Wednesday’s Word-Edition 109
December 11, 2013 | My Jottings
Elyse M. Fitzpatrick
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This quote went deep this morning when I read it. I think my awareness of the first phrase in the quote is getting clearer these days. And that is necessary.
I think my awareness of the second phrase is growing too, but it’s still a bit fuzzy.
Seventeen below zero in our little part of the world today.
Since you stopped by here, could you please pray for us today? Thank you so much!
Walk This Way
December 7, 2013 | My Jottings
Sometimes there are places in Scripture I keep returning to, passages that seem like I’m supposed to camp in for a long time until the truths get deep down in my innermost being. Psalm 40 is one of these passages.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.
In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
you have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”
I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.
As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain
your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
ever preserve me!
For evils have encompassed me
my iniquities have overtaken me,
and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
my heart fails me.
Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
O Lord, make haste to help me!
Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
Let those be appalled because of their shame
who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”
But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God!
Psalm 40 — ESV
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I realize the part of the Psalm that says “He set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure” has all kinds of meanings. David’s words were referring to Christ the solid Rock, hundreds of years before He came to earth. And having our feet set upon a rock also means that when we travel God’s road it’s solid and not like sand, which can shift and be wind-blown and not give firm footing.
I’ve had the above pictures of these goats on my computer desktop for a few weeks now. It’s astonishing to see how they navigate such steep and treacherous ground with their relatively tiny cloven hooves. I think sometimes life can feel like this — like there are no wide open places to go, no green pastures, and that every step we’re about to take seems to bring no options except to cling to the rock or to perish.
When I look at the photos of these creatures God made to live and walk in such precarious places, I smile and feel awed and get teary all in one minute. There are days when I feel like saying “this is such a small, difficult path Lord. It feels too hard for us.” Then I look at these mountain goats and I’m reminded that it’s not necessarily the width or the ease of the road that’s important, it’s the One who can keep us on it, making our feet secure as long as we look to Him and follow where He leads.
I would rather be on the side of a rocky cliff with the Lord, than in a wide green pasture without Him.
Blessings and a Blizzard
December 4, 2013 | My Jottings
Hello my friends. You know, I really do consider my faithful blog readers friends. Who but a friend would take time out of their busy life to read a few words and see some pictures on a little rambling blog? I’ve known some of you for decades from my SoCal days (hi Denel! hi Tauni! hi Shari! hi Su!), know some of you from my many years in Minnesota (hi Carey! hi Linda! hi Sue! hi Diane! hi Ginny!), know a few of you because we’ve gone to the same church or are in a group together (hi Gail! hi Lorna! hi Pat! hi Kay J! hi Jodi! hi Kristi!) and I’ve “met” some of you through the internet even though we’ve never been together face to face (hi Kay S! hi Jeannie! hi Ember! hi Helen! hi Roberta! hi Connie! hi Linda!), and some of you are truly family (hi Sharon! hi Carolyn! hi Sara! hi Christy! hi Savannah! hi Dorothy! hi Debbie! hi Lauren!). If I haven’t mentioned your name it’s not because I didn’t care to, it’s because my 56 year-old memory has become sieve-like in the past few years and has officially lost its Steel Trap status.
We are in the midst of a three-day-long winter storm here in Northeastern Minnesota. We received over a foot of snow yesterday, are expecting at least another foot today, and the wind is blowing it all horizontally. You know you’re getting hit when The Weather Channel sends people to your city to stay for a few days so your weather can be featured on cable all over the world.
Edith and Mildred most definitely do not like this weather, and must be coerced out into the deep snow in the yard to go potty. Sometimes I have to go out on the front steps with them and say repeatedly, “Go potty! No, don’t come up these stairs Edith! Get out there and go!” And they understand me and finally give in and leap out into the drifts to squat. They might be outside less than one minute, but when they come back in their little schanuzie backs are wet with snow and they shake off vigorously and act so happy to be in the warm house again.
We’ve had Christmas carols playing ever since Thanksgiving, and this is what can be heard in our home today… click here and the music will open in a new window and you can listen as you read, if you like. I love the whole album.
I wish I could have taken a picture to show how densely the snow is falling. Instead I took this one of our large outdoor ornaments being blown about in one of the flower boxes on our front deck. As always, you can click these to enlarge them if you like.
This photo below was taken from our living room, looking out toward three little crab apple trees in the side yard. Minutes later about a hundred cedar waxwings flew to the trees and gobbled up many of the cherry-sized apples while the snow and wind whipped the branches they were clinging to.
Sara always puts a few live touches to things around the house, and here are some little pines she put in containers for our dining room mantel.
I love this big mug below — Carolyn made that for me when she was in high school.
And oh, when the weather outside is frightful, our fire is so delightful! We
light it turn it on every day and I can’t even convey how grateful I am to have a cheery blaze for all our meals. And our in between meal times too.
I decided to string together another simple banner for our living room, and even though it’s not Christmas-themed, the blue jays make me smile and it brings me pleasure to look at it. Banners and garlands are in! If you want to make something simple with the children in your life, google the word banner and/or garland and check out some of the beautiful things people are making. I saw one online last night made from red and silver cording and silver jingle bells! Gorgeous and easy.
This sweet little cardinal scented wax warmer sits on Michael’s dresser in our bedroom. It gives a bit of light, and the scent of the melted wax is “clean and slightly masculine” according to Sara, who gave me the warmer. See the unique wreath behind it? That was a gift from my dear friend Su years ago, made from the pages of a hymnal.
We don’t have our big tree up yet, although a day like today would be perfect for tree trimming. We do have our little bedroom tree up, however. Mrs. Nisky came to spend the night a week ago and she and I worked on it together. Then later that night as she fell asleep on her pallet of blankets close to our bed, the red and white lights on the tree were the perfect night light.
This Friday my dear friend Sue and I will be going out to dinner and then later attending the symphony together. Someone gave me season tickets to the symphony this year and I’m quite excited about it. I took my granddaughter Clara to the November performance, Sue and I will enjoy the Christmas one, and then in January I’ll take Mr. McBoy, who listens to classical music all the time and will love it too.
Things in our home are quickly changing, and I don’t like it one bit. I figure it’s okay to say that since the Lord knows how I feel anyway. I’m praying constantly for help and strength and humility and compassion and grace, so that I’ll be a gentle, gracious caregiver to Michael. We’ve had so many visits from several professionals in the past weeks; a great older man who’s a Physical Therapist, an insightful and patient woman who’s an Occupational Therapist, an efficient and understanding young woman who’s the nurse who will visit twice a month. Eventually a home health aide will come twice a week and I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that, seeing as she’ll be coming to help Michael shower and do exercises, but he has stated more than once that he likes it when his wife does that for him. And I totally understand. I wouldn’t want some stranger coming in to help me shower! So why would he? What to do, what to do…I pray the Lord will smooth this approaching pathway before us and make things straight and clear.
Are you someone who appreciates a little comic relief? I certainly am. Just today I was talking on the phone to my friend Su and we were discussing how important and sometimes difficult it is to always speak words to others that build, help or encourage. I told her how I used to have a printed sign on the kitchen windowsill of our other house, something I got from Ann Voskamp’s blog years ago that said in beautiful lettering, “Only Speak Words That Make Souls Stronger,” and how that is my heart’s desire. And I told her how I have occasional failures with this and how sad and disheartening it is to me. And then our serious conversation took a comic turn when Su said, “I’ll bet there are words you’re saying to Michael that years ago you never dreamed you’d be saying” and I replied without missing a beat, “Yes, like ‘don’t put your cane in the toilet!’” and we cracked up. She knew I meant absolutely no disrespect to Michael and I knew she would understand because she knows and loves him. But she was absolutely right. In 1981 when I married my strong, handsome and hardworking husband and said the words “I do,” I could never have imagined that 30 years later the words I’d be frequently saying to him would be, “Big steps!” and “Don’t put your cane in the toilet.”
Yesterday my son-in-law Jeremy reminded me that even though so much of Michael’s mental and physical abilities are diminishing, the spiritual wisdom, humility and grace he exhibits are decades ahead of other people his age. I was grateful for those words and knew deep in my heart they were truth. I know I would not be bearing the ravages of Parkinson’s with the same patience as Michael does.
We are taking things a day at a time here, sometimes an hour at a time actually. Isn’t that what we’re given anyway? Just the moments that make up the days that comprise the years of our lives? None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, but I do think I can say I know one thing tomorrow will bring — it will bring the faithfulness of God. No matter what happens to any of us, God will be faithful to us.
Psalm 36:5-9 says,
Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.
How wonderful this passage of Scripture is to me. His love and faithfulness to us reach to the heavens! How many billions and trillions of miles high is that? He is preserving us, and our animals! Edith and Mildred are being preserved by God! We can take refuge in the shadow of His wings, and in the deepest darkness we can see light because He is the Light of the World.
I think I need to meditate on this Psalm today, how about you?
It’s time for me to go make a little lunch for Michael now. The snow continues to fall and the forecast says it will pile up through the night. Then by this Saturday the deep freeze will sweep in and blast us with temperatures that fall to 20 below zero (minus 28 Celsius). I never mind the snow we see in Minnesota, but the older I get the more difficulty I have with the bitter below-zero temps. I guess I should just revel in our 25 degrees above zero winter wonderland today and deal with the plummeting temps when they finally do plummet.
Are there any of you who visit this little blog now and then and have never introduced yourself? I would so love to “meet” you. If you can bring yourself to leave a comment today, I would be blessed to read it and know you are there.
I give a wave to you all, and say a prayer to our Heavenly Father, asking Him to bless, keep, help, and cheer you as you walk out the path in front of you today…
Gratitude and Happiness
November 27, 2013 | My Jottings
Yesterday I took a couple of hours and updated our dining room chalkboard wall. If you’ve never seen the first drawing I did, you can click here to take a peek.
I wanted to draw something that would be appropriate for Thanksgiving, and later next month if I can get it together I plan on doing a drawing with a Christmas theme. I searched around the web for a few minutes and found what I wanted to do on this blog.
I’m fairly satisfied with how it turned out:
I’m preaching to myself with this message, you know?
And we also have a beautiful centerpiece on the table, ready for our Thanksgiving meal tomorrow. I love the feathers Sara put in this year’s creation! All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them. Can you find the turnip in the arrangement?
We will have fifteen people here, and we’ll enjoy all the traditional fixings — turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, roasted asparagus, rolls, pies and more. My favorite part of the day is always when we go around the table to say what we’re thankful for. The only one who won’t be able to share tomorrow is the newest member of our family, little Louisa, who is 16 months old. When it’s her turn she’ll probably say, “Uh? Uh?” and we’ll all get a kick out of that. But all of us are thankful to the very bottom of our hearts for her, and I know she’ll be mentioned.
I hope no matter what you’re going through, you’ll be able to give thanks tomorrow.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
What are your Thanksgiving plans?
With much love and prayers for you, my friends and family…
All I want for Christmas is this dining room…
November 25, 2013 | My Jottings
That’s not really true, what I really want for Christmas only God can give. But I saw this dining room in the Ballard Designs catalog that comes to our home, and I stopped when I turned to this page and said, “Wow.”
Now I have everything I need and have long been in a place in my life where I’m not in the gathering mood, but in the giving mood. I’m careful about what comes into our home because I value open spaces and organization. I appreciate having no clutter, and most things I like I don’t buy because I don’t need more than I already have.
But if you’ve read my blog for very long you know I love any kind of Scottish plaid. And you know I love toile. Just take a look at the design of my blog and you’ll see the toile. As a matter of fact, just type in the word “toile” in the search field at the left side of my blog and you’ll see a few blog posts with photos of all the ways in which I have loved toile over the years.
And I like black, and I like red, and I like blues and greens. And we have a fireplace in our dining room, so this look would be something we could easily do.
A little green paint on the walls, a little online order for a new black trestle table and some toile and plaid dining room chairs and, voila! this would be our look.
But I’m not going to do it. I only just dreamed about it a little bit. I’m not willing to spend the money on the (I think) pricey chairs and table, because what we have suits us just fine.
Even though I suppose it’s not healthy, I’ve been daydreaming a bit lately. Wondering what it would be like to have this dining room, picturing what a little cottage in the Scottish Highlands would be like, trying to remember what life was like when my husband was strong and healthy and we could have a normal conversation. When we could kneel together and pray for those we loved. And I’ve been trying to recall if I’ve ever been someone easy to live with, and I’m not sure I want to ponder that answer. I sound like a broken record when I say this, but how thankful I am that the Lord promises new mercies for His children every single morning.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving week, my friends!
November 18, 2013 | My Jottings
I know this has been around for a while, but I enjoyed it again yesterday and thought I would share. It brought a smile, and then tears.
What do you think?
November 15, 2013 | My Jottings
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
C. S. Lewis
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Our sunrises and sunsets have been so beautiful lately! The other evening Sharon called and said, “Go look at the sunset!” and I went outside to the west side of our house to see the salmon and periwinkle glow all across the horizon, with purple streaks of clouds that made me draw a breath at its gorgeousness.
Yesterday morning when I silenced the early alarm and sat up to put on my slippers, I noticed the glow in our bedroom. Everything looked magenta. I went to get the camera so you could see it too. Keep in mind that the curtains you see on the windows below are off-white, and that will give you an idea of how deeply colored the light from the brilliant sunrise was.
I got up close to the window (you can see the screen if you click on the photo) and took this shot of the sunrise over Lake Superior, which I think is astonishingly beautiful.
Normally I would be watching Louisa today, but I woke up sick this morning. I have a sore throat, dry cough, and just feel a bit tired. So Louisa will not be coming over to sweetly run through the house pointing at seventy-four things and asking in her 16 month-old way, “Uh? Uh?” She actually makes two smooth syllables out of each uh with the last syllable being upturned like a question, and it’s adorable. Never has a child been so expressive with one sound!
I am hoping to lay low, to read perhaps, and if I feel good enough I’ll fold the clean laundry. I always fold laundry sitting on our big king-sized bed, while listening to some soft music, and I’m still on my Audrey Assad kick.
Our younger Schnauzer Mildred exasperated me last night. I was on the phone with my friend Denel, and right as I watched, Millie came strolling in to our bedroom, squatted nonchalantly six feet in front of me and peed on the carpet. And I had just let her outside. I cleaned it up right away but noticed that the spot didn’t show at all and didn’t smell either, which I suppose would be something to be thankful for, except that it sent my mind going about how many other times she might have peed on the carpet and because it doesn’t show and doesn’t smell, I haven’t known about it!? Ugh.
Also, we recently had our home care assessment/intake meeting with a registered nurse who works for a local agency. We learned what is available to us, and it looks like twice a week a home care attendant will come in to help Michael shower. I’m grateful for that, and am hoping the person assigned to him is a patient and kind man. They nurse interviewing us said we could also have light housekeeping done, a meal prepared for Michael, laundry done, and that they could also play cards with him. I don’t need the housekeeping part or the laundry, and Michael is no longer able to understand well enough to play cards, but the help with showering will be a blessing. I hope he responds well to it. When the nurse asked Michael (in a too loud voice — I know people do that when they know someone is impaired, although Michael’s hearing is excellent) “Would you like to have help with showering?” and Michael answered, “I like it when my wife helps me.” So we’ll see….
In addition, an Occupational Therapist will come sometime soon to assess Michael’s walking, and hopefully work with him on learning to use the walker. He has struggled with this because he can’t remember to keep the walker close to his body, which is important for maintaining balance.
Lastly, this morning our son-in-law Jeremy called to say that the group of men Michael used to deer hunt with contacted him to say they had an extra deer, and did Michael and Jeremy want to split it? Jeremy came to pick up Michael this morning, and they used the truck to go pick up the deer. Jeremy will butcher it soon and there will be some venison chops and roasts in our freezers, for our profound and long-lasting enjoyment this winter. If you’re good at detecting sarcasm, you caught that one. Sara just came into the office where I’m typing and said with some alarm, “Mom, there’s a dead deer in the garage.” So I had to explain to her how it came to be, and remind her that Dad has lived a Minnesota deer hunting life for over fifty years now. Although yesterday when Michael and I were driving, a huge 20-point buck with a thick neck and a majestic bearing crossed the road in front of us and we slowed down to admire him. Michael said, “I don’t ever want to kill another deer” and I understood what he meant. But if a former hunting friend offers one to you, the Minnesota Polite thing to do is to accept it, butcher it, store it in your freezer, and enjoy the clean, organic, grass-fed meat for the next
ten years several months on your own table.
I think this is enough trivia for this morning. I am going to clean the kitchen now before I try to take a morning nap. Have a blessed Friday, my friends, and don’t forget to show someone in your life how much you care. Probably the ones who need it the most are the ones we see day after day and whose presence we might be taking for granted.
Looking up with you,
Garlands, a Grandson and Grace
November 13, 2013 | My Jottings
Last Saturday one of our grandchildren, Mr. McBoy, spent the night with us. He’s always such good company and I enjoy having him here. He’s eleven years old now and in the sixth grade, but he’s so tall and composed I think people could easily mistake him for a teen. Not that I know many teens who are composed, but you get my meaning — he seems older than he is.
We did what we usually do. We played Farkle, a couple of hands of Gin, we read some good books aloud, talked a lot, and gave each other hand massages. Then we did something we don’t usually do — we went to visit my friend Pat’s beautiful black horse Doc. Pat brought Doc out of his corral so we could pet him, feed him a bit, brush him, and watch as she cleaned his feet. Mr. McBoy loved it. He was able to feed Doc a handful of green grass and that simple act made him so happy. I think visiting Pat and Doc might have been the highlight of Mr. McBoy’s visit. When I drove him home on Sunday afternoon, we took turns recounting all the things we had done while he was with us. “We had sausage and eggs for breakfast.” “You whooped me at several games of Gin.” “You read Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle to me while I took a bath.” “You helped me do my first Christmas garland.” “I got to see Pat’s horse.” And so on. It sounds simple perhaps, but it feels lovely and right to me when each time I spend with a grandchild ends with such recounting of blessings and gifts.
As mentioned above, another thing we did while Mr. McBoy was here was work on some paper Christmas garlands to hang from our dining room mantel. He worked on the cardinal garland, and the next day when Carolyn came over I enlisted her help so I could finish the Merry Christmas garland.
I have two Thanksgiving garlands planned too. I’m not sure why I jumped the gun and completed the Christmas ones first, but things are sometimes a little confusing around here, so I guess I’ve just joined that club. I usually don’t decorate for Christmas until at least the day after Thanksgiving. I’ll post pictures of the Thanksgiving garlands when I’m done with those.
Mr. McBoy punched holes in a deck of cardinal cards, and I strung them together with some rough twine. The upper garland took a little more time. Carolyn cut out the plaid paper squares and the smaller white squares for me, and I drew the letters with a green Sharpie and outlined them in black. The twisted metallic cording is red, green and gold, and there are a few little white glittery snowflakes too. You can click to enlarge the photos if you like.
I was able to go to Community Bible Study yesterday and was so grateful for that. Michael was walking well enough in the morning that I felt okay about leaving him for those two hours. I know things might not always be this way, but on the days when this is possible I will seize the opportunities. Today he and I will go out to lunch, and then later in the afternoon we have our first in-home assessment with a health care agency. I have no idea what to expect or what we’ll be eligible for, but I know this is the next step in our journey with Michael’s Parkinson’s.
I feel like my life is getting so small that I don’t have much to share that’s interesting for this little blog anymore, not that the things I’ve shared in the past were that interesting. I do know that in God’s economy nothing is wasted, and just because someone’s life becomes more reclusive and focused doesn’t necessarily mean that huge things aren’t happening. I do have that sense, that while things on the outside might look and sometimes seem confined, whatever is happening in the spiritual realm has great purpose and is very precious to God. That knowledge is beauty and grace enough for me.
Thank you for stopping by here today…I pray this very minute that God will bless and keep you all today,
November 8, 2013 | My Jottings
Spam /noun/ — Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients.
I don’t understand Spam. I find it perplexing why my husband has always liked the “meat product” by Hormel called Spam. Years ago he used to buy it for himself when he would occasionally grocery shop. It didn’t seem to bother him that the block of soft, pink meat would slide out of the can covered in slimy gelatin and smell like someone’s serious digestive disturbance. He liked it on sandwiches and fried up in a pan. I can proudly attest to never having tasted one morsel of Spam in my life.
The other kind of Spam has not been so easy for me to elude. I find it in my blog’s spam folder a lot, and I don’t understand it either. There were nine spam comments in my spam folder this morning, and I thought I’d generously share with you all what some people all over the world spend their time doing.
These are a few word-for-word comments left on my blog (that got tagged as spam, thankfully):
1. Superior Net-website! I necessary to ask if I may webpages and use a element of the net world wide web website and use a couple of aspects for just about any school job. Remember to inform me by way of electronic mail whether or not that would be excellent. Many many thanks.
2. Excellent put up, very informative. I ponder why the opposite specialists of this sector do not notice this. You must proceed your writing. I’m sure, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!
3. Other news reports on drug cartels and Mexico in 2010 included a raid in South America where a totally submersible submarine, to be used for drug smuggling, was found under construction in the jungle, the murder of a U. Moreover, it is not a good idea to purchase a prescription drug online without seeing first your doctor even if you fill out a health-probing questionnaire. Even so the trends are commuting and more and more people prefer to purchase drugs from Online Stores. More than 100 different pharmaceuticals have been detected in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and streams throughout the world.
4. I all the time used to read piece of writing in news papers but now as I am a user of internet so from now I am using net for articles or reviews, thanks to web.
5. Just a tip – I bought several really cheap little carpet dots the other day and affixed them to the bottom of the feet of my dining room chairs. No more scraping along the floor boards when my daughter makes use of them like a walker!
6. While interesting while little league can be, it can be quite a lot of work to perform distinct goes. What’s more, it Presented a lot of online games in on-line. Declare “one, a pair of, about three, a number of, a few, a number of, about three, a pair of, one particular.”
If you have a blog you know what I’m talking about. And of course our email inboxes can often have a few ugly, unmentionable spam messages there as well.
With all there is to do in the world, I just don’t get it. Think of all the books to be read, the walks in the woods, the sunrises to enjoy, lonely people to connect with, jobs to perform, meals to prepare, houses to clean, friends to encourage, naps to take. It’s hard for me to understand why so many people spend their time spamming other people who don’t want their spam. It can’t be that lucrative, can it? Does anyone have insight on this?