In quietness and trust…

July 30, 2014 | My Jottings

I received a gift recently from someone I’ve never met in person. Her name is Peggy and apparently she reads my blog (hi Peggy!) because my dear friend Ginny told her about it. Last week Ginny and I attended our local community playhouse’s huge and celebrated production of Les Miserables, for two reasons: 1. I love Les Miserables and that book is in my top ten favorite, mind-blowing books, and 2. My daughter Carolyn was in the play and I love her and she is in my top four favorite, heart-holding people in the world. Possibly even the universe. What a play it was! I have had the privilege of seeing Les Mis at The Queen’s Theatre in London, and this one in our city was on par with the quality we saw in England.

Anyway, on the night Ginny picked me up for the play, she handed me a bag with a beautiful pillow cover in it, with a little note from Peggy. Peggy has known her share of heartache; sometimes I think those who have suffered know how to bless others in ways the rest of us are still learning. Peggy must have known from this post that I love cardinals, and here is a photo of the pillow cover. (I measured it and bought a pillow insert right away so I could use the pillow — it looks lovely in both our bedroom and living room.)

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It says, “His love is as gentle as freshly fallen snow, His joy is as lovely as winter’s glow, His peace is the quiet place our hearts can go.” And the scripture at the bottom of the pillow is “In quietness and trust is your strength…” Isaiah 30:15 (NIV).

I realize that cardinals are often thought of as winter birds and are used in a lot of Christmas decorations. And the snowflakes and the verse on this pillow make it seem like it should be a seasonal pillow, pulled out and displayed when the Christmas decorations go up.

But I’m going to keep it out all year long. We live in Minnesota and our winters are long. As a matter of fact, this last winter was one of the longest and snowiest our region has ever known. So when one lives in American Siberia, one can use winter decor all the live-long year if they want!

On another note, I have been trying for four weeks to write a post about the latest things that have happened in our lives. I am not sure why the words won’t come out as I would like. Someday soon I hope to share.

This scripture is so fitting for us right now — in quietness and trust (in the Lord and His ways) is our strength….

Thank you for this beautiful gift, dear Peggy…

God’s Agenda or My Agenda?

July 24, 2014 | My Jottings

My dear friend Kay is one of those people I’ve never met face to face, yet feel a bond with that only the Lord could have orchestrated. Many of you who read this blog regularly will have seen her gracious comments after some of my posts. Kay lives in Cornwall, England with her husband Alan. She’s an avid reader and such a great writer, I’ve encouraged her to start her own blog and told her I’d be her first subscriber. Kay may not be ready for that yet, but she has generously agreed to do a guest post here on my blog, and I know you’ll love what she’s going to share. I look forward to reading your comments in response to what God has laid on Kay’s heart….

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God’s Agenda or My Agenda? — by Kay Stevens

Have you ever heard anyone say that ‘Life is a funny old thing’? It may be an unknown phrase in the U.S., but I’ve heard it said quite a few times here in the U.K. Life is often unpredictable, challenging, surprising (sometimes shocking) and unfathomable. Christians are not exempt from these feelings. Sometimes people will say ‘Life is what you make it’. Well, I would like to argue that is not the right way for those who follow Christ.

I had had my life planned out for so long. Obviously I realized that unexpected things happen along the way, but I felt quite happy planning my future. This was way back when my children were small and I was still married to their father. Although I was a Christian, I tried very hard to be the one in control of my life. Life wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t particularly good either. I just trundled along, not growing in my Christian life at all. And then I came upon a big crossroads. It took me eighteen months to decide what to do and I’m ashamed to say I took that decision without turning to my God. I took a turning that led to sadness, loneliness and depression that lasted for eight years. During those long years I cried out to God for help and couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.  235527974_640

One day I went to my usual church house group meeting and the leader, Mary, gave everyone a small piece of broken pottery and she asked us to write on them something that we wanted to leave at Jesus’ feet. I thought for a moment and then wrote ‘Lack of hope for the future’. This was my honest, laid-bare feeling. Mary then glued the pieces to a wooden cross as a physical representation of what we had done spiritually. I then promptly forgot about this action.

A few weeks later after praying with friends, I was persuaded to register with an on-line dating site. It was a secular company but I made it clear on my profile that I was looking for other Christians.  The rest, as they say, is history. Within six months I had met and married my lovely husband, Alan, and we are now approaching our sixth wedding anniversary. Mary gave me the piece of pottery back and it is one of my most treasured possessions.

God had provided me with this wonderful, Christian husband at just the right time. I was devastated when three years later my beautiful daughter moved two hundred miles away when she got married. In my previous plans, I had always envisaged Louisa living close to home as an adult and that we would go out on shopping trips, cinema viewings and coffee mornings together. After just over two years of marriage, my son-in-law walked out on Louisa not once, but three times. This was something I had not planned for either. I expected Louisa would want to come home after this, but she is part of a church plant in her new home town and she is very happy there. When Louisa was first married I looked forward to loving her children – my much wanted grandchildren. But Louisa isn’t sure that is what God wants for her. But God’s provision of a loving, Christian husband blessed me so much. It also blessed Louisa, because she knows I am not lonely or sad anymore.

Last year Alan and I went on a short course named ‘The Course of Your Life’. The lessons were spread over a few weeks and they permanently altered my way of thinking. One of the sayings that we were told was, ‘Happy wife, happy life’! This was said as a joke, but not long ago I found a little laminated sign in a gift shop with these exact words displayed. The sign now hangs in our garden room.  Alan says that he appreciates the sign and the sentiment is very true!

But, much more importantly, I learnt about God’s agenda versus my own agenda. When I turned control of my life over to Him, life was still a succession of highs and lows. For example, Alan’s health has seriously deteriorated this year and I sometimes get tired coping. But I know that God’s Agenda will prove to be the best for both of us and He will continue to bless us.

So when seemingly unpleasant things happen unexpectedly, I try to remember to tell myself that this is all in God’s Agenda. Sometimes it’s hard to be patient when ‘storms’ happen in our lives. But during each storm I know that He is always with me and this certainty is my rock. I still flounder around at times until I remember and accept these truths. And then His calm surrounds and pervades me.

I pray that someone reading this will be encouraged to ‘Let go and let God’.

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Thank you Kay, for sharing part of your story with us! I can relate very closely to wanting to be in control of my life, and learning time and again how to trust God when that futile desire just doesn’t work. How about some of you who are reading today? How have you coped when your own agenda didn’t come to pass for your life, and God’s agenda changed things in ways you didn’t expect?

He giveth more grace….

July 21, 2014 | My Jottings

When I was in my mid-twenties, my pastor’s wife and dear friend Kim and I used to get together once in a while to exercise to Christian Music. The album we played was called Firm Believer. (Pause and solemnly think of that.)

The two women who did the album are named Bobbie Wolgemuth and Judy Moser. I was made aware of how things have gone in Bobbie Wolgemuth’s life recently, and this video is part of her story. I knew I henwanted to share it with you.

It made me want to learn more hymns than I already know. I’ve always felt like something deep and true and ancient was being done in my soul when I have the opportunity to sing some of the old hymns. “Be Thou My Vision” is one of my favorites, and when I sing it, it becomes the most intense prayer flowing from me to the Lord in melodic form. [And I'm also grateful that God is happy with joyful noise and doesn't require skilled singing... :)]

I think if you know anyone going through very difficult times, this short video of Bobbie and her husband sharing about how God has met and changed them in the midst of some pretty tragic circumstances, could really be a powerful encouragement.

God bless your week, friends.

Fondly,

He does all things well.

July 12, 2014 | My Jottings

I’m not sure why I love pictures and videos of animal parents and their babies, but I do. There’s something about seeing a first-time animal mama nurture her little one in ways no one but God could have taught her. You can call it instinct and it is, but God is the one who thought up instinct and puts it inside those animal moms and dads.

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You may have already seen these pictures, but if you haven’t I hope you enjoy them today. Please click here.

I was in a sinking mood a couple of hours ago and happened to peruse this site, and my eyes filled with tears of wonder and I whispered out loud, “Oh Lord, You do all things well!” I just sat for a while thinking about Him and how beautiful His creation and ways are, and how good He is, no matter what others and our circumstances may otherwise proclaim.

What was your favorite photograph? (I especially loved all the bears and the little baby fox….)

Seeing the delightful pictures of these incredible animals helped me to trust the Lord a little more fully today. I hope you are trusting Him too….

Need to laugh and ponder and rejoice?

July 8, 2014 | My Jottings

Happy Tuesday everyone. I have just a few minutes before the second part of the Breakfast Brigade begins, and I thought I’d recommend a book to you. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I’ve been reading Donald Miller. Years ago I read his Blue Like Jazz and loved it. Last week I finished A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and it made me think about my life in ways I never had before. And it gave me a dream I shared with the Lord and left in His hands for fulfillment, or not. If you haven’t read these books I think you should.

Spurred on by A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, I just ordered a used copy of Miller’s Searching For God Knows What, it conveniently arrived yesterday in the mail, and I’m already chuckling and feeling stirrings of correction and hope. This book will bring some smart humor, pondering and rejoicing your way. Anyone need some of those?

Friends, when I ask you if you need to laugh, I mean the kind of silent laughing that shakes the bed at night when you’re trying to keep quiet. The kind you can’t stop. (By the way, are you familiar with Paperbackswap? I’ve been trading in the books I don’t plan to keep for years, and receiving books I want to read in the mail in exchange. Check it out.)

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So here’s a quote from the book I thought I’d share (and the author is referring to Robert Tilton’s imposter ministry and Shirley MacLaine’s outrageous belief that she is God, as she has stated in one of her spiritual books and the subsequent made-for-TV-movie):

“If you ask me, the way to tell if a person knows God for real, I mean knows the real God, is that they will fear Him. They wouldn’t go around making absurd political assertions and drop God’s name like an ace card, and they wouldn’t be making absurd statements about how God wants you to be rich and how if you send in some money to the ministry God will bless you. And for that matter, they wouldn’t be standing on a beach shouting about how they are God, twirling around in the waves. It seems like, if you really knew the God who understands the physics of our existence, you would operate a little more cautiously, a little more compassionately, a little less like you are the center of the universe.”

I realize that the above quote probably didn’t make you chuckle, and it wasn’t meant to. It was just something I read last night in bed before I turned out the light, and it moved something deep in me and made me think that sometimes I trifle with the God of the universe, don’t love and respect Him as He deserves.

I will say more later but for now I must get dressed and prepare to welcome some of the dearest women I know into my home for our weekly summer Bible study. The kitchen isn’t clean, the chairs aren’t set out, and the coffee isn’t yet made.

Grace and peace to you all….

238 Years Old

July 4, 2014 | My Jottings

I’ve been teased over the years because the 4th of July is my least favorite holiday. “What are you going to do to celebrate the 4th, Mom?” Sharon will often jest. I’m not sure why, but fireworks and picnics have never been things that excited me. I’m really a dud on the 4th.

I am grateful to have been born and to live in this beautiful country. I want to be a more faithful pray-er for our leaders and citizens. And I always shed a few tears when I hear “God Bless America” being sung. But I also want to be more faithful as I pray for the world. There are so many all over this globe who need our prayers and God’s direction and reality in their lives. (Just as I desperately need the same.) It’s overwhelming to consider.

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But we won’t be oohing and aahing over our city’s fireworks show tonight — I’m pretty certain I’ll be asleep by 10:10 when they begin.

Whatever you do to celebrate the 4th (assuming you’re an American), I hope you have a fun, friendly, family, food-filled time.

Thank you for stopping by here….

One hour at a time, sweet Jesus…

June 27, 2014 | My Jottings

I keep wondering if I should put my blog into suspension until I’m not such a sniveler with a martyr complex, or if I should just keep unloading my spinning thoughts on it every once in a while as a sort of cathartic therapy. It helps me to write, but I’m quite aware that it isn’t always fun for others to read about someone else’s hard times again and again. For those who are hoping for upbeat posts and happy photos, I’m sorry.

I woke up this morning with a slightly bloody looking right eye, a strong headache, a constant rushing river sound in my ears, a swollen left hand, and a wooden neck. And that was after a decent night’s sleep. I have never had high blood pressure in my life but I wondered if mine was elevated. We used to have a stethoscope and sphygmomanometer because I used to monitor Michael’s borderline blood pressure, but Parkinson’s meds dramatically lower BP and he hasn’t needed medication for that in years. I donated the BP stuff when we downsized and moved to our current house. My dear friend Su and her husband Danny promptly brought their blood pressure monitor over and I was relieved and perplexed when my reading was around 108/70 numerous times. My sister in law asked if I had had a particularly high sodium meal the day before, and I had not. As the day has passed my eye looks better and my swelling has gone down. In fact, in this picture of my right eye, there’s almost no trace of the unnamed - Version 2 smear that colored my sclera this morning.

The first thing I thought when I woke up feeling so yucky was that the stress of being a caregiver had finally worked its way out, which is not a huge surprise, I guess. I have been well aware that there will be a limit to my ability to care for Michael as this relentless disease stalks his brain. I think I’m getting close to that point, and to even say those words makes me feel so unbearably sad and angry I don’t know how to put words to it. So I’ll write about that another time and move on to the rest of our day.

Even though it’s the end of June, the thermometer on our front deck never rose above 48 degrees today. The winds of the past several days have churned up the bottom of Lake Superior because today’s view is of a muddy looking lake rather than the majestic deep blue we usually see. We love the many moods of our big lake, though. Sitting at our dining room table and being able to see the water just a couple of blocks away always strikes me as such a gift.

When Michael’s home health aide Paul arrived today, I set out in our Highlander to have some time alone. I crave time by myself. These days my dear husband doesn’t even like me to leave the room. It’s like I’m his all in all, his security, his peace of mind. Sara told me recently that Michael isn’t really at rest until I come home, even though she is used to caring for him when I have appointments. If I need to put a load of laundry in, or clean the kitchen, I have to give him many reassurances that I won’t be gone long, in order for him to stay safely seated in his recliner. He is such a fall risk now, doubly so because he forgets he has walking trouble, and often tries to get up and walk without assistance. Like many PD patients, he has fallen, but thankfully without severe injury.

So late this afternoon I drove straight to the end of Park Point, a seven-mile long sand bar at the very southern tip of Lake Superior, parked the car by some water, reclined the seat and read for a while. I looked up now and then to watch a dozen greedy grackles feeding on something in a patch of park grass nearby. Have any of you read Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years? It was recommended to me a long while ago and I’ve downloaded it on my Kindle and have been reading a chapter or two every few days. On Park Point today while reading this book, I belly laughed out loud with my eyes squinched shut and my head thrown back. It felt so good. If you’ve read the book I’d love to know what your thoughts are.

After an hour I looked up the number to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, called them on my cell and placed a to-go order for dinner. Michael loves Spicy Beef Cashew, extra hot, I like Spicy Chicken Cashew, mild, and our Fosters love the Beef, Vegetables and Fried Potatoes. All with white rice of course, and the best spring rolls in the universe. I reluctantly left my peaceful place by the lake and drove toward the restaurant, but had to stop for some time as a string of cars got “bridged.” A 1000-foot ore boat was chugging into our port and it took about ten minutes before our Aerial lift bridge had risen to accommodate the massive vessel’s passing from lake to harbor side, then lowered to allow traffic to cross over again. After picking up our order I drove home, knowing that Paul had given Michael a shower, helped him brush his teeth and dress in the clean clothes I’d laid out, and would be chatting cheerfully to Michael about fishing, about his interest in the History Channel, or the long lines at the new Chipotle that just opened in our city today.

We all enjoyed a delicious dinner. When we were done I helped Michael walk from his dining room chair to his recliner, then headed back to our bedroom to change into one of my super comfy and warm plaid flannel nightgowns. The Minnesota Twins are playing the Texas Rangers as I type this, and Michael never misses a Twins game if he can help it. Edith snoozes in the plaid wingback chair and Mildred jerks in her sleep on the couch near me as she chases chipmunks in her doggie dreams. It’s raining outside now, and my thoughts turn toward those in the northern part of our state near the Canadian border, where they’ve been sandbagging to protect homes from floods for weeks. The news people say that if the 1-2 inches of forecasted rain really falls, then huge Rainy Lake will rise again and homes will be flooded.  :(

Tomorrow is our 33rd wedding anniversary. We don’t have anything special planned, but I know we will do some reminiscing. If Michael feels up to it and we can get him down the basement stairs and into the car in the garage, maybe we’ll take a little drive. Or even get ambitious or courageous enough to go out to lunch. Or we might stay home and watch an episode or two of Foyle’s War. I don’t like war and am not usually interested in movies or television shows about war, but I really like Michael Kitchen’s portrayal of laconic Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle. The show is extremely well done and is set and filmed in Hastings, England, where my friend-across-the-pond Penelope Wilcock lives with her family. I have a dream of visiting there someday.

In a few minutes I will wake up the schnoozing Schnauzers, put their no-bark collars on and send them outside for their last tinkle before bedtime. They will try to fib to me by coming back to the door without ever having gone into the yard, because they hate the rain so much. I will have to toddle out onto the front deck in my nightgown and say sternly, “GET out there and go potty! Go on!” and they will dejectedly obey, but they’ll look terribly forlorn when I let them back in and they shake the rain off their backs.

I will lock up the house, turn out the lights, help Michael get ready for bed, and then settle in beside him in our big bed to read as I listen to him quietly snore. I will reflect on the day, probably shed a few tears for all the ways I see I’m failing my husband as his suffering increases, and ask the Lord to forgive me and throw those sins of selfishness, self-pity and blindness from the East all the way to the West. I might play a few rounds of Words With Friends with Christy (a sister in law given to me by God), and Ginny (a long-time friend given to me by God), and Vicki (a new friend given to me by God and one who understands so much of what I’m walking through), and then I’ll turn out the light and be asleep myself within five minutes.

Tomorrow morning when the Lord brings the sun up at the edge of Lake Superior, I will look out our window at the glory and ask Him again to pour His love and patience and joy into me, this cracked and broken vessel that doesn’t seem to be able to contain very much. I will ask Him to help me pour His love out on my husband and give me strength for the day ahead.

And tonight, that’s about all I know.

Tears, travel and thankfulness

June 21, 2014 | My Jottings

I had leftover Mexican food for breakfast, and it was a great way to start the day. I prepared traditional breakfast fare for everyone else, but imagining the cheese enchilada and bit of rice and beans I was going to enjoy after serving everyone else was the second thing I did this morning.

The first thing I did was shed a few self-pitying tears that dripped down my chubby cheeks, ran into my ears and ended up on the pillow. The tears were prompted by this song. And by life too, I guess. Go ahead and click — it will open in a separate window and you can listen as you read. You might ask me — Julie, if these classic songs you’ve been listening to make you cry, why listen to them? And I would answer, I love the songs, and it doesn’t matter how they make me feel. I just love them.

Yesterday Michael’s home health aide Paul arrived at 3:30 for his weekly two hour shift. We have a nice woman named Liz who comes on Monday mornings, and for those two hours I am able to hole myself up in my office to catch up on Foster paperwork, write out bills, answer letters, return phone calls and read a few of my favorite blogs. On Fridays when Paul comes for his two hours, I usually leave to grocery shop or run other errands. Paul helps Michael shower, dress, fixes him a snack and keeps him company, and Michael really likes him. They have some things in common (both are former Marines, rock hounds/agate pickers, and avid fishermen.) Yesterday I had a little shopping to do, and then impulsively I decided to have an early dinner by myself at our favorite Mexican restaurant. I ordered food to take home for dinner with me, and Michael was pretty happy about his #8 combination meal.

A couple days ago Michael awakened from an afternoon nap and I laid down next to him for a few minutes. He grinned at me and I was struck again at how much I love his smile. I asked him, “What would you like me to do for you?” He thought about that for a bit and then whisper-answered, “Take me to Italy.” I could tell he was serious. I felt he was wanting to go on a trip while it’s still physically possible, although in my opinion that’s iffy.  There is no way I could take him unless we did some kind of accessible tour for older folks with wheelchairs. Everything would have to be planned for by other people, buses for wheelchairs would have to be the transports, and all hotels and tours would have to accommodate wheelchairs as well. I told him that a tour like that would probably be exhausting; he gets completely worn out if I have to take him in our car to the doctor. I honestly can’t picture a flight across the Atlantic, airport waits, bathroom hurdles, tour lines in Rome and Florence and Venice (do they even have wheelchair accessible gondolas?) without some kind of crisis.

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I know I sound whiny, but I even doubt my own ability to take Michael on a tour like this, even if all those things were provided. I am worn out. I think I could go to my beloved Pacem in Terris if given the opportunity, and sleep for a week. But since Michael asked, I’m thinking and praying. It could be something wonderful and miraculous, or it could be just a really bad idea. If I were choosing the destination of our imaginary trip, most of you who visit here regularly know it would be the UK.

Last Tuesday was the first week of the annual summer Bible study I host in my home. We are studying 1 and 2 Thessalonians. There’s a beautiful heart-knitting that takes place each summer, and I’m always a little bit in awe over how the Lord does that. I think there’s a common theme running through many of the twelve women’s lives this year — fear and loss. All of us have been Christians for years and years, and there isn’t a spring chicken among us. But here we are again at the feet of Jesus, asking Him to show us how to truly trust Him, live in His peace, and experience joy in the midst of these painful circumstances we find ourselves in.

Michael has been napping in his recliner next to me as I’ve been typing, and he’s now awake and needs some assistance. Later I will put a roast in the crockpot for our dinner tonight. Rosemary roasted red potatoes, spring greens for a salad, and sliced, lean tenderloin are all on the menu. Soon I will tell you about the lavish meals that two friends have brought to our home recently. And the generous check we got in the mail so we could order dinner out instead of my having to cook. Such burden lifters! I have been humbled and overwhelmed by the generosity and love of the people God has put in our lives.

I hope your weekend is either peaceful or fun or productive….whatever you need it to be to be blessed. I ask God to touch and bless every person reading these words.

In His grip,

Pardon me while I wax nostalgic…

June 16, 2014 | My Jottings

Sometimes I step back and take a look at the way things are, the way I am, the things that are happening to my husband, and I don’t recognize us. We had a couple of days recently that were so grim and ugly, I kept asking the Lord, what happened? how did I get like this? what in the world is going on here? and other possibly-not-productive questions.

I hesitate to come to this blog and write about negative things, but I’ve never tried to pretend that I have it all together here so I guess I won’t start now. I want to make my husband Michael feel like caring for him is the biggest blessing in my life. And deep down, I know there are hidden blessings to all difficult things the Lord allows which we entrust to Him. But the blessings in this case are hidden deeply. Buried down toward the core of the earth, I think. I’ve had a hard time finding them sometimes, even though I know they’re there. I feel tired, and old, and selfish.

Our youngest daughter Sara was looking through an old scrapbook over the weekend and when she was done I decided to page through as well. I came across this picture and stared at it for a while.

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In case you don’t recognize her, I almost didn’t either. It’s me, almost exactly 33 years ago, when I was 23 years old. It was early June of 1981 and some dear friends threw a surprise wedding shower/going away party for me. I showed up at a friend’s house thinking I was invited there for something else, and was so moved that they did this for me.

I noticed my Birkenstocks — they were my first pair. Navy blue suede and I wore them every day. I noticed that my jeans were pressed. All I have to say about that is hahahaha.

And I noticed of course that I was laughing. Hard. I can’t remember when I last had a good laugh like that, or had a merry heart.

I was so happy in this picture. I had met Michael only one time and was engaged to marry him in just a couple of weeks. If you’re new to this little blog and don’t know the story of how we were engaged before we ever met, you can read a short poetic version of what happened here.

I had given notice at my good job in Anaheim, California, and was getting ready to pack my things and move to Northeastern Minnesota with my two little girls, who were then four, and two and a half years old. I looked forward to the future with such gladness. I knew I was marrying someone special, and these three decades have done nothing but confirm that over and over and over. Michael is one of the most kind, forgiving, generous people I’ve ever known. In a world of rampant narcissism, selfies, self-promotion and entitlement, he stands out in the most beautiful ways. (He’s not perfect–I’m not saying that. Even now this disease has changed things in his personality that are so sad.)

I’m not the same person I was all those years ago either. But I keep reminding myself that I have the same God. He hasn’t changed, His love for us hasn’t changed, and He is not daunted by what has happened with us. I’ve said this until I sound like a broken record — how grateful I am that His mercies are new every morning.

“…even to your old age I am He,
    and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear;
    I will carry and will save.”

Isaiah 46:4

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I feel like I need to be carried, yes. And saved, day in and day out. I give thanks today that the Lord says He will carry me and save me.

Are you thankful that the Lord is carrying and saving you too?

Saturday Sixteen

June 7, 2014 | My Jottings

1. It’s raining today after a few days of beautiful sunshine. I woke up at 6:00 a.m. when Schnauzer Edith did her little dance at our bedroom door, telling me she needed to go outside. I got up and fed Edith and Mildred, put their anti-bark collars on them, put their don’t-run-away collars on them, let them outside, and then had to yell-whisper at Edith to actually go down the deck steps into the yard. She’s so prissy she would prefer not to get her feet wet. “Get out there!” I whispered loudly, and gestured toward the yard with as much authority as I could while wearing an old plaid nightgown and sporting a nice case of bedhead.

2.  My grandson Mr. McBoy is coming over this morning to visit with his Grandpa Michael while I go grocery shopping. Some things always on our list: Kombucha, Babybel cheese, and golden delicious apples.

3.  Sara planted our deck flower boxes last week, and I asked her to do something different. I wanted to try putting one color of different kinds of flowers in each of the three boxes, and we both love how it turned out. You can click to enlarge these if you like.

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3.  I’m reading this book and am expecting God to speak to me from its pages.

4.  While Mr. McBoy is here today I expect we will have a fun time playing with this toy.

5.  This summer I will be hosting our annual women’s Bible study in my home, and there will be twelve of us. We’ve been doing this over a decade now, and I’m not sure there’s ever been a time when so many of us have been in some kind of very serious life situation. Here’s what we’ll be studying for nine weeks.

6.  Our stinker Schnauzer Millie has a plastic cone on her head to prevent her from doing damage to the stitches she has in her upper eyelid. She had surgery last week to remove a skin tag which was scraping her cornea. Also, she had a mass growing in her lower gums near her back teeth and this had to be removed. The biopsy revealed that it’s a “benign cancer” called an epulis, and while it’s not terribly invasive or dangerous, it could grow back in a year or two. We’ll be doing gum checks around here now. The cone has humbled and quieted our little bad seed of a dog. I wonder if they make them for humans?

7.  Our daughter Carolyn and her husband Jeremy are expecting their fifth child this fall — such happy news! I look forward to meeting and smelling my new granddaughter, and have been frequently looking at her ultrasound profile, which of course is stunning.

8.  Next week will be the one year anniversary of my knee replacement surgery. What a life changer that was! It took away all the horrible grinding pain of standing and walking, and brought in its place intense stiffness and restricted bending. I wasn’t exactly expecting this, but the pain relief is such a blessing I’m gratefully living with the limitation.

9.  I’ve been listening to a set of CDs every day that remind me of my mother, who was a professional organist. Yesterday morning when this song came on, Michael and I sat at the breakfast table and gazed at the blue of Lake Superior while taking in this yearning song. It will open in a new window and you can finish listening to it as you read, if you like. :)

10.  A sure sign of summer is when I take our heavy black and cream toile comforter off the bed, wash it and put it away for a few months. I did that yesterday and brought out our lighter weight black and cream toile quilt and put that on our big bed.

11.  I have my hair highlighted twice a year. It’s pretty short (as you can see from any photos on this blog) so aside from those two visits to the salon, it’s pretty low maintenance. I noticed about two-three years ago that my natural color was getting a bit gray, especially around the temples. And there was about 20% gray elsewhere. I have always planned to stop highlighting my hair when it’s fully gray. Well. I have an appointment to have the highlights done next week, and because I don’t/can’t leave the house very much anymore, it has been several months since it’s been done. I also don’t look in the mirror much these days, so imagine my surprise when I finally looked at my roots the other day and saw that in six months’ time my hair has turned almost 100% iron gray. Sara said what I was thinking when she jokingly said to Michael, “Dad, you’ve turned Mom’s hair totally gray!”

12.  The Parkinson’s Disease that dictates so much of what we do each day is slowly advancing. I’ve learned that most people with PD who have a dementia component (which Michael does) have Lewy Body Dementia rather than Alzheimer’s. Michael has all the hallmarks of PD with LBD, and it is CRUEL. I remind him and my own self frequently that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even Parkinson’s.

13.  The seventh season of “Foyle’s War” has been released on Netflix, so I’ve been enjoying that in between the almost daily games of Michael’s dear Minnesota Twins. Do you have any movies or series you could recommend?

14.  We saw on the news yesterday that there’s still ice on Lake Superior, in June. An iceberg the size of a small car still floats somewhere near Wisconsin, and a few seagulls and two bald eagles have been sitting on it, somberly posing for boating photographers.

15.  I believe I’ll make tacos for dinner tonight. Home-fried corn tortillas, red and juicy chopped tomatoes, a little lime juice squeezed into the sour cream we spoon over the lean beef, all sounds good to me. If I were ambitious I’d make some pico de gallo too. Have you ever made it? It’s good on everything, and there’s a simple recipe here.

16.  They say daydreaming isn’t healthy, but I do it anyway. I’ve been dreaming of a remote cottage in the Highlands of Scotland, of a small crackling fire at my feet and a thick, transporting book in my hands. I’ve been dreaming of naps and slow walks near the shores of lonely lochs, of bagpipes and no clocks and no illness and no appointments and no hurt feelings and no tears, and of family wholeness and joy. I know that day is coming. I’m not sure if it will be on this earth, but I know it will be here someday.

What are your Saturday Sixteen? Or your Saturday three or seven or one?

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