712. Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. ~C. S. Lewis

Life finds me down, but not out. Hope finds me exhausted, but not emotionally bankrupt. Faith finds me weary, but not willing to stop pressing on. Health, you can try hard to drag me along, but I can’t be drug along when I’m in God’s hands. He holds me. ~Heather Mertens, fellow blogger at: http://40yearwanderer.com/blog/

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Sometimes, I am startled out of myself, like this morning when the wild geese came squawking, flapping their rusty hinges, and something about their trek across the sky made me think about my life, the places of brokenness, the places of sorrow, the places where grief has strung me out to dry. And then the geese come calling, the leader falling back when tired, another taking her place. Hope is borne on wings. Look at the trees. They turn to gold for a brief while, then lose it all each November. Through the cold months, they stand, take the worst weather has to offer. And still, they put out shy green leaves come April, come May. The geese glide over the cornfields, land on the pond with its sedges and reeds. You do not have to be wise. Even a goose knows how to find shelter, where the corn still lies in the stubble and dried stalks. All we do is pass through here, the best way we can. They stitch up the sky, and it is whole again. ~Barbara Crooker

I read this article above at: http://www.gratefulness.org and thought it was too great not to share.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  ~Isaiah 43:2   ✝

587. “Twas Christmas told the merriest tale…” ~Excerpt from Walter Scott

I will honor Christmas in my heart,
and try to keep it all the year.
~Charles Dickens

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In the 17th century after Oliver Cromwell came to power in England, Catholics were subsequently not permitted to practice their faith openly. Tradition holds that Catholic parents then developed the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, not only to teach their beliefs surreptitiously to their children but also to help them remember them. So it is that the partridge in a pear tree represents Jesus (the partridge will sacrifice its life to save its young). The two turtle doves refer to The Old and New Testaments. The three French hens stand for faith, hope, and charity or the three gifts the Wise Men brought to the baby Jesus. The four calling birds designate the four Evangelists–Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The five golden rings denote the first five books of the Old Testament. The six geese a-laying constitute the six days of Creation as described in Genesis. The seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord). The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes. The nine ladies dancing depict the nine choirs of angels (Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and regular angels); or the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control). The ten lords a-leaping point to the Ten Commandments. The eleven pipers piping are the eleven faithful Apostles. And the twelve drummers drumming signify the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. ~Romans 15:4   ✝

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552. So now, whenever I despair, I no longer expect my end, but some bit of luck, some commonplace little miracle which, like a glittering link, will mend again the necklace of my days. ~Colette, French novelist and performer

Wild Geese 
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

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Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
~Mary Oliver

Several of my readers have recently voiced, either by word or in the sounds of their silence between the lines, a measure of sorrow and despair. Know that you are loved and held in the arms of Divine Grace as well as in my heart and prayers. May you soon encounter the “angel of hope” bearing the “commonplace little miracle” which will “mend again the necklace of your days.”

You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit. ~Job 10:12  ✝

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542. Most glorious night! Thou wert not meant for slumber! ~Lord Byron

I often think that the night
is more alive and more
 colored than the day.
~Vincent Van Gogh

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On a dark, windy November night huge raindrops were slapping autumn leaves against the car or sending them whirling, willy-nilly all around us. As we drove on towards home, more and more of the colorful foliage litttered the slick black pavement ahead of us. As I listened to the sound of the leaves and rain smacking against the windshield in addition to the clicking back and forth noise of the wipers I was being lulled into a deep reverie of personal reflection. But as we turned onto a more traveled thoroughfare, the bright street lights illuminating our neighborhood duck pond broke my preoccupation with the day’s troubling matters. At that moment I looked up, away from my thoughts, and saw a few mallards and some geese gliding serenely along on the reservoir’s glazed, rain-spattered surface. In the halo-like light and the falling rain, the buoyant creatures looked surreal. They were like visions of floating grace and peace seemingly sent to testify that God is with us even in the midst of bothersome realities on cold, rainy nights.

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. ~Psalm 16:7   ✝

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