Tag Archive | Mornings with Jesus

The Message of a Kaleidoscope

As soon as I got home from playing at the Presbyterian Church in Cambridge on Sunday, Mim, Floey, and I hopped into the car and drove to Chicago for a late lunch at the Buffalo Ice Cream Parlor. This was a special weekend. 


Chicago looked like a magical kingdom in the clouds.

Forty-seven years ago I accepted a new job as an editorial researcher for The World Book Encyclopedia. I needed to find an apartment and move to Chicago fast to be ready to start work the next Monday. I had less than a week to get settled. For a couple days I slept on the couch of a childhood friend June, who was living in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago at the time. I spent a couple days walking the streets of different “safe” neighborhoods, looking for “For Rent” signs. One evening I went with June to a neighborhood Bible Study. Less than a dozen people were there. One of them was Mim. When June introduced us and explained to Mim that I was looking for an apartment, Mim immediately offered to let me stay with her in her small apartment (one bedroom, but she had bunk beds) until I could find a place of my own. The next evening we went to the Buffalo Ice Cream Parlor to work out the details. The next day I went home to pack up my stuff and move into Mim’s apartment. 

Ch-1 MM on Spaulding

1973 – Mim and me in our first apartment.

Hard to believe that happened 47 years ago, and we’re still living together. The original building of the Buffalo Ice Cream Parlor was torn down and replaced with a Shell gas station while we still lived in Chicago. But, the restaurant lives on in one of the northwest suburbs. Lunch wasn’t quite the same, but we had fun reminiscing about our first meal together. After lunch we drove by our first apartment in the Logan Square neighborhood, and then by the two-flat we owned in the Ravenswood Manor neighborhood. We spent the night in a dog-friendly hotel.


Mim and Floey enjoying almost balmy weather.

The next morning we drove through the Edgewater neighborhood to see an apartment we had lived in for six years. That apartment was near the lake, so we took Floey for a walk along the lakeshore at Montrose Harbor. The weather was perfect – warm and sunny.

As we reflected on the many transitions we’ve made in our lives, we talked more about the transition we are currently in the middle of – going from full-time caregiving in our home to semi-retirement. Monday’s reading from Mornings with Jesus, (a Guideposts Publication) seemed particularly relevant. The author Heidi Gaul was talking about kaleidoscopes. Here’s an excerpt:

… Nestled on my porch rocker, I peek through the lens of a child’s toy, watching colors and shapes dance and play. As I twist the tube, patterns transform and change… 

In my mind’s eye, I see another picture reminding me how different we are as individuals and especially as Christians. Each of us adds something new to this ever-changing creation, displaying the touch of the Master’s hand. One might resemble the bright yellow chips as he visits bedridden members of his church; another, the soft green bit as she calms babies in the nursery…

If we follow Jesus, our “colors” will change according to whatever form of service we’re called to during that season of life. Our responsibilities may vary, but our purpose – furthering Jesus’s kingdom – doesn’t. We are created to serve with the humility and love Jesus shared. 

When we work together in harmony, the product of our labor is ageless and beautiful…

The images produced by kaleidoscopes suggest a new way of reflecting on the many transitions we go through in our lifetime. As Pastor Jeff reminded us in his homily last weekend, in each phase of our life, with each transition we go through, we need to remember what God has told us, 

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
[Micah 6:8, New Revised Standard Version]


My collection of kaleidoscopes. The one on the left was a Christmas present to me from Mim’s mother the first year she lived with us.


Spring Cleaning

Part of my mom's set of nut cups.

Part of my mom’s set of nut cups.

When I was a little girl, I really liked the week every year that my mom set aside for spring cleaning. The best time was the day we took all the beautiful things out of their places for washing. The three places that housed the most treasures were the china cabinet and buffet in the dining room, and the shelves built into the back of my parents’ closet.

Nothing made me feel more special than drinking hot cocoa from one of these cups.

Nothing made me feel more special than drinking hot cocoa from one of these cups.

First, we emptied the china cabinet, which held the most beautiful treasures: a porcelain set of nut cups, a blue and gold teapot, hand-painted plates (frequently used for serving cookies), crystal water goblets and sherbets, and an iridescent, porcelain demitasse set – that I thought was a child’s tea party set. (Mom reinforced that thinking by using those little cups and saucers to serve me hot cocoa sometimes when I was sick with a cold and needed something to brighten my day.)

Second, we cleaned out the buffet. That held the good china (which we used whenever we had company) and Mom’s collection of vases of all sizes, shapes, and colors. The vases would be well used again for cut flowers throughout the upcoming summer.

Third, we removed all the treasures from the closet shelves. That’s where we stored a wide assortment of functional and non-functional pieces: pottery pitchers, dainty one-of-a kind cups and saucers, a few Depression glass pieces, and a brightly painted pottery rooster.

Mom's prettiest teapot.

Mom’s prettiest teapot.

My mom and I worked together well. She handed me each piece, one by one, and I carried it to the kitchen. She told me the background of each piece as she gave it to me. Many of the pieces had been wedding presents. I remember her laughing when she handed me the colorful rooster and said, “People give the goofiest things for wedding presents. I just don’t know what they were thinking.”

When the counter was full of these dusty treasures, Mom washed each piece, and I dried it and carried it to the dining room table to continue to air dry. Then, we went back to taking out more pieces to be washed. When everything had been washed, Mom wiped down the shelves. We took a little break to be sure the shelves were good and dry. Then we reversed the process – I carried each piece to Mom for her to put back in its place. Everything was sparkling clean, and the treasures looked even better.

Last week I read about spring cleaning in Mornings with Jesus 2013: Daily Encouragement for Your Soul, one of the books I’m using for devotional readings this year. The scripture referenced was Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but continually be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is – what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.”

Lisa Watson, the writer of this particular devotion wrote, “Spring has arrived and with it the never-ending pull to cast off the winter blahs, and to get my house in order by doing some serious spring cleaning. The Lord speaks of renewal as well, but He isn’t talking about our residences or any earthly pursuits. He is referring to the renewal of our faith; our commitment to our spiritual side, and a cleansing of our mind, body and soul.”

I’m thinking about what it means to do some spring cleaning of my soul. Perhaps it means I should take a day every spring to take out all the spiritual treasures I’ve accumulated over my lifetime, to dust them off and think about how God has taken care of me over the years and given me so many blessings – people in my life, experiences, opportunities . . . And to think about what God may be preparing me to do next, to “continually be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is . . . “

Mom's china cabinet. It's in our dining room now, filled with Mom's china instead of all the other treasures it used to house.

Mom’s china cabinet. It’s in our dining room now, filled with Mom’s china instead of all the other treasures it used to house.