Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Rampant Crime In My Community

These are from a local newspaper's Police Blotter section, a sort of collection of the lighter side of crime in our area. We had to laugh, and yet we both wished this was the only side of crime around here...

A _____ Blvd. resident complained that there were 10 teenagers hanging from tree branches near the playground and wanted them removed before the trees were damaged.

Suspicious people with a vehicle were reported on ____ Road. A man and a woman were in the vehicle taking videos of passing cars with a video recorder. They then removed items from the trunk and went into the park, the complainant sad. Police learned they were aspiring artists making a home video.

A ____Lane resident was suspicious of a man wearing a hard hat and walking around in the backyard with a ladder. Police reported that he was a Time Warner Cable repairman.

A _____ Drive resident complained that his son's ex-girlfriend took out a lot of library books under his daughter's name and was refusing to take them back.

A person reported missing from a facility on ____ Road was never missing but in a different bed.

A _____ Ct. resident reported an unknown man was on the side of the house. It was her neighbor who was inspecting his siding.

Four adults on bikes collided on _____ Road. Injuries to all were reported.

On _____ Drive, a resident reported someone took the hose from his pool and replaced it with another one that wasn't as long.

What We Found...

What fun we had at estate and yard sales yesterday... You can see some of the fun for yourselves here. The mirror was just $5 and someday I will paint it (the scroll-type stuff at the top makes it special, imo). Tom paid a bit more for the table than I would have...someday I will paint it, too, probably to match the mirror.

And we both loved this coffee table...loved it even more when Tom asked them if they'd take $7 instead of $10...and they said yes (it's old, not new). And true, it's very un-Craftsman-furniture-like. But we've found that what 'they say' is true: buy what you love and --somehow--it will all fit together. As with everything else, it, too, will get a coat of paint someday. But even for now, all these new-to-us things look sweet in our home.

And I bought this lampshade for just $3. I'd seen others like it in old magazines... I believe these were popular in the 1920's? 30's? It sits on a lamp which I've been meaning to--shock--repaint.
I try always to carry an expectation that God will lead us to sales with something which will make us gasp with delight. Do we always find something everywhere we go? No, of course not. But the spirit of expectation, itself, fills our days with smiles around our eyes... and it far outweighs living with the ol' spirit of nothing-good-ever-happens-to-me-and-God-doesn't-care-about-that-kind-of-stuff-anyway.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Houses Inside Books

I love to come across descriptions of houses within books. Here are two samples from books I've read lately:

"The house was close to the ground, with a long porch across the front. There were old trunks on the porch, and a quilting frame, and a big globe of the world with Africa showing. From the inside of the house there was the sound of a typewriter...

"...She led them into the living room. It was much darker than the outside and full of old-fashioned furniture and things. There was a half-upholstered love seat with a dusty hammer and tacks and stuff on it; near the fireplace there was a weaving loom and Tommy bumped against a wheel with a clay bowl drying on it...

"Following the others, Nora looked into the kitchen and saw boxes of peaches on the floor. They smelled very ripe; and on the table there were empty jars, and a jar partly full of brown peach halves. It looked as if canning had been stopped quite a while ago for something more important...

"...She seated herself at an old typewriter on a round table that was nearly covered with books and papers. The lace curtains at the window were gray and the room smelled of dust and overripe peaches.

"There were books and things on all the chairs, but the explorers moved them politely and sat down." ....From The Enchanted Islands by Archie Binns

And the following reminds me of the houses we often walk through during estate sales. In fact, Tom and I may go to a couple estate sales today and who knows what adventures we will have?:

"When I was nine years old, my father discovered an old two-story stucco house in a small, gated community of stately homes once owned by the very rich...

"The house was my mother's dream made real. It had a master bedroom as large as our whole apartment on Islington Street, with a dressing room for her and another for my father. There were four smaller bedrooms upstairs and a playroom for my sister and me to keep ourselves amused in. I had a whole wall of bookshelves to fill with books. What more could a little girl want?

"The kitchen had a table big enough for us all to eat breakfast and watch my mother assemble the ingredients for the meals to come... But the best part of the house was the basement with the paneled recreation room, laundry room and fruit cellar filled with dilled pickles, tomatoes, apple butter and canned vegetables from our garden...

"I have lived in well over a dozen houses since I left Forty Birkhead Place, but I have never had another home. Home was huge family dinner parties in that noble dining room under the crystal chandelier. Home was a climbing rose on the side of the garage and a purple maple tree that grew taller each year. Home was the Chickering piano in the living room where I spent hours practicing... I sat down before that bay window on a yellow print couch every weekend waiting for my date to pick me up and open the door to romance.

"I can still feel the excitement that was always there for me in that white stucco house with the maroon-trimmed windows. I can still hear the swing music on the old Victrola. I can still see the little brick road that led to our driveway and hear our neighbor, Mary Kaplan, singing her scales in the house next door. It is all there and I relive it every time I close my eyes."
Written by Lynn Ruth Miller and taken from the Coming Home issue of The Rocking Chair Reader.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Here I Go Again...

My last post was controversial and well, I guess I'm on a roll. This one will be a tad controversial, too.

One of my favorite bloggers is Laura at Here and Now. She's such a sweetheart and I would love to have her for a neighbor. Awhile ago she wrote about an idea she'd read about in another blog--you can read her post here if you'd like.

In theory, it's a marvelous idea. What is the idea? You choose to read a book which a friend or relative loves and has perhaps been begging you to read for a long time. And by reading your friend's favorite book you'll be showing him/her you care enough to read something they consider important. And too, by reading what they love, you'll perhaps come to understand them better and be able to relate to them better in years ahead.

And really, that is a sweet idea. And since Laura is a compassionate person, I could totally understand where she's coming from.

But I have just one problem with that idea. Until I went online, most of my friends had no problem with reading books peppered with swearing and using God's name in vain. Books which contain sex outside of marriage, adultery between people married to others, and bodice-ripping-like details of well... now you have me blushing!

And well, even for the sake of deepening a friendship, I cannot read books like those.

I just can't. Not even for my best friend or for someone who needs a friend.

Call me whatever you wish (believe me, I already know some of the names you might be thinking right now), but if I didn't follow my convictions in this area, I couldn't live with myself afterward. I feel God has asked me to stay away from books like those and what He asks of me must be considered first. Always. When I plow right through my convictions, I always discover myself later in some troubled land.

And for me, that whole idea carries over into other areas, also. If I have a dear friend who 'needs' me to do something, anything, which shoots-off all sorts of red flags and lights inside my heart, well, I will have to say, "No, I'm sorry." (And knowing me, I'd be lightning-quick to suggest an alternative plan, being a retired subtle control-freak.)

I have not gained popularity living this way. Trust me. But I have gained a deep, lasting peace. And days when it feels like it should be illegal to carry this much joy.

But let me be quick to add-- I also believe that we are all in different places in our walk with God... and sometimes what He convicts one person of, He doesn't appear to convict another. Some people have wonderful ministries and yet they do what God won't let me get away with. I get that. And when I really got that--I stopped complaining about how unfair that appeared to be and I just left those things in God's hands. I realized Trust requires some unanswered questions. And besides, God knows exactly what He's doing--even when I don't have a clue as to why He's doing it. (Imagine that!)

And then I began being more observant about whether *I* was obeying God--or not. Because after all, I can do something about that. And God can help me understand things which concern myself--that's not too much of a stretch (or shouldn't be, anyway).

I've discovered Life is so much less complicated when I just plain ol' mind my own business... and do the best I can with God at my side, guiding me through the murky stuff. Upon this Earth, there will always be the murky stuff--and oh, how I need Him to walk me through it!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My Number One Pet Peeve

"Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil." Romans 14:16


I've been thinking about that verse lately. In fact, my blogroll got even shorter this week because of it.

I am very, very, very tired of bloggers who set themselves up as King/Queen of the World and tell us which Christian teachers they believe are "missing it." Which ones we should avoid or be suspicious of.

As though these bloggers have ever been in those teachers' shoes.

As though they've ever known what it takes to run a ministry which ministers to millions of people.

As though these bloggers have a perfect understanding of Everything, have experienced Everything in God there is to experience and have learned Everything about God which a person can possibly ever, ever learn.

As though these bloggers know what these teachers' have walked through with God at their side. As though these bloggers even have a clue as to what they would do with such a huge responsibility if given one, themselves.

As though these bloggers have listened to these teachers' more than just a few times and come to know, really know, their heart for themselves.

As though these bloggers have even an inkling of the kinds of evil forces which come against leaders every single day of their lives.

As though these bloggers ever pray with godly compassion for these teachers for any length of time.

As though these bloggers have even spent one minute with these teachers in-person.

As though these bloggers totally disregard the millions of souls saved and people set free from horrible years of bondages of depression, unforgiveness, self-hatred, and self-condemnation.

As though these bloggers believe they won't have to account for every single condemning word they've spoken against God's annointed people when they stand before Him in Heaven.

As though!

Ever wondered what my pet peeves are? Well, you've just discovered the first one at the top of the list.

And because of this verse, I can no longer keep it hidden. And I can also no longer have anything to do with blogs which justify chewing up teachers and spitting out the pieces (even in ignorance). It wounds the deepest part of my spirit--and well, if I'm limping around with a wounded spirit, I'm unable then to minister peace and Life to you.

And you are way too important for me to risk that.

"Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil." Romans 14:16

Searching With Joy & Anticipation

One early weekend morning, Tom and I went to a flea market where I found this book, The Housekeeper's Scrapbook, for $5. The copyright says 1911. I felt as though I'd discovered a buried treasure and, in a way, I believe I did. In only one place online have I seen this book for sale: it is being offered for $250.

And well, of course, that's nice. But it's not a treasure to me because it appears to be worth much more than what I paid. Rather, it's a treasure because of its drawings. Because of what it represents, namely, a piece of history leftover from the days when housekeeping was considered an art form.

Of course, I still believe keeping and decorating a house is an art form, but it's wonderful having something which I can hold in my hands to reaffirm that fact.

Other names of rooms not pictured here? The Breakfast Room. The Sick-Room. The Outdoor Sleeping Room. The Conservatory and Sun Parlor. Nooks, Corners and Den. And many others which bring pictures of the post-Victorian, early-Craftsman era to my dreamy-minded head.

And of course, as seen here, The Billiard and Ballroom. We all have one of those, right?

Sometimes we need to be reminded that the search for treasure can be exciting, that is, unless we turn it into a frenzied must-have-it-and-must-have-it-now all-consuming yearning. No earthly treasure is worth that. Only God, Himself, was meant to be searched for with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

And He is the best treasure of them all.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Creativity = Saving Money

I love sharing ways to save money because it's a way of sharing hope... hope that having a nice home just might not be as impossible as "they say" (whoever "they" are). A hope that anyone can create certain things. Sometimes it just takes seeing the ideas for yourself, first.

Like yesterday... I 'matted' this Holly Hobbie card by just cutting-out squares from two sheets of cardstock (which I always keep on hand) and placing the card on top of the smaller square. At a glance, you can't tell it's not matted the 'right way.' But then, who's to say just which way is the right way anyway?

Here's another example of matting a card Debra-style:

And moving along... do you know how curtain-hanging hardware costs tons of money nowadays? Well, back in the years when we had cable tv, I saw this terrific idea--just use copper pipes made for your home's plumbing--you can buy them at hardware stores:

They are much, much cheaper and I've been able to cut them easily with one of those rectangular hand-held saws (whose name escapes me).I left this one its natural copper color, but you can spray-paint them, too. Also, you can use pvc pipe (I think it's called)--it's white and comes in larger sizes. I don't always add finials, but these I found cheaply.

And if your house didn't come with old-fashioned decorative touches, you can always add your own. Salvage yards are popular, plus there are flea markets and junk shops and Ebay. Above the mirror, I found this plaster-of-paris medallion thing at a flea market for $1. The colors were perfect, but I just touched-up the chips a little.

And earlier I shared with you how I'm now facing some of my books outward on their shelves... To me, it's an added way to show artwork. Here are a few more examples which you'll find around my house:

The main thing? Just have fun with decorating... don't rush it, be willing to wait for some big things while you find joy in making little things... and don't feel pressured by trying to keep up with anyone. Let your home reflect yourself--and then it will reflect that you had fun creating it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

If You Love Aprons...

... You'll probably love this.

On sale now.
Or you can order from here.

End of commercial.

Well, No Wonder!

Sometimes I just don't feel right inside... not as peaceful or contented in my heart's deeper places.

Or sometimes I feel royally overwhelmed.

And then it comes to me, "Well, no wonder!"

...It's probably because God told me if I didn't have the tv or radio playing all day, I'd most likely hear Him better. And for two days I turned down the noise (of all kinds) in my life... but then... I 'forgot' and kept them playing in room after room of my home and head.

... or maybe it happened when I procrastinated answering my email, paying bills, exercising or cleaning house when Grace stood there to help me, but I chose to do something else, instead... and then surprise! My day turned dark and stressful and overwhelming instead of peaceful, like before, in the midst of my work.

... or maybe I lost my peace because God asked me to not check my blog so often for comments, but I made excuses and plowed ahead anyway... or because He asked me to listen to my favorite teacher on tape (because there was something specific I needed to hear), but I kept saying, "Oh, I will! As soon I finish this and this and this and this," until the day ended in night (and I'd not really finished anything).

... or when God told me not to share my negative opinion about that person, yet I shared it anyway...

... or perhaps it's because I ignored my conscience-- when it told me to stop drinking caffeine (gives me headaches), but I drank it anyway... when it told me not to have second helpings, but I did... when I spent money after it asked me to wait (or I waited when the money would've been wisely-spent)... or when it asked that I not nag my husband, but I felt he deserved it and nagged him anyway.

Well, duh! How funny-sad when I expect to feel the peace of obedience when all day long I've been disobedient in ways which seem small (when they are not small at all). How wildly foolish when I follow the map inside my own head when it is God who knows the way... when it is God who is the Way.

An obedient heart is always a good way to get my peace back. That, and repentance.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

World Trade Center

So there we were yesterday at our favorite time-travel-your-way-back-to-the-1940's theater, the one with 2nd-run movies--and with no idea what we were going to see. Highly unusual for us because I'm careful about what I watch (well, mostly) and I always check out this reviewer before I walk into any theater (okay, 95% of the time).

And well, we chose to buy tickets for World Trade Center. I'd not read one word about it, but Tom said he'd heard good things. We bought candy, looked, as always, at the old pre-1950 movie star photos, framed, and lining the long hallway, along with the green and white checked linoleum and pine walls, then went and sat down.

It wasn't a movie for everyone.
It wasn't a movie for families (imo).
But we were both very, very glad we saw it.
For a number of reasons.

I was going to list those reasons, but I'd rather you just watch the movie for yourself. Or not watch it. As I said, it's not for everyone. But for me, I'm thankful I didn't miss it.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Seeking Him

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13

For my first 25 Christian-like years, I was seeking a lot of things, but I wasn't seeking God. To know Him better.

Not really.

No, I was seeking to make more friends and to use my gifts and to lose myself in helping people. To earn gold stars from God, Himself, on some heavenly chart.

And I sought formulas which would make me feel better and to make that brick wall disappear--the one which kept me from only going so far, no further. People would say give this offering or fast that meal or witness to those people and read this many chapters of the Bible each day and poof! You will feel better all over. Guaranteed.

Well, I tried all that and there was no poof! I would try all those things and then drive home, sit on the couch with my cats and not feel better. There was just more stress and feeling overwhelmed and as though everyone else had figured out Life--everyone except for me.

But still I skipped around trying what other people were trying and trying to be a good girl, a helpful woman and someone everyone spoke well of... running while slinging good deeds everywhere like seeds which never land, until finally, I ended up in a sort of zombie-like, good-doer heap on the floor (so to speak).

And that's when God caught me. Usually that's the only way He can catch a person. When we become still.

And you might think God grabbed me by the neck and lectured me, but He didn't. Instead, He simply said, "You've done things your way for years--how about trying my way? You've been seeking things and people and position and heavenly brownie points... How about if, instead, you start seeking me? Just me?"

And since He had a point, because after all, my ways hadn't brought me peace... I gave up and gave in... to Him. Even the giving-in was His idea and I have learned that His ideas are always best. My ideas are nearly always defective and somewhere in their design a major flaw will eventually pop up and collapse the whole project. But His ways are perfect. My ways are a big waste of time.

And in seeking to know God I have come to know peace. And joy. And love. Because He is all those things. Only better.

But I had to pretty much start all over. The foundation had to be rebuilt (I'd been building it all crooked. It had always been doomed to topple someday.). I had to come as a child, even though for years I'd believed I was so darn grown-up.

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

It took searching with my whole heart... hundreds of hours over years and years just sitting with Him. And reading the Bible. And taking walks with Him. And hearing good teaching. And obeying Him, even if He asked that I drop everything and just sit still, with Him, for ten minutes (which is like stopping dead still in a race and watching all your friends zoom past you--and not understanding how this is a good thing). Even if He asked me other things which made no sense-- until later. Until after I did what He asked me to do. And seeking to know what He likes and does not like.

But mostly it took seeking Him--who He is. And still, years and years later it takes seeking Him. There is always more of Him to know. There always will be.

And where once there was racing around in insecure, working-for-my-gold-stars circles (then collapsing in a heap), there is now peace. And Grace. And this Friend beside me no matter where I am. And mornings when I can't wait to get out of bed.

All because of Him.

My life became immeasurably better when I stopped trying to arrange God into my schedule, and instead, began arranging my life to fit into God's schedule.

Autumn's Arrival

Happy Autumn!

To me, Autumn Days always feel like celebratory days... and my home is called Autumn Cottage for a reason. I'm already anticipating the colors and scents and slant of light which Autumn will bring this time around.

I just may wash the windows so to see it all better.

Have you named your home yet? If so, what is its name?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Back By Popular Demand

Many of you, (ok, a handful), wrote and said you loved seeing the houses in my town.... so..... here are some leftover pictures from Tuesday. Not wanting to overwhelm anyone, I didn't post all of them. Now you can imagine why I go to so many estate sales--I go simply to wander up and down the stairs of these kinds of houses and dream what it must have been like to have lived there for so many decades.

There are literally thousands of houses like these (to the left) back here in our state and in neighboring ones. It must have been a very popular style for families around the 1910's and 20's.

Oh, and see this tan house above? It's currently for sale for $89,900... in the lovely old neighborhood next to mine, the one where I love to walk nearly every day. It's wonderful living in a place where real estate is still sane (though I'll admit our taxes are beyond ridiculous). But still....

Making What You Want

Our upstairs 'tower room' does not have a real closet. No, instead, it has a dark cave. A loooong, black cubby space that you can crawl into and hide boxes--boxes of stuff which you never look at. Boxes which mice could chew up into dust and you'd probably never even notice.

And well, our tower room is a guest room and a guest room is no good if it has no closet. So I made one. And if you were trying with all your might to figure out what in the world this is a picture of, well, now you know. It's our guest room closet and I made it out of an old pot rack which once hung, painted black, in our kitchen. But I painted it pink, and too, I hung a gold double-hook hanger just below it. Clothes can be hung from all these hooks by hangers or just by their necks. (And as I iron, I hang our clothes there, too, before putting them away.)

And voila! Our guest room now has a closet.

Long ago I learned that instead of just complaining about what I don't have, I should, instead, try to make it.

If I need a table, I can look around our house and shed and find something with which to make one. In fact, last week I lined up two tv trays then topped them with a table top I found in our shed. After covering it all with a damask tablecloth, I think it looks nice.

If I want to read books which our city library long ago judged as obsolete and then discarded, I should search in junk shops, book shops and thrift shops for those old books. (And now searching is extremely easier since I'm online.)

If I want a friend, I should go out and find one. Or better--go out and be one.

And on and on....

But the very, very worst thing I can do is to, instead, just mope around at home, murmuring and whining about not having what I need. God is always there to help me find what I need--but I can only hear Him when my dreadful complaining isn't drowning out His helpful voice.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Of Tower Rooms, Lessons & Favorite Songs

Well, this is going to be one big, disjointed jumble, I think...

Remember our upstairs guest/music/aerobics/craft/ironing/office room? Just today I came up with a better name for it (of course, anything is better than that long, rambling name!). It's now called The Tower Room. I realized while standing up there with all the light coming through the seven windows and the trees across the way and rooftops for as far as the eye can see, well, I feel as though I am in a tower. A nice one.

I'm trying to get better about replying to your comments. Maybe you've noticed that if I do reply to them, it takes me 2 or 3 days, which is well, what I call bad form. Maybe if I didn't wait till they all pile up, I could answer them sooner(!)

I've been remembering lately how I need to expect a lot from God, but not a lot from other people. I need to let people be who they are, especially if I want them to let me be who I am. (That sowing and reaping thing again.)Though yes, there's also a time for confrontation... just as there's also a time for simple, believing prayer when a change is desired. It's the knowing the right time for each that matters. Years ago my whole life became more peaceful when I just accepted that everyone in my life is the way they are. Period. And only God can change them, if He wants and if they want. Period. What freedom one feels when one stops playing Holy Ghost Junior! Trust me.

And along those lines, the verse, "Don't cast your pearls before swine," has been returning to me. Not that anyone in my life is a pig, but there are two people with whom I cannot share the things I love best. Almost invariably, they will stomp upon and crush those things I hold dear and I will be upset and hurt and will have to spend days shaking the whole thing off and hearing God say (albeit kindly), "I've told you not to do that, like, a million times."

Sigh. But at least there are only two people with whom I feel that way. If it was 20 or 200 I'd be concerned that I had become overly sensitive and wearing my feelings on my sleeve. And well, that is a horrible way to live--always getting your feelings hurt. Trust me-- I know about that one, too. But having learned down through the years to follow Grace around, I'm learning to go only where she goes, for when I do, Grace is always there to hand me, quickly, anything I need to not only survive, but survive with joy.

God's been reminding me that just because He has people living by a certain schedule it does not mean He wants me to live by the same schedule. He has a custom-made schedule made just for me--all that remains is for me to find it and follow it. And well, I know that. But sometimes I forget.

This is my 777th post. I think that's kind of neat.

I currently have two favorite songs which they play on Reach FM (my current favorite radio station). One of the songs is called Happy, by Ayiesha Woods. To listen to a little part of it go here and scroll down until you see the word Happy in the sampler. Considering how old and decrepit some of you in your 20's think I am (heh), you may be shocked that I like this kind of music. Actually, this is both Tom's and my favorite song--we are both young at heart, I guess.

My other favorite song is by Mat Kearney and is called Nothing Left to Lose. Go here and scroll down till you see Nothing Left to Lose in the sampler box. You will be sorry it's not longer (well, maybe, depending upon what kind of music you like). I love, love, love this song.


P.S. Oh wow! I just now noticed that Blogger put back the little pencil thing, the one that we can click on and be taken instantly to our post so to make changes. My, I hadn't seen that thing in over a year, I believe... I'd nearly forgotten what it symbolized!


"The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our
dispositions, and not upon our circumstances." Martha Washington

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

More of My Town...

...for your viewing pleasure... And yet, when I came home this morning after taking these pictures--after reveling in the cool breezes and autumnal scents and the sun and morning shadows and these huge old houses on these shady tree-lined streets where I heard happy voices on nearly every block and smelled coffee and bacon--I looked at these pictures and sighed. They, in no way, capture the wonder of it all. So please, as you click upon these for a closer peek, try to imagine them being 100 times grander than they appear.