Monday, December 17, 2018

If Not Now, When?



"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."  ... John 8:36


******


So. There I was Friday, another grey, occasional raindrop morning, after my coffee shop visit. 

I swung my book bag and felt grateful for nearly-snowless sidewalks and 37 warmish degrees and then nearing home, I spied her--our new neighbor who'd bought the dark grey house kitty-corner from us.

She'd moved in last week and I recall thinking, "Well, she mustn't be one of those scary, wreck-the-house neighbors because, hey! After only the first night she'd decorated the door with a Christmas wreath and placed cozy electric candles in the front windows.

Wow, right? Doesn't that stuff usually take years?  シ

Anyway, I turned at our hedge toward the back door, then God and my conscience, both, asked, "Why don't you go over there and meet her?"

"Now?" I asked, pausing in my faded-for-winter Prayer Garden.

Then I heard that phrase which scares any faithful procrastinator like myself, "If not now, when?"

Yikes! I paused. 

"Yeah, now would be a good time, I guess. I look decent, my hair's brushed, I'm wearing my 'going into town clothes' and my black wool coat. Go waiting till Spring and she'd probably drop by here when I'm gardening and resemble a bent-over scarecrow. Not a good first impression, that."

So after another pause, the Queen of Excuses turned around, stepped farther down the street and met Marsha, a lovely widow woman near my age. 

We spoke for ten minutes and I learned much about this busy lady who has 5 grown children and a few grandchildren, as well. I welcomed her to our neighborhood, mentioned a bit about Tom, Naomi and myself and invited her to drop by anytime because I'm always home.

Then after a few more serious raindrops, we said good-bye and I walked back home feeling that wonderful joy of obedience. You know, that thing you feel only after you've pushed past procrastination (or fear or laziness).

Back in my younger years, though? Good grief. Meeting a new neighbor felt like crossing the Grand Canyon by tightrope or like sitting in a dentist's chair. Something to be avoided if one could.  (Just imagine what could go wrong!)

But here's today's lesson: people change. They do! Especially when they stop making excuses--and instead--start making strides closer to wanting to obey God rather than clinging to the silly, fearful self they spent decades creating.

God truly can do anything, even the hard stuff like setting us free from what we'd become without Him. 









"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."... Galations 5:1


“The best way to look back at life fondly is to meet it - and those along your journey - warmly, kindly and mindfully” 
― Rasheed Ogunlaru



******






So raise your hand if, right about now, you need your own special quiet place of renewal and restoration?

As a present, I'll send you to one, absolutely free --

Here you go (play it again and again, turn up the sound if you wish and please stay as long as you need).


******







Give hope this Christmas.
Give hope this year.
Give hope every year.


******






Oh! Don't you just love Open Library? (I mentioned it a couple posts ago.)

It does feel like a library down the street (a little. I'm unable to visit my own town's library since they're no longer open on Saturdays.) 

Truly, I'm enjoying being a card-carrying member of Open Library and yesterday afternoon I read an entire book there, one whose title I spied on a list I kept as a teenager of books I'd read in 1976.

This one. A bit intense, but it pulled me in and wouldn't release me until the final page.





******


"Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." ---- Dorothy Thompson


******

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Adventure: Don't Live Life Without It.



"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."   ... 1 Peter  1:13

******


For eons I'd not listened to Susan Boyle's, Wild Horses, so I zipped over to Youtube, the music began and suddenly! Oh, I sat at the Hoosier cabinet in the autumn-gold dining room at our farm.





Music. Crazy how it yanks you places you can't return to any other way, right?

The lamp atop the Hoosier, the large three windows and outside, the orchard, barn and concrete patio where I ironed (sometimes) with vintage music wafting through trees surrounding the meadow.

Funny, last night all I remembered were remarkable, perfect times of those farm years, but oh Honey, if ever Charles Dickens' line--

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ..."

--- fit any situation, it was custom-made for Tom's and my farm years.

Er hem.

But what an adventure, those 3 years and 3 months! A huge piece of me would feel like a dark cave had we not crawled through that tiny Time Window and chosen the farm chapter. 

If we'd procrastinated, though? Oh my, we'd have missed out, big-time. Still gone to Heaven (of course!), but having never, first, opened this present God picked for us. 

Yet that Wild Horses experience reminded me that, uh-oh, lately inside this tiny suburban house I'm forgetting to factor-in adventure, to stay aware and keep myself from sliding into ruts--- 

"Ugh. Another meal to cook."
"Sigh. Another load of clothes to wash."
"Groan. Just another wild Christmas month to survive."
"Ack. Just another day with people-can't-get-along headlines."


But hey, awake, oh sleeper! 

May I, instead, welcome challenges, those (often annoying) times which shake us awake--and dare us to learn, help, grow-up, stand and fight good fights of faith.

Challenges--or better--adventures which keep us leaning against God's shoulder, asking questions--


"How do I fix the broken things?"
"Who most needs my encouragement?"
"You'll help me with this mouth of mine, right?"
"Where should I go today?"
"What's the wisest way to conquer these tough tasks?"
"How should I pray during these troublesome days?"


May I always view normal Life through the lens of adventure. 

And may it keep me awake, excited, creative during these turbulent days, not just closing my eyes, wishing all the unpleasantness away.

No. But rather, doing today what--later in Heaven--will bring me smiles because I accepted simple-obedience adventures from a very non-boring, makes-things-new, adventurous God.









******






"Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming."   ... Matthew 24:42


"Instead of trying to make your life perfect, give yourself the freedom to make it an adventure, and go ever upward." 

-----Drew Houston


"I'm still a kid inside, and adventure is adventure wherever you find it." 

-----Jim Dale



                  (The farm garden. Now that was a fun adventure!)


A spirit of adventure can keep us from feeling drudgery, hopelessness and dread.


******


Oh! For my fellow love-to-decorate friends--- a local town had their yearly Home Tour day and wow, look at this photo which they used to advertise it:





I'm thinking that's downright cozy, inspiring and gorgeous.


******



And for my adventurous crafter friends? Here's something to make you smile--








******

When my days have turned boring, I blame only myself. Why? Because only I (with God) can make them more adventurous.


******

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Where Forgiving Myself Is Working Better Than Being Irked


"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness..."   ... Romans 8:26



******



So. This aging lady is noticing certain annoying patterns.

I'll step down two stairs with, say, laundry then suddenly remember, "Darn! I originally came up here for some candles." Then I'll climb back up, feel all exasperated at myself, roll my eyes, grab the candles, balance the laundry then head downstairs.

All while feeling perturbed with this aging brain of mine.

Or, intending to visit the coffee shop, I'll step outside the back door, lock it, step away, then notice I'd slipped on my (smooshed and ugly) gardening shoes just inside the door, not my decent walking shoes from the drawer.

You should hear me (well, perhaps not) mutter under my breath as I search for my keys in the depths of my book bag so I can unlock the door.

Or I'll go online to (finally) answer an email then--20 minutes later--get up to vacuum then realize, "Oh! I did everything online except answer that email."

And that signals a fresh, lively round of, "Man, Debra. Get a grip! Use your brain (or what's left of it). Sheesh."

That is, until 3 months ago. That's about when I decided to just relax. Show myself some patience--and forgiveness.

And that (as they say) has made all the difference.

See, I made a decision: I do not want to spend my later years being mad at myself. Looking back from Heaven, I'd be horrified at the waste of that.

So I'm making changes. If I step down stairs having forgotten something? Unless it's life and death (which it never is), I--

Let it go. 
Forgive myself. 
Repeat, "I'm only human."
Make a mental note to later bring down/do what I'd forgotten.

If my distractions made me forget what even sat me down in this computer chair? Ditto.

If I slipped on The Ugly Shoes, instead? Well, ok. I'd change those. heh. But with forgiveness, not a head-shaking curse.

And basically, that's it. Rather than get mad at myself (or this aging process) I'm choosing to chill. To treat myself with the gentleness I'd give to a grandmother. And maybe, just maybe, this is aiding my memory, as well.

And yes, I'm also applying--

Memory tricks. 
Changes to ways I've always done various things.
Researching vitamins that we 'of a certain age' may require 
And asking God to help me recall what really matters.

You know. It's not like I'm being all que sera sera about this.

But my point? Life is short and too precious to spend it perturbed, frustrated with ourselves. Or others. And from that other side of Heaven may I not gaze back, horrified, that I treated my aging self poorly.

So I will forgive Older Debra her weaknesses. I'll do (and learn) what I can, make changes, then ask God to do what I cannot. 

And then? I'll choose to be happy, grateful for today and for the memory I still have left. シ

Oh, and I'll trust God that--until He uploads my shiny,improved memory in Heaven--all will be well, wonderful even, as only He can make it.






"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."  ...Psalm 46:1



Be kind to yourself.




Oh, and as I told a friend at Facebook --

It also encourages me to remember what someone on Oprah said:" It's not Alzheimers if you forget your keys. It might be ,though, if you forget what keys *are used for*". Whew.  😉



******






I'm a proponent of trying new things and for a week? I kept my To Do List online. 

I enjoyed deleting tasks after completing them.

But uh-oh--- for me, it's back to writing things down on tablet paper. Why? Because of course, first you've gotta check Facebook or email or Twitter before consulting the list, right? But then oodles of minutes later--I'd 'wake up'. And realize I'd not even peeked at the list.

And then I'd mentally kick myself over my online distractions weakness.

So yeah. I'm back to using little tablet papers--and am actually getting things accomplished again. Imagine.


Do what works for you. Even if you are laughed at.  シ


******





I'm keeping notes of things learned from experience on My Road To 60. Wrote this one down two weeks ago --


You learn you must slow down. Your thinking, your movements, like getting up out of a chair or being careful not to spin or change your direction in a hurry.


Hey, I aim to be mentally prepared for that 60th birthday unlike when my 50th came around and knocked me over. heh.


******




******

Oh! And if you've read down this far--

Could you please pray for Tom? He's in Oklahoma on business and he may have to cut his trip short (or stay longer) because an ice storm is moving in sooner than thought and we're both trying not to worry.

So, uhm, if you could pray he'll make the right decision (and that we won't be all stressed), well, we'd appreciate it. Thank-you!


*Update: Tom arrived home safely! The ice storm held off longer so he was able to leave as scheduled. We both really appreciate your prayers--thanks so much!


******

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Gee, But I Was Tempted ...


"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."  ... Romans 15:13


******



So each year I, personally, choose My Top Two Christmas Commercials That Make Me Plain Ol' Mad.

No, really.  Ask Tom.  ツ

And gee, was I tempted to share links to this year's winners so you, also, could view these thoughtless, designed-to-make-people-discontented ads.

But uhm, no. Not gonna do it.

Why not? Because I'm here (on Earth and in this blog) to spread hope, not error. People behaving, not misbehaving. Good choices, not moronic ones.

To basically show you Life with God still can be incredible even if a bunch of people argue otherwise, huffing and puffing.

Extra bad news spreaders? Nope, that quota is over-filled. And encouragers-at-heart, especially, should hop out of that line should they suddenly awake, having wandered there within hypnotized crowds.

But oh, December, especially, needs droves of hope-spreaders. Why? Because for every caroler, Christmas gift wrapper, smiler, holiday-lover, there's someone so filled with sorrow that he wonders if he'll even be here tomorrow.

Oh, the crushed spirits out there because of the rampant negativity of 2018, not to mention what we can face just because we're alive and have fragile corners where we hide.

So for the sinking I choose to spread hope. 

Creativity. 
Joy. 
And the peace only a God who's overcome the world can slip into any heart who seeks to know Him.


Please join me, ok? As I said, each December begs for extra carers, those who'll help God lift heads so to see His light which changes everything it beams down upon.









"But you, oh Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head."  ... Psalm 3:3


"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  ... Jeremiah 29:13



“I heard a bird sing in the dark of December. A magical thing. And sweet to remember. We are nearer to Spring than we were in September. I heard a bird sing in the dark of December.” 
― Oliver Herford








******





So! Would you like to see my personal Top Two Christmas Commercials I Love?


Here's one.

(And perhaps it's a favorite because, since Day One, this illustrates how I feel while out-and-about my Buffalo area. Yep, for 25 'City of Good Neighbors' years, it's felt like this.)


Here's the other.

(It's Hallmark's. Grab a Kleenex.)  😉  

Hmm... Not able to make this Facebook link work? Here's a way-too-short version. But I'll keep looking for a longer non-Facebook one.



******


Anyone can spread the bad news. And Anyone usually does. I must keep reminding myself to spread the Good News----The Gospel of Truth.

Oh, and yes I do believe this--


"Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them."  ... Ephesians 5:11


But I also believe that the exposing's to be done only when we're sure it's God speaking through us--and--it's not going to be an every single day thing.


******

Friday, November 30, 2018

You And Me And Mr. Rogers


                 "You are the light of the world."   ...  Matthew 5:14



******


Mornings, my local retro music station DJ's, Gail and Tom, ask fun Facebook questions. Today's? --


For Christmas, do you prefer a real tree or an artificial one?


"Hey, I'll play along this time," I thought. "Maybe they'll even read mine aloud."

So I went to Facebook and wrote:


"We have a 3-foot-tall artificial tree with lights which we keep in our basement covered by a plastic bag. When Christmas time comes, I bring it upstairs and place it in our dining room's bay window, plug it in, and poof! Instant Christmas."  😊


Minutes later, Gail read a couple comments and then said, "Oh, and I love Debra's response." She and Tom chuckled as she read, then Gail said this reminded her of her mother. And for whatever reason, that made me feel like June Cleaver. (Gail is probably around my age.) Oh, and she and Tom agreed probably lots of people do that tree-in-the-basement thing.

So cool! And what a delight that maybe? Maybe a few hundred people paused and smiled on this grey morning simply because of my silly little true story.

And in Today's dark, arguing world--I'll take it. I'll take writing or doing something so simple to lift peoples' spirits, even for one moment.

Which reminds me --

Have you watched the Mr. Rogers documentary? Wow, Fred Rogers was complex--who knew? And neither had I realized his show covered some pretty hairy 'grown-up topics'. (Naomi only sometimes switched on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Not a rabid fan, she.) 

But a portion of that documentary resonated with me; See, one interviewee said Mr. Rogers believed, as he aged, that adults didn't take him seriously. They didn't get him or the depth of his show.  

It was like (I further mused) they only saw the puppets, the children and that tiny trolley circling paper mache mountains, but not the deeper truths. Not what could have helped them grow-up into the fine folks their children were becoming.

And truthfully, in this blog, God has me writing so simply about what I feel are life-changing topics. I understand the 'not taken seriously' part.

But anyway, many adults misunderstood Mr. Rogers, they didn't pause long enough to listen. Oh, the newspaper headlines which accused him of saying things he never said nor meant.

And at one point, Mr. Rogers, in this documentary, looks into the camera and says something like, "Making others feel small and valueless is one of the greatest evils."

He did quit a couple times. 

The pressure, the bad press, the being misunderstood and undervalued by adults got to him (as it would anyone). But he always came back. Even after officially ending the show, he returned for a special episode to help children (and all of us) cope with 9/11.

Really, I find that all fascinating. 

But to end this-- Mr. Rogers had to, well, be Mr. Rogers. He couldn't do his show, his life, all differently. Well yes, technically I suppose he could have. But then, He'd have jumped out of God's plan for him and cheated us all.

And honey, you just don't want to leap into God's plan for someone else. It's too much like, for decades, wearing too-small clothes and living where God never intended to place you.

So today I say:


Make up your mind to accept God's plan for you. 
It's impossible to find a better plan. So don't waste time trying.
Find the adventure in that plan (it's there, somewhere!).
If the plan turns boring, fix it. Get back on track.
If the plan becomes scary, step closer to God.


And never, ever let anyone make you feel God chose a small, insignificant plan for you. That's impossible, also.

The people you're meant to help will get it. They'll understand. They'll need what God gives through you and both of you will help them through the maze of this crazy, crazy world.

And that is invaluable, indeed.







When God asks you to do something, even for years and years, just do it. Joyfully, creatively, bravely, not entertaining the quitting thoughts, but rather, the ones about glorious, eternal rewards.



******








Truly, I recommend the Mr. Rogers documentary. I watched it at Amazon. View the trailer here.







******



"Walk ... with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love." ... Ephesians 4:2

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Simply This and That





******


1.)  On Sunday, Tom and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary(!) 

Wow. All those years spin and blur like a carousel ride, but what a good life. Trust me, I discipline my mind to appreciate everything fine and right 'round here.

Oh, and for all of 2018 Tom and I tried to choose a celebratory adventure (darn ol' homebodies), but could decide on just one thing: going out to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant with Naomi and Justin, using a gift card they'd given us for Christmas.

So we did that--and had a lovely time. (Perhaps by 2019 we'll be able to think of traveling somewhere more than 2 miles from home. heh.)






2.) Back when I took the easy (boring) route and wore only black pants, I used this hanger--






--and oh, the confusion. All that black! It morphed like a blob and I couldn't tell my gardening pants apart from my dress ones unless I removed each piece to peer more closely. 

Can you say annoyingly time-consuming?

So I began labeling large plastic bags (free from my Walmart orders), describing specific pants, Capri's, leggings and keeping them all inside two plastic totes beneath a guest bed. One for warm seasons, the other for cool, I pull them out like drawers, then look for the appropriate label.





So easy. And on my personal 'Journey to 60' ? This idea makes my life simpler and more pleasant so it's a winner. 



3.) Oh! Until last week I'd forgotten about Bookfinder.com. That's a wonderful website which helps cheapskate bottom feeders bargain-hunters like myself find the least expensive copies of books online.

Check it out here



4.)  And wow, did you read about that 13-year-old girl who (years ago) invented candy which cleans your teeth and she's sold, like, 7 million dollars' worth this year? 




Wild, right? Especially when, at 13, I began trying to think of something I could invent and--46 years later--have yet to devise anything beyond quick household fixes.

But hey. I'm ok with that. Mostly. (If only mine paid better... ha!)



5.)  Oh! Saw this in a Kashi ad on my Facebook. The caption was: Cantaloupe bowls > regular bowls --





Cool idea, right? (I'm assuming the white stuff is yogurt.)  ツ



6.)  And ha! Had to laugh at this --






7.) And are you familiar with the Internet Archive (Open Library)? Got my online library card just yesterday and oh! They have some books of the 'quirky vintage variety', even. (I'd nearly given up on finding such a place online or otherwise.) 

The site is easy to maneuver around, you can 'keep' up to 5 books for 2 weeks and it's almost like you're reading an actual paper book. See what I mean here.



😉



8.) And here's my current favorite photo of Naomi and Justin. This was taken in Florida last year when they played music at a friend's wedding --






9.) If you need a little boost to help you feel thankful now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, check out this awesome 1 1/2 minute video. Guaranteed to stick with you!






10.) And lastly, probably today I'll bring up from the basement our little lighted, table top Christmas tree. But isn't this ladder one from Laura Leona's Cottage Garden, awesome?




              (The caption was)--  "Throw back to 2013 Painted Farmgirl. Remember the time I made a Christmas tree out of a ladder           and grapevines? So fun."



******


Happy Christmas season to you!




(That 'Early Christmas' post of mine? It's weird, but it's actually helped me enjoy the preliminary celebratory stuff going on right now rather than being a Scrooge. Hmm.)


"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." ... Isaiah 9:6



******





Oh! Nearly forgot. This week is a rare one at DollarTree.com. You can order whatever you wish for just a $4.95 shipping charge. Normally there's, like, an $8 charge for each set of items you purchase(!) 

The offer is good through Saturday, December 1st.

Check out their so-cute Christmas decor this year. (Though I'm still trying to find a way to buy less than 24 or 36 of everything!)


******