Friday, August 31, 2012

The Changing Faces of Love


My, my... Aren't I becoming quite the spotty blogger?!

My excuse? It is summer, after all.

Naomi arrived here safely (though having been bitten by possibly a brown recluse last week...ack!)  and what a delight to have her in our home again. There's such a comfortable joy in doing little things around the house when there's a 'child' there, no matter if that child be all grown-up. Anytime we do things so that others will find joy, the joy bounces back to us and I've been reminded of all those years Naomi lived with us and I wanted to make things cozy, whimsical and memorable for her growing-up years.

In fact, I'm thinking that's a major reason many moms 'lose it' when their children leave home--it's the loss of those delightful nesting opportunities, the stepping outside of our me-me-me-ness and doing for others ... and the happiness thereof.

But of course, the giving need not stop at all, but rather, it does require acceptance of change. A finding of new ways to delight others, such as a spouse or friends or neighbors or online friends, also. (I'm reminded of all the happy grandparents I know, too... they in their selfless giving to their grandchildren.) 

And I thought today that perhaps that's a reason why I enjoy sharing stories and photos from my house, my life--maybe those are the different ways I've found to fill the gap of Naomi's leaving. The giving of myself to you keeps me from the dreadful what-about-meeee's? so prevalent in Today's world.

When it's all about us, there will be a nagging discomfort, a questioning uneasiness because God never intended that we live to please just ourselves or even our "just us four and no more" families. No, God and His world are way too big for that. Love, the Greatest Thing, longs to flood, spill and even burst from our tiny hearts, our small homes.

Love loves to share and finds its sweetest rhythms there in the giving. And only when we flow along with Love, splash others within it, will we find a daily kind of happiness no matter what's going on... and no matter with whom we are sharing.


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"But the greatest of these is love..."

"Love never fails..."

"Consider others more highly than yourselves..."

"Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his friends..."

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My New Favorite Color (And Other Trivia)


Oh! I have a new favorite color. (Although at 16 my bedroom in Auburn, CA was similarly painted, but a bit more apple-greenish, and I adored it.)

See, there's an enchanting house on the way to my supermarket (if I was more organized, I'd have taken a picture for you) which is just the shade of yellow I want for our house. They don't even have shutters, but instead, just a simple wooden chair beside their front door painted a similar green and you know? It's enough.

Inspiration. It's everywhere-- we just need to get our eyes off the bad and onto the good so we can find it.

And well, these folks don't need shutters on their pretty yellow house and now? Now I'm thinking we don't either, especially since we need other things around here more

It is wise to know when to say when.

So I took the inspiration they provided for free, bought a couple cans of green spray paint and painted not only the table, but the plant stand behind it and two other bistro chairs on our porch.

And it will be enough for us, too.


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I'll be talking with the Paint Guy today. We're hoping to have the house painted the third or fourth week of September, right after we get the concrete garage floor and driveway finished.

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Hooray! Even as I speak, Naomi is traveling up here from Tennessee to visit us for a week. (If you could say a little prayer for her safety, I'd appreciate it. Thanks.) We've not seen her since the first of March and of course, I'm cleaning the house, from upstairs down to the basement as I do before we have any overnight guests (a kinda good-bad-exhausting habit of mine).

And well, since Sunday marks our first anniversary of living in Hobbit Cottage--(and since the house will be clean-ish)--I'll be posting new, updated photos in our online album. Here's one to get you started, though I do hope to have the short front wall painted by Sunday. We shall see if that happens... :



The new color on the side wall, to me, looks much warmer than the iceberg white at the front. Some people can make white look incredible and welcoming. 

I am so not one of those people. :)

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Forgiveness, Anyone?

"But if you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins."  ... Mark 11:26

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Just some questions today.

Have you forgiven and extended mercy toward...

... that cruel kid in high school who called you a bad name?
... the parent or sibling who treated you unfairly?
... the twist of fate which kept you from attending college?
... that ex-boyfriend or spouse?
... those friends who are your friends no more?
... the son or daughter who did what you would never do?
... your neighbors who've let their house fall apart, decreasing your property values?
... those people who drive past your house with their stereos blaring, thumping?
... the loan company that lied to you?
... those politicians who (seemingly) messed-up life for all of us?
... the stores and restaurants with too-high prices?
... that church member who unfairly got upset with you?
... the storm which damaged your house?
... the guy who knowingly sold you a 'lemon' car?
... that person who left you that unkind Facebook or blog comment?
... the tv evangelist who said or did things you disagree with?
... that stranger who dinged your car?
... the way tv isn't like it used to be?
... the film makers who too seldom make good movies anymore?
... the friends who didn't invite you to their home after inviting everyone else?
... the murderers in the news?
... the way God let your best friend die?
... the way city streets are often unsafe?
... the path your life took?
... the way Times have changed?


Just asking. Just wondering, myself, who I've still yet not forgiven, for forgiveness is vital. That is, if I wish to stay healthy, happy and free. If I wish to be forgiven, myself.

And I do.


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"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."  ... Ephesians 4:31-32


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Oh! This afternoon I began reading an interesting book on my kindle cloud reader. It's called Poverty Sucks: How to Become a Self-Made Millionaire. Lots of practical advice there and oh my, talk about forgiveness--there are lots of people in this woman's early life who certainly needed forgiving. Good gracious. But anyway, if you'd like to check it out, this ebook is still free as of today. 

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Ack! A Five-Dollar Mistake.


"The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in mercy."  ... Psalm 103:8


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Oh for goodness' sake.

Mrs. Coupon Queen made an incredibly annoying $5 mistake at her magical supermarket this morning and she's still trying to forgive herself.

See, our store had a promotion where--if you bought 6 items (mostly Kraft ones) from a list--you'd get 200 extra gas points (!) (That's .20 cents off each gallon.) These were actually items I would use, plus, I had coupons for everything, also. They even said the Buy One, Get One Free Kraft cheese slices counted as two products, even though you're technically getting one free.

Well, that's what messed me up.  *&^%$

See, right now you, too, are likely eligible for a terrific deal! (Go here to read about it and see if your store qualifies.) Here it is: From now till September 15th, if you buy 10 participating Kraft items in one shopping trip, you'll get a catalina coupon for $10 off your next shopping trip(!) Buy fewer items and get a smaller coupon. Great deal, especially if you can match sale items with coupons.

Well, I created a killer list of ten Kraft items, 8 of them on sale, and had coupons for all ten. But, I counted my Buy One, Get One Free Kraft singles as two items ... and the official Kraft/catalina people weren't as kind as my supermarket. 

The free cheese did not ring up as my 10th Kraft item. And because I'd bought just 9 items, only a $5 coupon spat out of the check stand machine. 

Razzle-frats. I felt beyond disappointed. Sad.

I should have known better. I should have checked-out the website/conditions more carefully. I should have thought.

Sigh.

But here's the thing. Notice all those I's up there? Obviously, some pride's involved. Pride like .....  I'm a Coupon Queen, for Pete's sake. I've been couponing for three whole decades. I'm good at this and I shouldn't have made such a sloppy, costly mistake. 

I, I, I. Me, me, meeee.

Anytime we're throwing around lots of I's and Me's, we're probably feelin' some pride. Splashing around all clueless in it, even.

But one thing is needful--that we be quick to forgive ourselves--and other people. Oh dear... On message boards I see so many people who must hate mercy, or something. Mean people who act as though--because they never made So-And-So's mistake--they've never made a mistake, period.

Their meanness is scary. Where has mercy gone in 2012?

But what should happen? With each mistake we make, our patience, compassion and mercy toward others should go way up. If we're paying attention. If we're allowing our own errors to humble us. 

Otherwise? When we do error big-time, we'll probably be left sitting alone, wondering, "Why's everyone so upset with me? Why's everybody having a cow about what I did? Where did all my friends go?"

If we desire to receive forgiveness and mercy from others, we must first extend it toward them. God loves to show mercy and may that be said of us, as well.


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"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."  ... Matthew 5:7

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Where's Your Death-Grip?


"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  ... Isaiah 41:10

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Last week Tom and I watched an episode of a favorite crime show where an older couple bought their dream home, worked on it, then the wife secretly did something financial (I'm not certain as to what), which appeared good, but soon proved to be a disaster, mostly due to selfishness of the loan company's president. So, sadly, her husband came home from work and discovered his wife, dead in the garage, due to self-inflicted carbon monoxide poisoning.

Soon we see this husband and two of his friends (also unfairly treated), down at the loan company demanding to see the president, but without his friends' knowledge,  he brought along gasoline and a lighter--and not just as an incentive for the president to listen to these men's stories--but rather, he was determined to kill himself over his wife's death.

Good gracious. Afterward I told Tom, "You know what I like about us? If we were to lose this house, we would have fun fixing up a little rental apartment. No house on the planet is worth killing ourselves over."

And Tom agreed.

You know Tom's new company? It's struggling. Things keep falling apart, shutting down. A couple of the bosses said, "One more major shut-down and we may have to close down the plant forever. We can't afford to keep doing all these huge repairs." They even had a fire a couple weeks ago (Tom said it's the scariest thing he's ever faced) and then this past week another major shut-down.

The guys Tom works with are scared.

But really? I'm not. God is bigger than all this and He's an excellent provider for His kids, His family. Tom and I witnessed that provision over those 20 months of unemployment--we watched Him handle anything we placed into His hands. He cared about each need, no matter how small, for He is that loving.

Yet where we all get into trouble? It's those death-grip holds we place around temporary things. You know... our dream houses, jobs, money, cars, furniture, gardens, books, stuff and even people. It's those bold statements we make, "If I lose ________, I'll die!" "If I'm fired from my job, I won't have enough money to keep living!" "If I have to sell (that sentimental item) I'll never get over it. Never!"

But as for me and myself, the only wild, bold statement I'll make is, "If I don't have God, I'll die. Without Him, Life would be meaningless." My personal death-grip will be around He who is eternal and forever and permanent. 

That's a decision I've made and one that I will live out the rest of my days by. Happily.


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"I have been young and now I am old and I've never seen the righteous forsaken nor their seed begging for bread."  ... Psalm 37:25

"... for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."  ... Philippians 4:11


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"This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through..."   ... copied


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Oh! And did you hear that, beginning today, Dollar Tree will now accept manufacturer coupons? Wow! Here is their new coupon policy.

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Around The Yard



So. If a person can be both busy and lazy at the same time, that's me lately. I took a mini summer vacation from this blog because--as you other bloggers know--sometimes you just need to get away, just you and God like in the Old Days. Without an audience.

So I relaxed, read books, did the ironing, gave both cats a bath, drove to Home Depot twice, used our dishwasher a scandalous amount of times and I also created that little flower bed, above. Cute, huh? A dream came true, one which required work (as most do), but what matters most is that I enjoyed the journey. Well, hauling in bricks and dirt from Home Depot is not great fun, but necessary, so best done with an anticipatory attitude and dreams shining within ones eyes.

And guess what? This morning we got an estimate to have the house and garage painted and wow... The amount is less than half of the one-wall brick estimate. Yay! I so want this place painted, like, yesterday.

So things are coming along. In fact, I thought I'd share Before and After photos of our yard with you. Here's the Before (from last October, or so):




And here's the After, as of today:



With a closer view of the side yard (I know you are sick of this side....but this is what I think of before I sleep. Gardening--it gets inside you,):





And now I'll return to enjoying another simple summer day with books and quiet and sweet gratitude for this season of my life, one which will not last forever, for seasons frequently change. And that's why I hold them upon my open palm, grasping tightly only to God who changes not.





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Thought you other optimistic decorator types might like this.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Firm, But Gentle.


"Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near."  ... Philippians 4:5

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Oh! I am so enjoying my yard-sale-find book, From The Ground Up by Amy Stewart. Such perfect timing for me to discover this book so I'm thinking it's definitely a gift from You Know Who.

The author lived on the edge of a beach and fairgrounds in Santa Cruz and her first summer there, she discovered why her neighbors dreaded vacationers. Visitors left trash in the yards and even pulled up plants to take home with them (!) And you won't believe this part:

"I came home and found a couple teenagers sunbathing on my front porch... right in front of my front door. The man had spread out a beach towel ... and the woman was lying on her back with her shirt rolled up...

As usual, I was too astonished to speak. They both had on sunglasses so I wasn't even sure if I was making eye contact with them.

"Hello," I said, thinking I would try the polite approach.

They both looked up at me, said hello in response, and lay back down.

This was too much. I knelt down next to the man and said, "This is my house. It's not a public area. This is like you lying on my front lawn."

The man looked around for a minute, surprised. He looked up at me and at my front door behind me. He turned and glanced at his girlfriend. "Whoa," he said at last, then rolled off his beach towel. They both jumped up as if they had just noticed for the first time that the beach was actually another block away and they ambled off without another word."


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Oh my goodness! Can you imagine? Now, I'm known as a gentle person, but in this case? Oh! I would have needed to call upon all the power of God available to not go all wild-eyed-ballistic. ("Excuuuse me, but what the heck are you dooo-ing on myyyy front porch?!?!")

Heh.

But I admired the way the author handled the situation. She didn't begin yelling about how "all you tourists think you own our town and I'm sick of it! You all throw your trash in our yards and steal our plants, even!"

No, she stayed calm, gentle. She confronted them, yes! But not in an accusatory, lump-them-together-with-a-crowd sort of way. She did not assume they meant any harm nor that they were the trash-tossing, plant-pulling, vacationers-behaving-badly types.

And I think that's how God would want it. To let our gentleness be evident to all, even while we are confronting others. That we'd remember He is near and that we'd view confrontation simply as helping others to understand what is right. And what is not.


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                                               Nap in a Bag. Silly Daniel. :)

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Thanks to each of you who left helpful, encouraging comments after my post yesterday. I appreciate them so much! The estimate we later received was actually a lot lower than I'd thought it would be. But it's still awfully high. :)

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"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."  ... Proverbs 15:1
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Crashing and Burning of Dreams


"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways."  ... 1 Corinthians 13:11


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Ugh. Don't you hate disappointment? Yeah, I do, too. At first, anyway, because often? I see that God had a better plan than mine all along.

So, well, anyway... yesterday we had a 5th generation Brick Guy come out and give an estimate to have our house front, bricked. Stuccoed, too, on the two portions, above, since brick is too heavy for those. 

Good grief. We've not received the formal estimate yet by email, but he gave us a quick one for just the portion along the porch. It was twice what I'd figured (isn't it always?). Twice. And that's not even counting the stucco on the top parts, for we'd have to do something up there for we certainly can't just leave it in outdated blue siding. Yick.

Yes, we can get additional estimates, but to find someone who'll do it all for half price? And to just spend all that money on the front of the house? Sigh.

Well, now we're thinking we should just reside the whole house. We could probably have it done for the same price.

And I'm ok with that. Already I can see our little house in a creamy pale yellow, with white trim and light green shutters. It would look sweet. Cozy.

But at the first thought of siding and not brick? Oh my, releasing that brick dream was rough. Brick Guy left and then Tom and I came into the house , me with my head hanging to my waist, practically. Tom went to the computer to look up Siding Guys and I stepped into the kitchen to make hot chocolate and 2 tablespoons of quickie chocolate-frosting-in-a-cup. (Oh chocolate... where would we be without you?). And I moped. Considered crying, but passed. Grabbed my double chocolate snack and watched an episode of Flashpoint-- weird comfort tv, but oh well. It helped.

And got over the loss of my brick dreams. Let them go. Moved on.

And today it's really ok. Maybe someday we'll have a white-washed-brick-fronted house or maybe God's making me a Heavenly brick house. But whatever, I refuse to stay camped-out at Disappointment Campground. Nope! Life is too short for self-pity and besides, God expects us to leave our childish fits and tears behind, grow-up and always want Him (and His will) more than anything else. 

And to choose His plans. After all, His plans for us happen. They come to pass, but only when we cooperate with Him--and let go of that which drags us down--the stuff that never came from His heart to begin with. 

And oh, how I prefer His ways! I just needed some time to heal from the crash and burn of a dream. God gets that, allows a bit of time for that, just so we don't camp in that space. 

And today? Today I'm fine and dreaming of pale yellow siding, white trim and light green shutters. Already there's a new dream within my heart and only time will tell whether it's meant to step into reality.


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1 Corinthians 14:20 
Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.



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


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Monday, August 20, 2012

Grocery Inspiration

We interrupt your regularly-scheduled blog post for what I hope will be inspiration to get out there and combine sales with coupons for major savings.

See these groceries? (Plus, please add a half gallon of milk.)




If, last week, I'd gone skipping all silly willy nilly to my supermarket and bought these, I'd have paid $46.89. But this morning, instead, using sales and coupons, I paid just $18.22. 

My best deal? The organic lettuce was only .50 cents, regularly priced $3.99. Earthbound Farms has been giving out coupons like candy at their website and I've been getting four .75 cents off coupons (which each double to $1.50 off at my store) weekly for months now. This week it's on sale for $3, plus, I nearly always buy the packages with a $1 off sticker because the selling date is closing in. Hence, just .50 cents. 

The creamers were just .90 cents each. Another great deal. (I never pay over $1 for those. Never.) Into the freezer they'll go with the 3 other brand creamers I bought last week for the same price. 

And rather than paying $4.79 for the Birds Eye 'meal in a bag' (as I call it), I paid just $2.49. The vitamins would have been $20, but I paid just $7.

This morning I saved $49 with sales and coupons, so instead of paying $125, I paid $76. Plus, my store will give Tom .60 cents off per gallon the next time he fills the car with gas, partly because of my grocery totals and partly due to the coupons I use (for each ten coupons, we receive another .10 cents off per gallon).

As long as we have sales, coupons, our brains and God's blessings, we need never panic about rising grocery prices. At least, that's how I see it.


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My favorite coupon blogs who send out daily emails full of deals to print out:



Krazy Coupon Lady  (love her printable coupon list the best)
Tricia's Frugal Finds (my local coupon blogger. You'll want to find your own to alert you to your town's best deals.)


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Another coupon hint:  Always take all of your coupons with you. Often I come across an item on sale which wasn't listed in the weekly sales flyer, and when I do--since I have all my coupons--I can just reach into my wallet there in the aisle and grab one to correspond with the sale.


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We now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog, already in progress.  :)


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"And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes."  ... Luke 12:42


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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Meanwhile, Back At The Yard Sales......

Speaking of my grandparents (my last post) this weekend Tom and I bought this nightstand (only $5) at a yard sale, one which looks much like my grandparents' of long ago:




Is that cute, or what? And I love its feet:


I eat snacks from small bowls like the ones my grandparents had and drink coffee from a jadeite mug like theirs, also. I have their picture in my kitchen and now I crawl up the stairs and 'their nightstand' greets me like a surprise every time. It's like keeping them in my Present, though really, my heart can do that without stuff and things. 

I just enjoy the smiles, the reminders that I'll see my grandparents again someday in a new, amazing place. And that we'll never be parted again.


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What else did I find? This funky place mat:


It's now in my bedroom, as well.


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Oh! And I found these two lovely books:




The woman asked just ten cents for From The Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden, but I told her I'd feel guilty if I didn't give her at least 25. :) (The cover price is $14.95. Wow.) Anyway, I began reading it and what a perfect summer book, especially while I'm also creating my own garden from the ground up (yesterday I even bought night crawlers for my flower beds from our local 7-11. Put them in the ground two-by-two. heh.)

I read a library copy of Saving Cee-Cee Honeycutt (hi NancyR!) while at the farm, enjoyed its 'Southern-ness', so what a delight to have a copy of my own, and for only .75 cents.

Anyone else in the middle of 4 or 5 books? 


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My Past. It's So Yesterday.


"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."    Philippians 3:14


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This post will horrify some of you. Simply blow you away. But, well, I want to tell you the truth.

Basically, I leave My Past alone.

I've got two bins of my little family's photos, and too, pictures from my own childhood, but I almost never look at them.

I'm not into genealogy. At all. My only relatives who I find terribly interesting are my grandparents:



... and I knew them, personally. Loved them in-person. My memories of them inspire me, make me smile and leave me anticipating Heaven when we'll be reunited. And too, it's ultimately my experiences and God's incredible goodness, mercy and His patience which has made me what I am today--not my ancestors. I see that as fact.

I've got hatboxes stuffed with old letters from even my high school days, but (don't scream) I'm considering recycling them with the trash. I never look at them; I just lug them from house to house, so why keep them? (And before you say that my family might like to see them when I die, save your breath. They care less than I do about My Past.)

We have one video tape with old film of Tom, Naomi (age 9) and me from our Nevada Days. There's a video of Naomi in a town play at age 14 and assorted videos of Tom's and Naomi's college concerts together back in the 90's. We never watch them.

We just don't care anymore. 

Oh, I do treasure My Past for one reason: the valuable lessons it teaches. You know, how not to act.  What doesn't work. How not to be. I've learned much from My Past, actually.

In fact, I used to be extremely sentimental, thought about My Past almost daily, reread my old diaries and letters, wished My Past could be My Present. That's when I lived in the Nevada Desert during my Darkest Days of Depression. 

So not good to yearn for dead days.

But now? Now this is what I believe, this is what I do, this is how I live:

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."  Isaiah 43: 18-19











And now My Present has become My Good Old Days. Living fully in the Now is so amazing, so good, that I find Now and pressing on to what lies ahead, best, like discovering new ways, new rivers in what otherwise would be a desert if God were not leading me through. In joy.









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  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."  2 Corinthians 5:17











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If you enjoy splashing around in Your Past, that's cool. I'm just telling you how I feel about mine.













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