionally? Or not at all? If you do wear cosmetics, what two or three products do you wear most often?

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About eight years ago my optometrist did a little test on my eyes to see how my tear production was going. I figured the ducts were just fine since shedding tears could be an almost daily thing for me. Open my Bible, cry. Read a greeting card, cry. See the below zero temperatures outside, cry. Walk on my wonky right knee, cry. See my husband declining, cry. Think of God’s many blessings, cry. Read a loving text from a friend, cry. (In fact, our family had a little joke about my mother’s propensity for crying about happy and sad things, and we used to sing this song from Sesame Street to her and it would make us all crack up. Now I think the song could apply to me.) Anyway, my eye doctor said my eyes were not making an adequate amount of tears and asked me if I’d experienced dry eyes of late. It made me ponder, and it hit me that when I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and my eyelids are stuck to my gritty eyeballs, that could be a tear production problem. So now I use Systane, and it’s a Godsend. I especially need it at night, and have learned to put a drop in each eye if I wake up to go potty, or to tell Michael he’s only dreaming, or to move Mildred away from behind my knees.

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I’ve been using Norwex Antibacterial cleaning cloths for about six weeks now and am totally sold. They actually kill bacteria because they have silver in them, rarely have to be washed, and enable the user to clean household surfaces with only hot water and no chemicals. If you don’t know about Norwex (and I don’t sell the products), try watching a couple of demonstration videos on youtube — they’re easy to find.

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This is my favorite lip gloss. Or I guess it’s lip balm by C.O. Bigelow. I’ve used a lot of lip glosses over the years (I remember the first I was ever allowed to use when I was about 12 — it was called Yardley Pot o’ Gloss — anyone remember that?) This one is not too thick and sticky, not too liquidy. Do you use lip gloss? If you do, what’s your favorite?

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And this is one of my favorite things to do….to get away for a weekend with my husband to a cabin on one of Minnesota’s 30,000 lakes. These cabins below are where Michael and I are going very soon, just for a short break. They’ll look a little different than they do in the photo…there will be snow on the roofs and the lake will be frozen over, but we plan on mostly staying inside anyway. We’ll enjoy the fireplace, the quiet beauty all around us, sleeping in past 5:50 a.m., and maybe I’ll take a book. Ha. No maybe about it.  🙂

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And lastly, this is my favorite baby. Her name is Louisa and she’s my eighth grandchild. Can you believe that sweet grin of hers? Do you have a favorite baby in your life? I’d love to know about him/her!

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And now, to my favorite blog readers, I wish you a joyful week full of some of your favorite things!

A Teeny-Tiny Decorating Project

March 22, 2013 | My Jottings

We have lived in our new house for ten months now. Are you tired of me talking about how many months and days we’ve lived in our new house? I don’t know why I keep mentioning that. We’ve done a few decorating things, but nothing major. A little red and cream toile wallpaper here, a little asymmetrical plate hanging there, but overall I just decided to be content with the modern/Swedish vibe of our home.

Now that we’ve settled in, I realize that I’m missing a place in our home for words. I have always liked having words on the walls in my homes. If you’re new here and you’ve never seen the words on the walls of our old house, you can click here to see the words in the kitchen, and here to see the words on my old office walls.

Not long ago, I happened upon a photo online where the people painted their walls with black chalkboard paint, so they could write on their walls. Before you say blech and wonder why anyone would do something dumb like that, click here. (Once there, be sure to click the right arrows that say “next” so you can see the several different photos of how people used chalkboard paint in brilliant ways in their homes.) I’ll wait while you look, and tell you what I’m up to when you come back here.

Did you see the unique ideas? Did you see the old door painted black and placed behind a bathtub? Did you see how even in a Victorian home they used chalkboard paint above rich oak paneling?

Now take a look at this picture below:

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This is the photo I found online that made me stop and say, “Oh my gosh, I want that in my house!” I want a small piece of wall, perhaps a corner even, painted with black chalkboard paint, so we can write words on it. Like Bible verses I’m trying to memorize. Or grocery lists. Or the evening’s menu when we have company. Or birthday wishes. Or a heartfelt prayer. Or drawings, like the birch trees in the home above, or of our Edith and Mildred the Schnauzers. Whatever. I’m just a gal who likes to have words on her walls.

So here’s the wall I’m going to paint. It’s in the dining room, and you can see this wall when you’re standing in the kitchen and looking toward the living room. To the left of this wall are three very tall windows/French doors that let in a lot of light, and look out over Lake Superior.

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My daughter Carolyn taped off the area for me with green frog tape, and it’s all ready to paint. Can you envision how the black chalkboard paint will be on the wall where the clock is, and then will be wrapped around to the right where that little piece of wall is, above the shoes? (Click to enlarge the photo if you like.) The bird clock was hung there on the day we moved in because there was a nail there — I need to find a new place for the clock. The old, oak deacon’s bench is a place to store pillows that I don’t like anyplace else, and also the savage, heavy-duty anti-bark collars we must put on our delicate and innocent little Schnauzers each and every time they go outside. Oh! You don’t know that heart-rending story? It’s called A Sad Day In Schnauzerville, and if all this chalkboard paint talk is boring you, you can click here to read about the neighbors who left us an unfriendly note. (I never know who is new here and might not have read some of these scintillating posts.)

I’ll post a picture when I’m done painting our little space with black chalkboard paint.  (I would like to thank Jessica Colvin so much for allowing me to post her photo above — she was so gracious when I asked her permission. Please visit Jessica’s very creative blog here.)

If you have words on your walls, what do they say? And feel free to link to a photo if you have one!

If you were going to put words on your walls, what would they be?

Comfortable Shoes

March 21, 2013 | My Jottings

In the late 1970s, when my first husband was in the Air Force and we were living in Germany, a sweet memory was made. It’s a good thing too, because my time in Germany ended up being the setting for some of my worst memories, but even so I loved that country and the people I met, and I look back on my years there with such wistful fondness.

We lived in a little German village called Damflos, not terribly far from the Luxemburg border. Our very good friends Dave and Diane also had orders to Germany, and had moved there a few months before us. They lived about an hour east of us, and at least one or two weekends a month we would drive our Volkswagen Rabbit to their place at Vogelweh, or they would drive their Volkswagen Beetle to ours in Damflos.

Diane and I became friends in Northern California after meeting in a Lamaze childbirth class. My daughter Sharon was born in May, and Diane’s son David was born in June. Later while we lived those few years in Germany, Baby David and Baby Sharon were great buddies, and watching their interactions and hearing their toddler conversations was always more interesting than almost anything else. Both tykes were quite bright and talked early and articulately.

One Saturday Dave and Diane came to visit us in Damflos, and Diane and I decided to drive to a nearby Air Base to shop in the BX (stands for Base Exchange/department store). Among other things, Baby David and Baby Sharon (who were around 20 months old at the time) needed new shoes. I can’t remember what else Diane and I purchased that day, but we put the new shoes on David and Sharon’s feet, secured them into their car seats, and headed home.

Pretty soon we could hear our two little ones having a very serious conversation with each other in the backseat, and it centered on their new shoes. I wish I could somehow convey their lilting, sing-songy, yet matter-of-fact voices. David and Sharon were sticking out their little legs so they could lean forward in their seats and just barely get glimpses of the new shoes on their feet. They were turning their feet this way and that, so that they could be admired from every possible angle.

Sharon looked at her friend beside her and said slowly, “Baby David, how do you like your new shoes? Are they cump-ter-bull?”

And David answered in a very mature way for a boy who was not yet two, “Oh yes, Baby Sharon. My shoes are very cump-ter-bull. Are your new shoes cump-ter-bull too?”

“Yes, Baby David, they are very cump-ter-bull,” Sharon replied, and Diane and I looked at each other as we were hurtling along the German Autobahn at 80 miles per hour (which was terribly slow for the Germans, but as fast as we dared to go, if I’m remembering correctly) and we laughed in delight. And we made a memory that we’ve revisited many times these past 34 years. And even though Sharon and David are now closer to age 40 than they are 30, when Diane and I reminisce about those years together, we still call them Baby David and Baby Sharon.

Yes. They both just love that.

So my dear friend Diane came to visit us in Minnesota this last Christmas. I hadn’t seen her in a couple of years and it was wonderful to be together again. The night before Christmas she asked me to sit down on the couch so she could present a gift to me, and when I unwrapped this good-sized canvas she had painted herself, I burst into tears:

If you click to enlarge the photo, you might be able to see what Diane titled her wonderful painting: “Comfortable Shoes.” She remembered exactly how our two little children were flexing their ankles in different directions so they could properly appreciate their new shoes.

So many memories came flooding back…we’ve all been through a little heartbreak since 1978.

I wouldn’t want to go back to those years for anything. And I’d give anything to go back to those years. Some of you will understand what I mean by that.

This beloved painting by Diane hangs in our home now, a testament to friendship, to our children and to comfortable shoes.

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 98

March 20, 2013 | My Jottings

Learn to like what does not cost much.

Learn to like reading, conversation, music.

Learn to like plain food, plain service, plain cooking.

Learn to like people, even those who may be very different from you.

Learn to shelter your family with love, comfort, and peace.

Learn to keep your wants simple. Refuse to be owned and anchored by things and opinions of others.

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Learn to like the sunrise and the sunset, the beating of rain on the roof and windows, the gentle fall of snow in the winter.

Learn to hold heaven near and dear.

Learn to love God, for He surely loves you.

~~Anonymous

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How Long, O Lord?

March 18, 2013 | My Jottings

I know a couple who have given their whole lives to ministering to God’s people. When one of their sons fell into meth addiction many years ago, they continued to selflessly minister to their flock, encouraging and believing for other peoples’ children, when their own was lost to them for over ten years. When this couple’s prayers were finally answered and their son returned to the Lord and finished his prison sentence, their joy knew no bounds. After five years of being clean, their son returned to the world of meth, and this couple are again praying for his deliverance while they continue to minister to many other hurting people.

I know a Christian woman whose Christian daughter won’t speak to her, even though this woman has humbled herself and begged for forgiveness many times. Her daughter will not allow her to see her grandchildren even though they live in the same town.

I know a Christian couple who are probably two of the most patient, skilled, loving, steadfast parents I’ve ever known, and their adult son has dominated their lives with his anger since he was a baby. And continues to do so.

I have a Christian friend who has prayed every day for over twenty years for her two children to pay a bit of attention to the Lord and the solid spiritual upbringing they received, and my friend has not seen the answer yet.

I know a man with a terrible disease that is slowly taking over his body, and his friends and family and pastor have prayed for his healing, anointed him with oil and prayed prayers of faith and praise for years, and healing has not come.

I have a relative who is the kindest, most generous, loving woman, but her former daughter-in-law hates her faith in Christ and has not allowed her two daughters to see or speak to their grandmother for years. Now they’re grown up and have taken on their mother’s contempt of their grandmother’s love of Jesus, and will not see her, but she prays every day that God will change their hearts.

I know someone who is a woman of prayer. She and her husband raised their three children to love the Lord, and gave them a stable home with a happy marriage for a model. One of the children is openly disdainful toward a God who makes what he sees as unfair rules and judgments, and he does not believe. This woman continues to pray, but has not seen the answers she’s asking for.

I know a young woman whose heart is soft and tender and who loves Jesus with everything she’s got. She has a father who claims to follow Christ but who is full of destructive pride and rage, and has been cruel and hateful to her and her mother for much of her life. She has believed the Bible’s promises about how prayer changes things, but has not yet seen the answer to her cries for her daddy.

I know a believing couple who want God to bless them with a child. Their brothers and sisters have had babies, but they have not conceived, and as she prays each month that a new life will form, she tries not to lose hope and to believe that God hears the cry of her heart.

I know a woman who has a strong, child-like faith in the Lord, and married a man who ended up being an alcoholic. She prayed for years that God would get a hold of her husband, and at times it seemed like He did, but most of the time it seemed like He didn’t. They finally divorced.

I’ll bet you know some people like this too.

Or maybe you have also been praying for something or someone for years and years, and are still waiting for God to move.

woman-praying-from-mountainThe older I get the more I realize how little I know about God. I know that He is good and He is faithful and He is great, but I don’t think I understand His timing and His ways sometimes.

Have you ever felt like that? Have you ever said, “How much longer before you answer this cry of my heart, O Lord?”

It gives me comfort to know that others have prayed that way too.

Like King David….

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
~~Psalm 13

I love how David pours out his heart in desperation to God, but also makes a decision to declare the faithfulness of God in almost the same breath. I appreciate how he’s so worried about all the horrible things that might happen, but in the next sentence he’s remembering how much God has already lavished upon him.

And I’m grateful to know that God is accustomed to His people being desperate and thankful at the same time, worried and rejoicing all in the same hour. He can handle it.

Even if we think we can’t, He can.

Trusting with you in His steadfast love,

Kidquips 11

March 13, 2013 | My Jottings

My oldest daughter Sharon and her husband Chris flew away to a warmer part of the country last weekend, for a work-related function. Because their youngest child, Louisa, is seven months old and still a nursing baby, she went with them. The older three, Mr. McBoy, Mrs. Nisky and Lil’ Gleegirl, are staying at our house for almost five days.

One of the things that gives me such delight in this life is to see the way my grandchildren love each other. They have their squabbles over toys like most children, but somehow they all treat each other with love and respect, root for each other, give hugs and encouraging words, and help each other when needed.

I’ve seen this in Sharon and Chris’s family with the birth of Louisa last summer. Louisa’s three siblings (age 10 1/2, 8 1/2 and 6) adore her. They want to hold her, play with her, help Mom or Dad with her, and they’re most happy when they’re with Louisa. When they come home from school, they change out of their uniforms, throw down their backpacks, and go to be with Louisa. And Louisa loves her brother and sisters too. She’s always full of smiles and screechy vocalizations when she sees them. She reaches for them and cuddles them, and it’s quite beautiful to see.

Two nights ago at our dinner table, Mr. McBoy (who is a dedicated gatherer of facts and any kind of trivia, as is his mother) asked Mrs. Nisky, “What is the best thing that’s ever happened to you?” And his 8 year-old sister responded with hardly a second’s pause, “Louisa.”

I will never forgot that moment.

Here’s a photo of Mrs. Nisky and Lil’ Gleegirl meeting Louisa on the day of her birth.

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Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all have someone in our lives who thinks the greatest thing that ever happened to them was the day we were born?  😉

So now Chris and Sharon have a blond, a redhead, a dark brunette, and (so far at age 7 months) a strawberry blond.

Louisa can’t do one single thing for herself, but her presence in our family has brought so much joy!

God’s Promises

March 12, 2013 | My Jottings

This is what is speaking to me today. Isaiah 58 from The Message Bible:

“Shout! A full-throated shout!
Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout!
Tell my people what’s wrong with their lives,
face my family Jacob with their sins!
They’re busy, busy, busy at worship,
and love studying all about me.
To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people—
law-abiding, God-honoring.
They ask me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’
and love having me on their side.
But they also complain,
‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way?
Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’

 “Well, here’s why:

“The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit.
You drive your employees much too hard.
You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.
You fast, but you swing a mean fist.
The kind of fasting you do
won’t get your prayers off the ground.
Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after:
a day to show off humility?
To put on a pious long face
and parade around solemnly in black?
Do you call that fasting,
a fast day that I, God, would like?

“This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’

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“If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.

 “If you watch your step on the Sabbath
and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy,
God’s holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’
making money, running here and there—
Then you’ll be free to enjoy God!
Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all.
I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.”
Yes! God says so!

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What’s speaking to you today?

Saturday Snow, Sushi and Some Shards

March 9, 2013 | My Jottings

It’s snowing again here in Northern Minnesota, big feathery flakes that float down and make everything so soft and bright and lovely. This morning our grandson Elijah and I were looking out over Lake Superior, and even though our house is quite close, we couldn’t see where the white of the Lake and the white of the sky met. It looked like one big expanse of white.

The southern part of gigantic Lake Superior is covered in good-sized shards of ice, and my friend Bob King took a beautiful picture of it for our local newspaper recently. You should check out Bob’s blog — almost anything you could ever want to know about astronomy is there, written in Bob’s friendly, factual and fascinating voice.

I may be taking the alliteration a bit too far today, I don’t know.

If I went outside right now and walked the two blocks to the shore of our Great Lake, this is what I would see:

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Except right now there’s no blue sky due to the snow falling. The black dot in the distance is a portable ice house. Yes, some person walked way out onto the Lake, which is hundreds of feet deep and cold enough to cause death by hypothermia within a minute or three, drilled a hole in the ice and dropped a line in.

Elijah and I played a game of Farkle this morning and I won for a change. Next, Michael and I picked up prescriptions, took Elijah home after buying him a small strawberry milkshake, and then on a whim decided our snowy weather called for some sushi. We had a quiet lunch at our local Japanese restaurant, and the California rolls and the tempura were delicious. Michael loves the spicy green wasabi on his sushi but I prefer only the pickled ginger. He says the wasabi is powerful enough to send hot vapors throughout every sinus cavity in his head and make his nose drip, but I have yet to figure out why this is something he wants to happen in a public setting.

Tonight we have to set our clocks ahead one hour, and I think this means that for the time being I’ll be getting up in the dark again. I might have to go to bed at 7:00 p.m. tonight in order to feel peppy in the morning. Actually I might have to do a lot more than that to feel peppy in the morning. Like finish my foster paperwork. And get a new knee.

We have a couple of Netflix DVDs we might watch tonight. One is of this movie, and I don’t know much about it. The other one is this, and I’m not sure if I’m ready for it. Have any of you seen either of these films? I have often received very good recommendations from you all, and if you can think of any other movies you’ve enjoyed, be sure to leave a comment and share, okay?

For a couple of years now, I’ve occasionally watched the den cams placed in the dens of some local bears. Here’s a link where you can see fantastic video of Lily the black bear and her two adorable cubs who were born in January of this year. Seeing what a good mother she is to her two little ones never fails to make me smile, and sometimes even sniffle a little bit.

Now I’m off to put the white clothes into the dryer, work a while on my CBS lesson, write a devotional I’m presenting on Monday morning at Leaders Council (thank God I don’t have to speak about peppiness or food preparation), and then I might meander into our hoity-toity master bathroom where I always assume the role of The Bathroom Fraud, and soak in our deep tub while reading a library book I’m enjoying. Clearly I’m in Work Avoidance Mode, as I haven’t touched a page of paperwork today.

May your weekend be a peaceful one,

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