Tuesday, November 30, 2004

You're Growing-Up When...






You're growing-up when...

... your plans for today went up in smoke--and you can gracefully accept that tomorrow is another day.

... you feel a burden to help people and you actually go out and help them--instead of just accusing others of doing nothing.

... little annoying things no longer make you wildly frustrated.

... being popular is no longer your #1 goal in life.

... you can accept yourself just as God accepts you.

... money, position and possessions no longer define who you are.

... your favorite video tape gets erased and you no longer feel like life, as you know it, is over.

... you can wait in traffic and smile at the same time.

... you realize that it really is better to give than to receive.


Some people hate being in their forties. I love it, myself.


***

Curb Shopping




I may lose my classier readers with this post...

I've written a couple posts about my old-fashioned town, but I've not yet mentioned what I fondly call Curb Shopping. Tom is one of the greatest curb shoppers in all the land--you should see the treasures he's rescued from the monstrous trash-munching truck. Well, you can see a smattering of them here
. In fact, you may want to peek at them before you read any further, lest you think I'm talking Disgusting Garbage. 


I'm not.

No, in our area, people generally stay-put forever, hence, all the hundreds of attics are crammed full of days-gone-by stuff. And our people are old-fashioned enough to even do a big Spring cleaning every year. 


But Curb Shopping is an enjoyable year-around sport. Tom and I sometimes drive down our streets together in search of an unknown prize and the anticipation is exciting. Being together is fun, too, especially when we drive into cozy lanes which resemble an aisle at a flea market. Tom peers out the window at the left, and I scan the sidewalk to the right. And if we see something delightful, and if no families are gathered in the yard or on the porch, we pull over and haul whatever-tempts-us into our car.

Oh, what people fling away! Hutches, antique dishes, bookcases and books, tables, chairs, TV's, stereos and appliances which still work great, garden furniture, bricks, diaries, old family photos and scrapbooks and --

Oh, we're not the only ones who go on such treasure-in-trash searches. It's a well-known sport throughout our vintage area and can even become a contest of sorts to see who'll be first to raid the latest treasure.

Blessings from God can be found anywhere we look--even scattered along the street. Some days we just have to look a little harder to find them. 



******



One person's trash is another person's treasure....copied

Monday, November 29, 2004

How's Your Home Life?



Tom unearthed a wonderful antique book for me at an estate sale two weeks ago in an old, old house.

The big, dusty book is called Dwight L. Moody: His Life and Labors. It was written right after Moody's death in 1899 and is full of interviews with his friends, family and colleagues. One thing is repeated over and over: Even if people disagreed with Moody's theology, they all agreed that he was a sincere man of God and he practiced what he preached.

Hmmm. If a book were written about me upon my death, I wonder how my friends, family and colleagues would speak about my life and labors.

Gulp.

I'd be most interested in reading what my own family said about me. I firmly believe that what we are at home is what counts the most. Charity does begin at home, and if I am treating my family like they are nuisances holding me back from some supposed Greatness out in the world, well, I am confused. 

I am only as great as I am in my own home, on a bad day, among those who know me best.

And as I clean my house today and prepare and serve meals, may I remember that. May I live as though it's all about kindness, love and putting others first.

Man, that's vital in these days when it's very unpopular to be an old-fashioned Christian. It's vital that it be said of me like it was said of Mr. Moody; "I may not agree with Debra's theology, but she was the real thing and practiced what she preached. And in her own home, more than any place else."


***

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Christmas For Dummies





Speaking as the Chief of Christmas Dummies (and one who has been known to have a few Scrooge-like tendencies)--

Just last November, after myriad years of total Christmas disorganization (perhaps a sub-conscious rebellion of sorts?) I finally came up with the perfect Christmas planner.

I unearthed an unused binder (notebook) from our deep, creepy basement and tucked a Christmas-Victorian-ish calendar page into the clear plastic on the front of it.

Then on the inside, I added those clear 'plastic pocket pages,' you know, sheet protectors, the kind you buy at Office Max (or cheaper at Target), in which you usually slip in pages of a report if you are the college or executive type (both of which, I am not.)

Then into those clear plastic pages I started tucking in things like:

Mailing lists: Ones for relatives and old friends and internet group friends, etc.

Tom's and Naomi's Christmas gift lists

To Do Lists

Self-stick address labels

Gift tags

Christmas stickers

Christmas cards to send

Copies of our annual family Christmas letter and family photo

Magazine Christmas stories and how-to articles (to keep me in the mood)

Receipts for the gifts I bought

'What To Do Differently Next Year' lists


Then after Christmas I added favorite letters,photos and cards from relatives and friends which had arrived in the mail.

Well, I'll tell you. This year I feel like I am downright cheating at Christmas! Here before me, I have this Christmas binder just bulging with all the things I need to keep me sane and organized this December.

So I thought I'd pass along this idea in case any of you wanted to create your own Christmas For Dummies book, too. I know some of us don't "do" Christmas well.

Yes, some of us need all the help we can get.



******

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Something You Don't Know...




I don't remember ever mentioning here in my blog that Tom had polio when he was a baby. 

His parents were missionaries in Mexico at the time and he contracted polio which settled in his left leg. He walks with a noticeable swagger(or limp) and people stare, then avert their eyes. 

They always have--it's natural, I know.

Part of me seldom thinks about the polio. While first married,  Tom and I visited a dear friend of my family's. She and I sat at her mountain cabin's kitchen table while Tom and her fiance spoke outside at the car. She asked me, "What happened to Tom's leg?" Wonderingly,I leaned over at the window to see what had happened and then caught myself and laughed. "Oh! You mean the polio he had as a child?" She smiled and said she had a grandson with a deformity, too, and that you do forget to notice it when you love someone and live with them.

Yet another part of me thinks about the polio every day. As the years have gone by, more complications have developed -- Tom has scoliosis in his spine, he's had surgery twice on discs in his neck, his hip messes up, etc. He now lives with daily pain for which he swallows more pain med's than I am comfortable with, morning, noon and night. Doctors say his is a special case and they make dire predictions. 

They're not sure what to do with him next.

Why am I sharing this? Because sometimes to hear me talk in this blog, you'd think I have a perfect life--and that's the last thing I want to convey. Instead, I want you to know that my life is dear and wonderful only because God and I are making it that way. He helps me walk through my weeks and through these rooms in a glow of gratitude, so much so, that everything appears enchanted and as good as it gets in this 2004 life.

That's partly why I share what I do in this blog. And I so want you to experience your own glow of gratitude, too, no matter what your story may be.


***

Friday, November 26, 2004

Shifting Into Christmas Gear



And so it begins today. This mind-set in which all thoughts and all roads lead to Christmas.

Part of me loves Christmas. Part of me, er, uh, hates it. (Yes, I, Mrs. June Cleaver Wannabe, said that.)

I'm not alone in preferring non-holiday days--am I?

Give me the other 345 (or so) days of the year to choose how I want to make them special. Give me an ordinary, oh-hum day to turn into one never-to-be-forgotten. Forget the stress, forget the pressure, forget that oh-so-crowded December calendar page. Day-by-day creativity and a sense of purpose--that's my challenge of choice.

Of course, I'll play along and do Christmas again this year. But as always, at that slower pace. To that beat of a Different Drummer.

I especially love walking slowly in front of those Christmas-crazed-minded folks I see careening down store aisles. You never know which of them may stop to pause for a breath--maybe even a revelation--when they almost trip over me.





Jesus is the reason for the Season.......

Brighten the corner where you are...copied


***

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Slowing Down



"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you..." Isaiah 55:12



***

Gotta love that verse. I'd much rather be led by peace than be driven by:

Guilt-- "I'll feel guilty if I don't do such and such."
Fear-- "Something bad may happen if I don't do that thing."
Pride-- "How will it look if I don't do that good thing?" --or-- "But it all relies upon me so I must do such and such!"

Cruel taskmasters, All.

Oh, to just pause and ask, "Jesus? Is there something specific you are wanting me to do for someone?" And then to respond simply because of His voice.

And to be ok, really ok, with the times He says, " Right now, I don't need you to DO anything. Just BE.

Be real
Be grateful
Be encouraged
Be awake
Be aware
Be still and know that I am God."

Oh,to slow down and hear those things which can only be deciphered in silence. And to not insist upon cluttering-up Life with ridiculous complication.

To go out in joy and be led forth in peace--even in 2004!

Fifteen years ago I heard a sermon titled, "Are You Being Led? Or Are You Being Driven?"

That title has haunted me, in a good way, each year since. And I'm glad it has.

May it haunt you, also.





And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven....Matthew 18:3


***

A Thanksgiving Anniversary




Today is a double celebration. Both Thanksgiving and Tom's and my 26th wedding anniversary.

I'm glad we only tease each other about their having been 26 long, hard years. They've not been hard, not the majority anyway, and they've not been long. No, they have sailed past, even when we've tried to slow them down, as though holding them in our hands so to examine and appreciate their beauty. 

Regarding our early days, I think, "God was compassionate not to have equipped us to gaze into the future." We'd not have the grace to bear what we saw ahead. Grace comes only at the moment it is required. That's why I don't try too hard to look down the road ahead--without grace, it only causes worry.

We must be doing something right. Our only child has been raised to adulthood and yet Tom and I are closer than ever before. We tell each other we make a great team. This 'opposites attracting' thing does come in handy. Where I am weak, he is strong. Where he is weak, I am strong.

We accomplish good things together.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Yes, even to my friends in other countries. Because after all, Thanksgiving should be celebrated everyday, shouldn't it? 




*****

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

What Memories Am I Making Now?




***

Magazines like Reminisce or Good Old Days are filled with childhood memories. I take notes, albeit mental ones, of what these now-grown children remember from years long gone. Funny how you can sit at a table with a cup of coffee and relive a day of someone's life all over again, even if that day happened before you were even born.

Sometimes I return to my own childhood and relive a memory. I spend time with the good ones and tend to leave the bad ones alone, perhaps believing they will die from neglect.

But the pleasant memories make me smile and they make me wonder, "How am I spending my adult life? What memories am I making now?"

I have a friend I've known more than ten years, sweetest person on Earth. But every time I talk with her? She spends half of our conversations saying she hates her job. She's afraid to look for another career so she remains in the same one. Her adult children make her crazy and sad with the choices they make and she has an emotional (and physical) war going on with her house and--

She does have a terrific husband. And I try to bring a little happiness into her days, but there's only so much another person can do. So I watch her spending her years like money--using it up on stressful, worried days, one after another.

And that is the life she is remembering.

It takes a lot of letting go to have a happy life. Releasing fear and perfectionism and believing things must always be one certain way. And releasing our adult children to live their own lives and learn from their mistakes.

It requires letting go of guilt and condemnation. A joyful consists of leaving our sins at Jesus' feet daily, then toddling forward as a baby with her fingers squeezing, even crunching those of Someone who walks with ease.

When I look back at my life, may I recall reading books on quiet afternoons and sitting on my husband's lap in the recliner. Laughing with my daughter in the kitchen or chasing her cats with the cat-nip mouse. I want to recall kindnesses both received and given, painting my walls while Leave It To Beaver blared on the tv and staring at those walls by lamplight while thinking, "Heaven must be pretty great if it's going to beat this."

My days are a gift and they are flying, each year passing more quickly than the one before. May I always spend my days wisely and with a whole lot of joy mixed-in.



******
The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.
-Martha Washington



"I have yet to find that God ever uses a man that is all the time looking on the dark side...and is discouraged and cast down...There is no life in (him). Now if we are going to succeed we have got to be of good courage, and the moment we get our eyes on God and remember who He is then it is that we will have courage given us." ...D. L. Moody


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Pink Sky Morning



I sat at my morning table and was surrounded by windows framing a quiet pink sky. So quiet--I think some people missed it. I thought, "I'm glad I saw the sunrise."

I don't want to miss anything.

When I get to Heaven I think Jesus will ask me, "Did you receive all the presents I sent you?

The leaves, like confetti, making your sidewalks golden,
The husband who took care of you,
The daughter of your love together,
The home with its rooms in autumn colors,
The trees tapping against your windows,
The soups cooking on your stove, scenting the air, inside and out,
The beds where you slept and dreamed beneath blankets,
The friends who made your heart smile,
The cats who nestled in your chairs,
The old, worn books upon your shelves,
The church bells which called Me to remembrance."

I want to be able to tell Him, "Yes, each present you sent me arrived safely. And I loved--and recognized-- each one."






"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
~ Melody Beattie ~





***

Monday, November 22, 2004

My Homemade Time Travel Machine




In my house, there is a time travel machine. Well, sort-of. I made it myself.

I use it whenever I'm tired of what this 2004 world has become.

I use it often.

And because you are such good friends, I'll share with you how to make your own time travel machine. One thing though--this machine only travels backward. It carries you only to the past. You'll have to read a different, more progressive blog to discover how to be whisked ahead to the future.

Here are the mechanical aspects of my own time travel creation:

At a table with a comfortable chair, I gather these vintage ingredients:

Magazines from the 1930's and earlier. Ones like The American Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Mc Calls, and House Beautiful

To those I add pre-1950 books by authors like:

David Grayson, Harriet Lummis Smith, Gladys Taber, Dallas Lore Sharp, D. L. Moody, A. W. Tozer, Rosamond du Jardin, Carolyn Keene, Grace Livingston Hill, Ralph Moody

For the finishing touches I add:

Cookbooks and homekeeping books written before 1940. Ones like All About Home Baking (1933), The Butterick Book of Recipes & Household Helps (1927), Entertaining is Fun! by Dorothy Draper

Stack these all across the table.
Dress the part! Wear something from the era you wish to visit. (You wouldn't want to stand-out as an outsider, you know.)
Throw the switch on your coffee maker.
Start-up your big band era music CD.
Strap yourself in your chair.
Locate your first magazine or book and hold on.
You're going on one nostalgic ride.


***

Sunday, November 21, 2004

A Really, Truly Best Friend



When Jesus is your really, truly best friend, these kinds of things may happen:

You stop sucking the life out of your friends when you feel unappreciated. Instead, you run to Jesus and He loves you back into significance. And you love people better when you are receiving from Jesus what friends can never give you.

You stop basing how well you write in your blog by how many comments you receive. Instead, Jesus lets you know if your writing is good, bad or ugly and whether it reflects Him, or not. If it's lacking in any way, He helps you tweak it, then let's you know when it's time to  just let it rest.

You stop feeling so gut-level lonely because now Jesus is the Friend who sticks closer than a brother. He hangs around all the time just waiting to spend time with you. You don't need to make eight phone calls to find someone to go uptown with you. Jesus is on Friendship Call 24/7. He'd love to go uptown with you.

You stop letting guilt pull you into a scary pit of despair because now Jesus is there reaching out His hand. He pulls you up and puts you on solid ground. He smiles at you and says, "Try again. This time with My help."

If there is a better Friend on this Earth, I've never heard of (or met) him.


***

Blueberry Muffin Morning


In the jade-ite mixing bowl this morning, I stirred together blueberry muffin batter. 

I used the recipe from the Joy Of Cooking cookbook, a sorely-needed wedding present. The muffin page is coated yellow with oil stains--that happens when you've used a cookbook nearly 26 years.

My family was sleeping when I warmed up the oven and turned on the little tv to play Home Alone. Christmas is coming and I need to brace myself with all the Christmas movies and books I can. It takes much preparation to get through what the world calls Christmas.

I still need more light in my kitchen, especially on these dark-cloud mornings. Always, I set my cookbook on our stove beneath the light and must sock-slide from there to the counter, back and forth, to read the list of ingredients. You'd think I'd have the muffin mix memorized by now, having used it since my young aproned- wife years. 

I'll make coffee for Tom when I run back upstairs to the kitchen and then he'll read the newspaper at the dining room table. While reading my books at my quiet corner table Naomi will come down sleepy-eyed from upstairs at a later hour and then Carl will join us.

But minutes ago I slipped the muffins into the hot oven while the ending credits of Home Alone played (that tape has been in the vcr for three days). For years I've wanted the Home Alone soundtrack on CD and just this week I finally ordered one from Amazon. I hope it arrives soon and plays us into more Christmas.

But that's the thing-- it's Christmas in our home most days of the year-- the Real Christmas--and we don't take that for granted. The world can have their political arguments and Christian bashing and just plain major-unrest.

But as for me and my house? We will have blueberry muffins and Peace.



******  

Saturday, November 20, 2004

House At The Crossroads



No, actually it's me at the crossroads concerning my house.

I've been a moderate neat freak over forty years. Even as a blue-eyed child I kept a prim and proper room. Slipped my books into neat rows. Stuffed my Barbies (neatly) into their homemade suitcase house before climbing under sheets at night. Kevin Lehman must have secretly studied me for his book on first-borns--I'm that classic of a case.

But lately I don't want my house to echo "a first-born-neatness-obsessive-type lives inside." Instead, I long to let go and leave dishes in the sink all day sometimes (bad example--I'm already pretty good at that). I want to feel like it's okay if my house isn't as organized or as elegant as my friends' homes. I want to blithely toss my wrinkled clothes on top of the hutch in our bedroom and let them stay there a couple days. Or not feel antsy that someone may come for coffee when Tom's guitars are sprawled across the living room. Or not assume the UPS man drives away thinking how sloppy my back entryway appeared with stuff awaiting to go downstairs.

But it's more. It's coming to the acceptance place that I prefer a decorating style somewhere between Ma and Pa Kettle Down At The Farm and Blondie and Dagwood's home of the 1940's films. And being truly ok (not just pretend ok) with the fact that no one else I know in the 'real world' would ever, ever decorate like that.

I want to let go and just be me. The new me I have evolved into these past ten years of changes. I'm not the same person I was 40 years ago and it's time to stop feeling so awkward, so tug-of-war-ish about wanting to live differently in my own house.

But the old me remembers the seminars she taught at church about keeping an orderly home. She recalls her essays about the Proverbs 31 Woman, too. And she remembers always straightening or picking something up. Not easy things to forget.

Yes, part of it is a control issue. I probably fear losing my grip and watching my house fade into those wild pictures on the Net. You know, the ones showing rooms four feet deep in grocery bags, clothes and garbage belonging to hoarders. But knowing my past record, I hardly think that could ever happen. The person I've become may be different, but she's not a total slob. She's more relaxed, very contented, but she's not slovenly.

Mainly, she just wants her house to reflect the new her. The more contented person God helped her to become. The one who is comfortable in her own skin and now wants to be comfortable in her own house. But she still wonders if people will misunderstand. And she's still living in the house of the old her. The old gal wasn't so bad, you understand, just one who wrongly based her self-worth upon the way her house appeared to others.

It's taking enormous amounts of letting go in order to walk past all that.

You don't change forty years' worth of being one way overnight. It takes time. All changes take time. All real changes, mine anyway, take acts of God, too. It's as though He changes me in layers (think onion). I'm glad, because it would be far too painful to make the biggest changes all at once.

But oh how wonderful to start moving beyond the crossroads, out across the golden prairie and into the open Freedom Land beyond.




P.S. It may be that only fellow first-borns understand my weird spin on this subject. Maybe I should have opened this post with that warning. Though perhaps there are other parallels to be made. I hope so.

My Choice



When I stand before God someday, will I hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant!"?

Or will it be more like, "Man, did you ever mess up!"?  シ

It's up to me. Well, pretty much. There will be no one kneeling beside me who I can blame for my wrong choices. My choices are mine.

Today there is only me standing before God, too.

It's time to stop blaming and instead, start living today with God's strength, not mine. His ways, not mine. His thoughts, not mine. His love, not mine. His forgiveness, not mine.

Just for today. One day at a time.

With Him, that is possible. With Him, all things are.

Gotta run! I need to start living as though today matters. Because it does, you know.


******


Friday, November 19, 2004

Ready--Or Not



If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength! ... Proverbs 24:10

***

This verse won't leave me alone.

When the sun doesn't shine for a week and I get frustrated about that, I think, "How small is my strength."

When Tom does thirty things I've asked him not to do and I get, shall we say, quite perturbed about that, I think, "How small is my strength."

When our appliances groan and die...and emergency sirens wail down the street eight times a day...and money is tight--and I'm frustrated by all that-- I think, "How small is my faith."

Times are changing and they're not becoming simpler--anyone else noticing that? And with Christians being the new Bad Guys, well, more than ever I'm asking God to remind me that that a peaceful person is  powerful because he can keep his head while everyone around him is losing theirs (as the saying goes). 

A calm person 'hears the way in which he should go--and walks therein'. And inside a peaceful person all is well, even while on the outside all is not well one bit.

I want to hear God's still, small voice! But I'll need to quiet my heart during these days before even larger challenges arrive. And they will. The Bible tells us so--and warns us to prepare.

I want to be ready for anything--whether it be the next broken appliance or something huge like Armageddon. 

And may I face come-what-may with the utmost serenity because of having learned, beforehand, to walk with God. But that will require staying extremely close now before later--and more trouble--arrives.


*****

Faces and Hearts In The Supermarket



Sometimes I'll see certain women in the supermarket and wonder if I'm looking at kindred spirits.

These women might have kids draped and folded over their shopping carts. Or a woman might be with her husband or perhaps it's the way she calmly interacts with her children which intrigues me. Or if she's alone, it may be the peaceful way she handles the jar of low salt spaghetti sauce. I'm not fond of the word 'aura', but maybe it's an aura of contentment to which my heart responds.

You'd think I'd love discovering women like that, but I don't. Because my head knows darn well I can't just walk up to a person and say, "I'll bet we are potential friends! Maybe even kindred spirits. Tell me all about yourself and then I'll let you know if I was right."

If I did that, I'd probably get arrested. Ha! So I just roll my cart on past the pasta boxes, wondering.

Here's something else which happens to me, something I've never heard anyone describe. Very often, especially when I run down to the convenience store, I'll watch men buy things like bread or milk or a candy bar and I'll look at their faces and see a child-like innocence. Almost like I am glimpsing how they looked while yet a small boy beneath a layer of how they appear now. Or it goes even deeper--it's as though I'm seeing the heart they had as a child--one of vulnerable wonder and love of adventure--but one which has since been scarred and torn-up along a bleak, stoney street named Life Without Jesus.

And I find myself standing behind them in line praying with a God-sent compassion for that boy inside the care-creased face. Praying that he will find his best Friend and be lonely no more.

Does anybody else experience either of these things? (Or have I dived off the deep end, drowned, and just haven't realized it yet?)


******

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Mystery Blog



There's someone on my blog list whose writing I study. I'll only call her The Mystery Woman because we all need a little mystery in our lives...

I'm not even sure she reads my blog and I'm pretty certain she's not looking for a traffic jam over at her's. So if my description of her intrigues you, you will have to click through my whole blog roll (but that's a good thing because everybody over there is special for different reasons).

I visit The Mystery Woman's blog often just to stare at her words. "Why am I so mesmerized by them?," I ask myself. "Why do I zip over to her blog first thing in the morning as though real-live coffee and donuts await me there? Why, in my heart, am I longing to write like she does? Why?"

So far, I have only sketchy answers. They came to me last night while I tossed and turned, then I think God gave me a break and explained a few of the answers so I could finally return to my dreams.

The Mystery Woman is honest. She shares from a vulnerable heart, one which is unafraid to show us exactly how she feels. She reminds us of a childhood friend from long ago. A foggy, hazy friend who we only vaguely recall because she introduced us to a silly, creative way of looking at life--and then she moved away.

The Mystery Woman captures, in beautiful words, delicious thoughts which flicker and are gone when most people think them. Her words call back the warm flicker, though, and we think, 'Yes! I've felt that way, too. But I'd forgotten."

The Mystery Woman uses simple words. Each one has layers of meaning because of the way she uses them--she expresses what she has known and experienced for herself. She doesn't try to impress us with words the length of a train and she almost never links to others' words in Blogdom. Her heart is so full, that it will take years to deplete the wonder found there (if that's possible).

The Mystery Woman writes from her heart's deepest places. When she describes standing next to Jesus in His big winter coat while waiting for a ride, well, you believe her. Even people who don't believe in Jesus would find it hard not to see The Mystery Woman leaning against His shoulder for warmth. They'd find it difficult to condemn her faith--it's extremely hard to condemn that which is so real to another person, especially if that reality causes you to thirst for the same thing.

You'll have to excuse me. It's time to escape back over to the Mystery Woman's blog for more coffee, another donut and more time for study.



******

So, Like, What Are You Afraid Of?



Yesterday my 60-something mother took her first plane ride. 

Ever since I've known her (a considerable time) she's proclaimed she would never, ever, fly in a plane. No way. Don't even go there. My dad, though, had flown before, you know, when he was in the Navy--back in the 1950's.

Somehow my brother talked our ground-loving parents into flying out to see him in Texas. Kudos to him. My mother said she'd go through with it because she's older now and is prepared to go to Heaven if they crash. 

Good ol' optimistic Mom.

Fear. There's a good, common-sense kind and a life-spoiling, regret-making kind. I hate that latter one.

There's a saying: "It's never too late to be what you might have been."

Huh! Try becoming a gymnast, a firefighter or a professional football player when you are 50 and you've just sat in a chair eating pretzels  for the last 40 years. Try becoming a young and up-and-coming executive when you are no longer young and instead, clueless. Unmotivated.

Lesson? Whatever you are afraid of--get over it. Now.

Here's a 'saying' which is true:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us....Romans 12:6

The most famous people throughout history--the inventors, great thinkers, world-changers-- are remembered partly for their inventions, changes, but also? For fulfilling precisely what God created them to do. 

Have you ever watched someone, or read what an author wrote and been struck by the thought, "He's doing exactly what he was meant to do on this Earth."? You stare at what he's accomplished and it's as perfect as can be in this imperfect world. 

It rings true somewhere inside you and you almost shiver with awe.

Well, what are you waiting for? Don't you think it's time to do what you were put here to do? I hope you're not waiting for all the fear to go away--God is huge about this helping us walk on water stuff. He purposely gives us something to do that's beyond our own ability so that we'll always need His capable hand. And if He's in the mix we will accomplish incredible feats.

In the words of that great philosopher, Nike-- Just do it.

The rest of us are waiting for the pleasure, the help we'll derive from watching you fulfill your calling.



******

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Last Straw:This Housewife Speaks Out



So yesterday I'm reading one of my favorite political columnists (who shall be nameless, lest her name cause an uproar and detract from my post--)

Like a bobble-head doll in the back of a speeding car, I nodded my head in agreement of her wise words. That is, until I read this half of a sentence:

"...limits can be set without condemning women to life terms in the kitchen."

Good grief.

If I had $5 for every time I've heard the kitchen referred to as a female prison, well, I'd probably be living in a huge, expensive Victorian mansion by now.

I've always told Naomi, "Any job is honorable because of the dignity you bring to it. Any career is successful only because you, yourself, make it that way. Basically, we get out of Life no more than what we put into it."

If you want to call what I'm doing a "life term in the kitchen," well, go ahead. In the meantime, I will tie on my apron and bake like a chef. (Why is it that a professional chef who cooks for a living, is greatly admired, yet we homemakers, who cook because of familial love, are looked down upon?. Hmmm. Can you say, "materialism-is-somehow-involved-with-that-attitude?")

And while the cookies are baking (heh, heh Hillary, and you too, Teresa--),I will sit upon our scuffed-up hoosier cabinet, lick the batter bowl and watch a documentary on the little kitchen tv. I'll then use my imagination--you've gotta have one awesome imagination to be a successful homemaker-- and create something beautiful for our home. Maybe I'll paint a room and save us a few hundred dollars by doing it myself.

Or maybe I'll just plain have another Fairy Day. After all, I'm the boss of this dream job and I can take an all-afternoon lunch if I wish. Or perhaps I'll drive to the bookstore uptown and intermittently study and dream. And drink coffee. And go any place else my contented-homemaker-heart desires.

And as I go tooling along, I'll glance up at the office building windows and feel bad for all the women imprisoned inside their cubicles. Bad enough to pray they'll be released early for a lovely evening at home and bits of extra fun in the kitchen.



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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Be Careful What You Teach Your Cat




Don't make the same mistake I did.

I taught my daughter's cat, Oreo, a new trick two weeks ago. As I've mentioned before, Oreo loves to play with his plastic fishing pole, the one with feathers at the end of the plastic string. He'll race around and around in circles chasing after that thing as you swing it around just above the carpet. He'll chase it until he falls over, if you let him.

He adores that fishing pole. I step from my bedroom door while it's still dark in the morning and here comes Oreo meowing with those silly feathers in his mouth, wanting to play. Throughout the day he stares at you, not blinking, until you get up and swing that fishing pole around for him. It's eerie. He is eerie.

Well, I thought it would be cute to teach Oreo to nibble on my toes whenever he wanted me to get up from a chair and play Fishing Pole Tag with him.

Never teach a cat a 'cute trick.'

Now, whenever Oreo sees my still, sock-clad foot, he sneaks up on me and starts chewing on my toes.

At first it was cute. Even hilarious, according to Tom.

But now? Sigh. I can't even have an uninterrupted morning quiet time. Now I must always pay attention as to where my feet are located while sitting in my chair. I must tuck my feet beneath my robe and sit on them or the darn cat will nibble on my toes and I will be forced to get up and play Fishing Pole Tag yet again.

It took consistency to teach Oreo a new trick. And now that he has learned it, I'm obligated to follow through out of my sense of integrity. After all, I did teach him this new trick. I did reward him over and over for toe-nibbling.

This all reminds me of what good ol' Doctor Phil constantly drawls:

"We teach people how to treat us."

Boy, is that true.

Be careful what you teach not only your cat, but your kids. Your spouse. Your in-laws. Your friends.

Teach them that you are a people-pleasing, never-say-no person and they just may never forget it.






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The Afternoon Pause Café



There's a quaint little cafe I love to slip into. 

Homey, 1940's atmosphere. Tiny round tables and steamy coffee served in Fiestaware mugs. It's called the Afternoon Pause Cafe. There's a chain of these cafe's, though each one is decorated differently. There's one in your town.

Chances are, you are sitting there right now. Or you will be soon.

What? You've never visited an Afternoon Pause Cafe?

Oh, what you are missing--

Quiet, reflective times after a hurried first half of the day.

Coffee or tea. Munching on cookies or a cinnamon scone while reading a chapter of a delectable book.

A peaceful chat with your Friend when He arrives.

The pause at the door as you both leave. Looking out at the Nascar-paced, scurrying world and feeling calm, but invigorated.

Continuing the chat with your Friend as the two of you amble down the sidewalk. The rest of the day awaits and you will face it together.

Do stop in at the Afternoon Pause Cafe. I'll tell them you're coming so they'll have a table prepared, one with a candle in the center, even.




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One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude. --Carl Sandburg

People who take the time to be alone usually have depth, originality, and quiet reserve. --John Miller

Monday, November 15, 2004

An Easier Way to Write




Just a simple post today, but one which I hope will shake you as it shook me.

William Cobbett in his book, Rural Rides, wrote:

"Sit down to write what you have thought, and not to think what you shall write."

Since reading that sentence two years ago, I've recognized that my best writing nearly always comes from recording the thoughts I've pondered for days, months or even years. And if God has been part of that meditation, well, the writing flows.

(Seems everything keeps coming back to spending time with God. Hmm.)

Just handing out a piece of gum for you to chew on today.

Happy chomping.









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Sunday, November 14, 2004

Are They Discussing Politics In Heaven?




"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." ...From The Lord's Prayer


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When we get to Heaven, will our conversations center around President Bush and how he ran the United States?

Will we discuss the U.S. Presidential Election of 2004?

Will we debate who has better morals--Republicans, Democrats, Liberals or Independents? 

Will we argue red states and blue states? John Ashcroft? Arlen Specter?

Personally, I think not.

There is a time to speak and a time to be silent. A time to fight and a time to pray. How refreshing to discover blogs whose authors can move with grace from season to season (I found some this morning). And especially blessed are those bloggers who have moved on from the Election and are discussing subjects which help people change from the inside, out. Subjects which maybe, just maybe, we will discuss in Heaven:

Love, kindness, joy and grace. Prayer, hope, worship, praise. Forgiveness, encouragement and sowing seeds. Songs, creativity, miracles, helping. God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit. Angels, peace, unity.

And no, we're not in Heaven yet. But to me, these subjects are both vital and eternal--and they will take an eternity to explore. 

Now? We're in need of writers who will tackle these subjects in relevant ways for this 2004 world of searchers. I want to join those who are trying to do just that.

Besides, when I travel to Heaven, I want to be able to speak the language.



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And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3