My Hope Lives On
August 8, 2016 | My Jottings
It seems to me people are looking for hope. But that’s nothing terribly new, is it? With all that’s going on in our country’s presidential campaigns, I’ve heard people say they’ve just lost hope. I am gravely concerned as well, but when I think of the word “hopeless” I think more of times when I’ve been torn apart by worries for my children. I guess I’m selfish in that way, being more concerned for my own than for my country as a whole. Or at least being more moved to pray for those I love than I am for those in positions over me.
I also remember how hopeless I felt trying to care for Michael as he slipped further away from me into Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s. Sometimes I feel despair about the struggles in my own life.
What is the main thing you might be feeling hopeless about?
I may not know what you’re wrestling with, and I might not even know who you are if you read here and don’t leave a comment. But I know there is hope for the one who places their trust in Jesus. No matter how long your situation has gone on, no matter how vehemently you’re being opposed, no matter how strong the addiction, how deep the depression…. I know there’s hope with God. And it doesn’t always matter that we don’t see anything happening. If we pray and trust Jesus, He promises that He is at work. And while we wait on Him, we encourage ourselves and others. And we declare His truths to ourselves.
I love this song by Andrew Peterson and thought I would share. There are a lot of people and situations that call us all to hopelessness these days, but the Lord isn’t one of them.
“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.”
I think this song will fill your soul with hope….
In His great hope,
August 3, 2016 | My Jottings
I woke up this morning five minutes before the alarm was set to go off at 5:43. I reached over in the semidark and patted Millie, who was sleeping curled up in a circle on Michael’s side of the bed. I don’t just spring out of bed anymore like I used to. My knees are stiff and seem to have little knives stuck in them, every tiny bone in my feet shows up for roll call (“Ten hut!”… “First metatarsal! Present – SIR!”… “Fifth metatarsal! Present – SIR!”… “Proximal phalanges! We’re all present – SIR!”… “Navicular bone! Present – SIR!!”) and my dry eyes do their own sort of complaining that I’m making them perform so early in the morning. You’ve heard the trendy phrases like “Hey girl, fifty is the new thirty!” or “Sixty is the new forty!” I’ll jump on that bandwagon and offer my version: “Baby, fifty-eight is the new seventy-six!” Because for about fifteen minutes each morning, I could swear that’s how old I am.
Yesterday was the eighth and final week of the summer Bible study that meets at my place each year. A group of the dearest women have been gracing my home for about thirteen years now, and we finished up our study of Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place with a simple luncheon. We watched the last segment of the movie, discussed the last of our questions from the final two chapters of the unforgettable, truly life-changing book, and joined around the table for Cobb Salad, Spicy Grape Pasta Salad, slightly dry Lemon Bundt Cake, hearty Dakota Bread, and strong, real Dutch coffee. It felt bittersweet to me, as endings always do.
Sara whipped up a little centerpiece for us (although I wish I had thought to take a photo when the table was set, or even better, when everyone was gathered around it), and I put a little Delft windmill there because the Ten Boom family was from Holland.
I have come to love and treasure these women and what they bring into my home and our group just by their very presence. When one had to miss because of a child’s wedding or a trip to Canada or due to illness, the void was felt, and we prayed for them and asked Jesus to fill in that gap and to draw them near, in a way. Deb, Kristi, Kay, Dawn, Connie, Laurel, Fiona, Sharla and Sue shared such deep, encouraging and enlightening answers from their study each week. It felt like a feast as we sat in my smallish living room on Tuesday mornings, partaking of the beauty the Lord opened our eyes to. I love how the Lord indwells His people, and that very life in them brings different gifts and manifestations of His love and wisdom and power in individual ways. So it feels a bit sad and empty when our study comes to an end each year.
Aren’t these little cardinal salt and pepper shakers lovely? A thoughtful gift from my friend Kristi.
After the last hug was exchanged yesterday and I began to slowly put things away, the phone rang. It was our local veterinary clinic, letting me know that Edith’s ashes were ready to be picked up. Ah. Evidence of another ending.
Sara and I still get teary-eyed when we talk about our faithful little Schnauzer who has been gone for almost two weeks now. How she showed her love and loyalty to our family every day for almost fifteen years. I wonder how many humans can make that claim? That without fail, without insult or injury, without neglect or carelessness, they have loved and been completely loyal to their family every single day of their lives? God really did a wonderful thing when He created dogs, I think. Without words, they teach us.
Aha! The title of my first book has just come to me…
With Woofs We Are Taught.
We are planning a little funeral ceremony for Edith soon. We will spread her ashes on Michael’s grave, which we all agree is the perfect place for them.
Millie continues to act very subdued as she seems to notice Edith’s absence. She has no one to dominate now, no one to be jealous of, so she’s acting like a good dog, something relatively new for her. We’ve called her The Bad Seed for years now. Perhaps soon that can change to The Mediocre Seed. 🙂
This morning as I was reading from John, chapter 8, and then writing out my praise, thanks and prayers to Jesus, I glanced over at my bed and had to smile at this sight. Millie’s little schnauzery eyebrows peeking just over the top of the covers as she was settling in for her morning nap. That’s an awwww moment, don’t you think?
Now I’m heading to the kitchen for round two of cleanup after the luncheon yesterday. A better woman would have gotten it all done in one day, but I did half yesterday and will finish up today. If you’re wondering why I’m taking so long, see the above reference to fifty-eight being the new seventy-six.
The photo below is part of my kitchen this morning, the remaining evidence of the yesterday’s joy. I like that thought, that a mess can remind us that blessings just occurred. I love to putter around my home, and don’t mind picking up at all. I’ll put on a CD I’ll feel like singing to, put on my Birkenstocks so all those little bones in my feet stop calling cadence, and bring some order to the place.
I’m so grateful that while we live inside of this thing called time and must see the end of people and beasts and things we love, there is a day coming when those who are in Christ will step outside of time and enter eternity. No more endings. No more goodbyes.
If any of you get weary of endings, here’s a beautiful verse from Jeremiah 31 to meditate on today:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.”
God’s love is everlasting. It will never end. And His faithfulness will continue forever, and ever, and ever…..
I thank Him for that!
I have more to share about some of the lights that went on when we studied The Hiding Place, but I’ll save that for later and get to work.
Happy Wednesday to you!
He preserves both man and beast
July 27, 2016 | My Jottings
This is a panoramic photo I took of my bedroom with my newer iPhone. It’s taken from the plaid, overstuffed chair I sit in to read and pray. It’s the view I have most days at some time or another.
Do you see the little furry beast on the bed? If you can’t quite make her out, click the photo to enlarge it. That’s Edith, our oldest schnauzer.
Edith’s earthly life came to an end last Saturday, and every single one of us is feeling her absence in huge ways. Sara and I were with her when the vet sent her flying off to Jesus and Daddy. (I know that animals don’t have souls like humans do, but there will be sheep, wolves, leopards, goats and lions in the hereafter, so I ask you — why not schnauzers? If you’d like the reference about this, it’s Isaiah 11:6).
My dear friend Pat comforted me with Psalm 36:6, which says,
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O Lord.
So until I know otherwise, I’m thinking that God loves His creation, and that we could see Edith again. Michael loved Edith so much he saw her in his Lewy Body Dementia hallucinations even when she wasn’t there with him. And Edith loved Michael so much she held quiet and faithful vigil under his hospital bed as he lay dying in February of 2015.
I was telling my daughter Carolyn that one of the ways I know life is so profound and powerful, so precious and to be vigilantly protected, is that even when the life of a small beast ends, that void is felt so deeply. It almost resounds. How could an 18 pound ailing dog leave such a hole in this house, our hearts, if there wasn’t some kind of beauty and very weighty value to her? I can’t explain it, but I can surely feel it.
Millie, Edith’s younger schnauzer sister, is really noticing that Edith isn’t here anymore. She is so subdued, tries to make eye contact with me all the time, and has her ears back, which always means she’s unsure.
Our fosters miss Edith. Our whole family misses what a patient, faithful pet she was for almost 15 years.
I had intended to dig a grave for Edith, but we’ve had some issues here in our beautiful city. A terrible storm tore through early Thursday morning, ripping thousands of trees from the ground and causing power outages that are still not all restored. And it was hot, hot, hot, while all this was going on. I was in no mood to try to dig a grave. So I reluctantly decided to have Edith cremated, and when her ashes are returned to us, we will hold a little ceremony and spread the ashes over Michael’s grave. That seems so appropriate.
As Millie looked at me longingly this morning, trembling a little, touching my leg with her paw as if to say, “What do we do now?” I thought to myself, another loss….. But losses only hurt when there’s great love. So for the great love I shared with Michael, for the great love I had for my little Edith, I give thanks to the Lord this day.
Wednesday’s Word — Edition 130
July 20, 2016 | My Jottings
“Every Monday I leave the routines of my daily work and hike along the streams and through the forests… The first hours of that walk are uneventful; I am tired, sluggish, inattentive. Then birdsong begins to penetrate my senses, and the play of light on oak leaves and asters catches my interest. In the forest of trees, one sycamore forces its solid rootedness on me, and then sends my eyes arcing across trajectories upwards and outwards. I have been walking these forest trails for years, but I am ever and again finding an insect that I have never seen before startling me with its combined aspects of ferocity and fragility. How many more are there to be found?
“A rock formation, absolutely new, thrusts millions of years of prehistory into my present. This creation is so complex, so intricate, so profuse with life and form and color and scent! And I walk through it deaf and dumb and blind, groping my way, stupidly absorbed in putting one foot in front of the other, seeing a mere fraction of what is there. The Monday walks wake me up, a little anyway, to what I miss in my sleepy routines. The wakefulness lasts, sometimes, through Thursday, occasionally all the way to Sunday. A friend calls these weekly rambles “Emmaus walks”: “And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.” (Luke 24:31.
Eugene H. Peterson, Reversed Thunder
Just for fun
July 18, 2016 | My Jottings
Sometimes the world news is too much. I want to keep informed and I have a strong desire to keep praying, but there are times when I click over to an online news site or turn on the nightly news, and I have to turn the TV off or click away within minutes. I feel helpless and sad and alarmed at what is happening in our country and world.
Yesterday was one of those days. I did all the things I normally do to keep things running as efficiently as possible in my home, and then for about two-three hours (off and on), I played with a new iPhone app someone told me about. It’s called Prisma. I have nothing uplifting or profound to share today, so I’ll post six of the photos Prisma altered from the one I chose. The original photo was from last December, when my three daughters and I went out to lunch and had our Christmas cookie exchange.
Some of the renderings on Prisma actually make your photos look like beautiful water color paintings and are framable, I think. Some make you look like a zombie. 🙂
Today I’ll be cleaning, baking, doing laundry, preparing for The Hiding Place study tomorrow, and going to my first Yoga class for ancient people in pain.
Praying God’s help and peace for every one,
July 14, 2016 | My Jottings
Our little Miniature German Schnauzers have kept us entertained for years, and we are pretty weirdly devoted to them. Edith and Mildred are like oil and water, however, and I wrote about how opposite their personalities are, here.
Now we are coming to the latter days of Edith’s life. She is approaching 15 years old, which in small dog years is almost 90. She doesn’t eat much and we try to hand feed her to make ourselves feel better. When she manages a few morsels we’re so happy. She is skin and bone, which doesn’t really show under her wild and ungroomed schnauzer hair. Schnauzers don’t have fur, which is why they’re a good choice for people with allergies.
Edith is also nearly deaf, and only hears the loudest of noises. Her cataracts are so cloudy we’re surprised she sees anything at all. In the dark she behaves like she can’t see one thing. Edith has had pancreatitis for years and we’ve fed her a low-fat prescription diet which can’t be very satisfying. Once in a while she can have some apple and carrots. Not long ago I hadn’t put on my thinking cap for the day and I spooned some leftover eggs in her bowl, which she devoured. Eggs have fat in them, and the rest of the day she was deathly ill, throwing up and shaking from pain, and the day after that she laid on her side in our living room in a semi-coma. As long as she was asleep, I was hopeful she would recover, and after 30 hours she did. I will not make the egg mistake again.
I watch her carefully for signs of pain, because I know she trusts me to take care of her, and as soon as I see suffering I will drive her to our veterinarian and say goodbye to her, which makes me cry to even consider. I know we are getting close to that day.
Because she’s an old lady dog, her bladder has shrunk to the size of a thimble, and she needs to be let out at least once during the dark of night. Sara and I take turns having Edith sleep on our beds, and if Edith lasts until 4:00 a.m. we think that’s so great and we croon and tell her how well she did, and what a good girl she is. After her middle-of-the-night potty run, she settles right back down for sleep until around 7:00 a.m.
A few mornings ago, Sara let Edith out, and thought it was odd that she didn’t return to the door like she always, always does. Sara went out to find her in the yard and Edith was gone. In her 90 doggy years, she has never wandered out of the yard one time. We have an electric dog fence and it took her one day to be trained on it. She has known the boundaries and stayed away from them, even when other passing dogs are on the front sidewalk barking at her. You can see her obeying that invisible fence even without the collar on. Sara came to my room, understandably distressed, to tell me about Edith, and we quickly dressed and drove off in separate cars to look for her. The rain was coming down in torrents, and thunder was booming and lightning blazing. There was no way to call Edith as we drove, because she wouldn’t have heard us. She wouldn’t have seen us either, since it was pitch black, pouring rain, and wherever she was, she was in unfamiliar territory. We knew she was scared and lost.
Sara and I criss-crossed the streets in our area for close to two hours, driving slowly, looking into yards, on front porches, under bushes, praying that Jesus would bring Edith back to us. I cried and cried, telling the Lord I didn’t want her end to be like this. I wanted her to be with us, held, petted, kissed, loved, when it was her time to go see Michael.
I needed to get home to get breakfasts and meds ready for my foster gals, so I left Sara to the search and came home so sad. After our gals were seen safely off to their respective jobs, I looked for a recent photo of Edith (who looks like Sesame Street Wolf when she hasn’t been groomed for months) and was just going to my office to put a lost ad on Craigslist, when the doorbell rang. The sun had started to come up but it was still darkish outside, and I opened the door to see a man in a camouflage military uniform, bicycle behind him, holding a drenched and whining and scruffy Edith in his arms. Thankfully both dogs have tags on their collars with their names and address and phone numbers. This 30ish blond man with the huge smile asked, “Is this your dog? I found her down on the trail.” I ugly cried and said, “We’ve been looking for her for hours! Thank you!” I took Edith into my arms and she whined in doggy relief. I gave the man a big hug and as he walked down the steps to ride and mounted his bike (he must have started out before the rain fell) he turned and asked, “What’s her name again?” When I told him, he smiled, waved, and rode off into the downpour.
I called Sara and told her, so she came happily home from her search, and we sat with Edith and dried her off as she whined and trembled in what was obvious relief.
And then? Aging, arthritic Edith Elaine Bubbleloo did the Bucking Bronco. It’s what she used to do when it was time to eat. She would excitedly jump around in a way that looked just like a rodeo horse, and we would always declare with our teeth gritted and our voices altered (because that’s what we do when we talk about our dogs), “Bucking Bronco…Edith is doing her Bucking Bronco dance! Oh, dear!” I wish you could see and hear how we say it, because it’s really quirky and alarming and strange, but we don’t mind. And Edith did the Bucking Bronco for about five minutes, as if to say, “I’m home, I’m home, I’m home!” It was a beautiful thing to see.
So now she’s back to sleeping about 22 hours per day, drinking well but hardly eating. And I am back to watching her carefully and wondering when the decision will have to be made.
Mildred is the dog we call The Bad Seed for various reasons, even though we love her too. But Edith has been loyal, obedient, adorable, and devoted to us her whole life. She even held vigil under Michael’s hospital bed for three days as he lay dying. Michael loved these doggies so much too.
I plan to share how things are going in our weekly study soon. We are being abundantly blessed by The Hiding Place, and the lively discussions are a delight to me.
Have a great weekend friends,
Peonies, Pasta and Perspective
July 4, 2016 | My Jottings
I found my wallet!
In my own home, amongst some piled, unfolded clothes.
I’m so glad I didn’t call the police and have the security cameras at the grocery store reviewed. I’m so glad no one stole it, as I was thoroughly convinced had happened.
I’m also a bit relieved that many of my friends have memory lapses too. (A good friend of mine came over last week and I asked her how her week had been. She paused, looked deep in thought regarding how to answer, and then said with a smile, “I don’t remember!”)
I recall why I had the wallet out in my bedroom now. Everything came back to me once I saw it all in context.
But considering how none of it came to mind while I was placing a lost and found Craigslist ad, texting a few friends to ask for prayer, looking through the nooks and crannies of my house, or lamenting the loss of precious photos, this is alarming.
My friend Ginny sent me a beautiful text about how she didn’t think this was just a senior moment, and she encouraged me to seek the Lord about what this was really all about. She believes this experience was meant to shift something in me and give me a better perspective on God’s heart toward lost people. I received her words, and will continue to pray expectantly about this.
The first piece of fruit from this reorientation might be a person who needs prayer. I went to Craigslist to delete my ad once I’d trumpeted my praise to God when I found my wallet, and there was a new ad for another lost wallet. It was posted by a young woman who lost her wallet near our public library, and she said much the same as I did — she didn’t care about the money, she just wanted the things in the wallet returned to her. She gave her name and cell phone number.
So I texted Alyssa and told her I’d seen her ad, gave her some of the details about my own “lost” wallet, told her my name and promised to pray for the return of her wallet. Immediately I had a sense that she needed prayer for more than that, and I put her name in my journal and will pray for Alyssa until the Lord no longer presses her name on my heart.
Today is the 4th of July, and I have sixteen things on my to-do list. That’s a little more than usual. Later this evening one of my fosters and I will be going to my dear friend Su’s house, to a potluck and fun fourth gathering. Su’s fosters and my fosters enjoy this get-together every year. I’m bringing a pasta salad and I’m trying something I’ve never made before. It’s called Tortellini and Asparagus Salad with Tomatoes and Pine Nuts. The pine nuts are toasted and there are ribbons of fresh basil and a homemade vinaigrette in the dish.
I also have laundry to do, a bird cage to clean, toilets to scrub and a foster report to complete. And because tomorrow is our fourth meeting for our Hiding Place study, I should probably do something with the crumbs on the table, the blades of grass from Millie’s paws on the couch, and the toothpaste blobs in the sink of our main floor bath.
Yesterday was such a gorgeous day in Northeastern Minnesota. As I was coming home from the store where I bought the ingredients for the tortellini salad, I decided to pull over and take a picture of the Sarah Bernhardt peonies in the front corner of our yard. Sara transplanted some peonies from our last house and they are gorgeous. I think the light pink ones look like a choir of flowers singing their hearts out to all passers-by. You can click to enlarge the photo if you like.
What do you usually do on the Fourth of July? I will be approaching slumberland when our city’s fireworks show begins right before 10:00 p.m. tonight. I’ll be able to hear the BOOMS from my house, but the memories of past years of those spectacular bursts of fizzling light will have to suffice for me.
Apparently I can remember all the fireworks, but not the wallets.
Have a safe and blessed holiday…
July 1, 2016 | My Jottings
“This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person he puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only he can see.” — Corrie ten Boom
Yesterday I had three of my nine grands with me for a few hours. Mrs. Nisky had a cello lesson, so we drove up just north of Duluth and dropped her off for that. Then Li’l Gleegirl and Louiser and I drove to one of the larger grocery stores called Super One. We picked up a watermelon, some bananas, organic half and half, lean ground beef, and a rotisserie chicken, among other things. They both sat in front of one of those shopping carts with a kiddie car attached to the front of it, and by the time we were halfway through the produce section I leaned down and whispered to them to please limit the beeping of the squeaky horns in the little pretend steering wheels to once every aisle or so. Shopping in a fairly crowded store while maneuvering the wide turns of a forty-foot long shopping cart with two little hands continuously sounding the beep-beep-beep-beep-beeps made me realize how very alive I am.
When we were ready to check out, I unloaded our groceries onto the conveyor belt, reached for my wallet in the depths of my Vera Bradley purse, and my heart sank. My wallet was gone. I knew right away it had been stolen. The reason I thought this was because everything to do with my purse is large and intentional. I always buy a big purse (usually a pretty Vera Bradley fabric tote) so I don’t have to rummage. I look at other women with these tiny little clutches only big enough for cash and credit cards and I think, “How can you possibly fit your computer in that?” My Macbook Air will fit in my purse, a large library book will easily fit, and the other things I carry are pretty well organized. The pens are together in one side pocket of the purse, my cell phone in another, and my lip glosses are kept in a zipped pouch that’s easy to find. My keys are on a huge jailer’s key ring and I have never lost them in my life.
I also like a large wallet, so I can fit every wallety thing in it — cash, credit cards, my driver’s license, rewards cards for Great Harvest Bread Company, Qdoba and Walgreen’s, band aids, pictures of my loved ones, etc. I can reach into my purse without looking and grab the large key ring or the large padded checkbook or the large pouch of lip gloss or the large book or the large wallet, and this system has served me well for years. I don’t lose things, I don’t rummage around in frustration, and I hardly ever have to give my purse or its contents a thought.
But sometimes intentional and organized women can be idiots.
Like when they’re shopping in a crowded grocery store with their granddaughters and they don’t zip the top of their well-considered and spacious purse. My wallet was at the bottom of my purse, so whoever decided to just slip their hand in yesterday saw the unzipped opportunity, watched me very carefully and did it within about 2.5 seconds. Thankfully the woman at the cash register let me write a check without showing ID.
We picked up Mrs. Nisky from her lesson and drove home. Of course I looked for the wallet at home, but I knew it had been with me, so looking in trash cans and in the garage and under paperwork was fruitless. I called Super One and nothing had been turned in.
I spent the next hour calling my credit card companies and canceling my cards, and I texted a few friends and asked them to pray. My prayer is that whoever stole the pretty padded blue and green wallet took the cash and then discarded the wallet in a public place. I’m hoping its bright colors will draw someone’s eyes to it, and they will find it and contact me from the information on my license. I want my pictures back.
I fretted quietly for about an hour, I really did. But then I thought of the quote above by Corrie ten Boom, and I decided to believe that my wallet was in God’s possession, no matter whose human hands it was in. I praised the Lord out loud while I was emptying the dishwasher, thanking Him that my checkbook wasn’t taken. I thanked Him for my grandchildren, for my home, for the things I still have. I asked Him to give me His perspective on this little tiny thing that had happened, and I think He began to do just that.
I started thinking about all the people I know who have lost things, or are lost themselves. And I was ashamed to realize once again that I don’t always pray for the most important things with the care, passion and focus I was feeling as I was praying about my wallet. Gahh.
So I prayed for my friend whose relationship with her daughter and grandchildren has literally been stolen from her. I prayed for my friend who has lost the marriage and family life she cherished. I prayed for my friend whose son has lost his way and isn’t reaching out to the hand Christ offers him. I prayed for my friend who lost her beloved husband this year, also to a disease caused by Agent Orange, like my Michael.
This morning I woke up and was thankful to tell the Lord again that I knew my wallet was in His control, and that I would wait on Him for it to be returned to me. Not the money, but the other contents, especially the pictures of my human treasures. I asked Him again to smite my soul so that I care about lost people like He does.
But I also remembered the parable Jesus told about the lost coin. Even though He was teaching people how wonderful it is when someone repents and turns to the Lord, I think He was also acknowledging how even a lost possession can bring distress, and interrupts everything in our lives until it’s found.
“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
— Luke 15:8-10 ESV
So when my wallet is returned to me, will you rejoice with me? Thank you! I think I heard a yes out there somewhere.
And until that happens, I will ask the Lord to give me His heart for things and people who need to be found and rejoiced over.
Is there someone or something lost to you? I will pray for you today, if you leave a comment. (You can remain anonymous when you leave a comment if you like too.)
A Hiding Place
June 30, 2016 | My Jottings
Every summer for the past 13 years I have hosted a women’s Bible Study in my home. I take that back…. there was one summer I just couldn’t get it together for 12 Tuesday meetings. It was when Michael’s Parkinson’s Disease really started to dominate our lives, and I was entering the stage of being perpetually overwhelmed. But somehow, by the grace of God, a group of dear friends have been meeting on Tuesday summer mornings now for a long time. It has become the highlight of my summers.
If you stop by here now and then you know that this summer we’re doing something different. Instead of the video-driven Beth Moore or Priscilla Shirer studies we’ve most often done, we are studying the book The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. And rather than make our Tuesday meetings a book club where we just discuss the chapters we’ve read the previous week, I wanted our group of ten women to have some homework to do.
So I put together a pseudo-workbook, and we have some questions to discuss when we meet. At the end of each meeting, we watch a 20 minute segment of the film by the same name. We have different prayer partners each week, and we lift our needs up to the Lord and ask Him to invade and change our lives for His purposes and our joy.
So far, even though what we’re doing is quite different, I like it. The Hiding Place speaks of several hiding places, the most renowned being the tiny spot behind a bedroom wall where Jews were hidden in the Ten Boom house in Haarlem, Holland during World War 2. Another hiding place often inferred is the place we are hidden in Christ when we give our lives to Him.
I think of my living room as another hiding place, where ten of us carve out two hours a week to come and seek the Lord and hope we’ll encounter Him in personal, lasting ways. So while my living room isn’t the Hiding Place, it’s a hiding place to me. I would guess that many of you have “hiding places” in your home and lives where you can go to meet with the Lord in prayer and to read His Word.
I bought a new iPhone recently after I’d been trying for a while to continue using my shattered old one, and I noticed that its camera has a panoramic feature. I finally tried it out, standing in each of the four corners of my living room. I was surprised at how well the pictures turned out, considering I just swiped the camera in a slow circle without paying much attention to how steady my hands were.
You can click to enlarge these if you like:
The wall color varies a little from shot to shot, depending on where the sunlight was coming in, I guess. I would call the paint color robin’s egg blue.
And on Tuesdays I bring in some dining room chairs wherever they fit, so we can sit in a circle for our time together.
Just a little more than a stone’s throw from that front window behind the two chairs, is beautiful and vast Lake Superior. I don’t take for granted that I get to look out on that blue treasure every single day.
And a lovely quilt has a spot of honor in the room, folded on the ottoman you see below. In the evenings, I use the quilt that my friend Helen made and sent to me from Switzerland, but I don’t put it on the back of the couch anymore when it’s not in use, because Millie liked it too much and I don’t want little Schnauzer paws to break the threads.
In the photo below, you can see into our dining room and beyond that, the kitchen. The paned doors right behind the blue floral chair lead to the front door of the house.
This is just one of countless hiding places the Lord has provided for His people. Most days I just think my smallish living room is a pleasant and comfortable place. On Tuesday mornings before Deb, Kristi, Kay, Dawn, Connie, Laurel, Fiona, Sharla and Sue arrive, a sense of awe and anticipation surrounds me, and I get down on my knees and ask God to come and be with us in whatever special ways we each so desperately need.
Have you read The Hiding Place yet?
And where is one of your “hiding places?”
June 23, 2016 | My Jottings
I’ve been thinking about the ways that God must have been pursuing me from the time I was a very little girl. What a comforting thought that is. When I have come to a time in my life when my company is not often sought out, it brings tears to my eyes to slowly scan back over my life and see that He wanted to make Himself known to me, and was scheduling divine appointments before I could even speak.
When I was born my parents and two older brothers lived on DeLay Avenue in Covina, California. We lived in that house until I was three years old. Our next door neighbor was a woman named Ruby Greener, and she was a Sunday School teacher at the First Baptist Church of Covina. My parents never told me this, but I believe she must have invited them to church. I know that Ruby used to chat with my mother over the wooden fence when they were in their back yards hanging laundry out to dry, and decades later Ruby told me that my mother confided many sad things to her. My parents never became regular attenders, but they began to take me to church every Sunday, from the time I was about two or three years old. Most Sundays my dad dropped me off, and then returned two hours later to pick me up and take me home. Living next door to Ruby Greener was a divine connection, I believe, a mercy of God who knew there was a little girl whose heart would begin to respond to Him at a young age. He knew what was ahead for me, and knew I would need Him early on.
If I keep the God lenses on as I look back, I can see many divine appointments in that church of my childhood. I remember Mrs. Greener leading a group of four year-olds in singing “This Little Light of Mine,” and how vigorously I whipped that “bushel” away from my finger posing as a candle. I can still recall the happy, curious feeling I had in those small, upstairs Sunday School rooms, and how much I looked forward to going each week.
I also remember Mrs. Celeste Klee, my fourth grade Sunday School teacher, and how our class of about ten children sat around a table with her, in an alcove off of a larger area with chairs and a piano. I recall how Mrs. Klee taught us many Bible stories, and how she patiently helped us memorize the 23rd Psalm that year. I can still see the two college-age sisters, Lois and Gayle Graves, lead the fourth, fifth and sixth graders in songs like “He Arose” and “He Lives,” which was one of my favorites. He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today… He walks with me and talks with me, along life’s narrow way… He lives, He lives, salvation to impart… You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart!
I will never forget the weekly welcome and beaming smiles of two Sunday School co-teachers when I was in fifth grade. Mrs. Edgar and Mrs. Mount, with their 1960s beehive hairdos, their two piece outfits just like these, their nylons and high heels, and their love. I can still see Mrs. Edgar telling our class what the word testify meant in regards to sharing what Jesus had done in our lives, and I wish I could find if she is still alive today, and contact her to tell her I listened, and to thank her for teaching us and loving us week after week.
I think about how God must have seen to it that my parents bought the house on Eckerman Avenue right behind Tauni Booth’s house in 1960. He must have guided the people who organized the classes each year at Workman Avenue Elementary School to make sure that Denel Lupiani and I were placed together in Mrs. Lokken’s second grade class in 1964. God knew that Tauni and Denel would be lifelong friends of mine, and that He would schedule decades of divine appointments for them too, and they would come to love Jesus.
I remember the day two little girls wandered shyly into my back yard in the NCO housing area of Beale AFB, where my husband Glenn was stationed. I was only 18 and a new bride, and they were 9 and 7 years old. Celeste and Kathleen introduced me to their mom and dad who lived one street over, and that friendship would eventually pave the way for me to be exactly where I am today, in Duluth, Minnesota, the still grieving but deeply grateful widow of Celeste and Kathleen’s older cousin Michael. I would never have thought that two sweet little girls at my back door would lead to friendship with their parents Frank and Yvonne, who were originally from Duluth, MN (which I’d never heard of), and that years down the road when my marriage suddenly ended in Germany, the wheels would begin to turn toward me receiving a letter from Yvonne’s nephew Michael, whom I married after one meeting. And that marriage turned into almost 34 years of love and grace and learning and challenge and blessing. When I connect the dots backwards, it’s mind-boggling.
Another divine appointment was when I met my friend Su. I have plans to share about her on the blog someday, and indeed I already started the post long ago. Little did I know that the spark of friendly connection we felt for one another in Southern California would turn into so much and last so long — forever friendship, her move to Minnesota years after mine, the ease of two who accept each other just as they are, the deaths of husbands, some beautiful travels together, and more.
I have another friend named Sue, and she’s another treasure I’ve begun a blog post about, but haven’t published yet. When I think of the almost casual way she and I met in church, yet consider how profound her godly influence has been on me, I shake my head. Sue told me about Community Bible Study over twenty years ago, and after dragging my heels a few years, I finally showed up at CBS one morning in September and registered. Nothing has ever shaped my spiritual walk like CBS. As the years of CBS blessing continued, so did our friendship, and Sue is someone I love and trust implicitly.
I picked up a local Christian newspaper years ago and read an interview about a woman I didn’t know, but I never forgot her name. Later when I heard that her husband had Parkinson’s Disease like Michael did, I kept getting nudged over and over for almost a year, call Vicki S….call Vicki S….call her. I tried to find her a few times but her number wasn’t listed, so I couldn’t even get her address. Finally one day I saw her email address in a group email we received from a Parkinson’s support group leader, and I emailed her and introduced myself. Picking up that article to read lead me to Vicki years later, who then informed me about medical insurance that was available for no cost to me because my husband was 100% disabled due to his service as a Marine in Vietnam. Even though Vicki’s friendship has blessed me relationally, knowing her has saved me literally thousands of dollars, and provided for me in a way that makes me want to bow my head and sob.
I could go on and on about the meanderings of my life that seemed like nothing at the time, but have turned out to bring about the richest gifts from God. Friendships. A faithful, loving husband. Another daughter. Fellowship around His Word. The daily awe of living a stone’s throw from Lake Superior. Provision.
A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life],
But the Lord directs his steps and establishes them.
Proverbs 16:9 –– Amplified Version
I can see that God has directed my steps, even when I had no idea it was happening. Even during some of the saddest, darkest times, I believe He was guiding me in spite of my oblivion. He is so merciful and powerful — He directs our steps even when we pay no attention to Him, so we’ll look back one day and be floored by His kindness and mercy.
Well, it’s time to do something about dinner on this beautiful Thursday evening.
How has God directed your steps? I hope you’ll be willing to share one or two examples with us….
Thank you for stopping by,