Thursday Things

January 31, 2013 | My Jottings

1. After a few days of more reasonable temperatures (near the freezing point), we are supposed to go into the deep freeze tomorrow. Michael and I were talking about it in the dark this morning before we got out of bed, and we both said, “This might be the last of it.” Everyone in Northeastern Minnesota knows what that phrase means — it means since we’re almost to February, these next below-zero dips might be the last ones we’ll see like this until next year. Reason to rejoice!

2. We just learned that our state has foisted another huge paperwork task on all the family foster care providers. What they are requiring of us is almost unbelievable to me. And the friendly phrase, “failure to submit this review by May 31 will result in not being able to receive payment.” I truly wish I could hire a paperwork specialist to come into my home for a few hours a week and do the paperwork for me. It never seems to end.

3. We are just finishing up the book of Mark in Community Bible Study, and will start Ephesians next. We recently learned what our 30-week study will be for 2013-14 and I’m looking forward to it very much: Daniel, Job and I and II Peter.

4. I have been introduced to Norwex products and am trying them out in my home. So far I’m impressed. Anyone out there use them?

5. I picked up a book at the library yesterday that my sister-in-law Christy recommended to me. She said it was the most beautiful book she’d ever read, and since she’s a prolific reader, that’s saying a lot. Have any of you ever read The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey?

6. Edith and Mildred know what the word squirt means now. My friend Diane suggested that we might try squirting them with a little stream of water when they bark so shrilly at passersby, so even though I was pretty sure this wouldn’t deter them, I gave it a try. Well, it works. One squirt stops the Schnauzer shrieking instantly and they slink into the living room to escape. Diane also told me that she needs only to call the word, “Squirt!” out to her dogs from another room, and they stop barking. This would never work with our dogs, I thought. But it does. I can holler “Quiet! Knock it off! No!” and they just keep on happily yipping and wagging their tails at the squirrels, joggers, postman. If I hear them start up and I yell ominously from my office, “Squirt!”, they stop.

7. I love this game on my iPad.

8. Here’s a picture of Michael and Sara at Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Florida, taken a couple of months ago.

9. We’re having chili for dinner tonight. And salad.

10. My friend Denel told me that for our 2nd Annual Lupi-Soo Reunion this fall, she’s thinking of choosing some place in the Pacific Northwest. I can’t wait.

How about you? What are a couple of your Thursday things?

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 95

January 30, 2013 | My Jottings

“Marriage is sacrifice, commitment and work. But anything worth anything, always is.”

Julia Shalom Jordan

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Cooler By the Lake

January 26, 2013 | My Jottings

I put my knitting away all last summer and fall, and now since the weather is so cold it seems like the right time to take it out again. I’m still a total beginner, and have not ventured beyond making scarves. I hope to try something more complicated from a pattern someday, but for now I guess making my sixth or seventh scarf is just fine.

In the evenings after dinner Michael likes for me to watch television with him, so we’ve been enjoying a few BBC series lately, and a movie or two. I’ve been picking up my knitting then, and it feels like I’m being a bit productive instead of being a couch potato.

Some of the things we’ve been watching are this version of Dickens’ Little Dorrit, which I loved. It took us a while to get into it and really like it, but it was worth persevering through. We’re also watching the series “All Creatures Great and Small” again, and it gives us the itch to go to England. Sometimes I actually think we should try a second trip and other times I’m not so sure. But watching anything in Yorkshire makes me think we might.

My friend Diane texted me recently and told us to watch the movie Bernie with Jack Black. We watched it Thursday. It’s a true story and I’m still thinking about it. Have any of you watched Lars and the Real Girl? That was another one Diane told me about, and when Michael and I sat down to watch, at first I wasn’t sure I would care for it. But I ended up being so touched by it, and have recommended it to several people. Very quirky though! And last night we watched 84 Charing Cross Road and I liked it. Michael thought it was a little boring, but I thought it was worth watching. What have you seen recently that you would recommend?

Anyway, here’s the scarf I’m knitting.

The yarn is from the yarn company my daughter started and eventually sold, Three Irish Girls, and the colorway is “Cooler By the Lake.” A while back our city was visited by the King and Queen of Norway, and in honor of their arrival Sharon designed several colorways that represent notable parts of our city. The yarn was presented to the King and Queen, and then Sharon made it available later as limited editions. This yarn was dyed to look like a prominent tourist attraction in our harbor, the William A. Irvin ore boat and surroundings.

See the rusty/brownish color of the ship’s hull? And the gorgeous blue sky? And if you look you can see another of our landmarks, the gray Aerial Bridge right behind the ship to the left of the smokestack. Sharon combined these colors to make this colorway, and I think it’s unique and lovely.

I think it has a masculine look to it, but I won’t hesitate to wear this scarf if I end up keeping it for myself. Here’s another peek at the yarn that shows a bit more of the gray:

And the phrase “cooler by the Lake” is one heard a lot around here. Lake Superior has a tempering effect on the weather in Northeastern Minnesota, usually making the temps cooler by the Lake in the summertime, and a bit warmer in the winter.

If you would like to see the other colorways Sharon designed for the royals, you can click here to see photos.

Do you work on anything creative or crafty in the winter time? If so, what is it? If you would like to send me a photo of your project/s I’ll post it here too.

Have a blessed weekend…

Blessed is the Home…

January 21, 2013 | My Jottings

When I got out of bed this morning at 5:45, it was still dark. I padded down the hall in my Acorn slippers to the kitchen, turned on our outside light to check the temperature, and it was 17 degrees below zero. Or about minus 27 degrees Celsius. I had half hoped we would escape these bitter temps since January is 2/3 over and the globe is warming, but hey. Instead of fretting I started counting my blessings as I fed Edith and Mildred and let them out, laid out breakfast things, and started making lunches.

1. Our house is warm. This alone deserves about 647 thank yous. Thank you… thankyouthankyouthankyou Lord!
2. The flu has now left my body, and I’m feeling human again, and my skin doesn’t hurt at the merest touch.
3. I don’t have to finish An Episode of Sparrows if I don’t want to. I love Rumer Godden and really wanted to like it, but at page 100 I’m still not enjoying the book, so made the very unlike-me decision to take it back to the library.
4. I’ve had Eden’s Bridge on our CD player lately and had forgotten how much their music lifts my heart and touches my soul.
5. Michael and I might watch another episode from the 1970s series “All Creatures Great and Small” tonight.

This morning I also gave thanks that our garage is attached to our house, so starting the car in this weather is never an issue. I drove to Community Bible Study Leaders Council where the company of women, the prayers, the song and the discussion snatched the woe-is-me lenses off my nose and firmly placed the God Lenses there instead. What a relief that always is. The woe-is-me lenses are awful — do you have a pair too?

When I returned home I took my mittens off, hung up my coat, and exchanged my shoes for my indoor Acorns again. I let the dogs out of their kennels and they greeted me in their quirky Schnauzerly ways. Michael and Sara had gone to get some groceries. I did some tidying up, and felt happy that I actually knew what I was going to make for dinner tonight. I defrosted some very lean beef and made an old recipe for tiny baked meatballs with a homemade BBQ sauce, served with brown rice and marinated six-vegetable salad.

Then I decided to rest for a bit, since each day I still feel a little weak even though my fever has long gone, and I picked up my iPad to catch up on my Words With Friends game. Carolyn, Sara, Kay, Pat and I have leisurely games going, and I smiled as I chose the tiles to make my words and thought of the silly little connection I feel with the people I play with.

After about 15 minutes I got up and took this picture:

This apothecary cabinet holds our CDs and sits in a corner of our living room. The plaque on the wall behind it reads:

Blessed is the home where each puts
the other’s happiness first

You might be thinking that since we have this hanging so prominently, we live by this maxim in our home. But you would only be thinking that if you didn’t know me very well. If you know me at all, you know that this is something I strive/yearn/long/attempt to do, but alas, still struggle with.

I’m learning, though. And I know that the Lord is showing me how profound this admonition is in ways I never expected.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t take care of themselves or make their own needs a priority, or that wanting our own joy and happiness isn’t a good thing. But just think if everyone in a household tried to live this way for a month. In order for it to be the biggest blessing, everyone would have to do their part, but imagine how wonderful it could be.

In a family with a mom and dad and some children, think of what might happen if the husband put his wife’s happiness before his own. Then what would happen if the wife responded to that kind of sacrificial love and decided that she would put her husband at the top of her list that month? Then what if the children saw the harmony, tenderness, and the servant-hearted love between mom and dad, and they caught on in their own way, sharing their toys and helping out without being asked? And what if this became a habit, or at least the way things went in that household more often than not?

If I could go back and live my life over, this would be one of the things I would pursue most wholeheartedly, trying to live this way with God’s help. Since I am basically a very selfish person by nature, I would need God’s help to live this way for even one day, much less one month.

My daughters are grown now, and I’m not sure I modeled the words of this plaque very consistently for them when they were little. I think I did sometimes, but oh, how I wish I could undo a few words and actions that should have gone unsaid and undone.

But I do have today. There are still people in my home and in my life. And I have reached a point where I think the happiness of others in my care and in my family is a very worthy aim.

Bald Puppy

January 17, 2013 | My Jottings

I am still recovering from the flu….slowly feeling better but the operative word here is slowly. 🙂

Would you like to hear a song that played in my house a lot when I was a teeny-tiny girl? Click here and you can listen while reading. Have you heard it?

And here’s a sweet picture of six-month old Louisa, my eighth grandchild, that Sharon took at Christmas time. The two big dogs of their family love Louisa and she enjoys their maternal lickings and sniffings. According to Sharon, Rosie and Lucy (the two big dogs) call Louisa “Bald Puppy.”

Louisa’s hair is coming in golden blonde (apparently Rosie and Lucy haven’t noticed this yet or they wouldn’t be calling her Bald Puppy) and her long lashes are the same. She has a sweet temperament and smiles all the livelong day.

In no time at all she’ll be getting her driver’s permit and applying for colleges, so I thought documenting her first Christmas here on the blog was important.



January 14, 2013 | My Jottings

Do you ever listen to a song over and over again because you like it so much? I do that once in a while. When I was a little girl I had a very modern and hip record player in my bedroom. I took the white poodle lamp (with an umbrella as its shade) off of my round, pink-painted metal nightstand and put the record player there, and listened to music as I read Nancy Drew books. I bought long-playing albums sometimes, but I mostly chose the smaller 45s – they cost 99 cents at The May Company, the large department store in the mall near where I lived. Some of the 45s I owned and played repeatedly were: Venus by The Shocking Blue, Angel of the Morning by Merilee Rush, and Love Is Blue by Paul Mauriat. If I hear these songs today, the seasons and views of my Southern California youth come rushing back, sometimes accompanied by warm memories, sometimes not. And the lyrics are still engraved in my mind and I can sing along without missing a beat, although these days I’m more careful about what I put into my head.

I’ve been listening to a song a lot lately, on an older CD called City on a Hill with various artists. I have it in our van, and everyone knows it by heart now because I play it so much. The song is beautifully done, truly a prayer, as you will hear. It is so far removed in scope and portent from the songs of my childhood that there aren’t words to convey the contrast.

Here are the words, which should be very familiar to most, followed by a link so you can listen.


Our Father
Which art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy name
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done
Hallowed… hallowed…

Done on the earth as it is in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy name
Give us this our daily bread,
Hallowed… hallowed…

And please forgive all of our debts
Hallowed be Thy name
As we forgive our debtors
Hallowed… hallowed…

Lead us not into temptation’s lair
But deliver us from the evil snare
For Thine is the kingdom
Power and glory

Forever and ever, Amen…
Forever and ever, Amen…
Forever and ever, Amen…

Hallowed… hallowed…

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Click on the red word, then once it opens, click on the play arrow:

Hallowed – by Jennifer Knapp, accompanied by Phil Keaggy on guitar.

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These are the words of Jesus. Even though all believers know this prayer, this song helps me grasp in a fresh and powerful way what He wants for my life, and what His desire is for the lives of my children and grandbabies. This is what is on His heart for all of us this very day.

God bless you!

(updated from the archives…)

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing

January 8, 2013 | My Jottings

I thought I’d share with you a book I recently bought for each one of my grandchildren. I absolutely love it and think you might like to know about it too — it would be a wonderful gift, and an even better resource to keep at your house for when the little ones in your life visit.

It’s Sally Lloyd-Jones’ newest work, (along with the artist Jago), and it’s a devotional book for children.

I bought a copy to have here as well, and have almost finished reading through. The one-page, simple devotionals are powerful and tender and unique. They’re meant for children, but they have ministered deeply to my heart.

Here’s a short video about the book, with some of the illustrations:

Have a blessed week, dear family and friends….

Joy and Woe

January 7, 2013 | My Jottings

I love this quote below. I also believe that if we truly expected our lives to be woven both with joys and woes, and if we quit trying so hard to make our lives woe-free, we would have more peace and contentment.

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine,
Under every grief and pine,
Runs a joy with silken twine.
It is right it should be so,
We were made for joy and woe,
And when this we rightly know,
Through the world we safely go.

William Blake

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What do you think?

Birdhouse of Prayers

January 3, 2013 | My Jottings

We had a nice Christmas — did you? Was yours quiet and spacious? Or crowded and noisy? Did you have some good food? Or did you make some toast and eat a bag of M&Ms? Did you receive a gift or two, or did you abstain from all of that?

Our Christmas was blessed — anytime all my family members are under one roof is a blessing to me. Add to that zero arguments, no hurt feelings, no slammed doors and no burned meat, and that makes it extra special, I think. Not that many of my Christmases have been characterized by the above scenarios, but I’ve had a sad one or two in my lifetime. And I know that Christmas isn’t always the happiest time for many people.

On Christmas Eve everyone brought something to share for our dinner. Carolyn made the most mouth-watering Beef Burgundy, with tender chunks of sirloin, carrots and mushrooms in a rich dark sauce. I made my cheesy Stuffed Baked Potatoes (recipe and photos here), Sharon made Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts that were moanworthy, there was torn (not sliced) French bread to sop up the meat juices, and Sharon also brought a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pie that was so rich and delicious we almost couldn’t stand it.

We also sang some carols, and I mostly cried during that time, because “long lay the world, in sin and error pining, til He appeared and the soul felt its worth” and other lyrics like that always do me in. In a good way. There’s a song I always ask Jeremy and Carolyn to sing because I haven’t memorized it yet, and it’s Psalm 84 set to a Celtic-like melody that touches something so deep in my soul I almost can’t sit up straight when I hear it.

This year my dear friend Diane came all the way from Lompoc, California to spend Christmas with us. She and her guy Davey stayed with us for a few days, and since she and I have been friends for about 37 years, our time together was a treasure to me. She gave me an amazing heirloom gift that I will share about later in another post.

Here’s a gift I received from four of my grandchildren, and if you click on the photos to enlarge them, you’ll see it’s called the Birdhouse of Prayers. How appropriate is that?

The kids painted it, and several little slips of paper sit on the porch, for me to write down my prayers and put them in the birdhouse, letting go of whatever might be worrying me and leaving it with the Lord. I penned my first heartfelt plea yesterday, folded it solemnly and neatly, and placed it inside.

Seven year-old Vivienne painted the cardinals on the roof of the Birdhouse of Prayers.

This thoughtful gift will sit on a shelf in our bedroom, near our chairs where we sit in the mornings and read and pray together. I hope to use it until the day I die. 🙂

Did you give or receive a meaningful gift at Christmastime?

My One Word: Honor

January 2, 2013 | My Jottings

In my last post I mentioned how some folks have been choosing one word on which to focus in the new year. I believe I have my one word for 2013, and it is honor.

I chose this word (prayerfully and practically) because I feel that there are too many areas in my life where I am dishonoring God, myself, and sometimes, other people. When I say dishonoring, I don’t necessarily mean that in a strong way, but in a mild, thoughtless way. And those mild, thoughtless lapses, as opposed to the exceedingly harsh and premeditated ones that some people inflict on others, can be surprisingly damaging in their own way.

Take for example, a large boulder. That boulder could be crushed to bits by being picked up by a crane and dropped a time or two from a few hundred feet in the air. Or, the same boulder could be chipped away bit by bit with a hammer and chisel, taking years to do the damage. But the end result would be the same, wouldn’t it?

To honor someone means to hold someone in high esteem, or to regard them highly, or to give respect to someone due to their worth.

One thing I’ve seen in my country these past several years is a sad display of dishonor, especially regarding politics. I have a hard time seeing people who are believers in Jesus, call candidates such disrespectful names and speak in such haughty, disparaging ways. Republicans do no one any favors and accomplish so little when they rant about the crazy liberals and say that President Obama is of the devil. Democrats do no one any favors and accomplish so little when they rant about the wacko conservatives and make cruel fun of Mitt Romney, Presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, et al.

I am going to honor the leaders of my land. That means, to me, that I can respectfully disagree with them (and sometimes vehemently disagree with them), but I will not do so in a dishonoring way. I disagreed with some things that President George W. Bush did. I disagree with some of the things President Barack Obama has done. But I believe God created them both (and I do not know the hearts of either man no matter what words they say) and because they are created by Him, I will honor them, and the office they hold. (Now I realize there have been extreme situations out there, like Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, Stalin and so many others — I’m not saying they should have been paid honor as leaders and I don’t know how to tackle things like this, because I do believe there are times for civil disobedience — I’ll leave it to others who know what they’re doing when speaking of such atrocities. I’m just a simple, rambling blogger trying to figure my own life out.)

But what would happen if liberal believers just spoke up about their beliefs passionately and respectfully, cast their votes, and then in the end prayed for their elected leaders? What would happen if conservative believers just expressed their beliefs passionately and respectfully, cast their votes, and then in the end prayed for their elected leaders? (I Timothy 2:1-4: First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.)

That’s probably the only political statement I will ever make on this blog. I am part of a family with extremely conservative people in it, and with liberal people too. I will never allow those differences to come between me and the ones I love. And honor is a part of that.

In 2013, I am also asking God to help me honor my body, which is (miraculously, and I never quite get over this) a temple of the Holy Spirit. For Christians, this means that God has chosen to dwell in His people, rather than in the physical temple that existed thousands of years ago. I do not need to have a lamb or a pair of doves slaughtered to come into His presence and receive forgiveness for my many sins. I do not have to stand on the other side of a thick veil, waiting for a high priest to go into God’s holy presence behind the veil for me. Shockingly, I can go boldly (and hopefully humbly) into His presence any time, because Jesus died to accomplish this for anyone who trusts in Him. (Hebrews 4:16 — Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.)

I will most likely need a knee surgery sometime in 2013. And I know before I even see the surgeon that it would be prudent for me to lose a chunk of weight before I go under the knife. And if losing a chunk of weight were easy for me, if honoring my body were a regular part of my daily life, perhaps I wouldn’t even need knee surgery in the first place. This is sobering to me. And a little shameful.

So in 2013, I’m going to try to take small steps toward honoring this body I live in, which God says He fearfully and wonderfully made, no matter what it looks like. I’m a teeny, tiny bit afraid about this, because it’s an area of repeated failure in my life, and I’d really rather not deal with it. While I can’t yet envision huge changes, I know that today, I can take a step or two toward honoring this temple.

And let’s talk about honoring people, especially the ones under our own roofs. I have a dear friend named Tauni. She and I grew up just over the fence from each other in Southern California, and we’ve known each other since we were five and four years old. A while back Tauni shared with me that sometimes when she has a hard time not responding impatiently or in frustration with someone, she says under her breath (or in her mind) this prayer, “I want to honor God in all that I do. I want to honor God in all that I do. I will honor God in all that I do.” There’s truly something to be said for talking to ourselves, for preaching the truth to our own selves, especially when we’re having a hard time living what we know to be right. Tauni reminds herself what her life’s aim is, every time she has a hard time living it. How wise!

I believe I treat the people in my household kindly, and I do a lot for them. My life, these days, is one of service. I interrupt my own plans to make sure their plans happen. I make sure their needs are met. I try hard to schedule fun things for those I care for, because it makes me happy to see them smile and be happy. And God reminds me often through His holy nudges just how much He loves those I care for, and how much He wants me to show them His love.


Oh yes, there’s always a but, isn’t there?

I can often deal with the people in my home in a business-like, efficient manner, that leaves overt love and tenderness on the sidelines. I’m not saying I’m not loving or tender, I’m just saying that when I’m on autopilot, which is often, I’m not sure I’m highly esteeming those I care for as much as I want. I’m not sure I’m honoring them. When Michael is struggling with something that seems so simple to me, I’m not sure it’s honoring to him to sigh and say, “I’ll do it,” or “No, don’t you remember that the silverware is in this drawer?”

To me, honoring someone means remembering that no matter what their abilities are or aren’t, their worth is priceless because they’re God’s creation, and when I honor them, I honor God. And we don’t honor someone because they earn it, we honor them because they are human.

Honoring someone who has hurt you is very difficult. There’s a fine line in this, I realize. If someone has deeply hurt us but has demonstrated repentance and a willingness to get help and to change, then I think the Lord can help us to forgive them, and to honor them as a person, in spite of their flaws. Isn’t that what we hope others will do for us? I’m not an expert of course, but I think it might be important to say that if someone is abusing you, it pays them no honor whatsoever to allow them to abuse you. To enable someone to behave like a demon doesn’t help or honor them. But somehow I know God can help us behave in productive ways that bring truth to hard situations without disrespecting or reviling others. There must be a way to say to someone, “Because you are made by God and loved by Him, it’s wrong of you to treat me this way, because I am also made by God and loved by Him. I will do whatever it takes on my part to restore honor to our relationship, and I ask you to join me in getting help.”

I didn’t mean for my blog post to delve into relationship issues today, but I guess honoring people in the way that we speak, behave and forgive really would affect relationships. What if husbands would honor their wives by serving them humbly, listening carefully to them and treasuring them instead of turning to pornography? What if wives would honor their husbands by working hard to respect them even when it’s tough, and finding something to build them up about instead of turning away or trying to control them? It’s worth thinking about, at least. And if you know me at all, you know I’m not speaking from a high and lofty place. I speak from the low position of someone who has made some pretty destructive choices in my life.

I have a husband who has honored me for thirty-one years. And I have honored him with my love and faithfulness too, but I sense it’s time for something more on my part. I know that the Lord will empower me to do what He calls me to do, and I don’t even have to know ahead of time what those things will be. It helps me to know that He will equip me minute by minute, that the yoke of Jesus is light when I walk with Him, and that His forgiveness is quick and complete when I fail. It helps me to know that Jesus is actually rooting for me and is willing to go the distance with me.

I expect I will learn a lot more about what it means to honor others (and myself) this year. It’s only January 2nd and the little shaft of light shining on my path calls me toward my husband Michael right now, who is just waking from his first nap of the day.

And all these photographs above? These are the little cheery arrangements Sara placed around our house yesterday! I highly recommend having a floral designer in one’s family when at all possible.

I really enjoyed reading what your One Word choices were — thank you for your comments in the last post. Anyone else come up with One Word for 2013?

I ask for God’s blessing on your day…..