Friday, July 20, 2018

Good Gracious


"A gracious woman gains honor ..." "The law of kindness is upon her tongue." ... Proverbs 11:16, 31:26


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This morning all bleary-eyed at 4:15 a.m., I saw at Facebook that a friend had posted her mother's obituary. She was 85.

Probably twice I'd spoken to her mom and you know? She had that old-fashioned graciousness which I love, and frankly, crave, for myself.


Gracious:  pleasantly kind and courteous. Graceful. Marked by tact and delicacy. Characterized by good taste and generosity.
Obsolete: godly. (But hey, Debra here--is it really obsolete? Or just Today's world saying so?)


Anyway, while I was growing-up, Gracious Women practically 'grew on trees'. You glimpsed them too, right? But now, well-- though they're still around--in some cities you must search for them. Maybe because ours is a 'let it all hang out' world and well, Gracious Women do not let it all hang out.

They just don't.  😉








What, to me, makes Gracious Women shine brightest? Before our weary eyes, they vibrantly live-out this Bible verse:


"Let your conversation always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."   ... Colossians 4:6



When you're introduced to a Gracious Woman she'll make you feel comfortable, as though she's waited to meet you--and aren't you just the most interesting person!

Basically, she treats you as she'd appreciate being treated.

Or you invite your Gracious Woman friend to see your new orange and purple living room with the horizontal stripes? She never once wrinkles her nose. No, she exclaims, "Oh! You did a wonderful job of painting, and I love that beautiful tall, grey urn with the graceful branches in the corner."

A true Gracious Woman's eyes search any room/yard/song/social media post for what she admires (always there's something or we're just not looking hard enough). Then she speaks her admiration, rather like a blessing, instead of commenting upon the things she disliked.

And right there is where I'll lose some of you, for my modern-thinking readers believe we must be free

Free to speak.
Free to criticize. 
Free to spill every opinion: good, bad or awful.

But a Gracious Woman? She's humble and secure enough to keep her tongue, still. Peoples' feelings, to her, are more important than her right to blab speak and she does not feel deprived or repressed about it, either.

Instead, she'll lay her head upon her pillow and feel contentment. Why? She was careful with others feelings--and now happiness will sing her to sweet hours of sleep.






And you know, when you've experienced grace and you feel like you've been forgiven, you're a lot more forgiving of other people. You're a lot more gracious to others. 

--Rick Warren


"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."  ... Ephesians 4:29


(I could write more about a Gracious Woman, but hey. This is only a blog post, not a book.)  😃

******





Speaking of sleep, a longtime reader emailed me, asking for a link to one of my posts about getting a good night's rest. Since I've made some changes of my own in this area, I sent an updated email, instead. Here, below, is most of it in case anyone else needs some hints (I keep reading that this is a common problem these days)--



A super dark room helps. And quiet. And no pets on the bed. heh.

Eating dinner as early as possible is good. I sleep best when I have dinner, like, 4 hours before bedtime, but that's not always possible.

I've learned which foods I must avoid eating for dinner (it's good to experiment and take notes). For me, personally, I avoid chicken for dinner, as well as rice, pasta, potatoes, apples and chocolate. If I have these for lunch, instead, I sleep better.

I take 300 mcg's of melatonin, which I believe is the smallest dosage. Higher dosages can mess up our own natural supply of melatonin. But if I had real coffee in the morning (or other trigger foods), I sometimes do take 2 of these melatonin pills.

Also before bed I take a magnesium pill (400 mg's) and a krill oil pill (1,000 mg's). Tom swears by Natural Calm, a powder you add to water, but it's pricey wherever you find it. Tastes good and helps, though.  Emoji  (Go here.)


When I eat a couple bites of banana before bed, I sleep better. A spoon of peanut butter helps, also, but some proteins keep some people awake. That's another thing to personally experiment with. Beef protein helps me sleep, but it keeps other people awake, etc.

Going to bed roughly the same time each night really helps. If you watch tv before bed, it's good to watch something funny or comforting and nice.  Emoji

Oh, and as you've probably surmised, Tom and I do sleep in separate rooms. We both sleep so much better that way and it's just not worth the lack of sleep to be 'proper' in everybody's eyes. heh.  It used to make us so tense because we were keeping each other awake. Oh my.  Emoji

The noise of a fan helps me sleep and keeping one blowing on me during the summer, helps.



 ******



... and as I shared at Facebook yesterday--




Oh! The Brady Bunch house is for sale. Well, the one they used for exterior shots. From the listing, I peeked inside and could just see myself walking over plush carpet. serving drinks on a tray while 
wearing a chiffon apron over a polyester 70's dress. 

Anyone else?  Go here to check it out for yourself.

(Personally, I love the 70's elegance of the interior. Love. It.)









Wednesday, July 18, 2018

So How's Your Permanent Record Looking?




"Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes."   ... Ephesians 6:10,11

So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” (Romans 14:12).

******


So at Facebook I was messaging with a dear old friend and wrote this:


"When I feel like, 'I just wish the world would end already and Jesus would return,' I remind myself that my record here will count. What I do with my time here matters for all eternity--and well, I want to do it right. To make the choices and do the deeds I'll be able to live with forever and to know that He was pleased with the way I lived here, hopefully brave and strong in Him, only because of Him."  **


Later I sat here at my desk chair and smiled. I wondered if, looking back from Heaven, my Life on Earth Book will have cover art like this:










--- or this:






Oy! What a difference. What a choice.

And yes, it is a choice, a responsibility to, daily--as Christians-- make godly, courageous choices. Or, it's possible, instead, to only form boo hoo habits. You know about those, right?

"Boo hoo, Life is harder these days. Darker, scarier."
"Boo hoo, people are mean. Grouchier. Deceived."
"Boo hoo, I just wish this was all over." 
"Boo hoo, Jesus come back! I just can't stand this one more day."


Good grief. Those whiny Boo Hoo Habits. They royally get on my nerves, especially when I'm caught in one.  😉

Nope! I want the pages of my permanent record to be grace-written, full of brave adventures. Times that I spoke to people when my shyness exclaimed, "Are you kidding?"

Times when I cleaned my house while no one cheered and only laziness whispered,"Just let it go," or I took a walk even though my body groaned.

Times I refused to become bitter and complaining and consumed by politics or worry or criticism. Or when I gave money while Fear of Lack insisted, "No! You'll need that later."

Times I shared Jesus boldly online or wrote in this blog (as He'd asked that day) when I could've sat outside drinking lemonade.

It all matters. 

It all counts, all of it. The lessons, the obedience, the pliability within God's hands. The being remade, remolded. The enjoying God, the loving Him with all our hearts.

Somehow, some way--I believe--it will all matter when we reach Heaven. Rather like this--


"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'"   ... Matthew 25:23


A big baby? Or a lady with the heart of a mighty warrior? Today it's my choice to create the story I'll have to be satisfied with for all eternity. Every single day it is.

And may my thousands of days add up to the identical adventurous story God wanted my life to tell from the day He first imagined me.










  ** To clarify--in this post, I'm not speaking of sins and of God's forgetting them, etc. No, I'm talking about our character and how we'll live with what we became here for all eternity. And how we can be courageous now and at peace, even today, before Heaven.



"Only one life, ’twill soon be past, 
Only what’s done for Christ will last."   

---C.T. Studd

"Fight the good fight of faith."   ... 1 Timothy 6:12


"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...
It's about learning how to dance in the rain."

- Vivian Greene


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Need a song to remind you to recall what God says about you rather than what you (or others) say about you?

This one does that for me. Oh my. Makes me want to stand up and act right, like, this very moment.


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Something I shared at Facebook last night--



"The simplistic beauty of a sunflower in my own backyard awes me. God, truly, is in the details."


******





Nicole Curtis is back with her Rehab Addict show! 

Now, there's a lady who can nudge me back into 'straightening up and flying right." She makes me feel capable like no one else can. (Isn't it wonderful how God uses people in our lives to help us accomplish His purposes?)

You'll find Nicole on the DIY network--and here.


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Monday, July 16, 2018

Here With God? Then You Still Have Hope.



"And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."  ...1 John 2:17

"Be the change you wish to see in this world."   ... Gandhi


******


There's a street here which, 20+ years ago, Tom and I only sometimes visited (from our own town nearby) because, always, many cars and busy shoppers lined it. But it's on the way to a huge bookstore and library so we'd risk it.

Well, here at Hobbit Cottage we're nearer this street now and Saturday morning we slowly drove along it, looking for a possible breakfast diner. 

Oh dear.

I stared from the car window to boarded-up shops, some graffiti and nearly-empty sidewalks and kept hearing dire, dire, dire inside my head. Also, I recalled when we first moved to New York in 1993, I'd drive to the mall nearby even though the crowds jostled me in their hurried-ness. Across the street was a movie theater where we'd bring a young Naomi.

Well, the theater was torn down probably 15 years ago and the mall, ever since, wheezed toward slow death. The final store, Sears, (where, since our 30's, we'd often bought appliances ), closed last month.

Maybe you have similar depressing stories.

This morning at Facebook in three different instances regarding sad/bad worldly behavior, friends 'encouraged' other friends, "It's the way it is now. Get used to it."

Hmmm. That sounds too much like, "Just give up," to me. "Just face it: Life now can never feel terrific like it used to." "Soak in defeat. It's ok."

Yes, things are tough now. Granted. But the Bible does say--


" ...do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope."   ... 1 Thessalonians 4:13


 As Christians we do have God and with Him comes a ton of hope.

Hope that ---

--if there's a way to live in joy, He'll show us how.
--if there's mental/emotional peace still available, He'll lead us to it.
--if there's still hope for a good personal future, He'll lead us there, too.


"Just (hang your head and) get used to the bad stuff"? Uh, not me. I'll use these times to prove that, yes! God is still God, He's still good, and He makes ways when there appear to be none

He still shines through us so others will be drawn to His light. 

And it's still Him from whom, even in 2018, all blessings flow to those who, through undying hope, receive.








"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


"Do not allow your heart to be troubled..."


******


We did spy a diner on that bleak street, but it just felt too sad to stay there, so we postponed breakfast and drove to the visiting Vietnam War Memorial Wall in our War Memorial Park with grass so dry (seldom have I seen conditions like this) and air so hot and humid on that quiet, somber morning.






Wow, from the car I spied the wall at a distance and as I opened the door, a lump formed in my throat and remained, stinging my eyes, the entire time. 

Tom and I were so glad we went to pay our respects. It felt very, very right.






*****

We still attend the occasional yard or estate sale and I find that I must remind myself to believe for nice, older items. Sales in our Hobbit Cottage area tend to reflect these hard era times. They usually have very little and the items are often newer and cheaply made, as that's what people can afford these days.

But again, I use these trips to keep my believing up, not down.





Fire King custard cups. Only .25 cents each(!) (These were from a super old farmhouse in the country, a bit nearer our own old farmhouse from years ago.)





But this lovely old framed photo was from nearby, in a newer section of younger family homes, even, which reminded me never to assume those sales will have nothing for me.  

Never assume anything. My oh my, do I think of that phrase often!  😉





        Taken some days ago before our lawn dried up. People here, most of them, do not water their lawns. They just don't. They simply wait for rain.
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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Cranky Granny Disease (Or, Don't Let This Happen to You)



"Older women likewise are to be… teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored” (Titus 2:3-5).


******


So there's this Bible verse which says, "For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of," (Luke 6:45), but I'd like to tweak it a tad --

"For the fingers type on social media what the heart is full of."

Oy!

Cranky Granny Disease. It displays our lack of patience, is a form of pride--and it's spreading.

What is it, exactly? It's when we over 50 turn sarcastic, rolling-eye-ish and all 'duh, no really?" in our replies about what younger/other folks believe, do and say.

Cranky Grannies forward posts listing ways Today's men and women are--

stupid, 
illogical,
ignorant,
modern, different-thinking,
and unlikely to change.

They criticize (a lot) everything from clean-lined home decor to ecological decisions to hair color, fashion and baby names (and much else under the sun).

They crave a good, have-you-heard-the-latest-foolish-news-article? story. They're blown away when young folks haven't learned what it took them whole decades to know. 

Basically, they've forgotten how it felt to be young. To long to journey away from parents' predictable ruts and discover new lands and music and lifestyles. 

Perhaps Cranky Grannies never considered God planned things this way so we'd not all still be living Dark Ages Style in 2018.

Hmm. Anyway, it's difficult to do sarcasm right online, you know, with just the perfect humor essence so you don't sound like you're snarling. Mike Rowe is awesome at funny online sarcasm. Most of the rest of us are not.

Sarcasm is a symptom of Cranky Granny Disease and boy, it's a simple malady to contract. 





Just spend lots of willy-nilly, clueless time with Grannies who've got it and uh-oh! You'll probably catch it, too.


"A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough."
"It's the little foxes that spoil the vine."
"Evil communications corrupt good manners."


But it's the joy of the Lord which remains our strength and it's love which is the greatest thing of all and is patient with millions of young folks out there still learning--






--- still trying to find their way, just as we did a long, long time ago.

And may they have kind-hearted Joyful Grannies praying for them to find the God of love. At any age we need others' prayers, encouragement and patience.

We have that and so much more in common.









                                   Snapping turtles aren't us.  😉


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


******






May we start well on our walk with God and finish well, also. May we determine to remain joyfully upon this always-learning journey for the long haul.


******

Last weekend a woman's mother was downsizing, for her husband had passed away. After offering my condolences I picked up this seagull ($1) and bought him, for he looked like he belonged upon my mantle--






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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Really Bad Coffee, Back In The Closet And Other Stories



(Ha! Since the beginning of Time, no one else, I'm guessing, has ever used that title.)

Anyway, on the 4th of July evening, Tom asked if I wanted us to see a matinee the next day.

My mind spun. Literally. "What?" I asked. "How can we see a matinee when you'll be at work?"

"I took Thursday and Friday off. I told you."

Uh no, he didn't. I mean, vaguely I recall three weeks prior, how we stood in the kitchen with Naomi and Tom said, "Maybe I'll take the day after the 4th off." But never a word after that. 

Men.

Gracious! I felt like a stick-shift car which suddenly got jerked into a whole different gear. My creative plans for back-to-normal days! My schedule! All left back in the road somewhere. Suddenly unplanned vacation mode was mine for the next 4 days.

Gulp. But we survived. That is, until Saturday morning when we visited a neighborhood diner we'd been meaning to try for, oh, nearly 7 years. We do enjoy supporting locally-owned businesses--it just takes us awhile.

But oh dear. Their hot-dishwater-in-a-cup coffee.





Never ever have I tasted coffee so dreadful. And trust me, I've made  poor cups of the stuff, myself, over these decades. Now, my pancake and sausage links tasted great, but the eggs, eh. Tom's meal, well, let's move on.

But we left a nice tip. Hey, when you've had a daughter who waitressed for 20 years, you quickly remind yourself that your server didn't cook your meal. And ours was chatty and sweet so, especially in Today's world, cheerfully serving even mediocre food (and blechy coffee) should be rewarded.

Our next stop? A quick dash into my beloved coffee shop for a coffee to go. I get only 2 or 3 cups a week, each separated by 48 hours--any more, my head will ache for days, so I needed to taste good coffee, lest I remember only the bad. 

(It's like I sometimes tell myself: "Never let one bad example sour your mind from that thing forever. 'One strike, you're out,' is not a patient, godly, loving way to live.")





******







Well, ol' Debra's back to sleeping inside her closet again. Seriously. 

See, our little window air-conditioner upstairs is, like, 30 feet away from my guest room pillow and the box fan barely moved the cool air through the doorway I've made up there (long story). 

Man, I barely survived our heat wave, not to mention Daniel the Cat kept insisting upon snuggling against my knees, and the lamppost shines through my white curtains and occasionally cars drive past that window by my head and --

--dreading going to bed was getting mighty old.

So I lugged the foam mattress back to my closet and made the bed which wasn't easy because--this time--I'm leaving the closet pole and a few clothes hanging upon it which, ok, probably sounds mighty weird but oh! Who cares? 

My closet world is dark, quiet and like a safe cocoon far from 2018. The air-conditioner and box fan blow upon me and going to bed feels sweet again.

And that's what matters.

Sometimes you gotta love growing older, right? It's not like when you were in your 20's and felt that pull of blending-in so you'd not be whispered about and shunned.

But go reaching 50 and beyond? You realize there are worse things than being abandoned. There's never discovering who God created you to be--then dying only partially formed, still spinning on the conformity wheel. Unfree. 

So today I'd say to anyone who feels anything but free--fling yourself off the wheel. Float around awhile in the silence of breadth and space until oh! You discover the God out there who makes Himself real to those who brave non-conformity and silence.

Do that and adventures will begin again. Journeys recognized as such only by fellow travelers who've risked potential loneliness for freedom, instead, with a Creator who's wanted these adventures for us all along.





                   I've tweaked things a bit in my closet since this photo, but you get the idea. Oh, and the main difference with my closet this time? I'm using it only as a sleeping and dressing room. My 'hanging-out', 'she shed' type of room is still the large guest room. This, I'm finding, is a perfect solution for everything. Finally.




“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”   ... John 16:33




Each day is an exciting adventure with God. You never know how God is going to show up, move or orchestrate things for your good!  ---unknown


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Okay. Is this one of the cutest family photos you've ever seen, or what?






I've known Laura since she was a little girl and a friend of Naomi's. Our families used to spend time together in California and Nevada.

Love, love this photo, and again, I appreciate Facebook for letting us peek into the lives of old friends with whom we'd otherwise have lost touch.


******





Oh! And yesterday Naomi flew to Denver for a wedding band gig with her band and will be traveling back tonight (Tuesday, 7/10). Any prayers for another safe trip would be appreciated--thanks so much!

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y Naomi flew to Denver for a wedding band gig with her band and will be traveling back tonight. Any prayer for another safe trip would be appreciated--thanks!