Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April This and That

Better sneak a 'This And That' in on April's final day! 

1.) Always the local real estate peeper, I came across this, below, and well, hey. I understand desiring more light for your kitchen, but in this case? I'd not have chosen a picture window.  シ

Heh. Though kudos for the pretty decor they used along the stairs:


2.) Oh dear. Though I'm glad I watched this Donny Osmond interview, man, it was sad. All teary-eyed, 3 times I said aloud, "Oh Donny. I am so sorry you went through that."

Watch only if you're in an indestructibly good mood (and enjoy being a prayer warrior. You're gonna want to pray for him.).


3.) Oh yes!


4.) Seriously, every day Daniel tells me my office chair is the only one worth napping on inside this whole darn house.


5.) Tom and I much enjoyed a suspense film called Donovan's Echo. Has a bit of language (sigh) and Danny Glover (happy sigh) and it kept our interest the entire time. Saw it via Amazon Prime.


6.) Had to take my friend, Marjorie Hillis, with me to the coffee shop this morning. 

She's always chatting about gumption, spunk, and the evils of self-pity and with this eternal grey, Buffalo winter which will not die? Wow, I need her pep talks. Neeed them.

Thanks again, Marjorie, for placing me back on the Just Do It Anyway track!  シ  (And to my readers, a reminder: find what works for you, even if your friends have no clue how it helps.)


7.) Right?   


8.) Hadn't really realized this was a thing, but ooooo yes. Especially since I turned 60 --


9.)  Isn't this a lovely idea to use at a wedding? These are photos of relatives who've gone beyond, but are attending in spirit. (Thanks, Ann, for sharing at Facebook.)

10.)  Don't you just love early morning sunlight?


“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."

[Meditations Divine and Moral]” 
― Anne Bradstreet, The Works of Anne Bradstreet

 “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
― Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard's Egg


A special thanks to those who wished Tom a happy birthday! He appreciated each greeting.


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Yikes! The Serotonin Thing

"And 'don’t sin by letting anger control you.' Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. " ... Ephesians 4:27


Uh-oh! A 'spinach post'  from ol' Debra. But a necessary one which I'm feeling may help some folks today (heck, it's a good reminder for yours truly, also). Written in 2008, tweaked in 2019.  シ


Finally, 19 years later, I may have discovered the reason for my Nevada Depression Years of the 80's/90's. Wow.

Last week on tv I heard a doctor say that his thousands of depressed patients had one thing in common. Anger. The repressed, held onto over months or years kind. And the wild, scary thing? He said anger stops serotonin from being formed/released in the brain and it's serotonin which we need to feel contented and peaceful.

"Serotonin is a chemical that has a wide variety of functions in the human body. It is sometimes called the happy chemical, because it contributes to wellbeing and happiness."

Oh. My. Goodness. I surely would've appreciate stumbling across that bit of info. during those dark days. Sheesh.

I mean, when we moved to Nevada I was low-grade angry that Tom moved us out into the middle of the desert (literally). We lived in a mobile home park resembling a sandbox (on windy days, sand coated your scalp) and his job was 100 miles away.  He'd stay out there four days at a time each week, leaving me alone with Naomi in a Godforsaken town where I knew not a soul.

I'll spare you the other (whiny) details, but the anger built up inside of me. Yet on the outside? I just appeared sad. I cried a lot, attended a ton of pity parties  before Naomi arrived home from school, after which I'd pull myself together for her sake, pretending all was just spiffy.

But oh! I kept trying to look on the bright side (as 'They' urge), counting all my blessings, etc. But what confused me was the inability to find any lasting peace. Those mind exercises used to help snap me out of sad, bleak times, but they were useless at age 30.

Hey, tiny wonder now. It was all that 'hidden' anger sucking the serotonin right outta my head. 

It was my refusal to accept this new life, thus making potential terrific times, invisible. My need to feel I had control over Life's details--that only frustrated me as well as believing 'my good old days were better than these'  (Ecc. 7:10). 

All the holding-onto the old kept me from grasping the new.

Toward the end of our Nevada Years, my non-acceptance of our life wore me down. I was such a mess that --finally-- I gave in to acceptance, to being powerless to change my circumstances and to stop wanting what God did not want for me. 

And surprise! I slowly began to heal. Choosing friendship, seeking beauty in daily rituals and blooming where God had planted me (and keeping my fingers off the control switch)--all those blossomed from acceptance.

And oh my, it actually hurt to leave that wind-swept desert land in 1993. But we did and yes, I applied those desert lessons from the day I burst out of the airport doors in New York. I opened myself up to any adventures God would supply and reminded myself to remain inquisitive, accepting and God-led in this new land.

Our beginning here? Vastly different.

And I didn't realize why until, days ago, I heard that doctor speak. This 90's, newer Debra had released her anger, her need to control everything and in doing so, had created open river ways for all that serotonin to do its happy thing--

--making it easier for God, Himself, to make tons of other necessary changes so I could help spread His healing to others.  With much joy.

Did I offer peace today? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come. 

---Henri Nouwen

Don't know about you, but these 2019 days? I'm determined not to let any group/happening/cause make me a citizen of Anger Land.


And from a link which no longer takes us where it used to:

Even negative emotions and so-called sour moods can stimulate the secretion of cortisol and adrenaline and reduce the production of serotonin. Brooding about bad things that have happened to you in life, being irritable, or harboring resentment and anger all help sustain a stress-hormone response. In the long term, such bad moods can suppress normal DNA synthesis, reduce production of new brain cells, and reshape brain-cell connections in undesirable ways, helping set the stage for chronic depression or anxiety. 

- Jack Challem, Feed Your Genes Right: Eat to Turn Off Disease-Causing Genes and Slow Down Aging

Scary stuff!


Friday, April 26, 2019

When I Sent Creativity Away On Vacation

“Well, we all make mistakes, dear, so just put it behind you. We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.” 
― L.M. Montgomery


Springtime! Exactly when I needed your return invitation to creativity--you came.


It's not that Winter was rough (I complained less so it felt shorter, actually), but this week I visited with ol' Debra out at the farm (via my blog, 2008) and my, my, my. 

She was a lady high on new adventure and (dare I say it?), I envied that excited, giddy farm girl. I'd missed ol' rampantly creative Debra, what with her ten-new-colorful-ideas-per-hour mind. 

Creativity! I apologize for stuffing you inside a drawer labeled, It's Too Hard. I Can't Be Splashy-Creative In A Tiny House, Especially in Winter.

Oh, the sorry excuses I offered instead of the energy, inquisitiveness I could have used! You know, to find creative ideas which will work. And because I avoided the harder, deeper search? I, uh-oh, tasted of this quote, below--

Yikes! Don't tell me Brene was exaggerating. She wasn't. Trust me.

Yes, this winter I became better acquainted with myself, my faults, and now must be beware of certain attitudes--nipping them in the bud before they grow, climb, then wind around my imagination--and my heart.

It's a good thing to know ourselves, our weaknesses. Rather like a direction-giving map for next time.

Also, I'll not squander more time via guilt, but instead, move forward in a joyful type of forgiveness from God. Condemnation--please don't ever camp in that boggy, sinking place, ok?

Now? Now I'll keep bursting through the back door to the flowers, patios, greenery and opportunities to creatively shine out there, being grateful that God's mercies are new every morning, even after months of fooling around with self-pity (that ol' so-and-so). 

Already I'm hoping, no, believing Creativity will, herself, follow me back inside the house where oh, I've missed her, mightily. 

Frankly, she's welcome anywhere in my life that she wishes to roam. 

(Now, there's a wonderful reason not to panic when we go through things!)

Sometimes? We must return to where we last felt happy, then look around to see where we wandered off from that place.



Happiest of birthday wishes to Tom today! How lovely to grow old beside ones best friend.

Happy sigh.

(Tonight we'll be attending one of Naomi's gigs down the street, then tomorrow, we'll have lunch with her and Justin.)


Speaking of Tom, he and I were inspired by Brene Brown's conference talk about courage on Netflix last week. Some convicting thoughts there, put forth in new ways which still are swirling 'round my head.  

(But if you can't handle, er hem, 'language', you may want to skip this.)


ツ ツ ツ


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

One Crazy Thing

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end."   ... Ecclesiastes 3:11


So sometimes while I rework my earliest posts, I'll come across one which makes me smile.  Like this one from 2007--

Yesterday I read Judy's delightful post which listed six weird things about her. What a treat! And afterward I thought, "I should write a post about my own weird ways." But this morning it came to me, "Nah. I'd better just list one weird thing. My readers' shocked heads would pop all over their computers, and well, I wouldn't want that."

So here's just one weird thing about me:

1. For ten years--from the time my daughter was 4 until she was 14--I did not hold one single baby in my arms.

Not one. Not even while attending church all those years more faithfully than even the pastor and being surrounded by women having babies, like, every ten minutes.

Why not? Because by the year Naomi turned 4, I'd pretty much realized I was unable to have another baby, at least, the old-fashioned way. It just wasn't happening. And not being ok with that at only 25 years old, it would shake me for days each time I held someones baby at church.

So I stopped. I simply ceased holding babies for ten whole years.

Though, I shouldn't say 'simply', for it became tricky wheedling out of it. If I was asked if I wanted to hold the latest baby, my instant response became, "Oh! Let Tom hold her please? He absolutely loves to hold tiny babies. He'd considered it a treat." (Fortunately that was truth. Tom could hold babies from breakfast till midnight and not have one, "I wanna carry this baby home!" feeling.) 

Fast-forward ten years. There I was at a Christmas party at our pastor's house and late in the evening, a woman stepped up to me with her baby and asked if I'd hold her while she got her coat. Well, the fear and great hesitation must have shown in my eyes because the mom said, "Don't worry! I'll hurry and get it."

Finally, there was no way out. I mean, what was I going to say? "No, I can't hold your baby! I haven't held one for ten years because I'm afraid of the yearning which will come with it."? (I did consider saying that, though. heh.).

No, she handed me little Chrissy. I held her. And I felt fine. Fine! 

No yearnings, no anything. Soon I even smiled hugely because all that came to me was, "Man, remember how much work new babies are? The constant laundry, sleepless nights, exhaustion. Whew. Glad those days have passed." I stood there looking into Chrissy's face, rejoicing that now--finally--I could hold any baby in the future and be la de da hunky dory.

And ever since that night? I, too, could hold babies all day, then gladly release them. 

Now you know I must slip a lesson into this silly story, right?

--Never should I try forcing someone to do what they're not ready to, nor form ignorant opinions about their inability to do it, either. God arranged a no-way-out for me to begin holding babies again. He 'repaired me' in His time.

And only God knows when the people in our lives are ready for their breakthroughs, also. Only He can make those kinds of permanent changes.

"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."  2 Peter 3:8

Oh! And an important note: 

A major reason I could easily hold the baby? I'd long before come to accept that I was meant to have just one child. Seriously. I'd just forgotten to tell my "can't hold babies part of my brain" that fact. heh. It had become a habit and really! How wonderful to break that habit.


So I'm reading, hearing and watching some folks rip apart American Idol. Gah.

Me? I'm still loving it this year. Why? I'm keeping it this simple:

I enjoy hearing pretty songs and seeing pretty faces.

Seriously. And isn't Life lovelier when we simplify as much as possible in this complicated world?


Anyone find this as lovely as I do?



Thursday, April 18, 2019

Still Creeping Around Dead, Echoey Seasons?

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: ... a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; ...a time to break down, and a time to build up; ... a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together..."  from  Ecclesiastes 3

What gives you life and bliss and makes you happy to be alive? Do those things whenever you can.


So. Yesterday.

I sent Tom an email with a local house for sale (for cheap! Good Beaver Cleaver neighborhood, though far from conveniences) and I'd thought he'd be all, "Nice house. Want me to bring something home for dinner?", like usual.

But no, he thought we should, quick! Purchase this one. Oh wow. The house was a 10 to him, around a 6+ to me, but hey. If you've read here long you know I just desire something (dare I say anything?) to decorate.

But I emailed him back, told him, "Slow down, Buddy. Let's think about this."

Then I puttered in the backyard and oh dear. Remembered that I am no longer lithe, fit or 35. Twenty minutes later I hobbled back inside, hand on my lower back and collapsed upon the red couch. 

Don't you hate it when that happens? 

Actually, our Why We Shouldn't Move Now List is endless and I'll not whimper about it here. Just trust me: Tom and Debra cannot move at this time. 

Instead, let's travel a different tangent in this post, one relating to that house I showed Tom, ok?

Lately I'm flinging away my oh-hum-I'll-probably-never-reread-this books and you know? What an almost Twilight-Zone-ish feeling to gaze upon empty bookshelf spaces. Oh, and realizing the books left are only dearly-loved ones, well, that's cool, also.

Now, though, I need to move on and give away trinkets. Clutter. Extras.

Why? Lest our tiny house someday resembles the one I showed Tom. (Yikes! My head swirled, literally. Click to get the full in-your-face effect.)

Living room.



Oh dear. 

Wisdom knows when to say,"Enough!," in decorating (or anything creative) and cull things or move forward to a brand new hobby/direction/attitude.

Also, Wisdom respects how seasons work. How they shift, are usually temporary, never created to become stagnant pools with soulless-eyed leftovers.

And you know? Ol' Debra still needs to shake off some dead seasons. She's on a journey to discover new ones alive with adventure (and God's blessing), even though it hurts to let go (more than I tell you here) and, oh Honey--

Those photos yesterday represented a Cautionary Tale of what happens when one does not make clear-cut decisions, but attempts holding on to a vapor.

And who wants to stay stuck, alone, in an echo-riddled season now gone dark?

                                                        Today this is me. Alas.

"You reflect on the people who used to be in your life, and it's like, 'Wow, I can't believe that person was ever really in my life.' But people are put into your life for seasons, for different reasons, and to teach you lessons." 
---Selena Gomez

"Nothing that’s happened to you is a surprise to God. You’ve got to take the hand you’ve been dealt and make the most of it. It may not be fair, but God is fair. He’s a God of justice. He sees every wrong that’s been done to you, every disadvantage, every hurt. If you don’t use those things as an excuse to get bitter and have a chip on your shoulder, then God will take what was meant for your harm and use it to your advantage. He will pay you back for the unfair things that have happened."
---Joel Osteen


Oh! Speaking of 'old ways',  the store,  Big Lots, is currently switching over to what's new.

Check out Kathryn's fun video taken at her local Big Lots store here.

 (Man, I don't even like shopping anymore, but Kathryn--somehow-- makes me want to get back out there!)   ツ


Anyone else enjoying American Idol and its super talented voices and surprises this season?


But Jesus told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead."   ... Matthew 8:22


Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Night The Angels Came

While wading through old blog posts so to polish them, I found this one from 2005. Thought I'd share it with you on this cold April afternoon.


"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." ... Hebrews 13:2

I was 16. 

My family had gathered around the dinner table one rainy Wednesday night along with our pastor and his wife. At that time, my dad was the assistant pastor of our church in Auburn, CA. 

The phone rang, so my dad answered it to find that a woman was calling from a damp phone booth in a shopping center two blocks away. 

She sounded anxious, he later told us. She and her young daughter were traveling to go live with her (the mother's) father. She'd thought they'd reach his home by nightfall, yet still they had miles to go--they needed a place to stay overnight, and she had no money.

My dad asked her to hold for a minute, then he turned to us all and told this woman's story. Our pastor said, "Oh, you can call Brother ______ about it. I usually let him take care of things like that."

That sounded odd to me. Shouldn't we help this woman since she called us? (Living in the parsonage, we shared the church's phone number.) Wouldn't it take a long time to get her some help if she had to make another call and start her story over with someone who lived farther away?

My dad must have thought that, too, because he told our pastor he would drive over to the shopping center and lead her to our house.

He turned back to the phone, relayed the message to the woman, then hung up. We'd finished dinner anyway and our pastor and his wife needed to walk up the hill to our church to prepare for the mid-week service. They left, then my dad went to guide the woman to our house. My mom, sister and brother and I hurriedly cleared the table and changed the sheets on the double bed in my room upstairs which always served as the guest room.

We kids loved to have company. It didn't matter whether our guests were relatives, old friends, or the down-and-out folks my dad sometimes brought home(one traveling teen even arrived with a huge Great Dane when I was 14). In fact, I enjoyed caring for the down-and-outers best--to help and encourage them, with no strings attached. My heart always felt like it would explode from joy.

To shorten this story, when the woman and her 7-year-old daughter arrived we showed them my room upstairs. They commented on my lime-green walls and teen decor, then they settled-in while the rest of us walked downstairs. We'd all planned to attend the midweek service that night, but it was decided that I'd remain at the house in case our guests needed anything (in 1975, we weren't as paranoid about strangers like now). 

So the rest of my family climbed the backyard hill to the church and I sat at the kitchen breakfast counter with my English Lit. homework.

Fifteen minutes passed then the woman and her daughter came down the stairs with their big suitcase. With smiles, the mother said, "My daughter really wants to go see her grandfather tonight instead of in the morning. So we're going to leave now, but we do want to thank you so much for being willing to have us stay. We really appreciate it and please do tell your parents how grateful we are."

She gently shook my hand, picked up her suitcase and then both mother and daughter stepped out the front door.

This turn of events surprised me. I just stood near the door wondering if it would be ok with my parents that I let these guests get away so soon without convincing them to stay.

And then it hit me--after they'd left, I'd heard no car motor start up. Their car had been parked just feet from our house front, yet I'd seen no headlights (the door was half glass and next to our huge window). My heart pounded as I pulled back the curtain and saw nothing out on the dark, wet street.

Thirty years later, I still believe what I told my family when they stepped through our door that night after church-- that we had entertained angels unaware. It was as though they'd stepped from the door and vanished. And my story must have sounded convincing because they all still believe it, also.

We Christians will never really know until reaching Heaven just how many angels crossed our path to test what we had learned, believed and what we had become.

And yet? If we cooperate with God in the little annoying trials of Every Day, we'll always be willing and prepared for any angels who may call upon us on an otherwise normal rainy autumn night.

"... be prepared in season and out of season ...Be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined."  ... 1 Timothy 4:2, Titus 1:8

"How about rather than always trying to 'get ready', we just live ready, instead?" --- Joyce Meyer