Glorious July Miracles…


Just when the heat of July slows me down to a southern drawl… a miracle happens. It sneaks up on me every year. When hydrangea blossoms look like tight pincurls, when roses sulk- fed up with the humidity; the front porch ferns whine for church fans and ice water; even impatiens lay down their heads and weep…that’s when the Glory Bower trees quietly begin to bloom.

Hummingbird wings whir around her. Butterflies flitter on her pale green shoulders. Fat bumblebees stir slowly around her like plump fairy godmothers- coaxing the lacy summer ballgown onto Glory. Her ladies in waiting, the Crepe Myrtles, have on shocking pink and raspberry corsages. But Glory is a real Southern Belle, never breaks a sweat, not one bead of perspiration. Glory Bower trees put down deep roots- they are my sweet homebodies, staying close to the windows so I can chaperone and gaze as the Miracle of July unfolds.



When every other flowery thing begins to close up shop for harvest, the Glory Bower is just getting started; dabbed with honeysuckle fragrance, she’s a subtle reminder of another July Miracle– one that got her start, early one sunny summer morning in July. Like the Glory Bower she seems to thrive on sunshine but her real secret is her deep roots close to home. A fifth generation southern belle of St. Clair County, she is named for her father and grandfather. She is a true miracle. Before her mother turned twenty the doctors said she would never bear a child. After seven long years of waiting…this child was born, a true blue miracle. Even the doctors said to her momma and daddy- ‘Take her home and enjoy her, you’ll never have another one.’ She was so tiny, her long name didn’t seem to fit so she was nicknamed for the southern sunshine she was born under. Her momma sang ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ as she rocked her miracle on the porch swing. Her daddy played his guitar and sang his baby girl to sleep to-‘You are My Sunshine’. The pediatrician noted the baby hardly had a hair on her head but made up for it by having the longest eyelashes he had ever seen; a neighbor said- ‘It’s a sign of good breeding when a baby is bald headed’…her momma just smiled and made batiste bonnets with ruffles and lace.


She could talk before she could walk at ten months! She was a born teacher-lining up dolls and stuffed toys, she would ‘teach school’ when she was barely three years old. Her teachers  remarked that her ‘sunny name’ suited her just right! Always an honor student, with a beautiful voice that was rivaled only by her skill on the clarinet, she was voted, ‘Friendliest’ in high school, and graduated with full honors from college, before earning her masters degree in education. She grew up so fast her parents felt as if she blinked her long eyelashes and was all grown up! She has taught hundreds of school children how to read and to love school like she always did. She is a fine Southern lady and a wonderful teacher! Camellia’s Cottage can’t imagine life around here without children in it- we’re glad she’s one of them.

If you ever find yourself wondering if God still performs miracles just look to the Glory Bower tree, which miraculously blooms so cool and sweet in the heat of a July summer and remember our July miracle.  Today’s her birthday, join us in wishing her a day filled with sunshine, the faint fragrance of honeysuckle and perhaps a gentle rain…

Love y’all, Camellia

p.s. Those doctors don’t always know everything… 21 months after this miracle? Another miracle baby girl was born on a sweet day in May! Believe in miracles, watch for them…they are all around you! Can I get a Glory Hallelujah?

Miraculous Staircase…


I have been in some of the great cities of this great country and always I go to the great Sanctuaries. Santa Fe is no exception, the St. Francis Basilica is gorgeous and inspiring- however, sitting beside the great cathedral is a small Gothic chapel, thought to be the first of that type architecture west of the Mississippi, the Loretto Chapel. Our Lady of Light Chapel was modelled after Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and was constructed in the 1870’s to serve as a chapel for the Loretto Academy for young women, operated by the Sisters of Loretto.

A serious design flaw was discovered after construction- the tiny chapel had not included a staircase to the choir loft. To install one would decrease the seating capacity and seriously affect the beauty of the design. It was suggested that the young women could ascend a ladder to sing, however this would have not been proper or safe.. The Sisters sought Divine Guidance by calling for a Novena to their patron saint, Saint Joseph, the Carpenter. For nine days they prayed. Upon the ninth day, the last of the Novena, a mysterious carpenter appeared, who called himself Jose. He said he had come to design and build a circular staircase to the choir loft.

He arrived with a donkey loaded with only three tools- a hammer, a saw and a T square; and tubs in which to soak the wood. The stairway has 33 stair treads in two full 360 degree turns with no center support, nor is it held with any side supports, the full weight rests on the bottom tread. Testing throughout the years has revealed no nails, no pegs and no glue were used in the construction. Further, as science as progressed- the wood has been tested; recent tests revealed- the staircase does not appear to be constructed of any known type of wood found in the entire world.image

Upon completion, the mysterious carpenter disappeared, without seeking payment. No records could be found by the Sisters for the purchase of the wood or any building materials. The carpenter was never found. Engineers, architects, scientists and historians marvel at the design, the materials and construction techniques employed; there is no known duplication of the design of the staircase-though extensive research has been done throughout the years. The only modification was to add a handrail ten years after construction. A movie was made of the.Miraculous Staircase and books have been written. Every effort seems to have been made to disprove the miracle.


However, I have been there more than 3 times- though I am no scientist or theologian-I can attest to the fact that I have felt something holy, something miraculous, something undetermined by my human mind whenever I have seen it. The Chapel of Loretto is privately owned, it no longer belongs to the Catholic Church. For this staircase to have remained instead of being destroyed when it was sold, for it to have survived for almost 150 years and withstood the scrutiny of those who would wish to dispel it’s origins, is miraculous. To stand in awe of it, is to stand in the presence of what I have come to thoroughly believe is a true miracle, wrought by an Holy God through a mysterious Carpenter Who Heard and Answered the fervent prayers of His Own. I am blessed to have been a witness to the beauty of Loretto Chapel and the Miraculous Staircase.image

Weddings and Special Services are still held at Loretto Chapel, the staircase is roped off but was used well into the 20th century. All donations to the Loretto Chapel go toward the retirement funds for the Sisters of Loretto, the Chapel of Light. I hope you are inspired by these unretouched photographs of the Miraculous Staircase. Have a Blessed Lord’s Day. It’s a Day to believe in Miracles, I do…I hope you do too.

Love y’all, Camellia

Miraculous Staircase books and movies found on for more information



imageBirthdays are the best time to send a handwritten note. I know, I know…it’s fun to find a funny card, or let someone else express the sentiment- but somehow I think seeing ‘Happy Birthday’ handwritten makes it more special. Here’s a few things I like to say…

  • ‘You are a miracle !’
  • ‘My life is richer because of you !’
  • ‘ Life is sweeter with you in it!’
  • ‘Let’s eat birthday cake!’
  • ‘Today we celebrate you!’

Adding a gift card or some cash in a little purse or wallet is always a good idea-imageAnd since we have a birthday girl at Camellia’s Cottage in May- I did some window shopping at JCrew –

J Crew ‘bling’ jewelry with classic clothing is what the girls around here like! And they had eye-popping displays! The clothes were striped or solid and cotton sweaters, tee shirts, checked shirts and jeans, lots of denim in fact. Go birthday shopping!

Birthdays are also a great time to take a fun trip- May is a great time to head to the beach!

*Allie Mac recommends –

  • Gulf Shores, Perdido and Orange Beaches on the Gulf of Mexico
  • Go over to Pensacola to see the Blue Angels fly.
  • Take a tour of Historic Mobile.
  • Relax at the Marriott Grand Hotel and Spa at Point Clear. The guys can play a round of golf on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course there-or fish off the pier while the girls go to the spa!
  • Stroll around Fairhope or Magnolia Springs on Mobile Bay- that’s always a good idea.
  • The food on the Bay or Gulf Coast is the best seafood you will find anywhere, any time… image

Allie Mac got so excited about that, she mapped it all out! You have to wonder about anybody who wouldn’t want to go to South Alabama! *We’ll drag out this map again later on…

And here is one of my personal favorite things to do on my birthday or any day! image Go get a cup of cappuccino! What a way to say ‘I love you!’ with that sweet little heart the barista makes! (That’s Italian for that guy whippin’ up that fancy coffee!) Whatever way you choose to say ‘Happy Birthday!’ – big or small, I hope you will do it- a birthday is different than other holidays- it is specific to the person.  Remember their day and say- I’m glad you were born!

So- to the adorable birthday girl at Camellia’s Cottage –

  • ‘Happy Birthday! We love you!’
  • ‘Our life is richer with you in it!’
  • ‘Let’s celebrate you!’ ‘You are a miracle!’
  • We hope your birthday is filled with all the good things life has to offer – including cupcakes and shopping, getting some sand between your toes and freckles on your nose!

And to all of those who have a birthday today, in May or any day- You are a ‘milagro’ in any language! We hope all your birthday dreams come true!

Love y’all, Camellia

J Crew

Marriott Grand Hotel and Spa

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

Alabama Department of Tourism

Blue Angels U.S. Navy – for schedule go to