Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Dish Drainer


Some of you will feel sorry for me after this post... or you'll question my sanity.

I won't blame you.

Yesterday Tom and I went to a few yard sales and the only thing I found was something in a 'Free Box.' It was the dish drainer in this picture.

The weird part? I was excited to find this.

You see, for years I've just used a dish towel to set my newly-washed dishes on and I have liked it that way. There's nothing to store under the sink, you can hang a towel to dry or wash it just by tossing it inside a washing machine. No big deal. Easy.

But every now and again I've thought it might be fun to have an old-fashioned dish drainer... one that looked old... one like Blondie Bumstead might have (that is my question before I buy anything at yard sales--"Would Blondie have this in her house?"). And then poof! Yesterday I saw this pink dish drainer lying in the Free Box and well, it looks old (it's probably from 2002, or something, but hey... I'm after a certain look and besides--I can pretend, can't I?).

And the really, really weird part is that when I did the dishes last night I had fun. I enjoyed placing the dishes in the dish drainer just so. I felt like I was playing house again--the way I used to feel when I was a young, sweet newlywed lots and lots of years ago.

And well, I'm glad I felt that way. It felt good to still enjoy the very, very, very little things in Life.

....And I'm thankful that I'm childlike enough to believe God tucked that dish drainer into the Free Box just to surprise me.

***
Oh... and just wanted to mention that I have a new blog, one only for photos of my house. If you'd like to visit me, please go here. I'd love to spend time with you!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Trust: Full of Headaches or Hope?


Yesterday while I walked all across Blogland during the big Home Tour, I came across a Christian woman who was all in a dither. She had bees in her bonnet because of the current Mid-East crisis, and she was troubled and upset that all the rest of us in Blogland were not troubled and upset. She'd visited some of us and scoffed that we were speaking of trivial things, instead, and now she was feeling more sick than ever because of us.

And ok, there is that... There is choosing to view Life that way...to live that way... and looking at all the rest of us as clueless morons if we don't choose to get sick with worry. And there is such a thing as believing one is more spiritual if one always has a headache, a heartache and an I'll-take-you-down sermon.

And if that's your idea of being truly spiritual, well, go for it. Go in God.

But as for me and my house, we will lift our head because our redemption draws nigh... more nigh than ever before. We will not dash around in panic just because the world is going exactly according to plan as written in the Bible... and we will use these times to get out our Bibles and read them for God's perspective...

...we will pray for Jerusalem and all those who stand against her... We will give money and aid and comfort and hope wherever God leads us ... We will trust that God is just as mighty and in-control as He ever was, even in 2006...

... and we will, in these very troubled times, draw closer to God than ever before and in so doing, we will come away refreshed, renewed, hopeful and excited about the days in which we are living--days when one can see all of History being brought to an adventurous close...

... and in drawing closer to God, we will laugh and trust as children walking beside their Father with their hand in His... and full of real trust, we'll sing down paths with His joy unspeakable and full of glory...

... and keep on singing, even when we've discovered--oh my!--we've stepped across the very threshold of Light-filled Heaven.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Becoming More Sunflowerish



I sat in our backyard tonight in air so heavy I could almost see it. I looked at our tallest sunflower and marveled at how my life changed when I became like a sunflower twelve years ago.

I mean, sunflowers crane their necks and follow the sun with their face all day long and then rest in one place at night.

And, well, as I sat in the yard and stared at the sunflower,I thought, "For the last twelve years I've tried to be like a sunflower--and finally, God was able to start making me more like Him."

Instead of wildly looking through books and blogs and tapes and lessons about how to become more like Jesus, I've found I change more when I turn my face toward the Son and let Him change me. Instead of feeling so much pressure to become kinder and more forgiving, generous and bold, I put the pressure on the Son and remind Him I am just--when all is said and done--but dust. I remind Him it takes Him to make me like Him--and He likes to be reminded...

And it still amazes me when He simply says, "Come here. Sit down beside me awhile and I will change you... my presence will change you... Sit still and you'll hear my wisdom. Sit quietly and you will never be the same."

And even after all those hours sitting and leaning against His sleeve, it amazes me that I sometimes forget and walk around trying...trying... trying... to be good like He is good. And then He is the one doing the reminding-- "Debra! Quit trying so hard. Even if you could become good on your own, it would never be good enough."

Only He is good enough.
Only what is from Him is good enough.
Only what He does through me is good enough.

And so I pray to become more sunflowerish--always with my face following the Son during the day and completely at rest, sweet rest, at night.

Remembering Naomi's Half-Birthday


Long ago and far away when Naomi was 5, or so, we first heard about half-birthdays. That's where you celebrate the 6-month point following your last birthday... the official day you can now say, "I am ___ and-a-half-years old." You baked a little half cake... you gave a simple little half-of-a-card and a tiny trinket from a dime store.

You kept it simple. You kept it cheap. It was just all-around supposed to be an easy, thoughtful thing to do for your children.


Yeah right... If you are smart, you will not start celebrating half-birthdays.

The first few times we celebrated Naomi's half-birthday were fine. Quiet. Just the three of us around the diningroom table making Naomi feel special. Just a sweet family time.

And then things got complicated. One might even say wild. Before I knew what had happened, an 8-and-a-half-year-old Naomi had talked me into a whole, full-blown birthday party with nearly all the bells and whistles. Oh, no theme park nonsense, you understand... Just crepe paper streamers and balloons and four giggling little girls over to spend the summer afternoon eating birthday cake (half of one, of course), ice cream, potato chips and candy before opening the tiny little trinket presents they'd brought for Naomi.

And by the time she was 17, I remember looking outside our bedroom window on the morning after Naomi's half-birthday, at our tent all set-up in the backyard, wondering if things had gotten a tad out-of-control... Ten (or more) girls were sleeping inside the tent and would eventually come stumbling outside, ready for breakfast.

After all, they were up quite late at the big, house-shaking co-ed party which Naomi had held in our attic the night before.


Heh. Actually, ok.... I'm not smart. I did start the half-birthday thing in our house and--of course--not one year afterward did Naomi ever let the day pass unnoticed. But you know? I'm not sorry... not at all. For one thing, Naomi's real birthday always comes in the deadest, darkest part of winter... January 27th. Usually on the snowiest, iciest, most dangerous day of the whole year, thus, causing only the bravest (most foolhardy?) amongst her friends to show-up for her party. And well, nearly always July 27th is all things opposite-- clear and balmy and warm... and always that evening may even be said to be magical. Perfect for parties for just 20 of ones closest friends.

Last night Naomi called because I'd sent her an email saying I'd love for her to drop by because I had a half-birthday gift for her... She told me that since she was so old now, I really didn't have to do the half-birthday thing if I didn't want to. She'd understand.

But oh my! I do want to... Months ago when I heard that the 1960's show, That Girl, was coming out on dvd, I immediately thought, "Aha! What a perfect half-birthday gift for Naomi," ( my lover-of-all-things-1960's-and-70's daughter). So she came over this morning, I gave her the That Girl dvd's in a simple gift bag and she was delighted. She'll be able to use these dvd's to help her recognize, describe and price her tons of retro stuff which she sells on Ebay. And they will give her decorating ideas as well as smiles...

We chatted and smiled in the driveway in my quiet neighborhood and then she drove away on this hot, hot July 27th--yet another of her half-birthdays. She couldn't stay long because she had to get ready for her real job, a part of the real-life my little-girl-all-grown-up now leads across town, and in some ways, across the world from my own. We are very different... and yet much the same.

And no, again, I probably wasn't smart to start celebrating half-birthdays in the first place. And yet I'm glad I did. Childhood passes so very quickly and afterward, all you have left are the memories of the things you are so glad--now--that you went ahead and celebrated while you once had the chance.


***
P.S. These are pictures of the mantle I rearranged in my room upstairs, all because a friend of mine surprised me with the pink card (see photos) in Tuesday's mail--a tiny piece of inspiration! And the last picture reminded me of the way I see my town--as though through magic glasses which put a sort of magical, blurry sheen over all that I see... making those houses and trees and streets--and my life-- look quite different than the way others see them...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Come-Unto-Me Days


For me, this has been a lovely 'Come-Unto-Me Day.'

This morning I'd planned to run my errands early before full sun, to beat the heat, but then God went and changed my plans and great intentions.

He said, " No, instead, come unto Me... rest... heal... and listen..."

I love it when that happens.

So I dropped all my plans and I've been hanging-out with God upstairs in my pink room overlooking old houses all day... reading... lying back on my pillow.... watching tv.... listening to the silence... learning... and healing from little hurts (like those from Monday when I broke the news to my parents about Tom's plans to take that CA job....argh... you'd have thought they thought I was still 17...clueless... unable to hear from God... But let's not go there...).

... and mostly I have sensed during these hours that a whole new phase of my life is just up the road a little ways... and I am excited. Two years ago I heard that, too, and that new phase became this blog (and nothing has been the same sense!).

Of course, the temptation is to sit here and try to figure-out just exactly what God's new phase for me will be. But no, no, no... If I often pray about anything, I pray that I will stop trying to figure things out, and instead, will become a better listener to the One who has everything figured-out already. My poor old head appreciates listening's much more peaceful way, of that I am certain.

Come-Unto-Me Days... They are vital and I hope you have those, too... I hope you accept each invitation to a Come-Unto-Me Day fluttered down from Heaven. I come away from them refreshed, renewed and ready for upcoming adventures--even when I have absolutely no idea just what those adventures will be like.


***

"Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]" ... Matthew 11:28

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Just Playing Around The House Again

Because of Rose Hick's house in this issue of Home Companion, I was inspired to redo this shelf (below) in our Cozy Room.
It all looks much better in-person... I am still learning how to actually use our camera. And lighting...sigh... I am still learning how to get the lighting just right. Trial and Error--they are my teachers.
Trial and Error--nice guys... but a little slow.
I'm not a big collector of tea cups, but Tom and I both liked this one which we found in a junk shop this weekend. It had a sort of Craftsman look to it.

Here it is close-up.

Just thought I'd share a few more pictures with you... Oh! One more thing... Tom and I paid-off our car today, one year early. And that was a miracle, trust me... we feel blessed and God is good.

But then, He would still be good, even if we hadn't paid-off our car.


***
A very special thanks to those of you who commented after my last post... You made my second Blogiversary feel like one very, very special day... And I appreciate it so much.

Of Blog Anniversaries and Flying Sparks



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

As of today, I've lived and written in Blogland for two whole years. And what a fun neighborhood... with kindred spirits as your next door neighbors and the most creative people you ever met living just down the street... and keeping a bloglist like an address book... and visiting the people, the friends in that address book anytime you wish--dark, early morning or late, late at night. Rather like being able to call your favorite friend without bothering her no matter what the hour or day... and never finding her too busy for you.

Bliss, most of it.

And yet, for me, there has been that 'iron sharpening iron' thing. But then, it has followed me my entire life.

I pray to be used by God and well, truthfully? I'm not always thrilled with the way He uses me. Oh yes, lots of times I love what He does through me. But not always. Sometimes I've walked away feeling used--and not in a good way, either. And stepping away, I've recalled that, always, that's the chance I must take when I pray for God to use me.

For you see, God often uses me like the aforementioned iron. He'll give me something I'm totally at peace about doing, and then He'll have me do that thing, blithely, in front of people who have always done that thing a different way... people who believe there's only One Way To Do And See Everything... who try to shut God inside tiny boxes (but don't realize it)...people who think old, old traditions are the only safe, God-honored way to go...

...people who view the Bible and church and Life through just one pair of glasses and those who have God all figured-out, down to the time He eats His breakfast cereal each morning...

...and God has often sat me right in the middle of those kinds of people ...and oh... the fireworks at first! All those sparks just flying off that meeting of iron... lighting up the sky and often striking the skin with streaking, hot darts.

But then.... the times when something new gets created... when God gets released, freed from tiny boxes... and He is allowed to do a new thing---in both of us.

And that makes it worth all the sparks...

...and well, a special thanks is going out to each of you today who have stuck it out with me, with all that iron-sharpening going on and everything...

Monday, July 24, 2006

My Dream House-- In Pictures


(If Blogger was working correctly, you wouldn't have to click on the photos to enlarge... sigh...)

***

Remember those notebooks full of decorating magazine photos I told you I make? Well, I looked through some of them this morning and--all on paper--I put together part of my dream house.

When you see the pictures, some of you will be horrified.

And frankly, I won't blame you. I look at some peoples' dream houses and I am horrified, too.

But here's what shocked me most about the pictures I chose to represent my idea of a dream house: My present house looks so little like these pictures. Maybe my dressing table closet does, and our sunroom corner, our library (at night) and our kitchen--in some ways, they reflect what I love most...



I have my excuses, of course. Mostly I blame it on Tom. You know how he's been talking about this new job in CA? Well, every couple of years (or less) he starts talking about moving somewhere else. And about getting this house ready to sell... about making it so that other people will want to buy it.


And well, not many other people (beside me) would want to buy a house which looked like the one I've pictured in my head. A style I would probably call Modern Big and Scarey...


Nah... of course, it's my own fault. Many times I've talked myself out of buying what I loved because it cost a couple dollars more than I wanted to pay... or I just played it too safe with paint or fabric or my whole imagination. And as I think about all this, it comes to me that it's all too like a person looking backward and realizing they were afraid to live their 'real life' because of what other people might say. And, always, that is sad.




What's really wildly strange is that out of all the hundreds and hundreds of pictures I've placed in my notebooks the past 20 years, these that I picked today resemble the rooms I imagined I wanted while I was still a teenager. After all these many years it appears I still want the same kind of house decorated in the same kind of way that I imagined in my 17-year-old head.



Wow.



And so maybe you can better understand now why I want our next house not to be in a modern town... and not to be one we would own for just two years. I'd like a house we can really settle in.... create in.... and make a nest in for ourselves and for our bed-and-breakfast inn guests, too... (a long-held dream, that bed-and-breakfast...)



Without having to worry how the next buyers will like it.


***

More pictures...

This would be the back porch...


Our shed would be a guest house...

And would look like this inside...


Our house and yard would be fields away from other people...


I'd have a clothesline (but not an ocean...)

And I'd look like this on days I'd go to the beach....




***
P.S. Update... As I told Linda in my comment box: "As I'm walking around my house this morning I'm finding more corners than I thought I had which reflect the real me... I think what I'm really wanting to do now is spread out from just the corners to all the walls and the middle of the rooms, too!" ..............
............. (Lest you think I'm totally discontented with my own house. Alas, I'm not.)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Picnic Tales


Years ago, our then-church held a Sunday picnic in the park once each month of summer, beginning in May.

I remember the first picnic... Families shared tables, so as we walked along to secure a place to share, I stopped at the table of some friends-- I was enchanted! They'd covered the scarred, old table with a pretty sky-blue linen cloth and in the center sat a glass jar filled with water and blue, purple and white flowers. "Oh! How pretty!," I told my friends. "What a lovely setting."

And actually, I was mesmerized. Inspired. Truly. I'd been on many picnics, but never had I thought to bring a pretty cloth and a vase of flowers.

On the next picnic, I brought one of the white linen tablecloths Tom had found on the curb, a white vase, flowers and something different--my favorite dishes, instead of just plain ol' paper plates. It was fun. Always, I've enjoyed being creative and a little different. And this time people stopped and commented that our table looked like a picture from a decorating magazine--like a table set for a backyard party.

The following month, the creative table ideas had spread like a good disease... A handful of other families brought their nice things from home to share with their friends at their own picnic tables. I loved it. Our church picnics were beginning to look like genteel, Victorian parties--well, kind-of. In our own imaginations, at least. And I even scattered a few small Victorian-times photos (more curb finds) upon our table, too, for added decor and conversation starters.

But that's about the time I began hearing murmurs from some of the women. They stood in little groups near our table and smiling, said to each other,

"You start something like that and then everyone expects you to keep it up."

"Yeah, or top it," another woman said.

"Right. I'll just be bringing the usual paper plates and cups. Count on it..."

And then a bit later one woman (who never liked me much) stood in the food line very near our table and asked, "So, Debra... Does the food taste better on your real china dishes?"

The people around us got quiet and looked at me. I sat down my stainless steel fork, smiled my most beguiling smile and then looked up at the woman and said, "Why yes, Tricia, I believe it does."

Heh. She looked a little confused, started to say something, then moved along in the line.

Oh, I want to enjoy my life! I want to create and dream good things with the gifts God has given me... to inspire others... and to never become so jaded, so bored, so average-seeking that I walk only the easy paths and never smile from my eyes. Jesus died to give me more than that... and may I always be searching for that 'more,' even during something like a simple church picnic.


***
"...I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)." ... John 10:10

Our 'Cozy Room' In Progress


Well, finally, I am showing you pictures of our 'Cozy Room', the room we connected to our bedroom with French doors last September. This is where we spent much of the winter, especially when Tom was recuperating from his shoulder surgery.

We found the chintz-covered chair (1st photo) on the curb just as it is. The cover looked like new!
We keep our videos in this old hutch.

This old, old pie cabinet was found in the Nevada desert at an abandoned farm house and was in horrible shape--we had someone restore it for us. We keep our tv/dvd player, etc. inside it. The bottom of the pie cabinet has holes which were drilled into it so the air could circulate around the pies probably 80-100 years ago. Love that.

This is a tiny room--most of you probably have closets which are bigger than this--but we love this little space and spend much time here, even in summer, especially since the air-conditioner is just feet away in our bedroom.

Well, like I said... I'm still working on this room... but now you will know what I'm talking about when I mention our Cozy Room.


***
Click on photos to enlarge.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Ultimate Vintage Homemaking Book


Inside an ancient thrift shop 24 years ago, I found a dusty, amazing book called The Art of Homemaking by Daryl V. Hoole, a mom of 6. I still remember how excited I was to find such a funky old (1962) book--my very favorite kind at that time.

I mean, how can anyone not love a book with drawings like these?





This book is stuffed full of hints about 'getting it all done' around the house and keeping a sweet attitude through it all. (And no, it's not fiction. Heh.) But it is fun. And it is from the days when women at home were still respected and valued (a.k.a The Good Old Days). I never tire of reading her hints about cooking, washing dishes, decorating and doing the laundry, and too, looking at the Goofus and Gallant-type pen drawings. What a hoot! And it's one of those books which can, in a minute, inspire me right off the couch and over to my vacuum cleaner.

You can find The Art of Homemaking cheaply all over the Net. There are some at Amazon.com and Bookfinder.com ($4 and up) as well as probably any of your favorite online used book places. If you're a vintage-hearted homemaker who's unafraid of becoming the best little wife and mother around, well, you'll love this book. Guaranteed.

After The Lecture


I don't mind God's lectures too much. Not anymore, anyway. Not since I realized with all my heart that He loves me no matter what and the plans He makes for me are more amazing than ones I could ever, ever imagine for myself.

Yesterday Tom had lunch with a project manager about that job in, well, ok I'll say it-- Southern California. (I hope you Californians will forgive me for all the bad things I've said about your state. I lived there for 29 years, though, so it's not like I was talking about things I know nothing about.)

Anyway, Tom came back more excited than ever about taking this 2-year-long job 3,000 miles away from our present home.

Sigh. (And here's a note: after 11 days, neither of us can still think of one single good thing for me if I was to go to So. California. Not one.)

And well, last night I awoke at 2 a.m. and that's when the lecture from God began... I'm just thankful it was one of His more gentle lectures. Basically (to spare you all the details) He told me to let Tom do what he wants to do... and to stop playing games, attempting to get Tom to change his mind (you wives know about the games we can play, don't you?)... and to realize that this can be an exciting, life-changing time for both of us--and that's how I need to view this--with anticipation.

Well, there was more, but that's the brunt of it. And I had to smile, lying there with my head upon the pillow, for I realized why God often lectures us during morning's early hours--that's when we're too tired, too sleepy to kick and scream and fight back.

Is God smart, or what?

So I told Tom this morning that God had lectured me about accepting this, He'd told me to stop playing I'll-get-you-to-change-your-mind games and to just prepare for this with anticipation... to look forward to my time here watching the old home place...with Him. Days and days alone with Him.

Of course, Tom was certainly glad to hear that.

So although we're not 100% certain that Tom will take this job which has been offered to him--in August he'll fly out there for a closer look--we're going to act and prepare as though he will. Basically, the job is his if he wants it. And well, he wants it.

I realize some of you think I should go with him and years ago when I thought everyone should live One Certain Way (my way)--I'd have agreed with you. Trust me, if Tom insisted that I go with him, if he threw around the dreaded 's word'--submission--then I would. Whining and muttering, yes, but hey... I'd still go. But he's not so I'm not. Going, that is.

So there's where we are right now. We won't know for a few more weeks if he'll take this job for certain. But this is probably the last time I'll bring it up until we do know. And too, Tom has promised that after the 2 years, we'd then move to a place we both wanted to live--and that's something to look forward to, also.

But the good thing? Once I accepted what God wanted me to accept, He was then free to do His part, which was releasing joy and grace and anticipation about this whole new life He has in mind for us both. But my acceptance had to come first.


***
"A man's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?" ... Proverbs 20:24 .... (I love this verse because it assures me that half the time we don't even understand what God is doing in our own life, so who are we to judge the plans He makes for other people?)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Keeping Myself From Wandering Away


I am learning to not wander away from peace. Or, if I have wandered, to get myself right back to it.

I have cleaned my house in a spirit of peace... been thankful for the dirty dishes and furniture and floors which I'm scrubbing--thankful that we own nice things and are physically able to use what we own--

---and other times, I have muttered through the whole dirty experience... whined about the heel-marked floors, rolled my eyes at the sink which never seems to be empty of dishes... and yanked around the vacuum cleaner in a hurry to just get the whole vacuuming business over with.

I prefer cleaning in a spirit of peace. It feels better. It goes better. It is better.

I can drive around and take care of my errands with the strength and contentment and peace of God.... Or I can do it all on my own... and feel annoyed and frustrated by the wild traffic, the slow-poke crowds, long lines, and the uncomfortable weather.

I prefer running my errands in a spirit of peace... whispering to God... listening to God, even while I'm pushing my shopping cart or standing in line.

I could go on and on... I can write in this blog because I feel I must and I can make myself crazy-insane by sweating over every sentence.... Or I can write here in a spirit of peace... relying on God's ideas, His timing, His wisdom way, way more than anything I can squeeze out of my own tired head.

I prefer writing in this blog in a spirit of peace...

I've come to crave peace so much, that it hits me--whack!-- when it's gone. So I backtrack... step backward to the place I last knew peace... and pick it up again, doing whatever it takes to hold onto it so I won't drop it along the way. Even if it means I must change my way of thinking, doing and speaking or apologize or forgive or let go of an offence.

That's how much I crave peace. To me, it's worth whatever it takes to spend most of my hours walking in peace... walking beside the One who can change an ordinary errand into something holy... relaxing... and memorable.

***
P.S. After viewing the wonderful house of ice cream colors I shared with you here, I ran upstairs and rearranged two of my hutches.... Here are some pictures:



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I love it when I'm so inspired by someone's home photos--in a blog or magazine or wherever--that I can't help but jump up and create something new or different!