Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Final April Hodge Podge

Welcome to the final April edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge! If you're visiting from the A-Z Blog Challenge, you'll find my Z entry at the end of this post. Where Z belongs.  If you're playing along in the Hodgepodge today, add your link to the party by clicking here, and then go say hi to your neighbors.  Here are my answers-

1.  April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes. Are you blooming where you're planted as we begin the month of May?   I always bloom where I am planted.  Sometimes it takes me a little longer..... but eventually I feel at home and blossom.  If we are talking about growing plants....then my black thumb kicks in and I may get a bloom or two to pop out.

2.  On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being no big deal, and 10 being full scale panic, rank your fear of spiders.  I would have gone with a 5 until I was bitten by a brown recluse in January.  It is still healing and gross looking and hurt like rip.  Now I am more a 8+.
3. May is National Salad Month (who knew???)...besides lettuce, what are two must have ingredients in your favorite salad?   Cucumbers and fresh tomatoes....I also love Greek peppers.
4.  Joyce mentioned on her  blog last week that her Daughter1 will be moving to Washington State after she is married. Of the following sites in the Northwest, which would you most like to see in person-Crater Lake (Oregon), Seattle (Washington), Vancouver (British Columbia), San Juan Islands (Washington),  Mt Rainier (Washington), Oregon Coast (Oregon), Mt St Helen's ((Washington), or Olympic National Park (Washington)?  I have been to all of them, done them, gotten the tee-shirt and loved them.  I went to school one summer at Whitman College in Walla Walla and we traveled every weekend, plus did a 9600 mile PNW vacation with some of my favorite folks.   I love the Pacific Northwest and could live there with ease. 
 5.  This coming weekend marks the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby...when did you last race (literally or figuratively) to cross a finish line?  About 15 years ago I ran a 10K.  I hurt myself and have not run again. 

 6. What is something little you love?  I have to agree with Joyce and say pearls.  I can put on pearls and feel like a million bucks.
 7. Would you say you are more of a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner?
Definitely visual.  I need to see something to understand it. For me it really is all about the senses.

 8.  Insert your own random thought here.  I did the A-Z Challenge this year and was part of the Unconventional Alliance.  I have met some really neat people.  Read some wonderful posts.  But I am really glad it is over.  Have you ever signed on for a long term something you wished maybe you hadn't. Congrats to all you A-Z ers who made it all the way through the alphabet! It really is not as easy as it sounds!

A-Z April Blog Challenge - Z is for Zebulon, GA

The last day of the A-Z April Challenge has arrived and my traveling days are done until Summer starts.  Todays letter is "Z" and my place is Zebulon, GA.  It is located a short 45 minute drive from Atlanta.  Pike County has a rural atmosphere and simple, relaxing lifestyle and to me this makes it a gem waiting to be discovered. If you are looking for a place where you feel like you stepped back in time, visit Pike County. The county hosts numerous historic building including the courthouse on the square, the old train depot, the whiskey bonding barn(used as a wedding venue....that is why I was in Zebulon in the first place) , the circa 1900 jail in Molena and the Strickland building in Concord. The Meriwether-Pike County Scenic Byway celebrates the unique legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in west Central Georgia. During the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, FDR came to Warm Springs in hopes the therapeutic warm springs would help improve the condition of his legs, damaged by polio. This highway, a 55 mile route from Meriwether County to Pike County, is intended to provide an alternate route through the more beautiful areas of the state and to allow travelers to get off of the interstate highway and enjoy the rural atmosphere and hospitality that only Georgia can provide.   Enjoy the music of the area. The Hollenville Opry House is open on Saturdays for a mix of country, bluegrass and gospel music. The Williamson Music Barn has an informal jam session on Friday evenings and a stage show on Saturday evenings featuring gospel, country and bluegrass.  Shri Ram Chandra Mission - one of only four ashrams in the United States, this meditation center provides seminars, workshops and meditation training. Located just outside of Molena, on the side of a wooded mountain, come see if meditation is right for you during their Open House every Sunday.
Christmas in the country! Pike County combines a delightful atmosphere for the holidays. Enjoy the many Christmas parades, programs and events that take place during the month of December as we celebrate the season! Enjoy a “Jingle Bell Ride” with the Pike County Horse Club in December!  Zebulon was an interesting blast from the past.  If you ever pass through....stop.  It is a nice walk back into history.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A-Z Blog Challenge - Y is for Yellowstone

One more day remains in the A-Z April Challenge.  Where has this month gone?  My travel letter for today is Y so I am taking you to Yellowstone National Park.   Yellowstone is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, although it also extends into Montana and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Yellowstone, widely held to be the first national park in the world, is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful Geyser, one of the most popular features in the park. It has many types of ecosystems, but the subalpine forest is most abundant. It is part of the South Central Rockies forests ecoregion.  Native Americans have lived in the Yellowstone region for at least 11,000 years. The region was bypassed during the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the early 19th century. Aside from visits by mountain men during the early-to-mid-19th century, organized exploration did not begin until the late 1860s. The U.S. Army was commissioned to oversee the park just after its establishment. In 1917, administration of the park was transferred to the National Park Service, which had been created the previous year. Hundreds of structures have been built and are protected for their architectural and historical significance, and researchers have examined more than 1,000 archaeological sites. Yellowstone National Park spans an area of 3,468.4 square miles. Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in North America and is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano on the continent. The caldera is considered an active volcano. It has erupted with tremendous force several times in the last two million years.  Half of the world's geothermal features are in Yellowstone, fueled by this ongoing volcanism.   Lava flows and rocks from volcanic eruptions cover most of the land area of Yellowstone. The park is the centerpiece of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the largest remaining nearly-intact ecosystem in the Earth's northern temperate zone.  Hundreds of species of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have been documented, including several that are either endangered or threatened. The vast forests and grasslands also include unique species of plants. Yellowstone Park is the largest and most famous megafauna location in the Continental United States. Grizzly bears, wolves, and free-ranging herds of bison and elk live in the park. The Yellowstone Park bison herd is the oldest and largest public bison herd in the United States. When we were there one of these huge bison's put his head right into the car....right beside me.  I thought I was going to have to climb out of the car on the other side.  Forest fires occur in the park each year; in the large forest fires of 1988, nearly one third of the park was burnt. Yellowstone has numerous recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, boating, fishing and sightseeing. Paved roads provide close access to the major geothermal areas as well as some of the lakes and waterfalls. During the winter, visitors often access the park by way of guided tours that use either snow coaches or snowmobiles.  If you get a chance to visit Yellowstone, you must.  If you have a chance to stay at the Lodge then do it.  I wish I had.  That is the one thing about being there that causes me some regrets.

Old Faithful eruption

A field of bison alongside the road

Animals just off the road. 

The Lodge.  I wish we could have stayed there.

When he wants the road....everyone else waits.....patiently! 

A geopool with the skeleton of an animal at the bottom.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Sensible Arrangement

About The Book:  Sensible Arrangement is a a Lone Star Brides book.  It seems that Marty Dandridge Olson is ready to leave behind the pain of the past.  Answering an advertisement for a “Lone Star bride,” she leaves her Texas ranch and heads to Denver to marry a man she doesn’t know.  Jake Wythe is the man waiting for her.  Burned by love, he marries now simply to satisfy the board of Morgan Bank, which believes a man of his standing in society should be wed. Together Jake and Marty agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience.  When missing money and a collapsing economy threaten his job, Jake’s yearning to return to ranching grows ever stronger, much to Marty’s dismay. But a fondness has grown between them, as well, further complicating matters.  What will happen when their relationship shifts in unexpected ways… and dreams and secrets collide?Purchase a copy and learn more at Tracie’s website.

A-Z April Blog Challenge - X is for Xenia, OH

Xenia, OH is a city in and the county seat of Greene County, Ohio, United States. The municipality is located in southwestern Ohio 21 miles (34 km) from Dayton and is part of the Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area, as well as the Miami Valley region.  Xenia has a few nickname(s): "City of Hospitality", "Bicycle Capital of the Midwest", "X-Town." The real name comes from the Greek word Xenia (ξενία), which means "hospitality".  One of the historical facts that fascinated me about Xenia is that many of its residents supported the Underground Railroad in the years before the Civil War.  Xenia is not someplace I would want to put on my Bucket List of Places to See Before I Die....but it was interesting and I am glad we took a rest stop there.  The name, the history, the people made the stop worthwhile. 

  File:Xenia Buildings.png
One of my favorite things.... covered bridges

Family Tree Genealogy place!
I am always fascinated by Native American History and Tecumseh has always been someone I have loved reading about. 

The reason I remember Xenia, OH.  This was one of the darkest days in the history of the town....yet the town survived.  They have an amazing spirit.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Sunday After.........

My scripture came from John 20:19-31

Think about it……Your best friend just got murdered - executed, in fact. You could have helped him escape, but you ran instead. You’re angry and disappointed, not only in yourself, but in your friend. He said he could handle it. He said he was big enough to avoid it. He said he was God. Or at least, that’s what you heard.  And you are scared.  People know who you are. You were inseparable for years. You witnessed his “crimes” and you know you were an accomplice. You are thinking to yourself, “How am I going to get out of this? How am I going to get out of town?” Your hopes have been dashed and a once bright future is now very dark indeed.

Can you picture this scene? ….I mean….here you are….The doors are locked. The room is dim. There is a low murmur of voices in the background as you sit in a corner and review for the hundredth time the contradictions, the njustices, and your own role in the horrible death of your best friend.

I am pretty certain that we have all been sitting in that spot, in that room at some point in our life. We have let ourselves down, we have failed our friends, and Lord knows we have betrayed our Master with much wickedness. We see our own sins, we know our own hearts and we become very good at beating up on ourselves. My imagination has quite a lot to work with as I envision that room in John 20:19-31 on the evening of the day the disciples discovered that not only was their Master dead, but his body was gone.

Read John 20:19-31

But now….I stand here and I wonder, “What do you see in that room? What do you see after betrayal, after disappointment, after sin? What do you see “after”?

I’ll tell you what I see. I immediately see “Fear.” It is very obvious and real – the disciples are scared of the Jews, according to John and the doors are locked. After disappointment and betrayal, there is fear.  Fear is something that we have all had to deal with. It was Dave Barry, that great humorist, who said, "All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears - of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, or speaking before a Rotary Club, and of the words "Some Assembly Required." 1

When I was a child, my best friends and I thought that it was great fun to scare each other. One of us would be screaming hysterically in fear, and the others would be howling in laughter.  My favorite story is about my friend Carol who was terrified of frogs.  One night going from her house to my house a humongous frog jumped right on top of her foot.  She went to pieces and when my parents finally found me I was literally laying on the porch laughing til I cried.  The only thing that saved me from being punished was I did not do this. 

But You know….real fear is not at all funny. “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear,” said H.P. Lovecraft.  Fear makes you do things you would normally not do. On the third Sunday when I come out here after men’s breakfast…. while studying here in my office I lock all the doors.  Why?  Well my first Sunday to do this I heard something outside my office door. Those of you who have been around know that this building has some unusual noises. And most of the time, I keep the doors locked when I’m here by myself, because, well…I’m kind of jumpy. Blame it on my childhood!  So when I heard the noise, I did what I normally do – I got up to go look. There was no one there. But as soon as I sat down again, I heard the noise again – a bit louder. This time I was convinced that someone was sneaking up on me.  So I did what any woman would do – I grabbed my weapon from my bag….. (my trusty leatherman) and went to convince the intruder that he needed to leave. But there was no one there - there was nothing there, in fact. Fear makes you do crazy things sometimes.

I learned recently that fear even determines the price of gold. There is a factor in gold options known as the “Fear Index,” invented by James Turk in the 1980’s. “When the Fear Index is rising (which occurs when money is flowing into gold, pushing up its exchange rate and raising the market value of U.S. gold reserves), it’s usually because people are worried about the dollar or the health of the U.S. banking system and are looking for alternative stores of value.”

Here were the disciples of Jesus sitting in failure, betrayal, confusion, disappointment, shame, and guilt. How sad that the disciples had misunderstood Jesus’ teachings, had misinterpreted his miracles, and had even been misdirected by their own culture as they followed Jesus. No wonder they were afraid.  Just where does FEAR come from? It actually is self-generated based on our interpretations of what we see. A simple acrostic for fear is this:





Fear was real for them and it is real for us. And most of the time it comes because we do not understand what we are seeing. They are human. They did not understand. They were afraid of being locked up and crucified. They were afraid of the Jews.   It really seems in life that the more you resist fear, and try to directly overcome it, the stronger it gets. The more attention you give it, the more it grows.”   But not only do I see fear in that room, after fear I see forgiveness.

I see forgiveness demonstrated by the first words out of Jesus’ mouth when he entered the room. “Peace be with you!” He did not come in all angry saying  “Where were you guys?” Nor did he say…. “How could you have let me down?” But, “Peace be with you” - forgiveness from the start. How often do we fail to keep forgiveness by bringing up the past with someone? How many times doe we make sure the other party knows how little we thi                                       nk of them, how much it hurt?

Dave McFadden tells about the time a mother ran into the bedroom when she heard her seven-year-old son scream. She found his two-year-old sister pulling his hair. She gently released the little girl’s grip and said comfortingly to the boy, "There, there. She didn’t mean it. She doesn’t know that hurts." He nodded his acknowledgement, and she left the room. As she started down the hall the little girl screamed. Rushing back in, she asked, "What happened?" The little boy replied, "She knows now."

I see forgiveness demonstrated by the assignment he immediately gave them. “I am sending you as the Father sent me.” He immediately indicated his trust in them by giving them an assignment, a task, a command even, to carry on his work. “It reflects the principle that the authority of the one who is sent is the same as the authority of the one who sent him—the king’s emissary speaks with the authority of the king. God is present in the work of Jesus; Jesus will be present in the work of the disciples.”   I see forgiveness demonstrated by the gift Jesus gave them, the gift of the Holy Spirit. This passage may be a bit confusing in light of the section in the book of Acts where the Holy Spirit is given, but as I understand it, this was an initial gift of the Holy Spirit to enable them to accomplish the task he had just given them. Much like the birth of the Holy Spirit in our hearts when we first come to Jesus in saving faith, these disciples had finally believed in both the death and the resurrection of Jesus. They had not received the initial gift of the Holy Spirit until this day.  And I also see forgiveness demonstrated by the authority he gave to his disciples. I am reminded here of Matt. 16:19 in which Jesus tells Peter, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Jesus indicated his forgiveness by authorizing them to carry on the work that he himself had begun. Not only does he send them, enable them, but he authorizes them. He gives them his own authority.

And finally, after the fear, and after the forgiveness in that room, I see faith.

I see faith restored. Into that room walked someone they thought they would never see again. Hope sprang fresh from the darkness of their hearts. They witnessed in person the Living Lord, and rejoiced. Their faith was restored.

I see faith shared. The disciples, in turn, witnessed to Thomas, and brought him back the next week. They immediately began to obey the “sending” assignment, and did so by going to one of their own that had missed out on the first experience.

“Perhaps we can understand Thomas’ reluctance if we remember his words as Jesus prepared to go to Jerusalem—"Let us also go, that we may die with him" (John 11:16). Thomas has been zealous for Jesus, but has seen his worst fears realized. The crucifixion has broken his heart. The phrase, "Once burned, twice shy!" comes to mind. Thomas believed, but his belief was betrayed. We can understand why he would be slow to believe again. Perhaps this is the reason for the great compassion and sensitivity with which Jesus reaches out to Thomas in the verses below.”

“Thomas makes an outrageous demand: "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe" (v. 25). Earlier, Jesus condemned those who demanded signs and wonders before they would believe (4:48). Thomas goes even further. "He is only prepared to lay aside his unfaith if the risen Jesus meets his criteria.   ... Thomas demands that Jesus be ’touchable.’ ...He insists that the risen body of Jesus fulfill his requirements" (Moloney, 537). 9

And I see faith invited by Jesus. Without condemning or scolding, Jesus invites Thomas to examine the truth. He didn’t call him a “Doubting Thomas.” That’s a name we’ve invented for this man. I think we’ve done so because we see in Thomas our own unbelief. We usually condemn those in which we see our own sins reflected.

But Thomas believed, and his faith was restored. “It is instructive to note here that Thomas believed, lost faith and returns to even greater faith. A note here - “Thomas was not with the disciples when Jesus made his first appearance to them. As a result, he refused to believe. This should serve as a warning to us. It is difficult to believe when we do not strengthen ourselves with the fellowship of other believers" (Gossip, 798). 10


Jesus never invites faith in himself but that he does so with gentleness, kindness, recognizing our need for evidence, and then blessing us with greater faith. He does not condemn, nor does he resort to name-calling. He invites us to examine him, to know him.

As the old song says, “Do you see what I see?” In spite of your sins, your betrayal and your fear, He wants to bless you with forgiveness and faith. Amen

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A-Z April Blog Challenge - W is for Washington State

We are nearing the end of the April A-Z Blog Challenge and I have really enjoyed being part of it and the Unconventional Alliance.  I have visited some really great blog posts during the month.  Today in keeping with my theme of travel I am taking you to Washington State.  I was fortunate enough to have been a National Endowment of the Humanities fellow one summer and was able to attend school at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA for several weeks.  During my stint in Washington I was able to see a good bit of the state during weekend travels that some of my classmates and I took.  It is a beautiful place and I hope someday I get the chance to go back and see it again.  Washington is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States located north of Oregon, west of Idaho, and south of the Canadian province of British Columbia on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Named after George Washington, the first President of the United States, the state was made out of the western part of the Washington Territory which had been ceded by Britain in 1846 by the Oregon Treaty as a settlement of the Oregon Boundary Dispute. It was admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889.  Washington is the 18th most extensive and the 13th most populous of the 50 United States. Approximately 60 percent of Washington's residents live in the Seattle metropolitan area, the center of transportation, business, and industry along the Puget Sound region of the Salish Sea, an inlet of the Pacific consisting of numerous islands, deep fjords, and bays carved out by glaciers. The remainder of the state consists of deep rainforests in the west, mountain ranges in the west, central, northeast and far southeast, and a semi-arid basin region in the east, central, and south, given over to intensive agriculture. After California, Washington is the second most populous state on the West Coast and in the Western United States.  Washington is a leading lumber producer. Its rugged surface is rich in stands of Douglas fir, hemlock, ponderosa and white pine, spruce, larch, and cedar. The state is the biggest producer of apples, hops, pears, red raspberries, spearmint oil, and sweet cherries, and ranks high in the production of apricots, asparagus, dry edible peas, grapes, lentils, peppermint oil, and potatoes. Livestock and livestock products make important contributions to total farm revenue and the commercial fishing catch of salmon, halibut, and bottomfish makes a significant contribution to the state's economy.Manufacturing industries in Washington include   aircraft and missiles, shipbuilding and other transportation equipment, lumber, food processing, metals and metal products, chemicals, and machinery. Washington has over 1,000 dams, including the Grand Coulee Dam, built for a variety of purposes including irrigation, power, flood control, and water storage. Although its official, unambiguous name is "The State of Washington," the state's name is often reversed and referred to as "Washington state" to distinguish it from Washington, D.C., also named for George Washington. Another nickname is "the Evergreen State." Its largest city is Seattle, situated in the west, followed by Spokane, located in the east, and its capital is Olympia.  I whitewater rafted(nearly drowned) while I was there, I saw Salmon swim upstream (pretty amazing), I saw the Colombia River and watched speed boat races, went to Pikes Market(watched them throw fish from the boats to the market), climbed Mt. Ranier, saw Mt. St. Helen, went up in the space needle (big feat for someone who is severely claustrophobic), ate Walla Walla Sweets(onions that are to die for), ate salmon cooked on an open fire, met some amazing people, attended an amazing church, and visited L'ecole winery.  I saw waterfalls, forests, and nature at its finest.  We packed a lot of sightseeing in a few weekends.  I loved this place and could so see myself living somewhere other than Seattle.