The Path to Summer and Continued Changes

Dear Reader:

I realize for most of you looking at this picture,  it doesn’t hold any special interest…the dappling light is pretty but it is simply a driveway.

To me…it is a complete renovation to this side of my property and house. Before I started clearing it (with lots of help from my firemen/ lawn maintenance ‘guardian angels’ last year) Hollywood could have come in and shot a scene for a Vietnam documentary right here… and the audience wouldn’t have known the difference!

You couldn’t even hardly find the asphalt driveway for the tons of leaves and natural debris falling (from my neighbors’ trees) obliterating any vision of what was underfoot… finally piling up and settling in… beside the brick wall of my house.

Lots and lots and lots of bamboo came down…but it is a constant fight all spring and  summer. I cleared out planting spots on each side of the driveway which now contains moon flower vines, a ginger shell, baskets of flowers and two small hydrangea bushes. It is my favorite spot to walk in the cool early morning hours or late in the evening before the sun finally gives up its domain for another day.

As I am typing away on this blog post it is nice and cool in the house but that has only been the case for the last 24 hours. I, voluntarily, challenged myself to see if I could make it to the Summer Solstice (last Thursday) before turning on the air conditioner. I did it! 🙂

For any of you that live in the lowcountry…your mouth might be agape in disbelief right now…but quite honestly it was pretty much a “breeze” …because of my sunken den, two powerful ceiling fans, door size front windows and french doors coming off the bedroom. Up until just a day or two before I left for the mountains it was easily do-able. The mountain trip came just in the nick of time…because I would have caved!

But as soon as I got back I was thankful the summer solstice had arrived. I woke up early Thursday morning  and bought a new air filter. I, then, turned on the air conditioning unit and everything worked like clock work. Whew!

*Guidepost put this 2 minute video out on the mysterious origins and traditions behind the Summer Solstice- quite interesting!

The last two months I have had the lowest electric bills since I can ever remember. It is amazing how economical it would be for everyone if we all lived in a climate that needed no heat or cool air pumped into our homes. Still… we must pay close attention to the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for…it might come true.”I would miss the change of seasons even though, quite honestly, I am starting to miss them already. These days they seem to all blur together. It is pretty much like the poster (below) says:

I have noticed recently with this on-going heat wave that everyone is trying to come up with some kind of witty response (about the weather) to use when we bump into each other at the grocery store, church, or wherever.

So I thought I would help everyone out by sharing these suggestions I saw in a Southern Living magazine.

It’s not the heat—it’s the humidity.

It’s hotter’n blue blazes.

Is it hot enough for ya?

Man, it’s hot as all get-out!

It must be 90 in the shade.

This one’s gonna be a scorcher.

You could fry an egg on the sidewalk.

You could fry an egg on the hood of that car.


*If you have some more ideas…send them on in….I have a bad feeling we are going to need a lot of “Hot” come-back responses this summer!

With all my extra savings…I plan to start making some subtle home improvements (which really just mean replacing parts of the house that need new parts…soft planks, new tile, replacing old carpet etc. etc.) I have enough home improvement jobs to last me a lifetime…so I will just take on one at a time… for as long as I can.

“Inch by inch, row by row…Gonna make this garden grow.”

And speaking of gardens…here are the latest “show-offs!

So until tomorrow…Heat wave or not….thank you God for this day, for every day we breathe in and breathe out Your praise.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

The Turners are in Huntsville visiting BB and W.T.! I think Eva Cate and Jakie have been trying on someone else’s shoes. I know everyone is having fun!

Mollie, Lachlan, and Eloise are with family in NH…a lot going on with wedding preparations and lots of family activities. Rutledge stayed behind for his camps he is involved in this summer. Yesterday he finished up Soccer Camp with his buddy Myer and Great Aunt Sharon gets to hold sweet Eloise.

As we were leaving Mike and Honey’s last Wednesday I stopped and took a photo of Honey’s pretty barrel on the deck. It was the cute plaque that drew me to it…which read:

The only change the Ya’s would make is:

” A LOVEABLE TEDDY BEAR lives here with his HONEY”

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Thin Places and Thin Layers

Dear Reader:

This beautifully whimsical painting of St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope by New Zealand artist, Gerda Smit, always makes me smile. She actually saw a picture of the chapel on-line and then drew her creative interpretation of it. Later another New Zealander, Matt Oliver, saw the painting on Face Book, called the artist and bought a reproduction for his room. He then let me know about it significance to him in his life-(He thought I was the owner.)

He said the painting (now on his bedroom wall) gave him “hope for a better life when we pass from this world into the future. I guess I could say hope is why I have faith. In a world where I am bombarded by the requirement for absolute proof every day, having faith can be challenging, yet I know the moment God shows himself and provides the absolute proof…then there will no longer be a need for faith. 

So there you have it, a tiny chapel seemingly in the middle of nowhere, now hangs on the wall of a house literally half way around the world, in the North Island of New Zealand.

St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope is my personal “thin place.” I think it is for Matt also…even  never having seen it in person.

Author Karen White, in her latest book ‘Dreams of Falling’ describes thin places.

Caol Ait: Thin Places.

“Gaelic for where this world and the next are said to be too close. According to legend, heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in thin places, that distance is even closer.

…Thin places are places where time stands still and the secular world brushes against the sacred.”

From the first time I entered St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope in July 2010 I felt a warm, hospitable Presence there…it was as if Beverly Barutio (creator and owner) was welcoming me to her special place. That sense of homecoming and total acceptance has never left me…visit after visit. Time does stand still each time I go… I feel like the clock stops ticking for those precious minutes I spend there.

Kelly Rae Roberts wrote down her thoughts on ‘thin places’ taking another perspective which I like too…thin places in our daily lives and experiences.

“I think life’s intimacy meet us in those thin places where things are both messy and beautiful, where perhaps our hearts feel like train wrecks but we still work to see the delicate beauty that lives in those spaces. Transitions are where the ground is fertile for this kind of intimacy: grief work, new parenthood, any experience where we are forced to transform into a new way of being in the world.

“…These are the moments. They force us to trust our own hearts, stay a little longer in what feels hard, and come through with a clearer sense of not just ourselves, but also how joy and hard often live together, and how that is a beautiful, messy truth.” 

I like the idea that there are sacred places, thin places that speak to us spiritually while we are ‘trusting the truth’ and discovering who we really are inside. A winning combination…tough but worth achieving.

You can imagine while my thoughts were headed in that direction, I was temporarily detoured by another article that talked about “Thin Layers.” Thin layers? The more I read the more I realized the importance of both in my life.

Source: Author: Elizabeth Minkel

There’s a quote from the author Paul Bogard in the first episode of our new podcast, “The Thin Layer,” that has haunted me ever since I heard it:

…in the States and in Europe people spend between 90 and 95 percent of their time inside now…I started to think that for most of us, even when we walk outside, we walk on pavements and it really spoke to me of how we become so separated from the ground at our feet. We just never touch our feet to soil, we never touch our feet to natural ground.

Life depends on a thin layer of soil, wrapped around the planet like the skin of an apple. A quarter of all life itself actually lives in soil. We grow our food in it; it is a source of medicines and illness; it filters our water; it provides nutrition for our food. Its importance is incalculable—but it’s easy to miss.

After reading this article…I realized that so much of the lure of the mountains is the outside nature part…the views from different elevations, the forests, the rocks, the streams and rivers….and yes…the soil…the ground. Without it as the foundation to support the mountains…there would be none. Isn’t it sad that people can live and die in the world today without ever having touched their “feet to soil, or natural ground?

So until tomorrow…Look upward, keep climbing…but always keep your feet on the ground.

“Today is my favorite day.”

* Several of you were interested in getting more information about Juice Plus so I called my friend Janet and here is her contact information. She said she would love to talk to you or email/text…whatever you prefer and answer all your questions.

*I love it…and it makes me feel better about getting enough veggies and fruits in me daily.

Janet Bender

on Facebook & Messenger:
Janet M Bender
“Nutritionally Fueled” page

We went shopping while at Honey’s pottery “stash”  and I brought back a wonderful assortment of more small vases to put a pretty little flower or blossom in… to bring a smile to someone needing a smile. I love them.


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So Lucky to Be in the Mountains!

Dear Reader:

After we got to Mike and Honey’s around 4:00 Monday afternoon (lots of roadwork on I-26) I went to one of their bathrooms to freshen up from the trip and on the side wall was this cute hanging and message:

That pretty much sums up our feelings for this special adventure…we knew how lucky we were every moment we were there.

One does wonder why the highway department waits until summer, with vacationers packing the interstate, to go to one-lane situations causing parking lots for miles and lots of idling with air conditioners struggling to keep running with all the delays. But we made it and oh how worth the trip it was. Brooke’s expression says it all!


We had talked, all the way up, about the one image we kept in our thoughts while packing to come…Mike and Honey’s wrap-around deck with the water falls and chimes bringing tranquility and amazingly cool, cool breezes to our rocking chairs! We saw lots of beautiful scenery on the back roads but Pinnacle Mountain held everything we needed right there. Sunsets were drop-dead gorgeous!

Here are some of the scenes we saw from the deck and yard.

…And one recent mystery was solved! As we were taking our luggage in the house we commented on the new screen-like doors on the front porch and leading out to the back deck. We thought it was to keep out mosquitoes and no-see-ums which dominate  lowcountry summers. To our surprise…Honey told me it was to keep out the ‘HUMMINGBIRDS!’

They have so many hummingbirds at that elevated level that they started flying into the house when there were no screen back in early spring. Honey said they would then panic and fly from room to room trying to get out…sometimes hurting themselves, temporarily, in the process. The situation got so bad that she ordered magnetic screens and the problem was solved!

So why haven’t we been seeing as many hummingbirds this spring/summer? It is just too darn hot I think! They apparently have all moved to the mountains…and since we enjoyed 70’s in the evenings and 60’s for temps in the morning…we don’t blame them one bit! 🙂

Tuesday was the day for our pilgrimage to St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope. I packed up prayer lists and photos from friends who wanted pictures left at the chapel…I said  a prayer that it would be a special encounter…and the little chapel did not disappoint!

Honey made a huge breakfast, Tuesday morning, after a fabulous homemade supper Monday night…5 Star cuisine! And we were off. It used to be we were completely lost in our directional memories each time Honey took us…but this time we sensed when we were getting close and started remembering all the landmarks we pass right before turning in. My heart was pounding. There it was…looking better than ever! Three years had passed and the chapel was aging well.

Someone had stained/painted the outside of the chapel…the entrance stain glass window over the door had been cracked and now was fixed…the chapel was smiling proudly down on us. It had undergone a “fixer upper.”

The name of Mike and Honey’s water falls are “Hope Falls” and “Spring Creek” runs behind the chapel…On this visit it was almost the last day of spring (before the first official day of summer) and hope was still “springing” eternal behind the chapel. Just beautiful!

I couldn’t believe when I looked at the crowded table top at the front of the little chapel. The first picture I ever left at the chapel was one of me, Mandy, and newborn Eva Cate. It was miraculously still there…a little battered with time but still visible. I could still see the quote I had written on the back of it…

“Love is the child that breathes our breath. Love is the child that scatters death.” William Blake

I added the latest picture of me with the four oldest grandchildren at Easter with Eloise’s photo in the back along with a message….that these five grandchildren have kept me breathing for the last decade by showing me a new, deeper kind of love.

*Kathy…I placed your adorning photo/message in a very special place…will send you a copy of the pictorial placement later today with the story behind it.

There was an instantaneous moment when all four of us shared a remarkable moment…one that will never be forgotten. A circle of love and friendship. Sealed in each of our memories.

I left my prayer list in an envelope in the front drawer and told St. Jude’s good-bye until we meet again…whenever that is to be.

Before heading to Hot Springs for lunch…we stopped by two other familiar landmarks in Trust…The covered bridge over “Madison County” and the next little community four miles away…simply called “Luck.”

I suppose the idea is when you leave “trust” behind a little “luck” always helps. (*With a little luck someone will fix the community sign before it falls down.) There is only one building (which has seen better days) in Luck…but still it is quaint! I love it. One second you are in Luck and the next second you are “out of Luck.

But one is never out of luck with a friend like Honey

If laughter is the best medicine…I think all five of us should be cured of everything we have ever had or will possibly catch. We laughed both nights out on the deck until my stomach muscles hurt. Mike and Honey are too cute! Suddenly everyone was remembering their favorite jokes and stories. Was it just luck or something else…like the legend of the hummingbirds. 

Legend says that the hummingbird floats free of time, carrying hope for love,joy, and celebration. The hummingbird is  delicate grace reminding us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and THAT LAUGHTER IS LIFE’S SWEETEST CREATION.

So until tomorrow…”Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God. (*Kurt Vonnegut)  Never be afraid to follow the path less traveled because at the end of the trail one might find St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope.

 “Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

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Collect Moments…Not Things

Dear Reader:

Tomorrow I will be home and there is no doubt that the collection of ‘moments’ will have far exceeded the collection of ‘things!

I can hardly wait to sort through this fast excursion of happy adventures into memory compartments, so I can tell the story with a beginning, middle, and ending.

When we focus on moments...we don’t let ‘things’ become a deterrent to our goals in life. Living a fulfilling life doesn’t have anything to do with ‘things’… instead, it is all about feelings. When I get down…thinking that I am letting others down by not striving harder to do this or that…I just have to stop and focus instead on my own personal “why?”

“Why” is this goal so important to me? If the gut-wanting feeling is still deep inside…then we need to start climbing those moments again and walking around the obstacles of “things” that deter us from our goal.

Sometimes we have to be our own best coach…cheering ourselves on when negative voices inside try to make us quit….stop short of the life’s works we want to be remembered by…accompanied by the feelings people will remember about us while we kept ‘keeping on…keeping on’ along our journey.

So until tomorrow…Do something different today…it doesn’t have to be big…just a small daily decision that breaks the ‘same-old, same-old ‘ patterns of our daily lives. “Instead of ‘same-old’ let’s try “brand new!” Then smile!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Last of the “pretties” before I left. I feel sure I will be returning to some dried up thirsty plants (neighbors/friends are all out of town too)…but ‘mama’ is coming…ready to fight off mosquitoes and ‘no-see-ums” to let her garden ‘children’ drink the water and be restored.


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You Didn’t Come This Far to Only Come This Far

Dear Reader:

Haven’t we all experienced those middle of the projects blues when we can’t decide whether to go forward or turn back?

I remember the first time going to St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope thinking that this chapel had magically disappeared or we were completely lost! We were going to have to turn around and go back to Honey’s home on Pinnacle Mountain. (I should have known if Honey is driving…you will get to any location anywhere…she is amazing!)  There is no “straight” path to the little ‘chapel in the woods’ from any direction.

The reason so many people, including me, visually miss it the first time…is that the road takes a right curve where it is located. Drivers are concentrating on this approaching curve around the right of the road and the little chapel is up on the left (at the same time) probably laughing at all of us. It is in plain sight…yet simultaneously, unless you turn your head to the left going around the curve to the right…it is easily missed.

By the time you turn around and head back…there it is in plain sight…like it just magically appeared out of nowhere! I do believe the little chapel keeps a twinkle in its eye welcoming all us “lost souls.”

It will be almost eight years to the day when I first laid eyes on the Chapel of Hope. It was a hot July day (2010) and the little chapel, itself, was really hot (no electricity) too. Despite this…I felt a presence the moment I stepped in…an affinity was created before I ever saw the first picture of Beverly Barutio or read her story.

I felt a sense of homecoming. It is a place where the weary of mind, heart, soul, and body feel relief from physical problems… medications,treatments, and over-thinking situations. It is a special spot where one can solely focus on spiritual healing.

Today I think of this little chapel as a center of wonder in my life…a catalyst for change. It has connected me to family members of Bill and Beverly Barutio. It has connected friends and strangers to it through the blog…even if someone has never seen it. It has connected me to all of you readers…What an amazing mystical little chapel!

I love the connection now to all the painters of this chapel….Carolyn Serrano, New Zealand painter Gerda Smit, Joan Turner, and even “Chicken Man.”

Each time I return to the chapel I do question if I am doing enough with the time I have been given…“I don’t want to stop short of my life’s goals…to have come this far to only come this far.”

This is the question I will be leaving behind, along with a list of prayers for special people in my life and mementos from friends to leave for other friends. The chapel is on sacred ground, a “thin place,” and everyone feels open enough to leave behind their written thoughts, concerns, and hopes within its special walls.

So until tomorrow…Let us strive to go as far as our wandering takes us…never doubting the destination but fully living the journey.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

A “pretty” hibiscus taken from a neighbor’s yard before I left!




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When Was the Last Time You Did Something for the First Time?

Dear Reader:

God does work in mysterious ways. I am leaving today, along with Brooke and Jackson, to go see our our favorite mountain couple, Honey and Mike, to make our (long-awaited) pilgrimage return to St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope.

There is no doubt that this experience will feel like seeing it again “for the first time.” Every time I return the encounter takes a new twist and turn for me spiritually. I have been away too long and I am anxious to re-visit the place that “birthed” the creation of the on-going eight-year old blog...Chapel of Hope Stories.

I can always remember the year the blog began – it was Eva Cate’s birth year (2010.)

I left my first 3-month old grandchild to go see a “special place” that the Burrells insisted would spark a story for me. We just didn’t know then…it was a spark that would light a fire. It would be a “first time” experience that would last a “lifetime.”

Eight years…and five grandchildren! I am so blessed and I know it.

As I listened to Rutledge talk about the sports camps he is attending this summer Saturday….I asked the same question (I am sure all the other adults around him had already asked)…“Which sport is your favorite so far?” Rutledge looked at me and said he didn’t have a favorite…he liked this about tennis….that about basketball…and was excited to find out more about the other sports this summer.

It was then I realized that everything was fresh and new to him…he didn’t attend any of the week long camps with pre-conceived ideas or biases… about liking or not liking any of them. He was just having fun learning how each sport worked.

Oh where do we lose that openness to new it based on bad experiences we have confronted with certain choices? Especially if we have walked away from them in disappointment? When do we stop leaving our comfort zones to try something or experience something new and different? When do we stop living… in the very essence of the word?

My prayer for this mountain trip is that my eyes will be open to discovering new things along the way and see familiar things with different lens.

*When I started this blog off saying “God Works in Mysterious Ways” I meant it. Getting ready for a trip is always the hardest part as we all know. For me…creating and writing blogs ahead of time for the number of days I will be gone…can take a sizable bite out of packing time and other preparations.

But then a God Wink! My sweet friend, Janet Bender- retired educator, who sells Juice Plus products (which I do give credit for keeping my metabolism working hard to fight cancer cells) had recently re-ordered some more products for me since I was getting low.

I was so glad they came in…just in time to take to the mountains.

Inside the box with the pouches I found a card that opened up…with three different pictures and messages. As I read these life lessons…I thought to myself…thank you God…you just gave me my three blog posts for the three days I will be gone.

(If anyone is interested in learning more about these products…let me know and I will connect you with Janet!)

So until tomorrow…the next time we hear the nay-sayer voice within us telling us not to try something new….just tell it to ‘take a hike’ (and while we are at it…get up off the sofa and take a hike around our own neighborhood)…it is amazing what new things we see that we pass everyday without noticing. Remember those gates?

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*Today Sir Paul McCartney is honored to share his birthday with Master Rutledge Dingle…June 18. Paul is turning 76 and Rutledge 5. No matter the age …it is a very good day! Paul McCartney’s financial net worth is estimated at 1.2 billion dollars…whereas Rutledge’s net worth is priceless!!! (Especially to his Boo!)

…and especially to his dad since Rutledge was born on Father’s Day five years ago. No doubt it was Walsh’s best present ever! I hope everyone had a wonderful Father’s Day yesterday!


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Watching Nature From My Windows

Dear Reader:

I now have my clear sugar water in my hummingbird feeder but, sadly to no avail, since I have not had one hummingbird “customer” at the ‘diner.’ I think I am going to have post directions at the end of the driveway showing them how to find it.

One of my sweet neighbors came over to help me secure the shepherd’s hook with the bird feeder. We had a terrific thunderstorm Thursday evening and the winds knocked it completely over. I ended up moving it to a new location. “Big Foot”, as my neighbor humorously calls himself, got the post securely pushed down in the ground with his foot….it is not going anywhere.

I, then,  gave him a tour of the garden and showed him my hummingbird feeder which has yet to be tested by any hummingbird. He said he has had the same problem…he saw a few earlier in the spring but hasn’t seen one since….Mystery…Where are the hummingbirds?

Thank you “Big Foot” and Julie for my new plants…Here I go to your house to ask for “stomping” help and walk away with such a beautiful gift!


I worked hard on  that hummingbird feeder location… fixing it up for the little sparklers. It is such a beautiful little area…I took time to clear back the bushes so the moon flowers can grow up the trellis and my ginger shell can spread her leaves. I have a pretty flower basket the hummingbirds can look at while eating. There is plenty of trees and forest surrounding the clearing but not too close to the feeder. What’s wrong? Please come see me…I miss you!

On a brighter note….Sammy, the cardinal, stops by quite often to see me but thankfully not leaving any calling cards. He is behaving quite friendly towards me though I did get a bad report from Luke whose truck seems to be the target this year.

Sammy has a nest in one of my front bushes near the new bird feeder in the lantana….I wonder if he also sees the “fake” red cardinal in my house plant in front of the window. Whenever I am outside he seems to light on a fence or some other object near me as if to wish me a good day. He particularly likes my rose bush at the end of the driveway.

Lately…I have spotted another beautiful creature hopping by my computer window early each evening….Peter Cottontail (or perhaps Benjamin, or Flopsy or Mopsy) This rabbit is adorable and if I miss seeing him/her hop by I feel a little sad and eagerly await the next sighting the next evening.

As if birds, butterflies, and rabbits aren’t enough…I also love to visit our “birds that don’t fly” Luke and Chelsey’s Barred Plymouth Rock (quite historical) chickens! They are so cute and friendly…everyone comes running when they hear a human voice.

I love that we have a little bit of country going on …at least in our neighborhood…the neighborhood of mutual nature lovers.


I had to leave midway through the blog to go see some other creatures…my grand’creatures’ because Rutledge is having his fifth birthday. Earlier Saturday he had some little boys (friends) over at the new athletic center near them….the little boys loved it…they got to play every sport all over that large arena and they have a beautiful park out there too. It was the first birthday party held there.

That was Part I of Rutledge’s Birthday Party Day…Walsh and Mollie, then, had the family over around 4:00 yesterday afternoon for barbecue with all the fixings and ice cream. There were water balloon fights and “holey” hose sprinkles….a perfect hot day for outdoor water play!


So until tomorrow…“Loved you yesterday, love you still, always have…always will.” Happy Birthday Rutledge! Love, Boo

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

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