Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Treasure


The Bible is full of treasure. This is the pearl God gave me this morning.

....but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5: 3-5

We should rejoice in suffering--- it brings us closer to hope---closer to the well spring of love God has poured into our hearts. Isn't He amazing?

Count it all joy...all joy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Surgery

Sophie is on the surgery schedule for 3 pm. They will be removing thigh skin for her grafts and getting her first grafts done.

About the only thing I know about court is that they want to completely remove the children from Sarah....Ben included if he chooses to stay married to her.

I'll let you know how the surgery goes.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weekend Wrap Up


One of the big mysteries of my life is what happens to the weekends. As soon as Friday evening begins I seem to enter a time warp. Next thing I know the alarm clock is waking me up to Monday morning.

It was such a good weekend and I'm thankful for many blessings-even if it did seem to go by at the speed of light. I was in my PJ's by 7 Friday night and had a peaceful evening. I spent time on the computer and reading. As blissful of an evening as could be...PJ's, books, computer ...yep, my little piece of heaven on earth.

Saturday was a day for friends. I met a friend for lunch and we had a beautiful afternoon talking. She is always so encouraging to me, she lifts my spirits when I am with her. What a joyful way to spend my day. The evening was spent with several different friends...a time of laughter and memory making. A perfect ending to a lovely day.

We had a wonderful church service today. The worship was sweet and the sermon was powerful. I learned many new things that I hadn't realized before about Nicodemus, Moses and the "snake on a stick", the Sanhedrin, secret believers and the radical way they brought their faith to light, and was reminded that Christ meets us right where we are. A very good thing for a sinner such as I.

I am especially reminded to enjoy these simple pleasures as I think of my family in WV. Yes, I feel guilty for having such a great weekend while they are walking through such a trial, but I also know they don't want Susie and I to stop living. None of us knows what tomorrow holds...we must cherish today...count our many blessings even in storms, and enjoy the life God has given us.

I am thankful that my Monday will start with the sound of an alarm clock, a hot cup of black coffee, my Bible, and then the rush to get us out the door to work and school. I am thankful for the mundane because it is a reminder that all is well....we are healthy and well.

Make it a great week!

Sophia Update from Susie

Good Afternoon special prayer warriors,

I first want to say "Thank you" again for storming the gates of Heaven on Sophia's behalf. My entire family appreciates you!

Sophia has had to be given blood this week. She will be given blood again prior to surgery. I do not know the time of the surgery but I know it will happen on Tuesday unless God miraculously heals her. They will take donor skin from her thighs to repair her feet. Pray for better pain control for her. Pray for my sister. She is soooo tired. She has been at the hospital for 16 days straight. She has neglected her own needs and served Sophia selflessly. She is completely exhausted. I am worried about her.

The hearing for Sarah (the mom) is sometime on Monday. We aren't sure what will come of that either. Pray for Ben. He is such a new Christian and this has been very difficult.

Donna continues to care for my mother, Maddie and Faith. She is working full time and has a lot on her as well. My sister Sondie and I are so far away we are of no use to them. We continue to pray and intercede for them all.

I want you to know that we are not defeated. We are Victorious in Christ. We see God's fingerprints all over this situation. He will continue to be faithful and direct us as a family. We have continued to seek God's healing for Sophia. Her feet and toes have been preserved! Praise the Lord! We thought she was going to lose them all, but Praise God she is not going to lose them. He is FAITHFUL!

God Bless you all!

Susan


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tagged


I have been tagged by Loretta at http://potluckponderings.blogspot.com/. I am supposed to tell 6 random things about myself and tag other people. I really don't have others to tag, except my twin, but I'll participate anyway.

1. I am a product of Head Start. I started out at Fruth in Charleston, WV...then went to another one in Charleston but can't remember the name of that one. Then we moved back to the holler and went to the program at Kenton where we stayed until Junior High School. Come to think of it, my twin and I are the only two from the holler who went to Head Start-and we're the only two who went to college as well. Hmmm, there's something to be said for Head Start Programs.

2. I remember my first trip to a library. It was at the second school we attended in Charleston. I can still feel my amazement at looking at the massive (to a 3-4 year old mind) shelves of books. How would I ever choose just one? I was completely enthralled. That is the very moment my love affair with books began. I could replay that scene over and over again in my mind. The book I finally settled on was Flicker the Discontented Firefly. We moved suddenly and I never got to return the book. I felt terrible about it, like I had stolen it. On the flip side, it became my secret treasure and the only book I owned for several years. You can imagine how many times I read it.

3. I used to love to ride in the back of my dad's truck. We rode to the ridge roads where we then either stood up trying to catch leaves holding on with one hand or no hands as we climbed to the top of the truck bed or the cab...we competed to see who could grab the most out of reach leaves. Susie had the advantage being so much taller, so I had to be very daring. The other way we liked to ride was on the tailgate, especially when it was muddy. We then saw how far off the tailgate we could hang as we drug as much of our legs through the mud as possible. We did fall off a few times...we would end up running behind the truck yelling and waving our arms for dad to stop and let us jump back on. Only one injury that whole time which is pretty amazing. I still have the scar...and no, I never went for medical treatment. We washed my hand in a metal tub of water and let it be.

4. I love dill pickle juice, but haven't drunk any for some time. Nuff said.

5. My first pet was a solid black cat I named Sugar. Go figure.

6. One of my favorite childhood activities was going to get firewood with my dad...chopping, loading, unloading, splitting, and stacking. Only one injury there when the axe flew out of my hands and the handle busted my lips.... no scars thankfully- plus I kept all my teeth. I think I was about 9 or 10.

Think I'll go drink some pickle juice...just kidding! Enjoy your Saturday!

Secret Sins

This morning during my Bible reading I came across a verse about secrets.

Romans 2:16
This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ as my gospel declares.

I think I have things neatly tucked in the secret places of my heart, but God sees it all. This seems obvious even to me that there are no secrets from God, yet I would hazard a guess that we all have secret sins. I think these sins are harming no one, certainly not even myself, but they are. I think I can put band aids over them and bind them deep within to keep them from spilling out into my life, but this is to no avail.

These secret sins...anger, bitterness, envy, self-pity, pride, self-righteousness, idols of success and self worth ...you get the picture...really do affect our interactions with others and with God. They are barriers to the freedom we should be walking in. They change how we treat one another and instead of loving, we lash out hurting people in our path of self destruction. God sees all of this whether we admit it to him, whether we invite him into our secrets or not. As the above scripture says, we will be judged for this one day.

The antidote?

Ephesians 5:11-14
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:

Wake up O sleeper
rise from the dead
and Christ will shine on you.

Then, replace the secret sins with this:

Philippians 4:12-13
I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Father God,
Help me be satisfied with your provisions...whether I am hurting, growing, or thriving. You are enough and you provide my portion. Come into the secrets in my heart and shine your light on them, yes even the secret I am struggling with this very morning. Remove these secret sins and let me walk in freedom and peace. Help me not act like a disobedient child, never happy with who you created me to be...never happy with what you have provided. Help me focus on the eternal, everlasting future, not the here and now and my perceived lack.
In Jesus' name....Amen.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Defeat of the PJs

It was quite a blustery day to walk, but I did it....once I realized that my PJ's had no hold over me. What a revelation! Usually once I am lured into them there is no escape. The weapon that helped win the battle was my razor sharp question. The question I have been asking myself is, "Will I regret going for this walk?" Since I've escaped harm so far, I'm still answering, "No, I'll regret it if I don't".

I enjoyed the walk immensely. It was cool with just a bit of a nip in the wind. I spent the time praying and singing, not out loud of course. Every time I started analyzing my day or replaying conversations (usually to analyze)...I made myself refocus on God...and not to analyze Him....just to praise Him. It was so refreshing.

I finally came out the victor, take that PJ's.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thes: 5:16

Update on Sophie (from Journey to Heaven)

Sophia's feet are healing. Praise the Lord they are healing well enough that the doctor wants to give another week before doing surgery! God is Good! We are continuing to pray that she continues to heal completely without surgery! We are also praying for her hemoglobin counts. It has dropped to 9 and if it drops any further then Soph will need blood. This is happening because she isn't eating!

Thanks prayer warriors! God is Great and Greatly to be praised! :o) Susan


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mail Call


I got an address for Sophie and my sister today. If any of you in blog land get a minute to send a note of encouragement I know it would lift spirits. The skin grafts may be tomorrow, they have held off a week in hopes they could find more good tissue. She is still tube feed and morphine dependent. Friday will mark 14 days since this nightmare began. My nephew is there and they are now allowing the family (except the mother who is under investigation) to use the Ronald McDonald house which is a huge blessing. Rose still has not left the hospital and I'm not sure that Ben will either. Rose's husband, Chuck is headed back to Columbus tomorrow so I know it will help him to have this available.

Donna is hanging tough with the other two children (three when you add my mom). My mind still reels with the thoughts of how much she has on her plate! If anyone wants to send her a note let me know and I'll get that address to you as well.

Address: Sophia Swiney c/o Rose Swiney
Room 4608 Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Dr.
Columbus, OH 43205

Thanks ahead of time to any of you who are able to send a card. Hope you had a blessed Wednesday!

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Super Hero


I have a new super hero...drum roll...Root Canal Man. I am so thankful that the very best root canal doc in NC came to my rescue. He and his assistant were fabulous. Very gentle, compassionate, and skilled.

Thanks for going above and beyond the call of duty. I am in your debt.

Also, ...thanks to my dear hubby's text, love, and food delivery (made by another friend-by the way it was great), the cell phone message from a dear soul that greeted me as I was on the way wishing me luck, my sister's phone call to check on me, and to someone else for the chocolate shake waiting right by the dental chair.

I am SO spoiled. Thanks dear ones. Where would I be without you?

Court Date


The court date for Ben's wife Sarah is Sept. 29. They are making criminal charges against her, so we are expecting prison time. The courts will also decide that day whether to leave the children in foster care with my sister Donna. We have no reason to suspect they won't leave the kids with her. The kitchen floor was repaired this weekend (Thank you mighty man Joel!)

We do not know what this will all look like further down the road. We do know God is in the details (He even made sure Rose had her hormone patches...vital need!), and that He knows best for my family. Our ultimate prayer is that Rose and Chuck will be able to adopt the kids or that Ben will be able to get them back with his parents helping when he is out of town working. Rose and Chuck will need the ultimate home make over before they can be approved so please be in prayer about their living conditions.

Also pray as we navigate "the system". We have no experience with this and Donna is doing her best with trying to figure it out. Maddie the 10 month old will go to daycare today for the first time...pray for her, oh what changes she has had in her life the last few weeks. Pray for Donna and her very full plate.

Pray for continued healing for Sophie...what a very long road she has in front of her. Pray for Rose who will not leave the hospital until Sophie does. Pray for strength for my family. Pray for home renovations if this is God's plan for the children. Pray for Sarah and Ben, they are so young to be facing such obstacles.

Thanks for the prayers. I think my family has used up our quota this year, but I appreciate how many people have loved us through it all...more than you may ever know.

We will continue to praise Him in the storm!

Latest update from my sis...

As much as my family has been fighting a battle we are still blessed! We need to be thankful for the blessings we have had over the last week.

We still have Sophia! That is a huge blessing! She has been fighting the good fight. We do have new skin growing. PTL! We are praying for no infection, and super natural amounts of skin to reform on her feet. We have had some bleak news. She will not walk for a least a year. She will continue to need surgeries until she is about 17. But she is going to have some skin grafting done this week. We need to pray the grafting takes or she could still lose her feet and toes.

We have Faith and Maddie with family! That is a blessing. All three of the kids are wards of the state but my sister has become their "foster" care. Thank God they are with people who love them and not strangers!

Mom's kitchen floor has been repaired (another blessing). Joel and his friend Aaron fixed my mom's floor this weekend. It is the first project at my mom's house since daddy died. Joel said he felt like Daddy was there at the house watching over him. This is the first time Joel has spent any time in the house since Daddy died. I know when I visited there was this overwhelming feeling that Daddy was still at the house. I know it sounds weird. I thought it was my way of dealing, but now that I hear Joel say the same thing it makes me wonder if Daddy really is looking over us all!

Ben (Sophia's daddy) and Sarah (Sophia's mommy) have both prayed for Jesus to be their savior! HUGE BLESSING! It is going to be a long road but with God all things are possible.

We are within a month of closing on our house! Another big blessing. We are officially under contract!

Pastor Chad talked about sustaining strength for some of our battles and supernatural power for others. Well, we need a supernatural touch for Sophia. And sustaining strength for the family.

Rose has been that strength for Sophia. She has not left the hospital for the last 9 days. I worry about her. How long can she do this? Well, today I know God will give her sustaining strength to be there for this innocent baby.

God is faithful and he directs our paths. I don't know at this minute how this will all work for the good of my family, but I don't doubt for a minute that when we get down the path a ways that we will see exactly how this has worked for good. I trust God completely!

WE ARE BLESSED!

By Susan at Journey to Heaven


Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Grandmother's Influence


Today I have thought a lot about grandmothers. I thanked God that although I never knew a grandmother, I had one who had the foresight to pray for her future grandchildren. Grandmother Pearl knew that her death would leave a 3 year old baby daughter (my mom) in the hands of her very ungodly husband, hence prayers of anguish for that baby girl to have Godly influence, motherly influence, so that she could become a godly mother to her own children someday....that somehow the daughter and her children would be led to Christ. Well, her prayers were answered.

My whole train of thought started with thinking about my sisters...Donna and Rose who are in the midst of a very difficult and heartbreaking situation. Donna is providing safe haven for 2 children as Rose is leading the 3rd girl, Sophie, through a battle for her life. Rose is a grandmother who is called to be "That Grandmother" who has a Godly influence on the lives of her grandchildren. She will more than likely be raising these girls and will provide the foundation for their walks of faith as they grow. One day they will look back and realize that but for a grandmother's unbelievable love they may have had a much more difficult path to Jesus.

I have thought about my friend Belinda who had a grandmother whose influence gave Belinda a heart for God while her own parents still don't know Christ. What a blessing that grandmother was for her...what evidence of God's redeeming power.

I have also thought about my friend Sandra who is the godly influence in her granddaughter's life...what seeds she is planting and nurturing. What a walk of faith this has to be for her.

I have been reminded of how many women my friend Lynn has spent time mentoring. None of these women have been family, only sisters in Christ that she has walked with. Exposing her own wounds so that others may find healing. What a radical way to live.

At the spiritual mothering conference last fall we learned so much about women mentoring women, sharing wisdom by living life together with women older and younger than ourselves. When Paul planted a church in Crete, he left Titus in charge. Titus met much opposition on this island known for laziness, gluttony, lying, and all manners of evil. The book of Titus is a letter of advice from Paul on how to manage such behavior. Susan Hunt (Spiritual Mothering) points out that of all the ways Paul could have told the women to combat the decadence of their culture, he told them to invest their energies in training the younger women to live Christianly in their society. I can certainly draw parallels to current culture and the need for investing in our younger women.

Anyway, this is what has been on my mind today. The older I get the more wisdom I see in mentoring others...and allowing myself to be mentored. I pray someone will mentor my daughter and Belinda's daughter who don't live near their grandmothers... I pray that if there is someone who could benefit from my mentoring, God would reveal them....that if someone feels called to mentor me I would be ready to receive that gift. I pray for women around me to share the call, to love one another, and to reach out to others.

We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done....so that the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. Psalm 78:4, 6-7

Friday, September 19, 2008

Personification Practice

The waves roll in shouting,

loud and thunderous in their might

Until the crests become foam whispering

in a rapid advance toward the shore.


Yes, the ocean spoke and

I heard her voice.

The voice of a siren,

beguiling me to listen.


Well, there's my personification practice via B's link. Hope it spoke to you!

Casual Friday


So glad it's Friday! I am amazed at how much has happened since my last Friday post...what a week. My family continues to do as dad taught us by counting our many blessings so that we don't get so caught up in the struggles that we take our eyes off God's goodness.

One of the blessings I have tried to focus on is humor...a great gift from God.

Find something to laugh about today and feel blessed!

Giggles,
Sondie

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Update on Sophie- Praise


Thanks to any of you who has read about Sophie and prayed for her and my family. While this is a terrible, life altering event we still have many things to be thankful for. She is still alive. They did have to put in a feeding tube, but they are trying to get her to eat. Her fevers have diminished. She took a few tentative steps with her special booties on. She has "foot scrubbings" twice daily and is heavily medicated for this.

My sister is staying with her 24/7 and is very much a part of her care even though she is still a ward of the state. We found out this evening that my other sister Donna will be awarded custody upon discharge so praise God for that!! Donna is very busy and has not been able to go back to work as she is adjusting to being a 50 year old taking care of a disabled, mildly demented mother, a 5 year old including school drop off and pick up about 30 minutes away, and a 10 month old who has been very attached to her mom and used to being held. Rose will more than likely be moving in to help once she and Sophie leave Columbus.

My nephew Ben has prayed to receive Christ for the first time in his life!! Big praise for that.

Next items up for prayer in this journey:

The next phase is skin grafts...they are trying to save toes and feet.

Continued prayers for strength for my family who is still grieving my dad's death and already struggling emotionally. Although all of us have said a prayer of thanks that dad is in heaven and not here to see this-it would have done him in.

Prayers for a floor. My parents home has been deemed safe except for the kitchen and hallway floors which are a bit heaved in some places and sagging in others. The linoleum has been ravaged by these floor shifts. This has to be fixed before Sophie can live there which is expected to be in about 3 weeks. Mom thinks she, Tina (my dear, dear loving, giving niece) and Donna just may be able to do this....hmmm. Dad was the carpenter who always figured this stuff out (remember he planned and designed his own room to die in) so this will be our first building project without him to tell everyone what to do.

We still don't know what will happen to Ben's wife, Sarah, but have heard the state will prosecute to the full extent of the law. She is 19, uneducated, and from a terrible background. She was negligent by being outside on cell phone with the children inside the house, but she is not abusive. She just never considered that such a thing could happen. I don't think she even understands what all of this means or how serious her punishment may be...that she will lose her children.

That's everything as I know it. Thank you for continued prayer. God is good in the worst of storms.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Indescribable


Here's the words to one of my favorite songs. Erin loves it as well and was excited to get to sing it today. It was a great song to sing overlooking the lake at the Pinehurst Marina where we had our church service. It was a timely reminder of God's greatness.


From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation's revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
You are amazing God

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
Incomparable, unchangeable
You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same
You are amazing God.
You are amazing God.

Blessings to you.

I Choose Hope


To pray means to open your hands before God. It means slowly relaxing the tension which squeezes your hands together and accepting your existence with an increasing readiness, not as a possession to defend, but as a gift to receive. Above all, prayer is a way of life which allows you to find a stillness in the midst of the world where you open your hands to God's promises and find hope for yourself, your neighbor, and your world. In prayer, you encounter God not only in the small voice and soft breeze, but also in the midst of the turmoil of the world, in the distress and joy of your neighbor, and in the loneliness of your own heart.

Henri Nouwen

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Prayer Needed

Please see Journey to Heaven for the prayer needs of my family...and please say some prayers for us....Little Sophie, Ben, Rose, Donna who is now taking on the care of a 10 month old and a 6 year old added to taking care of my mom...my niece Tina who is helping in the midst of being a mom herself to a small child, going to school, and is losing her other grandfather to cancer....my mom whose mind is fragile....Ben's wife Sarah who may or may not be in jail even now.

I just can't spill it out on page without losing myself in the storm that threatens to overtake me even now.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

D-Day


After being in DC recently I have a rekindled interest in the Holocaust and WW II. Today I met a lively, gregarious 82 year old man who fought in that war. He was upbeat and positive throughout our conversation until I asked him what he did in the service. At first he was ok..."I was a tank operator." Then he looked at me and said softly, "People have no idea what that war was like. I was there when the Battle of Normandy began and we lost 4, 000 men in one day alone."

At that point his eyes filled with tears and his voice quivered. "I still can't talk about it. I just can't."

As I stood looking into his eyes, my 38 year old tear-filled eyes that couldn't begin to fathom what his 82 year old tear-filled eyes had witnessed, I quietly said "Thank you, sir."

The total estimated human loss of life caused by World War II was roughly 72 million people, making it the deadliest and most destructive war in human history. The civilian toll was around 47 million, including 20 million deaths due to war-related famine and disease. The military toll was about 25 million with US casualties at 416,800. On D-Day, the beginning of the Battle of Normandy, the deaths on that one day is guessed to be about 5,000 (close to the count I heard today).

Tomorrow is 9/11. Please take time to say a prayer for our servicemen and women- past and present.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Girl Interrupted During Music Lesson

Wanted you to see this painting as well.

See posting Woman Holding Balance (beneath Thirsty Thursday) for the connection.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thirsty Thursday

I am thirsty for my dad's love....my dad's prayers....my dad's wisdom. This birthday was particularly hard because I wasn't prepared for the onslaught of grief that crushed me beneath it's massive weight. I was fine all week, until I left for work and it hit me that my dad hadn't called me. I never realized how special my dad made me feel. He didn't have money to shower me in gifts but the love he showered me in was so much more valuable and precious.

Some of you realize I believe in a week long birthday celebration...I just realized that I do this because of my dad. It hit me that he spent the week before my birthday so excited. I can still hear him say, "Only a week until the day you were born!" He celebrated the entire week with love. He counted down the days. He said that every Aug. 27th the last thing he thought of was the night we (twin) were born...how he had worked all day, brought his "dinner bucket" home and went to the hospital...then every morning on Aug. 28th as soon as he woke up he said a prayer of thanks for the blessing of his twins.

I cried my entire birthday...somewhat uncontrollably at times I admit...I'm crying now. I have been a daddy's girl my whole life and I just wasn't prepared for a birthday without him to be this difficult. I had no idea that he was the one who always made it so special...until now.

Words just do not express my grief. I wasn't going to write about this but finally thought that this may be the only way I can work through it. This is the hardest I have grieved since I prepared his body for the funeral home to take him away. As soon as I had him ready to go I broke and handed the torch to my sisters. I could bear no more...I couldn't watch him be put in a body bag and taken out.

This birthday brought with it a wave of grief that I know I must walk through. I know this will be a long process and that some times will be harder than others. A year of firsts ahead of me.

I am thankful for the time I had with him, but I am most thankful for the blessed assurance that I will see him again.

If you still have your dad cherish his birthday wishes, cherish his love.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Woman Holding a Balance


This was one of my favorite paintings at the art gallery in DC.... by Johannes Vermeer, a Dutchman from the 1600s.

The painting was known as Girl Weighing Pearls until it was discovered through microscopic analysis that the balance is empty. This was when the picture came to be known as the Woman Holding a Balance, an empty balance. What then was the woman weighing?

The woman stands between a depiction of the Last Judgment hung in a heavy black frame, and a table covered with jewelry representing material possessions. She is dressed in the traditional blue outfit of Mary, and she is pregnant, which suggests there is a connection with the choice and the Final Judgment depicted in the background. The empty scale stresses that she is balancing spiritual rather than material considerations. Vermeer's portrayal does not impart a sense of tension or conflict, rather the woman exudes serenity. Her self-knowledge is reflected in the mirror on the wall. Therefore, the painting suggests the importance of moderation, self-awareness, and a full understanding of the implications of a final judgment.

I noticed that the balance is level...is mine? Most times I feel as though my balance is full of the weight of material considerations. This is why looking in the mirror of our souls is so important. We need self awareness, we need a true image of the desires of our hearts so that we are not deceived. I know I need to look in a spiritual mirror and search my soul.

Let me give you a little background about the artist....poor, 14 children, born Prostestant and baptized in Reformed Church, married a Catholic girl and converted. At age 43 he "went into a frenzy" and died a day or so later. They think it was due to financial stress. His wife sold some of his work to a local baker who had bought other paintings to pay for debt. He was not known outside of his town during his life.

Maybe he painted the image he desired...someone who wasn't constantly focused on material things...Sounds like he never really found balance in his life.

Interestingly, I read Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen on the train ride to DC. It is the story of the author who went into her own frenzy when she was 18 yrs old and ended up institutionalized for several years. The connection? Well, she titled her book after a painting by Johannes Vermeers known as Girl Interrupted During Music Lesson. She saw the painting in NY when she was 17 yrs old and with a male teacher....a year before her life took a major turn.

An artist gone crazy, a young girl gone crazy...a pregnant woman in blue perfectly content. Believe I need to spend a little more time finding balance.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Still Walking


I'm still walking...I have to calculate miles. We chose to walk as much as possible while on our trip and my legs felt the burn. We couldn't walk slowly because we had so much to see and do!

I do know that the walk from Union Station to our hotel was 2.2 miles. Yes, we walked it even with our luggage. It was quite refreshing after being on a train for so many hours. (Talk about great blog material!!)

I think I've made it to church by now...I'll let you know once I tally it up. Hope you guys in blog land are still walking with me.