764. Every day holds the possibility of a miracle. ~Elizabeth David

There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
~Albert Einstein

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Okay, now let’s fast forward to the summer of 2012. Our daughter and her husband had started talking about taking their kids to Europe the next year for their annual summer vacation. Yeh, I know, lucky kids, huh?! And lo and behold, one day out of the blue, James says to me, “do you think we ought to go to Europe with them?” I was so stunned that I just sat there speechless and staring at him for a minute or two until I finally blurted out, “Are you serious? You do remember that you have to fly over the big pond to get there, right?” And he says, “Well, at least we’d all be on the same plane together if it went down.” Yeppers, that’s my James for ya. I guess a group death is better than a singular one. But just to make sure I asked him several more times if he really wanted to go, and he said yes each time.  So I called our daughter, Nikki, and the next week we began making plans and reservations for a 15 day trip to London, Edinburgh, Dublin, and Paris. But alas, one more time, another of those dratted “best laid plans of mice and men going awry” things threatened to keep the now more than 50 year old dream a reality.  It was on November 9th, 2012, less that a month after my 70th birthday that I had an ischemic stroke caused by two clots in my brain. After I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance a neurosurgeon order a cat-scan and a MRI.  When the results came back, he told my family that if the clots were not removed, I would die and that the surgery to remove the clots could end my life as well. Of course, they opted for the surgery and here I am today. The Lord guided the surgeon’s hands and blessed me with even more miracles because the only residual damage I have from the stroke is that I have a little trouble spelling a word or two every now and then . Oh well, it’s a small, small price to pay for life and limb, as it were, n’est-ce pas?! To be continued and concluded tomorrow… (2 weeks and counting)

You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. ~Psalm 77:14  ✝

**Collage by Natalie

720. O, the month of May, the merry month of may… ~Thomas Dekker

Ho! the merrie first of Maie
Brings the daunce and blossoms gaie
To make of lyfe a holiday!
~Old English saying

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Thousands of years ago winter was a time to honor death and the summer a time to honor life. In those ancient times the short days, grey skies, and cold temperatures began to wear people down and that coupled with a gradual decline in food supplies took its toll on their spirits. Indeed winter was a very difficult time for the ancients, and so the coming of summer brought them great hope. As the crops and grasslands became full of life again, the animals bred, and the warmth of the sun thawed out the earth and their spirits, they celebrated the cross-over and coming change in the human cycle that reflected the turning of the seasons. It was a time for celebrating the forces of life overcoming death, light overcoming darkness, and summer overcoming winter.

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Thus began the dancing around the May pole. A kind of maypole dance, with origins in the 18th century, began as a traditional artistic dance popular in Italy and France. Eventually, traveling troupes performed it in London theaters, thus bringing this traditional dance to larger audiences. An English teacher training school adopted the maypole dance and soon it had spread across most of central and southern England. The dance became part of the repertoire of physical education for girls and remained popular in elementary schools in both England and the US well into the 1950’s.

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I remember in elementary school making May baskets and flowers out of coloredl pieces of construction paper and crepe paper. Today May Day has many different meanings, if any, but it eventually found its place in Christianity. And though considered quaint now, in decades past, like dancing around the maypole, as the month of April rolled to an end, people begin gathering flowers and candies and goodies to put in May baskets to hang on the doors of friends, neighbors, and loved ones on May 1st. And there were even rules about the basket tradition:

1.  Giving was supposed to be anonymous. Reciprocity was not expected. One was to leave the basket on the doorknob or doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run.
2.  Children were to give to grownups, instead of the other way around. On almost every other holiday, only the child receives gifts; so they don’t get to experience the true joy of unselfish giving.

He(Jesus) told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near…” ~Luke 21:29-30   ✝

**Images via Pinterest and the Internet; collages created by Natalie

614. If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast. ~Earnest Hemingway

I love Paris every moment
Every moment of the year
I love Paris, why, oh, why do I love Paris
Because my love is there.
~Excerpted lyrics by Cole Porter

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Ooh la la! Je t’aime, Paris! It was my high school French teacher and lines like these above that began my love affair with the French language and Paris, the city of lights. Now more than half a century later, I still have to agree with Audrey Hepburn that “Paris is always a good idea” and with Earnest Hemingway that “Paris is a moveable feast.” In fact I thought it was such a good idea way back then, that when I went off to college, I decided to major in French in hopes that one day I’d be able to go there and live for awhile or for that matter maybe for the rest of my life. But alas and alack, as the poet said, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” And so they did! Before I graduated from college, I met and married my husband, a born and bred Texan who vowed he’d never leave this place, but being the young romantic that I was, I thought I could change his mind. It took awhile but eventually I did. During the summer of 2013 after we’d been married 50 years, my daughter, her husband, their three children, and James and I left Texas for a whirlwind visit to London, Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Dublin, and Paris, all places that we thoroughly enjoyed.  But go figure! James fell in love with Paris at first sight, so much so that if all goes well with my knee replacement next month, he and I are going to Paris again this coming summer. The rest of the previously mentioned crew will head to Italy while James and I stay in Paris, and then we’ll all come together in Strasburg for a 5 day Rhine River Cruise before coming home. The moral of the story: No matter how old one gets, he or she should never give up on his or her dreams, and God is always good!!! Four weeks, four days and counting…

Hold me close and hold me fast
The magic spell you cast
This is la vie en rose
~Excerpted lyrics by Guglielmi, Luis Gugliemo/Gassion, 
Edith Giovanna/David, Mack

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“You know, I sometimes think, how is anyone ever gonna come up with a book, or a painting, or a symphony, or a sculpture that can compete with a great city. You can’t. Because you look around (in Paris) and every street, every boulevard, is its own special art form… ~Quote from the movie, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

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Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. ~Proverbs 13:12  ✝

**All collages created were by Natalie from images via Pinterest