Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Dreamier Dreams


Milton asked this question after my post, Living The Dream:

"...At the risk of sounding flippant, I'll ask a serious question: Are your dreams as dreamy as you dreamed they would be?"

...and it's been on my mind since that day. What a great question!

And my answer? Most of my dreams-come-true are even dreamier than I'd dreamed them as a gleaming-eyed girl.

This is something I'd not thought of before. The majority of my dreams/ambitions/goals required some flexibility on my part for me to reach them. Why? Because in my own finite mind in my early, naive years, I did not account for the fact that I would be growing and changing along the way. And we are talking big changes here.

But God knew. He saw ahead when I couldn't. So only by being pliable and walking where He led me could I get here now.

No wonder I felt stuck in one place for so long--my stubbornness held me there. I kept seeing myself in the grand Victorian house my 17-year-old mind beheld, so I was blind to the fact that my tastes had changed along the years. In my 40's, I actually prefer the woods and colors of the Craftsman style of my own home. I actually love the 1930's flavor of this house much better than the 1880's cluttered taste of Victoriana. But I couldn't see it until I let go of the Victorian House dream.

And the books I saw myself writing in the future? This blog is my "letter to the world." Only God could have seen thirty years ago that I'd love the instant rapport with my readers online much better than the delayed reaction if I were to write a book. At least, that is how I feel right now. Perhaps in the future this will change, too.

I had dreams of having many children, yet in these later years, I found that one was just perfect for me. At 17 I saw myself living next to the ocean, but at 46 I know for certain I could never handle all the fog--it would depress me.

And on and on.

So yes, Milton, my fleshed-out dreams have turned out even dreamier than I had dreamed. And I thank God for tweaking my dreams and not always letting me get what I thought I wanted.

Too bad I kicked and pouted a whole lot along the way.

Too bad I'm only just now discovering Father really does know best.

***

Choose a dream, but give yourself--and your dream--room to grow.

"A man's mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure." Proverbs 16:9

***

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Ruts We Dig Ourselves



I wonder how often my life has been dull/monotonous/average or lacking in excitement simply because I made it that way?

Sometimes I put-off a better, more creative life until that elusive Someday.

And yet Today I could have driven a different route to all my destinations and seen houses and people and shops I'd never spied before and eaten in the cozy cafe which I'm always passing while always thinking, "Someday I'd like to eat there."

I might have had my morning quiet time out on the front porch or while taking a walk or even in a neighborhood coffee shop instead of in the same old room.

Or maybe I could've tried a new recipe for dinner or called a friend I'd not chatted with in years.

Switching around my living room furniture was possible, creating a fresh, new setting or trying a new shade of lipstick or a new scent of cologne.

I might have sent flowers sent to a friend 'just because' or shopped in a new-to-me supermarket, taken a walk down a different street or listened to a cooler type of music.

Each morning provides me with the same try-something-new spirit--imagine that!

But always, if I'm to live a rut-less life, it's up to me.


******




"If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves."
- Thomas Edison

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Ok, So It's An Uphill Climb...




Ok.

So you start your diet and the very same day, your spouse surprises you with a scrumptious, beyond-fattening, yummy dessert and you give-up even trying because you know this will just happen over and over.

--and any day you seriously need and want to receive your new (fill in the blank) from Amazon or Ebay, there will be only echoes in your mailbox--

-- and when you recommend a new tv show to a good church friend, it will be the first (and only) sleazy episode of the season--

--and when you had your day planned full of fun things, your child will get sick or else, you will--

--and just when you pay-off your credit card, your appliances start rattling, groaning and breaking down---


And then the Bible has the audacity to tell you to "Count it all joy! Rejoice always! Do not complain or murmur!" (yada yada yada.)

Well, it may help to remember this--

Life is like that.

Stuff happens--and not just to you, either, but to all of us.

Often Life is an uphill climb, but we have One who helps us hike it and there's something right, raw and clean in feeling the stretch, the pull in your legs as you push past what comes naturally. There is no stretch, no pull, no exhilaration in complaining.

Anyone can complain and whine and murmur. Anyone can run, shrieking, back downhill. That's easy.

But oh, the view as you climb higher!

And the peaceful places, the ones discovered only by climbers who continued on--they are like nothing else in the lowlands.

******

Friday, May 27, 2005

Living The Dream



I had a Great Awakening this morning. An epiphany. A lightbulb moment.

It happened while I sat on the bed in my dream room, holding a cup of pretend coffee, the windows wide open to just-waking milky-blue skies.

Glenn Miller's Moonlight Serenade** wafting on the record player, my very own room hugging me inside my own old house in a very old town, a life with the sweetest husband on Earth, a lovely daughter in a nearby apartment, incredible friends, two cats gazing down from upstairs' windows.

Dusty old books lying everywhere, myriad sparrows in the backyard, a remarkable writing place--otherwise known as Blogland.

And then it hit me-- I am living my dream.

Right now, today, I am living in the very center of the culmination of my dreams for the past 30 years. The majority have all come true. And I'm living inside them.

Oh, I'd sort-of realized this before, yet this morning the thought overwhelmed me--in a good way. 

Back when only just a teenager, this is the kind of life I dreamed about while I was living the opposite of my dreams--in lands where I had no choice but to live (and had my imagination stretched nearly out-of-shape.) 

No wonder I always felt like an alien at 17--in many ways, I was.

But now the dreams, nearly all, have come true. And now? I'll keep living them. I've worked and dreamed them into being--dreamed dreams God gave me and helped me to fulfill so on they go.

Of course, I still have other dreams! You stop dreaming, you start dying. 

But equally important is realizing when your dream has come true and thanking God for it and living awake enough to splash around in it. No longer just looking at the clear, blue water from afar off, but really diving in there and swimming around--

--and learning to live with Grace in this new place. Looking ahead, but loving where God brought you, taking some time there to gaze around, call it good, then splash around some more.  In joy.



******

**To hear a sample of Moonlight Serenade, click here.

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."
...Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)


******

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The End Of An Era





Brownie died today.

He was the last of my mice born in March of 2003. He'd outlived all his sisters and brothers.

He was the only brown mouse in the bunch. He was born the strongest and biggest, too.

And now he's gone and it's the end of the Mouse Era of my life. I have been saying for months that never again will I keep mice because they don't live long and they spend too much time preparing to die.

No, no more mice. Not ever.

But oh, they are so much fun when they're young and healthy. They race around like maniacs and look as though they are in love with life.

And best of all, they come running out of their houses when you call and they look up into your face with anticipation. As though they are out-of-their-mind-happy to see you and wow, that's a very comforting thing when your family and friends only mildly nod at you.

They are a joy when they are young. Sweet, even comforting.

They are a sad burden when they are old and ailing. And they become old so fast.

No, no more mice. Not ever.

And to be safe, I'll probably never again walk past the glass mouse cages at Petsmart.

It's too easy to lose my heart that way. 


******


Brownie
March 12th, 2003 - May 26th, 2005

Good-bye Brownie, my little brown buddy with the pink nose, who until a week ago, made the very best of his solitary life. Your happiness on regular, average days will always inspire me.



*****

Graciousness The Morning After




Congratulations to Carrie Underwood, 2005 American Idol!

Tom and I were thrilled with this year's American Idol choice. Tom especially--one night he called-in ten votes for Carrie! (hmm, should I be concerned?). πŸ˜ƒ I think I was an equal fan of both Carrie and Bo.

But really, Tom and I thought each of the top three--Carrie, Bo and Vonzell--could each have made a marvelous American Idol. Each was consistently amazing and we believe they'll go on to great singing heights.

This morning I went over to the American Idol website just to sample a few of the morning-after messages from fans of the show.

Good grief.

I was reminded that being in the spotlight is not all fun and glamour. There are great risks. 

What do I mean? Many Bo fans were not only vocal in their disappointment that Carrie won, but they blatantly attacked her character. It was sad, these people never spent one moment with Carrie in-person, yet they have her personality, her attitude all summed-up in caustic, bitter words.

Whatever happened to graciousness?

Well, rather than go on an ungracious tirade about today's lack of graciousness, er hem, I'll just add that the best way to change what we do not like, is to, ourselves, be an example in that area. Be the change we wish to see, as Gandhi said.

Of course, many people would say that's not enough. And yet, how can people learn to be gracious if they never see what true graciousness looks like?

After all, for the rest of us importance isn't placed on whether our favorite contestant won, but rather, how did we conduct ourselves after hearing the outcome? Was God disappointed or happy with our attitude about it?

So, wanting to do my part--congratulations to Carrie and Bo and Vonzell and all the Idol contestants who made it to Hollywood. You helped make this season of Idol the best so far and I wish each of you blessings on the road ahead.

******

"Graciousness: marked by kindness and courtesy, tact and delicacy. Characterized by charm, good taste, generosity of spirit. Merciful, compassionate. Courtesy and kindly consideration."

"Live such good lives among the ungodly that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." .. I Peter 2:12

***

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Hope Game



Meg's comment to my last post reminded me that yes, indeed, there is another group besides Those Who See Things As They Are and Those Who See Things As They Were.

As Meg said, the third group is Those Who See Things As They Could Become. And like Meg, I am a member of that club also. How about you?

Even as that 14-year-old in the back seat of the family car, I'd gaze at those abandoned houses and ask myself, "What would I do if I had to live there? How would I fix it up?" And then, room by room, I'd walk through the house in my mind, decorating the kitchen, living room and bedrooms. I'd slap on paint, wallpaper and add furniture, knick-knacks. I'd mow the grass, plant gardens and trees.

And you know? I'm still playing that game now in mid-life.

Near us there's a street which, many years ago, was in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most bars (taverns). Squeezed between these bars are ancient houses and most are dilapidated, yet with backyards larger than mine. 

Well, sometimes I walk down this street and play the "What if Tom and I lost everything and had to live in one of these old apartment houses?" game. How would I make it as nice as possible for the two of us? What kinds of things would I salvage to use for decor?

Ok, that smells an awful lot like Pollyanna's Glad Game again, I know. But truthfully? I love to play this "What If?" game. It's a game of hope. It brims my heart with the hope that no matter what, I could make a cozy nest for us. A tiny place where we'd feel love and safety, rather than sorrow and depression for what we'd lost. A warm, bright, shelter in a storm.

I've never had a name for that before. I guess I'll call it The Hope Game.

Any other Hope Game players out there?



******

"(If) we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality."... Nikos Kazantzakis

Monday, May 23, 2005

Different Eyes



Remember that tiny town I told you about--the quiet place on the shores of one of the gorgeous Great Lakes? Well, on Saturday one of my good friends went with a friend of hers to visit that town since I'd spoken so glowingly about it. She's lived here all her life, but never had visited there.

She called me Saturday night and told me that, to her, it just looked like an old, broken-down town.

Well, of course, I was disappointed that that was the impression she'd come away with. But it made me realize something. Some people see things only as they are, other people see things as they once were. I am of the second group and I think the reason I've loved the Internet so much is because finally, I've found other people who are in that same group.

I remember being 14-years-old in the back seat of my parents' car and staring out at a leaning, abandoned, grey old cabin in a field of golden wheat. I gasped and pointed it out to my family, whereupon they laughed and began teasing me that I saw shacks as palaces.

My family loved all things new, shiny and sleek. But I, even at six and seven, loved old, history-laden things because in my mind, I clearly could see just how they were when they were new. I could see their owners standing around those things in long, white dresses and Victorian-style suits--people smiling with a pride of ownership.

Old things have always whisked romantic dreams and stories into my mind's eye. I walk through aging towns and view the shops as they first were. And I see the early people, too, even down to their buttoned shoes and parasols. Beaded Flappers and Jitterbuggers and girls in poodle skirts, saddle shoes, pony tails or derby-hatted men of later years.

But you go talking like that and people look at you weird. As though you're kin to that cute little guy in The Sixth Sense ("I see dead people.")

That is, that's how I felt for 35 years, or so, before I went online. Oh, I'd read books about other nostalgic souls like me, but it was here that I first spoke to like-minded dreamers.

Dreamers like some of you who are reading this now, you who are in the "Seeing Things As They Were" group.

Please be sure to leave your name if you are a member. It would be an encouragement to the rest of us, to remind us we are not alone--

--and perhaps not nearly as weird as we've been told.


******


Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Dance Lessons



Yesterday, Teresa's comments to my last post reminded me of something (thanks, Teresa!) 

They reminded me that eleven years ago I finally came away with God after He asked me to. He'd been asking me for years on quiet afternoons to leave worldly things alone and just sit with Him, but always I was too busy, distracted or scared of what people might say if I acted like the semi-hermit I would have to be to do what God was asking.

But finally, when I sensed He might not always be asking this thing, I came away with Him. I had no idea how long this was going to last-- He gave me no hints-- but those long hours alone with God in my room lasted two years. 

The only way I can describe those hours is that they were like dance lessons. All those previous years He'd been wanting to get me alone so that He could teach me to dance the Life Waltz with Him.
Yet before we could begin, I had to put down bags of heavy toys which I always seemed to be carrying around like a child. 

But when you're beginning dance lessons, you're starting to grow-up. There's no room between your dance partner and you for Things and Stuff and Distractions. 

God asked me to pack away all my toys and at that time, I thought He meant forever.

That was the chance I was taking--letting go of certain books, dreams, movies, ideas, tv shows, hobbies and friends--forever. There were still some afternoons I'd peek out the window at all the costumed crowds outside who laughed and partied just as they wanted--and I would stumble and miss more steps until He'd touch my cheek with His finger and turn my eyes back to His.

And after those years, after many missteps, I learned to dance with Him. He finally knew He could trust my heart to no longer be devoted to Things.

I'd fallen in love with Him.

He even allowed me back into the toy box. Amazingly, all the toys had been refurbished and made new! That was part of God's reward for coming away--for giving-up the What Will People Think and all the mindless doings of My Own Will. Now that He could trust me to play with these toys and not get carried away by their shininess, He was free to return them to me.

The biggest change? He was finally on my mind all the time. So even while I was painting, reading, watching movies (toy-playing), I still thought about Him. Amazingly, I often felt even closer to Him during those times than during my closet times with Him.

He'd taught me the Life Waltz and He said that as long as I let Him lead the dance, my days would flow like music.

And they do. But only when I match my steps to His. 


******

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." ... Isaiah 43:19

"...let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience..." Hebrews 10:22

Friday, May 20, 2005

Forever Painting

.



Today I painted two walls in our upstairs guest/music/work-out/office room. That is what I do-- I paint. Every year I've painted at least two walls in this house--just since March I've painted 9 walls and one ceiling.

But today I opened all the big windows up there in that room and a cool, perfect Spring breeze blew lilac scent upon me which, at times, cancelled-out the paint fumes. I spread old sheets along the carpet and they felt soft as I sat there in my many-colored paint-splotched skirt and T-shirt with the paint brush dripping green and that incredible lilac scent in my hair.

And for a moment, I saw myself still painting the walls in this house when I am 60. Still smiling, listening to The Andy Griffith Show while I repaint walls for the kazillionth time. Sixty and greyer and still loving this place where I live.

But it would take a miracle for that to happen. We're planning on moving away someday for reasons I thought were clear, but are growing cloudier. But for the record, the written record, I would stay here in this house forever if I could.

At least that's how I feel on this day of lilac flavored breezes.

And then I thought, perhaps I was seeing myself painting in Heaven. To me, it won't be Heaven if I can no longer decorate! I find it hard to believe we each will have our own heavenly mansion--I want to live in a mansion (or even a fixer-upper basic heavenly Victorian little place) with Tom, and he with me, so what is the use of us both having one? Isn't that a bit excessive?  γ‚Έ

I'm just wondering and thinking aloud, telling you my thoughts on this perfect Spring day, the one I spent with a paintbrush in my hand,  songs in my heart, and a dreamy smile upon my face. 

A day spent upstairs, or perhaps even higher in a place above the trees-- somewhere a bit closer to Heaven than you'd think.



******

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Whatever There Is To Be Done...




You know how you keep something for 20 years, almost never use it, and then finally decide to give or throw it away--and then the next week you truly need it?

Well, guess what?

I became a bit too ruthless in my great Book-Sorting-For-The-Big-Move-Someday and I gave away Ann Kiemel's book, It's Incredible. Inside that book there's something which 'changed my life' (according to some blogs, that's not possible, but well, you know what I mean).

It went something like this: Ann went to interview a 72-year-old woman, an artist, and found her doing some landscaping in her backyard. Lifting big rocks, to be exact. The woman told her that she loved to garden and when Ann asked her what was her favorite thing in Life, the woman replied, "Manure. Because everything grows so well in it."

And then Ann asked the woman what kinds of things she disliked, as in chores like washing dishes, vacuuming or making beds.

The elderly woman frowned. "Dislike? Whatever there is to be done--I like it!"

Oh my. I read that while a young mother in my 20's and wham! That one sentence stung me. Back then, I could have given you a yardstick-long list of all the things I disliked doing.

But after reading that one page in Ann's book? Immediately I wanted to be like that artist--not just when I reached my 70's, either--but starting immediately.

Be careful what you desire.

In the 20 years since that day, that one desire has taken me on a mighty long adventure of having to let God change my attitude about housework, errands and everything else known as 'work'. 

Needing to stop complaining about them which only yanks me backward and also, learning to search and pull out every speck of Good in simple, daily things.

But it's been worth it. Since 90% of my life is made up of Everyday Stuff, I'm nearly to where I, also, can say, "Whatever there is to to be done-- I like it!"

Well, almost.

And I've found that, for me, there's no better, richer way to live.


******


"So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work..." ... Ecclesiastes 3:22


******

Monday, May 16, 2005

Hermit-Like Tendencies




There's something to be said for opposites attracting. As for me, I've always had hermit-like tendencies, whereas Tom's the type who wants to hop into the car and go, go, do, do. 

And you know? Many times I've felt thankful that he talked me into getting out of the house for some fun.

That is, he was like that until these last two years. I think it began with his neck surgery, forcing him to remain home for six weeks. 

He didn't mind it half as much as he thought he would. 

Maybe because I babied him like crazy--even reading to him from some of the books I'd asked him to read for 15 years. (Turns out he loved and devoured each one. It was weird watching him read like that!).

But, uh-oh. Tom now exhibits hermit-like tendencies, himself. I'm thinking he finally succumbed to my hermit-itis. 

Often, he wants to go out even less than I do and he almost seems satisfied to watch movie-life rather than live life in reality. Even our calendar reflects that. Too many squares appear like today's which says only: "Watch the final episode of Everybody Loves Raymond."

Hmm.

Oh, it's not the going-out that is so important--it's that other thing. That thing I've noticed in myself and my other 40-something (and older) friends. That thing which says--

We are tired.
We have paid our dues.
We attended all those endless concerts at our kids' schools when we thought, "If they sing just one more slow, screechy song, I'll...."
We went to all those eternal, droning meetings at church and school and at the office.
We're sick of traffic and the way people drive.
And we're just plain sick of people. People who aren't careful with their words, those who hurt our feelings or just bore us. Unkind, thoughtless, opinionated people.

And of course, that last one makes us feel the most guilty. As it should.

Oh, not that we're supposed to go around feeling guilty all the time (I've blogged about that). No, but we are to recall that we're here to care for other people. Next to ministering to God, comes ministering to--you guessed it--people.

Unkind, thoughtless, opinionated people. Just like each of us tend to be at times.

The kind of people who need God. The kind who stretch us and keep us from turning selfishly inward and who remind us that godly passion is not just for the young, but for those of us in our late-summer-early-autumn years, too.

It's too easy to become a hermit in these later years. It's easier to bow out of things when you're living inside the empty nest. We can come up with more excuses-- "It's not safe out there. I don't like to dress-up. I've done my time. I'm tired, I'm sick. I'm old."

But it feels too much like going downstream. Like giving-in, doing only what's easy and going with the flow of all (weary) mankind.

I think God had something better.

Maybe Tom and I need to make some changes. Changes which include turning this hermit-like boat around and paddling back upstream.

A whole lot of people are stuck and waiting for our help along the shoreline and if we're hurt while helping them? That's the chance God asks us to take.


*****


"The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway. People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help anyway. Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway." ... Mother Teresa

***

Blue Streams And Mary Jane

.

Speaking of magazines, Mary Jane's Farm arrived today! If you are a country gal/gent at heart and you love that 1940's feeling, you would love Mary Jane's Farm. Always I feel like I've ridden a time machine back to 1940's farm life after I lay down Mary Jane's magazine. The old-fashioned, homestyle photography is incredible, but you don't remember this magazine for the photos--it's the articles from Mary Jane and other farm-folks-at-heart which haunt you longest.

Here are a few of my favorite pages from the website, but holding her magazine in your hand is much more dreamy:

Mary Jane's Farm Articles

And to sum this up-- I've visited some blogs lately which tell us that, as Christians, we ought not to think about ourselves so much. Not about our failings, our successes, our sins, our weaknesses--not even grading ourselves as to how we are doing, etc. But from these blogs there's usually only one recommendation of what to think about, instead:

Think about God and good stuff.

Well, I don't know about you, but I need something a little more specific to go on than that.

I love specific and practical help best. If you, too, are like that, I thought you might appreciate this piece from this issue of Mary Jane's Farm. I believe it follows this Bible verse quite well:

"Be mindful (let your mind be full of ways) to be a blessing..." Galations 6:10


This below, from Mary Jane's Farm, will give your mind something delicious to munch upon:

"I had stayed up too late the night before. It looked like I was going to be late for work, but I pulled into the espresso stand anyway. I was in dire need of coffee. I ordered a regular with cream, 12-ounce. "Are you sure you don't want a 16-ounce?" asked the attendant. "It's free. The lady in front of you paid for it." I glanced ahead just as the woman pulled out into traffic. She was 50-ish; her blonde head was thrown back in a smile as she piloted her Buick Riviera into traffic. I smiled too.

"Well sure, I guess I might as well." When she handed me my coffee I handed her a three-dollar tip. I was suddenly in a really good mood.


I told my co-worker buddy, Charlie, about my free coffee. He smiled. "That's the phantom Riviera coffee lady. She's done that several times to me. I've thought about staking out the place when it opens, zooming in front of her and buying her coffee, but for now I just buy coffee for the person behind me."


Three bucks sure is an easy way to make someone's day......" 




(Taken from a portion of an article written by Emil Butters in the latest issue of Mary Jane's Farm.)

***

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Having, But Not Owning (And The Freedom Thereof)


I don't want to brag, but Tom and I have our own private park on Lake Ontario.

Really, we do. Acres and acres of green lawn and huge trees stretching across the shore right beside a tiny ghost-town-like place. All of it belongs to us.

A hundred years ago Victorian families used to stay at a huge brick hotel right on the shore... and when settled, they would walk to the carousel further down the park or to either of the carnival grounds, both just steps away. And of course, they would sit beside the ocean-like lake for hours in their proper bathing costumes for the times.

In the 1930's, Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey--all those guys--used to bring their bands into this tiny country town. The farmers and their families, as well as the city-folk would stream-in to hear them play.

But now the town sits nearly-silent. Especially on the warm Tuesday or Wednesday mornings when Tom and I visit our park.

The Victorian hotel is gone. It was razed over 70 years ago and one of the fairgrounds has vanished, too. A shell of the other one still sits there, unused. But the carousel was restored just last year and even another carousel spins beside it, though only during summer and early autumn.

And the park is still there. Mostly the same as it always was--quiet and heavy with memories. Of course, The Lake still reigns and we love to watch the white sails of the boats and the seagulls out on the slanty concrete piers.

It's an incredible thing to have your own park. Tom and I pack up our 1950's wool blanket, the dark pink one with flowers, and our books. We stop at the same market on the way and buy a picnic lunch and then we drive further to our park and unload our things on nearly always the same patch of green grass overlooking The Lake. And we eat and read and take gulping breaths of lake air. But mostly, we dream.

Of course, we share our park with others willingly. But whenever we go, we usually notice only three or four other people during all our hours there. They sit or stroll with dreamy-eyed thoughts, too. One Sunday afternoon, there was even a Big Band Era concert in the park and that was amazing. It felt as though the music had returned after such a long time--and the trees recognized it and danced.

But most often, Tom and I are the only ones there beneath those hundred-year-old trees which saw and watched the Victorian crowds.

Tom and I have lots and lots of things which we do not own--things like the aging farmhouses and barns and farmland on our way to The Lake... the many Craftsman-house-lined streets in our town... and our 1920's theater built in grand style when money flowed free and easy for many... the streams and rivers... All those things are ours, yet we make no big monthly payments on them... nor do we pay exorbitant costs for their upkeep... and we do not run ourselves into the ground making repairs... I can even smile at the taxes we pay when I realize that, in a way, taxes make these things a little more ours.

But the best thing we have is our own park on the shores of The Lake. It is ours, but we do not own it. It belongs to us, but only in our opened hands.

It seems the best things in life are what we have, but do not own. That's the way that Tom and I are re-learning how to live. It's a good feeling to no longer want to pack up and move into every big, glorious farmhouse on the side of the road, but rather, to just be happy for the people who live there. And to just feel they are sharing their good fortune with those of us who are simply passing through.

***

Friday, May 13, 2005

It's A 1940's Day Around Here




Tom is at work and I am here alone-but-not-really-alone while one of my 1940's Big Band era records is playing.

And you know? Last night I crisply ironed all my old aprons and put them into a drawer I'd emptied during these weeks of tossing things I no longer love. I have a few empty drawers now, actually--that should be classified as a modern-day miracle, right?

I feel like I'm exactly where I belong.

Years ago I used to be a Big-Time Complainer. You know, one of those people who complained that Life today is not what it used to be and today's people aren't what they once were, either, especially concerning this homemaking thing and the lousy attitudes which the media shouts about. I complained about today's tv shows, music, vocabulary and hair styles. 

I complained about others' bad attitudes while having a bad attitude of my own(!)

But somewhere along the way I learned that complaining gets you nothing except headaches and discontent which leave big crevices etched into your forehead.

Instead, we must decide to make our life what we want it to be. That is, while cooperating with God, not working against Him. Not working 'against the grain' of His map for us.

So I began collecting old floral and gingham aprons for me to wear instead of just complaining that no one wears aprons anymore. And I bought old record albums of the kinds of music I like, rather than complain about the kind of music 'out there'. I gathered old books and magazines which give honor to homemaking, friendship and taking time-out to love and examine the simple things. And I found old tv shows on DVD to compliment those ideals, too.

I even searched for and gathered some friends, like flowers, who enjoy the old-fashioned ways, instead of cramming my days with those who do not.

It's taken time, but years later, I'm living a custom-made life.

All worthwhile things take time--if only we wouldn't get so darn impatient, and instead, simply enjoy the building of an idea as much as the idea, itself.

But I had to stop complaining and meditating upon the negative. I had to knock-off the I'm-Helpless-Whining and the pity parties, for those things only whisked me further from the life I truly wanted. 

I discovered God helped me carve this good life when I sought His help with a glad heart.

Gotta run. Glenn Miller's music will need to be turned over to the album's other side and I still need to slip on one of those crisp aprons so I'll have something to protect my skirt while I clean and dance around the house today. In joy.



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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Burning Bushes Amongst Us





I mentioned in my last post that God sometimes speaks to me through movies.

Actually, I think God can use anything to speak to just about any of us.

The old standbys-- sunsets or sunrises, for instance. Oceans. Midnight skies. Autumn.

But He speaks in smaller ways through smaller things--

The smile of a stranger in the supermarket when we so needed a smile.

The book we'd wanted for 15 years, sitting there, upside-down, on a dusty second-hand bookstore shelf.

The line in a song we heard on another person's radio.

The comfort you knew after tragedy struck.

The walks you take when it looks like you are alone--but you know you are not.

The perfect sentence in a devotional book written hundreds of months ago, but just what you needed to hear today.

The urge to pray when someone far away needed you to pray.

The time you missed being in an accident by seconds.

The blog post with an answer which you stumbled upon on a lonely Sunday afternoon.

The perfectly-timed sermon.

The perfect, no-occasion gift from your spouse.

The way your day fell into place.

The extra key you'd placed inside your purse (or wallet), but had forgotten--and now needed.

The Bible verse which you'd read 4,000 times, and yet it showed you something brand new today.

The thoughts of peace you heard before you fell asleep.

And hundreds more which those who have learned to listen seldom miss.



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Movie Talk



Permit me to go carnal again. γ‚·

No, actually, I'm one of those people who can hear God through movies--well, sometimes, ok?. Anyone else like that out there?

Tom and I watched two more Mormon movies since I mentioned the first two here. The R.M. is fun! When the R.M. (which I am assuming means Returning Missionary) returns home after his two-year mission in Wyoming, he finds nothing as he'd envisioned. Oh my, the scene showing him as a tele-marketer for the 'Filthy Filter" (like the TV Guardian), had me laughing to tears. And like The Home Teachers, this movie also ended with a fine moral lesson without being preachy.

The other movie was, Charly, starring Heather Beers who we loved in Baptists At Our Barbeque. The first part of the film, was a pure delight---great romantic comedy. But then when the film could easily have ended with a tidy "and they lived happily ever after" ending, it continued, totally shifting gears, becoming rather a maudlin drama. Still, we enjoyed it, even though by the end, we felt like emotional wrecks, having laughed, cried, laughed, cried through the entire film.

These new Mormon movies--what can I say? Those which we've watched have proven a relief. How lovely to sit down to a film knowing you won't be bombarded with well, uhm, things the Bible tends to frown upon. How wonderful to relax and laugh without holding the remote in our hands in case something happens which would better be viewed in fast-forward and in silence (know what I mean?).

I recommend all these films. One thing, though--I'd recommend that you watch Charly only after you've seen two or three of the others first--for a couple reasons which I'll keep you guessing about.

We've heard that The Singles Ward and The Best Two Years are terrific, too. Unfortunately, our local video rental places don't have them. We may just have to break down and buy them then pass them along as Christmas gifts. But again, I've not yet seen them, so I'm only mentioning them, not necessarily recommending them (my disclaimer).

Again, I'm not Mormon, but I have been in church a whole lot of decades and am delighted to see films which can laugh at the silly things church people do, yet without laughing at The Church . It's such a fine line and to me, these films walk that tight-rope line in perfect balance.



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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

"I See Blank Canvases"



In your home, do you ever sit and stare at a white wall as though it was a huge, blank artist's canvas?

It is, you know. Each blank wall is an empty canvas crying for a creative brush to stroke it into a colorful life.

That's what I did yesterday with this small-ish canvas just outside my Dream Room door. It had been plain vanilla--plain white--for 70 years. I could tell because there were no tiny dabs of color at the baseboard's edge like I've seen in my other rooms. Mrs. Murphy from the 1930's - 1980's must never have carried her paint brush upstairs in all those years. My Dream Room had lived a vanilla life and the other room across the hall was a dusty, dark, creepy-but-nice attic until we finished it years ago.

So I grabbed my green-dipped paintbrush from the freezer (I keep them all there, wrapped in plastic, so they're ready on a painting whim.) After I brushed green onto the wall, I set-up a card table in my Dream Room and painted a shelf, then a chair while I watched episodes of The Andy Griffith Show.

That's how you take a trip back in time. One way, anyway. You watch an old tv show while you paint something on a spring day with the daylight and day-scent meandering through your window screens.

And hours later, I felt tired and looked frazzled--but in a good way. There are different kinds of tired, you know. The kind where I spent the day minding everyone else's business and worked madly after Grace told me to quit for the day then whined about everything that was going wrong--

--or the type I felt yesterday which comes from concentrating and working a long time, but letting Grace lift and guide my brush while she gives me pleasant thoughts to munch upon. 

The kind of tired which gives me sweet dreams upon my pillow.



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"The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest." ... Thomas Moore

Monday, May 09, 2005

My Number One Pet Peeve



Every once in awhile Pollyanna has to spill her guts.  γ‚·

I'll share with you only my Number One Pet Peeve.

Here it is-- I hate it when people who are called to change something in this world, instead, just complain about what needs to be changed. 

They go around telling all who will listen how upset they are about the terrible problem of ______. How it is unfair and wrong and sad that ________ exists. They even cry tears over _______and appear to be quite passionate about__________.

And yet, all they every do is complain (and complain) about _______.

But what super bugs me, is when these same people start complaining that the rest of us are doing nothing about _______. That no one nowadays cares about _______ and how it irks him/her to no end that everyone else is so passive about _______.

So why does that bother me? It's because if a person really cares about _______, he/she will do something about it.

And when a person is fulfilling their calling in life, there is a peace about them, a grace, while they go about doing what God has called them to do, busy with good, changing things:

They do what needs to be done, whether anyone else is doing anything or not.
They're hope-filled, peaceful people because they believe God is using them to fulfill a very real need.
They know and believe something is being accomplished, even if they can't see it on the outside yet--their obedience rewards them with hope on the inside. 
And because of this hope, they aren't criticizing others who are called to different areas. They realize we all have different callings and passions--otherwise only one area of need would be met upon this Earth.

They see God as their greatest helper, obey Him one day at a time, nearly never become overwhelmed. God never gives them more than they can take care of--He has too much wisdom for that.

They walk by faith, not by sight and their faith brings great rewards. And because of all this, a difference has been made in the lives of people involved in ________.

Well, anyway, that is my Number One Pet Peeve. And you can be sure God convicts me like crazy when I find myself taking part in it.


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