Savoring Lake Rabun

I know spring is here, but wanted to share this post. Early fall (and spring) can be very pleasant here in the South.  The last week of September M. and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and planned an overnight trip to nearby Lake Rabun. M. was wanting to go somewhere a little different and since we had never explored this area before we were curious to see what it had to offer.

We spent the day making impromptu detours through some of the small towns we drove past.  One stop was at this nursery.  M. loves to garden so the pretty mums and fall decor made it impossible to drive past without taking a look.

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After purchasing a cute little clay pot snowman to add to our Christmas decor, we ventured closer to our destination.

We were getting hungry and decided on a place called the Universal Joint to have lunch. It is a former gas station they converted to a restaurant.  The weather was pleasant so we chose to eat our yummy sandwich at a table outdoors.

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After a visit to an apple farm, we finally arrived at the Lake Rabun Hotel.  This charming little place is described as a “boutique” hotel. You can’t help but visually relax as you arrive.  The peace and serenity of the gardens and trees that surround you is a welcoming feeling. No televisions or telephones are in any of the cozy guest rooms.  It is a 95-year-old former mountain lodge which has been carefully restored.  Fresh baked cookies, tea, coffee, and assorted sodas are available all day. There is also a restaurant, a small bar and spa services. Local artists have paintings for sale hanging on the walls throughout the hotel. A baby grand piano graces one of the rooms and is available for anyone to tinkle the keys.

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After we checked in and were given a grand tour, we decided to go for a ride and follow the road around the lake. The hotel is snuggled in nature so lake views are limited. Driving along, we noticed trails for hiking.  We later talked with a lady who told us there was boating and swimming available as well as tent and RV camping in certain locations around the lake.

Take a look at some of the boat docks located along the shore.  I have never seen such an elaborate boat dock so I had M. pull over to the side of the road so I could snap these photos. These have lovely sun decks on top, but some we saw looked as if there was a small apartment on the top-level. (We live very close to a lake and the docks I’ve seen are nice, but nothing like these!)  The added bonus was the occasional glimpse of the magnificent homes that go with these boat docks which are nestled slightly uphill in the trees!

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When we returned to the hotel we relaxed and sipped an adult beverage on one of the rooftop decks.

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As the sun began to set, the temperature began to drop, but what an enjoyable evening! We chose to sit outside on the heated screened-in porch with other guests. Taking pictures of food and making it look appetizing is difficult for me, but this chocolate s’mores martini was such a surprise hit I had to share. (Complete with a toasted marshmallow!)  The dinner, grilled wild Alaskan salmon, was one of the best meals we had eaten anywhere, ever.  I am honestly not exaggerating!  The staff was very pleasant and made you feel welcome.

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After dinner we returned to our room. We decided to open the windows so we could enjoy the cool mountain breezes as we drifted off to sleep under warm blankets.

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The next morning we enjoyed a generous gourmet breakfast provided by the hotel. As we loaded up the car to drive home, we could not help but agree that we will be visiting this very special “boutique hotel” and the surrounding area again.

By the way, I do not receive any compensation from any of the places we visit.  I just want to share in case you are interested in a little get away too.

The Cracked Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years, this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.XGltYWdlc1xjb250ZW50XG5zanU0eXhsazJfY3JhY2tlZF9wb3QuanBnfDMwMHwxODB8My8xNi8yMDE3After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you”.  The bearer asked, “Why? What are you ashamed of?”  The Pot replied, “For these past two years I am able to deliver only half of my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you don’t get full value for your efforts”.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion, he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”  As they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it somewhat. 

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The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

(This story is reposted from:  Moral stories:  The Cracked Pot.  Images are free clip art.)

My takeaway from this story is all flaws are subjective and based on our own interpretations and perspectives. We are all cracked pots with our own unique flaws. As we age, the wrinkles or sagging skin, less mobility, the emptiness of a marriage gone stale, the children who grow up and move away, the feeling of no longer feeling needed or appreciated can contribute to the insecurities of looking at yourself as being “flawed”.

But the truth is we are all valuable in ways we can’t always see. Sometimes, it’s the “cracks,” or what we perceive as imperfections, that create something unexpected and beautiful. These “cracks” allow something to change and ultimately make the whole much richer and more interesting. Do not underestimate yourself by comparing yourself with others. It’s our differences that make us unique and precious.

Remember ~ enjoy the perfume of the flowers on your side of the path.

2018 Masters

The Masters Golf Tournament, held each year at Augusta National Golf Club, in Augusta, GA is currently the hottest ticket in town.  Getting a ticket to the actual tournament is extremely difficult and can cost $$$.  This tournament is unlike the others because the golfers are “invited” to participate. There are about 20 qualifications for invitation, such as being a former Masters champion, U.S. and British Open champions, etc. but it doesn’t guarantee these golfers will actually receive an invite.

There is a lottery held each year which gives people the opportunity to purchase tickets for the practice rounds.  We enter the lottery every year and the last time we got tickets was 15 years ago.  This year, however, we were able to get two tickets and made plans for the two and a half hour drive.

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You are not allowed to bring in cell phones or any other type of electronic device as these are prohibited at all times.  Cameras are only allowed on Practice Round days.

We arrived early on that lovely spring morning and the place was already packed with people. You are not considered a “fan” but a “patron” once you enter through the gates and therefore you are treated as a valued attendee.  In exchange for viewing one of golf’s greatest spectacles, patrons are expected to behave with the utmost dignity and act courteously to other patrons and the golfers.  No running, booing or shouting phrases like “You’re the Man!” will be tolerated and could result in dismissal.  If you are a ticket holder this privilege could be taken away for good if you are one of the violaters.

One of the first things we noticed was the line for the gift shop.  Unbelievable! I later read in the paper that it only took about 11 minutes to get in the shop and the check out system was fast and efficient. Once you got inside, as long as you weren’t claustrophobic, you could shop to your heart’s content!  As we wandered the course, we noticed a few small pop-up shops that just sold sunglasses, hats, and chairs so we jumped in these very short lines and bought M. a hat.

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The course is so lovely in the spring, and these photos just don’t do it justice.  The holes are all named after plants and are adorned with the plant for which it is named. For example, Pink Dogwood is the second hole, the eighth hole is Yellow Jasmine, and the 18th hole is Holly.  Azalea plants are everywhere on the grounds and look so pretty! I am sure these dates are the peak season for these lovely flowering plants giving the course this small window to really shine.

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12th hole.

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13th hole.

Located on the grounds are 10 cabins providing lodging for members and their guests.  The cabin on the right is the Eisenhower Cabin built in 1953 for President and Mrs. Eisenhower.  He is said to have visited this course 45 times before, during, and after his presidency.  When Eisenhower was not in residence, it was used by other members.

 

One of the most famous traditions of this tournament is the presentation of the green jacket.  Not sure who these guys are, but you have to be the creme de la creme or a member of the press to be standing in this area of the clubhouse.

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The jackets are a symbol of the club’s elitism, and of its mystique. Only members and winners of the tournament wear these jackets. A winner is only permitted to remove it from Augusta for the first year after his triumph – after that it joins the others, kept by the club, to be worn when they return. It is the Augusta National’s way of preserving its status, of ensuring that no jacket goes missing (although Gary Player made so many excuses as to why he hadn’t returned his that he was eventually allowed to keep it in his personal museum in South Africa).

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The highest of standards were evident in every aspect of this facility. The southern hospitality of the employees made you feel special and welcomed. The pine straw islands were twig and rock free; and the grass almost looked fake it was so flawless.  The efficiency of the traffic management from the restrooms to the concessions was a breeze.  The price of food was amazingly cheap.  I got an egg salad sandwich and a generous glass of lemonade for $3.50.

This is a day we won’t soon forget.

Side note: It was recently announced they are going to host the final round of the first Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship next year in the week before hosting the Masters.  In the 85 year history they have never hosted an amateur tournament. 

 

 

Savoring Sprinkle

The anticipation of waiting for the birth of a grandchild is a feeling that never gets old.

We are a blended family and we have 15 grandchildren between us so far ~ 14 of which are living here on this Earth and one we will meet in heaven some day.  We have twice as many boys as girls. M. and I have been in each others lives long enough to have welcomed 11 of these precious souls together.  It is still a thrill to welcome a new life.

It is interesting to see the changes in accessories and technology since I had babies.  For one, I never had an actual photo of any of my children while they were growing inside my womb.

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Side note: Ultra Sound was a fairly new option to determine the gender when I started having children. There was no need for me to have one when I was pregnant with my first baby.  I saw my second child, because it was offered, but I was clueless what I was looking at.  The nurse would say, “Here is a hand, here is a foot.”  I would look very hard, but it was nearly impossible for me to see. With my third child I miscarried his twin during my pregnancy.  When they showed me my son’s image on the screen to reassure me everything was okay, I could clearly see him and knew before they confirmed it that he was a boy.

One of my bonus daughters had a “sprinkle” recently.  In case you are new to this term, a sprinkle is just like a shower, but the gifts are not usually too large because you already have most of the big-ticket items from previous children.  In fact, there really isn’t much point unless you have a lot of children and really need new clothes or accessories for the newest member of the family.  Otherwise it is a nice opportunity to gather with family and friends to celebrate this exciting time of life.

 

Soft onesies, cuddly swaddling blankets, adorable outfits, and a lot of interesting small ticket items like a “Windi the gas passer” (check it out here if you are curious) were given as gifts.  Giggles and “aaah’s” were heard as each gift was opened.

 

The refreshments were light and these cute cookies were as delicious as they are adorable! Yes, she is having a boy in about 6 weeks!

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I am looking forward to meeting you in a few weeks baby Sam!!

Thursday Twist

Yes, these are petunia’s surrounded by poinsettia’s sitting in my backyard.  The red color of the poinsettia’s added such warmth to my home that I hated to move them outside.  It did get a little awkward when guests came over and commented especially now that Easter is approaching.

I removed them from their sturdier containers, but did not have the heart to throw them out.  They are so healthy and full of life.   It is also getting too warm for the petunia’s and they are not happy anymore.

The large pot will soon be moved into storage and replaced by either flowers that do well in the hot, humid south or raised containers to grow some fresh vegetables.  Goodbye winter!

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All Things New

We all have someone in our lives who is in need of healing whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual. It’s hard to watch someone we love suffer with an addiction, a disease or the consequences of a poor decision.  Perhaps this loved one has blamed God for their suffering and has turned away from their faith.  They no longer trust or believe or they feel betrayed because of their pain.  Maybe they still believe, but can’t let go of the desire to control their life, even though their life, as well as those they love, is falling apart.

They are so caught in the eye of the storm, the center of the hurricane they can’t see the ripples.

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Their spouse and children find themself at the epicenter of each and every earthquake and feel the effects the worst.

The ripple extends and reaches other loved ones – parents, siblings, and friends whose world is now trembling too. Some decide to withdraw because they feel numb, frustrated or maybe disgusted, while others decide to ride out the waves although uncertain of the result.

At first, it is not always easy to see the greater good that may come from suffering.  Job—a man who underwent immense suffering—reminds us that we may never know the reason why we suffer. Job did not understand why God had allowed the things He did, but he knew God was good and therefore continued to trust in Him.

There is a poignant scene in the movie “The Passion of the Christ” that stands out to me. The bloodied, broken Jesus fell under the weight of the cross he was carrying.  There are flashbacks of the early days of her son falling as a toddler while his mother, Mary, rushes to him frantically whispering, “I’m here!”

The words “I’m here!” is put into action when our loved ones are suffering.  We push the pause button in our own lives. We give them our love and our time. (“I’m here!”) We take over duties and hope that this makes things easier. (“I’m here!”) We talk to them, encourage them, and love them even more. (“I’m here!”) We try to be brave even though we are scared to death. We assume new roles, and wish we didn’t have to. (I’m here!) We are their voice in prayer when they can longer find the desire or the words to pray themselves. (“I’m here!”) We cry in private, we pray without ceasing even though we can’t understand why God doesn’t just heal the situation – just make it go away – just let life be normal again.

Sometimes it is hard for us to trust.

Later, an eyewitness to the crucifixion (the apostle John), included this telling detail in his account: During the ordeal, Mary was standing “by the torture stake of Jesus.” Nothing could prevent that loyal, loving mother from standing by her son to the very last. We, like Mary, stand by our loved ones.

The final shot of that scene (when Mary gets to Jesus after his fall) is we see the image of her son – disfigured and swollen. He looks her in the eye and stammers, “See, Mother, I make all things new.”

These words give hope.  The bloody mangled body of Jesus who suffered unimaginable pain and suffering was made new again. Our own lives were made new again by the ultimate sacrifice of our savior.

These words give hope that our loved ones will emerge with a determination to make a fresh start and the courage to face their trials. A desire to maintain this new life, this new resurrection.  That their lives will be a reflection of the words of Jesus in that movie “I make all things new.”

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

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