Saturday, October 31, 2009

Like Road Trip Movies?

It is a grey, rainy Saturday morning here and I just finished watching the most perfect grey, rainy Saturday morning type of movie. It was called Bonneville. Slow-paced, a road trip with wonderful scenery from my old stomping grounds (perhaps another reason I loved it), close friendships --when the credits rolled I longed for more, at least another hour's worth. Read about Bonneville here. In fact, you can even watch it instantly at Netflix, at least, as I write this you can. A perfect contemplative film for a slow, quiet morning, especially for those of us of a 'certain age.'

Friday, October 30, 2009

If you've read my blog a few years you've probably noticed I'm not a huge fan of Christmas. At least, not the way it's celebrated in the U.S., especially.

But I do still enjoy Christmas movies and so yesterday Tom and I visited our tiny town library and came away with Christmas With the Cranks. We'd seen it a couple times, but it had been a few years.

It's a fun movie, I do enjoy it overall, but always--always--there's something in it which bothers the heck out of me. 

Which part is that? It's where the Cranks are viewed by their neighbors as totally selfish, thoughtless, uncompassionate people just because they're not decorating as usual, not spending their yearly $6,000 on Christmas and its trappings, er, trimmings--but instead--are choosing to skip Christmas for one year and go on a Caribbean cruise, instead. 

Yet after the Cranks cave in change their minds and "do Christmas" after all, there's a speech given and it's stated that the Cranks should be forgiven for having the selfish, thoughtless, uncompassionate idea of ever taking a cruise as a couple at Christmastime.

At no time did the movie even hint that the Cranks should be allowed freedom to make different choices than those of their neighbors, not as long as they weren't Jewish or weren't going to visit relatives out of town (as some of the other neighbors were and did).

Come on. Give me (and the Cranks) a break! 

Their daughter wasn't coming home that year, they had no other children, they still chose to give their annual gift to a favorite charity and their church, they'd only be spending $3,000, not $6,000 and they were looking forward to getting away as a married couple after having raised a lovely daughter.

My take on this? It was the whole neighborhood who was being selfish.

Good grief, the enormous pressure they put on the Cranks! Pressure to lug out the huge, heavy Frosty the Snowman up on their roof like everyone else and to decorate the outside of their house with lights and the inside with all things Christmas. Pressure to buy a tree from the Scouts and calendars from the police and pressure to hold their annual (huge) Christmas party for all the neighbors at their own house. 

And when the Cranks wouldn't comply, oh my. The gossip amongst the neighbors was ghastly.

Well, I'll tell ya. Every single year for the past ten (or so) I've dreamed about skipping Christmas. At least, skipping the trappings which have become such a part of the whole month of December. Sometimes I sit upon the couch and just imagine what a Christmas-less December would be like and I let myself feel warm all over from the sense of relaxation.

But what I usually end up doing is toning down Christmas more and more each year. I buy less, cook less and attend fewer parties (last year we attended none). And I think, in my heart, I'm hoping to arrive at that One Great December where I'll have spread the real spirit of Christmas all around through the previous 11 months, so much so, that I'll have earned a month off, a December off. One where I just sit and relax in Peace on Earth and wish good will toward all men and meditate upon the One for whom Christmas is all about.

And in that someday December if my neighbors see me as the Cranks' neighbors viewed them, well, so be it. I'll just remind myself that God knows what's truly inside my heart, He gives me my free will, He'll never force me to do anything and that's always what will matter most.

A Caribbean cruise in December, though, wouldn't be too shabby, either.  シ


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Our daughter could really use your prayers right now. It's looking like Oreo, her cat, isn't going to pull through this kidney thing so Naomi is facing having him put down either today or tomorrow.

She's taking this very, very hard. For years she and Carl have always said, "If anything were to happen to Oreo, we just couldn't take it," and I have cringed every time at those words. They invested their whole heart and souls into that cat, not always remembering the fragility of Life. But then, which of us wants to remember that?

Life is so hard sometimes and right now both Tom and I are really aching for what Naomi is going through. Not to mention, we love Oreo, too, and had such fun with him the years we all lived together, years when we had 3 upstairs cats and 3 downstairs cats. So actually, we would all appreciate your prayers so much. Thank-you.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I've not had a 'dark night of the soul' since 1994.

You know, those times when--with your head--you remember that God said, "I'll never leave you nor forsake you," and yet He feels far, far away. Or hiding behind walls in other rooms, never sitting with His arm around your shoulders anymore. And times when a quiet desperation has replaced your joy and life feels, if not dark, then very grey and not nearly as lovely.

But before 1994, I experienced not only dark nights of the soul, but--sometimes-- dark months of the soul. I took the whole dark night thing to an art form. Again, sometimes.


The difference? In 1994 I fell in love with Jesus. Passionately, and so much so that I couldn't live without His presence for even one minute. I stopped running to friends, books and old sayings first for companionship and help, and instead, I ran to God. 

I began asking Him to show me where I'd gone wrong (that was huge). And I finally allowed Him to make the myriad changes in me which He'd longed to make since I accepted Him at age 11. 

I handed Him the steering wheel and finally let Him drive us around rather than always doing the driving, myself (and running us into ditches).

How sad that I once believed God was into the whole dark night of the soul thing. That He thought it up and believed it to be a good idea. Ha! What is actually God's idea? This:

"The joy of the Lord is my strength."

That's His idea. His plan is for His joy to keep me strong and able to do whatever He asks. And He's certainly not called me to sit in shadows, all despondent for weeks, whispering, "God understands that I'm just a poor ol', sad, pathetic mess."

Uh, no. 

What God understands is that He's given me joy so I can then reach out to others who need His help. He has jobs for me to do. He has plans for me, ones for good and not for evil. 

And He has enough love, joy, strength and companionship to fill my heart full every single day of the rest of my life.


"Sin separates... confess your sins................go and sin no more........."

In His presence is fullness of joy... and it's in His presence where I want to 'live and move and have my being' hour by hour.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Always, I am being taught.

Always, the Holy Spirit is involved, somehow, but I am always, nearly every hour, being taught something. Or lately, it might be closer to being reminded of something I, with my 50-year-old brain, have forgotten.

So lately I'm being taught (or reminded) that if my house doesn't feel as fun and happy and special as I'd like, well, it's my own fault. Creativity is flowing within me, but in allowing myself to become overwhelmed and lazy, that flow gets all plugged-up. No use blaming a lack of time or finances, either. We do what we really want to do--we always find a way. That's what I believe, anyway.

Similarly, if my life isn't going the way I'd like--then to a point--that's my own responsibility. Each day I can do something to make Life better. Even tiny improvements are still improvements. I can clean out closets or drawers which have been bugging me or have a key copied which I worry about losing or paint that chair which makes me sigh whenever I pass by it. But oh my, how I pray to keep far away from the whining, "I can't help its." Helpless, complaining, 'imaginationless' women have forever given me headaches and if I become one I won't be able to tolerate myself. (And if I can't tolerate myself, uh-oh! One can't escape oneself, you know, because wherever you go, there you are.)

Learning, relearning, remembering... all day long. That's how it's been for me since around 1994, the year God convicted to stop thinking I already knew it all. Know It All's stop learning somewhere along their paths. They stop listening to new ideas because they believe their old ones are the only ones worth knowing. How sad. And how grateful I am that God shook me out of that lifestyle long ago, for the journey since then has been, well, amazingly full, with new lessons every hour. All these years, all these lessons, all these hours.


"It's the little foxes which spoil the vine...."


Here's some interesting reading about the swine flu. Interesting and controversial, but I believe we should be reading both sides.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Longing for Eccentricity

I'm once again rereading Bailey White's books, Mama Makes Up Her Mind and Sleeping at the Starlite Motel. On days when I must give myself permission to be happy (like this one) I bring out one of those books and dream about becoming eccentric.

Oh my, I so want to become eccentric one day! But I'm thinking I'm too straight-laced and the kind of person who must have everything so, well, neat and organized and on schedule. Darn.

But in my heart of hearts I want to be like Bailey White's friends and relatives, people who make it through hard times and don't become all grouchy on the other side. People who laugh a lot, even when things aren't especially funny and who are naturally creative, so much so, that nearly everything they do is done differently than the way the rest of us are doing it. And of course, they get away with more things, too--folks just nod their way, then tell their friends, "She's ok. She's just a tad eccentric."

I want to pick a decade and live like it's still here (and not let Today's news affect me) and have a house with layers of history and Life all over the tables, floors and shelves (and not let it make me insane) and not feel guilty if I eat Twinkies and Pop Tarts. I want to attract people because I accept them just the way they are.... and not be devastated if they don't accept me, warts, flaws, goofiness and all.

But as I said, so far it's just not happening, at least, not the way I think it should. I am becoming quite forgetful, though, and I'm not as organized as I used to be and I'm more bold about saying how I feel. Some eccentric people are like that so perhaps there's yet hope for me.

Well, anyway, now you know my goal in Life. And I do hope you'll look up the two Bailey White books I mentioned, especially if you, too, have hopes of becoming eccentric one day. They'll give you inspiration as well as a good head start.


Do any of you reading this dream of becoming eccentric, too?


Both these books can be found through my Amazon widget thingamajig to the right.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Latest Project

So lately I've been working on the baking pantry (a.k.a. Tom's room). It's nowhere near finished, but it's looking a zillion times better than it did. At least, both Tom and I think so. :) And after all, that's what matters.

And here are a couple photos from our back meadow just for fun...

The oak trees are so pretty. Click to get a better peek.
To clarify a bit, for all these months I've still had my quiet times, but they came during pauses in my day. Long pauses, many pauses, many quiet times. But what I feel lately is God telling me to recommit to my morning time with Him and keep the pauses, too. And what He also asked was that I create a special place for Him and me upstairs in our guest room (my room), hence, this first photo. God and I hang out here in the mornings and in the pauses of my days.

I sit there all dreamy-eyed and stare at the views...

... and think what I want to think... hopefully, good things which God wants me to think, too.

I didn't tell you yet, but I hung some wallpaper around the closet area of our guest room and all except two sheets fell down! &*$#@. Just one of my many and varied October trials, but alas, I like how those two sheets look.

And for good measure I will give you some of the gold world outside another upstairs window:

Don't you just love Autumn?


By the way, Tom and I Netflixed The Lost Room and we really loved it. It originally aired as a mini-series on the Sci-Fi channel and I admit it's not for everyone, ok? But some of you might enjoy it, too, especially if, like us, you love the feel of the whole Route 66 era/history. Read about The Lost Room here.

Our new patio with old patio furniture. Ever since the concrete was poured, it's been too cold and rainy to actually sit out there (October trial #47). :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

When Moving Backward Is The Right Thing To Do

Probably every week I hear that Life goes on so we should go forward. Move ahead. Leave the past behind.

And I agree, of course.

But I also know that--sometimes--when I'm not feeling as joyful and at peace as I used to, it helps for me to walk backward to the last place where I remember being happy. Then I can slowly recount my steps and discover just where I took a wrong turn... and arrived at this not-quite-so-happy place.

So recently I read a few pages of one of my (many) diaries and got reacquainted with the woman who wrote those happy words. I thought, "Oh! I remember her. She had a set quiet time in the mornings where she read and listened to God and stared out of windows and thought mystical thoughts. And she took walks nearly every day, wasn't much overweight (and could easily rise from kneeling), didn't watch too much tv, ate her vegetables and wore dresses, even around the house. She loved painting walls, she grew her hair long and loved that, too, and she felt that Life was just plain amazing."

Wow, where did that woman go?

Well, I'm finding she's still here, deep inside me, but she just got a little lost in the two big moves and the whole new life on a farm.

So what I've been doing is finding her in the oddest places (how did you wander there, Honey?), taking her hand, and leading her to this new place in the country where I live. She likes it here, but she does not like the way I've been living my countryside hours.

And now she and I are becoming one woman again. It's taking time, but already it's worth each moment because things are rapidly changing. For the good. Hallelujah.


I am remembering that being is more important than having.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I'm Back. I Think.

Hey. I've missed you! So I'm back after my own personal Awful October. Tests, tests, tests, nearly every hour it seems. And I confess I've complained and whined and failed and dreamed about moving into a tiny apartment with a tiny yard to find true simple living (whoever says country life is the simple life, is, er, well, lying).

Really, the tests have been bad . Annoying and frustrating to the very roots of my hair. Yet they've done what God designs them to do--they've shown me I'm not nearly as dead to self as I'd (proudly)supposed. Parts of the old original Debra are ultra-healthy. And, well, these tests have been killing me--but God says that's a Good Thing. (Whew. That's a great thing to remember, because it certainly doesn't feel good, not at first.) But after the lessons are accepted, learned, the pressure cooker is turned off, for awhile, and Life feels new and good again.

It's just so hard giving-up control, you know? Like, for 29 years Tom barely even stepped outside into any backyard we ever owned. Our yards were my thing. But now? Now he's Mr. Yard Work and usually doing the opposite of what I would do. And when he's not outside being opposite, he's here in the house being Oscar Madison to my Felix Unger. Or standing exactly where I need to stand exactly when I need to stand there. Or he's out driving around and buying things I'd never buy or taking five vacations since June (don't ask). Test after test after test. And since Tom's the one I spend the most time with, he's, unfortunately, the one God is using to kill my I-want-everything-my-way Self.

Hundreds of tests! You know, do I trust God enough to keep my mouth shut and just let Tom do as he sees fit? Can I stop worrying about him while he does what I believe to be wisdom-free and dangerous? (Remember, he's got a ton of back problems.) Can I stop nagging him? Can I stop complaining? Can I stop getting headaches from being greatly annoyed all the time? (Can I die to what makes me be annoyed and worried and discontented all the time?)

God only wants to do me a favor by saving me from my self.

And basically, can I truly "let go and let God?"

You know, let go of my need to control the way the house and yard look. Let go of having to have a certain dollar amount in the bank. Let go of being the only one allowed to buy groceries and cook meals and buy furniture. Let go of feeling I must change Tom, and instead, step back and wait (wait?!) for God to make changes in us both.

A dead person doesn't sit up at his own funeral and complain about the choice of music or flowers or mourners. No, he just lies there with no desire to control anything. And that's how I want to be--dead to self, but alive to God and what He wants and thinks and feels. Empty of me and full of Him (fortunately, all through this I've felt His presence. He knows I cannot live even 5 minutes without Him).

God works on us in layers (think onion skins), because if He did all the work at once --ouch! We couldn't stand it, or rather, we couldn't stand ourselves if we saw and felt the ugliness of all our smelly layers at once. And if I can just survive this "I must decrease, He must increase" process thing, I know I'll enjoy Life much more over on the other side where God is in control, (not Debra who only thinks she is)... and where I trust Him as a child trusts her trustworthy father.

And live one amazing, peace that passes understanding life, indeed.


Each of these photos were taken today. The last one is the view from our kitchen window.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Really, I'm Not Back...

...I'm just posting pictures. :) Here's our one big project of the year--we had concrete poured around the barn and inside the new garage.

And here's my favorite part--our patio! Our first one ever, I believe, so I almost feel like Granny Clampett who had a 'concrete pond' but instead, we have a concrete patio. heh...

Our house today, the most perfect autumnal kind of day you can imagine. (Oh, and the pumpkins are from my garden, first time I'd grown pumpkins in probably 20 years. I'm hoping to use some for pie.)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Would y'all mind if I took a break from blogging?

I was out in my wild-beyond-words garden, sniffing the amazing country air and the thought of not blogging for awhile just sounded like the best idea on Earth. I've learned to recognize that feeling--and respect it.

Mostly? Mostly I just need to get back to who I am apart from blogging. I'd always been a very private person till God led me (with a tiny shove) to blogging, and well, I just need to remember who pre-blogger Debra is. I think I've forgotten, what with this whole life-changing move to a farm and all that.

I don't know how long this vacation will last, probably not long, but well, I sorely need a break. I hope you understand.

Feel free to check-out my archives. Good gracious, there are over 1,600 posts there. Even I can't believe that.

Take care and I'll talk with you soon. And I do thank each of you who has ever left me an encouraging comment-- I read and appreciate each one.


Saturday, October 03, 2009

Remember when I showed you this picture last week? Well, probably three years ago the owners held a yard sale with stuff both inside and out. Of course, Tom and I were thrilled to be able to finally step inside this old cobblestone place--we'd driven past it often during the previous thirteen (or so) years. It had been a bar and rooming house for most of those years, empty for a few, then the new owners turned it into an antique shop and bed-and-breakfast.

Well, we stepped inside and in between the wall and stairs was a trail of antiques and junk for sale. Now, the stairs were roped off for the B&B guests only and what we could glimpse of the upstairs appeared lovely. But we had to pick our way past boxes and furniture for sale to the back deck which was crammed with more boxes, knick-knacks and antiques as well as the tables and chairs which guests normally used there on the deck. Soon I stepped into the antique shop which was dark like a cave and so full of antiques and display cases that only one person at a time could fit in any 'aisle'. Not much time passed before I went back out and whispered to Tom, "I'll wait for you on the front steps--I'm too overwhelmed by all this stuff!"

So I sat outside on the sunny front steps and stared at all the black-eyed Susans and Shasta daisies which sagged across the sidewalk and sorely needed to be deadheaded. The potential for a lovely perennial garden was there, but otherwise, all was sad and screamed of neglect.

Well, I just sat there and fumed. Yes, fumed because for the last forever Tom and I had dreamed of having a bed-and-breakfast inn and here these people owned a perfect place for one and yet they were doing it all wrong. Clutter was everywhere downstairs and in the yard, and those poor flowers were neglected, and if you're going to have a yard sale while you have guests (they did have guests--I saw them walk up the stairs inside) why would you sell the stuff in the skinny front hall, creating a traffic jam for everyone?

So there I sat in the sun waiting for Tom, muttering thoughts like, "If I had a bed-and-breakfast, my oh my, I'd run it a whole lot better than this one!" Then when Tom came out and we drove away I bantered on and on about all the things the owners were doing wrong--and how things would be totally different if I were in charge of that place.

Gulp. Since moving to this farm of ours I have repented of those harsh thoughts of mine three-million times. 

Now I so understand. I understand how nearly impossible it is to have painted and wallpapered rooms and a mowed yard and deadheaded flowers (and laundry done, meals on the table and the birds fed outside) all at the same time. And I'm not even running a B&B! And if you'd asked me the first year the one word which describes how I felt it would have been overwhelmed. And yet those new owners of that B&B looked older than Tom and me, they and what appeared to be their business partners. Just being 52 and 50 on acreage in an old farmhouse for the first time, just the two of us, learning myriad unforseen lessons, has proven an incredible stretch of all that is within us.

The sad thing? That building in the photo, above, is again for sale. The B&B did not last more than 2 years or so. And I get that, too. I now realize how sometimes you must 'step out and find out' so that you won't spend your years wondering, "What if we had _____?" and kicking yourself because you never got out of the boat to try walking on water. Yet sometimes when you do take that leap, you realize--mostly--you were more in love with the thought of having that thing, rather than having or doing the thing, yourself. Or, you discovered you loved it, but it required more of you than you were willing to give. Or a host of other revelations.

But at least now you know. And you can continue down the road of Life better informed about who you really are, what you really want--and no longer kicking yourself for chances never taken, for you were brave enough to crawl out of the boat.


"Judge not lest ye be judged." .................


Never assume you'd be great at anything you've never even tried. Technically, that's called pride.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Remember how, in It's A Wonderful Life, there's a montage where Mary (Donna Reed) is shown standing on a ladder while wallpapering their decrepit old house?

Well, picture me just like that.

I'm here wallpapering, painting and hanging curtains. And I should be outside mowing our jungle-like lawn, but the concrete guys are out there digging and measuring and there's no way I'm going to mow with them watching me. Already the neighbors probably watch and giggle at their windows. Alas.

So anyway, I'm just popping in here to say I've been in a more creative decorating mood than a writing one and that's partly why I've been absent.

But here's a note: Remember when I complained all this past summer about my house and yard and all those staycations? Well, I'm thinking it wasn't about the house and yard and all those staycations at all. 

No, recently I began hearing this tiny voice inside my head which said (to be read in your best eerie voice impression), "Oh Debraaaa.... You really should start taking folic acid pills each dayyyy....." So I looked up the vitamins which a woman like me (50, postmenopausal, prone to whining) should be taking and that one was on the list, as well as these which I was already taking, though fish oil was hit-and-miss (but no longer):

Vitamin B
Fish Oil**
Vitamin D3
Folic Acid

I also take at least 2,ooo mg's of Vitamin C to prevent sinus/ear problems to which I was prone until I discovered this wonder drug. 

So anyway, since taking the Folic Acid I've felt much more 'even keel.' More stable. More like good ol' Debra at her Pollyanna-at-75 rpm best. (Hooray!)

And that's as deep as my thoughts go today. I thought perhaps the Folic Acid thing might be confirmation for others of you out there walking alongside me at my current state of Life. You know who you are.  ッ


The above photo is from our little blue library at the top of the stairs. A few rolls of wallpaper 'came with the house' so I used part of a roll for this wall. I like the effect.


** Update! Krill oil is much more potent and helpful than fish oil. I've taken krill oil pills for years and have noticed a good difference.

Oh, and as I've aged, I no longer feel a need to take folic acid. These below, in 2019, appear to be enough daily for me, at least, currently. 

I've only been sick twice in 8 years, so I must be doing something right.  ツ

Vitamin D3
Krill oil
Vitamin C

And occasionally I take cranberry pills, but most days I do drink cranberry juice.