“It Doesn’t Always Work Out…And That’s Okay”

itdoesntalways  Dear Reader:

Can’t we all reflect back on dreams we had that no matter how hard we tried just didn’t work out? At the time we were angry with the universe (and yes, God) for denying us something we really wanted and felt like we deserved and had earned.

It could have been a promotion, a scholarship, a relationship, a job opportunity, a trip….we could go on and on of course.

988 … But then months or years later….we realized that we didn’t get what we wanted because something better was waiting on another path we were supposed to follow. (We weren’t following our hearts the first time…and in the end we might have been financially successful but failed to obtain joy in our life.)

I love the following quote because it reiterates again that we simply must follow our hearts to lead a fulfilling life.

An Amazing Thing Happens
in LIFE QUOTES

An amazing thing happens when you get honest with yourself and start doing what you love, what makes you happy. Your life literally slows down. You stop wishing for the weekend. You stop merely looking forward to special events.

You begin to live in each moment and you start feeling like a human being. You just ride the wave that is life, with this feeling of contentment and joy. You move fluidly, steadily, calm and grateful. A veil is lifted, and a whole new perspective is born

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That is where I am now….a “veil has lifted and a whole new perspective on life has been born in me.” I never know what day it is now…I really have to stop and think….and for the first time I love Sunday evenings (not dreading Mondays) and the early days of the week because it is less crowded when I am out and about….time is kind to me at last.

I am so happy and content working in my garden, being with family and grandchildren, traveling and experiencing new places with old friends….searching for truths hidden from me and delighting in new knowledge and understanding.

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144px-RandyPausch_Wiki_2 Randy Pausch, in The Last Lecture, (2007) comments on dreams and disappointments also….after learning of his own impending fatal diagnosis….pancreatic cancer with only a few months to live.

The Last Lecture (2007)[edit]- Famous Quotes

1) The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.
2) Remember brick walls let us show our dedication. They are there to separate us from the people who don’t really want to achieve their childhood dreams.
3) Never lose the child-like wonder. It’s just too important. It’s what drives us.
4) If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.

5) Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted and sometimes that’s the best thing of all. 

When we think about it…the human side of Jesus didn’t get what he wanted or thought he wanted….the cup lifted from him…the execution spared. But the spiritual side knew and understood the significance and long term “goals” that would change salvation and mankind forever.

So when you think about it…If the Son of God didn’t always get what He wanted…for the wrong reasons…why do we think we should always get our way?

Our journey is a tricky one…but if we keep putting one foot in front of the other…we will have opportunities to fall in love again with the world…opportunities to help our fellow man.

Speaking of…the other day I went to Alessandra’s to pick up a small veggie pizza ( so good)….on the way out….a man was sitting at one of the outdoor cafe tables. He was still waiting on his food and seemed lost in thought…the key word being “lost.” He had a sad expression on his face.

OPZzEONnZIgqhYhLgk_LF0VjD3lpKz2sWD1bN24hzaU I reached into my pocketbook and pulled out a YOU ARE LOVED STICKER and handed him one. I stopped long enough to make eye contact and smile and then walked on to my car. From inside my car I could see him holding the card sticker and a smile now replaced his lost look.

Do you see why I am so happy and so blessed to be where I am on my path through this universe on earth? I get to see flowers and people bloom right in front of me?

So until tomorrow…please know that each and everyone of you is loved…if something doesn’t work out…it is because something better is waiting for you…your path to happiness and joy. Just never give up.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

I forgot to put these pictures of Earth Day on for Tuesday, April 22…officially Earth Day. But hey….”that’s okay…sometimes things just don’t work out and that’s okay.”

Seriously…these pictures blew me away. The series of photographs was to show us how little most of us know about our planet….if I landed in any of these places blindfolded I feel like I would assume I was on a different plant in our galaxy….it is so amazing! Take a few minutes and let them boggle your mind and senses.

On Earth Day, These Photos Remind Us Just How Little We 

*** Just returned this morning from IOP….update of Rutledge…he is doing great….happy as usual….thank goodness a case when everything did work out as hoped and expected. Walsh shared some MUSC pre/post-procedure waiting pictures with me….too cute!

* Like most men after surgery…he just wanted to go home and have a bottle!

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He immediately rallied….and showed off his new wagon to his friends….

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I spent Wednesday with Rutledge, Walsh, and Mollie…spending the night and returning this morning….Rutledge continues to feel better ….it is hard to tell actually since he is almost always happy….sick or not.

img_9956img_9959img_9960img_9961img_9962img_9963img_9964img_9965  A kiss to Rutledge and he was off to Miss Aimees and Boo Boo headed home.

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The Importance of Our “Scar” Stories…

images (3)  Dear Reader:

I sure hope this message (above) is true…it might help the Pearly Gates open…because I sure have some. With three surgeries behind me… which included larger cuts each time… more scars were left.

images (2) I rarely look in the mirror until I have gotten dressed or if I do I just keep the bathroom lamp on…the light diffusion helps mellow the harsh reality of “little c.”

I know the scars are there. I know what they look like…but they don’t define me…so I don’t waste my time grieving about what I no longer have. Instead I relish the new life, the new understanding of life, I have been given…with everyone’s help and support.

images (1)The scars are just a reminder that something unavoidable happened in the past, beyond my control, and yet I am still alive telling my story of God’s love for all of us. A scar means we are living life to the fullest…taking chances at obtaining joy and spiritual understanding while willing to endure set-backs… with “scars” of hope for the future.

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When I discovered the following true story…it was such a beautiful modern metaphor for the sacrifice Jesus made for us…for the living…for life. I wanted to share it with you. (Brooke…I think you will be able to identify quite closely with the story!)

Twinkle Twinkle Little Scar”

I can think of no better modern-day illustration of the sacrifice Jesus made for us than a recent scar story I heard from a tennis friend of mine. As we were waiting for another match to finish, she was relating how badly her knees hurt. This friend is the most fit 30-something-year-old I know. Yet she sat beside me with a brace on each knee. I pointed to the open hole of her knee brace and asked if her scar was from knee surgery. She told me, “No, it’s from my son, and I actually have an identical scar on my other knee.”

You see, several years ago she scooped up her toddler son from the swimming pool and began to walk towards a lounge chair. As she stepped onto the tiled patio, her foot slipped on the wet slick surface. She was also seven months pregnant, and it was one of those moments where you feel like you’re moving in slow motion but there’s nothing you can do to stop the fall.

Within a split second, she knew her momentum was toppling her forward, and she could either face-plant and land on top of both her son and her unborn child, or she could fall on her knees.

Of course, as any loving parent would do, she chose to fall on her knees directly onto the unforgiving concrete. Her knees immediately burst open and blood went everywhere. She ended up needing stitches, which resulted in scars, but her son and unborn child were both unscathed.

It is hard for me to tell this story without tearing up, because to me, it serves as a miniscule example of the immense sacrifice and love of Jesus Christ for us. You see, we are the beloved children of God for whom Jesus took the fall. Christ suffered on the cross and endured unimaginable pain for us. His is the greatest scar story ever told.

Christi O’Brown…Scars of Hope

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So until tomorrow..Let a day not go by that we don’t remember our own scar stories of hope… but more importantly remember the “greatest scar story” ever told.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

img_9909 Rutledge has now borne his first scars…physically hidden…but quite emotional… for moms and dads, of course. He came through like a champ, though, and hopefully this will improve his ear health for a long time.

Thank you for all your positive comments and prayers (the power of prayer never fails)…once again the greatest surgeon of all was in control…God.

 

 

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Influence of Art on Religion

ImageProxy (1)  Dear Reader:

A devotional I read each day by Rebecca…called Dwelling in the Word…talked yesterday about the influence art (in a church) can make on the very young at impressionable ages. It reminds us that selection of art pieces should be carefully considered before placement.

In this case, however, it was a warm memory that lingered and in hindsight guided the way this young girl (Rebecca) thought about her place in God’s World. A very positive influence.

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When I was a child our family went to Rose Grove Lutheran, a small church and cemetery out in the farmland of Hamilton County, Iowa. (My parents were married there in 1946; my mother was buried there in 1999.) A stained glass mural behind the altar showed Jesus appearing to Mary Magadelene following his death — Mary was reaching for the risen Lord just outside the tomb — and she was facing the Lord with such joy on her face.

I have never forgotten that stained glass mural. Now, half a century later, I realize it has continued to impact my life in several ways:

1) a fervent interest in the women of the Bible;

2) a grateful heart because Jesus knows my name, just as He knew Mary’s;

3) a strong belief that the death and resurrection of Christ is the foundation of a life of significance;

4) a deep confidence that the Lord is the source of true joy; and

5) a bold proclamation which I learned from Mary and from Job — “I know that my Redeemer lives!”

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I started remembering my own impressions of art work in Fayetteville, North Carolina and later (as a teenager) in Laurens, South Carolina… while growing up in the fifties and sixties. We had the standard Jesus painting  that most Protestant churches used back then….

It wasn’t until I was a teenager and we had a Sunday School lesson on the many different faces of Jesus…that it dawned on me that Christ most likely didn’t look like the one I grew up seeing.

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But that was okay by then….no matter what His real physical appearance was…it was the kind, serene face that drew me to Him…especially His compassionate eyes and they are always universal.

Children have an uncanny ability to see through adults. They can spot a “fake” before other adults can. And children were drawn and still are drawn to Jesus.

I remember every time we would sing “Jesus Loves Me“…I would look at a picture tacked to the wall of the Sunday School class…showing children gathered around Jesus and I knew that He was a good man…someone who was kind, compassionate, gentle, and trustworthy. Not having a father…I wanted Him to be my daddy when I was little….and I still do…my Father!

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I do have to smile at the stereotypical white Caucasian Jesus we fifties kids came to know and love.

Today we see more diversified pictures to meet the changing world…children from around the world gathered around Jesus. The world changes…but Jesus stays the same.

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I remember, as a teenager, I never could figure out one stained glass window in our church. From the pew that our family sat on…it looked like a woman at the beach on her knees beside an anchor. I thought that sure was a strange stained glass window for a church.

It wasn’t until my brother David died and I returned home… years later to the church that I walked up close to examine it and discovered it was Jesus, not a woman sitting on a beach. He was on His knees because He was praying beside the water….and the anchor symbolized His role in our lives. Mystery solved.

And speaking of mysteries involving artwork….eighty years before Dan Brown came up with his controversial but best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code….a painting in a church in Scotland had already raised the same question in 1906.

Sacred Connections

(The intriguing mystery of a stained glass window in Kilmore Church, Dervaig, on the Scottish Isle of Mull by Barry Dunford)

In the small village of Dervaig, which translates from the gaelic as “little grove”, on the Scottish western Isle of Mull, is to be found a church with an unusual architectural style and feature. The present Kilmore Church (Church of Mary) was built in 1905 on an earlier religious site. It was constructed with a peculiarly distinct round tower feature.

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Inside Kilmore Church are to be found seven very striking stained glass windows, one of which in particular reveals a remarkable symbolism. This particular stained glass window appears to date from 1906, one year after the construction of the church itself, and was produced by Stephen Adam, a leading Scottish stained glass artist who died in 1910.

Although it is not known for certain who commissioned the design for this extraordinary stained glass window, its remarkable symbolic representation can hardly have escaped the attention of Stephen Adam, the stained glass artist responsible, who nevertheless agreed to carry out this explosively symbolic portrayal.

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This striking stained glass window shows a young man portrayed with the usual features attributed to Jesus (including the traditional Nazarite central parting of the hair) with a halo above his head, holding hands with a woman without a halo. The woman can clearly be seen to be portrayed pregnant with her girdle painted below her abdomen rather than around her waist.

The key as to the identity of this woman is made plain by the gospel text which appears immediately below the pregnant woman. It reads: “Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her”. This statement, made by Christ himself, which directly relates to Mary Magdalen, sometimes referred to as Mary of Bethany, can be found in the Gospel of Luke, ch.10, v.42. The complete relevant text from Luke, ch.10, v.38-42, reads as follows:

38. “Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
40. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42. But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

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It is clear from the inclusion of this highly pertinent Gospel text that the couple holding hands in this enigmatic stained glass window are none other than Jesus and Mary Magdalen. It is also intriguing that this stained glass window dates from eighty years prior to the genre of books published from the mid-1980′s onwards which allude to a possible holy marriage and sacred union between Jesus and Mary Magdalen and a succeeding Holy Bloodline.

So key questions remain: who commissioned this extraordinary symbolic stained glass window which runs quite contrary to conventional Christian theology? And why was it placed in a Christian church on the Scottish western Isle of Mull?

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The power of art….from admiration to abhorrence to ambiguity…each piece of artwork tells a story…one which we all have to decipher for ourselves… as being real or not…and the influence it can shed on us… negatively or positively.

So until tomorrow Father…may we continue to learn through music, art, and the written language as we call on You to lead us to the Truth which “will set us free.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

img_9901 *** This morning at 7:30 our little Rutledge will have his ear tubes put in so hopefully he can get off the antibiotics and shots he has endured to date…with a smile of course. The procedure will take place in the RUTLEDGE building at MUSC.

The family would appreciate prayers for the procedure… that Rutledge will emerge with the best “bunny ears” ever!

* Ah…you know it is the day after Easter when you find the one egg that didn’t get discovered….thank goodness it is plastic!

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I went to Walgreens yesterday and made some “hard” copies of the updated family Easter picture by the moon gate to send everyone. Then I took a snap shot of mine to put in the family frame which had been waiting for over a year for the latest picture.

But this time the light must have caught it like a prism when I took the snap shot because it looks like colorful ghosts and spirits are floating around us……Boo!

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Different scenes from the garden I haven’t shown you yet….

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Remember the rose bush that had one bloom last week… and I mentioned it was covered with buds….look what a few rainy cool days produced….

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Walsh sent some Easter pictures in…..more fun.

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Jesus’ s Light Still Towers Over the World

images  Dear Reader:

The Bible always wins the top number one spot on the best seller list and Jesus can share in that honor since (without His presence) there would be no New Testament.

After Jesus died and rose again from the dead….He made several appearances to friends and disciples for forty days…(Passover to 10 days before Pentecost)…forty (as we know) is a number revered in the Bible.)

But even now with his physical appearance being absent for over 2000 years…He is still voted by modern day polls annually as the most influential man to live on earth.

I was thinking about that the other day….we are a country of lists…we love lists and poll outcomes. I don’t think Jesus would be very interested in human poll results..understanding the fickleness of man…but still it is amazing that a man who only lived 33 years….and then only three years of that in ministry could have formed a religion (Christianity) that has billions of followers today.

And what about time….according to human time-lines (in reference to dates and calendars)…it completely changed…all because of one man….b.c. and a.d. How amazing!

Jesus wouldn’t make Forbes magazine top richest in the world or country (if He lived now) because He would have given all His possessions away…but I can see Him making Time magazine…and He has- in fact… seven times over the last six years. Here are two examples:

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One reporter decided to go back in time to Palm Sunday and pretend that Jesus made the cover of Time Magazine in 0033. He compares Jesus to modern day politics….

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Inside the magazine: Dateline Jerusalem, April 13, 0033

Here He comes! Everyone in Jerusalem is talking about Him.

He was just voted the most popular and the most influential man in Israel for the past year, beating out both the high priest Caiaphas and Herod. He has been hailed as the Son of David, the King of Israel! He is the enormously popular new rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth.

At today’s Jerusalem rally, adoring crowds roared, “Hosanna!”

“We really think that Jesus can make a difference. He’ll change things around here,” said one observer.

“Jesus is great,” said another, “We’ve been waiting for this moment since that time in the desert when he multiplied the bread. Just think what this will do for the economy!”

“And we can stop worrying about affordable health care,” said another, “because he can just cure everybody. Problem solved!”

There is still no official confirmation of the report that Jesus is about to declare his candidacy for “Messiah,” but his approval ratings in the polls have never been higher. There is no doubt that the Jesus Effect is being felt everywhere. He is the most popular rabbi in the world.

Even the opposition seems to recognize the fact. Leading Pharisees are reportedly saying to one another, “You see that you [i.e. we] are gaining nothing. Look, the whole world has gone after him” (John 12:19).

Nevertheless, the opposition coalition of Pharisees, scribes, and priests continues their nightly strategy sessions, and there are some reports that indicate they may have established contact with a disgruntled high ranking member of the Jesus Campaign. So this story may yet contain some surprises.

As of now, Pontius Pilate’s office has made no comment.

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John Ortberg, Senior Presbyterian Minister/Menlo Park wrote this interesting article for the Huffington Post titled: Six Surprising Ways Jesus Changed the World. 

* I will give you the list and then short preface of the article and finally provide you with the link if you would like to take time to read it later. It provided me with lots of information and thoughts I never would have considered as a result of Christ’s short life on earth.

1) Children (their lowly status changed because of Jesus as many famous orphanages and care-giving facilities were created as a direct result of his instruction to honor and care for children)

2) Education (The first legislation to publicly fund education in the colonies was called The Old Deluder Satan Act, under the notion that God does not want any child ignorant. The ancient world loved education but tended to reserve it for the elite; the notion that every child bore God’s image helped fuel the move for universal literacy.)

3) Compassion (Jesus had a universal concern for those who suffered that transcended the rules of the ancient world. His compassion for the poor and the sick led to institutions for lepers, the beginning of modern-day hospitals.)

4) Humility (The ancient world honored many virtues like courage and wisdom, but not humility. People were generally divided into first class and coach. “Rank must be preserved,” said Cicero; each of the original 99 percent was a personis mediocribus. Plutarch wrote a self-help book that might crack best-seller lists in our day: How to Praise Yourself Inoffensively.)

5. Forgiveness (In the ancient world, virtue meant rewarding your friends and punishing your enemies. Conan the Barbarian was actually paraphrasing Ghengis Khan in his famous answer to the question “what is best in life?” — To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women.)

6. Humanitarian Reform ( Jesus had a way of championing the excluded that was often downright irritating to those in power. His inclusion of women led to a community to which women flocked in disproportionate numbers. Slaves–up to a third of ancient populations–might wander into a church fellowship and have a slave-owner wash their feet rather than beat them. One ancient text instructed bishops to not interrupt worship to greet a wealthy attender, but to sit on the floor to welcome the poor. The apostle Paul said: “Now there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, male and female, but all are one in Christ Jesus.” Thomas Cahill wrote that this was the first statement of egalitarianism in human literature.)

John Ortberg: Six Surprising Ways Jesus Changed The W

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Personally I find it hard to believe that anyone, religious or not, would be able to explain the on-going and continuously growing “popularity” of Jesus and Christianity 2000 years after the death of a poor carpenter’s son… without God’s Hand in the midst.

So until tomorrow…Let us continue to wonder in awe at the significance of Christianity and the influence of Christ still in our world today. Thank you God for your Son’s sacrifice for us.

“Today in my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* I like this poem written in 1926 by a pastor named Dr. James Allan

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty

He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself

He was only thirty three

His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth

When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend

Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life

Dr James Allan © 1926.

* Can you believe it…once again…the weather cleared (in the 11th hour) and the Easter lunch was on the deck with the egg hunt in the garden? God is really good! Perfect timing!

* The Dingle crew was very “joyful” in church yesterday….Rutledge added a lot of smiles and joyful sounds…he entertained many congregational members. Eva Cate made it through the whole service for the first time (Go girl)…

img_988810294484_10152324393151001_8883373226974221489_nimg_9890img_9893img_9891img_9892 (It was nice to hear Kaitlyn’s beautiful voice behind me…It helped me “kinda” stay on key better! ( meaning better than my usual croaking!)

On the way home the skies began to clear and the sun played peek a boo the rest of the day but no rain. Hallelujah again!  We did it….a picture of the whole family in front of the Moon Gate!

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A day for the memories….good food, good laughter, and good sunshine! Easter 2014!

img_9897img_9899img_9900img_9909  Thank goodness for Kaitlyn  pitching in with the grandchildren…help is always welcome! Thank you pretty girl!

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Rutledge was partied out….it was time to go….but a memorable 2014 Easter Day was given to us all. One last Hallelujah for family!

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The Legend of the Dogwood Tree

the-dogwood-flower-patricia-l-davidson-  Dear Reader:

I thought this year since it is my first Easter with my garden…I would tell the legend that accompanies the Easter Story from the newest addition to my garden…the dogwood tree.

 

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I actually came across this idea from a mother on Pinterest who posted artwork from her son, Daniel, after hearing an old poem his father remembered and shared with him …The father memorized it every Easter in Sunday School while growing up. The poem goes like this:

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Legend of the Dogwood Tree

In Jesus time, the dogwood grew
To a stately size and a lovely hue.
‘Twas strong and firm it’s branches interwoven
For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen.

Seeing the distress at this use of their wood
Christ made a promise that still holds good:
“Never again shall the dogwood grow
Large enough to be used so….
Slender and twister, it shall be
With blossoms like the cross for all to see.

As blood stains the petals marked in reddish brown
The blossom’s center wears a thorny crown.
All who see it will remember me
Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree.
Cherished and protected this tree shall be
A reminder to all of my agony.”

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The story behind The Old Legend of the Dogwood is full of intrigue…

Two thousand years ago, few trees in the Middle East were not big enough to construct anything. However, one tree was valued above the others for its thick trunk and fine, strong wood. When the Romans came to rule over Jerusalem, their government used this same timber to build the crosses for executing criminals.

A group of workers were assigned to gather wood for the crosses. Before long, every Roman official knew the best wood came from these gatherers of execution wood, so those workers became popular.

One day, the wood gatherers received a special request. An officer of the Roman court came and said, “The King of Jews is to be put to death. Deliver an extra-large cross made from your finest wood.” So, a fresh tree was cut from the forest of the trees with thick trunks and fine, strong wood. An extra-tall (and extra-heavy) cross was quickly made and delivered.

Three days after the death of Jesus of Nazereth, the chief wood gatherer got alarming news. “All of our finest trees are withering!” the messenger whispered. The wood gatherer hurried to the forest and saw that it was true.

Several years later, the chief wood gatherer heard that, every spring, many people visited the old forest that had once made his job so easy. Despite his advancing years, he set out to discover why. He saw the remains of forest, now like a salty bottoms, with only a few trees still standing tall, baked, lifeless and rotting.

But what was this? As he drew closer, his feeble eyes could make out the people walking among thousands of beautiful, flowering bushes. Seeing one of his own workers there, the old man said, “No one could ever make a cross out of this twisted wood. Our finest tree has gone to the dogs!”

flat,550x550,075,f He noticed the beautiful white flowers, each blossom looking as if it had been burned from the touch of a miniature cross.

So…an old and beautiful legend has it that, at the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood was comparable in size to the oak tree and other monarchs of the forest. Because of its firmness and strength it was selected as the timber for the cross, but to be put to such a cruel use greatly distressed the tree.

Sensing this, the crucified Jesus in his gentle pity for the sorrow and suffering of all said to it: “Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings, never again will the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a gibbet. Henceforth it will be slender, bent and twisted and its blossoms will be in the form of a cross — two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints — brown with rust and stained with red— and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, so all who see this… will remember.

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So until tomorrow….Hallelujah…the Lord is Risen! The angels rejoiced and so should we. What a gift…the gift of life…eternal!

“Today is my FAVORITE day!”  Winnie the Pooh

*In spite of the rain and cool weather…the garden seems quite busy preparing to celebrate the risen Lord! Blooms continue to unfold…to show the beauty of life God gave us and Jesus extended for us…eternally. Giving us the moon and the stars since He is God’s Son!

img_9880 The latest bloomers!img_9885img_9884img_9883img_9882img_9881  Added a solar light under the gazing ball Joan sent me for Christmas…at twilight it is beautiful!

I have a new umbrella for the table/deck…the other one kept breaking and flying off like Mary Poppins…Tim added some lights to it which included Mandy’s butterfly lights she gave me for the garden last year….it looks so pretty in the evening…even with a shower.

But I, especially,  felt it was an appropriate ending to the Easter blog…light…Christ rose with the sunrise…the light called Him back to us where He lives today…in our hearts.

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The Angels’ Grief over the Suffering of Christ

carl-bloch-gethsemane-angel-comforting-jesus

Dear Reader:

I love this picture of the angel God sent to comfort His son when He could not… in the Garden of Gethsemane…to give His Son the strength to die for the sins of all of us.

For those of you who had time to read the article from the link Ambika sent a couple of days ago…I know you were humbled by the immense anguish Jesus endured that night in the garden.

I think I understood for the first time the connection between the timing of Jesus’ famous statement to His Father and the appearance of the angel by his side to comfort him in the garden.

Author Whitney Hopler explains the relationship between the angel, God, and Christ in His hours of anguish and terror in the following article…here are some excerpts.

Jesus went through an intense spiritual battle in the garden, struggling with the temptation to save himself rather than following through with God’s plan for him. The Bible says that Jesus came to Earth to save people from sin in a fallen world. Jesus’ ministry was to culminate by sacrificing himself on the cross to make it possible for sinful people to connect to a holy God through him.

He was in anguish as the time approached for him to die a torturous death, so God sent an angel from heaven to the garden to strengthen Jesus.

But God didn’t intervene until he heard His Son’s famous statement:

The story continues in Luke 22:41-43: “He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’” An angel from heaven then appeared to him and strengthened him.”

The Bible says that Jesus was both God and human, and the human part of Jesus’ nature showed when Jesus struggled to accept God’s will: something every person on Earth does sometimes. Jesus honestly admits that he wants God to “take this cup” [take away the suffering involved in God’s plan], showing people that’s fine to honestly express difficult thoughts and feelings to God.

But Jesus chose to be faithful to God’s plan, trusting that it really was best, when he prayed: “yet not my will, but yours be done.” As soon as Jesus prays those words, God sends an angel to strengthen Jesus, illustrating the Bible’s promise that God will always empower people do whatever he calls them to do.

Even though Jesus had a divine nature as well as a human one, according to the Bible, he still benefited from angelic help. The angel (likely an archangel, who some people believe was Chamuel), likely strengthened Jesus both physically and emotionally to prepare him for the intense demands that awaited him at the crucifixion.

Jesus implies both physical and emotional suffering when he tells his disciples before praying in the garden: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Mark 14:34).

“This angel performed a vital ministry for Christ just prior to His going to the cross to die for the sins of humankind,” writes Ron Rhodes in his book Angels Among Us: Separating Fact from Fiction.

Just a few minutes later, Roman authorities arrive to arrest Jesus, and one of Jesus’ disciples tries to defend Jesus by cutting off the ear of one of the men in the group. But Jesus responds this way: “‘Put your sword back in its place,’” Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.

Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:52-54).

Jesus was saying that he could have called upon many thousands of angels to help him out of that situation, since each Roman legion typically contained several thousand soldiers. However…Jesus chose not to accept help from the angels because that was against God’s will.

In his book Angels: God Secret Agents, Billy Graham writes: “The angels would have come to the cross to rescue the King of kings, but because of His love for the human race and because He knew it was only through His death that they could be saved, He refused to call for their help. The angels were under orders not to intervene at this terrible, holy moment. Even the angels could not minister to the Son of God at Calvary. He died alone in order to take the full death penalty you and I deserved.”

For the angels…the experience of watching Him die without being allowed to help him was excruciating. * For me the idea of angels watching us but not being able to help us must be so difficult…but we know God does allow our guardian angels to appear just when we most need advice.

As Jesus moved forward with God’s plan, he was crucified on the cross in view of all the angels who watch what happens on Earth.

Ron Rhodes writes in his book Angels Among Us: “Perhaps most difficult of all, the angels saw Jesus when he was mocked, cruelly scourged, and his face marred and dishonored. Legions of angels likely hovered about him, wincing in pain as this all occurred. Jesus knew he could have called upon these angels to rescue him (Matthew 26:53), but the scriptures had to be fulfilled: He had to die on the cross.

All heaven must have been affected by what was transpiring on this tiniest of planets in the universe. Creation’s Lord was being put to death for the creature’s sin!

 

Finally the work was done. The work of redemption had been completed. And just before his death, Jesus triumphantly cried, ‘It is finished!’ (John 19:30). These words must have echoed throughout the entire angelic realm: “It is finished … It is finished … It is finished!” For  the angels, Christ,  God and all of us sinners….Hallelujah!

……………………….

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In this 1995 novel Lucado concentrates on the view of the angels watching in distress and dismay the final days of Jesus’ life….leading up to His death upon the cross. The excerpts I read were excellent and showing us that we are connected to everything and everyone…even the angels.

Going back to the idea of the 12 legions of angels at Christ’s disposal (throughout the whole horrible procedure leading up to his torturous death)…. reminded me of several scenes from the 1998 movie….City of Angels starring Meg Ryan and Nicolas Cage.

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Nicholas Cage plays the part of an angel who falls in love with a mortal…Meg Ryan. In the movie we see legions of angels and do you remember where they stay during the day? In public libraries…I loved that metaphor on learning. We were taught in seminars and workshops that we, as teachers, should all be life-time learners and promote that in our students…but I think, spiritually,  we are eternal learners…don’t you?

And as seen in the movie cover above…I loved the scene where the angels gathered together at the ocean for each sunrise and sunset daily. Those are the times we mere mortals feel God’s Presence the most… and maybe that explains those intense feelings of awe and appreciation for God’s love. We are watching with angels.

img_9872 Thursday evening (for the first time) the solar reading angel’s book started to glow as the sun set. I was thrilled…I ran and put her on the new bench by a beautiful plant and sat across from her just watching her expression by the light of the book she is holding.

Her expression is one of intensity but also one of peace…perhaps she is reading the Bible…and realizing, like this old learner, just how much we owe Christ for what He did for us. He provided us with the famous ending phrase ” And they (he/she) lived happily ever after.” 

So until tomorrow…let us all remember the “magic” words in our encounters with God….”Not my will, but Yours be done.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* Look at this beautiful round table cloth Anne loaned me for Easter Sunday lunch on the deck (hopefully!!!) Rain Rain go away…come again another day…and not Easter Day.

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Finding the Cross Again…

aydin_story  Dear Reader:

Good Friday. Finding the cross again… When I reflect upon my personal journey to date…I have strayed from Christ and the Cross throughout it.  But, still, I believe, that like a labyrinth…in order for us to finally find the center we must sometimes “orbit” out… before we can come back in.

I think this is true of all of us…at least most of us as Christians …there is no straight path back to the Cross. Yet each of our spiritual paths are constantly orbiting around it and leading us back to the Cross in the end…

Today, of course, Good Friday…is the day of the Cross. It is the day Jesus died on it for our sins and everlasting life. The enormity of this sacrifice increases each year of my life…as my understanding and appreciation grows simultaneously.

 

When I found this following Guidepost story about a family cross that was lost and years later miraculously found….I realized that metaphorically this is all our stories. We stay lost on and off through our spiritual journey through life…but in the end, we too, are miraculously found again.

I hope you enjoy the story.

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“Lost and Found…the Cross Within” 

Today the cross sits inside a display case in Vienna, Austria. But for many years it had a much humbler home. Sewn carefully underneath the silk lining of my dad’s wool blazer, below the left pocket.

Back in 1962, he was a teen-ager in southeastern Turkey about to embark on his first real journey away from home, to attend high school six hours away, in the city of Diyarbakir.

It was no ordinary cross. For centuries, the Aydins had been known as “the family of priests” in their small town. The cross was a cherished heirloom; the top opened to reveal a hollow chamber where a sliver from the Holy Rood, Christ’s original cross, was said to have once been kept.

By the time the cross reached my dad, it had survived two world wars, revolutions and the genocide during which two million Armenians and other Christian minorities were forced from their historic homeland in Turkey.

Growing up, he’d watched his father–a priest in the Syriac Orthodox Church–use it to bless parishioners every Sunday. He couldn’t believe it when, the night before he left for school, his mother showed him how she’d sewn it into his freshly pressed jacket.

After all, he wasn’t a priest, or even planning to become one.

“It will protect you,” his mother said. She didn’t need to explain why. He’d won a scholarship to attend one of Diyarbakir’s most prestigious high schools. But among thousands of students, he would be the only Christian.

He quickly became a target. His classmates called him names. It took him a long time to make friends. The city was violent too. One day during his first semester, he witnessed a murder on his way home from the library.

Yet the cross protected him, just as his mother promised. He grew accustomed to the extra weight on the left side of his jacket. Whenever he was nervous or about to take a test, he would touch the spot where the cross was concealed, close to his heart.

He made it to the top of his class and planned to take the cross with him on his next journey–to America for college.

Then one day, just before graduation, he returned to his dorm and found the door of his locker hanging open, the lock broken on the floor. Frantic, he pulled his jacket out. The lining was ripped. The cross was gone...

My dad was devastated. The whole family was. Except my grandfather, who took a more philosophical view. “Someone else must have needed its protection,” he said. Perhaps another priest. Not one of his seven sons had entered the priesthood–the line of clergymen ended with him.

My dad moved to the United States and started college. He became an engineer, married and settled down in New York. Most of his family stayed in Turkey, moving across the Bosporus to Istanbul, on the other side of the country from Diyarbakir.

His oldest brother, Sabo, opened a jewelry shop in Istanbul’s famous Grand Bazaar, the world’s oldest mall, spread out over a warren of more than 60 streets. Thousands of shops and stalls, brimming with handwoven rugs, jewel-colored lanterns, dazzling silks and every kind of spice imaginable.

Most days, Sabo entered the bazaar through the South Gate, closest to his shop.

One spring morning in 1974, he took a different route and entered the bazaar by the North Gate. Sabo walked through the covered market, ignoring the vendors clamoring for his attention–“A good price for you, sir!” “Fresh baklava!”–then stopped.

Something glimmered in the window of a quiet little antique shop.

“Where did you get that silver cross?” Sabo asked the shopkeeper.

“That? It’s been in the window for years,” the man said. “I can’t sell it. No one will even go near it.”

Sabo picked it up, wiping away the dust. He found the little loop at its end and lifted the top, revealing the hidden chamber. There was no mistaking it. The Aydin family cross!

“How much?” he said.

“I’ll give you a good price,” the shopkeeper said. “You’re the first person to even ask.”

Sabo rushed out of the shop, the cross tucked safely in his jacket pocket. He couldn’t wait to tell his father. After 10 years, after a journey of nearly 1,000 miles, the cross had come back to the family of priests.

Right on time too. My dad’s cousin, and best friend, Emanuel, had just been ordained in Vienna. A priest in need of a cross. A very special cross, the Aydin cross.

………………………………..

 So until tomorrow…Isn’t it the most wonderful feeling in the world to find something of sentimental value when you had given up hope of ever seeing it again? I think that is what we will all feel when we return home to be with God…filled with joy that we are back in the center of the universe with our Creator.

* I have always loved these three beautiful lines from T.S. Eliot that say:

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And to know the place for the first time.

……………………………..

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*img_9861 When I woke up yesterday morning this beautiful butterfly had just crawled out of a pot of flowers on the deck. It looked stunned…like someone had rudely awakened it from sleep. (I think it was just still recouping from the cold night)

After taking its picture I checked on it about an hour later and it was gone…hopefully to flitter around my garden and add beauty to it.

img_9862  The newest addition to the garden…a dogwood tree. I am pulling for it…the Japanese red maple is sure doing well!

img_9864  I decided to decorate my wreaths…ordered two blue letter B’s for each door and found these beautiful eggs at Tuesday Morning.

img_9866  Big Red is in her glory and Anne showed me “Little” Red at lunch yesterday…it looked like touch and go for a few days but today…one green leaf had sprouted…Junior has good “roots”….hope it will make it.

My moon flowers and morning glories are starting to climb…so excited.

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 Ambika provided us a link about Jesus’s last days….thank you so much Ambika…now I want to pass it on to you.

* After reading this article I now know the answer to the question: “What is the worst thing you can imagine happening to you?”  The answer: Being separated from God.

http://www.endoftheworldprophecy.com/The-Truth-about-Jesus-in-the-garden-of-Gethsemane.asp

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The Dead Bless Us

images  Dear Reader:

With today being Maundy Thursday…my thoughts are a little more somber than usual…they flash back to the Last Supper, Jesus praying at Gethsemane, the betrayal… all the incidences of despair, loneliness, and doubt leading up to his execution. Jesus was putting himself through every human feeling dealing with fear…of the unknown. For us.

Yet…have you ever thought that it is the dead who want to also help us through this beautiful but sometimes terrifying stage called life. After all they are the ones who have returned home and no longer feel despair, loneliness, and doubt. They live in joy.

John O’Donohue takes the creative perspective of the dead and describes what they would tell us if they could…and how they continue to help us every day. It touched and comforted me…I hope it does you. (Anam Cara)

This blog is for “Dee-Dee” Miriam Dingle who was the best mother-in-law a girl could hope for….and a blessing beyond blessings as a grandmother to my three children and all her other grandchildren. She loved them all!

THE DEAD BLESS US

I feel that our friends amongst the dead really mind us and look out for us. Often there might be a big boulder of misery over your path about to fall on you, but your friends, among the dead, hold it back until you have passed by.

One of the exciting developments that may happen in evolution and in human consciousness in the next several hundred years is a whole new relationship with the invisible, eternal world. We might begin to link up in a very creative way with our friends in the invisible world.

We do not need to grieve for the dead. Why should we grieve for them? They are now in a place where there is no more shadow, darkness, loneliness, isolation or pain. They are home. They are with God from whom they came. They have returned to the nest of their identity within the great circle of God. God is the greatest circle of all, the largest embrace in the universe which holds visible and invisible, temporal and eternal as one.
There are lovely stories in the Irish tradition of a person dying and then meeting all their old friends. This is expressed powerfully in a wonderful novel by Mairtin Ó’Cadhain called Cré na Cille. This is about life in a graveyard and all that happens between the people buried there. In the eternal world, all is one.

In spiritual space there is no distance. In eternal time there is no segmentation into today, yesterday or tomorrow. In eternal time all is now; time is presence.

I believe that this is what eternal life means: it is a life where all that we seek, goodness, unity, beauty, truth and love, are no longer distant from us but are now completely present with us.

There is a lovely poem by R. S. Thomas on the notion of eternity. It is deliberately minimal in form but very powerful:

I think that maybe
I will be a little surer
of being a little nearer.
That’s all. Eternity
is in the understanding
 that little is more than enough.

Kahlil Gibran articulates how the unity in friendship, that we call the anam cara, overcomes even death: ‘You were born together, and together you shall be for evermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.’

I would like to end this chapter with a lovely prayer poem from thirteen-century Persia.

Some nights stay up till dawn as the
moon sometimes does for the sun.
Be a full bucket, pulled up the dark
way of a well then lifted out into light.
Something opens our wings, something makes
boredom and hurt disappear.
Someone fills the cup in front of us, we taste
only sacredness.

………………………………….

So until tomorrow….I love the thought that our loved ones, on the other side, still look out for us, care for us…..bless us…as we do them.

” Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* We made the Easter Egg Hunt…and guess what….we were in a large open field surrounded by trees and it was delightful…we didn’t freeze…in fact we had to start taking off layers. We had a great time, met old friends, and made new ones.

Eva Cate got her hair done right before the hunt…too cute. She had a marvelous time…lots of bouncy castles and eggs which she shared with cousin Rutledge and the gang who missed their Easter egg hunt.

Rutledge didn’t know or care about that…he just had a good time with all his “lady friends”…he just couldn’t figure out what all the commotion is about…the plastic egg didn’t taste good, so he tried leaves/grass, and then the basket itself….not terribly impressed but a good sport about his first “hunt.”

img_9808img_9810img_9811img_9812img_9814I taught Pam Bailey (mom) in the eighth grade….so good to see her and her two precious girls.

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img_9859 * Beginning….so appropriate for today’s thoughts….death is a new beginning. But also, upon my return home, several flowers had produced their first blooms…a new beginning for the garden….

img_9854 Lo, how my rose bush is blooming…first bud to open… the rose bush (left in the pot) defied all the odds of the cold winter and ice storm…. it is just filled with buds.

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Peeking at the Back of the Book

download (1)  Dear Reader:

Isn’t it too tempting some times (not to) turn to the back pages and discover the conclusion to the book we are reading? There are different reasons why we do this. Sometimes…the book is boring and we don’t want to waste our time reading the whole thing….just see the ending.

Other times, though (perhaps it is a mystery novel) we can’t resist trying to see if our guess for “Who dunnit” is right. We just can’t wait to see the mystery solved.

Isn’t that the same thing when we all consider our own personal/physical endings? Did God really create the world, did He create us, does He truly love us, will we go to be with Him and see our loved ones who have gone before? In other words… is the “Who Dunnit” question finally answered by God?

Most of us would like to see it written down in concrete and answered completely. And guess what…it is….through Holy Scripture.

I love the following anecdote that shares this same train of thought.

“I’ve Peeked at the Back of the Book”

A new pastor was visiting one of his church members who was in the hospital. The pastor was a young man, fresh out of seminary and still wet behind the ears as a minister. He was visiting this elderly man named Joe, and Joe was extremely ill.

He wanted to talk to his pastor about his funeral service and the pastor wanted to talk about anything else – the weather, football, politics, or anything else he could think of. Finally, the pastor asked, “Joe, doesn’t it bother you? Aren’t you frightened?”

Joe smiled and said, “Preacher, I know I’m not going to make it, but I’m not afraid. I have a confession to make. I’ve taken a peek at the back of the book.” “What do you mean?” the minister asked.

Joe said, “You didn’t know me 10 years ago when I had my first heart attack. They called it cardiac arrest. I can remember the medical team thinking I was dead. I can also remember the tremendous feeling of being surrounded by God’s love. I was revived by the doctors, but ever since that day I have been unafraid to die.

I’ve been there and it doesn’t frighten me. I know that one day soon I am going to go to sleep and I believe that when I awaken, I will, once again, be surrounded by God’s love.”

This is the message of the first Easter and every Easter since. The tomb is empty. Christ is risen. Jesus is alive. And because of this, we too, shall live!

Robert L. Allen, His Finest Days: Ten Sermons for Holy Week and the Easter Season, CSS Publishing Company  …………………………………………………………………………………….

I love the idea of laurel wreaths on the tombs of Christians….a true tradition of old.

“Graveyard Wreaths”

If you had been living in the Roman Empire in the first century, you would have noticed a strange custom practiced by the Christians. They would go out to their graveyards with laurel wreaths, the wreaths that had been used in Greek and Roman culture to crown the victors of athletic contests.

They would take those laurel wreaths and place them on the graves. If you had asked them why, they would say, “Because we believe that in Jesus Christ we have received victory over the power of death.”

Mark Trotter, Collected Sermons, http://www.Sermons.com………………………………………………..

So until tomorrow….may we be reassured that all the pages, not just the last one in the Bible, confirm our Creation’s “Who Dunnit” mystery…God…the answer at the beginning and ending.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*Ambika sent me a song that she thought went right along with the theme of Blessing….our Irish poem from Tuesday. Enjoy! Thank you Ambika for taking the time to find this perfect accompaniment.

Blessings - Laura Story (with lyrics) - YouTube

* With our coats on today…Mandy, Mollie, Eva Cate,  Rutledge and I are going to the Palmetto Water Park for a rather chilly Easter Egg Hunt. Regardless of the weather…it will be fun!

Rutledge dropped by Monday night to visit while Walsh and Mollie attended a church class meeting at a friend’s house.

Eva Cate was both caregiver and sneak photographer for the evening.

img_9797Gender characteristics must be built in….Rutledge loves Mickey Mouse and the “Hot Diggity” song…he danced to it and turned the ipad to see more…plus crawling to all the remotes to change channels.

img_9799Eva Cate wrapped Rutledge up like a papoose and rocked him back and forth to put him to sleep….Rutledge quite enjoyed it and was bug-eyed…no sleeping when he was rocking so quickly.

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A little off center…but not bad for a young photographer.

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Rutledge fell in love with Tinker Bell too….love the leg position….our adorable little man.

 

 

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Beannacht- Blessing

images  Dear Reader:

What if we could imagine a world where blessings fall like rain upon the earth…sprinkling all of us with the ingredients needed to grow and bloom beyond our imagination.

Don’t we recall saying something (sometime in our life) about a serious, older acting child being born “an old soul”?  Guess what? If you think about it…we are all “old souls”….millions of years old. We were all made of the same clay from the time of Creation….yes…we are all “old souls.”

But no matter the age of our bodies or souls…we crave being blessed by our Creator…feeling loved. We all want to love and be loved…it is what our Creator wants for us too.

Luckily we have talented poets who can put into words what we can’t always express. The following poem is such an example. Anne ended the Sunday School class with it last week….and a soft, peaceful sigh fell across the room. Just beautiful. So for today….Tuesday…April 15…Beannacht-(Blessing.)

Beannacht

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays

in the *currach of thought

and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

beannacht – john o’donohue

*Meaning of Beannacht (a Blessing) and curach (a skin-covered timber framed boat). …

……………………………….

*chalkboard

Talking about love and protection of the ancestors before us…if you can….watch Ken Burns’ ADDRESS tonight at 9:00 on ETV. It is about a group of struggling (boys) students from Putney, Vermont (Greenwood School) who each learn the Gettsyburg Address (from memory) each spring. As you follow one group….see how Lincoln’s speech still touches troubled youth of today. Truth and love are eternal.

* Mandy and I took Eva Cate to the Aquarium to see the Mermaids yesterday….In order to get a seat I held two places on the bench in front of the large (sea) viewing area (for an hour) and told Mandy to take Eva Cate around….. finally (only)two mermaids showed up…danced to three quick songs and the program was over at 11:12…it started at 11:00. Need I say more?

A good example of love for a child and grandchild.. but quote the raven “Never more!”

Pictures from my stay with Mandy and Eva Cate. Eva Cate had more fun playing at the park, putting Boo Boo change in her piggy bank for Disney World, feeding the geese in her backyard…and playing “mermaid” in the bathtub.

img_9752img_9758img_9769img_9783img_9785img_9787img_9776  Eva Cate playing “mermaid” in the tub…much better actually than the others.

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So until tomorrow…let us “old souls” know we are each individually “blessed”  and loved beyond understanding.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

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