Dodgy Pens

The older I get, the harder it is to undo a bad habit (or initiate a good one). 
The more ballpoint pens I accumulate, the harder it is to find one that works. 
The more I’m sure one of the jigsaw puzzle pieces is missing, the more certainly it is there.
***
This was my 26th set of "triplets" posted on my Facebook page this morning.
The second of these three drew many comments including THIS one from my friend, Clarice:
YES, But my suggestion...Get rid of a pen when it skips too much...
It is NOT going to get better...
(I know.....We have WAY too many of those at our house, too!)
I responded:
 I "know" that! WHY do I not DO it? 
I think it's my spiritual gift of mercy showing itself - just don't want to give UP 
on a skipping ballpoint! Especially those that have served me so well.
Friend Barb replied to Friend Clarice:
I love the line--- "it is NOT going to get better" --- (the truth hurts !)
And Rose weighed in saying,
You must be me! I am notorious for dodgy pens...
 Dodgy pens.  We definitely have our share at our house!
How about you?

Sane, Simple and almost Sacred!

My last living uncle died last month.  
My cousin sent me a bunch of photos found while sorting through things in his father's apartment.
This is a photo of my father and mother.
When I showed  this one to my dad on Sunday, he said, "I think I still HAVE that shirt!"
We turned the photo over to see the date -
 "Surely not!  Maybe one really similar!" I suggested.
Monday morning he showed up wearing THIS shirt...
He didn't say a word.  Waited to see if I'd notice.
I did!  Right away!
A Van Heusen.
I left a message with the Van Heusen people on facebook.
Minutes later, they responded:
Hi, Rebecca, That's great!  Glad your father still has his shirt,
it looks great on him.   --Team Van Heusen

My father has worn many good-looking shirts in his eighty-nine years...
maybe none as long as THIS one.

 I just read on  Freude and Freuden that Ralph Lauren once said that things made for a specific function must get better with age.  So, Menno van Meurs said,  "I believe you should invest in
things that last because that way, you can enjoy them your whole life."
Apparently that's my father's philosophy - and not a bad one!

 Because at the end of the day, we don’t actually need that much. Buy less, pay more.
(Menno van Meurs)

Puzzle-ing


 In addition to some of the alleged benefits of jigsaw puzzle-ing -- enhancing visual perception, sharpening coordination, improving memory, developing critical thinking, increasing dopamine production in the brain, encouraging creativity, and stimulating the whole brain -- we've found it a good substitute for disappointing TV viewing, a suitable recovery-from-a-fall-in-the-shower activity, a stress-reliever (can't believe I just wrote that) and an overall cozy winter pastime.  
We completed the one above, our fourth this winter, and are beginning one more.
Probably the last of the season.
In addition to Life Lessons I've learned from puzzle-ing that I've already blogged about,
I've learned a couple of other things that have a broader application, I think...
One.  The value of another person's perspective when problem solving, and
Two.  Sometimes  you just have to take a break.  
Walk away from it.  So frequently I return
to find the piece I was CERTAIN was not on the table!
 Here we go again!

Words Are My Craft. And Music...



I opened the mail Wednesday to find THIS!
Cheered by its colors,
    blessed by the thoughtfulness,
          and in awe of the creativity and talent
          that went into its creation,
I began to wish I possessed the skills so many of my friends possess. In my moanful state, I couldn't think of ANYthing I did creatively.

Then it dawned on me!
Words are my craft. And music.
It is not for me to wish and compare
but to use and share
the gifts and talents I have been given.

THESE words, for instance--words composed recently
to acknowledge and assuage the discomfort
of  a blogging friend...


Healing IS process 
Slow 
Quiet 
Irksome
Solitary 
Two steps forward 
One back
Celebrate mornings 
Let evenings embrace you
Write 
Breathe
(rlg 2/2016)

Stitched into the corner of Marlynne's gift was this reference:  Matthew 5:16--
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, 
and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Stitching?  Painting? Gardening? Decorating? Words?  Music?
Whatever!
Let it shine.

Whatever be the gifts which each has received, you must use them for one another's benefit, 
as good stewards of God's many-sided kindness.  (I Peter 4:10, Weymouth New Testament)

Happy Birthday, Mother


The Dairy Queen ice cream cake (chocolate chip cookie dough)
was sliced and served up on hot pink plates.
Colorful Happy Birthday napkins were distributed. 
Three times we sang as her fellow-residents wandered in...
Happy birthday to you;
Happy birthday to you;
Happy birthday, dear Elda;
Happy birthday to you.
 Now and then a smile played at the corners of her lips.
Her eyes met mine.  Silently.  Quizzically.
Only the day before I'd finished  reading Anne Lamott's Small Voices.
I'd copied these words from page 266 into my journal--
anticipating this hour;
determined to shine my best light on her...
 "It is so lovely to celebrate the life of a person who is still here, 
a chance to shine our best light on her as she shone her light on us, 
before the light goes out." 
 Dementia is dimming her lights, but my love for her is brighter than ever!
Happy 89th birthday, Mother.
...

Never Give Up

 A few of you might remember one of my posts many days ago where 
 I moaned about finishing a jig saw puzzle and being one piece short...
 Well, guess what?
And guess WHERE!
In the very bottom of this very large bag
that I carry around from house to car to nursing home and back again.
There, in the bottom.  Along with a stray penny or two.
Lesson learned?
"Never, never, never give up."  (Winston Churchill)
My grandmother used to say, "Where you lose it, you'll find it."
Apparently she was correct.
It must have dropped into the open bag as it sat underneath the puzzle table...

A Beautiful Start

 One day a week, my husband works in an office
located on the Huntington University campus.
He didn't anticipate a full day of work and invited me to ride along.
I took a book, my journal, my Bible and a Bic four-colored fine-tipped pen.
He dropped me off at the university library
where I selected a table with a view.
 Looking down from the ground level,
was this view.  (Maybe next time?)
 The time went fast!
It was quiet and relaxing.
And coffee was available for ten cents a cup!
The week is off to a beautiful start.
Besides a comfy chair at home, 
have YOU a favorite quiet place to read?

Here is Your Mother

And he (Jesus) said to this disciple, "Here is your mother."
And from then on this disciple took her into his home.  (John 19:27)

This is MY mother.
She is sitting in the hall of the nursing home
where I visit her at least 3-4 times a week
for 4-5 hours a visit.
When I read these words of Jesus to "this disciple" in the Gospel of John,
I can't help being conflicted about my mother's situation.
I am one of four siblings.
Our father lives independently just a few blocks from our mother
and eats lunch with her everyday.
I live an hour's drive away, the closest of the four of us....
It's complicated.

The Older I Get

Some people spend their time weaving rugs, embroidering, 
painting, working out, decorating, etc.  Not me!  
While I wouldn't mind doing any of those, here's what I actually do.   
Think up and post things like this on Facebook.  
One a day. 
Can you identify with any of them???

The older I get, the less I believe in "chance encounters". The smaller my "world", the more pleasure I find in very simple things. The quieter I am, the more I perceive. 

The older I get, the fewer “things” I need. The less I speak, the more I learn. The fewer my prayers, the more my worries. 

The older I get, the more particular I am about the books I read.   The more spontaneous the laughter, the more I appreciate it.  The fewer my options, the calmer I feel. 

The older I get, the greater my appreciation for a good cup of coffee. The louder the music, the fewer “repeats” I can tolerate.   The lower the outdoor temperatures, the higher my need for a warm afghan.

The older I get, the more I appreciate a good, clean joke.  The farther down the dementia road my mother travels, the stronger my commitment and compassion grow.  The more viral the link, the less inclined I am to open it.

The older I get, the smaller the house I want.  The larger the crowd, the farther from it I’ll likely be. The more books I own, the harder it is to part with them.

The older I get, the more cautious I am on icy surfaces.  The closer they tailgate, the tenser I become.  The more compartments in my purse, the harder it is for me to find anything in it.

The older I get, the more people my age are dying.  The more ingredients in a recipe, the less likely I am to make it.  The newer my eye glass prescription, the more dust I see.

The older I get, the more intolerant I grow of bad grammar.   The more intolerant of it I am, the more bad grammar “happens”. The shorter the grocery line I’m in, the more likely the cashier is at the end of his/her shift and a new one will come with a drawer to change out, etc. etc.

And I'm not done with 'em!
I work ahead and can carry on indefinitely.
I'm thinking of a book????
With simple, cartoon-like illustrations...

Mercy

Some of my small collection of hymn books
The pianist played simple tunes before the service in the small church began yesterday.
I was familiar with the songs she played.
Songs like "Only Trust Him".
Its words passed through my mind.....
Come, every soul by sin oppressed,
there's MERCY with the Lord
Gratefully, I recognized and noted the word.  MY word for 2016.  Mercy!
A few minutes later we sang two gospel songs with the congregation.
In loving-kindness Jesus came
my soul in MERCY to reclaim.... 
followed by "Redeemed".
Redeemed through His infinite MERCY,
His child and forever I am.
 "For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive;
and plenteous in mercy to all them that call on you."  Psalm 86:5
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."  Matthew 5:7
Since adopting this word, I am seeing it in one form or another almost every day!
I'm SO thankful for the Lord's mercy to me and pray to become merciful to others.

Oh, What a Relief It Is!

I finished a book yesterday (not The Invention of Wings seen here).
I moaned to myself and complained to my husband all the way through it!
Though the subject matter was interesting to me,
it was poorly written in my opinion.
Two of the four main characters had names 
beginning with the same letter.
From the git-go, I couldn't keep them straight.
Many of the short chapters began with flashbacks to the childhoods of the four characters,
making it difficult for me to stick with the story.
The conversations were predictable and full of trite comments.
It ended as I imagined it would.
 Why oh WHY did I finish it?????
It was an incredible relief to begin THIS book!  The writing is superb.
Believable characters, interesting dialogue, humor, and historical accuracy.
And I'm just at the end of the first chapter!
 The older I get, the more particular I am about what I read.
How about you?
(And have you read this book yet?)

Do Your Own Research

This was the information on the bottom of the jigsaw puzzle
that we attacked with a vengeance and anticipation last week.
A combination of pleasure, determination and frustration
filled the hours we spent finishing the puzzle 
only to end up with this bit of disappointment--
We were down on our hands and knees and turned furniture over
searching for the missing piece.  Never DID find it.
My conclusion is that you can't trust what is written on the bottom
of a used jigsaw puzzle box.
There's a lot written on social media these days
that is equally disappointing.
It is best to Do Your Own Research.
Especially before passing it on as a fact!

We Walked in Beauty

 These were the sights along the halls
 as we walked through them
 after visiting a friend in a local hospital this morning.
 It was chilly and wet outdoors
 but doing our 30 minute walk indoors
 was a pleasant experience --
 and colorful, too!
 It felt like a visit to an art gallery,
fitness center
 and botanical garden all rolled into one!

Not I

Add some details and watch your interior transform – 
the more you add...the more tantalising your pad will be. 
And who doesn’t want a pad that makes every jaw hit the floor?
So advised the author of a decorating blog who shall remain anonymous here.
I was surprised by my reaction to that question--
And who doesn't want a pad that makes every jaw hit the floor?
Not I!
It's the very LEAST of my concerns currently.
Is this a GOOD sign or a BAD one?

 ***
Fade, fade, each earthly joy, Jesus is mine!
Break every tender tie, Jesus is mine!
Dark is the wilderness,
Earth has no resting place,
Jesus alone can bless, Jesus is mine!

Farewell, ye dreams of night, Jesus is mine!
Lost in this dawning bright, Jesus is mine!
All that my soul has tried
Left but a dismal void;
Jesus has satisfied, Jesus is mine!
 (From Fade, Fade Each Earthly Joy, by Jane Catharine Lundie Bonar)

Mercy

I left off my journaling yesterday 
"Pondeirng, wondering....is 'mercy' my word for 2016???"
I woke up this morning and was greeted by Eugene Peterson's tweet.
Apparently so!
Mercy it is.
Interestingly, long ago I took a spiritual gift inventory and was surprised 
that it identified mercy as my spiritual gift.
I guess it's time to "stir up" or "fan into flame"
 that gift with vigorous intentionality.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, 
which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 
(2 Timothy 1:6-7)

I'll look forward to seeing if YOU  select a word for 2016
and what it is...
Happy New Year.

a humble little Christmas

"Let’s have ourselves a humble little Christmas. 
Don’t think so much of yourself today; think of Jesus and of others. 
What a great day to rededicate the remainder of your days on earth to serving Christ 
with a humility that transcends the holidays." (Dr. David Jeremiah)

Christmas with Dad & Mother, Fairlawn Haven 2015
 I read Dr. Jeremiah's words after arriving home late in the evening on Christmas Day.
How well they described our Christmas
The drive home had been lighted by the beautiful full moon.
We reflected on the hours of Christmas Eve Day and Christmas itself
spent in the company of my father and mother.
Precious hours.
 Hours of holding Mother's hand while we played games around a table
in her Special Care Neighborhood.
Hours around another table with my father in the evening.
Serious talk as we read and marveled at the words conveying
the events of the very first Christmas from Luke 1 and 2.
Tender talk as we reached back into our memories of years now far in the past.
Simple food.
Laughter, chuckles, and a few tears.
No tangible gifts were exchanged; only the gift of one another.
And OH the joy of it!
What a great day to rededicate the remainder of (my) days on earth 
to serving Christ with a humility that transcends the holidays."

Advent - The Lookout

"Be on the lookout for a little something at your door soon." 
I was so surprised by this message from a blogger friend!
As I thought about the message,
a verse from the Bible came to my mind--words of Jesus:
"Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, 
and I will give to each person according to what they have done." ( Rev. 22:12)
ADVENT!
Be on the lookout.
He IS coming soon!
***
It DID come.  A pillow
I had selected this design in a give-away my friend had sponsored.
I was NOT the winner.  I have NO idea what prompted my friend to gift me,
which reminded me of Elizabeth's words 
when Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus, visited her:   
"But why am I so favored...."  (Luke 1:43)
And that pretty much sums up another major biblical concept.
GRACE!
Friends, be on the lookout for a little something at YOUR door.  Soon!

Anticipated, Celebrated, Decorated

This may be my favorite photo from the few I took yesterday afternoon
This is an annual event that has become a tradition for us.
Reflecting recently on why the Christmas season is 
so anticipated, celebrated and decorated
(and trying to understand my ambivalence about it all)
I wrote this:

Christmas calls out the most beautiful, tender, kind and caring parts of us, I think.
We reflect; we celebrate; we treasure.
We are warmed by the soft lights and special ornaments that carry with them a host of memories.
Our emotions are heavy with them.
They range from inexpressible joy to agonizing pain.
Our decorations are their "spill-over".
We bask in the results of our efforts to express our tangled selves. 
Blessed are those who move through tangled selves, bloated schedules and trappings of the season
to abandon them if necessary to embrace the Person and Presence of the One 
for whom the holiday is named.  
(rlg, 12/6/2015)

Who Knew?

 When she asked if she might use a photo I had posted, of course I said "Yes"!
I had no vision of just how special the card she was creating would turn out.
 It arrived today, reminding me of the unique friendships
blogging has afforded me over the years.
It's a special time of the year, and already my heart is full.
Thanks for sharing your talents, Claudia! Your writing is inspiring;
Snow splendor whispers the earth to sleep
until resurrection comes again in spring
(from Miracle of Seasons by Claudia Mundell)

Center

It's the first Sunday of Advent.
I'm not sure I've ever selected a word around which to organize
my Advent meditations before, but if I were choosing THIS year,
I'd choose "center".
This became clear to me as we began to put this jigsaw puzzle together.
Our usual approach to puzzling is to first piece together the border. 
It clearly wasn't going to work this time!
And so we began at the center.
It was an AHA MOMENT for me as I observed
- and not coincidentally -
it was Jesus who was at the center of the center.
Just where He belongs.
Thinking of Jesus this morning,
I compiled phrases from many translations of the last phrase of Colossians 1:18.
Here is the result:

(in order that) that in all things (every aspect, at every view, everything, in all things, in every respect) He (Himself) might (come to) have the preeminence (will occupy the first place, be first, stand supreme, hold first place, hold the primacy, hold the first dignity, be above all others, be far above, be preeminent, has supremacy, far above, is most important, would be far above everything).

 From the center of me to my "borders"
(all and any of the peripherals of daily living)
may He hold first and final place.
Center of the center.





Writing a Song a Week #3

Writing a Song a Week #3
♪ I wait for the Lord; my soul waits and in his word I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning ♪ (Psalm 130:5-6)