Posted in My thoughts, tagged christian, church, emotions, faith, fuller lake, God, grief, history, hymn, Jesus, music, nostalgic, old-fashioned, pine grove state park, religion, soul, spirituality, worship on September 18, 2016|
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Considering that my last blog post was about an ornate, massive cathedral, this one is going in a slightly different direction. While the grandeur of a cathedral can lead me to worship, much simpler churches can do the same.
We had the opportunity to attend a very old and tiny church near our cottage this past summer. It was built in the 1800’s and has been preserved and kept as it was in the past. There are old, wooden pews, oil lamps, and no heat or air conditioning. The first time I walked into the church many things took me back to the church I attended as a young girl (especially the hand-held fans with the picture of Jesus.)
Everything from the picture of Jesus in the front of the church to the board with the attendance numbers felt very nostalgic to me. On the back of the pew in front of me were old hymnals and a bible. As I pulled out the hymn book and began to leaf through it, I found this taped in the front. The words to this song captures what I was feeling at that moment.
If you like old-time music, here’s a link to the song.
Church in the Valley by the Wild Wood
My eyes filled with tears as I though about how much my Dad would have loved this little church. He would have enjoyed the old hymns as well as the speakers who really taught scripture. My Dad passed away shortly after we bought the cottage last year so was never able to attend this little church with us. Even though I know he is in a place that is better than any cathedral or old brick church, I still miss him.
Feeling nostalgic was touching, but then the service started. A sweet, older man led us in singing hymns. He wasn’t as refined and polished as most of the worship leaders are in many modern churches, but you could tell he LOVED singing those old songs an meant every single word–it was a beautiful thing. As I sang the alto part to hymns that I had sung as a teenager it affected me in a way that it didn’t when I was young. Having experienced 40+ years of life since singing them, the words had a much deeper meaning.
We actually helped to set a record attendance of 39 one week and as a person who usually attends a VERY large church, it was moving to be a part of such a small congregation. People had either come because they have a cabin in the area or they were camping at the nearby campground. Even though we were all strangers, we were united in our faith.
The church is only open from Memorial Day through Labor Day so I will miss that little church until next spring. 😦
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Posted in Travel Experiences, tagged Basel, cathedral, christian, church, emotion, europe, God, holy, love, music, organ, religion, sacred, tour, tourism, travel, worship on July 11, 2016|
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Front Entrance of Cathedral and View of Both Spires
One of the attractions in Basel that everyone recommends is the Meunster Cathedral. I love going into Cathedrals and old churches so this was definitely on our list of things to see.
One of the Stained Glass Windows
We were able to tour much of the Cathedral, which was absolutely beautiful. This particular Cathedral has 2 spires and we were able to climb one of them – 250 spiral steps. We stopped at several points on the way to the top and walked around the spire on a narrow walkway. The view from the top was breath-taking.
Just starting the climb
Part way up and looking up at the other spire
At the very top and looking directly across at the other spire
It was amazing to see the entire town of Basel from this vantage point as well as looking straight across at the other spire. Luckily I have no fear of heights so it was sheer joy and pleasure for me. The walk down was tricky at times, but we made it back to the main sanctuary safely.
After coming down we discovered there was an organ recital about to start so we took a seat and waited for the organist to begin. As we waited I noticed an elderly gentleman sitting across the way talking and gesturing to himself and my first thought was that he must be a little senile. After watching him for 30 seconds I realized that he was praying – having an honest, heart-felt conversation with God. He was experiencing deep emotion and it was very evident that he does this often. He didn’t care who was around him or what they thought – he was spending time with his Lord. It was clear that his prayer was very earnest and he was listening as well as talking.
As the organ music began he closed his eyes and I could see that he wasn’t just hearing the music, but he was FEELING the music. He would lift his hands at times and move them to the music much like a conductor would. He was still moving his lips at times and putting his hand to his head as if overwhelmed by a thought/emotion. He was enjoying the music with the one he had come to spend time with.
At the end of the recital people began to clap and he put his hands over his ears. Only the Lord knows why he did this, but I couldn’t help but think that either the sound of the clapping was interfering with his worship or he was offended that people were giving praise to the organist instead of the Lord. As everyone began to leave I watched him slowly rise from his chair and walk out of the church holding on to his cane and he was fairly stooped over. He had a look on his face like he had just had the most wonderful time communing with someone he loved very much—the God of the Universe. He may be feeble of body, but he has an extremely healthy soul.
Empty chairs after he had left
Often just being in a cathedral and sensing the Holiness brings tears to my eyes, but watching that man was more beautiful than any grand tower or stained glass window. I can’t help but think that I’ll never see a sight as beautiful as that no matter how many cathedrals I tour. I hope to someday have that kind of relationship with God that I can freely worship in whatever way I am moved, regardless of what others think. I guess when you are staring into the face of someone you truly love everything else fades away. I’m going to keep praying that God will help me to feel that kind of love for him/her. I hope you might pray the same.
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Posted in My thoughts, tagged beauty, cabin, camping, christian, cottage, emotions, family, feelings, forest, gift, God, gratitude, grief, healing, hike, hiking, introspection, Laurel Lake, marriage, nature, Pine Grove, soul, spirituality, thankful, women, woods on October 17, 2015|
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Never Say “Never”
I can’t even begin to count the times I’ve said I would NEVER do something only to wind up doing exactly what I said I’d “never” do.
- I said I’d never live in a white house–I now live in a house with white siding.
- I said I’d never ride a bike–I now LOVE riding bicycle.
- I said I’d never like eating wings because it was ‘barbaric’. Well, I now thoroughly enjoy sitting down to a heaping plateful of messy wings and tearing into them like a ravenous dog.
- plus MANY more……..
One thing I said I’d never do was to have any kind of vacation place. My husband had been talking about it for years and I’ve always said that was something I’d never do. Well………yep, you guessed it, we now own a cottage in a nearby state forest. As my husband kept showing me picture after picture of cabins, cottages and homes in the woods I continued to adamantly tell him that it wasn’t something I wanted. Then, one evening he showed me a picture of a cottage that had recently been listed. To call it ‘love at first sight’ might be an overstatement, but for some reason my attitude changed and I could immediately see our family spending time at this little cottage in the woods. Knowing how much our kids loved camping in this area when they were young, I knew they would want to spend time at this little place. We went to see it with family members and it was unanimous—everyone loved it. We became happy owners of a little cottage in the woods.
“Fern Gully” (aka Adelaide)
Even though I loved the place and expected to enjoy it, I had no idea how much I was going to NEED it. Just the time we began to spend time there things began to happen within our family.
- My daughter delivered our granddaughter 4 weeks early after an extremely difficult pregnancy.
- My father, who had been ill, passed away suddenly.
- Other things happened within the family that brought sorrow.
As all of this was happening, I found that spending time at our peaceful, little cottage enabled me to process some of my emotions. Many nights were spent sitting on the porch praying and crying while coming to terms with some of the grief and fear. Sitting on that little porch in the woods, listening to the sounds of the forest as nightfall came filled me with a sense of calm. My soul began to heal as I rocked, cried, prayed and yes, sipped wine
The “Special” Porch
This cottage has been something our entire family needed. We have had several wonderful weekends at the cottage with the kids/grandkids enjoying many things as a family.
- sitting around the fire
- enjoying dinner together
- falling asleep under the same roof and then waking up together
- seeing our first bear
- working on projects together
Nothing beats sitting around a campfire.
One of our hikes
When I first looked at the pictures of the cottage, I knew it would be a fun place for our family, but I had no idea how healing it would be. Even though I didn’t know all those things were about to happen-God did. He gave me something I needed before the need was even there. I can’t help but wonder how often God does this and we don’t even realize it. I hope I can become more and more aware of all the ways I’m cared for by my loving God.
I encourage you to never say ‘never’. You might be saying no to a special gift that God wants to give to you. It might be something you never wanted, but turn out being exactly what you need.
A Gift from Above
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Posted in My thoughts, tagged blessing, cleft, faith, flowers, garden, gift, God, grandmother, gratitude, moon flower, moonflower, surgery, thankful on September 5, 2014|
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Last evening I was given an incredible gift. It was a custom-designed treat that touched my heart and lifted my spirit after a rough day. Yesterday was an emotionally challenging day because my granddaughter had the surgery to fix her cleft palate. The anxiety leading up to the surgery and the pain of watching her suffer as she woke up and began her recovery made it a very long and tiring day. I was very thankful that the surgery went well and she was doing well. All in all, it couldn’t have gone better and I was already feeling very thankful and blessed……..
…………then came the unexpected blessing.
I walked out on my front porch late in the evening and was greeted by the sight and scent of at least 30+ moon flowers.
They grow all over the railing of my front porch and vine up to the ceiling as well. I’ve grown moon flowers for many years and have never had a night with so many blooms. If you haven’t had the pleasure of smelling a moon flower I recommend that you find a way to do so. They have one of the sweetest and unique scents of any flower I’ve ever smelled. They are also incredibly beautiful–so delicate and pure white.
I brought out a glass of wine and simply enjoyed being surrounded by the beauty and the sweet aroma of my favorite flowers.
I don’t see this gift as just good luck. I’m learning more and more to accept these moments as gifts from a God who loves me and knows how to bring joy to my soul. I’m also learning how to enjoy these gifts to their fullest. 🙂
Your ‘gift’ might not be a porch full of moon flowers, but I would encourage you to look for those special little things that occur in your life and recognize them as gifts from above.
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Posted in My thoughts, tagged blessing, Christ, christian, church, cross, crucifixion, crucify, Easter, gift, God, Good Friday, holy, ill, introspection, Jesus, lent, religion, sanctuary, Savior, sick, soul, spiritual, spirituality, sunset, vision, worship on April 19, 2014|
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Being sick is never enjoyable, but we can find ourselves with unexpected blessings during those times and Good Friday was one of those for me.
The week before Easter I developed a bit of a cough that eventually wound up developing in to a bad case of bronchitis. Not sleeping, coughing and feeling basically rotten isn’t something I wanted for this special time of year. I had hoped to attend the Good Friday service at our church. Unfortunately, I was exhausted from not sleeping and was still coughing a fair amount so I wound up sitting on my couch feeling disappointed—then I saw IT.
I was looking out our back windows at an absolutely gorgeous sunset. The sky was turning vibrant shades of pinks, blues & purples– it was truly breathtaking. My eyes fell on a clump of trees that are off in the distance and all of a sudden I saw an image in those trees that I’d never seen before….an unmistakeable shape of a cross. The longer I looked at it, the more meaningful it became. I saw it as God’s way of reminding me of the true meaning of Good Friday.
I had my husband take this picture and yes, I posted it to facebook. One comment made by a friend stated my feelings perfecty – “Way, way more meaningful than a church service”. It seems that sometimes we think that the only way we can have a spiritual experience is to sit in a church sanctuary, but we need to be reminded that God can meet us wherever we are—even being sick on a couch.
God gave us the MOST incredible gift on the cross that day, but we continue to be given loving gifts . We just need eyes and a heart that can ‘see’ them.
My Good Friday Cross
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Posted in My thoughts, tagged attitude, Christianity, compassion, forgiveness, God, grief, healing, hurt, life lessons, loss, love, maturity, pain, prayer, spirituality, strength on May 15, 2013|
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“Write your hurts in the SAND and you blessings in STONE.”
When I first read this quote I liked it, however, I changed my mind as I thought about it. I realized that it’s not really possible to do, nor is it a beneficial thing to even try to do. No matter how much we may try to deny it, we ARE a product of all our past experiences — the bad as well as the good. Each and every thing that enters our life shapes us in some way. Everyone experiences hurts as well as blessings and it is impossible to have the hurts simply disappear like words that are written in sand.
None of us can choose when or how a painful circumstance may enter our lives, but we can choose how we allow events to change us. I know it sounds cliche’ to talk about pain making you stronger, but if you spend time with people who have experienced deep wounding in their life, you will often find this to be true. Walking through painful times can allow people to find a strength they had not yet known was possible. People often come through tough experiences stronger than they went into them. This definitely isn’t something that happens in a day, a month, or even a year–it is a long and arduous process of facing the hurt, allowing yourself to grieve and then finding ways to live your life while your heart begins to heal.
Brokenness in our lives can not only make people stronger, but can make them more beautiful. A person who has come through hard times in life is often capable of deeper levels of acceptance, forgiveness, compassion and love. There is a profound and indescribable beauty in someone who has walked through a deep pain and is then able to show someone else amazing compassion. Having a friend who is truly able to understand your pain can be an incredible comfort. Being able to see that someone has survived that kind of pain can give hope to one who may be at the beginning of that journey.
If you are in deep pain right now, I hope my words don’t come across as thoughtless or cavalier. I’m not saying any of these things lightly because I, myself, am one who is still in the process of healing and trying to internalize these things. Wherever you are on your journey it is my hope and prayer that you are able to find that strength inside of you, but that you also find people you can lean on when you need it. Whatever you may be experiencing in life, I would encourage you accept the fact that it is not ‘written in sand’, whether it be joy or pain. You can’t always control what may come into your life or what may be taken away, but you can make a choice in how you allow it to change you. I, for one, hope to allow both good and bad times to shape me into someone who is stronger and more beautiful.
Some choose to allow their pain to turn into bitterness and that is a very sad thing to see. My beliefs may be different than yours, but I feel that some help from God is needed to bring true strength and beauty out of pain. In my experience, my own prayers and those of my friends have helped immensely. I am at a point in the process that I can begin to see that I am a stronger and more compassionate woman than I used to be. It is my hope and prayer that you will be able to see the strength and beauty in yourself that pain may have ‘forged’ in your life and that you will find a new or renewed faith in our Heavenly Father/Mother as a result.
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