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.



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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."


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"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, yard sales, 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 and rock pools and old garden sheds surrounded by more flowers and 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 and 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 already made. And although much more is needed to be done, oh! Much has been accomplished already. 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. And then the peace arrives.

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.



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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. :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Little Reminder: God Is Perfect


"He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He." Deut. 32:4

We are the ones who mess up.

It is imperfect people who spend money on their wants before their needs.

It is imperfect people who drive after drinking and kill themselves or others who drove safely.

It's imperfect people who have sex before marriage and then deal with the myriad problems afterward.

It's imperfect people who marry the wrong person in haste or marry the right person, but treat them selfishly.

It's imperfect people who eat food laced with chemicals and it's imperfect committees of people who approve those foods for sale.

It's imperfect people who eat wrong, exercise only sometimes, smoke, drink and sleep too few hours--and who pay for it in their bodies.

It's imperfect people who mishandle fire and get burned, who climb mountains and fall from them, who go out on boats not knowing how to swim.

And it's the god (little g) of this world who blinds the minds of imperfect people lest they see a perfect God who is passionately in love with them (II Cor. 4:4). A perfect God who never, ever makes mistakes. A God who is Love. Instead, it's little g god who tells everyone to blame God for the consequences of their imperfection.

God is perfect and to be trusted. For me, this is Christianity 101. There is no advancing deeper into God until this one fact is settled.



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James 1:17
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.


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Think about it: Would you give your child cancer or place him in a horrific accident to teach her something?

Neither would God.

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"10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

11 Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you." ... Proverbs 2:10, 11

Friday, May 28, 2010

Of Lessons and Apologies

Officially, I'm declaring May to be The Busiest Month Down On Our Farm. So, because I'm off doing other things (and exhausted--in a good way-- after I've finished them), I'm going to post this again, especially since it's been haunting me. :)

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Remember when I showed you this picture last week? Well, probably three years ago the owners held a yard sale with stuff both inside and out. Of course, Tom and I were thrilled to finally step inside this old cobblestone place--we'd driven past it often during the previous thirteen (or so) years. A bar and rooming house for most of those years, empty for a few, now the new owners had turned it into an antique shop and bed-and-breakfast.

Well, we stepped inside and in between the side wall and stairs was a trail of antiques and junk for sale. Now, the stairs were roped off for the B&B guests only and what we could glimpse of the upstairs appeared lovely. But we had to pick our way past boxes and furniture for sale to the back deck which was crammed with more boxes, knick-knacks and antiques as well as the tables and chairs which guests normally used.

Soon I stepped into the antique shop, dark like a cave, and crammed full of antiques and display cases. Not much time passed before I stepped over boxes and whispered to Tom, "I'll wait for you on the front steps--I'm too overwhelmed by all this stuff!"

So I sat outside on the sunny front steps and stared at all the black-eyed Susans and Shasta daisies sagging across the sidewalk in sore need of being deadheaded. The potential for a lovely perennial garden was there, but otherwise, all was sad and screamed of neglect.

Well, I just sat there and fumed. Yes, fumed because for the last forever, Tom and I had dreamed of having a bed-and-breakfast inn and here these people owned a perfect place for one and yet they were doing it all wrong. Clutter was everywhere downstairs and in the yard, and those poor flowers were neglected, and if you're going to have a yard sale while you have guests (they did have guests--I saw them walk up the stairs inside) why would you sell the stuff in the skinny front hall, creating a traffic jam for everyone?

So there I sat in the sun, muttering thoughts like, "If I had a bed-and-breakfast, my oh my, I'd run it a whole lot better than this one!" Then when Tom came out and we drove away, I bantered on and on about all the things the owners were doing wrong--and how things would be totally different if I were in charge of that place.

Gulp. Since moving to this farm of ours I have repented of those harsh thoughts of mine three-million times. Now I so understand. I understand how nearly impossible it is to have painted rooms and wallpapered rooms and a mowed yard and deadheaded flowers (and laundry done, meals on the table and the birds fed outside) all at the same time. And I'm not even running a B&B!

And if you'd asked me the first year the one word which describes how I felt it would have been overwhelmed. Yet those new owners of that B&B looked older than Tom and me, they and what appeared to be their business partners. Just being 52 and 50 on acreage in an old farmhouse for the first time, just the two of us, learning myriad unforseen lessons, has proven an incredible stretch of all that is within us.

The sad thing? That building in the photo, above, is again for sale. The B&B did not last more than 2 years. And I get that, too. I now realize how sometimes you must 'step out and find out' so that you won't spend your years wondering, "What if we had _____?" and kicking yourself because you never got out of the boat to try walking on water. Yet sometimes when you do take that leap, you realize--mostly--you were more in love with the thought of having that thing, rather than having or doing the thing, yourself. Or, you discovered you loved it, but it required more of you than you were willing to give. Or a host of other revelations.

But at least now you know. And now you can continue down the road of Life better informed about who you really are, what you really want--and no longer kicking yourself for chances never taken, for you were brave enough to crawl out of the boat.

(... and may I forever show extreme understanding toward B & B owners!)




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"Judge not lest ye be judged." .................


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May I never assume that I'd be terrific at anything I've never even tried. Technically, that's called pride.

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.


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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.


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 get the desire to escape.


But. (You knew that was coming right?) I think God told me a valuable secret recently. I'm thinking He told me that I only become overwhelmed on this computer 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?").

Or 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 every body needs a vacation! 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.

There are tons of ways to help others creatively online and isn't that what life is really all about? I can't bail out of that, of being kind online, at least, not without an alternate non-online plan from God. So in the meantime, I'll be here. And now, if only I can remember that it's about giving to others rather than to myself, well, I just might be here forever.



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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.

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

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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.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oh, When I Listen!


I'm discovering a remarkable thing.

When I listen to that Still, Small Voice and obey it (ah, there's the rub), the wildest things happen:

My bills get paid on time. I don't forget those sorts of things. I make fewer mistakes all-around.

I find myself speaking words people need to hear, when they need to hear them.

The right information, the perfect encouragement arrive exactly when I need them. The right place, right time concept leads me everywhere.

My time and money are spent wisely, with less waste. I even accomplish more with less of each.

I work smarter, not harder.

I worry less, for He assures me everything will be all right.

Oh, to listen and then do things His way, not mine! His ways keep me safe, they lead me to healthy living and kindness toward everyone.

And oh the joy which comes from emptiness of myself and instant obedience--not to what appears right in my own eyes--but His.



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John 3:30
He must increase, but I must decrease.


Proverbs 12:15
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkens unto counsel is wise.

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 so 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, it's 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 only recently have I told myself to stop moaning when Tom is home, and instead, just make clever changes. I've found that 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 Has Got To Be A Certain Way" belief which trips me up and keeps the dander flying high. 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. He wants me to be flexible while still being kind and patient toward others, especially toward 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.



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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. :)

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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 was covered with wallpaper from the ... hmmm... 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 judge those who are winning souls differently than we would, that is, if we were winning souls in the first place.

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 kindess 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 enough after only three. And enough, as you know, is enough.

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? Don't you just love 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?





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


Tom and I really, really 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 been playing 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?

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(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! :)

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 and our 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 are teaching 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 teach me to 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 monthly around my home and 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 and my cookbooks and cooking websites are teaching me recipes and techniques so I can feed healthy, inexpensive meals to others.


Doctors Mercola, Oz, Colbert and others are teaching me to run first, not to medicine, but to common sense and vitamins and herbs and exercise, good food, 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 am researching online authors and actors and those people 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.

I'm learning about photography by taking lots of pictures. I'm learning how to write by writing. And the occasional perusal of books, magazines and online articles regarding both.

Through the Bible and hours alone whispering with God I'm learning about the vital-ness of love and 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 step back into it on dark nights. Mornings sound my school bell. It's a pleasant, inviting sound.





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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 if you can think outside the box (rather than inside the same old stuffy box with everybody else), well, you might just get somewhere. You might just get 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 that I do."

On that day, I began a freedom walk. A small beginning it was, but a beginning, 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, a town I'd come to adore, a town 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 him get 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 to go for a career down the road. Or if you desire to go for the enjoyment of learning. 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 and neglected. Skip the guilt and the bad feelings of being sunk, helpless, too, if you choose another path. Instead, choose individuality, creativity and carving out a unique life of your own--and live amazed.

In fact, any time people--or even your own insecure self-- are pressuring you to do something, always (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 probably discover your real self, too-- the person God meant for 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.



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"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 learned.

"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 would finish painting our middle room upstairs and maybe paint the kitchen floor (a temporary fix) and paint the horrendous paneled wall in the living room, and well, paint everything that could be painted, including the guest room floor. Then in 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 would buy new-to-me clothes and have my hair permed, oh, and lose ten pounds, too.

Basically, by the time of our friends' arrival, I would 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 and I 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. I looked at my garden and saw it the way the neighbors do-- only dirt and weeds--instead of viewing the vegetables and flowers in my mind as they'll appear around July, the inspiration which, in normal times, keeps me 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. The pressure is off. Oh probably God will need to remind me--again and again--that there's no contest taking place and I've nothing to prove. And He'll remind me there's really only Him and Grace, one on each side of me, helping me, encouraging me and making me smile while we work and laugh together.



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

Sunday, May 16, 2010


So lately, ol' Debra is feeling every one of her 50-something years.

I'm puttering in my garden each day and mowing the lawn most days and you should see me collapse upon the couch during my many rest times. And even with my simplistic "inch by inch" style and the myriad resting times--still--I reach the end of my days barely able to move.


But it's the good kind of tired.


It's the type of tired I dreamed about on winter afternoons before the window while staring out across snowy fields. In my mind I yearningly pictured myself pulling weeds and planting seedlings and sitting upon the sunlight of my Debra-made-and-boy-it-sure-looks-it garden deck.

And now it's all taking place for real. The sunshine, the garden, the pushing around of my orangey wheelbarrow and the lolling on my garden deck which feels like a pier to me. And while it's all happening I catch myself complaining about the weariness which accompanies it. But! Immediately I remind myself that I asked for this. All of this--the farm, the big garden and meadows--for whole decades. I waited thirty-five years for all this work. So no complaining allowed.

No, if I'm going to murmur anything, let it be words of gratitude that I did not live my whole life without experiencing farm life and the work which comes along with it. The farm and the work are inseparable, bound together, so it behooves me to be grateful for both.



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In other news.... At a yard sale this weekend I found a 1955 issue of the Niagarian, a yearbook from Niagara Falls High School. Don't you enjoy looking at old yearbooks? I own even older yearbooks, from the 30's and 40's, from a different local high school and I enjoy finding familiar last names from our area then searching online for any information I can find. For after all, the rather frustrating thing about gazing at old yearbooks is seeing all the fresh, happy faces of those teens and wondering how their lives turned out. I mean, I even create stories for some of the girls who look as though they may have been kindred spirits, but alas, my make-believe stories are just that. Make-believe.

Remember that bookcase Naomi gave me? I decided to put only my vintage teen books in it as well as my collection of retro high school yearbooks. Fun, indeed. Makes me feel young to behold such teen 'vintage-ness' in one place. As a teen I longed for those same books, but settled for the copies at the local city library. (So, alas, we're talking another long-held dream-come-true here.)


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Colossians 3:15
"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts ... and be thankful."

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Numbers 11:1
"And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it..."

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 and tons of baby grass. There he was leaning on his cane and pulling the 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 stop worrying about the weeds in the lawn."

Ever since then whenever I'm watching from the kitchen and see Tom bending over and pulling weeds from the new lawn, I push open the window and call to him, "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 chemicals fly against everything I believe). And we could kill ourselves edging every bit of our two or more acres of lawn and then pristinely landscape the whole thing to look like something else. But the fact remains--this is 1800's farmland and we have a barn and an orchard and 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.

It's a farm, not a country club. And I'm a 51-year-old average woman, not a work horse and not an extremely talented and 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'd better go inside and look up how to do that online. 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 more experienced in the ways of farm life, but today I cannot jump from where I am to where I will be--I can only accept where I am and take a new step forward. Then another step and another, enjoying each one, as well as myself, our farm, and Life and God on this journey.



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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, walking 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 though 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. Vats 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 there 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. It's those who show mercy toward the imperfect who 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. Back and forth.

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 and complaining about everyone from our President to tv evangelists to our pastor to the odd little man nextdoor in our blogs or on message boards or in email forwards 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.

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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."

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

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From Matthew 18:
32"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

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

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Putting Some Action to Wishes


Sometimes people say they wish they could go back to being teenagers.

Hmm.

I would go back only if I could take along what I know now. And if I could start all over at 18, here are some changes I would make. (Warning: Some of these sound wild, but I'm serious.)

I would never buy a microwave oven.

I would never take medications, but rather, I'd find alternative natural cures. I would become a near-expert at holistic/nutritional healing and practices.

I would exercise five days a week.

I would never, ever drink anything with NutraSweet/aspartame. Never Ever.

I would develop a deep aversion to complaining. I would give more, trust more, laugh more and worry less.


I would grow and preserve as much of my own food as possible.


I would take plenty of Vitamin D every winter.


I would eat way more vegetables and much, much less sugar and processed foods.


I would watch less tv and spend more hours outside.

And the list goes on and on.....


But of course, I can't go back.


And yet! I can make these changes now, and I am. Trying to, anyway. It's an adventure, a challenge, for discipline is never a cinch. Yet all the changes are proving to be worth all the effort.

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If you could go back, what sorts of changes would you make?


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You can do what God wants you to do. There's always a way, or else He wouldn't ask it of you.

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. :)


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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.

Friday, May 07, 2010



So does anyone else remember that appetite suppressant commercial where the announcer says, "You will never lose weight until you can control your appetite!"?


Well, when it comes to feelings, here's what I say, "You will never grow-up until you can control your feelings!"


Yes, really.


That was true for me, anyway, and some friends of mine, too. The whole pack of us spent years saying these sorts of things:


"I feeeel so ugly in these clothes."

"You hurt my feeeelings."


"I feeeel like no one loves me.


"He makes me feeel like a loser."

"I feeeel mad at the whole world."


"I feeeel like I'll never get out of debt."


"I feeeel sad so I'm just gonna lay on the couch all day and go with that."


Feeeeelings......... Woe, woe, woe feeeeelings..... (as the singer croones...)


Fortunately, for most of us, there arrives a time when we just get sick of being slapped around and knocked down and controlled by our lousy, lying, pathetic feelings.


There comes a time when we move into Living By What I Know to Be True.


"I know that God loves me. I know that the people in my life love me, too."


"I know that I've been made a new person in Christ."


"I know that someday the circumstances in my life will be better. I know that in the meantime God will comfort me and show me what to do next."


"I know that God can help me overcome my fears."


"I know that God wants me to live with His daily joy, for that is my strength."


I know... I know... I know...


Living by what I know rather than what I feeeeel has been huge. And continues to be so. I highly recommend it.



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John 8:32
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."



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1 John 4:16
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

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. We sat at the park one day 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." She always insisted we lock the car doors before we buckled up. She drilled her kids about Stranger Danger until they felt every person they did not know 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 from me because living in fear felt dreadful. It wasn't godly for one thing, not biblical and it ruined my days. At that time in my life I was lonely and wanted to imagine strangers as potential 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 foolish places and you're begging for trouble. But use common sense and basic safety skills and you'll most likely remain safe. And I like to think He showed me how to transmit this to Naomi without instilling a distrust of all people everywhere, but rather, a trust in using common sense and relying 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.)


I've learned to recognize my own danger signals. Oh, not the kind which you think. I mean, I've learned that when I start viewing every tattoed, black-haired teenager as a potential murderer, then I've been watching too much tv news. If I'm looking around with suspicious, beady eyes in a parking lot on a sunny morning, then I need to cut back on the crime shows and Internet news. If I'm not seeing people as God sees them, then somewhere I've gone wrong.


Living in fear is tragic, not to mention hard on your 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 wants me to view my fellow shoppers as not only potential friends, but potential lovers of God. I see so many sad eyes out there and may I always, always 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

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 or 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 and 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 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 I do my hardest chores at my most energetic time instead of waiting until day's end, when my physical energy is depleted, when sit-down-stuff or going online are more timely.


Good Tired happens when I pause, over and over, to just sit and smile and whisper with God.


There are natural rhythms to me and to my days, too. Flows, rivers even of energy, of Grace and of rest. May I follow and obey them and sprinkle each hour with vitamins of gladness, gratitude and wisdom.