The Short Story of the Acorn and the Pumpkin

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* Yesterday I saw where there had been a “run” on this short anecdote published two years ago on September 25, 2016. I couldn’t remember the story so I re-read it and forgot how much I need to remember this life lesson. I hope you enjoy it again…if you have been with a blog for awhile… and/or enjoy hearing it the first time. 

Dear Reader:

Don’t we mere mortals love trying to “second guess” God and all His decisions in the beautiful world He created for us? We always point out the platypus or some other strange creature and wonder why? God must have a great sense of humor…we figure. (But don’t you think the platypus must think the same thing when it sees us?)

Several years ago I came across this little anecdote simply called “The Acorn and the Pumpkin.” It is very short…but sometimes the power of a story or a speech (take the Gettysburg Address for example) is enhanced through its brevity and remembered longer than a lengthy story. Case-in-point.

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“The Acorn and the Pumpkin”

There is a little anecdote that tells the story of a woman
who was walking through a meadow.

images-8As she strolled
along meditating on nature, she came upon a field
of golden pumpkins.

images-5In the corner of the field stood
a majestic oak tree.

The woman, weary, sat down under the oak and began to
muse about the strange twists in nature.

images-7images-6Tiny acorns
hung on huge branches and huge pumpkins sat on tiny
vines.

She thought, “God blundered with creation!
He should have put the small acorns on the tiny vines 
and the large pumpkins on the huge branches.”

Resting beneath the tree, she drifted off to sleep.
She was awakened by a tiny acorn bouncing off her
nose.

acorn-6825680Chuckling to herself, she amended her previous
thought, “Just goes to show that God knew best all along!

……………………………………….

 

So until tomorrow…The pumpkin falling from an oak tree, especially on one’s nose, probably would require plastic surgery….but an acorn? Don’t ever try to one-up God ….because you will lose. He knows exactly how Creation should work…after all He created it! 🙂

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

*Maybe it is because Thanksgiving is late this year but I am shocked at the number of houses already decorating for Christmas. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I hate to see it squeezed out for the more commercialized Christmas holiday.

 

Yesterday as I rode by a house in the adjacent neighborhood I saw the most beautiful butterfly chair under this gigantic oak tree…

I remembered getting the grandchildren their butterfly table/chair set several years ago…it has weathered well…but the older grandchildren are having a harder time fitting under the table these days…little butterflies grow up too fast and then fly away.

As I pulled into my driveway yesterday afternoon…one branch was falling over the entrance to the driveway…as I looked up the sun caught part of the leaves on the swaying branch giving them a golden aura….Fall really is a beautiful color!

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Pumpkins in Rows… for our Heroes and She-Roes

Dear Reader:

Today is Veterans Day…as much an annual part of fall as Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Actually if you stop and think about it… many veterans have experienced their spookiest and/or deadliest encounters from their tours of combat duty and for their valor and courage we are most thankful!

We do have heroes and she-roes from every conflict around the world. In fact today…one out of every ten veterans is a woman…a daughter, granddaughter, mother, aunt, or even grandmother. Yes…you heard me right…even grandmothers!

*(“Your grandmother wears combat boots” ) is quite plausible in 2019. 🙂

Head lines, like this one below, are seen more and more in the local hometown  papers now….

*Grandmother  returns from Syria in her first deployment in the National Guard

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

There is always so much nostalgia surrounding Veterans Day…a mixture of sadness but happiness too…here are some of my favorite photos/stories.

Alison Ferrell’s “something blue” at her May 13 wedding in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, was her 92-year-old uncle, Bill Lee Eblen, who wore his Marine dress blues.

“From the moment I got engaged I knew I wanted to include my uncle Bill in a special way,” Ferrell, 30, told ABC News “I come from a family where we were taught to have the utmost respect and admiration for the armed services and honoring him as the ‘something blue’ just seemed like the natural choice.”

This next photo story definitely brought  bittersweet tears to me.

Britt Harris’ husband, Chris Harris, died while deployed with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan just one week after his wife told him she was expecting their first child. In order to keep Chris Harris’s fellow soldiers close to their child, she decided to let them be the first to reveal the gender.

The soldiers filmed themselves opening the poppers in Afghanistan in front of an American flag.

A Surprise Tea Party for Dad

This military father had a very magical tea party with his 4-year-old daughter, Ashley, and the special moment was captured on camera. His wife commented: “He was hesitant at first but after a little talking I was able to convince him. Like fathers all over the world he would do anything for his daughter.”

In my family I want to remember today my father (Curtis Barbour) a sergeant in the Army Air Corp, who saw action on D-Day and returned with 6 bronze stars and the distinguished unit badge. My brother, Ben, who was wounded and returned from Vietnam with two purple hearts. A few years ago he wrote Grace Under Fire about his harrowing and spiritual experiences in Vietnam.

The author is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War where he served as a front-line rifleman and a machine gunner as a member of the United States Marine Corps. This is his story of several divine interventions that took place during his thirteen months of service in South Vietnam in the late 1960’s. It is also the beginning of his tale of the aftermath upon his return to the home front and his forty plus years battle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Don’t forget today to thank a veteran for his or her service…and for their sacrifices for us. A call, text, email, note, or visit can make a veteran’s day. My brother Ben and I talked yesterday and I thanked him for his time in service and his years of struggling to overcome PTSD –  painful memories from Vietnam. Many living veterans continue to carry a heavy burden for the rest of their lives.

So until tomorrow…

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Veteran's Day Quotes

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Join me in wishing Mandy’s art students good luck in their entry in the James Island Festival of Lights…a lot of hard work went into their art exhibit. Fingers crossed and prayers abound Mandy! The theme is Magical Memories at Christmas…and what is more magical than ‘the visions of sugarplums dancing in childrens’ heads.’ Candy…from around the world!

  • I love that the students “snuck” a red gum drop in Santa’s mouth…everyone needs a little snack for the journey ahead. 🙂

 

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Burr! Baby It’s Cold Outside!

Dear Reader:

Friday and last night the temperatures dropped into the mid-thirties…it is time to start a fire. Happiness is….watching a fire burning in my happy room! It is at the top of my ‘happy’ list! It is something so cozy and comforting about relaxing and watching embers burn down low.

Ya’s… I got to try out my new blue jacket yesterday…especially at Hollow Tree Nursery. Anne asked me to go to Dukes to eat barbecue in Ridgeville and since we were so close to Hollow Tree we decided to visit Lisa and take her a plate of barbecue too.

Even after the cold snap…blooms were everywhere…especially the Encore azaleas were out-doing themselves…they were more numerous and diverse in colors than the camellias.

Eloise’s Japanese Maple didn’t make it last spring so Lisa found me a larger gorgeous Japanese Maple…I am now trying to decide where to put it and which grandchild should have the new one. Rutledge’s red ornamental Japanese Maple is just struggling to stay alive…it is located in too much sun and has white spots on all its leaves…but still so potentially pretty too…decisions decisions decisions. It will all shake out in the end.

Before I show you more ‘pretties’ from Hollow Tree and then some more in my own garden…let me share some ideas about life with you from the author Emilie Barnes and her book Everything I Know I Learned in My Garden.

 

It’s Never Too Early to Start…or Too Late

If it doesn’t work, try something else

Life is fragile. Protect it. 

Life is enduring. Trust it. 

Life is daily. Water it. Weed it.

Life is indescribably beautiful. Enjoy it and say thank you. Growth takes time. While you are waiting, pull a weed.

There’s something for everyone-different blooms for different rooms.

Pruning hurts. Pruning helps you grow. 

Sometimes the tiniest flowers smell the sweetest. 

Everything does have a season but the secret is…know what season you are in. (That is getting harder and harder isn’t it? 🙂

Dream big. But try not to let ambition turn your joy into drudgery.

Grow what you love. The love will keep it growing. 

You reap what you sow. But there will be surprises.

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

 

Jo and Colby…when we got home one stem on your rose bush had reached towards the sun laterally outward….with two beautiful roses on it.

I am so thankful for my garden…what a difference since 2013…six years ago…when it was just a bare patch of ground with an orange circle surrounding where the garden would go…and hopefully grow. And now…it continues to grow.

So until tomorrow…”More than anything I must have flowers, always, always”– Claude Monet

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*** Wonderful news! Kaitlyn’s beloved grandmother, Judy, has taken on cancer for a second time (breast cancer) and beat it back! The bells (actually one) rang for Judy, her husband Bill, her daughters, Becky and Susan, and niece Sara plus all the rest of her loving family and friends! Way to get “little c” and put it in its place. The bell rings for YOU Judy and deservedly so! 🙂  🙂  🙂

From left to right: Sara, Becky, *Judy, and Susan! What a beautiful support group and warrior…a cancer thriver…no doubt! Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As I was showing Anne my Christmas moose ornaments from Sherry…Anne sent me a photo of a puffin (Anne adores puffins) Christmas tree ornament that Sherry sent her too. *What a gal you are Sherry…we will all have memories of Maine at Christmas…thanks to you!

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To Listen Like a Wild Flower…

Dear Reader:

A couple of years’ back we selected new words for the new year and many of you shared your selection with the rest of the readers. Each year I selected (and continue to select) the same word…Listen. 

I wish I had read Mark Nepo’s book Seven Thousand Ways to Listen back when I first made the selection but now I have read several excerpts from the book and it has impressed upon me that this word will be my “word” for the rest of my life. One quote from the book I especially liked had to do with wildflowers. It read:

The wildflower’s reward for trusting what it senses but doesn’t yet know is to become what is was born to be—a flower whose inevitable place is realized in a small moment of listening to the Oneness, as it joins with elements that were here before it came alive and which will live on once it dies.”
Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What is Sacred 

 

The wildflowers in Maine were unsurpassed in beauty…from the parks in Portland to the back country roads and especially the land surrounding the famous lighthouses…where it appeared that the butterflies lead us to the most beautiful wildflowers of all.

Can you find the butterfly hidden in the photo to the right?

Heading out early one morning Sherry took us to see the blueberry fields which quite honestly look like they should be called strawberry fields for their red color.

This observation led to one of the funniest moments in Maine…As we got closer to the fields…Sherry started singing “Blueberry fields forever” to the Beatles tune. I laughingly told her she was a true blue Maine native to change the lyrics to blueberry.

Sherry looked startled and then confused…”It isn’t blueberry fields forever?” she asked puzzled. Then I did lose it…’NO…it is Strawberry fields forever.” 

Sherry kept shaking her head in denial as I poorly sang the first stanza from Strawberry Fields Forever so she could hear the correct lyrics…

Let me take you down
‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever

…S0 just for you Sherry…the Beatles song (on tune and off u-tube…listen and smile!)

Mark Nepo got the idea and title for his book when he spoke with a Nigerian linguist who told him there were 7,000 different languages spoken around the world. Nepo reasoned if there were 7000 languages spoken…then there must be 7000 ways to listen.

He tells this true anecdote:

“He watched a well-dressed man  step over a homeless man on the street to peer more closely at a sweater in a department store window. Observing this scene and how both the homeless man who didn’t flinch and the well-dressed man who stepped over him struck Nepo.

“I stayed there quite awhile, not sure what to do or where to go,” he writes. Then his eyes met those of a man in a wheelchair. He describes how their eyes met and connected for ten to fifteen seconds. “”Neither of us looked away. I heard all he did not say,” he writes. “It pierced my heart.”

At a time when our country is more divided than ever around politics, race, and religion…the importance of listening quietly rather than shouting loudly is more critical than ever.

Mark Nepo explores how listening… this gentle act of kindness… moves us closer together as humans.

“When we dare to quiet our minds and all the thoughts we inherit, the differences between us move back and the things we have in common move forward.”

Yesterday as Luke was examining the old bench and how best to move it…we both heard a woodpecker pecking at one dead tree branch as hard as he could. We both grew quiet at the same time.

A particular rhythm took on another sound…quiet, soothing gurgling from the fountain set against loud pecking on wood…we both started laughing at the same time…a duet perhaps?

Luke spotted the hardworking woodpecker and then pointed him out to me. In this photo look carefully at the dark dead branch in the middle of the tree leaning to the right… and then look halfway up…hard to see…but you can just make out the woodpecker’s outline and reddish tinge on his head.

Let us all practice listening closely to others at what is not being said verbally but is being said from the heart. Let us listen with an Oneness in the Universe.

So until tomorrow

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

***Here comes another God Wink!!!! I can’t believe I was typing the “Sherry” story about the “blueberry fields” when suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by the mailman yelling from the front porch that he had a package for me. I went running in excitement and it was a “surcie” from Sherry. Unbelievable timing!

The note attached to the gifts started out “Dahling”…so funny! Sherry I love love love my ornaments…can hardly wait to put them on my Christmas tree this holiday season and remember my Maine adventure!

These “meeces” 🙂 are precious…the one in front looks like he is wearing an LLBEAN plaid outfit and look at the other moose with “Sammy the Cardinal” sitting on top of his moose snout. The third gift is a Christmas ‘basket tree hanging’ filled with lights- the basket is made from miniature antlers…love them all!…each individual moose and all the moose together! 🙂  🙂  🙂 What a thoughtful, fun gift Sherry…one I will treasure and remember each Christmas!

*Mandy sent me this picture of Eva Cate’s new reading buddy…a little kindergarten boy she is helping…what a confident ‘boost’ for both students. Great idea! And the secret to success is listening...listening to each other  read and encouraging each other. A wonderful gift of kindness.

*** Look who won third place  in the Summerville Artist Guild Exhibition! — at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center (*I am sure it was our title we readers gave the painting that took it over the top “Come Sit A Spell”!!!!!) 🙂 Congratulations Anne!

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Saying Good-Bye to a Beloved Garden “Bench”mark

Dear Reader:

Yesterday I confess I had a few moments of nostalgic sadness over the loss of my Ya Ya “bench” mark for the garden. The Ya’s gave me the bench for my birthday on September 24, 2012. It would turn out to be almost a year before Anne, Doodle, and I “officially” planted (first shovel of dirt) the first bushes/bulbs/flowers in the Boo’s Garden. (Date: September 6, 2013)

(*Meanwhile (during that year of indecision) the bench would stare back at me accusingly…”Just do it Becky..begin your garden!”)

Luke came over to spray for bugs yesterday afternoon…(such a continued wonderful neighbor…even after the move.) As we walked back in the garden towards the fountain…I hesitantly made the sad decision to ask Luke to remove it and take it to the street for pick-up.

*(The wood had rotted and the arms and legs left were lying on the ground.)

Luke could tell how sad I was and I told him about how I got it and from whom and what it symbolized in my garden….hope. The bench sat in one of the bedrooms on the other side of the apartment for a year…waiting for me to get the courage to start my dream . And when finally I did…it was the first piece of furniture placed outside. I knew I wanted it under the old oak tree for shade.

A year later (2014)…the fountain joined it…. already it was obvious the wooden bench was struggling against the elements…Still it stood sturdy for several more years…six to be exact…until November 7, 2019…the end had come.

For so many years it was my go-to bench when I needed to reflect on life while listening to the fountain gurgle…it was my bench of refuge and rest.

I still remember the first evening I sat on the bench following the initial planting of the garden…so many hopes for the future…so much excitement in the creation! Nothing will ever erase that contented feeling I felt on the evening of September 6, 2013…the bench’s first night in the garden.

I read somewhere recently that memories are closely tied to the senses…especially smell. I do remember the smell of fresh wood when I first got the bench but now that fact about remembering saddens me because of all the chemo I have taken. It has caused me to lose my ability to smell things. I wonder how that will affect my memories going forward?

In fact…after Luke sprayed yesterday…he went around opening windows so it wouldn’t be too strong for me…I told him that I couldn’t smell one single vapor of bug spray. Sometimes I suppose not being able to smell has its strong points too. 🙂

So until tomorrow...“Our memory is a more perfect world than the universe: it gives back life to past loves (people and things) that no longer exist.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

***As you clicked on Chapel of Hope Stories today…there was a surprise…a new ‘header’ for the blog post. It is way past time to have updated it.

Initially John and I were just going to update the grandchildren’s picture (within the four photo collection) but then I decided that the original four pictures were a little “busy” for a heading. I looked around my “office” and saw Joan Turner (John’s mom) whimsical creative painting she did of the Chapel of Hope steeple several years back. I knew this was it!

The two “benchmarks” in my life that have changed it the most…(Discovering the Chapel of Hope...(lead there by Honey) and my five treasured grandchildren)…they are the catalysts for my new life and perspective on the world. Hope you like it.

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Unexpected Encounters of Happiness

Dear Reader:

What an unexpected and joyful day yesterday was..filled with surcies and God Winks! My friend K.C. and I planned a picnic on my back deck…but first (like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”) it was too foggy and dampish, then too “pine strawey”…(literally falling off the trees into our plates) and finally too hot to sit out in the direct sun. So we ate lunch inside and then went on Boo’s garden tour…having the best time.

K.C. made the most delicious chicken salad sandwiches. I added some potato salad, chips, and a creamy slice of pie for dessert…along with some ice cold half and half tea. Perfect picnic!

Before she left K.C. handed me something completely unexpected but yet something I love. It started out as a package in a Christmas bag…she wanted it to be my first Christmas gift…a pre-season introduction gift.

Five different blocks were bubble wrapped…and as I put them together in the correct order..it was a most unique nativity scene. (title photo)

K.C. left while I was still playing with my nativity blocks…staring and studying each painted figure in the manger scene. What a way to start the Christmas season right!

 

Suddenly the doorbell rang and the mailman handed me a large box…’Who could this be from?‘ I thought to myself. Something was in a large plastic bag and it was blue. Suddenly I, intuitively, knew what it was.

Brooke and I gave Libby and Jackson a blue jacket for their birthdays at the beach and now Libby and Jackson were reciprocating…

What fortuitous timing with the possibility of the first frost arriving this weekend! Bluebirds are calling! I asked Vickie if she could take a quick photo of me in my new blue jacket (to send my “beautiful benefactors”…in the back yard/garden. She did and then showed me some of her hanging plants blooming for the first time unexpectedly…another happy unexpected encounter.

 

Isn’t life exciting? On any ordinary day something unexpected can take place that is also in your favour…as if the universe has singled you out with a big smile and a wink. When you receive unexpected surcies that you love and hold dear…a warm fuzzy feeling settles inside.

So until tomorrow…Always cherish the unexpected encounters that lift your spirits and make you feel connected with everyone and everything in the universe…a sense of completion engulfs you…You feel a  part of the whole…Savor these special surprises!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

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Looking for Old Acquaintances…by Their Titles

Dear Reader:

I fell in love with this whimsical imaginative painting the minute I saw it pop up on-line…Oh what I would have given to have had a tree to go to like this (instead of the downright uncomfortable crab apple tree of my reading childhood.) * Still… even this didn’t stop me from climbing it to read my Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden series books.

Louise Penny has just completed her first draft on the next Armand Gamache mystery novel which she talked about in her latest newsletter. Anne sent me a link to it because it contained several items of interest…and some of the best quotes around…all by Winston Churchill.

The one I liked the most was a rather long quote…but it touched a chord in me and, no doubt, millions of other avid readers around the globe…those of us who love reading and make it a prioritized passion in our lives.

“If you cannot read all your books…fondle them – peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them, at any rate, be your acquaintances.”
– Winston Churchill

*I remember my third grade teacher, Miss Johnson, pointing at each of us students before reading time in the third grade exclaiming…”Be a reader, then  a leader.” We had to repeat this phrase after her… day by day.  She was right. Winston Churchill is a great example…avid reader…amazing leader.

I will have to remember this Churchill quote each time my next Gamache novel arrives. I get so excited…it really is like seeing an old friend again and welcoming his wisdom and kindness back into your life….you know, without doubt, that the next few hours spent with ‘him’ will be forever memorable! The hardest part is slowing down the “visit.”

I have come to realize that making time for myself and not getting swept away with the busyiness of life depends on having a good book. Give me a good book to carry and I can be happy anywhere in any situation.

I love that so many book cafes are opening now…the two ideas just seem to go together…a cup of coffee or tea or hot chocolate on a rainy or cold day spent in a reading cafe is as about as perfect a day as I can imagine. When this photo popped up…I wanted to walk right into the picture and start reading in the alluring shop.

So until tomorrow…Spending time with a good book is really like spending time with a friend or old acquaintance…but remain open to new and/or different books because…(as in life)…“they might be angels in disguise.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Eva Cate’s Japanese Maple is starting to turn pretty fall colors while the ‘whirling butterflies’ are turning a light shade of pink!

Thank you Doodle for the towels on gratitude…perfect for this time of year or any time!

I always need to be reminded of this important universal message.

 

 

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