Thursday, December 31, 2009

Those Annoying Offense Spreaders

"Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense."   ... Proverbs 19:11


Remember this verse?

"Do not cast your pearls before swine." ... Matthew 7:6

Well, this is the way I've transcribed it inside my own head: "Don't cast your pearls before people who would criticize you or your pearls."

This is what I mean: There are certain people with whom I never discuss my favorite tv shows, like Frasier, for instance. Some 'offense spreaders' would tell me they never watch Frasier because once they watched a 'not-nice' episode which they had to switch off--forever. (You know, the ol' 'throw the baby out with the bathwater' thing.) Well, I loved most of the Frasier episodes-- I just skip the not-nice ones, and I hate to hear the entire series tied up with a "It's All Trash" bow. 

So I don't cast my Frasier pearls before those who would criticize them (or me for watching).

This also goes for sharing what I'm learning about eating organically and avoiding those appliances and medications (and such) which may cause damage to my body. You know, Tree Hugger stuff. Oh my, there are quite a few people in my Real Life, especially, with whom I avoid those subjects. 

Frankly, the hints that I'm primed and packed for the insane asylum bug me.

When I've watched a favorite movie or tv show 10 times, I'm quite careful I don't share that information with offense spreaders who hate that type of film/series. (Nor do I invite them to watch.) This also goes for the children's books I read, especially. I received too many, "What? Are you still a child?" comments or stares in my naive days.

Now, if I enjoyed a rousing ol' discussion where I must defend what I love, well, that would be different. (Some people love those 'discussions.') But I am a hater of conflict--I always change the tv channel when I see people arguing or I sneak out of rooms of arguers. 

Shiver. I prefer peace.

Of course, as for Life's vital areas, I will stand for what I believe--but only to a point. I've finally learned to recognize when others are beyond changing their minds. Knowing when to speak--and when to shut-up--comes in handy for ones sanity.

This keeping my pearls away from the haters of my pearls makes for a happier life. There's less setting myself up to get upset, less stress and less time and prayer needed to forgive others for hurting my feelings. 

And in Today's Crazy World? I'll take every tiny bit of good advice which enables me to see more good days than bad ones.


"If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies."   ... 1 Peter 3:10

"Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels." ... 2 Timothy 2:23


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Winter has returned, meaning cold and snow and our yard's Winter Lake, as well.

And here's our lake's mysterious, early morning look.

Gee, I knew I'd be sorry I passed up that perfect pair of ice skates at that yard sale last summer!

I'm not a big fan of winter (well, perhaps winter in Hawaii would be nice!), but I do love our lake. And time to read upstairs in my always-bright guest room. And the occasional snowy day when I remain in my robe. And the slower pace. Always, there's something to like about any change--it just becomes a trick to find it sometimes.

But it is possible and Life feels better, I've noticed, when I concentrate on what I like, rather than what I don't. (Sounds so very simple, but really, it can change a whole life.)


"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." ... Philippians 4:8

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Last week I heard that, nowadays, young people are so very into becoming famous. They believe if they only had adoring audiences they'd be and look and feel ok

This is one reason the crowds at the American Idol tryouts are so huge, at least, that's what I believe.

Back when I was young I, also, went through my own 'must be famous' decades. I longed to be an Olympic gymnast, a ballerina, an evangelist or a school teacher like Miss Dove (of the famous book). In fact, I planned to write a book, one which would make everyone say, "Wow, such an amazing writer for one so young!"

I even (get this) made plans to become famous after I died-- my diaries would be discovered in a dresser drawer and they'd become best-sellers ("Such a deep soul," people would nod and say). And too, my gravestone would play a documentary film about me when you pushed a button. Poof! There I would appear on a big screen.


Thank-goodness I've outgrown the desire to be noticed, for it's a heavy burden, one becoming even weightier when the props people give you are never enough. 

Only God can consistently meet those deepest needs for appreciation and love and He's too smart to allow us to find satisfaction from fame.

Anyway, I think this searching for fame and/or appreciation is part of what leads people to the Internet. Many feel more comfortable and bold here than they do in Real Life and it's easier to become someone other than who they've always been. 

I like to remind myself to be kind online, for I'm surrounded here by real, flesh-and-blood folks who--most likely--are searching for something. And may my first goal be to not seek to be known, myself, but rather, to help guide others to the One most interested, most loving of their very soul.


Be kind online.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

"For it is in giving that we receive.” .... St. Francis of Assisi

Over the 16 years that Tom has worked here in New York, his company has held summer parties at fairs and a Christmas party on a solve-the-mystery train, dinners in fancy restaurants, and one at a place where people act like Vikings (or something) and throw food around (we didn't attend that one and Tom had to work during the mystery train ride, too). 

For Thanksgiving they've shared free turkeys and had lunches there at the plant and for Christmas they've given $100 gift cards for our favorite supermarket. For both major holidays, the two guys working the dayshift received a lovely, festive meal there at the plant.

But this year? This year we got cutbacks. 

There was no summer party. No fancy dinner, no free turkey and no terrific supermarket gift card. There was no festive meal for Tom, the only guy who had to work on Christmas (no meal for the guy who had to work Thanksgiving, either.) There was a happy hour at a bar, but we didn't go. There will be a cold cut lunch at the plant next week, but Tom will be working night shift and sleeping that afternoon.

Sigh. I sorely missed the free Thanksgiving turkey and that fun supermarket gift card.

Did you catch that quote at the top of this post? You know, "It is in giving that we receive."? Well, those words peck, peck at my brain, those and the ones from this Bible verse, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." ... Luke 6:39

In order to reap what we need--and the extra stuff, too--we first must sow seeds. 

Seeds of work, giving and time spent. Seeds of prayer, kindness, money and more. Oh, I realize it can appear as though we're getting ahead if we horde and work only for ourselves, but alas! I believe we would have received more had we given. Had we sown fearlessly and  unselfishly. 

God created principles so that we'd all be taken care of. 

This sowing and reaping thing, I believe, is huge. A major one which runs totally opposite to this world's way of thinking and doing. 

Yet I've watched it work a million times, just as God planned that it would, for all of my 50 years. It --and God--has never failed me and I know never will He.


"Make no mistake about this: You can never make a fool out of God. Whatever you plant is what you'll harvest." Galations 6:7


And lest anyone comment that I should just be thankful that Tom has a job in Today's economy, let me assure you, I am. 

Deeply so, but this is not a post about that, and too, I'm ever so grateful they still give a yearly bonus in February. 

But I was trying to make a separate point in this post, one which God drills into my head, like, all the time. And yes, I believe this sowing and reaping principle works for non-Christians, though I realize that's a controversial point. Still, I believe it's such a strong, vital principle that it works for anyone who applies it. 


"God's ways are not our ways..." I Corinthians 1:25


Friday, December 25, 2009

Oh my. We had an amazing Christmas here in our home. Last night, Peace and Jesus and Grace were inside, outside, upside down (and right side up) and swirling all around as the three of us ate a simple meal then opened gifts.

Even though I slept on the couch and the cats kept me awake all night and even though Tom left early this morning for work after he and I watched our favorite Christmas episode of Frasier, the one called Perspectives on Christmas ("Oh night, deviiiiiiine" .hee.) and even though the sun never once shone outside the windows and Naomi slept till nearly noon (after having worked a wild, long shift yesterday beginning at 5:00 am), still, oh the peace while Naomi and I watched many Season 7 Monks and ate, chatted and did laundry.

It was all so special, so warm, that I became teary-eyed after she left and wished she could always live here with us. 

But of course, it's not supposed to be that way. No, we're to raise our kids so they can live on their own, leave us to live separate lives and to have children who will leave them, too.

But still, there were those tears which I knew were silly, but yet, I cried them, then laughed at myself, a mom to a nearly 30-year-old daughter , a mom who--once in awhile--likes to wish her daughter could stay at home forever.

But then common sense always kicks-in and restores a balance and rhythm to my heart and my hours, my days. And Life goes on--and it is Good because God is--and truly, He's everything I need.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Gifts For My Readers

Oh! I almost forgot to run this post which I share every year. So once again, here you go-- a gift for you.

Merry Christmas! ... I appreciate your readership and friendship way more than you know!


Free bookmarks for you or a child:

Printable Bookmarks

To watch free movies and tv series online go here:

Free Movies

To listen, free, to old radio shows from the 1930's and 40's, go here:

Radio Lovers

For free printable Christmas gift tags and enclosures, go here:

Christmas Gift Tags

To have fun trying on clothes online (forget those depressing dressing rooms! This is more like the days of paper dolls--and you are the doll.)--go here:

Lands End (Click on My Virtual Model to get started.)

To receive a free issue of Good Old Days Magazine (no credit card required), go here:

Good Old Days Magazine (Scroll down to 'Send No Money Now' when subscribing.)

If you enjoy Victorian photography, go here:

Victorian and Edwardian Photography

To download free charts and lists to help keep you and your family organized, go here:

Digital Women

For lots of cool old black and white photos from life in the 1930's, go here:

The 1930's

For free dollhouse accessory printables, go here:

Dollhouse Printables

To find amazing pictures to copy and paste into your blog or in emails for friends, go here:

All Posters

If you are into the fairy scene, go here:

Wee Folk Studio
Cecily Mary Barker

If you would someday like to visit Andy Griffith's 'Mayberry', go here:

Mt. Airy, NC

If you were a big fan of 'The Waltons,' go here:

The Waltons

To read hundreds of classic books free online, go here:

Page By Page Books

If you like vintage paper dolls, go here:

Betsy McCall
Dress the Digital Dolls (there's more than one page, click on the white-lettered names)

To receive a free issue of Reminisce Magazine (no credit card required), go here:

Reminisce Magazine (click on Bill Me Later when subscribing)

If you'd like to visit the gorgeous Christmas windows in New York City, go here:

New York City Christmas Windows

Roger Ebert's List of 100 Best Films:

Best Films

To read inspiring stories:

Capper's Magazine

All about homemaking creatively and on a budget (terrific site, considering today's economy!):

Heart for Home

To make your own kitchen mixes:

Homemade Mixes

To visit an imaginative tea room:

Prudence's Tea Room (Click on photos to enlarge.)

If you'd like to do something kind for fellow bloggers, leave comments at the blogs of those who almost never receive comments.

Add blogs to your's a compliment when you do so.

If a blogger's writing has meant something to you this year, let him/her know.

And again, Merry Christmas to you!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Warning: Bah Humbug post to follow.

Around 25 years ago, one Christmas my sister, brother and I and our families all gathered at my parents' home. After all the gift-giving hoopla, my dad suggested that perhaps next Christmas we could all just buy gifts for the children, but not for the adults.

I thought, "He must be getting old to suggest such an awful thing. I hope I never get that old."

I did not understand.

Then a few years later a couple who Tom and I had known since our children were small, told us they no longer celebrate Christmas with gift-giving or decorating. They just have a dinner with their grown children on Christmas Day, rather another version of Thanksgiving, but where they think and speak of Jesus.

I thought, "Wow. Our friends have gone wacko."

I did not understand.

But now? Now I sooo understand.

And if I were Queen, I would declare, "Where Thanksgiving is about pilgrims and being thankful, let's just make Christmas about Jesus and feeling grateful for Him."

But I'm not Queen, except maybe in my own home. (Maybe. I'm not sure.) 

And I've not yet decorated a thing nor have I wrapped one gift. Of course, I've had a cold since Friday, I spent two days in my robe and Tom's been sleeping each day since Friday because of having worked night shift, so I'm limited in how much noise I can make. And by the time he leaves for work, I've had only energy for washing the dishes and straightening things. But as of this moment, I'm planning to finally decorate and wrap gifts when he awakes, for he'll get up earlier since he doesn't work tonight.

Blah, blah, blah.

What am I saying? I'm saying that for eleven months of each year I happily work alongside Grace and she helps me with every task and the Christmas in my heart brings smiles and nudges me to buy surprises for the people in my life. Usually they are timely--and I'd rather be timely than traditional. Way rather.

But in December? I don't know. For years I've felt so on my own when it comes to 'Christmassing' the way Everybody and his Aunt Marlene is doing it. I hate that 'without Grace feeling'. There is struggle, guilt and longing for January (which, hey, isn't even close to being my favorite month of the year). And decorating? That is what I'm all about the rest of the year, but Christmas decor, well, to me, clutters.

So I'm thinking next December will be different. Next year I'll release everybody's expectations and I will only do that which Grace is doing right there beside me. I'll leap out of this ChristmasLikeEverybodyElseDoesIt boat and I'll either sink or swim.

But really, next December I am gonna jump out. I cannot spend another month like this, doing Christmas stuff only because I feel I should.

And trust me, I am ever so curious to see what happens! Change is rarely comfortable, but when God is saying, "Change"? It becomes far more uncomfortable to disobey. And I feel that discomfort, especially when it occurs to me--ordinarily--I am a bold Christian who shares her convictions, yet why haven't I been brave enough to let go of additional Christmas traditions?


And in case you are curious, Tom and Naomi and I are on similar pages about this. Hmmm. I'm thinking that is a good clue.

Oh, and if you still feel led to Do Christmas, I say more power to you. Decorate and celebrate double for me, ok? :)


"Sometimes we must step out in order to find out." ..... Joyce Meyer


"Unto you is born this day, in the City of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I'm back. And feeling much better. A special thanks to my Facebook friends (who also read here) for your kind thoughts and wishes and prayers. They helped, really they did, over a few rough days with this annoying cold.

Yesterday in my cold-like stupor (not from med's, for I no longer believe in them), I drove to our former town where the dentist agreed I should have my infected root canal tooth yanked from my head. That will happen on the fourth of January. Then I did some grocery shopping, also in my cold-induced fog, where I didn't even forget to buy a ton of things, as I do regularly. 

But I also bought a gift card for our daughter's ex-boyfriend and I will mail it to him today. Both Tom and I wrote notes to him inside the Christmas card, and well, we'll miss Carl this week. For seven years, in some ways, he was like the son we never had and what a sweetheart he was at Christmastime--he so appreciate any little thing we gave him. It's a true pleasure to spend time with people who appreciate everything. 

Hopefully, Carl won't altogether disappear from our lives now that he and Naomi are no longer a couple.

We'll celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, literally in the evening, with Naomi and she will spend the night, even, the first time for her inside this old farmhouse. Tom will work his usual 12-hour shift on Christmas Day, all day long. Naomi and I will watch dvd's on Christmas morning then she will return to her three cats.

And then the world will keep spinning as it is known to do.


See the photo in my header? Well, the photo in this post is that same exact scene, except it was taken today, a few weeks later. Quite the difference, huh?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Poor ol' Debra has a cough... cough... cold. Argh.

Yet worse than that is yesterday I found some information online about the painless infection I've had for months inside one of my root canal teeth. Good grief. If I'd known it could turn into something so dangerous I'd have taken care of it months ago. (The dentist did give me antibiotics, said it was a first step and to call him if they didn't help. I finally called him this morning.) Maybe this explains my months-long crankiness and forgetfulness, both which have bugged me, not to mention Tom.

Eegads. That type of information should be plastered everywhere so that we're all aware of it. Yet it's hidden (practically), quite like other health information I've, thankfully, discovered online through sites like Dr. Mercola's and others.

Well, don't get me started about that.

But being the Practical Helper Of The People (which I like to imagine I am) I'm compelled to share this latest possible life-saving information here in my blog. Again, you can read what I'm talking about here. And for additional scary news, go here.

But since I also like to share good news, here's some: Probably eight years ago at a library sale, I found a dusty old (1960's) copy of The Wind Blows Free by Loula Grace Erdman. It takes place in the late 1800's around the Texas Panhandle and is--seriously--one of the best books ever. Ever. Always, it feels new-to-me and always I can't set it aside until I reach the final page.

Now, there are two more books in that series, but whenever I've looked them up online, they've each cost around $30. Being such an extreme cheapskate, I've always thought, "Well, I'll just wait awhile till a cheaper one appears." Alas, eight years later--I still owned just the first book.

Finally, though, I checked at last week and wow! All three books have been reprinted. I was shocked--and grateful, of course. But even better, a nice old hardback copy of the second book, The Wide Horizon, was available for only around $3.50.

Don't you just love it when that happens?

Now, when it arrived, I lectured myself not to expect it to be as amazing as the first book. I mean, who writes two perfect books in a row? But oh my, as I devoured this book I sometimes wondered if it perhaps wasn't even better than the first. Wow. Soon I'll order the third book.

Anyway, if you enjoyed The Little House books and/or A Lantern In Her Hand, you'll adore these books by Loula Grace Erdman. Absolutely guaranteed and you can take that to the bank (and all that). And how amazing that now, I can share them with you because they've been reprinted after so very long. God is good.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Power Christmas Carding

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it (for death or life)...." Proverbs 18:21 (Amplified)

It's easy to say I totally believe that verse, but I've a feeling that if I majorly believed it, my life would look differently than it does now.

I'm just saying...

I've mentioned before how I believe shyness to be a curse. Having lived with extreme shyness for three whole decades, I know something about it and what I regret most from all my ShynessIsACurse Years is--mostly--the words I did not speak. You know, the words I felt too shy to say. All those opportunities missed! All those people who missed the Life I could have given with my words, some of those people with whom I've lost contact and others who now live in a whole other world.

It's a terrible thing to misuse the power of the tongue.

Now, lest you think that regret plagues my mind, well, thank God it doesn't. Fortunately He forgives me. But alas, He also expects me to learn from my mistakes and that's why I believe mistakes contain enormous power, too. Oh, the lessons they painfully imprint upon our hearts!

Anyway, I shared all that to say that by doing something so simple like mailing Christmas cards, I can use the power of the tongue by the words I share inside those cards. I can choose words which will raise peoples' spirits, make them feel special and I can let them know how much they mean to me.

Christmas cards are wonderful for sharing the power of written words, which are basically spoken words set down on paper to be read again and again.

And may I remember that... May I stop looking upon Christmas cards as just another December task to cross off my list. Instead, let me recall (I pray) that the power of Life and Death can be scribbled quite powerfully across something as simple as a 25 cent piece of paper.


"When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her." ... Adrienne Rich

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hmmm... I'm thinking some of you missed the point of my post about my neighbor not saying a word about my house. So alas, here's my point: I believe I should go through Life with my eyes and heart wide open so that I'm always ready to respond in kindness, appreciation and love to others, rather than thinking of my own needs, first.

That was it. Nothing more. And I have a feeling God likes that idea.

Well, anyway... Tom and I are back to needing a makeover on the way we live. It blows my mind how often we keep arriving back at this, well, wall. He may have a pinched nerve in his back--it's been hurting for nearly two weeks--a lot. And I've had this infection in my mouth for months (doesn't hurt, though) which antibiotics didn't heal and I need to decide the next step. And we must change our diet once and for all and quit fooling around about it.

In other words, we are reaping royally from the bad seeds we have sown and it's been a crop of bad stuff.

I'm just now finally accepting the fact that, at 50, my body is becoming high maintenance territory. After much kicking and screaming, I am giving-in and 'doing the work,' even though I'd much rather keep sailing along, carefree and easy. But alas, already I've glimpsed where carefree and easy takes me--and I hate that place. Hate it a lot.

Any prayer for poor ol' aging Tom and me would be appreciated.

You need some good news, you say? My Susan Boyle cd arrived yesterday! (Scroll down there at amazon to hear bits of each song.) Love, love, love it. The songs, Wild Horses and Who I Was Born to Be, especially, fit perfectly the feel of our old farmhouse sitting out upon these fields of snow. Dreamy stuff.


"A man(woman) sows what he (she) reaps..."


Oh, and Tom enjoyed Julie and Julia more than he thought he would. :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

So Tom and I are headed out the door this morning to the town we moved from. He has a dentist appointment (nannynannynanny...heh) and I will shop for groceries and probably pop into the restroom where I'll look into the full-length mirror which always makes me look heavier than I believe I am (we have no full-length mirrors at home, lest all my days be spoiled. heh).

Then we'll drive back through the countryside to home where I will make hoagie sandwiches which we'll eat while we watch our Netflixed Julie and Julia. My second time, his first--can't wait to share it with him! We'll pull the pocket doors closed, the ones between our living room and dining room, turn on our small electric heater and then enjoy the show there in our hibernating place.

Possibly one or two inches of snow will fall later this afternoon. We can handle that much.

And that is what's happening around our little farm. Some of you have told me you're living vicariously through me as I write out here, so there you go. The past few days in my blog have been blank, so now you have some words through which to live. :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another...... the love of many will grow cold." Matthew 24:10,12

Probably every week (every day?) most of us are given opportunities to become offended.

Last week I had a memorable opportunity.

See, our local phone company replaced some phone wires on our street and they forgot to hook our neighbors' phone back up. The following day 'Linda' walked over here to ask if we still had phone service, and if so, could she call the phone company.

Now, often this neighbor had visited with us out in our yard, but she'd never before stepped inside our house. The three of us spoke in our kitchen for awhile, mostly about our Magic Jack phone which, fortunately, decided to work much, much better three months ago, right before I was about to throw it out the window. heh.

So after she made her phone call in our dining room (while I straightened the kitchen a bit), she asked for more details about Magic Jack and our super-cheap tv cable, taking notes, even. She was here probably a half-hour, we told her to come again if the phone company didn't show up the following day, and then she left.

Now, why should I be tempted to become offended about any of that? Well, in all that time, she said not one word about our house. You know, this place where I've, at times, poured out my soul up on a ladder, painting walls. This place where I've rearranged furniture, hung wallpaper and curtains, and tried to make everything golden and warm and comfortable.

She said nothing about any of that. Not a word.


But you know? I just told that snarky temptation to become offended/sad/insecure/discouraged to take a hike. And instead, I asked God to always (always!) nudge me, (even tip me over if He must), to say something nice about peoples' homes, no matter why I happen to be there. I do usually try to pick out things I like and comment about them, but now, oh my, may God help me to become more passionate about letting people know the work they've done on their homes is noticed, appreciated and valued.

Myself, I believe that's a much better way to use the energy it would have required to remain all offended and bummed-out. Always, there's more value in learning from others what not to do, rather than sitting around in a huff, resenting their mistakes. Always.

Friday, December 11, 2009

There is another beautiful home today on Kim's Daisy Cottage blog. Oh wow. Gorgeous. But the accompanying story placed a lump in my throat, and the final photo brought tears, yet they made me want to celebrate all I take for granted... and may I stop taking anything for granted all the days after this. May I remind myself that Life is fragile.

One thing I've certainly not been taking for granted--here in our little corner of Western New York, Tom and I have no snow! Can you believe that? Perhaps you've watched some footage from our wild local snowstorms, but well, we've had no snow from the last two storms--even the sun's been peeking through grey skies. How wonderful of God to place our little farm in a banana belt. :)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Alas. There will be no Carl around here at Christmas.

Naomi called me yesterday and said that the friendship phase of her and Carl is over. Finis. No more. Done. Kaput.

And you know? Inside, I accepted that more easily than I would have, say, last week. I believe Grace softened that blow. Tom and I love Carl, but right now he and Naomi are making each other crazy, unhappy and bonkers, so space is needed. Perhaps permanent space, even.

Yet as Naomi explained the myriad details of this derailing and other sad details of her life, I heard at least five invitations to worry. Remember those? And I felt myself sinking, sinking, sinking. Of course, I reminded myself of all the posts I've written to help overcome worry and discouragement. I thought of other people's words and sermons, too, but still? Eventually I found myself slouched in the recliner with a snack (containing chocolate, but of course) and A Christmas Carol dvd playing, waiting to pull out of this overwhelming-ness which enjoys zapping my head, especially out here at this farm.

But soon I switched off George C. Scott's Scrooge and what did I find playing on the tv? Good ol' SuperNanny, Jo Frost. Boy, do I love her. Boy, do I respect the anointing upon her to do what she does amazingly well. And the mom on the show this time? Oh my. I'd never seen such a whiner in all the episodes before. She just stood there as her daughter slapped at her hands, she had no idea how to discipline either of her children and she kept crying and telling the camera, "I'm just not strong enough for this. I just can't do this."

I leaned forward, stared at her all bug-eyed and judgemental-like and said, "What a wuss! What a whiner. Come on, Lady, get a grip."

Then you know what happened, don't you? This little voice within me said, "Oh Debra, Dear..... For the past two hours, your spirit has looked exactly like that woman. You allowed those overwhelmed feelings to sink you into a recliner, with food, in front of the tv when there's a whole host of other things you could be doing. Instead of staying on top of your feelings, you gave them room at the top, pushing you down, down, down."

Wow! How true. And as all that conviction played inside my head, I also heard Nanny Jo speak oh-so-firmly to that mom on tv, telling her that, Yes! She can discipline her children and no, she's not too weak. And to snap out of it.

Well, you should have seen me pop up out of that recliner! I took up Nanny Jo's pep talk within my own head and went about my afternoon doing what God has called me to do around here. And feeling strong. And grateful that God can bring deliverance in surprising ways, probably because He enjoys variety and hates it when we believe we've got Him all figured-out. For how boring Life becomes when we think God does things always this way, but never that way.

So a special thanks goes to the Holy Spirit for telling it like it is. And to Nanny Jo, also, for the same thing.


"And David encouraged himself in the Lord..."

"Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might..."

"Having done all to stand, stand...."

"We need each other..."

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Oh, Tom and I were awed by this song. It's so lovely--and very convicting, too (consider that a warning).

And here's the quiet, contemplative place I share with you each year at this time. Turn up your sound and stand there awhile to compose your thoughts and quiet your head. Watch the skaters and the nighttime sky awhile and you just may come away refreshed and ready for anything.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Do you know how "They say" --in December--one should never start a new diet or paint a room or start a new exercise program lest it push one over into Stress Land? Well, guess who's dieting and painting and exercising?

Yes, I am.

I mean, it's been Conviction City around here. God's been all over me to eat better (and less often), exercise regularly, laugh more, get my house in order, complain less and take some apple cider vinegar each day (or perhaps that one was just conviction from Naomi. heh).

So as I've finally given-in and begun obeying those convictions there's been a special grace upon me to do so. For after all, when God asks us to do a thing, He provides the will and the way and the strength to obey. But only if we cooperate with Him in His timing.

And wonder of wonders, surprise surprise, I've been feeling a zillion percent better. Imagine! Feeling better after obeying ones convictions. Who'd have thought it?

But alas. I am still not feeling any great conviction to do Christmas on a grand scale. You know, the decorating, the partying, the mega card writing, the caroling, the bleary-eyed Christmas special watching and all that. No, with each year comes less and less of a willingness and nudging to join in with all the Ho Ho Ho.

And each year, Christmas gets better and better.

Of course, I could be concerned about my lack of Bigtime Christmassing. Heaven knows some of my friends and relatives are. But you know? I've a feeling if God was concerned about it, He'd let me know. Loud and clear. The same way He's been handing out all those convictions I mentioned, above. And trust me, I'd listen-up and put on my Christmas face if He told me.

But He's not. So this December, Christmas will be simpler than last. I bought my gifts online, I'll mail a few Christmas cards, I'll enjoy your Christmas photos in your blogs, but I'll decorate a day or two before Naomi arrives for Christmas dinner. I'll go around humming Angels We Have Heard on High, I'll probably watch A Christmas Story on TBS on Christmas Day and I'll meditate upon the One whom we celebrate on December 25th.

And I'll call it Good.

And then I'll celebrate Christmas the other eleven months of the year in creative ways as I always prefer to do. After all, I believe Jesus came to make every month, every day, the most wonderful time of the year.


Philip Gulley's latest Grace Talk is awesome. Read it here.


Ack!!! Blogger is eating some of your comments. This is maddening. If your comment does not show up, feel free to leave it again, if you'd like, but please, please don't think I deleted it. I appreciate all your comments so much!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

So this weekend Tom and I re-watched the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy. Again. And of course, that's a whole lot of hours to sit before the tv.

I realize that.

But you know? Those three movies are always just the shot in the arm I need. They inspire me to do better and be better. Each time, I walk away with a new shining determination to stop whining about tiny annoyances, to live more courageously and to welcome adventure rather than avoid it.

And yet almost always while The Return of the King plays, I catch myself thinking, "Hmm. This third movie is my least favorite because the majority of it is battle scenes."

And yet the realization returns to me that much of my inner life as a Christian is a battle scene, too. Oh, not that I'm always struggling or that I'm even aware of all those battles. Sometimes, yes, of course. But I mean even here in my home I am tempted to leave the laundry till I can't even close the hampers... or nag Tom if he does what I wouldn't ... or complain about packing his lunch day after day for work ... or only clean the bathroom when it becomes disgusting ... or dread feeding the cats (and giving Lennon his shot) twice a day ... or spend too much money online... or aim for 'good enough' rather than excellence ... or moan about the weather or my house or the people in this world.

And yes, I consider all those seemingly small things personal battles where I must stand strong in order not to lose. Huge things, though they appear small. For if I'm always fudging a little rather than giving my all or always criticizing others or always walking around these rooms with discontentment, laziness or unrest, well, it will show. Those lost battles will affect who I am outside of this home, including who I am in this blog where my goal is to shine a bit of the light Jesus gives to me.

And I do want that light to shine. So today I am grateful for those Lord of the Ring reminders to keep standing, bravely, even here in my home, even when no one else is around. For the battles won on secret battlegrounds matter just as much as those won publicly.


"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then..." Ephesians 6: 10-14

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Invitations to the Land of Worry

Oh my goodness. One whole week has passed since Thanksgiving and I've not even mentioned how ours went.

It was lovely. How great to have Naomi and Carl here again in our home--they'd not visited since late summer due to circumstances beyond the control of us all. Naomi brought us organic food surprises as she always does (she enjoys taking care of her aging old folks) and updated us on organic and health news. And they showed us cell phone photos of the two cats which Carl adopted and Naomi's one new adopted cat, as well. We'd not known they each had new cats (after losing Oreo) and it was almost like being told --surprise!--you have new grandchildren. Alas.

So as I said it was lovely, well, except for one thing--and it's the one thing which Tom's and my parents' hearts must guard against. It's what Naomi always tend to bring with her--lots of invitations to worry. Sigh. She'll just be chattering away about her life, not even realizing that half of what she's saying are new causes for us to worry.

I mean, there's her landlord who's a flaming neo-Nazi who yells upstairs a lot and the former band leader who's out to get her so she can't give her new address to the post office and there were the pictures of when her face was sooo swollen because she had an infected tooth which she eventually had pulled and then there's her van which is old (her stories about that always freak out Tom the most) and now she's quitting her latest band. And there's more.

Probably if you have adult children you know exactly what I mean about all those invitations to worry.

But you know? I began realizing a few years ago that for my own sake, my own health, I can no longer accept those invitations. I realized I just don't want to go to those places. Worry can make you sick. Worry can spoil your good days and make your bad days much worse. Worry can negate your prayers. Worry is sin. Worry illustrates a basic lack of trust that God can care for your child. Worry never makes anything better, rather, worry makes Life appear dark even when it's actually quite sunny.

And well, I'm learning whenever I listen to Naomi I must immediately hand over all those invitations to worry to God. He knows what to do with them. He can handle every single one, blow them all away with one breath if He so chooses. Which is good, since I want nothing to do with them. I'll choose prayer and trust and joy, instead.


Oh! Susan Boyle's album is out. Hooray! Read about it and listen to pieces here.


1 Peter 5:7
"... casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you..."

Lisa from Texas--could you please email me about the Fame dvd's? Thanks.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

What I Don't Understand

Good grief. Yesterday while taking a walk, I passed a yard with an inflatable Santa lying on his side, half-inflated, and appearing as though he was writhing in pain while the wind brushed him to his side, then laid him on his stomach, brushed him to his side, then laid him on his stomach. I immediately thought of this post from a previous year and decided to post it yet once more:


There's this verse in Proverbs about four things the author doesn't understand:

"There are three things that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand:

the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
...the way of a man with a maiden."

And here's what Debra would add:

"...and the way people put those silly, gigantic inflatable Santas, snowmen and reindeer on their lawns."

I mean, really. Come on.

Everyday I take my walk around the neighborhood and everyday I see poor ol' Santas sprawled across lawns like spread-eagle pancakes beside their deflated plastic friends.

I don't understand the Christmas cheer of that.

In my mind, I always imagine the abominable snowman, at night, tromping across all those lawns, committing mass murder. Or that Santa and his friends got so cold, they decided to impale themselves rather than take one more freezing long night while having to keep those goofy grins upon their faces.

It's like, what are people thinking? Who wants to blow-up gigantic plastic characters over and over only to wake up in the morning and discover them strewn, pancake-style across the lawn--again?

Not me, anyway.

So, I guess, like Solomon, there are just some things which must be too amazing for me to understand, as well. :)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I can't even express the huge change in how I feel about my living room since I painted it. Where once I just tolerated being in there, now I find excuses to spend more time within those orangey-mustard walls.

But for a day, that fact concerned me.

Why? Because I realized I'm more highly affected by the colors surrounding me than I'd believed. And yet, for years I've liked to think, to fantasize, even, that I could happily live inside a cardboard box if I had to, as long as I had Jesus living in there with me. But for all these months, those cold, white walls of our living room made my skin crawl. And I'm not even mentioning the huge dark paneled wall in there which I can barely tolerate.

Hmmm.... there's a rather large discrepancy in that paragraph and inside my head, and well, it discouraged me for awhile. I'd wanted to be stronger than that, but well, it's usually a disappointment when you finally get real about yourself.

But eventually God reminded me of this passage written eons ago by Corrie ten Boom:

"When I was a little girl, " I said, "I went to my father and said, "Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ." "Tell me," said Father, "When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?" "No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train." "That is right," my father said, "and so it is with God's strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need – just in time…"

What Mr. ten Boom called strength, I like to call Grace--and well--here's what I think God wants me know:

Yes, now I am affected by the colors surrounding me, yet I'm also able to change those colors whenever I wish. But someday, should the time come when I must live in a box or a jail cell (because of my faith) or a white-walled, tiny hospital room, or even to face martyrdom as many of Corrie's family and friends did, then--then--God will give me Grace to face any of those happily. Grace will be there only at the moment she's required. But I don't need that special form of Grace right now.

And I've been smiling ever since.


Thanks to each of you for your nice comments regarding the wall in my previous post!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A New Living Room Because of Paint

So yesterday while I recuperated from Thanksgiving dinner (and my post-Thanksgiving breakfast) I gazed around at our cold, cold white living room walls and thought, "No! I just cannot, simply cannot stand to leave these walls white even one more day." So I hopped up, ran upstairs, changed my shirt, then mixed a couple cans of paint. Then I ran back down here, moved some furniture around and began painting.

Now, I hadn't planned to give that wall a sort of Tuscan finish, but that's how it appeared (serendipity in a can, I suppose)--and I love it. Always, the rooms of Italian villas in movies nearly stop my heart with their beauty and well, now my heart stops while looking at my very own wall. I painted only 5/6 of the wall you see, but already the room looks a bazillion times warmer, and oh, how this old farmhouse needed warming!

So it's back to painting I go... Just wanted to show you what I have so far. How satisfying to finally behold some pro-activity happening around here.


P.S. It's a cloudy morning here, so the pictures are a bit dark. I can't wait until the sun returns--the walls will pulsate with color, I'm sure!