Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Read it Again

Colors of fall as seen on my drive to Breezewood PA. on the north and south sides of I 70. It was hazy and bright, and I couldn't get good snaps of the far valley. Had to cut the sky out of most of the east snaps. I always enjoy looking at these valleys when I make that drive. Other snaps from the valleys are below. 

Back in the early days when I first began writing and dreamed of being published, I bought a book called "Behind the Stories" by Diane Eble. It's filled with personal stories of Christian novelists, their hopes and dreams, how they got started, their failures.

As much as I wanted to be a novelist, I knew I was not a story teller, and I didn't have enough words to write a novel. But I did like writing articles, so I was looking for encouragement.

Through the years I did get some of those articles published, but God redirected my focus to writing notes of encouragement. The other day I went downstairs to choose some books to read. I picked up "Behind the Stories" again, some 14 years later. In each author's story there are choice words of wisdom and encouragement.

Jan Karon, of Mitford fame, is one of the authors who shares her story.
I had to laugh when I read: "I remember playing the card game called
'Author,' with pictures of authors such as Henry Longfellow, Henry David
Thoreau, Jane Austin, and Charles Dickens." I immediately went to the
 internet to try and find a set. I found three card games: America Authors, Women Authors and Children's Authors. I'd never heard of that game before.

Karon also shared these words of wisdom: "God can't give you a gift to touch other people in a variety of ways unless He has put you in the valley in a variety of ways. That's the only way we can ever reach people." Most of us, through the years, have learned the lesson that our trials and burdens can be used for God's glory if we let Him work in us.

Janette Oke is another author featured in this book. She was a pioneer in Christian fiction, and as a new believer I learned a lot about living a Christian life through her stories. She calls her books "paper missionaries." They certainly helped me.

A while back I recall a quote that went something like this: "If a book isn't worth reading over a few times, it's not worth reading at all." I don't remember who said it, but my memory is leaning towards C. S. Lewis. (I decided to try and find it and found my remembrance isn't quite right, but I still like my version!) Here is what Lewis actually said: "No book is really worth reading at the age of 10 which is not equally--and often far more--worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond."

I'm glad I decided to reread this book. It's good to become acquainted with people who share a similar gift. They have the ability to encourage you and inspire you in your work.

I'm looking forward to reading stories on Karen Kingsbury, Jerry Jenkins, Beverly Lewis, Gilbert Morris, Jack Cavanaugh and T. Davis Buss, some of the authors whose books I've read and enjoyed.

What books do you have that are calling for you to read a second, or third time? A good book is worth reading again!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Top of the Hour

     I liked this lone tree with the yellow flowers underneath it as I drove the back roads of Vermont.

A fiction novel I read recently, Book of Hours, by Davis Bunn,,focused around an English town, an English manor and the broken lives of the people who lived there. And there were riddles that had to be solved to bring a happy ending to the story.

It reminded me of a practice I had forgotten about. A good practice. And I want to share it with you. In this little town there were seven churches and they all rang their bells every hour, day and night. There were people in the town that wanted the ringing to stop.

         A lovely lake hidden behind the hills in Vermont. The flowers were showing their color!

One of the main characters gave a talk about why the bells rang in hope of persuading the people to keep the bells. Following are portions of her talk:

"This village has known some very rich times and some very hard times. Nine hundred years ago when William the Conqueror made this his first capital in England, Knightsbridge was one of the wealthiest communities in all the land. Records show that by the end of the following century, work on four of our seven churches had begun . . .

      The small village of Wilmington was decorated in beautiful flowers along the main street,
                                                        as many of the town were.

"So long ago we don't even know when the practice began, people saw the need for regular prayer. The account I read claimed it started in France almost fourteen hundred years ago, and it told how people from all walks of life began halting every hour to give a short prayer. Only a few brief words, but every hour they took time to turn to God . . .

"But how could they do this? How did they know when to pray, since there were no clocks? The answer is, they rang the church bells. Seven churches planted so that their bells could be heard everywhere in the region. And each time they rang, people stopped what they were doing and said a prayer, one that lasted no longer than it took to ring the hour. Those who could read carried a miniature text called the "Book of Hours." In it were prayers and short poems, brief words to inspire and direct  . . .

                Loved driving over and around mountains and coming up on a scene like this!

"Save our heritage. Remind us of our needs, however dated they might seem at the moment. Let the bells of Knightsbridge ring for centuries to come."

I say that is a pretty strong message for the 21st century! How long has it been since you've heard the bells toll and talked with God? It certainly would be a welcome reminder in this day and age to call out to God.

                         Love this scene I found hanging in Norman Rockwell's studio.

I drafted this post before I went to Vermont. One early morning recently the grandfather clock in the living room began it's chimes for the top of the hour. The light came on in my mind! "When I hear the clock chime, turn my mind towards God!" I wish I could say it's been a great reminder, but  I'm so use to hearing the clock chime that I don't always "hear" it. It will take some time before a routine will set in, but my heart's desire remains firm. I want to "turn my heart towards God" frequently throughout my day.

                                                          Please, Mom, can we go out?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Racking Up the Years

"Yes! Set free, as so beautifully drawn by my friend, Karla Dornacher."

October 14 was an anniversary date for me. Three complete years of retirement. I was "set free" from full-time work outside the home. What have I learned? I'm still trying to slow down.

The discipline of jumping up and running first thing in the morning is hard to break. Oh, I'll always be a morning person, but I don't have to start quite as early. I've been trying to wait until 6:30 to get started. That's a whole half hour longer friends!

     "Jo, looking in the kitchen window, and Abby, looking in the writing room window, trying to get my attention."

Now it doesn't help that the pups are wide awake and playing at 5 a.m. During the summer I would sit outside with them for a spell so Jerry and Mom wouldn't be disturbed. The early morning is quite chilly now--no sitting outside. But thankfully, they do quiet down after they eat at 5:45, and I can read.

                                                  "Uh oh. We're in trouble now."

So today is the first day of my 4th year of being retired. I'm thankful circumstances were such that I could retire after 42 years of working full-time. Do I miss work? No. As my friend, Roy, use to say: "That's why they call it work."

I learned a lot. Experienced a lot. Was exposed to many things over those 42 years. That season of my life is over.

                                "My dahlias are still blooming so I bought these in to enjoy!"

I may have given up some things, but I haven't lost the best thing--the work God has given me to do for Him. That wasn't lost or ended. Now I have more time to do that and other deeds of service I couldn't do before.

Happy anniversary, Carol! The best days are before me. Now that encourages me!

Finally, after waiting all summer, two fawn were up with their Mom last Sunday morning. The second week of August has always been the latest we've had fawns come up, normally seeing them the end of July. I thought I wouldn't see any this year. Our neighbor, below us, told us they'd seen two in their yard in July. I was so thrilled to see them! Better late than never!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Swaying in the Breeze

"'Tain't worthwhile to wear a day all out before it comes."  Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909)

I'm studying "Slaying the Giants in Your Life" in my Sunday School quarterly this quarter. Written by David Jeremiah, he teaches on those awful things such as worry, discouragement, quilt, etc. In Session 3 the subject is about worry, and I enjoyed reading the way the author discussed how illogical worry is. And he did it by talking about a lily . . .

"Have you walked through a beautiful garden in the springtime? It's very difficult to be weighed down by the cares of the world when you're surrounded by the majesty of God's beautiful art. Solomon was a glorious king, Jesus tells us, with the wealth of several kingdoms at his disposal. But all of his sparkling finery pales in comparison to the simplest lily that God placed beside your feet .

"And how many office hours have those lilies put in? Have you ever seen a lily suffering through an anxiety attack? They neither toil nor spin. They simply sway in the breeze (I like that), reaching heavenward toward the source of their water and sunshine and sustenance. They do neither more nor less than they were designed to do, and what they were designed to do is to glorify God. Would that you and I could glorify God with the simple eloquence of that little flower.

"Yet the great point is that God values you so much more than a lily. The lily is merely something He created for your pleasure, for you're the one that bears His image.  And if He cares for each petal or stem that blooms and fades within a season, how much more does He care for you? How much more does He take to heart the things that cause your anxiety?

"He took the answer to that question and displayed it on a cross two thousand years ago. He'd never suffer and die for the same children He planned to neglect. That's why worry is illogical."

Yes, the finery of a lily. The beauty of a garden. The sweetness of a meadow. He gave us all of this to bring us pleasure. He most certainly can handle our little worries.

"One is given strength to bear what happens to one, but not the one hundred and one different things that might happen."  C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

An Adventure to Remember

      My version of the famous church and covered bridge just below the home of Norman Rockwell.

Vermont is a beautiful state--especially if you like mountains, and I do! My adventure is now over and what a trip I had! God kept me safe, accident free, and this 65 year old girl went exploring on the back roads!

I made the drive in one day and explored for two full days. The weather couldn't have been better.

My lodging was in the home of Norman Rockwell which is now a B&B called "Inn on Covered Bridge Green." I was able to go inside his study, behind the house, where he painted his scenes of life. I was in the ground floor room on the left with a private entrance. I splurged, and I'm so glad I did!

The white church and covered bridge sit just below his house, and I love the top snap I took early the first morning. The fog was still resting on the trees. I also like the pictures below of how it looked years ago and today. I was standing just outside of the covered bridge facing the house.

My hostess, Julia, said a movie is being made of Rockwell's life and will be filmed there this winter. Photographers were coming in this week to film fall scenery.

The town of Bennington, where I came in to Vermont, is a good welcoming town. I found these moose (above) at the Welcome Center, and the two chocolate moose, Benny and Molly, below in a local chocolate shop!


While snapping the scene below, a man driving by, stopped and asked if my car was a rental car from Maryland or if I was from Maryland. Turns out he lived in Ellicott City, and after visiting Vermont two years ago, he and his wife moved up there. This happened twice. Another man stopped and asked the same question when I was snapping pictures another place. He was from Odenton and misses the Jimmie Cone stores. I bragged that there was one five minutes from my home!

Of course, I visited Weston, home of the Vermont Country Store. I've been buying from them through their catalogs for years. It felt like being home in familiar surroundings.

Just above Weston I visited Ludlow and their Sugar Shack. They give tours on how they make maple syrup. I picked up a few containers to enjoy. A sugar shack in Arlington, the town I stayed in, had a museum of Norman Rockwell's work.

                                     I love the layers of mountain. They were everywhere.

Arlington is also home to the Robert Frost museum, and I stopped by one afternoon. I picked up the children's book illustrating his famous poem "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening." It is beautifully illustrated and this child wanted it!

I loved the roads that curved around like the one below. I could drive on those kind of roads all day long!

Of course, I visited a number of covered bridges, some in poor condition and others quite lovely. At one near the town of Brattleboro, when I got to the end of the bridge I saw a mirror completely opposite of me and there I was in my car! It gave me a chuckle so I had to snap a picture of it!

Grafton is said to be one of ten most loveliest towns in America, and it was indeed charming. I drove 9 miles on a dirt road to get there. :)  I brought home this little green enamel pot, which was being used as a decoration in the general store. The proprietor let me have it for $5. It's seen better days, but it was quite a bit cheaper than the sculptures and quilts that were selling in the thousands.

                              This covered bridge was just outside the town of Grafton

I enjoyed a hearty laugh when I bought gas at the station in Grafton. The pump machine was an old model, with the credit card machine on the end. The manager assured me that everyone has trouble figuring out how to operate it. It sure asked a lot of questions and finding the right buttons to push was frustrating. But he was friendly and helpful, and I got my gas.

I also visited a local farm and found week old piggies! Isn't he cute!

My two days were packed full, and I was ready to return home. I arrived home to two very big, happy puppies, and a happy husband. They presented me with this lovely bouquet of flowers and a quart of chocolate hagen daz ice cream! Jerry said the first morning after I left he woke up to a puppy sleeping on both sides of him and he felt like a squashed sausage! They're getting close to 70 pounds now. I do believe they got along just fine.

My desire to visit Vermont was well satisfied with this visit. I'm sure over the course of a few weeks you'll see pictures showing up in future posts from my trip.

                   I didn't see any real bears, but at least I found one on the dirt road to Grafton!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Vermont? Yes. Vermont

Before Jerry and I married 29 years ago, I mapped out a trip to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. It was a trip I was excited to go on!

But then I met Jerry, and I planned a wedding -- not go on a trip to Vermont. I've never lost the desire to visit Vermont. We did make it to Maine in '89, but a trip to Vermont never materialized.

                                                  Still blooming . . .

Sometime this year I wrote a list of things I wanted to do before I died. Visiting Vermont was one of my desires.

I was scheduled to take a few nights away this fall. Jerry went away in June and we agreed I'd go away in the fall. With Mom living with us, and the pups and Sam to care for, it was easier to take separate time away.

                                                Still blooming . . .

During the summer I thought about Lancaster, Hershey and Ohio of possible places to visit. I enjoy those areas greatly. That is until two weeks ago when the three of us were returning home from lunch in Emmitsburg.

"Go to Vermont," was spoken in my head. "Go to Vermont?" I thought. Where did that come from? I hadn't been thinking about Vermont at all. But the rest of the afternoon I pondered the possibility and that evening, when I told Jerry, he said ok.

Ever since then I've been planning the trip. I'll be visiting the southern part of Vermont coming in at Bennington. I'm splurging and staying in a B&B for the two nights I'll be in Vermont. The B&B is the home of Norman Rockwell, and it's just above the red covered bridge and white church that is so famously photographed.

I'm driving. Alone. I'll have my Booth Brother's CD, as well as Steve Green and John Starnes, and a few others to keep me company on the 9 to 10 hour drive.

                                                Still blooming . . .

Mom and Sam will get a vacation too, staying with friends for the week. Jerry will care for the pups and eat ribs from the Amish market. He's still not completely well from the pain in his back, so we're hoping he'll be feeling much better by the time I leave.

Another dream comes true this year of my 65th birthday. Two puppies in February; a new car and gaining health insurance in March, and a new camera this month (before I ever knew I'd be visiting the  beautiful place of my dreams).

       These two were giving me the eye as they watch over the little one sleeping on Wilson's Farm.

There won't be a new blog post next week because I'll be driving the back roads of Vermont, admiring mountains, lakes, covered bridges and wild life. Route 100 is one of the most scenic routes in America, says Reader's Digest.

Say a prayer for me as God brings me to mind. I've driven long distances before -- 35 to 40 years ago. But as my friend, Jackie, recently wrote to me: "I'm absolutely thrilled about your upcoming trip . . . and proud of you for pursuing a dream and having the courage to step out on your own and follow your heart."

                                                   Still blooming . . .

Psalm 37:4 says: "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Thank you, Father!"

                                           Abby and Jo wishing they were outside the gate!