February 14, 2013 | My Jottings
I’m finally taking a few minutes to say hello to my dear (eleven) readers, update you about things around here, and share something from Scripture that spoke tenderly to my heart today.
We had a beautiful blizzard on Sunday. I say beautiful because we never lost power, and we were able to be safely tucked away in our warm home while the snow fell heavily for hours and piled up so high outside that the Schnauzers didn’t want to go potty. The drifts are above their backs, and they would prefer that this not be the case. I know that after Nemo hit, many in the East didn’t have the luxury of heat and water, so I don’t take that for granted. If you’re reading this and you were affected by that storm, I hope things are warm for you again and getting a little bit back to normal.
I finished this book a few days ago and as my sister-in-law Christy told me, it was a beautifully written work that was like nothing I’ve ever read. I purchased a copy for a friend, but she opted out when I told her how much animal trapping was in the book (because it’s set in 1920s Alaska), and I completely understood.
Michael and I visited Alaska in 1999 and were awe-struck by its raw beauty. He would have moved there I think, because it’s remote and breathtaking and one can live a fairly solitary life, but at this point in our journey a move to Alaska is not going to happen.
I have been half-contemplating other locations where we might retire, though. As much as we love Minnesota, the winters are getting eons long and the summers are growing hotter by the year. I think Asheville, North Carolina would be perfect for us, because it’s pretty, it’s not the hottest place on earth, and the winters are mild compared to northeastern Minnesota. Then visions of my daughters and grandchildren fill my mind and I realize I can’t leave them. I think they need me, for some reason, which is probably prideful thinking. Like I think I’m indispensable or something. Ha. And I also enjoy and am so grateful for the work I do here, so eventually thoughts of moving vanish like the steam that rises from my teacup that sits at my elbow just now.
I also finished this book a couple of days ago. Are you familiar with The Big Mama Blog? I enjoy Melanie’s humor and (perhaps oddly) the timing and meter of the words in her writing. She can take the most mundane topics and bring her readers to hysterical laughter on almost every page. If you know any young moms who need a bit of encouragement and a few chuckles mixed in with the inevitable tears that accompany child-rearing, this would make a good gift. As a matter of fact, I think it would make a great baby shower gift, because the book is really about how motherhood changes your life, changes you.
And how did Lent sneak up on me this year? It seems like I just took my iPad out of my underwear drawer a couple of months ago when I gave it up for last year’s Lenten season.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not Catholic or Episcopalian (or Methodist or Presbyterian or Baptist or Quaker or Lutheran or Apostolic or EV Free or Church of Christ or Nazarene, so what the heck am I, then?! — perhaps I’m a Bapticostal or a Presbypalian) so observing Lent was never part of my growing up years. (Although I did grow up in a beloved SoCal Baptist church, so I guess I have some denominational roots after all.)
But I long to learn more about observing some of these traditions, because anything that ropes me in, sets me down and helps me focus on the Lord instead of on myself is a good thing. One year for Lent I gave up reading any kind of books. Last year I gave up my iPad. These were things that seemed costly to me, which is what I think the practice should be — not because God wants me to pay this huge price, but because I want to deny myself for a change, and take some more time than I usually do to be with Him, and not live so indulgently. I will probably never say I’m going to give up chocolate or cheese or wheat, because I want to actually succeed at my Lenten observances, not fail on Day One.
I’ve decided this year that I will give up my own morning agenda for Lent, which means I’m going to have a time of prayer and Bible reading every single morning after our gals have breakfast and head off to work. I usually do fit in these quiet times during the week more often than not and am always so blessed and strengthened by them, but “fit in” is the telling phrase here, isn’t it? I am not happy that I’m “fitting in” my time with the Lord when He really is my source of everything.
I like to have a dated, daily Lenten devotional at this time too, so I bought this one after reading someone’s recommendation.
Have you ever read anything by Walter Wangerin? I highly recommend him. The Book of the Dun Cow was stunning and unforgettable, and his Paul: A Novel was brilliant.
Do you observe Lent? If so, how? And do you have any favorite Lenten readings or books? I’d love to know, if you’d be so kind to share about them by leaving a comment below.
And right now I’m also reading a book by Jim Wight, who is the son of Alf Wight, the Yorkshire veterinarian who wrote the incredibly successful and much loved All Creatures Great and Small series under the pseudonym James Herriot.
Michael still loves for me to pick up a Herriot book and one of the chapters out loud to him. He especially enjoys and remembers the chapter about James’s near-fatal incident with an angry, massive bull’s first experience with A. I. (Artificial Insemination); I know without a shadow of a doubt that I could read that chapter to Michael right now and he would laugh so hard the couch would shake.
And this brings me to some daydreaming I’ve been doing lately, even though I’ve never been much of a daydreamer. Most people who know me might say I’m practical, fairly decisive and live in the present, for the most part. But truth be told, I’m longing for Scotland. Michael and I have only visited one time, yet we loved it so much we vowed we’d return if ever we could. I’ve been thinking about how wonderful it would be to visit Scotland again, which felt like my true home. If Asheville, North Carolina didn’t work out, we could crate up Edith and Mildred and go north to the Scottish Highlands to spend the rest of our earthly lives in a place like this.
Can’t you just picture Michael and me living in this cottage on Canna Island in Scotland? It’s the perfect name for our locale, because I’ve been saying for years now, “I canna do this anymore…I canna tackle one more pile of paperwork…I canna cook another meal….I just canna!”
Of course if we lived on Canna Island I guess eating would still be part of the life plan, and I would be willing to compromise and think about fixing some food now and then if I just didn’t have to look at the Paperwork Alps anymore.
But I digress, and it sounds like I’m getting whiny, which I’m not.
And while I’m talking about dreaming of another place, Yorkshire has been there in the clouds of my musings too. We loved Yorkshire. We stayed at this place when we visited there, and we wandered through York and Thirsk, drove the country roads in our rented Vauxhall Vectra, and wished we could have stayed longer than three days. There was so much to see and experience but we had reservations to see Les Miserables in London, and had to move on. If we ever return to England, we would like to see the York Minster again, but for an actual service or two instead of just a tour (which was wonderful enough!).
Now, should I dare share another daydream? I’ve been thinking about painting our kitchen cabinets. I haven’t decided if I will yet, because I said I was going to live with what we have and make no further changes in this new house. Well. I would sort of like to paint the bottom cabinets dark green, and the upper cabinets a creamy, warmish white.
If you can’t remember what our modern, cherry cabinets look like, here’s a link to a post I published when we first moved into this house seven months ago. The post was about painting our lime green fireplace (we painted it dark red) but you can see the cabinets in some of the photos if you’re interested. You may be able to see they have an orange-ish hue to them. And we have black granite counters and stainless appliances, which are also very modern looking, a stretch for someone drawn to traditional everything.
So I went looking online to see if I could find any photos of kitchens with black counter tops, green lower cabinets, and creamy white upper cabinets. I like this kitchen below, and am trying to envision how this combination might look in our space. The colors would certainly be fine with the other jewel tones in the house, I’m just not sure about the cabinets themselves.
Lastly, I wanted to share something I read from the book of Ephesians this morning. In Community Bible Study we just finished our 18 week study in the gospel of Mark and are now beginning our 12 weeks in Ephesians. As I sat in my plaid comfy chair and gazed occasionally out on Lake Superior and the ice that has formed on its surface, I pondered these verses from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, and to us:
“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.” (The Message Bible)
I don’t know about any of you, but I needed reminding today that Christ’s love for me has extravagant dimensions. I needed the heartening news that God will infuse me with a glorious inner strength. And that He invites me to experience the breadth, length, depths and heights of His love for me. And his love for you is the same — beyond measuring, never failing, always faithful, and forever with your best in His mind!
Lord Jesus, I confess that I can be very self-focused and tunnel-visioned. Sometimes when it seems like I’m waiting forever or in vain for your answers to my deepest prayers, I feel like I lose strength. And I think sometimes I actually forget about your love for me. Thank you for this gift from your Word today, and how you always turn my face and my eyes and my heart back to you. Thank you that I don’t have to measure up, but that you reach down. I praise you Lord, that I don’t have to fix myself or put my pieces back together, and that you do that, day by day, as I walk with you. And Lord, I lift up to you every person reading these words. Plant his/her feet firmly on your love, help him/her open the door and invite you in, whether it’s the first time ever, the millionth time, or just the first time in a long time. Teach us what it means to truly follow you. Help us all to experience your great love. Amen!
May your week be blessed, dear family and friends…..thank you again for stopping by,