1182. Wherever fear is, happiness is not. ~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Fear is the main source of superstition,
and one of the main sources of cruelty.
To conquer is the beginning of wisdom.
~Bertrand Russell

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When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins
from his purse to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes like the measle-pox
when death comes like an iceberg
between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity,
wondering: what is it going to be like,
that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower,
as common as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage,
and something precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder if
I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing
and frightened, or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up
simply having visited this world.
~Mary Oliver

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41:10  ✝

**There are 365 days in the year, and the Bible, as in the passage above, tells us not to be afraid 365 times. Coincidence? I think not. It’s a message the Lord wants to be rooted in our hearts every single day of our lives.

535. The word “miracle” aptly describes a seed. ~Jack Kramer

When I see that first, minuscule, curled pale green wisp of a sprout
poking up between a couple of grains of vermiculite, I hear God speaking.
~June Santon

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Babies, little green babies, miracles of soil and seed are bursting forth from earth’s womb even as winter approaches. And as always I find the potential for life that exists in something as small and seemingly lifeless as a seed mind boggling. Equally astounding is the fact that stored within each tiny seed are enough nutrients to spark life in the seedling that will ultimately grow from the embryo, an embryo which has two points of growth. From one end of a particle sometimes as small as a speck of dust emerges a stem and from the other emerge roots. As if all this is not enough to inspire complete and utter amazement, the process of germination certainly does. Germination is a reactivation of metabolic pathways that depends on the right temperatures, the right amount of oxygen and water, and sometimes the right amount of darkness and light. But wait all this is not really the best part! The most impressive thing is that the entire process of seed to plant to seed, from beginning to end, can and frequently does occur without a human hand ever entering the process.

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Jesus made clear that the Kingdom of God is organic and not organizational. It grows like a seed and it works like leaven: secretly, invisibly, surprisingly, and irresistibly. ~Os Guinness

Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of earth. You have made heaven and earth. ~Isaiah 37:16   ✝

** Images via Pinterest

453. I like the serendipitous surprises of reality. ~Lawrence Wright

I believe in the surprises of the Holy Spirit.
~L. J. Suenens

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A surprise! An unexpected or astonishing event, fact, or thing; something that causes one to feel wonder, astonishment, or amazement. And what happened at my house yesterday fits the description of all those things! It had been and still was a bright, sunny August Sabbath with a temperature that had soared up to 105, and then out of the blue, literally, in mid-afternoon it began to pour down rain. The sun was still shining brightly as the rain fell, and right here in my backyard a rainbow appeared. Sadly my camera was in the other room, and I couldn’t get it fast enough to take a picture of our personal little rainbow, but I did get a picture through the screen of my big patio doors of the rainy and sunny scene outside. Another interesting phenomena was that there were only two fairly good gusts of wind as it rained, but one of them was powerful enough to lift my neighbor’s backyard patio umbrella up off her deck and cast it over her house into the front yard. The rain only lasted about 3 or 4 minutes, but it was like manna falling from heaven for one as starved for the sight of rain as I. It may not have rained a lot or even enough to green up our parched land, but it was more than enough to bless our eyes, restore our hope that rain will come again, and make us smile about the rainbow and freakish umbrella incident.

**Don’t be misled by how green my yard looks; I spend a lot of money watering my “babies.” But the land around us is very parched and brown as it always is during August.

By the God of your father who will help you, and by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. ~Genesis 49:25    ✝

Thank you, Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! May I dwell in Your holy Presence and praise Your holy name for that all you have given.

374. Flowers really do intoxicate me. ~Vita Sackville-West

Flowers have spoken to me
more than I can tell in written words.
They are the hieroglyphics of angels,
loved by all men
for the beauty of their character,
though few can decipher
even fragments of their meaning.
~Lydia M. Child

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Like Sackville-West, “flowers really do intoxicate me” but none more than Poppies and Larkspur. However, until several years ago I’d not had any success in growing either of those two. Luckily, one day at the book store another gardener revealed that the trick here in north-central Texas is to sow the seeds of both in the fall. So I took her advice and the following autumn I threw poppy and larkspur seeds in several flower beds around the yard. Et voilà, much to my amazement, up they sprouted! After the Larkspur germinated, the seedlings grew into fluffy little green mounds that looked way too diminutive and delicate to survive winter’s upcoming, bitter assaults, but that they did. Then as Spring approached and days lengthened and warmed again, the seedlings produced upward growing center stalks, the stands of which my husband referred to as little forests for indeed that’s exactly what they looked like. Then some time after they’d begun their upward advance, he ran in excitedly to tell me that one of my little “trees” had flowers opening on it. And soon all the little” forests” exploded into spiky seas of luscious colors; so inviting was the “beauty of their character,” that I visited them daily as did the swallowtail butterflies and the bumblebees. The bees and butterflies were going for the tasty nectar and I to gaze in amazement at the long-yearned-for new additions to my garden. Although new in my yard, they were hardly new to the world for I’d found out over the winter that the stately Larkspur has existed for thousands of years. I also learned that at some point in time they were given the name Larkspur because one of their petal-like sepals elongates into a spur resembling the spur of a lark’s back toe. Might that too be the hieroglyph of an angel?

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Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. ~Psalm 148:1-3 ✝

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Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you save, you heal, you restore, and you reveal Your Father’s heart to us! You have captured me with grace and I’m caught in Your infinite embrace!

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218. Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement. ~Christopher Fry

A man should have a little music,
read a little poetry, and see a fine picture
every day of his life,
in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense
of the beautiful implanted in the human soul.
~Johann Wolfgang Goethe

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This saffron crocus had been buried under 4 to 5 inches of ice for nearly a week, and yet life had continued to stir in it.  But it’s not just the “fine picture” of the flower that kept an implanted sense of beauty from being obliterated in my soul like Goethe suggests; it’s the fact that the life of the flower was sparked in an icy tomb.  But then God is good at that.  The poetry of amazement never fails to stir something profoundly deep in my soul which in turn lifts me up and out of my moments of self-pity.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  ~Genesis 1:2-3  ✝