Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Solving a Mystery (Or: Why I Don't Write a Book)




Okay. For years some of you have asked why I don't just write a devotional book and have it published. Something the whole world can grasp in its hands.

I'll try to explain.

Seven years ago while I strolled along our tree-lined and huge-old-house-lined streets one morning, I thought, "It's becoming hard to find a morning devotional book which is fun, interesting and always a joy to read." This was before I could ask people online (like you) to recommend something. I searched Christian book stores and yawned through shelves of the same types of books I'd seen forever. 

Then just when I gave-up ,I found Sarah Ban Breathnach's book, Simple Abundance, by way of Oprah's show. I even drove wildly to the nearest shop that afternoon and bought a new copy (I never do that) and devoured that book over the next three days. Finally I'd discovered something very much like what my mind had imagined--a book of surprises for any day of the year!

Anyway. Years later I began dreaming of creating my own devotional book. I was actually taking another walk when 'As I See It' came to me.

I began writing in a gratitude journal over at Oprah's website. It seemed a perfect way to share with the public this devotional book from my head.

Huh. It was a struggle. Torture. I'd practically sweat drops of blood all over this computer keyboard trying to write meaningful, fun, interesting stuff. And after a few weeks, I gave-up.

Fast-forward three years (or so) and along came blogging. I read a couple blogs, thought I might try it, but nearly quit before I even began. I remember emailing a friend and asking, "Why should I write about my life? Who would want to read about that?" The whole idea felt narcissistic to me. 

But then I just took the plunge. And two-and-a-half years later here I am.

There is no struggle when I write in this blog. No pain or blood-sprinkled keyboard. 

In fact, if I even begin to feel frustration, immediately this comes to my mind: I must be writing this post on my own, from my head--without the help of God or Grace. And that's when I'll arise from this chair and mop the kitchen floor, or something.

So to sum this up, that is why I'm currently not writing a devotional book. Grace just isn't nudging me to do write that book--not yet--and the struggle would be too real without her. 

Yet if God and Grace ever start nudging me to write a devotional book?  I'll scribble away in that writing flow which will they'll sprinkle all over me to make the whole process a delight. Undoubtedly.

And you will be the first to know about it. I promise. Your encouragement will have played a part in a future book so I'll owe that to you. That, and much more.


***

To everything there is a season... A time to read books... write books... and a time to just watch Life and take notes.


******

Monday, February 26, 2007

My Frozen World


This morning looks like this at my house. Again. Still.

And you wonder why Tom and I are dreaming of moving?  ツ

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Mornings After You Die




Silly me, I think I forgot to tell you that I'm dying--

--to Self, that is. A slow, lingering death, actually.

Yep, I've been dying since 1994, the year I finally began allowing God to kill/burn whole trash piles inside me. You know, those ugly, lopsided stacks of believing I know best and speaking without thinking first. Of being the grandest procrastinator upon Earth and laziness, fearfulness, shyness, rebellion, discontentment and unforgiveness. 

You know, all that stuff which holds us down (and back) and makes God look bad if we're going around telling everyone we represent Him.

But oh, the mornings after you die! It's as though you awaken in Heaven on Earth and this world appears more God-made than concocted by man. Almost as though you've got this Garden of Eden thing going in the middle of a war zone.

You have time to gaze up at the sky and it appears bluer and there are more trees around than you remember. Your husband has become the best man on Earth and it's as though you glimpse your children's very hearts and see--not the mischief they do--but their good intentions, instead.

You no longer care about fame, wanting everyone to know your name. You feel tipsy with Gratitude and gladly content with your house, your job and your possessions.

Train horns sound like trumpets and food tastes better and a steaming cup of coffee or tea appears grander than stumbling upon a chest of treasure.

And you have good days even on sunless, cloudy ones and you no longer need music before you can dance. And the best of everything is you realize with a joyful start, "As long as God is with me, I'll be fine." And never have you felt so free.

I believe it was Tozer who said, "It is never fun to die." And that is true.

But oh, those mornings after! They are worth every death pain, each good-bye to the fragile, up-and-down world your stubbornness had created.

Trust me, I know.


***

This post came to mind while I reread David Grayson's Adventures In Contentment this morning. His books are remarkable, peace-lending, and I hope you have read them. My favorites are Adventures in Friendship, Adventures in Understanding and The Friendly Road.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Nancy, My Neighbor




I don't believe I've ever told you about my next door neighbor, Nancy.

 When we first moved-in 14 years ago, she told me all about Mr. and Mrs. Murphy who'd built our house in 1935 and through the years she's kept me up-to-date on our neighborhood. She's the kind of neighbor a patrolman told us was helpful to have--Nancy's a watcher at her windows and no foreboding stranger would dare lurk around our windows with her at the helm.

Anyway, Nancy is in her early 80's (I believe) and she's lived in her paint-flaking house for over 40 years. She and her husband raised three children there, one still living at home at around 45 years of age (I know, I know.). Nancy's sweet husband passed away back in 2000--I remember because it happened while we were having our house sided and Nancy's son finally painted their peeling house a rather fluorescent blue, but his father saw it only in photos because by then he was laying in a hospital. 

I often mow Nancy's lawn for her because her son doesn't mind a jungle-like lawn. She says he's not a yard person.

Nancy amazes me because last autumn she and I stood in front of her house, talking for a half-hour (we'd not chatted in perhaps a year, yes--tsk, tsk) and while Nancy told her stories, my back began hurting as it does when I stand long in place. But Nancy seemed fine. She is 30+ years older than I am and probably could've chatted another hour about her grandkids, adult children and our neighbors.

And when I finally did take-off on my walk, I left inspired by this elderly woman's interest and involvement in Life--and by her ability to stand longer than I can!

But anyway, this will make you smile:

While out shoveling snow again today, I watched Nancy in her car, back out of her driveway. And then she did what she always does while pulling the car forward and into the street: She made the sign of the cross across her forehead and chest so she'll arrive safely wherever she travels.

I love that. And I love having a neighbor like Nancy.



******

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Something Lite...


Okay. Since it's been a tad annoying around my house lately, namely, we have a mouse living in our Cozy Room (inside my chair!) and I accidentally shattered our large serving dish, the one which was a wedding gift 28 years ago and our daughter's boyfriend is very sick(flu) and I broke a fingernail, which made my finger bleed.... I'll just show you this fun book from 1954 because it's been awhile since I posted something old-fashioned. 

Click on photos to enlarge so you can read this vital information. heh.




Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Having Fun Instead of Fights




For years I nagged Tom about closing the closet door before he'd leave for work. It wasn't asking too much for him to remove his clothes,then shut the door, right? 

Yet always, he'd drive blissfully away (well...) and I'd walk into the bedroom, spy the opened closet door and start fuming. (And ok, I slammed it once. Or twice.)

Then there were the times I went ballistic when Tom would consistently arrive home late from running errands (hours late) or when the visa bill would arrive and I'd see some enormous (huge!) charge on it which he'd made without telling me.

And he's lectured me over hours I spend on the computer, for water left on the bathroom floor (he's pretty patient, but water problems make him nuts) and he's walked past me while I'm painting walls and nagged me about being careful.

In 28 years, a couple can nag each other a whole lot. I know.

But something which I've noticed? No matter what our subject of the day, each time we nag one another, two things are always involved. Fear and control.

Seriously. Think about it. With the closet door, I wanted to control Tom into closing it because I had this fear of our room not looking nice with it open. After all, we might have company any second (riiight), they might tour our room--and if they did--they'd be horrified to see the inside of our closet. And well, it scared me that Tom appeared determined to not do this one little thing I asked of him.

When Tom would come home late? I'd go wild because it frustrated me that I couldn't make him call me. I'd pace around the house, picturing him lying inside our wrecked car (I'd plan his funeral, nearly)--not even realizing, myself, that this was a test for me as to whether I trusted God to protect Tom--or not. 

And clueless me was failing that test.

Regarding the bathroom floor, Tom's afraid the water will ruin the floors/walls,  that he'll slip and so my lack of realizing that, frustrated him. If I'm on the computer when he wants on (and visa versa) he's afraid he won't be able to change our stocks around in time, etc., (whereas I'm afraid I'll miss something exciting here in Blogland).

The things we argue about always LOOK like one thing, but they are nearly always about two things--fear and control. (Your homework is to look at your own marital spats and pick out your own fear and control issues in each one.)  ツ

But here is what I'm finding. The more control I desire God to have of myself, the less I nag Tom. The less I nag Tom? The more often I see him--on his own--do those tasks I'd nagged him about over years.

Really, I can hardly believe it! 

Not only does he close the closet door now, but he picks up his clothes, places his dishes inside the sink, doesn't spend huge amounts of money behind my back and calls me even if he's going to be 10 minutes late (before I even notice he's late).

But I can hear you now."Oh, I tried that with my spouse, but it didn't work." Yeah, and years ago I would have said that too. I'd stop nagging Tom for a whole two weeks, nothing would change, and then I'd rev-up the old nagging machine again.

But the change came in Tom only after a change came in meA heart change. 

When I finally became sick of my ways and my plans, that's when I sought to know God's ways and His plans. And then it was like pop! pop! pop! One change after another happened in both of us.

And how wonderful to put away all the games and plans of manipulation and instead, watch real, true joy begin.


******

Saturday, February 17, 2007

While It Is Yet Today...


Last year I posted how, 20 pounds ago, I should have never complained about how much I weighed, but rather, I should have gone around singing gratefully because I didn't weigh more. 

I mean, what was I thinking? Now I keep trying to get back down to that weight which I thought was heavy years ago.

Sigh.

So carrying that thinking a bit farther, these are my thoughts lately:

Today my sweet, loyal husband and I are together and may I treasure each moment with him while I still can.

Today we live just a couple miles from our daughter and may we appreciate that nearness, for we'll not always live in this town.

Today our two cats are ten years old and (relatively) healthy and may I take the time to play with them on these sunny winter afternoons.

Today I can still race up and down our stairs, almost like a woman in her 20's. I still shovel snow, take long walks and ride a bicycle--may I celebrate those things, for they may not always be so.

Today my husband and I live independently, we have good friends. Our parents and siblings are still living. We own a nice home, drive a good car and enjoy freedoms because we are Americans.

Any of those may vanish in a moment. 

So this day? May I appreciate these great truths, never gazing back, wishing I'd not walked through life with my eyes upon that which did not matter.


***

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts... and be thankful." Colossians 3:15

Friday, February 16, 2007

Nice? Or Obedient?




God led you all the way... to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands...Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you." Deuteronomy 8:2,5

*****

Lately you'd find me upstairs in my Dream Room watching the second and third seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. And you may be amused, but I'm learning much while watching them.

Wow. That Mary sure was Nice (with a capital N). So Nice to everybody, in fact, her Niceness leads her from one sticky, uncomfortable place to another, giving the writers fodder for dozens of funny episodes as we watch Mary squirm her way out of messes, live in frustration and lie so not to hurt others feelings.

All for the sake of appearing Nice. To everybody in her tv world.

Watching Mary in the middle of her Because-I-Couldn't-Say-No messes, well, is funny, the core of classic tv, but it's become a great visual lesson for me, as well.

Years ago on Oprah, the question was asked, "Does being nice mean letting everyone treat you like a doormat?" I never forgot that show. (By the way, the consensus was 'no.')

Does God want me to be nice? To me, I think He'd prefer that I be obedient. To Him.

And sometimes that means saying no to others. No, really, even if I'm not always certain as to why. Sometimes God is more concerned that I obey the "No, not this time," which I'm hearing in my heart. He might just need to be reassured that He truly comes first with me--instead of people.

And sometimes He wants to see if I can love Him enough to face other people being mad at me. If I can bravely walk with Him while others around me don't understand my choices. Whether He can use me to (unknowingly) test others' hearts--and be ok with that. (I pray, "Use me Lord!" but what about the times He does and I actually feel used?)

There is that, you know. 

Being nice, being kind is good and is usually the order of the day. But also true? One-hundred percent obedience to God just may, occasionally lead me in ways people won't understand--and can I be ok with that?

Thank-goodness, God knows exactly what He's doing. What's left for me? To long to follow Him, His minute-by-minute ways. If I do, I'll always find myself at peace with my decisions, even if others sometimes walk away wondering just what the heck is going on. 

Why wasn't I the nice girl they'd supposed I was?


***


"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galations 1:10

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day!


So it's my second-most favorite day of the year and there I was in our back entryway slinging on my long back wool coat over my nightgown and robe at 5:30 a.m. 

And while Tom ate his oatmeal in the Cozy Room, watching snowy scenes on local news, I slipped on my gloves and a knitted hat and burst out into the 10 degree F. darkness and shoveled two long lines through 8 inches of heavy snow so Tom could get out of the driveway and drive down snowy roads to work.

And you'd think I'd dread shoveling snow, the kind which comes down wet and settles like concrete, but I don't. Well, not a ton. During winter I cannot take my daily walks so shoveling is amazing exercise and I would resemble a balloon each winter without it). 

Besides, I'd rather be the shoveler because Tom has that bum leg and slips in snow, but more, he's the bread-winner, the bringer-home of money, and I am his partner. I keep things on the homefront calm and clean. That is my job, one of my parts in this partnership.

Soon I removed my winter paraphernalia, collapsed in my chair next to Tom's in the Cozy Room and saw all the school cancellations on the news. If there's a single school open today in our half of New York, I'm  unaware of it. They are all closed.

And at first I imagined hearing celebratory cheers of children, but then I thought, oh no! It's Valentine's Day. What about all the classroom parties? And I could only hope that they were held yesterday instead--they certainly had warnings--there's been so much hype about this snowstorm for days. 

But still it's Valentine's Day and I have that heart glow, even though Tom, an hour ago, drove to work and will be gone for 12 hours. 

Still the warmth and delight are here while I think about all the Valentines I mailed to friends, more than I'd ever mailed before and I'll think about those smiles my cards will bring. I'll recall, too, how Naomi called at 7:00 this morning to ask if I wanted help shoveling snow. Also? All of you who are never far from me.

I'll shovel snow all day and drink my pretend coffee and be happy and feel loved because God is here and He's given me this 28-year-long partnership with my husband, one which grows better and closer as the years sail by.

Oh my. They sail by so very fast, indeed. 




***

Happy Valentine's Day to all my friends who make me smile and who drink coffee or tea and chat with me in Blogland!


******

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

How Many Remotes Does It Take To Watch TV?


While I'm waiting for the laundry to finish spinning (and for this next huge snowstorm to strike) I thought I'd tell you something.

Currently, for Tom and I to watch tv, it takes using 5 tv remote controls.

Five. (Or is it 6?)

Now, I'm not even certain I can explain just why that is, but as of a month ago, he put together this set-up in our Cozy Room using a flat-screen computer monitor and a little tower thing beside it, then some kind of machine below those (a tuner?) and the dvd player beneath those and the vcr beneath that and I think there's another machine below that. I'm not sure. I am the most un-technically minded person you'll ever meet.

So, to avoid spending real money on a flat screen tv and cable or satellite (etc., etc.) we are now required to use 5 (6?) tv remotes just to watch a tv show. Or a movie on dvd or video. (Try keeping track of--and not losing--6 remote controls!)

Man, I need a college degree in computers--otherwise I may never be able to watch LOST again. Or 24. Or anything.

You should see me. After a month, I still don't get it. I still have no clue, really, what I'm doing. No, I just grab a remote and press buttons until something happens which looks right. And if nothing right or good happens, then I grab the next remote, then next one and the -- 

I just sort of feel my way through, like a ship out amongst a few icebergs.

The first morning Tom went to work and left the whole tv set-up on, I panicked. I told myself, "Oh no! I'll have to leave all those machines on all day long. I can't remember how to turn them off!"

Oh well. Like I told Tom the other night, if there's one good thing about this set-up where you can never just mindlessly push a few remote buttons, it's that it could very well keep our brains from atrophying. 

And at our age, that's a good thing.



******

Always Here, Always With The Right Words


It's early morning and I'm excited.

 Oh, not because there will be any party or country adventure or phone calls from old friends (well, not that I'm aware of).

Nor do I have planned any neighborhood walks (too cold) or shopping trips (no car--Tom took it to work) or anything exciting arriving in the mail (well, perhaps a Valentine or two).

No, it's a Normal Day and I love Normal Days--now. Years past, I thought I needed more adventure, more appreciation, more fanfare, but what I really needed was more of God. More closeness, more times of listening, more awareness of His presence during even the most mundane tasks around my house (making them mundane no longer).

I remember that strong need to feel appreciated and how it drove me to almost obsession. I tried to collect friends who'd appreciate me and attempting to be special and talented in the eyes of people at church. Or by trying to be the most excellent homemaker, wife and mother on Planet Earth.

Well, it didn't work. I mean, the harder I tried to suck appreciation from people, the more desperate I felt--and the more unappreciated, actually.

Then God came along. I mean, I was already a Christian, but it was like He rose from a chair in some back room of my heart where I'd placed Him and He asked, "Have you had enough of doing things your way?" 

And well, I was so exhausted and empty and bummed-out from all my get-appreciation-schemes that I finally said, "Yes."

And only when I stopped looking to people to give me what only God could, did Life actually feel great on Normal Days. Why? Because God became my encourager--He was always around my house. He never left on vacation to Hawaii or went camping or had company, so couldn't spend time with me. He never got exasperated with me, even when I made mistakes.

And over time and years --although I still value encouragement from others-- the encouragement and friendship I value (and need most) is that which comes from God, this Friend who knows exactly what I need and is never too busy for to help.

So like I said, I'm excited about this Normal Day!


***

John 15:15
"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."

Monday, February 12, 2007

High School Meme


Okay, remember how I said I'd slowly share the Six Weird Things About Me meme because you probably couldn't handle it all at once? Well, this meme (stolen from Judy) will be the third weird thing about me (you'll see what I mean. Trust me.)

Year of graduation: 1977

1. Who was you best friend?

My wild and crazy friend, Tara A., who at that time went by Tammy. We were juniors together and she helped shake some of my fraidy-cat-like qualities from me, for which, all these 31 years later, I am still grateful.

2. What sports did you play?

(My first reaction to that question was, "Are you kidding? Me?") But then I remembered, in my senior year, I was a gymnast. I even won a gold medal, but only because a tiny school competed against our tiny school. A blessing, that day.

3. What kind of car did you drive?

Ha! I didn't get my driver's license until I was 24 (being the fraidy cat I mentioned above). Tammy, my wild and crazy friend (see #1) had just gotten her license, so I rode along with her while she practiced driving her stick-shift VW on the hills of Auburn, CA (scary times! But oh so fun.)

4. It's Friday night, where were you?

Hmmm. Most likely home reading a book or out with the church youth group at a fun event.

5. Were you a party animal?

Hahahahahahahahaha.

6. Where you in the "In Crowd"?

In the back, hiding.

7. Ever skip school?

Are you kidding? Miss Boring Goody Two Shoes?

8. Ever smoke?

Uh, no.

9. Were you a nerd?

Not even.

10. Did you get suspended/expelled?

(See #7)

11. Can you sing the alma mater song?

Well, I attended three high schools (count em' three!), but I don't recall any of them having an actual alma mater song. I can still recall a few cheers, though.

12. Who was your favorite teacher?

Mr. Peckham and Mr. Clarke (both who, these decades years later, I still write to occasionally.)

13. Favorite Class

English. Always, at any school, any year.

14. What was your school's full name?

Like I said, I went to three. Live Oak High School. Placer High School. Chester High School.

15. School Mascot?

Acorns. Hillmen. Volcanoes.

16. Did you go to the Prom?

Somehow I managed to get through high school without attending a single dance (I know, I know.). Though once, Tammy and I went to the cast party for The Music Man (in which we were cast as townspeople-- good times!) and there was dancing there. But we only stood and watched a few moments.

17. If you could go back and do it over, would you?

Oh my, noooo. I so love being an adult a million times more. The only way I'd even consider going back? If I could take my 47-year-old wisdom along with me. Then maybe I'd consider it. Maybe.

18. What do you remember most about graduation?

The way we all insisted that the ceremony be held outside in the football field-- and then how we watched the lightning that night off in the distance (fortunately, it never did rain). Oh, and how I wished I could be a senior a while longer. My senior year was my favorite.

19. Favorite memory of your senior year?

Being a teacher's aide to Mr. Clarke (my math teacher), and winning that gold medal I mentioned above.

20. Were you ever posted on the senior wall?

Honor roll-wise, yes. Popularity-wise, no.

21. Did you have a job your senior year?

Just lots of babysitting. Lots. Of. Babysitting.

22. Who did you date?

My senior year? No one, though I had a long-distance romance which began the summer before that and ended early in my senior year. His initials were S.M. I was too shy and too late in coming to that school my senior year. My freshman and sophomore years I had a boyfriend, initials T. R..

23. Where did you go most often for lunch?

Home, at least during my senior year. We lived only two blocks away. Other years it was always the cafeteria or, until Tammy rescued me, I did spend the first two weeks of my junior year eating alone on a (beautiful) hillside behind the school buildings overlooking the town. But soonish, Tammy changed all that--she was the leader of her crowd and she (literally) pulled me to their table, where I loved sitting for the remainder of the year.

24. Have you gained weight since then?

Uh, thirty years later? Hasn't everyone?!

25. What did you do after graduation?

I worked at my first real job as the night-time, closing janitor for the A&W restaurant just a few blocks from my home. I worked alone and actually used to walk home by myself after midnight (in a tiny town--it was safe). Ah, those were the days.

But like I said--I prefer my adult days!


******

Bet You Can't Guess...


So back in the days when I used to be into crafting big-time, I made this faux turquoise necklace (which looks more turquoise-like in real-life and not as faded. Click to enlarge.). I will give you three-and-a-half seconds to guess what the turquoise-like-stuff really is, so let's count:

One potato.
Two potato.
Three potato.
Four.

Give up? They are pieces of potato! (Now, you can't say I didn't even give you a clue, because I did!)

Yes, I saw this idea on a craft show back in the old days when we used to have cable tv. You just cut up a potato and skewer each piece with a toothpick. Let it totally dry a few days and then paint with turquoise paint and a little black paint, too, and then string on clear fishing line (or the equivalent).

And no.... ten years later these are still not the least bit moldy nor do they smell funny.

(I just know you are asking.)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Twenty Degrees!


You know it's been cold when the morning tv weather man says you'll have a high of 20 degrees F. (and sun!) and you spin around your kitchen, happy-dancing and walking around for hours with a song in your heart, feeling like Spring will come flying down the street, spreading warm, enchantment dust, anyday now.

May such simple things always make me happy...

As for the continuing saga of whether we'll move to Virginia, or not, Tom is being told the longer he can wait, the better things will be with the job there--we'll need to wait one more month before we hear more details. Which is more than fine with me since we're only just now glimpsing a light at the end of the sorting-through-our-junk tunnel. And there's still all the painting I will need to do before we put the house on the market, as well as all the repairs, plus, having the carpet cleaned and lining-up a real estate office and oh my... Yes, the more time we're given, the better things will certainly be at this end as well.

Tom and I are finding the more we declutter--the more we take things to Salvation Army and view them as our tiny gifts to the world--the better and freer we feel. We should have done this eons ago and kept at it all along. Oh well, live and learn.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Speaking of Valentines' Day (Yes, Again...)


Today I felt ten-years-old.

There I was with my first batch of Valentines, complete with their pink polka-dot envelopes spread all over. I sat there with paper doilies and stickers and penned little messages on the backs of the cards then used my heart-shaped punch to make confetti from some Valentine bags I bought years ago, all of this while classical music played, the cats napped on the bed behind me, and the sun shone and I felt like 10 and in the fourth grade all over again.

You know, there was that feeling that you're making little surprises for your friends, ones which will bring smiles to their faces and hearts, as well as to your own face and heart, too, when the big day arrives.

I love Valentines' Day. Am I bold enough to tell you it's my favorite holiday? (I guess I am, since I did just tell you.)

I feel sorry for the people who hate that day. 

Truly, they miss out on this delightful feeling of being a rampantly-creative child, of sharing a bit of yourself with others just because you want to. I feel bad for those who hate Valentines' Day because they know their husband or boyfriend will not give them no gifts or cards due to being clueless or forgetful or out of rebellion of being made to show ones love on February 14th.

Does Tom always remember to do something for me each Valentines' Day? Nope. It's  hit-or-miss thing with him. So am I dreading and hating the thought of next Wednesday? Are you kidding? 

The foundation of our marriage is so not built on whether Tom gives me a card, or not. (Generally you don't stay married 28 years if it is.) No actually, I'm excited that February 14th is next week, thrilled that, for this pretty red-and-pink-heart holiday, I can send cute little cards with pink, Love-stamped envelopes through the mail and not be thought weird or childish or lame.

And for those who say they hate Valentines' Day for the sake of their friends or co-workers who are single or widowed or just alone, well, I would say--do something about it

Be the first to shower those people love on the one day they previously dreaded. Give them a card,candy or flowers and let this become, instead, a day they'll remember because you took the time to make it special. Because you cared enough to show others they are not alone at all.



******

Magic Everywhere


Yesterday morning while shopping at our town's 'new' (2 years old) supermarket, I had serendipity moments. 

Usually music wafts through the aisles, but none played yesterday and the air felt silent (perhaps the sound system froze--we are so cold here lately!).

So anyway, there I was in the dairy section when a worker in the next aisle began whistling, loudly, for all to hear. What did he whistle? The theme song from Leave It To Beaver.

I loved it. There I was, Mrs.-Cleaver-Wanna-Be, pushing my cart down the aisle to that jaunty Leave It To Beaver tune. And giggling.

But there was more! After that, he whistled (very well, with an echo-ey sound) the theme song from the old, I Dream of Jeannie tv series, followed by the song from My Three Sons.

Oh. My. Goodness. 

Perfection, and just right for me, Mrs. Retro Homemaker on that frigid morning of sub-zero wind temperatures. Later I even made walked out to my car still feeling warmed by the magic of the whistling on a regular ol' Tuesday morning.

I know someone in our town who tries never to shop at that supermarket because each time, something happens which leaves her feeling all sour and hating our store. She walks in expecting something to go wrong and--always--it does. (Big surprise.)

But when I go there? I step through the doors expecting to be surprised by a delight. 

Such as last week: The checker  scanned all my groceries, placed them in bags, then she brought out the sales' flyer from hidden depths beneath, tore out the $5 off $50 worth of groceries coupon, and saved me $5 by scanning it. With wide eyes I thanked her (I hadn't looked at that sales flyer at home. Hadn't spied the coupon.) and she simply said, "I don't do that for just anyone."

Now, do I know her from outside the store? No. Have we ever had a meaningful conversation inside the store? Nope. I just sometimes use her check-out lane when I shop there and try always to smile. Occasionally we chat a little, though truthfully, she kinda intimidates me because she often appears a tad grouchy. But there you go. Lesson learned. Stop judging people, Debra, by the way they appear!

Also? Keep expecting miracles and blessings wherever you go, even on the most normal of frigid winter mornings.



******

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"What Is That To You?"



"Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them... When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?"

Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." John 21: 20-22


***

Now there's a couple verses which will set you free!

I mean, for ages I let myself feel discouraged, intimidated when I'd listen to my Christian friends tell about their latest Christian exploits, good deeds and ministries. You know, how they read hours of the Bible, prayed each day, practically lived at church and how their kids were 'on fire', becoming little ministers.

I'd have to (nearly) hold my head up with my hands to keep it from drooping in discouragement, intimidation or guilt. And I'd walk away with this weighty "I-just-can't-keep-up-with-the-big-kids' feeling draped over me like a curtain.

But how wonderful to really get--once and for all--Jesus' marvelous words: "...what is that to you? You must follow me." Wow! 

Took me long enough to realize we all have different callings, gifts, talents and ministries--and a unique friendship with God. We each have different roads to take because we're meant to help different people, so all needs will be met (ideally). 

Not all people will respond to every testimony, every life journey.

How refreshing to realize what matters is that I obey God, not that I keep up with anyone. Not that I arrive in Heaven with the same testimony, the same story, my Christian friends had. 

And a journey taken in freedom? It's unforgettable. Every day is a joy.

Now.


***

"... but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." 2 Corinthians 10:12


"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you..." 1 Thessalonians 4:11

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The 'Jesus Is Only The Bible' School




"...and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." ... Matthew 28:20


***

So there I was strolling around Blogland again, this time via the Share The Love Blog Award nominations. How amazing to have so many terrific blogs all on one page! 

And yet? It's like I stepped into the yard of a school, a way of thinking, where I was enrolled years ago. And there in the desks were those folks who believe that Jesus is a book. Just a bookThe Bible, that is. 

Oh dear.

And (they say) the only way to get to know Jesus (and hear from Him) is to read in the Bible what He said. Try getting to know Jesus or hear from Him any other way, and oh my! You're on dangerous, shaky, crazy-ground.

Well, let it be known, I un-enrolled from that school eons ago. This recent walk in Blogland gave me a quick peek in windows and then, with relief, I skipped away.

Ok, now--of course--I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, the book of all books! (In case you began hyper-ventilating, or anything.)

But I also believe Jesus is "lo, here with you (me) always..." 
I believe He's here by way of His amazing Holy Spirit and that He's my bridegroom and I am His bride. 
And where you have a bride and bridegroom, well, you have passion. And laughter, joy, communion, private times, fellowship, secrets, warm silences, friendship, conversations--
And more. So much more.

I might take my Bible along with me when I sit in a coffee shop downtown, but I also take Jesus with me -- and I sit with Him there at the table. 

Or at the movie theater, supermarket or driving our streets --or the best--when I'm home alone. Truly, because of Jesus I'm never alone-alone. 

I love that He's with me always and absolutely every place I am.

I'm glad I've changed schools because ever since? I've known a peace which passes understanding and a Friend like none other in all the land. And He and I have incredible times--together---getting to know each other better, day by day. Everywhere.


***

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me..." ... John 10:27

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things..." ... John 14:26

"The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." ... Revelation 22:17

So You're Looking For Old Movies?


Nancy R. commented that she'd watched the old movie, I'll Be Seeing You, upon my recommendation and loved it. I'm so glad! She asked for other 1940's movies which I enjoy so here is a list of the ones I own and nearly have memorized (though my tv-recorded vhs tape of Bachelor Mother got erased....waaaa....). Oh, and some of these are from the 1930's.

And of course, there are other old wonderful movies out there, but these are the ones I watch over and over and over...

Bachelor Mother
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
The Enchanted Cottage
The Thin Man films
Sunset Boulevard
The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer
His Girl Friday
I'll Be Seeing You
Father of the Bride
Father's Little Dividend
Harvey

Laura
Suspicion
The Lost Weekend
The Snake Pit

The Secret Garden (with Margaret O'Brien)
The Blondie films
The Ma and Pa Kettle films
It Happened One Night
It's A Wonderful Life
Miracle on 34th Street
Our Vines Have Tender Grapes
Hold Back The Dawn


***

Do you have a couple others from this era which you'd like to recommend?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Prayed Any Whiney Prayers Lately?


Much of my life, I've asked God for more patience with Whiners.

I began something new with Naomi when she three-years-old. If she came to me in the kitchen whining for a sandwich or a treat, I'd tell her, "Oh, I'm sorry, Honey. You whined when you asked that so you'll need to try again in five minutes." (Which would receive varied reactions, depending upon the day, her mood or frame of mind.)

I repeated the same words if she whined for cereal or snacks at the supermarket or if she came whining to me at home because a friend was being unfair or if she'd become frustrated trying to force a toy or one of her inventions to work. Always I'd quip, come back in five minutes and try again with your calm voice.

Of course, some of you probably think that was terrible of me. I know how we as parents can become critical of one another's parenting choices (I've been around that block).

But you know? It worked. 

And within a relatively short time, also. Naomi became nearly whine-free by age 5, with a few relapses, of course (being human and all, especially after spending time with certain friends who she only saw once a year, friends who somehow pressed all her whine buttons. But don't we all have people like that in our lives?)

But I digress.

Naomi became so adept at calmly asking for things--I had to watch that I didn't allow her to talk me into everything crazy thing she wanted. Man, she became good asking sweetly and using logic, as well. A real dynamic little saleswoman by age 8.  ツ

But anyway, this morning I wondered if maybe God doesn't use that 'come back again when you're through whining' approach. Perhaps when we come to Him whining about how Life isn't fair or how prayer doesn't appear to work in our case or complaining about the friend who said something behind our back... or how we just cannot last another day unless---

--well, maybe God replies with, "How about if you try asking me again in a few minutes when you can ask in faith? When you can believe I know what's best for you? When you're ready to hear where you are messing up, rather than blaming every single person in your life?"

"How about if you come back in a few minutes, actually believing I'll answer your prayers?" 

Come to think of it, this is all sounding very familiar to me.  γ‚·


******


Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Blogging Amongst Real People


For the first time, I watched 84 Charing Cross Road and oh! Loved and learned from it and even felt a little freer afterward. Truly.

In case you haven't a clue about 84 Charing Cross Road, it was a true story, one which took place over 20 years (1949 - 1970). Letters were exchanged between workers at a London book shop (the coziest, most perfect one, ever) and the New York author, Helene Hanff. How they all became parts of each others' lives through the written word and gifts air-mailed over the ocean. These people became close friends, not in-person, but through an exchange of words of compassion, gratitude, a love of books, humor and a need to connect with other living, like-minded souls.

It reminded me of this thing we do. This blogging thing.

It's funny the newspaper articles and tv reports about blogging which blast us bloggers. Downright smirking at us from smug smiles, they say that, in Real Life, we are lonely souls who have settled for a second-best way of communicating with others. Others who (get this)are not even Real People so can never be real friends. 

There's more, but I don't wish to type more of it into my blog.

So. If I am not communicating with Real People, then with whom am I communicating? Unreal People? Half-way Real People? Outer Space People?

Since I was 13, I've been a letter-writer. My family moved from town to town, always leaving good friends behind. So--what? Because I chose to write letters to my friends after arriving in my new town, did these people suddenly become Unreal? Was I under a delusion that these folks had, when I left, suddenly entered a sort of misty Unreal World just because they no longer lived next door to me? 

All human beings who sit at a computer keyboard are Real People, be they tellers of tales or truth. 

Even if they sit three-thousand miles away from me, still they have hearts, souls, minds. Still they are Real. I am so not the center of the Universe whereas the closer you stand to me, the more real you are--stand farther away and you are but a hazy, filmy figure.

Yet isn't that what these blog-spoilers are proclaiming? Aren't they saying that real, heart-felt communication happens only in-person, but never through the written word? (And of course, that conjures up pictures of dusty love letters tied with ribbon up in attics and those which were gathered into books. Well, what about those?)

And what I've discovered since age 13 while letter writing? Many people share who they really are and feel only when they write, not while someone stares at them in-person. They feel more free to express themselves over the written word (and well, you can add me to that list). Er hem.

Maybe the folks writing that we bloggers are delusional and the controllers, those who would be king. Haters of change. Naysayers. Perhaps they're like those teachers in high school who told us, "While in MY class, things will be done MY way only." (Their narrow, I-don't-care-what-the-textbook-says way.)

And I'll be brave and state they are those who cannot simply be happy for us. Happy because, we had to search for our kindred spirits online because we found none nextdoor or at our jobs, etc.

So to the clueless ones I say simply, I am sorry you don't get it. And I'm sorry you're missing-out on this whole new world, this in-between world, in which the rest of us are having a blast.


******


"What is Real?," asked the rabbit one day...

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

....From The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams