Wednesday, October 31, 2007


You have strange thoughts when your father passes away. At least, I've had them.

My dad would have loved his memorial service. The church was nearly full of relatives and friends, and kind and funny memories where shared from the aisles before the service and from the microphone later. We sang his favorite hymns and the pastor shared a message with an altar call, even. At the end, a recording was played of my dad singing The Holy City thirty years ago, and well, if you hadn't cried before, you cried then, I'm certain. A dinner came afterward and we ate and talked with people we'd not seen in twenty years.

The service was recorded, filmed, and I kept wishing we could show my dad the film later. ("See, Dad? Wasn't that part funny? And wasn't it sweet what ____ said about you?") Tom, my mom and I talked the next morning and smiled while wondering if perhaps in Heaven you're shown the movie of your memorial service. Hey, you never know.

But even more, my dad would have loved the gatherings of us all for days in his home, the home he and my mom built themselves, the house with 200 clocks on walls and shelves. They'd only recently just completed remodeling their kitchen and I could still hear their happy chatter about it over the phone--they always sounded happiest in the middle of a building project, be it cabinets, floors or clocks. Yet he loved having company even more than he loved wood-working projects and there we all were, gathered around for hours at the table and in the living room. Laughing. Reminiscing about adventures great and small. Relaxing.

In fact, during our reminiscing stories in chairs throughout the house, I glanced around just in case I could see my dad sitting with us, too. He'd been so looking forward to visiting with us kids. My mind could barely fathom his not sitting in his recliner in the middle of us and now all the uncles, aunts and friends, also. In fact, not once have I thought of my dad as being 'dead' as I've thought of others that way. No, my mind only allows me to think of him as having relocated. To Heaven. (Very strange, but very real, that whole thing.)

Not until yesterday on the long, long flight home did I get a bit of healing closure on this. See, one quiet morning my mom and I sat at the table drinking some really great decaf coffee and I asked her what kind it was. She told me and then mentioned my dad had said to her, "While the kids are here next week, let's have some really good flavored coffee for them."

Oh my. I'd think about those words and cry every time. And there on the plane I told myself, "No! Don't let yourself think about that or you'll cry all your make-up off, you'll worry your fellow travelers and you'll look like a red-eyed, red-nosed zombie by the time you walk through the Buffalo airport."

And suddenly I remembered something... It was all the stories I've ever heard of people who visited Heaven just a tiny while, but were sent back because it wasn't their time to stay. Not once could I remember anyone wanting to come back here to Earth. And it was as though God told me right there on the plane that, quite frankly, my dad didn't want to come back to us. Even if he could return in a body all healed-up--even then--he'd choose to stay in Heaven.

And I knew that to be the truth. And although there's a tiny bit of hurt in that thought, there's a whole lot more comfort in it. My dad is having an amazing time in Heaven--he's visiting with Jesus. With family. He's visiting with all the people whose funerals he conducted... with all the people from the churches he pastored who arrived there before him... and he's experiencing the wonders only dwellers of Heaven know.

... and he wouldn't want to come back here and live, even if he could.

Amazing, amazing thought.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

We're home...

Our trip was a sort of best of times and worst of times thing. And although I don't recall being hit by a train, I rather feel like I was. I look like I was, too.

All those airports and bleary-eyed morning flights.... all those eternal hours of driving in sometimes-crazy traffic... all the jet lag and the snack food and the emotions pegged all across the board... and seeing my mom standing alone for pretty much the first time ever. And the annoying cold I had all week. Well, all of it, everything, caught-up to me last night in the motel room (after passing a man who resembled my dad) and I found myself in the shower bawling silent sobs.

And yet the good times were many. The visiting with relatives and old friends not seen for twenty years. The laughter while sitting in circles in my parents' living room while story after story was shared by my two uncles and an older friend of my parents. My favorite story came from the meek, older friend who described taking a special eye test at the DMV and was nagged over and over by the woman behind the desk to stop using his left eye to read the plate. He kept telling her he wasn't using it, couldn't use it, because it's a plastic eye. But she kept getting after him, so he pulled the eye out and said, "See?". heh. (Turns out there was a mix-up with the eye chart plates in the viewer.) We all wiped away tears of laughter.

Well, anyway.... I only have a moment now and I just wanted you to know I'm home. I'll be sharing more about our trip and my dad's memorial service over the next two days.

Thanks so very much for your prayers.... We could feel them and we needed them so much.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Nearly On Our Way


Well, here's my last post for a few days. Tom and I will be flying out to Oregon tomorrow... We're due at our local Buffalo airport by 5 in the morning (big sigh about the early hour).

Fortunately I began feeling better yesterday afternoon--I even arose from the couch, spilling blankets and kleenex and McCartney The Cat, then mowed the lawn in a very light rain. But it had to be done and it felt wonderful to have energy again. Thanks so much for your prayers! Keep praying, though... as of this moment I've still not packed one single thing.

I spoke with my mom again yesterday and she's doing well, all things considered. She mentioned that my dad's oldest friend, Bob, might not make it for the memorial service on Sunday because his home was, last she heard from him, only ten minutes away from one of the San Diego fires. Any prayer for him and his wife would be appreciated, as well. His first wife passed away a few years ago... I remember as a child visiting them and she would make the best spaghetti in the world, thus spoiling me for life.

When my sister called to tell me of my Dad's passing, she ended the call by saying he'd really, really been looking forward to seeing us. It occurred to me today that he's still looking forward to seeing us. Knowing him as I do, I'm certain that right this moment he's as impatient as a person can be in Heaven to be joined by the remainder of his family so we can see what he has seen. He always could barely wait to share good things with his family and friends.


***
P.S. My comments will be suspended only while I'm away... Didn't want to return to a comment box filled with spam or other cute things. :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007



So guess who feels like her head was raced over by a train?

Ugh. I came down with a cold yesterday and felt feverish and extremely contagious all day. And so far this morning hasn't been a picnic, either.

It's a good thing Tom was unable to get earlier tickets Sunday afternoon out to California (he tried for hours,even mentioning the bereavement thing. People didn't seem to care.). I would have just infected all those relatives and old friends of the family I've not seen in twenty or more years. I hardly think they'd appreciate that.

Lately I've tried to stay so healthy and filled with vitamin C because of all the stress of the past few months. I so didn't want to get sick. Oh well. All those natural remedies I've been studying have come in handy because I'm so not going to take medicine. I mean it... after all that has happened, more than ever, I'm determined to live a whole other way than most people, which means avoiding pills. Well, pills other than vitamin pills.

And if I sound rather cranky, just chalk it up to this cold, a lack of sleep, the aforementioned train-raced-over-my-head and all I am facing at this moment. (Which is my apology of sorts.)

Again, a special thanks to each of you for your comments and emails... they are so very much appreciated. And pul-ease keep the prayers coming.........

Monday, October 22, 2007


I thank you so very much for your kind, understanding and sympathetic comments to my last post. Each one has meant more than you know during this trying time.

Rather than attempting a new post(I hardly slept last night), I'll just include the following one, a post I wrote years ago, one which will tell you a little about my dad. How he was always willing to help people in need, convenient or not, in season or out...


***

"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." ... Hebrews 13:2

I was 16. My family was gathered around the dinner table one rainy Wednesday night along with our pastor and his wife--at that time, my dad was the assistant pastor of our church. The phone rang toward the end of our meal, so my dad answered it to find that a woman was calling from a damp phone booth in a shopping center two blocks away. She sounded anxious as she told my dad she and her young daughter were traveling to go live with her (the mother's) father. She'd thought they'd reach his home by nightfall yet still they had miles to go-- she needed a place to stay overnight, and she had no money.

My dad asked her to hold for a minute, then he turned to all of us and told us this woman's story. Our pastor said, "Oh, you can call Brother ______ about it. I usually let him take care of things like that."

That sounded odd to me. Shouldn't we help this woman since she called us? (Living in the parsonage, we shared the church's phone number.) Wouldn't it take a long time to get her some help if she had to make another call and start all over with someone who lived farther from the shopping center than we did?

My dad must have thought that, too, because he told our pastor he would drive over to the shopping center and lead her back to our house. He turned back to the phone, relayed the message to the woman in the phone booth, and hung up. We'd finished dinner anyway and our pastor and his wife needed to walk up the hill to our church to prepare for the mid-week service. So they left, my dad left to guide the woman to our house, and my mom, sister and brother and I hurriedly cleared the table and changed the sheets on the double bed in my room upstairs which always doubled as the guest room.

We kids loved to have company. It didn't matter whether our guests were relatives, old friends, or the down-and-out folks my dad sometimes brought home from Life's harsh highways (one traveling teen even arrived with a huge doberman pinscher when I was 14). In fact, I loved caring for the down-and-outers best--I loved that we could provide a comfortable place for them, if just for one night. To help them, to encourage them, with no strings attached, well, it just made my heart feel as though it would explode from joy.

To shorten this story, the woman and her 7-year-old daughter arrived and we showed them my room upstairs where they'd be staying. They both appeared grateful, commented on my lime-green room and teen decor, then they settled-in while the rest of us walked downstairs. We'd all planned to go to the midweek service that night, but after some discussion, it was decided that I would remain at the house in case our guests needed anything (back then, we weren't as paranoid about strangers as we all are now). So the rest of my family walked up our backyard hill to the church and I settled down with my English Lit. homework in our living room.

Fifteen minutes passed then the woman and her daughter came down the stairs with their big suitcase. The mother said, with smiles, "My daughter really wants to go see her grandfather tonight instead of in the morning. So we're going to go now, but we do want to thank you so much for being willing to have us stay with you. We really appreciate it so much and please do tell your parents how grateful we are."

She gently shook my hand, picked up her suitcase and then both mother and daughter stepped out the front door.

I was surprised at this turn of events and I just stood near the door wondering if it would be ok with my parents that I let these guests get away so soon without convincing them to stay.

And then it hit me--after they'd left, I'd heard no car motor start up. Their car had been parked in front of our house, yet I'd seen no headlights. My heart began to pound as I stepped to the window, pulled back the curtain and saw nothing out on the dark, wet street.

To this day thirty years later, I still believe what I told my family when they stepped through our door that night after church-- that we had entertained angels unaware. And my story must have sounded convincing, because they all still believe it, too.

Each of us will never know.... we'll never really know until we reach heaven, perhaps, just how many angels crossed our path to test what we had learned and what we had become...

.. and yet if we cooperate with God in the little annoying trials of Every Day, we will always be willing and prepared for any angels who may call.

Sunday, October 21, 2007



My family can really use your prayers right now.

My sister called a few minutes ago, and well, my dad passed away this morning.

It was sudden... his lungs had filled with fluid (they think now it was pneumonia and his weakened heart couldn't handle it)... the ambulance came, worked over him, but were unable to help.

The doctors had said he had at least three months left... Immediately, we made our plans to fly out there upon hearing that news. In fact, my parents even wished we could come a few days later than when we're planning to come since my brother had planned to arrive after the 1st of November. So we could all be together as a family. But they understood that life doesn't always line up like that and were fine with the fact we were arriving on this Thursday.

My sister lives in their town and she even emailed me last night and there was no sense of urgency in her words. And so often in the past, I've even sensed when my parents were simply going to call me. I've known ahead things like that concerning them. But today there was none of that. This is a shock, all around, even for my mom who constantly cared for my dad (he'd been improving lately). Tom said maybe it was a sign it was just my dad's time... and God wanted him home... to spare him from the darker side of Parkinson's.

Mostly, besides being sad and shocked, I am so upset with doctors right now. How they couldn't even accurately diagnose how long my dad had left and too often, they couldn't even decide what was currently wrong with him. They had my dad on so many medications over the years, med's which only caused more problems, which then required more med's. And for years my dad was in pain, even sometimes praying to die and go to Heaven.

It's been so hard knowing how to pray for someone who is praying to die.

My dad was a Baptist minister for many years. And do you know what his favorite verse has always, always been? It's the one which says, "Eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love Him."

And now, during his first hours in Heaven--he sees... he hears... he knows what is kept from all of us until we cross over into that place God has prepared. And I'm positive it's all beyond what he ever imagined.

My dad's sister, my Aunt Marian, went to that place only ten months ago. I told you about her here and here. And I described to you how I could almost see my grandparents, my Aunt Marion and my Uncle Ray at an outdoor table in bright light sitting, drinking amazing coffee and laughing. Well, just now I realize all along there's been an empty chair at that table, one ready, waiting for my dad.

And now I see him there, too.

Take Me Away.... Please



Man. Oh man. Oh man. Now I've done it. Made myself crazy. Nuts. Impossible to live with.

Remember when I told you here that I now wanted to move to Mayberry, er, Mt. Airy, NC? Well, I found this house (above) there this morning online. Four bedrooms. A fireplace. Two-and-a-half acres in the country. A stable(!) It's a foreclosure and only $53,000. And the taxes are--get this--just $325.

Three-hundred-twenty-five dollars? Do you know what our taxes are here? Our house is assessed at less than $80,000, but our taxes (after the STAR discount thingy) are $3,250. Three-thousand-two-hundred-and-fifty dollars.

Can you spell R-o-b-b-e-r-y?

I am sooo tired of living in my present town. It's as though all the Grace to dwell here seeped away weeks ago and I cannot get it back. We drive past all these houses squeezed together and I nearly begin hyperventilating out of claustrophobia. I take my daily walks and--unless we've had rain--gas fumes surround me and even cigarrette smoke as well(!) (Ever taken a half-hour walk while attempting to hold your breath??). Not to mention that during my last two walks, three big dogs have come running at me. Grr. Yesterday an 11-year-oldish boy stood near his van, he'd left his gate open, and his huge white lab came charging me, growling, and touched my gloved hand with his nose. I looked at the boy, not the dog, and said, "Can you, like, get him away from me?" The boy said 'sorry' and led the dog back into his yard.

It's the tiny things like having my hand nearly bitten that which are making me insane.

So oh my goodness.... I've longed to just get away from it all... All these houses piled on top of each other and the gas fumes and the monster dogs... And when I saw that house, I thought--that's it! The perfect place. I could just walk laps around my own land and skip all the charging dogs. And just think... It's even on the borders of Mayberry.

Er, I mean Mt. Airy.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Revisiting The Scale (or Sweet Revenge)



So. Do you remember my post where I described weighing myself on the old-fashioned-looking scale at our local mall? You know, where I was horrified when it told me I weighed ten more pounds than our home scale said I weighed?

Well, that was exactly five weeks ago and yesterday, having nothin' to do since I'm in this waiting-to-move zone, I determined to drive back over to that horrid scale and show it a thing or two. The shock I'd received last month was enough to motivate me to stop playing around and actually lose some weight. To get serious.

So in the rain, I drove to the mall, marched straight to the scale in the dark hallway, slipped my quarter into the slot and waited nervously for the digital numbers to appear. And guess what? I weighed five whole pounds less than what I'd weighed before.

And then I, sneering, laughed at that scale and thought, "Take that! ... you horrible metallic tattle-tale. I showed you!"

Man, God has worked with me on a whole list of attitudes, habits and wrong ways of thinking these past 13 years, but obeying Him in the way I eat and exercise has been the hardest thing of all.

The HARDEST thing of all.

There I said it... mostly so some of you will know you are not alone.

But finally I've found something which at least helps--not hinders--and it's this going organic thing. This thing of staying away from fast-food and foods with things like high fructose corn syrup. All of which have ingredients which block your brain's ability to feel full (as Dr. Oz on Oprah said. I've learned a lot from Dr. Oz, as well.).

Anyway, if you won't give-up, I won't either. I still have miles to go in this area, but at least now, the more I educate myself, it doesn't seem as difficult. Finally, the light's are appearing at the end of this eternally-long tunnel.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dealing with Disappointment


Years ago I began learning this: If you can't deal with disappointment, you're gonna have a real hard life.

So true.

I mean, like in August when we put our house up for sale, here's what I imagined: Within a couple weeks, we'd have 2 or 3 couples out on the front lawn arguing and fighting over our house. "We got here first!," someone would shout. "No, we did! And we're gonna buy this house! We love it with all our hearts," someone else would say with clenched fists.

heh. Ok, so maybe that's an exaggeration.

And then by December 1st, Tom and I would be trekking our merry way down to Richmond to the pretty house on a huge, peaceful lot we'd bought and Tom would carry me over the threshold. (Now there's a huge exaggeration.)

But things haven't quite worked out like that. No one's been out on the lawn having a tug of war over our house--we've not even received any offers. Although we've come close twice and too, last night we had a very promising showing(!) But even if we sell the house today, still, because we live in good ol' New York, escrow, barring a miracle, will take two long months to close. Good-bye driving down to Richmond on December 1st. (Not to mention the powers-that-be who are hiring Tom have so much on their plate right now with other projects, that they keep pushing back this month's meeting with him... and back.... and back... and the snow keeps looming closer...)

So, see what I mean about dealing with disappointment? And this is only half of what I'm facing now. But I know how vital it is to remain positive and overflowing with faith. To trust God no matter how things appear. To not allow my mouth to ramble any ol' negative, doubt-filled, hopeless junk it wants. The power of life and death are in the tongue, just as the Bible says. I believe that. I've seen it work for both life and death.

And if I'm going to stroll around preaching that to others, I'd sure better be preaching it to myself, first--and acting on it.

It's so good for me to be disappointed sometimes. It helps me remember that God knows best-- I certainly don't. It helps me remember that, ultimately, I'm not in control of much in this life. Often, disappointment has humbled me.

So am I disappointed? Ok, a tad. But I'm encouraging myself in the Lord as King David did, reminding myself that God certainly knows what He's doing, my life is in His hands so I'd better not go leaping out of those hands into my own plans and desperate quick-fixes...

...for I don't want to have to apologize to Him down the road because I panicked and forgot all that. Been there, done that, way too many times already and I so desire to finally grow past it.


***

"...for we walk by faith, not by sight..."

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength..."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Making Changes


I keep reminding myself that God's timing is always perfect. I've had to because these past few weeks it feels as though He's gonna be quite late with the selling of our house. And with our moving. (Have you ever moved out-of-state in the snow? ugh.)

Yet I can recall His timeliness in my life... here's a recent example: The way He convicted me to totally change the way I eat/live and even breathe just this past July. Greatly because of those switches, I've been able to handle the stress I'm now facing much better. That, and my having developed the habit of spending time with God and hanging-out with Him consciously all the hours of my days.

Since July I've felt so much better physically! I read some blogs now whose authors staunchly defend their right to their disease... to feel bad... to complain about people who try to help... and well, I feel sorry for them. But usually I leave no comments there unless I sense an openness to change, otherwise I'm just wasting my computer time.

So for those of you who may be feeling physically blech-o most days, here are some of the changes I've made. Just in case any of them may help. Just in case you are open to making a few changes out of desperation:

1. I--mostly--avoid processed (man-made) foods. I'm also avoiding fast-food places.

2. If a label has one or more of these ingredients, I leave it on the shelf: sugar, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, salt, carageenan (seaweed) or any word I cannot pronounce.

3. I try to stick with only organic foods-- foods grown without chemicals, pesticides, hormones or antibiotics. I'm learning which foods my poor ol' head (and body) can no longer handle, even the seemingly healthy stuff like wheat, oatmeal, milk, etc. And if I have real coffee, it's only a teensy-tiny bit, say, one-fourth cup once a week. (I know....big sigh...)

4. I don't eat foods or drink liquids from microwave ovens.

5. I avoid all artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame (Nutra Sweet). I use Stevia, instead, (it's been around hundreds of years) and occasionally a little sugar. If a recipe calls for a cup of sugar I use a packet of Stevia (or two) and maybe a tablespoon of real (organic) sugar.

6.I walk at least one-half hour most days (and am working up to more). I also do stretching exercises daily, mostly to strengthen my back.

7. I stay away from non-prescription drugs. I'm searching in a variety of books for natural cures, taking notes, making lists.

8. I've stopped using cologne (chemicals, chemicals, chemicals). I use laundry/cleaning products without perfumes and dyes and ones which won't harm the environment or myself (or I'm slowly getting there, anyway).

8. If the news or newspapers upset me, I avoid them. If I have the Grace to still remain peaceful after seeing/reading the news, I'll take them in small doses.

9. I listen to tranquil music. I forgive people. I let things go (or confront issues only when I'm given the Grace to do so). I'm learning about the differences between being alkaline and acidic on the inside of my body--how foods and attitudes affect both.

Something else I've learned? When God convicts me to make changes, He provides all I need to make those changes. The money. The books--and the time to research them. The right information. The right people. The right products. The strength, ability and willingness to make the changes.

After all, God is not a big tease or tempter. If He wants us to do a thing, He makes a way where there is no way. Count on it.


***

P.S. Now, am I doing all of this stuff perfectly? Uh, no. But I'm aiming toward it and just by making a beginning I've noticed huge differences in the way I feel.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Question of the Day


I added my post, below, this morning and then thought, "I wonder if anyone has actually found the new Victoria Magazine in a store yet? I've only heard from ladies who've received them inside their mailbox."

So has anyone, as of today, seen a copy of Victoria on a store rack? This morning I searched our local large chain supermarket, but saw nothing... and well, I'd rather not chase all over town if it would only be a fruitless search.

And a special thanks to Mari-Nanci for posting a few pictures from the current issue. Appears very reminiscent of the best of the old days of Victoria...yay!

***
P.S. Ok, I just found out from my friend, Betty, that Victoria is due out on the stands on October 30th. Hmm... I'm hoping I can find it on the 29th, though, since we're flying back from California on the 30th, early I think. But wouldn't that be a great thing--to fly back home with a brand new issue of Victoria to keep my mind off of the flying in a plane part?!

Oh, and if you've received your copy, what did you think?

Enjoying the Empty Nest



Just thought I'd run this one again for any of my fellow empty-nesters who are new to my blog. Enjoy your day!

***
Lots of women in Blogland are approaching the empty nest. I'll admit it--it's a wild time... a sad and scarey time and yet it's a marvelous, re-awakening time, too. But basically, an empty nest will always be what we, ourselves, make it. It doesn't have to be horrible, but it can be, if we so choose.

But I so choose to make my empty nest the marvelous kind... and it's that type of nest which I want to spread around to those of you who are about to enter one.

Below are just some suggestions of how to make the empty nest phase into a fun, all-things-made-new phase. I'll bet you can think of a hundred more ideas, but this is just to get you started.

Rebuilding Your Empty Nest:

1. Think "now I can do some of what I've always wanted to do, but couldn't." Think 'anticipate' not 'dread.' Think 'a beginning' and not 'the end.'
2. Go back to school and get your degree.
3. Use your computer and your city library to become an expert in an area you've always wished you knew more about.
4. Redecorate a few rooms in your house. Study the art of home decoration and the use of color. Help friends decorate their own homes.
5. Plant a garden ( a container garden counts, too). Study and learn all you can about making things grow.
6. Become a volunteer anywhere help is needed in your community.
7. Write a book.
8. Become an excellent photographer. Enter some photography contests or just share your photos online.
9. Begin a collection of something you've always loved. Go treasure hunting at junk shops and yard sales.
10. Make scrapbooks with all those family photos you've been meaning to organize.
11. Make the most of having a freer schedule. Leave earlier and shop before the crowds are out. Or stay out later and have fun without worrying that the kids are home wondering where you are.
12. Volunteer at church.
13. Get into shape. Walk with a friend each day or start a support group for others who wish to get healthy.
14. Take lunch to the beach or to a park. Have picnics with your spouse or with yourself and a good book.
15. Organize your home. Start with one room at a time and get rid of the clutter you've been meaning to toss for years.
16. Read all those books you've never had time to read before.
17. Join online email groups who share your same interests. Or start one.
18. Regularly visit a house-bound neighbor. Take her little surprises.
19. Become an expert chef. Create a custom-made cookbook. Enter cooking contests.
20. Create the incredible home library you've always wanted. Search used bookstores and places like www.Bookfinder.com and www.Amazon.com for favorite books and dvd's. Organize them alphabetically so you can easily share them with your friends.
21. Start a tea party group in your home which meets once or twice a month, taking turns in each other's homes. The group can occasionally go on 'field trips', also, to fun places.
22. You've paid for lessons for your children, how about taking your turn now? How about taking lessons in singing or dancing or rollerskating or writing or?
23. Use this time to get to know God better. Sit with Him on your sunny porch each day or go out for coffee with Him. Listen to Him. Learn from Him. Enjoy Him.
24. Enjoy Life!

And if it's having children around your home that you miss:

25. Become a Big Sister/Big Brother to a child who needs a friend.
26. Volunteer at local schools or Vacation Bible School.
27. Babysit, but not with the old attitude. Instead, see it as 'grandparent practice' and enjoy the kids you care for. Take them places, cook with them and teach them the things a grandparent might teach them.
28. Start an after school or summer program for kids in your neighborhood. Have them meet in your backyard to play games, make crafts, have snacks and have stories read to them, etc.
29. Start a neighborhood children's library in your home. Spend time setting up an organized library, complete with cards to sign books out and little prizes for your own summer/winter reading program.

The possibilites truly are endless!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

So That's Why!


So, like, I'm reading my daughter's copy of Kevin Trudeau's book, Natural Cures They Don't Want You To Know About.

Now, don't have a cow. I like this book. In fact, after Naomi found this at a yard sale in July and then read it, she came over here and shared much of the information. And that's when Tom and I began the Going Organic Journey. The timing was, well, perfect.

Anyway, no--I don't believe every single word of this book. Mostly, I'm afraid to believe parts of it, especially what he says about water and the dangers of even bathing in it, not to mention what swimming in chlorinated water can do to ya (made me thankful I never got that swimming pool I've craved for 30 years).

But here's a paragraph I very much believe because I've experienced it all my life:

"Every person emits electromagnetic energy. A person's thoughts are also electromagnetic energy. The human body, especially the brain, is a very powerful transmitter and receiver of electromagnetic energy, This is why you feel good around some people and bad around others. Have you ever noticed that when certain people walk into a room, you can "sense" their presence? There are methods which have not been accepted by the scientific community, which show the electromagnetic field around people and things. These technologies show the positive and negative effects of electromagnetic energy."

For my entire life, I've been sensitive to all that stuff. I've felt uncomfortable around negative people (even on their good days) and many times, I've been able to read their thoughts--to a point--especially when those thoughts are directed toward me. How have I known some of those thoughts were real? Because often the people, themselves, ended up 'spilling the beans' and telling me, usually after a few hours, days, or months. But no matter how a negative person feels about me, I've still always, always had difficulty spending long amounts of time in their company. The discomfort is too much.

And of course, I've felt the good energy coming from positive people, as well, and have always been drawn to them. I've always believed thoughts are powerful--they can make us physically sick or help us view the whole world an entirely better, brighter way.

I was so glad to read that paragraph today. For years I've tried to explain to Tom my feelings and the weird way I can--once in awhile-- appear to read peoples' minds, but I've mostly just pushed it off as a sort of 'womanly intuition' type of thing.

But Kevin's explanation makes better sense. To me, anyway. And I'm not even sure why I'm sharing this, but perhaps it will help ease someone else's mind, as well.


***

Anyone know what I mean?

Hebrews 3:1
Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Probably a bazillion times lately I've had to grab myself by the scruff of the neck... I've reminded myself that Philippians 4:8 does NOT say:

"Finally, brothers, whatever is worthy of worry, whatever is negative, whatever is going all wrong, whatever is bothering you, whatever is unfair, whatever is likely to fall apart--if anything is messed-up or just not happening the way you planned it--think about such things."

Heh.

Over and over during the moments of these autumn days I've had to jerk my mind around and face it in the opposite direction. The direction facing faith and trust and calmness and contentment.

I hear better in calmness. I can see better, too, when my head isn't spinning. It's in quietness and calmness that I'll find my strength... and instructions for the ways to travel.

And when I can stop complaining for a second it comes to me that this is His day and one I'm supposed to rejoice in. I tell myself, "But it's hard to rejoice when my life is up in the air. It's hard to just relax and trust." Then it strikes me--the more I'm whining 'it's hard,' the more likely I'm trying to do these things in my own strength--leaving Grace somewhere 'out there' by herself, shaking her head and wishing I'd just lean on her instead of myself.

Now, if I can just remember that 24/7 in the midst of these storms...


***

If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength! ... Proverbs 24:10

I'm still here...

I think Tom and I are getting old. I mean, we have a couple favorite diners in town now and it's high entertainment for us to eat breakfast at either. And well, isn't that what old people do? But whatever, my favorite diner has a long framed sketch of Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin eating at a diner counter. I stare at that and feel as though those funny, long-gone men are actually inside the room eating with us. And too, at that diner there's a waitress who reminds me so much of one of my oldest friends, a friend I've not seen in 19, or so, years. Always I come away feeling as though I've spent time with her (though I keep forgetting to email her about this waitress).

Speaking of forgetting, I really should step up my consumption of fish and fish oil tablets because my memory is, well, deplorable lately. In fact, this weekend I searched online for a list of pre-menopausal symptoms and when I saw that yes! forgetfulness was on the list, I woo-hoo'ed loudly enough for all the neighbors to hear. And breathed a breath of relief.

Everything in my life is still up in the air, and well, we're wondering (truth be told) if we're really meant to move to Richmond after all. The Grace seems to be seeping away, let's just say. But oh well... we'll see. We are so in the one-day-at-a-time mode and in a way, it's becoming more comfortable. But in other ways and on some days, well, not so much.

Stay tuned.

Friday, October 12, 2007

So It's Lipstick Now?


Oh great. Now lipstick is poisonous. Well, lots of them have lead inside them.

Is anyone else as tired of all this as I am? Lead in toys and paint and gas and window sills and the dirt and etc., etc.?

I guess I'm not so much tired of hearing all this bad news, but I am tired of worrying about it. I mean, hey... I've only used lipstick for a mere, oh, 32 years, or so... what's there to worry about? (argh)

So as with everything else, this will just be another thing which I will research and learn about and then make necessary, informed changes. After which I'll trust God for some extra mercy and protection from this world I'm stuck in at the moment. (Just this morning I was thinking it's a miracle that any of us reaches the age of 50, given how polluted and dangerous our world appears to be.)

I mean, what's a girl to do? Go without lipstick? Uh, not this girl.

And she's not going to sit around adding lipstick to her list of Things To Worry About. She's been trying to keep that list very, very short and well, there's just no room for something this small.


***

P.S. Speaking of worries.... I have a correction to make. The five discs in Tom's back which are messed up are herniated, not ruptured. I thought I had that info. straight, but alas, no. Herniated discs aren't as serious as ruptured ones... they can wait awhile to be taken care of.

... and if you can't see the photos in my sidebar, that's nothing to worry about, either. Well, I hope not. Villagephotos.com occasionally has little blips. (Note to self: stop worring that they closed down and forgot to tell you.)

Estate Sales for Non-Vultures


An autumn rerun! It's been a few years since I first posted this and since Tom and I may go to an estate sale today (haven't heard if there's one nearby, but hey, you never know) I thought I'd share this once more. This time of year I'm all 'yard-saled-out', but the decorator and romanticist inside me never tires of estate sales.

***

Estate sales here back East should be advertised as Time Tunnel Trips. I tell Tom that I go to estate sales with him to tour the old houses, not really to buy anything. He sort-of understands that.

I shouldn't even go at all. I come away from these much-loved, non-altered, early 1900's houses and then it takes hours to shake the house lust from my heart. When I walk up the stairs of these old farmhouses, American Foursquares or Victorians, I'm catapulted into dreams normally reserved for nighttime. You know, the type where you wander around in a large, strange house opening doors and stepping into rooms you never realized were there.

Well, it's like that.

Usually I don't even see the knick-knacks displayed with price tags upon tables. And I pay little attention to the estate sale 'vultures' as I not-so-fondly call them, the harried, non-reverential people out to discover re-sell-able bargains. No, I wander zombie-like from floor to floor soaking up the pleasant vibes reverberating from the walls. The leftover aura from years-now-gone when housekeeping was a respected art and a happy family was all that mattered.

Through dreamy-dazed eyes I see yellow kitchens with their original glass-fronted cabinet doors (if there's an ironing board cupboard or a breakfast nook, it takes me days to recover). There's often green and red wooden-handled utensils beside the rainbow of Fiestaware and rolling pins. I think about the hands, now stilled, which used those things as I step through pocket doors and wander through the three-windowed dining room, barely scanning the dishes and embroidered linens on the covered table. No, I choose to peek into the cute little closet with the file cabinet and childrens' drawings beneath the stairs and the closet made into a library.

Sometimes there's a music room/ sewing room with a piano and a closeted sewing machine desk. I look at the old sheet music and the walls almost echo with a family singing. The sconces over the fireplace, the overstuffed chairs from the 1950's, the books in the built-in cases where they've been sitting for eons~~my eyes miss none of it.

By now I'm lost in nostalgia and feeling transported, alone, though the vultures are rushing fast-motion up the stairs past me. But I creep up slowly, touching the rail which the woman of the house must have touched twelve-thousand times. At the top, there are green and sky-blue taffeta formals hanging over bedroom doors with striped hat boxes just below. The bedrooms are painted pink, robin's egg blue or are wall-papered in stripes and have fuzzy worn carpet, the largest has a little bay-window-room where there are two chintz-covered chairs beside a table spread with vintage magazines and sepia-toned photos in gold dime store frames. And vintage clothes stuffed into closets. And a sea foam green chenille bedspread upon the bed.

Usually by the time I cross the hall, I'm wondering if people will walk through my home like this when I am gone.

There are 1940's toys in the attic and piles and piles of books, games and dress-up clothes. And a baby walker, the old kind with red, blue and green far-from-hygienic wooden beads. It's in the attic where I usually wonder if anyone helping with this estate sale once played with these toys as a child or if they were the ones who used flour-and-water paste in the scrapbooks in the corner.

I usually save the basement for last, because they push me over the edge. Basements, that is. Not the vultures (though they have been known to get rough). Often the basement is tiled 1950's style and there's an old kitchenette complete with enameled stove, refrigerator and a wringer washer. And a couch from the 1960's, oil paintings, a bar and paneled walls. I imagine teen parties in the days of Buddy Holley and Elvis~~it's impossible not to see all that in my mind.

If I buy anything before my return to this decade, it's usually just a trinket, a souvenir, maybe a small black ceramic elephant. I purchase it to remind me of a walk through a house and all the lovely visions I had there. Just a little something to help me recall a family, especially a woman, who I'll never know,a woman with an unknown story, who lived out her married-life in one house, with one man. And who I am almost certain, did so happily.


*****

Tuesday, October 09, 2007



Sometimes, like now, I cannot be alone enough. The day doesn't hold enough hours for me to get my fill of being by myself.

I know, that sounds, well, odd. But it's what I was thinking just now while sitting at our dining room table, reading, pausing at times to gaze out the windows to stormy skies.

I hope you don't think it's a bad thing, this craving whole days of aloneness. Actually, I've learned to recognize it as a healing time, a preparation time, a strengthening time. My days and months ahead will hold enormous changes, so God is preparing me and giving me an overflow of aloneness to draw from for the upcoming days when my pace will quicken and I'll be far away in unfamiliar places. And most likely, praying for some minutes alone.

I can fight these times, or I can hold them close. I can whine, "What will everybody else think?" or I can just enjoy the solitude, the silence and His breath at my ear.

Going where He is leading, well, always it's my choice. And when it's His will, there is always a way.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Face It: Life Is Always Changing


"To everything there is a season.... a time.... a purpose..."

You won't believe what I did yesterday. I sat on our couch and looked through the yellowed, splattered cookbooks we received as wedding gifts (way back yonder) and some I bought soon after. I tore out my favorite recipes, slipped the pages into clear plastic sleeves, then placed them in the cookbook I'm creating of my most useful recipes.

Then I threw my old cookbooks away.

Oh, now don't go hyperventilating, or anything. I'm keeping the cookbooks I've bought in recent years from estate sales, ones from the 1920's and a smattering of others which are just plain fun to read even when I've no intention of actually cooking anything.

But yes, it was a big deal getting rid of those others I've used for the nearly 29 years of my marriage. But we are moving... we're downsizing and trying to keep the weight of our stuff down to an affordable minimum moving-van-wise.

But more--we are beginning a whole new season. And that requires changes to be made and things and stuff to be let go of.

It's funny... People hear that "to everything there is a season" verse and they nod their heads and exclaim, "Yes! That's so true." But then....

... they refuse to move when God is nudging them to a different place...

... they stay angry at Life and God when their loved ones die...

... they go ballistic when someone confronts them about letting go of their clutter...

... they refuse to change their diet after they turn 40, even though they suffer for it...

... they cannot let go of their adult children and cannot understand when those same children--those adults--lash out...

... they live the same way they were living ten years ago and wonder everyday why they are not as happy as they were back then...

Well, as for me and my house, we are going through more changes all at once than we've ever faced before. And we are learning and relearning:

... to roll with the punches...

... to seek God--and His ways-- all day long in everything we do and think...

... and to want what He wants for us, even if it means letting go, moving on and facing a whole lot of the unknown.

Because the worst thing we can do is to stay behind when He is on the move. That scares me way more than any changes I may face.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Changed My Mind! Here's Where I Want to Move


Okay, so being a woman, I have the ol' perogative to change my mind. So I did.

Now I want to move to Mt. Airy, N.C.. 'Thelma Lou' from The Andy Griffith Show lives there now. You can read an extremely spiffy article about her adventure here.

Sign me up, too. Start loading the moving van. I am so there.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Go Ahead. Tell Me It's Impossible


Most of the time? I like it when people tell me a certain thing just cannot be done. That what I'm hoping to do is Impossible.

Why? Because it gets my blood bubbling. Suddenly I feel energized, able to conquer the world when I'm told that, for me, life will be just like it is for everybody else (sad, sickly, tiresome). Tell me that I can't do something and right away this will begin playing inside my head: "Impossible? Well, I'll show you!"

Heh. (I'll bet you didn't figure me for that kind of person, did you?)

Yet I've always been like that. Always. Mostly because since I was a tiny girl, I've believed God. Not just believed in God, but believed what He said in the Bible. That He could do anything He wishes. That He always provides what we need. That He can still heal people today. That nothing is too hard for Him. I believed all those things as a child, even while growing-up in churches which, much of the time, taught otherwise.

A cute example? I still recall, at 6-years-old, arriving home from church and standing beside my mom while she fumbled in her purse for her key to unlock the front door. She was very pregnant at the moment with my little brother and for the first time I wondered, "How did the baby get inside her in the first place?" And although my family had only recently begun attending church, immediately--immediately-- I thought, "Oh well, God understands all that. Maybe He's the one who places babies inside of mothers."

That personal example of childlike trust still makes me smile today. It still teaches me something, too.

It's good to outgrow some things, and trust me, I've outgrown a whole lot. But this believing God can do what He wants to do--and if He wants to help me, He will--well, I'm not planning on ever outgrowing that. Not ever.


***

Have some extra time to read something inspiring and sweet? Here's a true story I really, really enjoyed: A Life Without Left Turns.

"Birds fly in flocks, but eagles fly alone." ... Joyce Meyer

I'm still here... Some people race around telling everyone their problems, other people spend time alone to avoid talking about what's happening. I have always been of the latter camp. So if I don't write here much this month, don't worry--I'm just being me.

And too, I'm preparing for our trip out to California later this month to visit my parents. Tom got the plane tickets, but can you believe I won't be able to sit beside him all the way from New York City to Portland? Well, barring a miracle or a nice, understanding person who doesn't mind switching seats. Or is that illegal in today's world? (She asks, not being a frequent flyer... not being a frequent risker of life and limb. heh.)

God's been sitting beside me on the couch, nudging me, reminding me to count my blessings. And of course, He is always number one on that blessings list. It's amazing all the small things I've added to that list:

It's autumn, my favorite season
Our house is in nicer condition than ever, since we've been readying it to sell
At least it's not snowing
Our bills are all paid
Our daughter is healthy and happy
Things, all-around, could be much worse

...in fact, sadly, we were reminded of that last thing yesterday when we discovered Tom's co-worker's brother was killed in Florida this week in a road rage incident. His 12-year-old son was with him and is in critical condition and his mother (the man's wife) was just told she has only three years to live.

That certainly put things in perspective for me. Knocked some sense into me and a whole bunch of self-pity out of me. Big-time.

For the past year as Tom and I have taken country drives, sat in movie theaters and eaten breakfasts inside many old-fashioned diners, God has whispered to me, "Treasure these times while you have them. Appreciate them and store each detail inside your memory."

Well, you hear that kind of thing and it can make you panic and ask, "Why? Is there something dreadful looming just around the corner?" Yet I didn't ask that question, because I prefer to keep believing for the best. I refuse to even think our best years have been lived already. And besides, if I'm dreading the future it becomes impossible (for me) to treasure the present.

Anyway. I appreciate, so very much, all the comments you left after my last post. They've reminded me that God provides a way where there is no way. And trust me, that's one Bible verse which has been zipping around my head a whole lot lately. That one, and:

"You will keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you."

And right there is the challenge--to keep my mind on Him and not on the problem(s). To keep my mind in a peaceful place--a place of trust-- so I can more clearly hear from God as to what I should do in each situation as it arrives.


***

Romans 15:13
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the Holy Spirit."

Hebrews 11:1
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Thursday, October 04, 2007



Well, things just keep getting better and better around here. arghh.

Tom had an MRI last week and he just came home and told me the results. He has a six-inch long water-filled cyst in his spine (a spine which resembles a roller coaster due to his having had polio, etc.) and around 5 ruptured discs, as well. The doctor said no surgery is needed now, but someday...

Never before in our life have we faced so many tests at once. Most of me at this moment is just wanting Tom to retire so we can just buy a little homestead in some state where it doesn't snow, or have hurricanes or tornadoes and where real estate is still sane (anyone have any suggestions?). And then hide away from the world... and grow a garden, raise chickens and goats and a dog. And then see that Tom gets retrained for something less strenuous. Or maybe have a bed-and-breakfast inn. Or a guitar shop (we had one once). With a little book nook. Or all of the above.

I keep telling Tom that lots of people do that everyday. Lots of people make such huge changes around age 50. But when I have him almost convinced he keeps coming back to what about medical insurance for all the future surgeries he will need? What about how expensive it is when you're not getting insurance through your job? (I wish he'd check out other forms and types of insurance... some people have found sane companies which are not through their employer. Guess I'll have to check it out myself.)

Anyway.....

Any prayers would be appreciated. Any creative ideas would be appreciated, too, in my comment box. I'm open to just about anything at this moment. We'll just have to pray that Tom will be open to the right thing, too... whatever that right thing may be. As of this moment, I have no idea.


***
P.S. Tom's doctors told him they'd help him get on disability--they said there should be no real problem with his (very real) case. Tom sees that on the horizon--he'd just rather it not be this soon.

I don't have anything important to say today.

But Laura really does.

I hope you'll pop over to her blog and read her wonderful words.


***
P.S. Hmmm... I'm thinking that perhaps Laura's blog is password protected. I can't remember for sure (since my memory is so dreadful lately). If so, you'll just have to take my word for it ... her blog post really blessed me today.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Tom and I will most likely be flying out to see my parents at the end of this month... My dad is back in the hospital, it appears he has Parkinson's and little time left to remember us, and well, little time left...

So much of what I've written in this blog is now being put to the test and vast amounts of my life are more up in the air, unsettled, than ever. But you know? God has been preparing me for weeks, months, even years for these unsettled months. He's been keeping me close to His heart, stopping me in the middle of my days and calling me to come sit with Him so He can infuse me with the strength and courage and trust I'll need later. He knows all about later. He's so great at later.

And if I'm smart, I'll keep coming away with Him even when it would seem a better use of time to keep busy in certain situations... even when coming away seems like the slow way, the lazy way, the unproductive way.

Jesus knows best... always has... always will. And as long as I remain calm in His peace, everything will be all right. One way or another. Or yet another way still.

No Longer Trying to Be Good



No, really! I've stopped trying to be good. Why? Because it just doesn't work. For me, anyway.

When I try to be good, I am good for only a few hours. And then wham! I begin failing. I put-off paying our bills for a better(?) time-- and they get paid late. I veer off my healthy eating lifestyle (diet) and have wild cravings for all the bad stuff (and succumb). I lose my patience with people, forget to do the laundry and watch too much tv. And usually walk around with a mild day-long headache and plenty of condemnation on the side.

So now, I don't try to be good. I aim for obedience, instead.

In order to be obedient, I must listen to that still, small voice. And with that voice, comes Grace to do all the daily stuff. And wisdom to know when to do it--and what can wait. And strength and patience to see all things through to completion. And joy smack dab in the center of it all.

When I'm obedient, bills get paid on time. I stay on my diet (or awfully close to it). I nag and complain a whole lot less, the laundry gets done and I'm watching a sane amount of tv. And there is peace... a peace which passes all understanding. I'm in the right place at the right time, usually prepared with the right words, too. And did I mention I sleep better?

So today if you see a woman who is trying so very hard to be good, she won't be me.

I just thought I'd let you know.


***

"To obey is better than sacrifice..."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Moving On Out Of The State of Confusion

"Teach me your ways, oh Lord..."

You probably didn't know I once lived in the state of Confusion. I was big on on knowing things ahead of time and figuring everything out for myself and planning, arranging and being thought of as smart.

What a burden.

Instead of just deciding to go supermarket shopping, I'd think, "If I get there early, there will be fewer people. But wait! The workers won't have had time to re-stock the shelves if I go too early. Now, if I go later, I can get some housework done around here first, but I really wanted to make dinner early and I'd need groceries because the cupboards are bare. So when should I go buy groceries??"

(Can you say, "Complicating the simplest thing on Earth?")

If I broke something around the house I'd try figuring out when would be the best time to tell Tom. Right away? Tomorrow? Someday when he was in a good mood? Next month? Or just wait until he discovered it for himself?

If a friend didn't speak to me at church I'd wonder, "Did I do something wrong? Did I forget her birthday or anniversary or did I promise to do something and then not follow through? Could she be mad at what I said to her over the phone last week? Or did she just not see me today?"

(Whatever happened to just asking?)

There were whole years my entire life was like that. And I wondered why I didn't have any peace. Duh.

Now? I want God's ways, not mine. I want to know what He thinks I should do. I so don't want to figure things out--I just want to hear from Him.

There's a kind of pride in wanting to figure things out for myself. If I do get it right, then I can be a little proud of myself for doing so. As in, "*I* figured out what's going on. *I* saw what was actually happening... what God/others were thinking/doing/saying. No one else had to tell me, no, I put the pieces together all by myself."

There is no glory going to God in that *I* stuff. No, for me, there's only headaches and worry while trying to reason-out the future and trying to read people's minds. And complicating what was never meant to be complicated.

With this whole potential move to Richmond in the next few months, I could be making myself crazy if I wished. I could be trying to figure out how this will all go. When will this house sell? What if it doesn't sell? What if we have to rent something in Richmond awhile? And what if, while we're renting, all the best houses get sold?"

What if? What if? What if?

But I already lived in that state of Confusion. I refuse to return. Instead, I am choosing to listen to the One who knows all... the One with all the wisdom I'll ever need... and I'll leave all the headaches to Him.


***
1 Corinthians 14:33
"For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace..."