Thursday, November 29, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 29 - Friendship

I'm thankful that I am a friend.  Does that sound arrogant?  Well, you can't go around in life always looking at everyone and everything expecting, expecting, expecting without looking within to see what seeds you sow.  Be sure to sow friendship and you will certainly reap friends.  It may take a season before you can enjoy the fruit, but harvest is coming!  Be certain to sow good seeds.

I'm a bit lonely here in my new place.   I usually settle into a church and start making friends there and in the area right away.  It's seems especially hard because my church is fairly far from the house, so most of the people who attend there live on the other side of the lake and are not readily accessible.  I'm not likely to bump into them at the grocery store.  It's a large and busy church, so when I am there it's a bit difficult even for someone with a personality like I have to get my foot in the door with people on a personal level. 

I'm glad to know that it's only a matter of time, because I am a friend.  In fact, I'm a good friend, even a best friend.  Soon, others will know it and I'll be fairly rolling in friends!  I could very possibly be the best friend you have ever had, even if we've never met.  Be a friend.  Be one.  The rest is easy.

"A friend loveth at all times..." Proverbs 17:17

(photo credit)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 28 - Stuff

I'm thankful for all my stuff.  I am not a big one for fancy modern equipment and conveniences.  It's been my experience that with the effort of acquiring and maintaining the stuff, and having places to keep all the stuff, guarding and providing for the stuff's operation, and upgrading or replacing the stuff periodically, it's hardly worth having the stuff at all!

I tend to look for things that don't require batteries or even electricity if I can find them.  I like hand operated tools and I prefer time tested methods.  If I can use something simple and durable that costs me nothing but the original purchase price, then there's simply less opportunity for things to go wrong.

I prefer older ways of doing things, too.  Remember "cooking"?  Not buying hamburger helper and heating it at home, but actually making noodles with flour, cooking meat and making my own sauce to go on it. If I had it my way I'd grow the ingredients.  Cutting out the middle man and any extra steps gives me a greater amount of control over quality and cost.  It's sometimes and adjustment, but once that adjustment is made it's really not an inconvenience, and it's just a better and more efficient way, to my way of thinking.

That's all fine and good to a point, but some conveniences are so inextricably ingrained in my life that I don't even think about it or consider doing it any differently, let alone give thanks for it like I should.  For instance: the bathroom.  I have hot water, an indoor toilet, a sink and a toothbrush.  Can you imagine having to draw water and heat it on a stove, pour it into a basin and wash up?   How about toilet paper?  NOT an optional item.  I vaguely remember the days of outhouses,  and I can tell you from my very tiny bit of experience with them that there's plenty of reason to be thankful for a bathroom.

If you ever feel like you've fallen on hard times or that life's dealt you a bum hand, stop and think of all the people who don't even have fresh water to drink or can't get inside out of the elements to sleep at night.  They're everywhere.

I'm thankful for a soft bed and running water.  I'm happy about my tiny refrigerator even if it sometimes freezes my lettuce or melts my juice concentrate.  I'm thankful for a sink full of dirty dishes because it says three wonderful things: I have a sink, I have dishes, and they are dirty because I have had food.  I thank God for all I have.

(photo credit)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 27 - Drawing

I'm thankful that I can draw, which means, of course, that I should be doing it!   

I love to draw.  I'm not half bad at it, either, but I haven't taken the time to do much of it in years.  I set it aside when I started having kids and juggling life.  You know how it is.  

Lately I've been drawn toward it again, no pun intended.  I have all I need to start, but for some reason I'm just not jumping in there and doing it.  It seems like I have to have something in mind to draw before I start, and I can never think of a good subject.  I know I don't.  I could just draw whatever is nearby until I reacquaint myself with the motions and the equipment, but I just haven't done it.   

Then there's the ever present "blank page" to contend with.  I don't want to put that first mark on the new paper.  That's just as dumb as not knowing what to draw, yet it's almost an invisible line I can't cross.  I had this great idea (that I haven't tried) that I should put a thin watercolor wash on a few sheets of drawing paper just to take away the blankness of it.  Maybe I should just scribble a few background lines: anything to shut that screaming blank page up long enough to put a pencil on it.  When I do something I'm not ashamed of I'll post it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 26 - Laughing

Thank God for laughter!  
Most of my life growing up things were pretty tense.  I always tried to fill in any stressful periods with conversation to keep the stress level as low as I could.  If things took a bad turn I would always try to divert the bad situation by adding something lighthearted or a dose of comedy if I possibly could.  Even as a child I knew that if we could just start laughing we could fix just about anything.

Now that I'm all grown up with a home of my own, there is a lot of laughter in our house.  It just comes naturally now.  Sometimes we laugh so hard we can barely breathe!  Tears roll!  We squeak and wheeze!  Sometimes it's not even funny, but we laugh like idiots anyway.  Who hasn't stayed up too late and laugh hysterically at everything?  Or nothing? 

A friend of mine said to me once, "Christians don't have to drink to have a good time, we just have to stay up late."  Too true!  too true!

Laughing.  It's probably my favorite thing, more even than eating and sleeping, and that's saying a lot!

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." ~ Proverbs 17:22  

(photo credit)

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 25 - Pets


I am thankful for pets.  How can anyone not believe in a loving God with things like pets here on this earth?  He must really love us to bless us with such wonderful and loving companions.

We always have a dog or two.  My folks had an old man cat, Uncle Joey, the kids called him.  I was never a huge cat fan until Joey, and he changed my view of cats.  I'm probably going to have to get one for my dog.

I can't imagine a home with no pet.

Handy Dandy Back Saving Tool

With our recent move and all, my only fall harvest this year has been pecans.  I found a helpful little tool.  It's definitely a back saver!  Sorry, I haven't figured out yet how to upload a video directly to my blog, so I'm just enclosing a link:

I tried to embed it, but it changed the dimensions of the player and I don't know how to fix it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 24 - Casual Mode

I started to call this "Eating With My Fingers." My husband might call it "Underwear Time."  You know, that time where you can sit around in your jammy pants or your underwear if you feel like it.  My husband might not like me saying that here, because then it sounds like he sits around the house in his underwear.  I have never known him to do that, ever, but he calls it that because it's that time and place where he could if he wanted to. Whatever we call it, I'm thankful for the time spent comfortably with the people we are closest to and safest around, where we can let our hair down and relax.

It's the where the kids sometimes raise up a forkful of Ramen noodles so high over their faces that the foot long strings dangle over their mouths and drip broth all down their chins and necks.  I give them the obligatory scolding winding up with,  "You'd better never do that in a public place!"  It's the mom's job to say it.  Carry on.

Burping is a contest.  The dog licks our faces.  We joke and laugh and make up weird games.  The "would you rather" game is popular.  It goes something like this, " Would you rather have a spider in your mouth or a mouse in your sleeping bag?"  You choose the scenarios.  It's actually a funny game, but you can imagine it gets out of hand sometimes.

We make strange noises.  We sing really loudly.  We yell, a lot.  Not necessarily angrily, or at each other, we just yell.  A lot.  We make up weird names for each other and joke about our weird habits and idiosyncracies.  We scramble words up and then use them.  We talk in fake accents. We eat nuts and the shells fly all over the place.  We eat popcorn and I have to pick it out of the couch cushions the next morning.

We have our schedules and serious times and work times and all that.  We have special rules for when company comes over and we "behave ourselves" in public.  We also have our house rules, and I insist on some basic manners, but here in the home, the best of all places, we are at ease.

Pence Home: Casual Mode.

(photo credit)

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 23 - Ice

If you visit my blog site, you know that I usually try have music to accompany my blog posts.  I couldn't find what I was looking for for this one, so I'll just let the power of suggestion take over.  For your listening pleasure, you will now be hearing in your head, (because you can't help it) at least some portion of:  
"Ice, Ice Baby"

I'm thankful for ice.  Not snowy, weathery ice, but bagged, freezer ice.  I don't mind having a glass of room temperature water, and if a cup of juice or tea sits too long I'll generally finish it up anyway, but after a while I just want something really, really cold: ice cold.

I think of the movie, "Castaway."  Tom Hanks' character is stranded for a period of years on an island.  If something like that were to actually happen to you, you would go through a whole lot out there all alone.  If you saw the movie, it really only hints at some of the awful possibilities.  It would be very, very hard.  Every day would be another day to adjust to not being able to do any of the things you used to do.  The character barely escapes with his sanity.

When he was finally rescued and returned to "civilization", he continued in some of the habits he had fallen into during his time on the island, but, after all that he had gone through the one thing he wanted, the one thing he went back to from his life before the time he spent alone, was ice.

Not necessary, not an item I would put in my bag if I were fleeing for my life and could only grab essentials, ice would be something I'd miss a lot if I couldn't have any.

We have a little building in town that sells nothing but ice, twenty pounds bulk or eighteen pounds bagged, for two dollars.  We hit it a couple of times a week.   That's a lot of ice for a family of four. By the way, they play, "Ice, Ice Baby" after you pay, while you wait for it to drop.  You were hearing it in your head, weren't you?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 22 - Coffee

I'm thankful for coffee.  Coffee is good with everything.  The smell is the best! Nothing will wake me up faster than the smell of coffee cooking in the morning.  It's good with breakfast, sweets, toast or all by itself.  I like to get a cup and take it outside first thing in the morning while it's still quiet and just sit there, me and my coffee and whoever will join me.

I love a cup after dinner at night.  Coffee tops off dinner better than dessert.  Coffee tops off dessert!

This is Rhenda's coffee rhyme.  I could drink coffee any time.
Not like tea, needing nook and lace, I can drink coffee any place.
Often in my truck I drink.  Actually, always there, I think.
If  I buy a car, I must be sure; Is there a holder there to keep my mug secure?

I could drink it right at dawn. in my chair out on the lawn.
I drink it when supper's through.  If you show up I'll share with you.
I like it warm, but not too hot.  No cream or sugar, just the pot.
Light roast, dark roast, I don't care, As long as there's enough to share.

(Dr. Suess I ain't.   I promise never to do that to you again.)
I could drink tea just about any time, too.  Maybe I should make a tea post.

Friday, November 23, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 21- The Bible

I'm so thankful that I have a printed Bible to read.  I have several laying around, different versions and whatnot.  Can you imagine living in a place where you couldn't get your hands on one?  We take for granted that we can just open one up and read it, but what if you couldn't?  I thank God for a Bible I can lay my hands on and read and study, and I pray that I can commit more and more of it to memory.  The way things are going it may not be a privilege we will have in this nation much longer.  I hope I'm wrong about that, but better safe than sorry.

(photo credit)

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 20- The Printed Word

When I was in school I did not like to read.  Assignments in school weren't interesting enough to keep me engaged, and the style of writing was often so dull I couldn't tell you what I'd read even when I did manage to get through it.  It was all I could do to read a whole book even if if I'd chosen it myself and it sounded good to me.  I couldn't keep my attention devoted to reading long enough to get hooked on a plot or a character, and I was dyslexic to boot.  It was a chore on a good day and a nothing less than a torture on a bad day.

I remember the feeling I got when, for the first time, I read and enjoyed a book cover to cover just because I wanted to.  I was kind of proud of myself, but mostly, I still remember to this day thinking that I'd probably like reading a lot more if I knew the book was going to be satisfying and not just a horrible waste of time.  

As I got older, maybe fifth or sixth grade, I remember reading a series of whodunnits that I really liked.  It was the Charity Ames series; she was a nurse and accidental private investigator.  I imagine the books were sort of like the Hardy Boys, only for girls. They kept my interest for whatever reason.  Later on, some of the stuff they forced on us in junior high and high school turned out to be good, but for the most part I just never became "a reader."  

I continued read odd books here and there, but in the back of my mind was always the same thought I had as a kid in grade school: I hate to waste my time on a book that's less than great.   I didn't read much for many years because I just didn't want to dedicate time to something that may or may not have been worth it.

I don't know when it happened, and I don't remember any transition, but suddenly, one day, all I wanted to do was read.  How does something like that happen?  I read all the time now, and I can let hours slip away without even realizing it.  Old books are my favorites.  Fiction or non, I love old books about life long ago: farming, gardening, animals  cooking, costume, almost anything about how people used to live.  I like feeling like I've rediscovered lost lore or maybe kept someone's memory alive just by reading their work one more time.   I can get so caught up in them that I neglect things around the house.  

I love books of sermons by pastors I'd never heard of before.  I love stories about real events, re-telling things in details that would have been lost in time if it wasn't for some obscure author taking the time to record it all.  And Poetry!  When in the world did I decide I loved poetry?  Then there's children's books.  Children's books from the 1800's are great to read.  They are nothing like the books children have today.  Old farmer's almanacs are endless sources of entertainment and information.  Magazines and catalogs are interesting, especially when they have all the advertisements and prices in them.

I am thankful for books in whatever form I can get them. Printed is my favorite, but ebooks are fine, too.  I get tons of them from Google Books, but there are so many sources on the internet where you can get free reading material.  I think I'll compile a list of my favorite online places to get books and post it to the comments on this post.  Maybe I'll make a whole new post of it. Feel free to comment and leave me links to your favorite one's too!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 19 - Work

I'm thankful that my husband is working.

We get to have my mother in law here for Thanksgiving this year.  We're really excited about that!  Usually we go out to her house, but now that we're so far away we expected it would just be us here this time.  We were surprised and excited to find out she was coming!  I'll undoubtedly post about how to have a holiday meal and a guest staying over in a tiny home after this is all finished.  It's sure to be an adventure!

Anyway, Allen has to pick her up from the airport in just a few hours, at about 1:00 am or so, and bring her back here, then in just a few more hours he has to take off for work.  He had requested the 22nd - 25th off of work so we could all visit.  He has already had several unexpected days off and we thought he was going to be off straight through until after Thanksgiving now. It was shaping up that way, but the dispatcher called him and asked him to drive.  No problem.  He hadn't asked for today or tomorrow, so he went to bed to try to get a good nap in before he had to do all this.  About two hours into the nap the dispatcher calls again: change of plans. He's off.  Well, the nap would do him some good since he has to go to the airport tonight, so, no harm no fowl.  Now he's nice and rested and wide awake....


Change of plans.  Looks like he's working after all.  Try to go back to sleep, Allen.

This job has some of the weirdest, most unpredictable hours of any job I've ever heard of.  If this were an isolated instance I guess it would be one thing, but that's not the case.  Usually, commonly, it's much worse.  This one little instance wouldn't have bothered me at all, because he has been home a few days and he's nice and rested.  He's ready for it now, but that's rarely the case.  Some days he goes on little or no sleep at all, often for days on end.  Truck stop food or canned soup cold from the can, no showers and sometimes no contact with anyone: he puts one foot in front of the other almost in a stupor, sometimes.  He get s so exhausted.    Other days he sits and waits by the phone.  Sometimes he's miles and miles away sitting and waiting.

Most days we do fine with it; just grin and bear it.  Other days, like the night we are going to pick up his mother from the airport so we can have her here for our first Thanksgiving away from our friends and family and all our familiar things, and her first Thanksgiving without her husband of over fifty-one years -- I have to really remind myself that the way things are these days, we are blessed that he is working at all.  Thank you, Jesus.  I won't let my mind go there anymore.

We are so blessed to be having her here.  We'll enjoy every minute of our time.  To get all agitated because his boss called him in is ridiculous.  He's working!  We could be among the ranks of the unemployed or the underemployed, watching our lives spiraling out of control or maybe circling the drain for the last time.  My husband waits by the phone in case they call him in.   So many are waiting by the phone hoping that someone will call them about any work at all.  Here, at the onset of the holiday season, it would be especially tough to be in that shape.

Also, I think of our troops overseas.  They don't get regular meals or showers.  They are uncomfortable, tired, out of contact with the world at home, waiting.

I'll remember them all before I complain.  I'll remember them and their situation on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

God, show me where and how to be a blessing and a witness to someone this year for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

(photo credit)

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 18

I'm thankful for Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.  To begin with, it was in the big middle of my favorite season. Anything festive in the fall was wonderful to me as far back as I can remember.  Secondly, the family came together for Thanksgiving.  It seemed that more of us made it back to be together at gramma's house for Thanksgiving than for any other holiday.  Eventually it became my favorite holiday because I recognized how amazingly blessed we are, and I am thankful to God.  The idea that we could have a national holiday just to thank Him is great, isn't it?  

It's everything about Thanksgiving that I like! This holiday suits us!! We are the eating-est, thankful-est, hanging out-est bunch around! Food, family, relaxation, great weather, leftovers, games, napping: all with a heart of thanksgiving to God for all He has given us.  

Have a happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

(photo credit)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 17 - Dinner Out

I'm thankful for dinner out.  Not one of those date nights where my husband and I get to be alone together, which is worthy of a post of it's own, but just a nice dinner out someplace with the family. It's one of our favorite things to do together.  No time cooking or cleaning, separating me from the rest of them, just time sitting together goofing off, enjoying a good meal and having a good time.

We spend a lot of time together as it is.  It's one of the blessings of being home schoolers and living in a small home.  This is just something that we have assimilated into our lives as being a special and fun family time.  Cheaper than a night at the theater, more relaxing than attending some event or other, we all agree it's what we enjoy best.  Weirdos.  lol

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 16 - Signs

I am thankful for signs... and decent roads with a lot of signs... and I think maybe the guy who made the iPhone maps app, too.  My family jokes that I can get lost in my own bathroom.  Well, I don't think it's that funny....

To me, maps look like a maze.  You know, the kind a kid has where you have to draw a line from "start" to "finish".  If someplace in the middle of the maze they hit a wall, they have erasers and they get restarts.  If I get too far in and realize I went the wrong way I just need to somehow magically get back to where I started and try again.  Don't even expect me to figure out how to get anywhere from where I wound up!  It's a whole 'nuther trip now!  I have a lot of trouble getting up the nerve to break into another town and tackle all it's tangle of freeways and access roads and bypasses anyway, so please don't add a road map to it!  Road maps simply mock me when I'm in the middle of one of my moments.

Nothing beats a good, clear, road sign when I am on my expedition.  If I'm not already lost it can be as reassuring as wink and a nod and a pat on the back.  If I  am lost ONE STINKING SIGN could lead me back into the real world.  

I remember going to the airport in Las Vegas.  Never mind that I had gone there quite a few times before, I ALWAYS had trouble finding it. They had, like, one sign to get you there.  It was a tiny sign on a pole under other, bigger and seemingly more important signs.  It had a picture of a little bitty jet pointing toward the road that I was supposed to take.  I missed the turn almost every time I went there.  I must have stressed Chris horribly when he was leaving for boot camp.  I almost made him late for the Army, for crying out loud!  

Then, getting back out of the airport, the sign says to go such and such direction for the highway I was looking for.  I would, and somehow I'd wind up in the wrong place anyway or going the wrong direction on the right road.  It's a special talent I have, I guess.  

I'm hoping that the iPhone maps app will be my salvation.  Maybe I can be redeemed in the eyes of my family and not be teased mercilessly as the one who can get lost on a straight road. I haven't tried the app out yet. Maybe I should practice, because I get to venture into Dallas this week.  I'm picking my mother in law from the airport.  I'm so happy she's coming!  It looks like my husband will be off work, so maybe he'll be able to get us there and back safely.   I hope so.  I'd hate to kick off the Thanksgiving week by driving her half way to Waco in the middle of the night before I figured out I was headed the wrong way.

I will go.  I will conquer.   I will win.

(Photo credit)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 14 & 15 - Change and Opportunity

I'm behind on my posts, so I'm going to roll two into one today.  I'm thankful for change and opportunity.

Some people hate change.   Most people like things just the way they are, comfortably predictable to some degree, no surprises outside the parameters we've subconsciously set, but nothing too unusual or unexpected.  Change is inevitable, so you might as well be agreeable to it. Even if it isn't what you planned or wanted, hey, here it is! Make the best of it!

I thrive on change!  Change is opportunity.  Opportunities come with change.  Some people never hear opportunity knocking. Me?  I hear it coming down the road!  I will run out and meet it if I can.  If change is coming, why wait until it takes you by surprise and catches you off guard?  Grab it and make it the opportunity of a lifetime!

We are supposed to live by faith.  Where is the freedom to jump and follow God if we are so stuck in our plans and habits and so resistant to change that it takes an emergency to force us up?  Some of our greatest opportunities are hidden in situations that we can reject out of hand because they look too much like an uncomfortable change on the surface.  How do you know it's uncomfortable, and, if it is, how do you know it wouldn't be worth the discomfort?  That attitude is fearful or lazy, or both, and it's unacceptable.  Just a little bit of soul searching and you know that.

Most people would plan every day to be "normal" and never have any occasion to step out on faith at all.  That's not why we're here.  That's not how we're designed.  We're  created to go through life, not park in it someplace.  We are designed to be ready to go when God calls.  We are designed to be trained, and to be overcoming conquerors, victors and warriors!  How could we overcome if there were no obstacles?  How can we have victory with no battles?  To the victors go the spoils!  Have you ever had any spoils?  Wouldn't you like to have some spoils?  Even with my limited experience I can tell you, spoils make the battles worth the sweat and the blood.  You will never have the opportunities to enjoy the spoils if you don't learn to enjoy the training and then use it to win.  Stop quitting and win!

Do I enjoy it?  Ask an athlete if he enjoys his training.  He will say yes.  I'm sure he didn't like it in the beginning, but he stuck with it and eventually got to where he loved it and lived for that "burn" *that indicated improvement.  He trained for the win.  Ask a well trained soldier what he wants to do and where he wants to go after he's trained and prepared and he'll tell you, "To the battle."  Yes, I enjoy it.  I love pressing toward the mark.   I want to win.

There's and old saying that God doesn't call the equipped, but equips the called.  Don't sit on your equipment!

 ".....I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." - Php 4:11-13 

(photo credit)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 13 - Age

I'm thankful for my age.  Pastor Joe thought it was the weirdest thing that I liked my wrinkles and whatnot. I'd never really thought about it much until he laughed at me for it, but not a lot of people, women in particular, like looking older.

Mind you, I'm not just thrilled with them all.  The "let the air out of my neck" thing doesn't excite me much, but some off it is just cool!    My crepe-y skin is soft and interesting to look at.  What's wrong with gray hair and a little meat around the middle?   I'd ten to one rather try to look natural and "kempt" at fifty-three than try to look twenty-five at fifty-three and come off garish, harsh and obviously dissatisfied with my regular self.  Life makes you look the way you look.  I have a good life that I enjoy.  I look fine.  :)

Things change as you get older, some good, some bad; we adjust.  I wouldn't go back to my youth for all the tea in China!  I am settled, gained a little wisdom, I'm not worried about being cool anymore, my fashion statement is what fits and doesn't have holes or stains (just kidding...  sort of) and my need for outside stimulation can be met in a lawn chair in the morning with a hot cup of coffee.  The only thing I miss a bit is the energy level.  I could use some of the abundant energy I had when I was a teenager.  I could put it to much better use now than I did then, that's for sure.

My grandma used to say, "Youth is wasted on the young." Oh, haha, Gramma!  NOW I get it!

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 12 - In-Laws

Thank God for good in-laws, on both ends: parents and children.

I think after we are parents we are promoted to the next class: in laws.  It isn't something you just know how to do, and you can't master it over night.  I'm thankful that I had wonderful teachers.

My mother and father in-law have been stellar examples of what an in-law should be like.  I hate to call them in-laws, but I dislike all the cutesy replacement words people use for things like that even worse, so I just call them mom and pop.  Through all the ups and downs we have grown to care for each other as much as any "real" parent/kids do.  I love them and they love me.  I can only hope I learned something about how to be an in-law, and that my children-in-law will develop a relationships with me like the one I have with mine.

They taught me to keep my opinions to myself unless asked, and then when asked, stick to the Word of God with the answer.  They never butted in, never manipulated us, never pressured us, ever.  They called us but didn't ring our phone off the hook, invited us to visit, popped in some, (all those things are a tricky balance!) and always seemed to be happy with it.  I regret that we didn't spend more time with them now that I can relate to missing the grown kids.  It made them so very happy to see us when we visited.  There's never enough visit time with the kids.  I guess the trick is appearing happy with that.

Now we can't visit them as much and I miss them.  Now that Pop is with the Lord I can't be there with mom. I'm sorry, mom, I wish I could.  I love you.

My beautiful daughter-in-law: she is blessing to my son.  What more could we possible ask?  I see them, happy and doing all the in love things and it blesses my heart.  Their life is in full swing!  If I don't call enough it's because I'm trying to strike that tricky balance between so much that it's annoying and not enough to seem interested. If I don't ask about your life it's because I don't want to seem intrusive.  If I don't say I love you enough it's because I'm a jerk; I should.  I do love you, it's just still an awkward dance sometimes, getting all the steps right without stepping on any toes.  A few more years in the in-law class and I'll have 'er down pat!  ;-)

I love you all and I'm very thankful for you.

Moving into a Small Home - Attitude

Going on the assumption that you might be planning to make a change in your life toward smaller living or that perhaps you are curious as to what it may be like, I want to start with the most obvious area: space.  This is a really big topic, so I am going to try to break it up a bit.  There are some basic areas I want to try to cover in the next few posts:

Necessities - You are going to have to re-assess what you have always thought of as being necessities.  I was just certain I couldn't make it without all of my kitchen equipment, for example.  Surprise!  Not only could I, but I had to, so I might as well learn it!  You may have to break a lot of basic living habits.

Personal belongings: Storage - It's hard, but some things just have to go.

Daily Activities and Ministrations - Reading, writing,, paying bills, cooking, doing dishes, home entertainment, sleeping, etc... all of these situations become more interesting when you are only a few feet apart.

Cabin Fever? - Any way you slice this pie the pieces are small.  You can enjoy it or not.  It's your choice, but it's a situation that requires some reprogramming, a lot of self-education and preparation leading into it, and a whole lot of deliberate patience.

Attitude! - I want to say at the outset that we are not perfect family and any one can do this, but wrong or bad attitudes can make it very, very difficult.  If the whole family understands this and has made a quality decision to give their best effort you are WAY ahead of the game.

Which brings me to the topic I wanted to deal with first:
Perception -  I want to address specifically the attitudes you are probably going to get from other people when they learn you're planning to move into something small.  To the world's way of thinking we're going the wrong direction. We're supposed to go bigger and bigger not smaller.  I've had people think I was crazy, they've gotten angry, (yes, really) they've been sorry for me, afraid, confused, you name it.  Some wished they could do it, some tried to talk me out of it.  You will hear it all.

As I said in an earlier blog post, living small is historically very "normal."  It's only in the last few generations that we have decided we need big  homes.  We think that if our children don't have their own 'XX' square feet of privacy that we have somehow injured their development.  If I can't have perfect surroundings for each activity I have to perform then I just can't do it!  Even though this is NOT TRUE, it is accepted by society completely.   As a result you can get any number of reactions from people. Be prepared! Pick your battles.

Some people don't matter a whole lot in our everyday world.  We like them, they are acquaintances or whatever, but they don't factor into our day to day life very much.  Not everyone needs to know or even wants to know what you're up to.  Don't even bother to tell them.  If they find out and feel it necessary to pipe up about it, don't feel the need to explain yourself to them.  A simple, "Really? We like it," or something similar will do.  Some are bold or just nosy, but they can be politely dismissed.

Among the people who do matter to you there may be some strange responses.  Some of them we are in close enough relationship with to sit down and intellectually discuss it, and walk away with understanding and even support.  That's how it should be with most of the people, but there are those who are actually sad or afraid and you can't make them understand.  Honestly, I can not figure out why anyone would feel that way.  I've tried and tried to explain our hearts and minds to them, but they don't get it.  That's why I say now you should just politely dismiss them. They will wear you out and it is pointless to belabor it.

This is what I mean by pick your battles.  Those you care about who are having trouble with your "weird lifestyle" are just going to have to be marginalized in any future discussions about it.  A lot of "yeah, uh-huh's" and letting them know you're "fine" and life is good.

In our own situation, there were those who meant well, I have no doubt, but they really didn't get it.  They will point out a lot of negatives and they can stress you out about things where you don't need any added stress.  Everything has a negative side.  If you start listening to too much of that and begin to dwell on it you doom yourself to failure.  Don't allow it.  Dance around the topic however you need to, smile and talk about the good things.   I suggest you avoid the subject altogether if you can once you have determined they aren't going to support you.  If you felt you needed to tell them your plans, then you've done your part.  Now it's time to protect your family and home, not defend your decisions to people who, other than being a little concerned, aren't really directly effected by it.

We had people in our lives that we were very close to, people we loved and who loved us, begin to look down their noses at us over this.  OK, yeah, so that's their problem, but in a discussion about the effects of this lifestyle and it's ups and downs, this needs to be mentioned because it hurt us.  A lot.  And it happened.

I have an internet acquaintance who actually had a "friend" turn her into the state child protective agency because he felt that the rooming and sleeping accommodations they made for the children was  somehow not up to snuff.  They were actually investigated.  That is a nightmare scenario!  Thankfully it was tossed out, but the point is, some of the consequences are far more severe than the situation deserves, so, if they can be avoided by just keeping it to yourself, maybe that's the best game plan.

With most people, it's out of sight is out of mind anyway.  They'll drop it if you will.  Just leave it.  Ask yourself why you feel compelled to discuss it with anyone you might be getting ready to discuss it with.  It might just be excitement on your part, but not everyone will be as excited as you are and you might be borrowing trouble, so weigh it out.

I guess I said all that to say this: Be ready for some opposition.  Who knows why; it just happens.  Just be sure going in that it's the thing you want to do, and do it for real, well thought through reasons.  The best way to calm everybody's nerves is to be a success at it.  You can only do that if you're sold on it yourself.  We just recently passed our one year mark.  If, later on, anyone who had any of those thoughts about us in the beginning actually let it cross their minds that we live in a small place, which I doubt, then they would probably say to themselves, "Wow, they did it."  That's good enough.

Monday, November 12, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 11

Today I'm thankful for my the smell of fallen leaves on a cold night.  I went outside  tonight and it was so strong in the air I could almost taste it.  I think that if I had no idea what season it was and someone woke me out of a sound sleep, blindfolded me and put me outside in the yard, I could have told you from scent alone that it was November.  Rich, heavy, and earthy made crisp on the the cold air!   Someone should figure out how to bottle that smell.  It's one of life's greatest smells.  That and the smell of book pages.  And coffee.  And toast.  Toast is good, too. 

(photo credit)

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 10

I'm thankful for my church.  We are really new here and it's a big church.  It's hard to find your place and fit in and make friends in a new church, particularly a big one.  I am tempted at times to give up trying and go someplace different, smaller and more personal feeling, but I know God has brought us here for a purpose, so I continue to go.  I know that the passage of time will fill in all these uncomfortable "stranger" gaps.  In the mean time God has given me  a timely word each and every time I have gone there.

I am thankful that when I feel alone God is with me.  He led me to this river and He will send ravens to feed me if He has to.  I will stay where He puts me.   Imagine!  I will receive from the Hand of God when I go where He sends me!  There's nothing better than that!

(Photo credit)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Important Lighting Issues and Options

I learned something new about living in travel trailers again this week:  if you are planning to live in one full time and still plan to use the lights as you usually would have in a standard home, you should switch the light bulbs from incandescent to LED or fluorescent.

The 12 volt fixtures in an RV save a lot on electricity, and I really like them.  The bulbs last a long time in them, they are easy to change and clean and all that, but the incandescent bulbs that are made for them get too hot if you leave them on too long, and they can (do) melt some of the pieces of the bulb and the fixture.  It seems bad that they would sell you something that could cause this.  I guess they expect you won't be in it so much or something, I don't know, but it's a scary arrangement. I've heard all the stories about fires in trailers and electrical fires, and I don't like the thought of either of them.

We had a fixture short out in the bathroom.  This one was a two sided fixture, and we noticed the bulb in one side had gotten dimmer than in the other over time.  My husband took note of it one day.  I assumed if it was a problem he'd say something more, but he never really did until it blew a fuse.  He fixed the fuse, and it seemed alright, although the light was still dim, but when it blew another one he checked on it, and I'm glad he did.  It had melted the end of the bulb to the point that it came apart and had melted the wires in the fixture.  
I'm glad my husband understands electrical things, because I certainly don't, yet.  I'm also really thankful he was at home this week to fix it!  

The bulb itself never burned out on it's own, it just dimmed.  I didn't think much of it in the beginning because the bulbs in the fixtures are the same ones that were in it when we bought the trailer a year ago.  No telling how long they'd been in there before we got it.  They had been burning out, presumably because they were old, and I'd been replacing them as we went along, so I was expecting more to go pretty soon anyway.  One more was not too alarming. 

I did note it was the only one that just dimmed. I probably should have taken note as to which ones I'd changed.  It didn't seem important at the time, but looking back, had I kept track of it I might have had a reason to red flag it and have him check into it before we had trouble.  I could't remember if that was one I had already changed or not.  That's another good reason to keep journals.

The next day, fresh on the heels of this event and keenly aware of the heat of the bulbs now, I remembered having a bulb go out in the kitchen recently, so I went in to check on it.  Lo and behold, when I touched it, it flickered.  It wasn't burnt out at all, it was shorted out like the other one.   I was afraid to touch it!  I did, however, and managed to remove the bulb, and it, too had melted and parts of it had disintegrated and it had come undone in the socket.  Obviously we determined that we had to do something about the rest of them.  Short of sitting in the dark, we found two options.

#1 - LED bulbs.  
  1. They are COOL to the touch.
  2. I could keep my existing fixtures and just replace the bulbs.
  3. They are bright and come in lots of colors, or tones, or hues or whatever, to make it easy on the eyes.
  4. They last a very, very long time: 100,000+ working hours.  Obviously they would pay for themselves over time. 
  5. They are very cost efficient to operate.  They use about twenty percent of the power of an incandescent bulb, which matters on your bill when you are hooked up, but will matter even more if you are *off grid and have to monitor how much juice everything uses. If you take into consideration the number of bulbs in the trailer, and we have around twenty including outdoor lights, we could considerably reduce the battery drain by switching to LED.  If we had all twenty of our incandescent bulbs turned on at one time they would draw in the neighborhood of **20 amps, which would drain a single **12 volt battery in a matter of a few hours.  If we replaced them all with LED and then ran them all, they would use less than four volts.  That is significant.  

*I don't understand all I know about that, I'm only learning, but I know that using less is good.  
**Please don't ask me about volts and amps and power systems for off grid.  I'm Ned in the first reader on all this stuff.

I found these great links for more info on the pro's and cons:

The downside: 
  1. The bulbs are expensive.  I've seen them at RV stores for around $17.00 - $20.00 per bulb, and they aren't a lot better on the internet, at least for the ones we decided we'd like to buy. Some only shine in one direction and we want the multi-directional ones which are even more expensive, starting in the neighborhood of $35.00 each and up from there.  The prices seem to be coming down somewhat, but to replace twenty bulbs even at around twenty dollars apiece would really be quite a ticket.  We would have to do one or two at a time.  I will likely buy one of the directional ones and see how it works in one of the single fixtures before I spring for any of the really expensive ones.  When I do, I'll post.  
#2 Fluorescent lighting.
  1. Cool to the touch.
  2. Considerably more cost efficient than incandescent.
  3. Brighter than incandescent, and I prefer the light quality; that's just my personal taste.
  4. Replacement bulbs are around $5.00 - $10.00.  That is slightly cheaper than replacement costs for LED's, but they do not last as long.
The downside:
  1. The lighting fixtures will have to be replaced.  There is really not a great selection of beautiful fixtures available even on the internet.  The only one available locally was less than attractive, but not horrible, so we got it... for $50.00+ dollars.  At a dozen or more fixtures, you can do the math on that one.
  2. The bulbs do not last nearly as long as the LED lights.
  3. I haven't seen any replacement bulbs for these type of fixtures just lying around on the shelves any more commonly than I have the LED lights because they are 12 volt tubes.  You can't just go buy one at Wal Mart.  LED is taking over the market in RV and marine lighting, so it's actually easier to find LED now days.
We went ahead with a fluorescent fixture in the bathroom, mostly because that's all they had available and we needed something right away, as in NOW while my husband was home to fix it.  I'm not at all sorry, because I really like it where it is, but I have to say, I have completely talked myself into LED while writing this post.   

No one says I have to replace all of them at one time.  Besides, it's like the industry to change the standard occasionally.  In my short studies here it already seems to me like they are trying to switch over to a different kind of a flat base which would, of course, require a new fixture, so I might as well wait to do as many as I can until the die is cast.  For now I'll plan on  getting a few bulbs.  It pains me to shell out so much dough for one measly bulb, but if it lasts such a long time and isn't hot, I'm going to hold my nose and do it.  

Right now I have to say I like the light our new fluorescent casts so much that I may eventually get one for the kitchen over the sink, unless it turns out that we like the LED's even better.  I wish I could test one.  I wish they had sample bulbs or trials.  Well, I'll let you know when I get one.

Anyway, this obviously isn't all there is to RV lighting, and these are certainly not the only options, just  the ones we are looking at.  For the record, our trailer is a 2001 model.  I imagine a lot of things have changed about how they do things in newer ones.  

Feel free to post in my comments if you have any ideas or suggestions.  I'm brand new at this and learning as I go.  Any good info is money in the bank.

Ps119:105 ~ "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 9

Well, I'm behind on my Thanksgiving posts, again, so some of the next few entries will be short until I catch up.  I am thankful for my Sunday nap.  To quote an old friend, Pastor Joe Cude, "I love to sleep. I dream about taking naps,"  and there's none better than the infamous Sunday nap.  Church, food, nap.  Isn't that the natural order of things?  I've been doing it that way for so long that  I can barely hold my eyes open on Sunday afternoon any more just out of plain old habit.  Nice.

It IS Sunday afternoon , by the way, so I'll try to catch up on my posts a little later on today.  For now, I'm feeling a bit nappish.........

(photo credit)

Friday, November 9, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 8

This is going to sound silly, probably, but today I am thankful for the internet and social media, such as Facebook.  It may be a terrible time waster and whatever other negative thing people say it is, but for me, it keeps me in contact with my family and friends far away.   I don't know about everyone else,  but it almost makes me feel like we are still together. It's weird how it does that and I'm glad I have it.  Lord, help me not to waste too much time there.  :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 7

OK, gamers, today I am thankful for leveling up.  
I know this may sound arrogant, but not everyone can handle pressure and stress the way I can.  I've grown into a strong individual.   I must have passed at least some of the tests in my life or I wouldn't be so tough.  I have been leveling up!  God must be grooming me for great things!  I want nothing more than to learn what He's trying to teach me, pass my test and move on to the next level.  I don't always like my tests, and I don't always pass my tests the first time, but thankfully we're allowed retakes.  Testing determines proficiency, right?  I must be learning something!

When times are hard, when the test is on, trust what you have been taught.  Psalms 16:7 says, "I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel: My reins also instruct me in the night seasons."  Your "reins" are your faith and your will. If you have learned from His counsel, it is time to trust what He taught you and hold yourself to it despite how you may feel or how things may seem.  In that night season it is hard to see what we are doing.  This is what we trained for.  This is why we are tested.  Hold to what you know!  If you don't quit you win!!

Some people quit in the middle of their tests.  They whine and complain because it's hard and they can't do it, only to find themselves back in the same test again another day.  "I know God said "     fill in the blank     " but you don't understand my situation," or, "I tried that, but it didn't work for me."  I hate to break it to them, but if you fail a test, whatever your excuse reason, you don't move on, you go back.  You retake it.  Stop failing!  Start passing!  It's not easy.  If it was easy everybody would be doing it, but it is worth it.  

(photo credit)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 6

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 6

Today I am thankful for the Election Day!  Of course I'm going to talk about freedom, voting, rights, duty, patriotism, love of country, homeland,  mom's apple pie, whatever, and I certainly will: but not today.  Today I am truly thankful that all of the campaign ads and hostility between opposing sides is over for at least a little while.  

Does that sound trite?  I don't mean for it to.   The political process in this country has turned into a long, drawn out, stressful and ugly thing.  We as a nation need to stop and catch a breath.  This war between the blue and the red is tearing us up.  We need healing as a nation, and an awakening to the truth, not more mind numbing media propaganda and mud slinging which only instigates more division and more hostility between us.

I'm not deluding myself.  I know that soon the campaigns will start again.  They start earlier and earlier every election cycle.  I know that all the social media outlets will continue to have arguments and the winners will gloat and the losers will whine.  I know the news outlets will spin, spin, spin!  I know!  I know!  I know!  But, for at least a little while, as far as big media campaign commercials, national or local, paid ads, private ads and the roadsides being littered with signs and posters, we will be granted a reprieve from the inundation we've endured -- at least for a little while.  May it be more peaceful than thought possible and last longer than expected!

So let it be written; so let it be done!

(photo credit)

Monday, November 5, 2012


Part 2 of Little House in Texas

Not all small houses are portable like ours.  We have a travel trailer.  It seemed most practical for us since we are en route to a different destination at the moment and we really didn't have time or the means to find or build anything else when we were ready to move.

Having a home that can go with us is quite a unique experience.  There is a real sense of being in touch with our freedom  like we have never experienced before.  Not only are we not anchored to a house on a fixed property,  we are also able to pretty much up and go on a whim.  My husband is really not an "up and goer" or a "whimmy" kind of guy (new word for the day, there)  but we could do it if we wanted to or needed to.

We lived in a "regular" home and had a "normal" life for many years before we made the change.  Any time we had ever moved prior to this move, we would have a different home, structure, neighborhood, all of that stuff, obviously.  It's expected and it's actually a big part of transitioning into a new area.  This time, when we left our home of eighteen years, we moved only about a block away.  We moved into the one we have now and we lived in it there for the better part of a year before we moved away.  For that stage of the move, really, only the size of the home had changed.

I'll have more to say about that stage of moving into something much smaller in future posts.

When the time came to move away from our town we simply hauled 'er off. I must say, it was an interesting experience.  To begin with, all of our worldly goods were in transit in one spot all together going down the road at high speeds sometimes, over bumps and through mountain passes.  That provoked a strange and stimulating set of emotions right there!  Then, when we arrived, we set it up, leveled it and BOOM!  Home!  Familiarity, comfort and convenience as if we had never moved.  It took a lot of the work out of moving to say the least.

It was the easiest move ever, yet very weird.  All the familiar surroundings were evaporated before our eyes the second the window shades were opened in the morning.  It was very disorienting.  Not bad, necessarily, just strange.  Perhaps any move after living nineteen years in the same area would be equally disorienting, but it just seemed pretty weird to have the old familiar and the totally unfamiliar all in the same field of vision.  It was amazingly exhilarating, as well, even if it was a bit sad because almost all of the familiar faces, the friends and people I would normally have shared things like this with were over a thousand miles away.

Fast forward to today.  We have been here for almost four months.  It is still not exactly familiar, but I absolutely love the area.  It's a great location for us for now.  We are near a small town, but not too near. Our place feels very rural despite the fact that we are only about a mile out of town.  It's very green and beautiful and for the most part I can get to what I need to get to easily and quickly.  I am become oriented.  I know where east and west are at least, if I stop and think about it for a minute.  I know my way around well enough now to be trusted to be let out alone.  I still haven't met anyone, really, and I feel like the outsider I am, but all that stuff rights itself over time.  Church will be "family" again some day and neighbors will wave and holler.

So that brings us up to now.  This blog will deal with the different aspect of living in a small home, from my perspective, for as long as we live in one.  A few posts, because it will probably take more than one, will be in answer to the one comment I heard more than any other when people found out how we were living: "In less than three months you will all be on each other's nerves and you will hate it."  There will probably be a few to prepare you for what people are likely to say, or think, how to deal with your family and friends who react badly, or you expect might react badly.  Also, at some point, probably frequently, I will talk about travel trailers and the ups and downs associated with living full time in one.  I'll talk about issues of storage, power and lights, weather, buying a used RV, and whatever else comes up as I experience life here.

I would like to close on a high note and plainly say that I love it.  I really do.  It's an adventure!  It's different!  It's great!

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 5

Day 5:  I'm thankful for my pick-up truck.  Not just that it's pretty, which it is, and fast, which it IS, or that it's helpful, or a needful thing, or convenient or anything, but that it is a constant reminder to me that God answers prayer.  

Once upon a time a long time ago, my husband and I wrote a prayer list of things we wanted.  We prayed about them and tucked the list away.  I had completely, totally  forgotten about it.  I think he had, too, judging by the reaction he had when we came across it many years later.  We were getting ready to move and were going through some of the old boxes from up in the attic, and inside one of them was the list.  

When we wrote it we had very little money, and even though some of the items on our list were not really big items, we just didn't have the means to get them on our own.   I have forgotten most of what was on it, and I am sure I have probably gotten and gotten rid of some of them.  For instance, I remember a microwave being on it, and I know I have had several microwaves over the years.  

One thing I do know is that a Dodge Ram pick-up truck was on it.  That was huge for us, way out of the picture.   I vaguely remember talking about the fact that they are gas guzzlers ,and my husband said that when the time came that we could get a nice truck like that we'd be able to put gas in it, too, and we put it on the list.

So, anyway, the list was stowed and forgotten.

I am embarrassed to report that I didn't remember that list, and I didn't remember to give God proper thanks for it when we finally got it, brand new in 2006.  Now, every time I look at that wonderful truck it's a reminder that God is faithful even when I am not, and it reminds me to be diligent to give Him the glory in the small, easily forgotten things.

Psalms 103:2 - "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."

Deut. 8:1-10

November - 30 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 4

Yes, I already messed up.  Four days into my thirty days of thanksgiving and I have already missed a day, so I'm posting Day 4 and Day 5 on the same day this time.  Hopefully I only do this once this month.  I realize it's sort of cheating, but my husband was home and we were very busy goofing off.   Life takes precedence over blogging, especially when I have him around.

Day 4: I'm thankful to God for my husband.  

He's not as grumpy as this makes him look.   :)  He won't hold still for a picture, though. so it's hard to get a good one for posting.  I think this one is kind of cute.  

He's the greatest.  I am blessed!   He's the bestiest and he's my favorite!  I love the goofy little inside jokes and things that go unsaid because we both "already know."  Little gestures, habits we have, traditions we've established between us and the kids are what make life good.  We're awesome!  Sure, we have our moments where we get on each other's nerves, or we disagree or whatever, but those moments are fewer and farther between the longer we're together.

Some days it feels like we have always been together, and all of our shared time makes us comfortable and content.  Other days it seems like we only just met.  We couldn't have been married as long as we have, could we?  It flew by!  Sometimes I still look in his eyes like a teen age girlfriend and wonder how I can still be so silly in love with the big goof.  The length of time doesn't matter at all.  We will always be together.

He's cute, too.  That doesn't hurt.  =]

I don't want to stop soon so that it seems like I'm not giving him enough time or whatever, but there's not enough space on the internet to finish it, so I'll just have to stop.