"Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." ---John 14:6
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
... Why, yes! Yes, she is. Thank-you for asking. :)
And yet? I did tons of research and buying and scribbling lists from August through January so--now-- I'm able to prepare in a more relaxed manner. The MustPrepNow!-ness of it all has eased. My house has reaped preparedness-for-the-future because of what Tom and I spent last year sowing.
There's one thing I'm no longer doing, though.
For months I watched Christian news reports online of how biblical prophecy is happening like crazy. I eagerly drank it all up--and it was right to do so. Grace sat there beside me explaining, pointing, and I was excited to see the Bible in the news(!)
But around January I felt like Grace said, "Ok. You get the picture, right? All will continue to move forward just as God said it would. It's time for me to lead you to your next season." And she got up, moved on.
Afterward, I tried to watch a couple news programs, anyway, but meh. The thrill was gone. The reports just irked me and made Life appear dark.
Go try doing anything without Grace and you enter into dry times and deadness. Go attempt to ride a dead horse and you travel nowhere. Go holding onto whatever God says you're finished with and you're suddenly weighted down, unable to move forward.
Life, friends, experiences woosh! Pass you by--and who wants to spend their years here that way?
So today I say go with Grace! Wherever she leads, even if all your friends are led elsewhere. It'll be worth it now--and at the end--to have followed what was alive for you and be able to say, "Death was swallowed up in victory".
Victory of a life well-lived or boring deadness. The choice is ours.
"But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace." ... Romans 11:6
"He gives us Grace, Grace and more Grace..." ... James 4:6 (amplified)
"Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: "Death is swallowed up in victory."' ... 1 Corinthians 15:54
I thought some of you might enjoy this: How Parisians Do Small space Living. I especially liked the pole plant holder in the window.
Oh! And here's a blog which is no longer being added to, but wow. What a gorgeous home this woman had before she sold it. Her kitchen is downright inspirational (except I'd need a window over the sink) and I would have hours of fun rearranging items on all those white shelves!
After our incredibly sunny weekend (and 60+ degrees) and lots of yard work and reading outside, I'm feeling exponentially better. Thanks much for your prayers!
We're back to cold temps, but with tons of sunshine due today and tomorrow---I'll gladly take it! :)
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Oh my... The reason I barely wrote here this past week? We only saw the sun on Monday morning. The week's remainder was grey. !@#$%^
Eegads--I did everything I tell you to do in rough times--everything--but still I struggled, fought, with all that darkness outside our windows. Ol' Cheerful Debra had to apply more discipline than usual with her head, you know, forbidding it to enter morbid places. (You can do that, you know, right?)
Truly, I wonder if I'm a solar-powered human. My 'battery' seems to run way down after three or four grey days.
Anyway, the best part is that Jesus felt as close, as real, as He always does and that's partly why (as I've told you before) I can't chime in with everyone at Facebook about the 'It's Friday, but Sunday is coming' thing. I cannot, for even one second, place Jesus back inside that tomb and then go waiting around until Sunday to bring him back out. Are you kidding?
Uh, no. Without Him every single second of my life, I'd be doomed. Every day He saves me, enriches me, makes me smile even when it's grey outside with not one green leaf on any trees, anywhere. Every day His resurrection is celebrate-able and necessary, vital, to my well-being.
And more--this entire weekend we're experiencing extreme sunshine and oh, my head has returned to its correct place! Wow, the healing wonder of springtime light.
But I must thank The Lover of My Soul for not allowing my heart, during the grey times, to wander even one iota. From beginning to end, it's all of Him. I'll be sunk if it ever becomes all of me. Sunk. Truly.
Every Day Is Easter. (Click here.)
How bad did I get last week? My nephew's sweet wife posted this photo at Facebook of him and their dog taking a walk:
... and--when I spied all the green leaves and lawns--tears suddenly stung my eyes. I had to zip away from Facebook and pull myself together.
Hmmm... Is ol' Debra nearing the age where she'll need to become a snowbird? Or totally break ties with her beloved state for her sanity's sake? Or just accept these few grey-day-stretches of February/March/April as her cross to bear?
P.S. ---And yes, perhaps it's finally time to invest in one of those special lights created for people with S.A.D. I'm thinking I just may seriously look into one so that I won't have to come here and whine to all you good people. :)
P.P.S. Hooray! I dug out an old brown desk lamp from my closet, one whose lightbulb I can aim at my face. I used it at our dining room table this morning and I think it's going to make a good difference!
Happy Easter to all my readers!
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
"Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world..." ... Philippians 2:14-16
Really, we love our house. But our back porch! That's a royal headache, for there's no space for anything except my pair of yard shoes.
Then Naomi moved here and where could her coming-in-from-outside shoes go? Even this handy-dandy solution, below, would require too much space at our house:
So Naomi placed her shoes beneath our kitchen dresser, but snow melted from them and left dirty pools of water there. Also, I didn't like sitting on the couch and staring at those shoes in my cute kitchen. (Picky? Me? Nah...)
Here's what I longed to create in the back porch:
There is space for a cupboard to be cut into the wall. I saw a similar one (though without doors) at an estate sale once and envy-swooned.
But I've never built anything like that before. I've got ideas, of course, but I've a feeling I'd cry frustration tears halfway through. And yeah, we could hire a handyman (Tom's super busy at his full-time job and needs weekends to wind-down), but I'd rather wait until we're ready for Handy Man to tackle all the other wouldn't-it-be-nice ideas/tasks 'round here.
What to do? What to do? Keep complaining about the muddy puddles on the floor? No. That had accomplished nothing. So I asked God to please give me A Shoe Idea for now, one even I could accomplish and wow. He did.
I cleaned out the bottom drawer of the kitchen dresser along the wall:
... gave away some things, combined the rest into the middle drawer. Then I lined the empty drawer with two thick only-kinda-like-these placemats. Then added Naomi's shoes. And closed the drawer.
Oh, I felt so clever. Is it the perfect solution for forever? Probably not. But for now, it's terrific.
Of course, I could have kept complaining inside my head (I didn't say anything to Naomi because it's not her fault our back entryway is ridiculous). And I could've whined and felt helpless because I don't know how to build things.
But if I had, there'd still be those shoes, those puddles, beneath that dresser. Nothing would have changed.
Today's lesson? With God's help we can usually fix what annoys us. But we must push past complaining, laziness and seeing things only one way and learn, instead, to open our mind to godly inspiration.
And if we're annoyed by the way this world is going and feel helpless to fix that? We can pray and then become too busy to be annoyed by doing our own small part to make this world spin more smoothly.
"Do what you can and ask God to do what you cannot." ... Joyce Meyer
If we view something as hopeless then, for us, it will probably remain that way. But change our view and who knows what may happen?
Need some great ideas for shoe storage in your own entryway? Go here.
Ahhh... After this post I returned to thinking about my ideal worker, the one I first imagined out at the farm. Anyone else remember him? :)
Sunday, March 20, 2016
" but whose delight is in the Lord---that person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither-- whatever they do prospers." ... Psalm 1:2,3
So Springtime (calendar-wise, anyway) was nearing and new listings for local houses began popping up online and yes, I began checking them out
One even-we-could-afford-this house enchanted me with these gorgeous windows and stairway wall:
... yet it's nearly in Canada (technically, so are we), had only 2 bedrooms, and moving there would lengthen Tom's commute to work by five miles so, well, uh, no. (But oh, it was snazzy.)
Another house had original, old-fashioned features (you know I love those) with two sun porches overlooking greenery and thick, quiet woods:
... and it has the lowest taxes in the tri-state area(!) Why? The house sits in Love Canal. Oh dear, but--even so-- for a day I wanted it badly. Hey, what's a few chemicals oozing out of the ground? At least we'd have 3 bedrooms with doors on each! :)
Then down our street, an old ranch house with lots of brand-new features popped up:
I mean, here at Hobbit Cottage we have only 1 1/4 closets, the 1/4 one being in Tom's room (which, I'm not kidding, resembles a scene from Hoarders). That's all. One-and-a-quarter closets.
Oh, Debra had wild closet envy and, in my head, had us all moved into that ranch house. I even listed 10 ways that house is better suited to us. But gah. Tom just doesn't like that one. He's not sure why.
Well, there are more houses, more stories, but I'll spare you.
Then yesterday after Tom spent hours trying to find just the right house online and we drove past (read 'circled') one in Real Life, we both, sensing Grace had long ago left the building, decided to stop looking. And stay right here. Again. And just continue making improvements.
And you know? Immediately, creative ideas dropped into my brain. Like, instead of throwing our silverware willy-nilly in the skinny drawer (the 'real' silverware drawer is used for vitamins. I've tried for 4 years to think of a better place), why not buy silverware trays and place them in my shallow coupon/calendar/recipe binder drawer, instead? I'm currently not into coupons and I can put my calendar and binder elsewhere.
So I did that today and now feel like Olga Organized:
And upstairs I'd been storing Tom's briefcases and vintage suitcases in my closet and my things under the guest beds in Naomi's room. Why not switch so I could, anytime, easily access my own stuff? So I did that, also.
My, my, my--the contentment when we finally leave our own un-anointed bunny trails and jump back on Grace Street!
Good gracious--it's like waking up from a boring, grey dream. Like remembering how colorful and terrific Life can be when we, instead, follow God and Grace to places we'd have never thought to go, alone.
"Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you."
Choose contentment and wow... frustration fades away.
Free Kindle Book (which I began yesterday and am enjoying) :
Dying to Read
Thursday, March 17, 2016
The first two days of my week? They loomed grey like this, hour after hour:
Blech. So I asked God for sunshine on Wednesday, my birthday, as a personal favor, a gift, who cares that Ol' Weather Lady promised only more grey.
And you know? For a glorious half hour on Wednesday morning, sunshine seeped through and I ran around to the windows loopy-like, thanking God. And when sunshine shooed all the clouds away around 3:00, I burst outside the backdoor like Julie Andrews did on top of her Sound of Music mountain.
I spied birds fluttering at the feeder and Sally returning from her walk with Buddy The Dog and I ran over to them to say it was my birthday and wasn't this weather glorious? Oh, I felt giddy.
But I forgot to tell you about my earlier wilder adventure.
Back on that grey Tuesday, I thought about how my bronchitis weeks had zapped my earlier walking progress and how wonderful it would be if we had a super-close cafe where I could go drink coffee, watch people and read.
Well, at 9:00 on my (still grey) birthday morning, I grabbed my coat and keys so to walk to 7-11 and--when I reached the little pizza shop-- passed a Fire Department Inspector truck. I paused at the empty, dirty-soaped-up-windowed eyesore store next-door, spied two men in a lighted room, then noticed something new: a notice on the door announcing a soon-coming cafe(!) They promised pastries, coffee and sandwiches.
Oh. My. Goodness. A someday cafe right in my neighborhood!
With a big smile, I proceeded to 7-11, grabbed a pint of chocolate ice cream, then while the gal rang up my purchase, I told her, "Today is my birthday so I get to have ice cream for breakfast." She looked up, chuckled, then said, "Happy birthday! It's my birthday, too."
My eyes got wide. "Are you serious?" She nodded and I said, "Happy birthday to you! How fun." She handed me my penny change, I wished her a good rest of the day, then practically glided home on happy thoughts.
Facebook awaited me with lots of fun birthday wishes and encouragement (birthdays at Facebook--like a yummy all-day lollipop), then I ate my ice cream while watching a quirky old episode of NCIS, via Netflix.
After a walk in the rain (under my umbrella), I spent an hour with those delightful Melendys in and around their Four-Story Mistake. I nibbled on the tiny chocolate bars Naomi gave me and stared at the pretty flowers and scented candle, as well as drinking the flavored seltzer water she'd blessed me with, also. Tom arrived home earlier than he had the past two weeks (big, time-consuming project at work lately) bearing a Mexican feast and a card.
Were there any rollicking parties for me or vacations to exotic places? Nah, I spent most of the day alone at home. But oh, not once did I feel alone, for I never am. Actually, I felt delightfully, extravagantly, spoiled rotten by God and family and friends.
It was all so perfect and customized, only something God, Himself, could arrange.
Oh! And my recently-ordered copy of Nothing to Do But Stay arrived in my mailbox yesterday. I nearly devoured the first chapter. Such a good book!
A very special thanks to those of you who wished me a happy birthday here!
Happy Saint Patrick's Day to you!
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."...James 1:17
It's so odd.
The year I was 36, I kept thinking I was 37. When I turned 46, my head soon told me I was 47. And this past year at 56, well, yeah, you guessed it. I spent the year believing I'd turned 57.
When I did eventually turn 37 and 47, I felt as though suddenly someone gave me a free year(!) An extra 365 days that I thought I'd already lived, but hadn't.
I told you it was odd.
Well, today on my 57th birthday I'm celebrating another free year ahead. Woo hoo! :)
Birthdays: a day to feel loved, appreciated. Tom and Naomi act kinder than usual on my birthday, tons of Facebook friends say such sweet words and wish me well, I receive a few emails and a couple snail mail cards.
And God, even, shows me through those kindnesses (and more personal ones), that He's thankful I was born, also. Can it get more awesome than that?
But you know, this need not be a once-a-year feeling/reality. We can, each of us, remind ourselves on Normal Days that we're passionately loved by God and when that becomes reality, wow, it's enough to keep a lady stuffed full of joy, even on oh-hum normal afternoons when people's appreciation feels far away.
That (balanced) I-am-loved birthday feeling! We need never lose it. And just think: while the presence of God envelops us the other 364 days we have all this and Heaven, too:
"My eyes shall feast upon what lies beyond." ... copied
Ok, yes, there's tons of strife in the world these days, but hey! Always, God is greater. He promised where sin abounds, there abounds grace much more. Oh, those free years and years of being and feeling free.
Yes, even in 2016. Whew.
(He does! Every day of the year. Really.)
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." ... Galations 5:1
"We turn not older with years but newer every day."Emily Dickinson"God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well."Voltaire
Monday, March 14, 2016
"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...
Wow. An old family friend unfriended me at Facebook. Moi! :)
I posted something funny at Facebook, they found it unfunny, we discussed it a bit (with a couple subtle 'digs' at me), then I discovered they no longer consider me their friend.
Growing-up with One Strike, You're Out People (and having met many these years since) I've watched, learned and been hurt by them for decades.
Maybe you know a few, also. They sound like this:
"I forgave you once, but I refuse to do it again."
"You love that tv show? I saw a bad episode and I never, ever watched that series after that."
"I had one negative experience with an online company. I refuse to order from them again."
"I don't care that you didn't mean for it to sound that way."
"I never thought you'd say that to me. No, we can't discuss this. I'm outta here."
And non-confrontational One Strike, You're Outters? They're excellent at silently fading away from your life (or withholding their words or affection), even after you try to resuscitate the relationship.
I used to let One Strike, You're Outters give me complexes, make me terrified about saying one wrong word, but no more. Life is too short to let anyone screw up your head.
I think 'forgiving others seventy times seven' continues to die in our society, so it behooves the rest of us to keep the practice alive, though yeah, it can get rough. Messy.
To retain our sanity in this world-gone-mean, we must remind ourselves that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities. And in these Last Days, becoming offended will be normal fare. Yet always, true, godly love is the most important thing and it never fails.
Yes, that's a lot to remember, but we live in a time never seen before, after all. Our personal love for God, Himself, must become more unshakeable than ever and honestly? I believe our relationship with Him is the only thing which will see us through, sanity-intact, the days to come.
I would say, 'I may be wrong,' but really, in this case, I don't think I am.
"Don't speak ill of the just open the door and thank them for the good times." ...
"In the last days, people will be ... unmerciful..." ... From 2 Timothy 3
And here's a P.S. for Facebook users: Clicking on 'Unfollow' is much, much kinder than clicking 'Unfriend.'
Just something to consider.
Here are a couple (not-free, alas) books I thought some of you might enjoy. I've not read them, though (my disclaimer). They just sounded interesting:
One Pair of Hands
Nothing To Do But Stay
Friday, March 11, 2016
This ancient post (2005?) came to mind more than once recently, what with all that's currently swirling around us.
Back in the 90's I read a humorous, teasing article in a Christian magazine about fasting. It asked questions like, how many Tic Tacs can you eat without it being considered cheating? And, if you make a liquid shake out of your favorite foods, is that considered bad form? Things like that. Things we've all felt before, if we're honest.
It had cartoon drawings, even, and I, personally, found the article hilarious. Cute and reminiscent of times in my own past.
But. I cringed because I knew what the Letters To The Editor section of next month's issue would look like. See, I've been around sucking-on-a-lemon-face-church-people my whole life and I know what ol' sober-sides they can be.
I knew trouble was coming--and uh-oh, I was right.
The following month? Tons of letters screamed about the 'irreverence displayed by the author toward the hallowed subject of fasting.' "He was a clod and how dare he joke about fasting that way?", they said.
I rolled my eyes (not just once) and thought, "For heaven's sake! Can't we lighten up? No wonder the non-saved don't want what we have. I don't want that, either!"
If I can't take my sense of humor with me, I'll grow old light-years-quick. If I take Life (and myself) so seriously and refuse to lighten-up, then I'm on the road to becoming morose, and well, I refuse to become a morose Christian who repels others, rather than drawing them, making them thirsty for joy and freedom.
The quota's already filled on those.
I've watched too many friends, relatives and favorite authors, even, go from joy-filled to bitter and sarcastic as they age and I've told Tom a few times after phone conversations with those folks, "You have my permission to shoot me if I ever become like that."
No, I'd rather search out the humor in a humorless day. I'll let God cheer me when I could easily crash, instead, and I'll recall blessings rather than count the bad times. I'll cling to my sense of humor, even if others are dropping theirs beside the road.
You can do as you wish, but I'll keep choosing fullness of joy, the unspeakable, full-of-glory kind, no matter what.
Fill mine to the brim, please.
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for them." ... Psalm 126:2
"Seven days without laughter make one weak." ... Joel Goodman
"I want to start right and finish right." ... Joyce Meyer
Wednesday, March 09, 2016
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" ... Philippians 4:4
Oh, my yard's been filled with sun and warmth and I feel as though I'm cheating, what with this head start upon springtime chores, this gathering of dead leaves, pruning rose bushes, turning the compost pile and reading upon the front porch.
Giddy. Just color me giddy.
Well, this morning amongst the bare trees and sunlight upon my shoulders, I finished Phyllis Whitney's Mystery of the Strange Traveler, my favorite of her books which have arrived here lately. I'm rereading her teen mysteries--these are ones I, at 17, carried home through short-cuts from that 1920's log cabin library I told you about in Chester, CA.
Did you know Phyllis Whitney wrote books until age 94 and lived to be 104? Always, I appreciate people who faithfully did what God gifted them to do, folks who didn't spend their years only thinking about what they could do.
Last month, these words kept me awake while lying in bed on dark nights around 2 a.m.: "Maybe if you'd cut back on sugary foods, you'd finally get over this bronchitis one-hundred percent."
Then finally last Monday morning, upon my pillow, I thought, "Fine! Okay, okay. I'll cut back on sugar. Sheesh."
That afternoon, Tom brought home 4 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.
!*@%$^%. He'd wanted to help a co-worker's young daughter achieve her cookie-selling dreams.
Eegads. It's frustrating how often this happens. Yet, earlier that day, I'd almost sent him a bring-no-sweets-home-again email. But I didn't do that. Almost was I persuaded to obey that nudge, but no, I ignored it.
What I'm seeing lately? Even though Tom and I have been married forever--still--we must work at communication. Assuming we know each other's thoughts, even after 37 years, does not work.
Of course, the challenge then becomes to communicate, but not nag or throw frustration fits. As with most things, balance must be sought.
Anyway, the following day, (since I cannot be trusted with 4 boxes of cookies in the house), I carried two of them across the street to Sally's. We had a nice visit, there with Buddy the Dog between us on the couch, and Sally joked about perhaps not letting the rest of her family know I'd given her the cookies. :)
Life is good, God especially makes it so, none more so than upon this cusp of glorious Springtime.
Did anyone else watch Finding Vivian Maier through Netflix? I saw it again, this time with Tom, who also found it, well--perhaps not as fascinating as I did--but pretty close.
When you live in Buffalo, this is one incredible March forecast, indeed.:
Saturday, March 05, 2016
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." ... Matthew 5:16
Not till Rory Feek's stories of his wife's cancer struggle went viral had I ever heard of Joey Plus Rory. At first I read only the headlines and avoided their videos, for truthfully? I hesitated to let the sadness touch me. This world sags with so much grief already--did I want to choose to connect to more?
But finally I braved it, thought, "I'll just view one video". I watched Joey sing That's Important to Me--and was blown away by one of the most beautiful music videos ever, especially for those of us with homemaking hearts.
Wow. The kindred spirit-ness of it all! Joey and Rory had discovered the secret: what appears tiny in this life really is huge. Important.
But then, alas. When Joey sang about growing old with her husband, I cried. Yes, the sadness touched me, but that was ok, for that gorgeous video is here to remind me of what matters and now, since yesterday, Joey is in Heaven which, Rory said, was her dream come true.
And this all made me think--again--what will each of us leave behind for everybody when we fly away?
Facebook complaints about who's running for President?
Moanings about people who use cell phones a lot?
Whining posts about weather that was too often hot/cold/cloudy/dry?
Crabbing rants about 'the new math' or high prices or ?
Arguments over the meaning of certain Bible verses?
Myriad instances of unforgiveness/holding back/worrying/guilt/fear?
Or will we leave memories of how we walked with God, saw true beauty as through His eyes and tried to help others know how good He and Grace are?
I hope you'll watch the Feek's video and spend this weekend, this whole rest of your life, realizing walking with God changes everything and Life sails by far too quickly to let the dark parts lead us.
When we remain in the light, oh the wonders which, daily, blow our minds and puff new life into our hearts...
... and help us leave a legacy worth remembering.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." ... Psalm 51:10
And a special thanks to my buddy, Barbara, for sharing this at Facebook: