The answer to the empty nest, is to REnest. I am earnestly and blissfully renesting...

...but no pictures till I am done. There will be a "big reveal", once I manage to finish this mammoth project of repainting my entire dining room and kitchen - cabinets and all! Hint: think totally different. A complete change.

Kind of goes with my new season of life, don't you think? So far, I am llllllloving it. But no pictures. Yet.

Before ~

Primering red walls is a chore! Loved this red, in its season. It served its purposes well, and made my heart happy. But like most creative souls, I am in a "new phase", color-wise. Important! Give yourself permission to move on to the next level. Your "eye" changes with the years, your taste refines itself, in want to try new things. Do it!

Ya'll come on over when it is finished, and see the big change!

Another Harvest Wedding

The beautiful Lisa, Benjamin, and my man...

Dancing in "fields of grace"!

God created life to be lived in chapters and seasons. It is meant that we enter into the seasons of those with whom God has placed us in community. At its most common denominator, this is what life is about: serving one another in love, celebrating with those who celebrate, weeping with those who weep.

The Christian faith has no context outside relationships, because love is not a concept, it is a way of living every day with people.

The Miracle of Technology

It's a....LIMA BEAN!

Of course, we don't know if the grand baby is a boy or girl yet, but I went with Hannah to her first doctor's appointment, and I got to see the ultrasound, and hear the baby's heartbeat.

Oh. My.

What a moment. Good, strong heartbeat! They measured the little teeny baby, and estimated that Hannah is right at 6 weeks along, and the due date is (drumroll please)...

...December 18!

Hope your weekend is blessed, my friends. We've a Harvest Wedding tomorrow, and the excitement of this day has caught up with me. I'm headed to dreamland...

The Fruit of the Womb is His Reward...

This is what happens when you find out you are going to be a grandmommy: your friends send flowers and give you presents.

I know it is early...but story books are most important, you see.

I've been waiting to tell you. Bustin' to tell you.

Two of my best friends are daughter Hannah, which you already know....

....and Wendy Cantrell, over at Hope Springs!

Here's the jump-up-and-down, squeal till I'm breathless thing: My Wendy is...well, she's almost my age. She isn't forty...she is a late thirty-something, but she'll see forty way before I see fifty. Put it that way.
And her Doug is my Tim's age. Doug and Tim get to be new daddy and new grand-daddy together. Isn't that pre-shus??

Wendy babysat Hannah when she was a baby. Wendy and I lingered over the thought that she never, not in a million years, when she fed Hannah in her high chair...that she and that baby would one day be pregnant together.

Two of my best friends. My confidantes. Right arms, these girls are.

Wendy doesn't know this, but when I heard, I did the same thing she did. I laughed, and then I cried. Then I laughed. I did a whole lot more laughing. It was the sort of laughter that rolls up from a girl's innermost being.

God is saying something profound to my heart and to my church.

Relationships are worth the work it takes to preserve continuity. I cannot run after anyone determined to leave me, because there are far too many others still with me who do love and need me. The other gal would have to be the one to leave. I would not sacrifice continuity for any difference of opinion, no offense could make me leave, no personality clash is worth jeopardizing these life-long friendships. This....oh, this! is generational blessing.

If bliss could kill, I'd be dead.

Two babies - who will be born within days of each other. A grand baby, and another "adopted" niece or nephew. May they grow up dwelling in the land - pitching their permanent living quarters, cultivating the same faithful continuity of friendship with their God and their family and their friends that their parents and grand parents have cultivated.

I can testify: Verily, they shall be fed.

Renewed, Rebuilt, Restored, REDEEMED

Someone recently asked me what I meant when I said that once I admitted that the foundations of my Christian life needed rebuilt, God met me.

I am so glad you asked. Thank you!

I've had a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, since I was six years old. This relationship has been very real, touching every part of my being, spirit, mind, and body. Early on, however, I slipped into performing my way into God's favor - and was unfortunately good at it. My own strength and effort carried me for too many years.

Occasional fasting, daily prayer, Bible reading, Bible teaching, raising children, home educating them, exercise, careful diet, hours of study across wide disciplines, being a loving, supportive wife, keeping a clean home, and clean living, plus discipling others and impacting their lives for Christ, it all came easily to me, so long as I worked very hard. (Can you hear the contradiction yet?)

I thought I understood the grace of God, after all, I've been a Christian leader for years.

Ah, "I was brought low, and He helped me..."

All it took was a little perceived failure, a dash of mid life hormones, plus the steady influence of a few grumpy Christians living under the law, and I began to unravel, sinking into a depression that I have only described in detail to a very few people. I "should" have seen a doctor. If I ever see that dark place again, I will.

My pastor-husband began revisiting the doctrines of grace, and I followed suit. The only explanation for what happened next is that the veil fell from my face. I, with unveiled face, began to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and began to encounter grace.


It is precisely at the point of encounter, where my legalist friends (and I) had it all wrong. We understood grace too quickly, early in our Christian experience, and thus failed to understand well at all. No one lingered. No one was raw and needy anymore, once they were converted. Oh, we had hard times - very, very hard times - and we sacrificed and worked our way out of them, giving God the glory all the way.

The only difference today between them and I, is that I admitted my ineptitude, and meant it. I came crestfallen to the cross, admitting that the very foundations of my spiritual life needed to be rebuilt on the true, full gospel of grace. I changed my mind - which is to say, I repented of relying on my own abilities.

A walk with God has actually not as much to do with behavior modification, self-conscious self discipline, or even morality. It has more to do with the beauty of grace. Grace cannot be known in concept, it must always be encountered in a person.

I began to encounter Christ in the Pauline gospel in a fresh way. To this day, I'm blessedly ruined. Forever undone. Gloriously insufficient in myself to please God - thankfully, He is eternally pleased with Christ Alone, and I am In Christ.

My friend, it is not by works of righteousness (which I have done...oh, have I ever done them!) but according to His mercy He saved me. It is by grace I am saved, and in the same way I received Christ, I am expected to walk in Him.

My days and years of confidence in the flesh are gone. The paradoxical thing is that I am doing more, setting higher goals, attaining to more than before. Because it would be perfectly okay if I did nothing at all.

The thing that is different today, is that this vessel, now that it has been broken at the feet of Jesus, is releasing the perfume that is in it...also Jesus. For from Him and to Him and through Him are all things. My heart is tender to the breaking point, and in my weakness, He is made so strong.

My righteousness is reckoned to me. It is a gift.

Bless His name!

Manifold Grace, Abundant Grace...

Look what I bought yesterday!

I can't wait till Monday to make my special announcement...

I am going to be a grandmommy!

Yes. Me.

Hannah and Justin, married last May, are "with child" by their first wedding anniversary. They are ecstatic.

Their dad and I are over the moon. What is the deal with this release of incredible, undeserved blessing in our lives? One thing after another after another, and just when I think it can't get any better...

...I find out I am going to be a grandmommy.

When I told the church family about it this morning, I laid flat-out on the floor! No kidding. I just laid down, on my back, and then said it: "I am going to be a grandmommy!" After all, if bliss could kill, I'd be dead-on-the-floor. There was simply no other way to convey the utter joy.

Harvest Church responded like they always do, for every special, amazing church-family announcement.

They went crazy.

"Grow old along with me", dear friends, "the best is yet to be - the last of life for which the first was made..."

If you only knew the emotional state of my heart a little over a year ago, you would be astounded at what God has done. I thought I understood grace...and I did. But I had yet to apply my theology to my biography.

The moment I acknowledged my need to have the foundations of my life rebuilt, God met me and began a deep work. Then, in recent weeks and months, I have entered a season of blessing and harvest unlike any I've ever known - rich in some ways money can buy, and rich in every conceivable way money cannot buy.

Perfect love does not come until the first grandchild.
~Welsh Proverb


Cutting the coco-mat to fit a heart-shaped wire basket that I have had for over ten years...

filling the hanging baskets with beautiful potting soil...

tease the roots of your flowers before planting them...

Plant your new annuals in an "X" or cross shape, three across, three down. They look sparse now, but this will fill in and spill over beautifully in a matter of a few weeks. This year, I chose red wave petunia and red verbena, both have a draping, hanging habit.

One of the finished baskets, in its usual spring and summer home.

some of the ingredients to home made chicken lo mein...

pasta on the left, boneless chicken in the wok, with coarse salt, soy, and believe it or not, a couple of teaspoons of brown gravy mix, and of course a bit of minced ginger...

a typical evening here...

Enjoy your weekend, friends. Mine is already shaping up to be most lovely. Absolutely got to get the pole bean seeds planted this weekend, and also need to get the usual impatiens stuffed in the pockets of my heirloom terra cotta strawberry pot. This year, I chose white rather than the usual reddish-salmon color. The contrast of the white on the terra cotta will be gorgeous. It is the little things in life that bliss me out.

Stay tuned, because I will have a special surprise announcement coming on Monday!

I Am...

...the most blessed woman I know of. That is who I am. And if you understand divine grace, you are the most blessed woman (or man) that you know of.

Got all my hanging planters filled and hung (I design and plant up my own, which saves lots of money), free Black-eyed Susan perennials planted (three good-sized plants - a fabulous gift) and got all my tomato and pepper plants, plus some cilantro in the ground today.

It has been a long, hard-working, and insanely happy day for me. I'm slightly sunburnt and tired and my back aches, but oh, His grace is amazing!

Wild horses could not drag me back under the law. I love, love, love this New Covenant Life that I have been freely given in Christ Jesus.

Sharing some blogs I love - I planted some ranunculus today. I have long loved this flower, and finally have plants of my own! I ran across this fantastic little blog...if you enjoy ranunculus like I do, you will thank me for the link!

The Greatest Act of Service

I was asked for my best advice to any woman about to get married. After much prayerful consideration, here it is:

The greatest act of service is to see to it that you not only act cheerful, but that you truly are cheerful. Be (or become) a cheerful woman.

The discipline of cheerfulness is the single most important thing you can do as a keeper of your home. Again - when you don't feel cheerful, by all means, act cheerful. But the highest work of love and service is to, in fact, be cheerful.

A woman who heeds the Lord's command to "be of good cheer", is one-in-a-million. And she makes life at home a joy for her husband and children.

A Sunday in Spring!

Got fishin' licenses after church today...

Eleven of us went to the lake...

See the "Barbie Jeep" below...

cute puppies...

Rowing, singing newlyweds...

We all caravaned back home to my house, where spaghetti for eleven was whipped up with pleasure, and coat hangers were taken apart, and unbent to toast marshmallows over the fire.

Last but not least, after spaghetti, garlic bread, coffee and cookies, we watched the PBS remake of the Diary of Anne Frank. PBS did an excellent job.

We are so blessed to be able to cherish our moments together with family and friends...

Lovin' Church Life

Friendship is such a gift. And such a happy responsibility. I attended the bridal shower of yet another Harvester today...a girl I have watched grow up. I sat, once again breathing deeply of the atmosphere of eternity (relationships are the only thing we take into heaven with us), I watched the bride's mother's teary smiles and listened to the laughter of these my soul loves so much, and I took joy.

I would not trade this for anything. These moments. This spiritual family. Two weddings in a month's time would be difficult to pull off for any church our size - truly, she who "lives in a small community lives in a much larger world". We Harvest women have not chosen our companions, they have been chosen for us, and the responsibility to stick and stay and love and tend is far more intense when we can't float from clique to clique within a large framework, and pretend we are living church life.

I knew the back stories of almost every woman at the party today, and every woman I thoughtfully considered had sacrificed both to be there and to give. Some had sick children at home, the husband of another has recently had open heart surgery, and another woman had worked long hours this past week, and another is facing incredible stress on her job, and another drove five exhausting hours through stand-still traffic to get back into town, coming straight to the shower....yet they all came anyway, and it was pure joy for them.

Oh, dear one! It is all about the serving. Serving one another in love is to live life at its fullest tilt, awash in blessing and sweetly broken beneath the burden of fulfilling the law of Christ. ("Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ"...)

I made someone laugh until they cried today. I've heard it said "the devil made me do it", but I know it was God. Laughter is a medicine, and I was God's drug pusher, and I'm shockingly proud of it. (Deal with it.)

Next time, I'm going for a pee in the pants. To my knowlege, I have never made someone pee in her pants. That would be the ultimate success. I'd die a happy woman, knowing I accomplished something grand.

I love church life.

"Keep Yourselves in the Love of God..."

“We need to keep our heart full of a sense of the love of God. This is the greatest perspective available to us against the power of temptation in the world...Fill your heart with a sense of the love of God in Christ, and apply the eternal design of grace and shed blood to yourselves. Accept all the privileges of adoption,justification, and acceptance with God. Fill your heart with thoughts of the beauty of holiness...then in the ordinary course of walking with God, you will experience great peace and security from temptation.”

John Owen, Sin and Temptation

"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,keep yourselves in the love of God..." (Jude)

A God-Kissed Day

A golden, God-kissed day. Gathering with the saints this morning was precious, the word on resurrection was encouraging.

Easter lunch was...startling. I managed to make enough to feed an army twice over. I cooked a good part of the afternoon yesterday, so that it would seem "easy" to come home to ham bathed in an orange/brown sugar glaze, stuffing, mashed potatoes, three bean salad, creamed peas, croissants, and gravy to go over any or all of it.

Every member of the family was here, including the sons-in-love, and my brother. Full table, full hearts, empty tomb. Does it get any better?

After clearing the dishes, I actually got a nap.

Then, instead of all of us going to the lake and out on the canoe as originally planned, someone came up with the idea of blessing me with an afternoon of garden work! I awoke to a request for supplies and hot dogs (for a late dinner). Off to the hardware and grocery stores I went, coming home with a pair of "loppers", a flat of basil, some impatiens and a flat of wave petunias, hot dogs and chips.

My flower patch got tilled by Jonathan, my herb garden cleared of the giant dead rosemary (a casualty of the colder than average winter) by Justin and Hannah, flowers planted by Sarah, and all the brush gleefully burned by Isaac, who has become quite the pyromaniac.

The overgrowth around the pond was cleared and an errant thorn bush dealt with by my man, giving the budding peonies and irises room to breathe. Evergreens got pruned and shaped, and the side shade garden weeded.

All this, and Jesus too. Somebody pinch me.

We managed to squeeze in some basketball, passing football, and a leisurely dinner - hot dogs off the grill, chips n' dip, with three bean salad leftovers - plus we enjoyed a fire in the firepit, along with beverages and quiet conversation about married life. Bliss.

I sit, propped up on pillows, listening to the sound of the pond waterfall, and sleepily chatting with all of you...thank you for stopping by. I love blogging so much, and I honestly love all my friends I've met along the way.

Not every day is golden - not every day feels God-kissed, even though every day is. I appreciate the privilege of sharing life with ya'll, and look forward with you to a glorious spring.

He's doing a new thing, you know.

The Missing Element...

Ever wonder what some homes are missing?

I've spent hours in others homes, large and small, rich and poor. One of the loveliest afternoons I spent was with a friend, many years ago, who had five children, two bedrooms, and no kitchen cabinets, only rough-hewn shelving. She made me potato soup, and I drank ice water, and we thoroughly enjoyed one another's company, and her home was clean and spare and happy.

Another home lingers sweetly in my memory - that of a doctor friend who lives south of Tennessee. This home is large with every imaginable amenity...but manages not to condescend. I am sure the unpretentious, relaxed atmosphere is due to a mix of philosophy and design.

Philosophy, in that the lifestyle portrayed by the home and in the home was real.

The sewing nook on the stair landing was obviously in use. The library was well loved and even more well read. The wood fired pizza oven, above the stone fireplace, had seen many meals.

Design, in that the elements of the house were collected over time. This family had endured seasons of lack and times of plenty, and all of this living was well represented throughout the home itself. No attempt was made to erase the signs of those years when needing to sew and grow a garden and utilize second hand furniture was necessary to make ends meet.

Necessity is always the mother of invention. Don't erase signs of necessity! Some of the most beautiful design elements in use today, are simply a result of a previous generation's frugal economy. This doctor's home, south of here, was not ashamed of a worn chair here or there.

I've been in small and large homes, where I get the distinct impression I am being either deceived or condescended to. Few situations are sadder or more unnecessary than a new McMansion, either partially empty, or stocked with items mostly purchased within the last five years, and meant to portray a certain look, or worse, a faux lifestyle. These homes are empty of soul. Or, what of the small home of modest means filled with expensive gadgets and rent-a-room furniture? Same empty result: a home with no soul. No seasons of life.

The missing element? Grace.

More than a doctrine to be confined within church walls, grace is a designer's or architect's or artist's dream. A home is meant to be a grace-note...a place where things worn and flawed and people worn and flawed are nevertheless loved. Anything or anyone we truly love is made beautiful in our eyes, and others usually agree. A home is meant to be a place where, yes, beauty is celebrated, but never at the expense of honesty and faithfulness to our individual callings and stories. Never at the expense of true hospitality.

True hospitality is simply a sharing of who I actually am, with those God brings into my life. I have to live the life first....only then can I share it authentically, and for a lifetime.

May my home, and yours, be an actual haven. Places of manifold graces.

Thrift Score!

A cute-as-can-be "skort" (I live in those during the summer!) tags still on it...I paid $1.99 at the thrift store.

I've been wanting some slightly scuffed "skinny jeans". Again, tags still on these. I paid $5.99 at the thrift store.

Both items fit just fine. Love me a good deal.

I also picked up a way-too-big-for-me beige linen jumper, obviously from the 90's when that sort of monstrosity was in style. "Why?" you ask? (oh please ask!) Well, it was a dollar, and gives me more than a yard of excellent weight, weave, and quality linen. I will wash it, rip the seams out, and make something out of the fabric. Probably some hand-embroidered something or other. (pillow? napkins?)

When I do, you'll be the first to know.

He, Being Dead, Yet Speaks...

“Every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For he was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us. He was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair.

He died for our life; so that by him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt canceled, labor lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal.

In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune.”

—John Calvin, preface for Pierre Robert Oliv├ętan’s 1534 French translation of the New Testament