Monday, September 30, 2013

'Non-House-People' Won't Get This


Yesterday I did something I probably shouldn't have, but I didn't want to give into fear and -- Well, let me back up a bit.

See this storybook-like house?

Tom and I drove past it weeks ago, it stole my heart and will not give it back. It's for sale--only $69,000. I looked it up online and saw just a few photos, there was an open house and--although tempted--I skipped it.
But this weekend they added more photos, ones like these:
(I can just see my Fiesta Ware on those shelves.)
... and they were holding another open house(!) Ohhh... the temptation! Both to go and to stay home for fear this house would take over my heart some more.
(This is the second dining area and it has incredible woodsy views like this:)
 So I went--it's just a mile, or so, from us (but feels decades and country miles away). I went alone, since Tom was deeply involved in the Bills' game.
And just as I knew would happen, I fell hopelessly in love.
I stepped into this 1927 house and whoosh! It whisked me back to the 20's and simpler times and quiet and incredible greenery from the 40 (or so) windows, views probably not much changed since the house's beginning.
Four bedrooms (each with large closets), one downstairs. A half bath downstairs, a full bath upstairs done in the prettiest tile I'd ever seen--a sort of iridescent robin's egg blue with a hint of light green. A small conservatory-type room with windows on 3 sides and French doors on the 4th, a formal dining room plus another dining room with two windowed walls looking out into woods and the grassy extra lot.
Anyway,  I came home and Tom very graciously agreed to go back and see
the house with me. And it went just as I thought it would. Tom loved it, too, but he saw every single thing that's wrong with it.
No garage. And not a single new window. The floors need refinishing. We'd have to have a curved, concrete driveway poured in front of the house leading to a small (un-built) garage on the side. New storm doors. And the biggest deal breaker? It needs a whole new kitchen--all that's there are those shelves, above, and a sink beside a dishwasher with a tiny, crooked counter top over it.
Sigh. All stuff we've had done over and over on other houses. Stuff which makes us tired just thinking about doing again. If it was in a super nice neighborhood? Maybe. And if we were 15 years younger? Definitely.
I guess it all comes down to wisdom, because it's not really an issue of money at this moment--we'd own it outright, but for years, every spare penny would be poured into that house. Yet once you've been laid-off and once you've hit your mid-50's, you become more careful and more conscious of darn ol' reality.
Right about now I'm sounding like a good sport, but oh dear. On the way home Tom said "How about if we find a house like that, but one that's already updated?" and I was like, "Oh yeah, sure... there are updated dream-come-true houses like that one on every corner! And why is it that other people can live happily in a house for 100 years just like it is, but we can't?"
Then I stepped into our house (which appeared tinier than usual) in a frenzied, spoiled-brat frame of mind (ack!) and while Tom finished watching the game (oblivious to my frenzy), I looked-up houses online in all towns near us for even $50,000 higher and found nothing at all similar. One house, though, came close--old, all updated beautifully--but no bedrooms downstairs (make the dining room into Tom's bedroom?) and it looks like it was plopped down on a golf course (maybe because the trees are naked, the house feels like that and where are all the gorgeous views I want?), plus, it's on a busy street in a part of town I've never felt 'right' in:
Only if you are a 'house person' will you understand this post. And yes, I'm still very grateful for Hobbit Cottage!
But the fact remains, some houses capture my heart even without a stick of furniture in them and well, I've never lived in one of those. The houses we buy are ones I must make special, myself, with paint and furniture and research and work and--. The challenge is wonderful for me--I realize that. It's taught me so much more living in these regular ol' houses than I'd have learned in ones which steal your soul when you step into them, empty.
Maybe I'll have to wait until Heaven--I know.
I know. I know. I know.
But just bear with me while I'm in recovery, ok? It requires time for a girl to return to 2013 after she spent a dreamy day in 1927.
Here's a peek inside that last house I shared (they're asking $94,000... maybe I won't write it off just yet):

Oh, and if you're wondering about all the lawn of the Storybook House, we'd have paid someone to mow it. Definitely:
The cool thing? This has become another house I can, inside my head, walk around its rooms anytime I wish. I can decorate them, rest in them, dream in them.
"The heart wants what it wants."   ... copied

Saturday, September 28, 2013

God Comes Through Again

Oh happy day. Three Lois Lenski's and one Scholastic all at a church rummage sale this morning. God saved them in that box for me--I just know He did--the Lenski's being my second chance for, years ago, I became too ruthless and sent my few copies to Salvation Army, thinking, "I'll just borrow her books from the library should the reading urge arrive." Well, years later, I no longer visit libraries, but rather,, both for books in the mail and free ebooks for my free Kindle Cloud Reader. But Lenski's in my hands! Nothing beats that.

Thank-you to You know who You are.



"Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I."   ... more from Isaiah 58

(A sweet, tiny cosmos from my yard.)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Places For You to Go

Y'all know how I enjoy peeking at tiny houses online and well, here's one I found this afternoon:

The high ceilings help and I do like everything except, well, the bedroom would make me feel claustrophobic. But again, it's fun to see where others live and imagine living there, asking myself if I have the bravery to give away all the extras to which I'm accustomed. (My usual answer is, "I don't think so.")


Oh, and I found this awesome thing (but some might think it eerie):

Deceased Grandma Lives On In Google Street View

I remember telling you that I longed to see my grandparents' former house (they now live in Heaven) through the street view thing, but it wouldn't take me down the long driveway where their house (and others) stood. So really... I'd have loved to have my grandparents immortalized this way so that I could 'drive by' and visit them anytime online. Happy sigh.


Did you know that Netflix recently added seasons 3 and 4 of Hoarding: Buried Alive?  (Guess what I've been watching, though fast-forwarding through the parts with strife)?  :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thoughtfulness. Before We Forget.

"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom."  ... James 3:13


Don't you just love thoughtful people?

I'm thinking they're becoming a rare breed.

But perhaps we've all been spinning around the Fast Track so long that we've forgotten how to be thoughtful. Maybe?

So here are a few ideas to jar our memories, ideas to hopefully inspire us to return to thoughtfulness, something I'm thinking delights God's heart.

1. When wishing people a happy birthday in a card or phone call or on Facebook, add a customized thought/compliment which will make them feel special and appreciated. That extra sentence can make someone's day/whole Life feel brighter.

2. If someone wishes to borrow money, give them a bit more than they asked for. (Sounds ludicrous? Check this out: "If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."   ... Matthew 5:41,42)

3. Ask people if there's a way you can help.

4. Offer to babysit for a young couple. Maybe even give them money to go on a date.

5.  Arrive a bit early wherever you go.

6.  Donate to local food shelters or thrift shops. Or volunteer in your community or church.

7. Allow people to go before you in the check-out lane of any type of store.

8.  Motion for walkers to cross in front of your vehicle.

9.  Wave to strangers. Smile at everyone you pass by and say hello.

10.  Keep watch on Facebook for those who need encouragement and then ask God to give you the right words.

11.  Sometimes mow your neighbors' lawn for them or shovel their snow.

12.  Mail a card of appreciation to an old friend.

13.  If you're good at something, offer to teach someone else what you've learned.

14.  If your electric bill offers a way where you can help others in need, add those extra few dollars.

15.  Whenever you come across people in Real Life or online who've just lost a loved one, offer your condolences whether you know them well, or not. Even one sincere, "I'm sorry this has happened," can mean so much. 

16.   Offer to walk your neighbor's dog or babysit their pets (water their plants? Watch their house?) if they go on vacation.

17.   Invite a friend to your house for coffee or go out with her to a shop to catch up.

18.  Pay for the coffee (etc.) of people behind you in drive-through lines.

19.  Compliment families in restaurants whose children behave well.

20.  Spend a year trying to do at least one kind thing for others each day of that year.

One reason I feel Christians nowadays aren't as happy as they used to be? They've (we've) gotten away from thoughtfulness.

Just a thought. (No one go all ballistic on me, ok?)  :)


"Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]."   ... Philippians 2:3

 (I love this verse. It totally explains something that began happening to me probably 15 years ago:

Each time I'm tempted to do even good-appearing tasks out of insecurity or an "I'll show them!" attitude, God immediately convicts me big-time. Nails my attitude and won't let me do those good-appearing deeds either at all--or--until later after my heart changes its motives.)


“Goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.”
...Dennis Prager

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Drudgery Be Gone!

This post nags comes to me each time I (or other Christian friends) complain about hating jobs or appointments or errands. Oh, to learn to receive Grace, instead!

The book, It's Incredible, told this story: Ann Kiemel went to interview a 72-year-old woman, an artist, and found her doing some landscaping in her backyard. Lifting big rocks, to be exact. The woman told her that she loved to garden and when Ann asked her what was her favorite thing in Life, the woman replied, "Manure. Because everything grows so well in it."

And then Ann asked the woman what kinds of things she disliked, as in chores such as washing dishes or vacuuming or making beds.

The elderly woman frowned. "Dislike? Whatever there is to be done--I like it!"

Oh my... I read that when I was a 20-something mother and wham! That one sentence blazed itself upon my brain for, back then, I disliked half my chores, most of my errands and all of my appointments.

Yet when I read that one page in Ann's book, I yearned to be like that artist--not just when I reached my 70's, either--but starting right away.

Be careful what you desire.

Twenty years later, that desire has taken me on one mighty long adventure. I've had to let God change my attitude about housework, errands and everything else known as 'work' or inconvenience. He's had to correct me about dreading things and complaining, both which yank me backward to mediocrity. I've had to pull every speck of Good and God from mundane tasks while seeking to enjoy this long journey called Loving Every Day. 

Mostly, I've had to learn how to receive Grace and God's presence. And it's all been so worth it.

They say 90% of our lives is made up of Everyday Stuff, the simple (or complicated) daily, ordinary 'grind.' And well, how sad to someday reach Heaven only to admit we hated 90% of the life God gave us!
The other 10%? Those are the fun things: parties, vacations and days-at-the-beach type of activities or whatever else floods us with happy anticipation. The easy, don't-require-Grace to enjoy stuff. 

And now after 20 years of seeking to receive Grace for any activity not naturally delight-filled, I can almost say, like Ann's elderly woman, "Whatever there is to be done, I like it!"

Well, I'm closer than I used to be, anyway, to enjoying 100% of my days. These things take time, you know. :)

Yet I've discovered that, for me, there's no better, richer way to live than to learn to receive Grace. For everything.

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need"   ... Hebrews 4:16.

"So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work..." ... Ecclesiastes 3:22


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Monday And The Remarkable Car Hours

“I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

So yesterday Tom got off work early, came and picked me up, then we drove over the (scary) New York thruway to that dark, though-many-windowed doctor building so he could have another of his back injections. Remember when I forgot my reading glasses last time? Well, I certainly triple-checked this time that I had them.

But yesterday! No snow anywhere, just gleaming sunlight, though we had 58 degrees and a crisp breeze, so I sat out in the bright car, reading, the entire 3 1/2 hours.

It felt like a day at the beach.

I'd brought my stuffed book bag and a thermos of hot chocolate and at one point I did venture inside that Bat-Cave-like building for a tiny bag of cheesey Ruffles from the machine, but hurried back outside to The Exiles at Home, a book I'd bought months ago, yet hadn't read. I finished it and oh! Another delightful, unique read like its prequel, The Exiles.

I'd actually anticipated these car hours. Why? There's just something about sitting inside a sunny car on a Monday afternoon in September, gazing around at acres of trees beginning to switch colors. There's something about becoming too warm inside a car yet simultaneously feeling a crisp, cool breeze through opened windows upon your arms and watching people walk past your windshield, many hobbling with canes. And feeling invisible, yet praying for them.

And really? There's just something about deciding to feel happy during a nearly 4-hour-wait away from technology and noise, spending that time sitting beside God in the driver's seat, which He is, you know, when we rise out of it, ourselves, and give Him that place.

Any day, even a Monday, becomes a memorable experience simply by searching for wonder until we find it, until we find Him. Then appreciating that we're still alive in this color-infused, autumnal world which God created for His kids so very long ago, a world where He meant for us to dwell in love, not hate, to forgive, not to hold grudges, to take responsibility for our worried thoughts, rather than blame others for them.

A certain daily, unshakeable type of happiness comes that way, at least, I've found that to be so.


"Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him."   ... Psalm 34:8

“I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.”
Albert Einstein


Tom and I arrived home and watched another couple Netflixed episodes of Person of Interest, Season 2. Anyone else enjoy this show as much as we do?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

It's All Good. Because of Him.

"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."   ... Psalm 16:11

Friday? Another enchanted day at Hobbit Cottage. I sat on the front porch in 67 soft, breezy degrees, stared at the sparkling blue river at our street's end then leaned my head back, closed my eyes and smiled with gratitude nearly oozing from my dangling fingers.

Then later while sitting upon The Red Couch, my eyes caught a movement outside the dining room windows and oh...! Look what perched upon one of the shepherd staff poles out there:

A large broad-winged hawk (except mine had a more beautiful breast, with more snowy white.) I stood at the windows, staring at him, then he lifted his great wings and danced upon the top of our hedge then sunk into them, perhaps hunting for sparrows (a few who were silly enough to stick around). Eventually he left and I sighed with happiness, though wishing Tom had been home to behold this gorgeous creature.
Life is so very good here. And yet? I realized something last night.
See,Tom and I are making our way through the 100 episodes available on Netflix of CSI New York, this being our middle-aged idea of high adventure. heh.

Anyway, in last night's episode, Mac nearly dies from a gunshot wound and while he's on the operating table he holds imaginary conversations with his CSI team. At one point, Jo (Sela Ward) asks Mac (who's believing he'll die soon), "What will you miss the most?"

And after he answered that he'd miss his team and his job, I suddenly asked myself, "What would I miss if I were to die?" And you know? My own list, also, was quite short, namely--people. I'd miss my favorite people (some of whom are reading this right now).

But all else? Hobbit Cottage and dear old Buffalo and estate-sale-stepping through old houses? Writing, decorating, sharing my heart and my photos? Living old-fashioned in a new-fangled world? Gorgeous, sunny days that make me feel 10 again? Autumn, lakes, mountains, drives through the countryside with Tom, morning coffee on the front porch? Favorite tv shows, movies, traveling in and out of state? Gardening, books, shopping? No, I mused. I wouldn't miss those much at all.

And I found that odd. The 'old Debra', even the new and improved one from 1994 and beyond, used to worry (a bit) that she held onto all those too tightly. That she wasn't ready to let go just yet, not until she swam around in Life a bit more, bought more, traveled more, taught more, played more, learned more.

Yet now, last night, I knew this to be true: God, now, means more to me than all the beautiful things this life affords. This moment-by-moment consciousness of Him which never leaves me, has become all I truly want. It's only He who makes this an amazing, satisfying world, after all, and--since I'll be taking Him with me to the next world--the same will hold true there.

As long as I have God, He who fills every void, I'll have no lack, no real need and besides people? I'd miss nothing much at all about this beautiful world which He created as a type of waiting place, a school, for His kids.

So Jo--not that you asked me--but if you had, there is my answer.


"He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’"

...   Luke 10:27


Yesterday it rained all day so we stayed home (except when I bought emergency cat food at 7-11) and didn't make it to a local bookstore I'd been meaning to visit again for literally years. So I ordered this book online, A Deadly Grind, instead. Now, I've not read it yet, but I thought some of you also might find it an interesting possibility.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Rampant Crime In My Community

Another summer rerun while it's still yet summer-- the lighter side of the news because the heavier side nowadays becomes way too sad. From September 2006.


These are from a local newspaper's Police Blotter section, a sort of collection of the lighter side of crime in our area. Tom and I had to laugh, and yet we both wished this was the only side of crime around here... or anywhere.

A _____ Blvd. resident complained that there were 10 teenagers hanging from tree branches near the playground and wanted them removed before the trees were damaged.

Suspicious people with a vehicle were reported on ____ Road. A man and a woman were in the vehicle taking videos of passing cars with a video recorder. They then removed items from the trunk and went into the park, the complainant said. Police learned they were aspiring artists making a home video.

A ____Lane resident was suspicious of a man wearing a hard hat and walking around in the backyard with a ladder. Police reported that he was a Time Warner Cable repairman.

A _____ Drive resident complained that his son's ex-girlfriend took out a lot of library books under his daughter's name and was refusing to take them back.

A person reported missing from a facility on ____ Road was never missing but in a different bed.

A _____ Ct. resident reported an unknown man was on the side of the house. It was her neighbor who was inspecting his siding.

Four adults on bikes collided on _____ Road. Injuries to all were reported.

On _____ Drive, a resident reported someone took the hose from his pool and replaced it with another one that wasn't as long.


Oh! Found this gorgeous collection of bedrooms at Pinterest this morning. Wow. Inspiration galore.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Early Autumn Light--Don't Miss It

"This is the day that Lord Jehovah has made; come, we will leap for joy and rejoice in him!" ... Psalm 118:24

These current days--oh my! Gorgeous, shining, cool autumnal clarity and that slant of autumn light which Emily Dickinson mentioned. It's energizing even-- yesterday I mowed our lawn, swept sidewalks, used scissors to trim dead growth and spoke with my behind-our-house neighbor, Shirley, who's lived in her home for 62 years. 

Oh that light! The inside of my home appeared warmer, cozier making me gasp, even, when I stepped into this room, above, yesterday morning.

Do you ever take Gratitude Walks through your home? I do. I hope you do, also. They're transforming.

Of course, Autumn's not officially arrived yet, but I can celebrate anyway. And along that line, I'm not in Heaven yet, but I can still learn now how to live there before I someday arrive.

No, really. Even now I can learn to, each moment, overflow with gratitude and appreciate and notice all gifts God fluttered down to me. To be kind, merciful and forgiving to others. To concentrate on what's going right, rather than what's gone wrong. To vividly see everything God's way.

And so much more. 

Why? So that when I reach Heaven I'll have already learned (as much as I can) how to live there and will fit right in rather than needing years' worth of lessons I could have learned down here, first.


"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."   ... Psalm 16:11


Some songs sound even better than they did when I heard them on my radio in high school. This is one of them.

Don't you just love dishes in bright colors?


In my household there is an insane amount of laughter and celebration.
... Edie Falco 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rejection: The Great Side of It

"The devil will always try to use rejection to keep us from moving forward."

That's what a Joyce Meyer Ministries post at Facebook stated this morning and this is how one woman commented:

"I think rejection is God's protection. If someone rejects me, it's

because God is protecting me from them. That's just how I see it."

Wow, I love the clarity and truth of that. I immediately recalled the various friends and relatives who've rejected me, said adios forever, and nearly all were negative, critical, pessimistic Christians and do I really want that kind of influence?

Uh, no.

Do you know what the name, 'Debra', means? It means this:

"Bee: seeker of the sweet in Life."

And in one place I read, "People with this name tend to be creative and excellent at expressing themselves. They are drawn to the arts, and often enjoy life immensely."

So honestly, this Debra, especially, doesn't have time for the people-haters, the rigid, the no-fun-look-on-the-dark-side-non-changers. Why risk absorbing all that poison? And why become upset when a hater rejects me? God is only doing me a favor, making certain nothing hinders me from carrying out His specific purpose and helping me live this vital verse:

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."   ... Proverbs 4:23

So today I'm thanking God for helping me guard my heart and for his protection, even when it felt more like grief. If my times are truly in His hands--if I've honestly given every part of myself to Him--I'll remember that He knows best...

... and I'll be at peace with His ways, even when they're not exactly mine.

And of course, sometimes our friends (and we, also) just go through crazy, what-the-heck? phases, then calm down and return to truth--and old friendships. And that's great, too.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Does Debra Care? No.

(When you discover what that title means, you'll probably be disappointed. heh.)

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits..."   ... Psalm 103:2

Does anyone remember when, one year ago, I mentioned loving Patrick Jane's Fiestaware turquoise teacup and saucer and wishing I had one of my own?

Well, guess what I found yesterday (for just $1 each set) when Tom and I did the ol' yard sale circuit thing again?

Oh wow. Color me happy.

Now, the seller stated they were Fiestaware, yet they're not marked (yes, I know not all Fiestaware was marked) and they appeared more like Fiesta knock-offs to me, but did Debra care? No.

I instantly fell in love with these turquoise teacups and snatched them, then came home and poured hot chocolate into one while Tom and I watched CSI NY. And yes--in case you wondered-- hot chocolate does taste better in a turquoise teacup, Fiestware or not.

The only other things I bought that day? These two books:

And be still my kid-lit.-loving heart! Summer Pony is another Scholastic book to add to my dream-come-true vintage collection of 70 or so. Now, is this book in amazing condition? Not even close--clear contact paper covers the front, back and a few pages. But does Debra care? No way! She's gets to read Summer Pony soon and that's all that matters to her.

For decades I tried perfection, but I gave it up. Way, way too stressful and impossible all across the board.

Now I choose aiming at excellence, contentment and extreme gratitude. These are much easier on my poor ol' aging head and make for a wonderful, fulfilling life.


"Serve the Lord with gladness!"   ... from Psalm 100


You can read about The Quilt of Life here.