Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Watching. Pondering.


"But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn't obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand."  ... Matthew 7:26

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Probably if you ask most Christians which book of the Bible they most enjoy reading all the way through, they'll say the book of John.

Me? Always the odd girl out, I'd say Revelation.

And because of that--and liking other scattered scriptures prophetically describing  future disasters of our planet--these huge weather-related disasters never surprise me. Nor do the dreadful ways people act nowadays toward each other, nor their stubbornness in denying Truth.

Weirdly, I've been waiting to see all this since I was a little girl sitting in a church pew, with feet unable to touch the floor. I was warned back then that all this stuff would intensify in the future, appear more frequently, and well, it has. 

And of course, I will donate some money through the Red Cross for the immediate help of those in need. Gladly I'll do that. But to help people rebuild structures on the sand? Right beside a churning, powerful ocean? That would feel just too weird for me, unbiblical, even.

Tom and I live two blocks from a river, inside a house which has safely stood since 1930. But should Hobbit Cottage ever be flooded? We'd be out of here. Somehow, some God-provided way (He who can make a way where there is none), to higher, drier land, probably in a whole other state.

As for us and our house, we will not rebuild upon sand, nor will we love one place upon this planet so dearly that it becomes our heaven on Earth. 

We will save heaven for Heaven ... and settle-in there, for good and for all eternity.


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Disclaimer: Please don't have a cow. I'm just saying what Tom and I would do. Everybody has God-given freedoms to build upon sand beside an ocean (or anywhere else) if they wish, of  course.


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2 Timothy 3:1-5  

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.


Matthew 24: 4,6-13 
"And Jesus answered them,“See that no one leads you astray.... And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.  And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.  And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.  But the one who endures to the end will be saved."


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I forgot to mention earlier that at an estate sale last weekend, a cashier looked almost exactly like Gladys Taber. I kept staring at her, I'm sure.

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It's easy to give to The Red Cross online. Go here to donate.


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Luke 21:25-28
25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars. On earth, nations will be afraid and confused because of the roar and fury of the sea26 People will be so afraid they will faint, wondering what is happening to the world, because the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then people will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to happen, look up and hold your heads high, because the time when God will free you is near!” NCV

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dreams. The Ones Which Happened. The Ones Which Didn't

Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

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At age 10, I wanted to be an author. I began writing a book, illustrated it horribly, even, then when my mom accidentally spilt some wood stain on those six pages, I felt relieved. I'd grown bored with the whole thing.

At 13, I took French in Jr. High and adored my French teacher, Mrs. James. Even crocheted a long brown scarf for her at Christmas and once when I was the only one who knew four vocabulary words during an oral test, Mrs. James said, "Well, it's nice that at least Debra studied her vocabulary at home yesterday."

I lived off of that comment for 6 months and for the next 15 years I dreamed of visiting Paris...but never got there. And feel 100% ok with that today.

Then at 16 and still living in California, I wrote something like this in a notebook, "I feel I belong back East. All of my favorite authors live/lived there and I feel so out-of-place here out West."

Well, I did get there. Here. Eighteen years later Tom, Naomi and I moved to New York state and it was love--it was belonging--at first sight. 

But before that big move, when I was just 17, I wavered. Thought I should be a missionary every time those zealous foreign missionaries spoke at our church and seemed to stare at me from the pulpit. It didn't feel like the right fit for me, but I believed whatever God wanted you to do would feel uncomfortable. 

At 18 I went to college and friends, old and new, told me I should be a journalist. An English teacher in California. An English teacher in Africa. Frankly, it all sounded strange to the me inside and well, dreadful, too.

At 19 I remember shopping one day in that college town and three screaming children being wheeled in carts by their exhausted moms. I thought, "Thank-you, God, that I will never, ever have children!"

At nearly 21 I had a baby girl and declared her the best thing that ever happened to me, next to finding Tom and getting married.

At 35 I fell hopelessly in love with Jesus and the whole world looked new. I so enjoyed teaching adult Sunday School a couple times each month in our sanctuary from the pulpit and had huge dreams of someday traveling and standing before thousands and teaching them.

Years later I realized my favorite pulpit is this computer one which enables me to stay home and still share Jesus with an audience--and that's when I found blogging. In eight years, what an adventure, what a learning tool--for myself, not just for those I teach. 

Dreams. Visions. Goals. Some come from our heads and some come from God and what I've seen? The ones from God happen. He is so good at making a way where there is no way and because our times are in His hands, He can tweak things to make certain we get to where we're supposed to be. 

It would be mean and unfair of God to birth impossible dreams within us.

Nothing is too hard for Him, He provides all that we need for His plans, but only as long as we do things His way... and don't sit around staring out of windows, crying about the other ones, the dreams which never came from God's heart to begin with. The wispy, unknown-to-God dreams we once felt were vital, lovely things... those are the ones we must release so that Real Things can be known. And experienced.


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Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."


Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your path."


Proverbs 2:6-9 ” For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go."


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And after last night's storm? Tom and I are fine. Grateful.


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“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.” 
― Erma Bombeck


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Monday, October 29, 2012

Enchanted Nights.


Probably Tom's first night or 'graveyard' shift was 27 years ago. Always, I think Grace has stepped into the front door while Tom stepped out of it, for I've never feared nights alone without Tom, never, not even as a young woman in my 20's. Thank heaven, for most likely Tom's worked a few thousand graveyard shifts--12 long, night-time hours over and over--and woe be it unto me if I'd spent thousands of nights alone, spooked.

For many years I had Naomi and cats and Jesus (and Grace) to keep me company on those nights, but now I just have the cats and Jesus (and Grace). And oh, those short hours before I go to bed, well, they feel peaceful. 

After I've walked outside with Tom, I return to the house where I switch on a Netflixed tv show (which I've probably watched 30 times), then I'll straighten things, maybe wash a couple things, maybe play Paper Bag with the cats before changing into my pajamas and robe and then sitting, relaxing, watching tv with Sammy upon my lap. Soon I'm nodding, nearly asleep, so I shoo away the cat, rise up and get ready for bed, including taking my vitamins and feeding the cats once more so that Daniel won't come and tickle my nose before 2 a.m., asking for more food.

I'll check the doors and lights and heater then head upstairs to bed where I'll flick on The Dick Van Dyke show, sink into bed and fall asleep usually within 5 minutes (going by the bit of the show which I can last recall).

And somehow--I have no idea how--it all feels blessed and darn near enchanted. I think of these nights and recall them with smiles.

But what about tonight while Hurricane Sandy blows through our town and I'm here alone (with the cats and Jesus and Grace)? Won't that be different? Won't that feel quite un-enchanted, scary even? 

No, for Jesus changes not, even though the weather certainly does. He's the same yesterday, today and forever and oh.... I am grateful.


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"I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."  ... Psalm 4:8


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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Waiting. In Peace.

Still here. 

Just puttering, playing hurricane-preparedness, but not in a serious way since we are something like 460 miles inland. We're due for 50+ mph winds and lots of rain beginning tomorrow around 5 pm and I already have our groceries and batteries and radio, blah, blah, blah. My candles and matches are ready and after I finish refilling water containers which sat in the basement the past year, I'll call it done, though technically, I'd like Tom to buy some kerosene for the heater we've got stored in the garage, one we bought at a yard sale three years ago, but have never needed to use.

I've been feeding the birds outside, too, so they will be ready. For 3 weeks our supermarket has sold birdseed half-off so I bought 60 pounds which sounds like lots, but isn't, not when these sparrows swarm in and devour ten pounds in less than 24 hours. Yet they sit upon the hedge and stare at me through the kitchen window with grateful eyes, so birdseed is worth the expense. 

But basically, I'm staying low-key, peaceful and thinking about other things. Books mostly. Which reminds me--are there any fans of Grace Livingston Hill out there? I just discovered yesterday that amazon.com has some of her books for your kindle for free. I downloaded 11, began reading The Girl From Montana, and could not stop. Of course, it's not the same as holding one of Grace's ancient hardcover copies in your hands, but it's close enough. For me.

Is this puppy adorable, or what?



A treat from Facebook. I do love that place.

So anyway, all is well here, even with our return to Pea Soup Skies. May you, also, feel the calmness and peace only God can give in the midst of any type of storm.


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"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight."  ... Proverbs 3:5,6


"He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth."   ... Psalm 46:10

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I don't know why I do this to myself, perhaps it's my sadistic side, but I've been on a new blog search--AGAIN--and I'm not finding what I'm looking for--AGAIN. But still I keep on looking... and then walking away, muttering. Frustrated.

But I'll go ahead and ask anyway.... Does anybody know of a blog which often shares contemplative posts even remotely like this one? Kelly was my favorite blogger of all-time, but then she went and got married, had two babies, stopped blogging and lived happily ever after.

It's been years, but oh..... I still miss her and her posts like this one, and this one and this one and  this one and--

Oh dear, oh dear.... I do miss Kelly so.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Just Reminiscing

Yikes! I told you yesterday that I'd return later, but well, Tom and I enjoyed his last day off too much, I guess. We traveled to a nearby park where I'd seen on the local news that a new veteran's memorial had been built. And well, yes it had, but the visitors on the news had been special--relatives of deceased veterans--and the monument was opened only temporarily last weekend for them, as it is still unfinished. 


Tom and I being non-special like that, could view the lovely memorial walls only from a distance and from behind chain-link (disappointed in not being able to see and touch all those names, ones even from the Civil War) and then drove through the park for the first time in our decades in WNY and came away impressed by all the beauty.


Then today we drove to three--count them, three--estate sales, one of them inside a dreamy old house which I was loathe to leave, especially after discovering the original basement rumpus room complete with a black-and-white tiled floor, 1970's orange sofas, the mandatory soda-fountain bar and a wall of retro books mostly for teenagers. Good gracious. I bought two teen books then had to yank myself out of that place, out of 1960, and return to 2012. Tough, honestly, even with loving my current life as I do.


But after wandering through two more houses and a yard sale, Tom and I returned to Real Life and I mowed the lawn and raked a million leaves. Tom will go back to work tonight, more night-shifts, for such is Life, but we did enjoy watching movies together again during his restful four days off, two of them incredibly gorgeous, Autumn at its glorious best. Oh, how quickly it sails past--all of it.


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I earned two more gift cards online, another from Swagbucks and my first one from SavingStar. Here's one of the books I ordered from amazon.com today: Views From Thornhill.

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The books I found at sales:


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Now *There's* Good News....



I'll be back later today, but in the meantime, I wanted to share what this local Good Deeds Cash Mob did.

You can watch them here and be blessed. 

(And get some great ideas for perhaps being your own Good Deed Cash Person.)  :)


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Oh! And here's a new-to-me blog written by a retired couple who sold nearly all their stuff and now just travel the world:  Home Free Retirement.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Golden Day

Yesterday? Simply incredible.

Tom arrived home at 7 a.m. from his final of 12, 12-hour night-shifts in a row(!) Oh! We both rejoiced over that. And he even drove upon the new driveway and parked inside the garage, too, for the first time in 27 days since that's how long it takes for concrete to set. No more parking on the street, thank-goodness (Debra + parallel parking = neighbors' hilarity).


Later after Tom went to bed, I walked around our neighborhood beneath autumn skies and while breathing-in glorious October scents I snapped these pictures. Oh, that autumn slant of light!


On one curb, even, someone placed lots of those little craft magazines from the 70's and I grabbed just four of them (exercised much self-control), three 1974 Pack-o-Fun holiday issues and one Quick & Easy Crochet from 1988. Browsed delightedly through them when I arrived home.





In our mailbox I discovered a wonderful book I ordered, one by Pam Conrad called Our House: Stories of Levittown.** I browsed through some pages and knew it will be special. I posted the photo of us and our California friends on Facebook and received many kind comments.


Eventually Tom got out of bed and then he called our favorite Chinese food place and when our meal finally arrived (we always cringe when the non-English-speaking mom answers the phone) we munched and watched our Netflixed, Snow White and the Huntsman which also arrived in the mail and which started out quite dark, indeed, but ended up being just the perfect heart-of-a-warrior-type of film I needed. We watched a bit of The Mentalist after that (which plays eternally on TNT...love that) and how wonderful for us to sit near each other knowing Tom could remain home all night and realizing God is so good to give us incredible golden days like these.


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If you enlarge these photos you'll get that And You Were There feeling. :)

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Two weeks ago Tom and I watched a great old Barbara Stanwyck movie through instant view at Netflix. It's called The Other Love. I think many of you would enjoy it.

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Susan Branch's latest Willard is full of all things autumnal.

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**Oh! I've been reading much about the original Levittown on Long Island online and you retro decorators out there may enjoy this page.

For more informational Levittown links, go here. Tom and I have walked through a ton of estate sale houses with the 1949-50 ranch house layout shown here. I always love them, actually.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Phooey on Those Naysayers

Probably we all have experienced this: For weeks everything feels hunky-dory. Life is terrific, we feel loved and nobody close to us is sick or dying. Most things on our To Do Lists get crossed off. We smile a lot, have a bit of fun and can actually pay our bills. The sun shines often, we remember to take our vitamins and we're feeling pretty darn great.

And then Bam! Boom! Skid.......... Crash! 

Somebody (probably a friend or relative) accuses us of something dreadful, something which wasn't inside our brains, on our radar, or even close to being our intention.

Ever been there?

And the weird thing is that Secure Folks say, "Why be upset when you're accused of something you didn't do? Just thumb your nose at that person, laugh and move on."

Why be upset?! Because it hurts to be misunderstood, that's why. To be watched and then accused. To have your actions judged as incorrect, evil or pointless. That type of stuff can make you question, "Does everybody else see me that way?" and pretty much turn your world upside-down, making what you once knew as facts, appear skewed. Confusing.

But oh... During your recovery from that sudden (unfair) fast-ball-in-the-head from left-field, don't you love it when Jesus finally whispers:

"Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you."  ... 1 Peter 4:12

... and then this:

"In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."  ... 2 Timothy 3:12

Yeah, I do, too.

Now, of course I'm not talking about the times when we actually were stupid and someone called us on it. Uh, no.

No, today I'm just encouraging you to not allow yourself to be blown away by those annoying Naysayers sent to 'test your quality.' 

What's a Naysayer?:

"Naysayers tend to blend in with those around them rather well, granted they have learned over the years to adapt to their surroundings. However, when the opportunity arises, their true nature will be exposed and they will stop at nothing to exclude others or bring a general sense of negativity to any situation." 

Know anyone like that? 

But here's one of the best secrets, ever: Always let Naysayers make you better, not bitter. When you're accused of what you did not do, raise your sword higher and determine that you'll become more courageous, more forgiving, more loving. 

And let those times send you running to God, so close in fact, that you can smell the very perfume from Heaven upon the collar of His robe. It's at that place where He will heal you.


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"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil."   ... Ephesians 6:11

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Wonder of Wish Lists



The golden world outside my window.

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Are you familiar with the Wish Lists you can make at Amazon.com?

Frankly, I believe they are magical.

I mean, sometimes I'll place a book into my Wish List for later when I have some extra money to spend. I'll add a couple books which friends online recommended or a tiny kitchen gadget or a clothing article or yes, more books which I'd like to ponder about longer before ordering, perhaps adding them in November to my own personal Christmas List.

And then the amazing magical thing happens: When I return to my wish list a week (or more) later, I often say, "Why did I ever want to buy that book? It sounds boring, actually." Or, "I found even prettier scarves at a yard sale and for only a fraction of the cost. I'm thankful I waited." Or, "Whew. Glad I didn't order that set of tv series dvd's--Netflix has them in instant view now."

Some items have languished upon my Wish Lists for years because I still kinda-sorta want them. But I'm fooling myself--most likely I'll never order those dusty, rusty old things.

Now, occasionally I'll return to my wish list months later and yay! I'll discover a book (usually my wish lists are crammed with books) which still excites me and I'll go ahead and buy it. But more often? I'm leaning over the computer clicking delete, delete, delete, delete, delete as I peer down my Wish List. 

Ahh... the power to walk away when our heads are screaming, "I. Want. That!" "I. Neeed. That." "Must. Have. That. Now!"

I think they call it self-control.

 You've heard of that, right? It's a fruit of the spirit, a safety switch of Wisdom, and I'm thinking God gave me Amazon Wish Lists as a power-boost to keep my self-control working correctly in this era where self-gratification is the aim of the day. 

Thank-you, Amazon. Thank-you, Lord, for giving us Wish Lists. :)






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I found this a rather awesome thing for a dad to do.


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Speaking of books, I finally went to our town library again, but only to search all squinty-eyed in the dark back room through their book sale shelves. I bought these from the young librarian who looked strikingly like the actress, Diane Farr, for a mere $1.20, total:





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"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."   ... Galations 5:22,23


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A house a few streets away...


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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Introverts. Extroverts. And Getting Along.

Yesterday I received an amazing gift. Wow.

What was it, you ask? This:  Permission to be a happy, contented introvert.

See, for eons, various (pushy) extroverts told me being an introvert was bad. Unbiblical. Selfish. Basically, they insinuated introverted people needed to convert and become outgoing, vocal, crowd-lovers.

Always the rebel, I'd usually push back and try to ignore those who attempted to control me. Yet even so, I learned to just live with this vague sense that, as an introvert, I was less than those wild and crazy extroverts.

But oh my. Yesterday online I discovered that close to half of us on this planet are natural introverts, close to half are extroverts and the rest are ambiverts, people who are basically half of each.

Each group has different strengths and weaknesses. Each group has value.

Now, I'm not talking about shyness--that's often related to fear and I would never recommend living a fear-based lifestyle(!)

No, I'm saying I'm a classic introvert. Crowds make me nervous, and I need lots of time alone to recharge after I've been in them. (This also explains why I nearly hyperventilate when people suggest I look for a job at public places like Target or Tim Horton's.)

When I'm away from home too long, I get antsy to return to my familiar surroundings. I love to be outside alone. I love to be inside alone and I actually love sitting in a movie theater or a coffee shop alone. I basically enjoy my own company, especially since back in 1994, Jesus became a very real part of  'my own company.' 

Small-talk bores me and I prefer one-on-one conversations because they tend to be more real.  Conversations which go deep, rather than skim the surface, thrill my heart. And on and on. 

Fortunately, Tom is also an introvert and I feel we are fortunate that way. (Could some couples' problems be related to his being an introvert and her being an extrovert--or vice-versa? I wonder.) With what I read yesterday, I now understand why Tom and I aren't into long vacations, parties, concerts, mall shopping, busy restaurants--anything which involves traveling for long periods of time or being in large crowds.

Think you may be an introvert, also? Check out these articles--I found them fascinating, freeing and they helped me understand why I still prefer time alone, even after being set free from (most of) my previous shyness:

All About Introverts
13 Rules For Being Alone and Being Happy About It
Top Ten Myths About Introverts

And well, I'll tell ya..... Since God knows what He's doing and since He's a huge fan of balance, it's not hard to imagine why around half of us are introverts and the other half are extroverts. God's got a purpose, a reason for everything He does--if only we could understand that!  And if only we would stop trying to turn other people into clones of ourselves, maybe we'd all just calm down in a peaceful air of acceptance and be happy.

Maybe.

Anyway, for the rest of my life I will hold my introverted head up high and never again feel bad about needing zillions of hours alone. You won't hear me apologizing for being an introvert ever again--that would be like telling God He didn't know what He was doing when He thought-up this extrovert/introvert thing to begin with.


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"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."  ... Philippians 2:3

"Love one another."  ... John 13:24


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Friday, October 19, 2012

Hopeless? Never.


If you've read here long, you know I share very few tragic stories. Very few. But I feel I must share this one in case it may perhaps save a life.

In our Buffalo area, a priest, Father Luke (I'll call him) was an incredible encouragement to everyone. He always asked others, "What can I do to help? What do you need?" He got kids into schools they wouldn't otherwise be able to attend and for 26 years of his priesthood he was a helper, an encourager, helping inside and outside the church with food and clothing drives, soup kitchens, finding shelter for those who needed it and so much more. People said he felt like their true friend.

Last week, Father Luke committed suicide. 

People are still reeling, in pain, and his memorial service is today. News stories said, "Father Luke was given a letter last week informing him that he would be reassigned as a hospital chaplain and that he would have a week to leave the church.  Many people believe Father Luke was pushed too hard to leave the church and just, "snapped.""

Why share this sad story? It comes with a warning: satan comes hard after those who make a difference. He taunts them, tells them (inside their heads or through confused people) they're wasting time , their help means nothing, has no lasting effect on anybody. He tells them they're not doing enough, they must do more! (do more!) and no one really appreciates them, not even God, Himself.

Perhaps you have heard a few of those lines, yourself.

Yet today I simply want to remind you that satan is a liar. He's the father of lies--the best liar on the planet. He knows how to attack our weakest areas and he'll keep attacking until we run, hide or give-up altogether--if we begin believing those lies.

But there's another way to live, namely, with Jesus as the first and last word and reason we do anything. Or are anything.  If Jesus is more important to me than anyone else, then what He says will matter most. The encouragement I receive from Him will keep me going, even while satan screams "give-up!". 

If my obedience to Jesus takes me someplace else, that will be ok, for He will go with me--and His presence, His love, are what matter most. If I learn to receive from Jesus all that I need, then I'll be ok... I won't try yanking from people what only God can give me. I'll never run dry, for His living water well is always bubbling--if I stay planted beside it.

Jesus will never wander away from me. He'll never leave me to myself or to the lies satan would have me believe are truths. He loves me--He loves you-- way, way too much to ever leave us alone.


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"He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers."   ... Psalm 1:3

"The Lord is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?"   ... Psalm 27:1


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In my comment box, Mary (thanks, again!) recommended the book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain and although I've not gotten a copy yet, I did discover Susan's wonderful blog. Wow--Encouragement City. Find it here.

At a different site, I found this article, Sarcasm: A Guide For Shy People, insightful, indeed.

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I truly do love our new red front door. Sometimes I open it into the living room just to gratefully stare at it and to sniff the fresh oil paint. Really.

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