Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Saturday Treat

Oh, I have a treat for you today.

I met Cheryl way, way back when I was 14 and she was 13 and she has always been the sweetest thing since chocolate cake. Well, this past week Cheryl became a grandmother for the very first time and so at Facebook (where lovely reunions and sharings of joy happen everyday) she showed us this photo of her and her husband first meeting their tiny, new grandson. Now prepare yourself, for this is one lovely picture:

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Oh my. Do you love that? As her aunt (who I've also known nearly 40 years) said at Facebook, the raw emotion shows through. And what a sweet baby, too.

I adore that photo and I just wanted to share it with those of you who understand why. We all get slapped with tons of bad news online and so I believe we need extra, mega-doses of good news to remind us that, yes, right and sweet and holy things still take place every single day.

Never let anyone steal your joy. Instead keep it, enjoy it--then spill it over onto others all over the place.

Have a blessed Saturday. Let's all count how many things are going right today.



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Cheryl's mom and I kept in-touch by way of snail mail for more than 30 years and now we can chat any time we wish by way of Facebook. Jeanette is one of the blessings nearest the top of my blessings list.


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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Good News

Guess what? Cher did work some magic and the deal is back on. (See my last post if you have no idea what I'm talking about.)

We'll lower our asking price by $1,500, keep (well, sell the tractor we were going to throw into the deal) and our buyers will come up with an additional $4,000 for a downpayment which will make its way to us. It's a fair compromise.  As I've been saying all along, they really, really want this house.  Frankly, they're welcome to it.

Now, if the above paragraph still makes little sense to you, please don't ask me to further explain because I only partially understand the concept of the legal details. All I know is that we're proceeding, we'll meet Cher at our usual spot (our milkman's restaurant at the back of his farm which is a good halfway point for us and Cher) and we'll hope no other glitches sneak in.

Just thought I'd let you know.... Thanks so much for your prayers! I think Tom and I passed this test--no one threw a temper tantrum, nobody begged God over and over for his/her own will to be done nor made silly, frantic promises. We stayed peaceful and viewed it all as a win-win situation.

Maybe we're finally catching-on after all. Growing-up.  Maybe.


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Trouble Down On The Farm. Well, Kinda.

Uh-oh. Rough times again.

The bank appraisal was re-evaluated and they are not budging. It's still coming in $5,500 less than the price we'd settled on with our buyers.

We can't do that. That was the money we needed to make Hobbit Cottage more winter-friendly and it's not like we have tons of money coming in to make up for that, at least not right now.

So you know? Tom and I sat here yesterday (downing vanilla Oreos since my head can't handle chocolate anymore--how unfair is that at times like these?) and discussed just forgetting this whole thing. Just staying here until we move out-of-state.

I mean, hey--Naomi found an apartment and will move away next week so I'll get Upstairs Land back to myself. And I've been feeling more peaceful about this place all week. Tom promised to do more of the mowing outside, himself (yeah, I'll get that in writing and lest you think that sounds odd, hey! He asked me to put a few things in writing, like I promise not to get all crabby if we must stay here, etc.). And he can even have the whole living room as his official man cave. I don't care anymore--just give me a getaway of my own upstairs and I'll be fine.

We'd still hold the huge yard sale and live here with less stuff--so much so--that the walls would echo (I can dream.) And we'd still rescue two more cats. Soon.

But then Tom spoke with Cher on the phone.

And long story short, she's going to try to make this work so that everybody's happy. Good luck to her, but hey-- if anyone can do that, Cher (Super Realtor) can.

So we shall see what we shall see.

What I'm grateful for? I've learned not to hold anything by its throat, whining, "If I can't have ________ then I cannot be happy ever."

I know better than that. I've been taught better by my years and experiences and by God, Himself.

No, there's only one 'thing,' one Person who I must have in order to be happy.

And I think you all know just Who that is.

Stay tuned.



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The movie, The Source Code, is arriving today via Netflix. Oh my, perfect timing! I've longed to see that film since the first mili-second I saw the advertisement, for that's probably always been my favorite genre of film--I'm talking since I was a kiddo watching hokey Sci-Fi on Saturday afternoons.

Anyone else see it? Without giving anything away, what did you think? :)


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"My times are in your hands, oh Lord..."  ... Psalm 31:15


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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Found a Nifty Cookbook. An Octagon House, Also.

I found this oh-so-nifty cookbook at an outdoor church sale one glorious Saturday last month and just had to share it with you. Published in 1950 by the Ford Motor Company, it has amazing illustrations of famous eating places, many of which I've looked up online and found that they're still in business all these 60 years later!

(I'm trying to forgive Blogger for turning these photos the wrong way. Gah. If you're willing to turn your head sideways you can get a better look if you click to enlarge.)


Really, it's such fun looking through this book at the artwork. I've not even paid attention to the recipes yet!


Just thought I'd share this with you. Rather a great deal for only 50 cents, right? Especially on a lovely summer afternoon there outside the church up on a hill, standing alone, overlooking the valley. Tom and I bought hot dogs and chocolate chip cookies there then sat in the car (in the shade) and read our new books. Then we were off again because this countryside town was having an annual town-wide yard sale day. We've had hundreds of such fun, memorable days together and I am grateful.


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Oh, and during The Great House Search of 2011, we traveled for the first time to a town even more in the middle of nowhere than ours and saw this amazing house:


Even prettier in-person, it took our breath away. You can read about its interesting history here. Click on the link at the bottom for a few photos from inside the house, too.


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Monday, July 25, 2011

What I'm Watching (Please Be Kind...)

Oh! I forgot to tell you something.

Most likely because it's so embarrassing to do so.

But here goes: Last week I began instant-Netflixing the tv series, Man v. Food.

There, I said it. Whew. (Wasn't sure if I could admit it to you. We are talking major guilty pleasure here. Major.)

Oh my, goodness .. I love that show! Really. But the odd thing? It flies in the face of everything I believe and have preached about food. Everything. But yeah, yeah.... Still, I love watching the host, Adam, travel around to all these diners, eating the yummiest-looking junk food your eyes ever beheld.

He even takes these challenges--eats a ton of bbq (or whatever fill-in-the-blank) in order to win t-shirts and/or to have his picture put up on a wall.

Oh dear. While Adam (who's hilarious and makes me laugh out loud) is eating all that fatty, cheesy, salty stuff, I pray for him. I pray that he (and his fellow diner-visitors) will get some common sense and stop eating that way so that he'll live past 40.

But yeah, I'm praying while I'm watching the guy stuff down all that food. I've almost completed the whole first season and I can't get over how it's almost like tasting all that food, myself. Well, not all of it, because hey! I would never eat all of that fried, buttery, chewy, delectable--uh--food. But oh my, the reckless part of me which so appreciates comfort food can nearly taste sane amounts of those bbq'd ribs and the burgers and steaks, myself. I mean, the milkshakes Adam drank today! I almost wiped away the coffee milkshake moustache from my own mouth afterward. (Hey, I said almost.)

Gah. I  know I shouldn't like that show. I know it stands for everything in the food world gone wrong. I know it's a sin to eat like a proverbial pig.

But still I watch. And I thought I should confess this to you on my 7th blogiversary, of all days.

Forgive me.  :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Other Side of Decluttering

Okay. Lest you think (after reading my last post) that it's a cinch for me to fling everything away during The Great Decluttering of 2011, let me say this:

Sometimes it almost physically hurts to let go of my stuff.

Really. The hardest things for me to release? My books, dvd's and people's gifts, especially Naomi's. Though I'll add here that Naomi is the most amazing gift-giver I've ever known, personally--her gifts contain incredible thought and insight into what I really want and need--so it's a rare gift of hers that lands in the to-sell-box. So there is that. Thank-goodness.

But oh! Each time I sit down amongst piles of my books, determined to get ever-so ruthless and cull them down to only those I adore, well, that's when the heart pain begins. Oh, my books! And yet I do long to be sensible in this area--to keep not only those I will read over and over, but only those for which I have shelving.

And that's rough. And going through my dvd's is even more difficult sometimes, because movies and tv series characters can even more easily feel like dear old friends. Just one look at a dvd case and I recall the times I slipped that dvd into the player and found comfort there from trying times in The Real World.

Books or dvd's--to get rid of them can feel like one is shoving an old friend out the front door forever. You know, kinda like a death.

So see? I have my decluttering issues, too. And I just wanted to make sure you knew that.

What helps? Reminding myself of the airy, free feeling over on the other side of having decluttered a room/closet/drawer. I do appreciate and treasure that feeling, the knowing that what's left is what I love and/or desperately need, with not much at all in between to muddy those fresh (decluttered) waters. And that someone else out there in the universe is now enjoying what I've outgrown, what I no longer require to keep me 'fixed.'

There is all that, too. And I think it's called growing-up.



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


... William Morris



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So far I've given away 3 boxes of books and have 1 more ready to sell. Besides a handful of some I've not read yet (and may be able to discard), I'm down to the ones which physically make me ache (and a tad dizzy) when considering letting them go. It must be nearly time to stop discarding in the book area.


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So on these hot days I'm reading like crazy and yesterday I finished the second book in the 'Claire series', Claire Knows Best. Adored it like the first one and now as I'm reading the third book, I Love Claire, I'm just as delighted and impressed!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Decluttering My Way to Freedom

Actually? I am loving the decluttering process. Stuff some yard sale boxes and bags with old clothes, dishes and knick-knacks I've not worn or used in three years and, instantly, I feel downright virtuous.

There is a rhythm to purging a home, a life, of useless clutter, a rhythm nearly like music, music which makes one feel weightless, as though she can soar.

Or something like that.

Do you remember my 1960's-bicycle post? It's one of my favorites in 7 years of gathering stories for my blog. (This weekend marks 7 years of doing so. Seven years--yikes! How long-winded I must be.)

Anyway, when God brought that bike to me, (practically right to my front door), I adored Him for His kindness and I really loved that bicycle, too. I celebrated God's goodness by taking bike rides around our suburban block and smiled and felt ten-years-old all over again. Amazing, all of it.

But then we moved to the country, I stored the bike inside our barn, and it's leaned there against the chicken roost-thingy for three years.

Three whole years. (Though ok, twice I sat it near my garden for effect when we had guests. But hey.)

So you know what that means, don't you? When we have our big yard sale next month, I will sell my pretty, blue, God-given bike.

It's time. And even though we're moving back to the 'burbs, I now know myself well enough to realize I won't ride that bicycle there, either. I plan on doing much walking, ok, but no bike-riding and besides--we won't have room for it in our tiny garage. Not really. So the bike needs to go.

But will my grateful memories of that bicycle go with it? Am I being disloyal to God for releasing His obvious gift to me? Of course not. No, the amazing memories are safely tucked away in here, inside my head as well as in this scrapbook known as a blog, and those memories are going nowhere. That gift was for a special place upon the timeline of my life, a very specific time, and God and I both realize that. The giving away of that bicycle gift will dim nothing.

Always we are letting go of something, that is, if we're growing and moving-on at God's rate of speed. His plans for us are never stagnant, stale or moldy. No, He wishes to move us forward with a lightness of heart that enables us to fly--and meet with Him somewhere above all the heaviness of this present world. A special place, a joyful one, somewhere between Earth and Heaven, somewhere where it's just us and Him and all is well. Very, very well, indeed.

A place where we are free from encumbrances which tie us down to this sad ol' sorry world of 2011, a better place just this side of Heaven.


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Friday, July 22, 2011

Darn Ol' Tests

Happy days are here again.

Not.

Heh.

Nah, this is all not a big deal. It's just that yesterday I had to spend the day at the desk in our kitchen, reading mostly, because it was the only room cooler than 87 degrees. Well, the bathroom actually has the one-room air-conditioner (which blows into the kitchen) and felt quite cool, of course, but who wants to spend the entire day in there?

And truly, there are worse ways to spend a summer day than spending hours reading, making lunch and washing dishes in a kinda-air-conditioned kitchen. I understand that. It's just that confining feeling which bothers me, the one that taunts, "Leave this small cell room and you'll die." That, and having to limit my computer time. :)

Anyway.... Tom  had to leave at 6:30 last night to travel to our former town so he could pick up our (much procrastinated) 2010 tax receipts from our tax guy and of course, right after he left, Cher (our real estate lady) called with some bad news. The (kinda sullen) bank appraisal lady from Tuesday appraised our house at $5,500 less than our asking price.

Good grief. And here we'd though we were being generous with that sale price.

But as I told Cher, I'd been concerned that said bank appraiser didn't even step into our (expensive-to-build) garage we'd added on and did she even notice all the other improvements we'd made since the last appraisal in 2008? Then I told Cher, "Well, I don't think she went inside the garage. Hmm... I should ask Tom when he gets back." Cher said do that because that could mean something good for us later.

Chalk up yet one more test. I mean, Tom is nearly always home (baking in the living room at his computer), yet the one time he drives away for an errand, Cher called. With bad news. And I had to wait until he got home to tell him about it.

Oh these tests, especially the patience ones. They come hot and heavy. They annoy me. But still, I try to pass them with peace and faith because--once you pass them--they do become easier the next time. At least, that's the theory. So I waited and cleaned the house (slowly) and waited and cleaned the house and, finally, Tom arrived home. He called Cher (and no, he didn't see the appraiser step into the garage), we found the original appraisal paperwork from 2008 and Cher promised to try to work some magic for us today.

Of course, the other test is test is to believe God will provide the extra $5,500 we'll need to buy Hobbit Cottage--if it comes to that. But you know? I can believe for that. Believing for God's monetary provision is one thing I've had to do since I was a little girl growing-up in a Baptist minister's home when that's pretty much all we did--believe for money. heh. So that test isn't as hard for me since I've experienced 45 (or so) years of financial miracles.

But it was the other thing--the thing of Cher calling with bad news as soon as Tom drove out of the driveway when he'd been here all day long. Those tests make me bonkers. And that, of course, is why I still experience them. They won't cease (or won't stop bothering me) until I start passing them, until I stop moaning, "Why does this always happen? Why can't we get these calls when we're both here? And where is Tom anyway?" They won't stop until they no longer zap my peace and make me roll my eyes.



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John 14:27


Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]

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"You will remember all the way the Lord your God led you in the desert these forty years, to humble you, and how He tested you to know what was in your heart to see if you would keep His commandments or not." Deuteronomy 8:2

For a more detailed post about tests, here's one I wrote years ago.


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Thursday, July 21, 2011

First, Run To God, Then ...


God. Who's crazy enough to try to explain Him?

Only silly people like me. :)

I've noticed something kinda wild. When I'm having the hardest, most traumatizing times in my life, friends stop emailing me. I get almost no comments here at my blog. My life goes all radio silence people-wise.

(Insert crickets chirping here.)

 You know, rather like that tv commercial where the couple buys a new refrigerator then-- when the delivery guy leaves--they realize they forgot to ask about a guarantee (or something) so they race out the door to catch him, but alas! Outside there's only an expanse of desert sand. And silence.

But hey! I've got God figured-out on this one.

See, it used to upset me that just when (I believed) I needed people the very most, poof! they disappeared. Vanished, leaving me to wander around to discover some comfort on my own. And then eventually, I'd wander to God and find deep healing from my pain from His cool, healing pools.

And ok, because I'm so slow to comprehend these things, it required years to see that was God's best plan for me. That I would seek Him first. Find my best healing in His arms. I even figured-out that it's probably God, Himself, who closes the eyes and ears of my friends from my hardest times, at least until I've sought Him for comfort, first.

After all, He can be funny that way.

So hey, years ago I stopped getting mad at my friends (which only destroys progress) for their cluelessness to my emotional aches and pains. There's no need for that because I've got God figured-out on this one thing, at least. Go to Him first, Debra. Run to the Throne instead of the phone (heh. Another Joyce Meyer classic line.)

Now, can God help comfort us through our friends? Of course He can. We do, after all, need each other and He's put us together for a reason. But what I've found? Even dearest friends cannot help and comfort me as completely, as powerfully, as the Friend who sticks closer than a brother.


And that's ok. I no longer expect them to.


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"You shall have no other gods before me... For I, the Lord, am a jealous God."


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Oh! I dscovered a James Taylor and Mark Knopfler song this morning. If you like great guitar stuff and harmonies, you'll enjoy this.


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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Of God's Timing, Not Mine

So. I forgot to tell you that we're no longer planning to move to a southern state when we retire. As in, a state located below this one.

That is, if we ever get out of New York. (Fortunately, I still love this state, though Tom is undecided. Depends upon which day you ask him.)

But anyway, finally I convinced Tom he just wouldn't be able to handle the humidity in places like North or South Carolina. I mean, we'll walk away from a yard sale, back to our car, and he'll whimper exclaim, "Wow! I can't believe how humid it is today!" Then I'll say (me, who can barely deal with humidity), "Are you kidding? This is nothing. It's cool and breezy. Didn't even notice it was hot. And you think you'd survive the South??"

Well, that's been going on a few years now and finally Tom saw the proverbial light. He's now thinking more western-like for our retirement.

So after we settle into Hobbit Cottage we'll take our time and check-out all those Best Places to Retire lists online. Do our own research, listen to God's whispers and most likely, "Go West, old couple."  heh

It's a relief though, that we're realizing faith requires unanswered questions because you know, don't you, how we folks can be? We want to know ahead of time. We want answers. Where will we end up retiring? When will we get there? What will happen to us there? How will we afford it? Who, what, where, when, why? That's the human side of us.

But the spiritual, godly, trusting side says, "It will be well with my soul. And everything's gonna be all right."

I mean, hey! For years I (seriously) believed it would take us anywhere from 2 months to 2 years to sell this farm. But what did it take? Four days. Yep, put a house up for sale when God says, "Go for it! Why wait?", and well, you never know. Miracles just might happen.

And that's what I remind myself when I begin to (already, sheesh!) doubt our future ability to sell Hobbit Cottage when we're ready to leave good ol' New York. It's one small house! Yet God reminds me there's a very real trend for people to downsize these days--He even makes certain I run across lots of online news stories which confirm that. But more, He keeps reminding (ol' still too doubtful) me what matters most is that we sell when He says sell and that we trust Him to find us a buyer.

... that we don't just include Him in our plans, no! But rather, that we follow His plan, instead.

Life looks and feels so differently when God is calling the shots. This is what I am learning.


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"In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths."


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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Time to Get Up, Time to Heal

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


Kind-of a weird verse to share, right?

But you know? This verse often comes to me after I've spent time grieving over a death (the length of grieving time varies). But sometimes? Sometimes I also recall that verse after I've kicked myself a few days after my latest mistake. After I said something I shouldn't have. After my release of a Past thing (good or bad) is way overdue.

Joy. We need to joy to survive this 2011 life which can become so hard. Why? Because the joy of the Lord is our strength. Joy keeps us going when others just drop in the road and quit.

Yet what do we often do, instead?

We squeeze grief like it's the holy thing to do. We get odd ideas that to stop grieving for a lost loved one or a lost dream/opportunity/possession is to lessen its importance so we build a combo Tower of Babel/Temple over the site of our loss--and worship there. Or we carry around our guilt like huge bags upon our backs because we don't deserve joy.

We dedicate our lives to paying. Paying for our losses or our sins.

Well, either Jesus paid for what's wrong in this world--and our sins--or He didn't. Either He brings healing, or He doesn't

And well, He did. He does. He paid for it all, he still heals hearts and so what remains is for us to receive that payment. And the healing, too. To choose them over any past-their-date griefs.

"...the Lord said to Joshua, "Moses My servant is dead. So now arise, go ... you and all this people, into the land which I am giving to them."  Joshua 1:1,2


I love that, I really do. Why? Because there comes a time to end our mourning and move onto new places, otherwise we condescend to live without joy and that leads to living without strength--and we become weaklings. You know, everything overwhelms us, everything is too hard, everything is too sad.

So God, for our sakes, commands us to take up our mourning beds and walk, walk back into joy and strength and abundant life. But does He just tell us? No, He enables us to get back up. A nudge from God includes the power to rise again and move on, to let go of the Past and move on to an even better life ahead. That nudge contains all the power, all the joy, all the strength we need.



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Isaiah 55:12


For you shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.


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Again, God's not saying we shouldn't grieve at all (I once heard an evangelist preach that God does say that(!) ), but rather, there comes a time to end the grieving and move on in joy to special places He wants to take us.


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Oh! Susan Branch shared her Peter Rabbit Room today. Love it.


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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Another Suddenly!

"And the Lord shall make you the head, and not the tail; and you shall be above only, and you shall not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord ... and are watchful to do them."  ... Deuteronomy 28:13

 
My oh my... it was one rough week around here, around the inside of my head, especially. I so felt beneath things and as though I was the tail of everything and certainly not the head of anything. Overwhelmed by even simple mentions of easy chores and I kept quoting Peter Walsh's, "It's all too much!" and tried to explain to Tom how I felt like just a shell of my former self, weaker than weak inside my head.
 
But he didn't really get it. (Does any man ever? Probably not.)
 
I even told him (while we were out sailing along the countryside yesterday) that I didn't care how long we stayed out because I just didn't want to go home. He asked why not and I said, "Well, you know I don't like to make these 'bad confessions,' but I hate that farmhouse. And that yard. I hate how I feel at that place. And mostly? I hate what Life has done to me while we've lived there."
 
Yes, I said that. It's called being truthful. It's called being tired of cats dying and old friends dying, also, all too close together. It's called living where you don't belong and dragging yourself around year after year trying so hard to stay positive, but finally giving-in and accepting the truth which happens to be, well, negative.
 
Tsk, tsk. I know.
 
But still, I held on, kept believing for change. Kept quoting things like, "Complain and remain, praise and be raised." With last bits of waning strength, I reminded myself that someday I'd feel good and normal again (though a couple times, I did wonder....).
 
And then another Suddenly! (Don't you just love those 'suddenly verses'? You know, "And suddenly there was with them a great host of angels" or "Suddenly there was an earthquake and the doors of the prison opened wide." One thing was one sad way then suddenly! It changed forever in a simple moment.)
 
 Well, there I was this morning draped across the loveseat in my Mom Cave, reading the book Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield, when I finished it, brought my eyes up from the page and then suddenly! I felt fine. Not beneath anything. Not under. No longer feeling as though I'd rolled (and rolled!) back down the mountain God spent years pushing me up. No, suddenly my head rose woosh! above the waters of gloom and into Light.
 
It was subtle--no angels singing, no noise of any kind-- but it was awesome. Made me shake my head with wonder. And I've felt like good ol' Debra ever since. All these ten hours later I feel normal, ready for anything and especially ready to get my new/old life back when we move to Hobbit Cottage.
 
Happy, happy day.
 
I'm sharing that to say this simple thing: 'Suddenly miracles' do still happen. But that flicker of Hope Light must keep burning while we wait for them. They need not be explained or begged-for or figured-out, but rather, only accepted, with gratitude, when they arrive.
 
And if you need a Suddenly, may yours come very, very soon.
 
 
 
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Today a pair of real-live bluebirds spent some time at Tom and Debra's Outdoor Bird Restaurant. We were excited! Our first sighting, ever.


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Oh, and for just $1 at a yard sale yesterday, I bought Threading The Needle by Marie Bostwick. Devoured it. And the godly lessons tucked inside pleasantly surprised me.

And remember my mention of Leave It To Claire? I immediately ordered the next two in the series because of that book's excellence (our library system didn't have either, so I used my amazon gift card from that thingamajig in my sidebar. Thanks again for your help with that!)


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"While you’re on your way to where you’re going, enjoy where you are. Don’t wait until everything is perfect before you decide to enjoy your life."  ... Joyce Meyer

Friday, July 15, 2011

Just Checking-In

Exactly! That's how I feel about our having taken a leap and done the farm thing.

(A special thanks to Crystal at Money Saving Mom blog for that photo.)



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P.S. Still healing. It's taking some time, what with all the deaths and stress of the past 5 months. Sigh.

Though yesterday we did go out to lunch with our friends, John and Donna, and that was cathartic and fun. Then today Tom and I went to yard sales where I bought just one thing-- a copy of Fix It And Forget It, a crockpot cookbook for just 25 cents. Then we had a picnic at the park, but for the second time in a week, I've had an all-day headache because of eating chocolate ice cream the previous day. Not a super-painful headache, mind you, one just there enough to taunt me, "Too bad, Debra. Now you can't even have chocolate ice cream, either!"

Bleh. My current season? I'm titling it, The Unfair Season. But yes, we all have those sometimes.

This too shall pass...




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P.P.S.  Julie from Texas--my very best wishes for your househunting this weekend! It's been great seeing you back here at my blog--as you've noticed, we have tons of things in common, a sort of overlapping of seasons going on. :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Once Upon a Time

Gah. Just call me Sentimental Sally.

I took another Healing Day yesterday, sat around remembering the early and later years of Lennon and McCartney, how they made me smile on normal housekeeping days and the way they napped in sunlight and enriched my hours. The way I could pause in all the work and music and happiness to hug them and scratch their backs.

But now they're gone... the days, the cats and I'm sitting here repeating  this song, this Once Upon a Time,  over and over with tears in my eyes.

Oh, I can't wait to get to Hobbit Cottage! Though yes, I realize we're not supposed to wish days away (since they're all too precious), but just this once maybe it's ok. Perhaps (but I'm thinking probably not...). Sigh.

Healing Days! I've taken far too many here on this farm. Seems I'm always recuperating from the death of something, sitting here as though in a waiting room, waiting to recuperate, waiting for healing to arrive. But how necessary these days are, otherwise hurts get stuffed down and down, erupting some far-off day, taking one by surprise and bringing confusion ("Where's this coming from? I thought I was fine!")

Oh well... There's much decluttering to do and I am so wanting to let go of it all, fling it all to the winds, then return to the simple life of dusting, washing dishes and staring out of windows while music from old decades plays and cookbooks and 1930's magazines wait for me upon the kitchen table. My old life--can't wait to get back there, though with a new twist.

I know.... give it time. Give it time and don't wish away the days--but instead--do what you can to give yourself what you need today, as well as giving to others, too. Stay away from helpless and sad and head toward 'with God all things are possible', instead.

I know...




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Thankfully, I began reading a fun book yesterday, one even from this century(!) It's called Leave It To Claire by Tracey Bateman and is about a Christian fiction writer who's a single mom of four kids. And so much more. Check it out here.

Oh, and don't forget to check out the aforementioned song. I've treasured Andy Williams' version since I was a teenager, recorded it from the radio to a cassette tape (remember those?) and listened non-stop for days (such a goofy 17-year-old of the 70's), but John Gary's version is lovely, too.



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Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions."   ... Ecclesiastes 7:10



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"Thank God we can press on to what He has in store for us. In the meantime we need to keep our hand to the plow and quit looking back to what once was and will never be again."  ...  Joyce Meyer
 
(I was so grateful to read that on Facebook on Sunday. So needed it.)



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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Of Building Your Boat *Before* The Storm

Yesterday a dear friend emailed me, saying this:


"I admire you for keeping so upbeat throughout all that you have gone through this past year. If you step back and look at it objectively, don't you see how much you have grown spiritually?"

Well, yes. Kinda.

But something more? Last week I thought, "It's a good thing I 'built my boat' before these huge storms of the past year. Otherwise, I'd have sunk by now. Drowned. Gulp, gulp, gulp."

Heaven only knows how stressed-out I've been at times even inside this boat!

When soul-shaking storms come, we always have choices. Stand strong and still do the right things anyway? Or panic, flail our arms and blame God (or others) for the winds?

Way back in 1994 I finally let God remake me (instead of keeping on attempting to remake myself) in the not-so-bad times. And that has made all the difference. Ever since that year, He (very often through Joyce Meyer and a couple other teachers) showed me:

... it's not ok to snap at other people just because I'm having no good, very bad, horrible days.  --and--

... walking around shaking my head and groaning, "I'm just not going to make it.  I won't survive this. Things will never get better," is the worst thing I can do. (God responds to faith, not fear.)  --and--

...blaming other people or circumstances is a losing game. When I allow God to change me, the annoying people or circumstances of my life will at least appear changed in the different light of my new way of seeing them.  --and--

... tests arrive to show me--clearly-- the wrong stuff still oozing inside my heart so to keep me humble, pliable, also, so God can make me more like Him. Attempting to 'pray away the tests' is usually a big fat waste of time. --and--

... instead of racing to God just when things go wrong, He wants me matching my steps to His, with a conscious sense of His sweet presence. Hour by hour.

There's more (much!), but this type of stuff is what God used to build my boat, one strong enough to withstand winds and rains in stormy seas. And truthfully? I've had to use nearly everything that went into that boat in order to stay afloat, to stay up, to not drown beneath these hard times of the past year.

It makes me shudder to think, "What if I'd waited to build my boat? What if I'd attempted to grow closer to God and let Him make me strong only when the storms grew dark and wild while I stood out in the middle of it all upon a tiny raft?"

Gracious. Had I done that, instead? Well, seriously-- every lesson would have been twenty times harder to learn and I doubt that I could even put words together to form sentences right now. Seriously.

God is so very, very good.




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Learn your lessons well ...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dear McCartney

McCartney The Cat -- March 1997 - July 11, 2011 Our one-person cat: Thank-you for making me your one person. But oh Cartey, how will I make the bed each morning without your help? Good-bye, Sweetheart. I'll miss you.



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Of course, the temptation at times like these is to vow, "I'll never, ever get another cat. This just hurts too much!"

But no, Tom and I are not making such vows, for Grace is still here to enable us to love again. The most joyful, loving relationships will always involve a risk of hurt, a volunteered vulnerability, but oh Grace! Grace comes along in the center of the pain and heals whatever's been broken.  If we receive her.

Our Lennon and McCartney Era is over, but ah! What a remarkable era it was. Even with this pain, I wouldn't have missed those fourteen fun years with those two cats for anything else you could offer me.

And so I will tweak the saying at the top of my blog... I'll change it, here today, to this:

"After you've cried because it's over, smile because it happened."

For we are human, after all, and tears will fall.




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We so appreciate your condolences. They mean so much.




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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Just Thinking Aloud

It is the best of times, the worst of times.

But everything is going to be ok.

Yesterday McCartney the Cat began going downhill and so today will be her final full one. I look at her sleeping over on the love seat and try not to cry. I hold her and long for just two more weeks. Just two more! But within me, I know that, too, wouldn't be enough.

So now we're dealing with death and moving and packing and downsizing and flinging away and believing Naomi will find a safe place to rent (and letting her go again) and trusting God that, well, as I said--everything will be ok.

And it will be--in Time. Give God time and He can change your whole world from the inside-out. But of course, we're all usually so darn impatient and want everything wrapped up in a pretty blue ribbon, like, now. Who wants to wait for anything anymore?

But we must wait and it's how we wait that matters most to God. Were we patient? Or huge, whining crybabies?

I spoke with our young neighbor, (Cute Little Julie's Mom I call her), out at our mailbox yesterday and discovered she'd been feeling sad and bad for us, what with our selling this farm where we'd only lived three years. Oh my! I assured her I can't wait to return to my Real Life back in the suburbs. To again have time and energy for what God's gifted me to do, but this time knowing I'm exactly where I'm meant to be. Suburb Girl gone home.

It's funny how probably every day each of us assumes we understand other peoples' motives, actions, decisions, yet usually! We're all wrong. In fact, I often remind myself of this remarkable verse:


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

Indeed! If half the time we don't even get what God's doing in our own lives, why then are we so tempted to figure-out and comment upon others' actions? Yes, that verse keeps me 'reigned in' and helps explain why I hardly ever write here about people in the news. For goodness' sake--it's bad enough when I attempt second-guessing my friends' deeds, but to try that with total strangers! Not good, not pleasing to God, I imagine.

Anyway. I read an article this morning about the millions of people out of work for months and years and, all over again, I felt extreme gratitude to God for His provision for Tom and me, for placing within our hearts a desire to downsize and for showing us it's--truly--not about who has the coolest house and the most toys, land or vacation memories. But rather, it's about obedience to our callings and loving a huge God with all our hearts. And trusting Him for everything else.

Selah.



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If you could remember my family in prayer on Monday morning as we take McCartney to the vet for the final time, well, we'd appreciate it so much. Thanks.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Funny(?) Thing Happened At The Inspection Yesterday...

Boy oh boy.

The inspection of our new house went swimmingly, except that I went to take notes of all the good surprises and Tom went to make notes of the bad stuff. The inspector even said he was impressed because of the total makeover--it made his job easier, more pleasant. He noted one safety issue--a hand rail is needed from the kitchen to the back door (Tom noted that immediately last week). And he found an 1/8th inch hole in a pipe leading down from the sump pump, a hole "almost as if someone had drilled it," the inspector stated.

Now, immediately for me, light bulb! Maybe someone did drill it and perhaps it's supposed to be there and is just one more of those many things too over my head to understand. So the inspector noted that hole in his report and asked Tom if he wanted him to make an issue of it for the sellers. It could cause a leakage problem, he said.

At first Tom replied, "Yes." Then no. Then maybe. Then finally, no. The inspector said it would be an easy fix for Tom to make, himself.

Good grief. All the way home Tom stressed-out over that 1/8th inch hole. Said he should have made the owners fix/replace it. Then he moaned about the tree which is growing an inch from a side of the garage roof, a tree which is most likely on the neighbor's property. I told him maybe we could ask the neighbor if we could cut it down since it's in a part of his yard he's not using and, as I said, standing one inch from our garage roof (we can't place a gutter on that side).

Tom then got upset that I wasn't worried about all of the many things wrong with that house.

Gah!  (#&%@$%)

We have an acquaintance (let's call Bud) who simply searches, waits for things to go wrong and complains about the tiniest things. Well, I told Tom, "Just stop it! You've got the spirit of Bud all over you. Do you want to be like him? Just knock it off. You're ruining this whole experience."

Not a good ride home.

So guess what? We get home and Tom goes to the computer and looks up that particular sump pump online. It's supposed to have that hole there. Eegads. It's also supposed to have a certain type of valve--which it probably does have--but Tom and the inspector didn't notice because of being fixated on that odd 1/8th inch hole in the pipe. The one that looked as though someone had drilled it.

Don't think I need to explain the lesson Tom learned...

He's still wiping the egg from his face, still hanging his repentant head, still realizing so many things in Life just aren't worth getting an ulcer over.

And if God chose that house for us then--ultimately--everything is gonna be all right.




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Tom did call the inspector later to tell him what he'd learned online and the inspector thanked him. (He was a very nice, friendly guy.)



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"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]"  ... Matthew 11:28


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