Saturday, September 29, 2007

If I gave you thirty guesses, none of you would guess where Tom and I went last night.

Where did we go? To a bar. Yes, a bar where people stand around and drink alcohol two rows thick beside the counter on floors with missing tiles and play darts and shout over loud rhythm-and-blues and sit on ripped naugahyde chairs.

And well, calm down... Tom and I did not order any of the aforementioned alcohol. Nor did we play darts. heh. But we did shout to each other over the music a few times--it was the only way we could hear one another.

See, our daughter has been a drummer since she was 14 and played on our church's worship team along with Tom who played guitar and sang. Then when Naomi turned 19, or so, she began playing with many and sundry bands, through the years, who play at, well, bars. And every once in a blue moon her gigs begin before 10:00 p.m. (or 11 or 12) and she'll inform us old-early-to-bed folks in case we'd like to hear her current band play. Last night's gig began at 6:00 p.m., happy hour, I believe, and since we'll likely be moving soon, we went to hear Naomi play the drums with her current band.

So that's why Tom and I were at the bar. Honest.

The early years when Naomi played at bars and got home around 3 or 4 in the morning? Those were the years I became intimately acquainted with Worry. With standing at the front door, pacing, or waking up at night so I could check to see if she was home--and if not, struggling with that dark breed of Worry some more. I prayed every kind of prayer over Naomi--and I continued to worry.

Then God, one year, told me He'd had enough of my worrying. He told me to pray, yes, but worry? No. Worry cancels-out our prayers, He said. Worry would make me sick, He said, too. And He told me from now on, to go to bed and sleep. To trust Him with Naomi and place her in His hands. He respected--and responded to--trust. Not worry.

And over time I did that, though you other parents of teens and adult kids can guess it wasn't easy. But the trust has increased as my love for God has increased. And the trust has increased as I've watched Naomi change incredibly since I stopped worrying constantly about her. Since I stopped doubting she would change. She's become so interested in cooking and health and gardening and making a nice home--all things she, well, chided me about for years, saying I was wasting my life.

And she's become just about the sweetest daughter on Earth. Last night when Tom and I left the bar, Naomi told us she would stand at the end of the alley and watch us to make sure we made it to our car all right, uninjured by anyone. Naomi worries about Tom and I now... she sometimes treats us like we're a cute old senile couple... and we love it.

And well, did I mention that this past year Naomi and her boyfriend moved in together? And how she's known since she was nine years old how Tom and I feel about that? But there again, God has instructed me not to worry. To pray for Naomi, instead. And to just love her while God is changing her day by day... just as He's changing me, too.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Choosing Peace Over Insanity

"To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." Luke 1:79

Wow. That's what Zacharias said his son, John (the Baptist) would be doing when he grew up.

But isn't that what all of us should be doing when we "grow up?" Especially the "guiding people's feet into the way of peace" thing?

The problem, though, is that some of us never quite grow up enough to lead anybody anywhere. Face it-- we cannot take other people where we, ourselves, have not been first.

Trust me--I tried. For, like, twenty years.

I tried to lead people to a more peaceful way of living and then I'd go home and get frustrated to tears because Tom left his dirty dishes beside the recliner (again), Naomi's bedroom looked like Where All The World's Toys Go To Die and the cats threw-up. All of them.

Or I'd go to church and sit there offended out of my mind after a woman (with no children, by choice) turned around and hushed Naomi because she was coloring too loudly--at the same moment I gently tapped her crayon to quiet her.

I'd be nice to people so they'd be nice to me (and then have a cow when they weren't)... I'd take on projects and hobbies because my friends were gifted to do those things (but I wasn't. Hence, more frustration.) I always thought I should be doing more because most sermons I heard made it sound like God would love me more if I did more. But I never seemed to do enough.

Stop me before I go on all afternoon!

Of course, most of you know living that way--if it doesn't kill you--will make you sick. Tired. Sick and tired. Tired and sick. And pathetic.

And it will take you so far away from that daily path of peace that you forget it even exists.

So you know what God did in my case? He made me start all over. All over. Me! Mrs. Good Christian for 23 years. He said it was back to kindergarten for me, for I needed to learn to do things His way.

And His way leads to the path of peace.

My ways? Huh! They lead to those well-worn paths of Frustration... Discouragement... And the one called Repeatedly Hitting Your Head Against A Brick Wall And Expecting It To Move.

And for the past 13 years instead of fighting for what I want, I've learned how to receive from God what I want. To allow Him to delve deeply into my motives. To obey and receive... and to learn to hate my own ways because they never, ever lead my feet to that way of peace.

But His ways lead me there every time--even if they stir things up a bit, shall we say. And that has made all the difference.

"You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You." ... Isaiah 26:3

"May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways..." ... I Kings 8:58

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Where She Runs to the Kitchen, Not the Medicine Cabinet

I don't know. Maybe it's that I'm so sick of all those commercials for drugs on tv. You know, the ones which say, "Side-effects may include searing headaches, wild urges to gamble, turning green, oh, and, well, uhm--death."

And maybe it's all the research my daughter and I are doing into nutrition and the dangers of med's.

But frankly? I think we've all been duped. Brain-washed.

And it's like the book, New Choices in Natural Healing, says:

"What's really tragic about this is that we were so busy learning how to fix broken arms, deliver babies and do all of those "doctor" things in medical school that we considered nutrition to be boring," says Michael A. Klaper, M.D.... "But after we get into practice, we spend most of the day treating people with diseases that have huge nutritional components that have long been essentially ignored. I frequently get calls from doctors across the country saying that their patients are asking questions about nutrition and its role in their conditions and they don't know what to tell them."

Good. Grief.

Well for the past four years, ever since experiencing a months-long sinus/ear infection, I've been educating myself. Heck, I've been doctoring myself (I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv). And instead of racing to a medicine cabinet, I now race to my kitchen.... or outside... or to a quiet place.


If I have a headache, I drink a glass of water with a tablespoon of lime juice added. And/or I spray organic peppermint juice on a tissue and inhale (or I use arbor oil). And/or I take 1,000 Mg's of Vitamin C (good, I've found, for sinus headaches/infections). Or I delve more into what I may be eating/thinking/feeling which may be triggering these headaches.

If I experience ear pain, I chew a couple papaya enzyme tablets and take 1,000 mg's of Vitamin C.

Tummy upset? I drink ginger tea and/or chew an acidolphulus tablet.

Trouble sleeping? I no longer eat after 6 p.m., except for a small portion of (non-meat)protein before bed. I take a Calcium/Magnesium/Zinc pill and a Vitamin D before retiring.

Night sweats? I don't eat sugary foods after 2 p.m., or again, I don't eat a meal after 6 p.m.

Gaining weight? I eat less, take more walks and learn more about nutrition. I avoid processed foods with sucrose (or its forms) because it blocks your body's ability to feel full.

Feeling forgetful? I take a fish oil tablet each day. I eat more fish. I avoid drinking out of aluminum cans or using any product with aluminum as an ingredient (as in baking powder and underarm deodorant).

Constipated? I eat a prune or two. I eat more fruits and vegetables.

Bladder infection or discomfort? I take cranberry pills or drink cranberry juice (not the kind with added sugar).

Feeling stressful? I stop and ask myself if I've had too much coffee or wheat products lately. I ask myself what I've been thinking/ dreading or worrying about.

Back pain? I do back-strengthening exercises. I watch my posture. I walk to lose weight. I take hot baths.

Facial wrinkles? I use pure coconut oil.

Feeling arthritic? I cut out all decaf coffee (I've switched to organic and only drink it occasionally). I re-study the list of foods which may trigger arthritis to see if I've been eating any of them lately. I use a dehumidifier to remove moisture around our house. I step up my exercise program and do more stretching, including stretching before I even get out of bed. I pay attention to my thoughts and I forgive those who have wronged me.... I let it go and then get on with my life.

I-- well, you get the idea. This is just a blog post, after all-- not a book.

And I'm just saying this is what I do. You can do as you wish. But as for me, I plan to keep on running just about any other place on Earth rather than a medicine cabinet when I need help. And I plan on learning more and more about the healing power of foods, vitamins, herbs and oils as the years go by.

I'd love to hear your own favorite natural cures in my comment box!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Couple Recipes

Okay, so I've been trying to turn Tom and I into part-time organic vegetarians. I admit it.

And so far it's going pretty well (Tom hasn't complained much), though with variety being the spice of life (and all that) I need to add a few new recipes to my repertoire.

But I thought I'd share a couple of my main dish skillet ideas.... No exact measurements, though, because lately I've not used any. I just chop and toss and add until whatever I'm creating looks right.

What am I talking about? Well, all-in-one easy dishes like this, made from all organic ingredients:

Pretty much all my skillet meals begin with a tablespoon of oil (or so) in the pan, then I top it with rings from 3/4 of a large onion, a couple cloves of garlic and some frozen vegetables (1 cup?). I heat that awhile and then I might add:

a cup-and-a-half of short grain brown rice, already cooked
a can of black beans
fresh tomatoes, sliced (or half a can of diced)
Italian spice mix to taste

I heat those together and when they're nearly 'ready' I sprinkle frozen diced spinach (1 1/2 cups?) over the whole thing, then some thinly sliced mild cheddar and a little more Italian spice. Then I cover with a lid and turn the heat way down for a couple minutes (no stirring allowed...think layers), then turn it off and just let the spinach and cheese heat slowly. I might add 3 tbl.'s, or so, of salsa, too.

That's a variation of many similar meal-in-one dishes I've made lately.

Another variation?

I start with the onions, garlic and a few vegetables, I heat them together, then I add 3 thinly sliced potatoes (with skins on), Italian spice blend and cook, covered, until potatoes are tender. Then I add frozen spinach on top, then spread canned or fresh sliced tomatoes and then sliced cheese and spices. As before, I heat a couple minutes, covered, and then turn off the heat and just let the spinach, tomatoes and cheese heat through.

Technically? I hate spinach. But I love it when I use it in dishes like the ones above or in something like lasagna. I also use diced broccoli in lieu of the spinach. And I love how both broccoli and spinach are so healthy, especially since I'm not cooking the life out of them, but just letting them lay on top of whatever I'm making.

And there you go.

Forgotten to Ask Lately?

"... you have not because you ask not..." ... James 4:2

Now there's a verse for a little old homemaker like me.

I mean, in 28 years of keeping house, many has been the afternoon I've not felt like cleaning. Or cooking dinner. Or washing dishes... vacuuming.... mowing the lawn.... feeding the cats or doing laundry. Often in 28 years I've lost the inspiration to do all that and attempted to avoid it for as long as possible.

Because hey.... there are other more exciting things in life...and a person needs variety and vacations-- and I'm only human, afterall.

But you know? When I remember that verse--and when I actually ask God to re-inspire me to keep house (instead of just complaining about all that work)-- almost immediately, the inspiration returns. The "want to" comes back, along with some of that newlywed feeling of, "Keeping a nice house for my husband is kinda fun when I throw myself into it." (Anyone else remember that feeling from those early days of marriage?)

But of course, I have to remember to ask! And I have to remember that complaining is not asking. Neither is growling, nagging, whining or whimpering. No, asking God to replace what's been lost--and then receiving it from Him--that's what matters. That's what gets results.

And that's what gets me back into the kitchen baking pies and casseroles--with a smile rather than a grimace and a sigh. And anticipating more of the same enjoyable hours tomorrow.

P.S. And sometimes if I'm running especially low on housekeeping inspiration, God leads me to places like these after I ask:

Old-fashioned homemaking books with pictures of women who wear aprons and actually look happy to be at home.

Movies like the Blondie and Dagwood films where just glimpsing Blondie's clean and adorable house is enough for a jump start.

Blogs written by women who are excellent at what they do and who they are at home.

Monday, September 24, 2007

As Though You Didn't Already Have Enough Books to Read...

Please tell me you've read Ralph Moody's, Little Britches series.

You know how you can read some books over and over and it always feels like the first time? Well, the Little Britches series is like that for me. In fact, I believe I've read two of the books, Man of the Family and Mary Emma & Company, anywhere from 20 to 30 times the past 18 years, or so.

No, really!

These books are true recollections of Moody's childhood, first as a boy in the land of cowboys and ranches of Colorado around 1908 and then later around the big city of Boston. The books after Mary Emma & Company find Ralph on all sorts of other adventures in different states as a teenager and a young man on his own.

Yet it's the early books I love best because of Ralph's amazing mother who had to finish rearing six children alone and the ways those children loved helping her, from earning money for survival to doing their chores without complaining. Sometimes Ralph and his siblings appear almost like kids from a different planet (do they even make kids like that anymore?), but this was a whole other era--and that's why Moody wrote the series--he didn't want his days and times to be forever lost. His books yank me back one-hundred years and I find myself living in Ralph's difficult world perhaps even a tad more than in my own. And at the end of each book I never want to leave the Moody family.

The good news? I discovered today that you can read Man of the Family and Mary Emma & Company both online! Perhaps you can read the other six books online as well (I don't know), but I didn't want to overwhelm you:

Man of the Family
Mary Emma & Company

(The website said you had to sign-up to read the chapters, but I was able to see them fine without doing so.)

If you prefer to actually hold nice old books in your hot little hands, you can find copies of Moody's books on Ebay, at and Lately many have been reprinted so are affordable.

I'll warn you.... These books are so addictive. Tom read the entire series while he recuperated from neck surgery four years ago. He simply could not put them down and trust me, that is really, really saying something.


To read an article about Ralph Moody, go here.

Ralph Moody's Little Britches Series:

Little Britches
Man of the Family
The Home Ranch
Mary Emma & Company
The Fields of Home
Shaking the Nickle Bush
The Dry Divide
Horse of a Different Color

A Morning Corner

I sat at our dining room table minutes ago, gazing at the bit of sun peaking from behind the pot you see above and I thought, "What a pretty 'morning corner.' I should share it with those who read my blog."

So here you go.

Mornings. Don't you love them? Everything feels new in the morning. Re-born. Forgiven. Even God's mercies are new every morning--He said so, Himself.

Tom is working 12 hours of day shift today so the type of day I have will be up to me. I'm making plans even now before 8:00 a.m. to create a marvelous day. How about you? Or are you the sort of person who believes it depends upon everyone else in your life as to how your day will go? That you are helpless to rise above the hard stuff?

I hope not.

For me, the largest portion of my Real Life is what goes on inside of me. And always, I'm in charge of what goes on in there. Probably that's the only thing in the whole world that I am in charge of... when all is said and done.

Anyway, happy morning to you... may your choices be wise ones... and may what goes on in your inside color your outside in all your favorite shades.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Peaceful Nominations

Finally I made it over to Salina's blog today to thank her for nominating me for a Nice Matters Award. I appreciate nominations so much, it's just that they, well, uh (can I be honest?)...they make me feel kinda awkward and embarrassed and unworthy. Because, well, on most of my blogging days it's more like I'm taking dictation from God instead of writing from my own foggy head...though I hesitate to even say that lest it sound weird, too. (Insert Twilight Zone music here.) I mean, I know darn well how my writing comes out when I write without His help..... Can you say, "So pathetic that no one would want to read it, ever!"?

Anyway, thank-you, again, Salina.

And now I am going to break one of my own rules. I'm going to name three blogs which I love because of what they don't do. And there are others of you who don't do these same things. You know who you are, (and I know who you are) so please, please don't feel left out.

I love Salina's blog and Clarice's blog and Kim's blog because I go there and I know they won't be throwing temper tantrums...

...they won't be gossiping or screaming and bashing politicians, nor giving-up on our Country...

... and they won't be moaning about the weather, criticizing churches or tv evangelists or other Christians who are trying the best they can...

... nor will they be wringing their hands or crying hopeless tears because of the state of our economy or the decay of our society... nor feeling sick all the time because of hot-on-fire nerves.

No, instead, they will be celebrating Life and what's still good and marvelous about it.

You can count on them to be busy in their homes, raising their children to be hopeful, helpful and creative ... or decorating a new corner a sweet, bright and cheerful way. They'll be singing the praises of a new recipe or the discovery of a new quaint and cute antique shop or tea room, sharing photos so the rest of us can come along, too...

...they'll be spreading helpful hints and ideas like confetti for the rest of us who bog down and so need to be inspired...

... and we'll come away from their blogs longing to be better, more creative bloggers, homekeepers and friends.

Now, am I saying all blogs should be like those? Nah. My own blog isn't even like those, due to my own tendency to complain like a baby, to go all controversial at times and to not be nearly as creative as I know it's within me to be. (And on and on.)

No, I'm just saying Salina, Clarice and Kim are but three of many awesome, amazing bloggers who inspire me each time I visit them.... and I'm giving each a Peaceful Award. They are creators of places where I can go for some peace and rest, inspiration and cheer. And oh, many times I have needed such places.

And so I thank them.... and all the rest of you with peaceful blogs, also.


House Update

Some of you said you like hearing about our moving plans and half-plans and dreams. So here you go with another post.

See this house? I discovered it this morning. Fifteen-hundred square feet and only $105,000. It even has a fireplace and sits on a .34 acre lot. Plus, the build-able lot next door is for sale for $20,000, except of course, we wouldn't build on it, we'd just buy it and plant gardens on it.

I love this house! Even though I've seen no pictures of the inside. Lately, I've been more concerned about the outside of our next house, anyway, and Tom has been more concerned about garages. :)

And although sometimes I dream about living in the country, other times I prefer the idea of just living on a neighborhood lot which appears country-ish. Which, with this house, is most likely the case.

So we'll see. During all these months of searching for a house around Richmond, you know what I've had to do, don't you? I've had to hold each house in my opened hand... no squeezing allowed. No saying or even thinking, "I MUST have this house. It's THAT house or no other." No, in our case, that would only lead to insanity and discontentment, for after all, we've been talking about this move for over a year and have watched many sweet houses disappear from the Richmond real estate website.

So at the moment, you can picture this house sitting in my little opened palm where it's free to stay if that's what God wants, or free to sail away if He has something better chosen for us.

Oh, and on Monday night a family came to view our house with our realtor and the wife loved it, wanted everything to stay just as it is, for she loved how I decorate(which made me feel good, of course). And well, we'd been considering selling our Craftsman furniture through the classifieds, but before the family left, we mentioned that to our realtor who then told the potential buyers. Later our realtor called and said the wife would have signed on the dotted line, but the husband wanted a larger kitchen and a garage (our realtor told him our carport could be enclosed). So we'll see. They said they'd tell our realtor for sure by Sunday.

But the nice thing? I have such peace about this whole potential move. I've hit the ol' ball over into God's court and it will be up to Him to make the next move... I'm leaving the ball in his court and allowing Him to work out all the necessary details, remaining ready to return the ball should it come back over the net.

And in the meantime, I've determined to just enjoy the game.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Live Your Life

Want to know one of my all-time, all-time, so-very-favorite tv shows?

Early Edition.

Did you ever see that one? It's the series where Gary Hobson receives tomorrow's newspaper today, so he races around Chicago saving people's lives after reading about their mishaps/accidents/murders in tomorrow's newspaper.

Well poor ol' Gary (the very handsome Kyle Chandler) was usually a nervous wreck because of all that responsibility. Because of all those fast-paced, hurrying-scurrying attempts to rescue the people of his city. Day after day. Adventure after adventure (and often having to risk his own life, as well).

After awhile, that kind of a lifestyle would make anybody a loony, murmuring mess.

But the end of one episode returns to me often. Gary discovered an old trunk which the man, now deceased, who'd had Gary's 'job' for years, had left for him to find. Gary, with his two friends, pried open the large trunk, imagining it was full of answers to the whole early newspaper edition thing. Or treasure maybe.

But instead, a crumpled scrap of paper lay at the bottom with these words scrawled in pencil: "Live your life."

What marvelous advice! It was as though the old man was telling Gary, "In the midst of saving people's lives, don't forget to live your own life. Don't allow your days to pass by without being awake to how you are spending them. And remember to carve out a life of your own... a life apart from what you do. A life apart from who people think you are... apart from people's expectations... a life, well, just apart from the madness. Pay attention before your life, in a blur, is over."

Like I said, I think of that often. And that's why, today, I'll walk, not run, while I feed the birds in the backyard... and wash the dishes... and sit on the porch while I read... and hang wet laundry on my wooden racks... and put away groceries... and clean the house for the potential buyers who'll arrive at noon tomorrow... and I'll enjoy God in the middle of each.

I'll do those everyday tasks and pay attention to their simple lessons, for in each small job there's an education to be gleaned--if we'll listen. And learn. And I'll choose to enjoy it all, rather than enjoy part and resent or just tolerate the rest, missing out on what could have added joy to my day. To my life.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

For Those Who Enjoy Being Scared

Last week our local supermarket(which I thought was run by sane folks) put up their Halloween decorations. The second week of September! (Maybe even sooner--I'm not the most observant person on the planet.) And I'm not just talking about Halloween candy display boxes, either. I mean orange, black and white paper ghosts and witches hanging by strings over the check stands, down the aisles and who knows? Perhaps even inside the restroom stalls (haven't checked there yet).

Tom and I used to have a membership at our local video store (not Blockbuster, which around our house is fondly called That Den of Iniquity). No, a more family-friendly video place, except that, over a couple years, we watched all the 'friendly videos' and finally realized we could no longer stomach the rows and rows of horror movie dvd cases staring us in the face. So we signed up with Netflix which comes to our mailbox--where we are scared only by our bills. heh.

What is up with people these days enjoying being scared? Isn't real-life scary enough?

Well, if you are one of those people who enjoy a racing, frightened heart, boy do I have the You Tube movie for you! Just go here and within three minutes you will be scared out of your mind.

I know I was.

Ok, I apparently lied. I didn't post yesterday after all.

It was all Tom's fault. heh. He waited until just before leaving for work to try renewing our Norton Anti-virus, but ran out of time and asked me not to go online until he signs back up. To leave the computer off and unplugged from the Internet.

I hate it when that happens. But what are ya gonna do? :)

So here I am this morning at our town library, and well, I still have nothing precise to blog about. It's been kinda like writer's block lately, I guess. A running commentary in my head, rather like this:

"I could blog about ______."
"Nah, I already wrote about that. Four or five times."
"How about if I wrote about ______?"
"Nope, blogged about that, too."
"What about _____ ?"
"Nooo...sigh... too controversial."
"How about ...?"
"Nah. Don't feel like it."

Etc., etc.

Mostly? I've felt such incredible peace lately. You know, lay-on-the-couch-in-a-cloud-of-gratitude-and-count-my-blessings peace. Stroll-around-the-neighborhood-singing-songs-and-knowing-all-will-be-well peace.

And sometimes I just have to go with that and relax awhile. Enjoy it.

Of course, you know what usually comes afterward, don't you? Either a huge test or a new big project or a new big something-or-rather. Something which, because I took some time off and hung-out with God, becomes a challenge, but not a burden. A stretch, but not an impossibility... all because I took some time to recuperate, rejuvenate and receive from Him what He knows I'll need for the soon-to-come future.

Even though at this moment, I have only guesses and ideas as to what that will be. But it doesn't matter. As long as He's there, all will be well.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Finding Debra

I know, I know... I've not been posting as often.

I have many and varied excuses. :)

Mostly, I feel like I'm taking an in-depth college course with this 'going organic' thing. Some of you know what I mean.... How, the more you dig, the more conflicting the information you find. And the more horrified you can become, too, when you discover what's going on behind the scenes and what's become of our nation's soil and farms and the scary methods of growing/transporting/packaging the foods we eat.

Of course, the EASY thing would be for me to flap my arms around and panic. And allow myself to feel so overwhelmed that I say, "Oh well! Who wants to live past 70 anyway?" And just give-up. And think about something else.

But seldom is the easy thing the right thing. So I won't be giving-up anytime soon. I'm feeling too much better physically to go back. And besides, I feel Grace leading me around this organic/health maze... She's keeping me going, clearing away some of the fog and cushioning the blows each time I discover what I've done wrong all these years.

So that's where I am. Researching, researching, researching. And standing in supermarket aisles, squinting like an old lady while trying to read labels without my reading glasses (Vanity, thy name is Debra).

But as soon as I have a non-going-organic post, I'll be back. I promise. Probably by please come again.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Christmas Anytime You'd Like

Are any of you still decluttering your home? If so, this is for you. And for me too, certainly.

So this whole entire year I've been decluttering our house in anticipation of a possible move far, far away (as if you didn't already know that). When I began, I had approximately 600 books, down from at least 900 from previous times and years. Over and over I've weeded through my remaining books, holding each one in my hand, deciding its fate. Will it stay or go? Some books survived the first five cuts only to be cut during the sixth Great Weeding Of Books.

Somewhere I discovered an easier way to release not just my books, but pieces of furniture, dishes and various and sundry knick-knacks. The secret? I stay in a type of Christmas spirit. If I'm holding something I find neither beautiful or useful (as Willie Morris would instruct), I tell myself that someone 'out there' would love to come across this book/dish/painting/chair/soap dish/fake flower/purple sweater and fluorescent pink shoes at Salvation Army. Somebody Somewhere would be tickled by this kool-aid cup more than I am. Somebody would drive away from Salvation Army feeling as though their Day Was Made because they bought one of my collectible books for cheap.

And Somebody Somewhere just might consider that orange and brown crocheted afghan I've had in our blanket chest for eons a real-live answer to prayer.

After all, I know how often I've driven away from Salvation Army feeling all of the above.

So instead of viewing decluttering as a necessary evil or a good-for-me discipline, now I see it as a type of Christmas Anytime Of The Year. Anytime I wish, I can fling away to the wind and the world that which is cluttering my life while on this road to simplicity. Anytime I wish, I can give things away and release their annoying, mystic grasp upon me... and make someones day while lightening my load.

And that is turning this whole ordeal into just a plain good deal, instead. For me and for people I will never meet.


"Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver." ... 2 Corinthians 9:7

Friday, September 14, 2007

Okay. Since my vain attempts at humor have a tendency to confuse people or make them pity me, I'll tell you this now: the following post is supposed to be funny. Okay?


Yesterday I received some devastating news. Today I am still reeling.

See, for a few weeks I've been weighing myself on Tom's Ebay package scale here in our basement. It's very like a regular bathroom scale, except that you have to read the numbers upside-down. And well, for weeks, that (blessed/holy/merciful) scale told me I was losing weight. Without even trying to lose weight. Well, except for eating organic and being more careful to take my daily walk around these neighborhoods (of which I'm becoming tired since--now--these scrunched-together houses are giving me claustrophobia. But that's not part of this story).

Anyway, I even told all of you I'd lost my winter weight (finally, at the end of summer). I'd told a few other people around my town, too.

So yesterday Tom and I were at this ghost-town like shopping mall nearby and while he shopped for tools at Sears, I spied one of those tall, metal and enamel old-fashioned scales which I'd seen in old movies, usually comedies. Blithely, like an idiot, I popped in my quarter so I could see how much I weighed.

Good grief.

That stupid/horrible/unkind scale told me I weighed ten more pounds than I thought I did. Ten pounds!


Unable to even focus on my so-called lucky number, I backed away, horrified, from the scale and went bawling through the mall till I found Tom at Sears. Okay, so I didn't really bawl. But I'm sure I resembled a woman in the first stages of shock.

Well, I threw myself at Tom, told him the whole sordid tale and how his unreliable/broken-down/pathetic basement scale had lied to me. For weeks. And do you know what he said after I stopped sputtering? He said, "Oh, those kinds of old-fashioned store scales are never right. Don't worry about it. I'm sure my scale is accurate and that you've lost weight after all."

What a sweetie. A misinformed and mistaken sweetie, but a sweetie nonetheless.

Well, I walked out to the car to nurse my wounds and, suddenly, everything made sense. How, earlier, when I'd told our daughter and my friend, Laura, and Tom that I'd lost more than ten pounds, not one of them said, "Really? I'd thought you were looking slimmer." Nope. Not one of them said anything like that. And my slacks weren't feeling especially loose, either, and that had had me a bit mystified.

But you know? Here's the wild thing. I'd been feeling slimmer. I'd strolled around supermarkets with a happy-that-I'm-finally-losing-weight smile, practically skipping out to my car in the parking lot. And the few times I peered into mirrors, holding in my stomach, of course, I even appeared skinnier to my (poor, over-40) eyes.

And that realization made me stop sputtering and whining. It came to me, again, that--mostly-- how we feel about ourselves is all inside our heads. That what matters most is what we tell ourselves, rather than what others tell us. What matters most, too, is that we listen to what God says about us-- and He's certainly not standing over us criticizing, condemning or waiting for us to fail.

Instead, He's standing beside us, within us, always ready to help. To inspire. To instruct. And He's always available to love us through the goofy things we do while we are learning how to live His way, not ours. While we're learning to decipher what really matters--and what does not.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I'll Be Glad When....

Probably you--or someone you know--often says, "I'll be glad when...."

You know, "I'll be glad when this day is over." ...or...

"I'll be glad when my kids are in school." Or, "I'll be glad when my kids are out of school."

"I'll be glad when we have more money." "I'll be glad when I feel better."

"I'll be glad when winter/summer/spring/fall is over." Or, "I'll be glad when we go on vacation... (or when we get home from vacation...)"

"I'll be glad when I'm home from the dentist...... or when we have a better house/car/computer/Life... or when my kids get married/pregnant/divorced/remarried..."

And on and on for as long as eternity lasts.

Me? I often used to say, "I'll be glad when..." But now I just enjoy being glad today. Even while things are imperfect. Up in the air. Unsettled.

I've learned that if I wait to have all my ducks in a row--if I wait to be glad only when everything is just the way I like it--well, most likely, I'll never be glad.

And how awful would that be? To go through life never, or even just seldom, feeling glad? To me, that's a new definition of the word 'tragedy':

Tragedy-- living whole decades of ones life always putting off gladness for a supposedly better time. And then dying, never realizing gladness was like gratitude and was available thousands of days... and that gratitude could have been the beginning of feeling better and more hopeful.

Oh my, that's much too large a risk for me to take. I think I'll keep on choosing to just be glad in this moment--anyway.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

It's a Maxfield Parrish morning here in my town.

It's the kind of morning where the crisp breeze makes you feel 10-years-old and as though you'll live forever.

It's the kind of morning where it's a crime to sit inside the house.

It's the kind of morning where geese sail, honking, overhead and seagulls circle your house, crying with joy.

It's the kind of morning where you just want to drive and drive and not think about coming back.

It's that kind of morning here and Tom and I are getting ready to go out and celebrate.

I hope you are having that kind of morning, too... and that you are celebrating all good things.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Day of Good Deeds

I like what I read here. It's about turning each 9/11 into a day of good deeds.

I think I'll begin by de-procrastinating... by trying to answer all the emails I owe.

And when I go to the supermarket this morning, I'll consciously watch to see if I can meet needs, even simple ones like giving a smile to those who need it. I still recall the days in Nevada when I'd drive to the supermarket for just that exact reason--to receive a smile from somebody. Anybody.

Take a look at the article I mentioned above... It's a good thing to have spread across our land.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I was thinking this morning that I hate it when people don't take care of their bodies and then, years later, they blame God--and question His goodness--when their bodies crumble. And then I thought, hey! I should write a list in my blog today about all the things I hate that other people do. You know, a type of pet peeve list.

But God interrupted me. He said, "Hmm... Debra--how about if you write a list about the things you hate which you do, instead."

Er. Don't you love it when He nails you like that? :)

Ok, so here's my list.

I hate it when I procrastinate writing emails and doing my housework and answering blog comments and mowing the lawn and paying bills. And then walk around all day with those undone things bugging me in my head.

I hate it when I worry--about anything.

I hate it when I'm trying to declutter my house (and my life) and it just about kills me to get rid of certain things.

I hate it when I can recall useless stuff (like the name of a 1970's actor), but I can't remember to take my vitamins or what I did yesterday.

I hate it when Tom asks me a favor and I whine and moan about it.

I hate it when I spend hours dreading functions where there will be a lot of people--and then I end up having a great time at those functions.

There are more, of course.

But notice that I said I hate it, and not I hate myself. Oh my--never hate yourself! That's a sure way to stunt your spiritual growth. People who hate themselves tend to try avoiding God (or godly people) because they feel lowly, unworthy, guilty and embarrassed. And when we avoid God (or try, anyway) we are sunk. We stop growing. We backslide. We stop changing. Why? Because without God's help we go nowhere. There's no advancing in our walk with Him. Only through Him do we grow and change and find peace and serenity and wisdom.

Jesus said we're to love our neighbor as ourself. So go ahead--love yourself. It's ok. It's more than ok--it's a command. It's only when we go overboard and are in love with ourselves that we find trouble. But I've found that if I stay in love with God, then everything else falls into right places. Eventually. Most things do take time. And patience. And cooperating with God's ideas and ways.

And how incredible that He--seriously--never stops loving us in the middle.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

If you've been over to my Autumn Around Here blog, you've already seen these photos.

And this is probably neither here nor there, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.

...this house was demolished.

During a countryside drive last week, Tom and I went past this old building, except that it was no longer there. This old stone house of which I'd taken pictures last Autumn, was gone!

I had a near conniption fit (I hate it when history gets imploded--not one brick was left) and the strangest feeling, as well... For the first time, I'd actually saved a house with my camera. Because I took a photo, in a small way, this house will be remembered. The quiet hillside is empty in real-life, but not in my photo.

And in all the bitter-sweetness, I had to smile. With gratitude.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I'm glad Tara left this comment to my last post:

"...good for you! We have been wanting to do that too but are finding it terribly difficult- we live in a super small town in the middle of nowhere and there is nowhere to buy organic anything!"

...because lately I've been thinking: If Tom and I ever do move away from here, what if we end up someplace where shopping organic is a larger hassle than just driving down to the local supermarket as we do now? I mean, we once lived in a tiny mountain town which felt like--and looked like--the North Pole each winter and if our two meager supermarkets didn't have what you wanted, well, you did without. You created substitutes. Part of me warmed to that challenge, part of me dreaded it.

And too, already I'm planning on hibernating during Richmond summers. Guess who despises heat and humidity more than I do? (Answer: No One.). (And yes, don't ask me, "So why are you moving there?") :) In summer I will stay home with my face pasted to the air-conditioner. Already I know this.

So here are the beginnings of my plan to stay organic in another place and perhaps this will help some of you, like Tara, who live in tiny "what-the-heck-is-organic?" towns.

In Springtime, early as possible, I will hurry to get a garden all planted. I'll raise as many organic fruits and vegetables of my own as I can. If there's a water shortage, I'll devise ingenious ways to conserve water, use leftover water, and water from a dehumidifier, if I have to. (Where there's a will, there's a way. I believe in that.) I'll probably learn how to can vegetables and will use my freezer to the max.

You can also offer to buy produce from your neighbor's organic garden if they have one. Or gladly accept any organic zucchini (or etc.) they throw your way.

As soon as we get moved down there, I will scout our local supermarkets, one shelf at a time if I must, for organic products. For instance, one of our local supermarkets doesn't have a health food aisle, yet it was as that store where, years ago, I first found West Soy Organic Soy Milk which we use all the time. It's the only soy milk I've discovered with only two ingredients--not a whole list of unnecessary ones. And there it was in the cereal aisle, all by its lonesome organic self.

Soon after that (and months before our family went organic) that same store began carrying a certain brand of 'natural products' (never trust the term 'natural'), yet some of them were labled organic. These, too, were interspersed among the regular ol' chemical-laced food after their initial "look what we have now!" display. You had to stroll around--searching--for them after that.

So what am I saying? Don't give up hope. You tiny-town dwellers may be surprised to discover there are some organic foods in your stores, after all. And why not fill out 'suggestion forms' in your supermarket asking for some? Perhaps write out requests each time you visit. I mean, why not? Stores are usually anxious to please--anything to sell more food and make more money.

And then there's studying for yourself--reading online or from library books how to make your own, say, health and beauty products from your own cupboards. The other day I learned that coconut oil--by itself-- is a great moisturizer. So why use some product where coconut oil is only one of many added (potentially dangerous) ingredients? The list of beauty products from your cupboards is endless.

And then there are farmer's markets... You can ask the vendors if they are organic. And at least when you buy local produce, there's much less chance that it's been sprayed with that awful "staying power stuff" so to survive long trips.

Then there's the Internet. If I couldn't find, say, Stevia in our stores, I'd buy it online. Have it mailed right to my house. There are lots of organic products available online--just do a Web search and then comparison shop.

And too, if you're not ready to go organic, there's 'eating basic'... trying to eat fresh foods with no--or very, very few--added ingredients. The shorter the ingredient list--generally speaking--the better. And just learning what all those ingredient names mean can be a life-saver, too.

Again, I totally, totally believe in "where there's a will, there's a way." Especially if it's something God, Himself, is nudging you to do. He would never ask us to do something physically impossible, but instead--when it's His idea--He always provides a way where there is no obvious way.

Generally, what remains is for us to search for that way until we find it.

Healthy This and That

So Tom and I have been eating organic and making other changes for less than 7 weeks and I've lost 6 lbs. (without trying), I feel tons better, and my friend, Laura, said over lunch yesterday that my skin looked much clearer and had I changed my make-up?

Gotta love that.

I've had way fewer headaches and now if I begin getting a headache I just add a little organic lime juice to a glass of water and drink that. (Read that somewhere.) Or I spray a little arbor oil on a tissue and inhale it (peppermint is supposed to work, too). Or I sit and think happy thoughts. :) All seem to help within minutes. Of course, it would help even more if I'd get prescription reading glasses instead of just using my cheapo Dollar Tree ones for my poor ol' over-40 eyes. But hey.

Want more good news? Dr. Don Colbert, currently my favorite online/tv doctor (one of the few who won't just hand you a bottle of pills, but will urge you to change your diet, instead), had this multiple choice question in my favorite Bible teacher's magazine (I'm writing this from memory):

Which of these has the highest amount of heart-healthy antioxidants?

a. Green tea
b. Coffee
c. Hot chocolate

Of course, I thought it was yicky old green tea, but no! Dr. Colbert said it was hot chocolate. Hooray! (And another reason he is my favorite doctor. heh.) He said it's the dark chocolate in it which is good, but skip the milk fat and sugar, which are bad.

Well alas, for weeks I've been making a morning drink in which I do just that. I add a bit of pure baking cocoa to hot water, along with vanilla, one packet of Stevia and a splash of organic carob soy milk which I use like cream. After experimenting, I've come up with a not-bad-at-all morning hot drink. And just skipping the powdered cappuccino mix I used for years is probably why I've lost half the weight, since the mix was mostly all sugar.

So on top of all I have happening in my Life at this moment, I've been piecing together a whole new diet, of which I'm only half-way finished figuring-out. And yet, it's fun to learn new things.... it's marvelous to feel an energetic 20-years-old again... it's fantastic to have weight fall off. And it's great to see favorable results in so few weeks.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Yard Sale Finds

Four years ago I spied an old Mother's Oats box at an estate sale and was, strangely, enchanted (having never heard of Mother's Oats). This week I finally bought one of my own at a yard sale for $3. So cool (though don't ask me to explain why it still enchants me).

Found this creamer at an estate sale for only $1. I love the ancient brown 'checking' and just looking at it brings old farms and farmhouse mornings to mind.

All this silver was in a box for $5. Just the way I like it--all scuffed up.

My cute Regal coffeepot, a $1 find. I just use it to heat water, of which it does quickly!

This teapot was in the 'free box' at a yard sale. Always check the free box!

I enjoy sharing my yard sale finds so to encourage you that God can scatter tiny (or huge) surprises around for you to find. And He can make them affordable for you, no matter what your financial circumstances. All it requires is trusting--and waiting for Him to do so. And keeping Him first. And slowing down, strolling everywhere with your eyes open wide.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Life After Microwaving

Well, I know it's been keeping you awake at nights wondering how we're coping without a microwave oven.

We haven't even missed it.

(I know, I'm as shocked as you are.)

Nope, it's not hard at all. I just had to return to thinking ahead, which isn't too taxing if you let it become more of a habit than something you actually have to think about. I simply heat water for my pretend coffee in my old-fashioned Regal coffee pot ($1 yard sale discovery) and--don't tell anyone, ok?--I often just store leftover main dishes in the fridge inside the lidded pan I cooked them in, then whoosh! Whip out the pan and heat the leftover contents on the stove. (Which may sound tacky, isn't 100% safe, but hey, it works. For now.) I try to view each lidded pan as a miniature oven and that helps me cook/heat things evenly.

I just wanted to let you know it's possible--even simple-- to live without a microwave. It can be done. I know--we're doing it and are still alive to tell the tale.

Not to mention that--in my small kitchen--the freed-up counterspace is marvelous!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

So there Tom and I were yesterday, at the computer, trying to discover a way for me to get to California. I think we considered everything except perhaps Mississippi river boat or oxen cart. I even thought of the time when good ol' Lucy and Ethel found a ride with a woman via the newspaper and they all thought each other was an axe murderer. heh.

Eventually, it all got to us. What with trains which leave at midnight from sleazy depots five cities away from us, to buses with six transfers and which leave at 6:00 in the morning from Oregon. And just the whole thought of myself, Mrs. Homebody Extraordinaire, traveling through the vast Midwest alone. So a couple arguments later (Tom kept trying to force me onto planes), we decided to go out for lunch at a recently discovered hole-in-the-wall 1920's cafe in our town, and that was pleasant. Refreshing. We could smile and joke around again.

Not wanting to return home, we drove to the next-town-over to see the movie, Mr. Bean's Vacation. Oh. My. Goodness. Exactly what the Doctor ordered! Within the first five minutes we laughed until the tears came. Then laughed some more. And some more. And came away feeling as though we'd been on the most relaxing vacation (to France, even!) ever. How true that laughter is the best medicine--but I've already blogged about that. A few times.

Anyway, this morning I read an email my sister sent last night--they're sending my dad home today(!). Seems there was minimal damage to his heart, beta blockers (and etc.) will help and if he takes better care of himself, he should be around a bit longer.

So I'm not currently planning to cross our Country alone and Tom and I will keep a Plan A and B in mind for the future so we can travel out there together at the right time.

And during all that planning yesterday--all that trying to jam and crash this square peg into a round hole--I recalled whole years I lived like that. How, if I followed Grace and Peace, it only happened by accident. And after feeling the ol' "let's make this happen, even if it doesn't feel right" thing yesterday, that's when we went to lunch. That's when we stopped what was not working... that which had no anointing or Grace or peace... and left it all alone, or rather, treated the unrest like a flashing red light on our dashboard, pulling over to locate the problem's source...

... and trusted that God knows what He's doing.

We needed to get back on board with Him... and over to the theater for a couple hours with Mr. Bean, who brought both laughter and the sun out once more.


I wanted to thank each of you who commented after my last post so much! Your words were encouraging, soothing and added Grace to my day. And my whole attitude. Thank-you. Thank-you. Thank-you.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sometimes you reach a personal point of Life where it shows whether you've done your homework--or ignored it.... whether you've cooperated with God or fought Him on every change He asked you to make... whether you've learned to walk in peace no matter how wild your circumstances--or not.

I am currently at one of those points. Let's just say I'm getting awfully used to walking on water--so to speak.

I am living in a house which is for sale, one I no longer see as my own. And although I'm sure we'll be moving out of state, at this moment, I'm not certain just which state that will be (yesterday we discussed North Carolina). And yesterday we also decided to sell nearly every piece of our Craftsman furniture so that we can start over with a 'whole new old look', since we'd like to buy old furniture, stuff I could paint if I wished. And then there's the thing of having no idea just when we'll be moving away or just when our house will sell or what kind of house we will buy(or when we should buy it).

And yesterday, too, I received word that my dad is again back in the hospital, one in Oregon this time, having had a heart attack (they think) and just basically not doing well. My sister says I should come out there, but since Tom just returned from California dealing with his own family matters, most likely I'd have to travel those 2,700 miles alone. I asked Tom to piece together a train travel package for me so we can know the costs and details just in case. And yes, I could fly, but 1.) I hate flying, even in happy times. 2.) The nearest major airport is hundreds of miles away from both my parents' house and the Oregon hospital . 3.) I'd have to rent a car and drive hundreds of strange miles alone (me?), something which I don't see as wisdom, and well, I try always to live according to wisdom.

Add to that a dozen more complications which I'm sparing you.

I'd like a train trip alone, though. I think. I'd enjoy sitting pensively, staring out windows for days at farmland and just meditating, dreaming, remembering. Right now that sounds tempting. But Tom is nervous about my traveling alone, not to mention we've planned to take a train trip together for, oh, twenty years. Perhaps he could take additional time off from work because of the circumstances, but the best time to go would be in a month during his next long stretch of days off. Yet with the reports I get from my sister, sometimes I wonder if my dad even has a month left.

So around and around and around we go. Tom and I talk all this over until we come right back to the beginning where it all looks and feels impossible. And then we just sigh, usually in exasperation with each other.

I comfort myself with the knowledge that thousands of other people around my age face similar circumstances--and worse-- all the time. It comes with the territory--with being in middle-life and needing to make changes, being part of a family, being alive.

And not only is it showing whether I've done my homework--whether I've learned to stay in peace in hard, uncertain times--but I'm being reminded of my weaknesses. Oh my, am I ever. How we all have them. But that's a good thing because I also take comfort that God isn't in Heaven all surprised and condemning-browed because some days I flounder... and some days my weaknesses rear their smoking, ugly heads. No, He's known me such a long time, is acquainted with me inside, outside, upside-down, and will love me through all of this, even if no one else understands or approves of the choices I finally make.

Of that, I'm sure.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Dread--A Life Spoiler

I'm still here... Tom returned from California safely and he's now on his long string of days off and I'm now on my long string of not getting much accomplished. :)

So I'll repost this which I wrote years ago, something which often returns to my mind in a flash, causing me to adjust my thinking.

Have a great Sunday!


Speaking of Fear.... Dread is Fear's cousin.

Yeah, really.

Think about it. When you're dreading a dentist appointment, you may be fearing that the time in the waiting room will be long and boring like the last time. There'll be no good magazines. The hygienist will nag you about flossing and will take out her problem marriage on your gums. Or the dentist will get a little drill-happy when he fills your tooth. Etc. Etc.

What else do we dread?

How about driving through slow or insanity-prone traffic to work?
Or the long eight or ten hours at work~~the stressed-out co-workers,boss,consumers, patients, etc.? The paperwork? The meetings? The potential problems? The Muzak?
How about carpooling our kids or sitting through their recitals, sports or doctor's appointments?
Or paying bills? Cooking dinner? Cleaning house? Car repairs? Harsh weather?
Or shopping in crowded stores? Paying obscene prices for groceries or gas?
How about waiting in long lines?
Or buying clothes (and those ghastly-lit dressing rooms)?
How about discussing touchy subjects with our spouse? The grumpy neighbor? Or an upcoming visit with in-laws?

If you never dread anything , pour yourself an extra cup of coffee. You deserve it.

Fear is crippling and brings torment. If Dread is a form of fear, then dread brings torment, too. And who wants to spend their daily life being tormented?

Not me.

So years ago I asked God to deliver me from a vague, year-around sense of dread. To alert me when I begin to dread anything. I wanted to enjoy my everyday life because there was so much of it, and I knew I had to fling away anything which would spoil joy.

Now, when I catch myself dreading an upcoming situation, I take myself by the scruff of the neck and say, "Stop dreading things!" Then I purposely think of at least three good things which may come out of the situation, instead.

Examples, you ask?

Well, the time at the dentist office may be just what I need to slow down a busy day. I can spend the time meditating on God's goodness. Having my tooth filled will help me avoid worse pain in the future.
Or my shopping trip may result in a great sale.
Or I may be able to smile at a fellow-shopper who needs a smile desperately (when you've gone through depression in the past, you think of those things).
Or I may discover a new friend at my daughter's recital.
Or I can listen to my favorite teacher on cd while I'm driving in traffic.

The list is endless, one you can expertly add to with practice.

All I really have is Today, and I don't want my Today to be colored grey by dread.

I prefer the light of joyful anticipation.

Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.
Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)

Worry a little bit every day and in a lifetime you will lose a couple of years. If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry. Worry never fixes anything.
Mary Hemingway