Tag Archives: God

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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Does Prayer Work?

But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. Luke 22:32

I happened to type “Prayer” into my Pinterest search bar this morning and boy did I get a spiritual eyeful. I’ll give you the link at the end of this post but suffice to say there was a whole wide range of pins on the subject.

Evangelist Luke writing, Byzantine illuminatio...

Evangelist Luke writing, Byzantine illumination, 10th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This got me thinking about prayer. How do you pray? Or do you even pray? My prayers have changed over the years. When I was young they were the prayers of church, whispered along with the priest’s words or out loud during the liturgy. During the kneeling down part of the service, I was either paying attention or not, fidgeting or wondering what I was going to do later that day, like riding my Schwinn bicycle around the neighborhood with my girlfriends.

One time as a young child, we missed church because it had snowed heavily. I remember being worried about the consequences and what God would think if I wasn’t there. So I took a cross I had in my room and prayed, maybe on my knees. I don’t remember what I prayed about but I remember I had a really good week, getting an “A” on a test and other assorted awesome stuff. That’s when I knew God had some serious pull.

Jim, my SO, doesn’t believe in praying for specific things. He thinks I do but honestly, my prayers are of the general variety. Does prayer work? I used to think it was silly stuff but the older I get the more I believe yes, prayer definitely has its potential.

It is amazing sometimes that I will pray for assistance for someone or some issue, again the prayers not being specific, and help will arrive in some shape or form. Honestly, if I leave well enough alone and not give God directions on how I want it done, s(he) will do a fabulous job. After all, it’s God we are talking here.

What doesn’t work is praying and then using my own control devices. Or praying and expecting immediate results. Prayer works fast sometimes and other times it does not. Maybe God wants us to practice a bit of patience.

Letting go of results is probably the hardest part of prayer for me. Maybe this surprises you- is there really a letting go part? Yes, I think this is the most powerful part of prayer- surrender. There in lies the freedom, the relief I have been seeking. That moment when I can lay my head down and feel a peace come over me that just wasn’t there before.

The results of prayer are often solutions I hadn’t thought of. Imagine that. That is when I know God is really good.

Click HERE for the Pinterest prayer board link.

Do you believe in prayer? What’s your favorite prayer or tell us how prayer has worked or not worked for you….

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When Less Is Really Better

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“There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” ― G.K. Chesterton

Life is moving in slow motion for me these days. For the first time in many years I have the luxury of enjoying summer, spending time with my mom, family and friends. It’s a big switch for me, multi- tasker that I am, as I am used to cramming as much as I can into my waking hours. It was nothing for me to go non stop from 7am until 10pm at night, rarely stopping long enough to catch my breath in between. My sister Mary said to me once, “Jo, you’re making us all look bad.”

These days, it is life without much of an agenda. It is freeing really to have a minimal schedule and plenty of time to work on small projects. And, the bonus to all this is I am living on a lot less money than I used to. My needs have become very simple. I tried to figure it out the other day, what was it that was really different? First, I am just not buying stuff like I used to. Second, I am content with a lot less.

DSC_0162Part of this I can attribute to grace and age. As I truly work on embracing life from the standpoint of a spiritual journey, material things have become less and less important. As I get older I feel like I am truly embracing what my mother Katherine has always set an example of- that less is really better. Bigger, fancier and complicated just means more expensive, more maintenance, more potential aggravation. Make more money and we spend more money. Easy and simple I’m finding is really the way to go. Pare things down, decide what’s really important, ease back and enjoy it.

The bonus to all this less is more attitude is more time and energy, and a bit of extra money for what I feel most passionate about. The ability to decide what’s really important bestows a true attitude of generosity in so many other ways. Ways that can really make a difference.

Thanks again to my daughter Michelene for these beautiful photos!

What’s your simplest pleasure? I’d love to know!

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The Road to Happiness

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“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

When my children were young, I really had no choice. My life revolved around my family and there was little time for much else. Between working part time, the house work, meals and playtime, I was focused on being the best mom I possibly could.

As my two children grew and became more independent, it occurred to me that I was not needed as much. They started to have their own lives, friends and activities and many times I ended up being just a taxi service and meal maker. Of course I reminded them to wear clean clothes, shower and brush their teeth, but they were good kids and I didn’t need to remind them all that much.

So what to do with myself? A mild depression in my late thirties and early forties caused me to seek the advice and wisdom of a good therapist. After much soul searching and aimless wandering, it became obvious to me that the best way to live life to its fullest was to find a cause I love- and volunteer for it.

So over the years I have learned from and worked with families affected by addiction. When I mention my recovery friends occasionally I am not sure you can feel it, but there is whole hearted love and respect there from me. There is no monetary reward for doing this work, no green carrot dangling at the end of the stick. No contract with a financial reward as possible gain, just plain and simple good deeds done for people who need help.

What do I get in return for this? Nothing financial but a priceless spiritual opportunity.

It fills me up inside with a feeling I cannot describe when I work with families in need. I give them unconditional love and they in return grow and flourish. It takes so little time really, and the rewards are amazingly great.

If you are looking to get a little more meaning and happiness out of life, consider picking a cause and then volunteering your time even in small and simple ways. It doesn’t take much to help make a difference. And you will absolutely love how it makes you feel.

Thanks to my daughter Michelene for her stunning sunflower photo!

Is there a cause you support? Tell us about it!

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The Right Place, The Right Time

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There is no right time and right place for love… it can happen any time.

Shahrukh Khan

This week we had some serious storms. Rain, thunder, lightning all made their presence known here in Western Pennsylvania. For the first time ever, my family and I went down to the basement because of a tornado warning.

Thankfully, nothing happened. Just a heavy rain, so much rain in fact that it seems the grass and garden grew inches before our very eyes.

The day after the storm, our already fragile old apple tree gave way and a large branch split off. Already filled with young green apples, it was a sight of tangled twigs and green leaves. Jim and Gavin have begun the slow task of making fire logs and cleaning up the mess.

This morning as I was taking my trusty labrador Jordan out to the field, I caught sight of a baby fawn among those apple tree branches. She or he was just a few yards away from me. I hooked Jordan up to her run and walked slowly down to the felled tree.

The fawn perked its head up and looked at me. She still had her baby white spots. She was absolutely, perfectly beautiful.

I went back in the house and grabbed my coffee cup. I set up a chair in my yard and watched a deer family of four in the amazing morning light, prancing about and eating in my neighbor’s yard across the lane from our house, across from my apple tree. The baby fawn was among the family.

As I sat there sipping coffee and watching the deer family, I reflected. I thought about some key moments I had this week.

First, I spent an amazing couple of hours on the phone with a west coast blogger I have friended simply through my own blog. She is Sunday’s Child and if you click HERE, you will have a chance to read what she wrote about our phone conversation. It was so much fun! We talked about many things- writing, blogging, food, chickens- and just imagine, all through meeting in the magic of the internet. I feel like I have a new friend to add to my circle of old and dear friends, and I am blessed with her friendship beyond my own imaginable dreams.

Then, my good friend Cathy came over for a blog lesson. Yes another blogger has been born! As soon as she gets her first post up, I’ll share it with you. While she was here, I have to tell you about something awesome she shared with me.

20130708_161813When we were walking out to her car, as she was leaving, a baby hawk that has been flying around and screeching all week made its appearance just for Cathy. This baby loves to perch on a very tall pine tree behind our house. Cathy and I looked up and squinted our eyes in the afternoon sun just to catch a glimpse of baby hawk. I told her I think there are two of them, born recently and they are screeching to either mark their territory or they are calling their mama for lunch!

Cathy told me it is a very powerful spiritual sign to have hawks in your area. (Here’s what I said to this– Really??) So I looked it up on the internet and found she is right, yes, that many believe hawks to be a sign of power and vision. Check out the website I found HERE that gives more information about hawk totems.

Then, last night I was again among friends and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I can get choked up just thinking about it but suffice to say, someone needed a shoulder of caring and God put me in a bathroom at precisely the right time.

So between fawns, hawks and friends I have had an amazing week. I am truly blessed to be walking in this spiritual world and I cannot forget what a beautiful world it truly is.

Thank you to my daughter Michelene for the beautiful lily picture!

Anything amazing happen to you this week? Share please!

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My Daily Bread

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Have you ever found a hidden jewel? An amazing place you just could not keep to yourself? Well I found one recently and I can’t wait to tell you about it.

It’s called Mediterra Bakehouse and I am in love with it! Since I made a recent commitment to eat healthier, I have tried to find new and exciting ways to enjoy good grains. So when a friend told me Mediterra had a local location, that was all I needed to hear.

Bread 4The first thing I noticed when I walked in the door was the row of Greek Orthodox icons along the wall. When I asked the owner’s daughter about this, she confirmed her father is from the same place in Greece as my mother’s family- the island of Chios. I have to say, I instantly felt at home.

It was difficult to make a decision at Mediterra. I saw kalamata olive loaf, peasant bread, Mt. Athos Fire Bread, and a delicious looking pecan raisin bread. I couldn’t resist the latter and actually tore into it on the way home in the car! (A day later I bought some Tzatziki just to dip it into!) I also chose the chile cheddar loaf, ah! with its chunks of vermont cheddar and petite slices of jalapeno pepper.

I headed back a week later and this time I bought the Sunflower Honey Whole Wheat. I can’t wait to try it with a bit of Jim’s honey.

The trip to Mediterra got me thinking about the similarities between daily bread and spiritual bread. Daily bread nourishes my body but spiritual bread nourishes my heart and soul. I have been trying to start my morning off with a good meditative reading, something that fills me with gratitude and awe for this wonderful life. That is my spiritual bread.

Here’s what I read today: Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. John Muir

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May you be blessed today with your favorite daily bread! What’s your favorite loaf or spiritual saying?

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The Highest Form of Wisdom

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I was working at the Jewish temple when I first saw the words. “The highest form of wisdom is kindness” was a quote from the Talmud. Later, I found those same words, artistically drawn on a plaque no less, at a common home goods store. I purchased it and it is hanging in my mudroom at this very moment.

Why does this quote mean so much to me?

Because it reminds me that though others may not be right about something, it is not always necessary for me to point this out to them.

For instance, Jim and I miscommunicated last week over a small matter. I knew I was right (of course) and he did the quick two step to try and cover up his own bad memory. On the spot, I decided it would do no good to hammer him about it or rub it in,  so instead I decided to try a little humility. I said “Wow, I guess I completely forgot I said that to you”, thereby diffusing a tense situation and practicing kindness in the act.

And Jim, ever the good example of humankind said “Well Jo, that’s probably just how I remembered it.”

Now I know you’re going to say that some things are just worth arguing about and I agree. But there are times when I ask myself truly, is it worth it? Maybe I make a great argument for a point about something and rub my ego shiny in the process. But then what do I do with that? I am the fluffed up rooster, crowing my accomplishments and I forget about what’s really important.

What’s really important is that I treat everyone as if they are a child of God.

So this means I am respectful. I am kind. I try and look at another person’s perspective and if theirs doesn’t agree with mine, that’s ok. I will love them anyway. If another person’s bad behavior affects me, I can set some decent boundaries. But I never want to not be kind about it.

My recovery friends like to say Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? It’s basically the same thing as the Talmud but I do love this more simplified version. It’s worth it sometimes to give in just a little, for a center full of happiness.

“You can either practice being right or practice being kind.”
Anne Lamott

How do you feel about kindness? Who do you practice kindness towards?

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Lena and Andrew

Lena and Andrew

Lena and Andrew

I had the honor of assisting at a beautiful wedding last weekend. Lena and Andrew were married in my church and there were many of us there to witness this blessed event.

As God would have it, I bumped into my friend Rita and her daughter a few months ago in a home decorating store. “Lena is getting married!” said Rita and I couldn’t help but mention that I have done detail work on many wedding ceremonies and other types of events. 🙂

Lo and behold the phone rang one day and it was Rita. She felt fine about the reception but was nervous about the wedding ceremony. Would I assist at the church? I didn’t even hesitate. “Yes, of course!” was my answer.

We met to go over the details, then time quickly flew by. Soon enough it was rehearsal then, wedding time! The bridal couple was a youthful example of shining love…like a beacon that Hands Twowarmed and reminded us of our own days gone by. Lena and Andrew were a lovely couple and a bit old fashioned (which I loved!). They did not want to see each other before the ceremony! No pictures together….just one intimate moment in which they grasped hands from around a corner, while photographers snapped away, capturing the moment.

Instead of a choir, Lena and Andrew wanted cantors. I wondered how this would unfold and I have to say it took my breath away when the bride and her father walked down the aisle, to a heavenly host of voices singing from the front altar. It felt very traditional and different all at the same time!

As the guests sprinkled the newly married couple with white rose petals, I felt blessed to be part of such a beautiful event. There is that moment of satisfaction when you know that everything came together the way it should be, for a couple who are loved and wished all the best.

Do you have a favorite memory of a blessed event? Share it with me!

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The Divine Mr. Kibosh

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss


Almost twenty years ago, I began a speciality coffee business. This was when gourmet coffee was just on the cusp of becoming something really big.

From Google.com

Delicious Coffee! Via Pinterest

My little coffeehouse was called “Cappuccino City.” It quickly established itself as the hip place to be and I thoroughly enjoyed being a small business owner. I made friends during that time that I still have to this day.

One of my customers was a stand out. His name was Joe. My nickname is Jo. Catch the catch? He’d come in and say “Hi Jo!” and I’d say “Hi Joe!”. We’d chat a few minutes and then he’d be on his way.

Years later, after I sold the coffee house, I needed some financial work done and I saw his ad in a local publication. I called him and said “Joe, do you remember me?” He said, “Of course!” Turns out his business was right down the road from my house.

So we became business acquaintances, but more. Joe was my cheerleader, always encouraging me to ask for more money (!) from my jobs and making me feel so good about myself that I’d leave his office practically on Cloud Nine.

Soon, after years of driving the parkway into Pittsburgh, I grew weary. I was looking for opportunities close to home. I had my eye on Joe, just in case he would need me.

I let him know it at one of my visits. Just an “if you ever need someone, please keep me in mind” pitch. And then one day, when it seemed I couldn’t take another traffic jam, I happened to call him about something. He said his long time admin had left. I asked him if I could interview for the job.

He said to come down and meet with his lead person. She and I went to lunch and the rest is history.

So it was with a heavy heart that I left Joe last month, after barely hitting my two year mark. As you may remember, I needed to spend more time with Mom. But I consider every minute I spent with  Joe worth it. Here are some great bits of wisdom I learned from him:

1. You develop confidence when you figure things out for yourself.

2. Pizza with pepperoni that is baked a little longer tastes really good.

3. When someone puts a stop to something, it’s called a “kibosh”.

4. There is no substitute for personal attention to a client.

5. Don’t get something new until the old one breaks. 🙂

I like to think I taught Joe a few things myself. He loved the Greek word “Fuss-a-ria” which means to cause a big fuss. Once Joe learned this word, it became a part of his dictionary. (and I love the word “Kibosh!”) He loved other things Greek too. I took him to my church during our food festival and introduced him to some great Greek food. Hopefully, I taught him some other wisdom filled lessons; some he needed and some he probably didn’t want – like a crash course on menopausal women! In return, he believed in me and my capabilities. He had confidence in me when sometimes I did not have it myself.

I believe in my heart that even though my time with Joe was short, it had a divine purpose. I learned many new things that could be of great benefit someday. Sometimes even the shortest experiences have the longest impressions.

Have you ever met someone you feel had a divine purpose in your life?

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Coming Into Grace

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Cook Forest 2Years ago I would have completely dismissed the above quote, thinking I didn’t have time to contemplate such nonsense.

Now, it sums up my journey of the past decade or so. Finding serenity, searching for grace, deciding what can be changed and what cannot.

My journey has led me over tall mountains, in deep valleys and down the road less traveled. It is not a physical journey but a spiritual one.

Occasionally I tire and stop to rest. But then I pick up my walking stick and begin again.

I remember what I have to be thankful for. My family, my friends, the moon, the stars, heaven and earth.

I remind myself what I have no control over– all of the above.

If I think I can control other things, living or otherwise, I am a fool. I can only control myself and my reaction to people, places and things. This is the secret of serenity- minding my own business.

The journey has been a difficult one at times and it is not over. It is continuous. If I remember every day to have gratitude for my life, my serenity will be easier to maintain.

Thank you to WordPress for an inspiring word today- Journey!

How do you find daily Grace?

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