Archive for May, 2017

As I scanned my collection of Italian vacation photos, I came to a clear and obvious conclusion …

I have a thing for doors and windows.

Every location that I visited had images of doors, shutters and iron rails represented in the daily photo album.

But why?

Visual beauty, for certain, as they caught my eye long enough for a photo to be taken, but there was more.

As the doors and windows, shutters and iron gates caught my attention, I was unable to resist the next step. Oh yes, I frequently reached for my camera, but, more frequently, I simply reached out my hand.

I touched the grain of the wood, stone or iron. Often, I would close my eyes and imagine the hands that touched, as did my own, through dozens and hundreds of years. The years of history that went through these passageways might include warriors, the wealthy, the downtrodden, politicians, people famous in their field, and people who lived simple lives.

History can be felt, as it can be seen, or heard, or even smelled.

I live in a place in our world that lusts for what is new. Homes that age beyond fifty years, are viewed as dispensable, replaceable. Today’s home buyers are not looking for ‘pre-owned homes’, but new construction, with nothing from the past, nothing to do, but move in. Established, older homes are upgraded, updated and features such as doors replaced.

History is replaced, disposed of, never to be thought of again.

And so we turn our backs on historical architecture, but we also turn our backs on our history.

It has been said that if we forget our history, we are bound to repeat it.


In the movie Jackie (about Jackie Kennedy), Jackie said, in the movie, “objects and artifacts last far longer than people, and they represent important ideas, history, identity, beauty.”

History is not just the events that happened in the past, it is the people, places and all that surrounded the the events. History is in every nook and cranny of our world, and every thing tells a part of the story from beginning to end.

“Remember your history,
    your long and rich history.
I am God, the only God you’ve had or ever will have—
    incomparable, irreplaceable—
From the very beginning
    telling you what the ending will be,
All along letting you in
    on what is going to happen,
Assuring you, ‘I’m in this for the long haul,
    I’ll do exactly what I set out to do,’”
Isaiah 46:9-10


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Unhidden Love

Dear Hubby,

I am writing this as a bus drives us from the palace (built in 1572) of a count, to a city on a hill.

Isn’t there always a city on a hill?


My tummy is full of the exquisitely prepared, four course meal, prepared by a Michelin Star Chef, served with wines, handpicked by a wine expert.

All who are empty are filled to beyond satisfaction.


My accommodations for this trip have been at the estate of the most hospitable hostess, whose husbands family first built the estate in the 1600s.

“Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.”


Yesterday I toured the private family chapel at the estate, where I am staying. It’s ceilings and walls hand-painted by father and son. It was a place of cool solace on a hot and dry Tuscan day.

“There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and rain.”


I so appreciate this gift that was beyond my ability to receive all those months ago, when you shared this for me. You were able to dream for me so much more than I am able to dream for myself.

Your love for me is so visible through all that I see, and hear, and smell and taste.

It is unhidden and I it see so clearly.

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Morning has Broken

Each day, at the Bichi Borghesi estate, begins with the sounds of such a variety of chirping birds, as I have never heard. Soon after, the dawn chorus is accompanied by a most local rooster, cock-a-doodling boldly from the farm above our apartment.

The light, filtered through the gauzy curtains, confirms for my eyes, what my ears have already told me, morning has broken.

Though my brain is full of fog, the events of the new day awaken my imagination and my eyes pop open fully as my heart begins it’s beat of anticipation.

Another day has birthed wide awake in this amazingly serene Tuscan paradise. 

Once morning ablutions are complete, chit chat with my lady roomies leads us to our morning breakfast kitchen. 

Until the scheduled breakfast start time, the heavy wood door remains closed, building our anticipation and appetites.

Then the ‘golden hour’ arrives, and the door opens with a welcoming smile on the faces of our hostesses.

We enter into the brightly painted room, to perfectly set tables, delicious hand made baked goods, freshly prepared fruitful our bowls, hot eggs with vegetables, sliced Italian cheese and ham. 

The most anticipated delicacy is the hot Italian coffee, full-bodied flavour, the likes of which I have never tasted before. Adding the cold milk only enhances its perfection (and that is saying something when one normally only prefers her essential fluid-fuel with half-n-half).

The volume of the room rises as each woman enters to cheers and greetings and good mornings. The bright and friendly golden walls only reflect the bright and friendly souls who enter in, for sustenance, for sisterhood.

It is home, yet not home.

Morning has broken …

And I wonder how close it might be to that first morning. 

Mine is the sunlight!

Mine is the morning

Born of the one light

Eden saw play!

Praise with elation

Praise every morning

God’s re-creation

Of the new day!

-Elenor Farjeon (popularized by Cat Stevens)

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Good Morning Florence

I awoke this morning eager to see what only illuminated my imagination last evening, when I arrived at my accommodation in the dark.

The image, above, of the Meseo Nazionale del Bargello (in Florence, Italy) did not disappoint.

Pigeons cooing outside my windows, as thy sunned themselves on the warm tile rooftops only added to my feeling that I was not awake, but still dreaming. Of course a nine hour time change, and about eighteen hours of airplanes and airports also contributed to the feeling that I was not awake.

This pinch me, am I really in Italy? trip was the brainchild of my good friend (who also happens to host the retreat) and the hubby (who really just wanted to get rid of me so he could have a week of burgers and pizza).

As one who had never been outside of North America this destination was not even one that I could realistically have said that I even dreamed of taking. As a matter of fact, just last week my son asked if this was a dream come true trip, to which I replied,

I just don’t dream this big.

And yet, though a trip to Italy has never graced my still-to-start-filling bucket list, I am inhaling each and every view, every delicious morsel and find myself continually sighing at everything in view, with delight (and there is so much to be delighted with).

I anticipate the themes of this week to be food, visual delights and sighing.

When one is in a beautiful place, a desired place, an anticipated place, light or dark, beauty can and will be seen.

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I backed down my driveway like a bat outta hell, consciously tapping my knee as rhythmically I could, trying to slow my quickened heartbeat and breathing.

I was in a panic.

The hours before I leave for the pinch me so I know this is really happening to me trip were moving like sand in an hourglass, with no concern whether I was ready or not.

Panic #1
I had just remembered in the afternoon that I had not alerted my bank and credit card company of my upcoming trip. I want to do two things on my trip, eat good food and buy good edibles to bring home, both of which require money. So I can not have my plastic rejected!

Panic #2
I had called the number on my credit card, but, after over ten minutes, pushing every freaking number they had to offer me, I still couldn’t get a human on the line (my brain synapses do not synapse so well when I have too much on my mind).

Panic #3
I wanted to have dinner together, as I will be missing my family (maybe not the first few days, but I will eventually miss them).

So, off I drove to the bank … surely a human, with skin on, would be easier on my mis-synapsing brain! Then I could get home to enjoy a last supper together.

Panic #4
I forgot where I was going on my way to the bank. More specifically, I forgot where the bank (that I have been to … two to three thousand times) was located (synapses, I tell you).

Panic #5
There was a line-up at the bank. I was NOT going to let this get to me. I even soothed the poor man who was thinking that the tellers were not working very fast, by telling him that they were probably slower because there are so thorough!

Panic #6 & 7 & 8
I told the teller my tale of woe, and she then informed me that it is no longer necessary to alert credit card companies and banks of such trips (envision a look on my face that would communicate what planet are you from?). Then (#7) I ask her to please make a note anyway, and she says she doesn’t have the authorization to do so on my credit card, and (get this) … I will need to call the number on the back of my credit card (the volcano was rumbling). Then (#8) I said, could you please make a note on my debit card? To which she replied, well that’s really not necessary (then, I think, she saw the smoke emerge from my facial orifices), but if that would make you feel better I’ll just do that. At this point her fingers were moving across the keyboard, but I am still not convinced that she actually made the note.

Panic #9
I decided to go to the mall, to the currency exchange, to get the cash I would need. I parked close to the door (a miracle), and scurried through the mall to the kiosk. As I was approaching the kiosk, I noted that there was no human visible. I then noticed a clock-like sign on the window … it was 4:15, the clock said “returning at 5:30”.

I cannot even remember what happened next.

All I know is that I ended up in a coffee shop, to caffeinate my muddled, no-synapses-firing mind (wine would have been a better option, as it, at least, relaxes me).

The coffee shop host was effervescent (too effervescent for my mood) as he asked what I would like to order (had he asked me how my day was … it’s just so good that he didn’t ask about my day). I sighed and asked for a tall Americano. Then, what could have been ordinary, changed the course of the day for me.

He asked my name, to write it on the cup.

I replied, “Carol” (not because my name is Carol, but because when I say, Carole (see the ‘e’ at the end? Like Anne, from Green Gables) NO ONE EVER SPELLS IT RIGHT! And I’m okay with it, and I wouldn’t be so anal as to spell it for them, but sometimes, sometimes …

you just want someone to know who you are).

And then, Mr. Effervescent says, “is that with an ‘e’ at the end?”

And the world, momentarily stopped moving.

And the rhythm of my heart, and breathing slowed as I gasped.

And I contemplated jumping over the counter and hugging him, whilst a fountain of tears soaked his shirt.

And, I smiled, and looked Mr. Effervescent right in the eyes and said, “yes, with an ‘e’. And thank-you … you’ll never know how you asking that has just made my day.”

And that is all.

It really is the little things that can change the trajectory of a chaotic day.

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There are times of progress, of advancement, of moving forward.

Then there are other times …

quiet times,

noisy times,

times of little progress,

times of barely moving,

times that seem to stand still.

It is in those times that we can lose all confidence and motivation for the direction we were headed. Discouragement can take over, and a desire to simply give up pervades our being.

But moving forward is still moving, still achievement.

We humans struggle for our timing to be the timing of the universe. It is not.

We are not called to be on time, we are called to be faithful to use the gifts that were given to us … there is no mention of when to stop (no mention of age, or slow progress, or   discouragement).

Romans 12:6-8 tells us:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” 

Basically, the message would seem to be, just do it!

Joy will come in the morning, it just might not be this morning.

Each step is moving you forward. Keep going, tired one. You have gifts to use that others need so badly to receive.

“Cast not away your confidence because God defers his performances. That which does not come in your time, will be hastened in his time, which is always the more convenient season. God will work when he pleases, how he pleases, and by what means he pleases. He is not bound to keep our time, but he will perform his word, honour our faith, and reward them that diligently seek him.” ~ Matthew Henry


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A day to celebrate mothering has become a difficult and controversial day in our society.

It can be offensive or hurtful to those who are not mothers (especially those who wish to be), to those who are single parent dads, to those whose mothers have died or who left deep scars from their mothering (or lack thereof).

I, too, have had this second Sunday of May roll around and felt the weight of my empty arms, after the inter-utereo death of an much anticipated child.

Yet, the celebration is really one of thanks and recognition for those who selflessly give to, and feed into our lives, making our existence possible and meaningful. Really, it is not about those of us who feel personally empty or sad.

Mother’s Day is a day to express gratitude … for others.

The woman known as the mother of Mother’s Day, was never a mother herself. In 1908, three years after her own mother died, Anna Jarvis held a church service in honour of her mother, of all mothers.

Many of us have a mother who loved us, and whom we love. Those of us who have not had such a blessing, have certainly had at least one woman in our lives who fostered a mother-like bond for us.

Though today I am honoured to hold the title of mother, what makes this day most special is that I can honour the woman who gave me physical, as well as emotional, intellectual and spiritual life. My mom is simply the best lady I know, and I am thankful, every day, for her. I can also honour the women who have fostered in me a love for thought, for life, for this world and what is to come after.

I have been blessed to have been mothered, and I am not one who will choose to shy away from celebrating this day, and those who have mothered me along the way.

They deserve this day!


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Some days are rays of sunshine, success and sweetness.

Then there are the days of darkness, discouragement and drudgery.

Recently I walked through a day of the later with a friend. From the moment I saw her coming my way, I could see defeat in her walk, her pasted smile, and the invisible, yet so visible weight that she carried across her shoulders.

I could not rectify, solve or improve the situations in her life that day. And I felt helpless.

We all have those days, weeks or even years, when we have lost our confidence, our hope. Sometimes these days are born out of events or emotions that are beyond our control.

Since we all have and do experience life this way at times, what if we applied empathy to the situation? What if, rather than try to fix the difficulty in another’s life, we simply sat in with them, then started to fill them with what is true?

What if we simply told them how much we appreciate them? express the strengths we see in them? tell them that they are loved?

In essence, what if we filled their empty cup with understanding, truth and love?

Isn’t that what we would hope when we are in the depths of despair?

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you,
do also to them”
Matthew 7:12

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Although spring has officially been the season for about five to six weeks, most of that time has been wet and dark. 

The last few days, though, have been spectacular in sun, brightness and hints at the summer to come.

Finally the trees covered in cherry and apple blossoms, cups of magnolia flowers, dogwood flowers and buds of roses are able to emerge without fear that the rains will take them away before their full beauty can be revealed.

As humans we too begin to bloom, shedding our sweaters, jackets and long pants. We expose our arms, our legs, our smiles more frequently.

Spring is just so good.

It is so good, because it is fresh, because we have lived months in it’s absence. We have looked up to a moody, grey sky, for the winter months, as it sent us precipitation in it’s many forms.

Job 11:16 tells us, “You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away.”

I find it difficult to imagine forgetting misery, yet, I have already forgotten the dark skies and constant rains that have been replace with sunshine and warmer temperatures these last few days.

Thank-you, God, for the joy that comes in the morning after a long night.

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“Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said,

“but where is the lamb or the burnt offering?

Abraham answered,

God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”

And the two of them went on together.”

Genesis 22:7-8

abraham_isaac_11I was reminded of the story of Abraham the other evening, as I was catching the first part of the Bible mini series (a five-part mini series, shown on Sunday evenings on the History Channel … but I watched it on YouTube).

Maybe it is the pictures, the artwork that has been created, but I envision Isaac to be thirteen (like my own son), and Abraham to be in his mid-seventies (like my father-in-law).

Together they had taken a three day trip that was announced by Abraham’s heavenly, and Isaac’s Earthly fathers.

Once the servants were left behind, it was just Abraham and Isaac … father and son … beginnings of a nation that could end on top of the very mountain they were climbing.

Isaac knew that blood, innocent blood, must be spilled and poured out, for their offering to be worthy of the One who would forgive them. This was the only way that their sin-filled lives could be made clean.

The sacrifice of a pure and spotless … perfect … lamb was not something that the people of the time (or any time) relished. The spilling of the blood of one of God’s creatures was not something that the people took joy in doing. The did it because they knew that they were sinful, they knew that they needed forgiveness, they knew that their every opportunity for survival was in the hands of their Creator.

When Abraham responded to Isaac, with assurance and confidence, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” I think he was revealing something important about two relationships …

He had faith in God, that He would provide the lamb, just as He had provided all that was in Abraham’s life. His continued steps forward tells us that if the lamb that God provided was the son at his side, he was still willing to move toward that alter.

His response to Isaac did not result in Isaac asking the question “how would God provide?” To me, this tells us that the father and son relationship between these two was deeper than just a blood relationship, but that Isaac trusted his earthly father …

much like Abraham trusted his heavenly Father.

They reached the place that God had told Abraham about, and he built an alter.

Then they lay the wood for burning on top of it.

Everything was ready for the sacrifice …


the lamb.

I can imagine Abraham looking around, eyes searching for something, anything else to sacrifice, except for his son.

I can imagine Isaac also searching …

and maybe wondering …

At some point the truth would have been revealed … how I wish that the Bible tells us of that conversation.

I do know, from what I have read, that up until little more than a hundred years ago, or so, people did not expect long lives, filled with ease and comfort. Life was hard, it was common for death to come early, and in tragic ways … and that was just life.

Isaac was thirteen’ish

Abraham was seventy-five’ish

Although the Bible does say that he laid Isaac on the alter, I do not think that he, in his older age, could have done so if Isaac was squirming and fighting, and moving around. My son of similar age to Isaac, certainly could put up a good physical fight against his grandfather, of similar age to Abraham!

Isaac had to have submitted to his father’s authority, and

allowed his father to tie him up

to lay him on the alter

I can only imagine the look in their tear-filled, fear-filled eyes.

I can only imagine their hearts,

beating in unison

praying in unison

for another pure, spotless lamb to be provided

I can only imagine the trust that this young man has in his father to lay there

I can only imagine the trust that this old man has in his Father-God to take hold of the knife

“But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven,

“Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said.

“Do not do anything to him.

Now I know that you fear God,

because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Genesis 22:11-12

And there, caught up in a thicket, was a ram.

He provided the lamb …

Freeing the responsibility of Abraham, of us, to provide it.

And He still provides the lamb,

blood spilled out on a cross

A God who knows that it is only by the spilling of the blood of the pure, and spotless … perfect that our sins could be erased.

And there was only one lamb who was

pure enough

spotless enough

perfect enough

His Son.

God’s Test-Isaac Part 1

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