Class ~ One must observe before one may teach.

I get to meet the most amazing people.
Early in our youth ministry season, I received a call from a senior at a nearby university seeking an opportunity to observe a class in our program.  After our standard background check and an interview, she quickly became part of our group and settled in with the eighth graders and a few of the best mentors in a youth setting that anyone could ask for.  The youth love seeing her. The volunteers love seeing her.  We all love seeing her.
I remember walking into the lobby at our first meeting and having this beautiful young lady ask me nervously ask if her service dog would be allowed to stay with her. I couldn’t believe she would even ask that, and I felt sad that she had ever had to ask such a question. The dog and I became great pals, and we’ve both been placed in time out for playing while she was on duty, but only once, we got the message.
Today she and I sat down at the same table where we held her first interview. This time, however, she was interviewing me for her class. This was a final step in completing her project. Her time with us is drawing to an end.
Before she left, she let me record a short little “goodbye” video for the youth from her.  Ah! What a beautiful soul in such a caring young lady. She is going to be so missed.
There’s a deeper point to this story, however. I can’t remember the number of places she told me she had contacted about observing, but she told me I was the only person who called her back. To those who did not call her back, I would say two things: First, you missed out on an incredible opportunity to get to know someone and help her pursue her goals. Second, thank you, because you did not return her call, she found her way to our program. Her presence, I know has enhanced our classroom group and I hope the experience has been enriching for her as well.
These young adults with whom we’re entrusting our future need experience, need encouragement and need safe places to pursue opportunities. If you are in such a position to offer those opportunities, I would ask and encourage you to consider doing so. I can only imagine, and I may never know how this young lady will impact the lives of others in the future, but I believe she will be a powerful force and great asset wherever she chooses to be, and we were blessed to have her observe and be part of our program for these weeks that passed far too quickly.
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So much more than coffee

Coffee, a chance to pause, reflect, plan; a time for conversations, hugs, laughter, tears, warmth, strength.  Comfort in a cup for moments of solitude, and a reason in itself to get-together with friends and loved ones.  Liquid energy to stir the creative thoughts and complete those important tasks, and a means by which the beauty of the present moment can be savored, sometimes in an antique china cup. ~  Coffee, the perfect excuse to take snapshots along morning walks and send them to my sisters throughout the year so we can all have a coffee break together, wherever we all may be.   ~ Coffee, it’s so much more than just coffee.

Enjoy a few cups with me….

Coffee ~ So Good

~ Peace ~

 

The last Monday of Summer 2017

via Daily Prompt: Glorious

This evening I was on the back porch, aka my favorite room in the house, reviewing the events of the weekend with the amazing young people with whom I have the privilege of working over the weekend, and checking the calendar when I realized it is the last Monday of summer.  Autumn is scheduled to arrive Friday!   A couple of things happened nearly simultaneously: a sweet text from an old friend to schedule coffee & catch up time, and a strong sunbeam streaming through the leaves.


Both drew me away from my “business” immediately.  Gears were switched, focus was redirected I stepped out into the summer air and turned my face towards the glorious sun rays.

Some sunsets paint the sky in vibrant colors.  But sometimes…..sometimes the sun slips below the canopy and directs the late day rays through and onto the leaves.  Today was one of those days.

If you missed it, perhaps you can enjoy these few photos, these evening views through some of my favorite trees.


I love it when sunlight breaks through these old trees.  It’s as if the rays carry whispers from God saying “I see you, now look towards me”.   And so, I will.

Monday Morning Coffee & Back Porch Prayers

Welcome, friends, to this last Monday of August 2017.

It’s different, you know, when Monday is your day off.  The world seems to be in such a rush; everyone has so much to do as the new week begins.

Meanwhile, my focus is on a coffee cup and how few words I can speak.

Soon enough, I will be searching the news for the hopeful and reassuring actions in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and other situations happening throughout the world.

But not yet…..

Now it is time to sit quietly with ancient prayers and fresh coffee as the rays from the rising sun reach through these old oaks and bathe the back porch in soft morning light.  And I will stay here, where the morning light dances, as long as it lasts.  ​​At least part of this morning’s ancient prayer comes from St. Augustine (354-430) “O Lord, my God, Light of the blind and Strength of the weak; yeah, also, Light of those that see, and Strength of the strong; hearken unto my soul, and hear it crying out of the depths.  O Lord, help us to turn and seek Thee; for Thou hast not forsaken Thy creatures as we have forsaken Thee, our Creator.  Let us turn and seek Thee, for we know Thou art here in our hearts…..”

The rest of this morning’s prayer is a whisper of overwhelming deep gratitude and thanks from the core of my heart and depths of my soul, sent forth on the morning breeze with true intentions and hopes that it may grow as the rest of this day unfolds.

Be safe out there, everyone.  Look out for one another.  Saint Augustine, pray for us.

Soon enough it will be time to leave the back porch, but not just yet…..

 

Saturday Snapshots along the Haw River

Today was one of those rare, cooler than normal summer days here.  The late July breeze seemed determined to dance with the leaves, swaying the green ones that held firm to their branches, and sending gold and red ones spinning through the air giving us a welcomed and refreshing reminder of autumn.  It was the perfect day to go take a stroll alongside the Haw River in Saxapahaw, NC.

A few steps down from the parking lot, and the trail awaits under a dense canopy of full trees.

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From this viewpoint, it seems a clear division ~ solid land and the trail to the left, steep riverbank and rolling water to the right.
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Somehow the sunlight finds its way through the dense canopy to reach the lower plants along the trail.

There are parts of the trail where the sky isn’t clearly visible directly overhead but today that didn’t matter at all, the reflection on the water shows the clouds moving in.

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A little blue sky – a little cloud cover all in the reflection of the mighty Haw River

Sometimes, the light shining through the clouds, then reflecting off the leaves and water makes the entire area, even the air, seem golden-green.  If today were a color, It would be this shade of green:

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Cloud covered, tree framed, mighty Haw River

A little further along the trail, the clouds have moved and a little more sunlight is reaching through.  Early hints of the coming autumn, golden leaves are hiding within the summer green trees, falling, and drifting downstream.

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Reflections ~ a hint of blue sky in the water and golden leaves hiding within the green.

When I was younger, this part of the river was heavily polluted with dyes from textile mills, both here on these banks and upstream. Environmental restoration began several years ago and continues still.  Much more information and details can be found on the Haw River Trail website.  It’s really quite interesting.

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The trail curves away from the river here, the river doesn’t mind, it just keeps rolling on.

On the return walk, near the end of the trail the silver reflection of the building clouds caught my eye once again.  There have been sporadic showers throughout the day, but despite their impressive appearance, the clouds haven’t delivered any severe weather yet.

The stroll was nearly over when I snapped this last photo.   Of all the scenes today, I think this one was my favorite.

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The return view ~ Building storm cloud, silver and blue reflections on the water and behind the trees

There are still quiet, peaceful, lovely places in this wonderful world where one can simply watch the river roll and the sun set, and be thankful to be able to appreciate such moments.

~ Peace ~

 

Remote Office Day

It’s Tuesday here, and during this time of the year I take advantage of the option to work from my remote office, aka my back porch.

The morning and early afternoon was spent with calendars, books, and websites, listing topics and lessons for this coming season in youth ministry.  It’s an uplifting exercise in planning.  Serious topics with positive reinforcements to help some of the best middle school age youth I know, try to grow in their relationships with one another and Christ despite everything that will try to dissuade them as they encounter more and more of this world.  I do this planning away from people, away from human chatter, away from news reports, I don’t even play the radio during this time.  Even so, it is far from silent here on the porch.

Today the backdrop for this task is one of tall, old oak trees with full branches of deep summer green leaves, appearing a brilliant gold shade in the morning sunlight and nearly black in the afternoon cloud cover swaying in the soft and much appreciated summer breeze.  It’s hot out on the porch, but it’s worth it.   My “office mates” on the other side of the screen are a pair of cardinals chirping sweetly at the turning pages and scribbled notes, a few finches peek in from time to time and a humming-bird hovers at the bushes and seems to be interested on what’s going on as well.

These happy and graceful birds, singing to and with one another through the heat and humidity draw my attention upward.   Away from the computer, away from the papers, they remind me to be still a few moments and experience the day.   Soon enough the rush of a more structured schedule will return, and perhaps I will recall these moments through these words. To stand and get the camera would send them flying away, and any still photograph would not aptly capture this day of most beautiful sights and songs. So, I will stay in the heat a while longer, planning for cooler days and soaking up these most joyful noises.

“Shout joyfully to God; all the earth” Psalm 66:1

 

 

 

 

 

~Kiawah~

Recently, I happened to be in the right place at the right time to receive an amazing invitation to Kiawah Island, South Carolina with some wonderful women for a few days.    It’s good to travel to nice places, but it’s more important to travel with good people.  This unexpected trip was both, and so much more.

This post is all about capturing the small moments, those “bookend” times of the day when one can carve out a few moments of solitude to simply be, and simply be aware of where we are and grateful for our time here.

Allow me to share a few of the beautiful sights and moments experienced within these 13 or so square miles along the edge of the Atlantic.  First up:  Arrival!

Welcome to Kiawah Island
That feeling when you know you’re close to somewhere special is even more exciting when greeted by such a beautiful sign.

This beautiful place has miles and miles and miles of trails.  Level, well-marked, well maintained trails.  Where the trails end, there are more miles of well packed sand at the edge of the Atlantic, just perfect for strolling or cruising.  Walking and bicycling were the preferred means of transportation throughout much of the stay on Kiawah.

With bags stowed in the condo and sunset approaching, one of the first activities was to find a spot for the best show in the area!   A little side note here:  Early in the drive, our theme song became Castle On The Hill by Ed Sheeran.  Looking at this photo now, watching the pelicans fly over the nearby Sanctuary Hotel that could easily be mistaken for a castle in the sunset that first evening, that song fits so well.

Brilliant Sunset over The Sanctuary Resort ~ Kiawah Island, SC
..a lone gull, a flock of pelicans, and an amazing mid-week sunset..

Mornings are a favorite time for me, especially at the beach, any beach, but I had no idea the beauty and majesty awaiting me on my first morning walk at Kiawah.  I happened upon a couple of bucks looking for breakfast!

Buck Surveying the dunes
..caught sight of a buck surveying the dunes on my morning walk…

He must have heard me behind him and turned around.  For just a few seconds he walked towards me on the boardwalk.  I backed up accordingly to give him his space.

Beautiful buck on the boardwalk
..Let me just slip off to the side to get out of his way…

After a couple of minutes, the buck turned around and joined a friend for breakfast in the dunes.   A lovely cardinal flew into the frame just as I snapped the picture.

Morning Company
This is how I spent my first morning on Kiawah, in the company of beautiful creatures at the edge of the vast ocean.   No other humans to be seen.  #GodSightings!

The condo where we stayed had a wonderful kitchen with ample beautiful and comfortable spaces to enjoy meals and conversation.  But one night we ventured out to a restaurant at Bohicket Marina. Oh.My.Goodness!  Yes, the food was delicious, yes the company was delightful, yes the conversation included A LOT of laughter; but upon exiting the building we were greeted by the twilight sky settling in for the night over the boats.

Boats at Bohicket
Last rays of sunlight fading ahead of gathering clouds. ‘Tis good the boats are in the harbor this night.

Heavy clouds gathered throughout the night.  Summertime thunderstorms are a reality here, but the boats seem determined to shine with their reflections despite the imposing darkness.

Marina at night ~ The stuff of dreams!
….calm waters below, troubled skies above….

The next morning the clouds seemed to want to linger a little longer and enjoy the sunrise as well.  Who could blame them?  Later this beach will be filled with people enjoying the sunshine and surf, but for now it’s nearly deserted.

Morning sunrise through clouds at Kiaway
The sun seems to be blanketed by the clouds, rising from them as if slowly waking to the new day itself.

I love those glowing moments, when even the air seems saturated between the actual light and the reflection from the water.

More morning scenes from Kiawah ~ lone shrimp boat heading out to sea.

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More morning scenes from Kiawah ~ Sunrise reflections from the pond.  There’s a sign warning of alligators, but they stayed out of sight on this trip.

Sunrise reflection on one of the greens
Morning sunrise and clouds at one of the greens on the golf course.

As much as I adore the pictures of and on the beach, this picture is one of my favorites from this trip.  This is the walkway to the beach following an overnight rainstorm.  Fallen leaves, blown by the wind and rain, lay undisturbed as I approached on my morning walk.  Perhaps in this picture there’s a hint of how spectacular autumn will be along this trail.

Walkway to the beach ~ Kiawah
Storm soaked boardwalk and fallen leaves ~ Beautiful Sights at Kiawah

What you don’t see in these pictures are the in-between moments.  Images of conversations over coffee, morning chats, laughter over wine, bonding between a mother and her recent high school graduate daughter, friendships growing, rest and renewal.

What I hope you see are images of a beautiful place where these and more wonderful things happened, all  because one person chose to extend an amazing invitation.

While leaving, I stopped for one more sign.  The Sanctuary Resort sign adorned with Old Glory in preparation for the Independence Day festivities.

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Sanctuary – So much more than a resort hotel.

Our sign upon arrival simply stated where we were, our sign on departure simply stated what we had experienced ~ Sanctuary.

Peace.

 

“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”

  1 Thessalonians 5:11