Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Travel 2019: Maryland, Pennsylvania, DC, Virginia

Hello! Ready to travel to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington DC and Virginia with me - in photos, that is? This post is a bit belated. I'm writing it in September, but it's all about July!

My late mother's family has been having Hess reunions in Pennsylvania for several decades. The first I remember was 1976, which is when and where I became a Christian. Other more recent reunions in 2006, 2012, and 2014 have also been important to me. And this time, the older generation, my mother's cousins, decided to pass along the responsibility for organizing it to someone younger. I gladly volunteered! We started planning last year.

Fortunately, I found round trip tickets from Orlando to Baltimore for under $100. I took my three teens and my daughter's friend.

I always travel with my scarf / shawl, a present from one of my daughters a long time ago.


Butterflies in the front yard as soon as I get to Maryland! I didn't even make it into my dad's house before I was snapping photos!

The day after we arrived, I drove our rental SUV up to Philadelphia to retrieve my sister from Jefferson Memorial, where she had gone for a week of migraine treatment. She wanted to take a short diversion to get our photo at LOVE Park but she was disappointed by the size of the iconic statue.

Another adult son flew up the day after us. We headed down to Washington, D.C. on the Metrorail for the day. The older ones split off on their own while I took my youngest to the National Archives and the National Gallery of Art. I took a lot more photos, but my phone met an unhappy demise a few days later and I lost whatever I didn't upload to Facebook along the way.

Of course the kids were ready to play cards with their three cousins while we were in Maryland. By this time, two other adult daughters and a son-in-law had also arrived.

These two look and act like twins, but they were born 10 years and two days apart!

On Friday, we split into three cars with kids and my dad, and headed to Pennsylvania for the reunion. One son lost his glasses out the van window on the highway. Oops. We had a buffet dinner scheduled for the evening with our relatives before the main reunion picnic the next day.

Here's the whole clan - 70 or 80 of us?

I'm with my sister, who due to her migraines didn't last very long at the picnic. She's still glad she came to see our relatives.

I was the MC, and since I was counting my work at this reunion as my community service project for a seminary class, I also shared some of our family's faith heritage. This started with two tales of Puritans-behaving-badly, but there were some positive ones, too! We have a long Quaker and Methodist heritage which I've written about elsewhere.

These are my mother's remaining cousins, all grandchildren of Charles and Mary Hess, who were married in 1904. These are their grandchildren, and with all the new babies, there are another four generations after that! Unfortunately, one of my duties was also to report the many deaths in the family since the last reunion. Sigh.

I planned a "fun" hike for the next day. I remembered back to my college days when we had hiked at Rickett's Glen State Park, where there are gorgeous waterfalls. I invited anyone who wanted to join us... My daughter tried to warn me how steep the trail would be, based on the web site. Well, about that! We started with my aunt, my father, my cousin's family, and another of my mother's cousins, as well as my own kids. Three of our hikers were over the age of 80. Remember that.

It started well. Let's just say it all went downhill from there. Literally.

I asked my son to take a photo of my sitting at the edge of this small waterfall. Unfortunately, in the process, I lost my balance and tumbled headfirst over the waterfall into the water, miraculously missing the rocks. Two of my children saw me go over and thought I'd be dead. But I popped back up and climbed out laughing, just a bit shaken. We eventually located my glasses and my phone. The glasses were fine. The phone was not.

So I thought I'd be OK....

But I wasn't. The trail descended 1000 feet in the next mile, and it was filled with slippery mud, tree roots, and loose rocks. My legs were wobbly from my waterfall woman-fall. I kept falling on the trail. Over and over. Eventually, two of my sons had to walk me down by the hand. I still barely made it I managed to make it out of there! I did some damage my backside! Don't laugh.

My daughter who is a nurse coached me down the trail too, keeping a close eye on me.

By this time, my mom's cousin had turned around, and my aunt and cousin's family had gone on ahead. My elderly father kept trucking along. He's in amazing shape. Better shape than me, actually.

We were supposed to climb up the 1000 feet along another path to the parking lot where our cars were. I knew I couldn't make it. My daughter discovered an alternate flat trail out to the road. We split the group, and four of us went the easy way, while the others, including my dad, went up up up. They retrieved the cars and picked us up later. Thus ends the exciting hiking saga. Remind me about the trails next time, will you?

The next day, the kids took off for King's Dominion (an amusement park in southern Virginia) in the rental SUV. My dad took me to Verizon to buy a new phone, then dropped me at the Metrorail station so I could carry on with my original plans for that day. I wanted to go to the Museum of the Bible, especially to see their Tapestry of Light exhibit, and then visit with friends in northern Virginia, where I had gone to high school.

I was limping all the way. I exited the subway station, walked six blocks in the wrong direction, and ended up calling Lyft to get me to the museum. The museum, which is six stories, is absolutely gorgeous. I was running so late that I only had about 2 hours there. I could have spent the whole day, and I will when I go back to Maryland next time. I'll have to give it it's own blog post!

Tapestry of Light exhibit created by Irene Barberis with glow-in-the-dark thread

Tapestry of Light exhibit 

The Good Samaritan by Egbert Modderman
Luther's Bible translations

The Bible translation exhibit

I stayed at the museum until closing, then took a Lyft back to the L'Enfant Metro station, then took another train out to Vienna, Virginia to meet up with my friends whom I knew in high school. We reconnected on Facebook a while back, and I knew I wanted to see them! They picked me up and drove me past our high school, W.T. Woodson, before going to their house. Then another high school friend came a bit later. We had an amazing time. I am so very thankful for their friendship. My kids picked me up that night on their way back from King's Dominion.

And the kids and I flew home the next day!

Phew! What a week! What a trip!

Thanks for coming along!

Family Reunion & Legacy Links:

Simple Woman's Daybook, September 2019

Hello friends!

It's another Simple Woman's Daybook! (Check out my posts from April, June, July, and August 2018 and January 2019.) I guess it's been a while? As always, I'm linking this up to the TSW Daybook blog hop. Maybe you'd like to give it a try too? It's pretty simple! 

For Today...

Looking out my window...

We've just had a mild brush with Hurricane Dorian. Our power went out around 9 last night, so I opened the windows to let the cool breeze in. The power came back on before 7 this morning, while I sat in my van charging my phone and chatting via Messenger with an American friend in Japan.  And now it's an easy breezy Wednesday afternoon.

In my garden...

Lantana flourishing!

I am thinking and I am thankful...

My daughter Lydia's wedding is in two days. I am so glad our area didn't have much storm damage, and we should be able to proceed with preparations! Here we are at her bridal shower with her fiance's mother, Beverly, on the left. 

I've known Bev for 17 years (though not nearly well enough!) since we went to church together until about 10 years ago. I'm touched that she suggested driving over to Clearwater together soon to see the Ringling Museum of Art. 

Meanwhile, let's get this wedding going! I'll be at the church tomorrow prepping the sanctuary and reception hall. 

I am wearing...

...the exact same thing I wore in my January post. So I'm using the same photo from then. Grace upon grace. Still so true!

What I will be wearing at the wedding is the "little black dress" that I wore to Joanna's wedding two years ago, as seen here.

One of my favorite things...

My CPAP machine, which I didn't get to use much last night. Amazing what you take for granted until you can't use it! I did get a few hours in with it this morning, though. Breathe! Oh, and I keep it in a hatbox on a side table wedged between my bed and my wall. Not glamorous, but quite functional!

I am creating...

Most of my art work lately is either photography or some sort of lettering. It is often calligraphy on paper, but I also like to do seasonal chalk art for my front hallway. I've already decorated this area for autumn. It is my tradition to put up some of the decorations before my birthday on September 7. It's also a way of wishing against the heat and humidity of Florida in summer...

I am listening...

  • Waymaker by Sinach

  • Old Church Choir by Zach Williams
  • The Breakup Song by Francesca Battistelli (about fear)

I am reading...

...Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson, who is brilliant of course. It is on reading Scripture as a narrative and bringing it to the interior of our hearts. Eat This Book was assigned for my Biblical Narrative class that I'm taking online at Asbury Theological Seminary this semester, along with a discipleship class called Gospel Catechesis. I checked the syllabus ahead of time and got an early jump on my text and Scripture readings the week before I was scheduled to start. I still had a lot of online work to do yesterday afternoon before the power went out. I watched lecture videos and posted on the discussion forums and then BLINK! Darkness! I was just in time!

Here's are a few of my books for this semester. Most of my texts are on Kindle. I read and write at my tilting table, which I dyed turquoise blue and wood burned along the bottom edge to say: "Fill your soul with all good things and let the beauty pour forth." That's one of my mottoes for life.

I am hoping...

...and completely trusting, that God will continue to guide my paths as he has done in rather unusual ways until now. In my Vocation of Ministry class during the summer we had to develop a "Rule of Life" (a plan for consecrated living), as well as a "Vision of Ministry" (what we think we will do with our seminary education). People often ask me about my ministry plans after I finish, and I usually reply, “I would like to work on a church staff as a versatile resource. I want to teach, disciple, mentor, and encourage women, as well as minister to those who are in vulnerable situations.” I believe that professional goal, or something similar to it, would fit my fluid, poetic, empathetic  personality and giftings. 

But I also realize this is a challenge since I am a divorced older woman with 10 mostly grown children. I was talking about this with a friend earlier this year, and she prayed that God would show me a "divinely elegant solution" - I love that phrase so much! It's been running through my head ever since I recalled this conversation a few days ago. What's it going to be, God? What's the plan?

Right now the plan is to slow down a bit. Instead of taking three classes as I've done in previous fall and spring semesters, I'm down to two. This is for two main reasons. I'm home schooling my youngest teen again, which was not in my plan when I started seminary a year ago. But she needs me, and she takes priority right now. I'm not giving up my life, but I am purposely adjusting it. The second reason is so that I can fully absorb what I'm learning by focusing my study time more intently. I love the ministry philosophy in this video, which happens to feature the aforementioned Eugene Peterson: Godspeed: The Pace of Being Known. It's funny that I saw this video last year and wished I could be part of the Anglican communion. And last December I did, quite unexpectedly, end up in a small Episcopal church with a dear friend and her husband, and so many sweet saints who love the Gospel, the Scriptures, prayer, and service to the community. The priest is also a graduate of the same seminary I attend. I'm so blessed.

I was reading this section from my January post and noted what I'd hoped then: "that my shoulder stops hurting." And it did! I went to an orthopedist for a cortisone shot which he said might last a few months, and it's been over six, and I'm so pleased. I did, however, fall off a waterfall this summer and hurt my back again, but that's another story.

In my kitchen...

Here is what is left of my hurricane stash. I think I'll be donating a whole lot of granola bars to a local community pantry, Hope Helps, via our church's Food on the Fourth program!

This is not my kitchen, but my daughter Mary's. I had stopped by after church last Sunday to bring birthday presents for my grandson, and while I was there, they were making pasta from scratch. I tried my hand at it.

I brought some of the yummy pasta home and froze it, and finally enjoyed it with butter today!

Shared Quote:

"Christians feed on Scripture. Holy Scripture nurtures the holy community as food nurtures the human body. Christians don't simply learn or study or use Scripture; we assimilate it, take it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolized into acts of love, cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism and justice in Jesus' name, hands raised in adoration of the Father, feet washed in company with the Son." Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book, p. 18

"Stories suffer misinterpretation when we don't submit to them simply as stories. We are caught off-guard when divine revelation arrives in such ordinary garb and mistakenly thing that it's our job to dress it up in the latest Paris silk gown of theology, or to outfit it in a sturdy three-piece suit of ethics before we can deal with it. The simple, or not so simple, story is soon, like David under Saul's armor, so encumbered with moral admonitions, theological constructs, and scholarly debates that it can hardly move. There are, of course, always moral, theological, historical elements in these stories that need to be studied and ascertained, but never in spite of or in defiance of the story that is being told." Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book, p. 43

Post script...

In this section, we share a link! So here's a good blog: Healthy Spirituality with Jean Wise. Recent favorite articles have included The Spiritual Practice of Wonder and Visio Divina – The Practice and Resources

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.

Closing notes...

I pray all of God's abundant blessings on all who read this. 
Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Questions for Self-Discovery

Questions for Self-Discovery

  1. How would you describe yourself to someone who doesn't know you?
  2. What are your core values?
  3. What do you feel is your life purpose? If you don't know , what will you do to find out?
  4. In what ways have you integrated your core values and life purpose into your daily experience?
  5. If you have taken any personality inventories, such as Myers-Briggs or the Enneagram, what were the results, and how have they been helpful (or not) to you?
  6. What are you pleased to have accomplished in your life so far?
  7. What three goals do you most want to accomplish with your life in the future? Why?
  8. What opportunity do you regret not taking? Why?
  9. Who are your role models and what do you admire about them?
  10. What have your in-real-life mentors taught you by example?
  11. What are your talents?
  12. What are your best character qualities?
  13. What are your weaknesses?
  14. Describe three incidences of failure, what led to them, and how you dealt with that?
  15. What are the three most important lessons you have learned in your life?
  16. If you could write a letter to your past self, how old would the recipient be, and what would you say?
  17. What do you believe about God? 
  18. What does it mean to be a real Christian?
  19. What role does the Bible play in your life?
  20. What role does prayer play in your life?
  21. What does an ideal healthy spiritual life look like to you?
  22. What doubts haunt your spiritual life? How do you deal with them?
  23. What beliefs (religious or not) hold you back from progress? How can you replace them?
  24. How have your church experiences shaped you?
  25. What do you value in a friend?
  26. What do your friends appreciate most about you?
  27. What are deal breakers when it comes to friendship?
  28. In what ways have others told you that you annoy or anger them? Do you think this is valid?
  29. How has your educational experience affected you?
  30. How do you feel like your gender, and its cultural expectations, have shaped your life?
  31. How has your race or ethnicity affected your experiences?
  32. How has your family of origin (especially your parents and siblings) shaped you?
  33. How have your intimate relationships shaped you?
  34. What qualities do you (or would you) value most in an intimate partner?
  35. What is your parenting philosophy?
  36. What have you done to improve your relationships?
  37. If a friend comes to you for help or advice with problems, how do you respond?
  38. How willing are you to ask for help or advice when you have problems?
  39. Is there someone with whom you have an unresolved conflict? What will you do about it? 
  40. What makes it difficult for you to trust someone?
  41. How do you set personal boundaries for what you allow in your relationships?
  42. Would you describe yourself as usually dependent, independent, or interdependent?
  43. Would you describe yourself as assertive, passive, or aggressive in your interpersonal relationships?
  44. Who has made you feel especially valued or loved, and how?
  45. What makes you feel rejected? How do you respond to rejection?
  46. What makes you sad? How do you respond to sadness?
  47. What makes you angry? How do you respond to angry feelings?
  48. What makes you afraid? How do you respond to fear?
  49. What makes you feel like you aren't in control of your own life? How do you respond to that?
  50. What makes you happy? 
  51. What makes you excited in positive way?
  52. What calms you?
  53. How do you motivate yourself to do difficult or boring things?
  54. Where do you fall on the needing safety vs. willing to risk continuum?
  55. How have you shown resilience in your life?
  56. What do you like about your own body?
  57. What makes you feel self-conscious about your body?
  58. How do you feel about your style of clothing, hair, makeup, etc.?
  59. How does your physical health affect your life?
  60. What are you doing to improve your physical and mental health?
  61. What has been your experience with counseling?
  62. In what ways do you self-sabotage your own well-being?
  63. What do you like to eat, and what does that say about you?
  64. What are your favorite forms of exercise?
  65. What kinds of experiences drain your energy?
  66. In what ways are you introverted and/or extroverted?
  67. In what ways are you flexible and/or structured?
  68. What do you do to cheer yourself up?
  69. What is your dream job?
  70. What do you value about your current job or career?
  71. What frustrates you about your current job or career?
  72. What are your views on morality and social justice issues?
  73. What are your political and economic views?
  74. If you could make three laws to improve society, what would they be?
  75. What organizations have you joined, and how do they add value to your life?
  76. What does your schedule look like for a typical day or week?
  77. What would you like to change about your schedule?
  78. How do you handle a challenging project when you're not quite sure what to do?
  79. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
  80. How does being outside in nature affect you?
  81. What natural setting do you enjoy most? Why?
  82. What new day trip would you like to take? Why?
  83. What three places would you like to travel to in your own country? Why?
  84. What three places would you like to travel to in the world? Why?
  85. What role does creating art and/or music play in your life?
  86. What role does appreciating the arts play in your life?
  87. What are your favorite games or sports?
  88. What are your favorite books or other things to read?
  89. What are your favorite movies, TV shows, or other things to watch?
  90. What are your favorite songs, or genre of music?
  91. How do you use technology, and how does this affect your life?
  92. What are your favorite apps on your phone or other device?
  93. Where do you go for trustworthy world and national news?
  94. How do you manage your finances?
  95. What are your three most valued physical possessions?
  96. What do you like most about your current home?
  97. What would you like to change about your current home?
  98. Describe your dream home.
  99. As you anticipate the rest of your life, what do you fear most? 
  100. What is your "happily ever after" in your hopes for the rest of your life? 
  101. If you could change one major facet of your life, what would it be?
  102. If that change is impossible, what would be an acceptable, attainable substitute?
  103. What could you do now to move in that direction?
  104. If you could take any class or finish a new degree, what would it be and where would you go for it?
  105. What three charitable organizations or causes are most important to you?
  106. What legacy do you want to leave for the future generations?
  107. Which of these questions made you most uncomfortable?
  108. Which of these questions revealed the most to you about yourself?
  109. Which questions do you need to answer more completely or authentically?
I compiled this list of questions several months ago, but they've been sitting here on my blog in draft form. I'm thinking hard about who I am and what I want in life right now, so I figured I'd dust these off, go through them myself, and share them with y'all. You're welcome.

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

My Art and My Heart

"Icon:Incarnate" ~ watercolor cream ~ 2019

"Sanctuary" ~ acrylic paint ~ 2016

"I Arise" ~ chalk ~ 2019

"Focus" ~ tie dye ~ 2017

"Full Plate" ~ ceramic ~ 2016

"Faith" ~ hand lettering ~ 2019

"Mesmerized" ~ calligraphy quote ~ 2017

"What is Good?" ~ wood burning ~ 2017

"Sainte-Chapelle, Nouvel Esprit"
Paris ~ architectural photography ~ 2016
nature photography ~ 2016

"Bloom Anyway" ~ found object photography ~ 2018

I uploaded these photos of my artwork as part of a "getting to know you" assignment for my Vocation of Ministry class that I'm taking online at Asbury Seminary this summer. I thought you all might enjoy them as well. You can also click on most of the titles to see related blog posts.

This is my art.
This is my heart.


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