Lutsen Lupi-Soo

November 17, 2016 | My Jottings

My friend Denel flew in to Minnesota last Thursday for our latest Lupi-Soo Convention. There are only two people in attendance at the convention whenever it convenes — Denel and me. If you’re new here, we got the name for our occasional long-weekend gatherings by combining the first parts of our maiden names; thus, Lupiani and Sooter became Lupi-Soo. When we were ten we thought about opening The Lupi-Soo Girls Detective Agency but it never got off the ground. I can’t remember why — maybe we couldn’t get financing or something.

Denel and I met in Colorado for a long weekend once, and stayed in a cabin 9000 feet above sea level in the Rockies. Then we met in Seattle and stayed there and on Bainbridge Island. We went on a cruise to Alaska another time, and there have been some Lupi-Soo Conventions in Duluth, out of necessity.

This time, however, we headed north to Lutsen. It would be unfortunate if that tiny place on the North Shore of Lake Superior was pronounced as it looks phonetically. Instead, it’s pronounced LOOTS-en, for those of you trying to stay accurate. Denel and I stayed in a two bedroom log cabin right on the shore of the Lake, and it was heaven.

Here we are, 52 years into our friendship, the first day at the cabin, out on the deck.

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It was wonderful to drive along such scenery with no particular time commitments. We stopped for a late lunch in Beaver Bay at a great little spot called The Lemon Wolf Cafe. We listened to music and enjoyed some worship songs sung by Denel’s daughter Nicole. We arrived a bit early at the Lutsen Resort and were pleasantly surprised to find our cabin was ready, so we unloaded the car, surveyed the cabin with happy anticipation, and went out on the deck to exclaim about God’s creation. I’ve said this before, but I never get over how Lake Superior looks like the ocean. Awe-inspiring in all its moods.

We drove north to Grand Marais, MN and shopped for a few groceries at Gene’s Grocery store. We stopped into a little place called the Java Moose, where Denel had a deep chocolate coffee and I had a hot chai tea.

We decided that we would sleep in on Saturday and have breakfast at home before meandering back north for exploring.

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Friday night we ate at the resort’s dining room and I had Beef Wellington for the first time. Our table was the one in the picture above, set for two near the middle window and radiator, although it was dark when we ate. Denel had a salad and we split Swedish Creme for dessert. The outside temperatures were in the high forties and the winds were blustery, so we were looking forward to a fire in our wood stove when we returned to our cabin and put on our jammies. Try as we might, our fire would not stay lit, so we had to enlist some staff help and a young man arrived who blasted the kindling and wood with a blow torch.

Here’s a little video of Denel, the fire, some Van Morrison music, and part of our delightful home away from home.

Click here.

Denel’s room had two double beds, mine had one king bed, which was super comfortable.

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I tried to sleep in late since for a change I could, but I think my clock is permanently set from years of early rising, and I was up at dawn on Saturday, soaking in this gorgeousness:

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We did our Bible studies, oohed and aahed over the sunrise on the lake, and took our time before heading back into little Grand Marais for the day. I had hoped we could lunch at The Crooked Spoon Cafe, which has scrumptious food, but they were closed for the winter. I had hoped we could have a donut from The World’s Best Donuts (they are) but they were closed for the winter. Boo. So for lunch we ate at a rustic, lively restaurant called My Sister’s Place. Our food was fantastic. Denel had the Reuben sandwich with sweet potato fries, and I had the Twin Sisters cheeseburger with a half order of onion rings. We both ate from each other’s plates and agreed the food was moan-worthy. Here’s my friend looking like we both felt — so happy to be together.

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We left some stray fries/rings on our plates, but not many.

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On Saturday night after wandering around Grand Marais, browsing in the Lake Superior Trading Post and the quirky Ben Franklin store, we came home and watched a few episodes of a show I’d never seen, recommended by Denel’s daughter. Have any of you seen Parenthood? We were interested right away.

The Super Moon was shining down on the turbulent lake, and we went outside on the deck to praise the silvery beauty God allowed us to see. I can’t imagine anyone ever tiring of seeing the work of His hands.

Later the next day I took a panoramic picture with my iPhone, and this was the view from our cabin deck.

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We checked out of our cabin on Sunday morning, bought matching souvenir mugs from the gift shop so we’d drink our tea and coffee 1200 miles apart and still remember, and when we got close to Duluth we stopped at The New Scenic Cafe for lunch. The Scenic is the place for foodies, and for people who like their food to look artistic as well as to cause them to roll their eyes with every bite. I had to take a picture of the dessert we split: “Semolina Cake infused with orange blossom water honey, apricots, pistachios, cardamom ice cream and ginger fairy floss.” Oh my gosh. Such unexpected and delectable textures and tastes.

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Denel flew home on Monday and we each returned to our respective jobs. She’s a therapist in SoCal, I’m an adult foster provider in NoMin. Back to our paperwork, appointments, homes, dogs, adult children and grands, and in some ways, back to the sorrows we each face. But both of us know that our sorrows are in the hands of Jesus, and we both wait on Him to do whatever He’s going to do. We’re trusting Him with our hearts and with all those we love. And for the record, the Lord has piled our lives high with many joys, too.

Being together every year or two is a blessed respite. Denel and I reminisce, because our history together is so long. I knew her mom Millie when she (Millie) was younger than my own children are now! Gah. Denel and I cry together, pray together, laugh and sing and eat, and look forward to heaven together.

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And we know that if heaven happens to be a ways off, we can have the next best thing, and plan for another future Lupi-Soo Convention, where the two sole members will convene to revel in decades of friendship.

A Blessed Week

November 4, 2016 | My Jottings

Usually by this time of the year we have really cold weather, but today it was sixty degrees and I had to open windows in the house. I remember an early November years ago, right after I married Michael and moved to Minnesota, when there was already two feet of snow on the ground and the wind chills were below zero. No one is complaining about this late summery fall we’re having.

Last Saturday was the Community Bible Study Leaders Council Retreat, and it was a wonderful day. It’s never easy to tell how things go from the speaker’s perspective, but I had the most gracious, attentive, encouraging, welcoming audience, and they put me at ease immediately. I enjoyed being with everyone, our wonderful lunch provided by the Servants Team, and the beauty of the ankle-deep carpets of fallen leaves all around us at Covenant Park Bible Camp.

I spoke/shared for three sessions, and they were roughly divided into the topics of how the Ten Boom family were prepared, oppressed and released. How the first fifty-two years of Corrie’s life, she was being prepared for all that was to come, which was extraordinary. And how during her (and Betsie’s) time in the prisons Vucht, Scheveningen and the hellish Ravensbruck, they experienced oppression that’s hard to imagine. And then how they were all released, in varying ways, to their ministries. And I tried to show how we are all being prepared, oppressed (sometimes demonically, oftentimes just by difficult life circumstances) and released, usually simultaneously, all throughout our lives.

I am so grateful the Lord got me through the day, as I’ve never spoken at a retreat before. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in CBS, but I experienced His faithfulness and I praise Him for it. Truly, the Lord does use the most imperfect vessels, and I’m not just saying that to sound humble. It’s flabbergasting to me how He pours out His grace day after day on His undeserving children and we get to soak in that love and divine help.

The retreat was over around 2:00 p.m., and when I got home I unpacked all the things I had taken, and by 4:30 I was in my plaid flannel nightgown. I was in bed by 8:30, and I slept until just before 8:00 the next morning, which is unheard of for me. I guess I must have been a leetle bit tired.

Over the next few days I set to work on all the projects I’d let go by the wayside while I was preparing for the retreat, and it felt so good to make a rather large dent. Banking statement reconciled, foster care report written and sent out, phone calls to return, bills to pay, laundry to do. I love being a home keeper.

Tonight I’m going to my oldest grandson’s first high school choir concert. Mr. McBoy had to be talked into signing up for choir as his freshman elective, but he’s so glad he did. He loves choir and says he wants to take it for all four years of high school. He’s also going to open gym almost every evening because he wants to try out for the basketball team later this month. At age fourteen he is almost 6′ 2″, and wears a 13 1/2 shoe. I think it would be pretty great if he made the team; Mr. McBoy’s father played basketball in high school, and my dad was the basketball coach at my high school (Covina, CA) for over thirty years.

Today I heard about the new Netflix series “The Crown,” and it sounds like something I might like to watch. If I can stay awake tonight after Mr. McBoy’s concert, I might come home, sink into Michael’s leather recliner, and begin with episode one. img_3326-1

Earlier this afternoon I picked up Vivie and Audrey from school to give them a ride home, and since the cemetery is close by, of course I had to stop. I know I take a lot of pictures there, but today the sky was so beautiful I couldn’t resist.

I sat on a bench for a while and listened to the geese and ducks honk and quack, and I thought about how quickly 633 days has passed. If you had told me years ago that I would live that long without my beloved husband and experience times of joy and contentedness, I would have doubted that.

But God has helped me and comforted me in ways I can hardly express. I decided a long time ago that I would take up my husband’s mantle of praise after he flew to Heaven, and today I praise Him with my whole heart for seeing my through the most painful time of my life, and helping me set my eyes on Jesus.

I know there are hard times ahead, because that is life. But I hope I’ll remember how the Lord has taken me through so much, even since I was a very little girl, and He is teaching me to thank and praise Him no matter what.

Wednesday’s Word — Edition 132

November 2, 2016 | My Jottings

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“Look around and be distressed,
Look within and be depressed,
Look at Him, and be at rest.”

— Corrie ten Boom

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A Women’s Retreat and a Woman Retreats

October 28, 2016 | My Jottings

Happy Friday everyone!

I have been struggling working for weeks on three sessions for a Community Bible Study retreat that takes place tomorrow, about 40 miles south of Duluth. I’ll be speaking on the life of Corrie ten Boom, and how relevant her experiences are for us today, even though we’ll never suffer the atrocities she did. At least I hope not. You never know, with the current world events. We are only given this breath, so even presuming upon tomorrow isn’t wise, I know.

We have a few leaves left on our trees, but most of them are bare, and the cold and wind and grey skies definitely feel and look like we’re getting ready for November. I can’t believe Thanksgiving is next month! I don’t know whether to say “Yayyyy!” or “Gaahhh.” Maybe a little of both.

This morning I walked in the cemetery and carried the names of the women who’ll be attending tomorrow’s retreat with me. I hardly saw a soul there, so I prayed for each dear out loud, asking God to lead me in praying for each one. I am not one of those people like Corrie ten Boom who seem to hear the Lord’s voice so clearly, although I have had a few times in my life where I can see He was moving me to do or say something. It was easier to see in hindsight, though. Today, though, words came to me that I don’t think were mine, so I’m trusting that God has a touch for each woman there. We’ll have young, oldish-young, youngish-old, and old at the gathering, and our CBS Servants Team will be bringing crock-pot soups and bread for a delicious lunch. Is there anything better than homemade soup and bread when the weather turns chilly?

I was happy to be asked at first, but since I’ve never spoken at a retreat before, that happiness dwindled pretty quickly as I read and wrote, revised, prayed, chucked, cried, read, wrote, prayed, and tried to put something together that would minister to mature women, many who have walked with God for decades.

img_3287As I printed out the three sessions this afternoon, I had to try not to think about how so much of what I’m going to say is basic Christianity, and nothing anyone hasn’t heard before. I don’t know if it’s my aging brain or what, but I have never had to slog through such blankness and darkness as I wrote. I don’t assume it was all the enemy opposing me, although I don’t rule that out. I know he hates God’s Word and that’s what I’m going to talk about.

Now that I’m done and have revised and trimmed as best I could, I’m going to pack the car with all my “retreat paraphernalia.” CD player, CD, Bose speaker, iPhone with music on it for the Bose, books I’m quoting from, iPad with photos to share during the three sessions, my Bible, a little memento for each of the 40 women, two pairs of glasses, handouts, my notes, and more. I’ll be up early to get things settled here before I head out around 7:30 or so.

I am fervently asking the Lord to accomplish something lasting in all of us.

After the retreat is over, I will retreat to my haven-home, tend to a few foster paperwork piles, clean my office, balance my checkbook, and get some rest.

I have a few new books I can’t wait to read too. I’m going to start on A Soldier of the Great War next week. My dear friend Diane and I are going to read it and then meet in a few weeks to discuss it. Instead of a book club, we’ll be a Book Duo, which makes me smile. I also just received Ann Voskamp’s newest book called The Broken Way and hope to savor that as my Christmas/Advent read.

And in the best news ever, my cherished friend Denel is coming for a visit in a couple of weeks. (Click her name if you’d like to see our goofy girlhood photos.) She and I haven’t seen each other in a year, and she’s flying from SoCal to NoMin for a long weekend. I thought it would be nice to rent a cabin on Lake Superior together so part of her stay will be up the shore. This is one of the cabins. insidecabin

It’s such a gift to have a friendship that has lasted 52 years. We grew up knowing each others’ families, we took vacations together and went to the beach a hundred times, passed Nancy Drew books back and forth, and generally acted weird and laughed our heads off a lot of our childhoods.

I look forward to a crackling fire while the gales of November are blowing the Lake into a tempest right outside our cabin. As long as it’s a manageable tempest. I look forward to reading, catching up with Denel, driving into Grand Marais for lunch or dinner, listening to music together, and savoring that bond that we will always have.

Well, it’s time to start thinking about dinner here. I guess I’m all rambled out. Thank you for stopping in. If you feel like leaving a comment, I’d like to know what you’re reading. Or just share whatever you like. I’ll be happy to read.

Blessings,

Photo Potpourri

October 16, 2016 | My Jottings

Many of our leaves have fallen now and we are past peak, as they say around here when referring to our gorgeous autumn colors. There are still a few trees waiting for the next blustery day to help them let go of their leaves, so I took a couple of photos today at the cemetery.

Our old, beloved Schnauzer Edith died in July, and we decided to spread her ashes on Michael’s grave. We were waiting for a lovely Sunday to do it, and today was the day. Sara, I, and one of our Fosters had a little memorial graveside service for our pooch, thanking God that He dreamed up dogs, for giving us Edith and increasing our joy through her life, and for the thought that she is with Michael now.

Here are some shots looking toward Michael’s headstone (dates obscured because you know, weirdos lurk — you should see the spam this unknown little blog gets), and also from the headstone looking over the cemetery and one of its ponds. Aren’t the colors stunning? You can click to enlarge these if you like.

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And this tree was just begging to be noticed.

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Who would have ever thought that one of my happiest, most peaceful places would be a cemetery. Certainly not me.

And here is a recent picture of Miriam Loretta, my ninth grandbaby. She just turned two years old, and is the sweetest little girl!

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Lastly, I thought I’d share a picture I received by text last week from my dear friend Tauni in California. She and I have been friends since before Kindergarten. She has visited me in Minnesota twice, but she took this picture during her first trip in 1987. Michael was 38, I was 30, Sharon was 10, Carolyn was 8 and Sara was 5.

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Well, Sara is calling me to come watch something on TV about Hillsong NYC, so I guess I’ll make this short and wish you all a wonderful week!

Blessings,

Before the election

October 13, 2016 | My Jottings

I will be glad when the elections are over in a little more than three weeks, but I also know whoever is our next President, I will be deeply concerned.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are tightening their grips on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

Here are two articles which couldn’t state better how I’m feeling about things. Not that my opinion matters at all, but hey.

This one is so articulate and hits the nail on the head.

And this one is the best comfort I’ve read regarding this whole election issue in a long time.

Have a peaceful weekend,

On being stretched

October 12, 2016 | My Jottings

I’ve grown allergic to busyness in the last few years. Having a seriously ill husband who required some kind of care sometimes round the clock, made me crave quietude on the most visceral level. Then, when his cares were finally being done at a skilled nursing facility (Silver Bay Veterans Home), a new kind of stress set in. The crushing weight of trying to care for Michael at home while Parkinson’s and Lewy Body Dementia took firmer hold in his body was lifted, but now I carried a different burden: guilt and sorrow in such scraping depth I had no way of expressing it or dealing with it, except to weep and cry out to God every single day. And to be almost a bystander outside of my own mind as I constantly tried to figure out how I could bring him home and have it work this time, or how he could stay there and both of us not be losing our sanity.

So for one year after Michael’s death, I did as little as possible.

Perhaps no one else would have thought that. The house was still in order, laundry done, meals cooked, Community Bible Study attended, birthdays celebrated. With the help of my friend Carey, I even took my foster gals on a cruise to Alaska during this time, so I didn’t actually become a recluse. But whenever I could, I rested. I sat in my bedroom chair and thought. And cried. And read my Bible, and prayed as I could. I spent a lot of time writing in my gratitude journal. I sat in my living room recliner and watched TV, especially my favorite show, Life Today, with James and Betty Robison. I walked in the cemetery. Slowly. Breathing in the fresh air and intensely observing the beauty there.

I don’t know if that season is coming to a close or not. This year I have taken on a responsibility I take very seriously, a Core Leader at CBS. This means that on Monday mornings and Tuesday mornings I’m gone now. For those of you who work 40 hours or more outside the home I realize this sounds like nothing, but for me, after having felt hollowed out by Michael’s terrible and beautiful journey, this is a lot. Because I am still working in my home, providing foster care to two women with developmental disabilities, and all the paperwork that the state requires with that.

I also began the fall term at University for Seniors recently, and am taking one class — Great Books. It’s the continuation of the same class I took last spring. I haven’t loved the stories we’ve read so far, but I do learn when I go to the discussion group made up of around 25 people sitting around a large table.

So I’m feeling a bit stretched, and I’m still trying to figure out if this is a tiny waving red flag in my peripheral vision cautioning me to slow down, to restrain myself from jumping in with both feet, to intentionally keep taking time for healing and rest, or if feeling this way is a good and growing thing.

And, I have lost my brother Steve. He died alone, on October 1st. I cannot talk about it yet. I might someday.

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These are just ramblings. And this photo is just the view looking out of my living room window. In between the two neighbors’ houses across the street, I am blessed to see our inland sea, Lake Superior, every day.

I hope you are taking some time for yourself too, and resist busyness if you can.

God’s peace to you, dear family and friends,

Overflowing With Gratitude

October 2, 2016 | My Jottings

One of the joys of my life is to sit in my plaid bedroom chair in the mornings and write in my gratitude journal. I’m in the 6500s now, which for a glass-half-empty kind of gal, is truly miraculous. I spend a few minutes listing the things I’m grateful for, sometimes making them into a prayer, and then I put it aside and open my Bible. And/or do my CBS lesson, which is on Matthew this year and is blowing my mind.

When something in my life becomes difficult or painful, I still try to sit and write my thanks. I might write,

“#5903 – Thank you Lord, that you are with us today, and that no matter how things look, you are at work in ________’s life”

Or when I’m afraid I might write,

“#6228 – You hold the future, Lord. Thank you.”  Pretty simple, but very sincere.

I record all the time about how He has lavished such grace and beauty on my life.

“#5091 – Louisa’s eyes, Lord! Thank you! You have outdone yourself with her.”

Or “#6544 – Hot breakfast this morning while looking at Lake Superior.”

Or “#3120 – The way Millie’s stubbly tail wags – you made her Lord. Thank you!”

Or “#6539 – A text from Sue, Lord. Thank you for her life, please bless and help her.”

And “#4597 – Your promise in 1 John 1:9 that if I confess my sin to you, you will forgive and cleanse me.”

I thank Him for the big things, like His love, for Jesus’s willingness to die on the cross for MY lies, my cheats, my laziness, my pride, my anger, my lack of love. I hope I never get over that, that Jesus did this for me. And for you. I thank Him for prayer, that we have an audience with the King of the Universe at any moment, and don’t have to grovel and crawl to come to His throne of grace.

And I love to thank Him for little things, like a book in hand, the voice of a friend, the color of a pillow, clean water, dental floss, pain relief, handwriting, and more. And of course those are really big things too, when we think about it.

Do I ever despair and feel ungrateful? Yes! But I find that making myself sit down to write out my thanks to the Lord makes a difference. On good days, it brings me joy and strength. On bad days, it keeps me going.

Yesterday Sharon sent me some photos from the week of Michael’s dying that I had never seen. She’s a professional photographer, and she was cleaning out some space on her hard drive and came across the pictures she took 20 months ago, and she sent them all to me. I gasped when I saw the dozens of precious pictures of our family and friends as they all poured their love out on Michael and said goodbye to him in their own personal ways. I’ll be posting some of those photos now and then, even though a year and a half has passed now. Being without my beloved is still my reality every day, and even though the waves of grief are definitely coming with less frequency, when they do hit they take me under. Which is normal, I have learned.

So here is another thing for which I’m so thankful…

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The beautiful and heartbreaking memory of my oldest grandson climbing up into Michael’s hospital bed in our bedroom, two days before Michael flew to Jesus. Mr. McBoy’s love for his grandpa. And even though by this time Michael wasn’t able to speak or even open his eyes, I believe he heard and felt and knew. He heard our songs and prayers and our thousands of I-love-yous. He felt our hugs and kisses. He knew he was a deeply loved man. And he was secure in what was waiting for him on the other side of that deathbed.

I think I could fill up an entire journal about God’s mercy and faithfulness, just regarding Michael.

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude. Colossians 2:6-7 HCSB

Blessings,

Laughter and Longing

September 22, 2016 | My Jottings

Almost two weeks ago I took one of my fosters and three granddaughters to see Christian comedian Tim Hawkins in concert in Minneapolis. I’ve seen him three times now and he just keeps getting funnier and more worth seeing. He usually comes to Minnesota each fall, so I told my friend Su that she and her husband Danny should come down with us next year, because they like Tim too. I think spending an entire two hours laughing is time well spent. I honestly don’t see a lot on television or in the newspapers these days that make me want to bend over at the waist and howl with laughter.

We had premium seats, which meant that we were a little closer in the huge church to the stage. It was a packed house, but we got there a little early, and here’s a picture of my granddaughter Vivienne taking in the digital wizardry that’s part of the pre-show.

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I took the kids to IHOP the next morning where everyone ordered different kinds of pancakes (red velvet?) along with sausage or bacon, and then we made the drive home, singing off and on to “G.T. and the Halo Express” for most of the almost three hours until I dropped them all off.

I’m still walking (sometimes strolling is a better word, considering a recent mysterious injury in my left knee) in the cemetery a couple times a week, often with my friend Su. This is the time of year when it seems almost transcendent to be there. I walk through the quiet paths overhung by huge, old trees that are beginning to turn color, and the fall wind hints of winter as it blows through my hair and makes my eyes water. I see squirrels hurrying around with their winter preparations, and watch the geese eat the grass and squabble at each other before taking off in unison into the sky to go investigate the next pond over. At the cemetery and during this time of year, it almost seems like I can hear the whispers of heaven, but just not quite. Do I think this because my beloved’s body lies beneath the earth in this place? Is it because in a place of the dead I’m reminded that this earthly life is only a preview of what is to come? I don’t know how to put the right words to it, I only know that when I’m there in the cool mornings, it feels like the unseen veil between this life and the next gets thinner and thinner.

I’m often intrigued by the headstones, and I took a few pictures last week.

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Su and I walk by this grave all the time and it always makes me want to chuckle. I wonder if Mr. or Mrs. Terryberry ever got teased for their last name? Did kids do that sort of thing a century ago? Or was Terryberry a normal last name and it was no big deal? I wonder if there are any Terryberrys today? And could there possibly be a married couple out there somewhere named Barry and Terri Terryberry?

In July the fierce storm that ripped through our city and downed thousands of trees really hit the cemetery badly. There are scenes like this all over, even though the cleanup is still ongoing:

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And I can never resist taking some pictures of how gorgeous things get in our neck of the woods every late September:

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Are the leaf colors changing where you live? This is one of the things I love most about living in Minnesota.

I think Alma and Herbert Krause say it well:

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As I get older, Christ is my ever increasing hope too. When I am completely stuck day after day on what I’ll say at the women’s retreat in October, Christ is my hope. When my older grands are losing interest in being with their grandma (which I know is so normal), Christ is my hope. When relationship troubles baffle and depress me, Christ is my hope. When prayers seem to go unanswered, Christ is my hope. When some days seem full of promise and others seem interminably mundane, Christ is my hope. When our country is broiling in violence, Christ is my hope. When friendships founder, Christ is my hope. When Michael’s absence seems too much to survive, Christ is my hope.

I realize that might sound a bit one-dimensional and simplistic to some, but it’s the truth I cling to. And perhaps more accurately, I believe it is the truth that clings to me.

Wind chimes in early autumn

September 2, 2016 | My Jottings

Today feels like fall, even though astronomically it’s still summer. Last night was the first night in months that we’ve slept with our windows wide open instead of keeping the central air conditioner on. It was glorious. The sun is lower in the sky these days and the light coming in the windows has that tell-tale golden glow I love. Why, oh why, does autumn seem to last six weeks, and a Minnesota winter can sometimes last six months?

I attended a foster care meeting this morning, and since my original late morning/early afternoon plans were rescheduled, I came home to work on something quite daunting that I’m trying not to be daunted about.

I’ve been praying and reading, journaling and praying, avoiding prayer and study altogether, eating peanuts, studying hard and pleading-praying….all in preparation for my speaking at our local Community Bible Study retreat in October. I have never spoken at a retreat before. I really wonder how in the world I am going to teach on Corrie ten Boom’s life for three sessions to a group of very spiritually mature women. But I keep going back to the comforting knowledge that if God has something He would like to impart to these ones He loves so deeply, I can trust Him to help me know what that is. I do trust Him, I just don’t trust my own ears and heart and eyes to catch it all sometimes.

After some study time in my comfy plaid bedroom chair, I moved to my office to start pecking away at the thoughts and notes I have. I opened the sliding glass door in my office so I can hear the lovely deep wind chimes that hang on a bird feeder pole right outside, and I can also hear soft strains of Bob Bennett’s CD “Lord of the Past” playing in the dining room. Millie the Schnauzer is schnoozing on my bed, someone in the neighborhood is mowing their lawn for possibly the last time this year, and I have no idea what’s for dinner.

Here’s a distorted panoramic picture of what I see in my office right now. You can click to enlarge it if you’d like.

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I took my foster gals to the Minnesota State Fair a few days ago. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive south, and the fair is said to be one of the best in America. We spent the night in a hotel the night before, so we could arrive at the massive fairgrounds when the gates opened and before the heat became mean and punishing. I think my gals had a good time; one had never been to our famous fair before and the other hadn’t been in decades.

There are a zillion foods on a stick there. Corn on the cob, deep-fried Snickers candy bars, pork chops, peach-glazed pig cheeks, teriyaki chicken, stuffed Italian meatloaf, and cheesecake, to name a few. All on a stick. AZ-GizmosI had a Gizmo Sandwich because crazy food man Andrew Zimmern said it was the best sandwich of the fair, and it was pretty good. I also had some fresh squeezed lemonade.

Throughout the day, my fosters had mini-doughnuts, Gizmos, foot-long hot dogs, pork chops on a stick, cheese curds, cotton candy flavored blue ice cream (gah!), and more.

We walked what felt like seventeen miles in the sauna-like heat to the Pet Building on the f-a-a-a-r side of the fair, so we could pet the dogs of the day, which were Samoyeds, German Shepherds, and Schnauzers. My gals got their caricatures drawn, drove go-carts around a track while the theme song to “Happy Days” played, rode in round, twirling water rafts, went down the undulating giant slide, and bought shockingly priced souvenirs. We loved The Miracle of Birth Building, and were able to see chicks hatching, gently pet newborn pigs, sheep and goats, and stand around a huge pen full of straw while a poor, straining Holstein mama tried to bring her calf into the world with hundreds of people watching.

We spent five hours at the fair, and if my knees had been better behaved and the temperature not 90 degrees, we would have stayed longer. We ended up missing the sculptures of the State Fair Queen and her court 08_782874__10FAIR082214_30646457(sculpted out of huge blocks of butter), didn’t go to the building with the quilts and cakes, nor the one with the newest innovative household tools and gadgets. In the late 1990s I bought the best broom I’ve ever owned at the state fair. Had we stayed later we could have heard the Lovin’ Spoonful perform too, but when one is approaching sixty and has screaming knees, concessions must be made.

And we’ll be heading down to the Twin Cities again soon, to see our favorite comedian, Tim Hawkins. Michael and I have seen him before, and I’m taking my foster gals and three of my grandchildren this time. I so look forward to seeing Tim in concert. I don’t laugh at his jokes and antics merely because it’s a comedy show; I laugh because I can’t help myself. I think he’s hysterically funny, and I need the medicine that laughter is. If you’re not familiar with Tim Hawkins, here’s a link to initiate you.

Well, the wind chimes are still softly sounding outside my office here. The curtains are moving the slightest little bit with each whispering breeze that brings the lovely cool fall air into our home. There are a few leaves here and there that are turning orange.

I hope your Labor Day weekend is a peaceful one…

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