November 17, 2016 | My Jottings
My friend Denel flew in to Minnesota last Thursday for our latest Lupi-Soo Convention. There are only two people in attendance at the convention whenever it convenes — Denel and me. If you’re new here, we got the name for our occasional long-weekend gatherings by combining the first parts of our maiden names; thus, Lupiani and Sooter became Lupi-Soo. When we were ten we thought about opening The Lupi-Soo Girls Detective Agency but it never got off the ground. I can’t remember why — maybe we couldn’t get financing or something.
Denel and I met in Colorado for a long weekend once, and stayed in a cabin 9000 feet above sea level in the Rockies. Then we met in Seattle and stayed there and on Bainbridge Island. We went on a cruise to Alaska another time, and there have been some Lupi-Soo Conventions in Duluth, out of necessity.
This time, however, we headed north to Lutsen. It would be unfortunate if that tiny place on the North Shore of Lake Superior was pronounced as it looks phonetically. Instead, it’s pronounced LOOTS-en, for those of you trying to stay accurate. Denel and I stayed in a two bedroom log cabin right on the shore of the Lake, and it was heaven.
Here we are, 52 years into our friendship, the first day at the cabin, out on the deck.
It was wonderful to drive along such scenery with no particular time commitments. We stopped for a late lunch in Beaver Bay at a great little spot called The Lemon Wolf Cafe. We listened to music and enjoyed some worship songs sung by Denel’s daughter Nicole. We arrived a bit early at the Lutsen Resort and were pleasantly surprised to find our cabin was ready, so we unloaded the car, surveyed the cabin with happy anticipation, and went out on the deck to exclaim about God’s creation. I’ve said this before, but I never get over how Lake Superior looks like the ocean. Awe-inspiring in all its moods.
We drove north to Grand Marais, MN and shopped for a few groceries at Gene’s Grocery store. We stopped into a little place called the Java Moose, where Denel had a deep chocolate coffee and I had a hot chai tea.
We decided that we would sleep in on Saturday and have breakfast at home before meandering back north for exploring.
Friday night we ate at the resort’s dining room and I had Beef Wellington for the first time. Our table was the one in the picture above, set for two near the middle window and radiator, although it was dark when we ate. Denel had a salad and we split Swedish Creme for dessert. The outside temperatures were in the high forties and the winds were blustery, so we were looking forward to a fire in our wood stove when we returned to our cabin and put on our jammies. Try as we might, our fire would not stay lit, so we had to enlist some staff help and a young man arrived who blasted the kindling and wood with a blow torch.
Here’s a little video of Denel, the fire, some Van Morrison music, and part of our delightful home away from home.
Denel’s room had two double beds, mine had one king bed, which was super comfortable.
I tried to sleep in late since for a change I could, but I think my clock is permanently set from years of early rising, and I was up at dawn on Saturday, soaking in this gorgeousness:
We did our Bible studies, oohed and aahed over the sunrise on the lake, and took our time before heading back into little Grand Marais for the day. I had hoped we could lunch at The Crooked Spoon Cafe, which has scrumptious food, but they were closed for the winter. I had hoped we could have a donut from The World’s Best Donuts (they are) but they were closed for the winter. Boo. So for lunch we ate at a rustic, lively restaurant called My Sister’s Place. Our food was fantastic. Denel had the Reuben sandwich with sweet potato fries, and I had the Twin Sisters cheeseburger with a half order of onion rings. We both ate from each other’s plates and agreed the food was moan-worthy. Here’s my friend looking like we both felt — so happy to be together.
We left some stray fries/rings on our plates, but not many.
On Saturday night after wandering around Grand Marais, browsing in the Lake Superior Trading Post and the quirky Ben Franklin store, we came home and watched a few episodes of a show I’d never seen, recommended by Denel’s daughter. Have any of you seen Parenthood? We were interested right away.
The Super Moon was shining down on the turbulent lake, and we went outside on the deck to praise the silvery beauty God allowed us to see. I can’t imagine anyone ever tiring of seeing the work of His hands.
Later the next day I took a panoramic picture with my iPhone, and this was the view from our cabin deck.
We checked out of our cabin on Sunday morning, bought matching souvenir mugs from the gift shop so we’d drink our tea and coffee 1200 miles apart and still remember, and when we got close to Duluth we stopped at The New Scenic Cafe for lunch. The Scenic is the place for foodies, and for people who like their food to look artistic as well as to cause them to roll their eyes with every bite. I had to take a picture of the dessert we split: “Semolina Cake infused with orange blossom water honey, apricots, pistachios, cardamom ice cream and ginger fairy floss.” Oh my gosh. Such unexpected and delectable textures and tastes.
Denel flew home on Monday and we each returned to our respective jobs. She’s a therapist in SoCal, I’m an adult foster provider in NoMin. Back to our paperwork, appointments, homes, dogs, adult children and grands, and in some ways, back to the sorrows we each face. But both of us know that our sorrows are in the hands of Jesus, and we both wait on Him to do whatever He’s going to do. We’re trusting Him with our hearts and with all those we love. And for the record, the Lord has piled our lives high with many joys, too.
Being together every year or two is a blessed respite. Denel and I reminisce, because our history together is so long. I knew her mom Millie when she (Millie) was younger than my own children are now! Gah. Denel and I cry together, pray together, laugh and sing and eat, and look forward to heaven together.
And we know that if heaven happens to be a ways off, we can have the next best thing, and plan for another future Lupi-Soo Convention, where the two sole members will convene to revel in decades of friendship.
A Blessed Week
November 4, 2016 | My Jottings
Usually by this time of the year we have really cold weather, but today it was sixty degrees and I had to open windows in the house. I remember an early November years ago, right after I married Michael and moved to Minnesota, when there was already two feet of snow on the ground and the wind chills were below zero. No one is complaining about this late summery fall we’re having.
Last Saturday was the Community Bible Study Leaders Council Retreat, and it was a wonderful day. It’s never easy to tell how things go from the speaker’s perspective, but I had the most gracious, attentive, encouraging, welcoming audience, and they put me at ease immediately. I enjoyed being with everyone, our wonderful lunch provided by the Servants Team, and the beauty of the ankle-deep carpets of fallen leaves all around us at Covenant Park Bible Camp.
I spoke/shared for three sessions, and they were roughly divided into the topics of how the Ten Boom family were prepared, oppressed and released. How the first fifty-two years of Corrie’s life, she was being prepared for all that was to come, which was extraordinary. And how during her (and Betsie’s) time in the prisons Vucht, Scheveningen and the hellish Ravensbruck, they experienced oppression that’s hard to imagine. And then how they were all released, in varying ways, to their ministries. And I tried to show how we are all being prepared, oppressed (sometimes demonically, oftentimes just by difficult life circumstances) and released, usually simultaneously, all throughout our lives.
I am so grateful the Lord got me through the day, as I’ve never spoken at a retreat before. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in CBS, but I experienced His faithfulness and I praise Him for it. Truly, the Lord does use the most imperfect vessels, and I’m not just saying that to sound humble. It’s flabbergasting to me how He pours out His grace day after day on His undeserving children and we get to soak in that love and divine help.
The retreat was over around 2:00 p.m., and when I got home I unpacked all the things I had taken, and by 4:30 I was in my plaid flannel nightgown. I was in bed by 8:30, and I slept until just before 8:00 the next morning, which is unheard of for me. I guess I must have been a leetle bit tired.
Over the next few days I set to work on all the projects I’d let go by the wayside while I was preparing for the retreat, and it felt so good to make a rather large dent. Banking statement reconciled, foster care report written and sent out, phone calls to return, bills to pay, laundry to do. I love being a home keeper.
Tonight I’m going to my oldest grandson’s first high school choir concert. Mr. McBoy had to be talked into signing up for choir as his freshman elective, but he’s so glad he did. He loves choir and says he wants to take it for all four years of high school. He’s also going to open gym almost every evening because he wants to try out for the basketball team later this month. At age fourteen he is almost 6′ 2″, and wears a 13 1/2 shoe. I think it would be pretty great if he made the team; Mr. McBoy’s father played basketball in high school, and my dad was the basketball coach at my high school (Covina, CA) for over thirty years.
Today I heard about the new Netflix series “The Crown,” and it sounds like something I might like to watch. If I can stay awake tonight after Mr. McBoy’s concert, I might come home, sink into Michael’s leather recliner, and begin with episode one.
Earlier this afternoon I picked up Vivie and Audrey from school to give them a ride home, and since the cemetery is close by, of course I had to stop. I know I take a lot of pictures there, but today the sky was so beautiful I couldn’t resist.
I sat on a bench for a while and listened to the geese and ducks honk and quack, and I thought about how quickly 633 days has passed. If you had told me years ago that I would live that long without my beloved husband and experience times of joy and contentedness, I would have doubted that.
But God has helped me and comforted me in ways I can hardly express. I decided a long time ago that I would take up my husband’s mantle of praise after he flew to Heaven, and today I praise Him with my whole heart for seeing my through the most painful time of my life, and helping me set my eyes on Jesus.
I know there are hard times ahead, because that is life. But I hope I’ll remember how the Lord has taken me through so much, even since I was a very little girl, and He is teaching me to thank and praise Him no matter what.