How Apropos!

October 29, 2013 | My Jottings

I make a pot of tea in the morning and enjoy three to five cups all throughout the day. I enjoy simple things, like picking out the different cup I want to drink from each day. I like very thick and heavy mugs, and I also like very thin and fine tea cups. It just depends on my mood, but I have many to choose from and I rarely just reach for the first thing at hand. Most of you know that in our old house, I used to display my blue and white cup/mug collection on a huge wall in the kitchen, and you can see it here if you like.

My dear friend of over three decades gave me this mug for my birthday, and I love it. DSCN0694I have a post in the works to tell you about Su, but it’s so long I sometimes wonder if it should be in three parts. Hopefully someday soon you’ll be able to read about her and the way the Lord has worked in our friendship.

Anyway, this morning as Michael is napping and I’m getting ready to start on the piles of work in my office, I thought I’d share my cup with you and ask you why you think this cup might be so appropriate for drinking tea?

Some of you will see it right away. Maybe some of you will wonder what I’m talking about. When Su gave me this cup I thought for several days that it was a uniquely patterned piece that reminded me of a cow hide, except most cows aren’t dark blue and white.

Then one morning I was sipping my fragrant, steaming tea from this cup and I saw it.

And I thought, “How apropos!”

Do you see it too?

November 29, 1975

October 28, 2013 | My Jottings

On the last Saturday in November of 1975, I made a colossal mistake and received some of the most profound blessings of my life.

On that day I married a man who I suspected wasn’t going to be the kind of husband I needed, even though I wouldn’t allow myself to address those warning bells in my mind. At first the bells just sort of quietly tinkled and they were easy to ignore. Then as the years passed they began to go bong! bong! bong! and I heard them but foolishly decided not to heed their clanging. He had been my boyfriend for three years and I “loved” him. Not in the 1 Corinthians 13 type of love that a marriage truly requires if it’s to survive, but the gooshy, let’s have fun and live happily ever after kind of love. Which isn’t really love at all.

But what did I know when I was eighteen years old? What did Glenn know when he was twenty-one? Not much of anything, it turns out.

I made my wedding dress for thirty-five dollars, and my veil for ten. Glenn wore his Air Force dress blues, and I asked the florist to make a small bouquet with blue in it to match his uniform and the blue grosgrain ribbon I put around the empire waist of my dress. We got married in the teeny tiny Wayside Chapel of Rough and Ready, California, with seven other people present, if you count the minister.

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We lived in a three-room trailer on the banks of the Yuba River in Smartville, California for the first six months of our marriage. I have a few good memories from those times. I loved living on the formerly gold-rich Yuba. I cooked, walked our Schnauzer Prissy and our Old English Sheepdog Amy, played Fleetwood Mac practically round the clock, and enjoyed decorating our first little home and keeping it neat.

Then we moved into a three bedroom house on Beale AFB about twenty miles away, and about a year later our first daughter was born. When Sharon was eleven months old we moved to a beautiful little village in Germany, less than an hour from the Luxembourg border. To say that I loved my two years in Germany is an understatement. I loved the people, the beauty, Bavaria, learning the language, the slowness of our lives there. Our second daughter Carolyn was born there at Landstuhl Army Hospital when Sharon was twenty months old. Those two sweet little girls were doted on by our German landlords Aloys and Anna Diel. I’ve already written about living in Germany more in depth right here, if you’d like to read it.

When Sharon was two and Carolyn was eight months old, Glenn came home from work one evening and told me he had found someone else and didn’t want to be married to me anymore. His new interest was a musical person who played several instruments, and since he was very into guitar and his own song-writing, he felt a bond. She left her husband, Glenn left me, and that was the beginning of the rest of my life.

One of my most vivid and emotional memories of that time was when Glenn had made his decision and started hanging out at Karla’s apartment. The United States Air Force took their time in attending to all the red tape and paperwork in order to send me and my two daughters home to California, so several weeks went by while we waited. Our Volkswagen Rabbit had to be shipped across the Atlantic, my household goods had to be packed, crated and shipped. Before all this happened, Glenn and I traded off using our car. One day I had arranged with him to bring the VW so I could grocery shop, and when the agreed upon time came and went, I was frustrated. We didn’t have a phone in our German house, and cell phones didn’t exist yet. Then two hours passed and I was angry. How could he be selfish enough to not care if we had groceries? I set out on foot, pushing one child in a stroller and carrying the other on my hip. I walked two miles like that on the side of the road, all the way into Birkenfeld where Karla lived, and where I thought Glenn would be. By the time I reached her apartment building I was steaming inside. I knocked on the door and Glenn’s new love answered and said cheerily, “Hi!” and I responded evenly, “Is Glenn here please?” She looked back over her shoulder toward the area in her apartment where they’d obviously been playing music together and called loudly, “Hey a- -hole! Your wife’s here!” I remember feeling taken aback and thinking, She calls him a- -hole? Glenn sauntered to the door and offered no apology for not bringing the car when he said he would. The time had gotten away from him. As he and I and our two daughters walked to the car so he could retrieve his things and hand the keys to me, I lost it. All the prayer and patience and quiet suffering I’d lived out during the past several weeks evaporated in one second, and I hauled off and kicked him on the shin as hard as I could. And tried to punch him at the same time with the one free hand that wasn’t holding a child. I yelled, “I can’t believe you would DO this!” He dodged the punch but the kick hit home. And perhaps because we were on a busy street with traffic speeding by, he didn’t do or say much in response.

I regret that angry act of mine, and months later I told Glenn so. Even though my children were too young to remember that day, I still feel badly that I subjected their little minds and hearts to such behavior. Apparently a few folks saw that exchange and rumors which had already begun to fly in the local military community were confirmed. Glenn told me many months later that he and Karla were somewhat ostracized during that time, and it was very difficult and lonely for them.

Oh.

They eventually married and moved to Minnesota, where she was from originally. And then after ten years of marriage, he found a new love and divorced Karla. Glenn and his third wife have been together a long time now, have raised her two sons, and are apparently doing fine.

I share this today because there’s a theme running in my life right now and it’s all about love. The real kind of love, the kind that God says is patient and kind and not proud, the kind of love that inspires a person to forgive and forgive and try again, respecting and speaking highly of others, treating them as the people they could be and not necessarily as the people they are. Now as an older woman looking back, I realize that while Glenn certainly did me wrong and wounded our children, I didn’t know how to truly love back then. He wasn’t the husband he should have been, but I wasn’t the wife I should have been either. It has been easy to forgive him, because as the years have passed I have seen how destructive my own more “acceptable” sins were, and how merciful the Lord has been with me.

I’m not sorry I married Glenn, because my two daughters have brought me riches untold. The only pain that remains is what I feel when I ponder how our divorce affected our beautiful children. That can bring a deep sorrow that I must take to the Lord and leave with Him. He’s the only one I know who can deal with such things.

From Hearth and Heart

October 25, 2013 | My Jottings

Since we of the frozen north are totally weather obsessed and I jumped right on that bandwagon when I moved to Minnesota in 1981, I will open this post by telling you that it has been in the low twenties recently, and not long ago our high temp during the day was a mere 29 degrees (minus 1.6 Celsius). So imagine my happiness when two men arrived the day before yesterday with our new gas insert and installed it into our dining room fireplace! It took them about four hours, and right before they left one of them gave me the tutorial on how to use the remote control.

I love that we can set the thermostat at, say, 65 degrees, and then if the house gets cool during the night (IF the house gets cool during the night? IF? In Minnesota I’m asking IF?) the flames jump to life and the kitchen and dining room are cheery and warm when I get up at pitch black-forty-five to start breakfasts.

Our oldest Schnauzer Edith figured out within a few minutes that standing about 18 inches in front of the double doors below would bring comfort to her old Schnauzer bones, and it was sweet to see her just standing there soaking in the heat in a place she’d never lounged before.

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In early November it will be daylight savings time and we’ll have to set our clocks back one hour. This will mean yippee for those of us who get up early since we’ll get an extra hour to sleep. But it will mean that by Christmas it will be dark by 4:30 p.m., and I’m already thinking how lovely it will be to have our dinners by firelight. Snowflakes falling outside, savory smells wafting from the kitchen, dancing firelight within arm’s reach while we eat….ahhhh. Now if I could only get someone in here to take care of making sure those savory smells waft.

Michael has a doctor’s appointment today, and I’m hoping this will be the time when an in-home evaluation is ordered, and someone knowledgeable comes in to assess things and advise us on what other things to attend to. I’m hoping that occasional respite care can be arranged. I emailed my CBS core leader this week to tell her that things had taken such a turn with Michael that I wasn’t sure I could leave him for two hours anymore. I realize that unless I have someone come in on Tuesday mornings, I may not be able to return to Community Bible Study this year. I will not be content with just anyone coming in to be with Michael, and I pray that the right person/s is out there. An indifferent college student who took a home care job just to get a paycheck while studying for her degree probably won’t work. An overzealous, seemingly perfect young man who talks too much and acts like Michael’s new best friend would set my radar on high alert immediately. Gahh… I need to just release this to the Lord.

My dear friend Carey and I were going to meet for lunch yesterday but it began to be apparent that I shouldn’t leave, so I asked her if she could pick the food up and bring it to our house. She graciously agreed and acted like that was a better idea to begin with, because that’s the kind of encouraging and wonderful friend she is. We sat at the table and had good food from Burrito Union, and talked about our families and how our perceptions of our heavenly Father are changing and coming more into alignment (I hope) with who He really is and what He wants in our lives.

The other night as I was taking a bath and listening to Pandora, an old (beloved) song by Jennifer Knapp came on, and I experienced one of those rare moments when I knew the Truth was resounding into my spirit and I was receptive enough to fully take it in. The words to the song are:

When it rains or it shines on this pillow of mine
I will lift up my head to the sky
So I have a chance to see
Where my hope has come from
Know there’s nothing that I can’t abide

When nothing satisfies you
When nothing satisfies you
When nothing satisfies you
Hold my hand

Send forth Your light Lord,
And send forth Your Truth
Let them guide me to Your Holy Place
Then will I go to the Altar of God
To my Joy, my Delight and my Strength

When nothing satisfies you
When nothing satisfies you
When nothing satisfies you
Hold my hand

Why are you so downcast o my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God
My Savior, my King
My Savior, my King

When nothing satisfies you
When nothing satisfies you
When nothing satisfies you
Hold my hand

I cried as I listened to the words and wished that somehow I could really, physically reach out and find the hand of Jesus to hold onto. I told the Lord that. I know most of the spiritual answers to this longing, how He resides in those who’ve called out to Him to save them and we find Him through them, how people all over the world are His hands and feet, how the Holy Spirit often comforts us and prays for us in times of grief and trouble, and how we don’t hold onto Him, because He is already holding onto us. I believe all that, and I’m so thankful for it. And I have experienced the wonder of finding Him in another yielded person. But I still would like to be able to hold onto the nail-scarred hand of the Savior and feel that infusion of strength and hope and joy that would surely come.

Well, little Louisa will be arriving for some grandma time today, so I must close this for now. Thank you for stopping by here, and for leaving your comments. I hope your weekend is sweet and that the Lord helps us all to love and bear with and encourage the people in our lives….

Lupi-Soo Number Two

October 21, 2013 | My Jottings

A few weeks ago The Second Annual Lupi-Soo Convention Convened. Or maybe I could say The Second Annual Lupi-Soo Reunion Reunited. Whatever we call it, it’s a tradition my oldest friend Denel and I have begun and are loving. We have vowed to each other (well, vow is a strong word now that I think about it—it’s not like under pain of death or disembowelment that we’ve made this promise to each other) that for as long as we can, we’ll meet together somewhere each year for a long weekend. To catch up, to be thankful in and for our 49 year-long friendship, to reminisce, to listen, to laugh, to sit, to sightsee, to rest.

Last year for our first Lupi-Soo, I chose our destination. Denel lives in Southern California where we both grew up, and I’ve made Northern Minnesota my home for almost 33 years now. So I envisioned a cabin in the Rocky Mountains somewhere, and we met in Denver and drove 9000 above sea level to our, ahem, cough-cough, cabin in the Rockies, and had a wonderful time together. If you never saw those photos, you can click here to see them if you like.

This year Denel chose Seattle and Bainbridge Island, and below are probably too many pictures for you to enjoy of our recent Lupi-Soo. (For those who are new here, our maiden names of Lupiani and Sooter are the roots for the goofy conglomerate title we use for our trips.)

I have been a less than happy flyer since early 1981, but I keep flying. Here’s my plane in Minneapolis as I waited to board on an overcast Thursday morning. Did I pray and ask the Lord to keep that thing in the air and to also keep the flight smooth if He didn’t mind? Oh, yes I did.

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I had a window seat and these are what clouds look like in Montana.

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I had only seen photos before of majestic Mt. Rainier, but I couldn’t resist my own shot when we were still 30 minutes outside of Seattle and it loomed on the horizon. I say loomed because it should be a slightly dangerous word…Mt. Rainier is not a dormant volcano. When I learned that bit of trivia I blinked more than a few times.

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After Denel and I met in the Seattle airport and rented our car, we dropped our bags off at our hotel. Of course Denel and I visited the Farmers Market, and I think we could have spent a lot more time there. The fresh flowers for $5 a bunch! The lemon juice infused balsamic vinegar samples on fresh bread! The musical buskers! The amazing produce! I would visit the Pike Place Market quite a bit if I lived in Seattle.

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Here’s a picture of Denel at The Athenian Inn at the Pike Place Market. We enjoyed a baked goat cheese, artichoke and tomato on crusty bread appetizer. (Apparently Rob Reiner and Tom Hanks made this place famous when a scene from the movie Sleepless in Seattle was filmed inside.)

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So moanworthy….

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We were delighted with our hotel room, which was right on the water, facing west, and had a little corner gas fireplace too.

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The view from my bed:

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This was looking out our hotel room window, toward the Seattle skyline:

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And the same view at night:

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Beautiful Denel in the fancy elevator which had landscapes of twinkly lights and a movie screen inside featuring all kinds of undulating sea creatures…

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My dear friend Shari lives in Seattle and I was so excited to be able to see her for the first time since 1975, back when we graduated from Covina High School. We’ve kept in touch through letters and emails all these years, but the last time we saw each other in person was when we were 17 years old. Shari met us at our hotel’s restaurant for breakfast Friday morning and we spent the day together. Shari is on the left and Denel is behind us.

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She went to the Space Needle with us, because you have to take the elevator up 605 feet to see the Space Needle if you visit Seattle, right?

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The stunning view of Seattle from the top observation deck of the Space Needle, and the non-dormant volcano Mt. Rainier in the background right:

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And I included this photo because on top of one of the buildings under the Space Needle, you can see huge, long-legged spiders. Yikes! Click to enlarge if you want a better view:

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Denel and Julie, quite calm even though we were dozens of stories in the air…

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We also went on the Seattle Ducks, which my friend Ginny recommended to us. I confess I probably wouldn’t have thought to take this land/sea truck/boat tour had Ginny not been so enthusiastic (I think she texted “one of the highlights of my life”), but it was fantastic! Such a great way to see the city without having to drive all over and find the highlights on our own. We learned fun and interesting things about this beautiful city, and the tour guide played appropriate and sometimes crazy music and wore strange hats that really added to our enjoyment.

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Shari and Denel on our Duck Boat tour…

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We were so glad Shari was free to spend the day with us, because she’s one of the truest, sweetest people I know, and because she knew the city and suggested we have a late lunch/early dinner at Ray’s. 🙂

Once again we were right on the water, and we ate outside and had these delicious fruity beverages…

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Later that night after we said goodbye to Shari, Denel and I weren’t hungry enough for dinner. So we went downstairs in our hotel to this beautiful fireplaced lobby (right on the water) and had appetizers.

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Mine was a melted blue cheese and blackberry crostini appetizer, and I couldn’t help but notice that Washington blackberries are almost as big as ping pong balls. We have berries in abundance in Minnesota, but they’re not this size!

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After a restful night’s sleep we decided to order room service for breakfast, and I chose something I’d never had before. Steel cut oats with toasted walnuts, grated candied ginger, chopped dates and strawberries drizzled with a maple cream sauce. I wonder what the folks in my house would do if one morning when asked what’s for breakfast, instead of mumbling “Toast and eggs” or “Fruit and cereal” I answered liltingly, “Steel cut oats with toasted walnuts, grated candied ginger, chopped dates and strawberries drizzled with a maple cream sauce!” They’d probably fall over. Then they’d get up and dig in.

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Denel ordered the fruit salad with homemade granola, yogurt and mint. Another wow and another yum.

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After two nights in Seattle, we took the Bainbridge Island Ferry across Puget Sound, and drove to our beautiful beach house. Here’s a link if you’d like to see photos of the rooms, views, yard, etc. This little friend was waiting for me in the kitchen window:

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Here’s a view from the kitchen of the very modern and airy decor:

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The back yard was lovely, and views of Seattle can be seen from almost anyplace in or near the house:

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The nighttime Seattle skyline from the deck of our beach house:

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Even though rain was forecasted for most of the time we were there (Hello? It’s Seattle!), Denel kept asking the Lord for sunny weather. We had beautiful sunny days for the most part, and after one period of rain we saw a double rainbow over Puget Sound, as a cruise ship was heading out to sea. You might be able to see the fainter rainbow just to the left of the tree if you enlarge the photo…

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There was a cozy window seat in the living room and we sat near there to enjoy the beauty. Denel and I also read three books before our Lupi-Soo, all either set in Seattle or on Bainbridge Island, and we had ourselves a little book club discussion on one of the grayer days. We both thought this book was quirky, unique, funny and like nothing else we’d ever read.

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Bainbridge Island has giant pine trees and beautiful flowers almost everywhere:

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We ate at a great place called Doc’s Marina and Grill, where we wanted to try a drink called a Gordon Green. It was in the Bernadette book. Because it has lime juice in it, and cucumber juice and sugar, I thought I might love it. Alas, I have never developed a taste for strong alcohol and I wasn’t a fan. We had a nice dinner though, and talked about our families and our prayers and dreams for those we love. Denel and I will always pray for each others’ children and we don’t hesitate to text each other if prayer is needed.

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Since my father’s name was Doc, I had Denel take a picture of me in front of the sign to I could send it to my dad’s wife Dorothy:

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Lined up with dozens of cars on Monday morning, sailing on the ferry back to Seattle on Puget Sound.

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Denel and I turned in our rented Subaru at the airport, and then found that we were departing from separate concourses and had to take different buses to our respective terminals. We quickly took a picture of ourselves together, hugged and prayed for each other, and waved goodbye until next time. The picture below on the left was in a photo booth at Long’s Drug Store in the Eastland Shopping Center in Covina, CA. Denel and I were almost 13 years old. The photo on the right was right before we said goodbye in Seattle, 43 years later.

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Next fall when we meet somewhere for our 3rd Lupi-Soo Convention, it will be my turn to choose. I’ve never been to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and I hear it’s beautiful there. I also wouldn’t mind some place in New England — maybe a cabin in the woods of Maine, with a view of the grey Atlantic will do. On our next Lupi-Soo we’ll be celebrating 50 years of friendship. We know each others’ histories, the family stuff that shaped (and hindered) us, we loved each others’ parents, traded each others’ books, shared vacations, school, giggles and heartaches, and because of God’s goodness to us, we’ve made more memories than either of our brains can bring to mind anymore.

Today I’m thinking of my cherished, oldest friend Denel, and thanking God for all He’s given us…

Two that are dear to my heart

October 16, 2013 | My Jottings

Joni Eareckson Tada is one of my favorite people. I’ve never read a book of hers that hasn’t made me weep, exult, and yearn to be changed. I was happy to see this little video she did recently, and just had to post it, because one of my favorite people is sharing about one of my favorite things….

And while I’m at it, may I recommend one of Joni’s more recent books to you?  If you haven’t read this one, I promise it will be one you’ll want to own. You might even want to give it as a gift. If you’re a Christian, people are eventually going to ask you why a loving God allows such suffering in the world, and this book will speak to that in ways better said than almost any other book I know. (Tim Keller and Peter Kreeft do a phenomenal job of addressing this issue as well…)

And if you’d like to see if there’s a CBS class near you, click right here and look for the “Find a Class” button near the top of the page. There are daytime and evening classes available all over the world.

I’d also like to invite anyone who has been to CBS to leave a comment below and share their opinions and experiences about attending!

I hope your Wednesday is full of God’s peace,

Monday Minutiae

October 14, 2013 | My Jottings

Good Monday morning to you all! And to a couple of you, good Monday afternoon! And to one of you, good Monday night!

I was up early this morning and was so taken by the brilliant sunrise. We’ve had several of them lately. This was taken from our dining room around 6:00 a.m. Just beneath the dark pink colors is Lake Superior. (Click to enlarge if you like.)

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Our eleven year-old Schnauzer Edith has been ailing slightly, so I took her to the vet this morning after breakfasts were served and our Fosters departed for their jobs. Edith has one bloodshot eye, and she’s also been licking spots on her upper arm, her paw, and her belly. We’ve put her in The Cone of Shame for a couple of weeks now, to help let the raw spots heal, but as soon as they did and we removed the cone from her collar, back she went to worrying those areas.

The vet found two tiny old-dog growths on each eyelid which are probably irritating the surface of her eye, and they need to be surgically removed. To the tune of $700 (or £437). Yikes. He checked her very carefully and did not think she has fleas (thank the Lord), but instead feels she has developed seasonal allergies. We will try a little Benadryl to give her relief, and wait for snow. If the snow clears everything up, we’ll know the vet was right about allergies. And even though he didn’t think this was necessary, I did buy some new food for her with no carbs in it, and lots of good protein and vegetables. The dogs’ food has been high quality but does have brown rice in it, so we’ll see if the new stuff makes a difference.

Today, like most Mondays, I have piles of paperwork to do. Reports to mail, checkbook registers to balance and statements to reconcile for our Fosters, laundry, dinner to conjure (ha – wish I could!), bills to pay and my CBS lesson to finish, but not necessarily in that order.

Last weekend I had a couple of free hours and decided to go see a movie. Michael wasn’t up to it, so I went alone and ate some Butterfinger Bites while watching the armrest-gripping movie Gravity. You can see the trailer here. I liked the movie a lot, but it was intense and I would have liked the ending to be a little different. I could also see why some people would hate a movie like this — it wasn’t what you’d call relaxing entertainment.

Yesterday morning when we got up, we came into the dining room and kitchen area to see that Sara had brought up our bin of various pieces of fall decor, and festooned the mantel with a few things.

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The pumpkin at the far end plugs in and glows in the dark. Its lights slowly change from green to yellow to orange to purple, and our grandchildren have always loved it.

I am 18 weeks post-op from my knee replacement surgery and coming along. My range of motion has gone up to 115 degrees a few times, and my PTs tell me that 120 degrees is what they see most often when a patient finishes PT, so I’m encouraged by that. I’ll wait until I am 52 weeks post-op to fully decide how satisfied I am with my decision for surgery. There are many pluses already — no more grinding arthritis pain, no splaying deformity, no deep, throbbing ache that wakes me up at night. But there are challenges with this major surgery too. Whew.

Last week Michael and I took a drive up the north shore of Lake Superior, to see the fall colors before they fade and winter sets in. We drove as far north as Gooseberry Falls, and we both said to each other how we never tire of the beautiful north shore drive.

Michael’s health continues to falter and some days I confess I’m not sure what I will do. I’ve been asked, “What are you going to do when Michael can’t walk anymore?” and I say, “I don’t know.” I’ve always been someone who’s task oriented and can look ahead and make decisions about whatever is needed, but not with Michael and the Parkinson’s disease which has robbed so much from him. My friend Shari reminded me that perhaps a call to a social worker is in order, and I might do that soon, just to see if there are some home options for us. It’s not like I can’t take care of him right now. I can. But watching him walk is heart breaking. He used to festinate a couple of times a day (it’s the odd, rapid shuffling advanced PD patients do) and now he does it constantly. I am hoping that he’ll be willing and able to use a walker soon, but so far that hasn’t happened. He has daily confusion as the Parkinson’s dementia makes itself known. He also can’t cut up his food anymore and doesn’t seem to see the need either. So when I intervene and say, “Here, let me cut that up for you,” he’s sometimes fine with that, and sometimes he resists. I think I’ll just try cutting up his food before I serve it to him. That was sort of a duh moment, eh?

I know that Michael looks to me as his everything, and sometimes that’s very touching, and sometimes it can feel a bit smothering too. It hasn’t gotten to the point where he can’t be alone for a couple of hours (as in Tuesday mornings when I go to Community Bible Study), but I can tell he feels a big, relief-filled exhale when I walk in that door. He thinks I’m his glue, his anchor, his protector, the one who will make sure everything goes okay. And most of the time I just realize that this is the way things are, and I go with it. I ask God to help me and He does. I love my husband and remember all that he has been to me, to our family, and I give to him because it’s what spouses do. But I have my days. I descend into self-pity and tears every few weeks, and have just accepted that it’s not the end of the world if I do. I go to our bedroom and cry, and feel sorry for myself because no one is looking after my interests and comfort like I look after those in my home. I can do the martyr thing pretty well. But then after I blow my nose and stop sniveling, I start to recount the blessings I have. It sounds so trite to say “count your blessings,” but powerful things often do sound trite and simplistic.

We’re studying Daniel, Job and 1 and 2 Peter in CBS this year, and we began with Daniel. I’m in a core group of 15 varied and wonderful women, and am challenged and encouraged by our study and discussion. I’ve read Daniel before, but this time I’m struck by how awful it must have been for young Daniel and his friends to be literally kidnapped from their homes and families and marched hundreds of miles to Babylon in the exile. I can certainly see that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego weren’t whining about the horrible turn their lives had taken. They decided to love and serve their God more than anything else, even life and comfort. When faced with compromise or the prospect of a torturous death, they chose death. They lived humbly and confidently in the face of King Nebuchadnezzar’s maniacal anger and arrogance. When trouble came, Daniel and his friends grew alarmed (I was so glad to read that!), then began to thank God, recount His past faithfulness, and plead with Him in prayer. And God was faithful to them in miraculous ways, even though the miracles He did on their behalf didn’t really make them tra-la-la happy and comfortable. To our knowledge, Daniel never got to return home to Israel. He died in Babylon an old man, having served his God faithfully his whole, difficult life. We’re only in chapter four, but already I’m asking God to help me apply what I’m learning. When I’m alarmed (or overwhelmed or frustrated or exhausted), I’m so glad to know it’s okay. But then I’m trying to remember to begin thanking God for who He is, and for His faithfulness to me for 56 years. He saved my fourteen year-old life when I was almost dead in an emergency room. He has forgiven so much! And then, I pray. I’m still learning about this one. Prayer is such a mystery to me. I think it’s simple, but then I don’t get it. I get it, and then I think it’s really hard. I’m all over the place with prayer, but I’m still praying.

I guess this is enough for today. After I get to my aforementioned tasks, I need to go be an anchor and some glue for someone waiting for me in the living room.

I know who our glue and anchor and deliverer and protection really is…I know you do too.

Jesus, we look to you….

Rearranged

October 10, 2013 | My Jottings

I’m still working on the fairly long post about my recent trip to Seattle and Bainbridge Island with my friend Denel. There are lots of photos to size and arrange, and I hope to get that up soon.

In the meantime, we rearranged the furniture in our bedroom and I thought I’d share how it looks. We’ve never had the bed under the front windows before, but I’m beginning to like it! You can click to enlarge these if you like.

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I’ve always liked how changing the placement of a few things in a room makes it feel new, when nothing in it really is.

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And of course there should always be at least one cardinal in every room.

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 107

October 9, 2013 | My Jottings

“God’s definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. He measures our lives by how we love.”   ~~Francis Chan

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These are four of my eight precious grandchildren — Mr. McBoy (11), Mrs. Nisky (9), Li’l Gleegirl (6) and Baby Shamrock (15 months). If my life is measured by how I love them, I’m probably okay. But if my life is measured, as Francis Chan says above, by how I love everyone, then I’m doomed, at least without the thousands of mercies I need from the Lord each morning.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8, The Message Bible

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How is it even possible to live like this?

It’s not.

But with God, all things are possible. Jesus said so. (Matthew 19:26). So before I walk out the door this morning I will go to my heavenly Father and ask for truly impossible things.

How about you? Are you asking God for impossible things too?

Delicious Autumn

October 3, 2013 | My Jottings

IMG_0649“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns.” — George Eliot

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I took this picture a couple of days ago with my iPhone, just down our street. You can click to enlarge it if you like. The summer humidity has fled, the nights are turning crisp and cool, and the trees are superbly showing off before they drop their leaves and go to sleep for the winter.

Like so many of you, this is my favorite time of year, and it always seems too short. There’s a good chance we’ll see snow before the month is over, and then Michael and I will dream of being snowbirds again.

When I moved to beautiful Minnesota in 1981 (from sunny Southern California), I couldn’t understand why so many older people left the state for warmer climes during a winter month or two. Now that I’m 56, I totally get it. If I ever left Minnesota it would be very bittersweet, but the thought of going to a state with cooler summers and warmer winters is very appealing these days.

The sun is coming up and the sky is periwinkle over Lake Superior, I can hear a shower running, coffee needs brewing, and a hungry man awaits breakfast.

I hope your day is blessed…

Apparently We Are Filth Folk

October 1, 2013 | My Jottings

Hi everyone! I’ve been back from Seattle and Bainbridge Island for a little over a week now. I took quite a few average quality photos while I was there, and I’ll be posting them sometime soon so you can see what a great time Denel and I had at The Second Annual Lupi-Soo Convention.

It seems like so much can happen in a couple of weeks. First of all, my recovering right knee has decided I was getting a tad too smug in my progress, and has been sore and swollen for two weeks now. Secondly, Community Bible Study has begun, and in the book of Daniel we’re learning about and being encouraged by the completely trustworthy and loving sovereignty of God. Thirdly, autumn has arrived in full color in northeastern Minnesota, and I’ll put up a picture or two of the gorgeousness soon. Fourth, we have a new vacuum. And I’m in a state of disbelief at the state of our carpets.

For those of you who don’t know, we have lived in this house for about a year and two months. We had brand new carpet installed in the living room on the day we moved in. We immerse ourselves in the Minnesota tradition of taking our shoes off as soon as we come in the door, and usually wear either clean socks or slippers when inside. I’m kind of picky about carpet. I don’t like dirty carpet. I usually steam clean my carpets every other year myself, because I’m not entirely satisfied with the quick way some of the professional carpet cleaning companies do the job.

In addition, I wasn’t thrilled with the Hoover vacuum we had in the old house. I then bought a Kenmore that was highly rated by Consumer Reports Magazine and never really loved that one either. It bit the dust after five years, and recently I started reading up on vacuums. I decided, very reluctantly, to get a much too expensive Dyson. This one.

Dyson makes claims about their vacuums that not every owner and reviewer agrees with, but 90% of the reviews I read were very positive. There are no disposable vacuum bags with these machines, just a transparent container with a handle on it that snaps out of place for easy emptying when the gag factor climbs too high.

Here’s what came out of our fairly small living room carpet which is only fourteen months old, and one half of our bedroom carpet, both of which have been cared for meticulously and vacuumed frequently:

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I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Laugh, because HA HA HA! that dirt is no longer in our carpet! Or cry, because OH MY GOSH! that dirt was in our carpet!

I could have told you what I think God is doing in my life these days (and I’m so grateful He hasn’t given up on me), or regale you with cute sayings uttered by my grandchildren, or share about the new television series Michael loves, but instead I thought I’d show you our dirt.

Coming soon: Seattle, Shari, the Space Needle, some swell sea views, scrumptious sustenance, and snacks…

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