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Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

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.

 

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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.)

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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.

 

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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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Never Say “Never”

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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.

 

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“Fern Gully” (aka Adelaide)

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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

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The “Special” Porch

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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
  • hiking
  • canoeing
  • etc……

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Nothing beats sitting around a campfire.

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One of our hikes

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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.

 

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A Gift from Above

 

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Music has always had a profound effect on me. Certain songs make me want to get up and dance, white other songs are sure to bring me to tears. Music seems to have the ability to reach inside of me and stir my deepest emotions. Depending on what I’m listening to it can be invigorating or calming, healing or even sometimes painful. I’ve often said that music is the “key to my soul”.

 

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In the past few years piano music is the one type of music that can touch me in especially profound ways. At times when I have found myself in a low place it has been the only kind of music that I could ‘feel’ in my soul. It has allowed me to tap into emotions that I had pushed down and tried to ignore. The music has given me an avenue to work through some of those feelings.  It has provided a real sense of peace and of healing at times I needed it the most.

 

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One song in particular can move me like no other—Crisofori’s Dream by David Lanz. The minute that song begins to play my heart comes alive. That song takes me through a myriad of emotions. It begins with a very sad feeling, but there are moments of joy as well. There are several ups and downs during the course of the song and my heart soars and falls along with those changes. One section always makes me feel optimistic and give me a sense that things will be ‘ok’. For me the song always ends with a feeling of peace. The last part of the song is the sad melody, but it somehow gives me a sense of acceptance and contentment.

 

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I’ve listened to that song countless times, but I am now able to feel it in a new way – playing it myself.  I played piano when I was younger, but had given away my piano some years ago. I recently made the decision to play again and bought a beautiful piano. Of course, the first song I learned to play was Cristofori’s Dream. The minute I began to play the opening notes I felt such a sense of ………. I don’t even know what word to use…contentment, peace, passion, healing, excitement, joy and even grief. I knew that I would be spending a great deal of time at my piano.

 

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As I worked on learning the entire song I didn’t really feel the usual emotions due to concentrating so hard on getting notes and inflections right, but as I conquered more and more of the music, I began to experience it in an emotional way. One evening I was playing and at one section I found myself beginning to weep.  Now as I play it, I am able to enjoy it and ‘feel’ the music.

 

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I’ve since learned several more beautiful and moving songs, but this one will always have a special place in my heart. When I just want to sit down and ‘feel’ the music this will most likely be the song I play.

If you want to ‘experience’ this song, here is a link to it being played by David Lanz. Cristofori’s Dream

 

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An evening at my piano with a glass of wine…….wonderful!

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Playing Cristofori’s Dream

***I was listening to Pandora as I wrote this and just as I was typing the last sentence, guess what song began to play………and yes, it still brings me to tears.  

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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.

 

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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.

 

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My Good Friday Cross

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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I enjoy listening to music as I design and create my jewelry.  This past week I’ve been working on Catholic Rosaries and Anglican Prayer Beads.  These designs are different than the rest of my pieces due to the fact that they are not an adornment, but something that has a very deep and spiritual purpose—aiding people in their prayers.  I consider it an honor to be able to make something that may help a person spend time in prayer and I try to have a certain mindset as I make them.  Music can help keep my focus on the spiritual side of things as I go through the process of designing and then creating each piece.

Several songs touched me in a special way as I listened to songs that were focused on God and prayer.  The first was Your Hands by JJ Heller.  I liked the fact that it reminds me that some prayers go unanswered, but even then I am still in God’s hands.   This is a hard concept to understand and totally accept, but I continue to pray for the faith to believe those words.

Another song that hit me was Need You Now by Plumb.  Often we don’t find ourselves on our knees in prayer unless we are in some state of need and this song puts those thoughts and feelings to music.  As with the other song, this one also refers to unanswered prayer.  I can’t even begin to understand or explain why God chooses to answer some prayers and not others, but I just try to do what the one line in this song, “I’m trying to hear that still, small voice.”  Songs like this help to remind me of this.

I, personally use the Anglican Prayer Beads to aid me in my prayers, and even sometimes sleep with them.  When I awake in the middle of the night they remind me to pray instead of worrying or allowing my thoughts to get carried away.

It is my hope that anyone who winds up with prayer beads that I make will find them a very helpful tool in their prayer life.  A lot of work goes in to each set and I enjoy making them in a different way than the rest of my collection.

Here are a few of the prayer beads that came from my hands this past week.  Hopefully they will wind up in the hands of someone who needs them.

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Blue Sky Jasper in Antique Copper (click on picture to view details)

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Classic Pearls (click on picture to view details)

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Midnight Blue Pearls with Silver Cross (click on picture to view details)

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Red Picture Jasper (click on picture to view details)

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