Thursday, November 28, 2013

Not Fair

An American flag sluggishly hangs at half mast in front of the fire station.

 The firefighter's death has caused "emotional mass casualties" among his company.
A haze of grief hangs in the air, causing a town to call on each other for mutual aid.    Indeed, all who knew him are fully involved in disbelief.   One day he is here, and days later a procession of fire engines carries his casket to his final resting place.
The frigid temps outside cannot begin to compare to the numbing the mourners are feeling on the inside.  Their hearts are broken.   This is not fair.

It is never fair when someone dies so unexpectedly.  Somehow it seems worse when it happens days before a holiday.  A wife and two very young adult boys are hurting.  A life changing event has taken place.  A heart attack took him.    I have thought and prayed of not much else these past days.  I am so sorry.   I wish you all of God's comfort in the seconds, and hours, and weeks, and months ahead.  You have a whole town ready to tend to you as you need.   It is so very obvious he was loved.  Take great comfort in that fact. 

 I think of those I will be with on this Thanksgiving day.   Those sitting on the chairs.  May we live and eat and laugh and make beautiful memories today.  Let us all  be grateful for this day. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Shopping at Harrods Department store

 Harrods is an appealing stop on the "must see" listing of sites to visit while in London.

With Black Friday right around the corner, it got me thinking about shopping.  Harrods is pretty luxurious.  They have a dress code.  I like that.  Recently I was in a coffee shop.  A girl, not more than 16,  walked in with very offensive attire.   If I were in a clothing store, I would have bought her some sweat pants...really.  Trust me.  She needed them.   She would have been asked to leave at Harrods.     
The Food Hall captivated me.  Food was brilliantly displayed in glass cases strategically placed, hooking those "just looking."  Before I knew it, I was buying a pound of truffles just because they hypnotized me with their gold wrapping! 
Smells wafting from Harrods many restaurants convinced us we were hungry even though we just ate.
Strolling through the jewelry and handbag departments, I felt like I was touring an art  exhibit.  Spotting a handbag I thought I might like, my eyes scanned the price tag.  Trying not to gasp out loud, I decided it best to keep moving and not touch a thing.  I watched in disbelief as a woman picked out a handbag and bought it right on the spot.  It fascinated me.  
The sounds of many languages could be heard throughout the store.  I tried to pick out German and Arabic, Spanish, and of course, English.  I am not sure any stores in America can compare to Harrods.  It was a rather unique experience. A memorial was also displayed showing a picture of Princess Diana and Dodi.  Dodi was the son of the owner of Harrods.  He was killed, along with Princess Diana, on that fateful day in August of 1997.
I saw a woman in Harrods.  To this day, she was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.  Interestingly, I only saw her eyes and her hands.  Her olive skin mesmerized both my husband and I.  I wanted to touch her but she was surrounded by men.  They looked important.  Probably her bodyguards.  Who was she?  I will never know.  But one thing I know.     I am convinced she is what Esther must have looked like from the bible.  Absolutely stunning.                      

Thursday, November 21, 2013

2 named Jack



Tomorrow (Nov. 22) marks the 50th anniversary in the deaths of CS Lewis and President John F Kennedy.  Both referred to as "Jack."
The first picture is of CS Lewis' gravesite.  (The one with the cross.)  The bottom, JFK. 
Each site very unlike the other...much like their lives.  Not much can be compared, except that they died on the same day.   CS Lewis quietly slipped away, JFK...audible. 

These two had already lived and left their legacy before I was even born.
I have read many of CS Lewis' writings and was admittedly, very overwhelmed when I made the  pilgrimage to his gravesite.   A sign outside the churchyard  simply stating CS LEWIS GRAVE with an arrow pointing me in the direction, was my only clue  where to find it.  No eternal flame making it obvious.  Just a simple grave in the Holy Trinity churchyard.   With no one else around in the whole cemetery, I could take all the time I wanted to ponder who this man was.  It was quite meaningful for me.  So very peaceful.  I wish I could have met him in life.  I think we could have had great conversations about Aslan around a cup of tea.
 
      I have also been to the JFK gravesite.  I mean no disrespect whatsoever.  After all, JFK was our president.  But with so many people gathered  around the site, the clicking of cameras, and the expressions of grief, it was difficult to just reflect and be silent.  With this 50 year anniversary, it just begs the question...What will my legacy be?  How will people remember me?  How do I want them to remember me?  I wonder if these two men ever thought just how much people 50 years after their deaths still thought about them?  What if JFK wasn't assassinated?  Would he have lived to be 90?  And what would life have been like for CS Lewis if Joy had not died 4 years after they married?  I am thankful that CS Lewis did what he was called to do...write.  He wrote for future generations to learn and imagine and to think.            

Monday, November 18, 2013

Jane Austen fan

Pride and Prejudice.  Just the name makes me smile.  The era, England, tea, Mr. Darcy.  A true literary classic.  One of my favorite stories.  

Just  imagine Jane writing at her desk with a  quill pen and ink.  Such patience she must have had.  Ink blobs on the page, smearing her classic words.  I get frustrated when I lose a page,  because I keep forgetting to save my work as I type along on the keys of my computer.  The hours she must have spent penning Sense and Sensibility and Emma.  A literary genius indeed. 

I happened to see this video about Jane Austen fans and found it really neat!  Maybe because a writer friend is in it!  Julie is a historical romance author.  A very gifted writer. She is also so very kind and extremely humble.  Julie is in a pink gown toward the end of the video.   Enjoy.
http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/mr-darcy-jane-austen-super-fans-20897217

Julie's website:
www.julieklassen.com
Julie has a new book launch  on December 12 at 7:00p.m.    If you are in the Twin Cities area, she will be signing books at the Har Mar Mall Barnes and Noble in Roseville MN. 

Which Jane Austen book is your favorite?
 






Thursday, November 14, 2013

Care Packages

Recently I was asked if I have ever sent a package to my college age kids.   Hmmmm.  Do I just say "yes," or do I admit that I have sent more than I can even count?!  In fact, between the USPS and the UPS store, I'd say easily I could be walking around with a designer purse.  Or, maybe  a few outfits from Mall of America with how much I pay to send my babes love from home! 

"I've sent a few," I reply.  And then hope they don't ask, "What's a few?" 
 
"So, once a quarter, once a year, how many have you sent?"

"Well, I can't give an exact number, but on average for sure every two weeks," I respond. 

I must admit, I love the reactions!  "Are you kidding?" "That must cost a fortune."
My favorite..."Do they like it?"

"Do they like it?"  Getting a whole almond cake to themselves baked fresh, just for them, a few days before.
A handwritten note in their mother's handwriting, and not an email.
Chocolate chip cookies wrapped individually.  The chips are more like chunks!
Gift cards to Starbucks and Buffalo Wild Wings
MONEY
Funky Chunky pretzels
Books

Oh, I have no doubt...they love it.  Especially right around exam time.  I love it when they call and say, "I got your package."      It was especially wonderful when our son was away for the summer and was out of cellphone reach, and would call on the satellite phone sparingly.  The first words out of his mouth, "Hi mom I got your package."

PRICELESS FOR ME:   When they do return home, finding the letters I have written.    Opened and kept. 


What about you?  Do you send packages?  What do you put in them? 
Did you ever get any while you were away?


Monday, November 11, 2013

Wells Cathedral

England is abundant with  history.  This cathedral holds many tales of bygone times.  A peaceful place, it is found in the County of Somerset, and in the City of Wells.    I remember stepping  in, and weeping.  The architecture is simply magnificent.  I had not seen anything like it.  What a gift to be a local, and be able to go there and be still with God.  Many sat in the pews in silent meditation.  Every place we wandered, I would  gaze up and down and left and right and still not see everything.  The details were high and low.  Arches and spires, a very famous clock that rings every hour, candles and carvings, stain glass and tombs.  Stories burst from every corner.  And the doors...opening one could lead down a secret passageway.  Kind of like walking through a wardrobe.      

   

Toothaches must have happened often while the cathedral was under construction.  Maybe inspiring this carving?  It is famously known as “toothache man.”  There are eleven like him throughout the cathedral.  Being in the dental field, I just had to take his picture!  Begs the question...what did they do  back then for an abscessed tooth?  What a great conversation piece!
video


This is a 40 second video.  You can hear my husband asking me what I think.  Hmmm…that is a loaded question.  I think England is a place full of legacy and much history, and I want to know it all!  We are in what is called the Chapter House.  One of many stately rooms in the cathedral. 








The sign intrigued me.  The thought of who ascended those steps made me ask all sorts of questions.  How did they get so worn?  Who walked those steps?  Did anyone fall?  Were they silent? 










Meet John and Yvonne.  They are full of life and graciousness.   We are fortunate to have them in our world.  While in England, we stayed in quaint bed and breakfasts, ate at some of the most unique pubs, and got to see what it is like to drive on the wrong side of the road from the safety of the backseat, all because of them.  Thanks for the memories.      
 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Operation Christmas Child

                                                                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKLz5u-ErW8

Click on the video!

This is an excellent way to bring joy to a child.  Each year, our family makes  2 boxes.   We have had the privilege of going to the warehouse, preparing  the boxes for shipping.  If you ever get the chance...go!  Picture if you will, thousands of boxes piled to the ceiling, wrapped in every color of paper conceivable.  It looks a bit like the North Pole.  Lots of little elves busy wrapping, stuffing, making sure each box is "just right" for the little hands that will receive it.    I have often thought of what it must be like to be the ones delivering the boxes to remote villages in far off places, watching the children running to receive their gifts.  Wouldn't that be great?  That would be the most fun "job."

Ideas to put in the boxes include:  dolls, toy trucks, stuffed animals, balls, pens, pencils, washcloths, toothbrushes...the ideas are endless. 

A few things Samaritan's Purse asks not to go in the boxes:  war related items...toy guns, liquids, breakable items, chocolate.

Questions?  Go to www.samaritanspurse.org
Have fun shopping. 
 
 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday blogging--England

 I have decided that I need to keep myself disciplined in writing, and so I am doing Monday and Thursday blogs. 
Mondays are going to be about England...Thursdays are whatever my heart desires! 
England is my happy place.  I was so blessed to have been able to travel there with my husband and our very dear close friends,  John and Yvonne. 
We had the most wonderful time.  We would not have done, nor seen,  all that we did without having them as our traveling companions.  It remains some of the most wonderful memories of my life. 
Monday blogs about England are endless.  There are authors and bed and breakfasts, churches, gardens, oh I can't wait to relive it!
 
I thought it obvious to start with my favorite author...CS Lewis.  I love this quote (in the picture).    We all have dreams.  Do we dare to run after them?   I may fall on my face with this writing dream, but I am having fun so far!  Had I not tried, I would not have met the most wonderful people that God has put in my path.  They are incredible writers.  I am learning so much from them.   These pictures are from a pub in Oxford, England called the Eagle and Child.  This is where CS Lewis met with his friends known as "The Inklings."  As the plaque describes...this group met and discussed the books they were writing.  I am blessed to have my own "Inkling" group.  They are called MN NICE.  A group of amazing and extremely talented people who are taking me under their wing, of which I am so grateful. 
The link if you care to take a look http://acfwminnesotanice.weebly.com/ 
10 facts about  CS Lewis:

Born Clive Staples Lewis on November 29, 1898
Brother : Warren Hamilton Lewis, his best friend
Mother died of cancer when he was 9 years old
Wrote many books, including the Screwtape Letters and the Chronicles of Narnia
Attended Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry, England
Married Joy Davidman in 1956
Joy died 4 years later from cancer
The movie "Shadowlands" is about their life
CS Lewis died the same day as President JFK...Nov. 22, 1963
On Nov. 22 of this year, CS Lewis will be honored in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey.  It will mark the 50 year anniversary of his death.