The Best Kind of Day...

Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it

~ Margaret Thatcher

How did ya'll spend your "extra day" today?  I finalized some trip details, perused an antique store, played with my grandson, caught up on some much needed research, filled out forms related to my youngest son and his education, did a rather in depth teaching (via Facebook letter/private message) on the baptism in the Holy Spirit - answering the questions of a young college student, cooked a simple dinner, did about ten pages of editing a friend of a friend's new book...

...and made art.   Oh, that...the art... so filled my tank.  It was the art-making that was the homage to my very own extra day of The Good Life.  I had thought about getting a pedicure, but our weather turned very nasty, and I didn't want to risk being out in it.  So I came home from the antique store, and sat down with guache and watercolors and all manner of mixed media, to work on an altered book that I am creating for a special someone.

I'm not the only high achiever.  My daughter Hannah crocheted an entire owl.  (Pictures, hopefully tomorrow...)

And I have ended my Extra Day by watching an absolutely rockin', slammin', breathtaking, ridiculously powerful DVD teaching by Louie Giglio, followed by writing this blog post.

During the DVD teaching, I shouted (and raised my hands in pure wonder and praise).  Ask The Preacher, he was with me.  Heck, ask my daughter and son-in-law, they were in the other end of the house.

Our God is a good God.  And my Extra Day has been grace-saturated. 

Pray for Our Injured Soldiers

Some of you, especially Harvest members, might remember our "extra Marine" we ended up with, for the Easter holiday last April.   He's the young man on the right in the above picture.  He was such a delightful guest, and we shared the Gospel with him, with all our heart.  He was part of our family for one long weekend of leave.  We took that seriously, and enfolded him into our hearts and lives for the short time he was here.

He is alive, but he was injured a little over a week ago, by an explosive - he was in deployment, I won't say where.  When I saw his picture on Facebook, sitting in his hospital bed, he was smiling that same big smile, and doing his "thumbs up".  Just like what you see up there.  That made me teary-eyed.

I'm thinking of him tonight, and I'm thinking of another Army soldier injured a few days ago.  I got the email and request for prayer for this young soldier with a wife and babies - a "GI Joe" whose name and location I've been asked not to reveal.

Please pray for these two soldiers.  God knows exactly who they are.  Please pray for all our injured soldiers.   

(For Real) It's A....

(celebratory brownies)

Please allow me the privilege of introducing you to....

Little Miss Princess "Aidyn Esther Howe".  When the ultrasound tech announced her precious gender, pure bedlam ensued.  Hannah squealed and I think I shouted.  (Jonathan quietly smiled, of course.  We aren't sure what Sarah did, we weren't paying her any mind.  She may have passed out.)  We have Miss Aidyn's ultrasound on high definition video, and I hope Tim can help me post it.   Just so you can hear the "sounds of joyful shouting and salvation".  You probably do have to hear it to believe it.  Thing is - it wasn't planned.  It was entirely spontaneous and could not be helped.

The ultrasound tech "shushed" us.

And I ain't been shushed since I was a five year old.

...we all gathered at The Crack to celebrate.  (Cracker Barrel) Our oldest son Josiah had to work his job at TGIFridays, and Hannah's husband Justin was teaching school.  But the rest of us had Crack.   Here, you can see our youngest son, daughter Hannah and grandson Timothy, Poppy (checking his i-phone for messages),daughter Sarah and husband Jonathan on the left side of the table...

Momma and Daddy...

Poppy and Timothy...

As for me, I've already been shopping tonight.  I bought babygirl her first denim, and her first book, and her first tiara (to decorate her nursery - not to wear or play with).  The tiara was the really important purchase.

Our Princess is having a Little Princess. 

And she shall reign, I dare say.  The Little Princess, that is.

Our Next Grandbaby Is A....

...we don't know yet.

We find out Monday.

Please don't kill me.  I had to pull the ol' bait and switch on you.  Had to.  Sorry.  I promise to spill the beans, come Monday.  I'm in such suspense I can't stand it.  Another boy would be so fun.  But...I need some pink in my life. Sugar, spice, and everything nice.  I'm drawn to girl stuff like a bee to a flower.

I've missed you!

Just got home a mere few hours ago.  I've been in the Franklin/Brentwood Tennessee area with The Preacher and our son.  Youngest Boy had his regional basketball tournament, and in one particular game, he shot a buzzer-beater for three to send it into double overtime.

I laid down on the bleachers, kicking and screaming like in the movie Kicking and Screaming.  You think I am joking, but I am not.  The drama was too much.  We went on to lose the only game we lost (don't think...just go with it.  I am exhausted.  Let me babble.  Just.  Let.  Me.) and we only lost it by one lousy point.  We won all the other games.

The Preacher and I made it some Time to Remember by attending Youngest Son's Games (of course) and by dinner, just us two.  (Hot dogs in a gym were good enough for us when we were 18, they were good enough for our son.  But not us. We gave him $5 and left his butt with his buddies.  We ate steak.)  We explored downtown Franklin, met a new friend in the music industry (a lead guy in the country band Bad Horse!) caught a movie and took lots of power naps in our motel room, between speeding back and forth to the (very, very nice) A-Plex sports center in Brentwood.

In a few weeks, are National Tournaments.  One whole week, in Springfield Missouri.

May God have mercy on my soul.

Until then, I am back, and I've missed you, and please leave a comment!  ::sniff::  I think this is the first time I've had to go a week without posting, and I need to know you are all still near and dear.

Have a blessed and highly favored Sunday.  You and me?  We live in the F.O.G., baby.  The Favor of God.

It is thick all around and over me, these days.  Amazing things are happening in my life, in the lives of my children.  Things I'll tell you all about when the particulars get nailed down.

Thinking Spring Fashion

Love this dress. As is. I would wear this each and every week, from April through September. I think God wants me to have this dress.  ::smile::

This skirt is cute on the model, but for my forty-plus years, it needs to be longer, and hit just above the kneecap.  Otherwise, I intend to copy this look down to the details.

See the before and after?  Before:  blah.  After adding the necklace and large bag and sandals (flats for me, please) this outfit is taken from nondescript to gorgeous.  I would definitely pair the distressed denim, cuffed shorts with  the navy blazer.  It's bold and different, without being strange.  Love that.

Stripes are a big deal this spring.  The right size (width) of stripe, even horizontal, can actually be slimming, if your shirt is body-skimming and not too tight.  I could have worn this outfit today, what with all the rain we got.  I need really, really want a trench coat like this.  My rainboots are pink.  And take note:  this outfit would not be what it is without the red flower on the coat.

I love the detail on the back of this sweater.  I plan on finding an inexpensive boatneck T-shirt at Target, and adding a small bow.  You'll see me wearing it this spring and summer with a straw cowboy hat and simple denim skirt.

What sort of spring fashions are catching your eye?

Good Times With the Youngest

It has been busy here at the cottage lately.  Youngest Son and I left the house before 8 this morning, and I didn't get back home until 5 PM.  We went on college tours. 

I did not wear this hat.  I.  Did.  Not.

Youngest Son insisted that 1.  I try this hat on, and 2. model it outrageously, and 3. that he snap this picture with my phone.  We were killing time at a Tar-ghay local to the area ("Target", pronounced in my best French accent...).  He insisted that the hat looked amazing on me.  I sent this picture to The Preacher and asked him what he thought.  His response?

"I like your cowboy hat picture better." 

Whatev, preacher man.  Actually, I'm glad, because in real life, I could never pull off wearing a hat like this.

Friday, we are invited to tour a small college and attend their basketball game.   Fun times.   Bear with me, if posting gets a little sporadic.  I have a scholarship recommendation to write for a young friend - she's going for a big scholarship, the Alexander Graham Bell.  I am so proud of her, and happy to be writing the lengthy recommendation, but the deciding board is highly discriminating and my essay has to be written "just so".

I may have also taken on another editing job, we'll see.  Silly me.  I need something else to a two hundred fifty-plus page book, for a friend of my friend Neil Silverberg.

And we have Regional Tournament in Nashville next week (basketball) followed by  National Tournament coming up  in March, followed by a pastor's conference in Atlanta, followed by Youngest Son's high school graduation ceremony in May.

But there's much I am itching to share with you...glorious thoughts on the Gospel and how grace is the only impetus towards true transformation.  I wouldn't tell you that if I hadn't experienced it for myself.  I've been made free from some real stuff - fear of man not the least of the list.

A Blog Recommendation

I've said it before.  I'll say it again.  There are blogs I've followed in the past, and I've "unfollowed" them, for various reasons - mainly, when a blog strains at being profound, or becomes doctrinally shrill.  That bores me.

And when I quit following - I quit, baby.  As in....I've never, ever, not once been back.  Too many good, positive, inspiring, funny, thought provoking and informative blogs out there to keep reading someone whose perspective on life is uninteresting or ...strange.

I don't recommend many blogs.  Seriously, I think I've recommended less than ten in the years I've been a blogger.   I don't think that is a reason to brag - I think that needs to change.  I need to make more time to share with you some of the beautiful blogs I have stumbled across in my stolen moments of "lolly blogging"....which is an activity akin to lollygagging...which, now that I think about it, has a nauseous connotation to it.  Makes me think of choking on a Dum-dum.  Where do those old sayings come from?

Without further ado, please do visit my friend Wendy.  She's begun a brand new blog:

My friend Wendy had her fourth baby at age forty, and made it look good, honey.  That alone deserves a medal.  I am a mere forty-five, and chasing my grandson around on a part-time basis wears me out some days.  She has also been on a gluten-free eating adventure for several years now.  And she's the real deal.  She loves baking and cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, and if you are one of the manymanymany with gluten issues, her blog will bless get in early on this one.  You'll make yourself proud, someday, to say, "I knew her when she just started that dang blog...and now look.  She's got her own cooking show."

That Wendy.  She might go all "Pioneer Woman" on us, and become rich and famous.  But it won't be because she moo'ved to the country to kill her own cows and live the not-so-simple life, and tried to make it seem so hippy-happy.  (No offense, Pioneer Woman.  I'm sure you'd be the first to say that lifestyle isn't for everyone...)  Wendy's blog will be beloved because of her mad skillz at the kitchen counter, her sweet spirit, and her love for God's Crowning Creation (drumroll please):

PEOPLE.  As in, human beings.  Sorry, if you thought I was going to say "Nubian goats" or "chickens", and you got all excited.  No, not poultry.  Not pastures.  Not mountains.  Not "nature". People.  People are God's favorite, and they are where Wendy likes to invest.

You'd do well to go getchoo summadat.  I'd do well to get myself summoradat. When it comes to loving God's Crowning Creation, I think Wendy outdoes me, and I love to have it so.  Click on the link, right up there under the picture of her blog header, and it'll take you to a new blog to love.

Prayer App, and Prayer Journal for Selah Thoughts

 This is the app I use.  It makes a pleasant sound, three times a day, and it reminds me to pray for those I have personally placed on the list for that day.  This app is for Android users, and I love it.  I recommend it.  It is called "Prayer Pop" - and if you enjoy praying set time prayers, you'll love this app, if you have a smart phone.

And now...since you asked is a humble picture of a page of my art journal...the one I use when I read Scripture and certain books, and beautiful ideas seek to come out and play on the pages, and want to be made more beautiful. It is a very relaxing practice - the way I personally approach the whole "lectio divina" thing - sacred reading.  (Post-edit - I don't call it "lectio divina".  Some in the liturgical church do.  I just call it...readin' my Bible.  I don't even call it "devotions".  The act comes too naturally, and is too integrated into who I am.)  Combining reading with "art" (if you can call it that) slows me down, and makes me glad to focus and meditate...and make a bit of "art" as I read along and "Selah" (which means to "pause and deeply consider").


"Grace is the recovery of that which is oldest, and most original - the heart of God as expressed through Jesus Christ.  He was the plan of God from before the foundation of the world."
~Sheila Atchley

I wrote this in my art journal last night...using colored inks and scroll-y borders.  No photos yet...I'm keeping it private for now, as I attempt to master dabble in both art journaling and mixed media art.  I use inks, guache paints, watercolor paints, collage, pastels, and charcoal pencil.  But the art journal I use for reading and recording thoughts is mostly .01 and .05 micron colored ink pens.

Somehow, using color and Scripture inspiration, the words and phrases come to me easily...I guess because my brain is working on both the beautiful ideas, and making the beautiful ideas more beautiful.

I love it.

Quotable Quotes

"A new beginning!  We must learn to live each day, each hour, yes, each minute as a New Beginning, as a unique opportunity to make everything new.  Imagine that we could live each moment as a moment pregnant with new life.  Imagine that we could live each day as a day full of promises.  Imagine that we could walk through the year always listening to a voice saying to us, "I have a gift for you and can't wait for you to see it!"


~Henri J.M. Nouwen

Old Covenant "Shadows"

The Old Testament (Covenant) is a book of illustration.  The New Testament (Covenant) is a book of explanation.

Please, let the New explain the Old.  Please, please, please.  I will shamelessly beg you, if that will convince you.  Please let the Cross be superimposed over your understanding of Old Covenant. 

Please let "Moses and Elijah" disappear from sight, and see the Lord Alone...Jesus, in all His glory.

Never, ever read the Old Covenant through any other lens or perspective but the Finished Work of Christ, unless you just love having a veil over your head.  In the Old Covenant  (which those who were His loved it, indeed.  It was all they had.  Profound, huh?) they looked forward TO the coming Christ.

From our vantage point, we look back THROUGH the Finished Work of Christ.  Any other perspective - whether that be law for the sake of law, or keeping the law in an effort to be blessed and mistaking that for Biblical faith - any other perspective will at the very least make you a poor Bible scholar, and will at worst make you a Pharisee.

Please, fear God in your approach to His Word.  Fear Him enough to turn loose of your Old Covenant perspective, no matter how secure or holy or mystical or special or important or spiritual it has made you "feel".  He has spoken in these last days through The Son.  In no one else is the Father "well pleased".  Put yourself  IN Him, by grace through faith, not through your own efforts to be well pleasing.  This is revelation, and I pray that you can finally hear it.

But you sort of have to humble yourself and want to hear it.  Or at least I had to.  Maybe you are the exception to every precedent.  That still is no nevermind to me, so long as you hear and you see and you put your whole trust in He who once walked the streets, two thousand years ago, breaking rules left and right, but fulfilling the law down to the last jot and tittle.  Oh, the cleverness and surpassing wisdom of God!

Strive to be a good student.  Rightly divide the Word of truth.  Rightly.  Divide.  It.  One is illustration, the other, explanation.

That Was SO 46 Seconds Ago!

46 seconds ago, there was Another Super Bowl Victory for a Manning.  I'd rather a Manning get another trophy than a Tom Brady any day.  No offense to my Patriot-Fan friends, but...


I'm feeling smug. 

You Are the One That We Praise! You Are the One We Adore!

Lyrics to Wonderful, Merciful Savior:

Wonderful, merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer and friend
Who would have thought that a lamb could
Rescue the souls of men
Oh, You rescue the souls of men

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way
Oh, we hopelessly lost the way

You are the one that we praise!
You are the one we adore!
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for

Almighty, infinite Father
Faithfully loving Your own
Here in our weakness
You find us
Falling before Your throne
Oh, we're falling before Your throne

You are the one that we praise!
You are the one we adore!
 You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for

Photoshop Class - Homework

...results of this week's Photoshop Class...a little rough around the edges (literally) but this is the first draft, and it took me only about a half an hour to do it.  Now, to master the technique could take more time...I need to work on constraining my proportions, I need to play with the white balance in one of the above photos, and I want to add a layer of dreamy "wash" over the whole thing.  I'll share results, as I work on this some more over the weekend. ("Please, Lord, let me find the time!") .

And now for the very best part. Are you ready? This particular class I am taking is a "paid" class - very reasonable charge, I must add.  But the instructor is offering a free basic Photoshop class in March! The class is being offered for either CS or Elements users - whichever program you have or wish to purchase (if you don't already have Photoshop). If you do not own a version of Photoshop, the software itself you do have to purchase - mine was a generous gift from The Preacher awhile back - but once you have it, the basic class on how to utilize Photoshop that I am telling you about right now is FREE!

Trust me when I tell you...I've played with Photoshop all by myself, trying to wrap my head around such a powerful program.  I've bought a book, "Photoshop For Dummies."

Not even kidding.

But nothing...nothing...has helped me make sense of this program like the lady I am about to introduce you to.  You will be emailing me, after your ten sessions of class (FREE), thanking me so much for making this introduction for you.  I am happy to be of help.  ::smile::  I am truly committed to sharing the best of the best with you, when I find it.  And oh.  I.  have.  found.  it. 

So, please click on the link below, and go "meet" the incredibly talented and very sweet Kim Klassen!  (We've never met, but we've emailed.  And she answers her email in an admirably timely fashion.)  


PS.  I am one of those mystics who believes that names have meaning and can be very prophetic.  Note Kim's last name:  Klassen.  As in "Class" with a "K".  You truly will find her to be a gifted online teacher, who painstakingly puts together quality classes.

Mine and The Preacher's Strategy

The Preacher and I have a strategic plan for reaching people for Christ. It isn't bullet-pointed, or Power-Pointed, nor is it a pointed finger at everyone else, wondering how many churches do they plan on planting.

Our strategy really is...doing stuff.

Lots of stuff. Every day. Doing stuff with people, for people, about people, with loving people at the top of our agenda.

We are fanatical enough to believe God meant what He said when He said that if I say I love God, and  don't do stuff with people, for people, about people, with loving people being the driving force....well,   He says we don't actually love Him as much as we say we do.  If we don't love our brother who we can see, maybe we simply aren't that fond of God - or at least we aren't fond of properly portraying said love.

So yeah.  No detailed plan.  Just do stuff...with and for people...letting the love of God touch them in life-changing ways.