"Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." ---John 14:6
Thursday, November 30, 2006
"Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else..." ... Galations 6:4
When you just have one child, people tend to tell you, in funny and not-so-funny ways, that you should have more kids.
Trust me, I know.
For lots of years, Tom and I had people--especially, but not exclusively, relatives--give us hints, advice, warnings and even prophecies about having more children. And basically, the only result became my frustration, confusion and misery, because, well, it just wasn't happening. Tom and I were only able to have one child 'the old-fashioned way' and when I wasn't being told we should adopt or try this and that, I was happy with the way things were, with our one little bird in the family nest.
Only while I listened to all those other voices and opinions did I flounder. Those words (and the occasional maternal hormone whining inside me) caused me to compare my little family to those who had two or more children and to let nagging, annoying doubts kick me around.
The whole story would take pages, but I'm using it only as an example.
Believe it or not, God knows best (imagine that!). He knows me, knows (and made) the plans He has for me and way back when I struggled with all this, He knew having more children was not in His plan for me--and that today, I would be fine with that.
Because truly, I am.
The only time I'm not fine? When I start back up with the comparisons.
But no one's life is one hilarious time after another, no matter how many children they have. And thank-goodness I've grown enough to realize that.
And thank-goodness I also know God gives me Grace for every single thing He assigns me. It's only when I wander over to places my comparisons take me that I begin flailing, gasping for help.
I could, right now, adopt a whole houseful of children and work at the local orphanage and head-up committees on helping the homeless--but eventually? I'd crumble into heaps of regret. I'd fail, exhausted, because God didn't bring me to those wonderful places. He escorts other people there with the Grace to remain, and I am only unwise and silly when I compare my bits of God-given Grace to theirs.
It's all good--but only when it's all from Him.
"When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise." ... 2 Corinthians 10:12
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sometimes God gets on my nerves.
Ok, calm down. Let me explain.
As I told you, Saturday was our anniversary, and well, we absolutely loved watching Deja Vu. It was awesome, cool and Denzel (Tom's favorite actor) was at his incredible best. We even watched another movie after going out for dessert and strolling through Home Depot, and when we got home, Naomi had left an amazing lemon jello cake for us. A perfect day.
Then came Sunday.
There we were, Tom and I, that cute couple who rarely fights anymore, standing in line at the supermarket, having an argument in heated whispers. One of those which goes a little like:
"Hey! We don't say that in our family."
"Well, you shut-up anyway."
"No, you shut-up!"
(Blah, blah, blah.)
We continued the fight on the way home in the car, and when we pulled into the driveway and Tom said that I was like the woman who lives across the street, I gasped and saw red. "You take that back!" I said.
"No, I won't. She nags her husband every time they're out in their yard and you are nagging me to death."
Oooooo. I was fuming. I stomped upstairs and only when I calmed down (took awhile) did I realize something. Part of the problem (just part) had been that Tom is not yet ready to eat healthy foods on a constant basis. And it came to me that, even in that area, trying to change a person when God has not yet worked on their heart, well, it's impossible.
For any of us to change, God has to soften our hearts and then we have to cooperate with His ideas after that.
So I went downstairs and told Tom that I would no longer nag him about eating right and he could buy any unhealthy, salt-stuffed, heart-clogging food he wanted. In fact, I was going to another supermarket right that minute to get him the things he had wanted in the first supermarket, things I'd talked him out of.
Of course, he then said, "No, don't do that. I don't want anything. I won't eat it."
But I drove there anyway, still, uh, fuming inside (I confess). In fact, I sat inside the car in the parking lot a few minutes and thought, "I'll show him. I'll become like that lady in our town who started walking years ago every single day, no matter how much snow and ice there is, and who now looks like a (scary), obsessed, walking skeleton. I'll start walking like that, too, and I'll get so skinny and then I'll show him!"
(Of course, a little voice in my head said I'd have better luck "showing Tom" by becoming as round as I am tall. That would be easier, knowing me as well as I do." Heh.)
But here's the part where God gets on my nerves. Nowadays, He never lets me get away with that 'I'll show them!' attitude. Even if what I'm aiming to do appears to be a good thing, whether it be losing weight or showing someone that I *am* a giving person when they accuse me of not being one or determining to clean my house so spotlessly, that neither Tom or Naomi will ever be able to make another little critical remark about it, or---
No, even though years ago I accomplished all sorts of things out of my 'I'll show them!' motivation (it was my fuel, practically), God no longer lets me get away with that. Immediately, He nails me on my wrong motives and tells me that why I'm doing something is just as important as what I am doing and that both matter.
Both matter and must stem from love, His 'fuel', and not retaliation or insecurity. My motives must come from simple obedience to Him or else my rotten, I'll-show-them motivation will nullify the whole thing.
And even though God is still getting on my nerves about all that, I know He is right.
He is always right. And oh so very wise.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
...Tom and I are having computer problems (don't ask...)
Today is our anniversary--28 years(!)--so I told him not to worry about fixing it today.
So I'll be back as soon as I can (I'm sending this from our town library)... but for now, we are off, in awhile, to have lunch and then to go see Deja Vu!
Keep checking back... I shall return!
Today is our anniversary--28 years(!)--so I told him not to worry about fixing it today.
So I'll be back as soon as I can (I'm sending this from our town library)... but for now, we are off, in awhile, to have lunch and then to go see Deja Vu!
Keep checking back... I shall return!
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
(...or any other holiday, for that matter.)
Your comments to my last post were just way too kind (but thanks!). Especially yours, Laura, when you wrote:
"I think it's wonderful (by the way) that you don't let what could be very hard on some get to your holiday spirit of creating a wonderful atmosphere - even if it's just for you."
I felt guilty reading that because for 20 years (20 years!) whenever Tom had to work on holidays, I would majorly complain. Whine. Groan inwardly and outwardly. Fume. And I'd tell Tom that power plants were *)^$@*&!@#;#! and why couldn't he have decided on a career where he'd get a simple thing like Thanksgiving or Christmas off like the rest of the world?
(There was more embarrassing griping, glaring, and crying, but I'll spare you.)
The sad, obvious thing? I only made those holidays worse for all of us by giving-in to that Supposed To Be Disease I told you about here. You know, that sickness where you go around like Scrooge whenever you don't get your way. The disease where all of your sentences begin with "It's not fair ..." and you make certain everyone you live with knows exactly how unhappy you feel.
Okay, call me slow, but it took me two decades to get over the Supposed to Be Disease and move on to the Happy Anyway Attitude.
Part of it was a choice. I can choose to sit here moping, wilting on holidays alone, imagining that all the world is gathered with their relatives having a wild, marvelous time --or--
I can be happy anyway. Happy that I know God. That I'm healthy, have a family, a sweet home, two cats, birds in the backyard, food on the table, movies to watch, books to read--
But it's more than a choice because for years I tried to be happy anyway when just Naomi and I were here waiting for Tom to get home when special days were, well, pretty much over. But the problem was this--I tried to choose to be happy while simultaneously clinging to my it's-not-fair, complaining, resentful attitude.
That's what leads to just plain struggle.
Struggle to look happy for Naomi's sake, to not dread the next, upcoming holiday which Tom would have to work. Struggle to not act like a baby when my holidays did not look like everyone else's.
Finally I let go of the complaining, sour, It's Not Supposed To Be Like This attitude. That was the key--the letting go of my demands and expectations that holidays be one way.
I've learned since, that holidays can be whatever you make them to be--and even alone they can be sweet, memorable.
But whether alone or in a crowd, always what matters is what's going on in the inside of us. The atmosphere in there will always seep out, somehow, to everyone around us.
And may that stuff which comes out, be lovely and worth sharing.
"...for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Matthew 12:34
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Well, in a way.
Thanksgiving at my house is mostly a very quiet affair. Usually Tom has to work 12 whole hours and his company provides a special dinner for whoever gets stuck working the holiday, so he nibbles at that all day and has pretty much had a Thanksgiving meal before he even drives home. And Naomi usually goes early to her boyfriend's home for a Thanksgiving meal, so both she and Carl have eaten by the time they arrive here in the evening, too.
So what does Debra go ahead and spend all those hours doing anyway? Yes, she cooks. A huge Thanksgiving meal.
Of course, I don't have to. I could just whip up a tiny something which we could all share in the evening. But then there'd be no leftovers(!) And everyone except for me would have had a nice Thanksgiving dinner.
And besides, during all those hours at home alone, I would, truthfully, miss all that cooking and my messy kitchen and the spicy, baking scents and watching Miracle on 34th Street and other Christmas movies on the little tv on top of the refrigerator while I'm baking and chopping and standing at the stove.
And this is what I would miss, too --thinking of all you kindred spirits who I've been so blessed to meet online while I'm there in my kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. I'd miss making pumpkin pies while feeling grateful that I did not go through my life feeling that I was the only person on Earth who still loved old-fashioned things best. I'd have missed the friendship you've given me here and via emails, also, and through your Christmas cards, Valentines and notes by way of my mailbox below our porch steps.
So in a way, while my fingers are dusty with flour and the turkey is roasting in the oven, I'll be seated at your table, also. For you will all--new friends and old--be very much on my mind and in my prayers and on all my lists of gratitude.
So thank-you. Truly.
Monday, November 20, 2006
It's cold and so dark again. The sun has not come out once since before Tom left on Friday.
So anyway, into the icy air, I stepped outside our door this morning, as usual, to walk to our backyard to fill the birdfeeders. While filling the first, I spied something on the ground move, so with the bag of birdseed in my hand, I stopped, still, and tried to see whatever I'd glimpsed.
It was a mouse, a darling little brown guy whose eyes looked straight up into mine. Then he stood up, shivering, with little hands clasped together as though he were begging me for the birdseed.
Oh my goodness. That tiny mouse melted my heart and made it sad. The poor, shivering thing! We stared at each other a few seconds and then, although I knew it would scare him, I reached inside the bag and scattered bird seed all over the ground for him, rather than just inside the feeders. He scampered away.
And then oh dear. I so wanted to keep pet mice again! It was his eyes, those trusting, pleading eyes that all my other mice used to have.
Though as I walked back through the frigidness, I repeated under my breath, "Just say no to mice. Just say no to mice. Just say NO to MICE!"
But oh wow, that little guy scampered away with my heart today.
I sat in church as a teenager and loved best the times we'd have foreign missionaries as guest speakers because their stories sounded so exciting and usually got me all teary-eyed. And nearly always I'd think, "When I grow-up, I want to be a missionary!"
And then on Monday I'd walk to school and I'd love every minute (it seemed) sitting in my English classes and I'd think my English teachers had the best job on Earth. I'd picture myself, older, standing up in their place and I'd dream about someday being a for-real English teacher, myself.
Then other days I'd walk up the hill to our city library and think that librarians were the luckiest people in the world to, everyday, stand and work and breathe amongst thousands and thousands of books-- and I'd long to be a librarian. And then I'd find a cozy corner there and read Emily Dickinson and dream about stuffing little stringed-together booklets of poems into my own bureaus to be found when I died, except well, I wanted to be appreciated for my poetry, like, right now. Not to mention all the other days I sat there dreaming of becoming a farmer or an author or a mother of twelve (courtesy of Cheaper By The Dozen) or a hermit.
And then I grew-up.
I became none of those things (though I did write thousands of poems, but they did not impress the world and they won't when I die, either. Trust me.) I had dreamed all those dreams, but I was young-- I had the wisdom of a cockroach.
Dreaming is good. Dreaming is wonderful. The Bible says without a vision God's people perish and well, amen to that.
But for me, the only dreams which have lived and breathed and survived their babyhood are those dreams God, Himself, placed in my heart. Not the ones I dreamed while my heart was childish and attention-hungry, more dreamy than practical, more all-about-me rather than all-about-God, and more changeable than steady.
The only time I've had problems with God's dreams for me are when I began letting my eyes rove over to what other people were doing... how glamorous their dreams appeared from the outside... or when they told me how I should tweak what God gave me to do--and I listened to them and wandered into lands of discontent and jealousy and boredom.
I could never, ever come up with a dream for myself which would be better than God's plans and ideas for me--and I'm believing a lie if I think God made a mistake with the dreams He put in my heart. If there's a mistake to be made, always, I will be the one to make it. Not Him.
The dreams God gives me happen-- when I keep pace with Him.
The dreams God gives me are exciting-- when I keep my attitude right.
The dreams God gives me are custom-made --because He knows me better than I know myself.
The dreams God gives me are do-able-- if they appear impossible, it's only because I'm looking in the wrong places for help. God would have to be pretty mean to give me a dream with NO way to see it through.
But always this will be true for me --if my passion for Him remains greater than my passion for any dreams He gives me, then the living going on inside me will always be good. Because He is good, whether I am standing with Him at the beginning or middle or at the finish line of a dream... it doesn't matter where. It will always matter most with Whom I am standing and that I love Him far, far better than any dream He gives me.
"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child..." 1 Corinthians 13:11
"He has put a new song in my mouth..." Psalm 40:3
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Way back when Naomi was around 12, I read something in a magazine. Probably it was just two paragraphs, but it made me all teary-eyed, stuck with me for years, and I often repeated it to women who complained about the messes their children made around the house.
I'll sum it up like this: A woman said she used to complain that every time she cleaned a room, her children would mess it back up. But now she'd decided to stop complaining because someday her little girl and boy would grow-up and move far away and then her rooms would be, and stay, achingly clean.
Oh good grief. The things we do to ourselves! Especially that foolish thing we do, that jumping into future places inside our minds where we have no grace to be yet.
I can't believe I went around for years repeating that story, giving it almost biblical importance. What was I thinking?
Because now, to me, it's yet just one more of those things designed to make us feel that without someone else--in this case, children--Life is empty. Sad. The good times are over. No more. Finis.
Huh! What a lie.
Here I sit over on that other side of which that woman wrote, a place where she had not yet been, but where, I assume, she is now. And in my heart I hope she's accepted that Life is always changing and becoming something different. How it becomes our responsibility to make it into something just as special as what we once knew.
I love my life over on this other side. And perhaps this story returned to my mind because I've been cleaning and my rooms look--not achingly clean--no! But rather, cozily, warmly clean. Happily and Life Is Good clean. And I love stepping down the stairs and discovering, yes! These rooms are just the way I left them. Pretty. Clean. Uncluttered.
And may I remain grateful that I realize Life is always moving, changing and I need to keep up, otherwise I may get left behind in a dark, morbid sort of place all alone.
But with God by my side in all the changes? Life is, instead, becoming quite the big, who-knows-what's-next? adventure.
Yesterday was different. Tom got home from working all night, went to bed, then I got him up a bit after noon, he got ready, then drove us, by way of the New York State thruway, to the airport so he could fly to Richmond for the weekend.
Unless it's a dire, can't-escape-it emergency, I never, ever, myself, drive behind-the-wheel over the New York State thruway. No way. Nope. Forget it.
No, when I drive people to the airport, I take my Secret Back Way. The Back Way gobbles-up lots more time, has tons more traffic lights and is more crowded with cars, yes, but! Those cars are driving slower.
Crowded traffic is one thing, but crowded, speeding-recklessly-past-you traffic is quite another. At least to me.
Besides, my Secret Back Way does have a lovely stretch of woods (though this time of year, they resemble the scary woods of The Village) and a quiet road and old houses. Always, I feel my shoulders relax when I reach that part--it also means I'm nearly home.
So yesterday there I was in those heaps of traffic, at only 1:30 in the afternoon, yet it looked and felt like 5:00 because of the clouded, dark, dark skies. I pulled off from the slow madness, into the Target parking lot and parked rather far away. Once inside, oh my, people scrambled everywhere and it felt like Christmas, but not the good part of Christmas, if you know what I mean.
I went inside only to look for the dvd version of Miracle on 34th Street (the 1947 version, but of course) because I gave away my taped version, procrastinated all year ordering the dvd, and I always watch that movie while making Thanksgiving dinner in our kitchen. I'll be alone for 12 hours on Thanksgiving Day, so while I am cooking, I like to have movie friends in the kitchen with me.
Well, Target, like everywhere else I'd look, didn't have that dvd, most likely because a new version is set to be released next week. So in the midst of all the noise, lots of it happy noise, thankfully, I decided to stop searching store shelves for it and just order it online. Which is what I should have done in the first place. But I did find some plastic sleeves for those binders I'm always making and telling you about.
Then I walked back out into the dark afternoon and continued driving home, except that I didn't go home, I drove, instead, twenty minutes later, to our (also-crowded) town library (was there no school yesterday?) where hooray! I found a tape of Miracle on 34th Street, as well as another Christmas movie and various old tv series dvd's. While Tom is away, I will major-ly clean our house, tearing it apart in that clean-it-deep-down way, and these shows will help to pass the time pleasantly.
It's good for me to get out into the Real World like that.
To be reminded of what it's like and who's all out there. I even, as I drove along, had a debate with myself as to what the Real World actually is. Is it my (or your) daily version of Life that makes up our own Real World? Or is the Real World a huge combination of everything, good, bad, and ugly which is taking place all over the planet? Or are they both the same? I never did decide.
So this weekend I'll clean my house in case Tom arrives back home all antsy to sell our house and move to Virginia. Or maybe just because it needs to be cleaned anyway or because this is the only project I can think of while Tom's away.
But it's a good one.
I may even paint a couple walls which need touching-up. All I know is that I'm looking forward to scrubbing this old place which I've called home for 13 mostly-wonderful years. It's the least I can do to show my thanks.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Every once in a blue moon I like to throw in a practical post. We'll see if this post qualifies.
Here are a few ideas I use to stay organized and save time.
I love my Yahoo calendar! It's the easiest thing in the world to add to it so that it will send me email reminders when Tom or I have appointments or when I want to remember birthdays or certain tv programs, etc. I can program the emails to repeat every week or month or once a year, etc. I programmed my calendar to tell me to pay our bills every two weeks--what a money-saver that's been! I've also programmed it to tell me to snail mail birthday cards enough days ahead so they'll arrive on time. I love my Yahoo calendar, especially because it is free.
When possible, I tape tv shows and then fast-forward through the commercials and thus save time while watching them. Those of you who are blessed to have DVR's or TiVo can turn all that into an art form. (We used to have a DVR.... ahhh, those were the days).
Years ago I put together a master list of tasks I should do daily and each day of the week. Not a minute-by-minute list (those are guaranteed to fail because Life's not like that). But rather, a list with five or six daily tasks which, if I accomplish each day, my week will run more smoothly. If it's been a crazy week, I can then look at the list at week's end and catch up on what I missed. It took a few weeks to come up with a list which worked for me, but it was worth it.
I exercise while watching tv, thus "killing two birds with one stone." This goes for ironing and cooking and washing dishes, too.
I stock up on non-perishables in the autumn so to avoid later risking my life in a snowstorm all for a can of olives. This also saves me from shopping around the holidays while stores are crowded. Also, year-around I shop early in the mornings to beat the crowds and thus get out of the supermarket faster.
I do the majority of my Christmas shopping online from the quiet and comfort of my home. I also always buy my postage stamps online and it's online where I spend my monthly allowance, as well. How wonderful to save time and energy and gas money and my nerves, too!
I also renew my library books online if I'm not going to be able to drive down to the library that day or week. I almost never have to pay fines like I used to in the old days.
I don't just buy a little bit of gas for our car at a time--I buy a lot so that I'm not turning around and going back there in a few days.
I put together my own cookbook of easy recipes and lists of meals. Into that binder, I inserted the lists and recipes into plastic sleeves so they can be cleaned. Also in that notebook I keep information like helpful household hints, phone numbers for house repair people, and a list of holidays with notes about which ones mean no mail, no school, no trash pick-up or if the town library will be closed.
I keep all my stationery supplies together in a box so that everything--paper, cards, stickers, address book and stamps--is together and accessible. I also keep my stapler, scissors and scotch tape on my desk, all in one place.
On our refrigerator I keep a piece of paper where we write down any items we've run out of. I then take this paper to the supermarket with me to use as a list. (I keep markers in a little magnetized box on the side of the fridge--markers work better than regular pens when writing horizontally.)
I typed-up a list of the items I buy in our supermarket in their aisle-order and I keep it in my purse. That way, I can refer to it (whether or not I've remembered to bring my refrigerator list) so that I won't forget anything.
I straighten the house each morning, that way it never gets out of control. That may sound like a lot, but really, it's not when it's done every day.
I get up at least an hour (or two) before Tom does so I can have my quiet time, drink coffee, read and wake up slowly and calmly and quietly. I can't even tell you what those extra quiet hours do for me!
Saturday, November 11, 2006
What an amazing week at Ebay. I won 6 vintage aprons for, postage included, just $8.
One is even a Christmas apron, of which I had none in my collection, and well, I'm actually feeling Christmas-y this year. Usually I lean more toward being a humbug, though always, I love Christmas movies and books. But already I bought festive plates for Christmas dinner over at Dollar Tree and a vintage Christmas tablecloth at a junk shop I walked to down the street. Total for all? $6.
Big spender, I know.
My other incredible Ebay auction win? A bunch of hard cover Anne Emery books, including two of the Dinny Gordon's I didn't have. Yes, a whole box of lovely old 1960's (mostly) Anne Emerys for only, postage included, $31. I drove around the Net this morning and priced what I would have paid had I bought them all separately and came up with a very conservative price of $133 after shipping.
Can you see me happy dancing?
More? Remember how I told you I've always loved the show, The Waltons, since it first aired while I was in Jr. High? And remember how I told you that Tom's always looking at power plant jobs in other states? Well, this week he was offered a job in Richmond, Virginia.
Oh my. Now there is a state I would move to! And just think--I could finally visit the mecca for all us Waltonites-- Schuyler, the homeland of the real Walton family-- the Hamners.
Tom and I sat together at the computer and looked at real estate in Richmond's suburbs and it was actually sane price-wise, especially considering that their taxes, compared to ours here are nearly non-existent. And there were many houses I liked.
Tom's considering flying down there next week to check everything out, but hey, nothing is written in concrete yet, so please don't start picturing us moving there. As I mentioned before, we go through this sort of thing often--Tom's veins having been infused with gypsy blood.
So now I just need to get it out of my head that the areas around Richmond will look exactly as they were portrayed in The Waltons, because of course, a lot changes in 70 years.
But then, as in my area here, much can remain the same, also.
P.S. Linda K.... Could you please email me at GladOne4@yahoo.com? Thanks.
And Elizabeth--I had been a bit worried about you and I was so glad to see your comment and to hear it had been your computer with the problem, and not you. :)
Friday, November 10, 2006
(Because I know you are just dying to know where I stand...)
"Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God..." Psalm 146:5
I have been smiling a lot since Tuesday, Election Day.
"Because your favorite political party did well?", you ask?
No, I've been smiling because I've heard many people say that now they have hope that things will change. Our Country will change. For the better. "Happy days are here again" appears to be the song sung across our land.
And that's what makes me not only smile, but laugh, as well.
Because, as for me and my house, we will not put our hope in any political party.
We will put our hope in God.
And according to His Word, things are right on schedule. Things are going just as He said they would long, long ago. The plan, His plan, is being carried out right before our eyes.
My hope is in God. And that is why I am happy and am singing songs of my own. God is not, while sitting up in Heaven, worried out of His skull about how things are going on Earth. And well, I refuse to sit down here and worry about that, too.
And it is well with my soul, even though it is far from well out there in this big old, tired world.
"Why do the nations assemble with commotion, and why do the people imagine an empty scheme?
The kings of the earth take their places; the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and His Anointed One. They say, Let us break their bands asunder and cast Their cords from us.
He Who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision [and in supreme contempt He mocks them]." Psalm 2:1-4
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
It saddens me when people become discouraged because they can't help tons of people, as though with God it's all about a numbers game.
The way I see it, He's more into obedience.
He knows what I'm able to do with His help and what I, as well, cannot do, given my circumstances, talents, abilities, disabilities or callings. In fact, He's had a plan for me since even before I was born.
And it blows my mind that any day of any week I can, just from my own home, use my online credit card and spend part of my allowance on a gift for a friend, even someone I've never met before. It amazes me that it's only in giving that I receive and that I can have Christmas all year 'round!
It's remarkable that I can listen while people speak to me (or read what they write in their blog) and then buy or make them something they mentioned, in passing, that they would like. Even if it's something I already own, but I know they would enjoy it, also.
And it blows my mind when God tells me to walk down to the crowded, dilapidated junk shop nearby and buy a little something from the guy who runs it, just to help keep him in business. What a fun errand!
It delights me that 6 days of the week I can mail a paper greeting card to anyone nearly anywhere, a card to encourage them, wish them healing or birthday blessings or just remind them that they are loved by me, but more importantly, by God, Himself.
It amazes me that any hour of the day I can leave comments with encouraging words on peoples' blogs or send email which might lend comfort. It boggles my mind that I can contact people so very far away.
It amazes me that giving to others makes me so darn happy!
And it delights and amazes me that all of these things please God and bless and delight His heart, also. That He can tell me when, where and how to bless others and that He ends up getting the credit because the timing was simply too perfect for just me to have figured it out on my own.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
... or almost every day.
In over two years I don't believe I've ever shared a recipe here in my blog, so I guess it's time for one.
This is a fruit dessert I make for Tom and myself and it's pretty low in everything (as in stuff that's bad for you). And also, it's one of those recipes which doesn't have any exact measurements--you just make it up as you go along.
So bear with me.
This is what I do (it will make two large servings or four small ones).
1/2 bag frozen fruit (app. 1 1/2 c.)... or 4 or 5 apples, peeled and sliced
2 or 3 tbl. lemon juice
1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. uncooked oatmeal
1 tbl. brown sugar
cinnamon, ginger... about 1/2 tsp. each
powdered cloves... about 1/8 tsp.
1 or 2 tbl. lemon juice
1 tbl. oil
Place the frozen fruit in a microwave-safe bowl and add 2 or 3 tbl. of lemon juice (if using apples, add a little cinnamon, too)
Place uncovered in microwave for three minutes on high (2 minutes if using apples).
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix flour, oatmeal, spices, lemon juice and oil. Topping shouldn't be too moist and it's ok if parts are still pretty dry.
Remove fruit from microwave and add topping, pressing gently into the fruit with a fork, so any dry pieces of topping will moisten while cooking.
Microwave on high for three minutes. Let cool.
That's about it. Not everyone will like this, but we do. And besides, it's super fast, easy, is a good way to eat fruit, and it won't kill you.
Which reminds me, I just finished one of the most delightful books I'd read in a long time. It's called The Country Kitchen by Della T. Lutes, published in 1936.
It's an old book full of kitchen essays and stories about the author's life when she was a child in the 1880's. Such a funny and warm-hearted book--I hated to finish it this morning. Fortunately, there's a sequel which I ordered yesterday.
You can read about The Country Kitchen here. Be sure to scroll down to the raving reviews.
You'll find some copies there at Amazon beginning at around $5, or here for even less.
This week each early morning I could barely wait to make my coffee and rush upstairs to read, yet again, another fun chapter. Her father, though, was often fiesty and selfish (though he could be funny at times). I just chalked it all up to lessons of how not to be and how not to treat others.
Those are vital lessons, also.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
"I tried to help you, Ruthie. The problem is, you spend too much time looking out of windows."
.... from the film, Housekeeping
Oh, but I prefer window lessons. They have changed me.
My windows are like classroom blackboards and it's God's fingers that write my lessons across them on mornings while the sun rises or afternoons when people and their dogs walk past. It's during the window silences when He whispers how much I am loved and the ways I should go.
It's in the window silences there with my coffee and books that He teaches me, gives me my flight plan for the journeys we will take this day, whether I should go out or stay in, for only He knows when and where I--where He-- will be needed most.
God knows, as in one Tuesday morning years ago when I'd planned to go shopping, but He told me to stay home instead, so I did. And then a woman from church called me from the bathroom where she worked, saying she was being so tempted to commit suicide and didn't know how to handle that temptation.
Had I skipped my window lesson or ignored what I'd heard, I would have been gone when she called.
I so need window lessons.
Our hearts break in different places and mine breaks for people who are afraid of silence, those who fear that God will only lecture them, frown and tell them of His extreme disappointment.
But it's during my window lessons where I hear God's whispers, thoughts of one who loves me more than anyone else ever had. The One who convicts, but doesn't condemn. The One who , with His finger, scribbles Hope!, Hope! all over my windows in huge, brilliant letters.
The One who loves simply to sit with me there at the window, sharing Himself with me, both of us wrapped in joy which clings, even later, when we step out the door to walk amongst a world of broken hearts.
"...in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for evermore." Psalm 16:11
Friday, November 03, 2006
There are reasons why I am running this post again after nearly two years...
Already, it's an amazing morning because of Kelly's amazing post, simply called rest. I so wish I could have attended her silent prayer retreat this weekend. Probably, though, I would have disappeared after meeting everyone, sneaking away to hike around the pastures with God. I love open spaces and there are none in my town, well, except for baseball fields.
You see, I became a Christian in a church where immediately afterward, you are told to go out and tell everyone all about Jesus. I laugh about that now because it's like instructing a newborn baby to return to the nursery and tell the other babies everything about her parents. What is there to tell? She only just met them.
So I became a Christian and spent years feeling guilty because I wasn't going "to the work, to the work," (as the song says). I didn't know what to say to people because I didn't know Jesus--not really. I had never taken the time to become friends with Him. So I felt guilty. And because I felt guilty, I wasn't happy. And because I wasn't happy, I thought I was a defective Christian. Life felt bleak at times and still, I didn't understand why.
Then ten years ago I began doing what Kelly tells about in her blog (this post, also). She tells it all better than I ever could, so please, go there and read, too.
Basically, around 1994 I said phooey on all this guilt and brittle,conditional happiness. And I started "wasting time" with God.
I sat with Him every spare moment I could find (or make). I stopped doing all the talking and I let God talk to me. And that has made all the difference. I'd get out my Bible and let God explain things to me, instead of trying to figure them out myself. I'd sit and look out the window and dream, and slowly, I began to feel new life, new creativity flowing into what had been dry, parched places.
After days and weeks and months, guilt was replaced with peace. And joy. And somewhere along the way I noticed while on my neighborhood walks, Jesus' steps were matching mine. He had come along with me. I would come home and watch TV and feel Him sitting beside me. (I would tell you about the times in 1995 when I'd get into my car and clear junk off the passenger seat so Jesus could sit there, except that you'd think I was crazy.)
But at least I am happy now. At least I have a friend who never disappoints me. One who's always here, too.
Knowing about God and knowing God for yourself--they are different. There is a time when the Bridegroom gets tired of sitting and watching the Bride run around working, working, working. There comes a time when He wants her to sit down and just be with Him. To know Him intimately.
Thanks, Kelly, for reminding us.
Be still, and know that I am God... Psalm 46:10
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Went and had my teeth cleaned this morning.
Two words come to mind: Horrible Nightmare.
Sadly, I inherited problem teeth. When the hygienist, during my last cleaning 6 months ago, told me my teeth and gums looked great, well, I nearly fainted. No one in the dental profession had ever said such words to me. Must have been the fact that I've faithfully, daily been taking 2,000 mg.'s of vitamin C, I thought.
Well, Vitamin C performed no miracles for me these past 6 months. Three of my teeth had chipped and I knew trouble would be mine my next dental 'visit' (a word with way too much of a positive spin on it). I drove into the parking lot and saw not a single other car there this morning and oh! I wished with all my heart there'd be a note on the door saying, "Doctor ____ had an emergency. Call us later for an appointment."
No such luck. No such note.
My so-called 'visit' was bad. Really bad.
But it was funny, also. I mean, yesterday I received an email 'forward' from a friend, where you answer questions about yourself. One of the questions was, "Name four places you would rather be right now."
And well, yesterday? I couldn't think of one single place. I thought only how much I love living where I do inside this house which always needs work of some kind.
But today in that dentist's chair, while the hygienist filed and sawed, poked and jammed her fingers around in my mouth, well, suddenly I could think of 4,000 places I'd rather be!
Hawaii, Prince Edward Island, Disney World, New England. Endless places like those.
But as more of the sawing, filing and jamming (and lecturing) went on, other places came to mind. Suddenly I thought, hey! This is so bad that I'd rather even be in a blessed traffic jam right now or in a supermarket line so long I'd question whether I'd ever get home. Or hey, in a nice, sweltering heat wave with no air-conditioning for miles around.
But oh well, I made it out alive (just barely), even after the extra x-rays she forced me to have so she could show them to the dentist (who was on vacation. Probably in Hawaii.) He'll call me if there's a problem.
(I know the hygienist thinks he'll be calling me the minute he gets back.)
But now it's later and I've had some nice coffee and tater tots (the ultimate comfort food) and I can think straight. In fact, I can remind myself there are people who'dbe thrilled if their only medical problem was annoying, chipping teeth. There are folks in doctor's offices and even on operating tables right this moment who would consider me the most blessed person alive.
I would have to agree with them.
And may I be wise enough to keep all these things in their correct perspective.