When Ordinary becomes Extraordinary

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I love to drive the back roads of southeastern Kentucky where I live.  Every season is different. Driving along in a hurry, it is very easy to see only an ordinary piece of pavement leading from Point A to Point B.  But with a different purpose in mind than just arriving somewhere at a particular time, the ordinary road becomes and extraordinary pathway of beauty.  Wildflowers are blooming in profusion, pushing their glorious blossoms through dead leaves, sticks, and twigs that covered them through the winter.  Every inch of soil beside of the road was bursting with new life stretching up in search of sunshine.

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A Wild Profusion of Blossoms – Queen of Ordinary – April 21, 2015

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Welcome Wildflowers!  The Highlands of Kentucky are rich with natural geographic beauty, but in the spring, the profusion of wild blossoms popping up unattended and unseen is truly a delight.  It seems this year especially that everything has chosen to bloom all at once.

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I took my camera and drove across the mountain yesterday to Pine Mountain Settlement School.  I was chasing sunshine and dodging storm clouds, but the trip was definitely worth it.  The variety of wildflowers and flowering trees that were out amazed me.

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Our ordinary worlds are filled with unexpected beauty.  We only need to take the time and make the effort to look for it.

Sewing Seeds for the Future – Queen of Ordinary April 1, 2015

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Photos from Pine Mountain Settlement School – Pine Mountain, Kentucky USA

It is very easy to look at spring’s beautiful blossoms popping up and take for granted that they were there last year, are coming up again this year, and will be there next year.  Some are from seeds, some from bulbs, all carefully planned and arranged.  While we appreciate the loveliness, we may not think any deeper about how they got there.

At some point in time every flower garden, every manicured lawn, every contained patch of blossoms was planned and planted by someone.  While nature’s profusion of springtime beauties grows wild and amazing, reseeding the land and returning every year without human hands, flower gardens are not so.

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Someone had to have a preference for certain flowers to take time to plant them in a flower garden.  They may have liked the color, the length of staying power of each flower, or the season in which the flower blooms.  It takes thought, working in the dirt, tending the plants, and pulling weeds to make a flower garden a picture of beauty.  Often, the person who took such great care with their plants passes away and someone else picks up where they left off, perhaps adding other specimens from time to time. 

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Photos from Biltmore House and Gardens – North Carolina, USA

As we go through life, we are planting seeds of good or evil along our way.  Some we can tend and get to see the blossoms for ourselves.  Others will bloom when we aren’t looking.  And still others will be tended by hands we know nothing about.

The spring delights I have seen in the last few days reminded me of the parable Jesus spoke of about the sower of seeds.

Matthew 13 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Parable of the Sower

13 On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Let us sow our seeds of faith, love, and goodness as we have opportunity to do so, knowing that not all will survive, but in confidence that there will be seeds the spring up gloriously, grow, and bear fruit long after we know about it.

Revisiting Places We Love – Queen of Ordinary – March 31, 2015

IMG_5970  Special places are worth revisiting.

Pine Mountain Settlement School celebrated its Centennial birthday a couple of years ago.  I’ve been going there for almost thirty years with students, and taking visiting family to see a bit of paradise.  There is so much amazing history at the school that a person could spend years reviewing information in the archives.  Environmental education programs are top notch.  The landscape is beautiful and the buildings amazing.

I love this place in every season.  Spring and fall are my favorites.  The March blooms (Easter flowers, or daffodils as some call them) are already lined up in proud profusion, nodding their yellow heads in the spring breeze. Larkspur is beginning to bloom and tulip leaves are pushing their way up through the soil.  In another week or two, there will be so many domestic and wildflowers on campus that a new delight awaits in every direction.

I never get tired of walking across the fields, up the gravel roads, or looking out across campus from the chapel door.  William Creech’s vision for his community and his desire to education his children and build a strong and wholesome learning opportunity on his side of the mountain set all of this in motion over one hundred years ago.

It is a place I will never tire of revisiting.

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WHO Does GOD Say That You Are? – Queen of Ordinary – March 26, 2015

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• I am a child of God.

But to all who have received him–those who believe in his name–he has given the right to become God’s children … I am a branch of the true vine, and a conduit of Christ’s life.

I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me–and I in him–bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. I am a friend of Jesus.

I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father I have been justified and redeemed.  But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus .  My old self was crucified with Christ, and I am no longer a slave to sin.

• As a child of God, I am a fellow heir with Christ.  And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ)–if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him .

 I am a new creature in Christ.  if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away–look, what is new has come.

 I am no longer a slave, but a child and an heir.

I have been set free in Christ.

New Friends Add Joy to Life – Queen of Ordinary March 23, 2015

IMG_0089   To be blessed with friends is a blessing indeed!

People come and people go through the doors of our lives.  When we first meet a new person, we really have no idea how long they will choose to stay in our lives or how long we will let them.  The ones who become friends have a connection within us and beyond us.  The deposits they make in our life and we in theirs is far more significant than a mere acquaintance.

When I traveled to Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales last fall with Sloan Travel Co., I came home with the borders of my heart enlarged because of all the wondrous things I had experienced, but also because of the people with whom I had shared the journey.

Our tour guide, Coty Sloan, came to visit my home town this week-end and meet a few people who had expressed an interest in travel to Ireland.  Although Coty is a world traveler, his upcoming May tour and another tour this fall are to Ireland.

It was a joy to share my hometown and the mountains I love so dearly with the person who has shown me a chunk of the world I had only dreamed about prior to the trip.  Most importantly, it is a joy to know that God has ordered our steps not only for the sake of travel, but definitely for the sake of friendship.  I hope to experience the wonder of travel with one of Coty’s tours again in the future, but I will always cherish the blessing of his friendship.

The Gift of Memory

I seldom reblog, but found this beautiful and encouraging.

From the Inside Out

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“There it is, Mom, “ Steve remarked, as he pointed to a little white house in the middle of a city block. “That’s where we lived when I was growing up.”

“Oh, yes,” she replied. But did Mom really remember?

We were on an excursion through Columbus, Ohio, taking Steve’s mother past the landmarks of her life. Alzheimer’s disease had already stolen away much of her vibrancy and warmth, and, of course, her memory.

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Steve drove by West High School and continued his commentary. “That’s where we all went to school, you, Dad, Karen, and me. You were the very first homecoming queen.  How about that?  No wonder Dad asked you out.”

She murmured assent to Steve’s comments, but added nothing of her own.

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We drove past the brick ranch they built out in the country in 1966. Horses used to reside beyond the back fence. Just…

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Redbirds in the Snow – Queen of Ordinary – February 19, 2015

IMG_4228  Redbirds in the snow are amazing.

Like a drop of blood on a snowy background they boast of life and survival under harsh conditions.  Bold.  Beautiful. The turn of the head, the flash of wings and they are gone.  God’s winged creation.

I’ve spent years trying to get photos of  redbirds that I could be proud of.   During the most recent snow, I got several amazing photos out of about 500.  It was worth the effort.

Patience paid off.

“ONE SHADE OF WHITE” – Feb 12

I’ve heard a lot of discussion about this book and am horrified at the open door in our society to normalize pornography and sexual cruelty in relationships of married and unmarried people. The gift that God gave is being grossly perverted by the enemy of all that is good and decent. You don’t have to touch fire to know that it has destructive power if you’ve ever watched a fire consume an object. Surely it is not necessary to dive into sexually exploitive behavior to know that it is harmful. I haven’t seen or read this and am not even enticed to want to hear more than I’ve already heard on TV, radio, and internet.

A DEVOTED LIFE

“And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.  For from within, out of the heart of man, comes evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”  Mark 7:20

50ShadesofGreyCoverArtI appeal to you brothers and sisters in Christ, do not watch the movie Fifty Shades of Grey. If you do not know anything about the book and movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, you may count yourself blessed.  The book, has sold more than 100 million copies and the movie adaptation will be released on Valentine’s Day.  I have not read the book and I have no plans to watch the movie.  My appeal to stay away from this latest Hollywood offering is based on the same rationale as staying away from pornography. There are many good…

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