Hiatus

September 20, 2013 | My Jottings

Dearest friends,

I’m taking a little break from the blog and am not sure when I’ll return. Very soon I will be on my way to this lovely scenery for The Second Annual Lupi-Soo Convention, and I am so excited.

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The car Denel and I rent will be transported across Puget Sound in a ferry much like the one above, and we hope to have a few restful, memorable, laughing days together in Seattle and on Bainbridge Island. My dear family members have gathered around to help make sure things go well here at home while I’m gone. I couldn’t enjoy my Lupi-Soo reunions without them.

If you’ve never read about the First Lupi-Soo Convention that took place last year 9,000 feet above sea level in the Rockies, you can click here.

I’m always a little surprised to find that people stop by my blog at all, and I want to thank you again for making time in your life to visit, and especially to say hello in the comments!

God bless you all, and I’ll be praying for you while I’m gone….

More Wonderful Children’s Books

September 18, 2013 | My Jottings

These are a few more favorites from my at least six shelves of childrens’ books. My younger grandchildren go back to these again and again, especially if they know I’ll read them out loud for them. I do the best I can using different voices and gestures as I read to them. They crack up when I read them this book, especially by the last page when I open my mouth wide, throw back my head and bellow, “Whhhhhaaaaaaaatttt?”  🙂

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This is always a hit, and I love this quirky family myself:

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And this one is funny and ridiculous:

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We love almost all the Jan Brett books — have you seen them? Her illustrations are rich and detailed and can keep me poring over the pages for an hour. My granddaughter Mrs. Nisky wants me to read this again and again, and she likes the way I do the trolls’ voices:

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I think this is my favorite of the “If you…” books by Laura Numeroff:

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And this older book is something Audrey likes to have read to her repeatedly. She doesn’t understand how someone could swallow the sea or grow legs hundreds of feet long…

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And I love this book probably more than the grandchildren. My friend Carole told me about it and it’s profound for adults.  🙂

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Have you read any of these books to the little ones in your life?

What are some of your favorite books for young children?

Still Mine

September 13, 2013 | My Jottings

Oh, it feels like fall here this morning. I love it. I had to get up in the middle of the night to close some windows because our top sheet, thermal cotton blanket, quilt, and top blanket we use so the dogs don’t make the quilt dingy weren’t enough to keep us warm. It will be time to turn on the furnace soon, and it was only two days ago that we had the central air on. Years ago when we had to be aware of every dollar, I would try to delay turning on the furnace until the first of October each year, but I rarely made it that late. The final weeks of September almost always turn cold in northern Minnesota, and this year seems like it will do the same.

The dogs are noticing the temperature difference too, because for the first time in months they’ve both wanted to burrow down under the covers at night instead of sleeping on top. They’re our own personal little space heaters. I have no idea how they breathe down there.

Michael and I took our Fosters out to dinner last night and to a movie. We had fabulous Vietnamese food at one of our favorite restaurants, and brought so much home we’ll have it again tonight. Michael had Spicy Beef Cashew, HOT, and I had Spicy Chicken Cashew, mild. And how could we not share an order of Spring Rolls, dipped in tangy fish sauce?

We saw a movie last night that I absolutely loved. You may remember that I like slow, meandering, nuanced, meaningful movies, and this one fit the bill. If you like action and explosions and lots of laughs, Still Mine would not be for you. It was beautifully filmed in rural New Brunswick and I got the itch to become a Canadian about ten minutes into the movie. I’m not sure children should see the movie because of some unexpected and jolting language and one scene of intimacy between husband and wife (not graphic), but please watch the wonderful trailer by clicking here.

When I told my friend Su we were going to see a movie about an older man making all the changes necessary to care for his wife who has dementia, she asked me, “Why would you want to see that?” and I understood what she was saying. She wondered why I would pay to purposely see something that was probably going to be sad. I answered, “Because I want to be encouraged.” I knew from seeing the trailer that the man loves his wife and wants the best for her, and struggles to make adjustments to her disease. Each day Michael and I walk this path of Parkinson’s, I need help. I need help because I don’t like him hovering when I’m getting meals ready, unable to tell me why he’s there. I don’t like him blurting out two-word phrases to me that make no sense, that I’m supposed to interpret and can’t, even after 10 frustrating minutes. I don’t like that we are now couch potatoes since watching television is what we can do together. I don’t like that I have to tell him when and how to brush his teeth. I don’t like that I have to tell him fifty times a day “Take big steps!” because he forgets how to walk correctly, shuffles and almost falls. I don’t like that there’s a walker sitting in our living room, waiting for Michael to change his mind about using it. And do you see? All these “I don’t likes” are a big problem aren’t they? That’s why I need help. I need the Lord to change my attitude every day, sometimes many times a day, so I will whip the selfish-poor-me lenses off my face and put the look-how-blessed-you-are-to-be-able-to-pour-out-love-on-your-husband lenses back on. Sometimes I do look through those latter lenses, and everything comes into focus. How much Jesus loves Michael and wants to show that love through me. How fortunate we are that we work in our home with two remarkable Fosters who are like family. How rich we are to have the history we have, the children and grandchildren we have. How the Lord is a refuge to us and a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46).

So I loved the movie. It portrayed the frustration the husband Craig had with his wife’s forgetfulness and diminishing personality. We saw him snap at her, feel so remorseful, and lovingly apologize. We saw the fruits of decades of faithfulness. We saw how he realized that this was going to be their road, and all the practical (if not misunderstood and quirky) things he did for Irene to smooth it out for her.

Yes, I cried. And I also felt very encouraged. I want to be like Craig (played by James Cromwell, who was amazing). If you aren’t daunted by a slow, thoughtful and touching movie, you might want to see it!

Changing topics now, lovely little Louisa will be arriving in a few minutes, and I’ll be watching her today. She is walking all over the place at fourteen months, eating up a storm, being a fan of peanut butter, red bell peppers, all pastas and tomato-ey things, laughing easily at her three older siblings’ antics, and reaching for Grandma every time she sees me. I like that just a little bit. 🙂

Here’s a picture of Michael and me, taken last week. He’s still mine. And I’m still his.

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And here’s a quote I read recently that applies to the movie we saw last night, to our own situation, and maybe it will apply to something you’re experiencing as well.

Love is not a vat that you fall into randomly. Love is saying I see everything about you, good and bad, and I am still committed to you. ~~ Tim Keller

Yes!

I hope your weekend is blessed, dear family and friends. What are your plans?

Thank you for stopping by here….

Ten Things My Dad Taught Me

September 11, 2013 | My Jottings

A few months ago I published a post about some of the things I learned from my mom. If you didn’t read it, it’s here. I thought it only right that I write a post about some of the things I learned from my dad.

1.  Always snap your wrist to the right when shooting a basketball. My father was a successful and well-known basketball coach in our community, and it seemed like no matter where I went, if someone learned my last name, they always asked if I was related to Doc Sooter. One of the distinctive things his players always talked about was the odd way he taught them to forcefully snap their wrist to the right (if they were right-handed) when taking a jump shot, as soon as the ball rolled off their finger-tips. I have never forgotten this. Most players I see today do snap their wrists in a pronounced way, but I don’t see them snap it out to the right, with fingers splayed and wrist turned. If you’re going to play basketball anytime soon, you might want to take note as well.

2.  How to parallel park. Along with coaching, being a high school counselor and a math teacher, my dad taught Drivers Education for years. That was back when the schools offered it to 15 1/2 year-olds in preparation for getting their Driver’s License at age 16. I wasn’t allowed to have my dad for a teacher, but from the time I was about ten years old, he let me drive in parking lots, and he taught me many things I still think of today as I drive. “When you make a turn, you should be sufficiently slowed down enough to accelerate into a turn. Never brake into a turn.” “Always check your side mirrors every few seconds, not just your rear view mirror.” “Never assume anyone else on the road is going to be a good driver. Anticipate the mistakes they could make.” “Parallel parking is a skill worth having, and when it’s done right, you can slip right into a tight spot with one try. None of this in and out, forward and backward, turn this way and that way kind of stuff.” And today, over 40 years after learning how to drive, I can still perfectly parallel park in one try. Is that boasting? I hope it’s not bad to say that. Just last week Michael and I drove to this restaurant to meet my family to celebrate my 56th birthday, and there was one place remaining on the street to park. The space between the two cars was tight. I remembered all the steps my dad drilled into my head about parallel parking, put them into practice, and slipped into the space like a glove in one try. Michael always smiles at me when I do this and says “I’m impressed.” And I always say, “Thanks Dad!”

3.  Reading a book a day is a worthwhile pursuit. My dad was an avid reader. When I was little, books were rewards. I hated going to the doctor and getting shots when I was young, and my father would say to me, “We have to take you to Dr. Klink’s office today, and you may have to get a shot. If you’re good and don’t raise a fuss, we’ll stop and buy you a book on the way home!” I still love the idea today of books being a reward. By the time Dad retired, he was going to the Morro Bay, CA library once a week, checking out five or six books, and finishing those books in time to return them all a week later. I cannot imagine my life without books. I would truly be bereft without them.

4.  Not saying you’re sorry is a big mistake. Our family was not the most dysfunctional I’ve ever known, but we had some big problems. Some of these problems could have been hugely alleviated if my dad had apologized in a truly humble way. He wasn’t the only one at fault, of course. But I think if I could talk to him now, he would say the same thing. I think it’s so important to say the words “I’m sorry” and truly mean it. I’ve heard many people say, “Well, ‘sorry’ just doesn’t cut it!” and I understand what they’re implying, but I think that a genuine apology heals and helps much more than we think it might. sc00021674

5. Say peoples’ names. My dad, like my mom, had scores of friends. One of the things I saw him do over and over again was listen carefully as people conversed with him, and to speak their names when he talked to them.

6. Be genuinely interested in people. Ask them questions about themselves. My dad was good at this too. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a one-sided conversation with someone, and when it ended I’ve thought to myself, “Well, they didn’t take lessons from Doc in that area.” (And to be fair, I have probably done the same to my friends since I’m known to be the long-winded chatty sort.)

7.  Enjoy the company of your children. I can’t remember one time in my entire life when my dad shushed me, told me in any way to be quiet, acted like he didn’t want to be around me, or considered me a pest. I didn’t know it so much then, but in looking back now I can see how remarkable that is for a parent. I felt that he valued my company even when I was a little girl. If I walked into a room, his face lit up. If I wanted to go with him someplace he always welcomed that. He listened to me chatter, asked me questions, patiently answered my questions, and spoke to me a few levels above what I was probably capable of fully understanding. 

8.  Peanut butter is delicious with many things. My dad loved peanut butter. Skippy crunchy peanut butter. He ate it on Wonder white bread, smeared it on saltine crackers, dipped pickles in it, and often just ate a spoonful right out of the jar. I am a huge peanut butter fan as well. I prefer my peanut butter without sugar and hydrogenated oil, but I could eat it every day of my life. I like it with apples, with a slice of swiss cheese, on toast, in cake frostings and on top of ice cream.

9.  Going to church can change your life. My father was the son of an itinerant Missouri preacher, and heard the Gospel preached all during his growing up years. By the time I came along in the family he was no longer attending church much, but he wanted to make sure I went. From the time I was about three years old, he drove me to Covina First Baptist Church every Sunday and dropped me off for Sunday School, for many years. I know it would have been more authentic for my dad to go to church with me, but all these years later I’m grateful he did what he did. He meant for me to catch the Gospel message there, and catch it I did. I can’t ever remember a time in my life when I haven’t believed in Jesus, that He died for me and took on my many sins, and loves and helps me every hour of every day. I remember the songs, the verses we memorized, the flannel board stories, the little painted chairs and the baskets full of crayons. I remember my Sunday School teachers, the clothes they wore, can still picture their high heels and beehive hairdos, their smiles, love and dedication. They made me want to know Jesus, and I still want to know Him.

10. Don’t ever say I told you so. My dad was a strong man with black and white opinions he rarely kept to himself. This wasn’t always the funnest thing to live with. But I am grateful that when he was right (at least with me), he didn’t say “I told you so.” For example, my dad didn’t like my first husband much, and in that 20/20 hindsight that comes with wisdom and years, I can now see why. I refused to look at it when I was eighteen years old, and just stubbornly married my handsome boyfriend of three years even though red flags the size of king-sized bed sheets were waving three feet in front of my nose. My dad attended my wedding, embraced Glenn, rejoiced when two beautiful granddaughters were born, and cried with me when the marriage suddenly ended in Germany four years later. My husband had been just who my dad suspected he was, but Dad never said, “I knew this would happen. I told you so!” I was very thankful for his restraint.

I learned other things from my father too, but these are the ten I thought of today. How about you? What are some things your father taught you?

Considering Your Scapula

September 7, 2013 | My Jottings

I don’t know if it’s because I just had surgery on some bones, but lately I’ve been thinking about bones. That would stand to reason, wouldn’t it? I mean, my right femur will never be the same. My right tibia and fibula are forever changed. And my patella, that little round disc of a bone? Thirteen weeks ago it had a piece attached to it that will never come off.

Lord-willing.

Anyway, for some reason the other day I was thinking about the scapula. You know what that is, don’t you? It’s your shoulder blade, your chicken wing. It’s that place on your upper back that feels so good when someone massages up under the inner muscles that surround it. Most of us have two of them.

Be honest with me now. Have you ever in your life carefully considered your two scapulae? I hope after you read this blog post, you’ll think about your scapulae in a new, awe-filled way. Because when I started thinking about what an amazing bone a scapula is, how odd and astoundingly complex and supremely functional it is, I was filled with awe. I sat there considering my scapulae and I said, “God, I can’t even get over You. You are amazing. You are brilliant. You are so kind! To carefully form such a wonderful bone so we can move our arms and shoulders and paint and hug and wave and stretch and be protected and gesture and swim! Thank you Lord. Thank you! I think the way You made scapulae is so marvelous I can’t think of anything else to say! Except thank you. And Lord, I want you to know I noticed today.”

If you have never seen exactly how the triangular scapula bone sits in a body, click here first before reading on.

Now take a long look at this illustration of the scapula, from three different angles:

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Did you see the Glenoid cavity? How about that Acromial process? And the Supraspinous fossa? Wow! Who could design such a wonderful thing, if not God? Whoever knew that a weird looking triangular bone could inspire worship?

If you’re like me, you have a lot of things to think about today, aside from your shoulder blades. Bills, children, Syria, health concerns, troubles aplenty. But I invite you to consider your scapula. Take a moment right now and give thanks to God for thinking up such a bone, and carefully forming it as you grew in your mother all those years ago. Thank Him for the things you’re able to do just because you have two scapulae that help support other more notable bones.

That’s all. I wanted someone to join me in my thanks and awe today.

Have a wonderful weekend!

The Bad Lady

September 5, 2013 | My Jottings

Every three or four months we take our Schnauzers to The Bad Lady. This is what they call Joyce, the groomer who has bathed and clipped our dogs for years.

Edith and Mildred call her The Bad Lady because she does things to them they don’t love. She pours water all over them and puts stinky smelling shampoo all over their hair (Schnauzers don’t have fur). She stands them up on a grooming table and keeps their chins lifted by a suspended collar so they can’t sit down or jump off. She squeezes them in humiliating places to empty certain glands. She uses a very loud buzzing thing all over their little Schnauzery bodies to take all the warm hair off. She uses a clipper on their nails and it snaps loudly when the bits fly. And she plucks the hair from the insides of their ears. Edith and Millie prefer not to visit The Bad Lady.

But alas, their mama and daddy want them to go. They come back smelling clean and fresh. They always look a little too severe sleek at first, but in a couple of weeks their hair will grow a bit.

When eleven year-old Edith (below) gets too fluffy, we think she looks like the Sesame Street wolf. When she comes back from The Bad Lady, we think she looks a bit alien, and has bat ears. Here are before and after pictures:

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And seven year-old Mildred (below) always looks the same, whether fluffy or shaved: disturbed. Millie is our troubled dog, with multiple personality quirks that make her simultaneously hysterical and annoying.

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They always zip around jubilantly when we pick them up from The Bad Lady’s house. They’re so thrilled to be home, and they whisper to each other when we’re not looking, “Whew! Now we can relax for another three months!”

Do your pets talk like ours do?

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 106

September 4, 2013 | My Jottings

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“Today we sing songs that are so dishonest that I sometimes hesitate to sing them. Yet when we sing the average hymn, if God Almighty compelled us to be entirely 100 percent honest, we simply could not sing them because their words would not be true of us…it is only by a charitable adaptation of the truth that we are able to sing most of the hymns we sing.”

– A.W. Tozer, Living As A Christian

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To be perfectly honest, when I read this quote by Aiden Wilson Tozer, I had to admit that I’ve thought the same thing when I’m in church. Singing songs about my devotion to the Lord when my flame is burning pretty low…

Have you ever had similar thoughts?

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