Tag Archives: Faith

God Has Confidence in Me

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about minding my own business. It was called Keeping My Spoon in My Own Bowl. Since then, a few more things have happened that have me scratching my head in wonder.

I’m not sure if it’s this long winter and the toll it is taking on me or others, but honestly, I’m feeling like I need a long vacation. I seem to be ticking people off and not in a good way. It’s been a very trying couple of weeks.

So what do you do when your words or actions are fodder to the fire to another person? I know what I used to do. Admit to nothing, deny everything and counter accuse. I literally could do no wrong. Never looking at my own part in any conflict used to be the norm, even when I might have had that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

What is the difference now? When I upset someone, even if I mean no malice or ill will, I will apologize. If I feel truly in my heart I did no wrong, I will still say “I”m sorry” if someone takes what I did as a personal attack. With this action, I pay attention to my side of the street. I keep it clean.

I do this because I know deep down, God has confidence in me. If there is a lesson to be learned, then let me learn it. Perhaps I am being used as an instrument for someone else’s lesson. Whatever the reason, my soul is restored through honesty and the willingness to look at the log in my eye instead of the splinter in everyone else’s.

The maladies I caused myself by my own past thinking, stinking thinking as I like to call it, were numerous. Sore back, restlessness, discontent, sleeping problems, irritability. It was because my slate was not clean. I carried around burdens and behaviors that I didn’t know how to get rid of. Only through deep introspection and revelation to trusted individuals were these burdens removed. And then apologies doled out, the sweet antidote to my troubled ego.

I fight this of course. Don’t think I go around apologizing and then feeling all cozy and warm. My head fights with me, I chastise myself for getting into situations and not thinking more clearly. But, who is to say that my challenges were not exactly as God planned them? Maybe they were meant that way for a reason.

DSC_0036So I keep plodding along, putting one foot in front of the other, waiting for spring, waiting for the promise of renewal. I will watch for the snow drops soon; they will begin to come up in my back yard. I embrace the sunrise and the sunset because that gets me closer to the beauty of a new season, a fresh start. I go easy on myself because deep down, I am keeping the faith.

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Keeping My Spoon in My Own Bowl

Bowl Stack

Hence, in this life we shall attain nothing like perfect humility and love. So we shall have to settle, respecting most of our problems, for a very gradual progress, punctuated sometimes by heavy setbacks. Our oldtime attitude of all or nothing will have to be abandoned. Grapevine 1962

So as usual, God has an interesting way of teaching me a good lesson in humility.

Something I did recently, with no harm intended, triggered a domino effect of major proportions. This has served as a reminder to me that a desire for control will sometimes present itself in the most creative ways. And sadly, an issue that could have been solved in a quiet and kind way, ended up bruising my ego and yes I admit, my heart.

I am surviving this by remembering what an old friend taught me years ago. I need to keep my spoon in my own bowl. It is a hard thing to do but truly I think, therein lies the secret to serenity.

When I have my spoon in my own bowl, I cannot pay attention to what is going on in other people’s bowls. Minding my own business becomes easier. It helps me set boundaries and parameters that keep my head in line with my heart. I remind myself, “What other folks do, or think of me is really none of my business.” My own mental health becomes a number one priority.

Bowl SingleYears ago, I had a terrible falling out with a close friend. She was under a lot of stress and one day, called to read me the riot act for a good 5-10 minutes over something I did. During the course of the conversation, she continued to berate me even though I apologized several times. I almost hung up on her but out of respect for our long friendship, I held on until the end.

It took a week or two but I sent her a card. I thanked her for her honesty. I tried to think of that note as act of humility, not a humiliating act.

Our friendship suffered greatly because of this incident. Eventually, I let go of the pain. I didn’t spread any gossip nor did I try and get other friends to take sides. That would have been the easy road. I could have avoided our whole group of friends so I wouldn’t see her. But I was not about to give up my other friends because of what had happened. I continued to show up at get togethers. I just kept my distance from my old friend.

Years later, it was she who reached out to repair our relationship. I welcomed her with open arms. We are dear friends again and I would do just about anything for her.

While driving home today a thought crossed my mind. Could my own humility be a God lesson to someone else? Is it possible that in my own self centeredness, I fail to stop and consider what someone else might learn in a challenging situation? Who knows? I try not to really think about it because after all, my spoon is in my own bowl.

Bowl Multiples with Red Vase

(all photos by me and my lovely Android cell phone!)

How do you practice humility?

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Sisterly Love

With my Sisters, at the Base of the Acropolis!

With my Sisters, at the Base of the Acropolis! L to R, Cally, Mary, Me

There is no outsider anywhere who wouldn’t appreciate and even envy the tremendous advantage that sisters have if properly utilized, against all odds- Susan Ripps

Today is my sister’s birthday- Happy Birthday Mary! It’s also a perfect time for me to spend a few moments thinking about sisterhood.

If you have a sister, you will understand. You will know about the good times, the growing up times, the not so easy times and the special times.

The Oldest and (temporarily) the Tallest!

Me- The Oldest and (temporarily) the Tallest!

When we were growing up, we three were like jam (stuck together!) and we watched out for each other. We rode bikes, played Batman and Robin and jumped on our beds just like most other kids.

We fought and made up. We dished and kept quiet. We occasionally told on each other and then stuck our tongues out to rub it in good.

We sang in middle school chorus and took piano and guitar lessons. The church choir was our back bone and GOYA (the Greek Orthodox Youth Association) our teenage learning years. Greek school was mandatory but there’s not much we remember about that today.

Our mom was tough but Dad was even tougher. Three daughters must have been quite hellish for him at times; too much to worry about. But they did a fine job and I must say we are quite the talented bunch.

To this day, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t share with my sisters. Though I was encouraged to be their role model, they have seen me stumble, fall, get back up, fall again, hit the wall, succeed. They stuck with me through all of it, never making fun of me or thinking less of me. I guess I have shown them my imperfect side, my soft side, because the role model side would not have taught them as much.

We went out to dinner the other night just the three of us and our mom. We toasted our dinner and our time together. It’s been a great holiday and it’s about to get even greater with a shopping trip today and dinner out tonight including our fabulous partners.

So here’s to Mary- Happy Birthday!

Do you have a sister or someone who is like a sister to you?

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Make A Joyful Noise

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Beside them the birds of heavens dwell; they sing among the branches. Psalm 104:12

The holiday season is upon us and though it seems the nature world is quiet, it is really not. Birds are still singing and deer are crunching along on the snow covered spots in my backyard.

I’m not a big fan of winter but this year it doesn’t seem to be bothering me. After the past few years of hot flashes, the coldness is a welcome relief and my sleep has been deep and comforting. This is something to be thankful for.

I bought a big bag of birdseed and when it snowed last week, I fed the birds from my backyard feeder. They put on a show for me and I am comforted by their presence. I think their colors are a beautiful backdrop to white snow.

DSC_0666Something interesting happened on Monday. I am reading a book that I will be reviewing, and it mentioned sending an “intention” out (more on this when I write the actual review!). So I did. I don’t even remember what the intention was, but it had something to do with my wedding planning business.

That night, I had a dream about a bride and a wedding. I did not recognize the bride but she was lovely. In the dream I was a part of her wedding. The next day (I kid you not) I received an email from a young woman, asking me to assist her with her wedding.

I have no idea if it was the intention or the timing or maybe a little bit of both. Perhaps it is just faith. I am approaching this business, my event planning business, from an entirely new position. Years ago, I was fairly aggressive when I was self employed. Things were good; I was successful and happy. This time, I am determined not to be a bothersome pest. I believe that if someone needs me, God will put me in their path.

JOYLast Christmas, you may remember that I received a word at a gathering of friends. That word was JOY. I have to tell you, it has been a joyous year despite many challenges, including my mother’s illness and my departure from full time employment. I kept JOY in mind all the year through and I am grateful for the many blessings I have received.

I hope you are living joyfully! How have you been?

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Moments

This past weekend marked a special event. After thirty one years of living with us, my daughter has moved into her very first house.

It has been quite a transition for us, a big time reality check that includes a stark awareness of how time really does march on. We have all been through much together, thick and thin, and weathered it all with the grace of God.

“And still, after all this time, the Sun has never said to the Earth,”You owe me.” Look what happens with love like that. It lights up the sky.” ― Rumi

I am in the right place (I hope) about my daughter’s departure. She is a love that lights up the sky and it is her time to have the freedom she has long desired and worked so hard for. Her leaving is a testament to having goals. She went to school, got good grades, worked part time then full time, She saved her money and pursued this little house with a big yard because she’d like to have a small farm someday.

My son has been gone for five years already so I am used to him not being here (except for holidays). I think Jim is apprehensive about the quiet around our house but I feel ready. Maybe I will change my mind, but I know time cannot stand still and we all have to move on.

finishedpeanutbuttercookies1Through all this, I’ve been thinking about peanut butter and jelly. And eating peanut butter and jelly. It is the basic comfort food, the quintessential sandwich of childhood, the “everything will be all right” kind of nourishment that we all crave when life gets alittle challenging.

I found a wonderful blog recently called “Confetti Diaries” and asked Natalie if I could publish the delicious picture of her peanut butter and jelly cookies. I’m going to make a batch of these soon. And then I think I’ll take some over to my daughter’s house.

Click HERE for the link to Natalie’s cookie recipe.

What’s your favorite comfort food?

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Rocky Mountain High

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I don’t know about you but sometimes I can really get a committee going in my head. The committee sometimes makes good sense or helps me through a problem in a loving and encouraging way. But sometimes the committee speaks too loudly and makes no sense.

It likes to go on and on about dumb stuff and I just follow along, wimp like, victim like while it chastises me for various things. I didn’t do this or that good enough, or wow, how could I have reacted in that situation like that. On and on it goes, just making me feel bad.

Until I got the bright idea one day that I could just change the station in my head. Just like turning the knob to another radio station, I can switch off the bad thoughts and tune into another station. I mentally try one station- soft music- and in my head suddenly I am singing an old familiar 70’s song like yep, Rocky Mountain High. I saw John Denver in person once, the year before he died, and he performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. That was the first song he walked out on stage singing and I still get chills just thinking about it.

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So now my head is filled with glorious music and a stunning mountain vista, instead of those pesky, bothersome committee members.

If the song ends in my head, I can again switch the station. This time, I switch to the spiritual station. In the background I can feel the warmth of soft candles. My Higher Power is there, s(he) is engaging me in loving thoughts and encouragement. I am again bathed in a wash of light and happiness, grateful to be alive and ready for my next destination.

This takes some practice, but I am getting pretty good at switching stations. The committee is learning that it can’t sit there and complain and give me a hard time or the door will close to its room. I’ll be off and in another direction, content to find another, more happier place in which to hang out.

Thanks to my daughter Michelene for her stunning photos!

Where do you go (in your head!) for a change of scenery?

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Pondering Some Sweet Things

One of my new friends! Sweet Bites Cookies

One of my new friends! Sweet Bites Cookies

I’ve met some interesting people in the last couple of weeks as I venture out and promote my wedding and event business.

There was the group of local women business owners who invited me to a networking event last week. Included in the bunch was a lovely woman who brought her magic cookies and shared them with all of us. I was so impressed with Diane that I’m adding her to my business website! (Click on the link under the cookie picture to check her out)

I also went to see a local farm- Destiny Hill– that does weddings on their real working lavender farm. And they design bridal flowers pulled from their own flower beds! I was in love with the place from the moment I drove up the driveway!

There was something interesting too that happened to me last week that I’ve been wanting to share with you. Here goes….

Can you see them?

Can you see them?

I was driving on a road just minutes away from my own home, engrossed in thinking about my business. (I’ve been doing that a lot lately!) So catching myself, I took a minute for a gratitude prayer and then asked God for assistance with my new venture. In the next minute, the car in front of me slowed down. I glanced up to see what was going on and there was the source. A gaggle of small turkeys, slowly making their way across the road, completely stopping traffic. As they reached the other side, the lead turkey decided she really didn’t want that side, she wanted the other side.

So they all turned around and went back across the road.

I pulled my car over to the berm, so excited about the turkeys that I grabbed my cell phone. Not wanting to scare them, I kept back and was able to snap a picture or two. Other cars sped on as soon as the turkeys were off the road. I stood a moment or two until they disappeared into the brush.

What does this beautiful nature sighting mean? To me it was an instant affirmation that God is with me. S(he) is watching over me and hears my prayers. All I need to do is believe and things will work out as they should, not by my plan but by a divine plan. To see my favorite creatures in such multiples, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the sight. To me, it is a sign of future abundance as long as I am willing to keep a grateful heart.

What’s your favorite creature of nature? I’d love to know!

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The Last Little Bits of Summer

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“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”
William Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Here we are, the end of August and summer is winding to a close. Where has the time gone? I remember writing my late spring blog post, eagerly awaiting summer’s full glory, anticipating the slow, warm days I was so looking forward to.

As I look back, it has been an amazing summer. Beauty has abounded in my area, despite weird weather like too hot, too cool, too much rain. But somehow through it all, I managed a slight tan, many back yard campfires and lots of juicy peaches.

IMG_2510My cousin Christina came from New York with her daughter Ariel and we had two glorious weeks that included trips to the local farmer’s market and our favorite, the Fiestaware outlet. We couldn’t get enough of Chris’ guacamole and made it no less than four times while she was here! There were lots of salads, grilled vegetables and fresh tomatoes from our garden to enjoy. I’ll never forget her glorious lentils, bean soup and our endless cups of coffee in the back yard, as we caught sightings of the local mama deer and her two baby fawns at play.

I went to Chicago for a wedding, my only real getaway, and what a real pleasure that was. Riding along with my aunt and uncle (my mother’s only brother), I hung out with their teenage grandchildren and never knew how really cool they were. The Chicago cousins were so hospitable I feel like sneaking back there for a visit all my own. (Get ready Deb!)

Through all of this, I felt the faith, the presence of grace all the time. If I momentarily forgot it, I remembered it in the sight of the baby hawk flying over my house, the random phone call from a friend, and the early morning sunrise. I realized the preciousness of time, the ability to take this time to rest, rejuvenate and get ready for whatever will be ahead.

School is beginning next week for my grandson. He is going to the seventh grade (wow, where has THAT time gone?) and Labor Day is just around the corner. I’m looking forward to promoting my new business, looking for still more partners and always searching out great event ideas.

I saw a few red leaves on the ground lately and I know fall is just around the corner. Enjoy these last few summer days with a sentimental heart!

DSC_0090Thanks to Christina for all these beautiful pictures!

How was your summer? Are you looking forward to fall?

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Realizing the Dream

Jess and Jake's wedding

Jess and Jake’s wedding

A dream is a wish your heart makes….Cinderella

The beautiful couple above really started the whole thing. Meet Jess and Jake. Their barn wedding took place on a lush farm about an hour from the city of Pittsburgh a few years ago.

I had been working for a religious institution planning and organizing programming and events, including weddings. Though it was interesting, I longed to be there for the actual unfolding, something that was not required of me in my job.

So when I heard Jess and Jake were getting married, I asked them if I could supervise their wedding. Thankfully, they said yes.

Jess and I met a few times to go over details. I went early to the farm on the day of the wedding and made sure the set up was accurate. I timed the bridesmaids walking down the lawn. I stuck around all night to insure everything was taken care of. I was in charge of paying the vendors and I also made sure all the gifts and cards were put in a safe place.

When Jess and Jake returned from their honeymoon, we went out to dinner. They gave me a present, a plaque with a poem titled “Those Who Serve.” It was absolutely beautiful.

The owner of the farm was watching me the night of the wedding. She offered me a part time summer job. The next year, I did six or so weddings at three different farm locations. The outdoor wedding bug bit me hard. I fell in love with barn weddings.

And I still love weddings, all kinds. Whether they are Orthodox, Jewish, Catholic, Methodist, indoor, outdoor- I love them. Maybe it’s because I believe in the “Happily Ever After” or maybe it’s because I just love that moment in time, when two people decide to join together and make a commitment to each other. I love all the families being there, wishing them well. I could go on and on….

So I began to think about starting my own business, planning weddings and special events. When my mom fell ill and I quit my full time job, that dream came closer and closer. I talked it over with a few people and decided to go for it. Business cards were made, a few “Partners” said YES!, and my event planning website went “LIVE” last week. (Hang on, I’m going to share the link with you at the bottom of this post!)

This leap of faith I am taking is inspired by grace. Instead of feeling fear, I feel an inspiration to give this long desired dream a chance. I pray that I will again be led in a divine direction, to go where people may need me most. The people I have met already who want to be a part of my new business are well, just heaven sent.

So tonight, raise a glass and please make a toast to my new business, Katherine’s Daughter Events. Your blessing and your prayers will mean more to me than anything else. After all, this is a joint project. You are part of my life.

Check out my new website HERE!

What’s your most unforgettable moment from your wedding, or a wedding you’ve been to recently?

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The Fountain of Youth

Photo- Carmine Sarazen

Photo Courtesy of Carmine Sarazen

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age. Sophia Loren

Recently, I was reading a magazine article (Think Like a Guy, Oprah Magazine, May 2013) written by Gabrielle Reece who published a new book entitled My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper. A thought provoking excerpt from that article really got me thinking about age and growing older gracefully.

Gabrielle writes “Perhaps the ultimate lesson of getting older is learning to check our egos at the door. Losing our dignity and independence is the fear beneath our anxiety about aging. It’s not so much the lines and sunspots on our faces; it’s more what the lines and sunspots sign; that life moves in only one direction. Yet every day the sun rises, and each day is our own. I’m reminded of the Emerson quote: “No one suspects the days to be gods.”

I looked up the entire Emerson quote and here is what it said: “Heaven walks among us ordinarily muffled in such triple or tenfold disguises that the wisest are deceived and no one suspects the days to be gods.”

When we are young we think we will live forever. We take daring chances more easily, we don’t break as hard, we push forward thinking we have all the time in the world. As I age, that time seems smaller and smaller, though with life expectancies what they are, who knows how long I’ll live?

I used to think retirement (kind of) meant the end. Done. Gardening, long cups of coffee in the morning, maybe a bit of travel, pans of pastichio for the church food festival. But lately I’m thinking there is more. I am starting to open my mind to think that the fountain of youth is in new challenges, new ways of growing. It’s also in “giving back”; passing along some help, friendship and wisdom to those who may need it at just the right time.

Faith can also provide the necessary ingredient to guard against age panic. I find that when I touch that grace filled spot within me, I am young all over again. Physical being can always be transcended; it is in our mind and heart where we can drink from the fountain again and again.

How do you feel about age? 

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