Spring’s 1st Lily

A picture is worth a thousand words . . . God’s surpass all words.

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil or spin; and yet I say to you’ even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these”. – Luke 12:27

Tourist Insanity

I’m doubt this dude was the class Valedictorian.  When I suggested he consider backing off he replied, “I bet I could pet it”. Fortunately, this yearling bear preferred to continue munching on walnuts rather than dine on Tourist T-Bone 😊

“I bet I could pet it”.
Not the class Valedictorian
Munching by the walnut tree

Wildflower Phastasmagoria

I would have liked to have seen the whole world with eyes incapable of anything but wonder, and with a tongue fluent only in praise” – The Prince of Tides.

Such was mine wandering through the forest today gingerly treading among a vibrant patchwork of diminutive Spring blooms carpeting the forest floor, totally immersed in what Celtic monks referred to as a Thin Place  . . . where the gap between the natural and supernatural worlds narrow.

Look how the wildflowers grow; they do not work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers”. – Luke 12:27

I M Blessed . . . May U B 2

Wildflowers, Spring, Flowers, Great Smoky Mountains, Beauty, Nature, Flora, Inspiration, Faith, God, The Prince of Tides

Claude Monet Sunset

Controlled burns in the Smokies added to their haze creating a Claude Monet sunset . . . a ‘picture perfect’ way to end the day.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands”. – Psalm 19:1
Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!

Smoky Mountain Sunset
Redbud Blooms
Hazy Dusk

Jeremy’s Egg

The unfiltered eyes and minds of children see things adults have forgotten to notice, and perceive the simple beauty of their significance.

I’ve shared this story at Easter before, but some stories are worth re-reading. Jeremy’s Egg portrays Easter’s meaning through the eyes and mind of a child with a precious understanding that no sermon has ever revealed to me. May it bless you as it has me, and continues to bless and humble me to strive to have the unfiltered vision and simple trusting faith of a child.

Let the little children to come to me, and do not hinder the, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”. – Jesus

Thank you Jeremy . . . Thank you Jesus . . . Happy Easter!

Jeremy’s Egg

Ida Mae Kemple

Jeremy was born with a twisted body, a slow mind and a chronic terminal illness that had been slowly killing him all his young life.  Still, his parents had tried to give him as normal a life as possible and sent him to St. Theresa’s Elementary School.

At the age of 12, Jeremy was only in second grade, seemingly unable to learn.  His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him.  He would squirm in his seat, drool and make grunting noises.

At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain.  Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher.  One day, she called his parents and asked them to come to St. Theresa’s for a consultation.

As the Forresters sat quietly in the empty classroom, Doris said to them, “Jeremy really belongs in a special school.  It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’t have learning problems.  Why, there is a five-year gap between his age and that of the other students!

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue while her husband spoke.  “Miss Miller,” he said, “there’s no school of that kind nearby.  It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school.  We know he really likes it here.

Doris sat for a long time after they left, staring at the snow outside the window.  Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul.  She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters.  After all, their only child had a terminal illness.  But it wasn’t fair to keep him in her class.  She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy would be a distraction.  Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write.  Why waste any more time trying?

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her.  “Oh God,” she said aloud, “here I am complaining, when my problems are nothing compared with that poor family!  Please help me be more patient with Jeremy.

From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares.  Then one day he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him.

I love you Miss Miller,” he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear.  The other students snickered, and Doris’s face turned red.  She stammered, “Wh – why, that’s very nice, Jeremy.  Now please take your seat.

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter.  Doris told them the story of Jesus, and to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg.  “Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life.  Do you understand?

Yes, Miss Miller!” the children responded enthusiastically –  all except Jeremy.  He just listened intently; his eyes never left her face.  He did not even make his usual noises.

Had he understood what she had said about Jesus’s death and resurrection?  Did he understand the assignment?  Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them.

That evening, Doris’s kitchen sink stopped up.  She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it.  After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day.  She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents.

The next morning 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk.  After they had completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs.

In the first egg, Doris found a flower.  “Oh, yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life,” she said.  “When plants peek through the ground, we know that Spring is here.”  A small girl in the first row waved her arm.  “That’s my egg, Miss Miller,” she called out.

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real.  Doris held it up.  “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly.  Yes, that is new life, too.”  Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Miss Miller, that one is mine!

Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it.  She explained that moss, too, showed life.  Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom.  “My daddy helped me!” he beamed.

Then Doris opened the fourth egg.  She gasped.  The egg was empty!  Surely it must be Jeremy’s, she thought, and, of course, he did not understand the instructions.  If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents.  Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.

Suddenly Jeremy spoke up.  “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?

Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy –  your egg is empty!”  He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’s tomb was empty too!

Time stopped.  When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?

Oh, yes!” Jeremy exclaimed.  “Jesus was killed and put in there.  Then his Father raised him up!

The recess bell rang.  While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried.  The cold inside her melted completely away.

Three months later Jeremy died.  Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.

Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!

Last Words

Having the last word may be of benefit in a discussion, but of what benefit will your last words be?

As though it was yesterday, the last words my mother spoke to me before going Home at 93 still echo in my heart . . . “Later Freddy”. Those two words spoke, and continue to speak, the confident hope of eternal reunion someday.

Four words, cried out in inconceivable anguish, sealed that reunion on a cross 2,000 years ago . . . Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?  . . . My God, my God, why hast thou  forsaken me?” – Matthew 27:46

In the words of Pastor John Ortberg:

The cross is the ultimate paradox: God experiencing the absence of God so that He can draw closest to us in our loss and grief. Jesus was in a sense never closer to us than when He was furthest from the Father”.

Wherever this Easter may find you, be it in trail or triumph, my prayer is you will find the confident hope of reunion in knowing the One whose last four words uttered in death, conquered it, and loved you into eternal life.

Forgiven- Thomas Blackshear II

This picture sits on my desk reminding me how totally forgiven and loved I am, and the reunion that awaits

Spring Splendor

On the western side of the Great Smoky Mountains lies Ashville, NC, an eclectic small town and home to the Biltmore Estate.

America’s largest private home, George Washington Vanderbilt II had it built during 1880s. A quaint, châteauesque style, 135,280sq. ft., 250-room edifice, it’s tucked away on 8,000 acres. George affectionately referred to it as his “little mountain escape” 😊.

Wandering among their meticulously manicured gardens is a sure-fire, spirit boosting, creation wonder walk!

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these”. – Luke 12:27

Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!

Contemplating Mortality

Youth’s active exuberance struggles to comprehend the laid-back contentment of many senior citizens who have Been there – Seen it – Done it,  particularly when it concerns mortality. Why is it those in the latter chapters of their life’s story are often those most at peace with reaching The End?

Mother Nature highlighted mortality on yesterday’s woods wander . . . bracket fungi decaying a once mighty oak and an empty mud dabber wasp dwelling clinging to a rock face found me . . . in mystical, peaceful, grateful contemplation . . . pondering the former joys youth and  homes enjoyed.

Why? . . .  while this life steadily decays and dwellings eventually become abandoned, each page turned in my life’s story authenticates that –  in spite of myself – not one of the calamitous, grim, insidious segments I wrote negated God’s unending . . . Forgiveness . . . Mercy . . . and Love towards me.

Looking closer at the abandoned mud dauber dwelling, I perceived an image symbolizing  this . . . in His-story The End is just The Beginning of my forever’s finest story.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have to you. I go to prepare a place for you.’ – John 14:2 . . . there’s an immortality promise you can take to heaven.

I realize I’m a little weird . . . but honestly, aren’t we all in some way? That’s the one-of-a-kind, individual uniqueness He placed in our DNA to spice up each others’ lives . . . thanks for sharing yours 😊

Pity Party Perspective

I’m definitely a sunshine fan. The recent stretch of rainy, cloudy weather has me yearning for the sun to pop back out and dispel the damp, gloomy overcast. Such were my thoughts up on the mountain, on the verge of having a little pity party.

Gazing out over the gray shrouded Smokies, a lone pine cone caught my attention. If anything rates a pity party, it’s that solitary pine cone clinging to a branch on the edge of a cliff . . . “Hang in there buddy!” 😊 

A quote from The Prince of the Tides came to mind . . . I would like to have the seen the whole world with eyes incapable of anything but wonder, and with a tongue fluent only in praise.” . . . rain or shine, my pity party perspective needs revising.                                 
Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!

Giving Trees

Oak Tree

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is one of my favorite children’s books. It’s a story about a tree that keeps on giving, and a boy who keeps on taking. Finally, upon becoming an old, the man cuts down the tree to sit on its stump “… and the tree was happy”. Such where were my thoughts traveled today as this ‘old’ man roamed the forest.

Trees have always invoked a sense of reverence in me. Who cannot stand in awe at the base of a thousand-year-old, 300 ft. massive redwood? Imagine the stories these towering, silent witnesses to history could tell of what has passed beneath their limbs over centuries.

Trees are Nature’s quintessential givers. Providing a hodgepodge of lumber, firewood, food, paper, rubber, medicine, etc., and the O2 we inhale, they filter the CO2 we exhale along with that released by environmental and the fossil fuel emissions. In return they require only H2O and nutrients from the soil, both of which they replenish through transpiration and decomposition in death.

Besides giving, trees are role models of strength and adaptation. Rooted  in the harsh alkaline soils eastern California’s White Mountains, confirmed to be 4,854 years old, stands Methuselah. An ancient bristlecone pine tree, it’s the world’s second oldest known tree. Nearby, unnamed at protected secret location, is Methuselah’s 5,069-year-old grandfather, the world’s oldest tree . . . imagine the stories this gnarled, ‘elderly’ pair could tell!

Trees epitomize the Scripture “… to have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” – Philippians 4:11. Sprouting wherever their seeds fall to earth, they are surrounded by generations of progeny, conversing with each other in rustles and whispers on the wind. Perhaps trees’ ultimate source of strength, adaptation and ability to give lies in their unchangeable behavior to ever grow towards the sun.

Legend has it there once was a Great Oak tree from which the beams of Christ’s Cross were hewn. Consequently, the Great Oak was paradoxically both cursed and blessed.

Cursed to forever become a Dogwood tree, small with crooked branches, unsuitable for building anything. Blessed with white, cross shaped, four petaled flowers having a cluster resembling a “crown of thorns” at their centers, each petal tipped with a ‘nail dent’ tinged in red, reminiscent of drops of blood spilled at Calvary.

Throughout this Lenten season, this Easter, and beyond may we enjoy the folklore of the Dogwood legend; rejoice in the Resurrection’s ultimate sacrifice; and claim the certainty of the Cross’s gift of Salvation offered . . . and, like the trees that fill our forests . . . may we live each new day giving back, ever growing towards the Son.

Dogwood Flower