I have a ritual that makes me happy, in a deep down durable way. I don't need to wake up to transcendent views, or look over my daytimer as I get dressed for my high powered job, or pad about in jammies through my McMansion. All those things are fine, but they wouldn't make my heart sing. They don't even raise one of my eyebrows - no piquing of even a little bit of interest or wonder in my mind. Just give me a cup of coffee, and this...

Me and my grandson, just this morning. (Sorry for the flash, but it is a rainy day here...no natural light to speak of.)

I am one of those grandmommies with the rare privilege of living with her grandson. My daughter and her husband, after being married a year, moved back in with us, so that Justin could complete his internship and Master's degree without having to work a third job. They will be here until he starts teaching Advanced Math full time in the fall.

It's all very joyful, very homey, very "Walton-esque", to be honest with you. You know - all the generations together, under one roof. The way things were when times were simpler and more difficult in some ways, but better in all ways that matter. The days of our grandparents, that greatest generation. Tim and I are almost embarrassed to convey how delightful it is, to play board games in the evening (when we aren't rushing out to youngest son's basketball game), how sweet it is to feed our grandson his bottle once in awhile during the day, and to say goodnight to five dear and near souls every night - each other, our youngest son, our daughter and her husband, and Little Britches.

Every morning, my ritual includes cuddling my teacup poodle, Rambo. Tim usually brings me my coffee about that time. Then, when I hear my grandson stirring, I go and just look at him in his crib. Marveling.

Only this morning, I scooped him up and snapped our picture.

What can I say? It rocks to be me. Four children who know God, two sons-in-love who are Godly and gifted, and now an adorable grandson....who lives with me for now. God has been mindful of me, and has blessed and increased me. My job is to enjoy it.

~Linking to "The Sunday Creative", at the delightful blog of MadelineBea.

Gabbi Grace's First Sunday-And Our Baby Total is Now SIX!

Remember my friend Megan Cummins, who was expecting her first child, a girl they named Gabbi Grace?

Here is our Gabbi, in all her glory, on her very first Sunday at church~

One eye open, while daddy feeds her her bottle...

The proud pappa and his Gabbi Grace!

Oh, and by the way. The whole "fruit of the womb is a reward" thing? As a church, we were expecting four...then five, when Meredith discovered she is pregnant for the first time. And now? SIX. Sweet Lisa and BJ are expecting their first.

SIX babies. In one mini-mega church. Wonder what God thinks about us?

Reaching the Nations Without The Plane Ticket

I'd like to introduce you to our new Chinese friend, Jimmy. I believe he is weeks, if not days, from being radically saved. He came to Harvest Church for the first time today, and we went to the restaurant where he works (Ichiban) after church. Jimmy came to our table and talked at length with Tim and I, and our friends Scott and Cyndy.

Here's where it gets absolutely exciting. Jimmy came to church this morning because a Chinese friend of his, Eric, came to Christ at my church two weeks ago. Our dear friend Jeff Kear led Eric to Christ, after he and his wife Maria spent months of going to Ichiban to eat, had many conversations, and several conversational English speaking sessions with Eric and his wife in their own home.

So Eric brought Jimmy to church today. Later, at the restaurant, Jimmy told us (and this is the condensed version), "I came to church, I look for life, I feel life. I look for love, I feel love. So much love. I think to myself, 'There is only one more thing - laughter. I want laughter' and next come laughter. When singing start, I feel God, my heart beat faster. I will come back. I am very close to contacting Jesus Christ. I will bring my wife and daughters to Harvest, but first my wife is flying back home for ceremony. She is Hindu, and when I married her 8 years ago, her father did not have the Hindu ceremony that releases her to my responsibility. He now agree to have ceremony, my wife is flying home in a short time for ceremony. I not feel right bringing her to Harvest to hear Christians until her father release her to me. Then I bring her."

Yeah. I looked at Tim, he looked at me. We could read each other's minds: "It is Harvest Time, baby."

His Hindu wife, soon to be coming to our church. I had to be careful not to allow my very effusive (and very Western culture) personality reveal my complete delight at the idea of this whole family coming to Christ Jesus. I just calmly nodded my head and said, "Many Christians also believe that the father needs to release his daughter into the care of her husband, too. We often include that as part of the wedding ceremony."

He seemed to find that very interesting.

I couldn't help but smile when he said he came to church looking for laughter. Jimmy has a sharp wit - he is hilariously Chinese. How brilliant, that he looked for three distinct experiences: life, love, and laughter. He called it, "three L's." He said he wondered if he'd find laughter, and then, "It happened. Lots of laughing."

I felt better, because I had cut up quite a bit when I made the announcements that morning.


I can't help it. But this time....God used my shtick as an evangelism tool. I feel so vindicated!

The food at Ichiban was....wow. Amazing. Art on a plate. Look at the sushi~
After Jimmy offered us three different desserts, all on the house, I have felt no need to eat the rest of the day.

I'm so proud of my friends Jeff and Maria. So thrilled about the way they love to include the whole body of Christ in their evangelism and relationship building efforts.

Oh. One last thing Jimmy said. He said, "Many yellows are searching for God. Many, many."

(He calls Asians "yellows".) Again, Tim and I glanced at each other, caught off guard, sort of startled...

...like how you'd feel if you were out fishing, and five big mouth bass jumped in your boat before you could even put your hook in the water.

Our Missionary To Cambodia is Returning to Cambodia...

Our missionary to Cambodia, Jonathan Trentham, lovingly known as "Jono", came home on furlough in late January...

We surprised him with a "Welcome Home" gathering at the church...

Look closely...can you see the love and respect on those faces? This young man is greatly esteemed, and much loved by all in Harvest Church...

And by one Timothy Paul. (This was shot the next morning, at my house...) We all believe that Timothy will go on a "big trip" with his tall uncle-buddy Jono one day.

And now...his time here stateside is over. As soon as it began, it seems, it is over. My heart is actually a bit heavy as I turn into my bed this evening. Tomorrow is the last Sunday I will get to see Jono for the next 6 months.

Ah. My heart. I love this kid. (No, he isn't a kid, but he is such a sweet "boy" to me!) Actually, Jono came home a grown man. You could see it.

Jono, I will dwell on this happy picture, until you come back home, my friend. Godspeed.

Netbook Cover

I am missing my beloved, who is in Atlanta. (Oh, and to any bad guys out there, I am not home alone. I am home with my daughter, my son-in-love who happens to pack heat and is an excellent shot, and my adorable grandson...)

To stave off the melancholy, I've been sewing my little heart out this morning.

After pricing covers for my netbook, I concluded they are all ugly, and overpriced. I mean, who wants a hot pink "neoprene" bit of hideousness to house their prized netbook? Not this would-be designer. And I don't want the black leather zipper case for it for every day. I only need that when I am traveling via plane...not very often.

The beauty of a netbook is its delightful and utter portability. Coming in at a very slim and small , oh about 7 inches by about 10 inches, the exact dimensions of an i-pad, if not a bit smaller, I can easily slide it into my purse. Thus, the need for a soft cover.

The least expensive thing I found was a cover for an i-pad. Ugly. $9.99. I knew I could do better, so I went to the fabric store and purchased some nice charcoal gray felt. For about $2 worth of felt,and some scrap ribbon and trim I already had, I came up with this:

and here she is, at home on my bedside dresser:

I Am Knitting a Snood

A pink one.

"What's a snood", you ask? Here is the wikipedia definition:

A snood is historically a type of European female headgear, or in modern times a tubular neck scarf.

No longer is a "snood" a sort of hammock for the hair. Today, it is, in fact, a tubular neck scarf. Here are a few pictures of snoods I love:

Last, but not least...

I don't know this puppy, but I'm thinkin' that my teacup poodle Rambo would look great in a University of Tennessee orange snood.

A Master of the Needle Arts-Lisa Borgnes Giramonti

Allow me to introduce to you the unique and beautiful, timeless yet modern work of Lisa Borgnes Giramonti. This lovely lady is artist- mother to her grade school son, a wife to a husband who travels overseas a great deal...sometimes Lisa and her husband are able to bring their adorable son to amazing places like England or Morocco. Lisa is a Master of the needle arts, as you can see in the tapestry below...

Crafted by the inspiring Lisa Borgnes-Giramonti, who I discovered via her blog "A Bloomsbury Life". She has done intricate needlework on subjects such as silicone boobies and botox. Her work has been featured in prominent art shows all over the United States - I am not sure about overseas, though I would not at all be surprised. She has the effect on me that all good artists should have on those who view their work: she makes me want to sit down with some burlap and thread, and start stitching.

Good artists make their work feel accessible, even when no mere human could actually do it.

French Bottle Drying Rack - and Hannah's Finally Finished Project

The UPS man (I heart him) brought me my French bottle drying rack today. My son-in-love Jonathan wasn't sure what it was...

Silly man. I had to show him...

Isn't this thing gorgeous? For those of you who don't know (new visitors, which I love getting!) my daughter Hannah and her husband Justin moved in with us last May, so that Justin could finish his internship and Master's degree without having to take a third job. Then, surprise! Hannah became pregnant, much to everyone's utter delight. My precious grandson was born December 14th, and came home with mommy and daddy to my house.

It became evident that we needed a gorgeous zinc bottle rack. Ahem. I get to see this, every morning when I wake up and shuffle into the kitchen for my coffee...

(Please excuse the knob-less cabinets. I still haven't picked out which knobs I want...)

I love this rack, next to the farmhouse style sink with its unique faucet, and those dish cloths I made. Beautiful. That is my opinion, feel free to make it yours. It is supposed to be much taller, but Jonathan managed to get it into two pieces for me, and you will love what I've done with the top half...

This just makes me so ridiculously happy. Right now it is on my bedside dresser. It will go into my office someday (after Justin, Hannah, and baby get their own house) and will be filled with spools of colorful thread and ribbon.

On another note, Hannah began crocheting a large baby blanket, as soon as she discovered she was pregnant. But she worked full time, right up until the time she had the baby, so she didn't have a lot of time to work on the blanket.

Now that she's been on maternity leave, she has been lovingly stitching during naptimes and while the whole family watches 24 on TV. She finally finished it yesterday, and it is gorgeous...

See the picture of my cute grandbay-bay on the wall above?

Every bit of it single-crocheted. A labor of love.

Book Review

A couple of weeks ago, I was gifted with the new-release book "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.

I am already on my second reading.

After reading it the first time, I treated myself to the digital ebook, so my hardcover can sit on my nightstand, and I can still have the book on my digital reader when I'm on the road.

It is that good. Ann is a grace girl. Ann's writing is more akin to poetry, heavy with metaphor, brimming with emotion. No light reading here, her premise is a challenging one...."All's Grace". Everything. Everything is a gift, even the heartbreaking events in life. A few snippets, or, as I call them, "underlined bits" :

"...life change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change."

"Life is not an emergency. Life is brief and it is fleeting but it is not an emergency. Emergencies are sudden, unexpected events - but is anything under the sun unexpected to God? Stay calm. Enter the moment. Give thanks."

I find myself nodding in agreement. Life is not an emergency. But it can feel urgent. Then, I read this:

"Life is so urgent it necessitates living slow. In Christ, urgent means slow. In Christ, the most urgent necessitates a slow and steady reverence."

"Life at its fullest is this sensitive, detonating sphere, and it can be carried only in the hands of the unhurried and reverential."

Beautiful book, beautiful cover, beautifully written by a beautiful woman. This book is one of the very few keepers - one which I know I'll dip into over and over again for decades to come. I vacillate between feeling such gratitude to the woman who gave me the book, and gratitude to the woman who wrote the book.

Read "One Thousand Gifts". Then, start your own list of "one thousand gifts", as I did over a year ago. (The seed of the book I hold in my hand this evening actually began as a blog entry on Ann's blog, "A Holy Experience". I took up her challenge to chronicle one thousand gifts long before her book was published a couple of months ago.)

You can find this gem at Amazon.com and your Christian bookstore.

Baby Jeremiah is Here!

Baby Jeremiah Bailey came unexpectedly today. Let me say first that he is fine. Mom will be allright, too.

Here is what happened....momma fell.

I know, right? Just reading those words probably makes your heart skip a beat, even if you don't know the Baileys.

Kelly was almost 9 months pregnant, and was planning an all natural, midwife-assisted delivery at our local birthing center. She had a perfect pregnancy, looked beautiful all the time, stayed remarkably fit and healthy. As the Braxton-Hicks contractions were setting in, as she would have pre labor every now and then, she was progressing beautifully, and was 3+ centimeters dialated all on her own. We all have been waiting, knowing that she'd go into "THE" labor at any moment. Harvest Church prayed over her today that Jeremiah would come quickly.

Then, after church, she had a bad fall at the grocery store. She went to the hospital to be checked out. The baby's vital signs were okay, but Kelly had fallen hard enough, badly enough, that the doctors did not want to risk anything, and they began preparing her for a C-section immediately.

Though we are all disappointed that this wasn't the birth experience Kelly was hoping for, we are all deeply rejoicing that our wee little weeping prophet is here.

And now, without further ado, I present to you Mr. Jeremiah Bailey:

There he is, softly crying in his grandmommy's arms. He has the sweetest, most poignant cry. Poor little man, he has had a very hard day.

Here is the proud pappa, Matt Bailey, our church's youth pastor, moments after delivery...

I think he is still wrapping his mind around the fact that the wait is over, and Jeremiah is, in fact, here!

Thank you, Lord, for a healthy Bailey baby!

More Random Acts of Beauty

I want this blog to give back to you. I want to give to you my very best, via this blog. I don't always hit that target, and I feel it whenever I miss it. Whenever I toss up a post just to get one up, whenever I don't invest, I feel it. I don't like that feeling, because I prefer knowing I invested. I prefer knowing that I have sown. I want my blog to be a blessing to you.

That takes more work than most people realize, more work than most people are willing to put into something they don't get paid to do. I don't care that I do this for free, because I enjoy excellence, I like doing my very best for you. I want this blog to be a source of encouragement, inspiration, a laugh, maybe just a smile, and a source of good - no, great - information. I am constantly on the lookout, on your behalf, for "the best of the best" of what is available online. By the time something makes it to my blog, it is the cream that has risen to the top.

In keeping with all the above, I have a couple of things to share with you. I absolutely love the website Houzz. If you have never visited yet, go now. (Go ahead...I'll wait for you...)

You'll spend a very long time looking through some really inspiring designs, if you are anything like me.

I've just discovered another "love" - a brand new site. I think it is open to the general public now. I had to have an invitation when I joined, I'm not sure if that has changed, but it isn't hard to get one. It is called Pinterest. On Pinterest, you can create your own virtual inspiration boards, much like you might have created various idea books in Houzz. (I have about six idea books going in Houzz at the moment...) I have long been looking for one place I could tuck away all the beautiful images I come across that are worth saving. Pinterest does it! It is entirely too much fun - check it out, I think you will enjoy it immensely.

Lastly, please allow me to leave you with a few of what I always call "Random Acts of Beauty"...these random acts are just me, tossing bits of beauty into the blogosphere. Just me, sowing beauty, loving beauty, sharing beauty.

Savor. Enjoy.

I think this is quite simply the perfectly imperfect hairstyle. So wabi sabi. (Google it.) It would work for any age. Timeless. Imperfect. Perfect. Lovely. Feminine.

Wood counters are big...going into some very high end expensive kitchens. You cannot match the warmth of wood...the unpretentious beauty.

The perfect little home office nook. That framed tapestry? Sa-woon.

More of those cool pillows I've been telling you about...in orange and blue, no less!

This diningroom marries orange and blue so beautifully...

This picture stole my heart! I have no idea who this baby is, but she is adorable. Almost as cute as my grandson. Make no mistake, however. I might as well come out and say that I'm gunning for some pink of my own. Either my daughter Sarah or my daughter Hannah is going to have to produce. Ahem.

THIS, mi amiga, is a leather cover for a MAC BOOK! A laptop cover that looks like a book! What a fun gift for a Mac user. Love!!!

Blue and orange, in architecture...the orange tone of the bricks, the gorgeous blue doors...

Orange, blue, neutrals, symmetry ...the only thing I'd change is that I would do just one unexpected something in this room, but even as it is, I love this...the design is so clean and bright.

We Are So Proud of Justin!

We don't have sons-in-law here in this house. We have sons-in-love. Our son-in-love Justin McConnell took his test for his teacher certification shortly after baby Tim was born. He was a sleep deprived pappa. He is also doing his internship at Bearden high school. He is also months away from earning his Master's degree. He also picks up hours when he can at a second job.

So, it is no small thing that he scored in the top 15% of everyone who has ever taken the test. Not just the top 15% out of those who took the test this year, but of all who have ever taken the test, in the whole, long history of the test.

What? You don't believe me? The cake alone doesn't prove it? Okay, for all the cynical, jaded skeptics out there ~

(Just kidding...I know everyone believes me. I simply adore milking something for all it is worth, and this occasion is worth a lot!)

Okay, okay. So I could have taken a picture of someone else's award letter. Here is the proof-to-beat-all-provings:

See the name? "Justin McConnell".

Can I tell you? Yes, he worked very hard. Yes, he studied. But he will be the first to tell you....it was the grace of God. Justin has a revelation of grace that lets him live life at an unfair advantage. Justin believes that God is pleased with Christ, and Justin trusts in Christ alone for his sufficiency in all things, and so Justin gets divine favor over all his endeavors.

And yet, though his considerable intellect and sturdy work ethic is a gift from God, we all still get to say, "Justin we are so proud of YOU!"

I told you that grace men and grace women out-perform the legalist-performers!

God's grace works that way. Amazing!

Little Tim's First Playdate

Poppy's namesake, our grandson Timothy, went on his first playdate last week...

As you can see, he was very excited at the prospect of playing with his buddy Ethan William, born on the same day as he!

It was a cold, wintery day...his mommy got him all bundled up. I couldn't resist taking a picture of such a momentous occasion, and then sharing it with you!

When they got back, Little Britches told his Mimi all about it.

He had big fun.

Already Planning a Return Trip to Charleston, SC!

The houses...oh, the houses. And their front doors...

The gardens....oh, the gardens...

(window boxes, even at Christmastime!)

Ooooooh, the restaurants!

Oh, the inspiring artist's and crafter's shops...not the least of which was this yarn shop - a feast for my color-deprived, winterized soul...

Charleston, we will be back to see you again...soon.