Here I sit, blogging away, I hear the sound of the NFL football game floating in from the livingroom (my youngest son and my husband have this Monday night man-ritual), the voices of my newly married daughter and her husband (who are spending the night here tonight, just for kicks, in her old room) and the laughter of my other daughter Sarah, as she doubtless is on the phone with her beloved.
Josiah (oldest son) called me today just to tell me that he loves me and to thank me - a simple thank you for sticking by him, keeping him near to my heart, and for being his mom. Does life get any sweeter?
He also wanted to tell me that a friend of his that he brought to our college-age small group yesterday, a young man who doesn't yet know Christ, thinks that I'm a really, really great mom. I think I must have also won the lottery and just don't know it yet, because...well, because life is just that good today.
This kid, Josiah's friend, wants to come to Harvest - and this is after hearing the gospel, through various college kids and Tim and me, all evening long last night.
All twenty of us sat around our friends' built-in firepit, on their gorgeous, huge new undulating back porch, all made of flagstone. Picture if you can, a postcard-perfect Federal Blue painted, slate roofed, post and beam home, without a single television inside that home anywhere, as you walk through...no TV exists in this historic home - just the sound of a wood burning stove, and soft instrumental music playing. You continue out to the back porch. There is a large blue barn, also post and beam constructed, behind us. To the side is a horse barn with two horses, and down from there, you see goats frolicking, and one by one the stars began to come out...shining incredibly brightly, there in the country where there is no city light whatsoever.
Yeah. That mental image is a metaphor for my life these days. Completely. Good.
If you tramp the acreage that is part of this property, you will find a creek - more like a small river. Spring-fed, and refreshingly cool in the summer, or so all the teenage boys of Harvest tell me.
Tim and I were graciously and sincerely told to schedule anything, at any time on their property...to make use of this very sought after space anytime we needed it. We won't be taking unfair advantage of such generosity, though this family is part of our church, but we couldn't help but tearily smile. Well, I tearily smiled. Tim just grinned.
When God closes a window, He opens a barn door, apparently.
(...members of Very Large Churches in our city regularly ask to schedule their events here, to be near this quaint setting, to make use of the post and beam barn...we get first dibs.)
We were full of baked beans, home made potato salad, and chili dogs, all graciously prepared by Lynn, and one by one three guitars popped out, and we began to sing. The owners of this property were glowing with joy, absolutely loving having this group meet at their home. We sang in the freezing cold, sitting close to the fire, for a long time. It was worship. Josiah's friend thought it a bit strange, I'm sure, but he enjoyed it so much he is coming back. I don't blame him.
The goodness of God was in quiet evidence in the people and the place - a pervasive peace blankets the Bower's property. I hope they realize that they are very much a part of the sowing that took place in that young man's life. When he gets saved, they will share in that reward. That is how hospitality works.
On another note (and an oh-so-random note at that) here is a picture of "my new baby". Yup. There's a brand new baby at the Atchley house. He is an early birthday present from Tim for me, and he is named after Cary Grant:
Grant, the pocket parrot. (Also known as a "parrotlet")
Grant, sitting on Isaac's shoulder...
Last but not least, I made something called "40 Clove Garlic Chicken" today:
I had to take a picture of forty cloves of garlic, piled on my cutting board!
(later note: I promise, I didn't realize the card was back there when I snapped the picture. I'm not flaunting it on purpose. ACK! I clicked on this picture, after posting it, and realized that you can see this card, plain as plain. Oh well. I'm leaving this picture here, just the way it is. That card sits where I've had it since I got it in the mail four days ago...it puts a smile on my face all the time.)
You place some celery, onions, and a large roasting chicken in the crockpot. Sprinkle the chicken generously with coarse salt, fresh cracked pepper, paprika, rosemary and thyme. Pile forty...you read right: forty. cloves. of. garlic. all around the chicken and switch on the crockpot.
After awhile, you will be treated to the tenderest, best chicken you have had in a long time. Guaranteed. Just don't eat the garlic...it is there to flavor the chicken, or maybe just to smell startlingly good for hours and hours.
In short, this blog is about church life. Which also happens to be my life. Harvest Church isn't a "place" as much as it is a way of living. You have to experience it to understand it. It is abundant living, challenging living....purposeful and passionate living. It is community. It is all things ordinary and exquisite and frustrating and tedious and glorious.
If you don't have a church home, come experience this life. If you have a church home - please....stick and stay there. The rewards are stunning.