A good man, his wife, and one of their dogs

February 28, 2014 | My Jottings

Our daughter Sharon has been saying for a long while that she wanted to take some pictures of the grandchildren with Grandpa. So last week she arranged for Carolyn to bring her four children over, and Sharon brought her own four, and she set up a little spot in our bedroom for a makeshift studio.

One by one the kids came in, sat on grandpa’s lap, gave him hugs and kisses, and smiled for the camera, and I look forward to seeing the proofs when Sharon is done editing them.

At the very end she had Michael and me sit on the edge of our bed for a mini-photo session of our own. She’s a great photographer and knows how to almost effortlessly direct you to lift your chin, turn your head, clean your nose, pick the spinach from your teeth and so on.

I haven’t seen all the pictures she took of Michael and me yet, but this is the one she liked best, and sent to me last week. Millie photo-bombed the shot, but that is so entirely like Millie it just seems right. She’s always trying to be the center of attention in our house.


Millie seems to be saying, “This is my best side, I’ll stand still and look toward the window while you get a good shot.”

Michael seems to be saying, “Hello wife.”

Inside I’m really thinking, “This is the man who rescued me and shows me how to trust Jesus, live in grace, and suffer with patience and dignity.”

I hope  you all have a blessed weekend…

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 111

February 26, 2014 | My Jottings

The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.


And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

~~ C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity

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A few quick thoughts…

February 23, 2014 | My Jottings

If you don’t live where I live and you visit this blog once in a while, you’re probably tired of reading about the snow and cold. If you do live where I live, you’re probably tired of living with the snow and cold. Unless you just skied the Birkebeiner or have visited the ice caves or love winter camping. Two days ago we had another storm and fifteen inches of new snow piled on top of the many feet already on the ground. Here’s a photo of our front steps, leading to the drifts that are almost seven feet high.


Foolishly, I always look ahead to see what good news of spring-like temperatures the forecast brings, and am learning I should just let it be. This coming Thursday the predicted low will be around -20 degrees. I must be done talking about this. There are things to smile about, and beauty to be noticed.

Here’s some beauty:


A simple white pitcher of alstroemeria, a long lasting flower that stayed fresh and lovely for nineteen days. I enjoyed it every single day.

Here’s some more beauty:


This is a large rectangular table-top arrangement Sara did for a friend’s birthday party. So modern and different!

Here’s something to smile about:


This view of Mildred and Edith caused Sara and me to sing “We had joy, we had fun, we had Schnauzers in the sun…” over and over until we giggled hard. If you have no idea what song we’re referring to, click here. It’s quite a heartbreaking song about death, really.

Here’s something else to smile (or chortle) about:


I was ten years old, and in the fifth grade at Workman Avenue Elementary School in West Covina, California. My teacher was Mrs. Helen Rorex and I adored her. I also had a crush on a class mate named Duane Edmunsen, but he wasn’t similarly inclined. Where should I start with this school picture? With the hair and the bow (which, by the way, my mother thought were beautiful)? Or with the little pin on the improperly turned turtleneck collar? Or maybe we should focus on those teeth, the ones that inspired my brother to lovingly make rodent noises with his upper teeth against his lower lip and call me Bucky Beaver all those many delightful years ago? (I know…he had the gift of encouragement.) When I look at this picture I smile at that smile, and am filled with gratitude for the orthodontia my parents secured for me the very next year.

Lately I have so much to write about and keep turning it all over in my mind, but just can’t get it out in print yet. I want to share about my granddaughter Li’l Gleegirl and what happened with her recently. It was a turning point in my life, of sorts. I have much to share about Michael, but hardly know how to begin. So I think and pray, put one foot in front of the other, and think and pray some more.

And I’ve been pondering Bucket Lists. I’ve always resisted that phrase since it seems so trendy, but I’ll go with it today. Here’s something on my list of things I’d like to do before I die:


Someday I’d like to spend an extended period of time in a cottage in the Highlands of Scotland, with some books, some tea, a continually blazing fire in the hearth and a good, clean, comfortable bed.

What kind of beauty do you see today? What makes you smile? What’s on your bucket list?

The effects of encouragement

February 16, 2014 | My Jottings

My husband encouraged me today. I don’t know how he does it, but with very few words he usually manages, with his smile, his mercy and his (deceived) high opinion of me, to lift my mood. Not always, mind you. He’s not a miracle worker. Jesus is my miracle worker. But the couple of things Michael said to me today made me reflect again on how important it is to encourage someone. Anyone. I want to get better at encouraging those I love.

Several summers ago, nine of my favorite women crowded into our den each Tuesday morning for our annual summer Bible study, and we did Mary Kassian’s Conversation Peace. If you clicked on the link, do not be deceived by the whimsical, cartoonish member book. The study was brutal. And glorious. And for me, one of the most needed studies I’ve ever done. I still think about it years later.

On page 96 of my member book, I wrote myself a little note with an arrow pointing to a paragraph that impacted me: put on blog, I scribbled. Along with learning to hold my tongue, listen more, not exaggerate, and seventy-three other almost impossible tasks related to godly speech, I learned a lot about encouragement from this study.

With credit and admiration to Mary Kassian, here’s a little story quoted from Week Five of Conversation Peace:

His mother was not home, but the young boy wanted to draw, so he got out the bottles of ink and enlisted his sister as a model. The young artist made an inky mess of his hands, clothes, table, and floor. Just as he was finishing his work, his mother returned. For a moment, she stood in the door and silently took in the scene. Then, instead of scolding him, she picked up the portrait and declared, “What a beautiful picture of your sister!” and kissed him. Later in life, the great artist Benjamin West recounted, “With that kiss, I became a painter!”

Benjamin West was a prolific American painter who was born in Pennsylvania in 1738 and died in 1820. Here’s one of my favorite paintings of his, called, “The Incredulity of St. Thomas.”


From John, chapter 20:

Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”  But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

In this amazing painting, without even being able to see Thomas’s face, we can tell what he was thinking, how suddenly everything had changed for him.

I can’t help but think about Benjamin West’s mother when I see his paintings, and the power her words had on her son.

I want so much to be a better encourager, and today I’m thankful for the opportunity to try.

The Glory of God

February 12, 2014 | My Jottings

(updated from the archives….)

I have been a Christian since I was twelve years old. I began to learn about Jesus when I was three, and knew at a young age that He loved me and that I needed to look to Him for everything.  Even though my life has taken some pretty ugly twists and turns, I always knew Jesus was the answer. Someday I hope to share my testimony of faith on the blog, but today I want to write about the glory of God.

I have heard people say, “Well, glory to God!”, and “To God be the glory” and other similar phrases all my life, but never really got it. Not that I was really anxious to understand what the glory of God was all about. It sounded kind of hyper-religious and old-school to me. However, I did want to learn to love and obey the God who so loved me that He would give His Son to die for my crimes against Him and others. I wanted to know more about Him. I have yearned to know His Word better. But until a couple of years ago, I didn’t give much thought to “the glory of God”.

I am finding that if our hearts are open to it, God has a way of causing the things that are important to Him to become important to us. And that is what has been happening in my life.

One of my kindest and most faithful friends, Laurel, shared a wonderful definition with me years ago about how she used to explain to her children what it meant to try to “bring glory to God.” She would tell her children that for them to glorify God meant that they needed to make sure what they said and did made Him look good to other people. That their lives would point to Him and cause Him to be praised and thought well of. I loved that definition, and have been on a slow journey ever since, wanting more and more to make my Jesus look good because of anything I do or say.

How I fail at this! I mean, big time. But the most wonderful thing is that He has been changing my heart so that I want different things. The older I get, the more I understand how much better life is if I want what He wants. And He is becoming more precious to me, so I long to see others come to see Him for all He is too.

Not that God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth needs my help polishing His image and protecting His reputation. That’s not what bringing glory to God is all about. He isn’t interested in people glorifying Him because He has a universe-sized ego and needs the constant affirmation. He knows, in ways we can’t begin to fully understand, that when we desire to bring His beautiful character into clearer focus through our puny, blurry lives here on earth, something lasting and powerful happens. He knows what is best for me, and even though there are times my flesh disputes what He allows, I still choose Him. I trust Jesus, and ask Him daily for grace to trust Him more.

Andree Seu says, ‘”The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” quoth Henry David Thoreau. But I know a better quote: Malcolm Muggeridge said the happiest person in the world is the woman who sweeps out her house to the glory of God…’

And so I looked up some things in my Bible about this, and these three verses lit up:

Psalm 115:1 — Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. (NIV)

1 Corinthians 10:31 — So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (NIV)

Romans 12:1 — So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.  (The Message)

So today I am going to sweep out my house to the glory of God. I will fold the mounds of laundry for His good pleasure. I will make dinner, write out bills, do my paperwork, read my Bible, help my husband, endure what little suffering I’m experiencing, perhaps hold my tongue, write on this blog, pray for my family and friends, as an offering to Jesus.


No one else will see me, but He will. And He has enough pain and grief to observe with all that’s transpiring in the world today – maybe I’m strange enough to actually believe that a few simple, hidden acts done with my mind and heart set on Him, will actually bring a smile to that great Face.

The enemy of our souls works hard to make us believe the lie that “sweeping out our houses” to the glory of God makes no difference at all. I used to believe that lie.

I don’t anymore.

Praying and hoping and sweeping with you,

Hannah’s Prayer

February 11, 2014 | My Jottings

Apparently this video has been around for a while, but I’m out of the loop and saw it for the first time the night before last. Sara came into our room right after we went to bed so Michael and I could watch this on her laptop. If you haven’t seen it, you will love it. You might even laugh. You might even cry. I did both.

Little Hannah starts off slowly, but gets going in prayer with her mother’s encouragement and I couldn’t help but wonder what God thinks of this little beauty. Someone, somewhere, is bringing joy to the heart of God.

My first laugh came when I heard Hannah say in prayer, “And Lord we’re not supposed to raise our voice to our pastor!” I think that’s a good motto to live by, don’t you?

I also like how she said “You can do anything Lord! You can fix this whole house!”

Is there anyone among us who doesn’t earnestly desire for Jesus to come and fix our whole house?

His ways are not our ways…

February 10, 2014 | My Jottings

I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.

I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.”


“This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”
He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”

I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.

I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.

Martha Snell Nicholson

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Somewhere Down the Road

February 7, 2014 | My Jottings

Hello friends! I hope things are good with all of you.

Below, you can click on the dark red title to this song and a little player will open. Make sure your speakers are turned up. Then click on the right-pointing play arrow and the song will play. The lyrics are below if you’re like me and like to follow along.


I love this song and it means so much to us right now….

Somewhere Down The Road

So much pain and no good reason why
You’ve cried until the tears run dry
And nothing here can make you understand
The one thing that you held so dear
Is slipping from your hand
And you say

Why, why, why?
Does it go this way
Why, why, why?
And all I can say is

Somewhere down the road
There’ll be answers to the questions
Somewhere down the road
Though we cannot see it now
And somewhere down the road
You will find mighty arms reaching for you
And they will hold the answers at the end of the road

Yesterday I thought I’d seen it all
I thought I’d climbed the highest wall
Now I see the learning never ends
And all I know to do is keep on walking
Walking round the bend singing

Why, why, why?
Does it go this way
Why, why, why?
And all I can say is

Somewhere down the road
There’ll be answers to the questions
Somewhere down the road
Though we cannot see it now
And somewhere down the road
You will find mighty arms reaching for you
And they will hold the answers at the end of the road

Written by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Amy Grant

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Under this umbrella…

February 2, 2014 | My Jottings

Sometimes it’s so natural to experience and revel in the love God has for us. Other times we look around and wonder how the love of God is being expressed in some of the difficult things we’re going through, or all the tragedies we see in our world. For me, it comes down to one thing — either God loves His children, or He doesn’t. Either He loves me, or He doesn’t love me.


If He does, we know everything will make sense someday, and can trust Him as He sovereignly works out His plan in this universe. If God doesn’t love us, then every sunrise, every newborn baby, tiny flower, vast galaxy, each strand of DNA and mind-boggling nudibranch mean absolutely nothing.

I love these words from the hymn “The Love of God,” by Lehman:

“Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade.
To write the love of God above, would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.”

This is the umbrella that shelters me from life’s storms today.

I must remember He loves me.

And He loves you…