Ramblings on Grace {in-the-moment musings of a Mother and Grandmother}

(May I introduce you to the latest addition to my nest?  My grand daughter Susanna Joy - my daughter Sarah and her artist-husband Jonathan Howe had their second daughter two weeks ago!
And, if you can stand your cute-ometer pegging all the WAY, deep in the red zone, you can click here)

Can I just tell you?  God is so good, I can't even stand it.  Right now, today, as it looks from behind my eyes, I have two sons who are building their testimonies - I have two daughters who are building their lives.  We homeschooled all our grown kids from birth to graduation, we are in full time ministry - yet two of our children have not, up to this point, walked with God.

In the home education community, that just might make us big fat failures.  It at least makes us slightly unfit failures.  We certainly aren't skinny achievers of the Homeschool Dream.  In grade-speak, if you split the difference, we come away with a C- or a D+.

Our sons never were "Opie Taylor in Mayberry".  They were more like Buckwheat or Butch, from Little Rascals, with a pack of cigarettes in their shirt sleeve, a can of skoal in their back pocket, a blunt hidden away somewhere else....an attitude and a mean streak.

Oh dear.

And I'm glad.  In a way.  Please hear me out.

I say it with fear and trembling.  I.  Am.  Glad.  I tremble, because the reality of what I am telling you has  broken my heart.  It has broken the very heart of my heart.  You know...that place where idols tend to be hidden away.  "Return to your rest, oh my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you!"  and "Before I was afflicted, I went astray..."

I can be glad in the Gospel.  I can be glad because, last time I checked, the Prodigal Son was called the Prodigal SON, not the Prodigal Monster, or the Prodigal Embarrassment, or the Prodigal Foster Child.  And a son is a son is a son.  A daughter is a daughter is a daughter.  I will not hang my head in shame, because Christ is the friend of sinners, and gave His life to bring children into glory.  Like Peter of New Covenant fame, I will not call unclean that which God calls clean.   God said He is married to the backslider.  Doesn't that just mess with you? 

Be glad.  Like me.

The Lord has set me up high, way up high - and given me the panoramic view of Grace, and I can see my sons returning by faith when they are yet a long way off.  Maybe even a really long way off.  Regardless, my heart is free to run towards them, not away.     

Will they be miserable until they surrender wholeheartedly?  Here's the thing:  not at first.  But eventually - the misery will become palpable.

It was palpable for me.  It is palpable for me.  I still find unsurrendered pieces of my heart now and then - and a lack of peace is the barometer.  Anxiety, and being consumed with my own pain is the barometer - and I am glad of it.  I can know when and exactly where I have unsurrendered inner territory.

Oh, I am glad, I am glad, I am glad!  He has made me glad, and filled my heart with joy.  I declare it yet again/again/again, before the outcome can be seen, that grace will accomplish what the law could never do.  Oh, my boast is so in the Lord on this one!

I completely trust in the power of the blood to save.  And sanctify.

Ya'll, I am a jacked up Jesus Freak.  I read the curses of the law one time, as listed in Exodus....that long, long list of scary stuff.  I got so happy in God, I could have shouted and chased traffic, for the sheer joy of the revelation of grace.  None of it can touch me.  On my worst day,  none of it can touch me.  In fact, I receive the opposite blessing.

Here is why:  He (Christ) became sin for me.  His obedience and righteousness are credited to me, and the curse of the law is broken over my life.  It is broken, because I do not in any measure depend on my own obedience to the law.  Cursed is everyone....oh, hear me!...everyone who does not fully obey the law and everything contained in it. (Deut. 27:26)

If you depend, even in the smallest way, on keeping the law in order to be blessed, I have bad news:  you haven't kept the law in the past, and you won't keep it next week.  The only way to get out from under the curse is to be in Christ Jesus.  Crucified with Him, buried with Him in baptism, raised with Him as a new creature.

I'm glad.  I'm simply glad.  God is so good, I can't even stand it.  And I don't need perfect children or a certain timing or a certain outcome to know, down to the marrow of my bones, that I am blessed and highly favored.      

Thank You for Grace {...I am sick...so I pulled this from the archives...}

{Trying to rest and get better.  So.  A little long, but hopefully worth your time, this is a dip into the archives - it was one of the posts from my 31 Days Project}  

Your middle is as ordained a season in your life as your beginning was, and as ordained as the day of your end.  God births your beginnings, and He sets the time of your completions.  But He sings over your middle!

"The Lord thy God in your middle is mighty;  He will save, He will rejoice over you with joy;  He will rest in His love, He will joy over you with singing!"  (Zephaniah 3:17)

How can He do that?  How can He sing over our middle?  Has He looked at your middle lately?  Has He noticed mine?  (It's a hot, hot mess...)

Here's how:  He is confident in His great love for you.  He rests in it.

It reminds me of my teacup poodle Rambo.  Bear with me, I promise this will make sense, maybe.

I've heard some incredible Bible teachers and preachers in my short time on this planet. I've heard them use majestic metaphor and substantive simile. I love the depth that has been illustrated for me, time and again, by solid thinkers in The Faith - some are well-known, some, like my own husband, little-known.

Try as I may, my mind won't work majestically. I sigh and I try, and therein lies the problem.

When I tune into my life as it really is, in all its quotidian acedia (oh, do look the words up - they are delicious to say, but bitter to live) the revelation of grace can come honestly. Like the revelations to be found in puppies and cookies.

It is no secret that I adore my puppy. He is a teacup poodle named Rambo, and he is aptly named.

In fact, my puppy sometimes acts appallingly, and I still smile. I delight in this little dog no matter what.

A few years ago, I examined this anomaly. You see, I was known, back then,  to be ever-working to improve myself, and therefore took unbridled delight in almost nothing. But I took disturbing delight in my poodle...everyone found it disturbing, because his misbehavior had almost no affect on me whatsoever.

I decided this was because I had no fear for this animal's future. God bless all those who believe that puppies have eternal souls: I do not. Therefore, no amount of spoiling on my part will send Rambo's soul to the Lake of Fire. This dog is "eternally secure".

In a sense, his future is fully known to me: he will live in the lap of luxury and love, and one day die. That will be that (and yes, I will grieve terribly). Nothing in terms of Rambo's ultimate eternal destiny is up in the air. He can't misbehave his way into Canine Judgement. He can't bite hard enough to hurt a toddler.

I am utterly free to delight in my dog.

When I stop to consider these majestic metaphors, I realize: the Lord delights in me! He knows the plans He has for me. He has forever settled my ultimate destiny. (Yes, only because I have trusted Him for my righteousness!)

No amount of "misbehavior" on my part can shake Him from His great love for me, in Christ Jesus. Far from being antinomianism, (and unlike Rambo) this kind of good news actually makes me want to heel - to follow close by my Owner's side forever.

Poodles and antinomianism and eternal security aside (after all, a mind can only take so much splendor) I also sometimes wonder why baking cookies for grown-up kids isn't so much fun anymore.

Used to be, a batch of cookies was a day-maker. Making a couple of sheets of home made chocolate chip cookies had the potential to bring inner healing to four children who, on some days, were fraught with naughtiness and discord.

Ah, but now they are All Grown Up. They are adults, all of them, with jobs and net spendable income. Two of them are married, with babies of their own.  They can buy these treats for themselves, anytime they want. They can work for them.  Cookies from mom don't mean what they used to.  Now, they are just a nice gesture.

As it is with the free Gift of Grace. It is precisely when we think we have matured our way "past" it, that the gift begins to lose its luster. The fun is taken right out of living in it. The truth that used to make our day and heal our hurts, now is something we can earn for ourselves. And we "get blessed" for our efforts.

Well.  Whatever we can earn for ourselves must be pretty common and obtainable. Thus, when God offers grace to us, His grace is reduced (in our minds) to merely The Nice Gesture.

A Nice Gesture is entirely unable to change us. 

Hear me - hear me well! Don't rob God (and yourself) of the delight and fragrance that should characterize piping hot, fresh-from-the-heart-of-God, sweet grace. You will never be able to work for it, you cannot obtain it on your own, all ideas of any righteousness of your own are a dangerous illusion.

This is where the metaphor breaks down, as it isn't a dangerous illusion at all for my children to buy their own cookies. See why I sigh? My metaphors aren't majestic enough.

Oh well. It is what it is. Puppies and cookies and grace.

"LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me..."     ~Psalm 131:1

3 Keys To Creating a Crazy-Good Day {...they aren't what you might expect...}

Three Keys To Creating A Fun, Crazy-Good Day

I've been studying God-kissed days for many years. You know...those golden days, when you end up satisfied to the core. I'm convinced there are three very simple keys - each one unlocks a large room, full of more grace yet to be explored.

1. Do something for someone, and in no way tell anyone. No hints, no alluding, nothing. Ever. Never, ever. This builds a largeness of soul that nothing can imitate. You can't fake this sort of lifestyle. The more you drop hints about what you do with someone or for someone else, the more I know you are unaccustomed to doing such things.

I realize we live in the age of social media - and I totally understand that seeing women like Ann Voskamp go to a poor South American country and share Christ with the children there is so inspiring.  I'm glad she shares her stories, past and future,  and her pictures...

...so I am not speaking to those of us who have been given a platform of whatever size, and are indeed called to live out loud and share a little bit about what we are up to.

But there needs to be a hundred deeds done in secret, for every one deed that is shared with the hope of inspiring someone else.  By all means, share.  I'm not against it.  To be a well-rounded woman, though, be sure that 95% of the best parts of your life are yours to savor and yours alone - and that most of it never finds the light of day in social media.  I post to social media every single day - I am a small business owner - and a small creative business owner, at that!  I would be terribly unwise not to share what I am about in that way.  Every.  Single.  Day.  (side note:  you young women who want to start your own creative business...where are you?  Heads up!  You have to talk about your business in a way that is authentic and inspiring!)

So yeah.  For a creative business owner, it isn't ego, it is business.

But I give you my word...what you see in my social media outlets?  That little snap-shot of my day or my work?  It took two minutes...I do it as I go along.  There are hundreds of thousands of my minutes and moments no one knows a thing about.

I like it that way.

2. Do something you do not like doing. Seems counter-intuitive, but I promise, this is huge in creating a fun, crazy-good day. Science even proves it!  See, you get this awesome shot of dopamine to the brain - a feel-good chemical - dopamine is released every single time you tackle something you don't want to do, and you do it anyway.  This one action will give you such confidence, and relieve a great deal of petty stress.

Now for number three.  The last key.  You are expecting something at least a little profound...after all, this is the last of only three keys. You want me to tell you "create something every day"...or "pray"...or anything but what I am about to say:

3.  Dress the part.

Every day.  Or...at least most days.

Come on, look cute! What you wear is about the only thing in life you have any control over, so work it, girlfriend!

That's it. Dress well and appropriately, and with personality. There is an art to dressing after age forty. The simpler the look, the fresher and better and more well-put-together you appear - and the more wonderful you look the more wonderful you feel. I do get asked for tips...so here are a few:

No mom jeans, wear more skirts, mix "high" and "low", tailored and bohemian.  For the most part, dress your age, but add one "young" twist...like an awesome boot.   Lose the black as much as possible, unless you are French.  Add one unexpected element - a fabric flower pin, or unusual belt buckle, or a cute shoe.  And always, always remember that matching is for amateurs.

And for the best tips ever on dressing yourself on a Goodwill budget, join the FREE class "Becoming | The Unfolding of You", and see Shannan Martin's videos in week 2.  

Three keys. Go have the best day, ever!

Tending The Fires {...random thoughts, on the eve of our trip to SC to see our son graduate from Marine boot camp...}

I can remember when my love for Tim had that breathless, almost heartsick quality. 

(And this is not a lead-in to a guilt trip about spiritual "first love for God", I promise!  Seriously, almost everyone thinks that's where I am going, when I touch on this subject, just because I'm a preacher's wife.) 

I'm thinking purely of old fashioned romance...boy meets girl....you know.

Certain moments with him would overwhelm my heart, because it was all so very, very good! Tears would inevitably spring to my eyes, unbidden; sometimes I'd hide them, other times I would let them slightly spill. Sweetness. Being with him was sweet.

No one pretends that marriage should, or even could, maintain that heightened mountaintop experience, day in and day out, for twenty...thirty...fifty years. I recently read, and hoo boy, is it true, that romance is the ideal, marriage the real.

Our marriage has been really, really real. You won't weather twins, then two more, church planting, bivocational ministry, then full time ministry, financial lack, home schooling,  a home renovation, betrayal, grandchildren, prodigal sons, and lots of 12 hour workdays (for both of us) and not end up with a marriage as real as nicely worn oak floors. 

I love my old wood floors. They are nicked and scuffed, and as hospitable and low maintenance as their owners....go on, drop your keys, wear your shoes, put a dent in this wood..see if we so much as blink an eye.

That's also a great description of a healthy marriage. By now, we don't sweat the small stuff, and baby...it's all small stuff.

Then, there are those moments that catch us by surprise. Those moments that teach us that being married means so much more than just "not being divorced". Like an old song, familiar and well loved, like a bonfire that burns, then ebbs, then burns again, like a fine wine...need I go on? Our eyes meet, and though it sounds sappy, the sparks fly...

....then our middle-aged lives, with their middle-aged stress, and middle aged time constraints, middle aged perspectives, middle-aged spread, and middle-aged responsibilities.....middle age itself melts away, in the moment, and I am breathless and teary-eyed once again. 

It happens, now and then. 

And simple songs, serindipitously played on a kitchen radio are a vastly underrated aphrodisiac.

Hey have you ever tried,
Really reaching out for the other side?
I may be climbing on rainbows
But, baby here goes.

Dreams they're for those who sleep,
Life is for us to keep,
And if youre wond'ring
What this song is leading to

I want to make it with you.
I really think that we can make it girl....

A Life of Inevitable Artfulness {...finding my sweet spot...}

So here I am.  I need to share a cup of coffee with you, and just savor this.  I mean it.

Just.  Savor.

The practice of naming my years, has actually made me a practitioner of bliss.  I am finally living the sort of ordinary, every day-ish life that makes me understand the words of one of my favorite artists - this is the artist to whom I would apprentice myself, if I could:

“The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.” 
― Robert Henri

Friends, art is any little thing you do, when you put something of yourself into it, and you do it with great love.  Get yourself into this wonderful state.  Discover the art of soup making, the art of taking a walk, the art of the Sunday Drive.  

It is a holy state of mind.

I'm Good With Urban-Suburbia

Now...don't get me wrong.  My Preacher and I have been doing our version of "urban homesteading" for many years now. We plant gardens.  We've planted berry bushes - they didn't make it.  We tried again.  (One made it.  We will plant more this spring...)

We have an apple tree.  Well, it is our neighbor's apple tree, but trust me...it's ours. We have peach trees (plural).  Well, they belong to the neighbor across the street, but trust me...they're ours.  Same with a cherry tree.  This is the beauty of urban living at its best, see.  You get to know your neighbors and actually love them.  You end up sharing apple trees and hydrangea blossoms.  We have a tiny fish pond.  We burn outdoor fires in our firepit almost twelve months of the year.  The amount of square footage of our porches and decks equal (if not surpass) the square footage inside our house.  We are lovers of the outdoors, here at the cottage.

We expand the garden a little each year.  This past summer, our raised beds gave us enough green beans and tomatoes to last us through winter.  We even drive a truck.  We have friends with beautiful suburban acreage (a couple after my own heart!  They are far more involved with people than vegetables or animals, though they do have lots of dogs) they grow an incredible garden, right in the middle of a subdivision...and they have very, very green thumbs.  We can grow stuff there, if we had to, if we needed even more planting space - and then swim in their pool.  They live minutes away.

But we don't need to plant another garden bed at our friends' house yet.  I want to experiment further with our own urban gardening - the kind that weaves the vegetables in with the flowers in with the landscaping...whole books written about this, and there's big possibilities here yet to be explored. 

We were considering building a story-book cute, tiny coop and run for three laying hens...just for fun and grandkids.  But then we remembered that God often calls us to travel and minister to people.  I love chickens, but in my world, people win every time.  (People are God's favorite, too.)  Still...if we can find responsible chicken sitters...we may....we could...our pastor friend Bo from Virginia has some way cool breeds and has offered us chicks and his decades of expertise for free.  We could even get a milking goat.  Same reason.  Fun and grandchildren.  Same way...free from a friend.

We might.  We might not.  

One thing is for sure.  As you can tell, we are good...really good...with urban living.  Things are good in this declining, urban 'hood, what with a grandson next door and two grand daughters a mile's walking distance away. See, as much as we think livestock and acreage are fun ideas, we value time.  Time for people. 

My good friend Wendy and I were talking a couple years back about the whole yuppie farming/simple living movement that has been going on for YEARS.  (In other words, this is nothing new.  This post isn't a reaction to anyone who just so happens to have suddenly taken up farming in the last five years...apocolyptic end-timers, politically-charged off-the-gridders, and home schoolers have migrated to the countryside and taken up farming for decades now.  I know a bunch of 'em.)

She said something I thought was so wise.  She said, "There's many ways to live simply.  I don't want to get up and have to tend chickens every day.  It is simpler for me to go to Food City and get free range eggs for three bucks."  Like me, she has pretty much rejected the idea that you must live in the country to be earthy, wise, or even to eat "from farm to table".  

Here at the cottage, my Preacher and I already live beautifully and simply, we eat healthily, and we enjoy not smelling the poop.  We enjoy time for grandkids.  We enjoy being able to leave at the drop of a hat - brazen, romantic empty nesters that we are.

God bless Mary Jane Butters...but I don't want to live like her.  She's beautiful and wears cute hats, and I can take and adapt some of her ideas, making them work for me right where I live...

...but I am content to live in what's known as a neighborhood, and I tend to think a modicum of close-neighborly dealings is necessary and healthy for our emotional and spiritual balance, even when the dealings are a bit uncomfortable.  The teenage boys who used to live on this street challenged our patience and even our Christian faith.  We've had to take strong stands instead of move to the country.  Our neighborhood is densely populated with real people, some drug addicted, some Godly, some who keep up appearances, some who don't keep anything up, but all keep me well rounded and grounded.

It's a very simple and satisfying life, mine.  My lettuces will get planted in a couple of months, and I can make a killer chicken soup from the thighs of free ranged chickens bought cheap.  Not a big deal.

I don't need views or solitude or chickens to feel creative.  I don't need to kill my own cows to have meat.  I don't have time to raise and sell livestock - and I am supremely grateful for those who do that for a living.  But my priority is to build up lives - to invest into God's favorite thing - human beings.

I see the same sunrise and sunset, the same cloud formations, and constellations as anyone on any farm.  Don't need the busy-ness of poultry or pastures to be busy doing what, in my opinion, is most important in the Kingdom of God.

I'm glad for those Real Farmers (like the Voskamps over at Holy Experience) who integrate their country life with a life of missions and faithful attendance to local church.  I know so many of you who rock that kind of lifestyle, and you don't use your acreage and animals as an excuse for escaping the joy and heartache of consistently, year in and year out, dealing with both the delightful and the very difficult people.  But for this Preacher's Wife, more than three chickens, and I might look like an older version of that picture up there.  Gah. 

Besides.  I sort of like putting on yoga pants, a cute T-shirt, and colorful Nikes when I decide to take a walk.  No dungarees and boots, thanks.

A {free} Project Video...{...why of course it's free - it's crap...}

Recently, after being invited to be one of the teachers in Jeanne Oliver's new online course, "Becoming | The Unfolding of You", I made my first real project video...for that class.

Now, I've made one art video. But it was just a time lapse video, set to music. I didn't have to talk or teach or do anything but do my thing. At the time, even that was well out of my comfort zone!

That little video has gotten so much love...I've had several emails from people who say they watched it and cried. Then, they asked me to make more. And I sort of never did.

Because y'all...videos are hard work.

I spent an inordinate amount of time on both the videos I created for Jeanne's online class. Mainly, it took so much time because I have been too lazy to surf the learning curve before she asked me to participate in "Becoming". I simply did not/do not understand the work flow involved - and there is a definite process. There are steps. And then, once you master the basic steps, there are beautiful things like intro's and tags and music you can add.

Today, I decided that it was way past time for me to master the workflow and surf the curve - the goal being to be able to create quality art project videos, and know exactly what I am doing, every step of the way.

But, just like podcasting, I first have to be willing to do some things badly. Lucky you.

Wait for it....wait for it....waaaaaaaaait for it.....okay, here it is:

...I guess I am asking you to hang in there with me.  Better days are coming, friends.  Better days are coming....

Bifocal Reader Love {...problem meets solution...}

I swear, the day I turned 40, I could no longer read the print in my books. And if you know me at all, you know reading is an addiction   ...a passion of mine.

So I bought the requisite readers...no, I did not purchase people to read for me, how could you think such a thing?  Rather, I bought those reading glasses you find in the drugstore...super-cute ones, the kind that perch on the tip of your nose.

But I kept losing them. And losing them. And I found I didn't like the look of having to tilt my face "just so" to see through or over them, depending on whether I was reading or speaking. I can't walk and chew gum simultaneously...

...so this was a problem. All of this was a problem.

It was then that I discovered bifocal readers. Saints, I am telling you, my life was revolutionized.

See, I don't need "glasses-glasses". I don't need prescription glasses (I know - I got the eye exam...and I continue to have my eyes checked) but I needneedneed readers.

But I couldn't choose between losing my readers, or putting them on a chain around my neck like a granny. Even though I am a granny, but that's beside the point.

I want my grandkids to sport T-shirts like this:

And if I wear my glasses like a necklace, that can't happen, see. (You do see, don't you?)

Not long ago, a few of my friends who wear glasses-glasses began to
flaunt wear these beautiful Tom Ford glasses.  Now, far be it from me to be a Tom-Ford-eyeglasses-curmudgeon.  If you can afford them, by all means, enjoy them!

Then, at least two of my friends (one online, another "IRL" - in real life) bought more than one pair! As in...three, four pairs...so they could get the look they wanted, when they wanted it.

As if that weren't enough to incite glasses envy, they purchased these gorgeous wood and leather boxes....like jewelry boxes, only for those Tom Fords. I was over the moon...I have such fashionable friends...so inspirational, I'm not even lying.  I don't get jealous...that is just not my thing.  Trust me, I have other faults.  But I don't get jealous, because I am too busy taking notes on the women I admire.

Lightbulb moment. I realized my bifocal readers, since I do wear them almost all the time, are a fashion statement. I, too, could do with several pairs of them! I have various "looks" I need to sport too, ya know.

And I wanted a pretty box of my own, like a jewelry box, in which to house my facial-fashion acessories. I wanted to "respect the spectacles" like my fashionable friends, only I could not afford the price tag of a used car to do it.

This was literally months ago. I let the whole thing simmer on the back burner, as I am prone to do, waiting for the solution to present itself.

The week of Christmas, I found the bifocal readers I had been searching for, in every style I had been searching for, and all in one place! These babies are total Tom Ford knock-offs. You better believe I splurged! I bought four pair! I splurged to the tune of $40, because I also received a 40% holiday discount.

I got these, for my inner hipster...

These for my inner geek....

These for my no-nonsense inner business woman and Bible teacher:

And these for my inner sexy librarian:

Those last ones are The Preacher's favorites. Just sayin'.

And here are the bifocal-reader-Aviator-sunglasses that I already had:

Recently, for my birthday, my daughter Hannah bought me a wood display case. She meant it to be a display for my artisan cuffs, when I have art shows. And that is what I was going to do. But suddenly this past week, after my TF knock-off spectacles arrived, I knew it was meant to be...

...it was meant to be my facial-jewelry box. (Are those words "facial-jewelry" creeping you out, too? Or is it only me? But I can't stop saying it.)

So I took a hammer to the cubbies inside, chipping off part of each divider, and then gluing a piece of soft leather to what was left, with fabric glue:

And now all my inner persona Tom Ford knock-offs have a place to be respected. (Is that too much metaphor to make sense? I thought so, too, but there it is.)

The price of four TF glasses frames: $1,200
The price of a beautiful wooden case for said frames: $75

Doing almost the same thing, but doing it preacher's-wife-style (Victoria Osteen, if you are reading this, then present company excepted): $40

And here is my facial-jewelry box, in its real home, in my messy home office:

"Oh taste and see that the Lord is good."

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

The Year of Grace {...happy new year, friends...}

The photograph above is so appropriate...because it was one of my very first "official" creative projects that someone actually purchased from me.  I worked so hard to learn how to watermark...and I put that silly watermark on the actual picture...the one that sold...not just the digital copy.  That's how bad of a newbie I was.  The year was 2012.

Seriously.  In 2012, I had no art studio, no website (just a blog), no online store, no clients, no small business, no Facebook business page, no Instagram account, no mailing list, and no idea what God was about to do...

...He was about to wreak His incredible goodness all up in this place.

And it couldn't have come at a more appointed time.

See, a little over a year before, in 2010, because I was so stuck in the middle of great pain,  I started "naming" my year.  Sure, that's become very old news here in 2015.  Everyone has done it and blogged about it, and almost no one does it anymore.  But then it was pretty cool and revolutionary, and now I will never stop naming the years.

I named 2010 "Create" - and with that, I began to create intentionally and have not stopped since.  That naming thing was the end of life as I had known it up to that point.  Naming carries with it some incredibly good juju, dating all the way back to the book of Genesis.

I named 2011 "Sow!"  {with the exclamation point...because I felt such urgency in it.  I could not have been more spot-on.}  In 2011, I kept creating...and I also began a very intentional mentoring of the next generation - finally taking it outside my own household, and in a structured way.

My own daughters, whether they knew it or valued it or not (and they did, and they do) had been on the receiving end of years of my mentoring while they lived at home.  It was (and is) their time to put action to all they had received.  My nest was emptying, and I clearly heard the Lord that I was to sow into young lives "not my own".  So...I did.  Later that same year, I realized that the results of the simple decision to sow and mentor intentionally just...well, the results rocked my world.  God's smile was all over me, as I "sowed" with all my heart.

2012 received its christening as "Cultivate".  As I re-read that last blog post, I get goose bumps, because I see this in the final paragraph:

I'm beyond excited at the prospects for the coming year.  I know I will be working even harder than last year, because I will be creating the environment for the growth of what ever else sprouts from 2011. What if every bit of it sprouts?  Oh.  Mah.  Werd.  I'll be working twelve hour days.  Cultivation is a bit more involved than sowing, but the rewards are...

...a flourishing harvest.

Um...yeah.  I sort of have been working a lotta lotta 12 hour days in the last two years.

2013 was "Harvest".  That was also the year I took up the "31 Days October Challenge" and wrote for 31 days straight on the topic of celebrating middle age.  I still get emails about it - massive fruit still coming from that project, which will become a book - dare I say this year?

2014 was "Lavish", but I was too busy working those 12 hour days to write much about it.  God has lavished me with His goodness this past year.  But even more than that, 2014 was a year {...and I still can't believe the whole thing is in the rear view mirror...} when I really worked to renew my mind with the truth of God's abundance.  2014 was a year to leave all the old mindsets behind - getting tuned in to a brand new spiritual frequency of "increase".  That is hard for this die-hard anti-prosperity-gospel girl.  I will always see the "prosperity gospel" as a false gospel - but that does not mean that my God is not a God of lavish abundance.

I feel I am still working on this, in some ways.  But then again, the lessons of each and every year have always been carried into the next.  

2014 has been a year of massive, yet quiet, G-R-O-W-T-H.  I began podcasting...became a CLC (certified life coach)...did many hours of live coaching...developed my own coaching materials...got published in a Stampington art magazine, (still a future issue)...

...was juried into two art shows (one of which I opted out of, to exhibit in the other show, which was local), and experienced a breakthrough, technically speaking,  in my artistic style.  My art is showing a more fine-art, impressionistic leaning, a leaning that was not there before, and I am not sure where it came from, to be honest.   

God lavished me, and I lavished my work with time and sweat and blood (literally) and tears.

2015 has been freshly christened:


I know, right?  I'm at it again.  Christ-centric and grace-besotted.  I will never leave the doctrines of grace.  

Besides - I have a feeling that in the coming year I will need unearned, undeserved favor from God...favor from strangers and friends...and will even get favor from enemies.  Unearned, undeserved, unexplainable, freaky favor.  

I'm not above admitting that I need favor to succeed in anything.  I need supernatural favor.

It's on its way.