Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Hope and Praise!

Psalm 71:14
As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.

I have a confession to make.  When MIL comes to live with us in January, I give up all hope of my husband, Danny, and I ever being able to vacation at a cabin for an extended period of time.  It just isn't in the cards.  Yes, we have the blessed one-night stay at Lake Rabun Hotel and Restaurant, for which we are both so grateful as son, Daniel, can stay with MIL, but the chance of a real vacation?  A pipe dream at best.

Now, I may give up hope on this possibility, but never do I give up hope in God.  I know He can work miracles, in His time and in His way.  He hears our prayers, the longings of our hearts, and answers in love, even when that answer may be a gentle, yet firm, "No."  And I can't begin to tell you all how much His strength, grace and comfort have buoyed our spirits during this time of service to beloved MIL.

But never in my wildest imaginings could I envision how promptly God would act to restore our hope in a mountain holiday.  Dominic, Danny's brother, who lives in Oklahoma, calls two weeks ago with some unexpected, but much welcomed, news.  He has decided to take a week off from work in order to stay with MIL for a week!  Hallelujah!!!

Danny wastes no time in booking this lovely cabin, A Walk in the Clouds.

At 3,500 feet in elevation, this cabin sits higher than any other in which we have stayed to date.  Just look at the views that await us!

Needless to say, Danny and I are walking on cloud nine with anticipation and excitement about this impending trip.  And as usual, this will be a special time for us to unplug as much as possible from social media, so I won't be posting here again until Tuesday, May 8th.  Hope you will bear with me, too, as I won't be reading/commenting on favorite blogs during this much needed retreat from the everyday demands.

Dear friends, we would so appreciate your prayers for safe travels for us and for Dominic, and continued healing for MIL.  Know you all will be in my prayers, too.

And may all of us, each and every day, always have hope, and praise our Father more and more.


Friday, April 20, 2018

Spring Break, Part 4 - Oxford, Georgia

Proverbs 22:28
Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.

In our recent travels to Oxford, Georgia, to visit my mother, my granddaughter, Virginia Rose, and I decide to take a walk from the Hopkins House, Mom's home, down to the Old Church, less than a quarter mile away.

For those of you unfamiliar with the town of Oxford, it was founded in 1836 as a Methodist community, with a small college, Emory (1837).  The name "Oxford" was chosen in honor of the alma mater of both John and Charles Wesley.  Surveyor and Methodist minister, Edward Lloyd Thomas (1825-1852) designed the layout of the town, with all roads leading to the college.

The aforementioned Hopkins House (1841) was once the home of Isaac Stiles Hopkins (1841-1914), professor, Methodist minister, and scientist, who served for a time as Emory's president, and later, due to his keen interest in technology, was appointed president of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech).  My parents purchase the home in 2003.  As my father, too, was a scientist, professor, and Dean of Emory's Oxford College, I'd say the Hopkins legacy lives on!

The Old Church is my favorite Oxford landmark.  Although it is no longer used for regular church services, it is available for special events such as weddings, concerts and funerals.  It is where Dad's memorial service is held in 2014.  Built in 1841 as a chapel for Emory College students, it underwent a thorough renovation in 1996, and was reopened in 1999, while Dad was still the dean.  The monument featured here stands on the Old Church's holy ground; the inscription includes the verse from Proverbs quoted above.

Behind the Old Church stands Kitty's Cottage.

As I do not get a decent shot of it, I borrow the photo from this website, which offers a brief history of the slave, Kitty Andrew, whose ownership by a Methodist bishop by the name of James O. Andrew, stirred up a huge schism between the Methodist churches in the North and South.  Here is Virginia reading all about it.

But much more than history, Virginia loves exploring the outdoors.  The nature trail behind Kitty's Cottage is a spur that leads to the major path, which extends from the college to the Oxford city limits.  This, too, is another goal set by my father for the community while he is dean, and later, mayor (a job he reluctantly took).  Thankfully, he lived to see it completed.  Virginia and I take the shorter route back to West Soule Street, where the Hopkins House sits.

Although I only snap a side view of the President's House, this is where my parents lived when Dad was the dean for twelve years.

It was built in 1836 by Emory's first president, Ignatius Few (such a quaint name), and has been home to countless presidents and deans ever since, not without some major renovations, however.  In fact, one of Dad's bargaining chips in accepting the job of dean at Oxford College is his insistence that Emory University completely restore the residence.  And I can't begin to describe to you how much that old house needed some love!  My family and I have such treasured memories of this beautiful home.

Virginia's and my field trip gives only a small sampling of Oxford's rich and unique history.  In this day and time, when it seems folks would rather dismantle our country's history than preserve it for future generations, Oxford is a refreshing place, where old mingles with new, and the landmarks our forefathers set still remain.

May they never be moved.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Spring Break, Part 3 - Playin' in the Dirt

Matthew 13:8
Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop - a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

During her spring break from school, I pick up granddaughter, Virginia Rose, on Tuesday so she can travel with me the following day to Oxford where we will spend several days with my mother.  Naturally, Virginia is excited about our trip, but when she learns we will be planting flowers together that afternoon, she is beside herself with enthusiasm.  She runs to grab her little shovel, which she left in the yard during her last visit, but finds out she likes using her hands to help with the soil and planting.

Virginia listens carefully to my instructions the entire time as she helps choose the next flower to plant, places the rich, loamy soil into the posts, scoops out deep-enough holes to satisfy the root systems, and fills them back with the dirt, pressing it down to secure the fledgling blooms in place.

And here is what we planted!

Double Impatiens


The common name for this plant is "Chocolate Chip."  Virginia, of course, loved it!  But she also was entertained by the name of the plant below.

The Toe-Tickler!

Virginia is so proud of the work she has done, and so she should be.  In the good soil, with sunlight and water, these plants are sure to set down strong roots and thrive, blossoming all summer long.

May the soil of our hearts be prepared to grow in God's Word, so He can root Himself deeply into our very being, and produce good fruit in us.


Friday, April 13, 2018

Spring Break, Part 2 - Seek Ye First

Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

It has been two years since my husband, Danny, and I have been able to host an Easter egg hunt for our granddaughters, due to the ordeal we experience last spring.  Virginia Rose, being seven now, recalls clearly her last egg hunt.

But her sisters, Savannah Jane and Alexandra Nancy, have no memory whatsoever, and have no clue as to what to expect.

We divide our back yard in half, one side for Virginia, where the eggs are strategically hidden, and the other for the two "littles," where the majority of eggs are in plain view, and ripe for the taking.  As their Dad, John, and I attempt to explain what the girls will be looking for once out in the yard, I have serious doubts about whether or not Savannah and Alexandra understand any of it, but I'm anxious to see if anything sinks in.

As soon as we open the downstairs door to the yard, Virginia is off like a shot, eager to explore her egg-stravagant territory. 

 But the "littles" are captivated by something entirely different.

"Bubbles!!!"  Savannah shouts gleefully.  Unbeknownst to me, Danny, aka Papa, has set up our bubble-making machine up on our deck, and it is cranking full tilt.  Showers of bubbles cascade down upon Savannah and Alexandra, as they chase and try to catch them.  I mean, who cares about Easter eggs when you can play with bubbles?

Just as Savannah and Alexandra are easily distracted by the glistening abundance of ephemeral bubbles, so we, too, can be tempted by the endless "Ooh, shiny!" things of this world.  Chasing after elusive, unsubstantial objects instead of seeking that which truly matters most in the here and now, and more importantly, for eternity:  the Kingdom of God.

Like Virginia, absolutely focused upon finding every last egg designed for her discovery, let us pursue God's Kingdom and His righteousness with that very same commitment, dedication and enthusiasm.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Spring Break, Part 1 - The Getaway!

Mark 6:31
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."

Traditionally, my husband, Danny, and I reserve a cabin in the Nantahala Mountains of North Carolina to celebrate our anniversary.  This year, however, with MIL staying with us, embarking on an extended vacation is out of the question.  So Danny does some research and finds a charming place, Lake Rabun Hotel and Restaurant, where we can indulge in a one-night getaway.  Of course, he asks MIL if she's comfortable with this venture; she assures us she is, but I know it's a relief when my son, Daniel, arranges to take a day off from work in order to be available to her.  That eases our minds, too!

The drive to our destination is fairly long, but oh, so scenic!  We drink in the rural landscape and the mountains, which loom in the distance.  The balmy spring air has coaxed the trees into leafing, and recent rains have transformed pastures into lush seas of green, soothing sights for our eyes and refreshment for our souls.  Though I initially worry that the lengthy drive will tire us out, just the opposite is true.  We arrive at our destination more relaxed than either of us could have imagined.

According to its website, Lake Rabun Hotel is the oldest one remaining near the lake.  At 96 years old, but with a major renovation in 2008, it maintains its rustic, welcoming feel.

When we check in, the pleasant young woman at the desk gives us a tour of the common areas, which are many, shares some of the hotel's history, and graciously shows us to our room.  Danny has booked the only one boasting a private deck.  What a perfect space for us to sit and chat, sip wine, and play some backgammon.

Our concierge also makes us aware of the resident hotel cat, Meow, who will slip into the building any chance she gets.  Although the staff tries their best to keep her out due to guests who might be allergic to cats, Meow is a crafty one.  We welcome her visit with us on our deck in the late afternoon, but not so much when, at seven o'clock the following morning, Meow is outside the window, practicing with gusto the origin of her name.

After a delicious dinner in the hotel's restaurant, Danny and I decide to go for a stroll.  Bad timing!  Here comes the rain, so we beat a hasty retreat to the hotel.  How delightful it is, though, to hear the rain drops pinging and dinging on the tin roof sheltering our deck!

We enjoy a satisfying night's sleep, and are greeted with a generous gourmet breakfast in the morning.  No photos here, but suffice it to say, neither one of us could finish it all.  Not surprisingly, we see Meow again, boldly roaming the restaurant.  The scrambled egg Danny offer her is promptly gobbled down, and she moves on, hoping other guests will be so generous.

All too soon, it's time to pack up and head for home.  But we are so grateful to the Lord that we came to this quiet, peaceful place where we found some much needed rest.


Sing a New Song

  Danny and I in his new music studio Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. ~Psalm 96:1 A new song shall I sing unto...