Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Life Lately

Sweet Gracie enjoying God's world.

Happy Earth Day! I hope this finds you well. In our little corner of the world, it is raining today. It's pretty much the first rainy day we've had all month. The local weatherman said it's one of the dryest Aprils on record. I'm not excited to take a rainy walk but I am grateful that the pollen is getting washed away.

Here are some things I've been learning lately:

Earth day is having its 50th anniversary. I didn't know Earth Day existed until I was a freshman in college at Ball State University. Apparently, I was introduced to more than just beer and sorority life. Oh, and my elementary education classes.

The dog I rescued seven years ago really thinks she's a therapy dog. Sydney, our Australian Kelpie, never leaves my side. Like NEVER. When I get up to use the bathroom, she comes with me. When I go downstairs to do laundry, she follows me. If I go on the back deck, she wants to come too. If I'm sitting on the couch, she's under my feet or beside me. The ONLY time she isn't by my side or behind me is when we go on walks. Then she leads me. 

Sometimes it drives me crazy that she won't leave me alone. (I bet some mamas of littles can relate.) Other times I appreciate her loyalty and remember that she thinks it is her JOB to make sure I am looked after... Sydney reminds me of a scripture verse that is a good one to remember during this pandemic.

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

I'm thankful God is always with me and I want to walk in trust just like my cat Thor does on our skinny railing.

Sometimes you just need to turn it around. Literally! For two weeks I thought my sewing machine was broken so my mask-making project screeched to a halt. It turns out, I was putting in my new needle backward. Ugh! If we're grumpy or discouraged, maybe we can flip our mindset around, "Pollyanna-style." Let's try to be glad and look for the good! 


Reading- Secrets of Willow House, the first in a series by Susanne O'Leary. I recently finished The Stories We Tell by Patti Callahan Henry. It was SO good!

Watching- "Murdoch Mysteries" on Amazon Prime. We're on season one and there are 13!

Needing- My diffusers going and candles lit. I'm going to need to order more Young Living essential oils soon and another citrus soy candle from Target. My Anthro-candle-diffuser-oil recipe was not a big hit with my husband, so I'm not using it, but maybe you'll enjoy it.

I really wanted the "real thing" so I went onto the Anthropologie site to possibly order a Capri Blue Volcano candle, but after shipping it would be over $40!! I just couldn't do it. 

Creating- I am finally working on photo albums. I will have to write a whole other post on that.

Loving- Playing games and laughing with my adult kids on Zoom (hopefully once a week.) The other thing I'm loving is our new downstairs bathroom color. We Mike painted it a pretty pinky-peach called Embrace. It looks a bit like pink grapefruit and goes good with the new shower curtain I picked from Target. 

Thanks for stopping by to read "See Jane Learn." I hope you're safe and well and making the best of this STAY AT HOME season. 

In His Grip, 
xo Jane

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
Proverbs 16:24

Saturday, April 11, 2020

While We Wait

The Story sisters (back in the day) in our Easter finery!

Hello and Happy Holy Saturday! This day represents the hard day of waiting and wondering between the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday and the glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. My bible study friends and I agree; we are thankful we wait in hope and know how the weekend's story ends.

 Last Easter we were in Spokane with most of our family and worshipped at Summit Church.

While we wait for the Coronavirus to stop spreading and the stay home order to lift, we wait in hope... hope for healing, vaccines, our economy's recovery, the simple gifts of going to the grocery without fear and attending church in person. Personally, I can't wait to spend lots of time with my grandbaby and her Mama and be allowed to travel so I can see my other three kiddos and my Indiana family.
Gracie and Grandma

Story sisters all grown up.

This Holy Week has been filled with sunshine here in the PNW and we've enjoyed our deck overlooking our Harbor town.  Slow mornings with coffee and the Word, walks with Sydney, puttering around the house and yard and connecting on Zoom have filled my days. I appreciated what I heard on Rachel and Dave Hollis's "Rise Together" podcast, where she talked about ten years from now and what memories her children would remember of this COVID-19 quarantine. They are working on making sweet memories with their four children. I will remember having lots of time with my normally-traveling-sales-manager hubby and Zoom happy hours with my four+ kids. I will remember waving to ALL the people walking by our house each day. I will remember attending church in the living room, and going to bed each night with a "Sleep on this" message from my pastor and a beautiful praise song on Instagram from Natalie Grant and her husband.

While we wait, be blessed and know that

"He is not here; HE IS RISEN, just as He said."
Matthew 28:6

Thank you very much for taking the time to read, "See Jane Learn." I wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Easter!  We will get through this, together. Stay well and wash your hands!

In His Grip, 
xo Jane

P.S. Below are some of my favorite bloggers for you to check out. Enjoy!

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
Proverbs 16:24

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Life Lately

Happy Sunday! I hope you are well, hunkered in with a human or pet you love and trusting that our World will eventually be restored.  It is hard to believe that it's only been 11 days since our Washington State Governor mandated that groups over 250 could not gather; causing churches, schools, concerts, and sports to screech to a halt.  On March 15 all gyms, restaurants, and bars closed. The phrases "flatten the curve" and "social distancing" became common in our vocabulary. The numbers continue climbing, people are falling ill and dying, and the country of Italy is the epicenter of the Pandemic.

I've been sheltered in place for practically the whole month. The last time I gathered with friends was the first Tuesday of March. My traveling husband came back from a business trip to New Jersey with a cold and shared his germs with me. Not wanting to compromise anyone else's health or be more susceptible to the virus, I've stayed home except to drive to Target pick-up or to take Sydney on her daily walk.

Besides Target, we've done a couple orders from Amazon and used pick-up at Fred Meyer grocery. My husband has done a couple run-ins to small stores for a few items. Since I am officially over 60 I might do the early shop for seniors tomorrow.

I have seen my youngest daughter and grandbaby a couple times because they too have stayed away from others. This baby girl is the best entertainment there is!

Here's what I've been up to lately:
In the kitchen:
I love to bake, and even though I shouldn't be eating many carbohydrates that seems to be what I'm creating in the kitchen. I tried my hand at homemade French bread, whipped up an apple pie on 3/14 for "Pi Day," and I'm currently baking chocolate chip cookies. Don't judge.

I binged on a new Netflix series called Virgin River and can't wait for the second season. Each night we enjoy several episodes of Father Brown. (Also on Netflix but only until March 31. Boo!) There is a new show on HGTV called "Unsellable" and it features twin sisters up North of Seattle. I love their finished product.

I start every morning with my Lysa TerKeurst devotional, Embraced, then I do the "2020 Lent, His Love Endures" on my SHE READS TRUTH app.

The last book I enjoyed before our library closed was a Jenny Colgan novel called The Endless Beach. It's hard to find available books on our library app, so I'm splurging and looking on Amazon.

Friday night I finished The Nantucket Inn by Pamela M. Kelley and I've been making a list of books I'd like to get for my Kindle.

Some special young women that are friends with my daughters are expecting which gives me a reason to stay busy knitting some newborn baby hats.

A project I'm avoiding:
I have set up a table downstairs and dragged in the bins of photo boxes and albums I need to go through. As of today, I still haven't started. Perhaps when the rain returns this week I'll be ready to dive in. 36 years of marriage + 4 kids=LOTS of photos and most of them are poor quality!

I love my essential oils! I was given a Young Living starter kit and diffuser for my end-of-summer birthday, and every morning I get it going right after I get my Keurig going. My favorites are orange, lemon, grapefruit, rosemary, eucalyptus, lavender and stress relief. An order is on the way, and then I will let you know if I indeed re-created the scent of the Anthropologie candle I adore.

I'm thankful we've had a break in the rain and quite a bit of sunshine here in the PNW. It has made getting outdoors for my daily walk even more delightful. I'm glad we're still allowed to leave our homes to get out in the fresh air! I can choose to walk through the woods, on a trail, through a neighborhood, or downtown near the water. How lucky am I? I especially feel peaceful when I'm in the forest across the street or looking across the water at Mt. Rainier.

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen."
 Hebrews 11:1

I know Mt. Rainier is there whether I can see it or not, and God is with us even though there is a lot of fear in our world right now. Years ago I wrote another blog post called "Seeing is Believing." 

I appreciate seeing (reading) about how God is working through His people during the pandemic.
I found this faith article that talked about so many good things going on in the world right now. 

What have you been up to? I'd love some good fiction book recommendations. Stay well, and thank you for taking the time to read "See Jane Learn!" 

In His Grip, 

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
Proverbs 16:24

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

What I Learned This Winter (Dec.'19-Feb.'20)

One of my sweet friends from bible study gave me the nudge last weekend that I should get back to sharing what I'm learning and what God is teaching me. Last June I realized I didn't have much to share that would be at all interesting to my little group of followers. One month slipped by without a post, and then another and then I hadn't written in 9 months. Anyone who has been pregnant knows that 9 months feels like a significant period of time. I don't keep a journal, and yet when I was writing my "See Jane Learn" blog on a regular basis I was keeping track of my thoughts and processing my feelings. I'm joining Emily P. Freeman and some other writers to share some things I learned from December to February. (And maybe a couple things from the Fall too.)

One of my favorite outings this winter was attending the Harbor Dance production of the Nutcracker with my daughter and granddaughter. It was special because Sarah danced in it when she was a little girl and it was at Stadium High School which is where my Grandma Grace Pande' Young went to school over 100 years ago. (Photos above.)
Here are 6 things I learned this winter:

1. Instagram can be helpful.
Most people have a love-hate relationship with Instagram. If you get inspired by beautiful images it can be a good thing. If you develop envy or realize you're wasting hours each week scrolling, it can be bad. I have learned that it can also be used to unite us and draw us together for the good of others. 

Case in point: Eva Love SherbondyI first learned about this sweet Wisconsin child from the community of bloggers/Instagrammers that I follow who had asked everyone to pray. Her parents, Dugan (a pastor) and Lindsay (artist at Lindsay Letters Co.) shared about the tragic golf cart fall that left Eva (pronounced Ava) with traumatic brain damage. Over the last 6+ months, tens of thousands have joined together to pray for miraculous healing and to send encouraging words. This family's ongoing story of the slow healing journey, faith, and trust in God during this incredibly hard time is such a testimony.

 Eva before her accident.

I had my friend Jenny who makes jewelry at Fairwells Jewelry create a bracelet with Eva Love's name on it so I have a visual reminder to lift her up in prayer every day. 

One of the cool things the Instagram community does is #evasarmy and #evasky. I took this photo out of my kitchen window and it makes me think of her.

2. Predictable is comforting.
Anybody else out there a fan of Hallmark Christmas movies? The storyline is basically the same in every movie; high school sweethearts finally reunite, guy meets girl and they don't get along until they realize they DO get along, an enthusiastic character gets the whole town to rally and discover Christmas cheer, etc. Every movie includes tree decorating, cookie baking, hot chocolate sipping, and caroling. No one ever mentions the reason for the season (the birth of Jesus) but the overarching theme is always loving your neighbor. The movies always leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling and with all the bad news that is on television it's comforting to know that they'll be a happy ending (and of course, a kiss.)

3. Attending baby storytime at the library is one of my favorite things!
Almost every Monday my daughter takes her baby to the library for storytime. She invited me to join them and I cannot begin to explain how uplifting that hour can be. All those babies! They all have different personalities and watching them react to the stories, songs, games, and fingerplays is a hoot!  She loves the egg shakers, colored scarves, and is a really good listener since her parents read stories to her every night. The minute our little Gracie learned to walk she was wandering all over the room; standing right by the teacher, saying hi to all the Moms and children, sitting by the window, etc. As a former early childhood educator, I believe storytime is such a great experience for pre-literacy and learning to follow directions, and is really fun for grandparents!

Gracie Love wanting to see the story up close.

 In the Fall before Gracie could walk.

4. Before there was Marie Kondo, there was Fly Lady and she's still relevant!
Since becoming an empty-nester again (my daughter, son-in-law and grandbaby moved out at the end of the summer) I have been on a quest to organize, purge and develop good housekeeping systems. Last month I was going through my files doing a purge, and I came across my "Fly Lady" notebook from almost twenty years ago. Have you heard of her? Just like Marie Kondo has the tag line "does it spark joy?" Fly Lady's saying is "shine your sink." Marla Cilley, aka the Fly Lady, teaches that if a sink is empty and shiny, then you'll be motivated to clean the rest of your kitchen which spills over into the rest of your home.  It makes me think of the children's book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Completing one small task has a way of making us want to be more productive. I smiled looking back over the notes I had printed off and bound and thought back to those crazy days when I had four busy, MESSY kids at home. I did my best but looking back I wish I had learned how to let go of more stuff since it is difficult to organize clutter. UGH. You can find out more about the Fly Lady system on her website.

5. We're learning a new rhythm to Empty-Nesting.
The first time we became empty-nesters, we were getting used to being back in the Pacific Northwest and we both had new jobs. After that we were busy moving to our current house, planning weddings, having kids move in and preparing for our first grandchild. 

Fast-forward to this Fall/Winter, and we have gotten into a new rhythm. When my husband isn't traveling for work, we have enjoyed spending our late afternoon and evenings cooking together (Right now we're trying Home Chef. In the past we've used Hello Fresh.), taking Sydney for walks, going out for drinks or dinner, and watching shows we've taped. Weekends are for projects, errands, getting together with friends, seeing our local kids and enjoying church. Which leads me to the times we don't want to do the same things.

I am a reader, he is a puzzler. He likes "Game of Thrones", I like "This Is Us". He's an avid golfer. I'm kinda not. Maybe someday? If he wants to watch one of his series he plugs in earbuds and I keep my eye mask handy to block out the screen light if I'm tired. Because we've been married for 36 years we've learned we do some things together and some apart. 

For two months my table was occupied with my husband's 2000 piece puzzle. I'm proud of him for finishing it, but grateful to look at my table and now only see a vase of flowers.

I'm learning to embrace this slower, quieter season while it lasts.

6. My Mom was right.
When my Mom was still alive she would often joke about how young she felt in her head even though her body didn't look or feel young. I really get it now. I turned 60 at the end of the summer and I still feel around 35 inside my head. Maybe it's because I hang out with MOPS mommies a lot? I am young at heart and still discovering what I'm passionate about. My mom also thought you should always be learning. (She was a teacher her entire life.)

My friends spoiled me with a celebration on a yacht.

I took a 6-week class our church offered this winter. The purpose was to help us learn more about the way God created us and live into His call for us. We learned about our personalities (we also took the Enneagram test), our spiritual gifts, and our natural abilities and how God can bring all those things together to serve others. It was really interesting and fun and helpful. If you live in Gig Harbor the class is being offered again starting tomorrow. Go to the Chapel Hill website to find out more. 

Thanks for taking the time to read See Jane Learn to find out what I've been up to in my little corner of the world.

What have you learned this winter?

In His grip and grateful for grace,
xo Jane

Friday, May 31, 2019

What I Learned This Spring, 2019

I'm linking up with Emily P. Freeman and other bloggers to share what we've learned over the past three months. I feel honored that Emily allows novice writers like me to attach our posts to her amazing, talented, thoughtful writing. If you have not listened to her podcast, Do the next right thing, you must! Her book, by the same name, has been released and is fabulous. I have the audio version and I bought the hard copy for my oldest daughter. She says she's hi-lighted a ton and it's helping her as she navigates her summer move down to San Diego.

Here are five things I learned this Spring:

1. Blonde Coffee looks lighter, yet has more caffeine.
I might have blond hair, but I don't enjoy the "blonde roast" coffee. It has quite a lot of acidity~sort of why I don't like IPA beers. I assumed light meant light-in-flavor and low caffeine content. Although some coffee aficionados suggest there isn't a big difference in caffeine content, most agree that after the beans crack open the second time during roasting, they develop oil on the bean surface which changes the color and flavor. Let it be noted that most West coast coffee drinkers and Europeans enjoy a darker roast. That explains why I do too! I had my DNA tested and I'm a combo of Great Britain, Norwegian, French, Scottish, and German. Oh, and I'm a Midwest girl transplanted in the Pacific Northwest.) I might not enjoy a blonde roast, but I love going on adventures with my blond friends!

My hubby gifted me with a Mini-Keurig this Mother's Day and my favorite thing about it is I can choose a different blend every day! I've been rotating through Italian, French, Pike Place and Breakfast Blend pods.

2. Soy is an ingredient in almost everything! 
Due to a digestive issue, my Grandbaby's doctor forced my daughter to go on an elimination diet for a while. (No dairy, soy, eggs, nuts.) Every time I would grab a product that came in some sort of container (jar, can, box) rather than fresh produce or animal protein it seemed to contain soy! Why? Well, I looked it up... Here's how soy is explained by 
"Their consistency allows them to be transformed into oils and flours, as well as dairy and meat substitutes. Importantly, isolated soy proteins are used to emulsify fat and bind water, which keeps many products' moistness without affecting other ingredients."

Thankfully products must have an easy-to-read "contains soy" label since it's the 8th most common food allergy in the world. It might blow your mind to read a list of common food sources. The best substitute we found for actual Soy Sauce was the Coconut Aminos sold at Trader Joe's.

3. You can be sad from a distance.
It goes without saying that the day the Notre Dame Cathedral burned it caught the attention of the world. It was tragic to watch the gorgeous, historic landmark being destroyed by flames. It was so painful to watch on television; I can't imagine the horror that Parisians felt watching it happen in person. I am one of the fortunate people who got to visit Notre Dame on a trip years ago with my husband. It was magnificent!

Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt |  AFP | Getty Images

4. Parenting lessons can come from the news.
When I heard about the college admissions scandal when the story broke in March, I couldn't stop thinking about the mothers. It might have had to do with the fact that this Spring I binge-watched ALL the seasons of the Hallmark series When Calls the Heart, which starred Lori Loughlin as Abigail Stanton.  I just couldn't connect the kind character she played with her real-life mama decisions... I felt like I knew her. Then I remembered she was acting.

Emily P. Freeman's podcast episode 75 explained why she couldn't get it off her mind either. You need to read it or listen. Thank you, Emily, for describing what I couldn't put into words. 
"Doing the next right thing happens one step at a time. So does doing the next wrong thing." and "Today, as you make decisions about your own life and on behalf of those you love, be willing to admit the false stories you’ve been telling yourself." 
I remember when my four children were applying for college. It was a stressful time for a couple of them who missed the scholarship requirement by just a smidge. Thankfully they were still able to attend the University that was their first choice (Yay, Whitworth! Boo for loans.) Their life stories would have been different if they had gone to other schools, but I know God would have been with them down that path. In my brain, I believe it is a parent's responsibility to allow our children to succeed and fail without interceding on their behalf.  In my heart, I often see myself trying to "fix" things. I wrote a blog about my need to fix things. You can read it here.  Lori, I am really sad for you, but you crossed a line...
5. I was born to be pale.

If you read my last blog post, then you know I just had another bout of skin cancer; my second Melanoma. When we've gone on vacations to Florida, Arizona, Hawaii, and California, I love laying out in the sunshine reading. It's been my FAVORITE part of our get-aways besides enjoying the warm weather, scenery, food and drinks, and time with my man away from home. 
I now know that I need to spend more time in the shade and more diligence in coating myself in sunblock.  Life is more important than looks, so I will learn to embrace my fair skin and/or apply self-tanner like a superstar. I will protect myself like I'm a tender baby.

Thanks for taking the time to read See Jane Learn to find out what I've been up to in my little corner of the world.
What have you learned this Spring?
In His Grip, 
xo Jane

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Even With Scars, I Will Flourish

Why hello, friends! Yes, I know it's been three months since I wrote a blog post. I decided to pop over to my neighborhood Starbucks to write. When I'm at home I seem to get distracted. Here's my favorite distraction...Gracie!

The past couple of weeks have been rather scary and unpleasant, but the worst is behind me and I'm "on the mend." Sometime between October when I had my yearly mole check, a rainy Seattle Winter and a few sunny vacations, my fair Norwegian skin was damaged. I have had bouts of skin cancer in the past; Melanoma at age 20, a Basal cell a few years ago, and various precancer moles so I am predisposed to abnormal cells.  I get my moles checked once a year and I DO wear sunscreen when I'm on vacation but I don't apply it every day. 

I noticed an odd spot on my arm this Spring and made a Dermatologist appointment to have it biopsied. I am proud of myself for being proactive because unfortunately, it turned out to be a Melanoma. My diagnosis led to needing a wide margin removed around the area, and the sentinel lymph node removed for testing.

From the time I was diagnosed until my surgery, it was a mere two weeks. I then waited a
week to get my pathology report to find out if my Cancer had spread. I was so grateful for a good report! Now I'm in the process of healing; still wearing a sling, still having pain, and still waiting for the bandages to be removed and see my new scars. 

I heard this new worship song by the band I am They called "Scars" on the radio during the time leading up to my surgery.

"So I'm thankful for the scars
'cause without them I wouldn't 
know Your heart
And I know they'll always tell of who You are
So forever I am thankful for the scars."

Rather than focus on my ugly scars (hey, maybe I'll finally get a tattoo someday to hide them), I want to focus on God's goodness and how fortunate I am. I had SO many friends, family members and people that have never met me praying for a good outcome. What a blessing, and I felt covered in love. I will admit I had some anxious moments and sleepless nights while waiting, but I never doubted God was with me and for me. I want to take good care of myself now, and do what I can to prevent future Cancers. Which brings me to the my-one-word I chose back in January...flourish.

A few years ago my Fraternity, Chi Omega, chose flourish as their theme for both undergrads and alumni. Currently, the theme is "sisters on purpose" I love that too! 

Photo source: Sorority Sugar on Pinterest
The definition of FLOURISH resonated with me since I want to be used in my home and community to bless others. I'm adopting the bloom where I'm planted mentality. I also found a scripture verse that spoke to me.

Flourish definition:
1. To grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.
"wild plants flourish on the banks of the lake"

synonyms:growthriveprosper, grow/do well, developburgeonincreasemultiplyproliferate;
2. a. to achieve success: Prosper
    b. to be in a state of activity or production
    c. to reach a height of development or influence
3. to make bold and sweeping gestures.

"The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rockand there is no unrighteousness in him." Psalm 92: 12-15

If you have fair skin or suspicious-looking moles or spots, please learn from me. Don't spend too much time sunbathing and get checked out! The American Cancer Society website has a lot of information. 

Although I can't do a whole lot of typical summertime activities outside right now due to having my arm in a sling and needing to stay clean and dry, I will be applying my sunscreen, wearing a hat, and seeking an umbrella chair the next time I get to travel to a beach or desert destination. Oh, and using my self-tanner...

Thanks for reading, See Jane Learn! 

In His Grip,
xo Jane