Laughter and Longing

September 22, 2016 | My Jottings

Almost two weeks ago I took one of my fosters and three granddaughters to see Christian comedian Tim Hawkins in concert in Minneapolis. I’ve seen him three times now and he just keeps getting funnier and more worth seeing. He usually comes to Minnesota each fall, so I told my friend Su that she and her husband Danny should come down with us next year, because they like Tim too. I think spending an entire two hours laughing is time well spent. I honestly don’t see a lot on television or in the newspapers these days that make me want to bend over at the waist and howl with laughter.

We had premium seats, which meant that we were a little closer in the huge church to the stage. It was a packed house, but we got there a little early, and here’s a picture of my granddaughter Vivienne taking in the digital wizardry that’s part of the pre-show.


I took the kids to IHOP the next morning where everyone ordered different kinds of pancakes (red velvet?) along with sausage or bacon, and then we made the drive home, singing off and on to “G.T. and the Halo Express” for most of the almost three hours until I dropped them all off.

I’m still walking (sometimes strolling is a better word, considering a recent mysterious injury in my left knee) in the cemetery a couple times a week, often with my friend Su. This is the time of year when it seems almost transcendent to be there. I walk through the quiet paths overhung by huge, old trees that are beginning to turn color, and the fall wind hints of winter as it blows through my hair and makes my eyes water. I see squirrels hurrying around with their winter preparations, and watch the geese eat the grass and squabble at each other before taking off in unison into the sky to go investigate the next pond over. At the cemetery and during this time of year, it almost seems like I can hear the whispers of heaven, but just not quite. Do I think this because my beloved’s body lies beneath the earth in this place? Is it because in a place of the dead I’m reminded that this earthly life is only a preview of what is to come? I don’t know how to put the right words to it, I only know that when I’m there in the cool mornings, it feels like the unseen veil between this life and the next gets thinner and thinner.

I’m often intrigued by the headstones, and I took a few pictures last week.


Su and I walk by this grave all the time and it always makes me want to chuckle. I wonder if Mr. or Mrs. Terryberry ever got teased for their last name? Did kids do that sort of thing a century ago? Or was Terryberry a normal last name and it was no big deal? I wonder if there are any Terryberrys today? And could there possibly be a married couple out there somewhere named Barry and Terri Terryberry?

In July the fierce storm that ripped through our city and downed thousands of trees really hit the cemetery badly. There are scenes like this all over, even though the cleanup is still ongoing:


And I can never resist taking some pictures of how gorgeous things get in our neck of the woods every late September:


Are the leaf colors changing where you live? This is one of the things I love most about living in Minnesota.

I think Alma and Herbert Krause say it well:


As I get older, Christ is my ever increasing hope too. When I am completely stuck day after day on what I’ll say at the women’s retreat in October, Christ is my hope. When my older grands are losing interest in being with their grandma (which I know is so normal), Christ is my hope. When relationship troubles baffle and depress me, Christ is my hope. When prayers seem to go unanswered, Christ is my hope. When some days seem full of promise and others seem interminably mundane, Christ is my hope. When our country is broiling in violence, Christ is my hope. When friendships founder, Christ is my hope. When Michael’s absence seems too much to survive, Christ is my hope.

I realize that might sound a bit one-dimensional and simplistic to some, but it’s the truth I cling to. And perhaps more accurately, I believe it is the truth that clings to me.

Wind chimes in early autumn

September 2, 2016 | My Jottings

Today feels like fall, even though astronomically it’s still summer. Last night was the first night in months that we’ve slept with our windows wide open instead of keeping the central air conditioner on. It was glorious. The sun is lower in the sky these days and the light coming in the windows has that tell-tale golden glow I love. Why, oh why, does autumn seem to last six weeks, and a Minnesota winter can sometimes last six months?

I attended a foster care meeting this morning, and since my original late morning/early afternoon plans were rescheduled, I came home to work on something quite daunting that I’m trying not to be daunted about.

I’ve been praying and reading, journaling and praying, avoiding prayer and study altogether, eating peanuts, studying hard and pleading-praying….all in preparation for my speaking at our local Community Bible Study retreat in October. I have never spoken at a retreat before. I really wonder how in the world I am going to teach on Corrie ten Boom’s life for three sessions to a group of very spiritually mature women. But I keep going back to the comforting knowledge that if God has something He would like to impart to these ones He loves so deeply, I can trust Him to help me know what that is. I do trust Him, I just don’t trust my own ears and heart and eyes to catch it all sometimes.

After some study time in my comfy plaid bedroom chair, I moved to my office to start pecking away at the thoughts and notes I have. I opened the sliding glass door in my office so I can hear the lovely deep wind chimes that hang on a bird feeder pole right outside, and I can also hear soft strains of Bob Bennett’s CD “Lord of the Past” playing in the dining room. Millie the Schnauzer is schnoozing on my bed, someone in the neighborhood is mowing their lawn for possibly the last time this year, and I have no idea what’s for dinner.

Here’s a distorted panoramic picture of what I see in my office right now. You can click to enlarge it if you’d like.

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I took my foster gals to the Minnesota State Fair a few days ago. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive south, and the fair is said to be one of the best in America. We spent the night in a hotel the night before, so we could arrive at the massive fairgrounds when the gates opened and before the heat became mean and punishing. I think my gals had a good time; one had never been to our famous fair before and the other hadn’t been in decades.

There are a zillion foods on a stick there. Corn on the cob, deep-fried Snickers candy bars, pork chops, peach-glazed pig cheeks, teriyaki chicken, stuffed Italian meatloaf, and cheesecake, to name a few. All on a stick. AZ-GizmosI had a Gizmo Sandwich because crazy food man Andrew Zimmern said it was the best sandwich of the fair, and it was pretty good. I also had some fresh squeezed lemonade.

Throughout the day, my fosters had mini-doughnuts, Gizmos, foot-long hot dogs, pork chops on a stick, cheese curds, cotton candy flavored blue ice cream (gah!), and more.

We walked what felt like seventeen miles in the sauna-like heat to the Pet Building on the f-a-a-a-r side of the fair, so we could pet the dogs of the day, which were Samoyeds, German Shepherds, and Schnauzers. My gals got their caricatures drawn, drove go-carts around a track while the theme song to “Happy Days” played, rode in round, twirling water rafts, went down the undulating giant slide, and bought shockingly priced souvenirs. We loved The Miracle of Birth Building, and were able to see chicks hatching, gently pet newborn pigs, sheep and goats, and stand around a huge pen full of straw while a poor, straining Holstein mama tried to bring her calf into the world with hundreds of people watching.

We spent five hours at the fair, and if my knees had been better behaved and the temperature not 90 degrees, we would have stayed longer. We ended up missing the sculptures of the State Fair Queen and her court 08_782874__10FAIR082214_30646457(sculpted out of huge blocks of butter), didn’t go to the building with the quilts and cakes, nor the one with the newest innovative household tools and gadgets. In the late 1990s I bought the best broom I’ve ever owned at the state fair. Had we stayed later we could have heard the Lovin’ Spoonful perform too, but when one is approaching sixty and has screaming knees, concessions must be made.

And we’ll be heading down to the Twin Cities again soon, to see our favorite comedian, Tim Hawkins. Michael and I have seen him before, and I’m taking my foster gals and three of my grandchildren this time. I so look forward to seeing Tim in concert. I don’t laugh at his jokes and antics merely because it’s a comedy show; I laugh because I can’t help myself. I think he’s hysterically funny, and I need the medicine that laughter is. If you’re not familiar with Tim Hawkins, here’s a link to initiate you.

Well, the wind chimes are still softly sounding outside my office here. The curtains are moving the slightest little bit with each whispering breeze that brings the lovely cool fall air into our home. There are a few leaves here and there that are turning orange.

I hope your Labor Day weekend is a peaceful one…