Saturday, March 31, 2012

Holy Week and "A Hymn for All the World" by Josh Bales

Dear friends,

Holy Week starts tomorrow with Palm Sunday.  Last year, I posted a series of art, music, poetry and Scripture:

  • Palm Sunday!
  • The Thief on the Cross
  • "I Am!"
  • "Behold the Man" on Maundy Thursday
  • Good Friday
  • The Throne Room of Grace
  • The Resurrection and Doubting Thomas

  • If you live in the Orlando area and you don't have a church to attend on Easter morning, let me invite you to Lake Baldwin Church, which starts at 10:45 on Sunday mornings at Glenridge Middle School in Baldwin Park.  There is also a Good Friday Tenebrae service on April 6 from 6-7 PM.  Tenebrae services are typically somber, as we ponder the darkness of the crucifixion and death of Jesus in preparation for the light of Resurrection Day.  (Childcare available for under age 5.)  

    My five younger kids and I, along with four neighbors, enjoyed the Easter egg celebration that Lake Baldwin Church co-sponsored this morning in the community. We missed the actual egg hunt by about 10 minutes, but I understand that 4,000 eggs got snatched up in just a few minutes!  We still had a blast with the bounce slide, face painting, sand art, balloon animals, and more. If you are my FB friend, I already put up over 100 photos, so take a peek!  

    At Easter time, rather than getting focused on just me and my own spiritual experiences, I like to be reminded of the big world out there with all sorts of other people who need grace and compassion.  So I thought I would share a video I recently took of a song written by Lake Baldwin's worship leader, Josh Bales.

    "A Hymn for All the World"

    by Josh Bales

    There is no place in all the world you do not call your own.
    Creator of all peoples, every nation, every tongue.
    From every corner of the earth, boundless is your reign.
    Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, hear us sing your praise.

    We your people call to you, asking for your help.
    God be merciful to those whose pain we've never felt.
    Give them rest from worldly sorrow, bless them Lord with food to eat.
    We ask you, Gentle Shepherd, all the ones that are your sheep.

    All seeing Lord, now look to those in city and in field,
    Who seek to spread your fame and love, this broken world to heal.
    See your persecuted children, soothe their violent wounds.
    In their weakness, be their strength, that they might hope in you.

    Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, may your kingdom come
    In all the earth as it is in heaven, may your will be done.
    In all the world, in all our hearts, Jesus, you are King.
    We wait, we hope, we trust, we know, your face we soon shall see.

    If you liked this song, you may also like another by Josh Bales: Count the Stars

    Wednesday, March 28, 2012

    Cypress Gardens (P52 Theme: Detail)

    Dear friends,

    Last week I took four of my children to LegoLand for a field trip with our home school co-op.  LegoLand is on the grounds of the former Cypress Gardens theme park, a Florida classic since 1933.  Fortunately, they have retained many of the best features of the original park, including the Island in the Sky ride, the water ski shows, and the botanical gardens.  You can read about the LegoLand field trip here on my preschool/elementary blog: Florida Field Trips #5: LegoLand.  In this post right here, I just want to share some photos from the gardens.  Three of my children weren't particularly interested in walking through, so they went on rides with friends and some other parents. One of the moms, a few other kids, and my own youngest daughter strolled the gardens with me.

    The Southern belle is constructed out of Legos.
    In the old Cypress Gardens, human Southern belles greeted visitors.

    Detail of hands and dress.

    This close-up, cropped from the previous photo
    is my entry for the P52 photo project.I wish I had walked up closer to the sculpture
    and gotten a clearer view of it! 
    The P52 theme this week is Detail.

    There are other photos in this post that I could have chosen
    to represent detail, especially the more intricate ones,
    but I wanted to be a bit different.
    More info on P52 at the bottom of the post!
    Now, back to more photos!

    The gazebo stands in the distance.
    Alligators, turtles and fish inhabit the pond.
    Can you see the back of the alligator in this photo?
    It is the light horizontal line right in the middle of the photo,
    a down and to the left from the gazebo reflection.

    Mom and Melody

    Banyan tree with several trunks: 
    Apparently is was planted in a five gallon bucket in the 1930's.

    Are these vines hanging from the banyan tree?

    The path goes right between trunks of the same tree!

    Yes, that is a Lego monkey in the banyan tree!

    I am guessing the purple flowers are bouganvilla.

    This is Cypress Gardens,
    so I'd better show a cypress tree!
    This one stands in Lake Eloise.
    Cypress trees love water!

    Cypress knees



    The spathe is the "pulpit" and the spadix is "Jack."
    This is because old-fashioned pulpits were elevated booths with covers.
    You can see a picture of one here, second photo down: 

    L'Église Saint-Louis-en-l'Île, Paris

    Lollypop flower



    What are these?  Can anyone tell me?

    This is the bud form of the spiky red flower
    in the last photo.

    St. Francis and the Birds

    Saint Piacre, patron saint of gardens 

    Shell ginger!  What is that?

    The shell ginger plant hides its buds in a "shell."
    The buds have emerged from the shell, but aren't in full bloom.

    And here we are in bloom!
    The colors of the inside were a complete surprise to me!

    Another intriguing plant....
    A little mystery:
    white fuzzy stuff all over one of the lawns.

    It came from the clumps of white fluff growing
    on these floss silk trees.  That's a very
    appropriate name, because that's what it fees like!

    This is the trunk of the
    floss silk tree.
    It's not soft at all!
    In fact, it is covered with tough
    prickly spikes!

    You can't see the prickles very well 
    on the previous photo, so here is one I took 
    of an even pricklier floss silk tree 
    at Leu Gardens in Orlando.

    (See here for more: Leu Gardens Again!)

    Huge trumpet flowers

    More trumpet flowers,
    which are in the genus Brugmansia.
    Trumpet flowers are toxic!

    I don't know what these are since I didn't see a label, 
    but these white flowers ere growing on trees!
    I tried using Google's "Search by Image" feature to identify
    the flower, but it didn't come up with anything close enough.
    Never heard of that?  Go to and 
    click the camera icon at the right of the search box.
    The only luck I've had with it is searching for a copy of 
    an identical photo on the web.
    Always pay attention to detail!  Then look up background information to get more details. You can learn a lot that way!

    You can see more of my flower posts here: Flowers

    Click here to see Project 52 at!

    project 52 p52 

    I post P52 photos on two of my blogs.  You can see them here: 

    Thursday, March 22, 2012

    Food, Health, Jobs, and Family Crisis Assistance Resources in Central Florida

    Dear friends,

    There are many needy families in our own communities. So, I've hunted down several Christian organizations and government programs that offer assistance for food, health care, family crises (including domestic violence), and other needs in the Orlando area.  If you live in another area, I encourage you to compile your own list to share with folks you know.  Put it on a blog, link it to Facebook, send it to everyone in your e-mail address book, whatever it takes to get the word out in these tough economic times!

    My purposes?  One, to connect families who need help with available resources.  Two, to connect families who can donate or volunteer with opportunities to serve.  Most of these organizations would make a great place for a high school student to volunteer for Bright Futures scholarship qualification hours.

    A lady from our church puts out plastic bear jars in Sunday School to collect money for Second Harvest Food Bank.  (See link below.)  Here is one of the bears with my daughter Melody.  My girls took two of the bears around the neighborhood last year and collected a decent amount of change!

    While we are on the topic of assistance for those who are struggling financially, I thought I would also link to three other posts I have written in the past few years:

    Here we go!

    Christian ministries & other charitable organizations offering food, clothing and other assistance:

    • Second Harvest Food Bank:   Collects and distributes donated food to more than 500 nonprofit partner agencies in six Central Florida counties
    • Harvest Time International: Offers long-term self-sufficiency program, assistance with groceries, household items, cleaning supplies, diapers, in exchange for low contributions.  Help with applying for government programs.   
    • Up Orlando:  "To inspire and empower people living in poverty to lift themselves and their families to economic self-sufficiency." 150 W Michigan Street, Orlando, FL 32806 (407) 650-0774
    • Christian Service Center of Central Florida:  Provides food, clothing, financial assistance, shelter, counsel and prayer in Orlando, Ocoee and Winter Park or (407)425-2523
    • Christian Sharing Center: Open to visitors Monday - Friday, 9 AM - 12 noon, except holidays at locations in Longwood (407-260-9155) and Sanford (407-323-2513).
    • Orlando Union Rescue Mission:  "The Orlando Union Rescue Mission is one of Central Florida's oldest and largest homeless service providers.  The Mission provides for immediate physical needs -- including food, clothing and shelter -- however, our programs are designed to lead the homeless to permanent independence built upon a personal relationship with Christ."
    • Haven of Hope Ministries: Provides food, clothing, and support groups to individuals that are HIV/AIDS infected, as well as food bags for those who are living with a terminal illness and in poverty.
    • Rescue Outreach Mission of Sanford: Provides emergency shelter, food, clothing, and spiritual guidance to disadvantaged, needy, homeless and abused individuals and families.  407-321-8224
    • Jewish Family Services: Offers food assistance to anyone in need.  Financial assistance is offered to those who qualify

    Seminole County government food resources

    • WIC (Women, Infant and Children) Supplemental Food Program: provides food assistance for families with pregnant mothers and/or children ages 0 to 5 years.
    • Department of Children and Families Access Program: provides food stamps to eligible persons
    • Department of Food Service: apply for free and reduced lunch for Seminole County public school students (based on demographics, some schools also offer free breakfast to all students, without regard to family income). Many schools offer free breakfast and lunch for children during the summer at Summer Breakspots.

    Jobs assistance: 
    • Christian HELP: assists the unemployed to find jobs, plus help for food and other resources as needed
    • Jobs Partnership:  Innovative approach to workforce development that provides a lasting solution to the challenges of insecurity, low self-esteem, and inconsistent work ethic in today’s workplace. In partnership with area businesses and churches. Twelve week Life and Work class at area churches, includes placement assistance.
    • Dress for Success of Greater Orlando: assists women with interview appropriate clothing as a tool to develop self-sufficient lives
    Health care assistance:
    • Shepherd's Hope Clinic: "Caring People Caring for People", Christian ministry provides free health care to the uninsured at clinics in 9 locations around Central Florida
    • Seminole County Health Department: free immunizations for all county children (no income requirements) and free dental care for Medicaid recipients
    • Florida KidCare: Subsidized health care insurance for children throughout Florida.  Premiums are based on income.  If have low income for your family size, you may be automatically approved for Medicaid instead.  888-540-5437
    Crisis pregnancy assistance:
    • Life Choices Medical Clinic: Free pregnancy tests and practical assistance 441 Maitland Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32701, phone: 321-422-4168, after hours, 800-712-HELP

    Domestic violence crisis assistance:
    • SafeHouse of Seminole: A confidential shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children, includes counseling, practical support, legal help, etc.
    • Harbor House (Orange County): Shelter for victims of domestic violence, includes counseling, practical support, legal help, etc.
    • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
    • Kids House of Seminole Children's Advocacy Center: Help for families dealing with child abuse; friendly, non-threatening atmosphere,  includes counseling, support, information on resources, referrals for substance abuse treatment, etc.
    Thanks for reading this!  

    Virginia Knowles

    Global Hunger Relief

    "Hunger in Africa"

    Dear friends,

    The theme of the P52 photo project this week is Hunger.  What better time to highlight global hunger relief?

    I chose the continent of Africa for my picture because that is where my mind usually jumps when I think of starving children.  I have no idea of whether black beans and rice are staple foods there, but I didn't have any exotic African root vegetables lurking in my pantry cupboard. :-)

    I also chose Africa because that is where my heart goes  (along with my money and care packages) since I have been corresponding with Pastor Headson Makazinga in Malawi for about 10 years.  (See Christmas in Malawi, Christmas in America What in the World Is This? and Out of Africa: A Letter from Headson Makazinga.)  Pastor Makazinga, who oversees dozens of churches in the villages of Malawi and Mozambique, cares for widows and orphans in his ministry.  Please click those links for more information on how you can help!

    Are you looking for other ways to help?

    Read here for information on three reputable Christian charities with global hunger programs (all three are rated 5 stars at

    Do you want hands on service opportunities?  Here are two more ideas from the same organizations:
    I am extremely intrigued to find out that Children of the Nations has opportunities in the Orlando area (as well as in California and Washington State) for groups to sponsor and package nutrient dense meals to be sent to hungry children overseas.  See here: Meal Packaging Projects.
    Last year, the youth at my mom's church in Maryland did a 30 Hour Famine to raise money for hunger relief through World Vision.
    Yes, I know there is hunger in our country, too.  I am in the process of compiling a list of food and medical assistance resources in the Orlando area.  That will be my next blog post!  I already know of several organizations, but if you know of one, please send me a web link.  (Note on 3/23: The post is here! Food, Health, Jobs, and Family Crisis Assistance Resources in Central Florida)

    Virginia Knowles

    This blog is linked to two memes this week:

    Click here to see Project 52!

    project 52 p52 

    Click here to see Ann Kroeker's Food on Fridays


    Thursday, March 15, 2012

    "Rebound" (A Poem)

    "It’s an old Bible, burgundy leather..."  

    "Well loved, well worn..."


    By Virginia Knowles

    It’s an old Bible, burgundy leather
    Not ancient from generations past
    But growing old with me
    From college days until now
    Three decades and change.

    Oh yes, the changes:
    One wedding, ten children
    Two grandchildren in the generation after that
    Entered onto the Marriage and Birth pages.
    (There are Deaths, too.)
    Nine moves, a dozen churches, in three states
    And many more states of mind.

    I have many Bibles in many versions
    Each one an anchor, a refuge for the soul.
    Yet I always return to this one  
    Well loved, well worn: underlined, highlighted
    Small prayers, Greek and Hebrew roots,  
    And faith jingles mingle, scribbled in margins
    Even diagrams and tiny impromptu sketches
    To illustrate some fine point gleaned along the way.

    And when I do not know what to read
    This Bible always opens, as if by itself
    Pages falling quite naturally to Psalms 65 to 68:
    “You gave abundant showers, O God,
    You refreshed your weary inheritance.”
    And so you have, Lord, raining showers and refreshing
    This weary soul from this worn Book.

    In a hard moment
    One of many hard moments in these years of change
    I carry this refuge to a quieter place to read, reflect.
    And I see again in a new light
    The three decades and change of
    Wear and tear on Book and soul:
    Frayed-edged pages pulling away
    Unstitching themselves in great chasms
    From the burgundy leather cover
    Which was meant to shelter them.
    I too am tattered in places
    At times tossed loose by life
    From my Shelter, my own dear Refuge.
    This will not do, Book or soul.
    (Rein me in Lord, reign in me.)

    So still pondering the words on the frayed pages
    And out of respect for the Eternal Word that never fades
    I set out to repair, rebind
    Making sure the loose pages do not slip
    Out of the sheaves, out of my heart
    (Even the hard ones I would rather not always read).
    And when I am done, my fixes are conspicuous 
    It has been rebound, not to look fancy and new
    But merely to hold pages together in burgundy leather
    To hold me together inside my Enduring Refuge
    For thirty more years and change.


    Open to Psalms 65 to 68
    Poet Notes:

    I had already been thinking of writing "Rebound" when I read the "Roses are Red" post on the Allume blog for Christian women bloggers.  Part of the "31 Days to Become a Better Writer" series, it challenges reader/writers to pen a poem.  So I set to it.

    I started with a thought web, the words "Old Bible Rebound" circled in the center, with spokes leading to various and sundry brainstorms of what I might include, like a mention of the Family Record pages to fit the recurring theme of passing years and generations.  Then I jotted my first draft, crossing out and rephrasing as I went.  With prose, I nearly always start a first draft on the computer, but poems (at least mine) are best born with pen and paper.  

    You have noticed that I do not use rhyme (except "jingles mingle") or regular rhythm.  I am mainly a free verse poet, relying on metaphors, parallel themes, and spiritual symbolism.  And yet even a free verse poet cannot just throw the words on a page.  There is always tweaking and pruning.  Not everything can be crammed into the verses without rambling or distracting or breaking the flow.  I did not want your train of thought to lose its caboose.  So I had to choose.  There is much I did not say then in the poem, but some that I will say now. 

    Stuck together somehow!
    In this poem, I use the word rebound loosely.  I am not a professional bookbinder; I didn't replace the cover or painstakingly stitch pages back in.  I  used strips of two inch wide clear packing tape to secure the pages.  I could not, however, bring myself to use the word tape in my poem; it seemed too modern, not universal enough.  Then, too, I hoped my readers would subtly pick up the alternate meaning of rebound, the present tense verb.  I didn't elucidate on this in the poem, because I didn't want to complicate it or confuse anyone.  But here it is:  "to bound or spring back from force of impact, or to recover, as from ill health or discouragement."  It is also my prayer that I will always be able to rebound, in due time, from setbacks and discouragement that wear me down. 

    Tattered and frayed pages
    Perhaps a few more background details about my Bibles?  The first Bible I personally owned, purchased a day or so after I got saved in 1976, was a little white King James Version (KJV) Bible.  Unfortunately, a dozen years later, I accidentally left it in my toddler daughter's room during nap time, and she shredded the delicate pages into hundreds of pieces.  Just as an odd lesson on the worth of the Word, I had her sit and watch me tape it back together, sliver by sliver.  It was, of course, completely unusable, and I eventually discarded it.  In 1979, I bought my first New International Version (NIV), a brown hardback, when it really was new, quite the innovation.  It is certainly easier to read than the KJV, though not as poetic.  I received the burgundy leather NIV Bible as a gift from a (long gone) boyfriend in April 1981 when I was 17, in my first semester of college, at the cusp of the adventures of life.  Along the way, I also acquired an NIV Study Bible (a gift from my sister), a few English Standard Version (ESV) Bibles), a Message New Testament (a rough paraphrase, not a true translation), my grandfather's Revised Standard Version  (RSV), and a few others.  (I never really liked the ESV, since it seemed a bit stilted to me, but it was the version used in a church we attended for many years. I remember sighing with satisfaction once when the pastor pulled out an old NIV to quote in a message, saying his ESV was in the shop being rebound.  There was a redemptive yes in my soul! I was also quite relieved to find that our new church uses the NIV 1984 version; on the one hand because I love the NIV, on the other, because I'm not sure I could go along with some word choices in later NIV editions.)  But I digress. I also use or the free YouVersion Bible app in on iPod nearly every day to look something up.

    So there you have it.  "Rebound" and more.  Can you write a poem about a significant object in your home or one you remember from childhood?  Yes, you can!  Go do it!

    Related posts:

    Refuge and Renewal to you,
    Virginia Knowles

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