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 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, 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 bible, cathedral, christian, God, holy, lent, music, soul, stained glass, washington on March 4, 2013|
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As I have been focusing on spiritual things during this season of Lent, a trip to the National Cathedral in Washington did just that – it drew my eyes and heart heavenward. If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit, I would highly recommend it. This Cathedral is the 6th largest in the world and has 231 stained glass windows. You can look at pictures, but there is something that can only be experienced by walking through the doors.
Rowan LeCompte, the cathedral’s foremost stained glass artist, compares stained glass to music. ” Both are emotional and instinctively perceived. Like music, stained glass can stimulate the imagination, it can lift the heart, it can enchant.” I found this to be true. Music has the ability to touch my soul and I discovered that stained glass also moves me in indescribable ways. The beauty of these windows as well as the architecture were awe inspiring and as I walked around I found myself in tears several times from the feelings that overwhelmed me.
The amazing beauty of the stained glass, as well as the of the incredible architecture of building itself, caused me to have the distinct feeling that I was in the presence of something Holy. The windows all have unique and specific meanings, some Biblical and some historical. Seeing Jesus, Mary, other well-known Biblical figures depicted in these scenes reached out and grabbed my heart, causing me to simply stop and stare with tears running down my cheeks .
The only thing I would do differently if I were to go again (and will be sure to do as I tour other cathedrals) is to have my ear buds with me to be able to listen to the music that ‘goes with’ the experience. Unfortunately others were touring the building and even though my heart ‘heard’ music, my ears were distracted by the noises around me. I can only imagine what would happen if/when I am in a Holy place like this and am listening to music that touches my soul in that same deeply moving way.
To get a sense of what I ‘felt’, click on the link below and listen to the music as you look at the images of the cathedrals in the video. It can’t do justice to actually being there, but if this is the kind of thing that can touch your soul, it will be a wonderful experience. I have been fortunate to have a facebook friend who has posted various Youtube videos during this Lenten season and they have been special gifts to me. This video is one that he posted.
Click HERE to listen to Allegri Miserere
If this isn’t what moves your soul, I would encourage you to look until you find what does—-it can be an amazing and overwhelming experience.
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Posted in My thoughts, tagged butterfly, emotion, God, heavenly mother, Holy Spirit, lent, pray, quiet whispers, religion, soul, spirituality, weakness on February 14, 2013|
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As I enter this season of Lent, I go in to it with a different perspective than at any other time in my life — much more aware of my need for God. In years past I made half-hearted attempts at giving something up for Lent, but I never truly opened my soul for God to fill the empty place. It is my hope that this year will be different.
I’ve been on a journey for the last several years and have had my soul opened up in ways I didn’t know were possible. There have been times of extreme joy as well as overwhelming sorrow. I’ve felt intense love, but also deep loneliness. I’ve found areas of strength inside of myself, but have also discovered places of weakness that have literally brought me to my knees. I wish I could say that I listened to the voice of the Holy Spirit during this time, but I often chose to shut my ears to those quiet whispers.
With the greater awareness of my need, it is my desire to do all that I am able over the next 40 days in order to begin to hear AND listen to those whispers. The Bible says that God works through our weaknesses. Being more aware of my weak areas, I hope and pray that is true and that God can use those things that have been made so evident to me.
The symbol of the butterfly is very special to me. As I listen to the song “His Hands” by JJ Heller, I truly feel like a fragile butterfly and long to feel the peace of knowing that I’m being held gently in the hands of the one who created the universe. It is my prayer that as you listen to the words of this song, that you too will feel a sense of being gently held by our Heavenly Mother during this Lenten season.
Click HERE to listen to “His Hands”
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Posted in My thoughts, tagged beauty, emotions, feelings, God, grief, healing, love, pain, sacred, sadness, soul, tear, teardrop on December 12, 2012|
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In my section ‘a little about me’ I’ve described myself as a woman who feels things deeply and then tries to find ways to express those feelings—-at times through my jewelry. Being a person who feels things deeply can be a blessing as well as a hardship. Feeling the extreme joys in life can be one of the sweetest experiences in life, but feeling deep sadness is one of the hardest. The fact is that you can’t feel one without the other. By opening your soul with complete abandon to love, joy and life your heart becomes immediately open to the more painful emotions of life. I am a person who is brought to tears easily and at times I find myself wishing I could be a bit less ‘prolific’ in that way, but in many ways I’m extremely thankful that I am that kind of person. I recently found this quote and it touched my soul and made me even more thankful for my ‘gift’ of tears.
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the make of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…..and unspeakable love. ”
There is something cleansing in tears. They are caused by deep emotions that can not be contained, but find their way out of your soul in the form of beautiful teardrops. I’ve always appreciated the unique beauty of teardrop pearls, gems and beads. They have such a feeling of warmth and beauty to them and it suddenly dawned on me that they are a perfect symbol for human tears. Tears are warm and if you really think about it, they are often beautiful. Granted, we may not consider ourselves ‘beautiful’ with splotchy faces and swollen eyes from crying, but the tears that form in our hearts, flow from our eyes and gently slide down our cheeks are packed full of whatever is in our souls and that can be a truly beautiful thing.
The emotions behind tears can be very complex. They are often caused by several different emotions at one time. One kind of tear in particular has a unique beauty to it—the tear that is brought about by joy and pain at the same time. There is something exquisitely beautiful about being able to cry tears of joy about something that is also causing pain as well. It is a true blessing to be able to feel inexpressible joy for someone’s good fortune even though that same good fortune causes pain in your own heart. I think that is the kind of tears that the quote above is referring to. Those tears are ‘messengers of overwhelming grief…..and unspeakable love’.
I, for one, am thankful for the gift of being able to shed those kinds of teardrops and I am reminded of a passage from the Bible…Psalm 56:8.
You have kept record
of my days of wandering.
You have stored my tears
in your bottle
and counted each of them.
I am truly beginning to believe that God does see each and every tear we cry and when those tears are the result of love, especially a love that He/She has placed in our hearts………..I like to think those are kept in an especially beautiful bottle. Those tears are a visible sign of true love. Tears that are the result of that kind of inexplicable love are what I see as ‘treasured teardrops’.
I have a feeling that you may be seeing more teardrops worked in to my designs in the weeks and months to come and you will know that they are in some small way a tangible expression of my deep feelings and are visible symbols of my ‘treasured teardrops’.
I share this with the hope that for any of you who find tears streaming down your cheeks will somehow be able to see some small amount of beauty in them………..even midst the pain that may be causing them.
Teardrop Designs by Brenda Elaine
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