Three Wise Women(!!!)

Hope everyone is having a grand start to 2019. Preparing to celebrate Epiphany on Sunday (commemorating when The Three Wise Men journeyed from afar to bring gifts to Jesus in Bethlehem) I thought these words from a plaque on my wall (won at a Christmas gift swap years ago) might bring a chuckle (or two) today.











grace, peace & wise women (!!!)

Virginia : )

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being our way into the new year

Virginia has been traipsing out and about (trying to keep up) with her energizer uncle who is visiting this week. (He turns 80 this year and is still a fulltime professor in Iowa.)

Art & Chaos Exhibit @ Chrysler Museum (Norfolk, VA)

We’re having a grand time, but taking a sec today to thank everyone for the encouragement (comments, likes, emails, prayers) during Virginia’s recent post-a-day Advent gig. Made it (barely) to Christmas and hope everyone is having a blessed Christmastide (that lasts awhile, if you Google it.)

As the New Year approaches, here’s something written awhile ago when Virginia was ‘is-ing’ it in a contemplative mood.


What was may never be, again.

What is – a fleeting moment sequestered for a posterity that doesn’t look back.

‘What will be, will be…’ so it has been said.

But what is in the ‘is’ of now determines what will be.

What are you and I putting into the ‘is’ of now?

To shape, impact, direct, influence the hope of what will be?

What are we being? How are we being?

When will our aspired ‘is’ yield nows of hope and love?

When what is overflows from the love we put into the ‘is’ of now.

Wishing everyone a blessed New Year with lots of love overflowing the ‘is’ of your now.

grace, peace & love-filled now(s)

Virginia : )

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“Arise, shine, for the Light of the world is come…”  (Isaiah 60:1)




Christmas prayer: Prepare a way for the Hope of Life

“Hope is the wedding of two freedoms, human and divine, in the acceptance of Love that is at once a promise and the beginning of fulfillment.”  Thomas Merton

grace, peace & Christmas Hope

Virginia : )



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It’s Christmas Eve(!) Here at the end of our Advent journey we await the dawn of Christmas Light to shine brightly upon us (and within us.)

Sunrise @ the Grand Canyon

“In the tender compassion of our God the Dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”  (Luke 1:78-79)

“O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.”

After night comes day.

As Christmas comes anew in our lives, may the light of Christ lift the darkness of despair and desolation in our hearts.

Let’s not keep swallowing what tastes bad, or has gone wrong this past year – let’s spit it out!  May Jesus fill our minds, hearts and spirits with the sweetness of His mercy, grace, love, peace and joy.

Remember, after the darkness of night comes the Dawn…

Just after sunrise, Grand Canyon (AZ)

…shining with Light that makes the unknown of the darkness clear and bright.

grace, peace & Light dawning(s)


“Darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.” J.R.R. Tolkien (LOTR)

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Freddie the Frog does Christmas

On this last Sunday in Advent here’s a post written in 2014 about my Papa not long after he passed – it’s still a message of hope for increasing our faith to cope.

Let me introduce you to Freddie the Frog…

(Here he is listening to Pink Martini Christmas & keeping Virginia company.)

Freddie is soft, big, and green – a cuddly buddy. The kind of friend Virginia likes to have about. But, he was actually my Papa’s.

This four foot gigantic frog belonged to my 83 year old bed-fast quadriplegic Papa?

There is a good reason.

Three weeks before Papa died I saw Freddie in the pharmacy whilst picking up Papa’s meds. After leaving the store, I went back in to get him after thinking about how he would make my worn out Papa smile. He did. Many times.

Freddie has these eyes that cut over to you (kind of like Papa’s did.)  I would put him in Papa’s line of sight next to his hospital bed in the living room. Peeking around the corner to check on Papa, I would see him cut his eyes to Freddie and then smile.

Big smiles, with a hint of chuckle.  No small feat when Papa had been incessantly sick since the beginning of January.

Here’s the thing, we have a history with frogs. When Mama and Papa called every week while I worked in Tanzania, they could hear frogs croaking loudly through several thousand miles of phone waves. Papa said that when they got on my nerves (late at night trying to sleep) to remember F–R–O–G:  Full. Reliance. On.  God.

Methinks Freddie helped him during his final sickness, not just with his funky eyes, but as a reminder of what my Papa was all about: doing and being the impossible for God. Papa lived over 25 years with a debilitating disease but didn’t let it stop him from believing and relying on God each and every day.

To me, Papa’s 4 Spiritual Secrets sum up what Mary believed when the Angel Gabriel brought the message of Christ’s birth to her:

Nothing is impossible with God.

Here are Papa’s secrets, based on Jesus’ teaching in John 15 about the Vine and branches:

I’m not, but He is.
And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I can’t, but He can.

And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I don’t want to, but He wants to.

And I am in Him, and He is in me.

I didn’t, but He did.
Because I was in Him and He was in me.

How we miss Papa, especially at this time of year he so enjoyed. His vibrant spirit centered our celebrations and his presence made our presents to each other all the more meaningful. There’s a big hole in our hearts, but it’s overflowing with the love Papa instilled in us and shared in so many ways.

The love of Jesus Christ Who comforts, trusts, believes, heals and lifts our spirits with joy that doesn’t always make sense, but is and does grace and joy.

One December morning as Mama and I listened to Andrea Bocelli sing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” (from his My Christmas CD), she spoke out the words of the refrain, “just like the ones I used to know.”

We teared up.

Maybe this Christmas will not be like the ones we used to know, but we have Papa’s memory, his love in our hearts, and …


Hanging out with Freddie, we will remember to have F.R.O.G. faith and think of Papa cutting his eyes at him and smiling (and Mama smiling here, too.)

grace, peace & a F.R.O.G Christmas

Virginia : )

p.s. My precious Mama, pictured here, went to be with Jesus in June of 2015.

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Missing loved ones @ Christmas

The holidays can be occasions for joy, but also sorrow missing loved ones. It’s been several years now since Papa passed, then Mama a year and a few months later.

Precious memories fill the treasure chest in my heart. My parents loved the holidays and always made Christmas special for us.

When we were growing up in Virginia Beach (before his quadriplegia) Papa would go all out putting trains together to zoom around under our Christmas tree. Still not sure if that was just for us kids, or for him: the Big Kid who loved trains.

Seeing this train @ Lewis Ginter reminded us of Papa

Mama pulled out all the stops for meal after meal of holiday favorites and gifts from Santa. The year she received a special bequest from her mother’s estate she gifted each of with something extraordinary for Christmas: brand new musical instruments. (My grandmother was a music teacher and Mama played violin in the Norfolk Symphony from the age of 15 until she set it aside having the five of us.)

Years later I still have my Gemeinhardt flute, played in marching bands and orchestras all through school.

Music was always a big part of our holiday gatherings. Each year Mama would get her violin out to play with Aunt Helen on her flute when she and Uncle Wayne drove miles and miles from Iowa to be with us. We’d all gather round the piano singing carols and playing our instruments.

(My now-professor-uncle met Mama’s sister Helen while singing in a church choir in Norfolk, VA, when he served as a Navy officer.)

In later years as Papa went from a wheelchair to bedfast, he belted out his baritone from his hospital bed as we kept up the tradition of making music after Christmas dinner.

Papa and Mama made music together all year through. How they loved hymns and carols! In their final years they set aside time every Sunday to memorize and sing verses of their favorite hymns that Papa kept in a file on his big computer.

In pain 27/7, those hymns helped Papa get through difficult nights.

Mama & Papa in their (summer) Sunday outfits (a Christmas gift made for them in Tanzania)

Music was always such an important part of their lives. Living here during grad school, I’d ask, “Hey, can ya’ll turn your music down a bit, I’ve got finals!” as their classical music and hymns shook the walls.

(Usually it’s the other way around, parents ask their kids to turn down their music?)

In Va. Beach Papa had our house wired with speakers all over. @ 6:15 A.M. on school days he blasted the theme from the Rocky movie (Boston Pops full orchestra version.) We would scurry down the stairs for a quick morning devotions and yummy breakfast before catching the school bus @ 6:45.

So many memories, all so precious. I know many of you, dear readers, also miss loved ones (especially at this time of year.)

I’m not sure how thick (or thin) the veil that separates us, but I know our precious ones are not far, for their love resides in our hearts as joy that will not diminish.

grace, peace & legacies of love

Virginia : )

“We cannot wait til the world is sane to raise our songs with joyful voice, for to share our grief, to touch our pain, He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!”  Madeleine L’Engle

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Snapshots & Whatnot: Branches of Light

In these final days of Advent, here’s something to help prepare our hearts for Christmas.


(Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, VA)


“Let us become real branches, filled with fruit, on Jesus’ vine. Let us welcome Him into our lives whenever He wants to come in.

He comes as truth which must be spoken, as Life which must be lived, as Light which must be reflected, as Love which must be loved, as the Way which we must take, as Happiness which we must spread, as Peace which we must plant, as Sacrifice which we must offer in our families and with our neighbors – whether near or far.” 

Mother Teresa (Saint Teresa of Calcutta)

Here’s to reflecting the Love of Christ as branches of His Light…

grace, peace & busy branches

Virginia : )

p.s. Virginia’s post-a-day Advent gig is almost up. Christmas is almost here! Thanks for all the encouragement along the way. Blessings to all!

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