To perk up the end of the week, Virginia is sharing a few of her favorite cloudy day flower pics…

Blue flowers @ Butchart Gardens

A menagerie of joy @ Norfolk Botanical Gardens

An iris @ Colonial Williamsburg

Water lilies @ Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

“I must have flowers, always, and always.”  Claude Monet

grace, peace & Friday flowers

Virginia : )

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Quickie Quote: Powerful Dreamers!

Here’s a little midweek inspiration….

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Harriet Tubman

grace, peace & (powerful) dreamers

Virginia : )

Photo: Monument Valley, UT

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“Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy it will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can celebrate more fully our shared humanity.” Henri Nouwen

Yesterday morning two bluebirds surprised me. I glanced out our living room window in passing and stopped, arrested by the sight of two female bluebirds splashing around in our birdbath. Sitting on the edge of the sofa I stayed a good five minutes watching them flit back and forth from the ground to the birdbath, up to the trees then back to the birdbath. Diving in, splashing merrily about, enjoying themselves immensely.

I didn’t run grab my camera, instead I just sat there enjoying them enjoying themselves. A few minutes later they flew away leaving me surprised by their joy.

Faithful readers know bluebird sightings remind me of my precious mama. How she loved bluebirds, her favorite! Watching those two female bluebirds having such a grand time reminded me of special times shared with Mama before she passed. We didn’t flit in and out of birdbaths, but during the caregiving gig we did splash about singing hymns when I took her through “the Beauty Shop.”

Oh how I miss her! But I am grateful for precious memories, moments of shared joy.

Henri Nouwen’s quote struck a chord. Yesterday’s surprise seeing those bluebirds opened up a sad/glad place in my heart: sad missing mama, and glad remembering moments of joy with her. It’s a weird place navigating the space between sorrow and joy (bittersweet doesn’t quite describe it) but yesterday that place in my heart got big for a bit.

So glad I looked out the window!

grace, peace & surprises


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Someone once said, “Pain and suffering are inevitable; misery is optional.”  ‘Tis true methinks (unless you are suffering from kidney stones when misery is a sure thing.)

Still, misery can be a choice.  Which means not being miserable is also a choice.

Sometimes a bit of suffering enters our lives and disrupts things a little. Other times (WHAM!) suffering grinds us into bits. Whether it’s physical pain, heart pain, life pain – pain, is, well, PAIN. It hurts, a lot. It comes in all shapes and sizes.

Physical pain manifests in many ways and places: sharp, tingling, zinging, aching, mind-numbing, and nauseating pain in our tummies, backs, necks, knees, shoulders, elbows, ankles… (ouch!)

Heart pain runs rampant when our hopes for love are trampled, relationships run askew, partners let us down (or leave us), friends desert us, maybe our parents disappoint us, perhaps our children reject us or become a source of angst?

Life pain erupts when our dreams go off the rails, failure hounds us, we move three steps forward only to fall eight steps back, and nothing turns out like we hoped (or planned?)

Pain of loss catches us by the throat when the holes in our hearts and lives are so deep we feel like they will never be filled.

There’s the pain of unknowing, when fear looms larger than the best coping mechanisms we can muster and it hurts deep in the recesses of our bewildered minds.

Certainly, there are more kinds of pain, but that’s an initial go at it.

Pain can be humbling. Asking others to help us with simple tasks? Another challenge is how to maintain “nice” in the throes of it. Pain tends to make certain redheads grumpy. Although we may give others in our living spheres advice like SHIELDS UP (in Star Trek parlance) we may need to adapt our shields to prevent leaky pain valves decimating others with steaming frustration.

We pray. And pray. And pray (some more.)

It doesn’t mean our pain goes away. Sometimes, as God wills, we are healed. Other times not. That’s the thing about prayer and pain. After we pray we may still hurt, but God is good about filling us with peace to face whatever comes. Amidst the hurt and pain swirling around us and within us, God is with us.

In the pain.

As we walk (or crawl) through our pain, one tiny step at a time, God’s Hands are there to hold the hands of our hearts with Divine Love, the kind that never ends.

In this life, pain and suffering are inevitable, but misery is a choice (especially not being miserable.) It’s not easy with body aches, heart aches, and life aches. But it is possible, if we let the love of God touch us in our swampy achey-places.

 grace, peace & optional misery

   Virginia : )

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis

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Quickie Quote: Setting our Sail(s)

Here’s a quickie quote to contemplate in the middle of the week (especially if winds are blowing us off our course!)

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to reach my destination.” Jimmy Dean

grace, peace & sail adjustment(s)

Virginia : )

Photo: Seabrook Island, SC

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Keep On CARING!!

During last month’s staycation Virginia (the person) and her brother visited Yorktown in Virginia (the state.) I know, I know – it’s confusing that Virginia (the person) lives in Virginia (the state!) But, since Virginia was born and raised in Virginia, she doesn’t mind the confusion since Virginia is a lovely state and NAME. (It was my precious Mama’s name, too, so don’t dare knock it!)

“Spread out and smile. This is only for awhile.”

Wherever we live, some folks are getting tired caring about COVID-19. Here in the U.S. places are opening back up, vaccinated folks can go mask-less in many establishments (including church last Sunday!) But, even though we may be doing oh-so-much-better, folks are still getting sick and dying around the globe.

“Six feet apart is smart!”

The point is, we still need to care and be careful. Not everyone is vaccinated yet. We don’t know who may be at risk, so let’s be gracious. If a store or establishment still requires a mask, don’t be a beanhead about it. WEAR YOUR MASK.

“Life’s a Beach. Play responsibly.”

This sign reminds me of a letter Papa sent when I was a first year student at the University of Virginia many moons ago. In it he wrote, “Study hard and play very carefully.” Ahem. (UVA at that time had a reputation as a party school.) Here’s to being responsible and careful… and caring.

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” Margaret Mead

grace, peace & continued CARING

Virginia : )

Photos: Yorktown, Virginia (the state!)

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An Attitude of Courageous Gratitude

Here in the U.S. it’s Memorial Day, a time when we honor those who sacrificed their lives for our country. Virginia plotted posting something on Saturday, but alas, after receiving her 2nd Moderna vaccine dose on Friday she spent most of the holiday weekend in bed with fever, aches, and chills. (At least it’s working!)

So here’s something she posted on Instagram earlier today…

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy

Honoring those who courageously gave their lives!

grace, peace & gratitude

Virginia : )

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Today is the Feast of Pentecost – the birthday of the church – and the day we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives. From that first Pentecost in Jerusalem the early church grew into communities sharing everything in common.

It was said of them, “See how they love one another.”

Last night in his address to an ecumenical Pentecost Vigil simultaneously broadcast from Jerusalem, Buenos Aires, Rome and Topeka (Kansas), Pope Francis said:

“Tonight more than ever the words ‘see how they love one another’ resound in me. How sad it is when it is said of Christians, ‘see how they fight.’

What happened to us? We are so divided. We have broken into a thousand pieces what God made with so much love, compassion and tenderness…

Today we all need to be witnesses to the love of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us allow ourselves to be changed by the Holy Spirit, in order to change the world.

Let us pray together: Come, Holy Spirit. Come Spirit of love and change the face of the earth – and change my heart!”  Pope Francis

Here’s to letting the Holy Spirit change our hearts with the power of Love that unifies, so we may go forth and be change agents of unity and peace.

grace, peace & Pentecost power

Virginia  : )

“Let us open our hearts to gift of the Holy Spirit, which spurs us to go out, to witness to Love that always precedes us with mercy.” Pope Francis

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Snapshots & Whatnot: Meaningful Choices

Austrian author and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) survived four concentration camps during the Holocaust. He knew gratuitous suffering intimately. Given chaotic challenges ever present in our world, may these insights of his encourage our hearts today.

“Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” Viktor Frankl

“When we are no longer able to change our situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor Frankl

“What is to give light must endure burning.” Viktor Frankl

“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” Viktor Frankl

“We cannot judge a biography by its length, by the number of pages in it; we must judge by the richness of the contents… Sometimes the ‘unfinisheds’ are among the most beautiful symphonies.” Viktor Frankl

“Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude.” Viktor Frankl

“The meaning of life is to give life meaning.” Viktor Frankl

grace, peace & meaningful choices

Virginia : )

Photos: Yorktown, Virginia (the state)

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So much tough stuff surrounds us these days, then there are internal battles that wage in our hearts and minds.

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” Ray Bradbury

This quote from multiple-award-winning writer Ray Bradbury presupposes there is beautiful stuff inside us, which might require a bit of faith when woeful mantras fill the airwaves of our hearts and minds (especially when we are fractured by fears and failures.)

Taking initiative to topple over is taking a risk (of sorts.) Setting aside our fears of freefalling into the unknown, unwrapping our insecurities to unravel in the space between doubt and inertia.

Maybe that’s where the beauty of our lives resides. Where we have the faith to believe something beautiful is there – and is worth sharing – even if we have to topple over to find it!

grace, peace & beauty within

Virginia : )

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