Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Radical" ideas

Isn't it interesting how you can be thinking about something and then within days hear a sermon about that topic? Sometimes the sermon confirms what I have been thinking and sometimes it corrects my thinking. And yes, sometimes I have walked away shaking my head and wondering why that pastor isn't as smart as I am. Then I am reminded that he is smarter!
Over this past week or so Mark and I have talked about heaven and the skewed view that many of us seem to have. Somewhere I heard the question, "What are you most looking forward to about heaven?". I started running through my mental list of things. A reunion with my Granny and Grandaddy and Grandma. Getting to know my Grandpa. A sinless life! An eternity in a perfect world. I stopped short when I realized what I was doing. Did you notice? Did you catch what is missing? Where does being in the presence of God and glorifying Him fall on my list? My list is horribly self-centered and self-absorbed. Heaven is NOT about ME. Heaven is about GOD! I did the study a few years ago of Randy Alcorn's book. I have listened to sermon series on the topic. I have attended enough funerals in my life-time to have heard a lot about the subject of heaven. Yet over and over and over again in the church in our culture (I can not speak for other cultures), the teaching may start with focusing on God but it seems to veer away from this to the benefits that we will enjoy. Yes, there are benefits to be found and they will certainly be enjoyable. But those benefits are not the primary reason heaven will be so wonderful. The primary reason heaven will be wonderful is that we will be in the presence of GOD and will see him clearly for the first time. WOW doesn't even begin to express that, does it?

Last night Mark and I began working through a sermon series that our pastor did last fall. This is the Radical series. As we began the first sermon, our pastor talked about the fact that in the American church today we too often see Jesus as a means to an end. Jesus will keep us from hell. Jesus will get us into heaven. Jesus will save us from our sins. Jesus will make our lives easier (and if you believe that I suggest that you go re-read John 15:18-21!). Jesus does indeed save us from hell, make a way for us into heaven, and save us from our sins. But Jesus is NOT the means to these ends. Jesus Himself is the end! When we see Him as the way of accomplishing an end or goal or purpose, and forget that He is very God of very God, we are failing to understand that He is worthy of all our praise and worship just because He is Who He is. Yes, we are thankful for what He does for us, please don't misunderstand me. But He is to be worshipped and praised just because He is Jesus. We don't worship Him because He does or is something, or even for doing or being something. We just worship Him.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Homestead TV: Special Guest!

Last week was a crazy week with us out running errands from Friday, July 31 through Saturday, August 8 (with church thrown into the middle of that of course). Whew! It's good to have a few days at home and get caught up with the latest episodes of Homestead TV.

Marvelous Mark has been very marvelously busy today putting up the new ceiling fans on the front porch. Hurray!!! The porch is wired for three fans (it is so long that it takes that many to be effective) and the old fixtures were in horrible shape. Just motors hanging from the ceiling with no blades. We discovered that one of them had been turned on for who knows how long and had seized up. So it was using/wasting electricity and creating a fire hazard but not much beyond that. I hope to see a change in the power bill after fixing that.

The new fans are up and they make a lovely difference when we sit in the anniversary chairs. While Marvelous and I were sitting in the living room and he was getting the fans ready to put up, he stealthily got up to look out the window and whispered, "LOOK!". I tried. I really did. But I was not stealthy enough or fast enough, or something. I grabbed the camera, though, and went and sat in the anniversary chair (with the fan on, thank you very much) and waited. I heard something here.

I waited. And waited. And soon he came out.

Yes, it is definitely a he. No female would have such thin legs!

Or be so proud of them. (Well, OK, maybe...)

He sat for a long time before getting spooked and leaving.

I also caught this picture and I can not decide if the cloud looks like a baby sucking its thumb or Snoopy thumbing his nose. I guess it depends on the mood of the moment.

Finally, I am including this picture because not only can you see the pole beans that are planted for decoration and food (we believe that it is fine to play with your food as long as it isn't on the table yet), but I think the red sky to the west is a pretty backdrop.

Just for the record, Kermit did make a repeat appearance last night but it was too late and dark for any pictures.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday morning

Monday morning is starting early today. The temperatures here are getting a little closer to normal for August ~ we had been running much cooler than normal through June and July. With the temperatures cranking up today (and let's not even talk about the heat index!) it seems prudent to do the outside stuff as early as possible. Usually on days like this I would get laundry going by 5:30 am, but I slept in today and did not get up until 6:00. Marvelous Mark is out there fighting the grass. The downside of working outside early is that the grass is still pretty wet. Oh well, beats trying to do it after 9 when it gets hot, humid and miserable.

Yesterday was a terrific day at church. Our church is starting some Bible classes so Mark and I will be taking one 2 hour class together in the fall and Mark will be taking a theology class (without me). We are looking forward to these. I'm excited about the fact that our church is excited about doing this. The pastoral staff has made it clear that these are classes for the sake of preparing God's people to share the Gospel both here in town and around the world. There is an emphasis around our church family of asking the question, "What does God want me to do with this (talent, knowledge, ability) that can have an impact on the world for His glory?". This is a question that we hear from the pulpit, no matter who is preaching, and from the people walking out of the sanctuary on Sunday.

The link to this week's sermon is here. Dr. Bart Box brought the message this week since our Pastor is out of town. Rather than try to summarize it, I would encourage you to go listen to it.

I'm off to drink some more water and get Marvelous Mark a glass of tea. Have a great week!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Yard Sale Pictures

It is only Friday night and already the weekend is getting too long. Sad to be so old, isn't it?
I am not going to try and go to the Vestavia Hills High School event tomorrow. It kind of makes me sad because I think it is such a great and creative idea and because I love the whole Diet Coke and Mentos thing. Instead, Marvelous Mark and I are going to take a brief look at a couple of local yard sales in the morning and I am going to enjoy my home the rest of the day! That way, I won't be too tired for Sunday (see my logic?). OK, that being said, here are the pictures of my yard sale treasures from Thursday. If I find anything Saturday I will post as soon as I can.

First, I found these cookie cannisters and jars and plate hangers for a whole $1.00 for everything. I love the Animal Crackers tin.

The pansy tin has already found a good use:

Peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies, anyone?

Mark found these for a good friend. They have had a tradition of finding each other's marbles over the years, so he couldn't resist this buy. Now Hugh will have a few more marbles to add to his collection.

Then we have the three apple boxes for $1.00 each (!) and a copy of Dante's Divine Comedy for $6.00. Did you have to read The Inferno in sophmore lit at college?

Mark found this suitcase for another $1.00 and the suit bag for $3.00. He may be doing some traveling soon, but if not, he read recently about using the suitcase for home organization and storage. I don't think we could find cheaper storage containers!

I had one other find that I am not going to post a picture of yet. It's a special gift for one of the very special men in my life, so I don't want to run the risk of spoiling a surprise. I will post the pictures and tell the story behind it as soon as I can.

My final picture is my BIG treasure. I found this at a little place that was hosting a bunch of antique shops cleaning out their inventory a little bit. It is not more than 100 years old (and probably not quite that old), because it does have some metal hardware in it in two places. I fell in love with it. The curve of the seat and the way the back is constructed makes it one of the most comfortable chairs I have sat in for a long time. It is going in the front room/craft room for now but will eventually go in the living room. No, I am not going to refinish it, because I like the way it looks. It is certainly not perfect; it is missing some of the spindles under the right arm rest and there are a couple of cracks here and there, but I do love it. Won't this be a good place to hold and rock great-nieces and nephews and any other babies God may put in my path to love on?

Just a couple of quick updates; I'll post pictures of my treasures from the sale later today.
First, we did not make it all the way to Chattanooga, let alone Dunlap. Sigh. I had hoped I could see my sweet friend Jennie, but maybe soon Marvelous Mark and I can drive up there for the express purpose of seeing her. I did find some super things and Marvelous and I both came home tired and a little sunburned, but very happy.
Secondly, thanks so much to those of you who have been praying for Layla Grace. Her second surgery went well, her belly is getting back to normal size and she is feeling a little perkier. However, the surgeon cautioned her Mama that there is a good chance she will have to have a second surgery for this fluid build up. Please pray that the surgeon will see that God is the healer of Layla Grace and she will not need any further surgery.
Finally, I got a huge honor yesterday from my sweet friend Ashley on her Sassy Gal blog. Sassy Gal is an incredible God-reflecting lady, wife, Mama, daughter, friend and example. She let me guest blog my peach preserves recipe. I had forgotten how challenging writing down a recipe can be! I was reminded of my Junior High students when we did a unit together on how to write directions to do something and most of them chose to write a "simple" recipe. Each one of them got a laugh from all the others by leaving out one crucial step (like putting the top on the blender before you turn it on!).
Have a fun morning and check back later for those pics!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Huge Weekend

It's gonna be a huge weekend around here, folks, and I am excited!! Here's the game plan.

Thursday begins the World's Longest Yard Sale, also known as the Highway 127 Sale. Many years ago we lived on Signal Mountain, Tennessee and later down in Chattanooga. We used to follow the sale along the mountain and enjoyed every moment of it....when the slow drivers weren't frustrating us (sorry, had to be honest there). Once again we live in the fairly near vicinity of this and will catch the end from Gadsden, Alabama maybe up to Dunlap, Tennessee (Maybe...hopefully...are you home, Jennie??). We have a few things we are looking for but we are mostly looking forward to enjoying the fun of it.

Friday is library day, always a big time in our home! Yes, the library is in Jefferson County, Alabama (have you been reading about them in the news recently?). No, to date they have not messed up the library system with their nonsense.

Saturday. Ah, Saturday! I am so excited about Saturday that I giggle every time I think about it. A local high school band in the 'Ham is having an innovative fund-raiser this Saturday. They are charging $5.00 admission per person. For the modest fee of $5.00, I get to go to the high school stadium and take part in (are you ready for this?) an attempt to have the world's biggest Diet Coke and Mentos fountain. Whoo-hoo!! I am so excited about this I would pay twice as much (gladly) to get to do this. Diet Coke and Mentos? World's biggest fountain? I'm in!! Possibly literally. And yes, I will be taking my camera and try to protect it while taking pictures. Do you think a large zip-lock would let me take decent pictures while protecting my treasured camera?

And then of course, there is Sunday. I really like my church and getting to go to Small Group and worship there on Sundays is huger than Diet Coke and Mentos. Wow!!

Garden Update Part I

So the clothesline picture was not the greatest shot in the world of the clothesline (it was hot and I was lazy...and a little worried about finding another yellow jacket!). So I thought I would tell you why there is a mountain in the driveway. My brother, Remarkable Robert, is a tree surgeon. He denies that and says he is really a tree mortician. Either way, he works with trees. He cuts down the dead ones, he trims off damaged branches, he gets them off houses and roads and cars when they fall down, etc. He has a very busy business. Every few days he winds up with a dump truck load of wood chips. Marvelous Mark suddenly had a thought one day and asked Remarkable if he could have a dump truck load of these chips. A chance to get rid of a load? Sure!!

So one day the truck made the climb up the street and voila! a load of wood chips in the driveway. This shot shows a diminished mountain, because the guys have been busy and taken care of about half of it already. Marvelous got busy (so did Dashing Dan) and started spreading them around the garden for mulch. Since our soil is not the best, this has been terrific. Instant compost!

Then Marvelous started thinking about how much he does not enjoy mowing and edging and weed-eating in the hot Alabama sun. Then he started thinking about how the grass is not doing too great in parts of our clay-y front yard and how much it was going to cost if we had to get a load of top-soil and grass seed or (worse yet) sod. So he and Dan started spreading the compost along the front sidewalk

and the grass-less parts of the front yard.

The master plan is that we will eventually have flower beds where there is now mulch (although I am really hoping for a vineyard) and that the mower will be used for a small bit of grass in the front and under the clothesline in the back. Hurrah for wood chips! Yippee for Remarkable Robert!! Scuppernongs, here we come!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Boo, Yellow Jackets!!

OK, if you are a Georgia Tech fan, don't get too upset about that title there. I like Georgia Tech. Not as much as I love my Vols, but I like Tech. Marvelous Mark's Dad went there briefly and was a huge fan the rest of his life. I'm not a big UGA fan, so I like Tech. But I do NOT like yellow jackets!!
If you had been riding up my street this morning around 10 am you would have been startled to see me scampering across the sidewalk to the front door with my hand on my rear. I got stung! Stupid yellow jackets! Marvelous Mark planted beans real close to my clothes line and at that time we did not know that the nasty little critters really like green bean flowers. They become very possessive of those flowers and don't want anyone getting near them. So if you get a little too close while hanging clothes on the line, they get pretty territorial. Stupid bugs! Fortunately it was only one. Fortunately the stinger did not get left in. Fortunately my Mama taught me to always wear a slip (one more layer of protection!). Fortunately I am not allergic to the little nuisances. But I do NOT like yellow jackets. Boo!!

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Here is a neat picture that I thought you might enjoy tonight (or this morning). This is the gift Marvelous Mark and I gave each other for our recent twenty-second anniversary. Wow! Y'all come and sit a spell.

Thanks for your prayers for Layla Grace and please continue to hold her up in your prayers.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Please pray for Layla Grace. Layla is not quite two years old and was diagnosed this spring with an aggressive form of neuroblastoma. Her progress so far has been a miraculous result of lots and lots of prayers. However, this weekend has been a very difficult weekend for her parents. She is back in the hospital and having some problems. Her web-page is here and she can also be followed on Facebook (there is a link to her Facebook page from her web-page). The most critically important thing that we can do for Layla and her family is to pray, and then pray, and then pray some more!