Four guesses…

February 27, 2010 | My Jottings

Can you guess who’s coming over to our house tonight?


I like to be prepared.

TP on the table

February 26, 2010 | My Jottings

My church has a wonderful group of women who like to get together for dinner once in a while, and sometimes they pick a restaurant and meet there. A couple of times they’ve met at my house, and not long ago we gathered again, and each woman brought something Italian to share, and two rolls of toilet paper.

The food was moan-worthy — Jeri Anne’s homemade Fettuccine Alfredo served over cheese-stuffed tortellini, Carol’s delectable spaghetti and sausage that everyone wanted the recipe for, Betty’s perfect panna cotta for dessert, and more — the table was loaded up with hearty fare that night, plus a few other things.

For starters, the table was adorned with beautiful flowers. My daughter Sara, a gifted floral designer, made a unique centerpiece for us to enjoy. Along with the roses you might be able to see the Scottish heather, the grapes, and the lemon. While our mouths feasted, so did our eyes. You can click on the photos to enlarge them.

Some of you may remember the last time I put up a post about getting together with women from my church for a Mexican dinner. If you didn’t happen see it, you can click here to read about what a disturbed fun and creative group we are. Because of what transpired on that night, we had a delightful continuation at this Italian night.

Our talented and much-loved friend Darlene was given a little book on toilet paper origami by our other talented and much-loved friend Carol. Darlene taught a mini community education class in my kitchen, on how to fold your toilet paper so that when people come to your house, use the bathroom and reach for the roll, they become completely confused and wonder what in the world they should do, and decide never to return to your house again. Here is Darlene (and I wish I had taken more than one photo to show her with eyes opened) getting us started on Toilet Paper Folding 202. Notice that all the dishes from our delicious Italian meal have been cleared away, and several rolls of toilet paper are now sitting on the table. When was the last time you experienced that in your lifetime?

Here are a some of the gals, on their first tries to make The Braid on their TP rolls. From left to right: Darlene, Kim, Carol, Betty and Jeri Anne.

And here’s a shot of another smaller floral design Sara made – she thought the citrus fruit and lemon leaves lent itself to a Tuscan look, appropriate to our evening.  🙂

Back to the table. L-R, Kim, Carol, Betty, Sara and Jeri displaying The Braid on their own personal rolls of TP.

Sara and Jeri Anne nicely demonstrating how The Braid can be made either thick or thin, depending on the degree of impact you would like to have on your guests.

Here’s our lovely Kim showing her TP effort, which evoked laughs all around when we pictured what her husband Rob (our pastor) would do when he found this in his bathroom at home.

And here is my humble attempt at The Braid, which sits on the cabinet in our downstairs bathroom, with a pink ribbon and a few eucalyptus leaves for good measure. I’m not ready to actually hang it on the wall yet.

For me, it’s still a reminder of that February night when a group of fun and loving women graced my house with good food, deep and honest sharing, and laughter that was like a medicine.


Four word movie review

February 25, 2010 | My Jottings

Saw Avatar. Hated it.

Edition 33-Wednesday’s Word

February 24, 2010 | My Jottings

The Christian way is different: harder, and easier.  Christ says, “Give me all.  I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work:  I want you.  No half-measures are any good.  I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down…hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit.  I will give you a new self instead.  I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”

C.S. Lewis, from The Joyful Christian

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Seventeen years

February 23, 2010 | My Jottings

I have now lived seventeen years without a mama. My mother, Virginia Sooter, died on February 23, 1993.

I’ve tried to write about her on this blog several times, only to set my attempts aside for another time. Writing about my mom opens up things in my memory that could come out as thousands and thousands of words. I never quite know where to start in telling people about my beloved mom. I will share about her more in-depth in the near future, but for today, I want to write a few words and phrases that described her.

Beautiful. Warm. Musically gifted. Generous. Worry-wart. Plump. Melancholic. Humble. Loving. Witty. Creative. Sensitive. Self-conscious. Hardworking.

She was a good sport and could laugh at herself. She could listen to a song once, move to her Hammond B-3 organ and play it perfectly, in any key. She had over a hundred friends, making them all feel like they were her best friend. And she probably didn’t know she did this. She had a hearty laugh. She was really tall, and had very long legs and a short torso. She had long, slender fingers. She loved to cook and feed people too much food. She was almost crazy with love for her grandchildren. She was easily wounded. She could paint. She loved crafts. She wore a size 11 1/2 AA shoe. She made up a yummy peanut butter and chocolate frosting recipe our whole family still loves to this day. She was lonely, in spite of being so loved. She could hear a song on the radio and identify in which key it was being played. She believed in Jesus. She cried easily. She had two sons and one daughter. She loved to watch cooking shows. She had macular degeneration of the retina. She was very neat. She loved to play Spite and Malice. She died too soon. She would be out of this world in love with my sons-in-law and grandchildren, and would be so proud of my three wonderful daughters.

Typing this is making me sob right now, so I’ll share more another time.

Here is a photo of my mama and me, when I was about 4 1/2 years old. It was taken in my grandparents’ home in Southern California. My mom wasn’t much of a reader when I was little, but she read to me. I can tell she was laughing in this photo as the amazing world of books and words was opening up to me. She was holding a paper cup from In-n-out Burgers, where our family ate at least once a month.

She loved me and told me over and over that she was so happy to have a daughter. I was her youngest child.

I have lived seventeen years without a mama. I know where she is. She is no longer blind, no longer lonely or melancholy, and she probably knows more about my life than I can imagine.

Now I am doing for my grandchildren what she did for me in this photo.

I have so much to say to her when I see her again.

I love you Mom.

A day of rest

February 22, 2010 | My Jottings

Yesterday was Sunday, and it’s always good if Sundays can be a day of rest. As a matter of fact, something about observing a Sabbath rest really struck Michael and I as we were reading the Bible together recently. I go to Community Bible Study and this year we’re studying the book of Luke. Thirty in-depth weeks in one book of the Bible – it’s wonderful, amazing, enlightening, exciting, stabilizing, astonishing, sobering – too bad I can’t think of any adjectives about what simple, honest Bible study can do for a person.

Anyway, Luke writes that the Pharisees were always trying to find reasons to trip Jesus up, and toward the end of His life they were constantly plotting ways they could kill Him. And these were the respected religious leaders of the day. They hated how Jesus did so many of His miracles on the Sabbath. Then it got so they just plain hated Jesus. They thought He was breaking God’s rules and that they should do something to stop Him. They didn’t know that He was God in the flesh and made the rules Himself, and even formed those Pharisees in their mother’s wombs and gave them the ability to reason and speak to begin with.

So in our CBS commentary recently we delved in to what it means to observe a Sabbath day of rest. We’ve been in Luke 13 and 14, and Jesus keeps doing all these wonderful things on the Sabbath and it irritates the religious leaders like crazy. Another scripture referenced about the Sabbath was Isaiah 58:13 and 14:

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

These were the two verses that stood out to Michael and me as we sat and read and pondered together. I’d read them previously, but they didn’t seem to shimmer with life then as they did recently. I have always known that it’s important to God that we set a day apart to rest and to honor Him, but I can’t say that other than going to church on Sundays, the fourth commandment has been a big part of my life. Sundays have been a day of rest, yes, but they have also often looked like any other day. Unfortunately.

There’s a promise from God in those two verses that I would like to lay hold of. Then you will find your joy in the Lord…..I could use a little joy in my life, and I truly do want to honor the God I love. In other passages of the Bible we’re told that God instituted the Sabbath because He knows we need to rest and be refreshed. I’m so thankful He knows how tired and weak we are, and that we need refreshment.

So Michael and I are in the process of working this out in our lives. What will honoring the Sabbath mean for us? We’re pretty sure it won’t just mean going to church on Sundays and refraining from going shopping. It won’t merely mean taking a nap on Sunday afternoons and not doing our regular work. We are not interested in keeping the Sabbath legalistically and becoming just like the Pharisees were – scrupulously observing the day and forgetting the Creator of the day. We know that if God has laid something on our hearts and our intent is to listen and obey, He will give us help and insight as we look to Him.

But back to yesterday. We did not go to church yesterday because we had to drive downtown to Sharon’s new yarn-dying studio where much is going on to prepare for the arrival of Three Irish Girls in our neck of the woods. Plumbing is being installed so washing machines can go in, electrical stuff is going in and up so dyeing stations can be well-lit and functional, and stoves can be hooked up, bright paint colors are being rolled on to the twelve foot-high walls, and old flooring is being torn up, as the space is prepared for its new purpose. Chris and Sharon and their three children will move from Maryland to Minnesota in less than a week.

For various reasons, we had to be at the studio briefly to oversee some things that had to get done yesterday, which was a deadline of sorts. First we took Sara to church because her car is in need of repair and will be worked on this week. Then after a trip to the studio, we had to do some driving for our business and Sunday is truly the only day it can be done. Then we had to return home for a waiting period, then we picked up Sara after church was done. Then we had to go back downtown to the studio, then back home again. Then on another short errand for our business (again, Sunday is the only day this can happen), then we came home and I worked on the tacos and fixings I’d planned for dinner, then four of my grandchildren came over for a couple of hours (which is always a blessing). Then we had dinner, then the phone started ringing and nothing ever really let up until it was almost bedtime. I had even made an appointment for a phone chat with a dear friend in California later in the afternoon, and it never happened because the whole day was a crazy one. It was not particularly a day of rest. I fell into bed at 8:30 and was awakened by another phone call at 9:00.

Does it sound like I’m complaining? If it does, I am not at all. Everything we did yesterday had to be done. There weren’t other alternatives, and as we tootled around all day I was thankful for everything the day meant: sunshine, melting snow and the hint of spring in the air, vehicles to drive and to loan to those who need transportation, a thriving business the whole family is throwing themselves into because it means we’ll all be in the same state now, food on the table and a guessing game at dinner that had everyone laughing, the happy playing of healthy grandchildren, and the legs and hands and eyes and strength it takes to do all of the above and more.

As far as it being a day of physical rest, it certainly wasn’t. I have a lot to learn (and at such a late stage in my life) about keeping the Sabbath and what this means for me. But it was a good day, and I think God is speaking to me about being able to live from a state of rest in my heart and soul, whether or not my body is able to be at rest.

And here’s a passage from Luke 13 that we studied at CBS recently:

10On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

14Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

15The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

17When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

I tried to imagine what it would have been like to be bent over for eighteen years. Or even eighteen hours. What joy and freedom this woman must have experienced after such a horrible existence for so long. In this passage I see so much, but three things rise to the surface. 1. We are sometimes allowed to experience terrible things in order to finally know and appreciate the One who can deliver us from them.  2. Jesus Christ has complete and calm control over the dark, demonic realm. Can you name anyone else like that? 3. After Jesus freed her, this woman “straightened up and praised God.”

I love that – I want to straighten up and praise God too.

It’s just better there…

February 18, 2010 | My Jottings

My three Maryland grandbabies love to visit Grandpa and Grandma in Minnesota. They have cousins to play with here and they know when they stay with us there’ll be fun and treats and songs sung and books read. And hugs and kisses, lots of those. (They also have another set of wonderful grandparents they call Nanny and Pop, who live in Missouri. Going to visit them is a huge treat as well.)

A few months ago Sharon and Chris’s oldest child, Mr. McBoy, said to his parents in his best, most doleful Eeyore voice, “I wish we lived in Minnesota instead of Maryland.” When asked to elaborate on why he wanted to move, he sighed and said dejectedly, “I don’t know, it’s just better there.”

Little did Mr. McBoy know that his mama and daddy were already contemplating a return to the Midwest. Now that it’s official, everyone is so excited and thrilled about being closer to each other. In March of 2010, I will have all my daughters living nearby, and all seven grandchildren close enough to squeeze on a regular basis.

Here’s a recent photo of Mr. McBoy, ruddy-cheeked after a hard day’s play in piles of newly fallen Maryland snow. He’ll be eight soon and will be able to have his birthday celebration here with us!

And here is dainty Mrs. Nisky, also just in from sledding and playing in the snow. She’s 5 1/2, a budding artist and ballerina.

This is Little Gleegirl, who will be three in just a couple of weeks. She may not even remember much of Maryland once she grows up, but if we have anything to do with it, she’ll remember lots of love from Grandpa and Grandma.

Yes, I know.

Very, very blessed am I.

Edition 32-Wednesday’s Word

February 17, 2010 | My Jottings

“We try to get [joy] through entertainment. We pay someone to make jokes, tell stories, perform dramatic actions, sing songs. We buy the vitality of another’s imagination to divert and enliven our own poor lives. The enormous entertainment industry in America is a sign of the depletion of joy in our culture. Society is a bored, gluttonous king employing a court jester to divert it after an overindulgent meal. But that kind of joy never penetrates our lives, never changes our basic constitution. The effects are extremely temporary – a few minutes, a few hours, a few days at most. When we run out of money, the joy trickles away.”

Eugene Peterson

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

Jesus Christ

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February winner – Pat!

February 16, 2010 | My Jottings

Thank you all for sharing what you would like to do well. How about combining what everyone shared – would anyone be able to pray and patiently clean house while communicating lovingly and listening attentively and dancing really well, all at the same time? If that describes anyone you know, I’d like to meet them. 🙂

Pat is our winner for February’s bloggy giveaway, and she wins an gift certificate! Congratulations, Pat! Maybe you’ll find a how-to book on how to dance and clean and speak well and pray at the same time.

Upcoming posts:

It’s Just Better There
Organ Lessons
Yook at Dat Yake!
Millie’s Ears
TP on the Table
Angel Unaware
Lenten Journey
Prayer Box

Thank you all for reading – have a wonderful week!

I want to _____ well!

February 12, 2010 | My Jottings

I think everyone wishes they could do something better than they do. Or maybe there’s something we can’t do at all that we wish we could.

I’ve heard people say they wish they could play a musical instrument. I’ve known a few people who can’t carry a tune, yearn to be able to sing beautifully. I’ll bet there are athletes who’ve wished for faster legs, stronger swings, more accurate putts.

I could easily make a list of talents or personality traits I wish I had right now: I wish I enjoyed cooking and would be more creative in the kitchen, I wish I were more organized in regard to paperwork, I wish I had followed through on my childhood organ lessons and could sit down and play the piano or organ effortlessly like my mom did, I wish I were more emotionally resilient, I would like to be able to write really well, I would love to be able to paint like a master. And so goes the list.

For our bloggy February giveaway, it’s your turn to share.

If you could choose one thing you wish you could do better, or even do at all, what would it be?

Fill in the blank: “I want to ______ well!”

And you don’t have to use only one word to fill in the blank…you could say “fly without fear, clean my house, sleep, discipline my children, exercise regularly, study the Bible, bring peace, shop smarter, hold my tongue, not burn the breakfast”….whatever you’re wishing you could do better (or do at all), type it out. If you have more than one, go right ahead and share more.

This month’s randomly chosen winner will win a really neat gift, and will be announced on Tuesday morning, February 16th.

Here’s my answer to the question:

I want to love well!

I wish I were one of those people who found it easy and natural to be a very gentle and loving person. I am so far from that.

How about you? Fill in the blank…maybe win a prize.  🙂