Tuesday, November 29, 2011

... but they didn't steal my JOY!

Ever have one of those days?

I woke up with a mission to begin the Christmasification of the old homestead... 

First, I couldn't find  the little apron I made to camouflage my simmer pot last year....

I looked for more of that wrapping paper to make a new one, 
but there was none to be found...  

In fact, there wasn't a single snowman left in the wrapping box. I had to use this one.   I'm calling those stripes candy canes. Don't debate me.

Then, I made my Christmas simmer scent with too much clove and forgot the cinnamon completely. For the record, simmer spices without cinnamon just make the house smell like a baked ham.

Baked ham does not make you feel Christmasy;
 it just makes you feel a little queasy. 

It gets worse. 

I headed to my least favorite Superstore for a few groceries but ended up with an entire load of  magical cart leapers.

The lines were long and the cashier was grumpy.  Then, I pushed that cart up and down three rows before I remembered that I had parked Ebenezer clear across the lot at the other entrance. When I opened the back to load him up, an autumn plate abiding there for who knows what reason fell to the asphalt and shattered into 400 pieces.

When I picked it up, I cut my finger. 

I had absolutely nothing to sop up the bleeding except the Walmart receipt so I pressed it between my fingers and loaded with my one good hand. That's when I discovered a rebellious little pair of scissors which had tried to escape the store without going through the scanner.

I headed back inside and got back in line to pay for the scissors where I waited behind a woman who  can't count.  Bless her heart...


I headed to Hobby Lobby for exactly three items and came out with a bag in each hand and three rolls of wrapping paper tucked under my arm.

My keys were cowering as usual in the corner of my purse so I rested one bag on the trash can to better retrieve them. I still couldn't find them so I sat down on the bench next to it.

It was a wet bench. You just can't make this stuff up, folks.

I found my keys and took my wet tail to the car.  I headed home and unpacked the goods.

That's when I discovered that those three things I had headed to Hobby Lobby to get in the first place were located in that little bag.

You know the one... the one I had left sitting on top of the trashcan.

I sort of cried a little; I admit it,
 but The Practical One is an optimist. 

They'll be there, she said.

 I really didn't believe her, but she's a pushy optimist 
so off we went to Hobby Lobby.

I was a good thirty yards away from the store
 when I saw it. 


I unbuckled right there and made like a Leaping Lord through the parking lot. I didn't care who saw me. I didn't care who saw me take this picture, either, 'cause I'm a blogger.

Yes indeed. I might have had a lousy day, but they didn't steal my JOY.


'Cause this is what was in that bag.  

Waiting to be decopaged 
with this wrapping paper...

...to hang over my old pine table...

...which is where I put my nativity scene.

The one with the Dollar Tree Jesus.

But wait!

There's already a part two to Sunday's story
 about the Dollar Tree Jesus, 
but it will have to wait for another day.
Maybe tomorrow...

So how's your decorating going?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Dollar Tree Jesus

I have a confession, and it's something I should be ashamed to yak about.

Last year, I dropped the baby Jesus. It's true. In my haste to set out our nativity scene, I was careless with the Savior and dropped him on a hardwood floor. I looked at that pile of pieces and considered repair, but really... who wants a cracked baby Jesus in their manger scene? My only recourse was to find a replacement.

Now, my nativity isn't a fancy one. I've had it since the early years of my marriage, and I'm pretty sure it came from a department store.  I've always wanted a nicer one, but right now this is the one I have.

Finding a Jesus to fit my nativity scene wasn't as easy as I might have expected. Oh, I could find Him all over town. The market is very willing to capitalize on Jesus during this holiday season, after all. Unfortunately, He was always either too big,  or too small, or the wrong colors,  or the wrong material.

I found a few that I loved, but they came with a price I wasn't willing to pay.

As the season progressed, I got a little anxious about the missing Jesus. I tried to convince myself that my pre-Christmas manger scene was exactly that, a pre-Christmas scene. Mary, I decided, was still heavy with child. As long as I found Jesus by Christmas morning, we were still good to go.

Still, every time I passed the manger, I was reminded that we were a home without Jesus. I would head out yet again to find Him, but you know how distracted you can get during the holiday season...

It's amazing how easy it is to accidentally forget.

One afternoon, late in the month, I stopped by the Dollar Tree for something unnecessary and discovered a display of  manger figurines right by the front door. They looked similar in size and shape to my nativity, albeit cheaper looking,  but the color match wasn't too bad.  I figured a dollar wasn't too much to pay if He didn't fit so I brought Jesus home.

I unpacked the figure and set him up among the rest. He actually didn't look too bad, and a Dollar Tree Jesus is better than no Jesus at all, right?  Mission Accomplished. Jesus is in the house.

When the husband came home, he took one look at my Dollar Tree retrofit Jesus 
and just shook his head.  

But Deb-or-ah... He's blonde. 

Indeed, He was. I have no clue why I hadn't noticed that myself. I guess I was too busy making sure that my  Jesus image fit with the scene that I had already established.

I told you I should be too ashamed to yak about this one...

Who ever heard of a blonde Jesus? I've never been all that great in geography, but even I know they're aren't a lot of Swedes settled in the Persian Gulf. Besides that, Jesus the Savior was an Israelite, a Jew from the house and lineage of David. Everybody knows that.  Who in the world would make a blonde Jesus?

And who in the world would buy one?

Yeah, I know the punchline... a blonde.  

But maybe there's a little truth to that. Maybe that Dollar Tree Jesus was manufactured for the folks who like their Jesus to look a little more like them.  

Or maybe, it was just a careless Jesus seller who was counting on careless Jesus droppers trying to retrofit Him into their Christmas scene without paying too great a price.

Just a thought. 

That's my story this morning, and I'm ashamed to admit that it's a true one.

Or maybe, it was all really a parable.  
Maybe, just maybe, it's a little food for thought.
This year, as we embark the journey 
we call Christmas, 
 what kind of Jesus fits into our scene? 

comments off

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Healer, the Honey, and the Willow

What do you call a person who procrastinates a post about procrastination?
Apparently, you call her Debbie.

A few weeks ago, I read a wonderful post on My Place to Yours challenging us to create a Sally List, a list of things that we want to do but have been procrastinating.  The inspiration was this cute little quote.

The day I read Susan's challenge, about 400 Sallies jumped to my mind, one of which was to invite our youth pastor and his wife for a thank you dinner.

You see, a few years ago, the youth program at our church was so very ill that it looked as if it was terminal. For reasons best left unyakked, we had a group of young people, Miss Whimsy included, starving for leadership and even more, for love.  

Then God sent Jason, a young man just starting out on the path to the pulpit and engaged to be married to a quiet young woman named Honey. 

Yeah, that's really her given name. Her parents must have chosen the name as they did in the Old Testament, with an eye to what the child would become. Honey is one of the sweetest women I've ever known, and it's a natural sweetness, too. She genuinely loves my daughter, and my daughter loves her right back.

By the way, the name Jason means healer. 
I report; you decide.

Well, something happened the very Sunday after The Sally List Challenge was posted. Jason and Honey approached the pulpit at the end of the service to announce that God has called them to another mission. My thank you dinner would have to happen now or not happen at all.

Looks like Providence to me...

Friday night, they came for supper. The aforementioned daughter came home too, even though she's going to be back here on Tuesday for Thanksgiving break.

It was a very casual supper of chili and sides, mainly because I wanted all the work done in advance.

(And OK, I also wanted to use my soup tureen, which has been posing as a decorative item for 25 years and never actually used for soup.  Using it  is  was an item on The Infamous List.)

These  pictures are lousy because 
the sun was already setting, and I was too busy to worry about it. 

I used some dishes that match my tureen.

The centerpiece was simple.  
Yes, it would have looked nicer with candles, 
but Honey and Jason didn't come alone, you see. 

In the years since God sent them,
he also sent them a precious baby girl named Willow. 

I personally think tables ought to be flameless when a baby is around, especially when the baby is named after a tree.  

Rather than dig out our old high chair,  
we just played a game I called
  Pass the Willow.

According to the rest of my family, I won.  

So anyway, I completed a Sally List item with no time to spare. Honey's family arrived Saturday morning to begin the process of packing them for the move.  We had a wonderful evening, even though we kept them here so late that we had a Weeping Willow on our hands by the end.

I'll miss them.

I won't pretend I didn't cry before they left. I tried to explain to them just what it meant to me to have someone love a child the way that they love mine, but in truth, God will just show them in His own way and in His own time. Some day, their little one will need to be loved, and God will send the healer and the honey.

And then, they will know.

In the meantime, I think baby Willow will be in good hands. After all, she's named for a tree... planted by the water.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Darkness you can feel

This morning, my class will be studying what we call the plague of darkness. By this time in our study, the Egyptians are pretty well battered. They've suffered everything from blood in the water to locusts on the green.

The LORD has shown god after Egyptian god to be just what they are, worthless idols. As He approaches His grand finale, He calls out the big Egyptian kahuna, Ra, the god of the sun.

That's one way to look at it anyway, and I agree that view has merit, but there's so much more.

You see, what they experienced wasn't a mere eclipse. Even in an eclipse, there's a sliver of light.  No, what God created wasn't an eclipse of the sun. It was utter darkness, a picture of the very essence of Hell.

Then, the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt - a darkness which can be felt."  
(Exodus 10:21)

A darkness which can be felt.

The words used describe a heavy, dense, dampness. Even if the Egyptians could have seen to get around, and they couldn't, they wouldn't have been able to kindle a flame. This darkness would have snuffed it out before it started.

Utter darkness snuffs out even the artificial light.

Years ago, the Farm Sister and I took our girls on a trip to Tennessee. While there, we visited a place called The Lost Sea. It's a dark body of water deep below the earth's surface. To reach it, you have to spiral down the descending path of a cavern.  We were nearing the bottom of the pit when our tour guide stopped and  told us that we were going to experience something almost impossible to experience above.

He called it utter darkness.

He needed our cooperation, though. We had to cover up any source of  light we were carrying,  no matter how tiny. We covered watch faces and turned off cameras. One little girl was wearing sneakers with those little flashers on them so he asked her mother to stoop down and cover them with her hands.  

And then, he turned off the light.

There we stood in utter darkness. It took about two seconds to realize just how dark it was, too.  I couldn't make out face or form of the girls, even though I knew they were right next to me. Miss Whimsy called out to me, and I tried my best to grope around and hold her because I knew she was scared. It's impossible to describe that darkness. It's a darkness that must be felt.

Awesome as it was, though, it isn't the darkness that I remember most from that day. It's what happened next.

That mother moved one hand away from a sneaker light.

In an instant... in the twinkling of an eye as they say... that one tiny light pierced the darkness.

It flashed, and then it glowed. Before long, I could make out forms around me. It wasn't utter darkness any more. When Mama removed her other hand, the second light added to the first, and well... you know where I'm going with this.

To say that I was grateful for that little light is an understatement. Standing in utter darkness, it meant everything to me.

In this season of thanksgiving, I find myself expressing gratitude for so many things. They're good things  like my faith, and my home and family. This morning, though, I'm stopping to be thankful for all the little lights in my world who refuse to be snuffed out, who do their part no matter how small,  to pierce the darkness.

You know who you are...

Even more,  I'm thankful for a Savior named  Jesus who reached all the way down into a Darkness named Debbie and called me out of it into His marvelous light.

And this little light of mine? I'm gonna let it shine...

comments off 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Simply Smiling

It seems like a lifetime since I wrote my last Simple Pleasures post. Yes, I know that I said I was going to continue to find them,  party or no party, and I have tried. It just that I couldn't seem to get them from my head to my fingers.

This week, though, I have a simple pleasure to share.

This simple little house sits between our neighborhood and town. I probably zoom past it dozens of times in a week, never giving it much notice.

 Even if I did, I probably noticed this thing. 

 That's the ramp where the front steps used to be. 
I guess, if I ever noticed it at all, 
I would have noticed it was a handicapped house. 
I might have called it that, too. 

That's not what The Practical One calls, though. She calls it The Happy House.  The other day, she showed me the reason why. You see,  she noticed  something about that house that  I had missed.

Can you see it

Pssst. It's over by the garage.

How about now? 

It's a smile... 
courtesy of a good imagination and a happy green noodle. 

Now folks, that's what you call a home with a positive attitude.

I loved it so much that I stopped Ebenezer and whipped out the shiny red Kodak,
and do you know what happened
as I snapped those pictures of the smiling house?
I found myself smiling back. 

Finding the smile was
 this week's simple pleasure.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I love you Mr. Rustoleum Man!

Have I mentioned my love affair with spray paint? I'm sure I have since spray painting is one chapter behind  decoupage in the Makeover for Dummies manual.

Yep. I love a spray paint makeover, and one of my favorite products is the ever popular Oil Rubbed Bronze. I've tried various brands, but I'm just a Rustoleum fan. It seems to me that their spray goes on smoother and the can lasts longer than the competitors.

Until recently.

Recently, our Lowes decided to replace all the regular old aerosols with the Universal stuff. You know, the one with the funky looking nozzle. It's supposed to be better angled or some such thing.

 Bah humbug.

I do not like them. Maybe the south Georgia autumn is just too humid for a topless nozzle or something, but over the past few months, I have had to toss three of them out with plenty left in the can because the nozzle wouldn't budge. 

Finally, I called Mr. Rustoleum Man to complain.

And you know how they say you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?
Well, call me Honey. It must have been a good hormone day or something because I managed to have the entire conversation with sweet cream butter melting in my mouth.

Guess what Mr. Rustoleum Man did
in response to my honey dipped complaint.

He sent me this.

A case of ORB in the regular old cans. I told him that I would give him a shout out on my blog. I could tell he was really excited about that.

I feel like a kid at Christmas.

So yesterday, I finally tackled a project that I should be too ashamed to yak about, the porch lights flanking   my front door.


In case you can't tell, they were once antique brass. I knew I needed to change them, but apparently it was easier just to apologize for them every time someone came to the front door.

Which isn't really that often.
Which is probably why I neglected it so long.

Thanks to Mr. Rustoleum Man, I now have a new,free set of porch lights.

I just pulled them off the wall and removed this little knobs on the bottom. 

That let me remove the glass plates.  Then, I washed the glass and the whole ugly thing with some white vinegar. Then, I primed it and painted it.

There ya go. A new light fixture.  By the way, did I mention it was free? 

 I think it looks pretty good.   

Fortunately, reattaching a light fixture isn't rocket science. You just twist white wires to white and black wires to black and then cap them. You can't possibly mess up unless you're color blind.  The hardest part is figuring out which breaker to throw so you don't have an electrifying experience.

The oil rubbed bronze looked so nice that I pulled my brass door knocker off  The 101 List on my sideboard and gave it a makeover too. I don't have a before shot. Just picture this all shiny brass with some icky spots and and a name you could no longer read.

 But then, 
I realized that the bronzed light and knocker
 made the brass door knob look really, well... brassy.

I took it off and painted that too.

Put it back on the door and uh oh...

I  realized how very badly
my front door needed to be repainted.

Off they came again. 

So that's what I'm doing this morning. I bought a shade slightly different than the current one. I think it will look better against all that oil rubbed bronze.

As I painted this morning, I started thinking.  I'm always thinking...

Maybe it's time for a bold new color for the front door. Maybe I'll do it after Christmas.  Of course, a new door color would probably make me think the shutters look a little  lame...

And then a change in the shutters would probably make me want to change the house color...

Am I the only old blogger who swallows the fly?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Moses had a speech impediment

...or did he?

We tend to think so. It makes a really good email forward, after all. We love to know that God can use anyone, regardless of his handicap. After all, they say, Moses had a speech impediment.

So did I.

I was born what they used to call  tongue- tied. One big - mouthed baby wail, and the Duchess discovered a little unfinished business with my yakker.  My tongue, she noticed, was unnaturally attached to the bottom of my mouth. She alerted the doctor, who did some kind of snipping to untie my tongue and make it go flippity flop.

It's been flippity flopping ever since.

Even with the rapid response, however, I still had some speech issues which sent me to the therapist as a little one.  That's why I always liked the notion that Moses had a speech impediment.

But did he really?

If you read most English translations, he did.

Then Moses said to the LORD, "Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am *slow of speech and slow of tongue." (Exodus 4:10)

The problem is that a study of the Hebrew doesn't back it up with concrete evidence. What Moses means by slow or heavy of tongue is open to debate, and debate it they have... for millennia.

They claim everything from a stammer to an unfortunate lip burning incident. Many scholars don't believe it was an impediment at all, but that Moses considered himself to be a bit of a rambler. 

I can still relate...

I like to tell my class that in the absence of a concrete answer, we should look for a larger lesson. I've been thinking about Moses and that thick tongue of his, and here's what I've been thinking:

Maybe it doesn't matter whether or not Moses had a speech impediment. Maybe, what matters is that he thought he did.   

Maybe... just maybe... his only real impediment was a tendency toward self-deprecation.

Think about it. In no place in Scripture does anyone else say that Moses has a speech impediment. In fact, in no place in scripture is it mentioned as a statement of fact. It's only mentioned as something that Moses says about himself.  


He says it so often, in fact, that he manages to irritate the Almighty.

Then the LORD's anger burned against Moses and He said, "What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. (Exodus 4:14)

His anger burned. The Hebrew words create a image of God giving a snort through flared nostrils, hot with indignation. Can you picture it? 
I can. I can even imagine myself on the receiving end of the holy snort.  That's because like Moses,  I  have a tendency toward self-limitation.  Yep. No matter how you slice this story, I can still relate.

Just like Moses, I have a peculiar calling. We all do.  Oh, maybe I won't be leading an entire nation through the sea on dry land, but I have a calling nonetheless.   And just like Moses, I keep responding to the burning bush with a list of  my own limitations... 

...which when you think about it, is a really a list of His limitations, isn't it?

Yeah, I think so too.  And  I wonder why I keep hearing the big snort.

The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. 
 Thessalonians 5:24

comments off for Sundays

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Have a Seat

I've been AWOL again, and it's my own fault.  I overdid it last week with the thrift sale, and I have been paying the price in pain and fatigue.  I don't know when I'll learn...

Anyway, I did want to drop in this evening and update on the dining room progress.  As I've reported, I have finished the china cabinet, side board and table.

There's just one little problem. 
It didn't come with chairs.

I have spent the past few months trying to find chairs to compliment the set. I'm not entirely sure what I want, but I know that I don't want new ones.

I have looked and looked...

So far, I either haven't loved the style,
haven't loved the finish, 
or haven't loved the price. 

I loved all three with this one...

Unfortunately, that was the problem. 
There was only one. This poor captain had no mates. 

So for now, I am working on a temporary solution
so I can take my time and find exactly what I want. 

You see, the set did come with two matching mahogany chairs.

They were a mess. 

Lucky for me, I like a challenge.

 Even luckier? All they needed was a good cleaning. The finish was fine.

I use Murphy's Oil Soap for furniture cleaning.
 For these, I used it full strength on a rag. 

Then  I followed with a weaker solution
and gently rinsed, trying not to get it too wet. 

I tried to snap a comparison shot in progress 
since I'm a blogger and all...

I found the perfect butter yellow damask for the seat cushions 
in the sale bin at JoAnns.
 I was thrilled with a sale price of only $6.00 a yard.

I was even more thrilled when they took off another 50% at check out.
$3.00 a yard! 

This afternoon, I changed out the cushions.
I had to remove three different fabrics before I could. 

I think the final product looks pretty good.

For the rest of the chairs, I am going to have to get a bit more creative.

There were five more chairs in the storage house that I think might have been used with them at one time. Unfortunately, they were oak. 

If you've ever finished furniture, you know that no matter how much you coax it, 
oak is never going to look like mahogany.
No matter what you do, oak just really looks like oak. 

And you might recall that I'm sick of oak right now.

I decided to paint them black and try to be deliberately quirky.
I used the left over paint from Mabel the desk. 

I haven't recovered these cushions yet,
but I tried them around the table, and I think they'll work while I shop for others,
 especially with the bronzed hardware.

Once I replace them, I'm going to use them to switch things up in my kitchen.
I'm thinking houndstooth seats in there...

Anyway, that's what I did today.
I hope to catch up in blog land.
I hope you will be patient as I do.  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Extreme Early Birding

I wanted to make this a Talk Back Tuesday,
but I was too tuckered to talk.

Remember back in June when I vowed and affirmed I would never have another garage sale? Remember how I yakked abroad my reasons why?  

Yeah, well, I'm kinda standing firm on that. I mean, a thrift sale isn't exactly the same thing as a garage sale, right?   A garage sale, you see, is a KooKoo Fest one brings upon herself. A thrift sale is a KooKoo Fest some organization brings upon her.

In this case, it's my chapter of the DAR.

This weekend, we're having a thrift sale to raise funds for our historical house.  Since I'm a trustee for that old house, I'm involved up to my thrifty armpits.  I have spent all day, every day this week in preparation.

We're collecting.
And cleaning.
And displaying.
And pricing...

And some people are shopping.

Which sort of set off my irkometer.
Which in turn set off my yakabout.

We've secured a vacant store in the downtown area, you see, and we've left the doors wide open for donations and deliveries. Of course, when you open up the thrifting doors, well... you know what follows.

I was elbow deep in brass candlesticks yesterday when I was interrupted by a male voice in my ear. A local shop owner had ventured into Thrift Land.   

What will you take for those garlands?

He gestured to a corner of the room piled with unpriced Christmas merchandise. Since I apparently had nothing better to do than state the obvious, I told him that we hadn't yet priced our Christmas items.

So he made me an offer on an entire box.

Do I look like Monty Hall?

I made him a counter offer somewhere in the four thousand dollar range, but apparently he thought I was kidding. He tried his best to drag me on a trip down Haggle Lane until I gave him such a firm No Deal that I felt like I was the rude person.

Which I wasn't.
He was.

Way back in June, I mentioned that I had a few thoughts about my least likable characters in a garage sale adventure, one of whom was the early bird. I said then that it would have to be a post for another day.

Today's the day.

Now folks, I realize that I might step on a toe or two out there, but please hear me out and consider.  First, I think it's annoying. It's annoying to be frantically setting out wares whilst navigating gate crashing American pickers who are hoarding them faster than you can get them out.

It's annoying to have to be blunt to the point of rudeness to a person who is bound and determined to create an early bird special where none was advertised. I don't know how they behave in your neck of the woods, but around here, they have unmitigated gall to ignore signs and keep right on shopping even when asked nicely to wait.

They look you dead in the eye and either feign ignorance or plead their case, all the while filling their hands full of goodies.

I think that's rude.  It's not just rude to the seller, either. It's inconsiderate to the would- be bargain hunters who actually follow the rules out there.  That's the reason I hardly ever  shop garage sales any more. By the time the rule followers get there, the gate crashers have picked it clean.

You can't let the rule breakers control the game and then wonder where the fun went.

So anyway, that's all I've got this morning. Today is my only day all week with a pass out of  Thrift Land. Isn't it just like me to waste it in a whiney wokkabout?

So how about you? Early birds, yay or nay?

By the way, I did read the questions about the Deco Ware from my previous post. I'll do a little follow up when I have an extra pair of minutes.  


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