Friday, November 30, 2018

You And Me And Mr. Rogers


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



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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.



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







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"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





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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.



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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."



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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



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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!)


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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

What I've Never Forgotten



"So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."  ... Galations 6:10


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So what did I do yesterday on yet another grey (so grey), cold day? 

I climbed our stairs, stood in front of my yard-sale-bought yearbook collection, then snatched a 1960 local one and carried it down to our dining room table where within the pages, oh! I spied an old church friend from the 90's. 

There he was, Coach 'Stan', standing next to the baseball team. He also taught Social Studies, but oddly, I could find no teacher photos anywhere. (What's up with that?)

Anyway, I paused, gazed out our windows and remembered when Stan, his wife, another couple and I met nearly every Saturday night in the 1990's for 3 years to pray. (Occasionally our pastor joined us.) We prayed for--

our church, 
our world, 
our town, 
our friends, 
our relatives.

But hardly ever for ourselves. 

We prayed silently and we also took turns praying aloud. Except for Stan. In those 3 years I recall him praying out loud only once. And it was for me.

See, I shared with our little group how I'd gotten two phone calls from a stranger, a man. (He sounded familiar, kind-of like a co-worker of Tom's who I'd seen just a week before.) Both calls went a little like this:

Debra: "Hello?"

Weird Guy: "Hello Debra. How are you tonight?"

Debra: "I'm fine, but who is this?"

Weird Guy: "Think we could talk awhile?"

Debra: "Uhm, again, who is this?"

Weird Guy: "Let's just talk awhile, ok?"


Eegads. The second time he called I said, "How about if you talk to my husband. I'll go get him." Which I did, then handed him the phone. Of course, Weird Guy had hung up.

Hmm. At our next prayer group when everyone shared their requests, I mentioned those phone calls, with a brave face (actually, they hung over me like a cloud). Someone shared a similar story and the funny way she'd handled it and we all chuckled, then began to pray as usual.

Then a half-hour later, for the first time in 3 years, Stan prayed out loud. He asked God to help me not be afraid and also that the caller would be convicted to stop calling me once and for all.

Wow. Stan had prayed out loud and it had been for me. He'd been the only one to sense I'd been a tad frightened and you know? These 20 years since, whenever I've seen Stan or heard others speak of him, I've recalled that night and Stan's prayer for me.

Oh, and Weird Guy never did call again.

Anyway. This morning, 5:00 a.m., I went to Facebook and Stan's daughter-in-law had written that Stan passed away on Monday. 

Oh dear, and just yesterday I'd stared at that old yearbook photo and had been reminded of Stan's kindness toward me during that prayer group so long ago. 

Today's lesson? May we finally stop erroneously believing that only what matters, will be remembered, are the big-time, glittery good deeds and songs sung or sermons preached on stages before crowds of people.

Everything matters. Every single word we speak and all deeds we do at the nudging of our huge God to whom no kindness is small--but only large and very, very eternal.










"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."   ... Colossians  3:15


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


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Over ice and some spitting snow, I walked to my coffee shop this  morning. Brrr.... cold out there! And what a blessing--later, one of the 'regulars' brought in two sanitation workers and bought them each a coffee and a sandwich because they were working hard out in the cold conditions.

Oh my! Does that warm your heart (and convict it) like it does mine?



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Happiest of Thanksgiving wishes to all my readers! I'm thankful for each of you who read here so faithfully year after year. 

Truly----thank-you.







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


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Thursday, November 15, 2018

More Remolding, Please.



"And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. Let all that you do be done in love."   ... Ezekiel 36:26, 1 Corinthians 16:14


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Yesterday while sitting at my usual coffee shop table, a woman shifted her belongings and coffee at the door. She looked at me and said, "I'll be needing extra caffeine today. I'm a teacher and we're going on a field trip this morning with eighty kids."

"Eighty kids?!", I repeated, my eyes widening. "Oh dear."

She described more details and rolled her eyes about her fellow 2 teachers who tie no reins around childish chaos. I shook my head, commiserated with her good-naturedly, then the Holy Spirit nudged me to tell her, "Bless you," as she left. So I did. 

She paused and then smiled big and thanked me.

Afterward? I sipped my coffee and thought, "Wow. It's like this coffee shop has become my Village of Acquaintances. I get to let God use me in simple ways to bless strangers in my neighborhood."

Remember my post about how in The Long Winter someone--simply by opening their door twice--helped save the entire town of De Smet, SD? And how I want to be that sensitive to the Holy Spirit in my ordinary routine and thus encourage people, even unknowingly?

Well, I still want that. And now I have even crazier dreams, like, becoming a tiny fraction of this--


"As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by."   .... Acts 5:15


Can you imagine if your shadow--or just being present---was the simple way through which God healed someone?

Oh my. How humbling that would be.

It costs a lot, though. I've actually known people who, in ways, are like this. Folks spend time with them and walk away feeling lighter, healed of heart hurts. But first the healers had to give up much--


staying offended
saying whatever hurtful words they felt like speaking
arguing (when God was saying, hush)
not forgiving
viewing certain folks as a waste of time
being greedy 
letting fear keep them from obedience


Oh to let the Holy Spirit teach and change us to be like Him! And oh, how marvelous this softer heart rather than the previous one made of stone. 

It's that new heart with a different beat that keeps us marching now. Not the booming, worldly rhythm, no! But the selfless beat which leads us to a whole other track--

--with a peace so palpable, healing, that the lost ones look and consider walking there, too, for oh! They're not certain at first, but wasn't that perhaps Jesus they spied walking alongside us, too?








"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."   ... Isaiah 30:21


"But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand."  ... Isaiah 64:8


"To love someone is to see him as God intended him."  ... Fyodor Dostoevsky



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So gorgeous, right? Found at Facebook--it's a bit of the Erie Canal in our previous Autumn Cottage town--







But guess what's coming our way this afternoon? --



Oy!


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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

If I'll Just Keep Fixing Instead of Complaining ...



"The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied."   ... Proverbs 13:4



So this Hobbit Cottage of ours was meant to be temporary. 

Our 'farm window' was hurtling down grace-wise (toward the end, I gazed out over our acre of lawn and uh-oh! Nearly had a panic attack when I imagined mowing it forever). So we needed something smaller, quick; a stop-over place on our way to grander digs with a sane yard.

Well. Seven years later here we still are and oh, that Debra! She's embarrassed by how much she's complained.





"Man, this house has no storage. No built-ins."
"Where are we supposed to put our shoes when we step inside? The back entryway has not one spare inch."
"If only we had a coat closet!"
"We need a fireplace. It could be a focal point, a place to burn candles as well as keep us warm in emergencies."
"I need a bedroom door. I just do. This open loft doesn't keep the cats out when I want to be alone."
"There's absolutely no wallpaper hanging in this entire house."

On and on I whined. 

And then? I noticed something: nothing improved (including my attitude) and I only felt more defeated by this house, by its lack of practical (and fun) stuff.

Eventually, after detesting my lousy attitude, I made decisions: 

I'd try to stop whining about what I didn't have.
I'd ask God for determination. And creative ideas.
I'd begin fixing things.
I'd do only what I could manage, myself (weirdly, hiring professionals to help wasn't working)
I'd make this my Happy Place. 

So I began. And that's the hardest part: it's like you must first bust through a concrete wall.

But online I bought a 'gel fireplace', had it delivered and put half of it together myself (Tom helped. He didn't mind.) Loaded the mantle with antique white dishes and now burn candles in it each winter.




For our coats I bought two decorative cast-iron wall hooks/hangers.





After emptying a large kitchen drawer, we began placing our just-came-from-outside shoes in there.




I'd longed for small half-shelves for beside our kitchen sink to display knick-knacks so I bought some online and hung them up (see photo, above). For our office I bought similar, though larger ones for the wall above my computer.

I bought lots of white bookshelves cheaply from Walmart(Gee, I've learned much about assembling furniture here) then inserted them beneath our sloping walls upstairs to resemble built-ins.





Upstairs I created a tiny sleeping room from the closet which has one of our only 3 interior doors. (And it became my most-loved room decor-wise that I've tackled in 40 years.)





I hung bits of wallpaper in 4 rooms. 





I painted 4 walls. Hung lots of curtains, created beds and slipped shallow pull-out storage bins beneath the guest beds.

And more.

Now, has this taken money? Yes, it has--but less than you'd think. Also:

It's been spread out over 7 years. 
I've asked for gift cards for birthdays and Christmas and used those often.
Sometimes I've used my 'monthly allowance.' 
I use credit card rewards, also, especially to purchase hundreds of votive candles each winter.

Today's point? Complaining and self-pity, both, dry up our creative juices. With knots they tie us up and nothing changes. Nothing improves or gets completed or makes us more content in the doing and the beholding afterward.

Complaining (and please know I'm not just speaking of fixing a house here) isn't pleasing to the God who designed us to be oh-so-creative and always moving forward in a hope-infused, joyful obedience.

And that joy is available, but only if we refuse to whine--and instead--accept the creative challenge, first. And then start fixing what can be fixed...

... which isn't everything, of course. But which can still be much.









"I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]"   ... Philippians 4:13




“Start today creating a vision for yourself, your life, and your career. Bounce back from adversity and create what you want, rebuild and rebrand. Tell yourself it's possible along the way, have patience, and maintain peace with yourself during the process.” 
― Germany Kent




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I step beneath this tree on my way to the coffee shop and you know? Daily it has glowed, even on our many (many!) dark, cloudy mornings here lately.

And that's become my new goal. To glow even throughout the dark times.



"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 2:14,15



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


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