Friday, April 3, 2015

Chapter 16

As with anything in this life, I get out of Facebook only what I put into it. The more I contribute, the more I receive. The more fun and kindness I share with others, the more fun and kindness I get back.

We mature when we stop waiting for good things to drop upon us, especially after sitting and doing nothing, first. Instead, it's exciting when we start sowing the things we'd like people to do for us. You know, rather like 'do unto others as you'd have them do unto you' and 'to have friends, a man must show himself friendly.' That sort of thing.

Sometimes we wilt because friends aren't being being the companions we'd hoped they would, but I've found when certain friends aren't 'showing themselves friendly', it's often because I've neglected them. 

Or I'm expecting them to reciprocate in the same, exact way when maybe that's not their thing--or--I'm trying to resuscitate a friendship which died years ago. Or maybe even God is wanting me to back-off of the whole friendship thing for a little while so I can become better friends with Him.

Mainly? It's good to remember we 'see through a glass darkly.' We don't always understand what God's doing behind the scenes, hence our need of patience with people who appear to be blowing it. Perhaps they're actually just obeying God.

So rather than point fingers, the better way is to always ask ourselves, "How am I behaving?"


  In the movie, You've Got Mail, there's this:

"George, are you online?"

" For me the Internet is just yet another way of being rejected by women."

Ha! I love that and often think of that line. Why? Because through Facebook, and email, I've contacted old friends from jr. high,high school and my young, married days, also. I ask about their lives and they type exciting descriptions of their years and those of their grown (brilliant) children. 

Then I tell them about my simple/farmgirl/homebody life and my waitress/drummer daughter and--often-- I never hear back from them. And then comes that bothersome sting of rejection.

"Duh!"I tell myself. "No wonder we lost contact ages ago. All we had in common was a high school, a church, a neighborhood or had babies at the same time." And though some folks can re-build a vital relationship on that stuff, I usually can't.

I believe having nothing in common is not the same as rejection--it's more a lacking of ability to connect. Not all friendships were meant to last forever! Some served their purpose only for a season. 

People change. We all travel in different directions and only some of us will meet up in a new place, still able to build something lasting. 

But that is the exception, not the rule.

If sometime down that Road of Life we reunite with old friends and form godly connections with them, that's terrific. But if we meet some with whom we have nothing left to talk about--that's ok, also. We each must travel where God leads and He makes all things new, especially relationships--and there are always new ones to be found.

Sometimes it's not me. It's not them. It's just Life.


I'm enjoying the tiny deck I made last year! I sit out here upon the boards and putter and play with a bucket of water and feel like a kid with my Barbies all over again (as I told you about here). The water gets splashed on the boards of the deck and suddenly I'm on a pier jutting out over a river. (Quite the imagination, right?)

And don't you just love June roses?

Our one-and-only here, I'm thinking our pink rosebush is old--its base is probably five inches around (six maybe?). You've got to love a rosebush that can survive storm after storm, year after year.

Oh, that we all were like that.


As Tom leaves for work, backing the car past our dining room windows, Lennon and I watch and wave to him. Tom always smiles and waves and we all feel a keen morning enchantment which remains for hours.

I'm thinking God placed hundreds of little such delights here to charm us all our days and blessed are we when we finally begin seeing them.


  So Tom's tractor buddy, Al, told him there was a swap meet (flea market) on Saturday, an annual one at the county fairgrounds. Tom and I drove there, each of us envisioning tables and miles of cool, flea market type stuff.

Well. We had to pay $6 each to get in (hmm...) and the first few tables held Man Stuff. You know, tools, hubcaps, car repair magazines, tools, old car parts, tools, diecast cars, rusty metal things and did I mention tools?

I told Tom, "We must be in the automotive section, so tell me which way you're heading and I'll search for the good stuff and find you again soon."

So in the sun, I walked up and down three more aisles, scanned table after table, and here is what I saw:

tools, hubcaps,
car repair magazines, tools,
old car parts, tools, die cast cars,
rusty metal things and did I mention tools?

Oh my goodness! Though I spied a few token items which women would appreciate, I realized we'd landed at some kind of Manly Men's Swap Meet.


So I went and found Tom, who appeared as though he'd been beamed-up to Heaven. And you know? The old Debra would have been all, "This is pathetic! There's nothing in this whole place for meeee." Yet the new being-recreated Debra felt such peace and happiness, also, for Tom finding the flea market of his dreams. 

I told him (while his eyes darted everywhere, trying to absorb it all), "I'll go out to the car and get my book, then I'll sit and read in the food court area and you can find me when you're ready."

He loved that idea. What's more? I did, too. I enjoyed sitting at a picnic table with a root beer and a spiffy yard-sale-found book while also watching and listening to people whose happiness of people felt palpable. If only the lambs and baby pigs and chickens were inside the barns, it would have been perfection.

But hooray! There was a classic car show, also, so after we ate lunch, we wandered down to all those waxed, gorgeous cars and named our favorite--a beautiful sea-foam green and white Oldsmobile from 1957. We stood before her and swooned.

The hours we spent there were fun for us both. I'm so thankful that God is changing me, grateful He's replacing my tendency to whine when I don't get my way and --instead--He's replacing that with contentment and joy.


Tom and I were just dealt a blow on this raining, dark day. Our daughter and her boyfriend of seven years are splitting up. And although this isn't a 100% surprise, it comes close.

Naomi and Carl have been living together for a couple years (and yes, we know what the Bible says about such things). But alas, now Naomi will be moving out, taking just two of her four cats with her. Naomi is letting Carl keep her favorite cat of all time--and that shocks me. I never, ever thought she'd give up Oreo--Naomi's always been more passionate about that cat than she ever was about Carl, even.

Carl! We've always liked Carl. He appeared right after Naomi's relationship with a guy we were actually afraid of, one who caused us to pray like crazy for two long years. But Carl came along and was a sweet, helpful guy who took care of our daughter. He helped us with rewiring and insulating and lifting heavy things--and more. And all those holidays with the four of us! In these seven years we grew to love him.

No, they weren't married, yet this still feels like a divorce.

Naomi will be moving into an apartment closer to her job, but a bit farther from us. Living on her own again, which will mean more prayers and more trusting of God to protect her and provide help when she needs it.

And Life will go on, I know. But these blows which come along when everything, for just awhile here on the farm,was going smoothly--these blows require Time in which to adjust. Some slowing down and healing.

And I know many of you know just what I mean.


The Japanese beetles have invaded again. 

Last year they chewed-up our grapevines and our rosebush. But unlike last year (and its overwhelming-ness), this year I'm not too busy to kill those guys. I read online that if you can get them into a bucket of soapy water, they'll die, so I found a short white plastic stick, got my bucket of soapy water and walked through our orchard, garden and grapevines knocking the shiny copper guys into kingdom come.

The woman online said to do this everyday. So now you'll know where to find me in-between the painting and gardening and mowing and pulling weeds and redecorating and --

Such is farm life.

Well, I just came inside from doing daily battle with Japanese Beetles. I think I've killed 50 so far. Generally I hate killing anything, but (don't tell anyone) I'm actually having fun whacking at these destructive creatures and seeing them float, lifeless, in my bright yellow pail.


For thirteen days Tom and I have been on 'staycation'.

We traveled to yard sales and to his back injection (where I waited over three hours, but with coffee and my books) and to that Men's Swap Meet I told you about and out to eat a ton of times and we watched scandalous hours of Stargate SG-1. 

We puttered in the yard and barn, took drives, ate lunch in front of a stone church built in 1834 out in the country, visited with Naomi, shopped and ate enough junk food to feed a village. I did just minimum upkeep in the house, made only a couple creative changes and let my email box flood with unanswered emails.

Lovely days. Days where I told Tom, "I wish you never had to go back to work and we could live this way forever."

But alas, Tom must return to work this evening and so must I. And that's a good thing.

I think it's in both Proverbs and Ecclesiastes where work is listed as a blessing. And it is, what with the balance it brings, as well as it's discipline, exercise, lessons and progress.  And with today's economy fears, work should be more appreciated than ever.

Our staycation felt amazing, but so do my Normal Days, for which I'm grateful. 


 Oh happy, happy day.

The last time I had my very own outdoor clothesline was in California way back in 1988(!) I remember being a young mom and hanging clothes in the backyard, stopping suddenly while geese flew and honked overhead I'd watch them and feel enchanted all the rest of the afternoon. 

Even without the geese, I've always found hanging laundry outside a dreamy, retro sort of thing.

At our last house, I had access to a clothesline, though, in our neighbor's yard from 1993 to around 2002. Nancy loved for me to use hers, even to the point of being a little hurt if I didn't. But sometimes she wanted to hang her clothes or our neighbor on the other side did, so the clothesline became a crowded place. 

You had to choose your wash times wisely.

Our own yard was so minuscule that there was no room for a clothesline. Trust me, I tried for 15 years to find space for one. We have no dryer, by choice, so I've always hung clothes inside the house, though a few times I lugged our wooden dryer rack outside, usually to have the clothes blow away or the rack fell down. (Are you getting why I'm so excited today?)

And technically, remember our little apartment? Well, there was a clothesline just outside our kitchen window, one which I shared with our neighbor upstairs, always wondering if my clothes were in her way, etc.

Oh but now! After all these 21 years, I have a clothesline of my very own. Now I can be like all the other homemakers on the block.

And I'm hoping the geese will fly joyfully overhead soon. 


Morning in my garden with its overgrown, out-of-control look. 

We don't even like squash all that much, so why do I grow enough for a village each year? Probably because squash is easy--you can be a horrible gardener with a black thumb and yet squash will grow for you. You can neglect it, not even glance at it and it will reward you with tons of the stuff and make you feel like a Gardening Somebody.

Squash. It does an ego, good.


  I belong to an email group where, probably once a year, the topic, "Which Grammatical Errors Make Me Insane" pops up. And oh how the emails do pour in!

"I absolutely hate it when people use 'whose' when the correct form was 'who's'."

"I can't stand to read authors who use an abundance of hyphenated words."

"My skin crawls when people say things like, 'There is tons of flowers in the backyard.'"

"Spelling errors in email ruin my day. How hard is it to use spell check?"

People. People. People.

Life is too short! Why (oh why) do we make ourselves sick over this kind of tiny, inconsequential stuff? Isn't what people are saying more important than how they're saying it? Who wants to lose friendships while racing around like Grammar Police? Who wants daily stomach aches?

Well, not me. Also, keeping score whether someone thanked me within the appropriate time limits or whether my friend invited me to her house as many times as I invited her to mine or whether someone sent an email for each one I sent them--there's ever so much more to Life.

There comes a time, I believe, when we're given a choice to remain the same or to let go of what's holding us down. And Heaven help us if we choose the former.


  Okay. So I believe I'm developing this love-hate relationship with my house and yard. But what I really desire is a love-love relationship.

How might that be possible? If I stick with this:

"... whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things..." Philippians 4:8

Have I been faithful to do that? Uh, no.

No, I've thought about how quickly the weeds grow and that it's going to take me eons to paint the large room upstairs and wow, the concrete we're going to have poured inside and outside of the garage is going to cost a fortune. I've wished we didn't have to eat any meals because they steal time and my progress and we sure do have lots more laundry to wash out here and am I ever going to transplant the zinnias from my garden to the flower beds?

I've meditated about Tom's obsession with tractors and unreliable Magic Jack is and why did I pass up those perfect bookshelves at that yard sale and why can't those darn squirrels leave the bird feeders alone?

Good grief. If that Bible verse said, "Think on all the negative stuff," why, I'd surely get an award. But it doesn't say that.

Isn't it wild how we need reminders to do things God's way? And today I'm being reminded to switch from negative gear to positive, even if I must remind myself thirty times in a row until it 'sticks.'

I can do that. With Christ I can do all things He asks of me. And I can't wait until I return to the love-love relationship with this old farm.


I've not been in Blogland awhile because, well, I've felt reclusive. The ol,' 'I wanna be a hermit' thing has buzzed inside my head again. 

Just a phase, don't worry.

I remembered the old days when I almost never could find anyone with whom to share these types of thoughts. Most other people only wanted to chat about 'fluffy-headed stuff'. For a couple years in Nevada I even despised  small-talk and I'd stay silent, (at church, especially), rather than take part in silly, going-nowhere conversations.

But I lightened up. It was either that or spend lots of time standing in corners, talking with no one. And I learned to appreciate the few people (two or three?) who enjoyed speaking from their heart the deeper things.

And then in July of 2004 I discovered blogging! Nearly 5 years ago I suddenly found a means by which to speak from my heart to anyone who chose to listen. It was like finally writing a book to explain myself and share what I believed God wanted to say through me, without requiring the acceptance of some picky, non-understanding editor. 

Since then, I've stopped begrudging anyone in my 'real life' for their tendencies to prefer small-talk. Blogging allows me to spill over what I so wanted to say for 30 years. And oh, how good that feels.

Mostly. Yet last week I thought, "You know? Sometimes I miss keeping hugging my thoughts to myself. I miss having new thoughts--or experiences-- without automatically forming them into sentences so I can later include them in my blog."

Sometimes I just want to think and hear and listen without feeling I must share it all here.

And actually? I believe God was just reminding me to think more often of Him and me than I do of Him, me, and the whole blogging gang together. Perhaps He wants me to enjoy Him and my days and just trust that later He'll speak through me here. But in the meantime, to just relax.

Some thoughts are not meant to be shared at all, or not until after they've been meditated upon and sifted. And so I think all this wanting to keep some thoughts for myself was a simple reminder to not feel pressure to form those 'instant sentences' inside my head and to just enjoy God and Life. 

And write about them only when The Spirit moves.


You know how they say, when you lose a spouse, don't make any major decisions right away? Well, I recalled that last week on a day when I'd slept less than six hours the previous night.

I was cranky. Grouchy. Sleepy and feeling lazy like you wouldn't believe. And then I walked out to the garden, gazed around at our four acres, and heard these sorry thoughts:

"Good grief. What have we gotten ourselves into? Look at this place! Look at all the weeds. And why is the stupid lawn growing so darn fast? Why didn't we buy a place with a yard half this size? And why are we always buying houses that have to be fixed-up, painted and repaired?"

Yada....yada...yada..... You know.

But then Wisdom spoke in the midst of all that whining. "Hey Debra. Your body and mind are tired. You didn't sleep well, remember? The worst thing you can do is make decisions and judgements when you're weary. You're not thinking according to what is real, but rather, according to your emotions--and emotions are changeable."

Wow. That helped. A lot.

Later I asked myself, have I bailed out of friendships because my friends said or did something unjust when they were tired/cranky/going through a rough time? Have I abandoned projects or churches or groups during their uncomfortable seasons of adjustments, instead of waiting it out?

Wait to speak. Wait to move. Wait to run. Wait until God says to go--or stay. But wait until you hear from Him.

That's what Wisdom whispered to me this week.


Remember this verse?

"Do not cast your pearls before swine." ... Matthew 7:6

Well, this is the way I've transcribed it inside my own head: "Don't cast your pearls before people who would criticize you or your pearls."

This is what I mean: There are certain people with whom I never discuss my favorite tv shows, like Frasier, for instance. Some 'offense spreaders' would tell me they never watch Frasier because once they watched a 'not-nice' episode which they had to switch off--forever. (You know, the ol' 'throw the baby out with the bathwater' thing.) Well, I loved most of the Frasier episodes-- I just skip the not-nice ones, and I hate to hear the entire series tied up with a "It's All Trash" bow. 

So I don't cast my Frasier pearls before those who would criticize them (or me for watching).

This also goes for sharing what I'm learning about eating organically and avoiding those appliances and medications (and such) which may cause damage to my body. You know, Tree Hugger stuff. Oh my, there are quite a few people in my Real Life, especially, with whom I avoid those subjects. 

Frankly, the hints that I'm primed and packed for the insane asylum bug me.

When I've watched a favorite movie or tv show 10 times, I'm quite careful I don't share that information with offense spreaders who hate that type of film/series. (Nor do I invite them to watch.) This also goes for the children's books I read, especially. I received too many, "What? Are you still a child?" comments or stares in my naive days.

Now, if I enjoyed a rousing ol' discussion where I must defend what I love, well, that would be different. (Some people love those 'discussions.') But I am a hater of conflict--I always change the tv channel when I see people arguing or I sneak out of rooms of arguers. 

Shiver. I prefer peace.

Of course, as for Life's vital areas, I will stand for what I believe--but only to a point. I've finally learned to recognize when others are beyond changing their minds. Knowing when to speak--and when to shut-up--comes in handy for ones sanity.

This keeping my pearls away from the haters of my pearls makes for a happier life. There's less setting myself up to get upset, less stress and less time and prayer needed to forgive others for hurting my feelings. 

And in Today's Crazy World? I'll take every tiny bit of good advice which enables me to see more good days than bad ones.


"If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies."   ... 1 Peter 3:10

"Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels." ... 2 Timothy 2:23


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