Treasures Found Off the Beaten Path

You never know what treasures you will find when you get off the interstate and roam down country roads.

When my husband and I first moved to Michigan three years ago we found a beautiful old church in the small town of Muir. Passing through the town on the main road you would never see the church. But by turning off the main drag we found a church with historical value as well as beauty.

Getting Off the Beaten Path https://wp.me/p5cw98-10X

Recently we found another interesting church in the small town of Woodbury. Again, the church would never be spotted from the main highway but we discovered it when we turned off the main road into the town itself. It’s a small town with little to offer but this unique church caught our eye.

The sign outside said it was the St Herman Orthodox Christian Church.

Not being that familiar with the Orthodox faith we had never heard of a St Herman so we were intrigued.

When we drove by the church was not open but we checked their website and found that they had services on Monday. We drove back to Woodbury and the priest and his wife were so gracious to allow us to see the church and to share the history of both the building and the Orthodox faith.

The church building is over 100 years old and was originally built by the United Brethren. In 2006 the Orthodox church family purchased the building and began converting it into their own facility. In the Orthodox faith there is a great emphasis on icons of Christ and the saints. This church was beautiful inside with the “great crowd of witnesses” they had there. The priest’s wife was the artist and she spent over ten years paintings these colorful icons. I would have liked to have taken more pictures but out of respect for their tradition did not get too many.

On learning our names, they pointed out Saint Barbara and Saint Paul that were part of the saints at the front of the church. It was interesting to me that there were no pews in the sanctuary but they explained they stand for their services.

We also learned a little more about St Herman and found that there are several Orthodox churches in the USA that are named after him.

Born into a merchant family in the diocese of Moscow, St. Herman became a monk when he was still a teenager. When Russian explorers began looking toward Alaska St Herman was part of a group of ten men that came to evangelize the area. After five years the head of the mission with several of his group were drowned. Slowly others began to leave until St Herman alone remained. He loved the children, baking them cookies and nursing those who were sick. He started a school for orphans and took the side of the natives against the Russian fur traders who were exploiting them.

After his death in 1837 he was buried in the Resurrection Church on Kodiak. In 1970 the Orthodox church canonized Herman “as a sublime example of the Holy Life, for our spiritual benefit, inspiration, comfort, and the confirmation of our Faith.”[ He is considered by the Orthodox church to be the patron saint of Alaska.

The priest and his wife were very hospitable even inviting us to share their noon meal. They also invited us to join them for one of their services. I’m not sure I would be up to it as they stand for the service and their brochure says their services are long (as much as two hours). I would never be able to stand that long on these arthritic legs. Still, it would be interesting and I have always loved learning more about other Christian beliefs.

Life is much more interesting when you get off the interstate and explore!

March and Its Bitter-Sweet Memories and Emotions

This time of the year I find myself remembering events from years ago that generate both sweet and bitter memories with all the accompanying emotions.

March has been a month that has brought both good and bad events into my life – events that changed me forever.

The first one that brings sweet memories occurred 52 years ago on March 29. That day I walked down the aisle at church and promised to “love and cherish until death do us part.”

For almost 13 years I kept that promise. Every year as that date approaches I remember those years with my first husband. We were happy and shared a lot of joy but the best part of those years was the birth of our two beautiful daughters. Memories of those times make me smile and I am grateful for every moment we shared. Those events changed me – made me a wife, a mother.

The second memory is more painful. It was 39 years ago in March that I got a call at work that I will never forget. My eleven-year-old daughter called me and said, “Momma, I think Daddy is dead.” Those words changed our lives forever. My first husband had been working on our car when an accident occurred that took his life. Ironically it was just four days before we would have celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. So March brings also feelings of great sadness as I remember the shock and horror of that day. The pain my daughters still feel today. The older one grieves as she remembers all the times she had with her daddy, while the younger grieves because she was so young her memories are few. That changed me – made me a young widow with two little girls to raise.

So – every year in March I deal with these memories and these conflicting emotions.

That would be enough to make the last of March an emotional time for me.

But last year added another event that adds to my emotions this time of year.

On March 19 last year my second husband fell and hit his head on the concrete floor of his art studio in the basement of our condo.

By the 22nd he was in pain and we went to the emergency room of our local hospital. From there he was rushed by ambulance to the main hospital in Lansing – the capital of our state – where they did emergency surgery. He had a major brain bleed and they said without the surgery he would not survive the night.

As I remember the next couple of weeks I still can feel the knot in my stomach as I waited at home (because of the virus I could not be with him) wondering if the next call would be to tell me I was a widow again. I wondered how I could take it if he died on the same day as my first husband had died. As the next few days were “touch and go” while they tried to get him off the ventilator, I kept telling God “please, not again, not this time.”

I am so grateful to God that he not only survived the surgery but after a few weeks he was back to his normal self. The doctor said he might have trouble walking, swallowing, communicating. While he had some of these symptoms for a couple of weeks, he was soon completely okay with no lingering symptoms.

One major concern of mine was would he be able to paint again. Would he even be able to walk down the stairs to his art studio. That prayer was again quickly answered. Our son-in-love brought his painting equipment upstairs and within two weeks he painted a beautiful lighthouse scene. Soon he was able to return to his studio downstairs and continue painting.

So along with the knot in my stomach, I also must rejoice with a great emotion of gratitude that I am not a widow for the second time, that my husband is not only alive, but well and strong again.

One of his first paintings also was of a beautiful rainbow which symbolizes hope and a reminder that God keeps His promises. He called it “Hope in the Storm.” It now hangs in my kitchen as a reminder to me that no matter what troubles come, with God there is always hope.

When my first husband died, when my second husband survived, regardless God has been there – and He brings me hope. Hope for whatever next March or any time may bring. Good times or bad – He is faithful.

Hope in the Storm

As my husband and I age, we find we are no longer able to be as active as we once were. For years my husband was a pastor and I worked alongside him teaching Bible classes, playing for worship and all the many tasks that come with serving a community of Christians.

This year I celebrated 72 years of life and my husband celebrated 80. While most people that meet us do not think we are as old as that and we do remain alert and active, we find our bodies do not always want to keep up with our thoughts and desires to be productive. Many days the afternoon hours call for us to take a nap.

Still, because we have both experienced true miracles in times of serious medical problems, we desire to still give and help others. (I share these stories in these posts)

I’m Back With a Miracle Man!

Cancer Survivor

Since my husband loves to paint he recently painted a beautiful rainbow scene he called “Hope in the Storm.”

The rainbow to Christians is a reminder of God’s promise to Noah after the flood. To us when we see the rainbow after a storm, we are reminded of the hope we have that God is faithful.

After receiving several compliments on the painting and its message my husband decided to paint smaller versions of this rainbow and send to those we know who are battling a health issue. He has send ones to young people fighting leukemia, to a young woman fighting a heart disease and to several others with different ailments. It has been a joy to hear from them that the painting and the message it gives of “hope in the storm” is an encouragement to them.

It blesses me to see the joy my husband has received as many have told him how much his painting has meant to them.

It is so true that when you give to others, it comes back to you.

Can I say I’m proud of my husband that at 80 he still is thinking of ways to bless others?

If you would like to see more of his paintings, check it out at PWL Art Gallery.

https://www.facebook.com/PaulWLaneArtGallery/

Chalk Art, Live Music, Small Town on a Friday Night

Every year the small town where I live has a Chalk Art Event.  Local business owners sponsor an artist who designs a chalk drawing on the sidewalk in front of their stores. The small downtown turns into a great combination of chalk art, live music, food vendors and community engagement.  It’s a great way to enjoy a Friday evening meeting friends, grabbing a coffee, food from one of the street venues or stopping in the local cafe.

Artists come early in the day and make their design.  

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That evening a map is provided with a list of all the drawings with the artists and the business that sponsors their work.  Everyone is encouraged to vote for their favorite three entries and the top three with the most votes will receive a prize.

Who would you vote for?

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My husband who is an artist and participates in some of the art events around the community had to pass on this one.  His arthritic knees would never let him get back up if he sat down on the sidewalk to draw.  But we both enjoyed the evening sharing with friends and neighbors the beautiful Friday evening in our small town.  

 

 

Exploring Southern Michigan

Almost two years ago my husband and I moved to Michigan.  Situated close to the middle of the “mitten” we have spent the last two years exploring this beautiful state.  We have fallen in love with the many small towns around the state that are full of arts and crafts, charming down towns that have preserved the older buildings and, of course, the many towns built by Lake Michigan with their beautiful beaches and historical lighthouses.  While it would be hard to pick one town over the other, I must confess I especially loved Holland during the tulip festival and Frankfort was probably my favorite.

Some of our trips started out with a particular town in mind but most of the trips we just got in the car and headed north – east – west.  Getting off the interstates and taking side roads led us to discover many lovely towns and beautiful scenes that we would have missed if we had stayed with the main road.

Yesterday we decided to head in a direction we had not taken – south.  Heading south we discovered the area looked more like our home in Illinois.  More corn fields, more open areas with fewer trees.  The majority of trees were – like back home – deciduous.  While there were evergreen trees they were in the minority.

It was nice to get the sense of being back home, but I must confess in my opinion the southern part of Michigan does not begin to compare with the beauty up north.

However, we did discover two interesting towns.

  • Jackson Michigan

The town of Jackson claims to be the birthplace of the Republican party.  (I have found other towns making that claim.)  There is a plaque commemorating a meeting held in 1854 that Jackson claims was the start of the party led by anti-slavery men.  oaks

 

 

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Jackson also lays claim to having the first prison in Michigan.  Today the old prison area has been turned into the Armory Art’s Village.  Situated behind a 25-foot stone wall, these apartments are home to emerging artists and musicians.

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They give tours of the old prison site, but due to the virus restrictions we were not able to take the tour.  Something to put on our bucket list for later.

Jackson also has several buildings/areas that were part of the underground railroad – but again because of the virus we were not able to visit them.  Add that to the bucket list.

  • From Jackson we headed west to Hillsdale.

Hillsdale College sits in the heart of the city.  The school was established by Free Will Baptists as Central Michigan College at Spring Arbor in 1844.  In 1853 it moved to Hillsdale and changed its name.  It was the first American college whose charter prohibited discrimination based on race, religion or sex.  Hillsdale was the second college in the nation to grant four-year liberal arts degrees to women.

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The college was very active in the fight to end slavery with more students enlisting to fight for the Union than any other western college.  More than 400 students fought for the Union and sixty gave their lives.  Four students earned the Congressional Medal of Honor, three became generals and many served as regimental commanders.  In honor of that heritage the college had a statute of an Union soldier on its campus as well as Frederick Douglas.

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We also saw statues of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.

Leaving Hillsdale we headed back home.  While I must confess my trip south was not as beautiful as the trips we have taken north, still it was good to have discovered more about our adopted state, Michigan.

I vote that our next road trip takes us back north!

 

 

 

 

 

Willie’s Fashion Store

Last year I shared how my youngest granddaughter uses her imagination and pulls me into her “make-believe” world as she plays with the toy animals my husband gave her a few years ago.

Twelve Little Toy Animals, A Little Girl and a Big Imagination

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Last week she stayed with us as her parents were out of town on work-related trips.  I thought we had covered every possible scenario for these animals.  But she came up with another great idea.

She also has a stuffed character that we named Willie who has played with her for years.  (I, of course, have had to be the voice for Willie.)

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We opened a fashion store and Willie was the owner/designer.  Each of the twelve animals came into the store and told Willie what accessory they were looking for.

  • Zoe Zebra wanted some white and black striped books to match her skin.
  • Macey Moose wanted a blue scarf with gold sequins.
  • Tod Tiger wanted a blanket with bright colors.

Each animal had a special request.

Willie soon went to work and designed each item.  (That means Zoe and Grandma drew designs on paper and cut them out.)

After a few hours (actually only a few minutes but time passes fast in our imaginary world), the animals returned for their accessories.

After paying Willie with their credit card (and Willie pointed out to each one that their card was about to expire so they needed to check on that) they put on their scarves, boots, and coats.

Everyone was very happy with Willie’s design and predicted that he will soon be a famous star in the New York fashion world.

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If you look closely you will see the scarves/coats on the animals.

 

 

5,000 Songs – Or More!

It’s Friday and time to take a look at another gospel song.  As I thought back over the many gospel songs I grew up singing, I noticed how many had the same name listed as the author….Fanny Crosby.

Songs I have loved:

  • Blessed Assurance
  • To God Be the Glory
  • Rescue the Perishing
  • Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross
  • I Am Thine O Lord
  • Near the Cross

The list goes on and on.  I don’t think anyone knows exactly how many songs she wrote.  In my research I found articles giving numbers from 5,000 to 9,000.

For anyone to write so many songs – with so many becoming favorites – is amazing.  When you realize this woman was blind it is even more amazing.

Born in 1820 she became ill and a man who was later determined to be a quack prescribed hot mustard poultices for her eyes.  The treatment left her blind at just a few weeks old.  Shortly thereafter, her father died leaving her mother to support the family.  Fanny was then raised by her Christian grandmother.

She quickly showed signs of high intelligence, memorizing large portions of the Bible.  She had a positive attitude about her blindness, writing a poem at age eight expressing her outlook on life.

Oh, what a happy soul I am,
although I cannot see!
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.

How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don’t,
To weep and sigh because I’m blind
I cannot, and I won’t!

Often asked how disappointing it must be to have been blind since a small baby, she replied:

“Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind? Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”

She attended the New York Institute for the Blind in New York.  After 12 years as a student, she then became a teacher there for another 11 years.  She met her husband there, Alexander van Alstine.  An accomplished organist, he wrote the music to many of her hymns.  While she wrote the words to these many songs, she composed the music to only a few of them.  Rather, many musicians would bring their music to her and ask her to compose words to fit the music.

The contract she had with the music publisher require her to submit three hymns a week.  However, she usually wrote six or seven a day.  Writing that many songs naturally meant that many were simple, sentimental verses – but she did also compose music with a more classical structure.  When Dwight Moody began holding revivals in the late 1800’s with the musician Ira Sankey they introduced many of Fanny’s songs to the masses and from there they became popular.

Her songs were especially popular with the Methodist denomination and they used to hold an annual “Fanny Crosby Day.”

Today she has been all but forgotten by the modern church and as the last of the baby boomers die, her songs will probably be remembered no more.

But for those baby boomers who loved her songs here’s one of my favorite for you to enjoy.

My Own Personal “Rainbow Row”

When we moved into our condo last spring my husband decided to work on the unfinished basement and create a place where he could fully enjoy his love of painting.  Before this move there was never a really good place for him to keep all his painting paraphernalia.  A place where he could also display his art work.

So – he began working and made a great “man cave.”

The Making of a Man Cave

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On a row, he decided to work on the second room in the basement.  Instead of putting up dry wall or paneling, he designed a mural – just for me.

A few years ago we spent several weeks in Charleston, South Carolina.  I fell in love with the city and especially loved the area called the Rainbow Row.  Paul bought me a tray painted with the colorful houses and it sits on a shelf above my kitchen sink.  Often I stand for a moment at the sink and remember that beautiful place.

Since we decided we would make this room a place where we could watch TV in the summer when the basement would be cooler than upstairs, he wanted to create for me that beautiful row of colorful houses.

These historic homes were built around 1740 and local merchants had their shops on the ground floor while they lived on the top floor.  At that time the houses were not the colorful ones we see today.

After the Civil War the area became a slum.  Then in 1931 Dorothy Haskell Legge brought the homes numbering 99 through 101 East Bay.  After renovating them, she had the houses painted pink.  Soon future owners began buying the house on East Bay and painting them in pastel shades.  By 1945 after most of the houses on this street had been restored.   Mrs. Legge was given an award from the Preservation Society of Charleston in 1992.

If you ever have the good fortune to visit Charleston, you must see this beautiful row of homes.

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I hope someday to go back and view these homes in person, but until that day, thanks to my husband I can enjoy the memories with my own Rainbow Row.  He is painting the concrete floor a grey/blue and soon I will have an easy chair to sit, read and remember!

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He has started a mural of the sea wall which is near Rainbow Row.  It is a work in progress as he will be adding sailboats to the sea.  This is still a rough scene but will be great when he is done.  Can’t wait for him to get that finished.

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Enjoying Retirement – My Husband the Artist

When my husband and I married years ago he told me he used to paint.  However, he only had one painting to show me.  It was one he had given to his oldest daughter.  I found it interesting because if you looked at one way it appears the people were walking forward side by side; viewed at a different angle it appears they are walking to the left – or is it to the right?

 

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Over the years he had given all his other paintings away.  I tried to encourage him to take up painting again.  One evening he sat down and starting painting.  I loved the finished product.

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My camera does not do the painting justice.  In the trees above there is a small cabin but my camera does not pick that up.

He did not continue painting because being a pastor and a family man his time for painting was limited.  Also we had no area where he could really set up his paints and work at his leisure until a painting was done.

While he did not paint, his love of art was clearly seen in our home.  We often visited art galleries and art shows and he collected quite a few beautiful paintings.

Thankfully, retirement has arrived.  Now he has the time to devote to this love of art.  He also now has a place of his own where he can set up his paints and canvasses and work without the need to set up and put away his work each day.

Last spring we were fortunate enough to buy a condo.  The basement was unfinished and he quickly went to work to make a studio for his art.

He loves to paint the sea with the beautiful sky above.  In our new home state of  Michigan he has plenty of sites to inspire him.  Michigan also has so many small towns with great art galleries and we have loved exploring them.

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Making road trips, he also finds inspiration.  Driving through South Dakota with the treeless view inspired this painting.

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A trip to South Carolina led to these two paintings.

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One of my favorites is Storm at Sea.  You can see the rain coming out of the dark storm clouds.  Looking at the ocean it invites me to wade into the waves as they rush to the shore.

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He recently has a display of his work at the local art gallery featuring his series based on the Creation story in Genesis 1.

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Of that series my favorite is the first one where he tried to imagine Genesis 1:1  How do you capture the Spirit of God hovering over the waters?  To him, it was the darkness with the flame of fire since God’s spirit is often depicted as fire in the Bible.

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While he is no Rembrandt, I am so glad that he finally has a place of his own to enjoy expressing himself in his paintings.  He even set up a page on  Facebook – PWL Art Gallery.

He has worked hard all his life and as he approaches his 80th birthday, I’m thankful he has time to devote to his love of art.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Making of a Man Cave

Last spring we moved into a beautiful condo.  While my husband loves that he does not have to mow the lawn on those hot summer days or shovel the snow when the bitter wind is blowing, he has found himself with more free time.

In our old home we had a beautiful hosta garden with over 200 hostas along with roses, lilies, cone flowers and so much more!  In our new home we do have room for a few flowers and he has enjoyed planting some this summer with plans for more come spring.  However, with the much smaller lawn we have it will never be enough to keep him busy.

 

Giving this free time he has returned to an earlier love – painting.  When he was younger he painted but always ended up giving his paintings to friends who expressed that they liked a particular one.  When I married him he told me about his earlier painting but he had nothing to show me.

I was pleasantly surprised when he began painting again.  In the small house we rented when we first downsized from our home before buying the condo there was little room for him to paint.  With the purchase of our condo I took over the second bedroom and filled it with my books, my music and my computer.  My poor husband still had no room to paint.

He decided to make himself a studio/painting room in our unfinished basement.  Hard at work on the room he has added his favorite “big” chair and a game table so it has become more than just a place to paint.  Every man needs a man cave and he now has one.  While he still has painting and trim work to do, he is almost ready for a game night with friends.

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Game table all ready for a game of checkers with friends

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He has his easy chair and a TV ready to hook up

What is great is that he now has plenty of work for not only painting but can also display some of his work.

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Painting table with a new canvas ready for his next project

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His creation series – I had a hard job getting a good shot of this – but it is based on Genesis 1 and 2

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Here’s a better picture of his Creation Series taken at a showing of his work at the local Clinton County Art Gallery

He also loves maps and has some terrific antique maps of London and Paris that he had no where to display.  Now he can put them up on the walls of his studio/mancave and enjoy.

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I was feeling a little guilty taking the extra room for my space, so now I can better enjoy my area knowing my husband has a space all his own to enjoy.

One of the reasons we bought the condo was to get everything on one floor for me.  I had a knee replacement that did not go well and arthritis in the other knee so stairs are difficult for me.   With this new space I think I may be going up and down stairs again.  As he has completed steps in this decorating I have been called to check it out.  Putting up paneling, painting the floor, putting down rugs, putting up lights – all have required my inspection.  Now he is talking about me coming down stairs to sit in his easy chair and read or blog while he paints.

I have to remind him it is a “man-cave” and women are not allowed.  🙂