Monday, April 30, 2012

Italian Adventure Part One

Lake Como might once have been the playground for European aristocrats, but this past week two lowly touristas from Nashville, Tennessee, were charmed beyond measure by the loveliness of the Master Creator Himself. We literally ate, drank and breathed the beauty and never quite had our fill.  Here's why.

We made our home away from home in a small and charming bed and breakfast in the lakeside village of Varenna. These were the views from the balcony of our room.

Every meal was a feast and there is nothing like breakfast with a view like this in the background!

We spent the first day exploring Varenna and Day Two we took the ferry to Bellagio and Menaggio, two neighboring lakeside towns that are every bit as charming as one might imagine. I kept pinching myself during this leg of our Italian adventure to be sure that I wasn't dreaming.

   And one of the best things about traveling during this time of year is the fact that there were so few people around. The days were sunny and the temperatures in the high fifties and low sixties. Perfect!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


   There are stickers on the wall in the hallway. They are perfectly arranged at eye level if you are a two year old. Their psychedelic color palette adds a touch of whimsy to my otherwise staid and traditional decor. I think I will leave them there for a while. They make me smile.
   There are also small handprints all over the french doors, there is a stack of Clifford books beside my chair along with some carefully collected twigs and sticks, and a few choice rocks that are begging to be added to my collection. If you look carefully you will also likely find a few crayons that have rolled under the sofa accompanied by a stray sock or hair bow. This morning I found a trail of goldfish back to my bedroom. As you might surmise, Little One took up temporary residence over the weekend.
    She came with three bags full of clothes, shoes, diapers, and the like. Her mother, The Daughter, also asked that I please potty train her while she was off traipsing to the Big Apple. We worked on it a bit the first day, but after a 5:45 wake up call and no nap on Saturday, the potty training went out the window. The Daughter tried to convince me that my expertise would prevail over her own inexperience. I am not buying it. If I did it, she can do it. I put the potty away.
  The Husband and I will spend the better part of the next two days recovering from our "staycation" with Little One. We will not be eating any macaroni or raisins or drinking any whole milk. We will, however, be taking long naps and getting in bed very early. We are clearly worn out. But our hearts are full.
   The Husband taught Little One to climb a tree on Saturday. It was all she wanted to do for the next two days. She became the official "tree monkey," and everytime she called herself this, she would laugh with glee. There is nothing better than a gleeful two-year-old. Take a look at some of the wonder for yourself!

And no, she did not take a spill! After raising three sons and the one daughter,
 I am a great believer in the benefits of allowing little people to explore and get 
more than a little dirty. Thus Little One received nothing but encouragement from
 her Pappy and her Nonna in her quest to find some buried treasure on the driveway!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Easter Lovelies

   Easter for us is a time to gather with extended family. While my own children (with the exception of the youngest son) were with their respective spouses' families, it was a joy to have members of my husband's family and my precious nieces (all five of them!) with us to celebrate the Risen King!

"Don't watch, they are hiding the eggs!

Waiting with great anticipation for the Easter Egg Hunt to begin!

   This little one is not quite sure what to do!
 Her big sister shows her how to get the job done!
 Who doesn't love a baby on a hip?!
 This niece is a pro! Check out that basket!
 This little one knew just where to look to find the most eggs!

 This little chickadee was not far behind!
 Meet the youngest member of our family, precious Elsie!

  "My basket is heavy, can you help?"
    It's tiring watching all of the action...
 With no grandparents left, we enjoy having The Husband's lovely aunt and her husband join us, especially since she makes the best fruit tea in Nashville!
 Uncle Bob enjoying the beautiful day!

  Later in the day, Little One made an appearance to have her own special
 Easter Egg Hunt. Uncle Bear made the day by hiding and re-hiding the eggs for her!

 Uncle Bear and The Daughter lend a hand
 "Stickers! Look, my egg has stickers in it! Yippee!"

It was a perfect way to end the day...

Friday, April 6, 2012

Searching for Easter

   I go looking for Easter in Walgreen's. Even though one might be fooled, it is not there among the Peeps, the plastic baskets, and the fake green grass.
   I wander down the aisles of the Hallmark store replete with their perfectly aligned cards and matching envelopes. Scattered everywhere throughout the shop are pink, blue and yellow bunnies nestled alongside hand-painted eggs. This is not my Easter either.
   I join the throngs in the grocery store, filling my cart with treasures for a meal that I will serve to cousins and sisters and husband and children at Sunday lunch. The cash register goes ching, ching, ching, and I am out of there with a laden car and a tired back. This, too, is not my Easter.
   Once home, I set the table, arrange flowers, and slice mountains of squash and onions, grease casserole dishes, tear lettuces, and chop herbs. I am working ahead. It is special, this beauty I seek to create, but it is not Easter.
   I walk outside to bask in the warmth of the late afternoon sunshine. The silver maples are showering their helicopter seeds all over me. I wink at the sky and smile. But Easter? No, this is a compelling beauty from a Divine hand, but it is not Easter.
   I climb back into my Bible, suddenly thirsty for the Holy cup and the bread. I want to linger there at the meal shared with My Beloved, but I am called onward toward a hill outside the city of Jerusalem. It is here that I find a story played out that shakes my soul to the core. It is a tale, oft told, of a suffering and a sacrifice so wretched and so raw that it is at once almost unbearable and unbelievable. I am suddenly there. I smell the blood. I see the heavy splintered form of the cross and the broken God-man upon it. I look into the faces of the betrayers and know that their shame and their guilt mirrors my own. I know what I deserve. But the God-man hanging there will have the final word. "Forgive them," he cries as he shudders and gasps for air. Then He cries out to the Father.
   In a little while, the sky grows dark. The earth shakes. The bolts of lightening accelerate as they penetrate the darkness with a terrible light. I quake inside as I turn back to the cross. It is finished. The God-man breathes no more.
    I want to run from the scene. I am a betrayer and a rebel of the first-order. I don't even have to wait until the cock crows. I know my own heart. I feel the crushing weight of my own sin and my paralyzing grief. And yet. And yet.
    I limp through the days bereft. The morning of the third day dawns bright and beautiful. The women have been busy with their preparations. Their faces are worn with grief and exhaustion but they are filled with a sense of mission and purpose. They have come to anoint the body of the Beloved One. I have tagged along.
   One of the women runs ahead, spurred and driven by a need deep within her. Yet something is amiss. The guards have disappeared, and the giant stone is no longer blocking the darkened entrance to the cave-like tomb. A deep and powerful voice pierces the quiet surrounding the tomb. It is coming from unusual creature standing vigil by the tomb, "Why is it that you seek the living among the dead?" The air seems to quiver at the sound of his words.
  The angel looks with something akin to incredulity at the mounting disbelief in the face of the stumbling weeping woman. Like her, my human mind struggles to apprehend the words and all that they imply.
   She runs to look inside. Her voice trembles as she announces that the tomb is empty. My vision grows blurry. How can it be? THE TOMB IS EMPTY. I fall to my knees, and something inside me begins to take on a life of its own.
   What is this glorious hope, this unspeakable joy rising up within me? Can the terrible suffering of the God-man on the cross find its completion and its consummation in an vacant tomb with its empty ledge and neatly folded linen?
   Yes, yes, my soul cries. Yes. This, this is my Easter. It is an empty tomb. It is here in the dust of the dimly lit cave that I have come to find life. And hope. And victory over an ancient sin and despair that have held my soul in their clutch. This tomb, this place of burial where the body of the Messiah was laid to rest is the Easter I have sought. And it is not just mine. It is for all who dare to believe.
    My heart leaps within me at the truth and the glory of it all.

   Christ the Lord is Risen. 
Indeed, He is Risen! 
Let the earth and the heavens rejoice...