Flowers, Leaves and Limes

April 29, 2013 | My Jottings

Good Monday morning! I am on day five of an antibiotic and feeling better. As I said before, I try very hard not to take antibiotics because I don’t want to alter my gut flora if I don’t have to. Do you try to preserve your gut flora too? I know my friend Carey is very diligent about hers. 🙂 I’ve been drinking Kefir every day to to try ensure that some good bacteria will still stay on in my body while the antibiotic is using its big guns on the bad stuff. I’m so thankful to be up and around and not feeling like life is literally ebbing out of my body. Michael caught the bug and got well. Sara caught the bug and got well. I was not getting better, which clearly does not bode well for the state of my immune system, but this was not a huge surprise to me. I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis over a decade ago and that is an immune system disease. I got sick with Sarc right after I was pressured to have a Hepatitis vaccination (another thing I’m wary about) because of our line of work. Years later I read that Sarcoidosis was increasing in medical personnel who had been vaccinated against Hepatitis. But….this is not going to be one of those old lady posts where I outline all the things wrong with my health.

Being a bit behind after 3 weeks of sinus infection and a titch of pneumonia, I have at least 3-5 things to attend to every day of this week except Friday. A crazy week ahead that I wish I could pare down, but all the appointments are mandatory. I just felt like getting on the blog here and saying hello and posting a photo of an arrangement my daughter Sara created recently.

It’s a fabulous table-top arrangement made of flowers, leaves and limes. And a succulent or two, and some dry stuff. She’s not here right this minute or I would have her give me the proper names for all these elements below — I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t say “flowers, leaves, limes and some dry stuff.”

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Anyway, I thought of how life is like this. Don’t we all have some gorgeous figurative florals in our lives, those things that take our breath away and make us so happy we’re able to see and appreciate the glimpses of beauty we’re given? Like friends? Grandchildren? Stunning sunrises? The love and mercy of God?

And don’t we all have some figurative leaves in our lives? Just plain green things that are all around us and often go unnoticed because they’re just always there in abundance? Like air to breathe? Like ordinary duties to tend to day in and day out? Like messes that have to be cleaned and food that has to be prepared?

And how about limes? Do you have some limes in your life? I don’t mean literal limes, I’m talking about those things in our lives that are nourishing but are a little hard to swallow. Things like hardship that has been allowed because it will make us more loving and patient if we bear it while staying close to the Lord. Irregular people can be limes in our lives. I hope I’m not somebody’s lime, but I think I might be! Being in God’s waiting room while praying in hope and expectancy can be a lime-like thing. It’s good for you, but not your first choice.

I think we can take the beautiful blooms and the ordinary leaves and the sour limes we’ve been given, and let God make a beautiful arrangement from them. Sometimes he’ll use some succulents too, as in the photo above — things that grow even though the rain is scarce. And what if He throws in some dry stuff? Can’t dry stuff that isn’t very pretty or useful on its own add to the beauty? I think it can! I have plenty of dry stuff in my life that I’m hoping He uses for His glory.

I can think of one thing that should not be used in a unique arrangement like the one above. Anything moldy. That would have to be thrown out right away, so it doesn’t ruin the rest of the stuff. So while the Lord might use flowers and leaves and limes, I’m pretty sure He wants moldy or rotting things thrown out immediately. Lies, complaining, bitterness, cruelty, unfaithfulness…those sorts of things that never add to the beauty.

Anyway, this weekend Su and I will be having our MRIs to prepare for our June 10th knee replacement surgeries. Then we have to attend an exercise class to help us prepare for good recoveries by strengthening our muscles now. I think that would be a lime — a little hard to take, but very nourishing. 🙂

I pray you have a blessed week. Thank you for stopping by here.

What are the flowers, leaves, limes, or even dry stuff in your unique and gorgeous life arrangement?

Your Constant Source of Stability

April 26, 2013 | My Jottings

When I was a teen, there were some people my parents knew who were predicting that World War III was just around the corner. My parents weren’t buying it, but I recall reading the Xeroxed words of this prophecy of sorts, and feeling disquieted and unsure. What would World War III do to our country, our planet, or even our family?

Just a year or two later, my parents’ thirty-one year marriage ended, and the aftershocks from that event felt worse to me than any war.

There’s so much that threatens our stability. Wars, rumors of wars, famines, plagues, recession. Drought, illness, divorce, infidelity. Addiction, selfishness, pride, worshiping at the altar of self. Isolation, deception, poverty, dishonesty, greed. And I’m sure you could probably add a few of your own thoughts about what threatens a person’s stability.

My own sin can undermine my stability. My prideful tendency to face the day in my own strength instead of humbly relying on the Lord minute by minute to guide me and enable me to love and care for those in my home, this feels unstable and precarious.

Here’s where I go when I’m beginning to feel a little wobbly, a tad bit unstable in my ways of thinking and doing.

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It’s my place of refuge in our bedroom, the big overstuffed chair by the windows that overlook Lake Superior two blocks away. And sometimes I turn the chairs so I can just spend time looking out over the water. I do my Community Bible Study here. I enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart (Psalm 100:4) by writing in my gratitude journal here. I think most of you have been named in that journal. 🙂 I sometimes write out my prayers here, calling out to God to help us and to have mercy on all the ones I love. This is a place of praise. And it’s a place of quiet, where I try to be still and know that He is God.

Here’s the passage of scripture I’m meditating on today:

He is your constant source of stability;
He abundantly provides safety and great wisdom;
He gives all this to those who fear him.

Isaiah 33:6 — The New English Translation

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I know a woman whose special place to meet with the Lord is in her car. I know another who prays when she gardens or shovels snow. I have a friend who begins her day talking to the Lord and praising Him in the shower. I have another friend whose small bedroom has become her altar. Most of us have heard the account of how Susannah Wesley’s meeting place with the Lord was underneath her apron, pulled over her head. Where do you go most often to meet with the Lord?

How thankful I am today that no matter what theatens to undo us or to steal our joy and peace, there is always a place we can go to meet with the One who is our constant source of stability.

Blessings,

The Storehouses of the Snow Have Opened Again

April 23, 2013 | My Jottings

“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow….?”
Job 38:22a

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Here’s a song to listen to as you plod through this snowy post. It’s the song in my heart right now. 🙂

Last night’s snowstorm has moved on after dropping ten inches of the biggest flakes I’ve seen in a long time. Some of them were the size of potato chips.

This weekend we’re supposed to have temperatures in the 60s, so maybe I’ll even open some windows to air out this virus hotbed for a few hours.

I took this picture just outside my office sliding glass door this morning, at the back of our house:

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You would never know by looking at this picture that our city broke a record last night. Things do look slightly snowy, but we’ve had a lot of snowstorms then melts, snowstorms then melts, so it hasn’t piled up as high as one might expect. There are some places where the snow is easily two feet deep, but the wind has kept things moved around a bit.

April of 2013 is now the snowiest month ever on record for our city. We got 50.2 inches of snow during this gentle month of spring.

The laundry is piling up, the floors are unswept, and I won’t even speak of my paperwork Alps right now. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning and I’m still hoping I’ll be vastly improved by then. Antibiotics and I have a very complicated relationship and I prefer not to be in close communication with them if at all possible.

Things I’m thankful for today:

*This weekend’s warmer temperatures.
*I’m coughless as I sit and type this.
*I’m planning on hosting a summer Bible study again this year with my favorite women.
*My husband gave me one of his beautiful smiles this morning.
*That God is able to bring good from all situations.

What are you thankful for today?

Fifth Grade Cool

April 22, 2013 | My Jottings

This photo was taken by my father when my best friend Denel and I were in the fifth grade at Workman Avenue Elementary School. It was Easter season and we were ten years old.

Denel and I had just returned from Sunday School and we were holding the remainders of our ice cream cones from Baskin Robbins, which was right across the street from the church.

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We were standing in the front yard of my house (that’s the garage window behind us) on Eckerman Avenue in West Covina, California. By this time Denel and I were starting to care about cool. Denel’s cool factor was much greater than mine; notice the knotted beads? Remember those? My sleeveless linen dress had a double-breasted navy blue and white checked matching coat that went over it. My mother liked classic, tailored clothes, and nice shoes. I had white patent leather, black patent leather, red patent leather, navy leather, tennis shoes, boots, sandals, penny loafers, and others.

I remember being obsessed with this song, and playing it over and over and dancing in my room. Oh, ho, what a visual memory that brings. My cool factor was still fairly low.

Three years later I was wearing bell bottoms, cropped tops, platform sandals and had discarded my plastic headbands and grown my hair quite long.

We have just learned that another big storm is headed our way, with a forecast of up to eight inches of snow. This has been one of the snowiest Aprils on record for us.

And I am still unwell, and will be going to the doctor Wednesday morning.

What a motley post this was. I was just walking by the office to go make a cup of tea, saw the computer there, and thought I’d sit down to say hello to you.

How old were you when your cool factor started kicking in?

You know, snow, knee, cough, gasp, etc.

April 18, 2013 | My Jottings

Fair warning to all you deep thinkers and lovers of beauty and inspiration: this post may not be up your alley. It will be all about snow, snow and more snow, my poor meniscus-less right knee, and how I think I have pneumonia but can’t be sure because I don’t really want to brave the LATE APRIL HEAVY SNOWSTORM that’s happening this very second to go to the new young doctor we’ve only met once because our old doctor of 28 years is mysteriously no longer practicing at our clinic and since I’m having an MRI in a couple of weeks to prepare for knee surgery I figure I have enough radiation exposure scheduled for my body so why add a chest xray especially when I now have an iPhone I wish I didn’t have which supplies a goodly amount of radiation and besides even if I did have pneumonia what would they do aside from what they always do and prescribe antibiotics which I’m loathe to take unless it’s a life and death situation?

Yes, it’s snowing again. And it’s supposed to snow all night and tomorrow, and they’re saying we could get up to a foot.

The flakes are beautiful though, and our furnace is working. Thank you Lord.

On June 10, if all goes as planned, one of these contraptions you see below will be surgically implanted in my right knee. I met my surgeon this week in Stillwater, MN, and since he has done thousands of the minimally invasive knee surgeries (MIS) I have decided to have him do mine.

My friend Su has needed a knee replacement for a long time, and she decided to look into this surgeon and this procedure too. We drove down together, went out to lunch in downtown Stillwater, which is a quaint town on the St. Croix River in Southern Minnesota, and went to each others’ appointments.

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It looks as if Su and I will be driving down together with our husbands in June, and while her Danny and my Michael stay in a hotel, she and I will check into the hospital and don our cute little backless hospital gowns and have our right knees replaced on the same day. By the same doctor. And then will drive home with our husbands the next day.

I will have a Smith and Nephew Verilast female right knee implant “installed.” It’s a 30-year implant, as opposed to the 15-20 year implants used most often right now. The surgeon thought my delicate youth called for the 30-year model. How it differs from other typical fake knees is that the Oxinium (a supposedly very “bio-compatible” metal) is processed in such a way that the surface turns to ceramic, and the ceramic is so smooth and durable it can last up to 30 years. Or until I’m 85 years old, but I truly have no intention or even desire to live that long. I have sincerely prayed that the Lord would take me home before I reach 80. I’m counting on Him answering that prayer in the affirmative.

If you would like to see a picture of what this Smith and Nephew model looks like in a real person’s knee after all the sawing and gluing has been done but before it’s closed up from the surgery, you can click here. But don’t do it if you’re squeamish.

Because this is a minimally invasive surgery, the quadriceps muscle and tendons are not cut. The recovery time is said to be less painful and about half as long. That sounds very good to me. Thank you Lord. (I’m thanking Him ahead of time.)

Because one degree could make a difference in the fitting and placement of the new knee, an MRI is required so they’ll know exactly how to tilt and insert and drill and fasten things. And wouldn’t you know it, our local MRI places don’t have the same templates needed for this kind of imaging, so Su and I must return to Stillwater very soon to have our scans done. We’ve decided to make it a nice trip with our husbands and spend two nights. Stillwater has a lot of beautiful Bed and Breakfast Inns and here’s the one we’ll stay in:

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I’m even thinking the yard might look like this when we drive down, which will be a visual delight after we dig out of this LATE APRIL HEAVY SNOWSTORM we’re having this very second.

So to round out this endearing blog post, I have been sick now for ten days. It started as a cold and cough, then progressed to a cough and a cough, then to a my lungs are full and I can’t easily breathe kind of cough and cough, to a fever and a cough, to a cough and a cough and a cough. Last night at 2:45 a.m. I woke from a deep sleep needing to cough, and when I did I couldn’t get my breath. Sort of like the scary childhood croup without the seal-like barking sound. I belted from our bedroom in my red plaid nightgown, coughed and trotted and gasped my way down the hall into the dining room where I opened the door and stood outside on our front deck, gasping for air while my bare feet melted the snow beneath them and the falling flakes coated my hair and shoulders. I drank in deep breaths, hoping that cold damp air would shrink my airways. And I coughed. And coughed. But I could breathe better. I had an unkind thought about the neighbors who live across the street who left us that note about how we should keep our Schnauzers quiet, and I wondered if my non-stop coughing and gasping for air was waking them up from a long winter’s nap. I don’t think I’d have been a bit surprised if I had seen a curtain in their window part just a little bit, and if it had I might have coughed and barked, “Sorry I don’t cough cough cough have a bark collar cough cough cough for humans cough cough! But I’ll see cough cough if amazon has one in just a few cough cough cough cough minutes!”

Ha.

So that’s about it for today. Now I’m off to warm up some delicious leftover Chicken Tortilla Soup for dinner. My friend Carey had this virus before me and this morning she told me it lasted thirteen days. So I’m hoping my coughing (and subsequently my gasping for air) will subside by this weekend.

Just in time to scan the skies for the next approaching blizzard.

I hope there are flowers and grass and good health in your life right now,

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 100

April 17, 2013 | My Jottings

Table-of-Food

“If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”

~~John Piper

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Waiting for Inspiration

April 15, 2013 | My Jottings

We finished painting our new black chalkboard wall in the dining room a couple of days ago and it had to sit to “cure” for awhile. Then I had to cover the whole surface with chalk and erase it, to “season” it. (You’d think I was talking about pork or something.) Then I had to sneeze seventeen times because we had chalk dust in the air, but now it has settled nicely on every surface in the house. Then I had to wipe the wall down with a barely damp cloth.

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You can click on these pictures to enlarge them if you like. This view above is taken from our kitchen. I drew a frame of sorts on the chalkboard wall, and am now waiting for inspiration to strike. I can foresee that we’ll have favorite sayings and quotes, scripture verses, menus, welcome notes for guests, and just general doodling on this wall. To the right where it wraps around I’ve started a grocery list.

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The oak deacon’s bench with the pillows on it was a Christmas gift from Michael many years ago. It’s an antique, and I’ve always loved it. When we moved into this smaller house last summer, I wasn’t sure where we could put this bench, since it doesn’t fit in the living room. I put it against this wall in the dining room, and even though it’s not the best placement, it has been practical. When the whole family is over for a birthday or Thanksgiving, we seat three little children on that deacon’s bench, with a table in front of them.

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That’s Mildred on the back of the living room couch, watching vigilantly for any tiny movement outside that would cause her to Schnauzer-shriek at squirrels, mailmen, walkers, or dried leaves lifted by the wind.

Our dining room is very bright, with three huge windows that look out over the front deck toward Lake Superior. The sun rises at the left of the room and passes over the front during the day, then sets to the far right of the room, so we are never without bright light in this part of the house.

Except when it’s the dead of night. Then there is no bright sunlight in the house.

Duh.

Anyway, painting one small section of wall such a dark color hasn’t affected the cheeriness of the room at all.

I’ll post a photo when I decide what to write on our wall.  🙂

I hope you all have a good week!

Some Helpful Links

April 12, 2013 | My Jottings

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Sometimes I read something online and I think, “That was so good/funny/interesting/provocative/helpful! I should send that to my friends.” And sometimes I do send an occasional link to a friend or two. But most times I don’t.

Today I’m going to share some good/funny/interesting/provocative/helpful links with you all. So if you don’t have a few minutes to sit and enjoy these, maybe you could just make a note to come back to this post when you have some extra time, because these are worth perusing.

If you aren’t familiar with Jen Hatmaker, you might want to check out her blog and/or her Bible studies. I’m especially interested in her study entitled “7.”  She doesn’t post on her blog very often, but when she does it’s always funny and thought-provoking. I liked Jen’s post here.

And who doesn’t need a little extra awe in their life? Whenever I’m praying about something that just seems too far-fetched, too impossible to come true, looking up into the night sky always helps. Remembering how vast and powerful God is puts my own stuff into perspective and helps me pray and believe for big things. If you haven’t checked this site out, take a look at the astronomy photo of the day, right here.

Are there any poets among you? How about poem lovers? I receive a daily devotional by email every day, but did you know you can sign up to receive one poem a day too? Take a look here.

Would you like to learn how to knit, or to knit better? My daughter taught a small group of us how to knit and I truly enjoy it. But I need help now and then, and I need help to move on from knitting scarves. Do you know about the site Knitting Help? What I like about it is how kind and patient the teacher is, and how the camera view is exactly like your own view of your hands, needles and yarn would be. So you can start and stop the video again and again until you’ve got it. Need to be shown thirty-eight times? No problem! Here’s the beginning lesson right here, but if you poke around the site you can find lots of helpful videos.

Anyone who visits my blog or is a part of my life knows that I love cardinals. They’re very rare this far north. Here is a wonderful video of a Northern Cardinal and its instantly-recognizable-to-me song, here.

I think reading the book 1000 Gifts made a big difference in my life, especially since I learned at my beloved mama’s knee how to view life as a glass-half-empty prospect. So many visit Ann Voskamp’s blog already, but I think her post on nurturing marriage is worth reading over and over. Michael and I have been married almost thirty-two years, and neither of us doubts the other’s devotion and faithfulness. But every couple needs a tune-up now and then, and every marriage needs some occasional refreshment. This post of Ann’s is worth coming back to.

I love Mexican food. Growing up in Southern California not far from the Mexican border meant that Mexican restaurants were plentiful, and my family and I probably visited our favorite one every month. When I moved to Minnesota in 1981 I was surprised to learn that not many Minnesotans knew the difference between an enchilada and a burrito, and some folks I met even pronounced the word taco, “TACK-oh.” Oh dear. Today more northeastern Minnesotans seem to be enjoying Mexican food, but I still run across people who don’t know that a good taco is always made with a home-fried corn (not flour!) tortilla. Michael still calls them taco shells. 🙂 Here’s a picture of the kind of corn tortillas you should never have in your house. I’ve often thought about doing my own little how-to video, but I guess I’d have to learn how to upload one first. In the meantime, you can see how to fry a corn tortilla here. The only difference in the way the nice woman in the video fries hers and the way I fry mine is the duration: mine don’t get quite as brown as hers. Fill a freshly fried (and drained of course) corn tortilla with seasoned beef or chicken, grated colby jack cheese, shredded romaine lettuce, finely chopped purple onion and homemade pico de gallo and I guarantee your eyes will roll back in your head when you taste all those flavors and textures together. And you’ll need extra napkins when all that tomato-cilantro-lime juicey goodness leaks out of the taco as you take a bite.

No one likes to talk about this, but I think it’s good when people do. Don’t we all know someone who has experienced some sort of infidelity in a relationship? I know that pain from my first marriage, and always have compassion on those who have experienced it. And I also try not to throw stones at those who have not been faithful, because what am I, sinless or something? Hardly. I think this link could be helpful, so file it away in your brain or on your computer for whomever might need it someday — it’s called Affair Recovery and is right here.

Not everyone enjoys warped comedy, but I do. I don’t care for comedy that isn’t family friendly, but I do like the edgy humor of Christian comedian Tim Hawkins. Tim is the father of four, and he and his wife Heather home school their children and take them all over the country when Tim is on tour. My grandchildren love Tim Hawkins. We’re going to drive to the Twin Cities in August to see him in concert, and I look forward to seeing Michael wipe tears from his eyes from laughing so hard. Click here to see Tim talk a little about home schoolers, and then listen to him sing a weird, flat song about yoga pants. You’ll either think it’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever seen, or you’ll join those of us who laugh so hard our bellies ache.

Lastly, we just got through painting a wall in our dining room with black chalkboard paint. It’s “curing” now, but in a few days we’ll be able to write on it. Someone asked me today what kinds of things we’ll write, and I said, “Menus, happy birthday wishes, scripture memory verses, atta-girl compliments for folks in our home, grocery lists, prayer requests, doodling….whatever!” If you’d like to see some of the most incredible chalkboard art, click here to see the brilliant artist make it happen in time lapse. Amazing!

Well, Michael is waiting for me to come watch a movie with him. We’re taking a chance on this one. I liked the newer one with Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger, but I wonder if this 1985 film can compare. Have any of you seen it?

Hey, what are some of your favorite links? Feel free to share them in a comment below!

Freaky Forecast

April 10, 2013 | My Jottings

While many places in our country currently have scenes like this:

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And folks on the East Coast are seeing apple trees that look like this:

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This is the forecast that was just posted in our neck of the woods:

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And we are nearing the middle of April!

Do you have flowers blooming where you are?

Kidquips 12

April 8, 2013 | My Jottings

Saturday evening we had four grandchildren over for a few hours while their mama and daddy went to a wedding.

Clara, Elijah, Vivienne and Audrey always make beelines for their favorite things after they come in and hang up their coats, hats and mittens. This time Clara picked a book from our shelves about how to make dogs smile. Elijah always reads the Tintin books over and over, and says he never gets tired of them. Vivie went straight to my office, opened the closet and brought out a box of crayons and a pile of blank paper for drawing. And Audrey sat on my lap and listened while I read this book and this book to her, before going to the dining room table to join Vivie in their artistic pursuits.

Later on Audrey (age 5) presented me with a drawing she’d completed, and she said with her hugest grin and tons of delight and love in her voice, “Grandma, this is for you. It’s you and me, and we really love each other.”

Here is her drawing, with her signature at the top (you can click to enlarge if you’d like to see the fine details):

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I know you might have a hard time telling which person is which in Audrey’s drawing, but some things are better left a mystery, so I’ll let you guess.  🙂

And here’s a recent picture of The Auds, taken at the preschool she attends twice a week:

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These are the simple things that make me so happy.

To have the love of a child is to have treasure untold.

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