Friday, November 30, 2012

The Poor



"He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God."   ... Proverbs 14:31

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So did you read this article back in September?:


Well, I did, and I've needed time to cool off, I suppose, before writing about it.

Oh my... That (former) Kroger manager's remark made me livid. You know, the "Excuse me for working for a living and not relying on food stamps like you," thing. It reminded me of how shocked I was when, earlier, dear Facebook friends published snide remarks about food stamps users, comments which sounded as though all people on food stamps are suspect-- lazy, drug-using cheaters sucking the life and money out of all our wallets.

And this story also reminded me of the time, just months earlier, when still-unemployed Tom told me, "You know... officially we qualify for food stamps," and I got all panicky just thinking of how we'd be perceived by people if we used them. The Georgia woman incident hadn't yet happened, but inside my head, I'd imagined it happening to me. I know how people, even otherwise-nice friends, can be when it comes to others receiving government help.

Do some people take advantage of food stamps unfairly? Yes, of course. But is that a reason to make cruel assumptions about everyone on welfare? (Or remarks which, even unknowingly, make all recipients feel bad, even those who truly have a need?) Isn't that like assuming all churches are cults just because some are? Or all doctors are quacks, just because some have been? 

Now, it probably wasn't wise for the Georgia mother (who is on dialysis and has a husband who does work, but can't get enough jobs as a carpenter) to cop an "I told you so" attitude toward the manager. She may have not stayed sweet when the items in her cart were questioned as to whether they qualified for the food stamp program.

Always, yes, there are two sides. But the Bible says to defend the cause of the weak, the poor  (Ps. 82:3)--and it doesn't add, "but only if they are sin-free, gleaming examples of humanity." Also it states, "If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered." (Prov. 21:13). Ouch. Truly something to consider if we wish our future to be, well, good.

 It's this "everybody on food stamps is a lazy thief" attitude which needs to stop. I've seen it spread like wildfire and it burns and destroys just as hurtfully. Our faulty, non-compassionate, better-than-thou assumptions can slice spirits like silent knives, killing even fresh desires of those floundering to pick themselves back up.

And woe be unto us, if we had any part in that.

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Proverbs 19:17  He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.
Psalm 82:3-4 Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
(Something good to remember? Weak people are, well, weak. Not necessarily bad and out to make trouble, but just unable to use wisdom. God asks us to bear with them, rescue them-- not condemn them with our words.)

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands... " 1 Thessalonians 4:11

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If we lived right, ourselves--trusted God, sowed good things, gave cheerfully our tithes and to the poor-- we'd not be panicky and bitter about governmental debt. Instead, we'd know God could and would take care of us no matter what.

"Never assume anything."  (Oh, how God has drummed that one into my head these past two years! He won't let me get away with assumptions about anything.)

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Earnest Seekers

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."   ... Hebrews 11:6


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Earnest Seekers do get rewarded. 

They see what is hidden to others, for they walk by faith, not by sight. They're personal friends with a huge God who they know will take excellent care of them because He is a remarkable Father. They don't worry much, lest it hurt His feelings.


They know they are loved 24/7. That love circles and spins around them. They are infused with peace.


Earnest Seekers view all good gifts as dropping straight from God's fingers down upon them. They're so grateful... and the gifts keep coming. God can trust them with much because He, Himself, sits upon the thrown of their hearts. He knows no trinket will push Him off.


They may appear like most other folks, but oh! The Presence, the Light inside them changes everything. Everything looks different from their eyes, for it is no longer they who live, but Christ who lives within them. And once that happens, it's impossible to feel the same way about anything.


Earnest Seekers are creative. Positive. Courageous. They are searchers, seeking until they find. They long for God's will, not their own. They believe that God is as powerful as ever and He can do anything He wishes. 


And generally, they are misunderstood.



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"Jesus has no intention of letting you become whole apart from his moment-to-moment presence and life within you."    



.... From Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge





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Here's something fun: If you enjoy Cape Cod houses, you can see lots of the lovely book, Capes, here at amazon. I've never before seen so much of a book when I used the "look inside" feature--I felt as though I'd read at least half of it! (Keep clicking--the first three pages are blank.)

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Yes, Good Still Happens

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."   ... Philippians 4:8,9


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To me? Those verses explain why lots of Christians are bummed-out. They're concentrating on what's wrong, who's messing-up and how the world is getting pretty scary. Every new disaster, (natural or political or man-with-a-gun-ish), they're camped-out in front of CNN on the couch with a box of kleenex and their comfort donuts, soaking in bad news by the hour. Then they crawl over to their computer and repeat all they've heard on Facebook or in blogs.

And then sink back into the couch and wonder why peace went away years ago. Hmm. Personally, it costs too much to live that way and I can't afford it.

Instead? I'll just ask, did anyone watch Touch at Netflix after I mentioned it? Tom and I saw the entire first season and wow! How refreshing to watch a mega-creative, unique, mind-bending tv show all about helping people. A series created in 2012, even. Yes, 2012. 

They don't make any good tv shows anymore? Check again. It's wild how God walks Tom and me over to great new series/movies nearly every month.

We also love another new show I've mentioned here before--Person of Interest. This one, too, is about rescuing people, but with a grittier edge to it. We're currently watching Netflix discs so to catch up on episodes from Season 1 (this ol' sleepyhead can't make it to 9:00 pm anymore for Season 2). I especially like that, in Real Life, Jim Caviezel speaks to church groups on his weekends.

On Cyber Monday, a woman from our Maud Hart Lovelace email group told us that Lois Lenski's kindle edition books were only $1.50. Just last week I'd experienced another craving for Lenski's books and (again) felt like bopping my head for giving away her books during the Big Move of 2007. Her regional books now, with few exceptions, cost, like, a million dollars (well....), so how wonderful that some were returned to me via kindle. I couldn't stop reading Flood Friday yesterday--and thinking about the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

(I am hanging my head for not coming here Monday and mentioning that Lois Lenski sale. Please forgive me.)

And I've also been recalling how--in the so-called Good Old Days--if you watched an amazing new episode of your favorite tv show, you had to wait months to see it again. And if you missed it during summer re-runs, well, too bad! You just had to be thankful you saw it that one time.

But now, oh... we can watch shows on dvd over and over. Like, this week I got out my Seasons 2 and 3 of The Odd Couple (first time in a couple years) and laughed out loud in delight. How wonderful to have these shows up here in Debra's World available anytime I wish (unlike during those Good Old Days wistful people yearn for).

And perhaps your taste varies from mine in books and tv shows (maybe you don't even like tv), yet we're all surrounded by blessings custom-made for us by the God who can help us "think on these good things". And I'm determined not to turn all negative, all blind to a single blessing so that--when I reach Heaven--I'll be able to thank God for everything. Because I stayed awake to it all.


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John 14:27  "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."

"... but (trust) in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy..."  1 Timothy 6:17

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Kristi--thanks so much for letting me know you watched The Artist after I mentioned watching it. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!  Wasn't it encouraging that such a morally decent film won so many awards?

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Want to know what else is available instantly at Netflix? Here's a list I made awhile ago:  

When You're In The Mood for TV

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pre-Christmas Musings


It's that time of year again. Yep, Christmastime.

If you've read here long, you know I prefer my Christmas year-around. Oh, not the frenzied form it takes in December, but a quieter, saner approach. When people (in March or August or--) share that they wish they could afford a simple _____, I enjoy sending it to them if I can. It's amazing how often people tell us what they want.

But here we are, approaching another December and I'm already planning ways to keep mine calm, sweet and joyful. I refuse to allow a Christmas season to toss me onto the Fast Track where I must run lest I be trampled. Uh, no. Been there, done that, will never do it again.

So as I do every year, here's a peaceful outdoor place for you to stand if you find yourself with Weary Christmas Head:

A Peaceful Getaway.

And if all that deflated Christmas yard decor in your neighborhood deflates your own spirit, here's my take on it which might make you smile the next time you pass by a yard of squished Santas:

What I Don't Understand

And although I enjoy many Christmas movies, this one is my favorite Keep It Simple one:

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Sometimes that film, alone, is enough for me the whole season. It just about says everything important.


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“Be still, and know that I am God..."  ... Psalm 46:10


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Found some free online Christmas shows/movies/videos for you this morning here. (Some links will work better than others.)

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

What I Believe. What I Want.



"The apostles performed many signs and wonders.... As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.  Crowds brought their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed."  ... From Acts 5

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As a teenager, even though church people told me otherwise, I believed God could still use Christians in the same way as those verses, above. That He could sort-of spill over onto people we met downtown and heal and encourage them.

Do I still believe that? Yes, I do.

I mean, I've spent time with some Christians and slowly inched my way out the door lest I catch their crabby, critical, miracles-don't-happen-anymore spirit. That might sound bad and unloving on my part, but I believe the Bible says it's ok:

"They will hold to an outward form of godliness but deny its power. Stay away from such people."  ...   2 Timothy 3:5

But with other Christians I've known? I hate for them to leave, for their gentle, faith-flowing, God-can-still-do-anything spirit energizes me. Makes me long to love God more and release anything which distracts me from obeying Him with my whole heart.

What I would love to carry around? An anointing from God that overflows when I go to the supermarket or anyplace else. You know, an anointing that splashes over so that when I and my shopping cart pass by a hurting person, suddenly she'll feel better. Oddly she'll recall her lost faith, the God who walked beside her until she wandered away. And she'll want God back, so much so, that she'll stop right there beside the pasta boxes and ask for Him. She'll suddenly believe He can be hers again.


But this I know: That kind of anointing requires a passionate love for God. And obeying Him behind closed doors: I cannot nag and snap at Tom around the house (after God convicted me otherwise) and expect to splash around miracles downtown. I must view disobedience as an enemy.  

Fear and distraction, also. Oh, there is a necessary, godly rest and play! But then there is distraction which veers me way off course, over to some murky, average, ho-hum place, a place I detest.

Instead, I long for more of God and I want others to want more, as well. So what to do? Keep the flame of love for God burning while daily tossing into it all that would distract me over to some average place I'd rather not be, a place where nobody ever gets set free.


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"Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher."  ... Hebrews 12:2

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound...”   ... from Isaiah 61



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Thirty-four years ago today I married the Best Man On The Planet. Wow. Am I blessed or what?!


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Friday, November 23, 2012

My Past Two Days

Ah, yesterday. Thanksgiving. Mine was different than yours, I'll guarantee, but probably our delight from the day is comparable.

Perhaps no one else in America did this, but on Thanksgiving morning I organized the pantries in my kitchen and basement. Carried groceries up the stairs, down the stairs and made mental notes like, "Absolutely no more cans of tomatoes, Debra! Even if they give them away as door prizes, do not bring anymore home." 

And well, is there anything quite like that sweet feeling of bringing order out of chaos? 

Later I sat at the sunny dining room window phone-chatting with my mom and tried to keep from giggling while Daniel The Cat grabbed and held my arm, playfully biting it again and again.

In the incredible 58 degrees, our neighbors' three adult children from other towns tossed a football to each other in the street. I stepped outside in the bright sunlight, strolled beside my flower beds and then carried some breakable decor to Debra's Shelf (so labeled) in the garage, Winter being on its way, after all.

Oh, and I baked an apple pie, one with just a top crust so to cut down on fat and calories. Always I make them that way.

No Miracle on 34th Street this year, just more Numb3rs (yes, I'm addicted). Sammy and Daniel basked at their favorite place: the clear storm door at the back and lounged like they were at the beach. 

But 12 hours alone does feel long at times, and then after the turkey spent 4 1/2 hours in the oven, Tom arrived home from work (where he watched movies with his co-worker, first time at that plant). And after a bite to eat (we'd both nibbled on stuff all day) and an episode of Person of Interest, Naomi called and we all chatted over speaker phone and how marvelous to hear the happiness in her voice at where her life is heading.

Then I slipped into bed, switched on The Dick Van Dyke Show and smiled upon my pillow, thanking God for sending us such an incredibly sunny and warm Thanksgiving Day. For it was... one of those bright days to recall during a dark Winter's afternoon ahead.



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Tom now has 4 1/2 days off, his first regular weekend in quite awhile, our anniversary weekend, in fact, so we are blessed. 

I actually went out this Black Friday morning (!), but never fear... only to our supermarket where life and shopping were still sane. 

Later, Tom and I drove to the theater and watched Red Dawn which many of you wouldn't like (I'm thinking). Oh, the violence (but at least with violence I can close my eyes) and some naughty words were spoken (but I promise not to repeat them). Yet we enjoyed the movie much and came away more grateful than ever for the current freedoms we enjoy in our Country. (When the North Koreans took over at the beginning, I whispered to Tom, "I'd have just hidden in the basement until it was all over.") 

You know, me and all the canned goods we have down there in my newly organized pantry.  (Such bravery, right?)

And then we came home to turkey sandwiches like good little American citizens. :)


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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Just Plain Thankful

Today, everyday, I'm thankful for Jesus. Without Him, well, what's the point?

I'm thankful for Tom and Naomi, the best husband and daughter a girl could ever have. For my buddies, Daniel and Sammy The Cats, also.

I'm thankful for this blog God gave me (and tries hard to write through me when I get in the way) and I'm so grateful for you who I've come to know here. This stay-at-home introvert has many friends here in Blogland she'd not have met otherwise.

I'm thankful for Facebook. Netflix. Coupon websites. Coupons.

I'm thankful for Tom's job. For my supermarket down the street which zips me back to the 1940's and 50's because of the retro music it plays. 

I'm thankful for Hobbit Cottage, for the contentment I've found here. I'm thankful I no longer want a larger house or yard (took me whole decades to get there).

I'm thankful our house is now yellow, not 1980's blue. I'm thankful for sunshine pouring through my windows, for our pretty red door and for flower beds outside which I'll play in next Spring. 

I'm thankful for the books in my tiny upstairs library. For our two nearby movie theaters. For Person of Interest, Numb3rs, Early Edition, American Pickers, Hoarders. And for The Dick van Dyke Show which sends me to slumber with smiles upon my pillow.

I'm thankful that even though I can no longer handle real coffee, I can still eat a bit of chocolate now and then.

I'm thankful for God's protection, His provision and most of all, His love.

And that's just the half of it..........



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Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers from my house to yours!


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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Blessed Quiet Vacation


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

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Yesterday I took the day off. Majorly. For the first time in maybe 2 years, I didn't feel well, this time because I cheated--I ate lots of yogurt (and other dairy, my favorite food group. Sigh.), which I can't (even when I stay up on my Vitamin C) when we run our heater which dries out the air (even though I attempt to moisten it), which messes with my sinuses and ears, which makes me cranky and tired, which--

Well, I'll spare you.

Mostly my day off was lovely. I sat in Tom's recliner, cuddled beneath our couch blanket, sipped tomato soup, stared at our living room and kitchen and nearly burst with gratitude. I watched scandalous amounts of Numb3rs, sometimes leaning back into the sunshine pouring through our picture window upon my face, closing my eyes and picturing myself lying beside Tom at the park beside Lake Ontario where time travel actually exists. At that place you're whisked away to the 1930's when Benny Goodman and other bands used to play there regularly.

Anyway. I also meditated about that verse, above, and how I'd planned to take a one week vacation at home at November's beginning, but God nudged me to make it two weeks, instead. Then three weeks and now--well, I think I'm understanding.

He wants me to keep my head (that ol' get-everything-done-and-be-a-good-girl-while-you're-doing-it thing) on vacation all the time. To receive the 'relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet for my soul' no matter what is happening in this crazy, confused world of ours. 

I'm thinking living this way just might become a necessity for those of us who wish to remain, well, sane.

So anyway, here's my goal: to live on vacation. You know, to discover new ways to feel like I'm always on vacation while still accomplishing all my work and errands and ministries. Joyfully. With no more heavy head.

It's possible, you know. I've lived without heavy head before for whole months at a time and these past three weeks I've been finding my way back to this sunny, relaxing, refreshing place. Thankfully.





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"Be still and know that I am God."   ... Psalm 46:10


"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."   ... John 14:27

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Early Christmas Facts of Life


Well. On November 9th, I stood in the check-out lane of the local vintage-music-playing supermarket I'm always telling you about, when I looked up and spied Christmas decorations. On November 9th, weeks before Thanksgiving, even!

Now, Old Debra would have sputtered and murmured in her heart, "Good grief. In the Old Days, people waited till Thanksgiving passed before they began pushing Christmas. Can't we just celebrate one holiday at a time?"

But what did New Debra say? "Oh! Those snowflakes and little snowmen are pretty. It's nice of my store to stretch this lovely season, to make it longer for us to enjoy."

No, really.

Did you notice the "Old" words I used? Old Debra, Old Days? Well, they are old, as in, in The Past. The way it used to be. Belonging to a different time. No longer relevant.

And I'll tell ya... I'm no longer going to spoil my Today by believing it should look exactly like Yesterday.

Times have changed! And it behooves me to change along with them, lest I become an old, cranky, irrelevant woman who people run from rather than listen to because she chose her battles unwisely.

Besides, last night I glanced out of our big dining room window and oh! One of our neighbors had put up their Christmas lights already, pretty blue and white ones. The house beside them still had their Halloween lights up--tons of orange ones--but hey! I became excited because it all reminded me of last Christmas, our first at Hobbit Cottage, when a whole lighted fairyland suddenly appeared outside that window for Tom and me and charmed our socks off for a whole month of nights.

Then, when I later walked upstairs to my room last night, I glanced out that window where I told you I'd seen the dancers and wow! The 'gingerbread house'.... :



... had also put up their lights and rarely have creamy white and red lights so charmed me. Oh, they are gorgeous, not overdone or gaudy, just one of the best lighted houses I've ever seen.

And it's mine, all mine, every single night from now--before Thanksgiving--to even after New Year's Day, most likely. A treat, a reward for me just for climbing those stairs each long winter night.

Early Christmas-- a marvelous season stretched even longer! I wasted too many years trying to micro-manage the whole world each November, disguising my control issues as "just wanting Christmas respected," but now? Now I'll just enjoy all these reminders of what--of Who--this season is really about. And isn't that the main thing, anyway?

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"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."  ... Luke 2:11


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Wow,  speaking of changes, it's so Last Days City in our world right now (perhaps in Heaven they're calling it The Last Minutes). Please join me in praying for Israel as more and more biblical prophecy comes to pass.


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Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Memories Inside My Gratitude Drawer


So. Do you like my new blog header? Oh, the amazing, peaceful, sunny memories I have of this 'raft' I created in the middle of my farm garden! I'd sit out there upon the boards (with no table and chairs, actually) and splash water from my watering can around so that the boards felt lakeside-pier-like. I hid my introverted self amongst the sunflowers and tomato and squash plants and felt out-of-this-world blessed.

And now? I no longer live on that farm and when Tom and I drove past the old place, we saw that the garden is completely gone. Now it's just a flat, boring piece of lawn.

But I once had that garden. That deck, that hideaway. They once belonged to me. They still live inside my head, my heart, inside my memories.

No one can take them away. They are still mine.

I keep much tucked away inside those places: My memories of being a young wife with a young husband and a fit figure (oy!). A tiny Naomi who I watched, memorized all the years she lived with us. Camping and vacations to special places. Amazing church services and times with God there and here at home. Coffee dates with friends and letters and emails from them. Tom and I sharing a new favorite movie with other couples at the theater. All those yard and estate sales he and I have picked through. Moving into houses and decorating them while listening to tv shows or music.

A million memories!

And what I'm learning? Just appreciate the fact that I had those times. Never wish them back. Never regret that my life is ultra different now. Never want what is gone.

Why? Because they were already gifted to me by God, in past seasons, and to want them again and again is like expecting my Aunt Betty (if I had an Aunt Betty) to give me that same perfect tea set for Christmas year after year after year. Over and over ripping away the wrapping paper only to discover the same box showing the same tea set inside. Then setting it on top of all the other tea set boxes, all useless-like.

God's gift-giving is way, way more imaginative than that.

Oh, when I view things this way! I won't have empty nest syndrome, no disappointment that Naomi has grown-up and now lives far away. There's no trying to control her from afar. And I won't hate the changes the years have brought along within myself or anyone else, nor the changes in where I live, even though it's 2,500 miles from where many of my memories happened long ago. 

And I won't wish that the Thanksgiving gatherings of long ago were here again for me in 2012.

No, because I had those times.  I had them and now they've moved to safe places within my memory where they're treasured and brought out occasionally to shine while I'm busy making new memories with new people, places and things. All of which, too, will someday move into that Gratitude Drawer inside my heart. 

Where they will stay, perhaps some of them so deep, that I'll only recall them after I burst through the doors of Heaven. But I will recall them, all of them there in that wonderful new place where memories will never be lost.

At least, that's what I believe.


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"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."   ... James 1:17

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Here's another of those wonderful videos with a surprise reunion between a military dad and his family. These never get old!

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Friday, November 16, 2012

The Gift Outside My Window

"My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song."   ... Psalm 28:7

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One afternoon last week before I headed down our stairs, I mini-paused at my library window (as I always do) and oh! You won't believe what I saw.

I'll share it anyway.

Two young women, around 18-ish, were dancing Ginger-Rogers-meets-a-cheerleader style down my street! 

Their long blond ponytails swayed and I could almost hear their laughter as one of the ladies leaped into a pile of leaves before high-kicking them into the air. Both women threw back their heads, eyes to the sky and sang (though I could not hear them) and continued skipping, clapping, twirling, heading down the street toward their home.

They even performed upon their porch steps (ala Shirley Temple and Bill Robinson, I thought), and along the porch, still singing. One of them opened the front door and with a hand flourish, stood aside and motioned for her friend to enter, which she dancingly did. Then after a bit of tap dancing, this last young lady skipped inside the door and closed it.Then the dance ended. 

But my smile remained for hours. 

And pardon my wistfulness, but while I descended our stairs, I wished that all Christians everywhere felt the light-heartededness of those girls.
That they, also, could dance down streets simply because we walk by faith, not by sight, even in 2012.

I would never, ever tire of watching such life, such joy, no matter how often it went waltzing down my street. And I'm thinking God would never tire of seeing all that trust, either.





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"... but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced."   ... Mark 4:19


"But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation."   ... Psalm 13:5


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Oh! Tom and I discovered a marvelous tv series at Netflix, one so unique, with shades of my much-appreciated shows, Early Edition, Numb3rs and Person of Interest. It's called Touch, stars Keifer Sutherland, and the first 4 episodes were awesome

The show illustrates how we're all more connected than we think and I couldn't help but consider how often our obedience to God sends out good ripples across our lives and the lives of others. and how--if we don't do what we're called to do--the world changes, others miss out and Life falls short of what it could have been. For many.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Black And White? Not Everything.


So there I was, my contented, cheerful self, watching a pleasant documentary at Netflix, one called, of all things, Happy.

(There's a bigtime spoiler coming so you may want to skip this post if you plan on watching this film.)

'Happy' showed nice, feel good stuff, things that make people throughout the world, well, happy. Eventually they showed a young Japanese wife speaking about her husband who worked long hours and was often sent on business trips. He was shown speaking with his darling little girl by way of the computer and then they showed him walking tiredly through the front door when he arrived home days later. His joyful daughter ran to him and it blessed me to see each of their jubilant smiles.

Then we were told this young father died from 'karoshi', the coined Japanese word for death from overwork stress.

Gah.

They then showed exhausted Japanese men in their 20's and 30's sleeping standing-up on packed subway trains on their way to work, work which never seems to end and overwork which is killing so many young Japanese men that they even have karoshi concerts, benefits, etc. to support all the young widows and their families left without husbands and fathers.

Good grief. I was practically traumatized and I shut it off. Couldn't take anymore Happy.

Why share this sad tale? Well, to say not all good-appearing things (like a high-paying job, an answer to prayer) are black-and-white terrific and to confess that sometimes I find it difficult to be thankful for Tom's job. 

Hey, we're talking about a 55-year-old man who had polio, one who's had a few back surgeries and who has scoliosis, some post-polio stuff, high cholesterol (we're working on that) and--even so--still works 12-hour shifts, making it not uncommon for him to work 120 hours in a two week period. Once he even worked 144 hours.

All the extra money stopped meaning anything 10 years ago, so please don't even go there.

Frankly, it's hard for me, Mrs. Lover of Balance, to be thankful for a lack of balance, common sense and wisdom. That's the opposite of who I am and oh, I often must ask for Grace and Wisdom to help me accept the way things currently are and to not make them worse by complaining and whining to Tom.  But instead, to just make Life comfortable for him at home so he can thoroughly rest the times he is here.

I used to be quite black-and-white about everything--people would shake their heads and tell me that. And ok, in a few areas I still am, areas like-- the only way to get to Heaven is through Jesus. I'm still super black-and-white about that.

But I guess this post is just a reminder for anyone else who may be a black-and-white thinker like I was/occasionally am--that no! Not everything in this life is clear-cut and easy to outline, understand, accept and give thanks for.

I, myself, appreciate such reminders, anything which will keep me from someday becoming the mean old cranky wild-haired lady down the street who's so set in her ways that nobody likes her.  :)




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Something else which helped me not be so doggedly there's-only-one-way-to-think-ish? Many episodes of Law and Order. Whew, it blows my mind how they can come up with court cases which shake-up and confuse even the strongest of black-and-whiters like myself. 


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Read more about karoshi here.

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"Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [[a]in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour."  ... 1 Peter 5:8

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."   ... 1 Thessalonians 5:18


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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Anticipating Thanksgiving Anyway


"But godliness with contentment is great gain."   ... 1 Timothy 6:6

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So. Way back last March (April?) we invited our friends, Roger and Liz over to lunch and then the next day Roger emailed and asked if we'd spend Thanksgiving with them. 

I wrote back right away and said sure! How nice to plan something different.

Well. This will be shocking news (yeah, right), but guess who has to work on Thanksgiving Day? Yep, good ol' Tom.

(During those 20  months of unemployment, at least Tom was home for every major holiday. See, there really is a silver lining behind those grey clouds.)

And not only will Tom be working, but Naomi will be way down there in Nashville (she'll spend the day with friends), so that means this will be our first Thanksgiving without her. It also means I'll spend the day alone.

Of course, not alone-alone. Nope! Around Hobbit Cottage I'll have Jesus, Grace and Daniel and Sammy The Cats. And my kitchen radio with its retro tunes and my Miracle On 34th Street dvd which I always watch on Thanksgiving. And a ton of books and food to cook and windows to stare through and be happy.

My oh my. I remember earlier years in this blog when you, my poor readers, had to wade through whole whiny paragraphs about how unfair it is that Tom nearly always works on every major holiday.

Truly, I am hanging-my-head sorry about that. 

But over the last few years, God's made this huge change within me: contentment in being 'alone' on holidays. Whew. What a challenge for Him! I made everything so darn hard because I kept complaining (bad, bad) about the unfairness of it all. I kept imagining the rest of America having giddy, everybody's-getting-along family gatherings (ha!) while I sat around for 12 (long) hours waiting for Tom and (often) Naomi to arrive home, long after dark.

But oh! Now that I've accepted that I'm a happy introvert, now that I've stopped trying to make my holidays look like everybody else's (how silly when we ask God to grant us our illusions), now that I've learned extreme gratitude and to find my contentment in Jesus, well, I'm actually looking forward to a Thanksgiving 'alone'.

No, really.

You know that verse which says "Where sin abounds, Grace much more abounds"? Well, I've tweaked that a bit: "Where aloneness abounds, Grace much more abounds to make up for it."

Oh! Grace, Grace and more Grace. What will she have in mind for me this next Thanksgiving?





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“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.” 
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


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 "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."   ... Philippians 4:11,12


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Okay, it's a bit dreary on this cold, grey morning, but such is the view from my library window.


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