Ephesians... and not just "adequate grace"...ABUNDANT GRACE!

Did you realize that, by grace, God decided - long ago! before the foundation of the world! - that you would be holy and without blame before Him, as an object of His love?

Before you could have ever worked a righteous work, before you could perfect your own holiness, before you could sin, sweat, or be sincere, God had already decided that you will be loved and holy and blameless. Your sins were forgiven at the cross. The anger of God was spent on the cross. Jesus took the whole penalty - not just part of it.

How do we react to this good news? How do we receive it? With deep, humble thanks. Your sins...all of them....were forgiven, when Christ was crucified on your behalf.

How do you live and walk in this good news? You get in a church that preaches the gospel. Where grace is preached in all its glory. Week by week, day by day, you sit under the full and true preaching and teaching of the gospel, and over time, your mind becomes renewed. The truth of your "so great a salvation" will begin to affect more than your destiny. It will begin to deeply affect your day.

When you renew your mind in the truth of your inheritance, the truth of your utter freedom from the condemnation that comes with the law, Ephesians 1 will blow your mind. I'm in love with it...I've been in it (for the fiftieth time) for two days already. Enjoy!

...He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace,which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence...

Friends - this is called "The Finished Work of Christ". Grace plus nothing. If you renew the spirit of your mind in these truths, your foot cannot be moved off of them. You will live securely. You will live so abundantly and sacrificially and joyfully.

You come to Christ through Grace Plus Nothing, and in time, God will fashion you into a son or daughter that walks in Grace Plus Everything. When we come through the one, the narrow door, by grace through faith, we get all of Him on the other side.

He is our sanctification. All of Him, none of us. Such a glorious unbalanced stunning exchange. I long for the Good News of the Gospel to actually be the Good News God means for it to be. He entrusted it to those first apostles, and it behooves us to get back to the things they taught about the New Covenant, salvation, grace, and our response to the love of God.

The Mama Roo Swing

This is the way-cool baby swing I told you about. (I'm hoping this YouTube video embeds properly!) This is Jeremiah Bailey's swing - called "The Mama Roo Swing". It can play your music from your ipod, and the movement of this swing is amazing...specially designed to soothe babies.

My, how times have changed.

24 years ago when my twin girls were born, it was a big advance to have one of the first battery powered infant swings. And I did have one. One. It was purchased gently used and given to me, a gift from our then-pastor's wife Sandi Fatow. The other was also a gift, a wind-up model. Those two little swings sat, side by side, in our tiny living room, for months. I used them every single day, as you could well imagine....two babies, with no one available to help consistently. Those swings were my lifeline.

Three cheers for technology! Here's hoping this sweet, amazing swing will give Jeremiah hours of entertainment and great napping...all while NOT playing those annoying, mechanized, computerized baby ditties.

The Preacher's Wife Makes Mac N' Cheese

First, you pop your tiny net book on the counter, because it is so much smaller than your laptop...

...and so that you can (not) follow the recipe you have chosen.

Because you realize that you don't have the entire amount of cream cheese this recipe calls for, and this recipe does not include Asiago (which you love), and you want to use heavy cream instead of milk, and you are thinking that white pepper will be better than regular ol' black pepper.

Next step: Toss recipe, and start cooking this stuff your way.

peel the wax from your Gouda cheese...("eatin' Gouda cheese, eatin' Gouda cheese, goodness how delicious, eatin' Gouda cheese!" ...nevermind...you never heard of the "Goober Peas" song, have you?)

grate about this much. (okay, okay...about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup)

Get out your Asiago...ooooh, baby. Then, grate about this much:

Okay, okay - about 1/2 a cup! Gosh, you are demanding. I can't believe you actually want correct amounts.

Next, get out your husband's stash of Cracker Barrel cheddar, and use it. Because you love him, and you are very concerned for his health. He shouldn't be eating all that cheese by himself.

Grate nearly all his cheddar. But do save him a tiny bite.

Then again...

Nah. Sorry honey. You really shouldn't eat too much cheese.

Then, because you are a Goober-Blogger-Geek, you gather all your ingredients together. For the money shot. Yeah. Then, realize you forgot to include the white pepper. No matter, you'll slip it in a photo, later on.

Next, melt your cream cheese (only 4 ounces) and Asiago and Gouda cheeses in 2 cups of cream. Okay, a cup and a half of cream, and a half cup of skim. Feel better?

Then, melt your cheddar.

Add about 1/4 tsp. white pepper. (I promise, that is white pepper.) Then, salt generously, using coarse salt. I'm sorry, I wish I could be more precise. I grab a palm of salt, and then I take pinches out of my palm. Just taste as you salt. Remember - you can add salt, but you can't take it away.

Next, you realize you forgot to cut your cream cheese up into little bits before tossing it in the saucepan. So you find the lumps and try to smoosh them smooth, to speed up the melting process.

Just keepin' it real, people. Folks don't trust me for no good reason. Um. Meaning they DO trust me for very good reason. Ohlord...am I making sense?

Pour creamy awesomeness over your undercooked noodles. Very Al' Dente noodles. Trust me. You got good reason to trust me (see picture above). I didn't take a picture of boiling noodles...I didn't want to insult your intelligence.

At this point, feel free to slip in your shameless husband-grandson plug:

And now, back to your regularly scheduled program.

Bake the creamy heavenly deliciousness for about a half an hour, at 350. Then, you will enjoy this:


You really should drop by for a little sustenance. We'll make room at the table for you.
My sweet, sweet grandson in a captured moment of limp bliss, after a busy day...

"Boys are found everywhere -- on top of, underneath, inside of, climbing on, swinging from, running around or jumping to. Mothers love them, little girls hate them, older sisters and brothers tolerate them, adults ignore them and Heaven protects them. A boy is Truth with dirt on its face, Beauty with a cut on its finger, Wisdom with bubble gum in its hair and the Hope of the future with a frog in its pocket."

Alan Marshall Beck

Swedish Style? French Country?

I'm in love with two seemingly unrelated styles. Which one to commit to? Which one is the better looking? Which one would make a worthy partner? Which one to wake up to each morning?

Lover's dilemma. I am truly torn between two aesthetics: French Country Farmhouse....and Swedish/Gustavian.

I used to like the whole rustic/lake house vibe. Then I had a brief fling with Arts and Crafts style...but both rustic and Craftsman = too much wood. Way too much wood. The older I get, the more I don't want lots of brown wood. I need ethereal, romantic, lovely light. I need light neutral wall surfaces and a few furniture pieces painted white.

Then I sort of enjoyed a cottage style - but that style can gravitate to cutesy, and I am a big believer in the axiom "cutesy kills". (Okay, so maybe no one else has said that besides me, but I swear it is true.) And the whole cottage vibe tends to be more cluttered than I'd like.

For a long time now - much longer than I've let on, I've been loving the two styles French Country, and Swedish.

So. Much like I would if I were the type to be in love with two men (which I'm definitely not...I am The Preacher's Wife heart and soul - there is no man on earth I respect and love more), if I were, I would examine the basic philosophy of each one, and try to determine which one resonates with me the most deeply.

Carl Larsson, of the Swedish style, declared himself an enemy of ”gaudy rubbish and tinseled knickknacks.” That sort of makes me hate my Easter/Resurrection tree, but hey...I'm deep in grandbaby mode. I am living this season of little ones to the hilt while it lasts...so get this: He also said, and I quote, "A home is not some lifeless object, but is alive and like all living things it must change from moment to moment.” Easter Tree stays. It will go away in May and come back out next March. My home is alive. I love it.

That is a design philosophy I want making my breakfast every morning. The Swedish design is so, so, so good looking. Lord knows, I gotta have good looking. Thank God for good looking.

(Image of the Swedish Style from Country Living) Mmmmm-mmmmmm-MMMMM. That clock, that nubbly worn table covering. I know. Nubbly is not a word in most people's vocabulary. It is my blog, so deal with it.

Since Swedish style leans more towards light colors, here is an even better example:

Oh. So good looking. The beat up doors and floors...the clock...the light walls...the leggy furniture...that chandelier. (Secret: I have one. Prettier than the one in this picture. It is waiting for Tim to wire it and place it in my dining room ceiling. God is good to His children. Amen.) I do love me some beat up floors and a fancy chandelier together.

Here is a French Country kitchen:

No granite - instead, the counters are wood. (Granite is so last decade, anyhow. At least one of the biggest design blogs out there says so. Instead, think quartz or marble or wood or limestone. I say wood.) Copper pots. Light colors, painted cabinets.

More French country:

The elements of French Country are time-worn, beautiful and functional. Think of light spaces. Of bringing the garden into the house. Of old furniture. Chipped paint. Texture. Layers of natural fabrics. The French value the handmade and the heirloom, so things rarely match, and, in fact, the look of a well-worn piece of furniture is the favored aesthetic.

I'm still torn. There are some similarities - the graceful curves, the leggy furniture pieces, the well-worn surfaces. But there are big differences. I'm not wild about all the stenciling found in rustic Swedish/Gustavian style, nor am I crazy about the gilded, too colorful nature of some French country.

I am going to try to combine the best qualities of both design suitors, and live with both.

Both, I say. I shan't choose. You can't make me. So there is no name for this new style I am forging. So what. No one has ever been able to label me or my style under any particular category. I'm your generic Sanguine/Choleric/Melancholy, with the Presbymatic theology, the self disciplined hedonist with the Gustavian-French thing going on in her house. Sort of "east meets west", Mother Teresa gives birth to Raquel Welch.

Works for me. Who wants to hire me to design their interior?

Resurrection Sunday Decorating

A handmade clay candle holder that I get out each season around Lent. It is four sided, depicting the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Pieta, and the Resurrection...

Here it is in its context, with the whole Spring/Resurrection vignette...

The table...

I don't iron my tablecloths...ahem.

The beginnings of a place setting...no silverware, glasses, or napkins yet, but you have to loooove the plates!

The four candles, representing the four Sundays between now and Resurrection Sunday...

Here is yours truly working on the shot with the antique dresser draped in forsythia, and my blue candlesticks and huge pasta plate - I love the color, and use it to bring some spring into the dining room.

Lastly, I thought I'd show you the finished snood I knitted recently. Today is probably the last day - until next October - that the weather will be cool enough for me to wear it...

My youngest son is giving me no end of grief over the yellow T-shirt and the pink cowl. He's embarrassed that his home schooling mother doesn't match. I told him "matching is for amateurs."

Also, if you can see them, those are the bifocal readers I was excited about a couple of weeks ago. I pretty much wear them every day. Get lots of compliments on them...people say I look like Sarah Palin in them.

::perky sniff::

Underlined Bits by Steve Crosby

I AM...


I AM...


I AM...


I AM...


I AM...

I AM...


I AM...


I AM...


1.The essence of all religion, including Christian religion, is to excuse ourselves and accuse others.

2.Without the resurrection power of the new creation at work in our lives, every virtue will eventually become a vice. The essence of the manifested life of Christ is not the acquisition of moral virtues. Fundamentalist moralism of all sorts is a counterfeit gospel.

3.Only the Holy Spirit, in and through us, can effectively administer the right grace, for the right need, in the right way, at the right time, for the right person, for the right reason. Virtue exercised outside of His administration, is no virtue at all.

Marvel not that you all must be born again – John 3:7
Be constantly being filled with the Spirit – Ephesians 5:18

How To Spot a Whack Job - Edited

About a week or so ago, I posted a piece entitled "How to Spot a Whack Job", based on a funny story a friend had told me.

So many blog posts, at least for me, are all about the mood of the moment - and that day I was in a goofy, happy-go-lucky attitude. Actually, I've been in that attitude a lot lately. What can I say? Spring fever, fer realllll.

As is my habit, I told the back story, that builds up to the punch line. Being all about the back story, and all. And stuff. And maybe I should tell you what I ate for breakfast today, so that you can put this post in better context?

Anyhow, some anonymous someone commented to tell me I am an evil gossip. No joke. Exact words...well, they said that what I said was gossip, and not just fleshly, it was evil, and Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous found me to be very disappointing.

First, I published the comment, though I don't have to. It didn't bother me. Doing the wrong thing bothers me, but I'm not bothered by what other people say, especially anonymously. Then, later in the day, after some consideration, I decided that, in spite of the fact that anonymous comments shouldn't be made in the first place, Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous has a point. That post, though when considered in its full context wasn't gossip at all, could seem like Evil Gossip, now that I look at it through their eyes, and not through my happy-go-lucky mood du jour.

I was born wrong, and will be wrong again, probably later today. And doing the wrong thing bothers me. So instead of just deleting the whole thing, as I could easily do, with the click of a button, I'd rather own it, and own up to it. Take full responsibility. Grace enables me to do that rather easily. I'm that rich, in Christ Jesus.

So. Humble apologies for the oversharing. I will try harder in the future to see my posts through eyes other than just my own. Not everybody has my rather odd sense of humor. Lucky them. You should see what it is like inside my head!

At lease I don't look like I'm about to sneeze.

So, take out the back story (which was very vague, not at all specific), and here is what you are left with:

Someone gave me a word of advice. They told me, "Crazy people always look like they are about to sneeze." The more I thought about it, the more hilariously true the maxim became.

Think about it. The arched eyebrow? The overly-bright facial expression? The frozen features? The smile? The not-quite-normal tone of voice?

See for yourself if it isn't true.

And to further emphasize that this post is meant to be a simple apology, and not a bid for the inevitable comments in my defense, I am closing the comments, just and only for this particular post. Thanks to those who'd want to defend and encourage me, but I'd rather let it be what it is.

Disclaimer: The picture at the top isn't to make fun of anyone taking Prozac. I would take it, if I ever needed it. The picture represents the bright-and-frozen face that might be depicted by someone about to sneeze. Okay? Are we good? Oh please don't call me evil.

-comments closed-

Looking for a Super Cute, yet Modest Swim Suit?

Look no further than LimeRicki.

Check out this website, and you'll be emailing me with your heartfelt thanks. This company carries colorful, adorable suits, and each one is modest. Many of the styles would look perfect on a teenage girl, and many of the styles would look fantastic on a forty-something like me.

Their new 2011 collection isn't out quite yet...April, I think, is when we'll see the new line. But go peruse the website, and look over their 2010 collection, to get an idea of what these swimsuits are about. You. Will. Love.

And if you are a small to medium size, you can snag some amaaaaaazing deals RIGHT NOW, as they are clearing out their 2010 inventory.

Jeremiah's First Sunday to Church

Our youth pastor Matt and his wife Kelly and their precious brood...
L-R, Lydia, David, baby Jeremiah in momma's arms, and Hannah Grace in daddy's arms.

Doesn't Kelly look gorgeous? This picture was taken just this morning at church. Four weeks after her unexpected fall and an emergency C-section. This girl makes motherhood look like a piece of cake. We all know it isn't...we all know those first few weeks of motherhood can be hard work...but she makes it seem enviable.

Can't tell you how great it was to see their faces today. I was right there when Jeremiah was born, but I've not been to their house yet to see the baby after that - and to see his baby SWING. I have been hearing about this newfangled infant swing they got for Jeremiah, and I can't wait to blog about it. You can put your i-pod in it, and play YOUR music while it swings the baby. No more little silly mechanical sounding baby-ditties running through your head all day!

If you don't mind...if you are a praying person...please mention Kelly and family to the Father before you head off to the next blog. Just ask the Lord for their continued health, strength, and blessing.

Thank you. (This means there will be anywhere from 50 to 200 prayers for the Bailey family, depending on the number of page views, and who it is that views this post! That excites me!)

On My 24 Hour Bucket List

That does it. I am having a mimosa with my breakfast tomorrow. Can't help it. The whole idea just blows my skirt straight up.

The way I look at it, any one of us could kick the bucket by this time tomorrow. Therefore, we all need a 24 hour "bucket list". What random, fun, or amazing thing do you want to do tomorrow?

After I've had my mimosa, in the morning, I'll contemplate what the next item should be, on my personal 24 hour bucket list.


* Champagne (1 bottle)
* Orange Juice (1 carton)

Fill half of a champagne flute with chilled champagne and top off with chilled orange juice, gently stir. If you want, slice up a strawberry to decorate the rim of each flute.

Cute Purse!

Is this not the cutest thing? Guess what it is made of! Go on....oh, please guess!

....it is made of plastic grocery bags!

::delighted squeak::

I know, right? Who thinks of these things?

(Many thanks to Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman, for posting about these on her blog - I never knew anything like this existed before this moment. Oh, epiphany, epiphany...)

But if you ever catch me making one? Shoot me on sight. Juuuuuuust shoot me.

Time For Myself

My latest project, begun today...

I tired long ago of blog-histrionics about rain drops and solitude. Gah. I'll never linger over another webpage extolling placid moments spent with livestock - the home education movement is rife with quasi-rural wannabe's. Full of pseudo-deep thoughts, these blogs and books are entertaining in a pathetic sort of way. Treat them like you would an episode of The Real New Jersey Housewives.

Never. Tune. In.

Having said all that, you'd be mistaken if, in reading about all the hustle and bustle of life here at the cottage, you thought I never enjoy nature or a quiet moment.

Oh, I do. You have noooooo idea.

See, it is the busy-ness of my life that makes me really, really...really...good at leisure.

But it goes more like this: lots of work, lots of projects, lots of family, lots of friends, lots of people make up my days...and the moments or hours or days of quiet are the hem that keeps me from unraveling.

Not the whole fabric of my life. Not even most of the fabric of my life.

The hem. The quiet moments are just the hem, but without the hem? It falls apart, thread by thread. The quiet moments are just the trim...the lace, the rick-rack, the beautiful gilded braid, but without it, the borders of my time here on earth would not be well defined, much less enchantingly lovely. This is the meaning of solitude. Much like the life of Jesus, quiet alone-ness is meant to comprise a small portion of a life that is mostly spent loving people, busily and actively and (often) painfully.

Without a peopled, busy life, all the quiet and long walks and the flock of Nubian goats and raindrops on roses and "dappled things and skies of couple-color as a brinded cow" (my favorite poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins) - well, its all just so much crap.

The only things we take into eternity are relationships.

Which reminds me of a very well written book on interior design entitled "A Perfectly Kept House is A Sign of a Misspent Life". Such a wonderful book on home design - one that lets the philosophy, that a home is the place where people love and are loved, rule everything...that philosophy should guide design, and take precedence above slavish displays of wealth, or even above showcasing a certain style, like Colonial or Victorian or Arts and Crafts or Mediterranean villa or French country (my fav) or Rustic or Whatever.

I could write a book: A Whole Lot of Days of Long walks and Quiet Are A Sign of a Misspent Life.

Time to myself, "quiet time", walks and dew and dappled things - these are not my life's essence - they are what recharge my spirit, enabling me to get right back into the essence of my life: nurturing people.

Busy. Is. Good.

But this week? Oh, it is me-time all the way, baby.

My beloved is two states north of here, left this past Sunday, and won't be home until Saturday night....late. My youngest son is with him, and they are having a blast, just the two of them.

Me? I have sat in a coffee shop all by myself reading an e-book, gone shopping for five hours all by myself, eaten cake all by myself, watched chick flicks (yes, plural) with my daughter, snuggled my grandson, prayed, cooked, and been inspired, all by myself. And it is only Tuesday.

This week is my own version of "Eat, Pray, Love".

I'm really, really good at quiet-time. Precisely because I don't have much of it.

Bacon For a Crowd - The Easy Way

Am I the only one who thought bacon for breakfast meant standing over a cast iron griddle, flipping and flipping (the bacon...not me, silly!) and getting those painful pinpricks of hot grease on your arms?

For twenty years, that is what bacon for breakfast meant to me. But we still ate a lot of it.

Well, no more! No more standing over my griddle, flipping bacon, that is. Shoot,people...I'll never go without bacon. There'll be bacon, or some version of it, in heaven, I'm pretty sure. And I have deep theological reasons for thinking so.

So here's what you do. This is so easy, you'll want to kiss me.

Take a large griddle, or rimmed baking sheet, and line it with foil. (My pan up there is a Calphalon nonstick, hard anodized griddle - the biggest size they make. It barely fits in my oven...it is also oven-safe, to 500 degrees.)

Pop it in a cool oven. Put it in diagonally, if your griddle is also too big for your generously sized oven. Turn your oven on to 400 degrees. Walk away for 17-20 minutes.

I'm serious. Go get dressed, or read your Bible, or grab a shower. In 20 minutes, here is what you'll get:

Um...sorry. A bunch of bacon got inhaled before I could even snap the picture. Soooooo good. Soooooo easy.

And no more of those pesky little pinprick-size grease burns. No flipping.

No. Flipping.

This tip is worth a thousand dollars. I should have a Paypal up and running on my blog, for all the eager and happy and grateful contributions that ought to come rolling in. (Just kidding...)

"The Baby" Turns 18

These stats are from this one season, so far. His national tournament is in Springfield Missouri next week...Tim is leaving with him this Sunday, right after church, and they will be there for one whole week! Isaac will be playing game after game after game.

His gift from Hannah and Justin...Hannah wrapped it so cleverly and creatively. Isaac's playing style is similar to that of Derek Rose, or so others have told him. Actually, I noticed that when you look at these pictures up close, you can kind of see it.

We can't believe he is 18!

Opening his gift from Sarah and Jonathan...

How many people does it take to open a life-sized vinyl "Fat Head" wall decal of Derek Rose? (Justin and Hannah's gift. If you look, you'll see Justin holding baby Tim...Jonathan and Hannah are helping Isaac get the package open. Sarah is on her way to help, too. See Isaac's change of clothes from the last picture to this one?)

Our boy is being looked at by three small colleges, all in other states. He's been bookmarked...flagged...he's being watched...however you say it...by a recruiter out of Colorado, and also Georgia, and North Carolina, so far. Since he has only played high school basketball on an organized team this year, he has chosen to delay graduation in order to be eligible to play one more year. This was a difficult decision for him and for us, as he is ready to graduate. Much prayer has gone into the decision. He has all his necessary credits to graduate this year, and a perfectly average ACT score that, while it won't get him an academic scholarship, will let him attend any state college this fall.

But if he can play an extra year, the possibility is strong that he'd be noticed by some bigger colleges...he could get a full ride. Trust me, we wouldn't be making this kind of decision if that were not a distinct possibility. And this gives him time to work for even better than average ACT scores.

While out shopping for his birthday cake yesterday, I ran across something that perfectly sums up his/our decision to play one more year of high school basketball, and literally "shoot for" a college scholarship:

Precious confirmation.

Happy Birthday, Youngest Son!

You wouldn't be wasting a prayer on him, or on us. God is up to something with this young man.