1339. There is an ancient tribal proverb I once heard in India. It says that before we can see properly we must first shed our tears to clear the way. ~Libba Bray

Glory be to you, O God,
for the grace of new beginnings
placed before me in every moment
and encounter, good or bad, of life.
~Edited quote by
John Philip Newell

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Wood as found in the natural world is, in and of itself, beautiful; the same is true of marble. However if wood is to be used in the making of a violin for example, some tools needed to hollow and shape the wood accordingly are chisels, knives, saws, scrapers. groove cutters, hole reamers, and peg shavers. And some tools needed to gouge and shape something out of marble are chisels, hammers, drills, rasps, files, and abrasive sandpapers, all of which in both instances can and do draw blood and extract the proverbial “pound of flesh” if used on we mortals. And the point of such is? Well, in a way these processes correlate to human suffering and what it can and often does achieve in a person’s life. For it is not until the wood is gouged out and shaped that its “voice,” AKA it’s exquisite sound, is released from the wood to bless our ears, and it is not until someone like Michelangelo gouges around and in a piece of marble that magnificent angels appear from deep inside the marble’s being to bless our eyes. So it was that when reading a comment today by a fellow blogger who has endured much “gouging,” it finally dawned on me in light of her struggles and mine as well as those of others that it is not until the soul is “gouged” out that we mortals are able to give “voice” in some way to garnered wisdom and profound truths. Thus trials should be seen as gifts to be embraced and celebrated, not mourned and regretted. However being appreciative of pain is something most of us find difficult at best. Clearly though “had the eye no tear, the soul would have no rainbow” nor would the dark depths of the soul ever come into healing light. The passages of Scripture below as well as others tell us to be “content” and even “thankful” about losses and painful trials for they are blessings brought forth from the scraping, gouging, and shaping the Lord has done and continues to do in our souls in order to set free “earth” angels, to give life to sacred and powerful voices, to fulfill ordained purposes, and to help bring about the memory of what we left in childhood that my dear friend calls the “soft glory of our being.”

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ~James 1:2-4  ✝

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. ~Romans 12:12  ✝

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~2 Corinthians 12:10  ✝

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. ~1 Peter 5:10  ✝

**Image found on the Internet; special effects done on by me on spicy

1318. No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples… ~John Muir

The oaks and pines and their brethren of the wood,
have seen so many suns rise and set,
so many seasons come and go,
and so many generations pass into silence,
that they may well wonder what
“the story of the trees” would be to us
if they had tongues to tell it,
or if we had ears fine enough to understand.
-Author Unknown

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When one thinks about earth’s courts in such a way, he/she realizes that trees, like us, stand on hallowed ground, and so it’s not surprising that throughout the ages trees have been given deep and sacred meanings. By observing the growth and death of trees, the flexible nature of their branches, the annual reoccurrence of their foliage, humanity has seen trees as powerful symbols of growth, decay, and resurrection. Trees and their way of providing shade and shelter are adored by both wildlife and humanity alike, and the views afforded from their lofty heights are to be envied. Trees are more than simply the largest elements of the landscape or garden; over time they become like venerated companions that unfailingly stand by us throughout the seasons and storms of life. Given their size and the fact that they prevent soil erosion, provide weather-sheltered ecosystems in and under their leaves, play a vital role in the production of oxygen and the reduction of carbon dioxide, moderate ground temperatures, and produce orchard fruits, trees speak to us of the largesse and power of God.

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Soon and in a blaze of glory the trees bearing the leaves in my photos will be stripped of their foliage, but though barren and seemingly no more than a silent sentry where they stands, somewhere in their core their music will play on. Muir’s idea that the fibers of the tree’s being thrills “like harp strings” at all times is true and answers Walt Whitman’s inquiry, “Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?” The music of life plays on in all of Creation, and like God’s presence it is never absent from us. We may not always hear the music but the melodies are there. We may be absent from the Lord, but He is never absent from us. He can be found in the lights of the sky, the colors of earth, the warmth of the sun, in waters that flow, in the wind that can be felt but not seen, and in the boughs of mighty trees. In his Celtic Psalter J. Philip Newell uses the image of trees as a revelation of God’s presence, “Like light dappling through the leaves of a tree and wind stirring its branches, like birdsong sounding from the heights of an orchard and the scent of blossom after rainfall, so you dapple and sound in the human soul, so you stir into motion all that lives.” When our ears and eyes weren’t “fine enough to understand,” God sent us His son. As we follow the star to the manger in celebration of Christ’s birth in a few weeks, may the music in all that God has made be heard, acknowledged, and honored.

For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. -Luke 11:10  ✝

O come, O come Emmanuel!

1316. So much has been given to me I have not time to ponder over that which has been denied. ~Helen Keller

For three things I thank God every day of my life:
thanks that he has vouchsafed me knowledge of his works;
deep thanks that he has set in my darkness the lamp of faith;
deep, deepest thanks that I have another life to look forward to–
a life joyous with light and flowers and heavenly song.
~Helen Keller

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Oh autumn, how late you came, but how glorious you have been! Today, however, winter’s first cold, cold breath has blown hard across the garden and these flowery “babies” I found today will perish in the frigid hours before dawn’s first light. In gratitude for their coming I shall like Helen and the author of the poem below go to sleep tonight thanking God that they came at all.

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Every night before I go to sleep
I say out loud
Three things that I’m grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant
Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It’s a small practice and humble,
And yet, I find I sleep better
Holding what lightens and softens my life
Ever so briefly at the end of the day.

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Sunlight, and blueberries,
Good dogs and wool socks,
A fine rain,
A good friend,
Fresh basil and wild phlox,
My father’s good health,
My daughter’s new job,
The song that always makes me cry,
Always at the same part,
No matter how many times I hear it.

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Decent coffee at the airport,
And your quiet breathing,
The stories you told me,
The frost patterns on the windows,
English horns and banjos,
Wood Thrush and June bugs,
The smooth glassy calm of the morning pond,
An old coat, a new poem, my library card,
And that my car keeps running
Despite all the miles.

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And after three things,
More often than not,
I get on a roll and
I just keep on going,
I keep naming and listing,
Until I lie grinning,
Blankets pulled up to my chin,
Awash with wonder
At the sweetness of it all.
~Carrie Newcomer

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So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. ~Colossians 2:6-7  ✝

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**This tiny little sunflower came up from a fallen seed that had dropped down out of the bird feeder. I’ve been watching to see if it would bloom before winter nipped it in the bud and sure enough it did. The photos are not my best effort this time, but it was too darned cold to stand out in that cold north wind for long.

1286. We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives. ~John F. Kennedy

kudos |ˈk(y)o͞oˌdōs, -ˌdōz, -ˌdäs|
noun
praise and honor received for an achievement.
• informal, chiefly N. Amer. compliments or congratulations: kudos to everyone
who put the event together.

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Wow and wow again and again! What an amazing bunch of stellar posts today from you, my cherished followers. If I’d reblogged every one of the ones that wowed me I’d have had enough posts for days and days, and then I could have just taken a break from my own! And I could have turned off all the lights and pulled the shades because the light from your posts and your hearts and souls would have lit up the whole house so that I didn’t have to pay my electricity bill for the day. Seriously I don’t know that I’ve ever come across as many posts that blessed my day, brought joy, smiles and laughter, and touched my heart as deeply all on one day. So huge kudos to all of you and thank you guys who bring such delightful offerings, beauty, and light into my world. I appreciate you more than you’ll ever know and am sincerely grateful for the difference you make in my life. May the Lord bless you and keep you now and always!!! Love, Natalie

…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~1 Thessalonians 5:18  ✝

1284. I have faith in myself and my life. I honour the wisdom of my soul. ~Julie Parker

This is a very important practice. Live your
daily life in a way that you never lose yourself.
When you are carried away with your worries, fears,
cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself
and you lose yourself. The practice is
always to go back to oneself.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

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The place I want to get back to
is where in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darkness

and first light
two deer
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me

they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let’s see who she is
and why she is sitting

on the ground like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;

and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way

I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of the flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward

and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years

I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts, bestowed,
can’t be repeated.

If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named
Gratitude.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. ~Colossians 3:16  ✝

**Image via Pinterest; border and special effects done on iPiccy

1265. The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live. ~Flora Whittemore

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The fact that I’ve been unhappily dealing with an intense, killer migraine since 4 AM this morning has reminded me of an incident that happened years ago. It was a day when I had been grappling with physical pain like I’ve had to do off and on throughout my adult life, and I was feeling quite sorry for myself even grumbling inwardly about it. So when it was suggested that we go to a movie which would include a long walk to get to a downtown theater, I wasn’t particularly interested in going. But I was eventually talked into it, and because I am slower these days, I was trailing along somewhat behind the others. As we rounded the last corner I almost bumped into a homeless man of color with no legs who sitting on the sidewalk in a wheelchair. His head was down but all of a sudden he looked up and smiled the most engaging, warm smile, looked straight into my eyes, and said, “God bless you!” I replied in kind but perhaps without the same warmth and walked on to catch up with the others After mulling it over I knew for certain it was no accident that the man was there at that exact moment in time for a Divine reason. So I glanced back with thoughts of running back and saying thank you as we entered the theater, but he was gone. Nevertheless, in our brief encounter this nameless, homeless disabled man had driven a clear message straight into my heart–I had a home, I had legs, I was not confined to a wheelchair nor was I having to endure hard days and nights living on the streets and going hungry. And so if he could ask God to bless me when the differences between our circumstances were so vasrly different, then it was time for me to rise above my trials and do the same.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. ~1 John 4:12  ✝

**Top image by LilAS and LOlAS found on Facebook; text box created and written by Natalie; collage by Natalie

1247. September days have the warmth of summer in their briefer hours… ~Rowland E. Robinson

Suffering invites us to place our hurts in larger hands.
In Christ we see God suffering – for us.
And calling us to share in God’s
suffering love for a hurting world.
The small and even overpowering pains
of our lives are intimately connected
with the greater pains of Christ.
Our daily sorrows are anchored in a
greater sorrow and therefore a larger hope.
~Henri J.M. Nouwen

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As I grapple with summer’s still sweltering heat, I have to remind myself that humanity has observed adverse aberrations of nature millennium after millennium and that out of the chaos order eventually returns.  Author, Peter Saint-Andre, says  nature “can inspire, enlighten, send shivers up the spine, delight, anger, frighten; it can make one think, feel, shake one’s head in astonishment, cry, laugh out loud; it can evoke feelings of triumph, melancholy, light-heartedness, serenity, excitement, boredom, rightness, anxiety, joy, sorrow.”  And I agree with him on all counts but until some level of coolness settles, it is challenging for me to experience much excitement and serenity.  Only now when, in the midst of the feverish misery, the wild purple eryngo blooms does the melancholy begin to lift a little.

Even if He causes suffering, He will show compassion according to His abundant, faithful love. ~Lamentations 3:32  ✝

**Image taken by me along a country road in our area. These amethystine beauties can be found blooming  this time of year in fields ravaged by summer’s heat.