Friday, September 30, 2011


Who knew? The Hubble telescope has a website...guess I should have figured out someone would post the information but the pictures are yourself a favor and go in for a visit!

Hubble's 20th anniversary image shows a mountain of dust and gas rising in the Carina Nebula. The top of a three-light-year tall pillar of cool hydrogen is being worn away by the radiation of nearby stars, while stars within the pillar unleash jets of gas that stream from the peaks.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Today is Rosh Hashanah

...In the seventh month, on the first of the month, there shall be a sabbath for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation. -Leviticus 16:24

Significance: New Year
Observances: Sounding the shofar (ram's horn trumpet)
Length: 2 Days (Some: 1 Day)
Customs: Dipping apples in honey; Casting off "sins" into a river
Greeting: L'shanah tovah! (For a good year!)

The name "Rosh Hashanah" is not used in the Bible to discuss this holiday. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). The holiday is instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25.

The shofar is a ram's horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the synagogue. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and tekiah gedolah (literally, "big tekiah"), the final blast in a set, which lasts (I think) 10 seconds minimum. The Bible gives no specific reason for this practice. One that has been suggested is that the shofar's sound is a call to repentance. The shofar is not blown if the holiday falls on Shabbat.

No work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah. Much of the day is spent in synagogue, where the regular daily liturgy is somewhat expanded. In fact, there is a special prayerbook called the machzor used for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur because of the extensive liturgical changes for these holidays.

Another popular observance during this holiday is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of our wish for a sweet new year. This was the second Jewish religious practice I was ever exposed to (the first one: lighting Chanukkah candles), and I highly recommend it. It's yummy. We also dip bread in honey (instead of the usual practice of sprinkling salt on it) at this time of year for the same reason.

Another popular practice of the holiday is Tashlikh ("casting off"). We walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and empty our pockets into the river, symbolically casting off our sins. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off. This practice is not discussed in the Bible, but is a long-standing custom. Tashlikh is normally observed on the afternoon of the first day, before afternoon services. When the first day occurs on Shabbat, many synagogues observe Tashlikh on Sunday afternoon, to avoid carrying (the bread) on Shabbat.

Religious services for the holiday focus on the concept of G-d's sovereignty.

Days of Awe
The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) or the Days of Repentance. This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur.

One of the ongoing themes of the Days of Awe is the concept that G-d has "books" that he writes our names in, writing down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. These books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter G-d's decree. The actions that change the decree are "teshuvah, tefilah (prayer) and tzedakah (righteousness)," repentance, prayer, good deeds (usually, charity). These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur. This concept of writing in books is the source of the common greeting during this time is "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."

Classical Music

I love classical music. Although I am not a scholar, because I spend most of my work day listening to a Classical channel from London on my computer, I can now recognize some pieces and also tell who wrote some of the pieces by their styles.

In today's world, there aren't too many people writing pieces like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Dvorak and Tchaikovsky. Movie soundtracks have filled that void in the classical world. I have several of these soundtracks that I love (and play repeatedly!) and find that I now pay as much attention to the music behind the movie as to the movie itself.

As frivolous as the movie may seem, the soundtrack from the first Pirates of the Caribbean makes me immediately think of the sea...and of pirates. When I hear the Braveheart soundtrack I can see the Scottish highlands...Gladiator and I am transported to an ancient time...but Last of the Mohicans and I am roaming in my beloved Smokey Mountains. Even though the story is set in upstate New York, I recognized my mountains the very first time I saw the film.

In honor of classical composers and movie soundtracks...A small piece from "The Last of the Mohicans" called the Promentory...and another called Courier...If you know the film, you'll recognize where these pieces are played...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Innocence of God

Children are innocent because they cannot comprehend evil. God is innocent because He sees evil for what it is: something to wash away and be done with. And this is why He accepts our lousy, lacking, insincere prayers, our grasping petitions, our grudging penitence, our half-baked praise, and our inattentive adoration. It’s not because we’ve deceived Him, or because He’s somehow pathetically grateful for the crumbs we throw His way.

Excellent that makes you stop and go, Hmmm, am I like that? And recognizing that yes, sometimes I the rest here...


Baptism, the Way to Freedom

When parents have their children baptised they indicate their desire to have their children grow up and live as children of God and brothers or sisters of Jesus, and be guided by the Holy Spirit.

Through birth a child is given to parents; through baptism a child is given to God. At baptism the parents acknowledge that their parenthood is a participation in God's parenthood, that all fatherhood and motherhood comes from God. Thus baptism frees the parents from a sense of owning their children. Children belong to God and are given to the parents to love and care for in God's name. It is the parents' vocation to welcome their children as honored guests in their home and bring them to the physical, emotional, and spiritual freedom that enables them to leave the home and become parents themselves. Baptism reminds parents of this vocation and sets children on the path of freedom.
Henri Nouwen

St. Vincent

Today is the Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul...

...But as a young priest, he was less interested in reform than in his own income. In time he acquired several prestigious positions, including chaplain to the wealthy De Gondi family. It was there while ministering to the tenants on their vast estates that he discovered his life's mission. It happened over time as he identified three major problems in seventeenth century France: religious ignorance, poorly trained clergy, and widespread poverty.

...Through these various groups, Vincent addressed the needs of the poor, the sick, orphans, refugees, the elderly. He could be quite persuasive. On one occasion, when a group of volunteers debated whether they could continue their work with orphans, he told them:
You know, you became the mothers of these children by grace, when their mothers by nature deserted them, and I am now going to take your votes to find out what you want to do about them. Cease to be their mothers and become their judges. Their life and death are in your hands. If you keep on caring for them, they are going to live, to be brought up Catholics; but if you give up this work, they are going to die. All your experience with them teaches you that. So now, vote!

They voted unanimously, to continue.

Read more about this unique Saint here...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Genesis 37
Joseph’s Dreams
1 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. 2 This is the account of Jacob’s family line. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate[a] robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. 5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” 8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. 9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Joseph Sold by His Brothers

12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.” "Very well,” he replied. 14 So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron. When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?” 16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?” 17 “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” 21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. 23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it. 25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed. 28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels[b] of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt. 29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30 He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?” 31 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.”
33 He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.” 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him. 36 Meanwhile, the Midianites[c] sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

Genesis 39
Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife
1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there. 2 The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” 8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. 11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. 13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” 16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” 19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

I think you know the rest of the story...if not, just look up where the verses left off and it will take you to the end. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice wrote a musical for the theater called "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and it's been running for years.

The song I linked above is one of my favorites from the show...Joseph refuses to give in to despair and instead focus' on God's promises to the children of Israel. We could all do well to spend a little time with the story of Joseph...his perceived arrogance as a young man...his betrayal at the hands of his brothers...the hardship endured in Egypt and his rise to second in command. His faith in God.

2,000 years later...

Two thousand years after they were written and decades after they were found in desert caves, some of the world-famous Dead Sea Scrolls went online for the first time on Monday in a project launched by Israel's national museum and web giant Google.

The appearance of five of the most important Dead Sea scrolls on the Internet is part of a broader attempt by the custodians of the celebrated manuscripts — who were once criticized for allowing them to be monopolized by small circles of scholars — to make them available to anyone with a computer.

Read more here....

Monday, September 26, 2011


Hubby bought our grandson a "Dancing Elmo" for his second birthday. Over the years, the two of them have spent hours dancing...perhaps that's why grandson is now taking Tap Dancing lessons!

This is a preview of a film about the man behind "Elmo"...who doesn't love that voice?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Food for Thought

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

"Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind."

"This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behavior we expect from other people."

---CS Lewis

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

“The world will never starve for want of wonders, but for want of wonder.”

---GK Chesterton

"Listen carefully, my sons and daughters, to the Master's instructions, and attend them with the ear of your heart"

---St. Benedict

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.”

---St. Francis of Assisi

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Beware the highlighters!

Do you write in your Bible or perhaps highlight verses that speak to you? Maybe you use different color inks that help you recognize different categories. I don't now, but I used to...

Many years ago, I attended a Bible Study at the home of a very dear friend. It was my first "grown up" Bible Study and I was thrilled to be included...these women were so wise in my eyes (and they are!) that I couldn't relax and be a part of the study. I was afraid if I spoke out, I would miss something they had to offer. So I sat there...ears open, pen at the ready, highlighter just within reach and made notes and marked my Bible furiously! (One of the ladies had given me the Bible I used).

And then they began to ask me questions, they asked my opinions, they wanted to know if God had spoken to me about the lesson...and what direction did I feel led? And then one day (gasp!) they asked me to lead the next weeks study. What? Me? Lead the next weeks study? Slowly, they helped me grow in my relationship with them and with Our Father...they showed my by their words and actions how to grow in wisdom.

What does this have to do with marking up my Bible? One day, as I read in my Bible, I came across a highlighted verse...and although all are filled with truth, I couldn't for the life of me remember why I had marked it. What meant so much that I would put ink in the book so I wouldn't forget it?
Today, I don't want to lock myself in to one interpretation...I want to leave it open so I can see it differently the next time...I want to leave myself open to new insights and possibilities that I couldn't see through the ink.

Laughter and Joy

Sometimes we just need a little Tolkien to start the day. This excerpt is from "The Return of the King":

Sam awakes after the horrors of Mt. Doom and sees Gandalf, after thinking him dead.

But Sam lay back, and started with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last has gasped: 'Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?'

'A great shadow has departed,' said Gandalf, and then he laughed and the sound was like music, or water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known. But he himself burst into tears. Then, as sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer, his tears ceased, and his laughter welled up, and laughing he sprang from his bed.

'How do I feel?' he cried. 'Well I don’t know how to say it. I feel, I feel' – he waved his arms in the air – 'I feel like spring after winter, and sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I have ever heard!'

What a beautiful description of pure joy!

Friday, September 23, 2011


Padre Pio

Today is the feast day of St. Padre man who lived with illness and persecution and of whom it could still be said:

"They found no wild-eyed fanatic, no crazed neurotic, no embittered rebel, but a pleasant, humorous man. According to [Padre] Raffaele, Pasetto was very much impressed with Pio's humility, his docility, and the whole of his conduct. He recognized Pio as a man of prayer and entirely godly."

On September 20, 1918, Padre Pio was kneeling in front of a large crucifix when he received the visible marks of the crucifixion, making him the first stigmatized priest in the history of Church. The doctor who examined Padre Pio could not find any natural cause for the wounds. Upon his death in 1968, the wounds were no longer visible. In fact, there was no scaring and the skin was completely renewed. He had predicted 50 years prior that upon his death the wounds would heal.

There is more information about the Patron saint of civil servants and adolescents here.

Autumnal Equinox

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Autumnal least according to Yahoo...

And it's already happened...don't tell me you missed it!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rules for living like Christ...

"The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace."
--Mother Theresa

All of our actions impact the world. Whether it is just the area in which we live or the world at large, each action attributed to us counts...even if we think no one is paying attention.

Our Weekly Youth Bible Study is currently studying Ruben Job's "Three Simple Rules". His inspiration for the book is taken from John Wesley's General Rules to Methodists:
Do no harm, Do good, Stay in love with God. We're on the first one...Do no harm. I knew of these rules, but until I began to prepare for the study, I never realized how hard one "simple" rule could be. "Do no harm" other words avoid evil of every kind.

I suppose I should say not that I never realized how hard it could be, but that I never realized how many times we "harm" one another during the course of the day. By
thought, word or deed. By thought, without thought...with a few words or one one little action, or reaction.

At this point, it seems like a daunting task...but others have tried it and been prayer is that I at least be successful in the attempt.

Swan Lake

I once dreamed of being a ballerina. And in my dreams my dancing was flawless. But alas, the Ballet Instructor at the studio I attended explained to my mother (when I was still quite young) that I would not have the physique when I grew up. Of course, that may have been a kind way of saying, she's not a graceful person! Whatever the reason, my career ended at the grand old age of 8...but in my dreams I was still flawless!

We lived across the street from a very unique family that contained 3 daughters (all older than I)...two of which danced with the NY City Ballet. Whenever they came home to visit they allowed me into their world. Even on vacation they practiced...and I watched. They will never know what joy they brought to my young heart.

I must admit, the rendition of Swan Lake below (performed by the Chinese State Circus) is not technically the Swan Lake I grew up watching but it is breathtaking none the less! The principal dancer is amazing with her style, grace and flexibility...enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wide Open

The St. John's Bible

The Saint John's Bible is a work of art and a work of theology. A team of artists coordinated by Donald Jackson in Wales and a team of scholars in Central Minnesota have brought together the ancient techniques of calligraphy and illumination with an ecumenical Christian approach to the Bible rooted in Benedictine spirituality. The result is a living document and a monumental achievement.

It was a task of biblical proportions — drawing every letter and illustration in a Bible painstakingly by hand. Now, 13 years after its inception, the brightly colored and massive St. John's Bible is complete.

Modern touches dominate the St. John's Bible, believed to be the only handwritten and illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine monastery in the more than 500 years since the invention of the printing press. Klassen sweeps his hand across a page from Ezekiel, which shows "The Valley of Dry Bones" at the bottom as a gray pile of skulls of victims of the Khmer Rouge, a crashed car, and victim eyeglasses from the Holocaust. But at the top of the page are shimmering rainbow colors representing God's covenant with his people. More here...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Delores Hope...

the wife of famed comedian Bob Hope passed away on Sunday at the age of 102. He passed away in 2003 at the age of 100. They were blessed to have spent 69 years together...although he once joked that with all the traveling he had to do, they only actually spent 3 weeks together. On their 50th anniversary Delores gave him a paperweight inscribed "Don't think these 3 weeks haven't been fun".

In a place like Hollywood, enduring marriages are scarce. But theirs did. One of their daughters said she thought that laughter in the family home contributed to her parents long lives.

Nancy Reagan said of her "Dolores was a good friend and a good person. She was an extraordinary partner to Bob throughout his entire life, supporting both their family at home and Bob's selfless cause to entertain U.S. troops abroad. Together, they brought countless hours of laughter and cheer to Americans everywhere."

Rest in Peace, Mrs. Hope

Laughter and love, a recipe for a blessed life.

Standing under the Cross

Standing erect, holding our heads high, is the attitude of spiritually mature people in face of the calamities of our world. The facts of everyday life are a rich source for doomsday thinking and feeling. But it is possible for us to resist this temptation and to stand with self-confidence in this world, never losing our spiritual ground, always aware that "sky and earth will pass away" but the words of Jesus will never pass away (see Luke 21:33).

Let us be like Mary, the mother of Jesus, who stood under the cross, trusting in God's faithfulness notwithstanding the death of his beloved Child.
Henri Nowen


The clip embedded below is for an MTV movie (language alert!) about young peoples online lives and how it affects their relationships. Unfortunately this movie was inspired by the true story of Abraham Biggs, a young man who broadcast his own suicide online as he was being egged on by the digital crowd. I don't usually post this type of video but felt I see more and more of our young people getting wrapped up in the "cyber world" and loosing touch with reality. Parents and those of us who work with young people would do well to listen to the message.

Monday, September 19, 2011


God' glory....

Our driveway makes a "V" and in the middle is a flowerbed that was put there for my husband's grandmother when the house was built. Bless her, I've always said her flower bed had the worst dirt on the farm. With tilling and the addition of mulch over the years, we've managed to make it a great place for flowers. Except it sees the full sun all day.

We are limited as to what kind of flowers will prosper in that type of environment. Over the years, marigolds and zinnias have been the favorite but this year I decided to plant only sunflowers. I chose different colors (from bright yellow to a beautiful rust) and different heights. The results were truly a testament to God's glory.

Not only were we able to enjoy the different size flowers blooming throughout the summer, they also bloomed at different times. As a result of the seeds (and the hummingbird feeder at one end), we've also been blessed with a multitude of birds!

I can't tell you how many times I have made my way (with dragging footsteps) to work early in the morning only to behold a new bud or new bird. Stopping for just a moment to behold the glory of God's nature has lifted my spirits and changed my attitude more than once.

The blooms are all sagging now under the weight of hundreds of seeds but even in this stage, they are a wonder to behold. I have no way of knowing how many birds have benefited from our sunflowers (and hummingbird juice) but I am daily drawn to say a word of thanks to our Father for allowing me my little slice of His beauty!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Happiest?

An article from Forbes magazine lists these as the "10 Happiest Jobs"

1. Clergy: The least worldly are reported to be the happiest of all

2. Firefighters: Eighty percent of firefighters are “very satisfied” with their jobs, which involve helping people.

3. Physical therapists: Social interaction and helping people apparently make this job one of the happiest.

4. Authors: For most authors, the pay is ridiculously low or non-existent, but the autonomy of writing down the contents of your own mind apparently leads to happiness.

5. Special education teachers: If you don’t care about money, a job as special education teacher might be a happy profession. The annual salary averages just under $50,000.

6. Teachers: Teachers in general report being happy with their jobs, despite the current issues with education funding and classroom conditions. The profession continues to attract young idealists, although fifty percent of new teachers are gone within five years.

7. Artists: Sculptors and painters report high job satisfaction, despite the great difficulty in making a living from it.

8. Psychologists: Psychologists may or may not be able to solve other people’s problems, but it seems that they have managed to solve their own.

9. Financial services sales agents: Sixty-five percent of financial services sales agents are reported to be happy with their jobs. That could be because some of them are clearing more than $90,000 dollars a year on average for a 40-hour work week in a comfortable office environment.

10. Operating engineers: Playing with giant toys like bulldozers, front-end loaders, backhoes, scrapers, motor graders, shovels, derricks, large pumps, and air compressors can be fun. With more jobs for operating engineers than qualified applicants, operating engineers report being happy.

Given the chance, would you change jobs? If so, would you choose one of these?

Too true...

Saw this posted at "The Deacon's Bench"...he called it:

A Christmas Card for our time...

If we took pictures like we live our lives, this could be what they would look like! Ah, technology...connects us and keeps us apart!

The future?

Asbo Jesus

We make a grave mistake when we relegate the young people of our congregations to "The Future". While they are the ones who will lead us some day and they are the ones who will carry the traditions forward, they are very much alive in the church of today.

Or, they are as alive as we will allow them to be. Their ideas may seem radical to us and to our dismay, they may have a burning desire to change some long standing customs. After all, what is wrong with the way we do it? Right?

Too many of us, especially as we get older, get more and more resistant to change (oh no, the "c" word!) and while I do not think we should merely change for changes sake...what does it hurt to listen to what they have to say? God Himself spoke out of the mouths of young people. They have been raised in a different time and in a different culture...who is to say their thoughts are not worthy of our consideration?

Young people today are exposed to more knowledge at an earlier age than any group in history and they have a voice, let's listen.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Does money grow on trees?

If you were to look at the pictures below, you might be inclined to answer yes!

But come to find out, these are considered "Wishing Trees" and people have been driving coins into them for centuries now...kind of like tossing a coin in a fountain...

Daily Mail has the full story

One form of votive offering is the token offering of a coin. One such tree still stands near Ardmaddy House in Argyll, Scotland, a hawthorn, which is a species traditionally linked with fertility. The trunk and branches are covered with hundreds of coins which have been driven through the bark and into the wood. The local tradition is that a wish will be granted for each of the coins so treated.[1]

In the glen of the Aira Beck near Aira Force is a wish tree formed from a large fallen tree trunk into which the many visitors hammer coins using stones from nearby.

On Isle Maree in Loch Maree, Gairloch, in the Highlands is an oak wish tree made famous by a visit in 1877 by Queen Victoria mentioned in her published diaries. The tree, and others surrounding it, are festooned with hammered-in coins. It is near the healing well of St. Maree, to which votive offerings were made, including the sacrifice of bulls, which continued up to the 18th century, according to records.[2]

Near Mountrath, County Laois, is a shapeless old wish tree in the form of a sycamore tree called St. Fintan's Well. The original well was filled in, but the water re-appeared in the centre of the tree. Hundreds of Irish pennies have been beaten into the bark as good luck offerings.[3]

The High Force Waterfall has a coin wish tree in the grounds of the waterfall.

St. Catherine of Genoa

Today is the feast day of St. Catherine of Genoa who was born in 1447. When she was sixteen she was betrothed to Julian Adorno, who was known to be a spendthrift and less than faithful, already having a mistress and a child. Catherine entered a period of severe depression. But in 1473, she prayed to God for help, and had an emotional experience that changed her life. So powerful was this experience that Catherine could not move for days. She spent the next year in penance and tireless service to the poor.

Catherine's husband was affected greatly by her devotion. After she experienced God's love, Julian became bankrupt and decided to turn his life toward helping the poor alongside Catherine. After Julian died in 1497, Catherine cared for his mistress as well as his illegitimate child. She spent her last years as the director of the Pammatone Hospital, which served the sick and poor in the area.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gaelic Blessing

Something soothing for your Wednesday one does it quite like John Rutter...

Deep peace of the running wave to you

Deep peace of the flowing air to you

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you

Deep peace of the shining stars to you

Deep peace of the gentle night to you

Moon and stars pour their healing light on you

Deep peace of Christ, of Christ the light of the world to you

Deep peace of Christ to you


All youth leaders struggle with attendance. When my children were young, I could control when and where they went...what they focused on and whether or not they attended the church youth program. I guess that's been the hardest part for me...having a parent come to me and say, "I just can't convince my child to come..." Perhaps I was wrong, but there was no convincing...they were expected to attend unless there was an unusual circumstance. Imagine how thrilled I was when they hit high school, got their license and chose to be at the youth meetings.

I know that there are other things pulling on the young people...other commitments, other desires but as a parent I felt it was my responsibility to help them balance...after all, they would soon be out from under my wings and making all their own decisions. YouthWorker Movement has a good article addressing this issue:

And on that day that you come to me, wondering why college Johnny isn’t interested in church or God or helping others any more, I probably won’t point out that while we were on mission trip he was doing chin-ups 9 weeks before his next game or memorizing marching patterns for a 3 minute halftime show two months away. Or that while we were doing a youth leadership devotion on the importance of the practice of prayer he was deciding on his favorite scene from “The Hangover” with his buddies in the weight room. But that’s what happened. Or at least part of it.

Read the rest here....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Missional Church

A quick and easy explanation:

Family Memories

This is a re-post from 2008...just felt the need to put it out there again...


I read an article recently that quoted a scene from "The Godfather"...a wannabe hit man is applying for a job. He sets out all his expertise as well as his cold blooded ability to do what is required. After listening silently, the Godfather leans forward and says (in a way that only Marlon Brando could) "But tell me, do ya spend time wit' your family?" There's something to be learned here.

Time spent together as a family is the cornerstone of strong, healthy relationships. More often than not, you don't start out to "do" anything a movie, go on a walk, go to the lake/beach or just simply "waste time together" but memories happen. In years to come, these times will be brought up again and again and once more you recall the laughter or the peace that comes from shared experiences.

My children are grown and gone now but give us a few minutes together and a wonderful memory will appear and we get to live it all over again! Never pass up the opportunity to spend time wit' your family!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Healing and Tribute

Dona Nobis Pacem (translates: Give us Peace)

Take care to notice the birds flying around in the lights...fitting tribute, don't you think?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fair Time

All this week the local county Fair has been in full swing...except for the fact that Tropical Storm Lee (I think that's it's name) has been parked over our area since last Sunday. We didn't see sunshine from Saturday afternoon until yesterday how we missed it! But we had no local flooding and our hearts go out to those who have...

Because of the weather, we weren't able to take Grandson (7 years old) until Thursday which point he was oh so ready to ride! Given that it was a school night, we couldn't find any friends to ride with him so guess who got elected? I gave it my best shot and actually survived a few rides I didn't think I would...something about age and going round and round...

This one was fun...even if it did make my hair stand up! Too bad you can't see it in action!

Everyone loves Bumper Cars...

This one was a killer...we both resolved to NEVER ride it again! Yikes...

We rode several others but ended the evening on one of our favorites...and it doesn't even require a motor...

I hope you have had (or will soon have) the opportunity to take in a local fair...there's just nothing like it. The smiles on grandson's face were priceless.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Although it may feel so at times, we are never broken to the point where God cannot repair us...He is the Omnipotent One!

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:17


Why does it take a traumatic event to motivate us to pursue our dreams? Why do we allow ourselves to be swallowed up in day to day life and never step out? Why do we have so little faith in ourselves and our God given talents? While most of us will never be famous...not even for 15 minutes...many of the greatest achievements in this world have been accomplished by the unknown people. Don't measure your success by dollars or by the notoriety that stardom brings...measure it by your impact on your fellow man.


Baby Boomers (born 1946 - 1964)
Generation X (born 1965 - 1981)
Millennials (born 1982 - 2001)

How are we different in terms of media, shopping and social habits?

since the Millennials generation is larger than the Baby Boomers... and three times bigger than Generation X... understanding of Millennials' needs, tastes and behaviors will clearly shape... future business decisions... "

* Millennials watch significantly less TV than Non-Millennials, says the report, watching 20-plus hours/week (26% versus 49%). When not watching live TV, Millennials are much more likely to watch shows mainly on their laptops (42% versus 18%), with DVR (40% versus 36%), or On-Demand (26% versus 18%)
* 70% of Millennials reported feeling more excited when their friends agreed with them about where to shop, eat and play. Only 48% of older adults were as heavily influenced by their friends and colleagues. Additionally, more Millennials than Non-Millennials reported using a mobile device while shopping to research products (50% versus 21%)
* The majority of all respondents shop alone (60% Millennials, 69% Non- Millennials). However, Millennials report more shopping than Non-Millennials with family unit, spouse and children (13% versus 6%) and with adult friends (4% versus 2%)
* 70% of Millennials want to visit every continent in their lifetime. Fewer than half of older adults report that goal
* Millennials accounted for 18% of their monthly restaurant spend in the fast-casual format, compared to only 13% for Non-Millennials. Additionally, Millennials crave snacking opportunities, and are more than twice as likely as older people to seek them out mid-morning, mid-afternoon and late at night
* Millennials demand more knowledgeable and fashionable sales associates (29% versus 19%) while Non-Millennials value sales associates who know to apply discounts and offer promotions (65% versus 51%)

If we want to communicate with the "younger" generations, we need to try and understand their wants and needs...and because of technology, their ideas are very different from our own...

There is much more information to be found here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


My first post this morning dealt with fear. It is something we are all familiar some form or the other...there is only one way to conquer fear...


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Is this how you worship?

Listen to the words...while I know you're familiar with many of the songs on this video, listen really closely to them. Do you mean the "actual" words written or are these versions closer to the truth? Are you just "going through the motions" in worship?

I am one of many who love the structure of the liturgy and the order of worship but I must admit it can be easy to fall into a rut and not think about what I'm actually saying...or maybe I mean it but don't apply it to my life...or maybe I just apply it on certain days, after all, who can be holy at work in the secular world?

I found it to be an eyeopener!


There's a Facebook page that has more than 8 million fans...and for the last 3 months people have "liked" or commented on it more than any other Facebook page...

Although I can't speak to whether this should be considered right or long as you remember that it is generated by a man, you might find some interesting and useful information there. You can read more here...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Words are very important. When we say to someone: "You are an ugly, useless, despicable person," we might have ruined the possibility for a relationship with that person for life. Words can continue to do harm for many years.

It is so important to choose our words wisely. When we are boiling with anger and eager to throw bitter words at our opponents, it is better to remain silent. Words spoken in rage will make reconciliation very hard. Choosing life and not death, blessings and not curses often starts by choosing to remain silent or choosing carefully the words that open the way to healing.
Henri Nouwen


To obtain forgiveness, we must have a merciful spirit:

On Monday morning, October 2, 2006, a gunman entered a one-room Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. In front of 25 horrified pupils, Charles Roberts ordered the boys and the teacher to leave the room. After tying the legs of the 10 girls who remained, Roberts prepared to shoot them execution style. The eldest girl (13 years old), begged Roberts to “shoot me and let the little ones go.” Refusing, he opened fire on all of them, killing five and leaving the others critically wounded. He then shot himself as police stormed the building. We now know he was angry at God for taking his own little daughter...this was what he told the girls before the massacre.

The story captured the attention of media around the world. By Tuesday morning some fifty television crews had clogged the small village and stayed a total of 5 days...until the girls and their killer were buried.

The blood was barely dry on the schoolhouse floor when Amish parents brought words of forgiveness to the family of the one who had slain their daughters.The outside world was incredulous that such forgiveness could be offered for such a heinous crime. It was not just their willingness to forgive, they were willing to do so without even taking time to grieve for their own. They gave almost immediately after having their own heart forever broken.

Fresh from the funerals where they had buried their own daughters, the grieving Amish families accounted for half of the seventy-five people who attended the Charles Roberts funeral. Roberts’ widow was deeply moved by their presence. These mourning families greeted her and her three children with a forgiveness went beyond talk and graveside presence...they also donated to a fund that had been established for the shooter’s family.

This event is one of the single most compelling stories of forgiveness I have ever heard in my life. I know that God does not just call His people to be forgiving...He requires it. In light of this tragedy, I must confess I don't know if I would have been able, especially so quickly...I pray someday to be able to live up to their example.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Wounded Warrior Project

The Wounded Warrior Project is our (us regular folks) way to help out those who serve in our Armed Services. There are many who never know what it is like to have a person close to you serving in the military. The worry, doubt, fear, helplessness...especially if your loved one is serving on foreign shores.

Now just imagine if that loved one is wounded...most people believe the government steps in and takes care of it all...and they do try (I have to believe they do), but there is so much need and so little coverage. The purpose of the project is three fold:
# To raise awareness and enlist the public's aid for the needs of injured service members.
# To help injured service members aid and assist each other.
# To provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service member

Go and read "Who we serve" and you will see that the events of September 11 were a catalyst for the creation of this program...

All I ask is that you check it out, then do something if you feel led. Please remember: "The greatest casualty is being forgotten"

A Prayer for the day...

And now, let us pray

From The Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Google Images

I love checking out a friend of mines blog... Gavoweb. Gavin has been a great help in my years of Youth Ministry and is always available when I need him (thanks Gav!)...

He recently wrote a post concerning the Google Images of Faith...some of them include:





These were added to whet your appetite...go check out the rest here...

Sanctuary under the Sky?

It's a "drive-in" an actual "drive-in" where you went to watch movies as a child (or perhaps still do if you live in my little world, we have an operating drive in theater here!).

On a Sunday in Lucas, Texas, churchgoers didn't file into pews. They pulled into parking spots.

Vans and trucks drove into the parking lot of Lovejoy High School to be part of "Sanctuary Under the Sky," Rev. David Ray's new drive-in church.

"The sound is transmitted over the car radio so they just tune into the frequency that it's set to. They can hear, they're encouraged to participate. Everything that the congregation is asked to do is printed in the bulletin," said Ray.

Ray, pastor of Presbyterian Church of the Master, stands in the parking lot conducting the service as churchgoers watch through their dashboard windows.

Pastor Ray says: "'s a way for people to test the waters. He also holds a more formal church service indoors an hour after the drive-in service."

Come to find out, this is not a new concept...they've been around for years. Just the first time I've heard of it!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

This weekend is the last official holiday of the summer. It is set aside in the USA to celebrate everyone who "labors" for a living!

Even though there is no perceptible change in the weather (which means it is still really hot and humid here), school has started, the High School is playing football on Friday nights, our local county fair has begun and I've even noticed a slight change in the color of the leaves on the dogwood trees (which are always the first to change)all combine to tell us it is the beginning of fall!

What does fall mean in your part of the world?

Where I live,the trees will really begin to change until we are surrounded in a breathtaking array of color! We'll finally get a break in the humidity, and start to feel a "nip" in the air early in the mornings. Mums and scarecrows and hay and cornstalks will spring up overnight in many of our neighbors yards. We will start preparing some of the foods more associated with cold weather...homemade soup, beef stew just to name a couple. We'll take a trip to the local "Corn Maze" and select our pumpkin. The hummingbirds will visit our feeders less and less and we'll start to hear the call of geese and ducks as they migrate through. I must confess, fall is my favorite time...

As a celebration of our "last" weekend of summer and the "first" weekend of fall...we will take grandson and a friend swimming today and then take him to the County Fair on Sunday or often do you get the chance to celebrate two seasons in one weekend? Hope you enjoy yours!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cell Phones

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project examines Americans’ cellphone habits, and specifically provides information about adults ages 18-29 and their reliance on mobile devices. Among the findings in this survey is how Millennials (describes the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when the Millennial generation starts and ends, and commentators have used birth dates ranging somewhere from the mid-1970s to the mid 1990s, with some sources including as late as the early 2000's)regard cellphones as a security blanket; many have trouble completing a task if their phone is not nearby. Additionally, more than a quarter of Millennials use phones to avoid human interaction. They are known to be a social generation, but having grown up surrounded by technology, they may use devices to escape from real-life social situations…at least sometimes. Twenty-somethings even pretend to talk on the phone or text when they don’t want to communicate with those who are physically nearby. They view phones as a reliable source of entertainment, but even the most connected consumers need a break, and turn their phones off — for a short period of time — to get an escape. Cost: Free. More information from Pew Research


What's wrong with this picture?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A crying baby...

Be that as it may: when a baby cries, and a mother is encouraged to take it out of church, to a place apart, the parish is sending a distinct and unsettling message. It's indicating, not-too-subtly, that crying children don't belong. We might as well amend the creed: "One, holy, catholic and apostolic church - except for crying babies, of course."

I'm sure a lot of people would argue that the holy sacrifice of the Mass demands reverent devotion and full attention; it requires a sense of the sacred. Crying babies shatter that atmosphere. And I don't disagree.

But Mass also requires a sense of the human. The most perfect prayer on earth requires the participation of those who are imperfect. It assembles together broken, wounded people of all kinds, and in our brokenness, we pray. We sing. We adore. We praise.

And yes, we cry.

In that spontaneous, unabashed wail we hear countless other cries of discomfort or fear or pain or sickness. That cry is our humanity, in the key of E. (Or "Eeeeeee!") There we hear the sound of Eden, and Egypt, of Bethlehem, and Golgotha. It might be argued that the most authentic language of the Church isn't Latin; it's the cry of one suffering soul.

A Protestant pastor once put it beautifully. "A church with a crying baby," he said, "is a church that is alive." When you hear babies in church, you're hearing life, and the promise of the next generation that will carry on the Good News. The faith will go on.

I've added the italics and marked the passage in the rest of the article by Deacon Greg Kandra...

It's easy to help...

I know of (2) sites like this...

One is for Breast Cancer Awareness...visit daily and click the button to help give a free mammogram.

Another is to help feed Homeless Veterans...same scenario...visit daily and click!

It only takes a couple of minutes to help...Site sponsors count the number of "clicks" and they donate money to the organizations to pay the cost. What a great way to start the day...with a gift of life!


Just one of the many ways United Methodis Committee On Relief serves...