California

Even though I have travelled quite a bit around America, I had not made it to the west coast.. many colleagues come from there, so many stories have been told… and now I can add my own stories!!

Last weekend I flew to California just for the weekend… not to see the Hollywood glitz and glam.. one of my biggest wishes was to see the Pacific Ocean.. driving on the Pacific highway would be the bonus.

The warm air and beautiful blue sky was in stark contrast to the blackened hills. The recent fire images from the news sprang to mind quickly when you actually drive through these hills.. and see the devastation. A quick reminder that life is temporary and this is not our home. I can’t wait for the permanent home in Heaven!

No beach visit is complete without shells… and even though I was assured that the beaches are mostly bare of shells, I found some!! To be treasured for sure.

The beach visited is often used for shooting movies and tv series.. I did not see any celebrities though and would not even recognise any anyways. I was far more interested in trying to spot marine life! I instantly regretted not taking my camera.. 2 whales were frolicking in the area were the surf was. We could follow them and observe from probably 30 ft away… so cool! A pod of dolphins was seen further in the sea… man! Awesome!!! That’s the only word I have to describe it.

I did not realise I would be so quickly hooked on a place so alien to me.. walking in the sunshine on the beach…. California… I will be back!!!

Giving Thanks

There are few American celebrations I can identify with… most don’t relate to anything I really know. However, Thanksgiving is something that resonates with me. Remembering why we can be thankful.

In the American history, this signifies hard times and new beginnings. Religious persecution lead to the voyage to America to pursue religious liberty. And after a slow start in Plymouth, the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of the first successful harvest. This gets celebrated every year. It’s a national holiday. In Europe we also celebrate the harvest of the year. It’s celebrated in October and I wonder of the pilgrims took this tradition with them and gave it new meaning.

Thanksgiving.. giving thanks for abundance. Often in the humdrum of life, we don’t stop often enough to say Thanks to Him who provides. We may believe that hard work got us there, and not always see the significance of giving thanks.

Over the past years I have been privileged to be in the US during this holiday. Families and friends come together, spending quality time, remembering why they are thankful. Maybe a round table saying out loud that which they are thankful for.

I wish we would pay more attention to this in Europe. To be thankful is an act of acknowledgment that what we have is not of our own making. And that is always good to be reminded of! God relishes in our giving of thanks to Him.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. Psalm 100:4.

We do not need to minimise the giving of thanks to just the 3rd Thursday in November. We can be thankful every day. Every day is a new gift, a new chance to make choices. But to be especially aware of this act of giving thanks once per year is wonderful.

I will certainly miss it this year, to not be in the US. However, wonderful American friends have invited us to celebrate with them in London. So don’t mind me if I am just a little teary eyed, remembering why I am grateful, and thinking back to last year, visiting Plymouth Rock… there were this remembrance started.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Rock

Cousins

My grandfather used to say ‘the sun does not set over the Knopper family’. The reason was that his kids spread to corners of the earth. One to Australia, one to America… and my dad stayed home in the Netherlands…

The consequence of this was that family reunions were just with very small portions of the family. We grew up without knowing any of the cousins.

There is a picture of 1971 where we were all together… apparently.., I don’t remember it..

A few years ago, my Australian cousin met up with us in Luxembourg.. so nice to meet! A familiarity immediately there.

Last year I met up with my American cousin… same thing… I wrote an earlier blog about that.

As I am regularly in America, I finally was able to arrange to spend some time with my cousin. Catching up on uhm… some 47 years of missing history… he remembers stories about my grandparents from what I don’t remember or was too young for.

A drive into the Smokey Mountains was the setting for all this..

Below a few pictures of that…

I know the sun will continue to shine over the Knopper family and not set.. as cousins have families, equally spread out in their respective countries…

One day we will have that total family reunion…it may have to wait till we are all Home with Jesus though!

Ponderings

The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind in the truest sense of the word…I have been to both the east and the west, and find myself once again in America.

Time sometimes goes so fast, you just want to grab it by the horns and say: ‘hey! Slow down!’

I so wish I could… grab the thing that I love, slow down time and speed it up when the times are a little more complex.

Life is not like that though… you have to take the good with the bad and make the best of it.

For that very reason I decided to tattoo a phrase on my foot to remind me of the most important thing in my life… ‘saved by grace’. He died for me so I can live eternally… I will have all the time in the world then… I can do all the things I long to do but can’t make the time for… hang with friends, work in the garden, knit and crochet, be with my family, enjoy the golden streets and my mansion He is preparing for me… I can’t wait!!!

Another Friday Rivercruise

About a year ago, Melody and I took a cruise down a part of the St Croix river, from Taylors Falls. A beautiful trip, I blogged about it previously and posted pictures.

I wanted to recreate that feeling of peace I had then, after busy days of preparing for the movers arrival next Monday. So I booked a river cruise on another part of the St Croix river. This time from Stillwater.

The weather forecast was showing rain, but when I arrived there were very little clouds in the sky and it was beautifully sunny. I could pick my spot as I was early… top deck near the front. I missed my chatterbox daughter… but the instant peace of being on the water was there…

There is nothing more calming to me than the sound of the water, with beautiful birds up in the sky. Especially my favourite in this part of the world… the bald eagle. Such majestic soaring over the waters…

It always reminds me of the sermon Geert preaches often.. the song of Moses in Deuteronomy, where he compares the father Eagle to our Heavenly Father. Soaring, watching, feeding, and there to catch us when we fall. Seeing these eagles puts things in perspective. He is in control…

‘When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with You above the Storm. Father you are King over the flood, I will be still and know You are God…’

Enjoy the weekend, my soul is calm.

Crochet

Yep, my favourite past time… crocheting takes my mind of lots of things. Anyone who knows me knows I can’t sit still.. I need to have something to do, something to not only keep my hands occupied, but something to take my mind of things. So hands race over the wool…

With my soon return to England, a lot of things need to be arranged.. simple things, like changing my phone plan, to more complex things like arranging the movers and applying for customs exemption…. my mind is racing, and so are my hands… I like straight forward patterns for this… something I do not need to keep my mind on… no complex patterns (unlike my daughter Melody does)… just straight forward and fast… counting till 7.

Blanket after blanket, with a scarf or two in between are getting finished… if you happen to receive one from me, yep… crocheted with a busy cluttered mind… if you did not receive one… it’s not personal… my stress period is not over yet… hahaha

“Crocheting keeps me from unraveling”

Am curious to know what your way is of stopping the mind from ‘unraveling’. Everyone copes in their own ways..there are no good or bad ways… but curious I am!

Happy Friday!

Weekend

Another weekend is here. Am so glad the snow has finally given in to beautiful sunshine and is nearly gone. The lakes are still frozen but the scent of spring is in the air. Not long now and the trees will start to show their green leaves… hope the flowers start soon to bloom too. All in time for me to experience a last spring while living here in the USA.

Yes, the year in America is coming to an end. 5 weekends left before my home address goes back over the pond again… England, I have missed you!

But first… weekend! Sun, God, me-time..

What are your weekend plans? I hope your weekend will be peaceful with unexpected blessings!!!

Another Tuesday

Life has a habit of throwing curveballs… my daughter Melody put a previous post up on the same topic… seems a family theme!

Maybe it’s just acknowledgement that no matter how much you want to plan out your life, and need the security to know what’s happening next… it just does not happen that way.

These last couple days I have had the pleasure to spend time with my dads older brother in Tennessee. The weather was lovely, the surroundings are beautiful and are beating snowy Minnesota. It’s been just him and me… chatting about everything and nothing. Looking through pictures, me watching him take a nap while I am crocheting… time we have never taken before… well, I have never taken before. A blessing.

And yet I know this will most likely be the last opportunity. Besides that my year in America is rapidly coming to and end, he is also of age and battling cancer. The curveball I was talking about.

Just when you think you have it worked out, and given family relationships it’s place.. it’s really the last time…

I am not complaining. I am blessed beyond measure… looking at my uncle I realise I am also blessed with a wider family who can put family history in perspective.

Above all, it puts time in perspective. No matter how much of it or how little of it we have. Use it wisely!

Time spend should never be wasted!!

Christmas is coming!

Christmas…… I have these dreams of cozy family time, roaring fires, love for all, peace on Earth, home cooked meals etc. Am sure you get what I mean…

Instead, I find myself still on another business trip at the end of this year, wondering how I will manage all I want to accomplish before I fly home to spend a couple weeks in the UK. I have not bought any Christmas presents, although my emails are bombarded with ads, promises of cheap and cheerful presents. I have not decorated my apartment, other than the below Christmas trees in the window. No roaring fire, I don’t even have a fire place! Today in the news I saw a New York bomb attack, California wild fires.. peace on Earth is still far away.

What is Christmas really about? Why is there so much pressure on this season? Should we not be celebrating the fact that Jesus came to this Earth as a little babe, to reconcile us with our Heavenly Father? Would it not be sufficient to just be grateful for that, and let the rest pass by?

Maybe that’s what I will do this year.. just be… a little Mary, sitting at His feet, rather that Martha..always busy… I still have a couple weeks to ponder that some more…. what about you?

Memphis

Memphis has a couple of interesting memorials…. Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley and Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King lost his life. 2 Icons, 2 very different reasons.
Our day started out with finding Elvis Presley Boulevard… the Boulevard which has the museum and the home of Elvis. Something we only heard about and seen in documentaries and movies. His house was quite small, although the grounds were large. Not at all as I had imagined it. Some rooms a little extravagant but certainly homely and inviting. Not very wheelchair friendly, but mum was parked outside in the carport while we could look in the basement rooms. Below a few pictures, a little impression.

After the Graceland tour and an ice cream we drove to downtown Memphis. Another icon was here in Memphis, but lost his life… others decided he needed to die. Martin Luther King was standing on the balcony in front of his room talking when someone shot him from the opposite building. Suddenly you look with very different eyes to the city. It’s a beautiful museum, dedicated to freedom. You can stand almost immediately below the balcony, see the firehouse and boarding house.. a moment of quiet contemplation. 

2 very different people, but both shaped the world as we know it today. 

A strange day as such… but definitely one to remember and to know I want to come back to Memphis… there is more to explore and see!