Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Meeting The New Neighbor

"He whom the Son sets free is free, indeed." ... John 8:36


So there I was yesterday, walking back from the Salvation Army bin where I'd left a box of books (sometimes pulling books from my shelves feels like pulling teeth) when I saw our new neighbor from the grey house cleaning her storm door.

She turned and remarked about what a beautiful day we were having and after I agreed aloud, I stopped and introduced myself as Debra Who Lives in The Yellow House Across The Street.

We chatted for 15 minutes, or so, and I discovered her name is Sally, she's 76, and is renting the house along with her daughter, Sue, and her granddaughter (me remembering 3 names would have been a miracle) who is 24 and will be married one year from now. Her other daughter in Ohio will come up and build new front steps and their landlord is having their yard professionally landscaped. Oh, and their plumbing became backed-up the day before and they'd had to make a trip to WalMart last night, but were expecting a plumber soon (she kept looking down the street for him). I told her oh dear! She was welcome to use our bathroom anytime and she replied that was ok, the plumber really should be coming any moment. (Of course I went home and cleaned and straightened things just in case.)

There was more, but you get the idea. Sally was such a down-home delight, my favorite kind of person.

Over 20 years ago I couldn't have stopped to talk with a new neighbor like that. No, back then I would have quickly stared the other way, ducked my head and pretended like I spied something on the sidewalk ahead, like a Nancy Drew clue. Ha! Or coughed a little like I had a cold or something. (Good grief.) 

Yes, I was that shy, the kind of shyness which is actually 'pride in disguise' (I'm borrowing that from a long ago sermon) because I always worried about appearing inept; saying the wrong thing, running out of things to say, not hearing the other person clearly (I do have a hearing loss) or tripping or stuttering or falling on my head. Who knows? It all sounds so stupid now (because it was) and it led to misunderstandings galore, like people believing I was conceited, which is hardly the way a Christian wants to be perceived. 

I'd have been one dull blogger with no stories because I hardly spoke to anyone--and when I did--it was usually awkwardly because I was trying to be anyone except myself and always trying to 'tread water' impression-wise.

But this is one of many areas where I finally let God work with me, nudge me, even lecture me about how the important thing is to make others feel comfortable and to listen to them. Then hooray! Eventually He set me free in that area, well, at least 90 percent freer and that is huge when you consider my former ridiculous, selfish hang-ups

That's only something a huge God could do within me... and my, my,my. I'm so thankful He did.


“I wondered how many people there were in the world who suffered, and continued to suffer, because they could not break out from their own web of shyness and reserve, and in their blindness and folly built up a great distorted wall in front of them that hid the truth.” 
― Daphne du MaurierRebecca

“Shyness is just egoism out of its depth.” 
― Penelope Keith


This afternoon I finally watched last week's season opener of Bones and oh my. Even though I'd already read about what happened (and felt grateful this time that I had), I still cried when it did. I had to remind myself that it's only a tv show (it's only a tv show, it's ---) and that I'm 55, very much an adult and not a big baby.  :)

But still----


Free Kindle books:

Find Your Passion

Life Resurrected


Monday, September 29, 2014

Today? Just a Question.

Ok. For months now, Tom and I have toyed with these ideas:

1.) We desperately need a closet built in Tom's room (took us three years to figure that would be the best solution). I'd show you a picture of his room, but you'd call Adult Protection Services on us. Heh. He designed a closet on graph paper, but that's as far as it's gotten.

2.) We want nylon Berber carpet installed in our living room and office. The cheap carpet that was already here is looking embarrassingly-bad. We had a quality Berber in our other suburb house and it still looked new after 11 years. And yes, everybody nowadays is all wild about wood flooring, but when we had that out at the farm, Tom constantly had to wear shoes lest he slip. And well, that's not really fair to him.

Oh, and installing new carpet will involve hiring a moving company to move and store our furniture for a day or two. Alas.

3.) We need three sets of tall white bookcases for our office. We know exactly what we want and wouldn't mind (too much) buying new ones which need to be assembled, but we'd rather hire someone to put them together for us.

4.) We'd like a new (larger) bathroom vanity installed.

5..) We'd like a real door put at the top of our basement stairs with a cat door installed in it (there's an accordion door there now).

These are ideas we've had for (what feels like) forever and after months and months of searching online for solutions and people to help us, we're still sitting here closet-less, new carpet-less, bookcase-less, larger vanity-less and basement door-less.

It's quite annoying, really.

So today I got to thinking: Is it possible to hire someone to take charge of all these projects? Someone who'll hire the necessary people to get them done? Someone who can find good deals for us? Someone who can help us poor ol' procrastinating slugs get these things done before another long Buffalo winter bears down on us?

Someone like a decorator, but not really a decorator? We don't need decorating ideas, but rather, someone who will do our dirty work for us, like lining up workers and deals and the order in which things should be done, etc. Maybe an organization expert, even though we don't need additional organization ideas?

Gah. What do you call someone who does those things? Or are they even out there?

And that is my question: What is the name of someone who swoops in and saves the day for you? Someone you just keep handing money over to to do what you can't? I need an actual title so that I'll know what kind of a person to look up online.

I know at least one of you smart people will be able to answer this question and save us from getting a bit too close to that Uh-Oh!-We're-Feeling-Too-Overwhelmed-To-Do-Anything-So-Let's-Do-Nothing queasiness. (And boy do I hate that feeling!)

In other words...... Helllllp! :)


Oh, and please don't suggest just going on Craig's List or Angie's List or Home Advisor for each needed fix. We've already spent endless hours at each place. (And yes, we're pretty pathetic.)   :) Again, we need the title of a person who'll do all that for us.



Over at Facebook I've gotten suggestions for a general contractor, which I did consider earlier, but wondered if these jobs would be too small, especially during this busy time of year. Maybe contact a couple and see if later in the season would work out?

Or maybe contact a former general contractor who's more of a handyman/carpenter now? Hmm.... 

Please keep the ideas coming!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Don't Keep It If It's Dead

"There's a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away..."  ... Ecclesiastes 3:6


I think when we moved to Hobbit Cottage I had 6 Fiestaware coffee mugs and two teacups with saucers. Now we, uh, have a few more:

...and some in the kitchen windows I've shown you too many times already and here:

Plus, inside a cupboard, there are five mugs which we actually use rather than just look at.

Oh my, right? Debra's gone a bit Fiesta wild. (Yet I love it so much!)

Here's the thing, though. I'm stopping the collecting. There's no longer room to display it comfortably and just a few more Fiesta cups--in my head, anyway--would hurl my whole house into this:

Oh dear. I don't want that.

So I must know when to say, "It's enough." And it doesn't matter that we have money to buy more. That's not what is deciding this, but rather, too much of anything will throw anybody out-of-balance and when you're lopsided in even a tiny, who's-gonna-notice area? Life gets nagging-uncomfortable, your conscience squirms, and Peace leaps out of windows.

I don't want that, either. 

So it's time to stop collecting and to even take another step--give away other dishes I no longer like. And, yes, books, also(!), because uh-oh! Upstairs is growing a bit book wild:

(The stack of books on the left is taller than I am)

... and ...

(Frankly, those are only the parts I'm willing to show you.)

Life contains a healthy flow and it involves releasing anything which used to be alive, but died along the years and anything that overwhelms, holds us back and tempts us, also. Tossing away dead things keeps us balanced and at peace and in the moving flow where we feel most alive.

And I do want that.


"He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake..." ...from Psalm 23


Tom and I watched Moms' Night Out this afternoon. Funny movie! Though, well, the beginning made me kinda insane. I kept telling Tom, "Ack! The battle is all in her head. She's making herself miserable. Can't she see that?" 

Took her awhile, but she finally saw it. Or began to.  :)

If you have young children--relax and enjoy them and this season, also! It all goes by so very fast, then it's gone... and a whole different season takes its place.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Not Billy, Teresa or Joan--But Still The Passionate Kid

"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."   ... Romans 12:11


Even at age 11 and all through my teens (and beyond), I'd sit on church benches and like best the tough, convicting sermons. My eyes would stare at visiting revivalists or pastors while they'd share verses like the one above and ask us:

"Do you live with zeal and a great love for God every day?"

"Are you living a holy life or an average, blending-in one?"

"Who have you shared your faith with lately?"

"Are you filled with joy and peace or fear and worry?"

"Are you making the world better or worse?"

Oh, I loved the hard-hitting, challenging sermons! In the backseat on the way home I'd ponder it all, then write about it later in my journal and long to do and be better. I appreciated any sermon/book/tv show which created within me a desire to s-t-r-e-t-c-h and bravely go where I'd never gone before. With Jesus, He who would help me do anything He asked.

Yeah, I was a weird kid. Oh, not super-consistently, but often. And when Naomi was 17, she and I read parts of my teen journal and we giggled until we cried, for my words sounded like a Billy Graham/Mother Teresa/Joan of Arc wannabe all rolled together.  :)

But you know? I wouldn't go back and throw ice cubes on any of that fire in my young soul. In fact, I still like Life best when I get a bit 'Holy Ghost Fiesty', no compromise-y these 40 years later.

Yet other times, boy can I get lazy. All la la la whatever. And that's why I blogged what I did yesterday, about how Rehab Addict's Nicole Curtis inspired me to get off the couch and be more faithful with what God's given me to do.

I thrive on that type of inspiration.
I crave it.
It feeds me and makes me that zealous teenager all over again (this time with wisdom, I hope) who longed to take her little part and make it big and meaningful for God.

And well, I just wanted to explain it all better, how, lately, I'd been feeling some familiar godly conviction to step it up a bit and then yesterday God used Nicole Curtis to remind me that, "Hey Debra! You're not as old and decrepit as you sometimes pretend to be just to get out of doing a few chores and godly tasks. Maybe some added reliance upon God is needed? Hmm?"

And you know? That silly teen zealot on the church pew inside my heart still thrives on the daring, gutsy stuff. May she always prefer intense conviction over being left to herself to travel easy routes and float downstream with the crowd.


"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."   ... Ephesians 6:12,13

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men..." ... Colossians 3:23

"Human nature, if it is healthy, demands excitement; and if it does not obtain its thrilling excitement in the right way, it will seek it in the wrong. God never makes bloodless stoics; He makes no passionless saints."
    Author: Oswald Chambers


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Thursday, September 25, 2014

You're Probably Not a Sloth After All

"... let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us..."  ... Hebrews 12:1


Well. Recently I repainted a skinny wall so to cover Tom's our fingerprints (you can see the paint can in this photo, but not the wall) and I attached that red metal basket thing to the dresser to use for recyclables since Tom now must use the previous gold basket because of my living room redo. Oh, and I spray-painted the roll-around cart, but it came out radioactive green, of which I'm not a fan, so I'll re-spray it a third time. Someday.

Then yesterday I spray-painted this shelf, below, and switched the red Fiestaware teacups for yellow ones (oh, the many Fiesta cups and saucers I've Ebay'd this year. Stay tuned for a photo on Saturday.)

Plus, each day this week I've walked a bag of clutter down the street to the Salvation Army bin:

(Trust me, the big metal bin is down there. Because the river sparkled, I took a photo.) Oh, and I trimmed all our miles of hedges and raked and tossed away the clippings, also.

 After all this, I felt like, "It feels terrific to accomplish things around here!"

But then came this morning. Uh-oh. I watched, for the first time, a couple HGTV episodes of Rehab Addict and the wonder woman who is Nicole Curtis.

Oh my goodness. Her energy and stamina! Her attention to detail and insistence upon staying true to a home's original character! The way she swings a hammer and carries heavy stuff around! And did I mention her energy and stamina?

And suddenly I felt exactly like this:

A lazy ol' sloth. Heh.

But of course, this verse immediately came to mind:

"... but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."   ... 2 Corinthians 10:12

... and I was, like, "Yeah, I know. I know! Different people have different gifts. I've written about that in my blog 50 times."

But still, right? :) 

Well, instead, I made a choice to let Nicole inspire me to keep on keeping on with my Battle Against All Things Annoying. Winter's marching closer and there's still much to do before it hits, but I'll never finish if I let another person's strengths intimidate me.  

So, as with much in this life, it's time to let go of anything that would weigh me down and, instead, proceed at my own God-directed pace. This way--all will be well. In time.

And oh, what a relief that is!


"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds ..."   ... Hebrews 10:24

“A man who is intimate with God is not intimidated by man.” 

...  Leonard Ravenhill

"I think what ruins relationships and causes most fights is insecurity."
 ... Olivia Wilde

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."   ... Matthew 11:29


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A Heart Deceived


Georgia on Her Mind


Naomi and her boyfriend arrived home safely yesterday in Nashville from Idaho. Thanks so much for your prayers for them!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Reading Outside During Bittersweet Autumn

"He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding..." ... Daniel 2:21


Autumn! Beautiful, but bittersweet and no longer my favorite, Spring having that distinction because of whole months ahead of gorgeous Buffalo weather. Summer this year, oh my... I'd step outside and suddenly feel catapulted to 1969 and being ten again when Summer mornings wreaked of freedom. 

I think our air here contains high levels of pixie dust. Something's going on, something working in tandem with God's setting and keeping me free, that is.

My vintage Scholastic books arrived yesterday as Tom and I ate dinner while watching The Mentalist, so color me delirious.
These are the kinds of books which keep my personal world humming peacefully, not spinning all war and crime-like, matching this outside world of ours. I won't let that stuff in. 

These are the books I'll read/reread first:

If you need to find me, I'll be out on our front porch (we're expecting nine rainless days, something we've not had since 2013), with my books and mid-70's temps with tons of sunshine and trust me, before it all evaporates into blue-crusted snow, I'll be soaking up all that perfection, smiling like a Cheshire cat and thanking God for every moment as though it was a gift from Him. 

Because they are, you know, and I'm determined to never ignore one good present from His fingers.


"Oh give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endures for ever."   ... Psalm 136:1

“At no other time (than Autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.” 
― Rainer Maria RilkeLetters on Cezanne


Free Kindle Books:

“Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile."

[Indian Summer]” 
― William Cullen Bryant

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Partying At The Atheists' House

Well, last night was rare. Tom and I actually went out.

No really, we did.

We were invited to a party (no really, we were) and the ride there! Oh, seventy-some degrees with orange-gold sunlight and we stopped for gas across the street from an old-fashioned ice cream parlor with people everywhere licking ice cream cones and laughing at the tables outside.

For 21 years we've driven past this ice cream shop, but have we ever gone inside? Not yet. Places like this are everywhere in Western New York and maybe we're waiting for the perfect time to visit this one.

Anyway, the party was around 20 miles away, at the home of one of Tom's bosses, and to get there we drove through the outer edge of the town we'd called home for nearly 15 years and well, I'd forgotten there's such a thing as an active world anywhere past 6:30 pm. and with that beautiful late summer sunshine, the memories flooded into my head-- raising Naomi there, chauffeuring her and my own growing-up emotionally there, hundreds of sweet memories tugged at my mouth, making me smile.

And for someone who lived in too many towns as a teen, I'm still delighted at knowing how things looked alongside that stretch of road 20 years ago and being able to note all the differences today and owning memories for both.

About halfway to the party, we stopped at a huge supermarket (whose beginning I still remember) and while Tom went inside to buy a pot of roses as a hostess gift, I sat in the car and watched happy parents and children walk past and recalled why I love where we live. Always the air has felt different, more joyful to me than it ever did out West. Or perhaps that's because I've felt more joyful here. Hmm.

As Tom sat the roses on the floor in back, a man said, "Oh! Your cart was rolling away. Here you go." Tom thanked him and the man said, "You're welcome, my friend."

Truly, I love New York and always I'll thank God for flying us here thousands and thousands of days ago.

The ride took us down the long road which I used to always take to the airport when picking up myriad visitors (or Tom or even Naomi one midnight), a route incredibly out of the way, but sane and beautiful with its old houses and woods and more memories on this night.

The party? Lovely, with three other couples in this beautiful home, all seated around an HGTV-worthy kitchen island, eating h'ordeuvres made by the sweet, young wife, enough to feed a village. We told stories about our past and train rides through corn fields and our children and African adventures and it didn't even matter that Tom's boss calls himself an Atheist.  I just silently prayed for him sitting there next to me and listened to his fascinating stories and noted his especial kindness to Tom.

Memorable, mystical night, even though you all know what an introvert I am. Yet we introverts need to mix it up sometimes, to get out, to remember there's a huge world out there who does not go to bed at 8:30, but who gather together to share their homes, their stories and themselves until the moon appears then tiptoes across the inky sky.


"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”   ... John 13:34,35

Friday, September 19, 2014

Hey. Jesus Said It First. :)

Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me."   ... John 21:22


Now there's a verse that set me free.

Peoples' crazy-to-me choices used to send me to Bad Lands. I mean, didn't I know the best (biblical, even) way to do just about anything? Why wouldn't others do things those same, best ways? What are they thinking? What's gonna happen now? (Control issues, anyone?)


But no more! What is that to me if you make choices I never would? If God's not nudging me to say anything, then I'm the one making the larger mistake if I do. If He just wants me to pray, I pray ... and then do some soul-searching of my own:

What kinds of choices am I making? Are they wise? Biblical?
How well am I handling God's last bit of conviction? Am I making the right changes?
How closely am I walking with God? How well am I hearing and obeying Him?  Hmmm?

I can actually do something about my walk with God. I'll stand before Him someday and give an account of my life--not yours--and that's a pretty peaceful (though kinda heavy) thing, too.

And I can obey God and perhaps He'll make a difference in your life through my obedience, but really? Any changes you make will always be between Him and you. Your choices are yours, not mine.

Ahh ... feel the breeze, the serenity, the relief. "What is that to you? You must follow Me."

Yes, Lord. And thank-you.


"Or how can you say to your brother, Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself don't see the log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck in your brother's eye."  ...Luke 6:42

"...and make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands..." ...1 Thessalonians 4:11


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Free Kindle books:

My Mom, My Hero

Road Trip to Redemption


When I look at houses online which are even twice as much money as ours, I notice that so few have views of trees from their couch like Tom and I do here. We are blessed.