God’s Amazing World

metal design-Marine Rose Art

Dear Reader:

One of the longest, best-selling Christian devotionals is a children’s devotional written and created by Louie Giglio titled Indescribable.

Each true animal fact is interwoven with a spiritual message connecting God’s presence with all His creatures.

Today I am choosing ” A Tool for God” based on scripture 1 Thessalonians 5:11 -Encourage one another and build each other up.

Scientists have long known that some animals use tools to help them get what they need. But they have only recently discovered the most unusual way one animal builds it’s house -and they found this animal scurrying across the sands of the ocean floor.

The veined octopus builds its home using coconut shell halves that people have thrown in the water. Stacking one on top of the other, it crawls between the two halves-the perfect underwater armor for this soft-bodied octopus.

When the octopus needs to travel, it simply stacks the shell halves under its body-much like stacking two bowls. It then ” stilt walks ” on its right legs, dragging the shells with it. Scientists have even spotted veined octopuses digging buried coconut shells out of the sand and squirting them with jets of water to clean them before moving in.

So until tomorrow… we can all be tools for God too-by building His Kingdom here on earth-through examples of kindness and by helping our fellow man understand God’s love through our actions.

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

Last weekend Eloise took it upon herself ( as most determined three-year-olds do) to cut her own hair-she wanted bangs… and she got them ! Love them Eloise… it is you all over! Precious !

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When Life Unravels…

Dear Reader:

Just when we get a little too comfortable in our daily lives…when we think we have enough layers of armor to protect us from any situation that could possibly arise

… the universe smiles and whispers to us… ” It’s time for your midlife crisis!”

The other day I mentioned my 40th birthday and the arrival of Hurricane Hugo as symbolically turning my world upside down but I was actually a ” late bloomer” when it came to my own midlife crisis… late 40’s to early 50’s.

* I had always been a late bloomer, however. I didn’t get my braces until high school because my ” baby” teeth stubbornly refused to fall out and I was a freshman in high school before my stick figure finally began to blossom.

Yesterday I came across one of my favorite’ tell-all’ authors who was hilariously but sincerely sharing her personal’ take’ on the dreaded but necessary component in life-the mid-life crisis or ( as Brene Brown calls it) the ‘ mid-love’ crisis!

Brene Brown explains her mid-life crisis from the perspective of the universe. As she describes it… it is when ” the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear.

” I am not messing around. All of this pretending and performing- these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt-has to go!

Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy and lovable, but you are still searching and you are more lost than ever. Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through your veins. You were made to live and love with your own heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.

Brown shares her epiphany about mid-life crises … adding that it should be renamed ” mid love ” crises…. because loving ourselves is the most difficult and courageous thing we will ever do. But we only have a finite amount of time to find that self-love and mid-life is the halfway point.

So until tomorrow… we know when we have made peace with the universe… when we can love and trust in ourselves again … when we are past the crisis… when, in a quiet moment… looking deeply back into the universe’s eyes-we realize the universe is “us.”

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

* And speaking of Winnie she got a haircut-each time, besides being able to see her eyes again, she gets more black patches… a work in progress!

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Circle of Quiet

Dear Reader:

While searching through some Madeleine L’ Engle books this week I quickly browsed through one of her lesser familiar books-A Circle of Quiet. As I opened it…I saw a book marker and highlighted passage I fell in love with – in my first reading.

I remembered I had taken it with me one summer when the kids and I went to the mountains. I think I was sitting on Blowing Rock and looking out at the wide expanse of 360 degrees of beauty surrounding me when I remembered the passage still marked in the book.

It read: ” To be half a century plus is wonderfully exciting, because I haven’t lost any of my past, and I am free to stand on the rock of all that the past has taught me as I look to the future. ”

Exactly what I felt as I sat on that rock-serenity like I had never felt before. It was as if the past and present were opening up just long enough to give me a peek of the blessings ahead.

Today I find a tiny piece of that experience as I work in my side garden in the late afternoons as the sun filters throughout the garden hidden on three sides by trees and varying sizes of shrubbery hiding the secret garden from view!

Last Thanksgiving I got to experience the same ” gentle/ quiet effect” heading up the mountains.

These days I no longer want to chance blowing off Blowing Rock or sliding down Sliding Rock or especially jumping off Jumping Rock… but I can still remember how far I have come, how much the past has taught me… as I turn towards the future!

So until tomorrow… Father remind us that Your Circles of Quietness and Gratitude surround us… if we just stop long enough to count our blessings.

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

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Living the Story I was Supposed to Tell

Time Passed While My Story Breathed

Dear Reader:

Upon reflection the collision of turning forty and facing a formidable opponent-like Hurricane Hugo-was already written in the stars.

I didn’t know it then but I was busy living the story that was patiently waiting to be told when the time was right! August 7, 2010 was the day the story could wait no longer!

Having Hurricane Hugo cancel my 40th birthday party was a big disappointment but I now realize that it was the catalyst for change in my life- symbolic for me. My marriage and former life as I knew it was over… destroyed forever “But” I now had an opportunity to re-write the future with a clean slate… out with the old-in with the new.

The new chapters in my life story would contain adventures abroad and at home ( that I could never have even dreamed about in my former life, challenges raising three children- the most important part to get right, educational opportunities beyond my wildest imagination and memories to last a life time! )

Looking back on my years of teaching-1989-the year of Hugo -changed my outlook on my role-just not as a teacher -but as a mentor to children searching for someone to confide in.

We teachers took a large chunk of academic time post-Hugo to give students time to reflect on their own unique family situations and the importance of keeping personal and historical journals to remember ‘ the way they were.’

The “Hugo” Year

It would take two more decades of living, fighting breast cancer, a first-born grandchild, and a little chapel in the woods to get to that long-awaited day… ‘the day when the story inside me wanted to breathe on its own’… eleven years breathing on its own now!

So until tomorrow… the students laughingly teased us teachers about acting like preachers and nuns when they returned to school after Hugo …so much so that for Halloween the teaching staff dressed up as monks, nuns, priests, including a “Holy Ghost”! Fun memories!

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

And it was certainly my niece Bekah’s favorite day! On September 13 she received her hard-earned certificate-Classroom Training of the Charleston County Consolidated-9-11- Center! Congratulations 🎈🎊 Bekah!!! So proud of you!

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Surprised by Joy

Dear Reader:

I am close to the ending of The Madness of Crowds ( Louise Penny) and I am falling back on my usual unique reading habit -slowing down and only allowing myself so many chapters a day! I don’t want the mystery to end… and to have to say goodbye to Gamache and all my friends for another year. Yet… I really want to know if my guess at ” who dunnit” is right! Sweet agony!

In Penny’s first mystery novel –Still Life-she wrote ” In the bedroom Clara picked up the well-worn book beside Jane’s bed, C. S Lewis’ s Surprised by Joy. It smelled of Floris.”

Originally the phrase first came from a sonnet ” Surprised by Joy-Impatient as the Wind” written by William Wordsworth in the wake of his three-year-old daughter’s death.”

At face value, a strange comparison -joy and death-but the world of Three Pines, as summed up by both readers and reviewers alike, is just that, a place where light contrasts dark, goodness exists with evil, innocence engages experience, and hope flourishes with fear.

Louise Penny admits that she was ” surprised by joy” with a miracle-sobriety.

…”To find happiness and the freedom that comes from not having to drink every day and finding friends, and finding myself, and finding real joy.”

Louise also had a bench made and adorned with a ” Surprised by Joy” in 2007 for her husband Michael’s birthday. ” When I met and fell in love with him I was, indeed, surprised with joy. He was the most joyous person I’d ever met.”

Sadly Michael passed away a few years back. Penny had a rendition of the plaque made to be placed on a bench in New York’s Central Park. The bench sits on an idyllic hill and faces Louise’s apartment.

…And the love of my life! (Penny )

So until tomorrow …shouldn’t we all surround ourselves with friends and beauty that bring us joy… even surprise us with it!

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

Surprised by all the beauty in my September garden

Kaitlyn is temporarily keeping a precious little dog named Chicken. She was abandoned in Columbia with a KFC note tied to her that she like to eat chicken.

Kaitlyn says she likes all food, potty trained, loves children and other pets! She needs and deserves a loving home. If interested in knowing more… Email krswicegood@gmail.com

Eva Cate holding ” Chicken”
My family is home from Mexico! ❤️
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Keeping the Unity in Community… in Sacred Days of Remembrance

Dear Reader:

Many of you picked up this year (while watching the special programs remembering 9/11) that one central theme arose among all of them…. the need for renewed unity.

I couldn’t help but hear Lincoln’s voice during the Gettysburg Address proclaiming the resolution that ” the honored dead should not have died in vain…and that this nation , under God, shall have a new birth of freedom… and that the government of the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Right after the attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001… a wave of patriotism and unity swept the country-we were “United” in every sense of the word.

But now 20 years later… we have, like in the Civil War, turned our divisiveness against each other… with politics leading the crusade.

We have watched in horror and disbelief on television Americans attacking their own government-the Capitol… attacking our own hard fought democracy. Surely this was fiction… but alas not.

What a travesty of justice and the thought that one day in the future a history teacher could be explaining to students how our Democratic country was brought down after 200 + years-not by a foreign enemy but ” We, the People” -it is too nightmarish for me to contemplate.

For the sake of the generations to come ” We the People” must get our act together -stop the internal bickering and look at the lessons of goodness and sacrifice we should be learning from 9/11!

There are, however, some great positives from many of the stories-one being more towns are displaying flags and holding more community events than ever before!

Take Daniel Island with their Honor Fest today and the American flags are flying everywhere you turn! Beauty Everywhere!

So until tomorrow… It’s time for us to prepare a new birth of freedom using kindness and listening as our weapons of power!

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

It’s time for my Clemson Tigers to play… hopefully improved from last week-we are actually enjoying some football fall weather this weekend… but we all know there will be several hot summer games before fall beats summer out for dominance!

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9/11: When ” Heart- See-er’s Became Heroes”

Dear Reader:

Twenty years? Truly… Really? So hard to believe… yet the largest sculpture , once located between the Twin Towers is now testimony to the perseverance of man and his works… as the damaged but still standing architectural design ” The Sphere” was returned to Liberty Park ( 2018) to once more watch over the 9/11 Ground Zero!

It has had the same effect on tourists that Apollo 11 astronauts felt when seeing the blue marble sphere we call home for the first time.

This state of mental clarity is known as the ” overview effect” in which the viewer becomes overwhelmed and awed by the size of Earth!

Somehow, miraculously the ” Sphere” was wedged in between the collapsing towers and managed to survive -damaged-but not destroyed! Many tourists fall on their knees when viewing it for the first time… completely overwhelmed by yet another miracle!

Why? Perhaps Louise Penny expresses it best in her latest detective series-The Madness of Crowd.

” And now here is my secret, a very simple secret. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what’s invisible to the eye.”

Being correct and being right are two different entities.

Take the true story of the “elevator ” man, on 9/11, for example. Chuck Costello.

On 9/11 2001 -Costello was working on elevators in the Mercer Hotel in the Sojo neighborhood. When he heard the first news about a plane flying into the North Tower… he knew he would be more needed there than doing routine elevator check-ups in a luxury hotel.

He took off running towards the disaster… not away from it as fleeing crowds kept knocking him down. Chuck yelled back to a friend as he ran in the burning building, ” I’ll be fine.”

As explosions, fire, and smoke took the lives of people, Chuck Costello went to work freeing persons he did not know from someone else’s elevators!

Later accounts by the New York City firemen and police who witnessed Chuck’s heroics simply called him ” the elevator man” because of his courage and determination to save as many lives as possible. He was seeing ” with his heart.”

In January 2002 his remains were found in debris of the south tower. One worker was so moved he ran alongside the ambulance all the way up the street with tears in his eyes! He had never met Chuck but only knew him as” the elevator man.”

This weekend let us find a way to to give back to the fire departments and police departments who lost so many brave men and continue to do so through diseases brought on by the toxins they were exposed to on that fateful day twenty years ago.

Honor Fest Sunday September 12 Daniel Island, SC

Sunday my nephew Lee Barbour is playing in Honor Fest -a fund-raiser on Daniel Island with a Jazz Band to honor first responders, armed forces, and veterans! I know Ben will be so proud to watch him perform! !

So until tomorrow… As Chuck Costello knew… ” the terror is in the first step but the key to a full life is taking it. The trick wasn’t having less fear… it was finding more courage.” ( Gamache-The Madness of Crowds!”)

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

Ben beat me putt-putting/a hole -in-one yesterday at Wellmore!

Hole in one!
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Remembering the Beatitudes with a ” Blessed” Attitude

Dear Reader:

When this jar popped up the other day on-line, I immediately wrote ” Blessing” for my positive word addition that started with the first letter of my name.

This entry took me back down memory lane to a summer Bible School one week when I was in the sixth grade. We got stuck with Miss Marble for our teacher volunteer. She was the loudest voice in the church choir and it never got softer… even in the church classroom.

To our horror and disbelief she assigned “homework ” the first day of Bible School. We were to bring in a line of scripture that started with the first letter of our names.

Suddenly I remembered the Beatitudes! I punched Billy Stoddard giving him the thumbs up for our good luck! We could ” Blessed” our way through the whole week.

Unfortunately Miss Marble overheard the conversation and quickly added that each verse must be spread out between the Old and New Testaments!

Billy and I looked at each other and in unison came up with another ” B” word – “BUMMER!”

But actually we were still better off than our classmate-Zeke! The next morning he was in a panic-had forgotten the assignment… after all he explained pitifully… WHO gives homework assignments in Summer Bible School???

We were all frantically trying to help Zeke think of a ” Z” when Mary Margaret calmly said ” zealot. It’s in the Bible because grandmother was reading scripture yesterday and told my daddy he was no better than a ” zealot ” by watching football all the time!

” But what does ” zealot ” mean?” asked Zeke. Mary Margaret said she wasn’t sure but thought it was some kind of cheerleader -since her daddy did a lot of clapping and cheering while watching football.

When it was Zeke’s turn to share a ” z” word he, too, fell back on the Beatitudes-quoting ” Blessed are the Zealots for cheering others.”

Miss Marble stared at Zeke in shock and then a slow smile crossed her face… ” and a zealot is what Zeke?”

Red-faced Zeke mumbled” … a cheerleader.” Now it was Miss Marble’s turn to flush while trying not to laugh. ” I suppose you could call a zealot a cheerleader… with an attitude!”

The next day Zeke redeemed himself by proclaiming ” Zechariah was John the Baptist’s daddy.”

***So until tomorrow… Do you know those are still the only two ” Z”‘s I can remember from scripture?

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

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Keeping Our Batteries Running…

Dear Reader:

I love creative metaphors on life and I found one Mev Shieder had placed on Facebook while scrolling through last week. Thanks Mev for sharing!

Besides spending half my life looking for car keys, I have spent the other half searching for batteries. Finally I got smart and started buying them every time I was at the pharmacy drug store and now finally have an ample supply.

” The Flashlight and the Batteries”

When a flashlight grows dim or quits working, do you just throw it away? Of course not! You change the batteries.

When a person messes up or finds themselves in a dark place, do you cast them aside? Of course not! You help them change their batteries!

Some need AA -attention and affection; some need AAA -attention, affection, and acceptance; some need C-compassion; some need D-direction.

And if they still don’t seem to shine-simply sit with them quietly and share your light.

I love that story-what a great lesson to remember!

Yesterday Jo Dufford experienced an ” Aha” moment after reading the post on the light/shadow connection… and the bogeyman!

” When I was small, I was never afraid of a bogey man-just the dark. One night I kept telling my sister, in the other bed, that I thought there was someone by my bed, so PLEASE turn on the light!

After several futile pleas, my sister disgustedly told me the light had been on for five minutes-I needed to remove my head from beneath the covers and open my eyes!

Jo realized suddenly from that old memory… maybe that ‘s the difference in seeing shadows and/ or seeing the light! It depends on what we are searching for and then how we see it-our own unique perceptions . Just another thought on light and shadows.

So until tomorrow…

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

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Closing in on the Ending

Dear Reader:

Mollie let me know recently I only had two more StoryWorth questions to answer and my life story was complete… to date!!!

I am so excited about seeing the finished product-52 weeks of questions and responses about my life for the family to have … my story and legacy hard-bound by love and appreciation! Wow! What a gift the family gave me!

So I decided to share this week’s question and response with you today.

The question asked me to re-tell an adventure I had been on… and my first thought was… it has been my life adventure that has been quite a thriller .

…………………………………………….

The most exciting adventure that I have been on has been my life adventure. It started out as a Greek Tragedy with two grandfathers and one father dying within a month of each other, followed by my mother who lost a hand to bone cancer a year later… a near- miss tragedy with a ” big ” brother in Vietnam… followed by the death of my ” little” brother.

But life is never filled with so many shadows that the light can’t get through… God’s light… and His blessings have been bountiful throughout my story.

Thirteen years ago it was God Who took control of my breast cancer and became my Healing Physician… reminding my surgeons and doctors that only He was in charge of my life… and that I wasn’t going away as quickly as they had prognosticated.

It appears that my life story has been divided in half. The first part was spent on automatic pilot-rushing everywhere-to school to teach, raising three children, juggling human responsibilities with financial survival.

But suddenly one day it was over. I came up for air-just long enough to gasp the realization that I had a treatable but not curable form of breast cancer. Thank goodness human physicians are only instruments of the Great Physician and God had other ideas and plans for my life.

So thirteen years later, after my three year longevity prognosis, here I am! Posting a daily blog, surrounded by family snd friends, experiencing travels to other states and even countries… just plain loving my life!

Ireland

So until tomorrow… in spite of pandemics and societal/ political upheaval, I still believe in the good found within man and that the best is yet to come. I am living proof that miracles exist and only God is in charge!

Camden Maine

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

Confederate Rose
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