Sunday, February 24, 2013

Weekend Gratitude: Welcoming Touches

I am home sick today and missed 
our church's 7th anniversary celebration.

Fortunately, church isn't just 
the Sunday worship service.
It's the people who believe in Jesus, 
seven days a week.

Last night it was 
Bart and Judy,
John and Lindsay,
Gordon and Olga,
Thad and me.

We do Dinner with Friends 
a couple of times a year
Just sign up, and they'll place you in a group of eight
so you can get to know the others.

Bart and Judy, 2011
We already knew our hosts Bart and Judy quite well.
They have been there for us over and over.
They have been the heart and hands of Jesus 
to our family for almost two and a half years.
For that I am grateful.

I also love to visit their cozy and beautiful home,
filled with welcoming touches 
of hospitality and inspiration.
I'm sure you'll notice the light and shadow,
in one form or another, all the way through.
Life is like that.

The serving table before the food arrived...

The Greatest of These is Love

A table illuminated with candles and sunlight
I can never resist watching a flame
create impromptu sculptures
of melting wax.
I am odd like that, I know.
Each of us brought food.
Our contribution: hot bread and green salad.

My vintage butter cutter,
inherited from my late mother-in-law,
and tucked in my food bag,
was just right for the slicing job.

We also had gourmet cheese and crackers,
heritage tomato salad,
a chicken with white wine sauce.

And for dessert...

I'll post the recipe for Judy's scrumptious
Mississippi pound cake soon,
but for now you can drool over it here
with strawberries and whipped cream.
I love the blue and white chin

(You can find the recipes here: 
Simply Southern Pound Cake and Divine Chicken)
The beauty continued outside 
on the back patio and beyond...

A big bush of pink azaleas around the trees

I'm not sure what this is,
but I had to wait for the wind to stop blowing
so I could get this picture!
Waterbird wading in Lake Bell

Clouds and sunset change by the moment,
and looking out the window,
I am drawn back out again.

A perfect end to the evening,
eight of us gathering around the fire pit by the lake
to answer random "getting to know you"
questions on little strips of paper.
That was the point, you know!

One last welcoming touch from Judy's home.
I am inspired to think about how I can add more of
this kind of warmth and coziness
and hospitality to my own hectic home.

But I remember:
the home doesn't have to be fancy,
and the food doesn't have to be gourmet,
and the guests don't have to be close friends already,

but the heart has to be open and welcoming.
That is where beauty and love live.
That is the essence of hospitality.

Virginia Knowles

Related posts...

P52 Sweet Shot Tuesday with Kent Weakley

The embroidered pillow photo will be my submission to the Sweet Shot Tuesday photo project Tuesday  morning.  You can see my current photo collection here: Sweet Shot 2013.   

I will also link to the following blogs this week...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekend Gratitude: A Little Lenten Liturgy

The first Sunday in Lent: 
two crosses, 
one draped in rough burlap and royal purple,
the other rising from a crown of thorns.

Two crosses.

He died for us on one: 
"For the joy set before him he endured the cross."

He calls us to the other: 
"Take up your cross and follow me."


Yes, it's the first Sunday in Lent, and for some odd reason, the tech guys have not showed up for the service with the sound system or the overhead projector that we use in the middle school auditorium. The worship pastor hurries a few miles away to the church office to run off song sheets.  This is old style for those of us who have been in church for decades.  No microphones, no amplifiers, so we all move to the front rows and -- unplugged -- worship God, who is power enough.  The liturgy, fortunately, is printed in the bulletin: responsive readings, prayers, notes to ponder later.  The traditional mixes with the contemporary, but all are timeless words, eternal words, everlasting praise.


Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. Blessed be God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and blessed be his kingdom, now and forever! (Psalm 103:1-5)

Chris Tomlin

Open up the skies of mercy

Rain down the cleansing flood

Healing waters rise around us
Hear our cries, Lord, let them rise

It's your kindness lord

That leads us to repentance

Your favor Lord, is our desire
It's your beauty Lord
That makes us stand in silence
Your love, Your love
Is better than life.

We can feel Your mercy falling

You are turning our hearts back again

Hear our praises rise to heaven
Draw us near, Lord, meet us here.

You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" is is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:15-17)

Then Jesus got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”  (Matthew 8:23-27)


During the season of Lent, we prepare our hearts for the remembrance and celebration of our Savior's passion, death, and resurrection.  It is a time for reflection, repentance, and renewal.  It is a time for mercy and healing.  It is a time of looking to the One who soothed the angry sea and can bring peace to our chaotic lives.

May the
Lord calm 
your soul,
comfort you with his love,
create in you a new spirit,
crown you with salvation,
call you to 
take up your 
cross, and
you with his

Virginia Knowles
P52 Sweet Shot Tuesday with Kent WeakleyI took the photo of the crosses at Lake Baldwin Church with my iPod on Sunday morning and then edited it with Picasa.  It will be my submission to the Sweet Shot Tuesday photo project tomorrow morning.  You can see my current photo collection here: Sweet Shot 2013.   

I will also link to the following blogs this week...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Friends: Songs, Quotes, Poems, Stories

These are several of my dear friends
from home school co-op.
Hello friends!

In honor of Valentine's Week, I thought you might like to see a compilation of songs, quotes, poems, and stories about friendship.  I shared some of these with my English students in our home school co-op yesterday.

I also have a Valentine's Unit Study that you might enjoy.

I'm in a musical mood, so let's start there! 


One from my childhood....

And from my children's childhoods (and my second childhood)...

"What a Friend We Have in Jesus" 
by Joseph Scriven

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.
O what peace we often forfeit
O what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged.
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness.

"Jesus What a Friend for Sinners"
by John Wilbur Chapman

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.


A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature. ~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away. ~~ George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one." ~~ C.S. Lewis

Friendship improves happiness, and abates misery, by doubling our joys, and dividing our grief.  ~~ Joseph Addison

A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.  ~~ Arnold H. Glasow 

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.  ~~ Albert Schweitzer

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.  ~~ Marcel Proust

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing... not healing, not curing... that is a friend who cares.  ~~ Henri Nouwen 

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?  ~~ Abraham Lincoln 

I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favor of the kings of the world. ~~ Thomas A. Edison 

So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good. ~~ Helen Keller 

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.
Saint Basil 

Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books - especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.  ~~ John Wooden 

Encourage one another and build each other up.  1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV84)

If I had a flower for every time I thought of you...I could walk through my garden forever.  ~~ Alfred Tennyson

He who walks with the wise grows wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm.  Proverbs 13:20 (NIV84)

Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one that this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  ~~ Jesus in John 15

The tender friendships one gives up, on parting, leave their bite on the heart, but also a curious feeling of a treasure somewhere buried.  ~~ Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry, Southern Mail, 1929, translated from French by Curtis Cate

Yes'm, old friends is always best, 'less you can catch a new one that's fit to make an old one out of.  ~~ Sarah Orne Jewett

A friend loves at all times.  Proverbs 17:17 (NIV84)

The quotes came mostly from these sources: 
(Which one is your favorite?  Or do you have another one to share?  Leave a comment!)


These are found in The Book of Virtues, but you can also Google to find some of them on-line.

  • "If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking" by Emily Dickinson
  • "A Time to Talk" by Robert Frost (quoted in my post Cloud Conversation)
  • “New Friends and Old Friends” by Joseph Parry
  • “The Arrow and the Song” poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


These are found in The Book of Virtues, but you can also Google to find some of them on-line.

  • "The Selfish Giant" by Oscar Wilde
  • "Damon and Pythias"
  • “Jonathan and David” by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut
  • "Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan"
  • "The Lion and the Mouse" by Aesop
  • "Where Love Is, God Is" by Leo Tolstoy
  • "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams
I'd love to read your comments, so leave one below!

Virginia Knowles

This blog post is linked at:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Cloud Conversation

Dear friends,

I am on my way.

Busy rushing.

But I can't even get past 
the end of my street 
before I must 

(It is a blue and white sign this time.)

The clouds are calling me.

The heavens
declare the glory,
sing the grace.
show the goodness.

I pause to speak to these ethereal friends.
A conversation as silent as the clouds,
but I say,

"Thanks for the reminder: 
glory, grace, goodness.
I needed that." 

Just a few words, 
or several thousand words, really,
for a picture is worth a thousand, they say.

Then I am off again.

Miles away, clouds shift, sun sets.

I can peek behind the busyness
and see them.

I stop again.
Go around for a clear view.

Lake. Clouds. Sun. Trees. Beauty.

Even the building
reflects the glory
in four levels.
All beauty, still.

And on the ground, too,
something else speaks.

The message:
It is all in the angle,
the perspective.
I can see it from this end.
Or that end.
Or both.

Both is better by far.

Don't forget to look...
all around.

Clouds, more clouds, and the realities of life: 

P.S. A fitting poem, if clouds are friends... And this is why I stop.

A Time to Talk

When a friend calls to me from the road 
And slows his horse to a meaning walk, 
I don't stand still and look around 
On all the hills I haven't hoed, 
And shout from where I am, What is it? 
No, not as there is a time to talk. 
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground, 
Blade-end up and five feet tall, 
And plod: I go up to the stone wall 
For a friendly visit. 

Glory. Grace. Goodness.

With love,
Virginia Knowles

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