Toilets and Tears

August 12, 2016 | My Jottings

Friday felicitations, everyone. We love TGIF in this house, because it means that for the next two mornings, we can sleep past 5:43 a.m. I sound like a broken record, but I am a creature of habit and the rhythms of life are pretty basic for me these days. Adventure is not my game and Spontaneous is not my middle name. Although if I had better knees this might not be the case.

It’s nearing the middle of August, and it’s already starting to be dark in the mornings when my fosters and I have breakfast. Turning on the lights in the kitchen and dining room in the morning seems to signal the approach of winter to us. I’m already thinking about how our outdoor hoses will have to be put away, the spigots drained and shut off for the next six months, deck furniture stored in the garage, snow shovels brought out and leaned against the house. You know you live in American Siberia when you just keep your snow shovels leaning against your house for six months out of the year.


I’ve been helping with driving my grandson Elijah to or from his summer tennis lessons this week. When you have grandchildren between the ages of 22 months and 14 1/2 years, they can change in a matter of weeks. If I don’t see one of them for a month or so, they might grow an inch or talk differently or add words to their vocabulary or just do that dreadful thing called growing. I’ve seen that in Elijah this summer. He has grown much taller, and he doesn’t look like a boy anymore. He looks like a teenager. Which he is. My go-to word for these situations is gaahhh.

I’m reading Shauna Niequist’s new book Present over Perfect and love her writing. I also just finished a book a friend recommended called The Spirituality of the Cross by Gene E. Veith, and I was blessed and challenged by it. I’m about 1/4 of the way through Kristin Hannah’s Nightingale and am hoping it will grab me soon. I have talked to so many people who loved this book, people whose recommendations I trust, and so far it’s good, but not compelling. If any of you have read it, does it reach a point where you can’t put it down? I love those kinds of books, where you’re inwardly plotting as you’re loading the dishwasher or writing out bills, for a time when you can sit down and grab that riveting book again.

Have any of you been watching the Olympics? I have not watched one second of them. I am almost ashamed to admit that, but I am just so bored stiff about sports. I don’t know if growing up the daughter of a high school basketball coach did that to me or what. I enjoyed sports in high school; I played basketball myself in GAA (Girls Athletic Association), I played softball, tennis, volleyball, badminton, and I loved to swim. But tell me there’s a football game on TV or the Olympics are starting, and I’m sure to find anything else to do.

Today will be a blessed day at home for me. No foster care appointments, no tennis lesson for Elijah (although I don’t mind driving for that), no prescriptions to pick up or groceries to buy. I’ll probably don my baggy black sweat pants and an old paint-spattered black t-shirt, and scuff around in my Acorn slippers all day. Dinner is already made — hallelujah! — since I made a huge pot of homemade spaghetti yesterday and simmered it on the stove most of the day. This morning when I got up (in the dark) and headed down the hall to the kitchen, I could still smell the garlic in the air from yesterday’s cooking.

Speaking of garlic in the air, here’s a great air freshener I use. An online friend named Jill told me about it, and I love it. It doesn’t have a bunch of chemicals in it, and it smells clean and cheery. Yes, I think something can smell cheery.  🙂


I’m alternately chafing and praying about something right now. I was asked to be the speaker at our Community Bible Study leader’s retreat this fall. And they asked me to tailor my (possibly three) speaking times on the life of Corrie ten Boom. I think this was because of the study on Corrie’s book The Hiding Place I held in my home earlier this summer.

My initial response was willingness, along with gratitude at having been asked. I promised to pray about it, and starting asking for guidance and confirmation from the Lord, and I also began taking some notes as thoughts came to me. But then as always happens, I started fretting and thinking there is no way I can do this. I am 58 and much of my audience will be much younger…what could I possibly say to keep their attention and impart something lasting to their hearts? I am too tired for this. I am unqualified or disqualified or too this or not enough that….gahhhh.

So last night before bed I wrote in my journal about all of this, and decided to stop taking notes and just pray. Just keep lifting this possibility up to the Lord and try to listen to what He impresses on my heart.

The topic (the life of the Ten Boom family) would bless anyone. Whether or not I can do it remains to be seen. I’ll keep praying.


We sure miss Edith around here. Millie still acts like she’s unsure, and wonders what happened. I have Edith’s ashes in a container near Michael’s clothes in the closet, and when the air is crisp and dry and the leaves are blazing with color, we will hold our little ceremony and spread Edith’s ashes over Michael’s grave.

It has been 549 days since I have seen my husband. That is way too long. It seems absolutely too hard and too sad some days. My friend Vicki is a year behind me in her grief journey (she lost her husband to a disease caused by Agent Orange too) and she told me recently that she’s functioning pretty well, but is always about 30 seconds away from tears. Oh, how I understand that. I have felt God’s grace under-girding me and I do not grieve as one who has no hope (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). But all I need to do is hear a song on the radio, look at the shirts hanging in the closet, prepare a meal Michael loved, see a TV show he watched, sing a hymn he boomed, or see whitecaps on Lake Superior (which he called “sheep on the Lake!”), and my eyes fill with tears and I’m overwhelmed with how much I miss him.

Sara and I were laughing at breakfast recently at the memory of how Michael sang love songs to me. If he heard a song on the radio with any line he thought pertained to me (or us), he would turn toward me, gaze at me with those huge eyes, and sing it to me loud.


And for my last little bit of fascinating Friday trivia, I have a new toilet. There was a really fancy, dual flush, space-age shaped Neptune toilet in our master bathroom when we bought this house in May of 2012. Here’s a picture of it.

unnamedWell, this expensive toilet stopped flushing properly, and for weeks we had to use a pitcher of water to get it to empty. I ordered new innards from the Neptune company in Canada, and the plumber installed them and it made no difference. So I decided to buy a new toilet and get rid of Ms. Fancypants. The one I bought is a “comfort height” toilet, which means it’s 2 inches taller than a standard one. Which means relief for people with groaning knees. Which means me.

I told my daughter that you know you’re getting old when you get super excited about a new toilet. I felt like having an open house so people could come in and gaze at it, and rejoice with me. A toilet that flushes! A toilet easy on the knees! Come one, come all!

Well, I’m off to start my day. Thanks for stopping in… I hope your toilet is flushing and God’s grace is abounding to you.

May you have a very blessed and peaceful weekend,


  1. Ganeida says:

    We just had our septic pumped. Oh the joys of a toilet that flushes!!!!

    The men in my life are sports mad so I have seen some of the olympics by default only the things I actually love [gymnastics & diving] don’t get much coverage here. However the Matildas are playing Brazil this morning [soccer] & I have succumbed.

  2. Just Julie says:

    If I watched, those would be my choices too — gymnastics and diving. So glad you have the joys a working toilet brings, Ganeida. 🙂 xoxo

  3. Carolyn says:

    I always enjoy your blogs!

  4. Just Julie says:

    You are so nice to stop in and read, dear dotter. Love you… xoxo

  5. Peggy Johns says:

    You are so cute. I have toilet stories, too. I also have the raised one, but when the plumber told me about how nice it was, I don’t think he even noticed my 5′ 3″ stature. I guess it’s good for company. Is your spaghetti recipe somewhere on your blog? Sounds good.

  6. Just Julie says:

    You need a step stool for your toilet then, Peggy! Hahaha. I have not put my spaghetti recipe on the blog but would be happy to share it with you if you liked. xoxo

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