Community of Blessings

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Community is a sign that love is possible in a materialistic world… It is a sign that we don’t need a lot of money to be happy–in fact, the opposite.”
Jean Vanier, Community And Growth

Last summer I mentioned to my mother and sister the fact that the harvest season does not seem to be as decorated in the West as in the East. “Perhaps that’s because Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, the place of the landing of the Pilgrims, is geographically closer, so the season of fall is more celebrated. But, I really don’t know what it is,” I admitted.

On Sunday I arrived at the doors of my church and found it beautifully decorated for the fall season. The blessings of community and sermons of life lessons, relevant to today’s world, are always inside these church doors.

IMG_20151011_084245_836 Reflections last week from the Rev. Tim Selby included the question “And How Are the Children?”  Unfortunately in this day and age with all of the incidents in schools we can’t confidently answer “All are safely gathered in.”IMG_20151011_084455_846

By the end of the sermon each and everyone of us hoped our prayers would be heard as we sang the closing hymn “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

If you wish to hear the words of the message, keep your eye on the church website where recordings of each Sunday’s lessons are always posted.

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and Lessons of Heart and Soul.

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Insights Into the Soul

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Love unlocks doors and opens windows that were not there before. ~ Mignon McLaughlin

“There’s so much to see,” I said to my husband as we took a pace that was much too quick for both of us through the Denver Botanic Gardens. We wanted to see it all. “As much as I am enjoying the Chuhily exhibit, the structural elements and hardscapes that are incorporated into this garden are amazing. You can really see it this time of the year, without all the flowers. There is a real art to having something of interest in the garden year round  when flowers are practically non-existent or ‘bare bones.’ They’ve done an amazing job.”

“I agree,” said Terry. His father was a landscaper, and both of us have an interest and eye for design in the garden. My dad was a custom home builder so I’ve always loved architecture. I find doors and windows incorporated into any kind of structures interesting.

Today on All Things Fulfilling, travel with me through some of my favorite doors and windows that I came across in the Denver Botanic Gardens. I captured these visual images over a very fulfilling trip during the Thanksgiving weekend.

A small key opens big doors – Turkish Proverb

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Commitment opens the doors of imagination, allows vision, and gives us the right stuff to turn our dreams into reality. ~ James Womack

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Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.~ Joseph Campbell

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There are things known and things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception – Aldous Huxley

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 All the windows of my heart I open to this day ~ John Greenleaf Whittier

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 Let there be many windows to your soul, that all the glory of the world may beautify it ~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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Happiness sneaks in through a door we didn’t know we left open.” ~ Unknown

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 When one door is closed, don’t you know another is open. ~ Bob Marley

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How can I know anything about the past or the future, when the light of the Beloved shines now. ~ Rumi

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Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.  ~Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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The heart of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. ~ Audrey Hepburn

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For more insight into the soul of what makes this woman’s heart tick, check out Sue Batton Leonard’s award-winning memoir “Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.” http://amzn.to/1vDFUMt

See you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling.

Glassworks in the Garden

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I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape – the loneliness of it – the dead feeling of winter.  Something waits beneath it – the whole story doesn’t show.” –  Andrew Wyeth

The remains of summer, now shades of gray, ocher, umber, gold, crimson, wheat, rust and garnet lay dead and dried covering the forest floor and spaces of the outdoor gallery of the Denver Botanic Gardens. Then Pow!  Just as you rounded another corner intense spurts of color were exhibited in creative settings picking up the energy of the gardens where the plants are bedded down for their long winter’s rest.

IMG_20141128_152131_052On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, my husband and I snubbed shopping the stores and malls  and visited the Denver Botanic Gardens. Even though we were visiting during one of the darkest seasons it was filled with glory, brightly highlighted by the work of international glass artist Dale Chihuly. Color was present in the natural landscapes, in ponds and in streams. It was a sight to behold.

For more information on Dale Chihuly and the publications that chronical his education and work as a young man on a Fulbright Fellowship at the Venini glass factory in Venice, Italy and subsequent forming of the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State, please visit these sites.www.pilchuck.com and http://www.chihuly.com.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Our only regrets were that we hadn’t visited much earlier in the season also when the flowers were blooming and we could see the whole story.

Enjoy the journey through these visual images of the Chihuly exhibition, and return to All Things Fulfilling tomorrow. I will share something else that I found besides glassworks in the bare bones of the winter garden.

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This blog is brought to you by the award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard. For information on her book Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, please visit this link. http://amzn.to/1vDFUMt.

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Aired at the Farm, Refreshingly

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 “Feed your faith and starve your doubts.”Kenneth E. Hagin Sr.

A few weeks ago my sister-in-law, Grace, and I visited the Prigel Family Creamery http://www.prigelfamilycreamery.com/ in Glen Arm, Maryland to pick up some of their award-winning “Best of Baltimore” ice cream. The farm is located in horse country, near My Lady’s Manor, Maryland in Baltimore County, north of the city. It’s in the area of the state where the notable “steeple chases” take place every April. For those of you who are unfamiliar with that term, think fox and hound hunts. http://www.marylandsteeplechasing.com/main/mlm/datetime.htm

As we drove up to the farm, I was surprised by what I saw. A business that unabashedly shares their belief on a sign etched in stone right on the foundation of the building. You can’t miss it.

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“How refreshing is that?” I thought. So many businesses and individuals in this day and age would rather not display signs of the American values and principles that our country was founded upon – a sad state of affairs, I think, if I can be honest.

As everyone knows farming is one of the most difficult occupations there is. Hard work, unforeseeable challenges and the unrelenting task of finding ways to be a sustainable business is all part of the job. It also takes faith to be a farmer because they are constantly at the mercy of unpredictable weather!

Today during this week of gratefulness, I’d like to dedicate this blog on All Things Fulfilling to farmers and ranchers everywhere who keep us fed with fresh produce and other “fruits” of their labor and production – meat, eggs, grains, cheese, poultry, maple syrup and so much more. When we sit down to the Thanksgiving table on Thursday, let us remember where the food we eat comes from and those who produce it.

Here are a few more photos from my quick stop at Prigel’s, along the trail of my East Coast book tour, which I am so very grateful for.

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This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard. For information on her memoir, Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, which has won three awards, please visit this site.http://amzn.to/1vDFUMt.

 


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The Gift of Time

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Thank God for his priceless gifts and miracles around the world. ~ Unknown

“Good morning, Sunshine!” I said to myself as we began down a long cornfield-lined road, with sun rays gleaming on the dried golden stalks. It was a gorgeous morning on the Chesapeake. My parents and I were headed to a landmark that harkened to us from Route 213 in Kent County, Maryland.

As we drove up to the Shrewsbury Parish Church I said, “I feel as if I could be in England. This place looks like something from a British show on PBS.” All the while, I was thinking of the Vicar of Dibley, a program that I loved that is now longer broadcast.

We walked the grounds, peaked in the windows, read ages old headstones and just enjoyed being together as parents and adult child taking in the wonders of the season and the beautiful surroundings. Before we left the grounds, the Rector Rev. Henry M. Sabetti stopped and we chatted. We talked about my new memoir and I gave him a bookmark of  Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. http://amzn.to/1vDFUMt.

Today, I’d like to share images with our readers. If you are interested in reading more about this historic church on the Eastern shores of Chesapeake Bay country, please visit this website.http://www.shrewsburyparish.org/Shrewsbury_Parish/About_Us.html.

It’s been wonderful spending time with my family while being on my East Coast book tour. That morning was just one of many treasured early lights of day that I have spent with my parents. Now I head back to the wild, wild west!

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IMG_20141028_114420_973The two gravestones above must be for all the mothers and fathers who are in this final resting place in the churchyard of Shrewsbury Parish.

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Revelations about my Mother

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“A man is a little thing while he works by and for himself, but when he gives voice to the rules of love and justice, he is godlike.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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My mother didn’t know I was going to snap this picture.  She was looking at me as I was exclaiming about the beauty of the place we had discovered in our travels on the Eastern shore of Maryland. I couldn’t help myself. She was perfectly positioned in a place where I think she’s belonged all her life. Behind the podium on an altar.

“Why is that?” you might ask. I think she missed her calling. She should have been a pastor. She has ministered to almost as many people over the course of her lifetime than any chaplain by:

  • Feeding the masses
  • Caring for the sick
  • Counseling the disheartened
  • Opening her heart,  doors and table to strangers and friends alike

My mother told me that even as a little child, she was drawn into a church. Her father drove  her on Sunday mornings and dropped her off, where she sat alone in a pew listening to the sermon. She said she loved the “peacefulness of it.”

She never pursued the life of a reverend formally. She was born 85 years ago, and back then there were few choices for women, and they didn’t do that. She fell in love with my father at the tender age of 12 and they created a beautiful life for themselves together. Their marriage has lasted 65 yrs and counting.

Mom found her own way to minister to people, including building an outstanding relationship with an African American woman, who was needy and appeared at my parent’s door one day back in the 1950s. That wonderful woman became part of our family. If you want to know more about this story, “Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected” tells it. Follow this link for more information.http://amzn.to/1vDFUMt.

Today, Mom I salute you! This is how I’ve seen you throughout your lifetime – leading people surrounded by tall trees in a setting  just like in these picture!

Do return tomorrow to All Things Fulfilling. More photos from the Shrewsbury Parish Church will be posted. The place was a most welcomed respite from our travels off the beaten path of the Eastern shore of Maryland.

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The Dream of Freedom

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Every great dreamer begins with a dream. Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” ~ Harriet Tubman
IMG_20141030_135054_661There is a National Monument in Dorchester County, Maryland dedicated to the honor of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. The resistance movement was a network of people who helped slaves escape and begin free lives.

Araminta “Minty” Ross, was born into slavery in Dorchester County in 1822 and later became known as Harriet Tubman when she married freeman John Tubman. She became one of the most famous agents of the Underground Railroad who risked her life returning 13 times to rescue family and friends and help them cross the Pennsylvania line to freedom. She intimately knew how to secretly navigate the tidal stream waters and was the first woman to lead an armed U.S. Military assault.

By the time of her death in 1913, she became known as “Moses of her people” for her activism in the women’s suffrage movement, the Underground Railroad, her strong faith and her founding of a home for the elderly and disadvantaged.

In March 2013, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation creating Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Tubman’s story is so rich in American history that the U.S. Department of the Interior has begun constructing a park that is to become a new National Park in the heart of the Chesapeake Country Heritage area.

The Harriet Tubman Freedom Byway takes tourists on a 125 mile driving tour to Tubman’s home and to other landmarks that are significant to the Underground Railroad story.

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There is already the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center at 424 Race Street in Cambridge, Maryland. Visitors can access resources about this American hero who was so active in the decades leading up to the civil war.

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My visit to the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center really peaked my interest in learning more about this tale of a freedom and liberation and the risks of the Underground Railroad. I am going to start with a book suggested to me by a docent at the museum called “Song Not Yet Sung” by James McBride.

Abolitionist Thomas Garrett said of Harriet Tubman “I never met a person of any color who had more confidence in the voice of God, as spoken directly through her soul.”

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For more information, please visit these websites. http://www.nps.gov/hatu, http://www.nps.gov/ugrr and http://www.harriettubman.com. Here are some photos of my visit to the Harriet Tubman Educational Center.

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This museum also has information about other early prominent African American people in fields of law, journalism, medicine, arts, math and science, music, military/government , dance & theatre.

IMG_20141030_133059_040This blog is brought to you by EVVY award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard. For information on her publication “Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected” please visit this link. http://amzn.to/1vDFUMt.