A Full Service God

stock-vector-grunge-retro-gas-station-sign-vector-illustration-164374727  Dear Reader:

Wednesday evening, after Marcia, Mollie, and Rutledge left, I started writing Thursday’s blog on “Self-Nurturing.” Later…I decided to make a couple of last minute changes and added the final analogy of “filling up” at God’s gas station for the next day as darkness descended in the garden.

That night… while in that “twilight” period between consciousness and sleep…my mind fixated on memories of gas stations when I was growing up. These were the full service gas stations that provided a complete check up of the car from gas to oil to “hoses” and tires.

(And a bonus windshield cleaning! As a child this was always my favorite part…watching the attendant spray on the cleaning fluid and then wipe the dust and dirt away leaving the windshield clear and sparkling!…always while whistling a happy tune)

The gas attendant, as a rule, was normally out-going and gregarious…like a scene right out of Andy Griffith of Mayberry. In small towns one could leave a gas station without the latest updates on the comings and goings of most of the people in the town.

There was also a sense of security when you left the station, knowing that, not only, was your car full but all the other major components of it had been checked and either corrected or found satisfactory…either way you knew you were good to go when you pulled out.

This, of course, isn’t the case today. With complete service stations a dying breed from the past…one has no choice but to “self-service” at gas stations. And when we leave the only reassurance we have is one of having a full tank of gas. For oil and tire pressure we have to rely on computerized icons located on the dashboard to let us know when to change the oil or put air in a tire. As far as “popped” hoses and belts… we are just out of luck if that happens.

15352449-vintage-gas-station-signSome of the full service gas stations became great at marketing their gas stations as the “Last Chance Gas Station” between rural towns or desolate areas like a desert or whatever. The ploy worked. People would pull in even if they didn’t need a “fill ‘er up” amount of gasoline….fearful they might still run out between “civilized” towns.

I get nostalgic remembering the full service gas stations of past memories…I think we lost a lot more than just another gas station when we let economy win over friendliness and caring. Joseph Copeland adds his thoughts to this observation:

Today, full service stations are a rarity. What we see plenty of is “self service” stations.  The self service concept, simply stated, is that economy is more important than cordiality. Otherwise, you can cut the smile, the greetings and the window washings and reduce the price of the gasoline. To save money, patrons are increasingly saying, “I can do it myself.” 

We tell the petroleum industry that we will “do it ourselves” but, we usually don’t. Hurriedly we get our gasoline and too often we leave quickly without checking the oil, water, tires, hoses and belts. About the only thing that we actually do for ourselves, in most instances, is pump the gas.  The idea behind the self service approach is that we can cut out the middle man, save money and still get the same results. We succeed at cutting out the middle man and saving money, but we rarely get the same results.

Isn’t this true too often today of religion? We figure we can cut out the middle man (Jesus) and stay away from organized religions that we deem as too restrictive and obsolete. Instead we reassure ourselves that we can remember to take time to “self service” ourselves spiritually as necessary.

We pretend to get by with an occasional quick ‘self service’ fill… (perhaps a short prayer or two)…just enough to keep going but forgetting to check the “vital” other areas of our bodily “vehicle” to see if we are running low on oil or tires to carry us along our journey’s winding path. We disregard the “Last Chance” signs and assure ourselves that we have enough gas to make it until we can “self service” again. We are in control of our lives.

Then suddenly our world comes crashing down on us in the form of the death of a loved one, the loss of  job and career, a marriage that starts unraveling…and it finally dawns on us that we need the full package…we can’t do it alone.

So until tomorrow…Let us remember that out there waiting patiently for us to reach this realization of our human “self-service” frailty lies our “Full Service God“…who is ready to replace batteries, air, oil,belts, and hoses with a smile and a whistle….leaving our personal “windshields” cleaner than ever and sometimes even throwing in a lollipop for good measure.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* An “aha” moment just hit me…do you realize that the only time we still use the expression “Fill ‘er up please” is when we want more food and drink at home or in a restaurant…especially when cocktails are available? As a society we have gone from filling up our cars to filling up our stomachs…and we wonder why 1/3rd of Americans are extremely obese.

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Lucy has made a new friend on the deck….while starting a daily morning ritual (after eating breakfast.) She walks over to “Mr. Rabbit” ….circles him (and the plant he is on) a couple of times and finally plops down underneath the beautiful orange blossoms and takes her morning nap. Too cute.

 

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Nurturing Ourselves…

download (2)  Dear Reader:

What is it about self-nurturing that makes us so uncomfortable? I have certainly felt that way in different periods of my life. For example…if  in my 30′s or 40′s  I had heard some speaker talking about self-nurturing.. a cartoon balloon would have popped up over my head….in which I would have been thinking….“Yeah right…self-nurturing …a single mom with three kids…Are you crazy?…I am doing good if I get a five minute uninterrupted shower in a twenty four hour period.”

It wasn’t until my “children” had flown the nest and I actually did have five minutes… and more to stop and think about my needs and desires that I would have been more open to the term “self-nurturing.”

I think part of the reason we are uncomfortable using this word in daily conversation is the “self” part in front of the word. It reminds us too much of the word “selfish.” We baby boomers were taught axioms like “Quit crying over spilt milk,” (more recently) “man up” You should have known not to put all your “eggs in one basket” or remember to always “put the needs of others before your own needs.”  

(I can’t help but think this type of thinking…self sacrifice…especially poured into southern women’s upbringing is a contributing factor to domestic violence through total submission.)

I don’t think God meant for any of us to continuously “self-sacrifice” at the risk of never discovering our own worth in life. It is too high a price to pay in our short lives.

Julia Cameron reminds us that there is a connection between “self-nurturing and self-respect. If we don’t respect ourselves…how can be expect others to respect us?)

Most importantly if we take the time to nurture ourselves and then take time to be with and listen to God each day…our own unique, creativity starts to flow from within. We start evolving into the authentic person who has been hiding deep down inside us.

images (3) “True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” (Leo Tolstoy)

When I look back at all the changes in my life…there was always a tiny voice whispering in my ear to “do it” to”take a risk” to “make a change.” Sometimes I complied to the “Voice” and sometimes I didn’t…but I always knew when I should have acted upon a change instead of hanging on to a life grown stagnant.

I find it quite interesting that when having conversations with the Ya’s and other close friends about the importance of quietude in this stages of our lives…everyone, unanimously, agrees they can’t get through a day any more without automatically seeking “alone” time.

For me…it isn’t any formal kind of meditation but I simply need to sit on my garden bench, listen to my fountain, wait for the solar lanterns to turn on and then share a conversation with God.

It is usually about the day and how I spent it and sometimes I ask God what He thinks about this or that incident that transpired during the day…it is like talking to the wisest elder in the family and seeking his advice along your journey.

Next time we hesitate to do something nice for ourselves…stop and ask yourself…”If other people see that I don’t care enough about me to even bother to take care of my overall appearance or do things for myself that make me happy so the house rings with laughter from the cellar to the rafters…then the next generation will model our behavior and be caught in the “dungeon” of self-sacrifice to the detriment of themselves and the ambiguous legacy we left behind.”

If we don’t take care of ourselves, if we can’t be kind to ourselves, if we can’t find a few minutes in the day to spend with God…we are letting ourselves and our Creator down because we can’t reach our full potential if we live in others’ shadows constantly.

So until tomorrow…Father help us give ourselves permission to become the creative, unique individuals You created by giving ourselves the gift of time to be with You.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* We can still learn wonderful life lessons when we aren’t in a position to have “alone” time…like with small children. For example…My wonderful “Mr. Rutledge,” Mollie, and her mom, Marcia, came for dinner last night.

We had a terrific time, however, I did get tickled that there we were, three adults with an one year old… and it took everyone of us to keep Rutledge from catapulting down the stairs, off the beds or sofas or chairs…he was a blur of constant motion.

We had so many near misses….grabbing his diapers or t-shirt or toes before he hit the floor… because he has no fear. No matter how he flings himself off of objects someone always manages to grab some part of him at the last possible second before disaster hits.

I can’t help but think his complete trust in us that he won’t get hurt, no matter how quickly he dives and swoops off furniture and toys, is rather awesome to behold.

One day, of course, someone will miss and Rutledge’s innocent trust in the laws of gravity will be dashed and a part of  his carefree childhood will disappear into the dark woods of reality.

But for now…Rutledge is still on full speed ahead, holding our hands as he walks toward one or the other of us. Too soon he will let go and begin his own long odyssey….but Lord I am taking time right now to thank you for giving all of us just a little more time to enjoy his unconditional trust and love in us.  It feels so good!

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As the darkness descended…the solar lights began casting shadows over the twilight garden…a moment for all of us to stop and “self-nurture” (filling up at the “gas station” for a moment…thanking God for our individual blessings.)

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Letting Go of the World to Make a New Life For Ourselves

download (1)  Dear Reader:

William Wordsworth once complained, over two hundred years ago, that “The world is too much with us.”  Nothing much has changed in that regard, has it? (Except perhaps… with technological communication bombarding every corner of the world now… only increasing in its overly abundant influx on us… as our world grows smaller.)

We find ourselves torn between being an informed world citizen and wanting to run jump into bed and throw the cover over our heads. At some point we realize that we must make an important decision. If we are to live meaningful lives and find happiness along the way…we can’t stay seated in front of the television every evening watching the news and  moaning and groaning over the world’s problems.

We must turn away from the world and take the somewhat terrifying step of re-introducing ourselves to the person God wants us to be…to turn off the noise of the world and turn silently inward to reclaim our destiny.

It is only by reclaiming our inner life that we can then turn towards the outer world with the knowledge of what we can contribute to make it a better place for all of us.

Writer Beryl Markham once stated: “You can live a lifetime, and at the end of it, know more about other people than you know about yourself.”   ( A sad but true commentary)

I have talked several times about the innocent remark made to me (numerous times as a child and adolescent:) “Oh Becky you will do well in the try-outs, or interview, or speech….just be yourself.”  I would toss and turn all night before the big event because the problem was…I didn’t know who I was so how could I “be myself.”

I don’t think I was alone in my fearful response to this frequently given advice by adults. The problem is ….no adult (parent, relative, teacher, coach, administrator, counselor, or even pastor) ever told me to stop doing my homework, or watching television, or playing outside to come inside, go to my room, and let the silence of the moment release the ‘Divine spark’ within me. To take the first step in my long quest to discover myself and my place in the world by introducing myself to God and holding out my hand.

No matter what our age…we all have experienced a time when we felt out of sync with the world. We felt that we didn’t fit in to a school crowd, or community, or other organizations that others seemed to adapt to more easily. We sensed we were out of step with the rest of the world.

The time it takes us to remake our world will probably take longer than the six days it took God to create it. It will, quite truthfully, take a lifetime.

In order to live a deep and fulfilling co-existence with the world, we must restore order to our day…to create and maintain our own personal rhythm to it.

Remember, as children, how we had set times to get up, eat meals, go to school, do certain activities and chores, and finally a time to go to bed. ( As much as we complained back then…there was a certain security in the knowledge of these parental expectations.)

As adults when we don’t set routine schedules for ourselves we begin to lose our personal rhythm and fall out of step with the world. Think about it…God created a certain rhythm to His world from the beginning of creation…He scheduled duplication in motion when he created sunrise and sunset, the ebb and flow of tides, repeated cycle of four seasons, monthly phases of the moon, and yearly circles of time.

At some point in our lives the cares and concerns of the world will affect us personally…they won’t be able to be left behind. But if we have set our rhythm and picked up our lanterns, lit brightly for the dark paths ahead, there will be Light to illuminate our journey of self-discovery. (Sarah Breathnach)

So until tomorrow…Help us Father turn inward towards You before letting the world control us.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* Honey left me a precious little lantern to help keep me on my well-lit path before she headed back to the mountains…

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Gin-g stopped by to see me bringing beautiful fresh flowers and 2014 pennies that Fred collected and saved for me. She also brought me class records from my grandmother’s tenure at the Women’s College at Erskine in Due West….grandmother graduated in 1903.

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Mrs. Brawley (her husband was the music professor when I attended) is the archivist now for the college and helped Gin-g research my grandmother’s records. She remembered humorously the popular saying about Due West and the ARP’s strict guidelines of reverence for the Sabbath… once upon a time:

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“Even a rooster won’t crow on the Sabbath in Due West”!

 

 

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Conquering the Computer Gremlin…

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Dear Reader:

Sorry for the delay…A computer gremlin attacked yesterday morning and the Time-Warner “miracle worker” (technician) just drove him off a few minutes ago.

I have had problems (since returning from Ireland) accessing a network for the internet in intervals….then yesterday ….no matter how many times I turned the computer off… (my one and only trick) I couldn’t get on the internet….it kept telling me I had no networks available.

Went to Time-Warner yesterday afternoon and the earliest they could send someone was today…. they sent a technician with the name Iran…like the country. This Iran was funny, personable and knowledegable.  I ended up with a new modem, and new remote….plus my monthly bill is coming down… due to being a loyal longtime customer.

So in the end…not only is the computer gremlin gone…but I came out way ahead in the on-going struggle with technology. Life is good.

* Iran told me a big part of my internet problem had been that my modem was a 2008 model…too old to handle the needs of my computer today. 2008…(hummm)…the year I was diagnosed with “little c”….I felt a sense of elation…I have “out lived” a modem…I am gaining on technology! Who would have ever “thunk” it?

I will be back in action at 6:00 in the morning….hope you will return…our story will deal with knowing when to “fold”….when to turn off the world and concentrate on our own rhythm….continuing  our personal journey and not getting lost in the mayhem of world affairs.

Till then…go have a “favorite day”

Becky

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When the Authentic Self Smiles Back…

RobertCornelius  Dear Reader:

You might be asking yourself who this young fella is? This picture is the first known selfie, taken by Robert Cornelius in 1839.

Cornelius produced a daguerreotype of himself in 1839 which is also one of the first photographs of a person. Because the process was slow he was able to uncover the lens, run into shot for a minute or more, and then replace the lens cap. He recorded on the back “The first light picture ever taken. 1839.

Initially popular with young people, selfies gained wider popularity over time. By the end of 2012, Time magazine considered selfie one of the “top 10 buzzwords” of that year.

According to a 2013 survey, two-thirds of Australian women age 18–35 take selfies—the most common purpose for which is posting on Facebook. A poll commissioned by smartphone and camera maker Samsung found that selfies make up 30% of the photos taken by people aged 18–24.

By 2013, the word “selfie” had become commonplace enough to be monitored for inclusion in the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary. In November 2013, the word “selfie” was announced as being the “word of the year” by the Oxford English Dictionary, which gave the word itself an Australian origin.

………………………

For better or worse, like it or not, we are now living in the era of “selfies.” Personally I don’t care much for these quick photos taken from cameras and Iphones because my arm isn’t long enough to get a high angle and I always come out looking like some cartoon character with a big nose and one eye in the wrong place.

 Plus…a quick snapshot like this doesn’t show the real person behind the fast smile because most of the “shots” are distorted by distance or in this case…lack of…

There was a survey in Ladies Home Journal a few years back that posed the question: When do you feel most beautiful? The responses were insightful because none of them had anything to do with physical youth and beauty, or weight and beauty (which we are all brainwashed into by society today) or attire and beauty.

Instead women, all over the country, chose special times in their lives over the level of physical beauty staring back. Some chose their wedding day with one woman saying that she held up the ceremony for twenty minutes trying to get her hair just right (back in the day of “teasing” the “big hair.”) Finally she just plopped her veiled hat on her head, put a big smile on her face and marched out…

Now she said… when old friends and family stare at the photos of that special day…they never comment on her hair but the radiance glowing from her face.

Another woman chose the day she gave birth to her first child. She said the photo shows a “beached beluga” sitting up in a hospital bed and beaming from ear to ear holding her treasured daughter. Everyone who sees it starts laughing in the joy of that moment frozen in time.

Several women made an astute observation that reflects, once again, the glow in inner beauty which can transform outer beauty.

One woman had just finished her first seminar for her job and it had gone over wonderfully well…ending with a standing ovation. By the time she got back to her hotel, she accidentally caught her reflection, that of a beautiful woman, and initially didn’t even recognize herself.

She was genuinely astonished and even asked the mirror…”Who are you?” Intuitively she heard the answer….”I am your authentic self smiling back on you.” (She was still caught up in the exhilarating flow of life and it showed.)

Three different scenarios but one common denominator…LOVE. Love has the power to transcend our physical limitations.

Alice Walker once observed:  “The more I wonder, the more I love.”  

When we continue to search for the “wonder” of it all…we can’t help but notice the love bubbling up from deep within. When we reach the point where wonder and love replaces foundation and blush..the most radiant woman in the world emerges.

Personally I have noticed lately…at the age I am now (happily) that I find my authentic self smiling back when it is set against a natural miracle of God’s world. The following photos are set against the ocean and just recently the Angel Oak. Both backdrops filled me with “wonder and love.”

(Massive spaces and formations like stars, oceans, mountains, and canyons used to make me feel small and insignificant in the big scheme of things. No longer. Now I feel especially blessed to be just little old Becky…unique like everyone else..and equally loved by God.)

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So until tomorrow…Let us never stop “wondering and loving” so our faces reflect our love of life in the deepest sense possible…as a special blessing from God.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* Anybody can take a “selfie” as seen in the following picture….and darn if it isn’t better than most humans! This macaca was just curiously wondering what this apparatus (camera) was all about when he picked it up and took his picture! (Imitating his human mentors)

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*Last night Eva Cate mimicked me by putting on my reading glasses and parading around…

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*Right behind John and Mandy’s home a family of geese live…they are always crossing the street to get to….the other pond. Their antics are so human like…they always bring a smile to my face. I really believe that there should be a “goose” crossing sign for them…like this one.

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*  And now for my “mirror” selfie…Something put a HUGH SMILE on my face yesterday…the total number of views went over 250,000! Thank you…thank you…dear readers!

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(You will notice that everything is backwards (besides part of my head cut off)…rather ironic since that is how I feel my life has been lived on many an occasion…but backwards or forwards, head on or off…I am loving my life…my “golden years”!)

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“If It Is To Be…It Is Up to Me”!

abraham_goldenyears  Dear Reader:

Yesterday I was reminded of a wonderful lesson by my Ya friend, Libby. We were talking on the phone and she informed me of an earlier conversation she had with her sister-in-law about the “Golden Years.”

They were both lamenting that what they were experiencing now (loss of spouse, health problems among family members, etc.) was not what they had imagined the “Golden Years” would be like while striving to get there.

After Libby hung up and a had a few moments to process the conversation…she got mad…at herself. She called back up and said…“Forget what I complained about earlier…the ‘Golden Years’ might be different than what I dreamed…but doggone it…they are MY “Golden Years” and I refuse to waste them worrying about things I can’t control. Nope! I am going to dance my way through life from this point on.

And that is exactly what she did! My brother (Ben) plays in a reunion band out of Winnsboro (beach music) and they were putting on a street dance. Libby called her family and said that she was going…alone if necessary…but going. Instead her son-in-law Collin (best shagger in SC) daughter, Betsy, and two granddaughters…Hailey and Becca all climbed in her car and off they went. It was a night for the family memory album!

10271592_10152614629689878_1416713052275966192_n  (Ben is the second performer from the right…back row) He plays guitar.

10553380_10152614631029878_3153913022053800959_n Ben and Libby

10525863_10152614630539878_6529493140151312912_n Her lifetime dream came true…a picture with Jackie Gore from the original Embers.

Can’t we all learn a lesson from Libby?  A refusal to give in to life’s disappointments but instead…seize the moment and dance until we can’t dance any more.

It was Libby’s mother (Miss Nell…Mama Grits) who always emphasized the little “ditty” (10 -2 letter- words)… in the blog title…telling her:

“If it is to be…It is up to me!” 

It is our responsibility to turn things around when life gives us lemons…not to make lemonade…but to dance!

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How true! So until tomorrow…let us all seize the moment and then savor it until all the chewing gum flavor is gone!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* I am running late…off to keep Eva Cate so mom and dad can have a much deserved evening out!

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A Day of “Angels” and “Cups of Tea”

shopping  Dear Reader:

Honey is home from the mountains for a few days and we planned a girls out lunch yesterday…we were both craving a “California Dreaming” salad with that wonderful dressing and a cup of soup…for me the mashed potato soup and for Honey the she-crab soup. Soup is comfort food at its best…between friends.

But first we had one “small” detour in the shape of Eva Cate who  wanted Boo Boo to come see her swim at Aunt Doodle’s. It turned out to be a girls’ pool party with Doodle, Mandy, and Eva Cate (Carrie was on her way)…while Honey and I pulled up chairs in the shade and just enjoyed watching the fun…before leaving for Charleston and “California Dreaming.”

img_1638img_1642  Eva Cate was showing me her breathing techniques…obviously.

img_1643  Doodle and Mom were hanging in there quite well when I departed….

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Honey and I were off and the soup and salad lived up to our expectations and more….just as good as we remembered. (the “Carolina Girl” yacht is right behind us…and we are proud to be be one of those gals!

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Then our second “detour” began. I had mentioned to Honey the day before that I have never seen the “Angel Oak”…and Honey said we were over halfway there from the restaurant…”Let’s do it.”

Massive…the only word for “The Angel Oak”…simply massive…the eye can’t take it all in at first glance. I have always heard stories about “talking trees” of “if trees could talk…what stories they would tell”…but I actually felt a tinge of sadness as I stared at this impressive gift of nature. To be able to observe 1500 years of history without being able to share your story must be tough for this lowcountry favorite.

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The oak derives its name from the estate of Justis and Martha Angel, and local folklore tells stories of ghosts of former slaves appearing as angels around the tree.

* Author Denise Roffe in her Ghosts and Legends of Charleston, South Carolina, interviewed an elderly African-American woman who was descended from the slaves who once toiled on the island’s plantations before the Civil War. She recounted the legends of the tree including that the tree was once home to huge birds (probably vultures) who would feast on the bodies of slaves hung in the tree.

The old woman continued saying that many people were buried under the tree including Native Americans who met under its shady branches before the area was settled by the white man. She stated that these spirits are still experienced around the oak and that they also work to protect the tree. Certainly if there are bodies under the soft ground around the tree, it’s not hard to imagine that the tree has fed off of the remains, adding to the tree’s allure.

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  • After saying good-bye to the Angel Oak…we started home…or so we thought. Suddenly Honey stated that she thought she had taken a different road out than in…nothing looked familiar…(I thought I was back in Ireland) Suddenly we were doing a  “wheelie” and turning into….img_1669
  • “Have you been to the Tea Garden here on the island?” Honey asked….I shook my head and our wrong detour took us to another wonderful site.
  • We didn’t have time to take the trolley tour but we helped ourselves to some tea (mine was peach…delicious) found a rocking chair and felt the cool breezes blowing in on the piazza

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I then saw a sign and realized it might be my last chance to find my Prince Charming…I gave it my all…but a toad is a toad is a toad…even a cute one named Waddy.

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By the time I got home it was after four…lost in the land and time of detours…what better way to spend the day.

When I looked on line for a picture of an angel with a teacup…this Willow Tree angel popped up. I love Willow Tree angels…have several and think I need to add this one to the collection …so I will always have warm memories of this special day.

The inscription on this particular angel describes her this way…a perfect ending to the day.

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A cup of tea warms the body and soothes the soul. With her china teapot perched securely in her outstretched hands, the Angel of the Kitchen offers warmth, security, and the sweet promise of friendship. After all, a dish prepared with love is like balm to a weary soul. This sweet angel is the ideal gift for someone who loves cooking, someone who generously opens her home, or someone who simply shares her heart over a cup of tea. Warm comfort between friends.

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Today, all of us at Dorchester Presbyterian Church, will say good-bye to a special friend and generously talented philanthropist-Margaret Jones… in every type of craft imaginable…Give Margaret a piece of material and only time stood between it and a finished quilt, cap, prayer shawl extraordinaire…you name it…Margaret could make it.

God must have needed another seamstress and has He ever got one…she was “perfection” with a needle while still here on earth…I can only imagine her talents in Heaven…the angels must all be singing joyfully at the latest addition. (Their wings will never look better…)

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So until tomorrow….Thank you Father…for adventures with a friend to go see “angels” “spirits” “family mermaids” and taste peach tea…a day of comfort and peace.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

10352839_10204601230776481_8623295271985681835_n * Welcome Susan to Boo’s B&B….Susan came to attend a funeral service yesterday of a former neighbor and will stay for Margaret’s funeral today. She is staying in the “Eva Cate” guest bedroom.

 

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Balancing Creativity and Clutter!

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Dear Reader:

All my life I have been involved (in a futile battle) by trying to maintain a clean home with everything in its place. The battle continues. I do admit that retirement brought me reinforcements (for my “troops”) in the form of time and numbers residing within the house…one…me.

(And believe me readers…if you keep grandchildren daily in your home or have extended family members living there…don’t even try to keep up the maintenance required for a “dream” home…just keep applying for the wonderful contest in which the “twins” (on HGTV) arrive with a sledge hammer in both hands.

For years  I would watch my “soaps” and dream of living in one of those fantasy homes where the main characters were always dressed immaculately (even down to manicure and pedicure) gazing idly at a magazine…flipping through the pages, nonchalantly… when behold…the doorbell rings.

Our “heroine” floats to the open door and whether the visitor was friend or foe…the ensuing conversation was staged within a beautiful setting where no dust was allowed to settle.

During the commercials I remember I would look around my den and literally pull the sofa pillow over my head. If anyone was to unexpectedly ring my doorbell…it would be massive panic time! Screaming at the kids to shut their bedroom doors…adding water and bubbles to cover the dirty dishes in the sink….stuffing clothing under the sofa pillows… blowing (with my mouth) old potato chips (off the sofa) onto a paper plate used as a dustpan.

But then it happened… one day time opened up new possibilities… I found myself alone in the house and did a survey of the house damage  to date. (massive)

It dawned on me that it was my moment…I could do this! I could use my creativity and still get rid of the cluttered mess which weighed me down like bar bells on an angel’s wings.

With many friends’ encouragement…and by learning to take it step by step…( so as not to become overwhelmed and give up)…the home I had always wanted started taking shape.

*It will be a lifetime project…due to budgetary restraints…but still I keep taking baby steps and every time something new is added…my excitement and joy know no bounds!

My priorities, now, are a clean “Happy Room” and bathroom on my side of the house… while giving myself permission to keep the computer room (my creating room) the kitchen and bedrooms “moderately” acceptable. *I know my limitations…I simply don’t have it in my genetic make-up to keep every single room in tip top condition all the time.

If I did…I wouldn’t write a daily blog, have lunch with friends, go to Ireland, keep the grandchildren or any other top priorities in my life. For me…that type of clean house represents too much sacrifice of time and think about it…what is the best that can come out of a “sterile” home? A eulogy where people stand up and say” She was the cleanest person I ever knew…you could eat off her floors.”  (Personally I would rather be eating out with friends!)

* I was also quite relieved to discover that the expression “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is not found in scripture. My research indicates it goes back to some Babylonian text and was later paraphrased by Francis Bacon. Much later… John Wesley  wrote: ” Slovenliness is no part of religion. Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness.”

Jesus loves me this I know“… even if my house never wins any coveted honor for cleanest house on the block. After all (think about it) Jesus wanted Mary and Martha to join Him in the social conversation during His visit and (for Heaven’s Sake) quit cleaning and cooking! *Jesus would have won me over with just this one story.

A few years ago I even discovered the “secret” behind the soap opera fantasy homes I spent (way too much time) coveting while trying to survive real life in a real home. It is a cinematographer trick called “pulling focus.” The camera lens are adjusted very slowly for the sharpest clarity of one object that draws watchers attention distracting them from other problem areas.

Hallelujah! It was true…The faces of the main actors took up the whole screen leaving the living area a blur behind them…it was all an illusion! No real person could pull off this “dust-less” abode without an army of servants. I had been vindicated!

Sarah Breathnach reminds us in her essay (“The Personality of Your Home”) to look at our homes through different eyes:

Today, no matter where or how you live, look upon your home through the eyes of Love. Walk around the rooms and offer thanks for the walls and roof that safely enclose you and yours. Pause for a moment to consider all the women who have lost their homes through death, divorce, debt, or disaster. Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that, at this moment, all you have is all you truly need.”  

So until tomorrow…”Amen” to Sarah Breathnach’s observation. We have a roof over our head, food on the table, friends and family to love… who (miraculously) love us back. It doesn’t get any better than this.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* This past year it is the garden that distracts me from home  chores while vying for my whole attention…which I give generously.

So I will use my newly learned technique of “pulling focus” to bring the beauty of my outdoor “home” to you readers. Remember to focus on the flower or plant…not the weeds!

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I love my new garden flag!

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I realized when I went over to the B&B (next door) a few days ago that the morning glory vines were hanging down between the storm door and the blue “haint” door…so I used my old left-over stick pins from my classroom to drag the vines back up and over to the back brick porch wall. My porch will soon be a “safari” hunt while crossing back and forth…and I love the thought!

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“Organized Chaos”

996  Dear Reader:

As a teacher myself, and later as a mentor to student teachers (clinical interns) I would assure them that if I happened to come for an observation on a day when their class “appeared” chaotic…for them not to become unglued.

The only criteria I would use in my observation would be one of ….“Is this lesson being presented in a creative and “lively” manner that affords students an opportunity to move around, shout out answers in glee, and embrace learning?” If so…proceed with my blessings!

Many of my own lessons definitely bordered on “organized chaos” during my teaching tenure…They were the very lessons that my adult/students remind me of when I meet them years, even decades later, in the grocery store with their own children.

One such lesson was a “Mock Nuremberg Trial” where we put five real and five fictitious people on trial for their personal contribution to the Holocaust. There was lots of arguing over the testimonies because at the end of the “trial” each student had to vote on the “degree” of each participant’s guilt… from 0 (not guilty) to 5 (pre-meditated) and then apply the consequences accordingly.

The votes would be counted…and the number with the most votes would be the final verdict. Cheers and moans of disagreement would audibly filter down the hallways.

Before I walked into my class each year for that particular lesson…I took a deep breath, reminded myself that the classes would be “chaotic”… according to school inter-disciplinary rules… and that I would probably leave with a headache at the end of the day…BUT it would make my students think at a higher moral level then many had ever been forced to do. It would be worth the “organized chaos.”

Haven’t we all had those days outside the classroom? We have our list of  “to do” items and a time-line to do them in and suddenly by the third item…nothing has been completed…our frustration is mounting…our minds are scrambled and the world suddenly appears chaotic and out of order?

What should we do? Stop fighting the unseen forces of chaos and go with the flow.

Margaret Wheatley, in her article, ‘The Other Side of Chaos is Order” adds this bit of observation about humans living in a seemingly chaotic world.

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Chaos is when people move into such deep confusion that they let go of their present conceptions of how to solve a problem. When they move into that place of not knowing, and stay there for a while, what happens is that the process of “self organization” kicks in.

Living systems, when confronted with change, have the capacity to fall apart so that they can reorganize themselves to be better adapted to their current environment.

We always knew that things fell apart, we just didn’t know that organisms have the capacity to reorganize, to self-organize. We didn’t know this until the Noble-Prize-winning work of Ilya Prigogine in the late 1970′s.

But you can’t self-organize, you can’t transform, you can’t get to bold new answers unless you are willing to move into that place of confusion and not-knowing —  chaos -and emerge more creative and stronger for the plunge.

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I think it isn’t just old generals…but teachers, also, who have a tendency to just “fade away.” It happens in such subtle ways…that teachers don’t recognize the change at first.

It starts innocently enough…

One day during one year of anyone’s teaching career comes that moment when we look over our lesson plans and see the “fun, creative, hands-on project” on tap for the next day  …sigh quietly and make the decision to just skip it this year…promising to pick it back up the next. Our excuse…we just need a little more quiet in the classroom the next day… after all…we have had a tough week.

Unknowingly( at least at first) we are sacrificing learning at its best for “order” in the classroom and in our lives. Soon other highly active lessons begin to fall too, by the way side, until one day we realize  we are losing the excitement of learning as reflected in the students’ eyes.

Decision time…return to “organized chaos” stronger and most self-assured…or let go…find another job and/or retire. It is time to let another fresh face with new ideas and a high tolerance for ” organized chaos” be there for our children.

It is, also, time to provide the future problem solvers the opportunity to understand that the creative (original) idea/solution lies in each person on the other side of the ravine of chaos…called order…but first one must travail the ravine.

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So until tomorrow…Let us not despair when we are confused by mis-perceptions of a chaotic world. With God’s help we can step back, re-examine the problem, and answer with our own unique and creative response to the problem.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

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When the Wheel Rolls Off…Keep Pushing!

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Dear Reader:

Pride cometh before the fall“…or in my case before the lawn mower wheel falls off! I had just smugly thought about what a good job I was doing all by myself, when I made a turn, heard a “klunk” sound and started back up the next row with a “three wheeler” cutting machine! I glanced behind and saw the fourth wheel still spinning…rolling the other way….free at last!

I woke up early yesterday morning and decided I would save some money this month (have car and property insurance looming in the immediate future) by cutting the grass myself. I am one of those crazy people who really enjoys cutting the grass.

Unlike house work… that never ends….yard work, especially cutting the yard, fills me with great satisfaction…because it will stay looking nice for a couple of weeks at least…unlike the constant chores awaiting my attention inside.

In this heat, it is just the weeds that “take off”  in the hot summer months…but getting to roll over them with the lawn mower, cutting them down to the “quick,” gives me a powerful feeling of dominance over those “knee highs” (weeds) crumbling before me.

When the wheel popped off and started rolling the other way…I was over halfway finished…I really just had the inside of the garden to do. I refused to stop with victory so close…so I tilted that old lawn mower and kept on cutting on my “three wheeler.”

Perseverance does pay off…. Look at the results!img_1628img_1629 The sweet taste of TRIUMPH!

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Monday afternoon Ann G. and Michele R. stopped by to visit after the weekly Lectionary Luncheon at our church. I asked them what the topic of the sermon was going to be for this Sunday.

They replied that it was the parable about the seed and the weed. “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared”… 

While cutting the grass on my “three wheeler” yesterday…I thought about the relationship between seeds and weeds. (To try to save me from having to pull so many weeds by hand, especially the ones growing in among the flowers and plants, I got as close as I could to the flower or plant with the lawn mower, so it could cut as many weeds as possible…saving my back and fingers from the chore later.)

Of course, occasionally, it also got the flower, along with the weeds…such is life. I have a feeling God understood my dilemma…I doubt He likes pulling weeds by hand either.

After I took a very cold shower and ate a late breakfast I went to the computer to think about today’s blog and discovered this anecdote that had just popped up under Sermons.com. I had to laugh…”Perfect God…I owe You one!”

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 – “Pulling Weeds”

  Every gardener knows that planting seeds is the easy part of having a successful garden. It is much more time consuming to weed that same garden. And it’s hard work. As someone has said: “When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.”

 There is a corollary to that truth: “To distinguish flowers from weeds, simply pull up everything. What grows back is weeds.”

 Some of you can relate to one unknown homemaker who wrote:

I don’t do windows because . . . I love birds and don’t want one to run into a clean window and get hurt. I don’t wax floors because . . . I am terrified a guest will slip and get hurt then I’ll feel terrible (plus they may sue me.)I don’t disturb cobwebs because . . . I want every creature to have a home of their own. I don’t Spring Clean because . . . I love all the seasons and don’t want the others to get jealous. I don’t put things away because . . . my husband will never be able to find them again. I don’t do gourmet meals when I entertain because . . . I don’t want my guests to stress out over what to make when they invite me over for dinner. I don’t iron because . . . I choose to believe them when they say “Permanent Press.”

* Now folks…that is my kind of gal! Especially when she ends her cleaning “philosophy” with…

And finally… I don’t pull weeds in the garden because . . . I don’t want to get in God’s way, He is an excellent designer!

So until tomorrow…let’s take this gal’s advice and stay out of God’s way when it comes to pulling weeds…after all…they are green and sometimes even prettier than the “real” flower beside it.” They deserve their moment in the sun too. (That’s my story and I am sticking with it!)

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Updates: Move over Elsa from the movie Frozen….Brookie is now the new “Ice Queen.” She has to change the ice eye pads on her eyes every half hour. At night she takes pain killers and sleeps the night away.

Brooke said to thank everyone for your prayers…the surgery went like “clock work” and now it is just a matter of letting time heal. Go Brookie!

Jackson’s sister Em is having further tests done that will take some more time…but let’s keep all those prayers coming…they are a formidable weapon for sure!

Mandy is getting Eva Cate to help her make t-shirts for the big arrival  October 1…t-shirts for baby brother and big sis.

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Ann Graves said she remembered a mirror (from Sunday School class, perhaps…trying to recall the occasion) I gave her…

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Here it is! It has been on my bathroom counter since you gave it to me. I look at it often! Thank you!

 Thank you so much for the visit yesterday and the tour of the garden!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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