Blessings and a Blizzard

December 4, 2013 | My Jottings

Hello my friends. You know, I really do consider my faithful blog readers friends. Who but a friend would take time out of their busy life to read a few words and see some pictures on a little rambling blog? I’ve known some of you for decades from my SoCal days (hi Denel! hi Tauni! hi Shari! hi Su!), know some of you from my many years in Minnesota (hi Carey! hi Linda! hi Sue! hi Diane! hi Ginny!), know a few of you because we’ve gone to the same church or are in a group together (hi Gail! hi Lorna! hi Pat! hi Kay J! hi Jodi! hi Kristi!) and I’ve “met” some of you through the internet even though we’ve never been together face to face (hi Kay S! hi Jeannie! hi Ember! hi Helen! hi Roberta! hi Connie! hi Linda!), and some of you are truly family (hi Sharon! hi Carolyn! hi Sara! hi Christy! hi Savannah! hi Dorothy! hi Debbie! hi Lauren!). If I haven’t mentioned your name it’s not because I didn’t care to, it’s because my 56 year-old memory has become sieve-like in the past few years and has officially lost its Steel Trap status.

We are in the midst of a three-day-long winter storm here in Northeastern Minnesota. We received over a foot of snow yesterday, are expecting at least another foot today, and the wind is blowing it all horizontally. You know you’re getting hit when The Weather Channel sends people to your city to stay for a few days so your weather can be featured on cable all over the world.

Edith and Mildred most definitely do not like this weather, and must be coerced out into the deep snow in the yard to go potty. Sometimes I have to go out on the front steps with them and say repeatedly, “Go potty! No, don’t come up these stairs Edith! Get out there and go!” And they understand me and finally give in and leap out into the drifts to squat. They might be outside less than one minute, but when they come back in their little schanuzie backs are wet with snow and they shake off vigorously and act so happy to be in the warm house again.

We’ve had Christmas carols playing ever since Thanksgiving, and this is what can be heard in our home today… click here and the music will open in a new window and you can listen as you read, if you like. I love the whole album.

I wish I could have taken a picture to show how densely the snow is falling. Instead I took this one of our large outdoor ornaments being blown about in one of the flower boxes on our front deck. As always, you can click these to enlarge them if you like.


This photo below was taken from our living room, looking out toward three little crab apple trees in the side yard. Minutes later about a hundred cedar waxwings flew to the trees and gobbled up many of the cherry-sized apples while the snow and wind whipped the branches they were clinging to.


Sara always puts a few live touches to things around the house, and here are some little pines she put in containers for our dining room mantel.


I love this big mug below — Carolyn made that for me when she was in high school.


And oh, when the weather outside is frightful, our fire is so delightful! We light it turn it on every day and I can’t even convey how grateful I am to have a cheery blaze for all our meals. And our in between meal times too.


I decided to string together another simple banner for our living room, and even though it’s not Christmas-themed, the blue jays make me smile and it brings me pleasure to look at it. Banners and garlands are in! If you want to make something simple with the children in your life, google the word banner and/or garland and check out some of the beautiful things people are making. I saw one online last night made from red and silver cording and silver jingle bells! Gorgeous and easy.


This sweet little cardinal scented wax warmer sits on Michael’s dresser in our bedroom. It gives a bit of light, and the scent of the melted wax is “clean and slightly masculine” according to Sara, who gave me the warmer. See the unique wreath behind it? That was a gift from my dear friend Su years ago, made from the pages of a hymnal.


We don’t have our big tree up yet, although a day like today would be perfect for tree trimming. We do have our little bedroom tree up, however. Mrs. Nisky came to spend the night a week ago and she and I worked on it together. Then later that night as she fell asleep on her pallet of blankets close to our bed, the red and white lights on the tree were the perfect night light.


This Friday my dear friend Sue and I will be going out to dinner and then later attending the symphony together. Someone gave me season tickets to the symphony this year and I’m quite excited about it. I took my granddaughter Clara to the November performance, Sue and I will enjoy the Christmas one, and then in January I’ll take Mr. McBoy, who listens to classical music all the time and will love it too.

Things in our home are quickly changing, and I don’t like it one bit. I figure it’s okay to say that since the Lord knows how I feel anyway. I’m praying constantly for help and strength and humility and compassion and grace, so that I’ll be a gentle, gracious caregiver to Michael. We’ve had so many visits from several professionals in the past weeks; a great older man who’s a Physical Therapist, an insightful and patient woman who’s an Occupational Therapist, an efficient and understanding young woman who’s the nurse who will visit twice a month. Eventually a home health aide will come twice a week and I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that, seeing as she’ll be coming to help Michael shower and do exercises, but he has stated more than once that he likes it when his wife does that for him. And I totally understand. I wouldn’t want some stranger coming in to help me shower! So why would he? What to do, what to do…I pray the Lord will smooth this approaching pathway before us and make things straight and clear.

Are you someone who appreciates a little comic relief? I certainly am. Just today I was talking on the phone to my friend Su and we were discussing how important and sometimes difficult it is to always speak words to others that build, help or encourage. I told her how I used to have a printed sign on the kitchen windowsill of our other house, something I got from Ann Voskamp’s blog years ago that said in beautiful lettering, “Only Speak Words That Make Souls Stronger,” and how that is my heart’s desire. And I told her how I have occasional failures with this and how sad and disheartening it is to me. And then our serious conversation took a comic turn when Su said, “I’ll bet there are words you’re saying to Michael that years ago you never dreamed you’d be saying” and I replied without missing a beat, “Yes, like ‘don’t put your cane in the toilet!'” and we cracked up. She knew I meant absolutely no disrespect to Michael and I knew she would understand because she knows and loves him. But she was absolutely right. In 1981 when I married my strong, handsome and hardworking husband and said the words “I do,” I could never have imagined that 30 years later the words I’d be frequently saying to him would be, “Big steps!” and “Don’t put your cane in the toilet.”

Yesterday my son-in-law Jeremy reminded me that even though so much of Michael’s mental and physical abilities are diminishing, the spiritual wisdom, humility and grace he exhibits are decades ahead of other people his age. I was grateful for those words and knew deep in my heart they were truth. I know I would not be bearing the ravages of Parkinson’s with the same patience as Michael does.

We are taking things a day at a time here, sometimes an hour at a time actually. Isn’t that what we’re given anyway? Just the moments that make up the days that comprise the years of our lives? None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, but I do think I can say I know one thing tomorrow will bring — it will bring the faithfulness of God. No matter what happens to any of us, God will be faithful to us.

Psalm 36:5-9 says,

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.

How wonderful this passage of Scripture is to me. His love and faithfulness to us reach to the heavens! How many billions and trillions of miles high is that? He is preserving us, and our animals! Edith and Mildred are being preserved by God! We can take refuge in the shadow of His wings, and in the deepest darkness we can see light because He is the Light of the World.

I think I need to meditate on this Psalm today, how about you?

It’s time for me to go make a little lunch for Michael now. The snow continues to fall and the forecast says it will pile up through the night. Then by this Saturday the deep freeze will sweep in and blast us with temperatures that fall to 20 below zero (minus 28 Celsius). I never mind the snow we see in Minnesota, but the older I get the more difficulty I have with the bitter below-zero temps. I guess I should just revel in our 25 degrees above zero winter wonderland today and deal with the plummeting temps when they finally do plummet.

Are there any of you who visit this little blog now and then and have never introduced yourself? I would so love to “meet” you. If you can bring yourself to leave a comment today, I would be blessed to read it and know you are there.

I give a wave to you all, and say a prayer to our Heavenly Father, asking Him to bless, keep, help, and cheer you as you walk out the path in front of you today…


  1. kerry says:

    Hi Julie,

    I’m really enjoying your blog – you are a wonderful writer.

    Stay warm – I’m so thankful for my warm house and well stocked refrigerator.

    See you Tuesday,

  2. Just Julie says:

    Kerry! I had no idea you were reading — thank you for making time in your very busy life to drop in like this. What a treat for me. I can just picture what this long and powerful storm looks like out of those huge, beautiful windows of yours. God bless you and yours, dear Kerry. Thank you again… xoxo

  3. Jodi says:

    I’ve gotten a couple texts from friends asking if this week I’m relieved I moved “south”…but I have to admit to feeling a bit nostalgic for Duluth. There was for me a titch of pride in what we could sustain, weather-wise, up there. It is snowing though, and here’s what I made for dinner…an absolute favorite: With my household I must reduce the curry paste and chili powder to a mere teaspoon, but it is SO delicious, nonetheless.

  4. Just Julie says:

    Hi Jodi, If you were visiting here today, your relief at moving south would be great. All the very wet snow we received over the past three days has frozen into great clumps of ice. Our front storm door is frozen shut this morning. It’s 11 degrees and as you know will be below zero by tomorrow. Bleh. Your chili recipe looks delicious — I might try it. We love curry around here. Will be in touch soon, dear Jodi. xoxo

  5. Ganeida says:

    {{{Hugs}}}. I can’t imagine your weather. IT is hot, muggy & stormy here & Kirby has hidden under the house & won’t come out for tea. I love your cardinal warmer! How lovely!

  6. Just Julie says:

    Poor Kirby! I don’t know what would be worse for me, Ganeida — hot and muggy or way below zero. I need to move to the mountains of North Carolina where it’s more temperate winter and summer. 🙂 xoxo

  7. Sue says:

    Thank you for your blog, I enjoy reading so much! I was reading several weeks ago and loved your post about your favorite books for your grandchildren, I quickly pulled up Amazon and ordered three of them! My granddaughter just loves “WHAT Cried Granny!” We have read it over and over, and I thank you for your suggestions, they were all a hit. Feel free to offer more reading ideas!
    It has been a crazy couple of days weather-wise, but also a wonderful opportunity to sit and be amazed how beautiful a blizzard can be.

  8. Just Julie says:

    I’m so glad your granddaughter likes that book, Sue! Mine never fail to laugh when I read it to them. Tell me some ages and I’ll make some more recommendations to you! Blessings… xoxo

  9. Kristi says:

    Hello, my friend! So honored to be named in your wonderful, insightful, transparent, encouraging, humorous, real, heartfelt, soul searching, eloquent and Jesus loving blog! I love how God has brought us together and so appreciate your wisdom and the truth you speak into my life. I can so relate to some of the things you are experiencing with the changes in Michael’s health. As a daughter of someone with a chronic debilitating neurological disease, I understand the grief felt with each step of that. Each loss of function requires an adjustment to a new normal. People in your home, giving up control, apprehension with caregiver’s doing “your job”, worrying about Michael’s vulnerability…..God will protect and provide and bring the perfect people. Your desire to walk out your days as a loving wife with total dependence on God is inspiring. He will lead you, strengthen you, and prepare you for each day and each change. Praying for both you and Michael. Love to you down the snowy walkway between our homes!!

  10. Just Julie says:

    Kristi, I hardly know what to say in response to your incredibly affirming words! You are a treasure and I’m so thankful for the way the Lord has put us in each others’ lives. You bless me with your understanding, intellect, honesty and grace. Love you friend! xoxo

  11. Sam says:

    Long-time reader, first-time comment-er! You know that I visit, though, as I awkwardly mention it in work e-mails. 🙂 I always enjoy your writings, and pictures – especially of the puppies. Hope you’re staying warm!!!

  12. Just Julie says:

    Hi Sam–what a pleasant surprise to see your comment! Thank you. I’ll have to step it up in the doggy department and post something about Edith and millie soon… ;). I hope you’re staying warm. Our thermometer said 15 below this morning. xo

  13. Sue says:

    Whew! Where have the weeks gone, I ask you? Christmas Eve tomorrow night. I am reading Ann Voskamp,s “The Greatest Gift”, it has been such a blessing to me as I prepare for Christmas, making me reevaluate my priorities, and SLOW down and breathe in the season. Anyway, I highly recommend it for your Advent season next year. Also, my grandchildren are four and almost two, any book recommendations are very welcome. Have a blessed Christmas and I am keeping you and your family in my prayers. Love you, Sue

  14. Just Julie says:

    Sue, I’m doing Ann’s devotional book too, and I love how she keeps emphasizing slowing down, just being. I look forward to going through it next year too. I’ll have to send you a list of some of my grandchildren’s favorite books soon… xoxo

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