Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekend Gratitude: A Little Bit of Country with Providence

Dear friends,

Yesterday my husband and I took four of our kids to a picnic for our Providence home school co-op -- way out in the country at the home of my friend Tina.

When we arrived and walked into her kitchen, I was delighted to see all the country decor.  It's not my personal style -- I'm a suburban girl who goes for an eclectic mix of artsy, funky, classic, with only a tiny bit of country -- but I love to visit and get inspiration!  I appreciated how her house didn't seem cluttered.  I need to work on that in my home.

Stay tuned for the outdoor fun further down in the post, but first, a few pics from the house. (Thanks, Tina, for letting me do this!)

Dinner bell outside
the kitchen door

Now for the outdoor fun!

The big hit for the kids: a water slide.  One of my kids said she went down 40 times.  I believe her.

The other big hit: a hay ride...

And a trip to see the neighbor's cows...

Does that look like Mickey Mouse spots?

On the hay ride
after the water slide

Having a grand time with my hubby...

And my PHE peeps!

Jenny, Beth, Lisa, Virginia, Lesli

David and Lisa, friends of ours for 17 years

Grilling up a pile of burgers and hot dogs
for a big crowd!

I love these two ladies, and how they teach world history.  I was grousing to them about first grade math, though. I had finally decided to put my second grade daughter in the class this past week, but the homework packet I copied out from the A Beka book (until ours comes in) seemed way too hard!  Triple digit multiplication with regrouping?  No way!  That's when Rowena informed me that this was third grade homework.  I had mistakenly taken her to the wrong classroom on Monday!  Oh, duh!  Why hadn't I figured that out?  We all laughed hilariously.   

This little girl will be so pleased to get back to simple addition.  For now, she's enjoying a blue snow cone to match her swim shirt.

Country living...

A beautiful country drive

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of our day in the country!

Virginia Knowles

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Treasures in Jars of Clay

"Jars of Clay"
by Virginia Quarrier, 1984

"For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body...  

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 

2 Corinthians 4:6-10, 16-19

I hope you are encouraged by these verses.  They are ones that I need to meditate on every day since they are so keenly rooted in both reality and faith.

[Note on the painting: I painted this as a gift for my husband-to-be in fall 1984 while I was a senior in college; we married a year later.  The black water jug and the pink cloth are from a mission trip to Israel in 1981.  All three ceramic pieces are long gone,  but the cloth is in my living room right now.  Unfortunately, I don't paint in oils anymore, but you can see some of my other art in various media here: My Artwork.]

Virginia Knowles

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

When Pink Flamingos Aren't Tacky (Featuring: The National Breast Cancer Foundation)

I know it's only September,
but the pink flamingos are already flocking
on the lawn at Florida Hospital Winter Park!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I've been doing a series called A Worthy Cause.  This time, the featured organization is the National Breast Cancer Foundation which has a great rating on Charity Navigator.  Check out their very informative web site!  "The National Breast Cancer Foundation's mission is to save lives by increasing awareness of breast cancer through education and by providing mammograms for those in need. NBCF accomplishes this mission through various initiatives. NBCF programs provide women help for today and hope for tomorrow." 

I'll write more in October, hopefully with some survivor interviews, but I couldn't resist sharing these beautiful birds with you.  The P52 Photo Project theme this week is Birds or Flying, and what better way to bring attention to a vital cause?

P52 with Kent Weakley

Actually, I have two pictures for this theme, just like I did last week.  You can find the other one, of two black swallowtail butterflies, on my Watch The Shepherd blog at: Advocating for the Vulnerable #4: Dignity, Decisions, and Liberty of Conscience  I think I've written some interesting thoughts there about how we influence others (for better or worse), so please check it out!

Grace, peace and health to you!

Virginia Knowles

This post will also be linked at:

Friday, September 7, 2012

I'm a 49-er Searching for Gold!

Dear friends,

I'm 49 today!  One more year until I am 50!

I woke in the wee hours this morning (around 4:30) and lay there pondering.  I got to thinking about being 49, and a theme for the year emerged in my head.  The 49-ers flocked to California searching for gold, and in certain ways that's an apt metaphor for me.  The gold I am searching for is enduring truth and love.  I know that there is a lot of pyrite, false gold, out there in our culture. I want to get back to what is authentic and pure, what is really a gift from God instead of a cheap substitute. I know that the gold in my life needs to be refined, which takes heat and pressure.  I am learning to stand strong when difficulties come, which they do with alarming regularity in a family our size.  :-)  I hope I'll be at least a little better person for it.  A few years ago I decided that by my 50th birthday next year, I want to compile a digital memoir called "Pilgrimage and Jubilee" with poems, essays, and photos from my first 50 years.   A little here, a little there, maybe I'll get it done.

I had a lovely start to my birthday when the "real" morning finally arrived.  My oldest daughter Mary had invited me out to breakfast at Denny's.  

We both ordered Grand Slams with pancakes, hash browns, scrambled eggs and chicken sausage.  (It's a golden breakfast, in various shades!)  

Roses from my husband
I'm glad I ate that much, because I spent the next four hours waiting to get my driver's license.  I stood in line about 20 minutes before the clerk told me they needed my original embossed birth certificate rather than a copy.  I called my very helpful husband (who also gave me birthday roses) to drive it over for me and then I got back in line again.  I cheered up during the wait reminding myself how much I had to be thankful for there: air conditioning, a place to sit (even if it was squished) and nice people to talk to.  The clerk at the checkout asked, "Did you learn anything today?" I said, "Yes, I learned that it's a good thing I brought a book to read."  She quipped, "And that you could have made an appointment so you wouldn't have to wait so long!"  That too.  Another reason to be thankful: my picture turned out well enough!

My dad's birthday is today, too!  He is 76.  Maybe his theme for the year should be trombones in the big parade?

I guess that's about it for now!

Virginia Knowles

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Charming in California

Dear friends,


This summer, my 11 year old went on her "Grandma Trip" 
along with her 12 year old cousin.
Each of the grandchildren (11 so far, 2 more to go)
gets to choose where to go.
My niece got bold and asked for San Francisco.
My dad suggested to my mom that she make it a double 
and take my daughter, too. 

(I am jealous. I grew up in San Francisco, 
from ages 7-13, in the 1970's.
When I was a child, we visited the City often, 
as well as the magnificent redwood and sequoia trees 
in the national and state parks.)

Back to the summer of 2012:
My daughter and niece collected charms along the way.
(Some of the charms above are from 
adventures here in Florida, too!)

Memories to last a lifetime.

What a charming summer for 
two charming girls and one amazing Grandma.

San Francisco Cityscape with Coit Tower

Golden Gate Bridge on a foggy day

Late nights
Ghirardelli Square -- the chocolate place!

Lombard Street

Alcatraz Island (used to be a maximum security prison)

Cable Car

China Town

In 1973, we celebrated my 10th birthday 
(and my dad's 37th) eating dinner at 
The Good Earth restaurant in China Town.
I wonder if it is still there?

Vegetarian Chinese Food
(even vegan "cheesecake"!)

Chop sticks!

Bunjee Trampoline at Pier 39

Cotton Candy

Sea Lion

Redwood trees
Oh, how I loved seeing these trees as a child!

Grandma in the middle

Note: this is a follow-up to a brief Charming post on my  blog
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