Saturday, January 31, 2015

My Icy World

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him."   ... 1 Corinthians 7:17


Currently, my world looks like this:

Oh my! Did you read about those two guys? Niagara Falls are (basically) just down the street from me so honest, I'm not exaggerating about my present icy world. For proof, just gaze outside my own window:

(Considering I usually have 'lighting issues,' it always thrills me when the lighting comes out on the enchanting side.)

And you know? When I drove up to our supermarket in those balmy 9 degrees this dark morning, I sat in the car and watched bundled-up patrons gingerly stepping over the ice. And once again, I felt proud of them, of us, for living in a place resembling Alaska and, year after year, venturing outside anyway to do what must be done. And usually doing it without a ton of complaining.

We Western New Yorkers are a hardy bunch. We've gotta be.

I've lived in snow country since I was 17 and though ice and snow change everything and can be a pain--still--I'm grateful for the special grace to remain here in Buffalo (especially) all these 22 years. I wouldn't trade any of these years away, not for anything, not even for a spiffy home in Florida.

Nope, not even for that. 

Really, I love this place, for the challenge to be more than I am (a wuss) and I'm grateful that God flew us here all those years ago. It continues to be one incredible-to-me adventure after another.

                   " ...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."   ... Philippians 4:11


Oh my! Have you seen the new Snickers commercial? If you were ever a fan of The Brady Bunch, you'll love it.  :)


Free Kindle books(always double check to make certain they're still free):

Time to Let Go

10 People Every Christian Should Know

Fun Activities to Do With Your Kids

Welcome to Last Chance

All God's Children

For a Lifetime


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Winter Vacation. Of Sorts.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."   ... Romans 15:13


Still here! Just taking a sort of winter vacation lately, living the peace, not writing about it. 

Even though I've not gone on a real vacation since September of 2010 (the cross country train adventure), still I must lecture my head that I deserve some time off, even if it's just around the house, which it always seems to be.

A woman's work never being done (and all that), it is difficult to just stare at said work and choose to not do it. Hence, I eventually give-in.

But anyway, if I'm scarce around Blogland this week, now you'll know why.

Today the sun returned(!) and I've been at the table, rereading The Apple Turnover Murder  and staring up at the sun (with eyes closed of course) and thanking God for all things, even for Neighbor Mike who shovels the sparkling snow for us and for (promise not to laugh?) my recently discovered, much-fun Netflix tv show: Wahlburgers.

Now, weeks ago on a Saturday, I passed through the living room and noticed Tom watching that show and rolled my eyes each time, shook my head and questioned his usage of time. But oh dear, when will I finally, truly learn to not judge a tv program after watching only two minutes of it? Sometimes I wonder.

All I know is that Wahlburgers delights me, makes me laugh aloud and even cry at times, especially the episode about Paul's 50th birthday. That one really got to me (sniff, sniff) and it's a great episode if you only have time to check-out one. And who doesn't love their mom, Alma? I especially like their stories of the old days when, as a family of 9 kids, they had so few things, but much love for each other. And lastly, I enjoy praying for these people.


Today is Naomi's 35th birthday and hence another reason I need a day off. Wow. What a mathematical impossibility, I muse! And yet it's true: my sweet little girl is 35-years-old. Oh, how fleeting, this thing called Time.

Well, the brownies in the oven are nearing the end of their baking time and my book awaits me as do the Wahlbergs. :)

I just wanted to check in with you all and let you know I'm still here, still alive and thinking good thoughts (not bloggable ones as of yet, though) and still surrounded by peace and much joy. And I'm wishing all the same for each of you.


Did you see this photo of panicked, before-the-storm shoppers yesterday in New York City?

This is why I so often nag recommend that we all stay stocked-up on groceries and ready for anything.  :)


Free Kindle books:

The Touch of Sage

The Rose Legacy

Guitar Adventures

Foreign Invaders

Friday, January 23, 2015

Of Temptations to Scream ...

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]"   ...  Matthew 11:28


So. My favorite local coupon lady at Facebook alerted us that, at, they were practically tossing clothes out the door for free.

She'd bought this jacket for only $6 (regularly $40):

And these jeans for only $2 (regularly $15):

Well. I could have zipped over there in the wee hours of morning, but noooo ... I waited ages (not being a WalMart shopper for clothes, mostly), and when I did take a peek, wow! Much was already sold out, but still, enough nice things were left in my size. After an hour, my cart had lots of items at only $3 or $4 or $5 dollars each, reached around $53, then, ten minutes later, wham! Suddenly it said $107. 

The clearance sale had ended.

Oh. My. Goodness. I wanted to scream, especially since my head ached from all that concentration and clothes/weight angst and squinting through these cheapo reading glasses and being awake since 4:00 a.m.. Ack! All those good deals gone forever (and no way was I gonna pay the double price).

But then it came to me: nothing is worth throwing a fit over, especially not losing ones great deals at So I repeated a few times, "I will not get mad. I will not get mad...", then went to the kitchen for some magnesium calm-down powder from Naomi (which I take before bed and, truth be told, occasionally before Tom comes home from work. heh). I even returned to Facebook to see if others had experienced the same tragedy--and they had, one woman having had 100 things in her cart(!) Oh dear. So I commented about my experience, adding a bit of humor.

You know why these tests happen, don't you? So that when we're s-q-u-e-e-z-e-d, we'll behold what comes out: sweet or sour, fragrance or stench, grown-up-ness or baby-ness. So we can then ask God, "Please show me what's rotten within and how to empty it, so I can behave more like You next time."

God doesn't want us to spend our years in disappointment misery, but rather, in a calmness, a contentment which comes from trusting Him more than any person (politicians included) or job or friend or relative or bank account. 

He wants to mean more to us than anything, to be our go to encourager, the lifter of our heads, especially when we're tempted to bang those heads upon our computer's keyboard.  :)


"I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it[a]overflows). ...   John 10:10

"...For it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."   ... 1 Peter 1:16

"The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her."  ~Marcelene Cox


Another of those great deals was this zip-up sweater for $3 rather than $20:

Oh well! Tom leaves for S. Africa in a couple weeks so I'll have the car on weekdays and can shop at my good ol' faithful Salvation Army on Half-Off Wednesdays where I always find quality clothes which last for years (no, really!).


Free Kindle books:


Check out the weekend freebie at here.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Starving Your Inner Artist?

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord ... He has made everything beautiful in its time."   ... Colossians 3:23, Ecclesiastes 3:11

While I walked through the always-adventurous halls of Jr. High, my mother copied paintings on canvasses. Oh, not in an art forger way (being a pastor's wife and all), but rather, she'd see a painting in an art magazine of an autumnal forest or a ship at sea then she'd sit at the table for some days and paint those scenes on canvas.

Well, this impressed my family and guests and I, myself, began drawing. I'd clip those ads in magazines which said, "Draw this deer, send it to us and we'll let you know if you have talent." (Remember those?) Except that I never sent them to anyone lest they write back and say, "Is this a joke? How old are you anyway?". 

Alas. I also drew trees that looked like they'd grown on Mars, horses with six legs and children's faces which were downright frightening.

Eventually I gave-up and you know? Sometimes giving-up is the right thing to do. (Decades later I taught kids' church and you should have heard those naughty children laugh at my stick-figures.)  

Yet while forcing the art thing in Jr. High, I also rearranged my bedroom a lot. While my mom studied pages of art magazines, I'd stare at decorating pages, usually (expensive) French colonial styled rooms, and with an extremely optimistic eye, I'd think, "If I can arrange my room like the magazine one, it'll look nearly as nice." And afterward, through my ever-hopeful, childish eyes and imagination--it did.

And that was my art. My drawings were trash-worthy, but I could rearrange a room to make it more spacious, efficient and imaginative, if only to myself. I'd stand in the corner near the door and behold the new symmetry and ambiance and call it Good.

Forty years later, I still do that. And even as I cook breakfast for Tom in the mornings I look at our living room with its lamps glowing upon the mustard-colored curtains and the red couch against the green wall and I feel a sweet contentment tug at my mouth. It's all good and pleasant to the eye, now, to this older me, to my family, and to those of you who are encouraged by my decorating-on-a-budget home photos.

Oh, not to the degree of inspiration given by this lady whose rooms have been known to actually heal and uplift her fans from despair pits. But what matters is that I just follow God and leave the results to Him. And whew. The pressure leaves when I recall that.

As Sarah Ban Breathnach said in Simple Abundance, "We are all artists... The beautiful, authentic life you are creating for yourself and those you love is your art. It's the highest art. 'Since you are like no other being ever created... you are incomparable.'"

Yes we are. Incomparable. Each of us are given a uniquely-arranged assortment of gifts and talents through which God wishes to bless and bring back to Him all the people upon this planet He created.

No talent is so small that no one's gonna noticed if you ignore it. All gifts matter and affect how this world spins. God had a plan and who are we to second guess it? Tweak it? Call it bad/too hard/unnecessary? (If only we realized the pride in thinking, "God only gave me inconsequential gifts.") 

I believe He waits for our help in putting back together His world-gone-all-wrong. It starts with me, with you, with all of us artists who desire to see a world the way it once appeared within God's own hopeful eyes. And it could be, if only we'd never again say, "Let someone with real talent do it."


"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin..." ... Zechariah 4:10

"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.." ...Romans 12:6


Valentine's Day is only a few weeks away! Have you ordered or made your Valentine's yet?


Speaking of the empty nest (my last post) ... Did you read about the way this woman has chosen to live in hers? My, my, my ... Some days I'd like to join her, not only in winter time, but summer while I'm mowing our lawn.

And there are less-expensive ways to do what she's doing. Even allowing for inflation, this article written some time ago, shows ways to lower the costs.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Oh, The Empty Nest!

"To everything there is a season, a time, a purpose under Heaven."   ... Ecclesiastes 3:1


Well. Bonnie asked if I could write another post about the 'empty nest' soooo here you go.

Releasing Naomi to be the grown-up she'd become was probably the hardest thing, ever. Yet after I finally let go  (it took years), it was also the most rewarding, exciting and freeing thing.

When Naomi was 14, God dropped a certain book at my feet (literally, kinda), one which basically said, "Parents! When your children hit the ages between 18 and 21 you must give them the freedom which you wanted at those ages. The freedom God gives each of us, a freedom it would be wrong/ungodly to deny them. So begin preparing yourself emotionally now while they're young and start creating a life for yourself now, as well. Both are vital."

That book haunted me.

Well, I did prepare myself emotionally and I did create a life apart from mothering--but even so--oh dear. Still, when Naomi hit 19 and 20 (especially) it was like agony not giving her unasked-for advice and double agony trying not to worry when she'd come home after midnight (or 2 or 3 a.m.) after waitressing or playing drums in her band(s). 

"Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be drummers." Heh.

But oh... God nagged me big time. He reminded me that raising my daughter had, mostly, reached its end. And He also said (over and over) that my worry was sin, an obvious sign of a lack of trusting Him and not giving Naomi her adult freedom was sin, as well (ouch). 

More? He said there'd be no more sleeping on the couch until Naomi arrived home nightly. "From now, go to bed, Debra. Go to bed and sleep and trust that I'll bring her home safely." (Gah. What a test.)

Something else He nagged about said? "Let Naomi make her own mistakes. That's how she'll learn wisdom and make better choices for her future."

There was more, like, "Let go of that grip!", but if you're a mom of at least one adult, you've probably already heard it all.  :)

Well, obeying Him helped a lot (funny how that works). And these things, below, made the separation easier because they were firmly a part of my life before Naomi left home: 

1.) I developed a great love for God, which changed my head and heart like you wouldn't believe. I spent much time getting to know Him better and letting Him remake what I'd made all wrong.

2.) God showed me how exciting it can be to use the gifts He'd placed inside me to help others. He reminded me (still does) how it matters that I find ways to improve upon those talents. 

3.) I began learning new-to-me subjects, practically did college at home my own way. This helped expand my mind and stretch my creativity. Shortly before Naomi left home, I finally went online and discovered ways to encourage and teach and write here (and have never looked back).

Then after Naomi officially left home? Tom and I felt like newlywed kids again. Free to go where we wanted, when we wanted and to do what we wanted. I even repainted both of Naomi's rooms and made them my own in which to create and dream and entertain and sleep. 

And you know? The world, my world, suddenly felt new and huge and not empty at all, but stuffed with adventurous possibilities not available to me with a daughter at home. As though a brand new season had begun, one with a doorway not large enough for me and the old child-rearing season. No, all I could bring were empty hands and a willing spirit ready to create and live inside sunny seasons yet to come.

Raising Naomi was a marvelous, rewarding season for me, unlike anything I'd ever done or will do again. But so is this empty nest season as God and I pour just as much creative energy into it day by day.


"But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt."   ... Genesis 19:26

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” 
― Benjamin Franklin

One of the posts I shared yesterday goes along well with today's: The Necessity of Your Own Life.

This one, also:  Just Doing It ... And Changing The World



Free Kindle books:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ten of My Most Important Posts

So. If a new reader came along and told me, "Hey. I'm a busy person and don't have time to read your entire blog. What do you believe are your ten most important posts?," here is the list I'd give. 

These posts represent the truths which changed everything for me. Absolutely e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

(In no particular order...)

The 24/7 Friend

Sitting Alone--And Loving It

Bringing Peace Along

The Necessity of Your Own Life

Permission to Be Happy

The 'Supposed To Be Disease'

Just Doing It ... And Changing the World

Recognizing Grace

The Balance In Life

Ah, Motherhood!


He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery. ~Harold Wilson


Free Kindle books:

The Button Legacy

Love to Write?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Random Thoughts Rattling Around My Head

My random thoughts are never as clever and fun as Judy's, but once or twice a year, I attempt sharing them anyway. :)

1.)  Y'all know I enjoy detective/FBI tv series, but when a camera person gets all artsy-cute and zooms the camera in-and-out and side-to-side and up-and-down, my head begins to throb and then I whine at said camera person, "Oh, stop! Stop! My poor old head can't handle it." (Anyone know what I mean?)

2.)  Sometimes snow is pretty, other times, ugly, and right now it's pretty ugly outside of our house:

(Actually, picture it looking worse. My camera somehow made it appear lots nicer.)

3.) Looks like Naomi won't be moving back here temporarily. She discovered she can't leave Tennessee until her car is paid off (long story). But I'm still decluttering our basement 5 little changes at a time, and you know? Almost immediately I could step down the stairs and not cringe with shame. Baby steps and throwing-off apathy--oh how I love thee! 

4.) Hobbit Cottage must be in the Twilight Zone portion of Buffalo. Why? Because we get more sunshine here than we ever did at our other suburb house and in all our most important rooms, too. Tom says we need more curtains, but after 15 years in a house were only the sunroom got good light, blinding sun in my eyes is my new favorite thing. 

I sit at our table, remove my reading glasses (lest they set fire to my eyelids), then left my face to the sun. That, and my Vitamin D3 is making our fourth winter here an emotional breeze for this former dreader of January and February. (It's January 18th already!)

5.) Don't you love sunsets which remind you of Gone With The Wind's burning of Atlanta? We had one of those last week:

6.) I highly recommend watching shows like Tiny House Hunting. You'll step away from your tv feeling as though you live in a spacious mansion. No, really.

7.) Last year I saved $1,893 at my lovely supermarket down the street by buying only sale items. $450 is a reasonable estimate of what I saved using coupons. I'm still 'earning' around $25 dollars an hour while making my grocery list and doing the actual shopping, which makes this home-loving, unqualified-for-a-real-job lady pretty darn happy.

8.) We have butterflies living on our walls upstairs. These were from that leisurely stroll through Dollar Tree I told you about here:

9.) And for now? That's about it from Hobbit Cottage. Over and out.


"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."   ... Romans 8:37


Aww... have you heard the final song which Glen Campbell recorded?  The whole Alzheimer's thing is always so sad ... We had his earliest Christian album (and here) from many years ago and it still remains one of my all-time favorites from any I've ever heard from anyone. 

Yes, it was that good.


Interested in receiving my one-time email to help you begin saving money on groceries? Contact me at

(This is the same email from a couple years ago, in case those of you who received that one are wondering.)  :)


Free Kindle books:

An Avalon Christmas

Make Money With YouTube

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Is Your Head Up or Down?

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."   ... Philippians 4:8


In Pam's comment to my last post she wished she knew "why it's so tempting to hold onto some of the junk."

Oh! Oh! See Debra in the back of the classroom raising her hand because she thinks she knows this one. :)

The unrenewed, undisciplined mind always goes down. That's the natural way. You know, like a rubber raft will lazily float downstream unless somebody inside of it paddles like crazy against the flow.

Anybody's thoughts can spiral downward. Anyone from an atheist to the just plain clueless or Christians, even, who haven't disciplined their thoughts.

Trust me, I know.

My thoughts used to go down to their boggiest point when money got tight or Naomi would return home late or I'd mail bags of letters but receive only a trickle. I'd dwell on the down stuff when the skies stayed grey for days, temperatures would hover around 0 or friends wouldn't reciprocate my invitations. Or if Tom left the house upset or when relatives (and others) snapped at me, accusing me of ideas I'd never even imagined.

Going down is a cinch. Anyone with a brain can do it.

But did you see the verse at the top of this? It was a biggy in my getting 'a whole new head.' The main thing? For years I consciously did this:

Whenever I'd have a Down Thought, I'd choose an Up Thought instead. A pleasing memory rather than a dreadful one,  a sweet hope not a dread. Over and over. Even if that Down Thought resurfaced 60 times, I would choose an Up Thought 60 times to replace it.

You do that for a couple years and wow. You notice the choosing becomes automatic, this switching to Up Thoughts. And then you wake up one morning and your world seems brighter, different and you wonder, "How did I miss all this before?"

But real peace never 'just happens'.  In this present world, what comes naturally is The Down Stuff. Lasting peace requires intense discipline, training and loads of The Word and Grace:

 "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."   ... Hebrews 12:11

And oh, after the discipline! Those harvests of righteousness and peace wave like golden fields inside a disciplined mind. Nothing else compares to those myriad good thoughts, especially when you've still got them after all the world went bad.

      "You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon You because he trusts in You."    ... Isaiah 26:3


... (We) take every thought captive to obey Christ ..."   ... 2 Corinthians 10:5

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."   ... Romans 12:2

 Unknown quotes  |

How do you stop thinking bad thoughts? Choose good thoughts, instead. And please don't reply with the ol,' 'easier said than done' thing. Everything in Life is easier said than done...


I can't even explain to you how vital this all was for me to understand and start doing 20 years ago! I used to think sad/mad/discouraged thoughts all day and it felt normal, but now? If one of those negative thoughts camps in my head, it's almost like, "What's this? What's going on here?"  :) It stands out and immediately I know I must deal with it. There is no soaking in that junk, even subconsciously, all day anymore. Thank God. Truly.


Free Kindle book:

Confessions of a Transformed Heart

For more Bible verses about the battlefield of the mind, go here.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Secretly Hoarding Anything?

"Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord."   ...Hebrews 12:14


Probably most days I love the Internet and how it's simplified and added value to my life. 

But other days the complication (and pathetic-ness) I find here makes me dream about a parallel world that continued without the Internet's invention--and wonder if I'd really have missed all this. 

I mean, my introverted tendencies appreciate communicating with others this way, all home and in my pj's-like. Yet those same tendencies can tempt me to close the computer screen, step away and avoid this whole ambiguous, complicated cyber world.

Except of course, that same world contains real people (no matter how many of them argue otherwise) and God has asked me to help a tiny fraction of them, promising me the bravery to do so.

Yet even so, some days! Oh, sometimes (I confess) it feels like pure luxury to not write in this blog. To let this cyber world with real, beating (dare-I-say-stubborn) hearts just keep spinning out of control in realms where Jesus is barely a blimp and sadness, unforgiveness and hopelessness guide peoples' days.

Though yes, we all need our vacations. Non-vacation-takers can burn out faster than a falling star, and honestly, I'm getting better about taking those days off, guilt-free. 

Yet when Grace is nudging me, "Write! Encourage!," while I'm all, "Nah. Don't wanna today," that becomes problematic. There is no true happiness, I remind myself, in disobedience, nor in making excuses, just wanting to do what I want to do or blaming everything and nothing for my own hang-ups. 

I have been bought with a price, after all, and no longer belong to myself. 

We all wish to have a 'cup that overflows' and to 'see good days,' but I've learned when I try holding onto garbage simultaneously, my days turn anything but good. 

Babies cannot separate trash from treasure, hence our need to grow-up and let the garbage go. Let it go. Let it go. That is for me, that is for you. That is to keep us all healthy and filled with joy in any world we happen to step into during 2015.


P.S.   Oh, and in case you wondered, nah... No one lately has said anything mean here at my blog or at Facebook, etc.  :) All is well.


"For the Scriptures say, "If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies."  ... 1 Peter 3:10

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"   ... Matthew 7:3

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” 
― Steve MaraboliUnapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience


Have you heard about Buffalo's new ice bikes? For whatever reasons (perhaps a scene in the old series, Road to Avonlea?), they seem so old-fashioned to me. Again and again, I do love where I live.