Showing up at the Lake…

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Dear Reader:

Don’t most of us (if not all) sit down and wonder sometimes if we are making any real difference in the world? Perhaps it is the never-ending winter this year that has brought on the blahs to almost everyone I have bumped into lately…all admitting that their work and leisure have suffered as a result of the endless gray purgatory.

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The biggest lament is not the cold…but the lack of sun. For me…it isn’t until a few days have passed (without being able to go out in my garden and feel the sun on my face) that I begin to acknowledge the importance of the sun’s beneficial and healing rays on my mental and physical condition.

It slowly starts to affect attitudes and aptitudes that we take for granted. Negative thoughts start to penetrate our psyches and we started reading things into, otherwise, positive habits in our lives.

For example, writing is so ingrained in my psyche,  if a few days go back without writing…my life starts tilting off-balance…going askew. The only thing to “right” it is to start writing again.

I am so tuned into my computer, desk, the books gathered around it…that any thing amiss throws me off-kilter and I can’t resume writing until the missing item is back in place.

Before I enter my “writing sanctuary” each day to begin the next day’s blog…I take a moment to stare at the empty chair and the black screen on the computer. If I never typed another word on the computer…it would remain dark.

Life would go on certainly… but my piece of the life puzzle would never be complete…leaving one small voice silent in the dark abyss of space. But the stars would recognize the void…a smattering of stardust would dissipate.

We are all connected to each other and to every component of life as we know it…and don’t know it. By talking ourselves out of our place, our importance in the universe, we run the risk of setting off a chain reaction of negativity that could circle the globe.

What if everyone, on the same day, decided that what they contributed to the world was worthless (too little to count or matter) don’t you think chaos would ensue? Teachers, doctors, artists, writers, builders, spiritual leaders, construction workers, etc. all quitting the world simultaneously.

I am sure you have noticed that my readings have brought me back to Madeleine L’Engle as of late. I do have a tendency to settle on a particular author during certain stages of life…and obviously I am in an L’Engle period right now.

The importance of recognizing our unique contributions to the world, no matter how small we feel they are…brought back a wonderful message I remembered from an earlier writing of L’ Engle. Here is an excerpt of some of L’Engle’s thoughts on this subject from “Art in Love.

ART IS A GIFT OF THE SPIRIT…

“We’re never sure that what we write is true and honest. We try to make it true and honest. How much I succeed is really beyond my control. It happens if I am given the Spirit to write the work.

“It is through the gifts of the Spirit that art comes, that love comes. But because we’re human, we’re never entirely sure. We know we haven’t served the work as well as we would want to. But if I had to serve the work to my satisfaction, I would still be on my first writing. And that would be pride.

“The important thing is to recognize that our gift, no matter what the size, is indeed something given us, for which we can take no credit, but which we may humbly serve, and in serving, learn more wholeness, be offered wondrous newness.

“If the work comes to the artist and says, ‘Here I am, serve me,’ then the job of the artist, great or small, is to serve. The amount of the artist’s talent is not what it is about. Jean Rhys said to an interviewer in the Paris Review, ‘Listen to me. All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. And there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don’t matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake.’

“I have never served a work as it ought to be served; my little trickle adds hardly a drop of water to the lake, and yet it doesn’t matter; there is no trickle too small. Over the years I have come to recognize that the work often knows more than I do. And with each writing I start, I have hopes that I may be helped to serve it a little more fully.

“Picasso says that an artist paints not to ask a question, but because he has found something, and he wants to share — he cannot help it — what he has found. ”

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Each day before I type the first word…all preconceived ideas of the blog content (for the next day) fly out the window and my fingers just start typing. It truly is the “Gift of the Spirit” as to where and how the writing goes on any particular day.

Like Picasso…I feel the need to share my thoughts and hope that others share similar introspections….(or simply want a good laugh at that crazy gal from Summerville…and that’s okay too!) The world can always use another laugh or two.

I know that I am just a teeny teeny tiny trickle of water feeding the streams that feed the rivers that feed the lake…but we really must all “feed the lake.”

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Every droplet of water contributed to us on this planet serves mankind when multiplied by all the other droplets forming daily.

Every time one of us decides “we aren’t worthy” and stops feeding the lake with our unique talent/our droplet… then the lake (the world) diminishes one drop at a time.

So until tomorrow…gray skies or sunny…Let us remember that no one else, but ourselves, can contribute the single drop of water to the lake… that we can. The size of our contribution makes no difference to the outcome… It is just the fact that, as long as we are alive, we are still contributing to the water of life… for all to drink.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* When I went outside yesterday to take a photo of the gray, cold, dreary day….I turned around and there were my four lettered pieces of cloth (a little soggy) but hanging in there with HOPE. The sun will come out ….’maybe or maybe not tomorrow’….but one day!

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The Bright, The Bold, The Beautiful

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Dear Reader:

I am not sure who came up with the idea that the color “yellow” should stand for cowardice or treachery, but I think he got it wrong.

Take a minute and think about the first colors of plants and flowers that we see in pre-early spring, in the gloomy cold days we are experiencing right now…Yellow! To me these yellow plants and blooms symbolize courage and boldness to break first through the frozen ground… in order to pioneer the way for the late-bloomers.

Yellow is the most luminous of all the colors of the spectrum. It’s the color that captures our attention more than any other color…representing happiness, optimism,  enlightenment, creativity, sunshine and spring.

I decided to walk around my garden, yard, and neighborhood to demonstrate the yellow ‘leaders of the pack.’                                    photo 3photo 5 (65)photo 1

In my neighbor Vickie’s yard…by her mailbox… she has planted jonquin/daffodils…they were a little beat down by the rain when I took this first photo…but with just one day of sunshine (Please Lord!)  they will have their pretty faces up and smiling.

I had forgotten that I planted forsythia by the fence last year (in fact I forgot the name too…had to send this picture to Doodle to remind me what it was.) In all the dreariness, cold, and rain of the last few days it has started blooming with much more promise to come.

And then, of course, the Yellow Jessamine… who has been playing it pretty cautious. A few buds have emerged but they seem to realize that they need to stay “tight” a little longer.

And speaking of “cautious” ….think about what color all caution signs are…yellow! Yellow is the color of traffic lights and signs indicating caution all over the world because it is the most eye-catching of all the colors on the spectrum.

When I re-did my den (turning it into my happy room) several years ago… I purposefully chose yellow for the dining area and den….because it just plain makes me happy. I then stucco’ed the gray dreary brick behind the fireplace/mantle a deep orange…and the rest, as they say is history.

The color yellow reminds me of a chameleon… the yellow on my walls change color continuously during the day…depending on the sun’s rays filtering in and the lighting effect from lamps and ceiling lights. On any given day I can have “50 Shades of Yellow” (sorry…couldn’t resist the pun.)

My favorite time of all (with yellow walls) is at night. Yellow turns cozy…in every sense of the word. My den and dining room make me feel secure and happy in the evenings.

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Here are some examples of the yellow walls responding to sunlight and man-made light… (the first two pictures are of the same dining room…taken at the same time)

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Here are some other walls around the den…again displaying various shades of yellow…according to the amount of light filtering in…

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When I stand on the deck and look out over my garden…it is the yellow in shrubs and bushes that stand out, yellow pansies smiling in spite of the cold…it is as if “yellow” is the calling card to spring saying, “ Don’t give up…look at what is coming!”

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From now on if someone calls us “yellow” I think we should take it as a compliment. Yellow is believing in the (as Madeleine L’Engle said) “gloriously impossible.”

Believing that these little plants will hear the “call of God” and break through frozen tundra to bring the ‘good news” that the re-birth of life and nature is near.

…Not falling back on our practical, reasoning ability…but opening ourselves to the possibilities that reasoning can’t understand.

This is the irrational season

When love blooms bright and wild

Had Mary been filled with reason

There’d have been no room for the child.

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So until tomorrow…let us wait with certainty that spring will come and when it does it will be “gloriously and impossibly” breath-taking.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

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Surprising Connections…

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Dear Reader:

I was so lucky yesterday to be able to stay home, curl up in my new electric sofa blanket (thanks Libby) and catch up on some reading and un-opened emails.

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Pam Stewart, a member of our Sunday School class, shared a story (the other Sunday) about a family she knew that touched all us listeners.

When we hear stories about an “impossible or at least improbable” situation changing others’ lives… have you noticed that it changes ours too…re-enforcing the “surprise” element of God’s power.

Pam had sent the story (upon my request) via email to me while I was at Pawleys Island and when I re-read it …I knew it needed to be shared.

Perhaps the best title for Pam’s story would simply be…

“The Wedding Ring”

Several years ago there was a tragic crash at a tiny airport in a small southern town. The pilot, as well as the other three passengers in the plane, were killed.

Reeling from the shock of the terrible news over the lost of their loved one… the families began arriving to look for personal items as keepsakes. Three of these families were able to find their loved one’s wedding ring.

But one family had no such luck. As hard as they tried…no wedding ring appeared.

Years went by and the daughter of the pilot (whose wedding band was never found) became more and more determined to find her father’s band to giver her mother. Even though she lived out of town she began making secret trips to the airport time and time again…without success.

The daughter then asked her brother to join her in the quest and while on one of their searches… they found it!  It was hardly recognizable…it was broken into pieces of gold scattered in every direction.

They gathered every bit they could find and secretly had a new wedding ring made for their mother… using as much of the gold as possible. There was just a little left over…which they gave their mother to sustain her while the surprise wedding ring was being made.

The sister and brother could hardly contain themselves the day the ring was ready for her. The mother was completely overwhelmed with emotion when she heard the story of the perseverance behind her two children’s quest for the “gold.”

However, the story doesn’t end there…(like an O’Henry twist ending…in this slightly different version of  “The Gift of the Magi”) the mother had taken the pieces of gold her children had given her earlier and made mementos for her son and daughter to keep in memory of their father. Now everyone had a piece of their father to keep with them at all times.

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Every month, as a subscriber to Guidepost’s Mysterious Ways, I receive a story of the month. As I began reading the story yesterday I thought to myself that this particular narrative compliments Pam’s story with its central theme of the jarring realization that God loves surprises too… and is quite willing to share them with us.

God’s surprises show up in all kinds of different forms and media…in this story…it is a painting that connects God to a troubled young father.

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When the story begins…a young husband and father is sitting in the hospital room  with his wife who has just miscarried. The baby would have been their fourth child. Now neither parent was sure if there would ever be another child.

Despondent, the father left the room and wandered listlessly down the hospital halls… finally stopping in front of a beach painting showing a happy family with four children playing near the water.

Would their family ever have the fourth child he and his wife had hoped to have? It was then he heard it (he later told his wife)…it was like a thought with a voice assuring him that they would have four children.

The father returned upbeat and at peace….less than a year later they were back at the hospital…this time holding their fourth child Joseph. Everything was back on track…or was it?

The father began losing weight for no reason and feeling a sense of daily exhaustion…his face grew gaunt. Testing began and the diagnosis was Graves disease…an overactive thyroid. With a non-invasive procedure to remove certain harmones the outcome looked promising…it was not the cancer they had feared.

So on the day of the procedure the father went alone while the mother stayed home to keep the four small children. When he returned home he acted like a different man…upbeat and happy… and already filled with vigor on his gaunt frame she hadn’t seen in awhile.

He told his wife that he wandered down the hospital hall where the beach painting was (before his procedure) and studied the painting in more detail. In it…the father is holding the youngest child on his shoulders.

At that moment he heard the voice again….”Soon, you too will be strong enough to hold your child on your shoulders.” Twice the “painting” had comforted him in his time of need and he knew whose voice he heard.

Since the father’s birthday was nearing…his wife decided to surprise him by buying the painting and giving it to him for this special occasion.

The hospital gave her the name of the artist and she contacted her. There was no second copy of the painting  the artist told her since each drawing was unique unto itself…an original.

The artist went on to describe the family she drew for that particular beach scene and added that the little boy on the father’s shoulders was named Joseph.

The wife almost dropped the phone before letting the artist know that her youngest child was also named Joseph. The artist sold painting to her immediately….replacing another painting on the hospital wall.

*(Readers…you aren’t going to believe this last connection…but here we go with the conclusion of the story)

After her husband’s health improved the family went to Pawley’s Island in South Carolina where they took a photo of the family… as drawn in the painting with little Joseph on his father’s shoulders!

(Can you believe that….Pawleys Island!) The author/ wife Ann Mulligan-“Promise of the Painting”- is from Dearborn, Michigan where the family lives and they vacation at Pawleys Island? Surprising connections!)

So until tomorrow….Let us be ever mindful of the wonderful surprises God plans for us…if we just keep our eyes open to His mysterious ways.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* Yesterday was Jakie’s 5th month birthday….five months since our shared birthday (Sept 24)….my birthday has a 5 in it too….and another number in front of that….Ummmm!

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Surprising Connections“- it is quite miraculous that Rudy ( being an older dog) was able to return home again and surprisingly connect again with Kaitlyn, Tommy, and Atticus.

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Looking in All the Wrong Places…

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Dear Reader:

It was late Sunday afternoon when I was walking around the garden… checking to see which plants survived the latest “Arctic Blast” while I was away at Pawleys.

Surprisingly, the majority of the plants and bulbs looked quite confident in their ability to keep jumping over the “waves” of Old Man Winter’s  last big “puffs” of frigid air. The bulbs and seedlings seem to know that if they can just hang a little longer…it will all be worth it in the near future when they bloom.

photoAs I started towards one side of the garden…suddenly the sun (who had been playing a game of peek-or-boo all day)….cast its final beams of sunlight across the garden…turning everything into speckled pieces of glittering gold. I gasped in delight and slowly turned around to see the last glimpse of the big yellow “halo” sinking in the west.

‘God is taking a well-deserved rest‘ I thought… but then remembered that the sun was just beginning to rise somewhere else in the world… so there was no rest for God…a new day was breaking “out there.”  God was on constant watch for all His children around the world.

Before I could put up all the garden paraphernalia the stars were already beginning to twinkle… and through the bare branches of my Bradford pear tree I could see the outline of the moon forming.

Even though the moon was fuller than a “new moon” I couldn’t help but recall Archibald Rutledge’s remembrances (at Hampton Plantation) of watching the workers fall down on their knees and give a blessing (for being present to see another new moon arise) each month. They did not take life for granted but thanked God every day and especially each month for the new moon symbolizing life and re-birth.

Don’t we have a tendency, while watching the vastness of the universe, through a star-filled sky, to think about God being “out there” somewhere? We put Him in some remote corner of the universe and regard Him as an on-looker rather than a constant participant… Someone close-at-hand?

But I know differently now about “Someone close-at-hand.” On a toss-turning night in May of 2008, I discovered, for myself, just how close God really is to us. Two days earlier I had been told I had breast cancer and must have surgery immediately. The next day was spent getting all kinds of tests run. Then I was told I must be at the hospital no later than 6:00 a.m. because I would need another blood transfusion before surgery…I was extremely anemic.

My brother had rushed to Summerville, upon hearing the news, to spend the night so he could take me to the hospital early the next morning. I couldn’t sleep…everything was happening so quickly that I had not had time to process it yet. (I am a big “processor” …I need time to digest potential life-altering changes and slowly filter the information within.)

I was doing a “woulda, coulda, shoulda” number on myself, I remember, that night. Did my will need updating…I meant to save and do this or that improvement to the house. My daughter’s wedding had just taken place a couple of weeks earlier…but what about the boys…would I live to see them married…would I live to see grandchildren… or was this it?

The number one “refrain” thought in my mind that night was “Help me God…I just don’t know what to do.” And that is when it happened. Out of the darkness…I heard a voice saying “Hold My Hand.”

Startled I looked around in the darkness but saw no one. I even got up to check on my brother in the guest bedroom…he was sound asleep. There was no one else in the house…or so I thought.

“Hold my Hand”….this time the words spoken were more forceful and demanding. There was no one in the room…how could I hold Someone’s Hand? The third and final voice was soft and gentle…”Hold my Hand.”

I held my hand up in the air and felt this sense of peace envelope me like no other sensation I had ever felt. I remember cupping my hand together and almost immediately falling asleep.

When my brother, Ben, awakened me the next morning I remember scurrying to the bathroom to brush my teeth and realizing (as I tried to put toothpaste on my brush) that my fingers were so tightly knit that I had to pry each finger open.

I didn’t know what the future held…but that sense of peace stayed with me because I now knew I was not on this journey alone. God would hold my hand through it all…and to date that is exactly how it has played out.

header-new(I have lived long enough to see another marriage, my middle child Walsh to Mollie, and see my youngest son, Tommy, find Kaitlyn to share their journey together. I now have three grandchildren, Eva Cate, Rutledge, and Jakie…and am anticipating the fourth grandchild’s arrival in the imminent future.) * Not to mention the four “grand-dogs” Tigger, Poogan, Rudy, and Atticus.

Look what I would have missed out on…with all my ‘extending’ family…if things had not gone well with that first surgery (I would never have met my grandchildren or Mollie or Kaitlyn)….but, instead, I hung on tight to God’s Hand and He has never let go.

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Since Creation… God has been a “hands-on” participant from Adam and Eve to His Son, Jesus Christ. He is here for every birth, trial and tribulation through life, and death.

God is not “out there”…He resides in each of us…He is “in here” and as close as the next beat of our heart.

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So until tomorrow…let us remember that the heavens, earth, the world and all that is in it belong to God. (Psalm 89:11) We belong to God Who resides in us.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*399181_110462452455597_1322939112_n I had a beautiful comment from my former student and later/supporter/mentor at the district office….Shelly Baker (concerning the last two blog entries on the friendship retreat.) Shelly nailed the essence of the importance of life-long friends who know us better than ourselves. It is so beautiful!

You have life so figured out! What a blessing to have lifelong friends with which to gather & just be authentic Becky. As we get older, there is something so special about being with friends that knew you as a young girl. It makes you feel like that girl again, which is pure tonic to the soul. So happy for you to have & enjoy such a full life, you deserve every minute of it! Xoxo

* Snow Day Comes Early for Rutledge!

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Sunday afternoon, while Mollie was folding clothes in the bedroom Rutledge managed to get a bottom cabinet open and pull out a bag of flour…it spilled all over the sofa and floor.

Mollie was so proud of him playing so quietly by himself to give her time to finish her task. She kept calling out (as she heard him making truck sounds) “Are you still playing with your trucks Rut?” Rutledge always answered “Yes!”… so you can only imagine the shock when Mollie realized what had kept him so preoccupied (when she witnessed the scene)…running his dump trucks through the “snow.

 

 

 

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“The Filter of Love”…

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Dear Reader:

Even  “come home” days can be beautiful in their own way. (Though I have to admit that it gets tougher each time we are together… to separate again.) The sunflowers that Mandy and family gave me for Valentines brightened my entrance back home yesterday from our Ya Pawley’s Retreat….looking just as beautiful as when given over a week ago. Sunshine in the Happy Room!

As if that wasn’t enough…unknowingly…Sis Kinney sent me another gift…a most wonderful phrase that I will never forget. (The title of today’s blog) Sis is in Virginia now and she was feeling the loss of missing several church services back home in a row… while being out-of-town and in the process of moving.

So she turned to her favorite daily devotional: “Forward Day by Day” and discovered a special devotional from the February author Ann Rose (retired professor from English and Humanities at Miami Dade College.)

Psalm 25:6 Remember me according to your love.

I remember many people in my past with gratitude and warmth. Others—not so much. When certain names cross my mind, my brain sticks them into categories before I am conscious this is happening: negative categories like hurtful, elitist, hypocritical, superficial.

I was pondering the way we categorize people without knowing their stories as I watched the film Joy Luck Club with my literature class. The movie, like the book, is a powerful reminder that when we learn people’s stories, their behavior is more understandable.

Instead of remembering them by their frailties and blunders, we might remember… at least some of them as doing the best they knew how to do. We might feel more forgiving of the fallible people in our lives.

I’m relieved that God remembers me according to God’s love—not according to all the failures I have accumulated. God could look at me and recall the myriad times of insensitivity, self-absorption, manipulation, and hypocrisy in my life.

But instead, God looks at me—at us—through a filter of love. I would like to do a better job of remembering other people through a filter of love as well.”

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Don’t you love that expression? A “filter of love.” Like the author, I am so happy that God is able to filter out all my blunders, snippy-isms, and hypocrisies…(which is  even more remarkabe)…  and still love me in spite of them.

That is what this Ya winter retreat is all about…being with people we have known a lifetime… (since 18)… who we know better than anyone else.We know each others’ strengths and weaknesses and love each other the more so for them. There is nothing, at this stage of life, that can change our love and devotion for each other. We have seen it all …  through all the upheavals in each of our lives.

There has been only one constant…our friendship and love for each other. It is this “veil of love” that draws us back together for strength to carry on while apart from each other.

…And talk about “veil of love” I get treated like the Queen of Sheba….Libby bought me an electric blanket for my chair and placed all the snacks right next to me. Do you see why it is so hard to leave each time? I am spoiled rotten!

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It is through stories,  we continue to tell each other, that our friendship grows stronger each year. We know each other’s background, childhood, obstacles growing up…and by knowing this…understand each others’ reactions to life in depth and compassion.

In the Koran it is written: “He (she) deserves Paradise who makes his (her) companions laugh.”

And that is what we just did for the past few days….laugh!…at each other and at ourselves. Everyone in the group has a wonderful sense of humor…but I think we would all agree that Libby is the queen. Some of her everyday episodes  are so funny that any comedy ‘sit-con’ would be hard pressed to compete.

I mentioned to the group that there is one local televised lawyer who has his clients give their testimonials for his law company… They all begin with…”This is my real true story.” I said that I hate to be a grammar snob…but it grates on my last nerve every time I hear it.

It is either their real story OR their true story…but it isn’t their real, true story.

So, of course, from that point on, every time someone began a story…it started out as “This is my real, true story.”

Now I am going to finish showing you my real, true pictures from the retreat… to finish  our wonderful  ‘balm’ at the Carolina Corner.

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Come follow me on our photo tour of Pawleys…be sure and bundle up!

The little shack behind me (in this photo) used to be a popular bait shop back in the day…and now it is preserved ..lucky for Linda, Libby’s sister, who owns the house….the property can’t be sold…so they don’t have to worry about a tall beach house going up blocking their view of the marsh….and the view is spectacular from their top bedroom/porch.

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We stopped by Collin and Betsy’s beach home on Pawleys that is just adorable....two buildings on the property. Perfect for a young couple with small children to run and play!

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On our historic Tour of the south side of the island….I noticed that most of the original homes were built between 1846 and 1848 by the wealthy rice planters….soon “cotton would be king”…but these descendants were still living well off their parents and grandparents rice plantings. There are even slave cabins still attached to beach homes. Pawley’s Chapel reminded me of St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope….small, quaint, and still offering spiritual services to any and all who enter.

(The beach cottage across the road from the chapel is aptly named….Chapel Cottage.)

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Pelican Inn, still operational, is home to many Gray Man stories….

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Liberty Lodge is one of the oldest homes on the island…the foundation still contains old mortar and materials used back in colonial times.

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After four decades….Hurricane Hugo destroyed the Tip Top Inn.

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In happier times….this photo shows the quaintness of the inn

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 I discovered by accident that pieces of the Tip Top Inn, live on in newer homes on the island today….

photo 3Diagonally across from where we were staying some neighbors told me that they had rented this home (before the owner sold it recently) and inside the kitchen were cutting boards…a gigantic sink and other kitchen paraphernalia from the Tip Top Inn.  A God’s Wink! You never know who you will bump into on the beach.

*Interesting tidbit…the original owner of this home was a family heiress to the Mennen Company…remember (Lady Speed Stick, Mennen Bracer.)  It was she who purchased many kitchen items from the Tip Top Inn.

And of course…we always have to go out for our last meal….since Brooke and I are the wine drinkers…Pete, our waiter, and us got to be real friendly. Another fun ending to our retreat.

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photoSo until tomorrow…May we all remember to see our fellow man through a “veil of love”…like our Father sees us.

“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

* As soon as I got back home I ran to check the garden and miraculously most of the plants seemed to have survived the cold.

I was scared to lift the box covering the one tender little seed sprout belonging to the “Becky Shasta Daisy” ….but there is was…one tiny speck of green…all that is needed for life and hope.

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10462600_10152572039054878_4310575455569651436_n* A big shout-out to Sherod and Linda Eadon (owners of the Carolina Corner) for letting us use their beautiful, breath-taking beach home for our winter retreat. No medicine in the world can come close to healing what nature can… by the sea.

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“The Only Answer to Life is More of Life”…

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Dear Reader:

As our wonderful winter get-away….starts literally “getting away” from us…I thought I would send some pictures ahead to pave the path for more stories to come.

Don’t you love the title message? …*The only answer to life is more of lifeWe have to be adventuresome and get out there and live it….even if we make mistakes. Wrong choices just help us realize what we don’t want…and then it steers us along the path of right choices…and growth.

Madeleine L’Engle used the *quote in one of her devotionals and it immediately connected with another anecdote I just heard a few days earlier….that went like this.

“The Road to Holiness”  (Sermons.com)

A seeker after truth came to a saint for guidance.
“Tell me, wise one, how did you become holy?”
“Two words.”
“And what are they, please?”
“Right choices.”
The seeker was fascinated. “How does one learn to choose rightly?”
“One word.”
“One word! May I have it, please?” the seeker asked.
“Growth.”
The seeker was thrilled. “How does one grow?”
“Two words.”
“What are they, pray tell?”
“Wrong choices.”

In both cases…we are being told that the only way to understand life is to live it. So if we make our daily routine too “routine” we deny ourselves the opportunity to grow in our understanding of the universe and our place in it. God wants to see us continuously growing…to become spiritual “lifetime learners.”

If I had not left my precious Eva Cate (for three short days) back in the summer of 2010 to go to the mountains with Honey and Mike…I never would have discovered St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope, never would have started the blog…and this life-altering event that has supported and sustained me through my health issues…would not be there for me today. You, loyal readers, would not be there for me…because I would have gone down another path. All because I was too consumed with my new routine.

This is true of the friendship that cements four gals from Erskine College who met as freshmen and decades later…are still there for each other. No matter what is going on in our daily routine…we break it, immediately, for each other. Thus…the winter retreat.

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I will just hit the ‘tip of the iceberg’ today with some pictures (more to come)…but this year our friendship circle came to include two more generations.

* And speaking of “icebergs” look at this fountain we saw Friday night on our way to visit Betsy’s place on Pawleys…and the frozen vegetation outside the beach home.

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Yesterday’s blog showed four trees I have planted for the grandchildren to serve as a perimeter for the garden…. Now here are the four Ya’s….and we all form a perimeter around each other.

This year we were so excited that Betsy, Libby’s daughter, could join us…the next generation of Ya’s…she added so much spark to the retreat.

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Betsy again wants to thank all of you blog readers for your prayers….because she is starting a new job Monday and feels like she is getting her life back again….from the earlier heart problems. Our “It’s All Good” girl is back!

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Our home since last Wednesday…photo 2

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Betsy’s family….her two adorable girls, Hailey and Rebecca, came over Saturday…a future generation of Ya’s in the making.

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photoIt was Betsy who suggested we go explore the island…especially the historic section including the old Tip Top Inn. (Unfortunately Hurricane Hugo, in 1989, carried it off)…but it couldn’t carry away the stories that lasted over four decades when Robert (Seth) Dingle and his wife Lorraine ran this popular inn.

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In one article I read from a book of Libby’s on the history of Pawleys Island…it said that “Mammy and Pappy Dingle had a big clock on the wall that had no numbers…a former guest remembered. There was a sign under the clock that said…Who Cares?”

And isn’t that way we are supposed to live life? Not enslaved to a clock to send us scurrying back to our ” same old…same old…normal routine” but to adventure out into the world ….both taking and giving back our talents to it… always learning and sharing.

We discovered something interesting about the Tip Top Inn and where some articles inside the inn …ended up after Hugo passed on. It will have to wait until tomorrow.

I think the best way to conclude this part of our adventurous retreat is in some bracelets we all bought to wear to Jackson’s niece’s wedding and to seal our friendship.

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Inside there was a message that read:

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So until tomorrow…Father…keep reminding us to go live life to the fullest every single day….”Who Cares” about time if we are following You down the path You created for us.

“Today is my favorite day”   Winnie the Pooh

* It was so wonderful to see mother and daughter (Libby and Betsy) looking so wonderful in the aftermath of a scary health crisis (Betsy has endured) only a few weeks ago….

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 * Some of you might have seen the other good news (thanks to your prayers)…Rudy’s tumor was not malignant and Tommy and Kaitlyn met Kaitlyn’s dad, Butch, halfway to pick him up….Atticus was so happy to have his ‘big bro’ back!

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“Friendship is a Sheltering Tree”…

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Dear Reader:

Here are my Japanese maples, in all different stages of growth, with name plates and oriental lanterns attached to each…representing each grandchild.

The only one without a name plate is the smallest with the white lantern…as we await our newest arrival. (However…it is the tiniest tree that lights up each night…a big white ball-shaped beam coming from it in the dark garden. I can’t help but think it is the spirit of our little angel letting us know he/she will be arriving soon.)

The tallest and oldest tree with the orange lantern belongs to Eva Cate, the oldest grandchild, the second largest tree with the blue lantern belongs to Rutledge, and the third tallest tree with the red lantern belongs to Jakie!

One day when all the grandchildren are playing in the garden in beautiful autumn…the Japanese maples will be casting shadows over the garden in all their radiant red colors. I can hardly wait!

Samuel Coleridge, upon observing trees in his garden one day, quoted: “Friendship is a sheltering tree.” 

… And that is how this mid-winter retreat for the Ya’s has been…a shelter for friendship in the midst of cold winds. As our time begins to dwindle …we know we are all stronger for being together. Strength in unity!

I came across this garden meditation by Reverend Max Coots before Brooke and I left for Pawleys last Wednesday morning…and thought it was the appropriate ending to our retreat.

The last thing I did before leaving…was check my garden and cover a few tender plants struggling to hold out against the cold. I pray they did.

“Garden Meditations”

Let us give thanks for a bounty of people.

For children who are our second planting, and though they grow like weeds and the wind too soon blows them away, may they forgive us our cultivation and fondly remember where their roots are.

Let us give thanks.

For generous friends, with hearts-and smiles-as bright as blossoms.

For feisty friends, as tart as applesauce;

For continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us that we’be had them;

For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn, and the others, as plain as potatoes and so good for you;

For funny friends, who are as silly as Brussels sprouts and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes;

And serious friends as unpretentious as cabbages; as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini and who, like parsnips, can be counted on to see you through the winter.

For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening time and young friends coming on as fast as radishes.

For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils and hold us, despite our blights, wilts, and witherings.

And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past that have been harvested, but who fed us in their time that we might have life thereafter.

For all these we give thanks.

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So until tomorrow…Let us give thanks for all the friends who enter our gardens of love and acceptance; the garden for everyone who grows within.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

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