Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Until I Return....

So yesterday we traveled to Hobbit Cottage for the final inspection and oh! It looked much prettier than I remembered it.

It also looked much smaller.  heh.

Oh well! I'll just play up the 'cozy look' and too, living there will be such marvelous discipline for Tom and me after having been such bad kids, you know, for bringing home so much junk over the years. The tininess of Hobbit Cottage will certainly keep us in line.

And wow, the excitement after we drove away.... We decided to take a different route home so we drove down just one block, turned left, and then six or seven blocks later poof! We were at the light in front of our favorite supermarket(!)

My oh my oh my. That may sound like a tiny (or even unpleasant) thing to you, but to us it spelled bliss. For three years we've traveled over 8 miles just to shop for groceries and now we'll be only 8 blocks away, a trip made even more delicious because that street totally bypasses a very busy boulevard. Our own private, quiet, short, pleasant way to the market. Happy sigh.

Wow. Now that's my idea of the simple life, something I never did find out here in the countryside (though heaven knows I searched).

And yet, of course, we'll miss our tiny idyllic town. These kind, country folks who live at a slower pace, and the way you can go anywhere and be recognized, the sweet town library and friendly cafe's, etc. And yet? From the 'burbs we can drive out here anytime in good weather to see what's new. Some of our neighbors have already invited us to drop by to see them, even.

Well, anyway... this will be my final post for awhile, perhaps a week or so. Today we buy Hobbit Cottage, tomorrow we'll take a few boxes there and on Friday the movers arrive to take us away from Healing Acres, the place where we enjoyed living out some long-held farm fantasies. But now it's time to move on to new adventures in the 'burbs and I hope each of you will be here when I return to write about them.

Though actually? I'll be taking you with me (won't the house feel quite tiny then!) and keeping a running conversation with you inside my head as I go about creating a brand new life. I hope you're ready to go! :)



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A special thanks for your sweet notes and congratulations!


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Want to hear a wild 'coincidence'? Exactly one year ago today Tom was laid-off from his job. And now on this day, we are buying a house. Is God good or what?


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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Thoughts

Well, guess who is thoroughly sick of stuff?

Eegads. And here I'd believed every piece of excess clutter went out to the moving sale! Nope. I found a couple bags' worth of things I'd overlooked and I was disappointed--not because of the money we could have made--but rather, the variety of stuff would have been greater for the people who, unlike me, still like to collect things. That would have meant extra smiles. Extra delight.

Oh well. I finally got out of the house yesterday when we drove to our former town, so I dropped off these extra pieces of clutter at Salvation Army.

Of course, today while I'm packing I'm also finding more things I should have sold. Gah. But you know? I'll leave some of it inside the barn. From the beginning we explained to our agent there's no way we could empty that barn--and when the buyer heard--she was fine with that. Even a tad excited to see what we would leave. :) 

Will it never end? Probably not, at least not as long as I'm living and growing and changing and vowing to continue this journey, lighter. Perhaps now both Tom and I are permanently cured of the desire to have more stuff. (I can dream anyway.)

Some good news? This afternoon--for the very last time ever--I mowed my share of our too-much lawn. Oh wow. I got all teary-eyed from the extreme joy of knowing never, ever again in my life will I mow such a large expanse of lawn. Some things we have no control over, other things we do--and this is one of them. I will continue to mow small lawns, ok, but never a large one again.

Hey, this *&^%(*# lawn has totally messed with my mind. I mean, yesterday on our drive home I'd gaze out the car window at house after house with smooth, stretch-out-forever lawns and my heart would go all fluttery. You know, like just three steps away from hyperventilating. As though I was hearing, "Tilt, tilt, tilt! Too much lawn to mow! Overwhelming memories ahead! Danger, danger Will Robinson!"

(Think I'm kidding?) Nope, no more large houses or sprawling lawns for us. No way. Nada. Unh unh. Never again in a bazillion years.

And oh, it does feel good to know oneself better. Live and learn and make changes. And be free.



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Two-and-a-half days before Hobbit Cottage is officially ours! (But it's not like I'm counting the days or anything....)


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Friday, August 26, 2011

Just Give It

So! Last night our closing date got moved up about a week. Eeks!

Although that means we'll get into Hobbit Cottage sooner. Gotta love that.

But it also means we'll need to be out of here by next Saturday, Sept. 2nd. So guess who's stepping-up her leisurely packing pace?

Yet all is well. Grace returned a few weeks ago and she's been helping me in huge ways, like with the moving sale which is now only a memory. And all our remaining items got carted away--no trip to Salvation Army necessary, at least not yet.  Tom and I are thinking after we get settled--most likely--we'll need to make a Salvation Army run (or two) with our stuff which will not fit into Hobbit Cottage. The more I pack, the more I'm thinking still! we own too much stuff.

And for those of you who are also needing to downsize? I say go for it, with as much wild abandon as you can. Concentrate on the giving away to others and it won't be so hard. Like, at our moving sale, I'd tell sweet little ladies things like, "If you'll pay fifty cents for that fabric panel, I'll give you that stack of dishes for free."

Oh, how I delighted in all the happy smiles I made over those moving sale days! The following ones, also, when people responded to our Craig's List ad and came for free stuff. "This is free?" they'd ask. And I'd respond, "Yes! Please do us a favor and take it far away."

Give, give, give and it shall be given unto you.  Revel in all the smiles and gratitude and your obedience to God.  You'll love it.



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P.S. Did you know it's possible to change your home address with the U.S. Postal Service online? Just found that out today and oh! How nicely convenient. Cost a dollar, but I loved the ease of it all. Go to usps.com for details.


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So, as part of the moving process, I cleaned the top of the refrigerator this afternoon (a task I try to avoid whenever possible) and you'd never guess in a bazillion years what I found..... Give up? A hairball. From a cat. On top of the refrigerator. Certainly didn't expect to find that!


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Oh, and in case you're wondering--we are hundreds and hundreds of miles inland so Irene will not bother us (I'm praying, though, for those she will bother). Speaking of weather--forgot to tell you that during the week of our moving sale we had rain on Thursday, then both Friday and Saturday (our moving sale days) were clear and gorgeous, then Sunday was a total washout. Another miracle--a weather one. :)


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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Just Checking-In

Busy, busy.

Packing. Watching people take the remainder of our moving sale stuff (it's nearly gone now). Watching Gilmore Girls. Packing. Glad we gave away Naomi's huge retro orange-hairy chaise lounge and chair set yesterday.

Waiting for a potential mover guy who's coming at 2:00 to give us a quote. Packing. Washing blankets and other assorted laundry. Waiting for someone who's coming at 3:00 to buy my bike.

And did I mention packing?

And feeling very peaceful in the midst of it all.


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Sunday, August 21, 2011

When Once Can Be Enough

Often Tom and I have driven to huge yard sales in the country where lots of smiling bargain searchers stepped through dark barns crammed with old junk and then picked through yards full of cardboard boxes and stuff on tables. We've come away with trinkets, or even better, lovely new memories and a rather enchanted old-fashioned feeling draped over our shoulders for the day's (or week's) remainder.

This weekend Tom and I held that type of yard sale, ourselves.

That's what came to me while I laid back on Naomi's retro orange chaise lounge in our own dark barn near the end of our sale, so worn-out but happy, with my thoughts of the hundreds of fun, nice people we'd met over two days. The way we were able to actually give them (I hope) a rather enchanted old-fashioned feeling. Probably thirty people even returned for more (items I flung away for free? ambiance? laughter? a listening ear?), some of them even three times(!)

It was a bittersweet feeling, though, for never again can Tom and I provide that country sale experience for others. Though yes, one should never say never, but oh! This weekend we were permanently cured of owning tons of junk (sooo exhausting)--and earlier this year--we were cured of ever wanting a farm again, gratitude for living-out long held farm fantasies, aside. Never, ever again on both counts.

So I'm thinking never does mean never in this case.

And you know? At first I felt sad about the never-again-ness of it all. I mean, you realize how we people tend to be, right? If we have a terrific experience we want to have fifteen more exactly like it.  Or pick up one pretty plate at a shop and suddenly we must collect an entire matching set. Yet immediately (almost) I asked myself, "Why not just treasure this gift of a weekend I'd been given? Why not just memorize it and be grateful that at least God gave me this one opportunity to live-out this huge-yard-sale-on-an-old-farm dream?"

So often one magical, memorable time can be enough for a whole lifetime, especially when we're contented with our everyday living. When we're balanced and traveling with eyes wide-open to new magical experiences and not expecting the same Life Highs with the very same people in the very same setting, doing the very same things as before.

And that is what I'll remind myself. Especially as we move away from the countryside, back to the suburbs and into a tiny house. There'll be amazing, memorable times there, also, and more Life Highs, only in different, unique ways still very unknown to me. Lovely surprises yet to come.

It's becoming harder and harder to wait!


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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Yet One More Miracle!

Oh wow (yes, again).

So there I was after two hot, humid days and untold hours out in the sun with our moving sale and dealing with hundreds of (nice) people and working like a proverbial dog and smelling like a wet sheep and aching all over. Tom put an ad in Craig's  List for free moving sale items from 2 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. today and some extra people came, including the cutest young couple ever who took lots of stuff around 6:00 (and I gave them The Have More Plan because they'd just bought a half acre in the country), but yet--even though we'd sold tons and tons of things--we still had around 15 boxes of stuff leftover, not to mention a 1970's huge orange (and heavy) chaise lounge (Naomi's) with its matching hairy orange chair.

So. I told Tom if I didn't get into the house right then and take a shower I probably would die. Then as I walked into the back porch I wondered (for the 40th time) just how we two old, achy folks were gonna pack-up and drive all that leftover stuff to Salvation Army (15 miles away) without having to make two trips (Salv. Army does not send trucks out to The Little Town in the Middle of Nowhere).

And while I was in the shower that's when the miracle happened. Yes, another miracle, two in one week! Tom was still outside when two guys from a Baptist Church drove into our driveway like Prince Charmings and said they would take all the rest of our stuff for their church's closet/pantry/store for the needy.

Oh my goodness, Tom came into the house woo-hooing, told me what happened and I nearly cried. No more concern (dare I say worry) about further pushing our poor, tired over-fifty bodies into lifting heavy boxes around yet again and loading them into our car! No need to go back outside tomorrow to rescue the remaining boxes from our upcoming rain. No more having to deal with our terrible, awful (I've so learned my lesson) junk!

May God bless those two young men profusely. I so mean that.



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Epilogue:  Well. Ok, the two guys did take a lot of the stuff, but they never did return for the rest. Of course, there's always tomorrow, and they may come again (after a convicting message at church?...heh...). And too, at least now we need to take just one trip to Salvation Army although, technically, Tom has another 'everything is free' ad written up as a possibility for Craig's List tomorrow. One way or another, this stuff will be gone soon---hooray :)


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Moving Sale Thoughts

Whew!

Having a huge moving sale on a warm summer day is not for the wimpy.

But we survived.

Today is Day Two of our play-like-you're-American-Pickers moving sale. Day One was wild, what with hundreds of people coming in a steady stream (ten or so even returning again!), hundreds of very friendly Western New Yorkers, as most are. Our friend, Donna, helped Tom and me to sell tons of stuff, though we still have tons left out on our back lawn, driveway and barn.

For nine hours yesterday I worked (so not used to that) outside or escaped to the shade, though at 12:30 I drove down to our favorite mom and pop take-out where the gal behind the counter told me, "Don't forget to take your pop from the refrigerator, or wait!--you always get the bottled water, right?"

I laughed and told her, "Yes! Very good!," then walked out to the car a bit teary-eyed because oh, though I won't miss our farm, I will miss this sweet tiny town where people know us by name as well as all our habits, too. Always, even when our farm didn't feel altogether-delightful, our small town did.

Tom and I will need to frequent the same shops in our new community though it's much larger, and perhaps the shop clerks and cafe staffs will know us that way. I will refuse to make comparisons and instead,  sow some good seeds and see what comes up.

So I just thought I'd check in before I dash back outside for more selling and greeting neighbors and seeing our stuff fly out of here at record speed in a sort of wild succession. Toward the end I think I'll contact our local Freecycle and tell everyone to come and take what they want until 6:00 or so.

Is it bothering me to let all this stuff go? Not even. This past week I kept thinking that maybe the winners in Life are those who own the least amount of stuff when they die, not the most. That sounds better to me and lately it's been feeling better, as well.



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I wish each of you could come to our sale! :)


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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oh. Wow.

So I was sad about being catless and Tom and I had finally begun working on decluttering the garage/barn so when we'd grown tired I asked him to buy us some sherbet. Which he did, gladly.

And as we sat watching an American Pickers rerun suddenly I thought, "Hey! I can take back my room upstairs now."

 So that's what I did and oh, the excitement! Tom went out to mow upon his tractor and I skipped upstairs and began cleaning the room I'd not slept in for one year. I removed Naomi's things (she still has a bit of stuff left here) and vacuumed and dusted and then when I went downstairs to bring my clothes back up, I stopped at the computer for an email check.

That's when I saw it. The email from the Buffalo Court. And this is what it said:


"This letter is to inform you that your request to have your Jury service postponed has been approved.  Your jury service has been deferred by this court."

Oh my goodness... I screamed. With joy, of course. And then I whispered, "Thank-you, Jesus" probably 8 times while running out to Tom where I shouted into his ear (over the din of the mighty tractor), "I got an email and I don't have to do jury duty!"

I ran back inside, grabbed my clothes and returned back to my upstairs room with I Love Lucy playing and my veins pulsating with glee.

And too? I felt thankful that I'd been firm with myself when I mailed-off my form to the court (with my whinings of why now is a horrible time for me, personally, to do jury duty). I told myself that in no way would I allow myself to spoil the next three weeks with dread. Instead, I'd choose to believe I would not have to drive those 35 miles to downtown Buffalo and not have to explain there just why this was an impossible time for me.

So I didn't. Allow myself to dread that possibility, I mean. Whenever that temptation arose I chose, instead, faith that I'd not have to go. Belief for a good outcome. And then firmly chose to think about something else.

Again, oh wow. I have my own special room back during these days of packing, a getaway place of peace, plus, I don't have jury duty. And well, let's just say I hardly slept last night there upstairs, for the excitement was too great. My heart felt utterly joyful and I even went downstairs at 4:00 a.m., made hot chocolate and came back upstairs to watch Gilmore Girls (1st season) before actually cleaning the (crusty) floor of our half-bath-maybe-someday at 5:00. Humming all the while. Grateful out-of-my-mind.

Happy days are here again.

So let this encourage you. If you are facing a hard time and just hanging in there as best as you can, putting into practice all the good things God has taught you, well, a reward is coming if you keep believing, even when things look as though they'll never change. Do what you can and then God will do the rest.



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And let me add--jury duty is a wonderful responsiblity. Truly. But there are times in each of our lives when--emotionally--it would send us over the edge. And for me, this was one of those times.


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Monday, August 15, 2011

Missing The Cats

Drats.

Naomi just now took her three cats home to her new apartment and I'm all teary-eyed. You'd think I just had a lovely week with the grandkids or something. Sheesh.

Yet this is the first time in 18 years that we've not had a cat in the house. Oh, how I will miss chirpy greetings in the mornings, especially, and holding them mid-morning for my kitty fix.

I hope I can survive the next few catless weeks.


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Decluttering--How Sweet It Is

Remember how I said no more posts about decluttering?

I lied. (Big, fat liar, Debra!)

Oh wow. I totally recommend decluttering your home. Tom and I have gone through every single drawer, cupboard, closet and attic in this house and carried out to our carport every piece of unwanted, unneeded, unloved objects.

Letting go just feels so darn good!

The more I give away, the lighter and freer I feel. The less overwhelmed and bogged down and worried.

And I'm more grateful than ever that Tom and I have bought an 860 sq. ft. house (with a 400 sq. ft. dry, clean basement), for with that house will come instant discipline. We simply won't be able to bring so much home from yard sales anymore lest we crowd ourselves out and become candidates for Hoarders. (Gah!)

I remember going through various stages during the earlier decades of my life: the shopping for furniture stage,  the clothes-shopping stage, the searching for collectibles stage, the shopping as comfort stage (and on and on). But now? That all feels so in the Past. In fact, I think I've shopped at thrift stores just three times in the past three years, though yes, I shopped a ton of yard sales. Yet that stage, too, I feel fading. Bittersweet yes, but to everything there is a season.

No, over in Hobbit Cottage we'll concentrate on attending activities where we bring home fun memories rather than fun stuff. How good that sounds to me and already I'm anticipating all that fun, especially since we'll have fewer cares at home, making us downright footloose and fancy-free which is a quite nice way to be now that we're in our fifties.

Tom and I are unable to carry and care for as much as we once did so this lightening our load feels quite sweet.




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Sunday, August 14, 2011

1940's I'll See You Soon

In September when we move to Hobbit Cottage, I will be moving back to the 1940's.

I'll wear aprons again, maybe even skirts (!) and leave out my 1930's and 40's magazines as though they were current fare. Upstairs in Peace-Blue Haven I'll play Andy Williams records, Glen Miller cd's, and old radio program tapes. I'll watch Leave It To Beaver and I Love Lucy and perhaps I'll dance up there, too, just in the room's center, though, where the ceiling is tall enough. And then I'll grab an old-fashioned book from my tiny library at the top of the stairs and read and dream awhile longer, then perhaps I'll even write a few snail mail letters. Who knows?

In the three years we've lived on this farm I've driven our car maybe just 20 times (though I may be exaggerating), but look-out when we move! I'll often  drive the 2 or 3 miles to town and drink coffee at the supermarket alone while looking through magazines. I'll visit the Dollar Tree and window shop through Target. I'll take my time and no longer have to stand outside waiting for Tom to come get me and our groceries.

Then I'll return home with a 1940's lifestyle in full swing and store my extra groceries below in the basement in the cupboards of the 1920's kitchen I'll have created down there. Winter stock-up will be more fun than ever, filling the Hoosier cabinet, the 1800's pie cabinet and the old white hutch, all which will surround our 1930's formica table.

One of the many things I've learned on this farm? Know yourself well. And realize that--if something about your life isn't working--you can fix it. Do what you can to make changes and then God will do the rest. Often He can't move until we take that first step of faith and then He dances right along beside us until we reach a world better suited for us. A world whose slogan is, "And they all lived happily ever after."



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A special thanks to Anne for her Facebook message to me which inspired this post.


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"Yes, come," Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus."  ... Matthew 14:29

First, Peter stepped out of the boat and then Jesus held him up on top of the water. No getting out of the boat = no excitement of walking on water.


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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Thoughts About Talents

So this morning while watching Hoarders again (I know, I know) something came to me.

For many years I've heard and read that when you ask most people what their God-given talent/gift/calling is, they'll reply, "I don't know. I wish I knew."

And what came to me this morning is that satan tries extremely hard to stop us from discovering our talent(s) because our callings bless and help other people. Any talent, no matter what, inspires the rest of us to aim higher, to not give-up and to find beauty in an ugly world. Heck, our gifts bless and help us, too, what with all the joy which comes from doing what God designed us to do. But satan convinces us happiness is in doing for ourselves rather than in obeying God and loving others.

So while I'm staring into these Hoarders' rooms I'm thinking of all the passion it requires to collect literally tons of junk. How it's like trying to fill the bottomless pits which are our hearts, pits which can only be satisfied with knowing Jesus as Friend and declutterer of those hearts.

And of course, hoarding is certainly not the only way people wear themselves out trying to stuff those empty hearts. There are addictions galore in this life, as we've all heard about or experienced: drugs, food, smoking, sex, pornography, even wild addictions to being the best athlete, artist, gardener, business person or the smartest human being on the planet. And so much more.

So I guess I'm just seeing clearly this morning the vital need--of course for Jesus most of all!--but for each of us to discover  how He wants each of us to help others. Since Time's beginning He designed a wonderful, useful plan for us and what remains is for us to find it. To not look backward at a life we once had (or could have had), nor over at our friend's awesome talents and life, but to seek until we find the ways in which we  are to bless and help and inspire others.

And of course, satan hates our searches. He confuses us, whispers lies such as, "You're the one person on this planet who has no talent/gifting/calling," or "You're way too hopeless and sad (or too busy) to see God's plan for you through."

But remember--it's lies, all lies. Hence the need to stay plugged into God and His words so that always, they will shine brighter. So that He will shine through us, blessing others with the talents He excitedly gave us, knowing their great potential to make our life count for something amazing.



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The happiness was never in asking, "What can others do for me?," but rather, "What can I do for others?"



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Friday, August 12, 2011

Pausing In The Decluttering Mist

Still here!

I'm just in the Decluttering Zone and discovering I must stay there in order to concentrate, to do it all before Moving Day which is still a date unknown. Perhaps around September 1st.

We technically have five attics upstairs, three of which were crammed with boxes, two of which I've emptied, one of which is still two-thirds full.

Good grief. Never again will we own so much stuff!  Never. Again. That is a promise I'm making to myself and so I'm keeping only that which I love and/or find useful.

After all, I'm only given Grace to care for the things I love and need, hence my struggle with more.

Our huge moving sale will begin on Friday the 19th. We'll advertise on Craig's List and in the newspaper that everyone can come and play American Pickers by picking their way through our barn and digging through 1/8th acre of boxes. Should be interesting to see who shows up to pick! Our friend, Donna, has volunteered to come help us--only a true friend would do that.

Just thought I'd check in ...  If I have any thoughts other than decluttering ones I'll be back here. Take good care of yourselves, ok?



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If you enjoy 'disaster films' you may like the one Tom and I Netflixed last night. It was called Tornado Valley, took place out on a beautiful countryside farm and had no sex, language or violence(!) and ok, was a bit lame in parts. But it kept our attention and played just right for our peaceful mood.



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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Nearing The End Of Another Season


So. Mostly, kinda, Naomi has moved out and into her apartment which is only fifteen streets away from Hobbit Cottage. Yet still she has a few boxes upstairs and in our barn--and--her three cats still live here. But don't get all twitter-pated, for we volunteered to keep them until she buys an air-conditioner.

Besides, Sammy, Farrah and Ginger give Tom and me our necessary, daily kitty fix.  Holding them (well, not Mean Kitty Ginger) has comforted us since we lost both our sweethearts. Always, we must have cats.

Naomi's coming to this farm and staying for one year was a gift.

Before she arrived, I often wished we could have experienced farm life with our daughter, and well, God allowed us to do that. A bit late in Life, ok,  or perhaps right on time (His timeline not resembling peoples'). And though Naomi was gone much due to her busy life, she helped with the care of this huge place and saw for herself its highs and lows, its delightful points and dreadful ones.

Our choosing this country life will help Naomi make future wise decisions about how much land is enough. Growing her own food is her dream, but now she realizes one doesn't need four acres in order to do so.

Always, this farm-living was meant to be temporary, just a taste, one lasting five years at the very most. Tom and I wished only to live-out a dream and a few pent-up farm fantasies so to arrive at the end of our lives with fewer regrets and some lovely memories.

And that's what we shall do now.

Naomi's one-year return home, of course, was always a temporary thing, also. And what a season it was! Mostly harmony-filled and dear, but I did miss my private space upstairs (and learned I must always carve such a space out for myself) and oh! the interrupted nighttimes I had. I'll miss Naomi, yes, but not the nights when mother-curiousity would yank me from bed at 2:00 or 3:00 to check the kitchen for Naomi's keys, the sign she'd arrived home--or not.  Usually, it was not. Sigh.

Oh dear, I'm almost tempted to tell you, "Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be musicians," but of course, I can't. Naomi is so ridiculously gifted and called to be a drummer and it would be a sin for Tom or I to ever beg her to become something other than what God made her. Always, we've realized that.

But still. :)

So life goes on, revolves and changes into something altogether different. Naomi has moved-on to a whole other place in Life and Time--and soon--Tom and I will move-on, too.

And oh, I can hardly wait!



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We create our own pain whenever we try to force any season to last forever.


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"To everything there is a season, a time, a purpose under heaven." ... Ecclesiastes 3:1



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Monday, August 08, 2011

Fun In The Weirdest Way


I hope you take a day off each week. Or two, even, if you can swing it.

I hope you take time for fun. I know some people who almost never allow themselves to have fun and--oh dear--they are cranky.

So anyway, I took this weekend off. Tom and I planned all week to drive to the county fair and visit with all the adorable farm animals, but did we make it? Nah, not this time, for it was too hot and too humid. Mostly too humid.

And well, you'd never, ever guess what I did for fun this weekend, instead. Give up? I Netflixed nearly all the third season episodes of Hoarders.

Told you you'd never guess. :)

And yes, I had great fun doing so. And you know? After the past six stressful/ plain hard months of my life I found that my compassion for those hoarder folks had risen exponentially. More than ever now I understand being so overwhelmed that you can only sit upon your couch and helplessly wish it all away.

And when one young woman had a real-live panic attack, I felt her pain. Though I've not had one, myself, I recall thinking one day months ago, "Oh! So this is how it feels to be on the verge of a panic attack. I get it now (and I'd better calm myself down, like, uh, immediately.)"

And now that I'm in the process of giving away/selling one-third of our possessions, I surely get the "It's just so painful to let go of this goofy/chipped clay bowl Naomi made at age 7" thing. Majorly, I get that, too, even though I've never officially been a hoarder. No, really, I haven't. :)

And you know? I felt grateful for the deeper level of compassion I felt for all those hoarders. The Bible verse which instructs us to count it all joy and be thankful for our trials kept pecking at my brain--and I get that better now, too.

For a long time now I've seen that some of what I go through is just because I have this blog. Why? So that these trials will make me more real (kinda like the Velveteen Rabbit thing). So that I'll have deeper compassion and understanding for you, my readers and so I'll have something with which you can identify. So you can learn from my mistakes, maybe gleaning something which will keep you from a few mistakes of your own.

And maybe come away with some encouragement, too, that, "Hey! If God can help ol' Debra muddle her way through that problem, perhaps He can help me, also."

And so if any of those things are taking place as I begin my eighth year of writing here, then any and all trials I'm facing for your sakes are so very, very worth it.



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"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."



From The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams


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Saturday, August 06, 2011

Changes Made Easier Thanks to Lucy





So. Today would have been Lucille Ball's 100th birthday.

Where was I when I heard she'd died? In my kitchen in Nevada, dishing-up Tom's birthday cake and ice cream for him, two friends of ours and a nine-year-old Naomi. They were watching tv and  Tom called from the living room, "Lucille Ball died today." Then after I finished watching the tv news report, I returned to the kitchen and finished scooping the ice cream with tears in my eyes.

I Love Lucy was always one of my comfort shows, one of the programs I'd watch for hours on those days when thoughts of too many changes crashed inside my head. How much better to watch Lucy's crazy antics and be nudged to smile rather than to stare into space and picture my own problems.

Not until a couple years ago did I realize why old tv shows, movies and books, ones pre-watched or pre-read fifty times, comfort me. It's because--though my surrounding world may be flinging changes--those shows and books never do. Always it's the same lines. The same exact plots. The same audience laughter or dance scenes in the very same places. No danger of anymore unexpected surprises or bad news in old films and books!

And I think that's rather why I (and lots of other folks) also seek places alone, by ourselves (or with our spouse only), during rough times. We don't wish to bother other people or  risk their possible busyness or ill-timed advice or I-told-you-so's. We crave sameness so to counteract the out-of-our-control changes. And we just wish to lick our wounds and heal, alone, or alone with Jesus, Who's got the best bedside manner around--and Who heals all the painful diseases of our sorry, sorry heads.

But.

(You knew that was coming, right?) There arrives a time to leave the tv or our books of the hide-away, comfort places.  A time to step outside the door again so we can jump back up on the  merry-go-round of Life. The time returns to test our healing on wobbly legs, to listen, again, to our teachers, even those whose lessons we don't always appreciate and to care for others who need the help we, ourselves, have received.

But anyway. Happy 100th birthday to Lucille Ball, a woman who did not hide her talents beneath any bushel baskets, but rather, allowed them to shine brightly, sharing what she was given, offering comfort to all the rest of us even now, long after she went away.



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Corinthians 1:4,5... God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”




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Friday, August 05, 2011

Good. Grief.

It's official now. I want my 40's back.

I walked out to the mailbox yesterday and the first envelope I saw? A summons to jury duty.

On August 22nd.

At the big downtown court 35 miles away. (I never drive there.  Too scary to even imagine doing such a thing.)

They want me there by 8:30 in the morning.

&*^%$^.

I've got to get out of this. Although I don't have one of their official excuses, I do have some darn good ones. Where they ask you to circle the dates you are unavailable, I've got two weeks of those because of moving-in and out and having to be at a different courthouse to sign final sale papers on a day yet tba. And Tom told me to tell them I have a disabled husband who is no way gonna do all the moving by himself.

Gah. Already I'm praying for mercy and favor and anything else I can think of. I so don't need this right now.

As I said, I want my 40's back. Like, yesterday.


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


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Well, I just now finished filling out the jury duty form and I used-up all the lines under 'explanations' to descibe my predictament(s) and to ask for a postponement. Then I prayed over the paper and slipped it into the envelope. And now I shall release the dread,  believe for good things and go about my packing and decluttering.


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Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Behind The Scenes Stuff. We've All Got It.


You should see my house right now.

No, you really shouldn't. Boxes and guitar cases and amps, oh my! And it will remain this way for three or four more weeks. What a test for my must-have-order-and-control personality.

Man, this waiting to move away is difficult because this time I'm awaiting a return to my real life. To the real me and happiness I do not have to create myself, but rather, the kind that just falls on me like it used to. Like it seemed to, anyway, during my enchanted 40's.

I'm waiting for a fresh start and to get away from this farm where so many sad things took place. Though of course, it's not this house's fault that too many cats and friends and yard animals died these past 3 short years, nor is it to blame for Tom's being downsized or Naomi's break-up from Carl nor Tom's mom's heart attack or his parents now spending their final days in a hospital.

Nor do I blame it for Naomi's losing part of her van's brakes last night (she's ok, thank-goodness, but couldn't come home), nor my current sadness--the impending any-hour-now death of my former high school teacher's wife. I've been in-touch with this man (who taught me writing secrets) by snail mail, email and now Facebook for 36 years and it's hurting me that he's hurting while slowly losing his still-young wife (she's around 67), the woman he's adored for 41 years.

I understand you can't blame a house for all that.

But still. I need to start over in a fresh place. Perhaps that's subconsciously why I chose a house which was gutted and totally made brand new inside--for after all--I used to hate that 'it's-all-unlived-in' look. But now? When we thought we might lose Hobbit Cottage I told Tom, "You understand, don't you, that from now on I'll need to live in surroundings which scream, 'we're brand new!', right?"

Now I get that, too. The need to begin again in a new place, to rest my head from all the drama and sadness, to not feel pressured to fix more things and to leave the old, behind. Some people can do that anywhere, but for me, this time anyway, I need new surroundings and a fresh start with some fresh hope.

Anyway, this is meant as a reminder that all of us, at any given time, have behind-the-scenes stuff going on (even when we're not venturing a word about it). All of us bloggers and our neighbors, relatives, troubled people in the news and folks pushing around their carts at the supermarket. Nobody is getting out of this world not only alive, but without experiencing hard, hair-pulling, hang-your-head times.

May we never believe otherwise.  May we never covet another person's life and may we always be ready to encourage our fellow-sufferers with the kindest of words and deeds. Yes, even in the middle of our pain, for it's in giving that we receive. Always. Even if our gift is ever so tiny, for God has ways of multiplying our smallest of offerings, especially when they were the best we could give during our own time of need.



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


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John 14:16


"And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever--"



"When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."   ... Luke 21:28


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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Of Kindness and Not Quitting in Rough Times

Oh wow.

This true story inspired the slippers right off my feet. I hope it will inspire you, too-- to always hang in there, to not allow self-pity to glue you to your couch.

And it certainly took me by the shoulders and said, "See, Debra? You have absolutely nothing to complain about!"

One more thing --there never has been a Good Old Days Decade where everybody was nice and Life, always dreamy. Never. So what remains is for me, for each of us, to make this decade a wonderful one by our kindnesses to others.

Kindness matters to God. Much.

Hmmm.... You're curious about that inspirational article now, aren't you? Well, what are you waiting for? Hop over there and read it! :) 


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"And let us not lose heart in well-doing for in due season we will reap if we do not grow weary."   ... Galations 6:9

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Extreme? Perhaps.

"... the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize--a [a]share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion]."   Matthew 11:12 (Amplified)

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So. Let me tell ya. That verse, above, keeps flying to my head because lately it seems I'm surrounded by doubtful, negative, wimpy people. Christian people, sadly, ones who believe...

... if the economy is awful then their own family's economy will automatically be awful, too...

... and because crime is increasing, they're practically just waiting for Crime to walk through their own front door...

... and if they heard a bad story about a certain state then there's no way they'd ever move to that state...

... and Life here on Earth is meant to be a suffering cesspool and only Heaven will be a place to enjoy...

... and on and on. Even Tom is worried that we'll take a monetary loss on our next house--and we've not even moved in yet!

Well, I keep telling Tom to "knock it off and get some faith why don't ya?" I even covered my ears (then ran for my computer headphones) when I heard him saying, again, such doubtful stuff to our financial advisor over the phone this morning.

But I can't exactly do those things when other Christians in my Real Life and in Blogland bring their fear-filled, we're-all-gonna-die approach right to me.  No, but I can take some tactics.

Like, I can refuse to spend a lot of time with Doubters. A little time, ok, (especially with those who want to change, like my sweet husband), but doubt spreads like disease, you know, and I refuse to catch that disease. Fear acts like disease, too. Start spending your days sitting in circles swapping fear stories (or parked in front of CNN on a catastrophe day) and suddenly your thoughts are colored black. And weigh 20 pounds extra.

And I can, ok, read headlines, but not their whole stories crammed with gory details. Or  I can watch the news only when Grace sits beside me, comforting my heart the whole time, but skipping the news if, instead, it haunts my hours and spoils the joy of the Lord--zapping my strength.

Frankly, it's up to me to remain strong (and sane!). Yes, my joy ultimately comes from God, but also ultimately, I can lose it, myself. And I can sabotage my joy by holding onto unforgiveness, fear and doubt, instead. It's either joy or my 'right' to hold onto fear-based junk--it can't be both.

"The violent take it by force..." And if saturating myself, my hours, with good, uplifting teaching and avoiding certain disease-spreading people and newspapers or broadcasts sounds extreme to you, oh well. It's my way of taking the kingdom of heaven by force and it sounds extreme, ok. But I'm determined not to wimp-out and become a worried whiner during these most crucial, trying years in all of History.

I've come too far to allow torpedoes of negativity to sink me now.



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


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Would you like to have an encouraging Bible verse sent to your email box each day? Go here. Scroll down a bit in order to submit your address.


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Did you enjoy the old tv show, Emergency? Tom and I did and yesterday we began watching an updated-version type called, Trauma, by way of Netflix instant streaming (Kevin Tighe even appeared in one episode as an old paramedic-turned-captain and that was quite cool).We're enjoying it a lot, though we've had to close our eyes a few times during some of the more extreme injuries of accident victims. (Not recommended for the faint of heart....smile...)


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Monday, August 01, 2011

Real Confessions

I've been hiding a dark secret from you. (Uh-oh!)

Remember when my big garden used to look like this each summer?




Well, now it looks like this;







Sad, I know.  And yes, I'm so embarrassed to show that to you!

And yet.... that is what happens when you become so overwhelmed that you don't even want to look at a tomato plant, let alone grow one.

And I am that overwhelmed. That burned-out from trying to do more than God called me to do.

But there's something good in all this.  I know myself so much better now. And knowing oneself keeps oneself from taking on more than she can handle. Keeps her from saying, "I wish I had a ______," ten times a day.

From now on, my wishes will be few. Wiser too. I'll be more content because I lived-out my farm fantasies--and in doing so--discovered a fantasy need not be lived over and over and over. Rather, long-held fantasies can be lived once (say, over a weekend), appreciated, savored, then traded-in for that which is real.

Being and living in realness is just as delightful as living-out the occasional fantasy, especially when your real is the realness God created for you. We need not own a farm (or a boat, a lovely house or a horse) in order to appreciate it and dreams are lovely, but some dreams are loveliest when they remain inside our heads. These are truths I've discovered and they're what I'll take away with me when we drive away from this old farm for the last time.
                    



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We need not own a thing in order for it to belong to us.


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