Category Archives: Beautiful Estates

The Inimitable Biltmore Estate

At 178,926 square feet, the Biltmore—the Vanderbilt family’s 8,000 acre estate— ranks as America’s largest privately owned home, and I’ve wanted to visit for about 50 years, particularly after hearing the rumor that we’re related by marriage to the Vanderbilts (many cousins-removed ago). In the early 2000’s (at the height of our family’s musical ministry), I was negotiating with the Biltmore to sing gospel music there one Sunday afternoon           (which they still do, by the way),  although one of my closest friends ended up planning her wedding for that same weekend, and being in the wedding preempted everything else! Nevertheless, the mystique of America’s grandest estate nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains hovered like mist in the back of my mind, and last May, after visiting many of the gorgeous châteaux along the Loire River in France, several of which were the French Renaissance inspirations for the Biltmore,    such as  Château de Blois,        Château de Chenonceau,         and Château de Chambord,         I realized that a trip to the Biltmore was still on my unconscious bucket list. So, when we attended a conference this May just 15 miles from the Biltmore, you can imagine my excitement to see this romantic tribute  to America’s Gilded Age!  Yesterday I shared photos from the gardens (in conjunction with thoughts for pondering how to overcome your past and fulfill your potential),  but today I want to share a few photos from the inside of this grand home,  which would have made a worthy location for Downton Abbey! The Biltmore Estate has 250 rooms,  including 33 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces,  a dining room table that can seat up to 64 guests,   and many novelties for the 19th century,  such as  a 70,000-gallon heated indoor swimming pool  and one of the nation’s first bowling alleys to be installed in a private residence. Only half of George Vanderbilt’s collection of 22,000 books can fit in his library, and while we were visiting, their was a special exhibition of costumes  and information related to movies that have been made  from some of the many first-edition classic books owned by the Vanderbilts. The Vanderbilt family still live in and operate their estate,  but unlike many European grand estates and palaces, the Vanderbilts allow visitors to take photographs of all the home’s treasures,  including many beautifully preserves tapestries  and gorgeous paintings.  On a sunny day, like the day we visited,  one could easily spend their entire day touring the home,  enjoying lunch at one of their stable-turned restaurant venues,  and exploring their vast gardens.  Although we loved visiting, Alan and I both left thinking
how happy we are to live in our snug little “Tanglewood Cottage.”  I’m not even sure “I want a mansion, just over the hilltop.” Do you?  Actually, I don’t care where I live, just as long as it’s with Jesus!

Jesus said, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:9-10).

“Mansion Over The Hilltop”

“I’m satisfied with just a cottage below
A little silver and a little gold
But in that city where the ransomed will shine
I want a gold one that’s silver lined.

Don’t think me poor or deserted or lonely
I’m not discouraged I’m heaven bound.
I’m but a pilgrim in search of the city
I want a mansion, a harp and a crown.

I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we’ll never grow old
And some day yonder we will never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold.” (Ira Stanphill)

(All photos, except the four related to our trip to France last May, were taken this May on our visit the the Biltmore Estate, near Ashville, North Carolina.)

Quotable Quotes from Don’t Settle for Safe

Tired of shadowboxing with your past? Feel like you’ll never overcome your present circumstances? Looking for inspiration to move forward and unleash the potential greatness inside? Don’t Settle for Safe is a classic empowerment book, geared for women and based on the life of Sarah Jakes Roberts, who overcame a teenage pregnancy and a failed marriage. Today she is not only the mother of six, she’s a bestselling author and media personality who works alongside her husband, Toure Roberts, in a ministry to Hollywood artists and professionals at One Church LA.  Speaking of greatness, I’m going to give you a long list of my favorite quotes from her book interspersed with photos from America’s largest privately owned estate, the Biltmore.  If her thoughts are a home run for you, consider reading the entire book, which is fresh off the press! “Your power to overcome is in your willingness to not just anticipate but embrace the unpredictability of life.”  (I believe true empowerment comes from God, but when we embrace God, then we’re no longer afraid to embrace an unpredictable future.)           “Your present holds more promise than anything that used to be.”  “Growth is produced through sacrifice…the gift of growing requires letting go…Letting go is trusting that we can carry the lessons from our past in our heart without constantly replaying the pain in our head.” (Spiritual growth comes from “abiding in the Vine” [Jesus], which also requires a certain amount of letting go in trust.)                                                  “Excuses are comfort zones.” “Name your pain.”   “Instant gratification often results in long-term disappointment.”   “What are your weeds? What thoughts and behaviors are keeping you from enjoying the full beauty of the heart God has given you? Your willingness to seek them out [and repent of them*]  will transform your heart,  producing compassion and creating opportunities to extend grace to others. The only way to remove the weeds is to combat them with humility. The fruit of such examination is not constant shame; it’s simple humility and grace.”  “Our greatest accomplishment comes when we have the ability to master our soul.” “If we’re going to commit to achieving a positive outlook on things that once devastated us, we will have to believe that the worst things that happened to us have the potential to work for our benefit.” “The problem with our teenage years is that often our observations are valid, but our perspective is very limited. It’s not until we’re older that we begin to tap into the compassion necessary to learn from those observations.”  “The last thing you want is to create a life that has been built on fear.”  “Your freedom cannot be contingent on whether or not  you’re able to convince others to embark upon the journey with you. It’s up to you to follow the path that leads to your liberation. Freedom and peace can inspire change within your family.”  “Combining your work and faith with His plan for your life creates momentum that transforms everything that should have stopped you into fuel that propels you into a destiny far greater than you could have imagined.”  “Did you know that your obstacles were assigned by God?”  “Confidence in God’s plan helps us to draw the conclusion that if we did not receive something it is because we did not need it.” “Whether your family was perfectly constructed or undeniably fractured, the people in your life did the best they could. You may be thinking to yourself, Well, that wasn’t enough! I’m telling you it was. Some parents are dealing with insecurities so great that all they can do is self-sabotage anything or anyone that comes close to them. You have to come to a place where you forgive your parents for not providing everything you needed.”  “As a match needs friction to produce a flame, the challenges you’ve faced are the friction you need to produce a light that shines for the world to see.”  “When you have encounters with true friends, you feel both humbled and empowered to do what’s right. I know from experience, though that what we need is not always what we desire.”  “Loyalty based on your position is dangerous because the one constant promise of life is change…The best type of loyalty comes from a friend who is loyal to who you are.”  “Unforgiveness will transform you from a victim to a villain.” “Hurt people hurt people…our own pain blinds us from seeing others’ pain.”  “People who do bad things are not always evil; often they are broken.”  “Closure is never about another person. It is reconciliation with one’s self” (and I would add, “and with God”).  “This is who I am. This is where I’ve come from. I am evidence that broken crayons still color and there is still life inside of you.”  “After dropping fifteen pounds the first moth, it became clear that not only was I capable of losing weight, but I was also capable of taking control of my normal and creating something better.”  “Your life is the road map that will help other people avoid detours that delay on their road to manifesting a destiny greater than those moments that have ailed them. Don’t throw it away because you don’t like the marks that nave been made. Fold it neatly, tuck it away in your heart, and preserve its beauty because someone is going to need evidence that even lost people find their way home.”  “From the depths of your sorrow, God wants to manifest blessings that far outweigh any hurt you’ve experienced.”  “Regret robs you of the possibilities that exist in the present. You don’t get do overs in life because you don’t need them. You needed to mess up. You had to make those mistakes. Your heart had to be broken. You needed to lose your way.”  “Our greatest responsibility and challenge in the quest for higher thinking is daring to find light in our darkest situations.”  “When you begin to truly expect and trust the love of God, it significantly changes your paradigm. I want for you to live in a palace of expectations.” “I pray that this book reminds you in spite of what you’ve gone through that you are still lighter than darkness.”  “The first thing to understand about purpose is that it will always be rooted in service toward the betterment of humanity…Your purpose is the answer to a problem that plagues our world.”  “You must be willing to let go of the dream you have for your life so that He can give you His plans.”  “It is the mystery of your potential that makes it clear God’s thought are higher than ours.”  “God never takes away anything from us that He doesn’t return with interest.”  “We foolishly believe that the best way to safeguard our heart is to avoid setting high expectations. You cannot avoid disappointment by becoming comfortable with low expectations.”  “People who have been hurt cheat other people out of the sense of security that stabilizes a relationship.”  “The only way our love reaches perfection is through handing our heart over to God and asking Him to show us our fears. Don’t give another person permission to hold your heart unless you know their hands belong to God.”  “You should never enter into a relationship with someone you would not want to become.”  “I realized that my tomorrow held more promise than my past held pain.” “You’ll feel like an outcast, but it’s okay. Great people are never fully understood, just admired.”  “Find Him in everything you do. May every word out of your mouth be a reflection of Him. That’s how you will become a light that the world cannot diffuse. When your light burns for Him the world will have to take notice.”  “I’ve discovered that growth requires a discipline to do what most cannot because they are unwilling to risk discomfort. We stay in relationship that damage us, remain in positions that stifle us, and maintain mentalities that don’t progress us. I wanted to break the strongholds that exist when we experience negativity. And to challenge women to see the good that’s come from the most difficult experiences…We must each commit to constantly live life searching for the strength to face the vulnerabilities that make us uncomfortable to become unstoppable The only thing standing in your way right now is you.”Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

*I am editorializing here

A Grownup’s Garden of Verses

My father was an English professor (who named his firstborn son “Robert Louis”), so I grew up knowing and loving Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses and read them  faithfully to my own children when they were tots. Stevenson’s poems were full of fun and bits of wisdom, such as:

“A CHILD should always say what’s true
And speak when he is spoken to,
And behave mannerly at table;
At least as far as he is able.”
(Praise God for the mercy implied in that last line.)

Today, in the spirit of Robert Louis Stevenson, I’d like to share a garden of thoughts and photos for adults, because at the CMDA (Christian Medical and Dental  Association) National Convention last week I heard many memorable ideas, and during that same week Alan and I visited the Biltmore Estate, where their spring gardens were bursting with beauty. Here are just a few gleanings from both experiences. You may have heard some of the quotations before, but I’m pretty sure the flower photos will be unique, unless you were just at the Biltmore last week!  🙂  “If you took all the matter but removed the space and energy from the 7+ billion people in the world, they could fit in a sugar cube.” (Dr. Richard A. Swenson) “The essence of reality is non-material.” (Dr. Richard A. Swenson) Among other things, he told us to think about these invisibles: Time, mathematics, gravity, sound, dark matter, dark energy, magnetism, love, joy, peace, grace, character, consciousness, spirit, soul, salvation, prayer, repentance, righteousness, faith, hope, God. (Consider 2 Corinthians 4:18, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.“)

“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.” (C.S. Lewis) “We are spiritual beings having a physical experience.” (Dallas Willard) “Joy is at God’s right hand. Whose hand are you holding?” (Ellie Lafaro) “No wonder obedience has ‘die’ in the middle.” (Dr. John Patrick) “Heresy is a good thing in the wrong place. Truth must trump loyalty.
Teach your children the hierarchy of virtues.” (Dr. John Patrick) “When you forgive, you set a prisoner free…and that prisoner is yourself!” (Ellie Lafaro, whose husband, Frank, is the CEO of Prison Fellowship International) “We can’t be sinless, but we can sin less.” (Dr. Gene Rudd) “Sometimes submission is learning when to duck so God can hit your husband!” (Ellie Lafaro) “Aim at Heaven, and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’:
aim at Earth and you will get neither.” (C.S. Lewis) “Yes, there is a GPS for heaven: “God’s Perfect Son!”
(someone shared this with Ellie Lafaro) “God wants us to give him our treasures and our trash.” (Rev. Bert Jones) “There’s no U-haul behind a hearse.” (Ellie Lafaro)  “Don’t settle for being informed rather than transformed.” (Rev. Bert Jones) “Fail to plan, and you can plan to fail.” (Ellie Lafaro) “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God,
who is sending a love letter to the world.” (Mother Teresa)  One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after;
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple
” (Psalm 27:4).

(All but the first two photos were taken at the Biltmore Estate near Ashville, North Carolina last week.)

Ever Looking for a Quiet Place for a Retreat? Consider “The Cove!”

Have you ever had a twinge of envy that monks can live in solitude and enjoy a lifetime immersed in prayer and meditation? Twenty years ago, Alan and I had a friend who spent one week every year at a monastery down in Kentucky, and that seemed wonderfully appealing, although it never seemed practical with a brood of children to tend. However, a quiet retreat space struck us as almost utopian in appeal, so you can imagine our amazement and joy when we discovered just such a retreat opportunity in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. We were on our way “home” (to our conference site) after visiting the Biltmore Estate, when we just happened to notice a sign for Billy Graham’s “The Cove.” Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew there was a Billy Graham Library
and thought there might be some sort of museum related named The Cove, so I asked Alan if we could at least see how far it would be from the main road. As a matter of fact, if you get off I-40 at Exit 55 and turn right, it’s right there! Wow! We were totally enthralled! Tickets to the Biltmore are $65. At The Cove, we just drove in and were treated to a royal tour of their chapel… for free! Kindly volunteers explained the mission and work of Billy Graham, and introduced us to a small but impressive collection of photos concerning his lifetime ministry. Alan and I both became Christians (along with millions of others) through the ministry of Billy Graham, so it was especially meaningful to see photos from his first and last crusades. (Our son Jonathan attended his last ministry in NYC back in 2005.)A collage of photos also gave us a small, sweet window into Billy’s family life. Afterward, we were offered time to enjoy the Chatlos Memorial Chapel,
where people are welcome to play the piano or organ, sit on the chairs, or worship God standing at their 400-year-0ld English pulpit!Everyone who comes is also free to visit their prayer room, or pray while wandering through Ruth Graham’s Prayer Garden. And, people are invited to stay as long as they please. Before leaving, volunteers share the gospel (John 3:16) via a gorgeous painting
and give visitors the opportunity to write out prayer requests, which are gathered and will be prayed over at least 5 times. Our guide also prayed for us before we left. Praise God!

I don’t know if unbelievers might find this uncomfortable, but we absolutely loved the way everything was presented and didn’t find anyone intrusive or the atmosphere pressured at all.

The whole experience was one of kindness, openness,
and a warm invitation for visitors to stop and rest awhile, enjoying the presence of God, which is almost palpable there.

Before we left, we also learned that there are on-going opportunities throughout the year for personal retreats, spiritual enrichment sessions with some of America’s finest theologians, and concerts by Christian musicians. Their 1,200 acre campus also includes a youth camp and other opportunities as well as their lovely Bible conference center. Did you know? I didn’t! Would you like to go sometime? I would love to! Maybe we’ll see you there.  🙂(For more information, visit TheCove.org or call 1-800-950-2092. You might accuse me of advertising, and I guess I am, but it’s because I’d never even heard of The Cove and feel like it’s the kind of place where your soul and spirit will be truly nurtured at a charitable price! If you’re really broke, they even offer applications for scholarships.)

(I took all the photos at The Cove on May 4, 2017.)

Impressions of France: Selfies and Otheries

Eiffel Tower in eveningEverywhere you go these days, people are busy taking selfies. Have you noticed? Eiffel Tower. 5.6.16I have, and I’ve also noticed that selfifying special places is fun and contagious! Alan and Kathi in Chapel 5.16.16My cameras are too old to embed geographical data into the photographs, Gardens at Versaillesbut my cell phone does, Ville de Blois Gardensso everywhere we went on our recent tour of France, The Château de Chenonceau selfieI made sure to take at least one picture on my i-phone Versailles. Outsidejust to keep my records straight Chateau Villandry through someone else's sunglasses!and help me remember what I’d seen. The Palace of Versailles, Château de Versailles copyFor example, after we’d taken in all the grand sites in Paris Blois. France skyline from Ville de Bloisand then visited about a zillion châteaus along the Loire River Valley,Chateau Chenonceau Argonne Forest? it was hard to remember which was the Château de Chenonceau, Chateau Chevernyand which was the Château de Cheverny. Château de ChaumontAnd, what’s the difference between the Château de Chaumont Chateau de Chambord copyand the Château de Chambord, anyway? Chateau Chaumont SelfiesIt wasn’t too hard to remember some of them. Versailles Hall of MirrorsI mean, everybody recognizes the Hall of Mirrors in Château de Versailles, right?Chateau Villandry copy And I could never forget the  Château de Villandry, Chateau Villandrybecause it has some of the Europe’s most amazing gardens. Chateau Cheverny GardensI finally remembered them this way: Chateau Chenonceauthe Château de Chenonceau spans the Loire River. Chateau Cheverny. MarlinspikeThe Château de Cheverny is famous as the prototype for Tintin’s Marlinspike Chateau Cheveryny Hound Selfie??& their gorgeous pack of hunting dogs. (One wanted me to take a selfie for him.)Chateau Chaumont Gardens Château de Chaumont is famous for their modern art gardens,Chateau de Chambord Selfie and the Château de Chambord is the most massive château Chambord Chateau Card Roomin the entire Loire River Valley, boasting some 440 rooms! Leonardo da Vinci invention at Clos LuceLeonardo da Vinci retired at Clos Luce, and many of his inventions are there. Mont St. Michel AbbeyWell, this introductory post is going to be too long, Ville de Bloisbut I wanted to tell you that Eiffel Tower Selfiewe saw all sorts of marvelous places in Paris besides the Eiffel Tower. The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile copyWe climbed the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile and watched sunset over Paris.Louvre Alan +KathiWe spent hours at the Louvre and Rodin Museums. The Avenue des Champs-ElyséesWe meandered along the Avenue des Champs-Elysées The Roue de Parisand enjoyed the evening ambience of the Roue de Paris.Sacré-Cœur everybodyOne evening we splurged on a taxi ride up to visit the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Highest Spot in Paris . Sacré-Cœurwhich is the highest point in Paris. Bell Tower in Notre DameWe attended services at the Notre Dame on Mother’s Day, and then we climbedThe Bell in Notre Dame up the bell tower to see where the hunchback of Notre Dame (maybe) lived.Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Garde in EtratatThen, during the following week, Omaha Beach. Francewe visited many of the World War 2 sites along the misty Normandy Coast. Mt. Saint Michel Alan and KathiWe spent a day at Mont Saint Michel, Bayeaux Tapestry copyand we learned about the Norman Conquest via the ancient Bayeaux Tapestry. Mont St. Michel copyOne day we walked 12 miles and climbed 52 flights of stairs! Flight to VeniceThere were times when we got very tired…but it was worth every moment!  🙂Looking out at ocean from Mont St. MichelYou know, the world is an amazing place, Chambord Chateau Alanand selfies (and otheries) are fun, Mona Lisa at Close Luce with Kathibut there’s a lot more to life than just taking pictures of ourselves, isn’t there? Chateau Chervery GardensAs we go along drinking in all the lovely experiences of this world, The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoilelet’s remember that our God is the greatest of all. Loire RiverHe is the One who created the earth Villandryand has made possible every good and beautiful thing we see around us!  Peony at Italian VillaGive unto the Lord the glory due unto his name;
worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2).

Monet’s Glorious Giverny in Spring

Gorgeous colors at Giverny. France. 05.09.16Kathy asked yesterday which site in France was our favorite. Kaleidoscope of Colors at Giverny. France. 05.09.16Wow! That’s a hard one! Mt. Saint Michel 05.13.16Alan said Mont St. Michel, and there’s definitely something to that!Monet's Home at Giverny. France. 05.09.16 I feel like we came home with a lifetime of unforgettable memories, Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16and that narrowing it down to one favorite is nigh unto impossible Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 1given the uniqueness of the various scenic places. Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 20However, for an over-the-top sensory experience in color, texture, fragrance— Bird at Giverny. France. 05.09.16even sound…Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 9in fact, pure, unmitigated beauty everywhere I turned, Kathi at GivernyI would vote for Giverny, Artful Abandon at Giverny. France. 05.09.16 the sublimely riotous gardens so artistically designed by Claude Monet.Claude Monet. Wiki public domainMonet (1840-1926) was the great father of Monet. Painting of his lily pond—and most prolific contributor to—French impressionistic painting.  Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 7Ten years ago, Alan and I visited the fantastic gardens of GivernySpring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 14 with two of our kids (Kathy and Jonathan), Givernyand we were enthralled. Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 21Five years ago, I reflected on those visions of glorySpring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 17 while visiting Manito Park in Spokane, Washington with Jon’s family  Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 19(https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2011/09/10/monets-giverny-reflections-of-glory/).Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 24This May, Alan and I visited again, this time with our two youngest, Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 13Stephen and Joel, and I have to say that if anything, Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 23Giverny is even more than ever an unforgettable kaleidoscope of color Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 8and perfumes! Japanese Bridge lush with wisteria at Giverny. France. 05.09.16The Japanese bridge over Monet’s lily pond Lily pond by Claude Monet at Giverny. France. 05.09.16(basis for his most famous paintings) Wisteria at Giverny. France. 05.09.16was bursting with exuberant wisteria, Tulips and Forget-me-nots at Giverny. France. 05.09.16and cheerful beds of tulips interlaced with forget-me-nots Columbine and forget-me-nots at Giverny. France. 05.09.16and a profusion of other spring-blooming plants Paths beside the lily pong at Giverny. France. 05.09.16were joyfully overflowing their bounds along every path. Sitting on bench at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 14We could have sat transfixed for hours at any resting place Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 2without ever taking in all the intricacies right before my eyes. Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 5Even if I possessed all the money in the world, Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 29I couldn’t imagine or produce such a magnificent display of brilliant color. Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 11The impact was so overwhelming that I just found myself laughing Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 27and blinking my eyes, Kathi on bridge at Giverny. France. 05.09.16like I’d walked into a Thomas Kinkade painting of heaven! Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 12In fact, it did make me think of heaven, Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 6which will be more glorious Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 26and exotic Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 10and dazzlingly beautiful Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 4than we can imagine. Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 16Are you ready? Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16. 30Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Giverny. France. 05.09.16Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:1-16)Tulips Spring flowers blooming at Giverny. France. 05.09.16.(Yes, all these photos are from Giverny, taken a couple of weeks ago [except for the photo of Claude Monet from Wiki, and Mont St. Michel, taken a few days later]. May is perhaps the most beautiful time to visit!)

Mt. Vernon: Warmth, Charm and Simplicity

Mt. VernonNo wonder George Washington loved his home at Mt. Vernon. Potomac River at Mount VernonIt’s nestled into 500 acres of rolling woodlands along the Potomac RiverWashington Monument and Airplane in Washington D.C. just 17 miles south of Washington D.C. Capitol Building Washington D.C.and less than an hour commute on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Sunset along Potomac River, VAOf course, there was no such highway in George Washington’s day, Ronald Reagan Airport Washington D.C.nor were there any lovely airports… Ronald Reagan Washington National Airportnor was Washington D.C. even America’s capital city until 1800,
the year after Washington died! Flight leaving Washington D.C.So, in order to serve his country, Washington spent the lion’s share of his career Carriage for George Washingtontraveling along muddy trails via carriages to New York and Philadelphia, George Washington's Vehiclesonly enjoying brief respites at his beloved Mt. Vernon estate. Touring Mt. VernonTouring Mt. Vernon with Liz and Chuck made me admire the Washington family even more than I had, and in light of the current political situation in America,Geroge Washington QuotesI became quite curious about what motivated them.www.eupedia.com Corsica Travel GuideWhen you compare their home to the estates of European military heroes
during that period (for example, Napoléon Bonaparte),Mt. Vernon KitchenMt. Vernon was remarkably modest and unpretentious. Pantry of Mt. VernonAlthough they were known for their extraordinary hospitality,Peanut and Chestnut Soup Mt. Vernonthey were never considered extravagant. Bread Pudding. Mt. Vernon Inn Restaurant. VA(We enjoyed two of their favorite dishes at the Mt. Vernon Inn Restaurant:
Peanut and chestnut soup with bread pudding for dessert.)George Washington reflecting on U.S. GovernmentWhat made George and Martha Washington willing to serve the cause
of their country as true statesmen Robert Frost speaking of George Washingtonwithout seeking fame or fortune? Red Angus Cattle at Mt. VernonI kept wondering, but it wasn’t until I found the quiet siteMemorial to George Washington at Mt. Vernon of the memorial Martha made for George, Inscription on George Washington's Memorial at Mt. Vernonalong with her beautiful tribute to his goodness (and I’m not sure if there’s a comparable affirmation to be found among the monarchs of the world), Tomb of George and Martha Washington john11.25-26that I felt I’d found the reason for his true excellence of character. John 11.25-26 Inscription above tomb of George and Martha Washington Mt. VernonIt’s written on the simple inscription hanging above their graves:

I am the resurrection, and the life saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” St. John XI.25.26   Washington's Last Birthday. Painting 1798 by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1895The end of the verses that were written above their tombs was not recorded, but it was, “Believest thou this?” To me, it’s obvious that they did believe the words written in that verse, and that their lives demonstrated that faith beautifully!

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). Reconstructed Quarters for slaves and farm hands Mt. Vernon VA
(I took all the photos at Mt. Vernon and in Washington D.C. this spring except the picture of Napoléon Bonaparte’s estate, which is from the Corisca Travel Guide, http://www.eupedia.com )