1362. Your smile tells me more than words will ever say. ~Author Unknown

Smile with your lips, smile with your eyes,
smile with your heart and your soul and your life.
~Terri Guillemets

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Two weeks after James and I married in 1963, he became very ill and had to been hospitalized. In the beginning it looked as if he might have had something that would have been life threatening or else something that could have been at least life altering, but it turned out to be neither. There was a time when they found a tumor on my thyroid that could have been malignant, but after a partial thyroidectomy it proved to be benign. There was a time when it looked like I would never have a child of my own, however nine years after we married, we were blessed with a healthy baby girl. Three years after our daughter was born she became very ill and had to be hospitalized with something that at one time would have ended her life, but at that time it didn’t. There was a time when I had to have a hysterectomy because my uterus was full of tumors, but again they proved to be benign. There was a time when my daughter became pregnant, but miscarried her one and only biological child, but I have been blessed with three wonderful grandchildren. There was a time, when tumors were once again found in what remained of my thyroid, and they could have been malignant, but they weren’t. There was a time that those tumors grew so large and that surgically removing them endangered the finding and saving of my parathyroids, but the surgeon was able to locate 3 of the 4 and so the health issues that would have ensued from their loss didn’t materialize. There was a time when I had a stroke that could have left me crippled physically and/or mentally or worse yet it could have taken my life, but it didn’t. There was a time when my grandson suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a trusted individual and eventually the child had to be hospitalized for 5 months to save his life and shore up his wholeness. He suffers still with PTSD and other issues as a result, but today my daughter sent a photo in which he was having fun and smiling for the first time in nearly two years. So why did all that make me cry on the way home from my sister’s this afternoon? Was it because of sadness and despair over misfortunes and trials? Before I answer that let me say that not only have I committed my fair share of trespasses against the Lord and his commandments, but when I was 18, my father died suddenly, and afterwards I turned my back on the Lord for nearly two decades and railed against Him regularly for allowing my beloved father to be taken from me. So the tears flowed not out of grief but because God has blessed me so many times despite my human frailties and transgressions that I was once again humbled, reduced to tears of joy and gratitude, and made to ponder why on earth after my egregious shortcomings, He would love me enough to bless me over and over again with His amazing grace. The answer is simple: because though I once was so lost, I was and am His beloved child and I asked! So if someone were ever looking for a person who didn’t believe in miracles or in the power of prayer or in Jesus, as the Messiah, or in God’s forgiveness, faithfulness, or His loving goodness, I would NOT be the person they were seeking. But if they were wanting to know more about the Lord, I would tell them to “knock and the door would be opened.” So what do ya think? Am I smiling along with my beautiful grandson now? Oh you betcha I am, yes, yes, and yes!!!

**Image via Pinterest; special effects done by Natalie on iPiccy

897. A garden must combine the poetic and the mysterious with a feeling of serenity and joy. ~Luis Barragan

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. ~Albert Einstein

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By Einstein’s definition above, I’m not dead yet, for my eyes still open and I frequently stand wrapped in awe when I find amazing things like what you see in these photos. What caught my eye at first was the marker identifying the vine as a Dutchman’s Pipe whose flowers, it said, have an interesting and specialized pollination mechanism. Intrigued by that I read on to find that because they are quite aromatic, their strong scent attracts insects, and that the inner part of their perianth tube (or pipe stem) is covered with hairs that act as a fly trap. Once caught these hairs wither to release the fly who has been covered with pollen. That in and of itself was more than enough to wow me. But now after also having seen the strangely beautiful and mysterious flower and its seed pods, I can, with complete confidence, attest to the fact that my emotions are not yet strangers either. Once again the Lord’s amazing creativity and imagination have stopped me in my tracks and taken my breath away. Chronic pain may have long been my lot in life to bear, but I can do nothing less than continually praise the Lord and express my gratitude for unlike me there are so many people in the world who have little to nothing but misery, grief, suffering, and grievous iniquities dumped over and over again upon their plates. Such is why tears so often flood these eyes that yet allow me to see and emotions erupt that yet allow me to feel.

Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? ~Job 11:7  ✝

**Sadly with the recent debacle on computer that I shared with my readers, I’ve discovered that some of my photos are missing or in a black hole somewhere. So I had to use these that I found on Pinterest.

713. Colors are the smiles of nature. ~Leigh Hunt

You’ve already won me over-in spite of me.
So don’t be alarmed if I fall head over feet.
And don’t be surprised if I love you
for all that you are.
I couldn’t help it-it’s all your fault.
~Alanis Morisette

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Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! So what do you think? Is Morisette talking about a man who has won her heart? Or is it possible to fall head over feet in love, with a flower for instance? The color of the flower above certainly makes me smile, and it was a huge surprise, and I do love it.

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It all started several years ago when I decided to plant some new iris in the large island bed. Late in the growing season, I went to a nearby nursery, and all they had were a few scraggly rhizomes that had long since lost their name tags. But not caring too much as to what color they were and trusting that they would still thrive despite their pitiful condition, I bought the five that remained, came home and planted them.

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Sure enough before winter set in, up shot some of their green spears making it appear hopeful that they would for sure “make it.” And not only did they make it that next spring as it turned, but two of them were the amazing color you see in the photos.

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I’d never seen an iris this color before, and thinking that its petals with their beards of gold looked somewhat velvety and chocolatey over their also golden centers, it was indeed this flower’s fault that I couldn’t help but fall in love with its beauty nor resist taking shots of its blooms from all angles year after year. Ain’t love grand with whomever or whatever wins us over?! I think so and apparently so does the Lord.

It (love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ~1 Corinthians 13:7   ✝

365. Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

The moment a child is born,
the mother is also born.
She never existed before.
The woman existed,
but the mother, never.
A mother is something
absolutely new.
~Chandra Mohan Jain

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In everyone’s life,
at some time,
our inner fire flickers
as if to go out.
It is then burst into flame
by an encounter
with another human being.
We should be thankful
for those people who
rekindle the inner spirit.
~Edited and adapted quote by Albert Schweitzer

This is an old photo of my daughter and I; she was about 2 years old when it was taken by her dad who was experimenting with special effects in his dark room. It has always been one of my favorite captures of the two of us, and so I’m posting it today as a tribute to all the “special effects” she has brought and continues to bring into our lives. It was her birth 5 days before my 30th birthday that rekindled my imperiled inner spirit, and so I celebrate her life today and every day! What an amazing gift from God she was and is!  Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord. ~Psalm 113:9  ✝

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!

360. …Monet portrayed the changeability and flux of every moment. “The Water Lilies” give you a jittery, amorphous sense of a world seen at the speed of light. ~Jerry Saltz

I gathered them–the lilies pure and pale,
The golden-hearted lilies, virgin fair,
And in a vase of crystal, placed them where
Their perfumes might unceasingly exhale.
High in my lonely tent above the swale,
Above the shimmering mere and blossoms there,
I solaced with their sweetness my despair,
And fed with dews their beauteous petals frail.
~Florence Earle Coates

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Wow! Don’t ya just love to be wowed?! According to the dictionary “wow” as an expression of excitement was first recorded in Scots in the early 16th century. But the dictionary doesn’t tell us what it was that generated enough excitement to inspire the “wow” in Scots, and I for one would really like to know. I love to be wowed; Creation and the Lord wow me over and over again in ways like no other. Okay, okay, I know; so what is the connection between water lilies and a word that expresses astonishment or admiration. Well…yesterday, we drove through our local Botanical Gardens and I noticed they had put some water lilies in one of their ponds and was thrilled to find something new to “feed” my camera and thus my soul, but wait, that is not what created the “wow” factor although water lilies are “wowish” enough in their own right. It was something I read about them when I got home that prompted the really animated “wows.” According to an encyclopedia, “the Fragrant Water Lily has a unique pollination strategy. On the first day that the flower blooms, its pollen is not yet released. Instead, a fluid fills the centre of the flower covering the female parts. Should an insect visit the flower, the design of the petals causes it to fall into the fluid. If the insect is covered in pollen, the pollen dissolves in the fluid and fertilizes the flower. The next day, no fluid is produced, and pollen is released instead. The insect that falls into the fluid usually emerges unharmed; although a few unlucky ones may be trapped and drown.” Is that amazing or what?! This is exactly why I garden and love gardens and God as much as I do. He is in the goodness and “wow” business, and He does both like nothing else! The world may be in flux at every moment, but the Lord is true and faithful to all His promises and His inherent goodness.

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he browses among the lilies. ~Song of Songs 6:3 ✝

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!