Saturday, April 26, 2014


"I wish I could hit the backspace button on this morning. That is all." 

So started my Facebook status yesterday, posted from a doctor's office.  

Portulaca (moss rose)
My morning?  I wake up coughing and tired. I stumble over to the computer and deal with a handful of stressful e-mails.  I ponder the weightier issues floating around my edge of the blogosphere. After driving my middle school daughter to the bus stop, I notice the begonias and portulaca I bought a few days ago still need planting. I resort to using a kitchen knife to dig the holes because I can't find my trowel. Fresh air, dirt under my nails, lovely flowers in pinks and oranges. But the house needs cleaning, and lots of grading and lesson planning to do on my day off. So many existential crises to solve, even a few right-here-right-now crises. I am feeling rather inadequate. Who do I think I am anyway?

Two elementary age kids are home sick, one quite cranky about it. Teacher calls to say my daughter cannot return to school on Monday without a doctor's note verifying she was sick, due to her excessive absences this year. School policy and all, I understand.  Good thing my kids have medical insurance, eh? Otherwise, this could get expensive.  

Off to the doctor we go, morning interrupted. As I drive, I am so stressed with the thoughts swirling in my head. I growl unpleasantries, translated more politely: Life’s too hard.  Life’s too hard. Then I hear the sheriff car's warning chirp, see the flashing blue, pull over. Apparently in my distraction, I didn't stop long enough at the stop sign? He is very professional, this officer, as he hands me a ticket for $166. In tears, I thank him for keeping our community safe, but yes, this doctor visit is getting expensive after all, even before we get there... On the bright side, we stop at a yard sale on the way home, and the man could see I was having a tough day, so he gives my cute little daughter a lime green desk chair and a Club Penguin book for free “with the purchase of the $1 purple desk lamp your mom is buying.” Home again, I manage to clean house a bit with my youngest son (home sick, but still happy to help), and then take a long nap.  

Necktie lessons from Dad
My oldest son had asked me to drive him 30 minutes across town in the evening to see a play produced by our old home school group. It's a fancy affair, and he needs to dress up a bit, so we're off to Goodwill at last minute for a suit jacket (my husband’s great idea). I think about going in to see the play with my son, but have zero emotional energy to be with people, even old friends. Nor do I want to dress up just now. Jeans and T-shirt for me, thankyouverymuch. I drop him off, grab some dinner at 7-Eleven, come back and sit in my van in the church parking lot for over two hours.

Waste of time?  No, blessed time.  Blessed time for me.  Open the van windows and hear the crickets chirp.  Gaze at the sunset, then get out and take pictures with my iPod.   Read a book on my iPod Kindle app, highlighting words of hope like crazy.   Pop into the iPod Ordinary Days app to catch up on my daily journaling.  (Do you get the idea I love my iPod?)
Listen to Fernando Ortega music (on my iPod, of course): "I dream of the golden melting sunlight / The blue and silver moon / Sweet Grace, sweet Grace / I thought I heard your voice last night / Call your children home / Sweet Grace."  

And I think, this, this, is my backspace today. Pull back into a space of solitude and soul refreshment. I can’t undo what happened earlier, but I can retreat, renew, and go forward into the rest of the story. I've done it before: pick up the pieces and move on. Rejoin the community even. After that recharge, I have the energy for ice cream and quiet conversation at a friend’s house with my son.

Backspace. Sweet grace. Solitude.  Time to quiet down and clear the head, fill the heart. We all need it sometimes.

Where is your backspace?

Virginia Knowles

Related posts:

Friday, April 18, 2014

Day by Day - and Good Friday

“Day by Day”
Richard Chichester

Thanks be to thee,
Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits
which thou hast won for us,
for all the pains and insults
which thou hast borne for us.
O most merciful Redeemer,
Friend and Brother,
may we know thee more clearly,
love thee more dearly,
and follow thee more nearly,
day by day.

It  is  Good  Friday  today,  when  we  remember  what  Jesus  did  for  us  on  the  cross.  Please  take  a  few  extra  moments  with me  to  reflect  on  these  classic  masterpieces  and  poems,  as  well  as  my  essay  on  the   cross: Holy Week: Good Friday

I also invite you to visit my Holy Week and Easter page.
Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekend Gratitude: Easter Egg Hunt, Yard Sales, Homeless Outreach

Dear friends,

What a busy weekend!  I guess you could say it started on Friday, but you can read about that here: Mom's Chauffeur and Courier Service (A Little Encouragement)

On Saturday morning, I took my two youngest daughters to the annual Easter egg hunt celebration in Baldwin Park.  

Our congregation, Lake Baldwin Church, always has a snow cone booth and inflatable slide there as a way to get to know people in the community.  

Snow cone booth

Educational stuff from the yard sales
We decided not to stay long after the egg hunt part of it, and instead spent the time visiting five different yard/rummage sales on the way home.  At one sale, the lady said we could take anything we could fit in a grocery bag for 2 bucks.  We took her up on it, especially with books and stuff for my two little grandsons, craft supplies for the homeless outreach, even some little porcelain bunnies to add to my springtime village.  At other sales, we found silk flowers to use for table decorations for the outreach.  I was quite happy by the time we got home, but my feet weren't.  I had a bunch of school prep to do on Saturday afternoon and evening, too.

The big event on Sunday was the monthly homeless outreach.  My daughter who leads the ministry wasn't there because she is 8 months pregnant and couldn't stand outside in the heat that long.  However, three of of my other younger kids (ages 8, 13, and 14)
came with me to serve.  It is such a joy to have them participate! This is a highlight of each month for me. We had several dozen folks come for a spaghetti dinner (a ton of food donated from another ministry's event!), and we passed out a bunch of toiletry "love bags", Gospel of John booklets, and information sheets on where to go or call for help in that vicinity.   Some of the people who come live in the nearby woods. One of the men was looking for a sleeping bag, but unfortunately we didn't have any available yesterday since we gave them all out when it was colder.
One of the ladies set up a craft table where kids could make little Easter gardens.  I love her heart to serve the children each month!  Most of them live in the motel where we hold the outreach, and I know it can't be easy to be crammed into a small room with a whole family for weeks on end.  Here are two more links to my posts about homeless outreach...
There was a lot more going on during the weekend, but that's the big stuff, anyway.  I still have a lot to do on my "work from home" day today, but some of it is just going to have to wait since my feet hurt more than ever now.

Abigail, Virginia (that's me!),
and Molly (our pastor's wife)
at the Baldwin Park Easter shindig
The big thing I'm looking forward to tonight is a going away party for my friend Abigail, who is moving to Japan with her husband and two sons this month.  Boo hoo that she is leaving, though!  I've only known her less than a year, but I instantly knew she was a kindred spirit and that has proved to be so true.  I love the ladies in our Monday night Bible study, and I'm so glad I started going a couple of months ago.  I'll have to go grocery shopping in a little bit, because I signed up to bring a main dish tonight!  

Other recent links for you?  Sure!  I've been on a roll with some quick posts the past few days...

Have a terrific week!  Take a peek at my Holy Week and Easter link page for some great ideas and inspiration.

And oh!  I can't leave you without this hilarious video of a string quartet. These four ladies are amazingly talented! This is a must see!  I can't seem to imbed the video, but here's the link: Salut Salon "Wettstreit zu viert"

Grace and peace, 
Virginia Knowles

Monday, April 7, 2014

Weekend Gratitude: A Sunday Stroll at Mead Garden

Early evening glow at Mead Botanical Garden,
which we hadn't visited in nearly 30 years.
Free admission, open from dawn to dusk 
in suburban Winter Park.
They are letting it go more natural than cultivated.
I love the variety of reflections, textures, and colors.
Some of the plants I had never seen before.
Stroll along with me!
~~ Virginia

As water reflects the face,
so one’s life 
reflects the heart.
Proverbs 27:19

Three kinds of white blooms...

Remains of an abandoned
section of boardwalk

Daddy and daughter


Same trumpet flower from the side

Other botanical garden posts:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Celebrating National Poetry Month!

So, April is National Poetry Month!  Poetry is such a part of me.  I love to read it, write it, and teach it.   Yes, I'm all in here for the poetry celebration.  

This month on this blog, I'd like to highlight poetry in weekly posts. Today, I'm giving you a poem I wrote about being a poet, a poem by John Leax on writing, and links to some of the poems by other people already on my blogs. Other weeks this month I might repost one of my original poems or one of my articles on teaching poetry.  I may even write a new one!

Meanwhile, here we go with what I've got for you this week.

"In the Poet's Realm"
by Virginia Knowles, 2011

In the poet’s realm today, almost
Lingering on the threshold yet unsure of my welcome
Meter and rhyme still bend not, bow not before my pen
I am not one who writes or thinks or lives in tidy rows
Yet I am as a stranger in a foreign land
Thirsting to hear my native tongue in a different voice
My ears quicken; in relief, I spurtle a reply
A cry to be heard and understood
In the communion of poets
In the creative conversation

For I have no wish to join 
   the company of sharp-tongued prophets
The poets are my kindred, at least in my aspirations
Yet perhaps poets are prophets, too, of sorts
With gentle images of beauty or haunting tales of woe
Piercing the heart
Softening the soul
Lifting each to a deeper Communion and
A creative conversation with the Creator Himself
Who hears and understands
No matter how skilled the tongue or pen.

"What I Have Found"
by John R. Leax
from his book Grace is Where I Live
This place that claims my midlife
labor is not an Eden I have made.
It is a place of trial.
My hope resides in yielding
to what calls me still to stay.
No charming serpent curls
about my arm and whispers
in my ear.  But I am tempted
nonetheless.  Like Homer
I take the stories of my people,
I give them shape, and hand
them down.  What I pass on
is truth made new--half-truth
spun through kind invention.
The world I make is finer
than the world I know.  How else
contain the bitterness, the pain,
the grief?  I have not lied.
I say my words; I seek
the wholeness of the world.
Like Homer I am blind.
I see what is not here.
I see this place by word
and grace a new creation.
That word is what I've found.
That grace is where I live.

Links to several poems already on my blogs...

Peace and poetry,
Virginia Knowles

P.S. The hibiscus photo is from the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival last month. Same flower, edited for neon and heat map different effects.  Just a different way of seeing!  Could we call it "phoetry"?

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