Thursday, November 29, 2007


My favorite Bible teacher has a saying which I love:

"What God orders, He pays for."

How comforting, indeed, and that can be applied in all sorts of ministry ways and just plain everyday ways, too.

Like today here in Debraville. Good gracious.

The only part of our house which didn't pass the inspection for the upcoming sale was our whole electrical breaker box. We were sent to a website for information about that kind/brand which pretty much said it was a piece of unsafe, dangerous junk.

We had it replaced today and, four chilly, electricity-less hours later, the electrician told us that yes indeedy, (shaking his head), our old breaker box had been a piece of unsafe, dangerous junk. He was amazed (I think) that the house (and we) were still standing.

Then he slapped down a bill for $1,625. Ouch. The estimate had been lower, but the 6 smoke alarms hadn't been added into it. Six! Nowadays, in our state, anyway, you must have one in each hall and in each bedroom. Tom and I try not to get upset about the way the government gets its fingers into our house and our lives more and more each year, but $300 for 6 required smoke alarms is a bit much!

But rather than fume and worry and fret the hair off my head, I'll just remind myself:

"What God orders, He pays for."

And He is most certainly (beyond any doubt) ordering this move we are making. We have such peace about that. So we need to move that peace over to any bill, any cost regarding this move.

I think we can do that... but oh my, $1,625? We just might need a super high dose of peace in this case. :)


***

"Trust in the Lord..."

Breaking Free From Shyness


Yesterday I mentioned 'shyness' so I thought I'd rerun this post from the past below (things are a little hectic around here today...):


***
After my last post, Sherry asked me just how I was set free from shyness. It's been a few years, but I'll tell you as best I can. If anyone has not yet read my post, The Curse of Shyness, it would help you understand this better if you'd read it now.


Back in the 1990's I told God --- and meant it -- that I wanted Him to do WHATEVER He wanted to do with me, no matter how much dying to self or embarrassment or humiliation it required. I wanted to have more of Him in my daily life. I wanted to become more like Jesus.


I'd said that many times before, but this time I'd grown sick of the way things were--the way I was--and I truly wanted to change. To move past the brick wall I always seemed to hit when it came to making changes in my heart.


Well, because my shyness was going to keep me from experiencing a whole new, bold walk with God, He had to deal with it right up front. So He began showing me in many ways and through many different people the selfishness of shyness.... the restrictiveness of it. Basically He showed me how it was just plain cheating me out of the fullness of the life He had planned for me.


Once I saw that, I repented of it--for holding onto shyness out of fear and pride like a shield. I'd heard years before that "shyness is pride in disguise" and I'd been offended when I heard it. (Proud? Who, ME?!) But now I saw it was true--so much of my shyness was fear of looking foolish or sounding ignorant. And I could go on and on....


So first came repentance. And then came the scarey thing--God told me (again, in a myriad of different ways) that I would have to walk out of my shyness. That He would walk with me, but always I would have to take the first step alone out of obedience to His voice, and then He would meet me out in those scarey places of boldness where I'd never been before. In other words, I would have to 'do it scared.'


He told me I'd obeyed the voice of Fear long enough--now it was time to push past that and obey His voice, instead.


So over and over for months and then years, God asked me to do some pretty wild things, especially at our church. He asked me to become an adult Sunday School teacher.... He asked me to stand in front of the church and give encouraging or prophetic words (all with my pastor's blessing, of course)... He asked me do and say things no one else was doing or saying.


He also asked me to do things for people at the supermarket... Such as, help them pick up things they had dropped... Offer to help them find what they were looking for... offer to let them go ahead of me in line, etc.


All of those things above were things, which for 30 years, I'd convinced myself I could never, ever do. For 30 years I'd let fear and pride lead me around by the neck all the while telling myself I was helpless to fight it. And yes, without God, I was. But with Him--and with His timing-- I could do those things after all.


Obedience was the key. Not the pick-and-choose kind of obedience, though. Rather, the radical, whatever-You-say-and-right-when-You-say-it kind. Over and over and over my obedience to God's Spirit walked me out of fear. Without that obedience, I would still be a scared rabbit today. But I'm not.


And yes, it took months, even years. We spend years and years getting ourselves into messes and we really need to allow God some real time to get us out of them. We all want 'drive-thru break-throughs,' but to God, a thousand years is as one day. He is not in a hurry, so it's important that we don't bail-out in the middle if things don't appear to be changing right when we think they should.


It's important that I add that God was simultaneously working on other areas of my life, breaking down walls one by one, leading to one thing: to rely upon the Holy Spirit and not my own words, my own thoughts, my own brain, my own strength. But Him--always Him. And that made a huge difference in the area of shyness.


It's one thing to have God inside us. It's a whole other thing to let Him out!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


It was only around 25 degrees F. this morning while I took my walk, but the sun was glowing and well, when that happens, 20 degrees or 30--it all feels the same to me. During the winter I take walks in my long black wool coat and my black (or olive) knitted gloves and my tweadish knitted cap and I carry my faded maroon umbrella (strapped closed), too. Oh, not for the rain or snow, but to keep the occasional loose dog away with the nice, long wooden tip with its metal piece.

I thought about how I must appear walking around like that and this quote which Patty shared came to me:

"One of the greatest assets any person can secure is a reputation for eccentricity. If you have a reputation of this kind you can do a lot of things … Many an act which, if performed by an ordinary person, would arouse indignation, animosity and antagonism can be performed by a person with a reputation for eccentricity with no other result that that of exciting mirth … "
E.W. Scripps

Love that! My favorite movies and documentaries are those with eccentric people in their story. Always, I sit there and wish I could be more eccentric. Oh, not insane-eccentric-crazy, but more like free-eccentric. Unafraid to be who I really am, even if that means appearing quite loopy, unusual to others. And brave enough to do the good things inside my heart, things which shyness and thoughts of 'people-just-don't-do-that' stop me from doing.

But not so eccentric as to make people back away slowly and escape. Rather, unique enough to draw them in... curious, wanting to hear and watch more.

So while I took my walk today all bundled-up and with my umbrella on a perfectly clear morning and happy in the cold, I thought perhaps I'm getting a good start on this eccentricity thing. And, if so, wouldn't that be lovely? Who knows where that kind of freedom could lead?


***
Have you ever done anything which, looking back, may have been viewed by others as being rather eccentric?

"My times are in your hands..." ... Psalm 31:15

And gee, am I ever glad for that verse. Especially lately with all this our-future-is-totally-up-in-air stuff. I mean, yesterday we were talking to someone at our kitchen table, sharing all our 'kinda-sorta options' (which, most days, don't feel like options, but a list of choices of which only one is right, but we have no idea which one).

And then Tom says casually, "Who knows? Maybe we'll just stay here for the rest of our lives."

What?! Suddenly I was, like, "Who is this man beside me? Isn't he the same guy who complains (and complains)every single winter about snow and has brought up moving away for, oh, the last ten years, way before I was ever ready to consider it?"

(Don't you hate it when your spouse throws curve balls like that, especially while you're talking with someone else so that you're unable to go ballistic until later after they're gone?) :)

Well, my times are in God's hands, thank-goodness, as long as I want what He wants and let go of what I think I want. It's an immature Christian who believes God's plans aren't as fun and fulfilling as her own (I remind myself, like, everyday). God's ways are a million times better than my own.

Step by sloooow step He's leading us. And trust me, I've wanted to leap, leap, leap out of here for over a year now. But God's not into that leap, leap, leaping thing. Nah, He's into leading us one step at a time.

We got the house ready to sell.
We sold it.
We hired someone to replace our fuse box--the one thing which didn't pass inspection.
We're packing up.
We're searching for something to rent (most likely) so that we'll be free to go when finally--finally--God shows us the next step to take.

Slow, slow steps...

And now I'll try not to spend this winter wishing I was someplace else (oh man, I want that little acre somewhere!), nor wishing God was a leap-before-looking sort of guy.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


So guess whose anniversary is today? Yes, Tom's and mine. Twenty-nine years! (Or as we like to joke each time, 29 looong, hard years).

So this afternoon we went to the movie theater (yes, again) and saw August Rush. We loved it. A lot! Though the part about Evan's parents' love-at-first-sight-and-spend-one-night-together-and-never-see-each-other-again-yet-remain-in-love-forever relationship was extremely far-fetched (though actually, it is pretty darn easy to remain in love with somebody who you never, ever share a house with). heh. But fortunately, Tom and I go to movies to be entertained, not to dice them up and compare them to real-life. We are more romantically-inclined than that.

Anyway, then we went out to lunch where we looked through the newspaper for places to rent and (after hyperventilating at high prices) toyed with the idea of buying a cheap mobile home instead. Whereupon we drove to a mobile home park and found a home for sale with a view of a huge river... and we are waiting to hear back from the sellers. The mobile home parks in our area tend to be, well, ghastly, but this one was an exception. Never before have we had what one might call a 'view' and well, a whole huge, lazy blue river! That would make up for much.

While driving around I told Tom that obviously, we still do not know for certain what we want to do next because one week we're discussing moving to Richmond and Tom's taking a job there. Then the next week we're talking about buying a tiny farm outright in Mt. Airy, NC, where Tom would either retire or go on disability. But the following week we're having second thoughts about leaving Naomi, so we're toying with retiring here and buying a country house and just not venturing out on snowy days (but then it hits us--we've already seen everything around here and we want new adventures). And then the next week, we're talking about moving out to the West Coast to be nearer our families and ------------------.

Good grief. Maybe everyone experiences this at various stages in their lives, well, everyone who's not afraid to take chances. To rip up stakes from the safe zone they've settled in for years. I don't know.

Anyway, I just thought I'd tell you that it's our anniversary today. Most days I don't even feel as though I've yet reached 29-years-old so it astounds me that I've been married that long. Seems like only yesterday....

***
P.S. Forgot to mention that Tom and I were the only people in the whole theater, the second time ever, I believe. That's a fun thing because we can talk throughout the movie like we always do at home. You know, say things out loud like, "Yeah, I'm so sure that would happen," or, "Cool guitar playing, huh?" or, "I saw that guy on a talk show and he said he did all his own singing." :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Remember how, yesterday, I told you Tom and I would be staying home all day? Well, I lied. At the spur-est of moments we hurried out the door to go see Dan In Real Life at the back-to-the-1940's theater where every ticket is just $3.50 (up from $1.50 when we first moved here). We were a tad late so, after buying the tickets, I told Tom to go ahead into the theater, sit in the middle, and I'd buy us some candy. I even asked what kind he'd prefer (chocolate-covered raisins, not my favorite) and just bought those--took only 20 seconds since the lobby was empty.

Well, I stepped into the dark theater, felt like I was suddenly blind (since the movie had just begun) and worried, "Eeks! I can barely see my way down this aisle--how will I ever find Tom? So I kept walking... walking... and couldn't see Tom anywhere. grr. I thought, "I'll just sit where we usually sit, hope to see Tom waving for me if he's across the aisle, then get up again and sit with him." sigh.

Ha. He was nowhere. I thought perhaps he'd backtracked and gone into the restroom, so I waited a minute, heard the door open, glanced back and there he stood. So I was the one waving to him and he found me, sat down, then chuckled and whispered he'd gone into the wrong theater. heh. Anyway, I loved the movie for the second time and Tom, afterward, said he'd enjoyed it and wouldn't mind seeing it again, which is, like, quite high praise coming from him.

But we did no shopping, no siree, not on Black Friday. We drove straight home afterward. No, we did stop at a convenience store for a newspaper.

But I forgot to tell you something, the point of this whole post. On our way out of our driveway earlier, we took our mail from our mailman and while driving to the theater I read a letter from one of my oldest, dearest friends, Ruth (especially dear because she and her fiance first introduced Tom to me). See, her parents were friends of my parents in the tiny mountain town where they met, then years later, they moved just around the corner (literally) from my parents into a coastal town at the tip of California.

And while Tom and I were there for my dad's memorial service last month, I was able to take a walk with Ruth because she was in town caring for her very ill mother. And well, in Ruth's letter yesterday, she'd written, "My mama went and visited your Dad yesterday morning, bright and early."

Who would have known so very many years ago that her mother and my dad would have passed away exactly three weeks apart? And that's the thing about death--we never know. None of us. And that one thought can make us crazy and worried and fearful and spoil all our days. Or, with acceptance, that thought can reside in a peaceful part of our brains and hearts while we go about doing and being what God wants us to do and be.

And loving and enjoying Life in the meantime. Not concentrating on accumulating the most stuff that we can, but rather, concentrating on loving and obeying God with all our hearts and allowing that love to spill over to everyone else who walks around with that date of death they do not know.

And all of this is helping me, as I pack pieces of my life into boxes, to fling away stuff and things which I'd thought I'd keep forever. But as I've seen this month, especially, there is no 'forever' upon this Earth. You really do leave it all behind in rooms you never see again. So every bag I give away becomes practice for leaving it all behind me someday--and I'm discovering that what I'd rather leave behind for others is not stuff and things to sort through, anyway...

... but instead, the intangibles, the important ones like good memories, kindness,wisdom, patience and compassion... things so very easy to tote around for, well, forever.

Friday, November 23, 2007


So guess where I am not this morning?

I am not out in all the madness, Christmas shopping.

Frankly, I don't get it. I mean, ok, if you adore waiting in line for three (or more)hours in 25 degree temperatures (in our area), then being nearly trampled in a mob (as I saw on our local news) while squeezing with thirty people through a doorway meant for two in order to save a few dollars, well, ok. Go for it. Knock yourself out (figuratively speaking only, I should add in this case. heh.).

But if you hate, dread and abhor that, well, is it really worth it?

For me, I'd rather shop online. And give gift certificates either from online or from peaceful stores while everyone with real jobs are at their, well, real jobs--leaving me to shop in blessed quiet. I'd rather trust God for later bargains and I'd prefer to keep Christmas simple and not use it as a time to, in one month, replace our clothes or electronics or appliances or furniture just because everybody else is.

I'd rather spread that stuff out over the year while everybody else is doing something else, like, sleeping-in or lying on towels at the beach or watching movies in theaters.

In other words, I like to shop alone. In aisles which almost echo with my footsteps or online, the most tranquil, silent place of all (where screaming children, frustrated parents, blaring Christmas music and empty shelves are only a distant memory).

But that's just me.

So if you need to find me today, I'll be home with Tom, watching a Netflix movie, packing a box, or two (or five). And reveling in the peace of the day after Thanksgiving while munching on leftover turkey and pumpkin pie.

And celebrating our sanity. :)

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!

I find myself especially thankful today for this blogging world and all of you kindred spirits. Never far from my memory are the first 40 years of my life when to find someone like me was a rare (rare, rare, rare) thing. I spent years searching for kindred spirits who still appreciate simple, daily things and now, here online, you are everywhere! I'm grateful that no longer do I feel like such a huge oddity and that now I can share my days with those who understand.

A special thanks to you who have made my difficult year of uncertainty easier for me by your kind comments and emails, especially during the recent death of my dad. Today I feel rich in friends and that's the best kind of richness there is... and while I cook and iron in my kitchen today while watching Christmas movies, I will count those riches one by one.

May you all have a Thanksgiving Day filled with God and family and friends and all that you hold dear..........

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


You simply won't believe this. If you ever wondered at my sanity, well, you will wonder no more...

Fourteen years ago when we bought this house, it had a rather old built-in dishwasher. I'd already stopped using dishwashers because, 1.) I preferred to wash dishes by hand, 2.) with just three of us it took ages to fill it with dirty dishes and 3.) my least favorite thing in the world is unloading the thing. So the following year when Tom asked if I wanted a new dishwasher I told him, no thanks. Don't need one. Don't want one.

But what did Tom do? He went out and bought a new dishwasher. Argh. I hate it when he does things like that.

We'll just skip over my (rather livid, how-could-you?) reaction and I'll just say, instead, that for thirteen years that new dishwasher just sat there. Unused.

No, technically that's not right. I did use it as a cupboard for dishes I otherwise had no room for.

I know, I know... Crazy. (I warned you.)

So last week we finally got around to testing the dishwasher to see if it even worked. I mean, someone told me a couple years ago that most likely it wouldn't because she'd heard that--when it comes to dishwashers--if you don't use it, you'll lose it. And they should be put to use at least once a month.

And here ours had been sitting all lonely and unused for thirteen whole years.

Well, guess what? It works! And something else... I've used it every day this week. I mean, er, after all, it just seemed like the easiest way to wash all my hundreds of dusty decorative white dishes and knick-knacks from our hutches that way before packing them in boxes.

And ok, I threw in a few of our regular ol' everyday dirty dishes from the sink as well. Sue me. :)

All week I've felt like such a Suzy Homemaker! Like a new bride, or something. You know, like I'm playing house and having, well, ok, I'll say it... fun. The kind of fun that spills over into every task and every room and makes me feel like a 21-year-old newly married gal again. (Gotta love that.)

So, well, maybe it was worth the wait. Maybe the dishwasher didn't sit there for thirteen years in vain after all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Did I tell you that Tom is, once again, working all day on Thanksgiving? And not a measly 8 hours or even 10, no, it's his usual 12 hour day shift.

So here's your test. Choose the letter below which you believe most closely describes how I feel about that:

a. totally bummed-out and depressed
b. hot and bothered and mad
c. dreading the whole day
d. feeling sorry for myself
e. anticipating time alone cooking in the kitchen while watching our little tv in there.

Heh. The answer is e.

But you know? Up until around 2003 whenever Tom had to work on Thanksgiving, I was always a., b., c., and d. Combined. So pathetic, but I believed I couldn't help it. After all, we're talkin' Thanksgiving, The Day for families to gather together. And instead, it would be just me in the kitchen and Naomi upstairs in her room, waiting around all day for Tom to get home, both of us picturing the whole rest of the United States celebrating happily. (And yes, that "everybody's havin' a grand ol' time" thought is unrealistic and we knew it, but that's how you get when you're determined to stay miserable).

What changed? Oh, about a million things, that's all, most of which are described in this blog, so I'll not rehash them. But perhaps the greatest change came about when it hit me that any day can be a good day as long as God is so vividly with me... and what matters is that I find the majority of my joy in Him--and not in perfect circumstances, relationships or things.

Wherever God is, it's the very best place to be. And wherever He is, that's exactly where I want to hang-out, be it outside where I take my walks or at the supermarket shopping center where I run my errands or in a kitchen alone on Thanksgiving Day...

...in His presence there's fullness of joy. What more could I ask for?


***

P.S. After Tom gets home from work, we will drive over to our daughter's house and have dinner there with her and her boyfriend, Carl. Naomi volunteered to make half of the meal which was a nice surprise. She's become such a great cook this past year!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


So yesterday Tom and I went out on a date. Yes, after nearly 29 years we still go out. We went to the movie theater, but do you know what? For only the third time ever, we each watched a different movie. Tom really, really wanted to see Beowulf (barfo... But he loved it.). I really, really wanted to see Dan In Real Life (and I loved that way more than I'd thought I would, even.).

Afterward, we went to the local buffet restaurant and chatted about the movies we'd seen and about the previews we'd watched, too, many which made us ask, "Why do they only squeeze all the great movies into, like, December through March instead of spreading them out over the whole year?" (Living in snow country, we really don't appreciate that since we tend to hibernate during those months.)

Anyway. How freeing it feels to not get all mad, hurt and upset if Tom doesn't want to see the movie I'm longing to see. In the old days, I could sulk for a week about that and say things like, "There's no way we're gonna sit in separate theaters! We either go together or we stay home." (And then stay home, in separate rooms, because we were mad and disappointed in each other.)

How wonderful to grow-up! To crave peace more than having one's own controlling way. To give the other person space to be who they are and freedom to see the movie they prefer. And then to return home and spend even more happy time together sharing--online-- the previews we'd seen separately at the theater. (Oh, and have you seen the National Guard 'movie video'? It wasn't shown in Tom's theater so we viewed it together online. Made me all teary-eyed all over again.)

I totally recommend Dan In Real Life. I came away feeling like I'd attended my own family reunion in the most amazing old house (complete with a 'kids' table') on a misty-grey lake. Such a decent movie and I never once felt embarrassed for the two teeny-bopper girls in front of me in the nearly-empty theater (our theater is nearly always nearly-empty, that's why I love it). Yes, it was so devoid of bad language, sex and violence that at one point I asked myself, "Do they even make movies like this anymore?"

So refreshing... and such a simple, fun Saturday here in our tiny spot of the world.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I think it all began with my mother's first plane trip.

See, for the first 44 years of my life, my mom declared she would never, ever get into an airplane. Never. Ever. If you tried to talk her into flying, she'd just laugh, turn away, and say, "That'll be the day you get me into a plane."

Eventually, after forty years of anything like that, you just give-up trying to change a person's mind.

But in 2003 my brother, who lives in Texas, invited my parents out to visit his family. The only catch? He would only pay for plane tickets. Not the train. Not for gas and supplies for a car trip. No, they'd have to come by plane.

Amazingly, my parents accepted his offer. (Technically, my dad had flown during his Navy days and wasn't adverse to flying.) But to think of my mom traveling in the sky! Well, it shocked all of us.

Funny thing... both my parents, before boarding the plane discussed how they'd lived good, fulfilling lives and were ready for Heaven if the plane crashed. They'd set all their affairs in order to make things easier for us kids in case they never returned.

Heh.

Anyway, after their trip, both ways, my parents called me. And sheesh, you'd have thought flying was a brand new invention and my mom was one of the first to fly. She raved about how quickly they got all the way down to Texas. She loved the ease of the whole thing. It was a million times better than driving (or in her case, riding alongside my dad while he drove). And she couldn't wait until they could fly once more to someplace. Anyplace. She just wanted to travel in such luxury again.

Of course, I stared wide-eyed at the phone and thought, "Who is this woman?"

Anyway, I received an email from my sister today, you know, the one in Hawaii on her honeymoon. The one who took our recently-widowed mother along with her. And do you know what she wrote? "Mom loves snorkeling!"

Good gracious. My mouth dropped open. And I thought, "What next?"

I mean, my mother has always been the quiet, supportive woman behind my dad. A cheerful, helpful, pastor's wife, someone who's always been too shy to get her driver's licence because her driver's ed. teacher in high school swore at her. And she never quite got over it.

But now she's vacationing in Hawaii. And snorkeling.

I love it! And as I said, I think it all began with overcoming her fear of flying. Oh, how many of our fears hold us back from a whole other life we could be living! And what kinds of adventures we could all be having if we'd just take a deep breath and step past those dark fears which keep us all bound up.

That one brave step may just unleash a whole truckload of courage for anything we may face in the days and years to come. Who knows? But unless we take that first step, we will never know for certain.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Judy's comment to my last post (about my being much on her mind lately) reminded me of something... I wanted to pop in here tonight and thank each of you who have prayed for me and sent your good thoughts and wishes since my dad passed away.

These last three-and-a-half weeks have been harder than I thought they'd be. It's so true that you don't know what losing a parent will be like until you actually experience it. All the thoughts I've had! A whole gamut of them, any of them popping up at any time of the day, like when I'm taking my walks or at night while lying in bed--haunting me, surprising me at their intensity. Or their sadness.

And it hasn't helped that I've had a cold since the day my dad died and a cough, and it's been cloudy, and for this past week my only good ear has been plugged up, and--well, just trust me, I've had better weeks in my life.

But you know? Yesterday the old Debra came back. The Debra who has energy. The one who sees God standing at every corner and glasses half-full and lights at the ends of tunnels and Hope where there isn't any. I was glad to see her. I'd missed her--a lot.

And when she returned, I smiled and thought, "It feels like people are praying for me."

And so tonight, I just had to--again--say thanks so very, very much for your prayers, comments, emails and good thoughts. They all helped me return home--back into the light of joy.

Yesterday I watched, Unknown White Male, a documentary about a young man who 'woke up' on the NYC subway and realized he had no idea who he was. Not the best documentary I'd ever seen, but it did make me think thoughts I'd never thought before, rather like a brain tickle.

One part stood out hugely to me. This young man had returned to Paris where, in a small attic, he'd stored his belongings years prior. And as he sat there going through boxes and piles of stuff, he realized he'd been a pack rat. But now? Because he had no memories of those boxes and since his lack of memories had made him into a different person, well, he just looked at all the junk and felt separated from it. Basically, all those 'treasures' meant nothing to him.

And that scene struck me because recently I've wondered at how easily I'm able to get rid of stuff, things I'd planned years ago never to part with. But now it makes sense--I'm a different person than I was back then. Or greatly changed, anyway. And I can now view all this stuff rather dispassionately and fling it out to the big world (otherwise known as Salvation Army). I mean, we're talking over 600 books and large bags of clothes and myriad knick-knacks and fabric, dishes and magazines. Stuff I'd bought delightedly... stuff I'd collected, believing it would help me 'keep up' with others and aid my insecurities.

It's a Good Thing, I think. As I've tried to cooperate with God while He's attempted to change me these past 13 years, especially, I've noticed much of the changing is all about letting go. Letting go of the past--its (or rather, my) failures and non-willingness to forgive. Letting go of how I believe everything and everyone should be. Letting go of always having to be right and having to voice my opinions... and having to teach everyone, everywhere, all the time, wherever I go.

Well, all of that and much, much more.

Anyway, I'm glad I watched that documentary yesterday. It's gonna make storing away the pieces of my life easier. And besides, they are just pieces--not the whole. I am not my stuff. Most of my Real Life is on the inside of me and cannot be packed away in any box.


***

"Never say never..."

"Travel lightly..."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Here's something you've never heard me say before... I watched the ABC World News tonight and it blessed my socks off.

The very last story told how, in Atlanta, state officials, pastors and hundreds of people gathered on the steps of the capitol building and actually prayed for rain for their parched land. It made me recall all the stories I've heard of farmers and whole towns gathering to pray for rain ever so long ago.

Oh my goodness.... Some of the prayers were shown and right there God and prayer mingled with church and state.

And I loved it. I prayed right along with those folks and got all teary-eyed because God made it on the nightly news.

Then to top it off, I whooped and hollered when Charlie Gibson smiled and ended the broadcast by saying, "Wouldn't it be great if it rained in Atlanta tonight?"

Yes, Charlie, it certainly would be great. It certainly would.


***

P.S. Now, if you are one of those cranky Christians who are thinkin', "Yeah... the government comes crying to God only when they're desperate,"--please, please do not rain on my parade in my comment box. Cranky, negative, sour-minded Christians make my skin crawl....eeew! :)

Monday, November 12, 2007



Yesterday I saw something amazing.

While on my walk, I passed by three young boys who were raking leaves into four-foot-high piles and then--after tossing aside the rakes--they'd leap, laughing, into the leaf stacks.

They tossed leaves high and buried each other. They rolled around, giggling. They took turns running then--taking spread-eagle belly-flops--made big poofs of leaves rise in the autumn air.

Totally, totally made my day to see something so old-fashioned as that.

Every year I hear people say things like this:

"Kids don't play in leaf piles anymore."
"You never see kids outside these days."
"Nobody reads books anymore."
"People never take time to visit their neighbors."
"These days, people are too stressed-out to be friendly."
"All modern tv shows and movies are just junk."
"The days of soda fountains inside stores are gone."
"The good old days, period, are just long gone."

Oh really? I don't find any of the above to be true.

And then I hear those same people tell me, "Well, I can only call it as I see it."

And to them I would say, open your eyes wider and you just may see more. Begin looking farther and wider. And expect to find what's right, not what's wrong. Our expectations color what our eyes behold.

Once I heard this story: A woman sat at her friend's table drinking coffee one morning. Her friend bitterly pointed out her window to the yard next door and said, "My neighbor is such a slob. See? Even her laundry on her clothesline is dirty."

The visiting friend got up to look closer and realized something. Her friend's window was dirty, not her neighbor's laundry! Everything outside appeared dusty and dull from this side of such a dirty window.

What a good lesson.

I'll be going with Tom today for one of his injections for his back. I'll need to drive him home because of the pain killer he'll be taking. I wonder what kinds of good old-fashioned things I'll see there at the medical center? I always enjoy watching people holding doors open for others there and loved ones walking slowly alongside those with canes.

In fact, always I'm searching for good old-fashioned kindnesses and things wherever I go...

...and it's incredible just how much I still find.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

In Memory





See this gorgeous tree?

It lives and shines and breathes no more.

This week, our neighbors murdered this tree in our window. Destroyed it. Had a hundred years hacked down, shredded, over a few hours.

I was devastated. And more glad than ever that we are moving away. And hopefully, never again will we live so close to others that they can tear down trees which feel like our own. Trees just feet away. Trees waving in our windows. This is the second time within one year that this has happened--this tree's sister was murdered in the next yard beside it months ago.

But it was worse this time, because this was the tree which greeted me in my Tower Room window upstairs. Waved to me and smiled. But it is gone now. Forever.

And it cannot be replaced.


***

P.S. And no... the tree wasn't sick. It was just as gorgeous and healthy as ever.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Christmas is coming.

Oh my. This year--please, please forgive me--I think I'll skip Christmas.

Ok, ok.... At least I'll be very bare bones about it.

See, there's just too much on my plate right now. You know, the whole my-life-is-up-in-the-air thing. I mean, if our house passes inspection, we'll most likely be moving to a rental house the week after Christmas. Escrow closes around January 7th, but I've a feeling we'll be out of here sooner.

At least we've decided we'll just rent something nearby this winter and then make the Big Move in Spring or Summer. At least, that's our plan. Who knows? Plans have been known to change. But you've gotta have some kind of plan, otherwise all you have is fog. And trust me, in 2007 I've experienced way too much fog concerning my future.

So Christmas will be very, very non-complex around here. I've never really had problems with saying "no" my whole life (some people just are like that). And well, this will horrify some of you whose blogs are already oozing Christmas crafts and gifts and anticipations, but mostly I'll be ignoring Christmas this year. For just one year. The only time I've ever skipped 'Christmas' as the world knows it.

I think Jesus will understand. It's everyone else who may have a big problem with it. But oh well. You've gotta know when to say when.

And today, I'm saying when.

Friday, November 09, 2007


So guess what? A woman wants to buy our house.

We are amazed. I mean, we'd nearly decided to take it off the market and try again next Spring since the thought of moving in the snow unnerves us. And it didn't help that, lately, I've felt too tired to move myself around, let alone a whole houseful of furniture.

But isn't that the way it always go? You stop believing for something and then it happens. Perhaps it's because we release our worries and fears and so then the faith we exercised earlier comes into play... this time much stronger, more powerfully, because the doubt and unbelief are gone.

Maybe?

Well, it was time something good happened around here. And though we still have no clear idea what we'll be doing next, at least we can see this as a nudge from God to do something. Something besides reclining in our Cozy Room watching movies and watching Life go by, as well.

Tom and I are going out to breakfast this morning to one of our favorite tiny diners to celebrate.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I called my mom today.

You know how some people, when they lose their spouse, will hide away in their house, turn down offers of help and just cry alone for weeks? (Like probably something I would do...)

Well, my mom has so not been like that. Not at all. People from her church have dropped by to offer her rides for errands and she accepts. They ask her to their homes for dinner and she goes, gladly. They call and she answers her phone and chats.

Now, if anyone has a right to be devastated, it's my mom. She was married at 16 and she and my dad were always together. My dad usually had a church office to go to, but if my mom ever needed anything, he was mostly available. When we all got together last week we tried numbering the times they were apart (not counting the hospital times when we kids were born) and I think we came up with just two times. In 52 years. And too, my mom never got her driver's licence and she's on the quiet side. And always relied on my dad.

And now, guess what? (I forgot to tell you about this.) This weekend, my mom is going to Hawaii on a honeymoon. No, not hers, Silly. My sister's. See, my sister and her husband were married last March and they'd planned this November honeymoon months ago. And well, while we all sat around the table there in California, they asked my mom if she'd go with them.

I was so glad when they asked, and even gladder when my mom accepted. I much prefer imagining her in beautiful, sunny Hawaii next week rather than in her seaside nearly-always-grey town without my sister nearby for those days. But they're all going together and even my new brother-in-law thought it a great idea (after a couple initial minutes). He said, "It hit me that now Corrine would have someone to go to the shows with. Someone who isn't me. Hooray!"

Yes, I called my mom today and she sounded great. Busy, anticipating good things and grateful for the way others are looking out for her.

God is good.

Poor ol' Debra is not having a good time right now.

She's spent a few days mostly on the couch blowing her nose and trying not to talk because when she does, she coughs. (Bummer. Can't even talk to myself now.) She's still trying to get over the stupid cold she caught two weeks ago, downing lots of Vitamin C and every other natural thing she can read about.

And here she thought she was so healthy. phooey.

And then yesterday she had a dentist appointment and the dental cleaning from, well, you-know-where. The mean old hygenist had to (gross alert) puncture her gum and make it bleed just because it was all swollen, painful and in danger of infection. "Best thing for it, I'm afraid. Sorry." she said, making pitying noises.

I wanted to sock her.

And did I mention that my one and only good ear is plugged up? And that we had another house showing last night, so I had to peel myself off the couch and grab up all the used kleenex and water glasses and etc. and clean, clean, clean? And that we have another showing tonight?

After all that yesterday, I had to lecture myself. "Debra, you will not feel sorry for yourself. You will not attend a single pity party. You will watch what you say, what with the power of life and death being in the tongue, and all... And you won't let yourself get so down that it will take a whole bus load of Christians to pull you back up." I'm not sure yet if I listened to myself. But I guess I tried. Yesterday, anyway.

This morning, though, when Tom got home from work, I did, well, morph into Nelly Negative while wilting on the couch, moaning how I just know we're gonna be stuck in this town for another long winter (snow's coming tonight) and how we should have put the house up for sale a couple months earlier and how I want to move to Mt. Airy, like, right this minute and would he please make up his mind what we're gonna do with the rest of our lives?

But Tom knows when I get like that the best thing is just to nod, make understanding noises and say, "I'll see what I can do." And wait for me to get over it.

Well anyway, just thought I'd tell you where I've been, cuz I've not been down here at the computer. Nope, you'd have to look upstairs, on our couch, and that's where you'd find me. That is, if I were to let you inside the house. Nobody's gonna see me lookin' like this today. Nobody except Tom, that is. Poor guy.


***

So has anyone ever tried 'oil pulling' as described here? I thought I'd try it. My poor ol' mouth and my poor ol' head need all the help they can get.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Thoughts on a Merry-Go-'Round, Revisited



Today I reread the posts I shared with you two years ago while my parents visited us for 17 days. And this post, below, made me cry... I'd forgotten about the ride I'd taken with them on the merry-go-'round...

***

Yesterday on a cloudy, cool afternoon I rode a 1916 wooden merry-go-round with my parents. I chose a 'safe seat,' a little carriage with two benches, and I chose the back bench because you had to step over a little part and left the front bench for my parents.

But they each chose a horse to ride. I was surprised! Especially that my dad would pull himself up on a high wooden horse--all week we have been taking the easy route wherever we go because of his arthritis. But he, and my mom, each climbed up on a horse just fine.

So as the old-fashioned caliope music played (was it Meet Me In St. Louis?) we whirled around and around amongst the horses and colored lights and then I looked up in front of me at the back of my parents and felt my eyes sting. "They are here today, but they'll not be here forever. Someday they will both be gone. But right now they are here and we are making another memory." Those were my thoughts.

Yes, those were my thoughts and I had to look away, had to gaze at all the brightly-painted horses around us. The bittersweetness was choking me.

My dad is nearly 70 and he is like a different person. Much more relaxed than he was his first sixty years. More laid-back. If only he'd been that way while my sister, brother and I were young. Part of it, just part of it, is because his doctor told him he must avoid stress or the arthritis will creep over him. He must view everything differently.

Many people, especially men, I've noticed, become much nicer, more pleasant people in their old age. I wonder if they see the difference. I wonder if they have regrets which haunt them when they lay down to sleep at night.

I want something better. I want to relax now while I'm only in my forties. I want to see the world through God's eyes--and I cannot imagine Him all stressed-out, shakey and irate in Heaven. I cannot see Him scared about the future, worried sick about His kids or fearful of what others will think if He does things differently than everyone else.

I want to have His heart and His eyes and His courage. And if someday my own daughter sits behind me on a merry-go-round, I want all of her memories of me to be sweet.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Let's see... what else happened on our trip way out to California?

Oh yeah. Tom finally began thinking outside of the box concerning the rest of our lives.

Of course, that's something I've tried to make him do these last two years, but well, you know how husbands are. They have to hear this stuff from other people before it registers.

It was so great for Tom (and for me, too, of course) to sit in the large circle in my parents' living room while listening to the adventure stories of my two uncles and an elderly friend of the family. Hour following hour they shared harrowing adventures of driving through dark nights in unfamiliar states and being greeted by sight-seeing wonders in the morning.

Their memories were so sharp, even at age 70 and beyond. One uncle would turn to his wife and ask, "At that restaurant in Milwaukee in 1983... didn't we have red snapper that night?" And she'd answer, "Yes, and that's where we had stuffed baked potatoes for the first time."

Good grief. Ask me what I ate at a restaurant last week and I'd say, "Are you serious? How am I supposed to remember that far back?"

My two uncles and their wives have traveled on adventures together for at least 40 years, first with all their children, combined, then just as couples as their children grew and left home. Story after story we sat entranced, amazed at their pristine memories... laughing at the occasional mishap and misadventure.

But you know? I noticed how silent we of the younger generation were--I wondered if, in twenty more years, any of us would nave these kinds of tales to tell. Oh, Tom and I shared our Gettysburg and bus tour of D.C. memories, but after that, well, our other adventures sounded mild in comparison to those of the seniors in our group. And as I told Tom later, when I thought of how he and I spent last winter in our Cozy Room watching movies near the tiny electric heater, well, it just didn't have the same adventurous ring to it as all the stories swirling around us.

Anyway. All those exciting tales inspired Tom. He spoke with the oldest man in our group who said he retired at 58 and has never regretted it once and has always looked upon each morning as a potential door to something or someplace new. And well, finally, Tom can see beyond Life In The Power Plant. He can see there are other ways to live... new vistas.... new possibilities, especially as long as we let God lead us down every unknown path ahead.

And if we do that, I can't help but feel everything will be all right.

Friday, November 02, 2007


If any of you travel by plane a lot, well, you have my sympathies.

Sheesh. When we flew out of Buffalo we were at the airport by around 5:15 in the morning and oh my goodness... I'd never seen such an eternally-long line there! But the neat thing was that an official-looking guy came and pulled Tom out of line (though we both wondered if Tom appeared suspicious or something), and when we followed him through all the mayhem, he led us to a tiny little line, the line where the pilots go through and those folks who need assistance. All it took was Tom's standing in the original line with his cane for us to be granted such favor. (We shared that story with some friends, and they joked that hey! Next time they're at an airport, they'll take a cane and perhaps wear an eye patch, too, just in case.)

So anyway, it shocked me how everyone practically disrobed right in front of us. And since everybody was removing everything except their shirts and slacks before stepping through the detector, we did that, too. And then as we dressed again I muttered to Tom, "The day they make us strip down to our underwear, that's the day I stop flying forever." heh.

Then there was the next airport, the one in Cincinnati, where we literally had to run through crowds and over those moving sidewalks (and boy, is that a wild feeling, almost like racing for your own flying take-off) in order to reach our next flight (gasping, I told the woman at the desk that my husband was right behind me). The flight attendant of our previous plane said that the five of us going to Portland would have to hurry and she gave us her best wishes, which translated, meant, "Good luck, cuz you're sure gonna need it."

And then the movie on our Cincinnati plane was Evan Almighty. Guess which movie Tom and I had watch just five days before? So we didn't buy the earphones, but I did watch it again and used my rusty ability of lip-reading. And of course you know which movie they played later on our return trip back home, don't you? Yep, Evan Almighty. Again. But this time I did purchase the headphones cuz it was gonna be one long flight home and besides, on the previous trip, they'd shown other programs (albeit rather boring ones) afterward. This time though, the 'after shows' were better and made the whole trip feel much shorter. Besides, I enjoyed Evan Almighty for its lessons. I've often felt God had me doing weird things, things which made others question my sanity.

In fact, on the flight out to Portland as I sat there munching the Delta snack pack and watching the silent version of Evan Almighty and listening to the soft chatter and laughter of people on the sunny plane, I remember thinking, "You know? This is pleasant. Of course, I'd enjoy it more if we weren't thousands of feet in the air, but rather, sitting on the ground somewhere, but hey... This is rather nice, all things considered."

Oh and remember how I was going to look for the new Victoria magazine on the 29th so I could fly home with it on my lap on the 30th? Well, guess who forgot to search for it at any of the Safeway stores or bookstores all those hundreds of coastal miles we drove in Oregon? And of course, when I wildly looked for it at all those airport bookstores the next day, I couldn't find one. And really, I lacked the faith that they'd even have Victoria there so soon, anyway.

But alas, finally, I bought my copy yesterday here at our market in town.... here where dwells our home sweet home. At least for awhile longer. And sitting on the porch with Victoria, the world, my world, feels a bit more normal. Slow-paced... friendly... quiet and anchored on the ground. Thank-goodness.


***
P.S. In case you wondered, I enjoyed the new Victoria and was relieved it resembled the original a lot. Loved the clothes, both Tasha's and the ones on page 89. Even loved most of the ads for furniture--the rooms were ones I'd love to live in, myself. I'm looking forward to the next issue!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Retiring The List


So there I was in my parents' living room last week with my sister and my mom's two brothers and their wives who I'd not seen in 30 years. The room was quiet, everybody was staring at me, so my aunt turned and asked me if I worked. I smiled and gave her my standard answer, "I work at home. I'm a happy homemaker."

Wham. The usual panicky silence fell. You know, that's when people start wondering, "Do they even make those anymore? What kinds of questions do you ask a 'happy homemaker,' anyway?," and, "Boy, is this gonna be a long afternoon..."

So my sister (who has a real job and a real life and grandkids and is a newlywed and plays piano at church and teaches piano in her spare time)piped up and said, "Oh, Debra has a blog, too, and lots of people read it." She gave me that 'come on, keep going' signal with her hands and she nodded with her head like, "come on, kid. Stand up for yourself! Don't you want to give them the list of all you do?"

Ah, The List... The List you read off to everyone to prove just how busy you are and how vital to the world's ability to keep spinning.

I remember The List. I used to have mine memorized and could rattle it off to you at any insecure moment... and make you sorry you even asked.

But I gave it up years ago. It doesn't matter now that people know the 'important' things I'm doing. All that matters to me is that I spend time with God each day learning to love Him better. And that I obey Him in the little things He asks me to do and be... and to live simply, as well. And that I learn to love others better, too.

But it's kinda hard to work that into most conversations.

Yet, that's ok. I'd rather hear other peoples' stories, and I think, from what I've read, most people would rather tell their own stories to a good listener, anyway. Besides, I prefer saving my own stories for the times God nudges me to share them. His timing is ever so much better than mine. His words are a zillion times better than mine, too, and what I'm aiming for is to speak those, instead, because, after all--

"...A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver."... Proverbs 25:11

... and that sounds so very good to me.