Thursday, October 31, 2013

Balancing Upon Life's High Wire

"Be well-balanced, be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring, seeking someone to seize upon and devour."   ... 1 Peter 5:8


Aww... Dolores paid me the nicest compliment today regarding my last post:

"Debra, this post was a soothing balm to my scrambled brain this morning. I was very stressed out when I read it, but, by the end I was feeling peace."

And really? I know exactly what Dolores meant because that's how I always feel after stepping away from Clarice's blog.

Clarice is awesome. She doesn't go all Chicken Little about stuff in today's world, you know, like many Christians out there who yelp, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!," when they post on Facebook or in blogs after camping-out in front of tv news.

And well, when I tire of all that yelping, I visit Clarice because, over at her house, Life will still be good. She'll have soup from a friend's recipe simmering on her new stove, a pie in the oven, or her daughters will be modeling clothes they sewed, themselves. Or Clarice will be placing flowers from her yard into a vase she bought at a thrift shop that morning or painting a chalkboard upon her kitchen wall, setting her Craigslist table, or painting the inside of her built-in corner hutch.

The world still spins right-side-up over at Clarice's and God is still huge there, so she's not biting her nails each time the economy tanks, but rather, she quietly lives by faith rather than just reading about it. 

Yes, Clarice just finds new ways to stretch a dollar and create a beautiful home using her trusting, peace-filled, clever mind. When something does come along to 'upset her apple cart', she does her part and then lets God do His. Any upset becomes just a tiny blip along Clarice's Life's Timeline--the whole timeline, itself, does not shoot upward off the chart for the next five years. Instead, she has a pattern of quickly returning to balance ... blessed, wonderful balance which satan cannot get his teeth into (so he wanders away to someone else).

And when I grow-up, I want to be just like Clarice.


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

"But without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."   ... Hebrews 11:6

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Surprises At The End of Letting Go

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts ... Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road  ... Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates."   ... Deuteronomy 6:6,7,9


It's wild the way many lessons grow hazy in our heads and so we must be reminded of them again. I'd forgotten the one which says we must let go of some dreams before we're given new ones and well, only when I released considerations of buying a new house did I receive fun, creative ideas for this present one. 

It's as though either I could have my impossible dreams or God's possible ones--there wasn't room for both. Only true faith enables us to let go, creating space for better things.

And now, egads! So many ideas swirl inside my head, in fact, that I'm reminding myself of earlier lessons on how not to become overwhelmed.

See this?

That magazine photo has charmed me since I lived down on the farm and now--don't laugh--I'm considering turning my own closet into a tiny spare bedroom. No, really. Rather than spend traumatizing nights out on the recliner again when Naomi comes to visit, I could stay in my own tiny closet bedroom.

Clearly, I march to the beat of a whole different drummer. 

But hey, I would paint the inside of my closet a pale shade of old-fashioned dusty-rose since the outside is wrapped in this wallpaper:

... and I'd buy a child-size bed or just mattresses and rig something up. I could hang some mirrors on a wall to reflect the lamplight and I already have a cute little dresser in there. I'd keep it simple. Sweet.

And oh boy, would a ton of junk in there ever have to go! But that's ok. It's time and besides, I'm one of those women who wears the same few clothes, yet has an entire closet filled with dusty-shouldered stuff she'll never wear again.

So many dreams, so little time! How lovely to be reminded to release time-wasters in order to be given something so much more. New direction, ideas and energy.
Letting go: I highly recommend it.


That photo of my grandparents on my dresser? Each night with my fingers upon the lamp switch, I pause, smile at my grandparents, recall amazing times with them and then picture them in a bright Heaven.  And then I tell them, "I'll see you both soon."

And I go on to dream sweet dreams all night long.


"And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it,” when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left."   ...Isaiah 30:21

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Curtains and a Prelude to Winter

Minor miracles! They are sweet, also.

Remember when I ordered our new curtains? Well, it concerned me a bit that they were labeled 'yellow' when what I truly wanted was mustard. But after bleary-eyed hours of staring at curtains online--and spying these oh-so-close panels--I decided to order them anyway, yellow label and all.

And guess what? The curtains arrived today and, mostly, they are mustard. Oh wow.

(This is an updated 10/31 view.)

They're perfect (to me), they hang correctly (which means ever so much after two years of curtains which didn't) and look great from outdoors, they with their paisley design and faux wood grommets, all quite 1970's, making them rather Kim-like. (Insert a happy dancing Debra here.)

Here's a closer view:

So thank-you, Target, for offering these half-off, with no shipping cost, even, and for making them mustard, not yellow. And for helping me feel more a part of Hobbit Cottage because of having added another personal, creative stamp of my own.

And now I can move on to something else.


The strangest thing happened last week. 

Tom told me, "Tomorrow is supposed to be the beginning of lots of really cold days."

I said, "Yeah, I heard and you know? It's time. It's ok. We had hundreds of gorgeous days this year and it feels like time for Winter. Time to wind down."

I know! I nearly fainted, too.

Maybe I'm finally understanding Winter the way folks of Denmark (voted the happiest country, anywhere) do:

"Here's how Danish people turn lemons into spiced mulled wine: Ever heard of the concept of hygge? While some would define it as cultivated coziness, hygge is often considered the major weapon in combatting the dreary darkness that befalls the Nordic country over the winter. In a place where the sun shines fewer than seven hours during the height of the winter solstice -- a level of darkness that can (and does) stir depression and sad feelings -- the concept of a cozy scene, full of love and indulgence, can help to mitigate some of the season's worst psychological effects.
After all, both strong social connections and many of the indulgent foods associated with hygge -- such as chocolate, coffee and wine -- are mood boosters."

Hmmm... The Danish and Gladys Taber, of course, have it right. It's taken me 35 years, but I believe I'm finally learning to welcome long, dark, cold months because of the coziness they carry with them--and--to relax (and trust God more) about Tom's walking across the snow.

Attitude. Attitude. Attitude. The older I get, the deeper this sinks in.
But these things take time to learn, you know and hey! Perhaps my cheerful new mustard curtains will brighten some of those icy winter days.


"And be ye thankful..."

"To everything there is a season, a time and a purpose under Heaven..."


A special thanks to Kim for sharing the Denmark article at Facebook!

Monday, October 28, 2013

My Secret, Hidden Agenda

Before I refer to my title, let me show you (again) my favorite reading place in my house:

And well, Tom and I may peek at lots of potential houses online, but rarely do even the expensive ones have golden views from their dining room windows. Truly, we are blessed (and need to remind ourselves of that!).


Anyway. If ever you asked me if I had a secret, hidden agenda for my blog, I wouldn't poke my toe shyly around in the sand and shake my head to the negative. No! I would boldly tell you, "Yep! Sure do, and here it is:

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds ... encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.   ... Hebrews 10:24,25"

Now, it surprises me how often Christians online and in Real Life 'spur one another on toward' hating all politicians (especially the President), panicking over the fate of the economy, condemning mega-churches and criticizing unsaved people in the news (who do stupid or cruel deeds) rather than praying for them and longing for their salvation with all their hearts.

You know, Christians who preach, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."

So if you've ever wondered why my blog rarely travels along on the Let's Bash Current Events Train, well, now you know. Even with the risk of repetition and running-out of subjects here, I just don't want to go on that train. It's already too crowded of a place, way too loud and not traveling in the right direction. At least, for me.


"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing."  ...1 Corinthians 1:1-3


I've not recommended a book in awhile so here's one for you: The Quilter's Apprentice. Years ago I pulled this book from a box at a church rummage sale--sometimes .25 cents can still buy a treasure! 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Making Decisions = Moving Forward.

A double-mind (wo)man is unstable in all her ways." ... James 1:8  (from the DTV ... Debra's Tweaked Version)


So it's like, recently, the Acceptance Mode of my head was updated and although I've had to watch a few dreams die (and have moped grieved over them), still, it's been interesting. 

Anyway, for two years I've stared at my living room curtains and cringed that they're tweaked and just don't hang correctly and, at night, I must fasten them together with an ugly blue potato chip bag clip. Which is more annoying than I can say.

At first we couldn't afford new curtains, but for the last 18 months we could, yet did I decide what color/type/design/style I wanted? No. For a whole year-and a

Sheesh, I'm slowing down in my old age.

Times past, I would make decorating decisions in an hour or just grab something at a yard sale and make it work. But I'm not just slowing down; I think I'm becoming more picky. I keep telling Tom, "I'm 54 now and I've earned the right to not settle on _______" (fill in the blank). "I'll do without before I settle. Deal with it."

Funny how often I've repeated that.

But this week I actually decided on curtains I wanted, then searched online for the picture in my head. Then hey! I placed an order (they were half-off, even) and now I'm excited-out-of-my-mind that soon six of these lovely panels will arrive:

Yellow with white paisley. Be still my heart.

And you know? Once I made that decision and pro-actively did something (rather than throwing up my hands and considering buying a whole other house, even), I decided I'll someday paint our kitchen arch, green. And I came up with a cool idea to use some red floral wallpaper for the "post" (the wrapped chimney) in our kitchen and then I'll paint the dresser in our kitchen, green, as well.

Now I can't wait until I get un-lazy enough to actually do all that. :)

Making decisions and becoming pro-active: the older I become, the more I notice they loosen invisible chains of indecision and open many doors to lots of good, good things. 

As Nike was known to say, just do it.


. Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.
- Henry Ford

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step."   ... copied

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Annual Autumn Photo Walk

Well, taking annual Autumn photos is one thing you cannot procrastinate. I remembered that again yesterday when I went out walking only to spy many leaves already upon the ground. 

But in my defense, our wet summer turned many leaves brown and they began falling in August (don't I know it. I mowed zillions of them.). And hey, that's hardly my fault, procrastination or not. :)

But still, some pics came out nicely, like this one above, what with its Leave It To Beaver garage and overgrown greenery. I've lived in this Buffalo area for 20 years and never have I wearied of the vintage-ness of Life back here.

Even if I spied Beaver Cleaver, himself, walking along that fence with a stick jingling the chain links, my eyes wouldn't widen one iota. I take my walks expecting to see such things here. 

At 16 I lived in California and I could show you the very spot where I wrote in my diary that I belonged Back East, even though I'd only visited there by way of books. Always, I'll be thankful that, although it took another 18 years, God made that dream come true.

Some dreams require years, but God's timing is perfect when we place our lives into His hands. And we hardly even notice the passage of those waiting times when, all along, He means more to us than any dream out there. 

At least, I've come to see that.


See this tiny house?

It's just around the corner from us and is even smaller than Hobbit Cottage. They've been working on it and I think it's adorable, especially for just two perfectly contented people. Or maybe only one of those. heh.


Here it is October 23rd and we've not even had a frost yet, nor have Tom and I used our main heater (though today might be the day). The times, they are a changin'.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Thoughts. Don't Let Them Bring You Down

"Casting down imaginations ... and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ..."   ... 2 Corinthians 10:5

Oh, not the good imagination stuff, you know, thoughts that inspire us to become more creative and dream a little bigger. Rather, it's the stuff which turns us into discontented, whining saddos that we have to watch.

Like this morning. I read Judy's fun post about her vacation and then scrolled down and saw the gorgeous dresser she and her husband brought home and the way it sits before her lovely green wall, beneath her incredible collection of framed prints.

Boy oh boy... Did ol' Debra ever have to 'bring into captivity' some sorry, sorry thoughts. Ones resembling these:

"A vacation? What's that? Tom and I never even go to yard sales like we used to. We just sit around like lazy slugs on weekends now. Besides, our house is too small for new furniture, anyway. Well, Tom's room majorly needs new furniture, but huge, storage-type stuff that we'd have to hire a moving company to carry in, lest we break our backs. That is, if we could find the right kind of furniture because all we do is sit around like lazy slugs on weekends..."

... Yep. A pathetic, sorry, victim-mentality mind-loop. You guessed it.

How to bring all that into captivity? I tell myself to seek solutions that I can make. Changes I can create around here. Colors I can paint what I already have, ways I can rearrange furniture, ideas I can locate on decluttering to make more room. And then I make positive plans.

Every day of my life I 'cast down imaginations' and boss my thoughts and emotions around rather than let them boss me. Every single day. It's that important to me. Thoughts of offense, frustration, envy, worry, selfishness, doubt, even extended-grief--anything not 'in obedience to Christ'--all must be made submissive to the real me. To the real God inside me.

If you asked me what two things I believe are vital to a happy Christian life, I'd say: 1.) Love Jesus with all your heart and 2.) Like a drill sergeant, boss your thoughts and emotions around. Take them captive. Don't let them boss you.

Yep. That's what I would say.

If you asked me.


Proverbs 25:28                     
"A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls."

"... but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified."   ... 1 Corinthians 9:27


Did anyone else watch Toy Story of Terror last week? I thought it was laugh-out-loud hilarious. :)

Oh, and on Saturday Tom and I watched the old Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Shadow of a Doubt. Both of us really enjoyed it. Much.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dreaming of Houses. (Yes, Again.)

"Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut..."   ... Revelation 3:8


Because I'm so organized (not) I've found myself outside in the blackness which is 5:45 in the morning, with a flashlight, always scaring away a bunny, bringing in tomatoes to slice for Tom's sandwich for work. There's something silly, but kinda cool about that.

Life is autumnal-ly lovely at Hobbit Cottage even though this weekend Tom and I discovered our dream basement online, making us hate our out-of-control current one more than usual.

Here's that amazing basement, just four streets from us:

Can you imagine?! Sigh.

Well, we discovered an open house would be held there on Sunday and Tom thought I'd be excited, but I told him, no. "It's my dream basement," I said, "but it's not my dream house. I saw my dream house weeks ago and we couldn't buy it."

I've still not quite shaken that house:

So we scanned the photos again of the (all updated) Dream Basement House and chose some ideas which we could incorporate at Hobbit Cottage. And that's what we'll probably do--stay here and tweak a few things starting next Spring.

I've visited this place in my head before. 

It's a place where I must set a dream down in the road and watch it die because my common sense knows it's the right thing to do. All while my emotions whine like spoiled brats.


Yet what I've found in my 54 years? God only gives me dreams worth having and those dreams come true. I can laugh now about the 87 dreams I yearned for in my younger years, but would have been disasters/disappointments/laughable if they'd actually happened.

God knows best. He really, really does and I want only what He wants for me because only that will work out fine. Such has been my mantra lately whenever my heart tip-toes back over to that house of my own (but not God's) dreams.


Here's the yard of Dream Basement House. Kinda sweet, right?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Not So Annoying Anymore

"And your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way; walk in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left."   ... Isaiah 30:21


I've roped Tom into watching a few episodes of Disappeared with me and--before I did--I told him I'd noticed a recurring theme through many (not all, ok?) episodes: 

Namely, before these folks disappeared, many of them crossed a line. They strayed beyond their conscience. 

Some had affairs. Some had secret relationships online. Others traveled alone to places where it's dangerous to do so. Some developed a love of money (the root of all evil) or took drugs or unwise risks even after being warned by loved ones. Others wandered away out of anger/rebellion/offense.

And now as we watch newer episodes, even Tom says, "Yep. There it is again. The crossing of that line you mentioned."

And in my opinion? After the searing of our conscience, it's as though we wander into a land where we're--scarily--on our own. Oh, God's still around if we know Him, but it's as though a seared conscience wrecks our ears' ability to hear Common Sense yelling, "No! Don't go there now! Don't do that!"

This person seems to agree, I think:

"The seared conscience is referred to in 1 Timothy 4:2 where Paul talks about those whose consciences—their moral consciousness—have been literally “cauterized” or rendered insensitive in the same way the hide of an animal scarred with a branding iron becomes numb to further pain. For human beings, having one’s conscience seared is a result of continual, unrepentant sinning. Eventually, sin dulls the sense of moral right or wrong, and the unrepentant sinner becomes numb to the warnings of the conscience that God has placed within each of us to guide us (Romans 2:15)."

Trust me--I understand even better lately why God keeps a tight rein on my behavior, my tongue and my thoughts. Why He doesn't let me get away with much. It's annoying at times, ok, but oh... now that I more clearly get 'the why of it all'? The annoyance now appears lots, lots more like gratitude, instead.

"He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."   ... Psalm 91:1


Frightening stuff, this ...
"For this is a rebellious people, faithless and lying sons, children who will not hear the law and instruction of the Lord;
Who [virtually] say to the seers [by their conduct], See not! and to the prophets, Prophesy not to us what is right! Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceitful illusions.
Get out of the true way, turn aside out of the path, cease holding up before us the Holy One of Israel.
Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel: Because you despise and spurn this [My] word and trust in cunning and oppression, in crookedness and perverseness, and rely on them,
Therefore this iniquity and guilt will be to you like a broken section of a high wall, bulging out and ready [at some distant day] to fall, whose crash will [then] come suddenly and swiftly, in an instant."   ... Isaiah 30:9-13

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Shows Grace Lets You Watch.... Or Not Watch

“Just as the sinner’s despair of any hope from himself is the first prerequisite of a sound conversion, so the loss of all confidence in himself is the first essential in the believer’s growth in grace.” 
A. W. Pink
(Oooooo what a quote!)

So where's ol' Debra been?

She's been lolling away on The Red Couch while watching myriad episodes of Disappeared.

But here's the odd thing. Last Spring, I placed Disappeared on our Netflix instant queue, watched one episode and got a little freaked-out. Sad, shaken. It even haunted me a bit while lying in bed that night.

Well, I'm no fool. When that happens, I've learned that Grace is giving me a big, fat,  "No. Don't watch that. Not now--and perhaps--not ever." So I removed Disappeared from our queue and moved on with my life. heh.

But fast forward 6 months and there I was at Netflix searching for something that felt just right (like Goldilocks) and poof! Disappeared appeared again. But this time I didn't feel Grace breathing down my neck to avoid this show so I watched an episode and ...

... no eerie feelings. No creepiness inside my head and no awakening late at night.

Instead, I found myself praying for these poor people who'd lost a loved one, praying for the missing woman, herself--and--reminding myself that although I'm having a happy little life, not everybody else is. I need to grow in compassion and never forget that not everyone knows that only seeking God with all their hearts will fill their heart's emptiness. 

I need to remember all that and pray, believing prayer--and God--changes things.

What a difference! And since? I've probably watched 15 episodes of Disappeared, have done a heck of a lot of praying for all those people and have never felt so much inner peace in all my life.

Grace. I want her timing, her advice, her direction. Nothing else and certainly not 'my will be done.' Uh, no. I want Grace, Grace and more Grace. That's the kind of life I have chosen to live and the one that's changing everything.

My autumn flowers remind me of children who spent the entire day at the beach, but have returned home oh so tired--but happy.

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled."   ... Hebrews 12:15

Oh outside! It's a gleaming, blowy, golden, nippy-but-invigorating autumn morning. 

hope it's the same at your house.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Depressed? You Might Be Angry, Too

"And 'don’t sin by letting anger control you.' Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. " ... Ephesians 4:27


Uh-oh! A 'spinach post'  from ol' Debra. But a necessary one which I'm feeling may help some folks today. Written in 2006. 


Finally, 19 years later, I may have discovered the reason for my Nevada Depression Years of the 80's/90's. Wow.

Last week on tv I heard a doctor say that his thousands of depressed patients had one thing in common. Anger. The repressed, held onto over months or years kind. And the wild, scary thing? He said anger stops serotonin from being formed/released in the brain and it's serotonin which we need to feel contented and peaceful.

"Serotonin is a chemical that has a wide variety of functions in the human body. It is sometimes called the happy chemical, because it contributes to wellbeing and happiness."

Oh. My. Goodness. I surely would've appreciate stumbling across that bit of info. during those dark days. Sheesh.

I mean, when we moved to Nevada I was low-key angry that Tom moved us out into the middle of the desert (literally). We lived in a mobile home park resembling a sandbox (on windy days, sand coated your scalp) and his job was 100 miles away.  He'd stay out there four days at a time each week, leaving me alone with Naomi in a Godforsaken town where I knew not a soul.

I'll spare you the other (whiny) details, but the anger built up inside of me. Yet on the outside? I just appeared sad. I cried a lot, attended a ton of pity parties  before Naomi would arrive home from school, after which I'd pull myself together for her sake, pretending all was just spiffy.

But oh! I kept trying to look on the bright side (as 'They' urge), counting all my blessings, etc. But what confused me was my inability to find any lasting peace. Those mind exercises used to help snap me out of sad, bleak times, but they were useless at age 30.

Hey, tiny wonder now. It was all that 'hidden' anger sucking the serotonin right outta my head. 

It was my refusal to accept this new life, thus making potential terrific times, invisible. My need to feel I had control over my life's details--that only frustrated me as well as believing 'my good old days were better than these'  (Ecc. 7:10). 

All the holding-onto the old kept me from grasping the new.

Toward the end of our Nevada Years, my non-acceptance of our life wore me down. I was such a mess that --finally-- I gave in to acceptance, to being powerless to change my circumstances and to stop wanting what God did not want for me. 

And surprise! I slowly began to heal. Choosing friendship, seeking beauty in daily rituals and blooming where God had planted me (and keeping my fingers off the control switch)--all those blossomed from acceptance.

And oh my, it actually hurt to leave that wind-swept desert land in 1993. But we did and yes, I applied those desert lessons from the day I burst out of the airport doors. I opened myself up to any adventures New York and God would supply and reminded myself to remain inquisitive, accepting and God-led in this new land.

Our beginning here? Vastly different.

And I didn't realize why until, days ago, I heard that doctor speak. This 90's, newer Debra had released her anger, her need to control everything and in doing so, had created open river ways for all that serotonin to do its happy thing--

--making it easier for God, Himself, to make tons of other necessary changes so I could help spread His healing to others.  With much joy.

Did I offer peace today? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come. 

---Henri Nouwen

Don't know about you, but these days? I'm determined not to let any group/happening/cause make me a citizen of Anger Land.


And from a link which no longer takes us where it used to:

Even negative emotions and so-called sour moods can stimulate the secretion of cortisol and adrenaline and reduce the production of serotonin. Brooding about bad things that have happened to you in life, being irritable, or harboring resentment and anger all help sustain a stress-hormone response. In the long term, such bad moods can suppress normal DNA synthesis, reduce production of new brain cells, and reshape brain-cell connections in undesirable ways, helping set the stage for chronic depression or anxiety. 

- Jack Challem, Feed Your Genes Right: Eat to Turn Off Disease-Causing Genes and Slow Down Aging

Scary stuff!