Monday, July 31, 2017

Don't Worry. Just Practice.




"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom."  ... Proverbs 11:2


******

Ol' Debra attended 3 high schools(!) and would've gone to another if we hadn't moved--and well--nearly all those schools are planning our classes' 40-year reunions (am I really that old?). 

That would-have-gone-to school held theirs this weekend and I recognized several faces at Facebook and lots of names of those folks, some who I first met at age 11, the age I wrote about in this blog post from 2010.

So--in memory of all those years ago--here you go. Again.


******



I was in the 6th grade when we first took the President's Physical Fitness Tests.

Dreadful old things.

Especially the test where the teachers placed three strips of white tape on the playground which we had to touch with our feet in a sort-of dancing side to side motion. Quickly. Sound confusing? Well, it was to me, a very uncoordinated, kinda pudgy 11-year old. 

And of course, all the girls in our class stood there and watched the 'attemptees'.

The girls before me seemed to get it. Slide here, stop, slide there, stop, then do it again. Looked simple.

Riiiight. 

Then came my turn. The two women teachers, one with a stopwatch, said, "Go." And I went. But not with the graceful, almost dance-like steps of my classmates. Uh, no. My way was halting, faltering and I crossed my feet instead, a big no-no.

Kids giggled. One teacher said, "Stop, stop." Then she showed me the right way. I started again and made the same old clumsy-footed mistakes.

"Stupid old President," I thought, my face hot, reddening. "Why's he making us take these tests, anyway?"

Both teachers looked at one another, shook their heads and then one said, "She's just not getting it. Let's write down 16."

You know how words like those translate to a 11-year-old, don't you? "She's just not like everyone else. She will always be the clumsy one."

Heh. (I am laughing right now, so please don't feel bad for me.)

Well, those words (and my kid's view translation) challenged me. I went home that day, asked my mom for some tape, then put down three strips on the sidewalk. Then I practiced that side-stepping, touch-the-tape thing over and over. After some time, I became quite good at it.

But of course, by then, the tests were over. Done.

And yet, I kept the lesson I learned--that for some of us, things take a bit longer. But if we go home and--with no one watching-- practice? We can keep up. We just need more patience with ourselves, more perseverance--and a sense of humor would help, also.

And you know? Junior High and High School presented many opportunities to recall that same lesson. Like with algebra, folk dancing, sewing, art, etc. Even into adulthood I've 'practiced practicing' and often remind myself that no one excels at everything. 

Each of us has his/her own sets of strengths and weaknesses. God made us that way so to keep us humble.

Well, later in high school I'd walk home and then practice gymnastics alone, again and again, and you know? That clumsy 11-year-old, seven years later, became a gold medalist at her (tiny) high school for her floor routine. People told her she was quite the graceful little thing.

How good it feels to be patient with ourselves, to practice what God's equipped us to do and to keep our sense of humor during the clumsy stages rather than quitting so to save our pride.

Pride--is that really something we want to save, anyway? I'm thinking probably not.  πŸ˜Š










*******


Be patient with yourself, first. Only then can you become truly patient with others.


Mix it up! Step out of your comfort zone. Stay fresh, challenged, alive. (Oh, and please don't get stuck within your feelings of inadequacy from school days. Instead, remind yourself how God feels about you, ok?)



"Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."   ... James 1:4



********

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Got Half a Heart or a Whole One? Hmm?


"A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest--so your poverty will come as a robber, and your want as an armed man."   ... Proverbs 24:33,34


******


So last Autumn Tom bought that new looks-like-a-mean-hornet car using our checking account rather than one he'd intended to and ol' Debra, in a rather passive-aggressive way, went ballistic. (Perhaps you noticed.)

It's difficult to explain, but suddenly I felt all que sera sera, hang my head-ish and just floated along in shh! Secret self-pity. 

Uh-oh.

I began letting some things go, like, er, myself. I would have let the house go except that it's deep in my nature not to, lest clutter and dust really knock me into Crazy Places. 

Yet soon, verses like those, above, haunted, taunted and convicted me. I saw how--for longer than lately, actually--I'd allowed my wardrobe to go all out-of-style-hit-and-miss-boring-basic. My teeth were yellowing and I'd not done my back exercises in ages. And because I'd hit a redecorating-our-small-house roadblock, I'd, in my spirit, given-up (and felt only a new house could fix my angst).

Suddenly those verses, for me, read more like this --

A little barely-there effort, a little thought across the board of your life--so your poverty of spirit will come as a robber, etc." --

Eventually God and Grace (not for the first time) whisked me on a journey out of my mediocrity. They provided unction and encouragement and inspiration in odd places like this line from my orange vintage copy of Live Alone and Like It --


"Whatever you decide on, don't do it half-heartedly." 


Yes! That was my problem. The dreaded half-heartedlies. Gulp. And just where in the Bible are the "It's ok, just do barely enough" verses? (Don't search. They're nowhere.) No, instead you'll find "use your whole heart verses" like these 39 here.

Well, God and Grace kept nudging, so I read my 'dressing yourself for dummies' books then updated my wardrobe, bought shirts, shoes, scarves and bracelets, even. And when a friend of a friend at Facebook sold natural whitening toothpaste, I bought some and am enjoying the results. And you saw the nearly-free Simply Fit board (at least it gets me moving, albeit awkwardly) and I'm doing back exercises and walking when it's not sultry-boiling out there (which seems hardly ever). They're also encouraging me that yes! Even in this small house I can still be creative and if I'm not? It's my own darn fault for lack of trying/focusing/searching for ideas.

And the list goes on.

Today's lesson? Vigorously avoid being half-hearted and lazy (there's needing to rest, but there's also remaining slug-like after God says, "Get up, for goodness sake!").

Like I'm still learning, following Grace whole-heartedly adds color and cool challenges and makes an old, tired world appear new. Yes, even in 2017.





On the whole-hearted track you see and do things you'd never have seen or done on the half-hearted one. It just works that way--on purpose.


We are meant to do tough things. We have a big God inside us who constantly waits for us to receive His help.


"Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly as though you were working for your real master and not merely for humans."   ... Colossians 3:23


******

A special thanks to all who participated in my 13th Blogiversary drawing! I had fun drawing names from the old brown felt hat and the two winners have been notified. Thank-you also for your kind, encouraging comments which blessed me and let me know what I write means something to you.


******

Oh wow. The John C. Maxwell is now following me on Twitter! Talk about feeling honored...

He is one inspirational guy, indeed. For decades I've been unable to read more than a paragraph of his before I must jump up and do something meaningful.


******


Speaking of clothes... This arrived this afternoon and I'm in love (well...)--


It's from Walmart and was technically listed as pajamas/a robe, but the reviewers said, "Forget the robe stuff--it looks awesome as a go-anywhere blazer/jacket!" And it does. Wow. And for only $7.50.

Just thought I'd mention it. (It runs a tad large, being pj's and all, I suppose, so I'm glad I ordered a size smaller.)


******




Or lastly------ We can get mad or we can get busy.


******

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Can You Believe It? Thirteen Years Blogging.


"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people."   ... Colossians 3:23


******


Thirteen years and approximately 3,400 un-reposted posts later, I'm still writing to you my 'letter to the world' (as Emily D. put it). That's probably 6,000 type-written pages chronicling my adventures with God, Grace, marriage, motherhood, houses, farm-life, cats, apartment-living, decorating, books, neighborhood walks, estate sales, train rides, daily joys and struggles. 

And lessons--oh, the lessons one learns over 13 years.

Also, today I'm thanking those of you consistently read here, yes, but especially those of you who 'go deeper,'  fishing between my lines for the important thoughts floating behind my simple words and stories. To those of you who not only 'get me,' but who understand that, really, following some of these lessons might just possibly lead to a wonderful, contented life.

One more thing. A dear friend said in an email--

"When I read your blog, you make me feel important, rather than the dopey house frau that so many like to put down."


Wow. Could I receive a better compliment? Perhaps not, for I truly believe--

The dusting, vacuuming, cleaning which must be done over and over;
The caring, the loving, the apologies;
The gardening, the laundry, the errands;
The shopping, the learning, the growing in Grace, contentment and acceptance of what cannot be changed (and changing what can);

---It all matters. It's all important. Everything we place into a day means something to God and will--somehow-- touch even our lives in Heaven.

And may this blog continue to spread these lessons like seeds upon good, fertile ground over more happy years to come.







"Life is a lot more interesting if you are interested in the people and the places around you. So, illuminate your little patch of ground, the people that you know, the things that you want to commemorate. Light them up with your art, with your music, with your writing, with whatever it is that you do." 

---Alan Moore


******





Wait! Don't go yet.

In honor of my blogiversary, I'll be giving away two $25 gift cards from Amazon.com to two readers whose names I'll choose from a vintage felt hat.

To enter the drawing, please leave a comment here, below, or at Facebook (more than a 'like', please, just during this drawing) or by emailing me at GladOne4@yahoo.com. Don't be shy! Just do it.

I so enjoy these give-aways, dare I say even more than those who happily win them.

I'll hold the drawing tomorrow (7/26) at 3:00 pm e.s.t. Please feel free to enter, even if you've won a previous drawing!



******







Ooooo. The gift for my 13th blogiversary? A cool September-like morning which poof! Made me feel 70 years younger. (Heh. Read my last post.)

Oh, how 62 lower-humidity, breezy degrees can lift ones perspective and remind her that Life (with God) is--still--wonderful.




******

Monday, July 24, 2017

Uh-Oh. Summer Strikes Again.


" ... for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust."  ... Psalm 103:14


******



Is it Autumn yet?

Oh, the humidity! Lately, poor ol' Debra's had the mid-Summer blues, you know, where she feels 90, ill and beat-up and the verse, "Vanity! All is vanity," swirls 'round her head and things she enjoys the rest of the year suddenly feel, well, bleh.

And I crawl up the stairs, hands and feet, a lot.

And if complaining really does shrink our brains, mine is now probably strawberry-size. (I won't tell you about the night I sat up in bed and said, "I hate Summer!" And yes, we have air-conditioning, but even that messes with my head.)

Gee, am I ever glad God understands 'I am but dust.' 

As long as I do my best, He's ok with that, even if my best didn't include washing a few clothes or dishes. I remind myself that I'm my biggest critic, not God or Tom--so knock-off the mental pushing. Be kind to yourself, I say; accept your Summer limitations, the age ones, also, and follow Grace who knows best when and how to do anything. And brings a certain ease with her.


Over and again I remind myself to 'take gratitude pills' to get me through this and to recall one lovely thing -- Autumn is coming! (And lately, even a snowy Winter sounds pretty terrific. And no, I'm not crazy--frigid temperatures invigorate me whereas humidity turns me absolutely zombie-ish. Really, nothing else undoes me like Summer.)






"This, too, shall pass!"   ... copied




******





Tom repaired our washing machine! Hooray. He's my hero. And now I'm so grateful I can do laundry again (a perfect example that attitude is everything, right?).

A special thanks to my buddy, Susan, for mentioning the spin-cycle switch! Tom then found YouTube videos and instructions online. Isn't the Internet really something?



******







Anyone else watching the new Battle of the Network Stars? Brings back memories from the 70's and 80's episodes and we especially enjoy it when stars our age appear on the teams. Makes us feel that we're not the only folks who aren't quite what they used to be.  πŸ˜‰




******



Oh! Look what I ordered from Etsy (except that mine will be red)--




Exactly what I'd searched for. I wanted to scare away adults, but not children.  πŸ˜‰ 


******


Be sure to come back tomorrow for a free gift card giveaway!


******

Monday, July 17, 2017

Complain And There Goes Your Brain(!)



"Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life..."   ... Philippians 2:14

******


First, Sammy The Cat got sick. Now I must give him meds and keep him in a large crate upstairs because for two nights he used our newly cleaned carpet like a litter box.

At this same time, my alarm clock became undependable. Then died. I bought a battery-operated one which works--when it feels like it. So then I bought an electric one from Ebay (and during all this, lost sleep while wondering if I'd wake up on time to get Tom out of here for work.)

Last Monday a black round thing fell off our dishwasher door. Fearing it might leak now, I began washing dishes by hand till Tom could look into the problem over the weekend.

On Wednesday, our 12-year-old washing machine filled with water, agitated ok, then refused to spin and rinse. As I pulled sopping wet clothes from the dirty water I willed myself not to cry (but cried a little anyway).

This is only a test. This is only a test. (And those were just the ones I care to mention.)

It's hard to keep a sense of humor and hope during these times, right? But I'm trying anyway, reminding myself that complaining displeases God--oh--and now articles like this one are popping up --

Complaining Is Bad For Your Brain


Wow. Better brace yourself with some coffee before you read that or the many similar articles out there.


These lines stood out for me--


"The problem with many complaints today is that they can become a way to vent, as opposed to a way to problem solve .... rather than resolving problems and creating change, complaining can become ineffective and create unnecessary stress.


The stress caused by complaining can have a lasting and negative impact on the brain... even a few days of stress damages the neurons in the hippocampus (the part of the brain used for problem solving and cognitive functioning), and impairs its ability to create new neurons.
Over time this can result in the hippocampus shrinking, which can cause a decline in cognitive functions such as memory and the ability to adapt to new situations."

Oh. My. Goodness. At 58, I certainly cannot afford to have my brain become any smaller. Heavens, no.
I want to solve problems rather than just become one (the type people unfollow at Facebook). I want to hold onto God's peace rather than man's stress (which brings that dark, discouraged feeling). I want to remember God is able. He is, you know.
Even during these trying days, may I choose shining like a beacon of Light rather than moaning like just another whiner with a negative, shrinking brain.


We can do this. We can live and believe positively even in Today's world because hooray! There's more grace available now to do so.
Whew.

******
Progress report (as we've been trying not to complain, but to fix things, instead) --

Sammy The Cat is improving!
Both my alarm clocks are (mostly) working great. (Here's the vintage Ebay one. Cute, right?) --

I can use our dishwasher while we're waiting for the replacement part!
The washing machine, though ... We'll have to use our hopefully-not-complaining brains (what's left of them) to figure-out how we'll deal with that. Stay tuned.

******


"Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."   ... Ephesians 4:29

"Complain and remain. Praise and be raised."  --- Joyce Meyer

******

Friday, July 14, 2017

Lightweight Friday

Recently, for 20 cents, I bought this edition of Jean and Johnny at Salvation Army--





Yet although I'd read this before, I just couldn't get past 6 pages because the cover felt all wrong. Jean and Johnny was written in 1959 (an excellent year, indeed, hint, hint), but that book cover! So dreadfully 1980's. Or 70's, whatever. Ew.

And ok, I get why book covers are updated--young folks (and old) supposedly won't even open a book if the cover is dated. Judging a book by its cover--it's still rampant today, sadly. 

We're only human and all that, I guess--and here we thought we'd come so far.

Anyway.

Not for the first time, either, I simply had to order a more honest, true-to-the-book's-heart copy. Which yes, is probably a reverse type of cover-judging. Alas. --







But wow,  what a difference. This time the book (an old hardcover copy) 'went down easy' because the cover belonged to the words inside--and to me, that just makes more sense.

Think I'm wacky? Well, thanks to the Internet, I discovered whole crowds of us behave this way. So there.  πŸ˜„

These (troubled) days, people whine about how, online, we're all so different, but me? The Internet introduces me to kindred spirits galore, ones I'd never have otherwise met this side of Heaven. And how lovely to feel like I fit-in.

And isn't it far more pleasant to meditate upon our similarities rather than our differences? I believe so.















****** 




See this bathroom?




I've not been able to shake it from my head--so--it's the new goal for my own bathroom. In my own style, of course. Probably these walls are white in real life, but I'd like to paint mine a palest pink. A huge help is that everything currently in my bathroom will look pretty surrounded by pink. No need to buy all new stuff.

I'd also love to replace our vanity with one similar, above, but let's not all hold our breath regarding that, ok?

The main thing is that now I have a plan. Rarely does anyone go anywhere meaningful without a plan.

Stay tuned.


******


Sammy The Cat is improving! He seemed to begin eating better immediately after you began praying(!) So cool.

Your prayers are still so welcome, though. Thank-you!


******







Did you know that HGTV's Good Bones is back? I appreciate how this mother-daughter team takes horribly-treated houses and turns them into gorgeous homes for new families to love.  Happy sigh.


******

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Prayer Which (Nearly) Always Gets Answered



If you've read here long you might recall my Restore Unto Me The Joy of __________ posts. In fact, here's one.


Those  Restore Unto Me Prayers! They always seem to work. Simple prayers like, "Restore unto me the joy of ---

... cooking dinner.
... dusting. Vacuuming. Washing clothes.
... keeping up the yard.
... giving. Doing what I must. Blogging. 
... exercising. Writing. Reading. 


Seems even before I step away, poof! The joy, the inspiration to do good is back.

That is, unless I'm still sulky in heart, preferring to cling to recent unfairness. You know, like how certain dreams just aren't happening and probably never will so why even try?

Go playing the resentment card and uh-oh, answers to Restore Unto Me Prayers start crawling like snails. I've noticed when I hold onto pouting, I let go of fun and invite a type of grey boredom, instead.

And who wants that? What kind of a pouting disappointment is worth losing ones peace and energy? 

What I want, instead, is this --


" ... let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..."   ... Hebrews 12:1



--and God, always, is standing there, waiting, to help me.

Whew. (Now, if I can just remember, every time, to ask for that help.)













******







Speaking of prayer, if you're into praying for cats I'd appreciate it if you'd pray for our big black Sammy. He'd been losing weight so Naomi took him to the vet for us and well, he has thyroid issues. I'm giving him his pills and other med.'s but he still looks bad and I'm having to discipline my mind not to let this darken my whole world. Sammy's nearing 14 years old. Sigh.


Thank-you.


******



While browsing local real estate (just for fun! Relax.), I saw this second story bedroom with a great old-fashioned vintage vinyl floor cloth--



Nifty, right? And did you know they still make and sell these today? They're probably made differently, but I found it cool that they're still around.


******






Oh, and recently, Tom and I watched 5 Flights Up. Have you seen it? I really enjoyed it, probably because of my constant interest in houses and decorating and HGTV. Check out the trailer here to see if you might like it, also.


******

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Funny How Acceptance Opens Our Eyes

"Do all things without grumbling or questioning ..."  ... Philippians 2:14


******

Yesterday after I replaced furniture I'd moved on Thursday for Carpet Cleaner Guys and wiped down the kitchen cabinets and ironed-- I gazed wearily at our green wall and the fireplace with all its dishes, books and chachke upon it and the nearby hutch with all its similar eye-clutter and uh-oh!

"What was I thinking?" I asked myself. "All that little stuff! A entire wall of it. How did I ever think that looked good? How long have I been decorating, anyway-- a mere six months?"

Almost did I feel nauseous. Chachke-overwhelmed. Yick.

Immediately, I pulled my weary self from the couch then shoved and yanked and transferred everything back where it'd been before. (Gotta love a movable fireplace, though.)

Afterward, wow. I felt so stiff --yet thrilled. Relieved. The living room felt right, peaceful and made sense again.

But oh dear. That means that--truly--there's only one way to arrange it. Only one! What a near-tragedy for creative, let's-rearrange-and-paint-and-redecorate-again types like me. 

In all rooms of this small house (it seems) I'm at the Just One More Picture, Chair Or Lamp And The Whole House Will Feel Off-Kilter phase. Tilt, tilt tilt. Darn.

Now, you non-decorator types may find my angst, silly. But just imagine never being able to do your favorite hobby again. Never! Or as I told Tom--it would be like him never, ever watching another war movie. (I think I saw him become dizzy at that thought. He seems to understand me better now.)

But here's the thing: I tried finding another house to buy, but crashed against brick walls. No grace, no God in that tedious search. 

No, only after acceptance of this --


It's folly to want what God does not want for me. Folly and foolish and a huge waste of time and a life--


--did I hear truth. Truth like, rather than imagining a different house, imagine your house, differently. Ramp-up your creativity. See this all as an awesome challenge. Get excited about having to dig deeper. Give away what you only tolerate so you can replace it with what you love.

Etc., etc.

Well, I'm much closer, but oh, the 'mental working through' that it took! The submitting. The dying to a wonderful dream. The acceptance. (Embarrassingly, it took months. Rough-in-my-head ones. Alas.)

But now, finally, at Hobbit Cottage it's onward and upward. There'll be lots more fixing what irritates me, improving what I can, using the imagination God gave me and accepting what cannot be changed. 

And as long as I let God guide my attitude, it'll be a good-for-me adventure.

Stay tuned to see if that actually happens.   😏















Take it from ol' stubborn me--accept that God knows what's best for us, for He really does, you know.

“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” 
― J.K. Rowling


******



Oh, and I'll probably lower the ol' Blue Boy painting (see photo at top). I had to hang it higher when the fireplace stood there.

Or perhaps I'll leave it up there.  πŸ˜



******

Need some vintage inspiration lately (as I have)? This is a fun book which will get you cleaning house like the best little 50's homemaker on the block--




It's a newer book, but its tips and hints were snatched from nifty vintage homemaking books. Lots of old-fashioned art, too, like this --



P.S. But eegads! Everyone knows the best way to soften brown sugar is to place an apple slice in the bag/canister. Tsk., tsk.







These blogs might help, also-- Top Vintage Blogs.











******



******