Thursday, June 29, 2006

That Annoying Reaping and Sowing Thing




"Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." 2 Corinthians 9:6


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Funny how often I've forgotten about that verse (and then complained when I did nothing and--gasp--reaped nothing). Or tried to find a different way, outsmarting God's plans and ways and designs.

But there's just no getting around verses like that one, though Heaven knows I've tried.

It often takes me days or weeks to answer emails and then I've complained that my friends sure do take forever to write back.

Some years I've spent little money and time working on my yard and then driven around town questioning why my neighbors have such beautiful flower gardens yet I don't.

I've not left many comments at other peoples' blogs and then wondered why my own comment box was like an empty canyon.

I have this weird thing about not liking to phone people yet I've sulked when friends never call me.

I've been critical and unmerciful toward others and then questioned why others were critical and unmerciful toward me.

Someday I plan to stop trying to get around biblical principles. Probably God will throw confetti and blow horns in celebration.


******

Remembering


That's Naomi in the middle of her two friends, Andrea and Matt.

About a million years ago.

Have you ever tried to slow down time? I tried. I'd sit on the couch and watch Naomi, at six, line-up her stuffed animals, singing under her breath and I'd long for all the hands of all my clocks to stop, even for five minutes. Just give me five minutes, I'd think, five motionless minutes to memorize Naomi just as she is right now, today. Five minutes longer to bask in this moment which will, one day, belong to the time of Very Long Ago.

But always, I felt that hard press of Time moving forward. Even when later, I stood at the bottom of the stairs, appreciating a teen-age Naomi who played her Beatles records, I still felt like a woman on the edge of the ocean, unable to stop the tide from sweeping back out to where it had begun. I could not appreciate moments enough and I never was able to stop a single one.

And even though Naomi lived with us for 25 years, and yes, beyond the time which experts consider kosher--still there was that press of Time. Still it all went by in a blur even though I took pictures and sat memorizing Naomi at 6, 10, 14 and 20. Even though I chauffeured her to Tai Kwon Do and beyond and sat, alone, on the front porch in evenings and told myself, year after year, to treasure Now, because Now would not always be like it currently is.

Even then it all sped by like a train rumbling down a track.


But then, childhood and Life are like that.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Unfaithful Faithfulness?


Here's one thing I've learned--there is faithfulness and then there is faithfulness.

I mean, if I wrote in this blog every single day (which maybe you noticed I don't), I would be quite the little faithful blogger, indeed.

Or would I?

For me, personally, the answer is a sure "No. No, it would actually be unfaithful of me to blog every single day."

Because you see, I try only to post here when 1.) I feel God is giving me something specific to say or 2.) When I sense God's giving me permission to write about any ol' thing I happen to be thinking about. And for nearly two years, I've experienced much peace in trying to follow those two directives.

So what about the days when I'm hearing neither of those things? What if, to remain true to my (legalistic) idea of faithful blog-keeping, I just blast past God's directions for me straight through to my own idea of what faithfulness looks like?

Well, for me, that would equal disobedience, otherwise known as unfaithfulness (no matter what it looks like to anyone else). 

For me, faithfulness to things is what used to burn me out barely after even 'leaving the gate.' Doing ones own thing, ones own way, nearly always requires some kind of price to be paid someday.

Been there, done that the whole first half of my life.

Now, instead, I'm finding that faithfulness to God--obedience--is the way to go. There's just something calming about obedience to God.

For one thing, God knows me best and He knows how much is too much for me. He also knows exactly just how much time I have/don't have and He's concerned that I stay balanced. 

So, always, His ideas and goals will lead me in balanced ways.

Obedience comes with godly strength. And it means that the results belong to God.

Always, even now, I remind myself that faithfulness to God is incredibly more important than faithfulness to a task, an idea or a dream. They are not the same. 

All the more reason to stick with faithfulness to God. Besides, I'd hate to have my head so consumed by faithfulness to just any old thing and then miss the amazing, custom-made, though hazy-to-me plan God had in mind all along.


******

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The 24/7 Friend


Last week I read some 'Mommy Blogs' and, for a moment, wished blogs would have been invented when I was a young mother.

But no! I smiled and was immediately grateful that I didn't have a blog back when I was the most insecure little thing ever to have a baby. I would have loved blogging too much. I'd have poured my whole soul, my everything, into posts without missing a day.

Back then, my blog would have become who I was--my whole identity. And if the Internet was down or if Blogger was down-- I would have gone down, also. If either ever crashed, then I, too, would have crashed. 

When I was in my 30's and the mom of a ten-year-old, I was lonely beyond lonely. This was during those Nevada Years some of you know about already. While Tom worked a hundred desert miles away, I'd spend mornings and afternoons searching for friends, almost like working a desk job. Naomi would come home from school and we'd walk to the park on hot Nevada afternoons and I'd glimpse women sitting together chatting on benches or pushing their children on swings and laughing--and I'd die and die because I could not step over to those women and ask them to befriend me. 

So I put a pen pal ad in the old-fashioned Women's Household magazine and received envelopes with bits of women's lives from farms and city places and discovered a few friends that way, others to add to the list of old friends I wrote to already. I'd pen a hundred letters in a month and still I was lonely. 

Eventually I found a friend down the street and some at church, yet still the loneliness washed over me almost like the scariest, blackest ink when days I'd look at the clock and swear the hands had moved backward.

I poured-out friendship, but never seemed to reap as much in return as I sowed. But back in those years I couldn't see that no friend alive could be the friend I needed. A Friend who constantly followed me around my house and my heart, someone I could talk to and laugh with anytime. 

I wanted someone who never went away on vacation or ignored me during their family reunion weeks or went back to college, got jobs and always started their sentences with, "I've just been so busy!". 

I wanted, needed a 24/7 friend. But not until later, not until 1994 did I finally search in the right place. 

Not until then did I find the Friend who sticks closer than a brother, much closer than friends down the street or ones connected by old-fashioned mail or who you meet at church. And now we have a 12-year wonderful history together, a love which grows deeper, more vital and moment-by-moment each day.

And I believe that's why I'm so grateful that blogs did not exist during my loneliest years--because if they had, I would probably even now be searching, this time online, for that 24/7 Friend. And not finding Him here, I'd have settled for a few hundred sometimes-there, sometimes-not friends instead and oh, Honey. They never would have been enough.







*****

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Yes! That's It!



Found a marvelous, though simple, quote this morning in an old issue of Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion. It says in few words what it takes me millions to say:

"Don't bemoan the sad state of the world. All around you there are things that need to be done. So do them." ...Patty Shaner

Or as I like to tweak this Bible verse, "Be ye doers of the Word, and not complainers only."  ใƒ„

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I'll Take Adulthood

Some people dearly miss their childhood. On one or two levels I can understand why they might, but mostly? Any day I'll take adulthood.

You might laugh, but there are still times, even at 47, when it's evening and while watching tv, it hits me, "Just think! I can stay up as late as I want. Heck, I can stay awake all night if I feel like it." No one will gasp, "Debra Lynn! You should have been asleep hours ago!"

Or other times while standing in a supermarket aisle, I'll consider, "How nice that I don't have to ask permission to buy a certain kind of cereal."

It's wonderful that Tom and I can drive wherever we want and stay out really late. We have no curfew and no parents waiting, worrying, ready to ask, "Just where have you been?"

Tom and I can make our own choices, and if our parents disagree with those choices, we can choose them anyway (hopefully, our plans being ones God initiated).

We live in our own house, can do what we want to inside it, and can decorate the whole thing however we wish. No one will step through the door and tell us to take something down from the wall because it's not appropriate.

We can play whatever kind of music we want within our house, too. No one will say, "Turn down that awful noise up there!" (well, as long as it's not booming out from our windows, quaking the neighbors' houses). We can watch any movies and read any books we wish (again, hopefully at God's discretion).

We can choose our own friends. No person ever takes us aside and whispers, "I wish you wouldn't hang around with ________." (Though in a couple cases, God has advised us to let go of friends who were negatively affecting our relationship with Him.)

And the amazing thing is that I can be an adult and still be creative and child-like at heart. I can still paint pictures, jump rope, have slumber parties, tea parties, still go camping, ride bikes, skip and climb and play games in parks.

What I'm saying is that I love the freedom of adulthood. I'd never return to the confines of childhood (which, no matter how idyllic your childhood, you would find hard to live under, admit it). And yes, there are people I miss from so long ago, yet when I am open to new folks and new friends, it's amazing the dear, similarly-hearted souls God plucks out of the crowds to present to me.

And while living freely in this Land of Adulthood, I have discovered here that God is the perfect Parent for the parent. Just what we need to guide us and to make Life even sweeter,yes, for us as adults.



******

Friday, June 23, 2006

Some Finds & A Helpful Hint

Since some of you like retro stuff as I do, I thought I'd share a few finds.

But first? Here's the helpful hint: Twelve (or so) years ago I bought this 'jailer's key ring' and it instantly made my life easier. If my hands are full of groceries or boxes, etc., I can slip this ring easily around my wrist, leaving my hands free. Love that.


Okay, I have this thing for old figurines and these two little guys, above, are favorites. And I found this elephant at an estate sale inside a house which whisked me back to the 1940's, one which felt untouched since that time--my favorite kind of house to stumble upon while time traveling under the guise of 'estate sale shopping.'

Of course, since the Bumsteads' tv house is my all-time favorite,I had to have this old 1947 Blondie's Cookbook the minute I discovered there was such a thing.  This one makes me happy with its many cartoons inside and its old-timey feel.

And lastly, here's a closer close-up of the adorable little dog I found yesterday. Is he cute, or what?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

While Driving Out In The Country...


... here's what I found at an antique shop today.

Isn't he darling? We don't have a real dog, so for now, he is as real as it gets around our house.

Tom and I went to one of our favorite places today, one which is nearby. It's a park on one of the Great Lakes, a park sitting next to a little town which time forgot. We had a lovely picnic and sat, read and looked out over the hazy-blue ocean-like lake.

On the way home we stopped at this cabin-in-the-woods antique shop and found this little dog waiting for me. And now here he sits on top of our library hutch. Over the years, we've found the pots and the eucalyptus valance on the curb.

We do love living here in a place where people can still find treasure along the street. 

And at home? Look what we discovered in our tree--a baby robin. Fortunately, its parents know where it is--Tom saw its mom (dad?) feed him a worm awhile ago. Poor little thing has been sitting there for hours and lets us approach him. In times like these I'm reminded how I'm always close to a prayer--I've been praying for this little guy to fly back to his home over in our neighbors' tree where his family awaits.

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

***
P.S. The baby robin stayed in the tree all night long... he was there this morning and you should have seen all the robins on the telephone wires encouraging him to fly home! Finally, by the time I returned from my walk, he was gone--and I'll assume (with hope) he's safe back in the ol' family nest.


******

Contentment


My, my. According to some bloggers, you'd think 'contentment' was a horrid word.

Personally, I believe it's a marvelous one, for the Apostle Paul didn't think contentment so terrible, either, as when he said:

"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation..." (Philippians 4:12)

--and--

"But godliness with contentment is great gain." (1 Timothy 6:6)

I can't imagine anyone advocating being discontented. Oh, I understand the reasoning-- not wishing to settle where you are, never moving forward. But that, to me, is not godly contentment.

No, I'm aiming for the kind my favorite teacher describes when she says I should "be content where I am on the way to where I am going."

Mmm. I love that because there is a huge degree of gratitude and thankfulness involved with contentment and I believe God is greatly pleased when contentment is of that grateful sort. 

What's the point of living of a God-given, God-blessed life, never to be contented with it? If I'm never happy with where I currently am 'in any and every situation' what's the point of moving on to another place where I'll be just as discontented? 

What's the point in always living a dissatisfied life?

So today I will walk around my house and drive around my town, with my husband, perfectly contented with this amazing life which God has given me. And may I keep my heart open to whatever it is God wants me to change or wants me to do or be up the long road ahead.



******

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Spreading The Light




"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid." ... Matthew 5:14


******

"...And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? ...As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"... Romans 10:14,15

I have some confessions to make.

Tom and I were handed a "Christian Business Directory," and yet I still shop at many places where the owners don't admit to be saved. I like to take Jesus with me when I go to those places.

I didn't ask my dentist if he was a Christian before I began going to him. I hoped to take the Light to his office.

Tom and I have friends who aren't Christians and sometimes He opens doors for us to share Him with them.

I belong to some secular listservs. I share my life there and God slips into my writing because He's a huge part of my life. (And sometimes people email me privately and want to hear more.)

When Naomi was growing-up, we allowed her to play with kids who attended different churches than ours and children who weren't Christians. She went to secular school--and was a light in a dark place. She shared stories with us of opportunities given her to share Jesus in the classroom and our mouths often fell open. 

(Though if she were young in today's world, yes, I might homeschool her, not because of the kids in today's schools, but the curriculum being taught.)

Of course, we all must do what we feel God is calling us to do.

God places people in strategic places--work, school and market places so that His will will be done and His light will be cast as shining seeds all over the land, growing into something amazingly bright.

And that is why here, in this blog, you will (hopefully) never hear me slinging around vast, broad assumptions, generalizations, rules, and declaring my choices are the ones God dictates to everyone and woe to you if you don't believe and follow exactly-to-the-final-dotted-i as I do.

To me, that is horribly like trying to squish and shove a great big, creative, enormous, creator of the universe God into a tiny bracelet box. And He will not go there. He refuses to--and cannot. It's against His nature.

He is even bigger than I can imagine Him to be and I hate it when I bring Him down to my oh-so-limited ways of thinking. How uncomfortable He must feel when I try.



******

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Another Prayer Request for Michael


I wrote before about my nephew (here), the one in the Army National Guard... the one who was sent to protect those who were cleaning-up Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.


The photo: Michael, Tommy, Naomi.

I asked for prayer for him then and I'm asking for prayer again now. Last week he was sent to Afghanistan. Oh dear. My sister hears from him online and says he is in good spirits--and of course, I'm grateful for that.

But here's the strange thing. Although he's in his mid-20's and I saw him a year-and-a-half ago and I know what he looks like--even with all that--still, I picture him looking like the little boy he used to be. I sit here and see him as a boy of four--or maybe twelve-- standing, this time, in a hot desert, in a uniform much too big and carrying a gun, as well. 

No matter how many pictures of him I see now, I'll always see him as that little guy so very long ago.

And we would very much appreciate your prayers for the protection of him and all those with him in our armed forces.


******
As for the photo, some mothers do not allow their children to play in the dirt, but my sister and I were not of that persuasion. We believed kids should play in dirt/sand/mud for as long as they could, for childhood evaporates, and unless they became gardeners later in life, they may never have that chance again.



******

Monday, June 19, 2006

The 'Supposed To Be' Disease




During my Nevada Years so much joy totally bypassed me because I'd contracted the dreaded 'Supposed To Be' Disease.

Tom's job was 100 miles away out in the middle of the desert (literally) so he and his co-workers lived out there for four days and then came home for four days.

And well, of course, (I thought), things just are not supposed to be that way. 

As a husband and father Tom was supposed to be home every night for dinner. He was supposed to be there whenever sinks and drains got plugged up or Naomi had a concert or when we had loud lightning storms. He was supposed to be home just like every other husband was home. Right? And while I was at it, people (like us) were supposed to live near their relatives, not in the middle of nowhere and we were supposed to be able to have more than just one child and Tom was supposed to get every holiday and Sunday off like my friends' husbands did.

Good gracious. I was so self-absorbed in my assumptions that I didn't even consider all the wives living at the nearby Naval Air Station--wives who sometimes lived without their husbands lots longer than just four days. Not to mention the millions of single women who no longer even had husbands or children at all or enough money or --. 

But Self is like that. It blows a thick fog of selfishness somewhere behind our eyes, one which blocks out any view of others in need and we concentrate on our own misery rather than relieve the discomfort of others. Self rolled in a fog so thick that I too often ignored how blessed I was to have Tom home for four whole days out of eight.

There is more than one way to live! And amazingly, if we'll let Him, God will give us grace, strength and happiness while we're marching to different beats and drummers and accepting, making better, those things which cannot be changed.

Except that in Nevada, I did not let Him. It saddens me whenever I recall our years in Nevada--not because of what took place there--but because of how I too often allowed the Supposed To Be Disease rob me of simple joys, appreciation and the realization of how I was becoming, in some ways, better equipped to handle Life's emergencies, especially the ones which only seem to happen while your husband is out-of-town.

Again, there are many ways to live. 

And how freeing it was for me to finally 'get it'-- to realize it's ok if my life is not like everyone else's. As long as I have God's stamp of approval and His encouragement, well, it becomes just one of many different and amazing ways in which to live for Him.



******

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Blog Magazine?


Last week while walking away from Barnes and Noble, grumbling about the direction of today's decorating/women's magazines, I wondered, "If I had my own magazine, what would it look like?"

And then it occurred to me that, in a way, I do already have a magazine of sorts--this blog. As I thought more along those lines, I, again realized, as with any venture, I am limited only by my imagination.

I want this blog, this 'magazine-of-sorts', to have something for everyone. Not that y'all will like everything, but for the sake of balance and in hope of having something which will appeal to many people with varying needs/tastes/hobbies.

 Actually, I hope to mix things up a little more.

Which is a lot of words just to say, hang in there if you don't see something today which appeals to you. Come back tomorrow and you may be surprised.  ใƒ„


******


Anyway. I like to save my Victorian Trading Company catalogs and use them for the occasional attempt at collage. The first two photos, above, are done on paper in a little Victorian scrapbook I found at Dollar Tree..


The third one is done on the back of a clear glass plate. I've done many collages on plates and given them as gifts. This plate is probably my favorite.

The last photo is meant to appeal to the penny-pinching lovers of art nouveau amongst us. I bought these coasters at Big Lots months ago for only $1 (that was the regular price!). They live upon my front porch.

(Click upon photos to enlarge.)


***
In need of a laugh today? Check this out over at Mel's blog. Heh. If I had a REAL magazine, I would hire Mel as my humor editor. Definitely.


******

Saturday, June 17, 2006

"Well, I Would Never Do That..."




Six little words I try never to say: "Well, *I* would never do that!"

Probably I'd uttered those words 200 times before God called me on it. Way back in 1993, Tom got a new job here in our present state, so for 10 weeks, Naomi and I remained back in Nevada while Tom searched for a house here for us to buy. He mailed us a video tape which he took after walking through this house (our house now) with a realtor and when I saw the huge collection of junk in the attic, I said, "I would never let my attic look like that!"

Huh. Two years and tons of yard sale and curb finds later, our attic looked nearly identical to the junk-shop-gone-bad way it had when the previous owners lived here.

Ouch. 

Unknowingly, I'd become a liar. I'd displayed pride when I spoke those "I would never do that," words in the first place. Pride believes, "Other people may mess up, but I would never mess up as badly as they did." 

For a few more years, I still blithely went around shooting my mouth off in similar fashion. "I would never go online." "I would never hang-up on a tele-marketer while he's still reciting his spiel." "I'd never all-out yell at Naomi. I would never..." well, you get the idea.

Then came the years when I finally let God change me, instead of me trying to change God's mind. God begin to address areas of my life where I was blowing it and eventually, this "I would never do that" area came up. Firmly, He pointed out the extreme pride in such statements--and the ignorance, also.

He'd ask me, "How do you know how you would act in new-to-you situations? What makes you so certain you'd not act as others have, given the same opportunity or hard times? And why do you feel so comfortable tisk-tisking people whose backgrounds you don't know and do not understand? And whatever happened to, 'There, but for the grace of God, go I?'"

(Trust me, anyone who says God never lectures people, well, they've probably got a few lectures coming.)

Anyway, now if I even think about saying those six words, there comes upon me such a strong conviction to, well, shut-up. After which, I'm reminded to seek to understand rather than to judge. 

And to remember the many things I thought I'd never do--and will probably do some more.

God can be pretty strict sometimes. Personally, I'm glad He is.



******

Friday, June 16, 2006

Clarifying Just a Tad




You know my post below, the one called, Trying to Share What I Didn't Have? Not always do I say clearly what I believe (drats). I received a couple questions, so --

I do realize right where we are, wherever and whatever we are--so very far from perfection--we can and should help people. We can always make ourselves, our shoulders, available to cry upon. And God appreciates that so much, especially when, rather than hiding ourselves away in a corner during our own times of grief, we, instead, dry our tears and knock at the door of a hurting friend.

I do believe and realize those things. For decades I've tried to do them.

But I guess what I tried to say was that there came a time in my life when for me, I dreaded hearing people say just one more time, "Debra is so thoughtful. Debra is such an encourager. Debra writes such sweet, uplifting notes."

There came a day when I realized Debra was being thanked, appreciated. She was the great encourager, the awesome letter-writing-poet and a darn nice woman.

And it made me sick.

Seriously. I mean it.

There is a different way to live and be. I know--because I have lived both ways. 

And this way I live now? Tt's far and away better.

It is better to let God drain me out of me. The me who had way too much of me invested in every kind, thoughtful thing I did. The me whose self esteem got high on being appreciated.

And oh! It's a million times better to let God fill the newly-empty parts with Himself, to be joy-filled when others recognize that God showed His kindness through me, just a vessel. That He was the encourager, the helper, the giver.

And another wonderful thing? Very, very seldom do I now hear anyone say, "Debra is so thoughtful."

Thank-goodness. If I never heard it again, that would be marvelous.

Why? Because now what people tell me is, "God spoke through you at just the right moment. Only He could've known that I needed to hear that. He showed me He still loves me by that one thing you did. I needed someone to do that for me."

Do you hear the difference? 

It shines and sings differently like night and day. God is praised, not me. God is the thoughtful one and I am simply the carrier of his love notes.

People try talking me out of this 'Jar Life', but that's Life the way I want it. The way I love and live it. Being filled, then emptied, filled, then emptied. 

And always returning to the fountain for more of Him.


***


"So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow." ... 1 Corinthians 3:7


*****

If It's Anyone's Fault...


This week I wandered through many antique shops. 

Oh, not the kind where everything is ancient and priced right for millionaires only. No, but the type where our grandmothers would probably laugh to see, 1.) The rusty tins, mixing bowls and aprons they would have handled in their kitchens every single day and 2.) The price tags on their 1930's stuff!

But anyway, as usual, I took mental notes on how these old objects were displayed. Many were placed in tiny room-like scenarios, little kitchen corners with painted sifters, metal canisters, Formica tables and egg beaters. Small bedroom-like boxes with beds, oval-framed sepia photos and chenille bedspreads. On and on I wandered until I began to feel a little discouraged that most of my own rooms at home aren't as cute as these.


Then I realized I already own much of what was sprawled all over (or variations). So if my rooms don't look that cute? Well, it's my own fault. I mean, I've neglected my decorating skills this year and I've gotten downright lazy in the Creativity Department.

Basically--if my house doesn't look as cute as I'd like--and if I'm spending money on things I do not love--and if I'm not creatively arranging and painting what I do own, well, the fault is not my husband's or our budget's or God's or Life's. But mine. All mine.


Well, standing in one of those shops, I once again vowed not to become one of those people who blame everything and everyone for the lack in their life. No way. So today I began tackling our Guest/Music/Exercise/Throw-It-In-There Room. And here you go--some photos.

This is just a start. And sometimes, rising-up against inactivity--and the futility of blame and excuses and that lazy pull-- is all it takes to make us feel a whole lot better. (And I'm not just talking about decorating, either.)

(Click on photos to enlarge...)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Trying To Share What I Didn't Have...




"... he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts." ... Acts 11:23

******

One of my (many) biggest problems for years was that I encouraged people to do what I, myself, wasn't doing.

I mean, words fall flat when I encourage people not to worry while I, myself, am a card-carrying member of Worriers Anonymous.

There's no power when I'm patting a woman on her shoulder, telling her to stay calm because God is all-powerful--and then, myself, going home and stressing-out over the tiniest mishap.

Personally, I don't want to be a kind of stressed-out, whining, fearful, impatient, frustrated, just-plain-sad Christian.

That quota's been filled.

So years ago it hit me-- I should slow down and let God work on me first.  I needed to take time out for Him to empty me of myself and all those rickety, laughable self-improvements I'd attempted--and then fill me with Him so that finally, I would have something worth pouring out to others.

It took years. It is still taking years (and oh, what I am finding in Friendship with Him. Like, something's gotta change in His presence--and it ain't God). ใƒ„

Time (and humility) are required to empty out a soul of a whole lifetime of so-called improvements and the changes are worth every pause, every hidden minute of coming away which they required.

Because, finally, there appears something Real to pour out to others. Something they--we--needed all along. Something I can now give while God's still emptying me of myself.


******

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Something New Around Our House


Remember how, way back in April of 2005, I told you we went couchless the previous year because we thought we didn't need a couch?

Well, I lied.

Heh. I'll skip the long story, but this last March we realized we needed, maybe not a huge couch, but a little loveseat in our sun room. Tom had his comfortable chair from which to watch tv, but poor ol' Debra had just a series of straight-backed, back-pain-inducing chairs which just did not maker her happy. Or comfortable. (And if Mama ain't happy, etc.,)

We searched throughout the land for just the right loveseat at a perfect price (hard task) and finally, last Saturday, we found one. A used one, but nice. Rather a Goldilocks kind of thing-- "And this one is juuust right."

And now Debra and Tom are living happily ever after.

The End.

(No, I mean, The Beginning.)

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

The Kindness Search




"If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2


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One of my favorite books is Adventures in Understanding by David Grayson. This morning I read:

"I wonder if ever you change human beings with arguments alone: either by peppering them with little sharp facts or by blowing them up with great guns of truth. You scare 'em, but do you change 'em? I wonder if ever you make any real difference in human beings without understanding them and loving them. For when you argue with a man (how much more with a woman), you are somehow trying to pull him down and make him less (and yourself more); but when you try to understand him, when you like him, how eager is he then to know the truth you have; and you add to him in some strange way, you make him more than he was before; and at the same time, and that is the sheer magic of it, you yourself become more.

"... (Now, facts are not to be thrown at people like dishes or vegetables, but somehow warmed into them.)"

***

That passage reminded me of areas of Blogdom where I dare not wander, lest I accidently step into certain 'God Blogs' which are just itching for a fight, ones which between-the-lines declare, "Agree with me and God--or else-- we will shake and slap you until you do."

No, I dare not go to those places anymore. I search, instead, for hands which help, not hit, and I have no desire to go anyplace where Love is absent. Why wander to lands where I come away feeling worse than when I entered?

Once you've found something better, why go back? 

Well, unless God directs you back in order to help. Ok. But go with God, go with Love, lest you fight as you once fought, in vain, on levels where Love never stepped a foot upon.


******

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Secret Corners

This post at Storybook Woods inspired me like crazy. She talks about bringing summer into the corners of your house and out into your garden.

I especially loved this photo--

In my house and garden I like creating corners where I can meet with God. Quiet, peaceful places which woo me to sit, dream, to meditate upon just how good God has been to me.

My own summer project will be to turn our neglected upstairs' catch-all guest room into a tranquil place, perhaps reminiscent of a seaside room, though it stands high and far away from the nearest ocean. But I can try.

Perhaps even unconsciously, my quest for years has been to create as many getaway-with-God corners as this house and yard will accommodate. I have a place inside a closet, one in our sunroom, one in my own second-story room, as well as a place out on our front porch and in our backyard, also. And one day I smiled when the thought came to me, "If you build it, He will come."

Besides, there can never be too many Secret Corners in which to meet with God, can there?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Your Own Custom-Made Magazines


I've mentioned these 'scrapbooks' before, but here we are again. For one thing, they save money. Space, also.

What are they? They're custom-made magazines. Fifteen years ago I began these and now I find they are saving me, well, like I said--money and space.

All you need are old-fashioned three-ring binders, some clear plastic sleeves (can be found cheaply at Target when you buy a package of 100 +) and your favorite magazines--any type.

All you do is tear out best-loved/inspiring pages from magazines, slip them into the clear plastic sleeves, (two pages, back to back), then place them in the binders. You can then toss the remainder of the magazine into the recycling bin. 

You're saving space because, hey, most magazines are full of ads and/or articles/photos which probably aren't relevant or helpful.

And you're saving money because--once you have a few binders--you can (if you wish) just buy the occasional magazine, ones which stand-out as extra-desirable and full of pages you can add to your binders. (I no longer subscribe to any magazines.)

Magazine pages can be added to the binders haphazardly or can be grouped by subject (theme) or according to the contents of just one type (title) of magazine. For instance, I have--

One binder for just Home Companion Magazine pages
Two binders with only Victoria magazine
And the rest are assorted from various magazines. 

Perhaps someday I'll have a binder with only gardening photos and tips.  The possibilities? Endless.

In fact, I made a cookbook this way using both magazine recipes and recipes copied off the Internet. If I spatter food on the pages, I just wipe them with a dishrag.

Just thought I'd pass along this idea. Oh! And here's my find for the day--a 'yum cup' which I spied in an antique store. Isn't he cute?




*****

Now, I realize some people LOVE their magazines and would rather drink a thimbleful of poison than tear them up. Obviously, this post is not meant for those folks. ใ‚ธ

Feelin' Better



I only have a few minutes. We're on our way to estate sales this morning, but I didn't want my last (whining) post to still be the first one to pop up when you got here. I am feeling better now--hooray!

So here is a picture I took of Tom yesterday down in our so-messy-you-can't-believe-it basement. One of those 'candid' shots which he's always trying to take of me because he read somewhere that candid shots look better. Sadly, he's discovered that is a miserable lie when it comes to candid shots of Debra. But, alas, he keeps trying (and bugging me like crazy in the process!).

So anyway, here is my sweetie of 27 years. You'd never guess that next year he will be 50, would you? Everyone agrees he looks good for being such an old guy. Six years ago, he and Naomi attended college together and some of their classmates honestly believed that Tom and Naomi were brother and sister rather than father and daughter!

And honest, I was happy for Tom each time they were mistaken for siblings (and trust me, he was sure to come home and brag, uh, tell me about each incidence). And for, like, 6 seconds, I even toyed with the idea of joining Tom and Naomi at college to see if anyone would mistake Naomi for my sister.

Huh.  ๐Ÿ˜‰

I chickened-out of that, fast. My grey hair and crows feet and inching-toward-matronly figure would have clearly declared to all: "Obviously we're talking Naomi's mom here. Don't even think about confusing her for Naomi's sister."

Good thing I have a sense of humor about it.
Good thing I am at peace with being in my 40's.
(Well, most hormone-calm days, anyway.)



******

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Pardon My Mini Mid-Life Crisis




Raise your hand if you've ever experienced a mini mid-life crisis.

I see those hands. ใƒƒ

Once again, poor ol' Debra is Mini Mid-Life Crisis Cranky. I say once again, because it's certainly not the first time. And thank-goodness it never lasts long.

Just the same ol' same ol' symptoms:

I want to decorate my house to reflect myself, yet Tom and I keep talking about moving in the near future. Moving where? We have no idea.

I think about fixing up this house to sell and then I run out of energy just thinking about all that needs to be done.

I feel incredibly healthy one day, then have the pre-menopausal bleary-eyed-headachy-blues the next. Oh, and did I mention that I'm now allergic to all my favorite comfort foods and if I don't eat like a boring Healthy Hanna every single day, my body rebels?

Moving along--

Tom and I agree we need to come up with some new hobbies, but for the life of us, we can't decide on any.

Tom has a whole string of days off right now and we'd like to go on vacation, but we can't think of any place we'd like to go. Plus, all the packing-up and taking our high-maintenance cats over to our daughter's (and having her come over here to water our yard) just sounds like way too much hassle.

We consider taking day trips instead of a vacation, but we've already done that to death and, after 13 years, we have this whole area memorized.

I want to have company, but Tom doesn't (he's having a little mid-life crisis of his own. It's more fun, of course, when you are both looney-bin-bound at the same time.).

One day I feel certain of the Life Direction which Tom and I should take. The next day the whole thing sounds preposterous, unlikely and just too much work. We both know God is going to change our lives soon, but we don't know how (so we make blind little preparations month after month and year after year and just hope we're, if not on the right track, at least pretty darn close).

Oh the Limbo Land-ness of it all.

Growing pains-- that's what it boils down to, I think. These mini-crisis' always feel like being a teenager all over again, though being one in a much older body, one with grey hair (which isn't helping my morale a whole lot right now, either).

Oh well. This too shall pass. It always does, you know.

I mean, thank Heaven that God is still God.
He is still good.
And He still hangs-out at my house--even when I'm not exactly pleasant to be around.


******
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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Plants You Sit Back and Watch Grow


Perennials..... ahhh.... flowers for the lazy gardener (me).

God was really thinking when He invented perennials. You plant these and then for the rest of your life you just sit back in your lawn chair with your glass of lemonade and watch them grow.

Well, mostly.

Here is a list of my favorite perennials, flowers/plants/bushes which come up all by themselves year after year.... plants which love you better if you neglect them and ones which re-seed themselves so wildly, that your time is spent just digging them up and rearranging them, rather like you'd rearrange the furniture inside your house.

Ones Which Spread (And Don't Need Much Water or Care):

Forget-me-nots
Daffodils
Purple basil
Bachelor buttons
Grape hyacinth
Columbine
Shasta daisies
Lily of the Valley
Daylilies
Lavender
Peonies (well, they kinda spread)
Black-eyed Susans
Oregano
Lemon balm and mint (though if you're smart, you'll plant these in containers because they're invasive).
Cosmos and marigolds (sometimes, under the right conditions, these will re-seed themselves)

Ones Which Don't Spread:

Purple balloon flower (for 6 years mine has come back even though I do absolutely nothing to it)
Hardy asters


Ones Which Spread, But Prefer More Water:

Strawberries
Raspberries
Sunflowers
Ivy


Flowering Bushes:

Roses (tho' most prefer water, but I do have one old short-stemmed variety which I totally neglect, but has given me red roses for 14 summers).
Lilacs
Rhododendrons


Of course, there are many others, and in some cases, not all of these might grow in all areas (zones). I am so not a master gardener. But I just wanted to share, from experience, my favorites for those of you who may be wanting to grow an easy garden. Many of these grew for my black thumb way out West, thousands of miles away from where this Eastern girl now lives.

I am currently growing everything listed above in my tiny yard. Year after year they all return every Spring, just like dear old friends who, as a group, surprise me in my own backyard with perfumed dresses and colorful smiles.


***
Any other oh-so-easy plants you'd like to add to my list?