Meet Me In St. Louis Part 3 (and finally the LAST of Julia’s Birthday)

I’ll bet you all were hangin’ on the edge of your seats in anticipation of our last day in St. Louis, weren’t you?  So to recap – we had day #1 on the Delmar Loop and then day #2 on Laclede’s Landing.

So sad to leave our Hilton Hotel room!  We naturally, pushed it to the very last second and left a little AFTER check out time.  None of us wanted to get up and only ONE of us (guess who?) was responsible enough to pack.  Here’s a hint, it wasn’t ANY of the 15 year olds!  Oh and FORGET about the 28 year old.

Julia wanted to have a REAL tea party, just like in “Alice in Wonderland”!  lol  We reserved a table at the London Tea Room on Washington Ave. downtown.  It was strange to be on Washington Ave. because only a few years ago, when I was still working, this place was a slum!  Known for the prostitution and drugs.  BOY have they cleaned up!  Now, there’s a booming loft district and SO pretty.  Birthday Girl wants to live there one day.  I sincerely hope she makes enough money to live comfortably in a loft apartment 🙂

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(They decided on the “Cream Tea”, which I guess in London consists of a scone and a pot of tea?  That’s what a Cream Tea means at St. Louis’s London Tea Room, anyway)

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(Julia said she felt so sophisticated and grown up just like the REAL English people!  lol  She’d never had a scone before.  We ordered blueberry scones with “Devonshire Cream” which was TO DIE FOR!  Devonshire cream is like butter, only better.  I seriously need to figure out how to make this stuff!  Anyway, the scones were light and fluffy… NOT like the scones we’re used to.  I’d give this place 2 thumbs up for the tea and their scones 🙂

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(Julia feeling all grown up and elegant drinking her Chai Latte.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that they didn’t drink Chai Latte’s in London.  She liked the idea of the foamy milk.)

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(So Katie tells me AFTER ordering that the taste of tea makes her sick.  Here she is looking DEEP into her tea cup.  I’m not sure what she thinks is going to jump out and hurt her.  For my friends in the UK…  in our defense,  we’re REAL bonafide rednecks AND we’re coffee drinkers.  We really had no business in a London Tea Room.  lol)

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(In keeping with tradition, Hannah wouldn’t be Hannah if not causing trouble somehow!  lol  All through our little tea party, the girls spoke in their very best British accents.  Yeah, it was annoying so I kept my head down so as to not make eye contact with any of the other patrons.  When I looked up, this is what I saw staring back at me (Hannah with a fake “stache”).

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(I’m LOVING this pic of the girls walking down Washington Ave.!  They look like models to me 🙂

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(and so when it came time for the girls to take MY picture, I didn’t notice Julia walking like Derek Zoolander)

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(This is Windows On Washington, where the presidents always come to hold their campaign fundraisers while in St. Louis.  I used to deliver specialty foods here when I was working.  How’s THAT for a fun fact?)

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(The Loft Apartments where Julia swears she’ll live one day)

From Washington Ave., we drove around, stopping to take pictures of the awesome old city architecture.

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(I literally parked in the middle of the street to get this one!  lol  This is a view of the city from Market Street.  It’s a good thing it was Sunday and everyone who WAS out in the city happened to be at the Cardinals game!  Go CARDS!)

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(I’m not sure what this building is but it’s old and it’s beautiful!)

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(Just more lovely buildings 🙂

We ended up at Kiener Plaza where all St. Louisans gather before a Cardinal’s game.  Here’s where it got weird.  I began taking pictures of the girls and a lady walks up to me and asks if I want to be in the picture.  She offered to take my picture and being me, and being naive and being from the “country”, I said, “Sure!”.  Well, I discovered this woman was homeless.  Now, I love all people and the girls and I work hard to help stamp out hunger and homelessness.  We hold fundraisers and work with area churches to help these people.  BUT… I wouldn’t want one of them to hold my fancy new expensive camera!  She could have run with it.  Thank GOD she didn’t.  The girls and I took this opportunity to talk with her and learn about what’s going on in St. Louis with the homeless.  This opened the door for other homeless people to come up to us and tell their story.  It broke my heart, really.  However, it was good for the girls to learn what it was like to be homeless, straight from the horses mouth, so to speak.  I’ll tell you their stories in another blog.

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(Here’s the pic that the homeless woman took.  Notice the Gateway Arch behind the old Old Courthouse?  I love this scenery.)

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(And here’s the homeless woman who DIDN’T run off with my camera.  God Bless her!  Do you know that NONE of them asked for money?  They only wanted to tell their story to someone who would listen.  She asked me to tell her story to whoever would listen… so I certainly will do that!)

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(Homeless men sleeping in Kiener Plaza.  They weren’t bothering anyone.  They just needed a place to sleep and the shelters were completely full.  This breaks my heart but it was an opportunity to show the girls how very blessed we really are.)

Next stop:  City Garden!  Guess what?  It’s another FREE experience!  I’m so proud of the way they’re beautifying our city!  There was a time that I was ashamed to say I was from St. Louis.  NOW is not that time 🙂

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(Hannah the Ham inside the eyeball of the creepy head sculpture)

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(Julia BEFORE she fell)

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(volunteers take care of this garden)

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 The girls and Pinoccio.

(The girls and Pinocchio)

City and gardenGirls and the bunny rabbitsJulia the Birthday Girl Me at the city Garden

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And this will conclude our tour of the beautiful metropolis of St. Louis Mo 🙂  We truly had a blast.  Lot’s of bonding, fighting, posing and eating…  Ah but it’s good to be home!

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Coming to you LIVE from St. Francois County Missouri…

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BFF and I didn’t know we’d end up being amateur reporters today!  We only wanted to see PRETTY things!

Have you ever just wanted to get away from everything so that you can regroup or decompress your busy brain?  Yesterday was one of those days for me!  My bff, Beth or “Flashychick”, as you will come to know her on her new blog, decided to go for a Sunday drive and just take the day to look at the beauty that surrounds us.  We were noticing that this year, the Spring colors seem to be brighter than they’ve been in more recent years.  Why not take my fancy schmancy new camera out and learn to use it!  lol  We also wanted to unclutter our minds because we’ve been discombobulated with all this badness that’s going on in the world.

Well… where ever we are and no matter what good intentions we have, we seem to always find trouble.  In yesterday’s case, we found tragedy before we found beauty.

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I’ve never seen a house on fire in REAL life.  Not like this, anyway.  On our way to “somewhere”, we saw this tragic sight, directly on the highway!  Leave it to me to pull over and run through the field to get some shots, right?  I was like the Pied Piper because after I pulled over, other ambulance chasers (people like me) pulled over and before long, we had a whole slew of amateur reporters getting their cell phones out to take pictures.  I could tell that people WANTED to pull over but they only got the courage to actually DO it once they saw me running through the field.  lol  When I got home last night, I saw that MANY of my Facebook “friends” had seen the same thing and posted their pictures of this fire.  It’s strange to me how whenever I see something that gets my adrenaline pumping, I lose all sense of “self preservation”.  I got pretty dang close to this and now that I’m looking at the pictures, I’m realizing that there COULD have been an explosion from propane and I COULD have been blown up with the house.

Before you judge me for talking about myself…  There was nobody in the house, THANK GOD, and I did send quite a few prayers up to heaven for the owners of this house.  This truly was a sight that made me so sad.  I couldn’t help but notice the little kids playground and tree house in the back yard.  By the time the Fire Department got there, even the playground burned.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the neighbors houses caught on fire too because the houses were so close together and this fire was MASSIVE.  I’m still shocked at how long it took for the fire department to get there.

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Can you see the little swing set?  Also notice how close together the houses are.  See THIS is why I want to live far away from other houses!  I never did like the idea of a subdivision and this is why.

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Finally, the fire department showed up.  You can see the little white fire truck to the left of the RV.  They had to call for back up from neighboring towns because this little fire truck couldn’t get control of this angry fire.  On our way back through, we noticed that the other houses didn’t burn.  Again, Thank God.

It amazes me how when I begin to think I have it so bad, I’m always reminded that it could be worse.  Count your blessings, friends!  We really have SO much to be thankful for.  Knock on wood or fingers crossed, I’ve never experienced a house fire.  I couldn’t imagine losing all my memories.  Forever gone.

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And to conclude our Sunday devastation report… we bring you more flood damage!  This is the main road, in and out of, Lake Timberline – where my brother and Dad live.  The road complete washed away.  It SHOULDN’T have happened.  The “Board of Trustee’s” won’t upkeep the roads.  They keep raising assessments (money residents have to pay in order to have the “privilege” of living here) but they won’t fix the roads!  They take the money they collect from the residents and apply it to their own special interests.  Like dams for the lakes.  It seems to me that basic road upkeep is a necessity and not a “want”.  If the residents can’t get into their homes, safely, without fear of their vehicle being eaten by a huge hole in the road or without fear of the road literally washing away, I wouldn’t think it matters much about beautifying the beaches or the dams.  The board of Trustee’s say they’re going to fix this though… just as soon as they raise the assessments again.  ARGH!  And this is why I would never live inside Lake Timberline!

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But HEY!  The “Timberline Falls” are nice, right?  lol  It’s always good to end bad reporting with a pretty picture 🙂

Ana’s Story (A Journey of Hope) by Jenna Bush: A Book Review

Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope

Ana’s Story

A Journey of Hope

By Jenna Bush

Based on her work with Unicef

Harper Collins Publisher

I love buying books where a portion of the proceeds go to help a charitable organization!  I especially like it when that charitable organization is Unicef.  I’ve been helping to raise money for Unicef since I was a very little girl.  In Catholic school, we used to go around collecting money in little milk cartons.  We’d then send that money into Unicef so that they could help to feed the poor and hungry in third world countries.

Here’s the description from the book:

“She’s 17. She’s been abused.  She has a child.  And she’s HIV positive. She is Ana, and this is her story.  It begins the day she is born infected with HIV, transmitted from her young mother.  Now, she barely remembers her mama, who died when Ana was only 3.  From then on, Ana’s childhood becomes a blur of faint memories and secrets – secrets about her illness and about the abuse she endures.

Ana’s journey is a long one.  Shuffled from home to home, she rarely finds safety or love.  And then she meets a boy.  Berto is one of the only people Ana trusts with all her secrets.  That trust puts Ana on a path to breaking the silence that has harmed her and leads her to new beginnings, new sorrows, and new hope.

Jenna Bush has written a powerful narrative nonfiction account of a girl who struggles to break free from a vicious cycle of abuse, poverty, and illness.  Based on Jenna’s work with UNICEF and inspired by the framework of one girls life, it is also the story of many children around the world who are marginalized and excluded from basic care, support, and education.  Resources at the back of the book share how you can make a difference to children in need and how you can protect yourself and others”

I didn’t realize I was buying a book written for teens!  lol  BUT I’m glad I did.  Yes, it was a little simple but simple is good.  I read this one in 2 bath tub sessions:-)  What I LOVED about Ana’s Story was that it flowed easily and it was written well.  I found myself wanting to know more about Ana at the end of the book.  It ends kind of abruptly but Ana’s story had to end somewhere.  It was a TRUE story and she’s still alive.  I wonder how Ana is doing now?

This book reminded me of Half The SKY by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  I absolutely LOVE the idea of helping to empower and educate girls and women in poorer countries.  It’s my dream to be able to go to Latin America or India and help in the schools.  Or do ANYTHING that brings hope.  Jenna Bush impressed me with her compassion and her willingness to “get her hands dirty” by helping Aids patients through her work with UNICEF.  As mentioned in the description, Jenna gives websites and even phone numbers for numerous charitable organizations.  She also gives suggestions for what a teenager or an adult can do to help raise money to help several organizations.  She gives ideas for what students can do to protect themselves against the spread of Aids/HIV and ideas on how to stop bullying.

I think this one will be on Julia’s reading list soon 😉

Flooded back roads of Midwestern America

There’s SO much bad going on here in our country  Between the Boston Marathon bombings, the explosion of the West Texas fertilizer plant which blew up several residences and killed many, and now today, with the shutting down of a Boston town in order to find the people responsible for the bombings.  Wow.

Well, I won’t pretend to try to compare what’s going on HERE in my little town to ANY of the devastation in the rest of the country.  Our county has been devastated by the Spring storms yesterday.  Not at MY house but my “wayward” daughter’s town was literally evacuated yesterday and some fatalities have occurred as a result of the flash floods.  You can imagine my terror when I saw the cars floating down the street in front of where she lives.  She’s not talking to me so I couldn’t get in touch with her.  I was able to have my oldest daughter contact her and she’s FINE.  Thank GOD!  Like I said, she was evacuated and is now staying with my oldest daughter, where she’s safe.  Here’s what’s going on in the town of Desoto Missouri, where she lives.

Before I learned of the intense flash floods through out the rest of my county, my 2 daughters and I drove around in our 4 wheel drive taking pictures of the flood.  It was CRAZY how quickly these waters came up and how nobody predicted it.  We live on top of a small mountain (more of a hill) so we’re fine.  It was just hard to get around because there are so many little tributaries off of the Mississippi River.  Creeks that run into rivers.  SO much of our farm land was flooded and many homes were damaged.

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(this is the bridge below our house.  You can see the water is street level.  It hasn’t been this flooded since the flood of ’93 where the whole heartland was wiped out)

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(the farmers field below our house.)

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(Sandy Covered Bridge by my house.  You can see that the water that’s usually just a trickling stream is pretty close to the bridge)

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(My teenager looking at the flood)

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(this is really a very large rock where we sit by the creek when it’s NOT covered by water.  The water looks very angry.  Sandy Covered Bridge)

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(this is the creek below our house.  We were trying to capture how fast this water was rushing and the moving tree trunk.  My pictures really don’t do a bit of justice)

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(The debris in the creek below my house.  There’s going to be a complete mess this morning when the water goes down)

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(there goes an electric line!)

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(I was trying to show how the water is up to the bridge.. almost ready to cover the road, and later would cover the road)

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(I love this shot of the farm below my house.  The water would eventually cover his field)

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(more of the creek below my house)

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(the bridge – another one- and the waterfall)Image

(the creek now looks like a river that’s forked.  This is someone’s yard)

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(a better shot of the damage to their yard.  This is a horse pasture)

There were other towns near us that were evacuated also.  Not just my daughter’s town.  There weren’t as many deaths as their could have been and for that, I’m thankful.  I think, maybe this weekend, we’ll drive around and look for places that need help with the clean up from the flood.  It takes a while to get back to normal after a flash flood takes over property and homes.

I’m almost ashamed to admit that my daughter’s and I had a good time driving around and stopping many times, to look at the flood!  lol  Something else I realized yesterday?  Hubby needs to shell out the bucks for a lens protector for the fancy camera he bought me for Christmas!  lol  I need to be able to go out into the rain without fear of hurting my lens, right?  Isn’t that what REAL photographers do?  Sometimes, I like to pretend to be a REAL photographer 🙂

The Fairy Pools and Religious Hatred…

The Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye in Scottland

Shaun, this is the place I told you about.  Where is it in relationship to where you are?

I have a Pinterest board entitled “places I want to go one day”.  It’s kind of a “bucket list” destination or dream board.  I LOVE to travel.  It’s probably my favorite thing to do and I’ve always dreamed of going places abroad but have never been out of my country!  Well, besides Mexico.

Yesterday, I Skyped with a friend in Scotland.  It was amazing to me to be sitting on my back deck in the middle of America, listening to my birds and knowing that I was able to bring Scotland SO close to me.  My girls were laughing because of Shaun’s accent, they thought he spoke a different language!  lol  It’s strange to me that we both speak English, the King’s language, yet the dialect makes it so hard to understand.  It didn’t take me long to understand him though.  I was also impressed with how different the UK is from the USA.  The differences in religion and the extreme hatred that goes on in Western Scotland and I’m guessing in Ireland between the Catholic’s and the Protestants.  They actually KILL each other over there in the name of Religion.  THEY say in the name of God but I’m QUITE certain that God’s going to “smite” them down for killing each other in His name! For shame.  I’m Catholic, by birth, and I’m ASHAMED of the Catholic’s who would kill a Protestant in the name of our religion.

Over here, in the USA, one of the our constitutional rights is “Freedom of Religion”.  For the most part, we respect each other. Oh there’s a lot of talking behind each other’s backs.  That’s about it though.  The worst I’ve ever experienced is when I went to my husband’s family’s church in Texas.  I went to Sunday School and I was alone.  It’s a Southern Baptist Church.  The Sunday School teacher began talking about the Pope and how he’s going to go to hell and how ALL Catholic’s are probably going to go to hell.  WTF???  Don’t they know that this is the EXACT reason that people aren’t attracted to Christians?  Out of respect for my husband’s family, I didn’t create the scene I’d wanted to create.  I sat there and seethed.  Later, my husband’s family heard ALL about it.  You can trust and believe that.  Not that I was blaming them, just that I wanted them to know how wrong I felt it was for their leader to say something like he did… not to mention the “Amen’s” I heard from the rest of the Sunday school class.  “Amen’s” coming from some people I truly loved and respected.  My family told me I should have pulled the Sunday School teacher aside and tell him that I’m Catholic and didn’t appreciate what he was saying.  I SHOULD have but I knew me, and I knew that I probably would have NOT been eloquent in my speech.  I would have ripped him up, chewed him up and spit him out.  THAT wouldn’t have honored my husband’s family.  So I let it go and forgave.  Something that was difficult.

My point being that we ALL live in this world.  We’re all united in that we’re HUMAN.  It doesn’t matter what color of skin we have, if we’re male or female, it doesn’t matter what religion we are.  God made us all.  Not ONE of us is better than the other.

Now, can’t we all just get along?  Much love to all of you and have a VERY Happy Friday!

The Awakening By Sonny Carroll

I’ve said before, time and time again, there are no accidents.  One of my very best friends called this morning while I was struggling to write my story and purge my body of all these negative feelings and memories.  She wanted me to read “The Awakening” and really look at what it said.  It’s so very fitting and it amazes me that so many other people feel this way. I’m having this kind of awakening.  Right now.  Thank you Beth, for just knowing…

The Awakening
by Sonny Carroll

The Awakening
Sonny Carroll

There comes a time in your life when you finally get it … When in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out “ENOUGH! Enough fighting and crying or struggling to hold on.” And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle of wet lashes you begin to look at the world from a new perspective.

……….This is your awakening.

You realize that it is time to stop hoping and waiting for something or someone to change, or for happiness safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that there aren’t always fairytale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you. Then a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

So you begin making your way through the “reality of today” rather than holding out for the “promise of tomorrow.” You realize that much of who you are and the way you navigate through life is, in great part, a result of all the social conditioning you’ve received over the course of a lifetime. And you begin to sift through all the nonsense you were taught about :

– how you should look and how much you should weigh,
– what you should wear and where you should shop,
– where you should live or what type of car you should drive,
– who you should sleep with and how you should behave,
– who you should marry and why you should stay,
– the importance of bearing children or what you owe your family,

Slowly you begin to open up to new worlds and different points of view. And you begin re-assessing and re-defining who you are and what you really believe in. And you begin to discard the doctrines you have outgrown, or should never have practiced to begin with.

You accept the fact that you are not perfect ,and that not everyone will love appreciate or approve of who or what you are… and that’s OK… they are entitled to their own views and opinions. And, you come to terms with the fact that you will never be a size 5 or a “perfect 10″…. Or a perfect human being for that matter… and you stop trying to compete with the image inside your head or agonizing over how you compare. And, you take a long look at yourself in the mirror and you make a promise to give yourself the same unconditional love and support you give so freely to others. Then a sense of confidence is born of self-approval.

And, you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” hungry for your next fix, a new dress, another pair of shoes or looks of approval and admiration from family, friends or even strangers who pass by. Then you discover that it is truly in “giving” that we receive, and that the joy and abundance you seek grows out of the giving. And you recognize the importance of “creating” and “contributing” rather than “obtaining” and “accumulating.”

And you give thanks for the simple things you’ve been blessed with, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about – a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, the freedom of choice and the opportunity to pursue your own dreams.

And you begin to love and to care for yourself. You stop engaging in self-destructive behaviors, including participating in dysfunctional relationships. You begin eating a balanced diet, drinking more water and exercising. And because you’ve learned that fatigue drains the spirit and creates doubt and fear, you give yourself permission to rest. And just as food is fuel for the body, laughter is fuel for the spirit and so you make it a point to create time for play.

Then you learn about love and relationships – how to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving, and when to walk away. And you allow only the hands of a lover who truly loves and respects you to glorify you with his touch. You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say, intentionally or unintentionally, and that not everyone will always come through… and interestingly enough, it’s not always about you. So, you stop lashing out and pointing fingers or looking to place blame for the things that were done to you or weren’t done for you. And you learn to keep your Ego in check and to acknowledge and redirect the destructive emotions it spawns – anger, jealousy and resentment.

You learn how to say “I was wrong” and to forgive people for their own human frailties. You learn to build bridges instead of walls and about the healing power of love as it is expressed through a kind word, a warm smile or a friendly gesture. And, at the same time, you eliminate any relationships that are hurtful or fail to uplift and edify you. You stop working so hard at smoothing things over and setting your needs aside. You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK and that it is your right to want or expect certain things. And you learn the importance of communicating your needs with confidence and grace. You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that eventually martyrs are burned at the stake. Then you learn to distinguish between guilt, and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to Say NO. You learn that you don’t know all the answers, it’s not your job to save the world and that sometimes you just need to Let Go.

Moreover, you learn to look at people as they really are and not as you would want them to be, and you are careful not to project your neediness or insecurities onto a relationship. You learn that you will not be more beautiful, more intelligent, more lovable or important because of the man on your arm or the child that bears your name. You learn that just as people grow and change, so it is with love and relationships, and that that not everyone can always love you the way you would want them to. So you stop appraising your worth by the measure of love you are given. And suddenly you realize that it’s wrong to demand that someone live their life or sacrifice their dreams just to serve your needs, ease your insecurities, or meet “your” standards and expectations. You learn that the only love worth giving and receiving is the love that is given freely without conditions or limitations. And you learn what it means to love. So you stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn that “alone” does not mean “lonely” and you begin to discover the joy of spending time “with yourself” and “on yourself.” Then you discover the greatest and most fulfilling love you will ever know – Self Love. And so it comes to pass that, through understanding, your heart heals; and now all new things are possible.

Moving along, you begin to avoid Toxic people and conversations. And you stop wasting time and energy rehashing your situation with family and friends. You learn that talk doesn’t change things and that unrequited wishes can only serve to keep you trapped in the past. So you stop lamenting over what could or should have been and you make a decision to leave the past behind. Then you begin to invest your time and energy to affect positive change. You take a personal inventory of all your strengths and weaknesses and the areas you need to improve in order to move ahead, you set your goals and map out a plan of action to see things through.

You learn that life isn’t always fair and you don’t always get what you think you deserve, and you stop personalizing every loss or disappointment. You learn to accept that sometimes bad things happen to good people and that these things are not an act of God… but merely a random act of fate.

And you stop looking for guarantees, because you’ve learned that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected and that whatever happens, you’ll learn to deal with it. And you learn that the only thing you must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time – FEAR itself.  So you learn to step right into and through your fears, because to give into fear is to give away the right to live life on your terms. You learn that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophesy and you learn to go after what you want and not to squander your life living under a cloud of indecision or feelings of impending doom.

Then, YOU LEARN ABOUT MONEY… the personal power and independence it brings and the options it creates. And you recognize the necessity to create your own personal wealth. Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never ever settle for less than your heart’s desire. And a sense of power is born of self-reliance. And you live with honor and integrity because you know that these principles are not the outdated ideals of a by-gone era but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build your life. And you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting and to stay open to every wonderful opportunity and exciting possibility. Then you hang a wind chime outside your window to remind yourself what beauty there is in Simplicity.

Finally, with courage in your heart and with God by your side you take a stand, you TAKE a deep breath and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.

A word about the Power of Prayer: In some of my darkest, most painful and frightening hours, I have prayed, not for the answers to my prayers or for material things, but for my “God” to help me find the strength, confidence and courage to persevere; to face each day and to do what I must do.

Remember this:- You are an expression of the almighty. The spirit of God resides within you and moves through you. Open your heart, speak to that spirit and it will heal and empower you.
My “God” has never failed me.

Copyright © 2001 Sonny Carroll. All Rights Reserved
Reprinted here with permission

A Prologue to Love by Taylor Caldwell, a mirror into my mother’s soul…

“It is not possible for us to know each other EXCEPT as we manifest ourselves in distorted shadows to the eyes of others.  We do NOT even know ourselves; therefore, why should we judge a neighbor?  Who knows what pain is behind virtue and what fear behind vice?  No one, in short, knows what makes a man, and ONLY God knows his thoughts, his joys, his bitternesses, his agony, the injustices he commits… God is too inscrutable for our little understanding.  After sad meditation it comes to me that all that lives, whether good or in error, mournful or joyous, obscure or of gilded reputation, painful or happy, is only a prologue to love beyond the grave, where all is understood and almost all forgiven”

Seneca

How powerful these words are to me.  Seneca’s words echo in my mind, reminding me a my own mother and how it seems that she doesn’t love or feel.  What brought her to this cold place she calls her world?  I don’t know.

Even more powerful that my mother gave me this book and asked me to see the similarities between myself and the main character, Caroline Ames.  Caroline is very damaged and uncaring about anyone or anything besides her money.  She can’t even feel for her own children.  Through the entire book, which took me 2 months to get through, I was SO hurt that my mother sees me this way.  Damaged, yes I am.  Uncaring, SO far from it!  In the end, I need to recognize that my mother MUST see herself and labels me for everything in the world that she hates about herself.  So very sad.

Product Details

A Prologue to Love

By:  Taylor Caldwell

Overview

In A Prologue To Love Taylor Caldwell has written a profoundly moving novel of a woman, rich beyond imagining, whose inability to give or accept love, whose fear of poverty and hostility towards the world brings in its wake tragedy and unhappiness for almost all whose lives she touches.
Caroline Ames was detested by the father she worshipped. An unscrupulous businessman, John Ames denied Caroline not only of his love, but instilled in her a horror of poverty and a faith in the power of money which was to make her the richest woman in the world – and one of the loneliest.
Miss Caldwell writes of three generations of the Ames family with great insight and compassion. Set in and around Boston during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, she has evoked the period of the great American fortunes through the intricate pattern of a family’s destiny. And she has peopled her novel with characters of unusual depth – all of whom come under the shadow of the strange recluse, Caroline Ames, and the power of her millions.
Perhaps Miss Caldwell’s most impressive achievement in A Prologue To Love is her ability to evoke the reader’s sympathy for Caroline – why it was that she so desperately needed to amass so much money at the expense of family love and community respect, and how, in the end, she comes to realize that her father’s teachings were so wrong.
It is an inspiring story of the power of love and faith in overcoming evil.
My thoughts about the book and NOT my mother?  This book spoke to me because of my own family.  However, the theme will speak to anyone.  Don’t judge someone by outside appearances…  you don’t know what lies behind the hurt and the pain.  In the end, you understand that your entire life is a Prologue to God’s Love.  This is one of my ALL time favorites and I’m proud to recommend it to anyone.
The book was written in the early 1960’s and I believe that it’s message stands the test of time.