When we limit God

November 30, 2015 | My Jottings

My daughter Sharon sent this four minute video to me this morning and it’s mind-blowing. I love stuff like this because it helps me remember how immense and powerful God is. I think my prayers sometimes reveal how I limit God in my mind.

I don’t understand all of this, but I get enough of it to marvel once again at His power and majesty, and even more, at His love.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this…


November 28, 2015 | My Jottings

This morning I got up before the sun to let Edith and Millie out, and since it’s cold enough to form a layer of ice on area lakes now, of course I clicked up the heat first thing. After tidying up a bit I drove to the store to pick up a few groceries, and was going to see a movie too, but I decided against it at the last minute. I just wanted to come home.

First I drove to the cemetery, though. I was surprised to see that one of the large ponds has been drained, and the other one has frozen over enough for two grown men to be skating around on its glass-like and precarious looking surface, pushing a hockey puck around in front of their curved sticks.

I drove up the hill to Michael’s grave, and while there’s no snow on the ground yet, the blades of glass were glittering in their frostiness. I didn’t get out this time, but instead turned off the car and looked out across the beautiful view, and played this song from my new Sara Groves CD. I thought I would share it with you here. The lyrics follow the video.


Late nights, long hours
Questions are drawn like a thin red line
No comfort left over
No safe harbor in sight

Really we don’t need much
Just strength to believe
There’s honey in the rock,
There’s more than we see

In these patches of joy
These stretches of sorrow
There’s enough for today
There will be enough tomorrow

Upstairs a child is sleeping
What a light in our strain and stress
We pray without speaking
Lord help us wait in kindness

Really we don’t need much
Just strength to believe
There’s honey in the rock,
There’s more than we see

In these patches of joy
These stretches of sorrow
There’s enough for today
There will be enough tomorrow

(Words and music by Sara Groves, Sarah Masen and Julie Lee)

*         *         *         *         *         *

I love this song, and have played it numerous times today, hoping its truths will buoy up my downward-prone thoughts. The words, “In these patches of joy, these stretches of sorrow, there’s enough for today, there will be enough tomorrow” helped my soul today.

Indeed, life does seem like the times of sorrow can be long stretches, and the times of joy more like small patches. Reading that someone else experiences life in this way too, is a comfort. And I sensed God’s nudge, reassuring me: “There’s enough for today, there will be enough tomorrow.”

I sat listening to these words and cried as I looked at Michael’s headstone and felt again how final death is. On this earth at least.

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After a few minutes I started my car and slowly drove away, down the hill and around on the road that skirts the woods, toward the pond and the ice skaters, past the few straggling ducks and geese huddling together in the tiny part of the drained pond that hasn’t completely frozen yet. As Sara Groves sang, “There’s honey in the rock, there’s more than we see,” I wiped my tears on my coat sleeve and whispered my thanks to God.

“But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”  Psalm 81:16

Wednesday’s Word-Edition 122

November 25, 2015 | My Jottings

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“But what if the great secret insider-trading truth is that you don’t ever get over the biggest losses in your life? Is that good news, bad news, or both?

The good news is that if you don’t seal up your heart with caulking compound, and instead stay permeable, people stay alive inside you, and maybe outside you, too, forever.

This is also the bad news, not because your heart will continue to hurt forever, but because grief is so frowned upon, so hard for even intimate bystanders to witness, that you will think you must be crazy for not getting over it. You think it’s best to keep this a secret, even if it cuts you off from certain aspects of life, like, say, the truth of your heart, and all that is real.

The pain does grow less acute, but the insidious palace lie that we will ever get over crushing losses means that our emotional GPS can never find true north, as it is based on maps that no longer mention the most important places we have been to.

Pretending that things are nicely boxed up and put away robs us of great riches.”

From “Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair” by Anne Lamott

No humbugging allowed

November 20, 2015 | My Jottings

I got up the other morning around 5:50, and Sara (who is recovering from jet lag after her month-long trip to Ireland, Scotland and England), had put up the Christmas tree, had carols playing on the stereo, had festooned our dining room mantel with ribbon and holly and stockings, and was generally jump-starting us into the Christmas spirit. I usually consider it early if our tree is put up the day after Thanksgiving. We’ve never had our tree up before Thanksgiving. I think my children are trying to prevent me from becoming Mrs. Scrooge, so I’m trying to cooperate. I am firm in my resolve to not utter the words bah or humbug this year.

I’ll post more photos in the next weeks, but here are a few today. You can click to enlarge if you like:




Two cherished gifts are on our couch — the cardinal pillow from Peggy, and the quilt from Helen. I. Love. Them.


And of course Mendelssohn the moose is doing his part to bring a smile.


And here’s a picture of our parakeet Phoebe, who is almost five months old now. We can’t get over how much we love her. She chatters and peeps and plays with her toys, and eyes us warily if we try to get her to eat a millet spray from our hands.


I see many parakeets online who sit on their owner’s shoulder or hand and I’ve tried all the tricks recommended, but Phoebe isn’t buying it yet.

Maybe the Christmas decorations will put her in the mood.

A Saturday Hodgepodge

November 14, 2015 | My Jottings

I’m taking it easy in our brown leather living room recliner this evening, with the television tuned to America’s Test Kitchen on PBS, and our aging Schnauzers Edith and Millie nearby. I’m a bit tired and sore from Rug Doctoring my living room carpet today. In my younger years I used to steam clean our carpets every other year, but it’s been 3 1/2 years since this carpet has been done. It needed cleaning badly. We don’t wear shoes or even dirty socks on the carpet, and we have one of those ridiculously expensive and powerful vacuums, yet the dirty water in the Rug Doctor container was almost black when I finished.

I took a few Ibuprofen for my complaining joints, soaked in the tub while listening to the relaxing hymns station on Pandora, and then made myself a cup of tea to sip while the sun goes down and the shadows on the front deck lengthen.

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For dinner tonight we’ll have a wonderful Chicken Curry Stew, made with Yukon gold potatoes, carrots, peas, coconut milk, and other delicious ingredients, served over basmati rice, and I like mine sprinkled with a few cashew pieces, raisins, and a handful of fresh chopped cilantro.

I read a great book yesterday, called Newlyweds Afloat by a fabulous local writer named Felicia Schneiderhan. Felicia and her husband Mark spent their first two years of marriage living on a trawler in Chicago. Her memoir of their meeting, romance, adventures on his boat Mazurka, and eventual move to Northern Minnesota was wonderfully written and I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended.

I also just finished Susan Branch’s newest book called The Fairy Tale Girl, and it was a visual feast and so enjoyable to read.

I have about six other books on my nightstand and am not sure which one will be opened next; should I finish Elisabeth Elliot’s book on discipline and surrender? I could use some of both. Should I read the book about visiting Ireland as a “creaky traveler” who is mobile but not agile? That’s appropriate too. Or I could finish Beth Moore’s new book entitled Audacious, which I had to set aside because it made me sob and sob.

My youngest daughter Sara has been gone a month, traveling solo through Ireland, England and Scotland, and she returns tomorrow night. She basically took the trip of my dreams and I’m excited to have her home again so she can tell me about everything and cause my internal yearn-o-meter to spike to new highs.

A couple of Netflix movies I’ve seen recently are The Drop Box and the new documentary about Glen Campbell called I’ll Be Me. I recommend both.

I’ve been asked to do an opening at Community Bible Study next month so I’m working on that a bit. The opening is 10-12 minutes of one person’s sharing, right before we go to discuss our lessons in our Core Groups. I know what I’ll be speaking on, but as always happens, the closer I get to the time to speak, the more oatmealish my brain becomes. I hate that phenomenon in my life. I am happy to be asked to share, feel grateful for direction from God on what my topic will be, and then soon things get dark and thick and blurry, like I’m navigating through porridge. It makes me second guess myself each time, but I just pray, cry, prepare, and go.

Speaking of second guessing, Sara Groves has a new CD out called “Floodplain” and it’s on repeat in my car stereo. I love it already. Her song “Second Guess Girl” is one of my favorites, and if you like, you can listen to it here. I love Sara Groves’ humility and transparency. She shares in liner notes and in clips online about how she’s been paralyzed by anxiety and depression these past several years, and how friends came together to help her get this album out. I like people who tell the truth about their lives and don’t act like life is a merry skipping down the path called Tra-la-la. I think real bonds can form between people when they’re honest with each other.

All of our autumn color is gone now, and the bare trees provide a beautiful view of Lake Superior each day. Big snowflakes, the first of the season, blew around for a few hours the night before last, but nothing stuck on the ground in my neck of the woods. It will come soon enough.

Michael has been gone for 271 days now. The waves of grief are still huge and they knock me down, but they are coming with less frequency now. I still watch the slideshow Sharon created for his funeral, at least every other day. If you’ve never seen it, click here and turn your speakers up. It fills me with so many strong emotions to watch it. I wonder if I will watch it off and on for the rest of my life?

This will be our first Thanksgiving without him. And our first Christmas. All the empty firsts.

Thank you for stopping by….I’d love to know what you’re reading, what music you’re enjoying, or any good movies you’ve seen lately.

In His grip,

Vivie’s Cardinal

November 11, 2015 | My Jottings

My granddaughter Vivienne spent the night last weekend and we had a nice, quiet time together. I took her out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants and she had a huge multi-grain pancake with homemade raspberry syrup. I had a Cobb salad, which I think I could eat at least three times a week.

We also played Farkle and Battleship, and watched a Tim Hawkins video at her request. It made me so happy to see her laughing hard at some of his comedy routines.

Vivie loves to draw and is already a serious artist for her age, so she always spends time with her head bent over some paper when she’s here. She made a little Bird Book, and drew dragons with scales and pug dogs with little triangle ears.

Before I drove her home on Sunday, she took the red wax from a tiny Babybel cheese I gave her, and in about five minutes sculpted a little cardinal from it. Even its wings and back have little delineations to represent his feathers.


I haven’t seen a cardinal in a long time. They’re still rare this far north.

So I put this little guy on the side of a candlestick on my dining room mantel, to remind me of wonderful Vivie (who is almost 10), of hope, of beauty, and God’s faithfulness.

Sometimes we do need to be reminded.

What reminds you of God’s faithfulness?