Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Anticipation!




Oh boy, oh boy! Today is the final day of January and we are due for 50 sunny, luscious degrees. Wow.

And you know what? Maybe, just maybe, God will ask me someday in Heaven, "Debra, do you remember that glorious January 31st I sent you in 2012?"

And well, I want so much to be able to say, "I certainly do! I got outside and fed the birds and picked up downed branches and drove to the supermarket with a fistful of coupons for nearly-free stuff and I pushed my cart to the 1940's music and smiled at everyone who looked at me. And I kept remembering the gorgeous northern harrier you sent me the day before (along with the free dozen Cafe Escapes K-cups I got in the mail) and the way Naomi came to open birthday gifts and eat lemon meringue pie that evening."

That surely sounds so much better than replying, "No, don't recall that day. That was around the time I worried for hours because Tom's unemployment insurance would run out at the end of February which would be the same weekend Naomi would move to Tennessee so far away. And I was concerned about all the water seeping into our garage and wondering how we could pay to improve that whole garage situation in the Spring and I also remember wondering if we'd get majorly socked by the snow in February which we did not get in January.

Uh, no. I so don't want to stand there and tell Him that!

No, at nearly 53 I'm learning I can choose my thoughts. My emotions only have the power I give them and for too many years they dragged me around by the neck. Well, no more. Instead, when I find myself worrying, I now get very firm with myself and tell myself to knock it off. To choose faith, instead. To ask God what I should do, if anything... then continue thinking about honorable things of a good report.

And if there's anything I know for certain it's that today God will watch to see just how I'll use this sunny, 50 degree day gift He's giving me. I can barely wait to see that, too!



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My very favorite Andy Williams song ever.  I remember being 17 and falling upon my bed to stare at the ceiling through dreamy eyes whenever this song came on the radio. Ahh... happy sigh.


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"And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?" ... Luke 12:26


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Oh, and I added a few more tv series to that post which listed series you can watch instantly at Netflix. They were:

Bones
The Cosby Show
Dragnet
Hack
Numb3rs
The Rockford Files
Wings
The Wonder Years

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Monday, January 30, 2012

A Broad-Winged Hawk In My Own Backyard

Ooooo! Just a half hour ago I think I saw a broad-winged hawk in our backyard. Wow. It was the largest bird I've ever seen in the wild this close up. Now, these pictures are awful (taken through a window screen, etc.), but he'd/she'd moved to the tree by the time I got my camera. At first, he was calmly sunning himself on the fence, facing me, where I tried to memorize him while I wished so much that Tom was home, he being the major bird lover of the family.

Anyway, when the bird flew into the tree I heard a "kree, kree, kree" shriek as they're known to make. I'd just fed the sparrows, but the many excited little guys at our feeders had vanished at the sight of the hawk (or whatever it was).

So cool! And you can bet I was thanking God for such a special moment. Happy sigh.


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Here's what a broad-winged hawk looks like when someone knows how to use a camera. :)


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Save $1.00 off any Van de Kamps seafood item. You can print two.

Buy One Get One Free Ocean Spray Juice.  A Facebook coupon. These will go fast!

A free sample of Quaker Oatmeal Squares. Another Facebook coupon. Only 5,000 available.


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Sunday, January 29, 2012

You Probably Didn't Know...



In case you've wondered.....

No, I am not paying any attention to the current Republican shenanigans, presidential hopeful clownery, presidential election hopefuls race. I just don't care anymore. No single person will ever pull us up out of our present debauchery, for only God can do that and I don't believe He'll do it through politics. Ever.

Which reminds me, I didn't tell you, but after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot--and Sarah Palin and her gang refused to admit their gun-toting campaign slogans were a mistake--I stopped calling myself a Republican. I want nothing to do with that group. I've been an Independent ever since.

What are my current favorite tv shows? NCIS, American Pickers, Person of Interest, Hoarders. In that order. I only watch them online.

And no, I'm not watching American Idol this year. Not for any negative reasons, really, I just can't stay up that late anymore and after all these years I've gotten bored with it. I know how it works. Been there, done that.  ZZZzzzz.

Who are we having over to lunch next? Cher, our realtor friend who helped us buy sweet Hobbit Cottage. She is a delight.

Is it snowing at our house? Yes, it is. Majorly at this moment. But I'm feeling very grateful Naomi had two clear, snowless birthday days in which to celebrate. Since she was born, her birthday has often fallen on the snowiest, messiest day of the year, making her childhood birthday parties a bust. But this year and last she had snowfree birthdays. Happy sigh.



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And please.... I won't lecture you about your political convictions if you won't lecture me about mine. :)


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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Debra and Tom's Night Out


So. Yesterday was Naomi's 32nd birthday. Oh wow--every January 27th I get that Methuselah feeling. :)


And like last year, Naomi's band played at the restaurant where she works and Tom and I slipped in our ear plugs while the music played (making the decibels just right) and clapped and woo-hooed with all the other parents, grandparents and patrons for our daughter and the excellent musicians during the funky, jazzy, retro-ness of it all. We sat at a table with our nachos and sodas and with Naomi's buddy of 19 years, Kellee, and her sister. Here's Kellee--is she cute or what?:



We gave Naomi's server friend the size of tip God nudged us to and she thanked us genuinely. And while the guitars squealed and the drums thumped loudly, (music my favorite retro radio station almost never plays), I whispered prayers over this crowded room of people. That they'd all come to know Jesus. That they'd be protected, safe and that the ones who came only out of a fear of being alone at home would realize that --to God--we are all important, 24/7. Oh, and that someday we'd all, again, gather together to listen to music in a bright, heavenly room so very far away.

I bathed that dark place in prayer which is ever so much more profitable than murmuring criticisms of the drinking and the loudness of rock music shaking the very walls ( and forcing us to shout into each others ears. Literally.). Prayer will always accomplish things way, way more valuable and eternal than criticism. Always.

It was a good, blessed time--and for me-- kinda like being at church. Kinda. For it was a place to put godly compassion and my prayer muscles into action. A place to test my heart and bring forth what's really down in there.


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Has anyone else seen the animated movie, Bon Voyage Charlie Brown? Of all of Charles Shultz' masterpieces, this one is my favorite. Unfortunately, it's not on dvd and if you can find a vhs copy, it costs a fortune, but we taped it from tv eons ago while Naomi was young and she and I watched it together probably a dozen times. Last week I got it out and watched it and again adored the 1940's music in the bar where Snoopy goes and the French classroom scene where Peppermint Patty heckles poor Charlie Brown, still making me laugh till tears come. And the two funny car wrecks, the way Violet serves breakfast outside and the whole French feeling of the piece. Perhaps this is partly way Naomi took 5 years of French. Perhaps.

So anyway, I just wondered.... Does anyone else remember this seemingly-unappreciated film? I'm curious to know. For me, it's comfort tv at its very best.


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Yay! Cozy Little House has worried lately about Blogger someday accidentally eating her blog (as some blogs have been eaten) and by reading the comments she received I figured-out how to back-up and save mine to my computer in a file. Though of course, if someday my computer bites the dust (heaven forbid, but hey...), so will the back-upped blog. But at least it's safe for now. (And yes, I really should put it on a disc, something I'll have to ask Tom about.)


Anyway, interested in saving your own blog? Through your dashboard click on Settings, then click on Export Blog. Then click on Download and follow the directions. Easy. I thought mine would take ages to download (2,500+ posts), but it didn't take long. No problems, either.


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Friday, January 27, 2012

When The Stars Go Away

Gah. Another actor passed away.

I hate it when that happens. Of course, I also hate it when pretty much anybody dies.

Anyway, this time it was Robert Hegyes and he was only 60. Back in his Welcome Back, Kotter days, a 17-year-old me had such a crush on him. Such. A. Crush. I'd watch the show and just stare at him, dwell upon his cuteness, making me unable to follow the plot (which says much since the plots were geared toward infants). Alas.

Well, as I said, I hate it when actors young or young-ish pass away. In fact (and I'm wondering if any of you are like this, too) often I can no longer even watch an actor's films if I've discovered that he/she had a life full of sadness, struggle, or if their demise was horrid. Like last week I watched probably my favorite ever episode of The Twilight Zone ('Walking Distance'), after which I looked up the star, Gig Young, at IMDB. Good grief. I was beyond sorry that I did. (Do not read about him if you don't want your day spoiled.)

A couple days later I got out my new NCIS dvd's to watch the special features and the producer said they'd had to rewrite a script because the little person, Michael Gilden (who's character I'd super-enjoyed on two episodes) had passed away. I thought, "How sad! I wonder what sickness he died from." So I got up, went to IMDB again and discovered that he'd commited suicide at 44.

Oh dear. Now I will struggle while watching those two episodes, but of course, it's all so very, very much worse than that. Suicide. Another life snatched away by one's own hands, leaving thousands of freshly-wounded, grieving people in its wake. I don't know about you, but with every suicide I hear of, a part of me dies, too, and other parts limp around seeking healing from God.

We all need each other.
We all matter.
We are all vital to making this world go around as God meant it--and whenever anyone removes himself from the equation too soon--we all suffer in some ways. Ways not always known and recognized, either, but rather, felt with a sense of loss, defeat and the knowing that some things ought not to have happened--and yet they did.

Never, ever give up. The pain in your life today may not even be here tomorrow. And it's so important to stick around long enough to wait it out, to see what happens, to believe that suddenly! God can make a way where this is no way... and everything could change for the better in a moment.



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Acts 12:7


And suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared [standing beside him], and a light shone in the place where he was. And the angel gently smote Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, Get up quickly! And the chains fell off his hands
 
 
Acts 16:26


Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were shaken; and at once all the doors were opened and everyone's shackles were unfastened.

Acts 22:6


But as I was on my journey and approached Damascus, about noon a great blaze of light flashed suddenly from heaven and shone about me.


1 Thessalonians 5:2


For you yourselves know perfectly well that the day of the [return of the] Lord will come [as unexpectedly and suddenly] as a thief in the night.



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Oh! Almost forgot this Walton reunion interview from The Today Show. I just found it last night and enjoyed it much, though they should have mentioned Ralph Waite at least once! (Love him as Jethro Gibb's dad.)

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Field Trip Today

Hmm... Things feel a little quiet around this ol' blog so perhaps it's time to toss in some fire, something which some of you will deem controversial. Me? I see it only as truth, truth which has encouraged my heart and confirmed some unspoken things within me since I first read it.

What this article speaks of is never far from my mind, but it's a part of me I almost never show you here. But every once in awhile, I feel I must. So here you go ... and may it encourage you, too:

A Fresh Outpouring Has Begun  by Ron McGatlin


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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When We Let God Do The Hard Work...



"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed..."  ... James 5:16


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Well, that verse certainly works! I mean, remember that post from last week where I confessed Tom's tv habit was making me bonkers, not to mention a nag? (A post, by the way, I, personally didn't want to write, but God made me. heh.).

Well, ever since writing that post, things have been even more heavenly around here at Hobbit Cottage(!) Now, has Tom stopped watching lots of tv? Uh, no, but it has stopped bugging me and Tom has at least returned to spending time on the computer, exercising more and just balancing Life better. Imagine that--and all without my 'help.'

And me? I told God that Tom's sedentary life is His problem now, not mine... and good luck. :) And you know? I've been able to leave Tom sitting in God's hands, trusting that God really can care for him if I just pull my fingers off the situation... and knowing more than ever that changing Tom is certainly not to be my goal. Whew.

And oh! Things are good around here--really good. We've even begun watching documentaries for our mutual education and those times are anointed again as they were back in the old days down at the farm when we'd watch tv together on long afternoons.

Here are some favorite documentaries we've Instant-Netflixed so far in the order we enjoyed them:

Iditarod: The Toughest Race on Earth (we both loved and devoured all these episodes)
The American Hobo
Surviving Everest/Return to Everest (the return part was immensely interesting!)
Modern Marvels: Television (saw tons of stuff we'd never even heard of before)
Secret Yosemite
Secret Yellowstone
National Parks: Scripture of Nature

Of course, watching more tv with Tom may sound like an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" thing, but it's not. There are still lots of days when I spend 8 to 10 happy, busy hours upstairs here in Debra's World --what a loner/introvert I am! But like my buddy, Sara, I've decided to stop apologizing for it. The gifts God's given me are the type which work best when I'm alone, some things just being what they are. And yet if you must have people around you all the time, well, then probably your talents work best that way.

Either way, it's time that each of us stops childishly believing our own way is the only way to live a godly life. That's so ten minutes ago. Silly stuff.

Well anyway, I just wanted to point out today that the verse at the top of this truly does work. Just like all the rest of 'em.  :)



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A special welcome to those of you who are new around here!


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Save .55 cents on Florida's Natural Ruby Red Grapefruit juice. Click on 'beverages.' You can print two. Another great coupon for doubling on a sale price.

Save .35 cents on any Franks Red Hot Sauce. Use zipcode 10001. Click on food. You can print two.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lessons From Hoarders


So. I just watched the latest Hoarders, the Carrie/James episode.

Oh dear. I realize Hoarders isn't for everyone (especially those with a weak stomach), but every week, I'm grateful for it.

Why? It s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s my compassion. Helps me more seriously consider "the why behind the what," chips away at my judgemental tendencies and builds a stronger sense of patience within me for people who express their pain in ugly ways. It reminds me that people will do just about anything to fill that God-shaped hole within their hearts--and also-- when hoarders were harmed in their childhoods (as Carrie was), I always recall this Bible verse:

"It would be more profitable for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were hurled into the sea than that he should cause to sin or be a snare to one of these little ones." ... Luke 17:2

Oh, with each story of abused children I almost hear the rolling thunder of God's anger--like earthquakes! Just below the surface of the ground, a rumbling, a simmering. And when the seriousness of it all shows up in a physical form as it did with Carrie, harming her own daughter's life also, well, it only reaffirms God's serious stance on this all, when He who condemns both murder and suicide, even, to encourage the millstone thing!

And then with James in this episode, well, he made me cry. The therapist asked James what was the likelihood of him actually using the punching bag, even if he did repair it, and he replied, "Don't take my hope away." Then he began to cry because he was no longer a boxer, no longer a policeman, but an elderly man who can barely walk and whose life has become all about the rusted, broken junk in his yard. His stuff had become his purpose for living, his reason to get out of bed, and now the team would be hauling it all away.

(The therapist--one of my favorites-- went on to say, "We all need hope," but I kept wishing she would apologize for the chiding way she addressed his inability to ever use the punching bag again. Oh our voice tone! How familiar I am with that--often I get busted about using the wrong one. Anyway, perhaps she apologized off-camera.)

As I said, I watch this show each week in hopes that it's helping me become a more compassionate person, for after all, God said without love we are nothing--just noise. And how tragic, indeed, to live upon this planet for 60, 70, or 80 years, yet be remembered as just a lot of irritating, condemning, mind-numbing noise.


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"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing."   ... 1 Corinthians 13:1-3


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"Hope deferred makes the heart sick."  ... Proverbs 13:12


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Monday, January 23, 2012

When You're In The Mood For TV....

I was thinking... (uh-oh!). Sometimes when I mention watching a tv series through the instant view option on Netflix, some of you tell me you didn't know that series was available.

So in this post I'll make a list of various tv series I've enjoyed watching whenever I wish, day or night, at Netflix through the years or only recently as they've become available. A few of these Tom prefers more than I do and I tried to keep most family friendly. 

There's definitely something for everyone who likes tv here.

So here you go... in case others of you Netflix Heads were unaware these  series are available. 



24
Abbott and Costello
Adam 12
The Adventures of Tin Tin
Agatha Christie's Marple
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Alias
America's Funniest Home Videos
The Andy Griffith Show
The A Team
The Bernie Mac Show
Best Food Ever
Bob Hope Comedy Hour
Bones
Charlie Brown (various episodes)
Chicago Code
Clean House
CSI Miami
Coach
The Cosby Show
Date with the Angels
The Dead Zone
Dennis The Menace
The Dick van Dyke Show
Dragnet
Emergency!
The Event
Everybody Loves Raymond
Extreme Couponing
Family Ties
Fat \Albert and the Cosby Kids
Father Knows Best
Flash Forward
Flashpoint
Flipper
Frasier
Friday Night Lights
The Guardian
Gunsmoke
Hack
Hawaii Five-O
Heroes
Hoarding: Buried Alive
Ice Road Truckers
Iditarod
The Incredible Hulk
I Shouldn't Be Alive
Knight Rider
Lassie
Leave It to Beaver
Lie to Me
Life with Elizabeth
Life's Funniest Moments
Little Men
LOST
McLeod's Daughters
McMillian and Wife
Malcolm In The Middle
Man vs. Wild
Mission Impossible
Miss Marple
Monk
Mr. Bean
The Munsters
Murder She Wrote
My Hero
Mythbusters
Numb3rs
Our Miss Brooks
Out of the Wild Venezuela
Ozzie and Harriet
Pawn Stars
Portlandia
Private Secretary
Psych
Quantum Leap
Quincy
Rawhide
The Rockford Files
Ruby
Saved by the Bell
Spike Jones
Stargate Atlantis
Stargate SG-1
Star Trek
Switched at Birth
Take Home Chef
Touch
The Twilight Zone
Ugly Betty
You Bet Your Life
Wings
The Wonder Years
The X-Files




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There are many more tv series available, of course, including ones only viewable by discs-through-the-mail.

Personally, I'm going to print-out this list to help me remember what's out there for the days when I feel like watching something, but I'm just not sure quite what. :)


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Remembering ... With Balance

This weekend I glanced over at my blogroll list and saw Coffee, Tea and Me's blog post title, Come Saturday Morning. I thought, oh! I remember that song from eons ago. So I zipped over to Youtube and listened to the song, one with some perfectly-chosen nature photos, too.

And wow. Suddenly it was 1975 and I stood behind the 16-year-old me gazing out the large window of my bedroom in the town of Morgan Hill, CA, feeling happy, hopeful and so very, very young. 

Magical, really, how those old songs can take you places like, isn't it?

And you know? While the Sandpipers sang their pretty lyrics, I watched that teenage me and--at first-- I saw only the terrific stuff about that time in her life. The church friends she loved with all her heart and the fun times at her high school and the instances her family was all on the same page. And the Saturday adventures of her own when she'd get up early, dress, make some toast then wrap it up, grab a sweater and take off for a walk in the Saturday morning silence.

But you realize, don't you, that you can fly backward like that and it can all appear way too good. Immensely out-of-balance, for no time in our lives was ever that perfect, not for long, extended months and years (no time in History, either.) Only, our minds can tell us it was sublime. Our minds, our memory, can lie to us like that. (They can also convince us times were worse than they were, as well.)

So you know what I did? I played the song again and I waited until Reality arrived in that bedroom with us. As in, I recalled the times my friends disappointed me and my feelings got hurt and the awkward, difficult times at school and the instances my family made me, well, downright so angry I considered running away.

And then I smiled. As always, I remembered my present life actually is pretty darn great and has the potential to become a hundred times greater. I listened to the song some more, with the right perspective, as in, I'm thankful for the wonderful memories I have from my childhood.... and just as thankful for the memories I'm making now.  And for the wisdom and maturity gained--the stronger, more lasting peace and contentment than I ever had at 16. Or 26 or 30, even.

Then later, I switched-off the song and, still smiling, slipped into bed where I had dreams mixing the good and fun from yesteryear with the good and fun from today. And awoke with gratitude for it all--past, present and future.



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Come Saturday Morning... by The Sandpipers. Be forewarned--this recording just may whisk you away someplace, too. :)


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Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Book of Inspiration



As you may remember, each time we move I do a major, ruthless culling of my books. Of course, there are some which I (now, anyway) plan never, ever to give away.


One of those books is The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio  (How My Mother Raised Ten Kids on 25 Words Or Less). I discovered it the week it came out (2001), ordered it and have probably reread it 15 times. I own the movie, even.


Truly, Evelyn Ryan was tremendously inspirational and no other book can rocket me off the couch and into doing something useful faster than her daughter's book about her. After only a short perusal of pages I just can't stand it... I jump up, unfold my ironing board and catch-up on my ironing or I'll step over to the computer to print a few coupons, write in this blog or send some emails. Or I may wash the (procrastinated) sinkfull of dirty dishes or look into some ways online for making a few extra dollars. Just anything productive, doesn't even matter what.


If you've never read about this woman who supported her large family by entering tons of slogan contests back in the 50's, please check it out here. Evelyn's husband was the definition of a flake (a mean, alcoholic one) and things being what they were back then, she was unable to go out and work--so she worked from home. It was part adventure and part nerve-wracking stuff. I so admire Evelyn for not being a whiner nor a quitter, though heaven knows, if anyone had excuses for whining and quitting, she certainly did.


I've got it so much easier than Evelyn ever did, but still, during this season of my life I need to do what I can money-wise lest I be forced to go out and get a job I'd so rather not have. This book about Eveylyn's life inspires me to keep up with my couponing, refunding and the little opportunities I have happening online (I have soo neglected the surveys lately). And Evelyn's communications with her co-contesting friends always reminds me of the value of friendships through emails and snail mail, too.


Well, stop me before I go on all day--I need to get back to reading this book about a woman who's example still lives strong for us all. Or maybe I'll do some ironing while watching the movie. As I said, it's just so hard to sit still while reading the book.




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Would you like a free issue of the magazine, The Good Old Days? Go here. No credit card required.


Interested in more free magazines? Go here.


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Drats... I just now read that the author of this book, Terry Ryan, passed away back in 2007 of cancer. Read more about her here.


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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Of A Reunion with Contentment


"That was such a happy supper that Laura wanted it never to end. When she was in bed with Mary and Carrie, she stayed awake to keep on being happy... A splash of water on her face dimly surprised her. She was sure it could not be rain, for the roof was overhead. She snuggled closer to Mary and everything slid away into dark, warm sleep."  ... Laura Ingalls Wilder


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Ah, it's back to that consistent kind of happiness again for me.

I reread my blog posts written at our other suburb house and I had it then, that daily contentment. And at the apartment we had for six months afterward--it was there, too.

But at the farmhouse? That stay-awake-to-keep-on-being-happy feeling came and went. Was here again, gone again. 

In fact, one month after moving there, I remember standing with a rake out in one of our meadows and facing toward the adorable mobile home park three miles away. I thought, "Oh, how cozy it would be to have one of those tiny yards with bits of picket fencing and a corner sunflower patch and country decor and bird feeders and a compact house with rooms all on one level."

Shaking myself, I thought, "Debra! What are you doing?! You've dreamed about this farm for 30 years and your farm fantasies are all coming true!" And truthfully? I never forgot that day. It haunted me often, especially on the days contentment was 'gone again', days when I'd try to earn it back by reminding myself of all I've learned and all I've taught you here. Lessons about obedience and sowing and reaping and behaving and trusting and not doubting, worrying or being selfish.

At the farm, it felt like one long college course after another. A hard, difficult, never-ending course... and of trying to get back to where I'd once been.

And many afternoons, I wondered about that. Why didn't I feel the enormous contentment I once had? Why had it become so darn fleeting, so airy? Even after being such a good little Christian woman, I'd attempt to reach up and grasp the contentment I once had and it would poof! Vanish. So then I had to reach higher.

Well? I'm no longer going to try figuring it all out. Not the whys or whats or becauses.

No, it was what it was. I do understand some of it, such as, God gave Tom and me a farm for three years, we had many lovely, dream-come-true days there, but never--never--did I experience the consistent, daily sort of happy contentment which I've known at Hobbit Cottage for four months straight. A type of happy contentment I don't have to pray for or earn. The same type of happiness I knew in those two other houses before the farm.

That peaceful, stay-awake-to-milk-it-longer contentment is just here. I mean, it abides. With me here at home and wherever I go, nearly all the time. And the reunion has been oh so sweet.

We make ourselves insane sometimes by questioning things to death. By wondering and figuring and reasoning our way into confusion. And well, I am so not going there again! Spent way too much time over in Confusion City back in the 1990's. Satan is the god of confusion, after all, so who would want to spend time in his downtown area?

Nah, God will explain the whys of it all better to me as time goes on--or perhaps He won't. God decides what to explain and what He'd rather we just accept with trust.We err when we demand that He explain Himself, His plans for us--or else! On this side of Heaven it's sooo much about knowing God rather than demanding He explain all the fuzzy details to us, past, present or future.

 It's about truly being ok with unanswered questions... and learning valuable lessons from the answers we did receive. Of learning our own personal lessons well so not to repeat mistakes.

At least, that's how I see it now. And today I'm perfectly ok with the not knowing... and just basking in the contentment with which I've been reunited.








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This woman will inspire the proverbial socks right off your feet! If you can't seem to get moving today, this will do it for you... and will keep you moving on into next week. ;) (A special thanks to my buddy, Wilma, for this link.)


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"Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls."  ... Matthew 11:29


"Trust requires un-answered questions."      ... Joyce Meyer


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Friday, January 20, 2012

Broad, Sweeping Generalizations... Fine and Dandy?



"There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community."  Proverbs 6:16-19


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Probably 20 years ago God convicted me to knock-off making broad, sweeping generalizations. They tend to be negative, so I'd assumed all these years that He just didn't want me running around saying negative things about the people He created. And there is that.

But this week I believe He showed me another reason. I'm thinking it's because broad generalizations tend to be, well, lies.

Examples of some common ones we often hear?

"Parents nowadays let their children run wild. Every time you go to a store, kids are running around, screaming."

 So.......... all parents let their children run wild? Every store everywhere has screaming children inside, 24/7?

Or, "People nowadays are all selfish. They think only of themselves."

So.......... all people are selfish? No one does kind things for anybody besides themselves?

Or, "People who live in cities don't even know their neighbors anymore."

So.......... no one who lives in a city is acquainted with his neighbor? No one?


Hmm.

God takes a strong stance toward lying. Basically, He hates it.

So today, this is what I'm thinking: God works on changing me so to yank out "those little foxes that spoil the vine." He doesn't want me wandering around, cluelessly, doing the things He hates. You know, then asking the air, "Why don't I feel right anymore?  Why can't I feel free like I used to?" (Well, duh.)

At times like those, it could be that I'm walking around telling lies(!) Making those untrue, broad, sweeping generalizations, grieving the Holy Spirit... and feeling "off" inside because hey, I know better. I've attended that 'Do Not Lie Bible Study'. And the 'Why God Hates Lying' church sermon. Been around those blocks 200 times (at least!).

And when God gives more, He expects more.

And oh, I love this, neeed this:

"Stop being critical and you may be blessed with more creativity and quicker understanding." ... Catherine Marshall (as recalled by Joyce Meyer)

That, too,  is part of  why I let God show me what's all wrong inside: so that I'll become free. More creative and way more compassionate. So that I'll have something valuable to give a clueless, hurting world who needs a huge, loving God so very much. 


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"Then you will know the truth and the truth will make you free."  ... John 8:32

"For unto whom much is given, of him shall be much required..."  ... Luke 12:48


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Tracy shared her Valentines' decorating around her house and got me so inspired! I hunted around for some old Valentines and hope to put them in my window today.


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Get a free "I Love Vegetable Gardening" bumper sticker here. Forget putting this on the back of your car--it's cute enough to frame! :) Be sure to click on the link in the confirmation email they'll send right away. Supplies are limited.


Save $1 on any package of Brawny paper towels (a single roll should qualify). A Facebook coupon.You can print two.

Save $1 off Celestial Seasonings Wellness Tea. Another Facebook coupon.

Save .75 cents off any small Marie Calendar's fruit pie (single serving type). Great for doubling then using on a sale price.

Save .75 cents off any Lipton green tea with superfruit flavor. Another Facebook coupon.



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More examples of lies, uh, broad generalizations:

No one plays good music on the radio anymore.
No one writes good music anymore.
There's never anything worth watching on tv nowadays.
They don't make good movies anymore.
Teen-agers today are all thugs.
No one delivers milk in glass bottles anymore.
Mega-churches are nothing more than Christian entertainment.
All tv evangelists are schiesters.
Prices today are too high on everything.

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Ack! I received a second kind comment early this morning, one from anonymous, but Blogger ate it! Or perhaps the person changed their mind and deleted it (even though it was nice). Either way, just wanted you to know I saw it and appreciated it. Thanks.


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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Penny-Pinching--Good Stewardship?



"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love."  ... 1 John 4:18


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Of course, many different types of Bad News Stories (as I call them) sadden me. The murders, the sinking ships, the deadly earthquakes or tornadoes, etc.

But what ranks high in my personal Top 5 of bad news? When I hear that an elderly couple (or single person) died inside their home of a heat-related illness because they thought they couldn't afford air-conditioning.

Oh, that makes me both sad and a little angry, too.

Months ago while we chatted with our friends, John and Donna, about the 'old days', John brought up how, when he was young, he had an air-conditioner that was enormous, heavy and cost a ton of money to use. Then he said he was thankful for Today's air-conditioners because they were smaller and cost only a fraction to use daily.

That's when I thought of something. I spoke up and said, "Oh! I'll bet that's why you hear of elderly people dying in their homes during the summer. Perhaps they refused to buy an air-conditioner because they believed they still cost a ton of money to run."

Everyone nodded their heads and said, "Could be."

(Now, hang in there with me while I try to make a point.)

Always, even since being a teenager, I've adored reading How To Save Money books. I find it fun to discover ways to create something from nothing, to use more imagination than cash and to try to get the most you can from a simple dollar. But some of those books take it too far (imo) and I have to watch myself that I don't go there, too.

I've read a few books (I'll not mention titles lest I offend you) which have the cost of everything figured-out down to the bare penny. Like, how much it will cost you to make a bowl of oatmeal on a gas stove versus an electric one. Or how long you can leave a room to make it worth turning off the light so to offset the 'surge price' of turning it back on (the answer is at least five minutes, in case you wondered). Or how much you will save making sun tea as opposed to heating water on a stove (instead of just finding the fun in setting your tea jar out on your driveway on a sunny, summer day). And much more pinch-the-penny-till-it-cries stuff.

The problem I find with that type of penny-pinching?  They've totally factored out the God part of the equation.

What about God's provision for His children who He dearly loves? Where is the figure which says if we do what we can do, God will do what we can't? And how is this kind of fear-based, one-wrong-move-and-it's-living-on-the-streets-for-us lifestyle showing anything positive about God's supernatural provisional abilities as a Father?

Fear is a thief. Fear is the exact opposite of faith, so it will repel blessings rather than attract them.

Just something to think about today. Rather like the way I think about those elderly people who've died in their homes in our area on summer days and how it saddens me that they didn't believe  that--because God wanted them to stay sufficiently cool--He would help pay their cooling bill if only they had a perfect love, a perfect trust in Him who loves us so perfectly.

And how, because of a fear of lack, they died unnecessarily much to the horror of their neighbors, like me, who can never quite shake the haunting memory.


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Okay, disclaimers:

Yes, some people just hate air-conditioning. If they hate it and don't need it, ok. But is that a good enough reason to die for lack of it?

And yes, sometimes air-conditioners break down. But God can arrange it so that we can afford to have them repaired or replaced. They need not sit in windows for 30 years, broken.

Yes, some people enjoy figuring down to the last pinched penny. If so, then--most likely (she reasons)--they're not living with a fear of lack so there's no real problem. More power to them!

And yes, we're to be good stewards of the money we're given. Good, faithful stewards, not fearful ones. God had some pretty strong words for the fearful steward who buried his money in the ground so not to lose it.  (See Matthew 25)


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"I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." ...  Psalm 37:25

"But the Lord's kindness is forever with those who fear him; so is his justice, for their children's children, for those who keep his covenant and remember his commands, for those who put them into practice." ... Psalms103:17-18

"With God nothing is impossible." ... Luke1:37


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There are other videos with this one, below. I find them enjoyable and inspiring to watch.
How To Feed A Family of 4 on $15 A Day  (Use the arrow below the videos to find this specific one.)


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P.S. I often think about the subject of this post during the winter when I find myself feeling cold in the early mornings, wondering whether I should turn the heat up to 57 degrees before 6:00 am or whether I should just spend some more time buried under blankets so to save money. Often God reminds me, "Hey Debra. Give me some credit, ok? I'll provide for you. Turn up the heat if you need it."

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Oh! Remember those old-fashioned, bad-for-you-but-they're-adorable Jiffy mixes? You can order "Hospitality in a Jiffy Recipe Book" from them by way of snail mail. So fun! Just be sure to send back the confirmation email.


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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Taking Anti-Nagging 101 Again



Oh! Since moving to Hobbit Cottage my passions have all happily resurrected themselves.

I find I'm passionate about:

Spending time with God
Encouraging others through writing in this blog
Searching for online coupons, supermarket shopping for great deals
Emailing friends and those who need encouragement
Reading for pleasure
Learning new things, especially how to live cheaply, though well.
Decorating, keeping a neat house
Finding favorite tv shows/movies/documentaries online
Cooking while listening to my new favorite retro radio music station

But Tom? What's he passionate about here at Hobbit Cottage?

Watching tv


Gah. That's it.

Oh my, do you know how frustrating it is when I (me, me, me), the Great Inspiration Spreader, can't inspire her own husband to get up off his recliner?

I've heard people say, "Oh, it was so humbling when my students nominated me for Teacher of the Year." But do you know what's a whole lot more humbling than that? It's when you spend months nagging your own husband and sending him inspiring email links and lecturing, psycho-analyzing, and sharing all sorts of pep talks only to have God tell you, "Uh, Debra... Have you noticed none of this is working?"

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Lord. I noticed. I know, I know.

So once again, God's telling me to back-off. To lose the constant low-grade frustration. To remember that I'm not to be my husband's teacher and to put Tom in God's hands, trust God with him there, then just continue along my merry way with my own passions. Because hey, living what you preach is the most powerful thing on Earth, especially if there's love involved. And it is love that's, ultimately, making me want to see Tom reach his full potential. But nagging him into that full potential? Nah, that will not work.  God will see to that.

"Just live the life, yourself. Live it, live it, live it. Inspire by doing... and trust. Trust much."

Yeah, Lord, I know. But, like, please help me remember that for more than just two days in a row, ok? :)



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In case you're wondering, Tom seems perfectly happy and contented to watch tv for a living, yet he also agrees with me whenever I try to coach him to do other things (the man knows how to avoid an argument). I tell him if I could just see him trying to find a passion, I'd feel better.

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"The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations (and well-meaning housewives...heh...) and thwarts all their schemes."   ... Psalm 33:10


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.55 cents off any Sunsweet dried fruit. This is a Facebook (and SmartSource) coupon and you can print two. Another great one for doubling when there's a sale.

Save $1 off 2 Almond Breeze products. SmartSource coupon. You can print two.

70 more SmartSource coupons here, including .75 cents off two Domino sugar products. After eight months of no longer being able to print SmartSource coupons--suddenly!--I was able to print them on Sunday evening. I was thrilled because they often have terrific coupons available. Every once in awhile this past year I'd check to see if the problem fixed itself, hoping beyond hope that it had and hooray! Somehow it was fixed this time (many people reported having problems these months, too). Goes to show--never, ever give up (unless God tells you to...smile...)


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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Using Creativity to Customize



Ahoy! I've reached a happy medium with Facebook.

You may recall someone hacked my account and suddenly my Facebook friends began receiving annoying emails saying they'd won contests I'd recommended, or other such nonsense, and the hacker began an account which appeared exactly like mine, etc.

Sooo annoying.

So eventually I deleted all my friends (not easy nor pleasant) so to save them from the emails and alerted the ones who'd signed-up with the hacker's account believing it was mine, etc. I deleted all my photos and personal information, too. A dark blip during our otherwise lovely first weeks at Hobbit Cottage.

Originally, I tried to make my Facebook account totally disappear. Someone online said if you de-activate your account, wait over two weeks before returning, your account will be gone. Ha! Didn't work.

So here's the happy medium I mentioned. Though my Facebook page is pretty much empty (no photo or likes or history, etc.) I leave it open so to send the occasional message to friends whose email addresses I don't have, especially when their birthdays come around, etc. Also, I snag lots of free coupons or items by taking advantage of companies' free Facebook offers. Too, I enjoy receiving email from a handful of Facebook groups I'd joined, such as Fans of Anne LaBastille and one which enjoys Grace Livingston Hill's books. And it's fun to check-in with a group which tells us what's going on in the mountain town where I graduated high school and met Tom and lived a total of 12 years.

Truly, I don't understand now how I ever had time to keep-up with 140 friends there all those months! Must've been one of those Grace things--Grace helped me swim Facebook's waters back then, but then she swam away.  So that meant I needed to move-on, also, lest Facebook (and Life) become downright hard.

I am so weak without Grace.

Anyway. As I've custom-made Facebook for my needs, I've learned it's possible to customize much of my daily, around-and-about Hobbit Cottage life,also.

Examples? Rather than battle crowds at the supermarket, I go early in the morning (around 8:00 am) and practically have the entire store to my peace-loving self. I can customize how often I go, too, when I'm conscious enough to plan ahead.

And instead of being interrupted in the mornings to cook breakfast for Tom, I've asked him to make his own breakfasts on those mornings I'm in the middle of something. And rather than complaining when he gets up during my oh-so-loved wee, early hours of morning, I just stay upstairs and enjoy my quiet time up here, alone.

I use Netflix and the Internet to watch shows at my convenience instead of having to pause a certain time in my day or wait around for primetime when I'm barely awake. Rather than brave snowstorms to run and get library books, I buy books throughout the year at yard sales and save them for winter (or reread long-held favorites). I stock-up on groceries so to avoid snowy trips, too, and--to a point--I'm in control of supermarket prices when I save money by stocking-up on enough sale items (using coupons, too) to last six months, a year or just until the next sale. I can customize the prices I pay for household items and clothing when I shop thrift stores and yard sales.

To my modern world I can add retro clothing and hairstyles and vintage magazines, movies and books and music.

There's more of course, but today I wish to encourage you with this: it's possible to customize much of your own life, as well. At least parts of it. Sometimes we feel helpless, as though our circumstances are more powerful than we are, when actually? We've just not yet used our creativity and wisdom, our ability to say 'no,' nor asked for what we need so to take back a certain amount of control we've all been given. 

With God and Grace, customizing portions of our life is possible. At least, that's what I'm currently learning.



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Save .50 cents on two boxes of Green Giant frozen vegetables. Use your back button to print two. Another good coupon for doubling and using with a sale price.


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Discovered last week that--finally--Netflix has placed the original Law and Order on their instant view list. Yay! I only discovered this show four years ago (where had I been?) and especially enjoy the "Lennie Years." This show sometimes reminds me that not everything in Life is as black and white as I'd like to believe it is. Imagine that.


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

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." ... Philippians 4:13


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Friday, January 13, 2012

Of Joy In The Blizzard




Oh! Earlier this week, Spring arrived for a short visit. I swept the front porch (where squirrels snack from the compost boxes) before John and Donna arrived Wednesday for lunch and I just wanted to remain out there in the sunshine, blue skies and cool-but-not-cold fresh air and sweep, sweep, sweep forever. The sun shone through all the windows during our visit and we chatted and laughed and everyone forgot it was early January.

But then there's this morning. There's a bbbbblizzard out there!



Oh well, this is Buffalo in early January, after all.

Time to gather all my coziest books and blankets, time to sit in bed and read and drink hot chocolate and watch movies and favorite old tv series. Time to remember there's still a big ol' active, hurting world still spinning out there, too... and do something about that.

And shovel snow, of course.


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Here's something which has haunted me in the very best way since I read it in my dearly-loved daily devotional, God Calling. You know how you can read the Bible or a devotional or well, any book a hundred times and something different will leap out, shake you, then follow you around? Well, that's what this is doing to me:

     "You are to help save others. Never let one day pass when you have not reached out an arm of Love to someone outside your home--a note, a letter, a visit, help in some way.
     Be full of joy. Joy saves. Joy cures. Joy in Me. In every ray of sunlight, every smile, every act of kindness, or love, every trifling service--joy."


Ah, I love that---am still chewing on it and allowing its truth to change me.

The joy it's speaking of? It's not to be a mask I wear. Not something I fake so I'll appear like a happy Christian who's after her good girl brownie points and who's had her sins forgiven and has Heaven to anticipate.

No, this joy is to be real. The result of allowing God to deal with me, to point out the unforgiveness, worry, jealousy, fear and dread and the seeking of appreciation from everyone but Him. And then allowing Him to 'meddle' in all these affairs, correct me, show me better ways to live and be, then have Him sweep away whole heart rooms of garbage.

You know, like when the folks on Hoarders stop clinging to all their trash, admit their deception, then allow someone else to dig them out, teach them better ways, and help set them free.

It's kinda like that.

When God sets us free, the joy comes flooding in. The joy of being rescued becomes so real, valid and true and that's when joy begins to save and heal and light the way for those people still stumbling in depressing darkness.

At least, that's what I'm thinking, concluding, while doing all this chewing. In joy, even in a Buffalo January bbbbblizzard.


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Ten Easy Ways to Kill Your Quiet Time


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Oh! Yesterday I watched one of the best documentaries (imo) ever. It's called "Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird." Loved it for many different reasons, mostly the writing/Harper Lee one.

I saw this via instant view at Netflix and I just may watch parts of it again today(!)


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"You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."  ... John 8:32


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Oooh! These two-minute videos were so inspiring. I've watched the first ten (or so) and thought I'd share them with you. Second Act Videos.


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Save .50 cents on any Starkist tuna pouch. Use your back button to print two. These are great for doubling when there's a sale price.

Save $1 on any Pom Poms Wonderful Fresh arils. (This is like a cup of pomengranite 'seeds'.
Looks tasty and quite healthy, indeed.) You can print two.

A free Proctor & Gamble Brand sample kit. This is spiffy! You can choose which samples and coupons you'd like sent to you. You'll need to sign-up at the website first (if you haven't already), but it's worth it.


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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Major Wednesday This and That



Oh happy day! We are back to 'Baby Cable'. Twenty-two stations is more than enough for me (Tom might answer differently), especially since we also have the Internet and Netflix and dvd's galore around the house.

More. Than. Enough.

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Did you know that Pauley Perrette, "Abby" on NCIS is 42-years-old? Eegads! I thought more like 30. NCIS is my current favorite show, the only one I knew I'd miss from Regular Peoples' Cable (USA plays it a lot), so with my amazon.com gift card I bought a season for NCIS fixes when I need them.

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Forgot to tell you Tom bought me a nifty crock pot for Christmas to replace the yard sale one which broke. Is this cool-looking, or what?:





Ack, it's a dark photo, but trust me, it looks perfect in our kitchen.


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Oh wow, did you read Susan Branch's latest Willard?  Her beliefs about Valentine's Day mirror mine exactly! (Felt kinda eerie, actually.) I was so blessed and inspired, I can't even tell you. You can read her letter here.

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Oh, and at Dollar Tree yesterday I found a third book of essays! It's called Dirt Is Good For You, from the editors of babble.com. and is stuffed with essays recalling the joys and trials and lessons learned when raising children. Pure delight.

I adore essays. Yet back around 15 years ago I remember moaning to God that almost never could I find books of morally decent essays at the library or anyplace else. But since then, He's helped me find some delightful, thought-provoking, morally decent collections and though I've mentioned these to you in past posts, here are my favorites listed in one place:


Thoughts of Home edited by Elaine Greene
If These Walls Could Talk edited by Elaine Greene
Mama Makes Up Her Mind by Bailey White
Sleeping At The Starlite Motel by Bailey White
A Matter of Choice edited by Joan Chatfield-Taylor
It's Bright in my Valley by Philip Jerome Cleveland
Domestic Affairs by Joyce Maynard
How To Fit a Car Seat on a Camel edited by Sarah Franklin
Dirt Is Good For You from the editors of babble.com
Oh, and the Front Porch Tales books by Phillip Gulley

I'd love to make those all links for you, but today is special, in that, we're having our friends, John and Donna, over to lunch. So now I must dash and clean and straighten and cook and prepare for a lovely time.

May your day be lovely, too.


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Oh! One more thing. If you have a Facebook account, hurry over to the Green Mountain Coffee site for a free box of 12 hot chocolate K-cups. Found this through one of my daily free things email--one of the best offers, ever! (When you arrive it says 'enter to win', but after you fill-in the form, it says it's on it's way to you.)


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