• KL Russell

By P. A. Meredith

January 16, 2022



In case you're wondering what, this blog is all about, I'll simply explain it as our faith travel blog. This is the third week since we began our spiritual travel adventures for 2022, but it is not the first time we’ve explored our faith. For many, this search is difficult. I, however, am finding this quest more than stimulating. Tired of listening to negative news, comments, and sources, all slowly tearing away at my own beliefs and convictions; we tuned out and turned into exploring our surroundings. Searching for the all good, all positive, and the all hopeful in our world, took us to “looking at the bigger picture” and a way of securing our faith.

I was becoming so selfish and so self-indulgent, that I failed to notice anything in the “bigger picture”. What matters most, is singing praise and glory to the highest, or giving shout-outs and thanks for all the wonderous beauty and power from our heavenly father.


Say it loud! Say it proud!

Say it without fear.

Say it for everyone to hear!

Sing praise to the one who knows,

Shout “hallelujah” joyous song.

Let it grow inside and live long.


This past week we contemplated staying at Stephen Foster State Park near White Springs, Florida, or O’Leno State Park near High Springs, Florida. We decided, O’Leno Florida State Park. Before we left the driveway, we were faced with electrical problems in one of the backrooms at the house. No way was this small problem going to deter or take away from our planned adventure. We decided to put it all in the good Lord’s hands and move forward. Off we went, and I don’t mind saying…I did pray a rosary or two to keep the house in tact until our return.

We eventually made it to the exit near High Springs, Florida and stopped at Sonny’s BBQ to order lunch to go, and eat at the park. We arrived before check-in and decided to head down to the Pavilions, located along the Santa Fe river’s edge. The majestic oak, magnolia and cypress trees provided a peaceful backdrop for our picnic. We chose one of the pavilions close to the water edge. It was quiet and few people in the area, with the exception of a small band of musicians. Approximately a hundred or so feet away from us, was a woman and two or three older gentlemen with banjo, guitar, and fiddle playing to an acoustic tune of “Amazing Grace”. We sat at our table enjoying our surroundings. I was prepared to bite into my BBQ platter, when directly in front of me was a giant ichthys coming out of a huge cypress tree. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and yet, there it was! Two pieces of tree limbs with intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point, thus resembling the profile of a fish.

"ichthys limbs" ©2022.KLRussell. All Rights Reserved.

In case you’re wondering what exactly is an ichthys or ichthus? It is from the Greek and was adopted symbolically by early Christians as a secret symbol for the “Jesus fish”.

Last week we were fortunate to see messenger wings and now the ichthys. I’ve forgotten how our heavenly father talks to us; whether it be by way of his angels or signs, it does not matter. He talks and I need to listen.

Following lunch, we checked into our site and set up camp in our standing room tent. It was late into the evening when we decided on a light dinner and early bed. We often listen to a digital book when trying to relax. We chose a Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross. It’s wonderfully light, funny, and entertaining. After listening to the point of relaxation, I turned the digital book off, only to be alerted to major thunderstorms and tornado warnings in the area. I looked at the phone alert to see a weather mapping of heavy storms to the north of us. Our pinpoint location was at the bottom cusp of the storms moving north toward White Springs and away from us. I said three rosaries and then fell asleep.

I woke up in a tent that held true to its name…Standing room tent was still standing. No leaks or water damage. I’ll stop here for now and just add a reminder to give thanks and praise and always keep “looking at the bigger picture”. Keep the faith!










"

  • P.A. Meredith

Updated: 6 days ago

by P. A. Meredith, January 9, 2022

©2022.KristiLRussell
"Wings of a Messenger" ©2022. Kristi L Russell

Many years ago, when I was around six-years-old, while I lay sleeping in my bed, I felt a presence in the room. A hand gently brushed my forehead, and I opened my eyes to see nothing. The following morning, I asked my mother and father if they had been in my room during the night. They said "No." After telling them what I felt, they simply explained it as nothing more than a dream. Not long after, I received my first holy communion at Saint Francis Xavier. I attended a private parochial school in West Virginia, where I was taught by the nuns from the order of the "Poor Child Jesus". Every Tuesday, and Friday the nuns and student body attended Mass and then walked a few blocks to school.

Quite often, my father would drive me to either Mass, or school. In any case, we were often late, and on this particular day attending weekday Mass, following my communion, it was no different. Tardy again, and Sister was not happy. Our first communion class met in the cafeteria, where we attended our first communion breakfast. Sister passed a basket around with slips of folded paper and asked each of us to take one. I was too busy enjoying my powdered covered, vanilla filled donut with chocolate milk, to fully grasp her instructions. My dear friend sitting next to me passed the basket, and I pulled out a piece of paper. Unfolding the paper, it had scribbled letters, that I neither could read nor understand. I asked my dear friend, Patty, to explain it to me. She took the paper and eyes opened-wide, held the paper in her raised hand, yelling, "Sister! Sister!"

As it turned out, those scribbled letters spelled "queen". I had been chosen to be the "Queen of the May"!


Years later, now in my twenties, I had another experience again, only this time, it added a special connection. While working in law enforcement, I was on day patrol, when a call came over the radio from another officer in need of assistance. Being close by, I responded. I arrived to a scene where the officer was struggling with one person and another was running away into a building. He pointed to the person running away, and I took up pursuit on foot. The building was old and dark, and I could barely see in front of my nose. Just as I was about to enter another dark room, I felt something. A pair of arms grabbed me and pulled me back out of the doorway just as I saw the light of a blade coming around. I managed to subdue and restrain without harm to this person or myself.


I have been blessed throughout my life. My guardian angel, or angels, have always been there for me. I don't deserve such a blessing, but I am eternally grateful to know that someone, or something is there watching out for me. Some might explain it away as luck, or something else, but for me I believe strongly in angels. So much so, it's near borderline obsession. My books (written under a pen name, K. L. Russell) are based on a school for angels.


A friend of mine was late paying a doctor bill, she called the office and told them she would be in the following week to take care of the bill. The nurse told her not to worry, the office was closed due to COVID. A couple of weeks passed and my friend decided to sign up for a photography class, held at a local restaurant. The more she thought about it, the more she decided she wasn't comfortable going. She called to cancel, only to learn, the entire class had been canceled due to COVID. She definitely has a special angel in her corner.


I'm not here to tell anyone what to believe or not to believe. That's up to each of us to decide. Looking at the bigger picture, I choose to believe with faith and hope in things we cannot always see. It has always guided me to a happier safer life when I listen.

"Now faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not." -Hebrews 11:1

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition



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  • P.A. Meredith

Updated: Jan 3

by P. A. Meredith


Happy New Year Everyone!


These past two years have been trying at best, not only for our family, but also for the entire world. I've heard people talk about the last days, the end of times, and so on. Televised news was no better and giving less hope to those who truly needed to hear truth, not sensationalism. I'm getting closer to that drop off point of my own stage of life. I've made mistakes, but I have no regrets. All that I have done, or aspired to do, good or bad, at least I made an effort to improve the quality of my life and the lives of my loved ones. My father believed, we were descendants of Job and always being tested in our faith. When COVID struck worldwide, I was beginning to wonder how right he might have been. With that said, I wanted to blog, "looking at the bigger picture", how our heavenly father talks to us everyday. I have been a poor listener, but "looking at the bigger picture" has made life's challenges easier to handle, and helped me be a better listener.


"Looking for the Bigger Picture"


13 You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart.

- Jeremiah 29:13 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)



Myakka State Park, FL


We decided to spend this 2021 New Year somewhere quiet. We chose to spend our New Year's Eve, camping...and tent camping to boot. Yeppers, you read it correctly, tent camping! When we decided to do this and booked our campsite for two nights (the 30th and 31st), we were fortunate enough to find our only campsite, at Myakka State Park in Florida. (#FLStatePark)


Setting up the "standing room tent" (#standingroomtent) proved challenging, but doable, given our golden years. We added a pop-up screen room to be placed over the picnic table; thus, giving us a decent dining and card game area, without all the bugs. Using my mother's and grandmother's cast-iron pots, we cooked our dinners on the open pit fire grill. The first night we had home preprepared burgers on the the open fire grill, and for New Year's Eve, we had steak with potatoes and onions, along with a side Caesar salad.


Birdwalk to Arcadia


After arriving and setting up camp, we took a short drive around the over-crowded park. We decided the best park tour was either, before the park opened or after the park closed. New Year's Eve morning, we were up early exploring. We were excited to explore nature; however, nature called first. We managed to quickly find first and foremost, a bathroom - a necessity for those of our mature years. After which, we made our way to the bird walk.

This was extraordinarily wonderful! Birds abound and the ranger on duty was well-informed to answer questions or assist in locating a particular bird in question. It wasn't long before the bird walk began filling up with visitors. We decided to leave and driving down to the concession area proved frustrating, and the only place to have lunch was at a food truck. The lines were ridiculously long. Given the COVID situation, we decided against having lunch in the park. So we ventured out of the park area, and drove on a short excursion, or as we prefer, an adventure! By the way, in all fairness to this beautiful park, they had been refurbishing the concession area. If your asking, "why didn't you have lunch at your campsite?"...well, quite honestly, we planned poorly for the lunches. My bad.

Our next stop took us to a small town in Arcadia, DeSoto County. Peace River flows past on the west side of the city, with Punta Gorda on its way southwest. It was a thirty-minute drive, give or take, from the park along SR72. The drive took us through beautiful, quiet, and serene farm settings, while passing a small Mennonite Community. One women was working diligently in the meticulously kept strawberry fields.

Just passing a small farm market stand, we nearly drove into a flock of turkey vultures, intent on becoming road kill, all fighting for whatever carrion was on the side of the road. Slamming on the breaks, I feared having feathers and I couldn't begin to tell you, whatever else splatterpunked into our truck. But just as I began to accelerate, the most amazing site took place right in front of us. A bald eagle swooped down in front of the truck to go after something on the side of the road among the turkey vultures. If you've never been fortunate too see this majestic creature up close, then I don't know what else too say. Recovering from that glorious moment, we moved onward with our adventure.

We turned onto SR70 that led us into Arcadia; a small community, a great many migrant workers, and a quaint historic downtown district. We managed to have lunch at Slim's BBQ. A small Ma and Pa place that wasn't overpriced, and well worth the drive. Once again, COVID took front and center, and the dining area was closed. They were open for take-out only. We took our lunch platters and left. On the way out of town, along SR70, we happened to notice picnic tables and what appeared to be a small park just before a bridge. I believe it was the American Legion Park. Anyway, we drove down the road toward the park. We were surprised to see what was lined up along the road before the picnic table area.


Christmas Card Lane

"Not seeing is Believing"



Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed. - John 20:29 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Ed)


From the DeSoto Chamber of Commerce, various schools and businesses contributed to Christmas Card Lane. What was marvelous about this find, was the theme! Growing up we listened to stories of Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Ole Saint Nick, etc. But...I was baptized and raised in the Catholic faith. I was fortunate to attend private schools taught by the Sisters of the Poor Child Jesus and later the Sisters of Notre Dame.

Current holiday movies are more about Santa and less about the true meaning of Christmas. I've heard arguments as to when Christ was born, where he was born, and so on. Taking a look at the bigger picture, dates and times are irrelevant. The true Christmas was and is the birth of hope, joy, and love. We celebrate this every year.

Over these last few years, especially in my golden years, I was becoming increasingly disheartened over the Christmas holidays. The use of Santa Claus and the story behind Saint Nicholas was lost among the shopping sprees Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. So...when we happened upon this unique and wonderful find along Christmas Card Lane, I felt joy and hope that all is not lost.


Get Inspired


We took a moment to look at the bigger picture! Christ was born more than two-thousand years ago, and he's still alive. Let us remember and keep the spirit alive. Our heavenly father is talking to us all, let us listen. Happy New Year to everyone and Keep the Faith!

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Prayer of the week:

Give Thanks
I give thee thanks, from the bottom of my heart, for all the mercies and blessings bestowed upon me and my family. Please continue to watch over us and preserve us from all evils, and favor me with many graces and inspirations. [please meditate here on our Lord’s mercies] Let me never be ungrateful father, for you are all good, all loving, and gracious unto me.    – Amen.
 

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