It’s hard to believe that a year has flown by since my beautiful daughter got married!  Happy First Anniversary, Sophia and Frankie!  Congratulations and may God bless your love to last a lifetime!!!  

It was actually May 9, 2010 and on a perfect Mother’s Day that my baby girl (sorry, honey, you will always be that brown-eyed, curly haired free spirit sitting on my lap) said “I do” and we are very blessed that Frankie is a wonderful husband to her and son-in-law to us.  Oh sure, they will have their ups and downs, but I pray they will always land on their feet, holding each other, through thick and thin.  In  just a few months we have two more weddings to look forward to, both sons getting married to beautiful, amazing women and we can’t wait to add two more daughters to our lives!  What unbelievable blessings have been bestowed and we, Pedro and I, are so grateful!  

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“Follow your Heart”…detail of a collage.  I love turtles, of any kind or size.  I have an odd collection of various turtles (not the real kind), some I have found while shopping, others have been given to me by one of my children.  I started my obsession with turtles when my kids were little.  There was even a time when I created a series of stories for a kids newsletter at church in which the main character was a turtle named Trusty D. Turtle.  Someday I will gather those stories together and see if I can adapt them into a children’s book.  I’m not sure what it is about turtles that I identify with so much.  I’m pretty much an introvert so admiring a creature that carries her protection with her everywhere she goes has a definite appeal.  I also admire how turtles take life one little step at a time and though it seems they don’t get very far very fast, they seem to make steady progress to me.

At this moment in time I am relating once again to the symbol of the turtle.  Four days ago I had surgery to replace a ruptured disc in my neck and I am definitely spending a great deal of time in my shell recuperating slowly but surely.  My neck issue has been a chronic problem for over ten years and I have learned to deal with it with anti-inflammatory medicines, bedrest, and avoiding activities that aggravate it.  But I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, so when the neurosurgeon recommended surgery after a recent MRI, I agreed.  When I heard that same recommendation many years ago, I didn’t give it a second thought because there was no way I was going to have surgery!  It took me awhile to get my gumption up and move past my fears, just like a turtle.

I still have a ways to go until I discover a “new normal” for me, one that will hopefully be pain-free and allow me to follow my heart in new directions.  Like the sea turtle making her way back to the ocean after laying her eggs in the sand, she knows which way to go and though her steps are slow and small, she WILL get there one day!  

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“The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth.”

Psalm 145:18

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears.”

Psalm 34:4

“Be Thou O Rock of Ages, nigh!

So shall each murmuring thought be gone;

And grief and fear and care shall fly,

As clouds before the mid-day sun.”       C. Wesley

“Take courage and turn your troubles, which are without remedy, into material or spiritual progress.  Often turn to our Lord, who is watching you, poor frail little being as you are, amid your labours and distractions.  He sends you help, and blesses your affliction.  This thought should enable you to bear your troubles patiently and gently, for love of Him who only allows you to be tried for your own good.  Raise your heart continually to God, seek His aid, and let the foundation stone of your consolation be your happiness in being His.  All vexations and annoyances will be comparatively unimportant while you know that you have such a Friend, such a Stay, such a Refuge.  May God be ever in your heart.

Francis De Sales

…from my favorite devotional, Daily Strength for Daily Needs by Mary W. Tileston

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Take My Heart of Stone…

From my flesh take my heart of stone

Give me hope where despair has grown.

With a heart of flesh I’m not afraid,

Help me trust the plan by which I’m made.

From my flesh take my heart of stone

Give me Love for the Lord alone.

O, Holy Spirit, wash me clean,

Fill my spirit with faith unseen.

You shall be clean, you shall be clean.

I’ll wash away the stone wall.

I’ll bear your grief, I’ll take it all.

You shall be clean, you shall be clean.

From my flesh take my heart of stone

Take my will make Your will my own.

Sprinkle clean water upon me,

Eternally, O Lord, I am free.

From my flesh take my heart of stone

May Your Truth to others be known.

With a heart of flesh I can forgive,

Let go of hate and truly live.

You shall be clean, you shall be clean.

I’ll wash away the stone wall.

I”ll bear your grief, I’ll take it all.

You shall be clean, you shall be clean.

This song was inspired by Ezekiel 36:25-29 and I wrote it during Lent seventeen years ago.  The journey then was filled with bittersweetness and so it is now.  I choose to dwell on the sweetness and pray for mercy and grace for the bitterness.   The scripture and these lyrics are my prayer and meditation, newly reaffirmed this year: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

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Send Peace

Send peace, fill the world,

fill our hearts, O God of Love.

Be near, not far off,

turn our eyes to You, O God.

For You, O Lord, are merciful.

You know our need before we ask.

And You, O Lord, are with us now,

we need not fear, when You are near.

And tho’ the world may be at war,

within our hearts may peace be still.

Protect and guide our ev’ry step,

may all we do, give praise to You.

Send peace, fill the world,

fill our hearts, O God of Love.

Be near, not far off,

turn our eyes

to You,

O God.                    NFR

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“Being with You”…linoleum block print.  Be my Valentine, Pedro!  Let’s Celebrate Love!

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The Power of Love…a collage about the many facets of love.  Valentines Day last year inspired this collage, another of the Skirt magazine series, that celebrates the many kinds of love that I am grateful to know and cherish.  Of course, there is the love I extend to others, the special people in my life, the ones who move me and bless me with their acceptance and care.  But also important, and an area I too readily neglect, much of this collage is about the love for self, not the selfish sort of narcissism that permeates our culture, but the genuine appreciation of my individual soul and humanity that allows me to forgive myself for so many mistakes, to nurture the gifts I have been given, and to accept the greatest Love of all given by God.  When I nurse an inner wound that won’t heal, building walls to protect it and hide how vulnerable I am, I am in danger of losing my way and eventually wallowing in self-hatred.  If I am to truly love others then I must offer my wound to God and allow Him to heal me, relieving me of the burden of shame and guilt, freeing me to feel the Power of His Love and then offering the same to others.

A few minutes ago my two dogs got in an awful fight and made such a racket outside I came running to see what was wrong.  I don’t know what started it but one minute they were best friends and the next enemies.  At least they stopped when I screamed at them.  I separated them and brought the older dog, Abbie, inside.  She was dripping blood from her ears and she wouldn’t let me touch her without growling at me because it hurt so much.  She was really shaken up.  I patted her head and offered her soothing words while blood drops fell on the hardwood floor.  I got a towel and she let me put it around her ear and hold it firmly.  It soon stopped bleeding but left a nasty scratch behind.  She whined if I got too close to it, but I was trying to clean it and assess how much damage had been done.  She is sleeping now, no big deal requiring a visit to the vet or anything, thank goodness.  But I am not much of a nurse so now I am shaken up, wondering what is wrong with these dogs and if I can bear much more of their troublesome ways. 

Here is the thing with love…sometimes it can leave us bleeding and in such pain we can’t let anyone come near.  But in the end we must let Someone compress the towel to stop the bleeding, to hold us and pat our heads, to whisper words of comfort while we growl loudly.  He knows why we are in so much pain to cause such an uprising that friends would turn on one another.  Yet He stays with us, holds us, and in time heals our troublesome ways with forgiveness and acceptance.  That is the Power of Love.  Happy Valentines Day!

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Even the fish catch Steeler Nation Fever!  I saw this Steeler Fan in a Gilligan’s Restaurant in Pawleys Island on our return trip from Pittsburgh via the Myrtle Beach airport.  Each table had their own fish tank and I was very happy to watch this guy flashing the black and gold at ours after the Steelers won the day before.  I take it as a good omen with one week to go before the SuperBowl!

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Forgive the Unforgiven…

Bitter words from troubled lips, icy stares from cold, dark eyes.

Hatred ‘neath a phony smile, but in your shoes I haven’t walked a mile.

Acts of violence fill the streets, trails of blood from broken hearts.

Anger seethes, brings on disease, causes aching, lonely hearts to freeze.

Forgive the unforgiven, return not their hate. 

Oh, love the unforgiven, their deeds seal their fate.

I must forgive others, as the Lord forgave me.

Cynics kill the spirit, like water on fire, flames fade.

Pride and power chain the pure but breaking free is the Spirit’s cure.

Lord, bring peace to those who fear. Bring love, warm our cold hearts.

Make the enemy a friend and grant forgiveness ever to the end.

Forgive the unforgiven, return not their hate. 

Oh, Love the unforgiven, their deeds seal their fate.

I must forgive others, as the Lord forgave me.               NFR

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“Gloria in Excelsis Deo”  pen and ink drawing… This drawing is inspired by a decoration in my home of the Nativity and it was our family Christmas card one year.  For me it holds memories of our times together enjoying our young children at Christmas.  Every year I would buy one new decoration for the house and one year it was this ivory-colored Nativity scene that I doubt my children ever noticed and that probably held more meaning for me than anybody else.  That is the way memories are born and grow stronger I suppose, because of the meaning we attach to things and the times in our lives.  This Christmas, we hold our loved ones close in our hearts and treasure those times together. 

“Angels we have heard on high, singing sweetly o’er the plains.   And the mountains in reply, echoing their joyous strains: Gloria in excelsis Deo” HF Hemy  

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