Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Woman I Hate

Here's an oldie post, one which came to mind as Tom and I drove around to yard sales this morning.....  oy!


 Really, I try not to hate anyone. I remind myself that satan is the one to hate and he is, in some way, always behind every snide remark, every unfair assumption and all things evil.

But, even so, there is still one woman I do hate. She is our GPS lady.

Oh how Miss GPS bugs me! Tom and I will be tooling along lovely country roads and I'll be telling him something ever so meaningful and deep (heh) and suddenly there she squawks! Miss GPS drowns me out with her annoying, "RIGHT TURN IN FIVE MILES."

Due to some deep-rooted psychological childhood issues, I detest being interrupted (and being told to go to my room. Alas.) And so I must pause until she finishes speaking, for Tom can't hear me otherwise (I can barely hear myself). And because I must stop, and because she irks me no end, I sometimes forget what I was saying.

So I try again. "And when I see these things happening, I feel..."


"Gah. Now, what was I saying before she interrupted me?" (I pause to remember because my brain is over-50-defective now.) "Oh yes, when I see these things happening, I feel..."


"Argh! I can't stand that woman. Tom, can't you turn her off for the next three miles?"

Tom chuckles (he thinks this is all hilarious) and says, "If I do, I'll forget to turn her back on and we'll miss our turn."

Oh well. At least our early days when Tom still held out hope that I'd learn to read a map are long, long gone. Miss GPS gets us to where we wish to go without arguments about a certain someone who is a map moron. So I guess chalk one up for a bit of electronic progress.

Although, sometimes Miss GPS is the new map moron (how fun for me to hear Tom blame her). Sometimes she takes us three blocks out of our way, runs us around in a circle then decides on a different route. Or she'll tell us, "YOU HAVE ARRIVED," after we've already bought our yard sale treasures and are a block down the road. She'll instruct us to turn when it's too late or too early, sends us off in the wrong direction or speaks of roads which do not exist. (Tom does not chuckle at these times for he pictures all the dollars we might have to spend to replace Miss GPS.)

Of course--to me, but not to Tom-- that's what makes Miss GPS loads of fun. Serves her right, anyway. And besides, it's always interesting to listen to someone who appears to have lost her mind. :)



Thursday, August 28, 2014

There's Just No Title For This

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."   ... James 1:17


Tom's back home from his trip! He spent an enjoyable time with his mother and his sister's family, but didn't enjoy either stop at JFK airport (he never does) nor all the small planes he had to take or the way the sound was broken on the only two tv's on one plane whose screens he couldn't even see(of course he made comparisons to the individual tv screens on the backs of seats during his cushy international trips). The fajitas on one flight back were a pleasant surprise, though.

I tried not to roll my eyes through all of this. 

But that proved especially hard when, before unlocking the car so to go to a doctor appointment this afternoon, he commented about our oh-so-glorious 68 degrees then said, "You know? We should go on vacation."

Vacation? Two weeks ago the man returned from seven weeks and a million hour (well...) flight from South Africa, then got home last night at 1:00 am from a quickie trip and 6 different planes across the continent to California. I just shook my head and told him, "Even after 35 years, I still don't understand you."

Isn't it remarkable how God enables us to love insane folks those who do and think the strangest things? :)


So here are my Happy Accident Shelves:

How great to find room for little things you'd considered hiding away in boxes. (And how great to order something you didn't even know you needed. heh.)

Which (oddly) reminds me: I listed 24 whole ways that Hobbit Cottage is better than our other suburb house, a.k.a. Autumn Cottage. Twenty-four ways! And Hobbit Cottage is even 700 square feet (approximately) smaller and in a---let's just say it--sadder-appearing neighborhood. But counting your blessings will always lead to surprises. I highly recommend it, especially when discontentment rears its pathetic head.

Now, I wasn't going to list the ways that Autumn Cottage was nicer, but you know? Yes, I'm going to do that. Why? So that I'll be challenged to creatively make here what we had there. That's always been a favorite sport of mine, keeps my imagination sharp and keeps me off the streets, as well.  :)


.... Uh-oh! For the sake of clarity (according to some comments I'm getting) a train vacation (the type we want) would be very complicated to take right about now because 1.) Tom doesn't yet know when his next trip to South Africa is--maybe October? November? December? Parts of all 3?, 2.) He'll need the weeks before the trip to prepare his lessons, etc. for it 3.) He used up lots of his vacation time to take this trip to California, not to mention 4.) Sammy still isn't eating the way he should, though he's doing better, but I couldn't leave him right now.

So this is definitely one of those 'one day at a time' type of things. A shorter trip could be do-able, but we really should go visit my mom in CA and--again--we want to go by train which requires some major time off. Driving vacations are out--the traffic back here makes me a bundle of nerves. Alas.

See? Complicated. Fortunately, day trips are still fun and do-able. :)


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Obedience. Does It Really Matter?

                               From our Autumn Cottage kitchen...

"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."   ... Hebrews 10:31


One morning 18 years ago at Autumn Cottage while getting dressed in our bedroom to go shopping, this thought came: "No. Stay home, instead." There was just a tad of insistence about it.

Hmm. I started to argue,"But I need to buy _____", then stopped. I decided to put off shopping until the next morning. 

An hour (or so) later, the kitchen phone rang and when I answered it, a woman from church spoke to me in a whispered voice. She was at work--and contemplating suicide. 

God helped me talk her out of it. I hung up the phone then thought, "Oh! this is why I was supposed to stay home."

Probably a year later, Tom and I were visiting with a close friend of mine and her husband. As we drank our coffee, my friend criticized her husband a few times and the rest of us, I could tell, began feeling uncomfortable. I thought, "When ____ and I are alone, I need to tell her why dissing ones husband in public is a bad idea."

But then a thought came. "No. Wait awhile. Someday the timing will be better."

So a month passed, my friend and I chatted lots of times and I nearly forgot about the incident at her house. But then one morning while we visited in a coffee shop, she began listing her husband's negative traits and I heard, "Now," inside my head. "Speak to her now about her criticisms from a month ago."

And so I asked God to help me say things correctly and-- feeling like I was risking our friendship-- took the plunge. My friend received my words graciously, with much humility, even apologizing to me, but I told her that her husband needed the apology more than I did.

So that afternoon when my friend's husband arrived home from work, she sat upon their bedroom floor and apologized for all the years of criticism. And then? Her husband began to cry. He'd paid one month's rent on an apartment and had planned to leave her and their children the next day.

He changed his mind and all these years later, they're still happily together.

Some Christians believe their obedience--or disobedience--only affects themselves, not others, and that God will just get someone else to help somebody in need if they flake out. 

Sometimes, yes. Many times, no ... and I feel gambling with our disobedience  is never worth the risk.


"When I say to a wicked person, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood.

But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself."   ... Ezekiel 3:18, 19

These verses are one of the reasons I don't just write 'fluffy-headed' posts here in my blog. The responsibility is too great for that. My desire is to stay in tune with God so that my words will be timely, especially for anyone who's searching ... or sinking.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Of Dealing With Disappointment

"Choose you this day whom you will serve..." ... Joshua 24:15


So I'm still redecorating, and I tweaked our living room again, but switched it all back to the way you saw it on Saturday. When two of your end tables just won't fit anymore, you must admit that. You must find places for them in other rooms or give them away, lest the overcrowded-ness  irk you every single minute.

Anyway. It's super-rare that I order something online in a wrong size (because I quadruple check everything), but after opening the box of shelves I'd picked-up from Home Depot, I realize I'd done just that. My half-circle shelves for beside our kitchen sink would over-stretch the cabinets a whole inch and a half. 

Long story.

Oh, but how powerful was the temptation to install them anyway! ("Maybe no one will notice...") Almost did impatience persuade me to give-in. But no, I decided I'll hang them in our office because 1.) There is no other place, 2.) We surely need shelves in there, 3.) And I don't believe in returning things unless they're all wrong and super expensive, which these certainly were not.

But really, I felt quite annoyed with myself and having to order and wait again for new (smaller) shelves, not to mention making another trip to Home Depot, though yeah, they'll deliver to my home--for 'only' $24. Good grief. Can you say "obvious-ploy-to-get-you-into-the-store-to-buy-more-stuff"?

But am I complaining? Ok, a little. But mostly, I can recognize a test when I see one--and this was a test. 

So I told my head to be patient and not so blame-y. Then as I assembled the shelves on our carpet while yet one more episode of House played, something on that show calmed me even more. It helped me up my grade a whole letter, I think. 

Did you ever see the episode where a certain semi-main character dies because of something involving House and his drinking? (Don't want to give anything away, so I'll remain vague.) Anyway, right before this (barely-conscious) character dies, another person says, "It's not ok. Why aren't you angry?"

To which the dying person said, "That's not the last feeling I want to experience."

Oh, that's good. 

And for me, annoyance, impatience and disappointment aren't feelings I want to experience on this beautiful sunny August day. And it is a choice, you know.

So there you go.


"Anybody can get negative, bitter, blame God and lose their passion.

That’s easy. But if you want to pass the test, if you want God to take you 

to a new level, you’ve got to be a warrior."   ...Joel Osteen


On late Saturday, I placed much of my Fiestaware collection in the hutch and hung that little green shelf beside it.


Oh! Another blessing from Dollar Tree. I found On Hummingbird Wings there yesterday. Very cool book, indeed.


Free Kindle books:

Hearthland: Two Steps Forward

Real Clever Ideas and Solutions


Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Vacation of My Own


"Just do it."  


Whew. When I was a young woman it seemed I'd rearrange our living room every two weeks. But now? If I rearrange actual furniture once every two years, it feels like hyperactivity.

But Tom left at 6:00 a.m. by taxi and later, after I drove to a semi-estate sale in a house even tinier than ours (and bought nothing), I found myself sitting here watching House (don't you love to hate that guy?), missing Tom and needing something large so to focus my concentration. Finally, after one whole year of often considering this, I rearranged our living room.

Two episodes of House later, it looked like this:

... and this:

... and my favorite part is this:

Who knew I'd come up with a shelf for our new elephants (formerly from the floor)? With the couch there (and the fact they weigh probably 15 pounds), they'll not fall from the sill. Just shows if I'd not taken that first step, I'd not discovered this surprise along the way. 

Anyway. Some of the changes I don't like as well, but others I prefer and just the differences, themselves, are refreshing. But I needed something today in which to focus and fling my energy and all this rearranging was the perfect prescription as I begin yet another set of days alone-but-not-alone. 

As I've read and as I've said--to a woman, rearranging the furniture serves as a kind of vacation. The feeling which comes afterward is almost like she's taken a trip and landed in a new place with unfamiliar vistas and yes! Yes, it does feel that way today, especially after rewarding myself with a meal from Burger King upon the couch on its opposite side of the room while watching yet one more episode of that crazy ol' House.

Happy sigh.


"Love is the canvas covering the furniture that you've become a part of” 
― Josh Stern

“The key to life was rearranging the furniture.” 
― Robert Ferro


Thank-you much for your prayers for Tom and his mom!

Oh, and to clarify... as soon as the humidity leaves, I'll be fine. It's happened that way for over 20 years now.  :) In fact, today was both cooler and a bit less humid and I put in three intense hours of rearranging not only the living room, but a hutch and kitchen display shelf. Hooray! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Flying Away Again

"But He gives us more and more grace. That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it)."   ... James 4:6


Oh well. Tom is flying away again tomorrow. 

To South Africa? No, to Reno, NV and then he's driving over to California where his mother and sister live. His mom isn't doing well and this may be his last chance to see her, barring a miracle, of course, but really, for lots of years Tom's mother has wanted to go to Heaven so I'm thinking that is the miracle she's most praying for.

I wish I had the grace to go on this quick trip involving countless pre-trip details, 6 planes, jet lag, two motels, 8 driving hours and 5 days, but lately? I barely have the grace to stay home. (Oh, the humidity.) Back in the day, I did nearly everything without Grace but now? At 55? I can't even dust the furniture without Grace and prayer and following God's timing lest I get overwhelmed and tempted to curl into the red couch and stay there.

Yeah, that's a little sad, but you know? I'd rather need Grace to function  instead of me forcing things, faking ability and paying for it by crankiness and needing a week off afterward. Which is, like, the way I used to always live. You know, back in the day when I was young and proud of it.

No, been there, done that, bought the T-shirt ... and I'll never go back to Graceless living again, even if so few understand. This total reliance upon Grace is much better and gives Life a sweetness found no other way.


Any prayers for Tom's trip and for his mother would be appreciated. Thanks so much!


"For by such grace you have been saved through faith. This does not come from you; it is the gift of God and not the result of actions, to put a stop to all boasting."   ... Ephesians 2:8,9

What gives me the most hope every day is God's grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.


Free Kindle books:

Joyful Momma's Guide to Shopping and Cooking Frugally

Spiritual Java

Pumpkins in Paradise

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Uh-Oh. August.

"For there is a time and a way for everything, although man's trouble lies heavy on him."   ... Ecclesiastes 8:6


Oh the humidity!

It finally arrived, the pea soup stuff, and as always it reminds me of these lines from Carl Sandburg's poem:

"The fog comes
on little cat feet."

..... because that darn humidity--somehow--sneaks inside my house beneath the doors and windows and does drug-like things to my head. Yes it does, even with the air-conditioner blasting its heart out.

Gah. And to think that some people pray for this! What is wrong with them?

Anyway, yesterday afternoon when I pushed up the garage door for a soon-arriving-home Tom, I paused in our yard, gazed around and thought, "Uh-oh. I've got that August feeling again. I'm tired of my gardens. Tired of watering, fertilizing and babying green things. I've had enough of watching plants grow, fresh air and reading outside." (Blasphemy, I know.)

But there you go. Give me August and humidity and that's where I am. Yet the good thing? I'm always reminded of this post I wrote years ago, the one with the lines from People With Dirty Hands that said it's ok to bale out of your garden in August.

Whew. Now there's good news and just the permission I need to give myself a break and pack away my summer, even while others are still reveling in theirs.

And now I'll move on to other things where Grace awaits.


"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart..."   ... Ecclesiastes 3:11


Remember when I made a little beverage center of my own using one of my $1 estate sale shelves?

Well, yesterday I installed the other shelf below our kitchen sink to help store cleaners, etc. proving once again, that you don't need custom-made shelves (or custom-made anything else) or expensive just-for-one-purpose ones from big box stores.


Free Kindle books:

Jane Eyre

Blue Hole Back Home

Thrashing About With God

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

For The Sensitive Folks Amongst Us

(That's only a primer coat of paint on the tea cart. The final one will be lighter)

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."   ... Galations 6:2


So as Tom stepped up our kitchen stairs when he first returned home from South Africa, I told him, "Oh! And see? Here's the tea cart that I bought at a yard sale. I'm going to paint it light green, though, because it's too dark."

"Oh, that's a shame," Tom replied.

Ack! His first words to me, nearly, after 7 weeks away.

"Hey!"I said. It's not like it's wood." (I adore painted wood, but it practically brings Tom physical pain.) "It feels too much like I sat a big brown rock in here and I need it to look lighter."

As I said .... Men. :)

But you know? I realized it was a test. Would I allow my feelings to get all hurt? Or would I be able to separate that Tom wasn't rejecting me, but only the idea of a painted, light-green tea cart.


Have you seen this type of stuff going around online?

And people saying they're thankful that they're overly sensitive? (There are even websites dedicated to them.) 

I believe that being sensitive to how others feel and believe and acting in a concerned, caring manner is a wonderful, even biblical thing. There are lots of verses to back that up, certainly. Sensitivity is given in extra doses to creative people whose art touches the world and to those called to defend the down-trodden and care for those who hurt in myriad ways.


(I believe) sensitive folks must be oh so careful to not turn their sensitivity inward toward themselves. God didn't create the type of sensitivity that gets knocked down for 2 weeks (or 20 years) because cruel words were spoken or kind words were left unspoken, or unfair deeds were done (leading to an unintended form of selfishness, an I've-been-hurt-so-I-can't-help-you-ness). He's also not a fan of the sensitively that comes from immaturity nor from always-bleeding wounds which we never let Him heal, preferring to wear our hurts like an I've-a-right-to-feel-offended badge.

Yet to keep the balance? To use our sensitivity to help others, but not be crushed by personal, undeserved offenses? That is the cross which Sensitive Christians must bear.  

"Take up your cross and follow Me."

But thank-goodness! Jesus can keep us steady and heal our own hurts so that--rather than writhe and hide under our sensitivity, too stricken to aid anyone else--we'll remain free to reach out, lift up, and show others from Whom their healing can come ...

... and thus fulfill the dreams God is dreaming through us. 


"Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves."   ... Philippians 2:3

"To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some."  ... 1 Corinthians 9:22


And this has more to do with yesterday's post, but I didn't think of it until today:

"No time is wasted if it brings any sort of benefit to our mental health."


Free Kindle books:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Why My Silly TV Shows and Books?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding."   ... Proverbs 3:5


Guess what Tom brought home Friday afternoon after work? Eight pristine 1960's copies of Nancy Drew that he'd bought at an estate sale. Wow (he was rewarded with kisses).  Now,  I did already own two, yet not in terrific condition so I'll let them go. And as I told Tom, no more Nancy Drew. Part of wisdom is knowing when you've collected enough of anything, lest you wander into obsession. And clutter.

Probably some of you wonder about my reading material--and while we're here--my tv viewing habits. It must seem odd that I read very few Christian books yet lots of kids' lit. and vintage biographies and pretty much only watch one Christian teacher (online), yet my blog posts tend to tip a bit heavy along Christian lines.

Well, here's a simple (but kinda weird) way to explain it: Almost constantly it's like there's a Christian audio book playing inside my head. Hour after hour I'm mulling over the way certain Bible verses apply to what I'm doing and how I should record those thoughts here. 

It's like this blog is a living thing inside my head and I'm always feeding it. 

It's also as though, in the very nicest way, I'm surrounded by the crowd that is you and always, I'm meditating about what to teach and what to do next so that I'll faithfully fulfill this calling God handed me.

So. With all that going on? Ol' Debra needs some serious breaks. Her head requires the simplicity (and beauty) of kids' novels, the silliness of shows like The Middle, Let's Make a Deal and the polar-opposite-of-my-life shows like Major Crimes, Castle and Cold Justice. 

With that 'Christian audio book' on a perpetual loop (and the usual 'cares of this world' which we all have), my head does need its recesses so I can go out and play. Then come back inside, refreshed and ready to listen and think some more.

Lots of well-meaning godly folks condemn all secular tv and books and I get it. I do. But for me and a few million other Christians? In order to stay balanced, relevant and just downright sane, we also need the relaxation and getaways our books and tv shows provide us. We need to switch Off, at times, for being constantly On can lead to burn-out, shorting-out, something never intended within God's perfect plans.


"Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established."   ... Proverbs 16:3

No time is wasted if it brings any sort of benefit to our mental health.


In other news...

Our new replacement picture window was installed this morning--hooray! No more sad little crack in the corner.

Also, Sammy The Cat is eating much better! Thanks so much for your prayers. Most likely it is the tuxedo cat thing which we've dealt with before, namely, this. A simple thing like giving him too many of his much adored 'treats' (Iams kibble, supposed to be super healthy) can set this off. Poor baby--he just can't handle more than 2 or 3 tiny pieces of dried food a day. (And poor us who must buy thousands of those littlest cans of moist food.)  heh.

And clearly I have shelves on the brain because I ordered four of these today from Home Depot for the end of the cabinets above our kitchen sink:

I'm unable to arrange buying all the many shelves our office dearly needs, so I'm doing what I can do, instead. 'Pro-activity' I think they call it.  :)


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lusting, Moi?

" ... your Father knows what you need before you ask him."   ...Matthew 6:8


Uh-oh. Last week at Facebook somebody shared something like this: "Lust is when you can't be happy unless you have a certain thing."

Gulp. I've been lusting yearning for shelves on two walls of our office and feeling pretty discontented (hanging my head here). But I want shelves that just magically appear without our having to pay lots of money for them, order them, put them together--or--without traveling to find used ones already together, contacting a moving company to go pick them up and us having to move things around before they arrive.

Basically, I just want to step into our office one day and have shelves everywhere. Is that asking too much? Apparently, it is.  :)

The need for shelves around here has gotten pretty dire and I've even taken to dreaming about them at night. But hey, carved lions from South Africa ought not to be on kitchen counters:

... nor should elephants live on the floor:

Of course, we could get rid of a bunch of things to make room for newer stuff. Nah ...

Oh well, I'm thankful I saw that definition for lust, because it's helping me behave myself and to wait  more patiently as we consider our options. 

So many lessons in Life, so little time.


A couple weeks ago everyone in our neighborhood was finally given the 'new' kind of trash cans, the type we received eons ago when we lived in our other suburb house in the next town over.

Not only that, but a huge green receptacle also came and that one is for recyclables only. It's nearly as tall as I am!

In fact, a few times I've accidentally tossed plastic bags or, ack, weeds in there and have had to tip the thing forward on the ground and climb inside to retrieve whatever wasn't meant to go there.

If I ever invite you over and you can't find me? Check the recyclables bin. That's where I'll probably be.


If you believe in praying for cats could you please pray for Sammy? In all ways he seems normal except that he's hardly eating. I'm hoping it's just a tuxedo cat thing (they have many 'things'), but this weekend I've been concerned. Thanks so much!

(Probably 98% of my yard 'toys' were found at yard sales, including this $1 plant stand.)


The type of shelves I'm considering? Here. And here.

Of course, for, like, $3,000 less.  :)