Friday, January 30, 2009



"A merry heart does good like a medicine."

Now there's a terrific verse for another annoying snowy, bad-economic-times kind of day like this one.

I've heard that 80 percent of people in doctors' offices are there due to stress-related symptoms. Hmmm. Perhaps my goal should be to stay calm and happy with God in my life. 

What I'm thinking? Trust and relaxation just may be like general health booster shots.

I'm a big believer that our pathetic thoughts and worries can make us sick and leave us vulnerable to diseases. You might disagree. But in my nearly 50 years I've been a 'watcher', a 'ponderer of things in my heart' and I've seen that the worriers, complainers and 'poor me types' are generally those who go downhill the fastest, with hardly a push from anything else. It's like they whisk themselves down the hill into years of disease.

Again, you might not agree. (And too, I'm not saying all sick people are worriers.) 

But I'm thinking that as I near 50, more than ever, I need not only to change my diet in revolutionary ways, I also must watch--more closely than ever--the way I respond to hard times. Rather than allowing that overwhelmed feeling to pull me down, I need to choose booster shots of peace, trust and knowing that my times are in God's hands. 

For people living within those hands should be the least fearful and calmest around.


*****


"As a man thinks in his heart so is he..."

" My son, attend to my words; incline your ear unto my sayings.

Let them not depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart.
For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." (From Proverbs 4)

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Out Of The Box



Reposted from 2005--



Naomi has moved more than half her possessions into her new apartment and last night was her first night there.

I'm so excited for her. I remember the months I lived alone at age 19 in my own little two-story house. I paid just $120 rent per month and even back in 1978 that was a terrific deal. I felt gratitude for God's watchful eye upon me and I was ecstatic to finally be on my own.


To succeed or fail on my own.
To stay up as late as I pleased, even into the wee hours of the morning if that is what I chose.
To bring home paper bags of groceries and place them in my own (old) refrigerator and yellow cupboards.
To decorate my little house however I wanted (albeit with tons of imagination and almost no money).

I had four months in that cozy house in a tiny mountain town, and then Tom and I got married and continued living there. Oh my, there were fights and fireworks as we struggled to live peacefully together, but there was fun, too. We often felt like the kids we actually were, just playing house. Beginning a new adventure together.

This morning? I'm feeling the same way. Giddy. And Tom and I are alone again playing house, yet with many pluses we lacked all those years ago.

We now have a history. We've learned to live peacefully together (well, most days).
We're reaping good things from our 26 years of Life Lessons learned.
We have cool stuff. We don't need to save-up for more furniture and things.
I get to make my own Dream Room upstairs out of one of Naomi's former rooms.
I get my kitchen all to myself.

And --

I feel blessed that Naomi lived with us for a quarter century, especially since she was/is our only child.

What is my point? (I usually always have one.)

My point is that life with God is amazing. With Him, I don't have to feel a certain way when certain things happen. With Him, I can be happy for my little-girl-all-grown-up and I can be excited for the fresh beginning for Tom and myself.

God does all things well and makes all things new. I don't have to feel this is the end of everything.

I never have to feel how everyone expects me to feel. And neither do you.

******



"There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning." ... Louis L'Amour

Wednesday, January 28, 2009



It's official. As of today, January 28, 2009, I am sick of winter.

Phooey! We've not seen our lawn for months and this deep-freeze is weeks deep and snow has fallen all day long and I'm longiiiiiing for our first ever Spring on the farm and to be awakened by the sun (oh, how I'm missing that).... But yes, I am thankful that it's not the ice which other states have gotten. Ice is worse, I realize that. (Freezing rain unravels me.)

Sigh. Complaining, though, will only make this winter feel longer than it already does. I need to switch to Thankful Gear. One easy thanks? Our neighbor trudged over here twice today with his snow blower to clear our long driveway. Bless him. (I say little prayers for him whenever he's out there.)




So what remains is for me to pull up the ol' boot straps and think of more projects and ask for more grace to complete them. And while I'm there, to ask for more creativity and inspiration and gumption. After all, it's only January and where we live, Spring does not come early.





***********

"You have not because you ask not..."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What Memories Am I Making Now?


(Another re-run, one from a few years ago, one I recall sometimes.)

Magazines like Reminisce or Good Old Days are filled with childhood memories. I take notes of what these now-grown children remember from years long gone. Funny how you can sit at a table with a cup of coffee and relive a day of someone's life all over again, even if that day happened before you were even born.

Sometimes I go back into my own childhood and relive a memory. I spend time with the good ones and tend to leave the bad ones alone, perhaps believing they will die from neglect.

But the pleasant memories make me smile and they make me wonder, "How am I spending my adult life? What memories am I making now?"

I have a friend I've known more than fourteen years--sweetest person on Earth. But every time I've talked with her she's spent half of our conversations saying she hates her job. She's afraid to look for another career so she stays in the same one, year after year. Her adult children make her crazy and sad with the choices they make and she has an emotional (and physical) war going on with her old house. And more.

She does have a terrific husband. And you know? I try to bring a little happiness into her days, but there's only so much another person can do. So I watch her spending her years like money--using it up on stressful, worried days, one after another.

And that is the life she is remembering.

It takes a lot of letting go to have a happy life. Letting go of fear, of perfectionism, of believing things must always be one certain way. A certain releasing of our children as they live their adult lives and learn from their own mistakes.

It takes releasing guilt and condemnation. If I am always a guilt-ridden, sin-conscious mess, I will never be filled with joy. They cannot exist in the same place. A joyful life requires that everyday we leave our sins at Jesus' feet--and then toddle forward as a baby with her fingers crunching those of Someone who walks with ease.

When I look back at my life, I want to remember reading books on quiet afternoons. And sitting on my husband's lap in the recliner. Laughing with my daughter in the kitchen or chasing her cats with the cat-nip mouse. I want to recall kindnesses both received and given and painting my walls while Leave It To Beaver blared on the tv. Looking at those walls and these rooms by lamplight at night while thinking, "Heaven must be pretty great if it's going to beat this."

My days are a gift and they are flying. Each year passes more quickly than the one before.

May I always spend my days wisely and with a whole lot of joy mixed-in.




******



The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.
-Martha Washington



"I have yet to find that God ever uses a man that is all the time looking on the dark side...and is discouraged and cast down...There is no life in (him). Now if we are going to succeed we have got to be of good courage, and the moment we get out eyes on God and remember who He is...then it is that we will have courage given us." ...D. L. Moody

Monday, January 26, 2009


The deep freeze is still here and yet the sun is shining! And that makes all the difference.


This, above, is the meadow outside our house. We awaken in the mornings to see new deer and rabbit and squirrel prints in the snow and this window, this window where I took the photo from upstairs, is the one where Lennon The Cat sits and watches the nighttime action. I imagine the moonlight shining down upon the animals in our snowy meadow while they wander and scamper. And I imagine Lennon being enchanted by it all, wishing he were outside, too, especially since he believes outside is always warm because always it is warm when he goes out with me Spring or Summer or Fall.


Yet although our Winter nights hover near zero, they are not still nor frozen, not according to the morning animal tracks we find. Not according to Lennon who keeps all these secrets to himself, night after night, sitting in the silent, dark window upstairs.


Saturday, January 24, 2009



Part of our upstairs closet...beyond dreadful, right? (Try not to gag.)

Well, here it is after Phase 1:



What a difference some paint makes. The paper on the shelves is some wallpaper I found, new in the package, at Salvation Army for 50 cents. Don't you love it when a great deal sits there waiting for you to discover it?

We didn't have an official linen closet in this house so I am making one. I am all about creating what I need rather than sitting around wishing for it.

You've read them, I know you have. 

You know, those 'forwards' with stories, poems about how the author has finally learned that it's the simple things in life which mean the most. How her family comes first now so she'll be doing less dusting, cleaning in order to spend time with her children. Nice, sweet lessons for us all.

Man, those things irk me.

I mean, why can't we have time to clean and time to spend with our children? Why do the only alternatives appear to be obsessive dusting or not dusting at all? How is it better to live inside a dirty house as long as you're spending quality time with your kids?

???

This is what Debra has said for years: The key will always be balance.

There's a time for cleaning and there's a time to spend playing with your family. There's even a time to spend cleaning house with your family. For isn't it also our responsibility, as parents, to raise our children to know how to care for their future homes so they'll live responsibly within their own four walls?

It was in the 1980's that all this "play, don't clean" stuff began. I know--I was there. 

I read all the magazines and saw it over and over. And look where it's gotten us! TV shows like Clean House, Clean Sweep and Life Laundry are huge ratings grabbers--people everywhere long to learn how to dig themselves out from beneath their clutter-piled homes. They're gasping for air, some limits and common sense, as well.

And yes, often all that is a result of the 'me first, I deserve to buy everything I want' mentality saturating our nation. Yet, I believe messy homes also happen because of the thinking, "It's beneath me to clean--wasn't that what those sad, un-liberated June Cleaver types did in the 50's? Clean house? Me do something so trivial?"

Alas, cleaning is no small thing. 

Just ask those folks with dust allergies or those living in so much clutter that they struggle every morning to find their keys, wallets, purses, permission slips, books, sweaters--- Items they bought and know they have--somewhere--but now they must go spend money to buy another one.

Oh blessed balance!

Spend time with your children, play with them, but have them help you clean the home you all share, too. Do it together and it'll become a habit, something you do with barely a thought (or a complaint). 

Who knows? You just might find yourself dusting the coffee table one day, automatically, without realizing you're doing so. And not minding one bit.

And what a pleasant day that will be.


********

"Teach your children well..."

(Speaking of which, here was something fun for old times' sake.)


***

Friday, January 23, 2009



Oh good grief.

Here's an anonymous comment I chose not to publish (at first) because this is exactly what I said not to do in my last post:


"... let me see if I understand what Obama's done so far. We won't torture bad guys who want to blow up our buildings and planes and take innocent American lives, but we will make money available for the killing of unborn innocent humans (abortion). In addition, he's also beginning WWIII by the swift removal of our (volunteer) troops." (Anonymous)




Here's a hint to whoever wrote those words: leaving a comment like that in my email box will not change our government's way of doing things. No, really, it won't! Surprise, surprise. As I wrote yesterday, complaining is the easy way and the easy way is nearly never the path to huge change.

How about if you try these ideas next time, instead?

Become extremely educated in exactly what's happening in the area which most concerns you. Read and study much. Watch what's happening in our world, closely. There's nothing worse, nothing more humiliating, and nothing which makes all conservatives look just plain idiotic than people passionately shouting words which are not true.

Write (educated and informed) letters to your congressmen and state senators voicing your concerns. Or call them. Encourage others to do so.

Comment (calmly, with facts, please) after online news articles which allow you to do so. Respect others' rights to disagree with you and never resort to name-calling, which only destroys any credibility you may have gained.

Make a protest sign and march with it downtown with others who share your beliefs. Or march with a sign in a protest-legal area alone, by yourself, for all to see. I dare you.

Befriend those people who believe differently than you do. Get to know your neighbors. Get to understand them. Become a loving influence in their lives and maybe they will change their ideas. Or maybe they won't. But at least you will have made friends and become a person who can disagree without becoming miserably disagreeable (and friendless).

Self-publish a book of all your research and your most passionate beliefs.

Pray like you have never prayed before. And while on your knees, ask God for more compassion for those who have not yet met Him. Go on a fast if God directs you to do so.

Read your Bible and make certain your beliefs line-up with God's.

Run for public office or volunteer to help those who are already there.

Form a group. Meet regularly to brainstorm and encourage one another.

Create a blog where you can freely share your beliefs and find others who do, as well. But be prepared to hear from people who believe the opposite. As they say, "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

Send out a monthly snail-mail newsletter as an educational tool, one which will encourage others, too. Or send monthly email newsletters.

And never, ever forget this:

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)


You never know. If we're not acting responsibly? It just may be the reason many people are not listening to us.



*****

Thursday, January 22, 2009



It's so easy to complain. Anybody can do it. Anybody.

Personally? I don't enjoy doing what just anybody can do. That's average and well, I don't like being average--never have. I don't believe God's goal for us is to become average, mediocre so we can blend right in.

I read a couple blog posts concerning what's wrong with our Country now that we have a new administration. Well, those posts are easy to write. Why not attempt the harder post? Why not write about what's good about our Country? 

You know, the freedoms we still hold and how there's much kindness to be found in our people. Or what can be good about it if only we'd ______ (insert your own ideas here.) What? You don't have any solutions? Hmm. Why not switch from 'complaining energy' over to 'solution energy' and blog some new ideas after prayer and some use of imagination?

Sometimes we're exhausted simply because we used-up our energy in all the wrong places.


For eight years a bazillion people have complained about the Bush Administration and now? Now I pray that all the rest of us won't take up complaining chants for the next four or eight years regarding the Obama camp.

Need something? Go out and find it. Or stay home and find it or create it or share it with someone who needs it more than you do. Rather than wishing our Country was more old-fashioned, more peaceful, more kind, why not become more old-fashioned and peaceful and kind, yourself?

Want something changed? Change it. Ask God what you should do, then do things His way (His ways bring miracles.) Can't change something huge? Ask God to help you change something small. Perhaps He'd rather you change the atmosphere of your own home first, anyway. And that is something very doable, especially with Him. Charity, after all, begins in the home--always it will. Why? When you toss a stone into a pool of water, suddenly water rings begin circling outward, spreading far.

It's amazing how far rings of love, peace and grace can spread from just one home, one person, especially if God is there to begin the first ring. 

Home will always be the best starting point of any Good Thing.


*******


"Instead of a wishbone, we need more backbone." ...Joyce Meyer

"Bloom where you are planted."   ... Mary Englebreit



******

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

After The Inauguration

The morning after....

And Brenda said it all better than I ever could.

Monday, January 19, 2009




So Kristi said there are no more RH Shumway seed catalogs available this year and that y'all will have to sign up for the 2010 issue. Major bummer!





So I thought I'd take some pictures of these wonderful pages so reminiscent of the 1800's style of catalogs. We do have a scanner but it's upstairs buried in a box somewhere (and likely will remain there), so please bear with these photos. You can click on each to enlarge. Sorry they appear sideways--usually Blogger sets them straight, but obviously my photos have totally confused them this time.


Seed catalogs--what an encouragement! They remind us in January that someday this deep freeze will go, snow will vanish, Spring will return and with it, the time for the sowing of seeds.


Even weeks ago Tom and I already agreed that--this year--we will not take even five minutes of bright, lovely, warm weather for granted. We promised to appreciate every hour of sun and warmth here on our little farm as well as in our tiny town and its farmland surroundings. I will take more walks and look at everything and memorize every seen of this Life which flows too fast, like water between my finers.

We'll each place our hands over our mouth if we even begin to complain about anything. At least, that is our plan. Good weather and golden days in the country are just much, much too precious and too swift to vanish unnoticed and under-appreciated.



Sunday, January 18, 2009



I'm not sure why, but when I go on a big search for new 'God blogs' it's usually a Sunday afternoon and I usually come away with not one new blog, but rather, just a disappointed heart in what I've read.

I don't know.

Maybe if we'd stop fearing we'll lose God's presence, we might just find it-- and keep it. Perhaps if we relied upon Him hourly--and not ourselves--we'd experience the wonder of Him every minute.

And maybe if we stopped being scared about the future, we'd experience joy right now. And therefore, some strength. Some headaches, pains and aches might just vanish, also.

Perhaps if we'd just pray for our leaders rather than criticize and blog about them negatively--we might just come to love them. And understand why they feel and believe as they do. Changes might happen in their actions, thinking as well.

And maybe if we sought to know God, Himself, better rather than to know about Him, we might experience a constant companionship with that Friend who sticks closer than a brother. A relationship which changes everything and makes old things, new. Hourly.

Maybe.


******


Today's post is simple.... One of my all-time favorite passages, a final scene from the Thornton Wilder play, Our Town. These words come to my mind nearly every day of my life~~and I am grateful...


Emily: (softly, more in wonder than in grief)

But, just for a moment now we're all together. Mama, just for a moment we're happy. Let's look at one another. (Pause, looking desperate because she has received no answer. She speaks in a loud voice, forcing herself to not look at her mother)

I can't. I can't go on. It goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another (she breaks down sobbing, she looks around). I didn't realize. All that was going on in life and we never noticed. Take me back - up the hill - to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover's Corners. Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking. And Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths. And sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you.

(She asks abruptly through her tears) Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? - every, every minute?



Saturday, January 17, 2009

Winter Thoughts



Honestly, I don't appreciate being watched. 

I'd hoped to have more privacy out here in the country, but alas, I don't. This example pretty much sums it up: 

Just fifteen minutes after a large tractor-like-thing with a post hole digger was delivered to start building our new garage last October, our neighbor from across the street came over. He told me (Tom wasn't home) that he and _____ saw the post hole digger and they hoped we weren't putting in a fence for animals. 

Because I knew exactly where he was going with this I told him (a tad testily), "No, we're not. We're just building a garage."

He went on (and on) to explain what I already knew--the previous owners had raised sheep and many neighbors had complained, they'd had to sell some sheep, cart others to their new home. Yada, yada, yada. I told him we are in contact with the previous owners and we know all about the sheep fiasco. He said he knew it wasn't any of his business (oh, to reply to that!), but he and ____ just didn't want us to put in a fence , buy animals, then have to undo the whole thing. They didn't want us to lose all that money.

Oh. My. Goodness! When he left, I was inwardly fumingThe post hole digger had only been beside our barn for 15 minutes! 

Suddenly it was like the whole neighborhood stands at their windows 24/7 eyeing us. I felt like, "Please! Can't Tom and I be allowed our God-given freedom to make our own mistakes? Can't we be given some credit now that he's 51 and I'm 49? Can't we live here without feeling like our quasi parents live across the street?

I know, I know. Pride. But still--can't we finally have some freedom?

Some of you understand exactly what I mean. Others will put a positive spin on our neighbor's words--but I'm not feelin' it. Sorry. 

So, like winter quotes often say--at least now in January we have privacy. Well, here inside our house where most of our Winter Life takes place. Outside where I shovel snow and feed the birds there's less privacy because of all those naked trees out there. 

But in here inside? In here there's a whole other world, a cozy, private winter world, and I'm thankful for it.


*****


"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands..." 1 Thessalonians 4:11


******

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Saving Money Around the House



Anne emailed me and said she likes it when I share specific ways of saving money, so Anne, here you go. :)

I make my own maple syrup. You can find recipes online, but I usually use far less sugar. A tiny bottle of maple flavoring lasts forever at our house--you only add a couple drops when you make syrup.

Rather than use Rubbermaid-type plastic containers for leftovers, I use glass bowls. If they don't have their own lid, I just set a glass plate on top rather than using plastic wrap or foil ($$). Plastic breaks down after time and leaches BPA's into foods, so glass bowls are safer anyway.

About the only 'meat' I buy anymore is chicken, tuna and canned salmon. You can do a ton of things with just those, and besides, I'm learning to make lots of vegetarian dishes. If Tom or I want a different kind of meat, we order it during our once-a-week outings.

I make my own household cleaners using water and baking soda and vinegar (etc.). But (I confess) I also buy windshield washer fluid by the gallon (cheap), fill a regular window-washing bottle, then use it to clean countertops, stove tops, floors, and of course, windows. (At least this stuff doesn't smell as toxic as lots of other cleaners.)

I generally tear paper towels in half rather than use a full-size sheet. (Yes, I realize they make paper towels with perforated centers, but I only buy those if they're a great deal on sale. They usually cost a lot more, at least here in NY.)


And here are some hints taken from a post of mine years ago:


I often cook from scratch and make my own mixes. Yet, some things are cheaper to buy ready-made--I love to research that sort of thing and take notes (calculate energy costs of using an oven, etc.) and then decide for myself which way is cheaper and healthier. I love to make my own spaghetti sauce from my own tomatoes--cheap and so good!

I make homemade lunches for Tom to take to work.

We do not own a clothes dryer (by choice). I hang our clothes to dry on wooden racks or outside on a line.

We keep the thermostat at 62 or 63 during the day, 52 at night. I try to use major appliances during off-peak hours.

For exercise I walk around our neighborhoods and also work-out at home (way cheaper and more convenient than a public gym).

I paint our rooms myself and do all my own decorating. This is another thing which has required much research and self-education over the years. I always check "oops paint" first--often I've found the exact color I needed and for only 3 or 4 dollars a gallon(!)

We have cheapo (broadcast) tv cable through Time Warner. Just $8.95 per month for nearly 30 stations, though the rates are going up $1, which actually, I think is pretty fair, all things considered.

Only occasionally do we drive to the theater to watch movies--and the tickets are only $3.50 anytime day or night because it's a 'second-run' theater (I love that place--so 1940's old-fashioned). Our splurge, though, is that, for $14 each month we are signed up with Netflix. No late fees, no postage fees and the movies come right to our mailbox so no gas is involved, either.

Tom loves receiving the newspaper at home (I don't) but I try to make the most of the sales flyers (for groceries) and the coupons on weekends to help 'pay for' the paper subscription.

I try really hard to pay our bills on time (and then try not to kick myself when I occasionally pay one late). I use my own personal credit card only for online purchases and nearly always pay it off each month.

We keep a list of things we'd like to buy and then when summer comes around, we shop at yard sales for those things. We also use our income tax return for some things on that list and for major home repairs and improvements.

I grow a garden each year (container gardens are easy and require little space). We do all our own yard work, shovel our own snow (unless the neighbors help for free) and make our own coffee (well, 98% of the time. We do often buy coffee when we eat out once a week).

We've tithed for 30 years (highly controversial when you admit to that on the Internet, I know!). But hey, I truly believe in 'give and it shall be given unto you' and I've watched that concept work for us these many years. It's made a huge difference in our finances.

And a big one--we've always bought only houses we could afford.

The main thing? I try to view saving money as a fun, beat-the-system challenge, rather than a 'poor me' chore. What a difference attitude makes!


******

Wednesday, January 14, 2009



Well, at least the sun is shining. Our high today is supposed to be only 9 degrees. And tomorrow? They've downgraded the high to -1. Minus 1 for a high!

But hey. Tom is home and will be until Friday evening so we'll hang out and stay warm here in our old farmhouse. Sort of the "and since there's no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow" thing, except without the falling snow. We're still surrounded by the white stuff on the ground, of course.

Two movies will arrive today via Netflix, so one we'll watch this afternoon, the other, tomorrow. What are they, you ask? Prince Caspian and Eagle Eye.

I used to dread these long cold winters here in Buffalo, but you know? Since going online in 2000, winter has never seemed quite so long nor so cold. All those websites just waiting to teach me more about homemaking or history or gardening or decorating or anything! Weeks and months of potential lessons right within my home--no risky trek to the city library needed.

But mostly? Mostly it's the communication with all you kindred spirits which makes the difference. How I can send you an email and you can send me one minutes or hours later and we have communicated. We've reached across miles and fellowshipped, shared and grown closer, all while sitting inside a house, in front of a computer, surrounded by 3 frigid degrees outside. And well, that's downright incredible.

And eegads! How in the world did the Ingalls survive their long winter?



*****

Monday, January 12, 2009



Most likely, this post is too late. Alas. But I thought I'd go ahead with it anyway.

Now, I'm the type of person who, two days after Christmas, is sorely tempted to yank down and stash away all her Christmas decorations in the attic. Usually by December 27th, I'm, well, rather sick of Christmas baubles. 

That's just me.

But I've found it interesting in various blogs lately to see how many of you love your Christmas decor yet feel you must put it away by this week (or so). To which I must ask, "Why? Why do you have to take it all down now? Why not leave it up a few more weeks if you love the ambiance it adds to your home?"

Oh, of course I don't mean leave your Christmas tree up forever. After all, who wants all those needles in your carpet and a major fire hazard? Heh. But who says you must put away all your dearly loved other Christmas decor? Why not be funky, cool and different and leave it up till February or even March? Or at least portions of it?

I mean, many Christmas decorations can pass for simple winter decor--snowmen, snowy wreaths or even tiny trees and certain old-timey toys. Oh, and strings of tiny white lights! Now, that's something I do leave up all year. Love those white lights and the glow they cast upon my rooms, my hutches and white dishes.

I guess all I'm trying to say is why do we find it so very hard to hop outside of the boxes the rest of our world seems to live inside? Why can't we have any sort of decor we love--even Christmas decorations on the 4th of July--if that's what warms our hearts?


***********



Oh, if you have time, do pop over to Clarice's blog to read one of the sweetest posts in all of Blogland.


******

Friday, January 09, 2009



I forgot to tell you something.

Our "Have-More" Plan Book arrived some time ago. It's terrific and I recommend it to anyone even a tad interested in buying some land and 'going natural' or getting off the grid (and all that). I've also been rereading Sylvia's Farm, a book about her adventures as a lone sheep farmer and I've just begun reading Peace At Heart, a book very similar (so far) to Sylvia's Farm, except that the author has a husband for a partner.

These books tell of birthing sheep--and how sometimes you, uh, (gross alert) must reach up inside the laboring ewe to help her deliver her lamb, lest you lose both mother and baby. And on Sylvia's farm, some of her adorable young lambs (always, she gives each a name) die in freak accidents... or they freeze to death... or catch fatal diseases. In The Have More Plan book, there are pictures about how best to kill chickens (and other animals). In Peace At Heart, she tells the story of a weakened chicken which was nearly pecked to death by its peers (chickens do that, she says).

So here's what I've forgotten to tell you. I've decided to become a vegetable farmer. A flower farmer. A fruit tree farmer. A No Animals Allowed on This Farm farmer.

Oh dear. I would die if I had to help birth a lamb. Or faint, anyway. And most likely, I'd get so attached to my chickens that, should I find a dead one in the chicken yard, I'd be broken-hearted. And kill one of them to eat? Are you kidding?

Sigh. I know, I know. But I do realize my limitations. Hey, from 2002 - 2004 I raised pet mice, 10 of them, down in our basement. And when they started dying one by one, I sobbed. I stood above them, watched them breathe final breaths, stroked their backs, spoke to them and cried hot tears.

And I'm still not over that.

So it's flowers and fruit trees and vegetables for this farmgirl. A gal must know herself and her limitations and her callings--only then can she walk in peace. For there is no peace doing what others are called to do, but you are not. (And right there is a major reason why zillions of people are unhappy--they're on someone else's custom-made-calling road, not their own.)

Though, okay. I reserve the right to change my mind about the chickens. Maybe I could handle a few of those. Maybe.




******


To thine ownself be true (even if your friends and neighbors don't get what you're trying to do).



******

Thursday, January 08, 2009

If Your Joy Switch Is Broken



Here's my own personal "Reasons My Joy May Be Gone" List which I pull out occasionally. The short version, that is.

My joy may be gone because--

I might be trying to control my world, albeit covertly (the fast way to ruin a good day--or a whole good life, even).

I might be eating all wrong.

I might be holding a grudge and not forgiving freely (as I've been forgiven, myself).

I might be gossiping (calling it 'expressing my opinion') about what someone else did, even though I've never been in their situation. And even if I have, I've still never been them nor understood God's specific plan for their life.

I might be watching too much tv.

I might have been avoiding quiet time with God, which pretty much sets everything else off-balance.

I might have returned to a selfish lifestyle without realizing it. I might be treating the people in my life badly.

I might be holding onto something which God told me (over and over) to release. I might be resisting change. I might be worrying about something.

I might be making excuses for my bad behavior. I might be trying to live a godly life with my own strength/ideas/efforts, not with Grace.

I might have fallen off the exercise wagon. I might not be sleeping enough.

I might be racing around fighting to get, get, get rather than quietly receiving what God longs to give to me.

I might be longing for something or someone more than I long to know God better--


--joy stealers, joy blockers, each one.


****


"The joy of the Lord is my strength..."

****


Eeks! Grammy in my comment box said she hoped I'll get my joy back-- so I'd better clarify here that I'm fine--really! This is just a checklist which I use when I lose my joy, but at the moment, I've still got it. Honest.  ツ


*****

Mostly? We bought this house because the nearly 4 acres and the barn were what we'd dreamed of for, like, always. But the house itself, well, was ok, not great, not bad, and we saw it through eyes which imagined what it could become. The land we saw as it already was and we liked it just fine.

The more I do to this house, the better I like it.

Oh, and remember my near-death experience while crawling through that nighttime blizzard at 0 degree temps just to reset the septic system button? (And how I was just about ready to throw a stick of dynamite down the well out there?). Well, oh happy day in the morning.... the alarm has not sounded even once since Christmas Day!

See, that was when Tom and our daughter's boyfriend, Carl, ran a long extension cord from the outlet beside the septic system to the back wall of our house--and though I don't quite understand how it changed the whole dynamic--all I do know is that for two whole weeks we've had peace. Blessed peace. No alarm blaring and no more life-risking trips out to a tiny reset button through ice-pelting winds and utter darkness.

And thus you have one more reason I'm liking this house much better. That and my new green kitchen... and the new pretty windows with actual views outside of them (a huge deal when you've had no view for 14 years--or more)... my tiny blue library at the top of the stairs for my books... our cozy white and blue guest room... and promises of more changes to come. In Time.

The best stuff and ideas and happenings in Life will always require time and waiting and working. Someday I'm actually going to accept that. I feel it.


****

"He makes all things beautiful in His time..."

*****

Thanks for your comments about my green kitchen both here and in your emails. I appreciate each note!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009



So I'm mostly finished painting the kitchen. I'll repaint the cupboard handles today--most people would remove them before painting, then screw them back on after, but not me. I prefer to paint them with a small brush afterward. Alas.

I knew the green would make the orange counter tops look good. I mean, hey... I lived during the 1970's, you know, and back then it was all about green and orange. But I didn't know it would make them look almost great. Okay, okay... almost acceptable enough for me to patiently wait another year to make major changes to our kitchen.



Hmmm... Actually? I almost love these orange counter tops now. Clearly, my sanity is slipping away.

Yet seriously? Most of Life, I believe, is a combination of making personal changes in order to live more fully --and learning to accept what cannot be changed. And yes, knowing the difference. And sometimes it's the tiny changes which make huge differences in how we think and feel and perceive Life. Tiny changes like a brush, a can of paint and a couple afternoons.


*****
P.S. NancyR asked if I'd have to repaint the dining room now and the answer is yes. I'll be going with the 'autumn gold' color which I'll be painting the living room after I finally get to Home Depot to find the right shade.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009



So guess who spent four hours yesterday afternoon repainting her kitchen because she suddenly abhorred the blue walls she'd painted last summer?


Yes, Debra.


And guess whose back is all stiff and weird this morning after spending four hours painting the blue walls she'd painted last summer?


Yep, Debra again. Sigh. Used to be when I was a kid of 40 I could paint walls for 6 or 8 hours and awaken the next morning with a back all perfectly aligned. Ah, I remember those days fondly.


But at least I love the new green of our walls (I mixed the paint myself with two cans of all-wrong green and some black). It astounds me how you can wake up to a kitchen of awful blue one morning, and then to a green kitchen you love, the next.


And the Christmas miracle of it all? Now I look at our repulsive 1970's orange counter tops and they appear as though we meant to use them in our kitchen. Wild, huh? Gone is the urge to rip them out with my tiny bare hands.


There'll be more pictures later. Three walls still require touch-ups and since I even painted our (way too few) cupboards, they need a second coat.


One final note for my fellow homemakers out there: Remember, there's more than one way to 'make money.' By my painting our kitchen myself, it's as though I saved hundreds of dollars... and since a penny saved is a penny earned (as they say), it's rather like I made those hundreds of dollars. The same for the bazillion meals we all cook ourselves--just think of all those restaurant dollars we've saved. And the numberless loads of laundry loads we wash rather than taking them to a laundromat or laundry service... And so the list goes on and on.


So, all you happy homemakers, remember that, ok? Most likely you're making thousands of dollars every year. Boggles the mind, right?
****
P.S. The green on our kitchen walls is darker than it appears above.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Of No More Home Phone Bills. Kinda.



Everybody on tv is talking lately like cutting corners and saving money is something new.

Well, ol' Debra's been doing that for centuries. Or so it feels like.

Tom and I have never been what you might call financially well-to-do, perhaps not even what you'd call financially solvent, so I'm beyond-used-to thinking creatively of ways to make us appear and feel as though we have money in the bank.

Oh, there have been those weeks, here and there, when we had some extra dollars right before pouring them into some home repair/addition or something even more extravagant. Nice weeks, those.

But usually? Usually I'm slicing the cheese thinner and adding extra water to homemade soup and going out to eat only once a week (when we'd so love to go out more). And I'm turning off lights in people-less rooms and borrowing books from the library (when I'd much rather buy them) and downsizing all that can be downsized and trying so very hard to avoid late-payment charges and baking and cooking everything from scratch while attempting to use up all food in the cupboard so to space supermarket trips as f-a-r a-p-a-r-t as possible.

But this time Tom came up with a great money-saver, at least, we're crossing our fingers and praying we've not gotten ourselves into some pending phone disaster. Yesterday Tom signed us up with Magic Jack. Have you heard of him, er, that?

Now, for clarity's sake, you'll definitely want to check out that website, but here's the explanation in Debra Talk. Magic Jack is this phone jack thingy which you buy for around $40, then when it arrives, you plug it into your computer, then you plug your household phone into ol' Magic Jack. Then somehow you are walked through instructions (this part is hazy because Tom did it all) and eventually voila! You have a new phone number and your first year of service is free. Yes, if I can believe Tom (I'm still skeptical...) the first year of your phone service is free. No more phone bills arriving in your mailbox to complicate your life.

We can even call Canada free--again, according to Tom. For other international calls, you purchase a block of time...yada...yada... Check that out yourself.

After the first year? It's something like $2 per month. Wow. I do hope Tom was right about that part because that sounds pretty great. I can live with a $2 per month phone bill.

A tiny annoying thing? To call anyone, even your nextdoor neighbor, you must dial your area code first. Not great, but hey... doable. And you do have to leave your computer online all the time.... and if we lose power, well, we'll lose Jack. But Tom does have a cell phone provided from his job.

Before we signed up I asked Tom if he knew anyone in Real Life who has this service and he said, "Oh yes! Bud from work has it and loves it. He's had it for a whole month."

Hmm.... I was sorta hoping to hear from someone with a tad longer committment to good ol' Jack. Oh well.

Anyway, if this works, it will save us something like $600 a year. I like that. I'd like to use that $600 in a more creative way than giving it to the phone guys.

Again, here's the website: Magic Jack.

And in case you've tried Jack and found him nasty and mean, well, don't tell me of our impending phone calling doom, ok? Why? Because Tom's got it into his head that we're gonna stick with this and you know how that goes, right? There'll be no changing his mind until he changes it. And in the meantime, I simply wish to be left alone in blissful Magic Jack ignorance--and hope. :)