Wednesday’s Word-Edition 69

August 31, 2011 | My Jottings

“Do not…forget God, but think on Him often,

adore Him continually, live and die with Him;

this is the glorious employment of a Christian.

In a word, this is our profession;

if we do not know it, we must learn it.”

Brother Lawrence

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A spiritual Kindergartener but still hoping to learn,

Basic Math

August 30, 2011 | My Jottings

(from the archives…)







1 + 1 = 2

2 + 2 = 4

4 + 4 = 8

5 + 7 = 12

23 + 86 = 109

44 + 101 = 145

256 + 814 = 1070

1298 + 8330 = 9628

219,011 + 637,226 = 856,237

Godliness + contentment = Great gain    (1 Timothy 6:6)

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I find that regularly going over the basic tables of addition is really helpful.

What kinds of things do you need to be reminded about?

The Quest for Beauty

August 29, 2011 | My Jottings

(from the archives…)

Have you ever wanted to be beautiful? Or, if you’re a male reader, have you ever wished you were handsome? I’ll bet there isn’t one person reading this who hasn’t desired this at one time or another. As our culture grows more and more obsessed with physical beauty and perfection, the chance of living up to the ideal of the word “beautiful” gets slimmer and slimmer (pun intended).

Can you believe that there are actual beauty “experts” out there who think they have comprehensively defined what genuine beauty consists of for a woman? Here are the generally agreed-upon standards: the ideal woman should have large eyes, a small jaw, chin and nose, full lips, firm breasts, long legs, thick, shiny hair, a longish neck, white, symmetrical teeth that show approximately 1/4-1/2 inch when the lips are parted in relaxation, nicely arched and not-too-thick eyebrows, unblemished skin, and a waist-to-hip ratio of .7 or 70%. And I’m not kidding.

In just one day on television, dozens of infomercials play continually for Bare Minerals makeup, wrinkle-erasing cream, fat-cramming “shapers”, hair extensions, countless exercise contraptions that promise the perfect body in six weeks or less, and faster teeth whitening processes. The underlying message is always “if you can get closer to that ‘ideal’, you will finally be happy.”

I would like to suggest that true beauty has nothing to do with leg length or nose size or skin tone. As I grow older and gain a (hopefully) more wise and reasonable perspective, I think real beauty shines forth in a person who is refreshingly unaware of themselves.

We all know someone who isn’t stereotypically beautiful, but whose personality and demeanor is such that they seem quite lovely to us. We’ve all seen when someone’s inner beauty shines out through any plainness. And we don’t have to look far to see someone’s outer beauty being smeared with ugliness if conceit and self-focus are present with it.

Who wouldn’t like to have a spa treatment that massages away cellulite (ha) and banishes blackheads? Who wouldn’t try the newest mascara that promises the thickest lashes you’ve ever had? I know people who regularly endure some mild pain from chemical “lip plumpers” so they’ll feel just a little bit better about their mouths.

Colossians chapter 3 speaks of another way to beautify ourselves:

12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

The kind of beauty described above is lasting, in fact it grows more noticeable and resplendent the older a woman gets and the longer she walks a surrendered, rather than a selfish path. Do I write of all this because I always live this way? Hardly. I am not immune to our culture’s influence, and I remember many years when really important life decisions were made because I was being extremely self-focused and vain.

I think each of us craves beauty in our lives in one way or another. We often try to fill our lives with beauty. How many of us like to decorate, to create beauty within the walls of our homes? How many love to garden, to paint, to play beautiful music? How many of us travel so we can experience new and breathtaking beauties we’ve never seen before? I also love the beauty of well-written words. We have an inherent love of beauty. God must love beauty too – He has filled His creation with myriad spectacular examples of beauty and grandeur, and He created us with a capacity to desire and appreciate it all, to tell us something about Himself. I believe when we see Him face to face we are going to be stunned by His beauty.

But our culture’s standards of beauty have gone awry, as described in that fatuous definition at the beginning of this post, and as we see every day through our media.

I used to like to watch the Miss America pageant when I was young. No matter what, I always rooted for Miss California. When I see those pageants today I’m filled with a mixture of amusement and sadness. I think back to the amount of time I spent (especially in my younger years) making sure I looked as good as possible, and wonder what kind of a woman I would be today if I had spent the same amount of time developing my inner life.

I wonder what a Heavenly Beauty Contest would be like. What would qualify someone for the sash and tiara in a pageant based on what God thinks is beautiful? Let’s use our imaginations here.

I’d like to describe some Heavenly Beauty Contest winners from years past. Picture this: the first contestant was very plain of face. She had thick ankles and her waist to hip ratio was approximately .95, meaning she didn’t even have a waist. According to one of today’s “beauty experts,” the many deep lines on her face would have made her a candidate for a surgical lift, but they also betrayed the fact that she had probably smiled hugely at least a million times in her life. She probably never knew the word “highlight” in terms of her hair. But I think the Lord thinks she’s beautiful, because she so sacrificially loved Him, and always brought His love and hope to whomever she was with, even in a hellish concentration camp. She brought true beauty into the world. Her name? Click here to see her loveliness: Corrie ten Boom.

How about Contestant Number Two in our Heavenly Beauty Contest? She had very few, if any, of the characteristics of today’s “Ideal Woman.” She had a large nose, small, slightly crooked teeth, beady, close-set eyes, leathery skin. Her small frame wasn’t curvy or anything to write home about. She could have used some help on her eyebrows. I wonder how beautiful the Lord thought she was as He watched her give her entire life to serve and comfort the outcasts in Calcutta that few others would even touch. All because of her deep love for Jesus. You know who Contestant Number Two is – click here – Mother Teresa.

And contestant number 3, or 4, or 26 or 187 could be that woman who lives right next door to you. Or it could even be you. I’m not saying we shouldn’t wear mascara or try to be physically fit. I love beautiful clothes and appreciate beauty in people. I’m just saying the vigorous pursuit of it doesn’t satisfy. It doesn’t last. It doesn’t bring peace to our souls or happiness to our homes.

What will I do today to bring true beauty into my home? Even though I don’t have all the answers, I know it all begins with the One who thought beauty up in the first place. I think I’ll start with Him. He’s the only One I know of who can deal with that hard-to-reach inner self.

There’s a passage in 1 Peter that says the godly women of old made themselves beautiful by putting their hope in God. I’ve seen this marvelously demonstrated in some women I know today. The women who calmly, joyfully trust Jesus, the ones who really put their hope in Him, radiate a beauty this world knows nothing about.

I think that’s where I’ll start today. I’m putting my hope in Jesus. How about you?


August 25, 2011 | My Jottings

We have a lot going on in the next couple of weeks and I’ve decided to take a little rest from updating my blog.

I’ve scheduled several posts from the archives to be published (beginning on Monday) almost every day during my break, however. Those of you who’ve been reading for a while will recognize most of them, and those who are new to the site will have a chance to see some of my favorites.

Have I thanked you lately for making time to read this little blog? If not, let me say it now — thank you for stopping by. I really do appreciate you.

See you soon,

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 68

August 24, 2011 | My Jottings

Have your heart right with Christ, and He will visit you often…

And so turn
weekdays into Sundays
meals into sacraments
homes into temples
and earth into heaven.

Charles Spurgeon

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Who Knew?

August 22, 2011 | My Jottings

I have never really done much to take care of my skin. There are times when I wish I had, but now that I’m in my fifties I know that the wrinkles signs of aging on my face are always going to be there. If you haven’t seen the up-close and personal evidence on my face in recent years, click here.

My skincare regimen consists of washing my face with lavender soap whenever I take a shower, and moisturizing my face a few times a year. I feel guilty admitting it, but I have just never remembered to put cream on my face before I go to bed at night. I remember to read, I remember to make sure the covers are just so, I remember to turn on a soothing CD before turning in for the night, but my skin rarely gets the attention that Lancôme and Clinique tells me it should.

When I was growing up in Southern California there was no talk of skin cancer, and we didn’t know that blistering sunburns dramatically increased your risk for it. I slathered baby oil all over my body and roasted in the sun so many times I couldn’t count if I tried. The bridge of my nose and the back of my shoulders have been blistered on numerous occasions.

Now I see that getting just the right amount of sunlight is needed — my family tends to be deficient in Vitamin D because we live so far north. So I still go out in the sun, but I no longer lay down on a towel and purposely broil myself. If I’m going to be out in the hot sun for very long, I use sunscreen.

About two weeks ago I happened upon a skin cleansing/moisturizing method that really got my attention. It’s called The Oil Cleansing Method and instead of me explaining everything myself, you can quickly read about it here. And here’s a great post by a blogger who tried this method and has been using it for years now. You can also find some videos on YouTube showing how to do this if you like.

I shared this information with my daughters, and Sara decided right away that she would try it with me. We found some people online who used a little Castor oil mixed with olive oil, and others who preferred a little Castor oil mixed with sunflower oil. Sara came home with a bottle of Castor and a bottle of sunflower, and we mixed our formulas.

My skin tends to be drier than Sara’s, so my personal little bottle has 10% Castor oil and 90% sunflower oil. Sara tried the ratio 30% Castor and 70% sunflower.

I’ve been faithfully cleansing my face every night for one week, using the methods found in the links above. I intend to do this every day for one month and then evaluate the results.

It makes sense to me that oil removes oil…I’d never thought about that before. Supposedly people with clogged pores have experienced wonderful results with oil cleansing…I hope to see the same for myself. 🙂 I also like that I’m not putting seventeen chemicals on my very absorbent skin, which would transport those chemicals quickly into my bloodstream.

So after one week, here’s what I’ve observed. In fact, I noticed it after one oil cleansing. No skin flakes! I used to have very flaky skin on my forehead and no matter how much moisturizing or exfoliating I tried, I always had flakes. All I had to do was run my finger across my forehead and it would start to snow little white flakes down in front of my face. Yes, I know, you don’t even have to say it. Blech.

Not a bit of soap has touched my face in a week, and not a bit will touch it for another 24 days. Sara tells me she sees a difference in the way my skin looks, but I’m not doing too much scrutinizing yet. I just know that it’s easy, cheap, and that all the flakes are gone.

Have any of you ever tried this method? If so, what did you think? If not, after reading the directions and the reasons why, do you think you’ll try it?

“Yook at dat yake!”

August 18, 2011 | My Jottings

Once upon a time there was a little girl who couldn’t pronounce her “L”s.  “My name is Cawoyin Beth Yahpine!” she would declare to anyone who asked what her name was.

Her mother thought it was such a sweet thing, she never bothered to correct her daughter, knowing that someday she would learn to pronounce her L-words properly.

The little girl and her family lived near an enormous lake, and there was rarely a day when they didn’t see a view of it in some way, whether driving close by the shoreline or sitting on the bed and looking out of the upstairs bedroom window.

“Yook! Yook at dat big yake, Mom!” she would point and exclaim when they would drive over a hill and see the lake’s dark blue vastness laid out before them. “I think dat’s Yake Su-PEER-iter!”

“Yes, you’re right Carolyn. It’s the lake that looks like an ocean.”

And the little girl’s mother would smile to herself and close her eyes and revel in the moment of innocence and sweetness.

Years passed, and “yake” turned to “lake,” and “Caroyin” became “Carolyn,” but the mother never ceased to occasionally close her eyes and smile and revel in the memories, even though the little girl had grown up into a lovely woman who could easily say her “L”s.

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Years ago I used to love scrapbooking, and I made a “Life Book” for each of my daughters and presented it to them when they graduated from high school. The scrapbooks are chronological pictorial accounts of their lives up until that point, and I used to stay up late into the night and work on them. I sat on our living room floor with old photographs spread out all around me, colored paper and stickers and markers and special scissors strewn about, and I prayed as I snipped and glued. I often cried over the pages I worked on too, recalling the innocence of their youths and how terribly fast the years had flown by.

Here’s one double page spread from my middle daughter Carolyn’s scrapbook. It has a picture from each year of school, from Kindergarten to her high school graduation photo. You can click to enlarge if you’d like to read the little caption I put under each one.

Now Carolyn is married and is the mother of four beautiful children. The oldest three will be in fourth grade, third grade and Kindergarten this year. I see a little of each of those three in the corresponding grade photos of Carolyn above.

Carolyn loves autumn and cool air and changing leaves. She dislikes fast rides and extremely hot weather. She’s a meat and potatoes kind of gal and is an excellent cook. She isn’t fond of coffee or soups with a light broth base. She loves to read and can still hide herself away in the midst of chaotic activity and disappear into a great book, just like she did when she was little. She likes old show tunes and can belt them out with the best of them. She believes in having a bit of candy every day. 🙂 She loves her family. She might rather listen to Rosemary Clooney sing instead of many of our current day sensations. She loves dogs. She’s really funny. She often sees things through a black and white kind of lens. She is resilient and forgiving.

Carolyn also loves the theater, and has been in more plays in our local community playhouse than I can count. She can sing and act, and has had the lead roles in Cinderella, The Last Five Years, The Trip to Bountiful, Carousel, Picnic, The Philadelphia Story, Moon for the Misbegotten, The Miracle Worker, and so many more. This coming Christmas she’ll be in the holiday musical The Sound of Music and I can’t wait for that.

I marvel each time I sit in the audience, watching the beautiful and gifted young woman on the stage…who used to be my little girl who wore the big glasses and couldn’t say her “L”s.

And I love her so.

Wednesday Whimsy-Edition 67

August 17, 2011 | My Jottings

On Saturday morning we were able to sleep in two whole hours later than usual, until 7:40. The sun was streaming in the window, the birds were singing, and I felt rested as I stretched and looked at Michael next to me.

Most people who know us are aware of Michael’s Parkinson’s and the number it has done on his speech and ability to convey what he’s really thinking.

We said good morning to each other and after a minute or two he looked at me and said, “You look pretty.”

“I do?” I asked as I looked over at him.

“Your face is full of straight lines,” he said lovingly.

“My face is full of straight lines?” I asked, amused.

“Yes, and it looks puffy,” he said softly. “In a healthy sort of way.”

“Thank you Michael,” I responded.

I may be the only woman in the world who can happily hear those words and know that they were truly meant as a compliment, even if they didn’t quite come out that way.   🙂

It must be me.

August 15, 2011 | My Jottings

I’m beginning to think there’s something about me that attracts strange episodes having to do with our house.

You may or may not remember how difficult it was for me to get three ornithological prints matted and framed. It was such an unbelievable and drawn-out ordeal, and you can see amusing photos and read about it…

1. First here

2. Next here  (I promise you’ll laugh)

3. And finally here

There was also the floor episode which I never wrote about. We had lots of new flooring installed in our newly renovated kitchen and laundry area before we moved into this house; flooring that was highly touted as the flooring of the future for various reasons I won’t list today. Within one week of all the new flooring going in, it “failed.” It began to pop up in corners of the flexible planks. It had adhesive on the back so I would press the little curling corners back down and they would seem to be fine, until we returned the next day (and the next) to find a few more little “failures” here and there. The representative of the company was called by the retailer we bought the flooring from, and he came out to inspect it. He agreed that it was doing what it wasn’t supposed to do. All that brand new flooring was torn up, and we had to choose new. Of course the kind I liked was more expensive than the flooring that had just been torn up. But I’m happy with this kitchen flooring, anyway.

There have been other things, odd occurrences, that make me wonder what’s up. The one I’ll tell you about today is about a window. When we moved into this house, a window in my office had a crack in it and we knew we would someday replace it. We took a long time getting around to it, but since our house is up for sale we’ve fixed every last thing that needed attention so it would be in excellent condition.

Here’s how it went with the window.

First I called a reputable glass company and they happily came out and measured the pane that needed replacing. They said they would be out in 10 days to put it in.

Secondly, it was more than ten days, but that part was okay. I know people are busy.

Thirdly, when they finally did come out to put in the new pane, the workmen found that the man who measured and ordered the glass was quite a bit off. The new glass they brought was too big for the spot. So they measured the space, then off they went with the wrong glass, and apparently the right size was ordered.

Fourth, the company never called back (in three weeks) to tell me if the new pane had come in and when they would replace it, so I called them. Yes, it was in, and they would be coming the end of next week, was that okay? Perfect, I said.

Fifth, the end of next week came and we made sure we were home on the day the workmen were coming to install the correctly-sized glass, but no one ever showed up. So I called the measurer/owner man and asked if they had forgotten about us. They had. (A phone call would have been nice.) He apologized and I said that was fine. He promised he would pull people off of other jobs and have the new glass installed Monday morning first thing.

Sixth, they just left, and here’s what they installed….look carefully and click on the photo to enlarge if you like. The one they put it is the one on the left.

They got the new window installed and then came to tell Michael and me that…uh…ahem…it was wrong again. The man who initially came out to measure also counted the number of panes incorrectly. All our office windows are 12-paned. He ordered our replacement to be 15-paned.

So for a while we’ll have a mismatched window, until they order the new one and come back to put it in.

Some might say “the universe” is trying to tell me something. But I really think it’s God speaking, and I think He’s trying to work out Galatians 5:22-23 in me:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

I know I’m probably the only one, right?

Two adrenaline rushes in one day

August 10, 2011 | My Jottings

Yesterday I picked up my friend Kim and took her on a “surprise adventure.” At least those were the words I used when we were playing Words With Friends (Kim on her iPhone and I on my iPad) and I invited her to set aside an upcoming morning for some fun. She trusted me enough to say yes when I told her I was going to keep it a surprise; in fact, what she said was “I’m game!”  I like that about Kim.

So, I took Kim to ride the Timber Twister for the first time. And I wanted us to try our city’s newest attraction, the Timber Flyer, which is a zip line at the same place.

Little did we know that at the top of the hill where you board the zip line ride is a nice platform scale they make you step on before they allow you to ride. They want to make sure that no one exceeds the 450 pound weight limit. I am pleased to report that I did not. While standing in line it alternately rained and sunshined, and even getting wet wasn’t a deterrent to the good visiting we got to do while together.

Kim and I rode the Twister and the Flyer and we both agreed that our favorite was the Timber Twister — you can go a little faster on it, and the ride lasts longer too. I have to smile even now as I think of us two middle-aged women standing in line with all those young people so we could enjoy a little rush of adrenaline. Take it from me, when you’re in your fifties, adrenaline rushes tend to be few and far between. 🙂  I mentioned to Kim that one of my daughters doesn’t like fast rides of any kind, not because she’s afraid, but because she doesn’t like that “feeling” you get when you go extremely fast and your stomach seems to drop. Kim grinned and said, “I love that feeling!” and it just reaffirmed to me what I’ve long known — Kim is a real kindred spirit. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve loved fast rides — twirling, upside down, falling, swooshing, spinning rides — I want to try them all.

After enjoying the thrills and the views and the good conversation, we drove to our local Red Lobster and had their delicious soup and salad lunch. Kim and I talked about the mysterious ways of God and how hard it is to figure out why He sometimes does things the way He does. We agreed that He’s trustworthy and inscrutable both, but that the older we get the more we rest in one conclusion: if we love and walk with Jesus, no matter what befalls us, we’ll eventually be okay.

I have found that when you’re experiencing surges of adrenaline and satisfying conversation with an old friend, time really does fly. In what seemed like no time at all it was time to drive Kim home. We said that when we’re much older women, the memory of our adventure will bring a smile. Hopefully one with teeth.

When I arrived home I went through the mail, turned the savory-smelling roast that was cooking in the crockpot, let the dogs out, and visited with Michael. (He likes the Timber Twister almost as much as I do, and I hope someday soon he can be persuaded to try the Timber Flyer…I’ll be the one most appreciating his woots and the look on his face.)

Unbeknownst to me, another “surprise” was lurking in our bathroom that day. I carried some laundry upstairs to our room, and noticed that the toilet paper was running out in the master bath. I reached into a decorative little container we keep near the tub that has extra toilet paper rolls in it, and I saw a maroon-colored speck on the roll. It was so tiny — at first repugnant glance I thought it was a tick. We have lots of ticks here in Minnesota. But the dark red color didn’t look like a tick, and the (horrors!) pincers didn’t look like a tick. I stifled a scream and quickly tapped the creature off the toilet paper roll and onto the side of the tub where I could get a better look at it. There are not enough words to describe the inner cringe and recoiling I felt when I saw it begin to move, waving its almost-microscopic lobster-like claws around. What in the world was this? Horrible! Gross! It gave me the willies. I could even feel my face flush in reaction to something that looked so creepy. I quickly wadded up some TP, crushed it (although it was so tiny — not even an 1/8 of an inch — who knows if it survived — probably did!) and flushed it down the toilet. And then I flushed again for good measure.

I did a search to find out what dreadful little creature was clinging to our toilet paper, and it was (prepare yourself)…a pseudoscorpion. I don’t even want to utter the word. Have any of you ever seen or heard of pseudoscorpions? They’re arachnids that are in my state, in my city, in my neighborhood, on my block, and one (please God let there be only one) somehow got into my house. If you would like to verify the existence of pseudoscorpions yourself, go right ahead and google it. Don’t get too close to the screen, however.

This photo I found of someone else’s fingers and someone else’s pseudoscorpion looks exactly like what I found yesterday (you can click to enlarge if you don’t have the slightest tinge of arachnophobia.)

So there you have it. Two adrenaline rushes in one day. One welcome, planned, fun and memorable; the other uninvited, sinister, startling and loathsome.

While my adrenal glands are recovering, I’m hoping the sieve-like part of my aging brain kicks in and helps me soon forget the pseudoscorpion in our bathroom.

I’m also hoping that the part of my brain that used to hang onto memories like a steel trap (or so my mother told me) will never let me forget the wonderful and satisfying time I had yesterday with my dear friend Kim.

***Update on Saturday, August 13th***

My friend Deb took this picture of the bug she found in her house and sent it to me. I think it’s an earwig — another adrenaline-producing species.

Here’s what Deb wrote, which I thought was so funny — can you tell she’s in the medical profession? —

“Hi Julie! Look what I found in my kitchen today! Because of my quick reflexes, this specimen is now missing some essential life fluids and has some tortion of his exoskeleton plus irreversible damage to his right extremities. Straight forward movement is no longer possible for this poor bug. Yes, alas, he is destined to navigate in a circular pattern for the rest of his short life….and I do mean short! His pincers are remarkably intact however. They seem to be the strongest part of his little body.”

Thank you Deb! 🙂

Have a great week everyone,