1394. I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. ~John Steinbeck

There’s a vastness here(Texas) 
and
I believe that the people who
 are born
here breathe 
that vastness into their soul.
They dream big dreams 
and think big thoughts,
because 
there is nothing to hem them in.
~Conrad Hilton

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I wasn’t born here in Texas although my mother was, and we didn’t move here until I was 13 years old. Then in college I met and married a born and bred Texas man who put an end to any dreams I might have had of ever leaving here. But I’ve come to love much of the mystique and the vastness of the unique Texas experience just NOT the intense summer and sometimes into autumn heat. It has always very been difficult for me to withstand these excessively sweltering temperatures as well as their often accompanying high levels of humidity. So until it begins months later to subside again and being ever-so-thankful for air-conditioning I incarcerate myself indoors. Unfortunately my self-imposed imprisonment lasts much longer than I would like. However, the Lord in His goodness always answers our calls of distress and finds ways to provide that which we need in some way. So it was when I bought a house with lots of windows so I can still see outside and then later purchased a digital camera to record outdoor scenes and store them on my computer for indoor viewing. Now at least I don’t feel so totally cut off from nature. How blessed are we that the work of His hands is as apparent as ever in His world.

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress… May He send you help from the sanctuary… May He remember all your sacrifices and accept your praise offerings. May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy…and…lift up banners in the name of God. May the Lord grant all your requests. ~Excerpts from Psalm 20:1-5 ✝

Well it’s bulls and blood
It’s dust and mud
It’s the roar of a Sunday crowd
It’s the white in his knuckles
The gold in his buckle
He’ll win the next go ’round
It’s boots and chaps
It’s cowboy hats
It’s spurs and latigo
It’s the ropes and the reins
And the joy and the pain
And they call the thing rodeo
These are excerpted lyrics from a song
by Garth Brooks entitled RODE0

**All but two photos in my collage above were taken by me

1321. Sense your Being, your own presence. That’s a source of joy. That’s the ultimate gratitude. ~Eckhart Tolle

presence

noun pres·ence \ˈpre-zən(t)s\
:  the fact or condition of being present
:  the bearing, carriage, or air of a person;
: the state of being closely focused on the here and now, not distracted by irrelevant thoughts

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A fellow blogger posted the above quote by Tolle yesterday, and since then I’ve been thinking about it and what it means. For me it begs the question as to whether it’s just a matter of being visible and tangible or more than that a matter of reflecting the sacred Image in which we are made. And if it is the latter, what does that reflection look like. I believe it is one where goodness and light are as apparent as physical attributes and personality particulars. For example light can be so prevalent in some, as was so with my father, that there’s a perceivable twinkle in the eyes that warms and begets a very real presence even in photographs. And as for goodness, when present it is like an aura that surrounds and defines a person.

To quote Tolle again, “The answer is, who you are cannot be defined through thinking or mental labels or definitions, because it’s beyond that. It is the very sense of being, or presence, that is there when you become conscious of the present moment.” In the first quote Tolle implores us to be aware of our Being as a source of joy and gratitude. That should occur in every moment if we remain aware of the fact that life is gift and express our gratitude to the Maker of all life for that gift. According to Alan Cohen, “appreciation is the highest from of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.”

So presence it seems to me is an awareness of the sacred ground on which we stand at every moment of our lives, an awareness of the sanctity of all living things, an awareness of the holy air we breathe, an awareness of the holy light that shines on and in everyone, an awareness of intentional and divine creation, and an awareness that He who brought us here saw that all He did and made was good. So when we are asked to sense our own presence we should realize that first and foremost it is “purely and completely evidence of God’s grace” in our lives. Walt Whitman once penned, “we convince by our presence,” and so it is not our face nor our hair nor our size nor any such thing that matters when we talk of presence. It must always be the goodness and light we bring to our “state of being closely focused on the here and now” which is “not distracted by irrelevant thoughts” as Webster so aptly defined it in his dictionary notation above.

God intended Earth.
God intended the waters.
God intended you and me.
We were created in the image 
and
the likeness of God; 
we are holograms, if you will.
So the power, the presence, the energy
is within you and me.
The energy of God, as life,
 is within each of us.
~Mary Manin Morrissey

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. ~Excerpt from Genesis 1:31  ✝

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

1276. I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it, … I will go to the bank by the wood… ~Walt Whitman

I feel the need to “coddiwomple!”
To be out where autumn’s breath fills my lungs,
where the presence of the Lord is afoot,
where the miracles of nature abound,
where wonder and awe feed my soul,
where I find rhythmic harmony and peace,
where I see visible signs of God’s goodness,
where the simple pleasures of life bring me joy,
where the child I once was rises to the top,
where she laughs and my heart sings
be it in woods, fields, or gardens,
where I feel alive and well!
Indeed it is time to
coddiwomple
again!

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To wonder, to know,
To explore, always asking:
What am I?
Who am I?
What will become of me?
Of my knowledge?

Am I squandered on the world?
Cheapening existence through vanity?
How long before I am fit to say, I know this!
Rather than, I think this.

That in itself questions self,
Whether our thought and mind is
Our own knowledge and assurance.
At what point in time do we stop marching?

Pencil upon paper, sight upon colour and light.
A fixation upon what we comprehend
And that, which is incomprehensible.
Are we gambling with the gifts we are given?

Are they gifts?
The ability to question choice, life, the air we breathe;
The sun, the moon, clouds, stars, the earth, wind, rain, height.
Random, our teachers abandon us,
Fending for all we are on our own
‘Tis a lonely path humans follow, trying to fill the void
~Edited excerpt of a poem,
To Wonder, by Lily

“Go in peace. Your journey has the Lord’s approval.” ~Excerpt from Judges 18:6  ✝

**Text above images by Natalie. Images found on  Pinterest; collage by Natalie; backgrounds and special effects via iPiccy

1198. When you arise in the morning, think of what a privilege it is to be alive-to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. ~Marcus Aurelius

Every morning, when we wake up,
we have twenty-four brand new hours to live.
What a precious gift!
We have the capacity to live in a way
that these twenty-four hours will bring
peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

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Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even,
the miserable and the crotchety –
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.
~Mary Oliver

The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. ~Proverbs 4:18  ✝

**Morning glory in my yard

1158. Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things. ~Marcus Tullius Cicero

…I swear I will not dishonor
my soul with hatred,
but offer myself humbly
as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery,
as a messenger of wonder,
as an architect of peace…
~Diane Ackerman

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Boredom, anger, sadness, or fear
are not “yours,” not personal.
They are conditions of the human mind.
They come and go.
Nothing that comes and goes is you.
~Eckhart Tolle

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Every morning, every moment,
with every breath, breathe in forgiveness,
breathe in the Holy Spirit, breathe in life,
and breathe out gratefulness.
Let the love and light of God soak
into your spirit and flood your heart.
You are loved.
~Author Unknown

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For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways… ~Excerpt from Psalm 91:11  ✝

**First image found on the internet along with Ackerman’s quote; other images via Pinterest

1116. The happiest moments in my childhood were spent on my grandmother’s front porch. ~Andre Leon Talley

There was a quiet solitude
just to sit and look at the landscape,
an inner quietness after dinner sitting on
the back porch and looking at the waning light.
There was no need for talking
or for any other kind of communication.
~Edited excerpt by Lee Krasner

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Sit with me awhile.
We can share our thoughts,
or talk of life and
what’s going on with us,
or maybe we could just sit
and be at peace together while we
soak up the last drop of the day’s light
and breathe in the cool air.
Or perhaps we could just watch the world go by
as we linger, waist deep in thought
or in reverie drenched in vanilla twilight.
~Me and Unknown Aauthors

Suggested and approved activities for porch sitters:
1.) you can read a book,
2.) you can sip on iced tea, hot tea, coffee, hot chocolate, lemonade, or a soft drink
3.) you can enjoy the seasons,
4.) you listen to the birds sing and relax,
5.) you can visit with friends or neighbors and reminisce or share stories
6.) you can watch the sun rise or witness the setting of the sun
7.) you can let your mind wander, shoes optional,
8.) you can take a nap
9.) you can talk or not talk,
10.) you can just sit and do nothing and rock or swing

But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. ~Psalm 13:12  ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie

1077. Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, things other than self. ~Edited quote by Dean Jackson

Listening is a great way of receiving gifts
of wisdom, intelligence and inspiration,
but we only hear.
~Anonymous

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Only the briefest of moments
When everything is still
When the world is silent
A magical moment
When there’s just you
And everything God has
Created for you

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That moment
Is always there
But the noise of life
The mad rush
Of the day
Is too loud for us
To hear it to see it
To feel it

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Sit back
Let your worries
Drift away
Clear your mind
And just listen
Breathe in the breeze
As it splashes
Over you

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Listen
Not with your ears
But with your Soul
To the sounds of
The leaves rustling
In the trees and
The song of the birds
Rising like a wave

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Listen
Listen with your heart
Listen closely
For there’s only a moment
Only the briefest of moments
And then the magic’s gone
Lost in the chaos
Of the day.
~Edited poem
by Michael Traveler

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let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance– ~Proverbs 1:5

Images via Pinterest