Monday, December 17, 2018

If Not Now, When?

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."  ... John 8:36


So. There I was Friday, another grey, occasional raindrop morning, after my coffee shop visit. 

I swung my book bag and felt grateful for nearly-snowless sidewalks and 37 warmish degrees and then nearing home, I spied her--our new neighbor who'd bought the dark grey house kitty-corner from us.

She'd moved in last week and I recall thinking, "Well, she mustn't be one of those scary, wreck-the-house neighbors because, hey! After only the first night she'd decorated the door with a Christmas wreath and placed cozy electric candles in the front windows.

Wow, right? Doesn't that stuff usually take years?  シ

Anyway, I turned at our hedge toward the back door, then God and my conscience, both, asked, "Why don't you go over there and meet her?"

"Now?" I asked, pausing in my faded-for-winter Prayer Garden.

Then I heard that phrase which scares any faithful procrastinator like myself, "If not now, when?"

Yikes! I paused. 

"Yeah, now would be a good time, I guess. I look decent, my hair's brushed, I'm wearing my 'going into town clothes' and my black wool coat. Go waiting till Spring and she'd probably drop by here when I'm gardening and resemble a bent-over scarecrow. Not a good first impression, that."

So after another pause, the Queen of Excuses turned around, stepped farther down the street and met Marsha, a lovely widow woman near my age. 

We spoke for ten minutes and I learned much about this busy lady who has 5 grown children and a few grandchildren, as well. I welcomed her to our neighborhood, mentioned a bit about Tom, Naomi and myself and invited her to drop by anytime because I'm always home.

Then after a few more serious raindrops, we said good-bye and I walked back home feeling that wonderful joy of obedience. You know, that thing you feel only after you've pushed past procrastination (or fear or laziness).

Back in my younger years, though? Good grief. Meeting a new neighbor felt like crossing the Grand Canyon by tightrope or like sitting in a dentist's chair. Something to be avoided if one could.  (Just imagine what could go wrong!)

But here's today's lesson: people change. They do! Especially when they stop making excuses--and instead--start making strides closer to wanting to obey God rather than clinging to the silly, fearful self they spent decades creating.

God truly can do anything, even the hard stuff like setting us free from what we'd become without Him. 

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."... Galations 5:1

“The best way to look back at life fondly is to meet it - and those along your journey - warmly, kindly and mindfully” 
― Rasheed Ogunlaru


So raise your hand if, right about now, you need your own special quiet place of renewal and restoration?

As a present, I'll send you to one, absolutely free --

Here you go (play it again and again, turn up the sound if you wish and please stay as long as you need).


Give hope this Christmas.
Give hope this year.
Give hope every year.


Oh! Don't you just love Open Library? (I mentioned it a couple posts ago.)

It does feel like a library down the street (a little. I'm unable to visit my own town's library since they're no longer open on Saturdays.) 

Truly, I'm enjoying being a card-carrying member of Open Library and yesterday afternoon I read an entire book there, one whose title I spied on a list I kept as a teenager of books I'd read in 1976.

This one. A bit intense, but it pulled me in and wouldn't release me until the final page.


"Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." ---- Dorothy Thompson


Thursday, December 13, 2018

Adventure: Don't Live Life Without It.

"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."   ... 1 Peter  1:13


For eons I'd not listened to Susan Boyle's, Wild Horses, so I zipped over to Youtube, the music began and suddenly! Oh, I sat at the Hoosier cabinet in the autumn-gold dining room at our farm.

Music. Crazy how it yanks you places you can't return to any other way, right?

The lamp atop the Hoosier, the large three windows and outside, the orchard, barn and concrete patio where I ironed (sometimes) with vintage music wafting through trees surrounding the meadow.

Funny, last night all I remembered were remarkable, perfect times of those farm years, but oh Honey, if ever Charles Dickens' line--

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ..."

--- fit any situation, it was custom-made for Tom's and my farm years.

Er hem.

But what an adventure, those 3 years and 3 months! A huge piece of me would feel like a dark cave had we not crawled through that tiny Time Window and chosen the farm chapter. 

If we'd procrastinated, though? Oh my, we'd have missed out, big-time. Still gone to Heaven (of course!), but having never, first, opened this present God picked for us. 

Yet that Wild Horses experience reminded me that, uh-oh, lately inside this tiny suburban house I'm forgetting to factor-in adventure, to stay aware and keep myself from sliding into ruts--- 

"Ugh. Another meal to cook."
"Sigh. Another load of clothes to wash."
"Groan. Just another wild Christmas month to survive."
"Ack. Just another day with people-can't-get-along headlines."

But hey, awake, oh sleeper! 

May I, instead, welcome challenges, those (often annoying) times which shake us awake--and dare us to learn, help, grow-up, stand and fight good fights of faith.

Challenges--or better--adventures which keep us leaning against God's shoulder, asking questions--

"How do I fix the broken things?"
"Who most needs my encouragement?"
"You'll help me with this mouth of mine, right?"
"Where should I go today?"
"What's the wisest way to conquer these tough tasks?"
"How should I pray during these troublesome days?"

May I always view normal Life through the lens of adventure. 

And may it keep me awake, excited, creative during these turbulent days, not just closing my eyes, wishing all the unpleasantness away.

No. But rather, doing today what--later in Heaven--will bring me smiles because I accepted simple-obedience adventures from a very non-boring, makes-things-new, adventurous God.


"Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming."   ... Matthew 24:42

"Instead of trying to make your life perfect, give yourself the freedom to make it an adventure, and go ever upward." 

-----Drew Houston

"I'm still a kid inside, and adventure is adventure wherever you find it." 

-----Jim Dale

                  (The farm garden. Now that was a fun adventure!)

A spirit of adventure can keep us from feeling drudgery, hopelessness and dread.


Oh! For my fellow love-to-decorate friends--- a local town had their yearly Home Tour day and wow, look at this photo which they used to advertise it:

I'm thinking that's downright cozy, inspiring and gorgeous.


And for my adventurous crafter friends? Here's something to make you smile--


When my days have turned boring, I blame only myself. Why? Because only I (with God) can make them more adventurous.


Thursday, December 06, 2018

Where Forgiving Myself Is Working Better Than Being Irked

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness..."   ... Romans 8:26


So. This aging lady is noticing certain annoying patterns.

I'll step down two stairs with, say, laundry then suddenly remember, "Darn! I originally came up here for some candles." Then I'll climb back up, feel all exasperated at myself, roll my eyes, grab the candles, balance the laundry then head downstairs.

All while feeling perturbed with this aging brain of mine.

Or, intending to visit the coffee shop, I'll step outside the back door, lock it, step away, then notice I'd slipped on my (smooshed and ugly) gardening shoes just inside the door, not my decent walking shoes from the drawer.

You should hear me (well, perhaps not) mutter under my breath as I search for my keys in the depths of my book bag so I can unlock the door.

Or I'll go online to (finally) answer an email then--20 minutes later--get up to vacuum then realize, "Oh! I did everything online except answer that email."

And that signals a fresh, lively round of, "Man, Debra. Get a grip! Use your brain (or what's left of it). Sheesh."

That is, until 3 months ago. That's about when I decided to just relax. Show myself some patience--and forgiveness.

And that (as they say) has made all the difference.

See, I made a decision: I do not want to spend my later years being mad at myself. Looking back from Heaven, I'd be horrified at the waste of that.

So I'm making changes. If I step down stairs having forgotten something? Unless it's life and death (which it never is), I--

Let it go. 
Forgive myself. 
Repeat, "I'm only human."
Make a mental note to later bring down/do what I'd forgotten.

If my distractions made me forget what even sat me down in this computer chair? Ditto.

If I slipped on The Ugly Shoes, instead? Well, ok. I'd change those. heh. But with forgiveness, not a head-shaking curse.

And basically, that's it. Rather than get mad at myself (or this aging process) I'm choosing to chill. To treat myself with the gentleness I'd give to a grandmother. And maybe, just maybe, this is aiding my memory, as well.

And yes, I'm also applying--

Memory tricks. 
Changes to ways I've always done various things.
Researching vitamins that we 'of a certain age' may require 
And asking God to help me recall what really matters.

You know. It's not like I'm being all que sera sera about this.

But my point? Life is short and too precious to spend it perturbed, frustrated with ourselves. Or others. And from that other side of Heaven may I not gaze back, horrified, that I treated my aging self poorly.

So I will forgive Older Debra her weaknesses. I'll do (and learn) what I can, make changes, then ask God to do what I cannot. 

And then? I'll choose to be happy, grateful for today and for the memory I still have left. シ

Oh, and I'll trust God that--until He uploads my shiny,improved memory in Heaven--all will be well, wonderful even, as only He can make it.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."  ...Psalm 46:1

Be kind to yourself.

Oh, and as I told a friend at Facebook --

It also encourages me to remember what someone on Oprah said:" It's not Alzheimers if you forget your keys. It might be ,though, if you forget what keys *are used for*". Whew.  😉


I'm a proponent of trying new things and for a week? I kept my To Do List online. 

I enjoyed deleting tasks after completing them.

But uh-oh--- for me, it's back to writing things down on tablet paper. Why? Because of course, first you've gotta check Facebook or email or Twitter before consulting the list, right? But then oodles of minutes later--I'd 'wake up'. And realize I'd not even peeked at the list.

And then I'd mentally kick myself over my online distractions weakness.

So yeah. I'm back to using little tablet papers--and am actually getting things accomplished again. Imagine.

Do what works for you. Even if you are laughed at.  シ


I'm keeping notes of things learned from experience on My Road To 60. Wrote this one down two weeks ago --

You learn you must slow down. Your thinking, your movements, like getting up out of a chair or being careful not to spin or change your direction in a hurry.

Hey, I aim to be mentally prepared for that 60th birthday unlike when my 50th came around and knocked me over. heh.



Oh! And if you've read down this far--

Could you please pray for Tom? He's in Oklahoma on business and he may have to cut his trip short (or stay longer) because an ice storm is moving in sooner than thought and we're both trying not to worry.

So, uhm, if you could pray he'll make the right decision (and that we won't be all stressed), well, we'd appreciate it. Thank-you!

*Update: Tom arrived home safely! The ice storm held off longer so he was able to leave as scheduled. We both really appreciate your prayers--thanks so much!