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With Integrity

BEING the LIGHT

“GOD has given us two hands__one to receive with

 and the other to give with.  We are not cisterns made for hoarding.  We are

channels made for sharing. “

__BILLY GRAHAM

My parents told me the story of a gift brought to me by my God parents, a chocolate bar.  I was five years old, and their visit was due to a special occasion.  My Dad had been ordained to the priesthood.  I remember the table set with food for a crowd.

Our neighbors with their daughter and son were there and I unwrapped chocolate bar, and inhaled the scent with a smile.  I snapped to give each a piece.  One for each parent and one for each friend, two for my Godparents, and two for my parents.  The eight pieces completed the bar.  What about you? asked my father.  Even though some tried to give me a part of their piece, I was perfectly happy to share it all with them.  I don’t remember the incident yet my parents repeated it enough that I certainly lived up to the joy felt in giving.  Perhaps we give what feels so abundantly available simply because there is greater pleasure in seeing the satisfaction in others receiving.

The delight to give is apparent in children.

Pastor Billy Graham was a sort of shepherd who sought God’s flock to deliver the faith, the hope, the love, the wisdom filled Bible. His mission’s message continues to shine like a candle whose flame lights and warms the room in our hearts.  He gave so much for so many to receive.

We all can.

Albert Schweitzer’s life is an inspiration of a man with a complete education dedicated to humanitarian assistance.  By the age of twenty nine he had written three books, he loved Bach’s music, and his exemplary life shines on…  His devotion to his work, just as Pastor Billy Graham’s, inspired others to fulfill their dreams.  Their encouragement was designed to light the way for others.  Their patience moved mountains as their faith the size of a mustard seed, could and would not be snuffed out.  Their mission was charged with divinity.  Their humanity called out to humans; they heard the cries and responded with their love.

Like all of us, both men felt the pangs of rejection; their flame, however, rekindled.

” Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being.  Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.”  __ALBERT SCHWEITZER

The up close image of the angel on the tree trunk as discovered in Bible Study on Maui appeared at a glance.  Look and see the signs all around waiting to be found. God gives us the clues.  Angels sometimes are in being the light.  Sometimes they are humans in the light.  Sometimes they can be recognized and when two meet, the path is lighter, brighter.

” Believers, look up–take courage.  The angels are nearer than you think.”  __BILLY GRAHAM

When I discovered the verse below, I decided it was time to read the Bible with a magnifying glass.  I still hope we can all be star-shine daily.  We can.  We can give from this light within us.

“This light within you produces only what is good and right and true.”  EPHESIANS: 5:9

Please share your thoughts with me…  God bless you.

Annabeth the Preacher’s Daughter

Defining moments in our lives are carved in the air to stand as tall as statues.  They are the pillars in our gardens.  They remind us of who we became because of them.  They call to us in spirit when we have nowhere else to go, and their friendship never ends.  Each conversation is a beginning.  Each farewell reassures a reunion.  It is an ever flowing stream.

Friends have a voice that when heard it’s a song.  We can dance to its beat because we know it.  We are at ease.  Annabeth Miguel Sayles sat at the school’s office on the first day of her new job, answering the phone, looking through papers, and wearing a smile with an uncertain confidence.  She was the lone warrior at Horizon’s Academy in Haiku, and many were glad she could muster what it took to do the job so sorely needed to be fulfilled.  She looked like a Precious Moments Angel figurine.

She took to the helm ever so grateful to make do as a widow, a Mom of two adult children, and a grandma of three.  As I recall, there had been a shift in administration.  She amazingly orchestrated all that was needed even in delivering successful fundraisers held on a golf course on the West Maui Mountains in a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for Marilyn Monroe.  Getting along with everybody that came along required composure, tenacity, and a sense of humor.  Parents, teachers, administrators, aids, and students all passed by her and needed her for this or that, and she answered and took care to see that all was done and completed.  She stayed long hours.  Her elegance was prime.

In the midst of school functions, we discovered in conversation a mutual torch: being preachers’ daughters.  I think we both said simultaneously now that is funny !  Something about her natural beauty, her stately humility, her steadfast faith, her sincere devotion to family, her admirable strength of spirit, her common sense, and her discreet attention to the needs of others, set her apart. Her character qualities are imprinted on a solid marble like presence in attendance in my life.  The details of cruelties she endured are locked in a room of confessions in the heart of hearts.  We got it from our fathers who prayed to Our Father.  We were cemented. Keep Reading

Angel Mission and Billy Graham

“Everyone entrusted with a mission is an Angel” __Maimonides

Reverend Billy Graham left footprints traced to heaven.  His passionate devotion reached hearts, minds, and souls.  I heard him preach on television, and remember his fervent authority.  His faith unquestionably poured from a source of love.  His divine calling soared as we think of angels.  I think heaven is celebrating his soul’s arrival.  I feel in my own heart God has said, “A job well done.”  He took his life on a mission and the mission to speak to all about the word of God in the Bible, became his angelic quest.  Even so, he humbly kept his wings tucked.

” Once, as we dashed onward like a hurricane, there was a flutter of wings and the bright appearance of an angel in the air, speeding forth on some heavenly mission.”  __ Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Celestial Railroad

When I think of  the mean spirited chatter, I look away and pray for a better world with devoted to God people.  I pray we can give the chaos a piece of our peace, serve it with equal authority, with confidence.  I pray for divine intervention to stop the madness and bring about more visions of angels.  May we be blessed with the mission to make a difference.  May we ask to fulfill it. Keep Reading

A NOTE TO GOD

I am apart from the part of me

yearning to be complete.

I embrace the longing for the fullness of grace–

as I am yet still hurt by the memories of beauty.

Love fills every crevice from the crib to the casket;

it is in You I trust to understand the confusion therein.

Scraps of papers embedded in thoughts with scribbles

donned star dreams deserted to serve You these nibbles.

I look up and down and around and see all that is to be–

a classroom empty of students but me, mindfully learning.

I reach for the pen and the paper to write to You for all–

I see books on my desk standing tall to beckon attention.

How can I find the letters to compose any essential clue?

The royal paints have dried on the canvas out of the blue.

It is as a blade of grass surging to be its best green foliage,

we humans breathe wherever air moves us to be a continuum …

Like the stars that step forth even in the bright moonlight,

I hope to return to the rhythm in concert sung by the birds.

May my gratefulness be showered in blossoms of dewdrops

aside alike souls in Your Kingdom in heaven and on earth…

I thank You my Lord in front of all these Friends, Your people,

Afar and close in thought and heart, entirely yours from birth…

Despite the chaos, the sun has risen to draw shadow shades;

we contemporaries live to sway the wave that flings a ripple…

Please help us see when we cannot fathom all there is for us to grasp,

Forgive our judgments from present and the past, have mercy, I ask.

 

I would love to know if you have ever written a note to God…Please leave a comment.  Thank you.

QUANG NGUYEN’S STORY AND AMERICAN VALUES

THE MYSTERIOUS COINCIDENCE

How many significant coincidences can you recall in your life ?  I wish we could pull up a chair at my round table and have some tea to reminisce and maybe get goose bumps.

I have told this story repeatedly.  It’s old.  For those who don’t know me, it will still carry the point.  For those who have heard it, skip it unless you like the detours.  In fact, as I begin to tell it , I know I should write a blog about the essentials in moving because I did so far too many times.  Maybe you wouldn’t want to hear it.  I say to pack a suitcase with books, and one with seven days change of clothes.  I wish I had done just that.  One can be an established minimalist by realizing the freedom of not spending precious time packing and unpacking and making things fit where they don’t, won’t, and shouldn’t.

Let me just say that BEFORE the ninth move, the address number was 1198.  My heart goes there because I actually painted twelve gates in a glorious garden surrounding a pool.  Each entrance then with a panel had two sides.  I felt inspired to paint zany designs coupled with cherished quotes.  Oh, I wished to write a book and could never muster the time t concentrate, to be organized, to fully cross the t’s and dot the i’s…

Coco Chanel muttered one sweet day, “Gentleness doesn’t get work done unless you happen to be a hen laying eggs.”  We actually had three on the path behind this gate…  Though we now have seven hens and one rooster, I’m not certain a hen lays two eggs.  Cocoa Chanel of course must have regarded the value of elbow grease in getting things done…  She had a point.  Moving requires the strength of an ox.  No wonder my mother once said I reminded her of a horse.  She thought she was being complimentary.  I didn’t get it then.  I do now,

I decided both sides of the panel to the gates would be a chapter and thus began my solace in life to finally pursue the unfulfilled dream.  Make plans gingerly in life because the scales may tip delicately off balance.  That is the kindest way I can say our bed and breakfast was shut down along with five hundred others overnight eight years ago.  No matter the details except to avert to the fact that the least predictable twist of fate made the last move feel like an eviction. Keep Reading

Farewell Marley

Marley was rescued from under a shed miles away.  He was starved, weak, and showed to have had a broken hip.  My two youngest adult sons spent two days trying to lure him to rescue him.  Our gentle giant son literally dragged him out from under the structure.

No one wanted a wounded animal and his hip had been hit before.  Despite his disability, he spent another two wonder filled years in our home.  He limped and after a good run, he would come in and rest his head on the hurt thigh.  Today it showed to be broken once again.   He must have been stunned.  His amber eyes closed.

Words fail me.

He spoke in a way to let us know what he wanted.  He was a gentle fellow, and a lover boy to our Anatolian Shepard, Daisy.  She is listless tonight.  She must have been near when Marley departed.  We know All Good Dogs Go to Heaven, and I spoke to her about it.

However, our youngest gentle giant dug a grave by our old shed, and he stopped and leaned on the shovel.  I asked if I could help a little.  Both of us fighting a ferocious cold, felt twice as miserable in the first warmer day.  On the lake we saw a white fog, so dense, unlike any other before.  I think Marley may have had a woof about it. Keep Reading

Faux Pas : an Apology for Jeremy

Slice it, dice it, mince it and the texture changes, yet the flavor of an onion remains the same.  In preparing the Romanian eggplant salad, I know how to tweak the crunch to please the palate.  Add olive oil and lemon with just one teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste, and the well beaten pulp of the four to five baked eggplants is truly delicious.  The eggplants are pierced with a fork and set on an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet and baked at 400 degrees for an hour.  Once cooled, it is sliced open, spooned into the mixing bowl.  I let it mix for at least fifteen minutes…  There is a point to this…

Likewise, the mindful storage of kitchenware ameliorates the efficiency in preparing a meal.  Certain tools fit comfortably like an old glove to stir a batter or flip a crepe.  Timing of course is equally important and multitasking at some point reminisces a concert like all of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.  We become better at what we practice more and as a piano teacher reminded my sons, perfect practice makes perfect.  Oh, the stress of it all!  Even with the most proficient care,  cooks, and I dare say, master chefs, have blunders.  Yes, most have essential blenders, but unfortunately, there are “blunders.”

YIKES, what a word: BLUNDER!  It constructs the image of an unseen event, as if our eyes may have been shut.  So true.  In a careless instant, a burn of any kind near the stove or oven, can be assuaged by” dusting it good” with flour; yep, keep a jar for an emergency dip, and voila, the pain subsides.  Oh, but where can “blunder” be stored ?  In the pantry, or can it be discarded?

Mind you that after clearly remembering the location of certain kitchen gadgets so aptly placed in entirely too many kitchens due to moving ( fourteen times in thirty-eight years to be exact), I need to rely on a quote by John Muir in order to make my point clearer about blunders or the more elegant word: faux pas.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it all attached to the rest of the world.” __John Muir

No wonder we falter, even a gourmet cook or a theologian for that matter can be tactless and meet up wit Faux Pas.  “Stupid is as stupid does” said Forrest Gump, and even remarks spoken or written in error are in fact wholly unholy.  Just as I was brewing to write an apology to Jeremy of Accelerated Web Solutions for doing and saying the unthinkable about a glitch on this site over the weekend, Pastor Bryan Jones from Grace Church knocked at the door for an unannounced visit.  My favorite kind because then I can excuse the ruckus of the four dogs so easily ignored by the seven hens and one rooster in the front yard.  If a feather makes its way to the entrance, I too can ignore it with a sigh.

The how “do-you-dos,” the catch up on weather reports of wishing for global warming due to the exceedingly cold temperatures and abhorring the dense, menacing fog then led to the sharing of health issues among us and friends, and family situations, including the announcement of the new Thursday Bible studies at 2:00 PM.  PHEW!  Thank God I had home baked  Greek cookies and Guava nectar to serve.   I held on to my tea towel, how did Pastor Bryan end up talking about Apostle Paul’s admittance of wrongdoing in Romans:7 ?  He blurted something so fast I asked him to let me write it down.  I handed him my trusty Zondervan Bible and he read just what I needed to hear.  Was it a coincidence?  The amicable exchange of stories filled a pleasant afternoon hour and he blessed us with a prayer.  Bless his heart.

I returned to this task at hand to face the same dilemma Apostle Paul addressed in Romans 7:15-16 : “I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do, I do not do but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.”  Okay, it may sound like a riddle, but in essence the blunder dance with faux pas steps throws yoke in the face.  The law of kindness is the one sometimes easily forgotten.

Being “overwhelmed” already admits to be in the “throws of under”.  It is in such a state coupled with impatience that my hand used the power of the pen to accuse in retaliation to a task that was simply resolved with the click of Jeremy’s mouse in a timely fashion.  Being entirely focused on slicing, dicing, and mincing to deliver the strongest message I could, the flavor turned out TACTLESS.  The devil did not make me do it.  The imperfection is within me.  Plus, years ago I painted Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote on a tiny framed canvas: “Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.”

I faltered. I blundered.  I apologize to Jeremy for the rude Monday morning surprise.  He is an asset to Accelerated Web Solutions as he gave his time and expertise with great patience and he went above and beyond the call of duty to assist me in constructing this blog.  The planning and preparation to deliver messages that attract an audience is important to me.  I wish I had beat the giants in the invention of the technology that magically serves a feast of options to suit individual preferences.  Jesus said we would do greater things than He…  His modesty is divine.   His Father too must smile.  I do too when I think of how He invented an onion.

 

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”

__Paul Boese

One’s Unique Star-Shine

 “The meaning of life is to find your gift.  The purpose of life is to give it away.”

__Joy J. Golliver

 

The first memory of viewing the moon in the sky surrounded by millions of stars appears on the stage of every starlit night.  The recognition wakes the familiar.  Similarly, to lie on a trampoline wrapped in a blanket staring up at night calls for a whisper. I remember such a night with my dear friend Rae Whitney, a writer of hymns.  We watched for falling stars…  They were meteorites…  No words can capture the whole of the Nebraska midnight blue.  The embrace felt in grace led me to thank God again, and again, and again.
Years earlier, on a starless night alone at my desk with the intention of writing the graduation speech I was asked to give for the Senior Class of Maplewood High School in Guys Mills, Pennsylvania, I turned to God to ask for help.  With pen in hand, I wrote : “The sky can never have too many stars; there is room for everyone to shine, including you.”  
No one could have known the enthusiasm these words stirred in me.  Was it a coincidence?  What do I mean?
 The irony is few would have known how the phrase that came through me for others, in turn would help me.  I asked God on their behalf for inspiration, and the answer came as in a love letter for everyone to own.  No one’s light is diminished by the light of another.  With humility or with pride or with simple certainty, the beam of each soul shines.  I pray we can be encouragers as opposed to discouragers for others to trust in their abilities, their skills, their visions, and their talents…  I ended the speech by spilling the quirkiest line… “Shine each moment to a shine, you can do it Class of 1979!”
 One of the greatest honors in my life was to be a High School English teacher.  The classroom electrified me as I thoroughly enjoyed teaching the students to love learning the material covered.  To this day I think about Munchkins who read, discussed, wrote, memorized, gave speeches, and participated in all the lessons presented.  Nothing was perfect yet I respected their presence to listen and learn.  I hope to have been the encourager they may have needed at some point in their lives.  Even after numerous moves, I keep a decoupaged plaque with a poem written to me by Michael Woods, a student.  It’s entitled “The Happy Maker”.
 My parents were the models of my prayer life. They sought answers through prayers and I attended churches and synagogues where others did the same, so I naturally engaged in conversations of pleas with God the Father.  My Dad was an Orthodox priest and he told me Jesus was the greatest Jew that ever lived.  I was terrified by the stories of the Holocaust survivors.  I cannot understand the madness of 9/11 because I know God and His Son Jesus Christ could not have willed the tragic, untimely loss of lives.  If anyone lacks faith despite all they have seen, they must not understand Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote:  “All that I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”  Heaven will welcome those who seek the light of the Lord.  I say we can seek to merge with His light.  It is not easy being human; we are imperfect.  We all fall short of the grace of God.  Yet, we are blessed to “arrive” at the moment when we “will” to live by God’s Ten Commandments.

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The Light of Peace

The Art of Aloha…

When in doubt, be the light.  When saddened by one’s own perceived limitations, be aware every one of us is the light of our own  life.  We can’t be all things for all people.  We can choose to be the best we are, and that is what makes a difference in being at peace with oneself.

 Twenty-eight years ago, I welcomed the responsibility of planning the monthly programs for the Erie County Medical Auxiliary in Pennsylvania.  Exactly twenty-seven years ago today, February 7, on a Thursday, our gathering entitled TALENTS AND INTERESTS of Our Own Members, took place at 10:00 AM in my home.  Is it a coincidence I searched to find the album today?
As I recall, I encouraged as many ladies as possible to participate in the event designed to bring us closer to one another.  Eighteen of them though somewhat reluctant at first, did in fact open their hearts to shine.  The photographs in my possession walked me through a treasure chest of a time gone by.
Heavenly Bandora strummed by an Angel…

The art of cooking together with displays of a collection of antique dolls, and another of Santas while there was a real Irish step dancer, a bandora player, a piano concert with a vocalist, a display of leather and beads handwork, four artists of paintings in oil, watercolor and acrylics, and a table with handcrafted paper mache creations, a colorful and elegant quilter, a seamstress of dresses, a Ukrainian array of decorated eggs surrounded by intricate cultural accent needlepoint, and dearest to my heart the crewel works of a remarkable member.  Trust poured in the sharing of interests and talents and the event still shines in my heart.

 In life we make choices that may well have been written as sacred agreements too deeply imbedded for us to recognize.  Carolyn Myss wrote a book entitled The Sacred Agreements.  I still wonder why about so many things.  Does the weather really matter to people who move from a cold climate to a warmer place ?  Now that I am familiar with Sclera Derma, I know it does.  Does it have to be that serious? No, it does not.
God knows our hearts and bestows blessings that arrive even when we are unaware.  That is precisely why we are best to be in the light of goodness.  The Course in Miracles says to remember anyone you meet is a holy encounter.  The past came alive today again as it has throughout the years in quiet times when I wished I could have gathered those lovely souls again in my home for tea.  Their light brightened my life.  Their trust in participating in an event that marked their interests and talents to be viewed by all present was a gift of peace.  Therefore, when unsure about our heart’s desire, let us consider the light of peace.