Ordinary Evening At The End of June

Our daughter Hannah, dressed up after going out on a date with her hubby - beads, baby bump and all, mowing her daddy's yard - just cuz she wanted to.

Fresh from our garden, these will become...


And this will become...


Shhhhh...listen. Through the open window, you can hear the cicadas and crickets, singing softly and rhythmically, singing you into deep, meditative relaxation.

Were you a guest in my home, I'd make sure you had an extra blanket, a pitcher of water and a glass in your room, and after we had pie and (decaf) coffee together, Tim, Justin, Hannah and I would bid you a goodnight.

Be sure to crack your window, so you can hear the pond waterfall.


Full Heart, Full House

This is a time in my life when my nest is supposed to be empty - for reasons good and reasons bad. No family is immune to enemy encroachment. No, not one. But here in my home, God prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemy.

One or two family relationships strained for Christ's sake, but never estranged. Bent, never broken. Grace and truth, working in tandem, both oars in the water, as we navigate. Every day, we talk, text, teach....and pray for the wayward ones. Especially the wayward ones.

We love them enough to live the gospel out - never for a moment quiet about the reality of our magnificent obsession, Christ in us, the hope of glory. Backing down from the reality of Who we know Him to be is not something we've ever done, no not for our closest friends or even our children. This gospel of grace is what makes the cost of discipleship so utterly reasonable.

And so, though the nest is supposed to be empty, the nest stays full. By "full", I don't mean one or two extra. Tonight, there are eight here, gathered round the table, playing board games with loud laughter. We didn't plan it...it just always turns out this way.

You see, in a family or in a church, so-called works of righteousness are a moot point without grace. Love is just a concept in an empty room. There is no love without someone there TO love, to be patient with, to believe the best of. I can indeed give my body to be burned, and be missing the whole point. I can talk about Christian perfection all day long, but if I am talking to an empty room...well, I'm not about the business of loving people, am I? I'm about the business of loving the sound of my own voice.

No one is listening.

Without an understanding of the grace of God, all my disciplines and all my efforts become hackneyed, hatchet-faced hard-ball...and no one builds a relationship on that. No one is listening.

And in families (as well as churches) without at least a relationship, there is nothing to work from. There is no point of contact, no position of strength, no conversation to listen to, no place for tough and tender love to be made manifest.

Life in this cottage is so painful, right about now. Life in this cottage is so good, right about now, and I'm not even kidding. "Good" and "painless" are not synonymous. Sort of like how "perfection" and "beauty" are not the same.

He makes everything beautiful in His time. There aren't enough decades available, not in this life, for everything to be made perfect. But I can look around and find evidence of beauty in my life, at all times in all seasons.

Such fullness. Grace truly accomplishes what the law never could.

Summer Breeze...

Tomato still life

We've all seen cherries, but these are mine.

Great, big, South Carolina peach.

recipes, waiting to be tried - fruit, waiting to be enjoyed

The days are long in summer, yet so short when always "up and doing". I love me a good to-do list, good and full of people, places, and pallucid skies. Perfect summer, when I awaken with the sun, work steadily, and end the day with my books. Perfect summer, when the chores seem God-kissed, always more to be accomplished, yet there is time for a nap.

Have a perfect summer weekend!

A Harvest Home...

It is official. I'm excited about it, too.

Our dear friends, the Dr. and his missus, have bought a new home - one dedicated to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to faithful hospitality. I can't wait for you to see it - there will be pictures as soon as I can snap and post them.

In the meantime, hear it for yourself, here at her new blog, "Filled With Grace and Beauty". Don't you just love that name?

Yeah. A for-real hospitality home. As every home in Harvest Church is! When you live for Jesus Christ and His gospel (as found, verbatim, in the New Testament Bible, as preached by Paul and the other apostles...that one. No more. No less. Nothing but. Pretty simple, huh? Um, don't confuse "simple" with "easy".)

When you stand for the gospel (as opposed to mere "Godly living", which while fine and good, falls so ridiculously short of the richness of Christ) God lays Himself out in order to outfit you with what you need to fulfil your ministry. And then blesses you to overflowing as you fulfil it.

Dr. Doug and Cheryl - God has blessed you in incredible ways money can buy...and in every way money cannot buy! I cannot wait to see what God will do.

Pantry ReDo

One of the items on my to-do list this summer was to reorganize my pantry. The only rule was that it had to cost me nothing. As of today...done and done.



Top two shelves (the basket has cupcake baking supplies in it...sprinkles, food coloring, fun stuff.)

Bottom shelves...

Once more - "Before"
My reward to myself - also at no cost.
And an "A" for effort!
Yeay, me. Oh, yeayyeayyeay me.

Linking to Organize and Decorate Everything

Organize and Decorate Everything

It is So Hip to Be...

It is so hip to be tense and foreboding, these days. Especially in the church.

I've been thinking about this, because I have every reason to be tense and even a little foreboding right now, and therefore I choose not to be. I think I shall instead enjoy a glass of wine, and be a drinker with a writing problem.

The Christian life requires stamina and perseverance and emotional fortitude - most of us know that already, because we've long since been living of the gospel. We've been going against the flow in reality, and for the only Real Reason (the gospel), rather than imagining that we're going against it because we are simply being obstinate or perhaps merely sentimental.

When my life became all about the gospel - living it, illustrating it with my decisions, my doings and my day, getting it right and getting it true, I became the target of spiritual forces.

This is no revelation - it is a firm grasp of the obvious.

Perhaps it is the Scotswoman in me, but deep down I never met a fight I didn't expect to win. When I combine this with the truth of Scripture that tells me I am more than a conqueror, all the overwrought hoo-ha about spiritual warfare just seems like so much melodrama. I mean, do we expect to lose?

Nah. Not me.

Yes, it is all about the gospel. Yes, this means things get difficult. Yes, it means losing a few battles in the process of winning the war. Yes, there is a shout going up in the spirit.

But beloved - it is the sound of victory.

No, it isn't easy. And because it isn't easy, we'd all better learn to lighten up. If I may be so bold, take it from someone who has been swinging her sword for a long time: you'll be standing in faith for something until you lay this earthly life down. Get over it, get used to it, act like you've done it before and will do it again. Pace yourself, and for Pete's sake, it isn't the end of the world until it is the end of the world.

A Scot is crazier than a run over cat. Historically, their wars were merry. No one suffered more than they in their fight for freedom, but no one had more fun fighting, either. Big hearts break big, yet we serve a God who heals them. Weeping endures for a night. But "joy cometh".

I've known a few folks who have been through what I am just now going through...some handled it with faith, while some hurled headlong into a quiet, self absorbed life of merely "coping". A very few continued to live in an others-minded fashion, while others became a drain on all who loved and walked with them. Some pressed forward, kept calm and carried on in community with the saints, while others slipped backwards into emotional instability - making unwise decisions and abrupt changes in course.

My God has promised to be my wisdom, my strength, and the stability of my times. (Isaiah 33:6)

"Steady, now." This is the grace in which I stand. I can actually rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2)

Call me crazy. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit to being a veteran of a few wars. The current one is not the first, and won't be the last. It is by far my hardest one.

All the more reason to relax. I know...very uncool. Ask me if I care. I know what it takes to win - it takes quietness and confidence.

And joy.

Wood Counters Are In...

(loving all things natural, ivory, white, cream, gray, toffee...)

My word for 2010 was create.

So far, it has definitely been the year to do exactly that. Among other things, it was my goal to redecorate my kitchen this summer. (In my mind, this meant changing the wall color, severely editing what was on display, and maybe a new throw rug...)

A terrible little incident sped up the timetable for the project. Still. The results far surpass what even I had in mind. If anyone is considering all butcher block counters, please allow me to encourage you to go for it. The maintenance is more than probably any other surface you can buy, including granite, but the warmth and understated elegance is well worth it. After all, "beauty is about maintenance".

I'd rather not have a surface in my kitchen that is quite literally "hard and cold". Give me warmth and patina and pleasantness.

excuse the crumbs...I don't style my pictures.

...the long view...

The coolest faucet ever!

close up...

I love this shot, so much. Two of my aprons, the antique dresser in the dining area, sunshine spilling in the window, the new faucet and porcelain sink, the wood counters, terra cotta tiles...all of it. This kitchen is exactly what I wanted. (Still don't have my knobs and drawer handles, but that can wait...)

Open shelving installed (not yet painted by yours truly...but built by my handyman, and lovingly installed last week...)

fun details - mercury glass spheres, which will be displayed year-round, and hung by velvet ribbons in the windowsill at Christmas time...the burlap basket that I gather things from my garden in...pothos plant, which grows even in low light...

More fun details...blue mercury glass and twine, the contrast of rustic and shiny, together in a glass trifle bowl...verse on the wall in shades of faded turquoise and ivory, with brown script...

So fun, and so satisfying, to come up with a design idea from scratch...and create!

Father's Day...

It began like this...the fifth baptism in four weeks.

The pilgrimage to dad's house...

where dad treated everyone to grilled steaks for lunch...

Then, dad was encircled by his children...

Hannah baked him a cake...

His girls and their husbands got him a new top for his "Barbie Jeep" - the boys gave him a Lowe's gift card, since there is always a tool their daddy wants.

Then it was off to the movies...

Playing on the escalators...precisely what their father taught them not to do when they were little...


We ended the day by driving to our secret family spot for firefly watching. No, it is not Elkmont (famous for its firefly display in June). This place is just as beautiful, and not far away at all...Sarah and Jonathan found it by chance, and shared it with the family. We aren't telling where, because sure as we do, it won't be our secret anymore. The fireflies are there in the millions, and it looks like magic...twinkle lights all through the trees, all around us. We were awed and blessed.

Tim - you are an incredible father. Your love for your God is the stuff of family lore and legend. We love you!

Butcher Block Countertops

Believe it or not, even in high-end kitchens, it isn't an altogether "granite countertop world" out there. Not by a long shot. Many designers prefer wood, its warmth and the potential for character and patina ~

gorgeous, no?

My counters are about this color...
in fact, mine look almost just like this, except with a small backspash.

loooooove this!

A little too shiny for me, but see the rich wood grain? My counters have this sort of pattern, with knots and tons of character...

Very high end kitchen - beautiful wood counters! I think I'm on to something....

Counters are in! There are several loose ends to tie up before I can take some pictures. I cannot wait to show you...

Maybe the Kitchen is NOT Done...

Well, I thought my kitchen was done for now.

But Tim and my daughter Sarah (very important...Sarah found these counters!) ::smile::

...they have figured out a way to create butcher-block counters for me, for a fraction of a fraction of their retail cost. He found supplies unexpectedly at a salvage store, and so this evening he and both son-in-loves (one mathmetician Justin, one artist-woodworker Jonathan) have already begun creating my new kitchen counters.

I've always wanted wood counters...not granite. Why not granite? Granite has been done and done and done. Plus, granite isn't my vibe. I like them in your house, but in my own house, I tend to have a consistent aesthetic of "perfectly imperfect", time-worn, hand made. At least that is the ethos I am steadily working towards. Eventually, I do not want my home to speak "big box store" OR "designer".

Wood counters. No more Formica - yeay!

With a new white porcelain double bowl sink. Very farm-housey without the expensive "farmhouse sink".

And a fabulous faucet. Promise you've never seen anything like it. All these things from a salvage place.

Of course, full pics when they are done. Can't wait!

Forty-seven year old preacher hands...

Young, newlywed artist's hands...

Working together with a son-in-law...also a comfort. Oh my, how we love our sons-in-love.

small vignette in my kitchen...might keep it this way, might not. I've seen lots of old paint splattered ladders in all the design books lately. What do you think?

excuse the magnetic DART sticking out of the side of the fridge...which is covered in pictures of my beloved church family.

I am actually using a shopping bag, when I remember, to get groceries (when I only have to shop for a few things.) Our local Fresh Market is my favorite grocery store...I fell hard for this burlap shopping bag there. My goal is to decorate completely with things useful as well as beautiful, rather than "knick knacks".

I'm hearing the sound of sanders and saws...just outside this door!