Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Dreamier Dreams


Milton asked this question after my post, Living The Dream:

"...At the risk of sounding flippant, I'll ask a serious question: Are your dreams as dreamy as you dreamed they would be?"

...and it's been on my mind since that day. What a great question!

And my answer? Most of my dreams-come-true are even dreamier than I'd dreamed them as a gleaming-eyed girl.

This is something I'd not thought of before. The majority of my dreams/ambitions/goals required some flexibility on my part for me to reach them. Why? Because in my own finite mind in my early, naive years, I did not account for the fact that I would be growing and changing along the way. And we are talking big changes here.

But God knew. He saw ahead when I couldn't. So only by being pliable and walking where He led me could I get here now.

No wonder I felt stuck in one place for so long--my stubbornness held me there. I kept seeing myself in the grand Victorian house my 17-year-old mind beheld, so I was blind to the fact that my tastes had changed along the years. In my 40's, I actually prefer the woods and colors of the Craftsman style of my own home. I actually love the 1930's flavor of this house much better than the 1880's cluttered taste of Victoriana. But I couldn't see it until I let go of the Victorian House dream.

And the books I saw myself writing in the future? This blog is my "letter to the world." Only God could have seen thirty years ago that I'd love the instant rapport with my readers online much better than the delayed reaction if I were to write a book. At least, that is how I feel right now. Perhaps in the future this will change, too.

I had dreams of having many children, yet in these later years, I found that one was just perfect for me. At 17 I saw myself living next to the ocean, but at 46 I know for certain I could never handle all the fog--it would depress me.

And on and on.

So yes, Milton, my fleshed-out dreams have turned out even dreamier than I had dreamed. And I thank God for tweaking my dreams and not always letting me get what I thought I wanted.

Too bad I kicked and pouted a whole lot along the way.

Too bad I'm only just now discovering Father really does know best.

***

Choose a dream, but give yourself--and your dream--room to grow.

"A man's mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure." Proverbs 16:9

***

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Ruts We Dig Ourselves


I wonder how often my life has been dull/monotonous/average or lacking in excitement simply because I made it that way?

Sometimes I put-off a better, more creative life until that elusive Someday.

And yet Today I could have driven a different route to all my destinations and seen houses and people and shops I'd never seen before.

I could have eaten in the cozy cafe which I'm always passing while always thinking, "Someday I'd like to eat there."

I could have had my morning quiet time out on the front porch or while taking a walk or even in a neighborhood coffee shop instead of in the same old room.

I could have tried a new recipe for dinner.

I could have called a friend I'd not chatted with in years.

I could have changed around my living room furniture and created a fresh, new setting.

I could have tried a new shade of lipstick or a new scent of cologne.

I could have had flowers sent to a friend 'just because.'

I could have shopped in a different supermarket, taken a walk down a different street or listened to a different type of music.

I have the choice to approach each morning with the same spirit as the girl in the above painting. Imagine that!

But always, if I'm to live a rut-less life, it's up to me.

***

The above painting was done by Victorian artist, Frederick Lord Leighton. To view more of his amazing works, click here.

"If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves."
- Thomas Edison

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Ok, So It's An Uphill Climb...


Ok.....

So you start your diet and the very same day, your spouse surprises you with a scrumptious, beyond-fattening, yummy dessert... and you give-up even trying because you know this will just happen over and over...

...and any day you really, really need and want to receive your new (fill in the blank) from Amazon or Ebay, there will be only echoes in your mailbox...

... and when you recommend a new tv show to a good church friend, it will be the first (and only) sleazy episode of the season...

... and when you had your day planned full of fun things, your child will get sick... or else, you will...

... and just when you pay-off your credit card, your appliances will start rattling and groaning and breaking down one-by-one...


... And then the Bible has the audacity to tell you to "Count it all joy... Rejoice always.... Do not complain or murmur..." (yada yada yada...)

Well, it may help to remember this....

Life is like that.

Stuff happens--and not just to you, either. But to all of us.

It is an uphill climb. All of it. But we have One who helps us climb. And there is something right, something raw and clean in feeling the stretch, the pull in your legs as you push past what comes naturally. There is no stretch, no pull--no exhilaration--in complaining.

Anyone can complain and whine and murmur. Anyone can run, shrieking, back downhill. That's easy.

But oh, the view as you climb higher!

And the peaceful places... the ones discovered only by climbers who continued on ... they are like nothing else in the lowlands.

***

Friday, May 27, 2005

Friday Fun--Search Words


I recently installed a different referrer thingamajig in my blog. It's from the people at Blog Patrol.

I'd always wondered how some bloggers were able to tell which words people had used in searches to find them. Now I know.

What fun!

Here are some of my favorite word searches--ones which didn't surprise me at all that my blog popped up when these were typed-in ... They are searches which delighted me and which may have been used by kindred spirits--who knows?

proverbs oh show me woman her worth is far above rubies anne of green gables
robin egg blue chenille bedspread
aprons in the 1940's
down home diners
plastic rain hats + 1950
old fashioned aprons
lilac_air
karen carpenters house
A coat hanger Christmas Tree Movie Based on the Book by Eleanor Estes
kindred spirits and old souls
howard mcnear
1940's tv shows
old fashioned living
Successful Homemaker
"got hope?"
what i see in the evening in my neighborhood
"long ago" "oh so far away"
Mormon movies
Moving daffodils
healthiness is godliness
wasting time with God
photos of the house used in leave it to beaver
what do you do while waiting on God


Now, these searches, below, were ones which surprised me... My blog popped up with these?


reactions of people when they see a man wearing a skirt
vultures with people pics
help for hoarders in the pioneer valley
home pride sit down shopping cart
I see my ride
four eyed monsters
Scarey Dreams
stop buying ebay blogs
how to make my own trap
ways to kill you boyfriend

Hmmm....curiouser and curiouser.

...though I know my post "Estate Sales for Non-Vultures" explains the vulture one...

Yet here's the one which wins the prize... I was very, very curious, though, why a search for, "How to kill you(r) boyfriend," would bring up my blog (eeks!). So I did the search myself and found that it led to my post, "Ten Easy Ways To Kill Your Quiet Time." Whew!

Blog Life is amazing. You never know just who may drop by.

So I should always be prepared for company. Especially company who may not have yet been introduced to that unseen guest at every meal.... That friend who sticks closer than a brother...

***
What were the funniest/oddest search words people used to find your blog?

***

Living The Dream

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I had a Great Awakening this morning. An epiphany. A lightbulb moment.

It happened while I sat on the bed in my dream room, holding a cup of pretend coffee...the windows wide open to just-waking milky-blue skies... Glenn Miller's Moonlight Serenade** wafting on the record player... my very own room hugging me inside my own old house in a very old town... a life with the sweetest husband on Earth... a lovely daughter in a nearby apartment... incredible friends... two cats gazing down from upstairs' windows... dusty old books lying everywhere...myriad sparrows in the backyard... a remarkable writing place--otherwise known as Blogland...

And then it hit me...

I am living my dream.

Right now, today, I am living in the very center of the culmination of my dreams for the past 30 years. The majority have all come true. And I am living inside them.

Oh, I'd sort-of realized this before. But this morning the thought overwhelmed me--in a good way. Back when I was only just a teenager, this is the kind of life I dreamed about while I was living the opposite of my dreams--in lands where I had no choice but to live (and had my imagination stretched nearly out-of-shape.) No wonder I always felt like an alien at 17--in many ways, I was.

But now the dream--the dreams--have nearly all come true and I am going to live them. I have worked for them. I have dreamed them into being--dreamed dreams God gave me and helped me to fulfill.

Of course, I still have other dreams! You stop dreaming, you start dying. But equally important is realizing when your dream has come true and thanking God for it and living awake enough to splash around in it when you get there. No longer just looking at the clear, blue water from afar off, but really getting in there and swimming around!

...and just learning to live with Grace in this new place while you peek ahead down all the roads branching out to the other dreams which await you. Looking ahead, but loving where you are--where God brought you--too. Taking some time there to gaze around and call it good.

***

**To hear a sample of Moonlight Serenade, click here.

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."
...Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The End Of An Era


Brownie died today.

He was the last of my mice born in March of 2003. He'd outlived all his sisters and brothers.

He was the only brown mouse in the bunch. He was born the strongest and biggest, too.

And now he's gone and it's the end of the Mouse Era of my life. I have been saying for months that never again will I keep mice because they don't live long and they spend too much time preparing to die.

No, no more mice. Not ever.

But oh... they are so much fun when they are young and healthy. They race around like maniacs and look as though they are in love with life.

And best of all, they come running out of their houses when you call and they look up into your face with anticipation. As though they are out-of-their-mind-happy to see you. And that is a very comforting thing when the rest of your family and friends only mildly nod at you.

They are a joy when they are young.

They are a sad burden when they are old and ailing. And they become old so fast.

No, no more mice. Not ever.

And to be safe, I'll probably never again walk past the glass mouse cages at Petsmart.

It's too easy to lose my heart that way.

**

Brownie
March 12th, 2003 - May 26th, 2005

Good-bye Brownie... My little brown buddy with the pink nose, who until a week ago, made the very best of his solitary life. Your happiness on regular, average days will always be an inspiration to me

Graciousness The Morning After


Congratulations to Carrie Underwood, 2005 American Idol!

Tom and I were thrilled with this year's American Idol choice. Tom especially--one night he called-in ten votes for Carrie! (hmmm... should I be concerned?). .... I think I was an equal fan of both Carrie and Bo.

But really, Tom and I thought each of the top three--Carrie, Bo and Vonzell--could each have made a marvelous American Idol. Each was consistently amazing and we believe each will go on to great singing heights.

This morning I went over to the American Idol website just to sample a few of the morning-after messages from fans of the show.

Good grief.

I was reminded that being in the spotlight is not all fun and glamour. There are great risks. What do I mean? Many Bo fans were not only vocal in their disappointment that Carrie won, but they were blatantly attacking her character. It was sad. These people have never spent even one minute with Carrie in-person, yet they have her personality, her attitude--who she is--all summed-up in caustic, bitter words.

Whatever happened to graciousness?

Well, rather than go on an ungracious tirade about today's lack of graciousness, I'll just say that I believe the best way to change what we do not like, is to, ourselves, be an example in that area. Of course, many people would say that is not enough. And yet, as in this case of good sportsmanship, perhaps there's so little graciousness today because there have been too few examples of it. How can people learn to be gracious if they never see what true graciousness looks like?

After all, for the rest of us, the eternal-scheme-of-things importance isn't placed on whether our favorite contestant won, but rather, how did we conduct ourselves after hearing the outcome? Was God disappointed or happy with our attitude about it?

So, wanting to do my part.... Congratulations to Carrie and Bo and Vonzell and all the Idol contestants who made it to Hollywood. You helped make this season of Idol the best so far and I wish each of you blessings on the road ahead.

***

Graciousness-- marked by kindness and courtesy... marked by tact and delicacy... characterized by charm, good taste, generosity of spirit... merciful, compassionate...courtesy and kindly consideration...

"Live such good lives among the ungodly that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." .. I Peter 2:12

***

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

It's Not Just Shopping Anymore


I drove over to a famous town near us this morning--well, the edges of it. Its fame comes from a beautiful thing--but I will leave you guessing.

I'd not driven over there alone for months and it felt strange not to drive around as though in my sleep--the way I used to drive along those streets. I've not been buying, buying, buying much lately, but rather, getting rid of what I already have and don't need. There is a lot of that going on around Blogland and RealWorldLand. Do you think there's something in the air?

There is so much to remember when I, as a Christian, go shopping. I remind myself to look people in the eye and smile at them. In a way, it is Jesus smiling at them from behind my blue eyes and my smile, is it not?

And I remind myself to put things back on the supermarket shelves right where I found them if I decide I don't need them after all... to pick up clothes from the floor in dress shops, even if I did not drop them.... to let people go ahead of me in line if I have a lot of groceries and they are just standing there gripping a bag of pretzels...to offer to help if somebody cannot find an item or if they have dropped one...and to roll my shopping cart to the designated corral in the parking lot.

Like I said, there's an awful lot to remember when I am out shopping. I am a recovering shy person, so it's not easy for me. But it's getting easier.

I think Jesus would do those things if He were still here in His earthly body. I think those deeds, those expressions, matter to Him a great deal more than I realize. It matters to Him that I represent Him well, both in my home and while I'm out shopping. He has invested so much time and effort into me--mostly getting me out of the way so that He can be seen more clearly. Mostly reminding me that only He can make me like Him--something I could never do, even if I had a thousand years to try.

Perhaps that's partly why I don't get all caught-up in Blogland's Bible arguments online. There's too much else for me to do out in the highways and byways where all the hurting people are shopping for groceries.

***

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Hope Game


Meg's comment to my last post reminded me that yes, indeed, there is another group besides Those Who See Things As They Are and Those Who See Things As They Were.

As Meg said, the third group is Those Who See Things As They Could Become. And like Meg, I am a member of that club also. How about you?

Even as that 14-year-old in the back seat of the family car, I would gaze at those abandoned houses and ask myself, "Ok, what would I do if I had to live there? How would I fix it up?" And then, room by room, I'd walk through the house in my mind and decorate the kitchen, living room and bedrooms. I'd slap on paint and wallpaper and add furniture and knick-knacks. I'd mow the grass, plant gardens and trees.

And you know? I'm still playing that game now in mid-life.

There is a street near us which, many years ago, was in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most bars (taverns). Squeezed between these bars are old, old houses, some tiny, some large. but most all are run-down and dilapidated, yet with backyards larger than mine. Well, sometimes I walk down this street and I play the "What If I Had To Live Here?" game. I ask myself, "What if Tom and I lost everything and had to live in one of these old apartment houses? How would I make it as nice as possible for the two of us? What kinds of things would I salvage to use for decor?"

Ok, that smells an awful lot like Pollyanna's Glad Game again, I know. But truthfully? I love to play this "What If?" game. It is a game of hope. It brims my heart with the hope that no matter what, I could make a cozy nest for us. A tiny place where we'd feel love and safety, rather than sorrow and depression for what we'd lost. A warm, bright, shelter in a storm.

I've never had a name for that before. I guess I'll call it The Hope Game.

Any other Hope Game players out there?

***
"(If) we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality."... Nikos Kazantzakis

Monday, May 23, 2005

Different Eyes


Remember that tiny town I told you about--the quiet little place on the shores of one of the gorgeous Great Lakes? Well, on Saturday one of my good friends went with a friend of hers to visit that town since I'd spoken so glowingly about it. She'd never seen it before, though she's lived here all her life.

She called me Saturday night and told me that, to her, it just looked like an old, broken-down town.

Well, of course, I was disappointed that that was the impression she'd come away with. But it made me realize something. Some people see things only as they are, other people see things as they once were. I am of the second group and I think the reason I've loved the Internet so much is because finally, for the first time in my life, I've found other people who are in that same group.

I remember being 14-years-old in the back seat of my parents' car and staring out at a leaning, abandoned, grey old cabin in a field of golden wheat. I gasped and pointed it out to my family, whereupon they laughed and began teasing me that I saw shacks as palaces.

My family loved all things new and shiny and sleek. But I, even at six and seven, loved old, history-laden things because in my mind, I clearly could see just how they were when they were new. I could see their owners standing around those things in long, white dresses and Victorian-style suits--people who were always smiling.

Old things have always whisked romantic dreams and stories into my mind's eye. I walk through old towns and I see the shops as they first were. And I see the early people, too, even down to their buttoned shoes and parasols. Beaded Flappers and Jitterbuggers. The girls in poodle skirts, saddle shoes, pony tails or derby-hatted men of later years.

But you go talking like that and people look at you weird. As though you're kin to the little guy in The Sixth Sense ("I see dead people.")

That is, that's how I felt for 35 years, or so, before I went online. Oh, I had read books about other nostalgic souls like me, but it was here that I first spoke to like-minded dreamers.

Dreamers like some of you who are reading this now.

Dreamers who are in the "Seeing Things As They Were" group.

Please be sure to leave your name if you are a member. It would be an encouragement to the rest of us--to remind us we are not alone.

***

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Dance Lessons


Yesterday, Teresa's comments to my last post reminded me of something (thanks, Teresa!) They reminded me that eleven years ago I finally came away with God after He asked me to. He'd been asking me for years on quiet afternoons to leave worldly things alone and just sit with Him, but always I was too busy, too distracted or too scared of what people might say if I acted like the semi-hermit I would have to be to do what God was asking me to do.

But finally, when I sensed He might not always be asking this thing, I came away with Him.

I had no idea how long this was going to last-- He gave me no hints-- but those long hours alone with God in my room lasted a couple years. The only way I can describe those hours is that they were like dance lessons. All those previous years He'd been wanting to get me alone so that He could teach me to dance the Life Waltz with Him.
Yet before we could begin, I had to put down bags of heavy toys which I always seemed to be carrying around like a child. But when you start learning to dance, you are growing-up and there is no room between your dance partner and you for Things and Stuff and Distractions. He asked me to pack away all my toys and at that time, I thought He meant forever.

That was the chance I was taking--letting go of certain books and dreams and movies and ideas and tv shows and hobbies and friends--forever. And even after I'd closed those things away, there were still some afternoons I'd look out the window at all the costumed crowds outside who laughed and partied just as they wanted--and I would stumble and miss more steps until He'd touch my cheek with His finger and turn my eyes back to His.

And after those years with Him, after I'd finally, after many, many missteps learned to dance with Him--after I'd fallen head-over-heels in love with Him-- He finally knew He could trust my heart to no longer be devoted to Things.

He even allowed me back into the toy box. Amazingly, all the toys had been refurbished and made new! That was part of God's reward for coming away--for giving-up the What Will People Think and all the mindless doings of My Own Will. Now that He could trust me to play with these toys and not abuse them, not get carried away by their shininess, He was free to give them back to me, and in even better condition than before.

The biggest change? He was finally on my mind all the time. So even while I was painting or reading or watching movies, I was still thinking about Him. Amazingly, I often felt even closer to Him during those times than during my closet times with Him.

He'd taught me the Life Waltz and He said that as long as I let Him lead the dance, my days would flow like music.

And they do. But only when I match my steps to His. When He leads me to a paintbrush or a mixing bowl or a broom, I follow... and when I follow Him to this blog, He helps me write and there is no struggle--only much listening on my part. These days find me listening more than speaking-- a turning of my ear to Him in the places He has led me. Be it with a paint brush in my hand or a pen or a gift or an offer to help someone in need--it is all good because He dance-stepped me there and is ever whispering close to my ear.

***

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." ... Isaiah 43:19

"...let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience..." Hebrews 10:22

Friday, May 20, 2005

Forever Painting

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Today I painted two walls in our upstairs guest/music/work-out/office room. That is what I do-- I paint. Every year I've painted at least two walls in this house--just since March I've painted 9 walls and one ceiling.

But today I opened all the big windows up there in that room and a cool, perfect Spring breeze kept blowing all the lilac scent upon me, so much so, that at times it cancelled-out the paint fumes. I spread old sheets along the carpet and they felt soft as I sat there in my many-colored paint-splotched skirt and T-shirt with the paint brush dripping green and that incredible lilac scent in my hair.

And for a moment, I saw myself still painting the walls in this house when I am 60. And still smiling and still listening to The Andy Griffith Show while I repaint walls for the kazillionth time. Sixty and grey and still loving this place where I live.

But it would take a miracle for that to happen. We are planning on moving away someday for reasons I thought were clear, but are growing cloudier with time. But for the record, the written record, I would stay here in this house forever if I could.

At least that's how I feel on this day of lilac flavor.

And then I thought, perhaps I was seeing myself painting in Heaven. To me, it won't be Heaven if I can no longer decorate. I am one of those people who find it hard to believe we each will have our own heavenly mansion--I want to live in a mansion (or even a fixer-upper basic heavenly Victorian little place) with Tom, and he with me, so what is the use of us both having one? Isn't that a bit excessive?

I'm just wondering and thinking aloud--and telling you what kinds of thoughts I was thinking on this perfect Spring day-- the one I spent with a paintbrush in my hand, a song in my heart, and a dreamy smile upon my face... A day I spent upstairs, or perhaps even higher in a place above the trees-- a place a little closer to Heaven than you'd think.

***

"But What About ______ ?!?"

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Ten years ago God began hushing me when I started whining the "But What Abouts?"

You know...

"But what about those people who disappointed me? Aren't you going to do something about them? Don't I deserve to wallow in disappointment for a few days?"

"But what about that person who said things which really hurt my feelings? Why can't you do something about him? And don't I have a right to be angry? How can I help but let him ruin my day/week/life?"

"But what about those people who always do things to make me worry about them? How can I help but worry when I am their spouse/parent/child/friend?"

And on and on.

Oh, I realize that technically I have a right to hold onto offenses, hurts and worries and all that. I have a right to always take the natural way out of any situation-- to react as any person would who has not yet met God.

Or I can grow.

I can choose, instead, to ask myself, "How well am I doing?
How well am I allowing God to heal these new hurts?
How well do I understand that other people may be hurting me out of their own hurt?
How much quicker am I able to forgive people now that I've totally given my feelings and dreams over to God?
How much less am I worrying since I've truly put my loved ones into the hands of God who cares for them even more than I do?"

"How often do my reactions mirror the ones Jesus had while He walked upon this Earth during His 33 years?"

Of course, there are times for confrontation with others... but you know? I've discovered those confrontational times are fewer than I once thought.

I've discovered that many of the opportunities which come along for me to get hurt, offended and afraid are the very same opportunities which are meant to help me grow-up. They are tests-- chances to walk in what I have learned. Chances to be humbled. Opportunites to become more like Jesus.

Sometimes they are the results of the very seeds I, myself, have sown.

But mostly, they are often good things only dressed-up like bad things. If only I always saw the problem people in my life in such a positive, glowing light.

There are a million ways in which to live Life. My desire is to discover, and walk in, the one God chooses for me. Not the one I would choose for myself.

***
"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you, unless, of course, you fail the test?" II Corinthians 13:5

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." ... Proverbs 27:17

***

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Whatever There Is To Be Done...


You know how you keep something for 20 years, almost never use it, and then finally decide to give or throw it away--and then the next week you really, really need it?

Well, guess what...

I became a bit too ruthless in my great Book-Sorting-For-The-Big-Move-Someday and I gave away Ann Kiemel's book, It's Incredible. Inside that book there's something which 'changed my life' (according to some blogs, that's not possible, but well, you know what I mean).

It went something like this: Ann went to interview a 72-year-old woman, an artist, and found her doing some landscaping in her backyard. Lifting big rocks, to be exact. The woman told her that she loved to garden and when Ann asked her what was her favorite thing in Life, the woman replied, "Manure. Because everything grows so well in it."

And then Ann asked the woman what kinds of things she disliked, as in chores such as washing dishes or vacuuming or making beds.

The elderly woman frowned. "Dislike? Whatever there is to be done--I like it!"

Oh my... I read that when I was a young mother in my 20's and wham! That one sentence proverbially hit me right between the eyes. Back then, I could have given you a yardstick-long list of all the things I disliked doing.

But when I read that one page in Ann's book, I immediately knew that I wanted to be like that artist--not just when I reached my 70's, either--but starting right away.

Be careful what you desire.

In the 20 years since that day, that one desire has taken me on one mighty long adventure. An adventure of having to let God change my attitude about all my housework and all my errands and just about everything else known as 'work'... and having to stop the complaining about them which only yanks me back a few steps... and learning to search and pull out every speck of Good in simple things while also learning to enjoy this long journey called Loving Every Day.

But it's been worth it. Since 90% of my life is made up of Everyday Stuff, I'm almost to the point--after 20 long years--where I, too, can say, "Whatever there is to to be done-- I like it!"

Well, almost.

And I've found that, for me, there's no better, richer way to live.


***
"So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work..." ... Ecclesiastes 3:22

Monday, May 16, 2005

Hermit-Like Tendencies


There's something to be said for opposites attracting. As for me, I've always had hermit-like tendencies, whereas Tom has always been the type to want to hop into the car and go someplace and do something. Many times I've been thankful that he talked me into getting out of the house for some fun.

That is, he was like that until these last two years. I think it began when he had surgery on his neck and had to stay home for six weeks. He didn't mind it half as much as he thought he would. Maybe because I babied him like crazy--even to the point of reading to him from some of the books I'd been asking him to read for 15 years. (Turns out he loved all the books I recommended and devoured each one. It was weird watching him read so much).

But whatever--Tom is now exhibiting hermit-like tendencies, himself. I think he finally succumbed to my hermit-itis. Often, he wants to go out even less than I do and he almost seems satisfied to watch movie-life rather than live life in reality. Even our calendar reflects that. Too many squares are looking like today's which says only: "Watch the final episode of Everybody Loves Raymond."

Uh-oh.

Oh, it's not the going-out that is so important--it's that other thing. That thing I've noticed in myself and my other 40-something (and older) friends. That thing which says,
We are tired.
We have paid our dues.
We went to all those endless concerts at our kids' schools when we thought, "If they sing just one more slow, screechy song, I'll...."
We went to all those eternal, droning meetings at church and school and at the office...
We're sick of traffic and the way people drive...
And we're just plain sick of people. People who don't watch what they say. People who hurt our feelings over and over. Unkind, thoughtless, opinionated people.

And of course, that last one makes us feel the most guilty. As it should.

Oh, not that we're supposed to go around feeling guilty all the time (I've blogged about that). No, but we are never to forget that we are here to care for other people. Next to ministering to God, comes ministering to--you guessed it--people.

Unkind, thoughtless, opinionated people. Just like each of us tend to be at times.

The kind of people who need God and who need each other to remind ourselves how much we need God. The kind of people who stretch us and keep us from turning selfishly inward... and who remind us that godly passion is not just for the young, but for those of us in our late-summer-early-autumn years, too.

It's too easy to become a hermit in these later years. It's easier to bow out of things when you're living inside the empty nest. We can come up with more excuses-- "It's not safe out there. I don't like to dress-up. I've done my time. I'm tired, I'm sick. I'm old."

But it feels too much like going downstream. Like giving-in and doing only what is easy. Like going with the flow of all of mankind.

I think God had something better in mind.

It looks like there needs to be some changes made around here. Some changes which include turning this hermit-like boat around and paddling back upstream.

A whole lot of people are stuck and waiting for our help along the shoreline. We may even be hurt while helping them, but that's the chance God calls us to take.


***
"The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway. People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help anyway. Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway." ... Mother Teresa

***

Blue Streams And Mary Jane

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I'll wager you didn't know I had a meandering stream running though my front yard, did you? Yes, a cute little blue curvy stream of forget-me-nots. They are partially bordered by saucers and salad plates... a funky idea from a magazine.

Speaking of magazines, Mary Jane's Farm arrived today! If you are a country gal/gent at heart and you love that 1940's feeling, you would love Mary Jane's Farm. Always I feel like I've ridden a time machine back to 1940's farm life after I lay down Mary Jane's magazine. The old-fashioned, homestyle photography is incredible, but you don't remember this magazine for the photos--it's the articles from Mary Jane and other farm-folks-at-heart which haunt you longest.

Here are a few of my favorite pages from the website, but holding her magazine in your hand is much more dreamy:

Mary Jane's Farm Articles

And to sum this up.... I've visited some blogs lately which tell us that, as Christians, we ought not to think about ourselves so much. Not about our failings, our successes, our sins, our weaknesses--not even grading ourselves as to how we are doing, etc. But from these blogs there's usually only one recommendation of what to think about, instead:

Think about God and good stuff.

Well, I don't know about you, but I need something a little more specific to go on than that.

I love specific and practical help best. If you, too, are like that, I thought you might appreciate this piece from this issue of Mary Jane's Farm. I believe it follows this Bible verse quite well:

"Be mindful (let your mind be full of ways) to be a blessing..." Galations 6:10

This will give your mind something delicious to munch upon:

"I had stayed up too late the night before. It looked like I was going to be late for work, but I pulled into the espresso stand anyway. I was in dire need of coffee. I ordered a regular with cream, 12-ounce. "Are you sure you don't want a 16-ounce?" asked the attendant. "It's free. The lady in front of you paid for it." I glanced ahead just as the woman pulled out into traffic. She was 50-ish; her blonde head was thrown back in a smile as she piloted her Buick Riviera into traffic. I smiled too.

"Well sure, I guess I might as well." When she handed me my coffee I handed her a three-dollar tip. I was suddenly in a really good mood.

I told my co-worker buddy, Charlie, about my free coffee. He smiled. "That's the phantom Riviera coffee lady. She's done that several times to me. I've thought about staking out the place when it opens, zooming in front of her and buying her coffee, but for now I just buy coffee for the person behind me."

Three bucks sure is an easy way to make someone's day......" (Taken from a portion of an article written by Emil Butters in the latest issue of Mary Jane's Farm.)

***

Sunday, May 15, 2005

My Backyard This Morning


The blue forget-me-nots remind me of pixie dust.

Remember when just weeks ago my yard looked like this?


Time does change some things. Time and Nature and God. I am still learning to give God lots and lots of time to make changes in my life... And to realize His timing is totally different than mine. Almost like He's the schedule maker of the Great Train Station of Life and I'm always shocked to stand at the boards and discover that I'd made up my own time tables and they were nowhere even close to His. (So it's no wonder I've missed so many trains!)

I'll be working in my yard again this week, planting, pulling weeds, humming... And breathing-in lilac air. Have you ever tasted lilac air? Yum.

May all your Sunday thoughts be peaceful ones...

***

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Having, But Not Owning (And The Freedom Thereof)


I don't want to brag, but Tom and I have our own private park on Lake Ontario.

Really, we do. Acres and acres of green lawn and huge trees stretching across the shore right beside a tiny ghost-town-like place. All of it belongs to us.

A hundred years ago Victorian families used to stay at a huge brick hotel right on the shore... and when settled, they would walk to the carousel further down the park or to either of the carnival grounds, both just steps away. And of course, they would sit beside the ocean-like lake for hours in their proper bathing costumes for the times.

In the 1930's, Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey--all those guys--used to bring their bands into this tiny country town. The farmers and their families, as well as the city-folk would stream-in to hear them play.

But now the town sits nearly-silent. Especially on the warm Tuesday or Wednesday mornings when Tom and I visit our park.

The Victorian hotel is gone. It was razed over 70 years ago and one of the fairgrounds has vanished, too. A shell of the other one still sits there, unused. But the carousel was restored just last year and even another carousel spins beside it, though only during summer and early autumn.

And the park is still there. Mostly the same as it always was--quiet and heavy with memories. Of course, The Lake still reigns and we love to watch the white sails of the boats and the seagulls out on the slanty concrete piers.

It's an incredible thing to have your own park. Tom and I pack up our 1950's wool blanket, the dark pink one with flowers, and our books. We stop at the same market on the way and buy a picnic lunch and then we drive further to our park and unload our things on nearly always the same patch of green grass overlooking The Lake. And we eat and read and take gulping breaths of lake air. But mostly, we dream.

Of course, we share our park with others willingly. But whenever we go, we usually notice only three or four other people during all our hours there. They sit or stroll with dreamy-eyed thoughts, too. One Sunday afternoon, there was even a Big Band Era concert in the park and that was amazing. It felt as though the music had returned after such a long time--and the trees recognized it and danced.

But most often, Tom and I are the only ones there beneath those hundred-year-old trees which saw and watched the Victorian crowds.

Tom and I have lots and lots of things which we do not own--things like the aging farmhouses and barns and farmland on our way to The Lake... the many Craftsman-house-lined streets in our town... and our 1920's theater built in grand style when money flowed free and easy for many... the streams and rivers... All those things are ours, yet we make no big monthly payments on them... nor do we pay exorbitant costs for their upkeep... and we do not run ourselves into the ground making repairs... I can even smile at the taxes we pay when I realize that, in a way, taxes make these things a little more ours.

But the best thing we have is our own park on the shores of The Lake. It is ours, but we do not own it. It belongs to us, but only in our opened hands.

It seems the best things in life are what we have, but do not own. That's the way that Tom and I are re-learning how to live. It's a good feeling to no longer want to pack up and move into every big, glorious farmhouse on the side of the road, but rather, to just be happy for the people who live there. And to just feel they are sharing their good fortune with those of us who are simply passing through.

***

Friday, May 13, 2005

It's A 1940's Day Around Here


Tom is at work and I am here alone-but-not-really-alone while one of my 1940's Big Band era records is playing.

... and last night I crisply ironed all my old aprons and put them into a drawer I'd emptied during these weeks of tossing things I no longer love. I have a few empty drawers now, actually--that should be classified as a modern-day miracle, don't you think?.

I feel like I am exactly where I belong, because I am.

Years ago I used to be a Big-Time Complainer. You know, one of those people who complained that Life today is not what it used to be... and today's people aren't what they used to be, either, especially concerning this homemaking thing and the lousy attitudes which have shot-up like weeds about it. I complained about today's tv shows and music and vocabulary and hair styles. I complained about others' bad attitudes while having a bad attitude of my own.

But somewhere along the way I learned that complaining gets you nothing. Except maybe headaches which leave big crevices etched into your forehead.

Instead, you must decide to make your life what you want it to be. That is, while cooperating with God, not working against Him. Not working 'against the grain' of His map for you.

So I began collecting old floral and gingham aprons for me to wear instead of just complaining that no one wears aprons anymore. And I bought old record albums and tapes of the kinds of music I like, rather than complain about the kind of music 'out there' which I don't like. I gathered old books and magazines which give honor to homemaking, friendship and taking time-out to love and examine the simple things. And I found old tv shows on DVD to compliment those ideals, too.

I even searched for and gathered some friends, like flowers, who like the old-fashioned ways, instead of cramming my days with those who do not.

It's taken time... but now I am living a custom-made life.

But it took years. All worthwhile things take time--if only we wouldn't get so darn impatient, and instead, would simply enjoy the building of a thing as much as the thing, itself.

But I had to stop complaining and meditating upon the negative. I had to knock-off the I'm-Helpless-Whining and the pity parties. Those things only took me further from the life I really wanted. I found that God gladly helped me carve this good life when I sought His help with a glad heart.

Gotta run... Glenn Miller's music will need to be turned over to the album's other side and I still need to slip on one of those crisp aprons so I'll have something to protect my skirt while I clean and dance around the house.

***

***.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Nitty Gritty Pride

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It just might be a bad case of Pride when...

... someone says (or writes) something negative about me and I get offended.

... I tell others the unkind things So-And-So said about me so that I will be pitied and So-And-So will be resented.

... the cashier at the supermarket seems slow and unsure and impatiently I think, "If I was doing that, I could do it better."

... the driver in front of me makes a mistake and I think, "What a jerk! I'm glad I don't drive like that."

... another blogger deletes my comment and inside my head I go ballistic.

... I don't put my shopping cart in the parking lot stall because I feel I don't have to obey that rule.

... I hotly defend myself and never consider that perhaps there was a little truth in what was said about me.

... I look at my neighbor's pristine yard and think, "I'm glad I'm not that obsessive about my own yard."

... my feelings get hurt when my friends go somewhere without me.

... while standing impatiently in a long line I think, "I shouldn't have to wait like this."

... I buy something new to 'keep up' with my friends.

... I use big words in my writing to impress people with my vocabulary.

... I give advice when I've not been asked for it.

... When my friend shares her child's latest accomplishment I must always tell her about my daughter's latest deed.

... I hear my neighbors fighting and think, "I'm glad we never fight like that."

... I insist on always grabbing the check when I go out to eat with friends.

... I believe I don't have to forgive someone because what they did was unforgivable.


***

"If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself." ...Galations 6:3

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]?" ... Jeremiah 17:9

***

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Burning Bushes Amongst Us



I mentioned in my last post that God sometimes speaks to me through movies.

Actually, I think God can use just about anything to speak to just about any of us.

The old standbys-- sunsets or sunrises, for instance. Oceans. Midnight skies. Autumn.

But He speaks in smaller ways through smaller things...

The smile of a stranger in the supermarket when we so needed a smile.

The book we'd wanted for 15 years, sitting there, upside-down, on a dusty second-hand bookstore shelf.

The line in a song we heard on another person's radio.

The comfort you knew after tragedy struck.

The walks you take when it looks like you are alone--but you know you are not.

The perfect sentence in a devotional book written hundreds of months ago, but just what you needed to hear today.

The urge to pray when someone far away needed you to pray.

The time you missed being in an accident by seconds.

The blog post with an answer which you stumbled upon on a lonely Sunday afternoon.

The perfectly-timed sermon.

The perfect, no-occasion gift from your spouse.

The way your day fell into place.

The extra key you'd placed inside your purse (or wallet), but had forgotten--and now needed.

The Bible verse which you'd read 4,000 times, and yet it showed you something brand new today.

The thoughts of peace you heard before you fell asleep.

And hundreds more which those who have learned to listen seldom miss.

Movie Talk



Permit me to go carnal again....

No, actually, I'm one of those people who can hear God through movies--well, sometimes, ok?. Anyone else like that out there?

Tom and I watched two more Mormon movies since I mentioned the first two here. The R.M. is fun, fun, fun... When the R.M. (which I am assuming means Returning Missionary) returns home after his two-year mission in Wyoming, he finds nothing as he'd envisioned. Oh my, the scene showing him as a tele-marketer for the 'Filthy Filter" (like the TV Guardian), had me laughing to the point of tears. And like The Home Teachers, this movie also ended with a fine moral lesson without being preachy.

The other movie was, Charly, starring Heather Beers who we loved in Baptists At Our Barbeque. The first part of the film, was a pure delight---great romantic comedy. But then when the film could easily have ended with a tidy "and they lived happily ever after" ending, it continued, totally shifting gears, becoming rather a maudlin drama. Still, we enjoyed it, even though by the end, we felt like emotional wrecks, having laughed and cried and laughed and cried through the whole thing.

These new Mormon movies ... what can I say? Those which we've watched so far have been pure delights. And what a relief to sit down to a film knowing you won't be bombarded with well, uhm, things the Bible tends to frown upon. How wonderful to relax and laugh without holding the remote in our hot, grubby hands in case something comes along which would better be viewed in fast-forward and in silence (know what I mean?).

I really recommend all these films. One thing, though--I'd recommend that you watch Charly only after you've seen two or three of the others first--for a couple reasons which I'll keep you guessing about.

We've heard that The Singles Ward and The Best Two Years are terrific, too. Unfortunately, our local video rental places don't have them. We may just have to break down and buy them...then pass them along as Christmas gifts... But again, I've not yet seen them, so I'm only mentioning them, not necessarily recommending them (my disclaimer..)

Again, I'm not Mormon, but I have been in church a whole lot of decades and am delighted to see films which can laugh at the silly things church people do, yet without laughing at The Church . It's such a fine line and to me, these films walk that tight-rope line in perfect balance.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

"I See Blank Canvases"


In your home, do you ever sit and stare at a white wall as though it was a huge, blank artist's canvas?

It is, you know. Each blank, white wall is an empty canvas crying for a creative brush to stroke it into a colorful life.

That's what I did yesterday with this small-ish canvas (above) just outside my Dream Room door. It had been plain vanilla--plain white--for 70 years. I could tell because there were no tiny dabs of color at the baseboard's edge like I've seen in my other rooms. Mrs. Murphy from the 1930's - 1980's must never have carried her paint brush upstairs in all those years. My Dream Room had lived a vanilla life and the other room across the hall was a dusty, dark, creepy-but-nice attic until we finished it off years ago.

So I grabbed my green-dipped paintbrush from the freezer (I keep them all there, wrapped in plastic, so that they are ready on a painting whim. A magazine trick I learned.) After I brushed green onto the wall, I set-up a card table in my Dream Room and painted the shelf and then the chair while I watched episodes of The Andy Griffith Show.

That's how you take a trip back in time. One way, anyway. You watch an old tv show while you paint something on a spring day with the daylight and day-scent meandering through your window screens.

And hours later from the time I began, I felt tired and looked frazzled--but in a good way. There are different kinds of tired. The kind where I spent the day minding everyone else's business... and worked madly after Grace told me to quit for the day... and whined about everything that was going wrong...

And then there's the kind of tired I felt yesterday... the kind which comes from concentrating and working a long time, but letting Grace lift and guide my brush while she gives me pleasant thoughts to munch upon. The kind of tired which gives me pleasant dreams upon my pillow.



***
"The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest." ... Thomas Moore

Monday, May 09, 2005

My Number One Pet Peeve


Every once in awhile Pollyanna has to spill her guts...

I probably have as many pet peeves as the next lady, but I will share with you only my Number One Pet Peeve.

Here it is... I hate it when people who are called to change something in this world, instead, just complain about what needs to be changed. They go around telling all who will listen how upset they are about the terrible problem of ______. How it is unfair and wrong and sad that ________ exists. They even cry tears over _______and appear to be quite passionate about__________.

And yet, all they every do is complain, complain, complain about _______.

But what really bugs me, is when these same people start complaining that the rest of us are doing nothing about _______. That no one nowadays cares about _______ and how it irks him/her to no end that everyone else is so passive about _______.

So why does that bother me? It's because if a person really cares about _______, he/she will do something about it.

And when a person is fulfilling their calling in life, there is a peace about them, a grace, while they go about doing what God has called them to do:

They do what needs to be done, whether anyone else is doing anything or not.
They are hopeful, peaceful people because they believe God is using them to fulfill a very real need.
They know and believe something is being accomplished, even if they can't see it on the outside yet--their obedience is rewarding them with hope on the inside. That same hope encourages them.
And because of this hope, they aren't out criticizing others who are called to different areas. They realize we all have different callings and different passions--otherwise only one area of need would be met upon this Earth.
Because of their peace of mind, they can hear who they should ask for help when the task becomes too great for one person. They know how to ask, also. They invite, rather than use guilt and condemnation.
They see God as their greatest helper. They obey Him one day at a time, so they never become overwhelmed--God never gives them more than they can take care of in any given day. He has too much wisdom for that.
They walk by faith, not by sight and their faith brings great rewards.

And because of all this, a difference has been made in the lives of people involved in ________.

Well, anyway, that is my Number One Pet Peeve. And you can be sure God convicts me like crazy when I find myself taking part in it!

***

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Motherhood: A Wild Ride


Motherhood, for me, has been one wild ride.

I've been on this ride for 25 years and mostly it's been fun and has taken me to places I would never have otherwise gone. An adventure all-around--an adventure which whips your hair back because it usually goes too fast.

But a few days I wanted to shout, "Hey Mister! Stop this thing so I can get off awhile!," so that I could rest and even run away for a week, but you can't get off-- not like that. So you choose to change the way you respond to the dashing in and out on this wild ride. You change the way you see and the way you feel about it.

And yet the ride, itself, changes, too. The years stretch the track out into new territory and you grow with the new experiences. Because, again, you can't get off when it feels uncomfortable. You discover that you, too, must stretch.

The ride takes you to places only other mothers can go. You meet others who understand where you have been. You see the ride reflected in their eyes. You meet still others who have been where you are going and they help prepare you for what you will see.

There is no other ride like this one.

I wouldn't have missed it for anything.

***

Happy Mother's Day to all my readers...

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Siren Prayers


I dig in my garden and stop when the sirens sail and wail down the street at the end of my own... And I pray--every time I pray for those who are in trouble...that they will be helped and healed and will come to know Jesus--they and all their relatives, too.

And, also, I pray for the heroes.

This is what I began to do when my daughter first learned to drive. She would leave the house in our car and nearly always, within minutes or an hour, I would hear sirens and know I was being tested... and I would pray that it was not my daughter who was hurt.

But then God asked, "What about the others? What if others are hurt and leaving this world without knowing Me?"

And He was right. He is always right.

That was eight years ago that I began praying whenever I hear the sirens wailing down the street at the end of ours. Twice a day or sometimes six, but whenever I hear them--I pray.

Who knows? Maybe in Heaven strangers will greet me, strangers I prayed for without ever having known their names. Strangers I prayed for every time I heard the sirens.

***
Do you pray siren prayers, too? I'm just curious.

Walking Along The Shore Or?


There is such a thing as walking along the ocean's shore...Letting your bare feet sink a little in the wet sand and welcoming the splash of waves at your ankles... and gazing all around you at the sandy hills and groups of people beneath their bright umbrellas, laughing, sleeping... and seeing the sky and puffy clouds and foam...and feeling connected to it all.

There is a believing that you need it all...that it is Life and without it, you would die.

And yet there is this, too. A time when it's no longer enough to stroll the shore... a yearning to go deep into the sea to a place where you must follow your heart instead of your eyes... a suspended place where you swim, not walk...and are led by a Voice instead of your feelings... a place where there's not much to see, except for what your heart is shown.

I remember when I just walked along the shores like everyone else and felt like everyone else and did what everyone else did. And then God called me out into the deep--and the struggle began! I did not want to go where I'd never been before...to a place where He would have to be in control--not me... a place where I could not jump back out to the safety of the shore when the sea turned rough.

So I stayed out of the deep a long, long time and over Time, discovered that shore-life was no longer good for me... the beauty was gone because He'd called me out into the deep and I'd not swum out to meet Him. I tried to make the best thing out of a good thing--and failed, because only He can do that.

So one day I said good-bye to the shore and began swimming... and this ocean-life is like none other. Deep calls unto deep... and the Voice is like music down here where His light plays in the current... and there is adventure with others swimming in Deep Life, too...

...And when we swim back to the shore to take the shivering hands of those people wrapped in towels--standing, waiting, wanting something more-- there is the adventure of sharing Deep Life with the new ones....down there where swimming lessons are forever going on... down there where the water is fine.

***

"When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon Peter, 'Put out into the deep water, and lower your nets for a haul.'" ... Luke 5:4

Friday, May 06, 2005

Courage


You have to be brave to be a real Christian nowadays.

And I don't see it getting any easier in the future, either.

Of course, the real courage to live this different life comes from God, Himself. And yet it takes a brave decision on our part, also, to see this thing through.

I think one of the hardest things I've faced is this thing of being misunderstood. Of doing something exactly the way I believed God wanted me to, and then having people criticize what I've done (or said or written). But that's all part of The Plan--can I do what God asks me to, even if it means I just might be standing alone when I'm finished? Sometimes--yes. Sometimes--no.

All the great Christians down through history made courageous (usually unpopular) choices and we are still reading about them today. They didn't take obnoxious stances just for the sake of rattling a few cages, but made their choices out of direct obedience to God.

You almost never hear about the Christians who went around trying to blend into this world. The ones who held onto their 'Rights' to say whatever they want to say, whenever they want to say it....to do whatever they want, however they want, whenever they want... to go wherever they want....to watch or read or listen to whatever they want....or to snarl and bite when wounded if they want...

No, usually the Christians down through Time which we admire most were the ones totally sold-out to God and did only what He wanted them to do (even though they probably pushed past a lot of fear)...and said only what He wanted them to say (and then hushed when probably they still wanted to say more...)... and went only where God asked them to go (and always left it a better place than they found it, which means it probably wasn't a great place when they first arrived).

Sometimes when I'm feeling a sort of uneasiness or lack of peace, I wonder if it's because I'm suffering from a case of 'the blends' -- too much of being like everyone else.

Always, what stands out is passionate dedication and purity. Those two things can never blend in...That is an impossibility in this world. They will always stand bright...And they will often have to stand alone.

***

"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." ...Acts 4:13

"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." ... James 1:27
***

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Speaking of Old Songs...

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I forgot to tell you when Tom found that old box of record albums, besides the Carpenter album, there was Simon and Garfunkel. Oh my... talk about a trip back to being 17! I put that record on today and played The Boxer over and over--loudly. There are some songs in this world which you must listen to full-blast so that you can get lost in them. The Boxer is one of those songs.

"I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains..."

What memories! I told you before that my family moved all the time while I was growing-up. Always at first I hated moving and I hated whatever new town we ended up in... and then I'd grow to passionately love each of those towns.

And then we would move again.

I'd sit in the backseat and watch lonely dry fields streak past, crying tears close to the window.

"I am leaving, I am leaving..."

One thing good, though, about moving so much was being able to start over. I always comforted myself with that one thought. "I can start over. I can act however I want to act in front of these new kids who have never seen me before and don't know how I shy I really am. I can act bold and maybe I'll be popular for once."

But then I would always act the same old way. Shyness--fear--is powerful. Especially when you are a kid. Especially when you are an adult, too.

And yet, even after I married and moved to two different towns afterward, I still played around with that idea. "I'll act different in this new town. All the other wives and mothers don't know how shy I am, so I'll play like I'm not. And while I'm at it, I'll play like I'm not a neat freak around the house, too. I'll relax my housekeeping and joke about being a slob."

Not too hard to guess what really happened,though, huh?

Yeah, you're right, I just stayed my same ol' shy, neat-freak self.

Where am I going with this? For me, I found that only God can change me in lasting ways. I cannot change myself and I've even quit trying (gasp!). No, I've just made up my mind to cooperate with God each time He's ready to change something in me which isn't pleasing to Him. (Seems there's always something.)

And yet, it's odd. Every once in awhile the temptation to move away and start all over returns. Only, now, the temptation is fleeting, because I know running away only makes me tired--and it doesn't change a thing.
***

I Like Books...



...which take me places. Books which can transport me to a tiny diner for breakfast on a dark winter morning and make the scene so real that I can even smell coffee, hear the clinking of plates and see the old men at the table near the door.

...and books which sneak me into homes from 80 years ago, making me feel I am one of the big family of children as they sit around the dining room table or spend summers at their grandparents' farm.... books which, when opened, are like a 'story pool' in which I can dive and visit Times and people I otherwise would never, ever have known.

I used to like How-To books--How To Get Organized, How To Save Money and Time, How To Fulfill Your Dreams--but I don't anymore. I guess they grate against what I'm hearing in my heart. On my adventure these past ten years I've learned that God has a custom-made plan for my days and I prefer, now, to spend time trying to hear from Him just how to carry out that plan. The details--I want to hear the details from Him on how to get organized and save money and live my dreams because He knows me best--a zillion times better than the strangers writing How-To books telling me what worked for them.

Maybe I'm not as creative as I could be because I've too often copied someone else's creativity? Or their blueprint? Or the custom-made plan God made for them?

Oh, there is a place for those kinds of books, but only the ones which help me hear more clearly God's specific plan for me. Lately I've been discarding any book which was a help years ago, but would only be a hindrance now. As I change, my library changes, too. And so do my dreams and likes and even friendships--changes which used to frighten me, but scare me no longer when I remind myself it's all part of the custom-made plan.

After all, there is no growth without change.

And I avoid books (and blogs) which are heavy, heavy with negative opinions, especially opinions which concentrate only on what is going wrong in our Times. I want to be careful what I put into my head and heart--like Jesus' warning about a little leaven, and all that...

Some people tell me they almost never hear God speak inside of them. I've noticed a pattern with some of them--they are the ones who read many books and listen to many people....many voices all day long... and car radios and tv's and phones... And I wonder, do they seldom hear from God because the other voices are so many and so loud? Has the din of voices and words and opinions drowned out The Voice which leads by the still water?

God is not into yelling to be heard. So for me, I want to choose the voices which will enable me to hear Him better. The books/media/people which encourage me to get to know God for myself.

***

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Does It Matter What We Blog?


I've read a few blog posts written by Christians which say we should be able to write anything and everything in our blogs that rattles around in our heads. That, after all, it's our blog and a blog is rather like a diary and in a diary, one lets it all hang out.

Well, uh, no.

For me, that does not ring true on many levels. For one, your diary hidden under your mattress is your diary hidden under your mattress. But a publicly-shared blog is a publicly-shared blog. People are involved...souls are involved...

Words.... The Bible has tons to say about the power of our words. Remember how in driver's ed. we were taught that a car is a weapon? Well, just as a car is a weapon and can be used for great things or harmful ones, so can our words. After all, the power of life and death is in our tongues...the words we share...

...and...

"Do you see a man who speaks in haste?
There is more hope for a fool than for him." Proverbs 29:20

Speaking in haste, to me, can mean sharing my words before putting them through any kind of a filter for those who are listening to (or reading) my words.

A filter like this:

"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble and sin [that is, who entices him or hinders him in right conduct or thought], it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be sunk in the depth of the sea." Matthew 18:6

That is one filter which causes me to ask myself: Will my words create doubt in a new Christian's mind? Will my depressing words remove hope from someone who needs it desperately? Will this gossip poison someone's mind? Will my complaining cause others to be dissatisfied with their own lives?

..and on and on...

I could never tell everyone to say whatever they want to in their publicly-shared blog. Not in a million years. That would be like telling people that God thinks it's just fine and dandy to say out loud anything that pops into our heads.

And I cannot believe that.

***

"For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." ... Matthew 12:37

Mormon Movies



Hey guess what? Tom and I have become recent fans of movies produced by Mormon folk. We, ourselves, are not Mormon (in case you were wondering), but the two films we've seen so far have been fun and sweet and refreshing.

Last night we watched Baptists At Our Barbeque and enjoyed every single curse-less, sentimental, small-town moment of it. Tom and I met and married in a very small mountain town and I've noticed since then, that we especially love movies which poke fun at that way of life (in a kind way, of course...)....

Our first Mormon movie was The Home Teachers, of which the last sentimental half-hour more than makes up for some earlier, shall we say, lame-osity. But those last minutes played before our eyes what James 1:27 tries to get through to us:

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

If anyone can watch that scene without becoming, at the very least, misty-eyed, I'd be shocked. That's how powerful it is. (You'll have to see it for yourself--you'll get no hints from me to spoil it.)

There are other Mormon movies which we are going to search for in our local rental place. Tom and I go through phases with our movie-viewing. I remember the Science-Fiction Phase.... the Ma and Pa Kettle Phase... The Blondie and Dagwood Phase... etc.

I just thought I'd mention these well-made Mormon films for anyone who may be Modern Movie Weary of all the junk which usually is included. In Baptists At Our Barbeque and The Home Teachers, we found no junk--only fun ways illustrating how to (and how not to) live this life we have been given.

***
For more of my favorite movies, click here. Scroll down for my list from the last 12 years or so.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Playing Tag (And All That Good Stuff)


Tina and I have been playing online Scrabble for months now and awhile ago here at my blog she tagged me to play this game which is sweeping Blogland. Well, I was going to tell her this week that I just don't have the imagination to play along on this one (really, I don't... I am not nearly as creative as the rest of you)... but then today, Me at The Flying Pig tagged me, too.

So what's a girl like me to do? She tweaks the game a bit to fit her lack of imagination...

So if I had the freedom to be a

scientist, farmer
musician, doctor
painter, gardener
missionary, chef
architect, linguist
psychologist, librarian
athlete, lawyer
inn-keeper, professor
writer, llama-rider
bonnie pirate, astronaut
world famous blogger…
justice on any one court in the world…
or be married to any current famous political figure…...

... I would choose to just be plain ol' me.

I mean, I can't even imagine having any of those careers (I told you I have no real imagination). I am just so in love with my life right now just as it is.

No, really!

Oh, of course, I'd like to change some annoying things about myself--but only God can do that--and He will, but only as I'm faithful to cooperate with Him and His timing.

And then, Life is about so much more than careers and titles... It's more about balance--even if I was a world-famous writer, I'd still be responsible for caring for my husband and my house and my pets and my garden and my body and my stuff... and for becoming closer to Jesus so that I can become more like Him-- and so that I can represent Him better to a world who has no idea what He's really like.

Oh, I know I am so not playing this game right! But really, I can't even imagine slipping into a career which God had not intended for me to have. He has made me the happiest homemaker on Earth, and in this moment with the rain and wind outside my window... and my new little room all warm and pink.... and two cats upon my bed... and my books on old shelves tucked beneath the eaves... and my Blogland friends nearby... well, I wouldn't change a thing.

But I do thank you ladies for asking...

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Confessions



1. Sometimes I don't put my clean silverware in their correct slots--I just toss them into the silverware drawer.

2. I haven't mowed my yard yet this Spring and it's quite long.

3. Sometimes I still listen to my Mary Poppins album on my record player.

4. My basement is a horrid, dark, cluttered mess (but I'm working on it).

5. I am always behind in answering my email.

6. Although I'm the mother of a 25-year-old, I am still enchanted by the way my Storybook Dolls' eyes open and look at me.

7. Tom and I don't go to church every Sunday.

8. The paint in our bathroom is peeling. So is the paint on our front steps.

9. My eyes are not what they used to be, yet I hate for people to see me wearing my reading glasses.

10. Tom bought a new dishwasher 11 years ago but I've never used it because I prefer to wash dishes by hand.

11. People seem to like me better online than they do in-person.

12. I wouldn't like to live in a newly-built house.

13. Sometimes I hide greasy pans inside my oven.

14. Most of my hours are spent alone (though not alone-alone, if you know what I mean). I am happier that way and I hear more clearly what to write.

***
Happy May Day to all my readers!