Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Almost A Whole New Year



Don't you love that 'new' word?

New year, new beginning, new-found freedom, new mercies... I especially like, "He makes all things new...."

Boy, do I think of that one a lot. Of course, its meanings are myriad and varied, but on the thousands of average mornings when I'm cooking Tom's oatmeal--again-- and feeding the cats--again--and shoveling snow with my coat thrown over my robe--again--and, later, washing dishes--again--and straightening these rooms--again-- well, I'll take any drop of newness God can spare.

I so don't want to spend my allotted days just sleepwalking my way through them all bored and drudge-like. Homemakers can easily do that, you know, what with staying home within their oh-so-familiar walls. Yet if I enjoy the mundane then nothing is mundane. Or something like that.

Each morning I need Grace to make cooking breakfast feel new and making my bed feel new and the promise of hours ahead feel new, also. I need her to lift up my creative spirit when it sags and blow and breathe new life into my dreams when they deflate. For they do sometimes, you know.

And I'll tell you--with God and with all things being possible--Life, the daily kind, feels new every morning, afternoon and evening. But only as I allow Him to make me new--to change my old ways of thinking and doing and being.

And therein lies the secret. And the joy.


************

This blog has lots of cute decorating ideas inside and out.... Was surfing around this morning and discovered it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Did You Know?

Are you familiar with DearReader.com?

You sign-up to have a five-minute portion of a book emailed to you Monday--Friday and by the end of the week, you've read a couple chapters of the selected book. You can sign-up for whatever category of books you prefer and read from more than one book, even. (I currently receive the Good News selections.)

I've found some good books through DearReader and I recently chose to buy this one, a mystery...


...at Amazon.com because I simply must find out what happened at the end! :)

Just thought I'd pass along this info. for the readers amongst us.

****
Today I was so in the mood to visit this amazing beach house again. Thought you might want to, also..... Enjoy!

****
For, like, always I've dreamed of living beside a lake. Well, that dream has come true! See the lake outside our windows?





Cool, huh? Looked even nicer when it was surrounded by snow...When the snow returns(as it certainly will) I'll take another photo and share it with you.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I think we forget how amazing this Internet and Blogland world truly is. How easily we can find kindred spirits here! Man, I remember whole decades when it seemed any kindred spirits I may have had all tripped and fell off the Earth into some cosmic Never Never Land. Or something. They were awfully hard to find.

But now? Wow, kindred spirits appear everywhere! And may I never lose my gratitude for this phenomenon.

Anyway, I discovered yesterday from one of those kindred spirits that she'd decided to let her blog die because of a nasty blog stalker.

Of course, right away I tried talking her out of it.

Why? Because throughout the thousands of years of history, always, always there have been people who believe their duty is to discourage mankind. They tell inventors that their inventions won't work and writers that their stories aren't worth being told. They tell builders their buildings will fall down and encourage optimists to be miserable and dreamers to quit dreaming.

Just think of all the biographical books or movies of Great People you've ever read or watched. Remember all the naysayers who tried to pull them back down to mediocrity? Recall the recurring theme? How, usually, the Great People almost always caved-in, but then found new strength and continued--and succeeded?

Well, if you have a blog, then you, too, are a Great Person. No, really. I can't tell you the eons of times I've visited blogs which have encouraged me and improved the whole rest of my day. And I don't only mean the blogs whose author's purpose is to encourage folks, either. No, I'm also speaking of blogs like homemaking ones where women write about the pie they baked that day. Oh, how powerfully that affects me--how often just reading about your baking has gotten me out of this computer chair and back to the cooking/housework I've been procrastinating! 

Over and over that happens.

Your blogs about your families remind me to treat my own family nicer, decorating blogs get me back up on ladders with a paintbrush in my hand, spiritual blogs get my head--and heart-- back where they should be.

So what am I saying? Unless God specifically tells you to cease blogging (for a season or forever), please do not allow any person or any fear to stop you. Always there will be people who feed on making us insecure or turning us into the quitters they have become. And yet only the non-quitting faithful will win the prize... and will be there with exactly the right words or photos or advice when the rest of us so need them.

Friday, December 26, 2008




Really, I have the sweetest husband. I watch him walk outside to our car and he sometimes pauses, turns toward our trees with the feeders, and then he'll talk to the birds. You know, in that voice you use for cats or dogs or babies. And I stand there in our big bay window and smile, heart all warm.

Well, he wanted to give small Christmas gifts to our two neighbors who've helped us--the new, clueless kids--with our yard work, first with tractors, then snow blowers. He kept saying , "We should get them something," and I kept saying, "I am getting everybody else on our list something, so you take care of it since it's on your heart. Personally, I think a simple card would suffice."

So, after pondering and procrastinating and making things wildly complicated, Tom drove to our little Rite Aid here (the only place in our town to shop, not counting True Value.... I'm so not kidding), and bought a box of Christmas cards, two tins of cookies and two glass jar candles, different scents.

He spent an hour wrapping the candles and composing messages on the cards and then on Christmas Eve, in the rain and in the dark, we got in the car and drove to each neighbor's house where I got out and went up to the door, handed out the gifts, chatted a bit and wished all a merry Christmas. Each time I got back into the car and reported to Tom what was said and we smiled and laughed and drove down to the center of our one-traffic-light town then out to the country roads to look at peoples' light-decorated houses. We both felt pretty happy.

And then it happened (no, we didn't get into a wreck...heh...). No, what happened was this: while I gazed through splattered windows at the lights in yards, I realized I was humming my favorite Christmas carol, the one which sneaks up on me while Christmas shopping amongst the crowds and brings me remembered joy. Except this year I'd not yet hummed it, not even once, and here it was already Christmas Eve--

"Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o'er the plain...."

...But there it was upon my breath, that dear old hymn which always brings Christmas to me. It found me, finally, that night because my sweet husband cared that our neighbors realize we appreciate them, their help, so very much... and in the darkened car out on country roads the joy of simple giving caught up with me only hours before Christmas Day.
*******************




This print was a gift from Naomi yesterday. Tom and I have always loved this one and others like it and it looks perfect in this corner (much better in-person, since our camera loves to ruin all my indoor photos--darn the ol' automatic flash anyway!) :)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to all my special Readers (and you are, each of you, special)! Have a wonderful day...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Oh for Some Good Old-Fashioned Insecurity(?)

If this post confuses you, never fear. It confuses me, too--and I'm the one who wrote it! :)

Years and years past, I used to decorate my house, like, all the time. I'd rearrange furniture every two weeks. I'd decorate for Christmas, too, get it appearing 'just so' and perfect.

Why? I wanted to keep up--not only with the Jones'--but with the ladies at church. I mean, isn't Life just one big competition where the winner gets all the respect and the wishful stares? Isn't it?

...er...

And I'd clean my house because hey, you never know when anyone might barge in for an inspect--, uh, visit. I'd clean myself, too, get all gussied up each day for the same reason. I'd cook great meals to impress our house guests, I'd exercise to impress everyone else and I'd read books so people could see what a good mind I had.

That, folks, is what I call major insecurity. But some people call it Just The Way Things Are.

But now? Now I cannot believe how differently I live. It was nearly fifteen years ago that I gave God permission to take all of me... turn my life upside-down and change me into someone more like Him.

He took me up on it. And now, most days (not all, ok?) most days I do what I do simply because He nudges me to do it--and gives me the necessary strength/vision/ideas to do what He's got in mind. I like to call it obedience. I like to call it receiving grace and pure motive motivation. And I've discovered that I can do just one task which was His idea and it'll accomplish way, way, way more than 30 of my own ideas or good deeds.

But lately, I don't know. Either He's still giving me a break (because of all I've gone through this past year) or I'm just not hearing Him clearly. I mean, hey... I only mailed out 19 Christmas cards. Only 19! I usually send more than twice that. And my Christmas decor is only a fraction of what it once was. I'm not feeling super-elated-out-of-my-mind about tomorrow, but I'm (more than ever) anticipating the day after Christmas, my second favorite day of the year, right behind Valentine's Day.

I just can't seem to overdo anything anymore. I can't seem to run myself into early graves or states of exhaustion like other people I know... and I wonder if I'm accomplishing much after all, with this Just Obeying God stuff.... with this always sailing beneath His wings.

So part of me gets tempted to ask for some old-fashioned insecurity for the supercharged boost which it gives and for the appearance of good, lasting stuff it conjures up... and for the way it aids in my blending-in with the rest of society, Christian or otherwise. It's rough, sometimes, being the oddball and standing-out, or rather, standing alone.

But the other part of me--the sane part--recognizes the absurdity of that.

So I guess I'll just keep plugging away in the restful, slow (though steady) way which God seems to have for me now. And I'll call it Good, even though others --mostly likely--call it something altogether different.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Of Poor Ol' Rudolph


One more post today--just one more, I promise. And it's a rerun, even...

****
Okay, now I'm not trying to start some new, crazy movement nor am I getting ridiculous like attempting to ban the song Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer (as some have tried).

No, I'm just making an observation.

The song, Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer bothers me. The movie (which I grew-up watching and loving), bugs me, too. I can't help but roll my eyes each time I hear the song on the radio.

I mean, think about it... Here's this adorably-cute reindeer who just happened to be born with a bright, red nose. As if he could help it! And suddenly he grows up, goes to reindeer school and gets ridiculed by all his intolerant, bratty little schoolmates just because his nose is different. Just because his bright, cherry-red nose isn't small, dark and boring liking everyone else's.

And because of that one little difference, he's laughed to scorn and the majority don't take the time to discover that really, Rudolph, is a darn nice kid... uh, reindeer. He loves his parents, he's sweet and he just wants to be loved and accepted like everyone else at reindeer school. But no, that's asking too much. Even his teachers laugh at him (shame on them!).

But then, poof! Suddenly, Christmas Eve rolls in all foggy-like and since Santa can't see to drive his sleigh, Christmas is nearly cancelled. But then someone remembers that goofy little kid, Rudolph, the one with the nose like a huge red lantern, and Rudolph is whisked to the head of the reindeer pack and Christmas is saved, thanks to that funny little kid... uh, reindeer, who, just the previous week, was considered a royal loser.

Oh but now--now!--Rudolph is considered a hero. And then how the reindeer 'loved him' (if that's love, I'll take spaghetti). They even shouted-out with glee, because of course, now, Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer is going down in history.

But only now, only after he proved himself a useful member of society. Only after his 'disability' saved Christmas for all of mankind. Only after Rudolph became a valuable asset, a famous reindeer and a credit to his family and the entire world at large.

Give me a break!

Right there is the kind of stuff which is messing us all up, stressing us out and making us appreciation-hungry nuts. The fact is, Rudolph was valuable before that foggy Christmas Eve. He was a creation of God, a son, a friend, a member of woodland society and just a sweet little deer. And here is the truth:

Today you are valuable to God.
Today God loves you just as you are, famous or unknown. For you are not unknown to Him.
Today God would have sent Jesus to die for you, even if you were the only person on Earth.
Today, with God, you are a winner, not a loser.
Today, you do not have to prove yourself to God. He knows your weaknesses and He's standing ready to give you His strength in those areas.
Today, even if you overcame all your weaknesses, God would not love you any better than He does right this minute.
Today God is thrilled that you are His child and He wouldn't trade you for all the perfect, got-it-all together, famous, Christmas-saving people in the whole World.

Really.

And I hope you'll remember that.

What a difference a few months can make (which can be a good thing--remember that if you ever begin to despair)... Here's my blog header, only the winter version. Personally, I prefer the autumnal look. Brrr... It's cold out there!


Want to know how Western New York looks for months and months? These photos from our property pretty much will show you, well, except for the rows and rows of houses, some just inches away from each other. But the overall dreariness is the same.


Do not let your first visit to New York state be in the winter! You'll fly away with the wrong impression. Trust me. (Click on these photos for the full scary effect of the trees from the movie, The Village. Yikes!) :)

Want to see how winter should look everywhere? Go stand in Clarice's yard, instead. You'll come away enchanted out of your socks.



Need a peaceful place to go right this minute to spend some quiet downtime with God? Here's one of my favorite places to do that. (If you wish to hear music, turn up your sound.) I love this place... love 'standing' outside in the snow and watching the skaters, listening to the music and dreaming...

I'll return later today (most likely) but I just wanted to share this special place with you as I do each year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Where Debra Almost Bites It In a Snowdrift

I don't know. I just don't know.

Maybe I'm not cut out for this Simple Country Life after all.

I've not mentioned our septic system alarm here, but it's been making us wild. The alarm, in the basement, goes off---riiiiiiiiiiiiing--about every other day--or less--or more. Sometimes twice a day. It worked fine in the summer and early autumn--stayed silent. But the last few wet weeks I've too often had to race down to the basement to push the off button (with a hand over my ears to protect them from the shrillness...remember that Star Trek episode? Kinda like that.).

That's the easy part.

But then I must go out the back door, circle around the house, and walk about fifteen yards to the inch-off-the-ground outlet with the tiny reset button inside a clear cover which sticks like crazy. Then I have to get down on one knee and practically press my face to the ground before I can see the microscopic reset button to press it, listening, feeling carefully by my fingertip for the correctness of the clicking noise, signaling the pump is back on.

Well. Try doing all that in pitch black darkness with howling winds, blowing snow in your face and a 0 degree windchill after traipsing through two (or more) feet of snow (snow which is covering the bucket we've placed over the outlet, so where is it?), no gloves (don't ask) and with no one in the house to care you're out there and the neighbors unable to see you or hear you if you fall and can't get back up.

That was the latest episode at Healing Acres last night. Tom was at work (I'd not have let him go out, anyway) and the alarm went off at 8:00 and I couldn't find my gloves, got the snow shovel and went out anyway-- and two of my finger tips still feel weird this morning (does that kind of thing heal?). And by the time the wind pushed me back into the house, (nightgown and robe all frozen at the bottom under my long wool coat) and after recalling those Little House stories of people being discovered, frozen, very near their houses, I was gasping deep gasps, trying to breathe and fuming and so mad that I was spitting nails. Or almost.

This is just a test.... this is just a test.... this is just a test...

There's some kind of a flaw in the septic's outlet/circuit/pump/whole design because the system was drained just over a couple years ago and you can usually go five years, or so, especially with just two people in the house, as was the case before us and with us now.

But this morning I've calmed down. We are going to call an electrician, first, to check it out.

I do not care that we have no extra money for this. I do not care what the cost will be (though, don't tell the electrician that). My life is worth a few hundred dollars. At least, I think so.

****
The good thing? Our neighbor across the street came yesterday morning with his snow blower and cleared our entire driveway and in front of the whole barn. Bless him.

Always, there is something good for which to be thankful. You remember that and I will, too, ok?

****
Alas, Tom thinks he has an idea... one involving a very long extension cord... an idea which would also show us just what is wrong, exactly. We'll see how that goes. If we can bypass the electrician, hooray.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Feeling Down?



So I've been zipping around Blogland and good golly, Miss Molly.... Half of the place is all in a December funk.

What to do? Well, I don't know. :)

But maybe some personal gifts would help. Here are a few... be extravagant with them!

Give yourself a break. Stop trying to control your world.

Stop expecting more from yourself than even God, Himself, is expecting.

Forgive yourself for your mistakes.
Forgive others, too, while you're at it. Let it go!

Create something.


Give yourself permission to rest, relax and recharge.
Give yourself permission to be happy in the midst of Imperfect Life.

Watch a new movie or a favorite old one.

Eat a cupcake.
Or stop eating cupcakes if sugar is what's bringing you down. :)

Take a Christmas card to your neighbor.
Drive around and look at Christmas lights on houses.


Read the book you've been meaning to read for months.


Call someone you've not spoken to in ages or send a heart-felt email. Stop waiting for them to contact you... be the first to be kind.

Send someone some flowers. Or cookies. Or a gift certificate.


Bake Christmas cookies with your kids (or borrow kids if you don't have any).


Just do it, whatever 'it' means to you. Burst through that wall of procrastination.

Get out of the house. Crawl out of your rut. Walk in the snow.


Appreciate. Appreciate. Appreciate.


Listen to upbeat music.


Take your Vitamin B complex.


Pray--or even better--listen to the Greatest Encourager ever.


Saturday, December 20, 2008



Snow. Deep, cold, freezing blankets of it. Everywhere.
We've a promise of one long winter. Days and weeks of flinging on my black wool coat (which never wholly dries this time of year) and my gloves and knitted hat every hour, or so, to brave the white elements and shovel. Shovel, shovel, shovel all that snow so Tom can get out to drive to work.
Oh, one of his tractors is all set with a snow plow, but alas, a part on the tractor broke. I told him with a tired sigh, "Your tractors are your tractors, not mine. I cannot handle the bad news they bring."
So I shovel and shovel in the silence as I did yesterday in the blizzard, flinging snow against the wind which hurled ice crystals back into my face. Tom slept, for he had to work the night shift, but I beg him not to shovel anyway, him with his polio-wrecked leg and discs all a mess in his back.
I don't mind all this shoveling, not at this point in my Life, anyway. There's Grace galore all over me, drenching me, to do it.
And I am not alone out there in the swirling crystals. No, so not alone. Out there He is there, waiting, helping strengthen my back with each shovel load I swing. Grace, she's there, too, helping like mad, as well.
But it is He, the lover of my soul, who I seek out in the wind-thrown drifts, He who keeps me calm and working steadily. He who keeps me company. And He who sent our neighbor over yesterday with his snow blower to blow away what I could not have shoveled even with Grace, even with Him.
And it is He here inside with me, leaning against me on the couch while I rest before I brave the elements again. Always there, always here, always like a candle within me, warming me, a candle whose flame burns and glows and feeds and never, ever is snuffed out.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Gifts For My Readers



Since I like to keep Christmas as simple as possible, I am offering, again, the Christmas gifts I've given you, my readers, the last four years. I enjoy giving them early in case you would like to share some of the gifts with your own friends and family. There's a variety here for both men and women, well, I hope you'll agree. :)

Wishing you all an early Merry Christmas... I appreciate your readership and friendship way more than you know!

******

Free bookmarks for you or a child:

Printable Bookmarks

To watch free movies and tv series online go here:

Free Movies

To listen, free, to old radio shows from the 1930's and 40's, go here:

Radio Lovers

To walk in and visit a beautiful cottage home (I love this place), go here:

Becky's Cottage

For free printable Christmas gift tags and enclosures, go here:

Christmas Gift Tags

To have fun trying on clothes online (forget those depressing dressing rooms! This is more like the days of paper dolls--and you are the doll.)--go here:

Lands End (Click on My Virtual Model to get started.)

To receive a free issue of Good Old Days Magazine (no credit card required), go here:

Good Old Days Magazine (Scroll down to 'Send No Money Now' when subscribing.)

If you enjoy Victorian photography, go here:

Victorian and Edwardian Photography

To download free charts and lists to help keep you and your family organized, go here:

Digital Women

For lots of cool old black and white photos from life in the 1930's, go here:

The 1930's

For free dollhouse accessory printables, go here:

Dollhouse Printables

To find amazing pictures to copy and paste into your blog or in emails for friends, go here:

All Posters

If you are into the fairy scene, go here:

Wee Folk Studio
Cecily Mary Barker

If you would someday like to visit Andy Griffith's 'Mayberry', go here:

Mt. Airy, NC

If you were a big fan of 'The Waltons,' go here:

The Waltons

To read hundreds of classic books free online, go here:

Page By Page Books

If you like vintage paper dolls, go here:

Betsy McCall
Dress the Digital Dolls (there's more than one page, click on the white-lettered names)

To receive a free issue of Reminisce Magazine (no credit card required), go here:

Reminisce Magazine (click on Bill Me Later when subscribing)

If you'd like to visit the gorgeous Christmas windows in New York City, go here:

New York City Christmas Windows

Roger Ebert's List of 100 Best Films:

Best Films

To read inspiring stories:

Capper's Magazine

All about homemaking creatively and on a budget (terrific site, considering today's economy!):

Heart for Home

To make your own kitchen mixes:

Homemade Mixes

To visit an imaginative tea room:

Prudence's Tea Room (Click on photos to enlarge.)
***

If you'd like to do something kind for fellow bloggers, leave comments at the blogs of those who almost never receive comments.

Add blogs to your blogroll...it's a compliment when you do so.

If a blogger's writing has meant something to you this year, let him/her know.

*****
And again, Merry Christmas to you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

So yesterday good ol' Debra got into the Christmas decorating mood. Finally.

It began when I drooled all over my computer keyboard while clicking through Myrna's house here. Gracious. The woman is a decorating artiste! Please do pop over there after reading this, ok? You'll love it.

Then afterward, Tom and I drove to the Big City, well, the Town of Niagara, and there at Dollar Tree, of all places, I actually felt tingles of creative Christmas merriment. (I know. I know. At Dollar Tree?) But it was there that I found these lovely Christmas balls:






Aren't they nifty? Just five for a dollar. And I also bought the two tiny wreaths here in this photo and the door hanger in the top photo. Tom loved the things I found and when my Christmas-loving friend, Laura, comes by on Thursday (and Naomi and Carol on Christmas Day) at least our house won't appear so Hum-Bug-like. At least they'll know I tried.
Oh! And these amazing deer followed me home from there, too:


I think I'll keep them out all year long.

Of course, I gravitated toward all things autumnal in color. I noticed that. And here, before we moved to this farmhouse, I'd meticulously planned to veer away from autumn-colored walls and decor-- my dream was blue walls and white decor in nearly every room. I mean, for 14 years we'd lived in "Autumn Cottage" (as we named our last home) and I was ready for something different. I believed I wanted all the glorious pastels I was craving online--all those adorable cottage-type homes some of you have crafted in amazing ways, the ones I stare at for hours.

But now I'm not so sure. Slowly, autumn is creeping back into my life, into my home, as though I cannot help it. I mean, hey... You don't know this, but I've been searching for just the right shade of autumn-gold for the walls of our living room--and not having much luck because it's a bold color I'm envisioning inside my head, yet those bold color paint chips downright frighten me. "Dare I go so bold?," I ask myself. Hmm.

Well, if you're still even reading this gibberish, what am I trying to say? Maybe this: Often in this Life, we must step out to find out. We must paint whole rooms before we discover that, wow! That's not me at all. Or we may need to become brave-beyond-belief and take some steps which, just thinking about them, scares us no end. And yet often, we only learn new things about ourselves--or Life--after we jump out of boats... or tip-toe down new roads... or live in different houses or states or within a new, open mind.

And that's why dreading and resisting change is an awful way to live. For me, anyway. Always, when I step out and find out, I learn ways to better maneuver around in this world--and discover what I love (or detest) in this amazing Life which God has given me. Swimming in uncharted waters is always a pretty scary--yet exciting--way to learn something new...


...and heaven help us if we ever stop learning.




Saturday, December 13, 2008


One more time for this post.....

I used to wait to be happy. I was waiting until...
The nightly news stopped showing tragedies...The world felt like a better, kinder place...My daughter was home safe upstairs and not out driving...My husband was in a great mood...My house was clean from attic to basement...Everybody at church liked me...We had lots of thin green dollars in the bank...I felt 100% healthy...The sun was shining and warm...And I (and the people in my life) did everything right...

Then one day it hit me--I was postponing happiness!
I was waiting for all my ducks to be in a row--When those ducks would forever be spread out upon the pond--Never, ever in a straight line.
So I began giving myself permission to be happy--in the middle of an imperfect afternoon(!) Happiness was for right now because right now God is good--even when I'm not.

He provides joy, even now, in the midst of turbulent times. And He gives me permission, too, to be happy.
And that has made all the difference.

***"...to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified..." ...Isaiah 61:3
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." ... John 16:33

Friday, December 12, 2008


Some of my odd Christmas decor, the stuff from the half-full file box...


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Zipping around Blogland, I'm finding many friends who are slogging along in the otherwise fast-paced Christmas Lane this year. They're not even sure why their holiday engines just aren't revving up like they normally do in December.

Well folks, I'm right their crawling along with you.

Of course, the past ten Christmases (or so) I've slowed way down and cut way back and gone all calm and laid-back in progressive degrees. Or tried to, anyway. One year it hit me that I just didn't like doing Christmas the way we (and everybody else) were doing it. In fact, you might recognize the old grapevine Christmas tree, above, from my post about Instant Christmas. (Read that and you'll either laugh or be scandalized.)

Well guess what? We don't even have that pitiful little tree anymore! It didn't survive Debra's Big Ruthless Decluttering Adventure of 2007, for the whole kit-and-kaboodle, decorations still on the poor thing, was given away.

Want to be further traumatized? Not that we had many Christmas decorations anyway, but I whittled those all down into one white file box before we moved. I got the box out of the attic this week--it's only half-full. Hey, I kept only the decor I liked, and well, that was it. Half a file box.

But you know? I can't help it. I keep hearing God say, "It's okay, Debra. Relax. Just do Christmas the way I tell you to... and everything will be all right."

And Folks, I'm just crazy enough to believe Him. He's got this amazing, incredible track record from the past. Many has been the time I've spent 6 weeks or 6 months or even 6 years trying to accomplish Something Great when--finally--I allowed God to take over and give me new ideas and bam! In six minutes or one hour Something Great happened because God used my words or my hands or my eyes or my pen or my computer board to show Himself to a hurting soul. And He brought healing.

Oh the miracles when I get out of the way.

And perhaps that's the message for this Christmas, too... the reason for our Yule Time sluggishness. Maybe God is trying to hold us still so we'll listen awhile to His ideas... so He can teach us His ways, instead. After all, His ways are higher, so much higher, than our own. And they always will be.

****
"Be still and know that I am God..."

****

"So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit]." Romans 8:4 (Amplified)

****

In case you missed it, here's my post about making gift-giving saner by far..

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lovin' Bob The Milkman



Ha! Thought that title might wake you up. :)

Actually, what I mean is that I love how it is Bob (and not me) who drives my groceries over snowy, icy roads and sets them right on top of my 1940's formica kitchen table. I putter around a warm home and voila! Bottles and cartons of milk, juice and buttermilk and tubs of cottage cheese and yogurt and sticks of butter and pounds of cheese appear right inside my kitchen. Almost by retro-magic.

And something else... Now when I watch June Cleaver take a bottle of milk from her refrigerator, I no longer think, "Oh, how far away and removed from now, June and her milk bottles." No, instead I say, "I do that too, June! I pour our milk from glass bottles while wearing my apron--no crisp dress and pearls, though. But oh, you make me want to wear them."

In fact, you know how many ol' fussbudgets declare that, now, in 2008, the Good Old Days are gone forever... and how no one delivers milk in bottles anymore? Well, they are wrong. On both counts.

And you may quote me.

*****

Now playing outside our dining room window:



Oh please do click on the top kitchen photo. You simply won't believe what is written on the milk bottle! :)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oh, some of you will love this. It's a blog called Grandpa's 1947 Farm and at the top, Dawn has 59 pictures of her grandfather's farm which she's now restoring. Tom and I sat here on Saturday gazing at each photo and absorbed ideas galore.

What is it about this place, I wonder? There's an old-fashioned charm, I think... an obvious spirit of making the most of what one has... and I see love of land and family in every square foot. It is a Grandma and Grandpa kind of place--we take country drives and I recognize them and am always catapulted back in time.

Something else? The farm sits in Auburn, CA where not only did I live for a year while in high school, but my own grandparents lived there lotsa years. My fondest childhood memories--they are all in Auburn still ... even now I go back to the gardener's quarters on Acacia Dr. in my memory to sit with my dear grandparents when present times get tough.

Be sure to click on "see all 59 pictures." And if you prefer cottage decorating you will love the sweet cottage in Dawn's backyard--she did an amazing job on that old woodshed. (Of course, now I want a cottage in my backyard!) :) The main house, too, is lovely in its simplicity.

Please tell me what you think about this farm... Maybe you can explain more specifically than I why this 1.4 acre holds more charm than many larger, more extravagant, more expensive farms.


***
Dawn mentions a 1940's book called, The "Have-More" Plan. Read about it here. I ordered one from Amazon this morning--sounds pefect. Beyond perfect, actually.


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To view the best grandparents ever, go here.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Need a pick-me-up? A Happy Shot in the arm?

Just listen to the song called, Happy, here.

Guaranteed to cheer up even the most whiny of down-in-the-mouthers... especially when you know, for yourself, the Person of whom she sings. How good to be reminded of the happiness God gives when we slow down long enough to receive it... when He truly becomes our #1 source of joy and we learn how to drink from that source all our hours of ordinary days.

Play it loud. Play it over and over. Smile, dance, sing along...
***
"But let all those that put their trust in you rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because you defend them: let them also that love your name be joyful in you." Psalm 5:11
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Need to read some good news for a change? You'll love this. I promise.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


This week I smiled at something. After six months, my house and I are becoming better, calmer friends.

Maybe you've read between my lines here. Perhaps you have surmised that we, my old farmhouse and I, have had our uncomfortable moments. For yes, we've peered askance at each other on afternoons and pondered if --truly--we were meant for each other after all.

All the money we have poured into her! Too many days I've written too many checks to too many workers who spent too much time updating this place. And too many days I just wanted those guys to go away so I could pull weeds in my garden or dream in our meadow without being watched. Yet winter and snow and cold has halted all that and the peace! The quiet soothes and tells me all will be ok. Now.

And I'm not even mentioning Tom's buying all these tractors (he has three--I hadn't told you yet), nor my turning corners and discovering him--ack!-- up on a ladder (he's the last person who should be up on one) or lifting the heavy things his doctor says not to.

And being a typical first-born, I can get a tad obsessive about being organized and so, move me into an old farmhouse with few luxuries like drawers and hooks and shelves and then add the truth that we got too ruthless while packing and gave away too many dressers and desks and then add our hundred poorly marked boxes-- and well, my sanity has tip-toed to various brinks. Especially distressing? My books--dearest treasures of all--were inside boxes, outside of boxes, upstairs in piles on the floor and downstairs in cupboards, in hutches under dishes and stacked inside the grandfather clock. But now, thankfully, I have my little blue library at the top of the stairs and a couple extra dressers, too, both from yard sales.

And give me an electric cooking stove when I've always used gas (except in our temporary apartment before we moved here) and I can become cranky when reaching for the wrong dial (over and over) for the wrong burner or burning things or taking forever to heat them up. After nearly a year of cooking on electric stoves I am finally getting used to it, though, alas, this morning I did burn my French toast. sigh

All summer we stored our take-to-the-curb trash cans out in the barn and I'd been attempting not to dread crawling through snowdrifts just to empty the trash all this upcoming winter. But hooray! An amazing idea popped into my head: why not keep our trash cans in the basement, instead? I'd stay dry when emptying the trash and only five steps lead up out of there so I can easily pull the cans up on trash day and take them to the curb (often it's only one trash can anyway). So far so good... so far, so better than good, actually.

And this house's heater--egads! Finally--finally!--the heater has stopped turning itself on when it gets cold. Not when we were cold, nor the house, but the heater. Beyond annoying, that was. And its indecipherable instruction booklet, one written obviously by a nuclear physicist, was no help.

Oh, it takes time to form a new relationship, even one with an old house. Or perhaps especially one with an old house, Time is required to discover a new rhythm--one to swing and dance with. And here I'd thought I moved to the beat of my own drummer... that I moved at a more serene pace... that I was different than the rest of the 'instant everything' world.

So I guess, really, I should thank this old house for humbling me... for sticking the flashing neon Impatient Person sign before my eyes... and for being patient with me while we're still learning to not only co-exist, but thrive. Together.


***

Sunday morning--outside our kitchen window. Seventeen degrees F. Ah, more early winter.... and he is here to stay for months.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Oh! I so enjoyed this post. Sarah often reminds me of myself during the days when my own Naomi (she has one, too) was tiny and growing.

You might want to check out other blogs in my blogroll--I've added quite a few in the past two weeks.

I'll return later..... but for now, please check out Sarah's post, especially if you have young children.

***
And here's a paragraph from Domestic Affairs, by Joyce Maynard, which goes along well with Sarah's post:

"There's a rhythm mothers--successful mothers, anyway--get into. The pace is slower. You might move pretty fast (you'll do plenty of running), but you never get anywhere fast. You have to be prepared to stop and study a caterpillar for five minutes, or hop up three times in the middle of a conversation to pour juice. Walks are seldom taken in straight lines. Children move as if they had all the time in the world--and the best full-time mothers I know act that way too."

***
My other references to Joyce's, Domestic Affairs, can be found here, here, here and here.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Fun-Time Christmas Shopping



I am going Christmas shopping today. I can't wait! I'll be surrounded by oh-so-quietness, calmness and I'll be stress-free. Not a screaming mother or child for miles.



Huh?


I'll be Christmas shopping online.


Love, love, love it.


I'll be sending out Christmas cards today, too. I bought those online back in January. My Christmas stamps arrived last week--bought those online, also.

Ain't Life grand when you figure out some of the secrets? :)

*******
Oh, and I even bought a Christmas gift for myself this weekend. It's a set of three Martha Stewart holiday dvd's. Got it for --get this-- $1 on Ebay. (And okay, okay.... you non-Martha fans are snickering, "She paid too much." But did I ask you??) ...heh....


***
P.S. Yikes! So there I was doing my Christmas shopping at Ye Olde Amazon.com, when I spied two sets of dvd's I didn't even know existed, but ones I'd desired for eons and eons: The first seasons of My Three Sons and The Donna Reed Show. Hooray! I won't put them on my Christmas list since Tom and I are doing Low-Key-Christmas this year (due to all the $$$ we put into that mega-complex we've got going in our backyard, also known as the barn). But alas! Someday I hope to own these....... happy sigh....

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

This Old Farmhouse, Saving Money and Obama

I am still getting acquainted with this old farmhouse... It's taking time and was a bit rough at first, for I'd forgotten how important drawers are... and kitchen cupboards... and hooks for hanging damp things. I spent months collecting what we were missing and too, creating what we didn't have. And a funny thing.... Only two weeks ago did I realize our kitchen stove had a drawer at the bottom! Good grief. I'd thought it was a broiler because of the broiler pan sitting down there... and because of all the distractions inside my head which come from moving twice in one year when one is in ones late 40's. Alas.

*******
You know how They say, "There's no great loss without some gain?" Well, I think of that each time I see tv and online news segments on How To Save Money In These Times of Recession. Man, they've been everywhere--and I love them all. In the thirty years of my marriage, I have majored in saving money. From the early years till these late ones, I've scoured magazines for helpful hints and clipped coupons and learned how to cook something from nothing and how to craft what I need to run a household. And now all those hints are everywhere I look--and still, I never tire of them.

Partly, I enjoy learning all this saving money stuff because I'm a cheapskate at heart. heh. But the other part is that I'll do nearly anything in order to keep my job as a Happy Homemaker. Man, I cringe when I think of working outside of my home, but alas, if I had to get a job, I hope I could do it with an appropriate, good attitude. Again, I hope I could.

*******

Tom and I can't believe all the Obama Talk there is on tv. It's like, "See Obama and his family choose a dog, a church and a school. See Obama's wife choose her clothes. See Obama choose his Cabinet and his breakfast cereal. See Obama pretending he is already in Office." heh.

And when we hear folks both on tv and in our very own little world speak about their glorious hopes in Obama, Tom and I joke to each other along this tangent: "Hey! Don't worry about our money difficulties. I hear that Obama is gonna fix everything. He will solve all our problems..." or ... "Aren't you glad Obama is going to save us all from America's messes?" .... and ... "Won't it be a great and wonderful day when Obama is in charge of everything... when we officially become an "Obamanation?"

Heh....... You've got to have a sense of humor, especially in 2008. You've just got to.

***
Oh! Check out Patty's dining room in her new header. So bold, so beautiful!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I got up at 5:00 this morning and felt like, "A new day!" Suddenly I felt tons of hope--hope that today was when I would finally stop acting like a time-wasting, dessert-eating, non-exercising, tv-watching, procrastinating slug.

It felt like a whole new day and I felt like a whole new me. As though I could--with God--conquer any lousy habit out there. And for the first three hours all was right with my world.

And then I opened our daughter's cell phone bill, the only bill of hers which Tom and I still pay.

$324!! Ack! Ack! Ack! Usually it runs around $61.

Well, I emailed Naomi and asked what in the world??? I asked her to get back to me asap. But man oh man, I did not want to tell Tom. Bills make his stomach hurt. heh. I am the bill writer-outer in the family, though if there's a big bill problem, he is the fix-it-over-the-phone guy.

Naomi emailed me and asked, "Are you kidding me?" She had no idea what had gone wrong. So there was nothing left to do but to tell Tom.

And the morning had started out so well.

But alas! After all these years, I've figured out a few things. I'm no fool. I realized this was just another test. Would I mope around and mutter, "See? This is what happens when you get a tiny breakthrough!" Or would I bang a few pans around and say, "See if I ever let myself feel hopeful again!"

Orrrrr....... Would I, instead, (as I did) say, "This is just a test! This is just a test! My faith in this being a whole new day for me is only being tested. To see how real it is within me."

Sometimes I almost feel like I am cheating at Life. Like I stole some answers from the teacher's briefcase, or something.

So what happened? Tom did the phone call thing, found out the huge fee had to do with Naomi's eating away of the rollover minutes for three months--and after some finagling and promising to start a two phone account in January (instead of a single...long story) ... and after lots of mercy on AT&T's part.... well, they are only charging us $104.

We can handle that.

This is just a test.... this is just a test..... Words that can change everything. At least, that's what I've found.


***
re: The above photo..... Remember that ash try stand thing I bought at a yard sale this summer to set glasses on while sitting at our coffee-table-less love seat? Well, now that we have enough end tables for that, Tom had the terrific idea to make it into an umbrella stand. I love it!