A Sunday in Spring!

Got fishin' licenses after church today...

Eleven of us went to the lake...

See the "Barbie Jeep" below...

cute puppies...

Rowing, singing newlyweds...

We all caravaned back home to my house, where spaghetti for eleven was whipped up with pleasure, and coat hangers were taken apart, and unbent to toast marshmallows over the fire.

Last but not least, after spaghetti, garlic bread, coffee and cookies, we watched the PBS remake of the Diary of Anne Frank. PBS did an excellent job.

We are so blessed to be able to cherish our moments together with family and friends...

Lovin' Church Life

Friendship is such a gift. And such a happy responsibility. I attended the bridal shower of yet another Harvester today...a girl I have watched grow up. I sat, once again breathing deeply of the atmosphere of eternity (relationships are the only thing we take into heaven with us), I watched the bride's mother's teary smiles and listened to the laughter of these my soul loves so much, and I took joy.

I would not trade this for anything. These moments. This spiritual family. Two weddings in a month's time would be difficult to pull off for any church our size - truly, she who "lives in a small community lives in a much larger world". We Harvest women have not chosen our companions, they have been chosen for us, and the responsibility to stick and stay and love and tend is far more intense when we can't float from clique to clique within a large framework, and pretend we are living church life.

I knew the back stories of almost every woman at the party today, and every woman I thoughtfully considered had sacrificed both to be there and to give. Some had sick children at home, the husband of another has recently had open heart surgery, and another woman had worked long hours this past week, and another is facing incredible stress on her job, and another drove five exhausting hours through stand-still traffic to get back into town, coming straight to the shower....yet they all came anyway, and it was pure joy for them.

Oh, dear one! It is all about the serving. Serving one another in love is to live life at its fullest tilt, awash in blessing and sweetly broken beneath the burden of fulfilling the law of Christ. ("Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ"...)

I made someone laugh until they cried today. I've heard it said "the devil made me do it", but I know it was God. Laughter is a medicine, and I was God's drug pusher, and I'm shockingly proud of it. (Deal with it.)

Next time, I'm going for a pee in the pants. To my knowlege, I have never made someone pee in her pants. That would be the ultimate success. I'd die a happy woman, knowing I accomplished something grand.

I love church life.

"Keep Yourselves in the Love of God..."

“We need to keep our heart full of a sense of the love of God. This is the greatest perspective available to us against the power of temptation in the world...Fill your heart with a sense of the love of God in Christ, and apply the eternal design of grace and shed blood to yourselves. Accept all the privileges of adoption,justification, and acceptance with God. Fill your heart with thoughts of the beauty of holiness...then in the ordinary course of walking with God, you will experience great peace and security from temptation.”

John Owen, Sin and Temptation

"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,keep yourselves in the love of God..." (Jude)

A God-Kissed Day

A golden, God-kissed day. Gathering with the saints this morning was precious, the word on resurrection was encouraging.

Easter lunch was...startling. I managed to make enough to feed an army twice over. I cooked a good part of the afternoon yesterday, so that it would seem "easy" to come home to ham bathed in an orange/brown sugar glaze, stuffing, mashed potatoes, three bean salad, creamed peas, croissants, and gravy to go over any or all of it.

Every member of the family was here, including the sons-in-love, and my brother. Full table, full hearts, empty tomb. Does it get any better?

After clearing the dishes, I actually got a nap.

Then, instead of all of us going to the lake and out on the canoe as originally planned, someone came up with the idea of blessing me with an afternoon of garden work! I awoke to a request for supplies and hot dogs (for a late dinner). Off to the hardware and grocery stores I went, coming home with a pair of "loppers", a flat of basil, some impatiens and a flat of wave petunias, hot dogs and chips.

My flower patch got tilled by Jonathan, my herb garden cleared of the giant dead rosemary (a casualty of the colder than average winter) by Justin and Hannah, flowers planted by Sarah, and all the brush gleefully burned by Isaac, who has become quite the pyromaniac.

The overgrowth around the pond was cleared and an errant thorn bush dealt with by my man, giving the budding peonies and irises room to breathe. Evergreens got pruned and shaped, and the side shade garden weeded.

All this, and Jesus too. Somebody pinch me.

We managed to squeeze in some basketball, passing football, and a leisurely dinner - hot dogs off the grill, chips n' dip, with three bean salad leftovers - plus we enjoyed a fire in the firepit, along with beverages and quiet conversation about married life. Bliss.

I sit, propped up on pillows, listening to the sound of the pond waterfall, and sleepily chatting with all of you...thank you for stopping by. I love blogging so much, and I honestly love all my friends I've met along the way.

Not every day is golden - not every day feels God-kissed, even though every day is. I appreciate the privilege of sharing life with ya'll, and look forward with you to a glorious spring.

He's doing a new thing, you know.

The Missing Element...

Ever wonder what some homes are missing?

I've spent hours in others homes, large and small, rich and poor. One of the loveliest afternoons I spent was with a friend, many years ago, who had five children, two bedrooms, and no kitchen cabinets, only rough-hewn shelving. She made me potato soup, and I drank ice water, and we thoroughly enjoyed one another's company, and her home was clean and spare and happy.

Another home lingers sweetly in my memory - that of a doctor friend who lives south of Tennessee. This home is large with every imaginable amenity...but manages not to condescend. I am sure the unpretentious, relaxed atmosphere is due to a mix of philosophy and design.

Philosophy, in that the lifestyle portrayed by the home and in the home was real.

The sewing nook on the stair landing was obviously in use. The library was well loved and even more well read. The wood fired pizza oven, above the stone fireplace, had seen many meals.

Design, in that the elements of the house were collected over time. This family had endured seasons of lack and times of plenty, and all of this living was well represented throughout the home itself. No attempt was made to erase the signs of those years when needing to sew and grow a garden and utilize second hand furniture was necessary to make ends meet.

Necessity is always the mother of invention. Don't erase signs of necessity! Some of the most beautiful design elements in use today, are simply a result of a previous generation's frugal economy. This doctor's home, south of here, was not ashamed of a worn chair here or there.

I've been in small and large homes, where I get the distinct impression I am being either deceived or condescended to. Few situations are sadder or more unnecessary than a new McMansion, either partially empty, or stocked with items mostly purchased within the last five years, and meant to portray a certain look, or worse, a faux lifestyle. These homes are empty of soul. Or, what of the small home of modest means filled with expensive gadgets and rent-a-room furniture? Same empty result: a home with no soul. No seasons of life.

The missing element? Grace.

More than a doctrine to be confined within church walls, grace is a designer's or architect's or artist's dream. A home is meant to be a grace-note...a place where things worn and flawed and people worn and flawed are nevertheless loved. Anything or anyone we truly love is made beautiful in our eyes, and others usually agree. A home is meant to be a place where, yes, beauty is celebrated, but never at the expense of honesty and faithfulness to our individual callings and stories. Never at the expense of true hospitality.

True hospitality is simply a sharing of who I actually am, with those God brings into my life. I have to live the life first....only then can I share it authentically, and for a lifetime.

May my home, and yours, be an actual haven. Places of manifold graces.

Thrift Score!

A cute-as-can-be "skort" (I live in those during the summer!) tags still on it...I paid $1.99 at the thrift store.

I've been wanting some slightly scuffed "skinny jeans". Again, tags still on these. I paid $5.99 at the thrift store.

Both items fit just fine. Love me a good deal.

I also picked up a way-too-big-for-me beige linen jumper, obviously from the 90's when that sort of monstrosity was in style. "Why?" you ask? (oh please ask!) Well, it was a dollar, and gives me more than a yard of excellent weight, weave, and quality linen. I will wash it, rip the seams out, and make something out of the fabric. Probably some hand-embroidered something or other. (pillow? napkins?)

When I do, you'll be the first to know.

He, Being Dead, Yet Speaks...

“Every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For he was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us. He was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair.

He died for our life; so that by him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt canceled, labor lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal.

In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune.”

—John Calvin, preface for Pierre Robert Oliv├ętan’s 1534 French translation of the New Testament