Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas!

The First Church

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace"
Isaiah 9:6

On this Christmas morning, we remember the First Church, where a tiny baby who would change everything laid in a manger.  The shepherds came, the wise men came, and we come and welcome Him into our hearts on this special day.

Oh Come all ye faithful, Joyful and Triumphant!
Oh come let us adore Him,
Christ, The Lord.

Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 21, 2020

The Painted Churches of Texas

St. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church
Dubina, Texas

Each year I sketch a favorite church from our travels for our annual Christmas Card.  But, like most of you, travel plans this year were cancelled or postponed.  We were excited to go with 4 other couples on a Viking River Cruise in France to celebrate my husbands retirement.  But that didn't happen.
With time at home, I read more and sketched more, in particular I enjoyed (and still am) James Micheners book about Texas.  All 1400 pages!  Having not grown up in Texas, and really not traveled much in my home state, I was intrigued!   

This prompted a day-trip in late September, on a beautiful fall day, to Schulenburg and the surrounding areas to see the famous "Painted Churches of Texas."  There are about 20 of these churches scattered throughout Texas, with six found in this area.  Settled by Czech and German immigrants in the late 1800's, the church was the center of their communities.  They built beautiful tall steepled churches, like this one in Dubina, but the true beauty lies within.  The colorful murals and decor will surprise you and leave you in awe.  Each one beautiful, but unique in its own way.  Sometimes painted by local members of the church, others painted by itinerant artists, who just happened to be passing through the area.  

This has been quite a year... for me, a time for more reflection on the busy life I was living.  I have missed some things, but like these churches, I appreciate the simplicity of the outward appearances, and have learned to value the beauty within.  

"but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God."
1 Peter 3:4

Thursday, December 17, 2020


 St. Mark's Mission
Nenana, Alaska

Last year my husband I enjoyed a "bucket list" trip... an Alaskan Cruise with a land excursion to Denali National Park.  I read Michener's "Alaska" (all 1156 pages!) in preparation and loved knowing the history and background behind the areas we were going to visit.  

As with most trips, I had my eye out for THE church that will be sketched for the Christmas Card.   I did my homework and was prepared to choose the historical St. Michaels Cathedral in Sitka.  I took a zillion photo's from every angle.  Done!  Then, about a week later, while on the land excursion we literally made a "pit stop" in Nenana and across the little road from the rest area / gift shop I saw this log cabin church and it captured my heart.  

The moral of the story... our days and weeks can be planned and scheduled, but it's the unexpected joys that fill my heart and create the lasting memories.   With just a week left before Christmas... slow down and open your eyes to the unexpected joy surrounding you!

A little more about this church:
The St Marks Episcopal Church was established in 1907 serving the native population.  It was a mission, a schoolhouse, a hospital and church.  Due to river erosion and a new Railroad, it was moved to its present location in 1955. 

Monday, December 14, 2020

St. Peters Cathedral Square

St. Peters Cathedral Square

Salzburg, Austria 

Talk about a room with a view!!

This sketch is from the window in the catacombs built where a monastery thrived in the 7th Century.  We climbed the old stone stairway to the third floor where several rooms had been carved out of the mountain for the monks to live and worship.  Oh, if walls could talk!  

I try to imagine what it would have been like to live then, in the early days of Christianity.  Obviously, at that time, the view from this spot would have been the small village of Salzburg, life would have been much simpler and slower.  But for the monks that lived there, their faith was everything!  Their hope for the future and all that would life would bring.  The same remains true for us today.  

It's our commitment to our faith, that gives us hope for the future.   

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Mission San Jose del Cabo Catholic Church

Mission San Jose del Cabo Catholic Church

San Jose del Cabo, Mexico 

Cabo San Jose is a special place for my husband and me!  It's just 30 miles north of Cabo San Lucas, and much quieter and laid back.  We went there on our honeymoon in 2006 and have returned almost every year since.  Mostly we relax, read books and play a lot of backgammon!  A short walk from our hotel is the town square, always bustling with activity.

This church dominates the town square, where on Thursday nights in the summer you can stroll their "art walk" with the works of local artisians!   The Mission San Jose del Cabo Anuiti church was first established in 1730 and prospered as the anchor of the community for many years, but primarily due to "acts of God", hurricanes, and even a mosquito infestation it moved it's location four times, finally resting here on this spot across from the Plaza Mijares in 1932.  

I think our lives can be like that too!  The "acts of God" can detour our best laid plans, but somehow with His help and hearts of faith we land on our feet and we don't just survive, we can thrive and life often turns out better than what we ever imagined!  

Monday, December 7, 2020

Cologne Cathedral

 Cologne Cathedral

Cologne, Germany

In May of 2017 we enjoyed two amazing weeks on a Viking River Cruise traveling from Amsterdam to Budapest... a trip of a lifetime.  Seeing countless Cathedrals and Castles along the way, this was one of my favorites.  It was not until I got back home and did a little research that I really appreciated it's history.  Construction began in 1248, but was halted in 1560...   that's 312 years!  Take that in!  Work began again in the 1840's and completed a short 40 years later in 1880.  Oh, if walls could talk!

We have become so used to having instant gratification that it is hard for me to wrap my mind around 633 years from laying the first cornerstone until sitting in a pew to worship.   2020 has been a crazy year... it feels like forever since we've gathered with our loved ones and friends.  We have missed celebrating weddings together or mourning our loved ones at a funeral, or maybe it's just the opportunity to sit in our favorite pew at church.  But this too shall pass and with perspective we will be able to look back and see God's hand in our lives during this time.   
I hope and pray it will not take 633 years!


But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Chapel of the Transfiguration

Chapel of the Transfiguration
Grand Teton National Park
Moose, Wyoming

 I've been visiting Grand Teton National Park for 40 years and will always include a stop (and hopefully a service) at this charming log cabin church near the Moose entrance.  It was built in 1925, even before the park was founded.  Inside are log pews with a huge picture window and a breathtaking view of the Tetons, and in particular the group of three peaks known as the Cathedral Group.  

These things make life worthwhile to me;
A sunset sky, a maple tree,
A mountain standing grim and gray,
Against the sky line far away;
A baby's laugh, a summer breeze,
A roadway winding 'neath the trees;
A friend to trust, a book to read,
And work which meets some human need.
And through it all, a sense of God
Lifting my soul above the sod,
The hope and peace which He can give -
Theses make it worth my while to live.

A picture is worth a thousand words... no need for a sermon here!