Saturday, August 27, 2011

let go; hope

Today, my house was the site for a baby shower for my friend, Christy. Her baby is due in a month. These are exciting days for an expectant mother. There is a bedroom to prepare, clothing and diapers to buy, birth and after-birth knowledge to acquire, showers to attend.... and on it goes.
I was asked to present some thoughts. I had several months to prepare something original but I kept coming back to what my Grandma Amy told me so many times. Let go of expectations; let go of my children; hope in God. So that's what I said.
It was good for me to remember these things - they are valuable no matter what time of life it is. This must have been the secret to Grandma's contentment.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

harry potter

I finished the series today and saw the last of the movies tonight. I liked finishing each book and watching the corresponding movie that night with Lydia. There is much to discuss in each book. The movies, sadly, had to leave out so much.
There are two themes about which I'm thinking. One is the exploration of power vs. authority; the other is redemption.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

why all the angst

My delay in booking a ticket to go to Chicago in mid-July resulted in having to go the following week as the ticket price had tripled! I arrived the following Thursday Gracie and I worked all Friday morning going through Mom's things - choosing some for storage, some for giving to others, some for the "circular storage bin". It was really hard to look at letters, mementos kept 60 years which seemed insignificant to us, useless or unwanted - yet hard to toss. These were things that have mattered to her over the years. How could we be so cavalier to toss them! We spent a long time lingering over some of the decisions.
Later that afternoon, we sat in the front lounge with mom, Dad and Alberto. It was a busy day; people coming and going through the front doors. We were singing and laughing and visiting. I suggested we move to the rehab lounge which would have been quieter and more private. No, Mom wanted to stay there.
Not much later, an old lady, soaking wet from the heat and humidity of the day, struggled through the front door, banging her walker in her efforts to get in and over to the front desk. We heard her tell Madre, "I'm so confused. I'm lost and don't know how to get home." Madre asked her where she lived. Gracie heard - it was not far from where she lives - over an hour away in the afternoon traffic, not accessible by freeways.
Madrew led her to sit with us and called for nurses to come take her blood pressure and listen to her heart as well as bring juice and food. Poor Helen had been to the Dr. an hour from where we were sitting - about 2 hours from her home - and had had to fast 36 hours for some tests. Now, hungry, dehydrated and lost some 40 hours later, she sat with us in tears.
Gracie and I looked at each other. We knew we had to take her home. Over her protestations and armed with a map from Madre, Gracie drove Helen's car and I followed. The story unfolding in the car in front of me began in Latvia 88 years ago. WWII came and the Germans rescued Helen's family from the Russians. Helen landed in W. Germany where she became a Dr., married and had two sons. Her husband died early. Once her sons became adults, they came to the states and she followed some years later. She was churched as a child but after marriage, never went back.
Helen tried to pay Gracie for our troubles. Gracie refused. When Helen asked why we would do this for her, a stranger, Gracie had the opportunity to tell her that we wanted her to feel the love of Jesus through us but even more, to know the love of Jesus for herself in her own life. Helen's tears came but there was no more response.
On the way home, Gracie told me all about Helen's life and the conversation that ensued. Phone numbers were exchanged and Gracie said she would call Helen for her birthday (they are going out this week!).
As we talked, Gracie and I realized that if I had gone the Thursday I had originally planned, we wouldn't have been sitting in the lounge that afternoon. And if we had moved to the other lounge, we wouldn't have been sitting in the lounge that afternoon. We thanked God that He was leading us in these seemingly inconsequential decisions.
Gracie's husband, David, joined us for dinner with Mom and Dad. David and Gracie planned to stay in Mom's apartment in the midst of all the stuff we still had to organize. A roll-away bed was being delivered. I asked them to come with me to the home in which I was staying. Gracie has stayed there before; it is very lovely and comfortable. She and David thought on it but in the end, opted for the apartment. As they were falling asleep, there was a pounding on the wall and a feeble voice calling, "Is anybody there?" Twice this happened. Concerned, Gracie ran down the hall to get a nurse, thinking that the neighbor had heard talking in what should be an empty apartment. The nurse found that the man had fallen and couldn't get up. Again, what seemed to be an inconsequential decision to stay in the apartment that night turned out to have great consequences for the old man.
Trying to put together the Latin schedule the past two weeks has been difficult at best. Some families, back out, others don't answer emails, others change days and times repeatedly. How should I apply what I learned in Chicago? God is ironing out a perfect schedule for me and for my students. He is choosing with whom each student should study. It is like watching him play a board game!! So I can sit back and watch what He is doing and when the dust settles, I'll have His answer for me. I hope I carry this lesson into the more difficult situation that are bound to come.
Thank you Lord, for graciously teaching me what I need to know.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

pointing forward

I am in a group of ladies who are reading through the Bible in a year by theme. Currently, we are reading books on the theme of law and grace. Today I read in Leviticus. The amount of sacrifices, the blood, the meat and organs..... WOW!!

What I saw as I read that I haven't seen before (isn't the Bible always fresh!!) is the amount of participation on the part of the person supplying the sacrifice. There are options of what to bring for the sacrifice. They lean on the sacrifice, they eat it. This seems to be the stuff of priesthood yet here is Joe Blow doing it!

This early instruction points toward the later sacrifice of Jesus. He is the sacrifice, the priest, He brings himself; He is a wave offering, a heave offering; He is consumed.

I'm glad we live this side of the law but grateful that God has always provided a way for us to be made acceptable to Himself.

Monday, July 25, 2011

a call to arms

It was a joy and privilege to watch Julian dream - working his eyes, mouth, nose - whole body - while he slept!

things we spend

Time and money.
We spend both of these.
But only the money we spend can be earned back; the things we buy can be returned.
Time, once spent, is gone.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

a monumental day

I became a grandmother at 8:11 a.m. for the first time!!
I became a doula at 6:15 p.m.
I am posting my 100th post.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

we are His workmanship - in love

"We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character. Here again we come up against what I have called the "intolerable compliment'. Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. But over the great picture of his life - the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child - he will take endless trouble - and would, doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumb-mail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less."

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Friday, June 3, 2011

reflecting on a Job well done

"Job never receives an explanation for his suffering. Job loses his family, his material prosperity and his health, yet God never tells him that he was being tested by Satan, nor is the reader told why God wants Job to endure such testing. For much of the book, Job is left without any tangible response from God. When God does speak, He essentially tells Job that he does not understand, but that He, God is good and sovereign. God answers not by changing Job’s situation right away, but by showing Job that he has not been abandoned.
In the end, Job receives a double portion of blessing; his health is restored and he has more children. Yet, even though this story has a "good ending" of sorts because Job is blessed for keeping his integrity by refusing to curse God, it leaves the reader unsettled. Job does not receive his children back. Job is never given an answer from God except, "I know what I’m doing, trust Me."
The book of Job emphasizes that man cannot understand God’s purposes and calls man to trust that God knows what He is doing and will bless those who take refuge in Him. In essence, there is no purpose to questioning God. God is good and God is in control."
This makes me think of Orual's situation. "Are you answered?" asked the gods of Orual. "Yes. You yourself are the answer."
Read the whole essay here - it includes commentary on Till We Have Faces.

Monday, May 16, 2011

why it's called a blog

I wonder if it is because it has the word "blaaaahhhh" in it. So when you are feeling that way, you can work it out through writing about it..........
I remember the saying,"Not only do our beliefs change our behaviour, but also our behaviour changes our beliefs."

I'm struggling with polarically opposite feelings about something that happened to me and I can't quite seem to sort them out.

Maybe I don't have to. Maybe the answer is to say - it happened, God caused it and He will somehow weave this into beauty in and for me (and perhaps for others) and that is enough for me to know.
The feelings are real but shouldn't be the focus of my thoughts. Perhaps that is where He wants me to come to rest. So in my ongoing quest to accept the sovereignty of God in my life and find grace and peace there for whatever He sends my way, perhaps feelings are overrated in priority. They must submit themselves to truth - and the truth is - God loves me and does all things for my good.

So blaaaaaahhhh just turned to blog.
Thinking better; feeling better.
First things first!

(see myself at

Saturday, April 30, 2011

learning to love.....

My mother taught me everything beginning with how to love. She taught me that by loving me.

She has loved me for 56 years. She worked on my behalf, for my children and now for my first grandchild - her 10th great-grandchild. Her love for her 25 offspring is boundless. Even in her latter years, when she is tired and weakening, she works on our behalf - because she loves us.

And we love her back.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

an antenna went to a wedding

An antenna went to a wedding.
The ceremony was lousy...........

but the reception was great!!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


A woman does so many things with her hands.
A mother does a few more: caresses her husband, cares for her children, cooks, cleans, cultivates, comforts, creates. (I promise, I didn't try to alliterate.)
My mother has "the Johnson hands". So do I. So does Lydia.
There are times when we have wished for longer fingers - octaves seem bigger to us; rings look nicer on long fingers. But God gave us "Johnson hands" and I think we are all at peace with that now. Perhaps even proud.
So when I posted a crumby picture of my mother kneading bread, my friend, Sarah, who hasn't taken a crumby picture in - well - forever, asked to do a similar photo shoot.

My mother's hands have aged. They have spots and wrinkles. They aren't as strong as they used to be. But during her visit here, I've seen her hands working to lighten my load, make a baby blanket, cook and chop and knead. Her hands still do what they have always done - extend love in various creative ways.

Our "Johnson hands" work as well as all other hands of grander proportion and physical beauty. The real beauty is in what our hands do. And these are precious, beautiful hands.

Monday, January 31, 2011

stay thirsty, my friends

"The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof grace–bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us singlehandedly. The word of the Gospel–after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps–suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home free before they started…Grace was to be drunk neat: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale…"

- Robert Farrar Capon - The Ragamuffin Gospel
via Andy Jones

Friday, January 28, 2011

humble pie was the key

Last Sunday, I was sitting in my pew, minding my own business. Things have been going well. Our children seem to be in good places in their lives - learning through struggles, enjoying successes. Larry and I are fine. Things have been humming along.
One of the pastors approached me about 20 minutes before church was to start and said the organist would not be there that morning and could I play piano for church. Just that morning, as I was driving in to Sunday School, I had thought to myself how I haven't played the piano at home in over a year and that I should really dust off both it - and myself!! God seemed to be saying that the time to start was right then!!
I quickly practiced in another room. Things didn't sound too good but the clock ticked right to the last moment. Time to go!!
As I sat up there, a bit nervous, a bit trembly, I realized - once again - that God owns me. He was doing just what He wanted to do with me. He wanted to humble me. He would use my complete weakness and total imperfection to humble me. The morning progressed better than the practice session earlier that morning but my playing was far from perfect, far from good, maybe just OK. But somewhere during the acapella of the first hymn, I asked God to take my hands and make them His to do whatever He wanted. More than that, I asked Him to take my attitude and make it His, as well. No one likes to be embarassed. The potential for that was high on the embarass-o-meter. I chose to score high on the willing-o-meter that day.
I'd like to say I played better after my change of heart. I didn't. But I did manage to calm down. I managed to stop shaking. I managed to sing several of the verses. I managed to let God do whatever he wanted to do with my hands. He let them play, He let me be humbled, He let me enjoy the morning.
It's easier to see God when things are out of my control, and out of control things were!! And so, I saw God work in me Sunday morning.