Tuesday, August 31, 2010

When Change Comes With No Warning

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

Tom called me from his cell phone at 3:30 and said he was in the driveway and could I help him carry some things inside the house?

Three-thirty?! What was he doing home so early, I asked. "Is anything wrong?"

"Well, there's something not too right."

So I ran out to the car, reached for the bags inside the opened window and jokingly asked, "Well, you weren't fired were you?"

Tom replied, "Actually, I was laid off."

Oh dear. My stomach dropped. "Tom, you're not joking, are you? You wouldn't joke about this would you?"

No, turns out he wasn't kidding. He was in a little group of guys laid off today. The company is downsizing to just a tiny skeleton crew.

My first thought? "Breathe. Breathe. Stay calm. Save the tears for later."

And then, "This doesn't happen to us! Not after what amounts to 22 years with the same company." (Technically it's not the same company, but as close as it gets.) "This happens to other people!"

But it has happened. And if it's happened to you, I now know how you feel. In the nearly 32 years of our marriage, Tom has never been laid off. Never been without a job.

Sigh.

So right now we are all about scribbling numbers on backs of envelopes and what can we cut back on and --?? Well, you know.

And remember how I was complaining about this farm? Well, forget all that, ok? Just ignore those posts because, right now, at this moment, I am so grateful for this roof over our heads. This home place. This place we, hopefully, can pay off somehow so it will be ours (fortunately, we don't owe too much on it).

Wow. Change. It can happen in a moment.... in as long as it takes for someone you've worked with for 17 years to call you into his office and to, shakily, tell you he's sorry, but ..........

Everything will be all right (I keep telling myself). Please pray that we will make all the right decisions, ok? And that we won't become all negative and say a bunch of doubtful stuff. Tom and I so believe in the power of life and death being in the tongue... and we so want to honor God with our words. Even now.


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Proverbs 3:5
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Just Taking The Leap and Doing It



During our lovely weekend excursions, Tom and I bought four boxes of peel and stick tile at a yard sale for only $10. Truly, this was a 'God thing' because He knew that, last week, the final drop of my patience with our horrid, 1970's kitchen floor had leaked out. Drip. Plop. Gone.

So yesterday afternoon I began laying the tile. Now, have I ever done this before? Uh, no. Is it coming out perfectly, as though a professional is doing the job? No way on Earth. There are small gaps, I've cut way too many tiny, sticky pieces and most likely, when I'm finished, I'll be grabbing the ol' caulking gun to try to minimize the edge spaces.

My knee is sore and scraped-up, too.




But you know? Already I've succeeded. Why? Because I'm doing it. I'm doing what no one else has been brave enough to attempt since 1975. So no matter how it turns out, it will be a success and a million times nicer than it was before. Because the tile looks better, simpler, yes, but because I tried. I opened the boxes and began the job.

I've said here before that I have little patience with wimpy women. You know, women who, in their 40's, still must call a man to help them hang a picture on the wall. Women who whine, complain rather than tackle, even in baby steps, what they're complaining about.

And you know? I believe that's partly why I've had such a hard time on this farm: I have too often been A Wimpy Woman. I've let all the unfinished projects overwhelm and downright paralyze me. Gah! But hey, at least God used that to give me more patience, more understanding and compassion for my fellow Wimpy Women. After all, it's never right to criticize anyone for not having the gifts God has given you.

It's also dreadful not to use those gifts, yourself.

Some lessons must be learned over and over until they stick. I'm thankful that I'm learning them now rather than arriving in Heaven all clueless as to what I could have learned and experienced down here.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Recognizing The Lessons

Life becomes easier (more beautiful, too) when you learn to enjoy the lessons it teaches you. And when you realize nearly every moment brings new lessons, some pleasant, others messy and uncomfortable, but all necessary.

But what I've seen is that many people grow to dread Life, to see it as what-bad-thing-is-gonna-happen-to-me-next?

And that is a sad way to live. I think Christians who live that way will arrive in Heaven and God will ask (with tinges of sadness in His voice), "Why didn't you recognize the lessons I tried to teach you? Why didn't you ask Me to change you rather than always asking that I only change your negative circumstances?"

When we change how we see things, then the whole world looks different, including those negative situations which just will not budge no matter how many times we pray they will.

Somewhere in Time I learned to stop fighting and to start flowing with the Spirit, instead. To go through rather than always trying to go around. To just get the lessons over with--to learn from them and allow God to make the appropriate changes within my heart. And then to come out on the other side healed and hopeful and with brand new eyes.

What a way to go.



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Learn your lessons well.


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1 John 2:27
"As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in Him."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Magic Pills

Shhhh! Don't tell anyone, but Tom and I are taking magic pills.

Ooooooooo. They are niiiiice. They make me feel calm. Cool. LaDeeDa all's right with the world-ish.

What are these magic pills called? Krill oil. They're supposed to lower your blood pressure and wow. They take mine so low that I don't nag Tom nearly as much as I did before. And since I began taking a second pill before he arrives home from work in the evenings, not only am I more patient with him ("Hey Sweetie.....hmmm.....la...la...la... how was work?"), but I sleep better, too.

Oh, blessed, blessed sleep. How I've appreciated your glad return this past week.

I highly recommend krill oil.

Dr. Mercola says it's better than fish oil because fish oil can go rancid not only in your cupboard, but inside your stomach, also. (Ew.) So, although krill oil is more expensive (I searched till I found a decent price online), to me, it's oh so worth it. With krill oil I feel gooood. I can feel the difference. The cool, man, cool difference.

Again, shhh.... Don't tell anyone that Tom and I are taking magic pills. Everybody else just may want to take them, too. :)



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Lori asked where I bought the krill oil pills. I bought them at VitaCost. Again, they're not cheap, but they're cheaper than med's and not harmful to your body. I'll continue to look for good deals on krill oil, both online and in neighborhood stores, since I plan on taking these things for, like, forever. :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Along The Way


Tom and I took another lovely country drive today. We thought we'd share a bit of it with you.



This is the kind of house (above) we're thinking of for our next place. Isn't it cute? (But the yard would be much, much smaller.)
























I love these old 1800's brick buildings. You're driving along cornfields and apple orchards and poof! Here's another tiny town looking pretty much as it did one hundred and thirty years ago. Okay, minus the cars and paved road. :)

























When Bigger Is Not Better

Do you know Peter Walsh? The guy who helps people get rid of the junk in their homes? Well, he's written a book I've not even read, but I adore the title:

It's All Too Much.

Boy, that's become my mantra around here lately. It's all too much--the four acres with sprawling lawns, the barn and garage dumping grounds, the wild gardens, the orchard with its tree worries, the house with all its painting and repair projects. (The dead frogs and birds, the mosquitos, the disagreements with Tom's farm ideas, the weeds, the weeds, the weeds. Etc.)

Then there's the 1940's and 50's ranch houses on small lots which Tom and I walk through during estate sales. Oh my. Those have become my latest dream. My grandparents always had tiny houses like those and, as a teen, I felt sorry for them. But not now. Oh no, I'm envious, for I so understand the downsizing seasons of Life, especially as one passes fifty. I get it now. I know the secret.

A cute, efficient little place would enable me to do what God has called me to do, namely, spend much quiet time with Him so I can know Him better (and write in this blog to you), travel places with Tom, visit people, read lovely books, write letters to the discouraged and celebrate my life's remainder in other ways than keeping house and sweating, grumbling while mowing endless lawns. And uh, to keep my sanity, also. (When we're in the center of God's perfect, personalized will that's much simpler to do than when we're not.)

You know? God is so good. He allowed me to play farmer girl because I thought that was my passion. God knew I had to discover for myself that, nah, farming is for the other people who He's gifted to do it. But God gave me other, different gifts. Oh, I still enjoy flowers and vegetable gardening and painting indoors, but on a small scale.

Oh, give me blessed small scale! Please-oh-please. That's when Grace is a big help to me--when I'm working on Debra-sized tasks--not Mary Jane Butters'-sized tasks. Uh, no. Those are for Mary Jane. That's where Grace has been--over there in Idaho helping Mary Jane. :)

Debra, know thyself, lest you get thineself into a whole peck of trouble without Grace hanging around to help you out.

So what remains is for me to anticipate a smaller everything while still enjoying the remainder of this farm season, too. Or at least holding onto a good, grateful attitude about it. To not totally move away from here inside my head, but to hang on, to ask Grace for much help and to take one remaining day here at a time.

There is a price to be paid for answered prayers and dreams-come-true, you know.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Early Autumn Feeling In My Backyard


Though everything is still quite green, autumn is in the air on this August morning. I really wish you were here to enjoy it with me! I wish you could smell the banana bread baking in the oven. Yes, any of you, my readers. Well, any of you who are not axe murderers, that is. Heh. (Forgive my funky mood. It's that autumnal slant of light and cool temps. We're due for a high of 70 today and--according to me--that's perfection.)





I moved these things to the Bunny Pasture behind the barn since keeping the back meadow mowed was way too much work. (The chair sits beside a young tree--you must look closely to see it.) The fairy lost a wing out in the meadow and her pool became cracked last winter so now I refer to her as The One-Winged Fairy and Her Mysterious Empty Pool.

Alas. Making lemons from lemonade and using my rusty imagination.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sheesh.

Has this ever happened to you?

You keep a relatively neat house. Not spic and span, of course, but straightened and clean in most of the easy-to-see places. Yet invariably, you know that your rather-sloppy-housekeeper-friend/relative, ______, will let you know that there's cat hair in a certain corner of your dining room. Or that you forgot to dust the end table. Or your stove top is looking a little crusty.

I have two people like that in my life. I won't tell you who they are, but their names rhyme with pom and payomee.

Heh.

This is only a test. This is only a test. This is only a test. Will I let that make me feel all insecure? Will I go madly careening around the house, cleaning, thinking, "No one's ever gonna criticize my housekeeping again!"? (Oh, the pride.)

Or will I just smile and see the humor in the whole thing?

"Iron sharpens iron" and all that good stuff............

Contented, But Still Dreaming

I enjoy peeking at real estate in our area online.

Sometimes I do real estate searches for friends of ours who want to move, sometimes (like now, I confess) I take online looks at houses and their rooms, features and prices so I'll be better-informed when we buy a house later. Someday will come and I'll be prepared.

It's fun. It's recreation. For me, anyway.

It's a free way to dream and imagine and redecorate--I imagine how I would have decorated the sellers' homes so to sell them faster. It's a way to practice one's math skills, also. You know, if we sell this house for x amount and we buy another house for y amount then subtract z amount for the equity we've built, then how much will our new house payments be?

Contentment is a fine balance. I try to be content where I am on the way to where I am going. I should be traveling ahead, not standing still while clinging to the oldy, moldy ways, refusing to move with the Times (this is a major reason ministries die). I want to be content (and grateful) today, yet still envision myself someplace else tomorrow. I'm happy with what I know this morning, yet always, I should be learning something new.

It's when I've veered into a boring rut and sit there that I'm discontented, for there is no new life in boring ruts. Only sameness and the death of what used to be alive for me, but is now lying there flat, used-up, like an empty tube of toothpaste.

Content now, but dreaming and working and seeing myself in a better place on a new day. (And I'm not just talking houses here.) That is where I want to be--out there on the road which is always changing because I am changing how I walk there and how I see it.


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The Apostle Paul had to learn to be content. So do we. Contentment does not just Poof! plop into our heads. Uh, no.


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Behold! He makes all things new.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Bookcase, Phase 1




Today I began painting our oh-so-brown-oh-so-dark bookcase.

It only took me two years to start.

I can't even explain how much better I feel about it now, even though I'm not finished yet. (Tom's not-so-pretty things are hidden behind the pictures on the bottom shelf.)

Pro-activity is so great.

Now, if I can only get up the gumption to paint the entire wall.




******

Here's the 'before pic.' The way, way before pic from two years ago:


"Somebody Should Do Something About That..."

Last night I couldn't sleep (long, many-detailed story. I'll spare you.) So I wearily dragged my pillow out to the couch, turned on the tv and after some minutes, imagined what someone from the 1800's would think about the people on late night television. My conclusion? They'd think, "Good gracious. What cataclysmic event left people from the future with only half a brain? They're moronic."

Heh.

Anyway, I decided to try to watch David Letterman. His guest was Brian Williams, the newscaster, who I happen to like, as a newscaster, anyway.

Well, good grief. Mr. Letterman practically went ballistic in blaming the government for not putting enough emphasis on the hopeless state of our physical world (oil in the Gulf, global warming, the whole messed-up state of nature, etc.). Poor Brian could barely get a word in while Letterman ranted about all the cooking shows on cable tv, especially cake-baking shows which hold all their silly cake contests while children in our Country go to bed, starving, and babies around the world die every six seconds.

Brian tried to give some balanced defenses, but Letterman was on an angry roll, blaming the government and cable tv and newscasters and all the rest of us for these huge issues.

But did I lay there on the couch getting all upset about the cooking shows on cable tv? Or about the government's part in ignoring the state of the planet--even though I am no big fan of our government and am rather a tree-hugger, myself?

Uh, no. I got upset with David Letterman. At his cluelessness, mostly. Why? Because here is something I know to be true--Usually, the people who are the loudest complainers, the ones crying, "Somebody should do something!," they are the ones who are called to do that something. They are the ones trying to ease the discomfort of disobedience and neglect inside their souls. They are the ones God has called to go out and help hurting people. Yet they, over time, believe that to sit behind a big megaphone, yell at other people who also are doing nothing and point their fingers in blame is their calling. They believe blaming is accomplishment. Or even obedience.

But what else I've noticed? The people who are happily in the center of God's will for their lives, the ones who are busy (but balanced) in helping and healing people, the ones who are out there with dirt on their faces, but smiling big--they are not loudly complaining about people who are carrying out different callings. They're not even complaining about the people doing nothing. No, they are too busy for wasted breaths and they're too busy finding joy and satisfaction in obeying God's call on their life. They're watching things get accomplished, they're seeing people being changed and lives made better because of God using their own hands, their words, their hearts to help other human beings.

And they are grateful that God has called them to such a huge task.




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It's a cinch to point fingers and blame others. Any fool can do it.



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I loved this post by Annie at The View From 256. I think you'll enjoy it, too.


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Monday, August 23, 2010

The Extreme Joy of Non-Ownership

Okay. This post is kinda-sorta about what I promised last time I wouldn't talk about for months. But only kinda-sorta, all right?

What I have relearned (I believed I already knew it) is that one need not own something in order for it to be theirs. Certainly not in order for them to enjoy it, either.

The neighborhoods I loved to stroll through in our previous town definitely did not belong to me, yet they were mine. Mine to walk through for ideas and inspiration and exercise, of course. But I didn't have to pay and care for all those lawns and flowers and 1920's houses--oh my, no! They were just there for me to enjoy with my eyes and heart.

The country drives Tom and I still take, all those 1800's farms we drive past, they are there for us to appreciate, to glean some ideas and to zip us back in Time for a few moments. But all the work and money it requires to keep up all those places! Thank-goodness, that's for someone else.

The park I used to drive to in our previous town and all its trees and lawns and the old brick-walled memorial swimming pool--mine to savor, but not Mine-All-Mine as in ownership. Just mine to enjoy, to sit upon the lawn and read and nibble lunch, but not to mow and trim and water and clean. Heavens, no.

The books I read about people who own(ed) country acres or gorgeous homes in old cities--how fun to read about all their adventures, but how relaxing for me to just read, not do all their work and upkeep.

Even my favorite blog of them all, Cold Antler Farm--Jenna's farm is hers, but oh how I love checking-in each morning to read about her adventures, fun ones and hard, difficult ones. I am reaping smiles and thoughts and inspirations from all the work and effort Jenna is putting into her new farm and its animals and land. But her farm in no way belongs to me.

Yet, oh! How I enjoy living vicariously there.

View Life this way and each of us is extremely wealthy. And may I remember this lesson this time. May I never, ever forget.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Letting Go For Real. Forever.


There's good news and bad news.


First, the good news. This will be the final time I will speak of this for months, so at least you can now come here and not dread reading about it again.


Some of you will understand. Others will think me crazy or ungrateful. But, oh well...


Okay, now the bad news... See that photo, above? Yesterday morning, Tom dragged home that huge, heavy, ugly, heavy, rusty and did I mention heavy trailer-mounted lawn vacuum. A man gave it to Tom for free and he told me he couldn't pass up that kind of a deal.


I stared at that heavy/ugly piece of machinery and then I looked over at my husband who has seven herniated discs in his back and neck and this is what I said:


"This is the last straw. This broke the camel's back and I refuse to let it break yours. Next Spring we are sticking a For Sale sign on the front lawn. I cannot handle this pressure. I can no longer watch you self-destruct. I see now that you can't help yourself when it comes to tractor stuff so--to save your life--we are going to sell this house."


Yes, that's what I told him. I wasn't even overly-emotional this time, but just matter-of-fact and, well, defeated. And tired. Tired of watching Tom not use wisdom and tired of my own pretending this farm thing is working. It's not.


Almost immediately Tom realized he should never have lugged that clunky thing home and so he contacted his partner in crime, Al, to see if he'd like it. Al will take just about anything. (Yes, rather like, "Give it to Mikey--he'll eat anything.") heh.


And then we drove down country roads to an estate sale inside a barn (I bought three perfect books), ate lunch at an incredibly old-fashioned hamburger stand beside a scenic part of The Erie Canal, grocery-shopped in a tiny place I call Grover's Corners and had a wonderful day.


In September we'll invite our favorite real estate lady, Cher, over to dinner (as we promised two years ago) and we'll ply her with questions, many, some which I already asked in a letter I mailed to her Friday when I was still vacillating about selling.


I am vacillating no more. And already there is peace inside my head, the struggle is gone and dreams of a cottage-y place and clutter-given-away and a tiny, manageable yard are being birthed. There's a new, lighter, freer phase ahead for us and I'm almost giddy about it.


New dreams for a new day. And always there will be gratitude that we made this bold move, did the farm thing and for the rest of our lives we will never have to wonder, "What if we had ...?"


We moved, we made discoveries, we lived memorably... and we learned this was a short, but necessary, season in our lives. And hey...it was never meant to last forever, anyway. We knew that going in. We knew that on moving day.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Time For More Color

Hallelujah and pass the potatoes. heh.

Our most unwelcomed heat and humidity packed their bags and sauntered down the street this week and Debra is back to her normal, cheerful self.

Humidity makes her downright crabby. (Why do I always forget just how much it changes me?)

But summer is waning around here, we're back in the 70's, low humidity and Life is again good. Very good.

As soon as the temperature got sane, I got creative. I rearranged a couple pieces of furniture. Spray-painted a basket. And I've been haunting the houses on Kim's Home Tours, positively camping out there in the midst of all that bright, glorious color and imaginative decor.

And I've made a decision. I really want to go for it, to take the plunge. I want to totally Daisy Cottage-ize my house. Seriously. I mean, it hit me that I'm always taking those house tours when I need a little extra comfort or when I just want a tidbit treat to sweeten my day, so well, wouldn't it be better if I could walk around my own house for a treat? If I strolled through my own rooms for instant comfort, cheer and to be ushered into my own heartland happy place?

I believe it would.

So look-out paint cans and paint brushes, here I come. I'm tired of vacillating, of bring afraid of color and of what others will whisper behind my back. Who cares? Halfway commitments never feel right and Life is too short to not make the changes your heart is begging you to make.


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Thanks so very, very much for the book titles you gave me yesterday! I appreciate them so much and I had such a great time reading reviews of the books over at Amazon. I'll reveal my reason for asking in September, but in the meantime, please know you were a huge help!

(I'll gladly take more book recommendations if you have them!)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mercy Grapes And Your Favorite Books

I brought these in from our yard this week. Why do I call them Mercy Grapes? Because God certainly was merciful in allowing those grapes to grow, what with the fact I never did make it back there to weed around the vines or fertilize them or train them along twine at the top of the stakes. I did nothing to them because I've spent this long, formerly hot and humid summer (we're much cooler now) feeling overwhelmed.

And well, I've already whined about all that, but I did want to share these amazing grapes with you. The concord grapes are so incredible that they make supermarket grapes taste fake, like processed grape substitute, or something. I taste our (organic) concord grapes and feel as though I'm eating grapes for the very first time in my 51 years.

I highly recommend growing grapes.

Moving on... I really (seriously) would love to hear the titles of the best books you've read the past year or two. There's a certain reason I'm asking, one which I can't reveal until September (I'm being mysterious here), but I would so appreciate your leaving one or more titles of lovely books you've recently discovered. Or, of course, older books you've reread myriad times. Fiction or non-fiction, domestic, homey-style mysteries or non-mysteries-with-a-bit-of-morally-nice-romance-thrown-in would be great. Or anything else you loved reading. Thanks so much!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day By Day By Day By Day

So remember how Julie and Julia inspired many of us to cook again? And remember how Julie took on the enormous task of cooking something from Julia Child's cookbook every single day for a whole year?

Well, I was going to write about how, back around 1984, I determined to do something kind for someone outside my immediate family all 365 days of the year. And I did. And it turned into one remarkable, rewarding year, indeed.

But then yesterday I found this article about a young woman who, also, was inspired and challenged by Julie and Julia, so she's been spending this year remaking ugly thrift shop dresses into stylish, oh-so-cool clothing. Every single day she makes a new creation and for only $1, according to the article.

Wow. You'll see some of her recreations in the article, but you can find more inspiring before-and-after photos at her blog, also.

Why are we so inspired and encouraged by these sorts of projects?

I believe it's because they challenge us to always live consciously, with a concise, daily purpose. You know, to live awake.

Life races by, gets complicated and we become so overwhelmed, that we end up zoning-out, hiding, or just trying to survive rather than thrive and have great adventures of discipline and purpose. Or we let our minds get lazy, all auto-pilot-led, all que sera sera, what will be, will be.

There will always be way more to Life than just trying to survive the next twenty-four hours (or twenty-four years). Sometimes all that's wrong is that, in always searching for the easy way, we miss the right way, the way God wanted us to go, and thus we discover only boredom or angst, instead.

So anyway, I hope you'll zip over to this latest article and perhaps be inspired to find what it is God would like you to do daily for a month, a year or maybe for forever. Something which will keep you excited about Life and able to inspire tons of other folks, as well.



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Some possible ideas of what we could do 365 days in a row:


Send an encouraging email daily to different people.
Call a different person to share encouragement.
Write in a blog.
Share a photo in a blog.
Write a poem.
Write one page of a new book.
Take a walk.
Make a different dessert (or main dish, side dish, etc.)
Read a short book or a certain numbers of chapters of various books.
Go to the gym.
Speak with someone you don't know (as in, around your town).
Make one simple or creative change in your home.
Learn a new word. Learn a new hobby (or about a new hobby).
Record one new thing you learned that you didn't know the day before.
Toss or give away ten items in your home you no longer find useful or beautiful.
Paint something in or around your home.
Take a bike ride.
Sew fabric squares into a quilt.
Crochet squares into a quilt.
Work a crossword puzzle.
Dance.
Send a cute, encouraging snail mail card. Or an ecard.
Make one conscious, healthy change to your diet.
Do one creative thing today which you didn't do the day before.
Jog.
Swim.
Feed wild birds.
Work on a piece of art--a painting, a collage, a tapestry, etc. Sell or give away what you've made at year's end.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Restore Unto Me The Joy of (Fill in the Blank)



I'm going to repost this because I've been putting it into practice all day today ("Restore unto me the joy of cooking and decorating and homemaking") and always--always--I'm amazed at how quickly this one works!


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Eons ago, Tom wrote a song which contained this Bible verse:

"Restore unto me the joy of my salvation and renew a right spirit within me."

Well, lately I've been humming that song, but with lyrics I tweaked a bit:

"Restore unto me the joy of cooking (and renew a right cooking spirit within me)."

Good gracious.

The first early years I was married, I loved to cook and I became good at it. But lately? Ugh... I often push myself into the kitchen and force myself to open a cupboard. And that's right about when I start praying that I'll enjoy cooking again. Amazingly, that prayer usually works--eventually a joy of cooking returns to me.

Of course, it helps to surround myself with cooking inspiration, so I watch a few episodes of Rachel Ray or Martha Stewart and I peruse cooking magazines--or better--my collection of 1920's and 30's cookbooks. Sometimes it's just enough to see old photos of cakes or roasts placed upon old Fiestaware in front of a hoosier cabinet.

What I do not do after praying my 'cooking prayer' is watch shows where the homemaking arts are ridiculed and women who stay home are told they are wasting their lives. Nor do I pick up books, magazines or peek at blogs which preach "any idiot can care for a home--your time and effort are more wisely spent outside in the real world."

Uh, no. That would only guarantee my prolonged boredom with cooking. Sometimes the cause of my defeat is simply the place where I've been spending my time.

I've had other prayers, as I'm sure you have, too:

Restore unto me the joy of cleaning my house...
Restore unto me the desire to go grocery shopping...
Restore unto me good thoughts toward my next door neighbor...
REstore unto me the joy of writing in my blog...
Restore unto me patience with my husband and my daughter...

But whatever the prayer, I've found believing with much faith is only a start to its being answered. The other step is to drench myself in good inspiration and avoid anything which will keep me in the same ol', same ol' pathetic place.


***


"It's the little foxes that spoil the vine..."

"

Monday, August 16, 2010

Oh Wow. Old Color Slides.

Oh wow. Oh wow.

These color slides taken from 1939 - 1943 are breathtaking. Simply incredible. They were taken to show the effects of the Great Depression upon rural areas of America.

The slides whoosh me back to a long ago decade, they are so real. And yet....... when I look into the unsmiling eyes and gaze around at the poverty, I determine, more than ever, that referring to the 1930's and 40's as The Good Old Days is, well, not too wise.

These are The Good Old Days. These, now, in 2010. And what are you doing now to make your Good Old Days more memorable?



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Let me know what you thought of the old slides, ok?

Staying On The Same Page With God

Oh, we get so silly at times.

When God wanted to free me from shyness (which I believed simply was what it was), I, instead, wanted Him to help me write such great letters to my friends that they'd write me right back.

When He wanted to deal with me about complaining, I prayed that I'd be able to read the Bible through in a year to keep up with my friends (though I pretended He didn't know that last part).

When He corrected me about being overly sensitive and getting offended over every unkind word spoken to me at church, I wanted Him to make me the best Bible teacher on the planet (so that the planet would sit up, listen and throw flowers to me).

Good grief.

No wonder we grow so slowly in faith, in love, in God. We're too often not even on the same page with Him in His personal notebook with our name on the front. Many is the time I've tried to skip ahead to the more fun pages, the easier pages, when all along God was saying, "Hey Debra. You're not even past page 3 yet. You're still back here in the Basic Chapters."

Bleh. The Basics aren't fun, are they?

Wrong. In God, The Basics are amazing because they're so darn freeing and life changing--and healing.

And they are the most necessary. Page One is the same for all of us: Love God With All Your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength. But you know? Tons of Christians are 'out there' trying so hard to birth baby Christians without knowing, for themselves, God's passionate (passionate!), unconditional love for themselves. Without having a moment-by-moment love affair happening with Jesus.

We cannot share what we've never even had in the first place.

So today I would say do not despise The Basics. Do not try to skip ahead to the pages in your own personal notebook which God is not even close to reading along with you.

If you haven't yet learned to daily receive God's unconditional, passionate (passionate!) love for you, warts and all, start there. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. (heh). Chuck all your plans for becoming the greatest Christian example in your neighborhood or the best singer in your church or the best darn little Christian, period, that God ever created ... and instead, start with Christianity 1A:

God is love.
He is not mad at you.
He is not punishing you.
He has never made a mistake in His whole life.
He wants to spend every moment of your day loving you, teaching you, helping you grow-up and to laugh with you, cry with you, to walk with you into the supermarket, steering your cart with you, even.

He wants to take the pressure off of you to change yourself and to, instead, let Him change you and set you free from yourself and heal you. Permanently.

Start there. Take whatever time it requires to immerse yourself in that love, be it weeks or months or even years. And then--only then, when God moves--move onto Page 2. God will be waiting there. In love.




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I've probably mentioned these books before, but I've been enjoying (again) the Grace Chapel Inn books. Check them out here. (They're numbered for you.) Very cozy stuff.


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Oh! And finally (finally!) I read one of Deborah Raney's books. She's been a delightful blogging buddy of mine for years and I finally got it together and ordered Remember to Forget. Gracious. I read it in less than 24 hours, could not put it down and loved it! Check it out here.


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Freely you have received, freely give. But notice, there is no giving without having first received.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Yard Sale Thoughts



We survived our two-day yard sale.

Well, barely. Oh, the humidity!

But we met the sweetest people on the planet, some who even said it had been nice visiting with us. And everybody loved our hydrangea bush. They asked what I did to make it look so blue and gorgeous and I told them, "Nothing. Doing nothing is the key."

You could recognize the people who came because of Naomi's Buffalo's Craig's List ad (complete with pictures of all her vintage stuff). They were young, in sunglasses, they browsed wordlessly, seriously and were dressed simply, with great, classic style (I'm always jealous of people who have that knack). Then there was everyone else--the farm folk, most of them sweet, but a couple were a pain.

I so enjoyed the sweet people. As they walked down the driveway with their treasures I wanted to call out, "Come back soon, ok? I'm thinking you're a kindred spirit." But well, I didn't, of course. Some folks have that knack, too. You know, they can meet someone and become lifelong friends in five minutes. But alas, I am so lacking that gene, that grace. But at least God's made me less shy, more friendly than I used to be.

Yard sales. You can have great fun while you hold one, appreciating the chance to speak with all sorts of interesting people--or--you can sit there and feel embarrassed because so much of what you once bought still remains, unsold, and be annoyed by the whole troublesome task.

This weekend, Tom, Naomi and I chose the former view. And even in all the summer heat, we made memories. We had pleasurable family time.

But still, we each swore we'd never buy another trinket again in our lives. :)



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Attitude, attitude, attitude......

Saturday, August 14, 2010

You're More Anointed Than You Believe

Oh, I so hope you have visited Kim's Daisy Cottage blog. Why? Miracles happen over there. People come away from Daisy Cottage encouraged, hopeful, challenged, dreamy-eyed, nostalgic, healed.

They come away changed.

Now, does Kim preach over there? Does she share complicated biblical truths or deep, psychological lessons? Does she use her blog to force her opinions on others?

Uh, no. Not even. Kim just shares love. She shares herself, her home, her talents and her incredible, colorful ways of decorating. She snaps photos of her friends' imaginative homes and pictures from her everyday life in Florida and people leave her blog with tears in their eyes and encouraged to create peaceful, colorful surroundings for themselves.

There is a powerful, amazing anointing upon people who simply do what God has enabled and called them to do. Kim has that all over her, all over her blog and you can read the results in her right-hand column. That's where she shares snippets of comments she's received from women whose lives are no longer the same since visiting Daisy Cottage.

When we accept what God has called us to do (and where He has called us to do it) we are at His most powerful place. If He has you at home caring for children (yours or other peoples'), then you could race out of the house, instead, and try to become an African missionary, a politician or a pastor, Bible college professor, worship team member or a talk show host--but you'll never experience the amazing results you would have if you'd stayed home with those children and cared for them as God creatively directed.

If God had you at home for that season, well, He made the anointing, the potential for life-changing happenings and joy, possible. It was there because you were there and He was there and Grace was there to accomplish what could never be possible otherwise or anyplace else.

If He's placed you in a specific office or hospital care unit or classroom behind a desk, then it is there where the possibility dwells for Him to change lives because of what He does and speaks through you.

Think I'm exaggerating? Well, go over to Daisy Cottage and read the comments in that right-hand column (scroll down till you find them). Read them closely and hear the familiar cries of gratitude for hope and courage and healing received. You just might come away with some of that for yourself.

You just may begin viewing your own talents in a whole other Light.



(((((((((((((((

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


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"To obey is better than sacrifice."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Little Apartment on the Farm

So. Tom and I, as we did in 2008, are once again living in a one-bedroom apartment.

Sort-of.

See, Naomi and her three cats (and one fish) now dwell in the three rooms upstairs so that means Tom and I are again living in a limited area, rather like our apartment before, except now we have a real dining room, a nice enclosed front porch and a not-so-nice back porch. (You have never seen pictures of that back porch--and until some miracle improvements happen--you never will.) It's ghastly. Just ghastly, and unfortunately it's the first room people step into, hence it's their first impression of our home.

Anyway, are Tom and I grumbling and complaining about our downsized living quarters? Nah. Not at all. Oh, some nights I have a bit of trouble sleeping since I was used to my own room upstairs, but at least down here it's cooler, what with the air-conditioner, my mattress is a zillion times better (after Naomi leaves that mattress is so headed upstairs, believe me) and I can sleep on the couch if Tom's snoring keeps me awake or if mine awakens him.

We have 8 rooms down here including the tiny baking pantry and the ghastly back porch (which really doesn't count) and not counting the wet, spider-draped basement. The front porch is usually an oven, so you can count that only in early mornings and late evenings. So usable rooms? There are basically 5. Small-ish ones.

And that's enough. Especially when you have peace between two people and Grace and God to keep you happy and contented.

It still surprises me how little it requires to stay happy. And how it's not what you have, but rather, what you are and Who you know. Who you know is the most important, when you value His opinion above everyone else's and listen to His ways of thinking first. And mainly. Then all the hype and what-you-must-have propaganda which is constantly blown into our ears doesn't latch on, trying to appear as Truth.

After all, when you have Him, you have everything you really need.


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It's yard sale day down on the farm! Naomi is wanting to sell nearly all her retro collection of vintage clothes and decor so she can live a more nomadic lifestyle, so Tom and I are contributing our clutter, also. For two days the three of us will sit outside and meet nice people and try to sell them things they probably do not need. :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Are You Real? Or Unreal?

The best thing about first going online? For me, it was finding people just like myself.

And ok, that sounds rather self-serving and prideful, but let me explain.

You should have seen me as a teenager. I was shy. I listened to my friends speak and then I'd be afraid to share my vastly-different feelings. I was so unlike my immediate family that, if I didn't greatly resemble my dad, I'd have insisted I was adopted. I read different books than my friends read, loved old black and white movies and classical music when they preferred new movies and new music and walked to school in my own dreamy-eyed world while humming 1950's show tunes.

I was one odd cookie.

But then I got married at 19 and perhaps because I was exhausted from trying to hold onto my uniqueness for years, I just gave-in. I became a lot like Tom and tried to be what our pastor and his wife told me I should be (at one point, they told me to stop writing kind notes and letters to people and just speak those things aloud). I tried to imitate the other young wives in our church so that I would fit in and no longer lose friends because of my different preferences.

And then I wondered why, for the next 16 years, I was often unhappy.

Duh.

But then God began a work of recreating me, of remaking the fake Debra I had invented. And He showed me that all along He'd never aimed to turn me into some generic form of everybody else, but rather, He'd wanted to create something very unique. He desired to shine through me in unusual, even odd and different ways. He loved creativity. Invented it, even.

And how refreshing to just relax, be myself and stop apologizing for--or running from-- my uniqueness.

And then, five years later, God took me to the Land of Online and I was shocked, (yes shocked) to meet lots of other people so very like my real self! Here online, at 40, I found those people who I'd wished had gone to high school with me. If only I'd known all of you way back when, then I'd not have felt like such an odd character on the Stage of Life. I'd have felt comfortable in my own skin, as they say, if I'd been surrounded by such kindred spirits.

But you know? There's that 'all things work together for good' thing which God speaks of and--if my many mistakes helped carry me to this better, more confident place--well, that's not such a tragedy. Now I understand how other insecure people feel. I've felt their pain--and I can help guide them out of it. Or rather, God can, especially now that I am myself, no one else. He can more easily show His empathy through someone real, someone He recreated, from the basement upward, Himself.


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Jeremiah 1:5

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart..."


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Truth will set you free. God can easily do miracles when He finds Himself where truth is rampant.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Suddenlies Are Coming!

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God..."
"And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people, that God had prepared the people: for the thing was done suddenly."
"And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened ..."
Don't you just love those 'suddenly verses'? Suddenly, the sky turned white, suddenly the ground shook, suddenly God rewarded faithfulness. Something was one way for years and years and then poof! Something changed forever. Suddenly.
Of course, we love suddenlies to happen all the time. We want all our problems to suddenly vanish. We want that broken appliance to suddenly start working again. We want cousin Belinda Sue to suddenly start using some wisdom.
Yet most suddenlies come so very, very slowly.
But they do come if we hang in there with belief and hope and courage. If we faithfully do our part. If we don't give-up and become all whiney-complainy miserable.
It's good to remember the times when you woke up and everything suddenly looked brighter--you felt happier than you had in months, but who knows why? Or the appliance was fixed, the loan was paid off or your house was sold. Or maybe your back no longer ached, you and your estranged friend had made-up or you looked down at the scale and saw you were ten pounds lighter.
Suddenly! Everything had changed from the way it was yesterday.
Never stop believing for suddenlies. And never stop patiently, joyfully living in between them.




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Suddenly happens.


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"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." ... Galations 6:9




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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Of Waiting. And Fixing What's Wrong.

So. Our moving plans are on hold.

Tom and I realized that what is bothering us--me, especially--is this huge expanse of lawn and my having to mow it four or five days a week in all this hot, sticky, humid, stifling weather. Tom hadn't been mowing for some weeks because his favorite tractor is in the shop being repaired and his other tractor is rather a pain to use (long story) and playing farmer isn't the thrill it once was. But finally, he began mowing again and I'm feeling more hopeful.

So instead of putting the ol' farm up for sale, we're thinking perhaps next summer we can hire a lawn-mowing service once or twice a month. Already I've made up my mind that I refuse to mow the lawn more than three days a week next summer, for Life is just plain bleak when I mow more often than that. And because we're paring down our stuff and won't be haunting as many estate sales, we should have some extra money for the lawn service.

And no, I do not want to just use a tractor, myself. Do not go there in my message box, ok? :)

Anyway, though we're still seriously considering downsizing and retiring in Oregon, we're just not thinking of doing it, like, tomorrow.

So that's where we are. For now, anyway.

Today's lesson? Learn to identify what it is that's actually bugging you (don't be vague or say, "Life in general."). Then ask yourself, "Is there a way I can fix this?" Then fix it. Or partially fix it. Tweak it. Or seek to happily live with it. Or find another way to deal with it. But do not hurriedly make a rash decision because of stress and frustration and hormonal angst and long hot, sticky summer weather just to ease the pressure. Rash decisions usually lead to worse problems. And regret. And who wants those?



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This article about downsizing totally inspired my socks off yesterday. It confirmed a ton of the ideas flying around my brain lately.


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Frustration is trying to do something you can do nothing about. It's also doing nothing about something you could change.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Regarding Frustration

Having a problem with frustration? Always trying to do something you can't do anything about?

Joyce Meyer's message, Living Without Frustration, will help.

Go here and click on Living Without Frustration, Part One.

Amazing, freeing stuff.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

A Country Weekend

What a countryside weekend!

Tom and I visited Becker Farms and fed baby goats and patted a horse's head and ate ice cream at a picnic bench where I finished reading Just Shy of Harmony (adored that book).

We also went to yard sales, but bought nothing which is wonderful since this next weekend will find us hosting our own yard sale along with Naomi. Oh, I am feeling ruthless! Especially after having watched the hoarding lady for the third time on Oprah. Wow. That show always scares me into a longing for simplicity and space and empty corners and bookshelves with gaps, not tightly crammed with books, upward and sideways.

We picnicked again beside the cemetery where Tom's ggggg-grandfather is buried (how amazing to move to New York from Nevada and find him here!). We walked over to the grave and amongst others, many with people born in the 1700's, and thought our own thoughts and shared some, too.

We attended our local county fair and in the sunshine and breezes we visited more goats and chickens, bunnies, cows, horses and pigs. We spoke with our neighbors at the classic car show and picked our favorite car --a red and white 1957 Corvette. So very Paul Drake-ish (you know, from Perry Mason). We dreamed of owning one someday and zooming along country roads with the hood down and the wind blowing our hair and the bugs sailing into our teeth. heh. With every car show we always agree on the best car. It's uncanny, but sweet.

We sat at an outdoor table with our hamburgers and cherry pie and listened to a mid-50's guy sing quite good country karaoke. I felt teary-eyed sitting there listening, surrounded by other people, and it was one of those times God whispered to me, "Know why you're feeling blessed? That person is doing exactly what I've called him to do. He's using the talent I gave him."

I love it when that happens. It happens often, even here online as I read many of your blogs.

Another weekend to remember. We've had so very many.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Reaping Joy From Saying Yes

My longtime readers will remember the little book cabin in the middle of nowhere (Childs, NY) made from a 1909 voting booth. You know, the place Tom and I drive through the countryside to visit sometimes. Well, actually, he sits in the car and reads the local paper from the shop nextdoor while I peruse the shelves. I'm nearly always the only person inside the silent, dusty cabin.

Anyway, on Monday we drove out there again, first time this year perhaps, and my eyes bulged when I beheld the boxes of un-put-away books upon the floor. I dived into them and found five books for myself, smiling like a Cheshire cat. Then when I stepped to the metal can in which to place my quarters--hardback books are 50 cents--suddenly the Holy Spirit whispered, "Put in $5, instead."

I started to argue, "But that's double of what I owe," and then I stopped. When God tells me to do a thing, I know by now that it's useless to give Him excuses. Or to try to change His mind. So I dropped in the $5 bill, stepped outside of the cabin and felt terrific.

Sounds like such a tiny thing, I realize that. But you know? I don't believe obedience to God is ever a small thing. Obedience always matters, that is, if we want to grow.

It's an awful thing to be stuck in--and because of--disobedience. We too often want what we think we want and that is what trips us up and smack dab into dark ditches of sadness.

God says, "Forgive that person for hurting your feelings," and we tell Him ten reasons why we shouldn't have to do that.

God says, "Leave some of your beliefs behind," and we gasp and say, "But I've always believed those things!"

He tells us to stop nagging our husband and we give him twenty reasons why, if we stop nagging him, he will fall apart--and so will the whole world.

He tells us that, until we do or give-up this one thing, He can take us no deeper in faith, in ministry, in peace of mind, and we think, "You certainly can't be serious, can you?"

All those no's to God add up. They add up to no growth, no change and no happiness.

Today, let's all say yes... and see what happens.


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Here are the books I found at the cabin:


Just Shy of Harmony by Philip Gulley
Family Ties That Bind and Gag by Erma Bombeck
Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton
I Grew Up Little by Patsy Clairmont
And a book about the Southwest for Tom :)

Those first four books are perfect for this time in my life. Just perfect.