What Is On My Mind Today? Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day Love

 

Jesus heart

What is on my mind today?  Love.

Today is a day to think about love and those we love.  And, perhaps pray for a few that we don’t.

As it would happen this year Valentine’s Day is the same day as Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Christian observance of Lent.

Ash Wednesday is more than a time to stand in line and get black ashes in the shape of a cross temporarily tattooed on our foreheads. Or, a time to make fun of people who wear the mark of their Christian faith in public.

On Ash Wednesday, we acknowledge that our God given human lives on this earth are just a wisp in time. From dust we were made and to dust our bodies will return.  Lent and death are serious business.

Lent is not the time to invest in fish and tofu futures or McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish stock.  Most of us know someone who observes Lent by giving up doing or eating something they enjoy or who do not consume meat on Fridays. However, I believe that Lent is not so much of a time to do without, as it is a season to seriously feed the soul.

Lent is a time to walk with Jesus the Christ and experience the love, mercy, acceptance and forgiveness of his ministry.  It is a time ponder the suffering and death on the cross of a truly innocent and just man.  It is a time to feel the devastating despair and disappointment of his disciples when they fear all is lost as Jesus’s breathes his last and his pale blood-spattered lifeless cold corpse is taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb.

Lent is about being human. One of the most amazing things about the Bible is the humanity of its humans.  Good, bad, warts and all. Jesus’s chosen disciples were absolutely and imperfectly human. No heroes here. In his time of need, they deserted Jesus and scattered like frightened sheep.

Have you ever wondered why these normal cowardly people changed and courageously, without compromise spent the rest of their lives, most dying very nasty deaths, proclaiming the divinity of the risen Christ? What steeled their spines?

After all, they had seen Jesus flogged and beaten to hamburger, hung on a cross with spikes through his hands and feet, breathe his last, his dead body put into a solid rock tomb, the only door of the tomb sealed by the authorities with a huge boulder and guarded by soldiers. The authorities were determined to end, once and for always, the heresy of this man who proclaimed himself the Messiah, Son of God…Jesus of Nazareth.

Reality oftentimes is a very dark thing and so it must have been for the followers of Christ immediately following the Crucifixion. At that moment in time those men and women were surrounded by darkness. Darkness of the heart, mind and soul.

They had to be questioning everything. Had they been betrayed by a smooth talking impostor? Lunatic? Or, worse yet an evil magician?  Jesus had died!  Where was their eternal king?  Where was his kingdom? Dead kings can’t rule! Why didn’t God send angels to save Jesus? He just let him die on that cross!

Jesus was gone!  His comfort was gone, his miracles were gone, his strength was gone, his love was gone! Death! Yes, they were well acquainted with death and their Jesus was dead!  And, now their very lives were in danger.

Would anyone who valued their lives as much as you and I, give up their lives for a liar? Fake?  Madman?  Magician?  I wouldn’t. I bet you wouldn’t either. And, neither would those men and women who personally knew Jesus.

What was it then that changed them into courageous lions for God?

They actually, and really, saw the risen Christ!  Been there!  Done that!

Nothing short of that could have created such great change in ordinary frightened powerless people. His early followers preached, were persecuted, tortured and often died violent deaths, because they had personally witnessed Christ’s resurrection from the grave.

I think it is sad that the disciples did not truly believe he was the Son of God until they saw him alive after death!  Sad, but true.  However, it would have been the human thing to do. It is probably what I would have done, in those same circumstances.

It is obvious to me that they did not fully believe when they lived with him, walked with him, were taught by him and were told by him that he was the Son of God. If they had understood that he truly was the Messiah, they would not have mourned his death.

Jesus spent his time with his disciples planting seeds of faith.  So many parables. So, many little tiny mustard seeds. His resurrection was the disciples “AH HA” moment.  The arrival of the Holy Spirit nourished all of those seedlings of faith Jesus planted to maturity.  Preparing the disciples, minds, hearts and souls to fearlessly spread the Gospel and harvest for heaven.

Some of the disciples, just like so many of us, were skeptics. Even seeing Jesus alive again, was not enough.  So he spoke with them, walked with them, ate with them, let them touched him where the nails from the cross had pierced his hands and feet, appeared to additional multitudes of people so that there were hundreds of witnesses to the resurrection.  Then, they even watched Jesus ascend into heaven.

Regardless of the vast amount of persecution of those early Christian believers the Gospel spread and the church grew. It grew without social media, the internet, television, radio or even printing presses.  It was over a thousand years after Christ’s death before a man in Germany in 1440, named Johannes Gutenberg, invented the “Gutenberg Press” and made God’s holy word, the Bible, available to the public.

Lent is a time to get those Bibles out, if necessary dust them off, and read about these very ordinary people who were chosen by Jesus to be his followers.  It is also a time to anticipate the joy felt by the women who came to embalm a dead body only to find an open tomb and a living Jesus on that first Easter morning.

It is good that today is both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day. The message of the whole Bible can be condensed into one word…love.  Our love of God and his undying, merciful, forgiving, love for us. So, why did Jesus die on the cross?  It was for love.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” John 15:13. 

We will never know a greater love than the love of God.

Today and everyday is the perfect time to celebrate and share love.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35. 

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!
Love to you all!!
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What Is On My Mind Today? The Obama Portraits….Where’s Waldo and the Many Shades of Grey

 

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What is on my mind today? The portraits of Michelle and Barack Obama.

The President’s reminds me of a where’s Waldo picture and I have to find the one cannabis leaf. I haven’t found it yet. Still looking, because I bet there’s one there.

This quest of mine is more of a reflection of my sense of humor and myself as an artist than the former president.

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Michelle’s makes me mad. Here is a woman who was our nation’s first lady of African decent and who has the most gorgeous brown skin and she’s painted grey. Grey!  What an awful thing to do to a wonderful strong role model for young black children. Especially, when so many young girls spend their entire lives trying to escape being many shades of grey.
It has not escaped my notice that white skin has taken a beating lately, but since when did black cease to be beautiful? 

People, it’s a sad thing when you lose your colors….especially the really bright vibrant ones….It is a shame when the only color on a portrait of a woman of color is the yellow, pink and red stripes of her dress…..just saying…..

Letter to my Grandkids: Cat Warfare….Lincoln Loved Cats, People and Our Union…..Political Cat Fight–November 8, 1864

Happy Birthday Abe Lincoln! Some history to celebrate your day!

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

                           Abraham Lincoln in 1861                                  Dixie 

Dear Kids:

Howdy, I hope your week is going well and that you are pacing yourself with homework and Valentine treats.  Too much of either can make kids your age feel sick.  Actually, there are days when I feel sick just listening to all of the  political bickering on the news.  It’s probably best that video games were invented so you kids can avoid the never ending foolishness.

Although, in my day, we were just stuck watching the news. It was considered educational. We even had tests on it in school. They called it current events.  Which was nonsensical as many of us farm kids had no time to read newspapers and magazines.  Or, listen to…

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What Is On My Mind Today? Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln!

 

lincoln19Yeah, it is Lincoln’s birthday! I know you all have special plans to honor this tall dark quiet man who put country before self and despite all odds, won the Civil War, kept our nation whole and took a bullet to the head because John Wilkes Booth, knew that Lincoln would eventually give the vote to former slaves.

Maybe we could use him as an example of a hero instead of the Kardashians. Just saying…..

Lincoln, Lincoln I’ve been think’n you’re so sad and I’ve been drink’n…..

Recipe: Skinny President Lincoln’s Lemon Cake

Well, in a couple of days it will again be….Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. His life was like a great theatrical tragedy from start to finish. At his greatest moment of happiness, and personal and political triumph, John Wilkes Booth ended his life with a bullet to the head, in a dark theater on Good Friday, April 14, 1865.

This recipe for Lemon Cake was one of his wife Mary’s specialties and his favorites.

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

a chocolate cake

I am in a baking mood today.  I just took a Zucchini Chocolate Spice cake out of the oven, (recipe on this blog). After it cools I will cut the cake layers in half and make a four layer cake frosted with chocolate buttercream frosting.  There are chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven as I type and I still have grate and freeze two more large zucchini.  Then, too, I still have supper to make, which will be Sloppy Joe sandwiches made with ground beef and served with Coleslaw with Lemon Dressing, (recipe on this blog).

Chocolate Cake whether it is the recipe for Boiled Chocolate cake (recipe on this blog), or the cake that just came out of my oven is probably my husband’s favorite dessert. After 37 years of marriage, and me baking for him all of that time, my husband still weighs almost…

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Protect Your Neighbors–Serve Pie

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

Just the other day, I read on Facebook, so it must be true, that you are less likely to be kidnapped if you are overweight. Preventing becoming a crime victim may be as simple as eating more pie. So, when my friend Kate recently contacted me to request a copy of my Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pie recipe, I decided that in the interest of decreasing societal victimization and promoting the only superfood I wholeheartedly recommend—chocolate—I will share the recipe.

Every day on social media there is a new superfood that boasts unbelievable healing powers. I have read many articles on a variety of superfoods and have had three personal observations.

1. The mere scent of coconut oil depresses me as it is a reminder that winter is on the way here in Minnesota and there are warm beaches somewhere.

2. If cinnamon could heal, I would be super human…

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Grandma Pat Letters: Cat Warfare: Dr. Martin Luther King, England’s Two Black Queens and Abraham Lincoln

Dear Kids,

It is freezing out today, and boy did we get a lot of snow yesterday.  The most in seven years.  It’s suppose to be excellent snowman and snowball making snow.  I hope you are having fun playing outside.

Since, its so snowy and cold outside, I figured its a good day for me to stay inside, keep warm and write a letter.

I suppose you know that last week was Martin Luther King Day.  I sure hope that you had lessons in school learning about what a wonderful civil rights leader he was and how he died.  When I was young there wasn’t a Martin Luther King Day, because he was still alive.

    Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.                    Martin Luther

Just for the record Martin Luther and Martin Luther King are two separate people.  They did have somethings in common. They were both Christian pastors and fought for human rights.  However, Martin Luther was an old white guy who was a German professor of religion, composer, priest, and monk.  He began a movement called the protestant reformation.  Lutheran churches are named after him.

It is so important to learn about great men like Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King.   He taught that not liking or being mean to someone…anyone…because of the color of their skin is just wrong. Some people have this idea that they are better than others just, because of their skin color.  I am here to tell you that is utter rubbish!

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I learned that lesson in Sunday School when I was only three years old.  One of the first Christian songs our teachers taught us kids was, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.”   It goes like this,

“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.
Red, yellow, black and white,
They are precious in his sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Truer words were never spoken.

I remember Dr. Martin Luther King very well and especially the day he was assassinated.  At that time in our country’s history it seemed like there was just one assassination after another.

First, it was President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1969 in Dallas, Texas.  Then,  Dr. Rev. King  on April 4, 1968, Memphis, Tennessee, and just several months later President Kennedy’s brother Bobby was shot and killed campaigning to be president on June 6, 1968 in Los Angeles, California.

I was very young and so was television when President Kennedy was killed.  I do remember watching his funeral on a black and white television.  The image of his casket being pulled by horses stuck in my mind. I, also, remember news films of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and being afraid of the riots that followed his death.  I heard about Bobby Kennedy’s assassination on the radio.

Dr. King was only 39 years old when he died. That might seem old to you, but its not.  He was a young man in the prime of his life, about the same age as your parents.

Dr. King accomplished a lot during his few short years on this earth.  He was a highly respected leader in the Civil Rights movement. He devoted his life to saving souls for Jesus and ending the inequity and racism experienced by our black brothers and sisters that had never gone away since the end of the Civil War.

Dr. King helped end something called “Jim Crow” laws. In short, these laws separated white and black people.  By law black people could not use the same bathrooms or water fountains as white people.   I remember that I once went into a really expensive store and in their bathrooms each stall had a lock on it.  You had to use a dime to go to the bathroom.  I was a little kid, and thought that was terrible and felt bad that poor people couldn’t use those facilities.

So, imagine how awful it would have been to not be able to go in restaurants, on buses or attend a school just because of the color of your skin.  All “Jim Crow” laws were was slavery in another form.

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The night before he was killed Dr. King delivered one of his most remembered speeches.  It is often called, “The Mountain Top Speech.”  One of  the more famous quotes from that speech goes like this,

“We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop…And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”  

Like Biblical Moses, who thousands of years before him had led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, neither Moses or Dr. King would never enter the promised land.  Moses died of old age on a mountain and Dr. King’s life ended just a few hours after he made this speech with an assassins bullet.

If genius is defined by making the complex simple, there is no doubt that Dr. King was a genius.  Dr. King summed up in one sentence the goal of how people should be treated no matter what the color of their skin when he said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Yes, people are still judged and found wanting just because of the color of their skin.  Take for example the bride to be of a English Prince Harry.  She is a beautiful young woman whose mother was black and father white.  There have been several news stories about how some people don’t think, that the bride is good enough to marry into the English Royal family, because one of her parent’s is black.

Rude comments such as these are the absolute the definition of the term, “catty.”  Which the dictionary defines as someone who is, “unkind, spiteful, mean, malicious, or critical.” 

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I have always felt that people who are just mean or who judge individuals by the group are in desperate need of prayer.  However, in this case their nasty comments are just reflection of their own ignorance, because there already is “black” blood mingled with the blue blood of England’s royals.

England has already had two, “black” royal queens of England….Philippa and Sophie Charlotte.

Queen Philippa was born on June 24, 1314.  She died August 15, 1369.  Philippa was the daughter of a noble ruler who lived in what is now the country of Belgium. He was of “Moorish” descent, which meant he was black and his ancestors had come from Africa.

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Queen Philippa

Philippa was King Edward III’s wife and England’s Queen-Consort. Theirs was an arranged political marriage.  That means their parents picked out who they had to marry.  How would you like that?

Edward’s father, King Edward II, sent a fellow to Philippa’s kingdom to check her out and report back.  The report came back as follows,

“The lady whom we saw has not uncomely hair, betwixt blue-black and brown. Her head is cleaned shaped; her forehead high and broad, and standing somewhat forward. Her face narrows between the eyes, and the lower part of her face is still more narrow and slender than the forehead. Her eyes are dark. Her nose is fairly smooth and even, save that is somewhat broad at the tip and flattened, yet it is no snub nose. Her nostrils are also broad, her mouth fairly wide. Her lips somewhat full and especially the lower lip…all her limbs are well set and unmaimed, and nought is amiss so far as a man may see. Moreover, she is brown of skin all over, and much like her father, and in all things she is pleasant enough, as it seems to us.”

Philippa is considered a “most royal” Queen-Consort of England.  Four of her great-great-grandfathers had been the kings….in France, Aragon, Naples and Hungary.  She was intelligent, a capable ruler when her husband was away from the palace making war and was known for her patience, kindness and mercy. She often pleaded for her husband to spare the lives of those who were sentenced to death.

Together Queen Philippa and King Edward III had thirteen children.  Their first child was born before Philippa was sixteen years old. Three of their children, a daughter and two sons, died from the black plague.  I already told you about the black plague.

Queen Philippa was very much respected and loved by the people England.  She promoted the arts, and was a sponsor of the famous author Geoffrey Chaucer. The Queen’s College at Oxford was founded in her honor.

Tomb effigy of Philippa of Hainault, Westminster Abbey.
Queen Philippa’s Tomb

The second of England’s black queens was Sophie Charlotte who was born in 1744.  Princess Sophie Charlotte was the eighth child born to Germany’s Charles Louis Fredrick and Elisabeth Albertina.  Her father died when she was only eight years old.

It was through her father that she inherited her black heritage.  There are six different royals lines directly connecting Sophie to Margarita de Castro y Sousa, the daughter of Alfonso III of Portugal and his mistress, Mourana Gil, an African of Moorish descent.

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Queen Charolotte

While several generations separated both Philippa and Charolotte from their African or Moorish ancestors, the practice of marrying cousins practiced by the royalty in Europe kept that gene pool small and helps to explain why these two queens had dark skin.

Many of the people who knew them described them as having African features such as dark eyes, hair and skin.  Sir Walter Scott  wrote that Charolotte was “ill-colored” and called her family “a bunch of ill-colored orangutans.”  One prime minister once wrote of Queen Charlotte: “Her nose is too wide and her lips too thick.”   The Queen’s personal physician, Baron Stockmar,  described her as having, “a true mulatto face.”

So how did this German princess end up being Queen Charlotte of England and Ireland?Parents arranged the marriage. A marriage contract was signed.  She traveled from Germany to England, on September 8, 1761, within six hours of first stepping foot on English soil, at the age of 17, Sophie Charlotte married King George III.

King George III is the guy George Washington and his fellow Americans rebelled against to win our freedom. This king eventually went crazy, but that is another story.

On August 12, 1762, Queen Charlotte gave birth to their first child, a son who would become King George IV.  Their son Edward, Duct of Kent, was the father of Queen Victoria.

All together the royal couple produced 15 children.  Thirteen survived to adulthood.  Which was rare in those days as one out of even ten babies died before they were a year old and 30 percent of all children died before they were teenagers.  But, then the average life expectancy for people of the 18th century was just under 40 years of age.  Now, its almost 80 years.  Hurrah for modern medicine and vaccinations!

Queen Charlotte was a very great English Queen.  She, like Philippa, was a lover of art and music.  One of her music teachers was Johann Christian Bach.  When he was only eight years old, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart dedicated his Opus 3 to her.  She helped establish the famous Kew Gardens; a maternity hospital, the oldest in England; and was the Queen who introduced the Christmas tree to England.

Queen Charlotte is the great great-great grandmother of the present Queen Elizabeth II. Prince William’s little daughter is named after her.  Many cities around the world and in our country are named after her.

In the year 1818 two very great women died, Queen Charlotte and Nancy Lincoln. One lived in great palaces and the other in a one room log cabin with dirt floors. One was the mother of kings and queens who most people could not even name, and the other the mother of Abraham Lincoln, the most famous and admired president of our nation.

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Lincoln once said that all he was and could ever hope to be he owed to his mother.  He was merely nine years old when he watched his beloved mother suddenly die from sickness.  She was only 34 years old. Lincoln used a knife to whittle the wooden pegs that held his mother’s coffin together.

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Lincoln would grow up to be the president that saved our Union during the Civil War and ended slavery.  Both he and Dr. King lost their lives to assassins because of their political convictions and while our nation still needed their leadership.

I think that had Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King lived at the same time and met, they would have been great friends.  For Lincoln wholeheartedly believed what Dr. King once said that,  “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Don’t forget that Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is coming up and send me some pictures of your snowmen.

Lots of love,

Grandma Pat