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Monday, January 31, 2011

Loving Little Two or a Crazy Honey...Take Your Pick!


video
  Okay, this is definitely risky. I totally get that I sound ridiculously silly and positively gaga in the audio portion of this video clip. You don't need to tell me. It's what grandbabies do to me. They turn me into mush. I have been known to sing, dance, and do all manner of idiotic things to entertain them or in this case, to earn a smile. This particular bit of idiocy was totally worth it.
   Oh, and you just wait. All you folks out there who are secretly making fun of me. Your turn is coming. No doubt about it. It's what love is all about. Grandmother love that is...



Posted by Picasa              Isn't she a doll?! Even if she does have an idiot for a grandmother...
Oh and just so you know, The Husband says I sound like a kookaburra. I think he's right. Just this once. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Having Fun with Some Vintage Etsy

     Nothing better to do on a snowy day but to enjoy perusing a little Etsy. Check out the goodies I found.
  
     Who wouldn't love to give these lovely and unique cufflinks to your special someone as a Valentine's gift? I, for one, am glad that cufflinks are making a return. There is something special about a well-tailored French cuff paired with a nice pair of cufflinks. And besides, I am sure that Edward Cullen would agree...
 
     I chuckle when I read that crewel is back in vogue. About five years ago my Momma got rid of a pair of wing back chairs that were covered in a floral crewel pattern a la 1970's. The Daughter was all agog over them so we hauled one of the chairs back up here to Nashvegas just for her. She gets compliments all the time on it, and everyone asks her if she bought it at Anthropologie. She definitely got the last laugh on that one. I could not live with an entire chair of crewel, but this pillow might just be the ticket for me. Check out this lovely find here:
           These little Spanish ladies remind me of some prints that my Daddy brought my sister and me back from one of his travels when we were little girls. He had visited Malaga, Spain. He gave jewelry to Momma, but my sister and I were thrilled with our petite framed prints of beautiful Spanish ladies. I can see them hanging vertically in a little girl's room just like they were in ours.
             
     I find it somewhat ironic that the AMC television series Mad Men is inspiring an interest in all things related to the 1960's, an era many of us who were around then would prefer to forget. Although it has become the latest pop cultural phenomenon, it is one fad I do not have the energy to embrace. I vowed when I finally got rid of my gold formica countertops and my olive green Franciscan pottery dishes that went perfectly with my navy and yellow wallpaper, to NEVAH EVAH go back -- even though I will admit to hanging on to my acryllic serving tray with lemons! However, I find the clothing trend that Mad Men has inspired to be fascinating, albeit a bit impractical for our current lifestyles. But then again, maybe I could wear this little number with my pearls when I am vacuuming the house a la June Cleaver...what do you think?
          

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Unexpected Majesty

    I had taken the way home that took me down a winding tree-lined street with lush undergrowth. The roads were clear but the evening's white wet snow had turned everything into a winter wonderland, coating branches and turning grasses and shrubs into works of art. What had been brown and winter weary the day before had suddenly been transformed into something pure and clean. I knew in two days time it would be different, but I wanted to take the winding way so that I could savor the beauty before me, a gift I have begun to give myself as I have aged.
   I had slowed down to look at the woodlands when I caught a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye. There sitting next to a snow-covered fallen log was a large red-tailed fox. He had begun to preen himself and the flick of his tail had been just enough to draw my eye to him. I slowed my car and ever so slowly rolled down the window. For some strange reason, I wanted us to be breathing the same air. Man and creature. Both fashioned by the same Creator. He raised his head and looked at me. I was not but two car lengths away. Deep golden amber eyes ringed by slightly darker fur. It took my breath away. His tawny red coat had glints of brown, cream, and gold. If not for the snow, I would never have been able to distinguish him from the woods. God had given him a coat of fur, that despite its beauty, allowed him to blend perfectly into his surroundings.
   We sat there eyeing each other for what seemed like the longest time. I broke the spell when I reached for my phone. I wanted a picture. Some proof of what I had seen. It felt like such an amazing gift and one that I wanted to share. The movement of my hand creeping across the seat was enough. He looked me fully in the eye, stood up, flicked his tail, and trotted slowly up the wooded hill, picking his way effortlessly over the underbrush.
     I wanted to cry. My heart was aching with the wonder of it all. I have seen foxes before, but never one so close, so large, or so beautiful. I have also never seen one in repose. I could not help but be drawn to the majesty of a Creator who crowned his creation with such complexity, variety and beauty. You alone, Oh Lord, are worthy of praise. How majestic is your name in all the earth. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Work and Play Day

    Honey came over to play today. She thought she came over to help Mommy (The Daughter) with housework since Mommy has a hurt knee, but who was Honey kidding...I knew all along that she really came to see me. We started off the day by going to one of my favorite restaurants, Marche. They put me by the window where I could see all the cars and trucks, and I was in hog heaven. Honey always orders the same thing at Marche: their Croissant French Toast. Mommy also got the same thing. They ordered oatmeal, fresh fruit, and some sliced cheese for me. I had brought my cup from home, so I was set. The oatmeal was good and who doesn't love fresh fruit with cheese, but then Honey had to go and give me a taste of her French Toast. Oh man oh man. After that, who wants oatmeal? I kept signing PLEASE and Honey just kept giving it to me. I think I managed to eat a whole piece of that yummy stuff.  It is dipped in eggs after all, so I got my protein in for the day. Well sorta.
    When we got home, Honey took me right upstairs, rocked me for a while, read me my favorite Clifford book and then put me down for a nap. I organized my paci, my lovey, my baby doll, and my favorite blanket and then settled right down for a long beauty sleep.
    While I was sleeping Honey and Mommy tried to organize my toys. I personally think it is a lost cause since I am just going to mess everything up again as soon as I can, but I didn't tell them because they have good intentions.
     When I got up from my nap, I admired all of their hard work and then had to get down to business. The lovey and I went for a ride on my fire engine for a while and then I decided to put my engineering skills to the test with a plastic swing that I discovered on the kitchen floor. I even asked Honey very nicely to let me play with her camera, but she wasn't having any of it. I guess you can't win them all, but you can't blame a girl for trying!

Here I am going for a spin around the den. It was an easy day...no fires to put out!
I took my bow out of my hair when I was working on this project.
 Everybody knows that working girls don't wear bows.



Ya'll take care now...
I'm headed off....
to rearrange my toys a bit.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bridal Tea and Winter White

     What's not to love about a beautiful bride, a lovely home, and a positively spring like Sunday afternoon to set the stage for a lively come and go Bridal Tea? There were treats galore, lovely winter white flowers and a selection of beverages, both hot and cold, from which to choose. Our hostess with the mostess in whose home we held the Bridal Tea also spends her time as a wedding planner extraordinnaire, so she leaves no stone unturned when it comes to entertaining. She has also recently finished refurbishing her house (as if it needed it!) and her new decor set the perfect stage for the party. Just take a look!
The future mother-in-law, the beautiful Bride,
 her mom and a dear cousin
  The other hostesses and I brought the food -- parmesan crisps, creme de menthe brownies, lemon squares, baked brie, almond lace cookies, asparagus roll-ups, chicken salad in puffed pastry shells, and open-face cucumber sandwiches -- but our friend furnished the beverages, arranged the  flowers and opened up her home to the oohs and aahs of everyone!
  
     And at the center of the celebration was the bride herself, a lovely girl who will be lovingly welcomed into our hearts and homes. As the mother of two grown sons, the future mother-in-law has waited a long time to have another "girl" around. She has also prayed faithfully through the years for the woman God would bring as the wife for each son, and it was such a sweet joy to see the precious answer to all those prayers walking through the front door! "And my God will supply all your needs out of the magnificence of His riches in Christ Jesus... " Yes, indeed!
                                                    

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blessing

    I have a large sign that hangs over the kitchen door of my house. I bought it twenty years ago. It simply says, "Blessings." I often think about the people who pass through my back door: my children, their friends, my friends, my family, the girls in my Ish Bible Study, the women in my Thursday study, the workmen who come when something breaks, the installers who come when something is replaced, the neighbors who come calling, the strangers, and the dogs (some my own and some not), who come in and out, in and out. I put the sign up there over the door to daily remind me to be a blessing, but the truth is that I have been the recipient of the blessing by so many who have come through that door.
     I remember in particular a crew of men sent by a contractor who was building the back porch on my house. Those men were with me for the better part seven months. There were issues with the contractor, but never with these men. Over time they developed a love for my peach ice tea, and slowly, but surely, I began to get to know their stories. One by one they would share a bit about their lives with me. Each man on the crew had been in prison and had a rough past, yet each taught me something about kindness, second chances, and the hope of redemption. All of them were trying to walk away from their bad choices, some from even a lifetime of bad choices that had begun when they were little more than children. I was honored to earn their trust. I found joy in watching how they worked together. When one man was injured at another job site, they redistributed the workload so that he could still get his hours in. They gave him more breaks and lightened his load and no one complained. I learned a lot about sacrifice and teamwork just watching them. I also learned that life after prison can be very hard as some of the men talked openly about their struggles to find people who would trust them enough to let them on a job site. I don't know where they are now, but I have thought of them often. They gave me more than an honest day's work -- they blessed me and they built a beautiful porch that is one of my favorite places. These men would be welcome in my home anytime.
    I thought today about Paul. And the record that followed him. I guess it's all in the way that you look at it. There were members of the Sanhedrin who likely affirmed him when they learned he was there at the stoning of Stephen, thinking murderous thoughts and seeking to persecute the people of The Way. And then when he did his 180 degree turnaround, there had to be some in the church at Jerusalem who raised more than an eyebrow with skepticism as the news of his conversion. They probably wondered if this was not some bit of subterfuge, some hidden plot on Paul's plot to destroy them. How could they know then that this learned scholar, this student of Gamaliel, would himself be beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, chained and more as he shared the Good News. They could not then know that this man would willingly walk away from a life of relative ease and luxury to take up a life that brought him hardship upon hardship. Why? For the sake of knowing Jesus. For the sake of the cross and Him crucified. Yep. Paul had quite a record.
   I have not been to Rome to see the tiny and cramped stone room where Paul was held. They say the roof would not even allow a person of small stature to stand to full height. Paul was chained there. Paul wrote his letters there. Paul, a prisoner and yet not a prisoner, through his divinely inspired words, brought freedom from chains to many, including me. Romans remains my book, the one to which I turn and return over and over again. It calls to my heart in a way that defies explanation.
   Paul's incomparable and sustaining faith in the face of all that he endured is enough for me.
    Let's remember in this New Year to pray for people in all circumstances of life and when given opportunity, let us offer hospitality, kindness, and a cup of cold water in Jesus' name. It's the very least we can do.
            

Friday, January 21, 2011

More on a Very Special Wedding

   Those of you may remember my earlier posts about the wedding of the daughter of a dear friend of mine. The bride is an interior designer and has great design sensibilities. So it was no surprise when her wedding was selected to be featured on the wedding blogs Unveiled and One Lovely Day by Project Wedding. Click here and here to see more about her unique wedding. Here is some background you might find interesting about the day!
   Amy wrapped her fabulous bouquet of anemones in lace taken from her mother's wedding dress, and at her Bridesmaid's Luncheon I gave her an antique handkerchief that had been embroidered with both her and her mom's initials as a special remembrance.
   Just before the ceremony began, Amy's brothers also carried a "memory" bouquet of yellow roses down the aisle and placed it in the chair traditionally reserved for the the mother-of-the-bride.
                                                              
       The Matron of Honor, the bride's sister-in-law, is an amazingly creative individual known for her refashioned children's and adult clothing designs (click here to see her blog and here for her Etsy shop). She made 15 of these poms that were used at the wedding from a set of vintage encylopedias. If you are inspired to refashion, be sure to check out the Lovely Nest's easy-to-follow tutorials!
                                                                        
    You know a vendor is the real deal when you find yourself returning to them over and over again. Since I am a cupcake afficionado and have the hips to prove it, I have literally sampled the wares at every cupcake bakery here in Nashvegas. Hands down, the Cupcake Collection are the folks who do it best and have the most reasonably priced product to boot. Their business is located in an historic house in the Germantown area which is quite a trek for me, yet somehow I manage to find myself in the "neighborhood" quite frequently!
                                                          
   This is also a vendor who grabbed my attention a few years back when I was searching for a guest book for another wedding. In the course of that search, I ran across the Etsy shop of Enji Beck, so it was a no-brainer that I would return to her for a beautiful custom designed guest book. And just as she has before, Enji delivered just what the bride wanted. I also would imagine that Enji Beck's unique books could also be used for a baby shower, a graduation, or to record the special memories of any type of event. Take a look to see for yourself!

     As we all know, most weddings don't just happen. They require careful planning, attention to detail, and a tremendous amount of work. It certainly helps when you know folks who consistently do this with panache and style and have a creative vision that never grows stale. Enter the design group at Big Events Weddings. It just so happens that they are dear friends of mine, but I am not biased when I say that the team they have assembled is responsible for the best wedding design and planning in our city and beyond. If you dream it, they can execute it. And I am not exaggerating! Big Events successfully combined Amy's vision with their expertise to create a more than memorable evening that we are still talking about!
                  

If you look carefully, you just might find me in the
picture above. Look for the lady in blue!
                            All photographs were taken by the wonderfully gifted Caroline Fontenot. You can find out about her at carolinefontenot.com.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Little Two's Nursery

    You remember that I have bragged about my daughter-in-law's impeccable taste. I am not lying. She has that ability to pull together patterns and fabrics and make everything look like it happened naturally. I just wish my photographs could really do more justice to the delightful nursery she created for Little Two. Just look at that chair.      
Who would have thought a $30 rescue from the Salvation Army could turn into something so chic? And she even used my upholsterer. Somehow I did not know that the man knew how to do that kind of welting or button work or that he had the ability to put contrasting fabric in the pleats on an ottoman he made especially for the Daughter-in-Law. I guess I don't think like a decorator. I think like a mom. Is is practical. Will it show dog hair. How long will it last. But I digress.
    She also knows when not to go over the top. See how she bought plain white bumper pads (they wash easily and never fade) but had her seamstress add ties with one of her coordinating fabrics. Oh, and I especially love how she layered her fabrics on the dust ruffle which is attached with velcro. After wrestling with those things for years (they are either too long or too short and only just right for a very short time), she has solved the aforementioned problem. She simply adjusts the velcro. That's one smart woman. My daughter-in-law.
    I also like the way that she brought in a touch of whimsy with the multi-colored ball fringe on the roman shades and repeated it on the valance. It's such a simple touch, but one that brings everything together!
  
The nursery also boasts some special accents chosen just for Little Two. The French alphabet poster came from an Etsy shop. The framed art over the baby bed is a street map of Paris by Famile Summerbelle.The darling mobile was purchased at a new shop here in Nashvegas called Tweed. There are also owls cropping up here and there in the room. Yet by far and away the best part about this lovely space is the little person who daily graces it with her presence....the real lamb, the inimitable Little Two. What's not to love?!
                                                                        

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Am a Fool in Love

    She's eight weeks old. But she's been in my heart forever. She is a cuddle bug and loves to get in that place on your chest just under your neck where she can snuggle down and drift right off to never never land. She is smiling now...really smiling...with her eyes wide open and looking at you. I act like an absolute idiot when I get one of them. Like I said, with no apologies whatsoever, I am a fool in love. I am going to share some of that Little Two love with you today. You will be blessed. There is nothing like a baby to renew your faith in the world.
     Oh...and check out the hair. When she smiles it stands on end. But then again, it pretty much stands on end anyway. All the time. I have a feeling that if this trend continues Little Two will become acquainted with hair products at a very early age. She doesn't have to worry. I will buy her whatever she needs. Or wants. Just don't tell The Husband I said that.

I Am a Fool in Love

    She's eight weeks old. But she's been in my heart forever. She is a cuddle bug and loves to get in that place on your chest just under your neck where she can snuggle down and drift right off to never never land. She is smiling now...really smiling...with her eyes wide open and looking at you. I act like an absolute idiot when I get one of them. Like I said, with no apologies whatsoever, I am a fool in love. I am going to share some of that Little Two love with you today. You will be blessed. There is nothing like a baby to renew your faith in the world.
     Oh...and check out the hair. When she smiles it stands on end. But then again, it pretty much stands on end anyway. All the time. I have a feeling that if this trend continues Little Two will become acquainted with hair products at a very early age. She doesn't have to worry. I will buy her whatever she needs. Or wants. Just don't tell The Husband I said that.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Little Family Togetherness!

   When the kids were little, The Husband and I used to say that we took family trips to Destin each year ...vacations were reserved for just the two of us, but thankfully, a few years back that all changed. One of the best investments we ever made with our teenage and young adult children was the decision to travel as a family. (I am not talking about traveling with toddlers or tweeners here -- our youngest was thirteen and the eldest was 21when we started taking these trips -- which is a huge reason why it worked so well for us.)
   Eleven years ago we began by throwing caution to the wind. That very first trip we made our first acquaintance with priceline.com and booked what ended up being two adjoining suites in Chicago at the Embassy Suites--a stone's throw from Michigan Avenue. Perrrrfect. And need I mention that the complimentary hot made-to-order breakfast saved us a ton on the food bills for six people, four of whom were adult males who definitely know how to put the food away. After our summer sojourn to the Jazz Festival in the Windy City, our next adventure took us to the Big Apple. We flew out on Christmas Day (a cheaper time to fly, trust me) returning home just in time to avoid the New Year's Eve crush and the obligatory price hike for all hotels.
     Over the years we have found ourselves scaling rock formations in Wales, walking the Freedom Trail in Boston, visiting Madrid's famed Reina Sofia museum so that a son who loved Salvadore Dali could get his fill, and eating an In-N-Out Burger after touring Alcatraz. We have hiked in Muir Woods, eaten dinner at the incredible Samarkanda Restaurante in the Atocha Train Station, finagled our way into Centre Court at Wimbledon and cheered from the stands at Wrigley Field. We have been silly and happy and grumpy and frustrated at situations and with one another. We have bickered and argued and made peace more times than I can count. Rest assured with our family, no trip is ever perfect and despite the best laid plans, we are never fully prepared for what might happen. We slept seven in a room in London that was designed for two, had a hilarious horseback ride in Mexico where we almost lost The Mom, discovered the culinary disaster (for us anyway) that is the Museo del Jarmon, and stayed in a condo that was located directly over a restaurant (oh the smells) and was not airconditioned to boot. We have seen some amazing sights, had more than a few adventures, and made memories to last a lifetime, yet by far and away the most important benefit that has come from our family travels has been the deepening of the relationships with our adult children.
   I look back at the photographs and cannot believe what I see. I am always asking myself:  How did we manage to do this? How did we afford it? And then I remember that the husband and I made a purposed decision to forgo all but the most essential home repairs, kept our forty (yes, that's gross, I know) year-old carpet upstairs even though it was literally begging to be replaced, continued to drive our junky old cars long past their prime, and bought clothes at Target, TJ Maxx, and Stein Mart instead of more expensive stores. These trips also served as THE Christmas present that we gave our children each year. Thankfully, our children all bought in to this idea which has made it all the easier and that much more fun!
    Now that we have married children and two new granddaughters, we no longer travel during Christmas week. Instead we travel in the spring or early summer and select locales that are a bit more family friendly. We set the dates and the destination more than a year out and work very hard to accommodate vacation and business schedules so that everyone in our family can be there at least part of the time.
    This year we will be living it up in Wild Dunes outside Charleston just before the summer rates kick in. We are not on the beach but are close enough to satisfy me. For a girl who grew up with the calm friendly waters and the silver white sands of the Gulf Coast, this trip to the beach promises to deliver a different experience altogether. I am excited and ready for whatever may come our way!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Momma


  
  Words fail me. How do you describe someone who is incomparable? She is the epitome of sacrificial love, and her commitment to family is unparalleled.  This past week I traveled back to the little town I still call home where we spent five very special days together. We laughed. We cried. We remembered. We talked about the past, the present, and the future. We laughed and cried some more.
  Without fail every time I am with her, I learn something new from her as well as something new about her. She never ceases to amaze me. She is aging and life is handing her some additional challenges which in her inimitable way...she is meeting head on. Despite the fact that her world has grown much smaller, she remains positive and upbeat and thankful for each day that she lives. She is doing what she has always done... making the most of what she has. And the love keeps multiplying. I am especially missing her this morning and wishing that I could wrap my arms around her one more time. It's ten am. More than likely she is sitting in her chair, knitting up a storm and watching one of her shows. She is keeping her hands busy and her heart strong. It is her way. The way that she lives. I just want to whisper in her ear what she already knows....I love you, dear Momma.
   

  

  
                  

      

Monday, January 3, 2011

English Caramel Bread Pudding

    Over Christmas I hosted brunches for two different groups of friends on back-to-back days. In the past when others had encouraged me to try this approach to holiday entertaining, I always thought they were mildly insane, but this year when it looked as though there was only one open week, I decided to jump in head first! Thankfully it turned out to be the easiest entertaining I have done in a long time and surprisingly, was much less work than having brunches during two different weeks.
     The nice thing about the back-to-back approach is that I set the dining room table once, used the same floral arrangements both days, and after the first brunch I simply loaded the dishwasher and unloaded it right back onto the table. I also served the same menu both days which afforded me the opportunity on the second day to improve upon a new dish that I had tried for the very first time at the first brunch (a Hostess-with-the-Mostess NO NO!). The Husband did get a little sick of eating the same leftovers for three or four nights, but the last time I checked he was none the worse for wear!
     The new dish I perfected was good enough (the improved and amended version anyway) to go into what I call my cooking repertoire. I will definitely be serving this again!
   With apologies to Nigella Lawson who first published a version of this dish known as Caramel Croissant Pudding -- I have altered the recipe, added and changed ingredients and amounts so much that the dish now bears a new name:
English Caramel Bread Pudding
   12-16 stale croissants
   1 cup sugar
   1/3 cup water
   2 cups heavy cream
   1 cup half-and-half
   2 Tbsp spiced rum or bourbon
   4 large eggs, beaten
   1 cup raisins
   2/3 cup toasted pecans or walnuts (pieces or halves)
Directions for cooking:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Tear croissants into small pieces and place in a casserole dish that has been coated with non-stick spray. Layer the croissants and raisins so that the raisins are evenly distributed throughout the casserole.
3. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and dissolve the sugar before putting on a medium to high heat burner.
4. Caramelize the sugar and water mixture by letting it boil 3-4 minutes or until it becomes a light amber color.
5.  Reduce the heat to low, add the cream and, while whisking, add the milk and rum (may be omitted...but I say, why not!) Some of the toffee may cling to the whisk. Keep stirring until most of the toffee bits are dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, temper the beaten eggs and then slowly add the eggs to the sugar mixture. Cook slowly on low heat (I moved to an alternate burner) until a custard begins to form. (The second time I made it I had to add 1 Tbsp of flour to get the custard to thicken appropriately).
6. Pour the custard over the croissants and let the custard stand for 10 minutes to steep.
7. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts or pecans and bake for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown.

One of the best things about this dish is that the top has a crusty crunchy golden goodness, while the layer underneath has a marvelous gooey molten toffee consistency. The English Caramel Bread Pudding made a perfect companion to my other brunch dishes which included Steeplechase Brunch (a sausage, mushroom and onion casserole), Garlic Cheese Grits, Fresh Fruit, Herb Biscuits and Lemon Blueberry Bread!

English Caramel Bread Pudding

Saturday, January 1, 2011

More or Less

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?” Martyn Lloyd-Jones


Nailed with the truth. I am tired of beating myself up. Not a day goes by that I do not do it. And it mostly revolves around the mirror. I don't like to admit it, but it's true. I am my own worst enemy. 


I have had a revelation of sorts. I was thinking about C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters and it hit me. Why would the likes of Screwtape or Wormwood have to bother with me since I am doing such a great job with myself? 


The Lord says in Deuteronomy 30, "Today I set before you life and death, blessings and cursings...choose life."


I am not making a resolution. I am making a choice. There is a difference--trust me. I am choosing the blessing. I am choosing life. I am, by God's grace, going to stop cursing myself nearly every time I look in the mirror. 


I am tired of constantly berating myself. If it's not my weight, it's my skin, or my hair, or my wrinkles, or my puffy eyes, or the way I look with my clothes off or the way that I look with my clothes on. I cannot win.


Yet God has pierced the armor of lies that I have so faithfully constructed over the last thirty years. I see that I am crippling my spirit and grieving the One who made me, the One who knitted me together in my mother's womb EXACTLY as He wanted me to be. Have I not ministered this truth to other women, yet turned away and believed the lie myself? What a paradox.


But the truth always wins out. At least that is what I believe. So I am setting my face toward a proverbial Jerusalem and asking the Lord to deliver me from this propensity of mine to curse myself. I have thought long and hard about this. I have prayed. I have sought the wonderful counsel of God's Word. I know that there is a fine line here. I know because I have spent most of my life on the other side of it.


I do not want to succumb to the culture's false notion of beauty and chase something that the Lord describes as vain and fleeting.


I so want the other beauty, the beauty that remains. The beauty of a woman who feareth the Lord...who regards Him and His beauty with awe and wonder...a woman who comes fully alive in His presence. THAT is the woman I long to be.


I am fifty-six. The mirror does not lie. But it is not too late. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Even if the joints are creaking and the wrinkles are multiplying daily, I have always been and will always be His beautiful daughter. 


I am speaking freedom in the name of Christ for myself and for any others who struggle with the image that calls out to them from the mirror. Let's call it out for what it is. A false image. An idol. I shudder when I write those words because I know that this focus on external appearance is a trap that has not only ensnared me, but countless women who are my sisters in Christ. Suddenly it feels really sick. And sad. 


So I am saying it again. It is not who we are in the core of our being. I am willing to let go of the lies. Won't you join me in seeking to walk out of the darkness and into the truth. Let's start believing that the mirror image does indeed reflect a woman who is fearfully and wonderfully made...inside and out. 


That's my prayer for 2011 and beyond...


Freedom. Joy. Peace.