Thursday, May 31, 2007
I'd forgotten about our tucked away, huge every-book-is-70-percent-off book store, but this morning before the heat and humidity rolled down our streets, God whispered, "Why don't you go there?"
So I went... and though this place is so large that anyone standing at the back of it appears half-size to any person at the front door, I was the only customer. I'd hoped to find Tracy Porter's book, Home Style, which I discovered yesterday at our library, a book stuffed with photos of how I'd decorate my house if I lived alone.
But I found a book even better. One called, Thoughts of Home, edited by Elaine Greene. And well, God has done it once more. He's spoiled me far and away more than I deserve.
I mean, just last week, this is what I wished: "I wish I could find a book all about peoples' love for their houses, their homes."
And today I found that book. I am in love, and in a hurry, even, to skip steps back upstairs to our couch and continue reading these essays by various authors describing how love at first sight feels when you find the perfect house... how sometimes love for your home must grow... how comforting the right home can be. Family members within those houses are remembered and appreciated again after the passage of years. The essay, The Love Nest, described how one couple, at retirement, left the huge, memory-embedded home where they'd raised their children and found a white cottage on the sea. I had to wipe away tears before I could finish--so closely to the bone did it resonate with me.
Some of you may love this book as well. If so, they're practically giving them away as door prizes over at amazon.com.
And speaking of homes, I cannot describe how in love I am with my turquoise Dream Room. I feel as though I step out over the ocean whenever I walk through the door, especially when the flowing muslin curtains at the windows fill with air like sails on boats. I even, yesterday, bought a present for my room--a simple coffee mug which blends-in and appears at home in my 'seaside room' if I leave it atop my nightstand the hours after my morning coffee.
If ever you've pondered painting a room this color (or a similar one) grab a paintbrush (or roller) and paint away... You'll not be sorry.
God is good. But then, He always is... even though it's a goodness we don't always understand.
"A man's mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure." Proverbs 16:9
Actually I believe God loves to switch things around and keep us, well, maybe not guessing, but rather, leaning, listening and depending upon Him.
Some people believe the best, most-desirable thing in Life is figuring-out, reasoning-out, the things they're curious to know... and being rather proud of their intelligent heads for that ability.
I am not one of those people. No, I've no desire to think and reason and figure better and faster and more often.
My desire is to become an expert listener... a real-live leaner-on-God... one who relies more (and more quickly) upon the best director of my steps. I could spend 80 years becoming a professional at figuring everything out and using my mind to its full (or nearly so) potential--but even afterward--I'd still never be anywhere close to the wisdom God has.... And I'd still never know my future the way He knows it this moment--and helps me prepare today, even though my head doesn't understand just what it's preparing for.
No, I don't care how many people will shake their heads after reading this, feel pity for me--someone who doesn't get high on reasoning--and then click away one last time to discover a more intellectual-type blog.
Instead, I care that I become a better listener and 'obeyer' of the One who knows the exact way I should go. The One who asks that I obey Him even when what He asks makes no sense to my own brain. Too often my head gets in the way--talks me out of doing the seemingly wild request God is making--and I've watched too many miracles sweep past me, thus creating regrets. (For a tiny example, click here.)
God's ways are not mine--yet they can be! But only after I listen and obey... only after I learn to recognize that still, small voice in the first place.
A special thanks to Jennifer for inspiring this post with her comment to my last post. Jennifer--I didn't think that strange at all--it happens to me all the time so that I'll stay pliable and ready to set aside my plans for His any hour of the day.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
What a difference obedience makes.
Yesterday I clearly heard God tell me to stop what I was doing...
... to stop concentrating on the future...
... to stop scheming about alternative plans which are clearly not His plans...
... to stop complaining about the present (and worrying how I'll spend my days), and instead, choose contentment, giving myself permission to be happy.
Well, guess what? Today I've felt a trillion times better than I did yesterday, all because of obedience. Today Life has looked amazing since even the morning. Today I've not filled my head with the future, which meant it was available for some fun, creative ideas, instead, for the present. And I am so encouraged. God said He can only bless my obedience in the here and now, not in the past nor in the future (not yet, anyway)...
Imagine that. Imagine obedience leading to the kind of freedom you feel like celebrating with cartwheels and balloons. Imagine obedience leading to joy, even when all your circumstances are exactly the same as they were the day prior. Who would have thought it?
Sometimes a girl, even an old girl like me, just needs to go shopping. This year is nearly half over (can you believe that?) and yet all I'd bought so far (besides groceries) were a few dvd's, dishtowels and blouses (the latter from our nifty thrift shop down the street). You go and majorly declutter your house and you become afraid to bring home more junk you might just have to sort through later. At least, I found that to be true.
But I got out this morning, early, my favorite time, before all the cars and weeping children came out as well, and I drove to the next-town-over and went to just one shopping center before I came home around an hour-and-a-half later.
I know, I know... "You call that shopping?"
Yep, for me, it's enough. Enough time to buy enough stuff and feel glad enough to get back home again. Which I am. Glad to be home, that is. It's pleasant to do and see different things... to get out amongst shelves of new, colorful things, but it's even nicer to get home amongst my own old colorful things.
Besides, since I have everything I need, basically, that good ol' verse tends to haunt me while I shop: "His heart does safely trust in her." Yep, in money areas as well as all the others, I want that verse to be true in my case, regarding Tom's heart and his safely trusting in me to spend our money sanely. So, well, the less time I shop, the less money I'll most likely spend.
And now you'll have to excuse me while I go hang my new flamingo-colored bath towels with the mint green hand towels I'll fold over them. I can't wait to see how they'll brighten our bathroom.
I love towels which don't just have the same ol' same ol' texture (click to enlarge).
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
All I ask is that you not freak-out about this post in my comment box. If you don't agree, please just ponder it awhile... I like to think of this as grow-up stuff... a kind of spinach teaching...
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."... Romans 8:28
Since I was 13 (or so), I've heard this verse used like a blanket verse by lots of people. Sometimes what I'm hearing is, "Just remain clueless and keep doing whatever you want--everything will work together for good if you're a Christian."
I've known Christians who've smoked cigarettes for more than 50 years and when they came down with cancer or emphysema, other church people told them, "All things work together for good..."
And other Christians have chosen to live on fast-food or they just over-eat or eat the wrong foods and when they become obese or sick, they're comforted by well-meaning friends, "...all things work together for good...you're a Christian--everything will be all right."
Or I've watched other Christians set aside self-control and make wrong choices in purchases beyond what they can afford.... or wrong choices in a spouse... or they gave their hearts to someone outside of marriage and got divorced and/or pregnant... and in their misery they are patted on the hand and told, "...don't worry, don't be afraid.... all things work together for good to those who love God..."
I mean, what about the "called according to His purpose" part? Where does 'His purpose' come in in all of this?
Sowing seeds....Choices... Oh those choices we make! And the free will thing... and all the trouble we call down upon ourselves because we chose our own purpose, not His.
Sometimes everything does not work out just hunky dory, especially when God was right there crying, "Noooo! That path will only lead to heartache... trouble.... tears for a very, very long time..."
...and then still, we chose to go our own way.
God cannot bless disobedience. The older I get, the more aware I become of even my slightest disobediences... and I've stopped making excuses for them. No, I say, "I am sorry. You were right. You are always right." And I have to admit, I would be very disappointed in God if He did wink at them when I knew better all along, but pretended I didn't.
I'm glad He nags me to do better... to be better. I'm glad that--anymore--He doesn't let me get away with anything without there being consequences. I no longer expect Him to radically bless me while I give Him just a sloppy kind of obedience, sighing, "Oh well, it'll all work out for good." I'm grateful that I've learned that I can make irreparable damage by my words (with their power of life and death) and my actions... that I can procrastinate sharing with someone so long that they die first... that with great power comes great responsibility. I'd rather go through my life with my eyes open... and with God expecting me to live what He's spent years trying to teach me.
"For unto whom much is given, of him shall be much required...." ...Luke 12:48
"Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked [a]by mere pretensions or professions, or by His precepts being set aside.) [He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God.] For whatever a man sows, that and [b]that only is what he will reap." ... Galations 6:7 (Amplified)
"What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?" Romans 6:15
No, I'm not speaking about sunburns. Heh... I wish.
Nah, it's this thing of how personal growth can feel rather like you're an onion when--once again--God comes along and peels off yet another of your outer layers in His quest to reach the heart of the onion--your heart, the person you truly are--so that it will match the person everyone sees. And after He completes all this work, hopefully, the heart you're showing to the world makes everyone thirsty for the God who made such a heart.
I am so at another one of those peeling stages and I am trying not to resent it. God is wildly husking away my superficial layers (ouch, ouch, ouch) like there is no tomorrow.
Once again, I've been impatient about moving. Tired of sitting around here on our porch as though it's a waiting room. Tired of running out of things to do (or rather, the desire to do things).
And God is calling me on my impatience (and complainings)--again.
It's like He hates loose ends and right now I'm one loooong loose end. He prefers to finish what He starts, so He's nailing me on how I keep returning to dissatisfaction and discontentment and imaginations of how Tom and I could just grab at some wild and quick life-changing alternative instead of waiting for God's way. I tell Tom, "You could retire now! We could just sell the house and buy a cabin and live-off the land up on some mountain! Or how about if we go RV'ing for a couple years and see the U.S.? Or how about if we adopt a whole passel of kids and run a bed-and-breakfast?" etc...etc...
And so my impatience and discontentment is the current layer God is peeling... And He's trying (poor God...I've been so cranky lately) to make me understand this: my head can either be crammed full, loud with my own bright ideas and I'll-be-sorry-later schemes--or-- it can be quiet, peaceful and receptive so I'll hear what God is saying by way of my heart (probably some marvelous, interesting project He wants me to do while I'm waiting).
I cannot have it both ways. At least, that's what God is telling me.
So another layer (#1,200,304) is being peeled away by God's very fingers... He is requiring more of me, stretching me... and I'm making the decision yet once more--will I cooperate and return to contentment and doing things God's way? Or will I prolong this whole uncomfortable process by trying to change God's mind and hurry Him up (when God simply will not be rushed)?
P.S. Aha! I did a little experiment and I am feeling a bit better. My simple experiment was having one of my afternoon pick-me-ups: In a cup I mix:
1 tbl. powdered sugar
3 tbl. baking cocoa
2 tsp. soy milk
2 tsp. vanilla
(all measurements approximate)
Anyway, it's amazing how much brighter the world looked after eating that--and I was encouraged by my little experiment: if I felt so much better after having a little chocolate, then my situation isn't quite so dire.
So add another layer to this post: my eating habits. Eating the way God wants me to is one of the hardest things I've had to die to. It's taking years to accept that I can no longer get away with eating whatever I wish and feeling fine afterward. And well, it's not like I can quit eating altogether the way I can quit nagging or worrying or being lazy or... (name a host of other such things).
But alas (again), I'm encouraged that if my whole outlook on life can be changed with a little chocolate then things aren't too drastically bad--and might just be quite easily fixable--especially once I decide to stop complaining and disobeying God in areas which appear little. Nothing is little to Him--not even the way we eat.
I am encouraged! ...Just wanted you to know...
"You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body..." I Corinthians 6:19,20
"It is never fun to die." ... A.W. Tozer (taken from here.)
"Be still..." Psalm 46:10
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Another holiday (don't we have one, like, every two weeks now?)... And even with a sober holiday like Memorial Day, where we're supposed to meditate upon those who've made sacrifices and gone on before us, still, there are parties abounding everywhere. Even in my Mayberry-ish neighborhood.
I am so not a party girl. And even when I used to attend church parties, even then, I was the awkward, can-I-leave-early-please?, uncool church lady in the corner of the room.
Then why as I'm here alone on a Sunday afternoon (Tom is at work) does my mind drift over to wishing I was at a barbecue at a park with a whole group of people? Am I crazy?
But it comes to me that I'm simply just getting to know myself better. My real self, that is. The one God is creating from scratch after I spent whole decades creating a counterfeit version of who God wanted me to be.
I think the problems come when I gaze backward at the old me, my old life, forgetting that's not my life now.... making those unequal comparisons and recalling how we used to attend parties on holidays because we felt we should and oughtta and what-would-people-say-if-we-didn't? Oh, some big, loud get-togethers were fun and I'm glad we attended them for Naomi's sake, so she could come away with good memories. There is that.
But so much has changed since those days. Tom and I try now to be led by God and go where He leads, rather than being led by the shoulds and oughts and brow-beater-types in our lives. Not everyone understands, of course, (most don't) and many have just given-up on being able to control us and shame us into attending noisy functions. And the rest, well, like I said earlier, the rest don't even think about us at all, anyway (even though we flatter ourselves and believe they do).
And we're fine with that. For, even at the half-century mark, Tom and I are still finding our way... and what I'm discovering is that, by spending much time alone with God and with each other, we're becoming more confident in what and Whom we believe... we're becoming better acquainted with ourselves, each other, and with God... and we're learning that, in swimming upstream, you become both stronger and yet more reliant upon God for the extra strength it takes to swim to new, unfamiliar places.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Opening my eyes early this morning, the Happy Birthday tune popped into my head, but with these words: "Happy Suzy Homemaker Day to you... Happy Suzy Homemaker Day to you..." Etc.
Yep, it's one of my rare Home Alone Days because Tom is working day shift. I can make as much noise as I wish-- I can play the radio in the living room and switch the tv on in the kitchen and turn another tv or radio on upstairs. If I want. I can sit at the computer anytime, eat lunch or not eat lunch and just relax outside and read and read and watch the folks around my neighborhood.
But my aim on most Suzy Homemaker Days is to create that Home-From-School feeling... that feeling I had whole decades ago when I'd be home sick from school or home on holidays. I remember my mom stepping about the house, cleaning, while I'd watch game shows and I Love Lucy and the sun would shine through the windows at a certain slant. There was that luxurious feeling that I'd escaped from that desk in kid prison, and if it was a holiday, the knowledge that I could play outside with friends.
On Home-From-School days, the air felt different, I felt different, Life felt different.
And well, like I said, I try to create a similar feeling on my rare Suzy Homemaker Days. I mind cleaning even less on these days because having a clean home (clean towels and sinks and sheets and floors) only adds to the overall old-fashioned air I'm aiming for.
(I'm really hoping at least some of you know what I'm talking about. It's kind-of hard to explain this.)
I think many of us go around trying to recapture certain good feelings way more than we realize. We return to certain places believing it was the place which made us happy, when actually, it was the conversations and the closeness we felt to the person(s) with whom we visited that place. We buy certain things for the good feelings we believe they'll bring. At times I sit on my porch and reread a book which I recall as being a great read, but it's not quite the same because the weather and how I'm feeling and all the details of my life are different now--so my time on the porch is different this time, too.
Even if I could line-up all the earlier details as best as I could, still something would have changed--because every day I am changing. What made me happy months ago doesn't always make me happy now.
There's a certain freedom in realizing that... in ceasing to attempt to cling to the past and expecting ourselves and our friends to always be as we once were. And so on these Suzy Homemaker Days of mine--although I'm going after a certain retro-ish feeling from my past--the ways I'm doing that are always changing. After all, I'm no longer that little girl home from school--I'm a million changes away from her.
So I'll just hang-out with God around my house today and go where He and Grace go and enjoy their company and follow my heart and we'll all --together--make it the very best day that we can. And after all, there's a type of joy which trumps my changing feelings any day... a joy which doesn't depend upon circumstances, but upon a God who never changes.... and my friendship with Him.
"...Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!" ...
"The only way I wouldn’t see God is if I stopped looking."
- Dvora Weisberg
Friday, May 25, 2007
I know... I wasn't here yesterday, but I'm back to simply enjoying Life and God (well, I never stopped enjoying Him) and feeling marvelous all-around. Since avoiding all the trigger foods which the book, Eat Right For Your Type suggested, it's been like a miracle how great I've felt... like being on a caffeine high, only without the caffeine and without the side effects, too.
I even tweaked my Dream Room before 7:00 this morning... a part of which you can see in the photo. Earlier I had my pretend coffee and watched old Leave It To Beaver episodes up there in my peaceful turquoise room where I'm spending oodles of time since it feels like a day at the beach. And then for the third morning in a row I sat outside on our sunny front porch, early, before even the little school bus rumbled down our street and gobbled up the kids down the block.
Yesterday morning Tom and I watched the season's ending of LOST (we always tape it)... We loved it! Ever since that dreadful, whose-idea-was-that? hiatus, we've enjoyed LOST again... it's as though the writers returned to the initial magic of the first season. How great to watch a show where it's nearly impossible to guess what's next... a show which is different than anything I, personally, have ever seen before. My favorite parts of the finale? (Spoiler alert:) That they had Hurley be the hero... that Sayid didn't really die (I was nearly frantic)...that Ben's beyond-cruel commandoes are all gone... that John is still alive... and that when I was simply dying to see who would get out of the car to meet Jack at the airport--it was Kate. Wow! I'm totally confused now, of course, but in a fun, enchanted way. Any other huge LOST fans out there?
Anyway, I'm still here. And well, Tom is too--he has yet another day off and I need to race upstairs and make him some oatmeal. I'm hoping we'll have a fun, productive day... and I'm hoping that for you, as well.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
You won't believe what I did yesterday. Well, you'll probably believe it. I'm the one who can't.
Around 8:30 in the morning I drove to our local supermarket and bought a cup of coffee from the woman behind the counter who bore a strong resemblance to the grandma who owns Tweety Bird. Her voice was nearly identical. Then while I sat at a bistro table nearby, a little old man spoke to me now and again--his voice was a male version of the Tweety Bird's grandma lady... made me smile. And a store worker restocked shelves near us, all the time softly singing cheerful songs.
Maybe I live in an enchanted place. I'm not sure.**
Well, I drove to the library and as quickly as I could, I grabbed a whole stack of books, some from the kids' room and others from the adult decorating books section. I say 'quickly' because the stale, recycled blechy air in that place makes me dizzy and by the time I'm searching in my wallet for my library card I'm always murmuring, "Must... get... out.... of.... here..."
Then I drove to Burger King for a kid's meal--hamburger and onion rings--which, according to that Eating Right For Your Type book I told you about, is practically health food for my blood type. heh. Then at the park a couple blocks away, I ate my lunch, thumbed through my books and appreciated all the finally-green trees outside the windshield.
The whole morning had been pleasant, but as I later sat on our sunny front porch with my library books, I realized mostly I was just killing time until we move. And I wondered if I'd continue to feel like that for five more months.
And then I got an inspiration. "I know!," I thought. "I'll repaint and redecorate my Dream Room!" And for the next seven hours, that's just what I did. With a three-inch brush (rollers are way too messy for me) I spent five hours painting my room an aqua/turquoise shade and a couple hours shoving furniture across the hall into the Tower Room (which, once again, now resembles a storage barn).
I love this new look. I should have done it sooner. And I continue to be amazed at how much this woman is changing. I mean, I find myself craving simplicity in my decor now whereas years ago I believed Victorian-esque clutter to be very cool. But now, well, clutter makes me shudder, especially my own clutter in my own house. After spending time in my new serene blue room, I sat with Tom downstairs in our Cozy Room where we basically live like mice in a crowded hole in the wall, and well, I think I began nervously twitching. I had to just face the tv and not gaze around the room at all the newspapers, dishes, shoes and blankets and, well, you know. Stuff.
Of course, after all those hours of actually working yesterday, I could barely crawl out of bed this morning. I ached all over. But it's a pleasant sort of ache (well, mostly), one which comes after being stretched past my recent inactivity and the wondering of what I should do... a stretching beyond what I, myself, could ever do alone. And I'm hoping there will be more of it while I'm waiting for the next chapter of my life to begin.
**Well, I guess it's official. This morning our mail carrier lady came walking up to our mailbox singing a happy song. :)
Monday, May 21, 2007
Did anyone else watch the tribute to Bob Barker last week? I taped it and will probably keep the tape for some time. I like Bob. Believe it or not, I've watched him for 42 years--perhaps more. (Forty-two years!) I remember at six-years-old laying in front of the tv watching Truth Or Consequences and loving best the surprise reunions, usually between servicemen and their wives. Oh my. Even as that braided-haired child, I'd brush my tears away before the family could glimpse my silly little sentimental self.
I even recall The Price Is Right when it was just one-half hour--that's how ancient I am. And well, it's not like I watch T.P.I.R. every single weekday (no, really I don't). Though, since I heard Bob was retiring, it's been on our kitchen tv more often for the sake of seeing Bob before he leaves us. There's just something about seeing people win prizes... just something about watching people screaming with happiness--rather than complaints. And well, all these decades later I'm still that little girl deep inside, the one who's watching Bob and his contestants and still brushing away those happy tears... (not to mention jumping around gleefully when the occasion calls for it).
So does anyone know the right way to care for a 'prayer plant'? Naomi gave me one years ago and over time (and over-watering) I killed it. But I love the way it looked in our house so I bought another one, and well, it's now dying a slow, painful death. I keep forgetting to look-up the care and feeding of prayer plants online, so I thought I'd ask here while I'm thinking of it.
My current test? Just enjoying my life without knowing exactly what else I should be doing right now. You'd think it would be easy to relax and simply enjoy God and Life and my husband and my house and my cats and the fact that we raised a sweet daughter, but, well... there's still that nagging voice which says I should be doing more while we are waiting to move.
But it comes to me.... God doesn't want me just grabbing at 'busywork' for the sake of appearing busy to other people.... and He doesn't want me following annoying, nagging voices (the tyranny of the oughts and shoulds) inside my head.
No, He wants me to follow His voice... To wait in perfect trust and patience--and joy--until I receive further instructions. To just keep doing what I'm doing until I hear from Him otherwise.
I'll let you know how that goes.
Saturday was a gorgeous day here. Oh, a tad coolish, perhaps, but otherwise sunny. I sat on our front porch and watched the people in my Mayberry-esque neighborhood and thumbed through my old Mary Jane's Farm magazines while Lennon the Cat knelt beside me, eyeing the neighbors as well.
It all should have felt perfect, but it didn't. No I, instead, felt depleted and tired and well, yicky in a ho-hum-general-sort-of way. You know, Plain Ol' Blech...and for the third (fourth?) day in a row. I chalked it up to just more unfair pre-menopause nonsense or this limbo state I seem to be living inside regarding our upcoming (we hope) move... or the state of our world or our annoying too-cool-for-sitting-outside weather or--(insert any other hosts of excuses here).
And not until Sunday morning did I finally obey that tiny voice inside me, the one which for days had been begging, "Pull out your copy of Eat Right For Your (Blood) Type," a nifty book Naomi found a couple years ago. It's a cool book, one which contains, all between two covers, the research I did online for years whenever I'd feel this poor old body crumbling to pieces with yet a new and different ailment. I could have saved a bunch of hours by finding this book first. Oh well.
My favorite part of Eat Right For Your Type are the three food lists it gives specifically for your blood type (mine is O), foods under these headings: Highly Beneficial, Neutral and Avoid. I'm skipping lots of information, but trust me, over the past couple years I've felt marvelous as long as I eat foods from the Highly Beneficial and Neutral lists.
And well, good grief! Duh. Duh. Duh.
For days, (weeks?), I'd been eating almost exclusively from the Foods To Avoid list. Wheat, dairy, caffeine, peanuts. Big surprise why I'd been feeling like Naomi's old Raggedy Ann doll looks. What was I thinking?
So yesterday morning, after rereading the book's lists for Type O, I heated up some onions (Highly Beneficial) in a tad bit of canola oil (Neutral) and ate some walnuts (Highly Beneficial). Then later I had some soy yogurt (Neutral) and Ezekiel Bread (Highly Beneficial) and-- well, you get the picture. I ate like a person with some common sense.
Within hours after eating the right foods--and avoiding the wrong ones--I began to feel more like my good old, chirpy, Miss Pollyanna self. Seriously. I'm not lying (would I lie to you?).
Now, I'm not saying that this book is the solution to the world's ills. Uh, no. I'm just saying that sometimes Life is more simple than we make it and blaming others or our past or the weather or the devil, himself, well, often that just wastes time and what could have been good days. Usually, the answer isn't to complicate matters more--but to simplify them, instead...
...and usually the answer is to listen to the One with all the answers. And then go from there... listening to Him every moment along the rest of the journey, as well.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Transition: 1. passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another : CHANGE b : a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another
2. an abrupt change in energy state or level (as of an atomic nucleus or a molecule) usually accompanied by loss or gain of a single quantum of energy.
Yep. That's been my life around here lately.
So I've been taking another little break from blogging since mostly my thoughts are too scattered/disjointed/hazy to put into words (trust me, you wouldn't want to know what's been going on up here inside my brain, anyway).
This is probably one of those times (again) when I'm just supposed to live what I have already written, rather than write about it as it's happening. Rather like the tv series (my favorite), Early Edition, when Gary Hobson received the tiny note from Lucius Snow in the large, empty trunk. The note which simply read: Live your life.
Good advice, indeed... I shall return!
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Ok, for the last time, here are more pictures of my yard. It's just that it's very much a spring time yard and after a week, or so, it's going to be all downhill from there. That is, unless I step-up and take your wonderful suggestions for summer time blue flowers! (Anyone have any suggestions for faking lilacs?)
Even after, like, forever, I'm still blown away by what you can hear when you get quiet.
Remember how I was all bummed/fuming/disappointed because our time of moving to Richmond was, once again, moved-back-and-who-knows-but-it-just-may-be-moved-farther-back-again?
Well, once I returned to calm, God started trickling down ideas into my head. Fun ideas, even. Besides the ones I told you, He's now suggesting I try living a different, new way inside this same, old house.
What a wild concept!
I mean, already it feels downright odd/strange/unfamiliar to this procrastinator extraordinaire to have actually completed(!) certain projects which have nagged, "Hey you--finish me!" for years. Imagine--painting walls and decluttering and washing the top inside parts of the front porch weeks early-- and not scurrying all out-of-breath mere seconds before potential buyers drive up with the realtor.
Initially, I think that's what spun my head around. Being nearly caught-up felt so foreign, so unfamiliar, that I slipped into a sort-of Twilight Zone place. Or something. And now I'm considering just how cool it could be--in our next house--to begin our years there living this new way... this way of finishing the projects I start. (Wow, dare I dream?)
Other things I'm hearing: If I want a larger yard in Richmond, I need to take better care of this postage-sized one in Buffalo... And too, how--after having finished tasks around my house--now I have more time for our neighbors--and letting God help me over my shyness with them (a weakness of mine). And more: Now Tom and I have months to visit the sites/shops/museums around here which we've procrastinated (hmmm...notice a theme here?) visiting for 14 years... brand-new-places-to-us to experience in this same ol', same ol' area of ours.
And so the list goes and grows... It's true just as the Bible says:
"See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?" ... Isaiah 43:19
God is so unboring, so beyond-belief creative, that the best of Real Life too often flies past us way over our heads while we, like most regular ol' folks, are caught hanging our heads, looking downward or inward only--staring solely where others have stared before... the rutted places ... the same ol' tried-but-not-always-true places...
... and since God is doing a new thing, it remains up to me to look up and see it--to open my eyes to the redemption which draws nigh...and is always much, much nearer than I believe it to be.
Monday, May 14, 2007
So there I was, a sophomore in high school during career week. You know, those days when, at 15, you were supposed to decide what you wanted to be for the rest of your whole life. You just (according to the teacher) walked over to the career box, thumbed through a few career cards and poof! Picked a life-long career. And then during the weekend you were supposed to find someone already working in your chosen line of work, interview them, and hand in the interview along with a few of your own thoughts.
Want to know the career I hoped to find in the career box? You'll never guess, so I will tell you.
I hoped to find a hermit card in there. (I know... wild, huh?)
But there weren't any hermit career cards in that box. I know--I checked.
Yes, at 15 I was already tired of dealing with people, especially people who made me feel like I'd been shoved out of a space ship from Mars. People who criticized me for being different and hard to understand. People who didn't act the way I thought they should. Just whole crowds of people because, basically, aside from a few friends, I just wanted, at 15, to be left alone.
And well, all these years later I still love spending time alone--as long as it's kept in balance. Anything taken out of balance no longer feels like a good thing. I'm a firm believer in too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing.
Some parts of myself haven't changed much since high school. Other parts have grown and changed immensely for the good--and those are the things I give credit to God for, because only He can change the pathetic parts of me... the parts which are not pleasing to Him... the parts which are not born of that 1st Corinthians 13 type of love He wants me to show to others.
Anyway, I just thought I'd share a smile with you this Monday morning. Imagine--wanting to be a real-live hermit at 15 and actually picturing myself in a secluded little cabin up in the woods away from everyone, growing my own food and cutting my own fuel. Alone. Imagine!
All I can say is that I'm so glad that God had a totally different plan.
Anyone else out there who has, at one time or another, wanted to choose the hermit career card?
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Happy Mother's Day to each of you! Later this afternoon, Naomi and her boyfriend will come over and I'm anticipating their visit, especially now that I'm back to my old (new?) self.
For you see, yesterday was much, much better... as days are when you stop complaining like a spoiled brat.
So there I was, sitting outside on our sunny front porch, the magic place where I've healed from many hurts, from ones along the mothering road or the wifely one or the general no-one-gets-through-Life-unscathed ones. And at a point, I almost heard God say, "Ok. Now that you're quiet, we can actually get somewhere." Then He showed me bits of what He wants me to do for the next five months... I say bits, because rarely does He reveal every detail of a long journey ahead. No, He's pretty big on that Faith and Trust stuff. Painting the entire picture would zap the need for those.
Basically, He told me to make plans to Enjoy... Enjoy our last few months here ... Enjoy our mostly-fixed house and yard and how Naomi drops by to say hello some evenings and even the weather and the peace upon this porch. You know, rather like this verse:
"...nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy..." I Timothy 6:17
I think I can do that. I'm not sure. Sounds like luxury to me.
And then He said--rather than not buy a single thing for five months--I, instead, could search for and buy better-loved items to replace certain of our not-so-loved items. Hmmm... I liked that idea. There's a nightstand upstairs in my Dream Room which is oh hum ok, but I'd prefer a different old-style one. Maybe I could find one at an estate sale...
...and as some of you suggested, He even hinted that the timing and our choice of a house will be better this way, in October, too. Imagine. A plan of His better than a plan of mine!
And so my Saturday went... Ideas floating around my head, rather than the churning and swirling of wild tornadoes of discontent. And memories of what Spring and Summer in this place are like (in all the fuss, I'd forgotten how exquisite a summer morning can be here).
Because I silenced all my brain's pathetic complaining, I could actually hear the peace-filled, sensible, loving voice of God, especially while I stepped and worked amongst all those forget-me-nots in our sunny backyard. Our front porch is a pleasant healing place, but there's just something about our tiny, made-for-two backyard. Life is pretty simple back there, and oh my.... at my age, I do love doing simple!
Thanks so very much to each of you who left comments or emailed with encouragement and suggestions! I'll try to reply to you soon.....again, thanks!
Saturday, May 12, 2007
You would have been horrified to have seen me yesterday. Horrified.
Why? Because Debra threw a fit. (Debra?! Yes, her.)
Tom came home from another of his monthly meetings with the powers-that-be concerning that Richmond job and he said the project has--once again--been pushed back two (three?) months. Now we are looking at moving in October.
October?! October?! That would mark one year from the time this whole thing began.
So, like, what am I (I, I, I, me, me, me,) supposed to do for the next five months? I mean, as of this Monday, this house will be ready to sell. There'll be nothing more to do to it.
And this whole year I've hardly bought anything other than groceries because I don't want to have to pack and move more junk, er, possessions, than we have already.... so there goes shopping at thrift stores and estate sales and even shopping online--for five months. (Gasp!)
And it no longer makes sense to view Richmond area houses for sale online since they'll all be sold by October (well, the vast majority).
There won't be anything to decorate around here and the yard will be done in a couple days, too, and well, in my heart, I've already said good-bye to this place where we've lived for 14 years. In my head, I realize I'm already living in the countryside of a whole other state.
Yesterday, all I saw ahead in the next five months was me sitting on our front porch twiddling my thumbs. And waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
Obviously, I don't do waiting patiently well. At least not in the big stuff. (And I thought I'd come so far. Sigh.) And yes--there's also the whole thing that this isn't a real-live problem in the first place. Not when you compare it to real, real-live problems of other people. (I know, I know... you don't have to nag me about it.)
Oh well. Reality calls are good--painful, but good... and humbling.
So anyway, you should have heard the crazy plans Tom and I (mostly I) started grasping all wild-eyed at. Ones like: Maybe, since we have a little extra money in the bank (for the first time ever), well, maybe we could use it as a downpayment on a tiny H.U.D. house and Debra could work on it over the summer and then we could sell two houses in September? But then Tom asked, "How would we make the payments on an extra house?" To which I replied, "Oh yeah. Payments. I forgot about those."
Then there's a huge four-square house for sale for just $30,000 cash around 20 miles away from us which we actually drove over and saw yesterday (nice, safe old neighborhood), so we considered selling our current house, buying that cash one and working on that. Only I'd worry about Tom every time he drove home after working nightshift... So then in a lightbulb moment I suggested, "Hey! You could quit your job and consider this a long working vacation!" But to Tom, that idea sounded rather extreme.
Well, in a space of three hours, we came up with a whole host of such ideas, including selling our house and renting one of our favorite country houses in all this land, one which amazingly, we noticed just yesterday is for rent. I even peeked in the windows and fell instantly in love with the inside (having always loved the outside). And that way, well, we could spend the summer in a country-like setting, inside a marvelous old house and be ready to move away when this Richmond job finally does turn into reality.
Now, that renting-a-dream-house idea is doable, but, if we snatched it now, we'd be making a large rental payment on top of our current house payments until this house sold, which would be a minimum of two months if it sold immediately (escrow and all that), longer if it took more time to sell... But trust me, my I-want-to-do-something-anything-NOW-side is willing to just throw caution--and money--to the wind and move out to the dreamy rental right this moment. (You'd have to see that house to understand. We've always called it our #2 dream house, after the #1 dream house farther up that country-like street).
Okay, this is long enough (and I'm even skipping a whole bag of details). The main lessons, for me, anyway, are these: If I keep my head full of complaints and fears (what am *I* going to do for five months? How can we not buy stuff we don't actually need for so long?) and whinings and splashings around in disappointment, well, I'll not be able to hear God's perfect solution. Yesterday there was such incredible discontented noise inside my self-imposed, throbbing head--I couldn't have heard God, even if He'd tried screaming.
So today my head returns to quiet... to choosing peace and yes, contentment, as well... And my heart turns back to simple trust where, on its best days, it's happiest. Only then will I be able to hear what it is God wants me to hear... His marvelous ideas of what I should do now... for only His plans are plans worth following.
"Out of the same substances one stomach will extract nutriment, another poison; and so the same disappointments in life will chasten and refine one man's spirit, and embitter another's."
- William Matthews
"Be still, and know that I am God..."
Friday, May 11, 2007
It's that time of year around my yard again.... Forget-Me-Not City!
And because I love them so much (and so did our realtor), my question is this: Can you recommend a summer-blooming flower which very much resembles these blue forget-me-nots? These are simply springtime flowers and I'd love to see clouds of blue all summer... I always miss them when they float away.
P.S. My favorite photo is the first one... Click to enlarge and you'll have a window to my tiny backyard this morning.... and let's have coffee (or tea) there together.... and giggle over Mandy's post about trying to sell her house the sneaky way. :)
Thursday, May 10, 2007
For lots of years when we'd drive through run-down, depressing neighborhoods, I'd sit in the passenger seat and play the "I Would Never Live There" game. It was simple--I'd just peer at houses with iron bars across the windows and wine bottles, weeds and washing machines in the yard and I'd wrinkle my nose and thank God I lived someplace else--someplace nice.
I didn't learn much while playing that game.
But now I play a different, more challenging version. I call it, "If I Had To Live There." I usually play it while strolling down a street nearby, one which once(a friend told me) was a Guinness Book of World Records winner for the U.S. street with the most bars per capita (or whatever). All these years later it has, oh, maybe 5 bars and lots of old, crumbling (and a couple restored) two or three-story houses.
I take morning walks down that street sometimes and, instead of playing the ol' "I'd Never Live There" game, I imagine that Tom and I have lost our money and must now run a business on the lower level of a certain house on that street. I amble down the sidewalk and in my mind, I choose the colors and types of flowers I'd plant in the front yard (if it has one). I paint the house and its trim in my head and try to arrange our current furniture in the rooms which I'm imagining, as well. I list every advantage to living there that I can--lots of those houses have larger backyards than I currently have, many of them have more square footage and since they're older, some still might have more antique touches and nooks and crannies (the ones which didn't succumb to the almost inevitable 'remuddle,' that is).
...I try to imagine the view outside of lofty, tiny rooms with walls of windows through which one could see miles of blue sky and acres of more decrepit old buildings. And I list ways in which I could carve out a contented, old-fashioned life for Tom and I inside such a house, even if we had little left of what we own now.
I love that game. When it stops raining later today, I just may go traipsing and imagining and practicing down that street, playing the game again, for it's a pleasant challenge and I always step away--hopeful--that I could enjoy creating a cozy home in a not-so-cozy place. If I had to.
Besides, seeing potential wherever I look can become one good habit.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Sometimes your dream house can look more like a nightmare. heh...
These were taken from the inside of what I called our dream house in an earlier post. Pretty mind-boggling, huh?
Here's the outside of the house (below). Strangely, it appeared pink in the earlier photos I posted.... Hmmm... Perhaps that's its supposed-to-be color? I can only imagine it pink. Period.
But then, at this moment, I cannot imagine doing all that work (especially with the sniffles and a head which currently feels like the inside of a garbage truck).
And yet, there's one thing I have seen and known and experienced to be true. Namely, God's plans for us are always beyond our natural, I-can-do-this-alone ability. Guaranteed, they'll (and I'm not just talking houses here) contain a chunk of impossibility. Why? He wants to stretch us, to grow us up. To test us--will we rely on Him, or upon ourselves? Will we let Fear chase us off or will we let Faith lead us through?
And most importantly--He gives us impossible-looking tasks so that--if we attack them with His strength, His wisdom and an utter reliance upon His Grace--then we can truly, honestly and with no pretending otherwise, give Him all the credit for a job well-done (because we can't fathom how such an impossible thing ever came to pass). And that's what matters to Him--the glory... and that we remain humble and reliant upon Him--and certainly not upon ourselves.
Well, we'll see. We're still open to whichever house God wants for us. Maybe it will be this nightmar-, uh, dream house, or maybe it will be another which doesn't require quite so many miracles to repair and heal its gigantic hurts. The main thing is that we listen and be led... for then we can rest--assured-- that everything will be all right.
An extremely special thanks to those of you who wished me a speedy recovery... those wishes mean so much (she says as she sits here coughing and sputtering and blowing her poor little red nose).
Monday, May 07, 2007
"Be well-balanced, be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring, seeking someone to seize upon and devour." ... 1 Peter 5:8 (Amplified)
Remember how I said last time that springtime allergies had invaded my poor head? Well, two days later I'm thinking it's a horrible, terrible, very bad cold, instead, or rather, a combination of both. Bleh. I am so thankful you cannot see me as I sit here bleary-eyed, wilting, clad in my shiny-aqua robe. (You should be thankful, too.)
I spent yesterday in bed in my Dream Room watching my Leave It To Beaver and Ma and Pa Kettle dvd's and thinking how terrific it is that nowadays we can customize our own tv watching habit. I mean, I've heard groups of people (myself, too) complain that today's shows aren't as clever/decent/funny as those from the past. But at least today we have choices. We can buy dvd's of shows and movies we love and watch them at noon or midnight (and over and over, the episodes we choose, not the tv exec.'s), something we couldn't do while I was growing-up in the 60's and 70's.
Yes, I was alive before home video recorders. Primitive times, indeed.
That sounds like such a minuscule thing, but it reminds me of something huge--namely, not to complain about how Today's world is not like Yesterday's. I so don't wish to be in the Only The Good Old Days Were Good crowd. You know, those whose heads and necks are always hurting because they're turned backward, facing the Past.
In fact, yesterday with my poor drippy head on my pillow I recalled how someone wisely wrote, "The news is the bad news." I mostly understood that when I first saw it, but now I get it more. Newspaper and tv news--generally--only reflect the world-gone-wrong and seldom what or who is going right.
Seeing today's world in only a negative, dark light is not being balanced--nor accurate. So I often remind myself, for the sake of balance, that not every teenager is a thug just waiting to rob or shoot someone. Not every person holding a steering wheel is a bad driver or a road-rage case in-waiting. Not every movie is obscene and not every theater or video store is a den of iniquity.
No, there still are millions of helpful, kind, compassionate teens and adults out there in our huge world. There are still excellent, peaceful drivers and hundreds of good, thought-provoking movies and tv series being produced. Most parents still love their children passionately and there are millions of happy, I'll-love-you-forever couples in the world as well.
I remind myself because, according to many newspapers and tv news reports, those good things don't exist. And there's nothing honorable, sweet and noteworthy leftover from yesterday's world, either, they imply.
For the sake of staying balanced, rather than sliding toward the negative magnet side, I remind myself that God is still God, He is still good and He still makes Himself known through people. Because He is and He does, you know. Sometimes we just have to hunt a bit harder to find certain treasures, but we'll miss them if we're always looking in the wrong places. Or if we stop searching altogether.
......(She says as she crawls back up the stairs to bed to recuperate just one more day... where she'll watch a little tv from Today and a little tv from Yesterday, as well.)
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Man oh man.... I am so grateful that we don't sell a house every year. Or every two years. At this moment my house is unnaturally clean and straightened and freshly painted.
There's just something not right about that, especially when I consider what it required to make it like this.
So the realtor came by this morning to do one of those I'll-walk-through-your-house-and-tell-you-what's-wrong-with-it-for-free things and you know, I had the best time with her. A true kindred spirit! She loved all the improvements we've made and how I decorate and she even owns a couple similar lamps and paintings. I met her at an open house two years ago while I took a Sunday walk and, shockingly, she remembered me. It's nice to be remembered, especially when you're incredibly average.
Anyway, she walked through our whole house and made only one suggestion--one!--that I move our Morris chair to a different corner of the living room. That's it. (Whew!) Though, to be honest, there were four or five other things I hurriedly told her I would be painting/fixing/revitalizing so I could beat her to the punch.
We'll wait, though, to list our house and sign her up as our realtor in ten more days. I mean, we're 98% sure Tom will take that Richmond job--it's that 2 percent which says we have nothing in writing yet which makes us wait until the 15th when Tom has another meeting with the Powers That Be.
So anyway, Debra is giving herself a much-deserved two days off to loll around and rest a little and work even less (which sounds luxurious since annoying springtime allergies have invaded my poor, drippy head). These past two weeks have tested just about every word she ever scribbled into this blog and she needs to review where she went right, where she veered a little to the edge and where she totally careened off the road...
... so that in the weeks to come, she'll stay calmer and lots more full of faith and the kind of peace which never, ever goes away--even in the midst of working like a person with a real job(!) to prepare a house to sell. When you crave peace like Debra does, you make adjustments in order to keep it.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
You perhaps noticed I took a tiny blogging break. I've been trying to turn this house into one grand, cozy place which various families will argue over because they all desire to buy it so much.... heh...
All these unfinished details! I'm learning, well, relearning, how tiring procrastination can be when you must finish all those tasks you put-off for years. It's funny that you grow to accept undone things, walk past them for some months and then just not see them anymore. But it's no longer humorous when they must all be finally completed in just two weeks.
But now that 7-inch piece of molding needs to be put up in the dining room and that peeling patch on the bathroom ceiling needs to be sanded and painted and the guest room needs to be emptied of junk and the front flower beds must be finished and bordered the right way, not Debra's haphazard way. Etc, etc., etc. And all by Saturday when the realtor comes.
So anyway. Through all this patching and fixing and painting, I've remained sane and peaceful (well, mostly) because of a certain understanding of faithfulness. During my early life I believed faithfulness meant seeing what you started through to completion--doing something good even when you were exhausted and didn't feel like doing it. Working on whatever it was every single day of your life until you became good at it and/or finished it.
And well, faithfulness can mean those things, of course.
But there's another kind of faithfulness I prefer and that's the faithfulness to do whatever God is asking me to do--or not do--today. A faithfulness regarding just obedience for Today. There's a faithfulness where I listen to his 'flight plan' in the morning and just obey Him, even if what He says makes no sense. Even if He says, "Take a break from your blog," and my head is asking, "But won't I lose readers that way? Won't I appear unfaithful to blogging, the writing process or the caring that my readers have something when they click here?"
But it's a different kind of faithfulness when I follow God's voice and not the driven voice of my it's-always-got-to-be-a-certain-way head. And there's a voice of the world which has it's own thoughts about being faithful to a thing, as opposed to a Person--and what that faithfulness should look like.
But God's ways are not my ways and they're certainly not the world's ways, either. God's ways are balanced, non-overwhelming and don't send me over the edge into craziness because I drove myself beyond my capabilities, strength and sanity. God's ways don't shove me over into a stressful, frustrating race down the path to complicated insanity or uncomplicated grouchiness.
God's ways give me a break. Since He created me, God knows exactly how much I can handle and He provides Grace for every task and project He gives me--but only for those--not for the ones I dream-up or careen into because I could not say no... because I thought my ways were better or appeared more faithful to all people watching.
I've had to relearn and unlearn much from my early days, but the unlearning and relearning has led me to a much calmer, more fruitful--and faithful--daily place. A place where, amazingly, I get more accomplished with less time and energy because God's ways are wise ways... He makes every move count... He knows what's on the agenda for tomorrow, letting me know today what to do to prepare for those surprises.
Now, if I'd just stop procrastinating all those hints!
"For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."