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Lorelei is all about making videos lately.  She has her own YouTube channel, with a weekly posting schedule, and she has custody of my iPhone more than I do.  Today she was telling me that she no longer enjoys watching the videos made by one of her subscribers, because they all involve makeup, whether she is putting it on her American Girl dolls or herself.

“You know what I really don’t like, Mommy?” Lorelei asked me. “Before she puts on her makeup, she says ‘Ugly!’  And she isn’t ugly.”

My heart sank.  The little girl she was talking about is ten years old, just like Lorelei.  She shouldn’t be wearing makeup AT ALL, in my opinion, let alone thinking that she is ugly without it.

When I was a little girl, my Catholic school did not allow us to wear makeup (a policy they should have maintained, if you ask me).  I did not start wearing makeup until the middle of my first year of high school, and most of the other girls didn’t wear much either.

By the time I graduated from high school, though, I wore makeup daily–eyeliner, shadow, mascara, blush, lipstick, powder.  I didn’t go out without “fixing my face.”

I think it was after I started having kids that one day I realized that I thought of my naked face as ugly.  And I didn’t like that.  I knew it was wrong to think that my real face, the one that God gave me, was too unsightly for the outside world to view unless I “fixed” it first.

So you know what I did?

I stopped wearing makeup.  I stopped wearing makeup until I could look at my naked face and see “normal” instead of “ugly” when I looked at my reflection.

These days, I wear makeup for church (if I’m not running late) or for special occasions.  When I put it on I feel dressed up and fancy and pretty, but I don’t feel ugly when I don’t.

I told Lorelei all of this, but she still seemed a little anxious when she showed me a picture of the little girl in question–a BEFORE picture. “See, Mommy?  Isn’t she pretty?”

Of course I said she was, and it was true.  A ten-year-old face cannot be improved by makeup.

If you ask Lorelei (as I often do), “Who’s the prettiest girl in the world?” she’ll promptly respond, “ME!” and she might even add, “In the UNIVERSE!”  What’s wonderful is that she believes it.  When she gets on the scale it’s in the hopes that she will have GAINED weight because she’s proud of how big she is growing and she will tell that number to anyone who asks her.  She might even volunteer it.

I don’t want the world to take that confidence away from her.  But I know it will.

The Prettiest Girl in the Universe

If you live in West Knoxville and like shortcuts, you’ve driven past it hundreds of time–this old, old graveyard not quite at the corner of Westland and Ebenezer, sitting right in front of the driveway to the Maple Grove Inn.  Nameless, signless, churchless, this cemetery has been a final resting place for Knoxvillians for about 200 years, and is still being used today.

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It has a name, actually, although I had to look elsewhere to find it–two names, really, depending on your source.  KGIS calls it Ebenezer Cemetery; Find-a-Grave calls it Cedar Springs.  KGIS lists the cemetery itself as the owner; other sources indicate that it is owned by Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church, which locals will recognize as a prominent congregation with a large complex of buildings a mile or so north of the cemetery.

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If Cedar Springs owns it, you wouldn’t know it from their website.  I was disappointed by the absence of any reference to the history of the cemetery or even to the history of the church–which surely must be a rich one after 200 years.  As you can see above, whoever owns it no longer maintains the sign that once indicated (I presume) grave locations.

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Maple Grove Inn (where I have attended a wedding or two in the past) is no better.  Their website says nothing about the history of the home and the people who once lived there, let alone anything about the cemetery, despite the fact that at least some of its people are buried here:

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This isn’t going to be one of those posts where I complain about the condition of the cemetery.  At least someone is mowing this one regularly.  Sure, there are a few broken stones, and some of the plots could use some hand weeding, but relative to some of the places I’ve visited, it’s in decent shape.  There are broken and unreadable stones, and a lot of bent wrought iron, but I suppose that’s to be expected in a place of this age.

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The many wrought iron encircled plots are a highlight of the cemetery.  Just take a look:

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I didn’t find as many graves of babies and little children as usual, but probably that’s because so many of the old stones are illegible.

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A precious one from us is gone
The voice we loved is still
A place is vacant in our home
Which never can be filled.

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Now her little voice is silent

And her dear head lying low

How I miss my precious darling

God in Heaven can only know.

How often does our thoughts on this silent tomb rove.

And when I say illegible, don’t think I am exaggerating:

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Check out (if you can decipher it) the inscription below–laid to rest in Knoxville, this person started out life in Iceland.  I would love to know what prompted a move to Tennessee.

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I love the hand-lettered stones.  Just imagine someone in the throes of grief making this stone to ensure the protection of the memory of a loved one.

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Here’s another one that looks like there might be an interesting story behind it.

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I’ve shared some poetic epitaphs above, but even the shorter ones will touch your heart.

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An honest woman here lies at rest

As e’er God with his image blest

If there’s another world, she lives in bliss

If there is none she made the best of this.

Friendly graveyard tip:  If you want to make sure your stone remains above ground and readable, don’t get one of these.  Just don’t.  You may think that you’ve picked a well-maintained cemetery and don’t have to worry about this kind of thing, but you never know.

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This is one of the earliest graves here.  Since the church was established in the late 1700s, I don’t know where they were burying people before that, but the earliest burial here was 1821.  The most recent was 2015.

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I’m sharing this because so far I’ve never seen another stone like it!

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That’s one of the fun things about cemeteries this old:  the variety of stones you encounter.  I thought this one was especially pretty.

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Many of the bigger cemeteries in Knoxville–Woodlawn, for example–have a special section for the original part of the cemetery where the older graves are.  What’s nifty about this one is that it’s all mixed up, resulting in juxtapositions like these, which I also love for the diversity of the folks who have come to lie here in more recent years:

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Here’s a name I recognize, and you will too, since Peters Road is just a few blocks away.  I am sure this cemetery is brimming over with people important to the history of the area–it would have to be, with its age and size–and it was frustrating not to be able to read so many of the stones.

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Presumably this is a member of the Baker family whose house is thankfully preserved as a restaurant at the corner of Peters Road and Kingston Pike.

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Here’s another name I’ve seen around the area, and someone is still leaving flowers on this 114-year-old grave.

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Here are some cool memorials to long-ago veterans:

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As I’ve said, many stones are unreadable in this graveyard, but luckily for us there is Find-a-Grave.  So I can tell you that some of the more frequently occurring names here include Beal, Bean, Bond, Brown, Coker, Medlin, McClellan, Nelson, Peters, Stone, Swan, Tillery, and Walker, some of which should sound familiar to anyone local.

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Victory Chapel Baptist Church (formerly Ebenezer Methodist Church, the successor of which–I’m assuming–is just on the other side of Ebenezer Road) stands right across the driveway from the cemetery, and it, too, has a graveyard–small, flat, immaculately kept.  You’ll see many of the same names here, and in fact it looks to me as if a few people were relocated here at some point.  I was very surprised when I was doing my bit of research on Find-a-Grave that I have a friend buried here.  Also, Conrad Cook, a noted gospel singer and songwriter, rests in this cemetery.

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So, in sum, this is a lovely historic cemetery and I enjoyed my visit there.  But my time there was tinged with sadness too because this is a place that could be–and should be–so much more.  See, whoever this cemetery belongs to, as old as it is it really belongs to all of us with ties to this area, because it’s our history too.  And when we can’t read the stones, that history gets lost.  The PEOPLE get lost.  That’s a tragedy and it doesn’t have to be that way.

Obviously there used to be a sign here with at least some information.  How much would it cost–both in money and time–to put up a sign with a name of the cemetery, maybe a plaque with a little of its history, and a list of who is buried there and where their graves lie?   What can those with the responsibility for taking care of graveyards do to ensure that when we inscribe the words “Gone but not forgotten” on a stone, we are telling the truth?

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If you enjoyed this and want to read more of my cemetery stories, you can find them HERE.

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I can’t believe that somehow I forgot to participate in Answer Me This last week!  The ever-awesome Kendra managed to have a baby AT HOME like two days ago and still post this linkup.  Since it’s my last chance for this summer (when AMT goes back on hiatus until whenever Kendra decides to bring it back) I hope no one minds if I go ahead and answer both sets of questions!

Last week’s questions:

1. What’s currently on your To Do list?

I have stopped making super long to-do lists because it depresses me to go back and see the same items week after week.  I’ve started picking one extra task to accomplish each day if possible.  Tomorrow’s task is a multi-part one:  get ready to go out of town.

2. Better type of superhero: magic/radioactive powers? Or trauma/gadgets/hard work?

I don’t want trauma.  And I have to work hard enough already.  So I’ll go for magic/radioactivity.

3. Finding out if baby is a boy or a girl before birth: Good idea? Bad idea?

I think it’s a bad idea and I wish we couldn’t do it.  Back in the day, people would ask if you wanted a boy or a girl, and the answer would always be I don’t care as long as it’s healthy.  Now it’s much more common to express a preference.  I’m not sure what the connection is but I feel like there is one.  Also, I feel like knowing the sex sets up expectations about the baby before it even arrives.  Having said all of that, we found out three out of five times.  John wanted to find out about #1; I didn’t; they couldn’t tell so she was a happy surprise.  We found about #2.  With #3, having one of each already we figured it didn’t much matter so we didn’t find out.  With #4 and #5 we found out.  It’s hard not to find out when you can.

4. Have you ever appeared on a stadium jumbotron?

No.  Sadly, I rarely have the opportunity to go to a UT Vols game, which is the only place that I am going to be in close proximity to a Jumbotron.

5. Are you more book smart or more street smart?

Book smart.

This week’s questions:

1. What’s your favorite grocery store splurge?

Some people might think crab claws are a splurge, but they are one of the few things William will eat so they are actually a necessity.  I’m pretty frugal about the groceries.  I can’t really think of anything I splurge on.

2. How’s your penmanship?

I have very nice handwriting thanks to eight years of daily cursive instruction at St. Joseph School and lots of hard work and practice.

3. Do you have a “Summer Bucket List?”

Not this year.  That’s another thing that leads to disappointment and guilt.

4. What’s the best thing on the radio right now?

I hardly ever listen to the radio.  I prefer silence when I have the choice.  John plays a station with lots of 80s songs that I like a lot.

5. Ice cream or frozen yogurt?

I don’t eat either regularly.  And I’m not sure I can even tell the difference.

The end and thank you again to Kendra for bringing back the linkup for the summer.  Please take a look at the other entries right here.

Today I had the honor to stand by the deathbed of a dear and loyal friend.  Today I had the privilege of being with him to ease him out of this life.  And today I also had the responsibility of deciding that it was time for that life to end. Today we put our dog to sleep. Over 20 years of pet owning, two dogs and eight (at least) cats, and I’ve never had to do this before.  We’ve lost cats, but they’ve had a way of just disappearing.  By the time we realized they were never coming back, we had grown at least somewhat used to their absence.  We’ve never known in advance that today would be the day we would say good-bye forever. Anyone can tell you that I’m no animal lover.  But I loved OUR dog. Balthazar We got Balthazar from the pound almost 12 years ago, when he was about eight months old, because Jake begged for a dog.  We named him for the first Sholly to come to the New World.  We thought he was part German Shepherd, part Shiba Inu, maybe part Collie.  It was a good mix, whatever it was.  He was strong and gentle, smart and stubborn, protective and loyal. Once I had him tied up on the porch while some men were cutting trees in his yard.  When they were done I heard them knocking on the side of the house, because he was so threatening that they were afraid to come to the door so I could pay them.  Half an hour later, I heard him whimpering.  I came out to find this vicious beast crying as he patiently allowed our three-year-old to pull on his ears. He loved to run away so much that we designed an “airlock” on our fence to prevent it, but he always came back.  He loved chicken so much that he jumped a three-foot-high baby gate to steal some once. But last night he lay in front of an open door and would not get up to go out.  And this morning he turned his head away from the piece of rotisserie chicken I offered him. We always said that we never wanted our dogs to suffer, that we would never put them through anything just to keep them alive because we would miss them, that we would let them go when it was time. It was time. They could try to stabilize him, the doctor said.  They could try a transfusion.  But after it was over he told us he was so glad we didn’t try to save him, that we had done the right thing. Lorelei and William came with me.  John is out of town, Emily was working, Jake was too upset.  They were brave.  We hugged him and petted him, and William patted me.  Lorelei told him he was going to a better place. It was peaceful.  It was easy.  It was quick.  His suffering was over as ours was beginning.  Lorelei sobbed all the way home. Dogs are naturally good, Lorelei said later.  They must go to some kind of Heaven, maybe not the same one we go to.  I’ve never been one to assert that all dogs go to Heaven, but now I find my theology is uncertain where my dog is concerned. RIP Balthazar

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Creative K Kids

It’s been a long time since I’ve linked up to What We’re Reading Wednesday, and I’ve missed sharing books with you.  Fact is, I don’t read as much as I once did.  That’s sad but true, and it’s the computer’s fault. Because it would be more accurate to say that I still read a lot, just articles and blogs instead of books.  I read great articles and blogs, and I share them with my Facebook friends.  But it’s not quite the same. So here’s a sampling of what I’ve read (relatively) recently that I thought it would be fun to share.

I got this one via Blogging for Books, and then took forever to read it.  My fault, not the book’s, because it’s engaging, easy to read, and interesting.  And there’s probably not much I can tell you about Paleo that you haven’t already heard, because I’m way behind the times.  I will say this:  people who complain about his ideas without having read the book . . . obviously haven’t read the book. :-) It’s far from being the had-core-you-must-eat-this-way-or-else diatribe people make it out to be.  And a lot of it makes sense to me, even if I would never choose to eat that way full time.

I was given Teardrops That Tango to review by the author.  This is a book that will get your attention from the first page.  It tackles all kinds of rough situations: child abuse, suicide, mental illness.  I know it sounds like a downer but it has a happy ending.  It’s definitely painful to read, though, especially because you know it’s the true story of someone who has suffered a lot.  But that’s not supposed to be the message you take away from it.  Be aware that although it starts out like one it really isn’t a strict autobiography, but also combines resources for those going through rough times with inspiration and advice.  It’s ambitious for sure and that can make it a bit uneven but it’s a story you won’t easily forget.

The above constitute comfort reading for me.  Our whole family loves Star Trek.  We have many, many Star Trek novels, which are some of our few books that survived the destruction of our home by fire four years ago.  We’ve been watching one Star Trek episode each night for months now, and having made our way through TNG and TOS (yes, in that order!) we are now experiencing Deep Space Nine for the first time!  Anyway, those first two books are sequels to the second-to-last TOS episode, which put me in the mood to read them; and having read them, I was in the mood to read more, and the next ones pictured are two of my favorites.  If you like Star Trek, you will like these books.

And I just started the Grisha Trilogy this week, and I am already on the third book!  Emily (grown up daughter) has been urging me to read these for awhile.  Emily reads like I used to read.  She keeps the library busy and she buys books too. Christmas and birthday lists are and always have been full of books.  And of course it’s more fun if you can discuss what you read with someone else who’s read it too.  I don’t know why I was so reluctant to start these.  I think I was afraid they would be demanding or exhausting but they aren’t.  The author has set her world in something resembling Russia in the 1800s and the familiarity makes it easier to immediately relate to.  Obviously the story is engaging and interesting or I wouldn’t be reading it so fast.  Whether I would recommend them I cannot say until I see how they end, and how the romance plot resolves.

Emily has already informed me what series she is going to make me read next, so I’ll have something else interesting to write about next time!

What are you reading? You can tell me in the comments! And for more reading suggestions, visit the other posts in the linkup!

photo_hollywood-wax-museum-hollywood-sign-photo-op-pigeon-forgeWe’re going to Hollywood!

Well, okay, not really. :-)

But we are going here, which is the next best thing, at least if your travel is restricted to Tennessee:

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We drive by these places all the time on our way to Gatlinburg, y’all, and I’ve always been curious.  I mean, who wouldn’t be:

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And now, thanks to my status as a blogger for U.S. Family Guide, we will get to experience these attractions in the near future, and I will be able to share my opinions with you (because I will be provided with some free tickets in exchange for an honest review).

Here are some sneak peeks at what awaits us:

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Enormous fun awaits you below the Great Ape of Pigeon Forge! But the 40,000-pound primate isn’t the only star you’ll see at the world-famous Hollywood Wax Museum. In fact, you can pose with the biggest stars, while learning about their pets, pet peeves, and accomplishments. Movie buffs, pop culture lovers, and everyone who wants to step into the spotlight with the stars will enjoy the fun, entertainment, creativity and artistry. Plus, with the All Access Pass, you get to take a ride up into the mouth of Great Ape and see the spectacular Smoky Mountains from the VIP Observation Deck (weather permitting).

Are you The Chosen One? In Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors, find your way through the mirrored corridors hidden inside the Castle of Savannah to save Princess Hannah from the curse of Ugly Hetty. You’ll have to make your way through 288 potential turns among hundreds of mirrored walls and archways and several sections where you see infinite reflections in every direction.

Join the battle against evil at Castle of Chaos, the world’s first 5D haunted attraction. Your mission: help the Paranormal Professor find out what supernatural activity is lurking inside. Soon you’ll find yourself in an all-out shooting adventure where the highest scorers appear on the screen.

Finally, in Outbreak – Dread the Undead, you must stop a worldwide viral outbreak! Chemacorp might mean well with Alpha Strain, but the gene-altering substance turns humans into zombies. The challenge? Rid the world of Alpha Strain and prevent a total zombie apocalypse!

My Readers receive $2 OFF ALL ACCESS PASS – http://smokymountainskids.com/coupon.php?regionid=1131&bid=11227&lid=14352&dealid=1362
Please visit HERE for more information.

I’m not sure when we will make our trip, but I will let you know all about it!

When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. ~ Mark 6:34

That’s the last line from yesterday’s Gospel, providing inspiration for me as I respond to this month’s 1000 Speak for Compassion link up.

This month’s topic is Acceptance, which Jesus demonstrates perfectly in the reading above.  See, the disciples had just come back from preaching and teaching and healing.  They were excited to tell Jesus about their adventures, and I’m sure he was excited to hear about them.  But all the people wouldn’t leave them alone.

Jesus knew his disciples needed to rest; they hadn’t even had time to eat anything.  He suggested they withdraw to a “desolate place” so they could be alone and rest.  But the anxious crowds figured out the plan, and pursued them on land as they traveled by boat.  So that when they came ashore, thousands of people (the same 5,000 people who are going to be fed miraculously later) were already there waiting for them.

Now, I don’t know about you, but compassion would NOT have been MY first reaction to this ambush! I would have been irritated, and maybe I would have gotten back in my boat and tried for another, more desolate location.  But this is where ACCEPTANCE comes in.

Jesus accepts his role as shepherd to these frightened sheep.  He gives up his plan of rest and relaxation to care for them.  Can we do the same?  When you are at work, and it’s almost time to leave, and another customer comes in with an annoying concern, can you ACCEPT that this is where you are supposed to be and have compassion for the needs of that person?  When your Facebook friend posts something you disagree with, can you ACCEPT that you have different opinions and have compassion for him? When you are trying desperately to get a moment alone, and your kids are following you around everywhere, can you ACCEPT that your role for this season is to take care of them and have compassion for them?  When your spouse seems demanding and you feel like you are already giving 120%, can you ACCEPT that part of marriage is offering compassion even when you aren’t really feeling it?

ACCEPTANCE is the first step to compassion in these situations.  We cannot “feel WITH” someone without first accepting our role and our call to be of service to that person.  Without acceptance, there is a wall of resentment that prevents true compassion.

#1000 SpeakWant to learn more about 1000Speak?  Start here.  And be sure to check out the other entries in this month’s linkup.

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