Oh, this book…

February 11, 2010 | My Jottings

My good friend Carole Seid texted me from Chicago recently with these words: read Same Kind of Different As Me before the day is over…you’ll thank me for it.

Her friendly “command” made me smile, but because she never steers me wrong and some of the best books I’ve read have been Carole’s referrals, it made me want to see what I could learn about it.

I went online and read the reviews and knew I wanted to read it as soon as possible. So rather than wait on a long list at my city library, I downloaded it on my Kindle and had it within 30 seconds.

Oh, this book….it’s heartwarming, it’s heartbreaking, it’s encouraging, it’s incredible, it’s inspiring, and it’s something you would probably want to own. If you’re looking for a book to read that is fabulously written and one you’ll never forget, you’ll want this.

It’s a true story about “a modern-day slave, an international art dealer, and the woman who bound them together,” and is the kind of book I’d like to buy ten copies of to give as gifts.

I asked Michael if he would like me to read it out loud to him and he said yes, so I’m happy for a chance to go through it again.

If you’ve already read Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore, what did you think?

Blue and white

February 9, 2010 | My Jottings

It all started in 1980 with this mug. I was newly divorced, had two sweet little girls, a job in a large private investigating firm, and an apartment in Orange County, California. I needed a mug to take to the office. So I went to my local Alpha Beta grocery store and bought this blue and white plaid mug. I wasn’t much of a coffee drinker and it was usually too warm outside to drink hot tea, so mostly I drank water from this blue and white plaid mug.

Then in 1981 I married a man I had only met once and moved from sunny SoCal to American Siberia. We bought our first home together in 1984, and early the next year a dear friend gave me this white mug with the blueberries on it as a hostess gift.

Then in 1986 a friend gave me a dark blue speckled mug with a goose on it. Remember in the eighties when people decorated in country blue and dusty rose and had ducks and geese on everything in their houses? I wasn’t doing the pink and blue thing but I certainly had my share of ducks and geese strewn around.

It was with the gift of this third cup that I began to see the pattern. Blue and white. So instead of keeping these mugs in the cupboard, I put them out on the kitchen counter one after another, sort of like little ducks in a row. I have always aspired to have all my ducks in a row. Aspiration is much different than reality, however.

Soon, I received another blue and white cup for a gift. Then another. My daughters saw the beginning of a small collection and they would give me blue and white mugs for Christmas, for birthdays. Michael made three shelves to hang on the kitchen wall and I started keeping my collection out in the open for everyone to enjoy its simple and classic blue and white beauty.

Before too many years had passed, generous friends started giving me pieces of Delft, a lovely blue and white pottery from Holland. I now had darling Delft creamers, windmills, pig salt and pepper shakers, and teacups.

My SAGgy friend Lorna went to Israel and brought back a wonderful tiny cup and matching serving bowl. My daughter Sharon added to the collection with gorgeous blue and white candlesticks. Carolyn brought back a tiny teapot from the Czech Republic. Sara went to Europe and brought back cups from Italy and Spain. They all went up on the shelves on the kitchen wall. And people who came to visit always noticed the blue and white collection and commented on how unique and pretty it was.

My blue and white collection now has pricey Flow Blue items and inexpensive gift shop finds. It has hand crafted mugs from local artisans in northern Minnesota and souvenir-type mugs from underground cave attractions, Scandinavian pancake restaurants and North Shore bistros. There are mugs from Target and TJ Maxx, Poland and Pier One, England and Mexico, Japan and even British Airways. There are egg holders, tiny lamp bases, Dutch shoes and butter pats.

And several years ago a friend gave me a wedding gift she and her husband had received and never been able to fit into their decor, a wonderful blue and white plate made into a clock. That went on the wall as well.

Now we are in a different house, and the collection has grown. We had to add shelving space to display all the blue and white.

The collection takes up a huge space on the largest wall of our kitchen, and it pleases me every day. I decorated my entire kitchen around my blue and whites. I chose the deep red paint color for the walls, the medium blue for the counter tops, the blue and white accents everywhere else, all because of this odd collection that started in 1980 with a simple blue and white mug purchased from the grocery store.

When people come over for a visit and I serve tea or coffee, they know to choose their mug or cup from the collection on the wall. I know what most of my friends gravitate to now, and it’s funny how I’ll think to myself when I’m washing them, “This is Ginny’s cup, this one is the one Diane likes to drink from, Susan always prefers this one.”

I enjoy my collection because to me it’s visually striking, very practical, and represents the love of family and friendship in my life. I like how all the pieces are so different and interesting, yet all go together to make something of beauty.

Do you have a collection? If so, did you start collecting intentionally, or did it begin with one random gift? If you have a photo of your collection, send it to me and tell a little about it, and I’ll post it here on the blog.

And finally….let me know if you’d like to come over soon for a warm homemade scone and a cup of something hot. You could even choose your own cup.

My King

February 8, 2010 | My Jottings

This Youtube production has been out there for a while now, but if you haven’t had a chance to view it yet, I hope you are as moved by it as I have been many times. My daughter reminded me about it yesterday, and when I watched it again I decided to share.

As I watched today, I asked myself, Who else in the whole of history can be described like this? Who else can do what He can do? And if all these claims are true, what should my life look like as a result?

Maybe you can think of someone today who might need to see this…

Google giggles

February 6, 2010 | My Jottings

I’ve mentioned before that most people who have a blog are able to look at a part of their dashboard and see what different Google searches have been conducted that brought people to their blog. Obviously, if someone does a Google search on the words, “Just Julie B,” they’ll eventually happen upon my blog.

Once in a while I like to see what searches people have done that caused them to accidentally visit my blog. They are anonymous; there is no personal information about who the visitors are, of course. Some of the search words I can understand and they bring a smile. Others I’m perplexed by. But they’re all chuckleworthy and I thought I’d share.

Here are some verbatim phrases people recently googled that linked them to my site:

Why does my schnauzer vibrate? I don’t know why your Schnauzer vibrates, friend, but my Schnauzers vibrate because they see deer and rabbits and squirrels and raccoons and chipmunks and people outside at least a dozen times a day, and want to run outside and join the party.

Very old woman – Someone went to Google, typed in Very old woman, and was immediately referred to my blog. I think I should be offended. But I’m not. My knees tell me I’m a very old woman. How did Google know about my knees?

Underground hornet – I don’t particularly care for above-ground hornets, now I’m wondering about underground hornets. And why did Google think I would have insight on this one?

Wallpaper woman – This one is obvious. I love wallpaper and have it in four rooms in our house.

Twall dog bed – I have seen this one more than once – people know that the French word toile is pronounced “twall,” but many don’t yet know that the word toile is spelled toile. I don’t have a toile dog bed either, but I recently posted about our dogs sleeping on our bed in our toile-decorated bedroom.

What is the weakest antibiotic? – You’ll have to check with your doctor on this, but I don’t think Vaseline or Tic-tacs are very strong antibiotics. And I’m pretty sure that Snickers bars aren’t very effective either.

Dangerous to breathe in zero weather – We in northern Minnesota know what it’s like to breathe when it’s twenty degrees below zero out – it can be a little risky. But we can also attest to the fact that it’s absolutely lethal not to breathe in zero weather.

Out of this furnace character of Julie description – This sounds like something spiritually profound.

Flamenco outfits – Michael and I reluctantly got rid of our flamenco outfits last year – too bad it was too late to help this person.

Alcoholic Just Julie – Thank God, no.

Anticipating winter for parking – Not around here – “dreading winter for parking” is more like it. Huge snow drifts and hidden painted parking lines make for challenging winter parking.

Where can I ride my minibike in Southern California? – I would try the running tracks at Covina High School and Traweek Junior High School, and the quiet street near both of these called Eckerman Avenue.

The quest for the perfect body – Nobody here by that name.

Chinese tiger clothespin – What in the world? I had no idea that anyone even manufactured Chinese tiger clothespins. I wonder what makes them stand out from other clothespins?

I decided to just perm only my bangs – And many of us, too, have the photos from the 1980s to prove it. In 2020 this will probably be a trend again.

Sinus infection dirty sock smell – My heartfelt condolences to this person.

You can tell I’m scraping the bottom of the bloggy barrel today. 🙂

Please stop by next week when I will have an invitation and a potentially life-changing challenge for all of you, and I’m hoping you’ll be ready to pass it on to anyone you think might benefit.

Have a great weekend…

Shall I worry or pray?

February 2, 2010 | My Jottings

On my mother’s side of the family there was a long history of champion worriers. My mom could have displayed blue ribbons, trophies and gold medals for her noteworthy accomplishments in the Hand Wringing Olympics. Sometimes I think she worried about things just for the relief it would bring when what she had worried about didn’t come to pass. She would worry that a snowstorm would make the snow pile up in her driveway. Then she would cry with relief when volunteers would come and shovel the snow for her. She worried about getting her taxes done at least two months before tax season began. Then we would mail in the forms each year like we always did, and she was almost giddy from that burden being lifted.

I remember trying to comfort my mom and reminding her that worry didn’t help anything. I told her that it was only robbing her of today’s joy, and that God would take care of her and she could trust Him with her money and her snow. She knew in her head this was true, but somehow it never traveled down the highway to her heart. Worry seemed to be as much a part of my mom’s daily existence as dipping her buttered toast into her Taster’s Choice and Coffee-mate.

I also recall thinking to myself that I would never be a worrier like my mom, and while I don’t fret like she did, I have been a little disturbed to see some things pan out in my life just as they did in hers. At times I have thought that The Road To Becoming My Mother is a slippery slope indeed.

I have my mother’s forehead and the bunion on her right foot. I pluck at my coat with the same hand gesture she did, and I have a dormant artistic gene in me. I have her voice and her long femurs and ample hips, but I will not carry the worry torch that she unknowingly held so high.

I do think I’m predisposed to worry, partly due to seeing it modeled and mastered by my dear mom all my life. But for me, worrying isn’t a just an unproductive little side trip that leads to a detour through some back roads to nowhere. Worry can be a hellish hurtling into the darkest, foulest cave of doom. When I have given in to worry it has always been ruinous. So I have resisted worrying as much as is humanly possible, but have sometimes found that human strength just isn’t enough.

Last year I read in a book called Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World that the author had struggled with worry for many years. She decided to break the worry habit by replacing each worry with a short prayer. Wow, I thought. Is it as simple as that?

In Community Bible Study last week I read and heard several times how effective it is to replace worry with prayer. It seems so obvious, so straightforward, especially for a believer, that prayer would be the better choice than fears and tears and sleepless nights.

So this is what I’m doing when little fears come knocking. I have decided to pray instead of worry. And it’s a good thing that one of God’s rules isn’t that prayers have to be perfect, or none of us would ever pray.

Here’s an example I’ve made up.

Your feet start hurting you a little bit every day and you wonder if arthritis is developing. Then you worry if you’ll have to give up that daily run and will start gaining weight because you’ll be getting less exercise, and then with less exercise you’ll get stiff and gain more weight and your feet will hurt more, and you won’t be able to sleep as well at night, and you’ll get crabby and alienate your friends and family, and your life won’t be worth living and you’ll sit in your house with the curtains closed and Days of Our Lives on, and you won’t answer the phone or trim your toenails anymore.

Or you could pray, “Lord my feet hurt! Will you touch me with your healing hand today? Help me keep going, and I give you thanks today that I can walk. I trust you with my life…Amen.”

I like the image of me bringing whatever it is that’s bothering me right to Jesus, and leaving it with Him. He has invited me to do that countless times, and I like the way things feel, the way things turn out, when I do that. As many of you know, sometimes we take things to the Lord only to find ourselves picking them up again. I may have to practice this relinquishment many times a day before trust completely replaces worry, but I’d rather practice something that brings peace than practice something that brings despair.

I am also aware that sometimes God chooses to answer our prayers in ways we don’t expect. Saying a prayer doesn’t automatically mean that everything we pray for will come to pass. But worry doesn’t get anything done either, and it doesn’t build faith or bring comfort or peace.

I like this saying: “Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety, or with the handle of faith.”

Shall I worry or shall I pray?

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:27

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

I think I’ll pray.