Significance In The Gospel

Rather than filling my life with things that make me feel significant, I'd rather fill my life with significant things. Nothing is more significant than the Gospel - the precious, life giving truths of justification by faith in Christ.

God is not punishing you, if you are in Christ Jesus. If you are in Christ Jesus, you have been removed from "first Adam" (oh, how I wish I had more time and space to unpack it!) and God will never punish you. He already poured His wrath out on Christ.

Punishment is just that...punishment. You pay for your sin. Jesus paid it ALL.

Discipline is designed to make you great, girlfriend. It is an indication of His great love for you, and the potential of Christ in you bringing God GREAT glory.

The more you delve into the grace-gospel, the more you better get prepared for greatness. The more you understand the Gospel, the more your life becomes filled with significant things..and the more discipline you will encounter. (Read: "the more you will be held accountable for having right relationships with those in authority in your life, with those who are your peers, and with those under your authority.")

I Am Defined by My Delights

"She who delights in luxury is dead while she lives." I Timothy 5:6 - my paraphrase, but it is accurate - as in "study the Greek" accurate. Go ahead and check it out for yourself. (Yes, the context of this passage applies to "widows indeed" in the church, but use your sanctified logic...why wouldn't it be applicable to any woman who calls herself a believer in Christ?)

I am defined by what delights me. I pray I am found choosing relationships over money. I pray I am found delighting in family more than what finances can purchase for me. (No amount of assets or acreage can get you even one healthy relationship!) I pray I am found putting the priority and emphasis on being a faithful friend, over acquiring social status through strutting my luxurious stuff. I pray I am found valuing people over "personal peace and affluence" - a phrase originally coined by Francis Schaeffer.

Want to really live? As a woman, do you want to really have a full life? Find delight in loving God and loving others - be busy, every day, doing both. The latest automobile or appliance, the loveliest acreage or apparel just won't do it for you. To value "stuff" is the best way to be dead while you live.

Another Great Example of Granny Chic

(This image from the blog Sofie's Haus)

What a great example of "Granny Chic"! I love the mix of color and even pattern. The blog, "Sofie's Haus" is one of the very best photography blogs I've run across - featuring lots of fashion and interior design. I swear, I love me a good Sofie outfit. Every one she puts together and then photographs is a study in style.

Note the large leather bag, the mix of fabric pattern, the boots, which are a nice wedge heel, but not too high. The cute cardi just tops it all off, pulling together an adorable outfit that would look becoming on any woman from 50 years old, down to 25 years old.

Sofie may not be specifically attempting to define "Granny Chic" for us (she is in her late 20's I believe) but she sure does nail the look, almost every time. Her fashion aesthetic transcends generations.

I often copy her, and I am a 45 year old grandmommy. And I would love to have her manicurist as my own, but I probably couldn't afford her manicurist. Sofie's nails ... even her nails .... tell a fashion/style story. Spend a little time looking over her blog, and you will easily see. Sofie uses various colors on her nails - all of them Chanel - and manages to put together a beautiful style post that is a study in color theory.

From fingertips to toes, and the pretty clothes worn between, this blog is almost always a great example of the eclectic, intelligent, yet sensual style that is becoming known as "Granny Chic".

The Exquisite Writing of Hal Borland

"November is the evening of the year, the bedtime of the green and flowering world. Now comes the time for rest, for sleep. So the coverlet is spread, the tucking in begun. Next should come the lullaby, but the lullaby singers have all gone south. The pines and the hemlocks will whisper good night instead."

Relationships Can Be Restored

Maybe this winter can be your spring and mine? God is able! Do the right thing, say the right thing, to the right person. Don't do the wrong thing, and say the wrong thing. Don't say the right thing to anyone and everyone but the right person. Relationships are worth it. Someone, somewhere is waiting on you to fix it. They are missing you. Fix it soon. Love is alive...

In Which Sheila Declares

...that she is thankful for:

her girlfriends...and her best friend, The Preacher...and her children, her four plus two more sons in law...

for Snoopy cartoons...
and birthday presents that are still coming in...
for 25 years, this year, with her Renaissance Man - preacher, builder, musician, auto mechanic, handy man, world traveler, computer techie, Bible student, and sous chef...

Ford trucks, and most country music
the maxi dress, her big front porch, and smart phone

Sheila is fantastically grateful for her Grandson. The Cutest Ever. Even though he has already discovered biting. And squealing in rage. He's still perfect. Amen.

for her parents, sister, and brother

for petite blondes who drive Mustangs and make her smile and buy purple shirts especially for her son's basketball games. A better girlfriend a mother's son never had.

for nice girls from Minnesota, utterly brunette, visiting my home and family this Thanksgiving (Josiah, she's great!)

for the mighty, amazing, unending, unfathomable, better-than-we-know grace of God
and for the gospel of Jesus Christ, the effect of which is a true, unselfconscious, humble and durable holiness

that she serves a Joyful King

that she didn't earn and doesn't deserve, yet she is insanely and sloppily blessed

for the way her God breaks chains - even hers, even specifically hers. Those old bondages, so gone!

for the changes her God has made in her life this year - even this year, even specifically this year. Changes some would consider pretty near drastic. And beautiful.

for life-long, well weathered friendships...for the grace men and grace women who stick and stay...

for new friends...especially the outstandingly good looking and highly accomplished ones. They don't intimidate her, she's too busy taking notes and admiring them.

for new opportunities

for old friendships, rekindled...for uber talented friends who cook, garden, landscape, sew, love all my kids and spoil my grandson and blow up things on the fourth of July...

for friends with beautiful, kidney shaped swimming pools in their new party home...and for young college friends...

for a pastor with uncommon courage, a church family with uncommon love and faithfulness, a network of supportive apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers...

"In Which Sheila Declares" that she. is. blessed.

Where Does Your Hope Rest?

Do you cherish hopes for yourself? You should. Are they big hopes? They ought to be huge - much bigger than you could ever accomplish. Super-sized hopes? Fuggetaboutit.

Take that hope, and GOD-SIZE IT, sisterfriend!

But know this: if the bedrock of those hopes is not the mighty grace of God, if you aren't building your dreams on His unmerited favor, you run a very great risk of obtaining every bit of what you've been hoping for, only to discover none of it satisfies.

Some have asked me, "What about my part? What about self discipline? What about setting high standards?" Mostly, they are entertaining a false choice to begin with. Shoot, people have left my church over that false choice, and it is truly a pity, because they are missing out. They couldn't understand that there is no choosing between God's grace and high personal achievement.

It's all in where your hope of glory lies, see.

Whatever made you imagine for a second that the grace of God, when activated in your life, would leave you to your own devices, or set the bar too low? It is God, after all, who is living on the inside of you! It is God, after all, at work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. He provides the initiative, He infuses the self control, and He gives strength to the weak. In that context, set the bar as high as it'll go.

Your part is to harbor a great and massive hope, ever move towards that hope, and believe the Gospel as applied to your present situation. All of Him, none of you. He alone is Maker.

Maker of all.

It is He who hath made us, and not we ourselves.

And when we get to the end of this life, what will we find ourselves saying?

"It is He who hath made us, and not we ourselves," that's what. No self made men in God's kingdom. By the grace of God, I am what I am. Sola, sola, sola gracia!

I have quite a store of hopes and dreams for this, my second half of living. I have caught a right fine second wind. Sequel-mothering suits me to a "T", my heart is enlarged for the generation that follows behind me, and doors of opportunity are swinging wide. I yearn to bring God GREAT glory with my one, well-lived life, spent loving others. I actually think I can do great things. Because this life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.

See here: "Christ in me, the hope of glory!"

That's where my God-sized hope of accomplishing big things comes from.

You Won't Find Perfection Here

...because, to begin with, I have been fighting a stomach bug for two days. So I am in no mood to ply you with perfectly staged pictures of my sweet little life.

And I've just about had enough of some of the "Fundamentalista-blogs" out there, portraying life as though it were one big bubble blowing "we love Jesus, that's why everything's perfect" party. I've read through a couple tonight, and off the cuff...well, they are beginning to irk me. If I ever retract that statement, I shall blame my current state of nausea. I won't name names, though I could. I am half sorry I've recommended a couple of them in years past. I wasn't "onto" their game, then.

All those homemade dresses. And cooking. And knitting. And perfect children, both grown and not quite grown. And (here is the shame): no mention of even one struggle...I'm serious. Now that I have the luxury of looking over the body of work on these couple of blogs - I lie not - not a single struggle is mentioned beyond the death of elderly loved ones.

Meanwhile, here at The Cottage, you've heard me talk about how Waltonesque we are here - with three generations under one (small, middle income, not-hip-or-architecturally-interesting) roof. But how did I put it? "We are so Waltonesque, only Mama takes her half-an-Ambien at bedtime, and John Boy chews tobacco and can be mean sometimes."

We are trophies of grace - not a trophy family. And I am so daggum okay with that. Yes. I said daggum. Yes, I take a half an Ambien to get to sleep. If you had a crying grand baby in your house, if you had a less than perfect, sometimes noisy teenage son, and a husband who snored like a bulldog with a sinus issue, with no extra bedrooms to spare in your ordinary 60's tract home, you'd need a half an Ambien too. Deal with it.

We are in full time ministry. We home schooled each and every child from birth through high school graduation. (The youngest graduates this spring.) We never sewed our own dresses, we wore jeans. We did and we do bake bread, but only because we enjoy it. I knit because it keeps me sane.

We read CS Lewis, GK Chesterton, Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples, the Iliad and the Odyssey, and Semus Heaney's translation of Beowulf. We listen to classical music, worship music, and a bit of Eric Clapton. Everyone (but me) sings and plays a musical instrument, and plays it skillfully. I have enough material to pretend with. I have enough going on, I could only tell you the good parts, and conveniently leave out the struggle.

I could. But why would I?

Both daughters married well, saved themselves for marriage, and married strong Christian men. One of my daughters gave us our first grandson in December of last year. She and her husband and our grandson live with us, because my daughter's husband was in graduate school getting his Master's, interning at a local high school for free, and working part time when they found out she was pregnant.

To take a small bit of the pressure off of them, they chose to move in with us for a season. They are now at the point at which they are scouring the papers, looking for the perfect house on a teacher's meager salary. They'll move back out next year.

Our other daughter married an artist, and they spend all their time developing his art business, and helping out with various ministries in our church.

And our oldest son is no longer in the Marines. He is the tobacco chewer - a habit the whole family fervently prays he soon outgrows. And he will. I don't doubt that. He is back in town, attempting to get a fresh start. As a family, we are trying to help him do him just enough, but not too much.

Our youngest son is also a work-in-progress. He left home last year, and after a great deal of heartbreak and prayer, willingly came back home. He repented and asked for a fresh start, and we gave that to him. Do we know how it will all turn out? Not really.

All I know is that grace will accomplish what the law could never do. The law can't make anything righteous, but the bringing of a better hope most certainly HAS and most certainly WILL.

Does that all seem blue collar? So not-fundamentalist-homeschooler? So much less than perfect?

Thank you. Thank you, thank you for saying so. Somebody has to live this life honestly, and embrace it with true joy. Because the last thing I want you to find, when you visit me here, is the same old bubble blowing perfectly-faked-life crap.

Here's the point: I'm okay! I lived through the turmoil! I survived finding out that my family is less than perfect. Yet. Yet, there is so much beauty in my life these days, it often overwhelms me.

I am overflowing with joy. After wrestling through law and gospel issues, and actually applying the gospel to my private world (THUS "ordering it") I discovered that the good news is actually good news. And it brings health and beauty into lives. It mends people and hearts and relationships. I'm living proof.

Note: "beauty" and "perfection" have never been synonymous.

My "Granny Chic" Coffee Table

I awoke the other day to fresh, hot coffee, made just the way I love it...and a cleaned-up livingroom. (We had had company the night before. I knew when I went to bed that my livingroom was a mess...)

My Preacher. He walks his talk. He makes every day feel like my birthday.

Anyhoo - I grabbed my Nikon, and let said coffee-with-turbinado-sugar-and-caramel-macchiato-cream get cold, while I snapped these pictures of my "Granny Chic coffee table" for you...after all, I did promise!

We do allow grandson to play with the pristine-condition antique typewriter. Will it be imperfect by the time he loses interest in it? Probably. But do we care? Nah...

Fresh flowers. I sit them in the very center of the table. As of this writing, his little arms and fingertips just can't quite get to the flowers. (We scoot the typewriter over to the edge for him, when he is playing with it...)

In the very-very foreground, you see the red and blue parts of a vintage style wooden toy that Timothy loves. Then you see a wooden drawer from an antique Singer sewing machine - filled with LED candles and fall baubles. Though the candles cannot hurt him, that is the one thing we don't let him play with. Some days he "gets it"...other days, he doesn't want to understand it at all.

See how the table legs are wrapped with padded ticking fabric? And as of today, we have little corner "bumpers" on all four corners...they hadn't yet been purchased when I took these photos.

He loves his sock monkey-in-the-box, his wooden puzzles, and his Pooh bear blocks. And I think all of it looks so perfectly imperfect AS the decor in my livingroom. You can google it, and see tons of pictures of coffee table vignettes - you'll find decorating philosophy specific to coffee tables - but I promise, you won't find ANYTHING like this.

I have gotten so many compliments on this happy arrangement. Very grandbaby-friendly, very vintage inspired....very "me".

Have I told you that I have wholly embraced the whole "Granny Chic" thing?


I know. I have told you...a few times.

Knoxville Unites 11.11.11 and Angelic Ministries of Knoxville

Ever had an evening of your life that feels like something of destiny - but you can't quite put your finger on why?

I did, tonight.

My son-in-law, artist Jonathan Howe (married to my daughter Sarah)had this downtown art show on his schedule. Sarah and he got the idea, after reading my blog post about Angelic Ministries, to make his art show not just an art show, but also a fund raiser for this wonderful ministry. This decision was made, and cleared with the Art Show Powers That Be....oh, a little over a month ago.

In about six weeks, they came up with the name for the event - "Knoxville Unites 11.11.11"; they were able to meet with the leadership of Angelic Ministries, procure business sponsors from businesses in Harvest Church, plus television coverage (my friend Liz Overton rocks!), and radio spots. They sent out a mass mailing of invitations, secured a musician to play some live music, and put the word out on Facebook.

Huge amounts of food and drink were purchased and donated, and paintings (and paintings...and more paintings...) were hauled to the Emporium, in downtown Knoxville. Nametags were printed up for those of us helping out for the evening, and all that was left to do was to trust God for the results.

Jonathan, the "ar-teest" (the young guy in the middle), visiting with guests...

The paintings on display were a combination of breathtaking landscapes, and portraits of men and women. Beside each and every portrait was a story in that person's own words of their "faith journey" (read: their testimony of Jesus Christ).

Yeah. Art show turned fund raiser turned outreach for the Gospel. Totally my kind of evening. God multi-tasks so much better than I do.

The live music was incredible, if I do say so myself. (My son Josiah played acoustic guitar almost allllllll evening long...both solo, and with some duet acoustic help from a friend...)

My daughter Hannah was all dressed up, and professionally yet warmly greeted each one of the many guests that attended the art show.

Angelic Ministries had a table containing a display with very detailed print and visual information on their ministry.

Angelic Ministries needs both donations and volunteers. Right this moment, this comprehensive and important ministry needs about $130-150K to bring their warehouse-building up to code so they can keep doing what they do. They are 501C3, so your contributions are tax deductible.

Angelic's display, and behind it, you can see one of Jonathan's paintings...that painting of the little boy usually hangs in the foyer of our church.

My Preacher (on the right) who just got back from Cambodia last week and is still jet lagged - talking with Tony (left) - Tony is the leader of Angelic Ministries, working hard, six days a week, to train volunteers and to mend broken lives.

A big shout-out and thank you to my sister, Lynn Smith, and her friend Sabrina...they put hours and hours of work into the organizing and execution of this event. They rocked it. The food table was beautiful, the service was splendid, the organization was seamless.

I'm still not sure exactly what it was about tonight that whispered the words "Divine Appointment"
and "Destiny" in my spirit. I met lots of people. I reconnected with lots of people. I am sure God touched some hearts and lives in that place tonight...

Knoxville Unites. That was the name Sarah and Jonathan gave to this art event. They plan on doing it all again next year - uniting this community to get behind Angelic Ministries.

Maybe that is part of the destiny I am sensing...God is positioning His hand-picked ones, those who are serving, and will continue to serve, this city with integrity and love...

...for the Kingdom's sake.

Only He is Wonderful

(by the way, I have this necklace!)

"Open my eyes, Lord, to behold wonderful things out of thy law."

"...and His name shall be called WONDERFUL..."

Jesus Christ was the plan of God from before the foundation of the world. The law was/is meant to point us to HIM. What do you think are the "wonderful things" we need a supernatural opening of our eyes to even be able to see?

Our own ability to keep said law, in order to be blessed? I think not.

If that was the wonderful thing we were to discover, "all the blessings that are ours IF we keep God's law"....well, we will never be blessed, friend. On our best day, living our "best life now", we are under a curse if we look to the law in any way, shape, form or fashion for our right standing with God. Read the covenant in force today.

The only wonderful things there are to behold in the law: the character and nature of God, as fully manifested in the face of Jesus Christ. The law was a temporary measure, to be fulfilled in the fulness of time, and meant to be our schoolmaster to point us to Christ, and to the fact that we NEED His obedience (righteousness) to be credited to us by faith.

The law as the standard of righteousness? Yes.

The law as a means of righteousness? No.

He Alone is Wonderful.

Granny Chic - Interior Design

Did you know there is a style that is taking over the interior design and fashion worlds? I'm feeling quite validated, because this style is being dubbed "Granny Chic".

Basically, whether we're talking about an interior space or an outfit, Granny Chic is the age-old (pun intended) practice of mixing vintage (or vintage looking) with modern...but doing it right.

Here are a few of my favorite examples in interior design:

summer lounge eclectic living room
....yes, as you know, I am a big fan of LP' goal is to darn-near singlehandedly revive the art of LP record listening. This record player is a little too new for my tastes, but I like the LP collection. Love the vintage suitcase, too. Notice the plates on the walls. Mmmmm-hmmmm...that's called Granny You-Know-What. ("Chic")

Dreamy Whites eclectic bedroom
(by Dreamy Whites)

in this little Granny Chic (some would say "Shabby Chic", but I like Granny Chic better) space, I am loving the nature study calendar. Grannies are big on taking walks and studying nature with their grands...also love the vintage linens. Be still my Granny Heart.

Loft shots eclectic home office
I love this so, so much. I think it is my favorite example of "Granny Chic". Color is important in Granny Chic. Neutral backdrop, with pops of color. Ecclectic, not all one single style. Someday, when we're looking at my very own creative space, my wall will be full of the grandchildren's art. Just you wait and see.

Canadian Cottage traditional bedroom

Color is important in Granny Chic decor - how much is up to the Granny. In this case, color is supplied by the single stems of flowers, each in its own bud vase. Very Granny.

Charlotte Moss Kips Bay Master Suite traditional home office

This is one of my favorite examples of Granny Chic. I do imagine my someday-office to look a bit like this. My walls will be covered in the grandchildren's art, and Jonathan Howe originals...please note the fresh flowers. Always fresh flowers.

Living Room traditional living room

repurposed, restored, and slipcovered furniture is Granny Chic at its very best.

Somehow combine all the ingredients you've seen above, shake it and stir it and pop an olive in it, and you'll have the look I am going for...with one caveat: I'm hoping the only cluttered spaces will be our home office space, and my creative space. I would want all the public spaces of my home, and my bedroom, to be less cluttered. Everything with that neutral backdrop, pops of color, and an educated mix of vintage objects, antique furniture and modern fabric patterns.

And very grandchild friendly. Can't wait to show you my coffee is my very first purposefully Granny Chic mini-design-project, since Little Britches is now holding onto it and walking around it all the time. I've designed it with vintage-looking toys, fabric blocks, my antique typewriter (which he is always free to play with), a trio of those LCD flickering light candles (no danger of burns!), and a ticking fabric runner. I am loving it!

Granny Chic

I am feeling quite validated. Because there is a design trend taking over both the interior design and the fashion design world...that trend is being called "Granny Chic". Look it up. It is very real.

I fully embrace it. Amen.

Did you know that celebrities (not all of them, but some famous, and quite young ones) are having their hair dressers put gray streaks in their hair, if they don't have a cool gray streak of their own? Stacy London, of "What Not to Wear" fame - her gray streak is real.

I'm talking celebs putting fake gray streaks in their hair.

Granny Chic...

Been working on a post about Granny Chic in interior design - can't wait to share it with you!

It's a great day to be a Grandmother, friends. If you don't have a cutie-patootie grand yet....well, be jealous. Be very jealous. You can't rock the Granny Chic until you are a Grandmother.

"Granny" is no longer synonymous with "old". We sequel-mothers are rocking our homes and our outfits, and are living our lives with such intention and passion and success. We are abandoning status quo, and redefining the whole concept of grandmothering by unapologetically combining our modern youthful sense of beauty with our great-great grandmother's educated domesticity.

We're having fun doing it. Full-time, work-at-home grandmothers, or work-outside-the-home grandmothers, we are finding our hearts filled with a fresh love and tenacious commitment to the success of our littlest ones.

And we find ourselves the trend setters. Crazy-cool.

The Preacher in Cambodia - Pictures

my sweet Preacher (in the white shirt, of course) teaching for hours...

Praying for a Cambodian woman who needed healing...

Enjoying his time with his Preacher has the most cheerful, compassionate countenance.

Every single pastor in the province (except for one) came out to the training sessions...please pray for these men.

I love this picture, because you can see our Jonathan Trentham (the young man on the left), then life-long friend Jeff Kear in blue, and my Preacher all praying for these women...

Jonathan (our missionary to Cambodia) is home for good now! Please also pray for him as he transitions from two years in Cambodia, to life here in the States. He is well-beloved at Harvest Church, and God has wonderful plans and ideas for his life, we are sure.

It is so good to have all three men home.

Today is My Birthday

Grabbed the smartphone tonight, after cake and candles and the Birthday Song, and made sure to get a few pictures of my first birthday as a Grandmommy. This time last year, Little Britches was still "baking in the oven"...

I wonder if you can see the pure delight on my face.

Sorry for the blurry pictures. Thank you so much for the many well wishes via email and family spoils me rotten, and my friends are the best...the very best. I look forward to the next year - God's goodness to me is precious.

It has been a Grand Day.

My Grandson's Ten Month Pics...

I cannot believe my baby (grandson, actually) is ten months old now. ::sniff::

Cute, or what?