Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Revenge

About a week ago, when reading my Bible, I came upon a paragraph that made me laugh out loud. The Bible is many things, serious, majestic, sometimes frightening, full of love, but funny? Not usually. I was reading in the book of Luke. Here is the passage - Luke 9:51-56:

"When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village."

Picture the above scene. I can tell you that I would have been just like James and John - how funny is their request? As if Jesus was the local Mafia guy and, having been disrespected, takes out his revenge on those who "dissed" him. Then, after James and John ask Jesus if he wants them to torch the place, I can just see Jesus rolling his eyes heavenward - or, Three Stooges like, a quick smack, smack on the tops of James and John's heads....."he....rebuked them." I'm sure Jesus did neither, but let them know their attitude was inappropriate. But for some reason, when I read the above passage, I just burst out laughing and pictured the irreverent response of Jesus. Perhaps I watched too many Warner Brothers cartoons when I was a child......

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!


I haven't written in a while. First I was working, and now that I'm off, my sister is here visiting, so I haven't been blogging much.

However, it is now Christmas Eve and I hope everyone is getting ready to have a wonderful holiday. Tomorrow my sister, my husband and I drive up to where my parents live. My dad is 89 and my mom is 80 and they're still on their own. My oldest sister and her significant other will be there - and it'll be a family reunion. The sister that is staying with me doesn't live in Florida, so we're not a full family very often. My oldest sister lives about 2 hours away - and we're both equidistant from my mother and father's house. So tomorrow we'll all be together. My cry for the New Year is: "Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly." I'm thinking the Rapture of the Church isn't far off - and it is my fondest hope and desire as the world grows ever darker.

All praise to Him who was born (perhaps on Dec. 25, perhaps not) - the Lord Jesus Christ - to die for the sins of the world, for our sins, so that we, by believing in Him, could spend eternity with Him.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bail Out The Taxpayer!!

As you can see, I've added a widget to the left side of my blog called, "Bail Out the Taxpayer". It links to an article by Newt Gingrich calling for a 90 day cessation of Federal Income Tax - the taxpayer would get to keep their OWN MONEY - what a concept! We could actually get OURSELVES out of trouble, rather than billionaires who don't deserve it!! Don't forget once you get to the article site - go to the bottom and click the link for the petition and add your name to the list of signers!! Here is the complete widget since my side panel cuts off the right edge of it:

Hey, here's an idea, Nancy Murtha O'Reid. How about you bail out the American taxpayer? Instead of swizzling around hundreds of billions in a fruitless central-planning exercise, cut federal income taxes to zero for 90 days. For every taxpayer. I can guaran-dam-tee that less mortgages will fall behind, more cars will be purchased, retail will go nuts, etc.

Asheville Photos

Finally - Asheville photos. First, photos while driving around Asheville - I literally took these while driving so they're not very good, but some of the buildings were so majestic I had to take the pictures anyway. It was a very dark and cold day in Asheville - but I loved it. It felt so Christmasy to me and whenever I went back to Grove Park Inn, all the beautiful decorated trees and the giant fireplace made it so cozy and warm inside.

This Episcopal church was at Macon and Charlotte Street on the way down from Grove Park Inn.



This is an old stone building that looks like it's being used as apartments. It was kind of messy outside, but it looked like it had a noble history.


Huge First Baptist Church in downtown Asheville.



Asheville street view while driving.



Another Asheville street view while driving.


Old house turned into Christian Bookstore on Haywood outside of Asheville.



Back of old house/Christian Bookstore that appears to be falling apart.



Inside of old house/Christian Bookstore - everything is stuffed and jumbled, but very cosy. The old house had character - the mantle/fireplace was where the register was. The floors squeaked and moaned - I loved it.



The portal to the used book section. This was the second Christian Bookstore I went to in the Asheville area that had used books. Old used books, hardcover, some from the 1800's. I was hooked.



Back out on the streets of Asheville, headed back to Grove Park Inn, my car full of old Christian books.

Long street ahead, mountains in distance.



Detail from an old building painted purple, except for the old ad signs.



Same purple building toward the front.



Toward the S&W Cafeteria building.



Closer to the S&W Cafeteria Building.



The S&W Cafeteria Building is not a cafeteria anymore, but shops of some sort in downtown Asheville. It is a beautiful building, though and I couldn't help but take it's picture.


And now - the Grove Park Inn. This is actually the back view. There is a terrace where you can sit and look toward Asheville in the distance and the mountains beyond that. There is an underground spa recently added to the Grove Park Inn. The services are WAY out of my budget. $100.00 for a pedicure. $250.00 for a massage, but it is a spectacular place. You enter the spa through underground rock caverns, lit with soothing dim lanterns. Mini waterfalls line the way, tinkling down the rocks, and there is music from hidden speakers that is Celtic in sound. The picture above is taken from the outdoor entrance to the spa lobby. What a magnificent place! Here is the web site so you can explore, too



This is one of the giant fireplaces in the original lobby of the inn. If you go to the history section of the Grove Park Inn site, you'll see that this is original and has not been changed. There is another fireplace of the same size facing this one across the giant great room. There are rocking chairs lining this fireplace and they are always filled, so you have to wait for someone to leave to sit down and enjoy the fire. It is worth the wait. Since it is the Christmas season, everything was festive and beautifully decorated. The day this picture was taken, there was a group of adults and a 1st grade class from an elementary school in Asheville singing Christmas carols - in the great lobby next to the fireplace.



This is one of the long hallways leading to the lobby area. Each of these on each floor were lined every so many yards with differently decorated Christmas trees. You can see that there are also rocking chairs facing the windows, looking out over the view.
video
The above video is from my non-high-techy phone. You can see the gentleman tending the fire - that shows you how huge the fireplace is. Then I move to the right, past the small wooden bar where you can get some potent Irish Coffee to warm you, to the area where the Grove Park Inn workers assisted by the elementary school children begin to sing a Christmas Carol. It was SO lovely, and a memory I will cherish.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How Full of Grace is God

Let me be the first to tell you that of so many Christians I can name, I am the least. This is not false humility - this is the truth. I zig when God wants me to zag, and that's not the least of it.

Well - the Lord blessed me this week with a wonderful vacation trip. My husband has had to go to Asheville, NC on a business trip, and, since we took no vacation in October, I went with him on this one, mostly paid for by his place of work. We have to pay some of my expenses, but that is minimal when you consider the blessings. We are staying at the famous Grove Park Inn on a mountainside overlooking Asheville. To say it is healing to my spirit, that the nature all around us is magnificent, would be an understatement.

The Lord has been with us from the time we hurriedly left our home in Florida to get to the airport on time, to this very moment that I am typing this in a beautful room overlooking some misty, clouded, cold and windy - but ever so Christmasy to this northern soul - mountains.

There are Christmas trees every few feet in this inn, and they are decorated beautifully, although my favorite is the one decorated with natural items from the mountains.

I will post some pictures when I get back home, but for now I just wanted to share how blessed I am - and certainly NOT because I deserve it in any way, shape or form!!

There is a giant - maybe 15 feet across and about 10 feet deep - fireplace (and that is only the open area where the flames are - it is surrounded by a wall of rock) with rocking chairs in front of it. There are Christmas carols being sung by a group and poincettias everywhere. You look out the windows and the sky is overcast and dark, low gray scudding clouds are touching, then obscuring the mountaintops - and it is oh SO cosy inside this great stone inn.

I've found two used Christian bookstores - something I've never seen before, so I've bought some wonderful old titles.

In all of this, my goal is not to make others feel bad, but to let everyone know that the Lord God is a giving Father, one who waits to pour out wonders upon His children.

Now, before you think I believe in a prosperity Gospel, let me say that the blessings I am experiencing here are the kind He knows I would particularly love. I was born in a rural, mountain community, and I have not lived in that type of area since I was 23 years old - and I am now 52. Mountain places sing to my soul, they comfort me as nothing else can, and we could not afford to go on our once a year vacation in October to the NC mountains - so the Father had something better in mind. A pre-Christmas trip to those same mountains, but paid for by someone else mostly. We could never afford to stay at Grove Park Inn, and I am not going to the spa part of the inn that is also quite famous. The services at the spa here are unbelievably expensive.

The Lord knows what makes me tick - after all He made me. He knows I love the countryside, wildlife, old books. I could care less about the spa treatments - although I love a good massage, but not at these prices!! I'd be too stressed to enjoy the massage! The Lord made sure I passed a small Bird Sanctuary on Beaver Lake, and He made sure there were hundreds of birds all taking their afternoon repast yesterday when I walked through. I do have some pictures of that I'll be posting when I get home.

The Lord also made sure I found two out of the way Christian bookstores, both full of used books - some of which are over 100 years old. One of the bookstores was in an old, dilapidated, but picturesque house. The girl that worked there was wearing three layers of clothes to stay warm and had a heater by her feat. She was quite young and expecting a child soon. The second Christian bookstore was in the opposite direction and was off the beaten track as far as Asheville is concerned.

We may go to the Biltmore - just to see it decorated for Christmas - I don't care about all the rest of the folderol. All I know is that I am feeling a little bit what it will be like in heaven for me. The Lord Jesus shows me His love in so many ways - and He sure knows what makes my heart sing with joy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Icy Memories

I was reading Coffee, Tea, Books & Me this morning and Brenda mentioned having to walk carefully down the driveway to get the newspaper because of the icy surface.
I have lived in South Florida since 1979, but I remember the first year of my (first) marriage when we lived in an apartment in my home town in upstate NY.
There was a washer and dryer room in the basement of the center building. There were about 7-9 buildings in total. I was not in the building that housed the washer and dryer room, so I had to gather our dirty clothes, shove them in the carry basket, put on all my winter clothes and then navigate the sidewalks to the building with the laundry room. The maintenance men put salt on the sidewalks leading directly to our buildings, but for some reason, they didn't put any on the connecting sidewalks between the buildings. The sidewalk leading to the laundry room was particularly treacherous. My home town was a hilly town and the area where our apartment was was no exception. In the summer this was not an issue, but in the winter, the sidewalk leading to the cement stairs down to the laundry room (all of which was open to the cold winter sky) was not only not salted, but it faced downhill.
The possibility of slipping down the sidewalk, and then falling down the 10 or 12 cement stairs, also icy, to the laundry room floor was a very real danger.
The only way to make it safely? Sit down. On the icy sidewalk. And slide on my bum down to the steps, also sliding on my bum down each step until I reached the safety of the basement floor. I think I pulled the basket behind me - how I got IT down the stairs without tipping it I don't remember.
I look back on that now with amusement, but it was a real chore back then. Sometimes, I'd be carrying my clothes back and I'd have forgotten to bring a plastic bag, and they'd get wet with rain or snow.
I can't imagine how I'd negotiate icy sidewalks now. I'm much older, much heavier and more delicate than I was then - I think I'd be traveling by sitting down on ice a LOT if I lived in a climate where iced walkways and driveways were common.