Shirley is the proud mother of two beautiful young ladies. She enjoys spending time with them on their ranch in the deep South with their three paint horses. Always looking for an adventure, she looks forward to hikes in the mountains chasing waterfalls, or scouring the coast for beautiful lighthouses! Shirley writes to encourage others and often times shares things that motivate and inspire her. She believes in living life to the fullest because no one is promised the gift of another day. Join her as we honor our bodies, minds, hearts, souls, and our Almighty Creator, God above!
Imagine the “lounge” having cobblestone streets like those in historic downtown Charleston, South Carolina. When you least expected it, The Mad Lurker would slowly crawl out of the cracks and crevices with his shenanigans. Tiptoeing into each “room” of our online oasis, he would survey the conversation, and then BAM … insert a comment immediately resulting in chaos amongst the moderators! Before long, all of the little village people joined in, and we were hooting and hollering.
Those were the good ole days!
Stepping out into the daylight, he removed the shiny armor that protected him so well, placing it on the ground. Picking up the cape with TML embossed on it, he placed it over his shoulders and stood with his feet shoulder length apart, hands fully on his hips, and a black masquerade mask over his eyes.
Who was that masked man?
Ah … Sir Shyknight, of course! For, he had taken on another persona in The Mad Lurker. We always knew he had it in him. His playful nature was allowed to come forth once he cast his inhibitions aside.
And, if I may, I’d like to go back to the alarming phone call at my place of work all those years ago. Fogel placed the initial call, and maybe my memory wanted to remember it as Shyknight. Maybe the softspoken Southern Belle wanted it to be him on the other end of the line, thus the way my memory played tricks on me as I began to write. But alas, I, too, took on another persona as I slipped out of my Antebellem dress, and placed my lace hankie on the dresser. I stepped out into my boldness and became a warrioress.
As the gathering of online friends continued nightly, we found ourselves not caring what anyone outside of our group thought. When once we were uncomfortable in real life around certain people, we now had our own group of friends who became more like family. Weeks turned into months and months into years. We knew without a doubt the loyalty of this group of friends.
Back to our online forum aka “lounge” days.
Sir Shyknight and his friend, Fogel, finally felt comfortable enough in the group to move into private conversations. Shyknight was only lurking in the lounge due to Fogel insisting he take a look around. Fogel was, indeed, the more outspoken one, but these two together were a force to be reckoned with. While they had their playful and silly side (as I recall a certain gentleman writing that he was dancing around his office chair, which made me giggle), they each had hearts as big as the universe!
Now, remember early on I thought I had chosen a screen name no one would recognize and thought surely no one would be able to find me. Imagine the shock I had the morning I picked up the telephone at work and heard the caller on the other end speak my name. The accent was strong, and I knew immediately this was not someone from the deep South such as myself. Intrigued by the northern accent and soft yet manly voice that was speaking to me in such a familiar way, imagine my shock and dismay when he announced he was none other than Shyknight!
How was this possible?
Frozen right where I sat, I struggled with my words.
How did he find me?
He began to speak of the subtle clues I had given him at first, and then more telling details, which unknowingly to me, allowed him to track me down. Without telling him the name of my employer during our conversations, I soon learned there weren’t many bridge companies in the south!
Ah, to be young and naive. Meanwhile, Shyknight turned out not to be quite as shy as even HE had thought, for he reached out to me!
He soon calmed my fears and let me know he was not a threat to us. Whew! I remember a wave of relief washing over me as he warned of the dangers of the online world while we were speaking on the phone. The thought brings a smile to this very day. A “stranger” I met online was warning me of the dangers of giving too many details to strangers online that might lead to them finding me in real life! EEK!!
These two were not a threat at all but were, instead, bright lights piercing the darkness. Having learned of my whereabouts, I soon learned why they tracked me down. They were behind every care package that arrived for my daughter and me during the early years. Such thought was put into every package, and I have no doubt it was sealed with love each time. From macaroni and cheese to stuffed animals, they chose items for my young daughter to surprise her and added treats for me that warmed my heart. What a blessing it was to receive the boxes full of goodies. No one had ever done anything like that for us before.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Everyone has their own beliefs about meeting people on the internet. We’ve heard horror stories of kidnappings and serial killers. We were told of the pure evilness of the internet as if the devil himself orchestrated it. Now it was invading every household. With that in mind, I was certain to disguise myself behind a screen name that gave off little information about myself. Besides, it wasn’t just myself I had to think about here, for I had a toddler to protect!
I wasn’t as creative as this mysterious Shyknight character. I was just an ordinary girl stepping out into the vast unknown of the world wide web. SHB01 was what I came up with, which was later turned into Shooby by adoring fans. Ha! My “friends in the box” teased me with that nickname after we all became familiar with each other and comfortable enough to poke fun. Yes, even Sir Shyknight, who we later learned had a tendency to be a prankster.
Ah, but in those early days, we were all just putting ourselves out there little by little, wondering if we would be accepted. We came, just as we were from different walks of life, and surprisingly, we were welcomed with open arms. One by one, friendships were formed just by a couple of strangers sharing their heartache and pain, mixed with laughter along the way. Stories were shared of real-life struggles we were facing. Surprisingly to me, others were in deeper turmoil than I. They, too, were in need of support and found it harder as adults to make new friends. So, we sat at our computers, staring at the screen. Scrolling through the topics, we read pieces that allowed a glimpse into that person’s life. Often times we would take our conversations out of the public arena and into private emails or chats. We shared with complete honesty and transparency our innermost thoughts and feelings without holding back. That’s one thing about the internet. Because you don’t walk alongside them daily in real life, you feel free to bare your soul. You do so without hesitation or fear. You feel safe as you forge ahead. In doing so, true friendships were made. My new friends made me forget the ugliness that was going on around me. Through their acceptance, compassion, support, and encouragement, they restored my faith in humanity.
It became a nightly ritual for me. After reading my daughter’s favorite book to her, she would put her tiny hands together to pray. As she closed her eyes, the longest blonde eyelashes touched her cheeks. With her favorite blanket and her
pink “Love Me” bear by her side, I tucked her into bed. I kissed her on the forehead as she drifted off to dreamland. I sat watching my little angel sleep for a while. She was so peaceful. I stroked her hair as I admired this beautiful gift God has given me. I have always felt so completely blessed to be her mother. Not wishing to wake her, I would quietly sneak out of her room into the next. As I turned on the computer, I looked forward to sharing a few hours with my online friends.
I sat there staring at the screen. An interesting individual appeared in our online community. Not only did this brave man have an intriguing name, but he wanted a topic that, typically, only women seem concerned with: romance.
His name almost jumped off the screen at me. I envisioned him standing tall with his shiny metal armor on, shield in place, sword drawn, ready to defend our honor. A knight in shining armor flung the door wide open and stood confidently in the doorway.
My imagination started to run wild. As I type these words, the movie “A Knight’s Tale” comes to mind.
Ah, but he’s a shy one. Well, we shall see if we can drawn him into our conversation on the topic at hand. Romance … and so we dove head first into the topic.
When my marriage ended in divorce well over 20 years ago and my young daughter visited her dad on the weekends, I had way too much time on my hands. I occupied myself by climbing on a blue lawn mower, which was more like a tank, and cutting six acres of grass Friday evening and into the majority of Saturday. I placed the headphones over my ears and turned up the volume in an attempt to silence my deafening thoughts. When the sun faded into the horizon I was forced to put the mower away and walk inside the empty house alone.
Friends were few and far between at that point. They became distant when I needed them the most. I’m sure it was a mixture of them not knowing what to say and others just not wanting to get involved. Regardless of the reason they pulled away, I was alone every other weekend. I found when most everyone looked forward to the weekends, I dreaded every other weekend when my daughter would be away. I yearned for the days when our little white house in the country was filled with laughter and a whole lot of love. It would be again come Sunday night when my beautiful blonde hair, blue-eyed girl with a smile that would light up the entire universe walked back into the door! While I waited, I could either let the darkness outside and in my life consume me, or I could find another outlet.
One evening, desperate for companionship, I wandered into a forum I had seen advertised on a television network for women. I didn’t know what to expect when I joined in on the conversation, but I was pleasantly surprised to find not only women but a few brave men among the group. They were all so welcoming and supportive. Serious topics were discussed in that forum, and these precious people soon became my closest friends. One dear lady with a son around my daughter’s age said her son described us as her “friends in the box.”
Oh, I thank GOD for my friends in the box!
I still dreaded every other weekend when my daughter had to go, but when the sun went down, my broken and wounded soul found comfort with people I had never even laid eyes on. I no longer had to feel alone for they were right there with me any time I logged in.
There is something unique about “meeting” people online. Because they don’t walk beside you in your “real” everyday life, you find yourself more comfortable sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with them. They confide in you as well, and the strongest bonds begin to form. You feel as if you have finally found a connection with people who truly understand and care for you. They become your tribe, your support system, and your friends for life!
This morning I downloaded Joyce Meyer Ministries from the App Store and began listening while I entered invoices into our accounting software system at work. I have always enjoyed Joyce and found her preaching to be right on the mark. (Others may not agree, but my blog is not the place for a debate. If you aren’t a fan of Joyce Meyer, you are welcome to move right along to another site.)
Today’s message was Part 1 of Loving Difficult People. We all have difficult people in our lives we are forced to deal with, whether it’s an irritating coworker or someone known for smarting off at you every chance they get. We can leave our place of employment or attempt to avoid the offender at all cost but there is no getting away from difficult people as we will continue to encounter them all throughout our lives. The challenge here is to LOVE them even while they are being difficult. Whew. This is not a small task at times, is it?
Here’s a thought – maybe WE are even someone else’s “difficult person.” How’s that for taking a step back and locking eyes with the person in the mirror. Hmmm. It gives us something to think about, doesn’t it?
The thing is to love the person, even when they are being difficult or hard to get along with. Maybe give yourself some time to analyze why they are being difficult in certain situations. While we can’t read someone else’s mind and know their heart, we can try to put ourselves in their shoes from time to time.
Something Joyce said this morning in her message moved me to jot it down on my yellow legal pad I keep on my desk for notes.
“You can feel like doing the wrong thing and still choose to do the right thing.” Joyce Meyer
Let’s be honest. When someone cuts you off in traffic, there are times you might want to give them the one finger wave when they look back in the rearview mirror at you. We have all felt rage well up inside of us, but we can choose NOT to let it take charge. Because we are human, we want to get back at them, but because we are Christians, we are to love them even when they do such things to us. You have free will, so of course you could rage at them. However, it takes a much stronger person to choose to extend grace to them.
We truly don’t know what people are going through in their lives to know why they act the way they do. Some may have just had a hard day at work or maybe even received bad news. Maybe they aren’t really thinking of cutting you off at all. They could just be in their own heads due to the information they learned through a disturbing phone call and the vehicle moves over into your lane giving the appearance of just down right being ugly to you when that wasn’t their intent at all.
It’s so easy to jump to conclusions on why this person was being difficult with you. It is much harder to extend grace and act in love. The choice is yours, and doing the right thing will leave you feeling wonderful in the end.
Think about this the next time you want to have a knee jerk reaction.
My beautiful friend, Anita, has inspired me to join her “Write 28 Days” challenge. It is extremely beneficial to take time for yourself and rewarding when you have a sense of accomplishment after having done something you have a passion for. If writing is your thing, we encourage you to join in!
If your first thought upon seeing the word “TEXT” is that of a teenager sitting in the family room on their phone while the adults are deep in conversation, think again! Allow me to tell you about the new hip “TEXT” which is short for:
T-alk to God
E-ncounter God and humanity in Scripture
eX-amine your heart
T-alk to others
Ah, now we’re talking, and we’ll be getting down with the B-I-B-L-E! Yea, that’s the book for me … and you .. and every believer … whether you’re a student, young adult, or new in your walk with the Lord. Honestly, any experience-level reader will want to use this new TEXT Bible every day as it encourages you to keep the four-step TEXT study method in mind.
Much to my surprise, my husband was the first to pick up the TEXT Bible and start going through it as he exclaimed, “Wow … cool!”
Within this book, you will find answers to big life questions, and there are close to 100 short devotions regarding the person and character of God. If you struggle while reading the Scriptures, there are brief explanations of people and events found within to help you better understand. Brief definitions can be found of important words that will help give a better understanding so we can discuss Scriptures with others. A feature I especially love is the ability to navigate the Bible across various topics.
Prayer is something I wanted to touch on as well, as often new believers find it hard to form the “right” words when they go to the Lord in prayer. While there is no right or wrong way to pray, the TEXT may help you be able to pray God’s words right back to Him. If we tuck His word away in our hearts, no one will ever be able to take that from us. What’s more, we will be able to claim these things as we begin our prayer to God. “By YOUR stripes we are healed, Lord …” you might exclaim as you are praying over a sick or wounded loved one. That is just one example that came immediately to mind.
The TEXT is specifically for anyone interested in becoming confident in engaging Scripture, as it connects Scripture to all of life. Michael and Hayley DiMarco have done an excellent job as general editors, with this being their third Bible project.
With the TEXT, you don’t feel talked down to at all, but instead, it teaches who God is and how to engage with Scripture. Most importantly, it equips you by teaching you how to have a personal relationship with God.
As we prepare for Valentine’s Day next month, we have a deal for you! If you order before Valentine’s Day, you will get 50% off your copy of The NET TEXT Bible! Visit the website to learn more. We encourage you to have a closer walk with the Lord in this new year, and what better way than diving into His word and drawing nearer to Him as you continue your relationship with Him?
Disclosure: Many thanks to Harper Collins Christian Publishing for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.
This holiday season we were purposeful in our planning. We contemplated what to give our parents, then decided the gift of time together was more valuable than anything else in this world. With that in mind, we planned an overnight trip with them but packed as much as we all could stand during those 48 hours! We ended up having such a great time together that we’re looking forward to our next trip!
We started out Saturday morning around 9 a.m. and ventured into North Carolina to the Billy Graham Library. My parents had seen the library on television but had never been in person. My dad’s face lit up when he saw the cross on the side of the library as we entered the parking lot.
It takes about two hours to tour the library, and you will not want to rush as you go through the informative exhibits. Beginning with Bessie, the cow, you will learn tidbits of information you wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t taken the time to stop and allow yourself to enjoy the total experience.
My husband and I toured once before, but we learned a little more the second time we visited. My parents seemed to enjoy the new information they learned about Evangelist Billy Graham. My dad was moved to tears as we went through the library.
At the end of the tour, there is an invitation and opportunity to make a decision to follow Christ. If you need to recommit your life, you can do that as well. They have people to assist you with any questions at the end of the tour, and they will pray with you as you commit or recommit your life to Christ. That is priceless! As a matter of fact, there is no charge to tour the library, as the attendant told us Billy Graham did not want money to stand in the way of anyone coming to learn about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Touring the house, gardens, and library are absolutely free, and you are given the gift of eternal life through Jesus if you only believe, confess with your mouth, and accept Christ into your heart.
After touring the library, we moved to the childhood home of Billy Graham. The home was moved to where it presently sits out in front of the library. Around the side of the silo is the garden path which takes you to where Billy and Ruth Graham are buried on the property. We did not take my parents to the Graham’s final resting place due to the bitter cold that day, however. By the time we finished touring the library, we had enough time to drive an hour and a half further to check into our hotel and freshen up for the evening’s adventure to Korner’s Folly.
Carolers dressed in period clothing welcomed us on the porch of this unique home. I have to admit this was a really nice touch, and I was so looking forward to this part in particular. I wanted us to fully be emerged in the spirit of the holiday on our Christmas adventure, and we were not disappointed.
Once we stepped inside, we knew this house was unlike anything we have ever toured before. The house consisted of 22 rooms filled with the original furnishings and artwork complete with cast-plaster details, elaborate tile, which was hand laid, and carved woodwork. Built in 1880, Korner’s Folly was the home of mastermind Jule Gilmer Korner, an artist and designer.
I felt like a child as I went from room to room admiring all of the spectacular Christmas decorations. The sparkling and shining decorations were different in every room, and you could vote on the theme you liked best at the end of the night. It was truly hard to pick just “one” favorite, as they all stood out in their own Winter Wonderland way. From Snowmen to Nut Crackers and everything in between, there was something waiting to bring a smile to your face in every room you stepped into. As if the decorations weren’t enough, each room was unique in size and shape. For instance, when my dad entered the children’s playrooms upstairs, he had to duck way down to avoid hitting his head. Meanwhile, my mother and I, (5′ tall and 4′ 11″ tall), walked comfortably into the playrooms and began admiring all the toys from years gone by. This made us all laugh, and then it was on to the next room to find plenty more that made our eyes widen with excitement. Seeing my dad turning sideways squeezing through a narrow hallway and my husband going down an even more narrow flight of stairs where he had to draw his arms close to his side made us laugh almost hysterically. Oh, the wonder that was Korner’s Folly!!
As you can imagine, we worked up quite an appetite with all the touring that day, so we stopped for supper before heading back to our hotel to retire for the evening.
We rose early the next morning and had a hot made-to-order breakfast before setting off to explore the Reynolda House. Sticking with the sights and sounds of the holiday season, we were enticed by the “Comfort and Joy” theme they had going on that day. But first … Mast General Store was calling our name. There, we found items from our childhood that brought a smile, such as moon pies and RC Colas, candy cigarettes, and little bottles made of wax filled with flavored liquid. We took our time in that store thoroughly examining little blasts from the past to more modern merchandise. There was something in that store for everyone!
After cracking open the candy we purchased at the store, we headed to the Reynolda House. The cold Winter wind felt as if it were slicing right through our jackets as we exited our vehicle and walked toward the entrance where we waited outside for the doors to open. We welcomed the warmth of the sun as we waited. Much to our surprise, quite a large crowd grew before they opened the doors at 1:30 p.m. that Sunday. Once the doors were opened, it didn’t take us long to get through the line for tickets and on to the self-guided tour of the home. We were there the Sunday before Christmas when they had a live performance of Reynolda’s original 1917 Aeolian Organ! What a treat to have beautiful holiday songs from the first half of the 20th century playing from this grand instrument as we toured the museum.
This house, now a museum, made us think of The Biltmore Estates, but of course on a much smaller level. They had no need to leave the estate for entertainment as they had room for roller skating in the basement. What’s more, they had a bowling alley, a shooting range, a racketball court, a wine cellar, a bar, and an indoor swimming pool. What more could you possibly need?
While my husband and I took the stairs to the top floor, my parents used the elevator. Yes … they had an elevator in the house! Something that also surprised us was the history of the family that occupied the home, none other than R.J. and Katharine Reynolds and their four children. Reynolda was the vision of Katharine, and so she hired Architect Charles Barton Keen to design her dream house, and construction began in 1912. The formal gardens were originally laid out as part of the general site plan by Horatio R. Buckenham and Louis Miller and later replaced with Thomas Sears. Due to the frigid cold, we were not able to fully enjoy the grounds and outdoor space. However, we would like to return in Spring to see it in all of its glory when the gardens come to life yet again.
After touring the house, we stopped for a nice late lunch and then started the over three-hour drive back home. The long drive allowed for deep, meaningful conversation. Connecting and making memories was honestly what this trip was all about anyway. Time with family is the absolute most important thing, and it makes it even more special during the holiday season. We look forward to more opportunities to make memories in the new year!
Ten days before Christmas we learned of another star that has taken his life. Twenty-four hours prior, there was a video posted of him dancing, smiling, and playing around. No one knew the feelings he was hiding, and no one knew that the next day he would walk down the street and take his own life at a hotel.
Ten days before Christmas and another family is shattered. They have been tossed into a whirlwind of grief like none other. They struggle to breathe from one minute to the next, unsure how air will force itself into and out of their lungs. They can’t think straight, a million different questions are swirling in their minds all while they are screaming WHY???? Why did this happen?
Ten days before Christmas they are guiltridden. They are filled with unimaginable guilt – survivor’s guilt – because they did not see or recognize the signs if there were any prior to this act. They curl up in a sobbing heap on the floor crying out with everything in them because the pain is too great.
Ten days before Christmas people are struggling in their own way each tormented with things that they don’t speak of to others.
My sister’s birthday was Tuesday, December 13th. I thought of her that day, as I always do, and what should have been. She should have been here with me celebrating her turning 54 years old. Suicide took her away from me. Postpartum depression clouded her view, and she was unable to see the love we all have for her and how we would have done anything to save her!
There was no celebrating on her birthday. There was great sadness that filled us like waves crashing onto the shore overtaking the little toddler that struggles to remain standing against the force of the ocean. The grief finally takes us down once again, just like the waves that knock the toddler into the unforgiving sand on the beach. He cries out, gasping for air, trying with all of his might to recover. We are different, yet the same.
A widow lies crying in the darkness of night as she just lost her beloved husband of 60 years to dementia a month ago. She was his beloved caregiver, and she did everything in her power to make his last days as comfortable as possible. She would climb in the bed with him and hold him as he cried wishing he had more time with his bride. She watched him slowly slip away from this life and into the next. Her grief is still fresh and raw. She struggles with her first of many holidays without the love of her life by her side.
Another woman lies crying in a heap on the floor because her husband doesn’t show he loves her. He says it, sure. But his actions do NOT line up with his words whatsoever. She cries out in her grief and pain over what should be a love-filled marriage, and yet, she knows she will not truly ever FEEL his love because he withholds it. He knows HOW to show her that he loves her, yet he refuses and she has to accept that she will not feel loved in this marriage. It’s a choice HE makes, treating others better than his own wife that he yells at when she shows her emotions and begs for him to throw a crumb of love and affection her way.
We are different, yet the same in our grief.
People are HURTING, and it is up to US to show them that they matter! It’s up to US to be kinder to others, to go the extra mile when others won’t. We have the power to change a person’s life just by being KIND to them and LOVING toward them. Don’t just say the words – SHOW IT!!! Show people that you love them and care for them. Show people that they matter.
Be there – in every way possible – whatever the need. Let people know that they are NOT ALONE! They feel alone, they hurt so deep within the core of their being, and they FEEL alone. Their feelings are their reality. They HURT … and we can help them if we just TRY!
People need to know that they matter. Come alongside someone and truly show them! Put your arms around them, embrace them, and draw them into you for a hug. A true heartfelt hug has the ability to heal hurts that are hidden deep within people.
There are people that never speak of things that haunt them daily. They suffer in silence, never letting those words pass their lips. The pain is too great to pull the scab back and expose it. It hurt too much when it happened, they can’t risk opening the wound back up again by talking about it, so they tuck their hurt and pain inside. Maybe they encountered a heartless soul that would not help them but yet shamed them for their feelings. Maybe they were told to suck it up, as if things that bothered them “shouldn’t.” Or maybe they were told things like “I don’t know why you feel that way.” BECAUSE THAT IS THEIR REALITY!!! If you have the ability to CHANGE that for someone – DO IT!!!!
Why is it so easy to be hateful and mean to people instead of wrapping their hurting hearts and souls in LOVE?! WHY do we have people that kill themselves? Because the pain they feel is so soul-crushing deep, so convincing, and they feel no one understands them or that ONE person that can make all the difference in the world CHOOSES NOT TO …
They hurt … and they just want the hurt and pain to end.
But that’s the thing. The hurt and pain do NOT end there. Instead, it is transferred over to the family members that are left behind. The pain never “goes away.” It is just heaped on top of other unsuspecting individuals who never saw it coming.
They are hit in the face by a plane that fell out of the sky from nowhere. They are leveled by the skyscrapers in New York City that come slamming down on their shoulders now.
Ten days before Christmas, this is our wake-up call. You could possibly save someone’s life just by being kind and showing love. None of us know what the person standing next to us is dealing with. Maybe they appear to be so happy and are smiling all the time, dancing around, JUST LIKE THIS STAR THAT KILLED HIMSELF!
Instead of withholding love from the lady that is begging and crying out in her overwhelming sorrow, you could change her entire world by giving the love you KNOW you have within you. Why do you “play nice” with everyone else – your acquaintances or coworkers? Why do you treat THEM better than you do your own spouse? Because you can get away with it? Because you like having “control” and “withholding” … because you “can”?
Don’t be the reason someone feels so beat down by this world and by someone living in their own homes to where they would even breathe the words, “I know why people kill themselves …” Even if that person would never act upon it, they are expressing the deep hurt, pain, and sorrow felt that would lead someone to end their own suffering.
Be the change. SHOW LOVE. BE KIND! Everyone is struggling. Don’t be the reason someone feels there is no good left in the world, instead show them love and be the reason they decide to stay …
This holiday season, we hope you’re taking time to enjoy the simple things in life. The Christmas lights are one of those simple things that provide joy and happiness during the holiday season for our family. We tried last year to get tickets to Brookgreen Gardens in Murrels Inlet, but the event was sold out. Therefore, it became my mission to start early this year to snag tickets.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving was marked on all of our calendars.
Night of a Thousand Candles
And … it did NOT disappoint!
Our youngest daughter accompanied us on this exciting adventure! We began our two-and-a-half-hour journey early in the afternoon to arrive shortly before the sun began to set as we wished to enjoy the grounds before nightfall. Then, as daylight slipped away, we found ourselves immersed in twinkling lights, candles galore, and the most beautiful displays of trains and vintage toys from years gone by. While we were taking a stroll down memory lane amongst the familiar toys of our youth, our daughter looked on astonished at the “antiques” making us feel old as dirt!
As we made our way through the lushly landscaped gardens among the statues and fountains were three trees strung with Christmas lights. We all gathered in front of the makeshift stage singing Christmas carols, then counted down for the three trees to be lit signifying the beginning of the Christmas season.
With a flip of the switch, things seem to change inside of us as well. The twinkling lights united us all as we stood in that moment in time.
The beloved Christmas carol I Heard The Bells was written out of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s intense grief after his once idyllic life was shattered by a series of tragedies. The popular poet, whose words helped people far and wide including soldiers on the battlefield as the nation was divided by the Civil War, found his voice silenced after tragedy struck his family. With intense grief that swept over him and his own family torn apart, Henry lost his poetic voice, and the world grew dark, cold, and bleak.
Having loved the song for years, especially after hearing Casting Crowns’ powerful version, this movie allowed a look into the series of events that transpired in Henry’s life which made him put down his pen. I struggled to fight back the tears as I watched tragedy unfold and the heart wrenching agony he experienced to which he exclaimed, “I will never write again!” Grief stricken and completely broken, he lost the will to write and once felt as if God equipped him as a poet yet took his poetry from him!
Even still …
It’s the sounds on Christmas morning from the church bells ringing their glorious tune that re-ignites the flames within him. With his rage all but consuming him from within, he feels no peace on Earth and bows his head.
With resounding hope and his rekindled faith, Henry returned to his writing desk after two years and penned the words to this powerful song.
This inspiring movie, based on the true life events of the famous poet, will only be in theaters December 1, December 3, and December 4, 2022. Don’t miss your opportunity to watch this movie come to life on the big screen. Get your tickets today for I Heard The Bells.