Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Of Christmas Tweaked

And so it begins. Christmastime.


Ha! シ

Probably I'm one of the few Christian bah humbugs you know, but you know, right?, that what I object to is the Christmas frenzy. The trappings. The wild-eyed-must-have-and-see-and-do-it-all-ness of it all.

And those silly deflated, face-down Santas splattered all over everybody's lawnsAnd Rudolph (who's on tv tonight). The whole terrible tragedy of the little guy. 

I prefer a type of year-around Christmas. It's quite different and the fun lasts much longer.

But anyway, remember when Ma Ingalls told Laura: "There's no great loss without some gain"? Well, guess what's been swirling inside my head this week?

Why? Because for the last five Christmases (or more) we've downscaled Christmas majorly around our house. Fewer decorations. No parties. Less gifts each year. No tree except for the gold grapevine one I pulled from the basement (perpetually decorated so I could just plop! it on the table).

But in our Big Move, we even gave that away.

And each year, I've enjoyed Christmas more. The fewer the trappings, the greater the room for Christmas joy, I say.

And then last year I kept repeating, "Next year let's scale back even more, ok?" Tom and Naomi nodded agreement, though not as excitedly as I did. So, well, guess what? The 'no great loss without some gain' thing is our wonderful excuse this year. Because Tom was downsized into Unemployment Land, we have our legit reason to cut way, way back and do Christmas ultra-sanely.

(Insert the Hallelujah Chorus here.)

Already I had my lovely half-off Victoria Christmas cards (from last January) and the stamps I'd stocked up on. Scribbling messages on Christmas cards is lovely and Grace-filled so that tradition will remain.

And our old-fashioned kitchen radio dial is set on the Constant Christmas station, for there's nothing like carols in the kitchen while my fingers shape pie dough and I'm gazing out on a snowy field laced with trees. 

At Thanksgiving, Tom, Naomi and I discussed a money limit for each other, a lower one than ever, citing also that creativity is good and if we can make things or find gifts for free, well, so much the better. So look-out online credit card--you will be on a diet this December.

There will be gifts for our parents. Offerings for the needy, too. Hopefully a morning visit around the table with two of my friends. Maybe a few Christmas lights wrapped around the furniture. I'll retrieve our one (and only) box of Christmas decor from the attic and watch a few Christmas dvd's (don't you just love the Charlie Brown one?). And we'll eat a pleasant Christmas dinner, of course.

And well, that will be about it. But it will be lovely and peaceful and hopefully, Jesus-centered.

And definitely, mall-mob-free. :)


What are your favorite Christmas movies? The ones I've watched a bazillion times are:

 Charlie Brown's Christmas, 
A Christmas Carol (with Geoge C. Scott. Hard to believe I used to have a major crush on him at age 14 after I saw him in Jane Eyre), 
the first two Home Alone movies (I know, I know, but I love them), 
It's a Wonderful Life, 
Miracle on 34th Street, 
Christmas in Connecticut and 
While You Were Sleeping which I consider a Christmas movie when others might not.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Traveling Beyond Wishing

"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." ... what my mother used to always tell me.


So the other morning while I walked down our dirt driveway to get the newspaper from the mailbox, I gazed around at the sun and the lawns and bare orchard trees, breathed deeply of country air and thought, "Oh, how I wish that today was early spring. I wish that winter was over and soon the buds on our magnolia tree would open all pinky-purple glorious."

Of course, this little voice inside cleared its throat and said, "Uh, Debra. You do realize that winter hasn't even begun, right? And that wishing will never, ever make Spring follow Autumn? So why waste time and emotional energy and risk discontentment?"

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sometimes Wisdom can be such a drag. :)

Yet of course, he's right.

Speaking of that, I'm thinking that sometime three nights ago, Grace, likely because of my ignorning her, crawled out the window and raced far away into the darkness. All these months since Tom was laid off I've been pretty darn patient having him constantly around the house. But lately! Oh dear, I've been all, nag, nag, nag and complain, complain, complain.

The wishing thing is also tripping me up with Tom's being home all the time.

How? Well, since The Day Our World Changed, poor ol' Debra has fashioned herself overwrought with all the extra work. She's had more dishes to wash, more meals to cook, more clutter to pick up and more laundry to wash (Tom's work uniforms used to be professionally cleaned). And since I'm trying to make and save money in hyper-drive so I can avoid the outside scary workplace, I'm on the computer more often while I complete my surveys, find and print coupons and brush-up on my something-from-nothing skills. Not to mention the extra writing I should be doing for possible income, something I'm mostly avoiding, so it's rather heavy on my mind.

And so, in the midst of all that, plus computer problems (hey, why not?), I've mega-wished that things were as they used to be--but more than that--I've wished I was as cheerfully adaptable as I believed I was.

So. Over and over, I grab myself by the collar and shake myself a bit. When I catch myself wishing, doing the ol, "Calgon, take me away," thing (yes, even escaping to the bathtub at times), I stop. Just stop in whichever room I happen to be and firmly tell myself, "Debra, get a grip. Get proactive. Get a plan."

And then I fix things. For example, rather than trying to write blog posts here while Tom's shoot 'em up tv shows blare three feet away (making me wear headphones with music playing, now hearing gunfire and music ) I, instead, write here while Tom is sleeping. Or away at doctor appointments and errands or while he's quietly reading the newspaper. I mean, why create frustration when I can avoid it?

And when I stopped wishing for my own room downstairs (and stopped complaining that the formica table in the bay window just was. not. working.), a terrific idea popped into my head. Why not create a desk area at our hoosier cabinet, instead? When I need time alone and some quiet, I can pull the pocket doors closed between the dining room and living room, sit at the hoosier and softly play my record albums at my feet. And now I love that area.

Moving some of my workload to 6:30 a.m. Cooking a few meals ahead. Picking-up all day with no words, just (glad) acceptance. Changes, changes. Is the list endless, I wonder?

And yet plugging away at what is bugging me, discovering one solution at a time and creatively fixing what's making me bonkers instead of zapping my mental strength with wishing and nagging (causing more problems)--that's the way to go, I'm finding. For me, anyway.

After all, where there's a will there is a way. My mother used to tell me that, too.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Of Secret Egg and Film Messages

Odd title, I know.

The afternoon before Thanksgiving I stepped to the refrigerator for some eggs so to whip-up two pumpkin pies. Yet when I opened the styrofoam egg carton, all that greeted me were empty egg shells.

Funny, Tom. Thanks for that. (heh)

But then I glanced at the inside of the lid and in swirly letters was stamped this phrase: "Good morning, Beautiful!" Awww... I whispered, "Good morning to you, too," and then thanked the egg company for thoughtfully including such a sweet message.

Fortunately we'd picked up some eggs at Aldi's so I retrieved them from the fridge, opened the lid and alas! Twelve lovely whole eggs and in small script along the lid's bottom were these words--

"This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24"

Wow. The sun shining through the window became even brighter. A real-live Bible verse inside a carton of eggs, from Aldi's of all places! And there within my kitchen God reminded me, truly, He is everywhere.

And while I cracked open three eggs, I remembered that, 29 years ago just before I mailed away some film to be developed (recall those days?), I slipped a piece of paper inside with a Bible verse. I'd recently heard a sermon which encouraged us to fling God's Word out everywhere to a hurting world.

Well, two weeks later when the photos arrived inside our post office box, I opened the company's envelope and there, in tiny script stamped just below the flap were two Bible verses. I think my heart skipped one beat! This was a secular photo company, yet an employee had taken the time to pass along divine words of encouragement just for me, almost like a secret correspondence between Christians, a reminder that Christians are everywhere, too.

We are not out there by ourselves, alone.

Twenty-nine years later I've never forgotten. That's the sort of thing which stays with you for always, for God's Word is like that and obedience and kindness travel deep into areas of the heart, making changes, many which last forever.


Never, ever believe that your God-given gifts and ministry must reach and touch huge numbers of people. What is huge to God is simple, unquestioning obedience to His most simple requests.


Looks like other people appreciate Goldhen eggs' Bible verse, also. Go here to read some comments.


Thanks so much for your anniversary good wishes here and at Facebook! What a treat they were to Tom and myself.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

If Forever Was Like Today

Today was one of those days that makes me think, "If suddenly! Tom, Naomi, our collective cats and I were sucked into a sort of Twilight Zone vortex where, for the rest of our lives, we must remain inside this old farmhouse, living just as we lived today, just us three, ourselves, well, I could do that. Contentedly and with a heart full of gratitude. For the remainder of my days upon Earth."

That's how wonderful was our Thanksgiving. And Tom's and my anniversary.

I hope your day was even nicer.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkins and Coupons and Anniversaries, Oh My!

So we're at 38 sunny, though chilly degrees this afternoon, but a dear friend from the hometown we visited on vacation stated on Facebook that they are at a mere 5 degrees. Oy! So you'll hear no complaints about our nippiness (which suddenly feels not so nippy).

Speaking of Facebook, did you know you can sign- up with people like Coupon Dad or Money Saving Mom (etc.) and they'll give you links on your home page for coupons and such? Already I've received my free Purina One (good sized) pouch from Walmart and next they will send me a free serving of vanilla -flavored coffee. Thanks to Money Saving Mom for those. And just moments ago, because of Coupon Dad, I downloaded two coupons which will each get me $1 off of a cute little box of Birds Eye vegetables.

Just thought I'd mention yet one more great thing about Facebook. 

Oh! And regarding all the leftover printed paper below the coupons I print -- I cut that into semi-uniform pieces (approximately 3 x 8 inches), stacking them, then staple them together at the top so to make tablets for scribbling notes.  Great for shopping lists, bookmarks, notes for family members, etc.

I just got in from my petrified garden where I wrestled a pumpkin from its vine so I could slice it, then bake it for pumpkin puree for pies. I followed Mary Jane Butter's 'recipe' from the latest issue of her magazine--I've not made my own pumpkin puree in probably 21 years.

(Whenever I need to recall how long ago something was, I always ask myself, "How old was Naomi at that time?" and then figure the difference between her age then and now. Does anyone else measure time by the ages of your children?)

And lastly, tomorrow is not only Thanksgiving, of course, but it's also Tom's and my 32nd anniversary. Wow. Thirty-two long, hard years as we are known to joke to each other. ツ


Happy Thanksgiving to you, my Readers! On this Thanksgiving Eve, I am thankful for you.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Of Entering From a Peaceful Place

So. Remember when I told you how I'd earned $6.80 from Opinion Outpost and I showed you the photos of items I'd bought for such a tiny amount? Well, on Saturday I sent away for my first check from Opinion Outpost for a whole $22.80.

I am thrilled. In fact, that day I also signed-up with Survey Mastermind where you can join lots of other survey websites and earn more money and things like gift cards from Amazon.com.

And the day before that? Well, for years, two of our credit card companies had been sending little catalogs showing us what we could buy with our reward credits. I peeked at a catalog and saw that for, like, 3,000,000 reward credits you, too!, could be the proud owner of two wine glasses. Of course, I shook my head and muttered, "Big deal. I could find those at a yard sale for 50 cents each. Besides, we don't even drink wine."  シ

Then I tossed the catalog and laughed at our thousands of reward credits. "What a scam," I mused.

Well. Being part of a jobless twosome makes you lots more sensitive to give-aways and such. So on Friday I actually read through one of those catalogs and saw that, aha! I could use our years' worth of rewards for cash. Good ol' American currency, not just silly, overpriced wine glasses.

So I went online, signed up there with our two credit cards and soon two checks for $85, total, will grace our mailbox. And when you add that to my Opinion Outpost check, well, hey! That's a whole $107.80 in one weekend. Kinda. Plus, there was the nearly $40 I saved at the supermarket with specials and coupons (paying $70, not $110).

I so get workaholics now. This money-making thing really can become addictive once you start making it, huh? 

But you know? Someday, oh dear, I just may have to go out and get a real job and part of me says to that, "Eww! Sputter, cough, gag, don't-wanna-and-what-am-I-qualified-for-anyway-sputter-sputter."

Yet here's what I'm thinking today, perhaps just to prepare my head for that possibility: If I must work outside our home, may I enter the workforce from a peaceful place. May I go out singing, not writhing. May I expect to be joyfully surprised rather than walk in with a heart spilling dread.

May I expect God's amazing help, rather than my own failure.

Whatever I do, today or whenever--be it shopping in crowded places or going to the dentist or spending time with difficult people--may I enter each open door from a peaceful place within me. 


Oh! And I forgot to mention this money-saving hint which our friend, Darcy from Nevada told us about during her October visit. She said a friend of hers, in her checkbook, always rounds her checks up, not up or down accordingly. And each year, she uses the few hundred dollars extra to go on vacation(!) Now, if I could just remember to do that.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Mornings 'Round Here

"His mercies are new every morning..."


Often, I awake during the night to check the alarm clock. "Is it time to get up yet?" I ask myself in anticipation.

And sometimes it's only 4:30 but I'll arise anyway. In the darkness, I slip into my slipper-shoes and then silently lift my robe from the hook behind the door.

I step into the lamp light of the kitchen and think, "It's morning!" And into my head pops all that that means:

Making and drinking my hot chocolate while I watch the dear people on our local news, the ones who make me laugh in between the bad and good news. Sitting with Lennon on my blanket-layered lap, scratching his ears and drinking my chocolate and then leaning back in the recliner.

Then I'll check my email, my blog and my Facebook for comments and concerns from others and I'll click upon my blogroll for your new thoughts (and be inspired). Maybe the news will still be playing or maybe by now I've got headphones over my head while listening to Joyce Meyer and learning from her on stage, even after 16 years. 

Usually I'm munching a bowl of Mom's Best cereal in all the anointing.

Darkness still reigns outside, but I grab my coat from our living room closet and tiptoe past the bedroom, through the kitchen then out to the back porch and down the driveway (breathing deeply of country air) and to the mailbox where Tom's newspaper waits. Then back to the house, the tiptoeing, the putting away of my coat and the paper.

Maybe I'll write here, in my blog. By now, Time is growing short so I hurry through my words (sorry). But the inspiration usually does arrive right before the cats must be fed, which I do quietly, and then straighten some rooms in more silence and prepare Tom's before-breakfast snack, always the same; two prunes, five almonds and 1/2 cup orange juice. Good for him and he likes it, year following year.

By now Time is pouring from between my fingers and I stand at the bay windows in morning light to see if all is right with my side yard world and squeeze some grateful thoughts from my brain. Lennon sits upon my table in the windows and we both watch the early birds. "Hurry and enjoy this," I think to myself.

And then it's time to awaken Tom.

Yet, even then, my mind skips ahead to when I'll have Second Breakfast (remember that from Lord of the Rings?), which is just coffee and toast at 10:30, but so much more. That will be my coffee break, after having made Tom's oatmeal and zipping through some housework, but it's my time there in the windows. Or rather, His and mine, our time for books and scribbling notes and staring at the trees and yard and the late birds.

Morning after new morning after new morning.

No wonder I so often check that alarm clock in the night.


Though I should be honest and add that, on the occasions when my routine gets messed with (as in, when Tom gets up way too early), I've been known to become quite the cranky little lady.

Yes, me. :)

And on yard sale mornings, Second Breakfast gets moved to afternoon. But I'm ok with that.


"My voice will come to you in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I send my prayer to you, and keep watch." ... Psalm 5:3


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Inspiration For Others Of You Artist Types

Oh, the inspiration!

Tom and I just now finished watching the documentary, Amargosa.

Wow. You've got to love a 1960's ballet dancer who moves to a desert town (pop. 10, at least as of 1999) from NYC, leases the abandoned theater, paints her own audience upon the walls and then dances upon the stage for the next forty years! 

Oh my, she inspires all who visit her theater in literally the middle of nowhere, also known as Death Valley Junction.

To get just a taste of what we saw, here's a youtube video.

We watched Amargosa on the instant view thingamajig at Netflix. My only quibble was with the part about the residing ghosts, but it was easy to skip that chapter.

No bad language, no s-e-x, just lots and lots of artistic inspiration to do whatever God has called you to do. To do it faithfully, with joy, year after year, with or without an audience.

At least, I came away with all that.


"Just do it."


Couponing Grace Returns

Living in Opposite World is amazing. So is Grace, of course, but you already knew that.

Since I recovered from the shock of Tom's losing his job, these have been the Best of Times. See? Opposite World stuff. I think you're supposed to be miserable when your main income source disappears, right?

Back in 1995, I led two Saturday homemaking seminars at our church. A couple other women and I shared how to organize your home and we gave ideas for decorating, letter-writing and how to save money with coupons and refunding, etc.

The oddest thing, ever, happened while I spoke about the coupons. There I was, standing beside my display of items I'd bought cheaply at CVS, using coupons, and explaining how refunding worked, when mysteriously! All my years of coupon anointing, all the excitement of saving money this way, drained down, down into my shoes.

It felt like a balloon deflated within me. In one moment, after fifteen years of saving money with this method, coupons became BOR-ing. Yet I had to finish my rehearsed little speech anyway. Rough and, again, odd.

And afterward? Well, in the fifteen years since, I mailed maybe only five (ten?) refund offers and used coupons at the market just sort-of willy-nilly, when I felt like it or could remember to bring some along.

Mostly, Couponing Grace drained away into an abyss back there in 1995.

But guess what? She's BAAAaack.

You are now reading the blog of a Coupon Queen returned. Coupon Grace lives inside my head again because, well, she knows I need her. Now's the time for ol' Debra to do her part so to stretch the family finances.

The coupon anointing returned three weeks ago, making the whole deal a pleasure, as when I was a young Mrs. in my 20's and 30's. And now, wow! We coupon grannies have it way easier than we did in the 1980's. If we need a coupon for Yogi's Yummy Yogurt, we can just Google that, adding the word 'coupons' and voila! Sometimes there will appear a coupon just asking to be printed and whisked away to the supermarket. Even coupons for healthy food. Organic stuff, also.

Love that. Lots easier than in the Wild West Days of couponing. Trust me.

Don't you just love Grace? You can rely on her. She knows when to stay, when to leave and gives the clearest of directions just by being there--or by being gone.

She should design road maps on the side.  シ


Want to share your favorite coupon website?


Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Nighttime Dreams

There are people living inside my head.

No, really.

When I began this blog six long years ago, my nightly dreams changed to, basically, only one kind. And all these years later? They're still the same ol,' same ol' kind. Not boring, but nice, actually. Just, well, predictable.

I can tell you what I will dream about tonight. Crowds of people will be walking around, some of them I met as a teen or as a young wife, mother or middle-aged whatever-I-am-at-this-moment. Others I've never, ever met--my head makes them up, but they feel quite real (oddly, as a writer, I can't do that well while I'm awake).

Always, these crowds and I wander through churches, schools, malls, my house or someone else's large home. And what do we all do? Well, nothing, exactly. We stand around, sometimes with snack plates, and talk to one another a bit. I like it best when those people let me chatter about Jesus, but that only happens sometimes.

Or we stand around and watch everybody else chatting.

Or sometimes the big drama of the night will be that so-and-so is trying to find his mother in the crowd and have we seen her? So we point to where mother is standing and then so-and-so walks over and stands by her. And he becomes part of another conversing circle.

And that's about as exciting as it gets. But always, it's the myriad people everywhere that never varies. 

Thousands of dreams where nothing much happens, just pleasantness. Fellowship. Just whole crowds smiling, laughing, sharing, hugging.

And in a way, those dreams of mine feel like tiny pre-Heaven glimpses, though without the extreme joy. But there's that light and that comradeship and the reunions! All those reunions night after night upon my pillow.

And lately? I'm thinking God heavily peoples my dreams because I'm alone so much during the day. You know, always with my ear aimed toward Him for blog fodder. So while living this 'writer's life' I'm never lonely because I feel, oh my, that I spent hours with whole crowds of people and isn't it marvelous now to have time alone for myself?

Or something like that.  ツ


Friday, November 12, 2010

Of Relevancy

"Relevant: having direct bearing on the matter in hand; pertinent."


Years ago, a Sunday School teacher in our church took up a new cause: he declared we should all use only the King James version of the Bible. Just the original version, not any updated KJ Bibles, either. Everybody, all the time.

He got pretty obnoxious about it and after some weeks I asked him, "You're expecting even teenagers to read only the King James, at home, during their quiet time, alone?"


"But there are many difficult passages and outdated wording! They'd have to read it with a dictionary beside them."

"So where's the problem? Let them use a dictionary then."


And now often I see people online saying they've decided paper-and-pen letter writing, phone calls and actual same-room contact are the only forms of real communication. And how online technology has killed true, personal intimacy.

("Danger, danger, Will Robinson! In-the-box thinking!") :)

Actually, I'm writing more "letters" than ever. You should see the thousands of emails in my 'sent folder.' You probably have thousands in yours, too.

I grew-up in churches and around folks who always wished to move backward. New ideas and modern ways of doing things? Never as good as the old ways and ancient days. So they just ignored anything unfamiliar and held onto their ancient methods.

That's how churches die, you know.

From the time I was 16 until I was 36 I wrote hundreds of pen-and-paper letters each year. Honey, I was one passionate snail-mail correspondent. But at age 40 I went online, wrote hundreds of emails yearly, instead--and never glanced back.

Often I pray for relevancy.

Nobody will ever convince this modern world to return to old-fashioned letter writing (barring a historical-sized sabotage of all things computer-related). We're in this technological world too deep. Facebook and Twitter-style communication will thrive, probably evolving to something else in the future.

I've faced that. 

So what remains is for me to discover ways to stay relevant in other peoples' lives. To use email and Facebook (etc.) as the amazing tools of communication which they can be. God certainly isn't telling me to evolve backward in my communication, but rather, He asks me to move forward as He does. In Love. 

Real love is all about relevancy--it reaches and stretches so to care best for others. 

Relevancy always flows, moves forward, discovers new ways to adapt to others rather than making others adapt to it. And Love finds the most relevant way to share this one most vital message: Jesus loves me this I know.

What remains is for me to follow that Love. With relevance.


If you enjoy old-fashioned pen and paper correspondence, more power to you! I do still mail the occasional letter, though I most often type them. Of course, letter-writing purists would cry foul about that, but then, those purists don't have to decipher my handwriting. :)

What I'm saying is please don't insist the whole world does as you do.


"Anything is what I make of it."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Of Validation

Hmmm... I so hope I strike the right balance with this one.

A friend at Facebook shared this youtube video.  It's the one where people in the parking garage go to get their ticket validated, but the guy behind the desk validates the people, instead. He tells them they look marvelous. They're under-appreciated by other folks, they wear stylish clothes, are often misunderstood and are a terrific help to society. Soon a line forms all the way out to the street, a line of people desperate for validation. 

A cute idea, an uplifting one. Made me smile.

But. It makes me sad, too. Putting such power into the hands of other people! The power of how I feel about myself. Yikes.

It reminds me of when I felt I was just a mom, nothing else, starving for validation from other people. In fact, one morning I sat slumped on the couch watching Mr. Rogers and when he looked into the camera and said, "You are special. I like you just the way you are," well, I cried.

Such was my desperation.

Thank-goodness, thank God, all that drama feels like a million years ago and a whole other person ago, too. Why? Because now I get my validation from God. Now He tells me I did a great job and that He appreciates my obedience. My affection. He tells me I'm special.

It's rather like this Bible verse:

"But David encouraged himself in the Lord." I Samuel 30:6

I blogged about that verse before, but truly, my world changed when I learned to encourage myself in God. When I responded to hard times by running to the Throne rather than to the phone (as my favorite teacher says). 

Now, everything looks and feels brighter--and again--thank God that the desperate neediness is gone.

Yet of course there's this: We all do still need to encourage one another. God tells us to be kind, encourage folks and put others before ourselves. In fact, our words can sometimes form a bridge between a person's self-hatred and self-acceptance until they're able to call to God for help, themselves. 

I get that. And I like to think He encourages others through me, through this blog, even.

But what do I value even more? I love to teach others how to encourage themselves in God, how to unearth their worth and value in Him, not through pats on the backs from mere (highly changeable) mortals. Mortals who can just as easily, if we allow them, destroy what they built days or months before.

As for me and my mental health? I will go to God for my major source of validation. He's always there, rather like that guy behind the desk in that youtube video, but 24/7. Daytime, nighttime, doesn't matter. And He'll tell me the truth, which is more vital than made-up-stuff just to make me feel better. He'll be kind, though.

I don't wish to hand over that type of power to other fallible, often-too-busy-for-me people.


"In Christ alone
I place my trust
And find my glory in the power of the cross
In every victory
Let it be said of me
My source of strength
My source of hope
Is Christ alone." ... Lyrics by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Link While I'm Un-Procrastinating

Busy, busy this morning doing what I've procrastinated, whispering my mantra, "Just do it. Just do it." 

I must take the occasional day like this so to lighten the burden inside my head. You know, to make all the nagging voices go away ("You really should have _____ today." " You've put off writing that email for two weeks!" "Have you seen that ring around the bathtub?")

I may be back here later today, but in the meantime, here is a sweet link for you: Ideas For Reusing Canning Jars. I think you'll enjoy the ideas and the photos.

I'll be back.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

From Coveting To Creating

So did you notice that huge (amazing/mysterious/awesome)house above?

And check out this one:

Where I live, those kinds of houses are everywhere. E-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. And ohhh, the temptations, the thoughts which swirl 'round inside my head when I drive past them:

"Ohhhhh! I want it. I want it bad."
"I could be so happy in that house."
"I neeeeeeed a house like that."

You know.

But thankfully, the older and wiser I become--although those above thoughts still do zip into my head--these thoughts also pop into my brain:

"Wow. What it must cost to heat that place!"
"Wow. What stamina it must require to clean that place."
"Wow. The repairs on that house--and all that yard work--would take everything we've got. Our whole souls, practically."

Trust me--I'm grateful for those thoughts, for they balance the initial, goosebumpy, coveting ones. And oh, how one needs balance and wisdom when one is talking houses, for houses are such a huge, time-and-money-consuming part of our lives.

But rather than just slapping my hand and saying, "No, Debra. Mustn't want what you cannot have. Mustn't crave that," I try to keep it all at a playful level. A dreamy, just-imagine-the-fun-parts level. How would I decorate the many rooms inside that huge house? How would I feel while living there? How would I make my guests feel comfortable? What kinds of meals would I cook in the kitchen? What kinds of games or activities would we do there?"

I like to imagine all that, and then, bring the ideas back to Earth--and back to my own house. Downsized, ok, but still in a creative mode. How many of those ideas could I apply to my own (small, simple) house? How can I richly decorate today, even without money? How can I think differently about my own space? My own yard?

The game, the dreams, become more enjoyable that way--and within reach. To go from coveting to creating is, as Martha would say, a Good Thing.

Monday, November 08, 2010

How Newness Keeps Me Writing

"... so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life." ... Romans 6:4


Now, you all know how I adore old-fashioned stuff. Practically my whole blog is dedicated to old-fashioned.

And yet, oh my, I do love the newness thing, too, as mentioned in the above verse. Newness of life! And the way God's mercies are new every morning.

That kind of new fascinates me. The God kind of newness keeps my blog going year after blogging year. Everyday is an opportunity to learn new ways to live and think and be, to find new methods for decorating, saving money and writing. New days in which to treat people better and to teach them what God's been teaching me.

"Behold, He makes all things new."

New, new, newness of life. Brand new. Every morning, afternoon, evening. Always, there's something new to write about--but only if I'm listening and keeping myself unstuck and my neck not twisting to the back, but rather, the front, so my eyes can look ahead and my ears can listen for what will be new tomorrow.


"Guard your heart with all diligence for out of it flows the issues of Life." ... Proverbs 4:23

I mentioned my grandfather yesterday on his 105th birthday and here is my favorite picture of him and my grandmother. I've shared it before, but well, I never tire of it:


And I really love my autumnal photo at the top of this post. It seems to be moving (yes, it was taken from our moving car) and the tree on the right is raising his arm, as though he's trying to speak. It's like a frame from Disney's Fantasia, or something. Well, to me it's like that. Enlarge it and see what you think. :)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Book Gifts From God & Two Great Links

One of my first thoughts when Tom was downsized?

"Drats. No more ordering books online. I'll just have to borrow/request them from the library."

And ok, that's not sooo bad, especially when you have an adorable tiny library in your adorable tiny town. But I just don't get down there much (I'm not sure why). Yet I was willing to make changes, return to my old way of reading books--just borrowing, not keeping.

But then God came along. More than ever since August 31st (D Day around our house), He's led me to sales with perfect books at perfect prices. More often than before D Day, even.

See the book presents He gave me yesterday?:

Plus one more, a back-to-the-land/wilderness book(!) called Arctic Daughter by Jean Aspen (NancyR--do you have that one? Look it up if you don't, ok?) :)

All seven books cost me just $3.50, total. Combined. That's less than the price of shipping on one book from amazon.com. And just driving down to the library a few times to pick up these books which, most likely, I'd have to request through the inter-library loan, would cost that much in gas.

So I am blessed and God keeps blessing me, but only when I rely on Him for my needs and wants and not when I huff and puff and force and pry open and make things happen from plans and schemes from my own head.

I am blessed when I do not lead, but rather, when I follow. He always knows exactly where the best books, friends, blogs, churches, stores, sales, jobs, houses, etc., are waiting for me.


At the Youngstown library book sale, I stood at the table and thumbed through the gorgeous 'children's book', A Year Is A Window, and gasped at the lovely, zip-you-to-your-childhood artwork. I thought, "Oh! These drawings are like those calendars from Woman's Day magazine, the ones I've lost over the years but wished I could find again." And later, in the car, I read that yes! Erik Blegvad's amazing illustrations first appeared in a 1963 issue of Woman's Day Magazine. Alas.

You remember those little calendar booklets, right?


Oh! Just found this: Ten Habits of Happy Moms. Loved it. Please don't miss this if you have small children at home.


And if you dream of farming, you'll love this post describing Jenna's farm morning.


Great listeners make great followers.


Friday, November 05, 2010

Of Communication

Something so odd happened when Tom and I first arrived at this old farm.

Our communication got broken in the move (!) I mean, married 30 years, yet suddenly, we couldn't even understand what each other was saying.

I told Tom, "How about if you store that box in the barn closet."

"You mean in the chicken coop?"

"No. In the barn closet."

"Where's that?"

"Gah! It's that other little room inside the barn. The only other room in there. Downstairs, anyway."

"Oh. You mean that storage room in the back."

Multiply that by 200 other such conversations.

We'd practically stare at each other and not even understand what the other person was mouthing. And this after whole decades of marriage!

I think this new place with the huge yard did it, the stress of moving, period, plus all the things one must do when one moves--and doing all that at mid-life. We used to move all the time--when we were young. Big difference there, also.

So. We began naming everything. We sat at our table and gave all the areas of the barn, the yard and even the rooms of the house specific names. A terrific idea, that one.

We also slowed our brains, hands and bodies. We stopped trying to create a whole new world in, like, six days. Only God can do that.

Re-communicating is what I'm calling it. Learning how to speak differently in a new phase of Life.

It's a keen idea for friendships, also. Like, if I receive an email from a friend which sounds as though she's mad at (innocent little ol') me, well, I ask her about that. I could sit at my computer for a month, muttering, "Just what did she mean by that?! And here I've always been so nice to her!" But instead, I ask her about her words. Kindly.

Or if she's not emailed me in ages, rather than assume she's too busy for friendship with (poor, misunderstood) me, I email her and ask if everything's ok over her way. Perhaps her life is falling apart, too sad to even write about.

It's not always about me. I'm still learning that.

Life becomes sweeter when, actually, we make it all about others and do what we can to make their lives easier. Even if it means speaking and doing things a whole other way.


And here's a hilarious post by Judy about another miscommunication.


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Of Pumpkins and Krill Oil

Wow. My garden gave me 16 pumpkins this year. Definitely a record, for last year I grew just ten, though I was thrilled with that since I'd not grown pumpkins in, oh, 17 years or so. That's also the last time I made my own pumpkin puree for pies, but guess what I'll be doing again soon?


Once again I must voice my praises of krill oil. Oh. My. Goodness. How wonderful to remember what a full night's sleep feels like! How marvelous to awaken at 3:00 a.m. and feel sooo tired rather than oh-so-awake.

In the past four months I've slept better than I have the past four years. Honest. And on the rare occasion when I awaken around 2 a.m. (because most likely I ignored my conscience and ate something I ought not have) I just get up, take another krill oil--counting it as my daytime one(I take two each 24 hours)--and fall back to sleep soon.

I've still yet to find a better price than I do at VitaCost online. We buy the 300 softgel bottle (1,000 mg.'s) and they're shipped to my mailbox at the speed of light (nearly). And they're always rewarding us with some kind of reduced price offer.

So I highly recommend both krill oil and VitaCost. Not only am I sleeping better, but my memory is much-improved, too. Thank-goodness (was getting worried there for awhile). And it would improve even more if I'd get out and walk around the block like I used to kinda-daily in the burbs. Fresh air and exercise are supposed to help with the ol' memory as well. I do ramble around our pasture and meadow a bit, but that's not quite enough (I'd be too self-conscious to walk in circles and circles around each one) and Tom's been mowing the lawn more frequently (so I'm mowing less--and loving my yard and house more), not that I'm complaining about that, certainly! I just need to push myself into getting out more.


Tom is meeting with an unemployment counselor today. He's thinking perhaps he'll look into finishing his online courses from Franklin Univ. for his bachelor degree in computer science. We shall see what we shall see. :)