Monday, February 29, 2016

Remembering February

"Count your blessings, not your problems." ... copied


An extra day of February? Eegads. Can't it just be over already?

Yes Folks, Pollyanna Debra has left the building.


Nah, mostly I'm just tired of having been sick the entire month(!) Not (fortunately) 'sick as unto death', just coughy, bronchitis-blah-headed and uninspired.

Personally, I'm planning on this being my final wimpy week.

Yet any Average Arnie can count and complain about his problems, so I'm, instead, crawling above average and reminding myself of what went right this month:

1.) We had no place for Naomi to hang her coats and scarves, so I discovered a spot (no easy feat in our tiny house) and then bought this coat rack at Amazon:

It's not anything like what I'd gone to find--but it's turned out ever so much better. Looks like it belongs, as though it's been there for years (Tom's words). 

2.) With a gift card, I ordered some terrific kids' lit. books and--when I took this photo--was in the middle of reading each one:

Does anyone else read five books at a time?

3.) I received some very sweet Valentines in my mailbox. February may be my least favorite month, but it does contain the best holiday. (And again, thanks to each of you who thought of me!)

4.) For the first time ever, I beheld a February crocus. What a heart-lifter that was yesterday to step outside in 56 sunny degrees and spy that little purple flower.

5.) Tom and I watched two delightful kids' films: Goosebumps and Inside Out. I cried through pretty much half (laughed the other half) of Inside Out and Goosebumps was incredibly fun for us both.

6.) Because I did so much grocery prepping last Autumn, I got to skip shopping on most weekends. Only a couple times did Tom need to pick up bread and milk, otherwise, we had everything we needed. Prepping--it's awesome.   

7.) Oh, and we had lots of sunny days. Often I sat at our dining room table, reading, soaking in the sunshine.

And we didn't get all that much snow, so rare was the morning I had to shovel before Tom left for work.

And ok, these may not sound like much, but to me, in  The Bad Month February, all these felt like customized, specially-designed blessings from God. They meant much to me--and that's what matters.


The world already has far too many complainers. Presently, there's a huge need for reporters of the good stuff.

"When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around."   -----   Willie Nelson

"...and be ye thankful." 


Oh, and one of our friends from our Nevada years asked if we could please pray for her nephew who has tried twice to overdose on drugs. My friend, herself, is having a risky hospital procedure done today (3/1) and we'd appreciate your prayers about that, also. Thanks so much...


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Uh-Oh! Nearly Lost My Self-Control In The Pity Pool.

"A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls."   ...Proverbs 25:28


Often while Tom and I watch tv, someone playing the part of 'the other woman (or man)' will sadly quip,"You can't help who you fall in love with." You know, like it's biblical truth.

That's when one or both of us will blurt, "Oh, yes you can! Just nip those (untoward) feelings immediately. In the bud."

Other times, characters declare, "But I can't help how I feel!" and we respond, "Yes, you can! Sheesh. Don't act so helpless."

The Bible really is true. Second Timothy 3:3 says in these Last Days, people will be without self-control. It's like the emotions control lever is missing.

But uh-oh. Fast-forward to yesterday when I had a kinda relapse of this 4 1/2 week-old bronchitis with more coughing, a slight chill and doing tasks, then needing to lie on the couch with my blanket, feeling nagged by the laundry, cooking and ironing I should be doing.


At 5:00, Tom arrived home not coughing, not feeling tired, but rather chirpy about his great day. He practically skipped to his room to change clothes.

That's when sudden self-pity tears stung my eyes. "I'm so tired of feeling only 90% of myself!" I thought. "And coughing, resting, eating pineapple and standing over steaming water and-- This isn't fair. What if I always will feel like this? What if---"

But then I said, "Debra! You stop that this minute. You are not helpless. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. In Jesus' name, don't you dare choose self-pity!"

You know what happens if you stretch your foot out too far into Self-Pity Pool, right? Ol' Self Pity, himself, rises from green, murky depths, grabs your toe and yanks you under with him. Then you spend the next weeks trying to rise to the surface. Or maybe you just grow used to living down there.

Well, not me. Not this time. So I left Self Pity Pool's edge.

I finished making sloppy joes which we ate while watching the final new X-Files (we early-to-bed folks appreciate On Demand). And yes, I coughed, drank more seltzer water, rested and patted Daniel The Cat on the head while lying on the couch.

But I also breathed sighs of relief. Through self-control, I'd not been pulled silently, helplessly beneath the Self-Pity Pool. Through Jesus, I can stay above and not beneath. Through Him, my self-control lever still does work.



“Everybody in the world is seeking happiness—and there is one sure way to find it. That is by controlling your thoughts. Happiness doesn't depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions.” 
― Dale CarnegieHow to Win Friends and Influence People

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

Sometimes it's vital to ask ourselves, "Just who--or what--is in charge here?"


I mentioned before that Tom and I really appreciate how Tim Allen fits mentions of God or Jesus nearly every week into Last Man Standing. I begin each episode with almost a waaait-for-it attitude.

Well, here's a short article about a scene from last week's episode, one I'd wanted to cheer aloud, except it would have set me to coughing.  :)

And over at Facebook (where I discovered this article) what a delight to read all the supportive comments there, as well!

P.S. So far I'm having a much better morning than yesterday.  Color me Extremely Grateful!


Free Kindle Books:

Confection Connection

The Mushroom Farm

The Counterfeiter-Catching Cat

Rose In Bloom


Monday, February 22, 2016

Why I'm Waiting Till Heaven to Join Another Book Club

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."  ...Proverbs 4:23


I gave-in and went online in 2000 and the first thing I did? I searched-out my favorite authors and their books and discovered 'book clubs' dedicated to them. 

And because for 4 decades I'd looked for kindred spirits who loved the same quirky, mostly-forgotten books (and found nearly none), I excitedly joined lots of these discussion groups. 

And soon regretted what I'd done.

Why? Well, I'd thought people would share what they appreciated about these authors and their books. I'd imagined they'd expand upon the books' best ideas, that they'd share helpful lessons learned, new bright, stretching thoughts and perhaps some delightful behind-the-scenes facts from further research.

And there was some of that.

But also? There were complaints about how the books could have been better (books I'd found perfect). And discussions of characters' dysfunctional traits took place, traits I'd never considered before, preferring to view peoples' best sides the most clearly, with hope of future change. Folks argued and also shared bad secrets from their own past, almost like a badge of honor. Oh dear.

It's as though these groups exposed a dark side of my best-loved books, a side I just didn't want to see, and sadly, I rarely reread these books today. It's been rather like Eve eating from the Knowledge of Good And Evil Tree---wow, she must've felt so very sorry once she'd viewed the flip side of beautiful.

Of course, some people would shake their heads, tell me to face facts, grow-up and realize book clubs are known for dissecting and 'busting books wide open' and that I should sign back up with them anyway.

But I've noticed something--the older I become, the fewer times people tell me what I should do--how I should vote or what carpet to buy or which preachers not to hear or that I should get a job, a dog or another child. Frankly, that's a joyful thing about nearing 60--people tend to tire of bossing you around over and over and watching you not listen, but instead, finding happiness in your opposite choices.

People who are bound sometimes resent those who are free. I've noticed that, also.

And what I'm thinking? Heaven has some like-minded, bookish souls who only wish to delve into glistening deep water of words and ideas, rather than the murky kind. I'll choose to wait for them. They won't find this type of book club silly, stifling or immature, either, but rather, long-awaited and glorious.

I know this.


"Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!" ... Acts 5:29


Free Kindle Books:

Vanilla Baked Murder

A Hope Revealed

Abandon Your Labels, Embrace Your Calling


Oh my. This song is playing upon my radio. Always, it sounds so great.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Uh-Oh. The Dreaded February Angst.

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



I love dear, old-fashioned Buffalo. I do! But, each year, these frozen Februarys make me question the romance.

It's the snow. The bleak, dirty white, frozen-ness of it all. The inability to safely take walks or putter in my yard (as I'm positively itching to do right now). 

So what began my February angst this year? This. This glorious photo from Kim's beautiful blog, taken during a baby shower at her house on Super Bowl Sunday:

Oh, did you see them? The trees? They have leaves, green leaves--in February(!) Immediately my heart longed for such a magical place where one could look out her window in February and behold green leaves. Heck, where she could actually take a walk (rather than pack on winter weight) or sit and read outside and not die.

Wow. On Super Bowl weekend we had something like this:


For 39+ years Tom and I have lived in snow country and well, I, personally think we have paid our dues. Done our time. Fought the good fight.

And well--confession time: on Saturday we looked-up Kim online and found her enchanted town with the green trees in February. Tom even 'drove around' by way of that street view feature thingy. We both discovered houses for sale there and ones which had sold and we swooned over 1920's nooks, crannies, sun rooms, archways and wide, pillared porches.

It felt a tad like a vacation, in fact, we even spoke about taking an actual trip there someday to check things out. Tom said maybe, if we moved there, he could work from home--his company has an office in Florida.

But eventually, we returned to reality. Kim's town is very tropically humid during the summers. I told Tom I'd have to switch my hibernation months--summers, rather than winters. But at least--during summer--I could sneak outside, mornings, then, the rest of the time, see green outside the windows.

Greeeen. My favorite color. Oh, green. I do love you.

But then (more reality) we recalled how Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder went to Florida 'for their health' and a couple months later raced back home, looking sad and defeated like this:

Heh. Yep. Update the clothes a bit and that, I'm thinkin', would be Tom and me right before getting on the plane to return to saner temps.

Oh well. No season in Life lasts forever, not even Winter, and God can put Springtime in any heart, any time. (Trust me, I know this one.)

Snow melts, the air warms, and Debra eventually bursts out the backdoor the first pleasant Spring day both to read and to putter with her spade in the soil. And suddenly all those months inside the house somehow, inexplicably, make those early Spring weeks so much sweeter, dearer, than they'd have felt without the long sacrifice.

As the saying goes: "The longer you wait for something, the more you appreciate it when you get it. Because anything worth having is always worth the wait." 

And, of course, I'm not just talking weather here....


"But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."   ... Romans 8:25

"You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."   ...Psalm 16:11


Like Gladys Taber, Dallas Lore Sharp wrote books which actually make snowy winters sound so cozy, warm and relaxing that you find yourself wishing to be in the middle of a good ol' snowstorm.

Here are some books of his which you can read, for free, online:

The Hills of Hingham

Roof and Meadow

The Lay of the Land

The Whole Year 'Round

And for more of his books, go here.

Oh, and I'd forgotten that some of these are free on Kindle.

(My favorite of Dallas' books is The Better Country, but I've not yet found that available to read online. Please let me know if you do. My own old dusty copy is dearly loved--what a delight to take this 1920's road trip with Dallas and his wife!)


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Field Trip While I'm *Still* Recuperating

Oh for goodness sake.

Last week my buddy, Tracy, said at Facebook that she has acute bronchitis (oh dear). And you know? I think that's what I've got. 

Bleh. All those symptoms I read about online sounded awfully familiar. No wonder this has hung on over 3 weeks. 

I do feel at least 90%+ better than I did. But gee, this not being able to talk (talk, talk, talk) without coughing is majorly annoying. I am a woman, after all.  :)

Anyway. Today I'll send you on a field trip, but beware. Only folks who want to mature in godly ways will appreciate the trip.

I'd planned to write a post like this one, but Rodney beat me to it--and--wrote it better than I would have.

So here you go.


If Rodney's post touches or teaches you, I hope you'll let him know.

P.S.  If I owe you an email, please be patient with me. I'm pretty behind in Email Land.


Don't you just love this?



Monday, February 15, 2016

How Will You Be Remembered?

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might..."   ... Eccleasiastes 9:10


I've mentioned before that weekly I read the online obituaries from Chester, CA. Why Chester?

I finished high school there.
It's where I met Tom.
He and I lived there after getting married.
Naomi was born in Chester.
That mountain town was my home from ages 17 to 29 and Honey, you surely learn and experience lots during that age span.

Chester played a mega part in who I've become. Yet also, I still read that town's obituaries because--when I recognize the deceased's names--I enjoy praying for their families. That they'll find Jesus and that He'll comfort them as only He can in huge times of loss. And sometimes I locate these folks at Facebook and express my condolences.

This all may sound weird to you, but that's ok.

Anyway. This woman's obituary made me smile:

" ... Mary Ann Fortkamp Estes can easily be remembered by her banana bread, specially-made birthday cakes, and giving the best hugs anyone has ever had. She was recognized for her dedication to the community in 2012... Mary Ann lived her life with unwavering faith, love and joy. She adored her family and friends and made sure they felt her love every single day.

Jesus put a song in her heart, and we'll hear her sing it forever."

Oh wow. Don't you wish you'd have known Mary Ann? 

And here's the thing: none of us recognized Mary Ann's name. She wasn't famous. She didn't pastor a church or sing on American Idol. Mary Ann wasn't the mayor or governor or an African missionary, either. Nor did she sit on her front porch and wonder for 60 years just what in this world God wanted her to do.

No. She baked cakes and banana bread. Gave terrific hugs. Daily expressed her love for family and friends. Mary Ann didn't waste time with worry or wishing for bigger callings, but lived, instead, with faith and joy which spilled over into acts of kindness for her community. 

While Mary Ann lived here, she regularly, daily, used what God gave her. She followed Jesus and the song in her heart--and Earth is different today because of that.

And when we someday leave, may similar words be spoken of us.

"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them."  ... Romans 12:6

When we stop procrastinating, wondering, we become set free to do the good we were meant to do.

"Bloom where you are planted."   ... copied


“People from my first home say I'm brave. They tell me I'm strong. They pat me on the back and say, 'Way to go. Good job.' But the truth is, I am not really very brave; I am not really very strong; and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am simply doing what God has called me to do as a person who follows Him. He said to feed His sheep and He said to care for 'the least of these,' so that's what I'm doing, with the help of a lot people who make it possible and in the company of those who make my life worth living” 
― Katie J. DavisKisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption


Free Kindle Books:

The Bee Man of Orn and Other Fanciful Tales

Lila Blue

Here's a nifty book list I found last week:

Back To The Land: Tales of Rural Life


Sunday, February 14, 2016

It's Valentine's Day!

"Let all that you do be done in love."   1 Corinthians 16:14


Valentine's Day Haters? They are, sadly, only-inside-the-average-box thinkers. Poor them.

Valentine's Day is for counting the myriad blessings of friendship, including the ways it encourages and lifts out heart above Earth's troubles and oh-hum-tedious-dullness.

And it's for thanking God and all who sweeten our life. For remembering that we can choose to live above crippling, blinding mediocrity.

Today may we all be yanked out of the Complaining Trap and set our feet firmly upon Gratitude and Rejoicing. And keep them there forever.

Happy Valentine's Day, a celebration of love (the most important thing), to all my readers!


Speaking of weather, I awoke at 6 a.m. to a dark stillness outside with only minus 12 degrees (!) One chilly way to begin this special day, indeed, the coldest I recall it being in a very long time.


All burrowed in our living room yesterday, Tom and I watched, via Netflix, our favorite kind of documentary: Famous Nathan. It's a film created by the grandson of the founder of Famous Nathan Frankfurters on Coney Island and it had everything: vintage film and photos, history, interviews with delightfully quirky folks and lots of lessons of how--and--how not to be. Tom and I found it fascinating.


But before that, we watched the movie, Max, about the dog who returns from the war. What was I thinking when I ordered this disc?! Must've been an insanity moment--animal films make me a nervous wreck, lest some defenseless animal dies and I spend days recovering. (Some people would hate me for not feeling the same angst about people in films, but oh well.)

Anyway, Tom adores these types of movies (and watches them covertly. heh.), but even he found this movie annoying and badly written. None of the characters were likable, except maybe the mom and Max, who constantly it seemed, veered close to being killed. Basically, I just wanted to fast-forward the whole miserable second half and get to the end.

So obviously, two thumbs down on that one!  :)


And ending on a lighter note, happy Valentine's Day--again-- to each of you whose readership I appreciate more than you realize.


"Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!"   ... From Psalm 113

"Life is what we make of it."   ... copied

Oooooo..... A perfect Valentine's Day song:  Love Comes Down.