Friday, March 30, 2007

Away From The Shores of Mommy Land



I remember which year certain things happened by how old Naomi was at the time. 

I believe she was 19 when I drove home from church one afternoon, thinking about the young moms I'd just watched. They'd seemed a happy kind of tired and seemingly oblivious to everything except for their children, diapers, playgroups and laundry. I'd remembered my own years like those, though with only one child, I never seemed too lost and preoccupied in deep, foggy Mommy Land. 

Perhaps just the first two years, then here and there afterward.

But mostly I've always been a thinker, a dreamer and a watcher of people peopling my little world. And organized, too, freeingly able to think, usually too much and sometimes I'd purposely get up late, set aside my organized ways, and just do everything the hard way--simply to use up time so I wouldn't have all that time to think. Oh my.

Driving down the street that day while remembering those busy, happily-harried mothers, I recall thinking, "Just wait. Someday they'll have time to think. Some year their days will not be all laid out ahead of time for them with feeding babies, driving children to school and hurriedly running errands so that they can put the babies down for naps, clean house and make dinner before their husbands arrive home.

Someday, like me, they'd know days and hours on their hands to think about who they have become--or not. Where they have been, or not, where they are going, or not. And what it all means.

Except, I know how it often goes. Often the women left behind in empty nests look around them, then panic. 

The Silence haunts them and so do the questions they never had the time or energy to ponder before. And so, instead of facing those echoless walls and growing into someone not defined by their children or motherhood--they return to school. Or to work or they find other ways to surround themselves by crowds and noise so they can continue to evade the questions. And escape that Silence.

No, not every woman does that. But some do. I have watched them.

I guess my only point is there is something amazing waiting for those who face the questions and the Silence with courage. Those who will not back down, cower, on the days when God's voice seems less than a whisper, but instead, will just press-in a little closer to hear Him better.

It's there where He answers those nagging questions. In Him. It's there where silence becomes a friend, a comrade-- not a feared enemy. It's there where a woman finds who she really is outside of Mommy Land and that there are whole incredible lands across the sea left to discover--

--if she will release her hold and go sailing in lands not yet traveled.


******


Note: I'm not saying jobs and schooling aren't good things. They are good when they're given as direction during the Silence and not used as avoidance of it.

Just a clarification.

******


"...in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength..." ... Isaiah 30:15

A Question, A Delight and Stretching My Faith



Weeks ago I peeked outside to see if the yellow flag on our mailbox had been pushed down by the mailman, signaling the mail had arrived. But no, the flag was still up. I thought, "Oh well. It's not like I'm expecting anything good anyway."

Immediately I sensed the Holy Spirit asking, "Did you just say you're not expecting anything good? Where's the faith and expectancy in that attitude?"

Ouch! He was so right. He'd caught me again believing for nothing much and receiving just that. 

But since I began believing for serendipitous things inside my mailbox?It's incredible what I've discovered in there. More sweet snail mail, tiny gifts and surprises than I've received in the past year, total(!)

And then last week I sat at the river in another gloomy cloud bank and told God, "Oh, I'd be thrilled if the sun came out for at least ten minutes today." Then right away I caught myself, remembered the mailbox incident, and stretched my faith a bit. "No, I mean a half-hour of sunlight would be great."

And then I 'heard' the Holy Spirit say, "A half-hour? A half-hour? That's the most you can stretch your faith?"

Heh. He got me there again. Using piddly faith. 

Oh, I want more than just piddly faith! I desire to stretch my faith to believe for all which God can provide. And personally, if I can't believe God for the small things, it's gonna be rough, indeed, believing Him for the big, emergency stuff, also.

Now of course, I must write this, sadly, with disclaimers-- 

Of course, I'm not trying to get God to control the weather just for me, according to the way I want it. Nor am I attempting to control how often people send me things in the mail just for the sake of getting stuff.

Uh, no. 

I'm simply saying that, lately, God's reminding me He's a whole lot bigger than I realize. And my faith should be a reflection of that fact.

Let's keep it simple, ok?



*****


"...you have not because you ask not..." ...James 4:2

"...According to your faith be it unto you..." ... Matthew 9:29


******

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Journeys We Take


I can almost guarantee you've never read this book: My Little Journey by June Strong.

While we lived in Nevada, I found a beat-up hardback copy of her other book, Journal of a Happy Woman, and read it, mostly summers, for the next ten years. It's a book describing a year from June's life of raising her 6 children (when her days were all laid out for her in advance), on a piece of countryside very near where I live now. (How serendipitous to move here from Nevada and find June almost next door! I have since seen her house from the road.) 

That book is cozy, farm-like, and details the joy in small things in June's Christian family.

And then, years later, there was My Little Journey.

At 49, most of June's children had by now either moved away or were finishing high school and June was experiencing the lovely time we women know as The Throes of Pre-menopause. You know, when your body shakes you and your mind feels snappish. And Life As You've Known It is shifting like sand at the ocean's edge. Also known as a Mid-Life Crisis.

So for one week, June took a journey alone, something very uncharacteristic for her. With her family's (confused) blessing, she flew to Portland, Maine, spent one week hiking down the coast along Highway 1, alone. At 49. And she recorded how she felt, whom she met, her conversations with others and with God, and her insights gained while hiking beside sea towns.

I love this book. In fact, I first read it while in my own little Throes of Pre-menopause, times when I'd feel Life was incredible on Tuesday, but by Wednesday, I'd be sitting, huddled, in my bedroom with the curtains drawn shut, wanting all people everywhere to just Leave Me Alone.

Some of you know exactly what I mean.

After reading about June's journey? I toyed with traveling ideas of my own. Maybe I'd take a bus, not to a faraway place, but over to East Aurora, NY. Tom and I had visited there a couple times and it's such a cute old town, the place where Fisher Price Toys began and so they have the niftiest Fisher Price Toy Museum there. There's also a huge old-fashioned 5-and-Dime store with a maze of tiny shops upon hundred-year-old wooden floors. And much more to make you feel you've arrived by way of a time travel machine set for 1940.

And maybe someday I'll take a trip like that. 

But I think I've already, at 48, found what June discovered on her little journey. That, when your Life changes, you must change alongside it. You must change your mind, attitude and some ways you've always done things. You have to walk a whole new path to a new place

But leaving the old path--that's rough. Like walking on water. But when you discover the right new path? You'll know it by its remarkable sense of peace, one nobody can snatch away. 

Something else June discovered--you have to carve out time each day to seek God on this new journey. Come apart with Him or else you'll come apart at your seams. (Yikes.) Pause to see that we're matching our steps to His.

Joy and Peace in our new journey! They're available as long as we're following the One who knows best how to lead us.



******

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spring Lessons


"The time of the singing of birds is ..... here!"


******

For four days we've had gorgeous, Spring-like temperatures and Lennon, The Cat, and I have lounged on our front porch and watched our neighbors burst from the doors of their winter quarters and celebrate these 50 and 60 degree temperatures. Remember how I told you someone in our supermarket whistled the themes from old tv series one morning? Well, two days ago, our neighbor began whistling the song from Gilligan's Island. Honest. 

Must be something in our water.

Usually this time of year, I sit on our wicker chair and spy on our neighbors while they clear the winter debris and work hard--sweat-- in their yards, like, 4 to 8 hours in a single day. I go inside, occasionally peek out the windows, and yes, hour after hour, they're still there. Working hard.

That's not the way ol' Debra works, though. No, she's an "inch-by-inch-anything's-a-cinch" worker. She works a little, rests a little, reads a little, drinks a little lemonade. Works a little, rests a little, reads a little, drinks a little lemonade...

On Sunday evening, I wiped down our front porch and vacuumed the rug. Probably took me a half hour, or so. Yesterday, I sat on the lawn and began clearing away our yard's brown autumn leaves and twigs from the flower beds--in two half-hour shifts. And even though our front yard is the size of an average pick-up truck--still--it will probably take me a week to finish the clearing away. Then I'll move on to the side yards, then the back. 

My other favorite saying is, "Slow and steady wins the race." Emphasis on slow. And steady.

And you know? Probably while I peer across the street and think my neighbors do their yard work the difficult way, they're most likely peeking over here and thinking I do everything the lazy way.

And yet, both ways, it all gets done. Year after year and Spring after Spring.

And isn't that what matters most? That, and not forming critical opinions when people do things differently?

I believe so, anyway.



******

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

When You Walk In a Different Lane




It used to bother me that I appear to be walking on a different track than everybody I know. The slow, out-of-it, what-planet-are-you-from? track--that's where I stroll.

I run into acquaintances and they'll list for me the books they're reading. You know, ones with titles like, "Understanding God From A-Z," or, "How To Pray in 50 Easy Steps," or, "Becoming the Ultra-Spiritual Person You've Always Longed To Be." (Okay, okay. I'm exaggerating. A little.)

But me? Usually I'm reading Rosamond du Jardin's, "Boy Trouble," or Betty MacDonald's, "Onions In The Stew," or Peter Mayle's, "Toujours Provence." So I switch the subject fast before being asked what I'm reading. I'm no fool. I know my books will bring only blank stares (Rosamond who?) or pity glances.

So then the other person describes the complete sets of teaching tapes they bought from three different Christian teachers (all names unknown to me) and the stuff, in detail, they're learning, while I stand there wondering if I should mention my current favorite teacher is still the one I began listening to 13 years ago. But knowing better, I switch subjects again.

We move onto how he/she is so excited because their children are all missionaries now and their church is growing out of its building and saving the world and holding meetings every night of the week.

And when they pause for a breath, that's when I say, "I have a blog." Usually, that kills the conversation.

Heh. I'm usually ready to go home anyway.  γ‚Έ

But you know? Anymore, I just don't care. Oh, I'm happy for those who lead exciting lives, but I no longer mind feeling awkward explaining what God does through me--or feeling that I should just keep quiet. Because these days I'm happier and more at peace than I ever was during the years I tried to keep-up, those years when being a Christian felt like one endless Boston Marathon.

My days I just try to obey God and go where He leads, even if that means I stay home a lot and send my messages to the world from either a keyboard or a pen on slips of paper in colored envelopes.

If that's what God has for me, then there is nothing greater or more noble that I could be doing. 

I could try a bunch of forced stuff to make myself feel more useful, but I'd just be wasting energy and God's time. There is nothing greater for me than simple, everyday obedience to this lover of my soul.

And there's nothing more fulfilling, fun and joyful, either, even when it appears to others that I'm running the track alone.



******

Monday, March 26, 2007

Don't Have It? Make It!




At 13, I'd carry my mom's House Beautiful magazines into my bedroom, flip through the pages of highly-decorated, highly-priced living rooms, and then start rearranging my furniture. 

If a page showed a couch beneath a window, I'd shove my bed under my own. If a bear skin rug angled in front of the couch, I'd place my own rag rug in front of my bed and my desk chair would go beside my door where the posh, gold tufted chair stood in the magazine room. 

And then stepping back--in my imagination--my bedroom now resembled those sumptuous rooms from the magazines.

I had one awesome imagination back then.

I'm thinking you have to cling to your imagination or else it seeps away by drops as you age. Because all these years since, I've heard tons of people put-off until tomorrow what they could have had or experienced today.

People by the carload tell me: "Someday, when we can afford it, we're going to have a nice house. This one we live in now is a dump and isn't worth fixing-up."

--or--

"They just don't play great music on the radio like they used to and clothes today aren't as nice as they were when I was growing-up.Women don't wear aprons anymore and house architecture isn't what it once was and people just aren't what they were, either. The good old days are gone."

My whole life, I've tried to keep from rolling my eyes and shaking my head (or the whiners) when I hear others speaking like that.

Why? Because nearly always--with an imagination--you can create, find, discover or buy what you're missing,wanting or needing.

You can paint a room in a whole different color (or barter the job), rearrange your furniture in a whole other way and have what feels like an entire new space by next weekend.

You can order the music you love on cd's or listen to it on Sirius-type stations. If you think you can't afford satellite radio or tv (for all those old movies and tv series you miss, too), perhaps you can cut back in other areas which aren't nearly as pleasing to you. Or borrow cd's/dvd's from your town library or ask for subscriptions for your birthday or Christmas or trade music and dvd's with friends.

Thrift shops, yard sales sell vintage clothing as does Ebay. If no one else is wearing aprons, wear them anyway--and search online for others who still wear them, also. 

Make some vintage friends while you're at all this.

Search for good news instead of bad, take free classes online and if your kids have all moved away and left you without grandkids? Become a Big Sister or Brother or befriend a neighborhood child. 

Well, don't get me started. 

We are not helpless. Usually what we are is overwhelmed by our paralyzing, it-must-be-done-one-certain-way thoughts. 

If God lives inside us, always there is something we can change. He has better, customized ways of doing, seeing and being. What an imagination He has! And what matters to me is that I listen, everyday, for the new, creative thing He has in mind for me to try or do or imagine.


******


Proverbs 29:18... "Where there is no vision, the people perish..."

"Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."
Chinese Proverb

Friday, March 23, 2007

For The Too Serious Amongst Us




"Be anxious for nothing..."

***

Back in the 90's I knew someone at church who was most usually, well, --serious. Very serious. 

We worked together on a couple projects and he was critical of himself, and thus, very critical of everyone else (that's usually how it goes). He even opposed great joy in church. Crying was ok, but not laughing. Oh my, no, not joy. And everything was a Great Big Deal, all mistakes--his and other peoples'--were, he felt, likely to end Life As We Know It.

I have known too many Christians like that. 

Worse--I've too often been a Christian like that. Fortunately, though, that lady got left in the dust after an awakening, though once in a blue moon she tries to resurrect herself out of said dust.

Anyway. I'd like to recommend a book which might be of help to any of you who, well, need to relax your white-knuckled grip on everyone.

Is it a thick, many-chaptered, theological, you'd-better-straighten-up book which you'll find down at your local Christian bookstore?

Uh, no. It's a humorous old book called Mrs. Appleyard's Year.

Mrs. Appleyard, an empty-nester, will tickle even the most serious of you until she makes you smile or break out with a rusty laugh. She'll show you that admitting your faults can be fun, even freeing, and help you find the lighter, more balanced side of your daily grind. 

And you'll see that, often, we can be so dreadfully serious that people avoid us, lest they catch our crankiness. Which, incidentally, is the exact opposite of this whole biblical idea of Christiandom.

To give you a taste of Mrs. Appleyard's Year, I'll include a few favorite lines --

"As such, she has certain virtues. Mrs. Appleyard uses the brakes on her car instead of the horn. She enjoys praise, but she knows that most praise implies surprise, so if she gets any she is grateful but calm..."

"'I like you as you are,'" Mr. Appleyard added staunchly. The nicest thing about Mrs. Appleyard is Mr. Appleyard."

And about family picnics with her husband and four children:

"...This is the most comfortable kind of picnic--if no one has forgotten the plates. There is something unappetizing about creamed chicken served on a shingle... ... The young Appleyards prefer a place where the easiest way to get into the pool is to be lowered from the falls on a rope.

How did Mrs. Appleyard get involved with these people anyway? Of course, as Sally once said: "Poor Mother, you're not an Appleyard--you're only related to us by marriage!"

A patch of shade is always provided where Mrs. Appleyard can read a good book and not know too much about what is going on... She is happy that she has reached an age when she does not have to pretend to like things she does not like. Mrs. Appleyard admires horses--in color prints. She likes skiing in movies and water in a glass... The voice of a brook running by night is good to sleep by. Mrs. Appleyard wishes no closer contact. She knows how she looks in a bathing suit, for one thing..."


I hope you, also, will meet Mrs. Appleyard. And may she help all of us lighten up a bit.


******

"There is a time for everything....a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance..." from Ecclesiastes 3


******


For another explanation of what I'm trying to say, here's another post I wrote about it back in 2005.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Thinking In Pieces




Sometimes (ok, often) I'll look at my email box(es), see all the emails needing to be answered and then I'll sigh, get up from my chair and go wash the dishes. Or read a book.

Basically, I just run away.

We all have different reactions to feeling overwhelmed--most commonly I procrastinate so long that I start believing I actually finished what needed to be done. Which means, of course, that later I'll find myself even more overwhelmed and farther behind-- and apologizing a lot.

How much better to think baby steps,small bites. 

To view tasks in pieces, rather than allowing the whole huge project/chore to spiral me into a zombie state. Too often that "all or nothing" mentality or believing there's only one certain way to do anything has messed me up, bigtime.

Yet, slowly, I'm learning. Whenever I paint a room, I think only one wall at a time. I can handle one wall. And often after I've painted that wall I feel ready to paint one more. It's when I pressure myself to paint the whole darn room in one day that I get into trouble and procrastinate even buying the paint. Then find two years have vanished since I first considered painting in the first place. 

(You think I'm kidding?)

Pieces of the pie--I need to see more of what needs to be done as pieces of a pie. I can handle one piece at a time--

one email, 
one wall painted, 
one flower bed prepared. Planted,
one letter,
one Facebook post,
one comment answered, 
one load of laundry.

No sweat.


******

Of course, we don't have this option on every single task in Life, but it's amazing how often we do. Trust me--I've noticed.


******

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Of Birthday Memories



Yesterday, my birthday, was one of those dark, mysterious days where the tall, bare trees remind you of forks piercing the sky and every house and building and lawn looks grey, grey, grey. 

But at least it didn't snow until we arrived home from our festivities.

Tom and I ate lunch at my favorite Chinese buffet, one surrounded with large windows (more greyness outside), but the music inside was lovely and stretched and continued the mood from the movie we had just watched at the theater down the street.

For we'd seen Sandra Bullock's new film, Premonition. Personally, I loved it, every slow minute of it. I mean, I wonder about these movie reviewers. Do they consume so much caffeine that their brains are always operating in fast-forward and so any normal-paced movie not an all-out thriller or one splashed with waves of car chases feels slow to them?

Premonition reminded me of the black-and-white movies of the old days, ones you didn't just watch for the plot, but for the scenery and clothing and handsome cars and faces. The interior of the house in Premonition charmed me. The house was a rambling 1920's one like those I walk past on the street next to ours everyday, only larger. I loved its wallpaper and fireplace and during other slower moments, I even enjoyed studying Sandra's face--what eyes and cheekbones that woman has! (Whatever happened to just savoring a film and its characters? Has that become a lost art to everyone except myself?)

Anyway, as my favorite reviewer said (in different words, skip the spoilers), Premonition is a great movie about family love, but it's not a movie for families. 

I agree. But if you are all grown up (and promise not to repeat the naughty words), and if you liked the movies, Deja Vu, Groundhog Day and Frequency, most likely, you'd enjoy this film. In parts, yes, it's scary, but for me, it never crossed over into becoming a horror film. At one point, though, I heard a husband behind us comforting his wife with, "It's just a movie." I smiled and thought, "Hey, that's my line."  γ‚·

And then to top-off this grey, mysterious day, Naomi and her boyfriend came over in the evening with gifts and dessert and perhaps I appreciated all that I'd been given even more because of the places my thoughts had traveled earlier after seeing Premonition. Who knows?

And I do thank each of you so very much for your birthday wishes! How lovely to return home and find all of you here in some way, your comments and ecards and emails were appreciated far more than you know. Thanks for adding delight to my day!


******

Friday, March 16, 2007

Another Birthday Already?


So, like, guess whose birthday is today? Yes, mine. ッ

One thing is good--I only feel older on Naomi's birthdays, not mine, and hers was back in January, so today I'll be ok. heh.

Tom actually gets this momentous day off! We'll probably go out for lunch and a movie and I'll try to pretend it's a warm, sunny day like the woman in this painting is having.


***

A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip. ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Depression? Or a New Season?



So there I was in our dark little house in a California mountain town in 1986 feeling something new. New, but not good. 

I awoke one morning no longer feeling like reading the books I'd always loved or thumbing through the magazines which had always inspired me (BORing). I didn't want to work on crafts, paint rooms or take any walks--all things I'd previously loved.

Nowadays, nearly everyone has heard that those can be signs of depression. And I agree. When I noticed myself no longer enjoying what had once almost defined me, that's right about the same time that my years of depression began.

For me, that depression didn't stem from a chemical imbalance, but rather, an attitude imbalance. All sorts of old ideas, wrong beliefs, expectations and disappointments spun, lopsided, inside my head like a cataclysmic tornado. Or something. I had no idea what was happening, so basically blamed all else except for myself (and rather than seeking change).

Anyway, this post isn't really about that.

It's about this other thing--this thing of strangely no longer enjoying what, once, could barely wait to do. Like I said, I agree that it can be a sign of depression or of--

--finally spiraling because of your out-of-alignment thinking
--eating the wrong foods for your particular body (trying to live off of processed sugar, caffeine and animal fat, for example, especially when you're as old as I am. Take my word for that one.)
--not getting enough sleep, exercise, good air or good friends. It's amazing how much a bit of online research can help regarding depression symptoms (especially if you actually use the advice you find). And a trip to a good holistic doctor, of course.

So there is that. But there's something else. 

There are times when, suddenly, I no longer feel like doing those things which I absolutely loved doing only last year--or last month. Some hobby, some favorite movie, book or song genre, some specific part of my whole identity-- suddenly will feel like only a memory. A pleasant memory, but something removed from whom I am presently. 

Whatever, I find myself no longer even caring much about it.

But now in my late 40's? I've learned not to panic when that happens. I've seen it's more like shedding an old skin, a leaving behind of what I once was so to make room for what I have become.

In other words, it's become, for me, a sign that I am growing-up. Changing.

And that is nothing to be afraid of! Actually, it's a sign of a new season, marvelous things to come and a cause for daily celebration. What matters is that we look upon what's happened within the light of anticipation.


******


"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." ... 1 Corinthians 13:11

It Was What It Was



Oh, how I needed yesterday. We had sun in wide, hazy blue skies and were at nearly 60 degrees(!) 

Birds sang, calling neighbors to step out of their houses and freeing them from the spell of winter. Snow melted from our lawns and we saw green again after two long months of grey-browny-white. During my pretend coffee break from the painting of my kitchen, I sat outside on our winter-dirty, flowerless porch with Lennon and we smiled our most Cheshire smiles. 

During this first porch sitting, we gazed out over our winter-weary neighborhood and called it Good.

Spring was here. A taste, anyway. I didn't have to pretend it had arrived or make anything look Spring-like when what it wasn't. It just was what it was--and it was Spring.

I mean, I do force Springtime into our kitchen. It must be painted yellow, or another bright color, because the sun was snatched away when our carport went up. Even before that, it received only minutes of morning sunlight because sadly, it faces northeast. 

It's all rather like using the flash on your camera or switching on lamps in your rooms in the morning before the sun rises and beams yellow light through the windows. Or smiling when it would be so much easier to cry, but you smile anyway so to bring hope to others--and yourself.

But yesterday wasn't like that--there was no forcing anything or making something, better.

No, it just was what it was. 

A bright day, a gift from God waiting to be received by winter-weary hearts. A gift of hope to flood my soul with memories of all the Springs before until this year's Spring arrives to stay.



******


"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
-- Melody Beattie


*****

Monday, March 12, 2007

Of Painting Seasons and Grace


Last night at 7 p.m. I began repainting our kitchen. 

I was going to begin this morning, instead, after Tom left for work, but Grace nudged me, whispered, "Why sit around with nothing to do, waiting for tomorrow?" So I slipped my ancient Growing Pains video into the kitchen video player and painted, painted, painted until 10:30, long after Tom had gone to bed. It was just me and the Seavers in the kitchen--oh, and Grace, of course.

Grace. She is amazing.

Way, way back in college I'd sit in my dorm room with a beat-up guitar trying to teach (force) myself to play music. But Grace certainly was not sitting on my bed beside me. No, she was off in some corner where I'd sent her when I insisted on learning to play the guitar--something I was so not meant to do. 

Grace wanted to talk about the insecurities which made me grasp for attention by doing what I was not called to do. But I so did not want to go there. No, I struggled with the guitar, instead. And struggled... until I gave-up.

And then I met Tom--who played guitar and sang like Vince Gill, touching peoples' very hearts. I walked around my house and sang and sang, even taped myself to see how I could improve. There was no improvement for me, just frustration for, once again, Grace was not there to help me sing better so to feed my ego.

Oh the other times! The times God scared me by wanting to work on my tactless mouth, but I thought I'd work on my tendency to leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight. Or my shyness, forgetfulness, even. So I checked-out library books about homemaking and improving ones memory and becoming bolder. I'd read, memorize and struggle (and hit invisible brick walls),all without Grace and God. All without their blessing and timing and strength.

Finally, I allowed Grace to change me. Wow, she changes everything! And when I cooperate with her, frustration is non-existent.


And so welcome to the Painting The Kitchen Season of my life. These are 'before pictures', but the 'after ones' won't be extremely different, for I'm just using a more chiffon-type of yellow and am enjoying watching the knicks, dirt and chips fade away.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Intelligence and Wisdom




You know how sometimes you can't put how you're feeling into words, but then you discover someone in a book voiced those words for you and made things clearer? 

Well, that happened when I reread this in Richard Carlson's, Don't Worry, Make Money. And since this encouraged me, perhaps there's someone out there it will also help. Here it is in part:

"All things being equal, intelligence is a wonderful quality to possess. However, if you had to choose between the two, I'd say that wisdom is even more important than intelligence in your quest for joy and abundance. There are many intelligent people who fail to use their intelligence to best advantage. There are also many extremely intelligent people who live very unhappy lives...

"While you could rank order people in terms of their IQ, the number you assigned to a person would say nothing about their degree of success or happiness. Despite this fact, however, as a society, we continue to revere intelligence, yet barely even stop to consider wisdom at all.

"...Wisdom is invisible... As you discover and begin to trust your wisdom, you'll free yourself from your fixed and habitual patterns of thinking and problem solving and will more easily be able to navigate yourself toward joy and prosperity. In a nutshell, wisdom is the ability to "see" an answer without having to "think" of an answer. It exists outside of the confines of your thinking mind. Often, wisdom is seeing the obvious. And unlike the thinking mind, wisdom contains no worry...

"The people who have made the most money, or who have been the most successful in their careers, are certainly not always the most intelligent or most highly educated... Usually the people who make the most money and who have the most fun doing so are highly creative, highly motivated, have great intuition, solid gut reactions and instincts and/or the ability to see opportunities. These qualities, and others, stem not so much from intelligence, but from wisdom. This is not an argument against formal education or against standard intelligence. Yet it's critical to be aware that you don't need to use any lack of formal education as ammunition against yourself. Education is important and helpful. But don't let anyone convince you that if you aren't formally educated you are doomed to failure--because you're not.

"Keep your mind as clear as possible, know that a deeper, more intelligent type of thinking--your wisdom-- is available. When you feel your thinking is too frenetic, overactive, or that you are trying too hard, experiment with backing-off. You will find that a softer focus and less effort, not more, will usually result in a better use of the mind. Relax and succeed."


******

Proverbs 4:6
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Not Trading Your Place Away Too Soon...


So I took Lennon The Cat to the vet again this morning.

He's been drinking lots of water the past two months and that's always a worry. I sat with him on the bench in the waiting room and when I'd peek inside his carrier, well, if looks could have killed, I'd be dead by now. Those cat eyes! Later, oh dear. He hung his head, burrowed his face into the towel in his carrier. And he refused to raise his head even when I called him or Little Waiting Room Munchkin Girl (who looked adorable, like what's-her-name on How The Grinch Stole Christmas,) peeked-in and chatted jibberish to him.

I hate this. And I decided today I'm not taking him back until May for his bi-annual check-up, even though the vet is a tad concerned about Lennon (remember, he's diabetic) and is wondering if we should do the thing where Lennon stays there all day so they can regulate what his blood is doing at certain hours.

No, I can't do that to him. And since the vet isn't sure this is necessary, then I'm just going to say no.

Anyway.

Lennon (who acts like a happy-dog-in-a-car on the way home) got dropped off at home, was given a kitty snack for being good, and then I left for the river. Well, by way of Burger King where I bought a kid's meal and a decaf. (Which reminds me, did anyone try your local Burger King's coffee after I recommended it? Just wondering.) 

I drove into the parking lot at the river and nearly cried--too many weeks had passed since I'd been there and I'd forgotten how wonderful the water is when it's gleaming-grey with huge chunks of ice glittering and floating downstream and geese are paddling around and the fallen trees at the edges are like frozen white statues.

All too glorious, but I stayed anyway and read, ate lunch and drank decaf so incredible I wondered if they'd given me the real stuff, by mistake.

And I thought of all you moms of young children, how you probably have days where you'd love to have my fancy-free, drive-to-the-river-and-eat-and-read-and-dream-on-a-sunny-day life.

But then? I thought of myself, an older mom, an empty-nester and how some days I miss what you have. Sometimes I miss having that little blond pony-tailed girl sitting beside me with her envelope of french fries, telling me about what Matt did at school that day and asking, "Can we feed the seagulls again like last time?" And taking our loaf of bread and tossing chunks in the sky for the gulls to snatch away.

Oh, childhood sails past like those huge sheets of ice in the river until you are left only with the memory of what was yours for a moment.

And I guess I just wanted to hand you young moms that message, encourage you to just appreciate your children now, for someday they'll move on and you'll have hundreds of days alone at the river to reflect upon this one day you are living right now and to wish all your days had not sailed down rivers of Time so fast.



******

Pollyanna's Dark Side Revealed


First, an enormous thanks to each of you who recommended new blogs to me. By and far they were amazing! 

 Already I've added some to my blogrolls and will list more soon. I'm especially enjoying Victorian Rhapsody and Dirty Dishes. I'm clicking down her archive pull-down menu like a reader possessed.

I think some of you were astounded Thursday that I, Mrs. Pollyanna, actually feel disappointed in people sometimes. (I'm thinking the people in the above painting are asking, "So, like, what was up with Debra yesterday?) I guess you reminded me that sometimes I am just too darn goody-goody in this blog and it simply must be stopped. My goody-goodyness, that is. 

Anyway, I don't understand why, but sometimes my body craves a new, thought-provoking blog. I mean, with books, I read the same ol' ones over and over. That's why my shelves are crammed with dusty old books which fall, thump, to the floor when you open the glass doors. Books I cannot release because nowhere in the whole New York library system will I find them offered. 

But then there's this blog thing. Every three months (or so), this craving/yearning/wild desire for new blogs consumes me (well, kinda) and that's when I venture off on these hunts. And if I return from these journeys empty-handed, I come back cranky, disappointed and waxing poetically about the waywardness of all Christiandom.

That's all.

So to all of you who sent me links to your favorite blogs, I thank you. All of humanity thanks you (well, the humanity in my house and neighborhood). Debra is content again, meek, lowly. And now we can all go our merry, same ol' same ol' way.

For another three months, anyway.


******

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Humble Pie Sundays


Eight years ago a man in our church shared a sermon and I still remember one sentence. The gist of it, anyway. He said, "The love of God is real in your life when you can pray for God to promote others instead of yourself--and mean it."

Okay, so when you first hear something like that you might think, "Oh, I'm there already." Then you're sitting on that hard bench, remembering how the week before your friend, Kris, was promoted at her tax preparation job and you were thrilled for her. Honestly, without one iota spot of jealousy, you were thrilled for her happy, happy soul.

Then it comes to you. "Of course, I, personally, would detest being a tax preparer (having to bribe myself twice a month to sit down and pay my own bills). I'd (seriously) rather have a job where I sat on a block of ice and poked pencils in my eyes for a living. You know, maybe even something like babysitting."

But alas! (And here's where you squirm on that hard bench.) It comes to you, "But what if Kris had a blog like I do and got 2,500 visits everyday and 325 comments after every post and what if she received a yummy book deal offer for her blog along with a nice, big fat advance? What then? Just how thrilled would I be for her then??"

And later in the day is when your friends from church sit at their dinner tables and wonder over their fried chicken why they saw you slink out of church after the service, with a deflated look on your face while you practically dragged it along the floor and out to your car.

... and I would guess that it might be best for us all to walk out of church weekly, deflated, empty of the pride we walked in with. Those have, afterward (long, long afterward, usually) turned out to be my favorite Sundays.

Returning From The Hunt Empty-Handed


Every once in awhile I go hunting. Blog hunting, that is. On Saturday I decided to click down the complete blogroll of a fellow blogger whose writing I enjoy, even though I think she tends to complicate, well, nearly everything. I love the way she writes even though I don't always love what she writes. But I can live with that and there are a few such bloggers on my blogroll(s) (I have two.). I appreciate learning from others how to write better by their example.

Anyway, I clicked down her whole list, visited probably 35 blogs over a couple days' time and found nothing. Zippo. Nada. Well, no blog which spoke to my heart or not even one whose writing style was great even though what they said wasn't. I was open! I dearly wanted to add even one more blog to my sidebar. But I clicked-clicked-clicked for hours like a mad woman and felt no real kinship with anyone.

Sigh... Sometimes I ask myself where are all the good blogs? I mean, you hear that there are now thousands and thousands of blogs on the Net, but where are the blogs of the ponderers, the dreamers, the contemplative souls, the joyful and those who love life as God gives it?

Instead I keep finding the blogs of Christians who hate other Christians. Oh, not in a literal brick-throwing way (though I wouldn't put that past some), but in critical, sarcasm-disguised-as-humor sorts of ways...Blogs which condemn any church who does things differently than their own...against any church who tries something new. I keep tripping across bloggers who write whole tirades against tv shows they've never even watched or books they've never read..... Bloggers which, by the way, ask every few days why they are not as happy as they once were.... (duh?)...

And ok, I'm complaining about bloggers who complain, and I know that's bad form. But I guess I'm speaking out of my disappointment, for the potential for blogging is enormous! Not only can anyone share their life through their words for all the world to read, but they can share Life. The kind of joy-unspeakable Life which only God can live and breathe through a person. The potential is there, but it makes me sad to see it wasted on arguments over doctrine and tirades over how someone tweaked a Christian phrase for a little added humor. And I guess I want to read bloggers who can reach down deeper than describing what they ate for lunch.

Whatever happened to 'they'll know we are Christians by our love'? Or 'love seeks not her own' and 'deep calls unto deep' and ? Well, you get the idea.

But let me be quick to add that there are amazing Christian blogs out there spreading Hope and Love and Light and Freedom! And I am beyond grateful for the ones in my blogroll.

I guess this morning I'm just wishing I could find more like them.


***
Anyone have any redeeming, interesting blogs to recommend to me today?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ponderers


"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19

***

Ponderers are my favorite people.

They pause, think before they speak. They rarely must apologize for their words because they're not rash with them. They don't display ignorance and inexperience for all to behold and ponderers never write scathing reviews of books they've never read or of people to whom they've never listened to with compassion and openness.

Ponderers, those who listen to others and not just themselves, anyway, tend to be wise. They don't make ridiculous statements. They realize there is truth still to be learned and they do not yet know everything. They meditate much about God, but never do they assume to have Him (or His ways) all figured-out.

Ponderers resemble Dreamers, except usually, after the fullness of time, they do something to bring their dreams into reality, something they've gleaned from their pondering.

Ponderers fish in the deeper rivers of Life.

Ponderers are not the same as Sulkers. Sulkers ponder a lot, too, but usually they concentrate on what went wrong, they cheat Ponderers out of encouragement because Sulkers often burrow away in some sad room licking their wounds.

But Ponderers? They stir together the good and bad and usually the good rises to the top. Then Ponderers ladle-up that Good and carry it to Sulkers (and others) who need the warmth, wisdom and love which Ponderers have taken the time to steep over a back burner.

And the world is better for them.

*****

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Here We Go Again


Yes, it became official this afternoon. Today, March 4th, I became officially Sick Of Winter.

And so it became a day where I forced myself to do constructive things around the house, and well, one of those things involved moving my Dream Room desk away from the windows, and instead, setting-up what you see in the photo.

I like it better. A lot better.



But still? Uh-oh. I am still Sick of Winter, I still have Cabin Fever. What to do? Seek more faithfully the One who pulls light out of darkness and joy from sorrow.

I can do that.


***
Something else? This by Dallas Lore Sharp which helps a little:

"If you want springtime ahead of time, then you must have it in your heart, out of reach of the weather, just as you must grow cucumbers in a hothouse if you want them ahead of time." ... From The Spring of the Year


*******

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Morning After The Tupperware Party





Okay, so while I was in high school, my mom had one of those Tupperware egg separators. By the time I was married at the ripe old age of 19, that's all I knew. I mean, how else did one separate eggs other than to use the Tupperware thing?

So fast-forward two years and there I was at a Tupperware party at our pastor's house, surrounded by ten giggling women. We played one of those famous Tupperware games, if you did something correctly, you could take a little Tupperware-like-prize from the coffee table. And then if someone else did whatever-it-was correctly, they could step over to you and snatch that Tupperware prize out of your hand if you'd chosen what their heart desired. 

This went on and on for some time.

Well. The thing I took from the coffee table was an egg separator. Weeks before this party, I'd been moaning in my little yellow kitchen because separating eggs without a handy-dandy Tupperware egg separator was soo complex. What a mess. heh.

So (back to the party), there I sat with the egg separator, only everyone kept walking over to me and snatching it away. That separator appeared to be THE hot item. They'd take it from me, and then I'd snatch it from them. And so forth, amid much laughter.

Then the game ended. But there was to be no egg separator for me, for we'd run out of time before I could win it back. 

I felt a tad bummed-out, for hey. I'd needed that thing. But soon I forgotten that little yellow thing which would have made my life complete.

But that following morning? That's when it began. One by one, a couple hours apart, three women from the party knocked on my front door, each one holding an egg separator. The first woman handed me the one she'd won at the party and told me she just liked to separate eggs the old-fashioned way, after all (and I, being too prideful to look stupid, avoided asking her just what the old-fashioned way was). But I accepted the separator and thanked her for being so sweet.

The other two ladies (appearing sheepishly repentant) brought me their own separators from their homes, and with each I had a good laugh after I explained all this giving-of-the-separators which was going on. 

What a fun day! A memorable one. And I enjoyed telling Tom about it when he later arrived home from work.

The lesson? Sometimes if we can simply keep a good attitude and trust God for the things we need (not clawing nor complaining), we might be surprised by one of His delightful little miracles. And observe that He can speak to hearts better than we can.

Oh, and now, 26 years later, every time I use my Tupperware egg separator (or separate an egg the old-fashioned way), I always remember this story and smile with the memory. 

No, really.



******

Friday, March 02, 2007

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor




Just kidding.

But this is a commercial of sorts... Just thought I'd show you my three favorite jackets (which look better in-person, sigh... when will I take time to learn how to use this camera?).

And here's the commercial part-- I found each of these at the same thrift shop, on different days, for only around $3 each. I love wearing them and each feels like they were fitted by a tailor for me.... perhaps, in a way, they were... by an Unseen Tailor, the one who places items around thrift shops for me to find (if I go expectantly)... so much so, that mostly I feel like a child at an Easter Egg Hunt, yes, there in a plain old thrift shop on the most normal of normal days.

Oh and the red jacket is actually more a deep wine color--no matter what I did with the camera and lighting it still came out looking reddish-orange. Oh well, it's nothing to get frustrated about... it's nothing to get frustrated about... it's noth-(don't mind me while I get over this...heh...)