A Day In Pictures...

guess what day it was?

The classic mirror shot - me trying to decide, "Do I look like a grandmother?"

Cards from all six children...and one grandchild.

My present from the six children...(four mine by birth, two mine by marriage...)

From my youngest, Isaac - the big surprise of the day. He thought to get his momma these beauties...

Flowers from "the grandbaby", to "Mimi" (or Gran or Nonny or whatchamacallit, I really don't care how it comes out...just let me hear the beautiful name!) and a picture frame from a friend -
and some magazines from another friend and fun things to fill my pantry from a friend who knows my love for all things kitchen-ey.

From My Man.

The best Mother's Day ever.

Ever, ever.

Thank you, thank you Hannah, Sarah, Josiah, Isaac, Justin and Jonathan. I love each of you more than you can know.

Thank you, Tim. You know how to love me, and I love how you love me, and I love you. I wouldn't be the mother I am without you.

::goofy grin::

Thank you, thank you friends - you know who you are. This is why I say that the adventure of motherhood should never be undertaken without a few life-long girlfriends. I love you!

The Flesh Lives...

"Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac..."

Have you ever wondered why it is so easy to confuse flesh with Spirit? Have you ever wondered why some people who are law-based, who don't understand the gospel of grace can seem so "together"? (Just don't look far past the surface...rarely are they truly whole people.) ...Or why some who don't even know Christ at all can be so incredibly successful?

Because God heard the cries of Abraham. Ishmael lives, friends, and he bears strong resemblance to Blessing.

If you are placing confidence in your flesh, you can look a lot like a Promise Child. You are receiving a limited blessing. You might "multiply" - even exceedingly. You might bear fruit. Ishmael begets Ishmael begets Ishmael. Flesh begets flesh. But it cannot beget Promise. Your level of performance can build the highest tower and birth a great nation, but it cannot please God, and it cannot have healthy relationships.

"In Isaac shall thy seed be called."

"For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath..."

There will be no flesh able to glory before God. "Flesh" is defined as whatever it is we do to get our needs met, or obtain favor, other than the sacrifice of Jesus Christ - and typically, somehow, some way, we default to the works of our flesh at the expense of another person.

(Anti-Christ simply means "instead of " Christ. Since Christ is the only way, the only truth and the only door, anything you depend on "in addition" to Him is actually instead of Him.)

There is an obvious way Ishmael differs from Isaac: relationships. Ishmael regards not a parent, a spouse, children, friends, or any authority, beyond how they benefit him. Even if all Ishmael gains from you is a sense of his own importance, if you ever stop allowing Ishmael to feel superior, he will turn on you. He's a wild ass of a man (or woman).

Here's the part that makes my heart fear: "And he (Ishmael) will be a wild ass of a man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him..." Gen. 16

Ishmael is a victim-iser (his hand will be against every man), yet imagines himself victimised (every man's hand will be against him). But the fact is, Ishmael simply cannot enjoy healthy relationships for very long, because if you let him get close, he will find something wrong with you. His hand will end up "against" you, and he will not back down or make things right. He is wild, and doesn't form meaningful ties. There is no continuity or faithfulness in Ishmael.

Interestingly, Ishmael can fake relationship for awhile, because "he dwells among his brothers" (same verse, Genesis 16), but if you investigate, you'll find out that nearly all his relationships are shallow and pragmatic. Ishmael makes "new friends", only to use them in an attempt to provoke old friends to jealousy. He flaunts people to impress other people, and needs desperately to be admired. When Ishmael trots you out in front of others, calling you his friend, you better be ready to pick up on his cues. You better perform.

Meanwhile, Isaac enjoys depth of friendship and relationship as a gift of grace. He dwells in peace, even among those who try to harm him. He is close to his mother, (as flawed as she might be), respects his father, (old as he is), and adores his wife. And everyone else is devoted to Isaac in return. Isaac is rich in all ways money can buy - and even richer in all the ways money cannot buy.

Yet he looks so much like Ishmael.

Examine yourselves, friends, to see if you be in the faith. Look for signs of you being in the true lineage of Abraham; first, you put no confidence in your flesh...and second, your great, great love for the brethren.

Your works can be blessed to the point they resemble faith, even when they have nothing to do with faith...because God heard the prayers of his friend Abraham.

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day first of all to my mother...then to my daughter, Hannah, who is expecting my first grandchild in December...
...and then to all my mom-girlfriends. Motherhood is an arduous, blessed journey, not to be undertaken without a few good girlfriends.

A toast to us!

Sneak Peek

I had another "great"(...to me) post all prepared for you, regarding my latest musings on self effort and religion versus the life of grace, based on the life of Abraham/Abram. I have even coined a phrase in my mind, "Ishmael lives!" God answered the prayers of His friend Abram...

But the thought occurred to me that you so might need a break from my theological ramblings - and rantings about Facebook's contribution to marital infidelity. (If you lived a day in my shoes, you'd be ranting too...oh, the destruction of whole families when we depart from God's counsel!)

::she slaps herself yet again::

I've decided to lay off the theology for a day. For you. Just for you! (The Lord is speakin' to me in a big way about how very much Ishmael and Isaac resemble one another...to this day, they do!...I'm tellin' you, it is hard as hail to stay off the subject...but....for you.)

Yes, hail. The really hard stuff that falls from the sky here in Tennessee during a bad thunderstorm.

It is 11:30 at night, and I'm padding about in my jammies snapping pictures of my dining room...for you. I'm far from done - the kitchen still needs its makeover, and it directly adjoins the dining room. But the dining room walls are painted, and you can at least tell from this vantage point which direction I am going, in terms of design. Ready??

"Bus driver! Move that bus!"

It is getting late. Waaaaay past my bed time.

The buffet and corner cabinet are going to get painted and distressed - so imagine those blending in with this creamy, white-on-white atmosphere...(please ignore the too-big lightbulbs. Alas, they are all I had on hand when they recently needed changing, and I keep forgetting to get the right size. Candace Olsen I am not.)

With whispers of robin's egg blue (on the table runner, in this picture. Robin's egg blue also found in the candlesticks, toss pillows, and a few other touches...)

A close-up of the table setting...

Candles, a Celtic cross cutting board, and a ball of twine in the corner...

Close up detail of one of the candlesticks...

A tablescape detail. That is an antique drawer, originally part of an an old singer sewing cabinet.

I hope this itty bitty change of pace has been a happy one for you. Tomorrow I just may be waiting for you with my glasses on my nose and Bible open, ready to talk about the fact that "self effort lives!"...and looks a whole lot like promise....but it ain't.

Far from it.

"Consider Abraham..." a Grace Sighting!

I began a project this year - to read through the Old Testament, looking for Grace Sightings! Since Jesus Christ was the plan of God from before the foundation of the world, it stands to reason that the Old Covenant must be replete with shadows and glimpses and outright sightings of grace-gospel.

Oh, it is. I've always known this, on a basic level. I've been well taught in the types and shadows found in the laws and feasts. But I began to think there had to be so much more.

Oh, there is. So much so, in fact, I often wonder if I have not bitten off far more than I can chew. The law was set in place to magnify grace. Grace was in place before the law. The gospel of grace is hinted at...oh, long about Genesis 1 and 2. God gives dominion to human beings He knows are going to blow it, and blow it almost instantly. He blesses them...

::slapping myself::

But I really want to talk about Abraham. After all this time, inching along, looking for glimpses of the grace message hiding behind every Old Testament olive branch, shimmering through every rainbow, warning me about my self effort through a tower (self effort results in relational disconnect) - after all this time, I'm not even half way through Genesis.

I've come up with quite a few sightings - and then I come to father Abraham. Here, grace is more than glimpsed. God displays it openly.

Yet people read of Abraham, and still come away with whack-job notions about Christian perfection. And no wonder...a mere human being must approach God's revelation of Himself with great humility, knowing that he has to have supernatural revelation, or he will get the wrong idea.

I will say this - revelation and patient scholarship are required to understand the picture of grace painted in the Old Covenant well enough to teach it. If you understood it quickly, if you were taught this stuff piecemeal, here a little and there a little, you didn't understand it well.

Do you need to understand the gospel intricately to be saved? Not at all. Believe in your heart the Lord Jesus, and confess with your mouth, and you'll be saved. You don't have to have a grasp on all the shadows of grace found in the Old Covenant to be saved.
I will say this too - it is far better to receive grace by faith first. Then, you seek to understand Old Covenant in the light of grace....veil removed. Not the other way around. You do not first put your trust in the law, and then look for the grace of God hidden within its types and shadows. You usually won't find it. That darn veil.

Genesis 17:1 - "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect."

At first glance, every single one of us reads this and comes away with the idea that we, too, have to modify our behavior and improve ourselves.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. As I began to study, in the light of the gospel of grace, trusting that Jesus Christ was the plan of God from before the foundation of the world, believing that "before Abraham was, I AM", I began to see what was hidden from me before.

God was not giving Abram a moral imperative here! He was, in fact, giving Abram an impartation of divine grace. God said to Abram, in effect, "I am God all by Myself, needing nothing. Therefore, walk before me in that state of completeness."

"Be thou" perfect - much like "be thou" made whole.

Circumcision was a token of the covenant of grace being made with Abram (verse 11 of chapter 17). Circumcision was not itself the covenant. Works are incompatible with faith, they are not a condition for the gift of righteousness which is by faith. Rather, they are a token of a far greater reality which is beyond any one's ability to merit.

Then, and only then, after more prayer and thought and study of the original Hebrew wording, I checked out the commentaries.

Clarke's commentary on Genesis 17: "Ten thousand quibbles on insulated texts can never lessen, much less destroy, the merit and efficacy of the Great Atonement!"

Here is some language study: "Be thou perfect" in Hebrew (vowels added to make it easier on us Gentiles) - "Vehyeh thamim", which properly translated is "and thou shalt be perfection."

"I am God Almighty, Abram. Take the next step believing Me, and you will be made perfect. By Me. All by Myself. I will make you complete. Lacking nothing."

Another commentary: "God can and must do everything. No movements or workings of nature are of avail; everything that is for God must be affected by His mighty power. Now if we walk before Him in this sense, we shall be perfect. We shall come into the good of His covenant, and obtain spiritual promotion, and we shall be prepared to accept circumcision; we shall (then) have no confidence in the flesh."

Circumcision was not a token of stout moral willpower. Just the opposite! It was a type and shadow of you and I having no confidence in our own ability. Please, please see circumcision in the light of Biblical context!

Context, context! What had just happened?

In the previous chapter, Abram had just used his male "organ" to obtain The Blessing through his own efforts. Result: Ishmael.

How vivid of our God to make His covenant of grace with Abram, and to decree that the token of this covenant be that the very part of his flesh he used to obtain God's blessing, be the very part that gets....ah, "incapacitated".

We are Abraham's seed truly, who put no confidence in the flesh, to keep the law. Our flesh is "cut off". Just as father Abraham's was. Our circumcision is of the heart - our seat of ambition and motive. In our very heart of hearts, we acknowlege our utter ineptitude to improve ourselves, or to "make of ourselves" anything - all we have, in terms of salvation, education, income, ability, all of it is grace.

God alone is "Maker". It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.

Friends, there is no more a blessing for keeping the law. No one was ever blessed for keeping it. Rather, they came under the curse that comes with not keeping it. In fact, it is the same curse in force to this day, for all who put themselves under the law, to attempt to obtain any level of righteousness by self improvement.

Consider Abraham.

Read your Old Testament without the veil on your head.

A One-Woman Facebook Crusade...

That does it. I'm on a one-woman mission.

I have never been a huge fan of Facebook. (For those of you who love it...I'm happy for you. So don't take this personally.) I have short spurts and seasons where I enjoy it, and I clearly see the utility of it, when important, short bursts of information need to get out to a large number of people. I get it. And it is fun, sometimes. But Facebook is still not my favorite way to spend my downtime. Give me a book-book ANY day.

And like every tool that can be used for amazing good, Facebook can also be used wrongly, and we who have minds of our own are allowed to speak up and say what we think. Kapeesh?

Let me get right to the laser-point: I've never, ever used my maiden name on Facebook. It never occurred to me. Sure, old friends from high school might try to "find" me and not be able to, but I graduated and moved on in 1984, and I rather enjoy my life as a middle aged woman. If an old friend from high school never "finds" me....well...how can I say it...

I'm okay with that.

Yup. I'm totally okay with it. Memory lane holds no fascination for me. Life as it is, right now, is totally wonderful. And chances are, no old highschool friend is going to Facebook me wanting to hear about Jesus. When I weigh the hidden message that might be in broadcasting my maiden name...when I weigh its risks with the potential "benefits"....call me old school, but I love my man, and I love my life, and I've grown up and grown older like normal people do. I wish my old high school friends well, but if they never find me, they can still find Jesus. Their eternity does not depend on my Facebook page.

In addition, without my maiden name, old boyfriends cannot find me.

I'm really okay with that.

I'm okay with that, even though there were only two or three boyfriends, and only one of the two or three was a really serious boyfriend. I'm okay with that even though I weigh only about 12 pounds more than I did in 1984 - and I was a skinny teenager. I'm okay with that even though I could impress any old boyfriend if I really tried, and even though I am still "hot" for my age.


No, wait. HOT. Sometimes I am totally hot, and byheaven, I am not ashamed. Women of a certain age get hot now and again, and have no business Facebooking old boyfriends.

If you are married, and have your maiden name on your Facebook - I know you don't mean anything by it. Well, I trust that you don't. But for the sake of The Cause....please remove it.

Or, let me be the radical one. Quirky me! Leave me to do the unusual thing all by myself. I'm okay with that, too. But you should remove it.

You have the power.

You can do it.

How about just your first name, and your married-last name? It is such a lovely last name, after all. I realize I am opening the door to all manner of hate mail, but I don't care. I'm sayin' it. I'm on a crusade.

No More Maiden Names For Married Godly Women On Facebook.

If you are happily married, remove your maiden name today. Just go with your real, married last name. You'll be glad you did. If you are not happily married...

...well, go ahead and leave that maiden name. I hear a certain cable TV show just might hook you up with your long lost heart-throb!

Sweet Saturday

We got started on yet more projects this weekend. We gardened, painted another whole room, and primered yet another. We got an early start, and still yet it is 11 PM, and we are just now finishing up, and turning in. Many thanks to Hannah and Justin, Sarah and Jonathan for their help!

A small peek at the cottage doings today:

This sign points the way to our home...

This entire load of mulch got spread around the gardens today...and yes, "I think his trailer's sexy." Who needs a tractor when you can sport this hot little number, and boast that you made it yourself? (He did!)

variagated vinca, Scottish moss, dusty miller, and helichrysum in an old wooden toolbox...

We love our birds here - wild and tame.