1376. Outside the open window the morning air is all awash with angels. ~Richard Wilbur

open your eyes
to the beauty around you,
open your mind
to the wonders of life,
open your heart
to those who love you,
and always
be true to yourself.
~Maya Angelou

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May the touch of your skin
Register the beauty
Of the otherness
That surrounds you.

May your listening be attuned
To the deeper silence
Where sound is honed
To bring distance home.

May the fragrance
Of a breathing meadow
Refresh your heart
And remind you you are
A child of the earth.

And when you partake
Of food and drink,
May your taste quicken
To the gift and sweetness
That flows from the earth.

May your inner eye
See through the surfaces
And glean the real presence
Of everything that meets you.

May your soul beautify
The desire of your eyes
That you might glimpse
The infinity that hides
In the simple sights
That seem worn
To your usual eyes.

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. ~Matthew 6:22 ✝

**Images via Pinterest; collage by Natalie

1375. Faith in God includes faith in His timing. ~Neal A. Maxwell

Faith…
It’s all about believing.
You don’t know how it will happen,
but you know it will.
~Unknown

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Every morning when I was a girl
my mother would wake me with song,
the same lilting lyric
every dawn,

It’s going to be such a lovely day,
good morning, good morning I say.

It sounds too grand to call it ceremony,
and she would have appeared
an unlikely celebrant
in her bathrobe and slippers,
but she infused this daily ritual with prayer

and to this day I wake
certain that the world
will have beauty in it
and certain that I will find it—
this the most beautiful gift
any mother could give.
~Rosemary Wahtola Trommer

Now faith is confidence in what we have hope and assurance about what we do not see. ~Hebrews 11:1  ✝

**Hollyhock photo taken in her yard today by Natalie

1330. Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light. ~John Milton

In a futile attempt to erase our past,
we deprive the community of our healing gift.
If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame,
our inner darkness can neither be illuminated
nor become a light for others.
~Brennan Manning

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Everyone has a story no matter what their age. We who are older however are actually made up of a series of stories, and in each of them tides turned along the way or remained static because of the choices we made and/or the chances we took. And one of the most critical choices each one of us has to make is whether or not to be authentically who God intended us to be. Most of us have somewhat of a grasp of that early on, but adolescence is and was a game changer. Living through those years is like what Virginia Woolf once said, “the eyes of others are our prisons; their thoughts our cages.” During the formative, teen years rather than remaining true to oneself, many try to be what the eyes of others think they should be and to think thoughts and to have ideas that this body of “they” believe to be “cool.” Because teens, like everyone else, want to be liked and accepted, their innocence and naïveté prompts many of them to succumb partially or wholly to the standards and choices of others in order to remain “free” from the prisons and cages of their peers, the intimidating, corporate “they.” And I was just as guilty of that as anyone else until one night, years and years later, in the middle of a very emotionally and physically painful night, it dawned on me that though there was no one there in the darkness to help me cope, to soothe me, or to stop the pain. And that was the mid-life game changer that motivated me to walk back far enough through time to remember who Natalie genuinely was, to embrace her, and to walk into the future as the Natalie I was meant to be. A subsequent choice I made was not to let what had broken me define who Natalie was and is but instead with God’s grace to find my inner light and let it shine even if at times it yet has to break forth through tears.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light. ~Brené Brown

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden…” ~Matthew 5:14  ✝

**Collage of developing ages in Natalie’s life gathered and put in chronological order by Natalie

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

1302. If any thing is sacred, the human body is sacred. ~Walt Whitman

In order to experience everyday spirituality,
we need to remember that we are spiritual beings
spending some time in a human body.
~Barbara De Angelis

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The human body is am amazing masterpiece. With the senses we see, taste, and touch the world, drawing its mystery inside us. With the mind we probe the eternal structures of things. With the face we present ourselves to the world and recognize one another. But it is the heart that makes us human. The heart is where the beauty of the human spirit comes alive. Without the heart, the human would be sinister. To be able to feel is a great gift. When you feel for someone, you become united with that person in an intimate way; your concern and compassion come alive, drawing some of the other’s persons world and spirit into yours. Feeling is the secret bridge that penetrates solitude and isolation. Without the ability to feel, friendship and love could never be born. All feeling is born in the heart. This makes the human heart the true jewel of the world. ~John O’Donohue

Have joy and peace in the
temple of your senses.
~John O’Donohue

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. ~Proverbs 4:23  ✝

**Drawing by Catrin Welz-Stein

1294. Our lives are a sum total of the choices we have made. ~Wayne Dyer

Everything you do makes a difference.
So choose the difference you wish
to make and act with this intention.
~Julie Parker

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nay·say  (nā′sā′)
tr.v. nay·said (-sĕd′), nay·say·ing, nay·says (-sĕz′)
To oppose, deny, or take a pessimistic or negative view.
nay′say′er n.

Synonyms :
pessimist, doubter, cynic, misanthrope

One who frequently engages in excessive complaining, negative banter and/or a genuinely poor and downbeat attitude. Naysayers are distinguished by their tendency to consistently view the glass half empty, make frequent one-way trips to negative town, and constantly emphasize the worst of a situation. They have the capacity to rant and whine for hours on end.

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Life is hard. There’s no denying it, and I’m finding that it doesn’t get any easier as one ages. In fact, parts of the aging process are even harder. I believe it was the actress, Bette Davis, who said that “getting old is not for sissies.” Well, she was absolutely right! And so like anyone else, I could choose to adopt the victim mentality and take the easy road which to my way of thinking is the one called “pissin’ and moanin’” as they say here in Texas, as it doesn’t require anything but a big mouth and a sour attitude. But what a waste that would be! My parents worked hard so that I could have a better life than they had had and so that I could get a college degree which neither of them had. My dad even fought in a war so that I could retain the freedoms of an American citizen. So after I got my degree, I taught for 31 years in public schools so that I might also be able to help others attain whatever they wanted to achieve. Along the way, James and I got married and eventually had a daughter who we in turn worked hard for so that she too could do and be all that she wanted. As it turned out she went even further than we did when she earned her Ph.D. In all that living and doing there were lots of heartaches and setbacks along the way which we endured and survived. So? Isn’t that true for everybody, more or less. Maybe, maybe not! Let’s add to that mix the death of my father at a early age followed by the onset of daily and sometimes overwhelming physical pain at the age of 25. In fact the last time I had a pain free day was when I was 25 and I am now 74. And so because I’m as human as the next person, after a while I became for a period of time a nay-sayer, one whose mantra became “life’s a bitch and then your die.” But God just wasn’t going to let the story end that way, and so a turning point came and a mentor was sent to help and heal. So it’s all better now, right?! In some ways yes and in some ways no! But’s that’s life isn’t it? At least here on earth! There’s always ups and downs! But what did change, my perspective when I learned to count my blessings and talents, and then realized they were greater than my losses. Now I refuse to let the hardships define me because I’m worthy of more. I’ve earned that by being a survivor but more importantly the Lord sees all of us as being able to be worthy with the choices we make and the things we do to serve Him and His purposes. In a nutshell, I’m just too old, stubborn, and ornery to be defeated now after surviving the hurdles of the past and enduring all the pain. So I choose find joy in each and every day; I choose to serve the Lord and others; I choose to be generous with myself and what I’ve been given, I choose to find and enjoy beauty in this world; I choose not be defined as a naysayer or live as one; I choose to praise the Lord as often as I can; and I choose to continue standing tall and for what’s right as long as I live; for my friends, every day is a gift and an opportunity to make the world a better place. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden…” ~Matthew 5:14  ✝

**Images found on Pinterest

If you have…

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Despite what they have told you, it’s a gift. Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things. If you cry happy tears, you’re emotional. If you express (even if it’s in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you’re sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you’re emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It’s a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others’ situations is a true gift that many people don’t possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone’s negativity towards this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you, if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone’s life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone’s struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs. In a world where a six figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren’t nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other’s so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else’s story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is “you feel too much.” Hmm…

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin’. ~Jennifer VerMeulen https://www.theodysseyonline.com/if-youve-ever-been-called-overly-emotional-or-too-sensitive-this-is-for-you