Archive | April 2013

The Road I Travel

“The Road Not Taken”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and sorry I could not travel both And be one traveller, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim because it was grassy and wanted wear; though as for that, the passing there had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay in leaves no feet had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.

(Robert Frost)

I have written before about the things I have seen in my travels. But today, something really struck me. My trip to work each day is just breathtakingly beautiful! I especially love turning on to Valley Camp Road as I head to Camp Joy El. What a treat to the eyes! Just a couple of weeks ago, I got to see bunch after bunch of lovely white flowers blooming on the banks as I turned on to Valley Camp Road. Memories came flooding back to me of when I was a little girl and we saw these little flowers blooming one day as I was traveling with my mom and dad and grandma. Grandma said, “Oh look! Dutchman’s breeches!” I thought that was a funny name for the pretty little white flowers. My dad pulled the car over and we got out to look. Sure enough, these little beauties look like a row of white pants hanging on a clothesline!  My mother, who carried a spade in the car for moments like these, dug up one or two of the plants to take home and transplant into her flowerbed. They still bloom there every Spring.

Just as the dutchman’s breeches were beginning to lose their luster, a new beauty appeared. I noticed them first closest to the creek that runs through that area. Clumps of dainty blue flowers dotted the creek bank and the surrounding areas. There were just enough dutchman’s breeches left to add to the loveliness. Virginia bluebells. Again, these flowers evoke a memory. When I was in high school, my best friend, Tammy and a fellow named Joe would go to James Buchanan High School every Saturday in the Spring to help run the greenhouse. One day, Joe brought with him a plant he wanted identified. Mr. Frick, the horticulture teacher who ran the greenhouse project told him to set the pot aside until he had a chance to look up the flower. Joe had put a popsicle stick tag in the pot labeled “Joe Fitz-unknown”. A short time after, my mom came to make her purchases at the greenhouse. She took one look at the pot and exclaimed, “Virginia bluebells!” The plant had been identified, and my mother ended up leaving with the potted treasure. She planted them, popsicle tag and all and each year there after (even to this day) we look for “Joe Fitz-unknown” to come up in our flower beds!

Very soon, there was a yellow flower added to the mix. Wild yellow mustard began blooming amongst the Virginia bluebells. This too evoked a memory of the field around my childhood home that would become a sea of yellow each Spring. The wind would blow through the blooms and it looked as though there were waves of yellow coming toward you as you looked across the land. I recall one field in particular close to my grandparent’s home that stayed awash with yellow blooms for several weeks each Spring. I knew when we got to the field of mustard, we were almost at Grandma’s house.

Another new white flower appeared just days after the mustard flowers began blooming. Star of Bethlehem flowers began to dot the banks adding to the bouquet of beauty. This time the memory these little flowers brought back was an amusing one. My parents had gotten several loads of fill dirt to create a more level area around our house. We spent hours moving dirt and getting it to be “just right”. Grass seed was planted several times, as the birds wouldn’t leave it alone. The Spring after we did all this work, we waited in anticipation to see if the grass had finally “taken”. Instead of a lush thick lawn full of green grass, we started to see thin green and white leaves protruding from the ground. Soon, there were spikes of white flowers everywhere! My mother was annoyed, but I was thrilled! These flowers were so easy to pick for big bouquets of flowers and mixed in with dandelions, looked quite beautiful to a little girl. “Star of Bethlehem flowers!” my mother sighed. “We’ll never get rid of all of these!” She spent many years pulling them out and tossing them away. She eventually gave up….it was a losing battle!

Today, to  my delight, I saw yet another splash of color on the banks of Valley Camp Road. Wild red columbine. I have always loved the various varieties of columbine, but find the wild red columbine is my favorite. It is the first to bloom every Spring and is more lacey and dainty than the propagated varieties I’ve purchased from greenhouses. I have some of this beautiful flower, again thanks to a sighting of this flower by my grandmother. We were driving around one Sunday afternoon over some mountain roads when she spotted it. Again, mom’s spade dug up some of the tender plants and found new homes in her flowerbed. She later gave me some for mine.

Now that we are heading into the month of May, I know I will soon see wild phlox blooming. I love to see this flower in it’s rainbow of colors. I don’t know yet if this flower will appear on Valley Camp Road, but it does bloom heavily on Filer Road which is close to me. So I will get to see the pink, blue, purple and white hues of this flower soon. When my hubby, David, realized I liked this wild flower too, he began to carry a spade with him so that he could dig up some of these for me! I now have some white and purple among the other flowers in my garden!

I just love arriving on Valley Camp Road each day. It is a blessing to my eyes and my memories. I can’t help but think of the verses from Matthew 6:28b-29 – “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” I can’t help but think that there is nothing that man can make that is more beautiful than what God puts on His “canvas” of earth. I also thought of the Robert Frost poem…”Two roads diverged….” Valley Camp Road is not a “road less travelled” by any means, but I like to think of it as a little patch of heaven, untouched by man where God can express Himself and I want to always be able to see His handiwork no matter what road I choose.

♥Miriam

New Friends in Different Places

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The last of my choral concerts for the year took me to Mechanicsburg. We were at Grantham Brethren in Christ Church as a matter of fact. I must say that this church possibly has the best acoustics I’ve ever encountered in my life and we (for an unprofessional group) sounded awesome!!  The crowd wasn’t really big, but I saw a few familiar faces in the crowd, many of which surprised me that they had traveled this far just to see us. At the end of the concert, I stayed on stage a bit longer and talked with my friend Michelle from the choir. I sort of felt like I hadn’t really had a good chance to talk with her the whole choir season, so it was nice to take a few moments to catch up with her. I was the last to leave the stage.

Katie ran up to me at that point because she “missed me” as she said.  At that moment, a lady from the audience came up to me. Now, this is not an unusual occurrance. Perfect strangers come up to me all the time after concerts to say nice things about my solos (a lot which I’m not sure I truly deserve), so I smiled and said “hello” just like I usually do when I meet a stranger.

The lady smiled at me and said, “Hi, Miriam.” (Okay, I wasn’t surprised….my name was in the program). But then she looked at Katie and says, “You’re Katie.” A million thoughts raced through my mind in that second. Things like, “That was weird,” and “Wow, she’s good!” and “She’s not a stalker is she?”

I looked at her and said, “Yes, this is Katie.”

She sort of giggled and said, “I follow your blog!”

Waves of relief washed over me! I was so excited! Wow! Who would have thought! We discovered that we have several mutual friends (that surprised me, but yet didn’t. I have great friends that share my stuff so this didn’t come as a true surprise). We soon discovered that her daughter is close in age to Katie and likes to play softball too. Ironically, her daughter’s name was Katelyn! 🙂

I was so glad that she came up to me and told me that she was one of my blog readers. It just made my night!

Thinking of my new “friend” made me think of a little poem my grandma used to recite:

Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.                                                                                                                  

A circle is round, it has no end. That’s how long, I will be your friend.                                                                                                             

A fire burns bright, it warms the heart. We’ve been friends, from the very start.                                                                                   

You have one hand, I have the other. Put them together, We have each other.                                                                                      

Silver is precious, Gold is too. I am precious, and so are you.                                                                                                                          

You help me, and I’ll help you and together we will see it through.                                                                                                                       

The sky is blue The Earth is green I can help to keep it clean                                                                                                                      

Across the land Across the sea Friends forever We will always be.

(Author Unknown)

Just goes to show, you never know where a new friend might pop up!

♥Miriam

Just Because You Can’t See it Doesn’t Mean it Isn’t There

I’m having one of those days again. The sad part is, I haven’t had one of these days for a while and I had been hoping I wouldn’t have a day like today particularly this week when I have a lot to accomplish.

You see, I have one of those invisible diseases. One of those diseases people think you’ve made up just because you want attention or because you want to get out of doing something. Believe me, that’s not the case. I did not choose to have this disease and I’d do anything to get rid of it, but there is no cure….once you have it, it’s always there with you.

Arthritis. There, now you know what I’m referring to. Arthritis loosely translated is “an inflammation of joints”. What this little word doesn’t tell you is everything that goes with that “inflammation of joints.” It doesn’t tell you about the stigma of having an “invisible disease”, nor does it tell you about the excruciating pain that comes with this disease no one can see.

Everyone tries to be helpful…..”You just need to rest more.” (I could sleep and lay around all day and all that would do for me is make me stiffer.)…..”You just need to lose a little weight, that’ll help.” (Some days it’s all I can do to walk across the room….the stamina to excercise is just not there.)….”Maybe if you took Tylenol.” (I could pop an M&M and get just as much relief.) So many “helpful” hints given, all with good intentions, but most of them have been tried or just not an option.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate everyone’s concern, but there are times when I just wish someone would just say something like, “I’ll pray for you,” or “Can I give you a hug?” Those things would do so much more than advice no matter how sincere it is.

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Yes, today was one of those days. One of those days where I wasn’t sure my legs would hold me up until I got across the room. A day when my knees snapped, crackled and popped louder than my breakfast cereal. A day when my arthritis med worked as well as tic tac would for pain. A day where I just wanted to lay in bed and cry because I hurt so bad. But, I didn’t do that….I kept going despite the pain and hurt.

Some people say, “You look fine to me.” It’s those times I would love to be able to let them feel what I feel and experience what I experience. They wouldn’t be so quick to say, “You look fine.” I wish people would understand that when I ask for a chair because I need to sit down it isn’t because I’m lazy…..it’s because I’m hurting and my knees feel like they’re about to give out. I wish they would understand why I can’t walk as fast as they can and perhaps slow their pace to keep up with me so I don’t feel like the slow poke of the bunch. I wish that even my doctor would be more understanding. He tries to help relieve my pain. But when he asks me if he could decrease the dose of medication or try something else like an over-the-counter medication (all of which do nothing for the pain), I wish he wouldn’t look at me like I’m a drug-addict when I say, “no, I can’t.” I’ve tried going without my medication….I can’t make it more than a day without it.   I wish when I use my handicap placard at the grocery store and get out of my van that people wouldn’t look at me as though they were disgusted because I’m “obviously not handicapped.” I wish those same people would ignore me when I chose to use an electric grocery cart because I can’t walk through the entire store.

Oh, there are many that understand. In fact, the other day at the grocery store, a lady saw me looking at the shelves of food. She stopped beside my “scooter” and said, “Can I reach something for you?” I thanked her, but declined (what I needed was right in front of me). I saw her often through the store, she was much older than me, old enough to be my mother. She was so polite and offered to let me go ahead of her many times. Even at the check out, she offered me the spot in front of her. I thanked her for being so nice, since so many people aren’t. She said, “It’s nothing. I would want people to do the same for me. I have many friends with arthritis and mobility issues. It’s hard.” Wow! Here was a person who got it! Even though she couldn’t see my disease, she knew. I wish there were more people like her.

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I have many friends who suffer from these invisible diseases….Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, or worse yet, cancer….just to name a few. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It’s real…very real.

But I have hope. I have hope that once I reach age 50, I might be able to get a knee replacement(s) because health insurance will then deem me “old enough” to have the surgery. I have hope that God can heal even chronic and debilitating diseases such as this (and honestly, in past months, He has given me more good days than bad!). I have hope that when I do get to heaven, there will be no more canes, no more electric grocery carts, no more pain meds, no more handicaped placards, and no more ignorance.

The apostle Paul knew about suffering. After all, he had a “thorn in the flesh.” But Paul also wrote in Romans 8:18  “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” I think he wanted us to know that we don’t have dwell on our suffering and pain. We should dwell on what God can and will do for us. That’s difficult to do when you’re having a bad “invisible disease” day, but I think it’s exactly the medicine that might be the best for us.

♥Miriam

A Joyful Noise

Psalm 100:1 – “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.”

How do you make a joyful noise? Do you sing? Do you play an instrument? What is the noise you make that is joyful to the Lord?

I find the giggle from a baby makes me smile…that’s joyful. The chirping of birds outside on a sunny day….that’s joyful. The splashing of a trickling stream or a roaring waterfall….another joyful noise.

Personally, I love to make a joyful noise to the Lord with my voice. I love to sing (and those of you who follow this blog know that!) and most of all, I love to sing praises to God. I also enjoy playing the piano. Though I’m not at all an expert at it, I do spend a lot of time expressing myself through my piano music as well. To me, it’s a joyful noise.

Tonight, I got to enjoy hearing a joyful noise from my daughter! She performed in her first musical instrument concert….a recorder concert. I fully expected to go and have my ears assaulted. After all, how good could a fourth grade ensemble of recorder players sound? I fully expected to hear the occasional squeak from misplaced fingers on the holes or a note played out of rhythm, but I didn’t notice much of that this evening.

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These kids were having fun up there! They didn’t care if it was perfect. They didn’t care if they missed an occasional note. All they cared about was if their parents were watching them from the audience and seeing them applaud at the end of each song.

I couldn’t help but think about what God thinks when we attempt to make a joyful noise to Him. He doesn’t care if we’re off-key; he doesn’t care if we forget the words and just hum the tune. All He cares about is the fact that we are trying to show our love to Him by praising His name.

God loves joyful noises. I know this is true. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have given us so many beautiful things to hear!

When was the last time you made a “joyful noise?” There’s no better time than the present!

♥Miriam

♫Take me OUT of the ball game!♫

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Do you remember the “good old days”? You know, those days when we could run around the neighborhood unafraid of those we would meet. Those days when it was hot outside and it was still okay to drink from the water hose? Those days when you worked for everything you got and nothing was just handed to you?

Those good old days are gone. I am concerned for our younger generation. It’s taken the sport of softball and baseball to bring this concern to light for me.

Back when I was a kid (now I’m sounding like my mother or worse yet, my grandparents!) when we played organized sports it was vastly different than playing sports today.  We kept score. We won or we lost. We got awards if we EARNED them. (I could go on and on here.)

Now that my daughter plays softball, I find it absolutely appalling the way this sport is handled at this age level.  At certain levels of the sport, they don’t even keep score at the games. When I asked about this, I was told, “It doesn’t matter who wins (okay, I’ll agree with that) so we just let everyone play (again, I’ll agree) and just have fun.”

Okay, fine. This is “do-able.”  So then I ask, “When we get to the play offs, how do you determine who wins the championship if you’re not keeping score?”

“Oh, we’ll keep score then to determine how they finish.”

Ah, wait a minute. Back up here. So, you don’t keep score all season long, the girls are clueless as to if they won or lost and then all of a sudden when it’s playoff time scores are important? Don’t you think that’s a little confusing for the kids?

Knowing this ahead of time, parents would sit in the stands with tablets and scrap paper, keeping score themselves just so they could know who won or lost. “Who wins or loses isn’t important,” they say. Really? Tell that to the next 2 candidates for president. I think they would beg to differ that it DOES matter who wins or not.

When playoff time finally came around, Katie’s team lost their first game and were automatically eliminated from the rest of the playoffs. I started to help Katie pack up her gear and we started toward the van. “Wait! Come back! They all need to get their awards.”

Awards? You get an award for losing now? Yup, apparently you do. Each girl on the team was given a trophy. Even Jenny* who only showed up for 3 practices and when up to bat, just kept swinging the bat whether a ball was pitched or not and struck out every last time, got a trophy.  Ellen* who spent her time dancing on the field doing pirouttes and ballet moves, never caught a ball, never got anyone out, and when up to bat always injured herself somehow (usually, it was tripping over her own feet, because again, she was trying out a dance move) got a trophy. Abbie* who was always “too tired” to play and begged to be benched as often as possible and who rarely showed up on time and never seemed to have a ride home afterward, and only had one good hit the whole season, who also had a vocabulary that would make a sailor blush got a trophy. (*Names have been changed.)

What did this teach these three girls. It sure didn’t teach them that they have to work hard to earn something. It taught them that they could just goof off and get a trophy just like the other girls on the team who played their hearts out during unscored games. It taught them that they didn’t even have to show up to get the prize in the end.

This is just outrageous! Why can’t we go back to how it was? You know…where you kept score, there were winners and losers. The winners went out for icecream and the losers just went home. The ultimate winners got the big trophy for the team and little individual trophies for each player. The other teams got some sort of ribbon or token for participating, but nothing more. Everyone went home knowing that those who won the championship had worked hard to get there. They didn’t get the award just for showing up.

It disgusts me how we put our children in cocoons and try to protect them from disappointment and failure. No one wants to fail, but sometimes our greatest growth comes through failing.

How I miss the “good old days” when it wasn’t all sunshine and roses….but at least we knew right from wrong and that you don’t get a free ride. So, take me out of the ball game. I don’t want to play this way anymore. I’d love for our children to know what it is truly like to be a child. There are successes and there are failures. That’s life. What our children are living today is just a fairy tale. Hopefully, they’ll all turn out alright despite the sheltered life we force them to live.

I know this isn’t a typical post for me, but just something that I’ve been “stewing” on for a while and just needed to get it off my chest!

Thanks for reading!

♥Miriam

A Prince of a Dad and His Princess

I thought it was time to get an entry on this blog! I can’t believe how many days have passed since I’ve done a post!! Life gets busy and time flies….you all know those cliche’s.

This weekend, I had the privledge to be part of Joy El’s Father/Daughter Connection. (No, I wasn’t a participant….I don’t meet the age requirements for the retreat!) I got to help as a staff member. What a delight to see these daddies and daughters interact with each other!

The theme of the weekend was “A Prince of Dad and His Princess”. The royal theme was carried out all weekend long. Dads and daughters alike were issued sparkly foil crowns to wear. Some dads were really into it and wore their crown all weekend long (my hubby did)! I was glad that my husband and daughter were able to be a part of this special time together this weekend. They couldn’t go last year due to Dave being head coach for Katie’s softball team.  This year was different and they were both excited to be able to come.

This is not from this weekend, but I thought this showed their "royal" status quite well!

This is not from this weekend, but I thought this showed their “royal” status quite well!

The very first evening as the speaker spoke and gave his testimony, the dads had his full attention. During the course of the weekend, I never saw this change. He had them interested in hearing what he had to say about this all-important relationship. That first evening, Prince Scott (the speaker) asked his princess wife (Fran) up to the stage to share her testimony with the girls. Soon, everyone was dismissed for some free time before bed. I went to run the camp store. As a Development Coordinator for the camp, part of my job is to interact with our guests and donors as much as possible, so I was chatting with each one who came into the store. One dad and his daughter came in, and I asked the little girl how she was liking the retreat so far. She smiled at me and said, “I like it a lot.”

Her daddy said, “Tell Miss Miriam the special thing you did tonight.”

She looked at me and grinned, the smile lighting up her face, and very shyly she said, “I asked Jesus into my heart tonight!”

Her dad explained that after the evening session, she asked him if they could talk and she shared that she wanted to ask Jesus to be her Savior. What an honor this princely dad had to lead his princess to the Lord!

Of course, being the emotional person that I am (I get that honestly from my prince of a dad), I immediately got tears in my eyes as I thought just how special that moment was and how neither of them will ever forget it. (I’m getting all teary just writing about it again!)

The weekend wasn’t all about speakers and learning sessions, there was a great amount of fun involved too! The dads and their daughters got to ride go karts, canoe, archery, play games, mini golf, and my husband’s favorite….gaga ball. Now gaga ball is just that….”gaga”. It’s crazy! It’s like a mix of dodge ball, volley ball and foursquare all rolled into one. Everyone is “gaga” for gaga ball.

Dave the "king" of gaga ball!

Dave the “king” of gaga ball!

The pic of Dave playing gaga ball is courtesy of my boss who also attended with his two princesses.

Saturday evening was the highlight and culmination of my purpose in being here for the weekend….the Royal Banquet. What a delightful evening! The “princes” picked up their “princesses” at their cabins, gave them a flower and escorted them to the Royal Banquet where they enjoyed a lovely candlelight dinner. The food was awesome and I had the privledge of being the one to decorate and plan the flow of the evening. I greeted each prince and princess as they entered the Royal Dining Hall and they were escorted to their tables. I truly think each dad appreciated the ambience of the evening and the time spent to make it special for them. I sort of felt like Cinderella at the ball….I didn’t want the evening to end. 🙂

Royal Father/Daughter Banquet!

Royal Father/Daughter Banquet!

This weekend wasn’t just about having fun. It was about building the father/daughter relationship. It was about giving them time to connect and bond away from the hustle and bustle of the world. It was about giving the opportunity for them to share their hopes and dreams. It was about the chance to work on issues in their relationship. It was also, and most importantly, about these men and young ladies being able to connect with God.

I really think that happened this weekend. Seeds have been planted, relationships strengthened, love has grown deeper.

Our theme verse for the weekend was I Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” No one will be able to leave here this weekend not knowing that they can be royalty in the kingdom of God. He is our King and we are His princes and princesses. I know that one little girl came out of darkness this weekend…I can’t wait to hear how many more did the same!

I’m so glad that Dave and Katie got to be a part of this. I’m so thankful for my “prince” of a husband who has proved to be the best dad a girl could ever hope for. I’m thankful too, that my dad has been a “prince” as well throughout my life. He has given me a godly example to follow.  God bless all His princes and princesses of this world! Can’t wait to get my royal crown one day in heaven….and I’m sure it will be much more wonderful than a simple paper crown. It will be so wonderful that none of us will be able to comprehend it’s glory!

♥Miriam