Wednesday’s Word — Edition 137

January 3, 2018 | My Jottings

“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.

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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“Beyond Excited”

December 19, 2017 | My Jottings

My five year-old granddaughter Louisa has been wiggling a loose tooth for a long time, and has been anxiously waiting for it to come out. This is the first tooth she’s ever lost, and Sharon texted me with this picture yesterday and said Weezer was “beyond excited” to finally be able to put something under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy. (In case you didn’t know, the Tooth Fairy’s name is Fluora.)

This little grin made my day, and I thought you might like to see it too.

I always try to be done with my Christmas preparations by November 30th each year, so I can spend December quietly, gratefully and peacefully pondering what the birth of Jesus means in my life. This year I did not achieve all of that, and even today I was wrapping gifts and mailing things. I yearn for a Christmas season when purchased gifts are not part of the plan. I’m a terrible shopper and I don’t need anything myself, so each year can be a struggle.

Anyway, I hope your Christmas is blessed — may you have some joy, some peace, some love, some family, some friends, some food, some hope and some rest.

Thank you for reading,

Winter weather, where art thou?

November 28, 2017 | My Jottings

It’s hard to believe that on November 28th, the temperature was fifty degrees. Any snow we’ve had has melted, the frost is coming up out of the ground, and I’m still wearing my Birkenstocks. I remember Novembers of long ago, and it wasn’t unusual to have three feet of snow on the ground and sub-zero temps. No one is complaining, but everyone is commenting on how weird the weather is everywhere.

We are looking Christmas-y in our cozy home, in spite of the lack of winter weather. Sara gets the bug to decorate for Christmas right after Thanksgiving, and I thought I’d share a few pictures I took today with my phone.

Is there anything better than a tartan plaid throw on a neutral colored couch? Well, maybe a piece of See’s candy, or a trip to Switzerland, or a hug from a grandchild… but plaid throws are pretty high up on my list of wonderful things.

Our tree, full of more red this year than ever before:

We have three small hanging lights over our bar in the kitchen, and Sara ties ornaments to them every year:

This stocking, with my mother’s name on it (Virginia) is about 65 years old. I hope it passes down through many generations to remind our family of that woman who loved us so well:

Mendelssohn the Moose is sporting some jingle bells to keep his mood merry and bright. From what little I know about the moose population, they could use some help with this.

This red and blue plaid pillow was an early Christmas gift from Sara to me — she knows how my heart thrills to anything plaid:

And she has decked our deck flower boxes with fresh greens, birch twigs from Bruno, Minnesota, and huge plastic ornaments. These look stunning after it snows:

A reindeer (I’m assuming) and a cardinal, existing together quite peacefully on the handles of my kitchen hutch. The wool cardinal was a thoughtful gift from my friend from church, Julie:

Sara thought our plain mantel needed some over-the-top Christmas festooning this year — isn’t it pretty?

And a view from the front:

As I sit and type this at 4:00 p.m. on this Tuesday afternoon, I’m already in my nightgown. Community Bible Study was this morning, and what a joy and privilege it was to gather around a table with women young and old, and dig into even the book of Exodus! We find God’s beauty, compassion and mercy there, and He feeds us with His Word each week.

Once again, I have tried to write about the recent heaven-going of my tenth grandbaby Hannah Joy, and I just can’t seem to do it. I hope I’ll be able to share soon. As we sat around our Thanksgiving table last week and each commented on what we are grateful for, Hannah’s name was mentioned several times. She lived on this earth for less than two hours, yet her perfect life impacted our lives with such power and longing there aren’t really adequate words for it. She brought an exquisite beauty into our midst that has marked us forever. We are trusting Jesus with her now.

Aside from my regular foster care provider job which I have done in my home now for seventeen years, I have been busy with a new friendship. I’ve shared a little before about a man I met about a year and a half ago, in a grief support group for seniors who’ve lost spouses. A group of us have lunch together twice a month, and it has been a wonderful blessing to fellowship with people who truly understand this kind of loss. Mr. L. and I see each other two or three times a week, and since he lives a ways from me in a cabin he built in the woods, when he comes into town we tend to spend the day together.  We walk as much as we can, have Cobb salads for lunch at The Duluth Grill, take tea together while watching the shipping traffic on Lake Superior, and watch Doc Martin episodes on TV as the day draws to a close. Last week for the first time, it was too cold to walk in the cemetery as we usually do, so we drove to the mall and joined the early morning walkers there. They let the walkers in early before the mall opens, so we put in a couple of miles and I snapped this picture of Mr. L:

Other shocking things that have happened in the last months: my oldest grandson (age 15) is now 6′ 5″ tall. My oldest granddaughter (age 15) is now 5′ 11″ tall. I flew to Florida and spent a few days at Walt Disney World with my daughter Sharon and her family. I bought a new car. I have only read two books. And I am thinking about retirement.

One of the two books I’ve recently read is by Brennan Manning, recommended by my friend Ember, and it was a comfort to me. Click here to see. What are you reading that you could recommend?

Even though it’s still November, I’m hoping that your Christmas season is lean on the shopping and all the running about, and full of peaceful family times, quiet contemplation on the goodness of God, and heartfelt rejoicing that unto us a Savior is born. All my hope rests in that.

God bless and keep you all,


October 28, 2017 | My Jottings

My youngest grandchild Miriam turned three a couple of weeks ago, and we had a little party for her here. She is full of personality and is a total delight to her family. Even her older siblings think she’s adorable and love her so much. I’m grateful to see that.

Carolyn made a cake and brought it over, and we were all gathered around the table to sing our loud rendition of Happy Birthday to Miriam. She smiled, paused, stopped smiling, then slowly closed her eyes and pressed on the lids with her thumb and index finger, indicating that all that attention and focus on her was too much to bear. Like her older sister Clara, her portals are so wide open she just couldn’t take all that in at one time. She blew out her candles, happily opened her gifts, and apparently went off to play.

After everyone left and I was walking around the house picking up a little, I found this in my bathroom:

I have collected some stuffed birds over the years. You can press on the belly of each one and a real-life recording of that bird’s call or song plays. Clara is fifteen now, but I have memories of her lovingly brushing the red cardinal’s crest when she was three years old. She named him Calvin. There’s also Eddie the Eastern Bluebird, Clarence the Chickadee, and the unnamed Red-Winged Blackbird, Loon, and Goldfinch. Not pictured are a turkey, a Purple Martin, a robin, and a few others. All my grandchildren know where the birds are stored, in a drawer in my closet. Evidently Miriam decided to bring most of them out and line them up around (and in) the bath tub.

It made me laugh out loud to see this, and warmed my heart. I wondered why she placed the woodpecker on his back in the tub all alone? What was her bright little mind thinking as she arranged these birds around the bath?

This is the best example of a birdbath I’ve ever seen.

And in eyebrow news….

September 29, 2017 | My Jottings

I thought I’d pop in here today to share something a bit different. I’m getting ready to go out to dinner and a play at our community playhouse with a former neighbor of mine, but here’s a little something about eyebrows.



I have been noticing hubcaps and eyebrows since I was a little girl. Hubcaps probably don’t impact a person’s life very much, but eyebrows make a huge difference in the way a person looks, I think. As I’ve gotten older (in my 60s now), I’ve noticed that many women my age and older have some eyebrow issues.

I actually started to see some sparseness in my eyebrows when I was in my 50s, and did what most women do I guess…used an eyebrow pencil. The problem with this for me was that my natural brows are fairly flat and don’t have a very pronounced arch, so penciling in an arch was always a little outside my natural browline.

Couple sparse eyebrows with worsening vision that makes it next to impossible to see if you’re doing a decent job, and all of a sudden you’re an older woman who looks like this. Or this.

So after a lot of research and consideration, I decided to go to the only business in our town who specializes in microblading eyebrows. I didn’t want my eyebrows tattooed, because I didn’t want to make that commitment, plus I know two people who’ve done it, and their brows faded terribly. If you’re not familiar with microblading, click here and look at these before and after pictures! The trained, licensed technician measures your face and bone structure carefully and shows you the shape they will/could be, and then creates tiny semi-permanent hairstrokes over your own eyebrows that make it hard to tell they’re not really all your own.

So here’s a picture I took with my iPhone the day I had it done, so I could text my three daughters who were anxious to see the results.

The “hairs” toward the outside of my eye are not hairs at all, but tiny microbladed pigment lines that will last for about a year.

I don’t have to squint and haphazardly draw on my eyebrows anymore.

I would really recommend this to women who have thinning eyebrow issues. My daughter knows someone who lost her brows from cancer treatment, and decided to have microblading done. Her stunning results helped me decide to take the leap.

I realize with all that’s going on in the world this seems like such a vain and lightweight thing. I’m sorry if this rubs anyone the wrong way.

My mother-in-law used to say she felt naked if she went out of the house without her eyebrows drawn on. I don’t think I was quite to that point, but it is very nice to not have to think about eyebrows at all. Not that hubcaps or eyebrows have been given that much real estate in my brain, but you know what I mean….

Walking On

August 28, 2017 | My Jottings

I, who dearly love my quiet times and solitude, have had the busiest couple of months I’ve had in years. I have always guarded my calendar and intentionally kept days blank each week as much as possible, and that has changed quite a lot. I’m still processing the changes.

Along with a new friendship that feels like a part-time job in many ways, I am still struggling with how to put words to what our family experienced in early June. I want to do justice to the post I’ve started, when I share about my beloved tenth grandchild, Hannah Joy, who went to heaven ninety minutes after she was born. I have the most precious photos and feelings and yearnings I want to write about, but just haven’t been able to as of yet.

My daughter Carolyn, son-in-law Jeremy, and their family have walked through such a sorrow-filled time, and I have been humbled and grateful to see God’s faithfulness to them. Sometimes there are just no words, even for someone given to verbosity.

I have walked in the cemetery regularly this summer, and now the season is coming to a close and autumn is showing its welcome presence. We’ve had a muggy few months and I love the promise of dry air, crisp nights and blazing trees.

Here is the place I always park my car when I take my morning walks.

I’m not sure why dappled sunlight filtering through tree leaves moves me so much, but it always does. Even when I’m driving and I see this kind of light, I always notice and say aahhhh. Maybe I’m being taught that light shining through dark brings beauty. Jesus does that in our lives, doesn’t He?

We have a beautiful Lakewalk in our city that runs right along the shores of vast and breathtaking Lake Superior, and it’s about two stones’ throw from my house, but I don’t walk there nearly as much as I do in the cemetery where Michael’s body rests, where Hannah’s body rests, and where mine will rest someday. The Lakewalk is wonderful, but there are bikers, dogwalkers, skaters and joggers, and it can feel a bit traffic heavy. The cemetery is quiet, gorgeous, and soothing to me, and there are miles of paths. I usually walk 1.5 miles.

I love how from almost any place in the large cemetery, I can stop and turn toward one hill and pick out Michael’s headstone and grave. I didn’t plan it this way, but when I chose the spot for his (and eventually my) burial, I didn’t know that the light colored granite and the height of the site would make it stand out even from afar.

There are two large ponds there, with ducks and geese abounding. I’ve seen deer and foxes too. You can click to slightly enlarge this photo if you like — the arrow points to Michael’s headstone.

Now the maple trees are starting to show off, and the squirrels are more active, gathering their winter stores. I have two chipmunks who frequent my deck and probably live underneath it. I actually turned my furnace on for a little while last weekend, and the hints of fall and winter make me feel content. I’m much more of a turtleneck, SmartWool socks, simmering soup, fire in the hearth kind of person, than a gardening, shorts, picnic with potato salad sort.

Maybe someone will need to remind me of that when dark and treacherous January arrives, and there seems to be only eight hours of daylight and the furnace never goes off and the icicles hanging from the roof are five feet long and it’s sixteen below zero outside. I’ll probably be talking potato salad and flowers right around then. (But never shorts!)

Today I have a foster care provider meeting to attend, and later tonight I’ll be attending our first Community Bible Study leaders’ dinner. The CBS season begins next month and will go through May. This will be my twentieth year in CBS, and now seems like a good time to recommend it to you once again. There just might be a CBS class in your area, and you can check right here. From the drop-down menu, you can choose your state and see where the nearest CBS class is located. There are classes all over the world in over eighty countries, and if you’re outside of the US, check here.

I will be a Core Group Leader again this year, and I always look forward to receiving my core group list, to see who God has placed in my group for the next thirty weeks. I begin to pray for them right away, and ask God to prepare our hearts and minds to gather around our table with the feast that is God’s Word.

Young and old, unchurched and very churched, freely charismatic and deeply liturgical, the Lord always meets us when we open our Bibles and ask Him to be there with us, teaching us, correcting us, training us, encouraging us. The older I get the more acutely I see how much I need His power and mercy, and I always find it there in His Word.

Speaking of old…. I’m about to leave my fifties behind. That feels okay to me. From the vantage point of almost sixty years old, I turn to look behind me and see a lot of sorrow (much of it self-inflicted) and foolishness. What I see most clearly, however, is the patience and wonder and love of God. I pray that however long I live into my sixties, He will strengthen me to love Him more deeply, represent Him more accurately, and praise and thank Him as effortlessly as I draw breath.

A Segway Segue

July 10, 2017 | My Jottings

I haven’t posted in a while. I have a lot to write about, but there’s one important thing I need to share first, and I’m having a very hard time getting it all down in print. Our family has experienced a deep sorrow recently, and so far, the words just keep swirling around in my heart and mind and I can’t get them all out yet. I will though.

In the meantime, here is a lighthearted picture I love, taken last month. I took my two oldest grandchildren on a Segway tour in our city, and we had such a fun time. Clara and Cullen are both 15 now, and I hope I gave them a sweet memory.

I hope your summer is going well, and I thank you for stopping by my little place on the web.

Too much time on my hands?

June 1, 2017 | My Jottings

One of my sons-in-law helped me with a project recently, and as we passed my closet I showed him what I had recently done. Just on a quick whim, I hung my tops in colorful order. It took all of one minute.

When my son-in-law saw the rainbow, he raised his eyebrows, blinked a couple of times, smiled a little, and said, “You’ve got too much time on your hands.”

We laughed, but it’s not true. I have the same job, tasks, responsibilities I’ve always had, with the same 24 hours each day, but too much time? No.  🙂

If you were to take a look at my spice cabinet or my freezer or any number of other places in my home, you might think I needed some help. But for now, I’ve got my tops hung by color.

Do you have anything in your home creatively organized?

Random words about food and people

May 26, 2017 | My Jottings

Happy Friday to you! It’s a cloudy, drizzly day in Northeastern Minnesota, just perfect for puttering around in the house, playing some music in the background, and for a pot of soup. Fortunately, the soup is already done, because yesterday I made a huge pot of Chicken Tortilla Soup with all the fixings (grated Monterey Jack cheese, chopped fresh avocados, sour cream, strips of corn tortillas crisped up in a skillet with some coconut oil, chopped cilantro, and wedges of fresh lime).

I had four lovely women over for lunch, and our meal was simple: the aforementioned soup, and oatmeal cookies with fudge stripes on them for dessert. And coffee and ice water. The day was gorgeous with plenty of sun, and we enjoyed each others’ company and conversation for about two hours that literally flew by.

The week before, six friends from my senior grief support group came for lunch, and that was a grand time as well. Michael and I used to have people over for dinner on a regular basis before he got sick, and I have been out of the habit for years. Recently I wondered to myself what I have to offer in this part of my life, and the first thing that came to me was my house…my table…a few humble meals. To look across or around a table and see the lovely faces of people I care about — well, that is a rich gift. I don’t even try to make things perfect anymore. Not that they ever were — ha. Yesterday when one of the Sues here (there were three!) needed to use the bathroom, I directed her to the one off my bedroom and told her the main one hadn’t been cleaned. And I felt pretty darn okay about that. It must be that I’m getting old.

My oldest daughter Sharon recently had a milestone birthday, and my three girls and I went out to breakfast at one of our favorite places, The Duluth Grill. My new choice for breakfast is their Huevos Rancheros, and here’s a picture of it:

It’s a pile of textures and flavors and colorful deliciousness I think I’m going to try to recreate at home soon. Huevos are pretty basic, but The Grill drizzles something they call Mojo Sauce over it that takes eggs and potatoes and guac to the next level. I wish I knew how to make Mojo Sauce. Maybe it would help me get my mojo back. (That was a terrible joke.) I don’t know if I ever lost my mojo. Maybe I could tell you if I actually knew what mojo was.

Nothing makes me happier than all my daughters in my presence, and some laughter and ease between us all. I felt very grateful for the morning as we all said goodbye and went off to our own appointments and responsibilities. And I marveled that I am the mom of grown women, one of whom is in her forties now, and the other two not far behind. Whoa.

As usual, I’ve been walking in the cemetery a couple of times a week, and the Canada geese married couples have hatched their babies. There are downy yellow goslings in the ponds and on the hills, and it fills my heart with wonder and joy to watch them. The other day two vigilant parents bobbed their heads menacingly as I approached, warning me to not get too close. I stopped and watched the five babies about 15 feet from me, all eating grass like it was going to vanish in one hour if they didn’t devour it right then and there. The little peeps they make are like the sounds of heaven to me. Have you ever heard a Canada gosling peep? I think most of us recognize the deep honk of the parents, but the little peeps of the babies melt the heart.

It has been 837 days since Michael moved to heaven. He is doing just fine, I know. I wonder if there are geese in heaven? Or Huevos Rancheros? I know there is a big table in heaven, with a feast prepared for those who belong to Him. Sara and I talked about Michael this morning, speculating on what he might be doing. We know he’s worshiping the Lord, because he loved to do that on earth. Is there work to be done in heaven? If there is, we guessed that maybe Michael has been caring for birds and animals. He was sort of like a modern day Francis of Assisi who attracted birds and animals in an uncanny way. Sara also wondered (since Michael was a builder) if he would be allowed to work on my mansion (see John 14:2). I realize we really don’t know exactly how things are in heaven, but having my husband there makes it a place I want to ponder more than ever before.

My oldest grandson will be 15 years old tomorrow. This is where I stop typing, take off my glasses, hold my head in my hands and cry out, “Gaahhhh!” I can’t believe Mr. McBoy is almost 6′ 4″ tall and only has 3 more years before going off to college. I want him to be careful. I want him to study diligently. I want him to learn to joyfully serve others. I want him to experience how much God really loves Him. I want him to drive slowly, work hard, embrace humility, choose his relationships well, learn to pray, give thanks, have more foresight than teen boys are known for, respect his parents, be kind to his siblings, honor God, and always remember Who it is that gives him his very breath.

Mr. McBoy doesn’t know that we have a goofy birthday planned for him. I’m smiling this moment thinking about the look on his face as he opens the gifts we have for him. He has chosen The Duluth Grill for the family gathering, and I probably won’t have Huevos Rancheros. The Cobb Salad is my lunch or dinner choice there.

Well, I think this post has had an awful lot about food in it. I’ll try to write about inedible things next time.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend,

Two relaxing days

May 4, 2017 | My Jottings

I just got home from grocery shopping, and it’s so beautiful outside. It’s my definition of perfect weather — about sixty degrees, not humid, sunshiny, and an occasional faint breeze.

What is the weather where you are? If you could snap your fingers and make your own perfect weather, what would that look like for you? I know someone who functions best and is happiest when the temps are in the low nineties and the humidity is high. Every time I hear that I think I’m talking to an alien who can’t possibly have the same kind of human body the rest of us have… those kinds of conditions are at the bottom of my weather list.

I took this picture last week at the cemetery when I was walking. You can see that we don’t really have leaves yet, but there are little lime green buds popping out everywhere. I loved the bark on this tree, and the clinging lichen.

Yesterday I spent the day with a friend from the grief support group I attend. He has asked me to go out for a meal with him a couple of times now, and while this feels very strange, we’ve had nice times together. It feels unsettling because Michael is still in my blood and my mind and my heart, and will never not be. Ever.

My friend knows that I don’t ever want to get married again and am not looking for romance so we talk, walk, reminisce about our spouses, drive and listen to music, have lunch together, and occasionally text.

He lives an hour away from me in a log home in the woods, and he picked me up yesterday so we could take a drive up the north shore of Lake Superior, do a little light hiking near Gooseberry Falls, and then have a leisurely lunch together. The waterfalls were swollen from the snow melt, raging and breathtaking, and we sat on a bench and shared more of our stories with each other. His wife had lupus, cancer, and eventually dementia, which made the last ten years of their marriage arduous and sorrowful. He cared for her the whole time.

On the way home we stopped at this adorable place and we each selected a piece of freshly made candy to savor. I chose a caramel cream dipped in chocolate with a little sea salt sprinkled on top, he chose cashews dipped in dark chocolate.

It was a gift to appreciate the beauty of northern Minnesota in the spring, and I made a decision to try to walk more than I have been. Being outside is so healing, I know, but a woman who is a certified homebody and loves nesting and being cozy inside has to fight herself to get outside. Most of you probably don’t relate.

I’m getting ready to try a new recipe. It’s called African Peanut Soup, and if it’s as good as I’ve read, I’ll post a picture and share the recipe with you soon.

In closing, I think I’m past due for sending out a little gift like I used to do once in a while. It’s this CD, unopened, and it’s one of my favorites.

I’ll list three small grocery lists below, and you’ll have to guess which one is part of what I really bought today. For those who guess correctly, I’ll put your names in a hat and draw one name out at random, and then send you your CD in the mail!

Grocery List #1

Lemons and limes
Crunchy peanut butter
Extra lean ground beef
Grated cheddar cheese
Paper napkins
Box of barley

Grocery List #2

Old Home plain yogurt
Organic romaine lettuce
Unscented dryer sheets
Block of Monterey Jack cheese
Sweet potatoes
Organic chicken broth
Potato chips

Grocery List #3

Purple onions
Birthday card for grandson
Distilled water
Haagen-Dazs Peanut Butter and Chocolate ice cream
Deli shaved turkey
Triscuit crackers

I bought a lot of groceries today, much more than any of these lists, but only one of the lists has items that were in my cart. Go ahead and leave a comment below, and take a guess which is the accurate grocery list. I’ll wait a couple of days, then let you know who won.

I’m off to sink into my comfy overstuffed bedroom chair to do my CBS lesson now. Then I’ll change the furnace filter, pick up grandgirls from school, and get some dinner going. I’m so grateful for the occasional blank calendar day that allows me to renew and rest, and not have to go from one appointment to the next.

Who will win the music?

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