The Practice of Being Present

Life is so hectic.

For all of the "time-saving technology" there is today, we are a generation that has no time. We are hurried and harried, rushed and stressed.

I think that we have lost the ability to just be.

To be present with the ones that we love.

To enjoy the sweet laughter of family members.

To cherish the friend that is next to us instead of the twenty that we can't stop texting.

The sister or friend that desperately may just need an ear but we just can't stop checking our social media long enough to be there for them.

We are connected to the nth-degree but are we connected how it really counts?

Our kids practically come out of the womb with electronic devices. They can wield a tablet and their mommy's cell phone but do they know how to play? Do they know how to pretend? Have they ever chased bubbles? Or butterflies? Or caught fireflies?

And the biggest question is, have we done it with them?

Have we played hide and seek?

Have we curled up and read bedtime stories, of knights and princesses and castles ancient?

Today, we think that we can be anything, and everything but the truth is somewhere along the line we have forgotten to just be.

We have lost the art of stillness.

Of eye to eye contact.

Of true friendship.

Of time well spent.

When was the last time you didn't have any electronics around you? No trilling whistles or bells and then just sat on the porch and watched the sky painted in brilliant hue change to indigo blue. My mom always told us that we need to take notice of sunset, for God painted it just for us... hoping we would just take a moment out of the business of our lives and take notice. To thank Him for the beauty that surrounds us every day but we are just too busy to see.

When was the last time you sat with the family at the dinner table and talked, and laughed and prayed? That you asked how another person's day was and then sat and listened?

When was the last time you played a board game with the TV off and no cellphones?

That you sat cuddled up with your little ones and read aloud to them?

Technology and the internet was supposed to draw us closer but in reality, I think it has done the opposite.

Gone are the days of family, the connection of friends.

What are your fondest memories with family?

The best times that you spent with friends?

Give us some of your ideas on how to be intentional and spend time with those that are the most important to us all and let's pick one or two to do each week as we learn again, or maybe for the first time, to just be...

Holy Land Tour | The Sea of Galilee

The story of my Israeli experience is no longer in any particular order. Life sometimes interrupts the best intentions of staying on track and life has certainly been busy these last month’s causing me to take a break from writing. While praying where to start again, I’ve landed on the Sea of Galilee.

We left the beautiful King David Hotel and traveled north to reach the Sea of Galilee also known as Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, and Lake Tiberias. It took the entire day because we made several stops along the way, including getting baptized in the Jordan River at a spot they believe likely where John baptized Jesus – awesome!

Our second hotel was not as nice as the first, especially the room itself. Well, nothing really but we were not here to enjoy the hotel -right? Right! A great feature, however, was a large patio overlooking the beautiful Sea and surrounding hills. Each morning, we would fill up our plates with a bounty of food and sit on the patio to enjoy the fabulous view. Loved it!
Holy Land Tour Israel

The morning after our arrival, we ate breakfast rather early and left on a surprise excursion. It was a beautiful morning and promised to be a warm day. The sky overhead a fabulous blue, however, the hillsides were a little hazy due to dust storms in Syria, directly across the Sea. Our destination turned out to be only a short distance from our hotel- the harbor. There tied to the docks were two very large 1st-century replica fishing boats. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that not only were we going to board them, but sail out onto the sea!

Our group was large so the owner had tied the two boats together so that we could all fit. They had laid many plastic white patio chairs on the deck for seating. We made our way to the back. Due to a shortage of seating, which was ok with me, Eric and I sat on the wooden steps leading to a platform at the stern of the ship where among other things was a large flagpole. Slowly we traveled out to the middle of the sea. It was so peaceful, quiet and relaxing which felt fabulous since we had been on a continuous mock 5 pace. They had Christian music playing softly in the background.

Holy land tour Israel

Once we reached the middle, they dropped anchor. The first thing they did was announce that they had a tradition to raise the flag. As an honor to their American guests, they raised the American flag along with the Israeli flag and played the American National Anthem as well. This always makes me cry and being out on the Sea of Galilee doubly so. Pastor Jack and Amir then gave us the lay of the land followed by a Bible study.

We are surrounded by Biblical history. Magdala, home of Mary Magdalene. Gennesaret, Chorazin,

Matthew 11:12 – “Woe to you Chorazin”, Capernaum (Home of Peter and site of many miracles; Bethsaida (home of Phillip); Mount of Beatitudes. Continuing on, Bethsaida, Mathew 11:21 “Woe to you Bethsaida”; and even the suspected location of the drowning of the swine.

To be floating on the sea where we are absolutely positive Jesus not only sailed but walked is more than emotional!

holy land tour Israel

All four of the Gospels describe this event, and why wouldn’t they! This was an event that at first scared the daylights out of them and then convinced them that he was, in fact, the Son of God.

First, let me explain that the Sea of Galilee is 680’ below sea level and the climate is semi-tropical with warm, moist air. Surrounding the lake are hillsides, some up to 2000’ high in the east towards Syria.

The weather at the top of the hills is cool and dry. The sea is relatively shallow as lakes and seas go, the deepest part about 200’ deep. All of these conditions are perfect for violent storms to suddenly occur with no notice. The winds coming from those high cools hills, whip down to the middle of the shallow warm sea and small boats especially are in real trouble. I’m told even in March of 1991 a severe windstorm caused waves as high as 10’ went onto the shores causing property damage.

holy land tour Israel

After one of Jesus’s teaching sermons, he made His disciples get into their fishing boat, instructing them to go to the other side of the lake ahead of Him. Jesus needed some alone time and went up on the mountain to pray.
Matthew 14:24 reports “Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves for the wind was contrary.” 
Mark 4:37 says 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.

As you can imagine, they were afraid. The fourth watch is the darkest part of the night, before dawn. The disciples had been painfully rowing towards Capernaum approximately 3 or 4 miles (John 6:17). Suddenly, they think they see a ghost. They believed that right before death you see spirits so they naturally assumed they were about to drown in the raging sea. But it wasn’t a ghost, it was Jesus!

Holy land tour Israel

25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous,[b] he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
33 Then those who were in the boat came and[c] worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
holy land tour Israel

Can you imagine? I was floating here in this beautiful spot picturing this event in awe and wonder.
We were then challenged. “What is the wind in our life, and do we try to impose our will on God or pray that His will be done in our lives?” Do we believe Psalm 89:8-9
O Lord God of hosts,
Who is mighty like You, O Lord?
Your faithfulness also surrounds You.
9 You rule the raging of the sea;
When its waves rise, you still them.
I was reminded, that we rarely listen, but Jesus is there whispering or yelling to us during the windstorm “Be of good cheer. I am here!” “Take heart and do not be afraid”

Are we gripped by fear during our windstorms? If so, it will rob us of life and the blessing of seeing Jesus. Peter walked on water until he realizes the waves are enormous. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus and let Him calm the winds and the waves. Peter as an old man in 1 Peter 5:7 reminds us:

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

God Bless You All



Debbie lives in Southern California with her husband Doug and her children and grandchildren.

Scripture is taken from the New King James Version Copyright @ 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

How To Make Chicken Wire Napkin Rings

We love unique things here at the cottage, things that tell stories, and remind you of bygone days. I've been kind of obsessed with chicken wire since I saw the dresses made of it on Pinterest -I think I hear angels singing every time look at it. Yes, one day I will get around to making them (don't tell Mr. Cottage, I don't think he could take it). But in the meantime, I'll content myself with making napkin rings to go with my country napkins. 

What you will need:

Fake flowers

Decide how big you want your napkin rings to be, cut the wire and roll into a circle. Line up the ends and twist together leaving a hole in the center for the base of your flower.

Insert two fingers on either side and stretch the wire into the correct shape.

Squeeze the base of the flower through the wire, you want it to fit snuggly. If there are any loose wire twist them together around the flower.

This article contains affiliate links. Affiliate links cost you nothing extra but help to support the Rosevine Cottage Girls so we can continue bringing you recipes, travel posts, garden and farm posts and so much more. 

Dachau Concentration Camp

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Dietrick Bonhoeffer
Today we are visiting Dachau. Everyone else on this trip but the guy I paid to drive me has backed out, they didn't think they could handle it or just weren't interested. In a way I'm not sure I can... but that is how it should be. You shouldn't be able to handle the amount of evil that happened in this place, it should bring tears to your eyes and make your heart constrict. It should rip your heart out as your feet echo over the same places thousands of others walked and died, and as you walk out that gate where so many have before, it should leave you changed.

For years I've read books by and of the survivors of these camps, I've wanted to visit one for myself. I can't explain why... maybe to understand what they felt, hated ripped from family and home, frightened. Maybe it was simply to put a picture with the books I've read. As we drew near, I was struck how normal the tree-lined street looked. No hint of the evil that lay beyond.

The sky seems too blue here, the cold air pushes us on and my feet crunch crunch crunch on the gravel. There are few here, here to experience this place or perhaps they are looking for something, meandering these silent paths, the crunching of their shoes the only sound wrapped in bubble coats and winter hats.

Concrete and wire, plain wood floors and bare bulbs. I can't image how hopeless they must have felt... cold, sick and hungry. No one was coming to save them, God must have seemed so far away... You are so very powerless in a place like this with evil all around. Why did people wait? Why was it none of our business? Shouldn't it have been?

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5 NIV

Images from Schindler's List and Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Life Is Beautiful play in my head as we move through the buildings I can almost see them...

The man I paid to bring me here fidgets nervously. He is angry. He does not understand why I am here. Doesn't understand the importance. I'm stunned silent to hear that he has never heard of concentration camps, doesn't care. He just wants to leave.

I walk away from him. Drawn into the haunting stillness of the place. The horror of the place...

Barracks at Dachau concentration

Dachau was established in March of 1933, the first of many that would follow under the Nazi's. Heinrich Himmler officially described the camp as "The first concentration camp for political prisoners". It was built on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory.

Related Article: Visiting Nuremberg Part 1
Main building & gate at Dachau
Main building of the camp, prisoners entered the camp through this gate.

Initially, prisoners were German communists, social democrats, trade unionists and political opponents of the Nazis. Other prisoners were added to the mix over time -Jehova's Witness, Roma's (gypsies), Homosexuals and "Anti-Socials" and repeat offender criminals. During the early years, few jews were inturned here, those that were belonged to one of the groups or were convicted of violating the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 (Reichsburgergesetz -Law of the Reich Citizen- deprived Jews of German citizenship. Only Germans were considered citizens of the Reich. The second law Gesetz zum Schutze des Deutschen Blutes und der Deutschen Ehre -Law of protection of German blood and German honor- forbid the marriage between Jews and Germans. This law also prohibited the employment of maids of German descent under the age of 45 in Jewish households, and Jews from flying the German flag.

gate of Dachau

Early in 1937, the SS. began construction on a large complex on the grounds using slave labor. The prisoners slaved under horrible conditions until it was finished in mid-August 1938. The camp remained almost unchanged until 1945. The camp was a model camp for the others that followed and a training center for SS concentration camp guards.

With increased persecution, the numbers of Jewish prisoners soared, on November 10 - 11, 1938 in the aftermath of Kristallnacht more than 10,000 Jewish men were interned. Most were released after only a few weeks or months, many after proving they had made arrangements to emigrate from Germany.

The camp is divided into two sections,  the camp and crematorium area. The camp area consisted of 32  barracks including one for clergy imprisoned (in December of 1940 Berlin ordered the transfer of clerical prisoners held at other camps, making Dachau the center for the imprisonment of clergymen holding 2720, of those 1034 died or were killed) and one for medical experiments.

The camp administration was located near the gatehouse at the front gate, the camp also had a kitchen, laundry, showers, workshop and prison block. The courtyard between the prison and central kitchen was used for executions. An electrified barbed-wire fence, ditch and wall with 7 guard towers in circled the camp to prevent escapes.

Political prisoners cells

In 1942 the crematorium area was constructed next to the main camp, it would include the old crematorium and new barracks that would house a gas chamber. There is no evidence that the gas chamber in barracks x was ever used to murder human beings, instead, prisoners underwent "selection" those thought to be too sick or weak to continue working were sent to the Hartheim Castle "euthanasia" killing center near Linz Austria. Formerly a mental asylum the first 98 of its thousands of victims were taken to the gas chambers on January 15th. Family members of those murdered would receive fabricated death notifications many stating heart failure and circulatory collapse as the cause of death. By the time the Nazi's ended the practice of killing the sick, weak and elderly in the gas chambers of the death castle in 1943 the castle had claimed 2,595 lives.

Camp barracks for prisoners sleeping quarters
These are the beds that the prisoners had to sleep in. There were enough for 200 in each but ended up housing 1200 men in each.

In Dachau as in other camps, Nazi doctors performed "medical experiments" on prisoners, including high-altitude experiments using a decompression chamber, malaria, hypothermia (by putting the men in water in freezing temperatures) and tuberculosis experiments and testing new medications. Prisoners were forced to test methods of making seawater potable and halting excessive bleeding. Hundreds were killed or permanently disabled from these experiments.

Holocaust memorial
Sculpture in honor of the dead.

The prisoners of Dachau first employed in building the camp were forced to build roads, work in gravel pits and drain marshes. In summer and fall of 1944 to increase war productions satellite camps under Dachau administration were established near armaments factories throughout southern Germany. More than 30 subcamps in which 30,000 prisoners worked almost exclusively on armaments. Thousands of prisoners were worked to death in these subcamps.

Catholic memorial
Looking at the Catholic Memorial the Catholic Victims

As Allied forces advanced toward Germany, the Nazi's began moving prisoners from camps near the front to prevent the prisoners from being liberated. Transports from the evacuated camps arrive continuously resulting in deteriorating the already horrible conditions. After days of travel with little to no food or water, the prisoners arrived weak and exhausted often near death. Typhus epidemics swept the overcrowded camp.

Prison barracks foundations
Foundations of the many rows barrack's are all that remain here at Dachau.

April 26, 1945, American 42nd & 45th infantry division and 20th armored division approached the camp. Fleeing the oncoming liberators, more than 7,000 prisoners were forced on a 70-mile death march to Tegernsee. Any who could not keep up were shot, many died of starvation cold or exhaustion along the way.

fence ditch and guard towers
Armed Nazi guards stood one watch 24 hrs a day in the seven guard towers in the Dachau camp while two rows of electric fencing surrounded them.
On April 28, just hours before liberation a train and 40 cars arrived, it had left Buchenwalk four weeks earlier on April 7th filled with more than 5,000 prisoners. 2,000 parished on the circuitous route that took them from Thuringia through Saxony to Czechoslovakia and into Bavaria. Only 816 prisoners survived the trip.

One of the two crematoria buildings at the Dachau Camp

On April 29, 1945, American forces liberated the camp, as they approached the camp they discovered more than 30 railway cars filled with the bodies of prisoners brought to Dachau and forgotten in the haste to retreat. In early May of 1945 American forces liberated those forced on the death march to Tegernsee.

The number of prisoners incarcerated at Dachau for the 12 years it was in operation exceeds 188,000, the number of those who died in it or one of its many subcamps is believed to be greater than 28,000.

Statue of the unknown prisoner

To The Dead To The Reverent To The Reminder...
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9 NIV.

End of log.
Mr. Cottage

 Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

We have been loving our fall weather here in middle Tennessee, the crisp mornings are so nice after such a hot summer. I love sitting out on our porch with the telescope and looking at the bright stars snuggled up in a sweatshirt with a mug of something hot that tastes like fall. 

This recipe is AMAZING, soft and pumpkin spicey (that is a word right?) and covered with delicious crumbles. These are perfect for your fall get together's or to go with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. 


2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Celtic Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon Organic Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Organic Nutmeg 
1/2 Teaspoon Organic Allspice 
2 Cups Organic Mashed Pumpkin 
2/3 Cups Spring Water
4 Organic Free Range Eggs
1 Teaspoon Organic Vanilla
In large mixing bowl combine your dry ingredients. Mix well. In an electric mixer mix wet ingredients. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet until completely combined. 


3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup organic raw sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

In a bowl mix ingredients, pour in butter and stir. 

To Finish:

Cut baking paper to fit muffin tin. Pour your batter into muffin tin, sprinkle crumbles over the top. Bake your bread at 350 F. for 15 minutes or until a toothpick when inserted comes out clean. 

This article contains affiliate links. Affiliate links cost you nothing extra but help to support the Rosevine Cottage Girls so we can continue bringing you recipes, travel posts, garden and farm posts and so much more. 

When You Find Yourself In The Desert

Hot dry sand sifts between my toes dusty and dirty are my feet as it pours into my sandals. A cool replenishing bath- cold water over my parched lips and tongue an oasis in this place of death and dying.

I feel like every part of me that was alive and vibrant is shriveling up like everything around me. Nothing can survive this barren arid place. And still, my feet plod on and on. I won't turn back. I won't submit to the call.

One foot in front of the next. Carrying me further and further away from you. From life itself, from your life-giving water.

The more I choose to walk on the more my heart turns to stone and bitterness fills my mouth. My soul peels and cracks making me a little less the person I was.

Worldly pleasures- a mirage of my own making. In this desert self-reliance, independence, self-importance goad me on in this place of death.

Depression and bitterness are my rewards. Your voice is almost faded now. A dull hum almost hidden by the droning of my heart beating in my ears from the sun burning into my head.

Moments of semi-clarity come when I pause this endless walk and then a gentle breeze that tickles past my ear calling me to come back, come home. To forsake the journey and return to a place of living water. To green lush fields. Life all around. But I brush it away. Like a buzzing fly that circles my head and my heart turns harder as I turn and walk away.

...Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. The parched ground will become a pool and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived. Isaiah 35:6-7 (NLT)
Only He can turn your arid wastelands into lush plains again. Return to Him, fall into His arms and
soak in His presence, let Him fill the cracked and peeling places. Let Him restore what has been lost, and fill your heart like a deep well. Come to Him and let the living water refresh you, drink it in and be immersed- let it wash away the desert sand, the sweat and tears, the heat and be made whole again- maybe not who you were but something new and beautiful. Come to Him.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™New Living, NLT, and the New Living Translation logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers. Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.New Living, NLT, and the New Living Translation logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers.

When Is It Time...

When is it time to walk away… To burn the bridge, to watch the sparks fly upward- to let the flames dry the tears… To find the shattered remains of an already broken heart.

When do you pick up a shield and rebel against the pain others inflict so callously to fight the dragon spewing lies?

When do you run, and let the rain wash away the mud others have slung- and repair your tattered wings. 

I hold my breath, the wind calls to me, beckons me to take flight. To rise like a phoenix from the ashes. Beauty from pain, life from death. Yet guilt holds me here, as the thunder roars for me to run the lightning pleads for me to break away. Can I go? 

Can I leave them all behind, the dandelion wishes, and the skipping brook. Can I leave it all behind, the memories and promises bind my wrists demanding I stay, demanding that I shoulder my burden and keep moving. 

So many things I could have said, so many times I could have walked away without a backward glance. Maybe it’s me… perhaps I’m the real dragon. Perhaps I deserve these chains. I must be like a poison… destroying all I touch. Like a flame burning all that I find, all that dare come near. Cancer that sucks the life away. The ice I erect around my heart only melts letting the arrows find their mark. Why did I let the walls fall? Why did I trust yet again? Why must the pain suck the breath from my lungs?

If only my heart was titanium, impenetrable to attack. If only I could seal it off and refuse pain's knock upon my door. The pain of breaking away is nearly as bad as staying. My arms are tired, my legs weary, my eyes burn from too many tears … I can’t go on. 

The waves beg me to stop swimming, the fights all gone. Surrender it begs. I was a fool to believe, to believe you wanted me. I was a fool to believe I was safe. You asked me to stay and yet you despised me. 

The storm calls me to escape the dragon’s walls, to stare the dragon in the eye and raise my sword. But is it time? 

Can’t you see that my heart is already a wasteland? Must you crush the poppy who dared to push its head above the soil of a battlefield? Leave the wounded in peace, the stones have already been scattered, the walls torn down the gates ripped asunder, the tears long cried out. Courage is dead. My dreams hang on pikes along your city walls for the world to mock. There is nothing left and yet you return to finish a job already done. To make sure no sign of life returns. You think me a curse- I see it in your eyes. 

If I were a dragon your spears would ricochet off my scaly hide if I were a phoenix the flames wouldn’t burn. A spark to tinder, a flash across the sky. The smoke rises, the fire burns bright unable to be put out. It’s sparks fly upward…