Saturday, June 2, 2018

Be True to Who You Are

Yesterday morning while Dennis painted plein air (a fancy artist's term that simply means painting outdoors), I went for a long walk. The town where we live has paved walking paths surrounded by glorious views.

I like to walk in the morning when the air is fresh and cool. AM is my favorite time of day, and early morning is best.

As I walked I pondered the advantages of being a woman of a certain age. There's something remarkable about finally reaching a stage in life where you are no longer concerned with what others think of you. I think that's a gift God gives to us -- a kind of reward if you will -- for enduring all those earlier years when we struggled to fit in, for whatever reason. 

I grew up on a farm where money was scarce. Mind you, our family wasn't poverty-stricken, although sometimes it felt that way. We three kids each had one pair of shoes to be worn to both school and church, and they were replaced only when they gave out. The old shoes then became our "work shoes" to be worn for chores and play. 

My mother raised chickens for food, as well as for the eggs she sold to local markets. Her "egg money" was used to buy necessities such as school clothes at Montgomery Ward and Sears, and later Kmart when it arrived on the scene.

It didn't occur to me to be ashamed of the source of my clothing until the day when I mentioned to my mom that someone at school had asked me where I got my new outfit and I told them "Kmart". 

"Oh, don't tell them that!" my mother admonished me. "Tell them you don't remember."

But I did remember. 

And in that moment I felt ashamed of my wardrobe and our meager circumstances. I felt less than. Inferior. Because if telling the truth about buying my clothes at a discount store was disgraceful, then obviously I didn't measure up to the other kids.

Sadly, that belief stayed with me for a very long time. 

Years later when I experienced success in my chosen career and could afford to buy more expensive clothing, I felt guilt in spending the money, even though I always paid mark-down prices. I didn't deserve nicer clothes. They were meant to be worn by someone better than me.

My heart breaks to think my mother was so humiliated by her economic condition that she felt more comfortable teaching her child to lie than to teach her that the label on her jeans or the weight of her wallet doesn't give her worth as a person.

Buying your clothes at Neiman Marcus might give you a good feeling, but it doesn't make you a better person. It certainly doesn't make you superior to anyone else.

When we define our worth as humans by the things we wear or possess, the neighborhood we live in or the make of car we drive, we can become very confused about who we really are. 

There's the danger that if we lose all those things to which we attribute our worth we suddenly feel worthless

Less than.

Many years ago I came to accept that my true worth, my value, rests in one place -- the heart of God. Here's what Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-33 about this (quoting from The Message version of the Bible):

“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to Him than birds.

“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think He’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you? 

"What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met."

Do you see it? I have worth because I am loved by God and He values me. So much so that He sent His son to die for me and redeem me (John 3:16). The same goes for you and every other human being on earth. It's up to each of us to grasp hold of this truth and accept it. With that acceptance comes peace and contentment, along with a true sense of worth that we can never lose. A true sense of who we are. Whose we are.

I could go on and on about this. I want to see people live in freedom from inferiority, unshackled by the truth that we are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. (Psalm 139:14-16, Genesis 1:26). When we are firmly established in this truth then we are free to walk away from earthly possessions that so often ensnare us and keep us from living the life God has envisioned for us. We can walk away from a little red cottage and everything inside, if that's what we are called to do, knowing that our worth was never tied to a house in the first place.

We can be true to who we are.

God bless you, my friends. Thank you for all the lovely comments you left on my last post about selling our Oregon cottage and moving to Texas. I appreciate them and you more than you know.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

How To Sell A Cute Cottage In 30 Days

At the end of February Dennis and I decided to sell our sweet red cottage and move to Texas. Of course, when we made that decision, the garden didn't look like this.

It looked more like this.

And, frankly, that made the decision much easier. I'm just not a winter person. I'm a summer girl, born in late June. I like sunshine and flowers, green grass and frost-free windshields. Snow and frigid temps don't do it for me.

This past winter just about did me in and I found myself fighting depression daily. Since Dennis and I have a choice as to where we live, there was no reason to "brave the cold"; we could relocate to a warmer climate. Texas has been on our radar for a long time, and so we explored the possibility of selling our cottage and relocating to the Lone Star State.

Within a few days we had talked to a realtor and were considering listing our home. Before we got that far the word spread around our little town that we were thinking of selling our cottage, and within a few days a cash offer was made by a local resident and we were in escrow. 

Our house closed on April 2 and we hit the road. Along the way we had several layovers. The first was Moab, Utah, where we met up with one of our children.

Next stop, Colorado to visit another child.

After a few days we drove to Taos, New Mexico, one of our favorite spots.

Finally we arrived in central Texas, where my soul has found rest.

Before we left NE Oregon we sold everything, except for some of Dennis' paintings and sculptures, some clothes and a few books and personal items. We left with no household items -- no furniture, no dishes, no pots and pans, no family heirlooms; no lawn mower or garden tools. Basically, whatever didn't fit in the back of our Subaru had to go. (The artwork and a few boxes are being shipped to our new address.)

We've rented an apartment for now. Not sure if we'll buy or build again, or what we'll do. Ridding ourselves of all we owned in such a short time was exhausting,  but I can tell you that the freedom I feel at having let go of all that stuff is exhilarating. It's totally worth the effort, and starting over at our age is so much fun. We're like a couple of kids. 

I wanted to sit down and share the news of our relocation before it actually took place, but between the shortage of time and computer problems (my laptop died), I just couldn't make it happen. So here I am, folks. With a new life chapter. The way this all came together so quickly, and the peace I've felt at every turn is completely God's doing. I know this is part of His plan, and that everything He's been teaching me about letting go of things has led me to this moment. I'm so excited about the future. Is it going to be perfect? No. It never is. I know the summer here is going to be hot and humid, and there just might be a day or two when I wonder why we made this change. Although I have to say that the summers in NE Oregon are pretty darn hot, too. Maybe not humid, but definitely hot. So, we'll see, won't we? 

Now that I don't have a lot to take care of I'll be turning my attention to writing again. I'll be blogging more, sharing the happenings here, such as furnishing our new digs on a budget. Chatting with you about downsizing, purging, keeping life simple. These are things that I've learned a lot about, and maybe I've got some ideas to share that will help others who are on a similar journey. To be honest, I don't know exactly where A Joyful Cottage blog is going, or what my life is going to look like here where the bluebonnets bloom and folks are mighty nice, but it surely is going to be fun to see God's plan unfold. He's so faithful.

Thanks for hanging out with me, y'all. I've missed you so much.

Major hugs,


P.S. Dennis gave me his computer -- which he recently purchased but no longer needs -- to replace the one that died. I've got a power cord problem, though, so in the next few days I have to ship it off for repair or replacement. All this is to say I may be offline for awhile. I'll try to stay in touch, though via other devices.