Sunday, December 23, 2018

We Can Rise (Advent Poem 2018)

We Can Rise
by Virginia Knowles, Advent 2018

We can rise because he descended
Glory upon Glory dwelling in a tiny child
Meek and mild in a manger.
This is the exquisite mystery of
The Son of God and Son of Man
Redeeming the ashes of death through his birth
And so we rise to new life

We can rise because he descended
The Shepherd Savior rescuing his lambs
From the dark and rocky crevices
Where evil lurks and thorns entangle
He longs to lead us home to safe haven
Gentle yet strong arms free us, lift us up
And so we rise in new liberty

We can rise because he descended
As the Great Physician tending the sick
He heals the wounded heart and yet much more
He brings a fullness and wellness
By sacrificing himself, his very life, body and blood
Then rising victorious over sin and death
And so we rise in new strength

We can rise because he descended
As the sovereign Head of his new body
Gathered together from saints made new
Living temple, royal priests rising to serve
Rising to descend as he did
To lift others to his life and liberty and strength
And so we rise in new love.

And though we too descend again and again
Still we rise and rise and rise and rise.

My other Advent poems:

Friday, October 5, 2018

My Birthday Weekend in Maryland in September

Dear friends,

I'm a little late posting this, since it's been almost a month! I just didn't get finished editing. Not that you were holding your breath or anything...

So anyway, in my Simple Woman's Day Book post for August, I mentioned that I planned to go to Sarasota and St. Petersburg, Florida for my birthday weekend in September to see art museums and botanical gardens. I booked my hotel room and planned my itinerary - and then I changed my mind. 

Instead, I found a cheap flight on Frontier and decided to go "up home" to Maryland to see my sister Barb and my dad and their families. Dad and I share a birthday, so we were able to celebrate together! I got there on a Thursday evening and left there around Sunday noon. 

En route, in Orlando airport -
with only my backpack for luggage.

On Friday, my birthday, I spent the day with my sister. She had an appointment in historic Sykesville, so I wandered the boutiques and the indie bookstore A Likely Story until she was done. Then we enjoyed crepes at the French Twist cafe.

A Likely Story

My sister Barb at the French Twist

St. Paul's United Methodist Church

Next we went to Barnes & Noble to get some presents for my dad. She and her kids and I all bought him magazines, because she remembered he once told her the birthday cards were a waste of money when you could buy a magazine instead. She bought him an ancestry one, and I bought one on military heritage - both of them are interests of his. I splurged on copies of Bella Grace and Southern Cottage. 

We all met up at Bob Evans for our birthday dinner!

my Maryland family

On Saturday, my nephew Doug (a high school English teacher) kindly drove me down to the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC. He loves it as much as I do. 

The cathedral is full of creative beauty - so I still got my art fix. I accomplished my goals and got to see my family!

The Behind the Scenes tour was full, which is just as well since we could instead go to the very first ever African-American tour there. One thing that made a profound impression on me is that Ms. Williams would simply say, "Walk with me," when it was time to go to the next part of the cathedral. It was like she was saying, "Come along on this journey and learn with me..."

Doug and I with tour guide Jackie Williams -
note that I am wearing my rose window T-shirt from
Notre Dame, since I am a cathedral & stained glass lover.

Mosaics portraying Biblical characters
as people of color (which they were)

Needlepoint kneeler pillow honoring the legacy of
African-American educator Mary McLeod Bethune

Francis Asbury
Early Methodist circuit riding preacher
Namesake of my seminary and my church.

After our visit at the National Cathedral, Doug surprised me with a trip to the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America. The buildings and gardens are beautiful and inspiring!

We picked up Chipotle on the way back to my sister's house, where I hung out for the evening with her family.

The next morning, I attended New Hope Lutheran with my dad and Anny. I love to see what they have created with their hands recently: blankets, quilts, baby kits, school kits, homeless outreach bags, and much more. They will be donated to both global and local community relief organizations. Anny personally knitted up a bunch of baby hats and I think she worked on the blankets, too.

And then, shortly after that, it was time to go back to the airport to fly home to my Florida family!

I hope you enjoyed the pretty pictures!


Friday, August 10, 2018

Simple Woman's Day Book ~ August 2018

Hello friends!

I'm back with another Simple Woman's Daybook! (Check out my first one from April and my second one from June, and my third one from July)

I'm linking this up to the TSW Daybook blog hop. Maybe you'd like to give it a try too? It's SIMPLE! I'm just following the prompts! I must confess, though, that I have rearranged the sections due to what I'm writing about and how each part connects with the others this time around.

For Today...

Looking out my window...

Looking out through the arch window in our front door, I can stand on tiptoe and see who's there after our faithful watchdog Persephone starts barking.

I am thinking...

...that it's been a long day. A really long day...

My three teens started back to school this morning. The one in the middle is starting 7th grade, and returning to public school for the first time since 2nd grade. (I've been home schooling her.) It's quite a transition for her, but she's handling it as confidently as she can! 

She didn't have to leave the house until 8:30, but she was up at 5:30 with a plate of yummy scrambled eggs for me. We took this photo around 6:30 , when her older brother and sister (a sophomore and senior) left for their bus.

I am wearing...

...a cute banana print skirt that I found at Forever 21 (Ha! I'm 54!) while school shopping with my kids last week. I've also got on a scoop neck black shirt that I bought at Walmart to wear with it. Funny thing is that two of my children used to be banana-phobic. Yes, that is a thing. It's gotten better, but they're still like, "Ewwww!"

I am thankful...

My van battery was dead when I went to drive my youngest daughter to her new bus stop. Her oldest brother drove her instead, helped me jump the van, and then picked her up at school later when she missed her bus home and I was delayed at work because my battery died again. Their dad scouted out battery deals and helped me get it replaced at AutoZone in the evening after it died the third time. I'm now good to go, and thankful for their help.

Little metaphor here: the first time I jumped it, I had a hard time determining which terminal was the positive one because I couldn't find the + sign. My son was looking from a different angle and found it tucked under the edge of a terminal. So I guess I can say I was looking for the positive - and found it with a little help and a new perspective. After that, jumping the van was easy peasy lemon squeezy.

I am creating...

...photographic memories to encourage others. 

These are from last night's "table church" - a delicious meal, Bible study, worship, prayer, and communion with friends in a home near downtown Orlando.

I am listening... a song we sang at table church last night!


I am learning...

I am also listening to a lot of people on the phone in my job on the United Way 2-1-1 crisis and referral line. So much heartache and difficulty out there! On Tuesday, I had a class on handling suicide calls, which was the ending session of two weeks of formal 2-1-1 training. 

On Wednesday, I supplemented that by attending an 8 hour Mental Health First Aid workshop sponsored by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Rollins College Psychology Department. This class was not required for me. I just want to be more equipped to temporarily assist people through crises (such as suicide contemplation, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, psychotic episodes, substance abuse emergencies) until they can get professional help. I have so much more to learn. I'm glad they provided us with a workshop book to read at home, which also has dozens of web sites for further information. These classes, originally developed in Australia, are available all over the USA and in many other countries. Check to see if there are any scheduled in your area!

Marie Dudek Brown

I am hoping...

Chihuly collection in St. Petersburg, Florida

...and actually planning to go to the Florida gulf coast for a weekend next month to see art museums, botanical gardens, and the beach. I'd love to be able to travel much farther (Europe!) to see world class museums, but I realize there is so much to see within driving distance right here in Florida. This trip, a birthday present to myself, will also commemorate some of the transitions in my life this year, including going back to work and starting seminary.

Here's my plan...

St. Petersburg:

In my kitchen...

I love taking photos with light and shadow... In this one in my darkened kitchen, the pattern on the glass pie plate is projected onto the mixing bowl sitting on top of it.

Shared quote...
“I live my life in growing orbits which move out over this wondrous world, I am circling around God, around ancient towers and I have been circling for a thousand years. And I still don't know if I am an eagle or a storm or a great song.”
“She who reconciles the ill-matched threads of her life, and weaves them gratefully into a single cloth— it’s she who drives the loudmouths from the hall and clears it for a different celebration where the one guest is you. In the softness of evening it’s you she receives. You are the partner of her loneliness, the unspeaking center of her monologues. With each disclosure you encompass more and she stretches beyond what limits her, to hold you.”
Ranier Maria Rilke, Book of Hours: Love Poems to God

A moment from my day...

...sitting in my bedroom, with my daughter cross-legged on my bed, telling me about her first day of school. Despite all of the challenges and transitions, I think we're going to make it this year.

Closing notes...

This is me about 40 years ago. Times sure have changed. I didn't even imagine then that I'd have 10 teen and adult children or six grandchildren. I'm a blessed mama.

Wherever your own life is taking you, or wherever you are taking your life, I pray you will be abundantly blessed.

Post script...

If you enjoyed reading my daybook and would like to create one of your own, HERE is the link to the format, guidelines and complete list of prompts. 

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

Monday, July 9, 2018

Simple Woman's Daybook - July 2018

Hello friends!

I'm back with another Simple Woman's Daybook! (Check out my first one from April and my second one from June

simple-woman-daybook-large.jpgI'm linking this up to the TSW Daybook blog hopMaybe you'd like to give it a try too? It's SIMPLE! I'm just following the prompts! I must confess, though, that I have rearranged the sections due to what I'm writing about and how each part connects with the others this time around.

For Today...

Looking out my window...

I am thinking...

Last time I mused that the summer can slip by so easily... And it has! School starts again in just a month, and I need to register my youngest daughter for 7th grade. It's going to be a big transition from home school to public school for her. But for now, the immediate need is for me to gather test scores, residency documents, and shot records. Which means she needs shots. No fun. She's getting them this week.

One of my favorite things...

Or three.

The "do more of what makes you happy" dish was a gift from one of my daughters, and looking at it makes me happy.

I bought the little blue vase on the night I realized I needed to go to seminary. It is kind of like a memorial stone for me. I chose the silk peony for it since it's my favorite flower, even though I've never grown any. I always love seeing pictures of peonies on Facebook.

All of these are on my bedside table - the first thing I see when I wake up, the last thing I see before I go to sleep.

I am wearing...

I'm wearing an soft-textured dark-colored floral pullover and a pair of loose silky black pants. I haven't changed out of my office clothes for the day since they are so comfortable! 

I also ordered a new swimsuit from Amazon, since I was having a hard time finding my size locally. It's not 100% perfect fit, but as good as I'm going to get. It's black and white, and I plan to wear a black cami under it for better coverage. I was trying it on to see if it fit, and then got a long phone call, so I had it on for quite a while. Comfortable enough!

I am thankful...

I am thankful for my new job at Heart of Florida United Way 2-1-1. I had been looking for a part-time job for a while, after over 30 year of being a (mostly) stay-at-home mom. I knew about a big job fair downtown, but that morning was super busy and I was taking my daughter somewhere in the afternoon. I balked at going, but at the last minute, I tweaked and printed my resume, put on some business clothes, packed my brief case, and went! 

I'm glad I did, because United Way was the first booth I visited, and I knew when they handed me the job description that it was exactly what I wanted. I applied and did a mini-interview on the spot, and was hired less than a week later to work about 17 hours a week. The job is answering crisis and referral calls, which could be anything from someone needing help with their electric bill to someone contemplating suicide. That, of course, takes some special training, which starts in two weeks. So for the past two weeks, I have been reading training manuals and doing outgoing follow-up calls. I check to see if our clients have received the assistance they were requesting, and if they were satisfied with the 2-1-1 service. Today I talked to a precious 94 year old lady who is lovingly caring for her husband of 73 years, even though he has dementia. She is so thankful for the referral to Meals on Wheels. I love my job!

I am creating...

I'm still working on my newest blog, a multi-faceted devotional Bible study called Wisdom from James. Two chapters down, three to go!

I am listening...

"Found Tonight" is an amazing mash-up of "The Story Of Tonight" by Lin-Manuel Miranda from "Hamilton" and "You Will Be Found" by Ben Platt from "Dear Evan Hansen". The two songs go together so well, and it's my absolute favorite song to listen to while driving to work since it helps me think of the people I will be serving on the phone. 

A snippet of the lyrics...

Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
When you're broken on the ground
You will be found
So let the sun come streaming in
'Cause you'll reach up and you'll rise again
If you only look around
You will be found

And when our children tell their story
You will be found
They'll tell the story of tonight
Oh, no matter what they tell you
Tomorrow there'll be more of us
Telling the story of tonight
The story of tonight

I am hoping...

Like so many of you, I've been glued to the news of the boys' soccer team trapped in a water-filled cave in Thailand. As of now, eight boys have been rescued by expert divers, and there are four more boys and their coach waiting for rescue. The whole world is hoping that they will be brought to safety and that all of them will make a full recovery after over two weeks of hunger, darkness, and fear. It's what makes the song "Found Tonight" even more poignant.

Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
When you're broken on the ground
You will be found

At the same time, I remember that these are not the only children in Thailand who need rescue. "Thailand is a major source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor." Find out more here: Destiny Rescue / Thailand.

I am learning...

I was going to write about learning how to use the Trello online software to organize my tasks, but I remembered I already wrote about it in a post on my This Mom Grows Up blog. You can find that post here: This Mom Starts a New Chapter.

However, related to this, I'm still trying to learn to make the best use of my time, especially since I am starting three classes at seminary in September. I already bought all of my textbooks. One of the recent arrivals for my Church History class is The Rule of St. Benedict. I knew already that it has much to say about living an orderly life, but after skimming through it, I'll just say I'm really glad I don't live in a Benedictine monastery. So many rules! Such a rigid schedule! Eek! I just don't function that way. 

In my kitchen...

A little cooking inspiration? I think I'm going to try some of these ideas to replace my sandwich when I pack lunches for work!

Post script...

This is the part of the daybook where we're encouraged to pass along a favorite link. So this month, it's my new employer, Heart of Florida United WayPlease check out what we do, and how you can participate!

Shared quote...

Since I'm featuring United Way today, I have to share a poem that is on an award plaque from City Year. It's one I often included in my literature unit studies when I taught home school co-op classes. I'm glad to see it each day as I step off the elevator at work.

The Bridge Builder

An old man going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”

A moment from my day

A dear friend - the one who inspired me to go to seminary - called to check in on me. Yesterday, she drove 14 hours up to Asbury Seminary's main campus in Wilmore, Kentucky. She's taking her last class, a week-long intensive in Christian leadership, for her MDiv degree. It was so good to talk with her about a bunch of different things. I am so thankful for her friendship. Please pray for Patricia as she discerns what is her own path in ministry in the days, months, and years to come. And for me too, as I start at Asbury's Orlando campus. 

Closing notes
This moment. Right now. I'm thinking now of those who will read my blog. I hope your life is going well now, and that you will reach out for help if it's not. 

No matter where we are or what is going on in our lives, may we all be Bridge Builders.

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

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