Small Is The New Big

"Small rooms or dwellings discipline the mind, large ones weaken it." Leonardo Da Vinci

"I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society...Many of our houses, both public and private, with their almost innumberable apartments, their huge halls, and their cellars for the storage of wines and other munitions of peace, appear to me extravagantly large for their inhabitants. They are so vast and magnificent that the latter seem to be only vermin which infest them." Henry David Thoreau

"May your home always be too small to hold your friends." Anonymous

"Rapine, avarice, expense, This is idolatry; and these we adore; Plain living and high thinking are no more." Wordsworth

The photo is mine...but all these quotes are taken from, astonishingly enough, this month's issue of House Beautiful. The July/August theme is "Living Large in Small Spaces".

Everyone is catching on.

The Coin Purse Makes a Comeback

When I was a little girl, I remember carrying a few little coin purses...I'd always lose them, but I distinctly recall a few. One was a thick, hollow, rubbery-plastic disc, yellow, with a slit in the middle - with a smiley face on it. If you squeezed it just right, the slit would open, and you could get to your coins inside.

I also remember other childhood coin purse designs, one was a leather fish, and its mouth was the clasp. I remember loving that one...I seem to remember that it was green.

Still another, my mother bought for me in a desperate attempt to keep me from continually losing my coin purses - it was a beaded little thing, with a long neck chain. I wore it around my neck for half of fourth grade. I kept that purse the longest before losing it.

But nothing tops this:

This yellow leather rose is a coin purse I bought awhile back. I hooked it onto the outside of my gunmetal colored purse.

I have lost count of the compliments from total strangers I have received on this little coin purse. Seriously. I have even had a couple of different women follow me, tracking me down, to get my attention so that they could ask, "Did that come with your purse? Where did you get it?"

Next time I don't feel like rocking the big gunmetal Michael Kors all day, I will be tucking my driver's license and debit card in my coin purse, and clipping it to the belt loop of my favorite jeans. How cute will that be? I'll be so fierce, I will wish I could stare at myself.

Methinks coin purses are making a comeback.

Methinks I won't be losing this one.

(Psssssst! Stay tuned....soon, I will be hosting a giveaway. A coin purse. Exactly like mine. Only pink. I went back out and grabbed the last one....just for a cherished reader...maybe you!)

A Man Ignited...

For over two years, now, this man has been preaching the Gospel, Sunday in and Sunday out. The Gospel is inherently about the grace of God, Christ alone, by Him, to Him, and through Him are all things, the plan of salvation that was in place before the world was created.

How can a man spend that much time, more than 104 Sundays running (plus many, many more before that - but truly, non stop for more than two years now) on essentially "one" topic?

Because the Gospel isn't topical. It is a life lived, a Person who is infinite yet knowable. Because every single day of your life is a chance to apply the Gospel to your life in a fresh way. Because His mercies are new every morning.

Since His mercies are! every morning, that means every day is an opportunity to go deeper in your understanding of Father and His plan from the foundation of the world, to grow in grace by the sacrifice of the Son, and be pointed to all things Christ by the daily, hourly, moment by moment breath of Holy Spirit.

You'll be the rest of your life making the theology of the gospel apply to your biography. It takes effort and clarity and burning love for God to allow grace to affect not just your destiny, but your day and your relationships.

So. You need a pastor-teacher ( husband has been "named" all these things) who is courageous enough to stick to The Message as God gave it, and not chase rabbits like "Purpose" or "Make Peace with your Finances" or "Your So-So Life Now" or "How To Grow a Church" or "Get Your Rear End Out There and Evangelize, Thou Sluggard" or "Spanking...To Do or Not To Do?"

Forget the conferences entitled, "Endless Training Unto Godliness". Here is a quote from this past Sunday's message:

"Jesus said in John 6: 35 that He is the bread of life. And trust are what you eat. If our plate is filled with one good thing, there will be no room for other questionable foods. Filling our spiritual plate with Christ alone will lead to a discovery that Jesus is sufficient for everything we need, and that through Him God has given us everything that pertains to life...and Godliness. Not life without Godliness. Not Godliness without life. Life AND Godliness are found in Christ...not in any Christian tool or character building effort we can expend."

104 messages plus, all on one theme, and he's just getting started. And the calibur of his preaching, its excellence and thorough exposition just keeps getting better.

He is - honestly - one of my heroes of the faith. A man who labors for the love of God and love of God's people, who labors in a small church, without regard to criticism or praise...and people are growing. They are ALL, at various rates and in various stages, becoming rooted and grounded, firmly planted and well established.

He's my preacher, and I'm his wife, and we are a package deal. We got each other's back, period. We are crazy about each other. We are each other's best friend and confidant. We began this thing called "ministry" arm in arm, and I suspect we'll see it through till Christ's return in the exact same way.

Tomato Stem Primordia, and Storm Damage

There used to be a large, lovely tree, where that bare, sawdust spot on the ground is...

Empty, empty...

My clothesline used to span the distance between trees in my back yard.

...and now it sits on the rail of the deck, as I contemplate a new home for it.

This pile of tree branches is larger than it looks in this picture.

This one is the size of a car...and we aren't done. My man spent all day yesterday, from early in the morning until dinner time, helping neighbors clear their fallen trees, as well as cutting down the tree in our back yard. Thank heaven for sons-in-love (and daughters) who helped.

Then, almost overnight, this gross looking growth came up on one of my tomato plants. It is stem primordia - a result of storm damage. The plant was blown around so much that a main stem was damaged. This, coupled with the over-watering from the storms and the high humidity, all those little growths you see are the plant trying to re-root, through the stem.

It looks daunting, but it is harmless. I will have to keep an eye on this plant, but with a little care (and some drying out, after the series of storms and heavy rains) it should be okay.

Stem primordia is a common problem, but when people first encounter it, they tend to freak out a little bit, thinking some awful pest has descended on their garden. I posted a picture of it as a public service...believe it or not, there aren't very many clear pictures of this on the World Wide Web. If this looks like your tomato plant, put your mind at ease, and give it a little less water.

After all the pictures of ugly-in-my-yard, I have to end with a few pictures of pretty-in-my-yard:

Front porch...

A sign points your way to The Cottage (its given name is Ceilidh Cottage), where you are welcome anytime...

Today's flowers...

bird house near the butterfly bush, in the butterfly garden...

Broken chimnea, turned into a planter...

flowers, flowers, and more flowers....

A crepe myrtle that managed to not be damaged...

robin's egg blue birdhouse, made by my oldest son when he was a boy...

The pond, and its waterfall...

The Riches of Summer

Just clipped from my garden, and shot on full manual mode - so please be kind to any over or under exposure...or blur...or lack of bokeh...I meant to stop down to a very low point, and forgot.

The Storm of Summer 2011

...that title reminds me of what is known in these parts as "The Blizzard of '93". My youngest son was born in the middle of the Great Blizzard of 1993, and yes, it is a dramatic story.

But I'll save it for another day.

Today, it is official with our city's power company that yesterday's storm caused the most power outages in the company's history...ever...including the ice storm when I was 16 years old, the Great Blizzard of '93, and various and sundry other natural inconveniences we've experienced in East Tennessee in the last fifty years.

Tim and I are feeling sobered and humbled. Because we know how we felt last night, as we drove through a city that was in near-blackout. There were patches of power here and there, but we drove mile after mile of total darkness, nary a streetlight or store sign lit. It was creepy.

We went to check on the church building (it is fine) and had to choose a third route to get there, because choice numbers one and two were impassable. Very large trees had been uprooted all over the city, and were blocking the roads.

We took note of how eerie it felt, and thought again/again of Joplin...Alabama...the flooded areas along the Mississippi river...Arizona fires...Japan...

We knew our storm, though it was violent and scary for a few brief moments, was a picnic and a camping lark, comparatively.

So we decided to treat it that way.

When the power went out, it was just Tim and I. Wouldn't you know it, just as we were starting to get ideas, TEN people ended up here.

Not. Even. Kidding.

Within an hour of a very violent storm followed by a neighborhood black out, my house was blazing with candlelight, nine adults and an infant were making themselves at home, and a man from Korea was playing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" with fluid beauty on our piano.

You only think I am kidding. I am not.

Then, board games were played by candlelight until well past midnight.

It got warmish, what with no air conditioning, but otherwise, once I got past the scare of the wind taking out three trees (two small, one large) on my street alone, one of them in my back yard...once I got past that, I adjusted quite nicely, and even found a way to read until the wee hours:

This is not a photo re-enactment. This was taken via cell phone camera, last night, well into hour four or five of our no-electricity-camping-in-the-house-post-storm-party.

An Evening With Friends

"Saturday night in Toledo Ohio..." (you'd have to know the man playing guitar...hilarious.)

Enjoying the after-dinner music...

A moment of worship...

Our dear and life long friend Neil, playing guitar. Tomorrow morning, he preaches his first sermon as the "official" senior pastor of our parent church, Trinity Chapel. Clem is to his right. Clem, a known and respected prophet in several church networks, is going to be our guest speaker in the morning at Harvest Church. If you aren't there, I promise you will wish you had been there.

One of the blessings of hospitality - make the guests sing for their supper. (My husband Tim - in the green shirt - is often asked to play and sing, when we are someone else's guests...he is happy to do it.)

Ending with a little James Taylor...

Rich relationships.

The conversation was incredibly wealthy.

As the sun was setting, our stomachs were full, our spirits were nourished as well.

A few snippets of the conversation:

Clem: "I have wiped the words "personal prophecy" from my vocabulary. God still speaks specific things to people, but no one fulfills their personal destiny apart from the corporate. It is all about the Kingdom, all about the church. There is no personal destiny all by yourself. Every prophecy, in that sense, is a corporate prophecy, because you will never see it truly fulfilled apart from the body of Christ in the local church where God wants you to be."

Neil: "Saturday night in Toledo Ohio..."

Tim: "I have been completely absorbed lately in expositing specific chapters in the book of Acts. New Covenant realities were so fresh and stunning, and the opposition was so fierce. Nothing has changed, in that sense, from then till now. "

Clem: "The church in every nation is experiencing restructure, in some cases deconstruction. The cross must be the vortex, the Gospel must be everything. Not programs, not spiritual gifts, not personal ambition. You will be deceived if apostolic grace is not your foundation. The church must relearn how to function in the middle of great crisis..."

Neil (singing): " like being nowhere at all..."

The Flavors of Summer - Bruschetta

Get you some vine ripened tomatoes...

Fresh tomatoes, three cloves garlic, a few tablespoons olive oil, some coarse salt, and some basil...and a baguette, to put it all on, later.

dice your tomatoes, mince your garlic, pour a few tablespoons of olive oil over it, sprinkle with your coarse salt, chiffinade your basil and toss that in...

mix well.

Slice your baguette, brush each slice generously with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic salt, and broil it until barely golden and crispy. Put the tomato mixture in little individual bowls, like salsa.

Top each. and. every. bite. of bread with the heavenly concoction in your own little personal bowl.

If you are me....make a meal out of it.

end of story

Oh For a Thousand Tongues To Sing!

O, for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise!
The glories of my God and King
The triumphs of His grace !
My gracious Master and my God
Assist me to proclaim
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name!

Jesus, the name that charms our fears
That bids our sorrows cease‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears
‘Tis life and health and peace!

He breaks the power of cancelled sinHe sets the prisoners free
His blood can make the foulest clean
His blood availed for me!

He speaks and listening to His voice
New life the dead receive
The mournful broken hearts rejoice
The humble poor believe!

Girls' Day Out

(left to right: Christina, me, and Lisa...picture taken this morning!)

I don't remember exactly what was being said when this picture was taken, but I can promise was funny. Harvest women make me laugh so, so much.

If estrogen is your thing...if decadent French toast is your thing...or virgin Mimosas...or rich quiche or various fruits or girl talk or lots of laughter or cute babies or scratching the creative itch...if ANY of that is your thing, then Harvest is your church and we are your women.

I drove home today, feeling very poignant. I reflected on the whole morning (well into the afternoon) spent with lotsa girlfriends, of all ages - my own mother included. It had been so long, between grandson being born, our son's basketball, our other Marine son and his various weekend leaves home....between all that, and sickness, and other family celebrations, it felt like a mighty long time since I'd hung out with all the girls.

As I made my way home, I reflected on the fact - the pure fact - that most women don't have what I have. Many women long for a group of girlfriends with whom they can let their hair down, be real, laugh or cry till it hurts, or just sit and smile and knit.

(I tend to be a I am the "smile and knit" type...with the occasional very loud laugh.)

Some women only experience this sort of female support system on television or in the movies - they think it can't exist in real life.

I'm the first to tell you that my gender can be mean, petty, petulant, competitive, dramatic, and bitter. But a safe community of women exists, I know because I am part of one. These women are W.E.L.L. (Women Equipped to Love and Lead) and their WELLness will bless and comfort and deeply impact your life and your day.

My home-girls. I love them. They are SO worth all the stickin' and the stayin' and the buildin' and the plantin'.

Star Gazing

He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. (Psalm 147:4)

I'm star gazing tonight...a decades-old, but recently neglected hobby of mine . I located several constellations and planets, as I sat on my back deck - some are my old favorites, others were much more obscure to me. Google Sky rocks.

Absolutely breathtaking beauty, seen in my own backyard. The same stars that any country person, or palace or mansion dweller might see...the same stars are all mine, too. I don't need the rural address or the large income to be smitten by Canis Minor, Polaris, the moon, Saturn, and Orion's belt...and that is just a few of the sparkley sights I've seen tonight. I know all about light pollution, ambient light in the city, blah blah blah.

All I can tell you is...I'm seeing stars.

Beautiful stars. From my back yard. Proverbs says wisdom is "before" him (or her) who has understanding. Meaning: it is accessible...always right in front of you, IF you are wise. I promise you, the stars are mysterious and miraculous when gazed upon, no matter where you live.

You don't have to move to the country, own an expensive telescope, or view stars from a fancy "verandah".

You can enjoy them laying on a blanket, on the grass, in your back yard, wherever you are. Ask me how I know.

The wisdom of God is on display....right before your

Care to join me?

Try Google Sky Map, if you have a smart phone.

Or, type in your zip code here.

And now, even as I type, Tim and I are propped up on pillows in our room, watching IMAX Hubble on our television. So....I really like you....but....I'll see you later.

I'm just sayin'.

A Wordless Thursday (Almost)

Sweet, sweet, sweet. A precious benediction to a busy day spent out and about, a long meeting with a young friend, antique shopping (not buying...just shopping), and babysitting the grandson.

...And I'm officially a crackhead when it comes to the FX camera app on my phone. Addicted to it. Didn't pay a thing to get it. Free app. Life is good.

Underlined Bits -Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick

(I get so many lovely comments about the above image. It is a necklace you can buy ~and oh, how I want one! ~ from Lisa Leonard Designs...)

Some underlined bits (more underlined bits) from the incredible book "Give Them Grace", but first a tiny bit of setting the stage for you...

These bits are about where the Holy Spirit through Paul said, "Bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord..."

"Of the Lord", meaning: the nurture and admonition of Jesus Christ. Paul couldn't have meant anything or anyone else. And trust me, it was a radical statement! Now, for the underlined bits:

"The Jews knew what the discipline and instruction of the rabbis looked like. The Greeks understood the dicipline and instruction of the philosophers. But the discipline and instruction of the Lord? Of JESUS? What was that?

To help you get a better handle on what this "of the Lord" parenting entails, let's imagine for a moment that Paul had penned this phrase instead: Parents, "bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the law." How would those three words, "Of the law" change the focus and method of your parenting?

...Or would they?"

"He was telling them to tether every aspect of their parenting to the gospel message.

Because the Bible is not primarily a manual on childrearing, but a proclamation of the good news..."

"Distinctly Christian parenting must be accomplished in the environment of the good news about Jesus Christ, or it is not Christian parenting. It may work for a while, it may make your life manageable, and God may use it, but it is not "of the Lord"..."

Recipe for Chicken Leg Quarters - Inexpensive, Can Feed a Crowd

Whenever I post about inexpensive (but delicious) recipes, I always get great response. The women in my church, all of them great cooks, are searching for ways to economize, and I promised them as many e-mails and blog posts as I could do on the subject.

Chicken leg quarters are the most inexpensive protein you can buy, other than probably eggs. My project this week was to create a recipe that utilized them, and actually tastes good...

...mission accomplished.

Here are your ingredients:

chicken leg quarters (it was only Tim and I for dinner tonight, that is why you see just three pieces...)

red potatoes

six ounces cream cheese

(I ended up with plenty left over)

fresh rosemary

fresh chives (all the herbs came from my garden - further savings)

Italian dressing

coarse salt

fresh cracked pepper

red pepper flakes (feel free to omit this, if you don't want the kick in the pants. We like our pants kicked.)

chop your herbs...

combine herbs, salt (a couple pinches), pepper (about 60 "grinds" with the grinder), cream cheese, and a teaspoon red pepper flakes

separate the skin from the meat, creating a little "pouch"...then gross out from handling a dead bird...note that your hands look exactly like your mother's...try not to think about how gooey this job is...

stuff the pouch with cream cheese mixture, use your fingers (gah) to moosh and spread it around...

brush Italian dressing (about 2 TB) on the skin, then salt generously with coarse salt...

toss your quartered potatoes with 3 TB Italian dressing, salt, pepper, and any chopped herbs you have left...

...toss the chicken on top...bake at 400 degrees for at least an hour and 20 minutes, maybe an hour and a half, or until...

...a thermometer reads 180, when inserted in the thigh...

plate these birdies and taters up and eat!

The leg quarters were .59 cents a pound, the potatoes were $2.50 for a 3 lb. bag.

A very, very inexpensive, but truly good meal. Tim gave it two thumbs up.