Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Makes Us More Joyful

Giving thanks reverberates off the walls of the soul, creating an echo effect in the spirit. I am not sure how it works, but being appreciative puts a smile on the face. So, what am I thankful for this year that makes me happy?

I am thankful for the abundance of food we have in this country. Having lived in Haiti for six years and thinking of the people in the Philippines after the typhoon, I know that not every country is so blessed. To remind me and my family of the bounty we enjoy,  I used vegetables for my centerpiece this year. The quality and quantity of fresh produce we have in our grocery stores is amazing. We should be so thankful.
I am also thankful for the safety we have to gather with family and friends in our homes without fear. That too is a privilege not available to many people in other countries. We should say, "Thank you, Lord!"
Finally, I am thankful for the family members who can be around our table. Our son, his wife, and their three adorable children will join us,  as will my mother. I will appreciate each person's presence, because you never know when this will be the last time they will be with you for the holiday. I am especially aware of this because the health of my in-laws and my husband's  aunt make it impossible for them to join us this year.

So, notice simple things like plenty of food, freedom from fear, and dear faces around the table; give thanks, and be happy!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Last Kid Chosen

I am convinced that feeling left out is universal. Since my blogging career began, I have read bloggers answering questions passed to them from another blogger. No one ever asked me to answer questions, until today. Finally, Lindsay of The Pursuit of Style picked me. For the sake of transparency:  She passed the torch to anyone reading her blog, but who cares? I refuse to feel like the kid who got picked last.
So, here are my responses to some of the questions she was asked and to some of the new ones she posed:

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?  I would live near all three of my children--at once, but they are in three cities in three different states. Since that is impossible, I would live right where I do, across a covered bridge from an Amish farm.

What holiday traditions do you look forward to? Yearly the Friday after Thanksgiving, we take a horse and wagon ride to cut our tree at a nearby Christmas tree farm. Then on Christmas Eve, we always participate in the candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols at our church. 

What book did you recently read and love? The book that sticks with me is Unbroken.

What is your dream job? Before I had children, I was a reporter for The Richmond Times Dispatch in their Charlottesville bureau. It combined my love for meeting people and for writing. How blessed I was to have had my dream job!

What is your favorite city? I love the cities where our kids live: Richmond, VA; Washington, DC and Kansas City, KS. Of the three, I'd have to vote for DC, because I grew up across the river in Virginia, and loved its vibrancy, its architecture, and its history.

Who is your favorite artist? I'd have to say Mary Cassatt because of her subject matter: mothers and children.
Do you collect anything? If so what? I am a collector of antiques: ironstone dishes, copper cookware, brass candlesticks, and blue and white Canton Chinese porcelain. 
What website do you visit most often?  I check RealClearPolitics a couple of times a day, because it compiles the best editorials from around the country from both liberal and conservative publications.

Ok, now it is your turn. Consider yourself picked first by me to answer these questions:
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
What holiday traditions do you look forward to?
What book did you recently read and love?
What is your dream job?
What is your favorite city?
Who is your favorite artist?
What do you collect?
What website do you visit most often?

If you don't have a blog, leave your answers as a comment. If you answer on your blog, please get back to me so I can get acquainted with your blog and read your answers. Just think. We get to play. :)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Season of Thanks

Autumn is aflame with the glory of God. As bookends, two trees in our yard evidence the Creator's touch and make me especially thankful.

In the front, his touch is illustrated by a blazing sugar maple. I am so thankful I have eyes to see.
And, in the backyard, a japanese maple droops before Him. Beautifully, he has made all nature to proclaim his praise.
Inside, I have placed scenes such as the plump turkey and the autumnal-colored sedum to remind me that November, in particular, is a month to give thanks.
The dried fruits and seed pods in the arrangement on my dining room table make me think of the harvest hymn: "all is safely gathered in before the winter storms begin."
Finally, pottery pilgrims remind me of our ancestors' example of sharing with others and giving thanks.

Every day, all year, we are to give thanks in everything, but in the United States we have set aside the fourth Thursday in November as the national day of Thanksgiving. Especially this month, please join me in giving thanks to the Lord, the God of heaven, for he is good. His love endures forever" (Psalm 136).

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Helsinki on the Way to St. Petersburg

After saying goodbye to my shopping friend in Stockholm,

 we boarded a ship bound for Helsinki, Finland.

We floated out of the Swedish harbor past charming houses,
and lovely gardens which reached right to the shoreline,

passing numerous islands which buffered the ship from the waves of the open Baltic Sea. After enjoying the scenery for about three hours, we ate a Scandinavian smorgasbord before retiring. Our wake up call was shortly before we entered Helsinki harbor. 
The city feels closer to Russia than to Sweden. Historically, Finland was controlled by Sweden for nearly 600 years. During those years, the capital was on the west side of Finland, facing Sweden. In 1812, Russia defeated Sweden annexing Finland and moving its capital to Helsinki closer to Russia. A little over 100 years later, Finland declared its independence, but left its capital on the east coast.

Located only 190 miles west of St. Petersburg, Helsinki is a gateway to Russia. We were using it as a point of departure, so we were only in the city one day. To see the highlights, we took a city bus tour. 

For me, the most memorable building in Helsinki is the Rock Church. The exterior is impressive in its lack of beauty and certainly does not prepare the visitor for the interior. 

Inside, you can't help but be amazed at the sanctuary hewn out of bedrock. The architecturally pleasing slender windows encircling the space bring plenty of light into the grotto. 

When you look heavenward you are mesmerized by the texture of the copper wire ceiling.

The combination of rock and copper result in unbelievable acoustics. No wonder music students gladly perform in the underground cathedral daily over the noon hour.

Leaving the Rock Church, the bus stopped at Sibelius Park honoring the famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.

 In the heart of the park is a gargantuan steel sculpture of 600 hollow pipes welded together, an abstract expression which was to capture his music.

After the city tour, we took a taxi to the ship bound for St. Petersburg, our final destination. Although we could have omitted Helsinki from our itinerary, in retrospect, I am so glad we saw the city. Rock Church and the Sibelius Monument were certainly unforgettable.