Friday, June 22, 2018

Just Something to Think About

Each Monday morning, I send out a newsletter to our Sunday School members with a note from my husband the teacher, prayer requests, praises, announcements and usually at the end my "Food for Thought."

To close out this week of blogging, I thought I would share what I wrote on Monday.

Food for Thought

Yesterday, in our lesson from 1 Samuel 24, Dick talked about revenge and how subtle that can be in our lives.  There is a great lesson for us in Chapter 25.  David is planning a terrible act of revenge against a man, Nabal, who disrespected him.  The man's wife, Abigail hears of her husband's terrible behavior and King David's plan, and goes to David.

She reminds him that his plan for revenge against the "foolish" acts of Nabal was not God's plan but his own, and asks that he spare her husband and his men.

One of the things we as Christians have to guard against is that it is so easy to confuse our own agenda with God's.

In helping David evaluate the consequences of what he had planned to do to Nabal, her husband, Abigail used a beautiful analogy of God's care and protection.

This past week, I received a package from my daughter.  It was my zoom camera lens that I had mistakenly left with her.  When I opened the box, I realized that the person who packed it took extreme pains to make sure the lens was protected from any possible damage in shipping.  It was wrapped in layers of plastic and then encased in thick packing paper.  It arrived unscathed, which was the goal of my daughter and the packer.

In verse 29 of chapter 25, Abigail used a similar story - the placing of valuable jewels and pieces of silver and gold in a cloth, rolling it, and tying it so that the possessions might be stored or transported without danger.

"If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the Lord your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling."

Her words had the power to cause David to reflect on his intended actions, but also to remind him of God's great care and plan for his life.  Since the day of his anointing, David had been in God's hands.

This passage is also a beautiful picture of God's love and protection in our own lives.   It is a reminder that our lives are in God's hands and we can trust Him ultimately to make things right.  We all need to ask God to give us the ability to recognize wisdom that is of Him. "Be not wise in your own eyes"

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Day Full of Sunflowers

This is a lengthy post, but I couldn't decide how to make it any shorter and still share our day with you.  So either enjoy, or feel free to drop off at any point.

Bright and early is the only way to do an outdoor activity in Louisiana this time of the year, so that's what we did.

It is an easy 45-minute drive to the small town of Gilliam, La. for the actual Festival and a fun “day in the country.”

But, we weren't in a hurry so took a very leisure drive and enjoyed the scenery.

The Sunflower Trail & Festival started with farmer Gordon Boogaerts who, with a hobby for painting and photography, planted some sunflowers at his home (just north of Shreveport) and invited friends to enjoy their beauty.

Area farmers and plantation owners soon joined the fun and now volunteers and members of the community join them in planting sunflower seeds each year at their homes and alongside the country roads.  These patches of flowers create the stunning and serene sunflower trails that this part of the Trail is known for.

Soon it became so well-liked that the Red River Crossroads organization decided to make the sunflower viewing into an annual event for everyone to enjoy.

Visitors can stop on the edge of an open field or trail and easily walk through and enjoy being among these amazing sunflowers reaching to the sky.

There is something so fun and happy about being surrounded by these brightly-colored flowers.

This section of the trail, follows the levy of the Red River which provides irrigation for this large farming area. 

We found an open gate that led to a road along the top of the levy.  Being the adventurous Senior Adults that we are, we decided why not take it and get a higher vantage point overlooking the fields and the river.

After following this narrow dusty path for about a mile, we wondered if we would have to go all the way back to Shreveport before we found an exit.  There certainly wasn't room to turn around up there.  YIKES!

Not long after discussing this, we came upon a locked gate across the road that meant we had very few options for getting back to where we started.  Backing up that far wasn't the most viable.  So guess what!

You're right, we had to turn around.  Our car was as long as the ridge was wide.  So it had to be done VERY CAREFULLY!

But Dick did a great job with Tom outside the car guiding him.

Although that part was scary, the views of the acres and acres of cotton fields and sunflowers and lazy Red River were worth it.

Just down the road we entered the tiny village of Belcher and saw this little mini flea market.

Belcher is a neat once prosperous little place based strictly on the farming economy.

There were several vendors here selling anything from home-made pain relief creams, breads and jams, pickles, aprons to jewelry and shoes.

This is the event center for the community.

Naturally, sunflowers abound everywhere.

I spotted this booth and immediately thought of the Louisiana renowned artist, Grandma Moses.

But, this sweet little lady is Miss Polly Ann Taylor instead, and I so enjoyed getting to meet and visit with her.

She is a self-taught, visual folk artist who lives in the area.  She started painting her life experiences as a child, but life struggles kept her from it until 2012.  It was at that time her creative gift was "awakened" and thus began what she calls "the real life of Polly Taylor."

She told me that painting again tapped into her God-given gift and she hasn't stopped.  Inspired by God, her years in church, nature and rural landscapes, Miss Polly is now looking at the world through new eyes and brings joy and color to many others.

And yes, I brought home one of her little paintings to encourage me to also use the gifts with which I have been blessed.

If you are interested in contacting her for more information see below:
Facebook:  Polly Taylor

Have you seen a sweeter face?

Along the way, we passed the Lynn Plantation and saw a little veggie stand and decided to stop.

It was being manned by a couple youngsters, one of which had to come from his perch in the tree to take care of the customers.

Behind the old plantation commissary and country store was a collection of old farm trucks and tractors.  Dick and Tom enjoyed seeing these vintage items.  Dick recalled watching his uncle very skillfully drive a tractor exactly like this one.

Along the way were more fields and peach orchards.  Nothing like a Saturday drive through the country. 

The end of the Trail is in the village of Gilliam where flocks of folks enjoy craft vendors with handmade unique arts and d├ęcor for the home and lawn, food vendors serving typical Louisiana cuisine, and a couple local restaurants offering good country cuisine.

Only in Louisiana will you find food like this.

This booth only had items made from Cypress Knees found in the many Louisiana swamps.  While standing at this table, I overheard a woman ask the vendor if he carved these little tables.  A lady next to her said, "Surely you aren't from Louisiana!"  No she wasn't.

And only at a Sunflower Festival would this attire not draw a lot of attention.

So until next time, I hope you enjoyed your trip through the countryside of Northwest Louisiana to the 20th Annual Sunflower Trail and Festival.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

It's a Sunshiny Summer Hodgepodge

Thank you for joining us for our weekly 

From this Side of the Pond

1. Summer is upon us this week in the Northern hemisphere. Tell us three things on your summer bucket list.

I really don't have anything on my bucket list at this point.  We have a little trip planned for next week with friends that we are looking forward to.  I would love to get to Dallas to see our family there, perhaps next month, once all their worldly travels are over.  Other than that, I just plan to stay as cool as possible.

2. Something fun you used to do as a kid in the summertime?

Play outdoors from sunup to sundown.  We rode our bikes; played in the woods near our house and pretended we were someone else living a glamorous life in another place.  We went on family picnics, had friends over, and we especially looked forward to the Bookmobile coming around every week.  Life was good in the 50's.

3. Rootop or backyard? Why?

I'm not sure I understand this question, but I will go with backyard, assuming that first word might be rooftop.  I used to climb out an upstairs window and sunbath on the roof top.  And yes, lathered in baby oil with lemon juice in my hair.  But, that was when I was young and crazy and before skin cancer existed.  Other than that my rooftop experiences have been limited.

Now days, I prefer staying on the ground with my skin protected and enjoy my tiny backyard.  Why?  First, because I'm smarter than I used to be.  Second, my roof is very steep.  And third, the backyard is closer to the door and air conditioning.

4. Do you read food labels? Place importance on them? Make an effort to find out/care about where your food comes from?

Yes we do.  Since Dick is on a low to no sodium/low fat and sugar way of eating, we must read the labels.  Finding prepared foods that don't contain these things is not easy.  And yes, we are very aware of where the food comes from, especially our seafood.

5. A song you'll have on repeat this summer?

Autumn Leaves

6. Insert your own random thought here.

This past Saturday, we and our good friends enjoyed our local "Sunflower Trail & Festival."

This is only intended to whet your interest in checking out my blog post tomorrow on this day trip full of sunshine.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Notre Dame Main Building Tour

Today I will complete my tour of part of the Notre Dame Campus.

The Main Building

The Main Building represents Notre Dame’s past and present.

Originally, this building was the hub of all campus life and included space for dorms and meals.
Today, it serves  primarily as a headquarters for administration, including the office of the President, Office of Admissions, and various other offices and services of the University.  It also has classrooms and meeting rooms. 

This structure is actually the third building to stand on the site. It was built in 1879, the same year in which the previous building was destroyed by fire.

The previous 6-storied, 14 year old brick building burned on April 23, 1879 and ground breaking for the new building was on Saturday, May 17th. They wasted no time.

The first stone was placed on Monday, May 19th and the three-story building was completed in September.  Meticulously kept records record the construction like this:

"This was a day innocent of labor disputes and delays. There was no eight-hour day, no forty-hour week. With this advantage, and with the three hundred workmen employed, the constant stream of stone that came by rail, the unbroken lines of wagons bringing brick from the kilns of South Bend and Bertrand, the all-out effort was magnificent. The building, with its countless angles and corners and jutting points of masonry, the numerous gables and turrets, the classic pillars that support the dome and statue, puzzles anyone who tries to classify it."

Indeed, the actual architectural design has baffled designers ever since.

The architect called it "modern Gothic."  A later University architect referred to the Victorian Monument as "an eclectic and somewhat naive combination of pointed windows, medieval moldings and classical columns."  Others have simply dubbed it as pure and simple "modern Sorin."  (The University founder and president)

Regardless of these varying opinions, I found it's turrets, pointed windows, its many corners and angles to be totally fascinating.

The Golden Dome was added to this building in 1882 and was most recently regilded in 2005. I found it interesting that the regilding process used only about a "fist-full" of gold leaf to cover the entire structure.  Remarkable!

Atop the Dome, is a 19-foot-tall, 4,000-pound statue of  the Mother Mary, for whom the University is named - Notre Dame - "Our Mother". The statue, a gift from the sisters of adjacent Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame's sister school, was designed and furnished by the nuns to sit atop the dome. 
 Of course, the highlight inside the Main Building is the dome and circular staircase.

The walls on the third level reminded me of a delicate Wedgewood bowl.
Deana, my friend and capable tour guide actually works on the first floor.  She explained that on home football days, the brass section of the band line up around the staircase and play a concert.  This will definitely be added to a future visit as well as the organ concert.

Can you imagine the sound that must be.

I was so captivated by the inside of the dome, that I almost missed the beautiful mosaic floor beneath.

The second floor hallways are lined with the Columbus Murals, a group of large paintings by Italian painter and Notre Dame professor Luigi Gregori, depicting the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus.  I have read where the few Native American students on campus have recently protested these paintings and insist they be removed.  I for one hope they aren't.

The exit doors with their etched glass panels, kind of confirm the architectural confusion.

They are rather difficult to see in my pictures, but in campus lore, if a student ascended the front steps of the Main Building before graduation, that student was doomed never to graduate. Students were not deemed worthy to climb the steps and smoke with their professors until they received their degrees and were educational equals.

This tradition dates back to Father Sorin, when 19th-century porch etiquette and smoking rituals dictated that only faculty were allowed to use the steps and smoke on the front porch.

To this day,  The outside front steps leading to the second floor of the Main Building cannot be used by students until after they graduate. 

I borrowed this picture above to better show the steps and size of the building.

From the top of the steps.  The Campus Mall is just beautiful and on this graduation weekend, the tulips were being removed and replaced with geraniums, I think.

These graduate friends were having a ball posing for their picture and making memories of their final day as ND students.

From here, I walked back toward St. Mary Lake and enjoyed the beauty from that vantage point.

As I was leaving the campus, I found this cemetery.  In doing some research I learned that true to his pioneering and visionary spirit, Fr. Edward Sorin, established Cedar Grove Cemetery in 1843, a year after he founded the University of Notre Dame. At that time, Cedar Grove was on the far outskirts of campus.  Today, it is between the lake and the busy street outside the campus.

And this concludes my most recent tour of the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana.

Thank you Deana for sharing your lunch break to show me around.

If you missed Part 1 of this tour, click below:
Notre Dame University Basilica