Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fleeting Childhood: Welcome The Wonder

Uh-oh! A summer re-run in my blog. :) This one is from 2010.

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While my sister, brother and I grew-up, we were expected to act like short adults. And well, it's rough remembering to act with grace, maturity and genteel manners when you're six.


And so, while I was a teenager, I made promises inside my head that--when I had my own child--I would raise her differently.


And so I did.


When Naomi was young, she totally believed in Santa Claus. Totally. And the Tooth Fairy visited our house, even (though twice she forgot to come and I had to cover for her). The Easter Bunny hopped around our backyard, leaving pastel-colored baskets.


Always, we had room for Reality and Imagination. I felt God agreed, especially since He is huge.


Naomi invited friends over for our cats' birthday picnics. She planned all activities for her own birthday parties, even made her own invitations with markers and construction paper.


One year she created a jungle in her bedroom, complete with plastic trees from yard sales and crepe paper 'vines' hanging from the ceiling. She preferred stuffed animals over dolls so her jungle was ready-made with lions, tigers and bears (oh my!). That same year, at age 11, she wrote an entire 'Hey Dude' novel.

We did all the old-fashioned stuff--had family dinner time (I wore aprons while cooking), went to church on Sundays, invited company over, watched the old 1960's and 70's tv shows--lots of things people said were gone forever. Well, they were alive and well at our house. We took responsibility and made it so. 


When she was sixteen Naomi invited her friends over for a memorial service for John Lennon up in our attic. The Monkees were her favorite group (this was the late 90's, remember) so, using a black marker, she drew the Monkees emblem on the back of her jean jacket and adults my age exclaimed over it ("Oh! Where did you buy that?") wherever she went. Beatles and Monkees record music wafted down our stairs and brought me nostalgic smiles while I dusted furniture.


Because of Naomi, Tom and I experienced the 1970's all over again, in a more color-filled way, even. The best parts, really, including nifty retro outfits Naomi wore to school, cooler than ones I ever wore.


The movies and tv commercials she filmed at our house with friends for school projects, the half-birthday sleepovers in a backyard tent, the fashion shows with girls in my collection of 1940's dresses. We had one child, but she brought us many others. Always, our house felt full in every way that mattered.


While Naomi grew up, we had fun. Rampant creativity in every Naomi-touched corner of our lives with lots of glimpses of childhood wonder in those big blue eyes.


Why? Because inside my heart I knew her childhood would flee like sand between my fingers--and it did. I tried so hard to grasp those years, slow them down, but I failed. A young Naomi kept flying past me and although I loved watching her sail by in boats of creativity, always there was that bittersweet ache because, wind blowing through her hair, she sailed too fast.


I loved watching God grow Naomi into her own timely grace.


And so for those few moments of our life and hers, we let Naomi be herself. When Creativity and Imagination knocked at our front door, always they were yanked inside, welcomed and celebrated. And our reward? Those two still visit Naomi, even at age 30, and because she's living with us, just for awhile they are visiting us again. And Life is Good.






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Fear is a faulty guide. Wisdom does a better job.




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God: The Excellent Provider.




"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:" ... 2 Corinthians 9:8

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So. In a wintry February of 2011 I lived on a farm which Grace had moved away from (and I hate being where Grace is not) and Tom was jobless, home 24/7, money was tight and Naomi lived upstairs in what had been my quiet time rooms so I had no special place of my own. Then my favorite cat, Lennon, died and I was more devastated than I told you. And  just weeks later, one of our dearest friends would die, as well as our other cat.


But at the height of all that, in the middle of my tears, I remember the moment when God whispered, "Oh Debra, I will make this up to you. I promise."


And oh... He has, He has. He gave me a house where Grace lives and a place for quiet and a job for Tom and two cats I adore and a huge river practically in my backyard and stores so close I can walk to them. And much more, for God does all things well.


Truly, God has done for me exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond all I can dare ask, hope or think. 


And I just want to tell you that what He has done for one, He will do for everyone. Everyone who will not sink under hopelessness. Everyone who will expect godly provision, not more disasters. Everyone who will use their words to pray instead of complain and who'll make right not-always-easy choices. Everyone who would rather die than accuse God of neglect or say that His word doesn't work in 2012. Everyone who will believe good and God are greater than evil doers. Everyone who will seek to love God with all their heart.


Must it all be done perfectly? Ha! Nothing we do is perfect. But it's more of a "pressing toward the mark" kind of thing--our aim is what matters. What are we aiming for? Our own way or God's?


Our God is an excellent Father who provides for His kids--and I don't care who tells you He doesn't. "Let God be true and every man a liar." And if you're having trouble believing that today, I hope you will search the Bible for every promise about God's amazing provision for His kids. Speak those promises aloud, accept them as truth, memorize them if you can. Write them on your heart and never, never let anybody steal them away from you. 


Hold onto those promises until you die.


God can fix any broken thing and make it even better than it used to be. He's just looking for people who will truly believe that in their hearts, hold onto it, even in the middle of very hard times.




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"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"  ... Matthew 7:11


"Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes," says the Lord of hosts.

"I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."  ... Psalm 37:25


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Want more verses about how God will take care of us? Go here.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Searching For New Inspiration



"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done."  ... Philippians 4:6

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Remember how, yesterday, I mentioned Tree Guy? Well, he's the kind of guy who, when you think of him, makes you smile. 


We've known him for ages, but only see him every few years and well, he drove up on this motorcycle with a nifty sidecar (!).  He'd just had a surprise 50th birthday party which, he said, was a huge backyard affair with his daughters' families and tons of friends. They had a blast, even gave everybody rides in his tree-cutting basket, (you know, that thing that rises way up in the air so they can reach trees' tallest parts), like a carnival ride. They zoomed tractors and 3-wheelers around his 20 acres and had a bonfire and his wife even invited everybody to take turns cutting his hair because he'd not cut it in 6 months.


The day after that, he jumped out of a plane for the first time and was still reeling from the awesomeness of that. And as always, he bubbled-over with stories about how God has blessed him and his family.


Good gracious. I wish I knew more people like Tree Guy. 


Especially these days while my Christian friends and relatives blog and post at Facebook their shock about this big, bad world. Why the surprise? I ask. Sheesh, we were warned about these days for thousands of years: 



"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—  having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. .... they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone." from 2 Timothy 3

Well, if only it was clear to everyone just what's going on here. If only they'd remember we're to be full of God, not full of bitterness. Or fear. Or despair. 


Well anyway, starting today, I'm going on a search. A search for other Christians like Tree Guy! Gratitude-oozers. Full of God, full of good fruit, inspiring, positive attitude, full-of-the-joy-of-living people. My quota for cranky, politician-hating, finger-pointing inspiration is already filled.


Of course, I'm called to help people like those, but hey! Helpers need helpers too, ya know.  :)

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Thanks for your comments about our soon-to-fall trees. I'd like to replace them with two other trees, but I can't. Our yard is small, we are surrounded by huge sycamores, as well as a tall honeysuckle hedge on two sides, our crab apple tree barely hangs-in-there for want of light and the whole chi of the yard would be thrown-off if we added a tree.

But. I am working diligently on my side yard garden, replacing what was literally just dust and I've hauled in healthy new soil bag-by-heavy-bag and have lots of vegetation planted there. Soon I'll revitalize the flower bed in front, as well as a small  nearby corner. After we have a sidewalk installed along the side of the garage, perhaps I'll plant a couple big ferns in pots there. So I'm trying! But sometimes there are only certain changes a person can make in her yard.

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"... for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness."  ... James 1:3


Yes! That's to be the result of our trials. Steadfastness. Growth. A calmer knowing that God will always take care of us.


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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sometimes Trees Must Fall

Here at Hobbit Cottage we have a huge problem. It's this:


(Be sure to notice the second tree, especially. Good grief.)


When the winds blow, those trees push against our garage. And of course, there's no room for gutters up there and the concrete garage floor is so pushed-up by the roots, that it's become chunks which flood to four inches in most places whenever it rains hard. We had Concrete Guy over for a driveway estimate and he said that-- unless those trees go away--eventually any new concrete inside the garage will become chunks, too.


So. Maybe you recall how ballistic I, being a tree-loving gal, went when our other-suburb neighbors (two different ones) cut down their beautiful huge trees behind us, but what I've realized since? 


Sometimes trees must fall.


And these two trees are not long for this world. Technically, they belong mostly to our neighbor, but he said no problem, cut them down (which is a blessing cuz Concrete Guy said neighbors usually cry, "No way!"). This week we had Tree Guy (an old friend from our first church here in NY) come by for an estimate. Not only will he chop the trees down, but he'll snip branches from a sycamore which is making our crab apple tree grow all wonky due to lack of sunlight. He'll trim the crab apple tree, also.


So because I try to be honest here in this blog, I just wanted to tell you about the upcoming tree murders. Some of you will understand, others will be angry at me--but I cannot live to make everybody happy. That's one sure recipe for a miserable life. 


All God asks is that I be honest with you and do what I feel He's given me peace to do. And that's what I've done.




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"For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in *all* your ways..."  ...Psalm 91:11




And one last thing:


I confess. The only thing I don't like about computer life is watching so many unteachable, immature Christians. You know, ones who choose to live offended and mad at the world and at politicians and bankers and just general life in 2012.


Gracious. I need more patience (uh-oh. Never say that.). 


People, people, people (I always want to say). The answer is not in living mad. Or all hopeless and questioning. God is bigger than all our woes! God created wisdom so we could walk in it and a divine protection for our minds and hearts. And peace. He created incredible peace for us, too.


Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21)


As Christians, we are not left to our own brains or fate or whatever. We need not live afraid, angry or stupid. We need not make avoidable mistakes and fall into traps because of our own cluelessness.


No, God is the God of clues. He warns us before we step into danger, but we must want to hear from Him and not from ourselves. We must crave His ways and live with a distaste of our own ways and always be willing to have Him totally rewire our brains.


Until we choose His ways, His wisdom, it will pretty much be the same ol' same ol' daily, yearly troubles and the moaning thereof. Just sayin'.






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"Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."  ... Philippians 4:7


"Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding." ... Proverbs 4:7


"In *all* your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  ... Proverbs 3:6

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."  ... I Peter 5:8
(It's sad, but we can be devoured by worry, anger, fear, unforgiveness and a lack of hope for our future (and so much more). So we must stay alert and stay close to God's heart, like, minute-by-minute.)


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A victim mentality is one where you blame everyone else for what happens in your world. (Another definition not as commonly used is one that says a person thinks the future only holds bad things for them.)  ... copied


As a Christian, I am choosing, instead, a victor mentality. That I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and that, even though I may have hard times, God will provide all that I need through each one!




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


Yes, even now, even in 2012.




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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why I Don't Figure Things Out

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come." (John 16:13)


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So while Tom was laid-off for 20 months, he and I had a cool, relaxing time. Well, after I finally stopped complaining about him hanging around the house 24/7. After that, our cool time became more awesome.


Shouldn't we have been, well, frantic? I mean, no job for Tom at 54! Well, God is the God of the opposite world, you know: The first shall be last. Give things away and then after you give, you will receive more. Spend time with God and somehow you end up with more time. If you want to be great, be a servant. Etc. 


So I realized early that He expected me to not act like every unsaved Tam-Vick-and-Carrie does when their husbands get laid-off from a 30-year career. Which meant no new worry lines in my face allowed. No sleepless nights. No resenting the bosses who released Tom from his job. No doubting that God was big enough to take care of us. No spoken words of unbelief--and quick repentance if I did speak them. No secret, sorry expectations of my Life going from bad to worse.


And one more thing? No figuring-out inside my head every move we were supposed to make or what our near future would entail. But rather? Listening. Lots and lots of listening to that still, small voice of wisdom, comfort, knowledge and peace. Listening to the real Father who knows best.


"In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths..."  ... Proverbs 3:5


I hate figuring things out. Heck, I don't know anything! I certainly don't know The Unknown. I can't understand complicated technicalities (pretty much none of them). I can't see into the future and I certainly don't trust myself to know what's best for me.


But I do know God and He knows all that. Hence, that's why I listen to Him. "My sheep hear My voice," Jesus said and His voice calms me. My heart and my head, especially when I am still--that's when I know Him best. And this sheep knows Jesus won't be leading her into any ditch anytime soon or ever.


Yes, I keep learning new all-ways-healthy things daily, but listen to and obey my own bright ideas apart from God's ways? Ack! Those lead to Ditch City. And Trouble Town. And a long, hilly, winding street called Worried Way.


I get only this one life on Earth and I'm determined to live it well. In peace, with a quiet, trusting heart which doesn't doubt a huge God's abilities or motives. Reason and figure-out a plan better than His? You're kidding, right? There's too much pride in that (and you know what happens after pride!).


God's ways are not my ways--but I so want them to be. That is my desire, His will, His wisdom, not mine. So while the rest of the world careens along the wild circus they call Life, proud of their brains, I get quiet and listen--not to my own voice-- but to His, the Shepherd who leads me beside still, calm waters over here in Opposite World where Peace and Joy hang-out, even on stormy days. Doesn't matter. Always the water is calm out here.




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"Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon Thee because he trusts in Thee."  Isaiah 26:3


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Sarah asked if I found any books yesterday at Salvation Army and yes! This one for .99 cents:




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"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26)


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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sometimes A Book is a Book is a Book...





Well. I take back every goofy, judgmental, biased word I ever said about Kindle. You know, about how we true bibliophiles prefer our real books, the feel and smell of the pages in our hot little hands.... blah, blah, blah.


Why? Because I am in love with my simple, limited-in-lots-of-ways Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader.


Gracious, after just a few days with that thing, I already have 103 free books on it! To me, that's like walking into a Barnes and Noble and being told that--if you search the shelves thoroughly--you'll find lots of free books, yours for the lugging away. But try finding space for 103 new books upon my shelves at home? No could do! Another wonderful thing about the Kindle--all those books stay inside my computer.


And well, I don't care what kind of a book lover you consider yourself--who doesn't love free books?


Anyway, Tom actually gets today off(!) so I'm going with him over to our previous suburb town where I'll shop Salvation Army while he gets his teeth cleaned. Maybe I'll discover some good old books there! But even if I don't, my 103 free books will be home waiting for me and God knows how grateful I am for that.




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Remember how I said I wouldn't post anymore of my free ebook titles? I lied. Here are some more:






From Your Heart to Your Home by Reda Johnson
Past Suspicion (Christian Romantic Suspence) by Therese Heckencamp
The Little Sleep Book That Works by Seth Smith
South To Alaska: A True Story by Nancy Owens Barnes
Write For The Fight (A Collection of Seasonal Essays) by Tess Hardwick and Tracy M. Hansen
The Breakfast Taco Book by Hilah Johnson
Weekend Homesteader: December by Anna Hess
Redecorating Your Home on a Budget by Angela Russ
Top 30 Vegetarian Slow-Cooker Recipes For Busy Woman by Sarah Jessica Cook
Two Scoops of Grace With Chuckles on Top by Jeanette Levellie
No, Never Alone: "I Promised" by Aleda Marshall
Say Good-Bye to Chaos: Organize Your Life by Edward V. Lewis
How to Compost by Lars Hundley




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Monday, June 25, 2012

Weight, Truth And Freedom

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


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Ack! Something weird is happening. See the part of that mirror, below? 


Each time before I go out into the world, I stand before that mirror and I look, well, decent. Not thin (no way!), but tucked-in the right places, tailored and, well, again, decent enough to make me feel presentable. Not great, but ok.


Well. On Saturday, I drove to our local Target, pushed my cart along the aisles then stopped in front of a full-length mirror and --and -- (sniff, sniff)--and-- I looked like a balloon! A roly-poly, dressed-in-black-but-it-ain't-helping, balloon.


Gah.


Immediately I told myself, "You need to go home and not eat. And not come out of the house till you lose ten pounds." (Yeah, right....). "No more bread. Only an occasional dessert," (rather than, er, daily ones). "More exercise and water and a stronger determination to stay away from that dreaded, craving-inducing high-fructose corn syrup." 


Say what you will, but I know HFCS is a huge reason (along with stress and inactivity) why our Country is filled with big, heavy waddlers like myself. How do I know? Because I'm 53 years old and I remember being 10 and every family I knew lived for jello, cokes, ice cream, candy bars, cakes, pudding, pies and cookies--and back in those days--they contained sugar, not HFCS. And how did people look back then? Normal, the way people should. Only sometimes in school or church or in your neighborhood would there be a child or a family who was 'heavyset' (I hate the 'fat' word and refuse to use it). I've read literature from both sides (so please don't try to convince me otherwise) and find the HFCS supporters inadequately unable to defend their positions. (I mean, just look at many of us now!)


Er, anyway..................


 Then I thought, "Well, at least I have a polite mirror at home which makes me look much trimmer than I do in Real Life. That's something, at least!"


But is that a good thing? Is a lying  mirror which makes me appear slim at home actually doing me a favor? I think not.


Since 1994 (especially) it's been the Truth which has set me free. And trust me, I've had to face a whole lot of truth about myself. I had to see and admit that I'd been stubborn (and not the good kind that keeps you from giving-up, either) and tactless (with a dreadful tone of voice) and fearfully-and-pridefully shy with lots of selfish ambition and --- well, I'll spare you the rest. Anyway, only by letting Jesus show me those areas, confessing they were true, repenting for them and then allowing Him to change me--only then--did I know what an amazing life of freedom looked and felt like.


And I guess that's why I have a hard time hearing people advise, "Just sit and listen to people. Pat them on the back. Tell them, "Hang in there and just keep doing what you're doing." (Did Jesus ever do that?) Especially if what they're doing is what led them to their current mess(!), for oh! that's so difficult for me to do. Or understand. 


No, freedom comes from facing truth about ourselves and letting that truth lead us right back to the only One who can set and keep us free. Someone who, all the while, will love us unconditionally even before our freedom, right in the middle of our self-made disasters, no taunting or ridiculing, ever (but He will ask us to do some hard stuff. I know.) 


And since He's not condemning me, I need not condemn myself.


And this Jesus is the same One who loves me even with all this winter weight I'm carrying around... and He'll be my greatest advisor, cheerleader  and friend during the losing of that weight. Thank-goodness. I'd be so sunk without Him.




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"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."  ... Galations 5:1


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Saw this on a refrigerator decades ago and never forgot it:  it was a magnet of a sheep with the words, "Ewe's not fat, ewe's fluffy."


Loved that. It's become a family joke amongst Tom and myself. :)




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Aww... If you enjoy reunions, you'll like this short video about 2 sisters reunited after 8 decades.


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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Of Ebooks and Possibilities



Ok. Just one more list of free ebooks. Anonymous gave me a link to Daily Free Books and wow! Guess where I spent the morning? Sign-up with them and they'll daily send you the latest free ebooks which you can download. Too, there's an archive and I've probably browsed 15 pages already.


But before I give you that list of free ebooks---- I've discovered two books explaining how to publish a book of your own for Kindle and oh! What a nifty idea. Probably since I was 10 I've dreamed of having a book published--and of course--I've kinda-sorta (kinda-sorta!) done that with this blog of more than 2,000 posts. And most days, I'm totally ok with this blog format being my 'letter to the world.'


Yet. How fun would it be to create a Kindle book with a cover and a table of contents and chapters! Oh, the possibilities... 


And the other good thing? I wouldn't have to travel to do book signings. Not sure if I've mentioned this here before, but that's been a huge reason why I've never, as of yet, tried to publish my blog into any sort of book form--the traveling.


Ugh. Now, it's not the meeting with people at bookstores for signings I'd object to. No, I feel such compassion for people the older I grow and enjoy meeting new-to-me ones. But it's the being told by a publisher/editor/powers-that-be that I must do that. That I must fly on a dreaded plane and wind my way through noisy, confusing city traffic and take elevators in places of business amongst people dressed-to-the-business-hilt, me in my black slacks, t-shirts, 1990's blazers and home-clipped haircuts. It's the loss of my own schedule and my simple cottage life and the traveling without Tom who makes all our vacation plans so that I cluelessly just waddle along behind him in crowds, clutching his shirt.


It's all those traveling thoughts (and more) which have kept me from seeking publication. So far, there's just no Grace within me to travel like that. None. And go anywhere without Grace? Oh my, all those roads lead to The Land of Trouble. 


And also, I just can't see becoming someone I'm not while sharing a part of who I am.


But a self-published Kindle book! I could handle that. Well, maybe.... Sheesh! I read the first few pages about how you must make paragraphs a certain way in your Word program and I couldn't even find the initial button you're supposed to click to start that paragraph process. Good grief. But if I do ever find that button someday and if I ever do choose my 'best of' posts from this blog, the biggest times and biggest lessons (adding a few paragraphs to tie it all together), well, I've already chosen a title:


On The Road To Hobbit Cottage.


Is that perfect, or what? If you've been around here at least 4 years you'll see why I love that title.


Anyway.... if you'd like to choose a possible post for this possible Kindle book, let me know which one, ok? Or, if not a specific post, then just tell me a favorite topic you'd like to nominate--Heaven knows I've repeated lots of the same ol' topics around this place, so it shouldn't be too hard to recall one.  heh.


Just thinking aloud here. After all, I'm still waiting to hear what God thinks about all this. I want nothing that He doesn't want for me. Been there, done that and reaped lots of bad times.


But let me say again, I do thank all of my faithful readers who've stuck by me during the best and worst of times at As I See It Now. I appreciate your encouraging comments and support more than you realize!






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And now some more free ebooks for your own Kindle or other devices:




11 Money-Saving Travel Tips by Daniel Davidson
Walking, Living, Learning by Al Argo
Are You Up For the Challenge? by Rod Hairston
Steal Away by Linda and Rik Hall
A Path Less Traveled (A Miller's Creek Novel) by Cathy Bryant
How to Improve Your Memory and Concentration by Chris Diamond
Pennsylvania Dutch Home Cooking by Vincent Press
Social Joy by Josh Kilen
My Walks With Alfie: A Journey into the Light by Joanne Morley
Quick, Cheap and Healthy School Lunches by Jill Green
How to Write, Publish and Promote Your Own Book by Daniel Marques
How to Cook for a Diabetic by Elizabeth Charles
Building a Business of Your Own by C.J. David
Sunnie's Rainbow by D. H. Barbara
Dinner: 27 Easy Recipes by Nancy N. Wilson
Building Your Book for Kindle by Kindle Direct Publishing




There are more, but you get the idea........... And please keep in mind I've not read any of these yet so if you come across one full of offensive stuff--it wasn't my fault! heh. :)




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"And from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace"  ... John 1:16. 



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Friday, June 22, 2012

The Child In Our Faces

So! I enjoyed reading the road trip book, Tender Graces, by Jackina Stark. 


Mostly. Though relieved to watch Audrey grow closer to God, I felt sorry it hadn't happened before her husband's death (no spoiler there, he dies in the first sentence. Alas.). She'd been one of those Christians who knew about Jesus, but hadn't formed a friendship with Him, so her husband's death knocked her flat for 15 months. Then she takes the road trip and snaps out of her paralyzing gloom, beginning a real walk with Jesus.


Anyway. Audrey says something in this book which majorly bugged me. She visits an old classmate from high school and this happens:


"While we exchanged biographical information accumulated since high school, he kept staring at me. Finally he put his hands on my shoulders and looked into my face.


"What are you doing?" I asked.


"I'm looking for the girl," he said.


Taken off guard by such a statement, I laughed. Then I mumbled something about needing to get home.


He meant no harm, but I really have no desire to be around people looking for "the girl." It devalues the woman."


My, my... Sounds like Audrey had a sticker in her pantyhose. Or her insecurity, not knowing who she was in Christ, was showing.


Me? I love to find the child in peoples' faces. Do it all the time, in fact, like when I see grown-up child stars on tv and especially when, at Facebook, old school friends share recent photos of themselves all these 40 years after I last saw them.


Always I search for the girl!


Why? Partly because, hey, it's fun. It's like a hunt to see again the childhood face you remember when you and your friend played hopscotch or jacks and sat next to each other in math class. And it becomes an aha moment when you find her still there behind the lines and scars and grey hair, especially if she has a healthy child inside, a child-like side that can still laugh, find the humor in situations and play. Oh, how we still need to play!


But also? Years ago I'd walk down to the convenience store and God would often nudge me to find the little boys' face in the faces of the long-haired, rough-looking men buying boxes of beer and cigarettes at the check-out counter.  And I could! I could look past the roughness and see the vulnerability as the men (especially men, but sometimes women) would reach into their pockets and count out their money, a vulnerability around their mouths and their stance, much as a child's, and I'd feel a sadness that --for all their work--their money would go up in smoke and down in liquor.


But viewing that long-ago child clearer than the hard, after-life-spits-you-out side, caused me to more easily, readily, pray for these people who too often feel invisible. Forgotten. To me, it felt like praying for the children Jesus spoke of loving so much in the Bible, for that's what I mostly saw--the child inside who so needs to know love, the real kind, especially the forgiving love of the Best Father, ever.


So I will continue to search for the girl, the boy, in peoples' faces and no one will be devalued, but rather, smiled at and prayed for, in hope that someday these children all-grown-up will receive the love Jesus died long ago to give them.




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Free Kindle, Anyone?



So! I just wanted to make sure you all know you can download a free kindle for your PC at amazon.com.


Cool, huh?


Judy F. told me about that weeks ago, but yesterday I finally got around to actually doing it (it's technically called a kindle cloud reader). And then, being a Great Penny-Pincher, I spent the afternoon downloading all the good free books I could find there.


Don't you just love free stuff?


Well anyway, I thought I'd keep today's post simple and just list for you the free books which now reside in my free amazon kindle. And oh! I'd love to read your own recommendations of free kindle books online in my comment box or hey, even the .99 cent books would be ok, too. heh.


Thanks!




So You Think Your Mind is Renewed?  by Cornel Marais
Get Organized! Your 12 Month Home Clutter Killer by Colete Leigh
Never Buried (Leigh Koslow Mystery Series) by Edie Claire
Eating 4 Eternity: Unlock Your Holistic Lifestyle by Jenny Berkeley
Invisible (Ivy Malone Mystery Series #1) by Lorena McCourtney
How to Speak and Write Correctly by Joseph Devlin
Farm Gardening by Anonymous
Chicken Cookbook by Gooseberry Patch
Always Know What to Say by Peter W. Murphy
16 Expert Lessons For Successfully Managing Your Personal Finances by FT Press Delivers
Betty Gordon at Mountain Camp by Alice B. Emerson
Snacks Under 100 Calories by Corina Tudose
The Christmas Adventure at Carver House by Hildegard G. Frey
Penny Nichols and the Nob Hill Mystery by Joan Clark
Stuck in the Middle (Sister-to-Sister, Book 1) Virginia Smith
Hide In Plain Sight by Marta Perry
Helpful Herbs for Health and Beauty by Barbara Griggs
Ruth Fielding: Solving The Campus Mystery by Alice B. Emerson
Vintage Cake Recipes by Amy Renee
Penny Nichols and the Mystery of the Lost Key by Joan Clark
Earthly Delights (Corinna Chapman#1) by Kerry Greenwood
Building Your Book For Kindle 








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Now, will I actually read these books? I wonder, being the great bibliophile I am, you know, with the whole loving-to-touch-and-smell-real-books thing. We shall see...




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Oh, and please don't ask me specific questions about how to find and/or download the kindle at amazon or how to load books, etc. I am still reeling with shock that I figured it out (must have been divine guidance!), for I now have no conscious memory as to how I did all that. Alas!)




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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Thoughts



Oh the humidity!


Heh.


And yet our faithful little window air-conditioner is chugging away, slurping up all that bad humidity just the way it's supposed to. And I am ever so grateful.


And see my 'new' corner in the photo, above? The cool air from below just barely wafts to the top of the stairs there, so guess where I'll be spending my summer? In my own little corner, my own little chair, being whatever I want to be (smile. Remember that song from Cinderella?). It's an area perfect for reading and clipping coupons, also, and what a treat to sit amongst my dream-became-reality library at my right.




****


I forgot to tell you that two weeks ago I looked out the kitchen window to our backyard and saw a mother duck with 8 tiny babies toddling behind her! Oh my, even on the farm we never saw ducks, just geese. Anyway, I whispered loudly for Tom to come to the window and he, Mr. Birdman, was especially delighted. We hope they waddled safely through lots of backyards to the river over a block away.


Speaking of animals, look at this:






What did we ever do without Daniel? I chase him now and play with him (I've got the scratched-up hands to prove it) and it shocks me that I once considered never having a cat again after we lost Lennon. 


Oh, what I would have missed! 


Daniel is like every sweet, smart cat we ever owned all wadded into wild-eyed, striped-grey fur. He has the best habits of Lennon, McCartney, Skittles and Oreo and it's like he's brought them back to life for us.


We can be so foolish sometimes. We read how the Bible says to guard our hearts, but we get mixed-up and guard them against some great stuff and against ever being hurt again, too. We build walls to keep people and/or animals out because we're afraid they'll hurt us someday--if not in word or deed--then by dying on us. And we worry that we'll fall apart, that God and Grace won't be enough for us at those times because, earlier--before we'd grown less in ourselves and more in Grace and God--we didn't let them be enough. We clung to the clammy hand of Grief rather than release it for God's hand of all comfort.


But oh, the joy and laughter and amazing times we miss behind those walls! The lessons and growth we get no other way, the memories we never make, the missing pieces inside us which we wonder about. Oh, what we miss.


Well, anyway... No matter what's down the road, I'll always be grateful down to my toes that Tom and I bravely plunged and adopted both Daniel and Sammy. Every single day they are a source of delight to me throughout the hours, especially now that Tom's working his proverbial head off (but enjoying it). And I wouldn't trade these two new cats for anything.


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"He must increase, but I must decrease."   ... John 3:30


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

(.... and may I always choose the right course, the best one which God mapped out for me eons ago.)




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"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all..."

From The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams


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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Time For a Make-Over?


Don't you just love make-overs? Seeing those before-and-after photos, the changes in peoples' faces/hairstyles/clothes/weight/homes/yards etc.?

I think we all do, but then, why do we still insist that we hate change? After all, there is no growth without change. If we're not changing, we're not growing ... and who doesn't want to grow and learn and become better?

Well, anyway, I thought I'd put together a sort of How Are We Doing? List so to make all of us (myself, included) think. Ponder and get honest with ourselves, for we can only change when we admit we're messing-up. And perhaps a couple areas will stand-out as ones where we, ourselves, could use a make-over. Directed and aided by God, of course, for without Him we can do nothing, but with Him? Ahh... the sky (as they say) is the limit. Any change He requires from us will always, always be for our good.

So here you go:

Do I start each day with time with God? Am I consciously aware of Him all day long? Do I express gratitude to Him each hour?
Do people think of me as being kind or impatient?
Do I like myself? Do I enjoy spending time alone or must I always surround myself with other people?
Am I taking care of myself physically? Do I seek natural ways to stay healthy or do I just rely upon med's? Is my first recourse always to pop another pill (treat the symptoms) or treat the cause, instead? 
Am I always learning? Do I often try new things? Or am I in a boring rut?
Do I listen to good biblical teaching daily? Am I putting that teaching into practice, letting it flow from me or just becoming fat with it?
Do I know my own gifts and callings? Am I using them to bless others? Am I learning how to better do what I'm called to do? 
Do I love people more than I love God? Do I listen to people more than I listen to God? Do I obey my feelings more often than I obey God?
Do I neglect my physical appearance? Or is it more important to me than it should be? 
Can I apologize? Is peace within my relationships important to me?
Am I a whiner with a victim mentality? Do I complain instead of change what I can change?
Do I worry a lot? Do I experience much dread or do I have deep, unwavering peace?
Do I spend time with friends? Do I nurture my relationships? Do I spend more time with people who inspire me or with people who depress me?
Do I know which type of music makes me feel uplifted? Am I listening to that?
Can I let go and move on?
Do I have hobbies I enjoy? Am I nurturing my creativity? Do I read good books and good news or bad books and bad news?
Am I living a balanced lifestyle? Am I too busy? Do I work too much? Do I enjoy my work? Or am I lazy? Do I watch too much tv or escape to online activities too often?
Do I love my life? Am I enjoying God and what He's given me or am I putting-off joy until I reach Heaven?
Is my greatest desire to know God better?




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"Consequently, I entreat you by the
compassion of God, brothers, to
present your bodies a sacrifice living,
holy, acceptable to God, a sacred
service with your power of reason.
And quit being fashioned after this
system of things, but be transformed
by making your mind over, that you
may prove to yourselves the good
and acceptable and complete will of
God." ~ Romans 12:1 - 2



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"... but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."  ... 1 Timothy 4:12

"He who the Son has set free is free, indeed."  John 8:36


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