Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Post To Shake Your Cozy Little World

Don't Read This If You Would Rather Not Be Bothered

Some of you may not be able to see this because of your filter. I am sorry about that. It is Voscamp's story about the women and girls suffering in ISIS controlled places.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Living In Yes With the Team

    I witnessed something awesome (Yes, only God is awesome, but so is something He is in) and inspiring yesterday.  We belong to a tiny, country fellowship of believers. On a Sunday morning when the house is full we can maybe muster a count of fifty people.  We are small and sometimes we feel rather insignificant. When we have troubles or triumphs it hardly registers with anyone of any importance in the larger scheme of church-ianity. We are pretty much just us. Nothing to hide. Nothing to brag about, either.
    Yesterday afternoon, one of our families whose children participate in RISE, a national organization of Bible memorizing/quizzer groups, hosted a quizzing at our church. They brought in as many of the local quizzers and parents that they could and set up right across the front of the chapel. We had fourteen chairs equipped with sensors that made lights on the quiz master's computer. Without going into detail and trying to explain how it works, I would like to give you a feel for what happens during a timed quiz. Fourteen children ages 11 to 16 sat in a row across the front facing our little congregation. They have been memorizing the book of Acts for a year now. These kids know their stuff. The quiz master says a reference and begins to ask a question and they are jumping off their chairs immediately. The computer before the master lights up when they jump; so he stops and calls on the first light that came up to finish the question and answer it or quote depending on which he has asked for. They told us afterward that at nationals the other week in Pittsburgh the quizzing went much faster than yesterday's quizzing. But I'm telling you, there was no slouching here, either. I would challenge any of you to know a book or even one chapter of the Bible well enough to be able to quote at random a verse or a phrase of it word perfect under this kind of pressure. They have been spending hours every day memorizing and studying knowing full well what's ahead in a timed quiz. This is not for the lackadaisical.
    The master puts up the reference and picks the first jumper to go ahead. Quizzers don't stand still. These children will make great music directors: flailing arms, bending bodies, raised arms, snapping fingers, etc. They think, by moving. And they give correct answers, or trial answers, or they sit back down saying, "I don't know." Mostly they DO know.
    I haven't gotten to what I wanted to say yet. Here it is.  The teamwork is amazing. Not once did I hear them give a negative groan at a teammate's wrong answer even though it costs the whole team when someone flubs. Instead they say, "Good try!" affirming them. When there's a correct quote or answer everyone is cheering and "fiving". It was inspiring.  These fourteen children know each other very well. They represent several different families from several different types of churches. Yet their parents/coaches and quiz masters have formed this tight team that knows how to BE a team in every sense of the word.
     I am inspired to always affirm and encourage even the smallest attempt at right answers. I want to change to the point of having the mind of Christ with my team no matter how badly one of us goofs it up. I want us, all fifty of us, to figure this out. I want these words to come from my lips as readily as those children's yesterday: "Good job!" and "Good try" over and over on every occasion.
    You can do this thing! Those words should be offered from us moms and dads to our children often. Amy was honest enough with me last week to tell me how much those words mean to her. Verbal affirmation is empowering and freeing. Children who hear, "Good job" often, more readily live in the room of victory in their personal lives.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Summer Work/Adventure

   Suddenly we are plunged into a new summer schedule. Last time, back in 2011 or was it 12, it didn't pan out so great. We hope this time it works better.
   Elv and Lance will be logging over in Minnesota. They're taking a travel trailer with plans to live on the job and mostly work and sleep now and then, for the first four or five days of every week and then come home for the weekend. Please withhold judgment about the wisdom of this. Primarily because employees usually end up doing what they're asked to do. And secondarily because I have to withhold mine even though this directly affects me, too. So if I can stand it; so can you.
   Lance said we can choose to make this next eight weeks a pain or a party. It's up to each of us. We'll all get a chance to choose, no doubt.
    The sky is weeping again today to fit my mood. We've been working all morning at making the RV livable again, packing clothes and kitchen stuff. It feels a little sad to know we are to be living separate more days per week than not. Oh I know, truckers wives do it all the time. For once I am not devastated about it either.
   I'd better not be, Elv is really looking forward to this stint of logging. It's red pine plantation...should be straightforward work to get a lot done, maybe a few big checks. It does feel a little "off" to my heart, though.
    There are no fires in the stoves today because we're all running in and out anyway so there's no point in them. Dampness pours in through the open door, and the chill settles in. It fits.
    And one more whine. That tooth that I had filled the other week without Novocaine is now throbbing to beat the band. So I have to go traipsing back in to the dentist and have him do a root canal after all. People like me don't get by with ignoring these things if they want to keep a much treasured prosthesis in great shape. This nagging worry fits my day, too.
   There that's enough complaining. I have plenty to be thankful for today, too. My coffee is from fresh ground beans. The bouquet here by my computer is of forget-me-not that comes up volunteer every year at the foot of huge, old oak tree in our yard. Spring flowers are blooming beautifully everywhere. The trees are leafing out already.
   I'm feeling cared for by a good man and our children. Not especially since we just had Mother's Day, either. Although it's fun to get gifts and notes, I admit. It's just that my family is great at letting me know all the year and I'm glad.
   A packet of flower seeds came from Jungs today in the mail. Larkspur, Cosmos, Zinnia, and Bachelor Buttons. I am envisioning long rows of flowers blooming in all colors under the summer sun. I have a dream to cut arm loads of them for bouquets for a rehearsal dinner the 24th of July. Miracle Grow, a lot of weeding and tilling, TLC, prayer, and the Lord willing, ought to make my dream come true.
   I read a George MacDonald book this week. It wasn't a bit of what I expected! Michael R. Phillips used up the first 20 pages of the book quoting C.S. Lewis' recommendation of MacDonald besides his own vouching for the same. So I was all geared for a carefully wrought Christian fiction story in old English, philosophical and boring. Instead, I found mystery, murder, love and hate, ugly and the beautiful, intrigue, ghosts, castles, villain and hero, sin and salvation, and human nature as real as life all in one short novel. I read the whole thing on Monday, cozy by the fire. Rain and cold outside only served to complete my satisfaction. My education is supposedly furthered as a reader/writer. Could be. I forgot to watch his craft for enjoying his story. That's a good sign in his favor, isn't it? Perhaps once I've read a few more  of MacDonald's books; I'll begin to notice. 
   Keep calm; and carry on.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday Posting/Musings

 It's almost summer again. Summer: bare feet, vacation days, biking on dusty lanes, swimming in the coolness of blue sparkling, sun-flecked water, weeding in the garden, toes dug down past the too-warm soil to the damp and cool beneath.
    It is the season for tailgate suppers in the woods beside the monster machines creaking and cooling down after running all day.  In the shade of the leftover trees or the mountainous ranks of popple, pine, and hardwood bolts we roast hot dogs over a tiny fire placed carefully on the denuded forest floor on the trail. It's the place for those silly, cheap, folding lawn chairs to sit in a comfortable circle in the dust around the fire. Whippoorwills and frogs serenade us as darkness settles around us.
   Summer is the time for VBS and reunions. Which will we attend? It's also the time for weddings. And the outdoor upkeep on buildings. And church camp-outs. Full weekends of social events. It's the time for trade shows and festivals. Everyone wants to vacation at some point so we discuss who should work, when, so that vacations can be spread around to each and all in need. If we are not careful; we double book and have to rework the calendar, again.
   Summer is the shortest, most treasured season of all. I purpose to enjoy it as such.

 We have an old door from Grandpa Skrivseth's house in our house. It swings between the entry and the rest of the house on hinges, no latch. It is not a pretty door, but pretty nostalgic for me. This spring we gave it a new coat of paint on the entry side and sanded and varnished it on the house side. The door knob and back panel thereof were black with age and use. Soda and lemon juice and a scrubbing did wonders. There was brass and nickel under all that black stuff.


These miniature fields of flowers are growing in the lawn grasses. Have I been so blind all these years? How many other worship opportunities have I I miss every day? The flowers are about a half inch long on three or four inch stems. Some kind of pansy or violet, I suppose. I was waiting for Elv to pick me up to go to Lance's to supper with his fiancé's parents when I found them. Waiting for anything last week was our only space for quiet. I tried not to waste it by being bored or impatient. It's good to sit quietly before a seemingly empty landscape with intention. The more you look the more you will see. Try it sometime by the lake or in the doctor's office. You won't be bored.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Dating Days

Fleeting days. Happy, exciting times of being together. A bright future before you.
Every courtship is different. So is yours. You didn't follow the neat and tidy formula very much. At all!

Lance said he had to date someone he already knew pretty well and he had to know ahead of time if she liked him. This mom thought it was a tall order in reality, but I prayed accordingly for him. Dear God, please bring a woman into Lance's life who he already knows and let him somehow know beforehand that she likes him, too. Amen.

 We wondered how God would do this for Lance. He almost never attended the local youth activities. He has worked a full time job since he was seventeen and he headed up a kid's club. That was about the extent of his interests in life, unless you count snowmobiling with Caleb and visits to Nebraska to see his sister. I figured God was going to have to make a miracle happen.

  One thing we for sure weren't going to do was to go wife hunting FOR him. Now I have heard of that being done, but for all of the bright ideas I have heard for Christian courtship, this one takes the cake for ridiculous. That's an opinion, I know, but I feel it is a rather balanced one, don't you?

 We figure if a son is not man enough to do his own courting; he has no business getting married.
   I have prayed for miracles around here before, so I did that again. I have to admit, I didn't think about the fact that He could work on the heart of a woman, too. I know, so much for all my wisdoms about trusting God and not putting Him in a box...
Last fall and early winter, Lance started planning these little outings with Amy and a couple of friends that included a lovely girl we didn't know very well. We watched this with interest, because Lance does not want to take Amy and friend shopping just for anyhow, right?

   Well, it wasn't just for anyhow after all. Pretty soon Lance had Francis calling from Nebraska saying, "Lance William, don't you dare get that girl all interested in you and be that nice to her and then just drop her. You either stop this or get on with asking her. She is too nice a girl to just play around like this if you are not serious!" And other such instructions. Of course, I agreed with them.
Yes, we are enjoying this courtship. Kristine is the best thing that has ever happened to him. God did the miracle perfectly for both of them. She liked him and he was brave enough to ask her out. And let's just say that she is broadening his horizons and he, hers.

They say there's a wedding being planned for the 25th of July. It's going to be a happy day for all of us. God Bless you, Lance and Kristine!

There, Ruthie S. is that what you wanted? That's just my angle. You'll have to ferret the rest out of them, ok?

Monday, April 27, 2015

You Make My Life the Best, And I am Grateful

 We took a long awaited weekend get-away "up north". Not to raise the controversial question of whether or not it is OK to leave everyone and everything behind for three days and just be alone as a couple; I would say this. It works for us. We rejuvenate ourselves and our marriage with quiet and walks in the woods. Some of the chaff of the last two years was blown away for good, realizing that we made it through the hard things intact...maybe even better for it. Although I tend to think I could have learned to extend grace and forgiveness through less drama, right? I certainly would like to give it a try in the next two years.
    On our way  up the shore of Lake Superior we talked about how long it had been since we did a whole weekend away. Elv wanted to believe it had been one year.
     "Remember, we had all that snow and we came up in a snowstorm and did all that snowshoeing..." He didn't say it, but I knew he was remembering his trek out to get our food and luggage that we had left behind a mile away in the car when we couldn't drive any further.  I stayed home, sipping coffee by the stove, puttering in the kitchen, tidying and cleaning away the odd left-overs of the cabin being empty for too long. He was not impressed with me.

   Here is a link for  Two Years ago . I wonder where the snowshoes are by now. I hope someone has them stowed safely for a future snowy April day.
    The lake was just as blue as you see in this picture. We took a picnic lunch with us and Jeeped ourselves to the highest spot behind the cabin. This blue almost three miles away was clearly visible to us.

 I said we came through intact; but I will admit right here that we both have fears and insecurities that are new to us. I deal with depression and he with doubting my support for where we are now in our church life and family. Every day I rephrase in my mind what I am about to say for fear I will add to the negative side of the balance.
I am Dory; but forever grateful that he is NOT Nemo, and is not looking for his Father or family, having established those things with his Heavenly Father steadfastly. So I tell him, "Keep swimming, keep swimming." And I wonder why I am here and how did we get here. It is good for both of us that I trust him, so maybe this is enough for now.

Friday evening we went out for supper.  Northern Lights restaurant was mostly empty. The quiet radio was tuned to some nice "oldies" so we sat across from each other and smiled. We both ordered fish for our suppers. Where else will you have the perfect setting to visit or not and remember another time and place just so, while we were dating. Canoes and every sort of northern fishing, hunting, and trapping paraphernalia hung from the ceiling or were lined up on all the walls, the Lake just outside our window. There was one waitress for the whole place which shows you how quiet it really was.

We took walks everyday.

 This shoreline is below Kathy's cabin. I post it here just to show you one of the moods of Lake Superior. It was a grey, cloudy day, so the lake mirrored that. I have a picture from several years ago of this exact spot with the lake in a vivid blue instead.
    A pair of mallards have moved in to live on the little creek that flows under the  bridge that Elv built a few
years ago.

The old fence line is overgrown with new spruce trees growing right through. I followed Elv through the woods trying to not get my feet wet. We got pretty good at skirting the swamps. One day we decided to see what feeds the little creek just west of the cabin. We both got wet feet that time and ended up on the trail in the woods that takes us up to the top of Buck Mountain. The ruts were full of water, so we used sticks, wishing for shovels, and dug channels for the water to get away. We walked back to the cabin and stood on the foot bridge and imagined that now it was flowing a bit faster. Non-essential and unimportant, but relaxing and interesting. If only all of earth's problems were so easily remedied.

Elv added a bit of wiring to the cabin while we were there. Each time we go up we try to invest a little improvement.
We sat down to play scrabble once and in my search for a pen and paper to keep score; we found the notebook left there by friends for guests to journal in. We found two entries from the folks who had been there twice in March. That really made my day. Thank You, Patti for faithfully keeping the journal. I added to it for you this time.

        Cookstove Toast
Sliced bread
    Slather butter on both sides of the bread slices. Lay tin foil on the cooler end of the cookstove and lay your buttered slices on it. Turn to brown both sides perfectly. Cover the top side with jam and eat it with a fork off your plate, or from your hand with plenty of napkins handy. There's nothing like it. Anywhere.

Lattins made a mousse type cake for a friend's birthday and saved back a bit of mousse just for me. What's nicer than a cut glass goblet of chocolate mousse thrust into your hand to take home and enjoy by the fire with one's husband?

We headed home Sunday afternoon. We came the long way. I can't even tell you where we were exactly some of the time, but here's an old barn over by the village of Gordan, WI.

 Took these with my phone on the way home.
The perfect ending to a wonderful weekend. Thank You Elv for the nice time we had. You make my life the best and I am grateful.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Diffusing the Fragrance

 It's a rainy day. Elv is puttering about much needed tire changes on the Jeep and pickup.     I am sitting at my computer trying to write. It is not working. After three hours of scribbling and backspacing; I have a few disconnected paragraphs about something which I am only partially in the know. There is a kernel of a good idea there, but that's it! And it won't go anywhere because it is only a soapbox for now. I know it could be written and true. But evidently not by me.
   Doing better with enjoying these spring flowers by the house. They last about ten days thriving in rain or snow. They smell fabulous, too.
   What I really want to say is that I believe we should learn to thrive and be beautiful on the inside no matter the weather. We should smell good, too, like Christians do, even when we become old and tired.

2 Corinthians 2: 14, 15 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.