God Always Has My Back

The holidays are fast approaching and for those of us who have lost a loved one it stirs up emotions. That has been my case these past few days. But today, God cheered me up and made my day a wonderful one.

The church is one of the sponsors for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program. One of the church volunteers, Marjorie, was looping a string on the Angel Tree tags to hang them on the tree. I was curious, so I stopped by her desk and asked what she was doing. She went on to explain the program  and how it works. She mentioned that each tag has a child’s name with information such as  age, favorite color, their needs with sizes and their desired Christmas gifts. The tags are hung on a Christmas tree and members and friends can select them, purchase the gifts, and return the gifts to the Angel Tree. Maybe I’ll grab one I thought and proceeded to my office.

Once in my office I called my husband and told him about the Angel Tree Program. We decided to participate.  After our call ended, I thought about my angel in heaven. He’s been on my mind a lot lately.  God knows how much I miss him. “I can’t get Richie a gift, but I can get a gift for a young child and make their Christmas a happy one,” I thought.

I returned to the reception area and asked the volunteer, “When can I grab my Angel Tree tag?” and there it was. The tag read “Ricardo,” not “Richard”, but “Ricardo.” It was staring right at my face on the very top of the pile, I just stared at it in shock. The volunteer was oblivious of what was happening. She said, “Well I found a little girl’s tag if you want it.” I responded, “You know what, I’m going to take this one right here.” Look at the name, it says Ricardo. My son’s name was Ricardo” and I proceeded to explain to her what had just happened. She smiled at me and said, that’s God’s way of letting you know your son is always with you and that you can indeed get a gift for Ricardo.

Tears were already filling my eyes. I felt that God was listening to me and letting me know that Richie is always with me. God always has my back. Thank you Lord for such a beautiful message.

If you’re interested in adopting a child for Christmas visit  https://www.tsamm.org/angeltree/adopt.dpi.


From Venice to Florence

Leaning Tower of Pisa

After our fabulous two-day stay in Venice, we hopped on a motor coach bus with our tour guide, Simone, to continue towards Firenze (Florence) through Tuscany. The views were breathtaking and though the trip was quite long, I enjoyed it very much.

On the way we made a small detour to the city of Pisa’s famous Piazza del Miracoli to visit the leaning tower of Pisa, the Baptistery, and the Duomo . By the way, did you know that it took about 200 years to build the tower? No wonder it started leaning. Well, that’s not the real reason it started leaning. But the history is interesting. To learn more about its history click on the link provided:   http://www.towerofpisa.org/leaning-tower-of-pisa-history/.

There were many tourists visiting the tower. There wasn’t much time to wander around since we had other prearranged stops, but were able to capture some spectacular views of Piazza Miracoli and its buildings on camera. All are beautiful and impressive. Its history is interesting and worth the tour. There are many restaurants to choose from and wouldn’t you know there was a McDonald’s about 1300 feet away and they had the best spot of all restaurants around. The street vendors were very aggressive trying to push their merchandise on tourist to purchase. At one point we were surrounded by quite a few but managed to get through to our bus. Uff, that was tough!

Our tour continued towards a local Tuscan farm and winery in Montecarlo, Fattorial Il Poggio, (https://www.fattoriailpoggio.net) in the countryside where we enjoyed wine tasting with local food specialties. The meal and wine were delicious. We were in a great group – with some quirky folks. In our group there was a lady who decided to drink beer instead of tasting the wine. She claimed she was taking medicine and couldn’t consume alcohol. We could tell it didn’t sit well with the host. Among the group was a Franciscan Priest who had a bit too much wine. He grabbed a bottle and took it with him on the bus. I don’t recall every thing he said and did but I do remember laughing at his actions. There was a lot of singing on the bus as well – Volare, Que Será, Será, That’s Amore and other famous Italian songs. I think we were all tipsy from the wine.

We arrived at Florence after 5:00 p.m. and checked in to the Gran Hotel Cavour (http://www.albergocavour.it/en/).  It’s a beautiful hotel and our room had spectacular views of two church towers. The hotel was just about 1400 feet from Piazza del Duomo, so we headed out to wander the beautiful streets of Florence. We had dinner at Yellow Bar Restaurant next to the hotel. It was quite a large meal which consisted of the antipasto (starter), the primo (appetizer), the secondo (main course), the contorno (side dish) and the dolce (dessert). We were hungry so we went for the full course of a starter which I don’t recall what it was, ravioli as an appetizer, steak with caramelized onions as our main course, spring risotto as our side dish and of course, we could not leave out their delicious tiramisu for dessert. It was a lot of food but so delicious. With full tummies there was nothing else to do but return to the hotel and go to sleep.

The next day began with a Florence city tour. We visited the Academia of Fine Arts and saw Michaelangelo’s famous statue of David. The tour was nice, but  I wasn’t impressed with the  museum’s tour guide or knowledge. He focused too much on how Michaelangelo was Catholic yet created a statue of David without circumcision. I did not care for that detail nor consider it relevant and don’t think it was part of the history. Other than the tour guide, it was a great experience. We visited a leather factory and saw a demonstration of their process.  We then walked to the Duomo and viewed the baptistery’s Gates of Paradise. We continued with our tour guide, Simone, to the museum of Signoria Square, Ponte Vecchio and ended at Mercato San Lorenzo for some shopping.  That night we gathered with our group for dinner at an authentic Tuscan restaurant in the countryside. Another delicious meal with lots of live entertainment, wine and prosecco azul for an end of day. Florence was amazing!