Friday, September 29, 2017

Some This. Some That.

1.) Here's an adorable kitchen I spied in a local house online for sale. It's so cute that I don't even mind there's no window over the sink --

Sweet, right? (Though, yes, I'm not a huge fan of black appliances,  either. But still.)

2.) Back in 2013 I bravely ventured over to WalMart and bought a sorry-looking daisy plant in a 4-inch pot. It was half-off and since I'm pretty good at resuscitating cheap, dried-up plants I placed it in my cart. I love white daisies and thought, if this one lived, it would make a  small, pleasant addition to our yard.

Oh. My. Goodness. Look what it has become --

The Daisies That Ate Tokyo (and 1/5 of my flower bed)! 😲  But they remind me that some things in Life begin tiny, yet given faithful care they become beautiful--and what they were meant to be.

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

3.)  Oh! Have you watched the new show, The Good Doctor? Tom and I both found it excellent and as it ended I wiped away tears. Really great pilot episode.

4.) Wow. Yesterday our weather was 20 degrees cooler and suddenly I felt 20 years younger(!) My, my, my. I mowed (most of) the lawn and raked and pulled weeds and used the watering can and vacuumed upstairs, even, and washed carpet spots and baked a blueberry dessert and made dinner and-- Well, you get it. 

We're even cooler today and oh how glorious to feel young and well again. Whew.

5.) So in my perusal of real estate online I've seen some strangely-painted rooms, but none ever quite like this one---

Hmm. Just hmm.  😉

6.) And now to erase that image from your eyes (and mind), here's a painting by Paul Gustav Fischer which I find positively perfect --

In fact, inside my head that's exactly how I look and live my days. (At least up there it's a whole lot easier to arrange things the way I prefer them.)

And for today, that is all.


"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."   ... 1 Thessalonians 4:11,12


Oh my!  -- 




Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Life And Other Stuff

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep."   ... Romans 12:15


So yesterday morning while still feeling bummed about Tom's and my Sunday argument, I walked to the dentist's office. Not having visited for six whole months(!), the time had arrived for a cleaning.

Gee, that circus atmosphere over there really is something. I told you before it's a downright magical place--on the stroll back home I felt lighter, happier, closer to normal. Also, a change in place probably helped.

Anyway, Monday's remainder felt pleasant (well, not counting our crazy September heatwave), then oh! Look what Tom brought home for me --

Such lovely surprise flowers  which helped our home's atmosphere normalize to Peaceful. You go being married nearly 39 years and hopefully you've learned to forgive and release things. Well, if you don't want a consistently rough life, that is.

And actually? I no longer let these where-did-that-come-from? arguments send me spiraling for days. No, if I want to be blog-relevant, to avoid resorting to weak Christian platitudes and if I wish to remember how some of you often feel, well, I'll not resent difficult moments added to my story. For your sake.

I believe they call it ministry.


Oh, look what a special art-filled book I ordered --

It's full of more than art--substance, also. Lots of hints so to make our homes feel more comfortable, relaxing and luxurious. 

What a wonderful addition to my Winter reading.


Speaking of which---some may have a cow, but I'm actually anticipating Winter this year. No, really, for Summer was too hot, too long and brought lots of annoying baggage with it.

Phooey on it, anyway.

So already I'm making plans. I'll cozily hibernate this Winter with books, newly-washed afghans, old movies and hot chocolate. In fact, I'm trying now to stock-up on groceries so I won't need to order as many (and so to give the delivery guys a break during snowy afternoons).

I'll respect the season which, imo, was created so to slow us down.

Basically, I'm giving myself permission to take Winter off--no guilt allowed. Those months will be about hibernation, rest and renewal.

Really, God and I are thinking I neeeed this.


Oh and since Tom's still leaving early for work each morning to exercise and since he's still serious about eating right-- I've been looking for new recipes. Here's one he loves --

Quinoa Chicken Recipe

Really, it's pretty great, even with my tweaks, as in, I use two small cans of chicken, instead of 1 1/2 lbs. ground chicken. And 1 cup chicken broth, 1 cup water, rather than 2 cups of broth. And a few green onion shoots from the garden instead of half an onion. And I add half a can of diced green chilies to the Rotel.   

Other than that, it's practically the same recipe. 😉


Lastly, (there's more I'd like to share, but let's not go crazy)-- I saw this at Facebook and was so inspired by it --


Monday, September 25, 2017

Your Soul Been Tried Lately?

“THESE are the times that try men's souls."   --- Thomas Paine

 ---Ain't that the truth. Eegads. The news, the division out there just worsens and--even if you're not a huge news-watcher--there's still a palpable tension, stress, amongst the folks in our lives, maybe even ourselves.

Well, along those lines --

Every Autumn, Tom and I have a huge argument over you-never-know-what. No, really. Always it happens, but last week I recall thinking, "This year's been so calm for Tom and me. Maybe we'll be able to skip the dreadful Autumn verbal fireworks."

Huh. Big-time Pollyanna dreamer, me.

Yesterday Tom stepped down into our basement (something he averages once yearly) to search for weights and I specifically told him, "Just don't get mad because of what it looks like. I've spent hours clearing out that basement, but I'm not finished."

Yet twenty minutes later, what does he do? He climbs back up, complaining specifically that I'd not opened enough windows (I thought I had), things were moldy, and within five minutes insulted my ability to keep house (and the yard) and what I write in this blog.

Oh. My. Goodness. Those tasks are what I do. Hugely who I am and how I spend my life! And wow, all my insecurities wildly flung their heads--and I saw red.

I yelled. I even threw a book on the floor and Tom remarked about the immaturity of that and said, "Be sure to write down in your blog that you threw a book."

So there you go. I did.

And ha! I don't even get extra points because not for a nanosecond did I consider throwing the book at him. 😏  Men--they're so clueless.

Anyway, these are certainly the times which try ol' Debra's soul. 

They make her want to dive deep (deep!) within herself and never swim back up to Normal. They make her hold the hurt tight against her chest (and feel the dark heaviness attached to that), to cry with the pain of a broken heart, to shut her mouth and slam various doors to her heart. And lock them.

They make me feel like this song and oh, Honey. I've been so tempted to be bad

But what keeps coming to me? That still, calming voice of God. The one which reminds me that if I don't forgive, neither will He. And how much effort He's put into changing me, to making me more like Him, He who remains strong when I feel so very weak. He who'll hold me up--but only if I receive Grace, not resentment.

He reminds me that I have choices. I can sulk like a baby and lose ground I'd gained (and take these tests, again, some future day)--or--I can walk forward, in love, and grow. Today.

God loves us too much to leave us alone. He has plenty of babies whining in the nursery--but what He'd really appreciate? Friends. Real-live, grown-up, stepped-through-the-fire-and-came-out-stronger Friends.

Real friends who eagerly wait for Him to walk through the garden in the cool of the day--with hearts that have forgiven much.

"And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”   ... Mark 11:25

"My flesh & my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."  -Psalms 73:26

"Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day..."  ... Genesis 3:8


"What I'm finding is that when I'm hungry, lots of times what I really want more than food is an external voice to say, "You've done enough. It's ok to be tired. You can take a break. I'll take care of you. I see how hard you're trying." There is, though, no voice that can say that except the voice of God. The work I'm doing now is to let those words fall deeply on me, to give myself permission to be tired, to be weak, to need."

--- Shauna Niequist, from her book, Bread and Wine


Here's the rest of Thomas Paine's famous quote. Interesting, indeed--

"THESE are the times that try mens' souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Dauncey, Anyone?

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."   ... 1 Corinthians 10:31


Remember when Lucy Ricardo, before discovering she's pregnant, tells Ethel she's been feeling 'dauncey', her grandmother's word 'for when you're not really sick, but just feel lousy'?

Well, this summer ol' Debra felt dauncey, herself. Muddy-headed and bleh. Yes, because of the humidity, but also (I knew) because I'd veered from eating according to this book--

Ages ago Naomi shared Eat Right For Your Blood Type with Tom and me, and well, that book confirmed the months of online research I'd done to discover why, at 40, I felt 90, instead(!) 

And boom. Instantly I felt better when I ate the foods my blood type (O, if you're curious) thrives on and avoided the ones which send me spiraling. For me that book was--and still is--a present from God.

In Eat Right, foods are divided into these categories for each blood type:

Highly Beneficial

Do I obey the recommendations 100%? Ha, not even. But I do try going heavy on the Highly Beneficial and Neutral lists and super-light on the Avoid one.

And really, whenever I return to eating this way, my head can feel the sun rising--

--and my energy returning like a lost old friend.

Oh, and last week I ordered the Type O Cookbook. I tend to dig myself into an old rut when I eat this way, so I need new recipe ideas.

Every few years I mention this book to you, so there you go. It's like a book of hidden health secrets and common sense.

This is kind-of a diet, kind-of not. Mostly, it's about changing the types of fruits, vegetables, breads, meats and juices you buy because (according to Eat Right) even certain super-healthy foods might not be healthy for you.

I've found that to be oh so true. And thank-goodness I know the difference.


Read comments about this book here.

I've linked to the first edition at abebooks since 1.) it's cheaper there and 2.) It's the issue Tom and I own.

There are updated editions available here and at abebooks as well.


Need a more spiritual pick-me-up today? Go here. I'm so enjoying Shauna Niequist's book, Bread and Wine and I was blessed to see her On Demand on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday program. 

What an awesome interview.  Wow.

Seriously. I hope you can check it out for yourself, especially if you've lately felt convicted to slow down.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

When Debra Went All Rebel Without a Cause

"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


After I told you about this book--

-- some of you ordered it and said you loved it. I, also, am enjoying Vivian's art while slowly perusing these pages and it'll make a perfect snuggle-on-the-couch-on-Winter-afternoons book.

But. This book contains just the tiniest mention of God (in a quote, actually) and, well, much of it feels (to me), uh, er, trivial. The words leave me feeling so thirsty for the deeper things of Life and God.

Which sounds like a negative spin, but isn't, for it makes me want more of God--and that's good.

Well, just a few pages in, I began an online search for similar books (full of art), but ones by crazy-about-God authors. And well, so far, no go. (And boy, have I searched!) 

Seriously, what I really want is a Susan-Branch-ish type of book, but with God and Jesus all over the pages. Guess I'm asking way too much.


This all reminded me of the 35-year-old Debra who fancied herself a real rebel/soldier for God when she chose to never visit another Christian Book Store. Why? Because of Christian authors/singers who totally ripped-off secular authors/singers. For years I'd seen it -- a terrific idea/style for a book or album would explode on the secular market, then weeks later, bam! A nearly identical book/cd appeared on Christian Book Store shelves, but with a 'God-spin' tacked on.

The young, everything-is-black-and-white me eventually freaked-out. I told Tom, "Christians are plugged into God and should have the most creative ideas! It should be the opposite--the world should be ripping us off. How can these people even sleep at night having stolen others' ideas? Since when is stealing, but under a Christian label, ok?"

I lost all patience. And didn't shop at anything resembling a Christian bookstore for decades.

Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Where I viewed myself as a warrior for Truth, Jesus probably saw, most likely said--- 

"Debra, Debra... You are worried and upset about many things. But few things are needed--or indeed, only one."

Oh, so true. How vital to know that One person and to crave His viewpoint and His love toward others. To fight for what truly matters, but only after He's nudged me to do so.

To keep a sense of humor and to recall that, seriously, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." And ha! Now all these years later I'm searching for a Christian version of a Susan Branch book. My, how tables are spinning. My, how I have a clearer understanding of different purposes.

Does God still want me to take a stand in some areas? Of course. But now, may my heart remain pliable enough to follow Jesus and not my emotions.

"But we have the mind of Christ."   1 Corinthians 2:16

If I more often sound angry rather than grateful, something is probably wrong.


This latest book search of mine led me to this book which--though not full of art--is full of the things of God --

I've felt convicted lately to more often have company, so this is perfect. Take a peek inside the book here, perhaps save a few pennies on it here.


Oh, and yesterday while searching for a decent PG-13 suspense movie On Demand (a search oh-me-of-little-faith believed would, again, end fruitlessly), I actually found one! Tom and I both really enjoyed the film, 2:22.

When will I remember to always expect good things? Hmm?

Anyway, this film had almost no 'language', hardly any violence and we simply fast-forwarded the obligatory bedroom scene. 😉 

Part Groundhog Day, part Hitchcock, part Twilight Zone. Check out the trailer here.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

When The New Season Isn't What You'd Thought

"To everything there is a season ... For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing."   ...  Ecclesiastes 3:1, Jeremiah 31:25


Well, my summer was rather a bust. All that humidity, heat and tiny annoyances (I'll spare you), so much so, that some days I'd play the Name What You're Grateful For Game--and lose.

Oh dear.

Thankfully, September's felt glorious and yet? There's still the mowing, raking, weed-eating and hedge-trimming as well as yet one more Get Your House In Order season which must be God's idea because I'd prefer to lay on the red couch. Well sometimes, but then, lolling can become dull when overdone.

Anyway, this summer I floundered a bit, felt like somewhere out there was a new dream/vision/task/calling me--but I never found it. Mostly I felt curled inside one huge question mark, and not for the first time--I've experienced this before. You know, feeling like God has a new plan for me, but why's it invisible?

So I just kept plugging away at my certainties. All the daily obediences: homey chores, yard work, writing assignments and words of encouragement. In the past, faithfulness has often led me, poof! Up the hill to a new road, new opportunities and new lessons galore.

Yet that didn't happen this time. All obedience led me right back home.

But it was at home, at Facebook, where I got an answer. I read, "Not every season is a learning season." Wow! I'd actually forgotten that not every month should feel like a spiritual college course. Imagine.

God does give respite months. Times to slow our spinning heads and to recharge lest we burn out like that light bulb hanging over my basement washing machine. Times to simply meditate upon what we've learned and what we may have forgotten--and times to prepare emotionally for what's ahead.

So. Perhaps my 'new season feeling' was actually a resting season calling to me ("Debra, rest why don't you?"). A season to release the pressure to minister and just bask in the goodness of God already-known. Those seasons? Vital ones, yet loud voices of others in their ministry seasons (or Bible verses about slothfulness), can lead us to guilt rather than God-appointed rest.


So what remains is that I--we--obey God in our rest just as earnestly as we do our ministry to others. Obedience when He asks us to step back into silence, for a time, is still obedience, after all.

I think I missed it this summer, the calling to rest. Though ok, humidity led me to rest, but not always peacefully. Next time may I be--may I live--more aware. 

And now during this House In Order season? May I receive much grace and do with peace what should be done.

“Relax, Recharge and Reflect. Sometimes it’s OK to do nothing.” 
― Izey Victoria Odiase

 When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise."  ... 2 Corinthians 10:12


Some of you (I'm thinking) would love the quirky movie, This Beautiful Fantastic. Tom and I plan to watch it this weekend (Netflix disc). Check out the trailer here.


And here's a free kindle book I'm currently enjoying. (I'm only on chapter 2 so if it falls apart into a sleazy, disaster book, please don't become mad at me. Just move on.)  😃


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


Monday, September 11, 2017

So There I Was Last Friday ------

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."   ... Philippians 4:13


So. After eleven months, ol' Debra finally drove the annoying, complicated new car. But only because she had to. 😉

See, on Friday Tom had another colonoscopy (poor guy) and at that place, the prison wardens nurses watch us designated drivers. Trust me, the world will end before a patient drives himself home.

Anyway, a nurse led me back to Tom in recovery and after he stopped sounding so loopy-headed (and I quit laughing at him), we got him dressed. The nurse led me outside to the spot where I was to pick up Tom, then I hurried to the car so she'd not see me trying to figure out how to run it.

Eegads. My outstretched foot was about a yard from the gas pedal (via Tom's pre-setting for exiting) so I had to push the seat way up. Then when the car started (I remembered to step on the brake), the steering wheel zoomed out to my stomach. Ooof! Then I looked down at the gear shift diagram which said you have to move it to the right, then down. Seriously? I'd not seen that since I failed at learning to drive a stick shift (in the 70's with my new husband as the teacher so what else would you expect?).

Of course,Tom's long list of Things to Remember hadn't included this. I tried to find a button on the handle like our Toyota had, but gave up and moved it to the right, then down and, eventually, drove to where the nurse waited with Tom. 

He got in and I took off. At one point he said I needed to close the four window vents by using buttons on the door. "You've got to be kidding," I said. "Take my eyes and hands off the wheel? Ha! Dream on."

Fortunately, the drive home was only around 3 miles. Tom kept talking about how we'll have to customize the Setting Number 2 Button just for me so I can actually breathe while driving (remember the steering wheel in my stomach?). Right. Can hardly wait.  😉

(But seriously, at least now I know I can drive the ol' complicated thing if I must.)

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” 
― Winston S. Churchill


And the winner of The Best Book Debra Read This Summer Award? (Drum roll ..............) ----

What an adventurous life Jeannette's grandmother had! You can read about this book here. I could barely put it down.

Which reminds me--on Labor Day, Tom and I went and saw The Glass Castle (which was taken from another of Jeannette Wall's books). We both super-enjoyed it, yet I can't fully recommend it to you due to the sometimes harsh language. 

Other than that, though, it was an old-fashioned type of film like we all used to go see in our younger years, one which haunts you a few days. 

In a good way. (Well, mostly. Some parts made me truly grateful for the life I've had.)


Oh and wonderful news! Remember the coffee shop near us which I never did step into during its one business year? Well, looks like a new coffee shop will be opening there soon! Whew. Thank-you, God, for second chances.