Books By Color

April 21, 2014 | My Jottings

I keep planning to share about what has happened in our lives, but it’s too huge and seems too fragile to put in black and white yet. I have tried to write about it and my words almost trivialize the changes and sorrow we’re going through. So instead I’ll put up some pictures of what I did to our living room bookcases a few weeks ago. Michael and I were watching television and I thought I’d try to rearrange our books by color. I’m still occasionally gazing at it, quite enjoying how it looks. You can click to enlarge the pictures if you like.

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We have a lot more books than this in two large bookcases in our bedroom. We also have two smaller bookcases filled with children’s books in a little reading corner of our bedroom for all the grandbabies.

I think I’ll leave the bookcases like this for a long time. Maybe forever.

We feel it in our bones…

April 14, 2014 | My Jottings

This is a profound and meaningful quote to us right now….

 “Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback.

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And the point of biblical stories like Joseph and Job and Esther and Ruth is to help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that God is for us in all these strange turns. God is not just showing up after the trouble and cleaning it up. He is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for the glory of Jesus Christ.”

~John Piper

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A Unique and Delicious Salad

April 8, 2014 | My Jottings

We had potato, kale and sausage soup for dinner tonight, otherwise known as The Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana. Michael loves it and my copycat recipe (from the Pioneer Woman’s site, I believe) is almost indistinguishable from the restaurant’s. I wanted to make a different kind of salad to go with it, and the one I chose was so unique and scrumptious I thought I’d share it with you. I adapted it from Amy Thielen’s fabulous recipe and my changes are included here.

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Parsley Salad with Toasted Almonds and Lemon

5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups cold, cooked basmati rice
5 cups roughly chopped Italian parsley, with tender stems
1-1 1/2 cups whole raw almonds, skillet-toasted in 1 teaspoon butter, and roughly chopped
1/2 cup finely diced sweet onion, such as Vidalia
Zest of 1 lemon

Directions

Make the dressing right in the serving bowl: Combine the lemon juice, mustard, honey, pepper, salt and garlic in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking until emulsified.

Add the parsley to the dressing and toss to combine. Add the rice, toasted almonds, onions and lemon zest, and toss well. As a side dish, this would serve about 6.

If you make it, let me know what you thought. I will make this again and again.

In other news, it’s all too sad to report. So I’ll share it when I have the gumption to sit down and type it all out.

Now, I pray for every single person who’s reading these words today, that the Lord would help you, bless your family, remind you often of His mercy and love for you, bring healing and peace, and draw you closer to His beautiful self.

I’m asking Him to do the same thing for me.

A Happy, Hard Birthday

April 3, 2014 | My Jottings

My dear husband Michael turned 65 yesterday. He told me how loved he felt when his children called to sing to him, bring cards over, and sent love notes about what kind of a dad he has been.

It was a full day and we’ll long remember it. Our friends Danny and Su dropped by with a peanut butter pie for Michael, along with a camouflage shirt and the love and ease that comes from years of friendship. Later on, Lorna and Steve came over with homemade brownies, a guitar and some music, and while Michael rested in our bedroom, they sang hymns to him. It was truly beautiful. Michael’s voice is almost gone, but during the choruses in “How Great Thou Art” and “Nothing But the Blood” he was singing his loudest and keeping time with his hands.

We were planning to go out to dinner at Michael’s favorite restaurant but had to cancel at the last minute when Sara and I couldn’t get him to the car. There are some mornings when Michael can still walk (very slowly, with tiny steps and much assistance) from the bed, down the hall, into the dining room for breakfast. But usually by early afternoon his ability to walk is almost gone. As we were trying to help him yesterday, step by step through the kitchen to the back door, he just couldn’t go any farther and was in a lot of pain, so we texted/called everyone and told them we couldn’t make it. :(

It is very difficult to see these changes in my once active, vibrant, funny, strong husband. How much more difficult is it for him to live it? I know the grace of God is carrying him, but there are days when I know Michael fights hopeless thoughts.

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One of the cards he received yesterday made him laugh. I have never understood why Michael (and many men) enjoy bathroom humor. I love a good laugh and have been known to have a warped sense of humor, but in my opinion flatulence is just not all that entertaining. One of his cards read on the outside, “Farting is an art.” And on the inside it said, “Happy Birthday Rembrandt.” Michael loved it.

You can see on our mantel a picture that Li’l Gleegirl drew of Grandpa, and that made me smile.

I might as well call this The Snow Blog, because yet again I report to you that a winter storm warning has been posted for our part of the country, and heavy snow is supposed to begin this afternoon. The storm will last 24 hours and we’ll again have mounds and piles of it everywhere. I’ve lived in Minnesota for 33 years and cannot remember a winter like this.

Yesterday was also Millie the schnauzer’s birthday — she turned eight. She got some extra pats and crooning, but that’s about it.

I saw this recently and thought it was pretty accurate:

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Have a good weekend, friends!

Blessings,

Keep Calm and Try Again

March 31, 2014 | My Jottings

keep-calm-try-againIt has been a while since I’ve written on the blog. I took it down for a few weeks because a sick person was stalking pictures of my grandson. It made me angry and disgusted. Even though that person is a person, I wasn’t having charitable, gospel-sharing thoughts about him. I pray he never visits this blog again, and since all bloggers have a dashboard that allows them to check what searches are being done on their blog, I’ll be checking it now.

It doesn’t mean we can see who you are, but we can see if someone does a search in our search field, and that’s what was happening. And I learned there are things one can do.

If it happens again, I’ll have to make the blog password accessible.

So much has happened in the last month, I don’t even know where to begin. So I won’t begin right now. I’ll try to find the opportunity in the next few days to share.

I just thought I’d put my blog back up, say hello, and see if anyone is still out there. :)

God bless your week, and I’ll be back soon. After the new snowstorm that’s coming.

A good man, his wife, and one of their dogs

February 28, 2014 | My Jottings

Our daughter Sharon has been saying for a long while that she wanted to take some pictures of the grandchildren with Grandpa. So last week she arranged for Carolyn to bring her four children over, and Sharon brought her own four, and she set up a little spot in our bedroom for a makeshift studio.

One by one the kids came in, sat on grandpa’s lap, gave him hugs and kisses, and smiled for the camera, and I look forward to seeing the proofs when Sharon is done editing them.

At the very end she had Michael and me sit on the edge of our bed for a mini-photo session of our own. She’s a great photographer and knows how to almost effortlessly direct you to lift your chin, turn your head, clean your nose, pick the spinach from your teeth and so on.

I haven’t seen all the pictures she took of Michael and me yet, but this is the one she liked best, and sent to me last week. Millie photo-bombed the shot, but that is so entirely like Millie it just seems right. She’s always trying to be the center of attention in our house.

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Millie seems to be saying, “This is my best side, I’ll stand still and look toward the window while you get a good shot.”

Michael seems to be saying, “Hello wife.”

Inside I’m really thinking, “This is the man who rescued me and shows me how to trust Jesus, live in grace, and suffer with patience and dignity.”

I hope  you all have a blessed weekend…

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 111

February 26, 2014 | My Jottings

The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.

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And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

~~ C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity

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A few quick thoughts…

February 23, 2014 | My Jottings

If you don’t live where I live and you visit this blog once in a while, you’re probably tired of reading about the snow and cold. If you do live where I live, you’re probably tired of living with the snow and cold. Unless you just skied the Birkebeiner or have visited the ice caves or love winter camping. Two days ago we had another storm and fifteen inches of new snow piled on top of the many feet already on the ground. Here’s a photo of our front steps, leading to the drifts that are almost seven feet high.

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Foolishly, I always look ahead to see what good news of spring-like temperatures the forecast brings, and am learning I should just let it be. This coming Thursday the predicted low will be around -20 degrees. I must be done talking about this. There are things to smile about, and beauty to be noticed.

Here’s some beauty:

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A simple white pitcher of alstroemeria, a long lasting flower that stayed fresh and lovely for nineteen days. I enjoyed it every single day.

Here’s some more beauty:

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This is a large rectangular table-top arrangement Sara did for a friend’s birthday party. So modern and different!

Here’s something to smile about:

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This view of Mildred and Edith caused Sara and me to sing “We had joy, we had fun, we had Schnauzers in the sun…” over and over until we giggled hard. If you have no idea what song we’re referring to, click here. It’s quite a heartbreaking song about death, really.

Here’s something else to smile (or chortle) about:

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I was ten years old, and in the fifth grade at Workman Avenue Elementary School in West Covina, California. My teacher was Mrs. Helen Rorex and I adored her. I also had a crush on a class mate named Duane Edmunsen, but he wasn’t similarly inclined. Where should I start with this school picture? With the hair and the bow (which, by the way, my mother thought were beautiful)? Or with the little pin on the improperly turned turtleneck collar? Or maybe we should focus on those teeth, the ones that inspired my brother to lovingly make rodent noises with his upper teeth against his lower lip and call me Bucky Beaver all those many delightful years ago? (I know…he had the gift of encouragement.) When I look at this picture I smile at that smile, and am filled with gratitude for the orthodontia my parents secured for me the very next year.

Lately I have so much to write about and keep turning it all over in my mind, but just can’t get it out in print yet. I want to share about my granddaughter Li’l Gleegirl and what happened with her recently. It was a turning point in my life, of sorts. I have much to share about Michael, but hardly know how to begin. So I think and pray, put one foot in front of the other, and think and pray some more.

And I’ve been pondering Bucket Lists. I’ve always resisted that phrase since it seems so trendy, but I’ll go with it today. Here’s something on my list of things I’d like to do before I die:

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Someday I’d like to spend an extended period of time in a cottage in the Highlands of Scotland, with some books, some tea, a continually blazing fire in the hearth and a good, clean, comfortable bed.

What kind of beauty do you see today? What makes you smile? What’s on your bucket list?

From This One Place

February 18, 2014 | My Jottings

20091014082310_0_Fireflies_and_SongsI’ve shared before on the blog how much I love the music of Sara Groves. And if you’ve visited here for long you know that I often like to let the words of one song speak to me over and over again, especially a song rooted in scriptural truths and encouragement.

I don’t know of any other artists (with perhaps the exception of Bob Bennett) whose music so represents many of my own thoughts and feelings. Sometimes when I listen to Sara Groves, it’s like she has eavesdropped on my heart and penned the words I would have written if I had the gift of songwriting.

Most of you know that cardinals are my favorite bird, for very good reason. If you’d like to know why, you could click here to learn more about it.

Recently I went back to listen to some Sara Groves music, in particular the song “From This One Place.” She wrote and sang this piece about a dark, fearful time, and a cardinal outside her window. I have cardinals all over the inside of my house to remind me of God’s love and faithfulness during a dark and fearful time in my own life many years ago.

I’m so thankful that even when we don’t see much happening in answer to our prayers, He is still at work. He promises. I’m so grateful that when we’re in the dark and can’t see clearly, God sees “something else.”

I thought I would share this beautiful song with you. Make sure your speakers are turned up a little bit, and click on the dark red song title below. Then once the little player opens, click on the play arrow and you can read the lyrics as you listen to the song:

“From This One Place” by Sara Groves

I was about to give up and that’s no lie
Cardinal landed outside my window
Threw his head back and sang a song
So beautiful it made me cry
Took me back to a childhood tree
Full of birds and dreams

From this one place I can’t see very far
In this one moment I’m square in the dark
These are the things I will trust in my heart
You can see something else
Something else

I don’t know what’s making me so afraid
Tiny cloud over my head
Heavy and grey with a hint of dread
And I don’t like to feel this way
Take me back to a window seat
With clouds beneath my feet

From this one place I can’t see very far
In this one moment I’m square in the dark
These are the things I will trust in my heart
You can see something else
Something else

From this one place I can’t see very far
In this one moment I’m square in the dark
These are the things I will trust in my heart
You can see something else
You can see…

Words and music by Sara Groves

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How about you? What do you remember, what do you do, what do you cling to, when you’re feeling “square in the dark?” Is there a verse that you go back to? A friend you call? Do you take to your bed? Do you bake? Do you operate on autopilot? Do you put on music?

I know a lot of people in the dark right now, even though they’re devout believers. Maybe something you share could help someone else. You may even post a comment and keep it anonymous if you like.

Thank you so much for reading…

Waiting with you,

The effects of encouragement

February 16, 2014 | My Jottings

My husband encouraged me today. I don’t know how he does it, but with very few words he usually manages, with his smile, his mercy and his (deceived) high opinion of me, to lift my mood. Not always, mind you. He’s not a miracle worker. Jesus is my miracle worker. But the couple of things Michael said to me today made me reflect again on how important it is to encourage someone. Anyone. I want to get better at encouraging those I love.

Several summers ago, nine of my favorite women crowded into our den each Tuesday morning for our annual summer Bible study, and we did Mary Kassian’s Conversation Peace. If you clicked on the link, do not be deceived by the whimsical, cartoonish member book. The study was brutal. And glorious. And for me, one of the most needed studies I’ve ever done. I still think about it years later.

On page 96 of my member book, I wrote myself a little note with an arrow pointing to a paragraph that impacted me: put on blog, I scribbled. Along with learning to hold my tongue, listen more, not exaggerate, and seventy-three other almost impossible tasks related to godly speech, I learned a lot about encouragement from this study.

With credit and admiration to Mary Kassian, here’s a little story quoted from Week Five of Conversation Peace:

His mother was not home, but the young boy wanted to draw, so he got out the bottles of ink and enlisted his sister as a model. The young artist made an inky mess of his hands, clothes, table, and floor. Just as he was finishing his work, his mother returned. For a moment, she stood in the door and silently took in the scene. Then, instead of scolding him, she picked up the portrait and declared, “What a beautiful picture of your sister!” and kissed him. Later in life, the great artist Benjamin West recounted, “With that kiss, I became a painter!”

Benjamin West was a prolific American painter who was born in Pennsylvania in 1738 and died in 1820. Here’s one of my favorite paintings of his, called, “The Incredulity of St. Thomas.”

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From John, chapter 20:

Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”  But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

In this amazing painting, without even being able to see Thomas’s face, we can tell what he was thinking, how suddenly everything had changed for him.

I can’t help but think about Benjamin West’s mother when I see his paintings, and the power her words had on her son.

I want so much to be a better encourager, and today I’m thankful for the opportunity to try.

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