Christmas…

‘Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.’                        Norman Vincent Peale

jeremy-winter-photo-1

‘For unto you is born a Savior…a Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes…Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth- Peace Goodwill toward Men…’ from Luke 2:11-14

Merry Christmas from Camellia’s Cottage!

Love y’all, Camellia

*The beautiful Alabama Winter photograph was taken by Jeremy Miniard- jeremy.miniard.fineartamerica.com

A Season of Loss…

jeremy-fall-18Holidays are often a source of nostalgia- as the Trees let go of their leaves- we are also letting go… some are even finding themselves in a Season of Loss. It was during just such a Season of Loss- that I began writing a Bible Study, by email of all things! A self professed tech challenged writer, I was studying and teaching from John’s Gospel, chapter 11- the account of two sisters named Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. For a period of Four Years, I wrote; mostly for myself with my sister, then bit by bit a tight circle of trusted friends from Four Denominations within an area of Three Counties. Very few, in the study- even knew the others! I guess you could say- I wrote myself out of the Season of Loss.

Grief comes in many forms not even associated with death

  • the loss of a job, a home, a friendship, a move, a change, a hope that didn’t come through or a dream that didn’t come true. We may not even admit to ourselves that we are experiencing a Season of Loss.

We muddle through, we dawdle or we piddle- I know, I’ve been there. What started as an email Bible Study, became a published book! I still can’t explain it.  I was not only a tech challenged writer, I was terrible at promoting my own book! It was too dear, too close, too everything.. and while I believed every word I wrote- I did not believe in myself, I could not say…‘This book is great, you should read it.‘  With all of the wisdom out there, with folks far more educated than me, amid highly acclaimed writers- well, you could say I talked myself out of Book Promotion. Invariably, folks who knew that I had taught Bible Studies and who had encouraged me to write a book- also said, ‘I was hoping you would write those funny stories!’ Go figure. The book, ‘Four Days- the Lazarus Principle’ was published Four Years ago this month, in 2012. four-days-the-lazarus-principle

I’ve been writing this blog for months now and except for a few excerpts- I have yet to outright promote my own book! My first and only book led me to writing this blog. I enjoy writing the funny or inspiring stories. Yet, it seemed good to me, now- to tell you that the Holidays and just plain old Life will sometimes knock you down. There will be losses, grief and heartache among the funny stories- there will be Seasons of Loss. The strength I found in an intense Bible Study four years ago- with my sister and trusted friends helped me heal. On the back cover of ‘Four Days’- you will read this:

‘There are many lessons in this unconventional Bible study of dis-ease, unanswered prayers, loss, letting go, struggling to believe and wrestling with God. Come with me and learn the lessons from a little green worm, two devastated songwriters, the weavers of Persian carpets, even a baby chick at the county fair. Look with wonder at the last living thing removed from the devastation of the 911 World Trade Center, the ugliest building in Boston, the boat that rescued hundreds of survivors from the flood waters of Katrina and blue glass hands. Within these stories and the lives of two sisters in John 11, I hope you will find the great love of God even when you don’t understand Him.’

I hope Life is treating you kindly and you are in a Thankful, Joyful Season; that you are not in a Season of Loss-but if you are? Well, you see I wrote a book…

Love y’all, Camellia

The opening photograph is one of Jeremy Miniard’s masterpieces! find him at: jeremy-miniard.fineartamerica.com

Four Days the Lazarus Principle- is found through major booksellers, including Amazon.com- read an excerpt by following this link- https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B00H1Q6KE6&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_WWpmybFBFN68M&tag=camescott-20

Champions…

barbaro statue at nightWe all love champions. The Olympics brings out our love for champions. We love to see how honed skill, willpower and flesh meld together into a champion. And there is one quality that I particularly thrill to see in a champion- joy. No, not the joy of winning, the joy in the doing- the sheer joy of running the race. The- ‘I would do this if no one was watching’ kind of joy; now to me that is a real champion. I’ve been watching for that joy in the 2016 Olympics, some have won and others have lost but to me? When I’ve seen it- I’ve seen a champion. It’s a rare quality. Several years ago, we were in Louisville Kentucky, I remember it well- it was the week after the Kentucky Derby…Louisville was still decked out- we stayed at the famous Brown’s Hotel, we took a tour out to Churchill Downs…it was very impressive; it was the first time I had ever heard about the champion racehorses who were buried on the grounds- the guide said the head, the heart and the hooves of the horses were buried along with the cremated remains. The head for determination- the will to win; the heart for courage; the hooves for speed to run the race. barbaro wins!Barbaros wins the 2006 Kentucky Derby!

Only one horse is actually buried at the racetrack- Barbaros. His story is one of great promise- after winning  the 2006 Kentucky Derby, he was considered a shew in for the Triple Crown. He did not- at the Preakness, something terrible happened and he had to be pulled out of the race. I know nothing about veterinary medicine, but the bones in one of his hind legs had to be repaired in more than 20 places, then became infected- the condition he had was a death knell.  His surgery is still groundbreaking and provides useful information for those who care for horses. Barbaros lived for 8 months afterwards- his head and his heart- his joy, courage and determination never flagged, until  the last two days of his life. When that light went out, his owners and veterinarian knew he was suffering terribly and could not be saved. His grieving owners gained permission to bury Barbaros at Churchill Downs and commissioned Alexa King of Lexington, Kentucky to create a life-size bronze of Barbaros. Look at the above photograph of Barbaros winning the Kentucky Derby! All four of his hooves are off the ground! The bronze that Alexa King created is a gorgeous engineering marvel! Look at the opening photograph and you will see the 1500 pound lifesize horse has all four feet off the ground! The sculptor also managed to capture Barbaros in action, in spirit and as the guide pointed out- even the determination and joy!

alexa king-artist of barbaro bronze statue‘When I mold clay in my hand I sense the movement of a horse!’ Alexa King

At the base of the statue is a quote-

God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His Pleasure’

Eric Liddell

Eric Liddell was a gold medal winner in the 1924 Paris Olympiad. He was dubbed the ‘Flying Scotsman’. He won the 400 meter, which he had not trained to run; against all odds- he won over the highly favored Americans. Like Barbaros, he could practically fly! Eric Liddel was of Scottish descent but was born in China to missionary parents.

While he was being educated in Great Britain, he developed a love of running. God had indeed made him fast. He also loved education and science- he became a teacher and a devout follower of the teachings of the Church of Scotland, with the intention of returning to China, to join his parents in their missionary work. Eric Liddell ran to honor God…eric liddell the runner


‘Seeing we are encompassed by so a great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us; and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…’ Hebrew 12:1-2

to be continued…

You won’t want to miss Part 2! Love y’all, Camellia

http://www.derbymuseum.org  http://www.equinebronze.com http://www.ericliddell.org

Sunday Inspiration…

IMG_0248 (Edited)

A Meditation

O Holy Spirit of God, come into my heart and fill me. I open the windows of my soul to let Thee in, I surrender my whole life to Thee; Come and possess me, fill me with Light and Truth. I offer to Thee, the one thing I truly possess, my capacity for being filled by Thee. Of myself I am an empty vessel.

Fill me so that I may live the life of the Spirit. The life of Truth and Goodness. The life of Beauty and Love. The life of Wisdom and Strength. And guide me today in all things; Guide me to the people I should meet or help. To the circumstances in which I can best serve Thee; whether by my actions or by my sufferings.

But above all, make Christ be formed in me. That I may dethrone self in my heart and make Him King; so that He is in me, and I in Him. Today and Forever. Amen.


* Madame Chiang Kai-Shek’s adaptation of a prayer by Bishop of Bloomfontein of South Africa. She was said to have used this as a morning meditation while she was walking in her garden- the meditation should be said slowly, deeply felt, even brooded over in contemplation. This meditation is the epitome of the Hebrew psaltery command- ‘Selah’…a musical instruction to ‘pause and think calmly of that.’ Search the Psalms- you will find many which use the word ‘Selah‘. Here is one of my favorites….’May God be merciful unto us, and bless us, and cause His Face to shine upon us. Selah…Ps. 67:1

I hope you have had a blessed Lord’s Day- and will begin your week with this beautiful morning meditation.

Love y’all, Camellia

*photograph – St. Malachy’s –St. Malachy’s near Times Square, NYC

*I have had a copy of this meditation for many years- with a notation that it was found among Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s writings- no current reference has been found.

Sanctuary…

 

Sanctuary:  sanc-tu-ar-y’ 1. Place of refuge, safety, shelter 2. a nature reserve, park,  forest 3. a holy place, sacred place, church, temple, shrine. Latin:  ‘sanct’:-sacred /’arium’- a container. That quiet calm refuge which holds our sacred treasure is most descriptive of sanctuary.


Our Sunday Inspiration begins with a quote from chapter 28 of ‘Four Days- the Lazarus Principle’ :

‘Noise can create a negative atmosphere; quiet stillness has power within our spirits. Muir Woods is a National Treasure near the San Francisco area. I recall vividly the silence of the coastal redwoods- the quiet of the massive forest was palpable- I could feel the silence. It is a sanctuary of stillness. To walk there is a meditative prayer.


We have some sanctuaries to share with you- the woodlands of Alabama, treasured sanctuaries of New York City, and Home.

‘Everybody needs beauty as well as bread. Places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.’ ‘Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the deep green woods.’       quotes by naturalist- John Muir


‘I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it…They are earth born companions and our fellow mortals…join the trees in their hymns and prayers…few are altogether deaf to the preaching of pine trees…their sermons…go to our hearts…hear the trees speak for themselves.’          John Muir


Sacred Treasures of New York City

‘No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty…’     John Muir


Sanctuary: a place of refuge, safety, shelter. Everyone needs shelter, however, a house is not a home unless everyone inside is safe. Home should be the epitome of safe refuge.


Precious Lord, lead us to Your sanctuaries- be they woodland, marble or front porches. Grant to us that meditative walk, where we hear Your Voice in the stillness of the woodlands, in the hush of cathedrals or as crickets sing their happy songs beneath our shelters. How blessed we are, by Your Sacred Hands which formed the woodlands and seas, which prompted mankind to build and preserve places of worship and others who are keepers of safe homes where children play, friends are welcome and the weary return. May we never forget those who chose sacrificial duty and responsibility over rights and privileges so that we can live free in our homeland upon this earth, which spins like a blue marble through the vast star strewn universe. Ever and always we must return grateful, broken and melted down by the Cross of Christ and the Love that took Him to it. May we never forget Who bestowed upon us these beautiful earthly havens. Remind us often of our duty to act as worthy stewards- not as petulant messy children. Dress us now, in clean starched shirts and pinafores, fit for children of the King of Kings as You guide us safely through stillness to Your sanctuaries. Hear our prayers, as we seek to hear Your Voice. Amen.


We are so thankful to have the opportunity to share Camellia’s Cottage with you! We hope you find a sanctuary some place near you today-  have a blessed Lord’s Day! Now don’t forget- God loves you and…

I love y’all, Camellia


 

Of special note: St. Patrick’s Cathedral was opened on May 29, 1879- 137 years ago!

and Thank you to fellow blogger Snapshots in Cursive for her inspiring post ‘Gnarled Trees Speak Volumes- which inspired the shots of trees in this post! https://snapshotsincursive.com/2016/05/22/gnarled-old-trees-speak-volumes/ Go see the wonderful things she has been doing on her blog!

Quotes from John Muir are gleaned from The Sierra Club- https://vault.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/

Definition of Sanctuary was gleaned from Wikipedia- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanctuary

Quote from ‘Four Days- the Lazarus Principle’ by Brenda Wyatt- http://amzn.to/1U4csYm

Photographs are from our personal collection with the exception of the wonderful gnarled tree by still water, which is by Jeremy Miniard (the first in the second section of tree images) and cannot be reproduced without permission.

I couldn’t resist adding one more- from Santa Fe NM where we are on vacation ! Loretto Chapel- can’t wait to tell you about this sanctuary!image

Do You Believe the Subway Exists?

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This photo of the historic Trinity Episcopal Church Burial Ground was taken recently, for several reasons- the large statue of John Watts, Jr., the burial ground of the first U.S. Treasurer, Alexander Hamilton and the pretty subway station reminded me of another trip to New York when ‘Four Days- the Lazarus Principle’ based on John 11- was almost finished. The question: Do You Believe the Subway Exists?’ almost became the title of chapter 38. For your Sunday Inspiration, here is an excerpt:

‘On a recent trip to New York we rode the subway. We had been to New York several times, but had never used this mode of transportation. We knew it was there but had never seen for ourselves how it worked. We believed there was something going on underground, out of sight- that hundreds of people on hundreds of miles of track were moving beneath us – yet above ground we had nothing to prove it. We had the word of others that the subway was real. We saw the entrances to the underground trains; at times we could feel the rumble beneath the grates on the sidewalks. We saw masses entering and coming up from the darkened pathways under this great city. We believed in something that was unseen, unknown, and untraveled in the subway system of New York. We never questioned the existence of the subway or how it worked. We simply believed that it was there with the evidence that existed above ground, the signs- the words of others, even visiting Grand Central Station. We completely believed in the subway system. This trip, we rode the subway, and let me tell you- for someone who has spent most of her life in a small town; it was not easy to navigate! Yet I believed those trains could take us to other parts of the vast city.  When we got on the train – I knew we were moving! When we got off, and came up above ground – we were undeniably in a different part of the city. Throughout the trip to New York, after our subway rides – I was keenly aware that below the surface – out of sight, was a system which moved vast numbers of people from one place to the next. There was a whole world moving beneath my feet.’

——————————————————————–

 You know, it doesn’t take much faith to believe the subway exists. But what of those folks in that burial ground behind this subway station? Do you believe they existed? Do you believe they lived, died and were put down under the ground, and further that they just might be in another place even now? That might take a little more faith. What about this? Do you believe in resurrection? Not just at the ‘last day’- but that life, your life can be changed- resurrected, right here, right now. John Watts, Jr., Alexander Hamilton and even the life of Trinity Church changed numerous times. John Watts, Sr. was considered a traitor for leaving America and returning to his homeland, England- when the Revolutionary War began; he was stripped of his holdings in New York. Left with the shame of what their father had done-John Watts, Jr. and his brother did not leave- they were patriots who stayed; petitioned the new nation’s government and were allowed to buy back their father’s lands. John Watts Jr became a member of the General Assembly of New York State and later became a Judge. Alexander Hamilton came to this country a penniless pauper, became wealthy, a landowner and ultimately the first Secretary of Treasury, designed the country’s financial system and his image is engraved on our ten dollar bills- he was buried in this cemetery after a political foe, Aaron Burr shot him in a duel which was considered shameful, so he was buried in a remote corner of this graveyard-yet, even in death- we Americans came to honor this man- we might say- he was ‘resurrected’ as an historical figure. Trinity Church was first built in the late 1600’s, one of the first churches in America. It later burned to the ground during the Great Fire of New York City. A second Trinity Church was built on this site in the late 1700’s and was severely weakened by heavy snowfall. The current church was built in the late 1800’s as a masterpiece, a beautiful thriving church in the heart of the Financial District, visited by Queen Elizabeth, it ministers to the poor with low income housing, feeding the poor and it’s own- John Watts Jr. heirs established an orphanage and children’s services in his name-Leake and Watts Services,Inc which operates to this day, helping more than 5000 children each year. Their lives and the life of this church are the stories of human history, the rise, fall and resurrection out of shame, hurt-filled events, some not of their own making and of hope and faith.

‘For faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.’

Hebrews 11:1

Jesus said ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life…’ John 11:24 – Jesus said, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to them that believe…’ Mark 9:23  As we sing…’Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…’

Can I get an Amen?


Have a Blessed Lord’s Day!   Love y’all, Camellia

Four Days- the Lazarus Principle- chapter 38 Four Days- the Lazarus Principle chapter 38

Roses…

 

The roses are unbelievable this spring!  I never thought I would be able to successfully grow roses. I tried- I knew folks who could- they worked at it, they studied it, they tended to them. All of that changed when Knockout Roses arrived in my garden! My prize heirloom ‘New Dawn’ running roses were the only ones before- one magnificent flush was worth it all. Now? I’m surprised every year that I have roses! I had to show them off and a few from Walter’s veterinarian’s too; with a rosebud by an azalea, an iris and a sunbeam or two, enjoy these stunning rose photos. Then I hope you will take time to read portions of a favorite prayer written by George Matheson…    imageThey need to be pruned down, but I don’t have the heart to discourage them yet…

 

How blessed we are to enjoy so much beauty; delicacy among thorns. Everyone knows how sweet rosebuds are, and no one doubts the loveliness of dewy young blooms- but we ladies of a certain age, must not forget -a rose is at its peak of beauty when in full bloom.

Many years ago, a young Scottish minister learned he would soon go blind. His fiancé told him that she could not bear to marry a blind man; she broke their engagement and his heart. Many believe that this talented minister and writer of hymns considered his blindness and his broken heart to be the proverbial ‘thorn in his side’. As he grew older and more learned in Scripture, Matheson began to see the truth of Apostle Paul’s admonition ‘ in everything give thanks ‘; and the old Christian also wrote this- ‘I am thankful for my thorn, for when I am weak, His Power shows up best’. George Mattheson must have agreed as he wrote this beautiful prayer in the late 1800s…

‘My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn. I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but not once for my thorn…Thou, Divine Love…teach me the glory of my cross, teach me the value of my thorn. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. ..show me that my tears have made my rainbow…’

*emphasis mine- portions from http://www.SermonIndex.net  Classic Christian Writing

I suppose if we live long enough – things happen-things we wish would change; a hurtful thing -which becomes a ‘thorn’ in our sides.  Apostle Paul and George Matheson learned the secret of contentment- they learned the lesson of the Thorn. This Sunday, let us thank God for our thorns as we thank Him a thousand times for our roses.

Have a blessed Sunday, love y’all, Camellia