I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles…

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Lawrence Welk had nothing on us!

From my childhood, my son’s childhood, and now my grandchildren – we have all loved blowing bubbles with soap and magic wand.  The few seconds a bubble lasts and its journey on the wind give an unreasonable amount of joy.

Taking time to share such simple things with a child and passing along that pleasure are well worth the effort.  My grandson used to say, “Let’s make magic, Gran!”  I always knew what he was talking about.

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Children Say the Sweetest Things – Queen of Ordinary – December 24, 2014

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Children process information with such a sweet innocence, it’s hard to guess what they are going to do or say next.  I have an eighteen month old granddaughter and a three year old grandson.  They are both in awe of the Christmas season, Santa, and Elf on the Shelf (which they have named Jinx).  They are in awe of the Christmas season and all that it entails.  The Grinch, Polar Express, Rudolph, and all the rest are flooding into their little brains.  I can’t help be concerned about the true meaning of Christmas getting crowded out.

A few days ago I was tucking my grandson in and he got my face in both hands and said, “Gran, are you an angel?”  What a notion!  “No, I’m not an angel, but God is my really good friend, and I am His friend.:  This seemed to satisfy him very well.  He is quite “friend” conscious right now.

I told him we could talk to God any time we wanted and God would always hear our prayers.  It was quite an amazing thing to him.  He wanted to pray… three times.  He told God about all of the Christmas festivities at school, his friends, and so on.  After the third time he said, “Gran, I don’t think He’s listening.  I’m talking to Him, but he isn’t talking to me.  I can’t hear Him.”

I assured Him that most of the time God listens and lets us say what is in our heart to Him, but when He has something special to tell us, we will hear Him when He speaks to us.

Isn’t that like an adult?  We talk and talk and talk to God, but the instant we are finished, if we don’t get an immediate response, we think He isn’t listening.

The next night we had a party to attend at his mother’s family.  There were lots of people I didn’t know and most I had only met briefly over the years.  My grandson walked up in the middle of the chatter and said, “GRAN!”  Everyone got silent because he looked like he had something very important to say.  “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!” he said with all sincerity.  I scooped him up in hugs and kisses.  Never mind who else was there.

He was seeing me with his heart and THAT was the best Christmas present I could have ever hoped for from him.

In that same way, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to dwell among men, to speak the truth of God, and to see men’s hearts with love.  HE is the best gift the world will ever know, and we can only see Him, truly see Him, with our hearts.

2008_1108WB2Wedding0229 Glory to God in the highest, Peace on Earth, good will to men!

Merry Christmas to all!

Deck the Halls – Queen of Ordinary – December 15, 2014

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I did not put a tree up this year for a number of reasons, but I truly love Christmas decorations.  Everyone has such great individual styles.  It is a holiday where creative expression is always cheerful and reflects the decorator’s personality.

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From the traditional, antique, sports teams, and even modernistic, I love seeing how people deck their halls. Fa la la la la… la la la la!

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Exoskeletons – Are You Wearing One? – Queen of Ordinary – dec. 8, 2104

IMG_1581  Are you wearing an exoskeleton?

I was sitting in church yesterday and had a momentary vision of people with insect shells on their back and chest over top of their clothes with a regular little human heads, arms, and legs.  It was a crazy image until I realized that so many of us are wearing an exoskeleton, trying to protect ourselves from the hurtful things other people say and do to us in life.  There is little protection in life from an exoskeleton.  It doesn’t work in insects and it doesn’t work for us when a big enough predator comes along.

The photo above is from a locust, who shed its exoskeleton on my front porch.   It is the perfect image of the locust, but such a thin and flimsy thing.  If you’ve ever walked through the woods after a locust outbreak, their shed exoskeletons will be all over the ground and sound like walking on potato chips as they break apart beneath your feet.

IMG_1881 (2)  Only an insect needs and exoskeleton.

We are to put on the whole armor of God.

Our human skin is very vulnerable as well as our human hearts.  We are emotionally vulnerable.  Our hearts are easily wounded and usually wounded most by those closest to us.  But the Bible offers a covering that will protect us and help us deflect the fiery darts of the enemy.

Ephesians 6:11-18King James Version (KJV)

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Growing Old Together is a Blessing Not All Get to Enjoy – Queen of Ordinary – December 5, 2014

2008_1108WB2Wedding0344  Not everyone has the joy of growing old with their love.

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!” – Robert Browning

One of the sweetest things I saw on my trip to Scotland was the way elderly couples walked down the street holding hands.  My mom and dad still do that at age 83 and 81.  I love seeing elderly couples who are still in love.

Some don’t get to experience this because of singleness, widowhood, or divorce.  I’ve been single for a very long time.  I’ve been busy in my single years, but there is part of me that still longs for God to send a precious man into my life to be my friend, my companion, my love and let us grow old together side by side.

Billy Graham and his wife have been a good example of growing old together.  This is what he says about aging.  “When granted many years of life, growing old in age is natural, but growing old with grace is a choice. Growing older with grace is possible for all who will set their hearts and minds on the Giver of grace, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

If you are growing old with someone you love, please know that you are truly blessed.

Facing a Fear of Heights at Snowden, Wales – Queen of Ordinary – December 1, 2014

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There are some things that frighten me, but fear of heights is probably at the top of the list.  These photos were taken on top of Snowden – the tallest mountain in Wales.  We rode a train up, but still had a ways to walk and up a lot of stairs to reach the absolute summit.  As close as I was to the top, I was afraid to make those last 10 – 20 stone stairs, but our travel guide and my travel companions came back for me and I went to the top of the top with them.  I was as tense as a mouse trap, but once I came back down from the last flight of stairs, I was awfully glad I had done it and swallowed my fear.

In my heart I knew that God doesn’t want us to be prisoners of our fears.  I could have just as easily “set it out,” but I was too stubborn to let my fears overcome my faith in God’s ability to help me.

Another place where I had to fight through the fear was the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge which seemed like at least 100 feet above the cliffs and surging ocean below.  I wrote about that experience in a previous post.

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The William Wallace Monument was another challenge with over 250 spiral stairs straight up and then the same coming back down.  The rooftop tour of Penrhyn Castle also required a long climb up spiral stairs to the rooftop and then a view from the top of the castle.

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How did I find the courage to do these terrifying things?  I didn’t want to miss out on any part of our journey or fail to enjoy what the whole group experienced.

My fear of heights didn’t vanish, but I didn’t let that fear paralyze me into not doing what I wanted to do.  I kept quoting a bible verse to myself at the highest points, Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Wood Carvings at St. John’s Cathedral – Oban, Scotland – Queen of Ordinary – November 23, 2014

DSCN6488  St. John’s Cathedral – Oban, Scotland

St. John’s Cathedral was a beautiful church we visited in Oban, Scotland.  I was struck by the many beautiful carvings at the ends of pews, on seats, on podiums and throughout the church.

How do you know when artistry is at work?  Take something practical and functional, then add incredible detail that doesn’t improve the practicality of the thing, but makes it more aesthetically pleasing and you will see artistry at work through the hands of the one who created it.  Below are some carvings on pews and woodwork we found in this church in Oban, Scotland.

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The intricate carvings in the woodwork were amazing.  They were not necessary by any means, but certainly added beauty, and allowed the artists creative expression in their work.  It is as if the person carving the wood turned each opportunity into a thing of beauty and gave it as an offering unto God.

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Our lives are like these pieces of wood when they were still only lumber.  We can live them out of necessity.  We can exist from day to day and get done what must be done, plain and simple.  Or we can choose to take care of the intricate details of living, and let the Master designer create His images in us to be works of beauty that reflect His attention to detail and His delight in us through the process.  If we all started as a piece of timber side by side, each one of us would turn out differently in the hands of the artist.  I am reminded of a poem I heard many years ago that expresses one person’s influence on another person’s life

I Love You by Roy Croft

I love you, not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you, not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you, for the part of me that you bring out. I love you, for putting your hand into my heaped-up heart, and passing over all the foolish, weak things that you can’t help dimly seeing there, and for drawing out, into the light, all the beautiful belongings that no one else had looked quite far enough to find. I love you, because you are helping me to make of the lumber of my life, not a tavern, but a temple. Out of the works of my every day, not a reproach, but a song. I love you, because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me good, and more than any fate could have done to make me happy. You have done it without a touch, without a word, without a sign. You have done it by being yourself. Perhaps that is what being a friend means, after all.

Neist Point Lighthouse, Scotland – Queen of Ordinary – November 20, 2014

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I borrowed the lighthouse image of Neist Point because I wasn’t able to make the hike all the way out to the point due to knee issues.  While our group made the lengthy trek, I enjoyed photographing the shore line, sheep, and an incredible ocean view.

I’ve always wanted to do a lighthouse tour of the New England Coast.  It was very frustrating to be so close to a lighthouse and not be able to see it.  However, sometimes common sense should prevail, even when we want to do otherwise.  Down about 100 metal stairs in a howling  wind, rain threatening on the horizon, and at least a mile hike out to the point, I chose to stay behind.

I still had a lovely day.  Give me my camera and turn me loose.  I’ll never be bored.  I followed the sheep paths to the top of the cliffs, walked along a path recently featured in  a Keanu Reeves film, listened foreigners talk about “crazy Americans,” undetected, and had a great time walking and talking with God.

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When I was a student at the Univeristy of the Cumberlands (then Cumberland College), I had a group of friends that formed a gospel group.  They called themselves Young Witness. They were young, extremely handsome, dedicated Christians who loved the Lord back then and I’m happy to say that they are honorable, godly men all of these years later. One of their most requested songs was “I Thank God for the Lighthouse.”

The Lighthouse
By Ronnie Hinson
(c) 1971

There’s a lighthouse on the hillside
That overlooks life’s sea.
When I’m tossed it sends out a light,
Tis a light that I might see.
And the light that shines in darkness now
Will safely lead us o’er.
If it wasn’t for the lighthouse,
My ship would be no more.

And I thank God for the lighthouse,
I owe my life to Him.
For Jesus is the lighthouse
And from the rocks of sin;
He has shone a light around me
That I could clearly see,
If it wasn’t for the lighthouse
Tell me where would this ship be.

Everybody that lives around us
Says tear that lighthouse down.
The big ships don’t sail this way anymore,
There’s no use of it standing around.
Then my mind goes back to that stormy night,
When just in time I saw the light;
Yes the light from that old lighthouse
That stands up there on the hill.

And I thank God for the lighthouse,
I owe my life to Him.
For Jesus is the lighthouse
And from the rocks of sin;
He has shone a light around me
That I could clearly see,
If it wasn’t for the lighthouse
Tell me where would this ship be.

If it wasn’t for the lighthouse,
Tell me, where would this ship be?

Who Believes in The Loch Ness Monster? – Queen of Ordinary – November 19, 2014

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This is a funny photoshopped picture created by Coty Sloan.  We were having a bit of fun teasing each other about the possibility of seeing Nessie while we were at standing on the shore of Loch Ness and he created this photo for a laugh.

Opinions have always been divided about whether there is such a thing as the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, or mermaids.  When I was a child, my best friend, Diane Paulk, and I were always working up our imaginations about something.  We had BIG imaginations.

As an adult, I still have an imagination that runs on high throttle, but I believe there have been enough eye witness accounts to take them seriously about Nessie, Big Foot, and Megalodon Shark.  I just don’t think that many people are deliberate liars.  They know that the very moment they tell their tale, they are subjecting themselves to ridicule and scoffers. They must be seeing something they can’t explain.

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Our Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife publicly says there are no black panthers in Kentucky, but I have seen them myself and have heard countless stories from others who have been eye witnesses.  I haven’t seen Mammoth Caves either, but enough other people whom I believe have seen them to make me know they are real.

So, is there a Loch Ness Monster?  People have been trying to figure that question out for decades.  Yet scientific discoveries are unveiling new species all the time.  The most uncharted species live in the depth of the oceans.  Is it possible that some prehistoric life form has survived through the centuries and one such creature has managed to survive in Loch Ness?  I don’t know.  Maybe yes and maybe no.

My friend, Sarah Boggs, requested one thing from my big trip to the UK.  She wanted a photo of Loch Ness and a stone.  We first saw the Loch in the evening light from the roadway across a field, circling around a bend.  I never realized it was such a huge inland body of water.  It was a beautiful place to take a photo for her.

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I’ve spent a lifetime wishing I could see Nessie, if she really exists.  Though we didn’t get a glimpse of anything out of the ordinary this day, I knew I was as close to seeing the Loch Ness Monster as I probably ever would be in my life time.  I stuck my shoes in the water and gathered a few pebbles from the beach for Sarah and Darla, who had asked for them.  I was happy just to have been there and seen a place filled with so many possibilities.

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As mortal men/women, do we really think we know all of what God has created in the depth of the oceans, in the heavens, or in galaxies beyond?  Who can unravel the creative beauty, the diversity of God’s infinite expression, or the countless secrets unknown to man that still reside in the depths of the heart of God?  How foolish are we to try to define an infinite God with our finite minds and limited knowledge.

Genesis 1:21 – “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly,”

Psalm 104:25 – “There is the sea, great and broad, In which are swarms without number, Animals both small and great.”

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Facing the Fear of Heights and More – Queen of Ordinary November 16, 2014

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An Irish View of the Ocean

On this day in Ireland we were heading to Slieve League along the Sky Road and to walk across the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge.  We took a wrong road somewhere, but just look what we found by mistake!

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I don’t know who took the time to write “I love you” with the rocks at the bottom of the cliffs, just beyond the ocean’s reach, but I’m so glad they did.   When I saw it, it felt like it was a message from God to us on our journey.  We thought we had made a wrong turn, but perhaps it was just because God wanted to share this unscheduled beautiful view with us.

We did make it on to our adventure at Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge.  It was one of the toughest things I made myself do on our whole trip.  I have a deep rooted fear of heights.  Just looking at photos of things at a great height make my liver quiver!  Looking over the edge of something, even if I’m behind a railing, makes me woozy.  But I made myself take the long hike out to the rope bridge stretched between two cliffs about 100 feet above the ocean surging against the rocks below, and forced myself to face my fears and walk across anyhow.

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For someone as afraid of heights as I am, it’s a miracle that I ever crossed the bridge in the first place.  I kept saying to myself, “Help, me Lord…” and “Look at her back, and don’t look down,” about the person in front of me from our group.  But on the way back, there had been children jumping up and down to make the bridge sway and bounce, so the fear was doubled.  I had a death grip on the ropes on both sides and was only able to make my feet move about six inches at a time.  I was too afraid to be embarrassed about holding up the people behind me!  I truly thought I had made a mistake by crossing over in the first place.

Our tour guide, Coty Sloan, had crossed way in front of us and positioned himself on a cliff overlooking the bridge to get a group photo of us crossing together.  It surely didn’t happen.  Karen went on ahead of me and left me far behind with blank space, bride, and ocean staring up at me.  Sandy was behind me waving at Coty, and I was too terrified to look anywhere besides at the boards in front of me.

IMG_6606 Coty is the speck on this cliff facing us and no good photo for his trouble!

Sometimes we question the path that we are on and wonder if we are on the wrong one.  At times fear may paralyze us when the gulf between where we are and where we need to be is so great.  But, if we ask Him to go with us, God is there every step of the way across that divide and to the safe place we are heading.

I didn’t think I was going to make it back across that bridge without fainting, but I kept reminding myself of Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.”