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 are 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, laugh in the wrong places, get offended when we're not perfect and __________ (fill in the blank. You know I could go on and on).

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. It's something inside our head or heart accusing Him or just plain misunderstanding what He's done. 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 after I finally "gave Him the steering wheel" 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 is still here. He is still perfect. He's still hanging out with me and I still love Him most.

As long as I have Him, I'll be ok.

In this new Life, there is tremendous peace and stability. And as I said, my emotions thank me.




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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 has always hated 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 attempt to 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 --maybe 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.


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So, as usual in wintertime, I'm trying to go supermarket shopping only once every three weeks. It helps that Naomi's here this winter and she picks up the occasional food item if I run out, usually the organic version since she believes she's killing us otherwise. heh. But during this unemployment season I've put organic on hold unless I find killer coupons, and too, Naomi doesn't charge us for those occasional groceries (and surprise organic treats) as that's a way to help pay for her rent, as are shoveling snow, running vegetable and fruit clippings to the compost heap outside and taking the trash to the curb. All which are greatly appreciated by me.

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Speaking of the supermarket, when I went on Thursday night 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.

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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.




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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.





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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.




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

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Of Battles and Peace Won

"Fight the good fight of faith..."

*****

I think that's why I like watching LOST and Heroes type of shows. There's just something about seeing men, especially, fighting against tyranny and depraved murderers so to rescue trapped people and whisk them to freedom. There's just something about that kind of Old Testament bravery, there's like this bright gleam upon the faces of men who know their purpose and --rather than crawling away from it--go racing toward it as though splashing into a sea of light. Or something.

And then last week while Tom and I watched the final episodes of LOST, I thought, "I wish I had an important purpose, one I could give myself to. Something for which to fight hard and long."

Right away inside me I heard, "Silly, you do!"

And of course I do.

In this fight of faith, always there's something to overcome. There's my tendency to whine about winter and worry about Tom or Naomi driving out over icy roads. There's my concern about my over-50 memory and my oh-so-annoying resistance to exercise (which would aid my memory. Duh.). There's the unemployment thing and trusting, really trusting, that God will keep making everything all right for, like, forever.

And of course there's always someone to help. Good gracious! Always someone out there needs encouraging words to help them realize tomorrow will come and it can be better than today. And that God wants to become their everything and make them stronger, wiser and joy-filled. That He wants to fix us in all the places we're broken.

Always there are battles to fight, battles which I'll discover--when I reach Heaven--had eternal significance. Eternal. Significance.

So oh my, may I never lean back on the couch and whisper, "Let someone else fight. I just want peace." For you know, real peace comes only after the battles have been fought, battles for which God spends an awful long time preparing us--and enables us to win while fighting strong right there beside us.





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“Some people confuse acceptance with apathy, but there's all the difference in the world. Apathy fails to distinguish between what can and what cannot be helped; acceptance makes that distinction. Apathy paralyzes the will-to-action; acceptance frees it by relieving it of impossible burdens.”


... Arthur Gordon



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“Apathy is the glove into which evil slips its hand”


...Bodie Thoene

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 complaining about it all 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? How can I complain when there go Almanzo and Cap to risk their lives, racing 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.



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


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"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...






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All photos taken from our dining room windows.





Friday, January 21, 2011

You Have Not Because You Ask Not

Today I felt caught-up with housework and Life work.**

I barely knew how to handle that feeling.

I even stood awhile in the middle of the living room, all dazed-eyed, but then Tom and I watched more of LOST--lately we've traveled back to missed episodes, so many of them, that all night I dream about those LOST people. I awaken with their faces before me but, drats, I can never recall any of our island adventures. Probably we didn't even have any. Probably we just stand around and talk, for that's pretty much all I ever do in my dreams. (BOR-ing.)

Anyway, this being all caught-up with housework is one rare feeling during these five months of Tom's "temporary retirement." Usually I feel as though our floors are now treadmills, hard to step off because of all the extra work.

See, for all these decades Tom would drive off hi-ho, hi-ho to his job, work hard and then come home where I'd wait on him like a good little wife. He'd arrive home to a neat house, laundry done, tables dusted and then sit in his recliner. I'd carry a plate of dinner to him and a glass of water, milk or juice and turn down his bed, make sure his things were ready to go the next morning, again, after caring for the house all day.

I had my job, he had his. Our jobs were more defined and, well, even.

Well. After Tom got laid-off, there was ol' Debra, (often too busy to get out of her robe or brush her hair, even) still working hard inside the house (or shoveling snow outside) and carrying more plates than ever to Tom at his recliner and bringing him his blanket when he got cold, or various glasses of water when he called for them, not to mention his cell phone or copies of bills or a cough drop, a cat, a flashlight or a pickle.

Clearly, something was wrong with this picture. Especially now that I was bringing home a little bacon, myself, what with all my couponing, refunding, and my eternal online surveys which always require time and occasionally, brains. And especially since, according to Dr. Oz, sitting is the new smoking, and well, Tom had been sitting a lot.

So. Finally, before I keeled over or just continued not doing what God asks of me, personally, Tom and I had some 'little chats'. I explained that--during these days when he's home, like, all the time-- sometimes I will still bring things to his recliner, but other times I'll need him to get them himself. And instead of three meals a day, I will cook two and then he can heat up leftovers for dinner. Or make a peanut butter sandwich (we both are addicted to those).

And sometimes I'll carry his dishes out to the kitchen and place them in the dishwasher--other times I'd like him to do that. Same goes with making his bed, hanging up his robe on the hook or organizing his shelf beside his recliner. Sometimes I'll do it, other times I'll need his help.

Well. Something must be working because hey, as I said, today I experienced the luscious feeling of being caught-up. And our home's harmony is stronger. So never give-up! And never be afraid to ask for what you need. Even if you don't get all of it, you just may get some, and well, some is always better than none.




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**Feeling caught-up and actually being caught-up can be two separate things. :)


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This post was inspired by Sara's post here. She gave form to what were just some vague, wispy, disjointed thoughts and actions around my house and, after reading her post, this one began forming inside my brain. Thanks, Sara.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

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

I'm gonna run this one again because it returns to me sometimes. It still amazes me how my former insecurities came with such energetic boosts to keep me going and going and going......


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(Originally from 12-24-2008)


If this post confuses you, never fear. It confuses me, too--and I'm the one who wrote it! :)

Years and 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 clean myself, too, get all gussied up each day for the same reason. I'd cook great meals to impress our house guests, I'd 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 take all of me... turn my life upside-down and change me into someone more like Him.

He took me up on it. And now, most days (not all, ok?) most days I do what I do simply because He nudges me to do it--and gives me the necessary strength/vision/ideas to do what He's got in mind. I like to call it obedience. I like to 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 way, way, way more than 30 of my own ideas or good deeds.

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. I'm not feeling super-elated-out-of-my-mind about tomorrow (Christmas), but I'm, more than ever, anticipating the day after Christmas, my second favorite day of the year, right behind Valentine's Day.

I just can't seem to overdo anything anymore. I can't seem to run myself into early graves or states of exhaustion like other people I know... and I wonder if I'm accomplishing much after all, with this Just Obeying God stuff.... with this always sailing beneath His wings.

So part of me gets 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 up... and for the way it aids in my blending-in with the rest of society, Christian or otherwise. It's rough, sometimes, being the oddball and standing-out, or rather, standing alone.

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 seems to have 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.





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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.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

LOST Thoughts

Remember when Tom and I lived in that one-bedroom apartment before we moved to this farm? Well, as usual we watched LOST (season 4) one night there and, while the end credits rolled, I told Tom (with a happy sigh), "I'm glad there's such a show as LOST. I love it. What a delight."


And then I skipped LOST for many, many months.


(I'm funny that way. heh.).


Eventually Tom and I saw a sprinkling of season 5 episodes, then a smattering of season 6 and then--finally--this past week through Netflix, we finished the last ten episodes.


Wow. Though some rabid fans groaned about The End, I loved it. Even more so when afterward, still reeling, I read this as-clear-as-it-gets explanation online from one of the writers. Some nifty stuff there.


My favorite characters from the early days of LOST? Jack Shepherd, John Locke and Sayid Jarrah. Why? Because while whole crowds of the survivors spent days, weeks, sitting in the sand, whining about their fate and the work it required just to stay alive--Jack, John and Sayid totally ran with the spirit of adventure. They didn't lounge with the beach wallowers and wish away the whole scary island thing, but rather, their gifts, callings and talents rose to the top and they became brave protectors, healers and warriors. And leaders.


Did the three of them always make right choices? Uh, no. Were they flawed and often afraid? Yes! But still they made choices and took risks rather than just leaning against palm trees, hiding from this life which was thrust upon them, waiting for various monsters to simply wander away. Instead, they, even though afraid, left the safety (and boredom) of camp and faced The Others and varied, assorted dangers.


Sometimes Sawyer was like that. Kate, Hurley and a couple others, too. But their warrior spirits came and went, along with the right motives, as well. There in one adventure, gone in the next. Jack, too, lost his warrior spirit for awhile, but kept it after he saw, really saw, that the island made him into the courageous man he could become no other way.

And John Locke, though often making wrong decisions, never lost his joy of leaping through the woods, setting free the brave spirit trapped inside him for years, trying always to hear what his heart was speaking, though again, his heart wasn't always correct.

Sayid, though not technically a leader, was one of the most amazing, loyal, right-hand men any guy in charge could ever want. Give Sayid a dangerous task and he'd do it--no whining, no turning away and almost no questioning, either. A leader's dream follower.


Lots of people say all the good tv shows disappeared years ago, and well, I disagree. Somehow I seem to always find just the right, inspiring tv program that I need 'at such a time as this.' Most likely that's why I stopped watching LOST back in 2008--perhaps God preferred that I save LOST until now, until this unemployment season when each day requires that I, like Jack, John and Sayid, run boldly, bravely through my own jungles, not wishing them away or cowering in them, nor dreading what could be waiting just beyond the trees. But facing each new adventure courageously.


May we all, with God's wisdom, strength and grace, bravely face what awaits each of us down our own jungle paths.






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Perhaps our current overwhelming problem is meant to free the real, courageous person inside who's been waiting for this opportunity to escape and shine!



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Isaiah 60:1
"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Much This, Much That


I think our barn looks pretty in the winter sunlight.



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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.

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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


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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.



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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!


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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.







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


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"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. :)

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, down 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 little 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.

More than ever, communication and compromise are 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. And 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 some friends for him, too, if you can. Heh. 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 mean for submission to your husband to mean 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

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I saw 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've been offering him advice for years.

And then there's me just feet away over at my clunky old laptop trying to save and earn money. So that I won't have to go out and work in the big, bad world (heh) I'm printing out cents-off coupons like dollar bills 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 finally 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, too. :)

But the main thing is that I'm still keeping it all an adventure rather than viewing this unemployment season as a scary burden. Technically, 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.)



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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 be doing all sorts of unusual things and the Earth would be shaking like crazy and people would be cruel and the love of many would grow downright cold.

And that's just part of it.

And, well, what am I saying today? I think 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 rather 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 here during what feels like 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 quite 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 excited 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.




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“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!)



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"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



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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! ;)

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. Something that 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, for years and years while God taught me not to sweat the small stuff, He was also teaching 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 constantly to teach me acceptance of Tom's constantly being around the house 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. ...heh...)

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. And as I constantly remind myself-- learn your lessons well today, for Today's small lessons around the house, job and neighborhood always matter way, way 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

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Oh, Our Sorry Words

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

*****

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 are coming to mind (I recall the "Reload!" thing made me gasp!) and are now returning 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 and 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 words and words of hatred and separation. For it goes deeper than just teaching the tongue to keep quiet. What God wants is to remove the sin which would set 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 unforseen problems, so I switched to the TCM article which I feel is a better representation anyway.

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 shows on tv? 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 or 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