Motivated Butterflies…

Spreading a little butterfly happiness around today…

“Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp; but which, if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

Sometimes we need to open our hearts to joy…

…that comes in different flavors.

Best not get too comfortable (especially if a bee is OTW!)

grace, peace & motivated butterflies

Virginia : )

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Snapshots & Whatnot: SWAMPED!

A few years ago my brother and I drove the Natchez Trace from Franklin, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi. We stopped along the way (visiting our precious niece Joy and her family @ French Camp, MS) and enjoyed many scenic opportunities.

It may be a tad weird, but one of my favorite Natchez Trace stopping spots was Cypress Swamp, MS. On a misty day it was eerie, but kinda cool. Not that I would want to be stuck there at night. (Forgot to ask if there are alligators. Probably, yes.)

Misty vibes @ Cypress Swamp

Swamps usually connote unpleasantness. It is, after all, where alligators thrive. Where entities like “Swamp Things” go about their frightening business. (There never seem to be scary movies about “Pond Things.”)

All tangled up, “Swamped!”

Swamps also tend to overwhelm, as in “I’m swamped with work.”

Sometimes things in our lives may seem a little creepy, scary even. (Freaky viruses? Paralyzed economies? No TP in the groceries?)

We can let what’s scary freak us out…

A creepy sighting @ Cypress Swamp

Or we can take a closer look.

Maybe what looked creepy from a distance is just a tree stump up close.

But, sometimes we let fear creep us out, immobilizing our forward momentum.

Stuck in the swamp

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not yet, and the not-at-all.” Ayn Rand

Swamps are not generally the nicest-smelling places

Swamps of stinkin’ thinkin’ leave us mired in doubt and despair, a place that doesn’t take us anywhere.

Stinkin’ thinkin’ like we are nothing nobodies. Nobody cares.

Why stay in that swamp? Get out of there!

“We are all people with souls, sparks of the Divine.” Henri Nouwen

Flowery ‘sparks of the Divine’ @ Cypress Swamp

The challenge when wading through the swamps of our lives is to never lose hope. If we look around, we might find blossoms of hope in the middle of what’s swamping us.

“Hope discovers what can be done, instead of grumbling about what cannot. Hope pushes ahead when it might be easy to quit. Hope opens doors where despair closes them.” James Keller, M.M.

Funky hope @ Cypress Swamp

Hoping in the midst of our swamps is not easy. Indeed, it’s downright hard – a tough thing to do when everything seems to be against you.

But, you are not alone. You do not need to be afraid.

“Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you…” (Isaiah 43:1-2)

Even if we can’t see where the path leads, hope keeps on going.

grace, peace & SWAMPED HOPE!

Virginia : )

“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

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Ethereal Mother’s Day HUGS!

Once again it’s Mother’s Day, a time to celebrate our mothers with flowers, chocolates and special treats. This is also a day many of us miss our mamas.

Mama with two of her favorite things: chocolates & flowers

It’s not easy being motherless on Mother’s Day when our mothers are in Heaven.

I miss Mama (so much!) She left a huge legacy of love and hope in my heart with her example of faithfulness. My parents were married 58 years, 28 of which Papa suffered from a debilitating disease that left him a bedfast quadriplegic.

Mama & Papa (still holding hands!)

Mama looked after him tirelessly. Papa called her his “care lover.” You wouldn’t believe how mushy they could get, whispering “sweet everythings” to each other.

My Mama was a steel magnolia, fragile like fine china on the outside but steely strong in her faith, love, determination, and encouragement. She almost died from toxemia after having my oldest sister, but went on to have four more children. (Since I am #4 of 5, glad she and Papa kept on going.)

The Woodwards (circa 1970)

Mama poured her life out from the deep well of God’s love in her heart that overflowed with generous compassion and care for others.

She served selflessly. She loved and lived with unswerving steadfast devotion. She encouraged and inspired others. She gave of herself generously.

When Mama couldn’t even speak her last bedridden week of Hospice, at one point she reached her spindly arms up around my neck into a hug – a final embrace of her love that I will never forget.

The embrace of Mama’s love, an indelible Rose in my heart

“Hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts.”  (Romans 5:5) Thank you, Mama, for pouring the love of God in my heart in so many ways.

Thinking about it, I am not really motherless on Mother’s Day. I may not be able to hug her in the here and now, but Mama is always present in my heart.

The hugs of her love will always be part of me.

HaPpY Mother’s Day in Heaven, Mama!

grace, peace & ethereal Mother’s Day HUGS

Virginia : )

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Song Grooves: Listening to the Silence

The other day I caught up by phone with a friend who travels nonstop as part of her job. Whenever she gets a chance, she’s always off to fun places. (We are kindred spirits.) The last few months of sheltering at home on her own have been a huge change of pace. She’s been reaching out to help others (she dropped off a sweet care package in our mailbox when I had strep) but she said, “This has been a season of silence.”

We talked about listening to the silence without disruptions…

Ripples of silence…

Later that day I dusted off Bruce Hornsby’s “Spirit Trail” playlist and grooved around the kitchen to the song “See the Same Way,” hitting replay several times whilst making supper. (Here’s a link to have a look and listen to the band rocking the song out of the ballpark: Bruce Hornsby: See the Same Way.)

A few songs later when “Listen to the Silence” popped up, the words jumped into my heart – especially after talking about how hard it is sometimes to listen in the silence.

“….People talk without listening/ People listen without hearing…”

Today here’s a YouTube of the song (email readers you know the drill, link to Roses website to have a listen.)

“Listen to the silence
A little quiet time
You just might find what you’re after
If you close your eyes”

Bruce Hornsby

“Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10)

grace, peace & Silence grooves

Virginia : )

“Prayer is sitting in the silence until it silences us, choosing gratitude until we are grateful, praising God until we ourselves are an act of praise.” Richard Rohr, OFM

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Snapshots & Whatnot: Dexterous Courage & Tact

Years ago my sister gifted me the classic book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. Filled with wisdom for 20-something Virginia stepping out in the wide world, the timeless insights of Dr. Seuss therein still resonate with a much older Virginia.

Here’s to stepping out today with dexterous courage and tact (Dr. Seuss style) as challenges continue to loom large in our lives and in our world…

A strange looking birdie (a Little Blue Heron)

“You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.” ~ Dr. Seuss

A Great Blue Heron stepping out with great care and tact

Great Blue Heron being dexterous and deft

“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!” ~ Dr. Seuss

Yakety-yak, my troubles are in trouble with ME!

“Think and wonder, wonder and think.” Dr. Seuss

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” Dr. Seuss

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do?

To blend in or have dexterous courage to act.

“When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try one more time.”  You have more potential than you believe you do.” ~ Dr. Seuss

grace, peace & dexterous courage

Virginia : )

Photos: Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, VA

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May Day Flowers!!

My precious Mama always said, “April showers bring May flowers.” Since most of us can’t visit our favorite gardens at this time, here are a few favorite pics from past visits to celebrate May Day 2020 with flowers…

Butchart Gardens, (Vancouver Island, Canada)

Norfolk Botanical Gardens (Norfolk, VA)

Maymont Park (Richmond, VA)

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (Richmond, VA)

Governor’s Palace Garden (Williamsburg, VA)

National Arboretum (Washington, D.C.)

grace, peace & May flowers

Virginia : )

“Spring: A lovely reminder of how beautiful change can truly be.” (Anonymous)

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” Audrey Hepburn

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“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”  J.R.R. Tolkien

How to decide what to do?

So many things are out of our control, especially in these days of coronavirus challenges and economic travail. But before lockdowns and quarantines circumstances out of our control may also have wrecked havoc with our lives.

People may have done things of the not nice variety that were out of our control.

At times health challenges may have spiraled out of our control.

Stormy weather (Newfoundland, Canada)

It’s tough navigating the out of control things in our lives when unpredictable storms knock us about. It’s hard to know what to do.

We can’t change what can’t be changed – what’s out of our control. But, we can change our responses, attitudes and actions – what’s in our control.

Therein lies the rub.

Years ago this vivacious redhead always liked to be liked. (Most people do!) When I encountered persnickety colleagues in my first job, my wise Papa shared this advice: “You can’t control the actions of others, but you can control your response to them.”

Choosing words with care & compassion…

We can choose not to stoop to levels of unkindness when nasty rhetoric is flying about. Instead we can try to engage others constructively, and ourselves while we’re at it.

When pressure builds up in the out of control areas of our lives, we can feed our internal pressure cookers with worry and anxiety until eventually – poof! – we explode.

Or, like my beloved boss Bill told me many times in the heat of a Middle Eastern conflict zone: “Virginia, go stand in front of the fan!” We can go stand in front of the fan and cool down.

Standing in front of the fan of God’s love, we can let go and let God have a go at taking our worries, hurts, and disappointments. The anxiety that is keeping us up at night.

It doesn’t mean our out-of-control problems will disappear, but (if we ask) God’s love and peace will permeate the pressure cookers of our lives with infinite grace to deal with them – one day at a time.

“Overcome the finite with the Infinite.”  Mother Teresa (Saint Teresa of Calcutta)

(Photo Credit: NASA’s Hubble, 17 December 2010)

grace, peace & Infinite Grace

Virginia : )

“We have all received from His fullness grace upon grace.” John 1:16

p.s. Virginia has been off the blogosphere since an out-of-control case of strep throat erupted last week. A few symptoms tracked with COVID-19 (a bit worrisome) but thankfully once antibiotics kicked in (and popsicle therapy was fully engaged) I am feeling much better. Still recovering but thanking God it’s not the coronavirus!

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