Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Scary Thing Happened Saturday ...

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." ... John 14:27


So while Netflixing a movie Saturday afternoon (Promised Land. We muted the language. Loved the twist at the end.), Tom and I jumped when someone knocked at the door.

It was Darius, asking if we'd seen his grandma. Sally. (This initially tickled me because Darius is a big, strong black man and Sally is a tiny, elderly white lady. Her granddaughter, Misty, is married to Darius.)

Anyway, turns out Sally was missing! My best friend in the neighborhood--eegads! Darius explained that he and Misty awoke around noon to find Sally gone. Buddy The Dog was still home so Sally hadn't gone for a walk (it appeared)--she always takes Buddy with her. They'd checked everywhere for Sally.

Tom asked a few questions. I replied, "I've not taken my walk today, so I'll do that now and see if she's in the neighborhood." Tom said he'd take the car and drive around. We could tell Darius felt better for our help.

So I headed out, asked Neighbor Mike (who was weed-eating...hmm... that looks odd, but you know what I mean) if he'd seen Sally, but no, he hadn't. So I continued walking.

Arriving home, I noticed Misty sitting on the red chair on their porch, so we chatted. What concerned her was that the backdoor had been left wide-opened and as she continued, I discovered one important clue Darius omitted: Sue (Sally's daughter, Misty's mom) had left her cell phone home, so Misty and Darius had no way to ask if she'd, earlier, taken Sally someplace with her. And hadn't left a note.

I told Misty, "I'm thinking that's what probably happened, but I'll go home and pray, anyway." She thanked me.

Tom arrived soon after and said that, yes, Sally had run an errand with Sue. All was well.


But you know? Each time I began to get afraid during this unusual turn of events, God nudged me to stay calm. Breathe. Pray. Believe for the best.

Often we must go deeper than our surface emotions. You know, set aside all the bad stories we've heard over the years and instead, calmly ask God, "What are you saying? How do you want me to react or speak or feel?" 

When we can do that, we're on our way to living a saner, less yanked-around-by-drama, peaceful life. And how sweet that is.


"DO NOT BE AFRAID is written in the Bible 365 times. Thats a daily reminder from GOD to live every day being fearless."   ... unknown

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord."   ...Isaiah 55:8

"What time I am afraid I will trust in You."   ...  Psalm 56:3


Years ago I made 'where I am notes' on index cards and still keep them in a drawer. On each is written something like, "I went for a walk." "I'm next door at Sally's." "I'm shopping at Tops." Etc. If Naomi's upstairs or due home soon, or Tom's in bed, I just grab the appropriate note and leave it on our kitchen island before leaving anywhere. 

Easy peasey communication.


In 1969, I was ten and a favorite friend's oldest sister looked very much like this:

Oh, I thought that 'look' was so very 'with-it', enviable and cool!

The funny thing? Forty+ years later I still think it is.   :)

Anyone else?


Speaking of long ago, by way of my buddy, Susan, at Facebook, I saw these marvelous 1950's photos of Seattle. Instantly they reminded me of Betty MacDonald's wonderful book, Anybody Can Do Anything, (even though her story took place in the 40's).  If you're also a fan of that book, I think you'll see what I mean.

(When you get there, click on the tiny photos on the right.)


Monday, May 23, 2016

Far From Normal Days Since I Last Saw You

              "You do not have because you do not ask God."...James 4:2  (Or "You don't have because you didn't ask your husband like you meant it." --- The Book of Debra.)


Glancing out the window, I spied those two ducks chomping down the birdseed again. Uh-oh. Ducks can turn all territorial (I've read) and then, always, you must peek out your backdoor to see whether you'll get chased and nipped.

And who wants that? 

So I slipped silently outside and slowly, stepped near the ducks and 'walked them' out to the street. In low voices they quacked together, "What's up with that lady? We don't need her cheapo birdseed anyway," right before they took flight.

They've not been back. My apologies to my extreme animal-loving readers--I had to do it.  :)

Then (another) large, heavy package for our new neighbors got delivered to our house, so I loaded it on our dolly and wheeled it across the street. Our other neighbor joked with me about again needing to do that (we'd discussed this earlier). I knew he'd tell New Neighbor. 

Next day while out on our porch, New Neighbor called out a thanks to me (first time we'd spoken) and I told him, "No problem." He's one of those a-perfect-lawn-is-everything guys so I'm happy he doesn't resent our so-imperfect lawn enough to not speak to us. (We've had neighbors like that.)

Well, New Neighbor's wife and sister held a yard sale, so I dressed more nicely than my gardening clothes, crossed the street and met the wife's sweet sister. Then returning home, I spied Buddy The Dog and Sally on her steps--oh my! She'd been visiting in Ohio nearly 2 weeks and while chatting, I told her the whole neighborhood felt sad without her. That she'd been missed.

A couple hours later while returning gardening tools inside our (dark)garage, who rides his bicycle up beside me? (Good thing I don't startle easily.) Our former neighbor, Paul. I caught-him-up on the neighborhood news, told him the deck he'd built on his new mobile home was terrific (Robin shared photos at Facebook), enjoyed talking with him and felt grateful for my recent garage-organizing-minutes.

For weeks I'd hinted to Tom that I'd like to do the shopping-yard-sales thing, but he's hemmed, hawed, wanted to remain recliner-bound after busy work weeks. So Saturday I drove to Salvation Army alone and found these books(!)

(The brides' book--from 1965-- was exactly the type I'd searched for last week online, but didn't find.) These were mostly, like, 15 cents each. 

Sunday, Tom wanted to buy a guitar for Naomi, but didn't feel up  to strolling around the musician's flea market, so they left for the home of a Craig's List guy selling a guitar. 

Hours later they returned. They'd gotten the guitar. They'd been to the flea market. They'd visited a couple yard sales. They practically floated into the house on a joy bubble.

But oh dear. Ol' Debra's feelings were hurt--and I didn't want them to be! Yet my musical duo housemates had headed out with only one destination, but turned the hours into the type of fun day Tom and I hadn't had since last year. I'd hinted that I'd wanted to do yard sales for weeks, but couldn't budge him.

Oh my. I tried to be a good sport. I lectured myself, firmly, with what I write to you here. With what God's taught me over the years. But still, tears stung my eyes, even though I told myself to grow up!

But still, I came here to the computer, looked-up yard sales, saw one, grabbed the keys and told Tom and Naomi that I was going to a yard sale. And left. Found the right street, but realized the part with the sale was across our town's busy street(and through a complicated maze) and I just didn't want to go that badly.

So I came home and you know? Tom was so sweet. Said all the right words, realized where he'd gone terribly wrong. I didn't even have to coach him on any of it.  heh.

He even took me to the (unadvertised) sale he and Naomi had gone to where I found these (only 25 cents, each) :

Some days God gives me (us) surprise days so to show us whether we've grasped the lessons He tried to teach us--or not. Can we treat strangers kindly and others with forgiveness? Do we relax and make people feel comfortable? Can we 'let our needs be made known' and handle disappointment? Are we (the real us) in charge of our feelings or do they boss us around? Can we give people a break, realize their intention was (usually) certainly not to hurt us?

Can we let reminders that we've still got a long way to go humble us--or--will we remain perturbed at ourselves for our failures? Can we forgive ourselves?

So much of my life feels like college courses and you know? I like that. Learning from God makes each new day easier to handle, especially when the unexpected comes along as it--eventually--always will.

You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen. 

                                                                      Paulo Coelho

"... with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God."   ...Philippians 4:6


Free Kindle Books:

Sharpe Edge

Confection Connection

The Counterfeiter-Catching Cat

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Telling Dread To Hush His Mouth

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”   ... Deuteronomy 31:6


So for years, this has been non-yard-sale Saturdays at our house:

One of us: "We really should clean-up and organize the garage today. It's a dirty wreck."

The other one: "Yes! Best idea, ever. We really should."

One of us: "Oh look! Blue Bloods and Hawaii 5-0 are On Demand. And I forgot to tell you that _______ arrived yesterday from Netflix."

The other one: "Oh good! Hey, let's order out for lunch. Is Chinese ok?"

One of us: "Sure! Sounds terrific. Here's the menu and the phone number."


Well, last week I had a lightbulb moment: I could keep complaining about our messy garage and waiting for Tom to help me clean it (and groaning whenever I stepped in there) 


I could spend 3 or 4 minutes puttering each weekday after opening the garage door for a soon-returning-from-work Tom. You know, putting 'like things' together on shelves. Sweeping. Gathering trash. Hanging stuff up on nails. Etc. Just for a few moments.

A decision was needed, for decisions get things done. Or not done, as the case may be.

And wow. After a few quick clean-ups, almost immediately the garage stopped feeling like a nightmare. I remembered that Dread lies--he tells you (even for years) that the thing you must do will be awful and you will hate it. 

Stupid, paralyzing liar, that Dread guy.

But tell him to sit down and hush and who knows what you'll accomplish! Maybe even happily. Or slowly. Yet slowly moving forward still counts as we grow older. Whew.

“Sometimes", said Miss Phillips, "the thing you dread doing is the very thing you should do, just so you can stop thinking about it.”
― Marci ShimoffChicken Soup for the Single's Soul

“Panic and terror aren't the only kinds of fear. There are deeper kinds, more terrible kinds. Apprehension and heavy, heavy dread.” 
― Veronica RothThe Traitor

                     What are you dreading today? Just do it. And be free.


Have a bit of extra time today? Here's a post from 4 years ago detailing my (silly) dread of company dinners in fancy restaurants.  :)


Free Kindle Books:

The Sweet Dreams Bake Shop

Who Murdered Mr. Malone?

Who'll Pick Me?

Dying To Read

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Guess Who Stopped By?

Ducks visited us today...

The incredible thing is that a loud concrete-mix truck churned, garoooom, out front, (for we're getting new sidewalks), but even so? Mr. Duck (I'm assuming since male birds tend to be prettiest, a fact I mean to speak with God about someday) took a nap. A nap! Mrs. Duck stood at attention, as if to say, "You rest, Dear. I'll watch for enemies." Patiently she turned her head and scanned one area, then another.

I was reminded of God, of angels, watching over us as we sleep.

Eventually they stepped over to my bird feeder and the duck couple went berserk over the birdseed which sparrows spilled down to them. I had to laugh. And take pictures.

We didn't know Hobbit Cottage would be such an interesting place to live when we moved here in 2011. Actually, it was meant only as a temporary home, a quick way off the farm of which we'd grown tired (and which had chewed us up and spit us out).

But God knew better--He always does. And may we forever crave His ideas over our own, even the times when ours appear to make more sense.

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you."  ...Psalm 32:8


"Things are not always as they appear."  ...copied

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."  ...Isaiah 55:9

"I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for you, Lord, only make me dwell in safety."   ... Psalm 4:8


Our weekend weather was dreadful so Tom and I stayed in and watched The Lady In The Van. Most of my all-things-British-loving friends would enjoy it, I'm thinking. It stars the always-incredible Maggie Smith and we watched it On Demand, but Netflix has it by disc and most likely it's on Amazon Video, as well.

And it's based on a true story.


My gardening and introverted/dreamy-eyed friends may enjoy this collection of books by Elizabeth von Arnim. Only .99 cents via Amazon Kindle books!

A special thanks to my pal, Judy, for mentioning this author to me.

Addendum: And yes, indeedy! I have watched the so-relaxing Enchanted April.   

Seriously, I love, love, love my closet room, especially on dark, cloudy days like this one. I keep talking about it here (sorry), but it still thrills my heart to have a sunny place no matter what the weather.

The lighting is truer in this photo:

In an ideal world, that dark blue wicker shelf thing would not be in there. But as of this moment, there's nowhere else to put it. Anyone else acquainted with that feeling/type of situation?  :)


Did you know Susan Branch's latest book (the one I'm reading for the 3rd time) made The New York Times Best Seller List? Congrats to Susan!


Friday, May 13, 2016

Where She Returns From Goofing-Off

"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

Still here!

Just needed time to goof-off out in my yard, to read and putter and transplant seedlings out there without forming blog posts inside my head (a rather annoying habit these past 11 years). To think my own thoughts, to hear in the silence what noise covers up.

How wonderful to fulfill winter dreams! To sit bathed in sunshine in a sweater, but not too warm, and imagine the crab apple tree has her toes in blue frothy water--

... and to unearth these two picket fence pieces from the garage because I finally (these things take time) thought of the perfect place for them:

How wonderful of God to create Springtime-- weeks where organizing the garage, washing and hanging laundry, and turning heavy garden soil with a shovel feels like playing outside as a child, even if your body feels nowhere near as lithe.

The secret, I believe, is keeping our mind limber and light and free from weight --and taking many, many breaks.

If you've not stepped outdoors yet today, please do, ok? Breathe in fresh air and release any heavy thoughts weighing you down. Fill your head with everything going right, let go of what's wrong. And enjoy God while celebrating Springtime, wherever you may be, city or country or in-between. Finished or unfinished, caught-up or far behind, don't wait for perfection--the perfect friend or child or neighbor or house.

Life is such a sweet, sweet gift, even today. Such as it is.

How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.” 
― Virginia WoolfThe Waves


And yes, I actually did read my new Susan Branch book again. It was that good. 

I even considered reading it a 3rd time (!), but chose to reread The Gift of an Ordinary Day, instead, underlining the myriad sentences which make me shake my head at her ability to put into words exactly how I've felt before.  Like this, for example:

"In the meantime, the answer to every question seems to lie in letting go, settling into the long, spacious days and restful nights---all the windows open, all the doors unlocked---and trusting that for the moment anyway, we are exactly where we need to be. Whenever I manage to do that, when I can give myself over to the moment at hand, I am suffused with peace."


Have you watched the movie, Joy, yet? Oh, that first half hour--so subtly, delightfully quirky that I giggled nearly every moment. 

The rest became pretty intense, but still, inspiring. You know, one of those 'never quit, even when everyone else tells you to' films. 

Based on a true story. For a Christian perspective review, go here.


Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day In My Unhaunted Garden

If you look up my address on Google Earth, it will show you a haunted house. 

Well, sort-of. You'll see a dirty blue house on a grey day covered by overhanging trees, two leaning against a garage with a rusted, dark-blue-painted door. There's junk on the front porch, overgrown hedges and no fence hiding the neighbors' yard which looked bleak back then.

Hobbit Cottage sat empty for 5 years(!) and on one of those days, Google Earth took a sad photo of the type of house you'd hurry past when walking, lest someone jump out and grab you.

Trust me. I'm not exaggerating.

But someone came along in 2011 and made everything new inside our someday house, though not doing much outside except installing a new garage door, mowing the lawn and trimming the hedges. 

Oh, and the neighbors had added a fence (and made their yard beautiful).

At the top of this post the word 'legacy' is used and part of mine is that God and Grace and I (and tree chopper, concrete and painter guys) turned our yard from haunted-appearing to well, kinda sweet and sunny.

The someone's-gonna-get-you feeling is gone, anyway.

My poor ol' back isn't what she used to be, so I wear a brace and do the best I can. There's lots of sit-down-gardening going on and I bring bricks back from Home Depot in small batches. Some days I move almost in slow motion as gravity tries to pull me from the waist, down(anyone else know that feeling?).

I'm learning not to hurry, to keep up not with the neighbors, but with God's direction and timing. To follow the rhythm of Grace. And s-l-o-w-l-y it all gets done. 

Hobbit Cottage is, these days, a place full of light and oh, the peace, especially when Tom, Naomi and I safely gather within her walls in harmony, in grace and in gratitude. 

Lately I wish as a wife, mother and Christian woman for our home to be more of a light in neighborhoods near and far. May I create a more sure legacy, one stretching on into Heaven, somehow, as the time for that new home marches closer.

            "Leave the world better than you found it." ... copied


Happy Mother's Day from my happy home to yours to all my special readers!

And yay! Naomi is home this Mother's Day (well, technically she's at work, but I did see her this morning and she's not in TN). Tom and I celebrated Mother's Day yesterday so that's when Naomi gave me a potted plant, a small octagonal keepsake box with yogurt covered fruit, a candle and organic chocolate. (She must have inherited her perfect gift-giving skills from long ago relatives or God, but certainly not from her parents!)

Yet the very best thing is that she's here with us this year.  


"Inch by inch anythings' a cinch."...copied


Friday, May 06, 2016

But Does Debra Like New Books and Stuff Also?

Yes. Yes she does. But after all the chatter of old books in my last post, you may have wondered.

True, probably my very favorite books (adult, teen, children) were written in the 1940's, 50's and 60's. There's just something mind-calmingly-satisfying to me about certain vintage books.

But! Never would I quip, "Old books are the best books, the only ones worth reading." Some (usually kinda cranky) ladies say that...

... but not me. And you'll not read here that the old church hymns are the only songs God approves of or that He only attends small churches on Sundays. 

Nor will I say yesteryear's fashions were better than today's. Uh-oh, wait. I might say that. heh.

No, but seriously, one of my favorite Bible verses ever is this:

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."   ... Isaiah 43:19

And what I've seen? God does and says things in new, fresh ways through people today all the time. He's so vibrant and creative that it's impossible for Him to live inside the oldy-moldy, same ol,' same ol' box that many Christians cram themselves into (and then wonder, "Why aren't I happy like I used to be?").

Even in 2016, yes, He makes a way where there is none and turns our mourning into dancing, shows us how to fix what's broken and gives us new eyes to see things His way.

And not only does He mend torn-up hearts, He's able to create whole new ones.

Always, God is moving forward and Heaven help us if we resent the people up the road ahead walking in step beside Him.

Perhaps we can't hear the beat others dance to because we closed our ears to such things years ago.


"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."   ... Ezekiel 36:26

"Behold, I make all things new."  ... Revelation 21:5


Newer (post-1960's) kids' novels can be just as wonderful as vintage ones! Here's just a sprinkling of ones I love:

Ten Kids, No Pets

Eleven Kids, One Summer

Stand in the Wind

Look Through My Window

When Pigs Fly

The Exiles

The Exiles At Home

The Penderwicks Series

Absolutely Truly

And I'm a big fan of the new cozy mysteries, you know, decent morality-wise books written around bakeries or cats or sewing shops or bed-and-breakfast inns or--

In fact, there's a new link in my blog roll to a blogger who reviews cozy mysteries for us. Awesome!


In two days I positively devoured  Susan Branch's Isle of Dreams. Ohhh.... talk about a new book being just as marvelous as old ones! 

I'm going to start this book all over again today. Seriously. There's so much in there besides the story, itself, and this time I'm going to savor every quote and photo and drawing. Slowly. Out in my wicker chair in the sun where it's actually going to be warm enough again to do so(!)

Oh, and because my credit card started over today (don't you just love the day every month when that happens?), I ordered Susan's book, A Fine Romance. In Isle of Dreams she left off where she'd talked alone with Joe for the first time and I simply must find out what comes next!  :)

And yes, for those who are wondering, I do read Susan's blog. I've been a fan of Susan's since the early days when she used to snail mail us paper Willards. Oh my, I'd make some coffee, grab a cookie (or 3), sit out on the porch, rip open that Willard and slowly read and savor it. Happy sigh.