Friday, July 31, 2015

Blue Moon

This month, I learned that a blue moon happens when there are two full moons in one month.  The second one is a blue moon.  This month we had a full moon on July 1, and tonight, July 31 is the second.

It is big and round and golden, not blue.  I do love the moon.

We watched the moon while we drove into town, to Culver's, for dinner.  I like Culver's because they offer hamburgers with gluten-free buns, and they have ice-cream.

When you drive on the freeway, out in the country, and you hit a firefly with your windshield, the smear glows for awhile before it fades.

I wanted to remember this night with its blue moon.  Tiny Piper is failing fast now.  He's trembling in my lap.  He seems to like being held, which is a comfort to me, if not to him.  His misery has curtailed his licking habit.

While we were in town, we dropped off a Culver's basket meal to Jon at the parking garage where he works.  The food was not in a basket, actually, but neither is the blue moon blue.

We also had a new bathroom vanity installed today, and we went for a walk before dinner.  It was a very nice day, almost like a Saturday.


I am trying to listen.

Morning seems like a good time for listening, with the sunlight spilling full and bright through my high bedroom window.

The neighbors across the street are having a new roof put on their house.  I hear the truck delivering the shingles,  "Beep--beep--beep," it says, "Big truck backing up.  Watch out.  Beep--beep--beep."

Shawn's electric razor buzzes.

Piper licks his paws, the incessant licking, smack-smack-smack, that can nearly drive me crazy sometimes.

The shower water starts to run and I hear the door of the shower open and close.

Someone outside hollers directions to someone else about the shingles.  Motors rumble and the gears of a lifting machine grind away.

Schubert at his post by the front door sidelights watches the workers and growls low in his chest.

How can I hear the voice of the Lord?

The Lord said, 
“Go out and stand on the mountain 
in the presence of the Lord
for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind 
tore the mountains apart 
and shattered the rocks before the Lord
but the Lord was not in the wind. 
After the wind there was an earthquake, 
but the Lord was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire, 
but the Lord was not in the fire. 
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
When Elijah heard it, 
he pulled his cloak over his face 
and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.  
~1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV) 

I want to be in the presence of the Lord.

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!

My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God. 

 ~Psalm 84:1-2 (NIV)

I want to see the glory of the Lord.

Then Moses said, 
“Now show me your glory.” 
And the Lord said, 
“I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, 
and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. 
"I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, 
and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
"But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, 
for no one may see me and live.”
Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me 
where you may stand on a rock.
When my glory passes by, 
I will put you in a cleft in the rock 
and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.
Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; 
but my face must not be seen.”
~Exodus 33:18-23 (NIV)    

Most of all, right now, I want to hear the voice of the Lord, calming my spirit, whispering truth in my ears.  

(I guess what I really want is for God to fill me in on what He is going to do, and how He is going to do it, and when.  But that's not going to happen, because that is the opposite of faith.)

Jesus is the Word of God, the voice of God who came to us with the message and the love of God.  Jesus is the final Word, the fulfillment and completion of all the prophecies and all the promises.

Because of Jesus, I am in the presence of God daily, constantly.  The Spirit of the Lord of the Universe actually tabernacles in my body, promising never to leave me nor forsake me.

Yet, how can I discern when it is His voice that speaks to me in the recesses of my mind, and not my imagination or my wishful thinking?  How can I tell the difference between holy conviction and ingrained earthly guilt?  How can I weigh righteous hope against pie-in-the-sky optimism?

The only really solid thing we have is the Bible, the Word of God, the measuring stick that allows us to test the truth of each thought that passes through our minds. 

Jesus, please lead me in Your Word to the words that will bring me peace and joy and hope.  Your Spirit lives in me; please help me apprehend what this means.  Please teach me how to avail myself of Your almighty power that is already here in my heart.  Please help me find what I need in the Bible.

The thought just occurred to me:

(Because my camera broke.  We've ordered a replacement.  This has me thinking about cameras.)

My camera is a fairly good one, with lots of buttons.  It can do many, many things.  I can do a few things with it.  I know how to put it on the manual setting and adjust the light the way I want it.  I can zoom in and out.  I can also use a number of the automatic settings.  However, there is a whole bunch of stuff that I do not know how to do with my camera.  I've only read small parts of the manual that came with it.  I figured out how to do a few things that I wanted to be able to do, and then I stopped reading, stopped learning more.  If I would read and study the whole manual, I would probably be shocked and delighted to learn about all the features I could use to get great pictures.

Many of us Christians are like this with our Bibles. We read John 3:16, and we figure we're all good, we're saved from the fires of hell, so what more do we need?  Like the person who buys a fancy camera and then never does anything beyond point-and-shoot in the automatic setting, we settle for so much less than what is available to us.

Jesus, please show me Your glory.  Meet me in Your Word.  Be alive in me.  Fill me with truth.  Teach me who You are and how to love You.  Help me hear Your voice.  Help me listen and learn.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Starting from a paper notebook

Last Saturday I wrote by hand, with a pen, in a notebook.

* * * * * * * * *

Today I am on the sunporch.

I read Psalm 84.  I do so want to be the kind of person who passes through Baca and makes it a place of springs and blessings.

I hear trucks rumbling down the freeway in the distance, delivering goods.  And I hear birds chirping in our back yard.  Shawn just refilled their feeders.  I hear Piper breathing noisily next to me, a snuffling, whistling sound that comforts me because it means he is still alive.  He is happy because he is near me, here on the futon folded up into a sofa, his favorite place with his favorite person.

Laura and Matthew are visiting and in honor of their visit, I uncharacteristically filled the kitchen with nice things to eat.  I urge them to eat all the food.  I'd given up on buying food because when it is only Shawn and me, we end up throwing things away.  Just a few days ago I poured the end of another gallon of ancient milk down the kitchen sink.

Now Shawn is humming tunefully in the kitchen, muffled footsteps and the soft opening and closing of the door to the garage.  Off he goes to make another stab at the wild, weed-infested gardens out back, where finches frolic and unidentified greenery tangles in competition for the sparse sunlight under dappling tree boughs.  Earlier, I pulled a few weeds and then gentle rain sprinkled down on me, dispersed dampness like some sort of soggy stroking, and I had difficulty discerning whether it was an encouragement or a dissuasion, but I chose to be dissuaded and came inside.

To the sunporch where I am now.  Listening.

* * * * * * * * *

That was Saturday.  On Sunday, in Sunday school,
we talked about listening to God.   
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Yesterday I spent some time with a friend, and she also spoke about listening, about replacing the lies that speak in our heads with the truth of God's Word.

I remember that there is a song called, "The Voice of Truth."  I don't know it well, never particularly liked it (too modern for my taste), but it says, "The voice of truth tells me a different story.  The voice of truth says do not be afraid."  I remember that these phrases have sprung up in my mind recently, randomly, or perhaps not randomly.

I have been praying for someone I love dearly to be able to have ears to hear, ears open to the Lord, spiritual deafness healed, perception and understanding restored.  But I'm wondering: is it me that needs new ears?  Is God trying to tell me that I am the one lacking listening ears?

Be still and know that I am God, He says.  Be still.  Listen.  And I will tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

I hear a lawn mower, Piper breathing heavy, and my verse for the year which (I just now recall) the visiting pastor projected onto the screen during our church service on Sunday:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. 
I do not give to you as the world gives. 
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  
~John 14:27 (NIV)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday afternoon again

It's Sunday afternoon again, and the time when I most feel at loose ends.

I remember Sunday afternoons in Anoka.  I remember my dad taking me to Grandma and Grandpa Rainbow's house, where there were always relatives, visiting, on Sunday afternoons.  Sometimes there were babies, which was my favorite.  Grandma taught me to appreciate babies, laying them out on blankets and drawing my attention to the sweetness of their bare toes, teaching me how to make them smile and laugh.

My cousins Willy and Molly were not babies; they were only slightly younger than I.  We had grand times playing in the basement, which was very clean for a basically basementy-basement.  There was shuffle board on the floor down there, and a washer and clotheslines, and all the fodder for imagination you could possibly want.  Along the side of the stairs down, shelves lined the wall, holding some cans of things, and in the autumn, decorative gourds drying.  Willy and Molly and I were famous for putting on plays, which the elder Rainbows always received with gracious delight, encouraging us and praising our creativity, thrilling our little souls and assuring us that we were special.

I've had many dreams of adventures in that basement, dreams of swinging from a rope like Tarzan, wearing a cape and saving the day.  As an adult, remembering, I can't separate the dreams from the reality, but it doesn't matter.

The Rainbows had a certain timbre in their voices, slightly raspy, and if I were a musician I could tell you the key, which was probably something like G sharp, a cut above the normal.  I can still hear it, vaguely, in my imagination when I cock my head and listen hard.

Uncle Doug and Tip, and their babies, Luke and Ben, were often there.  It seems to me that Doug and Tip and Luke and Ben, and Dad and I, were the standard fare.  Others came and went with less regularity, but it was always such fun to see who would turn up.  Now and then Bud and Joy came from Iowa, or Jack and Teda from California.  Grandma Rainbow seemed to be able to fill me in on who everyone was, and what was special about them, and why we were lucky that they were coming.  As a result, I was always excited to see them, and not nearly as shy as I would have been without her preparation and coaching.

Grandma kept a clear glass jar of jelly beans on the wooden shelf in her dining room.  They were the spicy flavored ones, because that's what Grandpa liked best.  White peppermint, yellow spearmint, green wintergreen, orange clove, red cinnamon and (Grandpa's favorite) black licorice.  I'd often eat a number of them throughout the afternoon, and the effect would be a terrible stomach ache during evening church later on.  One day I made the connection, stopped eating jelly beans, and felt much better throughout the evening.

I remember so many things about Grandma's house, not in chronological order.  I remember the way the front door opened and closed, and the texture of the braided carpet under my feet.  I remember the feel of the cabinet handles in the kitchen, and the smell of the refrigerator, which smelled different from our refrigerator at home, but still so very familiar, American cheese singles and jello and cranberries and (for some reason) the aroma of powdered milk.  I remember Grandpa in his chair in his den, and the TV broadcasting a game, and the faint smell of pipe tobacco.  I remember the blue bathroom with Browning's The Year's at the Spring framed over the bathtub.

And there was a big circle of uncles and aunts--or perhaps two circles: one in the den and one in the living room--visiting and laughing, happy.  It was a happy place, a place where you were welcome and loved.

I didn't know I could lose it all; I just took it in stride, took it for granted, the way a kid does.

The New York years were lonely, especially on Sunday afternoons.  I never completely got over feeling homesick on Sunday afternoons.  Sunday afternoon is when you should be with your extended family.  But sometimes this is not possible.

We had one baby, and then two, and by the time we had three, it was rare for our acquaintances to want any part of us anymore, so we duked it out alone, and it was rough a lot of the time.  However, as the years passed, a miracle occurred: the kids became people who could dress and potty themselves, tie their own shoes, fasten their own seatbelts, and eventually even share ideas and stories from their own lives with us.  We became a family of people who could support each other.  Unbelievably, instead of me running to Staples to buy posterboard for a project for one of the kids, one day it was one of the kids driving up to Wegmans to get me an ingredient I was missing for a recipe I was making. 

But Sunday afternoons.  We had the SSYO years.  SSYO was the Syracuse Symphony Youth Orchestra, and it consumed Sunday afternoons.  Having kids in SSYO meant that you couldn't have gone visiting of a Sunday afternoon even if you'd wanted to.  You had to rush out of church, drive to Manlius, and then figure out whether you were going to find something to do in Manlius for the duration of the rehearsal, or go all the way home to Liverpool and back out again.  We spent a good deal of time driving highway 481 during the SSYO years, the busy-ness filling the void of loneliness.

Then they all started leaving, and then we moved to Illinois, and they finished leaving.

Laura and Matthew came to visit this weekend, which was a blessing and a joy.  We didn't take a single picture, which is typical.  They left after lunch this Sunday afternoon, which is the way it is now.  Sunday afternoon seems always now to be a time of tearing apart, a time for saying good-bye.  But still I am thankful to be able to see them.  Good-byes stink, but not having any occasion to say good-bye stinks much worse.  So we watched their little car--a new blue Elantra they recently purchased and drove out to show us--watched it drive down our street, turn, drive up to the end of the neighborhood and turn again, onto the main road that would take them to the highway and away.  Blinking stinging eyes, I hiccuped as quietly as I could, giving a soft tug to little Piper on the end of his leash panting in the heavy humidity, stumbling with his age as we headed back into the house and the air-conditioning

Sometimes it feels like grief is a huge icicle pressing down on my sternum, and it's hard to suck breath.  I'm so tempted to say, "Why do I have to give up my kids, when other people have their children and grandchildren right down the street, there for every birthday and holiday, and even ordinary Sunday afternoons?  Why me?  Why do I have to lose my family? Why do I have to lose my family twice?"  More than tempted, I succumb.  And I want to feed my kids.  I want to wash their clothes and make their beds.  Also, I want to touch their hair, but I can't do that (except sometimes I do touch Jon's because he only complains a little bit, and also he is often here on a Sunday).  I want to iron for them, and I never even ironed in my life, hardly, except before a music audition or something, and even then, usually Shawn did it because he is a better ironer.

God doesn't want me to make family an idol.  I realize this.  I also realize that I am at risk of doing so, because I often allow myself to think that I cannot be happy if I don't have any family around.

I need to be content in the Lord.  I keep a bookmark in my Bible; it has a quote on it from someone named Jeremiah Burroughs who lived in 1648.  He wrote:

Christian contentment
is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit,
which freely submits to
and delights in
God's wise and fatherly provision
in every condition.

Oh, how I wish I could attain that.
I am neither sweet nor quiet nor gracious.
I don't freely submit to what the Lord provides for me.
Certain family members have, on occasion, needed to remind me, "Think inside your head."  Thus, I suspect I do not have an "inward" frame of spirit, either.

I have so far to go.  Yet, I have hope.  Yes, I do.  I have hope.  I have hope that I will learn to be content and to delight in what the Lord provides for me.

And I also have hope that when I learn to delight properly in the Lord, and to cease my grumbling and fussing and complaining, then perhaps He will allow me to live in proximity to family again.

But maybe He won't, and I have to surrender to that, too, if it is the case.

Monday, July 20, 2015


I did not have a good weekend.

I could make a list of all the things have gone wrong in the last few days, and it might even be a little bit humorous.  However, I am going to restrain myself, because other people have real problems.  I pretty much only have attitude problems, except for an occasional exception.

Also, I'm reading Martin Lloyd Jones' book, Spiritual Depression: its causes and its cure.  I had put it away awhile ago and just recently got it out again.  My current chapter is "Chastisement."  Yep.  I guess that might be why I had put it away for awhile.  I guess I didn't want to read about being chastised until I was smack in the middle of being chastised, at which point I guess have less to lose.

To top it off, my phone isn't working, which has spun me into a mild panic attack.

I am thankful that prayer doesn't depend on what kind of reception my cellphone is getting.  God is always near, always watching over me, always listening for my prayers.

This is true even when He is chastising me.

Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth.

Sigh.  I am supposed to be thankful for that.

I am thankful to be loved, but I do not enjoy being chastened.  Which makes me think of the old saying, "The beatings will continue until morale improves."  God is not like that, but there are days when I could forget and despair.

The irony?  One of the premises in the Martin Lloyd Jones book is that we Christians are a poor reflection of our beautiful Savior when we get down in the dumps.

Jesus, could I please just not continue to fail in my attitude?

Bring Joy to Your servant,
for to You, O Lord,
I lift up my soul.
~Psalm 86:4

Friday, July 17, 2015

Grace and Beauty

One of my friends is dying.

When we moved to Syracuse in 1988, she and her husband were almost our very first friends.  They'd moved here from Great Britain and I don't even know how long they'd been here.  They had a new baby girl, Diana.

Her name was Fizzy, which was a nickname for Frances.  I think she didn't like the name Francis, because years later, after they had moved to Pennsylvania, she changed her name to Elizabeth.  I am sure that this was easier to explain when meeting people for the first time; and yet, I will always think of her as Fizzy, because the adjective suited her so well.  She was bubbly and bright, witty and charming, refreshing like a perfectly chilled carbonated soda.  Effervescent.

She hosted a baby shower for me when I was expecting Shannon.  She was fun, so it was fun.  I remember coming into her house and seeing a large punchbowl on the counter in her kitchen, with fog rolling out of it, over the edge of the bowl and the edge of her counter, creeping down to the floor.  They'd put dry ice into the punch to make a big impression, and it worked, because 25 years later, the image is etched in my memory.

My life, during the time that we knew her best, was consumed by nauseous pregnancies, so my memories are hazy.  I do remember that they helped us move from our apartment into our first house.  By "helped," I mean that they did the work, along with Shawn and two other couples, while I lay, nauseated, on whatever horizontal surface was available.  At the time, I had a job with an advertising agency and I was storing my ad clippings in a box under my bed.  One of our other volunteer movers found this box filled with pieces of newspapers, and went to toss it in the trash.  In the nick of time, Fizzy recognized that it was significant.  She quietly saved it for me, and then alerted me to where she had put it for safekeeping.

Oddly, many of my memories of her are of stories told after events that I missed, like the time she met the actor who played Javert in Les Mis (Shawn and I couldn't go because the show conflicted with Shannon's birth).  I've written about it before.  She was always sort of charmingly brash and witty, and she'd had dinner with the actor before the show because he was the brother of a friend of ours.  She joked and jibed with him, unselfconsciously, just being her sparkly self.  But after the show, after she'd seen him perform and heard him sing, she was dumbstruck.  Everyone got quite a kick out of that, the idea of Fizzy being dumbstruck!

Another time, a group of us girls were going to go out for dinner together.  For whatever reason, I wasn't able to go in the end.  But I heard afterwards that Fizzy had turned up to the restaurant in a gorgeous deep blue evening gown and sparkling jewelry, completely out-dressing everyone else.  If it had been anyone but Fizzy, it might have been interpreted as an attempt to intimidate.  However, she was not like that at all, and thus everyone found riotous delight in her glorious finery.

They had a spacious blue living room with comfortable blue furniture.  We sat around in that room and had small group Bible study.  It was usually at their house, and it was my favorite when it was at their house.  Anthony was a good leader, too, well prepared and organized, insightful in his questions, but never dominating as a teacher.  They had a blue sofa and a blue loveseat, and at that time in our lives it became a joke that Shawn and I should avoid sitting on that loveseat together, because every time we did, I seemed to turn up pregnant shortly thereafter.

I even babysat her children for a short while, when Laura was a little baby.  I remember teaching Timothy that our baby's name was "Baby Lo-Lo." I was pretty overwhelmed with life at that point in time, and the babysitting gig couldn't last.  Still, it was truly a high point of each day when Fizzy poked her cheerful face in my door while dropping off or picking up her children.  Shawn was a direct report to Anthony at work in those days, and Anthony was an excellent boss who has remained a life-long friend.

Time passed, and they moved to Pennsylvania.  Each year, faithfully, a Christmas letter would arrive, full of news and humor and Elizabeth's unique way of finding joy in the paradoxes of life.

She changed her name sometime after moving to Pennsylvania.  I have never before known anyone who changed her (or his) name, but then, I have never known anyone like Elizabeth, or Fizzy-Elizabeth, as I have cataloged her in my mind.  It has a ring, doesn't it?  Fizzy-Elizabeth.

Every year, her Christmas letter would arrive, and this past year it arrived as well, witty and upbeat as always, but candidly explaining that she'd come home from a cruise last summer with what she thought was a stomach bug and discovered it was cancer of the appendix.  It was so very Fizzy-Elizabeth, the way she spoke of it. Right there, in the middle of the letter, no pussy-footing around, no complaining, a well-placed joke here and there to keep our spirits up (she would be very concerned about that).  She thought it would have been handy if one of her kids could have found a cure for this a year or so ago, but it wasn't the kind of research they did.

That was December.  They were also in the middle of selling their house, for Anthony had received a job-transfer to Denver.  Pennsylvania to Colorado, trans-continental move, with incurable appendix cancer (there was so much cancer, they couldn't even take out her appendix; it was like salt and pepper, the surgeon said).

In March, they moved.  Thinking back on the trauma of my own move in 2013, I cannot imagine how this came to pass, but I do know that God works miracles and gets you places you never thought you could go.  I think back to how Fizzy helped me move when I was incapacitated with pregnancy in 1989, and I just pray, because when you want to be the hands of Jesus, but you are separated by so many miles, then prayer is the thing to do.

Since the move, things have gone downhill.  Elizabeth can no longer update her own Caringbridge journal entries, so Anthony has taken over.  Of course, Elizabeth used to write with cheeky humor, noting such things as the incongruity of how they put her on a clear liquid diet, but still made her drink barium before her stomach scans.  Anthony writes with quiet realism and perceptive awareness of the punctuating details as this journey progresses--a neighbor's dog following him home from a walk and into their house, a golf ball bouncing onto the deck between them as they sat enjoying the mountain view.  It is real.  It is happening.  Our friends are experiencing this in all of its oddly intermingled pain and strangeness and ordinariness and excruciating beauty.

She may have hours, or days.  They are all together, there in Colorado, Anthony, Elizabeth, Diana and Timothy.  I imagine her formerly robust self, now cancer-skinny and wordless, hooked up to tubes, unable to move her limbs, each breath a miracle of a sort.  Anthony writes that they are quite sure she is not in pain, not that they can tell.  Yesterday she rallied and walked to the bathroom, with support.  She has fought the good fight.  Today she is resting.

I think of a beautiful life, a life lived in kindness and hospitality and concern for the hurting.  She served, she prayed, she encouraged, she cheered.  Now it is time for the rest of us to do these things for her.

God gives us flowers and sunsets across billowing clouds, mountain views and skies of azure.  He puts beauty in the world around us, and somehow, this comforts us.  I don't know why, but it does.  Perhaps it is because He is beautiful, and the beauty reminds us that He exists, and He has a kingdom, a perfect, beautiful kingdom.  Fizzy-Elizabeth will be there soon, but we will get there, too, by faith.

The righteous perish,
    and no one ponders it in his heart;
the devout are taken away,
    and no one understands
that the righteous are taken away
    to be spared from evil. 
Those who walk uprightly
    enter into peace;
    they find rest as they lie in death.
~Isaiah 57:1-2

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fourth of July

Last year at this time we were in Ohio.  It was the day before Laura's wedding.

This year we are in Illinois.  I guess it's actually our first Fourth of July here in Illinois.

Also, we are alone, just Shawn and me.  We may or may not get to see Jon.

I am struggling with this empty nest phase.  I don't like it.

Back in Syracuse, on the Fourth of July, we never really did much.  School was finally over, which was a great relief and a blessing.  The pool was open, sparkling blue and usually quite warm.  The Fourth of July often involved sleeping in--a late morning to celebrate no school and a day off work for Shawn.  After a lazy breakfast, we would swim, relax, bask in the heat of mid-summer and the luxury of not having a schedule to keep.  On Memorial Day there was always a parade, but on the Fourth of July we stayed home and played, all six of us.

At some point, we would pull out the grill and cook up some hamburgers, which we ate with everything we could pile atop them, especially cheese, tomatoes, pickles, lettuce and condiments.  Hamburgers, often corn on the cob, nasty salad, potato salad, watermelon, a veritable feast.

After sunset, we'd scramble to figure out where we could go to see some fireworks.  Usually we parked at the Liverpool library and watched the show at the Fairgrounds from our side of Onondaga Lake, lugging lawn chairs up the parkway and drenching ourselves with bugspray despite the futility.  Sometimes we'd finish with root beer floats back at home after the show.

Traditionally, I stand at the sink and eat a quarter of a watermelon all by myself on the Fourth of July.  That's the only tradition we've been able to retain this year.  Slightly depressed, I didn't get my usual full quarter of the melon down; I barely cracked an eighth.

With the extra day off work yesterday, we should have gone to see someone.  Shawn's parents, my parents, and Matthew and Laura all live about an eight hour drive away (in completely different directions).

But.  There is stuff to do here, and a vacation day is awfully good for getting stuff done.  Ugh.

Clearly, this is why I am writing on my blog.

We've needed to repaint the laundry room ever since the disastrous kitchen remodel, because the electricians dug a big hole in the wall around the laundry room light-switch when they were wiring the kitchen.  I was not enamored of the color of the laundry room anyway (it was green).  So we decided that this was the weekend to tackle it.  We will paint it "Berkshire Beige" to match the family room on the other side of the kitchen.

Yesterday we started priming.

Now, I can get a nice line when I paint.  It is not the particular line that I am working on that is the problem.  No.  The problem is all the paint I dollop elsewhere in the process, the paint that somehow finds itself randomly running down the middle of the wall in gooey globs while I am working on edging the baseboard.  The paint that dribbles onto the floor, under the dropcloth, that I then step into and track into the kitchen: that is the problem.

It reminds me of the time I tried to dye my hair.  I always wanted brown-black hair.  One day about ten years ago, I decided to do it.  I bought a box of dye to darken my locks and took it into the kids' bathroom.  I read the directions very carefully.  By the end of the process, I had ruined a bathroom rug and the jeans I was wearing.  Splashes of dye had hit the wall behind me and run down next to the towel bars, brown-black stains on the sky-blue walls, and Mr. Clean could not get them off.  Like the cherry on top of everything (only not really), the next time I showered and washed my hair, it fell out in handfulls, thinning by at least 50%.  Ever since, I've been thankful to have any hair at all, regardless of color.

Ultimately, Shawn sent me out of the laundry room and did the priming himself yesterday.  By leaving, I did get the dogs out of the way, since they go wherever I am.  All four of us in the tiny laundry room, trying to climb in behind the washer and dryer where they stood pulled out from the wall, was too much of a crowd.  Can I blame my clumsy ineptitude on the lupus?

I retreated to the living room where I laid on the sofa and prayed for my family while my husband painted.  Then we went to bed.  We awoke early, to bright sun and the sound of Piper vomiting bright yellow stomach bile onto our bedroom carpet.  The laundry room being in disarray due to the painting project, we had to scramble to find the things we use to clean the carpet.  By the time we'd exerted ample damage control and obtained a couple of cups of strong coffee, there we were on the Fourth of July, 2015, all alone with only a painting project to keep us busy, and I can't even paint. 

So I made a ridiculously huge potato salad and stuffed myself with watermelon for old times' sake.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What I learned in June

1.  June flies by faster than all other months, except perhaps July and August.  (I didn't really learn this particular fact this year, but I experienced it yet again with profound certainty.)

2.  Love, fear, faith, hope, dread and acceptance all live in my heart at once, and this is why I need Jesus every single moment of every single day.  Honestly.  I've been around a few years.  I've even read the Bible a few times.  But every day I have to die to my fears, my desire to control outcomes, my disappointment at my inability to control outcomes.  Sometimes I wonder why I can't get my spiritual act together, already.  But God is full of grace, and He loves me, and there are times when I think He is telling me, "This is right where I want you, just the way it should be.  You always need to remember that you can't do it without me. You need me, and your need for me is a good thing."  Yes.  He says, "Abide in me, for without me, you can do nothing."  Amen.

3.  Everybody, even I, can win something once in awhile.  I was chosen to be part of Emily Freeman's launch team for her new book, Simply Tuesday.  They sent me a book in the mail, a preview copy for "advance readers."  Yes, I have a title: Advance Reader.  I never win anything, but somehow I won this.  They gave me a book to read, and they want to hear what I think about it.  Did you get that?  They actually want to hear what I think.  This is a little scary, since I am jumping in with a bunch of people I don't know.  What if they find me offensive?  Stupid?  Boring?  (haha -- see #2 above)  Still, it is a special thing, and I am grateful and amazed to have been chosen.

4.  I really, really like making my bed, folding clean laundry and doing dishes.  This was a very encouraging realization to come to.  I do not like organizing anything, not closets or bookshelves or drawers or bills, and especially not the basement.  But I do like making my bed, folding laundry and washing dishes.  It's not that I simply don't mind doing these things (I don't mind cleaning toilets and sinks, or making dinner), but I actually get happy from doing them.  So I hope this means I am not utterly lazy, which--if it were so--would assuage some of the guilt I usually carry, although perhaps not in the healthiest way.

5.  Gmail has a lot of great features that I didn't know about.  I finally figured out how to add contacts so that they come up by their names rather than some of them coming up randomly by email address (and then being hard to locate if I can't remember the person's email address).
  • In the upper left corner of your Gmail screen, under the Google logo, you click on the Gmail logo (it has a down arrow).
  • From the menu that appears, you select "Contacts."
  • In the Contacts screen, in the center, you can scroll through your contacts (from the box on the left you can select "all contacts" or a subgroup, but "all contacts" works pretty well most the time).
  • When you put your cursor into the row of a specific contact, icons appear.  You can select the little pencil to edit your contact.
  • By clicking on the little pencil, you will bring up a window for that contact.  In that window you can set the name (the name the contact is stored as), as well as the person's email.  You can also add additional contact information like phone numbers, street addresses and birthdays.
  • Boooo Yaaaaaa.  You did it.  Organize that mail system, baby!
Another great Gmail feature that I learned is this:  you can print a Gmail very easily!
  • Next to the "reply" arrow on the right, there is a down arrow.  I had often used it to forward an email, but I had never read on down the list.
  • From the drop down menu off this down arrow, you can select "Print"!  Yes!  It's just that easy.
  • Decide how you want to print: select the printer you would like to use, or save to a pdf and store in a file folder where you will someday be able to retrieve the gmail again when you need it.  I do not know why "save to pdf" is a print function, but it is.  That's also something I learned this month.
Well, probably everybody in the world except me knew all about Gmail already.  But I learned it this June, and I think it might even help me with some of my organizational angst (see #4 above).