Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Heavenly Book Recommendation



Oh wow.

Many years ago at a thrift shop somewhere, I found a falling-apart paperback copy of the book, Intra Muros. First published in the 1890's, it's an account of a "visit to Heaven" which author Rebecca Springer had while she was in a coma for weeks. My, my, my... For me, that book changed everything. Instead of dreading death (mine and others') suddenly I became nearly impatient to get to Heaven.

I loaned the book to other people and some came away wildly blessed, others just mildly so. But I wished I could find another copy to keep with me at home for the times I had cravings to read it. Soon after that wish I was stepping through a dark junk warehouse with a friend, a place with tables heaped with stuff not good enough for the Salvation Army store next door.

And oh! From a dusty pile of books I pulled the copy of Intra Muros which you saw at the top of this post. I nearly screamed (but kept it to a squeal) and tried to convey my excitement to my friend, who only nodded and didn't understand. (Story of my pre-Internet life.) I believe I paid 50 cents for this 1898 edition and am still, all these years later, thanking God for placing it inside that junk warehouse for me.

Anyway. Although I am reminded of Intra Muros whenever I think of Heaven and each time I lose someone to death, I'd not reread it in at least 4 years. But yesterday I pulled it from my bookshelf and oh! It's all come back as to why I love that book... why it's forever in my Top Five Books I'd Have To Take To a Deserted Island.

Rebecca's (long!) visit to Heaven illustrates how connected this world is with the next one. How what we become here and what we do for others matters in the next life. How Heaven is an extension of this life, only in a perfect form. And how it matters that we take the people we love with us, as in, make certain they come to know Jesus here.

Always I've loved books with lovely room-by-room descriptions of houses and oh! This book has that in spades, but with descriptions of heavenly rooms--and how could it get any better than that? Also, since watching Truth or Consequences at age 6 I've adored watching reunions of people and Intra Muros has tons of those.

And times spent with Jesus! Those are the best.

Have any fear about dying? Nagged by daily worries here on Earth? Unable to shake the sadness over loved ones who you know are with God? Bothered by your lack of control over things in Life? Need some joy?

Then Intra Muros is the book for you.

In its many reprintings it's also been re-titled, Within Heaven's Gates. Also, My Dream of Heaven. I can think of no better way to start this new year confidently and with much peace than by reading this amazing book. Truly.


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Find more copies here.

Yay! You can now read Intra Muros online if you wish. Go here.


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Here are a few more coupon links for you:

(Check back on January 2nd or 3rd for their new 2012 coupons.)

Last week I combined this with a sale price and saved something like $2.25.

This is a Facebook coupon (I keep my account open only to get coupons like these). Use your back button to get two. (At my store I can double each coupon for $1.50 off.) I always wait for a Buy One Get One Free sale so that I end up paying only around $2 for each (fragrance-free) bottle.

(Use zipcode 12345. Click on Pets.) You can print two. This is a manufacturer coupon so even though it mentions WalMart, you don't have to use it there.

(You can print two.)


Friday, December 30, 2011

Changes. Always There Are Changes.



" She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."  ... Proverbs 31:12

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So. While Tom worked a few decades and I did the faithful little homemaker thing, I pretty much waited on him hand and foot (as they say). A real Proverbs 31 woman, that was me.

He'd drive home after working the usual 12-hour shift to a very-straightened, kinda-mostly-clean house and to me, the woman in the kitchen standing near the stove who'd tried (usually) to make herself presentable. Then he'd collapse in his recliner (during these later years), switch on the tv and I'd bring his dinner to him. Usually I'd have eaten earlier (again during these later years), but I'd sit beside him and we'd talk and watch tv together.

When he'd finish dinner I'd take his dishes to the kitchen for him and place them in the dishwasher where they'd wait until I washed them the next day by hand (my preferred way). Then later he'd change into his pajamas (which I'd washed for him) and get into the bed I'd made for him earlier that morning.

And so it would go.

Well. After Tom lost his job I noticed that hey! He sure was spending a whole lot of time sitting in that recliner, whereas I sure was spending lots of time still waiting on him hand and foot. It actually took me a few months (I am so slow) to ask myself, "What is wrong with this picture?"

What was wrong was that no longer was Tom working 12 hour shifts and --if we didn't make some changes--Tom would become one of those people who (gross alert)......... actually become stuck to and part of a recliner! (Ew. I know.)

What I've discovered is that there are lots of ways a Proverbs 31 woman can "do her husband good, not harm, all the days of her life." And letting him sit and do nothing is not good.

So over the past few months, there've been a few changes made around here. Tom learned to cook some new dishes and sometimes he makes lunch for us (our main meal). He also gets his own breakfast most of the time (unless I make something special for us). He makes his own bed, sometimes folds his own clothes and puts them away, feeds the birds, places his dishes in the dishwasher (or sometimes washes them by hand), and helps with small projects around the house.

Ok, not earth-shattering stuff, but still, huge changes for us.

Changes! This growing older stuff brings with it many life changes and we are wise if we adapt in a timely manner. Tom and I no longer have the life we had as kids of 30 so why act like we do? So it behooves us to accept these changes--like good sports--and with much help from Grace. 


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The top photo? I reupholstered the seat yesterday.

Oh, and here's one of my favorite things which I've ever made (eons ago). There was one tiny nail in the 80-year-old chimney up here in Debra's World just waiting for this hook which comes in ever so handy for my nightgown and robe:


I bought the hook at Dollar Tree. I should have bought more. Sigh. Live and learn.


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To save $1 off Planter's NUT-rition nuts, go here. This is a 'bricks coupon' and can be printed twice (use your back button). Remember, team the coupon with a sale price (buy-one-get-one-free would be terrific) for maximum savings.

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Would you like a free sample of cologne sent to you? Go here.


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"You have not because you ask not..." ... James 4:2


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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winning The Grocery Game

I've been hearing and reading that one out of every six people in America is finding food hard to afford, so well, I'd like to do my part to help out via this blog. So at times I'll include hints and coupons as to how to buy groceries cheaply.

Frankly, I love trying to conquer the supermarket game.

My own supermarket keeps track of how much I save each year by purchasing their items which were on sale each week. They say I saved $835 in 2011. Cool.

As for how much I saved on top of that by using cents-off coupons (my store doubles all coupons less than one dollar), I'll estimate that I saved...hmm... $280.

My store also sells gas and they give us ten cents off per gallon for each $100 we spend or when we use ten cents-off coupons (each time I use a coupon on a product it's like I spent 10 dollars' worth of groceries. I think that's awesome. Wish they'd begun that promotion earlier in the year.) Anyway, I'll estimate that we saved $50 in gas.

All totaled, that's a savings of $1,165. Not incredible, but pretty good for something I do in my spare time. Something I enjoy.

And that's the key to not only saving money at the supermarket, but with anything we do--keep it enjoyable. God never meant our lives down here to be one long bad, sad time (I don't care who says He did). No, Jesus "came that we might have life more abundantly and live it to the full until it overflows." (John 10:10) 

I enjoy discovering ways to do just that.

Anyway, this year my aim is to buy 90% of my groceries only when they're on sale--buying enough to last me until the next sale. It's such a bummer to pay full price! And of course, I'll use coupons whenever I can and save even more on top of the sale prices. 

Also, during 2012 I'll try to include a few links for you here in my blog to some online coupons I find worth mentioning.

God can provide for us in myriad different ways and one of those ways, for me, has been the enjoyable adventure of buying groceries as cheaply as I can. Of beating the grocery game and having a fun time as I do.



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Oh and don't worry.... I'm not into buying 20 boxes of cupcakes or sugary cereals, etc., like those extreme couponers. Uh, no.  And because my mom taught me, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all," I'll not say anything else about those shoppers. :)


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This Sunday's newspaper will have 4 coupon inserts (!) Preview them here.


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I listed places which will email you coupon links here (scroll down).

Coupons.com is also good, but their best coupons go quickly. They had two coupons for Kashi cereals this morning, so you may want to see if they're still available in your zipcode. (Click 'food' in the sidebar to narrow your search.) You can print two of each coupon there.

 There are only three brands of cereal I buy -- Mom's Best Naturals is another--and if that's sold in your area, their website offers coupons. Use your back button to print two. Pair a coupon with a sale and you're paying less than $2 a box for cereal without a bunch of additives. Gotta love that.


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Today. And More Today.

"So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble."  ... Matthew 6:34


My, my, my.... Now there's a fitting verse for an upcoming 2012!

Ever since Tom was laid-off, whenever I'm tempted to peer into our future (financial, health-wise and otherwise) always I hear, "Just obey Me Today. Today's obedience will lead to Tomorrow's provision."

I mean, hey. Only God knows how to turn a Good Today into a Good Future. 

Oh, I know people who worry about what will happen when they reach their 60's and 70's. How they'll feel physically or whether they'll be alone, will they have enough money, where will they live and will it all be as good as their Today or will it be horrible, lonely and painful?

Personally, I don't let myself go there. Well, not for more than 20 seconds, or so.

No, I spend my Todays trying to listen. What does God want me to do Today? Where (if anyplace) does He want me to go? Does He want me to tweak how I'm treating Tom lately? Should I earn some money today? Print-out some coupons or complete some surveys? What subject should I learn about Today? What sorts of exercises should I do? Should I find a couple healthy recipes online? Who should I email with some encouragement?

Today! I can handle Today.

But tomorrow, both literally and twenty years from now? Nah, not so much. Why? Because we walk to our future one Today at a time.

Grace spills herself all over Today. She's everywhere. She's here to help and advise and strengthen and to complete things, too (ah, sweet completion!).

Grace is why I can handle Today. She is a worry eraser. A trust booster, as well. Grace, truly, is amazing.

Without Grace I'd live like people who don't even know God, you know, The Worriers About the Future and The Fearful of Today. And that would be horrible. It would be tragic to arrive in Heaven and suddenly realize, "Oh! I could have lived a whole other better, joy-flooded way. If only. If only--for each Today--I'd sat beneath the white light of Trust, soaked awhile, then let Grace's hand pull me up and lead me through the hours."

Well, I'm aiming to get to Heaven with as few "if onlies" as possible. Of course, there'll be some since on Earth we only "see and know in part," but as I said, my aim is to limit those. 

With God and Grace, Life is a colorful adventure made easier by true faith and trust and wisdom for right decisions. May I never allow worry and fear to turn it into a sad, difficult and dark one.


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"Trust and obey,
for there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey."   ... copied


"Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated)."  ... John 14:1



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Oh! I found this to be visually stunning, like a painting-come-to-life. Waaaaaaait for it........... It's the jump at the end of the (short scene) which was awesome.


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Money and Mercy



So! On Monday Tom texted back and forth with his best buddy from his former job and oh my... Since they laid-off Tom and three other men, they've been working the few remaining (young, strong, verile) guys into the dirt.

There's no way Tom (he with post-polio and shoulder and back problems) could have kept-up all these 16 months later. He would have had to quit, and hey, that would have meant no monthly unemployment checks(!) which would have meant disaster, barring a financial miracle from God--and hey! That could have happened, too. God, after all, is Master of Creative Problem Solving. I certainly believe that.

But whatever, I'm so thankful that not once did I get all accusatory toward God when Tom was fired. Instead, I(truthfully) became upset with Tom and myself because we'd missed the signs that the lay-off was coming and we only had two months' worth of expenses in savings. My own presumption that God would take care of us by always keeping Tom employed--that's what bugged me the most.

So anyway, Monday's texting conversation made things even clearer than they'd already become. Over and over, God shows Tom and myself truths by peeling back one thin layer at a time--never all in one big, "Kaboom! Here's the whole picture!" Uh, no.

I know someone whose husband was almost laid-off this year and they both utterly panicked because they've bought tons of toys on tons of credit, even though he makes a very good living. Since she's a friend (and since she's not asking my opinion--oy!), I can't say anything to her, but if I could? I'd say something like this:

Given Today's economy, please stop buying toys. At least for now.
Pay-off your credit cards.
Start saving money in an account you can access without early withdrawal fees.
Learn all you can about saving money on food, gas, utilities, housing, etc.
Get your house in order. Sell what you don't need and put that money into savings.
Improve upon your strengths. Get to know yourself. Get to know the job market for people with your qualifications.
Discover a couple extra ways you could supplement your income--just in case.

I have few regrets in this life, but I do regret that Tom and I hadn't put more money aside in savings. Now, God has taken amazing care of us nonetheless and all our needs are met, but I still feel bad that we've had to make God work harder than He should have had to. And yes! Nothing is too hard for Him, of course. But always, God has His part and we have ours and I just wish we would've taken ours more seriously and not been so darn presumptuous.

Thankfully, we didn't have any credit card debt (except for what we'd charged for the train vacation we were set to take four days later) so at least there we did follow our convictions.

But hey! God is way more merciful than any of us deserves (waaaaay more) and He expects us to accept that mercy and the forgiveness which comes attached to it. So I'm not sitting here all head-bent-over in guilt. I refuse to live that way.

Instead, I'll just allow my past mistakes to positively affect my future. I'll learn from my errors, make the necessary changes and then move forward. And I think that is as God would have it.



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The photo? Some of my Christmas gifts. Aren't they pretty?


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Preparing For a Possible Lay-Off

Don't Panic! 10 Things to Do If You Get Laid-Off

How to Find a Job In a Slow Economy

Creative Ways to Earn Money From Home


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"Never assume anything!"



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Monday, December 26, 2011

Welcoming Newness of Life in 2012


Happy day after Christmas!

I awoke this morning feeling so contented after our first Christmas in Hobbit Cottage. Naomi arrived around 2:30 yesterday and even brought one of our grand-kitties, Sammy, her huge Tuxedo cat. And oh, now I'm a few inches closer to okaying two new cats of our own--watching Sammy rolling around in glee (with his Christmas catnip) just looked and felt so right.

Tom hung white Christmas lights in pretty loops across the porch and at dinner we all stared at the neighborhood's lights through the big window with white lights tucked along the sill and we had a candle on the table, too, and--well, it was all Just Right.

As always, Naomi's gifts to us were perfection and Tom gave me both things I asked for, one of which was a gift card to Amazon.com--oh joy! Except I must try not to obsess about just what to buy, but instead, give it all some time to see which desired objects rise to the top--and remain there.

Oh wow, 2012 will hold mega changes for Tom and me, what with Naomi's impending move to Tennessee and also, the aforementioned new cats, along with some vital monetary decisions we must make and trust will be right, as well as a possible family reunion in California.

But you know? All will be well. That's what I've learned to always believe, anyway, and I've found that a much better belief to grip than oh-dear-what-will-go-wrong-next?

Much, much better.

And already I'm considering adding some new variety to this blog. Oh, now don't worry, those of you who hate change--the premise and set-up here will remain the same. But I'd like to more often include links to places which might delight you, as well as links to coupons and ideas that can save you money. And too, I'd like to talk more about fear, how it ruins everything and how we must learn to control our emotions lest they control us and spoil an otherwise lovely life.

And how loving God with your whole heart changes absolutely everything.

So bring on 2012! This past year is nearly gone and--although I'm still celebrating God's rescuing this suburb damsel from the farm--it's time to move on to the new. New lessons, new obediences, new adventures and a new level of a deeper relationship with the Best Friend a girl could ever have.



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Found a nice place for some of our Christmas cards--along the top of the painting.


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Your Christmas greetings here and in emails meant so much--thank-you!


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"We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."  ... Romans 6:4


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Hallelujah! The little pencil is back here at Blogger...!! Hooray! :)


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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve



Can you believe tomorrow is Christmas already?

My, my, my... Could time race past any faster? I'm already contemplating New Year's resolutions and one of them will be to make the most of each day--stretch it, appreciate it, learn the most within it, come away changed from it, celebrate it.

Life sails by so quickly... and I intend to make it all count, even the days of rest and fun. Everything matters, every minute contains lessons, every moment can draw us closer to God.

Merry Christmas to all my faithful readers, to all of you who inspire me to keep writing this 'book'... Celebrate tomorrow with your whole heart, celebrate the days afterward, as well.


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On Thursday we used the gift card Naomi gave us to go to the local (fancy, but comfortable) theater to watch Mission Impossible. What a wild ride, indeed! We both loved this 'made for the huge screen' movie.

Read about it here.


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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ideas



Today I have something fun for you (though my idea of fun and yours may vary.) heh.

Anyway, for years I've occasionally tried locating online my old Jr. High music/choir teacher from California. He stands out in my mind because I still recall everything he taught us in our general music class (a miracle, indeed, that I can remember anything from 1973) and because he was a Christian. He told us he'd be singing in the choir at the big Leighton Ford crusade that night (Leighton Ford is Billy Graham's brother-in-law) and I recall spying him in that choir way down there on the football field.  The next day, I told him I saw him and we chatted about the crusade and probably, that was the only such conversation I had with a Christian teacher my whole time in public school.

So as I said, for curiosity's sake, I've tried locating him online. Only around 9 years older than us, his students, I figured he'd still be alive.

Well! Finally, I found him. A relative of his passed away and through her name I discovered tidbits of information about him, his wife and his children (he was single when I knew him). I almost have enough information to contact him and I'd love to send him a thank-you note for that amazing general music class he taught (I never looked at music the same after age 14) and taking the time to chat with shy, fraidy-cat me, Christian to Christian.

Anyway, here's the aforementioned fun part. When I googled his name, this lovely funeral remembrance card popped up for one of his relatives. (Be sure to click to open it.And the back! Don't miss the photos on the back.) I think it's the prettiest funeral program I've ever seen and I wanted to share it with you.  Which might sound kind-of morbid or weird, depending upon your outlook on death and funerals. But some of you who are always searching for new ideas might appreciate it. Again, here it is.

Also, through that same relative, I found this oh-so-cool family letter online. Now, it's quite long, but if you skim over it, it will also give you some nifty ideas for your own family history letter. (Scroll down to page 5--that's where the good stuff begins.)

 It's a compilation letter of various family members' histories with some exciting stories because many of them were missionaries in the early part of last century. There are some recent
autobiographies and updates on who has moved where and who recently had babies, etc., along with family photos.

Oh, the possibilities! So look it over here (again, go to page 5) and you'll see what I mean. I, myself, came away inspired (I looked over all 80 pages, reading some more closely than others. In places, it felt book-like and adventurous.).

So there you go. Ideas! I do love discovering creative ideas and you never just where they will find you.



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To protect his privacy, I'll not mention this teacher's name, especially since I've not yet contacted him. I know you'll understand.


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For those of you who take the time to comment--thank-you! I appreciate your encouraging comments more than you realize. Sometimes I do wonder whether anybody is getting anything out of this, so thanks for letting me know that you do.


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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Joyful Tidings

"I bring you tidings of great joy..."   ... Luke 2:10


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So this morning I watched my favorite Christmas show.

Was it Christmas in Connecticut? A Christmas Carol (one of a bazillion versions)? The Bishop's Wife? It's a Wonderful Life?

Nah, it was A Charlie Brown Christmas. In my opinion? That's the one that gets it most right. (Your opinion may vary. That's ok.)

At first, Charlie Brown goes around resenting
Christmas and complaining about his being neglected, how everybody, even his dog, has 'gone commercial' and how he just doesn't understand Christmas at all. Then Lucy pushes Charlie into involvement--get involved in the big Christmas play and you'll be happy, she intimates. Then when that fails, Charlie believes a Christmas tree will cure all his problems (new and old) so he and Linus go and buy a tree. But that only gets Charlie laughed at and more ridiculed than ever.

Finally his quest leads him to ask the right question, "Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?" and we all know the rest. Linus recites from Luke chapter 2 and for Charlie Brown, everything changes. Suddenly the complaints and hype and ridicule drop to his feet like scales and only one thing is left. Jesus.

He walks on, alone, filled with great peace and much hope that now, everything is going to be ok. Oh, he flounders a bit when he appears to kill his sweet little tree (don't we all flounder even after we've found Truth?), but his world rights itself again thanks to a little help from his friends. Joy returns and shows itself by spilling into the song, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.

"Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy." For too many years I complained here in this blog about all things wrong with December, like who said "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas and complaints of other peoples' 'commercialism spirit,' the way they crowd the stores, ignoring their feverish, screaming children while on their cell phones.

But never again. There are no tidings of great joy in that. No, that's called complaining and the Bible, frankly, tells us to knock that off. Instead, it tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, even if they don't do Christmas (or anything else) the way we believe they should. Love, you know, the greatest thing of all.

And even if this world has changed so much in our minds, veering infinitely far away from Capra's Wonderful Life, God is God and He is still good, especially when we fall hopelessly, helplessly in love with Him. For it's out of that love that we stop trying to be loved--and instead--we learn to receive it, a love that changes absolutely everything. Ourselves and way we look at Life and all people, for starters.

A love we're to spread and splash all around to a world ever searching for the Secret of Life. The secret we've been told, born anew into, the one we live daily, unless we, too, have forgotten, causing us to complain in a hopeless, bitter sort of way like everybody else. 

A relationship with Jesus is the secret we're compelled to share year-around, but especially each December. With joy.


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"And be ye thankful..."


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Happy 50th birthday to my sister, Corrine. Oh my goodness--weren't we just, like, nine and six the other day?


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Oh! Mammka became a follower of my blog this week so I zipped over to her blog and was purely delighted. If I'm understanding this all correctly, she is from Budapest and her blog is written in Hungarian. But! You can click on the "Translate" button and read what she's written in English. Yet there's more--she's a phenominal photographer--oh, many of you will adore her photos. Enjoy.


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Monday, December 19, 2011

Of Imagining

Never let your imagination grow rusty. Or discouraged.

A couple weeks ago I walked to our local Rite Aid for some vitamin C. It's located on the street at the end of ours which, when we mention the street name to friends, they wrinkle their noses and shudder. In places, it's downright sad and rundown, you know, with visual reminders that moan, "Our-glory-days-are-so-far-gone-it's-hard-to-recall-them."

But still, I like that street, even with its abandoned shops, torn awnings and graffiti.

Anyway, back to my walk to Rite Aid. I walked past a place with the word, fifties, in its title and I smiled because--when we first moved here--always I'd picture the inside of that building full of couples dancing 50's style. You know, people perpetually inside a room decorated somewhere between an old-fashioned nightclub and a malt shoppe for teens after school.

Tom and I would drive by and some days I'd picture it full of teenagers in poodle skirts and pony tails and other times I'd see (in my mind) glamorous couples sitting at small round tables with drinks and cigarettes, listening to a three-piece band on stage with the lights down low. Truth be told, all in black and white. :)

Always, I've been like this, even as a child. No wonder my parents tried to guess from which family kook I'd inherited my nostalgic genes.

Well, between that fifties place and Rite Aid, there's a huge, beautiful old school and oh, no way could I walk past there without picturing more girls in poodle skirts and pony tails clutching school books while talking with boys in jeans and crew cuts. Even the most non-nostalgic amongst you would have difficulty not picturing all that at this school. I really should go there and take pictures of my own, but it's only 28 windy degrees so here's a photo I found online:



There. Can't you just see the 1950's kids out front?

It was one cool, vintage, time travel walk that day. I've loved this Buffalo, NY area all these 18 years because it's a cinch to allow your imagination to whisk you backward a few decades and stay there, if that's what you choose.

Well, I came home that day and looked-up that fifties place online and discovered you can rent it for any type of gathering you'd like. Parties, weddings, etc., which is nice, of course, but it changed my head picture of how it must look inside. Suddenly I could picture only a sort of a community hall-type place with long tables and hospital-green walls. And suddenly it became more difficult to picture the malt-shoppe-nightclub 24/7 dwellers as I had before.

Tsk, tsk for letting something go so easily like that.

But now, oh! All those 24/7 dwellers in that fifties place are back, for this morning I discovered a photo online which someone took from inside:



Oh. My. Goodness. That's almost exactly what I'd seen inside my head.

Well, that will certainly teach me not to so easily let go of what my imagination created. And as I've known for many years, our imaginations can help get us through some hard times, some waiting times for something better. It's amazing how we can have that 'something better' even now, even today inside our heads--and how it can be just as satisfying as the real thing you can touch with your hands. If only we believe, even on a street others dismiss as having any value.


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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Changes Around The House




So I came across this photo of my former room in the old farmhouse and thought, hmm! I like that. So rather than copy ideas from a magazine, this time I copied ideas from myself:

The tablecloth is nice for a cozy winter look and helps cover the icy feeling of the iron bistro table. So happy sigh.

Then I moved the eucalyptus swag thingy from over the window to over the dresser mirror and I like the added drama:




The creative spirit moved downstairs to the kitchen:


Well, I've not done this part yet, but I'm considering painting the archway an autumn-gold along with the wall around the window you see in my blog header over to a point near the entertainment center with Blue Boy on its back. I'd end with a floor-to-ceiling piece of molding. Hmm. We'll see. All I know is I must do something with that arch so to bring it out more.
 
Anyway, I'd been missing these three fan ladies so I moved them here to the kitchen counter:
 
 
... then I moved this oval painting (which had been there) above that Dollar Tree stick-on-saying I showed you weeks ago:
 
 

I think it looks just right.

Anyway, it feels good to feel creative again. Truly. And for the record? I've never fallen in love so quickly with a house before. Never. Usually it takes me around two years to feel enamored but here at Hobbit Cottage? It took just 2 minutes.


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Anyone in need of another visit to my favorite peaceful Christmas place online? Here you go again. Take all the time you need.


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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hobbies and Callings and Pennies, Oh My!



Actually? The 'regular people's cable tv'--in some ways--has proved helpful.

How? Well, Tom's watching all those kitties and puppies has helped him realize, firmly, that he loves animals and perhaps he'd enjoy volunteering at our local animal shelter. And with his love of learning about history, also, maybe he could develop a hobby/job/club around that.

Whew! I was so relieved to hear that because for all these 15 months of his joblessness, Tom's not been able to figure out what to do next. What he loves or makes him tick (as they say). Well, besides guitars and amplifiers, he loves those. And music. And football.

See, I believe that as with tons and tons of men and women who work full-time then hit retirement, Tom was so busy with his job all those years, working 12-hour days, that he never had (or never took) the time to develop other interests or callings or talents, though he did sing and play the guitar beautifully until he stopped a decade ago and doesn't wish to start back up.

And the same thing often happens to moms who build their lives around their children. When the (adult) children fly away from the nest, silence! Suddenly there's too much quiet and the daily goals and visions fade away and the shock of it all has paralyzed many a terrific mom.

That sort of "stay busy, busy, busy so you don't have time to know who you really are" can sink the best of us.

But how to rise above it? I would say start asking questions: "What do I love to do? To watch? To read? What kind of music do I like best? Where do I enjoy spending time? If I could travel anywhere, where would that be? What kinds of injustices in the tv news make my blood boil? What are my favorite colors? Do I have any hobbies? With whom do I enjoy spending time? What kinds of conversations make me feel vitally alive? If I could go back to college, what would I enjoy studying? If I could have any job, what would it be? What would I need to do first in order to acquire that job? Can I begin in a small way today to succeed?" And more.

Basically? I feel too many people reach their mid-40's or 50's without knowing who it is God designed them to be. Somehow they've spent whole decades unacquainted with--and avoiding-- themselves.

And for them I would say--it's never too late to discover who you really are. Today would be a marvelous day to begin the search, the exciting journey.


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Speaking of hobbies, I don't believe I've ever told you that for, like, forever I've collected wheat-back pennies. Oh, not in a hoarding, obsessive, wild-eyed sort of way, but for decades whenever I've found a wheat-back penny I've kept it and placed it here:


Someday I will do research then sit down and peer at them to see if any are worth anything more than 1 cent. I'd better do it quickly before my over-40 eyes rebel anymore than they already have (oh, the small writing!).

Which reminds me, a couple weeks ago I discovered this article about how lots of people are hoarding pennies made in 1982 and earlier. If a certain law passes, they'll be able to melt them down for the copper and make oodles of money. How fun! That inspired me to paw through our two largish change containers so I could separate the pre-1983 pennies from all the rest and I'm nearly finished doing so (Tom helped me a bit).

For years I'd been meaning to carry these containers of change to a machine which gives you a receipt which you then turn-in for cash, but hey! This time my procrastination did me a favor. I would have lost all those copper pennies otherwise. (Occasionally, I've found, procrastination comes in handy. But notice the 'occasionally' word!) :)

Just thought I'd share my penny hobby with you for fun.


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The top photo? That's my all-time favorite devotional book, God Calling. I've used it exclusively for more than ten years because it's like a daily note from God, one that always hits the spot. How could I ever give it up when it contains this sort of comforting loveliness inside?:


"Fullness of Joy. The Joy of Perpetual Guidance. The Joy of knowing that every detail of your lives is planned by Me, but planned with a wealth of tenderness and Love.


Wait for Guidance in every step. Wait to be shown My way. The thought of this loving leading should give you great Joy. All the responsibility of Life taken off your shoulders. All its business worry taken off your shoulders. It is indeed a Joy for you to feel so free and yet so planned for.


Oh! the wonder of this a God-guided life. To think anything impossible in such circumstances is to say it cannot be done by Me. To say that is surely a denial of Me.

"That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son." 1 John 1:3"









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If you'd like to follow God Calling daily online, go here.


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Speaking of puppies, oh! This video is adorable.


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Friday, December 16, 2011

Of Blessed January 2nd


So remember when Tom signed us up for "regular peoples' cable" so he could watch the remaining Nascar races? Well, as of January 2nd we're returning to "baby cable."


I can hardly wait until January 2nd.


Basically, all those extra channels are too big a temptation for Tom and me. Especially for Tom. :)


Even with all the extra HD stuff downstairs, all day long with Tom it's Animal Planet/History Channel/ESPN. Animal Planet/History Channel/ESPN. But mostly it's Animal Planet and I'm tired of nagging  teasing him about his constant diet of kitties and puppies.


Upstairs in Debra's World? It's HGTV/ABC Family/USA (USA shows tons of NCIS, the first seasons which are all new to me) and a few forays over to TCM and Hallmark.


But as Peter Walsh says, It's All Too Much.


The choices. The angst over all the choices. The ease of letting something else fill your brain and do your thinking for you. The addiction to being entertained. The need for background noise. The overload. The temptation to eat while watching. The snapping when interrupted during your favorite show (that's me, not Tom, really. He's more into politely pretending he's listening when you interrupt his shows). The inability to just say no to something new.


Baby Cable, take me away! Take me back to the measly, no frills 22 stations which hardly ever show anything interesting. Return me to hardly any choices and the good ol' days of flicking the whole thing off because there was nothing on, like, most of the time. Boring has never looked so good.


As I said, hurry up January 2nd!  I can hardly wait for the return of no choices and sweet, sweet normalcy






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"And if your eye offend you, pluck it out, and cast it from you..."   ... Matthew 18:9

Yikes!


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A Promise Fulfilled



Got up again at 4:00 this morning, even though I stayed up till a whole 8:15 last night. heh.


Well, long about 5:00 I felt like numbering the ways that Hobbit Cottage is better than Healing Acres and the list became long:


The way the bird feeders stand closer to our windows so now we don't need to use binoculars.


How we're closer to shops and businesses of all kinds (thus saving gas money galore) and the way my 8-miles-closer supermarket is an enchanted-lost-in-Time place, what with its 1950's music which makes me feel like a vintage housewife, even while driving to the store because of my dream-come-true radio station.


The fact that I have real kitchen cabinets, a smaller yard I can manage alone and a watchable river from our front porch. The way Hobbit Cottage belongs to us, no monthly payments necessary (though of course, there are taxes. Hard to avoid those, especially in New York!).


The prettier, more comfortable upstairs area, a truly non-skid bathtub with a shower head powerful enough to rinse my hair and a bathroom tissue holder I don't have to curse at just to put on a new roll.


A clean, dry basement where I can hang my laundry to dry rather than lug a basket of heavy wet clothes up two flights of stairs so to hang them upstairs in bad weather. Actual sidewalks for afternoon strolls, a downstairs office for Tom (and all his stuff) and the way the sun shines all day in the living and dining rooms and kitchen.


In fact, only one thing isn't quite as good--we don't have an automatic garage door nor electricity out to the garage. But hey, I can so live with that.


So anyway, at the aforementioned enchanted supermarket this morning while singing along with Those Were The Days, My Friend (and not caring who heard me) it hit me:


God kept His promise.


What promise, you ask? Well, way back in February the day after Lennon The Cat passed away, my heart truly felt like it was going to snap in-half inside my chest. I was that heartbroken, for I'd never given so much of my heart to a cat before. Then so quietly I 'heard' God say, "Oh Debra, I will make this up to you. I promise."


And all these months later, He has. Above and beyond what I could ask or even think. And because God and Grace live here at Hobbit Cottage, too, my happiness is complete. Without their presence and favor, it would all just be stuff and things. But with them? It's all amazing.


So give God time, ok? The first half of my year was dreadful circumstance-wise, I couldn't read exactly what was happening and outside of my relationship with God there was little joy. But the last half? Incredible inside, outside, upside-down.






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Oh! Some of you may enjoy these Fairytale Houses. Fun stuff!


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Nearly finished mailing out my Christmas cards. They seemed to send themselves off this year. Kinda hard to explain, but it was good and a joy, whatever it was.


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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cats and Grace



Ok, I confess. In all the craziness of changing my whole lifestyle, moving back to the 'burbs, creating a home for Tom and me at Hobbit Cottage and recovering from a difficult year of too much death-- it's been rather nice not having any cats to deal with.

I mean, I remember while packing up the ol' farmhouse I'd step beside an empty packing box and think, "Oh! Better close that up lest a cat use it 'for evil purposes.' And then it came to me, "Oh wait! We have no cats. Lennon and McCartney died and Naomi's cats moved away with her."

I'd leave the butter uncovered on a counter top and think, "Better cover that or else there'll be tiny tongue marks all over it." Or I'd pause to close an opened door so no cat would sneak outside or remove clothes from the top of my bed lest a cat nap upon them. Or 6:30 would roll around and I'd think, "Better shove myself off the couch because it's time to feed the cats."

But again, there were no cats.

Yet my other confession is that the lazy side of me rather appreciates this easier, cat-free lifestyle. After all, cats can be messy, noisy and expensive at times. But oh, they can also be fun, cozy and downright comforting, too.

So anyway, (even more confessing here) two weeks ago I saw the Christmas version of the Sarah MacLachlan SPCA ad and oh my goodness. I'd never seen such sad, sad expressions on animals' faces! (A version of the commercial is here, but I think they left out at least five of the most despairing cats and dogs ever.)

 I watched that commercial upstairs here and I thought, "Oh, Tom and I need to go get more cats at the animal shelter today! Heck, let's get a dog, too. Those poor animals need us!" And I nearly ran downstairs to tell Tom to grab his jacket because the time had come for more cats and the dog we'd recently discussed maybe getting.

But I remained here on the carpet in front of the tv. Why? Because I know better than to allow my emotions boss me around, for they'll just change after a day, a week or a month. And then my emotions will want something else, something new, something different. They'll probably want to quit, too, whatever they told me to begin.

But what I desire to follow, instead, is Grace. Man, Grace knows what's she's doing. She's aware of the perfect time to get a cat (or anything else) and if you get the right thing at the right time, she sticks around to help you care for and enjoy it. She makes commitments easier because she keeps renewing your desire to finish what you've begun. Grace infuses joy into everything.

Grace truly is amazing.

So now I'm waiting until I hear Grace say, "Time to go get more cats!" She'll let me know when her time is right and when the right cats are there waiting for us. And both Tom and I will be ready.



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Actually did a bit of Christmas decorating today. I know, I'm shocked, too.  :)


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