Monday, February 28, 2011

What I Saw, What I See

So by Saturday I felt the 'Lennon the Cat wound' was near a healing, a closing. Life felt hopeful again and I'd not even had any dreams about Lennon at night (I'd asked God to give me a dream so I'd feel better). Also, I'd told Him that Heaven wouldn't be, well, Heaven for me if Lennon wasn't there when I arrived. Wasn't sure if feeling that way was ok, but there you go...

That was one sad week, let me tell you. But as I said, Saturday arrived and Life felt good again.

And then came Sunday morning!

I awoke around 4:30, decided to get up, checked my email and Facebook, made my hot chocolate, then burrowed into Tom's recliner beneath four heavy, warm blankets and began to watch a Netflix movie.

That's when Tom came cough-cough-coughing into the living room. He's had a flu of some type for days. Sigh.

So I tossed a couple blankets to him on the couch and then switched the movie to the A Man Called Pearl film I told you about yesterday, instead. Immediately I felt inspired to be more creative, to work harder. And I also felt sleepier and sleepier, so I leaned the chair back, turned toward Tom's messy lower bookshelf and drifted away.

Then moments later I slowly, luxuriously awoke, opened my eyes (I thought) and there I saw Lennon staring down at me from the bookshelf with that wise, compassionate look in those golden eyes of his. The look he always gave me while sitting together at the sunny front porch table.

For a slow five seconds I stared at him while thinking, "Doesn't he look contented?" Then I wondered, "Why is Lennon sitting on that shelf? It's usually too crowded with Tom's clutter." And then I realized, "Wait! Lennon can't be there. He's gone."

Then I really awoke, to no Lennon, only the cluttered shelf. But I smiled with gratitude, for I'd 'seen' Lennon and he'd looked fine, happy, healthy again. And I remembered what someone in the vet's office had written in the sympathy card they mailed to us: "Remember that your pet is watching over your family now."

Then I turned back toward the tv while thinking, "Now I know Lennon is waiting for me in Heaven. Everything's going to be ok." And it was ok.

But just a couple moments later at the end of A Man Named Pearl, a young people's choir, out in Pearl's lovely garden, began singing the song I often hum to make my worries flee away:

I've got a feelin', that everything's gonna be all right,

Oh, oh, oh, I've got a feelin' that everything's gonna be all right...


Wow. And then I really felt all right! And I thanked God for making Himself so obvious--in His timing, not mine. For I believe His message was to always first seek Him for comfort rather than His signs and confirmations. And then afterward, if something is still needed, let Him be the one to bring it. Let it be His decision, in His way, in His timing.

Life with God at the center is so very, very good.







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And later in the afternoon? I felt so touched, so blessed to watch these videos from CBN about peoples' life-and-death, Heaven-and-Hell experiences. The Sting of Death and Heaven Can Wait stories (and men) blessed me the most, but all were very moving.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Some Inspiration for You


Need some inspiration to get you through the final few days of this &*^%$ winter?

Well, you'll find it in a documentary called A Man Named Pearl.

If you enjoyed In The Realms of the Unreal or Amargosa, you'll love this. And if you like gardening, topiary and finding-your-passion-while-making-the-most-of-what-you-have films, well, you'll want to see this, too.

A Man Named Pearl is on the instant view list at Netflix and is even Rated G, for goodness sake.

Tom and I watched it at 5:00 a.m. this morning (don't ask) and it was exactly what we needed after yet even more snow fell last night. Alas.



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If you watch A Man Named Pearl, let me know what you think, ok?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kitchen Tales

Some of you will read this first part and think me quite insane.

Whatever. :)

In the Good Old Days, I did all the cooking. All of it. And I preferred it that way for only I (I reasoned) knew best how to keep us healthy, how to shop for cheap groceries and how to clean up the kitchen after creating a meal. Cooking also helped defined who I was as a homemaker--and probably--as a human being, too. (Hey, I'm a homemaker. That's what I do.)

Well, some years ago Tom, at his job, began cooking a wildly popular chicken burrito mix for his co-workers. He'd make it about once a month there in the plant's kitchen. Then he branched out and every three months or so, he'd make the burrito mix at home for the three of us.

At first I minded, but just a tad. I wondered if Tom was actually saying, "I prefer my chicken burritos--you make them all wrong," but soon, I saw that actually, he just enjoyed playing Mexican Cook. And I became ok with that.

Flash forward to this winter: Tom has nearly taken over my kitchen.

Gah!

And well, I didn't go down without a fight, let me tell you. I complained and threatened, especially when he accidentally, over time, broke three or four of our (1940's) jade-ite dishes. And made burritos for himself every night for two weeks straight. And when he asked Naomi to bring home more chicken so he could make more burritos while I was standing right there (let's draw a curtain over what happened then).

Mostly, I felt like I'd lost my kitchen, my territory. (Keep in mind Naomi does her own cooking and is often in there, too). And mostly I felt threatened. I mean, here I was making a variety of low cost, filling meals, saving the day (and our budget), but what did Tom want more? Burritos. Not even chicken burritos, always, but anything you could push around in a pan, sprinkle some cheese over, then wrap up in a tortilla.

Well, finally this week, I just gave up. I'll simply say I've been beaten down into freedom. I mean, hey! It's really rather nice, I'm finding, for me to (after all these yeas) loll around on the couch watching tv (or not watching and just enjoying silence) while Tom slaves in the kitchen then brings me a very pretty burrito on a plate. Kinda downright luxurious, you might say.

And wow. What masterpieces Tom has created! We very often have no chicken left in the house yet my oh my, he's learned to make the meanest, leanest, tastiest vegetable burritos on the planet. I am so not kidding!

He even cleans up the kitchen afterward.

And hey, he enjoys cooking, so who am I to take that away from him? Oh, I did take away the jade-ite plates, placed them all inside a hutch and substituted my yard sale, ten-cents-each white plates, but hey. Things are more peaceful now that way, especially since--anytime Tom wants to make dinner for us--I tell him, "Hey. Knock yourself out."

Life truly is easier when you realize it's who we are that defines us, not always what we do. And also, when you--sometimes--just go with that silly flow.





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Speaking of food, here you'll find some terrific natural and organic food coupon links!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Choosing God's Idea of Simple

Feeling tons better today! As though true healing has begun. Thank-you so much for your prayers. Really.



Way back when we moved to New York from Nevada, we did it God's simple way:

Tom read about a job in New York.
He decided to go for it.
God whispered to me (pretty clearly while in the shower, in fact) that I wasn't to argue about it. I was just to follow Tom--and God-- to New York willingly--and all would be well.
Ten weeks later we arrived and in the 18 years since, we've experienced the most incredible adventure.

Now, that's the way to move, I say!

Of course, this time I could choose the complicated, worldly way. You know, I could scribble long, messy pros-and-cons lists, worry that we'll find a disaster house, be afraid we won't have enough money for the whole ordeal, and make myself crazy wondering, "Are we doing the right thing? What will everybody think? Will we regret this? Can I bear the humidity? Can we sell this old farmhouse in time?". I could spend hours wondering if I'll be able to deal with Naomi living so far away, whether we'll find a safe neighborhood and nearby areas for country drives and fear that our next move won't turn out as magical as this one has.

Or I can, again, choose God's simple way.

As in, I can quietly believe that--as long as we're hearing from Him--everything is going to be just fine.

God will send us someplace lovely. In His chosen place, He'll work out the myriad details and all will be well. That is, as long as Tom and I do things God's way.

How do I know that? Because that's the way I live my life. And that's exactly what happened when we followed God across the United States way back in 1993.

And God is still God, yes, even in 2011.





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The perfect verse! (Thanks, Anne, for reminding me of this one):

Psalm 16:6

"The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
... surely I have a delightful inheritance."




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




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"In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths."
"Do not let your heart be troubled..."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Where She's Unstable In All Her Ways...

If you need cheering-up, do not read this post!




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"A double-minded (wo)man is unstable in all (her) ways." ... James 1:8

Uh-oh. It's official.

I am unstable in all my ways.

Heh.

Days ago I found this website where you can plug in any state to then find hundreds of HUD homes for sale. So yesterday evening I searched through miles and miles of homes in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky and Arizona--all places we've considered moving.

Oh dear, the cheap real estate in Arizona horrified me. Reminded me of my sad, desolate years in the Nevada Desert, what with grey, barren yards and torn-up houses. Where were all the green pastures and 1800's farmhouses and barns that we have in New York?

Still here in New York--that's where they are.

So then I ambled back over to Tennessee, Memphis to be exact and oh. My. Goodness. Memphis appeared even sadder. But of course, not all of Tennessee is Memphis! I get that, and I did find a few nice places, but still, I continued on down to South Carolina and hmmm... The houses there looked neglected, sinking-into-the-dirt dreary there, too. (Can a state look like it's crying?)

Uh-oh. And now I've gone and offended all of you who live in Arizona, Nevada,Tennessee and South Carolina. Great. Sigh.

North Carolina still looks best to me, but Tom insists he needs a garage and well, those are hard to find in NC when you're looking at $40,000 houses. And yet, after watching a new-to-me episode of American Pickers this morning I realize that yes, we do need a garage in which to shove a bunch of collectible junk. You know, for the pickers' side of us.

Earlier this week I found two houses (in Kentucky, maybe? Where the heck was I?) each with two garages even larger than the houses, themselves. Of course, Tom loved those. The houses didn't look like much (one was a log cabin, the polar opposite of my much-loved Blondie and Dagwood-style of house), but hey, those garage monstrosities certainly charmed him.

Maybe we should just stay here. (That's where the 'unstable in all her ways' part comes in.) Maybe we should just take the easy route. You know, settle. Maybe I should spend my energy trying to discover a different way to 'do winter' next year, as in, maybe I should just change my attitude.

Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

Sigh. Don't mind me. I think it's all catching up to me and I've just got a bad case of the "Jobless--HangingWithMyHusband24/7--DaughterPlayingDrumsUpstairs--TelevisionAndRadioConstantlyOn--HusbandHasAHorribleCough--LostMyDearestCat--CarNeedsExpensiveRepairs--GotCabinFeverBad--It'sSnowingAgainAndWillThisDarkWinterNeverEnd? Blues.

Blech.

But we did enjoy the second hour of American Idol last night. :)






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This, too, shall pass. This, too, shall pass. This, too, shall pass...................................................

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Discovering What Helps, What Hinders

I get irked when reading in blogs, "Oh, I'd give anything to be 17 again and free from responsibility. I don't want to be an adult." Or, "I miss my parents," (years afterward), "so badly that I can barely function. If only they were still alive." Or, "I'm 65 and I'll always forever regret not becoming a world-famous ballerina."

You know, longing for impossible stuff, believing they cannot be happy without that one gone-forever thing. To me, that's like shooting yourself in the foot over and over, making it impossible to keep moving forward to something better up the road.

And yet guess what I've been doing? I've been longing for a 'do-over' with Lennon. Aching for a second chance to take him to the vet sooner, to not assume he was just (as usual) drinking more water because of the house's dry winter air. I've stood in front of his favorite chair willing him to mysteriously appear, curled up there, sleeping.

But after Death, there is no do-over.

Oh, I have been so rocked by this, so shaken and slung backward to feelings I'd forgotten it was possible to have. I've told myself, "I don't care. I just don't care about anything, for it hurts to care." I've wanted to quit--to quit just what, I'm not sure--but to quit something. And to not forgive myself, ever, as well.

For oh, the lies that Grief loves to tell us!

Well anyway, now I'm grateful for God's hundreds of tests over the last 17 years, especially. All those lessons! They taught me to stand when I felt like lying down and quitting, to listen to God rather than my pathetic feelings, to allow myself to go down only so low, but no lower and to search for light and joy in the darkest of times.

And also? To change what can still be changed, but to leave what is unchangeable, alone. Like, I may not be able to change the frigid, snow-covered scene outside our windows, but I can stop standing in front of those windows, murmuring complaints about that ice land out there.

I even, yesterday, changed my default city for weather reports over at Yahoo to Mount Airy, instead. (Yes, I really did.) Now, rather than always signing-in and being hit with 10 degrees or 18, I see 53 and 63--and then dream that someday I may experience 63 degrees in February(!)

And I have chosen to begin decluttering and cleaning my house for the day we'll put it up for sale (now there's a project to keep me busy till winter leaves!). And I'm house searching online, enjoying imagining myself within the rooms and yards of the houses I find--and picturing a couple new cats within those rooms, as well. Cats that will help carry away some of this ache within my heart.

Always, God is greater than our pathetic-ness. Always He brings Hope, but by the spoonful or bucketful--that's up to our willingness to receive. At least, that's how I feel about it.





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We are not helpless. If God wants us to change something He will most certainly show us how and enable us to change it.



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"Every increased possession loads us with new weariness." ... John Ruskin


(Thanks, Kim, for sharing that at Facebook this morning!)




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"And David encouraged himself in the Lord..." 1 Samuel 30:6

Monday, February 21, 2011

Morning Gifts

There I was this morning, 5:30 a.m., buried beneath three blankets in Tom's recliner, watching the local news and still feeling horrible about Lennon. Just horrible.

So I shook myself, stood up, stepped here (wrapped in a blanket) to the computer and googled something like, "how to survive the death of a pet," because my oh my, I was needing something to yank me out of this!

And well, I believe I found just the thing. It's a book called Cold Noses At The Pearly Gates by Gary Kurz. Frankly, it sounds perfect so I searched our county's library data base, found it nowhere, so after a trip over to abebooks.com I discovered a copy for just $1. And ordered it, of course.

Then, feeling better, more hopeful already, I decided to stroll over to Netflix where I discovered a new-to-me classic old black-white-movie called The Mating Season in the instant movie section. I began playing it, absolutely enjoyed it, but then, with Thelma Ritter and Gene Tierny, how could it be anything but remarkable?

Well, Time quickly grew short (since morning hours speed twice as fast, you know) so I decided to save The Mating Season to our instant queue, finish it later, and well, you know how when you do that, a few rows of similar movies pops up?

Oh. My. Goodness. That's when I saw it.

No Man of Her Own with Barbara Stanwyck! Do you know how long I've searched for that movie?! No, of course you don't. Well, it's been nearly 30 years. Thirty years!! For that's when I first watched it alone and, ever since then, I've wanted to not only watch it again, but share it with Tom. Yet drats! I could never find it anywhere and oh, all the video store shelves I have searched and library video shelves and online data bases every year or so since 2000. But all I ever found was another old movie by the same name--not the Barbara Stanwyck one.

It's still not even out on dvd (that I can find)**, yet there, over at Netflix, it popped up for sad, sorry-for-myself me. After thirty years of searching. And you know? I have just enough childlike faith to believe God arranged this just for me, for such a time as this, as a tiny part of His making this Lennon tragedy up to me. Just as He promised last week He would.

He's like that, you know, as long as we hang in there and believe.




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**Correction--Nancy R. found a copy. But alas, now that I've watched it 'free-ish' with Tom at Netflix, I am one happy camper. :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A New Plan



Okay. My final cat-centered post. For awhile, anyway.

Today, thank-goodness, the suffocating grief has eased and I feel Hope dripping into my heart, as though through an IV. And oh, the sun is rising in a blue sky--be still my winter-weary heart!

And I have a new plan.

You know that Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song, 'Our House'? The part about two cats in the yard? Well, I need at least two cats in my house for Life to feel right, for the rooms to sing while I wash dishes or windows or iron or sit on the porch and read my books. In fact, back in the suburbs when we had three downstairs cats and three upstairs cats (Naomi's), well, Life felt downright fine. Perfect.

Skittles, Lennon and McCartney--what a trio! Oh, how they seasoned our days, completed and enchanted the most ordinary hours, even making my hundreds of memories of that gang bathed in window sunlight, yes, even what with all those long Buffalo winters.

Now McCartney, alone, is left. Downstairs, anyway.

So. Back to my new plan. At the right time (hopefully, after the Big Move) Tom and I will bring home a pair of cats. Sister and brother, perhaps, the way Lennon and McCartney were. Two cats who will be companions as our pair was, wholly devoted, pals, sleeping partners during winter's cold afternoons and long nights. Not one cat now, one later, then trying to force them to get along. Uh, no.

McCartney won't mind. Naomi's cats sneak down here occasionally and McCartney just rolls her eyes, then turns toward the wall. And when March comes, she will turn 14. Not always will she be with us and then the Lennon-McCartney era will be over.

So-- two new cats! A whole new chapter in the lives of Debra and Tom, who loves the new plan, though I may have to beg him to wait. He's still sitting in front of those SPCA web pages, poking me to turn and see the occasional cat, saying, "Aww, doesn't he look like he needs a good home?" Alas.

And yet upon my list of Things to Do Before We Move are hundreds of tasks and I see no 'breaking in two new cats.' But amidst all the To Do's I do see lots of hope and healing and impending joy, with special thanks to God and to all of you for your prayers and written condolences.

Thank-you for caring enough to share your stories and your concern. They are--you are--deeply appreciated.




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I'm slowly getting here regarding Lennon:

"Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened." ... Dr. Seuss



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"Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you."
Zechariah 9:12

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sad Ponderings

I can't even express how horrible I feel.

Over at Facebook my niece said when her cat passed away last year she went to bed for two days, and well, I am about five minutes away from that. Or I would be, rather, if our bedroom had a tv, for without one, I would just lie there and keep playing the grief and regrets over and over worse than I'm doing already as I go about my daily tasks.

Oh Hindsight, you are cruel.

While driving home from the vet's office yesterday Tom and I discussed how we should wait to get another cat since we plan to move this year and--the more cats one has--the more complicated the move. Yet we get home and within five minutes what is Tom doing online? Staring at cats on the local SPCA webpage.

At least that made me chuckle.

While there, he read that it's not wise to get a cat who looks exactly like the one you lost, otherwise you'll make comparisons, and well, guess what I want to do more than anything? Find a cat who looks amazingly like Lennon, one I spend time with first to see if he has that extra something special. But still, I feel like I'll have to settle for second best for, yes, Lennon was that special.

Well, people say all sorts of varying, opposing things. Some say wait awhile to replace a cat, others encourage you to adopt one right away. So as with much in this Life, we must know ourselves and do as God leads since He custom-designed each of us and knows the cookie cutter approach is downright foolish.

Oh, but this pain is crushing and the 'if onlies' cut deeper still. More than ever I understand why people try so hard to distract their pain, to squash or drown it, to go around rather than through. More than ever, I get that. Yet always, healing only comes for those who go through for, one day, they find themselves stepping out of that doorway in the mountain of grief. But oh, those tunnels can seem eternal.

And sometimes I wonder if there's a special curse upon February--of any month, it seems I can count on this one to bring a tragedy, hence another reason why I must flee Buffalo's dark skies, jagged ice and dirty snow. Thankfully, Lennon's final day was filled with sunny-blue, warm skies as I clasped him against my heart and he gazed out the car window and they remained and comforted me after he was gone. But today the grey is back, the snow and icy winds, too, and well, as I said, I've got to get out of here. Out of February, too.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dear Lennon



Lennon The Cat

March 1st, 1997 -- February 18, 2011



We will always be grateful that Naomi snuck you home from the flea market beneath her jacket, for she carried home to us a good listener, a gentle soul and a sweet, best friend.


We will always miss you, Lennon. You were such a good boy.

Words Fitly Spoken

Yesterday our home felt like a funeral parlor.

Lennon the Cat barely ate anything and we all know that's the sign that his life will need to be soon ceased. He spent most of the day upon the blanket on Tom's lap and I kept pausing, kneeling in front of him, tears in my eyes, whispering how he was the best cat ever and oh, how much I love him.

And Tom, he's taking this harder than even I am. Naomi's grieving, too.

I kept wanting to shake this nightmare from my heavy head, to awake and think, "Oh good! It was just a dream." But when something is real you are awake already. Real is, well, real after all.

So the heaviness in the walls, even, was palpable, and Tom watched Ice Road Truckers all afternoon which drove me to my headphones and the music at Daisy Cottage. And then it happened. While Moon River played (a song which makes me cry even on good days) and I wiped away more tears, reminding myself to breathe, I heard God whisper to me from the center of my sorrow:

"Debra, I will make this up to you. I promise."

Oh, when you hear from God! I saw a tiny glimpse of Heaven and remembered His biblical words about Heaven being better than our minds can imagine. But then I knew He meant here on Earth, also. Someday, somehow He'll make Lennon's impending departure up to me. There are good, good things ahead for me. Future delights. Giddy surprises. Joy returned.

And with His words, the heaviness of my spirit lifted--I haven't felt the same since that remarkable thing. Oh, there's still sadness that after today or tomorrow Lennon will be gone, but He lifted me above the sorrow--no longer am I flailing, drowning beneath it. The God of Hope lifted my head and I'll rely upon Him to keep me up here in the difficult days ahead.

There truly is no one like Him.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Starting Point Revealed

So.

Yesterday we played around with moving to Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Again. You may remember that three years ago I mentioned that town, though mostly just for fun since always I knew Tom would never walk away from his job here. But now that that ship has sailed, well, Mt. Airy is more a possibility than ever, especially once Tom peeked at their taxes.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Honestly, there is no comparison between NC's taxes and ours. None. Nada. Zip. No wonder everybody and his Aunt Frieda has moved down there from Buffalo! We've always known we could never retire here because of that bad t-word no matter how much we loved this area--our taxes are insane (but yes, God has always provided the money for them).

Why consider Mt. Airy again this time (besides the small-town feeling it conjures and the whole Andy Griffith connection)? Well, Naomi is thinking Nashville, TN. She has a dear, newly-married, very musical friend who recently moved there and loves it. For months, her friend has begged Naomi to come and visit and now she's considering doing just that in March. Naomi's spoken of moving there for some time.

So, Mt. Airy being a mere 415 miles away from Nashville, well, it's a viable option, that is, if I can talk Tom into 'retiring' (as in, switching his whole way of thinking around. I'll let you know how that goes). And so are other towns in NC, Tennessee and Kentucky within that same radius, towns which I've begun checking into their real estate online. Don't you just love the Internet for that sort of thing?

So we shall see what we shall see. Here is our starting point, anyway. It's all a bit easier on the brain than considering an elusive 15, or so, other states. And thankfully, this is a type of search the adventurous, gypsy-blooded side of ourselves has always, always enjoyed.

And thank-goodness all Tom and I must do is hear where God wants us to live--and 'simply' move there. He will then take care of all the myriad details of moving, including enabling us to bear the summer humidity and handle any winter weather once we arrive at His chosen place. No way will God send us to an impossible, miserable area. Only Tom and--I without God's leading--could end up in a place we'd regret.




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And again, I must thank each of you who have offered such specific, helpful suggestions! Even you, Rodney, for your suggestion of Perth, Australia. heh. Such a delightful way to begin my morning, all the giggling I did at your comment! :)

Thanks again, Everyone...



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Here's a nice website for Mount Airy.


And check out this HUD house there! (Look to the right for other great deals.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Grace Out of the Closet

Truly, I appreciate all of your comments from yesterday. And please keep the you-could-move-here recommendations coming! We'll be checking-out each one. Seriously.

How good it feels to follow Grace around again. I think for a couple months she hid in a closet, probably wondered if I'd ever find her. It's funny how you can try to beef-up your obedience and listening to God, but still feel unsure, blind and groping. But then in one day, suddenly! You know what you were supposed to know. And now hope, purpose and adventure have replaced the questions--and the boredom. Gee, how God and I hate boredom!

After all these 18 Buffalo winters I finally understand the 'snowbirds'--those older folks who escape to Florida or Arizona every December. And those who just plain move away, period, because they're sick of the ice, the danger and never really feeling warm for four months. I get it--oh, how I get it.

In the car coming home from the vet yesterday I asked myself, "Why do we put ourselves through this? Why, especially now that Tom is not tied down to a job, are we hanging around for yet one more dreadfully long, cold Buffalo winter when we could, at this moment, be experiencing what Julie from Texas, later wrote:


"... but right now, I have just trimmed my rose bushes, hung out my spider plants on my sunny 70 degree porch and everyone is wearing shorts and t-shirts again. Most everything is still green, people are "mowing" their lawns and this temperateness is common Winter weather here."

Why, now that we are free and over 50 are we still stuck in the ice instead of experiencing what Julie and others see at this moment? Especially Tom with his polio'd leg and my tendency to worry about him on ice? Good grief.

We must be masochists, or something. heh.

So. There is no turning back. There will be no blog posts--I promise you--where I say, "Nah, we changed our minds. We'll just stay settled here." (If I do, well, you have my permission to just shoot me.) :)

No, it's time to move on--there'll be no second rate settling. It's time for a whole new season. God is using our extreme weariness of 18 hard winters to lead us out of here, for such a time as this, and so we will follow Him and Grace. And the adventure, though tiresome most likely, will be awesome.





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Julie of Texas--thanks so much for that link! The house was perfect and oh wow--since the 1980's I've wanted a cabin in my yard to restore. I'm so not kidding!

And to anyone else--feel free to leave specific links to houses. You don't know how much I love reading real estate listings! In fact, lots of my readers do, also.




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"In the same way, you and I should be joyfully anticipating the promises of God being fulfilled in our lives. At the right time—His time—He will move suddenly and things will change. We'll see and experience the things He has spoken to us in our spirit become a reality." ... Joyce Meyer

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Bad Side of My Valentine's Day

Uh-oh. If you're having a lovely Valentine's Day and don't want it to be spoiled, please scroll down and read my earlier post. Then return tomorrow to read this one.

In other words, Bad News/Bad Mood Alert!

Previously, Valentine's Day of 2005 was the worst one on record for me. That was the day we discovered that our cat, Skittles, was terminally ill. One week later, she was gone.

Well, six years later, this day feels even worse. The vet told us that Lennon is in renal failure, and most likely, won't last much longer. He'll need those water-like treatments which, fortunately, Naomi can help with since she's had experience with her cat, Oreo.

So there's that. Lennon's home now, but I can barely look at him without crying. For no charge, the vet gave us new syringes, new insulin, a few cans of the new cat food Lennon must eat and didn't charge anything for the extra two nights' stay. We even have a $1.08 credit.

But still.

And then on the way home amidst all the grey clouds and grey everything else and 50 mph winds and dirty snow along the road, I told Tom, "I've had it. I cannot take another Buffalo winter. I just can't. Let's move to Kentucky or someplace where snow is rare and real estate is cheap. Sell our house and buy a cabin in the woods, or something."

Yes, I said that. And meant it.

Doesn't help that on Saturday I broke a piece of a back tooth. And I don't currently have dental insurance (but at least a simple filling costs way, way less than just one month's insurance payment would).

And it only goes downhill from there.

So! With the way I/we feel at this moment, I am soooo open to suggestions of where we should move! (Some of you have wished I lived nextdoor so hey! If you don't live in snow country........)

We're thinking some southern state where we could get a beat-up old house on an acre or less for $65,000. (Don't laugh, there are still lots of deals like that here in NY.) Right now, I don't even care what the house looks like. Some area where, if it snows, it's either rare or only a couple inches fall now and again. Someplace where you can take walks during the winter without risking losing a toe (from the cold). And someplace free of tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes.

And yes, I am in a bad mood, but! 1.) I went into this winter a little afraid, wondered if I could survive it, so it's not like I haven't imagined moving, 2.) Tom has toyed with the idea of moving from snow country since, like, he first arrived here in a Buffalo blizzard back in '93 and 3.) Now's a good time to leave since Tom's without a job anyway and 4.) Naomi, too, is longing to 'get out of Dodge', more than ever.

So suggest away! And too, I'd appreciate any prayers, for this is a rough time for all of us. The good thing, though, is that I'm beginning to feel some new life blood flowing through my veins--and with the way I've felt the past two weeks (months?), especially--it's a very welcome feeling. I'm thinking this openness to moving is what God's been after all along, for really, something just hasn't felt quite right.

But it feels right now... That elusive divine discontent is falling away and being replaced by much hopeful anticipation.

Of Valentines and Walking Out of Ruts


Happy Valentine's Day to all my special readers! A day of friendship celebrated--that's how I view this day. I mailed away 12 Valentines this year, have received one so far and you know? Truly I'm happiest knowing I made 12 people smile outside of their mailbox. The amount of Valentines I receive is not what matters most. Honest, that's how I'm feeling.

The middle of February! Always I must shift gears now or else, well, I struggle and flounder. At this point of the season I force my mind to dwell not on all that snow out there or our frozen driveway or the 40 mph winds crashing against our house this morning or how I've not seen our lawn since early December.

No, I must retrain my brain to begin garden plans. Oh, all those seed, soil and mulching details! All those green, blue and yellow afternoons ahead of sitting beside my flower beds with springtime sunshine warming my back and the countryside silence lulling me to dreamy memories and yearnings.

Now is the time for new books, too, not the ones I have memorized and know exactly what the end will bring. I need books with new turns and surprise destinations. And new conversations would be welcome--talks with people who enjoy sharing ideas which tickle my brain rather than plain ol' talk about the weather, the pastor, the kids, the way milk went up 20 cents.

Now is the time to prepare for the newness of Life which pauses just up the road a bit in that gleaming sunlight, inching toward me closer and more quickly than a week ago. That slant of light also known as Springtime.

Spring is tip-toeing nearer, you know. Already the air has changed, the light arises earlier and hangs around later. I hope you've noticed even the tiniest of encouraging details--they welcome an early springtime of the heart, stretching the season for a few early weeks.




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"Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush." ~Doug Larson

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Still Away From Home

Lennon the Cat must spend two more nights at the vet's office.

Gah. He's still too up and down in his glucose levels (and all that). Over the phone Tom told the doctor that he's unemployed and not sure if we could handle paying for two more nights, but the vet said he didn't think there would be an extra charge.

But whatever, the hardest part is that I'm wondering if Lennon thinks we've abandoned him. Oh dear, we've never left him anywhere and he is intelligent! His vocabulary of words understood is quite high and we have babied him and he gives back to us, oh he does.

Three times I've called out during nightmares and Lennon (and McCartney twice) began meowing, or rather, yowling, releasing me from those scary scenes. The first time I held Lennon the Kitten, he snuggled against me and silently studied my face, my eyes, like no other kitten I'd held before. And as a young cat he saw me cry and then came and stood with paws on the couch's edge, staring as if to ask, "What's wrong?"

I sat on our front porch today for the first time this year, winter sun upon my back, but oh, I missed my porch buddy. There was no soft white cat sitting upon the table, inches from my face, all squinty-eyed with pleasure, asking, "Isn't this warm sunlight amazing?"

No, in the big windows I sat alone.

Oh, the way these pets of ours take up so much room inside our hearts!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Running Toward Faith--And Away From Worry



So for a few days Lennon The Cat looked a bit depressed--hanging his head, sad-eyed, sleeping a lot. I promised him that as soon as the weather warmed I'd take him to the vet, but well, yesterday he looked, uhm, just pathetic, and Tom said we should drive Lennon to the doctor right away if we could get an appointment.

Thank-goodness we could and did. On the last of our 16 degree days, I wrapped Lennon in a warm towel and hugged him beside Tom while he drove and ten miles later the vet took a blood test and determined Lennon was only minutes away from seizuring, what with a glucose level of 28 when it should be around 300. Good gracious. In all the years Lennon's been diabetic he's never even come close to nosediving like that. Always, he's been a glowing, white-and-tan healthy (though diabetic) cat.

So we had to leave Lennon there. For two nights. And many hundreds of dollars later I stood at the reception desk writing out a huge check, dazed, not wanting to talk to anyone, feeling horrid for Lennon who wants only to be home, thankful Tom was beside me doing the necessary speaking to the woman taking our money.

Of course, on the way home I became business-like, all, "Okay, right this minute we need to decide where to cut back even farther on our expenses so to make up for this huge expense." But simultaneously I told Tom that God will take care of this somehow because what else could we do? (We'd never needed pet insurance before this.)

And when we arrived home I stared at our monthly expenses list for a long time, crossing off our last newspaper subscription (we agreed to do this) and making notes to turn the heat on later in the mornings, spend less on food and -- well, you know.

The rubber was hitting the road (as they say) and then I paused. It's one thing to talk about real faith or blog about it, but either I can rest in the fact that God will handle this huge bill--or I can't. Either I trust Him--or I don't.

So I relaxed. Closed away my list and my worry, lectured my cranky emotions and reminded myself, "If I do my part, God will do His."

He will, you know. After all, He is in charge here. He is our main provider still standing when all the dust settles.

And all will be well.



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If you believe in praying for cats, Lennon, Tom and I would appreciate your prayers for the sweet guy. For nearly 14 years he's been our smart, inspirational little buddy.


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This morning McCartney sat on the bathroom hamper, meowing. She never does that. It was as though she was calling for her big brother.



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Update: Yay! The vet called and said Lennon is doing great. Plus, Tom and I received a check in the mail that nearly covered one-third of Lennon's doctor bill, money which we'd forgotten was owed to us. Is God good, or what? :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Of Bucket Lists Refilled

So here I am nearly 52 and my Bucket List is, well, empty.

At least, that's what I told Tom yesterday while we discussed our future, you know, finances and living frugally and could he just retire early at 55? That sort of thing.

I told him I wouldn't mind continuing to live super-frugally for, like, forever because I'd gazed down deep into that bucket, saw blackness and heard only echoes. As in, all my real and lasting desires have been fulfilled, especially after taking that cross-country train trip last September.

In my teens I longed to live on the East Coast inside an old farmhouse with an awesome collection of books and a barn on some land. At 19 I wanted to be married, at 20 I wanted a child. Later in my 20's and 30's I wanted to be a writer and a teacher behind a podium in a church setting. I wanted to travel through farm country, especially, and to visit Almanzo Wilder's house of Farmer Boy fame. I wanted to visit Washington D.C., Gettysburg, Amish Country, Boston and New England. I also wanted to take a train trip across America.

Well, I've done every single one of those things. And so much more.

And now? Now I find myself convicted to simply become more excellent at all the little tasks which make up my life. To care for my family, myself, our house and yard and garden more excellently, with less sloppiness, less complaining and fewer corners cut. To spend my hours more wisely. To do a better job with this blog for your sake. To become a more loyal friend and encourager. To help others see their dreams come to pass. And to grow closer to God day by day by day.

And truthfully? I'm thinking my current Bucket List just became filled with all new dreams. It's not empty at all, just different. Just changed. And I am excited to see these new dreams fulfilled.




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In fewer words: I guess I'm having an amazing time just living my dreams!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Of Promised Visits and Potlucks

Well.

Ever since moving here 2 1/2 years ago we've told a bunch of people, "Oh! We need to have you come over to see our new farm. It would be such fun!" And ok, a few times we've actually set dates and had these what-feels-like-long-lost-friends over for a farm tour, lunch and enjoyable fellowship.

But then I began making a mental list of all the rest of our old friends and neighbors who are still waiting for an actual date for an actual visit and good grief, there must be 25 people on that list! Gah.

(Picture me hanging my head in shame. Really, Tom and I should win golden statue awards for our procrastination tendencies. Gulp.)

So. I have an idea.

Why not divide the group into two and then, in late Spring and/or early Summer, plan two potluck picnics here? Potlucks are easy, after all, and in 'two fell swoops' we could invite all those folks who've waited patiently to check out our farm, some of whom we've not seen in years, even.

Tom thinks that's a great idea. Now, if only we'll follow through ...

And well, I just thought I'd share that idea with any of my fellow procrastinators. (See you at the Procrastination Awards! I'll be the woman galloping down the aisle, late, still ripping curlers from her hair.) :)

Monday, February 07, 2011

My Most Worn Books

I took the weekend off from this blog because, basically, I had nothing new to say. Just the same ol' three things I've woven into two-thousand posts and 6 years:

1. Above all, grow closer to God.
2. Let Him change you (your whole world will change)
3. Crave and go after peace.

Of course, (as I've heard said), God doesn't require that we always have a new thing to say, just a now thing .You know, something timely and relevant that will, perhaps, help someone.

Well, I still don't have even that at the moment.

So. Just to let you know I'm still here, I thought I'd give you a simple list. And here you go:


The Books I've Read More Than Ten Times (And Never Tire Of)


1. Mary Emma and Company by Ralph Moody
2. The 'Saturday Books' by Elizabeth Enright
3. Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly
4. The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
5. Gone Away Lake (and its sequel) by Elizabeth Enright
6. The Friendly Road by David Grayson (and others of his)
7. The Art of Homemaking by Daryl V. Hoole
8. Domestic Affairs by Joyce Maynard
9. Grandma Moses: My Life's History by Grandma Moses
10. Chicken Every Sunday by Rosemary Taylor
11. Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace
12. Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
13. The 'Moffats series' by Eleanor Estes
14. Onions in the Stew by Betty MacDonald
15. Journal of a Happy Woman by June Strong
16. Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson
17. The Wind Blows Free by Loula Grace Erdman
18. Look Through My Window by Jean Little
19. Vagabond Summer by Anne Emery
20. The 'Tobey and Brose' books by Rosamond du Jardin
21. Stand In The Wind by Jean Little
22. The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig


As they say, there's no accounting for taste. :)

The majority of these are what I'd call comfort reads and I highly recommend each one, especially this time of year when many of us feel the snow covering our yards is creeping inside to cover--and freeze--our brains.

I am so there right now. heh.






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Who knew there was so much to celebrate in February??



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If you, too, have read any of these a few times I'd love to hear from you in my comment box. Or, even better, it would be fun to see which other books *you* have read over and over!

Friday, February 04, 2011

That Audience of One

"But David encouraged himself in the Lord..." 1 Samuel 30:6

*****

Yesterday, just for fun and encouragement, I totaled (as best I could) the money I have saved and earned since Tom lost his job. I've kept records so to assure myself that I'm, uh, not just spinning my wheels, traveling nowhere, wasting time.

So I flipped through my notebook where I scribble totals from online survey checks, grocery refunds and credit card rewards. Also, I went through my supermarket and Rite-Aid receipts, totaling my savings from sales and coupons then added the values from free stuff I've received in the mail, even estimating the coin totals I gathered from around the house which we'll use for yard sales. Etc.

Totaling all that, I arrived at around $670. Dollars saved and dollars earned.

Of course, that's not counting the many elusive, too-much-strain-for-my-brain savings from cooking meals from scratch, cutting my own hair, keeping the heat down low and lights switched off, staying out of stores so to avoid temptation, shopping yard sales for used goods rather than new, not ordering books from Amazon.com and--well, you know.

That stuff adds up quickly, but rather than try putting a dollar number to those savings, I just let myself feel good about them.

Of course, people with real jobs make tons more money but, as I see it, real encouragement doesn't make those kinds of comparisons. Real encouragement recognizes a job well done--and how it can be improved upon later. (See my last post.)

Sometimes you just need to encourage yourself rather than waiting for others to do it. Or maybe most of the time, I don't know. But what I do know is that, if we listen, God will tell us we're doing a good job. He'll tell us He appreciates our obedience and that, always, He's standing right beside us to lighten the load and help us do/be/listen even better next time.

And that He loves us even when we--by recklessness or laziness--veer off the road. Even then He's there to help drag us back up and fix what our inattention broke.

So today I would say if no one else is encouraging you, well, just encourage yourself. Let God be your audience of one, allow Him to be the reason you do what you do. And let His applause be all that you seek.





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"... and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour." . 1 Corinthians 3:8

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Of Acceptance And Simple Thank-You's

So Tom and Naomi know a certain local excellent guitar player and if Tom, especially, says a guy plays a mean guitar, well, he does. Tom is Mr. Music.

But the problem is that if you tell Guitar Player how awesomely he played, he will begin listing all the mistakes he made during the concert. He'll tell you that no, he's not that great of a musician. He shoulda done better.

For years, it's been the same. Whole crowds tell him, over and over, that he's amazing, but still, he hems and haws and denies his ability.

Tom and Naomi wish they could get this guy to, well, stop that. To stop criticizing his musicianship, his gift, and being so hard on himself. But really? They could ask a thousand well-known, ultra-talented musicians to pat this guy on the back and assure him of his mega-guitar-talent but still, it would make no real difference. I've a feeling if, after all that, one talentless guy came along and told Guitar Player he wasn't worth the ticket money he paid to listen, well, Guitar Player would probably go home hanging his head.

The weird thing, of course, is that most likely, Guitar Player needs to hear all those compliments. Next to loving music, affirmation is probably what he loves next best, but for whatever reasons, he's unable to accept it as truth. I heard he had critical parents who wanted him to forget the whole music scene (to fling away his talent) and that kind of thing goes deep.

You pay some people compliments and automatically they reply, "No, I'm a lousy musician." Or, "Ugh. My writing is no Hemingway." "This lasagna I made turned out bad." "I really messed-up my solo."

They believe they're sounding humble, but actually? If the lasagna was great, why lie and say it wasn't? (Hint: God doesn't think those kinds of lies are ok.) If you're a good writer, why brush away every compliment with, "Nah, I could have done better. So-and-so is a million times better."?

There comes a time to simply say, "Thank-you. I appreciate your saying that."

And there also comes a time to stop competing against a whole world of musicians, writers and cooks--and instead--compete only against ones self. To use our gift more faithfully, more fully and freely than we did the last time. To do our best, to learn all we can about ways in which to better use our God-given gifts so to make others smile, to give them hope and appreciation of the Giver of All Gifts.

For really, it's all about acceptance of who we are and what we've been given. It's about Grace and simple obedience. And it's about Love most of all.






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