Monday, May 31, 2010

Of Days When We Remember




Memorial Day. It means different things to different people.

But whatever you choose to remember on this day I hope it will be the pleasant side of it. The side which leaves you with dreamy eyes and a smile. I hope you'll recall the good memories, the lessons learned, ones which righted you on your path and kept you there because of a person, an event, a time.

Sometimes I think we don't feel well because we don't meditate well, as in, we concentrate on what is going wrong. We think about the negative side over and over and pray about it repetitively and complain about it, phone friends about it and make our head heavy with it.

And then we wonder why everyone else seems happier than we are.

But Jesus came to give us the peace which passes understanding. You know, peace which doesn't make sense. Peace in the worst times, in the best times, peace in the middle. And peace doesn't moan and whine and soak in the worst memories, pushing the repeat button again and again.

Peace is, well, peaceful. Tranquil. It's a knowing that what took place happened for reasons we may never understand in this Life, but in the next one--and in the meantime--we still have the God of peace.

And that is what makes everything all right. He is what makes everything ok.



**********
Psalm 19:14
"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord, my strength, and my redeemer."


**********

"Trust requires unanswered questions." ... copied

Sunday, May 30, 2010



Finally... whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Phil. 4:8,9

***

What an amazing weekend so far! Both Friday and Saturday found Tom and me zooming along the countryside admiring gorgeous old farms and in search of estate sales and any kind of sale in anybody's yard, barn, shed or back porch.

Oh my, the home owners at some of these sales had landscaped their yards into lovely country havens, with gorgeous flowers, all colors, and fountains, rock pools and old garden sheds surrounded by more flowers, wagon wheels, antique well pumps and other garden decor all under trees of every zone 5 type and barns and vines and lamp posts. And more.

Happy sigh.

But you know what the temptation is, don't you? It's to allow all this creativity and country splendor to discourage Tom and me, we who bought our tiny farm just two years ago this weekend. How tempting to wish, covet and complain that it's taking forever to make our place look creatively inspiring. And how simple to disregard all the years of hard work, money and upkeep required by those homeowners to create their shangri-la's.

Yet at those times, I remind myself of the verse, above. I make myself recall the tasks already completed around here, the progress made. And although much more is needed to be done, oh! Much has been accomplished. And it's those finished things which I love to run before my eyes like a film strip in slow motion until the gratitude rises to its proper place.

In all areas of my life there's still much to complete, much to experience and do, and may I accept and appreciate every challenge and view each one thankfully. For what would Life be like, really, if all was completed? If no tasks remained?

It would, I guess, be like The End. And I'm not ready for that(!) 

Not yet, anyway, so in the meantime? I'll enjoy this farmland journey and find my peace not only in accomplishment, but in the wonderful God who leads me.



*******

Speaking of yard sales, did you see in the photo above, what I bought for just $1? Yes, an early of These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Wow. And yes, I caught the comparative significance of that title.  γ‚·




*****

Thursday, May 27, 2010



Last weekend we met Naomi's new boyfriend, Dave. 

They drove out here to help us spread cement in the barn and clear our fire pit (reconfiguring it so the weeds do not gather there) and to free the little tree in our Bunny Pasture from it's no longer needed wire fence and weeds. (Oh the weeds around this place.) 

And since Dave wanted to see our property, I took him and Naomi on a tour, even through the tall, tall grasses in our meadow out to the woods. After the work, we all had lunch on the patio in the shade beneath our new yard sale umbrella.


Anyway, Dave is great. Naomi knew him in high school, he's buying his house, (a double, so he rents-out half), and he's passionate about gardening, in fact, his suburban backyard is becoming one sprawling vegetable garden. He's a gentle guy and what I like best is that he's reawakening in Naomi her love of growing her own food, a love which, I believe, will remain this time.


We spent seven years growing to love Carl and now a new adventure begins with Dave. Changes! Always the Earth spins, evolves, and Tom and I are discovering Life is easier when we accept that it will never remain still for long. So we welcome new people into our lives, cherish them, then let them go if they wish or if they must. And call it all Good.


*******


Here and there, people left their mark in concrete around our farm, so here is mine, just inside the barn door. Tom's turn will be next.   γ‚·


The ol' fire pit which may actually get used someday. Oh, and the white stuff all over the lawn is cotton from the cottonwood tree. Bleh. This time of year we're always sooo tempted to chop that old thing down (it doesn't just drop cotton, but tons of small branches, pods and leaves.) 

Of course, the tree hugger inside me protests whenever I consider this.



******

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Of Bailing Out Of The Net


Of course, we all feel like bailing out of Blogland at times. Facebook, email, email groups, too--the whole general online overwhelming-ness of it all.


I've felt like leaping away (hiding?) myriad times. I totally understand if that is your temptation because it's certainly been mine, especially me with my hermit-like tendencies. 

I so understand the desire to escape.



But. (You knew that was coming right?) I think God told me a valuable secret recently. I'm thinking He said I only become overwhelmed when I'm 'computering' my way, not His.

Like, when it's all about, "What's in this for me, me, me?". You know, when I write emails to receive emails or blog posts to receive comments or when I shop to receive stuff for me, me, me in my, my, my mailbox. 

Or when I Facebook to see how many of my friends care about what I'm saying (which becomes skewed, translating to, "Who cares about me?") and when I blog out of pressure to 'keep up,' to create new, unique posts lest I lose my readership numbers (and your interest). And, of course, when my viewing of everything online becomes downright compulsive.

Really, I'm thinking it's the me, me, me of being online which exhausts, well, me.



So is the cure to hide and play hermit? No, I don't think so. Oh, a week or two of vacation is fine, for everybody needs vacations! But beyond that? Here's what keeps me from bailing out forever:



You. You, you, you.

When I use my keyboard to send encouraging messages to you, I feel joy. Be it here at my blog or in emails or on Facebook, a joy from giving (and from obedience to God) infuses me with strength, renews me, then encourages me to anticipate doing it all over again tomorrow.

And now I can't bail out of being kind online, at least, not without an alternate non-online plan from God. So in the meantime, I'll be here. And hopefully I'll remember that it's about giving to others rather than to myself.

If I can, I just may remain here, happily, forever.



*******


Luke 6:38
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

*******


I'll be fine online as long as I don't get all tangled-up in the Net.  ツ

********

Oh! If you'd love to see a beautiful, unique home and tons of gorgeous flowers, go here. Keep scrolling down and down and down and --.... A special thanks to Pearl for linking to this lovely blog.



******

Monday, May 24, 2010

Of Husbands Constantly at Home




Someone asked that I write about how to handle your husband suddenly being home all the time.

Of course, Tom isn't retired yet (though he imagines he'd like to be), but alas, I've had much experience with having him around the house for weeks. 

In the power plant business, work hours are wild and with minor finagling, it's easy to get two weeks off by requesting only three days off, or so. Plus, with Tom's surgeries, week-long breaks each month and working night-shift every other week, (meaning he's home sleeping during the day), well, I've had many tastes of retirement life the past, oh, twenty-five years.


And here's my conclusion: Having a husband constantly around the house can be a sanity (and happy marriage) buster.


Yes, really.


I could give you whole paragraphs outlining the fits I've thrown when I've been denied the 6 hours, or so, daily "alone time" which I function on best. Mostly I'm a happy loner, perhaps because God's made me a writer/teacher of sorts here in this blog, one who needs much time alone with God to come up with this stuff. 

I require time to meditate and read and think and write. And, too, I'm part hermit because, well, I've just always been that way. Some things just are what they are, you know.


It's very easy for me to complain to Tom that I get nothing accomplished when he's home. It's the fear of being interrupted in the middle of projects, I think, which defeats me. Also, the way he tempts me to watch movies with him or go for rides or shopping or (insert other temptations here). There's the needing to make more official meals than ones I make for myself when I'm alone. There's the myriad "Debra, where are my_____?" (fill in the blank again) requests.


There's all that and more.

But what's my conclusion after fighting with the unnaturalness of having him home or just giving-in and lying around, being a lazy Lucy? I've decided that the problem is not having Tom home so much, but rather, it's my attitude about it.

It only took me 25 years to figure that out.

Like I said, it's so easy to complain. But complaining accomplishes nothing so recently I told myself to stop moaning when Tom is home, and instead, just make clever changes. 

Like, I can get up earlier for extra quiet time or use my time outside in my yard for it or set-up personal 'altars' around the house (so if he's in one area, I can move to another). I can write in this blog when he's not in the living room (where the computer is), even if that means I can no longer write during the same time daily. I can cook meals ahead and freeze them. I can find tasks for Tom to do and then go about doing my own tasks--or send him out on errands and finish my housework.


I can be flexible if in my head I'm determined to be.


The main thing? It's that annoying "Everything Must Be A Certain Way" belief which trips me up. It's the strictness, the stubbornness, the My Way or No Way which must disappear.


And really? I think that's as God wants it--that I be flexible while still being kind. And patient toward others, especially my own husband. Charity does begin at home, for it's at home where I am my true self. 

It's from this base where I reach out to the world with a love that's only as real as it is inside my own home.



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

Don't you love that photo at the top of this? Now there's a man who's thrilled to be retired and a wife who's frazzled because he's always home.  


(Update 2019: I had to substitute a new photo, but this was a bit similar.)


****

It's easier to complain than to be clever, but clever is better.



*****

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Of Mixture




Yesterday I wished you all were with Tom and me. Oh my. We drove out through the countryside to our favorite type of house sale, one at an 1800's farmhouse with a barn and long chicken house and 30 acres.

Tom headed out to the barn, but I took the spongy front stairs which 'gave' with each step, stepped through the front door and wow, instantly I was catapulted back to the 1940's. Trinkets, paintings, record albums, antique dressers, a Formica table in the ancient (original?) kitchen alongside a decrepit Hoosier cabinet. Old crockery bowls, boxes of coffee mugs and utensils. Every floor inside in the farmhouse was warped, every wall covered with wallpaper from the  1940's(?) with big, dark water stains. 

The house is for sale, the current owner is in his 80's and had obviously lived here 60 years, perhaps all his life.

Mostly I just wandered from room to room (I bought only a 25 cent tea cup) because, in such places, what enchants me is how everything is old. Every item was made before I was born, or shortly after, stuffed into one old house, kept, creating a Time Warp for people like me to enjoy. 

And always, I step from room to room longing for such a Time Warp inside my own home. Yet, although I aim for that you're-no-longer-in 2010 feeling, I never quite achieve it.

Why? Too much mixture. 

I mean, yes, I have magazines from the 1920's and 30's, but I also have current ones fresh from the stand. I own a 1940's Formica table, but near it you'll find our new leather couch and recliner. My walls hold paintings or portraits from around 1910 to 1950, but they also hold framed stuff from the 1980's to the present.

It's the mixture which dilutes the Time Warp feeling of my home. The mixture confuses the overall effect.

And you know the lesson I'm heading toward don't you? It's the mixture in our lives which confuses other people about what God is really like. We criticize people, other Christians even, for things we later go off and do ourselves. At church we appear to have loving, peaceful marriages, but at home we disagree and have drama galore. When other peoples' children misbehave we discuss it with our friends, but when our own kids mess up, we make excuses for them (and sprint after anyone who dares criticize our child). 

We--- Well, you get it. 

Oh, what to do? What to do about all that mixture? I think it begins by, well, shutting our mouths. You know, being ever so slow to speak--or not speaking at all. Pondering things in our heart (rather than blabbing) is a fine place to start.

Just hold it all in, you ask? Uh, no. 

The second step for ridding mixture, I believe, is to allow God to remake us, even if it means starting all over. He never asked us to strain and force ourselves into perfect little Christian models. Rather, He asked that we be clay in the Potter's hands, always humble enough to be moldable. Teachable. And kind, for kindness flows from hearts remade by the God who believes that love, without mixture, is the most important thing of all.

And only God, Himself, can create a heart which comes oh so close to mirroring His own. Only God can create a real-live, honest-to-goodness Christian without a bunch of mixture.



*****

Friday, May 21, 2010

Yard Sale Finds


A great yard sale day, a time when we had to know when to say when.

 Tons of yard sales were still temptingly on our list, but the car was full enough, we'd bought plenty after only three. 

Knowing when to say when is so freeing.

The birdbath, above and below, was a favorite find. Five dollars.



And an umbrella for a bistro table, something we'd been searching for these past few weeks. Just $7.




Don't you just love a good deal? And the God who enjoys showing He cares about our needs and our wants, who tucks surprises amongst a bunch of stuff at yard sales for you?






**********

Okay. I'm going to post this picture once more and ask for some advice.



Tom and I seriously have too much lawn and we need to discover some 'substitution ideas.' 

So if it was you, what would you put in the left-hand corner of this photo? Everything back there is so natural-looking that anything formal is probably not a great idea (or maybe it is?). 

I've played around with building a 'pier' on a diagonal, about 8 feet long, with natural, unpainted wood (or should I paint it white?). Then surrounding it with a circle of blue and white flowers which would represent a pool of water. 

Any more ideas for either that corner or other areas of our too-too-wild-looking yard?

*******

(CSI Spoiler Alert!)


Did you watch the season finale of C.S.I.? Tom and I were so bummed by the ending. Good grief. The writers resorted to the ol' Lousy Security Trick again (as they often do on 24). We love Lawrence Fishburne and so help me..... they'd better not write him off the show--or else!  ツ


(Though yeah, we'll survive it they do.)


******

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Favorite Classroom




College? I don't have time. I'm too busy learning.

I'm searching the Web and my garden for clues how to grow flowers, orchard trees and grapevines. Gardening! It requires years to do it right.

I'm reading back-to-the-land books and the unafraid kindred spirits there teach me to become more self-sufficient, curious and brave. I'm learning to farm by way of Mary Jane Butters' magazines and books, the Net and stories told by farm women online. They tell me work smart, not hard, around our own farm using efficiency, saving steps, my back and my resources.



Books and the Internet teach me how to save hundreds of dollars around my home, yard and life. Online, on tv and in magazines I'm learning to decorate my home, organize and declutter it, keeping it clean by making my own (safe) cleaning products.



The Internet also illustrates much about human nature, the good, the bad and the terrible (oh, those message boards!), though I like to concentrate upon the good. Through blogs, emails and Facebook I'm learning why people do what they do and am becoming (I hope) more sympathetic because of the 'why behind the what.'



Rachel Ray, my cookbooks and cooking websites show me recipes and techniques so I can feed healthy, inexpensive meals to others.



Doctors Mercola, Oz and Colbert teach me to run first, not to medicine, but to common sense, vitamins, herbs, exercise, good food and sound sleep. I'm questioning the mainline health information I've been fed for 50 years--and discovering truth which I can then share here.


I'm researching online authors and actors and those folks in history who inspired us. I watch the birds at our feeders and research them, too, online and in our bird book. By way of tv and Internet news I'm learning what's happening in our world, mostly the bad part--and how I can help.

By taking lots of pictures I'm learning photography, by writing I learn to write better. And the occasional perusal of books, magazines and online articles help me, as well.

Through the Bible and hours alone whispering with God I'm learning about the vital-ness of love, kindness and never giving-up. Daily, God and Joyce Meyer are teaching me how to live wisely, contentedly and with tons of joy as I obey God's plans for my life.


Oh the lessons! 

Constantly they're on my mind, from my first step out of bed to my last back into it on dark nights. Mornings sound my school bell. It's a pleasant, inviting sound.






****

It's a short list of things in Life which make my blood boil, and here is one: When people insist that real learning is only done in a classroom and anyone who doesn't attend college is a loser.


Gah! Don't get me started.




*****

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Of Finding Your Own Path




"... but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." 2 Cor. 10:12


***


Now there's a verse which will set you free.

If you can get over the thing which says Everything Must Be a Certain Way and can think outside the box (rather than inside the same old stuffy box with everybody else), well, you might just get somewhere, maybe even happy.

I remember standing in my bedroom at age 15 and thinking, "You know? I just don't want to be like everyone else. I don't like what they like and I'm tired of pretending I do."

On that day, I began a freedom walk. A small beginning, yes, but a start, nonetheless.

Something funny? It took me 30 years to realize I am a college drop-out. Wild, huh? 

I went to a Christian college for one year, hated it, then I met Tom that summer and fell in love--and gasped with relief that I wouldn't have to return to school. Why did I hate college so much? The back-stabbing gossip of the girls in the dorm. That, and I could find no kindred spirits anywhere on campus, plus, I longed to return to my tiny mountain town I adored, a place where God was using me to encourage others.

Never, not for even 3 minutes have I regretted leaving college. 

College wasn't for me. No, freedom was for me: the freedom of a homemaker's life. (And see, right there is another sign of my different way of thinking--tons of wives view homemaking as a prison. I pity them for not seeing the opened-wide doors.)

Now, did Tom have to go to college to support my homemaking habit? Not exactly--when I met him, he'd not attended college. Years later he did take a short specialized course which helped him get the job in Nevada, which later helped secure his job here in New York. And then years after that he attended college for two associate degrees, but only because he chose to. 

College was something he wanted to do for himself.

What am I saying? Go to college if God is directing you! But skip it if you're considering it only because every other woman on the block has gone/is going and you're feeling left behind. Skip the guilt and the bad feelings of being sunk, helpless.

Instead? Choose individuality, creativity and carving out a unique life of your own--and live amazed.

In fact, any time people--or even your insecure self-- pressure you to do something, always step back, escape to silence and whisper about it first with God. Let Him explain things. 

And if He tells you to take a different, less traveled road, alone even, take it. For, it's on that road where you'll meet up with Joy and you'll discover your real self, also, the person God meant you to become. 

But only if you don't look back. Only if you do not waffle around in what-ifs or shoulda-woulda-coulda. Only if you walk boldly. Even alone.



******

"There is no value in life except what you choose to place upon it and no happiness in any place except what you bring to it yourself.”
Henry David Thoreau

“A man is happy so long as he chooses to be happy and nothing can stop him.”

Alexander Solzenitsyn

Learning! I am constantly learning. Everywhere I go, every walk I take or every webpage or book I open--always--there is something before my eyes begging to be absorbed.


"A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." ... James 1:8



*****

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Of Motives




This past winter some dear friends told us they'd like to come visit in late May or early June. We've not seen them in 20 years!

Immediately I made plans. 

I'd finish painting our middle room upstairs, maybe even paint the kitchen floor (a temporary fix). Also, I'd paint the horrendous paneled wall in the living room, and well, paint everything that could be painted, including the guest room floor. 

Then this Spring I'd whoosh around and plant my garden early and rearrange and mulch my flower beds and build a couple raised garden beds in our Bunny Pasture. 

I'd buy new-to-me clothes and have my hair permed, oh, and lose ten pounds, also.

Basically, by the time of our friends' arrival, I'd finish every single task I'd procrastinated around this place.

Then a month ago, God told me, "Uh, no. Instead, you're going to relax, enjoy your days and just do what you can."

My oh my. He is incredibly interested in my motives and He doesn't let me get away with anything. To Him, why I'm doing something is more important than the something, itself.

I worked hard yesterday out in my garden, mowed the lawn and did myriad other things around the house. But you know? At day's end I felt like I hadn't really enjoyed much of it. 

I'd spent the day concerned about all my undone tasks and how slowly every job is going. Yesterday I just worked. All I saw were weeds yet un-pulled and grape vines yet unfertilized , un-mowed lawns, unpainted everything from my list and time running-out. I saw it all through the neighbors' eyes and those of our friends who'll soon visit-- and it was all found wanting.

It's a joy to work on something when you're grateful God gave it to you. But spend your day doing right things for wrong reasons and there's only a vague, exhausting pain. 

God doesn't correct our motives because He's nitpicky and unfun, but rather, He knows Grace only comes around to help in an atmosphere of peace and gratitude.Trust me, I know.

So today will be different, for the pressure is off. Oh, probably God will need to remind me--again--that there's no contest and I've nothing to prove. He'll tell me there's only Him and Grace, one on each side of me, helping, encouraging me and making me smile while we work and laugh together.

And that will make everything, wonderful.



******

Probably most things are done out of fear, obligation/duty or love. May I always choose love.


*****

Friday, May 14, 2010

"It's a Farm, Not a Country Club."




Last month Tom and I stood on our new patio, the one which feels like an observation deck at times, overlooking wild lands and lakes and animals. (Well, kinda. Visit me and you'll admire my imagination.)

Then Tom stepped out upon the newly-seeded (as of November) lawn and began pulling the occasional weed amongst the tons of baby grass. There he was leaning upon his cane, pulling weeds with his newly-operated-upon arm.

"Tom," I said. "Weeds are growing in the old grass and they're gonna grow in the new grass, too. Don't you think you should relax? I mean, we have an old 1800's farm. This isn't a fancy-schmancy ______," then I had a typical brain freeze.


Tom chuckled. "Country club?"


"Yes! That's perfect. This is an old farm, not a country club. So please stop worrying about the weeds in the lawn."


Of course, Tom still pulls the weeds out there. But when, from the kitchen I catch him at it? I raise the window and call out, "It's a farm, not a country club!"


Then he smiles and comes into the house. Heh.


It's so important, I think, to know and accept what you have at this moment. 

Of course, we could dump pounds of chemicals on our lawn, but that would poison this land which we hope to make into a wildlife sanctuary of sorts. And we could kill ourselves pristinely landscaping the whole 3+ acres to look like a park. But the fact remains--this is 1800's farmland and we have a barn, an orchard, a big garden and monster weeds and it's all a ton of work for a couple in their 50's who, however silly it may be, desire to do the yard work, themselves.


Really, it is a farm, not a country club. 

And I'm a 51-year-old average woman, not a work horse nor an extremely talented, experienced farm girl like Mary Jane Butters. No, Tom is Tom and I am me and this is our little farm where mostly (I like to say) I am gardening by computer. "The orchard trees need pruning and fertilizing? Well, I'll go inside and look up online how to do that." 

I've never grown ferns or grapes or iris' before? Never made a rock patio or dug a small pond or thinned trees? "Better check-out the instructions online."


Today I am me and there's no reason to resent where I am. Someday I'll be more knowledgeable and experienced in farm life ways, but today I cannot jump from where I am to where I will be--I can only accept where I am. 

And then take a new step forward, then another, enjoying each one, as well as myself, our farm, and Life and God on this journey.



****

We cannot truly love something unless first accepting it just as it is today.


*****

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Regarding Mercy




When I see Christians condemn and criticize other people with no mercy here online....gah! 

I feel like bailing out of this whole computer world. Walking right to the edge and leaping off. (Well, stepping right to my window and tossing the computer out, anyway.)

And many Christians wonder why they don't feel well.


Perhaps it's because they believe it's holy, even, to condemn pastors and others who are out there trying to help people, though in ways the condemners don't understand or agree with. "It's not the way I would do things," they say, as though their way is the only way. 

As if their understanding of the scriptures is 100% correct 100% of the time.


Technically, that's called pride and pride comes before a fall. And oh, the vats into which we can fall! Vats of humiliation, of sickness, depression, bitterness, unanswered prayers and being unable to understand and move to deeper places in God.


Blessed are those who pray for others and discover a new compassion for them. Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.


It's the merciful people who get forgiven for their own mistakes. Those who show mercy toward the imperfect have their own imperfections forgiven. It's those who love to show mercy who are most like God, for the Bible says He delights to show mercy. He enjoys it.


Years ago I asked God to help me become a Merciful Person. I read that God loves to show mercy in a year when I so did not love showing mercy. No, I enjoyed pointing my finger to Bible verses and showing people where they'd messed-up. And so of course, other people did that to me. I showed people their mistakes and they showed me mine. Back and forth it went, like tennis.

It was not pleasant. Love is pleasant, though.

And yes, there are times when Love confronts, just as God must sometimes confront us. But criticizing everyone from our President to tv evangelists, our pastor, the odd little man nextdoor in our blogs or in email forwards (etc.), is not godly confrontation done with passionate love for the other guy's very soul. It's not even close.

No, that kind of criticizing is called gossip. It's also one of the seven things which God hates, called Sowing Discord Among The Brethren.



And I want no part of it.


****

Proverbs 6:16-19

"These six things does the Lord hate: yes, seven are an abomination unto him:

A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that are swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaks lies, and he that sows discord among brethren."

*****

"Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
Malachy McCourt quotes

********


From Matthew 18:
"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."



****

Monday, May 10, 2010

Of Bookcases and Fallen Trees



So on Saturday Tom and I visited a cozy old bookshop with mostly collectible (expensive) books and I told him I was very inspired to display my own books in better ways than shoved into my closet or sitting upon the floor of our guestroom. And we both sorta regretted getting rid of that dark bookcase you see in the above photo, the one against the wall from our former house. Sorta, because one leg was unnattached and it was the heaviest, most awkward piece of furniture God ever created. But it sure held a bunch of books.


Well. Guess what Naomi gave me for Mother's Day? This bookcase, below.




We were amazed! I mean, it was reminiscent of the one we gave away, yet light enough for me to carry upstairs, alone (that old, former bookcase would have killed me had I attempted that). It holds all my favorite books which were hidden and scattered and has two glass doors. I love the look of books behind glass.

Happy sigh.

Remember how Tom and I frequent yard sales and get all excited about curb-side treasures, too? And remember that Bible verse which tells us to, "train up our children in the way they should go and when they're old they won't depart from it"? Well, we must have done something right. Naomi found this bookcase on the curb. :)


**********

P.S. Naomi always gives the most perfect gifts. She did not inherit that from her mother. Nor her father. Uh, no. She gets that from God--there is no other explanation. And so not only do these presents come from our daughter, but from God, Himself. At least, that's the way I see it.


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Need more excitement? On Saturday, after 24 hours of strong winds, our neighbors' tree split and fell across their driveway and the street, crushing their mailbox.



Emergency crews arrived right away, which was a comfort. They blocked our street and used chainsaws to cut-up the fallen (huge) limb.



Poor old tree. Most likely it will be completely taken down. The whole Buffalo area lost quite a few trees this weekend...

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Ah, Motherhood!





Being a mother helps me understand other mothers.


And other peoples' children.


And sacrifice.


And deep, deep joy.


And deep, deep sorrow.


And humility.

And Life.

And unconditional love.


Being a mother helps me understand how incredibly much God loves me.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Preferring Common Sense Over Fear


Back in the 1980's I had a friend who was, well, kinda paranoid about her kids' safety. 

One day we sat at the park while our kids played and she pointed to a row of hedges and chuckled, "I see those and I imagine bad guys lurking behind them." Always she insisted we lock the car doors before we buckled up. She drilled her kids about Stranger Danger until they felt every unknown person was a potential kidnapper.

Following our visits I'd feel a worry cloud drape over me. I'd watch Naomi closer and drill her about safety, I'd lock the car doors immediately and check behind bushes at the park.



Sigh.

And then eventually I'd have to shake that cloud of worry off because living in fear felt dreadful. It wasn't godly for one thing, nor biblical and it ruined my days. At that time in my life I was lonely and wanted to imagine strangers as possible friends, not potential kidnappers of my daughter. 

I wanted to view other people the way God viewed them--with compassion and a love which was strong enough to lead Jesus to a cross.



So God led me to balance. He reminded me that wisdom goes far in keeping my family safe--go out at foolish times to questionable places and you're begging for trouble. But use common sense and basic safety skills? You'll most likely remain safe. And I think He showed me how to transmit this to Naomi without instilling a distrust of all people everywhere, but rather, a trust upon God's protection. 

(I chatted with someone yesterday, a former child of the 80's, who still feels the stranger danger fear and distrust of people. Still, at over 30-years-old. Oh dear.)



Living in fear is tragic. It's hard on our health, physical and mental. 

Yes, the world has become more dangerous. I get that. But God has not become weaker, nor does He love people any less than ever before in History. And now? He asks that I view fellow shoppers as not only possible friends, but potential lovers of God. 

I see many sad eyes out there and may I remain sensitive to God's nudges to step over and help a potential child of His find her way Home.




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If old-fashioned shyness is more of a problem when dealing with strangers, here's a post I wrote about that.


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"Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." ... Dorothy Thompson



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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Good Tired Vs. Bad




I prefer to end my days with Good Tired.

But Bad Tired, instead, happens when I spend my most energetic hours on the computer staring at Facebook, blogs or emails, instead of being, well, productive. To everything there is a season and there are 'seasons' to my days. A time to be online and a time to hop up and work.


Bad Tired also happens when I work, work, work while sulking, "I hate this. If only I could pay someone to do it for me." Or while shoving things around, thinking, "Tom should have done all this yesterday. I shouldn't have to clean up his messes. #&^%$%."


Bad Tired happens when I waited all day, hours and hours, for the perfect time-- and it never came. Or when I spent the entire day slouched before the tv watching the latest news disaster, play by play by play.


But Good Tired! Good Tired happens when when I do my hardest chores at my most energetic time instead of waiting until day's end. When I mow the lawn while feeling glad we even have one or when I wash the dishes feeling grateful we have those, too. 

Or when my physical energy is depleted, I do sit-down-stuff like going online or folding laundry. Or when I pause just to sit, smile and whisper with God.


There are natural rhythms to me and to my days, too. 

Rivers, even, of natural-flowing energy, of Grace and of rest. May I follow and obey them with gladness, gratitude and wisdom, accomplishing everything which needs to be done.



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Monday, May 03, 2010

Of Uncomposted Compost Piles


Talk about your Plan B. Or C, even.


All our snowy winter I anticipated walking out to our compost pile and beholding the lovely dirt which magically would come from all the organic stuff I threw in the compost 'corral' last summer. So finally last week I yanked up three of the removable boards, then raked and poked and pulled stuff out to see the glorious new dark, crumbly soil inside.


But what did I see instead? Pine needles. Twigs. Leaves. Pine cones. The occasional pumpkin rind. A plastic market bag (what the heck?).

Gah! Two-thirds of my compost pile was just sitting there like an un-composted, pathetic-looking lump. Ack. Fortunately the vast majority of fruit and vegetable skins had disappeared, though, which was pleasant since half-decomposed fruits and vegetables are so not pretty.


At first I was bummed. And at first I blamed myself for not adding enough grass clippings or water last year--something that still, small voice kept nagging me to do. You know, the same still, small voice I ignored in a procrastinating way.

But guess what? I've become thrilled and pleased as punch with my un-composted compost pile. Why? Because I spent this weekend spreading the pine needles, pine cones,twigs and leaves down upon my flower beds as mulch, instead.


I adore the look. Not to mention the helpfulness of mulch in combating weeds. And now when I gaze upon my flower bed with all its pine droppings and leaves I'm reminded of the forests and natural sanctuaries Tom and I have visited. The Redwoods come to mind, especially when I inhale true sun-warmed pine scent as God meant it (quite unlike that ghastly pine junk in a can).





I can't wait to cover all my flower beds this way. I even searched and poked around our 'sheddingest' pine tree, found no extra needles (because I'd raked them up last month) and was disappointed. I gazed up into the tree and saw no mature pine cones and not one rusty about-to-drop pine needle. Drats.


Our other evergreen lost a few small branches (tangles with big work trucks and Bob's milk truck) and I'm--get this--considering cutting the needles from the branches with scissors--they're not the type that just fall off. Now I'm all, like, "Give me more needles or I shall die!" :)




Hooray for alternate plans and for being happy anyway. That's what I say. That's how I try to live.




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Not to fear--the very bottom of my official compost pile is lovely dirt and I do have another compost pile. It's our big weed pile behind the barn. Plus, there's the rest of the mountain of dirt, sheep droppings and straw from when the guys put in gravel in 2008--very rich, fluffy stuff, perfect for the garden, as I discovered last year.


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"We did everything wrong, but it came out right." ... Elliott Merrick in Green Mountain Farm

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Were you handed a lemon? Create some yummy, icy lemonade!