Friday Flowers

If you’re having a rainy &/or yucky day, here are a few cheer-up flowers from a recent visit to the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

“Where flowers bloom so does hope.” Lady Bird Johnson

“A great beginning is sometimes at the point of what you thought would be the end of something.” Dodinsky

grace, peace & flower-full Friday hope

Virginia : )

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Snapshots & Whatnot: Spunky Seagulls!

Last week while waiting for the Jamestown Ferry to push off for Surry (day-tripping to Smithfield, VA, with my energizer uncle) these spunky seagulls tickled my funny bone.

“From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.” Dr. Seuss

“Don’t let a day go by without being astonished by something.” Marty Rubin

“If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine.” Morris West

grace, peace & spunky seagulls

Virginia : )

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Kickin’ It: Women’s World Cup Grooves

 “The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion when nobody is watching.” Mia Hamm (1st woman inductee, World Football Hall of Fame)

Virginia has been (mostly) AWOL in the blogosphere the past month due to FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer tournament. No free time, what with recording and watching the month-long tournament of 24 national teams taking on each other in Group Phase, narrowed down to 16 teams in the Knockout Phase, on to 8 teams in the Quarter-finals, then 4 teams in the Semi-finals, who continued on to the bronze medal match yesterday between Sweden and England, and today’s big final in Lyon, France.

The U.S. and Netherlands women’s soccer teams kicked their way through an exciting final match today. So excited for the U.S. women who have done an amazing job the whole tournament (especially getting through France in the Quarter-finals.)

Kudos to Coach Jill Ellis and the whole team! YAAAY, USA!

FIFA 2019 Women’s World Cup has seen incredible action – upsets (Sweden overcoming #2 ranked Germany in the Quarterfinals, Norway knocking out Australia) and surprises (Italy making it to the Quarterfinals for the first time), incredibly tense matches (last second plays, goals, overtimes, penalty kicks) and stellar soccer moments to savor.

So, it’s just a game. Football (as most of the world calls it.)

22 players kickin’ it for 90 minutes.

“The thing about football… the important thing about football… is that it is not just about football.”  Terry Pratchett

Therein lies the rub, especially with women’s football/soccer. Today women coaches led both teams in the final match – Jill Ellis for USA and Sarina Wiegman for the Netherlands – a huge stride for women’s soccer. There are not many women coaches out there (yet), but maybe after today more women players will consider coaching.

It’s also about grit, endurance, determination, working toward goals, teamwork, performing under pressure, practice (practice, practice), continuing to try when down by one goal, two, three – multiple goals – for the joy of playing. Thailand lost all their Group Phase games, but they scored one goal in their match against Sweden.

The whole country of Thailand celebrated that goal, even though they lost 5 to 1.

Life can be like a football match. We try and try to reach our goals, but miss.  When we miss our goals and jumble our life grooves, do we give up?

Reminds me of a favorite scene from the movie Chariots of Fire after Eric Liddell beats Harold Abrahams in their first race. A frustrated Harold tells Sybil, “if I can’t win, I won’t run.” But Sybil replies, “If you don’t run, you can’t win.”

We’ve got to put ourselves out there if we want to reach our goals. We can’t sit on the sidelines of our lives and expect to achieve …anything.

Sometimes we might want to just quit. Sometimes our best life grooves involve just ‘hanging in there.’  Showing up each day, praying for the grace to meet each challenge as it arises. Being faithful (even if we’re so bone tired achieving anything seems impossible.)

Getting help, also helps. Like, we need each other. Football is a team sport – it takes good teamwork setting up a goal. In the 10th minute of U.S. Semi-final match against England, Christen Press made an amazing header goal off a cross from Kelley O’Hara – the best kind of teamwork. All the more special as post goal Christen Press honored her mother who died suddenly this past year. (Megan Rapinoe teared up talking what that goal meant at a press conference yesterday.)

Sometimes we can’t see those around us, willing to assist our life grooves.  Maybe we need to sit back, look around and have a go at it (whatever ‘it’ may be) with help from others to reach our goals.

Developing good life grooves (the kind that see us through) can be tough, especially as in the World Cup when the game gets rough and the going gets gritty (like bronze-medal winner Sweden defending with everyone on deck for unbelievable saves against tenacious England yesterday.)

Like Terry Pratchett said, it’s not just about football. How these teams played, matters. The U.S. Women’s National Soccer team won FIFA 2019 Women’s World Cup by powering their way through the tournament, one game at a time with consistent teamwork, dedication, determination and grit – interspersed with moments of brilliant soccer.

Not just the Americans, but all the players in this tournament inspired me – because they all went out there and played.

grace, peace & World Cup life grooves

Virginia : )

“God didn’t create you to be like everyone else. Be you.” Tobin Heath

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Roses in the Rubble (How to Find…)

As June winds down blogger Virginia is getting ready for a celebration: Roses in the Rubble turns 8 on 30th June. Can’t believe it’s been 8 years of blogging! To honor the occasion, here is the original post (set up as a page) of why “Roses in the Rubble?” that really is  all about how to find Roses in the Rubble of our lives…

As a relief & development worker I documented sobering issues: child victims of war, the ravages of HIV/AIDS, and injustices (mass graves inclusive) in conflict zones and places of poverty all over the world. After collecting flower photographs during my first posting in the Middle East, what began as a hobby (making cards out of flower pics) became something more, especially during the Kosovo relief program. Finding roses in the rubble and capturing them on film.

Finding beauty –HOPE – in a disaster zone.

I love flowers, our Creator’s heavenly paintbrush splashing beauty around us. In Tanzania jacaranda trees lined a street near our main office. Every December lavender flowers canopied in giant trees fluttered everywhere. It reminded me of elven Lothlorien in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. When I went on (and on) about the beauty of these trees, my African boss said, “the flowers mess up your windshield and make a mess all over your car!”

But, hey, they were still a beautiful, inspiring mess!

Sometimes our lives are filled with messy mistakes, failures and piles of rubble. But the thing about finding roses in rubble, you have to look for them. Sometimes they’re hiding behind our fears, insecurities, anger and bitterness.

But God can do the impossible, and God is rather good at bringing good out of impossibly challenging circumstances.

Think of Joseph, thrown down a well and sold into slavery by his MEAN brothers. Never say it can’t get worse: he ended up in the rubble of an Egyptian prison (they are notoriously bad now – imagine what it must have been like 5,000 or so years ago?)

Keeping the faith, however, years later he became the second most powerful man in Egypt and saved not only Jacob and his family but the whole region from starvation. Joseph became a powerfully strong rose amidst debilitating and devastating rubble. As he later told his brothers, “what you meant for evil, God used for good.”

I know that God has grown roses out of my personal rubble in impossible-to-comprehend ways and those around me (especially my bed-fast quadriplegic Papa.) I’ve also met many inspiring roses living in the rubble of conflict zones who reflect the beauty of hope to shattered hearts and broken dreams around them.

Their scarred blooms are filled with petals of faith, hope, peace and love as they exude the bitter-to-sweet scent of joy amidst suffering.

Living roses inspire us to be more of who we are meant to be: beloved sons and daughters of our Almighty Heavenly Father, regardless of whether we are red, yellow, pink or purple: we all come from the same human stem of life created in God’s image.

If you are bogged down looking at the rubble around you, Heads Up! Look around, the sun still rises and the sun still sets (keeping Heavenly paintbrushes busy.) If God clothes the flowers of the field so beautifully, will He not take care of us?

Have faith…and COURAGE.

It takes courage to be a rose when rubble surrounds you!

“The Lord is my Light and my Salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? One thing I desire, and that I will seek after: to behold the beauty of the Lord and inquire in His temple.”  Psalm 27:1&4

grace, peace & resilient roses

Virginia : )

“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.” Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

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DEAR PAPA

Last Sunday we celebrated Father’s Day here in America. Although my precious Papa passed a few years ago, the legacy of his love continues to shine brightly in my heart and life (as shared in last year’s post: Fatherless on Father’s Day.)

Being fatherless on Father’s Day is hard, but being fatherless every day is even harder.

Dusting off old files I recently found a letter written to Papa many moons ago. Even though his address is now in Heaven, his love and affirmation continue to pop me up when stress makes a mess of this redhead.

Dear Papa:

LOVE & HUGS FROM YOUR KID (ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD) TO THE BEST-EST FATHER IN THE WHOLE WORLD!!

Mere words are not enough to express my gratefulness for your love. From the time this redhead was just a wee one, your love has always been there (supported by Mama, of course, which made it doubly strong.)

The secret of your love? “God Loves You Anyway” therefore “I Love You Anyway.” Remember the signs you put up in the house? Given how persnickety children can be, that was not always an easy task.

Divine help was often needed to love me despite my unruly ways.

I know what God’s agape love is, because you and Mama have been – and are – that Love to me. You have supported your kid in her successes but your commitment didn’t waver during fear-filled valleys and failures.

You also made time for us, as Dwight and I as children counted your laps around the Laskin Road Health Spa, up and down the boardwalk, and enjoyed dinner and movies out with you – you always kept communication channels open and have been our wise counselor.

Patience is another part of your love. Remember how low-blood sugar me turned into a grumpy tyrant at football games? Yet you stuffed me with good eats then (enthusiastically) explained the strategies of football. You held your tongue during the punk clothes phase and patiently have loved your kid through her (ongoing) adulthood phases.

Enduring faith, hope and love: you and Mama have showed us how the basis of love found in Jesus Christ can take us where we need to go, because His grace has been (and is) sufficient for you. Despite all the challenges of your lives, you and Mama have loved us in and through them all.

In the midst of your pain, you have been the most amazing instruments of the Love of Jesus to each other, to us (as a family) – and to me.

Pneumonia-free Papa!

You have shown us how to hope when all the cards are down, how God is made strong through our weakness. How we can still laugh and rise above pain.

How to hope in God and enjoy life abundantly.

How to pray, to keep the faith, to stay committed: how to LOVE.

Papa, I want you to know that I thank God for you and Mama every day. When I see the devastation and sordid side of humanity, your love shines out like a beacon. For this treasure of Light, my heart bows before God in grateful humbleness.

How blessed we are to have you and Mama leading and guiding us, it makes my heart burst!! Thank you for your love as my precious Papa and for being a powerful prism of the love of Jesus Christ to me (& so many.)

I love YOU!grace, peace & overflowing LOVE

Virginia (a.k.a. “Ginny Lea”)

p.s. I still thank God for the legacy of my Papa’s (& Mama’s) love each & every day.

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Snapshots & Whatnot: Flowery Flexibility

The dictionary defines flexibility as “the quality of bending easily without breaking” and “the willingness to change or compromise.”

Last week I noticed my brother’s coneflowers in their potted homes on the deck seemed to flexibly adapt during days (& days) of pouring rain and stormy weather.

During the wind and rain they bent their petals like a cone (maybe that’s why they’re called ‘coneflowers?’) Didn’t seem to be too bothered with all the thunder, either.

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” Anonymous

Sometimes it’s easy to get rigidly stuck in our ways, implacable and immovable; but when storms come (as they inevitably do) and knock us about, pieces of us may break – snap! – knocking us down & out.

If we take a lesson from these coneflowers, however, by opening the petals of our hearts to change and flexibility, our lives may continue blooming with grace and hope despite the deluge of stormy rain in our lives.

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” Lady Bird Johnson

grace, peace & flowery flexibility

Virginia : )

p.s. Today the sun is back out with spring like temps (after weeks of HOT steamy weather) – it’s hard not to play hooky with “Nice Day Fever!”

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PENTECOST HOLY SPIRIT HOPE

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Today is the Feast of Pentecost – the birthday of the church – & the day we celebrate the Holy Spirit coming into our hearts and lives.

“Come Holy Spirit, send the rays of Your light to us from Heaven.

Come giver of gifts, come, light of hearts, sweet guest of the soul, sweetest relief …

In fatigue, repose, in heart, refreshment, in tears, comfort…

Wash what is stained, bathe what is dry, heal what is bloody. 

Bend what is stiff, warm what is cold, straighten what is crooked…”   (from the Liturgy)

grace, peace & Holy Spirit HOPE

Virginia : )

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