Met with a friend to pray today...

...made myself a cuppa coffee, and went... further than my own front porch! This friend gives me the sheer gift of coming to my house, but yet not coming to my house. Let me explain: We've never once gone inside, though I wouldn't mind it one bit if we did.

We've prayed in her car and on my porch, and she has never stayed more than a half an hour. We're both busy, and are not trying to get all up in one another's grill and force some sort of intense "BFF" thing.
There's been a few little tears shed - and I'm not against them. Most of them have been mine! But no one is out to vent and emote and drain the other person dry and pretend to call that "prayer"

It has actually just been simple....prayer. Thirty minutes, before the Throne, with someone to agree with me, and I with her. And it is rocking my world. In a good way.

Other than my mentoring/discipleship meetings, this has been the most refreshing thing to hit my agenda!

An Ordinary Day

In my Photoshop class, my assignment was to take pictures of my ordinary day today. Then, Thursday, my instructor is going to show us how to go into Photoshop and make a collage out of our "ordinary day" shots.

So. I thought, "Why not torture everyone with pictures of the mundane?"

Indeed. Why not?

So here you go. Never say you aren't my homies. I'm letting you into my oh-so-exciting ordinary day.

::as she stifles a yawn::

It was a thrill a minute. It started something like this:

Yup. Me in my jammies.

I felt thankful for bright morning sun. And by the way? I always. always. make my bed.

Then I went to visit Monkey. Sometimes I beat his momma to the punch, and I get the fun of getting him out of bed first thing in the morning. Not today...his momma was right behind me. You just can't see her, because she isn't a fan of having her picture made early in the morning. Especially when it will hit my blog by that night.

Monkey, eating his breakfast of toast with apple butter and some cut up bits of banana.

...preparing to go on my walk. In my blinding white tennis shoes and yoga pants. I told dungarees and boots for me, thankyouverymuch. I should live in Texas, because even when up in a ponytail, my hair insists on being big.

My hair and I had words this morning. It told me in no uncertain terms, "Go big or go home."

Since I really wanted to get my walk in, I went big.

...what was next in line on music helps me get my walking mojo going...

...later in the afternoon... kitchen windowsill. And no, I have not cleaned my windows since the week of Thanksgiving. When I accidentally sprayed oven cleaner all over them.

bought these at the Fresh Market today...along with some white beans and onions.
I made white bean chicken chili for dinner.

...the Preacher came home, after a long day spent helping with our Big Renovation downstairs at our church building. (It's BIG...the kitchen is being gutted out and moved to another room, we are putting in a fellowship/coffee room, an outdoor gathering area, new nurseries...everything is changing down there. God is good - all the funds are there to "git 'er done".) He comes home, and immediately gets to work on his laptop. After kissing me "hello". Then, he kissed me "goodbye" and had to go back to the church to help finish up leveling a floor.

...I light candles all over the house, most nights. It helps me unwind and relax.

Monkey's nite-nite bottle...

And then I took a bath, watched the last 30 minutes of a John Wayne movie with the fam, and now I will watch the 11 o'clock news and hit the hay myself. But I shan't bore you with those images. Oh - and there was laundry folding and cooking and cleaning and a semi-long counseling phone call, and some research, sprinkled all throughout the day. Put it this way - I stayed very busy.

Ordinary days. Is there such a thing?

I ran across a poem today by Mary Oliver. It is entitled "The Journey", and oh how it resonated with me, but likely in a completely different way than the author intended when she wrote it. (That, by the way, is the essence of all good is open to interpretation in a way that Scripture cannot be.)

Had I written this (which I did not) I would have entitled it, "My Grace Journey". This poem is very, very close to describing what I went through, a few years back, in persevering out of law and into applying the real, true Gospel to my everyday life.

And, I have to say, it continues to describe my journey - only now, unlike then, the bad advice comes more from my unrenewed mind than from people. But the net effect is the same: I have to obey God. I have to be a Jesus Freak. I have to be a New Covenant Warrior Woman.

There is such joy in this journey!

"The Journey"
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver

My Bad wasn't Friday evening that Pete was coming to Knoxville, and to dinner at our home.

It was tonight.  Somehow, I thought last Thursday was Friday.  I was a day ahead.  After the week I've had, I am surprised I even know my name.

Funny how that, the moment I begin to find my peace in performance (mine or others) the Holy Spirit launches a frontal assault on the stronghold of law in my life.  I'm telling you, that thing (stronghold of law) came down awhile back, and the God of all grace seems intent that "I not rebuild what has been torn down".

Wait.  I've read something like that before.  Paul's words to the Galatians.

There was even a point this week when the enemy blantantly leered past hurts and heartbreak - flaunting it in my face all over again until the backs of my eyes burned hot from tears that threatened to spill.  The very tears that, a couple of years ago, I was convinced that if allowed to flow unchecked, they would never stop....ever.  I told my Closest Friends, very frankly, that I didn't want to discuss things pertaining to Prodigals, or get in touch with my emotions, because if I ever did that, the weeping might never end.  And you know what?  They understood.  Not one person tried to psycho-babble me into wearing my emotions on my sleeve.  They simply surrounded me with songs of deliverance.

I should have remembered my source of joy, this week.  Weeping endures for a night, but joy does come.  However, joy can only come when we learn it independently of ours or others' performance, and independently of our circumstances.  If we derive peace from performance or circumstances, the nights become twice as long as the days, and there is weeping upon weeping.

My peace comes from the Prince of it.  Peace is only found in the Finished Work of Christ, as applied to my present situation.

Which brings me to something our good friend Pete said tonight.  (The Pete who came to dinner tonight, not last night...)

After dinner, over cake, he simply said, "I have only one problem with the Grace Teachers and Preachers."

Of course, I sat up a little straighter in my chair.  I almost expected him to say, like so many others, " grace, blah blah blah."  and since he is quite seasoned in the faith and the gospel,  I was prepared to hear him out.

(well, I didn't expect him to say exactly that, but you know what I mean.)

But not Pete.  I should have known.  He said, from the depths of his heart, " problem isn't with their doctrine.  Their doctrine is right on.  My problem is with the fact that they don't apply grace in real life.  When called upon to live what they preach, they retreat into law.  Whatever you preach, you better be ready to become."

Ah, so true.  The law is a way, way easier functional belief system.   It is every Christian's default, always.  Without a renewal of our mind, a relentless renewal, we will begin finding our satisfaction coming from things that are, in fact, anti-Christ.  "Anti-Christ" simply means "instead of" Christ.  In Christ alone is found my sense of well being.  In Christ alone is my righteousness.

Pete, my wise and seasoned friend, you encouraged my heart tonight.  Because my life is consistently challenged to live out the grace of God, and you reminded me that that is the whole point.

PS.  And not that it matters, but so far, it looks like all the enemy tried to flaunt before me, every reminder of my broken-and-now-mostly-healed heart, was a mirage.  It was "False Evidence Appearing Real."  (FEAR).  But here's the thing:  even if it wasn't a mirage, it would still be well with me and my soul.  Because I am dead-set on dying to self, (self effort, self esteem, self in all its subtle forms) and determined to find my life hid with Christ in God.  I do this by applying the Finished Work of Christ to my present situation.

I just wanted you to know that this is an occupation, friends.  I have taken ground that is rightfully God's, and I am occupying, and sometimes that means fighting the "same battles" again.

But I won.  Again.  Thanks be to God who always causes me to triumph.... 

Looking Forward

Love this couple.  "Adore" might not even be an understatement.  Pete and Jane Beck.  Pete will be - even at his age - getting into his car tomorrow and making the drive to Knoxville.  He'll be dining in my home tomorrow evening, and ministering at Harvest Church this Sunday.

I'm looking forward to it all.   Though our Pete is an Alabama fan, we still love him.

Kindle Fire Happiness

It isn't mine.  The Kindle Fire isn't mine.  It was a gift that came this past Monday to The Preacher.

But I wish it were mine.  Because I'm on my second episode of the original Julia Child cooking show, The French Chef. Streaming free via The Preacher's Kindle Fire.
He's letting me play with his new Fire tonight, and I'm impressed, both with the Kindle and Julia. I learned more basic cooking tips in one episode with black-and-white old school Julia Child than in two or three episodes of any modern Food Network show. I would not lie to you.

In other news, my master bedroom is getting a huge makeover. It may take till summer to complete, but we got some furniture moved today.

 I've come to a very difficult conclusion: I am sick. Or rather, I have a sickness.

I have way, way, way too many books. And I have to dispense with more than a few. More like a hundred, no lie. They lay stacked on top of the painted wardrobe - the one that belonged to my grandma.  Books are stuffed in two large sets of floor to ceiling shelves, they stack on my bedside table, in my bedside table, stuffed in a small reading table purchased as a Levenger knock off, and there are even books in my bathroom.

I also have a few furniture items that will have to go to new homes, or perhaps I can find some kind soul who can store them for me until I get the luxury of a guest room and a studio back. I'm in no hurry for said guest room or studio, but I want to be ready when the time comes, and I have some right fine pieces that it would be better to keep than to donate to Goodwill.

But for this new design and color palette to work, I must spare, spare, and spare back again. Ah, what the hey? I'll go through everything while watching Julia do her thing, and all will be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.

Can you tell it stresses me...just a little? I have too-few days to conceive of what this space needs to become, now that seasons have changed and grandchildren are such a part of our daily living here at the Cottage, and our Monkey toddles back here every day to visit us and snuggle and "wrestle" and sit by the fire and be rocked in the antique rocking chair, and be loved and chased and read to.

And our next monkey will be here in July and we want her (he?) to have a lovely antique wood cradle at the foot of our bed. When my brain needs a break from coming up with fresh design ideas, I'll watch Julia do her Masterful Thing on that gorgeous Kindle Fire.

Did I tell you? It's my Preacher's. I wish so much it was mine. I would use it more, I'm just sure of it!

A Peek - My Email

I didn't send this little note...I checked my email via my Droid just now, and read this.  It was written by a lady who is a part of our ladies only email group we lovingly call "The Cafe".  It made me smile.  Because I very much agreed with her.

Had to share it with you.  Had to.  Local church life really does.  And it rocks to be me.

Just sayin'.