Friday, April 18, 2014

Day by Day - and Good Friday

“Day by Day”
Richard Chichester

Thanks be to thee,
Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits
which thou hast won for us,
for all the pains and insults
which thou hast borne for us.
O most merciful Redeemer,
Friend and Brother,
may we know thee more clearly,
love thee more dearly,
and follow thee more nearly,
day by day.

It  is  Good  Friday  today,  when  we  remember  what  Jesus  did  for  us  on  the  cross.  Please  take  a  few  extra  moments  with me  to  reflect  on  these  classic  masterpieces  and  poems,  as  well  as  my  essay  on  the   cross: Holy Week: Good Friday

I also invite you to visit my Holy Week and Easter page.
Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekend Gratitude: Easter Egg Hunt, Yard Sales, Homeless Outreach

Dear friends,

What a busy weekend!  I guess you could say it started on Friday, but you can read about that here: Mom's Chauffeur and Courier Service (A Little Encouragement)

On Saturday morning, I took my two youngest daughters to the annual Easter egg hunt celebration in Baldwin Park.  

Our congregation, Lake Baldwin Church, always has a snow cone booth and inflatable slide there as a way to get to know people in the community.  

Snow cone booth

Educational stuff from the yard sales
We decided not to stay long after the egg hunt part of it, and instead spent the time visiting five different yard/rummage sales on the way home.  At one sale, the lady said we could take anything we could fit in a grocery bag for 2 bucks.  We took her up on it, especially with books and stuff for my two little grandsons, craft supplies for the homeless outreach, even some little porcelain bunnies to add to my springtime village.  At other sales, we found silk flowers to use for table decorations for the outreach.  I was quite happy by the time we got home, but my feet weren't.  I had a bunch of school prep to do on Saturday afternoon and evening, too.

The big event on Sunday was the monthly homeless outreach.  My daughter who leads the ministry wasn't there because she is 8 months pregnant and couldn't stand outside in the heat that long.  However, three of of my other younger kids (ages 8, 13, and 14)
came with me to serve.  It is such a joy to have them participate! This is a highlight of each month for me. We had several dozen folks come for a spaghetti dinner (a ton of food donated from another ministry's event!), and we passed out a bunch of toiletry "love bags", Gospel of John booklets, and information sheets on where to go or call for help in that vicinity.   Some of the people who come live in the nearby woods. One of the men was looking for a sleeping bag, but unfortunately we didn't have any available yesterday since we gave them all out when it was colder.
One of the ladies set up a craft table where kids could make little Easter gardens.  I love her heart to serve the children each month!  Most of them live in the motel where we hold the outreach, and I know it can't be easy to be crammed into a small room with a whole family for weeks on end.  Here are two more links to my posts about homeless outreach...
There was a lot more going on during the weekend, but that's the big stuff, anyway.  I still have a lot to do on my "work from home" day today, but some of it is just going to have to wait since my feet hurt more than ever now.

Abigail, Virginia (that's me!),
and Molly (our pastor's wife)
at the Baldwin Park Easter shindig
The big thing I'm looking forward to tonight is a going away party for my friend Abigail, who is moving to Japan with her husband and two sons this month.  Boo hoo that she is leaving, though!  I've only known her less than a year, but I instantly knew she was a kindred spirit and that has proved to be so true.  I love the ladies in our Monday night Bible study, and I'm so glad I started going a couple of months ago.  I'll have to go grocery shopping in a little bit, because I signed up to bring a main dish tonight!  

Other recent links for you?  Sure!  I've been on a roll with some quick posts the past few days...

Have a terrific week!  Take a peek at my Holy Week and Easter link page for some great ideas and inspiration.

And oh!  I can't leave you without this hilarious video of a string quartet. These four ladies are amazingly talented! This is a must see!  I can't seem to imbed the video, but here's the link: Salut Salon "Wettstreit zu viert"

Grace and peace, 
Virginia Knowles

Monday, April 7, 2014

Weekend Gratitude: A Sunday Stroll at Mead Garden

Early evening glow at Mead Botanical Garden,
which we hadn't visited in nearly 30 years.
Free admission, open from dawn to dusk 
in suburban Winter Park.
They are letting it go more natural than cultivated.
I love the variety of reflections, textures, and colors.
Some of the plants I had never seen before.
Stroll along with me!
~~ Virginia

As water reflects the face,
so one’s life 
reflects the heart.
Proverbs 27:19

Three kinds of white blooms...

Remains of an abandoned
section of boardwalk

Daddy and daughter


Same trumpet flower from the side

Other botanical garden posts:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Celebrating National Poetry Month!

So, April is National Poetry Month!  Poetry is such a part of me.  I love to read it, write it, and teach it.   Yes, I'm all in here for the poetry celebration.  

This month on this blog, I'd like to highlight poetry in weekly posts. Today, I'm giving you a poem I wrote about being a poet, a poem by John Leax on writing, and links to some of the poems by other people already on my blogs. Other weeks this month I might repost one of my original poems or one of my articles on teaching poetry.  I may even write a new one!

Meanwhile, here we go with what I've got for you this week.

"In the Poet's Realm"
by Virginia Knowles, 2011

In the poet’s realm today, almost
Lingering on the threshold yet unsure of my welcome
Meter and rhyme still bend not, bow not before my pen
I am not one who writes or thinks or lives in tidy rows
Yet I am as a stranger in a foreign land
Thirsting to hear my native tongue in a different voice
My ears quicken; in relief, I spurtle a reply
A cry to be heard and understood
In the communion of poets
In the creative conversation

For I have no wish to join 
   the company of sharp-tongued prophets
The poets are my kindred, at least in my aspirations
Yet perhaps poets are prophets, too, of sorts
With gentle images of beauty or haunting tales of woe
Piercing the heart
Softening the soul
Lifting each to a deeper Communion and
A creative conversation with the Creator Himself
Who hears and understands
No matter how skilled the tongue or pen.

"What I Have Found"
by John R. Leax
from his book Grace is Where I Live
This place that claims my midlife
labor is not an Eden I have made.
It is a place of trial.
My hope resides in yielding
to what calls me still to stay.
No charming serpent curls
about my arm and whispers
in my ear.  But I am tempted
nonetheless.  Like Homer
I take the stories of my people,
I give them shape, and hand
them down.  What I pass on
is truth made new--half-truth
spun through kind invention.
The world I make is finer
than the world I know.  How else
contain the bitterness, the pain,
the grief?  I have not lied.
I say my words; I seek
the wholeness of the world.
Like Homer I am blind.
I see what is not here.
I see this place by word
and grace a new creation.
That word is what I've found.
That grace is where I live.

Links to several poems already on my blogs...

Peace and poetry,
Virginia Knowles

P.S. The hibiscus photo is from the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival last month. Same flower, edited for neon and heat map different effects.  Just a different way of seeing!  Could we call it "phoetry"?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lift Up Your Head and Laugh

“Lift up your head and laugh!”
He spoke as a prophet.
But what did he know those thirty odd years ago?
What did he know of my future?
I was still so young then
With only a taste of raw and broken
And visions of a whole life open before me
Certainly not knowing quite what to expect
But with dreams and plans nonetheless:
Happily ever after with maybe 
A few little bumps along the way…
Why not?  And why not laugh?
Life could be, would be, one grand adventure.

It’s been a rather curious life indeed
This grand adventure of mine.
Now I shake my head and laugh
At myself, at how I clung to so much
That prickled and burned and then gave way.
Yet mysteries and marvels
Came to me when least expected
Laughter mixed with tears and sighs
And more than a few bumps along the way
So much good and so much grief mingled in
So much for dreams and plans!
A worthwhile journey still,
Just not how I thought it would be.

It’s not just me, I know
I watch the world walking by
And I try to understand, wonder
Where it is going: out and about
And home again, home again
A million silent stories walking by
A million mingling stories of mourning and mirth.

I have lived long and learned much
And I find myself speaking to the young ones
With their whole lives open before them
The words of the timeless sage 
Thirty hundred years ago:
“There is a time for everything…
A time to weep and a time to laugh.”
They have seen me weep, and I will weep again.
But for now, I will lift up my head and laugh.
In this poem, I was  thinking back to my college days when I was 20. I was going to a teeny tiny little church then (only a few families and I), and it was the pastor who spoke these "words" (as the charismatics call them) over me and fueled my youthful idealism. :-)  That summer, I flew "up home" for a family reunion, where this picture with my mom was taken.  (I know we look like sisters.  I'm the one on the right.) While I was away, the church suddenly disbanded.  Poof!  My life moved on from there with marriage and children and grandchildren, and I'm not sure I ever saw that pastor again, though I know he is around.

The poem, mostly written this past December, had a different ending - a metaphor about fountains bubbling up and down - a little schmaltzy and out of place, if you ask me...  This new last stanza, written today, is a reflection of what we have been learning in the middle school history and literature class I teach.  We were discussing the problems in 20th century history, and contrasting our two most recent novels, Blue Willow (a sobering yet hopeful story of migrant workers during the Great Depression) and Homer Price (a hilarious and preposterous tale of boyhood written just before America's entry into World War II).  "There is a time for both," I told them, quoting a few lines from Ecclesiastes 3.  There is a time to think long about the hardness of life and what we should do about it, yet a time to enjoy rejuvenating humor, too.  A time to lift up our heads and laugh. (I just did.  Our young neighbor came to the door with these mouse shoes on.)

If you like this poem, you might like these with similar themes:

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Weekend Gratitude: Beach Reunion 2014

On Saturday, my husband and I drove over to Melbourne, Florida, with our five younger children for a family reunion.  We were joined by his little sister and her family, his cousin and her family, and his aunt and uncle. We always love to see everyone, which isn’t very often since most of them don't live near us!  Family is precious.  It was a blast to see all the cousins play together out in the waves, sand, and fresh air.  I took about 500 pictures (no joke!), so this is just a small sample.  Enjoy the pictures!   ~~ Virginia

Related posts on reunions and beaches:

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