Monday, January 31, 2011

Of Investments Not Related to Money



"He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." ... Matthew 10:37


*****


Until I was 35, every time I'd hear that Bible verse in a sermon I'd hang my head in embarrassment right there in the church pew. 

Why? Because I loved everybody more than I (truly) loved God. Oh, I appreciated Him like crazy, but love Him more than even my family? Well, not so much.

And I'll tell ya. Back then I had one rough emotional life. When you love people more than God, you're nearly always disappointed, devastated. lonely or upset. The people in our lives make tons of mistakes, say hurtful things (usually unintentionally), ignore us often when we need them most, they laugh in the wrong places, get offended when we're imperfect and __________ (fill in the blank.)

So I'm thinking that one of the reasons God asks that we love Him most is because it's healthier emotionally, mentally, even physically (since I believe all are connected). For God does not disappoint. He never walks away. He always listens, helps, counsels--even at two in the morning when you wouldn't dare call a friend on her cell phone.

If there's any disappointing and abandoning going on--it is not God doing it. God has never made a mistake and He's not about to make His first one with any of us.

But since 1994 when I fell hopelessly in love with God at age 35? Everything changed. Now I truly do love Him more than anyone, thanks to a work He's done in me and oh, my emotions do thank me! Gone (through process, much time and surrender) are my wild mood swings when the people in my life let me down. 

Gone is my tendency to invest more in people than I can emotionally afford to lose.

Now I can forgive people's imperfections and slights because hey! I still have Jesus. He's still here. He's still perfect, still hanging out with me and I still love Him most.

As long as I have Him, I'll be ok. And oh, the freedom that knowledge (and experience), brings.




******


If I love God most, I'm able to love people better.




*****

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Now Playing On My Brain



So lately Tom discovered a new tv series by way of Netflix, one called Ax Men. Majorly annoying to me who hates strife, coarse language (even with all the bleep!bleep!bleeeeeps!) and men behaving badly. 

Have you seen this show? It follows loggers out to forests where they chop down trees, have many accidents due mostly to rookies (sooo for the sake of the camera, don't tell me otherwise) and yell at each other a lot.

Tom loves it. Sits there and chuckles. Gah. 

Maybe it takes him back to his young man years of working in a lumber mill. His glory years of chopping down trees for our wood stove, the sole source of heat for nine years there in snow country. If that is the case, well, I understand, for perhaps that's why I watch shows with young, brave women (and men) doing heroic feats --perhaps they remind me of my own glory days or even just my grand dreams from back then. 

(Who really understands these things?)

My computer sits 3 1/2 feet away from the tv so often I must wear headphones and listen to the awesome music on Kim's playlist and try to ignore the yelling and bleep-bleeps I can still hear.

Yet sometimes Tom wears his headphones and watches Ax Men on his computer.This revolutionary give-and-take thing we're trying out is pretty cool. :)

Yesterday I even came up with the awesome idea of Mid-Afternoon Office Time. Immediately after we watch our current lunchtime episode of LOST (we're starting over with season 1. I know. I know.), we then have one hour of silence in which Tom does business from his computer and I sit at mine doing my surveys and coupon searches.

It only took us five months to think of such a brilliant thing.



********



We went shopping on Thursday night and I saved $50 with coupons and sales items, spending $70 instead of $120. Many items I've not paid full price for since October. And the other nice thing? I've been stocking up during winter for probably 25 years, but this is the first January I've ever been stocked up so well. And all during this, our season of unemployment.

Life with God is like that. So opposite of what you'd normally think.



*******

And now I'm finally seeing more money from my online survey groups. More surveys from them and more payments, too. And for the ones which allow me to credit my earnings to Pay Pal, I have a terrific plan. I'll use my Pay Pal earnings at VitaCost to buy those lovely krill oil capsules which have returned sleep to me. I found this a better idea than using the amazon.com option.

So if you're doing online surveys for some extra cash or things like Swagbucks--be patient! It does start adding up when you learn some tricks of the trade and allow it all some good old-fashioned Time in which to reap from what you've sown.

Ah. Life is good.




********


Give yourself Time. Give people and God some Time, too. You'll be surprised at what happens eventually.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lessons From A Concert




Besides mowing acres of lawn on sticky, sweltering days, there are few things in Life I truly dislike doing. But there are some other things I, well, hate:

1. Driving/riding on snowy roads.
2. Shopping for groceries after dark.
3. Attending loud concerts in a bar-like atmosphere.

Last night I had to do all three.

Ha!

And God sat watching me closely, I know. Why? Because for years He's worked hard to get me to 'count it all joy.' All. To not count the moments till the awful task is over--no! But rather, to remain pleasant, sweet and kind toward others in the middle of it all.

Real pleasantness--not faked or forced, either.

See, last night Naomi's brand new funk band played at a restaurant. For years she'd dreamed of doing this amazing thing on her birthday, and well, last night her dream came true. And I was happy for her, yes! I always adore beholding anybody's Big Moment.

But oh dear, I do not, generally, like blaring, bass-thumping funk music. Some parts, yes! Other parts, not so much.

Tom and I did bring earplugs, though. They made the sound level just right. :) And the band before Naomi's played classic rock--she knew we'd like that music and we did. And I did enjoy watching people dancing what I thought was 60's style and seeing laughter in their eyes. We shared our nachos with Carl's sweet, sweet brother, Andrew (remember ol' Carl who Naomi dated for 7 years? He moved to NC. We miss him.). Naomi's dearest friend from high school was there and we love her. And I whispered little prayers for all the drinkers and dancers in the room.

So there was much good! But oh my, it's so unlike the real me to attend blaring funk concerts with alcohol flowing like water.

Yet the s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g is valuable. And God always makes certain to place rampant opportunities to remind me to smile and make others comfortable--something I could not do while beneath that dreaded curse of shyness back in my 20's and 30's. He's spent whole decades teaching me that it's not all about me and what I need! But rather, that loving others right where they are is the key to their joy--and mine.

Lots of Christians think God just wants them to appear as good, saintly folk--non-worriers, forgiving, unselfish, uncrabby examples for the world to see and so they'll desire all that for themselves.

But I believe God prefers to go way deeper.

He wants to reach far, far down and pull up the junk that would make us react with worry, selfishness or crabbiness. He's into discovering--and then ripping out--the cause of our hang-ups. What still makes us shy? Or worried? Or stressed-out?

That's the garbage He longs to toss out one piece at a time, flinging it away with our cooperation until what's left is only pure, silent trust. And a giving spirit. Acceptance of others. And most of all, real love that puts others and what they need from us, first.

He's not into appearances, but rather, what is real, like blessed heart-leaping freedom. For everyone.





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

So did anyone watch "I Know Where I'm Going!" after I mentioned it? If so, I'd love to know what you thought.



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"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved." ... John 3:17


"Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me..."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Birthday Reminiscing


So. Today is Naomi's birthday.

And two days ago a young friend of mine had a baby and when she wrote on Facebook that she just wants to get Gage home, I could remember like it was last year how I'd wanted to run from the hospital, too, with my new baby and just start playing house with her.

Except that it was 31 years ago. Thirty one years!

Good gracious. That's how long I've tried slowing down Time because I so wanted to keep a young Naomi around our house forever. But still she grew-up in a flash in the midst of my watching her play, memorizing her, even, at 6 and 9 and 12. Still her childhood was over in what feels like, in my memory, a mere month.

Yet now she's home again, a woman this time, but our daughter still and as I wrote inside her birthday card, Naomi makes our home a nicer place to be. I think she was the missing piece of our farm--we needed our daughter here to share these acres with us. To complete them and our country adventure.

Yes, that must be it because since Naomi's arrival my love/hate relationship with this old farm has ceased. A truce occurred and now love stands by itself. And though sometimes I wish we could have raised a young Naomi here--because of this new peace--I know all is as it should be. We're in the right season at the right time.

And on this 31st birthday of Naomi's, all is well.




***********



Romans 14:19
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rx: If You're Struggling Through Winter...



The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder--those are my winter secret. 

They help me smile through mornings like this one: -8 degrees, snow and ice everywhere and--besides shoveling outside--the mark of my second week without venturing away.

But the Little House books shut me up. They stop my complaints (most) and--as everyone knows--complaining just makes everything worse. 

Oh, there's such a thing as asking for help and stating facts, but complaining about what's not to our liking? That just increases the discomfort.

Besides, how can I complain while Pa sits in a snow cave for three days and here I am in a snug, warm house? How can I complain when there's a convenience store a mile away from me (albeit with expensive food) while the Ingalls, with aching arms, are whirring their coffee grinder with wheat for hours a day and twisting hay out in the cold stable so they'll have sticks to burn for heat? Or when there go Almanzo and Cap risking their lives in between blizzards to an elusive farm where there might be wheat to buy so to save a starving town?

Well, somehow I still manage to complain anyhow. (Pathetic, huh?)

But not nearly as much as I would if I were not rereading those amazing Little House books. So that's why I do it each winter, read the books, I mean. To silence my complaining tongue and therefore shorten--and sweeten-- my own long winters. 

Gratitude makes a much more pleasant winter partner.



******


I'd love to hear which of you also reread these books each year.



******


"Everything was so good. Grasshoppers were gone and next year Pa could harvest the wheat. Tomorrow was Christmas with oyster stew for dinner. There would be no presents and no candy but Laura could not think of anything she wanted and she was so glad that the Christmas candy had helped to bring Pa safe home again."


... From On The Banks of Plum Creek




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

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Just Another Balmy Day Around Here


... and we're due for a high temperature today of only 8 degrees.


Our poor old mailbox tends to drop into the snow below when the snowplow rumbles past. I had to wrap an extra bungee cord around it yesterday (in 12 degrees). In Spring we really should screw the silly thing onto its post.


That red blob is Mr. Cardinal.



We feel good feeding the birds during our cold winters. As though we're doing our part to keep the whole ecosystem balanced. As though we're helping God with them since He knows when a sparrow falls, and everything...






***************
All photos taken from our dining room windows.





Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oh, For Some Good Old-Fashioned Insecurity(?)



I'm gonna run this one again because it returns to me sometimes.


*****

(Originally from 12-24-2008, though tweaked.)


If this post confuses you, never fear. It confuses me, too--and I'm the one writing it!  シ

Years past, I used to decorate my house, like, all the time. I'd rearrange furniture every two weeks. I'd decorate for Christmas, too, get it appearing 'just so' and perfect.

Why? I wanted to keep up--not only with the Jones'--but with the ladies at church. I mean, isn't Life just one big competition where the winner gets all the respect and the wishful stares? Isn't it?

...er...

And I'd clean my house because hey, you never know when anyone might barge in for an inspect--, uh, visit. I'd get all gussied up each day for the same reason. I'd cook great meals to impress our house guests, exercise to impress everyone else and I'd read books so people could see what a good mind I had.

That, folks, is what I call major insecurity. But some people call it Just The Way Things Are.

But now? Now I cannot believe how differently I live. It was nearly fifteen years ago that I gave God permission to turn my life upside-down and change me into someone more like Him.

He took me up on it. 

And most days (not all, ok?) I do what I do simply because He nudges me to do it. I like to call it obedience. I call it receiving grace and pure motive motivation. And I've discovered that I can do just one task which was His idea and it'll accomplish tons more than 30 of my own ideas.

But lately, I don't know. Either He's still giving me a break (because of all I've gone through this past year) or I'm just not hearing Him clearly. I mean, hey. I only mailed out 19 Christmas cards. Only 19! I usually send more than twice that. And my Christmas decor is only a fraction of what it once was. And I --

I just can't seem to overdo anything anymore. I don't run myself into states of exhaustion and I wonder if I'm accomplishing much after all, with this Just Obeying God stuff.

So part of me becomes tempted to ask for some old-fashioned insecurity for the supercharged boost which it gives(!) And for the appearance of good, lasting stuff it conjures and the way it aids in my blending-in with the rest of society, Christian or otherwise.

But the other part of me--the sane part--recognizes the absurdity of that.

So I guess I'll just keep plugging away in the restful, slow (though steady) way which God has for me now. And I'll call it Good, even though others --mostly likely--call it something altogether different.



******

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Of Winter (And Not Complaining About It)



The secret, I'm finding, is to discover Winter's pleasures and rewards rather than complain about the cold, snow and traveling upon ice.

Besides, should I even be complaining about a season that was all God's idea, anyway? Hmmm.... I'm leaning toward probably not. :)

So. Lately I've stopped viewing Winter as The Enemy and I've bundled-up and walked outside rather than staying inside at windows because, hey, it's Winter, after all. But I'm finding that's too in-the-box-thinking for can't I still enjoy our farm acres, their beauty and its nippy, pure-as-it-gets-nowadays air? And the woods, orchard, meadows and silence? Yes, even in Winter, I still can.

And ok, it's seriously cold out there and my Winter walks don't last nearly as long as Autumn ones. But still, I've lived in snow country since I was 17 and that's a whole lot of years to acclimate my body to it, especially when I faithfully venture out to enjoy it rather than hiding inside, un-acclimating my blood in the warmth, wishing Winter away.

Nothing can force me to remain inside all Winter and miss all creation outside--only myself.

A reward of Winter? There's no mowing of the lawn! What celebratory glee that one thought brings.

More rewards? Excuses to read more books, watch more movies and just slow down. Recuperate. Refresh. Renew.

These are things which, oddly, I must re-learn each dark mid-winter for the complaining erases them, gratitude and ingratitude not being able to exist simultaneously. So here I am today, again, relearning and passing along my lessons to you.





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


Need a wonderful, sometimes dramatic, sometimes funny classic old movie to watch? Try I Know Where I'm Going. You can watch it instantly at Netflix and well, I've watched it twice this week, once alone and once with Tom who, immediately afterward said, "We should find another movie like that to watch next." High praise from him. And for Megan Follow's Anne fans, a young Wendy Hiller played the lead in this movie. You'll remember her as the elderly Mrs. Harris in the second Anne movie.

Anyway, I can almost guarantee that any of you classic movie fans will truly enjoy this one. It has, well, everything. Watch it and see what I mean.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Much This, Much That


I think our barn looks pretty in the winter sunlight.



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


So. In my eternal quest for the perfect "my own little corner, my own little chair", I moved our curb-find leather chair to the windows in our dining room beside one of our many patio tables, this one painted red and leaning with stacks of my books. And now I am happy.






I make my coffee and peanut butter toast, announce to Tom that I'm having my quiet time and does he have any questions of me first?, close the pocket doors and sit in the windows with my books and dreams. And gaze out at our barn.

Happy sigh.

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

What I Am Reading (Or Mostly, Re-reading):


Little House In The Big Woods
God Calling
The Gift of a Year
Don't Worry, Make Money
A Window Over The Sink
The Pursuit of God
Mary Jane's Farm, latest issue


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


A weird request: While talking with my mom over the phone this week she mentioned a new tv show that was a lot like American Pickers. The title was a play on words of an old saying (I believe) and I thought, "Oh, I won't need to write that down. I can remember that," (which should be a red warning button, alas). Anyway, can anyone tell me the title? It began in November, I think, and there's a woman host. I believe she buys the contents of houses and then sells them(?)

At least, I think that's what my mom said. :) Any help would be appreciated! I'd like to see if I can watch an episode online.

UPDATE: An extremely special thanks to Robin for identifying the show--it's called Cash and Cari. (See? Such a simple title, but all I could recall was that there was a woman's name in it. Sheesh.) Thank-you, Robin!

Here's a link to a clip of the show.



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


Oh! If you've never before used Amazon.com's Video on Demand you can go here and get a free $5.00 credit (click on the appropriate link). I received one of these with an Amazon.com order recently and immediately used up all my credits on 2nd season episodes of American Pickers, but of course!


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

I am still sadly reeling from the death this week of John Dye, my favorite actor from the tv series, Touched By An Angel. Only 47-years-old! I remember years ago John was one of the actors for whom God asked me to pray for a season. His part as Andrew on the show taught and showed me much about ministry, the power of the right words and compassion and I'll always be grateful to John for the part he played in--not only Touched By An Angel--but in my own transformation. R.I.P. John Dye. I appreciated you and should have tried to let you know.


Oh Readers, do not let those opportunities to share your appreciation fly away! Do that thing which God is nudging you to do while you still can.







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

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pitchers of silver." ... Proverbs 25:11


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

"Never assume anything." ... copied

Friday, January 14, 2011

Of Husbands Set Free



Another reason I'm grateful for this season of unemployment? New growth in compassion. As in, here is yet one more thing which carries me to other worlds--and to you who are also there. Places I'd never ventured before.

As in, The Land Of Having Your Husband Home All The Time.

Heh. A few of you have asked me to write some more about that place and how to keep your sanity there.  ツ

Some of you have mentioned that your newly-freed (retired, unemployed) husbands want you to drop everything, plop! And travel all sorts of places with them, rather it be down the highway, the state or down to the hardware store. And I know... with every, "Aww, Honey, I want you to go with me!" suddenly you recall all those Bible verses about submission and you think, "Ack! If I don't go with him, I'll be in trouble with God."

So you go with him (and go and go) and, because we all know when a woman takes two days off, it takes her two weeks to catch-up, there's this new river of stress running through you. And you're doing laundry at 10 p.m. And you've forgotten what quiet, alone time even feels like.

And you wonder why you ever complained about your pre-retirement/unemployment life because, actually, oh, those days were ordered and downright sweet. In comparison.

Sound familiar? Well, I've been there and even now I'm still finding my way to a new normal. And it's taking time.

But here is what I know for certain:

God makes a way where there is no way. So yes! It's ok to ask Him to show you the ways to live in this new place happily.

Communication and compromise? Vital. Sit with your husband and ask for his input--which days of the week will he most likely want to go places with you? When are the tv shows on that he likes to you to watch together? When will he want to go on vacation?

Maybe even come to the table with a written list of all you must do in a week. From there, try to come up with some sort of a chart in which both of you get what you want. Time together, time apart. Time for fun, time for chores. Time for his hobbies, time for yours.

Men, generally, enjoy figuring-out problems, finding solutions, especially when you're dealing with math-like, time-table solvable problems. It will make it easier for them to see and understand that Life is not going to run smoothly if you, the homemaker, are gone all the time and have no time for the house or yourself. If your chart-making is going especially well, maybe you could sign him up for a couple new chores(!)

Another idea--find some hobbies for your husband if he doesn't have any. (Many men just don't know who they are or what they like and they need a little shove, uh, help.) Find friends for him, also, if you can. Guys who will get him out of the house so you can be happy with some time alone while he's out being happy with guys who have similar interests and ways of thinking.

Of course, this is just a blog post and not a book, so I'll end it here, hoping I've given those of you who've asked for help a couple starting points. Tom and I have been together nearly 24/7 for over four months now and hey! We're still speaking and we haven't killed each other. We're talking real progress here. :)

May you find even greater progress with your guy-at-home, and above all, lose the guilt! 

In no way did God ever create submission to your husband as a means of abandonment of you, the amazing person God spent all these years re-creating.



******

Thursday, January 13, 2011

To Be Always Learning



"People who do nothing more than wait for an opportunity won't be able to capitalize on one when it does appear." -John Maxwell

*****

I spied that quote on Facebook this morning and oh, the confirmation! 

I mean, on these wintry days Tom and I are home, like, all the time and yet we're trying to educate ourselves daily by way of the computer (mostly). Tom's latest goals are to learn more about the stock market and pay closer attention to groups like Motley Fool who's offered him advice for years.

And then there's me just feet away over at my clunky old laptop trying to save and earn money. You know, so I won't have to go out and work in the big, bad world (heh). I'm printing out cents-off coupons and doing online surveys until I'm cross-eyed. 

Remember Opinion Outpost which I mentioned here? Well, I just sent for my third check--I've earned $64 from them so far, and so, ok, we're not talking untold fortunes here, but those $20 bills do come in handy.

On Tuesday I realized soup and bean dishes were appearing an awful lot for dinner lately so we drove to the supermarket where I saved $20 in coupons and $16 by purchasing sale items, not to mention the $3 from the refund offer I'll receive by buying a box of crackers.

Then on our way home Tom and I stopped at our own little Rite Aid and I paid $7.10 for what would have been $30 if I'd not used coupons and bought items on sale.

Of course, if we'd eat less, we'd spend less money, also.  ツ

But the main thing is that I'm still viewing this as an adventure rather than a scary unemployment season burden. I refuse to allow myself to even go there and technically there's not even such a thing as an unemployment season, anyway! No, always we should be employed doing good, fruitful things for ourselves and mankind.

Oh, we all are so not helpless! It's only inside our heads where we give-up, become non-creative and panicky, negative and paralyzed.

And may I never, as John Maxwell hinted, just loll around and wait for opportunities to fall from the sky, hit me on the head and then expect that somehow I'll know what to do with them. Instead, may I remain proactive and prepare now for a future I can't even seen from here--yet.





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I've joined other online survey sites, but I've found Opinion Outpost to be the best so far. 

If you'd like to sign-up, you can help me earn $2 if you send me your email address so I can have an invitation sent to you. I'll receive the $2 after you've completed your first survey.  (GladOne4@yahoo.com is my email address or you can leave yours inside my comment box.)

Last Friday I joined Swagbucks, a different sort of group, and it looks like a good way of earning amazon.com gift cards if I just keep, patiently, plugging away at it day by day. (If you sign up on a Friday you'll be awarded 30 points.)



********


Some favorite sites for grocery coupons:

Red Plum

Smart Source

Coupons.com

Coupon Cabin

Saving Naturally

Coupon Dad

Money Saving Mom

The Krazy Coupon Lady


(Because I've signed up with the last four at Facebook, I've been alerted to coupons which came-and-went quickly and, otherwise, I would have missed them. As I've stated repeatedly, I love Facebook!)




*****

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More Than Conquerors?



"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." ... Romans 8:37


*****

At times, we Christians are, well, funny.

I mean, we hear verses like the one above in sermons at church and with all our fellow churchgoers we agree boldly, "Yes! I want to be that kind of a conqueror. Woo hoo! More than a conqueror, that's me."

But then we arrive home, the frustrations start and so does our whining, uh, praying, "Oh Lord! Please take away all these battles of mine."

Heh. It's like, "Make me a mighty conqueror, Lord! Just don't give me anything hard to conquer."

In lots of Bible passages Jesus (and Paul) warned us that these far-off future days were going to be rough. Lots of people would struggle through them, have heart attacks, even, because of their severity (as a child, I'd picture men having heart attacks while reading bad news in newspapers). The sky would do all sorts of unusual things, the Earth would shake wildly, people would be cruel and the love of many would grow downright cold.

And that's just part of it.

And today I'm saying that there are basically two ways to live nowadays. Either in fear and dread and full of complaining--or--with a spirit of excitement and a deep desire to overcome each challenge thrown at us.

And personally? I'm excited to be alive in 2011. Oh, I used to wish I'd been born back in the 1920's when the Times (and homes, clothes, art and decor) were different, but I feel all wrong when I wish that now, for it's like saying God made a mistake when He whooshed me down to this planet in 1959. After all, He certainly knows best and His timing, always, is perfect.

And if God doesn't know what He's doing, well, nobody does.

But now I'm thrilled to be present during these days of great birthing pains of a whole other Life. God meant me (and you) to be here during these hard, painful times of contractions which will, eventually, birth something different than what we've all known. Something God planned eons ago and is, most likely, excited for us to experience.

And yet part of me also believes He's wanting to watch His conquerors stand firm, bravely and with valor during these challenging, battle-filled years ahead. And only through Him can we do just that, one daily battle at a time.




********


Conquering any difficulty always gives one a secret joy, for it means pushing back a boundary-line and adding to one's liberty.”
... Henri Frederic Amiel


(Oh wow, how I love that quotation!)




*****






"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." ... 2 Timothy 3:1-5




*******

The above photo: Well, I took this photo last year, but that's what it looks like around here again. One of my battles for today? Not to complain about the snow!  ツ




*****

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ways Today Affects Tomorrow



Something Tom and I enjoyed about the series, Heroes, was the way the characters kept discovering that everything is connected.

What happened months ago affected what happened today. A choice any character made affected other characters and the future of the world, even.

And that reminded me of how, while God taught me not to sweat the small stuff, He also taught me not to fear the big stuff like unemployment and where that could take us future-wise. On Tom's long stretches of days-off, God worked hard to teach me acceptance of Tom's constant presence and how to receive Grace for that--not easy for me, a major loner. (Truthfully, those reminder lessons are coming hot and heavy again lately.) ツ

And in the 1980's and 90's when I was super into couponing, refunding, cooking from scratch and living simply and inexpensively, God knew all that experience would enable me to slip easily back into that lifestyle now, in 2011, when it's a real necessity.

Because Tom and I practiced for years obeying God in small areas we were then ready, willing, to move out here to this farm when God said move now. Living out here at this time makes an incredible difference in how we feel and I cringe to think how trapped, claustrophobic I'd be if we were still s-q-u-e-e-z-e-d between those two houses in the suburbs, without a job, without a way to buy a different house (loan companies not being real compassionate about handing over money to unemployed people for new houses. Alas.).

Instead, we have acres to roam and views of woods from our windows (instead of brick walls and fluorescent blue siding)and endless places to grow our own food, a fruit orchard and an "apartment' upstairs just right for Naomi and covered parking for her, too. And to think that He gave us two whole years on this land in which to make changes and to buy necessary items from yard sales for our new country life, well, that reminds me His timing is perfect.

The connections are endless, I think. The ripples of lessons and obedience and test-taking and re-taking spread out wide, even possibly affecting a future on Earth after we have gone and very much affecting our life in Heaven.

At least, that's what I believe.

Not one of God's simple daily lessons is insignificant. I constantly remind myself-- learn your lessons well today, for Today's small teachings around the house, job and neighborhood always matter far more than we believe they do.



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"Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you." ... Deuteronomy 8: 2,5




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"Despise not the day of small beginnings..." ... Zechariah 4:10



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Sunday, January 09, 2011

Oh, Our Sorry Words



"The power of Life and Death are in the tongue." ... Proverbs 18:21

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Many of us are still reeling from what happened in Tucson, Arizona yesterday, the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, her staff and other innocent people. 

Chalk-up another horrible day of history for our Country--the ugly list continues growing.

I've told you before that I am a reader of message boards and well, yesterday they were far bloodier than usual. Oh, the ravaging flames directed toward Sarah Palin and her Tea Party groups!

And even though I'm no huge fan of Ms. Palin nor Tea Party Politics I was tempted, at first, to defend them, to insist they had nothing to do with the mentally disturbed young man who killed/wounded all those people. But the more I read that Gabrielle Giffords was one of the politicians put into the crosshairs of that Tea Party chart, well, I am horrified.

All the Tea Party gun rhetoric of past months! I'd not paid much attention (again, not being a fan and only respecting their right to gather and speak their minds), but snips and pieces come to mind (I recall the "Reload!" thing made me gasp!) and now return in print to haunt us all. And everyone is paying a price --the battle in our Nation is again raging and the smoke is heavy over our land.

Our words--oh, they are powerful. 

And although I'm not saying that the gun rhetoric of the Tea Party even nudged this confused man to shoot into that crowd, I am saying that all the gun-speak has taken a serious toll and backfired and returned to haunt, vilify and condemn much of the Republican Party.

No man can tame the tongue--only God can. And I believe He works with us and works with us to yank out the ugliness which causes us to speak foolish, hateful words and ones of separation. For it goes deeper than just teaching the tongue to keep quiet. What God wants is to remove the sin which sets our tongues aflame, to speaking unedifying, damaging words in the first place.

And today that's what I'm asking God to do in me--a deeper cleansing work.

And now, because of what has happened in our Country, I believe a responsibility lies upon us as Christians to speak with twice as much compassion and wisdom as before. No, we cannot make up for this latest tragedy, but we can use our tongues to aid in healing our Country through the power of the words only God can give us.

Not our words, but His. Not our (political, emotional, selfish) will, but His, be done.




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Matthew 12:37 ... "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”


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Originally I used a Huffington Post article for the Tea Party chart, but that added some unforeseen problems, so I switched to the TCM article which I feel is a better representation anyway.



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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Sorting Through Life's Accumulations


Really, we don't lose much in this life. The important things can never be thrown away, dropped, lost.

Tom and I didn't take many home movies of a young Naomi and only a sane amount of photos. I think just one video has survived and photos of Naomi are scattered, some in frames around the house, others stored in albums in boxes.

But you know? That's ok, because the sweetest Naomi times are stored safely up here, inside my memory, where I can pull them out anytime I wish.

And I've lost some friends throughout my long decades, some through death, others through indifference or distance. Yet that's all right, for the best times we shared wait for me up there, too--inside my memory.

Oh, the favorite dishes and figurines I've accidentally broken, the books I've loaned and lost! But the best ones I can still see, recall, anytime, anyplace, right here in my memory.

The times when Life felt so magical that I nearly burst--all here, still. At least, those memories yet remarkable enough to rise to the top. The surviving memories, I reason, must be the most important ones, after all.

You know all those hoarder tv shows? Well, I wish I could convince those sad, dear people of this: What's most valuable in this life are only those things we fly away with when we die. And it's those things, those memories, which no one can ever snatch away; we cannot break them or lose them by fire or flood--not permanently, forever-- nor can we really even grasp them inside our hands.

All we can take to Heaven are our memories (the lost ones having been restored), the people we love, and who we've become in Him, none of which we can store in boxes, closets or even display upon shelves in this prequel sort of life.



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"When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly, "What are days of auld lang syne, Pa?"
'They are the days of a long time ago, Laura,' Pa said. 'Go to sleep, now.'
But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa's fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods,…
She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago."

Laura Ingalls Wilder,

Little House in the Big Woods



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"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

... William Morris



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Friday, January 07, 2011

Phooey On Those Ol' Negative Assumptions


One night a couple years ago Tom was working the night-shift and so I plopped down on the couch and flicked on the tv. The show, Heroes, appeared and, never having watched it before, I gave it a whole five minutes before I decided:

Heroes is too confusing.
I can't figure out what's going on.
It's kinda boring.
It's probably not worth watching.

So I grabbed the tv remote and changed the channel and, because of my lightning-quick assumptions, never watched Heroes again.

Until a couple weeks ago, that is. As I told you, Tom and I so enjoyed The X-Files that we hated to totally let go of that fantasy genre of tv series when we finished X-Files everything. But I kept thinking, "Man! There just cannot be another series on the Netflix instant view list that we'll love nearly as much as The X-Files or the two Stargate series, either."

After all, everyone knows (and says) they just don't make good tv shows anymore.

And so when Tom suggested we give Heroes a try, I, with great doubt and pessimism, told him, "Ok. Might as well. But (groan) it will probably be stupid. And nowhere near as great as X-Files."

Oh. My. Goodness. Will I never learn to stop making assumptions? (Sometimes I wonder.) I still can't believe this, but I loved Heroes even more than The X-Files, Stargate Atlantis and nearly as much as Stargate SG-1. Wow. What a suspenseful, mind-bending, keep-you-guessing, teach-you-some-things-as-well, fun show.

And throughout each season of Heroes I kept lecturing myself about how I should never, ever make snap judgments. I promised I would never again assume anything about anything, including people or what they do.

Then yesterday as the Heroes series finale show faded from the screen I thought, with sadness, "It's over! It's all over. And Tom and I can't possibly find another such awesome Netflix show to replace it."

Good grief.

Looks like another New Year's resolution is going on the ol' list: "Ask God to, whatever it takes, free you from the bondage of negative assumptions."

Wow, wouldn't it be awesome to be freed from those?!




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Disclaimer: Let me add, though, that I had to close my eyes through lots of the violence on Heroes. There wasn't much 'language' and almost no sex. If you can't handle violence, even with your eyes closed, then you probably won't like Heroes. (But of course, I could just be making another assumption! ...heh...)



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How much larger could my life have been if I'd not always assumed, "I can't do that. I wouldn't like her. I'm not meant to go there."?