Wednesday, December 30, 2020

What (I Hope) 2020 Taught And Brought Us



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


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2020, right? Call me weird, but I found it fascinating. 

It's as though for my birthday (March 16th) I received a wild rollercoaster ride, one which still zooms and shakes me 9 months hence.

Now, I already gave you a list of my favorite portions of 2020, but I left this out: this verse majorly came to life:


A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. From out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks."  ---Luke 6:45


Let's just say, now I know where my friends stand on Life issues.  ツ 

That white fence that Christians often try to sit upon, the center one where you go when you don't wish to commit to a side? Oh my. Mostly it's toppled; the rest will completely drop, flatten, in 2021. 

We'll all be left standing on one side or the other and I'm thinking folks on the opposite half will not welcome us. Perhaps if they've been dear friends for years, a form of friendship can survive. Maybe. Yet if both of you pour out your heart, your sweat, into battle for totally opposite values? Hmm. I'm not sure.

We've survived this turbulent 2020, hopefully we've thrived, even. Much changed. Much which used to always work, appears to be broken now. Leaning. Useless.

What a year! We learned--


Who and what to trust. Who and what not to.
When to speak. When to stay silent.
Who to follow. Who to remain far away from.
When to fight. When to stand still.
The importance of giving to others. To fling hope everywhere.
And to dwell more than ever within that secret place near God's heart.


And Almighty, God? He made Himself obvious to those who recognize Him. 

Yet so did satan and his minions and oh, what they released upon our land: deception, restriction, dependence, fear, lies, confusion, and false 'religious spirits' attempting to tie it all up in neat, logical bows. 

Well, phooey on all that. 

Since age 15 I've walked around what I call The Opposite Track, often feeling only God and I jogged alone. But now, because of 2020? Man, it's always crowded out there! Consistently I'm jostled (nicely) by many others speaking from their hearts the same abundance found within mine.

And oh, what wonderful company.

This in-one-accord crowd steps beside me out there now and 'oh how pleasant when we dwell in unity'.  They help keep me inspired, focused and far from overwhelmed. 

After the ways 2020 equipped and taught and strengthened all who relied upon God, well, I would've hated to miss this crazy year. What riches resulted from it.

And in 2021? May we use every tiny piece of experience, wisdom, and supernatural joy we were given, hanging onto God's arm tightly, boldly stepping into all He has waiting for us in a land with no center fence anymore.






"Faith means you have it in your heart before you have it in your circumstance. But it can be just as good as having it if you really trust and believe God.   ---Joyce Meyer

Did anyone else make a list of improvements made in your home and your life during 2020? I'm still finding much surprise and comfort and inspiration in mine, especially given what 2020 was like. It's a reminder that God is still God, still good, even in a year unlike all others.


2021! Already I'm anticipating how God will show Himself strong in all our lives---

---and a P.S.? Yes, 2021 will have some huge surprises, but just think how much better prepared we are to face them after having gone through 2020!


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Have an extra minute? I hope you'll read this very encouraging post I spied over at Youtube--


You won’t know til heaven the kinds of giants that opposed you and you took out in 2020. You won’t know the magnitude of the onslaught that you survived but heaven does.. It is serious increase and upgrade time for those who have held to their post this year AGAINST ALL ODDS.. This year was the awakening of the bride and the promotion of corporals to generals.. the changing of the guard and the revealing of foundations. You won’t know how many heads rolled at your sword this year and how many demons ran at your decree. You levelled up this year by laying on the carpet.. by taking the low road when opposition surrounded you. By holding up your sword when you didn’t feel like you had the strength to fight. By holding onto the hem of Jesus’ garment when others were throwing in the towel. By fixing your eyes on the author and finisher of your faith. By making a stand for righteousness when it wasn’t the popular thing to do. By keeping your heart right when accusation was raining on you. By speaking up instead of burying your head in the sand. For holding onto what God said when it made you look ridiculous.. I hear the Lord saying “WELL DONE for choosing me in 2020!” ---Nate and Christy



This former police officer was a hoot over at Dry Bar Comedy. His routine often referenced things from decades ago, stuff young folks wouldn't understand ...smile...



I hope your Christmas was special! Ours was, as Goldilocks would quip, just right. シ

A very special thanks to all who so faithfully read my blog during this wild and woolly 2020! I truly, truly appreciate it.



"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." ... Matthew 6:14,15

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Gifts Which Will Last Forever (Literally)


"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness."   ---Romans 12:6-8


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2020. What a ridiculous ride, right? Sheesh.

Oh, the shaking. The exposing. The spotlight-revealing of our personal strengths and the places we still flounder.

Mostly? Ol' Debra felt intrigued, inspired and challenged by 2020. Fascinated, and certainly never bored. 

Even in darker times, always I felt God's comforting presence, but you know? Not always did it arrive the same way. Often God used the gifts He'd placed inside people to remind me, "Calm your heart. Everything is gonna be alright." 

No man is an island unto himself, you know. We need each other.

Those afternoons, evenings, when local government leaders treated us like children (and I felt like slapping them)? I'd sit here and watch 1970's music videos with the Bee Gee's, Carpenters, Chicago, Bread and more--and feel fine. Contented. All smiley like Stevie Wonder at his piano. ツ

But you know how lots of those artists left us decades ago? Their music gifts remained behind. 

In a wild 2020, they're still working their purposes. They soothe, balance and quiet my heart and remind me of what's --

--true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of a good report, of virtue and praise--things to think upon.  (from Philippians 4).

I appreciate anyone who reminds me of those.

Remember the original Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton books I collected? Authors penned them back in the 1930's and 40's, but in our wild Today's world, they help keep my personal horizon from tilting.

Upstairs here I live in such good company of myriad of my author 'friends' who fulfilled their callings. Their gifts keep me balanced in a 2020 unbalanced world, keep my homemaking, writing and encouragement gifts feeling fresh and anticipatory even after 40 years.

Similarly, the actors who lived in earlier eras than mine still inspire and delight me through their films. They're now absent, but not their gifts. Nope, still here in vitality upon the screen. Still bringing cheer.

And also via that world called Youtube? 

Preachers, teachers, preppers and pundits, some gone, many remaining, but all with God-given gifts which--because of obedience--will stand and bless and be rewarded forever.

In a confused world like ours, all gifts matter because all people matter to Jesus--


kindness
'words fitly spoken'
homemaking
creativity
encouragement
helping
crafting
cooking
repairing
building
teaching, etc.


 Through His gifts, He makes Himself known as the creative, helping, healing, concerned, understanding God that He is.

May we train our eyes to behold Him through the gifts He bestows and never hold back when He desires to show Himself strong through us.

May we give lavishly and always remember someone might not last the night without a glimpse through us of the incredible, life-saving God we serve.





Essential! Each of us is extremely essential to one another.


"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."  ---from 1 Corinthians 12

Which gifts will you leave behind?


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A very special thanks to these folks at Youtube who God used in 2020 to sustain my joie de vivre (shall we say). Just a small sampling, Folks--



















And speaking of actors,  here's the TCM Remembers for 2020! Bittersweet and lovely as always.



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Oh! Now here's some good news and even follows well the theme of my post--





For some lovely Christmas carols by the top soloists of the 1950's and 60's, go here.




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Merry Christmas to all my special readers!

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"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." ... Matthew 6:14,15

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It --



 The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. Fight the good fight of faith!  ---Proverbs 28:1, 1 Timothy 6:12

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Those Youtube music reactions I keep blathering on about? They led me to the old Simon and Garfunkel song, The Boxer. My favorite lines are these:

In the clearing stands a boxer

And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of every glove that laid him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
"I am leaving, I am leaving,"
But the fighter still remains.



Oh my. Following this turbulent 2020 does the fighter in you still remain, even after threatening to quit? Or did he, months ago, play the introvert card and go into hiding in 'safe spaces' (literal or figurative) with crackers and crayons? 

You might remember when the Apostle Paul mentioned a boxer--

 "Run in such a way as to get the prize...Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."  --1 Corinthians 9: 24, 26


Paul was never a fan of crybabies. Quitters. Milk drinkers who should be chomping on steak by now (Hebrews 5:12). No, he was tough, active, not passive, and he expected us to be strong in God, also.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it? 


Seek God until He becomes your closest companion.
Discover that secret place in Him where always there's a deep love and a constant sense that all will be well.
(You'll know you're near to true closeness with God when the thought of losing your best friends does not crush you.)
Boldly go where you've never gone before in Him.
Follow where He leads, even to the places of confrontation of evil.
Give, serve, love, lose your present life (way of doing things) to gain one a million times better.
And never stop before the end of any journey God sent you out upon. You'll miss out. Hugely.


2021? It'll be a year requiring all our creativity, skills, and our ability to accept and overcome challenges with determination as well as to 'encourage ourselves in the Lord' when others say nothing. 

'The fighters who remain'? At 2021's end, they'll be those proclaiming, "Wow. What an incredible, adventurous year with God that was! Oh how I appreciate what He and this year created within me."





"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes."   ---Ephesians 6:11

"The only one who will not fail you is the one that I have put my complete trust in. And that’s Jesus Christ, the son of God!" --Matt Couch


Other favorite lines from The Boxer? These--

"Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest."

Tell me about it.  シ

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Those who love Charles Dickens', A Christmas Carol, might also appreciate this. (I know I did. There's a part there I still can't shake--and don't wish to. Ever.)  


Oooooo! Time Travel. Here. And here. I certainly loved my visits with all these ladies in the Past.


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And ha! This made me smile--

Matt Couch
@RealMattCouch
Mary, exhausted, having just gotten Baby Jesus to sleep, is approached by a young man who thinks to himself; What this girl needs is a drum solo... 🙂 #MerryChristmas #Christmas



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"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." ... Matthew 6:14,15

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Don't Let Them Take Away Your Christmas


"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."   ---Isaiah 9:6


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Man, it's so sad. Following some Youtube videos, I read comments resembling this one:

Not this year. My family isn't celebrating Christmas. 2020 has just been too awful and we've lost our heart for it.

Oh dear.

Though of course, I'll add here if that's your mindset, you're free to follow it. At least that's one freedom we still have, the one of not doing certain things we'd rather not.

But as for me and my house? Uh, no. No ridiculous year nor any corrupt governor (Cuomo shwomo) is gonna ruin my Christmas! No one will tell us what we can do inside our own home. No way.

(A shocking thing in 2020? The way some friends quickly caved to allowing local government dictate what they can/cannot do within their four walls. Good grief.)

Anyway, if the government had stolen our money/way of earning? We'd still celebrate.

We'd unearth boxes of old Christmas decor and spread it around the house as a family.
Melt down old candles and make new ones to light or give as gifts.
Mail out the old Christmas cards we'd never used.
We'd bake gifts and use up all the flour and sugar and etc., if necessary, for jar gifts, believing God to provide money for more.
Hand out cards with thank-you's to neighbors and delivery people.
Daily watch an old Christmas dvd or online video with the family.
We'd craft things. Check out Pinterest (etc.) for ideas using items around the house.
Go Christmas caroling. Stand outside neighbors homes and sing. Drive around to see lighted houses.
Read the Bible story of Jesus' birth. Invite folks over. Drink hot chocolate. We'd hang stockings with tiny gifts given from the heart, even our own small things we still cherished.


Well, you get it. 

We'd never let any corrupt government's rules steal Christmas and giving and joy from us. Never. Ever.

Discouragement seeds once planted in the heart?  They grow like proverbial weeds and soon the pathways out are hidden. Overgrown.

"Let not your heart be troubled..." Discover ways to push past lethargy and despair.

Never, ever let any person, negative circumstance or an unfair year steal your God-given passion for His every-morning gift of Life. 

Never lose gratitude for His incredible, marvelous gift of Jesus.





As we seek Christ, we will find him, follow him, and have Christmas’s spirit, not just one fleeting day a year, but as a companion forever. (Thomas S. Monson)

“These times are too progressive. Everything has changed too fast. Railroads and telegraphs and kerosene and coal stoves -- they're good to have but the trouble is, folks get to depend on 'em.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter  (Only if you've learned to read between the lines of my posts do you know why I included this quote.)







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These 'vlogmas videos' have certainly put the Christmas spirit into me this year! Each morning I can hardly wait to bounce out of bed and watch the next one.




A bit of Christmas at Hobbit Cottage


Don't have official canning jars (they've been sold out for months) for making jars-with-mixes gifts, etc? Just wash off the labels of jars you have in your home/refrigerator and use those, instead. 
Life's way too short to obsess over stuff which doesn't matter.


“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!




"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." ... Matthew 6:14,15

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

If You'd Wondered Where I'd Been ....

(No, this isn't Naomi, but she's always loved this look.)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.   ---Proverbs 3:5,6

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Well, I'll start kinda at the beginning:

If you thumb through Naomi's yearbook from her senior year, you'll discover she was voted Most Unique Girl. Seriously, there she is in a photo along with the Most Unique Guy. Not kidding.

Well, our unique girl, for the past 2 years, occasionally hinted that she'd like to, someday, live on her own inside a van. (Reread that if you'd like, but yeah, you read it correctly the first time.) Youtube videos of van dwellers fascinated her and the idea of saving money living this way was tempting.

Being typical parents, Tom and I just nodded at each mention, then later, we'd go our separate ways and pray she'd change her mind. ツ

I mean, hey. This was a bit too unique for even us. Again, we are pretty darn typical in this area of Life.

But then last month, Naomi bought a van with cash she'd saved. She really did.

And ever since, she's worked hard and fast to insulate (and insulate) it against our wild winter temperatures. Then last Friday she and her elderly cat moved out of the room she'd rented for months and into her van and out to our neighborhood's streets.

But it's ok, it really is. Once Tom and I began receiving grace to accept that this is Naomi's dream, well, it's gotten easier, though yes, we're all making adjustments, learning when to ask questions, when not to, learning to trust Naomi (and God) with this big change and other such details, shall we say.

Now, it's a beginning of a new adventure, so please, no one ask questions designed to make me worry, ok? It's a step by step, one day at a time thing--we've taken only a few steps so far. 

Of course, you're probably asking why Naomi doesn't just move back in with us. Well, simply put, that's not part of her dream.

Back in 2008, Tom and I followed our crazy dream of owning a farm and even to this day, we express our utter gratitude that we slipped into that fast-closing window in time. What a tragedy to have waited until too late.

And now? We're viewing this time in Naomi's life as her own 'farm dream,' a bit more unique than our dream years ago, but just as valid and worthy, nonetheless.

We all need the freedom to live our God-given dreams, even in 2020 when it's become harder to do so. But even a year like this one can't erase the fact that with God, all things are possible.

Yes, they still are if we're led by God to find a way when there appears to be none.





God is always stretching His kids, giving us things which require we lean not on our own selves and resources, but on Him. It's called living by faith and He's pretty hugely into that.



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Who else still believes the song, Ventura Highway, sounds as amazing today as it did during our teen years?

Here's Jamal's reaction to it. (He's my favorite music reaction guy.)


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Okay, my art-loving friends might really enjoy this. Wow. Incredible and dare I say haunting?












"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." ... Matthew 6:14,15

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

A Popsicle Heart? Uhm, No Thanks.




"Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold..."   Matthew 24:12


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Do certain Bible verses ever haunt you? Well, a couple are currently haunting ol' Debra. 

Oooooooo.............   ツ

They cling to my mind, waft behind my eyes somewhere until finally I do something. Obey them, share them at Facebook, write blog posts, etc.

Well, here are my latest Oooooooo haunting verses--

 "Older women are to teach the young women to love their husbands and children. They are to teach them to think before they act, to be pure, to be workers at home, to be kind, and to obey their own husbands. In this way, the Word of God is honored."   ---Titus 2:4,5


Yikes. How often do we see that happening these days? Especially considering we're all older than someone(!) and the verse did not specify, "If you don't have a teaching gift, Honey, you're exempt'.

Yikes.

Man, I think we're royally messing this one up. If we weren't, wouldn't we see hundreds of memes and stories, say at Facebook, instructing younger women how to live wonderful, godly lives? At Twitter, MeWe, also? 

Shouldn't there be absolute floods of living-your-best-life encouragement from Christian women since we're all called to it?

Now, whew. Fortunately I see lots of this type of helpfulness in Blogland and at Youtube.

Homestead Tessie and The Somers, via Youtube, are my favorite helpers-of-the-young and color me grateful for the many Youtube women whose hearts haven't turned into popsicles (did you read the verse at the very top?). 

I so appreciate those who do not say, "Listen, I'll just help my own family, my own sanity, but that's all I'll risk. People these days are mean."(Maybe because we're not all doing those Titus 2 verses?)

Yes, these days are evil. They are. But no, we can't afford to allow love--the thing more important than faith, even--to freeze into ice blocks.

After all, God said this:




But He never, ever said this (or that it's ok)--


Nor this--


Sadly, I've seen lots of Christian ladies post these. ☹️ 

Also, some favorite Christian men bloggers and Youtubers keep ending their posts basically with, "Hope is gone! Things are gonna get really bad in 2021." (Then they don't add specifics of how to fix things.)

Wow. There's a heavy price to pay when any of us teach, then leave our listeners, hopeless. That reflects upon our own lack of faith, not Truth.

When we reach Heaven? I believe we'll have tons of 'Aha! moments' and one will be this--

"Social media was an incredible ministry tool provided by God, Himself. What enormous potential was there to teach, encourage, spread hope and love to others."

At Facebook I have two friends who do those Titus 2 verses faithfully, consistently. Two out of 144. They spread hope, practical advice and encouragement to us all nearly everyday.

Of course you do not have to be on social media to obey Titus 2. (I must share disclaimers these days or people freak out.) But if you prefer so-called Real Life, I hope you're busy there instructing younger women in whatever many uplifting ways God nudges you.

Summing this up, it was written--

"Jesus did many other (helpful) things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written."   ---John 21:25


--and wouldn't it be wonderful if we arrived in Heaven and heard that we came in a close second or third? Hmm?






"So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."   ---1 Corinthians 13:13


Your family doesn't want your help in this area? Reach out of that circle and find the ones who yearn for your advice.


Whatever God asks us specifically to do, He provides everything we need, including all boldness and mental and spiritual stamina. All we must do is receive those things--and go. Do them.



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For two years (3?) I've worked on creating a capsule wardrobe, one each for spring/summer and autumn/winter.

In fact, here's my out-and-about winter capsule wardrobe--


                              (As with all my photos, Real Life looks much nicer.)  シ


 Yep. That's it, except for my leggings, scarves and a black and white top I'm considering buying. Oh and some pieces are cross-overs for the other season, the flyaway sweaters, for example. 

I have loved this capsule wardrobe adventure. How wonderful to feel comfortable (everything stretches) and that I look my best wherever I go.

But man, not till recently did I think to check Youtube for more wardrobe hints. (Gee, I'm slow. Gah.) What a plethora of wardrobe help is there!

Here below are just a few favorite videos and helpful ladies, ones who use their God-gifted wardrobe talents to help the rest of us not naturally abled--







There are oodles more! Do a Youtube search and you'll find everything in this area that you need. And be sure to keep it fun.


                                            (Gorgeous, right?)




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"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."   ---Galations 5:6


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"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." ... Matthew 6:14,15