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Although I post baby grand pictures on my facebook page, I realized I have not regularly let you see much of our newest branch on the Stockdale family tree. So I thought I might do a recap of some of my favorite pictures of this little angel bunny.

Jason and Patti added a new twig to the family tree on February 8, 2011. Sadly, Craig and I were on a mission trip in Africa when he made his arrival. Boo! Hiss! But praise the Lord, he arrived safely on one of the snowiest days we have ever had in Memphis. Here is one of my favorite pictures of Liam Stone Waters Stockdale - so very fresh to the world - with brother, Declan (3 years old).

Here is Liam at 2 months old. What a face!!

And this is how mom has fixed his room.

And thanks to my buddy in Hixson, TN. Liam has a bib that totally matches his room decor!! Is that cute or what?!

Posted: 9/16/2011 9:32:49 AM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

We moved in the cottage without any flooring in place. After considering several options, we landed on a hardword laminate flooring. Our friend, Miguel Ibanez, put down the flooring in the den and bedroom. The closet/laundry room area was framed but not finished at the time, so the flooring stopped at the door that led from the bedroom to the closet/laundry room area.

Roy and Ray came and gave us a hand finishing the floor.

Ray assisted.

And even I gave it a shot!

Cuz I ain't skeered to try new things!

Although I am nor sure I should be trusted handling sharp objects.

And now, presto - we have a floor!

Posted: 9/9/2011 8:00:30 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

A kitchen comes to the cottage.

For about 3 months Craig and I "camped out" in the cottage, without a laundry room, closet, or kitchen. We managed to get the laudry room/closet area finished with the help of a few friends. Bill Hennum installed lighting in the laundry room. Thanks, Bill.

Mark Whitby helped us finished out the area too.

With the laundry area working and a honest to goodness closet, life at the cottage began to take on the feeling of home - although there was still lots of work to do. But I missed having a kitchen. And toast was about the extent of what we could cook in our little borrowed toaster oven! But then . . . a kitchen came to the cottage.

I wish I could record and share all the ways God has provided for Craig and me, but the kitchen is among His kindest gifts to us. Roy and Renae gifted us a custom kitchen made by our mutual friend, Kerry Clark. Kerry is a gifted craftsman and has a business designing and building custom kitchens. Kerry built us the most beautiful kitchen. Here are some pictures of the day the kitchen came to the cottage!

Kerry and sons, Austin, and Mitchell brought out the kitchen and unloaded it while I did the dance of joy!

Cuz this is what I had.

And this is what I GOT!

This pantry is next to the stove. Love it!

Craig installed our dishwasher with his trusty helper, Grayson! Too cute for words.

And this is the end result when the kitchen came to the cottage.

See the black island? Kerry built that to match my cheery cabinets at the last house - nearly 18 years ago. This is the Ray and I painted and antiqued (see previous post) and we use it as our table. Cute, huh?

Have you ever seen a more beautiful kitchen!?!?!?!? Be still my heart!

Craig and I are so blessed to have so many precious friends in the faith that have helped us along as we have relocated to the cottage. The stove was a love gift from one of the girls who attended MOMS. The dishwasher and microwave were gifts from dear friends. The refrigerator was unanomiously given to us. And as I said, the kitchen itself was a gift from Roy and Renae and created by a dear friend Kerry Clark.

My daughter-in-law painted the GRACE sign for me. It was the perfect addition to my kitchen.

Is it any wonder we call this the cottage of grace?

Just another chapter in our God story at the cottage of grace!

Posted: 9/4/2011 5:45:39 PM by Global Administrator | with 3 comments

I found a small flat thingy deal on the bottom of my foot. I went to a podiatrist and his professional opinion was that I had a wart. A wart! That doen't seem like a very lady-like ailment!

I asked my podiatrist, "How did I get a wart on the bottom of my foot?" He replied, "It is caused by a virus and you came in contact with it. You were contaminated by walking around." Indeed.

As he treated my wart, I considered his words. I was contaminated by walking around. I thought how true his phraseology was when taken in the spiritual sense. (And yes I am convinced all of the physical has spiritual applications when looked at through the Father's eyes. This is seen in Jesus' use of parables-earthly stories with heavenly messages. He spoke parables In the wheat field. At the well. In the storm. And now for me, at the podiatrist!)

We get "contaminated" by the world just by the "passing through" of it, just by "walking around" in it. We are contaminated by walking around. We need to regularly be "washed in the water of the Word" to stay clean in the midst of a dirty world.

This is what Jesus was telling Peter when He knelt to wash Peter's feet. John 13:3-10 says, "Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments ; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet ?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter ." Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet !" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head." Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean ; and you are clean."

Peter said, "No way. No way am I letting You wash my filthy feet." Jesus replied, "Your physical feet have been contaminated by walking around in this sin sick world." Jesus' words had a deeper meaning. In reality He was saying, "Your spiritual life has a film of filth on it as well. You need to daily confess your sins and get clean. You need to have your feet (literally and your soul spiritually) washed or you cannot commune at My table."

Peter said, "If that is true, then give me a bath because I want to be really clean." Jesus said, "Peter you are clean already. (Meaning you have been saved already. You are eternally secure. You can't get saved again. You are saved and secure.) What you need is the daily washing for forgiveness of your sins. Repent. Confess. Be clean. Keep short sin accounts. You need your feet washed; not a whole bath. Just your feet. They have been contaminated by walking around."

So very true. We are contaminated by walking around. Daily we need to repent, confess, and ask forgiveness in order to keep "our faith-walking feet" clean. Lord, so be it!

Posted: 9/3/2011 5:21:24 PM by Global Administrator | with 1 comments

When I tell my story, most people think the challenge of our bankruptcy was the loss of nearly everything we owned. Our business, our farm, our home were lost in the proverbial blink of an eye. Lawyers were engaged, documents were signed, and our lives changed forever. What we did not lose outright we liquidated in an attempt to satisfy the debt. So most assume the loss of my things was the hardest part of this test. Actually, that accounted for only a small part of the pain in this process.

My greatest loss stemed from the interruption of the forward progress of my life. That was the most difficult for me to process. For several years I have worked from my home in my ministry, Standing Near the Cross. My office was a converted attic space. It was small with quirky angles created from being tucked under the eaves and was full of some of my favorite things. We had converted Jason's old bedroom into an office for Renae and Dawson's room was turned into an office for Craig. My buddy Ray-Ray worked with me 4 days a week. Craig worked part time in the ministry, lending a hand with special projects and being heavily involved with publishing our Bible studies. Together, we were co-laborers for Christ. I kept regular office hours. Every morning by 8:00 I was at my office with a cup of coffee in hand. Around 9 every day Ray was climbing the stairs to start her day.

Ray took care of the business end of the ministry-and surprisingly the administrative demands of a ministry are legion! Craig rotated in and out of the ministry according to the need. Our boys were handling much of the day-to-day operation of the landscaping business, freeing Craig to help with the ministry - which owns his heart and mine as well. I spent my days studying the Word, preparing messages, and writing Bible studies. In a nutshell, life was good. Busy, but good.

Then a meeting with a financial counselor confirmed our worst fears. We were bankrupt. Our small family business landscape business  had succumbed to the economic downturn. And life as we knew it was done.

It was not the loss of my things that was tough; it was the loss of life as I knew it.

In the midst of such upheaval, we did what people of faith do. We hid myself in the strong tower of the Lord. He would sustain us as I walked through the valley of the shadow of death of the life we had known. It came as no surprise to me that He is exactly who He says He is. His presence in my (and Craig's life) life was only heightened as I (we) navigated this dark season.

All that was familiar was stripped away. We moved from our home of 20 years to a 1-car garage which we slowly transformed (and are still transforming) into a cottage home for us.

One of the many challenges of our move to the cottage was the mud. That's right. Mud. Craig had to grade the area around the garage/house to correct a drainage issue. This scraped off the established grass and left the ground exposed. An unusually rainy fall created a mud pit around the house. 

Craig laid plywood down to try to create a walkway. Without a driveway or parking pad the rain forced us to park farther and farther from the house in search of solid ground. We had to trudge through mud to get back and forth from the house to the car.

For months we lived in a miry pit of mud. Mud clung to our shoes, our clothes, and our dogs. Mud was tracked in to our little house and served as a constant reminder of the upheaval of our lives.

But as people of faith we did what Christians do - we believed by faith that our God is good. And He was using our current difficult circumstances for our good and His glory. He is a good God. He gives good gifts to His children. That's who He says He is. Good. Gracious. Great. Mighty and strong and engaged in the lives of His people.

Knowledge of that steadied our faith walk and strengthened our resolve. Mud and all.

"He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my
feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm."
Psalm 40:2


Posted: 9/1/2011 8:03:03 AM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments