Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Winter Vacation. Of Sorts.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."   ... Romans 15:13

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Still here! Just taking a sort of winter vacation lately, living the peace, not writing about it. 

Even though I've not gone on a real vacation since September of 2010 (the cross country train adventure), still I must lecture my head that I deserve some time off, even if it's just around the house, which it always seems to be.

A woman's work never being done (and all that), it is difficult to just stare at said work and choose to not do it. Hence, I eventually give-in.

But anyway, if I'm scarce around Blogland this week, now you'll know why.

Today the sun returned(!) and I've been at the table, rereading The Apple Turnover Murder  and staring up at the sun (with eyes closed of course) and thanking God for all things, even for Neighbor Mike who shovels the sparkling snow for us and for (promise not to laugh?) my recently discovered, much-fun Netflix tv show: Wahlburgers.

Now, weeks ago on a Saturday, I passed through the living room and noticed Tom watching that show and rolled my eyes each time, shook my head and questioned his usage of time. But oh dear, when will I finally, truly learn to not judge a tv program after watching only two minutes of it? Sometimes I wonder.

All I know is that Wahlburgers delights me, makes me laugh aloud and even cry at times, especially the episode about Paul's 50th birthday. That one really got to me (sniff, sniff) and it's a great episode if you only have time to check-out one. And who doesn't love their mom, Alma? I especially like their stories of the old days when, as a family of 9 kids, they had so few things, but much love for each other. And lastly, I enjoy praying for these people.

Anyway.

Today is Naomi's 35th birthday and hence another reason I need a day off. Wow. What a mathematical impossibility, I muse! And yet it's true: my sweet little girl is 35-years-old. Oh, how fleeting, this thing called Time.


Well, the brownies in the oven are nearing the end of their baking time and my book awaits me as do the Wahlbergs. :)

I just wanted to check in with you all and let you know I'm still here, still alive and thinking good thoughts (not bloggable ones as of yet, though) and still surrounded by peace and much joy. And I'm wishing all the same for each of you.






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Did you see this photo of panicked, before-the-storm shoppers yesterday in New York City?




This is why I so often nag recommend that we all stay stocked-up on groceries and ready for anything.  :)


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Free Kindle books:


The Touch of Sage

The Rose Legacy

Guitar Adventures

Foreign Invaders

Friday, January 23, 2015

Of Temptations to Scream ...

"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


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So. My favorite local coupon lady at Facebook alerted us that, at WalMart.com, they were practically tossing clothes out the door for free.

She'd bought this jacket for only $6 (regularly $40):



And these jeans for only $2 (regularly $15):


Well. I could have zipped over there in the wee hours of morning, but noooo ... I waited ages (not being a WalMart shopper for clothes, mostly), and when I did take a peek, wow! Much was already sold out, but still, enough nice things were left in my size. After an hour, my cart had lots of items at only $3 or $4 or $5 dollars each, reached around $53, then, ten minutes later, wham! Suddenly it said $107. 

The clearance sale had ended.

Oh. My. Goodness. I wanted to scream, especially since my head ached from all that concentration and clothes/weight angst and squinting through these cheapo reading glasses and being awake since 4:00 a.m.. Ack! All those good deals gone forever (and no way was I gonna pay the double price).

But then it came to me: nothing is worth throwing a fit over, especially not losing ones great deals at WalMart.com. So I repeated a few times, "I will not get mad. I will not get mad...", then went to the kitchen for some magnesium calm-down powder from Naomi (which I take before bed and, truth be told, occasionally before Tom comes home from work. heh). I even returned to Facebook to see if others had experienced the same tragedy--and they had, one woman having had 100 things in her cart(!) Oh dear. So I commented about my experience, adding a bit of humor.

You know why these tests happen, don't you? So that when we're s-q-u-e-e-z-e-d, we'll behold what comes out: sweet or sour, fragrance or stench, grown-up-ness or baby-ness. So we can then ask God, "Please show me what's rotten within and how to empty it, so I can behave more like You next time."

God doesn't want us to spend our years in disappointment misery, but rather, in a calmness, a contentment which comes from trusting Him more than any person (politicians included) or job or friend or relative or bank account. 

He wants to mean more to us than anything, to be our go to encourager, the lifter of our heads, especially when we're tempted to bang those heads upon our computer's keyboard.  :)



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"I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it[a]overflows). ...   John 10:10

"...For it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."   ... 1 Peter 1:16


"The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her."  ~Marcelene Cox



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Another of those great deals was this zip-up sweater for $3 rather than $20:




Oh well! Tom leaves for S. Africa in a couple weeks so I'll have the car on weekdays and can shop at my good ol' faithful Salvation Army on Half-Off Wednesdays where I always find quality clothes which last for years (no, really!).


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Free Kindle books:





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Check out the weekend freebie at Savingstar.com here.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Starving Your Inner Artist?



Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord ... He has made everything beautiful in its time."   ... Colossians 3:23, Ecclesiastes 3:11



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While I walked through the always-adventurous halls of Jr. High, my mother copied paintings on canvasses. Oh, not in an art forger way (being a pastor's wife and all), but rather, she'd see a painting in an art magazine of an autumnal forest or a ship at sea then she'd sit at the table for some days and paint those scenes on canvas.

Well, this impressed my family and guests and I, myself, began drawing. I'd clip those ads in magazines which said, "Draw this deer, send it to us and we'll let you know if you have talent." (Remember those?) Except that I never sent them to anyone lest they write back and say, "Is this a joke? How old are you anyway?". 

Alas. I also drew trees that looked like they'd grown on Mars, horses with six legs and children's faces which were downright frightening.

Eventually I gave-up and you know? Sometimes giving-up is the right thing to do. (Decades later I taught kids' church and you should have heard those naughty children laugh at my stick-figures.)  

Yet while forcing the art thing in Jr. High, I also rearranged my bedroom a lot. While my mom studied pages of art magazines, I'd stare at decorating pages, usually (expensive) French colonial styled rooms, and with an extremely optimistic eye, I'd think, "If I can arrange my room like the magazine one, it'll look nearly as nice." And afterward, through my ever-hopeful, childish eyes and imagination--it did.

And that was my art. My drawings were trash-worthy, but I could rearrange a room to make it more spacious, efficient and imaginative, if only to myself. I'd stand in the corner near the door and behold the new symmetry and ambiance and call it Good.

Forty years later, I still do that. And even as I cook breakfast for Tom in the mornings I look at our living room with its lamps glowing upon the mustard-colored curtains and the red couch against the green wall and I feel a sweet contentment tug at my mouth. It's all good and pleasant to the eye, now, to this older me, to my family, and to those of you who are encouraged by my decorating-on-a-budget home photos.

Oh, not to the degree of inspiration given by this lady whose rooms have been known to actually heal and uplift her fans from despair pits. But what matters is that I just follow God and leave the results to Him. And whew. The pressure leaves when I recall that.

As Sarah Ban Breathnach said in Simple Abundance, "We are all artists... The beautiful, authentic life you are creating for yourself and those you love is your art. It's the highest art. 'Since you are like no other being ever created... you are incomparable.'"

Yes we are. Incomparable. Each of us are given a uniquely-arranged assortment of gifts and talents through which God wishes to bless and bring back to Him all the people upon this planet He created.

No talent is so small that no one's gonna noticed if you ignore it. All gifts matter and affect how this world spins. God had a plan and who are we to second guess it? Tweak it? Call it bad/too hard/unnecessary? (If only we realized the pride in thinking, "God only gave me inconsequential gifts.") 

I believe He waits for our help in putting back together His world-gone-all-wrong. It starts with me, with you, with all of us artists who desire to see a world the way it once appeared within God's own hopeful eyes. And it could be, if only we'd never again say, "Let someone with real talent do it."








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

"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.." ...Romans 12:6



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Valentine's Day is only a few weeks away! Have you ordered or made your Valentine's yet?





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Speaking of the empty nest (my last post) ... Did you read about the way this woman has chosen to live in hers? My, my, my ... Some days I'd like to join her, not only in winter time, but summer while I'm mowing our lawn.

And there are less-expensive ways to do what she's doing. Even allowing for inflation, this article written some time ago, shows ways to lower the costs.