Friday, August 28, 2015

Small Town Heartfelt Home: Farmgirl Sisterhood Friday Post 14

Small Town Heartfelt Home

Farmgirl Sisterhood Friday Post 14




Do you daydream about towns like Andy Taylor’s Mayberry and George Bailey’s Bedford Falls? Do you wonder if they still exist? Yes, across America and far away many quaint small towns burst with big character.  One of them is just 20 minutes down the road from my home. Shepherdstown, West Virginia is richly populated with picturesque, historic, salt-of-the-earth people that will steal your heart away.

I attend many events in Shepherdstown. On the second Tuesday of the month, I attend Storytellers at the War Memorial Building.  Yet, it is the connections with the locals that have built this thriving community. Sure it is home to the acclaimed Contemporary American Theater Festival, but also several unique restaurants, and shops galore.  

 I could spend an entire day walking the many side streets but it is the wave from the front porch, the smile from Sam at the school of music, and projects shared from the yarn shop. The comic book store gathers weekly to host card and board games. Shepherdstown is a haven for the creative arts and amazing front porches. 

I especially like the sense of community that Shepherdstown welcomes you with. The chief of police walked me to my car one night after a SPEAK performance. Moreover, I appreciate the variety of cultural influence from younger University students to the well-known authors and musicians.  

History is abundant here. Shepherdstown was chartered in 1762 – which makes it nearly thirty years older than the United States. The town, and its surrounding area, also holds a unique place in American history. 

In 1787, James Rumsey conducted a successful trial of his new invention, the steamboat, in the Potomac River at the north end of Princess Street. Soldiers from the Shepherdstown area joined George Washington in New England after the Beeline March. 

Local residents witnessed some of the most famous battles in the Civil War. As Antietam raged, many of the homes and buildings in town served various purposes – often as makeshift hospitals. History buffs and regular travelers alike find Shepherdstown’s historical allure a perfect complement to the charm and variety readily abundant at every turn in town. 

If you visit the Shepherdstown Visitor Center or website, a self-guided walking tour of Shepherdstown is available. 

There is something special about small towns. Maybe it is the flags on the front porch, different culture, or the swings that have enjoyed the company of a neighbor with the latest news. 

Truth is, we all have special places that we hold dear to our heart but these places are really what we call “Home.” Sarah Dressen says it best in her book, What Happened to Goodbye

“Home wasn't a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Monday, August 17, 2015

Mindful Return to School

Back to School

Today is the first day of school in my local area of West Virginia. I am rather excited to report that no tears were shed, no fussing between mother and child and all went rather smoothly! Well to be honest it went too smoothly! The only thing, I mentioned was that I was surprised that he was not wearing his new shoes. He said that he could not find them. “What!” Might I remind you at this point for those who know my son and to those who do not know him, he wears a size 11 men’s shoe. How in the world, can a 12 year old boy not see them in the middle of his bedroom floor escapes me. However, they were quickly put on.

After dashing down the stairs and guzzling a banana smoothie, my son let me take his picture on the front steps of our home. Alas, I am not allowed to post any of these photos. I am rather pushing my luck with the one here. Imagine a pre-teen that doesn’t like any form of social media or his picture taken! Shocking. I am now whispering advice to everyone, start blogging and join Facebook. Your children will shy away from it! However, it sure was some thing to see him walk from the car to the front door of school. Warm joy filled my heart and liquid sunshine rose in my throat.  I did noticed most of the children had ear buds and cell phones. I figure this is much lighter than the huge boom boxes that I use to cart around. Somethings never change.

Back to School Photo! 2015 (And The Famous Bacon I Am Your Father Shirt.)

As a child, I too enjoyed going back to school. Many fond memories of gathering my notebooks, covering my books with brown paper sacks the first week, and the excitement of making new friends. There is no secret that I was a handful as a child. I was sent home twice in Kindergarten. Once for explaining the process of how puppies were made and well maybe bringing a puppy to school may not have been a good decision. Oh and the time that I made everyone in class cry over my story that there was no Santa only to be forced to apologize and when I was allowed to return  to class……. tears as I spoke of the existence of the Easter bunny.  Geez, now in schools you can’t even mention Christmas or Easter.

My Breakfast Today at IHOP.
Parents now a days attend “Boo Hoo Breakfast." This is a puzzle for me. I am rather happy that my son is attending school. Maybe after 3 years of homeschool, my son and I are happy to have the break from each other.  While at breakfast this morning with Linda Mary, I had to stop her from ordering chicken strips and fries. I even said, “Now don’t be one of those parents that has to order what their child or grandchild would order!” This is also your day.

School is a great place for not only academics but many social life lessons to be learned. It really makes no difference if this is completed at home or in the public. Yet, the honest truth for me as a child, was that school was an escape from home and the secrets that were held there. This is still true for many children that have no home and do not feel safe. 

"The best teachers teach from the heart. not from the book."
 Author Unknown

As children return to school today and over the next few weeks, Lets all remember that each of us have a story. Every moment is an opportunity to connect to something greater than our minds. It is all a process of learning and well like I said above in the title, we all are going "back to school."

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Angels of Morgan Hill by Donna VanLiere

 The Angels of Morgan Hill

 by Donna VanLiere

There are many writers who are able to write a good story, which can be artful with an articulate voice, or put words masterfully on a page.  Donna VanLiere reaches a new limit of magic with The Angels of Morgan Hill. She writes not from her heart but from her soul! Every book that I have read by Mrs. VanLiere teaches a meaningful lesson on life and opens doors to my own world of living.

The story begins in Morgan Hills, Tennessee in 1947. It's an all-white community in which nine year old Jane Gable’s abusive alcoholic father is buried. She then sees her first African American boy named Milo. Mrs. VanLiere threads a tale of small town life, tragedy, hate, love, and change that quilts the human heart into a beautiful story. One of the most touching scenes in the story is between Addy and Fran. Addy tells Fran of a conversation that she had with her mother at the age of twelve while picking cotton.
I said, mama, I’m tired.’ And she hollered out.   Of course you’s tired. We’s all tired.” But you ain’t got no choice. You didn’t pick this race…you was chosen for it, and there ain’t nobody said it was gonna be easy. They’ll be times when you’ll be hot and tired and nearly dead, and nobody will offer you a cup of cold water…but some will, and they’ll offer just enough to keep you’s runnin’. "They won’t be a lot of peoples along the way, but they’ ll be some and Yo Mama will always be one of them."

How true Mrs. VanLiere, we each carry that cup of water and the choice of what we do with it. In Romans 12: 4-8 it states, “For as in one body we have many members. And not all the members have the same function so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.” Paul’s concept of how we should live and work together is clearly exemplified in this story as Fran adopts Milo and just when Fran is tired, struggling, and lost, a small host of characters from Morgan Hill appear to offer that needed cup of water. Milo must make a choice: if he should live with his own kind or live with a white family. The choice that Henry made long ago to leave or stay at Morgan Hill and that special spot on Widow’s Mountain where lives are changed and life is reexamined. The choice of each town member of Morgan Hill as the school year began with a colored child. Then the change in Aunt Dora ties and creates the binding of the quilt of Morgan Hill the outer binding that Mrs. VanLiere frames the story with.

I must admit, I finished this book in less than two days and with many boxes of tissues. Mrs. VanLiere has an amazing gift much like Paul. God gave him the ability to share effectively the gospel of Christ. Mrs. VanLiere is not an apostle or even an evangelist but God has blessed her with opportunity to write stories of the heart and of the soul. Stories that contain themes of human choice are ever so present. No matter what you look like, your faith or where you come from we each have a tiny part in this world of life. Maybe that is why her books are so compelling, natural and loving. I cannot state in words how highly I recommend this book. Moreover, I do know that lives can be blessed and touched with a simple book and when an author shares a little bit of their passion and soul.

Donna VanLiere is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author and gifted conference speaker. She has published ten titles including The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Blessing, both of which were adapted into movies (starring Rob Lowe, Kimberly Williams-Perry and Neil Patrick Harris) and garnered big ratings for CBS television. LifetimeTelevision adapted The Christmas Hope (starring Madeline Stowe) and premiered it December 2009 to stellar ratings as well. Donna's non-seasonal novel, The Angels of Morgan Hill, has captured the same warmth as her Christmas books and continues to please loyal and new fans alike.



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