Friday, December 28, 2007

Hearth and fire be yours tonight, and all the dark outside...
Fair the night and kind on you, wherever you may bide.
And I'd be the sun upon your head, the wind about your face...
My love upon the path you tread and upon your wandering, peace.

Song and wine be ours tonight, and all the cold outside....
Peace and warmth be yours tonight, wherever you may bide.
And I'd be the sun upon your head, the wind about your face...
My love upon the path you tread and upon your wandering, peace.

Hearth and fire be ours tonight, and the wind in the birches bare...
O that the wind we hear tonight would find you well and fair.
And I'd be the sun upon your head, the wind about your face...
My love upon the path you tread and upon your wandering, peace.

- Gordon Bok

My parents used to sing this folk song to me.... One of my all-time favorites. I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas, and I dedicate this song to you, dear friends, for the new year!
I probably won't post again until after New Years because Sir Laughsalot is home from school and I want to cherish these warm and cozy days with him.

Warmest wishes for the New Year.........

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Humble Christmas Offering......

Ask and ye shall receive.....
Many of you have asked to hear me sing and play guitar, so
my husband helped me figure out how to record myself through our computer..... so I present to you a traditional Christmas carol , very rudimentaly recorded in our computer room.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I first saw her at the kid's program at church. She stood out to me amongst all the other kids... a little chubby.. glasses.. straggly hair.. mismatched, raggedy clothes. The boys were picking on her and she was hitting them. I had to intervene in the situation a couple of times, to ask the boys to stop teasing and tell her it wasn't okay to hit. It can be a rowdy crew on Wednesday night, as our church provides a meal, singing time, and classes for community children. A lot of the children come from some of the rougher sections of our community. ... "the wrong side of the tracks", so to speak.

I sensed a troubled spirit in the girl.... an oppressed spirit. I felt empathy for her, and knew she was one to watch out for and give a little extra attention to.

Today I went to Sir Laughsalot's school to meet with a young student I would be mentoring through a new program that targets at-risk children in their early years, before they reach high school and drop out. I hadn't met the student before today, but knew she had moved around a lot, was frequently absent, and was struggling in her school subjects. When she walked in, she grinned a familiar grin when she saw me, and I recognized her as the little girl from church.

As one who doesn't believe that things happen by chance, I had to grin, also.... and wink at God for knowing exactly what He's doing. He knows my heart intimately, and I am grateful that He has entrusted me with another fragile little soul to show His love and compassion towards. Pray for me in this new endeavor.... I can't help anyone on my own, but because I am a vessel for a higher and greater love, I know that love can be channeled through me and out towards this little girl.


(As a sidenote, Here is a good article about how one constant and involved adult in a child's life can make a difference.... it focuses more on teenage boys, but it is encouraging. If you have not seen the Frontline documentary it refers to, "Country Boys", I highly recommend it as a must-see film. It follows two poverty stricken and at-risk boys in rural Appalachia through their adolescence. It is heartwrenching, but moving, and really hones in on the need for our communities to surround these kids and get involved in their lives. Your local library probably has it, and it is a three part documentary.

Also, if you would be interested in mentoring a child in your community, go here. What could be a better way to spend a couple of hours each week?)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Miss Dorothy.....

Miss Dorothy is just one of hundreds of citizens in Appalachia who have been driven out of their homes because of Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining. A lot of these properties are ancestral homelands that have been in a family for generations. If you refuse to sell your property to the coal company, they make living conditions unbearable. To help stop this nonsense, go
here. Also, call your congressmen and urge them to sponsor The Clean Water Protection Act, which will help end this atrocity.

Who's linking to this post:

1.Two Square Meals

Friday, December 07, 2007

My best audience, ever......

Kindergarteners are the bomb! They have yet to develop an attitude of self-conscienceness, nor do they worry about being *cool*.... they are ALL about having fun! I had the privelege of playing for Sir Laughsalot's little class of 13 at a party.... and I must say, that's the most fun I've had playing in a while.

May we all be as spirited and as carefree as these lil 'uns! :)

( A good article on the importance of music and the arts in school is here)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

It's Here........

That southerly wind blew in our first snowfall of the season. The first snow of the winter always brings out the child in oneself. I think I get just as excited as Sir Laughsalot. His school let out early and he came home and started playing in the white fluff as soon as he got out of the car. And, of course, mama had to play, too.... with her camera!

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Southerly Wind.......

I heard it in the wee morning hours.... It jolted me out of my dream. It shook and rattled the house. Then I heard a familiar Thud....Slam! The sound that I hear when Sir Laughsalot has had a nightmare.... the thud as he jumps out of bed, and the sound of his door slamming behind him as he bolts to our room. He jumped into my bed, wide-eyed... "what is that sound, mommy?"

"Just the wind, sweetie..... it decided to come out and play tonight."

'but it's scary..... i want to sleep with you.'

"No, let's go back to your room and get all tucked in... it's the middle of the night. Do you remember, in our book, how Laura Ingalls spoke of the wind howling in the winter time, rattling their windows and doors, like it was trying to get in? But she wasn't afraid..... She felt safe and warm and cozy, tucked into their little cabin.."

'yes, mommy....'

"Well, that's just what the wind does in the winter. I think it wants to come in out of the cold, too. So it raps on our windows and doors. That's why we should be thankful, like Laura, that we have a warm, cozy house to sleep in....and we don't have to sleep outside in the cold, like the wind."

'poor house......and poor wind', Sir Laughsalot sighed, as he snuggled back under his covers.

I went back to my room and lifted the window shade. The sky was grey and wintry, and I could see all the trees bending and swaying.... and my heart was grateful for this early winter wind.... because it brought a little, stolen moment of sweetness and comfort in the middle of the night.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Are You Connected?

I want to give a very, VERY sincere thank-you to all of you who have been taking action against the destruction of our mountains here in Appalachia. It has been such an encouragement to me and gives me hope. Here is one more step you can take......Enter your zip code above and find out if your electricity comes from Mountaintop Removal Coal. If it does, please take the time to contact your electricity provider and ask them not to buy coal from companies that practice MTR mining. The link will let you know how. This is a wonderful tool and I believe it will have great impact..... If your electricity does come from MTR coal, the link will also tell you what community the coal is coming from. I'd be interested in hearing back from you once you do find out...... It will be interesting to see how many companies buy such coal. Thanks for joining the fight.... the people in Appalachia need your help!
A quick question for my readers..... My header photograph is not showing up on my computer. There is supposed to be a panoramic view of the mountains. Is it showing up for you? And also, what browser do you use?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wordless Wednesday......
Sittin' on top of the World

Taken in Dolly Sods Wilderness.....
For more Wordless Wednesdays, go here.

Monday, November 26, 2007


After spending over 9 hours last night in the chaos of Sunday-after-Thanksgiving interstate traffic, it is good to be home. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, as we exited I-81, to make the hour and a half jaunt over the steep, winding mountain road that separates us from 'civilization', so to speak..... the mountain that keeps us from becoming the tourist and retirement destination that the Blue Ridges of Western NC, my former home, have become. The moon was full, and although it was cloudy, it silhouetted the valley below. The barns, farmhouses, and silos were outlined in the dark, against the mountain ranges behind them. I was keenly aware of the vast contrast of driving a mile without seeing a single light, and the scarred mountains that we had just come from... where monstrous vacation homes line barren ridgetops, and the lights from them seem to be floating in the air. I guess 'progress' and development is inevitable, but I hope our little valley stays pristine and untouched just a little while longer.... that our state can keep its claim to being 'wild and wonderful' and 'almost heaven'......

While I was away, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself featured on a great new blog, called Beauty on the Web. Sheila, the blog's author, describes her goal as this, "This is a blog about beautiful things on weblogs. I found that as I was reading other blogs, a brilliant sentence or a stunning photo would pop out and demand to be shared." Head over and check out some of the beautiful things she has found. The post featuring my blog is Wednesday, Nov. 21st. She has also featured two of my favorite bloggers, Colleen and Fred First.

I also found myself the recipient of a "Community Blogger Award" while I was away....thanks to June, my blogger friend.

Its an award that celebrates "people who reach out and make the blogger community a better one". I'm honored and will share this award with others soon. So much blogging love while I was away! Thanks, girls! :)

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.... and find much beauty and joy today!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Our rural ancestors, with little blest, Patient of labour when the end was rest, Indulged the day that housed their annual grain, With feasts, and off'rings, and a thankful strain."~Alexander Pope

"For, after all, put it as we may to ourselves, we are all of us from birth to death guests at a table which we did not spread. The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath are parts of the banquet.... Shall we think of the day as a chance to come nearer to our Host, and to find out something of Him who has fed us so long?" ~Rebecca Harding Davis

"To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven." ~Johannes A. Gaertner

"None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy." ~Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

"Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now." ~A.W. Tozer

"The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!" ~Henry Ward Beecher

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." ~Thornton Wilder

And a little humor to top it off:
"Thanksgiving, man.... Not a good day to be my pants......" ~Kevin James

(We're heading to the Carolinas for the holidays..... Hope you all have a wonderful feast with family and friends as we acknowledge all the blessings in our lives....)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

dirty, pretty things......

"Miss Amy.... I want to f*** you up the ass", a nine-year old student told me, while I was teaching at the Salem School. This is what he thought he should say to let me know he liked me. T-man, as I affectionately referred to him, had been homeless, eating out of dumpsters. I dared not think about what he had seen, heard, or had happen to him, to make him think that's how you show people affection.

*Denise's record came before she did. We sat at the table reviewing her history in anticipation of her arrival to the residential program. I was a Teaching Parent at the time.... my first role at Salem, and she would be in my house. Denise was nine, also, and had never been able to stay in a placement for more than a couple of months because of her out-of-control behaviors. She had set her hair on fire, tried to strangle herself, and attacked her caregivers. The dolled up little girl that walked in, with her black mary janes, pink purse, and bright red lipstick , belied the disturbed little child underneath. She had no 'honeymoon' period, as most children did... where their behaviors didn't emerge for a couple of weeks. Denise launched full-scale warfare almost as soon as she entered the room. I knew I was in for a long summer.....

So what makes a 9 year old girl try to commit suicide, and burn every bridge that someone puts out for her? In Denise's case, she was born to a crack addict, and was left alone, lying in her crib for days at a time, wallowing in her feces, crying at the top of her little infant lungs for food. Her mother would allow men to come in and molest baby Denise in exchange for drugs. As a toddler, she would eat lead paint chips... the only thing she could find. Then when her situation was discovered, she was placed in a foster home, where she was abused again. Then on to home after home after home.... and finally to a mental health institution before coming to Salem.

T-man and Denise are just a few of the thousands, if not millions of children living a daily nightmare. I tend to focus a lot on beauty and peace on my blog... But I am also painfully aware that the world isn't a beautiful place in a lot of ways. It can be a dark, ugly, evil place. Maybe because I've seen the darkness, I can appreciate the light and beauty that much more.

As we approach the holiday season, a lot of us will relish the comforts of home, family, and abundance. That is all well and good.... I will be doing the same. But let us not forget those who don't have the luxury of a home-cooked meal, a mother's hand to hold, gifts to open, or a safe place to rest their head. I believe strongly that we were not put on this earth just to be comfortable, consume resources, and take up space. There is a needy world out there... a dark world. A world that needs people to come and shine some light into its darkness.

Denise was able to stay at Salem for 2 years before being placed back in her county. I not only was her Teaching Parent that summer, but she was placed in the class where I would be a Teaching Assistant in the fall. I was in the trenches with her for 2 years.... fighting alongside the other staff for her life. And I had the privilege of slowly, but surely, seeing LIFE.... a child emerge from the shell. After months of aggression, defiance, and violence on her part, I got to see her first real tear, when she gave her first sincere apology for hurting someone. I saw the film of apathy come off her eyes. I saw her bond for the first time in years.... first with our classroom dog, then with a fellow student, then with us, her teachers.... baby steps. I got to hold her and sing her to sleep at night. But through it all, I didn't feel that I was doing her a favor..... IN fact, I felt like I was the lucky see this miracle, as she was the bravest little girl I had ever met, to open herself up to love after the nightmare of her former existence.

Denise and T-man will probably never be truly functioning members of society. T-man is now living with relatives. Denise is now 18 and in an independent living facility for young adults. She still calls me on the holidays and wants to know what I am going to send her. She tells me she loves me and misses me. And those are precious words in my ear, because I know she means it in the most sincere way she can.

This season, let us be beacons of light in the dark places in our communities. When we pray and Give Thanks, let us not forget to pray and petition on behalf of those who don't have a voice. Let us not forget those outside our comfortable homes, whether it be the lonely widow or widower, an abused child, a nursing home resident, or even a stray dog. Yes, let us be Thankful, but not forgetful......

(*name changed for privacy)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

"All the Friendly Beasts....."

A friendly young deer seen on a recent outing...which one do you think is more curious about the other? :)

(for more wordless wednesdays, go here. )

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

And the Winner Is.......

Thanks to everyone for all the birthday and blogiversary wishes! I especially enjoyed getting some of you lurkers out! :) Catherine is the winner of the give-away..... And on top of the package mentioned, Sir Laughsalot has added a couple of little extras in his excitement over the whole thing.

And for a little nepotism, info for purchasing my mom's Christmas CD is here. You can scroll down to find 'Leading of the Star'. As I mentioned, it is a wonderful instrumental album and would make a great gift for Hammered dulcimer or harp fans. Just let her know I sent ya!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wordless Wednesday
"Picture Perfect"

view from my living room window.....

(for more wordless wednesdays click here)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Little Cabin in the Woods........

It was quite apt that Sir Laughsalot and I had been reading that first book by Laura Ingalls Wilder when we went to this Harvest Party at Fiddle Girl and her husband's cabin.... I could have sworn we went back in time and were at Half-pint's little house in the big woods....

The bounties of the harvest were brought by everyone..... canned and preserved, baked, or made into other tasty dishes.... the tables overflowed.....

Home-made chicken and dumplings were cooked in the kettle over the fire.....
Even Fiddle Girl's son got in on the action and showed his young entrepeneurial spirit by cooking up Hot Chocolate in his own little kettle..... 50 cents a cup, he said.... to go towards buying a steam engine. I guess you can't start dreamin' and schemin' too young....

And if you drank too much hot chocolate, or enjoyed the fruits of the harvest a little too much.... you had to wait your turn to use the johnny-house, as there was no indoor plumbing or electricity.....

We drew the evening to a close by getting our instruments out and playing by the light of oil lamps and candles that were scatterred about the cabin.... Even Sir Laughsalot played along on his harmonica.

Living history.... or maybe a more appropriate term would be 'Living traditions'......
"Smoke hangs like haze over harvested fields, The gold of stubble, the brown of turned earth.
And you walk under the red light of fall..
The scent of fallen apples, the dust of threshed grain
The sharp, gentle chill of fall.
Here as we move into the shadows of autumn
The night that brings the morning of spring.
Come to us, Lord of Harvest...Teach us to be thankful for the gifts you bring us ..."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Grandfather Ed.......
Another Hero fighting for his family and community..... Ed Wiley. After seeing his granddaughter and her classmates getting steadily sicker from attending Marsh Fork Elementary School, sitting below a huge coal processing plant and Mountaintop Removal Site, he committed to walk 455 miles...... from Charleston, WV, to Washington, D.C. to try to get our politicians to take notice and build the children a new school.

A blog chronicling his journey is here . You have to scroll down to the bottom for the first post. For more info about Marsh Fork Elementary, go here.
It's been a year since Ed's march and despite commitments from state politicians, nothing has been done.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Keeper of the Mountain......

Hello my friends..... I am back from the Stream Buffer Zone Hearing with a renewed passion and energy to fight the evil of Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining. I finally got to meet some of the heroes of the battle.... the people in the midst of the struggle, enduring great hardships because of Coal, but standing up to the giant. I am not quite done processing the whole experience yet.... but after seeing everday folks stand up and testify, bring filthy water in from their wells and creeks, despite the jeering and laughter of big, intimidating men all around the room sent out by the coal companies, I see the need to fight even harder. I, myself, was jeered as I spoke and was able to see the true nature of the industry that we are fighting. They had absolutely no respect for any of the speakers, even a little 71 year old lady who spoke on behalf of her community.... they constantly interrupted her and one even yelled out: "You're senile, Sit Down and Be Quiet!"

So while I am processing it all, I am going to feature some of the heroes fighting for their land, lives, and community. Firstly, Larry Gibson , a.k.a. 'Keeper of the Mountain', whom I was so honored to meet. Here is his story:

Larry Gibson's family has lived on or near Kayford Mountain since the late 1700's. More than 300 relatives are buried in the cemetery on Kayford Mountain. Larry and his family used to live on the lowest lying part of the mountain, and looked "up" to the mountain peaks that surrounded them. Since 1986, the slow motion destruction of Kayford Mountain has been continuous -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Eighteen years after the "mountain top removal" project began, Larry Gibson now occupies the highest point of land around; he is enveloped by a 12,000 acre pancake in what was previously a mountain range.

(As a sidenote.... just recently, part of Larry's family cemetery was bulldozed through, even though the coal company knew it was illegal..... )

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Apple Butter time........

It's that time of year in the mountains..... time for making apple butter. On any given Friday or Saturday, you can drive the backroads of Appalachia and stumble upon families, churches, and community groups gathered around huge kettles, sitting in lawn chairs, tables piled with home-made food cooked by the womenfolk to sustain the workers through the 24 hour process.

This weekend, it was our turn for stirring the big pots at Sir Laughsalot's little, rural school. It was a perfect fall day for the venture.... cool breezes and blue skies.

Selling apple butter is our school's big fall fundraiser along with an ice-cream social in the spring. We feel extremely blessed to live in an area where the small, community schools have been able to remain open due to community and parental involvement. I am a strong believer in small class sizes and parental involvement.... there are only 13 children in the whole Kindergarten class at this school, which ensures a lot of individual attention and more time and energy for creative teaching.

For this particualr venture, we worked in shifts, parents and kids. It was a great opportunity to meet other parents and the kids enjoyed helping out.
When their arms got tired, they played
on the school playground or climbed the woodpile...

I cherished the morning.... the sense of community, coming together to support our kids and school.... the smell of woodsmoke and apples... kids helping and learning to work together.... stirring a huge kettle full of apple butter, outdoors, surrounded by the beautiful, fall-hued mountains......

Our mountain ancestors might have been doing the very same thing on a similar weekend, over a hundred years ago.

Connection, Community, Family, Simplicity......

Life is good!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Received in my e-mail box last week:

'You are receiving this email in response to your request relating to the proposed rule that the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement published on August 24, 2007. Among other things, the rule would place additional restrictions on the construction of excess spoil fills and clarify the stream buffer zone rule.

After reviewing the requests that we received, OSM has decided to extend the deadline for receipt of comments on the proposed rule until November 23, 2007. We also will be holding public hearings to accept testimony on the proposed rule at four locations on October 24, 2007. All hearings are scheduled to begin at 6 pm and end at 9 pm.

The hearings will be held at the following locations:

· Holiday Inn Charleston ( Charleston House), 600 Kanawha Boulevard East, Charleston , West Virginia .

· Hazard Community & Technical College , Hazard Campus, Jolly Center , Room 208, One Community College Drive , Hazard , Kentucky .

· Pellissippi State Technical Community College , Goins Auditorium , 10915 Hardin Valley Road , Knoxville , Tennessee .

· Ramada Inn Washington, 1170 West Chestnut Street , Washington , Pennsylvania . '

It's still not too late to comment. The link is HERE. Hubby's taking off of work next week so we can go to the hearing nearest us to voice our concern on this new Concession to the Coal Industry. If any of these locations are near you, please go and let your voice be heard.... or just show up for support.

P.S. Blog Post of Note:
Here is one blogger's first-hand encounter with Mountain-top Removal... It's worth taking a look and really shows the scope of the devastation....

Monday, October 15, 2007

Do you know where your eggs come from?

In my college Ecology class, back in the mid 90's, I discovered the horrors of factory farms. Before that, I had a picturesque view of where my meat and eggs came from: cows lazing about in fields and chickens roaming around looking for worms, just like on the farm I grew up on. I was so horrified at getting an inside look at factory farms that I switched to vegetarianism.

When I got married, I conceded to eating meat again, but I wanted to be assured of where it was coming from. Unless you shop in a Whole Foods/Organic store or buy off of a local farmer, the meat, dairy, and egg products you are consuming most likely come from animals that have lived a miserable life. To find out more about Wegman's Cruelty and urge them to let their hens be free-range, go here. This link also provides information on egg guidelines and making sure you are buying true Cage-free eggs. Another good link is Local Harvest, which can guide you to family farms near where you live.

So next time you are at the grocery store, send a message and buy Cage-Free Eggs!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Haunting.......

the whispers come.... in the night...out in my yard...

in the mountain breeze that blows through my hair...

"come, Beloved, there is something more"...

my Lover calls from the mountain, from the hills...

"awake....Awake... can' t you see that I've led you here?
don't turn away...I've been preparing you for this...
this wild know...your heart knows..."

He's beckoning... "come....I'm's time....."

Oh, my heart! There IS a place for a wild, passionate heart in this Christian journey. It's not something that has to be tamed or tempered..... My God put it there to lead me to Him....

(Journal entry while reading "The Sacred Romance".... a MUST read for anyone who has felt the haunting and has embarked on this journey of faith..... )

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Morning Has Broken......

"Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word....

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass...

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's re-creation of the new day... "

- Traditional Hymn by Eleanor Farjeon

(photo: morning view from my front porch..... )

Sunday, October 07, 2007

If They Play It, I Will Come.......

One of the first things I do when I move to a new town, is seek out fellow old-time musicians. This was a difficult task when we lived in Maryland, as the Appalachian culture wasn't quite thriving there, even though we were still in the Appalachian mountains. But it didn't take long in our new town....

Old-time musicians are usually some of the friendliest and welcoming folks around... and they love to have other people sit in and play with them. Traditional music lends itself to group playing...sitting around and 'jamming'... and the more the merrier.

At the dawning of our second month here, I met my new friend, Fiddlegirl, at the church we've been attending. We immediately hit it off, and she gushed that I was an answer to prayer, as she had wanted to start an 'all-girl' group and had yet to meet many female musicians that loved traditional music. She already plays at local coffee shops and jams, but wanted some others to sit in with her.

We spent some time playing and picking on her porch in preparation for this Friday night jam and we made our big 'debut'. To tell you the truth, she's an answer to my prayers, too, as playing music feeds my soul... but I don't do it regularly. I only tend to play if I have others to play with.

It may not be the Friday Night Jamboree, but I am so glad to have found that the music scene is alive and kicking in our little community..... and will hopefully continue to grow!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Morning Visitors......
My first stop every morning (after the potty ), is my kitchen window. I always drink a glass of water first thing in the morning and gaze up at the early morning light playing on the mountain. Today, there was a strange silhouette on the window..... from a distance, it looked like a feather.

I approached and took a closer look and saw that it was a praying mantis.... one of my favorite insects. It brought back a flood of memories as they were abundant on our farm in Kentucky growing up. They are one of the more elegant species of the insect world. He was as curious about me, as I was about him. I don't have a good camera for micro shots, but you can see his little beady eyes checking me out.....

While I was out getting a photo of the little guy, I turned around and looked up at the hill behind us, and saw some of our regular morning visitors...... buzzards. We have two trees on the hill with dead branches, and they love to roost there at night..... sometimes I've seen as many as twenty at a time... their bald, bright red heads tucked into their chests in slumber.

Since I had the camera ready, I thought I'd go see if my other little morning friend had a productive night. I went to the front of the house, to our shrubbery, and saw she had been quite busy last night. She's always by the front porch when I sit and drink my coffee there in the mornings. Sometimes I give her a little treat by leaving the porch light on for a while in the evenings. :)

It seems I am surrounded on all sides.........
Some might find these creatures quite icky, but they all serve a purpose, and keep me company out here in the country....

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Things that make me smile....
Small town parades....

Friday, September 28, 2007

"And They'll Know We are Christians by our Love........."

That is the song that ran through my head tonight as I attended revival services at the small church we have been visiting. It has been a while since I have been so moved during church services. The sermons are not awe-inspiring..... they are simple. They still sing the old hymns, not more modern praise and worship music.... But both at Sunday morning services and this week at revival services, I have been moved to tears.

We have been welcomed into the church with warmth and open arms. This week was special because a pastor from out-of-town came to deliver the messages each night..... this after having lost his young brother in a tragic accident two weeks ago. Our church let him know that he didn't have to follow through with his commitment to preach here, but he wanted to come.

Last night, a church member who has had a long battle with cancer came forward in tears at the end of the service, and told the congregation she just found out her cancer was back and had spread. Immediately, the whole church came forward, surrounded her, laid hands on her, and prayed and wept with her..... many stayed even after the service was over, to encourage her and pray.

Then tonight, the guest pastor gave a very sincere sermon on faithfulness and how he had been inspired by this little church. He let us know how therapeutic this week with our church had been and talked of needing prayer for going back and dealing with his grief over his brother. The closing song found just about every one in the church on their knees...... at the alter, in the aisles, in the pews, surrounding the pastor as his tears flowed in mourning. Even the elderly, who could barely walk, were kneeling in prayer, leaning against the pews. I was humbled and moved by their sincerity and compassion.....

Love...... is a verb. And the spirit of God showed up in a little country church in Appalachia, among simple people who want to be faithful to Him.... in the way they know how.

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ...."
-Galations 6:2

(Painting by Bryan Morgan)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


(Ponderings inspired in Cataloochee Valley)

Venerable valley, that time has you mourn for those who left you behind?

When the winds blow and make these old boards creak and groan, does it stir up memories of life now gone?

The plow no longer digs deep in your ground... No more laughter, no more singing, no more church bells sound.....

But I believe you still remember, because you whispered it to me.... I heard the murmur on the cool mountain breeze.... You sang softly of age-old mysteries... and of life and death in this ancient valley......