Friday, April 26, 2013

ReStore! Putting God's Love into Action

Dear children, 
let us not love with words or speech 
but with actions and in truth. 
1 John 3:18

 Have you been to a ReStore yet?  Habitat for Humanity's thrift stores can be found in 825 communities.  They don't carry clothes, but they do carry household goods, furniture, appliances, building supplies (sinks, doors, etc.), and books!  

Our ReStore recently moved from one location to another within the same shopping plaza.  The new place looks really small from the outside, but it's huge on the inside, much bigger than the previous spot.

I bought this wreath for $6 yesterday for my front door.  They were giving out cards for $5 off of a $20 purchase, so I also bought a desk lamp for $4, a hamper for $4, and several nutrition books and a video for $6.  I also donated a comforter set that a neighbor had passed along to us.

This cheerful mural adorns one of the walls, and reminds everyone why Habitat for Humanity exists: "Seeking to put God's love into action" by providing affordable housing through community service. 

You can find out more about ReStore and Habitat for Humanity in a blog post I wrote a while back here: A Desk for Mom (Featuring Habitat for Humanity)

You can help by donating household items to ReStore, donating money to Habitat for Humanity, or volunteering your time either in a ReStore shop or on a house building / restoration project.  If you are a high school student living in Florida, you can earn your Bright Futures scholarship volunteer hours, too!

Virginia Knowles

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mindful in the Moment

Dear friends,

Mindful in the moment?

Jim Elliot, a missionary martyred in the 1950's, once wrote, 

"Wherever you are, be all there

Live to the hilt every situation 

you believe to be the will of God."

I try to practice mindfulness.  It's calming to be able to savor the little beauties and epiphanies that come my way.

I recently walked out of my doctor's office and glanced across the street at the hospital parking lot.  And a retention pond.  Big deal, right?  Wait.  What?

Little beauty waiting for me.  I take it where I can find it.

My eyes are attentive.  I tune out the cars and asphalt and focus on the reflections of trees in the water.  My feet are drawn across the street, down the bank for a closer look.

Two ducks glide around the pond, weaving in and out among the water plants.  Do you see them there?  They are attentive to me, too, and swim away in caution.  I see upside down trees, rippling reflections on the glassy surface.

I walk quietly, not wanting to disturb the rhythms of nature.  On the other end of the pond, I bend down to see clusters of orange and yellow composite flowers.  I hear rustling around me.  Squirrels in the tree are dropping something into the water.  A frog plops in with a splash.

My ears are attentive, too.  I can hear the whir and chirp of life there.  I tune in to their music and switch my iPod camera to record mode.  My camera is an extension of me, capturing my memories so I can continue to attend to the beauty.

This is what you would see driving by.  Only a road with a yellow traffic line, a parking lot with cars, buildings.  Unless, you are paying attention, that is.

That afternoon, in a Christian women's discussion group, our facilitator talks about being mindful as a way of building our spiritual strength and learning to rest in God's providence.  I smile.  I know this by heart.  She hands us hard peppermints, with instructions to suck them slowly, not chewing.  Too late.  I've already crunched.  It's a stress response, I know.  But I press the remains tightly between tongue and palate, allowing them to dissolve.  The next one I faithfully suck down to the slivers, mindful of the texture and flavor.  There is always more to learn, even if we know.  So...


Look.  Listen.  Taste.  Feel.  Smell.   You were given five basic senses for a reason: to use them -- and to fully experience all that God has given us!

Think.  Savor.  Ponder.  Wonder.  Meditate.  Enjoy. Appreciate.  You were given a brain, a heart, a spiritual life for a reason: to use them -- and to thank God for all he has given us!

Want more on being mindful of Creation?  Look at these photo essays:
      Also, more food for thought....

Pay Attention.  Be Astonished.  Talk About It. (A reflection on Mary Oliver's poem by D.S. Martin at Ruminate Magazine)

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

Monday, April 8, 2013



My daughter heard "Soldier" by Gavin DeGraw on the radio recently and played it for me on YouTube.  I love the  positive message of the song, and I'm delighted that my son found this version of the video, dedicated to the Wounded Warrior Project, which highlights folks who are doing good in their communities in various ways.  


(If you are reading this through e-mail or feed reader, click on my original post here to watch the video.)

Gavin DeGraw "Soldier" 

Here is the chorus:

I'll get it if you need it,
I'll search if you don't see it,
You're thirsty, I'll be rain,
You get hurt, I'll take your pain.

I know you don't believe it,
But I said it and I still mean it,
When you heard what I told you,
When you get worried, I'll be your soldier.

I'm playing this music video in my English class today since it goes along with our literature and history theme for the week.  (We're learning about King Robert Bruce and the fight for Scottish independence with a story and a poem about Bruce and the spider, as well as the poem "Bannockburn" by Robert Burns.) 

I think this "Soldier" song embodies the spirit of chivalry as it applies in our millennium.

P.S. I haven't done any "A Worthy Cause" posts recently, but I think this one qualifies: The Wounded Warrior Project's mission is "to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history."  Find out more here:

Saturday, April 6, 2013

April Showers and Flowers

“You heavens above, 
rain down my righteousness; 
let the clouds shower it down. 
Let the earth open wide,
let salvation spring up, 
let righteousness flourish with it; 
I, the Lord, have created it."
Isaiah 45:8

How about a rain walk
in the neighborhood?

Sounds fun!  Let's go!

April showers and April flowers,
starting with the brilliant tabebuia tree 
I've been wanting to photograph.

Looks like broccoli!


Take a rain walk!

Virginia Knowles

You might also like these related posts...

Rain and Sky:

·        Rain Songs

·        Cloud Conversation
·        One Sky


Neighborhood Walks:

·        Evening Nature Walk in the Neighborhood

·        Morning Walk



·        Still Blooming on a Chilly Morning

·        Longwood Gardens

·        Still Life Magnolias

·        Flame Vine

·        Consider the Camellias

·        Sunrise and Camellias

·        Leu Gardens Again!

·        Cypress Gardens 

·        All flower posts on this blog 

    Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    Kindnesses Remembered

    A lovely miniature rose tea set graces our front hallway table right now.

    I don't even know who gave it to us.

    We found a bag on our doorstep one Christmas about 15 years ago, with toys for all of our (then) five or six children.  Someone was being very kind and very anonymous.

    My seven daughters have passed down the tea set, sister to sister.  Every few years, I set it up in the hallway for all to enjoy.  It's lost a few pieces to breakage, but it's still beautiful.

    And it still brings me to tears.

    Kindnesses remembered.

    It helps me to recount all of the ways people have been kind to our family throughout the years.  Listening long.  Sharing hand-me-downs.  Making a way for my kids to go to camp.  Teaching classes on interesting stuff.  Lending me good books.  Babysitting.

    I am so thankful.  I want to do the same.

    How about you?

    "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality." 
    Romans 12:9-13

    Virginia Knowles

    This post will be linked at: 

    P52 Sweet Shot Tuesday with Kent Weakley 

    You can see my current photo collection here: Sweet Shot 2013.   

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