Home for the holidays 2013

I started working on my blog yesterday. I picked the book and sketched my mind map, but the day’s events kept invading. Distracting me, blocking my thoughts.

First on my calendar was the closing on our Colorado house. That required no participation by us. However, I imagined the new owners experiencing their first day in the dwelling that had been our home for nine years. A good home. One we were comfortable in. Now theirs. I hoped they enjoy it as much as we did. That they form good friendships, appreciate the neighbors, relax by the pond. I did. I’m trading all that for new options—the blank journal pages of my life.

Next on my calendar was the move-out inspection from our California apartment. Our temporary home. Comfortable enough, but where were the friends and the memories? No time to accumulate those. Merely a few weeks in limbo. Weeks that gave me time to acclimate to northern California, remember the busy traffic, and experience record low temperatures.

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Hillside view

Finally, my agenda ended with the appointment to sign documents for our next home. The one we plan to make comfortable. Our dreams swirl around this next building—a condo this time because taking care of outside space isn’t our thing. But it has two balconies from which to watch the birds soar in the thermals against the hillside and enjoy the sunsets. A change of scenery. A chance to make new friends. Another phase of life.

But those dreams must wait until Thursday to begin. California’s closing process works that way. So I’m still on hold, waiting. Dreaming. But not focusing hard enough to write about the book I recently read. Hopefully I’ll do that next month when I am in our new home. Until then we’ll make it our home for the holidays.

How’s your holiday home? Is it familiar? Have you made changes?

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Do you know the way to San Jose?

Recently I’ve learned two ways to get there. Hop on a plane and fly. It’s a short flight from Denver, barely long enough to justify spending time with security checks and baggage claim. Alternatively, it’s a 20-hour drive on I-80. Head west. If you land in the ocean, you’ve gone too far. Before then, turn south.

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San Jose, California, map

Flying I encountered rolling luggage, hurried travelers, and a packed plane. I read and dozed, clueless about the terrain we flew over. Driving I saw Laramie, Rawlins, and Rock Springs, Wyoming; Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah; Elko, Winnemucca, and Reno, Nevada; and Donner Pass, Truckee, and Sacramento, California. In the car, I read and dozed, observing the mountains, snow, rain, blowing leaves, prong-horn antelopes, sheep, salt flats, and the Mothball Fleet (Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet).

Which way to San Jose is better? Depends on the point of the trip. Do I want speed or adventure? Both are good choices. Fortunately, I experienced both.

Which way do you prefer to travel to San Jose?

(My recent move to San Jose prompted this blog. New adventures await.)

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Reading as self-examination

I enjoy and am challenged by books written from the perspective of an unreliable narrator. The most recent one I read was The Good House by Ann Leary. Hildy Good is a descendant of one of the witches hung in Salem. She lives in the area north of Boston.

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The Good House by Ann Leary

The challenge for me came from deciding how much of her story was true and how much was skewed by her drinking. Her self-awareness and denial entertained me, but kept me wondering how far off she was in describing her behavior. Her children sent her to a rehab center, so she had to be less in control than she thought. But was her denial any different from what I might do? Do I want to face my behaviors truthfully? Deal with them rather than justify them?

Reading is for entertainment, education, and self-examination. The Good House covered all those purposes. What book has done that for you recently? Do you tend to stick with one purpose more than the others?

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It’s been four and a half weeks since I purchased my big black boot (B3) as my latest fashion accessory. Four and a half weeks since my adventures began. (You can read about it in my blog The beauty of friendship.) I had planned to wear my new red boots as a fall statement. Instead I took a detour through one red and B3. Fortunately, only another week and a half and I can wean myself into TWO red boots. Yippee.

big black boot B3

big black boot B3

During these B3 weeks, I’ve moved through many shades of purple, yellow, and green on my foot.  My twice-daily application of arnica gel (the injured person’s best friend) quickened its improvement. There’s still a purple line around the breaking point of my big toe that looks like something bit me. I anticipate it will eventually disappear too.

I learned quickly that my poor uninjured heel couldn’t take the constant pounding on it as I clobbered it in that hard, hard B3. Not to worry, Dr. Scholl’s heel pads were the answer. I’m glad I got them. My heels would probably resemble ground beef by this point.

Now, Velcro is a fabulous invention. It helps young mothers get their children properly and quickly shod. But it also comes with challenges. I discovered the one connected to B3 in the middle of the night. Since I have to wear the boot to bed, I’ve slept covered by the afghan made by my grandmother (see blog Hugs.) A nice enough arrangement. Until the night I rolled over too many times and found myself in a velcroed afghan burrito. I couldn’t move. Good ole B3 had affixed itself to the yarn’s fibers and sealed me inside. David had to come to my rescue. Midnight burritoectomy.

Another way B3 has taken over my life—I can’t drive. There’s no way I can put that clunky thing anywhere near only one pedal with any accuracy. So I’ve been at David’s mercy to drive me (thank you very much). That arrangement ignores the fact I might want to run away from home. Imagine the scenario. “David I’d like to runaway at 2:30. Can you take me?” Not that good, huh? The upside? He’s taken me places and helped me settle into a chair with my mocha (chocolate is definitely required when wearing B3) and gotten whatever else I’ve wanted.

As helpful as B3 has been and as grateful as I am for having it, I look forward to taking it off permanently. Currently I’m allowed to take it off for hours at home with my toe buddy wrapped to the one next to it. In a week and a half, I get to venture out of the house B3 free. Red boots, here I come.

To reassure me I’m not the only doofus out there, please share your adventures with big black boots, casts, slings, bandages, splinters, etc. I can’t wait to hear them.

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October 7, 2013 · 10:08 pm

Facing the world in difficult times

Hymns stick with us because the words are powerful. They speak to me. Nurture me. They’ve survived through the years and evolved into modern versions. One hymn that particularly strengthens me is Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus by Helen H. Lemmel. Third Day, Selah, Alan Jackson, Hillsong, and Michael W. Smith have recorded updated renditions. I like country, so Alan Jackson’s version appeals to me.51FmMkM0Z9L._AA160_

Consider the words of the refrain:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Where better to look? Who cares for us more, deserves our attention more? Looking toward Jesus calms me, comforts me, even lowers my blood pressure.

Look full in His wonderful face. A face of love and sacrifice, strength, reassurance, compassion.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim. Things like a broken toe, floods, terrorists, job searches—the things I’m tempted to focus on instead.

In the light of His glory and grace. Glory that fills the earth and outshines anything on it. Grace that provides the way to God.

Turning my eyes upon Jesus should be my first reaction. I’m sorry to say it isn’t always, but I never regret doing so. A lesson I’m trying to remember: keep my eyes on Jesus instead of the wearying things of the earth and those things will fall into their rightful place. God is in control.

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
 No light in the darkness you see?
 There’s light for a look at the Savior,
 And life more abundant and free!

Through death into life everlasting 
He passed, and we follow Him there; 
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conqu’rors we are!

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
 Believe Him, and all will be well: 
Then go to a world that is dying,
 His perfect salvation to tell!

Do you take comfort from hymns? Listen to the old ones, the new versions, or both?

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Praying in color

I like color. Vivid colors—royal blue, raspberry, leaf green—and soft colors—butter yellow, lavender, cotton candy pink. I also enjoy praying. But sometimes the grip on my heart is too strong, too difficult to articulate. Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God by Sybil MacBeth provides the perfect solution. It’s a chance to speak to God with the Holy Spirit’s help. The approach is simple, requiring only time, paper, colored pens or pencils, and a willing heart. MacBeth’s book contains explanations and color examples.

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I have used this technique in many ways. I have prayed for friends and their families. The paper results were colorful representations of the time I spent focusing on every member of their families. It’s a joy to then mail that paper format to my friend to remind her how important she is to me and God. I used this approach for a group of friends, praying individually for each of them before we gathered. That occasion gave me time to reflect upon each of them, their needs, and what a blessing they were to me. This method also works when my heart and brain are too full and I need to spend time with God, bringing every thought, need, anguish, and joy before him. He knows my heart and through this encounter I feel connected to him. Image

When I’m finished praying in color, I have a tangible representation of an encounter with God and my time pouring myself on the page about a person or issue. What a beautiful blessing. 

Have you tried this technique? Is it something you’d like to try?

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The beauty of friendship

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My broken toe

All I had scheduled Thursday was lunch with my friend Bettye and my small group meeting that evening. Until I hit the curb, that is. With my big toe. Plans disappeared along with any ability to think straight, stand, or care about their disappearance.

Rejoicing over the phone in my pocket, I called my husband, who was inside the house, to come out and help me. Nausea and the possibility of passing out joined me on the ground. Eventually, my stomach settled enough so I could lie on the grass.

I heard a car approach. “Is that Bettye?” David said “yes.” “Good. Is she parking?” Another “yes.” “Good.”

Soon Bettye joined us and stroked my hand. David held my other hand. Surrounded by my support system, I felt loved, safe, and comforted. I didn’t have to worry about what to do. Help was here.

Since David had an appointment, Bettye soon had me loaded in her car and over to the urgent care clinic. Within an hour of falling, I saw the doctor with Bettye by my side. What a great friend. I knew she’d take care of me and be my brain during the appointment.

After an exam and four x-rays, the verdict was a broken toe. A beautiful straight line across the toe between the joint and the foot. A good scenario. Followed by the clunky black boot for four to six weeks.

Bettye and I still made it to lunch—I needed food. Then we waited for my pain prescription. Finally, home where it all began.

I didn’t start out wanting proof of a good friendship. I already knew I had it. Still, what a blessing to know I have a friend who is calm, caring, and competent. I’m extremely grateful.

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