Tuesday, March 30, 2010

For Those Who Would Burn Down Farmville

"Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment."   ... 1 Timothy 6:17


(You may have to mull this one over awhile.)

Some people at Facebook criticize their Farmville, Cafeville and survey-loving friends. You can even join "I Don't Care About your Farm, or Your Fish, or Your Park, or Your Mafia!!!" groups. When you sign-up, they appear on your friends' home pages and well, I'm sure some feelings have been hurt.

Myself? I don't generally do surveys or games at Facebook because I lack the desire. Yet I have Facebook friends who are into them, especially Farmville. Big time. You go to their wall and see little pictures of animals, candy or poker cards with hardly a photo of themselves or anyone else.

And that's the sort of thing which makes my other friends wild. You know, the way game photos can clutter up the home pages of non-gamers. Who cares that we can click "Hide" so we can make it all vanish? Many people just believe if they think games waste time, then no one should play games. Period.

And there is the problem. There is the rub.

I heard one woman say that anyone who likes any  tv reality show is being duped. Others quip that all cell phone users are rude and today's movies are all garbage.

But here is what Debra sayswe all need downtime, especially in Today's stressful world. And we all relax in different ways. My idea of fun is different (probably) than yours and what relaxes me might stress you out. 

And who am I--who is anyone--to say, "My way of relaxing is a wiser, better way than yours?"

Which of us was chosen by God to declare that reading, hiking and sewing are fine hobbies, but Farmville, reality shows and computer games are pathetic? Golf yes, but Facebook no way?

Does anyone else hear the pride in those statements?

Of course, any activity can be overdone. Anything in Life can become an obsession and whisk us away from our responsibilities. Yet even there-- it's not the hobby that's wrong, it's us. Our lack of self-control and not coming away when convicted.

De-stressing types of hobbies-- may ours allow us to relax and recharge. And may we extend grace to others whose hobbies are nothing like our own.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Straightening, Cleaning and Peepers

Actually, I don't believe in Spring Cleaning. :)

No, I am a Straightener. I straighten rooms. Everyday. When you have straightened rooms, you can think clearly. You are ready for company. You can find things.

As for cleaning? I clean when the dirt gets my attention, when it bugs or nags me. For some tasks that's everyday (as in dishes), for other things it's once or twice a week (vacuuming), some things I clean once a month (the refrigerator).

So if you surprise me with a visit, you'll probably find me straightening or you might discover me cleaning, be it Spring or Summer or Winter or Fall. Sometimes I get a wild, overwhelming urge to pull the junk from my kitchen cabinets, so I go with it. But again, it could easily happen in Winter when Spring is only an anticipatory gleam in my eye.

I prefer year-around, low-key, no-big-deal cleaning. It's the peaceful way. At least, that's what I've found (but then, I've always been somewhat of a rebel so I realize you may consider my cleaning habits downright controversial).


My favorite cleaning products? Old-fashioned vinegar, water and baking soda. Oh, and the latest issue of Mary Jane's Farm recommended hydrogen peroxide for carpet spots--works great!

Cleaning should not be complicated, expensive or dangerous to your health.


Until I was 50-years-old, I'd only read about spring peepers in my favorite old books, never hearing them for myself. Yet lately, I've so wanted to share our backyard LOUD peeper concerts with you, but it wasn't until today that I discovered a way. So here you go. This is what our backyard sounds like during the nightly invasion of the peepers. Turn your sound way up for the right 'and-you-are-there' effect. Some nights I open our kitchen window wide and just stand there, enchanted. Grateful, too. Peepers, night after night, reassure us Springtime is soon coming.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The neat thing about God? He doesn't just tell me to make changes in the silences of the night without showing me how. Suddenly every sermon I hear is about the current Conviction of the Month He's wanting me to make and poof! Exact, helpful information also appears in the books I pick up or the talk shows I come across or it's written about in blogs or on Facebook.

So currently the Conviction of the Month is to find real food. To use real food in my kitchen so to keep from ingesting hundreds of disgusting, unnecessary (and addictive) chemicals.

Have you read food labels lately? Eegads. Twenty or thirty ingredients for one simple cookie or cracker or (fill in the blank).

So now when I go grocery shopping I think 'find real food.' Vegetables, so I can make my own soup rather than buying salt-infested, over-priced cans of it. Red peppers instead of green (they're healthier), red potatoes instead of white (ditto). Fruit so I can, yes, eat it plain, but also so I can create my own fruit pies minus ingredients I can't even pronounce.

Last week I even made my own pop-tarts. And ok, we're not talking health food here, but hey. I used my own whole wheat flour, olive oil, a dash of salt, water and cherry jam. Didn't make the frosted tops, but you know? My little pop tarts still tasted good, they looked adorable and Tom liked them. And it's not as though I'm going to make them every week, either. But we had easy-to-make, homemade pop tarts minus a whole paragraph of poisonous additives.

Just think... my own potato salad with ingredients I see with my own eyes, nothing hidden. My own blueberry crisp, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes rather than the packaged, processed stuff from the freezer aisle. Real, non-chemical-laced french fries, casseroles and sandwiches.

Now, does it require more time to cook food from scratch without chemicals? I could lie and say nah, it doesn't. But generally, yes, it does. Although, there are short-cuts and secrets, yet they require time to learn and practice. Yet the added health benefits far outweigh any extra time and study woes--oh, how terrific I feel most days!

And does it cost more to eat real food and cook from scratch? No--and yes. Because you're no longer buying certain (processed, fake) foods, those savings enable you to afford the healthier stuff. As with learning how to cook more efficiently, I'm also learning to buy real food with less money. Besides, real food is more satisfying. It doesn't leave you craving more when you're not actually hungry--so you (ideally) consume less. (Though, oh, how I've found myself washing way more dishes and pans! I must be doing something right, I reassure myself.)

Real food. It's exciting to make these sorts of changes, but it's tiring, too. There's so very much to learn! Or maybe it's that there's so very much to unlearn, as well. Yet when God is behind these sorts of changes, He makes all of them possible.


As with many things in Life, people often give-up too soon after trying to change their diet. Folks, there's tons of information to absorb! It's an impossiblity to absorb it all in two weeks or even two months. There's much trial and error involved, trust me--I've been making these sorts of serious changes for over three years and I've still got miles to go before I get it right. But a spirit of adventure keeps the fun factor around.


Here's the pop tart recipe I used. I liked it because I could make my own (relatively-healthy) pie crust recipe. And again, I didn't do the egg-wash-sugar topping.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I bought another spiffy farm-type book, one called Made From Scratch, by Jenna Woginrich. A young woman in her twenties, Jenna wrote from her rented farmhouse in Idaho where she kept two huskies, some chickens and a couple angora rabbits and where she learned to do much from scratch. You know, like baking bread, sewing, gardening, knitting, canning fruits and vegetables, bee-keeping, using 'antique' appliances rather than new and using candles instead of electricity to both save money and to live like folks did eons ago.

At the end of each chapter she gives easy, detailed instructions of the 'hows' of such activities with knowledge gleaned from trial and error. And wow, any book which creates urges within this old dog to learn some new skills is quite the book. Trust me.

Jenna is very down-to-earth and reminds me of my own 20-something self from decades ago when I read back-to-the-land books and mostly just played at being a pioneer woman in the suburbs. But Jenna takes all this more seriously in her book, even with her real job, an office one. Her return home each day is when her life really, well, comes to life.

And I love her 'just do it, just start small' attitude. Oh, how often I need those pushes off my own couch!

But also I'm thankful for this book because it reminded me that no way should I even think about keeping farm animals. At least not now. She writes of two tragedies on her homemade suburban farm and I've still not recovered. And I didn't even know those animals personally.

I really, truly wish I could handle all the risks you take with animals, you know, the risks of injury, sickness and inevitable death, but well, I'm just too darn hypersensitive in that area. At times I believe I've accepted this, other times, I temptationally (my own word) toy with lofty ideas of keeping a few chickens and maybe a couple tiny goats. But then, alas! A book like Made From Scratch shakes me to teary-eyes--and shakes some sense into me, also.

Anyway. Jenna has a blog, Cold Antler Farm, and isn't that so cool? I mean, how many books have I read where, upon reaching the end, I asked, "And then what happened?", and longed to follow the characters on and on forever. Well, in this instance, I can. And how satisfying to discover that Jenna is in the process of buying a farm of her own, 6.5 acres, in nearby (to me) Vermont.

Now, her language is occasionally a little dicey (nothing too shocking, though), so, the more sensitive amongst you, be warned. But after reading her book, I've come to respect, appreciate and care about Jenna so I, anyway, am not bothered by those sorts of slips. I also appreciate her simple writing style, but more? I'm thankful that I can follow her fun adventures with farm animals vicariously without risking total heartbreak if the worst should happen to them. Just partial heartbreak--and I can handle that.


Ever considered homesteading? Ever wondered how to do it on a small scale? If so, you'll enjoy Made From Scratch and Jenna's way cool YouTube video, too.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tom and I went on vacation yesterday!

Well, sorta.

We were sitting in the sun upon our front porch, both looking over my newly-arrived Mary Jane's Outpost (bought with my birthday-gifted amazon.com card) and exclaiming over the gorgeous photography. To all fans of Mary's Jane's--you'll adore her new book.

After some minutes Tom said, "Wow. You can hear the frogs out here much louder than inside the house."

I told him, "Oh, I know. Hey! How about if we go out back and sit on the patio? You can really hear the frogs out there."

So Tom put on his shoes, grabbed his cane and I took our straw hats from their pegs and found Tom's sunglasses. We stepped across the wet back lawn to the patio where the sun glared off the cement and our bistro table and all else, then we sat and stared out across the expanse of our lawn to our winter lake and the marsh it borders, complete with tall reeds standing in shining, glinting waters. With each breeze blowing across the lake, more frogs, three different kinds, joined in with the chorus of, "Ba-roke, ba-roke, wa-wreeeek, wa-wreeeeek!" And a haunting, "cluck-cluck-clickity-click-cluck-cluck-clickety-cluck," almost echoing during the occasional silences.

We gazed across the lawn to the bare silver trees of our woods and tall grasses of the back meadows while the frogs sang and occasional birds, too, and we felt like such tourists! As though we'd traveled far to this natural outdoor vista, this place where a hush overhung everything, too, the quiet of Nature. As though we should have color photo pamphlets in our hands while doing this touristy thing, sitting, then standing, taking in all the sights and animal sounds with the rest of the crowd, and yet there was no crowd. Only Tom and myself, the woods, the meadow, our lake and some birds and the frogs, some with the sun gleaming off their backs.

All in our own backyard on a gift of a sunny March day, all while Tom recuperates from his surgery.

All a blessing on a Wednesday afternoon at our country home while I realize again and again and again that one need not travel far to find ones true self or adventure or joy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Oh wow. If you enjoyed the 1905 (1906?) film of the cable car on Market St. in San Francisco, you'll also like this 1908 film from Barcelona, Spain. Incredible. Enlarge the video and turn up your sound. (Feel like going back in Time today? This will satisfy your urge.)

And if you'd like to see a comparison tour of Today's Market St., here's one from 2005. Such a huge difference from 100 years ago, yet a couple things remain the same. And I must say, I prefer the laws of the road stuff of Today, even though the 1905/06 film was way more fun to watch. :)


As I watch the people in these videos from 100 years ago, I notice the spring in their steps, the way they run, their smiles, laughter and mostly-fit bodies. In my mind I compare them with crowds from Today and oh my... this verse comes to mind:

"... but the worries of Life, the deceitful pleasures of wealth, and the desires for other things come in..." Such burdens we carry nowadays! Burdens which show in a myriad of ways.

Addendum: I must add that for the nearly 17 years I've lived in Buffalo, I've almost always felt a sort of spirit of celebration whenever I am out and amongst the people here. Really, it's unlike anything I've experienced anyplace else I've lived or visited, it's especially rampant here in our tiny countryside town and something I recognized in both those earlier videos, above. A certain happy energy is the way I would describe it. It's invigorating--and I love it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The 'Well With My Soul People'

"When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul."*

I have friends on Facebook who are freaking-out about this new health care bill. They use their status updates to complain about it and threaten about the November election and make dire predictions about how we will all suffer when the world comes to an end because of this (well...). Oh, the fear, frustration and anger in their words!

But I have other friends on Facebook, ones I call Well With My Soul People. They've not lost their peace, their status reports remain calm and a delight. They are not panicking nor imagining dire scenarios nor cowering in corners or watching at windows for The Worst to creep up to their front doors. They are steady as they ever were, trusting, praying.

Now, do I believe we should be required by law to buy health insurance? Or do I believe the government should, once again, be so intricately involved in our daily lives? Uh, not even. (And don't even mention the FDA to me!) But neither do I confess to understanding this whole health care bill and I certainly don't believe in handing over to our government my whole peace of mind.

I am drawn to Well With My Soul People. They're my heroes. They remind me that God is still God and He is still a good provider. They illustrate to me what really matters in this Life and they help keep me balanced and my days a joy. I admire them. And I need them, too.


"Fear brings torment..." 1 John 4:18


* Words of It Is Well With My Soul written by Horatio Spafford

Monday, March 22, 2010

Our daughter had another drummer photo shoot, and really, for thirty years I've been astounded at how photogenic she is. As for her mother? Oh dear. Because of an abundance of photo disasters, she runs from cameras. Alas, Naomi's photogenic genes all came from her dad who also never took a bad picture in his life. (Proving the point that some things in Life just are not fair.) :)

All photos were taken by John Dutkiewicz.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

You may be wondering how Tom is doing nearly three weeks following his shoulder surgery.

He's doing much better, though his shoulder feels achy. We're both doing better. In fact, during the first week I almost wrote a blog post about post-surgery life around our house, but I would have come-off sounding pathetic. Wimpy. Like a crybaby. So I didn't write that post and instead, just hobbled along as a caretaker as best as I could. But really, that first week was hard on us both, though we caretakers hesitate to complain lest someone say, "Hey! You weren't the one who had surgery."

But as you other caretakers know, caring for a post-op. person is very trying on ones nerves, even when love is behind all you do. All that interrupted sleep! All that doing for the other person those myriad little things like bringing glasses of water and pills and propping pillows just right and tucking blankets just so and lifting the footrest of the recliner (and getting a backache) and keeping that %^&*$ polar unit full of ice and helping with showering and walking behind so he'll not fall, all while still cooking meals, cleaning house, feeding cats, doing laundry and running errands.

And that's just the part I've decided to mention. There's more, there's the interrupted everything, but again, that's all I'll share.

But alas! We survived, as we've survived before and my back aches only in the early mornings now. I've returned to my own sweet bed upstairs where I run the fan which I so need to sleep without waking at things which go meow in the night (Tom can get up by himself now, even rigged the recliner so he can recline alone). And the best gift of all has been that out of these 19 post-op. days, 14 of them were sunny, bright and warmish. Trust me, we both needed every one of those glory days--and we are grateful. And we're both recuperating nicely, too.


Last Saturday my dear friend, Laura, drove out here to our Little Town In The Middle of Nowhere to bring us some homemade Italian Wedding Meatball soup and some muffins because she could tell I needed some TLC. Oh my. Her gifts were so very appreciated and the soup, both Tom and I agreed, was the best ever!


Oh! Some of you will love this. It's film taken from a cable car in San Francisco in 1906. Awesome!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Oh Well. You'll Still Have God.

What a kindred spirit to me was the David Grayson side of Ray Stannard Baker. I think of that always when I read his passages such as this one:

"But if once a man have a taste of true and happy retirement, though it be but a short hour, or day, now and then, he has found... a sure place of refuge, of blessed renewal, toward which in the busiest hours he will find his thoughts wistfully stealing. How stoutly will he meet the buffets of the world if he knows he has such a place of retirement where all is well-ordered and full of beauty, and right counsels prevail and true things are noted. As a man grows older, if he cultivates the art of retirement not indeed as an end in itself, but as a means of developing a richer and freer life, he will find his reward growing surer and greater until in time none of the storms or shocks of life any longer disturb him."

That's exactly what I have come to experience, especially these past ten years.

I mean, there are times when Tom and I visit with people who disapprove of our choices or who are so negative about Life, in general, making me almost gasp for fresh, positive air as I sit there. And rather than feel threatened, insecure or dragged over to the dark, depressing side, I reassure myself. My heart tells my head, "Oh well. It doesn't matter. If these people don't like you, if you lose these people as friends, you can still go home, where peace reigns and you are happy, even alone. You'll still have your husband, your garden, your cats, all your blessings, and this new life of contentment you've discovered. You'll still have God."

What a difference that makes. Great amounts of fear evaporate when one believes and lives that way. Gone are the pressured temptations to agree when you certainly don't, thus becoming what you do not wish to be. Instead, freedom takes fear's place and one can be ones true self. Confidently.

At least, that's what I've found.


The David Grayson passage came from his book, Great Possessions. Overall, not my favorite of his books, yet there are many passages in it which I do love.


"Be what you is 'cos if you be what you ain't, then you ain't what you is." 

........ Joseph Campbell (as copied from a gravestone he passed one day).


I have a new addiction (just what I need, right?).Yesterday I discovered films of abandoned houses at YouTube. They make me imagine the early families who built those homes and they make me very sad, too. But still, I watch. Here are a few (be sure to check the list at the right), but there are many more.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Prideful, Moi?

Let's run this one more time...


Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." ... Proverbs 16:10

Years ago I was taught that impatience is a form of pride.

I was shocked. Because, well, I was always impatient.

At the supermarket I was impatient and (silently) huffy if people in the aisles just stood there for, like, a lifetime searching for a certain box of cereal or reading the ingredient list on spaghetti sauce --and blocking my view of the items I needed. I felt annoyed that I had to wait for all these slowpokes who seemingly descended upon the store simultaneously, as though in cahoots to bother me.

What's wrong with that? Basically, that kind of thinking is really saying, "*I* shouldn't have to put up with this! *I* shouldn't have to wait my turn. And it's totally disregarding just how many times *I've* spent a lifetime searching for stuff in store aisles and reading labels all squinty-eyed. And well, many has been the time...

At the check-out counter--the same thing. All those long lines made me roll my eyes. Why didn't these people do their shopping earlier? Or later? And if my line had a slow store clerk, there was more rolling of the eyes and being frustrated that *I* had to wait because of someone else's ineptitude.

Well, good gracious... Why couldn't *I* have done my shopping earlier (or later)? Why, instead, would I expect the whole world to arrange its schedule around me? And by judging a clerk as slow, what I'm really, deep-down thinking is--"If *I* was doing your job, I could do it much faster and more efficiently than you."

And, well, ha! I have never, ever trained to be a store clerk, I am machine-of-any-type-challenged, my back hurts when I stand too long, I have this hearing problem when there's background noise (I'd be, like, eh? eh?), and I would--most assuredly--be fired my first day. Count on it.

Humbling, that is. All of it.

Of course there are many more examples of what appears as something else in Life, but is really just garden variety pride. Like, when I'm in traffic and I'm thinking my whole town is made-up of horrible drivers and why, if they're in such a hurry, couldn't they be more organized and leave their homes sooner so they didn't have to drive like maniacs?

But it comes to me--how many times have *I* made driving mistakes, only to have been spared an accident by the grace of God? (Let's just say a few...). And why wasn't *I* more organized so that *I* could have left the house earlier and avoided the busiest time of the afternoon?

And on and on it goes, stretching probably outward to the moon...

Something happened when I (finally) allowed God to point out this kind of stuff to me. I began realizing I wasn't so 'together' after all and I was still pretty darn prideful. And when I realized that, I started having more patience with others. And then I began enjoying Life more.

Life is sweeter, better, when you stop believing your way is the only way and you give others the break you wish they'd give you.


Oh! I hope you have some extra time. Here is one of my all-time favorite (favorite!) chapters from any book I've ever read. Scroll down to the table of contents and click on *Jonas*, read, and you will be catapulted back to 1917 (or so). If you need your stressed-like-crazy head to be calmed, well, this will do it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

So Where's This Suffering Coming From?

The Bible says there's such a thing as persecution for the godly. I believe that. I've been there and done that. But then there's also 'persecution' because I was just plain stupid.

Fifteen years ago there's no way God would have let me have a blog. Well, ok, so there weren't blogs back then and I wasn't online yet, either. That's beside the point.

No, back then He couldn't have trusted me with the huge responsibility which is Blogging. Constantly I would have stated my beliefs in such an obnoxious way that long disgruntled lines of people would have crowded into my comment box, daily, just itching to to criticize me and what I had said.

And then I would have gone around in my real life whining and sighing, "I'm being persecuted in my blog. Poor, mistreated, misjudged me." I'd have fought back, created Swiss Alps out of molehills and poor ol' God would have been embarrassed to pieces to even know me.

No, really.

Back then I'd have stated my beliefs too harshly and been critical of anyone who didn't agree with me. I would have been too legalistic, too insulting and too condescending, and I would have ignored timing which is always huge with God. My posts could all have been summed up with, "It's Debra's way or the highway (to hell)." Yikes!

How we say a thing is equally as important as what we say. We need more than just the right message--we need the right tone which comes only from a right heart. Not to mention a whole bucket of humility, wisdom and compassion, too.

What a frightening thing it is to be held responsible for the part we play if we make anyone run from God in disgust/fear/anger because of our own foolishness. What a heavy responsibility to represent our Father--an impossible one when we're led by our heads and our emotions instead of by His heart. What a wise, longsuffering, compassionate heart is His.

How important, then, it becomes for me to die daily so that any persecution which comes my way will be because I was like Jesus--not because I was, like, stupid.


"In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted..." ... II Timothy 3:12

"...be therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." ... Matthew 10:16

"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. ... Love is patient and kind." ... From 1 Corinthians 1

Ladybugs At My Windows

I forgot to tell you that way back in August we had an invasion of ladybugs. Oh my. They climbed up and inside of our window screens and everyday (it seemed) I'd lift the screen in our kitchen and give gentle nudges to the ladybugs, sliding them back outside. I'd sit in our guest room and suddenly notice one on the glass inside, so I'd lower the top window, tap the ladybug into my hand, reach out and fling the ladybug into the air.

It's March now and I am still flinging ladybugs out my windows.

Wild! All winter we had ladybugs in our bathroom, our stairway and especially in our guest room. Some dead, but most still alive, though looking a rather faded, sickly-orange. And when I'd wave them into the frosty air, most just landed in the snow upon our porch roof with a tiny silent thud. Later I'd peek back out the window and they would be gone.

It's an odd feeling to share your home with ladybugs.

I wonder how it looks from our neighbors' houses to see a hand, an arm, reaching out from windows, tossing invisible things into the snow. Hmm.


Our ladybug invasion was part of the reason I so enjoyed the books, A Year on Ladybug Farm and At Home on Ladybug Farm. If you've read other books similar to these, please give me their titles, ok? I am so in the mood for more.


And too, if you've ever read a book or watched a movie because of my recommendation I would love to hear your feelings about it. Even if you hated it, please let me know (though be kind in your wording, ok?). ...smile...


Oh, and here's an interesting website for book lovers. It's called What Should I Read Next?. You plug in a favorite book title and it will give you a list of similar books. Well, ideally. so far it's been no help regarding books like the Ladybug Farm ones.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My birthday yesterday was great fun and filled with much grace.

Did Tom and I go out to eat? Did we go see a movie? Did we take a country drive? Did we have a huge, wild, noisy party?

Uh, no.

No, the sun shone bright all day and I lounged on our porch until lunchtime when I drove down to our tiny country town to pick up lunch (and cookies) which Tom and I ate while watching Perry Mason (we are so addicted to that show). Then I did yard work in the fresh, soft air for the first time this year--raked some leaves, swept some gravel off the concrete, picked up probably 100 pine cones (you think I'm exaggerating?). I received lovely birthday wishes here and on Facebook all day long. Naomi called. So did my mom. And when I got on the scale, I'd even lost two whole pounds (which is right up there with any modern day miracle) and it was a great hair day, too!

Every moment felt enchanted.

And how lovely to reach an age where better does not mean bigger, grander, wilder.

I forgot to tell you what happened to me last week at our little corner market. I'd just paid for a loaf of bread when from behind me, poof! The bread delivery guy appeared with a new loaf in his hand. He asked me, "Would you like this fresh loaf of bread, instead?" Oh wow. I smiled at him and said, "Yes. Thank-you!" Then he took back the old loaf and left me with the fresh one.

I came home and told Tom about that and I smiled all the rest of the day. That was so a God Thing. A whisper from Him that I'm in His thoughts, that He notices things and He cares about me.

Loved that.


I so appreciated your birthday wishes! They are God Things, too, and made me smile and feel appreciated all day yesterday.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Another Year, Another Birthday

Another birthday! Well, I'm getting used to the idea.

I'm thinking my 40's must have been too enchanted, or something. I loved my 40's. Adored that enchanted decade, indeed.

Lately though, things haven't felt all that magical. heh. But alas, at times like these, I've learned to gaze around, to peek inside my heart, to discover where, perhaps, I took a misstep on the path of Life. Or to ask God to show me the new path He wants to lead me down (up?), since I'm just not finding it on my own, although I am feeling the need for newness, for abandoning my Debra-made ruts.

Something else--my birthday arrives at the end of long snowy winters. Every year. And nearly my whole body on this day, this March 16th, is always longing to skip outside to play in my garden and feel the sun upon my face. Yes, like an excited horse waiting behind a gate for the race to begin, I feel nearly wild with desire on this day to burst out the door! But usually the weather is still cold and snow still lies like a frozen crust upon my garden. Often there are snowflakes falling, even.

But not today! No, the snow is gone, the sun will shine all day and we'll be over 50 degrees. The prettiest day of the week, the weather woman said. The sun will be a gift to all my neighbors, ok, yet I can't help but feel God meant it especially for me. So beware, my sunny front porch, here I come! And look-out un-flooded portions of our yard, for I'll be tiptoeing around you, too, maybe even Sound of Music dancing 'round and 'round. For I have much to celebrate.


Isaiah 43:19
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.


Our winter lake this morning from an upstairs window. Oh, and I saw my first two robins yesterday! They may be the same couple who returns each year and stays in the yard almost constantly.


Don't you just love that photo at the top of my post? It's from allposters.com.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bleh. I have another birthday coming tomorrow. Sheesh, I've still not recovered from turning 50 last year! (I know, I know. You thought I had, right?)

I think it's a control issue thing. Seriously. I can't go back in Time, I can't make myself physically younger. Well, to an extent, yes, I can-- you know the actual vs. real age test/thing you can do online. But still, my chronological age will always be older than 50 now and only to an extent can I control the aging of my body. Not to mention, I have fewer years left here than the ones I've already lived. (Though, yes! Heaven will be amazing.)

Trust me, I know all of the platitudes. I know it's just a number and you're only as old as you feel, etc. But I still haven't accepted the big 5-0 as being real, or well, fair, either. Not yet. I need more time, I guess.

Control issues--ack! Isn't it wild how, just when you believe you've conquered something, God zooms in and shows you that, Nope! You've still got a ways to go. You still have more dying to self left to do.

Oh well. There are some things in this life which I can still control. Myself, for one thing. My attitude about Life (and aging) and people and my Country. God has made self-control available, that, and all those good fruits of the Spirit which can bring color to any dark day. It's my own fault if I don't pick that fruit for myself.

I can control what I eat and how much. Well, I can when I let God be in charge. That's also true when it comes to how I spend my time.

And I can control how my house looks. I can keep my possessions straightened and cleaned and arranged in a calming order. If I want to change the outside of my house and keep my clothesline up, I can (trust me, I have no desire to live in a neighborhood where a committee will knock on my door and threaten me if I make those sorts of changes). Someday, ok, but not now. Not yet.

There are about a thousand feelings I can control, though some people might disagree. But just because a certain negative thing happens, that doesn't mean certain feelings must push me around. The real me is in charge of how I feel--not other people's actions or words or the bad economy or who is President (or who is not) or what's going wrong or even what the weather happens to be doing. I can choose my feelings about Life. I am not helpless.

No, I have one great Helper, indeed. Thank-goodness. And He is the one who will help me accept this being 50 thing as only He can.

I've a feeling it will happen as soon as I choose to cooperate with God's plans and ideas about aging. Most of my personal changes happen quite fast when I break down and just cooperate with God.

Imagine that.


"To everything, there is a season and a time and a purpose under Heaven. A time to be born and a time to die..." From Ecclesiastes 3

Saturday, March 13, 2010

After my recent post about loving your normal days and tasks, I remembered a post about this book, one which always inspires me to enjoy cleaning my house. It's been nearly 4 years since I first posted this so some of you may have missed it:

Inside an ancient thrift shop 24 years ago, I found a dusty, amazing book called The Art of Homemaking by Daryl V. Hoole, a mom of 6. I still remember how excited I was to find such a funky old (1962) book--my very favorite kind at that time.

I mean, how can anyone not love a book with drawings like these?

This book is stuffed full of hints about 'getting it all done' around the house and keeping a sweet, happy attitude through it all. (And no, it's not fiction. Heh.) But it is fun. And it's from the days when women at home were still respected and valued (a.k.a The Good Old Days). I never tire of reading Hoole's hints about cooking, washing dishes, decorating and doing the laundry, and too, looking at the Goofus and Gallant-type pen drawings. What a hoot! And it's one of those books which can, in a minute, inspire me right off the couch and over to my vacuum cleaner.

Sometimes we all need help and inspiration, something which should cause us no embarrassment.

You can find copies of The Art of Homemaking cheaply at Amazon.com and abebooks.com ($4 and up) as well as probably any of your favorite online used book places. If you're a vintage-hearted homemaker who's unafraid of becoming the best little wife and mother around, well, you'll love this book. Guaranteed.


A very special thanks to Debbie V. for sharing the link to Daryl Hoole's website!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Is this a cool photo, or what? That's me, a ton of years ago, third one from the left.

And that's me with Christy The Dog on my lap. I was 15. My sister is on my left, my brother on my right and David, Carolyn's son, is behind him.

Who is Carolyn? Last week through Facebook, after whole decades, I contacted Carolyn, a friend of my parents, and she's the one who shared these photos of the camping trip both our families took to Donner State Park in 1974.

I told you Facebook is incredible! How amazing to be in-touch with people who, eons ago, we left behind. Back then, when you moved, you moved. Phone calls were expensive, the Internet wasn't even a gleam in anybody's eye, and trips back to the old home place were hit and miss. Mostly miss, in our case. With every move (and there were many) I wrote letters by the dozens. When we left the place where we met Carolyn's family, well, I nearly lost my mind. (Long, sad story.)

Anyway. Can it really be that long ago that I was a dreamy-eyed teenager who walked to school humming songs from musicals, all encompassed in her own special world? Oh, the dreams she had, dreams not of fortune, but of fame and travel.

But now? Yick, fame would frighten me and well, travel? I choose day trips. I mean, really. I'm surrounded by gorgeous farmland dotted with 1800's farms and truly, I can think of nothing else I'd rather stare at from car windows. All those barns and gardens and picket fences! All those sunflowers, fruit stands and orchards. I see no need to fly around the globe to find beauty when I have all of that next door. At least, not at this phase of my life.

Maybe it's rather like something George A. Moore said: "A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it."

Ahhh. There's nothing I can add to that.


In the top photo, Carolyn is on my left and my mom is on my right. I have always remembered that camping trip with joy.


Luke 17:21
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Of Loving That Pesky Ninety Percent

I awoke with this older post on my mind this morning. Here is one of those amazing, life-altering ideas (tweaked a bit from the first time I shared it) which changed everything for me once it became a part of who I am.


The book, It's Incredible, told this story: Ann Kiemel went to interview a 72-year-old woman, an artist, and found her doing some landscaping in her backyard. Lifting big rocks, to be exact. The woman told her that she loved to garden and when Ann asked her what was her favorite thing in Life, the woman replied, "Manure. Because everything grows so well in it."

And then Ann asked the woman what kinds of things she disliked, as in chores such as washing dishes or vacuuming or making beds.

The elderly woman frowned. "Dislike? Whatever there is to be done--I like it!"

Oh my... I read that when I was a young mother in my 20's and wham! That one sentence proverbially hit me right between the eyes. Back then, I disliked half my chores, most of my errands and all of my appointments.

But when I read that one page in Ann's book, I immediately knew that I wanted to be like that artist--not just when I reached my 70's, either--but starting right away.

Be careful what you desire.

In the 20 years since that day, that desire has taken me on one mighty long adventure. An adventure of having to let God change my attitude about housework, errands and just about everything else known as 'work' or inconvenience. I've had to let go of dreading things and to cease complaining, both which yank me backward a few steps. I've had to learn to search for and pull every speck of Good from simple things while also seeking to enjoy this long journey called Loving Every Day.

But it's been worth it.

They say 90% of our lives is made up of Everyday Stuff, the simple (or complicated) daily, mundane 'grind.' So if you hate your ordinary days, well, you are hating 90% of your life(!) The other 10% is the fun things-- parties, vacations and days at the beach type of activities. I'm almost to the point--after 20 long years--where I, too, can say, "Whatever there is to to be done-- I like it!" I'm almost to the point where I enjoy 100% of my life.

Well, almost. These things take time, you know.

But I've discovered that, for me, there's no better, richer way to live.

"So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work..." ... Ecclesiastes 3:22

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

As they say, I grew-up in church. I even lived inside a church for a couple years, but that's a whole other post. I've lived in three different states and I've met many, many Christians.

Some of those Christians believed Life is just one messy struggle following another because that's the way God meant it to be. Some thought non-Christians were disgusting and to be avoided. Others believed that anyone who didn't believe as they did, were, well, stupid. Some thought that if you didn't attend church every single Sunday, even if you were sick, God would be mad at you. He would also be mad if you weren't perfect, if you didn't read the Bible every single morning and if you didn't spend a certain amount of time being mad at yourself.

Many of those Christians from my Past have, through the years, died. And you know? I believe when they reached Heaven they were shocked.

Shocked to discover that Life lived with God could have been peaceful and beautiful even in the middle of storms. Surprised that God loved everybody, even non-Christians and that He'd made forgiveness available (through Jesus) so they could freely love anybody, including themselves.

Their minds were probably blown away to discover that they, themselves, had been wrong about many things which others had gotten right. Their eyes probably became huge when they found out that the joy of the Lord really was their strength and God was so passionately in love with them, that He didn't even get mad when they made mistakes. He just provided ways to do better next time, except they kicked themselves so hard they didn't even see those ways.

And they might have been horrified when they discovered that God was way more interested in loving them and having them love others than in making them perform all the many daily duties everybody proclaimed were the most important things of all.

As for me? I don't want to be shocked when I reach Heaven. I don't want to stand there on Judgement Day with a thousand regrets regarding the life I could have lived. Instead, I want to live Life with God's present joy, love and peace, to celebrate His nearness. I long to stay open to all He wants to teach me, to remain pliable so that when I rush into His arms in Heaven, there will be as few shocks as possible. I want that first hug to simply to be an extension, a continuation of the hugs He and I share here, upon Earth.


"The greatest of these is love..." From I Corinthians 13


"Learn your lessons well ..."


"The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." ... copied

Monday, March 08, 2010

Well, Tom and I survived one more Buffalo winter. Our 17th. Oh, we may get a tad more snow this month, yet it's obvious Winter's fist has lost its power to squeeze so tightly. Since the moment Tom and I stepped into the house after his surgery last Tuesday, we've had sunshine. Nearly a week of sun and warmer temps, oh my!

I'm beyond grateful that Tom's first surgery date was postponed (and glad we've learned to peek around obstacles for God's better ideas), for I can handle nearly any problem with sunshine in my windows, gleaming off the snow and enabling me to sit on our front porch with a book and warmth upon my back. Even my muddy-headedness doesn't feel so muddy as long as the sun is shining. Winter sunshine changes everything.

And this may be my sleep-interrupted, muddied head speaking, but it's rather like my explanation as to why I no longer travel to Depressionville like I used to. Now, I never ride past Sonville, for why would I ever zip farther down the interstate through Sonville to dark, sad, complaining lands? Everything is better in Sonville-- the sun shines upon my face, small joys feel larger and a calmness like lake ripples pushes away the storms. As long as I have Sonville I'll be fine.

Friends can offend or ignore me, money may be tight, people may make foolish choices, but Sonville never changes. Oh, it changes me and the way I think, but of itself, Sonville remains the same. Sunny, pleasant, soothing Sonville.

Why would I want to ever travel farther down the highway past its borders?


"He whom the Son sets free is free, indeed."


Alas! My new Mary Jane's Farm magazine arrived today, perfectly timed, indeed. For those of you who also receive it--didn't you just adore the Christmas tree buttons? Another of those 'why didn't I think of that?' ideas. :)

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Why I Don't Copyright

Right off the proverbial bat I'll say this post applies only to me, to the decision I've made for myself. I do understand the other side of copyrighting material, so I hope no one will feel he/she must defend their own decision to copyright... ok?

If you're in a smokin' hurry to zoom down your blogroll, here's my short, short answer why I've not copyrighted the material in my blog:

"Freely you have received, freely give." Matthew 10:8

In the nearly 6 years I've had this blog, I've received some of the sweetest comments and emails on the planet. Various of you have thanked me for writing here and you've told me you passed around my words on sheets of paper in home Bible studies, read them from the stage of your church, emailed them to people who were hurting or stuck them to the front of your refrigerator. You've mailed them by snail mail, folded them into your diary and tucked them into the edges of your bureau mirror.

I love that. All of it. Why? Because this blog is the one place in my life where I feel God speaks through me, at least some of the time. It truly feels--again, sometimes--as though He's using my fingers upon this keyboard to share some truths simply, especially given the fact that my writing style is ultra-simplistic. (Due to my having a simplistic-style brain, God must practically draw me pictures in order for me to understand most things. heh).

And since He's the one who's giving me most of this stuff, well, I, in turn, wish only to pass it along on to you in this safe haven, this learning place, available 24/7. At no cost, with no restrictions. Just, well, freely.

Of course, someone could zip along to my blog, copy something and then proceed to share it as though it came from them, charging for it, even. But you know? I choose to believe God will deal with them about that and He will take care of that sort of thing. You know, vengeance being His and all that.

But right now at this phase in my life, He is taking care of me just fine, especially money-wise, especially since--again, at this moment in Time--my needs are few and they are met by Him. So freely I give to you what He's freely giving to me. And it all belongs to Him--the credit, the glory, and the comments you leave me, too. It's all His, so take what you will from my blog and use what you wish, where it will help the most. Freely.

Ah. The fog is finally lifting.

The sleep-interrupted, too-much-tv-watching, tired ol' caregiver fog, that is. The one which has made me--yes, I'll say it--crabby.

Always, when Tom has surgery I feel total simpatico with those of you caregivers out there, whether you care for someone who is 50 or 70 or 2. Color me tipping my hat to you, ok?

But since some clouds are still puffing within this head of mine, I'll let Sylvia Jorrin speak to you more clearly from her book, Sylvia's Farm. May this piece about her mother encourage you who wonder if what you're doing now for your children (and others) will remain with them in the future:

"I remember most vividly the kitchen on Ocean Avenue. Gray marbleized Formica on the kitchen table. Black vinyl seats on the chairs. Cream gauze curtains on the windows that shut out neither the summer sunlight nor the dark of winter's evenings. And the pantry where we both spent the evening doing the dishes. I talked and she listened. Everything was in order. There was a place for everything where the everything could always be found. I remember the silence in that room as I rushed into it as a teenager, a whirlwind of joy or despair and everything in between. The silence and security and order. The love in that room was absolute and impenetrable. It almost had to be pushed aside to walk through it. Nothing, nothing could ever cause even a ripple in that silent, thick air. The sense of security was expressed in that order. The knowledge of love was in my mother. And it filled the room in its entirety."

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

For over seven hours we were at the hospital yesterday. During Tom's surgery I sat at a tiny Bistro table in a windowed corner and read A Year On Ladybug Farm, drank coffee, ate snacks and stared out at the bare trees and grey, grey skies. Then during Tom's recovery I sat beside him, stared out more windows and watched the nurses and listened to patients ordering ginger ale. It felt almost like a bar back there with fellow non-alcohol drinkers, but of course.

How wonderful to arrive home! I printed out your notes for Tom (and those at Facebook, too) and he wanted me to tell you thanks for your kindnes, prayers and good wishes. He appreciated them so very much.

And now we enter the healing season...


Bonnie in Nebraska left an interesting comment to my previous post about keeping Jesus, first:

"I have been holding onto something sooo long. When it becomes part of you (as often things do when we hold onto them for dear life), it becomes difficult to figure out if God put it there or if we did. Any thoughts on this?"

I smiled at the, "Any thoughts on this?" part for, alas, Debra has thoughts on everything. heh. That's what buys her trouble sometimes.

But here is the short version of my thoughts concerning Bonnie's question:

Often one of two things happens. One, it's possible to throw ourselves into a 'ministry' (or a job, a calling, a years-long good deed fest) which God never even asked us to do. And then, along the course, we begin grabbing from this ministry lots of 'food' to feed our ego and make us feel special or needed or important. When actually? It's Jesus, Himself, who desires to meet those specific needs of our heart.

So when He begins convicting us about leaving that self-appointed ministry, we panic. Where will we be without all those kudos which have been keeping us going? Or we might disguise that thought with, "What will the people do without me?" But shouldn't the goal be, "How can I help these people appreciate Jesus more?"

Or the second thing? God, Himself, did choose a ministry/calling/job for us and we did just as He asked. For awhile. But then all the me, me, me stuff which I mentioned, above, takes root in our heart and what began as a ministry to and from and about God becomes all cloudy and turns into a ministry to and from and about us. And it's just as possible to delude ourselves into thinking we're still all about helping others and obeying God when, along the way, it became about helping ourselves.

Of course, sometimes God just finishes using us in an area. But if we're too connected? It's as though we're left sitting upon a dead horse, shouting for it to run! as it once did.

Trust me. I know about this one, for I've done it both ways. I've started out wrong and ended up wrong and started our right and ended up wrong, too.

But oh, how it blesses God's heart--and the hearts of others--when we start out right and finish right.


Proverbs 16:2

"All a man's ways seem innocent to him,
but motives are weighed by the Lord."


Have an extra two minutes? You might like this post from another blogger along similar lines.