be amazed!

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First of all, it’s been a joy and a delight to watch kitty-kitty Walter (our new pet) get used to his new surroundings.  He is curious and “literally plays with everything”, says Dave.  You see in the photo that he is being tempted by Sherlock’s twitching tail.

Second of all, it’s 8:07 in the morning and I’m the only one awake!!  Seth NEVER sleeps past 7 and most of the time is up even earlier.  I just found him sleeping in the addition on the couch.  He spent the night in there because of the air conditioning.  So I wonder, is he still asleep because 1) he didn’t sleep well? or, 2) he COULD finally sleep peacefully out of his hot upstairs bedroom?  Whatever the reason, it’s nice to sit here and type………….

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“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”  Psalm 16:11 (thank you, husband, for sending along the verse)

I was thinking this morning about the enjoyable fruits of the Holy Spirit, those only-from-above giftings of God to our souls.  In those oftentimes rare/unnoticed moments of deep spirituality when we find ourselves really able to love outside of ourselves in a mysterious way.  We have joy,  and it is unexplainable, gentleness toward every living creature, peace, beyond comprehension!  And, patience like our *big brother* Job.  These beautiful character qualities/fruits aren’t from us (we cannot muster them up, they cannot be faked) and are the Holy Spirit within us, given to us, and no reason for pride or boasting.

….the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22

For in him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28

Alas, sometimes it’s just simply hard to breath “down here”.  And this is the reason we pour over the Scriptures as much as possible, and remember, and think of Him, and pray, we do these things to stay connected, to stay reminded.  To stay breathing.

“But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.”  ~CS Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia

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Home on Earth, real Home “in the sky”……….

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We have had such hot days lately, it was pleasant to sit with my latest Newbury medal winner (I’m attempting to read them all) while the children swam in the pond……..

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….and to have Jacob walk down the hill to show me a cool caterpillar.  Thanks, Jake, for grilling us all a nice lunch yesterday!!!

At my house yesterday there were all these people:  Rich, myself, Michael, Jacob, Ethan, Caleb T, Grace, Kylee, Brittnee, David, Caleb, Jack, Seth, and Sarah.  But not all at once.  Some came for a while and then left.  Some worked all day and then came home.  🙂

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Yesterday afternoon on the couch, David helped me identify a bug using the internet.  It didn’t take us long, but seeing the different insects online filled me with the desire to go back outside to look for even more bugs with the magnifying lens attached to my camera.  It’s such fun to stand over the flowers and plants and search for insects with your eyes……….at first you see “nothing” but little by little you see 100’s of creatures……and much activity.

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This was a small moth, about the size of a fifty-cent piece.  But with my lens I can get a nice close-up.  It’s amazing to see the details.  Observe.  Study.  Be amazed.

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These pretty little white flowers grew in clusters along a thin vine-like stem.

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Meanwhile, Dave was looking in the pond for a big snake but had to make do with a little frog (sitting on his leg next to his thumb for size comparison).  He sat nicely for his portrait.

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This plant has been tearing the skin on my legs my entire life.  It’s just a tad thinner than spaghetti and grows plenteously by our stream.  One direction of the plant doesn’t scratch you, but the other direction, oh it sticks so tightly to your legs and scratches them terribly.  I’ve never identified it’s name, there is a small white flower that grows on it, maybe I can look it up in my flower identification book today.

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a cluster of silvery eggs……so beautiful!

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The band on his tail makes him special.  You can see Ambush bugs to the left of it.

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THIS IS THE BUG I JUST HAD TO FIGURE OUT.  AMBUSH BUG

The other day I saw one gripping a yellow jacket.  The yellow jacket was upside down and dead in its front claws.  It was a sight to see.  And these ambush bugs are all over the flowers right now (especially Joe-pie weed and goldenrod).  I beg you to read the link, you will be amazed.

In a nutshell, it sucks the bodily fluids out of its prey.

As my brother Dave says, “its horrifying”.

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“slurp”

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It would take me a long time to identify all these insects but I sure would like to do it.  Each one has fascinating characteristics and wears the nicest bug-clothes.

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Another ambush bug!

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And this one!  I’ve never seen it before, it was so tiny I only noticed it because I was photographing another bug nearby and saw it waving around first one tissue-paper wing and then the other.

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This bee posed so nicely, I felt as if it was just WAITING to be noticed.   Yes, you’re lovely.

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After I breathlessly captured this photo (I thought it would fly away before I could get close) I talked to my friend Lea Ann and then took the kids to music lessons and football practice.  I spent time walking around the cemetery next to the fields and then met my husband for a quick trip down town for strawberry sundaes, just the two of us, before practice was over.

When we got home, David made a chocolate cake from scratch …….

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……and we had a rain storm.  I sat on the porch to watch it for a while before bedtime…..

If you watch carefully you will see the world light up in a quick flash of lightening.

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And now it’s Wednesday.  Good morning!

You are loved.

nature photos (and knee-spots)

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purple finch at the feeder

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The glow of the pond.

I’m sitting in my room, I had to get away from Grace so I could focus.  I get easily distracted by her because we have lots to talk about (anything that comes to mind becomes a conversation).  I thought I would be all alone in here but Samantha-cat just appeared out of hiding and jumped on the bed.

Jacob, Ethan, and Grace are home for the summer and it’s wonderful (the only time it’s not wonderful is if I am over-tired or have PMS).  But seriously I do think it’s wonderful.  I’m not just saying that.  I no longer have that feeling of “I wonder what the older children are doing”–  I know what they are doing.  I can see them.  Jacob rides to work every morning with his Dad and Ethan goes to work in Jacob’s car.  I see them in the mornings getting ready.  This morning Jacob asked me where the nail clippers were, and half an hour later his brother Ethan was wondering where tweezers were, he had a sliver in the bottom of his foot from going traipsing barefoot through the woods (photos of that tomorrow, possibly).

During the day it’s still quiet.  The children have gone to work and to school.

Every evening is unpredictable family craziness.  Practices?  Games?  Someone missing (briefly)?  Big dinners, a whole pie getting eaten so fast so you better get a piece while you can, dirty bowls and cups being left all over the house, laundry piling up, homework reminders, tv turned up and up, loud talking, loud laughing, coins being thrown super hard and me getting mad about it, fortnight gaming, singing, playing the piano, telling the boys to take the garbage out, Seth can’t find a pencil, etc………going to bed and hearing the noice of the older kids getting ready to go to bed, too.  Lights being left on.  And then the house is quiet again.

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It (photographing this blog post) all started after dinner last evening, when I went out to the mailbox to mail a letter and was surprised by a wild rabbit who didn’t seem afraid of me in the least.  I stood still and he stood still.  Then, he “came back to life” and commenced his snacking on dandelions and grass.  The dandelions have turned into their moon-like state and I was amused that he picked them with his teeth at the base of the stem and ate it, end-to-top.  It was funny to watch the stem slowly disappear into his mouth with “the moon” last but not least.  I went inside to get the camera and when I returned, he was eating grass.  I am a bit concerned as the vegetable garden is nearby, newly planted with radishes, spinach, herbs, and peas.  Will he be eating that next?  I named him John.

And then I wandered around with my camera.

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I absolutely love the look of this photo of a cardinal in the tall dead tree on the edge of our property (dead tree=GIANT bird perch).

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mourning dove & male cardinal

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I stood and looked up up up into a very tall pine trees to sight this bird.  It was singing an evening song with its back to me.  Finally it looked over its shoulder and I got this amazing photo.  (I had my big zoom lens with me).

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It flew to a different branch.  I am almost positive that its a female scarlet Tanager.

Thoughts?  I never knew the females were yellow!  What a beautiful bird-couple they make.  Now I will be on the look-out for the male.  I hope I see it!!

I think I took about 25 photos of that bird and then it flew away and I moved on.

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Lady Slippers (a favorite wild flower) are in bloom now.

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Seth (9 years old) saw this photo and said, “Beautiful moon!”

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I sat and watched this duck pair for quite a while.  They were peacefully together on the stream at the dam, bathing and grooming their feathers.  The female must have enjoyed this stretch with her foot because she held it long enough for me to take several photos.  I love the curled up feathers on the male’s tail, and the purple color on the female’s wing.

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I walked up the hill and in the distance, where the water of the stream enters the dark woods, I saw a blue heron standing in a pool of water, probably finding some tasty dinner.  I was thrilled to see it and get a photo before it moved out of sight.  (It saw me as soon as I saw it and it was very suspicious of me right away.)

I went home and found the family sitting around in the living room getting ready to finish watching a movie they had started the night before.  It wasn’t a movie I was especially interested in so I got ready for bed and did some reading.  I finished a book titled, When I was a Slave, Memoirs from the Slave Narrative Collection, and it was very interesting in a sad, inspirational way.  Here is a quote I keep thinking about:

“One thing dat’s all wrong with dis world today is dat day ain’t no ‘prayer grounds.’ Down in Georgia where I was born–dat way back in 1852–us colored folks had prayer grounds.  My mammy’s was a old twisted thick-rooted muscadine bush.  She’d go in here and pray for deliverance of de slaves.  Some colored folks cleaned out knee-spots in de canebrakes.  Cane, you know, grows high and thick, and colored folks could hide demselves there and nobody could see and pester dem.”

Andrew Moss, 85 years old

It’s the concept of having a great need and therefore NEEDING TO PRAY.  It’s the idea of KNEE SPOTS.  All day long since reading it, that term comes to my mind.  When was the last time I got down on my knees to pray?  All the nature that surrounds me, and do I have even ONE “knee spot” to go to in order to pray to the God I love?  Where is my sense of great need?  Great gratitude?  Great praise?  Why go to the knees?  After all, I do pray during each day, but oh my,  in order to pray on my knees I would have to stop everything else I was doing………….and therein lies the beauty and soul-nourishment of “knee-spots”……..

“Be prepared.  You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own.  Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.  Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words.  Learn how to apply them.  You’ll need them throughout your life.  God’s Word is an indispensable weapon.  In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare.  Pray hard and long.  Pray for your brothers and sisters.  Keep your eyes open.  Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”  Ephesians 6:13-18

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These are some of the things on my mind this morning as I start the day.  I also took this photo through the window of Rich’s office, which is why it’s so hazy, but still a beautiful bird.

tuesday morning

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Good Morning!

The pie tasted even better this morning.  I just ate a piece for breakfast.  (more details on instagram).  Sunlight is flooding, FLOODING into the room and it’s glorious.  We’ve finally had warm springtime weather and I spent most of the afternoon yesterday outdoors.  I was looking forward to blogging but as soon as the door slammed behind the children going to school after a long spring break and I was alone in the house for the first time in forever, what did I end up doing?

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I turned on the tv and cleaned away to my hearts content asking myself who I was and why and how did I turn into this woman delighting in cleaning when she was alone in her very own nest?

And then, I read my book which is just getting good and un-put-downable, went for a brisk walk, watched the busy birds, and baked a pie.

This morning when the door slammed I grabbed my computer to blog.

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Guess what play Sarah is going to see today?  And guess who was making her laugh while I took her photo?

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*****

The Lord loves you not to-day, Christian, because of anything you are doing, or
being, or saying, or thinking, but he loves you still, because his great heart is full of
love, and it runneth over to you…….. Charles Spurgeon

SaveSave

//easter sunday in orlando//

(I heard this song at the dentist with my son Caleb yesterday and liked it so much).

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April 1, 2018

It was Easter Sunday and we decided to take a day of rest.  Rich read resurrection Scriptures to us in our hotel room that morning and then we slathered on sunscreen, put on our bathing suits, and headed for the pool.

Oh I forgot to mention that Caleb and Seth tried to play basketball first thing in the morning but came right back to the room because “There is an easter egg hunt going on, there are eggs everywhere even on the basketball court.”  I noticed Sarah (who was still in her pajamas and in bed) perk up at these words, so I asked Caleb to “hop like a bunny and go get Sarah an egg”.  We all laughed hysterically as he hopped out the door as only Caleb can, and then 10 minutes later, hop back inside the room with an egg and his front teeth sticking out of his lips just like the Easter bunny.  We affectionately call Caleb “Moose” for a reason, his bunny “hops” were more like heavy stomping earthquakes and he quickly hopped/launched himself off balance and into the wall as he tossed the egg to his sister.  “They were all gone so I told a man I needed one for my sister and asked if he would give me one of his.  There were kids with huge bags full of eggs.”  Sarah opened her egg to find a grape-flavored hard candy and was thrilled.

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Rich and I settled into pool chairs and very soon David was coming over to show me that he finally caught a lizard.  (the round scar on his stomach is from a spider bite, chronicled on this blog about 10 years ago).

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David was very curious about the wild life around the pool.  Now and then a duck or two would fly over to see if there were any crumbs to eat.  David tossed one a potato chip and we laughed to see it gobble it down only to bob his head up and down forcefully to bring it back up.  It landed on the pavement just as dry as it had gone into his beak.

David also saw a bird spear a fish over at the lake and came to report enthusiastlically.

My heart bursts with joy that he comes to share things with me so often.  I love to hear his stories and the way he tells them is always unique and interesting.  I am an eager listener.

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Sarah (in pink) quickly made a friend of a little girl just a year younger.  Eventually I met the little girl’s mother.  They had plans to go to a park that day but after seeing the girls swimming and getting along so well they ended up staying at the pool all day too.  They had traveled to Orlando all the way from Ireland and it was fun to visit with the mom and ask her questions about her country.

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We eventually made the girls get out of the pool to share a hot dog lunch together.  Sarah didn’t want to get out of the water and made sure to let me know that she “wasn’t done swimming yet.”  I was so glad to have gotten the children goggles before our trip because they had the greatest time throwing a little plastic card into the pool and diving for it.

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Behind the pool there was a lake and Caleb was so happy to go fishing.  He and Seth also played basketball for a while, too, and Seth was nicknamed “Seth Curry” by some other boys were were playing with them.

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After Sarah’s great reluctance to meet Disney characters at the park, I was truly intrigued to see that she got out of her beloved pool to approach the Easter bunny.  But on second thought, I decided that it had more to do with the eggs than the bunny.  It was the most adorable thing to see her and her friend get out of the water and hold hands as they walked over to the bunny for an egg.  All in all, Sarah managed to bring home about 7 or 8 plastic easter eggs.

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I spent the day in my chair with my book, journal (pictured above) and various nice coffee drinks.  The tallness of our hotel blocked the sun after a while so Rich moved to the other side but I stayed put.  I would rather not roast myself; it was perfect in the shade and Rich always gets annoyed because I still get tan so much better than he does even though he stays in the sun.

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Eventually it was time for dinner so we got all cleaned up and headed to a steakhouse for a good meal.

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“Yeah but mom look, I’m not even in the picture.”

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What is it with boys trying to look cool and thereby not smiling?

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Handsome Caleb after a day in the sunshine.

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Someone take away that soda!

The boys had steak dinners.  I had crab legs and Sarah had spaghetti.

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Even though we truly didn’t NEED dessert, the next thing we did was drive to a soft serve place for cones.

It was the kind of heavy cream soft serve that makes you feel full and sick after eating only half of it.

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It was a good ending to a relaxing day.

*********

What a God we have!  And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus!  Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven–and the future starts now!  God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.  

The Day is coming when you’ll have it all–life heal and whole.  ~ 1 Peter 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

church, and a walk in snow

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Hello again, I just played bananagrams with Grace and won.  Now she’s going to go get dressed for the day and I have a few free moments to post a blog, although it is distracting here what with the roof dripping, dog snoring on my lap, cat sleeping, ladies cleaning, and dinner to start soon…. because it’s a recipe that takes all day.  (oven baked corned beef and vegetables).  Grace may or may not be going out with a friend for lunch.  If she doesn’t than maybe she and I will go out together.

I have to take her back to college on Saturday morning.  Has a week ever gone by so quickly?

******

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This is a continuation from yesterday’s blog all about my visit with Joanna this past weekend.  While we were downtown, we went to the coffee shop twice; once when we were waiting for our nail appointment and secondly for a late lunch and coffee.  I had a german chocolate cupcake for dessert.  The frosting was put on top generously with an ice cream scoop (!) which made me very happy.  Joanna had a cookie bar with pear and ginger.

As we walked to the car she noticed that the church just up the sidewalk had a flag waving outside the door which said, “open for prayer”, so we went inside.  The Pastor walked in just behind us and was very welcoming.  I loved the fact that he said “Come right in!” and then vanished downstairs.  We could hear people talking and laughing and smell a yummy church meal.  We never saw him again which was refreshing because typically a pastor will gravitate toward anyone new and try hard to be friendly, which can be nice, too, but we wanted to freely explore…….

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Right away we noticed and admired the homemade banners hanging from the rafters.  We stood and studied each one.

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Our souls just soaked in the spiritual surroundings and I took a lot of pictures of the stained glass windows because my brother David is currently making a (small) one for his house.

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There were teddy bears placed randomly in the pews which we thought was delightful.  We looked at everything, sat for a few minutes, read the historical information in the back, and took a church bulletin for our scrapbooks……

Back at home, we pulled on our snow boots and went outside.

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The hens do not like to stand in the snow.  I bring them water from the pond nearby.

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We walked through the woods where I showed Joanna the tree massacre from one of my boys fighting battles against them with a sharp sword/hatchet.  We grieved the fallen and the spots of wood chips.  (The boy in question has been stopped by his father).  We continued through the woods and into a field of snow…….

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After being chilled outdoors the fire inside was delightful and we sat right in front it and  exchanged gifts, talked, laughed, went on Pinterest and Instagram, & looked at books and magazines.  Grace took these photos for me, which I love.  ❤

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The next morning we went to one last antique store.  I forgot to take my phone inside (sign of a truly good time) but got this one last photo in the car after we prowled around the many different booths inside the building for well over an hour.  She has 5 children and I have 7, and like most people, we are in a busy season of life, but would you look at those refreshed faces?  That’s what friendship does, and a life well lived, content with the joy of little things.

“The small things of life were often so much bigger than the great things . . . the trivial pleasure like cooking, one’s home, little poems especially sad ones, solitary walks, funny things seen and overheard.”  Barbara Pym

 

we belong to the day (1 Thess. 5:8)

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Glory of the world makes life meaningless
Glory of God fulfills it.  ~CH Spurgeon

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Toys, books, videos, art supplies, blankets, music, and hot chocolate are ready and waiting.  It’s another snow day in our neck of the woods today.  The children and I are sitting inside a giant snow globe; outside the windows of our warm house are millions and millions of tiny white snowflakes shaking down from the clouds of heaven.

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“I see that if I would be happy in God, I must give Him all.  And there is wicked reluctance to do that.  I want Him–but I want to have my own way, too.  I want to walk humbly and softly before Him and I want to go where I shall be admired.  To whom shall I yield?  To God?  Or to myself?”  Elizabeth Prentiss

“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain……”  Psalm 119:36

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”  Philippians 2:2

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“The way upward in true life and honor is to go downward in self-humiliation.  Renounce all, and you shall be rich; have nothing, and you shall have all things.  Try to be something, and you shall be nothing;  be nothing, and you shall live; that is the great lesson which Jesus would teach us, but we are slow to learn…… CH Spurgeon

“I believe that selfishness is the front-door key of despair.”  Spurgeon

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“As long as we have the itch of self-regard we shall want the pleasure of self-approval; but the happiest moments are those when we forget our precious selves and have neither–but have everything else (God, our fellow humans, animals, the garden and the sky) instead.”  CS Lewis, letters, 1954

God
our fellow humans
animals
the garden and the sky

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“…..the burdens of my heart rolled away….”

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Whenever something is bothering me, and I’m in a moral quandary, I dig out the ol’ journal and pen and start searching for quotes, verses, and other writings that have to do with my current topic of interest.  I talk things over with Joanna or Rich and that helps, too.  I love that I can keep my Bible near and read it for comfort and correction at any time of day or night.

A balm for my soul that always heals.

I come away feeling so much lighter and free.

*****

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(Dear Brother Dave, these are the sneakers Seth bought with the birthday gift card you sent him.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2018

“Since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”