1314. Learn to use the lightening (in the storms of life) as fiery fuel to further propel you to all that encourages your own aliveness. ~Victoria Erickson

Use your internal strength and willpower
to rise above the thoughts pulling you down
and watch your world rise alongside you…
~Victoria Erickson

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I crave the ones who’ve seen confusion and known struggle; who have pulled themselves up from the shackles of heartache and strife, disappointment and darkness, exhaustion and drain, and have risen with a heart as open and unwaveringly wide as the ocean itself. Give me those people. The brave, the vulnerable, the wise, the ones who care for a world, and how to better it along with themselves. To know their ability in making waves, in shifting patterns with tides and in creating change. Let us become that open ocean. And make it rise. ~Victoria Erickson

Tonight, you may be empty, silent, sorrowful or alone,
but you have the moon and you have your breath,
and in inhaling the wonder of those alone, may you
be wrapped in the soft shawl of gentle relief that this
moment is beautiful and more than worthy…
~Victoria Erickson

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. ~Ecclesiastes 1:18  ✝

**Image found on Pinterest

1287. And all the daughters of the year shall dance! ~Excerpted line from “To Autumn” by William Blake

We should consider every day lost
in which we have not danced at least once.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

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I am the Lord of the Dance said He
And we shall dance with each other in autumn’s splendor

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I am the Lord of the Dance said He
And we shall dance in the slant of its golden hours

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I am the Lord of the Dance said He
And we shall dance beneath skies of China blues

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I am the Lord of the Dance said He
And we shall dance amid the glory of colorful leaves

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I am the Lord of the Dance said He
And we shall dance alongside blossoms laden with dew

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I am the Lord of the Dance said He
And we shall dance in winds that speak of change

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I am the Lord of the Dance said He
And we shall dance rings around big plump pumpkins

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I am the Lord of the Dance said He
And you and I shall dance as Lover with His beloved

Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. ~Excerpt from Jeremiah 31:13  ✝

**All photos taken by Natalie except the two images in the collage at the top

1232. When summer gathers up her robes of glory, like a dream of beauty she glides away. ~Sarah Helen Power Whitman

Summer waxes long, then wanes, quietly passing
her fading green glory on to riotous Autumn.
~Michelle L. Thieme

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More signs!!! Yippee! It ain’t over til it’s over they say, but I see more signs that the “over” is on its way! So yay!!! This rare week of cloudy days, rainy spells, and the blessing of lower temperatures is not only a boon and a balm but it’s also encouraging my belief that the “times they are a changing.” That belief is found as well in these images of white autumn clematis blooms, red and orange ripening rose hips, and a spider web. A spider web, a sign? Yes, strangely enough I’ve always found more spider webs in my yard as autumn approaches than at any other time of the year. And oddly the spider’s prey trapped in the center of the web looks like a tiny angel. So? Angel’s are always portents of change, aren’t they?! The dictionary defines portent as a warning or a sign that something, especially something momentous or calamitous, is likely to happen. So I’m praying the angel is telling me that all these things are portents of the momentous beginning of an earlier end of summer here in Texas. Did you hear that you nasty old heat beast? You can just back up your bag of torrid tricks and head on down the road. Oh now I can hardly wait for one of my most favorite things–that morning when I open the door and feel the first delicious nip in the air and know that autumn’s door is truly opening.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years… ~Genesis 1:14  ✝

1200. Every day, you get the opportunity to change your life. ~Rodolfo Costa

You are an instrument of God.
Don’t leave the instrument
sitting in its case my son. Play!
Leave no part of your instrument unexplored.
~Abraham Verghese

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I don’t normally share this “bragging” kind of information, but it’s the recognition of a goal I’d set for myself. And in achieving it, it has silenced old naysaying ghosts and proved that even an old, gray-haired lady without any particularly impressive credentials or talents can fulfill, in some way, long held hankerings. As an educator and a parent, I always encouraged my students and my daughter to explore avenues that led to dreams or desires they held. To that end, James and I afforded for our daughter, ballet lessons, karate lessons, violin lessons, swimming lessons–in general anything she came home and said she’d like to try. As it turned out her skills as a swimmer earned her 5 full collegiate scholarships. Then there were the graduate degrees she attained. Though these things are no longer her little niches in the grand scheme of things, they’ve served her well, helped develop her character and values, and left her with no “what if” regrets. For me it was different, unless my dreams served a “practical” purpose, I was denied the pursuit of them. For example, I wanted to be an artist, I wanted to be a writer, I wanted to be a dancer, I wanted to be a singer but of course all such things were not at all “practical” and certainly no one could make a living doing them according to my parents. Then when it came time for college (something that no one on either side of my family had had the privilege and opportunity to attend), mom decided that it would be great if I became a teacher even though I  didn’t want to be one. But since my father had just passed away leaving her to finish raising their 3 teenage daughters on her own and she had quashed all my other longings, what else could I do but be the dutiful daughter a girl of that era had no other choice but to be. But then came the day when the dutiful daughter retired after 31 years of teaching and chose to find ways to address those long held hungers. Now although she may not be an artist, she can take pretty darned good photos. Although she’s not a dancer, she and her hubby can scoot their boots pretty darned well around a dance floor. Although she’s not an published author, she can knock out some fair-to-middling prose now and again. And so today after starting my blog with NO followers 3 years ago, WP notified me that I hit 1000 followers. It may seem a small number to some of you, but my little previously unanswered “what if” regrets are singing Hallelujah choruses because at long last I’m playing my instrument in an attempt to serve God whose instrument I am.

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. ~Exodus 9:16 ✝

759. I can’t say I wasn’t hoping for it, but I didn’t see it coming. ~Jessi Kirby

None of us knows what the next change is going to be, what unexpected opportunity is just around the corner, waiting a few months or a few years to change all the tenor of our lives. ~Kathleen Norris

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When the second semester of my junior year began in January, a new guy started showing up around our table to watch us play bridge in the student center, and after a while this “new guy” began offering to go get my food and soft drinks as well as my cigarettes. (Yes, sadly, after my father’s death I took up smoking, a bad habit which took me a long, long time to break.) My card buddies called him JP and said that he’d been teaching them to play pinochle. Since I was always up for learning new games, I asked if he’d teach me to play pinochle too, and he seemed to jump at the chance. So it was that I learned to play pinochle, and shortly thereafter one of the five most unexpected events of my life occurred. JP (AKA James) and I began dating that spring, and then we became engaged at the first of June and were married by mid-August. No, it was not a “shotgun” wedding. It was just as the line in the movie says, “when you meet the right person, you want your life together to start right away.” Yes, Danny, did ask me to fork over the $50.00 since our wager wasn’t due to be over until October. To be continued…  (2 weeks, 3 days and counting)

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ~Ephesians 3:20-21  ✝

The two topmost images on the left of collage via Pinterest, others are mine, and I created the collage

565. Come, come thou bleak December wind, and blow the dry leaves from the tree! ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Through bare trees
I can be winter’s innocence,
unashamed needfulness,
the thin and reaching limbs 
of a beggar,
longing to touch 
but the hem of the sun.
~Lisa Lindsey

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It’s the first morn of December. It’s cold. It’s gray. Leaves are brown, dying, or gone. Branches already bare resemble arms reaching to the heavens for something or someone. A norther continues to blow open wider and wider the gates of the year’s Sabbath, and the wings and winds of change are palpable in the frosty air. In the garden’s resounding gong, in its tinkling wind chimes, and in its clanging bells I hear portents of the changes. I’m reminded not only by these sounds but also by the morning’s silences that December is a time of expectancy, a time of waiting, and a time of preparation; moreover, it is a time to share in the ancient longing for the Messiah’s birth as well as a time to look forward to His second coming. And since our time coin for this year is almost spent, it is time now more than ever to let love reign our hearts, to let peace be our constant prayer, to let compassion and giving pour our of our gratitude for another year of Yahweh’s gifts, blessings, fulfilled promises, and miracles. And it is also time, now and always, to reach for the heavens and praise God for all that He is, for all that He has done, and all that He continues to do for His children!

Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. ~2 Chronicles 6:40   ✝

** Image via Pinterest, but edited by Natalie