We Look! We See!

download (1) Dear Reader:

Did you know that the number one most used word in the old Dick and Jane sight reading series was SEE? Followed by LOOK.

Having grown up on these books I can now smile and realize just how important it was and still is to SEE SEE SEE! (and) LOOK LOOK LOOK!

Little did I know when I was learning to recognize and read these basic picture words that I would be seeing and looking for me the rest of my life.

A couple of days ago I came across an interesting Indian story that had a great punch to it at the end…a kind of pause and reflect type of multi-cultural narrative. It definitely makes us think…

“Look Inside or See Outside”

A famous Sufi mystic, Rabiya, was searching for something on the street outside her small hut. The sun was setting and darkness was descending, as a few people gathered around her. “What have you lost? What are you searching for?  Perhaps we can help,” they said to Rabiya.

Rabiya said, “I have lost my needle.”

One amongst the people said, “Well, the sun is setting now and it will be very difficult to find the needle.  Where has it fallen?  That’ll help us narrow down the area on this big road.  If we know the exact place, it will be easier to find it.”

Rabiya told them, “It is better not to ask me that question — because, actually, it has not fallen on the road at all.  It has fallen inside my house.”

Everyone started giggling as if she was joking.  Then a skeptic said out loud, “We always knew that you were a little crazy! Why are you searching for it on the road then?”

“For a very simple reason: inside the house there is no light and on the outside a little light is still here,” Rabiya replied.

The people laughed and started leaving shaking their heads in disbelief at the mystic’s strange behavior. But Rabiya called them back and said, “Listen! Don’t you see the lesson here is in yourselves?

This is exactly what you are doing: I was just following your example. You go on seeking happiness and meaning in the outside world without asking the most fundamental question: “Where exactly have I lost it?”

After a pause, she continued, “You have lost it inside, and yet you keep looking for it on the outside for the very same reason — your senses are outward bound, your ears hear sounds on the outside, your hands touch things on the outside.  That’s the reason why you are searching outside.”

“For a very long time, I was also just searching on the outside.  But the day I searched inward, I was surprised.  That is where I lost it, that is where I had lost me, that is where I lost happiness and meaning to life… and that is the only place where it can be found. Inside!”

……………………..

Didn’t Sgt. Shriver in yesterday’s blog tell his own adult children the same thing when he remarked: ”Remember…we all have to go internal before we can go eternal” …?

So until tomorrow…Help us Father realize that there is a difference in seeing the outside world and looking inward at our relationship with You. Help us know how and where to look for meaning in our lives and turn not to the confusing and troubling paradoxes of the world… but deeper into ourselves where the divine spark is waiting to ignite the world.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* Walsh sent some pictures of Rutledge at “Daddy Daycare School.” Even Poogan is allowed at this school with Rutledge and daddy.

photo 1 (9)photo 2 (8)photo 3 (3)photo 4 (3)

 (I love the second picture with the Tonka yellow dump truck…Walsh had one (just like it) at this age and actually learned to run (before walking) pushing it up and down the neighborhood sidewalks.)

*Sis did come through with the last two clues….she had narrowed it down…..and Jackson admitted she might have thrown people off with the Peace Corps addendum….and the Magna Carta is in the Boston Museum on a visit from Great Britain.

From Sis:

Okay, I figured it out quickly. The picture on the left – is of the “new” state capitol building in Boston, MA!! I was just there in July on a 10-day “history trip” with my son, daughter-in-law, and 3 small grandchildren (ages 9, 6, and 9 mos.). We spent 4 days in Boston and I recognize the capitol from our trek along the Freedom Trail.

Don’t know about the “big feet” though. Maybe it’s from a statue of one of the Minutemen, or Sam Adams, Paul Revere, or another famous Patriot from long ago. So, my guess is: Boston, MA!

This would lead me to believe that the previous day’s clue must be from a city in the Pioneer Valley of MA – perhaps Amherst? Springfield? Or, since I understood that Jackson and her son were in Brattleboro – right? – *(You got it Sis!) that maybe it might be Keene, NH? Logic would tell me that if they were travelling from Brattleboro to Boston, and they were along the CT River, those are logical cities they might have visited. Still totally stumped on that one! Have to do some more research!

……………………

Okay Jackson…all your clues were solved…smart group of blog readers…deductive reasoning at its best…BUT we all want to know who the shoes belong to.

(I was able to figure out Boston for the last clue because I knew Jackson was flying out of there yesterday heading back to Columbia. So sleep in today Jackson and order a pizza…you did good girl and we all had fun traveling vicariously with you!)

***images (4) My nephew Lee’s amazing wife, Vikki, has been involved in the most interesting project for the past three years (supported/endorsed also by Lee) and now it has the opportunity to come to fruition with the help of Charleston citizens.

Please take a minute and watch our movie star Vikki explain a wonderful opportunity for our beloved Charleston to have a “people” owned radio station (not answerable to big corporations) who can promote local talent and events. OHM Radio 96.3 FM…Community radio at its best. (A Prairie Home (like) Companion here in Charleston) Please take a minute and watch the exciting information on this possibility for a new avenue of radio freedom in our area.

download (2)  * Lee provides the background music for this video information clip

126_3610343*The family got to see the latest ultrasound pictures of little Jake and watch out girls…he’s a looker…big eyes, big feet, and big lips…pucker up girls…he’s coming soon to your nearest hospital …East Cooper! Play your cards right and you might end up right next to his bassinet…October 1!

* I invited Vickie, my across the street neighbor, to come see the moon gate last night covered in moon flowers….she scurried across the street in her nightgown and couldn’t believe her eyes….she insisted that I (try) to bend down inside the gate so she could get a picture of me and magical moon gate with the gigantic moon flower blooms….a memory of dreams come true.

img_2089

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

” I am a part of all I have read”

e81adea74d8cc2388ec1be5eeefb81a9   Dear Reader:

When we stop and think about this (title) quote from John Kieran…it really is quite powerful. Everything we read does become embedded in us…for better or worse, doesn’t it?

In a sense this statement is true of all media that provides opinions and expressions….television, movies, theater, plays, and even internet resources and emails.

But I think the main difference between this quote on reading and other communication channels is choice. To me reading (outside of required reading for school, of course) is a very personal option…because it means that we are making a commitment of time (the most precious commodity we humans have on earth) to this book…this story.

I can honestly say that right now (as I am typing this post) I have three unfinished books lying around…because I still think I will come back to them and give it one more shot. (Deep down I know this won’t be the case because any more if a book doesn’t grab me in the first few chapters…if I can’t relate to a character by chapters three or four…I am outta’ there.)

My time is too cherished to give it away to a book that I, intuitively, know will not only (not) leave an indelible impression on me, but actually darken my mood and thoughts with negative images.

 

This doesn’t mean that every book I read is particularly of high quality or considered a classic, in any definition of the word…because I actually enjoy my summer romances (historical or contemporary) ‘Who dunnit’ mysteries, and lighthearted comedies.

But we do have to be careful, don’t we with our very personal choices dealing with reading? There are dangerous books filled with propaganda, as there has been since Gutenberg’s printing press was invented.

I think of the number of young people, vulnerable to political upheaval and radical changes… becoming isolated from family, friends, and community through dark books of terrorism and anti-establishment. We see the end results of these young people on the news weekly…if not daily.

As a grandparent now…I have to admit that I am glad the computer age came along as my children were graduating high school and college because the enormous responsibility and pressures parents are under now to “patrol” what their children are watching, seeing, and reading is frightening to me. It is a different world out there in many ways…but the same in other ways.

It has been this blog that has changed my reading choices tremendously…and even more importantly…it has been you readers with your suggestions, stories, and even gifts of books that have changed me through different genres of literature than before the blog.

Writers who are now a part of my life…I knew little or nothing of pre-blog years. Wow! How did I get along without the amazing ideas and thoughts of writers like Madeleine L’Engle, John O’Donohue, Mark Nepo, Marianne Williamson or Anne Lamott….along with too many others to even begin to list at this time.

And then most importantly…Holy Scripture has entered my life.

I grew up with the children’s Bible and knew the main stories throughout the Old and New Testament. I, even, remember acting them out in skits for the finale of Bible School each summer.

But as an adult…I let the scriptures dissipate from my daily life…blaming the departure on the “survival mode” years of being a single mom raising three children. At the very time I needed God’s words in my life more than ever…I pushed them away.

Oh…I prayed…a lot…but would fall asleep at night grading papers or helping one of the children with a project. Many a school morning…either Walsh or Tommy and I would be asleep on the den floor with construction paper stuck to our faces.

When the Ya’s got together six years ago…(because finally we found ourselves with some breathing time of our own)….most of our children were out of school and working or finishing up college. As we discussed the problems and perils of raising our children alone or with mixed families…we realized that we needed each other back then  more than ever…but we couldn’t come up for air long enough to pick up a phone and call for help.

It has been through a special group of women in our Sunday School class and a wonderful young minister in our church that the realization of the importance of the Word of God has manifested itself. The answers we search for are there…if we take time to find them.

I love this quote from Abraham Lincoln about the importance of God’s Word during His Presidency…during his life.

lincoln2

“Take all that you can of this book upon reason, and the balance on faith, and you will live and die a happier man. (When a skeptic expressed surprise to see him reading a Bible)”Abraham Lincoln

And what does scripture tell us of the importance of reading God’s Word?

Quotes-about-the-Bible_1-300x191

Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

So until tomorrow: If  “I am a part of all I have read” (and I believe that I am) then I want God’s Words to be a part of me…simple but true.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Jackson… I think you threw everyone off with the pictures and then asking where the Center for the Peace Corps is located. As far as the center…isn’t it UMBC….University of Maryland, Baltimore County? I know Sgt. Shriver lived in Maryland ( the Bethesda and Silver Springs area)…and grew up (as a boy) in Union Mills outside Gettysburg in Maryland. I know I am circling…anywhere close? Sis…where are you…help me!

But I will have to thank you, Jackson, for bringing Sgt. Shriver’s name into the clue because I ended up watching a CBS interview with his four grown children on the internet (following his death) and my admiration for him grew exponentially ….not just for all his amazing programs….like The Peace Corps, The War on Poverty, Head Start and on and on…but his last comment to his children in a lucid moment as Alzheimer’s spread its insidious shadow over him…is what made me want to stand up and applaud this amazing man.

He turned to his children and assured them that it was all right….”Remember…we all have to go internal before we can go eternal” and that I can still do.Good-bye.

And now readers…our last clue:

GetAttachment (4)GetAttachment (7)

There are big feet to fill in this beautiful
state capital. The Magna Carta is here on loan from the UK-what a fitting place for it to be.

(Curious about the feet…Kennedy…Adams?)

* Today Anne returned and we worked on the church bazaar project…we are up to 15 complete “Take You What You Need”

img_2077 Stopped at 14 and then I found a way to make one more quite easily…already had the frame. 15!!!img_2079

When I went out last evening to feed Lucy…I gasped at the moon gate and ran around it counting blooms…15! A wonderful God’s Wink. I need a stepladder now to climb up on to take a photo because the blooms are on both side of the fence!

img_2082

* And “Big Red” (the germanium) is just amazing…

img_2080

“Big Red” is up and down and all around….

img_2075For the first time yesterday morning…the morning glories( that have been planted by the fence all summer and done absolutely nothing)…decided to bloom and bloom and bloom and climb and climb and climb!

Flowers, as well as, humans are loving the cooler weather and thriving abundantly in it. Thank you God for this soothing and stimulating weather at the same time!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Feeling Special…Still…

Dear Reader:

Today we are going back in time (in a special blog time capsule) to August 25, 2010. The blog had just started that month and this particular post was about feeling special…and now here I am five years later…still feeling special and humbled that God has seen fit to keep me alive for His reasons…that only He understands.

So before we head back in time…God..let me take a moment to thank you in a quite southern way….with “A pint of thanks and a quart of gratitude.” I love You!

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Dear Reader:

I  had a special feeling all day yesterday that something exceptional would take place at St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope when Honey, Pat, and Winnie arrived . I could tell from Honey’s excited telephone message left late yesterday afternoon… that my inexplicable feeling of excitement had revealed itself accurately. When we finally connected… all I could do was smile… for each of the women encountered something powerful and personal.

Honey said that “It was one of those days that you will always remember as being “meant to be.” All the stars were aligned and the women returned home… hours later… with much more than they left with… their individual and collective experiences at the chapel of hope exceeded their own expectations.

But…this is their story… to be told by them in their words…so get ready….for a wondrous “feel-good” tale of hope…..

Brooke came to see me (from Walterboro) yesterday and we did what we do best…talk…and eat! It was a special day for that too…but we also “grabbed” (besides lunch) a quick movie called “Switched.” We figured it would just be a light “chick flick” comedy and we both felt the need for just this type of movie.

We were not disappointed…in fact the picture exceeded our expectations…it was sweet…a really “feel-good” show about “not recognizing that what you think you want has been right in front of you…the whole time.”

I think that is what I felt when I went to St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope a few weeks ago… the peace and inner voice that I was always searching for…sometimes with more success than others…again…was in me and was, not only present, but magnified in that chapel.

It was just a matter of realizing and recognizing that the “real me” had been hidden under years and layers of “surface” living…living my life according to societal expectations… lost in daily “busyness” …and not the whole me.

It took cancer (lower case c)  for me to dig down far enough to begin releasing the person that I had held captive and was supposed to be the whole time. St. Jude’s also gave me the direction that I had been seeking… the challenge to take its story to as many people as possible. To spread hope to as many people as we can reach. It is the reason why we are all coming together and making new friends…because a little chapel told me so…

Brooke told me that she had received an email stating some unusual facts about August 2010. “August 2010 is an interesting month. It has 5 Sundays, 5 Mondays, 5 Tuesdays… all in one month. This phenomenon happens once in 823 years. I don’t think any of us will see it happen again.” (Me neither…you can only take hope so far!)

…And to think that it was on the 4th Tuesday of this strange 5th Tuesday month that three women went to St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope and each had her own “cosmic” moment.

A story is told that the famous theologian, C. S. Lewis,  walked into a room filled with religious leaders of all faiths. An heated discussion was taking place concerning the debate over significant differences between Christianity and the other religions. As C.S. Lewis reached for a book in the library and started out…he said, “I know what the difference is…Grace.” And with that comment, he closed the door.

Amazing Grace…God’s gift of salvation to us when…by human standards… it goes undeserved. If you think about it…what other religion teaches that you can have salvation without earning it through a series of required rituals or steps? Yes, Grace is amazing. It is a mother’s unconditional love manifested beyond our grasp to comprehend.

I remember when I was sitting in the pew at the chapel of hope, looking at the trinkets left on the altar, and listening to Honey read the articles…the song “Amazing Grace” kept popping up in my head. I might have even hummed a stanza of it.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares…We have already come…T’was Grace that brought us safe this far and Grace will lead us home. “

I think Honey, Pat, and Winnie, along with the other countless visitors to St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope would say…”When you get to St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope…you feel like you have come home.

…And like the South African tribe of nomads…you realize that this is the place to “Stop, Rest, and Reflect“…(just like the welcome sign says)…in order for your soul to catch up with you!

But one more important ingredient that everyone must take to the chapel…it is found on a small plaque beside the door…which says: “It is OPEN every day…and one must go there “open” to  re-newed hope, faith, and new directions.

images (3)  Until tomorrow….Feel special…because you are!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Jackson’s latest clues….Put your thinking caps on…we can do it girls.

GetAttachment (2)GetAttachment (3)

Sargent Shriver asked not what his country could do for him but instead created a “peace” ful organization in this idyllic location along the Connecticut River. What city? What state

 


*
This is probably the last picture of the family minus Jake.img_2069img_2071 img_2072

 

Fred and Gin-g Edwards got to St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope a few weeks ago…was glad to hear they loved it too and felt the sense of the special place it is.

20140727_155615

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“Bits and Pieces”…

3c7648cf0ae5dacafd22bd41b42ae9ff  Dear Reader:

I have come to the conclusion, as I am cleaning and straightening on a typical Saturday morning, that it is a “Bits and Pieces” kind of day.

I remember when my own children were little…I was always admonishing them to pick up after playing…”Come on now…pick up all those ‘bits and pieces.”  Back then…with Mandy it was bits of tea party paraphernalia and with the boys… it was always pieces of plastic soldiers or superheroes… guns, army equipment, and other accessories.

The other week when I kept Eva Cate and Rutledge…we ended up with lots of “bits and pieces” of all kinds of toys they had played with during the day. As I went to put Rutledge down for his afternoon nap (figuring I could get things straightened up before John and Mandy got home) I told Eva Cate we needed to pick up all the “bits and pieces.”

img_2011

 

What? What “bits and pieces?” …and she started giggling at the words…I started pointing out all the toy parts scattered on the floor…I then put one toy in Rutledge’s hands and told Eva Cate that Rutledge was putting up this “bit” of a toy….I then got a little sugar under his neck which made him laugh….and I said “I love you to bits Rutledge.”

I then handed Eva Cate another toy and told her to follow us to her room to put up her “piece” of toy  while I put Rutledge down in Jake’s crib. As she followed… holding the “piece” of toy…I hugged her and said, “And I love you to pieces.” Then I would smooch each grandchild…calling out “Bits and Pieces….I love you to bits and pieces.”

……………………………….

On my way home from keeping Eva Cate and Rutledge last Tuesday I remembered the “bits and pieces” incident and started smiling to myself…another life lesson learned. And isn’t that how we learn about life and our place in it…by “bits and pieces?”

When I examine my journey of faith to date…I understand now that it didn’t just appear to me one day in a big clunk…instead I have been collecting bits and pieces along the way…in the form of memorable “aha” moments. Learning the shorter catechism as a child, watching mother as a role model whose faith never faltered…who knew that somehow God would help her raise three small children as a widow with one arm and survive the sudden loss of her youngest child (David) months prior to his college graduation.

I also learned faith through friends, adult mentors, and even my students in my classroom. Every day God has given me the opportunity to grow in faith…in “bits and pieces.”

Today these “bits and pieces” come in the form of my garden, my blog, storytelling, friends, and miscellaneous opportunities to travel and converse with strangers from different cultures. And…always the children...they are the greatest role models in faith.

Bit by bit and piece by piece my spiritual puzzle is slowly coming together…and one day I will be able to see the final product.

Didn’t Jesus teach and show us in the (fishes/loaves parable) that it only takes “bits and pieces” of faith to continuously feed the soul?

So until tomorrow…Teach us Father that every day we can learn to add a little “bit” more faith to our insatiable appetite for our understanding of You…through “pieces” of your daily tools to grow and nourish our soul.

1c2778f700109e3adfab9015bf23aea1

“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

(And every day spent with you dear readers….really is my favorite day!)

* The “Dynamic Duo”  clue yesterday was:

This author based one of his books on a battle fought during the French and Indian War near Lake George, NY. One of my favorite books and movies. The actor in the movie also portrayed Abraham Lincoln.  Who is the author of the aforementioned book?

Sis was the first to respond again (Go girl!) and here is her correct response: (I knew the book was “The Last of the Mohicans” and the author was Cooper but couldn’t remember the rest of his name)

Good morning, Becky!
My guess for today’s clue (I LOVE a good challenge!) would be James Fennimore Cooper – author of “Last of the Mohicans,” in which Daniel Day Lewis starred; he also played Lincoln in the latest movie “Lincoln.” Loved both movies!
And, did you know that “Last of the Mohicans” was filmed partially in these NC mountains – with some of the scenes being filmed down at beautiful Chimney Rock?

(That’s interesting about the location of the filming…Jackson was telling me about it when she called…great minds think alike…you and Jackson)

To Jackson and Matthew…this poster is for y’all!

 35f1b75133d02883d9da112494c42295

* And the best”est” bits and pieces of all…..Look what I found in the mail ….I am beyond thrilled! Two prints of Joan’s latest paintings….pansies and hydrangeas.

img_2063

img_2064

I am getting them matted and framed and put on my new gray walls in the dining area of the B&B….will show you the results as soon as the frames are ready!

* We all keep hoping for some rain to help the poor little flowers and bushes…I have a feeling that Aunt Sharon’s adorable truck rain jacket (for Rutledge) might do the trick!

1888515_10152608213461001_2651555435036982540_n

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“A Gracious Plenty”…

il_570xN.637089193_sx2q  Dear Reader:

As I was cleaning out books (Yes still…I swear they are reproducing on my bookshelves) ….anyway….I came across a local author’s little book I purchased many years ago… and the titled southern expression brought back so many childhood memories for me …growing up in the South.

images  In this little book one of the little  nieces is remembering her Great Aunt May…(who never married…she never had a husband or children)…but who always reminded them…that she had “a gracious plenty.”

I love the last two illustrations in the children’s book…. because they really explain the important role of the “Great Aunt May’s” in the family back when…babysitting, instructing religious practices, teaching etiquette, helping with Sunday dinner and always a person to come to when a child needed another adult to listen to their problems.

Always an important family member, “She had lots of people to miss her when she went away and to be glad when she came home”–as she said, she had “a gracious plenty.”

img_2055

img_2056

I know what this expression really means now. As I continue my quest to rid (in my house) of too much “stuff” I realize that I have more than “a gracious plenty.” God has been “gracious to me and blessed me …and smiled upon me.”

il_570xN.508098561_a05m

My own Aunt Eva might have broken the three digit number on the weight scales a couple of times in her life (like when she was pregnant) but not many…she was a very petite, tiny little woman. After I moved to Summerville …she would come visit mother and me….I would always ask her if she would like a little more of this or that at the dinner table and she always replied, ” Oh no, Becky, I have had a gracious plenty.”

When I came across this other old southern quote…I almost howled out loud…I have heard it (or at least a close rendition of it) growing up among many gracious hostesses in my family. It is the southern woman’s “eleventh commandment.”

images (1)

I discovered another writer who also remembered this expression and the southern ladies “twelfth commandment“…Make sure you have a “gracious plenty” amount of food for guests….never let a serving bowl go empty…it would be the worst of a southern cook’s “sins.” An embarrassment that would be hard to live down…

(Rhonda Rich…The Citizen Online….)

Gracious plenty

Ronda Rich's picture

When my sister arrived for the family get-together, she set down a platter on the kitchen island and turned to me with a fretful look.

“I hope I brought enough turkey.” She cast a worried look at the platter.

It looked plenty to me so I tried to assuage her concern. “I’m sure you have enough. Probably just the right amount.”

Her worry had been brought on by the fact that we had extended invitations to whoever we saw that we felt needed a good meal or just a seat at the table of loving hospitality. “C’mon,” one of us would urge. “We’d love to have you. We’ll have gracious plenty.”

So, the group had grown exponentially because Southern women just can’t resist a crowd of hungry people. After all, the more guests you have (wink), the more compliments to be had.

As it turned out, only half of the turkey was eaten, leaving enough for two dozen more mouths. “See,” I said, smiling. “We had gracious plenty. Why were you so worried?”

She shrugged. “It’s just that Southern woman thing of wanting to make sure there’s enough.” She grinned. “Gracious plenty.”

In other words: Plenty left over. As my niece once aptly put it “An empty bowl is horrifying. It means you didn’t make enough and someone might not have gotten all he wanted.”

But, to be honest, I think we’ve backed ourselves into a trap that is cutting off some of our famed hospitality. We don’t have the time to cook the amount of food that tradition dictates is required by Southern rules, so we host fewer gatherings.

Growing up, my grandmothers and mother covered our tables with so much food there wasn’t room for the dinner plates. To this day, Mama still does it. That includes two meats, a vast variety of vegetables – the more starch, the better – gravy, homemade biscuits and two to three desserts. You have to be retired or just plain bored to cook that much.

But Southern women are bound by tradition and a strong sense of the importance of following in the footsteps of our mothers. It can be a terrible burden to carry. It can also be a trap. A dilemma. If you don’t have the time or inclination to cook gracious plenty – a famed expression from the Southern woman lexicon – then don’t invite anyone at all. That’s always been our thinking.

So, we don’t. Less and less, we’re entertaining in our homes and spreading our personalized hospitality.

I decided to adapt. It’s simple: Cook less and entertain more. Sometimes when I’m cooking for company, Mama will call and ask about the menu. I’ll rattle it off and she’ll reply, “Is that all you’re having? Why, they’ll go away hungrier than when they came. I raised you better than that.” Pause. “I thought.”

Inevitably, she calls back and says, “I’m making a pot of chicken and dumplings. Come get ‘em before your company gets there.” I refuse and, irritated, she hangs up.

I invited a friend, who lives an hour away, for lunch one Saturday

Kindly, she protested. “I just want to see your house. Why don’t I come there, get a tour and then we’ll go out for lunch?”

I insisted. “No. It’ll be more relaxing here. It won’t be anything extravagant but it’ll tide us over until our next meal.”

So, I prepared a hearty casserole with ham, rice and peas, a salad loaded with vegetables, homemade biscuits, sweet tea and a fresh-made lemon pie.

I’ll admit it was hard, almost genetically intolerable, to set the table with only four dishes and a pitcher. But I steeled myself and forced my way through it.

“Hmmm,” said my friend, the incredible cook. “This is delicious.”

And you know what else it was?

It was gracious plenty.

………………………………

So until tomorrow Father…Please help us remember how blessed we are and how gracious You have been to us throughout our lives…May we always share a “gracious plenty” with our fellowman… as You God have graciously shared the abundance of Your world with us. (Hummm….Are you, by chance, Southern… God? Just wondering…)

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*  I talked with the lovely Honey yesterday afternoon….(so envious she is in the mountains…while we are baking in this 100 degree heat)…I told her about the blog today and the old southern expression around it…She added a true anecdote from the southern culture of the 50’s and 60’s concerning table manners.

She said she remembered one time as a young girl finishing eating and announcing  “I’m FULL!”

Her mother jumped into action….”Honey…you never ever say “I’m full” after eating…it is a degrading remark. Gasoline tanks get “full”… not pretty young girls.”

“You should say...’I have had a’ plenty’ …thank you.”

images (2) I just had a thought…even though I like the inscription on this tombstone….what about “A Gracious Plenty“….I think that pretty well sums up my life…it was filled with plenty….of life and love.

* Sis is tearing up the real life geography game… “Where is the Dynamic Duo?“….and also Anne P. got it too….they are in her neck of the woods now! Congrats girls!

 GetAttachment  The answer was Lake George, New York…name for King George II…who spoke only German…it was his son, King George III who was king of England at the time of the American Revolution. He was known for having poor vision so that is why John Hancock signed his signature on the Declaration of Independence so large….so even the king could see it.

Here is today’s clue:

 This author based one of his books on a battle fought during the French and Indian War near Lake George, NY. One of my favorite books and movies. The actor in the movie also portrayed Abraham Lincoln.  Who is the author of the aforementioned book?

Good luck!

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Glorious Normal Day!

945254012ab0d2352c34f4022d1d48d2  Dear Reader:

If this first line sounds familiar…you are a baby boomer for sure… It was a very popular quote when I was in college. It was written (originally) as part of an essay by Mary Jean Irion in the early seventies. .. one of several essays compiled into her most popular book to date at that time. Today these first publications are considered “rare” and the cost (pretty) prohibitive in obtaining one.

images (1)

The first line (included in the title picture) is part of the first essay…(which I won’t try to fit all in the blog)…. I will give you, instead, the rest of the paragraph…  It is truly beautiful and thought provoking.

normalday


*I just finished running off a copy of this so I can see it everyday…as a reminder of how to live each day.

images

Because it is true….normal days are treasures. When I look at my calender and don’t see any medical appointments or errand deadlines or other obligations on my time for a day… a normal clean-slated day…I am deliriously happy!

I love time at home and in the garden to putter, read, and communicate with friends and family via email or phone or visits. I truly look on these “normal” days as gifts of the highest nature.

Human nature is strange, however, isn’t it? We do have a tendency to overlook the normal or average day in “quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.”  By now…I know that there isn’t such a “beast” in existence. There are no “perfects” in this world…we must wait for that in the next one.

But we can learn to love the imperfections of each normal day. They are like the gaps in our spiritual faith. The gaps make faith possible. Think about it….it is like the old riddle of the chicken or the egg…who came first. Without the gap of doubt…who would need faith?

Mary Jean Irion shares her faith in her own common sense and effective way….

images

In Yes, World May Jean Irion reassures us that “Faith is not making religious-sounding noises in the daytime. It is asking your innermost self questions at night…and then getting up and going to work.”

I am much more comfortable with that definition than to be pointed or singled out by someone as a woman of faith. Because,  this “woman of faith” struggles daily with the gaps found within…. some days faring better than others.

Perhaps that is why I like old Ezekiel…

Ezekiel is one of my favorite Old Testament prophets because he was quite leery of those who had not floundered in the gaps before discovering (or re-discovering) their faith…a long, arduous, glorious journey.

So until tomorrow…Thank you Father for the gaps…the cracks and breaks in our faith…because it is only through falling down these crevices that we, eventually,  learn how to leap over them …to take our personal “Leap of faith”….day by normal day.

download (2)

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* Did you get the clue and the right answer? Here it is again….

GetAttachment (7)

Linda (Jackson) gave us these clues (1) she had made the design wrapper…(2) it was sweet….she planned to eat it… and for us to remember they were still in (3)PA….Do you have it now?

Good…treat yourself to  Hershey kiss!

250px-Hershey,_Pennsylvania

data=VLHX1wd2Cgu8wR6jwyh-km8JBWAkEzU4,avWPdW9yXhBurvSKVKhrGQr-MmcrcHaE9GDgUg8cx4vE-IHw9-LhYEWKGgYZCamF7rf1rsdV-gmsU6LC52bRj6i_q4bDSoxlpYiiEzp7arHa0baWxKXTMwlKd00ZmC_eOZi8iul90JAWLJgqUW03R6JSWM1Dys0g-ggLcJHcZIfWD9D6kBLVx2z

Jackson called yesterday because they were having some internet connection problems…. here are the new clues….they drove about six hours north from Hershey Pa.

Historical sites they passed were: Saratoga (“Turning Point of the American Revolution”) Erie Canal, and (you know me and Halloween I was jealous of this next upcoming event)…The Headless Horseman Hay Ride.

They are spending the next two days by a beautiful lake and village by the same name. Both are named after a King of England whose father (also a king) spoke only German. It was the son (king) whom John Hancock referred to when he signed his name in big bold letters…..JOHN HANCOCK. 

* It is actually, however,  the father king for whom the lake/village are named for….they are at Lake _______.

Saturday they will reach their destination ….Brattleboro, Vt….but still more adventures await in other areas….so stay tuned.

* In spite of this sizzling weather…. every evening the moon flower blossoms  multiply on the moon gate…more and more beautiful.

img_2054

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

The Hidden Secret Message…

img_2043  Dear Reader:

Another big God’s Wink…a message written in August 2011 appeared rather “miraculously” today.

John had put Eva Cate’s first day back at school (ECDC)- College of Charleston Child Development Center- picture on Facebook and I emailed him to thank him for the adorable photo. I, then, decided to go back through past blogs (the last three years) and get first day pictures of Eva Cate to show her growing up since 2012 when she started (ECDC) at age two.

For whatever reason I couldn’t find her picture but came across another photo that brought back a memory I had forgotten. Three years ago (to the day) the Ya’s had come and we went to see The Help at the movies. August 21, 2011

We had all read the book The Help and also another book Folly Beach by local author Karen White. it was White’s book that got us all caught up with the idea of having bottle trees. In the book… secret messages were left in the bottles.

I remember Jackson showed up with a beautiful cobalt blue bottle for my new tree…and then we went to eat at the tea room Time Well Spent where we found some beautiful dragonflies which I added (one) to mine. This was what my front yard bottle tree looked like August 21, 2011.

100_2545

My new cobalt blue bottle, tortoise, and light aqua … plus the purple dragonfly… were all the bottles/ornaments I had on my bottle tree on this date three years ago.

It was after the Ya’s left that I decided to type a personal note to myself and put it securely in the cobalt blue bottle… the color known for warding off evil spirits or bad mojo…(which I considered “little c” falling into both categories).

Time passed…in February of this year we had the now “infamous ice storm” and branches from the driveway oak tree fell on the bottle tree cracking the cobalt bottle on the bottom.

(I had forgotten that the note was in that particular bottle)…I don’t remember seeing it as I threw away the bottom of the bottle… in the back of the heavy shrubbery and just placed the top “neck” part back in the ground near the bottle tree as a decoration.

Yesterday as I went to check the mail…I noticed that wisteria vines were about to take over the bottle tree so I started hacking away at the vines. Suddenly I remembered the secret note that I had written… forgotten  in the old broken cobalt blue bottle…by now nature had basically covered it too….

img_2044img_2046

What if….nah…no way…the message would have deteriorated by now…and then I remembered placing the cobalt bottle in another area sometime earlier this summer. I held my breath and looked into it… from the broken bottle side up….no note.

Disappointed…I was just about to walk off…when something fluttering in the heavy foliage…caught my eye. It was a piece of poster paper…at least that is what it looked like at first to me…caught on a stick that was holding it in place. Nah….no way…the paper would have deteriorated …couldn’t be.

But wait a minute…I remember typing it on card stock…I fought my way through the foliage (scratching my arms) and there it was….the typing on the back of the flapping paper. It was faded and rain-stained…but, thank goodness I had typed the message instead of writing it. I could still read it. It said:

Dear “c”ancer, (Always lower-case c so as not to give it any importance!)

You are the only “bad” in my life now… because the rest of my life is filled with BFF’s. You see… all my Ya’s and friends and family complete my life and it is a wonderful thing to behold. They are my life.

You might not know it…but when you pick on me…you are picking on all my friends and family. I can deal with you but I don’t want you casting shadows on the lives of people who care about me. It is too high a price to pay and they mean too much to me.

So…I just want you to know that you are no longer welcome at this home that is filled with only love and blessings. You hurt people and that is not what love and friendship is about my cancer adversary.

So climb in this bottle and think about what you are doing…any victories you achieve with me or any other cancer patient is only physical…you can’t invade my soul…and in the end that is all that matters. I will win…no matter what you do. So quit wasting your time and leave. “It is well with my soul”!

I am too busy living life to the fullest to bother with you. You don’t deserve any more of my precious time…it is too valuable for the likes of you. Bye and good riddance!

Becky “BOO”!

……………………………………………………………………………………………………

So until tomorrow…This faded message is sitting right next to my computer…where it will remain …reminding me that God is always in charge of our lives and nothing is impossible with Him at the helm.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*The pictures, lately, in Facebook have been covered with first day back to school pictures of children and grandchildren….I love them all!….Here are some family shots…Eva Cate’s first day back….my niece Ady Grace going to kindergarten (where did the time go?) and Ya Libby’s two little granddaughters…wish we could bottle all that excitement forever!

 10485987_10152247638106434_8505939938547366565_n10487388_10152247588811434_636771063823932716_n

* From two years ago…John found this first day school photo of Eva Cate… she was about to start attending ECDC.  (Age 2)

GetAttachment (4)GetAttachment (5)

This is why we treasure first day of school… photos so much…the times flies so quickly….

My mostest lovely niece…Ady Grace (starts public kindergarten…big benchmark)and Libby’s two adorable granddaughters…Hailey and Rebecca.

10584041_10205057701867973_6966844241910134593_n1623560_10204424832841630_7311764818387949956_n

 Here is the latest clue from Jackson….Help me please!

GetAttachment (7)

I made this today in a really happy, sweet smelling place- can’t wait to eat what’s inside!

When I didn’t respond she added another clue….Help me!

Have you figured out the clue? Hint: we’re still in PA. Leaving tomorrow on a six hour drive north. Temperatures in the high seventies with no humidity- beautiful! We’re so tired tonight, ordering pizza delivery. Been gone since 9 this am. Love you- Jackson

PS. I just got it….did you? Won’t reveal the answer until tomorrow.

Jackson…my brain is mush this evening….been painting…maybe too many fumes…Gin-G helped me “chalk” paint a bedside table in Rutledge’s guest bedroom…turned out terrific….am ready to paint everything now…!  A “Tom Sawyer” paint the fence day for sure!

Before: img_2049

After: img_2053 “Steel Magnolia” Gray…rather fitting these days….

And to have an excuse to hang with a friend and get caught up with our lives… while laughing and getting paint all over us is priceless!

img_2050 Thank you Gin-g for all the moral support and physical finger cramping paint brush “pain”….now I know for sure I am old…(thumb cramping from gripping a paint brush…really Becky?) Soon…the cabinets! The trial test was a success!

* Kaitlyn got Tommy to help her participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS…in the most creative way she knew how…upside down! (video coming soon to a blog near you!)

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

The “Dog Days” of August…

download (2)

Dear Reader:

Monday night…my son-in-law, John, and I were talking and he asked me if I knew how August became known as the “dog days” of summer. I honestly couldn’t remember….so he informed me that a lot of myths still circulate about the origin but it has to do with the star Sirius…better known as the “dog star” which is most visible during the hot days of August.

heic0516a

The following meteorologist, Jeff Haby, sums it up exactly like John told me. Way to go John!

WHAT ARE THE DOG DAYS OF SUMMER?

METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY

When I was a kid I would hear that it is “the dog days of summer” in Texas during times of persistently hot weather in the summer. I assumed that the term dog meant that outdoor dogs suffered from all the heat day after day. Life for an outdoor dog just can not be fun on those 95 F and hotter days that repeat in the summer.

To my surprise I learned several years later that the term had nothing to do with real outdoor dogs but rather dealt with a Star in the constellation Canis Major that is one of the brightest stars in the sky and is approximately 8.6 light-years distant from Earth. The Dog days is named after Sirius, the Dog Star. The Dog days come when the Dog Star begins to line up with our Sun (lining up is called conjunction). It was thought long ago that when the Dog Star aligned with the Sun that they combined their energy to make the weather even hotter. Of course, we now know that no Star would warm the earth at even the smallest fraction that the Sun does since stars are very far away.

However, the term stuck. In July and August the background of stars beyond the Sun includes the Dog Star Sirius. In July and August during a persistent heat wave, do not be surprised to hear, “we are in the Dog days of summer”.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………

I like our (Summerville) own Miss Effie Wilder’s “terse verse” thoughts on the month of August…written with her own indelible trademark…wit!

August-Smaugust

August is a messy month

With skeeters, flies and fleas,

With thunderstorms and gale alarms

And weeds up to your knees. 

The mercury climbs up the tube

And tempers start to snap

Spirits wilt like lettuce leaves

And even lovers snap. 

If I were Augustus Caesar

Resting in my shroud

And knew this month was named for me

I wouldn’t feel too proud. 

…………………………

GetAttachment (5) Thanks Brooke and Sis for sending in guesses to the whereabouts of Jackson and Matthew…the “Dynamic Duo”…and you were both were right (at least most of the time!) The central historic place, I think probably everyone guessed…Washington, DC….but as of yesterday they have moved out and upward… and the clues start getting tougher.

August 17GetAttachment (2)  Smithsonian

GetAttachment (3) WWII Memorial

August 18GetAttachment (7) George Washington’s home…Mount Vernon

August 19…having started moving northward…they ended up at…GetAttachment (10)    GETTYSBURG, PA!

GetAttachment (8)GetAttachment (9)

FROM JACKSON: ANSWERS

August 17- Smithsonian and World War II Memorial (we also went to Holocaust Museum and Lincoln Memorial)

August 18- Mount Vernon

August 19- Gettysburg

………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Too much fun…so far I have been on it…because of my American History background…but I think that may be about to change…so help me out…take a “gander”!

* Just got back from two wonderful (but admittedly a little tiring) babysitting days…Mon-just Rutledge and Poogan…Tuesday…Rutledge and Eva Cate…and Tigger! I must admit I laughed more than I can remember in a long time…sharing stories, battery operated fireflies, new white rubber balls, dress-up for both Eva Cate and Rutledge, observing moments of sharing and “decking” between the grandchildren… and lots of hugs and kisses! (Have to save up on those for a “rainy day.”)

img_1981img_1985img_2010img_2017img_2018img_2019img_2022img_2023img_2024img_2025img_2028img_2030img_2033img_2038img_2039img_2041img_2042img_2009img_2006img_2002img_1991img_1989

Mollie and Mandy were both concerned about me keeping both grandchildren…but I informed them that I had better get used to it with Jake arriving in 42 days and then who knows what the future holds?  The more the merrier…and crazier! Life is good!

img_2007

So until tomorrow…My cup runneth over!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Ambika…Our Darling Dentist from Dubai!

1459124_642669852450498_193843479_n  Dear Reader:

Today is a very special day for our “Doc” Ambika….Listen to the song below for the clue…perhaps not St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope is calling but the “Chapel of Love” sure is!

The Dixie Cups – Chapel Of Love – YouTube

Yes…today is the day Ambika “Doc” Murthy’s wedding vows are solemonized…August 19, 2014.

In a sweet email dating back to July 1…soon after I had gotten home from Ireland…I read this wonderful message….(here is one small excerpt)

The reason why I’m writing a personal mail to you is this: at God’s Mercy and Grace, my wedding has been fixed and will be solemnised on 19 August 2014. And as I had written to you earlier, this is the miracle that we have been waiting for, especially my parents have been praying sincerely about it.

 Ambika’s journey to this day has been everyone’s journey…filled with valleys and mountains and some “droughts” where dreams tended to shrivel up and wilt on the vine.

A few years ago…Ambika told me she went on the internet looking and searching for stories on hope to help alleviate the fears and disappointments of daily life (we all experience)… both personal and professional…and then… up popped “Chapel of Hope Stories.

HOPE is how our unlikely friendship began… between Dubai, United Arab Emigrates and Summerville, SC….Ambika and Becky. I remember becoming aware of a reader whose depth and sincerity of faith shone through the comments that I began receiving from her. I envied the level of her faith in God and wanted to learn more about her.

One day I ‘re-commented’ back to her that I thought Ambika was a beautiful name and was curious as to its origin. That is when I discovered Ambika was a young dentist, currently living in Dubai….originally from Bangalore, India.

1236755_595390467178437_922792022_nOver time and many emails…Ambika and I have become “soul sisters” in every definition of the word…and have encouraged each other through the ups and downs of life.

I am pleased to call her my friend. We continuously pray for each other’s health and happiness… so today I wanted to share her special happiness with you…the rest of her blog family.

Hopefully she can send us some pictures from the ceremony but I know she is a beautiful bride today!

Isn’t it quite amazing that the internet has allowed God to help us connect with people around the world…learning from the experience of first hand encounters with different cultures..re-enforcing the idea that we are all one and the same…connected under the sun?

I saw this wedding blessing, Ambika, in a book at the house where we stayed in Ireland and jotted it down…this was before I heard your wonderful news of your upcoming marriage…..

 

May you have enough happiness to keep you sweet,
Enough trials to keep you strong,
Enough sorrow to keep you human,
Enough hope to keep you happy,
Enough failure to keep you humble,
Enough success to keep you eager,
Enough friends to give you comfort,
Enough wealth to meet your needs,
Enough enthusiasm to look forward,
Enough faith to banish depression,
Enough determination to make each day better than yesterday.

………………………………….

It was truly a God’s Wink when Ambika found my little blog all the way from Dubai…it was certainly meant to be. So today, my friend, may your wedding day, not only meet, but surpass your childhood dreams….

So until tomorrow…May the blessings of God pour over you, Ambika, as a new life begins…a new journey begins…this time….not alone…but holding hands!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* Mandy got an idea from a friend (off Pinterest) of an opening day activity that parallels the theme today of acceptance and “oneness” in all of us. Students are given a blank piece of a puzzle and each student is asked to draw something on it that tells the class something about themselves….then the pieces are collected…and put together to form the puzzle…the class…the community…the world of learning together. We are all connected under the sun. The puzzle would be incomplete without every single piece in place.

c8b58d8cc1ba9b4e13653bb780ec9331

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Seeing Things as We Are…Not as They Are…

singleCardi  Dear Reader:

Isn’t it always the word “assumption” that brings us more trouble than just about any other word? As in….we assume everyone sees everything exactly the way we do. Today we know….through scientific study…this isn’t true.

p00p0v3q  Two people can watch the same sunset but due to our own unique physical and emotional differences our perspective descriptions of the same scene will differ. No two minds are alike. The important thing to remember, however, is that seeing the exact same colors isn’t as important as sharing the experience of watching a beautiful sunset together!

The only time we are completely in sync with our visionary perceptions is when we are sharing the same vision as God.

“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”
Meister Eckhart, Sermons of Meister Eckhart

Every year, without fail, when I was teaching… we started the first unit on the early explorers. I would show the students pictures of people’s perception of the Earth back then….not being round…with ships literally sailing off into the abyss with all kinds of sea monsters gobbling them up for supper…the students laughed smugly at the stupidity of people living in the 1400’s… thinking to themselves…’Of course our planet is round…cause the satellites tell us so.’  

rsz_world-flat_5884

We would then discuss and debate on how even hundreds of years after Columbus… the still popular idea of a flat earth existed… As noted by the famous Flammarion engraving (1888) which depicts a traveler who arrives at the edge of a flat Earth and sticks his head through the firmament.

800px-Flammarion

Today we have the luxury of hindsight as satellites circle our planet confirming (through pictures) that the Earth is indeed round…This was preempted by Apollo 8 and Neil Armstrong’s (famously televised) first steps on the moon in 1969.

I began teaching in 1971, two years later, and there were many students parroting their parents’ views (at that time) who didn’t believe the famous mission ever happened…it was all staged.

A decade later into my teaching career (80’s)…Apollo 8 was now history…confirmed in the students’ minds as such (After all…it was in their textbooks by then…so it was “gospel” to them) and my re-telling of the “Doubting Thomas’s” (in my early teaching years) in regard to the first man stepping on the moon story… brought much smug laughter.

Once again…as hinted in yesterday’s “journey” blog…we must first discover who we are before our eyes are open enough to see what lies in front of us. An appreciation of history grows with age…so does, ironically, seeing. We must always remember that our vision and perception of what we see lying before us…is based on our own personal schema of life experiences…thus is different from our fellow man.

Today…if I taught the ” early explorer” unit again…I would do it differently. (Now based on my new perspective of what is really important for students to remember later in life.)

I would put this quote on my smart board and start the unit with a discussion on it.

“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end…may also be only the beginning.” Ivy Baker Priest

If-the-earth-is-a-cubeIsn’t God remarkable? Instead of creating square or rectangular or any other quadrilateral  (Aren’t you impressed that me…a mere social studies teacher… remembered that old mathematical term?) planets…God made the planet that sustains life in the form of us...round? And we already know by now…that this was no coincidence…don’t you think God has always been trying to ‘teach’ us….that beginnings and endings are synonyms?

How many times have we been witness to or heard the same story of the “coincidence” of a family losing one beloved member… at the same time another new child is born into the family? The circle of life…the circle of God’s genius.

So until tomorrow…Help us to all remember, God, the glue that sticks beginnings and endings together is LOVE. Love never dies….it was there at the very beginning and will be so at the very end.

Round and round and round it goes and where it stops…nobody knows!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* I am off this morning to keep Mr. Rutledge at IOP and then over to the Turners in the afternoon to spend the night with Eva Cate and play with both Rutledge and Eva Cate Tuesday….Wednesday Eva Cate starts back to her school. The big kick-off week!

* Michele Robertson brought me the neatest gift to Sunday School…it was a “hit” with all the children and young people sitting around me before church when I opened it… My Pet Firefly (She remembered that I was sad because of the limited number of sightings of lighting bugs or fire flies around)….so this is a battery powered one that flies all around the jar….can hardly wait to show Rutledge and Eva Cate…today and tomorrow.

* They come in pink, green, and blue….I love it….what a thoughtful gift…thank you so much Michele! Mine is green…cool color!

download (1)

img_1975

Jackson sent the first pictures…..email me if you think you  know it and on Wednesday’s blog ( when I am back) we will disclose winning guesses. (Jackson said she is starting out easy…but don’t get over confident…they will get harder…the farther they go!)

GetAttachment (2)GetAttachment (3)

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments