Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why Do I Love This House??

Okay. When I told Tom that I loved this house (above) in Franklin, NC, he said, "Wow. You really have changed!" To which I told him, "See? I told you I've been changing lately!"
I mean hey... why should I love this place? It's called a garage house, for goodness sake. It obviously was designed by a man--it has just one bedroom, one bath and half the house is a garage. I mean, come on...
But I love the tall ceilings and the large rooms. The deck off the back, too (one of Tom's first projects could be to make a frame over it so we could hang screening). The yard is so woodsy it would probably take care of itself (we had woodsy yards in a California mountain town--their care was a cinch).
This part reminds me of a church's dining hall--maybe that's why I love it, too, having grown-up in churches--literally in one case during ages 11-14. (Long story, but good years they were.)
But you know? As I talked this over with Tom (who only mildly+ likes it), I think I answered my own question as to why I love this unique place. Besides the fact that it's rather like a cabin in the woods (my dream since age 14), I think inside my head I'm picturing serving Tom breakfast in the mornings, then shooing him into the garage-half of the house where he'd have his own man cave. For hours. And in a way, that would be like the old days of him driving away in the mornings to his job, leaving me free to play Suzy Homemaker at home for hours. He'd work (or play) inside the garage half, I'd work and play in the house half.
Yes, I think that's why I find myself dreaming about this goofy house. Tom could have half and I could have half--yet he'd be only six inches away (on the other side of a wall). Ahh, the best of both worlds.

I also like it because it's only $49,500.

I know. I know. I'm crazy. But oh! It's fun to dream outside of boring ol' boxes! :)



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Anyone else kinda like this house in the woods? (Please don't tell me if you hate it nor give me 80 reasons why it's foolish to consider. Currently I prefer my blissful ignorance.) Of course, the wisest thing would be to build a guest room and half bath at one end of the garage, then we'd have two bedrooms and one-and-a-half baths. And no, I wouldn't make Tom sleep out there in the new guest room inside his garage.....heh....

Or would I? :)



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The Bowl And Moving On



Five or more years ago I fell in love with a bowl. It appeared in a Mary Englebeit magazine and I was charmed at first sight. At an antique shop sometime later I saw one with a price greater than I wished to pay, but yesterday! Yesterday at a yard sale I found this one for just $2. The only thing I bought all day, but it was enough. More than.

Now, lest your eyes keep bulging at the $2 price tag, here is a major reason for it:
But what's a chip when you love something? And how hard does it become to turn a chip toward the wall? :)

Well, anyway, such a lovely gift from God yesterday, one with much thoughtfulness poured into it to cheer me a bit. This weekend was rough, what with the death of my friend, yet still I walk on (limping a bit) and still God is good.

Busy times down on the farm! Our favorite real estate agent will come next week (she's a delight. We've kept in touch these three years.), so in the meantime we declutter and pack stuff no longer meaningful into boxes which we'll have a clean-up company pick up. Sounds easier than making a ton of trips to Salvation Army as we did in 2007 when SA stood just down the street. It's a much longer drive now and with the price of gas(!) and the value of our time, etc., well, this will be a better deal all-around.

And really? My heart has moved on. Already it lives in another place and loves it there. Where? I don't even know, but it's no longer here--I do know that. Remember how, before we moved from the suburbs I felt twinges of claustrophobia when I'd drive past houses so squeezed together? And how I longed for wide-open country spaces? Well, this weekend as we drove through the countryside I gazed out the car window at everyone's rolling acres of lawns and felt twinges of overwhelmingness. It was all too much, well, work. Too much to care for, too much time and committment involved, just too much of everything to keep those rolling acres mowed and beautiful. Which is fine if you are called to it, but now I hear callings from a place of smaller yards and different committments.

And I knew way past any doubts that this is a major signal. It is so time for me to move on, to locate the next phase of Tom's and my life together. And perhaps that lovely blue bowl was actually a going-away gift from God, a gift to show me all will be well if I'm willing to wait for His leading to just the right place, the place where my heart awaits me.



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"You must always be true to your own heart or you will never, ever be happy." ... Joyce Meyer


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Ahhh.... Did my heart much good to watch this youtube video this morning. Mount Airy is still in the running as far as our move goes! :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Memorial Day Inside My Head

Memorial Day. Well, I will remember our soldiers who have fallen, yes! But I will also recall my loved ones who have passed away. This may sound wildly controversial to some, but always I've been thankful that no one can stop me from thinking whatever I wish. No one can reach in and snatch away my own private thoughts.

And nobody can force me to dread the future just because they're dreading it like crazy.

No one can convince me to doubt God's goodness because they're big-time dreaders.

No one can make me become a bitter, unforgiving, afraid old-before-my-time lady.

Well, no one except for myself. I, myself, can certainly push my head into some creepy, dark places in a matter of seconds. But I must keep choosing, each day, not to.

Has anyone else noticed that Life in 2011 isn't exactly getting easier? I'm thinking the 2000's require us to, daily, purpose in our hearts to think and live God's positive, hopeful, loving way. And I purpose in my own heart to let His voice, His written words, tell me what I should be thinking, for I prefer peace. Joy. Strength. And not falling down, scraping my knees every 20 minutes when the world tells me really! I should panic because of what's happening now.

Uh, no. I want to stand--not all bent over and shot-up by satan's darts--but tall, straight, and looking forward to a future with a towering, can-do-anything God all over it.

That's what I want. But it's gonna take much purposing within my heart and head to get--and stay--there.



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I was so grateful for you who left condolences here and at Facebook for me regarding the death of my friend, Sandy. I've been praying a special blessing for each of you who paused to show me you care. Thank-you with all my heart.



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"Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion ... " 2 Corinthians 9:7

"But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord..." ... Joshua 24:15

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Remembering Over Thirty Years of Friendship

Tom and I knew Pete and Sandy 'Martin' from before we were married, but they became our good friends after our babies were born within months of each other. Matt was their surprise baby, welcomed by Brian and Shelly at home, two young teenagers, and from early days in the church nursery, Matt and Naomi adored each other.

So although Pete and Sandy were over fifteen years older than us, we'd visit in each others homes and have both fun and spiritual conversations while we watched our babies play and grow together. When they both turned four I babysat Matt on weekdays in our home while Pete and Sandy worked and Naomi felt as though she had both a close friend and a brother.

Years flew by (as they do) and we moved to Nevada where Pete, Sandy and Matt visited us sometimes. And each time we traveled back to California to see Tom's family we'd stay overnight with the Martins. Sandy's strongest gift was hospitality and being a mom to all and always, she (and Pete) welcomed us to their home, to their guest rooms (and backyard parties and Bible studies), with opened arms. Even when we later moved to New York we'd visit our California relatives on vacations during daytime hours, but spend the nights with the Martins, talking, receiving wisdom from them, laughing, watching our children grow.

Matt and Naomi grew into adults (as children will) and at 22, Naomi went through a sad time so I phoned Sandy and asked if we could fly Naomi out there for a few days. Sandy acted thrilled at the prospect (which would involve a 2-hour drive to the Reno Airport), as though we were doing her a favor.

The Martins retired to a lovely, many-windowed home on a mountain-top in Oregon. We visited them there as they were getting settled on our way from the airport to my dad's memorial service in 2007. With incredible Swiss-like views from their windows we caught-up during a visit lasting just under 24 hours. We loved hearing their plans to offer their home as a retreat for pastors who were burned-out and our good-bye's, as always, were sad. You never know when you'll see good friends again who live across the whole United States.

I continued to send emails and Christmas cards after that good-bye, called them, too, as soon as we moved to our farm and invited them to come see us (they'd visited our suburb home around 1998). But after our 2007 visit we heard from them only a couple times, though that wasn't too unusual since Sandy didn't enjoy emailing like I do.

Then finally I heard from her two weeks ago with shocking news. Back in 2008 her doctors had given her 6 months to live. She gave no other details other than to say here she was 2 1/2 years later, still hanging in there and listening to good Christian teaching and staying positive. She'd been through hard times, but was feeling better.

At first I was sad that we hadn't known this sooner, but as I wrote back to her, if God had asked her not to tell us, then I could understand that. He's asked me to do plenty of wild things through the years.

Then last night we heard from Matt's young wife that Sandy passed away early Friday morning.

Oh dear. It's so hard to lose old friends! At these times, I realize how entwined our lives, our entire histories, are with others. How connected we become. We're still reeling, but grateful for the warning email Sandy sent two weeks ago, for this would be too great a shock without her words. I kept waking last night picturing Sandy in Heaven, having the time of her life dancing with Jesus and being reunited with her mom and other old friends in all that bright heavenly light.

Yet I kept picturing Pete and his three adult children and their families without the woman who loved them with all her heart, too. The woman whose greatest joys, truly, were God and family. Pete without Sandy? It's hard for me to imagine such a thing.

Well anyway, I just wanted to share Sandy with you and to ask for your prayers for all of us who loved her and will miss her even as the years fly by.

Thank-you so much.



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Friday, May 27, 2011

For My Fellow House Hunters

So. Are you familiar with Trulia?

Truly, Trulia is my favorite way to house hunt online. All you do is pick a town in which you'd like to live, google its name, comma, its state abbreviation, comma, Trulia. You can also add 'overview' if you like.

Then click on the first thing that pops up and voila! That's when the magic happens. You'll be shown tons of acreage and houses for sale in your town of choice. No strings attached. No signing away your private information or your firstborn. heh.

At least, that's what I've discovered this past year while using Trulia. Sooo much easier than trying to find realtors online for a specific area and having to fill out forms and jump through hoops just to view houses for sale. If you find a house by way of Trulia, you can always contact a realtor later--usually a few are given below the house listings.

Plus, after I used the 'share with a friend' feature last week, Trulia now sends me similar houses to look at in my email box. Wow! It's like they are doing the searching work for me. Gotta love that.

I say all that because 1.) I know some of you, too, are searching for a new-to-you home and 2.) Today Trulia sent our dream house right to my email box.

Oh. My. Goodness. It's 95 percent perfect! It would be 100 percent right if it had a sun room and the price was a tad lower (being a professional cheapskate). Perhaps it has a sunny room?

And well, it you'd like to see my idea of the perfect house for Tom and myself, you can take a little walk-by and walk-through here.

Ahhh.... Love at first sight. Well, except for the Pepto-Bismal dining room. Eegads! Oh well, every house must have its What-Were-They-Thinking feature. I think it's a law now. :)

Anyway, playing house-hunting on Trulia is my favorite game. I thought you might like to play, too.



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If you click on 'view large photos' then look below the picture that first pops up, you'll see how the house looks with the trees full of leaves. It's a pleasant difference (but then, isn't it always?)

Another Dreamy Day

I snapped this picture of our little crab apple tree yesterday before we left. Oh, she smells sweet and has tiny roses all over her. (She also has band aids, sigh, because something attacked her inside her trunk, but she's strong and still looks lovely.)

Then we traveled through green, lush countryside, picked up lunch at a supermarket then drove farther to have a picnic with ggggg-grandpa at the cemetery where we ate and read books inside our sunny car.

Then miles and miles down the road we arrived at the tiny book cabin, a former voting booth from 1912. Have I ever shown you a picture? Well, here's one, but the sun was in the way of the best view:

I told you it was tiny! I carried three whole boxes of my books inside, my donations for all the books I've pulled from shelves there, then browsed a bit, buying just one, placing my coins, clang! Inside the can beside the door.


Then I walked around, taking more photos for you. Do these little buildings take you back to the 1930's or what? I love old signs like the one which says 'Men.' Ancient! And check out this sign which I consider rare...


How often are you told to park on the lawn?

All of these sit behind a tall, sturdy cobblestone museum, an 1800's church:



I took other photos in the quietness, but you get the idea.

We drove and drove some more to a guitar shop out there in the deep country on the edge of Rochester and left a guitar of Tom's there to sell on consignment. Then we headed back, pausing for an ice cream cone as we passed hundreds of old farmhouses which, for 18 years, have made me crazy with desire. But now? Now I gazed upon their old-fashioned beauty and their huge lawns and barns and thought, "Eh. They're nice, but they're not for me. Too much work. I'm ready for something new. Something else."

Oh, I watch myself changing lately and am scared and excited simultaneously. But mostly excited.

And because anything is possible on a gleaming countryside day, I came up with the craziest idea! "What if," I told Tom,"What if we sold our house, put all our money in the bank and our stuff into storage and then just took off in our car to travel across the United States? We could bring a tent, a comfy rolled-up foam mattress and our plug-in ice chest, then camp our way across. Visit friends old and bloggy-new. See Route 66. And do it all without having a real home. We'd just end the trip in the state we wish to live in, buy a house, then send for our stuff."

Ah, a day in the country can so easily spin dreams like those inside your head.

Happy sigh.





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Why dream inside a box? Most of us think and live inside that box of The Way Everybody Else Does It, but should we do our dreaming in there, also?


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kristi Said It Best...


Well, Grace must be all over me to move away because already--in just one day--I have two large boxes of books ready to take to that tiny (run-on-the-honor-system) book cabin in Childs, NY. Two boxes! And yesterday we got rid of my curbside-blessing leather Ralph Lauren chair and I moved a bistro set from our front porch to our patio. And cleaned and decluttered and--

Only with much Grace can I accomplish those sorts of things.

And then this morning Kristi's comments to my last post echoed so perfectly what I've meditated upon for two weeks:

"But it calls for putting too much energy into the work of the farm, and I think you need your energy in other places..."

Exactly!

While I prepared for our Nevada friends' visit I wanted so much to finish some fun decorating projects inside the house, yet my tiredness from all the yard work interfered. And that got me thinking--is a huge yard where I want to spend the bulk of my energy? Do I want to be a slave to a farm--really?

And well, my answers all came in various forms of, "No."

Truthfully? I'd rather be creative around the house. And read good books. Take long, fun drives with Tom. Write in this blog and perhaps write a book. Grow a small garden. Maybe do some volunteer work and invite friends over to 'get away from it all,' being more concerned with their welfare than my own energy depletion.

And yesterday I finally became brave enough to make a choice which better fits me.

What a relief already. Already I'm feeling less overwhelmed--and considering moving involves such stress--well, that's surely saying something! Facing moving to a whole other state, readying and selling this house and all that goes with that--at this moment--sounds more like a stroll in the park than running this farm for another year.

You realize God's often behind such a nonsensical thing when a person feels that crazy way, don't you? :)



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

(Or as the New Living Translation says, "The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?")



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Thanks so very much for your understanding comments! I appreciate them ever so much.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Waking From The Fog of Indecision




"A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." ... James 1:8


Good gracious. I am so slow.


Since February I've gone back and forth about putting this farm up for sale. This year or next year? This springtime or next? And then I'd try figuring-out the advantages of waiting or going ahead, second-guessing like a wild woman.

And in the meantime, negative things kept happening (I've shared many of them with you already) and I'd keep hearing this inside: "Just how bad do things have to get?" Over and over. And I'd look around at these green, lovely acres of a dream-come-true and think, "Bleh. It feels as though I'm living someone else's life. I don't even want to put in a garden this year(!)" Then I'd feel like an ungrateful brat and a sorry, wimpy woman, indeed.

But no more. Today Tom and I ate lunch out on the patio and I told him (for the 300th time) how one day I think we should sell this place now, then the next day I'm thinking we should wait. And how it's making me nuts.

I asked him, "What are you thinking?" And he replied, "I'm thinking we should move away in a year or less."

"A year or less?! Well, that means we must put it up for sale right now! Next April would be way too late, if that's the way you're feeling."

And you know? Finally (finally!) I felt some peace. Finally the decision was made--tomorrow I'll contact our favorite real estate agent and I'll ask her to come out here in two weeks. In the meantime, we'll finish various projects and do what we can to make this place sell-able.

And the other thing? We're going to stop trying to figure out the future and just how God is going to pull this off. We'll leave the hard stuff to Him. The headaches, also.

Good gracious. Here all along I've been preaching to people, "Sometimes you just have to step out to find out," yet there I was vacillating like a ping pong ball, back and forth, back and forth! And watching my double-mindedness spread like Laura Ingalls' grasshoppers and my peace fade like a painting in the sun.

As of next Monday, we will have owned this farm for three years, and you know? It's been a wild, three-year ride. And oh, we'll always be grateful we took this ride, yet now it's time to get off for obvious reasons and ones known only to God who sees our future and desires that we keep up with Him, that we remain in the safety of His timing and His plans for us.

Let the new adventure begin.





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Believe me, I know how much I have jerked you poor people around on this decision. And I do apologize. But today I'm committing myself to see this thing through. Finally.


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I so feel like this right now:

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ... Anais Nin

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ahhh... Saturday


Oh, our Saturday was the kind of day I dream about all winter.

We drove to yard sales in the countryside and then to ones back in our old hometown (even drove past our previous house for old time's sake). Everybody, everywhere was happy because it wasn't raining. Tom and I hardly bought anything, but oh! At one yard sale I found all the books, above, and for just 25 cents, each. A Scholastic Paperback fantasy find, indeed.

Here I am over 50 years old and those books still thrill my heart just as they did at age 10. I still recall being handed the latest Scholastic order forms and breathlessly reading the book descriptions then, later, bursting through the door at home, immediately begging my mom for two or three books. Then I'd count the days until my new books arrived, experiencing Christmas-like thrills when they were handed to me in an ordinary month like February.

Anyway, back here in 2011, in the middle of all the sales, Tom and I used a B1G1F coupon at Burger King then drove to the park nearby to the same spot I've parked in two-hundred times, most often alone, but many times with Tom. Oh the sunshine that day! It sparkled upon all the new green leaves and lawns as I ate my hamburger, drank my coffee and read one of my new books.

More yards sales, then an estate sale inside a basic, retro house with the most classic rumpus room in the basement with paneled walls, tiled floor, a fireplace and a bar for drinks and sodas. (You wouldn't believe how many of those we've walked through here! Never do we tire of them.) Then more driving through country roads until we arrived home where we even mowed the vast majority of the lawn, Tom on his tractor and me pushing around my trusty old lawnmower.

Yard sale days are here again.... Hooray!



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The other cool thing? Henry And The Clubhouse was my one Beverly Cleary book that I needed to replace because I'd bought a cheap copy in horrible shape last year (didn't care at the time because I just wanted my own copy!). But alas, now I have a nice retro copy, instead.

Desiring The Short List




So early this morning I knelt at our opened bathroom window (which starts low and rises high) and gazed at our green field and my prayed-for clothesline and greening trees and the marsh and back meadow and felt the amazing 70-degree-breeze upon my face.

I thought, "Ah, this is truly lovely! Truly! And yet, and yet... I know now that I don't need all this in order to be happy."

And that thought made me happy.

I'm thinking God wants my 'What I Must Have In Order To Be Happy List' to be, well, short. I mean, some peoples' WIMHIOTBH lists go on forever. Like, "I must have:

Extra money
A spouse
2.4 children
A great body
A beautiful face
Lots of friends
A big house (or a certain house)
A huge yard (and someone to care for it)
Sunny days
Perfect health
A college degree
An easy, great-paying job
An expensive (or certain) car
A library of amazing books
A vacation each year."


And that's just the top half.

But as for me? I'm thinking God desires that my own WIMHIOTBH list have, oh, one thing:


God.



That's it. As in, what if I lost everything? Well, I believe God wants me to know I'd be fine, happy, just as long as I still have Him. Just put me in a room, (a cell?) and then I could sing and meditate and talk with Him and remember how good He's been to me all these years. That's my goal.

But ok, I'm not quite there yet. Uh, no. Yet I so want to be at that heart place! That's what I'm aiming for. And you know? Lots of my 'must haves' over the years have fallen away like scales from a snake. I've shed them. But oh dear,, some of those scales still stick to me as though rubber-cemented on for, like, forever.

But there's been progress. And the great thing about God? He enjoys showing you the progress you've made. It's satan who enjoys playing the film of our mistakes and how very far we have left to go.

Yet, year by year, my own WIMHIOTBH list is shrinking. And that, in itself, makes me quite happy, indeed.





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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Annoying Ol' Transition

Usually I know what God wants me to do. You know, like where to live and how to fill my days and how to use my talents to bless others, etc. Or usually I think I know, anyway. heh. :)

But sometimes? Sometimes it suddenly feels like what once worked, isn't working anymore. Like Life feels one-dimensional, not as good as before and as though something is missing--but I just can't find that certain something.

And generally, (for me, anyway), that means I'm in transition. It means God has something new ahead for me, something He's been preparing me to handle and slip into. And oh! It's nearly always a happy day when I discover just what He's got in mind. When I discover that missing thing, that 'hidden ministry', and start splashing around it.

But oh dear.... the time until I get there! Meantimes can be uncomfortable, sticky, messy and a downright challenge to my sanity.

That is, when I fail to wait in the special Meantime Rest which He provides. In that rest, there is a calmness, a knowing that soon! He'll show me the missing piece. Soon, I'll discover what I need to know, where I need to go and what more I must do to be prepared when I get there.

But in the meantime? I just do the things I'm certain I should be doing. Like, although I currently feel totally immersed in a time of transition, I do know God wants me to write in this blog. So I'll keep doing that.

And I know He wants me to encourage people at Facebook and through emails--so I'll continue those things. I'm certain He wants me to keep up with my house and yard work,too, and being kind to Tom, Naomi and others so--in the midst of all the questions about my next steps--I'll keep doing the sure things.

And since lately He's asked me to step-up my Bible study, to walk at least four miles per week and to invite more friends over, I'll work on faithfulness in those newer areas, as well.

For there's one thing I've noticed in past transformational/transitional years--it's the way faithfulness in little things leads to more faithfulness and more steps toward God's personal goals for my life.

Sitting around all paralyzed and afraid to 'miss God' and make mistakes leads, well, to Nowheresville.

So now, for me in this transitional time, I'll begin a new journey with faithfulness in the old one. And I'll remain open to new places, new days, new ministries ahead. My present journey has been amazing and I'm believing my new one over on the other side will be even better.




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"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' ... Matthew 25:23



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"Sometimes you just have to step out to find out." ... Joyce Meyer

Friday, May 20, 2011

Time to Stretch. To Give Some More.

You know the way many people put all that work into Christmas and then get that let-down-feeling afterward?

Well, always marching to that different drum beat, I've got that let-down-feeling now. In May.

Gah. We had such a fun, whirlwind time with our Nevada friends and did all that sight-seeing and everything, and well, this week after their departure has dragged along. Doesn't help that the cloud bank outside has lifted only a few hours, either. Really doesn't help that this has--officially--been the rainiest Springtime ever in Buffalo's recorded history(!)

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

Hope springs eternal. I keep reminding myself of that.

I think I need some vintage time. To read my vintage teen romance books. To watch some episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show. To read my issues of 1920's and 30's The American Magazine. And to do some old-fashioned giving to others and being more concerned about their cloudy days than my own.

I would say that I need to spend more time with God, but gracious! I've been doing that in spades lately, and well, sometimes you've just gotta get up out of that chair and take Him with you to places where there are needs. It can't always just be Him and Me Against The World. No, it needs to branch out and become Him and Me Out To Encourage The World.

Yep, that sounds just right long about now, rather than dreaming of moving to a southern state (prematurely, out of God's timing) and starting a whole new life. My heart and Life Lessons and this little farm do need to be broadened and stretched and shared.

So maybe He and I will see you out there sometime soon along the Highways and Byways, ok? Watch for us. I'll be that Hobbit-like woman walking beside a great big glowy God. You can't miss us. :)




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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Just How Many Magazines Do I Really Neeeed?



So back in April I realized I'd be receiving just one more issue of Mary Jane's Farm Magazine. My subscription would end with the June/July issue.

At first, I felt sad. I'd subscribed for three years after also collecting the majority of the earliest issues when Mary Jane used to always include her catalog. But now, living in Unemployment Land, one has to rethink such purchases.

Yet almost immediately a little thought tickled my brain. It said, "Just how many issues of Mary Jane's Farm do you really neeeed anyway? Hmmm? You've got a huge stack of those magazines, some of which you've not even finished reading. Not to mention two of Mary Jane's thick books, also."

Good point, indeed.

So when my final issue arrived last week, well, I felt fine. Didn't whimper. Didn't have a single regret. I thought, "I'll just treasure that big stack of issues on our front porch, maybe even read through each one this summer."

Then I went even further. I introduced Donna and Galen to Mary Jane on Monday and sent them away with two issues of their choice.

I didn't whimper about that, either. And hey, you've gotta know how much I adore these magazines in order to get my point, which is, it feels so very good to keep your heart free from the Greedy Graspies. Life becomes more exciting, more fun in the flow---the flow of receiving and giving away what you've received. And knowing when to do each.

So. No more Mary Jane for now. But I'll be fine--better than fine, actually. God is good.






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Now, some of you sweethearts will be tempted to buy me a subscription to Mary Jane's Farm, but please (pretty please!) don't do that, ok? I really do feel God wants to show me I can live easily and happily without the latest issue. :)

(But thanks for thinking of doing that for me!)



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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Overwhelmingness Be Gone!



So last week I prepared and prepared for our friends' visit and thought, "Oh, I'll just never get everything done in time. I can't seem to finish anything."

And while I mowed the lawn I thought, "Gah! Here we go again. Another seven months of mowing these eternal acres in the sun and heat and humidity. I don't think I can do it all over again this time." I even turned off the mower, staggered to the house (because I'm so out of shape) and, panting, asked Tom, "Are you sure we shouldn't try moving this year, instead of next? I don't think I can keep up with the yard the rest of this year and then next year, too, while we're trying to sell the house."

Tom mostly just smiled and let me speak my tiredness. I collapsed into my computer chair and played a favorite game I call Searching For Real Estate. Then I thought about all the trouble that moving entails (selling the house, selling our junk, packing, hiring a moving company, buying another house, traveling there, unpacking, signing with utility companies, getting settled....yada, yada, yada). I told Tom, "Gah! It's like Choose Your Exhaustion. Choose to stay and be exhausted or choose to move and be exhausted, too."

Then I went back outside and mowed some more. And murmured a lot.

Good grief.

But alas! Friday morning I listened to good ol' Joyce Meyer as I do four days a week (or more) and she made the most awesome statement. (This is how I heard it--it may not be word for word):

"If you always go around thinking you can't do things, you will always feel overwhelmed."

Oh. My. Goodness! That was sooo for me, Mrs. Overwhelmed. No wonder I've been where I am. I mean, overwhelmingness defeats us, yet how many times since moving to this farm have I thought, "I can't keep up with this lawn. I can't keep up with housework. I can't keep up with meals. I can't handle Tom's being home 24/7."? Uh, try about a million.

Well, duh. I need to shut-up. To stop saying, "I can't do all this. It's all too much." I need to stop even thinking that--for if I don't--I'll continue to feel overwhelmed and experience a whole host of problems in its wake. And I won't enjoy this farm or even this precious Life which God has given me for just a few decades before Heaven.

And guess what? The rest of my preparation time for our weekend went better. Smoother, and with way less emotional and mental tiredness (which I believe spreads to physical tiredness) . Imagine that.

So thank-you, Joyce, for helping me once again. Probably time #398,412. I so needed to wake-up, to remember that through Christ I can do all things. With Him, there is no room for can't. No room for feeling overwhelmed. But plenty of space for the strength of joy for the journey.


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"From out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks."

"The joy of the Lord is my strength." Neh. 8:10


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(You may have missed my post about Galen and Donna's visit. You'll find it, below.)


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Absolutely love this song. Discovered it last night.


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Monday, May 16, 2011

Remembering A Rainy Weekend





Our friends are gone.


And you know? I love my normal. I do. And yet--and yet--I do love to play, too. And having dear friends share our home and the country drives with four, not just two. Fellowshipping with others who long to do only what God asks and aren't afraid to talk about His lessons and dearness.


Two-day vacations, eating out, seeing old things through others' eyes, sleeping upon our front porch beneath warm blankets and awaking with eyes uplifted to black skies outside of a big window, thinking, "Galen and Donna are here in our home!". Sharing our deep-green countryside, our food, the birds outside our dining room, walking beside dear old friends, laughing, smiling, thinking, doing touristy things.


And though it rained, drizzled cold and water drops the entire time and our days were spent beneath umbrellas and dark clouds--still--the hours filled themselves with fellowship warm, the conversation beginning where it left off seven years ago in faraway Nevada and ones in emails. Speaking of memories and making more to speak of in years ahead, knowing not when, but someday.


Our friends are gone and I am sleepy, adrenaline-spent, teary-eyed, but happy. So very happy and thankful, indeed.


Thank-you, Lord, for gifts so sweet, so undeserved.



Good gracious.... Kids, can you point and say "Hobbits"? :)



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Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger and Debra Are Back


Blogger is back!

But they ate my last post. Oh well, I wasn't real thrilled with it anyway. They're welcome to it.

Oh. Our. Weather! Gorgeous, perfect all week. I reveled in the sunshine and soft air, sat beneath the umbrella at our patio table in between yard work, housework and general puttering. Ironed on the patio again and read and stared at trees. Glorious.

Tomorrow our friends from Nevada arrive! Hopefully I'll post something in the morning, but after that? No guarantees. I may not make it back here until Tuesday. We'll see.

But you know? You will be here beside me. You always are. I take all 130 (or so) of you with me wherever I go and I write posts to you inside my head, phrasing words just so, correcting, making changes. I read in a Beany Malone book ages ago that that's what real writers do--even at night in bed they tweak sentences inside their minds until they're just right. So if you do that also, be encouraged! You are a real writer.

See you soon.




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Look closely at the above photo. You'll see my ironing board and iron out there on our patio. I add music from that French radio station and ironing becomes a lovely experience. :)
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Finding, Tweaking What Was Lost


So I've been outside rereading Anne LaBastille's Beyond Black Bear Lake. I do love how Anne is, again, reminding me to do what I must to keep my sanity. Though ok, that sounds extreme. Perhaps to keep my peace, to keep my ear leaning toward God in case He should wish to say something helpful. Or loving. Or even funny (though don't mention any of that to ultra-religious folks--they'll come cart me away).


But I'm getting back to that place, finding it again after having had to tweak not only my life but, well, who I am since last August when Naomi moved back home and Tom lost his job. In fact, guess who's spent the majority of this week outside beneath the patio umbrella, reading? And out in the garden pulling up weeds? And mowing, making campfires and spray-painting patio furniture?


Yes, me. In fact, uh, you won't believe what I've been doing this morning. No, you just won't. But well, I lugged my ironing board, iron and wrinkly clothes out to the patio and I've been ironing out there for all the world to see. With classical music playing, even, from the garage. Of course, the neighbors will be talking about me over the dinner table (hey! I would talk about that, too), but who cares? I'm outside. And that's what matters after that long, cold winter we had with the three of us hibernating within these four walls. And me absolutely craving alone time and my own schedule and my lost little world, the one I walked through within a dreamlike state for the first 31 years of homemaking days of my marriage.


Learning to lovingly accept interruptions--now there's a test! To pause when I was just getting moving, to switch gears in the middle of longed-for delights, to walk when I'd rather run or run when I'd rather walk. Such tests, indeed.


Well, I'm still working on all that. But you know? I'm getting there. I'm 'letting my needs be made known,' not only to God, but to Tom and Naomi, as well. My own little world is reforming itself, righting itself and being reshaped, albeit slowly (eight months and counting), into something we all can live with.


Oh happy, happy day.


So most likely, if you drop by my house, you'll find me outside. With a great big smile upon my face. Drop by anytime.










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Monday, May 09, 2011

Photos From The Farm



Tap tap tap.... Is this thing on?

Heh. (I've always wanted to say that.)

Anyone want to see some photos of my world? In the one above, I've been adding more color to our patio. Some people can make shades-of-white-on-shades-of-white look all dreamy, Victorian and magical. I am not one of those people. So, alas, I'm slowly adding color.


Took this one today. Don't you just love the light of noontime sunshine?


But early evening light is nice, too. Took this one late yesterday of the sunny side of the house (as I call it).

Also yesterday evening--the magnolia tree all glowy.

Now look closely--there's a baby rabbit in that photo; he's part of the family who lives beneath our woodpile outside of the kitchen window. Oh, those babies are adorable! (And more animals around here whose safety we worry about. Alas.)

And here's one of the amazing Canadian geese who often visit our yard. Yesterday he and the wife strolled side by side, taking a leisurely Sunday stroll past our winter lake and down through our neighbor's yard beneath overhanging trees. So sweet.

And finally our forsythia bush a few days ago.

Hope you enjoyed the tour! :)

Winter, Being So Very Over...



Oh, are you celebrating?

Our days shine with sun and 60 perfect-for-working degrees and I sit upon the concrete of our patio and plant seeds into pots, labeling plastic spoons, then rising, I sweep dirt away, dancing with my broom to the 1940's songs from the radio in the garage.

And with snacks and books at the patio table I keep gazing, turning here, there, staring at crowds of trees, watching them greening ever so slowly, not wanting to miss one moment. When I reach Heaven God just may ask, "Did you see the Spring I colored for you? Really see it?"

Or did I see only problems, imperfections, slights?

Oh, this time of year! Work does not feel like work, no, it feels like winter dreams coming true. The planting with sunshine upon my back and frog song and geese landing from the sky. Pink blossoms floating down from the magnolia tree, the privilege of dropping into a wicker chair with tired bones and sun upon my grateful face. Inhaling heady new-leaf scents till I'm tipsy, lulling myself into a near-nap beneath all the magic.

Ah Spring! It's not extra money. Not a raise in position, nor singing or teaching before crowds nor appreciation. Not exotic vacations like our friends take, not winning groceries for a year nor a bigger house or a college diploma. It's a God kind of gift, though, invisible to some, yet I am determined to pull back any curtain so to examine every inch of it so all my answers in Heaven will be a resounding, "Yes!" ...

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Parts of My Mother's Day Weekend

Homemade-last-night
(organic, vegan, gluten-free, ultra-delicious)
chocolate candy from Naomi
and lilies of the valley, too,
before she left for work
this bright early morning.

Yard sale and church rummage
adventures with Tom
on Friday and Saturday
(bought two lovely books),
clam chowder patio picnic here
then planted tiny trees with him
out on a sunny patio
("This is fun," he said).

Some worry and sadness
about an old, sick McCartney the Cat
who looked and ate better
this morning, so thanking God.
Breakfast on a gleaming front porch,
phone call to my mom
who still sounds happy-out-of-her-mind,
which makes me happy, too.

And while Tom made chicken burritos
(surprise, surprise!) I played
new Christian radio tunes on the patio--
stood still and two Canadian geese landed
almost in front of me, honking,
so, not to scare them,
I moved away to the orchard
and pulled weeds
then scrubbed-out birdbaths.
And thanked God some more.
And thanked God some more.




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Happy Mother's Day to each of you mothers and caretakers and all who guide us through this life in ways large and small.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

When You Feel Like a Weed Pile



See that ugly thing?

That's our weed pile.

For two years I've dumped weeds of all sorts on that pile, ugly, brambly, sticky, prickly weeds get tossed there along with assorted broken twigs, cardboard and newspaper.

I've always thought it was ugly, wished I could hide it or just carry all weeds out to our woods but if I did that, I'd die. That's quite a hike, would involve hundreds of trips out there and would exhaust me, especially since I've got lots of other chores to do around the yard. Always.

Yes, it's ugly. Always has been.

But guess what? Last week,underneath all the weeds and the ugliness, I discovered something of beauty. What was it? Dark, rich compost made possible by all that natural heat underneath burning away the weeds and their pesky seeds and leaving, instead, tons of lovely, useful soil to mix with garden dirt and add richness to ground depleted of nutrients.

Got the lesson yet? Sometimes we all feel (and maybe even look) like weed piles.

We feel like everybody is dumping weeds and junk upon us. People everywhere tell us bad news. Appliances break down, things get lost or broken. Family and friends share their complaints. People point out our mistakes and tell us what's wrong with us. Repeatedly. We long to do things right, but we fail. Daily. God even spends time convicting us, but we turn it into condemnation--and hang our heads.

Then, just when we think we're getting it, like we're finally doing great, speeding along on track and understanding what God is doing, suddenly! Bad things fall upon us all at once. Whoosh! Like a big load of weeds just buried us again. And we see it as a bad thing, something to get through, something to survive.

But oh, underneath it all--when we keep open hearts and learn our lessons--something wonderful is happening. The Refiner's fire is burning, turning the junk, the weeds into something lovely, usable and valuable. Something which can be spread and shared with souls who feel so depleted of anything good. People who have given up. People who don't understand what is happening during the weed pile stages of their lives.

Deep down inside us there is a fire burning, even when all the weeds dumped upon us feel more real. But true faith walks by the light of things unseen, not by sight. True faith always learns, always grows and always believes that there's new life being formed in secret, unseen places where God never stops working.

All He asks is that--while He's creating--we don't run from the heat, don't struggle away, but instead, let the fire do its purifying work to make an eternal thing of usefulness and beauty.

The Less Money, More Creativity Planet


So this past December I would watch all these Christmas tv commercials for ipads, ipods, cell phones with big-time bling and all that other electronic stuff and I'd think, "Wow. It feels like Tom and I live on some other whole planet. We can't even think about buying that stuff now, what with Tom's being out of a job and all."


But you know? It's a good, mind-bending challenge to live on this other planet. The main thing here? Keep it all a fun, creative challenge. And never feel sorry for yourself, what with the extra work you must put into stretching those dollar bills. For once you start pitying yourself, your family, well, you're sunk. That is, until you can pull yourself back up someday from pity mire.


And why go there?


No, I'm choosing to dwell in possibilities. I've returned to where I used to live years ago--to a land where creativity and making-do are vital as the air you breathe. A place where it's all about enjoying the search.


Like, the search for those gallons of 'mistake paint' at hardware stores which enable me to paint whole rooms for under $5, including the paintbrushes.


And the search for grocery coupons which help me save one-third (or even one-half) from my grocery bill. The search for yard sales where I can buy nearly everything I need for the house for a teensy fraction of its new cost.


The search for online recipes so to make lots of creative somethings from the nothings in my cupboards. Searches for tasty meat-less meals. And searches for ways to make some pocket change through online survey sites and places like Swagbucks.


The search at my local library for free books showing me how to live and decorate and take day trips cheaply. Free books for relaxing, adventurous reading, too. The latest magazines and free movies to watch at home, as well.


The search online for just about any information imaginable! From health and automotive and gardening to decorating, sewing and living within your (tight) means.


On this other planet I'm learning what is necessary and what is just plain extra (and unneeded for true happiness). I'm learning that simple things are the best things and if all I have are simple things, well, then I'm most blessed among women.


I'm learning to keep the search, the daily living at a joyful, appreciative level. To not resent what others own (and blog about with grand photos), but to be happy for their blessings--for that is how God would want it.


And I'm learning it's not actually the ecomony that defeats us, but rather, our own heads and the give-up spirit. The fearful spirit, also, which keeps us from giving to others, for always, it is in giving that we receive.


May I never resent my years spent upon this other planet, but rather, may I appreciate the creative spirit they squeeze from the deepest parts of me, making me into a more imaginative, grateful person all-around. One who can spread that same light to others who live here, also, but only if she keeps it shining within herself, first.








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Other ways to save:




Barter with friends and neighbors for everything from babysitting to meals to errands and beyond.


Check out thrift shops. Sell things through consignment shops and places like CraigsList. Have a yard sale or take some clutter to a local flea market to sell. Watch for the free items through your local Freecycle online.


No nearby major supermarket chain? Make a big shopping trip once a month to stock-up on groceries at the nearest good-size community. Don't forget all your online coupons--they'll more than pay for the extra gas money. Spend the day there and shop for inexpensive clothing and other necessary items your local town does not offer. (Barter some babysitting if you have children--you'll save money if they stay home during those monthly shopping trips. It takes great concentration to do all the math necessary, especially at supermarkets. My brain gets a total workout every two weeks there!)




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My favorite Online Survey Sites:




Ipsos I-Say


My Survey


Opinion Outpost




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Some favorite sites for grocery coupons (The Krazy Coupon Lady has the very best coupon data base, imo):


Red Plum


Smart Source


Coupons.com


Coupon Cabin


Saving Naturally


Coupon Dad


Money Saving Mom


The Krazy Coupon Lady








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"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow." -Ronald Osborn




Really use what you own, what you have. Including the head God gave you. :)