Thursday, October 29, 2015

When the Disobedience Hits The Fan .....




"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty." (Proverbs 27:12)


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So as ol' Debra prepares for when the U.S. reaps even more from what it has sown (have you read The Harbinger ** yet? Yikes. Only because of God's mercy are we still here. I know this.), she's enjoying learning new things.

They say when you stop wanting to learn, you speed-up aging. No worry of that here.

Anyway, what kinds of things have I learned?

How to bake inside a Dutch oven. Who knew it was so easy? Haven't tried it yet, but I did need to buy a small round rack for the inside of mine for when I do.

How to make my own solar oven. I've got my boxes, black spray paint, newspaper, foil and glass-- I just need to put them all together. All my recent experience with my crockpot will pay off with a solar oven. Can't hurt, anyway.

How to extend the life of fresh eggs. This one already helped me. Before we left on vacation, I coated my nearing-their-expiration-date 3-dozen-for-$5 eggs with mineral oil. So far, still beautiful.

How to make an easy Faraday cage to protect your electronics. I actually did this one already.  We placed it in our basement and the nice thing? That helped clear some space upstairs so to store more food and emergency supplies.

How to make a nifty, do-it-yourself sterno stove. I'm aiming to make two of these by next week and to try them with a votive candle, as well.

I also learned that to best store flour, rice and cornmeal, you should freeze them, first, so to kill any insects, then store the packages in sealed plastic bags (with a couple bay leaves as insurance against pests) in a dark place.

And when storing canned goods? Lisa said this here:

"Worried about the “expiration” date on canned food? Well, those dates are set by the food production company and don’t have any bearing on how the food will taste, its nutrients, or safety after that date. If the food was canned correctly and you’ve been storing it in a dry and cool location, theoretically, the food will be safe to consume for years after that stamped date."


Hopefully you don't think I'm too crazy. At least I'm having fun. I'm enjoying all this which I take as signs of balance, obedience, wisdom.


Why do anything ahead of time? Why not just blithely trust that God will provide for Tom and me if something dire should happen? Here is why--



"When it snows, she has no fear for her household;    

    for all of them are clothed in scarlet. (Which she worked at fashioning.)
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.

She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Honor her for all that her hands have done,    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
  

Nowhere did the Proverbs 31 woman just lean back upon her pillow and murmur, "If I do nothing, God will provide anyway. He blesses procrastination." Nor did she think, "If things become really tough, we'll just sit around and wait to die."


Uh, no. Heaven forbid.

And when the 5 virgins in Matthew 25 ran out of lamp oil before the bridegroom arrived? No one told them, "Here. You can take my oil which I was faithful enough to prepare ahead of time." Nope, the 5 who did not plan ahead, lost out. Majorly.


Those are just two examples. The Bible speaks of others.


Always, no matter what the circumstances or finances, there's a way to prepare for what is coming. The only limits are the ones we place on God and when it comes to using life-saving wisdom? God will, every time, honor our requests for more.


Always.








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'A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn’t.' (Proverbs 13:16)

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."  ... James 1:5


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The photos? Some of the red rock of New Mexico. Loved that part of our trip so much and only wish I could've captured the beauty much better.




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** Want to see a quick summation of The Harbinger? Watch (or read the article) here.

Oh, the fascinating parallels. The foreshadows. They give me chills.


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Naomi was on the long, long drive back to Atlanta, but now is driving to Philadelphia for another last-minute gig with her NYC band, then to Boston for another concert after that. Oh dear. What a test for Tom and me, especially--all that driving she's doing alone, etc. Any prayers for her safety (and my sanity) over the next 3 days would be much appreciated! Thanks so much.


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What's cooking in my crockpot today?  Tamale pie.  (Yes, again.)  :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

My Dentist Office: From The Twilight Zone?

"We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps."   ...Proverbs 16:9


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If a person can have a wonderful time having two teeth pulled, I did.

I mean, an assistant took me upstairs and just as I eased myself into the chair, her friend walked into a closet door and both dissolved into laughter. My dentist ('Dr. Brown') had an emergency below, so while 1960's and 70's music played (my favorite!), this assistant sat beside me and we chatted about the weather and the time change until the handsome, Naomi's-age dentist arrived.

Here he is, standing in the back.




What a cutie, right? And I honestly doubt there's a more compassionate, kind, called-to-be-a-dentist guy out there. Not in any hurry, he explained everything to me; what he'd do, what I'd feel. Step by step with a gentleness that made me think, "If Naomi decides to marry, oh my, may she find a guy exactly like Dr. Brown." (He's already taken, alas. Here he is with his sweet family.)





Dr. Brown took my blood pressure and pulse, asking how they usually are. I said, "Oh, probably average." As he afterward unwrapped the sleeve-thingy he said, "Forget average. They're more like textbook. Perfect! Wow." (Later he said my teeth, yes, were bad, but the bones holding them were super strong and healthy. I'm thinking Vitamin D3 has much to do with that.)

Only one of the mouth-numbing shots hurt and did you know in dental school they practice giving those shots to fellow students? Oh my. There go my dreams of becoming a dentist. heh.

Anyway.

It was all over in 70 minutes and everyone was so sympathetic. I walked the block-and-a-half home with a swollen, gauzy, but smiling mouth. Sally was taking the mail from her box and waved to me. "Dentist." I said to her, pointing. "Teeth pulled." She said, "Oh you poor thing. Let me know if you need anything, ok?"

Tom arrived home later, then went out to buy ice cream for my dinner. (Dr. Brown prescribed that. So there.) And around 6:00? Dr. Brown, himself, called to see how I was feeling.

I feel so blessed and you know? I need much more dental work done and I'm looking forward to it, to returning to that happy dentist office around the corner.

And really, who says that??!! I guess I do. Now. 

And I'm so thankful that decades ago I stopped trying to control everything and instead, let God direct my steps. It's because of Him that we ended up at Hobbit Cottage just around the block from The Enchanted Dentist Office. 

His ways are not ours and it's because of Him that I'm learning to expect great things--not flawed, difficult or same ol' as the world's ones-- because I'm being led by a great God. Indeed.







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"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you."   ... Psalm 32:8



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



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Naomi arrived safely in NYC. Thanks so much for your prayers!


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Oh, forgot to tell you that a friend of my mom's gave away her favorite pieces of furniture after she discovered she was dying. She wanted to see the happiness on peoples' faces as she did so. (Cool idea, right?)

Well, she gave my mom a beautiful antique table and look what Mom did to the three Victorian ladies' breasts:



... she covered them all with strips of fabric.

Oh my. Suddenly my early-years body issues make so much more sense.  :)



"I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."...   ...Psalm 139:14



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What's cooking in my crockpot today?  Pork neck stew.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Those Darn Sudden Changes

"Praise be to the ... Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles..."  ... 2 Corinthians 1:3,4


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Yesterday we made plans.

Today at 1:30 I'd walk over to the fun-time dentist's office, have two teeth pulled (sigh) then return home to Naomi. While I recuperated on the couch, she'd bring me water or a snack and say, "Poor Mom. Poor, poor Mom."

Then Tom would arrive home and the three of us would watch our Netflixed disc of the 2008 X-Files movie, I Want to Believe. (We'd tried to find time for a viewing since Saturday.) Afterward, Tom would help fix Naomi's laptop.

Tuesday would be great, all things regarding my pulled teeth considered.

But then, oh dear. 

Yesterday evening Naomi rushed in the door and announced she must leave in the morning. Her friend from NYC (with whom she'd just toured London) needed her for a couple last-minute gigs. Big-time stuff involving some big names and a dearly-needed paycheck and--.

Gah. Isn't disappointment so, well, disappointing

Don't you hate it when wham! All your well-laid plans change? Though I didn't fall apart, neither did I handle it with grace oozing everywhere. But we all talked through it. I explained to Naomi if it wasn't for the tooth extraction thing it would have been easier to accept. She'd not yet told us how long she'd stay this time and it had been so pleasant having our drummer daughter home and--

When she left this morning she was excited and all was/is as well as can be, though I'm still a bit teary-eyed. But she is more God's than ours (and even so, I made sure to do my make-up so that 1.) She'd remember me looking decent and 2.) So that it would keep me from crying harder, having to look ok when I visit the dentist later, etc.).

Anyway. 

At times like these I'm especially grateful for God who will be here in the silence when I arrive home and lie down upon the red couch with two less teeth. 

And yes, Daniel and Sammy the cats will be around and Tom promised to come home straight from work. But still, even they could never comfort me as God can, for no one else cheers and strengthens my heart that all-encompassing way. 

And oh, what would I do if He ever drove away early on a Tuesday morning? 





"I will never leave you  nor forsake you..."



How we deal with disappointment reveals much about who (or what) means most to us.



Any prayers for Naomi's traveling safety today would be much appreciated. Thank-you!



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Yesterday I finally read the majority of The Harbinger. Wow. Personal confirmation galore and so much I'd not before realized. No wonder I've not felt patriotic in at least 15 years. (Calm down. Calm down.)  :)

Well, I'd listened to Rabbi Jonathan Cahn for hours via The Jim Bakker Show  online (hey, deal with it. It's my new favorite show since August.) so I knew before reading the book, where he was coming from. But I read some reviews on Amazon of The Harbinger and thought, "What? Did I misunderstand The Rabbi?"

No, turns out some reviewers misunderstood (what else is new?). And this led other (gullible, sheep-like) folks to not even read The Harbinger, some of them leaving comments anyway on a book they plan never to read!

This is my Number One pet peeve. Oh my goodness.

I hope none of my readers here do that. May you all be brave enough to read and think for yourselves. To let the Holy Spirit teach and guide you regarding all media rather than accept the opinions of another person, known or unknown to you.

I think that's called being grown-up. Mature. Able to decide for yourself.



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I enjoyed this article about Sean Astin. Perhaps you will, also.


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I'll describe the Amtrak bedrooms at a later time, in case you were wondering...

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Crying Over Our Bills (No, Not The Buffalo Team) :)


"Oh taste and see that the Lord, He is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him."   ... Psalm 34:8

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."   ... Jeremiah 29:11


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Friday afternoon I sat at our dining room table while paying our bills-- and cried.

No, not because we couldn't afford to pay them, but because we could. And--

The sun shone gold on the huge trees outside our windows.
Come Saturday Morning played on our radio.
Naomi was home, upstairs, happy. Her second visit this year when usually she's allowed just one.
Tom was at a good-paying job doing something he's dreamed of for decades.
We'd just returned from a long-awaited train trip, our first vacation in five years. We'd seen beautiful sights galore, but also, my gratitude for being home spilled over.
We'd been able to attend Tom's mom's Life Celebration 2,500 miles away.
We'd visited with relatives on both sides of our family, some which we'd not seen in five or seven or more years. I even met my nephew's wife for the first time. Oh, and Tom's sister, her daughter and children visited us for the first time, ever, in August.
We'd found a loving sitter for our cats from just across the street(!) Sally's daughter, Sue, who pet-sits as a side job, even.
Tom and I are nearly prepared as can be for The End of Normal Life as The U.S. Knows It. We are encouraged and not afraid. Excited by these End Times, not pessimistic, bitter or sarcastic. 


It felt ominous, really, the good kind, and I think my tears came from seeing God's hand so obviously

How, within some weeks, He'd put our house in order, emptied my bucket list and--if I died tomorrow--I'd have no regrets. Or if I remain during the drastic times I believe the U.S. faces, that is fine, also. Honest.

As long as I have Him (and obey His wisdom) Life will be good because He is.

Suddenly on Friday, God's attention to detail, His care for us, His guidance, felt like overwhelming grace which sticks in your throat (and hurts while simultaneously feeling oh-so-delicious).

Face it: our own will is flawed. Doesn't see The Big Picture. But God's will does and when we follow Him down the road? We understand His Opposite World better, how it's a planet where:

The first will be last.
He who serves is greatest.
To see, we must first believe.
To receive, we must first give.


And as Jackie Gleason used to always say, "How sweet it is!" How sweet it is to live more inside that unseen-by-most Opposite World than the one we've all seen and have found sorely lacking.




“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. ..."   ... From Deuteronomy 28






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Oh! And please don't write off a train trip yet (as some of you have). Next time I'll tell you about the 'bedrooms'.  They are better.



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Friday, October 23, 2015

Train Travel--Only for Rugged Souls(?)




Tom wants to take another train trip. Me? Eh. It's out of my system, you know, like living on a farm. Been there, done that, let's move on to something new.

You must be made of rugged stuff to enjoy train travel. You can't mind the constant shifting of the floor and having to struggle down 4 or 6 long hallways, bouncing off holding onto walls, windows, doorways (or whatever) just to eat breakfast. It can't bother you to share your table and keep the conversation going every single meal, three times a day, with strangers.

In a roomette, if yours is the top bunk, you can't be too scared to climb up there (my high school gymnastics training came in handy) nor can you worry about being jolted off to the floor. Your spouse must be agreeable to leaving the door open constantly if you are claustrophobic and oh dear--when you travel through that eternal 6-mile long black-as-pitch tunnel, shut your eyes and hold a tissue over your nose. They help regarding the closed-in feeling and diesel fumes. 

You have to forgive yourself and your body for taking-up half of the tiny public restrooms (darn that huge mirror in there). If you can't time a shower during a smoke stop, you must be willing to risk your life taking one while the train's rocking down the tracks.

You sit down a lot, stare out windows a lot and man, the U.S. sure has lots of empty fields out there.

And those layovers in train stations! After awhile they feel like purgatory and you wonder if you'll ever get out.  That is, if, like us, you fail to make sightseeing plans ahead of time and hesitate to venture forth lest you become forever lost. In Chicago and Los Angeles you get special treatment if you're sleeping car passengers--a separate lounge with Wifi, deep, cushy chairs, free soda, juice and snacks, large screen tv's, etc. Travel by coach and you're herded into a smudgy-white room with broken floor tiles and some metal folding chairs thrown around.

Heh. Well, in comparison, it is kinda like that.

Okay, now I'm getting silly and seriously, I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from taking a train vacation. I just recommend being prepared and, ahead of time, shaking the won't-it-be-dreamy? dust from your eyes. 

You'll have better times if you know the facts before stepping aboard your rocking-good journey.  :)




This is the bulk of roomettes. The upper bunk slants upward during the day and is let down at night by attendants.

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One good thing? Ol' Debra may not travel well, but she discovered that God and Grace do. Whew.


"And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world."   ...Matthew 28:20




   An Amtrak dining car. When you stay in a sleeper room, your meals are included in the price.

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And now I'll leave you some more blurry photos taken from sometimes-speeding, sometimes barely-crawling trains.









                      California may be dry, but it's still beautiful.




                               Nearing our eternal wait in Seattle.




          Montana took forever to cross, but much of it was gorgeous.




                                               More Montana.



     
                             Much of North Dakota looked like this.




                                        And (yawn) like this.





Oh! And besides all the pretty farms in Wisconsin, my favorite thing was Lake Pepin. You know, from the Laura Ingalls Wilder's book, Little House in the Big Woods. Happy sigh.




This was from St. Paul, MN, yet many train stations sat in areas like this with ancient brick buildings and faded advertising.



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Attention Back to the Future fans! This was funny, though bittersweet. (I think you'll see what I mean.)



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Thursday, October 22, 2015

News Junkies = Pod People?


"From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks."  Luke 6:45


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So like I said, Tom and I traveled 6,000 miles (or so) by train. We zipped through a southern route then up the coast of California then across northern states back home to New York. In sleeper cars, mostly.

Isn't it rather pricey to do that? 

Normally, yes. But 2 years ago Tom signed up for an Amtrak credit card which earns points for train travel. Our trip was nearly free, in great part due to his 3 South African business trips on that card, all later reimbursed by his company. 

I'm so thankful that Tom and I realize God is clever with things like that. 

We've found He still provides for His kids. Even in a bad economy, with one wage earner, and yes! Even after you've been laid-off. Doesn't matter. God still responds to faith, trust, wisdom and dare I add this? Tithing. 

The words of this old song say it best:

"Trust me, try me,
Prove me says the Lord of Hosts and see
If a blessing, unmeasured blessing
I will not pour out on thee."

And perhaps this isn't a perfect segue, but I must add this warning for you news junkies:

Please balance your news viewing. I don't care where you're getting your news, be it online or via network tv, or the Christian-based TruNews or the much-adored Fox News where I hear you're (proudly) getting all the news that networks leave out. I mean, really? It's a great thing to soak in hours of the complete bad news happening in our world?

Come on.

My eyes saw scary things before and during our vacation. Dear old friends and relatives going all pod-people-ish like from The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. People who look the same, yet aren't. 

Remember Kevin McCarthy's horrified expression in that film? Yeah, it's been like that as I watch folks who once were full of the joy, hope and peace of God, now go all sarcastic, smirky and dark in their (limited topic) conversations. People making wild, sweeping generalizations. Folks who've sadly forgotten the comfort of God's nearness and this instruction, as well:

"...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."  ...Philippians 4:8

Balance! Please remember sanity-saving balance. For every hour of news you watch, spend an hour (or two) in your garden. Or with a grandchild or a friend over coffee. Or take a walk in nature or read a delightful book. Or mow a neighbor's yard, listen to your favorite music or preacher or sit with your spouse. Recall what you love, add rich memories to your days, not just negativity which spreads like disease.

Stay balanced on this straight and narrow beam upon which we as Christians walk so that you can step on up to Heaven as wings of joy hold you steady.

Please.




Love those train uniforms and the way the conductors still shout, "All aboard!"  Yes, they still do that at smoke stops and when trains begin their journeys.

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"Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour."   ... 1 Peter 5:8


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A special thanks to my buddy, Judy, for sharing the above cartoon at Facebook.



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   The California coastline was gorgeous on a long, sunny Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

More 'What We Did On Our Autumn Vacation'



People, people everywhere. Mostly, train travel is rough on us introverts. Oh, it's interesting to, at meals, sit across from people with stories to tell, but the constant requirement to do so wears thin by the time you reach all that graffiti in Los Angeles. 

Frankly, on the final leg home as we crossed those pretty farms in Wisconsin, I considered leaping from the train (with Tom) so we could start a whole new life. Alone. In the silence of a hay field.

Anyway. 

We took this second train vacation for 3 reasons:

1. To see states we'd missed the first time.
2. To attend the small memorial for Tom's mom.
3. To visit my mother, my sister and her family.

We had the tightest itinerary ever created, so if we passed within feet of your house without saying hello, we apologize. It just wasn't that kind of vacation. Only in Chicago, L.A., and Seattle did we have layovers in train stations and we did spend one afternoon/night in a Eugene motel, but even so, you'd not have wanted to visit with us. We were too wiped-out. And ugly-looking.  :)

Train travel is not for those seeking to arrive home refreshed and invigorated. Uh, no.

Speaking of Tom's mom's memorial, here's a photo our niece took of Tom and his sisters after they'd placed both their parents' ashes in the wall at the cemetery in Chester, the town where Tom and I first met and where Naomi was born.




Afterward, we all ate lunch at a small restaurant Tom's parents used to frequent. How good to visit with this side of the family again and we enjoyed our stay with Tom's sister and her son and his wife in Redding. Everything about that special day felt just right.

From there we drove to my mom's in Crescent City where she took us sightseeing along the ocean and through the Redwoods.




We visited lots with my sister, Corrine, and enjoyed lunch at my mom's favorite restaurant with Corrine, her husband and her oldest son (who greatly reminded me of the Russian guy in The Man From UNCLE, which Tom and I watched in Eugene).




Before leaving New York, you'd have thought, according to The News, that all of Northern California was on fire. I imagined all rivers would be puddles and I pictured us speeding down roads with scenes from the burning of Atlanta on each side.

But it wasn't like that (which comes with a small reminder not to allow The News to form how you view our world). We saw just one small fire in the mountains above our heads, but all those evergreens still give the illusion of greenery, though the tall grasses, yes, have all gone white and we spied many struggling eucalyptus trees.

There's more but I've still got 'train head' and should probably crawl back into bed. Naomi arrived here yesterday, as well, and I need to pull myself together enough to visit with her.

Over and out. For now.



            Gee, those Redwood Trees are huge, aren't they?




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Oh! And I simply must share this photo of my mom's sister (on left) taken by a street photographer circa 1947, most likely in Tacoma.




Is that vintage-cool or what?


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