Saturday, January 31, 2009

If we only understood...

Hurt people hurt people. It's a saying I've heard for years but more recently I've really come to believe it. I don't believe that people who are mean or hateful to others are happy people. I don't see how they can be. That nastiness they show on the outside has got to be just the surface coating of what is lurking underneath.

So I've tried to remember this when people do not-so-nice things, and try to see things through their eyes. Give them the benefit of the doubt. I may not always be able to figure out what inner hurt is causing the outer behavior, but even if I can't, I just assume there is something there.

It's not about not holding people responsible for their actions, or making excuses for them, or allowing them to be as mean and nasty as they want to be and just being a doormat. It's about understanding and forgiving.

I've had a developing situation over the last couple of weeks that really gave me some insight into my own theory -- proved it, actually.

Many many years ago, I was in a situation where a number of people were very hateful to me, without cause. One of those people re-entered my life recently and I will admit to being very hesitant at first, though she was being quite friendly. I was friendly back, but inside, I was thinking, "Okay... why are you acting like we were great friends and you're so glad to be back in touch... you HATED me when we knew each other..."

She continued with the friendliness, and it really seemed genuine, so I finally brought it up. I'd already started putting together what happened from some of the things she had shared with me, but when I asked about it, she shared even more. It seems that she herself was very insecure at the time, and felt friendless. (I never in a million years would have guessed it, from her tough exterior. But it was an act to cover up the hurt inside.) She had been through a recent trauma and was thrust into a situation she had no control over, with people who didn't want her. She wanted desperately to be wanted and accepted by these people, and it just so happens that the girl she wanted most to be accepted by was my childhood Nellie Oleson.

She seriously was. She had the golden ringlets and the storebought dresses and the snooty attitude to go with it. She was the perfect Nellie. And she despised me in much the same way the real Nellie despised Laura.

So... this girl recognized this and was intentionally nasty to me thinking it would please Nellie and make Nellie accept her. All the while the girl actually liked me and wished we could be friends, but thought that I was "too smart" to ever want to be friends with someone like her. And there I was desperately wishing for someone, ANYONE, to just be NICE.

We really could have used each other back then, she and I. She later realized what Nellie was really like and decided she never EVER wanted to be like that, but by that time we were no longer at the same school, and until quite recently had never seen each other since those days of our youth. :)

We've discovered we actually have quite a bit in common and are quickly becoming friends now. A shame we couldn't have found this out then, when we both really needed a friend, but better late than never, right?

And it just reminds me yet again that you just never know what's really going on with someone inside. I totally thought all these years that this girl hated me. I also thought she was confident and assertive. Turns out none of those things were true. Just goes to show we can't judge others based on their actions alone -- there's so much going on under the surface that we just can't know about. Maybe it's time to dig a little deeper, take a few risks, and show that we care enough to find out what's going on inside, rather than just rejecting based on what goes on outside.

After all, "We would love each other better, if we only understood." ~Rudyard Kipling

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Random Sunday Morning Thoughts

I want to go to Malone.

Last Sunday in the old house. Next Sunday, new house. Yay.

I want to go to Mansfield.

But I really want to go to Malone.

Lots of lasts. Last time grocery shopping here. Last time at this church. Last trash day. Last laundry here. Last pot roast made. Last... last... last...

Next week will be full of firsts. :)

Some people don't want to go to Malone. Some people think it's too cold right now to go to Malone. What do they want?? California?? Florida??

I want to go to Malone. Tomorrow would be good. Today would be better.

So much to do. Packing. Throwing away. A Goodwill run. Where oh where does all this STUFF come from?

Call all the utilities. Here and there. Decisions to make. Cable or DSL? Furniture to buy. Appliances too. More decisions.

Heap Big Snow. In My Driveway. Procrastinating on the shoveling. Why bother? It's still snowing anyway. :)

I want to go to Malone.

We hope you enjoyed this edition of: Random thoughts that go through Prairie Rose's head in the span of one minute.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Things I'll Miss...

Although I'm very excited about moving, and very eager to get there, I can't say there aren't some sad moments about it too. After all, I've been living here several years. I've put down a few roots. And I like it here. It's not as if I'm running away from something I didn't like; it's that I'm running toward something I like a little more... but that doesn't mean I won't miss what I'm leaving behind.

I'll miss the people. The people I work with. (Those phone calls have been so hard to make, and I haven't made some of the hardest ones yet because I've been putting it off as I know they'll be difficult goodbyes...) The people I go to church with... And I'll miss the kids. Some of them I'm keeping for awhile -- that actually worked out well, I got to pick and choose which kids to let go and which ones I'm going to keep to make ends meet until I get new clients at the new place, so I got to keep my favorite families. ;) But it's only short-term. The goodbyes are coming.

But most of all, I'll miss the friends that I've made up here. One is moving soon anyway, so that makes it a little easier -- I know she wouldn't have been here anyway so the goodbye had to come. But the others -- well, thank goodness for technology -- as one of them said when I told her, "You don't really have to say goodbye to anybody anymore, unless you want to -- we have email and phones, and it's not too far to visit once in awhile." It's true -- you really don't have to say goodbye to anyone anymore. It's not like pioneer days where you moved away and said goodbye knowing good and well you would probably never see that person again until you met in heaven. No, it's not the same as, "Hey, you want to stop by this evening?" but it will do.

I'll miss the house too. I really like my house here. It's one reason I've wondered why it took so long to sell -- because it truly is a beautiful house. Everyone who came through said so... but they couldn't afford it, couldn't get the loan, couldn't handle the steep yard, there was always something. I guess God needed me here until now for some reason.

I'll miss the deer. :) I just sat by my bay window watching them in my front yard. We've always had deer run through the back yard, but this year for some reason they seem to have really proliferated and they're just everywhere! I can't tell you how many times I've wandered into the living room, only to jump a mile because a DEER was staring at me through the window and I totally was not expecting it. :) I was walking by a little bit ago and saw one, went to look, and lo and behold, there were 8 deer wandering around in my front yard. I don't think that will happen at the new place, so I'll miss that.

Sometimes I wish I could just cut out the 2.5 hrs between here and there, and move everything I like about here, THERE. Or everything I like about there, HERE. But that can't happen. So I choose to give up all of this, for that.

Because "that" is family. And when it comes down to it, that's the best thing of all.

(Especially when family includes Little Girl and Baby Boy. :) :) :) And it does.)

So goodbye, old home. I sell you tomorrow. And hello, new home. I can't wait to see what you've got in store for me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Love Obsession With a House

I absolutely love my new house. No, it isn't mine yet... still waiting... but soon! Like Mary Poppins, it is practically perfect in every way -- for my needs anyway.

But that isn't the house I'm referring to in my title. No, the house with which I have a love obsession is the final home of Laura and Almanzo Wilder, the farmhouse at Rocky Ridge Farm. (That rock house is very appealing, too, but there's just nothing like the farmhouse.)

I'm not sure what it is exactly; I guess it's that Laura and Almanzo lived there for so many years, and loved their home there. Built it the way they wanted it, and cultivated the land with their own hands. It's as if their presence can still be felt there -- not in any weird kind of ghostly way -- just in a warm fond remembrance kind of way.

I went out this past fall to celebrate my birthday there with a friend -- because where better to celebrate one's birthday than in the home one is obsessed with, right? :)

We knew we were more obsessed than most with LIW and with Rocky Ridge itself, but that trip revealed to us both just how far beyond obsessed we apparently are. It began with the owners of the place where we were staying.

"You're staying... FOUR nights?" they questioned. We nodded. "And you're going to the Wilder Farm?" We again nodded our agreement. "Oh," said they, "And what else are you going to do?"

We just looked at them. "We're going to the Wilder Farm," we finally responded.

They exchanged glances, and we thought to ourselves, "They think we have no idea what's there and we're going to be sorely disappointed."

So the next evening, they came hurrying over to meet us when we returned from our day at Rocky Ridge, and asked us how we liked it. "You were there ALL DAY?" they questioned, and we nodded. We discussed our day for awhile, and then they said, "So what are you going to do tomorrow?" Surely these ladies have now figured out they've done absolutely everything there is to do out there... they must have been thinking.

"We're going back to the Wilder Farm..." we answered. They just looked at each other and didn't say a word.

They weren't the only ones wondering about us. By the third day, we were starting to get some quizzical looks from some of the staff members who were now recognizing us. They were polite enough not to ask us why on earth we kept coming back ;) but they had to have been wondering.

But the icing on the cake... the event that convinced us that we are just beyond insane when it comes to this place... occurred on our last night there.

We had both come in separately as we don't live anywhere near each other, so we had our own cars. We had somewhere to be VERY early the next morning so knew that was our last day at Rocky Ridge. That evening, we went out to get something to eat, and we drove separately so we could each fill up on gas rather than have to worry about it at dark o'clock the next morning.

After we ate, my friend called her husband as she didn't get reception on her cell phone at the place we were staying, so I told her I was heading on back to our place and I'd see her there. On my way back, however, I remembered that we only had one key -- and she had it.

"Oh, well," thought I. "Rather than sit in the car and wait for her, I'll just take this opportunity to head back over to the farmhouse!"

Yes, it was night. Yes, it was long since closed. Who cares? I could LOOK at it, couldn't I?

I told you I was obsessed. Just gazing lovingly at this beautiful home from the roadside was an appealing thought. So off I went, and as I approached the house, I slowed down almost to a stop so I could look over.

But just as I did so, another car came from the other direction, and rather than just driving on past as I expected they would do, they too slowed and were staring at me. I quickly sped up and drove on past, so as not to look suspicious. I wasn't doing anything wrong, of course, but I recognized that it might be considered unusual behavior to slow to a crawl outside the Wilder home at night and therefore the townfolk might get a little suspicious, and perhaps the person in that car was a staff member or something so was concerned that something was amiss here.

"No big deal," thought I as I drove on. I'll just drive out to the Rock House and turn around and come back.

And so I did. And daggone it, despite the complete lack of traffic on that road, once more just as I reached the house, I saw approaching headlights. Again, I slowed and hoped they'd go on past, but no, they slowed too, and then came to a complete stop.

"You've got to be kidding me!" I thought. "What, do they just drive back and forth and patrol the place all night or something, to keep crazy people like us from staring at the house after hours!?"

I gave up and figured okay, I'll just drive on and turn around again and come back. But this time as I passed, I saw the car turn into the parking lot. "Oh, great," I thought. "Of all the luck -- it must be someone who works there, now I have no hope of going back. They totally will not understand that I just want to LOOK at it from the road!! That has got to be too weird for the average person to comprehend."

But then as I glanced in my rear-view mirror at the car that was now in the parking lot, I recognized the car. Before it had been too dark to see it clearly, but now there was a faint light shining on it. It was my friend!

She pulled out of the lot and followed me back to the place we were staying. We got out laughing and asking each other what on earth we had been doing.

And, of course, we had been doing exactly the same thing. She too had been on her way to take one last look at the house, and she too was thinking, "Oh, no!" when *I* slowed my car as she couldn't see mine to recognize it either until it was past.

Too funny! So neither of us got a good look at the house on our last night out, but the next day after arriving at our respective homes, we did learn that each of us, on our way out from the place we spent the night, did another drive-by in the wee hours of the morning and got a lovely view...

Of Rocky Ridge in deep fog. :)

Now that, my friend, is obsessed. Guilty as charged. :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Not Your Typical New Year's Post

Time. It's a concept that has always intrigued me. It's something we focus so heavily upon, a fact that is never clearer than at the start of a new year.

I did nothing to celebrate New Year's. I never do. It just isn't a big deal to me for some reason. I didn't make any New Year's resolutions. Again, I just don't see the point. If I want to make a resolution, I'll make it when I think that it's something I need to do, not wait around until January 1, nor think something up just to have one for the new year.

But all the posts I've read on blogs, newsgroups, message boards, email lists, etc. have got me thinking about time and its significance. And it's hard to think about time without thinking of eternity... and thinking of eternity is -- well, it's mind-boggling.

I'd like to share some thoughts about time, and timelessness, that I've put together over the years.

It started when I was eleven years old. My grandfather had just died, and as I lay that first night in bed trying to go to sleep, he was of course all I could think about. It wasn't the first death of someone I knew, but it was the first death of someone I truly loved, so coping with death and trying to wrap my mind around it was all new to me.

Then suddenly, the thought struck me that I didn't even know for sure where he was... was he a Christian? Was he now in heaven? Or wasn't he? I had no idea, and I felt incredible guilt that I had no idea. I began to think back... did he go to church? I didn't even know that. He didn't go to my church... and he never talked about church... maybe he didn't. Most of my family members talked about God a lot, especially in teaching us kids, but I couldn't remember a time when he ever had. I panicked. Maybe he wasn't -- and now it was too late. There was nothing I could do.

I don't know that an adult brain would ever even think to do something like this, but you know what they say about having faith like a child -- I did the only thing I could think of to do. I prayed that he was saved. I prayed over something that had already happened.

Can you do that? Certainly you can pray about things that are happening. And you can pray about things that are going to happen. But isn't it too late to pray about something that has already happened? It's too late to change anything now -- what good can it possibly do to pray about it?

Stick with me. I have an answer to that now. The question, of course, never even occurred to my 11 year old self. And I prayed not only that he was saved, but that somehow God would reveal to me that he was without me having to ask. Because that was a question I absolutely did not want to ask anyone.

Well, during the visitation, I was standing by the coffin with my dearly beloved great-aunt, my grandfather's sister. Because my grandmother had died when my father was a baby, she had raised my father and was therefore like a grandmother to me herself. I therefore spent those visitation hours glued to her side, and overheard every word she spoke to all the people that came to the visitation. And one of those comments I overheard was, in response to someone's comment that he looked so peaceful, she said, "Yes, he's in heaven now... how well I remember the day ten years ago when he accepted the gift of salvation and changed his life."

Prayer answered! Yes, he was saved; and yes, I got to find out without asking.

Many years later, when I was in college, I found myself dwelling on that grandmother that I had never known, my dad's mother who died when he was a baby as I mentioned, because of some information I had discovered about her that I won't go into here. :) I found myself wondering the same thing about her -- was she in heaven? Because based on the information I found, and the knowledge that my grandfather wasn't saved until decades after her death, I was thinking it pretty unlikely that she was. And while I never knew her, that thought really disturbed me. After all, she was part of me, somehow... and it became very important to me that her eternity was being spent in heaven.

Remembering the answered prayer of my youth, I threw logic to the wind and prayed again. I prayed that my grandmother, who by this time had died over forty years earlier, was a Christian -- and again, I prayed that somehow I could know that she was. This seemed very unlikely, as nobody EVER talked about her -- and as I said, she had already been gone for over forty years! And once more... can you really pray about the past? Yes, it had worked for me before, but this seemed like a really huge request.

This prayer wasn't answered quite as immediately, but it wasn't more than a couple months later that we got a Christmas letter from that great-aunt, the very one I mentioned before. Never before in my life had we gotten one of these from her. She told me afterward (out of the blue, unquestioned) that she doesn't even know why she sent us that letter, she never does, she writes one every year but only sends it out to people she doesn't see much of, so they will know what's going on with her -- but we already know it all so there's no reason to send us the letter. But for some reason, she just thought she would that year.

For some reason, eh? You won't believe what that letter contained. It mentioned my aunt's move to California, and she explained for the sake of her recipients that this aunt was the daughter of her brother and her brother's wife, who had died when my aunt was but a little girl. She then wrote an entire paragraph about this brother's wife -- my grandmother -- including the fact that THE VERY SUNDAY before she died, she had come forward in the Chapel and given her life to the Lord.

Okay -- you might call the first time a coincidence, but the second time too? I puzzled over it quite a bit, but was convinced that yes, a prayer today could indeed affect something that had happened in the past. I didn't fully understand how, but I knew that God could do anything, even what seemed impossible to us. I thought at the time that of course God would have known back forty years ago that I was GOING to pray that prayer, and could have answered it then with the foreknowledge of what was going to happen.

I was close, and maybe even right, but there is a theological concept behind all of this that is absolutely amazing... mind-blowing... incredible. The concept is that God is the "I AM" over my "was."

This is a lesson title invented by Beth Moore, and I won't go into the full theological background of this truth, but it's really quite fascinating, and if you're interested, I encourage you to go watch it for yourself. Click here to view all of Beth's video teachings at Life Today and scroll down to find The 'I AM' Over Your 'Was'. The piece I'm talking about is explained in Part 4 but you really will want to watch the whole series because there is so much background to it that you won't want to miss. And for that matter, while you're there, watch all her other teachings too, because I'm telling you, this woman is inspired.

But back to my topic, the key verse that delves into this truth is John 8:58, where Jesus states, "Before Abraham was, I AM." Did you catch that? God doesn't live in time. He IS in the past, just as he IS in the present and the future. He's still back there working in my past. It's not over and done with, as we so often say! He's still there in it working!

He could answer my prayers about my grandfather because He existed simultaneously in 1985 when I prayed, and in 1975 when He answered the prayer. He could answer my prayers about my grandmother because he existed simultaneously in 1993 when I prayed, and in 1951 when He answered the prayer.


So I encourage you in this "new year" to us to remember that God is still working in all of our old years. He's still there in our past. And if there's something regrettable in your past that is "over and done with" -- recognize that it's not. Pray for God, who is still back there in your "was", to redeem your was, which will in turn redeem your "is". How many of us have a less than stellar "is" because of something that happened in our "was"? It's time to give our "was" to the God who IS, the God who is present in our was, the God who is Almighty over our was, and pray for Him to do His mighty work in it.