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Spring is here!

March 20th, 2014 by stephanie



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“Spring is here…” Those were the opening words to one of the tunes I sang back in the day. That “Day” was when I was the front girl for a 17-piece stage band.  I loved my days with the boys. They were incredible musicians, and I was honored to be a part. More than that, I just simply LOVED jazz. That genre of music to me, Smooth Jazz, actually, is like a fresh spring breeze. To me, at least.

Though our friends in the northern regions may not be “feeling” it just quite yet, believe it or not, Spring begins today. March 20 to be exact.

Spring in our neck of the woods lasts only two months – March through May. During that short time, it gives us Easter, Passover and May Day to name a few special events.

In spring, science tells us that the axis of the Earth begins to tilt toward the Sun. The length of daylight increases if you’re the hemisphere closest to the sun. That hemisphere begins to warm up which causes  new plant growth to “spring forth.” Thus the name SPRING.

If you live in or travel to the southern states, one of the famous sites during this time is that of the blooming Dogwoods. If you’re a literature buff, you may recall they used to be called Whipple trees. (Think Chaucer’s Cantebury Tales.)

If you aren’t familiar with the flower that this tree produces, it’s quite fascinating. So’s the legend of the Dogwood.  As the story goes, Jesus was crucified on a cross made of it’s wood.  To remember his death, the flowers speak to that story. If you have ever seen the blooms you’ll notice that the flower’s four petals are cross-shaped (representing the four corners of the cross) and each bears a rusty indentation like that of a nail. In addition, the red stamens of the flower represent Jesus’ crown of thorns and the clustered red fruit represents his blood.

And there you have it. More conversation starters
for that next trip to the water cooler or board meeting.

Happy Spring!

Stephanie

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Now, Be Nice…

September 6th, 2012 by stephanie

“Be nice.” I can hear those words in my head as if my mother is saying them to me right now. She liked to say them. Alot. And it drove me crazy, but the older I get, I see how much pain and suffering, in the end, that little phrase can and would have saved me-had I listened.

I would imagine most of you are familiar with this line: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. If it didn’t come from our mothers it came from some other well meaning soul that simply was trying to help us along our way.

Sometimes, it’s not even the saying of anything that hurts–it can simply be the actions. More times than not, I can remember when someone didn’t have to say a word. They were just cold, or cruel, or intentional in their behavior. They are making sure that they get their point or message across. To you or me. I think you follow me on this one.

It’s amazing how people can say something and make it sound like you just cut them off in traffic. It’s that sting or tone that is meant to inflict injury on the person they hurl it at. Sometimes it’s even just a look.

It never ceases to amaze me when people are in that frame of mind are determined to take out their anger on you. They have a need to make you feel that their struggle is really all your fault. Strange.

For whatever reason, they need to let you know, in some way, that they are just plain angry with you. Even more so, that they simply don’t like you. The thrill of the “jab”, I call it.

I don’t understand how their treatment of you, or me, in those situations makes them feel better, but alas, I guess it does. Perhaps someone hurt them at some point in their life, and they are still wincing from the pain. As a result, they will make someone else pay for that experience. And today, that someone might turn out to be you-or me. Lucky us!

Regardless of the odd-bird whoozits or whatzits in our lives today, let’s plan to remember this old saying too: misery loves company.

With that, let’s not join in on the “anger” or the “tantrum” or the revenge . If we can help it. And to be honest, usually we can. As for you and me, my friend, if we can’t say something nice, we’ll let’s just smile, go about our business, and not say anything at all. It’s leaves us feeling better about ourselves and.. it’s simply the “nice” thing to do.

Just my thoughts.

Stephanie

Prov. 15:1

Do You Celebrate Feb 2nd?

January 25th, 2012 by stephanie

There’s a holiday, of sorts, that many of us probably won’t celebrate too wildly.

How Ground Hog Day managed to find its way to “holiday” status is a mystery to most humble Americans.

Where the day originated from, I truly didn’t know. A little time searching the internet however, uncovered Ground Hog Day as a Pennsylvania Dutch (German) custom dating back to the 1700s. Our European ancestors, it seems, brought the tradition with them to the new world. Apparently, in the “old country”, a badger or “sacred bear” was the original weatherman.

For you trivia buffs, February 2nd also coincides with the Catholic Candlemas, and, it once also marked a Celtic holiday by the name of Imbolc. But back to our burrowing critter…

Punxsutawney Phil, is a superstar these days. His appearance from his hole now involves social events, food, speeches and entertainment. Crowds of up to 40,000 in attendance have been known to gather in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, since 1886.

The earliest American reference has been found in the diary of storekeeper James Morris (Berks County, Pennsylvania) :
February 5, 1841
“Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.”

This winter has, overall, been pretty mild…so far. At least for those of us here in the South. But that doesn’t mean anything just yet. February could bring some interesting surprises. One never knows. I guess we’ll have to wait to see what the Ground Hog has to say.

Just my thoughts,

S.
HAPPY GROUND HOG DAY!

Divine Appointments: Do You Know Them?

July 29th, 2011 by stephanie

It was a cold crisp day in Manhattan. Winter in the Big Apple can be really miserable when you have to walk. So, as I exited my business meeting and stepped out onto the sidewalk it was a treat to find that there was no wind, rain, or snow in sight. The only thing I was sure of was the looming Macy’s sign ahead – my next destination. Shopping! There’s just something nostalgic about that historic, nine- story department store with the wooden escalators on 34th street. A by-gone era of New York to be sure. And when I am in The City, it’s priority!

After taking a few steps, for some reason I turned my head to the right. Squeezed inbetween two buildings, and the next street over, I could see the name of a large book store chain. It was not a location on my list, but I was intrigued none the less. I realized that I did actually have a gift I needed to buy, and I could find it there, so why not give it a whirl.

Once inside I randomly headed for an information booth to begin the quest for my upcoming purchase. As the sales clerk searched the database, a young female customer approached the counter. A very hard to understand accent tried to ask in English, “Do you have any Christian books with verses?”

At that moment, I just knew. Here was a woman deep in the heart of New York looking for a Christian book, in a secular big city book store. That’s about like asking for fresh fish at Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley. When she said the word Christian, I calmly looked around to see if any Wicca members had suddenly passed out cold on the tile. But no such incidence seemed to be taking place, so I waited for her to finish. Once I caught the expected deer-in-the-headlights look from the clerk, and the wistful face of the shopper, I thought it might be OK to step in.

“Hi. I am in the Christian book industry. Maybe I can help you. They don’t have a large selection here, and I don’t know that we will find what you need, but I sure would be happy to try. Would you mind if I tried to assist you?”

An hour later, we had located two books that she could use, found information for one that she could order online once she returned home, and even managed to track down one lonely Christian bookstore in the city. To top that off, when I asked her name, she said, “Stefanie.” Well, how do you like that.

There are times when I wonder if I am in the right place and doing the right thing. Wondering if the road I have taken in life was of His doing or of my human choosing. I was actually mulling that very question over in my mind as I was walking toward that Borders bookstore that day.

Funny, God can lead me directly to a lonely soul in the heart of the Big Apple searching for truth, but I seem to feel He can’t find me or see me or meet my needs when I’m hurting. This thought truly hit me as I walked, no floated, really, out of the door of that store. I was deeply moved by all of the many details of timing that the Creator of the Universe had to bring together in order to orchestrate that haphazard meeting. And I was convicted that many times, I doubt that His eye is on me, navigating my path, guiding me along the way. Oh, me of little faith. Adventures like the one above should drive that home you’d think. At least for awhile. But alas, I tend to forget.

May we not only choose to remember, but believe in our hearts, that the One who made the spheres can certainly make them collide and interact at His bidding.

Just my thoughts,
S.

Do you know about D-Day? (June 6th)

June 5th, 2011 by stephanie

A dear friend of mine actually drove General Eisenhower’s jeep once during the great WWII. Only 3 guys from his unit of 200 made it home. Today however, we focus on another gentleman. I will talk more about my friend later…

Sitting in a hotel room that lay on the coast of England, the allied commander, known as Eisenhower, knew that a small window of opportunity was all that he had with which to work. Weather was terrible. But if it broke, as they had been notified it might, 150,000 Allied soldiers would be deployed to land on the shores of Normandy.

“An invading army had not crossed the unpredictable, dangerous English Channel since 1688 — and once the massive force set out, there was no turning back. The 5000-vessel armada stretched as far as the eye could see, transporting over 150,000 men and nearly 30,000 vehicles across the channel to the French beaches. Six parachute regiments — over 13,000 men — were flown from nine British airfields in over 800 planes. More than 300 planes dropped 13,000 bombs over coastal Normandy immediately in advance of the invasion.” (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/dday/sfeature/sf_info.html)

Paratroopers would drop at 1am. Would the weather hold? At a height of only 300 feet. In the dark. The wet. Think fast.

Men in PT boats would race toward shore. Many would get close. Some would fall short. As soldiers poured out, the 70 pound packs would sink and drown many who thought the sand lay directly beneath.

By nightfall, more than 9,000 Allied soldiers would be dead or wounded, but more than 100,000 would make it ashore, securing French coastal villages previously held hostage by Hitler’s regime.

These were depression kids. The scrappy boys that had learned to make it on their own. Those innate tricks of survival. Could there be a better training ground to prepare them for the impossible? Amidst perilous conditions? And a ruthless world tyrant to boot? Truly, a fearful task.

Those who made it through the depression learned to have a great deal of resilience and learned how to make due with what they had or could find. Older men today, if you spend time with them, are proof still that people back then were able to make the most amazing things our of the littlest stuff. What they were able to come up with was nothing short of impressive. No wonder we call them The Greatest Generation. Shaped by The Great Depression

One vet, Jim Norene, a member of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, had come alone for one last anniversary, despite having stage-four advanced cancer. Though gravely ill, he was determined to make it back to France for the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Just one more time. After he landed (in a fashion much different then his first landing), he was able to visit the American cemetery the evening before Saturday’s ceremony. Jim never made it to the ceremony, that night, he passed away in his sleep.

This man, who returned to remember and honor his buddies would not have wanted it any other way. How poignant that he was able to return to the same shores where he and his pals had said good bye only to have the ironic privilege of rejoining them from the same soil that had prematurely taken their very young lives. Now, this ailing veteran and his band of brothers could truly rest in peace. Together.

May we remember.

S.

 

Spring Is In The Air.

March 18th, 2011 by stephanie

“Spring is here…” Those were the opening words from one of the tunes I used to sing back in the day. That “Day” was when I was the front girl for a 17-piece stage band. I loved my days with “the boys”. Those guys were incredible musicians, and I was honored to be a part. More than that, I simply love jazz. That genre of music to me, Smooth Jazz, actually, is like a fresh spring breeze.

Though our friends in the Northern Regions may not be “feeling” Spring just quite yet, believe it or not, the season of flowers begins Sunday, March 20 to be exact.

Spring really only lasts about two months for us – March through May. During that short time, it gives us Easter, Passover, May Day and Mother’s Day.

If you live in, or travel to, our southern states here in the U.S., one of the famous sites during this time is that of the blooming Dogwoods. If you aren’t familiar with the flower that this tree produces, it’s quite fascinating. Interestingly, as well, is the legend of the Dogwood. As the story goes, Jesus was crucified on a cross made of it’s wood. To remember his death, the flowers speak to that story. If you have ever seen the blooms you’ll notice that the flower’s four petals are cross-shaped (representing the four corners of the cross) and each bears a rusty indentation like that of a nail. In addition, the red stamens of the flower represent Jesus’ crown of thorns and the clustered red fruit represents his blood.

And there you have it. More conversation fodder for that next trip to the water cooler or board meeting or coffee chat.

Happy Spring!

Stephanie

Fly Like an Eagle…

September 3rd, 2010 by stephanie

Remember that song? I am singing it as I write: Fly like an eagle, to the sea. Fly like an eagle let my spirit carry me…and so on. I’m showing my age by typing those lyrics, but it reminded me of the saying that calls us to soar with the eagles and not play with the turkeys. A friend sent me this story that I am sharing with you below. You’ve most likely already seen it yourself, but I thought it would be a great reminder as we go into our weekend. Something to really ponder, and too, to put a smile on your face. Enjoy!
—————————–
Harvey Mackay tells a wonderful story about a cab driver that proved this point. He was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for Harvey. He handed my friend a laminated card and said: ‘I’m Wally, your driver While I’m loading your bags in the trunk I’d like you to read my mission statement.’

Taken aback, Harvey read the card. It said: Wally’s Mission Statement: To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment…This blew Harvey away. Especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside — Spotlessly clean! As he slid behind the wheel, Wally said, ‘Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.’ My friend said jokingly, ‘No, I’d prefer a soft drink.’ Wally smiled and said, ‘No problem I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice..’ Almost stuttering, Harvey said, ‘I’ll take a Diet Coke.’ Handing him his drink, Wally said, ‘If you’d like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.’

As they were pulling away, Wally handed my friend another laminated card, These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you’d like to listen to the radio.’ And as if that weren’t enough, Wally told Harvey that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for him. Then he advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of day. He also let him know that he’d be happy to chat and tell him about some of the sights or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts.

‘Tell me, Wally,’ my amazed friend asked the driver, ‘have you always served customers like this?’ Wally smiled into the rear view mirror ‘No, not always.. In fact, it’s only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard the personal growth guru, Wayne Dyer, on the radio one day. He had just written a book called You’ll See It When You Believe It. Dyer said that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. He said, ‘Stop complaining! Differentiate yourself from your competition. Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd..’

‘That hit me right between the eyes,’ said Wally. ‘Dyer was really talking about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.’

‘I take it that has paid off for you,’ Harvey said. ‘It sure has,’ Wally replied. ‘My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I’ll probably quadruple it. You were lucky to get me today. I don’t sit at cabstands anymore. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine. If I can’t pick them up myself, I get a reliable cabbie friend to do it and I take a piece of the action.’

Wally was phenomenal. He was running a limo service out of a Yellow Cab. I’ve probably told that story to more than fifty cab drivers over the years, and only two took the idea and ran with it. Whenever I go to their cities, I give them a call. The rest of the drivers quacked like ducks and told me all the reasons they couldn’t do any of what I was suggesting. Wally the Cab Driver made a different choice. He decided to stop quacking like a duck and started soaring like an eagle.

Fly like an eagle…what does that look like in your world?
Just my thoughts.
S.

Wave Your Colors. Wear ’em Proud.

June 13th, 2010 by stephanie

I hope you have a flag somewhere. One that you can hang out in front of your home, or, perhaps place in your window. Maybe you have one of those table top stands that make for setting a flag on your kitchen or dining room table or even your desk at work. Why? Because June 14 is FLAG DAY!
FALD DAY
“So”, you ask. “Just where did this special day come from?” Well now, please allow me to divulge. 🙂

President Woodrow Wilson, back in 1916, issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day. But it wasn’t until August 1949 that National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress.

Flag Day is not an official federal holiday. But, the great Keystone State, Pennsylvania, became the first (and only) U.S. state to celebrate Flag Day as a state holiday. For you infomaniacs, you can find the offical statute in Title 36 of the United States Code, Subtitle I, Part A, CHAPTER 1, § 110.

But, know this: it is at the President’s discretion to proclaim officially the observance. So be in watch…

Flag Day used to actually include Parades and Festivities. One of the longest-running Flag Day parades is actually held annually in Quincy, Massachusetts (home of President John Adams and Abigail). Quincy celebrations began in 1952.

Appleton Wisconsin’s Flag Day Parade will (celebrating their 60th this year) will feature the U.S. Navy.

The largest Flag Day ? Well, it’s held annually in Troy, New York, and patterns itself after the Quincy parade drawing up to 50,000 spectators!

The oldest continuing Flag Day parade? Fairfield, WA. Since 1909 or 1910, Fairfield has held a parade every year since and will celebrate the “Centennial” parade this year!
[For more research click here]
and Click here.

So there you have it. Wave your colors today. Wear them proud.

Just my thoughts.
S.

It’s the Simple Things…

April 11th, 2010 by stephanie

Many of you may be familiar with the once popular reality TV show that was called The Simple Life. It featured Paris Hilton and her BFF Nicole Richie. They would travel to the more rural areas, at times, and experience life outside of the Gucci and Prada set.

Now, I have been to, and pass through, Arkansas quite often, a place the TV show also visited. But nothing is as truly “simple” as the areas where you find the Amish folk.

My mother loves to devour any fiction book that features the Amish in its theme, so, when she was visiting me once, I figured it would be fun to take her down to the Amish community a few miles away.

I can tell you, there is nothing quite like the beauty of those gorgeous horses elegantly trotting down the lane as they pull those sweet carriages. Sitting inside are very quiet, composed riders. If you are fortunate enough to catch a quick glimpse as they pass, when you look at their faces, it appears as if their thoughts are miles away, while their ride methodically makes its way through town. It is in a way a poetry in motion of its own. I could sit and watch those and similar scenes over and over again when I am in “their” neck of the woods.

As we spent some time at the produce auction, we watched the barefooted little boys in their straw hats and their blue shirts as they downed cans of Coca Cola.

The teen-aged boys huddled in a back corner off to the side. And I bet you money they were talking about girls in those hushed tones that we heard wafting over the warm breeze. Men huddled, negotiating prices and quality, while the women, in their dresses, stayed on the other side the of the building minding the little ones.

When we headed out to leave, we decided to take a drive down the dirt roads and past their homes. This was when we noticed that it was laundry day. “Wash on Monday” as the old saying goes. That made sense. Sabbath was over and it was time for a fresh new week. Gardens needed tending, food needed preparing. What they had done last week, they would begin anew during this one. They knew the drill. Season after season after season. There is something soothing about simplicity and routine.

It got to me. “Why do we feel the need to be so busy?” And, more than that, I got to thinking, “Why do I need so much stuff?” These people are truly of the “…with food and clothing, with these we shall be content” crowd. It was at the least – inspiring.

I don’t know about you, but the more I am around money, or those who have it, I find that I too need, well, more. Why? I have no idea. I have food. I have clothes. But suddenly I feel that I need that special new handbag or that condo at the beach. However, when I step away, even for a short time (like I did for those few hours that day in Amish Country) to where the simple life is led, it’s amazing the perspective that comes washing over me. These people require very little. And their lives seem healthy and whole. Perfect? No. But there’s something to be said for the simple life, I’m just sayin’.

Tell you what, if we find ourselves stressing and straining this week over the “don’t haves”, let’s agree to pause, if you will, and ask ourselves three things: Do we have clothes? Do we have food? Do we have a roof over our head? If you and I can answer “yes” to each of those questions, for today, I’d say we’re doing pretty good.

Just my thoughts.

S.

Are you Green or Orange this St. Patty’s Day?

March 15th, 2010 by stephanie

When we see or think of St. Patty’s Day, we think green. We wear green. We eat green things. Perhaps that’s due, in large part, to the fact that Green was the color of the Flag for Irish Catholics. But did you know that Orange was the color of the Protestant flag? It’s true. I learned that little tid bit from my grandfather. “We were orange,” he used to say. “And we came from County Cork.”

My grandfather would remind me about that history, without fail, each and every St. Patrick’s Day. He wasn’t trying to make a point, he was just proud that he knew something about our heritage and he was pleased to pass that knowledge along to me.

But the tidbit of info in regards to the original St. Pat is what I love to remember each year as well. Did you know that he was not a Leprechaun who danced in clover but rather was an actual son of wealthy British parents that lived in the 4th century? Here’s the scoop.

At the age of 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by Irish raiders who attacked his family’s estate. The bandits took the lad to the Island of Ireland where he spent his captivity working as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. It was during this frightening time of isolation that he discovered Christ and developed a strong faith. Legend has it that he began to have dreams of winning the Irish to Christianity. Now, that’s what I call a heart for ministry!

After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick made a run for it – and escaped. Believe it or not, there are actual writings of his that survived and exist to this day. He wrote of a voice, which he believed to be God’s. It spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland. And, boy did he.

Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, he recorded a second vision. This time, it was an angel in a dream, that told him to return to Ireland as a missionary! And you know what? He did just that. But much later.

Patrick first threw himself into studying his new faith. 15 years later, he became an ordained priest and was commissioned to Ireland. His mission? To minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish.

And there you have it. When you hit that board meeting, coffee chat or water cooler today, hopfully you’ll have something new on which to dish. Perhaps your listeners will be “green” with envy. Who knows. 🙂

Here’s to St. Pat and his green. And here’s to those of us that are Orange!

Just my thoughts,

S.

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