Saturday, April 30, 2011

Let The Yard Sales (And Lawn-Mowing) Begin



Aww... is this Dutch couple adorable, or what? (Judy H.-- I don't even have to ask whether you love these. heh.)

Today Tom and I attended our first yard and estate sales of the year and oh! The sun shone bright in clear skies and the 60 amazing degrees made everyone giddy and celebratory that our long winter is over. Finally.

The Dutch couple was only $2 and at the next house Tom and I just walked around with our mouths hanging open. The Niagara River flowed right outside the huge window of the family room and a covered stone patio to the left was filled with at least five patio table sets. There was even a real paneled library and a circular staircase with gorgeous scenic wallpaper along the top half of the wall. I told Tom, "All this makes me want to go home and clean up our house." There was a hedge of varied types of bushes and plants on three sides of the front yard and a stone walkway and -- well, what a way to begin the yard sale season.

After we bought groceries we came home and had a pizza picnic on our sunny patio and read a couple of my new books and then I mowed the front lawn--also a first for the year.

And so it goes. And so it begins. And so I find happiness.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Just Thinking. Just Thankful.

Incredible winds yesterday!

We kept losing electricity, a piece of our garage siding flew off and the top of a tree snapped off and is resting on our bunny meadow fence. And just after I'd nearly finished picking up the downed branches and twigs of winter, there are hundreds down again. Oh well. It will take at least a week to pick it all up, yet at least we still have our home and our lives, two things which too many people down south lost last week.

May I always realize my blessings and may I always pray for those in trouble.

So I got up at 4 a.m. this morning, not for the royal pre-wedding coverage, but I watched two hours of it, anyway. I preferred the Canadian coverage from a local station--more back stories and films (did you see the tiny, peaceful town where Kate grew up?). And oh! Kate's dress was so amazing that, with just a peek of the lace at her shoulders and neckline when she first got inside the car, well, I got teary-eyed. Before anyone even saw it, the newscasters said it would be the most copied wedding gown for the next decade. Now, there's a dress worth copying! Simply stunning.

So I watched until they reached the altar and as everyone sang a hymn I smiled, wished the couple well, then turned off the tv and slept in Tom's recliner for another hour and a half. Alas.

Thirty years ago I could watch only ten minutes of Diana's wedding--something felt all wrong to me. Too jolting, as though there was more sadness than gladness. A friend wrote me a letter about how she'd so enjoyed the wedding and found it romantic, but in my next letter to her, I mentioned nothing since I could say no good thing.

This time I felt only happiness and hope for the young couple. Life in their royal realm comes with untold stresses, but I wish them all good things and a close, united relationship for the rest of their lives.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oh Dear





I just now heard the sad news. Rev. David Wilkerson was killed yesterday in a head-on collision in Texas.

I can't believe it. Even though sometimes I didn't exactly agree with Rev. Wilkerson (he could make me a tad crazy), still most times I so admired him and his dedication to God and to the New York ministry, especially, which God gave him. For years I received his snail mail newsletters and often this past year I would think, "I wonder what David Wilkerson is thinking lately," then I'd click over to his blog and read awhile the thoughts from his heart.

I will miss that. I will miss him.

Some people you subconsciously think will live forever upon this Earth and with the shock I feel today, David Wilkerson, in my mind, was one of them.

Of course, yes, he's with God now and having an amazing time! And blessed in God's sight is the death of his loved ones. I know, I know. But still... There's that loss to the rest of us, especially to those of his immediate family and all those around the world, who like me, have appreciated his ministry for whole decades.

And too, the wonderful thing is that we can be assured David was ready to meet God, was ready to let go of this world when the moment arrived. May the same things be said of all of us.

His final blog post which he shared on his last day even spoke of the valley of the shadow of death.

My prayers go out to his family and to all others who, too, are shocked and saddened by the death of this great Christian man. And prayers continue, too, for his wife who is in critical condition.



Like a pregnant woman keeps a suitcase packed for the sudden hospital trip, always live ready to go. Always live ready to go.



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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Believing For Better, Not Worse



"Be it unto you even as you have believed." ... Matthew 8:13



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So yesterday I called my mom to thank her for the funny birthday card she'd mailed to Tom. My mom was so cute. Kept inserting her new beau's name into every subject of our conversation. "I went with Phil to his doctor's appointment... Phil and I have walked over 400 miles in the last four months.... When Phil and I watch tv on the couch, Sweetie Pie (her dog) likes to sit in between us."

Is that adorable or what?

Especially when a year ago, my mom was still missing my dad, still feeling lonely. But now when I call her she always sounds practically happy-out-of-her-mind.

So I thought about that this morning and I also thought how Tom is really enjoying his time of unemployment. How he's turning computer time, tv time, relaxation time into a whole art form. And how God has, amazingly, above and beyond, taken care of us financially. And continues to do so.

And too? I thought how fun it's been lately to have Naomi's three cats more often downstairs here, especially on the days we leave the door opened to the front porch and they sit in the warm, sunny windows out there. And how soon, most likely, Tom and I will bring home two cats of our own--and how--really, I need to believe that maybe they'll be even cooler and just as dear as Lennon was, as opposed to believing no cat will even come close.

Oh! I so desire to live my days expecting more. Expecting that the future will even trump my enchanted past and that surely! goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And may I never take the easy way, you know, sailing downstream into pessimistic, sad places where whole crowds of people, even Christians, end up, complaining away their hours and believing for more of the same sad times ahead.

Instead, may I stop putting silly limits upon God. May I think bigger, believe bigger and always swim upstream in faith, ending up with the happy folks who swam there, too, and who are celebrating the hugeness of the One who got them there with the strength of joy.






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"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us...." ... Ephesians 3:20




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Tom very much appreciated your birthday wishes yesterday. Thanks so much for taking the time to wish him good things!




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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Birthday To One Amazing Guy


So! Today is Tom's birthday. All day.

You've probably forgotten that he and I knew each other just one month before he proposed to me. And frankly, I wondered what had taken him so long. :)

We were just 21 and 19 and we married three months later. Beyond clueless. But it worked out.

Tom is funny. Turns a phrase unexpectedly and makes me laugh. I tease him that he is in love with Carrie Underwood (her voice, anyway). Last weekend he saw her How Great Thou Art duet with Vince Gill and the next day told me it was awesome and how Carrie sang it alone. I watched it online and told him, "Well, Vince Gill harmonized with her."

He was surprised. I teased him about that, of course. "Yes, Tom. You're like, 'Oh, was Vince Gill there, too?'" heh. One night years ago when Carrie was competing on American Idol Tom called in ten times for her. Wow. He's never called in a vote for anyone else since.

(And of course, he will kill me when he reads this post!)

But hey, I would have missed out on so much had I gone through these 32 years with someone else. For me, Tom is it. As God's mercies are new every morning, so is Tom. He's never dull. And he's also the bravest man I know (yes, I've told him that). What with the polio thing and all the surgeries and treatments and the hard stuff the doctors tell him is down the road and the being downsized thing last year and --- well, even with all that, most days he's the same. Steady. Peaceful. Believing for the best.

So happy birthday to the greatest guy I know from the most blessed gal around.




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So did you hear Carrie's How Great Thou Art? What a way to start any day!

Monday, April 25, 2011

When God Says, "It's Time To Move On"

"And the Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended." Deut. 34:8

"Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous... for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

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I didn't tell you just how much the death of Lennon the Cat devastated me. I couldn't write about it, not fully, nor could I even share with Tom my sadness and usually I can tell him anything. But the grief struck deep, the regret, too, for I felt I'd let Lennon down majorly. For some weeks I felt myself flailing in an ocean of sadness, though of course, while holding onto God's hand. God, the one who always keeps me from totally going under in any situation.

But then? But then there came a day, an hour, when God told me 'the days of weeping and mourning for Lennon are ended.' You know, just as he told those ol' Israelites in the verse, above, about Moses. He said the time had arrived to let go. To move on. To move past this tragedy with a strength and courage He would give me over on the other side.

But for the courage and new strength to come, first I must lay down my grief. The first move had to be mine. He wasn't going to rip the grief right out of my hands, no, He'd only take it after I'd laid it down upon the Road of Life.

Probably each of us have heard similar words, instructions, and I believe God has major reasons for asking us to fling away sorrows and rejections and offenses. Namely, He knows that clinging to that stuff will open wide doors to spirits of grief and whole seed packages of unforgiveness and bitterness.

It's one thing to spend necessary time grieving--it's healthy, even. But it's a whole other thing to clutch that grief tightly for the rest of your life. That becomes rather like preparing a nice, comfortable bed for a spirit of tormenting grief to poke you, shove you around, ceasingly, for the remainder of your days.

And it's one thing to feel the sting of rejection from loved ones (and then seek healing comfort from God), but quite another to clasp the offense close, allowing a root of bitterness to creep up from the deepest part of our heart, only to become, in time, one tall plant of bitterness.

There's a time to hurt and a time to heal. A time to cry, a time to dry our tears. A time to stand still, a time to move on. A time to hold sad feelings, a time to drop them so to move freely, joyfully down the road, becoming a hopeful sight, a helping hand to others who are bogged down in the mud of gloom.

God's time tables are perfect--and if I move along accordingly--His strength, His courage, His healing will be there to meet me at every sad or scary hairpin turn down the road of Life. And then may I be a light, a help to those limping down the road beside me.

Friday, April 22, 2011

My Magical Place



I believe everyone needs a magical place of wonder, meditation and escape and well, here is mine. My front porch.



Oh, out there, when the sun is shining, lovely things happen. I smile like a Cheshire cat and think huge thoughts, simple ones, too. I gaze out windows and dream and feel, for awhile anyway, that the entire world is one revolving, happy place. And out there on my porch, well, it is. The world is whatever I want it to be for those few sunny moments I get to spend out there.

There are even happy cats sitting in windows on our front porch. This is Farrah, Naomi's adorable cat who looks up at you and squints her pretty green eyes while rising up on her tip-toes:



Her sister, Ginger (a.k.a. One Mean Kitty) also hangs out on our porch on sunny days as well as Sammy who resembles a big black bear (think I'm kidding?)

Everyone needs a magical place, a secret place (even if everybody else knows about it). Maybe yours is down at the local Starbucks. Or at TJ Maxx or the mall. Or in your backyard, your Mom Cave, the local park or the 1950's movie theater downtown.

But wherever, I hope you, too, have a magical retreat where you can escape when your world spins too crazily (or before it does, is even better). A place where you breathe deep breaths and dream and pray and maybe even sing. Where your soul, your spirit, get restored and where you can be you. And where you and God can hang out, together.



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May your Good Friday be blessed...

Want to know how I really feel about Earth Day? Go here.


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Oh my! Do you love this tea room, or what? Another blogger, my friend Elizabeth, gave us a peek of the porch of the tea room last week (totally inspired me since my porch is similarly-built), but now we can all see the rest of such a magical place. OhmyOhmyOhmy! Makes me wish I could just wave my hand over my bedroom and make it reflect that light, airy style.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

When We're The Problem, Not Our Child



"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart..." ... Jeremiah 1:5

"A man's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?" ... Prov. 20:24

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Something sad happened when Naomi was born. Well, three days later, anyway.

My mom had come to help with the new baby and while she, an old friend of the family and I stood around Naomi's crib the conversation turned to how babies are sweet, but when children grow up, well! They're anything but. My mom, in fact, turned to our old friend and said, "Frank and I have even, at times, wondered if it was worth having children, what with the pain they can bring to us."

Wow. Even though my mother didn't say that right to me, you know how I, at 20-years-old interpreted it, don't you? I heard it as, "Your dad and I sometimes wish you had never been born."

Oh dear. What a burning arrow that was, especially in my weakened, emotional state, having just given birth days before. And in that moment, along with all sorts of other flailing thoughts, I thought this one, "I will never say anything like that to my own daughter! I will never even allow myself to feel that way."

And 31 years later, I haven't. All along this road of motherhood, in fact, both Tom and I have told Naomi that we're so grateful God sent her to us (as opposed to someone else), that our lives would be poorer without her, that she was the answer to our prayers.

But yes, of course! Some rough, painful times have dotted this long road. But what I've found the hardest thing, more difficult than anything Naomi has done or said, is the letting go. It's the loss of my control over her decisions. It's the watching her make her own mistakes, the allowing her to follow paths I'd never take.

Yet God gives adults those freedoms and woe unto me if I don't give those same freedoms to the daughter He gave me.

Way back when Naomi was 19, God began majorly working to take me to all those mom-of-an-adult places. He lectured me. Told me I wasn't to wait up for Naomi when she'd come home so late from night-shift waitressing or band gigs. Told me again (and again) to trust Him with the daughter I loved so well. To pray for her, yes, of course! But to not pray that she would become what I wanted, but rather, what God wanted.

And oh, therein lies a huge difference! God designed Naomi before she was even born and that designing was--is--so out of my hands. And because it's not of my brain, then I don't always understand it, especially when that design appears extremely different than the plans and visions I had for her as a child... especially at the times that design doesn't appear exactly biblical in my limited-vision eyes.

But after all God's lecturing I knew, if a mistake was going to be made--most likely--I would be the one making it with my unresolved control issues. In God's eyes, mine was the greater responsibility to behave His way.

It's in acceptance of my loss of control where I find a happy freedom and a great joy in my daughter all-grown-up. As God taught me to accept Naomi right where she is, just as she is, I've been able to enjoy her. To watch her up-close and from a distance with assurance that all will be well. That God is still God and His purposes for Naomi are still in play to this very day.

And during this unique time in our lives, these few months where she's back at home, it's this acceptance of Naomi (and her acceptance of her dear old aging folks) that brings such incredible peace to these old farmhouse rooms, to our three hearts, as well.



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One of the best music videos of motherhood, ever, is here.

And here's a post by Mrs. White whose joy at having her adult children home for a visit blessed me.


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We need to view our adult child as God does--not as a pain-in-the-neck--but rather, as a treasure for which Jesus died.


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Jeremiah 10:23 (As tweaked by me)... "I know, oh Lord, that a man's (adult) life is not his own; it is not for man (nor his parents) to direct his steps."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Craft From My Crafting Days Long Ago



I was telling my new friend, Judy F., about a tiny dresser I made from match boxes (did you know they still make those?) and as I prepared to send these photos to her in an email, I thought why not just share them with the whole class? :)

The idea came from a 1930's childrens' craft book called What To Do Now.








The lining paper is from an old Victorian calendar.

This could go inside a dollhouse, but I think it's fun to hide tiny things like rings and a parrot pin inside the tiny drawers. :)




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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Random Thoughts

1.) Remember how I listen to French music on my old kitchen radio? Well, I'm still in love with that station, in fact, those tunes helped yank me through February and March, my "Book of Job" months (as I'm not-so-fondly calling them). Music from the 1930's, 40's and way beyond, all types of lovely styles, all transforming my kitchen into a whole other land. Yesterday they pretty much camped in the 1940's (huge happy sigh). You can listen here.


2.) See these organic creamers?






Can you believe I paid only 29 cents for each? They were on sale for 1.79 and I had two coupons from online for 75 cents off, which, when doubled, meant I got 1.50 off of each creamer. (See why I love coupons?) On the same trip we bought, with 2 doubled coupons, a pound of cheese for $2--and since it was Tom-approved, it must have been good cheese. One of my favorite places to find hundreds of coupons? Here.


3.) I finished reading Finding Martha's Place and it was incredibly inspiring! If you enjoy hardship-to-happiness autobiographies you'll appreciate this one. What an incredible example of God being able to heal someone so hurt, so abused by life! Wow. (Read about the book here.)


4.) Oh! And for those of you who were interested in the banana candy, Naomi bought us some more. Here is a photo:




(Click to enlarge.) She buys it from an Asian health food store. This stuff looks like chocolate and is just as addictive. Doesn't really taste like bananas, though--the taste is indescribable. Each chewy, delightful piece is individually wrapped. And yummy.

5.) Through one of those Britain's Got Talent videos I shared with you, I discovered an amazing old-fashioned cd by the long ago singer, Vera Lynn. Oh my! Those types of songs are exactly what I've been searching for--they will fit these old farmhouse rooms perfectly. When I earn my next online survey paycheck, Vera Lynn will sooo be on her way to my house. (If you click on the link, scroll down to hear snippets of those perfect songs by clicking on 'preview all songs'.)

6.) This week Mr. and Mrs. Mallard Duck landed upon our winter lake and splashed around and swam and took a stroll. Tom and I pasted ourselves against the windows and felt enchanted.

7.) Each day I get totally free things in my email box! Well, Shop 4 Freebies sends me a daily email with at least 5 things I can have mailed to my home, etc. Yesterday some free popcorn arrived along with a can of Ocean Spray's new carbonated beverage. Fun! (No credit card is required for these offers.) It's nice that, in this world, there are still free things that come with no strings attached.

8.) For three days our house has been in a cloud bank. Come on sun--I know you're out there somewhere! :)






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Have a problem with insecurity/shyness/feeling bad about yourself? Have past hurts kept you back from God's best for your life? This may help. A lot.

When God Is Everything


I remembered something this morning. Or perhaps I thought of it for the very first time--I'm not sure.

It's about grandchildren--how I don't have any and perhaps never will.

Now, all you dear grandmas out there, please don't feel sorry for me! For the whole point of this post is that I don't pity myself at all, you know, about not having grandkids. All these years as, over and over, poof! My friends have become grandmothers to tiny bundles of sweetness, almost never have I felt jealous--and the times I have--those feelings were oh so fleeting. Here for ten minutes, gone for ten months. Here a fleeting second, gone for the following golden hours of my years.

The decade of my 40's (I've written here before) was plain ol' enchanted. And although the start of my new 50's decade hasn't felt quite so magical--still--the daily lessons continue, guiding me to more peaceful tomorrows if not always outward, then certainly inward, where God dwells with me.

And where He hangs out, well, that's one glorious place to be. This is one thing I know.

So. It came to me this morning so clearly, yet simply, that therein lies the explanation for my inner happiness even though all the world may have grandchildren (or houses with everything, extra money, stand-out talent, a 30-year-old's body, a vacation home or 300 comments after every blog post) while I don't:

God is my portion.

He completes every incomplete equation in my Life, so much so that, on most days, I don't even notice anything as being missing. The potential for peace of mind, joy in tiny things, contentment-on-the-way-to-change, well, always I feel it's here and waiting for my next move.

For what, really, can be missing from a life which seeks the fullness of God? From a heart that longs to run hard after Him, to find Him and keep Him close? After all, when God's around there is fullness of joy, a joy unspeakable and full of glory, even. And with all that joy dancing around, who even notices anything is missing? Who would even label something as such?

Extra stuff, extra people in ones life are nice, yes! But thank goodness, God has set things up to where--if we truly have Him-- then we truly own everything necessary for whole strings of remarkable years upon this planet. For the richest of all lives possible this side of Heaven.

At least, that's what I believe. And that's what I'm coming, as the years fly by, to know and experience for myself. All because of the overwhelmingness which is God.





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Colossians 2:10
"And you are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power..."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Upon The Stage of Life


So, over the weekend, did I change the world? Write the great American novel? Give a life-changing speech before thousands?

Nah, I took McCartney the Cat to the vet, shopped for groceries and watched those Britain's Got Talent videos (going through half a box of kleenex) which I gave you in my last post.

And that's about it.

But you know? It was enough, especially watching the videos because it felt as though God wanted me to view them. As though He sat beside me, pointing at things things I needed to be reminded of.

Like, those two presenters, Ant and Dec, who interview the contestants, show them where to stand on stage and make comments in front of the backstage camera. Are those guys adorable or what? They show obvious gladness when a contestant does well. When they are delighted with a performance they say so, holding nothing back as people are known to do when jealousy rears its ugly green head.They don't quip, "He was pretty good, except when he messed-up in those three (barely noticeable) spots." No, these young men rejoice with those who rejoice, reveling in a moment belonging to someone who is not them.

I love watching that as much as the remarkable performers. How sweet, how refreshing to see such a thing in today's world, to hear no envy in a person's voice tones or expressions. Just a happy sort of congratulations given in pure form.

(Now, if you've read anywhere that those two young men, in their spare time, rob banks and kick their neighbors' dogs, well, don't tell me. I do not wish to know.) :)

And something else? Those Britain's Got Talent videos remind me a bit of what Heaven may be like. I mean, all those people glowing with talents so obviously given by God! And then the applause, the appreciation shown after their performances. Well, it all reminds me of how, in Heaven, the greatest praise will be given to God for who He is, what He gave us and what He did through us. And also, appreciation will be shown to all who faithfully used what God handed them, faithfully gave out what they were given within.

How good to just do what we're meant to do simply because we're meant to do it.

And the applause from others will come someday for each of us, perhaps never upon this Earth, though. Or maybe just in tiny ways. We're not to seek it here, anyway, we're not to rely upon praise to keep us using our talents, to keep us blessing others. But in Heaven, it will come.

Yet in the meantime? God, always, is our Audience of One. He's daily in our corner cheering us on, aiding us, actually stepping upon the stage with us to help us do whatever He's asked us. Encouraging, guiding, enabling--He's doing it all, 24/7. All that He asks is our willingness and the use of the talents He gave us in the first place.

From beginning to end, it's all of Him.





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

"Let your light shine beforfe men so they will glorify your Father in Heaven."


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Here's another post about just doing what we're called to do, even without an audience.


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I especially enjoyed Ant and Dec's reactions to this performer.

Oh to be genuinely happy, even giddy, for those who receive what we dearly desired for ourself for so long!


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Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Saturday Surprise

So here I was, listening yet again(!) to that original Susan Boyle audition and I looked to the right and found this. And oh, it was very, very nice, indeed. Made my whole Saturday afternoon.

Wow. What a treat.


Addendum: Oooooo! Just now found another delight. Loved this, too.

Oh my. Oh my. Oh my. Here it is one day later and I must give you one more treasure. Oh my.

Okay. Just. One. More. I promise! But for the most old-fashioned amongst us, I had to share this. Just had to.




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If you enjoy any of these as much as I did, skip back here and tell me, ok? :)



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"A man's gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men." (Prov. 18:16)

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Importance of Knowing Oneself



"... Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." Romans 12:3


So lately Tom and I are watching old Rockford Files reruns by way of Netflix until we're all bleary-eyed and wow... Do you remember how the outside of his, er, mobile home (I dislike the term 'trailer') looked beyond dreadfully depressing? Well, (now don't faint) the inside charms me.

Those three small rooms, (the living room/kitchen combined, the bathroom, the bedroom) even with their grey paneling, look cozy, what with their compactness and a-place-for-everything shelves and cupboards. And besides, Rockford's shoddy home sits on the beach (literally) and sometimes he walks to the ocean's edge and fishes for his breakfast, barbeque's it, then sits at his picnic table outside his front door. Or most often, he walks over to the old-fashioned taco stand just yards away and orders two tacos.

Tacos for breakfast! I could get into something like that.

Oh, that ol' Jim Rockford had it made living inside that beat-up old single-wide. And you know? Sometimes I stare at the tv screen and think, "Tom and I could live like that. I could make a little office for me in the bedroom and Tom could stay at the other end, in the living room. I'd enjoy the challenge. It would be cozy. It would be sweet."

Ha! It would probably be a nightmare.

I mean, this past winter we barely survived sharing these five rooms downstairs. Just. Barely. Survived. But of course, living in a tiny place on a huge beach in Malibu, well, now that would be different! We'd have the whole great outdoors more days than not (oh, to have no snow! But, alas, there would be fog. I hate fog.). But we'd have to share that beach, our yard, even--Rockford had no privacy once he stepped outside his front door. None. Nada.Zip.

And I do need my privacy. And I need to have cats, also, and well, there'd be no room for those in such a tiny place, no matter how cute that place appeared (just where would the litter box go?). The taco stand a stone's throw away would be terrific--for awhile. But I'd soon grow tired of that greasy smell and of course, I'd nag poor ol' Tom like crazy about eating there, not to mention the temptation to eat tacos every meal, myself, would win over my own common sense.

But at least we could walk it off, what with all that beach! Well, no, I could walk it off. Tom needs solid ground on which to walk. Oh well, maybe he could squeeze an exercise bike into his living room. Along with his guitars, tractor books, amplifiers and roll-around tool boxes. heh.

Ha! It's fun to dream, isn't it? Especially when those dreams help us hone into what we really want and what would work--and what we don't and what wouldn't. When those dreams reveal to us who we really are, not who we suppose ourselves to be.

Since moving to this farm I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about myself and in all the learning, it's been the best of times, the worst of times.

But mostly the best. Because of owning all this land and a barn, orchard, old farmhouse? Partly. But for me, the part I'll always remember as being best was getting real with myself and gaining this new caution light inside my head, a light which tells me not every decision I make is the one God would have made for me. Not every dream inside my head is God-inspired.

And too, getting to know the difference between what I honestly need, enjoy and what I just prefer watching others, by way of books, blogs and movies enjoy. And keeping, treasuring all wisdom from experience, for hey, sometimes we just don't know until we know first-hand.

Now I realize not every dream, if given an opportunity, is meant to live, to breathe. Some dreams are meant simply to tickle our minds, to keep us going, to give us a land in which to escape during hard times until we can return to our present reality and remember that yes! My own reality is mighty sweet. Some dreams are simply places to go until God restores to us the strength and creativity to make our own reality into the greatest dream of all.




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In case you're wondering--no, I do not regret buying this farm. I'll never regret it. But the reasons for my thankfulness are totally different than what I would have, years ago, supposed. It's taught me more than any college or Bible course ever could.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guarding My Heart's Door


"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." ... Proverbs 4:23


Here, there, everywhere, people tell me things. People tell you things. And often all day and evening long it's the bad stuff.

"Our politicians are destroying our Country."
"The older you get, the worse Life gets."
"Scary times are ahead and you'd better be scared enough to do something about them."
"Your adult children will make you crazy."
"Trust no one."

And the list stretches on over hill and dale.

Yet lately God's been reminding me to guard my heart. To keep the negative, bitter, fearful stuff out. That it's my job to not allow people to contaminate the crops He's grown in my heartland with their scattered seeds of poison, otherwise I'll reap black crops of fear, not gleaming fruit of faith.

And fear brings torment, you know.

My mind will not know peace if I am afraid, bitter, unforgiving, judgemental or selfish. According to the Bible, it's an impossibility to know Good Days if I'm full of fear rather than filled with God.

Do I believe harder times are coming? Yes, personally I do, especially considering what the Bible says lies ahead. Yet will I spend today dreading those days? Will I allow them to rob me of the mind-quietness of godly trust?

No. Instead I'll spend my weeks preparing from a base of faith, not fear, and listening. Listening to people's tirades about our 'evil government' and shortages and overall doom? No again, for oh! How I long to listen to God, instead, for He will tell me, "Fear not."

"Fear not. Fear not. Fear not.
Neither be afraid."

"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."

Oh, how I get that now, in fact, I'm thinking that's my verse of the year 2011. And I hope to honor it, to meditate upon it and--above all else--to live it.



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"As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 3:27




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Monday, April 11, 2011

Choices! We Nearly Always Have Choices.

So does anybody remember one of Elijah Wood's earliest movies called North? It's about an 11-year-old boy, North, who resents his parents' busyness with their careers and all things unrelated to him, so he runs away and has wild, funny adventures in various countries (if I remember correctly).

His parents, meanwhile, desperately search for him and agree to do a tv interview in hopes that North will see how much they want him back. But the ne'er-do-well interviewer (for reasons I can't recall) doesn't want North to return home, so he begins the interview by telling the parents there's a boy named Hugh who needs a home and would they like him, instead?

The parents then respond with statements like, "We don't want Hugh! We don't want Hugh in our home!" Later the interview airs, though with new questions dubbed-in by the interviewer. So it appears he's asking the parents, "What would you want North to know right now?" To which they're shown replying adamantly, "We don't want Hugh! We would never want Hugh!", which sounds very much like, "We don't want you! We would never want you!"

And of course, North watches that interview on tv and is devastated. He walks away believing his parents don't love him anymore.

Heh. It's really a creative, imaginative, funny movie (you have to watch it to understand) and I recommend it to the quirky amongst you.

Anyway. All these many, many years later, Tom and I still are known to, when a cat or a person does something we didn't want them to, quip, "We don't want Hugh!" and then giggle as though we're the cleverest people on Earth.

Alas. And by way of that explanation, here is the one and only thing I don't like about Facebook. It's a funny thing, actually, unless you have thin skin. It's when you contact an old (or new) friend to become your buddy at Facebook, but through probably a myriad of reasons, it takes months for them to approve your request for Facebook friendship. Months! (Usually, it's because they're new to all this, it's an oversight or they sign-up then never darken Facebook's doors again.)

But! What happens during all those months is that--whenever they approve other friends--it's announced on your home page.

"Little Miss Muffet became friends with Jack Sprat Who Could Eat No Fat."

It's like the announcement 'bleeds through' to your page, even though no other status reports of any kind appear if you are not Mistress Mary's official friend(!) So for months you read:

"Little Miss Muffet became friends with Jane Doe" (the most popular woman in church)
"Little Miss Muffet became friends with Mistress Mary Quite Contrary" (your old nemesis from high school)

And of course, it's a bothersome thing to see your old friend, Little Miss Muffet, becoming Facebook friends with every Tom, Dick and Harry who is not you.

Or should I say who is not Hugh. heh. Because that's how I've trained myself to see this annoying Facebook oversight. I just smile and say, "Little Miss Muffet doesn't want Hugh! Little Miss Muffet never wanted Hugh!"

Oh, how good it feels when we choose not to get offended! For always, becoming offended is a personal choice. No really, it is. I can choose to believe there's a logical, reasonable explanation for an unanswered email, an ignored wave or unkind words (as in, "hurting people hurt other people," a quote I love). Or I can also choose to believe somehow, somewhere there was a lack of communication and wires got crossed and I got left out accidentally.

I can always choose to believe the very best about anyone, or of course, I can choose to act six-years-old and make squeaky vows to never, ever speak to them again. Harumph.

But as for me and myself, I will try extremely hard to always choose to believe the very best.



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I've found something that often works at Facebook when it takes people ages to approve my request for friendship. I do the "Poke" thing and that usually wakes them right up. Usually brings a favorable response within a day or two. Alas. :)




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Matthew 24:10
And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.



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Oh! Just now checked out North on Netflix and it's on instant view...yay!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Miracle Day


Yesterday we had bright sunshine from moment one and I sat out on the (window-enclosed) front porch with my coffee and books extra early and let the sunshine sweep away, finally, the harshness of these past two months.

And later I hung laundry outside upon my prayed-for clothesline and raked and raked dead leaves, pine needles and the gravel rocks which our neighbor's snow blower swooped upon the lawn. I carried our vegetable clippings out to the compost pile, swept the patio and barn sidewalk and the song "Happy Days Are Here Again!" kept spinning inside my head.

Then in later afternoon while the frogs in our gleaming winter lake croaked, clicked and creaked, I, with my wheelbarrow, sat beside the flower bed on the sunny side of the house and picked amongst the dead stems and grasses, clearing the way for new growth to catch the sun and grow, grow, grow.

That's when it happened.

That's when I stared up at the living room window and remembered all those months behind the glass, gazing upon fields of snow, longing to sit outside, sun upon my back, weeding the flower beds, below.

That's when I realized, at that very moment, this was a dream-come-true! And I gasped with the wonder of it. How many days do any of us, really, experience the fruition of something so longed for? What percentage of Life reflects that?

Amazing, amazing day, so stuffed with Grace, that she was everywhere--inside, outside, upside-down. She matched my steps and made everything enchanted. Easier, too.

Always, I've been healthy, physically, except for the occasional virus, and have never needed to say, "I must do such-and-such for my health." But now? Now more than ever I know that, for my health--physical, mental and otherwise--I need to move away to a milder climate.

One must know herself. And both Tom and I must--next year at the latest--move to a place where, come winter, we do not hibernate in our small rooms lest Tom slip on the ice, he with his polio'ed leg. To a place where we can get out and walk year-around, lest we turn into the roly-poly old things which we are this morning. We need to move to a land where winter does not drive us inside the house and therefore drive us crazy.

Yesterday healed me. The sun and the 58 degrees, and now I am back to the Debra I recognize, the happy one you've seen in this blog for 6 years. And on the day of Suzy Homemaker's funeral, of all days! (God's ways are so like that, so opposite of what I'd suppose.)

Now I know myself better. Now I know what I--what we--must do. And now there is great peace.




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"Know thyself." ... copied

Saturday, April 09, 2011

A Funeral for Suzy


You know how, when someone close to you dies, you're supposed to allow yourself to go through all those stages of grief so that, someday, you can accept your loss and move on in a healthy frame of mind?

Well. This past week I've been convicted to finally hold a funeral for Suzy. You know, Suzy Homemaker. The way, seven months ago, I went from (freely and with great splashy abandon) playing Suzy 64 hours a week to now averaging only 2. From having my own kitchen and a sweet Mom Cave to a shared kitchen and no room of my very own.

And with no Lennon the Cat to sit beside, either.

I am only just now seeing that the stress I've been experiencing (it came to me that Naomi's second sentence was more accurate--I've acted stressed-out, not worried) is because I've been, one by one, experiencing the first four stages of grief over the loss of my Suzy Homemaker lifestyle:

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression

Gah! How could I be so clueless? I've been grieving unknowingly over Suzy's demise. I didn't until this week even guess why such foreign emotions plagued my head (well, foreign for the Debra of the last 17 years. Previous Debra lived with those things daily back in the 70's and 80's.)

It's time to admit Suzy has died. And I have been grieving her death even without realizing it.

And the time's arrived to stop pretending things are the same, for that brings only more stress when, over and over, I do not get my way. When I don't get to play my music loud and flit about the house in my apron doing what I want exactly when I want to. And all those other freedoms which come along with true, traditional Suzy Homemakering.

Those days are gone.

And there comes a time, one so vital, to admit when you lost what you once had. Otherwise you go, well, crazy. It's the people who skip the final stage of grief--Acceptance--who have been known to go insane. To go around pretending they still have what they lost, and have it (or him or her) the same way, paving a path to an other world which does not exist.

Or at the very least, they become a stressed-out bundle of nerves ready to snap at anyone who tries to help. (And uh-oh, I know about that lady, for I've been her lately. Many's the time I've asked myself, "What is the matter with you, Debra??")

So finally Suzy will have her funeral. And I will move on to Stage of Grief Number 5 (acceptance), for too many albeit-necessary hours have already been spent parked at Stages of Grief 1 through 4.

It's time to let go. To move on within my new parameters so that I can design a new way to live my days, to custom fit them into this new stage so to discover the fresh freedoms waiting for me there.






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The good news? This will be my final post about the sadness of my lifestyle loss. I've written too many such posts (during those first four stages of grief) and it's time to end them for your sake. And since I'm choosing to move into Acceptance, that promise won't be hard to keep. Since Tuesday of this week, everything (everything!) about my life has looked so much brighter. (Thank goodness, right?) :)



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Oh! Have you seen the new CBS show on Friday nights called Chaos? Tom and I caught the first two episodes and found them to have just the right amount of humor and drama. Love it.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Part of Debra's Day Out


So guess who finally got out of Purgator--, uh, her house today?

Yep, ol' Debra. Tom had an appointment at the unemployment office in a city by way of the countryside and though all the trees are still brown and the skies, grey, it felt wonderful to sail along these quiet country roads.

He dropped me off on an unfriendly-feeling, tall-building'ed corner near an antique shop, but when I arrived at its door I was greeted by a big Closed sign. Alas. But the nice thing? A new bakery stood next door, so new, that I fancied God had placed it there just for me, a welcoming place so to escape from the cold. I slipped inside the customer-less shop to wait a half hour until the antique store opened and an elderly man and a younger woman (probably father and daughter) greeted me warmly. After I ordered a decaf and a small bran muffin (not one of those huge ones) I apologized to the woman for having only a 20 dollar bill. I told her, "I hate to do this to you," and did she grouse? Did she turn all beady-eyed and ask me if I had anything smaller? No, she happily said, "No problem! Twenty dollar bills have to come in sometime. It's fine."

Wow.

These two people seemed to have such servants' hearts. The woman had to make a new pot of decaf (she didn't complain about that either) and then she brought my coffee to my table where I sat squinting at the newspaper (I am often--hey, not always!--too vain to wear my reading glasses in public). Also she brought along a large basket of cream and sugar and later her dad--I am supposing--came around the counter and asked me kindly if he could get me anything else.

For the entire half hour I was their only customer and oh my, though the muffin tasted amazing (oh, that cream cheese swirled on top!), my decaf was, well, dreadful. Like instant decaf, only worse. So I poured in more cream. Then more sugar. Tasted it, then added more cream. More sugar. Re-tasted it and gave-up and drank most of it anyway.

And I sat there and prayed this business would succeed. All that new pretty paint, different colors on each wall and two baskets of fresh flowers, one with a congratulations balloon, sat on the front counter and gaily shouted, "We are trying a new venture!" But scarily, across the street stood a coffee shop with an oh-so-cool neon light the shape of a coffee cup and an awning and a sign sure to bring in young, hip coffee-seekers who fancy themselves java experts.

My little new shop screamed none of that, but I'm betting their pastries and homemade baked goods are better than that cozy-appearing place across the way. And although I sat there and got all dreamy eyed about how the coffee must taste over there, still, I was glad I'd landed where I had. I thought how God probably wanted me to choose this quiet place with its small shiny silver boom box (the shop's entire sound system) just feet away from me playing sweet trendy tunes.

But oh, nowadays I do know this--if you are going to sell coffee, it had better be good. No, terrific. Most people have been coffee enlightened and most refuse to go back. And the sad thing? My homemade decaf which I make daily in my $3 cheapo, old coffee maker tastes like nirvana in comparison.

So like I said, I prayed. And I would have loved to give these oh-so-kind people some helpful advice about making coffee, but you know I didn't of course. I just thanked them on my way out (they both thanked me, first) and told them it had all been wonderful.

And you know? Take away the dreadful coffee and it was wonderful. The getting out alone, the sitting at a bistro table in a coffee shop, something I used to do all the time but now almost never get to. And the praying for people who will never know I prayed--that's good for me. And I hope it will be good for them, as well. May they stay in business for as long as their servants' hearts desire.





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We had more adventures today, but for now, this is the only one I'll share. Though if you're wondering about the antique shop, let me just say there was just too much stuff in too many booths in too many rooms. Too much expensive stuff, making me just want to go home and declutter my own old belongings.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Of Minding My Own Business

So. Did you see TLC's new Extreme Couponing show last night?

Neither did I, but oh, everybody on my Facebook couponing sites was condemn--uh, chatting about it.

I did watch various preview clips yesterday of the show, saw the couponers-gone-wild, what with their whole bedrooms filled with groceries they'd gotten free (or nearly so). Shelf after shelf of mustard and toilet tissue and deodorant and -- well, you know. Stuff. And the way they tied up check stands for a long time and made cashiers, well, insane.

But I kept in mind that 'extreme' word in the title. It's one of those extreme shows, after all, I mean, who's going to watch a show called, The Occasional Coupon Clipper?

And now every one's throwing a fit and crying 'foul', 'organized hoarder' and prophesying that this will be The End Of Couponing As We Know It since, most likely, coupon makers as well as stores will change their policies after watching shows like these. After peoples' dirty little coupon secrets have been exposed.

And perhaps it will be the end of an era. Could be that God will need to help me save money in other, different ways someday.

But you know? You won't see me at Facebook casting stones. You won't see my little picture amongst all the flaming comments, making snide, prideful statements like, "I'm glad I'm not like those extreme couponers! My ways are better ways!"

Uh, no.

What will I now do instead? I'll allow those Extreme Couponing clips to inspire me to fill my own pantry with nearly-free groceries. I'll get out my envelopes of coupons today and feel more cheered, more challenged to make a cool shopping list which will save me a few twenty dollar bills. I'll enjoy the hunt for coupons online, learn from others' couponing expertise and try some shopping hints I'd not considered before.

And I'll mind my own business and allow other people their freedom to do as they see best, to let the people they respect and know, personally, to speak into their lives--and to learn from their own mistakes.

It's incredibly easy to become all negative and critical. To feel the whole world wants to hear our opinions. Anybody can be like that, no special talent required. It's as easy as rolling down a mountain and any Jane Doe can roll down mountainsides.

But as for me and my house, we wish to become mountain climbers, instead. We wish to save our breath for only good, necessary words while we take the high road and climb toward Heaven.

And we'll pass on just becoming Anybodies With Opinions.




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Here's a link to a few clips of Extreme Couponing. Keep letting it play for additional clips after the commercial inbetween, but please don't return back here with negative comments, ok? My other pet peeve is when people watch tiny snippets of a show and then give a long, 3-part sermon. :)


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For those who would say, "I don't use coupons. They are only for processed, sugary foods," here's a partial list of groceries I've not paid full price for in weeks or months because of coupons(usually combined with sale prices making them either free or merely costing pennies, way lower than what I would pay at Aldi or Sam's Club-type stores. The "per unit price" becomes cheaper.):


Bread
Peanut butter (no hydrogenated oils)
Toothpaste
Paper towels
Kleenex
Breakfast cereal(healthy types only)
Mayonnaise
Vinegar
Tortillas
Cat food
Pickle relish
Canned pasta
Vitamins
Trash bags
Canola oil

And these things I most often (but not always) buy on sale and with coupons:

Tuna
Frozen vegetables
Bottled juice (no sugar added)
Bathroom tissue
Cheese
Cottage cheese
Mustard
Canned fruit (no sugar added)
Prunes
Boxed/packaged dried pasta



If I had people saving Sunday coupon inserts for me, I'd do better. But alas, we get just one copy of the newspaper each week--Sunday's.





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Want to live free? Want to be happy? Try this (it works for me):

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands... " 1 Thessalonians 4:11




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Odie wrote a fun post about coupons today, too! Check it out here.


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Oh! This woman lives in a 90 square foot apartment and enjoys it. Watch the video here. (I loved watching it, but am not sure I could ever do that unless I absolutely had to. Then I could. I think. Maybe. ...heh...)