Lasting Love

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Helen and Stu with us at Yogurrtland (family hang out!) last spring

Hello friends– I want to slip one more family event into this little blog/scrapbook.  This week we celebrated Larry’s parent’s 68th wedding anniversary!!  They were married on January 9th, 1949– a day remembered here for it’s unheard of snowfall in Long Beach, where they were married.

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Stu & Helen waiting for the start of grandson Adam’s wedding where Stu gave a beautiful blessing to the young couple  

Just one story– Last November I sat with Stu at the hospital waiting for the replacement of Helen’s pacemaker.  When the nurse came to wheel her off to the operating room, I watched Stu bend over to give her the sweetest reassurances and kiss her before she was taken.  His tender care for her in these last years has taught us all the depths of lasting love.

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Stu & Helen meeting new baby Lois this Christmas time

So Happiest Anniversary Stu & Helen.  God bless & keep you.  Here’s to a wonderful year with all the family ahead…  We do love you both!!

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Our Stu & Helen a few years back at their Big Bear Cabin

 

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New Years Hope

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“Yet hope returns
when I remember
this one thing:

The Lord’s unfailing
love and mercy
still continue,

fresh as the morning,
as sure as the sunrise.
The Lord is all I have,
so in him
I put my hope
–Lamentations 3:21-24

Hello all–   My only real resolution this year is more of a reflection–to remember these words.  If I wake up in the morning, remembering my hope is in God’s unfailing love and mercy, everything else will make sense.

Like the last three days.  I have been painting the study a pale gray.  And let’s just say it’s not going well.  By the time Larry got home tonight I was pretty grumpy (and paint spattered).  But if I can stop and measure that against the merciful daily love of God– paint’s not such a big deal.   I’m hopeful for all he has ahead for me (even if it’s not a beautiful study).  Thankful.

photo: Wisconsin lake from our trip last summer.

Tender Mercies

perwinkleliving-tumblr-comHello all– I was able to snatch part of a morning this week to read through the story of Jesus’ birth, to sit and think and pray…

And the words that stayed with me were when Zechariah spoke of “the tender mercy of our God.” (Luke 1:78)  It made me want to look for God’s “tender mercies”through these days of Christmas.

The mercies of my mom growing stronger, of squeals from the grand-kids.  The splendid mercy of real conversations with our children.  And Christmas music in the house, of sitting down to meals together and the sun through the bare maple trees in the yard.

And the best mercy of God’s son come to earth for us.  I remain  profoundly grateful for God’s merciful love.

 

30 Days of Gratitude

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Hello Friends– It’s November 1st.  When our kids were small, it was the day we posted “The Thankful Heart Chart” on the fridge so they could draw pictures (donuts and dads, dancing and dogs…)  all month to show how they were thankful. I have well over 20 of those precious charts folded and tucked away in a file.  Love them.

But now our kids are grown and out, I need to continue daily thanks this month of Thanksgiving.  So I have a little list.  My plan is to answer one of these questions a day– just writing a word or two on my calendar until I have a whole month of thankfulness accrued.  I thought you might like the list too…

So here’s a list of 30 questions, one a day, to urge our hearts to be a little more grateful.

#1. What made you smile today?
#2. What is the thing you love the most about the person closest you?
#3. What is some comfort at home you are grateful for?
#4. What accomplishments in your life have brought you the most happiness?
#5. What has changed in the last year, that you are grateful for?
#6. What is the best part of autumn for you?
#7. What is something a family member did this week that gave you joy?
#8. What is something beautiful you saw today?
#9. What is something that was hard for you, but you did it anyway?
#10. What made you laugh today?
#11. What was your favorite family outing you went on this past year?
#12. What is your biggest talent?
#13. What gift did you love receiving this year?
#14. What is something that you love in nature?
#15. What is the sweetest thing that happened today?
#16. What is your favorite family tradition?
#17. What is one kindness someone did for you this week?
#18. What do you love about your parents/grandparents?
#19. What do you enjoy about the place that you live?
#20. What do you love about one (or more) of your friends?
#21. What trial or challenge has strengthened you?
#22. What is a dear memory from your childhood?
#23. What is the best part of your job?
#24. What freedoms are you grateful for?
#25. What occasion have you enjoyed with friends this month?
#26. What thing in your life gives you strength?
#27. What have you read/heard this year that made a difference in your life?
#28. What things in your days give you quiet and peace?
#29. What day in the last year brought you pure joy?
#30. What can I do to express your thanks for all these things?

All this thankfulness from my heart goes to the God is good and merciful and faithful in his immense love for us.

“Many, O Lord my god, are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.”
Psalm 40:5

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thank you margeretbergart.com for the graphic.

Gratitude and Prayer

img_8715“Let Gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.”
—Maya Angelou  (1928-2014,  American poet, memoirist and civil rights activist)

Don’t you love this idea?– it’s true.  If I can come to God full of thankfulness for his blessings big and small at the end of my day, it puts all else into perspective.  The day’s irritations, disappointments fade. I can thank God, love God for who he is, for all he has given in his great love and mercy.

photo: San Francisco hike, 2013

Watching Over Us

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“I lift my eyes to the hills–where does my help come from ? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth … the Lord will watch over you coming and going both now and forever more ”  
–Psalm 121: 1 & 8

It’s a comfort to know there is a God who is watching over me, like a father watching over his child.  In the morning when I rise, as I race through my day, in the evening rest, He is always there.  His help is constant, his faithfulness is sure.  So so thankful.

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photo: Ojai Valley a the end of the day, coming down the hill from Micah’s school.

Morning Walk

Good morning all– Been loving morning walks this summer, starting early before it gets crazy hot!  I take off with a splash of sunblock and no attention to hair/makeup!!  So I hope I don’t run you in person!

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Start down the hill at Craig Park–It’s a refreshing time to listen to pod casts some days, or just take time to think and walk and pray.IMG_8690

And keep my eyes open for blue herron or egrets or just a swarm of ducks on the water.
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Around the bend and back up the hill towards home, in the spring there are baby ducks afloat here.
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The green, the water, the clear skies.  It’s the best kind of way to begin the day.

“His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”  — Lamentations 3:22-23
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Children

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“The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.”
–Pablo Casals (1876-1973, Spanish composer, cellist & conductor)

Hi Friends– Loved this soon as I read it.  We have another little grand-girl in the family, arriving in October. And I’m imagining her already, daydreaming about reading stories and baking muffins together, praying for her as I stitch a quilt of sherbet colors for her crib.  She is an impending miracle, a unique and precious life coming into the world.  So thankful. God is good.

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**photo of our grand-girl Mae, last Halloween in her  astronaut costume.

Being Complete

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“Look to your perfect Lord, and remember, you are complete in him.”

–Charles Spurgeon (1834 – 1892)  beloved pastor in London.

Loved reading this– it’s so true for me.  Sometimes I feel like something is missing and I can try to fill the gap with friends or busy-ness or big plans ahead.  But what I really need is to stop and rest and talk with God.  In those sweet moments, I feel complete.

Art Ahead…

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Hello all–So excited about the new addition to our little study– an art closet!!  When I packed up my classroom for the last time, I couldn’t resist trundling home my leftover feathers, popsicle sticks, paints,  and wiggly eyes…  Now there’s floor to ceiling shelves with tubs of supplies just waiting to become “art!”  It will be Big Fun when those grand-girls to roll in and set to gluing, sticking and painting!!

Here’s a little painting session from last summer at Grammy Camp.  Can’t wait to get at it again with those three.

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thanks Pinterest and Sarah Walsh for the Art graphic.

Coin of Your Live

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“Time is the coin of your life.  it is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent”
–Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)  American poet, writer, editor, winner of 3 Pulitzer prizes

I know this has always been true.   And I’ve spent a good part of the coin of my life already.  But with this new wealth of time now one week into retirement, I’m thinking it all trough.  How best to spend these gloriously empty days and months and years I still have ahead?

So this first week I’ve been organizing, talking over meals with friends and left today on a road trip with the grand-girls to see aunts, uncles and cousins in San Francisco.  What a luxury to have the time!!  Hoping and praying to spend my coin well and I am thankful, truly thankful.

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P.S. photo from beach walk in May.

Farewell Laurel School

 

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Hi there friends– These are sweet and sad and exciting days here.  After teaching at good old Laurel School for 21 years, I’m retiring next week!! It’s crazy.  I’ll miss the kids and my wonderful teaching buddies there.  But at the same time, I’m super excited for all that’s ahead.  I HAVE BIG PLANS! (to quote you Laurel Sittig!)

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Last January (before I even knew I was retiring so soon!) I made a list of “50 Things to Do When I Retire” (and the list has grown!).   (So many parenthesis!)  So, since a couple of you have asked, here’s a sample of The List!:

50 THINGS TO DO WHEN I RETIRE (the abbreviated version):

#1. Clean out every drawer & cupboard in this over-stuffed house (that’s week #1)
#2. Plant a real vegetable garden in the side yard
#3. Go back to teach English in China for a summer
#4. Take a watercolor class at Cal State
#5.  Start my “Grandma Book Shop,” so the grand-girls can pick a couple books to take home every time they come to visit
#6.  Start a Wednesday Walkers group with friends–around the lake and out for coffee
#7. Figure out the prettiest section of the Appalachian Trail and hike a week with Larry
#8.  More sweet times with my Mom
#9.  Sew a baby quilt for the newest grand-girl on the way
#10. Sign up for a yoga class
#11.  Camp at Sequoia under the redwoods (where I camped every summer as a kid) with our kids & grand-kids
#12. Volunteer back at Laurel School– in the library, at homework club…
#13. Learn to make pasta
#14. Make 8 trips a year to see our San Francisco kids
#15. Help Laurel plan a wedding this year–so exciting!
#16. Write, draw, paint a Blessing Journal
#17. Pray and sing to God every morning to start my day

There’s more, but I don’t want to put you to sleep.  I’m happily anticipating all that’s ahead…

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Good bye sweet kids from room #2– the girls who giggle over by the window, the tall boy in the front row who always says thank you when I hand him his papers, the pensive little guy with the philosophical answers, the girl with the glasses who loves to have her work checked, the recess soccer stars, the math pack whizzes and the kids who love to read thick books and talk them through.  I will miss you all, truly I will.

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“When I’m 64!!”

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My mom knew how to throw a rollicking birthday party back in the 1960’s!!  

Hi friends– Birthdays.  How do they keep coming around so often??  These days the lyrics to “When I’m 64” keep running through my head (You have to be old enough to be a Beatles listener to know that one!).  So Sunday Larry grilled up a tri tip lunch for the family and then we headed over to Yogurtland for yogurt & cupcakes (thanks to some sprinkle happy grand-girls for the cupcakes!!)  It was a fun, noisy celebration of another year.

And when birthdays do roll around, it’s a reminder to think through the year ahead.  We have good one coming, I think.  I’m retiring in 12 days!  Our Ani & Brian are expecting their first little one coming up!  And Laurel & that John just called yesterday to say they are engaged!!  (please excuse the excess of exclamation points.)  So even though I’m a little more creaky and  worn around the edges, I’m happily hopeful for the year ahead…

And here’s my Year 64 Plan:
#1.  Find the joy in all these big things, and in little things in my days.
#2.  Start checking things off my “50 Things to do When I Retire List!””
#3.  Buy less things.
#4.  Spend more time taking care of people.
#5.  Be more prayerful (thank you LeAnn, for your encouragement in this).
#6.  Set my heart on what is real and true and eternal.

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I’m on my way to 65 and it looks just fine ahead.  I’m so grateful.  God is good.

Kindess

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“I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being; let me do it now.  Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
— Etienne de Grellet (1117-1855, French, son of advisor to King Louis XVI, who fled to America and became a Quaker missionary. )

Love, love these words, don’t you?  OK, so it’s 5:30 A.M. here.  And I’m only going to pass through this day ahead once.   So I’m excited for a fresh chance a day offers to spread a give out a little kindness at school with my kids, with friends at dinner, to my dear old Larry at home.  I’m sure it’s on your mind too.  There’s never too much kindness and goodness out there.  God keep us from neglecting or deferring–we need to see where this kindness is needed ahead…  thank you.

Worry & What I know

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Hello all– Do you remember that story of Jesus and the storm?  When a squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, his friends cried, “Don’t you care if we perish?!!”  And Jesus stood and with a few words calmed the storm.  And turned to them and asked, “Why are you so afraid, do you so have so little faith?”

We’ve been through a bit of a storm these past weeks, some uncertainty about the future.  I wish I could say I didn’t worry a bit.  But there have been a few sleepless nights when I want to cry, “Don’t you care if we perish?”  Uncertainty.  It’s just hard.

But someone reminded me of this story and who is is “in my boat.”  That’s been a comfort and a stay in these weeks.  I’m afraid my faith is still small.  I’m prone to worry.  But this is what I know– Jesus is in my boat. That is enough.

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Thank you laurajames.com for the picture.

Daily Beauty

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Fields (2) painted by Camille Pissarro

“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.”
— Camille Pissarro (Danish French painter (1830-1903) and a mentor to the French impressionists.

I’m afraid I’m often one of the “see nothing” people, living my days in a mad rush.
But I’m hopeful– there is beauty in every day, if I just stop to look…

So at the end of this day, thank you for the banks of blossoms as we rode by the park on the bus.
Thank you for the brightness of the sugar snap peas on our dinner plates.
Thank you for the sound of my 88 year old Father-in-laws voice on the phone.
Thank you for the sun pouring in the front windows late this afternoon.
Thank you for the sweetness of Ani’s fresh face as we passed a quiet day together.

These things are blessings.  I am grateful.

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P.S. Camille Pissarro is one of my very favorites. I have a tender print of a mother with a baby sitting in a garden, from one of his paintings, hanging by my front door.  And loved Irving Stone’s endearing and comprehensive biography of Pissarro, Depths of Glory. 

 

So Far Away…

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Two of our far-flung family (Laurel of Wisconsin and Little Mae of San Francisco)

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.”
–Frederick Buechner  (American writer and theologian)
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I think I love this so much because my family is scattered far and wide.  Kids from Wisconsin to San Francisco to Ojai.  And my beloved sis now settled in Kosovo (I had to look that one up on the map!).  I carry them all with me…

Peace on the Roller Coaster

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“Thank you, God, for this good life, and forgive us if we do not love it enough.” — Garrison Keillor

Good old Garrison Keillor.  We’ve enjoyed hours (mostly on the car radio) of his folksy insights.  And thankfully, usually I do love my life.

But the last couple weeks our usually placid life has become a unexpected roller coaster ride.  There have a couple of the best “ups” and some truly disheartening downs– a friend’s cancer diagnosis, drastic changes at school…  I’m woozy.  And clinging to what I read in Philippians:

“Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for what he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything you can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”   — Philippians 6-7 (NLT)

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P.S. Photo from Mom’s birthday weekend at Hume Lake.

Walking into Lent

Lamb_of_God_Bleeding_-_Visitation_SymbolHello friends– Our church doesn’t observe the season of Lent, so yesterday early I went with my teacher friend, Maryann, to her church, Saint Angeles, for the quiet and reflection of their Ash Wednesday service.

I’m grateful for 40 day set aside to pray and worship, thanking God for the enormity of his care for us.  With the pressing complications of life right now, it’s good and right to turn my thoughts in that way…

In these days I’m remembering  Ephesians 3:17to 19
“And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is he love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

God is good.

Psalm 73

DSC03548Hi friends — This weekend as we were traveling home down the interstate, I listened to a TED talk on the subject of death.  Not something we think about a lot.  I thought what most of the speakers tried to say was that considering death, gives you a perspective that allows you to be more intentional with the life you have left–time with family, travels, conversations you mean to have.   That is so valuable…

But what I didn’t hear was how to think of death itself, and what lies beyond.  That is the blessed hope my faith gives me– hope in God’s presence now and forever.

I like this little vignette from Psalm 73.  It seems a picture of a life (and of a death) to me.  I have it written on a pretty card and read it most days– God the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  It’s a comfort, a joy.

“I am always with you, you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?  And being with you, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart 
and my portion forever.”    –Psalm 73:23 to 26

P.S. photo from our trip through upstate NY last summer.